PDA

View Full Version : Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's: Shadowchasers



Pages : [1] 2

Dark Sage
1st January 2009, 04:34 AM
Hello everyone, and happy 2009. Welcome to my newest Yu-Gi-Oh fanfic, and my foray into the Fifth Dimension of dueling. By that, I mean Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s.

Before I start, a few explanations.

This fic centers on dueling, like most of my fics. And the duels will follow the rules of the OCG and TCG to the letter.

In addition, I am going to attempt a feat that not many fanfic authors have. The duelists in this fic will obey the Forbidden/Limited List as it has stood as of September 2008. Let me tell you, having to outline a duel without using Pot of Greed and Call of the Haunted has been difficult, but the anime has managed to do it, most of the time (and not use Monster Reborn on top of it), so I’m willing to try. If the March 2009 List has any major changes, this fic will not change. I’ll stay with the September 2008 version.

Now a word on the setting. This story takes place in the futuristic city of Neo Domino. We don’t know yet exactly how far in the future this is. According to Godwin, the old Domino City was destroyed, thus creating Satellite, in an accident that happened seventeen years before the show’s timeline started. Also, according to Jack, Yusei was born in the Tops, suggesting that Neo Domino has existed in its current state for at least eighteen years. We can thus likely assume that 5D’s takes place more-or-less twenty-five to thirty years after the events of GX.

We will assume that the duels in this version of Neo Domino use real-life rules, and always have. In relation to the anime, this story begins about two days after the end of the Fortune Cup. For those who don’t know what that means, it means that Yusei has defeated his rival Jack Atlas publicly, gaining a reluctant celebrity status, and Jack has lost his title in the eyes of a very unforgiving media. The Dark Signers have yet to become a major threat, and their group currently only consists of three members. In other words, this story begins in the transition between Season One and Season Two. As this story progresses, the storyline of the anime will progress in juxtaposition. In cases where the anime’s storyline influences the events of this story, I’ll make small notes at the beginning of the chapter.

One thing I can’t help but stress. This fic is completely independent of any of my previous fics. As much as I loved Yumi and her friends, they do not belong in this world. This is a different world entirely. This also means that the restrictions I put on certain cards in Yumi’s world do not apply in this one. (For example, the cards that were referred to as the Dread Council in Soul of Silicon are normal cards in this fic.) This fic still, however, obeys the continuity of the anime regarding cards that are unique in that setting. (For example, only three Blue-Eyes White Dragons exist, and even though Kaiba’s current status is not yet revealed in the time period of 5D’s, those cards are unavailable to anyone but him.)

A note on names: For cards that exist in the TCG, I’ll use the American names, unless I have a good reason not to. For cards that exist only in the OCG, I’ll use the most agreed-upon translation. For anime-only cards, I’ll use either the original name or the dub name, depending on which makes more sense. (Sometimes the dub can, in fact, do better, believe it or not, mostly because something is lost in the translation.) For the names of anime characters, however, when they are mentioned or appear in this fic, I’ll use original names, because that is one area where the dub almost always screws up. When I reference the names of episodes, I’ll use English names, as they are simpler, and the translations of the Japanese names can often be interpreted differently by different American viewers.

As usual, when I use an OCG-only card, anime-only card, or card of my own design (or a card of another fanfic writer’s design), information about it will appear at the end of the chapter. Keep in mind, this is YGO 5D’s, and thus focuses a great deal on the “third generation” of the game. Thus, there will be a lot of attention on Synchro Monsters, and a great deal of cards that American players have never used. (It is up to Konami when, if ever, we get to use them.)

Of special note is the card I will detail here, which is essential to Turbo Duels, a factor that plays an important part of 5D’s. This card is used in every Turbo Duel, without exception:


SPEED WORLD (Spell Card)

Field Spell

Image: An explosion of energy.

Card Description: Each player can have a copy of this card on the field simultaneously. This card is automatically activated at the start of the duel. If you play a Spell Card that does not have the words “Speed Spell” in its name, take 2,000 points of damage. During each player’s Standby Phase, starting on the second turn, place 1 Speed Counter on this card (max. 12 for each player). Reduce your number of Speed Counters by one for each increment of 1,000 Life Points of damage you lose from a single source.


Speed World can even be activated against a player’s will, such as in the case of a criminal being chased by someone using a Special Pursuit Deck. As such, it does not appear to be a true card per se, but rather a virtual card that appears on each D-Wheel whenever a Turbo Duel starts. Other abilities are not mentioned on the card. It apparently cannot be destroyed, displaced, or “bounced” by any action the duelists can make, seeing as it was unharmed by Yusei’s “Speed Spell – Gap Storm”, the effect of which was similar to “Heavy Storm”. However, Speed World still qualifies as a Field Spell for all intents and purposes. (If it didn’t, then Kiryu’s “Earthbound God – Ccapac Apu” would have been powerless when he summoned it, even by anime rules.)

Speed Spells are important factors in all Turbo Duels. To use one, you require a specific amount of Speed Counters, depending on the Spell in question. The more powerful the Speed Spell, the more Counters you require. As a result of this, a deck used in a Turbo Duel tends to have more Trap Cards than usual, to compensate for the inability to use many Spell Cards.

One final thing. I absolutely refuse to use the terms “Release” and “Advance Summon”. The old terms were good enough for me for so long, and I see no reason why I should change them.

Enough with the boring stuff. I’m as eager to turn the page as you are…








Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s



Shadowchasers




A fanfic by Brian “Dark Sage” Corvello



What is this strange thing they call life? Philosophers have been trying to figure that out since the days of Socrates, and they’re no closer to finding the answer now than they were then.

I’m not a philosopher by any means. But I have learned one thing about life in the past few weeks: There are things in it that you can’t take for granted. I mean, you can travel the world, and see the beautiful things it has to offer… The Great Pyramids in Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India, the Grand Canyon in Arizona… You could spend years touring the world’s wonders and mysteries, and you still never see it all. The world hides its greatest secrets.

Who am I? You probably started to read this story hoping to read about some heroic duelist… One with a colorful history, and an equally colorful future… Perhaps one with a destiny that was foretold by some arcane prophesy, or some great power that he holds inside him.

Well, I can’t give you that… All I can give you is myself. My name is Eiko Michiko, and I’m nineteen years old. My friends call me Ember. You might say I was a reluctant hero, but that’s about it. I didn’t start out as a hero… I only started out with potential. But that was okay – it is said that most of the folks in my current situation only started out with potential.

I wish I was more like Yugi Mouto… A human who held the soul of a three-thousand year-old Pharaoh inside him. Or I would gladly take Seto Kaiba’s past as well. Having gone from a poor childhood to being the most powerful man in the gaming industry is pretty exhilarating.

Heck, I would even take Katsuya Jonouchi’s story if he offered to give it to me. Being a kid from the wrong side of the tracks until he was pulled over them to become a duelist with a lucky streak that was hard to break… It sounds kind of romantic when you think about it.

Me? I won’t pretend my life was as interesting as any of them until a few weeks ago. I grew up with happily married parents in a middle class neighborhood, in Neo Domino City, a place that Godwin professes to be the greatest utopia in the world. I was nurtured, educated, and got a decent-paying white-collar job right out of high school.

And dueling? Well, it was nothing more than a hobby, one that I happened to like. D-Wheels? Sure, they looked thrilling, but they also looked too dangerous for me to ever go near.

Life was good, and I had no complaints. Even if my life was a tad routine…

So what happened?

A couple of weeks ago, I started seeing things I had never seen before. I thought I was crazy…

And then someone told me that I wasn’t crazy…

What I was… Was a Shadowchaser…




CHAPTER ONE




http://www.ideal808.com/images/yugioh-dr1-en086.jpg



Where to begin? Well, I guess I’d best begin at the beginning, as my father always said I should. It was four o’clock, the second day after the big event had ended.

By that, I meant the Fortune Cup, naturally. I had seen it on TV, the big dueling competition that had ended in a big surprise, with Jack Atlas being knocked off his throne by Yusei Fudo, a Turbo Duelist whom the media had dubbed “The Shooting Star of Satellite”. My reactions to it were a bit mixed. The new guy wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic as Jack was, but at the same time, I always thought that Jack had been getting a little too big for his britches. As my dad always said, “Pride goeth before the fall”. I think that quote came from the Hebrew Bible.

Anyway, just because the Fortune Cup had ended, didn’t mean that the Pro Dueling circuit had shut down. One duel was happening in a stadium not far from the one where the Fortune Cup was held, and one of the duelists was someone who I would get to know very soon.

I wasn’t watching the duel, however. I heard about it later. It was a work day for me, and I was busy.


At the arena known to dueling fans as Nirvana, the crowd, most of them teenagers, was getting restless. It was five minutes to showtime, and they had been promised the debut of a new contender for the first event.

The new contender was waiting to make his entrance, having just mounted his D-Wheel, and was not happy. He leaned his head on his hand, wishing he was anywhere but here. How did Julius talk him into this?

As he donned his helmet, he looked around, and wondered if there might be any way for him to slip away unnoticed…

“Ladies and gentlemen,” started the announcer. “Dueling fans! Amateurs and professionals alike! Welcome one and all!”

The crowd cheered.

Guess not, thought Shichiro, as the music started.

“And now,” said the announcer, as an engine started, “here trying to make it three in a row, the Flaming Scourge… Misuga Yoichi!”

Shichiro watched as his opponent drove his D-Wheel into the arena. The Wheel had a motorbike design that reminded him of Mukuro Enjo’s, right down to the flame designs.

Copycat players are starting early this year, thought Shichiro.

“Let’s fire this duel up!” called Yoichi to the crowd.

“And now,” said the announcer, “a newcomer, but someone whom we expect big things from… Osaka Shichiro!”

That’s my cue… thought Shichiro. Let’s get this over with…

His D-Wheel started, and he drove into the arena. He didn’t get as many cheers as his opponent did, but it was clear that his D-Wheel was better built. Its black chrome plating and high-tech design made it look like it had been built for more practical uses than dueling for sport (and truthfully, it had).

Shichiro and Yoichi looked at each other. Then their dashboards flashed on.

“Duel mode engaged,” said a computerized female voice. “Autopilot standing by.”

The Speed World card appeared on both of their screens. Then the whole arena changed as it took effect, turning the racetrack into an arena of pulsating energy.

“Countdown initiated,” said the voice.

“Ready… Set… Duel!”

With a roar of engines, the two D-Wheels sped off from the starting point.

“And they’re off!” called the announcer.

That’s what you say at a horse race, thought Shichiro. Can’t this guy get it right?



(Shichiro: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Yoichi: 8,000)


“Time to fry,” chuckled Yoichi, as he made his first draw.

“I summon Sangan!”

As he played the card, a portal opened behind him, and a familiar Monster flew out of it – the spherical, three-eyed Fiend with a toothy mouth. (1,000 ATK)

“Your move, rookie,” he said.

“If I must,” said Shichiro, drawing a card.

He watched his screen, as the Speed Counter for both him and Yoichi rose to one apiece. The speed of his bike picked up slightly, but so did Yoichi’s.

He looked over the hand of cards stowed on the gauntlet on his left arm. Then he chose one.

“I summon Queen’s Knight!” he exclaimed, throwing it on his dashboard.

A glowing portal opened behind him, and a tall, armored figure flew out of it. It was a lady knight dressed in crimson armor, with playing card symbols decorating her armor and shield, her flowing blonde hair reaching to her waist. (1,500 ATK)

Several boys in the audience started to make whistles and catcalls.

“Shichiro has started off strong,” said the announcer. “Anyone who has studied the history of dueling knows where this Warrior can lead.”

“Queen’s Knight, smite his Sangan!” shouted Shichiro.

“YA!” shouted Queen’s Knight, as she made a swipe at the Fiend with her sword. She effortlessly cleaved it in half.

“Why thank you,” chuckled Yoichi. “Now…”

“I know what Sangan does, pal,” said Shichiro. “You get to pull a Monster with a low Attack Score from your deck. I don’t need everything explained to me.”

“Hey, lighten up,” muttered Yoichi, adding a card to his hand.

“Don’t feel like it,” said Shichiro, “but I’ll end my turn anyway…”



(S: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 7,500)


Yoichi drew a card, and both Speed Counters rose to two.

“Think I’ll set a Monster in Defense Mode,” he said, placing a card on his dashboard.

Briefly, a card appeared in front of his bike, and then faded from sight. Shichiro could still see it on his screen, however.

“Your move again, rookie.”

Shichiro drew a card, and both Speed Counters rose to three.

If he keeps calling me a rookie, he thought, I’m not just gonna beat him, I’m gonna hurt him.

“I’d like to remind our viewers that both our duelists have three Speed Counters right now,” declared the announcer. “This is the point where several low-powered Speed Spells could conceivably be played with ease.”

“I summon King’s Knight!” shouted Shichiro.

He threw the card on his controls, and another portal opened. A new knight appeared, this one in golden armor, again with playing card symbols covering it. He had a full beard, and wore a helmet shaped like a crown. (1,600 ATK)

“And when King’s Knight is summoned while Queen’s Knight is on the field, I get to bring out their brother… Come out, Jack’s Knight!”

A third knight flew out of the portal. This one was a young man with long, blonde locks, dressed in sapphire-blue armor, again with playing card symbols adorning his raiment. (1,900 ATK)

“Shichiro has drawn the whole royal flush of Warriors!” exclaimed the announcer. “Yoichi had better hope that his one Monster is a good one!”

Shichiro sped up a ramp, and turned around, and sped towards Yoichi with his Knights following alongside.

“Jack’s Knight, take out his Monster!” he commanded.

Jack’s Knight flew ahead, and raised his sword…

But when he swung, there was a sound of metal striking metal. Shielding itself in front of Yoichi was an android in a football jersey and helmet, crouching as if to receive a blitz. (2,100 DEF)

“Guess my Battle Footballer was too much for him, eh?” asked Yoichi.

Shichiro didn’t answer as he sped past Yoichi. Then he turned around again, and started to follow him.

“Guess so,” he said. “I have to end my turn…”



(S: 7,800) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 7,500)


“Then you’re mine!” laughed Yoichi, drawing a card.

Both Speed Counters clicked up a notch, going to four apiece.

Yoichi placed a card on his Disk, and a portal of flame appeared in mid-air.

What the heck? thought Shichiro.

A huge, demonic creature flew out of the portal. It was a gargoyle-like Fiend, with a mane of fire and flaming wings, holding a burning sword. (1,000 ATK)

“Meet Sangan’s contribution,” laughed Yoichi. “The dreaded Gorlag! This charming creature gains 500 extra Attack Points for each Fire Monster I’ve got, including itself. With Battle Footballer, that’s an extra G added to its score!”

(2,000 ATK)

Okay, so maybe this guy’s a little better than I gave him credit for… thought Shichiro.

“Gorlag, slap his Jack’s Knight!” ordered Yoichi.

Gorlag turned and made a rush at Jack’s Knight, striking him with its burning sword. Jack’s Knight groaned, and shattered.

“Slap his…” replied Shichiro. “Oh, as in slapjack… If you’re trying to be funny, it isn’t working.”

“Here’s something that’s much funnier,” said Yoichi. “Now I get to Special Summon a Monster, and I think he’ll look familiar to you…”

The flaming portal opened on his side of the field again, and another Monster emerged. It was Jack’s Knight. (1,900 ATK)

“I not only get to take any Monsters my Gorlag destroys,” said Yoichi, “I get to change their Attributes to Fire. That means Gorlag itself gets even stronger!”

Gorlag burned even fiercer. (2,500 ATK)

“We’ve seen Yoichi use this strategy in his last two matches,” said the announcer. “The more his Monster battles, the stronger it gets. Does Shichiro stand a chance?”

“Frankly, I’d say no,” replied Yoichi. “And I’m setting two cards facedown to make sure.”

Two set cards briefly appeared behind his Monsters, and then faded from sight.



(S: 7,700) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 7,500)


Shichiro quickly made a draw, and both Speed Counters rose up to five. The speed of his D-Wheel had tripled since he had started, but he didn’t mind. His mind tended to function better the faster he went.

Can’t use this guy now, he thought, adding it to his hand.

“First, I move Queen’s Knight and King’s Knight to Defense Mode,” he said.

Queen’s Knight sheathed her sword and lifted her shield. (1,600 DEF) King’s Knight followed suit. (1,500 DEF)

“Next, I summon Marauding Captain!”

In a flash of energy, a new Warrior flew through the portal: a battle-worn veteran in fancy armor and a cape, holding a sword in each hand. (1,200 ATK)

“By summoning him, I get to Special Summon another Monster from my hand. So I’ll summon Big Shield Gardna in Defense Mode.”

Another Warrior appeared, this one a muscular barbarian. He had no weapon, but true to his name, he had a huge shield, which he crouched behind. (2,600 DEF)

“Finally,” continued Shichiro, “I’ll set one card facedown, and that will be all.”

A facedown card flashed into existence on his side of the field, and then faded.

Yoichi laughed, as he drew a card. Both Speed Counters went up to six.

“Your deck is nothing but Toolbox Warrior!” he laughed. “If I had known you would be so easy, I wouldn’t have stayed sober!

“Just joking, people! I never drink and drive!

“But you’re gonna look pretty punch drunk pretty soon… Now watch my fire!”

He shifted gears, and flames shot out of his exhaust pipes. He swerved to the side, and ahead of Shichiro.

“Jack’s Knight, attack his Marauding Captain!”

Jack’s Knight leapt at the Captain, and swung his sword. The Captain was blasted into pieces.

“Now, my Gorlag attacks your King’s Knight!”

Gorlag swooped at King’s Knight, and made a slash with its burning blade. King’s Knight shattered as well.

Yoichi chuckled, as King’s Knight appeared on his side of the field. (1,600 ATK) Gorlag burned with fury. (3,000 ATK)

“Next round,” he said, “I’m gonna have the whole set. You know what they say… You gotta know when to fold ‘em!

“And I’m still not done with you…”

He took a card from his hand.

“With my Speed Counters this high, I can play Speed Spell – Sonic Buster. This lets me fire a blast with damage equal to half my Gorlag’s Attack Score behind it!”

The Spell Card appeared on his side of the field, and a bolt of pure energy shot at Shichiro. He groaned a little, as his Life Points went down, and his own Speed Counter went down by one.



(S: 5,500) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 7,500)


“My move!” said Shichiro, angrily.

He drew a card. His Counter went up to six, while Yoichi’s went up to seven.

That’s the ticket, he thought.

“And I just drew my Noisy Gnat! But it isn’t a Monster that you summon…”

He tossed it into the discard slot on his dashboard. Behind him, a phantom Insect appeared, holding a boom box that was blasting loud music. Queen’s Knight started to glow with silvery energy.

“By sending Noisy Gnat from my hand to the Graveyard, I can really make some noise, by boosting Queen Knight’s Level from 4 to 5.”

“Big deal!” replied Yoichi. “She can’t beat any of my Monsters no matter what Level she is.”

“Yoichi…” said Shichiro, as the Gnat faded away. “I’m guessing that you have a crackerjack agent who arranged your first two matches with two amateurs in order to make you look good. How much of the purse is he getting? Sixty percent? Seventy?

“If you can’t figure out why I changed her Level, you’re clearly an amateur yourself…”

He played a card from his hand.

“I summon Nitro Synchron!”

In a burst of fire, a small Monster flew onto the field. It was a cute robot, who looked like a propane tank with arms, legs, and a face. (300 ATK)

“Unprecedented!” exclaimed the announcer. “Shichiro just pulled out a Tuner Monster!”

“Tuner?!” exclaimed Yoichi.

“You got it!” replied Yoichi. “Now give Queen’s Knight a tune-up!”

The needle on Nitro Synchron’s gauge moved into the red, and steam blew from its nostrils. It and Queen’s Knight flew to the top of the arena, and turned into seven glowing stars.

“You want fire, Yoichi?” asked Shichiro. “I’ll give you fire! I Tune Queen’s Knight and Nitro Synchron… Synchro Summon… Nitro Warrior!”

A far more intimidating Monster flew down, trailing a wake of flames. It was a demonic-looking Warrior, with green, scaly skin and horns, with a rocket engine on its back. (2,800 ATK)

“Still think I’m running a Toolbox deck?” asked Shichiro. “And since I used Nitro Synchron to summon this guy, I get to draw one card.”

He made a draw.

“Maybe not,” replied Yoichi. “But you still can’t beat me… That guy may be hot, but Gorlag is still hotter.”

“We’ll see about that,” said Shichiro, as a Speed Spell of his own appeared on his side of the field. “I play Dual Vortex!”

“Eh?” asked Shichiro. “What does that do?”

“Works just like Creature Swap,” replied Shichiro. “We both trade a Monster. I’m giving you Big Shield Gardna.”

“Fine!” replied Yoichi. “You can have Battle Footballer!”

The two Monsters vanished, and reappeared on opposite sides of the field.

“You think you could weaken Gorlag by doing that? Nice try!”

One of his Trap Cards lifted up, and spun around.

“I activate DNA Transplant! Now, the Attribute of all Monsters on the field become any I want, and I want Fire. That means Big Shield Gardna is a Fire Monster now, and Gorlag doesn’t lose any points at all.

“And you made a big mistake. What you should have done was switch Gardna to Attack Mode before you played that Spell! Talk about dumb!”

“No Yoichi, my move was very smart,” replied Shichiro. “You see, since I played a Spell Card, Nitro Warrior’s effect activates, and while Gorlag may not lose any points, my Monster gains a few!”

Nitro Warrior glowed with fiery energy. (3,800 ATK)

“Oh… crap…” muttered Yoichi.

“Nitro Warrior…” commanded Shichiro. “Crush his Gorlag with Dynamite Knuckle!”

Nitro Warrior roared, and flew at the Fiend. It slammed both of its fists into Gorlag, and the Fiend groaned before exploding into a burst of smoke.

“You destroyed it!” shouted Yoichi.

“That’s not all,” replied Shichiro. “When Gorlag bites the dust, so do the Monsters you stole with it!”

Jack’s Knight and King’s Knight shattered.

“I’m not done!” continued Shichiro, as Nitro Warrior fell back to an Attack Score of 2,800. “When Nitro Warrior destroys one Monster, and you have a Monster in Defense Mode, he can switch that Monster to Attack Mode and attack a second time!”

Big Shield Gardna put his shield aside, and stood up. (100 ATK)

“NOW do you see why I left him in Defense Mode?”

Nitro Warrior slammed his fists into Big Shield Gardna, and the barbarian shattered. Yoichi groaned in pain and his D-Wheel shook, as his Speed Counter was cut down two points.

“Now, my Trap Card activates!” shouted Shichiro, as his facedown card spun around. “Birthright! This lets me bring a Monster back from my Graveyard, so long as it’s a Normal Monster.”

The portal opened again, and Jack’s Knight flew out. (1,900 ATK)

“And he’s got a score to settle with you, Yoichi! Direct attack!”

Jack’s Knight flew at Yoichi, and slammed his sword down on the front of his bike.

“ERGH!” grunted Yoichi, as his D-Wheel trembled and slowed down even more.

“I’ll set another card facedown,” said Shichiro, as a new facedown card appeared, “and that’s all…”

He shifted gears, and pulled ahead of his opponent, with Nitro Warrior and Jack’s Knight flying to either side, and Battle Footballer bringing up the rear. The crowd was cheering his name at the top of their lungs.



(S: 5,500) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 2,100)


Yoichi fumed as he drew a card, his own Counter rising to five while Shichiro’s rose to seven.

Then he chuckled as he saw what the card was.

“I’m removing Gorlag from play,” he said. “In order to summon my Spirit of Flames!”

A fireball shot onto the field, and a fiery, fiendish creature surrounded by an aura of fire appeared. (1,700 ATK)

Then his other facedown card spun around.

“Then, I activate my Reinforcements Trap Card, to give him a boost.”

(2,200 ATK)

“Is that supposed to scare me?” asked Shichiro.

“No, THIS is!” replied Yoichi. “I sacrifice it, along with all the cards in my hand…”

Spirit of Flames turned into a globe of light…

Then a much bigger portal appeared, and a huge, hulking beast emerged. It looked like a cross between a demon and a fiery, bloated reptile, standing on six legs, with a thick tail, a toothy mouth, spikes on its back, and no eyes. (2,800 ATK)

“My Infernal Incinerator! And guess what? He gains 200 more Attack Points for each Monster on your side of the field!”

(3,400 ATK)

“Go! Barbecue his Nitro Warrior! Majin Hell Burner!”

The huge Fiend opened its jaws… Flames appeared in them…

“As much as I like a good barbecue,” replied Shichiro, “I have to interrupt…”

His facedown card shot up.

“I activate Synchro Back! Nitro Warrior, see you later!”

Nitro Warrior vanished into grains of light. Infernal Incinerator fell to an Attack Score of 3,200.

“Huh?” asked Yoichi. “Where’d he go?”

“Back to my Extra Deck,” replied Shichiro, “where your Monster can’t reach him. So your Infernal Incinerator is going to have to pick a fight with someone else.”

“Fine with me,” chuckled Yoichi. “Attack his Jack’s Knight!”

Infernal Incinerator shot a blast of flames that looked like a furnace exploding. Jack’s Knight was incinerated instantly. Shichiro sweat as his Life Points went down, and his Counter fell to six.



(S: 4,200) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 2,100)


“Shichiro is in a tight spot,” said the announcer, getting excited. “Will he come back? Will he pull through? Will he put out this fire?”

“Will our annoying announcer ever shut his yap?” snapped Shichiro, as he drew a card.

His Speed Counter went up to seven and his opponent’s went up to six. He looked at the card.

“I didn’t tell you about the other effect of Synchro Back, by the way,” he continued. “On my Standby Phase after I use it, the Synchro Monster… Comes back.”

In a burst of flame, Nitro Warrior appeared again. (2,800 ATK)

“Big deal!” laughed Yoichi. “That only makes my Monster stronger!”

“And with my Speed Counters at seven,” continued Shichiro, “I can play Speed Spell – Shift Down!”

The Spell appeared on his side of the field, and his D-Wheel switched gears.

“By purposely reducing my Speed Counters by six, I get to draw two cards.”

He made two draws as his Counter started to plunge, falling all the way to one. The crowd gasped as he quickly started to lose ground.

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen!” laughed Yoichi, looking at Shichiro, who was now behind him. “I’ll run circles around you!”

“Oh, really?” asked Shichiro. “Do I need to remind you what Spell Cards do to Nitro Warrior?”

Yoichi stopped short, as he came to the realization…

“And to finish this,” continued Shichiro, “I’ll summon Axe Raider!”

The portal opened again, and a new Monster leapt out. It was another barbarian, but he was armored, and carried a nasty battle axe. (1,700 ATK)

“Nitro Warrior…” ordered Shichiro, “attack Infernal Incinerator with Dynamite Knuckle!”

Nitro Warrior flew at the huge beast, and his Attack Score rose to 3,800 again. He punched it on the snout, and the Fiend roared before exploding into a burst of flames.

“Here’s some words to live by, Yoichi,” said Shichiro. “You play with fire… You get burned!

“Axe Raider, attack with Axe Crash!”

Axe Raider hollered a battlecry, as he flew at Yoichi’s bike holding his axe with both hands. He slammed the weapon into Yoichi’s dashboard, and Yoichi screamed.



(S: 4,200) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 0)


Yoichi skidded to a halt, with steam pouring from his engine. He uttered a curse as he threw his helmet to the ground in disgust.

Shichiro rode to the center of the arena as the crowd cheered his name. He sighed.

This is embarrassing… he thought.



* * * * * * * * * *


Fifteen minutes later, after being congratulated and unwillingly basking in the admiration of the crowd, Shichiro sat in the green room of the arena, drinking from a bottle of mineral water.

He got up, and looked in the large mirror.

He was quite young, only nineteen, one year younger than the former champion, but a year older than the current one. But he looked somewhat older. He face looked weather-beaten and rough, and his hair had a natural “rolled out of bed look”. Some people asked him how he got his hair like that, but in truth, he didn’t do anything more than roll out of bed. His clothing was equally rugged, with a leather jacket (he had gotten it off the rack) and a pair of jeans (these were a little more expensive, but not by much).

In truth, Shichiro spent more money on necessities other than himself. He had to take care of the important things first. Such as cards. To him, a bad draw could be his last.

He casually opened the pouch on his belt where his side deck was kept, and took out a card. He often checked it to make sure it was still there, as it was his most valuable card. Atlas may have had that Dragon of his, a card that no other duelist could get, but there was no way he could ever get a copy of this. Even if he had stolen it, he wouldn’t be able to keep it; it would refuse to stay with him.

It was a Synchro Monster; most folks would find it odd that he would keep a Synchro Monster in his side deck, seeing as there was still room for it in his Extra Deck. Usually it was there… But he simply could not have kept it there for this farce…

He turned the card around. On the back was writing that only he could see:

“The card you hold is your bond to the path you walk, and the cause you have pledged to. Use it for no purpose except in the service of that cause. Ignorance is not bliss, but knowledge is not power.”

“Hey, Shichiro!” said a voice behind him.

Shichiro grit his teeth in anger.

“Julius…” he growled.

He looked around, and saw a short, balding man wearing a white business suit (which he knew was bought off the rack).

“Shichiro, you’re a hit!” chuckled Julius. “The fans love you!”

“Good for them,” replied Shichiro.

“Look, Shichiro,” said Julius. “I was thinking…”

He took a cigar out of his shirt pocket.

“You light that thing, Julius,” growled Shichiro, “I’ll make you eat it.”

Julius laughed nervously, and put it back in his pocket.

“Look, Shichiro, I’ve been thinking about your future in the Pro League,” he said.

“I already have plans,” replied Shichiro. “Early retirement.”

He put the card back in the pouch.

“Oh, c’mon!” said Julius. “I saw that Synchro Monster you were just looking at… That alien warrior… It…”

“He’s not an alien!” shouted Shichiro.

“Whatever,” replied Julius. “I’ve certainly never seen it before. Why didn’t you use it against Yoichi? The fans like seeing new things, Shichiro. They would have gone nuts!”

“My cards are my business, Julius,” said Shichiro.

“Look, Shichiro,” said Julius. “You stick with me, I’ll bring you to the top. Atlas has been kicked off his throne, and the public hasn’t warmed up to this new kid yet…

“A void has been left in the business… You have potential, kid… Think of yourself, filling that void… Becoming the new champion… Now, if you just showed up here on Saturday to…”

“NO!” shouted Shichiro, with such force that Julius fell over.

Actually, he almost fell over. Shichiro grabbed him by the shirt collar before he hit the floor.

“Oh, I want to be like Jack Atlas!” said Shichiro, sarcastically. “I want to have an inflated head, put out a line of action figures, and call myself stupid nicknames like ‘The Master of Faster’.

“If I had been in charge of Security, I would have had him arrested just for wearing that ridiculous outfit. It’s the only thing he has that’s louder than he is. Face it, Julius, Jack may have been King, but he was a foolish king who built his castle upon a foundation of sand.

“I mean, he was supposed to be the star of the Fortune Cup. What did he do for ninety percent of it? He sat on his duff and watched. And then he dueled the winner and lost. You think I want a career that ends with such humiliation?

“I swallowed my pride and lowered myself to doing this duel for you because I owed you a favor, a favor I never would have owed if I’d have known you’d have asked me to do this. Listen well… I have no desire to fill the void that Atlas left, or start a legacy of my own. To me, the fame and money would be a poor substitute for the loss of my self-respect.

“Nothing you can say or offer will make me show up on Saturday. Tell whoever you promised that I would to find someone else.”

Then he dropped him. He walked out to the garage where his D-Wheel was parked.

He mounted his bike, and strapped on his helmet. He started up the engine.

“Shichiro!” called Julius from behind. “You’re making a mistake!”

Shichiro frowned. He turned the gear shift, and exhaust blasted out of his rear engine, all over Julius.

“Hey!” screamed Julius. “I just had this suit dry cleaned!”

“Then you should have known better than to stand that close to the back of a D-Wheel!” said Shichiro. “Call me… We’ll do lunch!”

The garage door opened, and Shichiro sped out, onto the streets of Neo Domino. He was glad to get out of there.

As Shichiro passed by the business district, the news was being broadcast on several public televisions.

“Concern grows in Sector Security,” said the female news anchor, “as another high-ranking executive linked to the new agricultural project that Godwin announced last month was found strangled to death after apparently working a night shift in his office. Other officials do not know the motive yet for the four murders, nor do they have any suspects. Godwin released a statement saying that he has no idea who would hate these officials so much to resort to murder.”

I gotta hand it to you, Godwin, thought Shichiro, who was listening. When you lie to the press, you can sure keep a straight face. Most folks don’t know it, but the truth is, the list starts with me and goes all the way around the block… Twice.

I really shouldn’t help you find this murderer… But if the boss’s hunch is correct, I just might have to…

In the grand scheme of things… Folks like you are the lesser evils…



Shichiro’s career in the Pro League lasted one day, and ended with a perfect record: one win, no losses, no draws. He never looked back, and never regretted his decision. I’m not sure what ultimately became of Julius, but he likely got in big trouble with some people. I do know he had signed several contracts promising that Shichiro would not only appear Saturday, but several more times for the next four months. Shichiro figured he likely would have, and was smart enough never to sign anything himself, nor did he give anyone his real address, phone number, or any vital information. He never saw Julius again, and if Julius ever tried to reach him, he didn’t succeed.

I didn’t see this duel until I saw a recording that a friend of Shichiro’s made of it when it shown on television. As I said before, I was working that day. Shichiro was working too – technically, he had done the duel on his lunch break.

At the time, I worked for Draco Industries, an international technology company that had its hand in practically everything. The company owned facilities around the globe that manufactured everything from baby food to aircraft parts, and everything in-between. The CEO, my boss at the time, was Anthony Draco, a billionaire tycoon who held power in Neo Domino that may well have been second to Godwin. If anything, more people were on his payroll than were on Godwin’s.

Not that Mr. Draco was a rival of Godwin by any means. He had recently entered a joint endeavor with Godwin – that agricultural project that you heard mentioned, which I think was being started in China.

What did this have to do with me? Well, I didn’t know it… But it seemed I was working too hard, and I was due for a vacation…



GORLAG (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fiend/Effect
Attribute: Fire
Level: 4
ATK: 1,000
DEF: 1,000

Card Description: Increase this card’s ATK by 500 for each FIRE Monster you control. When this card destroys a Monster as a result of battle and sends it to the Graveyard, Special Summon that Monster to your side of the field at the end of the Battle Phase. Monsters Special Summoned in this manner have their Attribute changed to FIRE and their effects are negated. If this card is removed from the field, destroy all Monsters that were Special Summoned by its effect.

Note: “Gorlag” was first used by Amelda in the original anime episode “Déjà Duel! (Part 2)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



SYNCHRO BACK (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: Mist Wurm glowing with green energy as a bolt of orange energy shoots towards it.

Card Description: Return 1 Synchro Monster you control to your Extra Deck. During your next Standby Phase, Special Summon that Monster from your Extra Deck.

Note: “Synchro Back” was first used by Aki in an episode of “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



SPEED SPELL – SONIC BUSTER

Normal Spell

Image: A figure bursting with energy in the background, blasting the energy towards a figure in the foreground.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 4 or more Speed Counters. Select one face-up Monster on your side of the field. Inflict direct damage to your opponent equal to half that Monster’s ATK. You cannot activate this card if your opponent’s Life Points would be reduced to zero by this effect.

Note: “Speed Spell – Sonic Buster” was first used by Ushio in the “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D” episode “Pipe Dreams”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



SPEED SPELL – SHIFT DOWN (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: The image on this card was not shown.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 6 or more Speed Counters. Remove 6 of your Speed Counters and draw two cards.

Note: “Speed Spell – Shift Down” was first used by Yusei in an episode of “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



SPEED SPELL – DUAL VORTEX (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: Similar to “Creature Swap”, with Speed Warrior in place of the warrior, and the energy of “Speed World” in the background.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 4 or more Speed Counters. Each player selects 1 Monster they control and switches control of those Monsters with each other. Those Monsters cannot change their battle positions for the rest of this turn except with a card effect.



Coming up next:

We shed a little light on just who Shichiro is, and just what his purpose is. Plus, we’ll get our first look at our narrator as well. We had a Turbo Duel this time, but next time, Shichiro takes on an opponent on his feet, dueling not to please a crowd, but for the true reason he duels. What might that be? If Shichiro believes the corrupted leadership of the city to be a “lesser evil”, what is the greater?

More will be revealed, in time… Shichiro and those like him are best described as “Hidden Soldiers”, and that’s exactly the name of the next chapter, coming soon.

jkBAKURA
1st January 2009, 01:00 PM
Oh the irony of a first reply from me. Well, I guess a new year means letting go of old feelings.

I made no small stink about the weaker points of your past couple stories, but I must say you're off to a good start.

The Turbo Duel was presented well, and you have a refreshing cast of characters that so far look like they could be right out of a YGO anime themselves. Even the new Sp Spell I would have thought was real had I not noticed the lack of disclaimer at the end.

Story-wise, this seems to be a great setup, and I have to wonder if the cataclismic events of the Earthbound Gods will overlap at any time.

In fact, as a reverse of my normal observations, the low point of the intro was the duel.

Why? well, a couple reasons, and not all of them are your responsibility.

I've been reading WAY too many Warrior decks in fics. My problem I know, but if the new guy is a combination of Russel and Yusei... well, let's just say I may be more focused on the opponent.

Speaking of opponents, the ONLY thing that irked me in this chapter was Tyson's second match all the way back in TYD. Not that it's easy to top, it may have been the best duel in the story, but both Gorlag and the Incinirator were used there as well.

It seems you've been getting creative in your diolouge too. The performances aren't as wooden, and seem to be coming more from the characters then the script. This is especially evident in the discussion of Jack, one of the best diolouge exchanges you've ever written.

Oh, and MAJOR points for keeping the Ban List, though to be perfectly honest, I have the feeling you'll have to give up on that little restriction part way through. From a writer's standpoint I know I couldn't keep up.

Anyhow, looking forward to the next piece, and I wish you luck in keeping the quality this high throughout the entire story.

Happy New Year,

JKB

Shuppet Master
1st January 2009, 01:01 PM
Excellent beginning to the new story, Brian, and happy New Year's to you! ^_^

This was a great first chapter to your fic. I don't mind if you go all Japanese on us with the names, the names are pretty cool regardless. I can dub the names in my head. :)

So we meet our first duelist, Shichiro, who uses a Warrior deck, but not toolbox. Love how he has the Royal Knight trio in his deck.

And nice going showing that fat cat who's the boss! Most duelists would be eager to be superstars, but Shichiro knows that ego is nothing more than a facade.

Love the introduction too. "Oh, I'm not special, just a normal person who was raised well and got a job after high school in some big company... and then THIS happens and rips me from my happy life." WIN.

I can't wait to see who Eiko is and what that Synchro Monster which is reserved for a cause is too. See ya!

Dark Sage
5th January 2009, 08:21 AM
CHAPTER TWO




http://www.ideal808.com/images/sp02-en003.jpg



Like I said, I was still working, even though the shadows were lengthening. And Shichiro was too. He wasn’t ready to go home – home to him was also the place where he worked from – so he was doing a requirement of his job called “patrol”.

And no, he wasn’t a member of Sector Security, as you likely have guessed by now. The criminals he looked out for were ones that Security didn’t know existed. But, they tended to lurk in the same places.

You see, Godwin would have liked everyone in Neo Domino to believe that their city was safe, and that his Security forces had the criminal element under control. But there were still parts of Neo Domino where unsavory folk gathered, who weren’t as bad off as the people in Satellite, but who were still pretty bad off. Neo Domino had plenty of backwater bars, risqué clubs, and houses of ill-repute. To give one example, gangs often met for brutal Duel Monster competitions at a place called the Daimon Area, where the Black Rose Witch was known to lurk after hours. And in places where these people hung out, Shichiro piloted his D-Wheel, looking for the quarry that few suspected was there…



Shichiro drove his D-Wheel down a dark street, casually glancing from side to side as he did. As he turned a corner, a flashing light came on his dashboard.

He hit a control.

“Go ahead,” he said, as a shadowy face appeared on it.

“Shichiro, finish up what you’re doing,” said a voice. “I just got a lead. We’ve gotten a species ID on the killer who’s interested in Godwin’s accountants.”

“About time,” said Shichiro. “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes…”

Then he heard a scream coming from a nearby alley.

“Check that, boss,” he said. “Give me an hour.”

He pulled the bike to a stop. He punched a command on his dashboard.

“Disengaging Duel Disk,” said a computerized voice.

The console quickly transformed into a normal Duel Disk, separated from the D-Wheel, and clamped onto Shichiro’s gauntlet. He watched as a light flashed on the console, indicating that the security system had turned on.

He quickly walked into the alley, where he saw two figures, each of them with Duel Disks of their own. A duel had apparently been fought, that was the normal part.

The not-so-normal part was that the apparent loser, a guy wearing gang colors and a bandana, was on the ground, while the apparent winner, a bigger, burly thug with no apparent colors, was standing above him, threatening him with a baseball bat.

“I said hand it over!” snarled the thug.

“I didn’t make any bet!” screamed the victim.

“I don’t care!” ordered the thug. “You lost, and I want that card! Now hand it over, or you’re gonna get a big headache!”

“He said there was no bet,” said Shichiro, as he walked up, “and I’m willing to bet myself that there wasn’t one. So back away from him right now.”

The thug turned to look at Shichiro.

“And just who are you?” he asked.

“I’m a guy who really doesn’t like thugs who threaten people with baseball bats,” said Shichiro. “Now drop it.”

“Or you’ll do what, tough guy?” asked the thug.

Without waiting for an answer, the thug swung the bat at Shichiro…

Shichiro didn’t flinch. He caught the bat in mid-swing, and wrenched it away from him.

“Tell me something, pal,” asked Shichiro, as the thug looked at him in surprise, “do you have a Boar Soldier in your deck? I’m pretty sure whoever made that card liked people like you.”

Then the thug looked at Shichiro, and noticed something. The look on his face turned to one of fear.

Shichiro turned to the victim.

“Amscray, buddy,” he said, “I’ll handle him.”

The victim didn’t need to be told twice. He leapt up, and ran away quickly.

Shichiro looked at the thug, and tapped the bat against his hand.

“Now listen, pal,” he said, “take it from someone who’s a duelist himself… If you want to get good cards, the proper way to do it is not to threaten people with baseball bats!”

All this looked very strange yes, and it would have been even stranger if the thug’s victim could have seen what Shichiro could see. The victim had seen a large, muscular thug who meant him no good, but he had no reason to believe that the thug was anything but human.

Shichiro, however, saw that the thug was clearly not human.

When Shichiro looked in the thug’s face, he saw a face with porcine features similar to that of a boar, with a sloping, primitive-looking forehead, watery eyes, and sharp teeth that included prominent lower canines that looked like small tusks.

“Look…” protested the creature. “I was only kidding around…”

“Can the BS, pal,” said Shichiro, “because you’re only fooling yourself. You were about to assault and rob a human. As it stands, you’re already committed four minor violations of Section Five of Article Three of the Treaty, and if I hadn’t stopped you, you would have racked up a major one and several in the next Section.”

Then incredible anger appeared in the creature’s eyes.

“You can take your damn Treaty and shove it!” he shouted. “Because I’m gonna…”

And then he stopped short. A piercing glare from Shichiro told him that that had been the wrong thing to say. Big time.

“Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh,” chuckled Shichiro, holding the bat in both hands. “That’s really funny, pal…”

The thug grinned nervously.

Then Shichiro slammed the bat over his knee, breaking it in half.

“What would your chieftain do if I told him you felt that way?” he asked. “He wouldn’t like it, because he knows that if too many members of his clan start thinking they can ‘take the Treaty and shove it’, his life is going to be very unpleasant!

“I know what he’d do… He’d get mad. And when orc chieftains get mad, someone suffers for it. Guess who?

“Maybe I should get on the phone and give him a call… You’re a member of the Horned Skull Clan, right? I can tell from that.”

He pointed to an insignia on the thug’s coat.

“Man, what is it with you guys and skulls?” he asked. “Know what a skull’s purpose is? It’s supposed to protect the brain, something most of you apparently don’t do, seeing as you keep getting in trouble…”

“Please don’t call him!” begged the creature. “I’ve had a bad day, really… I lost a lot playing cards… Regular cards, you know, not Duel Monsters, and I had a little too much to drink, and…”

“Look, pal,” said Shichiro, tossing the broken bat aside. “I know that orcs are warlike by nature. Violence runs in your blood. But let’s face it, in this day and culture, society frowns on that sort of thing…”

He removed his Turbo Duel Deck from his Disk, and placed it in his belt. Then he took a second deck out of his belt (one used for normal duels) and placed it in his Disk.

“But since you seem to be a duelist, we’ll handle this as the Treaty specifies, regardless of your opinion of it.”

“You want to duel me?” asked the orc.

“You got a name?” asked Shichiro.

“Hisao,” replied the orc.

“Well then, Hisao,” replied Shichiro, “if you accept and win, I’ll just walk away and pretend this little incident never happened.”

“And if I don’t?” asked Hisao.

“I’ll decide when that happens,” replied Shichiro.

Hisao sighed.

“Guess I don’t have much of a choice…” he muttered.

He grinned.

“But then again… Maybe this is my chance to royally embarrass a Shadowchaser!”

“True,” replied Shichiro. “That might make you pretty popular in your clan, now wouldn’t it?”



* * * * * * * * * *


Draco Tower, the headquarters of Draco Industries, was a landmark of Neo Domino City. The skyscraper towered over the other buildings of the business district, testament to the power held by the company itself.

In one floor near the apex, a secretary was busy outside the doors to the office of the founder, president, major stockholder, and CEO of the company, Anthony Draco. The secretary was noticeably stressed, as calls had been coming in more and more as the day wore on.

She was dressed rather casual, as her boss didn’t enforce much of a dress code. She simply wore a sweatshirt and a pair of slacks. Her long hair was tied in a ponytail, and was a rich auburn. She had green eyes – her most remarkable feature. If she wasn’t so stressed right now, she might have been considered attractive.

“Mr. Draco’s office,” she said, “please hold. Mr. Draco’s office, please hold. No, sorry, Mr. Draco had to cancel… Please hold…

“I know you’re holding, Mr. Godwin, please hold a little longer…”

Briefly, the calls stopped coming, and she took a deep breath…

Then she looked up. A woman had walked into the entrance hall.

She was a tall woman, with long, raven-black hair in a ponytail that was far longer than Ember’s, reaching past her waist. She wore dark sunglasses, a strapless halter top that resembled a corset, and a very long skirt that reached down to the floor. She didn’t look very happy.

The secretary grinned a very nervous grin…

Inside the office she was holding post by, her boss was pretty stressed himself. He was on the phone in a heated discussion.

He was a man who looked about fifty, trim, with a full head of salt-and-pepper grey hair, and a neatly-trimmed beard and moustache, with slate-grey eyes. He wore a grey, expensive-looking suit (custom tailored, of course) and matching shoes. He may not have set a strict dress code for his employees, but he knew it was important to always look sharp himself.

Most folks would call him handsome, but not when he was angry, like he was now.

“You’re my lawyer, Phil!” he demanded. “You graduated from the Harvard School of Law! Now you do what I’m paying you to do, and figure out a way to get those space cadets to leave me alone. Sue them for bothering me if you have to. I’m losing money every day that I have to delay the project because of them!”

He hung up and held his forehead. Then the pager on his desk beeped.

“Mr. Draco?” said the secretary. “Ms. Hebi-Na is here to see you.”

“ERGH!” growled Draco.

He hit the button.

“You tell Ms. Hebi-Na that I’m not here!” he shouted.

He crossed his arms.

“The last thing I need is to speak to that bitch…”

The pager beeped again.

“Mr. Draco?” said the secretary. “She says she knows you’re here, and she’s not going away until you talk to her.”

Draco sighed. He hit the button again.

“Send her in, Ember…” he said. “And bring a bottle of aspirin in while you’re at it…”



* * * * * * * * * *


“Well,” said Shichiro, staring down his opponent, “I see you’ve decided to face me…”



(Shichiro: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Hisao: 8,000)


“Oh, I sure have,” growled the orc, making his first draw, “and this is gonna be a pleasure…

“I’ll have this defend me…”

A facedown Monster appeared.

“Then I’ll also set a facedown card…”

A reversed card appeared.

“…and I’ll leave it at that…”

Shichiro made his first draw.

“I summon my Warrior Dai Grepher!” he exclaimed.

In a burst of energy, a muscular, armored Warrior, holding a two-handed sword appeared. (1,700 ATK)

“Get his Monster!” shouted Shichiro.

Grepher charged at the facedown card. An odd creature appeared on it, sitting in the lotus position. It looked like some Hindu deity, with six arms and three faces. Grepher slashed with his blade, and it shattered.

“So much for your Asura Priest,” said Shichiro.

“And you took the bait,” chuckled Hisao. “Trap activate…”

His facedown card lifted.

“Vessel of Illusions. Since my Spirit Monster was destroyed, it conjures up a Spirit Token.”

An exact duplicate of Asura Priest materialized, still in Defense Mode. (1,200 DEF)

“I end my turn,” muttered Shichiro.

Hisao laughed loudly, as he made a draw.

“I activate Fiend’s Sanctuary!” he shouted, as a Spell Card appeared. “Now, I get a Metal Fiend Token!”

A small stickman that seemed to be made out of metal beads appeared on his side of the field. (0 ATK)

“Now, I sacrifice both my Tokens…”

The Spirit Token and the Metal Fiend Token both vanished into grains of light…

“To call forth Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi!”

A pit of fire appeared where the two Monsters had been, and slowly, a giant form rose out of it. It was a huge, humanoid figure, wearing a kilt and no shirt, with odd tattoos on its arms. Its scalp was a mass of flames instead of hair. (2,800 ATK)

“Well, that certainly is a powerful Monster,” said Shichiro. “But you do realize, because it’s a Spirit, it will leave when you end your turn.”

Hisao chuckled.

“Not it won’t,” he replied. “Because I’m also summoning a friend of his…”

He flipped a card in his hand around. It was Maharaghi.

“And to do so, I have to remove from play one Spirit in my hand. This one will do.”

He quickly placed the Maharaghi inside his jacket.

“So… I Special Summon Izanagi!”

In a blast of wind, a new Monster appeared. It was a very formal looking man, dressed in a stuffy, white noble’s outfit. He had pure white hair that reached down to his waist, had a sword strapped to his side, and carried a fancy spear. (2,200 ATK)

“With this guy around, Spirits don’t have to leave at the end of the turn where they show up,” laughed Hisao. “And he’s no slouch in a fight himself. So why dontcha show him, Izanagi?”

Izanagi rushed at Grepher, and jabbed at him with his spear. Grepher burst.

“Now that I’ve taken care ‘a him, Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi is gonna take care ‘a you! Attack directly! Hellish flame fist!”

Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi cackled, and aimed a punch, hitting Shichiro squarely. Shichiro maintained his footing, but he did cringe a little.



(S: 4,700) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 8,000)


“I and end my turn,” chuckled Hisao. “And you gotta toss your whole hand before you draw because of my Monster’s effect. So dump ‘em!”

Shichiro frowned, and discarded the five cards in his hand – Hayabusa Knight, Command Knight, Jack’s Knight, Synchro Boost, and Freed the Brave Wanderer.

Then he drew a card. He looked at it.

“I set this Monster,” he said, placing it on his Disk, “and that will be all.”

A facedown Monster appeared.

Hisao laughed as he drew a card.

“What more could ya do?” he asked. “Look like I’ll be done with this in time to get to the watering hole in time for happy hour!

“I summon Susa Soldier!”

In a burst of lightning, a man in oriental plate armor, holding a fancy sword with tattoos on his face appeared. (2,000 ATK)

“Time to finish you off! Crush his Monster!”

Susa Soldier slammed his sword down, and a shockwave ripped towards the facedown card…

Then, an elf in green and brown armor and a helmet holding a longsword appeared on the card. He blocked the energy blast with his blade, and knocked it aside. (1,200 DEF)

“HUH?” gasped Hisao. “Obnoxious Celtic Guardian??”

“Oh, that’s right…” said Shichiro. “Orcs don’t like elves that much, right? Well, you’re not gonna like this guy that much. He can’t be destroyed by Monsters that have 1,900 Attack Points or more. And look at that… All three of your Monsters have more than 1,900 Attack Points.”

“How could anyone have been so lucky?!” screamed Hisao.

“In my business, there’s no such thing as luck, Hisao,” said Shichiro. “Are you through with your move?”

Hisao growled, and took a card from his hand. He placed it on his Disk, and it appeared facedown.

“NOW I am. Don’t forget, so long as Izanagi is here, my Spirits don’t have to leave at the end of the turn where they’re summoned.

“And I’ll tear down that barrier soon enough…”

“There’s only one Spirit that I know of who’s both strong enough to beat my Monster’s Defense, and weak enough to destroy him,” replied Shichiro. “Asura Priest. I realize it’s a powerful card, and you likely have three copies, but one of them is already gone, and Spirits can’t be Special Summoned.

“I draw…”

He drew a card.

“And it goes facedown…”

A facedown card appeared on his side of the field.

“Your move…”

Hisao growled as he drew a card.

Then he chuckled as he saw what it was.

“I play an Equip Spell!” he exclaimed. “The mighty Sword of Kusanagi!”

“And if you can tell me the significance of that name,” replied Shichiro, “I will eat my Duel Disk.”

Hisao paused, as a large sword appeared in Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi’s hand.

“Ah, who cares?” he said. “All I know is, it gives the Spirit Monster who has it a trampling effect. So who cares if your elf can’t be destroyed?

“Attack!”

Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi flew at the Guardian, sword-first.

“I activate… Defense Draw!” shouted Shichiro, as his facedown card flipped up. “This reduces the damage I would have taken to zero, and lets me draw one card.”

As Obnoxious Celtic Guardian fended off the blow, Shichiro made a draw.

Hisao growled again.

“I end my turn!” he scowled.

Shichiro made a second draw.

“I set one Monster, and one facedown card,” he said.

A concealed Monster and a reversed card appeared.

“Your move…”

Hisao glared at him as he drew a card.

“There is no way in Hell that your facedown card could be another Defense Draw!” he shouted. “Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi, attack his elf again!”

The huge Spirit slammed his sword into the Guardian, and Shichiro grunted a little.

“Izanagi, attack the other Monster!”

Izanagi flew at the facedown Monster. Queen’s Knight appeared on the card, and screamed before she shattered.



(S: 3,100) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 8,000)


“So what are you gonna do now?” asked Hisao.

“Are you quite through?” asked Shichiro.

“Make your move,” replied Hisao.



* * * * * * * * * *


Ember was more nervous than she had been in a long time. This wasn’t the first time that this Hebi-Na woman had come in to see her boss, and every time she appeared, she made her flesh crawl. Of course, she had been within her rights to see him this time – she had made an appointment.

Right now, Ember heard the sounds of a heated argument inside the office. She could only hear bits and pieces, but it was clear that her employer was angry.

Then he stuck his head out the door.

“Ember, make a fresh pot of coffee, please,” he said with a sigh. “We’re going to be here a while…”

He went back in, where the strange woman was waiting.

“You really picked a bad time to come,” he said, sitting down. “I’m up to my neck in problems with this new project that Godwin and I are working on, which incidentally, he’s only financing. I’m doing all the real work.”

“So, what’s the problem?” asked Hebi-Na.

“Lunatics,” replied Draco. “A group of environmentalists who would try even PETA’s patience are objecting to me clearing the land in that Chinese province so I can even begin construction. Three times now, they’ve dug up some archaic law that they claim states I’m not allowed to do it, and each time I have to wait for the court to rule in my favor before I can start, only for them to present a new one!

“What these tree-huggers don’t realize is, I’m doing it all for the benefit of people like them… My soybean plantations alone are going to give them all the tofu they can eat.”

“I prefer food that’s more solid,” said Hebi-Na.

“Yeah, I know about your… tastes…” muttered Draco.

Ember came in with the coffee pot. She set it on the desk, and went to get a set of cups.

“The one thing I just can’t fathom is…” started Draco.

Then Ember got so nervous, she tripped and fell. One of the coffee cups smashed to pieces.

“Ember?” said Draco. “Are you all right?”

Ember took some deep breaths.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Draco…” she stammered, as he bent over her.

She looked at Hebi-Na.

“Forgive me, but… Lately, some people who come in here… They give me cold chills…”

Draco gave a strange look at Ember, then gave an even stranger look at Hebi-Na.

“You know,” said Hebi-Na with a frown, “I think I’ll leave…

“Don’t bother, I’ll show myself out…”

Ember and Draco watched as she left, closing the door behind her. Draco breathed a sigh of relief.

“Thank you, Ember,” he said, “you kept my headache from turning into a migraine…”

He helped her up.

“Now, Ember…” he said, “I’d say that you’ve been working too hard, and the stress is getting to you… I’d tell you to go home early tonight, but unfortunately, I simply can’t… I have to be back here at eleven o’clock to make a conference call to some people on the other side of the world, and I need you to finish my presentation.”

“I’ll be staying late to work on it Mr. Draco,” replied Ember. “I just needed to catch my breath…”

Draco watched as Ember left the room and then picked up the phone.

“Custodian’s office?” he said into it. “Send someone up here with a dustpan and broom…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Shichiro made a draw. He looked at it.

“Trap Card, activate,” he said, as his facedown card lifted. “Birthright. Now, I get to bring Jack’s Knight back from the Graveyard.”

In a flash, Jack’s Knight appeared, holding his sword aloft. (1,900 ATK)

“Big deal,” replied Hisao. “He only has 1,900 Attack Points.”

“That’s why I’m going to sacrifice him,” replied Shichiro, as Jack’s Knight vanished. “To Special Summon… Turret Warrior!”

A much bigger Monster rose in Jack’s Knight’s place. It looked more like a Rock than a Warrior, with thick limbs made of brick. (1,200 ATK)

“Ha!” laughed Hisao. “That’s even worse.”

“Oh, really?” asked Shichiro. “When Turret Warrior is summoned like this, it gains Attack Points equal to the amount that the Warrior I sacrificed had. You can add, can’t you?”

(3,100 ATK)

“Erk!” gulped Hisao.

“Turret Warrior… Clobber his Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi!”

Turret Warrior made a powerful punch with its mighty fist, and the huge Spirit groaned in agony. It exploded in a flaming burst.

“Ergh…” muttered Hisao.

“I didn’t mention…” he said. “When a Monster gets trashed when it has the Sword of Kusanagi, the Sword goes back to my hand!”

Sword of Kusanagi slipped out of his discard slot, and he added it to his hand.



(S: 3,100) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 7,700)


“Mind if I ask a question?” asked Shichiro.

Hisao looked at him.

“Why Spirit Monsters?” asked Shichiro. “Aren’t they a little… formal, for someone like you?

Hisao gave him a dirty look.

“Why?” he asked. “Because a ‘savage humanoid’ can’t have a deck that isn’t full of crude and bestial brutes?

“Look pal, in ancient times, everyone thought that folks like us weren’t capable of any strategy more advanced than ‘Scream and charge’. Well, it was a bad stereotype then, and it is now. We’re smarter than everyone thinks, and we’re more than capable of complex strategies.”

“Sorry…” muttered Shichiro. “Maybe I was fooled a little by the fact that you were about to cave that guy’s head in with a baseball bat.”

“My move…” muttered Hisao, drawing a card. “I’m still way ahead of you.”

He looked at the card he had drawn.

“I play Akashic Record,” he said, as a Spell Card appeared on his side of the field. “You aren’t the only one who can draw extra cards. Now, I get to draw two of them. The catch is, if either of them has been used before now, I don’t get to keep them.”

He made two draws.

He held them forward, revealing them to be Mirror of Yata and Yamato no Kami.

“Seems I get to keep them,” he said. “Next, I move Susa Soldier and Izanagi to Defense Mode.”

Susa Soldier sheathed his sword, and then knelt in a defensive position. (1,600 DEF) Izanagi knelt and held his spear to his side. (1,000 DEF)

“Next, I play Shien’s Spy.”

He played a Spell Card, and a mysterious looking woman appeared, dressed in Japanese peasant’s clothes, a straw hat, and carrying a bundle on her back.

“This moves my Monster to your side of the field for one round.”

Susa Soldier vanished, and reappeared on Shichiro’s side of the field, still in Defense Mode.

“What’s the point?” asked Shichiro.

“I’ll show you,” said Hisao, as his facedown card lifted. “The Trap Card, Legacy of Yata-Garasu. Normally, this lets me draw one card. But, if my opponent has a Spirit Monster on his side of the field, I get to draw two cards.”

He made two draws, and looked at them.

“I’m ending my turn, so that means I get my Monster back…”

Susa Soldier reappeared on Hisao’s side of the field.

Shichiro drew a card.

I’ll save this, he thought.

“My Guardian moves to Attack Mode,” he said, as Obnoxious Celtic Guardian stood up. (1,400 ATK)

“Destroy his Izanagi!” he shouted. “Silver blade slash!”

Celtic Guardian leapt up, and slammed his sword into the Fairy. Izanagi was blown apart in a blast of pixels.

“Turret Warrior, destroy Susa Soldier!”

Turret Warrior punched the Spirit, and Susa Soldier burst in an explosion of sparks.

“I end my turn…”

“My move…” growled Hisao.

He drew a card.

He quickly played it, setting it on his Disk, and a facedown Monster appeared.

He nodded.

Shichiro made a draw.

“I activate the Spell Card, Reinforcement of the Army,” he said, as a Spell Card appeared on his side of the field. “Now, I can take a Warrior from my deck up to Level 4.”

He looked through his deck, and chose a card.

“And here she is… Warrior Lady of the Wasteland.”

In a burst of energy, a female Warrior appeared, one with a strange sense of fashion. She wore a halter top, short skirt, leather boots, a tattered black cape, and a wide-brimmed hat with a feather stuck in it. A longsword was strapped to her back. (1,100 ATK)

“Heh, heh, heh,” chuckled Hisao. “Quite the fashion statement…”

“This from a race that’s fond of ritual scarring,” replied Shichiro. “Turret Warrior, destroy his facedown Monster.”

Turret Warrior rushed at the facedown card. A beautiful woman appeared on the card, one who wore a flimsy skirt and halter, velvet gloves, and had long hair tied in braids. She shrieked as Turret Warrior’s fist hit her and she shattered.

“You just activated Otohime’s special effect,” said Hisao. “I can move one of your Monsters to Defense Mode.”

Turret Warrior knelt down, and then crossed its arms over its chest. (2,000 DEF)

“But not all of them…” said Shichiro.

Obnoxious Celtic Guardian hit Hisao with his weapon, and he grunted.

Then Warrior Lady of the Wasteland drew her sword, and flew at Hisao. She shouted a cry as she made a slash at him. He screamed in pain.



(S: 3,100) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 5,200)


“Gee, Hisao,” said Shichiro, “I thought orcs prided themselves on being tough. You’re saying you can’t take the phantom pain that a Duel Disk causes? How do you expect to take the real pain that your race is so used to?”

“Maybe the blasted Treaty that we all had to agree to has made us all soft,” growled Hisao.

“That’s nonsense,” replied Shichiro. “I never stray from the Treaty, and everyone who knows me says I’m tougher than steel!”

“My move…” grunted Hisao, drawing a card.

He smirked as he looked at it.

“You know, it isn’t entirely true that Spirits can’t be Special Summoned,” he said. “One very powerful Spirit can only be Special Summoned. And to do it, I gotta remove one Spirit in my Graveyard from play…”

Asura Priest slipped out of his discard slot, and he placed it inside his jacket.

“So, I Special Summon Yamato-no-Kami!”

In a fiery burst of dark flames, a wild-looking man appeared in front of Hisao. He wore only a pair of white trousers, and his muscular torso was covered with ugly tattoos and strange jewelry. In addition to his human arms, six crustacean limbs protruded from his back. (2,200 ATK)

“I’ll also Normal Summon Izanami,” he continued.

He played the card, and a wave of soft, blue energy appeared on the field. A woman who seemed to be dressed in a feminine version of Izanagi’s royal raiment appeared, looking at Shichiro with a serene smile. (1,100 ATK)

“Next, I activate her effect,” said Hisao, “I toss one card…”

He discarded Sword of Kusanagi.

“…and I get a Spirit Monster back from my Graveyard.”

Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi slipped out of his discard slot, and he took it.

“Next, I give Yamato here a new Equip Spell – the Mirror of Yata. By giving it to him, he doesn’t leave the field when this turn ends.”

Yamato-no-Kami glowed with eldritch energy.

“All right… Yamato, attack Turret Warrior with dark crushing grip!”

The spires on Yamato-no-Kami’s back transformed into tentacles, and lashed forward, grabbing Turret Warrior, and squeezing it until it shattered into bits.

“Izanami, attack his Warrior Lady!”

Izanami flew at Warrior Lady of the Wasteland. Warrior Lady frowned. She drew her sword, and rushed to meet the attack…

Both duelists braced themselves, as both Monsters exploded.

“You activated Warrior Lady’s effect!” exclaimed Shichiro. “I get to Special Summon an Earth-Attribute Warrior from my deck with 1,500 Attack Points or less.

“So let’s see… Think I’ll summon Big Shield Gardna…”

In a burst of light, the burly Warrior in hide armor, holding a huge shield appeared in front of Shichiro. (100 ATK)

“Eh…” sighed Hisao. “I end my turn…”

Shichiro drew a card.

Sweet, he thought.

“I summon… Rose, Warrior of Revenge!” he shouted.

A burst of flames shot out of the ground, and a fierce-looking woman leapt out of it. She was dressed in a tight, black leather combat outfit with a white scarf around her neck, had green eyes and red hair tied in a long ponytail, and carried a long saber. (1,600 ATK)

“Hold on!” gasped Hisao. “That’s a Tuner Monster!”

“She sure it!” replied Shichiro. “That means I can use her to summon something better.

“GO!”

Rose closed her eyes… And then she opened them, and they burned like flames. She and Obnoxious Celtic Guardian leapt into the sky, trailing wakes of fire. Both Monsters dissolved into grains of light, and turned into eight shimmering stars.

“I Tune Rose and Obnoxious Celtic Guardian!” exclaimed Shichiro. “Synchro Summon… Colossal Fighter!”

A huge Monster leapt down on Shichiro’s side of the field with a roar. It was a giant Warrior, covered with cybernetic armor, his eyes covered with a green visor. (2,800 ATK)

“And Colossal Fighter has a powerful ability,” continued Shichiro. “For each Warrior in both Graveyards, he gains 100 more Attack Points.”

Warrior Dai Grepher, Rose, Warrior Lady of the Wasteland, Turret Warrior, Obnoxious Celtic Guardian, Hayabusa Knight, Jack’s Knight, Command Knight, Queen’s Knight, and Freed the Brave Wanderer appeared behind Colossal Fighter. He glowed with energy as they vanished again… (3,800 ATK)

“Flatten Yamato-no-Kami!” shouted Shichiro. “Mega-knuckle!”

Colossal Fighter lunged at the evil Spirit, and slugged at him with his fist. Yamato-no-Kami screamed, and staggered back a few steps, but it didn’t shatter.

“Forgot to mention,” said Hisao. “When a Spirit is attacked when it has Mirror of Yata, it doesn’t bite the dust… The Mirror does!”

“But you still take damage,” replied Shichiro.

“Ergh…” muttered Hisao.



(S: 3,100) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 3,600)


“I move Gardna to Defense Mode, and end my turn,” said Shichiro.

Big Shield Gardna knelt, and crouched behind his shield. (2,600 DEF)

Hisao was sweating heavily. He drew a card.

Then he laughed.

“I summon my second Otohime!” he exclaimed.

He played the card, and another Otohime appeared. (0 ATK)

Colossal Fighter struggled, and then knelt in Defense Mode. (1,000 DEF)

“Next,” he said, “I play my Double Summon Spell Card. This lets me make a second Normal Summon this turn.

“So, I sacrifice Otohime and Yamato-no-Kami…”

The two Spirits disappeared into orbs of energy.

“…and guess who’s back…”

Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi reappeared. (2,800 ATK)

“And to make sure he sticks around… I’m Equipping him with a second Mirror of Yata! You can never have too many…”

The huge Spirit glowed with energy.

“Now, destroy his Colossal Fighter! Hellish flame fist!”

Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi lunged forward, and struck Colossal Fighter. The giant shattered.

“Your shield-boy is next!” laughed Hisao.

Shichiro closed his eyes.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I didn’t mention that Colossal Fighter has another effect. When he’s destroyed in battle, I get to Special Summon any Warrior from either Graveyard.

“And, since Colossal Fighter himself is a Warrior…”

Colossal Fighter appeared again on Shichiro’s side of the field, and this time, he looked angry. (3,800 ATK)

Hisao gulped.

“You’ve got no more cards to play, so it’s my turn,” said Shichiro, drawing a card.

He looked at the two cards in his hand. He took the one that he had been saving.

“I play The Warrior Returning Alive,” he said, playing it. “Now, I get to recover one Warrior from my Graveyard.”

A card slipped out of his discard slot, and Colossal Fighter fell to an Attack Score of 3,700.

“Now I summon him… Freed the Brave Wanderer!”

In an aura of pure light, a soldier in shimmering armor appeared. He resembled the famous Freed the Matchless General, but somewhat younger, and more radiant. (1,700 ATK)

Then, both Queen’s Knight and Jack’s Knight appeared behind Shichiro in phantom form.

“Freed has a powerful ability,” he said. “I simply have to remove from play two Light Monsters in my Graveyard, and he can destroy any Monster who’s stronger than he is. And if my math is right, 2,800 is greater than 1,700.”

The two phantoms behind him vanished, as Freed glowed with blinding light. Hisao slunk back in fear. Colossal Fighter fell to an Attack Score of 3,500, while Freed made a slash with his blade. Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi groaned, and then burst into an explosion of pixels.

“Freed, attack directly with brave sword attack!”

Freed rushed at the orc, and made a deep cut down the torso with his broadsword. Hisao screamed again.

“Colossal Fighter… Finish this. Direct attack!”

Colossal Fighter roared, and slugged the orc in stomach, and Hisao fell backwards from the impact. He was knocked back ten feet, and fell prone.



(S: 3,100) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 0)


The Monsters vanished. Shichiro walked up to Hisao, who was crying.

“Please…” he sobbed. “Please don’t tell my chieftain… I’ll do anything… Anything you say… I’ll…”

“Pathetic…” muttered Shichiro. “And you call yourself an orc…”

He turned around.

“Seems that you were nothing more than a coward. Letting you live as one is punishment enough.

“But know this, Hisao… I’ll have my eye on you… So think twice before you decide to try to mug another human… You never know when a Shadowchaser will be watching.”

He walked away, as Hisao grit his teeth and glared after him.

“Ooh, this isn’t over pal…” he grumbled.

“I heard that,” said Shichiro’s voice from the darkness, startling him.



* * * * * * * * * *


Hebi-Na stood in a dark room. In front of her was a screen, with a shadowy face on it.

“This isn’t good, and you know it, Hebi-Na,” said the image on the screen. “You know how it goes…

“First they get cold chills and strange feelings. Then they start seeing things. And before long, their eyes open to the truth.

“We simply cannot have someone like that in the position she is in. We must do away with her before Jalal finds her.”

“This isn’t some corporate tycoon you’re talking about, pal,” said Hebi-Na, as she took out a nail file. “If I’m going to use my talents to target some secretary, I want triple the regular fee.”

The face on the screen stared at her.

“Hebi-Na, you’re only using that as an excuse to get more money,” it said. “What do you care about the status of a target?”

“I don’t have to answer that, and I’m not gonna,” replied Hebi-Na, as she filed her nails.
“Triple the regular fee, or get someone else. Can you find someone who’s as skilled as I am and as… discreet?”

“Fine!” growled the figure. “But use a gun this time. Too many of Godwin’s men have been strangled… The last thing we need is Sector Security thinking the same killer is after Draco’s employees too.”

“Humph…” said Hebi-Na. “Much as I hate resorting to such… crude methods, I suppose I could do that…

“It will be done tonight by the time the moon sets…”

She turned and left the room.



I had no idea that Hebi-Na was an assassin, even if she was creeping me out. And the reason she was making me uneasy wasn’t the fact that she simply looked bizarre, with her dark glasses and strange sense of fashion. You see, I could swear I saw or heard strange things when I was around her. When I looked at her out of the corner of my eye, I saw her differently for a brief instant. There were times when I heard her talk when she seemed to roll her S’s more than she should have. And sometimes she didn’t seem to walk so much as she seemed to slither.

I had thought I was going nuts, and had been for weeks now. I saw things like this frequently. I tried to tell myself it was due to the late hours I was putting in at work, which I was doing frequently because I wanted more overtime pay to save up for my vacation, which was long overdue.

But soon, very soon, I would get an explanation from somebody… And all it would take was for him to save my life…



VESSEL OF ILLUSIONS (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: A golden water basin overflowing with water.

Card Description: Activate this card when a Spirit Monster you control is destroyed as a result of battle. Special Summon one “Spirit Token” in Attack or Defense Position. A “Spirit Token” has the same Type, Attribute, Level, ATK, and DEF of the destroyed Monster.

Note: “Vessel of Illusions” was first used by Noah in the original anime episode “Noah’s Final Threat (Part Two)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



AKASHIC RECORD (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: A dinosaur skull lying with a few bones.

Card Description: Draw two cards from your deck. If a copy of either card has been used previously in the duel, remove both from play.

Note: “Akashic Record” was first used by Johan (possessed by Yubel) in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” episode “The Ultimate Face-Off (Part Two)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



Coming up next:

Shichiro may not seem like the typical knight in shining armor, but next chapter, he still has to save a maiden from danger, as Hebi-Na’s identity is revealed. And she’s far more dangerous than Hisao was. More introductions will be made along the way, and in case you were wondering about that special Synchro Monster that Shichiro has, he may get a chance to use it next chapter. Be here next for “Shadowslayer”.

jkBAKURA
5th January 2009, 10:55 AM
You know, it's not often that one of your minor opponents becomes memorable enough that I want them to become a major character, but if you don't have plans for Hisao to duel again, I wouldn't complain if you made them. (if for nothing else then to use the final Royal Treasure)

The fight at the beginning was a bit of a... standard confrontation, and the diolouge in spots was corny, but the charcters themselves and the rest of the story portion (which I'm actually reading) filled in quite well.

Even minor things like Hebi-Na's discription made a fun and dangerous sounding character to watch, but I can't help but think that you may have tipped your hand too soon. It might have been funner to keep us wondering about her for a few more chapters.

The tortured uninterested rougue is a far cry from your standard "let's do it!" style of main character, but saddly, this chapter didn't give him much to do.

Hopefully Hisao, or some other supporting characters, will give Shichiro something to play off of.

On a final note, I thought for sure that Colossal Fighter WAS the "alien" Synchro. Guess I'll have to keep trying. It's not a custom card is it?

Dark Sage
5th January 2009, 11:05 AM
Uhm, yes it is, actually. The "alien" warrior (who is not an alien at all) is the signature card of the group Shichiro belongs to, and is unique to them. It is a card I created myself. You'll see him use it next chapter.

And don't worry, Hisao will return. I already made plans for that. But not for a little while. There's a lot to do before he shows up again. I liked him a lot myself, and I don't want to see him swept under the rug.

And Shichiro will have a lot to do in upcoming chapters. This chapter was just meant to be a small look at the world through his eyes, and a hint at what he can see.

Shuppet Master
5th January 2009, 12:36 PM
And it looks like Ember might end up as one of those Shadowchasers, which is why Hebi-Na(who is obviously a monster too) tries to kill her. This is going to be an interesting story, Brian. Keep it up.

Dark Sage
8th January 2009, 07:24 PM
CHAPTER THREE




http://www.ideal808.com/images/fet_en024.jpg



The role of a secretary is one that most people overlook. I’ve heard that, in the States, they have a National Secretary’s Day in April, which is something I would have loved to have. Let me tell you, as someone who used to be one, the job requires you to do more than just type and answer the phone.

Not that I ever had a real reason to complain about my job. It paid well, I was on the company medical and dental plans, and Mr. Draco wasn’t the worst person to work for. But maybe I just wanted more recognition. I wrote most of the presentations he made from data that people had collected, I arranged his schedule, I handled his finances, and I kept the solicitors away from his office. Some would even say that I was in charge of covering up any mistakes that he made, although I’d have never said that to his face.

A secretary is a vital part of any office, so my position on Mr. Draco’s staff was a vital one. And maybe I held a bit of resentment that it was a position that was often taken for granted.

And that resentment started to rise, as I worked into the evening alone, in the computer lab twenty floors below his office…



Shichiro drove into the garage of a townhouse – a rather upscale one that looked like it wouldn’t have come cheap, as was the case with most of the surrounding buildings.

As he parked his D-Wheel, someone came out to meet him. It was a muscular man wearing a white t-shirt and jeans, with short, black hair. He had a tattoo of the goddess of justice (a winged, robed, blindfolded woman holding a sword in one hand and a balance in the other) on his right bicep.

“Shichiro…” he said, in a worried tone. “It’s about time you got here… You know it isn’t smart to keep the boss waiting…”

“C’mon, Gears, he’s been in this business a long time,” replied Shichiro. “I don’t think he’s gonna fire me…”

The two of them walked into a comfy-looking lounge, full of expensive furniture, with a fire burning in the fireplace. The fire never went out, and never needed tending or fuel. They didn’t know exactly how it worked, only that the boss needed it here for some reason.

As they sat down on the couch, a tall figure materialized in front of the fire. He looked transparent, which made sense, seeing as he was a holographic projection. (He was actually in a different part of the world right now, where he directed a global organization that Shichiro was only a part of. The hologram was his way of being in multiple places at once.) The figure was well-dressed, although his clothing was very outdated, and he had sharp, very feral features, and long, pointed ears. His skin was richly tanned, and his hair was a rich blonde, almost to the point of being gold.

“What’s up, Jalal?” asked Shichiro.

“Cordial as ever,” said the figure, in an accent that was clearly British. “I’m glad you finally got back, because we may not have much time.”

“You IDed this killer?” asked Shichiro.

“Its race, as least,” replied the figure. “It’s clearly an ophidia.”

“Makes sense,” replied Shichiro. “Strangles with its tail, right?”

“More than likely,” replied the figure. “I have no idea what interest it has in Godwin however, but we intend to find out.

“And the same tipster that gave me this information has told me that it has a new target.”

“Then why am I sitting here talking shop?” asked Shichiro, getting up.

He started to head back for the garage.

“Wire the info to my bike,” he called over his shoulder. “I’ll bring this guy in…”

“Be careful, Shichiro!” called Jalal. “Do this by the book for a change! You know how dangerous these things can be!”

He sighed.

“He’s so impulsive…”

“Better impulsive than careless,” sighed Gears.



* * * * * * * * * *


“Ugh…” muttered Ember. “This coffee is terrible…”

She sighed as she sipped it.

“…but at least it has caffeine…”

She turned back to the computer screen.

“Let’s see…” she said. “Second quarter profit earnings… Gross average of forty-four million yen…”

Then she stopped short. She realized that this was going to be given on a conference call to some group in London.

“Better find the exchange rate for the British pound…” she muttered, as she typed onto a website. “Give a comparison…”

She sighed as she inputted the data.

Five minutes later, she hit the save button, and then hit the print command.

As the printer churned out the document, she leaned back in her chair and held her head.

Then, she took something off of the desk. It was a deck case. She took out the deck and looked at the cards. She sighed.

Why can’t work be more like dueling? she thought. I just wish I had a little variation… A little extra spice to my life… It would help so much…

She didn’t see Hebi-Na silently creep up behind her. The assassin pulled a revolver out of a shoulder holster, and quietly placed a silencer on the muzzle of the weapon…

Ember was lucky that she had chosen that exact moment to look back at the screen. If she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have seen Hebi-Na in the reflective surface, pointing the weapon at her.

Her next move was directed mostly by panic-fueled adrenaline. She dropped to the floor, just as the shot fired.

Hebi-Na pointed the gun for a second shot as Ember scurried under the desk.

“Omigod, Omigod, Omigod…” muttered Ember.

“Oh, please, He can’t help you now,” said Hebi-Na. “Now come out from under there and face me standing up.”

“Really easy for someone holding a gun to say, huh?” said a voice.

Hebi-Na turned around in surprise, and saw Shichiro standing there.

She frowned. And then she smiled.

“Heh, heh…” she chuckled. “So… One of you finally found me, huh?”

“I don’t think it’s very funny,” said Shichiro. “So, whoever is behind this is using a female assassin?”

“Is that a problem?” asked Hebi-Na, smiling broadly.

Ember was shocked as she watched, and saw Hebi-Na’s smile…

She had fangs…

“Not really,” replied Shichiro. “I’ve always been equal opportunity.

“And you can shed your skin, by the way. You don’t fool me.”

Hebi-Na shrugged. Ember watched as she took off her sunglasses. That was when the next shock came. Her eyes were green and reptilian.

Then the biggest shock came when she undid a cord that held her skirt up, and let it fall to the floor. She had no legs. Her entire body below her waist was a long serpent’s tail. She seemed to be some combination of woman and snake. Ember was now starting to wonder if she was truly insane.

The oddest part was, this stranger who was confronting this creature was taking this bizarre situation as if it happened every day.

“So,” said Shichiro. “You’re an assassin… May I ask who you’re working for?”

“An exceptional person,” replied Hebi-Na.

“Right,” said Shichiro. “You have a choice then…”

He held his Duel Disk out in front of him.

“You can surrender and make it easy, or you can duel…”

Hebi-Na chuckled. She put the gun in the holster, and then produced a Duel Disk of her own.

“Where’s the fun in easy?” she asked.

What the? thought Ember. She had a gun… Why did she put it away?

“Truthfully, I’ve been hoping one of you would show up,” said Hebi-Na. “The money I’ll get for this hit is nothing once the other ophidia find out I took one of you down… I’ll be treated like a queen.”

Shichiro looked over at Ember.

“Just stay there, miss,” he said. “I’ll handle her… And don’t try calling anyone for help. The signal on this floor is probably jammed anyway.”

“Less talk,” said Hebi-Na. “I’m eager to duel now, and then have dinner after…”

She smiled again, again showing those fangs. Shichiro flinched a little. That comment could have had several possible meanings when coming from an ophidia…



(Shichiro: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Hebi-Na: 8,000)


“You certainly aren’t a lady,” said Shichiro, “but I’ll still let you go first…”

Hebi-Na made her first draw.

“Well, look at that,” she said, looking at it. “I summon Lamia in Attack Mode.”

She played a card, and a creature materialized in front of her. It looked like a reptilian woman, with long, blonde hair, scaly skin, and the lower body of a snake, similar to Hebi-Na. (1,300 ATK)

“She kind of looks like me,” she said. “But I’m much cuter.”

“Oh, please,” said Shichiro. “If some lame Reptile is the best you’ve got, this is going to be over quickly.”

“I’m not done,” continued Hebi-Na. “Next, I’ll throw down two facedown cards.”

She fit two cards into her Disk, and two reversed cards appeared behind Lamia in two flashes of light.

“Then, a Continuous Spell…”

A Spell Card flashed into existence, showing the picture of a glowing serpent rising out of a swamp.

“It’s called Swamp of the Dragon Snake, and it lets me Special Summon a low-Level Reptile from my deck at every one of my End Phases. But there’s a little catch… I have to Special Summon it to your side of the field.

“Okay… I’m ending my turn… And I think I’ll give you my Poisonous Viper!”

In a burst of energy, a small, green, venomous snake appeared on Shichiro’s side of the field. (100 ATK)

“Thanks…” muttered Shichiro, sarcastically. “You’re too kind…”

He drew a card and looked at it.

“Forgot to mention,” said Hebi-Na, “as its name suggests, that Viper is incredibly poisonous. Each time you start your turn with it on your side of the field, you lose 500 Life Points.”

Shichiro winced, and held his throat, as an aura of sickening green energy surrounded him.

“I figured it was something like that,” he said. “First, I’ll move it to Defense Mode…”

Poisonous Viper curled up in its coils. (200 DEF)

“Then, I’ll summon Obnoxious Celtic Guardian!”

He played a new card, and the elven Warrior appeared, flashing his sword. (1,400 ATK)

“I don’t have much in my hand to help him,” he continued, “but I’ll change that… I play the Spell Card, Card Destruction.”

A Spell Card appeared on his side of the field.

“Now, we must each fold our hands, and draw an equal number.

“Fine with me,” replied Hebi-Na.

She discarded her Heavy Storm and Shield Crush, and made two draws. Shichiro discarded Millennium Shield, Micro Ray, Warrior Dai Grepher, and Jutte Fighter, and made four draws.

“Much better,” he said.

He fit a card into his Disk.

“I Equip him with Jeweled Sword!”

Obnoxious Celtic Guardian’s sword vanished, and a new, fancier one appeared in his hand. (1,700 ATK)

“Combined with his effect, only a select few Monsters can defeat him in battle now.

“Attack her Lamia!”

The Guardian made a slash with his blade. Lamia screamed, and then shattered into triangles.

“HA, HA, HA, HA!” laughed Hebi-Na. “I can’t believe you took the bait!”

“Huh?” said Shichiro.

Then he noticed that Hebi-Na had activated one of her facedown cards.

“I used Lamia as a sacrificial lamb to use my Trap Cards,” she said. “First, Damage = Reptile. Now, when I take damage from a battle involving a Reptile, I get to summon a new one, so long as its Attack Score isn’t more than the damage I took. So, I’ll summon Venom Cobra to defend me.”

In a burst of energy, a rocky, earthen-brown cobra appeared on her side of the field, sitting on its coils. (2,000 DEF)

Then her second facedown card lifted.

“I also activate… Snake Whistle! Now, I get to Special Summon another Reptile, so long as it’s Level 4 or less. So I’ll summon my Black Mamba.”

In another burst of energy, a large, venomous snake appeared, with olive-green scales and a hood. (1,300 ATK)

“A bit of trivia,” she said. “The black mamba is the second largest venomous snake in the world, second only to the king cobra. But while it’s second in terms of size, it’s first in terms of speed. Some have clocked specimens at speeds of twelve miles per hour. Don’t think you can outrun this guy.

“But records aside, it is feared widely, as it has one of the deadliest venoms of all snakes.

“And by summoning Black Mamba, I get to change the battle position of one of your Monsters, so I think I’ll move your Poisonous Viper to Attack Mode.”

The Viper sprang up into an attack stance. (100 ATK)

Shichiro grunted. He looked at his hand.

“I’ll toss this facedown,” he said, “and that will be all.”

A facedown card flashed into existence.



(S: 7,500) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 7,600)


Hebi-Na quickly made a draw.

Ember, meanwhile, looked at Shichiro. She noticed something – a sword was strapped to a sheath on his back.

Still, that really didn’t explain why Hebi-Na had put the gun away…

Kind of like taking a knife to a gunfight, she thought.

“I summon Gagagigo!” shouted Hebi-Na.

She played a card, and a tall lizard man with sharp claws and a long tail appeared. (1,850 ATK)

“You said that only a select few Monsters can defeat your elf now,” chuckled Hebi-Na. “Fortunately, Gagagigo fits the criteria.

“Gagagigo, attack Obnoxious Celtic Guardian!”

The lizard man leapt at the Warrior, and made two slashes with his talons. Obnoxious Celtic Guardian gasped, and shattered.

“You may have defeated him,” replied Shichiro, “but since he was armed with my Jeweled Sword, I now get to draw one card.”

He made a draw.

“Good for you,” replied Hebi-Na. “Black Mamba, attack his Viper!”

Black Mamba hissed, and slithered across the field, striking the smaller snake and swallowing it whole. Shichiro cringed in pain.

“I move to my End Phase,” continued Hebi-Na, “and use my Swamp of the Dragon Snake. So you get another Poisonous Viper.”

Another of the small Snakes appeared on Shichiro’s side of the field. (100 ATK)

“I just love to share…”



(S: 6,150) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 7,600)


Shichiro drew a card. Then he winced as the poisonous aura surrounded him again.

“I move this snake to Defense Mode…” he muttered.

Poisonous Viper curled up, just like the last one did. (200 DEF)

“Then, I set a Monster, and one facedown card.”

A hidden Monster appeared. Then, a facedown card appeared next to the other one.

“Then, I activate Birthright!”

His first facedown card lifted, and Warrior Dai Grepher appeared, holding his sword in front of him. (1,700 ATK)

“Let me tell you a little story,” he continued.

“Does it look like my bedtime?” asked Hebi-Na.

“You know, snake,” continued Shichiro, “there was a legend among Samurai warriors… The legend stated that the first Samurai were actually trained swordsmanship by goblins. Even the great Minamoto Yoshitsune made this claim.

“This may have only been a legend, but then, how do you explain one ancient katana blade that adorned the halls of one feudal lord’s castle? It was known as the Goblin Sword… The Sword of Tengu!”

He played a card from his hand, and another Equip Spell appeared. Grepher’s sword vanished, and was Equipped with a glowing katana. (2,000 ATK)

“Destroy her Black Mamba!” shouted Shichiro.

Grepher charged at the large snake, and with one swipe, cleaved it in half.

“Ergh…” muttered Hebi-Na.



(S: 5,650) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 6,900)


At this moment, Ember noticed something else about Shichiro. A small mark was on his right cheek, that looked like a jagged line.

A criminal mark? she thought.

“I activate the effect of Damage = Reptile!” shouted Hebi-Na. “I summon a second Venom Cobra!”

Another of the defensive Reptiles appeared. (2,000 DEF)

“Then it’s your move, snake,” said Shichiro.

Hebi-Na hissed, and drew a card.

“I move Gagagigo to Defense Mode…” she said.

Gagagigo knelt, and shielded himself with his arms. (1,000 DEF)

“Then, I sacrifice one Cobra…”

One Venom Cobra vanished…

“To bring out Giga Gagagigo!”

With a roar, a much bigger Reptile appeared. It looked like a hulking, more muscular version of Gagagigo, garbed in metal armor. (2,450 ATK)

“I end my turn,” she said. “And I use my Swamp to give you my third Poisonous Viper!”

Yet another Viper appeared on Shichiro’s side of the field. (100 ATK)

That’s odd, thought Shichiro. She didn’t attack, even though Giga Gagagigo is clearly stronger than Grepher…

He drew a card.

But I’ve got a bit of leeway…

“And now you lose 500 Life Points twice!” laughed Hebi-Na.

Shichiro groaned as an even more intense aura of poison surrounded him.

He gestured, and the second Viper curled up in Defense Mode. (200 DEF)

“Grepher, destroy Gagagigo!” he shouted.

Grepher made a swipe with his blade, and the Reptile exploded.

“That’s all for my turn,” he said. “At least you’re out of Vipers…”



(S: 4,650) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 6,900)


“Indeed,” chuckled Hebi-Na, drawing a card.

“I summon Skreech,” she said.

She played the card, and an odd-looking Reptile appeared. It had only two limbs connected to its lizard-like torso, and its head, if you could call it that, was little more than a tube-like mouth with teeth. (1,500 ATK)

“And what’s that going to do?” asked Shichiro.

“It’s going to attack Grepher,” replied Hebi-Na.

“HUH?” said Shichiro.

Skreech shot a blast of water from its mouth. Grepher swatted it aside, and Skreech exploded.

“You’re probably wondering why I purposely destroyed my Monster,” said Hebi-Na, taking her deck from her Disk. “Well, when Skreech is destroyed by battle, I get to send two Water Monsters from my deck to my Graveyard.

“So, I’ll discard two more Skreech.”

She selected the two cards, and then discarded them.

What sort of odd strategy is this? thought Shichiro, as she reshuffled.

“Now then…” replied Hebi-Na. “Giga Gagagigo, attack Grepher!”

The huge Reptile roared, and leveled a punch at the Warrior. He groaned, and shattered.



(S: 4,650) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 6,400)


“Huh?” said Hebi-Na. “You didn’t lose any Life Points…”

“You think that the Sword of Tengu was just a glorified Legendary Sword?” asked Shichiro. “It has another effect – it reduced the damage I took to zero.”

“Then make your move…” muttered Hebi-Na.

Shichiro drew.

He groaned as the Vipers burned him again.

“Actually,” he said, adding it to his hand, “I choose to end my turn without making any move…”



(S: 3,650) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 6,400)


Hebi-Na laughed, and made a draw.

“Well I’m certainly not gonna pass!” she laughed. “I sacrifice my other Cobra…”

The second Cobra vanished.

“…to summon Urubonus, the Avatar of Malice!”

A very large snake with black scales, and horns on its forehead appeared where the Cobra had been. (2,000 ATK)

“Urubonus here has a special effect,” she said. “When it attacks, the target loses 300 points from both its scores.

“So, Urubonus, attack his facedown Monster! Malicious strike!”

Urubonus hissed, and lunged at the facedown Monster. Then, Big Shield Gardna appeared on the card. (2,600 DEF)

Gardna’s Defense Score fell to 2,300, but it was still to much for Urubonus. Its fangs bit into his shield, and then it slunk away, shaking in pain.

Then Gardna stood up, holding his shield aside. (100 ATK) Hebi-Na laughed.

“Your Gardna moved to Attack Mode!” she laughed. “That means he’s easy prey for my other Monster!”

Giga Gagagigo rushed at the barbarian.

“Guess again,” said Shichiro, as his facedown card lifted. “I activate Ready For Intercepting. This moves Gardna right back to facedown Defense Mode, just in time to take the hit.”

Gardna vanished, and was replaced by a facedown Monster. As Giga Gagagigo swung his fist, Gardna reappeared in Defense Mode again. The Reptile’s fist struck the shield. The Reptile cried out in pain and shook his sore fist.

Gardna stood up into Attack Mode again.

Hebi-Na fumed.

“I end my turn!” she pouted.



(S: 3,650) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 5,950)


Shichiro drew a card. Then he groaned as the two snakes burned him again.

He looked at the card he had drawn.

That’s the sweet spot… he thought.

“I sacrifice both Poisonous Vipers…” he said.

The two snakes dissolved into mist…

“To summon Gilford the Legend!”

With a roar, a huge, hulking Warrior appeared. He was dressed in black, decorated armor, and a long, flowing, red cape, with a mask over his eyes with two forward-pointing horns. Rich, red hair cascaded down his back. He held a mighty sword that was almost as big as he was, and two more swords were slung to his back. Hebi-Na slunk back in surprise. (2,600 ATK)

All right! thought Ember. He not only got rid of those nasty Vipers, he summoned a powerful Monster!

“And due to his effect,” continued Shichiro, “He has access to all Equip Spells in my Graveyard. That means both Jeweled Sword and Sword of Tengu are Equipped to him.”

The two Equip Spells appeared behind Gilford. (3,200 ATK)

“And to clinch the deal,” he continued, playing another card, “I’m giving him another one. Synchro Boost. This raises his Attack Score by 500, and his Level by 1.”

(3,700 ATK)

“Destroy her Avatar of Malice!” commanded Shichiro. “Legendary blade!”

Gilford made a mighty cut, and the snake was cleaved in half. Hebi-Na groaned in pain.

All right! thought Ember. He’s gonna win! I guess I’m not doomed!

“Once again!” shouted Hebi-Na, “I use the effect of Damage = Reptile!”

She gestured, and a third Venom Cobra appeared on her side of the field. (2,000 DEF)

“I move Gardna back to Defense Mode,” said Shichiro, as Gardna crouched behind his shield again. (2,600 DEF)

“It’s your move, snake.”



(S: 2,650) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 4,250)


Hebi-Na made a draw. She looked at it. It was Nobleman of Crossout. She looked at the other two cards in her hand, which were a second Damage = Reptile and Destruction Jammer.

“I’ll just move my Monster to Defense Mode, and that will be all,” she said.

Giga Gagagigo moved into a kneeling position, and crossed his arms. (1,500 DEF)

“You’re up to something,” said Shichiro, as he drew a card.

He looked at the Trap Card and added it to his hand.

“And I don’t like it…”

He pointed, and Gilford cleaved Giga Gagagigo in half.

“Make your move…”

Hebi-Na drew a card.

Then she smiled an evil smile, showing those fangs again.

“Enough play time,” she said. “Time to die…

“I just drew the queen of my deck… But to summon her, I have to remove from play every last Reptile in my Graveyard and on the field from play…”


Continued…

Dark Sage
8th January 2009, 07:25 PM
Continued from last post:


Cards started spilling out of her discard slot. Then the Venom Cobra in front of her vanished.

“Having done that,” she said, placing them all in a pouch by her side, “I can summon… Evil Dragon Ananta!”

Then, an explosion blasted on her side of the field. From out of it, a titanic form rose. It looked like the classic Grecian Hydra, although that myth most often described it as a giant snake with nine heads. This one had only seven, and one of them seemed dominant. The dominant head on this Monster had fin-like gills on the sides and wore a golden tiara.

“Ananta’s Attack and Defense Scores are equal to 600 for each Monster I just removed from play to summon her,” continued Hebi-Na. “And in case you haven’t been keeping track, I had one Venom Cobra on the field, while my Graveyard had three Poisonous Vipers, three Skreech, two other Venom Cobras, Lamia, Gagagigo, Giga Gagagigo, Black Mamba, and Urubonus, the Avatar of Malice, for a total of fourteen.

“Multiply it. That equals a big number!”

“Quite…” muttered Shichiro, looking up at the huge serpent…

(8,400 ATK)

Eighty-four hundred Attack Points? thought Ember. That thing could defeat the God Cards! It could even beat Slifer after it was subjected to Slifer’s effect…

“Ananta,” said Hebi-Na, with a serene smile. “Attack Gilford, will you? Infernal venom blast!”

Ananta blasted a bolt of glowing, green energy at Gilford the Legend, and Shichiro shielded himself as his Monster was blown to atoms.

“Well?” shouted Hebi-Na. “Fall down! You should have no more Life Points!”

Shichiro glared at her.

“Take another look…” he said.



(S: 2,650) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 4,250)


“How…” started Hebi-Na.

“You forgot that Gilford had the Sword of Tengu,” replied Shichiro. “It reduces the battle damage to zero, remember? It doesn’t matter how many Attack Points your Monster has.”

Hebi-Na glared back at him.

“He also had Jeweled Sword,” said Shichiro, “which means I get to draw one card.”

He made a draw.

“I set one card facedown!” shouted Hebi-Na, as she threw a card into her Disk.

“Then I move to my End Phase, which means I can activate Ananta’s other effect, and destroy any card on the field. That means your Big Shield Gardna is history!”

Ananta breathed her venom blast again, and Gardna exploded.

Just try to beat me, she thought. You can’t possibly defeat Ananta in battle… And if you try to destroy her with a card effect, my Destruction Jammer will foil your plans.

Shichiro drew another card.

“I play Nightmare’s Steelcage!” he shouted.

In a burst of energy, a large, iron, domed cage appeared around Hebi-Na and her Monster.

“Get used to the bars,” he said.

“It’s pointless,” said Hebi-Na. “You forget that Ananta’s effect can tear this cage down.”

“No, I didn’t forget,” replied Shichiro. “But you can only do that during your End Phase, making me safe from her attack for one whole round.

“In the meantime, I’ll summon Queen’s Knight!”

He played a card, and the lovely female Warrior appeared, looking sternly at Hebi-Na. (1,500 ATK)

“I’ll also set a card facedown, and that will be all.”

A reversed card appeared behind Queen’s Knight.

“My move!” shouted Hebi-Na, drawing a card.

She looked at the card. It was her Creature Swap.

Definitely not, she thought, adding it to her hand.

“I move right to my End Phase,” she said, “and use Ananta’s effect to destroy your cage!”

The Steelcage shattered into shards of metal.

“My move…” said Shichiro.

He drew a card.

“I summon King’s Knight!” he shouted.

In a burst of radiant energy, King’s Knight appeared. (1,600 ATK)

“And that lets me summon… Jack’s Knight!”

In another burst, Jack’s Knight appeared next to his siblings. (1,900 ATK)

“And I end my turn.”

Hebi-Na grinned as she drew.

She looked at the card. It was Dust Tornado.

She smirked slightly.

So what’s the facedown card? she chuckled. Mirror Force? Sakuretsu Armor?

Boy, is he gonna be surprised…

“Ananta, attack his Queen’s Knight!” she shouted. “Infernal venom blast!”

Ananta breathed her vile attack. Shichiro shielded himself as Queen’s Knight was vaporized.

“You triggered my Trap!” shouted Shichiro, as his facedown card lifted. “Spirit Force!”

“Huh?” said Hebi-Na. “Spirit Force? What does that do?”

“The first thing it does is reduce the damage I would have taken from that attack to zero,” said Shichiro. “Then, I get to recover a Monster from my Graveyard. Of course, it has to be a specific kind of Monster… A Warrior who’s also a Tuner, who has 1,500 Defense Points or less.”

“Hold up,” said Hebi-Na. “You haven’t got any Tuners in your Graveyard…”

“Oh no?” asked Shichiro. “You clearly forgot that I played Card Destruction at the start of this duel…”

A card slipped out of his discard slot, and he took it.

“Fine!” shouted Hebi-Na.

She fit the card she had just drawn into her Disk, and it appeared facedown.

“I move to my End Phase, and use Ananta’s effect. Let’s see… Eenie, meenie, minie, moe… Destroy Jack’s Knight!”

Ananta blasted her breath again, and Jack’s Knight was blown to bits.

With Dust Tornado set, she thought, I can destroy his next Trap Card as soon as he sets it. I can’t lose.

“I hope you enjoyed that…” growled Shichiro. “That was your last move…”

Ember felt a surge of energy coming from Shichiro as he made his draw.

“I play Pot of Avarice!” he shouted, playing the card.

The goofy jar appeared, and five cards – Queen’s Knight, Obnoxious Celtic Guardian, Warrior Dai Grepher, Big Shield Gardna, and Gilford the Legend slipped out of his discard slot. He shuffled them into his deck, and made two draws.

He looked at the two cards.

“All right, snake,” he said. “This is the round you go down.”

“Just try it,” said Hebi-Na, with an evil grin.

Shichiro sighed, and looked at her.

“You’re planning to protect Ananta with Destruction Jammer, right?” he asked. “Or My Body as a Shield? Well sorry, but neither one can protect her from what I’m about to do.”

“HA!” laughed Hebi-Na. “I’d like to see you try to defeat Ananta in battle right now!”

“Be careful what you wish for,” replied Shichiro. “First, I play Monster Reborn!”

The holy ankh appeared, and Jack’s Knight reappeared on his side of the field. (1,900 ATK)

“Then,” he continued. “I play Silent Doom, to bring back something else I tossed with Card Destruction…”

He played the card, and the legendary Millennium Shield appeared next to Jack’s Knight. (3,000 DEF)

“Now, I toss Noisy Gnat from my hand, which boosts Millennium Shield’s Level from 5 to 6.”

He discarded the card, and the Insect with the boom box appeared behind him. The Shield glowed with energy.

“Now then, I summon the Tuner Monster… Jutte Fighter!”

As he played his last card, a small Monster leapt onto the field. It was a short, funny-looking man, wearing a plain kimono and thick eyeglasses, his hair tied back in a topknot, carrying what looked like a water cooler on his back. True to his name, he was armed with a jutte (a blunt dagger with a single prong). (700 ATK)

“HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!” laughed Hebi-Na. “Cute!”

“Cute and dangerous,” replied Shichiro. “Once per turn, Jutte Fighter here can move one of your Monsters to Defense Mode.”

Jutte Fighter jabbed with his weapon, and Ananta curled up in a Defensive Position. (8,400 DEF)

“Big deal!” shouted Hebi-Na. “Her Defense Score is the same as her Attack Score – unbeatable!”

“We’ll see…” replied Shichiro. “Jutte Fighter is also a Tuner Monster, in case you forgot.

“So let’s go…”

The card slipped out of his Extra Deck. The card. Shichiro’s heart always skipped a beat as he was about to play this card, and he was sure that the feeling was the same for everyone else in his position. This card was what made him what he was… It was what defined the path his life had taken…

Millennium Shield lay flat, and Jutte Fighter hopped onto it. Then he rode it towards the ceiling like a flying carpet. Ember opened her eyes wide…

Both Monsters dissolved into eight shimmering stars. The stars started to form into a tall shape…

The Monster that appeared had the same facial features and hair as the odd person who had debriefed Shichiro at the townhouse. But he was now wearing the armor of a heroic knight, with a shield with a golden dragon painted on it in his left hand, and a gleaming longsword in his right.

“Behold…” said Shichiro. “The Synchro Monster… Jalal the Dragonborn!”

(2,600 ATK)

“Humph…” muttered Hebi-Na. “He may be powerful, but he’s not even close to being strong enough to take down my Monster…”

“Jalal has a special effect,” replied Shichiro, “which I can use once per round, by paying half my Life Points. Having done so, I can remove from play a Spell or Trap from either Graveyard…”

A red aura surrounded him, as his Life Point counter fell. His own discard slot glowed, and a card slipped out of it.

“Once I do that, Jalal gains something called a Rune Counter…”

Jalal’s sword glowed with golden energy, and a strange sigil appeared on it.

“Then, by expending the Rune Counter, Jalal can use the effect of the Spell or Trap I removed from play, as if it was his own effect.

“The card I removed from play was this one…”

He held a Trap Card up.

“Micro Ray!”

Hebi-Na gasped.

“But that means…” she said.

Jalal became shrouded with magical energy.

“It means your Monster’s Defense Score is about to go from unbeatable, to pathetic,” said Shichiro.

Ananta roared in rage. (0 DEF)

“King’s Knight!” shouted Shichiro. “Slay her Dragon!”

King’s Knight let out a war-cry, and leapt at the huge Reptile. He smote off her central head with one swipe. The rest of Ananta shuddered, and then crashed, exploding into pixels.

“No…” said Hebi-Na, in fear.

“Jack’s Knight, direct attack!” ordered Shichiro.

Jack’s Knight made a slash at the ophidia with his sword, and she hissed in fear and rage.



(S: 1,325) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 2,350)


“Jalal, finish her off!” shouted Shichiro. “Sword of the ancients!”

Hebi-Na screamed as the mighty blade cut her down the middle.

She collapsed.



(S: 1,325) - - - - - - - - - - (H: 0)


“No…” she cried. “I… I can’t lose…”

She looked up, and saw that Shichiro was walking up to her, holding something that looked like a large, glowing sapphire.

“Look, can’t we work something out?” she pleaded. “I know people!”

“Tell it to the judge,” said Shichiro. “For now, you’re under arrest for the premeditated, first-degree murders of four humans, and the attempted murder of a fifth.

“My advice to you is, when you get there, start spilling your guts as to who hired you.”

The gem started to glow with far more intensity, and Hebi-Na screamed…

Then, she simply vanished.

Shichiro sighed, and put it away.

“Omigod, Omigod…” shouted Ember, running up to him.

“It’s okay,” said Shichiro. “You’re safe… She…”

“She was a snake!” screamed Ember. “What was she?”

Shichiro looked shocked. He looked at Ember.

“You… You saw what she really was?” he asked.

“Yes…” said Ember. “She… she was a snake… She looked like something her Disk would have summoned…”

Shichiro looked at her.

“Ho… boy…” he said.

He reached into his pocket.

“Oh no…” said Ember. “Did I see something I shouldn’t have? Are you going to put on a pair of sunglasses and then flash a light in my eyes that’s going to make me forget this whole thing happened?”

Then she saw that what Shichiro was taking out of his pocket was only a cell phone. He hit a speed dial number on it.

“Gears?” he said. “Yeah, it’s me. Yeah, I took care of it, but we have a problem…

“Yeah, her victim survived, she’s unhurt, and it seems she’s an Aware. A really potent one.”

“Aware?” said Ember. “What’s going on?”

“Yeah, I’ll be a while,” said Shichiro, into the phone. “Heck, this might benefit us in the long run.”

He looked at Ember for a few seconds.

Then he drew the next card off his deck.

It was Rose, Warrior of Revenge.

He looked at Ember again. He started to rebuild his deck.

“How did I see her for what she was if I wasn’t supposed to?” asked Ember. “How could you?”

“I could see her true form because I’m a Shadowchaser,” replied Shichiro.

“And apparently… So are you.

“Have you eaten dinner tonight yet?”

“Are you asking me out?” asked Ember, almost laughing.

Shichiro held her by the shoulders, gently.

“Not technically,” he said. “You see… uhm, may I ask your name?”

“Ember…” said Ember, nervously.

“Ember then…” continued Shichiro. “You deserve an explanation, and it will take too long for me to do it here… I can’t simply leave you without one…

“Your eyes have opened to the truth… And no matter what you do… They will never close again…”

Ember looked at him with a nervous glance.

“I’ll… get my coat…” she said.


You might find this hard to believe, but my initial meeting with Shichiro wasn’t the worst first date I had ever been on. The one that was… Well, it may not have started with someone trying to kill me, but it did end with me sneaking out of the restaurant out the lady’s room window. A story for another time.

Anyway, my “first date” with Shichiro, if you can call it that, included up to this point me getting my first full look at a Shadowkind, and him saving my life. I was glad that he had saved my life, but after what he had said to me before we left, I wondered what sort of life I would be going back to. How had my eyes opened? What was the truth? Was the world under the control of some evil entity like in The Matrix? Did aliens live among us like they did in Men in Black? And just what was a Shadowchaser? I certainly never remembered joining any group with that name…

I wanted to find out… If Shichiro hadn’t asked me out, I would have likely followed him. Fortunately, he had every intention of telling me…



URUBONUS, THE AVATAR OF MALICE (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Reptile/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 5
ATK: 2,000
DEF: 800

Card Description: When this card declares an attack, the ATK and DEF of the attack target are decreased by 300 during the damage step only.



BLACK MAMBA (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Reptile/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 3
ATK: 1,300
DEF: 1,000

Card Description: When this card is successfully Normal Summoned or Special Summoned, switch the battle position of 1 face-up opposing Monster.



POISONOUS VIPER (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Reptile/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 1
ATK: 100
DEF: 200

Card Description: During the Standby Phase of this card’s controller, the controller of this card takes 500 points of damage.



LAMIA (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Reptile
Attribute: Earth
Level: 3
ATK: 1,300
DEF: 1,500

Flavor Text: A demon that combines the features of a snake and a woman. Countless men have been lured to their dooms by its deceptive face.



SWAMP OF THE DRAGON SNAKE (Spell Card)

Continuous Spell

Image: A swamp with a glowing serpent rising out of its waters.

Card Description: During each of your End Phases, you may Special Summon a Level 4 or lower Reptile-Type Monster from your deck to your opponent’s side of the field.

Note: The proceeding five cards were all used by Seika Kohinata in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” Manga. Creative credit goes to the writers.



JEWELED SWORD (Spell Card)

Equip Spell

Image: An armored glove holding a sword point-down, glowing with golden energy.

Card Description: Equip only to a Warrior-Type Monster. Increase the ATK of the Equipped Monster by 300. If the Equipped Monster is destroyed, draw one card.

Note: “Jeweled Sword” was first used by Gokaido in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” episode “Champion or Chazz-Been”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



SWORD OF TENGU (Spell Card)

Equip Spell

Image: A katana sword with the hilt shaped like a fanged face.

Card Description: Equip only to a Warrior-Type Monster. Increase the ATK of the Equipped Monster by 300. Battle damage you take from a battle involving the Equipped Monster is reduced to zero.



JALAL THE DRAGONBORN (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Warrior/Synchro/Effect
Attribute: Light
Level: 8
ATK: 2,600
DEF: 2,400

Card Description: Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner Monsters

This card cannot be Special Summoned except via Synchro Summon. Once per turn, during your Main Phase, you can pay half your Life Points to remove from play 1 Normal or Quickplay Spell or 1 Normal or Counter Trap from either Graveyard to place 1 Rune Counter on this card (max. 1). At any time during your or your opponent’s turn, you may remove a Rune Counter on this card to duplicate the effect of the card that was removed from play as this card’s effect.

Note regarding this card:

I am usually quite willing to let other fanfic authors use custom cards that I have created. With this one, however, I must add a condition.

“Jalal the Dragonborn” is a card that was designed specifically for this fanfic. Shichiro’s card is not unique, but it is a special card whose use is limited to the members of one organization. In future chapters, its significance and history will become clearer. Therefore, I will only permit its use in fanfics that are part of the same mythos. If anyone ever wants to do a spin-off of this fanfic and I approve of it, this card may be used. In any other fanfic, its use is not permitted.



Coming up next:

What are the Shadowchasers? What is their purpose? Explanations are coming next chapter, as Shichiro gives Ember the whole picture, and sheds some light on the dark of the world that is known only to a few. Be here, because you won’t want to miss it any more than Ember does. “The Eye of Truth” is next.

jkBAKURA
8th January 2009, 10:10 PM
Well, I have to admit I'm disappointed, but only because my expectations were completely off.

I was expecting Hebi-Na to be a villain lurking in the shadows for most of the story, like Kadabra or Persephone Amore. Now I see why you brushed over her in the last chapter, making an earlier criticism misinformed.

Shame, the physical description you gave was very cool.

I hope you revert to one of your older mechanisms, and make the main villain part of the story rather then just sitting in a lair watching the action. There's a reason we remember Gestalt you know.

And I'm afraid I'm still having a tough time pinning down Shichiro's deck theme. It seems to be Warrior Beatdown with the Syncho on display only when it's convenient. If Synchros are the true goal, the deck seems sloppily built.

Another trap is taking deck themes wholesale. While I DO acknowledge that you expanded, taking every card from a duelist in the anime/manga is simply repeating a performance. (for me at least, for many who are less of a nerd then I am, it's probably introducing a whole new theme.)

One suggestion could be using some of the cards from the source, and filling in the rest yourself. Giant Spitting Cobra would have been a treat.

Now that the ugly stuff is out of the way, I congratulate you for planting the hook early. Getting the ugly back story out of the way that you have a tendency to shove to the last act makes the story more about the journey then the mystery.

Shichiro is experienced, something you haven't really done before to my knowledge. This can make the story a journey of accomplishing a goal instead of discovering a goal to accomplish.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Mythical species in a "real" anime setting. Curious. Looks like a futuristic Van Helsing substituting holographic card games for stakes.

Said like that it sounds weird, but the fun of a story is making the ludicrous reasonable through the journey, and a very good writer can do that without the audience asking questions.

And so far, there aren't any questions raised that I have doubts about.

Well, enough long wind for now, but rest assured I'll be paying VERY close attention to the next installment.

Dark Sage
8th January 2009, 10:32 PM
I'll reply to these concerns, as I should.

Yeah, Hebi-Na was only a henchman. (I had totally forgotten about Giant Spitting Cobra... In hindsight, that would have indeed been good.) Anyway, when my true villains show up (and yes, there will be a couple) they will indeed be more social and not just wait for the heroes to reach them. They went through some complex designs, and I'm pleased with the results.

Also, Shichiro is only one main character. Another has only made a cameo (that other guy who was with him at the townhouse) another has not yet been introduced, and another is Ember. These characters will use lots of cards that have not been seen in the anime, and I'll try to make all of their decks balanced. I'm not trying to make Shichiro into another Yusei, but the Warrior theme is one that fits him for several reasons that I can't get into right now. (At this point, Shichiro's deck does not have Junk Warrior, although he may obtain one eventually.)

Yeah, Shichiro is experienced. He's been doing this for a while, and the other main characters except Ember are a little more experienced than he is. I'm breaking new ground in this fic, and I'm having a good time doing it.

Anyway, keep reading. Next chapter there will be no duel, as it is the obligatory backstory/explanation chapter. I may post it early because of this.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
9th January 2009, 06:04 AM
Well I read the first two chapters, then found YGO 5D episodes, watched them, re-read the chapters here including this one and it all makes more sense to me now.

I like the way you're fusioning 5D battling, with normal battling AND the shadowchasers subplot. The villians look mediocre for now, but that's because their henchmen. I'm intrigued about the plot and wonder what kind of the decks the other shadowchasers play.

Shichiro is kind of cliché to me, being a more stubborn, talkative Yusei (but I have only read three chapters, so this is a temporary observation). Without the heart of the cards bullshit that is. His deck seems ok, if somewhat standard, although uncertain to pinpoint for now. I'm expecting something fresh.

Sorry if this seemed a bit harsh, but I really like the way the fic is going and I wouldn't want to see it get repetative or cliché (eventhough I like happy endings). Keep up the good work and I'll be sure to read the next chapter.

Shuppet Master
10th January 2009, 01:28 PM
Yay! I happened to read this just as I was coming down from the recent episode of 5Ds. (Poor Luna, being tormented with hypnosis like that!)

I hope there will be other people dueling. I can't wait to see Ember's deck!

Also, I do tend to see Yusei in Shichiro, but I know you are trying desperately to avoid copying known characters, something I can't do very well. If I ever did a spin-off or any 5Ds fic, I would tend to get cliched and try to make twins like Leo and Luna. I love twins! But anyways...

And nice how you mentioned the conditions of using Jalal. I would never steal such a very sacred Synchro monster like that. I'm impressed - I'm still getting into this whole Synchro Monster thing(using special types of monsters and special summoning them by sacrificing monsters on the field only) and you're just making an awesome fan Synchro! This might bring me back into doing a Yu-Gi-Oh fanfic... MIGHT. <_<

If not, I'd gladly try to win a contest where the winner got to create a Synchro Monster.

EDIT: I apologize for using the twins's dub names, but I live off of dubs, which is why I don't think I'll do a spin-off of Shadowchasers. You'd hate me forever because I'd use the dub names.

Just keep chugging along, Brian, I'm 150% behind you! :D

Dark Sage
10th January 2009, 01:33 PM
Let me say this right now...

I am using the Japanese names, but I will not force this on anybody else. Anyone who wants to do a spin-off of my fic eventually who would rather use the dub names is free to do so.

Just thought I'd clear that up.

Dark Sage
11th January 2009, 12:26 AM
Since this next chapter is the obligatory exhibition chapter, I felt I’d best debut it a little early. Enjoy.




CHAPTER FOUR




http://www.ideal808.com/images/db1_en074.jpg



After what had happened, I sort of expected Shichiro to take me somewhere special and exotic. Somewhere very unusual.

But he didn’t take me to see some mysterious wise man, like Morpheus, nor did he take me to any secret base where aliens hung around a lounge with a coffee pot smoking cigarettes.

Instead, he took me to a quaint Italian restaurant, run by a guy whom he seemed to know, who appeared to fit the stereotype of a friendly, old, Italian chef. Shichiro told me right away that Giorgio, as he called him, was a retired member of their group, and that our conversation would be held in peace, without any disturbance from anyone who might want to interrupt, including Security. When I asked why Security would want to interrupt, he said, “You never know…”


Shichiro hadn’t made much small talk since they had gotten into the restaurant. After ordering drinks and an appetizer, he looked closely at the Rose, Warrior of Revenge card.

“So what exactly is this all about?” asked Ember.

“It’s… very complicated…” said Shichiro.

Shichiro had not exactly kept track of where he had gotten every single card he used, but this one was special. For one thing, it was a Level 4 Tuner – that was pretty rare. He believed that of all the Tuners in circulation, only five of them were Level 4, and all five weren’t exactly common. And some of them had some sort condition attached to them when you used them. This one had no condition. It was simply a Level 4 Tuner, which was searchable in his deck, and had an effect that was somewhat useful.

But regardless, the circumstances in which he had gotten it had been very strange, even as far as rare cards were concerned…



* * * * * * * * * *


The mysterious woman in miko regalia grinned as she handed Shichiro a card.

“The most I can do for the help you’ve given me,” she said.

“Rose, Warrior of Revenge?” asked Shichiro, looking at it.

“Uh, uh, uh!” replied the woman. “Don’t get excited… I’m lending you this card. You can use it until its true owner is ready to use it.”

“Its true owner?” asked Shichiro.

“A warrior of fire, just like the Monster on the card,” replied the woman. “And just like a Tuner, this warrior has great potential…

“Be careful, now… Don’t give it away on a whim. It would be a tragedy if this wound up in the wrong hands.

“Even if you find this warrior, do not give this card away until the warrior recognizes its purpose. Until then, you can always use a good Tuner.”

“But what IS its purpose?” asked Shichiro. “Is it more than just a Tuner?”

“Indeed…” said the woman, walking away. “The warrior will realize its true purpose, if not immediately, then in time. When that happens, that is the time to give him or her the card…”

And then she faded into the darkness…



* * * * * * * * * *


“You seem glued to that card,” said Ember.

“Ah, yeah,” said Shichiro, putting it on the top of his deck. “I, uhm, I noticed you were a duelist too… Mind if I see your deck?”

Ember carefully handed him the deck. Shichiro slowly looked through the cards.

Okay, he thought. Now I know I’ve found something…

“You have a few Tuners, I see…” he said.

“Uhm, yeah,” said Ember. “I only have one Synchro though. Well, it is my favorite card, sure…”

“Yeah…” said Shichiro, looking through the deck. “It’s a pretty good deck, to tell the truth… Does dueling run in your family?”

“Well…” said Ember, blushing a little. “I have a cousin who’s a minor contender in the pro circuit… Not a Turbo Duelist, he stays on his feet. Maybe you’ve heard of Eiko Akira?”

“I don’t pay much attention to the pros,” replied Shichiro.

“He has a Lightsworn Deck, and he’s pretty good…” replied Ember. “And yeah, he helped me with mine, a little…”

“Look…” said Shichiro.

He handed the deck back, and took the Rose card again.

“I want to try something… When I show you this card… What… purpose do you see that it has?”

Ember looked at it and shrugged.

“It’s a Level 4 Tuner,” she said. “Not without its charm…”

“Uhm, yeah…” said Shichiro.

He shuffled it back into his deck.

It may take some time, he thought.

“Well, Ember, I promised you an explanation… So let’s start…”

He cleared his throat, and folded his hands.

“Monsters are real,” he said. “It’s been that way for a long time.

“Creatures of legend walk the street in disguise – elves, werewolves, pixies, gnomes, and dozens of other creatures of myth. Folks who know about them call them Shadows or Shadowkind.

“All Shadows have the ability to mask their presence. Some appear human to those who can’t see what they really are. Some can’t be seen at all.”

“But why can’t people see them?” asked Ember. “Is it some sort of conspiracy?”

“Not quite,” replied Shichiro. “It’s more like a veil. The simple fact is, most humans simply don’t notice them. It has more to do with the nature of the human mind than the nature of the universe. People generally walk around in a state that can best be described as ‘autopilot’. They don’t pay attention to the people around them. Why should they? Fashion is ubiquitous, opinions are guided by the mass media, people are people. It’s perfectly natural.

“If you had lunch in a restaurant today, you can probably remember what you ate. But can you describe your server? If you parked your car this morning, you remember where you parked. But can you describe the car next to yours?

“Unless something odd happens, most people interpret the world as a series of ordinary, explainable events, and pay no attention to details. But what happens when they see Shadows? If a person saw a gang of orcs on a rampage or a fire drake torching a building…”

“Oh, he’d certainly notice that!” replied Ember.

“No,” replied Shichiro. “Most people wouldn’t. The minute something like that happens, human nature takes over. We are assured early in our lives that such things don’t exist. So, when someone sees a monster, his mind creates an illusion, telling him that he’s seeing something else. The gang of orcs becomes a gang of street toughs, while the fire drake becomes a gas main exploding. The easy answer completely obscures the truth, and people continue on in their lives, blissfully unaware of the reality.

“But Ember… Some people are not like this. Some people can see the Shadows for what they truly are. And to protect those who might be endangered by them, and to protect the Shadows themselves if they are in danger, this has given rise to the Shadowchasers.

“Humans come in three varieties. The most common type are called Mundanes by Shadows who are nice, and Clueless by ones who aren’t. They can’t see through the veil at all. Even if they look a Shadow directly in the face, they’d never suspect it was anything but human. Some Shadows have been known to fall in love with Mundanes, they are loved back, and they get married, and sometimes even have children… But even if the marriage is one made in Heaven, the human never realizes the true nature of his or her spouse. The Shadow can’t go right out and say it, lest he sound insane, or even worse, no longer be trusted.

“Then there are humans that are called Sensitives. They aren’t as in the dark as the Mundanes. They know that something odd is going on when Shadows are around, and they might be able to see a Shadow for what it is when they view it out of the corners of their eyes. But they still can’t see the whole truth.

“Then there are the Awares, the rarest type. That’s what the two of us are. These humans can usually see the Shadows just as plainly as an actual Shadow can. The veil can’t hide anything from an Aware. It is from these people that the Shadowchasers come from, because they are the best at dealing with Shadows.”

“Do Shadows ever… marry these types of humans?” asked Ember.

“Uh huh,” replied Shichiro, “and such Shadows are often better off than ones who fall in love with Mundanes, because far more trust is involved. A marriage needs trust, after all.

“Of course, that isn’t common. Some Shadows find humans physically unattractive, and some simply can’t mate with humans due to biological differences, if you know what I mean. Not all Shadows are mammals, although that doesn’t always make a difference. Shadows are magical creatures, and the laws of science don’t always apply to them.

“But, when a child is born from such a union, the heritage of the Shadows is passed on. Take ophidia like Hebi-Na. There are numerous humans alive who can trace their lineage back to them. They’re called snakeblooded. Folks like this are called Shadow-Touched.

“But I seem to have strayed a little…”

“But how does one become… Aware?” asked Ember. “How does one get these powers?”

Shichiro chuckled.

“Well, Shadows themselves are automatically Aware,” he said. “Shadows have no trouble seeing other Shadows. And as for humans who are, it’s really not a question of how they gain such ‘powers’, but more a question of how they lose them.”

“Pardon?” asked Ember.

“Humans are usually born at least Sensitive and sometimes Aware as well,” replied Shichiro. “You know how children are often said to have overactive imaginations, and see monsters in the night that adults never see?”

“It isn’t their imagination?” asked Ember, getting nervous.

Shichiro shook his head.

“Most children can see glimpses of Shadows, and some can see them quite clearly,” he said. “Children look at the world through different eyes than adults do. They have an understanding of things that adults find hard to comprehend.

“You ever read a short story called Mimsy Were the Borogoves?”

“Isn’t that a line from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky?” asked Ember.

“Yes,” replied Shichiro, “and Mimsy Were the Borogoves was a short science fiction story written in 1942 by an author named Lewis Padgett. That was a pseudonym for two authors who collaborated, I believe. In it, it is revealed that the words in Jabberwocky are part of the language of a future civilization. However, due to their peculiar complexity, only children can understand their true meaning. In the story, young Alice Liddell learns them, and recites them to her ‘Uncle Charles’. He thinks them nothing more than fanciful words, because he’s an adult, but says he’ll put them in one of his stories.

“Shadows are sort of like that. Because children view the world in a different way, they see things that adults can’t.

“Some imaginary friends that children have are very real friends, who are actually Shadows who don’t bother with disguises, choosing not to be seen at all by humans who can’t see the truth. I know this doesn’t make much sense…”

“No… No!” shouted Ember. “My kindergarten teacher… She was so sweet, but we all knew she wasn’t human… We could all swear that she had pointed ears and that her eyes were almost hypnotic… And she brought these gingerbread cookies on Fridays that were so good, the parents kept begging her for the recipe…”

Shichiro shrugged.

“She might have been an elf,” he replied. “She wouldn’t have been the first such Shadow who took a job that involved taking care of children. And if she was, the cookies likely had fey cinnamon in them. That stuff is indeed the envy of human bakers. But before you jump to conclusions and go look her up, keep in mind that they might have simply been very good human-made cookies. The Shadowchasers have mistaken certain humans for Shadows more than once.

“But anyway, adults assure children that it’s their imagination, and since children are taught to obey their elders, this usually goes unnoticed. And by puberty, children quickly lose their ability to see the Shadows, and they convince themselves that their childhood visions were all only fantasies.

“Whether they ever gain their sight back again… Well, there’s no known way to purposely gain it. No-one ever does anything to himself to make himself Aware. It depends on a lot of different factors and a good deal of random chance. Take me for instance. You notice my name…”

Ember did. “Shichiro” meant “seventh son”.

“I have six brothers,” continued Shichiro. “All six are older than me.”

“You must have gotten a lot of hand-me-downs,” replied Ember.

“Tell me about it,” said Shichiro. “My father also has six brothers, and they are all older than him.

“You can imagine what Christmases are like for our family. My three oldest brothers are married, the oldest one has two children already, the second-oldest has one, and one on the way.”

“Quite a family,” replied Ember.

“My grandpa was a very old-fashioned guy,” said Shichiro. “He was of a type who believed that a man’s status was dependent on the size of his family, something that is still true in some cultures.

“But getting back to me, some people say that a seventh son of a seventh son will grow to possess odd powers. That’s the only explanation I can think of as to why I became Aware… Four years ago…

“Aware humans are rare, of course. It isn’t always like that. There have been times in the past when Awares were far more common. In ancient Greece, for instance, far more folks could see the Shadows, and stories told by Awares gave rise to all the popular mythology of that culture… Such as stories of the Gorgon and the Minotaur, and all the monsters fought by Heracles…”

“So then, were folks like him and Theseus and all the other heroes… Shadowchasers?” asked Ember.

“Well, technically, the Shadowchasers don’t go that far back,” replied Shichiro. “But if the heroes of myth truly existed, they were certainly Aware.

“Changing the subject, Shadows do come from somewhere… They aren’t truly native to Earth.

“Shadows originally come from another world that exists beyond our reach. Some alternate world in another dimension, where the physical laws are different. We figure it’s likely the sort of place that J.R.R. Tolkien might have dreamed up. Some powerful force takes them – kidnaps them, some would say – and transports them to our world, dumping them here unceremoniously, usually in a populated area. A Shadow never comes to our world willingly or purposely. Some Shadows are born in our world, as most of them are living creatures, and like most, are able to reproduce, as I’ve already said.

“When Shadows come to our world, their memories of their past lives quickly fade. But they keep their instincts, and most are able to adapt. When a Shadow finds a newly arrived Shadow, most are compassionate enough to give him or her directions to the nearest member of its species, or an ally who can reach one. Neo Domino alone has several clans, each one made up of one species, and all of them will gladly take in a fellow member who’s made the transition. If no-one helps one, the Shadowchasers find it soon, and they do the job.

“Most Shadows simply want what humans want. They want to live normal lives and make the most out of what they have. They quickly realize that they can’t go home, so they adjust. Some Shadows have become very powerful in society. In some countries, Shadows hold high positions on the boards of large corporations, and even governments. If there’s a politician in the States who everyone loves and respects, yet who refuses to ever try to run for President, it might be because he knows he’s ineligible, as he’s not a natural-born citizen… And not even human.

“However, when a Shadow wants more than it is entitled to, it becomes dangerous. Shadows often have powers that make them stronger, smarter, or more charismatic than the average human.

“And sometimes, humans that are Aware want to exploit, or even enslave Shadows. Bigotry is a problem in all walks of life.

“That’s where we come in.

“The Shadowchasers were formed roughly a thousand years ago, with the intention to keep Shadow activities stable. Their goals are both to fight Shadows who are a threat to humans, and protect law-abiding ones who are threatened by other forces, human and Shadow alike. Shadowchasers are selected mostly from humans who are able to perceive Shadowkind for what they are, but rarely, Shadows themselves join.”

“There’s one thing I don’t get,” said Ember. “Hebi-Na had a gun. Why did she put it away and agree to duel you?”

“First of all, she wouldn’t really have needed the gun to kill you,” replied Shichiro. “Most ophidia can kill their victims – who are usually far weaker than they are – with their bare hands, or tails as the case often is. If met with actual resistance, they use their fangs, which contain deadly poison.

“Second, she realized that a handgun is worthless against a Shadowchaser. I know a few tricks myself that make me more than a match for anyone with a firearm. Shadowchasers have learned this stuff over the centuries, mostly from friendlier Shadows. We know martial arts styles that Bruce Lee would have had difficulty learning. Well, maybe a guy like him could have managed them eventually…

“You see, that’s the very reason for using Duel Monsters: Shadows tend to be stronger than most humans, and Shadowchasers tend to have supernatural powers as well. Several centuries ago, the boundary between Shadowkind and humankind was not very well defined, and the two groups threatened to collapse into all-out war. Thus, the leader of the Shadowchasers, a powerful warrior named Jalal, and the most powerful representative of Shadowkind, a wizard of the Incantifer species named Maskent, met and drafted the Great Treaty.

“The Treaty outlines a set of laws that Shadows must follow for dealing with humans, and puts the Shadowchasers in charge of enforcing them. In return, the Shadows are left in peace, and get several benefits that humans would find impossible to obtain, so long as they don’t break the Treaty.

“But both Jalal and Maskent knew that conflicts would arise between Shadows and Shadowchasers. The most important part of the Treaty stated that any time a Shadow and a Shadowchaser had a disagreement, the resulting conflict had to be fair.

“Of course, ensuring that the conflict is indeed fair has been the hardest part over the years. For the longest time, the best way that a Shadowkind criminal who was on trial could seek acquittal was to argue that he was arrested via a means that was not fair. This led to incredibly bothersome legal procedures over the years…

“But the invention of Duel Monsters was a godsend to both sides. Neither side can truly predict what the other is capable of in such a contest, and thus the fight is fair. It was proposed as the fairest way of settling any conflict, and eventually, it was agreed to. And once it spread, legal challenges to that issue were pretty much done away with.

“Now, should a Shadowkind break such a vital part of the Treaty and go rogue, it’s in big trouble, because at that point, it loses every benefit it gets from the Treaty. That’s when Duel Disks are put away and true weapons are used. Every Shadowchaser in its geographic location and every bordering one would hone in on it, and it would have nowhere to run. Plus, if too many members of a Shadow’s clan break any part of the Treaty, the whole clan is penalized for raising its members as hoodlums. The clan leaders will think twice next time about how they discipline their members.

“That’s why almost all Shadows learn how to duel. It has become how almost all civilized disputes are settled in modern times. And it’s far better than the conflicts that occurred in the past.”

“Are… Jalal and Maskent still alive?” asked Ember.

Shichiro nodded.

“Most Shadows aren’t immortal, but they are,” he said. “You’ll meet Jalal soon. The Incantifers are a race of incredibly powerful sorcerers who learned the secret of immortality a long time ago, but fortunately, almost all of them are pacifists. They’re mostly scholars and philosophers who spend time trying to figure out great secrets of the universe. Such as how to find a way back to the homeworld of Shadow. That project is tops on their list.

“Of course, in a survey we recently conducted, only about twenty percent of Shadows that were surveyed said they would ever want to go back. They were pretty sure that stuff like the internet and digital TV didn’t exist on their home world.”

He chuckled.

“Anyway,” he continued, “Jalal and Maskent are still in charge of keeping the original copies of the Treaty. They keep them under incredible security, and they also are in charge of all legal matters that come up. The Shadowchasers’ courts and other legal facilities are located in a hidden location with our central headquarters in Great Britain. It’s a complex that The Hague would envy. When I arrested Hebi-Na, I sent her to a holding cell there where she can be processed.”

“And Sector Security lets you do this?” asked Ember. “Why can’t they catch these criminals? Why can’t they mark them, and…”

Shichiro laughed.

“Ember, Ember, Ember…” he said. “Godwin makes you believe that once a marker is on a criminal’s face, he has nowhere to hide, and Security can swoop down on him at any time. Let me tell you the hard, cold facts: It’s a fiction designed to make the population of Neo Domino think that they’re safe. The truth is, those markers are far from foolproof. They’re incredibly easy to jam and fool. Anyone with a computer and some hacking skills can do it.

“And Shadows have another thing on their side: magic. If a Shadow ever found himself marked, all he’d have to do is go to his clan’s shaman, medicine man, or witch doctor, depending on the species, and that individual would use a simple spell that took five minutes to cast that would wipe the mark right off his face as if it were never there. Also good for removing tattoos.”

“A cosmetic surgeon could lose his license for doing that!” gasped Ember. “You let these shamans do this?”

Shichiro reached into his pocket and took out an iPod.

“Yes we do,” he said, as he looked something up on it. “Because, according to Section Four of Article Eight of the Treaty, and I quote…”

He read off the screen:

“A Shadowchaser will never: A. Turn a Shadow over to a member of a human law-enforcement agency; B. Aid a human law-enforcement agency in the apprehension or investigation of a criminal who is known to be a Shadow, unless he or she intends to apprehend the Shadow for the cause of the Shadowchasers, or; C. Hinder a Shadow in evading a member of a human law-enforcement agency. In a case where a Shadow has committed a crime where a human law-enforcement agency and the Shadowchasers are both involved, the Shadowchaser must make sure that the Shadow is processed by the Shadowchasers’ justice system, regardless of what aid he or she gives or what aid is given to him or her by the human law-enforcement agency in question. End quote.

“In other words, Shadows are granted immunity to any justice system but ours, and if Sector Security doesn’t like it, tough. It’s necessary to prevent humans and Shadows from hating each other, and some clans of Shadowkind would be furious if one of their members was subjected to some of the penalties for crimes that human criminals have to deal with.

“To make a comparison, in the States, there are several communities of Native Americans who hold treaties with the American government that make their communities independent states that are not answerable to American law. Shadowkind is kind of like that, only on a global scale. Shadows are fickle creatures, and when dealing with criminals among them, one has to be very careful.

“For example, you think some humans simply oppose the death penalty? Some clans of Shadow consider it the vilest blasphemy and an insult to the gods, worse than any crime that a criminal could commit. If a member of their clan was sentenced to it, they’d demand that everyone involved in the criminal’s trial and conviction, the judge, jury, prosecutor, arresting officers, and every witness, be tried for the abominable act, and nothing else would placate them. Any human who came across that clan would be in serious trouble until they got what they wanted, which, of course, we couldn’t give them.”

Ember looked at him.

“I… understand…” she said, nervously. “I assume the Treaty is pretty long?”

“Very,” replied Shichiro.

Ember was quiet for a few minutes.

“Is Godwin a Shadow?” she asked.

Shichiro chuckled again.

“We suspected him of being one for a long time,” he replied. “Seems he’s only a very unusual human…”

The waiter brought a plate of fried calamari to their table.

“Godwin is either very eccentric, or he’s one of the smartest geniuses in the world,” he continued. “Just which, we aren’t sure. From what we’ve managed to learn, and don’t go spreading this around, by the way… He’s part of some… sect or something that believes some Star Dragon King imprisoned an army of demons and a Demon Lord underneath the Nazca Lines in Peru several millennia ago. The Shadowchasers are trying to figure out whether this Dragon King or these demons, if they even exist, have anything to do with Shadowkind, but we’ve come up empty so far. There’s certainly no record of them in any histories of any clans that we monitor.

“Anyway, Godwin can’t see the Shadows, doesn’t believe in them, and thinks the Shadowchasers are nothing more than a dueling club, so the Shadowchasers plan to leave him alone until such time as he becomes a threat to us, which we aren’t ruling out.”

“Why does he let you do as you please?” asked Ember.

“Well, he doesn’t, personally,” replied Shichiro. “But, we made a little… deal with a high-ranking member of Security, and as a result, they leave the Shadowchasers alone. If a Shadowchaser gets in trouble with Security, all it takes is a quick phone call to get him out of trouble.”

“You mean you have an official ‘in your pocket’?” asked Ember. “That sounds a little corrupt…”

“Well, so are a lot of the things that Godwin does,” replied Shichiro. “Just ask Bommer…”

“The guy who was arrested at the Fortune Cup for trying to kill Godwin?” asked Ember.

“Did you actually listen to what he said before he did so?” asked Shichiro. “If you didn’t, you should have. He wasn’t lying.

“It’s like that all around the world, truthfully, Ember. Every government has one or two influential members who are Aware, who realize that Shadow can be dangerous, and realize that the Shadowchasers are the only force that can control it. Thus, these people must make deals with the Shadowchasers to keep their countries safe. Of course, since the Shadowchasers will never pledge allegiance to any government agency, sometimes these officials get angry. They consider ending the deal and forming agencies of their own to deal with Shadow…”

“But then…” replied Ember, “they realize that to do so, they’d have to propose the idea to the rest of the governing body, and suggest that government money, most likely taxpayer money, go towards keeping elves and goblins in check.”

“You catch on fast,” said Shichiro. “Governments have been known to start questionable programs… The United States once had a national council that researched individuals with psychic powers… The KGB had a program which looked into theories of mind control during the Cold War… Then there was the U.S. Air Force’s now-famous Project Blue Book, which studied UFO sightings. But in all these cases, there was visible proof that these agencies would not be a total waste of time and money. With one or two Awares in a government body that consists of hundreds of Mundanes, there is no proof of Shadowkind. No technological devices can be made to see them. There would only be the word of the Awares. So proposing such an outlandish idea is not smart.

“Even if the head of state is Aware, he usually wants to keep his position. Such ideas never get past the planning stage, and they grudgingly keep the deals that they made with the Shadowchasers. And the end result is, the Shadowchasers are given more leeway than usual, and can do their business without being molested by Mundane officials.”

Ember paused again.

“But why all the secrecy?” she asked. “Why can’t humans all handle the truth? I’m sure humans and Shadows could get along. It’s not like people couldn’t handle it…”

“Try telling that to the vampires,” replied Shichiro, as he chewed on a piece of calamari.

“Vampires?” asked Ember.

“A tragic tale,” sighed Shichiro, shaking his head. “Centuries ago, the vampires were a numerous race. And a lot of them had that thought. Then, around the beginning of the Victorian era, the most influential vampire decided that his people could indeed live peacefully among humans, and they didn’t need to hide any more. Most vampires agreed, and they lifted the veil surrounding themselves.

“For a few years, it worked. Humans and vampires lived in harmony… But then… Something happened that made them hate each other.

“No-one knows how it started… No-one knows who threw the first blow. But the two races collapsed into a war that the Shadowchasers were powerless to stop. The vampires were the clear losers. When the dust cleared, almost none of them had survived.

“Today, vampires are all but extinct on Earth… Whatever force brings the Shadows here stopped bringing them here, possibly wanting to prevent another war. And it’s really a shame. The media portrays vampires as bloodsucking demons, but in reality, it was only true with some of them. If you listened to some of the music that the great vampire composers created before that time, you’d know that they weren’t all bad…”

“They were musicians?” asked Ember.

“Quite…” replied Shichiro. “Mozart was Aware, and he was close friends with a vampire who shared his passion and talent for music.

“A far more subtle problem arose when another race of Shadow decided to reveal themselves to certain humans… Gremlins.”

“Gremlins?” asked Ember, raising an eyebrow.

“Stephen Spielberg’s portrayal was very inaccurate,” continued Shichiro, “and they don’t like it very much. Gremlins are actually fey creatures. Nature spirits like brownies and pixies. Unlike most of their kind, they’re fond of machines and technology. Several centuries ago, gremlins revealed themselves to humans who shared this interest.

“Gremlins assisted Benjamin Franklin in his electricity experiments… They helped Thomas Edison develop several of his most well-known designs… Virtually every great inventor and engineer before the Twentieth Century owed something to these Shadows.

“The problem was, these scientists took all the credit for themselves, and gave none to the gremlins. And for good reason. What was Edison supposed to do, tell people that little men with pointy ears helped him invent the light bulb and the phonograph?”

“People would think he was nuts,” replied Ember.

“Exactly,” said Shichiro. “But the gremlins didn’t understand this. And eventually, they got mad. They started to resent humanity, and turned malicious. They started using their knowledge of technology to sabotage it, rather than improve it.

“During World War II, they were notorious for attacking military aircrafts. After their sabotages started to become lethal, the Shadowchasers labeled them an outlaw race, and started a serious campaign aimed at rooting them out. It was hard work, but most of them were found and disciplined. Most clans of gremlins behave themselves nowadays, out of fear of more punishment, but they refuse to ever help humans like they used to. They’re discouraged from doing so.

“Since those times, other races of Shadow learned from the vampires’ sad fate and the gremlins’ mistake, and know enough to keep themselves hidden from humanity. The Shadowchasers know it too, and they work hard to keep the secret from those who can’t see…

“We consider creatures with the power to lift the veil among the most dangerous threats. Perhaps you’ve…”

He looked around. His voice sank to a low whisper.

“Maybe you’ve heard of Darkness? As in proper name?”

“Darkness?” asked Ember. “I thought he was a myth… Jack Atlas has a card with his picture on it… A powerful one called The End of Storm… I think Mukuro Enjo has one too…”

“And that’s one card that Shadowchasers are absolutely forbidden to use,” replied Shichiro. “Whoever the foolish card designer was who thought up that card didn’t realize the risk of displaying that madman’s ugly face.

“We don’t know much about… him, only that he was a powerful demon who could have caused every dimension in existence to spill into each other, merging all consciousnesses together, in his twisted vision of universal peace. Humans losing their individuality would have been bad enough, but if it had happened to humans and Shadows at the same time, peace wouldn’t have been the result. It would have caused insanity.

“Anyway, a great hero defeated him. Not a Shadowchaser, but he was a good kid. Heh… He took care of Darkness while the Shadowchasers were protecting themselves from his spell and trying to figure out what to do!

“Darkness has since been on the Shadowchasers’ ‘Ten Most Wanted List’, to compare his status to another system. He hasn’t been seen since his defeat, but Jalal and Maskent have powerful wards encircling the globe that would set off a series of alarms if Darkness or any being we know of that posed a similar threat ever came back.

“But Ember… It’s a big world, and the threats get more dangerous as the world gets bigger. We need all the help we can get…

“And we need your help too, Ember. You’re an Aware… You’re also a Shadowchaser.”

“Why?” said Ember. “Why me? I didn’t sign up for this…”

Shichiro sighed.

“Ember, let me give it to you straight…” he said.

“You can never go back to what you once were. If there was a way for an Aware to become Mundane, I’d offer it to you. But no-one has ever found a way to do that. And not for lack of trying either. The Incantifers are working on it, but all they’ve ever hit are dead ends. They say that finding the cure for cancer might be easier, and they’re no closer to solving that than they were twenty years ago.

“And the Shadows don’t like being spied on. Now they’ve identified you. Hebi-Na was only the first. Without protection, there will be others.

“Awares rarely ever last long if they try to take their chances alone. Sooner or later, if they try, an evil Shadow sees her as a threat, and wants to get rid of her. I saved you from that snake, but sooner or later, an assassin is going to come who won’t miss.

“The only way you’ll become safe is if you become stronger. And to do that, you need to join us…

“The motto of the Shadowchasers is, ‘Ignorance is not bliss, but knowledge is not power’.”

“I don’t follow…” replied Ember.

“It means that being ignorant to the truth doesn’t assure that you’ll be happy or safe,” replied Shichiro. “If the Shadowchasers weren’t around, the Shadows likely would have taken over the world by now. Can you imagine the advantage that such powerful beings who couldn’t be seen by most humans would have if they weren’t kept in check?

“But knowing the truth puts you in a much different situation. Some Awares think they have power because of what they see, but if they use their perceived power wrong, they can be just as dangerous as the most evil of Shadows.

“An Aware has to learn to temper his gift with the responsibility to use it, and the Shadowchasers are the only true way that can happen. We’re the only thing that keeps the majority of Shadows and humans living in peace, more or less.

“If our cause failed, pretty soon, half the population of Earth would be at war with the other half… That would have apocalyptic repercussions!”

Ember looked down.

“How much does it pay?” she asked. “Are there benefits?”

“All needs are taken care of,” replied Shichiro. “We can even offer you a place to sleep that’s better than whatever apartment you have now. There’s no real salary, but we all have access to a very generous trust fund that should take care of anything you need. We take care of our own.”

“Am I going to have to change my diet?” asked Ember.

“We’re talking this over in an Italian restaurant, Ember,” chuckled Shichiro. “Most of us aren’t on any special diet. We burn off whatever we eat rather quickly.”

“I don’t know the first thing about driving a D-Wheel,” added Ember.

“It’s easier to learn than you think,” replied Shichiro, “and you won’t use one until you’re well-established anyway. As for eventually getting one, I’m close friends with a mechanic who has built no less than five, including mine.”

Ember sighed.

“I’ll… need to think it over…” she muttered.



* * * * * * * * * *


Ember had to admit, she had never had a date like Shichiro. He was a real gentleman, he paid the bill entirely, and kept his hands to himself.

“That was pretty good fettuccini alfredo,” she said, as they left the restaurant.

“Come back here when you can and try the pasta fazool,” replied Shichiro. “It’s even better.”

As they walked up to Shichiro’s bike, a limo pulled up in front of them. Ember stepped back in surprise, clearly recognizing it.

The chauffer quickly got out, and opened the back door.

Mr. Draco stepped out, pushing the chauffer aside. He was wearing a black overcoat and sunglasses.

“Next time I say hurry, I mean it!” he scolded.

He sighed, and looked at Ember.

“Ember, I am so, SO sorry,” he said, holding her by the arms. “I came as soon as I heard… The idiots in charge of security on that floor will never work for me again…”

“I should hope so,” replied Ember.

“Ember, look, I’m going to make this up to you,” continued Draco. “A big bonus will be in your account tomorrow morning. And I know I owe you a lot of vacation time. I insist you take it now. You’re overworked enough as it is…”

“Actually,” said Ember, “a good vacation was on my mind…”

She looked at Shichiro.

“Ah, yes, Mr. Osaka,” said Draco. “A word…”

He went aside, taking his sunglasses off.

“Mr. Osaka,” he said, “I can’t thank you enough for saving my secretary’s life… I heard you belong to some sort of non-profit organization… As my way of saying thanks, perhaps I can make a donation…”

He took a checkbook out of his coat.

“If you’ll just tell me who to make it out to…”

“That’s very nice of you, Mr. Draco,” replied Shichiro, “but we don’t accept private donations.”

“Oh?” asked Draco. “And from where do you get your funding?”

“I’m not at liberty to say,” replied Shichiro.

“I see,” replied Draco, as he put it back inside his coat. “Well… perhaps I can help you another way… I may well know who hired that Hebi-Na woman… I’d tell Security, but let’s face it, Godwin’s troops may be able to arrest a shoplifter or a purse snatcher, but they aren’t as reliable with matters this big…”

“Matters this big?” asked Shichiro. “How big?”

“Well,” said Draco, “as you know, she was associating with me – reluctantly, on my part, I might add…”

“In what regards?” asked Shichiro.

“Well, she claimed to be the go-between for a rich private investor in Germany who was interested in a microchip project I was working on. She gave me the name Fynn Herrscher and gave me a phone number that she claimed was for an office in Hamburg. But after calling a few times, I did some checking, and found out that the number actually was for some place in Rotterdam, and there was no such person as Fynn Herrscher. I think the person who I was speaking to was actually an associate of Hebi-Na’s true employer…

“I believe it was… Louis DaPen…”

“Louis DaPen?” said Shichiro, somewhat surprised.

“Yeah, and you didn’t hear that from me,” replied Draco. “You realize now why it would be a bad idea to report this to Security…”

Shichiro nodded. He knew that people like DaPen often owned members of Security.

“Anyway,” said Draco, “good luck with whatever it is you’re doing.”

He sat back in the back seat of the limo.

“Ember… Have a good vacation, and try to relax, please!”

The door closed, and they watched as the limo drove off.

“Louis DaPen?” asked Ember. “I’ve… sort of heard of him…”

“He’s Godwin’s biggest embarrassment,” sighed Shichiro.

“Louis DaPen is the godfather of Neo Domino. He first appeared in organized crime circles about ten years ago, and somehow made his way to the top rather quickly. He may well be the most powerful crook in town.

“Godwin wants the good people of Neo Domino to think that the mob doesn’t exist in his precious utopia, but it’s another lie. Organized crime is as much a threat here as it is anywhere, and he’s struggling to control it.

“We’ve suspected for a long time that DaPen might be a Shadow, but we can’t make any definite conclusions. Not many people ever actually see him. Godwin thinks he conducts his ‘business’ from somewhere in Satellite, but Security has yet to make any headway in rooting him out.”

“So where do we go from here, Shichiro?” asked Ember. “If I agree to this… And I haven’t yet… Am I going to be your apprentice?”

“Ah, heh, heh, heh,” chuckled Shichiro, nervously. “No, not mine… I can’t do that…”

“Why not?” asked Ember.

“Well, I’ll tell you one of my dirty little secrets,” said Shichiro. “About two years ago, I pursued an unauthorized project. I thought that, with training, a Sensitive could be made into an Aware. So, I found an incredibly powerful Sensitive, and took him under my wing.

“But like I said before, no-one can purposely become Aware. It didn’t work out. We had a falling out, and he left. The fact of the matter is, I’m a good duelist, I’m a good fighter, but I’m a lousy teacher.

“But don’t worry, I have someone else in mind, and I’m sure she’ll be happy to do it.

“Now, if you decide to take me up on it, meet me here at seven tomorrow morning.”

He handed her a card.

“If you get in trouble before then, that’s my cell, and that’s my pager. Don’t call after midnight unless it’s an emergency, because I have to sleep sometime…”

Shichiro watched as Ember got into a cab (and paid the cabbie himself) and then watched it drive off.

Then he dialed his cell phone.

“Gears?” he said. “I’m coming back. I think we’ll see this one again. In the meantime, is Jinx there?”

“Not right now,” replied Gears. “She just called, said she was chasing some dark elf who had lifted some green ice.”

“Green ice?” asked Shichiro. “Uh, that’s gangster slang for stolen emeralds, right?”

“You got it,” replied Gears. “I don’t need to tell you what gemstones mean to magic-sensitive races…”



My dad said a lot of smart things, as I already told you. One smart thing he often said was that a good way to make a decision was to sleep on it. And I was tired enough right now to sleep thought Armageddon.

As I lay in bed in my modest apartment, I wondered what was going on in the city… I wondered how many of these Shadowchasers there were, and if there were battles going on between them and creatures that I had only seen before in fairy tales.

I thought of many things, such as my kindergarten teacher, who had read to me and my class such children’s classics as Green Eggs and Ham and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Had she been a supernatural being all along? I thought of all the other fantasies I remembered from my childhood that I had assumed were just dreams…

Around midnight, something woke up in me… A small nudge that turned the doubt I was experiencing into excitement…

And something occurred to me…

I had made a wish right before Hebi-Na had attacked me… It seemed that my wish had come true.



Coming up next:

We move away from Shichiro, and into the mean streets of Neo Domino, as a friend of his, that Shadowchaser whom he named Jinx a minute ago, pursues her target to the best of her ability. A Turbo Duel where every move is decided by whim starts, as she tries to bring bad luck to her foe. Be here next time for “Lucky Chance”, or you’re out of luck.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
11th January 2009, 06:56 AM
Very interesting chapter. I loved how you explained everything. Neo domino like in the animé made way for a whole new, harry-potter-like world. It's cool how you seemed to combine MIB, Harry Potter and YGO features all in one fic.

The new fantasy world looks promising, and although I'm still not convinced of Shichiro's character, I'm looking forward into seeing the rest, including Ember.

Good going.

jkBAKURA
11th January 2009, 10:10 AM
Now THIS is a story! This is turning out to be the most mature and well thought out fic I've ever seen from you DS. You've obviously spent time working out the logic and answered many of the questions and possible plot holes in a very natural sounding way.

Heck, with a premise like this, you may want to consider several smaller story arcs instead of one big one.

It combines the best elements of Van Helsing and Yu Yu Hakusho and even manages to throw in dueling all WITHOUT taking it too far from the world of the anime.

The couple months of waiting were well spent indeed.

Here's hoping the quality doesn't go down, and I don't want to jinx it (pun intended by the way) but you have me hooked in a way that makes this look like more then just another one of your fanfic projects.

*sigh* if Paradox was still in the game, I bet even he would give this one a look.

I hope you have plans to keep the effort up, (which is a tall order to ask, good writing is exhausting), but you've always been dedicated, and this proves you have what it takes to go one step further.

Congratulations

Shuppet Master
11th January 2009, 01:21 PM
Wow, I'm having recollections of "Men In Black", when the main character was invited to join the Men In Black and had to change his lifestyle so he basically lived his life at work and was "erased" from society.

This is a great story, Brian. I'm definitely thinking of writing a new Yu-Gi-Oh fanfic now! :D

EDIT: I'm still seeing a clone of Yusei in Shichiro, but it's not as bad now. We really need to do fanart here!

Jinx is that character you narrated in the second trailer, wasn't it? The one with the gamble deck? I can't wait to see her!

Dark Sage
15th January 2009, 12:22 AM
CHAPTER FIVE




http://www.ideal808.com/images/lodt_en0781.jpg



Now, you’re all probably wondering, just what DO gemstones mean to magic-sensitive races? As I found out later, Mundanes really have no idea.

Humans value gems because of their beauty, and their rarity. Not to mention for their durability. Men give their sweethearts diamond-studded engagement rings, not only because of the beauty, but because they are symbolic. A marriage is supposed to last forever, and even if it doesn’t, the diamond will. In the case of diamonds that aren’t so pretty, they are valued for their hardness. Diamond-tipped drills and saws are among the sharpest cutting instruments made by man.

Shadowkind value gems for all these purposes as well. But only Shadows realize that gems have yet another value. The Earth is a living creature, and she’s a source of great magical power. Traces of her power are found in the treasures dug up from her deepest parts, the precious stones that the rich covet. In other words, there’s magic in gems. Thus, wizards can use precious stones as components in the most powerful of spells, or as parts of powerful magical items.

And diamonds are not the most precious of gems as far as magic is concerned. That distinction goes to a gem called adamantine. Mundane humans don’t know about this gem, because only certain Shadowkind can find them, let alone mine them, and they’d never sell them to Mundanes. The power they hold is incredible. Second in power is diamonds… And then comes emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, the three of which are about equal. Most of the time, the more valuable a gem is as far as its monetary value, the more magical power it has.

And that’s the catch… Whether you want a gem because of its beauty or because of its magical power, such objects are always incredibly expensive… And they are targets for Shadows who are thieves just as much as humans who are.



As Shichiro was driving home, a chase was happening on the other side of town, close to the financial district.

A dark elf thief named Malken had recently lifted what looked like the score of his life. A case of fine, cut emeralds, just arrived from Colombia, and on its way to the Neo Domino Reserve. They were just precious stones to him, since he wasn’t a wizard, but he knew of several who would pay through the nose for them. And once he sold them, he would be eating steak and drinking champagne for a year. A thief by trade, he knew that the transition period had the lowest security for an item of value, so he had swooped into the much smaller bank where they had been stored and gotten them. Even better, he had gotten away long before Sector Security had arrived. As he drove away with his prize, he had chuckled as he envisioned the foolish humans wondering how he had cracked that holding safe so easily.

In fact, he thought he could probably make the most money selling them to his clan leader, doing away with most of the fuss in the process. Normally, the leader of a Shadowkind clan would get in trouble for letting its members steal, let alone encouraging it. But dark elf matrons were far cleverer than any orc chieftain. She would simply not ask him where the gems had come from, so if anyone questioned her, she could honestly say that she had no knowledge of them being stolen. (This trick was nothing new – human fences have used it for years, and Shadows had learned a great deal from humans.)

But as of five minutes ago, his plans had fallen apart. While he had evaded Security, he had not evaded the Shadowchaser who had come to investigate. And as he drove his jet-black D-Wheel at high speed down the street, she was in hot pursuit.

Her D-Wheel was a similar design to Shichiro’s (it had been built by the same person – Gears) and her outfit was similar too; not shabby, but not too much money spent on needless frivolities. She was two years older than Shichiro; her long, blonde hair trailed from beneath her helmet, flying in the wind as she chased after the thief.

Her friends called her Jinx, for a good reason that anyone who knew her quickly understood. Only Jalal and her parents ever used her real name anymore.

Malken looked at his console, saw the rear view, and saw that she was gaining. Her D-Wheel was much better well-built than his.

“No way some Shadowchaser is gonna throw me in the cooler!” he shouted.

He hung on tight to his prize as he turned a corner, running a red light. Jinx continued to pursue. She smirked as she saw him turn into a large parking garage.

“Big mistake, pal,” she said with a smirk. “Now you have nowhere to go but up… And once you get to the top, you’re going down…”

She drove in, and saw Malken waiting for her in the middle of the first floor. She slowed to a halt.

“I believe you have something that doesn’t belong to you, hot-shot,” she said.

“And what would the humans do with this ice?” asked Malken. “Turn it into necklaces and bracelets? Never realize what it can actually do? Stuff like this is wasted on the Clueless.”

“They’re the ones who bought it, and they can do with it as they please,” replied Jinx. “It’s not your job to judge. Now, are you going to give it back quietly, or do we have to this the hard way?”

Malken sneered.

He took a deck out of his belt, and plugged it into his gauntlet.

Jinx sighed.

“They always want to do it the hard way,” she said.

She placed her own deck into her own gauntlet.

“You’re not taking me without a fight!” replied Malken. “The ice is my way to easy street, and you’re gonna have to make me give it back!”

“Fine…” said Jinx. “Then I’ll just have to. And to think, I thought this was gonna be a dull night…”

The Field Spell flashed into existence on the dashboards of both their D-Wheels. Quickly, the parking garage was transformed into the pulsating realm of Speed World.

“Catch me if you can!” shouted the elf.

He started his D-Wheel, and it drove down the corridor, with Jinx in pursuit.



(Jinx: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Malken: 8,000)


“I’m gonna put you on ice, fast!” shouted Malken, drawing his first card. “I summon Red Gadget in Attack Mode!”

He threw a card on his controls, and a Machine appeared in a burst of digital ones and zeroes. It was a cute robot, with red plating, googly eyes on its face, and a large gear on its back. (1,300 ATK)

“Your Monster looks like it came from a toy store!” laughed Jinx.

“It may be a toy, but it’s not playing around,” replied Malken. “By summoning it…”

“I know, I know…” replied Jinx. “You get to take a Yellow Gadget from your deck. Well, I’m not scared of him, either.”

A card slipped out of Malken’s deck, and he stowed it on his gauntlet. Then he chose another one.

“I’ll throw two cards facedown, for later,” he said.

Two facedown cards appeared, and then faded from sight.

Probably Trap Cards to protect that Gadget, thought Jinx, as she made her first draw. Well, I won’t bite yet…

Both Speed Counters clicked up a notch, going up to one apiece.

“I summon Abare Ushioni!” she shouted.

A portal opened beside her bike, and with a loud bellow, a bulky creature charged out of it. It was bull-like in shape, with red skin, three eyes, and odd tattoos all over. It started to run next to Jinx’s bike. (1,200 ATK)

“HA!” laughed Malken. “That guy can’t beat my Gadget!”

“He doesn’t have to attack to hurt you,” replied Jinx. “When I give the command, a coin is gonna toss. If I call it right, you lose 1,000 Life Points. If I call it wrong, I lose 1,000 Life Points.

“Doesn’t that sound like fun?”

Then a blast of golden energy shot out from the rear of her Runner, forming into a spinning coin.

“Heads!” she shouted.

The coin landed between the two D-Wheels, and spun rapidly…

Then it slowly came to a stop. It was heads.

Abare Ushioni snorted, and a blast of energy shot from its three eyes, striking Malken’s bike. He grunted, as his Speed Counters dropped back to zero.

“Lucky…” he muttered.

“I’ll set a facedown card of my own,” said Jinx as a facedown card flashed into existence on the other side of her bike. “And with that, I end my turn.”



(J: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 7,000)


Malken quickly drew a card. His Speed Counter rose back up to one, while Jinx’s rose to two.

“I summon Yellow Gadget!” he shouted.

In another digital flash, another toy robot appeared. This one was yellow, naturally, with a single eye on its headless torso, a gear in running lengthwise through the center of its body, the two halves of a gear on either side of its back, and arms that looked like pipe cleaners. (1,200 ATK)

“By doing that, I get to pull Green Gadget from my deck…”

A card slipped out of his deck, and he took it.

“Red Gadget!” he shouted. “Turn her Abare Ushioni into hamburger! Attack!”

Red Gadget rushed at the large bull.

“Not so fast!” shouted Jinx, as her facedown card lifted up and spun around. “I activate… Fairy Box!”

The image of a colorful whack-a-mole appeared behind her, and loony music started to play.

“Now I get to toss a coin each time you attack, and if I guess the toss right, your Monster’s Attack Score falls all the way to zero!”

Once again, a blast of energy shot out of the rear of her bike, and turned into a spinning coin.

“Heads again!” she shouted.

The coin slowly stopped spinning… It was indeed heads.

“Aw, man!” shouted Malken, as Red Gadget’s Attack Score plummeted.

Abare Ushioni snorted, and rammed the Machine, blowing it to pieces. Malken grunted as his Speed Counter fell to zero again.

“I end my turn!” he shouted.



(J: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 5,800)


He swerved around a corner, and up the ramp to the second floor of the parking garage. Jinx had him treed, it seemed, but she still had to win this duel. She quickly followed him.

She drew a card. Her own Speed Counters went up to three, while his went up to one again. She knew she simply had to keep pounding away at him. If she kept his Speed Counter down, the moves he could make would be limited.

“I pay 500 Life Points to keep Fairy Box,” she said.

She looked at the card she had just drawn, and added it to the hand of cards on her gauntlet.

“Then I use Abare Ushioni’s effect again!” she shouted, as the coin shot out of her bike. “Tails this time!”

The coin started to spin once more. It stopped.

It was tails.

“I’m having the worst luck…” muttered Malken.

“They don’t call me Jinx for nothing,” replied Jinx.

Ushioni’s eyes started to glow.

“But my luck is about to get better!” shouted Malken, as he discarded a card.

The blast fired, and was halted by a dome of pure light.

“Huh?” said Jinx.

“I just discarded a Hanewata,” replied Malken. “It shields me from all effect damage this turn.”

“I see,” added Jinx. “Well, it’s time to say goodbye to Abare Ushioni anyway…

“I sacrifice him…”

Abare Ushioni turned into an orb of light…

“…to bring out Maximum Six!”

The orb exploded, and in its place was a huge, hulking ogre, with purple skin and six arms. The Roman Numeral for six was tattooed on his chest. (1,900 ATK)

“Here’s the deal,” continued Jinx, as the huge creature followed her. “I’m gonna roll a die this time. Then, I multiply the result by 200, and add it to this big guy’s Attack Score.

“So…”

Then a different blast of energy shot out of the rear of her bike. It turned into a die and bounced on the floor between the two runners.

It came up five.

Maximum Six roared, and flexed its muscles. (2,900 ATK)

“Not bad,” said Jinx. “Maximum Six, smash his Yellow Gadget!”

The ogre flew at the robot. With one punch, the Gadget was squashed flat, and Malken’s bike wobbled, as his Speed Counter fell to zero again.

“Trap activate!” shouted Malken, as one of his facedown cards spun around. “The Grave of Enkindling!”

“Eh?” said Jinx.

“Now, we each Special Summon a Monster from our Graveyards in Defense Mode,” replied Malken. “So, I’m bringing Red Gadget back.”

Red Gadget appeared, crouching in Defense Mode. (1,500 DEF)

Jinx gestured, and Abare Ushioni appeared in front of her, sitting in Defense Mode. (1,200 DEF)



(J: 7,500) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 4,100)


Hanewata is still protecting him from effect damage, thought Jinx. Using Ushioni’s effect again would only be a risk to me.

“Your move, hotshot,” she said. “Unless you want to give up right now.”

“NEVER!” shouted Malken, as he swerved up the ramp to the third floor.

He drew a card.

He smirked.

His Speed Counters went up to one once again, while Jinx’s went up to four.

“First, I summon my Sinister Sprocket!”

A small but odd Monster appeared next to Red Gadget. It looked like a dark spool with eyes, trailing a long length of chain. (400 ATK)

A Tuner Monster? thought Jinx. But that means he’s going to summon a… Humph, he stole it, most likely…

“Next,” continued Malken, as his other facedown card lifted, “I activate Give and Take. Now, I can summon Hanewata to your side of the field.”

Jinx looked surprised as a small Watapon with wings appeared in front of her. (300 DEF)

“It also means that my Monster goes up in Levels equal to Hanewata’s Level,” continued Malken. “So Red Gadget is Level 5 now.

“Time to put the chill on you and your gamble cards!”

Sinister Sprocket wrapped its chain around Green Gadget. The two Monsters flew towards the ceiling, and burst into six stars. A large shape started to rise behind Malken.

“I Synchro Summon… Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Boundary!”

A cold wind blew through the whole parking garage, as the huge Monster appeared. It was a huge, winged, crystalline serpent, with a chilling glare that radiated pure cold. (2,300 ATK)

“Ho boy…” muttered Jinx.

“Now I activate Brionac’s effect,” chuckled Malken. “By sending a card in my hand to the Graveyard, I can send one card on the field back to its owner’s hand! So I’ll be taking back Hanewata.”

He discarded a card, and a cold wind blew in Jinx’s direction. Hanewata vanished, appearing in Malken’s hand.

“By the way,” continued Malken, “that card I discarded was a special card called Ojamagic. That means I get to take my three Ojama cards from my deck.”

Three more cards slipped out of his deck.

“Giving you three more cards to discard, right?” growled Jinx.

“You’d better believe it,” said Malken, as he discarded the three cards.

The cold wind blew again, and Jinx’s Fairy Box, Abare Ushioni, and Maximum Six vanished, appearing in Jinx’s hand.

“Seems your lucky streak is ending right now!” he laughed. “Attack directly! Chilling blight!”

Brionac breathed a stream of pure cold, slamming into Jinx’s D-Wheel and causing it to shake. She shivered as her Speed Counters were knocked down to two.

“Heh, heh,” chuckled Malken. “Your move…”



(J: 5,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 4,100)


Jinx quickly drew a card. Her Speed Counters rose to three, while his rose to two.

He has Hanewata in his hand again, she thought. He’d just use it again if I tried to use Abare Ushioni, and then he’d attack and wipe it out. Better just stall…

Malken was surprised when Jinx simply set a reversed card, and signaled the end of her turn.

“HA, HA, HA, HA!” he laughed. “Did you forget about Brionac’s effect already? He can blow that Trap Card right off the field!”

“Just move,” replied Jinx.

“I will,” laughed Malken, drawing a card.

His Speed Counters rose to three, while Jinx’s rose to four.

“And here goes my Trap Card!” shouted Jinx, as the card she had just set spun around. “Threatening Roar! Now, you can’t attack me this turn!”

A loud roar ripped through the garage, and Brionac recoiled.

“You’re just stalling,” growled Malken. “I’ll summon Green Gadget anyway.”

In another digital blast, the third of the Gadgets appeared. True to its name, it was green, and seemed to have one big gear for a torso. (1,400 ATK)

“Now I get to search for a second Red Gadget,” he said, as a new card slipped out of his deck.

He sped up ahead of her, speeding up the ramp, and up to the fourth floor.

I have to beat that huge Sea Serpent this round, thought Jinx. If I don’t, he’ll just use its effect again…

She drew again. Her Speed Counters rose to five, while his rose to four.

“I activate Speed Spell – Angel Baton!” she shouted, as a Speed Spell appeared on her side of the field. “Now, I get to draw two cards…”

She made two draws.

“…so long as I then discard one from my hand.”

She quickly discarded Abare Ushioni. She looked over her hand.

“And now, with my Speed Counters holding on at more than four, I can play this! Speed Spell – Speed Fusion!”

She shifted gears, as a more powerful Speed Spell appeared.

“I’ll fuse together Alligator’s Sword and Baby Dragon…” she said.

Two of Katsuya Jonouchi’s signature Monsters appeared in front of her. They swirled together like two colors of light.

Then they combined in a burst, resembling Alligator’s Sword riding a larger version of Baby Dragon as a mount. (1,700 ATK)

“What did you do, copy Jonouchi’s deck card for card?” laughed Malken. “Imitating him doesn’t give you his luck. And just how is that guy going to beat Brionac?”

“HE isn’t,” replied Jinx. “You saw one side of my deck… Now see the other. I summon… X-Saber Palomlo!”

The portal behind her opened again, and a new Monster emerged. It was a lizard man of some sort, but far more serious-looking than Alligator’s Sword. He was garbed in barbarian armor, holding a battle-axe with an X-shaped insignia on the hilt. (200 ATK)

“An X-Saber Monster?” asked Malken. “I’ve… I’ve heard of them.”

“Good,” said Jinx. “They’re quite fond of their reputation. And this one happens to be a Tuner. So let’s go, people!”

Palomlo held his weapon in front of him, and it shone with energy. He and Alligator’s Sword Dragon flew towards the ceiling, and turned into six shimmering stars.

“I Synchro Summon… Gaia Knight, the Force of Earth!”

With a loud whiny, a rider galloped onto the field. He at first suggested Gaia the Fierce Knight, but with updated armor. He still held his trademark lances, as he galloped alongside Jinx’s bike. (2,600 ATK)

“Oh, man…” muttered Malken.

“Gaia, attack his Dragon!” shouted Jinx. “Spiral Spear Strike!”

Gaia charged, and stabbed his spear into the great beast’s gizzard. Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Boundary let out a roar, and then shattered into shards of ice.

“I’m not finished yet!” shouted Malken.

“We’ll see,” said Jinx.

A facedown card appeared on her side of the field before fading.

“It’s your move.”



(J: 5,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 3,800)


Malken made a draw, as his Speed Counters went up to five, while Jinx’s went up to six.

He frowned. Green Gadget crouched in Defense Mode. (600 DEF)

“That’s all,” he said.

Jinx drew a card. Both Speed Counters went up a notch again.

“I set one Monster in Defense Mode,” she said.

A hidden Monster appeared, and then faded from sight.

“Then I attack!”

Gaia charged, and skewered Green Gadget. It burst into pixels.

“I end my turn,” she said.

Malken quickly drew. His Counters went up again, to six.

“I set a Monster in Defense Mode, and a card facedown,” he said, as a reversed card and a hidden Monster appeared. “And that will be all.”

The facedown cards faded.

Jinx shifted gears and sped alongside of him, with Gaia riding alongside, as she made a draw. Both Speed Counters clicked up a notch, hers going up to eight, and his going up to seven.

Hmm, Lost Star Descent, she thought, looking at the card she had drawn.

“I set a card facedown,” she said, setting it.

“Then I attack with Gaia!”

Gaia charged once again. As he did, a ceramic jar appeared on the card. A shadowy, one-eyed creature with a toothy mouth emerged from it, and let out a loud cackle before it shattered.

“That was my Morphing Jar!” laughed Malken. “Now we have to ditch all the cards in our hands, and draw five replacements!”

They both quickly discarded their hands, and made five draws each. Jinx placed them on her gauntlet, and looked them over.

“It’s your move…” she said.

The two D-Wheels turned, riding up the incline to the next floor. Malken drew a card. His Speed Counter clicked up to eight, while hers rose to nine.

“I summon… My third Red Gadget!” he shouted.

Red Gadget appeared once again. (1,300 ATK)

A second Yellow Gadget slipped out of his deck.

“Now, a Trap Card,” he said, as his facedown card spun around. “The powerful Ultimate Offering. This let’s make as many Normal Summons as I want, so long as I pay 500 Life Points for each additional one.

“So I’ll pay 500 Life Points to summon Yellow Gadget.”

Yellow appeared next to Red. (1,200 ATK) Another Green Gadget slipped out of his deck.

“And I’ll do it again to summon Green.”

His Life Points went down by 500 again, and Green Gadget appeared. (1,400 ATK)

“And finally…” he said. “I’ll use Ultimate Offering one more time… And sacrifice Green and Yellow…”

The two Gadgets vanished into orbs of light.

A double sacrifice? thought Jinx. What the heck is he…

“I summon…” shouted Malken, “the Ancient Gear Gadjiltron Dragon!”

With a roar, a giant Machine appeared behind Malken. It was a Dragon only in basic outline, apparently cobbled together from scrap metal and junk, put together in a haphazard way. But even though it was made from spare parts, it seemed to form a terrifying gestalt that exuded raw strength. (3,000 ATK)

Good lord… thought Jinx. This is not your average jewel thief…

“Attack!” shouted Malken. “Ice her Knight!”

Flames appeared in the huge Machine’s mouth…

“Not so fast!” shouted Jinx. “I activate…”

Oh no! she thought. Since that’s an Ancient Gear Machine, my Traps are useless during the Battle Phase! I can’t use my Fairy Box!

Balls of molten flame shot from Ancient Gear Gadjiltron Dragon’s maw, and Gaia Knight, Force of the Earth was blown to bits.

“And since I sacrificed Yellow to summon him,” continued Malken, “you lose an additional 600 Life Points.

“Now, Red Gadget… Attack her other Monster!”

Red Gadget flew at the facedown Monster…

Where the card had been, a new Warrior appeared. He was clothed in blue barbarian armor, with a mask covering the right side of his face, and the X insignia on his knee guards. He held a large sword, with the same X design on the blade. He blocked the blow with his blade, and Red Gadget bounced off. (0 DEF)

“Huh?” said Malken. “Zero Defense Points?”

“That’s right,” said Jinx. “But X-Saber Passiul can’t be destroyed in battle. In exchange for that, I lose 1,000 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases.”

“Ha!” laughed Malken. “My Dragon also has a trampling effect! I’ll be able to take you out in two turns at most!

“I end my turn.”



(J: 4,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 2,300)


They both sped up the last ramp, and unto the roof of the parking garage. The night sky was overhead, and the full moon loomed above.

Jinx drew a card. Her Speed Counter rose to ten.

Time to put the chill on this guy, she thought.

“I activate… Lost Star Descent!” she shouted, as one of her facedown cards lifted. “This lets me bring a Synchro Monster back in Defense Mode! Guess who it is…”

In a flash of light, Gaia reappeared, again riding next to Jinx, but his lances were put away, and he was holding on tight to the reigns of his horse. (0 DEF)

“Swell,” laughed Malken. “Now you have two Monsters with zero Defense!”

“Gaia’s Defense is reduced to zero by my Trap,” replied Jinx, “AND his Level is reduced by one.”

“Huh?” replied Malken.

“And guess what…” continued Jinx. “Passiul is also a Tuner Monster. But unlike his friend Palomlo, he’s Level 2.

“Now, I Tune my two Monsters together, to Synchro Summon my favorite Monster! Go!”

Passiul held up his weapon, and it shimmered in the dim light. He and Gaia flew into the sky, and formed into seven stars…

“Meet the lord of X-Saber!” exclaimed Jinx. “The mighty… X-Saber Urbellum!”

With a roar, a much more powerful Warrior descended. He was again dressed in barbarian armor, but was far more muscular, wearing a helmet made from the skull of a steer. The X insignia was on his belt, and two long swords were strapped to his back. (2,200 ATK)

“Mighty, my foot,” laughed Malken. “He may be impressive, but he doesn’t come close to being able to take down my Dragon.”

“Oh really?” said Jinx, as a Speed Spell appeared on her side of the field. “With my Speed Counter this high, I can play Speed Spell – Speed Energy! Now, for every Speed Counter I have, Urbellum here gains 200 more Attack Points! That’s 2,000 added to his score!”

X-Saber Urbellum glowed with a powerful aura of energy. (4,200 ATK)

“Oh…” said Malken, starting to freak. “My Dragon is a goner!”

“No it isn’t…” said Jinx with a grin. “Why bother with your Dragon when I can end this duel by attacking your other Monster?”

Malken looked at his controls with a start. He had almost forgotten about Red Gadget.

“Urbellum…” shouted Jinx. “Attack Red Gadget with mystical rage!”

X-Saber Urbellum drew one of his blades, and leapt into the air, forming a silhouette against the moon. With a roar, he brought it down on Red Gadget, blowing it to pieces. Malken screamed and skidded to a halt.



(J: 4,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 0)


Steam poured out of the engine of Malken’s bike. He held his head in a daze.

Then he noticed that the case of emeralds had fallen on the floor next to him.

He scrambled to get it…

And then Jinx’s foot fell on it.

“Uh, uh…” she said, shaking her finger.

As Jinx lifted her own gemstone to make the arrest, Malken started punching his console and spouting obscenities in elven.



* * * * * * * * * *


Malken had been taken care of, and Jinx was about to head back. As she got back on her bike, her cell phone rang.

“Yeah?” she said, answering it. “Shichiro? Yeah, I’m almost done here. I just have to wait for Security to get here, and then leave once I put these emeralds somewhere where they’re certain to find them.

“Really? You don’t say…

“Mmm. Well, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting…

“Okay, I’ll be heading back… Not like I want to talk about it over the phone…”



* * * * * * * * * *


It was now nine o’clock.

Back at the townhouse, Shichiro and Jinx were looking up all the information they could on Ember using their laptop and their computer-hacking skills.

“Straight-A student, member of the French club, girl’s lacrosse team,” muttered Jinx. “Seems like the girl next door. And I don’t mean the type who would appear in anything that Hugh Hefner thought up.”

“Let’s just say I have a hunch about this one, Jinx,” said Shichiro.

“And your hunches are notorious for always being right,” sighed Jinx, sarcastically.

“Maybe not,” said Shichiro. “But this isn’t the same.”

“Looks like she got the job as Draco’s secretary by pure luck,” continued Jinx. “There were over five-hundred applicants…”

“You’ll note that her employee record is almost spotless,” replied Shichiro. “If anything, I don’t think Ember is someone who would ever be a risk of turning rogue.”

“Possibly, Shichiro,” said Jinx, “but you know I can’t take an apprentice without Jalal’s approval.”

“And you have that approval,” said a voice.

Everyone turned around, and saw the holographic projection of Jalal, that had just appeared.

“I’ve seen mice that made more noise than you,” said Jinx. “You sure, boss?”

“Let’s just say I have the same hunch as Shichiro,” replied Jalal. “I’d recommend you accept young Michiko as your apprentice. If she succeeds, and I have a feeling she will, it may benefit you in the long run.”

Jinx sighed.

“Well, how can I say no?” she replied. “Bring her here tomorrow! We can get started…”

Then they all saw that Gears was putting his coat on. It was a black overcoat, though a rather plain one.

“Where are you off to, Gears?” asked Shichiro.

“I’m going out to a movie,” replied Gears, as he picked up his helmet. “Don’t wait up…”

He headed out for the garage.



One thing you gotta love about Neo Domino City – it never closed. Even more so than New York, it was a city that never slept.

If you wanted to go grocery shopping, or go get a burger and fries, or go out to see a movie, like Gears wanted to do, or do almost anything, you could do it at any time. Almost every place in the city was open twenty-four hours. And no matter what time it was, there was always a place where you could find something to do, be it a concert, play, or other activity.

Of course, Gears was soon going to get a little more than he had bargained for, and it would soon lead to the formal beginning of my start in this new world that I would wake up to…



X-SABER URBELLUM (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Warrior/Synchro/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 7
ATK: 2,200
DEF: 1,300

Card Description: Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner Monsters

When your opponent has 4 or more cards in his hand, and this card inflicts battle damage to your opponent, your opponent selects 1 random card in his hand and places it on the top of his/her deck.



BRIONAC, DRAGON OF THE ICE BOUNDARY (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Sea Serpent/Synchro/Effect
Attribute: Water
Level: 6
ATK: 2,300
DEF: 1,400

Card Description: Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner Monsters

Discard any number of cards from your hand. Return a number of cards from the field to the respective owners’ hands equal to the number of cards discarded.

Note: “X-Saber Urbellum” and “Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Boundary” were released in Japan for the original “Duel Terminal” system. They have not yet been released in the United States.



X-SABER PALOMLO (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Reptile/Tuner/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 1
ATK: 200
DEF: 300

Card Description: When an “X-Saber” Monster you control is destroyed as a result of battle, you may pay 500 Life Points to Special Summon this card from your Graveyard.



X-SABER PASSIUL (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Warrior/Tuner/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 2
ATK: 100
DEF: 0

Card Description: This card cannot be destroyed by battle. While this card is face-up on the field, you take 1,000 points of damage during each of your opponent’s Standby Phases.

Note: “X-Saber Palomlo” and “X-Saber Passiul” were released in Japan for the “Duel Terminal 2: Invasion of Worms!!” system. They have not yet been released in the United States.



GIVE AND TAKE (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: A duelist in the background behind Junk Synchron, facing Junk Warrior in the foreground.

Card Description: Select one Monster in your Graveyard and Special Summon it to your opponent’s side of the field in face-up Defense Position. Increase the Level of one face-up Monster you control by the Level of the Special Summoned Monster until the End Phase of the current turn.

Note: “Give and Take” was released in Japan in the “Duelist Pack 8: Yusei Fudo” set. (American release date not yet known.)



SPEED SPELL – SPEED FUSION (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: Dark Magician and Flame Swordsman standing in Speed World’s energy field, with the shadowy form of Dark Flare Knight behind them.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 4 or more Speed Counters. Send Fusion Material Monsters that are listed on a Fusion Monster Card from your hand or your side of the field to the Graveyard, and Special Summon the appropriate Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck. (This is considered a Fusion Summon.)

Note: “Speed Spell – Speed Fusion” was first used by Jack in the “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s” episode “A Blast From The Past (Part 1)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



SPEED SPELL – SPEED ENERGY (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: Two eagles flying through the energy of Speed World.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 6 or more Speed Counters. Select one face-up Monster you control. Until the End Phase of the turn, increase the ATK of the selected Monster by the number of Speed Counters you have x200. The selected Monster cannot attack your opponent directly this turn.



SPEED SPELL – ANGEL BATON (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: The angel from “Graceful Charity” holding a glowing bead between her hands.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 2 or more Speed Counters. Draw two cards. Then, discard one card from your hand.

Note: “Speed Spell – Speed Energy” and “Speed Spell – Angel Baton” were both first used by Yusei in the Anime Tour special episode. (“Speed Spell – Angel Baton” was previously seen in Crow’s deck, but not used.) Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



You people are all likely wondering by now what kind of deck Gears has. Well, next chapter, you’ll wonder no more. But the Turbo Duel that he gets into is unlike any duel so far, as it is an unexpected ambush from a suspicious source. Be here, as the story starts to take shape, in earnest. “Light-Imprisoning Mirror” is coming up next.

Shuppet Master
15th January 2009, 11:19 AM
Sorry I didn't reply as soon as the update came, the stupid forums decided to log me off and I had forgotten my password and had to reset it. :mad:

Anyways, this was an excellent chapter, but I am repeating myself. The game deck is sort of interesting, but it's nice to see she doesn't rely TOTALLY on gamble, she has those strange X-Saber barbarians too. :)

And it seems you're going to have any duel with another character. I think that is what the Yu-Gi-Oh series so great - they didn't waste their time with too much "life story"(the characters piddling around and doing mundane stuff), and when they did, they usually found a way to throw a duel in there to keep it exciting.

I can't wait to see what deck Gears has.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
15th January 2009, 01:11 PM
I don't really like Jinx's deck, and the battle was so-so, but I really do like the plotline. And to agree with Shuppetmaster, I'm very curious on Gears.

Keep it up.

jkBAKURA
15th January 2009, 01:58 PM
As an experienced reader, I have to take this chapter with a grain of salt and recognize it for what it is, a chapter solely to introduce the character of Jinx.

You haven't given us much yet, but she has potential. (I kind of see her as a blond Rei with a hint of Asuka)

Gamble deck for a main character is a bold choice indeed, and the X-Sabers give you one major advantage. Many people here in the states don't follow the Duel Terminal releases, so if this becomes a trend you have the advantage of not only educating the readers, but using themes that haven't been used in fiction much, therefore not becoming cliche or redundant.

As for the opponent's deck, well, it was kind of all over the map. If it was a Gadget deck I was expecting a bit more support, but if it was a Synchro deck that could have been made a little clearer.

Then again the point may have been that this guy was small potatoes to Jinx, therefore she stomped him in a few turns, (indeed re-reading she never lost control for an instant) but that could have been made a little clearer as well.

In a nutshell, it would have been nice to actually learn something about her instead of just watch her in action for the first time.

Anyway, looks like we're clearing the first hurtle of the introduction phase, and I'm drooling to see where all of this is going.

Dark Sage
19th January 2009, 12:03 AM
Hello folks. Today is the day we celebrate Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday. His real birthday was last week, of course, but people like having Mondays off in this country. Ah, well. I’m sure Rev. King wouldn’t have minded. He was a pretty easy-going guy.

If you have the day off, have a good one. And take time to read my new installment.




CHAPTER SIX




http://www.ideal808.com/images/glas_en069.jpg



Now, if you’re like I was at the time, you’re likely wondering what the deal is with Gears, the third member of this ‘team’ that Shichiro was a part of. Up to now, I had only heard him mentioned when Shichiro spoke to him over the phone, but I was curious.

Gears had been a Shadowchaser for longer than either Shichiro or Jinx. As you’ve already heard, he built and did maintenance for their D-Wheels. In addition, he was the resident engineer, gearhead, and computer hacker for the group in Neo Domino. Shichiro once told me that they have yet to build a device that he can’t figure out.

You might have surmised by now that he plays a Machine Deck. He does, but not for the reasons you may think. He originally played a deck much like Shichiro’s. But an incident about a year before Shichiro came along caused him to adapt a new deck, one that included some special Machines.

How special? Well, they’re odd, to say the least.



It was close to midnight.

Gears was exiting a movie theater (the movie that was highlighted on the marquee was a sci-fi flick called Grey Matter, Dark Matter) and he was trying very hard to convince himself that the bomb he had just seen was in some way worth the one-thousand yen he had spent to see it.

Ultimately, he failed to do so.

“Man, who writes this stuff?” he thought, as he mounted his D-Wheel.

He had a scary thought. If the producers in Hollywood gave the greenlight to films this bad, what were the screenplays that they rejected like?

His D-Wheel was a bit more high-tech than either Shichiro’s or Jinx’s, seeing as he had built it for his own personal use. The security system on it alone was worth the sticker price of most standard D-Wheels. He always reminded himself of how much of his blood, sweat, and tears had gone into it before he started it up, as he was about to do now.

He donned his helmet and looked down the road with a sigh.

It’s late… he thought. Best be getting back…

Then his stomach started to rumble. He had never been one to pay for overpriced popcorn at a movie.

Maybe I’ll get drive-through first, he thought. No need to bother Boris when I get back.

He didn’t know that another D-Wheel was following him as he drove away from the bright lights of the entertainment district towards the local burger place.

And he didn’t know it… Until the rider nearly sideswiped him.

“Hey!” shouted Gears.

He watched as the Wheel drove past him. The driver lifted his visor, and grinned at Gears, showing a face with a criminal marker and a very obvious five o’clock shadow.

He was human, but a guy whom Gears really didn’t like. And Gears wasn’t about to let this go unchallenged.

He shifted gears on his bike, and pulled up beside the careless driver.

“Scully?” he shouted. “When did they let you out of jail? And how the Hell did you get Security to give you your Wheel back?”

“I got out last week, pal!” laughed Scully. “Thought I’d look you up… And they didn’t give it back. I got a new one as part of the fringe benefits of my new job. I’m working for someone new now. I think you’ve heard of him… Name’s DaPen.”

“DaPen?” shouted Gears.

“Oh, yeah,” replied Scully. “He has big plans… Wanna know what they are?”

“You’d better start talking,” said Gears, “or I’ll…”

“Duel me!” shouted Scully. “You beat me this time, I’ll sing my head off!”

Gears growled as he pulled ahead. Scully was likely just mad because he had taken such a beating the last time.

He watched as Scully pulled onto the back roads of the rural area.

“All right, fine!” called Gears. “You’re on, Scully! I’ll beat you just like I did before!”

Only this time, he thought, my deck has changed for the better…

He hit a command on his console, and the Speed World card flashed into existence on his console. Scully quickly did the same, and the dark streets transformed into the shimmering lanes of Speed World.



(Gears: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Scully: 8,000)


“I’m taking you down for good this time!” shouted Gears, as he made his first draw.

He stashed the card on his gauntlet, and chose another one.

“And I’m calling out Ally of Justice Garadholg to make sure that happens!”

In a flash of eerie energy, a Monster bounded to the front of him. It was a Machine of some sort, roughly in the shape of a large dog or fox, with bronze armor. (1,600 ATK)

“A new one, Gears?” laughed Scully. “Sure doesn’t look like much…”

“Looks can deceive,” said Gears, taking another card. “I’ll set a reversed card, and call it a turn.”

A facedown card flashed into existence before fading.

“My move!” laughed Scully, whipping a card off of his deck.

Both Speed Counters rose to one.

“I Special Summon Gilasaurus in Attack Mode!” he laughed.

A portal behind him opened, and a vicious-looking raptor Dinosaur leapt out. It dashed beside his bike. (1,400 ATK)

“Normally, you’d be allowed to Special Summon a Monster from your Graveyard. But you don’t have one.”

“Still using Dinosaurs, Scully?” asked Gears. “Some things never change…”

“Oh, they don’t, do they?” asked Scully. “Well, since that was a Special Summon, I’m also bringing out Kabazauls.”

He played another card, and another, much bulkier Dinosaur flew out of the portal. It had red skin, a head like a hippopotamus, and seemed to have a bad case of hay fever. (1,700 ATK)

“This guy may have the sniffles,” said Scully, “but his sneeze is going to blow that Machine of yours away!

“Kabazauls, attack his… Uh, how do you pronounce that thing? Aw heck, just attack!”

Kabazauls looked ready to let loose a very big sneeze.

“Ah…” it said. “Ah… ah…”

“Something you should know about Garadholg,” said Gears. “It gains 200 Attack Points when it battles a Light Monster.”

“News flash!” laughed Scully. “Kabazauls is NOT a Light Monster!”

Then Gears’s facedown card lifted up.

“I activate DNA Transplant!” he shouted. “Now ALL Monsters on the field are Light Monsters!”

“Ah-CHOO!” sneezed Kabazauls, blowing a savage wind towards Garadholg. However, Garadholg pounced, and its Attack Score rose to 1,800. It slashed at the Dinosaur with its claws, and Kabazauls’s eyes bugged out before it shattered into pieces.

“All I have to say to your Kabazauls is,” said Gears, “gesundheit!”

“Okay, so you got lucky…” growled Scully. “I end my turn…”



(G: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 7,900)


Gears drew a card. Both Speed Counters rose to two.

“First, I set a Monster,” he said, as a Defensive Monster appeared briefly.

“Then Garadholg attacks your Gilasaurus!”

Garadholg pounced at the dino, its Attack Score rising to 1,800 again. Gilasaurus screeched, and was blown to pieces.

“It’s your move…”



(G: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 7,500)


Scully drew a card, as both Speed Counters rose to three. He turned a corner, down an alleyway, knocking over two trash cans as he did so. The trash cans few towards Gears’s D-Wheel, but he easily avoided them.

“I summon my Black Stego!” he shouted.

The portal opened again, and a large Dinosaur lumbered out of it. It was more or less a stegosaurus, with a grey hide and sharp teeth (an incorrect portrayal of an herbivore, of course). (1,200 ATK)

“I’ll throw a card facedown, and end my turn.”

A card appeared behind Black Stego, and faded.

“I know your Stego’s effect,” replied Gears. “It will move into Defense Mode as soon as I attack.”

He drew a card, and both Speed Counters rose to four.

“I flip my facedown Monster to Attack Mode… Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive!”

His facedown Monster flipped, and in an explosion of energy, a locomotive made of black steel with a fiendish face on the front appeared, chugging along next to his bike. Black smoke poured from its stack. (1,400 ATK)

“Now I get to draw one card,” said Gears, making a draw.

“And now I sacrifice Dekoichi…”

The locomotive vanished into an orb of energy…

“…to summon Ally of Justice Claíomh Solais!”

A new Machine swooped onto the field. This one appeared to have been built in the shape of a large condor or other bird of prey, again with bronze armor, with large wings and razor-sharp talons. (2,300 ATK)

“Jerks like you can’t escape Justice forever, Scully,” shouted Gears, “just like your Monsters can’t escape the Allies of Justice!”

“How corny can you get?” laughed Scully.

“I dunno,” said Gears, “I just thought it sounded ‘cool’.

“Claíomh Solais, attack his Black Stego!”

Claíomh Solais swooped down on the Dinosaur. Black Stego quickly curled up in a defensive position. (2,000 DEF) Claíomh Solais barely seemed to care, and made a slash with its talons, tearing it in half.

“Garadholg, attack that punk directly!” ordered Gears.

Scully braced himself as Garadholg pounced, and slammed into his bike. His Speed Counters were cut down a notch, down to three.

“Your move, pal,” said Gears. “How about trying something new for a change?”



(G: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 5,900)


Scully growled as he drew a card. His own Counter rose to four again, while Gears’s rose to five.

“All right, Gears,” he said. “I don’t know what the deal is with these weird Machines I can’t pronounce, and frankly, I don’t wanna know. Trap Card activate…”

His facedown card flipped up.

“Fossil Excavation. So, I toss one card…”

He threw his Mad Sword Beast into the discard slot on his console.

“…and I get to bring back one dino from my Graveyard.”

Gilasaurus appeared again, dashing beside his bike. (1,400 ATK)

“Now, I sacrifice it…”

Gilasaurus vanished into an orb of light…

“…to summon my Dark Driceratops!”

A larger Dinosaur appeared, flying over Scully’s D-Wheel. Whoever had designed this Monster clearly took inspiration from the theory that modern birds had evolved from dinosaurs. It was a winged cross between bird and reptile, with both scales and feathers, with a beak-like mouth. (2,400 ATK)

“Even with 200 more Attack Points, your little fox can’t beat this guy! Dark Driceratops, attack… Oh, attack the smaller one!”

Dark Driceratops roared, and swooped on Garadholg. The Machine’s Attack Score rose to 1,800, but like Scully said, it wasn’t enough to prevent it from being smashed to pieces.

“Ergh…” muttered Gears.



(G: 7,400) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 5,900)


“That’s half of my problem down,” laughed Scully, as he swerved to turn a corner again.

Gears quickly followed him, with Claíomh Solais in hot pursuit.

“There’s far more where he came from!” replied Gears, drawing a card.

His Speed Counters clicked up to six, while Scully’s rose to five.

“I sacrifice Claíomh Solais…” he said.

Claíomh Solais vanished into an orb of light.

“…to summon Ally of Justice Rudra!”

A new four-legged beast bounded onto the field. While Garadholg looked like a mechanical dog, this one more resembled a mechanical wolf. It had silver plating instead of bronze, and sharp edges all over. (1,900 ATK)

“Talk about dumb,” said Scully. “You sacrificed a Monster to summon a weaker one?”

“No, a stronger one,” replied Gears. “At least it is with my DNA Transplant still on the field. While Garadholg gains only 200 Attack Points while battling Light Monsters, Rudra gains a full 700 while doing so.”

“What do these Allies of Justice have against Light Monsters?!” shouted Scully.

“It’s a long story,” replied Gears. “I’ll write you a letter about it after Security arrests you.

“Rudra, flatten his Dark Driceratops!”

Rudra growled as it ran, and then pounced, jumping on the flying Dinosaur. Its Attack Score rose to 2,600, and Dark Driceratops burst.

“It’s your move, buster,” said Gears.



(G: 7,400) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 5,700)


Scully turned, and started to drive down a long stretch of road. Some people saw the two duelists coming, and ran for cover. Scully started to get worried. DaPen said he would delay Security, but he could only do so much…

He drew a card. His Counter went up to six, while Gears’s rose to seven.

He hit a button on his console.

“Autopilot on,” said a computerized voice.

“What are you doing?” asked Gears.

“Playing this,” replied Scully, as a Speed Spell appeared in front of him. “Speed Spell – Rage Recharge.”

Four cards appeared in front of him: Mad Sword Beast, Gilasaurus, Dark Driceratops, and Black Stego.

“Now, by paying only 800 Life Points,” he continued, “I get to take four Monsters from my Graveyard and return them to my deck.”

His console quickly shuffled his deck.

“They have to be one of a few certain Types of Monsters of course, but Dinosaurs fit the bill.

“Then I draw twice…”

He put his deck back in his gauntlet and made two draws.

Then he laughed out loud.

“You wanted to see something new, Gears?” he laughed. “Fine. I’m gonna bring out something else that DaPen gave me!

“First, since you have a Monster and I don’t, I can Special Summon Vice Dragon!”

The portal opened, and a large, incredibly ugly Dragon flew out of it. It had grey, pebbly skin, a face with a rounded snout and sharp teeth, disproportionately large claws, and large wings. (2,000 ATK)

“So now we’re switching to Dragons, huh?” asked Gears. “Well, I happen to know that since you Special Summoned it that way, you have to cut its Attack and Defense Scores in half.”

Vice Dragon’s head drooped a little. (1,000 ATK)

“I know that,” replied Scully. “That’s exactly why I’m gonna sacrifice it…”

Vice Dragon vanished into an orb of darkness.

“This next card is pretty rare… Jack Atlas has one, and I don’t know who else does… But DaPen was nice enough to give it to me!

“I summon Strong Wing Dragon!”

In a blast of gale-force wind, a new Dragon appeared where Vice Dragon had been. It looked humanoid in shape, with a rocky, grey hide, a fierce Dragon’s head with two horns, and very large wings. (2,400 ATK)

Whoa, thought Gears. Never saw THAT guy before… Atlas used this? I should watch more TV…

“Guess what Gears?” said Scully. “This guy has an effect you should know about. Since I sacrificed a Dragon to summon him, he gains half of that Dragon’s base Attack Points.

“Vice Dragon’s base Attack Score was 2,000, so…”

“I know how to add, pal,” snapped Gears.

(3,400 ATK)

What a beast… thought Gears, getting a little nervous. He got this from DaPen? Whoever said ‘Crime doesn’t pay’ was full of it…

“Attack his Machine!” ordered Scully. “Strong Hurricane!”

The wind picked up, and Strong Wind Dragon breathed a virtual storm at Rudra.

Rudra’s Attack Score rose to 2,600, but it still burst under the onslaught. Gears did his best to keep balance as his Life Points fell.

“My move is over,” laughed Scully. “Make your move… That is, if you even have a Monster that can take down this one…”



(G: 6,600) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 4,900)


I have a few, thought Gears. Only problem is, none of them are in my hand right now…

He drew a card. His Speed Counters rose to eight, while Scully’s rose to seven.

“I toss one card facedown,” he said, as a facedown card flashed into existence. “And then set a Monster in Defense Mode.”

A facedown card and a facedown Monster appeared, and then faded from sight.

“That’s all for me,” he said.

Scully drew a card. His Speed Counters rose to eight, while Gears’s rose to nine.

“Oh, by the way,” he said. “I should have mentioned… Strong Wind Dragon also has a trampling effect.”

Gears frowned.

Yup, he thought. This is exactly the type of Monster that Atlas would use…

“Attack!” shouted Scully.

The powerful wind started again…

“Okay, time to make a choice!” shouted Gears, as his facedown card spun around. “I activate… Half or Stop!”

As Strong Wind Dragon loomed over the facedown card, the intimidating form of Judge Man appeared to block its way. He held a plain woodsman’s axe in his left hand, and a golden battle axe inlaid with gems in his right.

“Half or Stop?” asked Scully.

“Now you gotta make a decision,” replied Gears. “First choice, you can end your Battle Phase right now. Second choice, you can continue your attack. But if you choose the second choice, all of your Monsters’ Attack Scores will be cut in half.

“And in case you can’t do the math, half of 3,400 is…”

“I get it!” shouted Scully.

He paused.

I could hurt myself if that facedown Monster has a high Defense, he thought. Ah, well… I doubt he could beat Strong Wind Dragon with any one-Tribute Monster anyway…

“I choose to end my Battle Phase…” he said.

Strong Wind Dragon backed off, and Judge Man vanished.

“And I’ll end my turn too…”

Gears drew a card. Both Speed Counters clicked up another notch, his to ten and Scully’s to nine.

He set two cards on his console, and a facedown card and a facedown Monster appeared in front of him.

He waved to Scully, and then switched gears, pulling ahead of him.

He’s toying with me… thought Scully, angrily, as he drew another card.

Both Speed Counters rose by one.

“Enough with Dragons,” he said. “Let’s get back to Dinosaurs. I summon Sabersaurus.”

The portal opened behind him, and a large triceratops with red scales, and blades all over its body charged out. (1,900 ATK)

“Strong Wind Dragon, attack the Monster on the left!” he shouted.

The savage hurricane blew again. Mechanicalchaser appeared crouching on the card. Gears cringed a little as it exploded into shards, and his Speed Counters fell to nine.

“Finally, something normal,” laughed Scully. “But I expected better. Face it, Gears, without being able to play Limiter Removal, Machines just can’t cut it in Turbo Duels.”

“That’s your opinion,” replied Gears.

Scully pointed, and Sabersaurus charged at the other facedown Monster. A small, furry, mole-like creature with metal bolts on its back appeared on the card. Sabersaurus stomped on it and flattened it.

“It’s your move,” laughed Scully. “I’m taking you out next turn.”



(G: 4,000) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 4,900)


Gears drew a card. His Speed Counters went up to ten, while Scully’s went up to eleven.

“That’s what you think pal,” he said. “I activate my Trap…”

His facedown card flipped up.

“Birthright. Now I can bring one Normal Monster back from my Graveyard. So Claíomh Solais is coming back again.”

Claíomh Solais appeared again, flying beside his D-Wheel. (2,300 ATK)

“Next,” he said, playing a card, “you aren’t the only one who took inspiration from Jack Atlas. I summon Dark Resonator.”

He played another card, and the portal opened again. Flying out was a small imp, dressed in dark robes, a frilled collar, and a grey foolscap, holding a tuning fork and a small mallet. It had a big grin. (1,300 ATK)

“HEY!” shouted Scully. “That’s no Machine!”

“Correct,” replied Gears. “It’s a Fiend. And remember that small creature you destroyed last turn? It was my Quillbolt Hedgehog. And when it’s in my Graveyard, and I have a Tuner Monster on the field, like right now, I get to summon it back to the field.”

Quillbolt Hedgehog appeared again, in a shimmering burst of energy. (800 ATK)

“All right… Quillbolt… Resonator… Let’s give this duel a Tune-up!”

Dark Resonator grinned even wider, and then struck its fork with its mallet, causing a low-toned pitch to emit from it. It flew into the sky, with Quillbolt Hedgehog following, and they both dissolved into five shimmering stars.

“Synchro Summon…” exclaimed Gears, “Ally of Justice Catastor!”

Flying down was a Machine that was both intimidating and beautiful. It had platinum and gold plating, and was shaped like a horse with six spindly legs, with a faceless head shaped like an inverted teardrop with a diamond in the center. (2,200 ATK)

“Oh…” groaned Scully. “And how many Attack Points does this one gain when battling a Light Monster?”

“Zero,” replied Gears. “Catastor has a far more powerful effect.

“You see, whenever Catastor battles a Monster that isn’t Dark, it automatically wins, and damage calculation is skipped.”

“You gotta be kidding!” shouted Scully.

“I’m not,” replied Gears. “Catastor, destroy Strong Wind Dragon! Platinum prism blast!”

Catastor fired a beam of multicolored light from the gem on its face. Strong Wind Dragon roared, right before it was vaporized.

“Damn!” shouted Scully.

“Claíomh Solais!” shouted Gears. “Destroy Sabersaurus!”

Claíomh Solais swooped down on the Dinosaur, and dug its talons into it. The dino roared, and then shattered.



(G: 4,000) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 4,500)


“Your move, Scully,” said Gears. “Don’t forget, Catastor simply can’t lose a battle with any Monster that isn’t Dark. And so long as DNA Transplant is on the field, you’ll never be able to attack with a Dark Monster.

“And by the way, Vice Dragon may be Dark, but it’s weaker than this Monster.

“Come to think of it, are there any Dinosaurs that are Dark?”

“I’m drawing!” shouted Scully, drawing a card.

His Speed Counters went up to twelve, while Gears’s rose to eleven.

Gears knew that Scully had now reached his limit. There was nothing beyond twelve Speed Counters.

And that, unfortunately, meant that Scully had access to the most powerful of Speed Spells, if he had any in his deck. Gears would have to win quickly.

He swerved down another alley again. Gears looked around. They were in the most rural areas of Neo Domino now, close to the more dangerous parts. DaPen’s henchmen would be right at home here.

“All I have to do,” said Scully, “is set two cards facedown.”

Two facedown cards appeared in front of him, and quickly faded.

“That’s all?” asked Gears.

He made a draw. His own Speed Counters went up to twelve. He was at his limit himself now.

He looked at the card he had drawn.

“Catastor, attack…” he started.

“I activate…” said Scully, “another Fossil Excavation!”

One of his facedown cards spun around, and he quickly discarded a card. Dark Driceratops reappeared. (2,400 ATK)

“Sure, he loses his effect,” said Scully, “but I get him back.”

“You never learn, do you?” asked Gears. “Did you forget about Catastor’s effect?

“Catastor, attack Dark Driceratops!”

Catastor prepared to fire its blast again…

“No, I didn’t,” replied Scully. “That’s why I have this other Trap Card!”

His other facedown lifted.

“Amber Pitfall!”

A stream of orange goo squirted out of the card, and splashed on Catastor. It retreated into Defense Mode. (1,200 DEF)

“And that’s not all,” replied Scully. “It can’t move back to Attack Mode until you get rid of my Amber Pitfall Trap.”

Gears glared at him.

“Then I move Claíomh Solais to Defense Mode as well,” he said.

Claíomh Solais landed, and folded its wings. (1,200 DEF)

“Then I set a Monster,” he continued, as a facedown Monster appeared. “And I end my turn.”



Continued…

Dark Sage
19th January 2009, 12:05 AM
Continued from last post:



“By the way, Catastor’s effect applies even when it’s in Defense Mode. You attack it with a Monster that isn’t Dark, and that Monster will be destroyed.”

Scully growled, and drew a card. They were now moving faster than they usually were down the dark streets. A casual glance at the speedometer clocked them at about 120 MPH. Fortunately, D-Wheels were designed and built specifically to maneuver at such great speeds. Nonetheless, Gears would likely have to make himself scarce when Security finally caught up to them. (He knew that DaPen had likely sent Scully for some reason, and his other men were working to delay them, but they couldn’t do it forever.)

Scully chuckled evilly as he saw what card he had drawn. He quickly set it facedown, and it appeared on his field.

A facedown card… thought Gears. That’s bad news… I just know it…

Dark Driceratops charged forward, and its claws came down on Claíomh Solais, smashing it to pieces.

“Your move,” he snickered.

Gears drew a card. As he knew, neither Speed Counter could go any higher at this point.

“Activate Trap!” shouted Scully. “Dust Tornado!”

His facedown card flipped up, and a savage tornado blew across Speed World. Gears’s DNA Transplant card was swept up into the air, and never came down.

“Looks like your Allies of Justice just lost their edge!” he laughed.

“Not all of them,” replied Gears. “I’m about to summon one who doesn’t need it. Funny that you just used Dust Tornado…

“I summon Ally of Justice Cyclone Creator.”

He played a card, and a new Machine flew out of the portal. It had bronze plating, and resembled, if anything, a large, mechanical robin or bluejay. (1,400 ATK)

“I’ll explain this Monster’s effect as simple as I can. Once per round, I can toss one card. Then, I can send one Spell or Trap Card back to its owners’ hands for each Tuner on the field.

“And, Cyclone Creator itself is a Tuner, so…”

“You’re going to bounce my Amber Pitfall!” screamed Scully.

“Yes, but why stop there?” asked Gears. “I flip my facedown Monster into Attack Mode.”

His facedown card flipped up. The Monster that appeared was a Fiend that was vaguely shaped like a huge spider, with a fiendish old woman’s face, holding sharp knives and small mallets in four of its eight arms. (1,000 ATK)

“UGH!” exclaimed Scully. “A spider! I hate spiders!”

“You’ll hate this one even more,” said Gears, “because Dark Repairer is also a Tuner. So with two Tuners on the field, I can toss one card to send two of your Trap Cards packing. Like your Amber Pitfall, and your Fossil Excavation.”

He threw a card into his discard slot, and Cyclone Creator’s eyes glowed. A powerful wind blew across the field, and both Trap Cards were blown away.

“And when Fossil Excavation goes, so does the Monster you summoned with it.”

Dark Driceratops let out a roar, and then shattered into pieces.

“Eep!” gasped Scully.

Gears gestured, and Catastor moved back into Attack Mode. (2,200 ATK)

“Time to finish you off!” shouted Gears.

His three Monsters charged. Catastor blasted its beam of energy. Cyclone Creator blew a more powerful gust of wind. And Dark Repairer shot a blast of venomous silk from its jaws. Scully screamed as all three attacks hit him…



(G: 4,000) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 0)


Scully skidded to a halt, and tumbled off his bike. He was very lucky he had been wearing his helmet. Thick steam poured from his engine.

He started to get up, only to be grabbed by the collar.

“Buddy,” growled Gears, “I think we both just committed more traffic violations than a New York cabbie behind quota.

“Talk! What’s DaPen planning?”

“Heh, heh,” chuckled Scully. “I had my fingers crossed!

“Get serious, Gears! Do you really think I’m gonna double-cross someone as dangerous as DaPen? Even if I’m in jail, he can still get me.”

“Worry more about what I’ll do to you now,” said Gears, raising his fist. “Keep in mind, you can’t sue me for police brutality!”

And then Scully moaned, and slumped over.

Huh? thought Gears. I didn’t even hit him yet…

He set Scully down, and then reached into the crook’s pocket, taking out a wallet. He looked through it.

Not much. A couple of five-hundred yen notes, a D-Wheel license that was clearly a fake (Gears knew that the name on it wasn’t Scully’s, nor was he an immigrant from Canada), a business card from a nightclub called The Bottom’s Up Club (“Figures,” said Gears), a credit card that looked legit…

Then there was something that was odd. It was another business card, but not one that he’d ever think a guy like Scully would have:

It read:



Dr. Martin Fogg, MD

Psychiatry

Private Practice


An address and phone number were also on the card.

Well, Scully certainly needed to see a shrink, thought Gears, but I doubt he could ever afford one…

As Gears pocketed it, he heard sirens coming.

Uh oh, he thought, the boys in blue…

As a Shadowchaser, he wasn’t authorized to arrest humans who hadn’t committed any crimes against Shadows, and he had no proof that Scully had done anything of the sort. The most he could do now was leave Scully for Security. They’d be confused when they found him here, but Gears had a feeling that Scully would take full advantage of his right to remain silent.

He was long gone by the time the squad cards showed up.



* * * * * * * * * *


Morning came, and the sun rose, burning away the darkness of the night.

Ember stood outside the now-closed Italian restaurant at seven in the morning. She had woken up wondering if all that happened the night before had all been just some crazy dream, until she had called the bank and found that a bonus had indeed been deposited into her account. A generous one at that.

She was nervous. But she was more than willing.

She heard the D-Wheel coming long before she saw it. Shichiro pulled up in front of her.

“I knew you’d come,” she said, as he lifted his visor.

“I knew you knew I’d come,” replied Shichiro. “Hop on… It isn’t that long a ride…

“And be sure to put that helmet on… The last thing I need is a ticket.”



* * * * * * * * * *


Last night aside, Ember had never even come close to a D-Wheel before, and even riding shotgun on one was a new experience. She held on tight to Shichiro, nervously looking ahead.

She got even more nervous when she saw where they were headed.

“Are you nuts?” she shouted. “We aren’t allowed to go to the Tops without authorization!”

“We’ve got it,” replied Shichiro. “Our headquarters is in the Tops.”

Ember was speechless. The Tops was where the elite of Neo Domino lived. Only the richest members of the upper class ever went there. Just how much influence did the Shadowchasers have?

They seemed to have a lot, because Shichiro simply waved to the security guard at the entrance, and was let in with no problem. They drove past a series of luxurious mansions and tall residential buildings, before pulling up to the large townhouse nestled between two other buildings.

Ember took a long look at the townhouse. Something was odd about it. It was as if you would miss the place if you were not looking specifically for it. It was a well-built townhouse, for sure, but something about it made it unremarkable, seemingly making the other buildings around it stand out in contrast.

Ember didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the whole point. Enchantments woven into the bricks and mortar made the townhouse easy to miss if you weren’t Aware. It kept the occupants from being bothered by anyone who might accidentally discover the secrets hidden within.

The garage door opened, and Shichiro drove in.

“This way, Ember,” he said.

“Lead the way…” she said, almost in a trance from the excitement.

They walked into the lounge, where a television was turned to the all-news channel. Gears and Jinx were watching, but Jinx quickly stood up.

Ember quickly noticed that both Jinx and Gears had the same mark on their right cheeks that Shichiro had.

Now this is odd… she thought.

“Hello!” said Jinx, in a cheery voice. “Ember, right?”

“Uh huh…” said Ember, slowly.

“Well, Ember…” said Jinx, taking her hand. “Can I get you anything? Have you had breakfast yet?”

“Uhm, actually, no…” replied Ember. “I…”

Then she stopped short. Jalal appeared in holographic form, and looked at her. He rubbed his chin.

“Uhm, go into the kitchen and wait for me,” replied Jinx. “I need to talk to the boss for a minute…”

Ember laughed nervously, and went in the direction she had pointed.



* * * * * * * * * *


Ember looked around. The kitchen seemed to be fairly normal at first.

Stove, refrigerator, microwave…

She looked towards the sink…

“Now there’s something you don’t normally see in a kitchen,” she said.

By the sink was a human skull, surrounded by several gloves.

Ember looked at it for about a minute. The sight of a skull wasn’t enough to unnerve her, although it was odd…

Curiosity got the better of her. She reached over to pick it up…

“Hey, hey, hey!” shouted the skull, turning towards her. “You want me to make something, just ask, but hands off!”

Ember almost screamed. Fortunately, Jinx came in at that moment.

“Calm down, Ember,” she said. “In here, a surprise lurks around every corner, but everything is completely harmless.

“I see you’ve met Boris…”

“Boris?” asked Ember in a frightened squeak.

“He’s our chef,” replied Jinx. “He’ll make you anything you want.”

“I know over three-hundred recipes,” replied the skull.

“Boris, why don’t you make Ember some pancakes while we talk,” said Jinx.

Ember was still a little afraid of this taking skull. Still, the thought of homemade pancakes was rather tempting, when she would have been happy with a bowl of Cap’n Crunch.

Ember watched as several of the gloves levitated off the counter, forming hands. They floated to the refrigerator and cupboards, and started to take out ingredients and cooking utensils.

As Boris turned on the stove, Jinx and Ember sat down at the kitchen table.

“Don’t let Jalal spook you either,” said Jinx. “He’d give you the shirt off his back.”

“That’s Jalal?” asked Ember. “He… isn’t human, is he?”

“He’s half-human,” replied Ember. “Shadow-Touched. His father was a dragon who’s arrival on Earth predated the Shadowchasers by about six-hundred years.”

“Half-dragon?” exclaimed Ember.

“Dragons are among the most powerful of Shadows,” explained Jinx, “but also among the rarest. Dragons are driven to mate, like most living creatures, but dragons living on Earth rarely find another dragon of the opposite gender and with the same moral outlook. The one that does is incredibly lucky. Thus, powerful male dragons often use magic to assume human form, and take human lovers.

“Anyway, when Jalal’s father died, roughly one-thousand years ago, Jalal inherited his sizable wealth, making him rich enough to found the Shadowchasers and keep it going strong for a very long time.”

“He’s that rich?” asked Ember.

“Wealth beyond compare,” replied Jinx. “Dragons are legendary for collecting treasure, as you no doubt have read stories of, and his father had one of the largest of hordes. Jalal’s money could likely pay off the national debt of certain countries, if it were all together in one place. After his father’s death, he had more money than he ever knew what to do with… But unlike most actual dragons, he invested it wisely.”

Boris slid a plate of pancakes on the table.

“Uh, thank you…” said Ember. “Uhm… Got any syrup?”

“So…” said Jinx. “Can I see your deck? If I’m going to show you the ropes, I’d best see how it works…”

Ember pushed her deck case across the table as Boris set a syrup bottle next to Ember.

Interesting… thought Jinx, looking at the cards. Not exactly what I’m used to, but well-balanced…

This might be worth my time…

Ember heard a soft meow by her feet. She looked down as a large, black cat started rubbing against her legs. Jinx smiled.

“Sorsha seems to like you,” she said.

“Is she yours?” asked Ember, reaching down to pet the cat.

“No,” replied Jinx. “Sorsha is a familiar. You know, a witch’s cat?”

“Her owner is a witch?” asked Ember, nervously.

Jinx nodded.

“A very powerful sorcerer who helps us on occasion,” she replied. “He’s a hellfire warlock. Hellfire is a very powerful, but very dangerous form of magic. Incredibly destructive if used the wrong way, because it channels the powers of the infernal regions.

“Anyway, a year ago, he told us he was going away to do some research on an important project, and he asked us to take care of his cat. He hasn’t come back yet, and until he does…”

“How do you know he’s still alive?” asked Ember. “If his magic is as dangerous as you say…”

“That’s why he left his cat behind,” replied Jinx. “If he died, his familiar wouldn’t survive. And if he were in trouble, he’d send a message that his familiar could give us, one way or another. We’re pretty sure he’ll come back eventually.”

Ember pet the cat, still a little nervous.

This was a lot to take in for one day…



* * * * * * * * * *


As Jinx and Ember walked back into the lounge, Jalal was still there, and Gears was at his laptop.

“Okay, people,” said Gears, “I looked up this Fogg person. Seems he’s not the average shrink. He runs a private practice, and most of his patients tend to be folks who have a lot of money. At least the ones I recognize.

“This list doesn’t have Louis DaPen on it specifically, but he might have used an alias.”

“I called the phone number on the card,” said Shichiro. “I got some ‘assistant’ who refused to answer any questions. I have a feeling we won’t get anything from that angle.”

“If DaPen is truly a Shadowkind,” replied Jalal, “he may be a dangerous one and this doctor may be a lead to finding out more…”

He turned to Jinx.

“Kaede, I want you to investigate this doctor,” he said. “And take Michiko with you.”

“Already?” asked Jinx. “But… She just started.”

“True,” said Jalal, “but I think she can handle observing you.”

Jinx sighed, and looked at Ember.

She picked up a Duel Disk, and tossed to her.

“Just in case…” she said. “I take it you know how it works?”

Ember nodded.



* * * * * * * * * *


Ember and Jinx walked to the door to the garage. One the way out, Jinx took her own sword off a hook on the wall and slung it over her back.

“So what’s the deal with the swords?” asked Ember. “I thought we had to take care of Shadows by dueling them.”

“Not all Shadows are smart enough to duel, Ember,” said Jinx. “There are Shadowkind that lurk in the dark areas with no more smarts than beasts. Take trolls, for instance…”

“Trolls?” asked Ember, somewhat frightened.

“Large, very aggressive carnivores,” replied Jinx. “And they have incredible regenerative properties that make them hard to kill. You cut off a troll’s head, it will put it back on its shoulders and keep fighting.

“But dumb as a brick. They could never figure out how a Disk worked, much less understand any written language like the text on the cards. And some Shadows, much like animals, have nothing more than instinct to drive them.”

She smirked at Ember.

“Best way to deal with trolls is with fire. They can’t heal if you burn them, and they know it… Just ask Gears. He dealt with a really big one by cutting it apart, and throwing all the pieces into a bonfire.”

Ember paused and looked at Jinx.

“Anyway,” continued Jinx, “the Treaty only applies to sentient races. If a monster that isn’t smart enough to understand becomes a problem, you have to take care of them the old-fashioned way.”

“So am I gonna get a sword?” asked Ember.

“Oh yeah,” replied Jinx, “once you learn how to use one.”

They walked out to Jinx’s bike.

“I dunno Jinx,” said Ember. “What if I can’t cut it? What if I turn out to be just a loser?”

“Loser?” asked Jinx. “A loser, Ember? You know what the definition of a loser is?

“Let me tell you about a guy who lived in the States a long time back…

“This was a guy who was born into a poor family. He only had about eighteen months of formal schooling, becoming what he was almost entirely by self-education. His mother died when he was young, and he was never close to his father.

“When he grew up, he tried to run for state assembly. He lost.

“He later opened a store with a partner. It failed, and went bankrupt.

“He became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was considered a failure as a member of that group, and didn’t try to run for a second term.

“He tried to run for vice president. He lost the nomination to someone else.

“But this guy was smart, Ember. He knew something very important. He knew that he would never truly be a loser until he stopped trying.

“I wouldn’t call Abraham Lincoln a loser, would you?”

Ember looked at Jinx.

“I understand…” she said. “But just one thing… You call me ‘Padawan’, and I’m gonna get violent.”

Jinx smirked.

“Get on,” she said, as she mounted her bike. “We might be going to take down a rogue Shadow… I hope you’re ready to make that step…”



I had jumped in feet first, and there was no turning back. It was not even ten AM yet, and already I had seen a townhouse with enchanted properties, a talking skull who could cook, a witch’s cat, and the one who was behind it all, someone whose dad was a monster who, just days earlier, I had believed only existed in fairy tales. And Duel Monsters, of course.

It was a strange and exotic world I had been thrust into, full of wonders. But I would soon learn that it also held great perils, and I was about to run headlong into them. My true tests were about to start…



ALLY OF JUSTICE CATASTOR (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine/Synchro/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 5
ATK: 2,200
DEF: 1,200

Card Description: Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner Monsters

When this card battles a Monster that is not a DARK Monster, destroy the opposing Monster without performing damage calculation.



ALLY OF JUSTICE CLAÍOMH SOLAIS (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine
Attribute: Dark
Level: 6
ATK: 2,300
DEF: 1,200

Flavor Text: A Monster that inhabits the Valley of the Mist and an anti-outside invader melee weapon developed using Claíomh Solais as the motif. It trifles with the enemy by using surprise attacks from above.



ALLY OF JUSTICE GARADHOLG (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 4
ATK: 1,600
DEF: 400

Card Description: If this card battles a LIGHT Monster, increase the ATK of this card by 200 during the Damage Step only.



ALLY OF JUSTICE RUDRA (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 5
ATK: 1,900
DEF: 1,200

Card Description: If this card battles a LIGHT Monster, increase the ATK of this card by 700 during the Damage Step only.

Note: The proceeding “Ally of Justice” cards were released in Japan for the original “Duel Terminal” system. They have not yet been released in the United States.



ALLY OF JUSTICE CYCLONE CREATOR (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine/Tuner/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 3
ATK: 1,400
DEF: 1,200

Card Description: Discard 1 card from your hand. Send 1 Spell or Trap Card back to your opponent’s hand for each face-up Tuner Monster on the field. This effect can only be used once per turn.

Note: “Ally of Justice Cyclone Creator” was released in Japan for the “Duel Terminal 2” limited edition pack. It has not yet been released in the United States.



STRONG WIND DRAGON (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Dragon/Effect
Attribute: Wind
Level: 6
ATK: 2,400
DEF: 1,000

Card Description: If this card is Tribute Summoned by Tributing a Dragon-Type Monster, add half of the base ATK of the Tributed Monster to the ATK of this card. This card is not destroyed in battle with a Monster with equal ATK. When this card attacks a Defense Position Monster with a DEF lower than the ATK of this card, inflict the difference as battle damage to your opponent’s Life Points.

Note: “Strong Wind Dragon” will be released in the “Raging Battle” set, due out for the OCG in February. (Slated for American release in June).



AMBER PITFALL (Trap Card)

Continuous Trap

Image: A hand reaching out of a pit full of liquid amber.

Card Description: Activate only when your opponent declares an attack. Negate the attack and move the attacking Monster to face-up Defense Position. That Monster cannot change its battle position while this card remains face-up on the field.

Note: “Amber Pitfall” was first used by Kenzan in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” episode “A Hassleberry Hounding”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



SPEED SPELL – RAGE RECHARGE

Normal Spell

Image: The Goblin of Greed holding a Pot of Avarice and fleeing from a very angry Mad Sword Beast.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 4 or more Speed Counters. Pay 800 Life Points. Select four Beast, Beast-Warrior, and/or Dinosaur-Type Monsters in your Graveyard and return them to your deck. Then, shuffle your deck and draw two cards. If this card is the only card in your hand and you have no cards on the field, draw an additional card.



Coming up next:

Jinx is lucky that Ember is tagging along, because at the office she goes to investigate, she finds not one, but two enemies, and she can’t handle them both. Ember finally gets a chance to duel as her new mentor chases after the more dangerous foe, and starts on her path into the Shadowchasers in earnest. Can she make the grade? And what kind of deck does she have, anyway? Giving the name of the chapter would give it away, so you’ll just have to stay tuned.

Shuppet Master
19th January 2009, 11:17 AM
Yet anoter interesting duel. These new machines, the Allies of Justice, sound interesting. Oh, and I'm curious too - what DO they have against Light monsters?

So we're going to see Ember duel next time, are we? This is pretty nifty. I like the talking skull chef and the familiar. This story is your best Yu-Gi-Oh fic yet, and I don't mind if it's your last huzzah, you saved the best for last. ;)

Mystic_clown
19th January 2009, 05:22 PM
Hmm, what to say about this chapter...

Well, I know it was basically a way to introduce Gears to the story, but I really couldn't help but feel it was a bit forced just so we can see what kind of deck he uses. The fact that Scully simply comes out of nowhere, tells him he's working for who we believe is the big bad and than challanges him to a duel in what seems to be about seven lines seems a bit quick.


“Jerks like you can’t escape Justice forever, Scully,” shouted Gears, “just like your Monsters can’t escape the Allies of Justice!”

“How corny can you get?” laughed Scully.

“I dunno,” said Gears, “I just thought it sounded ‘cool’.

Why did that line remind me of Russel? o.O

For me, the real highlight was Boris. He reminds me of Murray from the Monkey Island series. ^_^

MeLoVeGhOsTs
20th January 2009, 04:40 AM
Yeah Gears seems Russel-ish to me, but his deck was original. I never heard of them, so I'm interested to see more of it. It was kinda forced like MC said, but the duel was good, although I get a feeling that these villans have strange, unfinished, smacked together decks with no real clear strategy.

The house, Boris, the cat, the whole place seemed cool when you described it. It was great getting to know something about Jalal and just some background in general. I like that.

I'm VERY curious to know what Embers deck is.

jkBAKURA
21st January 2009, 11:05 AM
Well, another introductory chapter, but even the Anime had those, and as it has been stated, the story portion was more then entertaining enough to keep, me at least, patient a little while longer.

In fact, most of what I was going to bring up has already been stated. Guess I should have gotten up here faster.

Considering the name, and the sources you've used so far, I feel I have a likely hunch for Ember's deck, but I won't spoil it if I happen to be right.

Dark Sage
23rd January 2009, 12:03 AM
CHAPTER SEVEN




http://www.ideal808.com/images/lob_en016.jpg



I’d like to make a little confession, just between the two of us. Now, I wasn’t truly lying when I had told Jinx back then that I knew how to use a Disk… But knowing how to use one and knowing how to do so well, well, that was another story.

Yeah, I could use one. My cousin Akira, who I believe has already been mentioned, used to lend me his extra one when he came to visit, and let me use it. He was pretty much my only opponent for serious duels using holographic technology. Since he was a pro, and I wasn’t, I almost always lost those matches.

I had never dreamed I would be using one against someone who played for keeps, as seemed to be the case in this new group I had reluctantly joined. I was certainly no expert at serious dueling.

And despite the fact that I was technically coming with Jinx to “observe”, a small voice inside me told me that, inexperienced as I was, I had better become experienced… fast.



In a quiet residential area of Neo Domino, far from downtown, was an unassuming, one-story office building. It didn’t have much to distinguish itself from the other similar buildings in the quiet neighborhood, and the only clue to its purpose was a plaque on the front door that said “Dr. Martin Fogg, MD”.

Jinx slowly drove her D-Wheel up to the front, with Ember holding on.

“This is the address,” said Jinx, as she parked the bike.

She got off, and hit the command on the dashboard. The Duel Disk disengaged from the console, latching onto her gauntlet.

“Uh, Jinx?” asked Ember. “Would you mind if I asked a question that may be personal?”

“I have nothing to hide,” replied Jinx.

“Uhm…” said Ember. “Do all of you guys have… marks?”

Jinx looked strangely at Ember for a minute.

Then she laughed out loud.

“You afraid of this?” she laughed, pointing at the scar on her cheek.

She laughed softly for a minute.

“Forgot to explain that Ember…” she said. “It’s no criminal mark… That’s the Badge of the Shadowchasers. It’s what tells a Shadow that we have authority.

“Normally, it’s invisible to anyone but Awares and Shadows. Unless we want to show it to Mundanes. And let me tell you, the fact that it looks like a mark can be quite useful when dealing with Mundanes.”

“How so?” asked Ember. “Because it makes you more intimidating?”

Jinx smiled and nodded.

“Someone sees a mark,” she said, “he wonders what the person did to get it, and he wonders if he’ll ever do it again.”

“So, this Badge…” muttered Ember. “Am… I gonna get one?”

Jinx nodded again.

“And once you do, Ember,” she said. “You’ll realize that it’s a badge of pride…

“Now, onto the business at hand… We gotta get in somehow, and the front door is likely locked.”

They walked up to one of the windows.

To their surprise, there were bars on the inside.

“Very unusual for a psychiatrist,” said Ember.

“Not gonna get in that way,” replied Jinx. “Not without a hacksaw.”

She took a cell phone headset out of her jacket pocket.

“Let’s try the front door anyway…”

They turned around towards the front, and got another surprise. The front door was not only locked, apparently, but locked with a digital combination.

“Hmm…” said Jynx.

“Bars on the windows, digital locks on the doors,” said Ember. “I get the feeling that there’s something very important in there…”

“More than you know,” replied Jinx, holding up her cell phone and dialing. “I’ve seen this before, it’s a common trick used by technology-savvy Shadowkind. The digital lock is a ruse. If any combination were entered, it would likely set off a nasty booby trap. Forcing it open would likely be worse. The real way to get in is most likely a verbal code, or something even more complex.”

She turned on the headset.

“I suppose knocking is out of the question?” asked Ember.

“Not wise,” said Jinx. “With a setup like this, I don’t think he’d cooperate, and he’d know we were here too.

“Gears, are you there? Yeah, we’re at the place, but it’s pretty well-fortified. How long will it take you to hack into the grid?

“Okay, I’ll keep track…”

She looked at her watch.

“What’s Gears gonna do?” asked Ember.

“Hack into the power grid for this part of town and shut down the power for this block,” replied Ember. “No power, no security system, and no lock. He says it will take him two minutes… Then we’ll have at most ten minutes before an override system turns it back on.

“Now, once we get in there, be alert. The downside of getting in this way is, if someone’s in there, we lose the element of surprise.”

She looked at her watch as the seconds ticked away…

Then there was a loud hum, as the numbers on the lock faded away. Jinx grabbed hold of the door and pulled it open.

“Piece of cake!” she whispered.

Jinx and Ember walked in. Ember’s first reaction was to look for a light switch, before she remembered.

They were in a long hallway, in what looked like a typical doctor’s office. Jinx’s attention turned to a door that had another digital lock on it, which was also dead due to the loss of power.

She opened it, and both of them looked in with surprise.

It clearly wasn’t what you’d find in a psychiatrist’s office. More like a pharmacy.

“Gears, are you still there?” whispered Jinx into the speaker.

“Yeah, I’m here, Jinx,” came the reply. “You in trouble?”

“Are you sure this guy’s a psychiatrist?” asked Jinx. “This place looks more like a chemistry lab.”

“I did some checking on Fogg,” replied Gears. “He’s a real MD and he graduated from the Neo Domino University School of Psychology. Second in his class, in fact.”

“He’s got enough manaranil here for a hospital,” replied Jinx, picking up a large container.

“Manaranil?” asked Gears.

“And a lot of zolomoloft,” continued Jinx, looking at the containers. “Purmisic RD… Strynaztalan… And that’s just the stuff I recognize. Aren’t these all very powerful stimulants of some kind?

“Plus he’s got a bunch of equipment here that I’m sure isn’t psychiatric-issue. Flasks, Bunsen burners, measuring cups… There’s a small refrigerator over there, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have soda in it…”

She looked at an odd machine on a table.

“I think this may be a medical incubator, in fact. Isn’t that used for growing bacteria cultures? We’re talking biochemistry here…”

“Yeah, and I can’t explain that,” replied Gears, “but you were right about those chemicals being stimulants. They’re very powerful ones, and they haven’t been approved for use as psychiatric medications yet.”

“They’re that powerful?” asked Jinx.

“They’d likely make The Unhappy Maiden stop crying,” replied Gears. “As of right now, they can only be used for special experimental use. The average doctor can’t legally prescribe them.”

“Then what the heck is some private practitioner doing with them?” asked Jinx. “And all this other equipment?”

“Making breakthroughs in psychiatric science,” said a voice from the other side of the room.

Ember and Jinx spun around. Standing at the door that they had entered were two people. One – the one who had just spoken – was a tall man with very dark skin, and no hair, wearing a white leisure suit. What got their attention was the fact that he was pointing a gun at them.

Behind him was a young woman about Ember’s age, dressed in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, with long, strawberry blonde hair.

“Dr. Martin Fogg, I presume,” said Jinx, looking up from the incubator.

“Yes,” said the man. “And I’ll have you know that this is a device that doesn’t need to be plugged in.”

“Put that away before you hurt someone,” replied Jinx.

“That’s the idea,” said Fogg, aiming it at her.

“Jinx…” said Ember, nervously.

Then, as Fogg pulled the trigger, there was a loud snap, and he cringed a little.

“What happened?” shouted the woman behind him.

“It jammed!” shouted Fogg. “How could it have…”

Jinx laughed.

“I guess it was just bad luck!” she laughed.

Fogg turned to his assistant.

“Debbie…” he said.

Then the two of them turned and ran the way they came.

“After them!” shouted Jinx.

She followed them down the hallway, with Ember following. At the end of the hallway, their quarry fled in opposite directions, Fogg going right, and Debbie going left.

“Whoa…” said Jinx, motioning for Ember to stop.

She paused.

“Ember…” she said. “If that assistant gets away, we could be in trouble… There’s no way I can chase after both of them.

“Let me ask you something…

“How committed are you?”

Ember looked at Jinx.

“I’ve come this far…” she said.

Jinx patted her on the shoulder.

“You handle her,” she said. “I’ll go get Fogg…”

Then she ran down after Fogg.

Nervously, Ember ran at a brisk pace down the hallway where Debbie had gone. The lights came back on as she did; clearly, that override system had kicked in.

She saw an open door.

She took off her Duel Disk, and poked it inside the entrance, waving it about.

“Oh, just come in!” snapped Debbie. “Even if I did have a gun, I wouldn’t ambush you…”

Ember walked into a large, comfortable-looking office, and saw Debbie, holding a Disk of her own. She could see that Debbie didn’t look as human as she did before, either. She had small horns on her forehead, and her eyes were an unnatural violet.

“You can see it, right?” asked Debbie. “Yeah, we learn early on to deal with the stares…”

“Pardon me?” asked Ember.

“What, are you new?” asked Debbie. “Never met a tiefling before? Well, now you have.”

“You seem to have a lot of anger,” replied Ember.

“You would too if you had the blood of fiends,” replied Debbie. “How would you like growing up with evil in your genes? With everyone expecting that you’d turn out bad? Some people have relatives who were Italian, or Latino, or German… Mine? Mine were demons.”

“That…” muttered Ember. “That’s awful…”

“Don’t feel sorry for me,” replied Debbie, as her Disk activated. “You know the old saying… You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives.

“The way I see it, I’ll either vent my frustration by beating you to a pulp, or you’ll put me out of my misery. To me, that’s a win-win situation.”

Ember took a deep breath.

Okay, Ember, deep breaths… she thought. Deep, cleansing breaths…

She activated her own Disk.

“Let’s do this,” she said.



(Ember: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Debbie: 8,000)


“As you might expect, sister,” said Debbie, making a draw, “I have a lot of pent-up aggression. And the gals in my deck don’t play very nice either.

“I summon Amazoness Fighter!”

In a blast of energy, a feminine – sort of – Monster appeared in front of Debbie. She was a female Warrior that seemed far more muscular than most women should be, dressed in a blue bikini top and loincloth, two leather belts around her waist, and a lot of primitive jewelry. A headband held her bushy hair back, which was tied in a ponytail, and she didn’t seem to have any weapon except her fists. (1,500 ATK)

Ho boy… thought Ember, as she started to sweat.

She really wasn’t used to her opponent using a Disk to summon a Monster that wasn’t a Lightsworn…

“I’ll throw these facedown for later,” continued Debbie, as two facedown cards appeared behind the Amazon. “And that’s all.”

Ember hesitated. She froze for a second.

“Are you gonna move or what?” asked Debbie.

Ember quickly snapped out of it. She drew a card.

She looked over the six cards in her hand.

What am I worried about? she told herself. I’ve got someone here who’s stronger than her Monster…

“I summon… Molten Zombie!” she shouted.

A blast of flames shot up from the space in front of her, and a hunched over figure rose out of them. It was a humanoid made entirely of magma, with a zombie-like face, and flames leaking from its pores. (1,600 ATK)

“Attack!” shouted Ember.

Molten Zombie belched a cloud of flaming gas at Amazoness Fighter. She cringed, and then shattered into pixels.

“Not bad,” replied Debbie. “But due to Fighter’s effect, I don’t lose any Life Points.

“And I also get to activate this…”

Her facedown card shot up.

“Pride of Tribe. Since one of my Amazons fell, I get to summon another one from my deck.

“So I summon Amazoness Swords Woman!”

In another burst of energy, another female warrior appeared. She wore a skimpy, blue bikini, and jewelry made of teeth. Her hair was fiery red, and worn long. She held a very large sword in her right hand. (1,500 ATK)

Ember looked at Swords Woman and put her hand on her hip. She was starting to get more confidence…

“You know,” she said, “I’m no expert in Greek mythology, but I think that the Amazons had as much access to armor as male warriors.”

“They weren’t the smartest fighters in the world,” replied Debbie. “After all, Hercules defeated their whole army by himself.”

Ember sighed, and looked at her hand.

“I’ll set a facedown card of my own,” she said, “and I’ll call it a turn.”

A facedown card flashed into existence in front of her.

Calm down, Ember… she thought. Just pretend that Amazon is one big Barbie Doll…

She looked closely at Swords Woman. Swords Woman glared back at her and grinned.

Oh brother! she thought. Why do I think of things like that?!

Debbie made a draw.

“I summon… Amazoness Tiger!” she exclaimed.

With a roar, a savage-looking she-tiger appeared on the field next to Swords Woman. She wore golden bracelets on all four legs, and a golden collar with a chain leash. (1,100 ATK)

“Tiger is the Amazons’ loyal pet and bodyguard,” said Debbie. “While she’s on the field, you can’t attack any Amazon except her. And if you think that will be easy, she also gains 400 more Attack Points for each Amazon on the field.

“She just loves having friends around.”

(1,900 ATK)

“Attack her Molten Zombie!” she shouted.

Amazoness Tiger pounced. Ember froze for a second.

Then she remembered her facedown card.

“Chew on this!” she replied, as it lifted up. “I activate… Backfire! This Trap Card will hit you for 500 points of damage whenever one of my Fire Monsters is destroyed!”

Tiger made a swipe with her claws, and Molten Zombie groaned before being blasted into embers. Then, a blast of flames shot out of the Backfire card, striking Debbie.

“Okay, sister,” replied Debbie. “You burned me… But now, Swords Woman wants a word with you…

“Direct attack! Savage sword!”

Swords Woman leapt at Ember, holding her sword aloft.

Ember cringed as the sword made a slash across her torso, and she fell on her behind.



(E: 6,200) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 7,500)


“Aw, did that hurt?” asked Debbie.

Ember slowly got up.

Truthfully, the actual attack didn’t hurt as much as falling on her behind did. But she wasn’t going to tell her that.

“Your move,” said Debbie.

I’m off to a really bad start, thought Ember. I gotta get rid of that Tiger before she brings out another Amazon.

She looked at her hand of cards.

I got someone here who can do the job, but he’s Level 6…

She drew a card.

It was Monster Reborn.

Ember couldn’t believe her luck. She had never gotten a draw that good exactly when she needed it.

She quickly played it.

“Go, Monster Reborn!” she shouted.

As she played it, the golden ankh appeared in mid-air.

“That’s a pretty powerful Spell Card to be playing so early in the duel,” said Debbie. “Are you sure you want to do that?”

Molten Zombie appeared in front of Ember again. (1,600 ATK)

“I sure do,” replied Ember. “Because, when Molten Zombie is Special Summoned from the Graveyard, I get to draw one card.”

She made a draw.

All right! she thought, looking at it. I drew Infernal Flame Emperor!

Unfortunately, I’d need to swap two Monsters for it, and I don’t have them… Best save it for later…

“I sacrifice Molten Zombie…” she exclaimed.

Molten Zombie vanished.

“…to call forth Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch!”

A bonfire erupted in front of Ember, and a ten-foot-tall giant rose out of the flames. He was clad head to toe in iron plate armor, and his hands burned with fire. (2,400 ATK)

“Now I activate his effect…” continued Ember.

The three cards in Debbie’s hand glowed, and then three large cards appeared on the field, their backs to Ember.

Thestalos formed a fireball in his hands, and hurled it at the middle card. It turned around right before it hit, revealing itself to be a second Swords Woman. The card was burned to ashes.

“You not only lose that card,” continued Ember, “but since that was a Level 4 Monster, you lose 400 Life Points.”

Debbie groaned as a fiery aura surrounded her body.

“All right, Thestalos!” shouted Ember. “Attack her Tiger! Royal flames!”

Thestalos threw a second, more intense ball of fire. The Tiger roared before exploding in a flaming burst.

Debbie scowled at Ember…



(E: 6,200) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 6,600)


“My move…” she growled.

She drew a card.

She quickly placed it on her Disk, and a defensive Monster appeared.

“Turn end,” she said.

“Ah, ha!” laughed Ember. “Look at you! I made you so mad, you forgot to move Swords Woman to Defense Mode!”

Debbie looked at Swords Woman.

“Oh…” she said. “Well, well, well… So I did… How careless of me…”

Ember quickly drew a card.

“First I set a Monster!” she said eagerly, as a concealed Monster appeared.

“Thestalos, roast her Swords Woman!”

Thestalos hurled his ball of flame again. Swords Woman screamed before she went up in flames.

“Hey, sunshine!” said Debbie. “Look up…”

“Huh?” said Ember, looking up.

Then she saw that Sword Woman had apparently thrown her sword at her right before she was hit, because it was flying towards her…

Ember shrieked as it hit her.

“You’re obviously a rookie,” replied Debbie. “You clearly don’t know that when Swords Woman loses a battle, she still wins, because my opponent takes the battle damage. Maybe you should have done research before becoming a duelist, let alone a Shadowchaser.”

Ember sighed.

That’s what I get for being cocky, she thought. I can’t be careless… Letting my guard down at this point might spell disaster…

“I end my turn…” she muttered.



(E: 5,300) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 6,600)


Debbie drew a card.

“I’m taking that big lug down,” she said, playing a card, “and my Amazoness Blowpiper is gonna do it.”

Another Amazon appeared, this one wearing a green bikini top and loincloth, fur boots with knee guards made from skulls, and more of the same primitive jewelry, with black hair tied in a ponytail. She carried a long blowgun with a snake’s skull mounted on the end. (800 ATK)

“How is she gonna beat Thestalos?” asked Ember. “He’s three times stronger.”

“I’ll show you as soon as Flip-Summon my other Monster,” replied Debbie. “Amazoness Chain Master.”

Her facedown Monster flipped up, and yet another female Warrior appeared, cut from the same cloth as the others. This one had white, platinum blonde hair, worn loose, wore a blue bikini top and loincloth, and carried a long chain with a grapple. (1,500 ATK)

“Now then…” continued Debbie, as a Spell Card appeared on the field. “I play Amazoness Spellcaster! This causes my Amazon and your Monarch to swap Attack Scores.”

“HUH?” gasped Ember.

Seeing was believing. Thestalos fell to an Attack Score of only 800, while Blowpiper rose to 2,400.

“Seems that the tables are turned,” said Debbie, as Blowpiper put her weapon to her lips.

Blowpiper took a breath, and blew into her pipe, shooting a dart right at the much larger Monster. Thestalos groaned, and keeled over… And then burst into an explosion of soot and smoke.

“Did you forget about my Backfire?” asked Ember.

Another blast of flames shot out of the Trap Card, hitting Debbie. She growled.

“Chain Master, attack her facedown Monster!”

Chain Master twirled her grapple above her head, and hurled it. On the card, a large turtle with a shell resembling a flying saucer appeared, right before the chain hit it, and it exploded into slag.

Backfire shot another wave of flames, hitting Debbie again.

“You destroyed my UFO Turtle,” said Ember. “And when it gets totaled, I get to Special Summon a low-powered Fire Monster from my deck. Like another UFO Turtle.”

Another of the odd Machines appeared in front of Ember. (1,400 ATK)

“Then that’s all,” replied Debbie, as Blowpiper’s Attack Score fell back to 800.



(E: 3,700) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 5,600)


Ember drew a card quickly. She looked at it closely. It was Sakuretsu Armor.

Starting to get the hang of this… she thought. Maybe it isn’t as hard as I thought it would be…

She placed it in her Disk.

“I set a facedown…” she said.

She took another card.

“Then I summon Tenkabito Shien!”

In another burst of fire, and the loud whiny of a horse, a mounted figure rose onto the field. He was dressed in the clothing of Japanese nobility, holding a long nodachi and riding a coal-black steed. (1,500 ATK)

“Attack her Blowpiper!” shouted Ember.

Shien galloped forward on his mount. Blowpiper screamed before she was cut down. Debbie cringed.

“I’ll move UFO Turtle to Defense Mode, and end my turn,” said Ember.

UFO Turtle retracted its limbs and head into its shell. (1,200 DEF)



(E: 3,700) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 4,900)


“My move…” said Debbie.

She drew a card.

“And I play Pot of Avarice!” she shouted, playing it.

The nutty-looking jar appeared in front of her, and both Swords Women, Tiger, Fighter, and Blowpiper slipped out of her discard slot. She shuffled them into her deck, and then drew twice.

“I summon Amazoness Paladin!” she shouted.

In another flash of energy, yet another of the savage women appeared. She was dressed in a white bikini top and loincloth, and also a hood and tattered cape. Her long, blonde hair fell down to her waist from under it. She held a sword that wasn’t as big as Swords Woman’s, but looked more finely made. (1,700 ATK)

“And she gains 100 more Attack Points for each Amazon on the field,” continued Debbie.

(1,900 ATK)

“Destroy Tenkabito Shien!”

Paladin made a graceful pose, and then leapt at Shien, sword first…

“I activate, Sakuretsu Armor!” shouted Ember, as her facedown card shot up.

“Paladin!” shouted Debbie. “Escape!”

Paladin vanished.

“HUH?” said Ember. “Where did she go?”

Then she noticed that Debbie had triggered the Trap Card that she had set on her first turn, which she had almost forgotten about.

“It’s called Dramatic Rescue,” replied Debbie, holding up Paladin’s card. “It saves my Amazon by sending her back to my hand.

“And it also lets me summon another Monster from my hand to take her place.

“Like another Swords Woman!”

In another burst of energy, Swords Woman appeared again. (1,500 ATK)

“Chain Master, move to Defense Mode,” she continued.

Chain Master knelt, and shielded herself with her arms. (1,300 DEF)

“It’s your move…” she said.

Ember drew, and looked at her hand.

I have two Monsters on the field, she thought. That’s enough to summon my Infernal Flame Emperor…

But with her Swords Woman there, having a Monster that powerful on my side may well be too dangerous…

I’d better wait…

“Shien, attack Chain Master!” she commanded.

Tenkabito Shien charged forward on his mount, cutting down Chain Master with one swipe.

Then Debbie laughed out loud.

“You fell right into my trap,” she said. “It seems you really are a newbie.

“When Chain Master falls in battle, a powerful effect is activated… The Brink of Death Chain Dance!”

“I have a feeling I’m not gonna like this…” said Ember.

“I have to pay 1,500 Life Points,” continued Debbie, “and then…”

A ghostly phantom that resembled Chain Master appeared next to Debbie. Her eyes glowed with eerie light, and then the cards in Ember’s hand glowed with the same light…

Then, the images of the four cards in Ember’s hand appeared in front of her.

“That one,” said Debbie, pointing.

The ghostly Amazon threw her grapple, and it snagged the Infernal Flame Emperor card.

“HEY!” shouted Ember.

Debbie grinned as the card appeared in her hand and the phantom vanished.

“Nice,” she said, looking at it. “This your best card?”

Ember frowned.

“You need two Monsters to summon it,” she said with a scowl.

“I’m well aware of that,” replied Debbie. “Any other moves you’d like to make?”

“Just move…” growled Ember.



(E: 3,700) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 3,400)


Debbie drew a card.

“I summon another Fighter,” she said, playing a card.

The incredibly muscular Amazon appeared again. (1,500 ATK)

“Then I throw a card facedown,” she continued, “and end my turn.”

A facedown card appeared with a flash.

“My move!” shouted Ember.

She drew a card.

Oh, that does it… she thought. I gotta get rid of that annoying Swords Woman, even if I have to take out Shien in the process…

“Shien, attack her Swords Woman!” she shouted.

Shien galloped towards Swords Woman…

“Facedown card activate…” exclaimed Debbie.

“Hold up!” laughed Ember. “Shien is immune to Trap Cards!”

“Who said it was a Trap Card?” asked Debbie.

The Quickplay Spell revealed itself, showing itself to be Shrink. Ember’s eyes opened wide.

Tenkabito Shien fell to an Attack Score of 750. Swords Woman made a swipe with her blade, and he burst into an explosion of flames.

“I activate the effect of Backfire!” shouted Ember.

The flaming blast shot towards Debbie, and she grunted again.



(E: 2,950) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 2,900)


“So what are you gonna do now?” asked Debbie.

“It’s still my turn!” shouted Ember. “I’ll set a Monster in Defense Mode…”

A defensive Monster appeared.

“Then, I’ll remove one Fire Monster from play…”

Molten Zombie slipped out of her discard slot. Ember pocketed it.

“…to also summon Inferno in Defense Mode.”

Another fiery Monster appeared in front of her. It looked basically like a small bonfire with two glowing eyes. (1,900 DEF)

“And now I end my turn…”

Debbie drew a card.

“You remember Paladin, don’t you?” she asked, as Amazoness Paladin appeared again. (1,700 ATK)

“And guess what? I have three Amazons on the field now…”

(2,000 ATK)

“Paladin, destroy Inferno!”

Paladin slashed with her sword, and Inferno vanished in a burst of smoke.

The Backfire card blasted flames at Debbie again.

“Curse that infernal card…” growled Debbie. “Fighter, attack her mystery Monster!”

Fighter leapt at the facedown Monster…

A large, blocky construct that seemed to be made of burnt-out wood appeared on the card. Fighter struck it with her fist, but it only shivered a little. (2,100 DEF)

“Charcoal Inpachi is too tough for her to crack,” replied Ember.

“True,” said Debbie. “But due to her effect, I take no damage. But due to Swords Woman’s effect, you’ll sure take some…”

Swords Woman leapt at Charcoal Inpachi and struck it with her sword. Ember groaned as the force of the impact ripped through her.



(E: 2,350) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 2,400)


“It’s your move,” said Debbie, with a grin. “And I must thank you… It really feels good to just let it out…”

Ember sighed, and drew a card.

She quickly placed it on her Disk, and a facedown Monster appeared.

“That all?” asked Debbie, drawing a card.

“Well, it’s about time… I play Mystical Space Typhoon!”

The cyclone tore across the field, blowing the Backfire card to pieces.

“Boy, that was therapeutic,” she said. “Now, let’s see… I could just keep attacking your Inpachi with Swords Woman, and deplete your Life Points 600 at a time…

“But I think I’ll go for the gusto…

“I sacrifice Fighter and Swords Woman…”

The two Amazons vanished into grains of light…

“I summon Infernal Flame Emperor!”

With a roar, a huge Pyro rose onto Debbie’s side of the field. It was just as big as Thestalos, and resembled a flaming centaur, with wings and a head shaped like a hawk. It burned with a fiery aura. (2,700 ATK)

“Bet you never expected I’d use your best card against you huh?” she asked. “But that’s how it is, you know. When you grow up like I did, you learn early on that life can be so cruel…”

Ember just glared at Debbie.

“Attack Charcoal Inpachi!” shouted Debbie.

Infernal Flame Emperor threw a searing ball of flames, and Ember braced herself as her Monster was blown to shards.

“Now, Paladin attacks your facedown Monster!”

Paladin flew at the facedown Monster…

A third UFO Turtle appeared on the card, and she cleaved it in a half.

“A third one?” shouted Debbie.

“Yes, I had a third one,” replied Ember. “And you’re going to see just how cruel life can be. I use its effect to summon…

“…Ultimate Baseball Kid!”

In a blast of fire, a very unlikely Monster leapt onto Ember’s side of the field. He looked like a ten-year-old, dressed in a red little league uniform, holding a metal bat covered with spikes. His eyes burned with fire, and the Kanji symbol for Fire was printed on his batting helmet. (500 ATK)

“Mmmph!” said Debbie, trying to hold back laughter. “You’re kidding right?”

“Seems you’re the one who didn’t do any research now,” said Ember. “Ultimate Baseball Kid is incredibly powerful when you use him right. He gains 1,000 Attack Points for each Fire Monster on the field, other than himself. I see two right now, UFO Turtle, and Infernal Flame Emperor.”

Ultimate Baseball Kid took a few warm-up swings with his bat… (2,500 ATK)

“Uh…” said Debbie.

“And it’s my move…” said Ember, drawing a card.

“I play MY Pot of Avarice,” she said.

The jar appeared, and she took Tenkabito Shien, Thestalos, both UFO Turtles, and Inferno from her Graveyard. She shuffled them back into her deck, and made two draws.

“Next, I remove Charcoal Inpachi from play, to Special Summon Spirit of Flames!”

In another burst of fire, a muscular, fiendish-looking creature, with horns and flames in place of legs, appeared on the field. (1,700 ATK)

“Then, I Normal Summon Magna Drago!”

She played the card, and a small but vicious-looking Dragon with red scales appeared on her side of the field. (1,400 ATK)

“That’s a Tuner Monster!” shouted Debbie.

“Exactly,” replied Ember, with a smile. “You thought that Infernal Flame Emperor was my best card, but you were wrong… Allow me to introduce you to my best card…”

Magna Dragon breathed flames from its jaws. Then it and UFO Turtle flew to the ceiling, and split into six shimmering stars.

Then, a flaming meteor fell to Ember’s side of the field.

“I Tune UFO Turtle and Magna Drago,” she said, “to Synchro Summon… Flamvell Urquizas!”

The fireball burst, and a tall, intimidating Monster was standing there. He looked like a man in armor that suggested volcanic stone, decorated with fire-red crystal, with flames shrouding his hands. (2,100 ATK)

“Flamvell… Urquizas?” asked Debbie. “Uhm… How do you spell that?”

Ember sighed.

“Why do they always ask that?” she muttered. “For you, he spells trouble, because with three other Fire Monsters on the field, Ultimate Baseball Kid gets even stronger!”

Ultimate Baseball Kid burned with fire. (3,500 ATK)

“Sorry about this, pal,” said Ember, looking at Infernal Flame Emperor. “Ultimate Baseball Kid, attack with home run slammer!”

Ultimate Baseball Kid formed a fireball in his hand, then threw it up, and walloped it with his bat, hitting a line drive that blew Infernal Flame Emperor to shards.

“Now my Spirit of Flame attacks your Paladin,” continued Ember. “And during my Battle Phase, it gains 300 extra Attack Points!”

Spirit of Flames rose to an Attack Score of 2,000. It breathed a blast of fire, and Amazoness Paladin screamed before she was incinerated.

“All right, Urquizas!” said Ember. “Let’s take this duel home! Attack directly with fist of flame!”

Flamvell Urquizas burned like a blazing beacon. He flew at Debbie, and socked her in the stomach with his molten fist. Debbie screamed, and fell over.



(E: 2,350) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 0)


Ember watched as Debbie slowly got up.

So now what? thought Ember. Jinx hasn’t finished with Fogg yet… And I never got that thing I need to make an arrest… I don’t even think I’m authorized to do so yet…

Debbie chuckled as she looked at Ember. She slowly got up.

“So you beat me,” she said, reaching into her pocket. “Ah, well…”

Ember almost jumped when she saw that she was taking a switchblade out of her pocket.

“Seems I’m gonna have to deal with you another way…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Five minutes later, Ember could hardly believe what had happened.

Right now, she was holding Debbie down by sitting on her, although Debbie was not fighting back. She was holding her eyes in incredible pain. Ember didn’t know how to use a sword, but the pepper spray that she had carried long before she had ever met Shichiro had proven useful.

“I swear, bitch,” cursed Debbie, “as soon as I manage to see you…”

“Yeah, yeah,” muttered Ember. “By the way, gimme back my card…”

She reached down and took the card off Debbie’s Disk.

Hurry up, Jinx, she thought. I’m really not sure how long I can hold her…



* * * * * * * * * *


Satellite…

It was a place that could be summed up very simply: If you didn’t live there, you hoped you’d never go there. And if you did, you dreamed of finding a way to leave.

Crumbling buildings stood astride ruined streets… Smoke and soot filled the air… Dirty water and other unidentifiable residue collected in ditches… If you only spent an hour here, the aura of despair would cling to you like an unpleasant rash.

Situated on a large island about eight miles from the mainland, Satellite was once the original Domino City, before a careless accident turned it into a ruin. Now, it was a run-down, crumbling berg, suffering from terrible urban decay, a slum where the lower class and the fallen-from-grace lived, and could only look up upon the utopia that was far out of reach.

Satellite was not without its uses. Neo Domino, like most large cities, generated a great deal of refuse, and the garbage was sent to factories in Satellite for recycling and processing. The residents of Satellite were in charge of this dubious task; to quote an old saying, it was a dirty job, but someone had to do it. They didn’t do it willingly, but what choice did they have? They knew of no other existence. Even if they could somehow leave, they wouldn’t be welcome in Neo Domino. The folk there tended to regard them as objects of pity at best, and as unclean lepers at worst. The term “Satellite scum” was a common phrase used to reference them.

Very few residents had actually escaped and managed to achieve a better life. Among the well-known residents who had were Jack Atlas and Yusei Fudo. One claim that only certain people made – in secret – was that Godwin himself was a native of Satellite. Supposedly, this secret was one that the Arcadia Movement knew, and was the reason Godwin’s men didn’t interfere with them. Of course, they were likely smart enough to know when to draw the line; if they used this knowledge to make an attempt at blackmail, they would likely be silenced.

Only a very small minority actually lived in Satellite by choice. You’d need a very good reason to. Satellite simply wasn’t a very nice place…

…if you were human, that is. To some Shadows, Satellite suited them just fine.

As the morning sun tried to burn through the smog in a remote area of Satellite, three urchins in worn clothing – two boys and one girl, the boys ages twelve and fourteen, the girl only ten – ran through the streets, the girl trying to keep up.

“Stop!” she shouted. “Wes! Stop!”

Wes laughed, and then did stop.

“What’s the matter, Mira?” he asked. “Can’t keep up?”

“Wes…” said Mira, nervously, looking ahead. “Dad told us never to come here…”

The three of them looked at a large building in front of them. It may have once been a factory at one time, but exactly what it had once manufactured could not be determined.

“Scared of an old, abandoned factory?” asked Wes, grinning from ear to ear.

“I’m with Mira,” said the other boy. “Dad said…”

“Wait!” said Wes. “I know why dad doesn’t want us near here…

“I heard that Louis DaPen lives here…”

Mira shivered a little.

“Isn’t that something?” said Wes, still grinning. “Know what I heard? I heard that if he doesn’t like someone, he throws them in the bay wearing cement shoes!”

Mira cowered in fear.

“Wes…” said the other boy.

“I also heard,” continued Wes, “that one time he locked a guy in his car, and then crushed the car in a compactor with the guy still in it!”

“I wanna go home!” squeaked Mira.

“Wes, that’s a lot of bull!” snapped the other boy. “You’ve been using dad’s laptop to download old gangster movies, haven’t you? He told you not to waste download time doing that!”

Wes looked, and saw a door, an apparent entrance to the factory.

“You two scared?” he asked. “Heck, I’m not scared… Why don’t we see if he’s home?”

“WES!” shouted Mira.

“No, really,” replied Wes, as he started to walk up to the door. “You two may be fraidy-cats, but I feel like meeting the old guy. I’m sure he’s a nice guy when you get to know…”

Before he could finish the sentence, the door opened. They all turned to it.

Standing there was a huge, unsmiling man. He stood at least seven feet tall, and was hulking, with dark hair and skin, as well as piercing, suspicious-looking eyes. He was dressed in a black suit with a red tie.

He looked at them and frowned.

Three screams echoed from that part of the block as the three kids ran for their lives.

The thug watched until they were out of sight.

“Kids…” he said with a shrug.

He took a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, and transferred one directly from the pack to his mouth. He made sure they were gone, and then turned back inside, lighting it in the process.

Wes was a rotten kid who had been trying to scare his sister, but he had inadvertently been right; this was DaPen’s home and office. The thug was one of his two most trusted bodyguards.

The door led to a long hallway, and once inside, you would see the difference immediately. The inside of this building was in much better shape than the outside. Everything was clean, and it had luxuries that most residents of Satellite only dreamed of.

The hallway led to a large, comfortable looking waiting room. This was where you went if you had business with DaPen and were considered a guest. However, there was no guarantee that this status would not change. Guests who annoyed DaPen or made him angry didn’t last long. DaPen never actually drowned anyone by giving him cement shoes (too cliché) but he had other methods.

Opposite the door where the thug went in was another door, guarded by another thug who looked just like him. (They were brothers, actually.) The first thug went by, and opened the door, into the room that was the limit of what most guests saw:

DaPen’s office.

The office was comparable to Draco’s in terms of comfort. It had a large mahogany desk with a padded swivel chair, a television with a digital receiver (which was also equipped with receivers for viewing areas in Neo Domino that he had an interest in), a laptop computer, a fully stocked wet bar, and bookshelves, with some of the books held in place by locked chains (the contents of these books were a mystery to most). Doors in the back of the office led to the interior of the building, where only a select few were allowed to go.

DaPen was not what you would call handsome. To most viewers, he looked like a corpulent, unpleasant man who seemed to be in his mid-forties, dressed in a grey business suit, with incredibly pale skin that suggested he had not gotten any sun in months. He was bald on the top of his head, but he had a full, white beard. His beard seemed to constantly flow as if blown in the wind, even when there was no wind. He was fond of cigars, and was rarely seen without one in hand (Cuban, of course).

Even if you were an Aware, you’d likely never see any more than this. DaPen hid his true form behind multiple layers of disguise, keeping most from discovering what lay hidden underneath the veil. Only certain Shadowkind could see what he truly was, and even they kept mum about it.

It wasn’t often that DaPen was seen by anyone whom he wasn’t well-acquainted with. Those who saw him would say that, despite his lack of morals, he was never rude, and tended to be formal in most matters. After all, his profession was just another business in his eyes…

The only difference was, when your business of choice is organized crime, there are ways of dealing with issues that aren’t used in most other businesses…

“Did you scare away those kids?” he asked, as the henchman entered the room.

DaPen had one of those odd accents that made it impossible for a listener to tell exactly where he was from. Clearly, anyone he spoke to would realize he was not a native of this part of the world.

“Yeah, I got rid of them,” replied the thug.

“Good,” said DaPen. “Make sure they don’t come back. There’s going to be trouble in a few minutes, and I want to make sure I know all the details…”

He hit a remote, and the television came on. He took a drag on his cigar before leaning on his chin.

“So, they want to know me, huh?” he muttered. “Well… Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more… social…”


Now, technically, Debbie was not a true Shadowkind. As a tiefling, she was Shadow-Touched. Since she had no idea what member of her family had actually been a Shadow, and how far in the past it had occurred, she was far more human than Shadow, even though she apparently had more loyalty to them.

Still, I didn’t expect my first victory as a Shadowchaser to have a great amount of grandeur. Almost everyone starts small. Debbie mentioned Hercules, and his first Labor, the slaying of the Nemean Lion, paled in comparison with what came later. I mean, what’s more heroic, slaying an overly vicious and hard-to-kill lion, or making a trip into the Underworld and subduing Cerberus himself?

Still, my first victory is one I remember better than others. The fact that I had done it alone, and with no help, doing something important for this new task that had been set before me… well, it gave me inspiration that I didn’t have before. And it had helped give me the sea legs I needed to use the Disk better than I had in the past.

As I held Debbie down, waiting for Jinx to come, the thought that was at the forefront of my mind was, “What comes next?”



PRIDE OF TRIBE (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: Amazoness Swords Woman striking a pose on a hill against the full moon.

Card Description: You can activate this card when an “Amazoness” Monster you control, or 1 that is named “Amazon Archer”, is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard. Special Summon 1 “Amazoness” Monster or an “Amazon Archer” from your deck.

Note: “Pride of Tribe” was first used by Tanya in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” episode “Duel Distractions (Part 1)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



FLAMVELL URQUIZAS (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Pyro/Synchro/Effect
Attribute: Fire
Level: 6
ATK: 2,100
DEF: 400

Card Description: Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner Monsters

When this card attacks a Defense Position Monster whose DEF is lower than the ATK of this card, inflict the difference in battle damage to your opponent’s Life Points. When this card inflicts battle damage, increase its ATK by 300.

Note: “Flamvell Urquizas” was released in Japan for the original “Duel Terminal” system. It has not yet been released in the United States.



Coming up next:

Ember took down the assistant – now Jinx has to deal with her boss. As she confronts the mysterious Dr. Fogg, she learns clues as to the bigger threat they are facing. Meanwhile, DaPen continues to plot and scheme, and it likely won’t be good.

“Science Soldier” is next.

Shuppet Master
23rd January 2009, 03:21 PM
So, Ember isn't just a nickname, is it? She runs a typical fire deck? This sounds pretty interesting. I hope you can mix it up a bit, though.

Tiefling, eh? First all that demonology in Soul of Silicon, then this. Gary Gygax, anyone? :D

Great duel, though.

Dark Sage
23rd January 2009, 03:28 PM
No, Chris, Ember's deck is not typical. You won't see her use Solar Flare Dragons, for instance, and no Lava Golem either. Ember doesn't concentrate on Burn tactics, even though she uses Backfire. Also, there are other Flamvell Monsters besides Urquizas, and she has most of them too. She'll be revealing them and other new cards as the fic progresses.

I didn't want to make Ember's deck just another Fire Deck, but this was good to start.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
24th January 2009, 04:46 AM
Eventhough it's kinda an introduction for Embers deck, I liked it. The deck was ok, but seeing that there are going to be some changes, that should be interesteting.

The fact that the plot went on aswell, was great. I'm looking forward to the battle with Fogg.

Dark Sage
27th January 2009, 08:33 AM
CHAPTER EIGHT




http://www.ideal808.com/images/psv-0971.jpg



Now, you may be wondering, like I was at the time, what interest DaPen had with some psychiatrist, and what the deal was with all the experimental stimulants. I later did some research on those chemicals. Taking one milligram of some of that stuff would likely keep you alert longer than a whole six-pack of Red Bull.

You might be thinking of an American movie that I once heard of starring Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro that was called Analyze This. In the movie, a psychiatrist (Crystal’s character) is having a lot of problems with his life. At the same time, a notorious mob boss (played by De Niro, who was no stranger to playing mobsters) was suffering from stress and anxiety attacks. After Crystal accidentally encounters one of De Niro’s henchmen and business cards are exchanged, De Niro persuades (or rather forces) Crystal to take him as a patient, which leads to a lot of problems; most notably, how does a doctor treat a patient who usually solves problems with a gun?

The film was incredibly funny, and was a success at the box office, and traces of this plotline were seen in the HBO series The Sopranos, which debuted later the same year.

I only wish that this were the same situation we were encountering now. A much darker secret lay in that office than a mobster who had stress, and the key to discovering it rested in a doctor who was clearly not as innocent as the doctor in that movie…



DaPen was on the phone. His brow furrowed.

“Yes, yes,” he muttered. “Uh huh… Well, keep watching…”

He hung up.

“Bad news, boss?” asked the bodyguard.

“Quite,” replied DaPen. “We’re more than likely going to lose that office…”

He pondered for a minute.

“Send him in, Albert,” he said.

The bodyguard opened the door to the waiting room.

“Tell him he can come in, Vince,” said Albert.

After a few seconds, a dark elf that seemed far better off than Malken entered the room. He was dressed in a leather jacket and pants, both of which seemed a far better quality than Shichiro’s. His long hair was platinum blond, which was typical for dark elves.

“Mr. DaPen,” he said, “this is an honor. I…”

“Listen, Mr… Ka’duren,” replied DaPen, looking at a sheet of paper he had in front of him. “I’ll tell you this once: I’m not overly fond of dark elves. You claim you can defeat the best Shadowchaser in Neo Domino, meaning you can defeat Shichiro. You have five minutes to get my attention and tell me how you intend to do that.”

“Simple,” said the dark elf, with a grin. “I specialize on defeating duelists whose strategy depends on Synchro Summoning. The best way to stop a Synchro Monster is to prevent it from ever showing up.”

“And how do you intend to do that?” asked DaPen.

He leaned back in his chair.

“Royal Oppression? Vanity’s Fiend? Both are dead-end strategies in Turbo Duels.

“Both cards stop both players from Special Summoning, meaning your own deck must avoid doing so. And such a deck could never succeed in a Turbo Duel. In a Turbo Duel, your opponent is armed to the teeth with Trap Cards, and one Sakuretsu Armor, one Dust Tornado, any Trap at all that can destroy the key card will lead to you being overwhelmed, and lead you to defeat.”

The dark elf chuckled. He took a deck out of a case.

“I don’t use either,” he said. “I have a far more efficient method…”

He took a card from it, and showed it to DaPen.

DaPen carefully read the text on the card…

“Well…” he said. “I must say, you’ve successfully gotten my attention…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Jinx ran down the hallway, after her target, hoping that there wasn’t a back door that he could escape out of. She started to gain, and then saw him duck into a room at the end, leaving the door halfway ajar.

Jinx carefully opened the door, and saw him looking at her in the dim light.

As she slowly walked in, he hit a light switch, revealing the room to be what looked like a psychiatric examination room. He had gotten a Disk from somewhere (most likely the shelf behind him) and was placing it on his arm.

“So, do you even have a permit for that gun you tried to use?” asked Jinx.

“May I see your search warrant?” asked Fogg. “Or do you folks think you’re above such…”

Jinx quickly reached into her vest pocket and pulled out a slip of paper. She held it up.

“Even the Shadowchasers have procedures to follow, Fogg,” she said. “I’ve got the warrant I needed to search this place right here. It wasn’t hard to get, seeing as your business card was found on someone who made an unprovoked assault on a Shadowchaser and admitted to being the henchman of a wanted criminal.”

Fogg chuckled.

“I guess you got me…” he said, with a shrug.

Jinx looked at him carefully.

“You’re snakeblooded, aren’t you?” she asked.

Fogg frowned.

“Yes,” he said. “So nice of you to notice. I’m snakeblooded. So were my father, and my grandfather. I have no idea how far back in my family I’d have to go back before I reached someone who was a true ophidia.

“I have no loyalty to them at all. In fact, I rather despise them.”

“You realize that the ophidia will think differently,” replied Jinx. “With their twisted view of the world, they expect all creatures with their blood to serve them eventually, whether they want to or not.”

“I’m quite aware of that,” replied Fogg. “They believe for some reason that loyalty is owed to them by anyone with their heritage. And that is exactly the reason why I work for DaPen.

“It’s common sense. A certain book written a long time ago said it all. The title was, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by a guy named Robert Fulghum. It was interesting reading. One thing you learn in kindergarten is, when you know that a bully is going to come after you, your only recourse is to make friends with a stronger bully. The ophidia are afraid of DaPen, so as long as I work for DaPen, they’ll leave me alone. Some ophidia even get smart and work for DaPen, thinking they can become powerful faster.”

“Yeah, we already kind of know that,” replied Jinx.

“I’ve heard the goals of the more traditional ophidia, Jinx…” continued Fogg. “The ones who would refuse to work for anyone but their own kind. How they dream of ushering in the fabled Age of Serpents, how they will cover the Earth with their brood, and become the masters of the world, growing fat upon the flesh of humanity. Insane ramblings that make Nazi propaganda seem lucid. If they ever tried to make their dream a reality, working for them would likely be slavery. At least working for DaPen, I get a decent salary and the right to do as I please.”

“Okay, that’s the why,” replied Jinx. “Now tell me the what. What do you plan to do with the chemistry set?”

“I was planning to perfect a formula that will enhance the powers of paranatural beings,” replied Fogg.

Jinx glared at him.

“That’s it?” she exclaimed. “You’re not even gonna try to lie to me?”

“What good would lying do?” asked Fogg, as he placed a deck into his Disk. “Common sense, remember? I know that this confrontation can only end one of two ways. The first way is, you’ll defeat me, I’ll be arrested, and everything in this building will be confiscated.

“The other way is, I’ll defeat you. But even if you don’t survive, your allies know you came here, and I’ll be forced to abandon this building anyway. I can only take so much with me. For all I know, your partner already subdued my assistant and is calling them. Whatever I was doing here was ruined as soon as you discovered it, so there’s no sense in not telling you.

“See, that’s the problem with the ophidia. The fact that they actually believe that this Age of Serpents can ever actually happen proves that they’re stupid. Not smart, like me.”

“You’re that smart, are you?” asked Jinx.

“Well, my IQ was last measured at 150,” replied Fogg. “And if you doubt my mental prowess, duel me, and you’ll see firsthand.”

He activated his Disk. Jinx followed suit, and activated hers.



(Jinx: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Fogg: 8,000)


“I’ll start this off,” said Fogg, drawing a card.

“And I summon… Magnet Warrior Omega Minus!”

The floor seemed to crack open, and what looked like a large robot rose out of it. It clearly was not any Magnet Warrior that the great Yugi Mouto had ever used. It was blocky, colored purple, and its parts were shaped with a magnet theme. It held a shield on its left arm shaped like a magnet, and a sword in its right hand. (1,900 ATK)

“Heh…” chuckled Jinx. “Interesting…”

“That’s enough to start,” said Fogg.

Jinx quickly whipped a card off her deck.

“I summon, my Abare Ushioni!” she shouted.

In a blast of energy, the large, red, three-eyed, tattooed bull appeared. It bellowed, and steam blew out of its nostrils. (1,200/1,200)

“Now I get to toss a coin and call it,” she continued. “I guess right, then you lose 1,000 Life Points. I guess wrong, then I lose 1,000 Life Points.

“So, what do you think my chances are?”

“Don’t you know anything about statistics?” asked Fogg. “The chance of calling a coin toss right is always a flat fifty percent.”

“We’ll see,” replied Jinx, as a gold coin appeared in her hand.

She tossed it up.

“Heads!”

The coin spun in the air, and hit the ground. It was indeed heads.

A blast of energy shot out of Abare Ushioni’s eyes, hitting Fogg. He grunted.

Two facedown cards flashed into existence behind Abare Ushioni.

“I’ll set these,” said Jinx, “and I’ll end my turn.”



(J: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 7,000)


“My draw…” said Fogg, drawing a card.

“And I summon Magnet Warrior Sigma Plus!”

Another large robot rose out of the ground. It looked similar to the first one, but it was colored orange, and held a long spear for a weapon. (1,800 ATK)

“So I’m assuming that Yugi’s three Magnet Warriors were only the first three of a set of twenty-four?” asked Jinx. “All of them named after the letters of the Greek alphabet?”

“There’s far more to these creatures than that,” replied Fogg. “Omega Minus, attack her Abare Ushioni!”

Omega Minus lifted its sword, and flew towards the Beast-Warrior…

“I activate, Skull Dice!” shouted Jinx.

One of her facedown cards lifted, revealing a Trap. A small, grinning, winged imp flew out of it, holding a red die.

“Now, this die is gonna roll,” she continued, “and the result is gonna multiply by 100. Then, both of your Monsters are gonna lose that many Attack Points.”

The imp laughed, and then tossed the die. It bounced on the floor, and came to a rest on the four. Omega Minus fell to an Attack Score of 1,500, while Sigma Plus fell to 1,400.

“My Monster can still defeat yours,” replied Fogg, as Omega Minus lifted its sword again.

“Well, I also have a Spell Card,” replied Jinx, as her other facedown card lifted. “Graceful Dice!”

Then, a teddy bear with a red suit and a winged hat flew out, holding a blue die.

“Now, this guy is gonna roll another die, and once again, the result is gonna multiply by 100. That amount is gonna be added to the Attack Score of my Abare Ushioni.

“Go!”

The teddy bear tossed the die, and it skipped and bounced. It landed on the six.

“Bingo!” shouted Jinx, as Abare Ushioni’s Attack Score shot up to 1,800.

Abare Ushioni snorted, and rammed into Magnet Warrior Omega Minus, smashing it to bits.

“Ergh…” muttered Fogg.

He took a card from his hand.

“I’ll set a card of my own facedown, and that will end my turn…” he muttered.

A facedown card appeared in front of him. Sigma Plus returned to an Attack Score of 1,800, while Abare Ushioni returned to 1,200.



(J: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 6,700)


Jinx quickly drew a card.

“I activate the effect of Abare Ushioni again!” she shouted.

She tossed the coin.

“Heads again!”

The coin spun in the air, and fell to the floor.

Then Jinx gasped as it came up tails. She groaned as Abare Ushioni glowed with a sickening green aura, which quickly spread to her.

Fogg simply smirked.

“You pride yourself on your luck, Jinx,” he said, “but what would you do if it failed you at a crucial time? How would you survive?”

“By wit and skill,” muttered Jinx. “I don’t depend on luck alone…

“I sacrifice Abare Ushioni…”

The Beast-Warrior vanished.

“…to summon Maximum Six!”

With a roar, the blue-skinned, six-armed ogre appeared. (1,900 ATK)

“Let’s see if my luck is better this time, eh?” she asked.

Another die appeared, and skipped and bounced…

It came up a six.

“All right!” shouted Jinx.

Maximum Six let out a loud roar… (3,100 ATK)

“Go!” shouted Jinx. “Attack his Magnet Warrior Sigma Plus!”

Maximum Six charged at the droid.

“I activate a Trap!” shouted Fogg, as his facedown card shot up. “Magnet Force Plus!”

Then, a wave of energy emitted from the center of the field, and Maximum Six was thrown backwards, falling on his behind.

“What happened?” asked Jinx.

“Simple,” replied Fogg. “My Trap Card reconfigured the molecular structure of your Maximum Six, giving it a positive charge. Just like my Magnet Warrior Sigma Plus. And two positively charged Monsters cannot battle each other. Their similar charges repel each other.”

Jinx just looked at him.

“Now,” said Fogg, “if your Monster had a negative charge, it would have no choice but to battle my Magnet Warrior Sigma Plus…”

“Because their dissimilar charges would attract each other,” replied Jinx.

“Isn’t science interesting?” asked Fogg.

“I have to end my turn,” replied Jinx.



(J: 7,000) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 6,700)


Fogg drew a card, and looked at it.

“I play Monster Reborn,” he said, as the holy ankh appeared on his side of the field. “Now, I’m bringing back Omega Minus.”

Magnet Warrior Omega Minus appeared again. (1,900 ATK)

“I seem to remember you saying that negatively charged Monsters have no choice but to attack positively charged ones,” said Jinx. “That one has a negative charge!”

“I know how my own Monsters work,” replied Fogg. “This Monster won’t be staying for long. I send one Plus Monster and one Minus Monster to the Graveyard…”

Both Sigma Plus and Omega Minus dissolved into grains of light.

“…to special summon something much stronger…”

A blast of energy erupted on his side of the field.

“…my Super Conductive Warrior Linear Magnum Plus-Minus!”

The Monster that appeared looked like a battle mecha of some sort, much bigger than the previous two Monsters, colored in gold and purple hues. It had armor plating, and two huge, high-tech cannons mounted on its shoulders. (2,700 ATK)

“Heh…” said Jinx, nervously. “That’s gotta be the longest name for a Monster I’ve ever heard…”

“It is a mouthful,” replied Fogg, “and a handful, because my Monster has a powerful effect. First, I can choose whether its charge is positive or negative, and I choose negative.

“In addition, it can absorb half the Attack Score of any positively or negatively charged Monster on the field. Since Maximum Six has a positive charge, and has 3,100 Attack Points, my Monster gains 1,550 more Attack Points.”

Super Conductive Warrior glowed with energy… (4,250 ATK)

“Attack her Maximum Six!” ordered Fogg. “Pulverizing plasma blast!”

The huge robot fired twin beams of burning death from its cannons. Jinx shielded herself as Maximum Six was blown to atoms.



(J: 5,850) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 6,700)


Fogg took the last two cards from his hand as his Monster’s Attack Score returned to 2,700.

“I’ll end by setting a Monster, and then a facedown card,” he said.

A concealed Monster and a reversed card appeared.

“My move…” muttered Jinx, drawing a card.

“I summon Twin-Barrel Dragon!”

She played a card, and in a small aura of energy, a small Monster appeared that looked like a robotic dog with two legs, and a double-barreled laser cannon for a head. (1,700 ATK)

“Here’s how this one works,” she said. “First, I choose one card on the field, and I think I’ll choose your Super Conductive Warrior Linear Magnum Plus-Minus.

“Didn’t think I could say it, did you?

“Then, I toss two coins. If both coins come up heads, then I send that card packing.”

Two coins appeared in her hand.

She tossed one coin. It spun, and fell to the ground.

Heads.

She tossed the other one. Once again, it spun.

Heads again.

Jinx grinned, as Twin-Barrel Dragon glowed, and aimed at the larger robot.

“I activate… Power Off!” shouted Fogg, as his facedown card lifted up. “Now, I get to sacrifice my Monster before your blast hits it…”

Super Conductive Warrior Linear Magnum Plus-Minus vanished into grains of light.

“And since your Twin-Barrel Dragon’s target is no longer here, its effect is ruined. And what’s more, I now get to summon both of the Monsters I sacrificed to summon my Super Conductive Warrior.”

Sigma Plus (1,800 ATK) and Omega Minus (1,900 ATK) both appeared on Fogg’s side of the field.

“Well, so much for that…” muttered Jinx, looking at her hand.

She took a card from it, and set it in her Disk. A set card appeared.

“It’s your move…”

“I draw one card…” said Fogg, making a draw.

“Perfect…” he said, playing it. “I activate Golden Sarcophagus.”

With an eerie, glowing, magical aura, a golden chest with the Eye of Wdjat on it appeared in front of him. Fogg took his deck out of the holder and looked through it.

“Now, I get to take any card from my deck I desire, and seal it in the Sarcophagus…”

He chose a card, and it lowered into the golden chest. The chest vanished, as Fogg shuffled his deck.

“In just two turns, I’ll be able to recover that card.

“For now, I flip my Morphing Jar into Attack Mode.”

His facedown Monster flipped, revealing the ceramic jar with the one-eyed creature inside it. It let out a nasty laugh. (700 ATK)

Jinx frowned. She discarded the two cards in her hand, and made five draws. Fogg simply made five draws.

“Now, I attack your Twin-Barrel Dragon with Omega Minus!” shouted Fogg.

Omega Minus charged at the small Machine.

“Activate… Fairy Box!” shouted Jinx, as her facedown card lifted.

The whack-a-mole appeared, and loony music started to play.

“Another gamble card?” gasped Fogg.

“That’s right!” said Jinx, as another coin appeared in her hand.

She quickly tossed it.

“Let’s go for tails this time!”

The coin spun in the air once again.

It landed again, and was indeed tails.

Omega Minus’s Attack Score fell to zero. Twin-Barrel Dragon blasted a bolt of energy, and it was blown to pieces.

“Ergh…” grunted Fogg.

He glared at Jinx. He took a card from his hand.

“I set a card facedown,” he said, as a reversed card appeared, “and I end my turn.”



(J: 5,850) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 5,000)


Jinx drew a card, and looked at the cards in her hand.

“I pay 500 Life Points to keep my Fairy Box,” she said, “then I set a Monster…”

A set Monster appeared.

“Then my Twin-Barrel Dragon attacks your Morphing Jar!”

The Machine fired a blast of pure energy from its barrel, and the Jar was blown to dust.

“I end my turn.”



(J: 5,350) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 4,000)


Fogg drew a card.

“First, I summon Magnet Warrior Sigma Minus,” he said.

He played the card, and a new Magnet Warrior rose out of the ground. This one was even bulkier, colored blue and green, and held a steel, spiked club. (1,500 ATK)

“Now, I activate 100,000 Gauss!” he shouted as his facedown card shot up. “This reduces your Monster’s Attack Score by 800.”

Twin-Barrel Dragon glowed with a red aura of energy. (900 ATK)

“Oh… Crud…” said Jinx.

“Then, I play Monster Reincarnation,” continued Fogg, as a Spell Card appeared. “So I toss one card…”

He discarded a card, Final Attack Orders.

“And I get my Super Conductive Warrior back.

“Now, I send both my Monsters to the Graveyard again, to summon it!”

Sigma Plus and Sigma Minus vanished, and the much more powerful droid appeared once again. (2,700 ATK)

“Attack her Twin-Barrel Dragon!” he shouted.

Super Conductive Warrior’s cannons glowed.

“I activate the effect of Fairy Box!” shouted Jinx.

She tossed the coin.

“Heads!” she shouted.

The coin landed.

She gasped as it came up tails.

“Looks like your luck just ran out,” said Fogg, with a grin.

Jinx cringed in pain as Twin-Barrel Dragon was blown to bits.



(J: 3,650) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 4,000)


“My turn is over.”

Jinx paused. She drew a card.

“I pay 500 Life Points to keep Fairy Box,” she said, “just in case.”

She looked at the card she had drawn.

“Check this out!” she laughed, as she threw a card on her Disk. “I summon… Time Wizard!”

In a puff of colored smoke, the famous Spellcaster that symbolized the bond between Yugi Mouto and Katsuya Jounouchi appeared in front of her. (500 ATK)

“Time Wizard?!” shouted Fogg. “That’s one of the riskiest gambles in the game!”

“And let’s see if it pans out!” laughed Jinx. “Just watch the spinning arrow! Time Roulette now!”

Time Wizard gestured with his staff, and the arrow on the tip started to spin. Fogg started to sweat…

The arrow started to slow…

Then it stopped, directly on the crown on top.

“Seems my luck hasn’t run out yet,” said Jinx with a smile.

“Time Magic!” chanted Time Wizard, as a portal opened, and the whole room became a maelstrom of energy.

“What have you done?” shouted Fogg.

“Torn a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum,” replied Jinx. “Causing everything on your side of the field to age millions of years within seconds. And in that time, even magnets lose their potency.”

Fogg watched in horror as Super Conductive Warrior Linear Magnum Plus-Minus started to rust, rot, and decay, and then fall into a pile of dust.

“You haven’t beaten me yet!” he shouted. “Next round, I’ll get my ultimate Monster from that chest, and it will destroy you!”

“Next round…” chuckled Jinx. “Afraid there is no next round, Fogg…

“I flip my facedown Monster to Attack Mode… X-Saber Urz!”

Her facedown Monster flipped up, and a savage looking humanoid appeared, dressed in barbarian armor, with red skin, and a tusked mouth, holding two large scimitars. (1,600 ATK)

“Now I play… Polymerization!” she continued, as a Spell Card appeared. “I’ll fuse Time Wizard with Baby Dragon in my hand…”

Baby Dragon appeared next to Time Wizard, and the two Monsters combined into two swirls of colors…

“…and summon Thousand Dragon!”

The swirl burst, and sitting there was a much bigger, elderly Dragon, with a serene smile on its face. (2,400 ATK)

“Uh…” said Fogg.

“Urz,” said Jinx, “you first.”

Urz lifted one of his swords, and flew at Fogg, slashing across his chest. Fogg gasped and took a step back.

“Thousand Dragon, finish him off! Noxious nostril gust!”

The Dragon roared, and blasted a stream of toxic gas from its nostrils. Fogg screamed, and collapsed to the ground.



(J: 3,150) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 0)


Jinx sighed as she took the sapphire out of her pouch.

She had won, and she had managed to do so before he had summoned his ace Monster.

But at the same time, she couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. She was curious as to what it actually was.

She guessed she might never know. She had no time to search Fogg right now. She had to make the arrest, and get back to Ember.

Then she noticed a card lying on the floor. Apparently, Fogg had dropped it.

She picked it up. She looked at it and frowned. Clearly, it was not the card he had put in that Sarcophagus.

She’d figure it out later.



* * * * * * * * * *


Meanwhile, Ember was struggling to hold Debbie down, and not doing too well a job. Having fiendish blood in her veins made tieflings somewhat stronger than humans, it seemed.

Finally, Debbie threw Ember off of her with a snarl, and got up. She lifted her Duel Disk, as if to dash Ember’s brains out with it.

“I’m gonna kill you, bitch!” she shouted.

And then she froze solid. A sword had just been placed against her throat.

Debbie slowly turned her head, and saw Jinx.

“A good general knows when she’s outgunned,” said Jinx. “I’m guessing you’re not a good anything, but you’d better drop it.”

Debbie dropped the Disk, and lifted her hands.

“You did good, kid,” said Jinx. “Sorry I took so long.”

Ember smiled nervously.



* * * * * * * * * *


Later, at the townhouse, it had just turned one o’clock. Jinx and Ember were speaking with Shichiro and Gears, as Jalal silently stood in the background.

“Working on serums for ‘paranatural beings’?” asked Shichiro. “You got me… Is that any different than supernatural beings?”

“Indeed it is,” replied Jalal, walking up. “It’s difficult to explain.

“As you know, most Shadowkind possess extraordinary abilities, be it strength, speed, long life, the ability to breathe fire, or dozens of other possibilities. Most of their abilities are magical in nature. This sort of Shadow is supernatural.

“But there also exist rare Shadows whose extraordinary abilities aren’t magical, but are derived from scientific sources. These rare Shadows are called paranatural.

“Now, from what little information we can gather, the world where Shadows come from is a world that is dominated by magic. As a result, paranatural beings are not only rare, but very limited in power there.

“However, when they come to Earth…”

“Then paranatural beings would be in Heaven,” added Ember, “because here, science is dominant.”

“This girl is a natural!” laughed Jinx.

“Paranatural beings tend to fit certain themes,” continued Jalal. “Most of them focus on mental energy. There are Shadows who are telepathic, telekinetic, clairvoyant, pyrokinetic…”

“Psychic, in other words?” asked Shichiro, raising an eyebrow.

Jalal nodded.

“Masters of the mind,” replied Jalal. “But finding these rare Shadows is hard, because humans tend to have these powers as well.”

“There are certainly no Shadows in the Arcadia Movement…” muttered Shichiro.

It was no secret to them that the Arcadia Movement harbored psychics and individuals with similar powers. The Shadowchasers of Neo Domino had an uneasy agreement with them.

“Interesting card, Jinx?” asked Shichiro.

He noticed that Jinx had been looking at a card.

“Oh, Fogg dropped this,” she said. “I don’t know why the heck he had it… It clearly didn’t fit his deck…”

She flipped it around. It was the card she picked up after she had arrested Fogg. It was Cloudian – Smoke Ball. A somewhat useful Monster in a deck that used Cloudians, but clearly not in one that used the Monsters he was using.

“I don’t even think it was in his deck. I mean, what use would it have for a Magnet Deck?”

“You got me,” replied Shichiro.

“Eh, maybe it was a keepsake of his…” replied Jinx.

She tossed it on a table.

Gears got up.

“Well, I don’t know about any actual psychiatric medications…” he said. “But I do know someone who knows a good deal about herbal remedies that are good for mental energy. She knows some stuff that helps the memory better than ginko biloba. I’ll go ask her if she knows anything about Shadows who use it.”

“Oh, come on, Gears,” replied Shichiro. “This is just another excuse to go see your girlfriend again…”

Gears stopped short. He blushed.

“Mistle is not my girlfriend!” he shouted. “She’s just an… acquaintance.”

He left the room.

“Denial is such a sad thing…” sighed Jalal, shaking his head.



* * * * * * * * * *


On the edge of Neo Domino, near the suburbs, was a large greenhouse. The sign out front said, “Evermeet Exotic Plants”.

Inside the greenhouse, classical music was played on a sound system and a constant, warm temperature was maintained. Most of the workers in this greenhouse were not living beings. Around the whole large garden, watering cans, spades, trimmers, and other tools worked on the plants, directed by invisible hands. This was the work of Unseen Servants, magical constructs created by the spell of the same name. They would quickly make themselves scarce if a Mundane customer ever came in, but they were quite useful. The one living worker in the greenhouse could leave the place totally unattended, and they’d continue to work nonstop.

That one living worker, who was also the owner, was working right now. An incredibly beautiful woman, blonde, green-eyed, and busty, dressed in overalls and work clothes, tended the beautiful flowers and plants, specimens that were not found in this part of the world, and very hard to grow here. She was a Shadow herself – she was a nymph, an embodiment of the beauty of nature. An Aware who came here for flowers knew that the merchandise was raised with the loving touch of a nature spirit, which was better than any human horticulturist could do.

Several of the flowers she had raised decorated the townhouse, because she had known Gears for a long time. And she smiled broadly as she sensed his presence again.

“Mistle?” said Gears, walking in.

Mistle smiled, and turned to greet him.

“Hi,” she said. “I don’t think I can touch you now…”

She held up her hands, which were covered with work gloves that were caked with potting soil.

“That’s okay, Mistle,” replied Gears. “I was wondering, you know all those herbal remedies you have?”

“Why?” chuckled Mistle. “You need one?”

“No, no,” replied Gears. “I was wondering if you knew of any that enhanced paranatural beings, and whether anyone had come in looking for any.”

Mistle giggled a little.

“Nope,” she said. “Can’t say that I have… But I’ll keep my eye out, in case I see any.”

Gears sighed. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.

“You do that,” he said. “We still on for Sunday?”

Mistle nodded, and then Gears turned and left.

Mistle bent over a large potted plant.

Then she looked up with a start. She smelled something.

Cigar smoke? she thought. What…

She turned around, and saw three figures who had come in the other entrance. It was DaPen, and his two bodyguards.

And since Mistle was herself a Shadow, and one who was not easily deceived, she could see DaPen’s true form quite plainly. It paralyzed her with fear.

“Your friend is on the right track,” said DaPen. “And now it’s time to knock him off it…”



Gears didn’t know it, but his trip had not yet ended. It had taken a turn for the worst, and the ball had gotten rolling, seriously. DaPen had made his move.

I’ll leave out the exact details of DaPen’s encounter with Mistle, because it wasn’t very pleasant, especially not for Mistle. Suffice to say, DaPen came, did what he had to do in about two minutes, and then he and his bodyguards left.

Mistle remained behind, but she was not the same. Whether she ever would be again was dependent on many issues, the first of which would be settled sooner than anyone thought…



X-SABER URZ (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Warrior/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 4
ATK: 1,600
DEF: 1,000

Card Description: When this card destroys an opposing Monster as a result of battle and sends it to the Graveyard, you can Tribute this card to send the destroyed Monster to the top of your opponent’s deck.

Note: “X-Saber Urz” was released in Japan for the original “Duel Terminal” system. It has not yet been released in the United States.



MAGNET WARRIOR SIGMA PLUS (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Rock/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 4
ATK: 1,800
DEF: 1,500

Card Description: If this card battles a “Plus” Monster, that battle is negated. If there is at least one “Minus” Monster on the opposing side of the field, this card must battle one of those Monsters during the next Battle Phase if it is able to.



MAGNET WARRIOR SIGMA MINUS (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Rock/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 4
ATK: 1,500
DEF: 1,800

Card Description: If this card battles a “Minus” Monster, that battle is negated. If there is at least one “Plus” Monster on the opposing side of the field, this card must battle one of those Monsters during the next Battle Phase if it is able to.



MAGNET WARRIOR OMEGA MINUS (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Rock/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 4
ATK: 1,900
DEF: 600

Card Description: If this card battles a “Minus” Monster, that battle is negated. If there is at least one “Plus” Monster on the opposing side of the field, this card must battle one of those Monsters during the next Battle Phase if it is able to.



SUPER CONDUCTIVE WARRIOR LINEAR MAGNUM PLUS-MINUS (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Rock/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 7
ATK: 2,700
DEF: 1,300

Card Description: This card cannot be Normal Summoned or set. This card can only be Special Summoned by sending 1 “Plus” Monster and 1 “Minus” Monster from your hand and/or field to the Graveyard. Select 1 face-up “Plus” or 1 face-up “Minus” Monster on the field (other than this card) and increase the ATK of this card by half the selected Monster’s ATK for as long as the selected Monster remains on the field. You can activate this effect again if a new “Plus” or “Minus” Monster becomes available after the first selected Monster leaves the field. When this card is Summoned, designate it as a “Plus” Monster or a “Minus” Monster. You can change this designation during any of your Standby Phases. If this card battles a Monster whose name contains the same word as its designation, that battle is negated. If there is at least one Monster on the opposing side of the field whose name contains the same word as the designation that this card is not designated to, this card must battle one of those Monsters during the next Battle Phase if it is able to.



100,000 GAUSS! (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: A machine on tank treads with a giant magnet on top.

Card Description: You may only activate this card when you have at least one “Plus” Monster and at least one “Minus” Monster face-up on your side of the field. Target one opposing Monster. Switch the targeted Monster to Attack Position (unless it already is in that position), and decrease its ATK by 800.



POWER OFF (Spell Card)

Quickplay Spell

Image: A large mechanical generator, connected to wires, but shut off.

Card Description: Send 1 “Plus-Minus” Monster that you control to the Graveyard. Special Summon from your Graveyard the Monsters that you sent to the Graveyard to Special Summon the “Plus-Minus” Monster.

Note: The proceeding six cards were first used by Bastion in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” episode “Duel Distractions (Part 1)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



MAGNET FORCE PLUS (Trap Card)

Continuous Trap

Image: Magnet Warrior Sigma Plus in a fighting stance.

Card Description: Upon activation, this card is treated as an Equip Spell that is Equipped to a face-up opposing Monster. The Equipped Monster is treated as if it had the word “Plus” in its name. If the Equipped Monster battles a “Plus” Monster, that battle is negated. If there is at least one “Minus” Monster on the Equipped Monster’s opposing side of the field, the Equipped Monster must battle one of those Monsters during the next Battle Phase if it is able to.

Note: “Magnet Force Plus” was first used by Bastion in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” episode “Magnetic Personality”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



Coming up next:

Gears is forced into a peculiar match, one that he truly didn’t expect. His opponent’s deck hides creatures of an unusual nature, and he’s completely unprepared. “Botanical Girl” is coming up next.

Shuppet Master
27th January 2009, 01:20 PM
Well, DaPen clearly is evil because anyone who attacks a nymph and does evil things to her is pure wicked. Gears will not like this.

I loved this duel, though, it used Bastion's monsters. :)

MeLoVeGhOsTs
27th January 2009, 02:11 PM
I actually thought of rape at first.

The theme was cool, I liked Jinx' battle here, honestly. Don't know why, just because.

DaPen is starting to look cool, very interresting. I wonder what kind of deck he'll use, eventually.

If this next chapter is going to do a plant-deck, I'll kiss you.

Just hoping it's not all Black Rose Garden related.

Shuppet Master
28th January 2009, 01:10 PM
I don't think Brian would ever write a rape scene - not only is it banned4lyfe, but rape is really considered one of the no-nos of fanfiction because it involves a lot of painful assault on an innocent. He would probably lose a lot of fans if he wrote a rape scene.

I wrote one once(not in a published fanfic of course) and hated myself for it. We shouldn't even be TALKING about rape or else the mods might ban us. This is partly a children's forum. ;)

Dark Sage
28th January 2009, 01:28 PM
Okay, I'll say it so long as the issue has been brought up.

This fic is rated PG-13. As such, rape is a little too intense, and will not be an issue. And I would not write a story that made light of such a terrible crime anyway.

Therefore, there was no rape involved in DaPen's confrontation with Mistle. What actually happened? You'll see next chapter.

Shuppet Master
29th January 2009, 11:09 AM
I'm glad you sorted it all out, Brian. I will say no more about the R-word after this. As for me, I would write it on the side(off-screen) if it was to intensify hatred towards an enemy, but I'd never write explicit rape for the same reason I'd never write an explicit sex scene - they are disgusting and would make me a hentai writer, which I do not want.

Keep up the good work, Brian.

Dark Sage
30th January 2009, 03:01 PM
I’d like to thank fellow TPM author Mystic Clown for the inspiration for an important part of this chapter. He designed the unique Monsters used here, and gave me the okay to use them.




CHAPTER NINE




http://www.ideal808.com/images/csoc_en027.jpg



Now, I never came right out and asked Gears about him and Mistle. I mean, it was his business, and I had no right to pry. But I learned a few things here and there.

From what I found out, Gears and Mistle met about six years ago when a night hag tried to burn her greenhouse down. Night hags are incredibly ugly creatures, and they despise all forms of beauty – they hate most plant life, and they hate nymphs even worse. Some say that it’s due to sheer jealousy, but there may be a deeper reason. Anyway, Gears saved the day, and I suppose that was when the mutual affection started. Although Gears repeatedly denied that she was a girlfriend, there was a great deal of chemistry between the two.

I don’t know why Gears had not yet tried to take it to the next level. Maybe he was, like many men, afraid of commitment. I’d say that he was luckier than most men. Mistle was a nymph, after all, an embodiment of beauty, and like most nymphs, she didn’t flaunt it, and never used it for personal gain. Any nymph could likely make a fortune as a model or any other professional who profited from her looks, but none ever did. Such things were simply not done. A man who was loved by a nymph had her all to himself.

So what DaPen did next probably hurt Gears more than anything that was yet to come…



Gears walked out to his bike, slowly. He had an uneasy feeling.

He’d been a Shadowchaser for almost a decade, and seen many strange things. He could tell when there was a bad feeling in the air.

As he reached for his helmet, his cell phone rang. He answered it.

“Gears?” said Mistle’s voice. “You haven’t left yet, have you?”

“No,” replied Gears. “Is there a problem?”

“I need to see you again,” replied Mistle, in an odd tone. “I found something that you were looking for… Come quick…”

Gears frowned as she hung up. He didn’t like this…

He hit a command on the console of his D-Wheel.

“Disengaging Duel Disk,” said the computerized voice.

The Disk separated, and clamped to his gauntlet.

Thunder rolled in the distance. A few drops of rain started to fall. Gears frowned. He didn’t even bring a raincoat.

He slowly walked back towards the greenhouse, and saw that the lights had been turned off.

Funny, he thought, opening the door.

He walked in, past the Unseen Servants who were still watering the plants and trimming dead leaves. The rain started to fall harder, falling against the glass walls of the greenhouse.

“Mistle?” he called.

“Behind you, lover,” said a voice that sounded like Mistle’s, but far more sinister.

Gears spun around, and saw Mistle standing there with an evil grin on her face. Her eyes were different – cold and inhuman. Thunder rumbled again.

“So nice of you to come back, lover,” she said, in that same, sinister voice.

She lifted a Duel Disk of her own.

“In regards to paranatural, I did find out something… People with such powers can be quite strong… Stronger than anyone we know…”

“Mistle!” shouted Gears. “You’re being controlled! Snap out of it!”

“Oh, I’ve never felt better!” said Mistle.

Her facial features twisted into an evil smile.

“So, what say we shuffle and then throw down? Unless you want everyone to know that you couldn’t beat your girlfriend?”

Her Disk activated.

“DaPen is doing this, right?” asked Gears.

“That’s for me to know, and you to find out,” said Mistle.

What do I do? thought Gears. Someone is clearly pulling her strings… And if I just leave, I’ll leave her at this ‘someone’s’ mercy…

He activated his own Disk.

I’ll… I’ll try to end this quick… After all, how hard can it be?



(Gears: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Mistle: 8,000)


“Ladies first,” said Mistle, drawing a card.

“I’ll have this defend me,” she said, as a facedown Monster appeared. “Then I’ll set a reversed card, for later.”

A facedown card appeared.

“And it’s your move, lover…”

She looked at Gears with a come-hither look that Gears did not like. Gears drew a card.

“All right…” he said. “If that’s how it’s gonna go down…

“I summon Ally of Justice Garadholg.”

In a dark aura, Garadholg appeared, ready to pounce. (1,600 ATK)

“Attack her Monster!” he shouted.

Garadholg growled, and then pounced. A large seed with a face, and a small sprout on the top appeared on the card, and was shredded to pieces.

“You just destroyed my Seed Pod,” said Mistle with a chuckle.

She took her deck from the holder.

“And when that happens, I get to Special Summon a Plant-Type Monster from my deck, so long as it’s Level 4 or less. So… I summon Floral Knight Lily!”

In a burst of green energy, a young woman appeared in front of her, dressed in green armor that seemed to have a floral pattern. She had long, brunette hair, and carried a longbow made of mahogany. (1,800 ATK)

Gears sighed, and took a card from his hand.

“I’ll throw a card of my own facedown,” he said, as a reversed card appeared, “and I end my turn…”

Her Monster’s Attack Score is 1,800, he thought, and mine is only 1,600…

But, if I trigger my DNA Transplant right when she attacks, and turn every Monster on the field to Light-Attribute, Garadholg’s effect will activate, and the battle will be a draw. I might be able to gain the advantage…

“My draw…” chuckled Mistle, drawing a card.

She looked at it and added it to her hand.

“I set a new reversed card,” she said, as another facedown card appeared.

“Then I attack with Lily!”

Lily fitted an arrow into her bow, and drew back the string…

“I activate my Trap!” shouted Gears.

“Actually, you don’t,” replied Mistle.

“Huh?” asked Gears.

“Trap Cards can’t be activated in response to Lily’s attack,” said Mistle, “as you’re about to find out the hard way…”

Lily’s arrow fired, and it impaled Garadholg. Gears shielded himself as his Monster was blown to scrap.

“Heh, heh…” chuckled Mistle. “Your move…”



(G: 7,800) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 8,000)


“Mistle, please,” said Gears. “This isn’t like you… You can beat this… Look at me. Don’t you know who I am?”

“You’re my opponent,” replied Mistle, “and I’ve been told to crush you. Now, are you gonna make a move, or are you going to leave yourself wide open to Lily?”

Gears sighed, and drew a card.

“I activate my own Trap Card!” shouted Mistle. “Dust Tornado!”

Her facedown card lifted, and a tornado tore across the field. Gears’ DNA Transplant card was blown to pieces.

Gears frowned. He looked at the card he had just drawn.

I can use this one… he thought.

“I summon Mechanicalchaser!” he exclaimed.

He played the card, and a new robot appeared, levitating in the air. It was roughly spherical in shape, with a skull-like face in front, with several spindly limbs, each one ending in a sharp blade. (1,850 ATK)

“Attack her Floral Knight!” he shouted.

Mechanicalchaser’s blades started to spin like a large weed whacker, and it flew at Lily. Lily screamed as the blades cut into her, and she shattered into bits.

“I activate… Floral Arrangement!” exclaimed Mistle, as her other facedown card lifted. “Since one of my Plants was destroyed, I get to Special Summon as many of them from my hand as I want, so long as I pay 100 Life Points times their Levels.

“So, I pay 400 Life Points to bring out Floral Knight Tulip.”

In another verdant burst, another armored figure appeared. It was a teenage girl with white hair, wearing pink armor of floral design, and a pink helmet. She had a pouch on her hip, and a sword of the same floral design. (1,600 ATK)

“I end my turn…” muttered Gears.



(G: 7,800) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 7,550)


Mistle grinned as she drew a card.

“I activate Tulip’s effect,” she said. “During my Standby Phase, she sows a seed, and I get a Seed Token.”

Tulip reached into her bag, and dropped a seed on the ground. (0 DEF)

“Now, I sacrifice my Token…”

The Seed Token vanished.

“…to summon Floral Knight Petunia!”

Another feminine figure in armor appeared. This one was an older woman with blonde hair, purple floral armor, and a sword in each hand. (2,300 ATK)

“Petunia, attack his Mechanicalchaser!” she shouted.

Petunia flew at the Machine hunter, and made a swipe with her left blade, cleaving it cleanly in half. The two pieces shattered.

“Of course, no damage calculation is done when Petunia attacks a Monster in Attack Mode. That means you take no damage right now… But it also means that Petunia can defeat anything in Attack Mode, so long as she attacks first.

“Tulip, give Gears a kiss for me… Direct attack!”

Tulip leapt into the air, and slashed at Gears with her sword. Gears clutched his side, and fell down.

Mistle laughed again.

“Make your move, lover…” she said, now in an even more sinister voice.



(G: 6,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 7,550)


Gears slowly got up. He drew a card.

“You think I didn’t know what your pathetic Allies of Justice could do?” asked Mistle. “I watched you duel so many times… I know all of your moves.”

This isn’t fair… thought Gears. I’ve never seen her duel… I’ve never even heard of these… Floral Knights. I really don’t know what to do…

He looked at the Equip Spell he had just drawn.

But this should help…

“I summon Robotic Knight!” he exclaimed.

In a burst of energy, the android soldier appeared. (1,600 ATK)

“Petunia is stronger than that hunk of tin,” replied Mistle.

“Not if I help it,” replied Gears. “I toss two cards facedown…”

Two facedown cards appeared.

“Then, I play the Equip Spell, Mage Power! This gives Robotic Knight 500 more Attack Points for each Spell and Trap I have. That’s an extra 1,500.”

Robotic Knight glowed with eldritch energy… (3,100 ATK)

“Attack Petunia!” he shouted. “Gatling blast!”

Robotic Knight pointed with its left arm, and fired a round of bullets with the speed of a machine gun. Petunia screamed, and exploded into shards.

“Ergh…” muttered Mistle.



(G: 6,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 6,750)


“I end my turn…” said Gears.

Mistle frowned, and made a draw.

“Your toy soldier is about to be disarmed,” she said, holding a card up. “I play Heavy Storm!”

A fierce wind started to tear through the greenhouse. The Mage Power card shattered, and so did the facedown Half or Stop and Rare Metalmorph. Robotic Knight fell back down to an Attack Score of 1,600.

“Ain’t it a shame,” replied Mistle, taking a card from her hand. “I summon Floral Knight Sunflower!”

She played another card, and yet another Floral Knight appeared. Unlike the previous ones, this one was male, although he looked very effeminate, with armor resembling a dress. He had shaggy, blonde hair, and odd symbols painted on his dark face. He carried a nasty-looking weapon – a large, circular blade that he held with both hands. (2,000 ATK)

“Ho boy…” said Gears.

“Get ‘im,” said Mistle.

Sunflower rushed at Robotic Knight, and with one slash, cut it in two.

“Don’t feel too bad,” said Mistle. “Whenever Sunflower attacks, you gain 500 Life Points afterwards.”

Sunflower blew a small cloud of pollen on Gears, and he winced as he started to glow with energy.

“But I still have Tulip!” continued Mistle.

Tulip leapt at Gears, and slashed at him with her blade again. Gears held his chest.



(G: 4,700) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 6,750)


“Kind of powerful for a bunch of pretty flowers,” asked Mistle, “wouldn’t you say, Maurice?”

Gears glared at Mistle, and looked her in the eyes. The cold, cruel eyes that had replaced Mistle’s soft, gentle ones.

He quickly drew the top card off of his deck.

“I don’t know who you are, demon,” he snarled, “but now I know that you’re controlling Mistle! There’s no way she’d ever call me that! Even in our worst arguments, she never called me by my real name…

“I play the Spell Card, Silent Doom! Now, I get to bring Robotic Knight back from the Graveyard in Defense Mode!”

Robotic Knight appeared again, kneeling and shielding itself. (1,800 DEF)

“And now…” he said, taking the last card in his hand, “I sacrifice it…”

Robotic Knight vanished.

“…to summon Ally of Justice Claíomh Solais!”

In a blast of dark energy, the robotic condor appeared, hovering over Gears’s side of the field. (2,300 ATK)

“Mistle!” shouted Gears. “I know you’re in there somewhere, and I’m going to drive this demon out if it kills me!

“Attack Floral Knight Tulip!”

Claíomh Solais breathed a blast of dark flames from its beak. Tulip groaned, and then burst into pixilated remains.



(G: 4,700) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 6,050)


Mistle chuckled evilly.

“Want to play rough, do you?” she asked. “I didn’t know you were into that sort of thing…”

She drew a card.

“I set one Monster, and then move Sunflower to Defense Mode.”

A set Monster appeared. Then Sunflower knelt, holding his large blade in front of him. (1,200 DEF)

“And I end my turn…”

Okay, deck, thought Gears, looking at his deck. All I have right now is Claíomh Solais… You gotta give me a good card here…

He made a draw. He looked at it.

Machine Duplication.

CRUD! I was hoping for something better than THAT!

“Claíomh Solais, attack Sunflower!” he shouted.

Claíomh Solais spewed flames again, and Sunflower was burned to ashes.

“That’s all I can do…” he muttered.

“Got a bad draw?” asked Mistle, drawing a card. “And I thought you Shadowchasers prided yourselves on your drawing skills…”

She looked at the card, and the other two in her hand.

“Tell you what, I’m going to pass this turn… Maybe you’ll be luckier now…”

Gears snarled, and made a draw.

Well, that isn’t a Monster, he thought, but it is something…

“I set this facedown,” he said, placing it in his Disk.

“Then I attack with Claíomh Solais!”

Claíomh Solais breathed its flame again, and Mystic Tomato appeared on the card, right before it was blown to paste.

“I activate Mystic Tomato’s effect!” laughed Mistle, taking her deck from its holder again. “Someone who likes Dark Monsters as much as you certainly won’t need me to explain it…

“I Special Summon Regenerating Rose!”

In a burst of shadowy energy, a small creature appeared, that looked like a rose with a thick, thorny stem, and four thorny branches that suggested arms. (0 ATK)

“I have to end my turn…” muttered Gears.

Mistle grinned again, as she drew a card.

Regenerating Rose shielded itself with its branches. (1,500 DEF) Then a defensive Monster appeared next to it.

“Go ahead, Gears,” said Mistle.

All right, let’s go! thought Gears, looking at his deck.

He drew a card.

That’ll do!

“I summon Nanobreaker!” he exclaimed.

In a flash of light, a coldly beautiful woman with long, dark hair, dressed in cybernetic armor, holding a sword with a wavy blade appeared next to Claíomh Solais. (1,600 ATK)

“Claíomh Solais, destroy the facedown Monster first!” he ordered.

Claíomh Solais breathed its flame again. An incredibly ugly creature that seemed to be made out of algae appeared on the card, and exploded into flaming pieces.

“You just destroyed my Lord Poison!” laughed Mistle. “And when it loses a battle, I get to Special Summon any Plant from the Graveyard. Except for Lord Poison itself.

“You remember Tulip, right?”

Floral Knight Tulip appeared again, kneeling and shielding herself in Defense Mode. (1,800 DEF)

Gears frowned.

“Nanobreaker, destroy her Rose!” he shouted. “Nano-blade!”

Nanobreaker flew at the blossom, and beheaded it with one stroke. The remains shattered.

“Thank you!” laughed Mistle. “When Regenerating Rose is destroyed, I get a bonus… Two Regenerating Rose Tokens!”

Two roses sprouted out of the ground in front of her. (1,200 DEF x2)

“Don’t you see, Gears?” she said. “Attack my Monsters all you like… My plants will grow back, growing stronger and fuller, until your Allies of Justice are overgrown and broken.

“Technology comes and goes, and while it may cut down the shrubs and flowers that stand in their way, nature grows back, long after Machines are rusted and falling apart.”

“Most Machines,” replied Gears. “The Allies of Justice were built in divine forges to repel a deadly threat from beyond the stars, and the beings who built them, built them to last!”

Mistle chuckled again.

“Then I’ll make sure they last longer than you do!” she cackled. “I draw!”

She drew a card.

“I sacrifice my two Tokens…” she exclaimed.

Both Rose Tokens vanished.

“…to summon Floral Knight Rose!”

In an explosion of verdant energy, a new Floral Knight appeared. It was a woman with long black hair, brown eyes, dressed in crimson floral armor, carrying both a sword and a shield. (2,500 ATK)

“Attack Nanobreaker!” commanded Mistle.

Floral Knight Rose charged at Nanobreaker, and with one swipe of her sword, cleaved her in twain.

“Activate… Defense Draw!” shouted Gears, as his facedown card shot up. “Now, the damage from your attack is reduced to zero, and I get to draw one card!”

He made a draw. He looked at it.

“Then it’s your move…” chuckled Mistle.

Gears made another draw, and added it to his hand.

Claíomh Solais is clearly her next target… he thought, but I have to get rid of Tulip before she manages to summon something worse…

“Claíomh Solais, attack Floral Knight Tulip!” he ordered.

Claíomh Solais screeched. It turned its weapon towards Tulip.

“Nice try, lover!” laughed Mistle, “but you didn’t take Rose into account. Whenever you make an attack against one of my Floral Knights, Rose draws the attack to her!”

Claíomh Solais breathed its flame at Tulip, but Rose stepped in front of her, and swatted the blast aside. The flames fell back on Claíomh Solais, and it screeched again before it exploded.

“Ergh…” muttered Gears.



(G: 4,500) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 6,050)


He took two cards from his hand.

“I’ll set a Monster, and one facedown card,” he said.

A set Monster and a reversed card appeared.

“…and I end my turn.”

Mistle quickly drew a card.

“I activate my Trap!” exclaimed Gears.

His facedown card lifted up.

“Soul Resurrection. This lets me bring a Normal Monster back from the Graveyard in Defense Mode.”

Robotic Knight appeared again, crouching and shielding himself. (1,800 DEF)

“HIM again?” laughed Mistle. “Well, he’s a lightweight compared to who I’m bringing out next…

“I use Tulip’s effect to get a Seed Token…”

Tulip took a seed out of her pouch, and dropped it on the ground. (0 DEF)

“…then, I sacrifice Tulip and my Token…”

Tulip and the Seed Token vanished into light particles.

“…to summon the Templar Knight of the Floral Knights! I summon… Floral Knight Chrysanthemum!”

Lightning flashed, and a tall, intimidating figure appeared on Mistle’s side of the field. This Knight was definitely male, handsome with long, white hair. Like the others, he wore armor with a floral design, and it was pure white. He carried a long, gleaming Zweihänder in both hands. (2,500 ATK)

“Destroy that rust-bucket!” shouted Mistle.

Chrysanthemum leapt at Robotic Knight, and cleaved it right down the middle with his blade. The android sparked violently, and then exploded.

“And Chrysanthemum has a powerful effect,” continued Mistle. “Whenever he destroys a Monster, my other Floral Knights get to attack directly, so long as I cut their Attack Scores in half.”

Rose lifted her blade, and leapt at Gears. Her Attack Score fell to 1,250…

Gears grunted in pain as the sword slashed across his chest.



(G: 3,250) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 6,050)


“Well…” said Mistle. “That’s enough for one turn…

“So then, Gears… I’ve got two strong Monsters on my side of the field, and all you have is one card in your hand and a set Monster… It’s Dekoichi, right?”

Gears looked at her.

“Even if it is,” she said. “I doubt it would get you anything that could beat both my Floral Knights. Why don’t you just put the Disk away, and come up here and give me a little kiss?”

Gears wasn’t going to fall for that. He knew that if he did, whatever happened to Mistle would likely happen to him.

He looked at the one card in his hand, which was Machine Duplication.

He closed his eyes, and reached for his deck…

He grunted, as he drew a card.

He slowly looked at it.

“Heh, heh, heh…” he chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” asked Mistle.

“You are, Mr. Mind Control,” said Gears. “You were exactly right about this facedown Monster…

“And I just drew the perfect card…

“I summon Bokoichi the Freightening Car!”

He threw the card on his Disk, and a large freight car with a fiendish face on the front appeared in front of him. (500 ATK)

“Lucky…” said Mistle. “Ah, well… That only means Dekoichi will let you draw two cards instead of one…”

“Want a bet?” asked Gears, taking the last card in his hand. “I play Machine Duplication! Since Bokoichi only has 500 Attack Points, I get to summon two more of them!”

Two more Freightening Cars appeared. (500 DEF x2)

“But that means…” gasped Mistle.

“It means I’m back in this!” exclaimed Gears. “I Flip-Summon Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive!”



Continued…

Dark Sage
30th January 2009, 03:04 PM
Continued from last post:



His facedown Monster flipped up, and the diabolical steam engine appeared in front of him. (1,400 ATK)

“With three Bokoichis on the field when Dekoichi is flipped, I now get to draw four times!”

He made four draws. He quickly looked at them.

“And I’ll just keep on going!” he continued. “By playing Double Summon! This Spell Card allows me a second Normal Summon this turn.

“So I’ll sacrifice Dekoichi and one Bokoichi…”

Dekoichi and the Bokoichi in Attack Mode vanished into grains of light…

“…to summon the Monarch of Machine Life… The Perfect Machine King!”

In an explosion of flames and energy, a fifteen-foot-tall robot loomed over Gears’s side of the field, crackling with electricity, covered with armored, seamless plating. (2,700 ATK)

“And for each Machine on the field, other than himself, Perfect Machine King gains 500 more Attack Points. I count two others.”

(3,700 ATK)

“ATTACK!” shouted Gears. “Annihilate Floral Knight Rose with mega missile assault!”

Twin hatches on Perfect Machine King’s shoulders opened, and a barrage of missiles blasted at Rose. She screamed and was blown to atoms. Mistle shielded herself from the impact.



(G: 3,250) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 4,850)


“Feel better?” asked Mistle, with a frown.

“A little…” said Gears. “I’ll end by setting this.”

A facedown card appeared behind Perfect Machine King.

Mistle quickly drew a card.

“I move Chrysanthemum to Defense Mode…” she said.

Chrysanthemum knelt, and held his sword in his lap. (2,000 DEF)

“Then, I summon Arcane Archer of the Forest.”

In another burst of verdant energy, a young man with blonde hair, dressed in leather armor, holding a shimmering, silver bow, appeared. (900 ATK)

“I know what you’re thinking,” she said. “You’re thinking, what is she, nuts, summoning a weak Monster in Attack Mode when there’s a giant goliath to deal with?

“Well, you can’t attack my Archer so long as I have at least one Plant on my side of the field. But he can still attack your Bokoichis…”

Arcane Archer drew back his bow, and fired a burning arrow at the Bokoichi on the left. The Freightening Car’s eyes bugged out, and it exploded into shards.

Perfect Machine King fell to an Attack Score of 3,200.

Mistle took another card from her hand, and set it in her Disk. It appeared facedown.

A Trap Card… thought Gears. I have to be careful here…

He drew a card.

“Perfect Machine King,” he said, “attack Chrysanthemum!”

The huge Machine aimed its missiles again…

Then a mass of thorny vines sprung out of the ground, seizing it and wrapping around its limbs.

“What’s happening?” shouted Gears.

“I just activated my Trap Card!” laughed Mistle. “Thorn Wall! You try to attack one of my Plants when I have this, and it wipes out all of your Monsters in Attack Mode!”

The vines constricted, and Perfect Machine King exploded into slag.

Gears chuckled a little.

“What?” asked Mistle.

“I kind of figured that your facedown card was something like that,” he said. “That’s why I waited to summon this…”

He played a card.

“Machine King Prototype.”

A man-sized, much less advanced version of the previous Machine appeared in front of Gears. (1,600 ATK)

“And it gains 100 more Attack Points for every other Machine on the field,” he continued.

(1,700 ATK)

“I’ll throw this facedown, and end my turn…”

A facedown card appeared next to his other one.

Mistle drew a card.

“I forgot to tell you about my Archer’s other effect,” she said. “He can destroy one of your Spell or Trap Cards if I simply sacrifice a Plant Monster.”

“But the only Plant you have right now is Chrysanthemum,” replied Gears, “and I’m willing to bet that he’s the strongest Monster in that deck. Are you willing to make that sacrifice?”

“Oh, I sure am,” replied Mistle.

She’s nuts! thought Gears.

“I sacrifice Chrysanthemum,” continued Mistle, as the Floral Knight vanished. “Archer, destroy the facedown card on the left!”

Arcane Archer of the Forest drew back his bow, and fired a bolt of energy at the facedown card…

“I chain it!” shouted Gears. “Threatening Roar!”

A loud bellow echoed over the field.

“I see,” said Mistle. “Well, I can still play this…”

A Spell Card appeared on her side of the field.

“Miracle Fertilizer. Since I haven’t Normal Summoned this turn, I can Special Summon a Plant Monster from my Graveyard. Guess who it is…”

Chrysanthemum appeared again, holding his Zweihänder aloft. (2,500 ATK)

“No wonder you were willing to sacrifice him,” said Gears. “Wait… That card is a Continuous Spell…”

“That’s right, Gears,” replied Mistle. “I can continue to use the effect of Miracle Fertilizer, turn after turn, and continue to bring my Floral Knights back from the Graveyard, so long as I don’t make any Normal Summons and none of the Monsters I summon with it leave the field. In a few turns, Chrysanthemum is going to be leading an army against your Machines. Assuming you last that long.

“Make your move…”

Gears drew one card.

He looked at it. It was Pot of Avarice.

It all comes down to this… he thought.

“I activate Pot of Avarice!” he shouted, playing it.

Garadholg, Claíomh Solais, Dekoichi, Nanobreaker, and Robotic Knight fell out of his discard slot. He combined them with his deck, and shuffled. Then he drew twice.

Nice… he thought.

His last facedown card lifted.

“I activate Birthright!” he shouted. “I’ll use it to bring one of my Bokoichis back from the Graveyard.”

Another Bokoichi appeared beside the other one. (500 ATK)

“Next, I summon Ally of Justice Cyclone Creator!”

A windstorm erupted on the field, as the large, brass, robotic bird appeared in front of him. (1,400 ATK)

“Now, I Tune it and Bokoichi together! Go!”

Cyclone Creator and the Freightening Car flew towards the ceiling. The two Machines split into five shimmering stars.

“Synchro Summon… Ally of Justice Catastor!”

Catastor landed on Gears’s side of the field, glowing with shimmering energy. (2,200 ATK)

“I’m not done…” continued Gears, taking the last card in his hand. “I play… Monster Reborn! Now, I can bring back Perfect Machine King!”

The glowing ankh appeared on his side of the field, and the huge robot appeared once again. (2,700 ATK)

“Now, let’s add them up!” he continued. “I have a total of four Machines on the field. That means Perfect Machine King gains 1,500 more Attack Points, while Machine King Prototype gains 300.”

Perfect Machine King rose to an Attack Score of 4,200, while Machine King Prototype rose to 1,900.

“And that’s not all,” said Gears. “Since I’m guessing that Floral Knight Chrysanthemum is certainly not a Dark Monster, that means that Catastor can defeat him in battle, even though its Attack Score is lower.

“So it’s time to end this! Catastor, eradicate Floral Knight Chrysanthemum with platinum prism blast!”

Catastor blasted its beam of energy at the Floral Knight, and Chrysanthemum screamed, right before he was vaporized. Then the Miracle Fertilizer card shattered.

“Machine King Prototype, attack her Arcane Archer with plasma blast!”

The Prototype’s eyes glowed. It blasted a beam of energy from them, and Arcane Archer of the Forest exploded in a fiery blast.

“Argh!” cried Mistle, reeling in pain.



(G: 3,250) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 3,850)


“Perfect Machine King…” said Gears.

The hatches on the huge robot’s shoulders opened.

“Gears, stop!” screamed Mistle.

Gears paused. That was Mistle’s normal voice.

He looked at her.

“Please…” she begged.

She held out her hand.

Gears looked at her. He looked in her eyes.

For a brief moment, he saw the eyes he was familiar with, the soft, gentle ones that truly belonged to Mistle…

Then, a flash of lightning illuminated the room, and he saw those cold, inhuman eyes once again.

His own eyes narrowed…

“You almost fooled me…” he growled.

“Attack directly!”

Perfect Machine King blasted its rockets, and the thing with Mistle’s face laughed evilly as they honed in on her, striking her, and finally causing her to collapse.



(G: 3,250) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 0)


Gears breathed a sigh of relief.

He walked up to Mistle, who was out cold.

He bent down, and felt her pulse. Fortunately, it was strong.

He noticed the card she had dropped, the last card she had in her hand.

Lightning Vortex! he thought. She didn’t use it on her last turn because it would have meant tossing her Miracle Fertilizer…

If her ruse had worked, she would have wiped out my whole side on her next turn…

When I catch whoever did this to her, he’s gonna be very, very sorry…

“Hang in, there, Mistle,” he said, as he hit a number on his cell phone. “I’m calling for help…

“Shichiro? It’s me… You’d better come with the station wagon… And tell Jinx to ready the infirmary.

“Yeah, it’s kinda an emergency… Come quick… I’ll explain on the way…”



* * * * * * * * * *


The rain continued to pour, and not even the luxury of the Tops could shield its residents from the downpour. Somewhere behind the clouds, the sun must have gone down, because night started to creep over the city.

The infirmary of the townhouse was rather small. It only had one bed, as the residents didn’t expect to treat more than one injured member of their own at once. Usually when a Shadow was injured, a normal hospital would suffice. Not even a doctor could see through the veil unless he was Aware, and if a Shadow needed special help that human medicine couldn’t provide, the Shadowchasers were allied with several doctors who were indeed Aware.

But right now, Mistle was clearly a special case.

Gears was beside himself with worry as Jinx mopped Mistle’s brow. She was lying on the infirmary’s bed, securely strapped down.

Shichiro checked a readout on a screen.

“Her blood pressure is fine,” he said. “In fact, it’s better than mine.”

“Very funny!” shouted Gears, angrily. “Do we HAVE to restrain her?”

“Gears, we know you’re upset,” replied Shichiro. “But she attacked you… She’s dangerous.

“And if DaPen is truly controlling her, do you realize the risk we’re taking by even letting her into the townhouse?”

“A risk that must be taken if there is any hope of saving her,” said Jalal’s voice, as he appeared in holographic form.

“Can she be cured, boss?” asked Gears.

“There’s no sign in her system of demonic possession,” replied Jalal, “or spiritual malevolence, or enchantment magic.”

“So what does that leave us with?” asked Jinx.

“Psionic enslavement,” replied Jalal. “Clearly, our hunch about paranatural beings was correct. We’re opposing someone with mental powers who can not only read minds, but control them. This is similar to how Marik enslaved humans using the Millennium Rod, only it is using psychic abilities rather than sorcery.”

“Man…” muttered Shichiro. “If the Arcadia Movement ever found someone this powerful, they’d likely be running the city…”

“The Arcadia Movement?” said a voice they hadn’t heard before. “Pardon me for being blunt, but I’ve seen circus carnies with better mental abilities.”

They all turned to Mistle. Her eyes had opened, and were cold and inhuman again.

“Louis DaPen, I presume?” asked Shichiro, angrily.

“So pleased to make your acquaintance,” replied DaPen, through Mistle’s mouth. “Nice townhouse you have… Could use a few things… Maybe some new wallpaper. I know someone who’s in the interior decorating business. I’d give you his card, if I were here in person.”

“I demand that you release Mistle!” ordered Jalal.

“And what will you do if I don’t?” asked DaPen. “My true body is in Satellite, in a heavily fortified compound, protected by psionic wards, and dozens of armed guards. And by the way, in regards to those guards, I didn’t do to them what I did to Mistle. They work for me entirely by free will.

“It is incredibly easy recruiting henchmen from the residents of Satellite. I mean, almost none of them when would prefer to work as slave labor in the recycling plants when I offer them far better food, medicine, and clothing than Godwin ever does.”

“So what are you planning to do?” asked Jinx. “Form the population of Satellite into an army to overthrow Godwin?”

DaPen chuckled.

“If I am,” he replied, “that would certainly be a long-term plan.”

“Listen, DaPen,” said Gears, “Mistle is worthless to you as a slave now. She’s strapped down to that bed, and she isn’t nearly strong enough to break free. And I’m pretty sure that controlling her is costing you energy that you’d rather be using elsewhere.”

“Hmm… A valid point,” replied DaPen. “But I still could benefit from her in other ways… After all, you folks owe me, I would think. Security impounded Scully’s D-Wheel when they arrested him. Those things aren’t cheap, you know. Not to mention all the money I spent on those expensive chemicals and medical supplies in Fogg’s office.”

“You seem more concerned over the loss of money than the loss of henchmen,” replied Shichiro.

“Henchmen are easily replaced, as I’ve already noted,” said DaPen. “Things like D-Wheels are harder.

“Still, I’m not heartless… Since you Shadowchasers handle everything by dueling, I’ll wager Mistle in a duel…

“Against you, Mr. Osaka.”

“Just tell me when and where!” answered Shichiro.

“Midnight,” replied DaPen. “At the Pandemonium Arena. Bring your D-Wheel. My representative will be waiting.

“And one more thing, Mr. Osaka… If you want me to ante up the mind of this nymph, you’re going to have to wager your own…”

Then Mistle fell unconscious again.

Shichiro reached for his coat.

“The Pandemonium Arena,” said Jinx. “I heard about that place… It was one of Godwin’s… Business failures.”

“What do you mean?” asked Gears.

“Some architect who worked for him figured that fans would pay more to see Turbo Duels where the arena was rigged with hazards,” replied Jinx, “making the track harder to circumnavigate. So Pandemonium was built, a Turbo Duel track full of dangerous booby traps.

“But soon after opening, something went terribly wrong. The hazards were too dangerous. A duelist crashed because of one, and he lost a leg because of it.

“An editorial in the Daily Duel called it ‘the biggest mistake in dueling since the Monster Con Invitational’…”

“What was that?” asked Ember.

“Oh, I remember that,” said Gears. “It was a charity event that a club called the White Blades held five years ago. Eight winners of major tournaments were invited to compete in a tournament where a special house rule was in play – their decks could contain only Monsters.”

“That… sounds interesting…” said Ember.

“Yeah,” said Gears. “Interesting until every one of them decided to use Monarchs. With eight contestants using the same basic strategy, the tournament became as interesting as watching paint dry.”

“Anyway,” said Jinx, “getting back to the main topic… Godwin ended up paying a great deal of money in compensation, and after that, no duelist would go near Pandemonium.

“He closed the place down, intending to renovate it into a safer arena, but work hasn’t started yet.”

“Shichiro, be on your guard,” said Jalal. “Most likely, DaPen has stacked the odds in his favor for this duel, if he intends to play fair at all.”

“Don’t worry,” said Gears. “All it will take is a little hacking, and we’ll be able to keep tabs on the duel from here.”

“But the hard part falls on me…” said Shichiro.

He put his hand on Mistle’s forehead.

“Rest easy, Mistle,” he said.


If you want to know exactly what I was doing during this whole conversation, I was just making myself scarce, sitting in a corner and listening. I didn’t feel it was my place to voice my opinion. But if I had made it, I would have said that I thought this was a fool’s gambit. DaPen was likely leading Shichiro into a trap, and a duel that he had total control over. And I also realized that even if Shichiro won, there was no guarantee that DaPen would keep his word.

Shichiro likely realized it too, but he knew that it was likely the only way they could possibly save Mistle from the grim hold that DaPen had on her. As the rain continued to pour down on Neo Domino as midnight approached, Shichiro felt only one thing: determination…



SEED POD (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Plant/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 2
ATK: 500
DEF: 500

Card Description: When this card is destroyed as a result of battle, Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Plant-Type Monster from your hand or deck.



FLORAL KNIGHT LILY (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Plant/Effect
Attribute: Water
Level: 4
ATK: 1,800
DEF: 1,700

Card Description: Trap Cards cannot be activated in response to this card’s attack.



FLORAL KNIGHT TULIP (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Plant/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 4
ATK: 1,600
DEF: 1,800

Card Description: During your Standby Phase that this card is face-up on your side of the field, you may Special Summon 1 “Seed Token” (Plant/Earth/Level 1/ATK 0/DEF 0) in Defense Position. “Seed Tokens” cannot be used as a Tribute except for a Tribute Summon of a Plant-Type Monster.



FLORAL KNIGHT PETUNIA (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Plant/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 6
ATK: 2,300
DEF: 1,200

Card Description: When this card attacks a Monster in Attack Position, destroy that Monster without applying damage calculation. When this card is attacked while in Defense Position, it is destroyed without applying damage calculation.



FLORAL KNIGHT SUNFLOWER (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Plant/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 4
ATK: 2,000
DEF: 1,200

Card Description: When this card attacks, after damage calculation, increase your opponent’s Life Points by 500.



FLORAL KNIGHT ROSE (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Plant/Effect
Attribute: Light
Level: 7
ATK: 2,500
DEF: 1,700

Card Description: If a “Floral Knight” Monster you control is selected as an attack target when this card is face up on your side of the field, you may switch the target to this card.



FLORAL KNIGHT CHRYSANTHEMUM (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Plant/Effect
Attribute: Light
Level: 8
ATK: 2,500
DEF: 2,000

Card Description: When this card destroys a Monster as a result of battle, all other “Floral Knight” Monsters you control may attack directly for the remainder of the Battle Phase with their Attack Scores halved.



FLORAL ARRANGEMENT (Spell Card)

Quickplay Spell

Image: An extravagant bouquet of exotic flowers.

Card Description: You may activate this card when a Plant-Type Monster you control is destroyed as a result of battle. Special Summon any number of Plant-Type Monsters from your hand. Pay Life Points equal to 100 x the combined Levels of the Special Summoned Monsters.

Note: The proceeding eight cards were created by Mystic Clown for his fanfic “Yu-Gi-Oh! The Six Avatars”. Creative credit goes to him.



Coming up next:

In the condemned, but still working arena, Shichiro is forced into a dangerous Turbo Duel against the dark elf Kor’mal, with poor Mistle on the line. And Kor’mal is not going to give him an easy time, using a deck that he believes can destroy the strategy of any duelist who depends on Synchro Monsters, while preserving his own power. Can Shichiro possibly defeat this powerful lock? “Flame Dancer” is coming up next.

Shuppet Master
30th January 2009, 07:04 PM
Wow, that's pure evil. I like this chapter, Brian! And you used the Floral Knights. Great.

Mystic_clown
30th January 2009, 11:51 PM
*eyes twitches* Blademaster? Shuppet, you DID read the chapter right? *shakes head*

The only real gripe I have with this chapter is that it seemed to jump into the duel rather quickly. I mean, Gear couldn't have parked THAT far from the greenhouse could he? But apart from that, I liked it.

You seem to be borrowing a fair bit from DnD again for this fic, a trend I've niced you followed for some of your other fics as well. Not that there's anything wrong with DnD, it just seems like your creativity is running low if you have to keep borrowing heavily from it.

Shuppet Master
31st January 2009, 08:22 AM
Nixed that part of the post. Sorry, Mystic, I didn't mean to make a mistake like that! it's been a while since I read your fanfic. That might be a bit of a hint to update! :lol:

Dark Sage
3rd February 2009, 08:32 AM
CHAPTER TEN




http://www.ideal808.com/images/lon-058.jpg



Pandemonium…

Any duelist would recognize the name. It’s the Field Spell that you need to safely use Archfiend Monsters. Of course, when you thought about it, the name didn’t fit an arena that was built exclusively for Turbo Duels. That card would never be played within its walls. Even if a duelist in such a duel was willing to take 2,000 points of damage to activate a Spell that wasn’t a Speed Spell, Field Spells would be completely worthless, as there was no way to displace Speed World.

Whoever named the place likely took inspiration from the original source that the word came from, which is what inspired the name of the card. In Milton’s Paradise Lost, it was a city that served as the capitol of Hell. In later years, it also came to mean Hell in general, and when not capitalized, a state of chaos and uproar.

It was a fitting name for the place Shichiro was now driving to, a dueling arena rigged with booby traps that had cost one poor duelist his leg… And we had no idea at the time just how dirty DaPen was planning on fighting…



Shichiro sped through the dark streets, with the rain still coming down. He casually glanced at the digital clock on his dashboard. He’d be there with time to spare.

As the Pandemonium Arena came into view, one would instantly notice the difference between it and other arenas in the city. It was dark, without even street lights nearby, and the entrances were boarded up.

Most of them, that is.

A sign out front said “No Trespassing; Building Under Renovation”. The front door had been boarded up once, but someone had recently torn the boards off.

Shichiro got the idea. Whoever he was supposed to meet was already there.

“Well, at least he won’t keep me waiting,” he muttered.

He shifted gears, and drove his bike up the steps and into the entrance. From there it was a quick ride to the stadium.

The place was dark. He turned his D-Wheel’s headlight to max intensity and looked around. The seats were empty, and the whole place had a dark, hellish theme. It looked like a cross between a race track and the actual Pandemonium Spell Card.

“All right, DaPen!” he shouted. “I’m here! Let’s get this over with!”

Then every light in the place came on at once. Shichiro shielded his eyes.

“Right on time,” said a voice coming from the center. “Afraid DaPen couldn’t make it. You’ll have to settle for me.”

Shichiro looked up, and saw the dark elf, standing beside his own D-Wheel. He casually lit a cigarette.

“That’s a filthy habit,” said Shichiro.

“Oh, c’mon,” replied the Shadow. “Someone like me doesn’t exactly have to worry about stunting his growth.”

That was true enough. Elves of all sorts tended to be slim and almost petite. This one was about five-foot-ten, which was tall for a male.

“Name’s Kor’mal Ka’duren,” he continued. “I imagine you’ve heard of me?”

“You’re right,” said Shichiro.

“So you’ve heard of me?” asked Kor’mal.

“No, you’re imagining it,” replied Shichiro. “Who are you, some sort of assassin?”

“Well, let me put it this way,” replied Kor’mal. “Ever hear of Glass-Eyed Eddie?”

“No,” replied Shichiro.

Kor’mal looked at him funny.

“How about Sid the Snail?” he asked.

“No,” replied Shichiro.

Kor’mal shrugged.

“Well, I guess it’s for the better…” he said. “I have to keep a low profile, after all…”

“Listen, you glorified house-husband,” growled Shichiro, “I just want to duel you, and get this done with…”

Kor’mal glared at Shichiro. A look of pure rage appeared in his eyes. He took the cigarette in his fist and clenched it, crushing it into dust.

Shichiro had hit the right pressure point. Calling a male dark elf a “glorified house-husband” would hurt him a lot. Dark elf clans were always strictly matriarchal, and males had almost no say in their governing. A male dark elf’s status always depended on how high-ranking his mate was, but no matter how high the rank he had, it was never more than a symbolic one. The only way a male dark elf could ever truly become anything more than a servant was to leave his clan. And that wasn’t a very good idea, because very few Shadows were safe outside of their clans.

Then he closed his eyes.

“Fine…” he said. “We’ll duel…

“And I’ll take you through Hell before it’s over…”



* * * * * * * * * *


In the infirmary of the townhouse, both Gears and Jinx had set up two laptop computers. (They weren’t going to leave Mistle, in case DaPen decided to communicate through her again.) With Ember watching, Jinx viewed what was happening with Shichiro, as Gears looked something else up.

“Think Shichiro can beat this guy?” asked Ember.

“Oh, please,” replied Jinx. “Shichiro has taken down dark elf priestesses. This guy is likely nothing more than some exile and gun-for-hire.”

“Well, if what he said is true, he’s a good one,” said Gears.

“Huh?” said Jinx.

“I looked up those two names he mentioned,” replied Gears. “Glass-Eyed Eddie and Sid the Snail. Those were pseudonyms for Edward Coppleman and Sidney Lorenge. They were two mob bosses who had considerable power a few years ago, but were murdered via the order of a rival gang. According to this, the assassin dueled both of them before killing them, using special equipment.”

“So this guy is a gangland assassin?” asked Ember.

“A gangland dueling assassin,” replied Gears.

“If this guy handled ‘hits’ that big, he must be at least somewhat dangerous…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Shichiro and Kor’mal faced each other at the starting point.

The card flashed into existence on both dashboards, transforming the Pandemonium Arena into the shimmering realm of Speed World.

“Duel Mode; autopilot stand by,” said the computerized voice of Shichiro’s D-Wheel.

“Oh, one more thing…” said Kor’mal. “DaPen was able to turn the ‘special’ features of this arena back on. Just so you know…”

“Terrific…” muttered Shichiro, sarcastically.

The two D-Wheels sped off from the starting point.



(Shichiro: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Kor’mal: 8,000)


Sooner I get this over with, the better, thought Shichiro, drawing a card. Hang on, Mistle…

“I summon Axe Raider!” he shouted.

A shimmering portal opened in Speed World, and Axe Raider leapt out, holding his weapon aloft. (1,700 ATK)

“That will do for now…”

Kor’mal drew a card, and both Speed Counters clicked up to one.

Under his helmet, the dark elf smiled slightly when he saw what the card was. He quickly chose another.

“Not bad,” he said, “but I have a better one… I summon Berserk Gorilla!”

Another portal opened, and another man-sized form flew out, a very angry gorilla with dark red fur. It beat its chest and roared with rage. (2,000 ATK)

“Attack! Flatten his Warrior!”

Berserk Gorilla bellowed like, well, an ape, and flew at Axe Raider, smashing its fist into him. The Warrior was blown to shards.



(S: 7,700) - - - - - - - - - - (K: 8,000)


“Know what I don’t get about this guy?” asked Kor’mal. “He’s an Earth Monster, but on the card art, he’s breathing fire.”

“You don’t say?” replied Shichiro.

“Yeah, I kinda feel cheated…” said Kor’mal.

He hit a button on the side of his dashboard.

“So let’s start some fires some other way, eh?”

Before Shichiro could question what he meant, two steel nozzles protruded from the wall slightly ahead of him…

He got the idea quickly. He swerved his bike, riding as low as possible, as two flamethrowers shot fire over him from both sides.

“Isn’t that a gas?” asked Kor’mal. “I’ll set two facedown cards, and then you can go…”

Two reversed cards flashed into being before fading from view.



* * * * * * * * * *


Jinx got up with a start.

“That dirty…” she started.

She turned to Gears.

“He’s cheating!” she shouted. “He’s got a set of controls on that D-Wheel that lets him control the booby traps in that arena!”

“I noticed,” said Gears, bringing something up on his screen. “DaPen clearly hacked into the system… Godwin must have let the security for that arena lapse.

“Well, we’ll see about that…”

He opened a case that contained several CD disks.

“DaPen,” he said, typing in something on his screen. “If you think you impress me with this outright attempt at foul play, you are sadly mistaken…

“You’re not the only one who can hack a system…”

He placed the disk in the computer’s CD drive.



* * * * * * * * * *


Shichiro quickly drew a card. Both Speed Counters rose to two.

I gotta crush that ape before it goes bananas, he thought.

“I summon Marauding Captain!” he shouted.

In a flash of energy, the battle-worn Warrior appeared, holding his twin swords aloft, his cape flying in the wind. (1,200 ATK)

“Next, I use his effect to bring out Warrior Lady of the Wasteland in Defense Mode!”

In another flash of energy, Warrior Lady leapt out onto the field. She shielded herself with her arms. (1,200 DEF)

“And that’s all for now…”

Kor’mal chuckled and drew a card. Both Speed Counters rose to three.

“I summon Gene-Warped Warwolf!” he shouted.

In another aura of energy, another bestial Monster appeared. It looked like a humanoid wolf, with silver-white fur, four arms, strange tattoos on its fur, and wearing a leather kilt. (2,000 ATK)

Another Level 4 Monster with 2,000 Attack Points? thought Shichiro. This guy isn’t fooling around…

“Berserk Gorilla,” ordered Kor’mal, “crush his Captain!”

The Gorilla bellowed again, and flew at Marauding Captain, throwing a punch that blew him to pieces.

“Now, my Warwolf attacks as well! Warped rage!”

The Warwolf howled, and made a slash at Warrior Lady, tearing her to shreds.



(S: 6,900) - - - - - - - - - - (K: 8,000)


“I use her effect!” shouted Shichiro. “I Special Summon Millennium Shield!”

In a glowing aura of energy, Millennium Shield appeared in front of Shichiro. (0 ATK)

Kor’mal smirked again.

Perfect, he thought, looking at one of his facedown cards. He’s doing just what I expected…

Boy, is he gonna be surprised…

“My move!” shouted Shichiro.

He drew a card. Both Speed Counters clicked up to four.

“I send Noisy Gnat to the Graveyard,” he continued, “to boost the Level of Millennium Shield from 5 to 6.”

He discarded the card, and the Insect with the blaring boom box appeared behind him. Millennium Shield glowed with a pale light.

“Next, I summon Jutte Fighter!”

He quickly played the card, and Jutte Fighter materialized next to Millennium Shield. (700 ATK)

“Well, what do you know?” asked Kor’mal. “A Tuner! Sorry, pal, but this time, I’m gonna leave you cold…”

One of his facedown cards flipped up.

“Or hot… Depends on your point of view… I activate Flickering Sea Fire!”

“Huh?” said Shichiro. “A Trap Card?”

“A Continuous Trap Card,” said Kor’mal. “A very powerful one. As long as it’s in play, neither player can send Monsters to the Graveyard unless they’re destroyed.”

Shichiro stopped short.

“Seems I just threw a wrench in your machinery,” said Kor’mal. “Big time…”



* * * * * * * * * *


“I… don’t get it…” said Ember.

“I certainly do,” replied Jinx. “Sending Monsters to the Graveyard is required for both Tribute Summoning and Synchro Summoning!

“With that card in play, Shichiro’s usual strategy is shut down. He won’t be able to summon anything more powerful than Level 4 aside from that Shield.”

“But…” said Ember. “That Trap Card affects both duelists, right?”

“Just look at the two Monsters Kor’mal has, Ember!” replied Jinx. “His deck is likely full of the strongest Level 4 Monsters in the game! He doesn’t need to send Monsters to the Graveyard to win, so long as he can prevent his opponent from doing so!”

“Don’t count our boy out yet,” said Gears, who was busy typing. “He took down an F.G.D. once, remember?”

“How could I forget?” asked Jinx. “He reminds us all the time.”

“Well, he can certainly get around some little Trap Card,” said Gears. “Just keep supporting him. And say a good luck prayer for me while you’re at it. Much as I hate to admit it, DaPen is clearly a genius. He must have hacked into Godwin’s own system to insert some sort of program into that arena’s features… I don’t know if I even can shut it down!

“C’mon, Maurice, you idiot… Think! There must be some way into this system…”



* * * * * * * * * *


“So…” said Kor’mal. “I’ve completely cut you off from your Synchros… What are you gonna do now?”

“It’s still my turn, pal!” shouted Shichiro. “You forget, Jutte Fighter is not only a Tuner, he’s an Effect Monster.

“And I’m using his effect… To shift Berserk Gorilla to Defense Mode.”

Jutte Fighter jabbed with his jutte. Berserk Gorilla seethed with rage, and shielded itself with its arms. (1,000 DEF)

“Aw, crud!” shouted Kor’mal. “Berserk Gorilla can’t defend! If it tries to…”

A massive blast and a plume of flame erupted around Kor’mal’s bike as Berserk Gorilla exploded.

“Was that what you were trying to say?” asked Shichiro. “I’ll move Millennium Shield to Defense Mode…”

There was very little change in Millennium Shield’s appearance, but it was now defending. (3,000 DEF)

“…and then I’ll set one card facedown…”

A reversed card flashed into existence in front of him.

“You are gonna go down in flames, buddy,” said Kor’mal, hitting another button on his bike.

Quickly, Shichiro braced himself. A weapon appeared in the ceiling in front of him, and fired a round of rivets like a machine gun at his bike. They bounced off the windshield of the D-Wheel, leaving one crack. If Gears hadn’t used reinforced glass, it would have shattered and flown into his face.

“My move!” shouted Kor’mal, drawing a card.

The two Speed Counters rose to five apiece.

“I summon Vorse Raider!”

In another blast of energy, the savage Beast-Warrior carrying a nasty axe appeared. (1,900 ATK)

“Attack his Jutte Fighter!” he shouted.

Vorse Raider snarled, and flew at the small Warrior.

“I don’t think so!” shouted Shichiro, as his facedown card spun around. “Go, Negate Attack!”

Vorse Raider’s axe slammed against an invisible shield. Kor’mal growled.

He took another card from his hand and set it in his console. A second facedown card flashed into play.

“Your move…” he growled.

Shichiro drew a card, as the two Speed Counters rose to six.

“I activate another Trap Card!” shouted Kor’mal, as the one he had just set lifted.

“Skill Drain?!” gasped Shichiro.

“That’s right!” laughed Kor’mal. “I just have to pay 1,000 Life Points, and this Trap Card nullifies the effects of all Effect Monsters.”

“And I’m guessing that most of your Monsters don’t even have any Effects to lose,” replied Shichiro. “Well, I can still hurt you…

“Since my Speed Counters are at least four, I can play Speed Spell – Dual Vortex!”

The Speed Spell flashed onto the field in front of him.

“This requires us each to trade a Monster. And I’m choosing Jutte Fighter.”

Kor’mal sneered. He hit another button on his console.

Shichiro didn’t have time to react this time. A series of explosions went off under his bike, and he struggled to keep it steady.

He’s still standing… thought Kor’mal. He must have dwarven blood…

“If I must trade,” he said, “I choose Vorse Raider.”

The two Monsters vanished, and then switched places.

“I always wanted to give one of these guys a spin,” said Shichiro. “Vorse Raider, attack Jutte Fighter!”

Vorse Raider flew at the small Tuner. Jutte Fighter simply closed his eyes as it stuck, blasting him to pieces.

Kor’mal groaned, and his bike teetered as his Counters were knocked down one.



(S: 6,900) - - - - - - - - - - (K: 5,800)


“My move!” he shouted.

He drew a card. His own Counters rose to six, while Shichiro’s rose to seven.

“Eh…” he said, looking at his hand.

His facedown card lifted up and spun around.

“I activate Common Charity,” he said. “Now, I get to draw two cards…”

He made two draws.

“…so long as I then remove a Normal Monster in my hand from play…”

He took a Charcoal Inpachi from his hand, and deposited it in a special slot in his console.

“I summon a second Gene-Warped Warwolf!” exclaimed Kor’mal. “Two times the terror!”

In a burst of energy, a twin of the first Warwolf appeared. (2,000 ATK)

“First Warwolf, attack that treacherous Beast-Warrior!”

The Warwolf flew at Vorse Raider, and with one slash, blew it to bits.



(S: 6,800) - - - - - - - - - - (K: 5,800)


“Did you just call that Monster ‘treacherous’?” asked Shichiro. “Wow, talk about the pot calling the kettle black. I’ve heard that treachery and dark elves are two peas in a pod. A dark elf would betray anyone if she’d benefit from it, and almost all of your leaders got their positions by assassinating their predecessors.”

“I know!” shouted Kor’mal. “My old clan leader was the sister of the previous one, but that didn’t stop her from confronting her during a holiday festival and challenging her for leadership via mortal combat. It was the bloodiest spectacle I ever saw!

“We have a crazy system! Why do you think I left?”

“Hey, don’t blow a fuse,” said Shichiro.

“Not a bad idea,” replied Kor’mal.

He hit the button on his console again, and Shichiro braced himself as an electric surge shot through his bike. He screamed.

He panted to catch his breath, and checked the controls. His D-Wheel was still holding together, but he’d have to win this fast…

…somehow.

Kor’mal set a card, and a new facedown card appeared.

“End!” he shouted.

Shichiro quickly made a draw. His Counters clicked up to eight, while his opponent’s went to seven.

He looked at the three cards he had.

“Pass…” he said.

“You think you can hide behind that Shield forever?” shouted Kor’mal.

“Well, how the heck are you gonna get by it?” asked Shichiro. “You’re bound by those two Trap Cards as much as I am, and there’s no Level 4 or lower Monsters that can destroy it without using effects.”

Kor’mal growled as he drew a card, and both Speed Counters rose by one again.

Oh, I’ll show you… he thought, looking at it.

His facedown card lifted.

“I activate Wasteland Tornado!” he shouted. “Now, I can destroy one of my own Spell or Trap Cards.”

A very large tornado, similar to a Dust Tornado, but far bigger, formed on Kor’mal’s side of the field. Skill Drain was blown to pieces.

What is he up to? thought Shichiro.

“Then, I’m discarding these three Monsters…”

He quickly tossed three cards into his discard slot – Mad Dog of Darkness, Mystical Elf, and Gladiator Beast Andal.

“…to summon my ultimate beast!”

An explosion of pure energy blasted from behind his bike.

“I summon Montage Dragon!”

With a hellish roar, a huge, winged Dragon, with a dull grey hide and three vicious heads, rose behind Kor’mal’s bike.

“And guess what, Shichiro? His Attack Score is 300 times the combined Levels of the three Monsters I just tossed… Since all three of them were Level 4, well… You seem to be pretty good at math…”

(3,600 ATK)

“I hate math…” muttered Shichiro.

“Shatter his Shield!” ordered Kor’mal. “Attack with Power Collage!”

Montage Dragon’s three heads roared again, and blasted three bolts of pure energy. The Millennium Shield was blown to bits like it was glass.

“Both of you, direct attack!” he ordered.

Both Gene-Warped Warwolves leapt at Shichiro, and leveled savage punches at the front of his D-Wheel. Shichiro strained, and struggled to hang on. His Speed Counters fell by four, going down to five.



(S: 2,800) - - - - - - - - - - (K: 5,800)


Kor’mal gained speed, and sped ahead of Shichiro.

“Well, you’ve had the appetizer and the main course…” he said. “Guess I’ll serve dessert too…”

He hit the button on his console again…

Then a shock came that he didn’t expect. The flamethrowers emerged like before, but they didn’t aim for Shichiro.

They aimed at him. And they didn’t miss. He screamed as the flames seared at his clothing.



* * * * * * * * * *


Jinx and Ember looked up.

“Gears!” shouted Jinx. “Did you do that?”

“I did my best,” replied Gears. “Godwin’s system is far too secure to hack into. Without being able to do so, I can’t override any programs in that arena, so I can’t shut those traps down…

“But, jamming the signal on Kor’mal’s bike that he was using to control them was much easier. The Pandemonium Arena isn’t going to play favorites from now on.”

“Let’s hope it isn’t too late,” said Ember. “Shichiro is facing the nastiest Monster I ever saw, and he’s not gonna last another round unless he thinks of something…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Kor’mal angrily activated a communication device hidden inside his helmet.

“DaPen!” he whispered. “My controls aren’t working! You have to shut down the system!”

“I’m afraid that would be too risky,” came the reply. “Hacking into Godwin’s system was dangerous enough in the first place. If I do anything new at this point, someone might discover my intrusion, and I might be traced. I simply can’t have that. You’re going to have to make due.”

“Listen to me, you fat bastard…” cursed Kor’mal.

He didn’t get a chance to finish. DaPen hung up on him.

“All right, fine!” he shouted to Shichiro. “Your friend may have evened up the playing field, but you still can’t defeat me! Why don’t you just give up? You’ll never summon a Monster stronger than this with my Trap Card on the field! I end my turn!

“I’ll still beat you…” growled Shichiro.

Dwarf blood nothing, thought Kor’mal. If he had a beard, I’d swear he was a true dwarf. He’s just as stubborn as they are…

Shichiro closed his eyes. He made one draw. His Speed Counters rose up to six.

He looked at it.

Got it! he thought.

“You’re dead wrong, pal,” he said. “Summoning that Dragon was a very, very big mistake. I had a feeling for a while that Flickering Sea Fire had a weakness. And that Dragon confirms that it does.”

“Weakness?” replied Kor’mal.

“Yes, a weakness,” replied Shichiro. “It only prevents me from sending Monsters to the Graveyard from the field.

“But, sending them there from my hand is another story.”

“What?” shouted Kor’mal. “Big deal! You can’t Synchro Summon that way!”

“Whoever said I was Synchro Summoning?” asked Shichiro.

A Spell Card appeared on his side of the field.

“I play Speed Spell – Speed Fusion!”

A Fusion Summon?! thought Kor’mal, as his eyes opened wide.

Shichiro quickly discarded his remaining three cards into his discard slot. Then, all three cards, Queen’s Knight, King’s Knight, and Jack’s Knight appeared in front of him, and started flying around his D-Wheel.

“I fuse together Queen’s Knight, King’s Knight, and Jack’s Knight!” shouted Shichiro, as the cards vanished.

Then a sound like a celestial choir sounded over Speed World, and a gate of pure gold appeared behind him.

“Descend from your lofty heights, Royal Knight of the Higher Plane!” he shouted. “Descend… Arcana Knight Joker!”

Then the gates burst open, and Speed World was flooded with light. A Warrior appeared inside an aura of divine flames; clad in masterwork armor colored royal purple and gold, decorated with hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds, and holding a massive sword. (3,800 ATK)

“Thirty-eight-hundred Attack Points?!” screamed Kor’mal. “Wait! Time out! Hold on!”

“Joker!” commanded Shichiro. “Destroy his Dragon!”

Arcana Knight Joker let out a roar, and leapt at Montage Dragon, holding his blade in both hands. He cleaved right down its center. The Dragon bellowed, and then burst into shards.



(S: 2,800) - - - - - - - - - - (K: 5,600)


“I end my turn…” said Shichiro.

Kor’mal’s hand trembled as he drew a card.

He gasped as he saw what it was. It was his second Flickering Sea Fire. The card that had helped him so many times before, and it was a dead draw now.

“No choice!” he shouted. “I’ll move both my Warwolves to Defense Mode, and hang on!”

Both Warwolves shielded themselves with all four arms. (100 DEF x2)

Shichiro drew a card, as his Speed Counter clicked up a notch, to seven.

“Seems you’re about to discover that Monsters that are high on offense tend to have a weakness,” he said.

“They tend to be lousy on defense. I summon Hayabusa Knight!”

The portal opened again, and another Warrior flew out of it. He was slim, wore shining, decorated plate armor, and held a long rapier. His most distinguishing feature was his head, which was that of a falcon. (1,000 ATK)

“Attack the Warwolf on the left!” ordered Shichiro. “Peregrine saber slash!”

Hayabusa Knight flew at the first Warwolf in a blur, and cut it in half with a slash of his blade.

“And guess what?” continued Shichiro. “Hayabusa Knight gets to attack a second time!”

Hayabusa Knight made another slash, cutting the second Warwolf in twain.

“Now, Joker, attack him directly!”

Joker flew at Kor’mal’s D-Wheel, and Kor’mal screamed as the massive Warrior made a flyby slash with his blade. Kor’mal’s Counter fell three places, to seven.



(S: 2,800) - - - - - - - - - - (K: 1,800)


“Oh, Kor’mal?” said Shichiro. “Heads up…”

“Huh?” said Kor’mal.

Apparently, Pandemonium’s special features had kicked in again, and conjured up a wall of fire this time, right in the path of the two duelists. Shichiro shielded himself as he drove through it, and he had conditioned himself to pain long ago, but his foe hardly had time to do the same. Kor’mal screamed again.

Shichiro’s two Monsters effortlessly flew through the flames, seeing as they were immune to any hazards that the arena could create.

“By the way, buddy,” said Shichiro, once they were finally past it, “it’s your move…”

For a brief instant, Kor’mal considered turning himself in…

Then he decided against it, and drew a card.

Then he grinned evilly, as he saw what it was.

He placed it in his console, and a reversed card appeared.

“That’s all!” he said.

“I draw!” shouted Shichiro.

He looked at the card.

“All right Joker, time to rescue Mistle!” he said. “Finish him off!”

Joker nodded, and lifted his sword. He flew at Kor’mal again.

“Hate to disappoint you,” laughed Kor’mal. “Activate… Magic Cylinder!”

His facedown card lifted.

“Sorry, but it won’t work!” replied Shichiro. “When Joker is targeted by any card at all, I can discard the same type of card to negate it.”

He discarded the card he had just drawn.

“So I’ll toss my Birthright, which is a Trap Card, to negate your Trap Card!”

Kor’mal watched in horror as his Trap was blown to pieces and Joker closed in again.

He screamed one last time, as the huge sword slammed into him…



(S: 2,800) - - - - - - - - - - (K: 0)


Kor’mal’s D-Wheel skidded to a halt, with steam pouring out of its engine. Kor’mal fell limply to the ground.

Shichiro quickly got off of his own bike, and grabbed him by the collar.

“Okay pal,” he said. “Talk! I won the duel, now where’s DaPen!”

Then Kor’mal’s eyes opened, and he laughed. Shichiro recognized those eyes… They were the same cold eyes that he had seen in Mistle.

“Why I’m right here, Mr. Osaka,” he said, in a voice that clearly wasn’t Kor’mal’s.

“DaPen?” asked Shichiro.

“Yes, Mr. Osaka, it is I…” said DaPen. “Kor’mal really should have known better. I really don’t like people who resort to name calling… It’s simply not polite.

“What can I say? He had a sound strategy… But even when you prepare for every contingency, go over everything a hundred times, I guess that no plan is truly foolproof.”

“Listen, DaPen…” growled Shichiro. “I won the duel, so let Mistle go, or I’ll…”

“Eh, very well…” replied DaPen. “Never let it be said that I didn’t keep my word… Your friend was right, after all. She’s useless to me as a slave now anyway…”



* * * * * * * * * *


In the infirmary at the townhouse, Mistle suddenly woke up, and screamed.

“Mistle!” shouted Gears.

He ran over to her, and held her by the shoulders. Mistle screamed again.

“Easy, easy!” said Gears.

He looked in her eyes, and was relieved to see that they were Mistle’s true eyes, her soft, beautiful ones, even thought they were now full of fear.

He hugged her.

“Calm down Mistle…” he said. “It’s all right… He can’t hurt you now…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Shichiro had not relaxed his hold on Kor’mal’s body that DaPen was speaking through, even after Jinx had called him on his cell.

“Thanks Jinx,” he said.

He hung up.

“Why?” he asked DaPen. “Why keep your word when you didn’t have to?”

“To show you I could,” replied DaPen. “To keep you guessing as to the limits of my power. After all, I might have lost tonight, but no big deal. I enjoy a challenge.

“Do you think my climb to the top of the world of organized crime was easy?”

“Well…” said Shichiro.

“I’ll answer you,” continued DaPen. “It was. It was too easy. Outwitting and dominating the other crime bosses was so easy, it was almost laughable. Of course, being a Shadowkind with my unique abilities helped a great deal.

“Some other crime bosses often speak of me and say, ‘It’s as if he can read my mind or something’. They have little idea how close to the truth that statement is.”

“Who are you?” asked Shichiro. “What are you?”

“I’m someone with big plans,” said DaPen. “I’ve grown tired of running rackets and contraband trades, and the other stuff that the mob usually limits itself to. I’ve decided to expand. Take things to a much grander scale.

“Ever see The Untouchables Mr. Osaka? You can consider yourself Eliot Ness, and me Al Capone. Just without Prohibition. And I assure you, before we reach the conclusion, Neo Domino is going to be shaken up… A lot…”

“I got news for you, DaPen,” growled Shichiro, “at the end of that movie, Capone loses.”

“That tends to be the case with most villains in movies, isn’t it?” asked DaPen.

“It was based on Ness’s autobiographical account,” replied Shichiro.

“You are clever,” replied DaPen. “But will that be enough?

“I’ll be seeing you again… But whether you see me or not… That depends on how alert you are…”

Then Kor’mal went slack, his eyes still open.

Shichiro snapped his fingers in front of his face a few times.

No good. DaPen had clearly taken offense at “fat bastard”.

“Lovely…” muttered Shichiro.

Then he noticed something in Kor’mal’s front pocket. A game card.

He took it out and looked at it.

Cloudian – Sheep Cloud.



* * * * * * * * * *


It was now two in the morning.

Ember had volunteered to go home, but Jinx had quickly offered her a bed, saying that the townhouse had room for six members of a team if it ever got that big. After seeing how big and comfortable the room looked, Ember could not resist.

Gears was hugging Mistle tightly and feeding her some hot broth with medicinal herbs in it. Jalal watched, and slowly went over Mistle’s condition with a device that he could use through his projected image.

“Mistle…” he finally said. “I know it has been traumatic for you… But when you saw DaPen, did you happen to see his true form?”

Mistle paused.

“Yes, I…” she said.

Then she stopped short. She shuddered in fear. Sweat poured down her brow.

“Mistle?” asked Gears.

“Easy, Mistle,” said Jalal. “Go to sleep now…”

Mistle reclined, and fell fast asleep.

“Boss, what happened?” asked Gears.

“Mistle saw DaPen’s true form,” said Jalal, “and the image of it exists somewhere in her memory. But trying to access that memory fills her with horror for some reason.”

“So DaPen is that terrifying to look at?” asked Gears.

“Either that,” replied Jalal, “or his species is one of such legendary infamy that the mere mention of them is enough to cause fear in the average Shadow. There are many Shadowkind that fit the profile…

“Beholders… Aboleth… Avolakia…”

“All of them would have a hard time hiding behind the veil,” replied Gears.

“True, but it isn’t impossible,” said Jalal. “Give Mistle time, and perhaps once she gets over this terrible encounter completely, she can identify DaPen’s species for us.

“Until then, DaPen has clearly thrown the gauntlet… We must remain… Ever vigilant…

“You’d best get some sleep as well…”

Gears sighed, and walked out of the infirmary. The first thing he saw was Shichiro, who was waiting in the hall.

“How is she?” he asked.

“Sleeping soundly,” replied Gears. “But we have more problems. I wasn’t able to get into Godwin’s system, but I did learn something when I tried to. The program that did manage to, which hijacked control of the arena, was clearly the work of a shadowjack.”

“Shadowjack…” muttered Shichiro. “I’ve heard Jalal use that term before…”

“Shadowjacks are computer hackers who use supernatural aid to trespass where they shouldn’t over the network,” replied Gears. “They can literally cast spells through a computer in order to bypass firewalls and computer defense systems, getting into them far easier than the average computer hacker.

“Clearly, this is how someone managed to hack into a system as secure as Godwin’s.”

“So DaPen is a shadowjack?” asked Shichiro.

“Well, him or someone who works for him,” replied Gears. “With mental powers like his, he’s certainly smart enough to be one.

“So what do we do now?”

“Dunno,” replied Shichiro. “Maybe tomorrow I’ll call our… contact regarding psychic powers.”

Gears sighed.

“Why, so he can insult you again?” he asked. “Shichiro, talking to that guy never gets you anywhere.”

“There’s a first time for everything…” replied Shichiro. “But first and foremost, I need a shower…”



Thus ended my first day as a Shadowchaser. I had seen a lot in one day, and Jinx would later tell me that it was a lot for an apprentice to take in. She recalled her first day as an apprentice, when the most exciting thing that happened was going with her mentor when he went to be the mediator in a negotiation session between the most prominent high elf and dwarf clans in Neo Domino. (Well, “mediator” was putting it nicely. He was actually supposed to beat the crud out of them if it turned into a fight. Elves and dwarves are notorious for not playing nice.)

I couldn’t complain about the room I was given. As I lay on the queen-sized bed that was softer than any mattress I had ever owned before, I thought I might get to like this… If I moved out of my old apartment permanently and into this nice place, not having to pay my lease would do wonders. Of course, sharing a townhouse with three others would have been new to me, but I wouldn’t even have to pay a share of the rent!

All seemed good for now… Of course, with this benefit, I knew that there came responsibilities, and more would come, along with the rising of the sun…



FLICKERING SEA FIRE (Trap Card)

Continuous Trap

Image: The ocean with fires burning among the waves.

Card Description: Neither player can send Monsters from the field to the Graveyard unless they are destroyed.

Note: “Flickering Sea Fire” was first used by Misawa in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” Manga. Creative credit goes to the writers.



WASTELAND TORNADO (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: A huge tornado of sand raging in a desert.

Card Description: Destroy 1 Spell or Trap Card that you control.

Note: “Wasteland Tornado” was first used by Yusei in the “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s” episode “Second-Round Showdown (Part 2)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



ARCANA KNIGHT JOKER (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Warrior/Fusion/Effect
Attribute: Light
Level: 9
ATK: 3,800
DEF: 2,500

Card Description: “Queen’s Knight” + “King’s Knight” + “Jack’s Knight”

This card can only be Fusion Summoned using the above-named Fusion Material Monsters. Once per turn, if this card is targeted by the effect of a Spell Card, Trap Card, or Effect Monster, you can discard a card of the same type (Spell, Trap, or Monster) to negate the effect.

Note: “Arcana Knight Joker” is a Japanese card that has not yet been released in the United States.



Coming up next:

Ember’s path continues, with Jinx showing the way. As Ember slowly learns how to fight and other necessities she needs, investigations are done towards DaPen’s true motives and identity. And to top it off, Jinx takes Ember on a trip into the decrepit berg of Satellite, where a challenge awaits that will set the Shadowchasers on a new path. “Legendary Sword” is coming up next.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
3rd February 2009, 10:48 AM
That was a solid, but short match. I like how DaPen was given some attention, and atleast we know something about his background story now.

It's cool that you're fusing the apprentice training, the plot, the mystery of DaPen and the discovery of this whole new world (for us) in one fic.

Keep going.

Shuppet Master
5th February 2009, 04:07 PM
Great chappie, Brian! I had a feeling you would use some crazy stuff and a dark elf merc. This chapter reminds me of the episode where Bastion used Seal of the Forbidden Spell to shut down Jaden's fusions and he just won with another strategy.

Dark Sage
5th February 2009, 05:03 PM
Great chappie, Brian! I had a feeling you would use some crazy stuff and a dark elf merc. This chapter reminds me of the episode where Bastion used Seal of the Forbidden Spell to shut down Jaden's fusions and he just won with another strategy.

Ironically, Chris, Bastion used Flickering Sea Fire in the manga, combined with another card, to attempt to do the same thing. But he made the same mistake there that he made in the anime - assuming that Fusions were the only way Jaden could ever win. Kor'mal made a similar mistake by assuming that every powerful Monster Shichiro was capable of summoning was a Synchro.

It was a logical assumption, yes, but in Shichiro's line of work, you have to know how to defy logic in order to survive.

Dark Sage
7th February 2009, 08:01 AM
Author’s note: The events of this chapter occur in the mid-point of episode 28, some time after Yusei’s duel with Dick Pitt, but before the events of the next episode. The Dark Signers have made their first true move, and the forces of Evil wait with eager anticipation. However, the balance of power is still evenly distributed in Neo Domino.




CHAPTER ELEVEN




http://www.ideal808.com/images/lob_en040.jpg



As excited as I was, it may have not been the best time to join the Shadowchasers, at least not in this part of the world. You see, Godwin was more on the ball than Shichiro thought. He was entirely correct about a group of Demon Lords – who as I later found out were more properly referred to as “Earthbound Gods” – being imprisoned under the Nazca Lines. To make things worse, their minions were preparing to strike, in a conflict that would rattle the streets of Neo Domino.

As a result, supernatural activity was at an all-time high. Shadows could sense it, and they were very nervous. Jalal knew about the threat posed by the Earthbound Gods, but he knew that the Shadowchasers could not combat them, at least not at first. Only their true enemies, the group known as the Signers, could properly stand against them. (The Signers were a group that consisted of Yusei Fudo, Jack Atlas, and a few others.) Jalal was in discussion with a few other powerful individuals about making backup plans that would be enacted should the Signers fail.

Some very powerful Shadows were also making plans. As we later learned, DaPen was not choosing sides for now, but he was keeping careful track of this hidden threat. Was he watching like a vulture in order to strike at the weakened victors once it was over? We didn’t know… But we knew that any uneasiness in Shadow was an opportunity for any powerful and morally corrupt Shadowkind. When folks become afraid, they look for someone who they think can protect them… That’s how Hitler came to power in Germany, after all.

And it’s no different for Shadows…



Shichiro found it very hard to rest that morning, even as he tried to sleep. Sometime before he woke up, he had an odd dream…

He was on a dark street, surrounded by run down buildings. He wanted to go forward, that he knew…

Unfortunately, in front of him were four Duel Monsters blocking his path, whom he knew were not going to let him.

Three of them were Synchros, and all four were very rare: Junk Warrior, Explode Wing Dragon, Blackwing – Armored Wing, and Archfiend General. They seemed very upset at him for some reason.

Shichiro held up his hands in protest, showing that he was unarmed. But they simply crossed their arms and shook their heads. They weren’t going to budge.

Shichiro’s head drooped. There was no reasoning with them…

“Tell him I’m sorry,” he whispered.

He turned around and started to walk away.

Then Shichiro woke up with a start.

The dream… he thought. You’d think I’d be used to it by now…

He sighed.

He wondered if he’d ever be used to it…



* * * * * * * * * *


The rain had stopped early in the morning, and the sun rose over Neo Domino, just as it had so many times before.

The residents of the townhouse slept late, as no alarms called them to duty, and they were all tired from the night before. As fate would have it, at ten o’clock, Ember was the first one to take initiative.

Mistle slowly woke from her slumber in the infirmary, roused by the smell of blueberry waffles.

“Good morning!” said Ember, walking in with a breakfast tray. “Uh… Boris said these were your favorite… I’m Ember, by the way…”

“Uh, thanks…” said Mistle, with a smile. “You’re the new recruit, right?”

“Yeah, I’m the newbie,” said Ember, putting the tray next to the bed. “I’m glad you’re awake. You had us all worried for a while…”

“It’s so much to take in…” said the nymph. “It’s all a blur…”

“Take it easy…” said Ember. “He can’t hurt you any more…”

Outside the room, Shichiro was watching, and sipping from a bottle of orange juice. Gears walked up to him.

“I just got off the phone with the doctor at the infirmary at the Prison,” he said. “Kor’mal is alive, but… There’s just no-one home.”

“Trust me,” replied Shichiro. “He’s oatmeal.”

“DaPen is clearly a dangerous…” started Gears.

He stopped short.

“I was about to say ‘man’, but I don’t think that would describe him.”

As Ember talked to Mistle, Jinx walked into the infirmary.

“So, how’s my student this morning?” asked Jinx.

“Great,” said Ember, with a sigh. “So, what’s on the docket today?”

“Well, no Shadowchaser business for us until nine o’clock tonight,” replied Jinx. “Until then, I’ll meet you downstairs.

“Ember… I’m going to teach you how to fight.”

Ember gulped.



* * * * * * * * * *


Ember was more nervous than she had been in a long time.

She was dressed in a martial arts gi that Jinx had given her, and standing in the main room of the lower level of the townhouse, which was made up to look like a dojo. Mats covered the floor, and weapons – both real and practice versions – hung on the walls.

Jinx walked in, wearing a gi of her own.

“Ready, Ember?” she asked.

“Look, Jinx,” said Ember, “I gotta tell you, I’ve never really sparred with anyone before…”

Jinx chuckled.

“Ember, that is exactly what I told my mentor when I first started,” she replied. “And that’s what I’m here for. By the time you’re ready to take the oath, you’ll be able to take on a minotaur in a fistfight.

“Now… The first thing we’re gonna do is find out what you need the most help with, so we can concentrate on that.”

She looked at Ember.

“Come at me.”

“Pardon?” asked Ember.

“Come and get me,” replied Jinx. “Attack me. Don’t hold back.”

Ember gave Jinx a strange look. She took a deep breath.

Then she leapt at Jinx, aiming a punch at her face.

Jinx quickly reacted, grabbing Ember’s arm and throwing her. Ember landed on the mat on her back with a thud.

Ember closed her eyes. She kind of expected that Jinx would do that.

“Hmm…” said Jinx. “Offhand, I’d say you need the most help with balance…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Half an hour later in the kitchen, Boris was looking at a grocery list. (Like most residents of the Tops, the residents of the townhouse had groceries delivered.)

Boris had been a gift from Maskent to Jalal, who had given him to the Shadowchasers in Neo Domino, and the residents of the townhouse didn’t know exactly what he was. Whether he was an arcane device granted intelligence by magic, or a living (or once-living) spirit of some sort that inhabited a skull, it was hard to tell. They didn’t dwell on it too much. When all was said and done, he was the cook, and he was a good cook, most of the time.

“What to make…” pondered Boris. “What to make…”

Then Gears came in and opened the refrigerator.

“Hey, Gears,” said Boris. “Any suggestions for dinner?”

Gears looked at him.

“Let’s see…” he replied. “Steak, spaghetti, sushi, meatloaf, pork chops, lasagna, chicken, ribs, pizza…

“Cheeseburgers, chili, curry, Swedish meatballs, stir fry…”

“In other words,” said Boris, “you’ll eat anything that isn’t on fire.”

“Pretty much,” said Gears. “Just use your best judgment. And make sure it isn’t your infamous three-cheese chowder…”

He took a banana out of the refrigerator.

“Make one little mistake with a pressure cooker, and they never let you forget it…” muttered Boris.

“Don’t forget to make a vegetarian dish for Mistle,” continued Gears. “And don’t make anything with pecans in it. Ember says she’s allergic to those.”

“Where is the newbie anyway?” asked Boris.

“Downstairs sparring with Jinx,” replied Gears, “I stopped to watch for a minute, but I couldn’t stand the noise.”

Meanwhile, Shichiro was sitting at a desk in the living room, making a call on a video phone.

After it rang five times, someone answered it. A young man with an odd coif of hair.

“What is it, Shichiro?” he asked, in an annoyed tone. “I’m not having the best day…”

“Stuff it, Divine,” replied Shichiro. “You know the terms of our agreement. Whenever we help you guys with information, you have to return the favor. We got you that stuff from the Daily Duel media morgue that you needed last week, so you owe us one.

“We’re having problems with someone who most likely has psychic abilities, and I was wondering if you knew anything about him.”

Divine chuckled.

“Shichiro,” he said, “my group is a haven for gifted individuals. That alone does not make me the region’s resident authority on psychic activity…”

“Yeah, well,” said Shichiro, “it was either you or the psychic hotline, and they charge by the minute. Do you know anything about Louis DaPen?”

Divine looked at him with an even more annoyed glance.

“Like I said…” he growled, “the Arcadia Movement is a haven for gifted individuals… Not for criminals…”

“I take it from your tone that you do know something about DaPen,” said Shichiro.

“If you must know, yes,” said Divine. “About five years ago, a member of my group made what he thought was an agreement with him, only to be blatantly double-crossed, and severely hurt. I confronted him, personally, only to find out that he couldn’t be swayed by threats. Nor did he have any intention of playing by any rules. I was lucky to escape that confrontation with my skin intact. And I learned nothing.

“I later tried to find background information on him that I could blackmail him with, but I found none. None of my contacts would share their information about him with me, saying that they would sooner break off their relation with me than do so. Folks I dealt with who were normally easy to… coerce said they would turn themselves in to Security before they revealed anything about DaPen. The only thing I found out for sure about that man is that he’s a lunatic.”

“Some might say the same thing about you,” replied Shichiro.

Divine glared at him.

“We’re all a little crazy, aren’t we, Shichiro?” he said. “I don’t usually give away advice for free, but I’ll give you some right now. I recommend staying as far away from DaPen as possible. Dealing with him is like playing Russian roulette.

“Come to think of it, given the choice between the two of them, Russian roulette is preferable. You’d likely suffer a lot less.

“And thank you so much for bringing back such an unpleasant memory. While you’re at it, why don’t you give me a nice knife wound and rub salt on it?”

Then the screen went dark. Shichiro sighed, as Gears walked in, eating the banana.

“I take it Divine just hung up on you again?” he asked.

“That man is impossible to deal with,” replied Shichiro. “Remind me again why we made that deal with him in the first place.”

“Because he finds out things that we need to know that our other contacts can’t,” replied Gears. “Know what his problem is?”

“His hairdresser flunked out of beauty school?” answered Shichiro.

“Maybe,” replied Gears. “But he has a much bigger problem.

“You see, the powers above gave him a gift. But the thing was, when he realized he had this gift, he came to the conclusion that because he had it, it made him better than people who didn’t have it. It made him egotistical, and condescending to others.”

“Awares often have that problem…” muttered Shichiro.

“Mmm,” said Gears. “And we know what happens to them. My advice regarding Divine is, unless he does something where we have to intervene, we leave him to his machinations. I guarantee that sooner or later, he’s going to make a big mistake, and take on someone who’s too powerful for him to handle. Then, he’ll realize that he isn’t as great as he thinks he is… But the realization will come too late…”



* * * * * * * * * *


“Come on, Ember!” shouted Jinx. “No pain, no gain!”

It was about two hours later, and Ember’s progress had improved greatly. Whether she was a good student, Jinx was a good teacher, or a little of both, was hard to tell, but Ember was taking to this fast.

Jinx aimed a flurry of punches at Ember, but she quickly avoided them with a series of blocks. Jinx’s concern that Ember needed to work on balance was not as accurate as she thought, because Ember effortlessly avoided her floor sweep.

Finally, Jinx stopped. As Ember caught her breath, she went over to a cooler and took out two bottles of water.

“You absolutely certain you never sparred before?” she asked. “Not even in a previous life?”

“Certain,” said Ember, taking the bottle. “Maybe I just learn fast…”

She slowly swallowed the water.

“So, I’m a little curious… Where are we going at nine tonight?”

“We got some info on a possible contraband delivery at a docking bay in Satellite,” replied Jinx. “Shadowkind may be involved.”

“We’re going to Satellite?” asked Ember.

Jinx nodded.

“Hold on…” said Ember. “Aren’t residents of Neo Domino greatly discouraged from visiting Satellite?”

“Because of stories they tell you about how the residents are unclean,” said Jinx, “and how they can pollute our city… Ember, when you’re with us, you’ll quickly learn how to distinguish myth from reality. Satellite has no terrible plagues that would kill you if you went there. After all, Security goes there all the time.”

“But how would we even get there?” asked Ember. “We’d need a helicopter or something…”

“Not a problem,” replied Jinx. “You’ll see then how a trip across the bay can be done quickly by using a special optional extra on a D-Wheel that only Shadowchasers have.

“Now, let’s get back to work. Do well, and I know some traditional massage techniques that some high elves taught me that are great for sore muscles…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Ember found it hard to believe how much had been built into this townhouse. It even had a sauna that the two of them were able to use once Ember had pushed herself to the limit. Jinx had not been lying either. The elven massage technique that she used quickly healed the soreness in Embers muscles; Ember commented that whatever elves invented the technique could make a fortune as masseuses, but Jinx was quick to point out that they rarely used any of their traditions for commercial purposes.

The day wore on. Gears stayed by Mistle for most of it, while Shichiro was on an errand, acting as a translator for an ettin who needed to speak to an Aware store owner who only spoke Japanese, which the ettin didn’t speak. Ettins were rare Shadowkind who had two heads, and they were hard to understand by anyone, seeing as one head would often start a sentence and the other would finish it. They tended to be friendly, however, unless you used the expression “two heads are better than one”. (All ettins have heard that one a million times.)

After a late dinner (Boris had finally settled on Mandarin chicken), Jinx made a few adjustments to her deck, and then motioned to Ember to follow her out to the garage.

“I still don’t know how we’re gonna drive to Satellite,” muttered Ember, as she got on the D-Wheel behind Jinx. “I mean…”

Jinx punched some commands into her console, and an eerie sound emitted from the engine.

“Trans-dimensional system engaged,” said the D-Wheel’s computerized voice.

Then a shimmering portal of light appeared about twenty feet in front of them.

“Short-range teleportation,” said Jinx. “A simple means of travel using magic. We make a very short detour via another dimension, taking us several miles in the span of a second, enabling us to easily cross over a body of water into an area we aren’t supposed to go.

“Hang on…”

Ember was dumbstruck. She hung on as Jinx started the D-Wheel, and drove through the portal.



* * * * * * * * * *


Almost instantly, they emerged on a dark street.

“Welcome to Satellite…” said Jinx, pulling to a stop. “The other side…”

“Good lord…” said Ember, looking around. “It’s like…”

“I know,” said Ember. “You have to be here a few times before you get used to the stench.

“The humans here are a sorry lot. They rarely smile, they don’t know how to laugh… Fate dealt them a bad hand…

“But some clans of Shadows actually prefer to set up shop in Satellite than in the big city.”

“Why?” asked Ember, still shocked.

“It fits them,” replied Jinx. “They may have lost their memories when they arrived on Earth, but their old instincts remained. The old buildings and abandoned tenements are like the subterranean lairs that they had in their previous lives. Plus, Shadowkind that are tribal and primitive in nature tend to prefer places like this over places where there’s too much hoi-polloi…

“But anyway, onto business… Watch your back here…”

She started up again, and drove down the dark street of Satellite.



* * * * * * * * * *


At a large docking bay at a costal part of Satellite, not far from the legendary Daedalus Bridge, Jinx and Ember watched as an unassuming ship slowly approached. Two men were waiting for it.

“So what is this place?” whispered Ember.

“Godwin is smart enough to know he can’t let the folks in Satellite starve,” said Jinx. “This is one of many places where supplies are shipped into Satellite by boat. During the day, that is.

“But tonight, someone’s bringing in contraband, and a Shadow might be involved.”

They watched as the boat docked. Then, someone on the boat started lowering a crate down.

“So what’s in the crates?” asked Ember. “Weapons? Drugs?”

“Possibly either, possibly both,” replied Jinx. “We might find out soon…”

“Shouldn’t we go get them?” asked Ember.

“Not yet, Ember,” replied Jinx. “Those guys are just humans. We have to make sure there is indeed a Shadow involved. If there isn’t, then this is Security’s problem. Once we have proof that they’re working for a Shadow, then we move in…”

One of the two workers handling the crates shivered.

“Man, this place gives me the creeps,” he said, looking around. “Why do we gotta move this stuff at night?”

“Beats me,” said the other. “I don’t even know where this stuff is goin’…”

Then they were startled as a third man stepped out of the shadows.

He was dressed in a jacket and wool pants, and a hat, but his face looked like that of a foreigner, possibly Middle Eastern. He had shifty eyes and a sharp goatee. Ember could see that his face had a tan that was far more pronounced than even most Arabs.

Then she looked at him closer, and saw that it wasn’t a tan. It was almost as if his skin were bronze.

“Geesh, you scared us, boss!” said one of the men.

“Perhaps you clowns would prefer moving smuggled goods during the day,” he replied, “when Security could more easily notice?”

“Naw, we weren’t saying that!” said the other one.

“Just get these crates onto the truck!” ordered the strange man, “and be quick…”

“Bingo,” said Jinx. “That’s our target…”

“He’s definitely a Shadow,” replied Ember. “But what?”

Jinx nodded.

“A janni,” she said. “A minor elemental spirit, related to the more powerful genies. They usually work for more powerful Shadows.”

“So what do we do now?” asked Ember.

“We take the direct approach,” replied Jinx.

She leapt out of their hiding place, and onto the floor of the docks. The two humans drew back in shock.

“Evening, gentlemen…” she said.

“Aw, crud,” said the janni.

“Boss…” said one of the humans.

“Beat it, you two,” said the janni. “I’ll handle this doll…”

“But boss, we can…” said the other.

The janni glared at them.

“I said beat it,” he said. “You have no idea what you’re dealing with…”

The two men didn’t need any more prompting. They were gone in an instant.

“No idea what they’re dealing with…” laughed Jinx. “You say that as if you were some elemental lord.”

“The best part about dealing with Mundanes is,” chuckled the janni, “they have no idea just how powerful you are. I could impress those losers by pulling a rabbit out of my hat.”

“So…” said Jinx. “Mind telling me who you’re working for?”

“Who says I’m working for anyone?” asked the janni. “Maybe I’m just a free agent who’s gonna sell this stuff to the highest bidder.”

“Please,” said Jinx. “You guys never take initiative on your own. You’re always working for someone.”

“Not for the same person all the time,” said the janni.

He gestured, and a Duel Disk appeared on his arm.

“Ask anyone in Satellite, and they’ll tell you that if you want something brought in secretly, Al-Akba Rasul is the guy to do it. I can handle the transition of anything into this place. Just show me what needs to get in, and I’ll get it in. No muss, no fuss.”

“Seems to me you just got a good deal of fuss,” replied Jinx, as Ember walked up behind her. “And you don’t care about the legality of the goods, I assume.”

“Like I said, I just handle transition,” replied Rasul. “Not my business what a customer does with it. And since I’m on a schedule, I’m gonna have to handle you do-gooders fast.”

Jinx activated her Disk.

“Yeah?” she said. “Just try…”



(Jinx: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Rasul: 8,000)


“I’ll go first,” snapped Rasul, drawing a card.

“How rude,” muttered Jinx.

“I summon Lord of the Lamp,” he continued.

A cloud of pink smoke formed in front of Rasul, and a genie with purple skin and a moustache, wearing a turban and holding a scepter appeared. (1,400 ATK)

Jinx almost laughed.

“You want to try a little harder than that?” she asked.

“I end my turn,” said Rasul.

Ember looked a little worried.

Careful, Jinx, she thought. There has to be a reason he played that weak Monster…

Jinx drew a card. Then she quickly fit one of them into her Disk.

“First, I’ll conjure up my Dangerous Machine Type-6!” she exclaimed.

With a rumble and a shower of electrical energy, an intimidating-looking machine rose behind her. It looked like a huge generator, with the numbers one through six on its face.

“We’ll get to that later,” she said. “For now, I’ll summon Roulette Barrel.”

She played a new card, and a laser cannon on a circular pedestal appeared in front of her. (1,000 ATK)

“Here’s the deal,” she said. “Once per turn, I can roll two dice. Then I can choose one result, and one Monster whose Level matches the result gets zapped.

“Go!”

Two dice shot into the air. All three of them watched, and they tumbled onto the ground. One of them came up a six, and the other a four.

“Think I’ll choose the four,” she said. “And since Lord of the Lamp is Level 4…”

Roulette Barrel shot a blast of energy at Lord of the Lamp, and the genie was atomized.

“Nuts…” said Rasul.

“Attack him directly!” shouted Jinx.

Roulette Barrel fired its beam at Rasul, and he cringed as it hit him in the chest.

“I’ll set three cards facedown, and end my turn,” said Jinx.

Three facedown cards flashed into existence behind Roulette Barrel.



(J: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (R: 7,000)


“My move!” shouted Rasul.

He drew a card.

He set a card on his Disk, and a facedown Monster appeared.

“That’s all,” he said.

Jinx looked at him closely, and then drew a card.

“Now, my Dangerous Machine chooses a number at random,” she said, as the Dangerous Machine Type-6 started to flash. “Each number has a different result…”

Then the three lit up.

“Three,” she said. “That means I get to draw one card.”

She made a draw.

“Next, I switch Roulette Barrel to Defense Mode…”

Roulette Barrel lowered its gun. (2,000 DEF)

“…and then summon X-Saber Anabelera!”

A new Warrior leapt onto the field. This one was a female fighter, a beautiful woman with long, blonde hair, dressed in black and crimson plate armor with a coat of arms on her shin, bearing the X-Saber insignia. She held a decorated longsword. (1,800 ATK)

“Attack his Monster!” she shouted.

Anabelera leapt at the facedown Monster…

An odd object appeared on the card. It was an old-fashioned oil lamp, perched on four spindly legs. (1,400 DEF)

“That’s my Ancient Lamp!” laughed Rasul. “And due to its effect, I can send your warrior maiden’s attack back at your other Monster!”

Anabelera turned around in mid-swing, and slammed her sword into Roulette Barrel. Jinx twitched a little.

“I end my turn…” she muttered with a frown.



(J: 7,800) - - - - - - - - - - (R: 7,000)


Rasul drew a card.

“Heh, heh, heh…” he chuckled, when he looked at it.

He chose another one.

“I use Ancient Lamp’s other effect,” he said. “Which lets me Special Summon La Jinn the Mystical Genie of the Lamp. Attack Mode!”

A cloud of green smoke poured out of the lamp, and the large, green-skinned genie appeared next to it. He let out a deep, throaty laugh. (1,800 ATK)

“But I’m not done… I sacrifice Ancient Lamp…”

Ancient Lamp vanished into an orb of light.

“…to call forth Ushi Oni!”

A large, ceramic jar appeared where Ancient Lamp had been. Then, another genie burst out of it, this one with the head of a monstrous bull and fiendish tentacles sprouting from its back. (2,150 ATK)

“But I’m still not done… I sacrifice Ushi Oni…”

Ushi Oni vanished into another globe of light.

“…to Special Summon my most powerful beast! The Giant Ushi Oni!”

The creature that appeared next, looming over the field, was the stuff of nightmares. It looked similar to Ushi Oni at first glance, but the most obvious difference was that it had the lower body of a monstrous spider. Its face combined the worst aspects of bull and spider, with sharp fangs. (2,600 ATK)



Continued…

Dark Sage
7th February 2009, 08:02 AM
Continued from last post:



“The bull demon…” muttered Jinx.

She was beginning to think that this guy was a bit more well-connected than she had at first thought.

“You got it,” said Rasul. “Attack Anabelera! Specter bite!”

Giant Ushi Oni lunged forward, and with one mighty chomp, bit Anabelera in half. Jinx cringed from the mighty blow.

“And when Giant Ushi Oni crushes one Monster,” continued Rasul, “it gets to attack a second time! So smash that Roulette Barrel!”

The huge Fiend lunged forward again, and punched the Roulette Barrel, smashing it to pieces.

“You’re wide open!” shouted Rasul. “La Jinn, attack her directly!”

Jinx braced herself, as the genie breathed blue fire, covering her with flames.



(J: 5,200) - - - - - - - - - - (R: 7,000)


“JINX!” shouted Ember.

“It’s okay…” gasped Jinx. “What doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger… I’ve still got a few tricks…”

One of her facedown cards lifted.

“Like the Trap Card, Damage Condenser!” she shouted. “Now, I toss one card…”

She discarded her X-Saber Passiul.

“And I get to Special Summon from my deck any Monster, so long as its Attack Score isn’t higher than the amount of damage I just took.

“So, I’ll summon X-Saber Axel in Defense Mode!”

Another of the X-Sabers appeared in front of her. This one looked fully human, dressed in furs and leather armor, with the X-Saber insignia on his belt buckle. He held a large sword with a serrated blade. He knelt in defense. (100 DEF)

Rasul chuckled.

“You could have done better than that,” he said. “I end my turn…”

“Then I draw!” shouted Jinx, drawing a card. “And my Dangerous Machine goes to work again!”

The numbers on the Machine flashed, and eventually came up on the two. Jinx grinned.

“That means you have to toss a card,” she said.

Rasul frowned. He discarded The Shallow Grave.

“Next,” she said, “I activate another Trap Card.”

One of her other facedown cards lifted up, showing the image of a man in heavy plate armor, holding a sword forward.

“It’s called Gatmuz’s Urgent Orders. Since I now have an X-Saber Monster on the field, I get to Special Summon not one, but two of them from my Graveyard.

“So, first I’ll summon back Anabelera.”

In a flash of energy, Anabelera reappeared. (1,800 ATK)

“And then, the Tuner Monster, X-Saber Passiul!”

Passiul appeared, holding his large sword in front of him. (100 ATK)

“Now, I Tune all three of my Monsters together! Go!”

Anabelera, Axel, and Passiul all leapt into the air and flew into the sky, turning into seven shimmering stars. The stars collided in a burst of energy…

With a roar, X-Saber Urbellum landed in front of Jinx. (2,200 ATK)

“HA, HA, HA!” laughed Rasul. “Talk about stupid. You wasted three Monsters to summon something that can’t even do the job!”

“Oh no?” asked Jinx.

Her last facedown card lifted.

“I activate Synchro Strike!” she shouted. “Now, my Synchro Monster gains 500 Attack Points this round for each Monster I Tuned to summon him.”

Urbellum glowed with energy… (3,700 ATK)

“Uh oh…” said Rasul.

“Attack Giant Ushi Oni!” shouted Jinx. “Mystical rage!”

Urbellum drew his two blades, and leapt at the bull demon. The Fiend roared as he slashed with the weapons. Giant Ushi Oni burst into an explosion of blue stones.

“Ergh…” muttered Rasul.



(J: 5,200) - - - - - - - - - - (R: 5,900)


“I throw one card facedown,” she said, as a facedown card appeared behind Urbellum. “Your move…”

Rasul drew a card, and looked at it.

“I’ll move La Jinn to Defense Mode, and that will be all,” he said.

La Jinn squatted, and shielded himself with his arms. (1,000 DEF)

“Then look out!” shouted Jinx, drawing a card.

The Dangerous Machine started to flash again. Eventually, it landed on a four.

“Ugh…” said Jinx. “That means you get to draw a card…”

Rasul smirked. He made a draw.

Then he smirked again when he saw what it was.

“I summon X-Saber Urz!” shouted Jinx.

In a burst of energy, the bestial-looking barbarian Warrior holding twin sabers appeared. (1,600 ATK)

“Attack that genie!” shouted Jinx.

Urz leapt up, and made a savage slice at La Jinn. The genie was smashed into bits.

“Now I use Urz’s effect,” continued Jinx. “I sacrifice him…”

Urz vanished into grains of light.

“…and instead of going to the Graveyard, La Jinn goes to the top of your deck.”

Rasul frowned as the card appeared on the top of his deck.

“And I’m not done with you! Urbellum, direct attack!”

Rasul screamed loudly as the barbarian lord’s blade struck him. He tumbled over backwards.

“And since you have four cards in your hand,” continued Jinx, “Urbellum’s effect activates, sending one of them to the top of your deck!”

Rasul frowned again, as one of the four cards in his hand vanished, and appeared on the top of his deck.

“I end my turn…” chuckled Jinx.



(J: 5,200) - - - - - - - - - - (R: 3,700)


“Laugh while you can,” sneered Rasul, drawing the card again. “I know just what to do…

“If Urbellum’s effect had sent this card to the top of my deck first, you probably would have won. Luckily for me, it didn’t.

“I play Monster Reincarnation! So, I toss one card…”

He discarded his Cost Down.

“…and I get a Monster back from my Graveyard.”

Giant Ushi Oni slipped out of his Graveyard slot.

“Oh?” asked Jinx. “That Monster is a NOMI. How are you gonna summon it?”

Rasul quickly played one of his remaining two cards, and Silent Doom appeared on his side of the field. The regular Ushi Oni quickly appeared in Defense Mode. (1,950 DEF)

“Now, I sacrifice him,” continued Rasul, as Ushi Oni vanished, “and guess who’s back?”

Giant Ushi Oni appeared once again. (2,600 ATK)

“Crap…” said Jinx.

“Attack X-Saber Urbellum!” ordered Rasul.

Giant Ushi Oni shot a mass of venomous webbing from its jaws, and Urbellum screamed before exploding into pixels.

“Now, attack her directly!”

Jinx herself couldn’t help but scream as the same webbing was sprayed on her.



(J: 2,200) - - - - - - - - - - (R: 3,700)


Jinx stopped to catch her breath.

“Jinx, you okay?” asked Ember.

“I’m fine…” muttered Jinx. “No pain, no gain, remember?”

She looked at Ember. Truthfully, she was more worried than she let on.

I can’t lose this duel in front of my apprentice… she thought. I’d be humiliated!

She drew a card.

Dangerous Machine Type-6 whirred again.

Then it landed on the four again.

“Another four?” shouted Jinx in disbelief.

Rasul laughed, and then drew another card.

“Gambling is gambling, Shadowchaser…” he said. “Luck can’t hold you up all the time… Eventually, it runs out…”

Jinx looked at the card she had just drawn.

“Show me a deck that doesn’t rely on luck,” replied Jinx. “No matter how well-built a deck is, there’s never a guarantee that you’re gonna draw the card you need. Each draw can be good or bad, it’s all up to chance.

“My cards having effects that rely on luck is just taking the nature of the game further.”

She played the card.

“I play Roll of Fate,” she said, as a new Spell Card appeared in front of her. “Now, I get to roll a die again.”

Another die flashed into existence, and started to roll. It came to rest on the four.

“That means I get to draw four cards,” she said, making four draws.

“Of course, having done that, I gotta get rid of the next four cards.”

She took four more cards off her deck, and placed them inside her jacket.

She looked at her new hand.

Seems I have only one option now… she said, looking at her facedown card on the field. And it’s pretty risky…

She took two cards from her hand, and placed them on her Disk. A defensive Monster and a new reversed card appeared.

“That’s all,” she said.

“Then I draw!” laughed Rasul, drawing a card.

He looked at it.

He quickly played a card, and La Jinn appeared again. (1,800 ATK)

“I don’t really need him,” he said, “but what the hey…

“Giant Ushi Oni, crush her Monster!”

The huge Fiend leapt forward. Abare Ushioni appeared on the card, and was squashed flat.

“You’re through!” he shouted. “Attack her dir…”

“Hold up!” shouted Jinx, as one of her facedown cards shot up.

“Huh, a Trap?” gasped Rasul, in shock. “What is it?”

“The Paths of Destiny!” exclaimed Jinx. “Here’s how it’s gonna go… Before your Fiend can attack me, we both have to toss a coin.

“Whoever gets heads gains 2,000 Life Points. But whoever gets tails loses 2,000 Life Points.

“Exciting, isn’t it?”

Two coins fell into each of their hands.

“Bah!” shouted Rasul. “If you get tails, this will be even easier!”

Jinx tossed the coin, and it flew upwards into the air…

It fell to the ground. It was heads. She grinned as a golden glow of energy surrounded her.

“Eh, what works for the goose will work for the gander…” said Rasul, tossing his card.

The second coin fell to the ground.

Then he was shocked to see that it was tails.

A blast of electricity shot out of the Trap Card, hitting him. He grunted in pain.

“And I’m not done!” shouted Jinx, as her second facedown card lifted. “I chain-activate Emergency Provisions, to gain 1,000 more Life Points!”

The Paths of Destiny vanished, and Jinx glowed with energy again.

Rasul scowled, and then looked at Giant Ushi Oni.

“What are you waiting for?” he shouted. “An engraved invitation?”

The giant Fiend shot its venomous silk at Jinx again, and she grunted as she was entangled by it again.

“Seems La Jinn is pretty useful after all,” growled Rasul. “Attack!”

The genie breathed his dark flames again, and Jinx reeled from the impact.



(J: 800) - - - - - - - - - - (R: 1,700)


Jinx took some deep, gasping breaths.

Ember saw the purpose of Jinx’s strategy. She took a chance, and managed to gain 3,000 Life Points before losing 4,400, and was thus able to keep herself from losing.

Still, she’d need a lot of luck now, with only 800 Life Points left…

“My move!” shouted Jinx, drawing a card.

The Dangerous Machine started to hum and shake again. Finally, it landed on the five.

“Oh, look!” said Jinx with a laugh. “A five! That means I get to send one of your Monsters packing!”

“Hey, wait a minute…” said Rasul.

A bolt of lightning shot out of the Machine, and struck Giant Ushi Oni, blowing it to shards.

“You’ll pay for that…” growled Rasul.

“Just send me the bill,” said Jinx, taking a card from her hand. “I play Monster Reborn.”

The holy ankh appeared on the field, and in a burst of light, X-Saber Urbellum appeared again. (2,200 ATK)

“Next, I summon X-Saber Palomlo!”

In another burst of energy, the small, lizard fighter holding a battle axe appeared. (200 ATK)

“Now, I Tune both Monsters together!”

The two X-Sabers leapt into the sky, and then split into eight shimmering stars. A beam of light fell from the heavens.

“Synchro Summon… Jalal the Dragonborn!”

Ember couldn’t believe it as the Synchro Monster appeared. This was the same one that Shichiro had used… The knight Warrior that looked like Jalal in armor holding a sword. (2,600 ATK)

“Erk!” grunted Rasul.

“Now I use Jalal’s effect,” said Jinx, as she started to glow with a red aura. “I have to pay half my Life Points, but since I only had 800 left, that’s no big deal.

“Then, I can remove one Spell or Trap from either Graveyard to enchant his sword with a Rune that holds its effect. Like your Silent Doom.”

The Spell Card fell out of Rasul’s Disk, and a rune appeared on Jalal’s sword.

“Now, I’ll expend that Rune to use it,” continued Jinx, “and summon a Monster from my own Graveyard.”

Jalal held his sword up high, and it shone in the moonlight. Then, Anabelera appeared next to him, shielding herself in Defense Mode. (1,100 DEF)

“Now…” continued Jinx, taking a card from her hand, “remember my Trap Card, Gatmuz’s Urgent Orders? Were you wondering just who Gatmuz was?

“Well, I sacrifice Anabelera to summon him… The field commander of the X-Sabers…”

Anabelera vanished…

“…Allsword Commander Gatmuz!”

A huge, hulking figure appeared where Anabelera had been, a bulky fighter clad completely in plate armor, his entire face covered by a steel helmet with wing designs on the forehead. He wore a flowing, red cape, and carried a large, two-handed sword. (2,100 ATK)

“Okay, Commander,” said Jinx. “Take out that genie!”

Gatmuz let out a roar, and made a mighty cut with his sword. La Jinn screamed before shattering into shards.

“Look, can’t we talk this over?” gasped Rasul.

Jinx didn’t answer. She simply pointed, and Jalal struck the janni with his blade. He screamed, and fell backwards.



(J: 400) - - - - - - - - - - (R: 0)


“Whoa, that was awesome, Jinx!” shouted Ember.

Jinx took the gemstone out of her pouch to make the arrest.

“Thanks,” she said. “He was stronger than I thought he’d be. Clearly, someone didn’t want anyone to get to that stuff he was bringing in…”

She pointed the gemstone, and Rasul vanished.

“Just one question, Jinx…” said Ember. “That Synchro Monster… Isn’t it Shichiro’s card?”

Jinx chuckled.

“Every Shadowchaser has one, Ember,” she replied. “Once a Shadowchaser is initiated, Jalal gives him or her a card in his image, which was made using a small portion of his immortal spirit. That card defines a Shadowchaser’s role more than anything else.

“Once you pass all the tests and get one of your own, you’ll see that it’s more valuable than anything else that comes with the position…”

Jinx looked at the crates that Rasul and his men were loading.

“Let’s take a look,” she said. “Something important is in these crates…”

She walked over to the truck where one crate was loaded on, and picked up a crowbar that was provided.

“Hold it steady…” she said, as Ember held onto the crate.

After a few tugs, she managed to pry open the crate, revealing straw padding inside.

Jinx lifted out a statue of some sort. A gilded bust of a man’s head with a crown.

“Hey, I recognize this,” she said. “This was stolen last month from a museum in Riyadh.”

“Riyadh?” asked Ember. “Wait… That’s the capital of Saudi Arabia, right?”

Jinx nodded.

She pulled out a decorated bronze urn.

“So this was all about a few stolen museum pieces?” she said. “Doesn’t make sense… This is Satellite… There isn’t much of a market for stolen artifacts here… The few residents with large amounts of money tend to spend it on more practical things…

“Something strange is… Huh?”

She looked into the crate. Something was glowing slightly.

She reached deep inside.

Then she pulled out a long sword in a sheath. The part of the blade not covered by the sheath was glowing with a dim, red light. The hilt was golden, surrounded by a large hand guard covered with odd symbols.

Jinx slowly unsheathed it. The sword was deep violet near the tip of the blade, which gradually changed to warm red at the hilt. It glowed with a warm light.

“This is not Middle Eastern design…” said Jinx, in awe. “This looks more like a dwarven blade…”

She looked at the runes on the blade and the hilt.

“But this writing is not dwarven… Nor is it any Shadowkind language I’ve ever seen before…”

“Is it magic?” asked Ember.

“I would count on it,” replied Jinx.

She looked at the blade.

“I’ll make sure Security claims the Saudi artifacts,” she said. “But this sword… We have to talk to Jalal about it… Whoever Rasul was going to deliver it to likely had sinister plans for it…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Jalal didn’t say much when he came to look at the sword. He told Jinx he would look into it, and to send it to Soelma in the morning. Soelma, as Ember found out, was a high elf who owned an antique book store downtown – at least that’s what it was to Mundane customers. To Awares and Shadowkind, Soelma was an expert on magical artifacts who spent a lot of time researching them, and her shop had a very secure vault for storing them.

Midnight came in the city, with a feeling of dread hanging in the air. The two elf clans of Neo Domino (not including the one dark elf clan) danced under the moonlight to music that had been written long before humans knew how to compose it. A dwarf mechanic worked late in a garage that catered to humans and Shadows alike, trying to fix the transmission on a stubborn vehicle. The ophidia lurked in their hidden lair, preaching their dogma about the Age of Serpents that their legends assured them would someday come…

And an unlikely threat lurked in the city park. She looked around for any unsuspecting duelists…

She found none, but she knew one would eventually come. While she waited, she sat on a park bench and burst into tears.

She was always depressed. Any happiness she ever came across was quickly taken away. Hers, and that of her victims…



* * * * * * * * * *


As the sun rose at six in the morning, Gears was up with it. He jogged though the park, checking his heart rate on occasion.

He stopped short when he heard crying. Someone was sobbing his eyes out.

At first he thought it might be a lost child, but he saw that it was a teenage boy, about sixteen. He was sitting down, with a Duel Disk in his lap, crying like the world was ending.

“Hey,” said Gears. “Hey, sport… What’s wrong? What happened to you?”

The teenager looked at Gears through tearful eyes.

“I… uhm…” he said sadly. “I dueled someone…

“And I lost…”

He started to cry again. Gears looked at him.

“And?” he said. “What did you lose?”

The youth cried some more.

“Nothing…” he sobbed. “I lost…”

This was strange, and Gears knew it. Losing a duel with no conditions was no reason to cry like this.

Oh, don’t tell me… thought Gears.

He took a small device out of his pocket and turned it on. A small, pink light on it started to flash.

“Look, sport,” he said. “This duelist who beat you… Was it a girl about fourteen years old, with large eyes, long black hair, pale skin, and wearing something that looked like Peter Pan’s outfit?”

The youth looked at him in surprise.

“Uhm, yes…” he said. “How did you…”

“Call it a hunch…” said Gears.

He helped him up.

“Go eat something,” he said, “that might make you feel a little better…”

He watched the youth leave, and then hurried back to his bike, turning on his cell phone in the process.

“Shichiro, it’s me,” he said. “We have a problem…

“There’s a joystealer loose…”



Another day was dawning, and already a problem had presented itself. What was a joystealer? I didn’t know. There were so many things about Shadow I didn’t know about.

I was about to learn that in the history of Shadow, opposing forces existed, Good and Evil being one of the biggest. And despite several religious and philosophical beliefs that say that Good will always defeat Evil, the existence of the joystealers is proof positive that some conflicts are won by Evil, and that their repercussions can last a very, very long time. The conflict had happened, several had suffered because of it, and the Shadowchasers were working hard to undo it, which they could only do one victim at a time. And because the victims of this conflict were an entire race, they had been doing so for centuries.

Gears was about to continue the centuries-old task of correcting the tragedy caused by this conflict, and I had a front row seat… Let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty…



X-SABER AXEL (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Beast-Warrior/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 1
ATK: 400
DEF: 100

Card Description: When you control this face-up card, when an “X-Saber” Monster is destroyed as a result of battle and sent to the Graveyard, draw 1 card.



ALLSWORD COMMANDER GATMUZ (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Beast-Warrior/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 6
ATK: 2,100
DEF: 1,600

Card Description: When this card is face-up on the field, increase the ATK of all face-up “X-Saber” Monsters by 400.

Note: “X-Saber Axel” and “Allsword Commander Gatmuz” were released in Japan for the original “Duel Terminal” system. It has not yet been released in the United States.



X-SABER ANABELERA (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Warrior
Attribute: Earth
Level: 4
ATK: 1,800
DEF: 1,100

Flavor Text: A female soldier of the X-Sabers, she gracefully moves through the battlefield using magnificent attacks and calm judgment. The enemy fears her cruel attack.

Note: “X-Saber Anabelera” was released in Japan for the “Duel Terminal 2: Invasion of Worms!!” system. It has not yet been released in the United States.



GATMUZ’S URGENT ORDERS (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: Allsword Commander Gatmuz pointing his sword forward.

Card Description: Activate when there is a face-up “X-Saber” Monster on the field. Special Summon up to two “X-Saber” Monsters from either Graveyard.

Note: “Gatmuz’s Urgent Orders” will be released in Japan for the Starter Deck 2009, due out in March (American release date not yet known).



ROLL OF FATE (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: A split scene, with a beautiful, blonde woman on the right side, a dark-hooded man on the left side, and a dice between them.

Card Description: Roll 1 die. Draw from your deck a number of cards equal to the result. Then, remove from play an equal number of cards from the top of your deck.

Note: “Roll of Fate” was first used by Jonouchi in the original anime episode “Fighting For a Friend (Part 3)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



GIANT USHI ONI (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fiend/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 8
ATK: 2,600
DEF: 2,100

Card Description: This card cannot be Normal Summoned or set. This card can only be Special Summoned by offering 1 “Ushi Oni” as a Tribute. If this card destroys an opposing Monster as a result of battle, it may attack once again in a row. This effect may only be used once during a Battle Phase.

Note: “Giant Ushi Oni” was first used by Himuro in the multi-part “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s” episode “The Facility”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



Coming up next:

Not all stories have happy endings. The most you can do when a great tragedy happens is try to make amends, no matter how long it takes. Next chapter, Gears accepts a challenge that is part of a long-term Shadowchasers goal to undo a great injustice that happened centuries ago, and it’s not going to be easy. “The Unhappy Girl” is coming soon.

Shuppet Master
7th February 2009, 12:58 PM
Great chapter, seeing that I slept through today's episode of 5Ds. :(

It's sort of hard making a "Middle East" deck theme because not many cards have that theme. Also, you write the whole "day in the life of a Shadowchaser" thing flawlessly.

Oh, and I can't wait to see what a joystealer is and their backstory. ^_^

Dark Sage
7th February 2009, 01:03 PM
Great chapter, seeing that I slept through today's episode of 5Ds. :(

I should probably say then, for those who don't know, that Divine (who's dub name appears to be "Sayer", or maybe "Seer") made his first real dub appearance in today's episode. He's Aki's mentor, and a psychic duelist who is the head of the Arcadia Movement. He is a much more prominent character in Season Two.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
8th February 2009, 08:01 AM
It was a nice chapter, an ok battle and some new mysteries aroused. Fine in all, but not spectacular, which is ok.

Keep it up.

Dark Sage
11th February 2009, 02:51 AM
CHAPTER TWELVE




http://www.ideal808.com/images/ast-0101.jpg



Monster Cards are divided into many Types. You have your Spellcasters, Warriors, Machines, Fiends… And Fairies.

The last one tends to be misnamed nowadays. The celestial beings that make up this group don’t often resemble what we often perceive as “fairies”. Who would call Splendid Venus or Archlord Zerato fairies? It sounds kind of insulting when you think about it.

Fairies exist among Shadowkind, and this is where the word makes more a little more sense. Among Shadows, there are brownies, pixies, leprechauns, and nymphs like Mistle, among others. They are embodiments of nature and spirits of the Earth itself, immortal keepers of secrets that she holds in secluded places. However, these Shadows don’t like the word “fairy” either when used to describe them. They prefer the term “fey”.

Now, most fey are benevolent towards humans, and any danger they usually pose is limited to simple mischief. But that is not true all the time. Not all fey are nice… There are also dark fey. And as you might expect, “regular” fey hate dark fey with a passion.

I was about to witness the results of one conflict between a race of regular fey and a race of dark fey, and it clearly didn’t turn out well for the side of Good…



In a building under renovation near the Daimon Area, a man sat at a makeshift table, waiting.

He was a short (about five feet tall) but very stocky and robust man, wearing work clothes. The hair on his head was grey and thick, and he had a thick, full beard. Even if you were Aware, you wouldn’t see much of a difference – dwarves were Shadows who could pass for humans most of the time. This particular dwarf was a mountain dwarf, a type known for being even hardier and dourer than the more common hill dwarves.

He was very depressed. Up until three weeks ago, he had worked as a designer at Godwin’s weapons R&D division, but an unexpected budget cut had caused many members of his department, including him, to be laid off. He needed work now, and the job market for weapons designers wasn’t very hot right now. Nor was he willing to take a job as a menial laborer. Dwarves had a lot of pride.

In fact, pride, most of it stubborn pride, was the primary reason he was here. Another reason was the anger he had at the system he had given so much to, only to be cast aside.

He watched as three people entered the room – Louis DaPen and his two bodyguards. One of the two thugs was carrying a briefcase.

“Welcome, Mr. Irons,” said DaPen, as he sat down. “So glad you could make it…”

“Pardon me for being so blunt,” replied the dwarf, “but you promised me half a million yen for simply coming to listen to you.”

“I keep my promises, Mr. Irons,” said DaPen. “Albert…”

The bodyguard put the briefcase on the table and opened it, revealing several stacks of yen notes. He pushed it towards Irons.

“Count it if you desire,” said DaPen. “You can consider this an advance payment for the services I hope to get from you.

“Now then, Max… Do you mind if I call you Max?”

The dwarf made no objection, so DaPen continued.

“I know what it’s like for people in your position… You work hard every day, trying to do an honest job… Then some bean counter brings up the budget, and figures out things that your company can do without… Before you know it, your whole department is eliminated, and you get the short end of it.”

“Technically, my department wasn’t eliminated,” replied Max. “It was ‘de-prioritized’. I don’t even know if that’s a real word.”

“I guess it was a fancy way of saying that they had more important things to spend the budget on,” said DaPen. “Nonetheless, I’m aware of some of the projects you worked on in Godwin’s employ, including the one you were working on just when your department was… ‘de-prioritized’…”

Max looked at him.

“I believe it was called, in jest, an ‘immobilization beam’,” continued DaPen. “A portable device weighing only ten pounds, capable of emitting an energy field that could paralyze not only the nervous systems of living beings, but the circuits of computerized machinery as well. Able to render virtually anything helpless. The ultimate in non-lethal weaponry.”

“Yes, in theory,” replied Max. “I was laid off before I could perfect it…”

“Well…” said DaPen. “I’d be willing to pay a great deal if you’d perfect it, working for me instead.”

Max sighed.

“It’s not that easy, Mr. DaPen,” he said. “Godwin owns the rights and patents to everything I invented while on his company time.”

DaPen shrugged.

“If you were to re-invent it,” he said, “I wouldn’t have to bother with such things.”

Max sighed again.

“It’ll be hard,” he replied. “I’d have to break into my old labs and steal the blueprints… And then do the same to get the prototype…”

“I’m sure you can handle it,” replied DaPen. “You have a few things lying around that Godwin doesn’t own, I’m sure.

“And if you can deliver the completed project to me eventually, I would pay more than he ever would… It may not be a priority for him, but it’s a big one for me…”

Max rubbed his chin hard as he thought about it…



* * * * * * * * * *


At the townhouse, Gears was going over his cards.

“Uhm,” said Ember. “If I may be so bold as to ask, what exactly is a joystealer?”

“A victim,” replied Shichiro.

“I’ll explain, Shichiro,” said Gears. “I know more about this…

“You see, Ember, usually whatever brings the Shadows to our world takes them here one at a time, but sometimes it gets greedy. There have been times in history where a whole race has made an unwilling exodus to Earth. So it was with the Eoshee.

“They were a fey race, similar to nymphs, who were full of life and joy… The name means ‘fairy nightingale’ in the fey language. They loved to dance, and sing, and it was almost impossible for anyone who wandered into a group of dancing Eoshee to hang a frown…

“The only time they ever became serious was when they were facing their mortal enemies, the Unseelie. They were a race that also made an exodus to Earth at the same time… Five-hundred years ago. Both races are immortal, as most fey are, and had been fighting for millennia.

“Unseelie are incorporeal, bodiless creatures who nourish themselves by feeding on negative emotions. To get negative emotions in other races, they did their best to cause them. They caused sadness as fast as the Eoshee drove it away. The two races despised each other.

“Eventually, without even consulting the Shadowchasers, the two races made a wager to settle their feud… Sadly, the Eoshee lost.”

“What happened?” asked Ember.

“At the time,” continued Gears, “the populations of both races were equal in number. Possibly, some strange link had existed between them from the start. The Eoshee were forced to become slaves, each one serving one Unseelie. It twisted them, as the Unseelie forced them to steal emotions for them, making their meals much easier to obtain. They became known as joystealers, as they caused sadness and depression in everything they came across.

“But shortly after this occurred, one incredibly wise and resourceful Shadowchaser looked closely into the wager itself, and found that the Unseelie had cheated in order to win. The Unseelie race was thus declared an outlaw race, and Jalal ordered the terms of the wager reversed.

“However, dealing with this particular outlaw race was tricky. The Unseelie had no clear ruler. They were a very chaotic race, their government best described as anarchy. Their only rulers were the ones with enough power to bully the weaker ones. Each Unseelie did as it pleased, and each joystealer traveled constantly, going wherever the winds would take her. And when each joystealer was approached, the Unseelie refused to bargain, saying that the Shadowchasers would have to make them give back their slaves.”

“So what did they do?” asked Ember.

“They decided they’d have to make them,” replied Gears. “Unfortunately, the joystealers numbered in the thousands at that point, and the Shadowchasers could think of no way to free a whole race from the yoke of another. The ruler of the Unseelie couldn’t be brought to trial, because there wasn’t one, and the Shadowchasers couldn’t invade the Unseelie’s homelands, because they didn’t have any.

“The joystealers would have to be hunted down and freed one at a time… It was going to be a rather long-term project…”

He sighed.

“It didn’t take long before the Shadowchasers learned how their enslavement worked,” he continued. “Since the Unseelie were bodiless phantoms, each one inhabited a sympathetic object that it forced its slave to carry. When dealing with a joystealer, a Shadowchaser would simply have to restrain her, take the object, and destroy it.

“It got harder as the Unseelie got smarter. One famous story is told about a joystealer who hid the object so well, a Shadowchaser had to tie her up, strip her of everything she was wearing, and throw it all into a bonfire in order to get the right object.”

He placed his Duel Disk on his arm.

“Fortunately, it’s become easier since Shadows started using Duel Monsters. Until then, the Unseelie didn’t care about the Treaty. But when Duel Monsters became the norm for settling disputes, they saw it as an opportunity.

“You see, the Unseelie witnessed several of their fellows defeated, and realized that their slaves were no match for the Shadowchasers in any physical fight. A lot of words are used to describe fey, but ‘muscular’ and ‘buff’ are not included in them. And their usual methods of causing fear and despair weren’t very effective against them either in a direct confrontation. So they grudgingly decided to follow the Treaty from that point on, and handle issues via dueling. Even as an outlaw race, they were allowed to benefit from the fair fight clause.”

“So they only adapted the Treaty when it benefited them to do so?” asked Ember.

“It’s not like they were the first race to exploit the loopholes in a treaty,” replied Shichiro. “Both humans and Shadows have done so many times in history.”

“I guess so,” replied Ember. “But how did that make it easier?”

“The Unseelie have adapted in a unique way,” replied Gears, “one which makes it easier to intimidate their opponents. The sympathetic object is now a key Monster in each joystealer’s deck, usually one that’s very hard to kill. Defeating it in a duel is the way to defeat the Unseelie.”

“So are you going to find this joystealer?” asked Ember.

“We all are,” replied Jinx. “These creatures feed on negative emotions, remember? Although they can simply use their powers to cause fear and sadness outright, they prefer to use intimidation and coercion to cause it to form in mortals on its own. Apparently, true emotion tastes better than artificially created emotion. Facing a joystealer leads to anguish and despair. But numbers can bolster courage in such situations.”

The four of them walked out to the garage where the three D-Wheels were parked.

“One more question,” asked Ember. “Exactly how do we find her?”

“Don’t worry,” said Shichiro, as he lifted up his helmet. “A joystealer leaves a pretty clear trail…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Truer words had rarely been spoken.

Back at the park, they found that their target had struck again. Two duelists were sitting on the grass, crying their eyes out. One of them was able to point them in the direction where their opponent had gone, so they drove down the main thoroughfare, towards the entertainment district.

Here and there, more crying duelists were around. Eventually, this trail led to a place where Ember recognized.

At the Kurumizawa Card and Hobby Shop, it was clear who the owner’s favorite Monster was. The place was full of toys, posters, and other paraphernalia that featured Dark Magician Girl. She was literally everywhere. Ember bought cards here now and then, but she truly doubted that the owner actually owned a copy of the famous card itself.

As she and the three veteran Shadowchasers walked in, the owner was one of several folks in the large store who was crying. Several duelists were sitting on the floor sobbing as well.

“She’s close by…” said Gears. “Stay together… Don’t be caught by surprise…”

“Uh, Gears…” said Ember. “Look… Over… There…”

She pointed to one of the duelists who was sitting on the floor crying, and she was clearly not human. It was a girl who looked about age fourteen (physically, at least), with long, black hair, skin that was colored hot pink, and pointed ears that were almost a foot long. She wore a green suit with a very verdant theme, along with tight green pants and odd, pointed shoes.

“Figures…” said Shichiro. “They tend to be pretty depressed themselves… The Unseelie fills them with as much pain as anyone else.”

“Careful…” said Jinx.

“I’m being careful…” said Gears, slowly walking up to the joystealer.

“Uhm, hello…” he said.

She looked up at him, and opened her eyes, which were full of tears, yet very inhuman. They were orange, with no visible pupils or irises.

“Look, just calm down,” said Gears. “You want me to help? I can end this without a fight, if you just let me help.”

The joystealer suddenly stopped crying. She stood up.

“Help?” she said. “Why would I want you to help? I love doing what I do! Crushing hopes and aspirations, showing folks how cruel the world is…”

Gears backed up.

“That’s the Unseelie talking,” he said.

The joystealer’s eyes glowed. Gears frowned.

“You dared us to make you give the Eoshee back,” said Gears, “and we’re gonna do it until you’ve given back all them!”

The joystealer chuckled.

“It can’t answer you right now,” she said, “so I’m going to have to respond for it…”

Then she blew a raspberry at Gears.

“Cute,” replied Gears. “Will it let you tell me your name?”

“Elsie,” said the joystealer. “Not that it matters… What do names mean in the grand scheme of things anyway? Once you get one, you’re stuck with it, and if you don’t like it, tough…”

Gears frowned.

“Ho boy…” muttered Shichiro.

He knew how much Gears hated his real name…

Elsie held her Duel Disk out in front of her. Gears quickly activated his.

“You’re trying to make me mad, and it won’t work,” said Gears. “I’ve already taken down one of you, and know all your cheap tricks.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” chuckled Elsie. “I have all new cheap tricks…”



(Gears: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Elsie: 8,000)


“If you don’t mind,” said Elsie, “ladies first.”

She drew a card, and then smirked as she looked over her hand.

“I’ll set this, and then these,” she said, playing four cards.

Three reversed cards, and then a reversed Monster appeared.

Then the Field Slot on Elsie’s Disk flicked open, and she placed a card in it.

“Now I’ll change the backdrop… I play The Cursed Dollhouse!”

Gears stepped back in surprise, as the whole interior of Kurumizawa became shrouded in dark mist, and then started to change. Slowly, it took shape, turning into a creepy mansion, with warped furniture and peeling wallpaper.

As he looked around, a low moan echoed through the mansion.

“Intimidating, isn’t it?” asked Elsie.

She chuckled.

“Your move…”

“Cursed Dollhouse?” asked Ember. “All that’s missing are the dolls…”

“I have a feeling we might see a few soon,” replied Jinx.

Gears drew a card. He knew in his gut that the sooner he ended this, the better. But he knew he had to force the Unseelie to show its face.

“I summon Mechanicalchaser!” he shouted.

In an aura of digital ones and zeroes, the Machine hunter appeared. (1,850 ATK)

“Get her Monster!” he shouted.

Mechanicalchaser bore its blades, and flew at the facedown Monster…

What appeared on the card was indeed a doll. A female doll, with long, blonde hair, wearing a blue dress. (1,000 DEF)

Mechanicalchaser made a swipe at it, but strangely, it only looked at Gears with a sinister smile.

“It wasn’t destroyed?” asked Gears.

“Alice the Wandering Doll can’t be destroyed in battle,” replied Elsie. “In fact, if you try to, you’ll regret it…”

Alice’s eyes glowed, and Gears felt a burning pain in his chest…



(G: 7,500) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 8,000)


“That 500 Life Points you just lost is only a small part of the curse that lies in this doll,” continued Elsie. “And there’s more. Now my Wandering Doll wanders to your side of the field.”

Alice vanished, and then reappeared on Gears’s side of the field, still in Defense Mode.

Why do I have the feeling that this is a Trojan Horse-style gift? he thought, looking at it.

“And by doing that,” continued Elsie, taking her deck from its holder, “the effect of my Field Spell activates, allowing me to Special Summon Doll Part Gold!”

The mist parted, and then a spooky pair of disembodied doll’s arms appeared in the air in front of Elsie. (0 ATK)

“Urk!” muttered Gears. “I, uhm…”

He looked at his cards.

“I guess I end my turn…”

Elsie drew a card.

“Doll Part Gold,” she said, “attack Mechanicalchaser.”

“Say WHAT?” shouted Gears. “That thing has zero Attack Points!”

Nevertheless, the two arms floated towards the large Machine. Mechanicalchaser slashed with its blade, and they shattered into bits. Elsie cringed a little.

Then one of her facedown cards lifted up.

“That lets me activate Necro Doll Meister,” she said. “Since one of my Doll Parts was destroyed, I get to summon two more.

“So, I summon Doll Part Red, and Doll Part Pink.”

The mist parted again, and two more odd pieces appeared. The first was a pair of doll’s legs, with red high heels on the feet. The second was a headless, limbless torso. (0 ATK x2)

“Continuing,” said Elsie, “I activate Birthright to bring back Doll Part Gold.”

The Trap Card lifted, and the two arms appeared again. (0 ATK)

“Arms, legs, torso…” said Gears. “All you need now is the head…”

“You want a head?” asked Elsie. “I haven’t Normal Summoned yet. So I summon Doll Part Blue.”

She threw a card on her Disk, and a head did appear. A brunette doll’s head with nasty cracks in it. (0 ATK)

“I had to ask…” muttered Gears.

Then Elsie’s last facedown card lifted up.

“Now, I activate Remove Brainwashing!” she exclaimed. “I’ll be taking my doll back now…”

Alice the Wandering Doll vanished, and reappeared back on Elsie’s side of the field, still in Defense Mode.

“I can hardly wait to see what comes next…” muttered Gears, although he actually could.

Elsie took a Spell Card from her hand, and quickly played it.

“I activate the powerful Marionette Burial!” she shouted.

Alice’s eyes glowed with evil energy, and lightning flashed. The four Doll Parts started flying around Alice in a chaotic pattern.

Then, one by one, they vanished… The Cursed Dollhouse started to shake.

“Something’s up…” said Jinx.

The dark mist rose again, and a far bigger shape started to rise out of it. After a few seconds, they saw it clearly. It looked like a huge, naked, female mannequin, covered with cracks and scars, crawling on all fours. Its eyes glowed with sinister light. (0 ATK)

“Good lord…” said Shichiro. “It looks like what Dr. Frankenstein would have made if he made toys…”

“Zero attack points?” asked Ember.

“Doll Chimera starts at zero,” replied Elsie. “But for each Doll Part in my Graveyard, it gains 400 more Attack Points.”

A dark aura of energy surrounded Doll Chimera. (1,600 ATK)

“And that will end my turn…”



(G: 7,500) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 6,150)


Gears slowly drew a card.

Shouldn’t be too hard… he thought. Sure, it’s scary, but I’ve seen stronger Monsters…

“Are you certain it will be as easy as you think?” said a sinister voice he had not heard before.

Gears looked around for the source of the voice.

“You’re the Unseelie, aren’t you?” he whispered.

“I can’t fool you,” it said. “And I would walk with caution if I were you…

“You may have more Life Points right now… You may have the stronger Monster…

“But think, Gears… Would my slave have wasted so many cards summoning something that you could vanquish with one blow?

“Unnerving, isn’t it?”

Gears paused. He looked in the face of Doll Chimera, and a chill ran down his spine.

It’s got a point… he thought. I’ve never heard of Doll Chimera before… And Elsie did use a pretty complex process to summon something with only a mediocre Attack Score… It’s likely hiding a dark secret or two… I’d better be careful…

“I activate the Spell Card, Take Over 5!” he exclaimed, playing a card. “This lets me send five cards from my deck to my Graveyard!”

He took five cards from the top of his deck, and quickly discarded them.

“All right!” he shouted. “Mechanicalchaser, destroy Doll Chimera!”

The Machine flew at Doll Chimera, and struck with its blades. Doll Chimera didn’t shatter, but simply fell apart, falling into its component limbs.

“Yeah…” said Gears.

Then his smile quickly faded as the limbs rose back up off the floor.

“Doll Chimera won’t be destroyed so easily,” said Elsie, holding up two copies of Doll Part Pink. “If that happens, I can discard two Doll Parts from my deck to rebuild it.”

Doll Chimera reappeared, this time with a torso that appeared to be made up of three segments.

“And with two more Doll Parts in my Graveyard, it’s stronger than it was before…”

(2,400 ATK)

“Why do I get the feeling that this is gonna be one of those days I was sorry I got out of bed?” asked Gears.

He set a card on his Disk.

“I’ll set a Monster, and then end my turn…”

A facedown Monster appeared next to Mechanicalchaser.



(G: 7,500) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 5,900)


“I draw!” shouted Elsie, drawing one card.

She looked at it.

“Now I play it… The powerful Card of Safe Return.”

A Continuous Spell Card appeared in front of her.

“Now I get to draw one card whenever a Monster is Special Summoned from my Graveyard. Until then…

“Doll Chimera… Dismantle his Mechanicalchaser!”

Doll Chimera leapt into the air and pounced, slashing at the Machine on the way down. Sparks flew from Mechanicalchaser, and it exploded.

Gears heard the Unseelie’s sinister laughter in his ears.

Have to focus… he thought.



(G: 6,950) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 5,900)


“Only an Unseelie could turn the symbols of childhood into nightmares…” he muttered.

“Childhood IS a nightmare, Gears,” replied Elsie. “Anyone who says otherwise is selling toys and fast food. That’s a sad truth that people don’t want kids to know, something they try to keep hidden from us.”

“Huh?” asked Gears.

“People talk about the ‘halcyon days of youth’,” continued Elsie, “wanting to discover ‘the child within’ suggesting that childhood is a happy, blissful time. Let me tell you Gears… It’s a crock.

“Tell me that you liked carrying a fifty-pound bag of textbooks to school every day because of the homework that a typical teacher assigns for students.”

“Uhm…” said Gears. “Come to think of it, I didn’t like that all too much…”

“Tell me that you liked wrestling the bigger kids in a gym class run by a teacher who told you baloney about it ‘building character’,” continued Elsie. “Tell me that you liked being analyzed by the guidance counselors who were only doing the job because they weren’t smart enough to become real psychologists. Tell me you liked getting noogies, wedgies, wet willies, and all the other indignities that older kids inflict on younger ones.”

“Uhm…” said Gears. “Actually, I didn’t like any of that…”

“She kind of raises a good point…” muttered Shichiro.

“And the older kids don’t escape justice forever,” continued Elsie. “As soon as they graduate and move on to more advanced schools, they become the youngest kids, and they become the victims of the older kids there.

“And once you become an adult, all of the dreams you had as a kid become impractical, and you face the reality of life. Heh… I laugh at the muscle-bound jocks that make fun of kids who are labeled as ‘nerds’. In a few years, they’re going to be asking those nerds for jobs!

“So why shouldn’t I use cards that just show the truth behind the veil that they put up? Life is cruel and frightening, Gears, and for children, who aren’t as knowledgeable as adults, it’s downright horrifying.

“And it’s your move…”

Gears slowly drew a card.

He held his head.

I won’t let it get to me… he thought. Can’t sink into despair… It makes a good point, sure, but I can’t let it convince me that my whole life is hopeless…

He looked at Elsie.

For a brief instant, he envisioned Mistle…

He smiled a little.

“I use the effect of Take Over 5!” he exclaimed. “Since I used it last turn, I can remove it from play this turn, to draw one card.”

The Spell Card slipped out of his discard slot, and he pocketed it. He made one draw.

Sweet, he thought.

“I play Silent Doom,” he said, playing a Spell Card, “to summon something I discarded with that Spell… Bokoichi the Freightening Car!”

In a flash of energy, Bokoichi appeared in front of him. (500 DEF)

“Next, Machine Duplication!” he shouted, playing a new Spell Card. “I’ll summon two more Bokoichis!”

Two more Freightening Cards appeared. (500 DEF x2)

“Next, I Flip-Summon Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive!”

His facedown card flipped up, and Dekoichi appeared, with black smoke pouring from its stack. (1,400 ATK)

“All right!” shouted Jinx. “Now Gears gets to draw four times!”

Gears quickly made four draws.

“Now, I sacrifice Dekoichi and one Bokoichi…”

The locomotive and one freight vanished.

“To summon Perfect Machine King!”

In an explosion of electrical energy, the king of Machines rose on Gears’s side of the field. (2,700 ATK)

“And since I have two other Machines on the field,” he continued, “it gains 1,000 more Attack Points!”

(3,700 ATK)

“Take out Doll Chimera!” he shouted. “Mega missile assault!”

Perfect Machine King’s optic sensors glowed red, as the hatches on its shoulders opened, and a volley of heavy artillery fired. Elsie braced herself as Doll Chimera was blown to shards and The Cursed Dollhouse shook.



(G: 6,950) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 4,600)


Then Gears heard that evil laugh again.

“Weren’t you listening the first time?” mocked the Unseelie. “You can’t destroy Doll Chimera that way… Show him, Elsie…

Elsie discarded two copies of Doll Part Red. Slowly, Doll Chimera rose again, sprouting two extra pairs of legs in the process. (3,200 ATK)

“And due to Card of Safe Return,” said Elsie, “I get to draw one card.”

She made a draw.

“Fine,” said Gears, taking two more cards from his hand. “I’ll set these facedown, and end my turn.”

Two facedown cards appeared.

“Gears is in trouble,” said Jinx. “If he smashes that thing again, it’s just gonna get stronger.”

“Even worse,” replied Shichiro, “Gears usually uses Catastor to solve tough problems like this. But since that thing’s obviously a Dark Monster, it’s immune to Catastor’s effect.”

Elsie drew a second time.

“Time for someone new,” she said, playing a card. “I summon Malice Doll of Demise!”

There was a loud cackle, and a dark aura appeared next to Alice. Then, an evil-looking, wooden puppet holding a nasty axe appeared from out of it. (1,600 ATK)

“Attack one of the Bokoichis!” she shouted. “Cleaver heaver!”

Malice Doll of Demise hurled its axe at the Freightening Car. Gears frowned.

I can’t waste my Trap on this thing… he thought. I have to wait for Doll Chimera…

The Machine’s eyes bugged out, and then it exploded into slag. Perfect Machine King’s Attack Score fell to 3,200.

“Doll Chimera, attack Perfect Machine King!” shouted Elsie.

“The battle will be a draw!” shouted Ember.

“True,” replied Jinx. “But Elsie will just bring it back so it can attack again!”

Doll Chimera scurried towards Perfect Machine King…

“I activate…” shouted Gears, “Sakuretsu Armor!”

One of his facedown cards shot up, and Doll Chimera was blown to pieces again.

“Try bringing it back now,” he said.

“As you wish,” said Elsie, holding up two copies of Doll Part Gold.

She discarded them, and Doll Chimera quickly put itself back together again, this time sprouting four more arms. (4,000 ATK)



Continued…

Dark Sage
11th February 2009, 02:52 AM
Continued from last post:



“What the…” said Gears. “It can be revived if destroyed by battle AND by card effects?”

“Starting to realize how slim you chances are yet, Gears?” laughed the Unseelie.

Card of Safe Return glowed, and Elsie drew a card.

Doll Chimera rushed at Perfect Machine King again.

“I hate to do this…” muttered Gears, looking at Perfect Machine King. “Sorry old pal… I activate… Overworked!”

His other Trap Card shot up.

“This Trap Card destroys all Monsters on the field whose Attack Scores are higher than their base scores. Unfortunately, that means it destroys Perfect Machine King. But since Doll Chimera’s base score is zero, it’s going too!”

Both Perfect Machine King and Doll Chimera were blown to pieces.

Elsie grinned evilly,

She discarded two copies of Doll Part Blue, and Doll Chimera rose again, bigger than ever before, now with three heads on its shoulders. (4,800 ATK)

She drew a card again, as Card of Safe Return glowed.

“I can’t believe it!” shouted Ember. “The thing just keeps getting uglier!”

“Destroy his last Monster!” shouted Elsie.

Doll Chimera’s fist came down on the Bokoichi, smashing it flat.

“Why does Gears keep destroying it?” shouted Ember. “It just comes back stronger and stronger!”

“No, I see his plan,” said Shichiro.

“Huh?” asked Ember.

“Well,” said Shichiro. “As we know, Doll Chimera has four component parts… Blue, Pink, Red, and Gold. Elsie has to discard two of them to resurrect it.

“But, she’s only allowed to have three copies of each in her deck. I do believe that she’s discarded all of them now. All Gears will have to do is destroy it one more time, and Doll Chimera will stay dead. And since it seems to be a NOMI, I don’t think she’ll be able to bring it back.

“I just hope he can…”

Yeah… thought Gears, looking at the huge Monster. Shouldn’t be too hard… It’s only… Three-hundred points stronger… Than Kaiba’s Ultimate Dragon…

Elsie placed two cards in her Disk, and two reversed cards appeared.

“That should do it…” she said. “I guess it’s your move…”

Gears drew a card.

Just what I needed… he thought. This may be the last chance…

“I’m going to summon the Tuner Monster, Trap Eater,” he said, holding a card forward. “But I can’t Normal Summon it. I have to Special Summon it by sending a face-up Trap Card to the Graveyard.”

“Talk about dumb,” said Elsie. “You don’t have a face-up Trap Card.”

“I said A Trap Card, not mine,” replied Gears. “I’m sending that one.”

He pointed to Elsie’s Remove Brainwashing, and it disappeared.

Then a weird Fiend appeared in front of Gears. It looked like it was almost all mouth, with sharp teeth and beady eyes. (1,900 ATK)

“Next, I’ll Normal Summon Ally of Justice Garadholg!”

In an aura of energy, Garadholg appeared next to Trap Eater. (1,600 ATK)

“Now, I Tune my two Monsters together! Go!”

Trap Eater let out a throaty laugh, and then it and Garadholg flew to the ceiling of The Cursed Dollhouse, where they burst into eight shimmering stars…

“I Synchro Summon… Ally of Justice Light Gazer!”

A new robot appeared, landing in front of Gears. It was a droid shaped like an inverted pear, with glowing eyes, blasters for arms, a hovering pad in place of legs, and a metal ring surrounding it covered with lights. (2,400 ATK)

“Do you actually think that thing can do the job?” laughed the Unseelie. “Doll Chimera is twice as strong!”

“We’ll see,” said Gears. “Light Gazer, attack Malice Doll of Demise! Plasma cannon!”

Light Gazer fired a blast of pure energy from one of the blasters on its arms, and the evil puppet exploded in a burst of flames and wood splinters.

Elsie scowled at him.



(G: 6,950) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 3,800)


“I set one card facedown…” said Gears, as a reversed card appeared on his side of the field, “and I end my turn…”

Elsie drew a card.

“Doll Chimera,” she ordered, “destroy Light Gazer!”

Doll Chimera’s eyes glowed with evil light. It rushed at Light Gazer.

“I activate…” shouted Gears, “Limiter Removal!”

His facedown Quickplay Spell Card lifted up, and Light Gazer glowed with an aura of pure power… (4,800 ATK)

“All right!” cheered Ember. “The battle will end in a draw… But Elsie won’t be able to bring back Doll Chimera!”

“Or so you think,” laughed Elsie. “Trap Card, activate…”

Her facedown card lifted up.

“The Transmigration Prophecy!” she shouted. “Now, I get to return two cards in either Graveyard to the owners’ decks.

“So, I’ll send two copies of Doll Part Blue back to my deck…”

Two of Doll Chimera’s heads vanished, and its Attack Score fell to 4,000.

“Of course, that means Light Gazer wins this battle…”

Light Gazer fired a powerful blast, and Doll Chimera was blown to pieces again.

“…but wouldn’t you know it… I have two Doll Parts to discard again!”

She discarded both Doll Parts – Blue again, and Doll Chimera appeared again, once more with three heads. (4,800 ATK)

Card of Safe Return glowed, and she drew one card.

“Seems your plan just went up in smoke… And so will Light Gazer once I end my turn, due to the side effect of Limiter Removal.

“Okay, Gears, I’m ending my turn NOW.”

Light Gazer exploded into shards of light.



(G: 6,950) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 3,000)


Gears sighed. He hung his head and closed his eyes. He was pretty much out of ideas at this point…

“Why don’t you just give up, Gears?” mocked the Unseelie. “I’ve been one step ahead of you this whole duel, and you won’t be able to resist forever.

“I can feel the despair starting to rise in you… I know how you’re trying to keep me out, by the way… You’re keeping that nymph in the front of your mind… Well, she’s not here. All that’s here is me, my pawn, and your three allies who can’t seem to help you at all.

“So…”

Then Gears’s eyes snapped open as a sudden realization came to him.

“Closing my eyes…” he muttered. “I just realized something…”

He pointed to Elsie.

“I’ve found you!” he shouted.

“What?” said Shichiro. “What is it, Gears?”

Gears laughed.

“Simple,” he replied. “I just realized I’ve been upside-down in my approach to this problem the whole time.

“Oh, it was a clever plan… The Unseelie made us think that the sympathetic object was Doll Chimera…”

“You mean it isn’t?” asked Jinx.

“No,” replied Gears. “Doll Chimera is the main offensive force in Elsie’s deck, but it serves another purpose. To draw attention away from the card that truly houses the Unseelie. Its large, overwhelming, and incredibly evil presence is so distracting, everyone can’t help but assume that it’s the Unseelie.

“That thing has been taunting me throughout the whole duel. But when my eyes were closed, and I wasn’t distracted by what I was seeing, I realized where the voice was truly coming from…

“The Unseelie isn’t Doll Chimera…

“…it’s Alice the Wandering Doll!”

Elsie gasped. Then Alice smiled a wicked smile.

“So, you’ve found me,” said the Unseelie’s voice. “As if it will help you. Don’t you remember my effect? I can’t be destroyed!”

Gears drew a card.

“I beg to differ!” he shouted, playing another. “I summon Nanobreaker!”

In a flash of energy, the armored, sword-wielding, female android appeared. (1,600 ATK)

“How is she going to hurt me?” asked the Unseelie.

“With her effect!” answered Gears. “When Nanobreaker attacks a Monster that’s Level 3 or less, that Monster is automatically destroyed, and damage calculation is ignored.

“It’s all in her name; ‘nano’, which is Latin for ‘very small’ and ‘breaker’, meaning, uhm, she breaks them.”

Elsie gasped and looked at the card on her Disk.

Gears had something. Alice was Level 3.

“Nanobreaker!” shouted Gears. “Attack that demon with nano-blade!”

Nanobreaker leapt into the air, holding her sword above her head. For the first time, the expression on Alice’s face changed from one of confidence to one of fear. The android slashed at the evil doll with her blade.

“NOOOOOO!” screamed the Unseelie as cracks started to appear over Alice.

Then lightning flashed, and a haunting laughter echoed through the building. Gears watched, as black smoke poured from the crumbling remains of Alice the Wandering Doll.

The smoke formed a horned face, and two clawed arms. The creature laughed.

“Too bad…” said the Unseelie. “Too bad… I was having so much fun with Elsie… But all things must come to an end sometime, I guess…

“But before I leave, I’ll give her and you a little parting gift to remember me by…”

Elsie’s last facedown card shot up.

“I activate Released Curse! Now, the full power of my curse is released in one tremendous blast!”

“Uh, people?” said Shichiro. “Maybe we should… Brace ourselves…”

Everyone did, as the whole field was consumed in an explosion of black fire. Doll Chimera, Nanobreaker, Card of Safe Return, and The Cursed Dollhouse itself were all blown apart in the evil conflagration.



(G: 6,150) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 2,100)


When Gears dared look again, the whole field had been wiped out. Elsie had fallen on her rump, and looked dizzy.

Slowly, she started to change. Her hot pink skin faded to a rich, tan color, and her eyes turned human-like, with beautiful green irises.

She looked at her hands.

“It…” she muttered “It’s gone…

“I’m free… After all these years…”

She stood up.

“And it couldn’t resist triggering that Trap on the way out…” she muttered. “Unseelie are the biggest egotists, loudmouths, and show-offs in existence. I should know… It clearly was going to leave with a bang rather than a whimper.”

“So, now what?” asked Gears.

Elsie smiled. And then she giggled, showing a small bit of happiness for the first time.

“Well, as long as we’re dueling,” she said, “there’s no point in not finishing…”

“Uhm, okay…” said Gears. “But no strings attached…”

“Never again!” laughed Elsie. “It was a wager that got us into that mess to begin with. It’s still your turn, I believe…”

“You got it,” said Gears, taking two cards from his hand. “I set one card facedown, and then play Monster Reborn.”

A facedown card appeared, and then the golden ankh appeared. Nanobreaker appeared once again. (1,600 ATK)

The Unseelie seems to be gone, he thought. But just in case…

“My move…” said Elsie.

She went to draw. Then she paused before doing so. She looked at the three cards she already had.

“You know, Gears…” she said slowly. “The Unseelie had to sleep sometimes… It wasn’t controlling me constantly. And in one of the rare times I had to myself, I put a certain card in this deck without its knowledge. I never dared play it… Doing so would be a sign of rebellion…

“But if I draw the right card right now, I’ll finally be able to use it…

“What do you think?”

“Go for it,” said Gears, giving her a thumbs up. “After all, you can’t have too many cards left at this point…”

Elsie closed her eyes and drew a card.

She laughed out loud as she saw what it was.

“In your face, Unseelie!” she laughed.

“Since you have a Monster on your side of the field, and I don’t have any, I can Special Summon Level Warrior!”

In a burst of colorful stars, a much more radiant figure appeared. It looked like an action figure dressed in a red superhero costume, with a cape, and big golden stars on both its chest and mask. (300 ATK)

“And since I Special Summoned it using its effect, its Level becomes 4.

“Next, I play my own Monster Reborn to bring Malice Doll of Demise back from the Graveyard.”

The holy ankh appeared again, and the doll-like Fiend appeared. (1,600 ATK)

“Next, the Spell Card, Lightwave Tuning! I get to choose one Level 4 Light Monster, and it becomes a Tuner for this round. So I’ll choose Level Warrior!”

She played the card, and Level Warrior glowed with energy.

“Now, I Tune them together!”

Level Warrior and Malice Doll of Demise dissolved into eight glowing stars. Slowly a tall form started to appear…

“I Synchro Summon… Blessed Iris!”

A new Monster appeared in front of Elsie. It was a beautiful woman, dressed in gossamer, scintillating robes, with long, golden hair, and wings on her back that glowed with all the colors of the rainbow. She held a long, golden scepter and wore a golden tiara. (2,200 ATK)

“Okay,” said Gears. “Nothing I can’t handle…”

“She has a special ability,” replied Elsie. “Once per round, I can remove from play a Dark Monster in my Graveyard.”

Doll Chimera fell out of her discard slot.

“See you in my nightmares, Doll Chimera,” she said, as Iris glowed with radiant energy.

“And now, with Doll Chimera truly dead, Blessed Iris gains 300 more Attack Points times its Level.”

(3,700 ATK)

“Not bad…” muttered Gears.

“Blessed Iris,” exclaimed Elsie, “attack! Prismatic ray”

Iris pointed her scepter, and shot a spray of rainbow colored lights at Nanobreaker. Gears reeled as his Monster was blown to pieces.



(G: 4,050) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 2,100)


“And by the way,” said Elsie, “That increase in Attack Score doesn’t go away until the end of your next turn, and I can do it again next round. It’s your move, Gears.”

“So now what?” asked Ember.

“Don’t count Gears out yet,” replied Shichiro. “He’s full of surprises.”

Gears quickly made a draw.

“Well, Elsie,” he said, “time to bring this to a close…”

His facedown card lifted up.

“I activate Birthright,” he said. “Now I can bring a Normal Monster back from the Graveyard. And I’ll bring back one that I tossed when I used Take Over 5… Ally of Justice Claíomh Solais.”

In a flash of light, the large, robotic bird of prey appeared. (2,300 ATK)

“That’s no match for Iris,” replied Elsie.

“But I have something that is,” added Gears. “I summon Ally of Justice Unknown Crusher.”

He played the card, and a new Machine appeared with a trumpeting noise. It resembled, more than anything, a robotic elephant with a glowing node on the end of its trunk. (1,200 ATK)

“Iris is far stronger than that,” said Elsie.

“Well, it’s gonna attack anyway,” said Gears. “Unknown Crusher, attack Blessed Iris with particle beam!”

Unknown Crusher trumpeted, and fired a beam of blue energy from its trunk at Blessed Iris. Iris simply swatted the blast away, and the Machine exploded into slag. Gears cringed from the impact.



(G: 1,550) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 2,100)


“Perfect,” he said, catching his breath. “My Monster may have lost… But when Unknown Crusher battles a Light Monster, that Monster is removed from play, regardless of the outcome of the battle.”

Elsie gasped as her Monster simply vanished into nothing.

“Claíomh Solais,” said Gears, “let’s finish this. Attack directly.”

Elsie closed her eyes as Claíomh Solais shot a blast of fire at her. And as the flames covered her, she didn’t flinch. In fact, she smiled.

She fell on her knees, and let out a long sigh…



(G: 1,550) - - - - - - - - - - (E: 0)



* * * * * * * * * *


The three veterans and one rookie walked out of the card store with Elsie following.

“So, what will you do now, Elsie?” asked Ember.

Elsie looked over the tall buildings of Neo Domino.

“I already have plans,” she said, somberly.

She looked at her Duel Disk. Then she looked at the Blessed Iris card.

“I may be free,” she said, “but there are more joystealers out there. So many more of my sisters are still enslaved by those awful things…

“Just looking out and listening, I can hear some of them crying, even from miles away. The Shadowchasers can’t get to all of them alone.

“I’ll build a new deck… I’ll seek them out… And the Unseelie will have to answer to me. Maybe I’ll find more Eoshee who have been freed and convince them to do the same.

“I have faith that someday, even if it takes several more mortal generations, the scam that those cheaters pulled on us will be completely undone.

“Someday, the Eoshee will have a reason to dance again, just like we used to.”

“And we’ll be here to help,” said Gears. “Keep in touch…”

“You keep in touch too,” said Elsie. “I may be able to help myself one of these days. After all, I’ve been on Earth for a long time…”

As they watched her walk off, Shichiro’s cell phone rang. He looked at the number, and saw that it was Jalal.

He answered it.

“Go ahead, boss,” he said.

He listened.

“Uh huh… Uh huh… Yeah…”

He hung up.

“We gotta get back to the townhouse, guys,” he says. “Jalal has something so important, he can’t say it over the phone.”

“Might be bad news…” replied Jinx.



* * * * * * * * * *


Twenty minutes later, the four of them were sitting in the comfortable lounge with the ever-burning fire, waiting for Jalal.

Eventually, he appeared, with a look of concern on his face.

“What’s up, Jalal?” asked Shichiro.

“Plenty,” he replied. “I identified that sword that Jinx recovered.

“First, a question: How would you describe the typical relation between high elves and dwarves?”

“Uneasy allies at best,” replied Jinx, “fierce rivals more often.”

“True,” replied Jalal. “But one-thousand years ago, all of the high elf and dwarf clans on Earth were very close allies, bonded together in a pact against their mutual enemies. It was perhaps the only time the two races could be called actual friends.

“In the midst of this alliance, the greatest dwarven smiths of the Goldhammer Clan forged the Regalia of Day, a trio of swords that would symbolize the alliance between the two races by helping them oppose their mutual enemies. They are weapons of great magical power, and naturally, symbolic status. They’ve been hidden away for quite some time. Many dwarf and elf clan leaders would love to see them recovered and their secrets unraveled, if only to make peace between the two races again.

“The one that you recovered, Jinx, is called the Sword of Twilight, sometimes called the Sword of Dawn by optimists and the Sword of Dusk by pessimists. It is a powerful weapon that gave the two races the strength to defeat the savage humanoids that they warred against, the orcs, goblins, and their allies.

“Then there was the Sword of Noon. A mighty blade that channeled the radiant power of the sun at its strongest, it possessed the power to slay vile undead creatures and necromantic creations.

“Finally, the Sword of Midnight, a weapon possessing the mystical energy of the moon. It gave the two races the courage and energy to fight off their sinister foes from the deep, subterranean realms where no light shone… The dark elves and the foul aberrations.

“We have the Sword of Twilight now… I believe it is in our best interests to find the other two before whoever was smuggling them does.”

“Are they that dangerous?” asked Gears.

“To quote a cliché,” replied Jalal, “only in the wrong hands. But we are in luck. I’ve located their hiding places.

“The Sword of Noon is in New Mexico, while the Sword of Midnight is in Germany.”

“In that case,” said Shichiro, “I suggest we call Sofia and Hank.”

“No need,” replied Jalal. “I already have…”



Now, this was the first time I had heard the names Sofia and Hank mentioned. They were Shadowchasers too, but not ones that I would see on a regular basis. Sofia was a Shadowchaser who worked in the American Southwest, while Hank was one who limited his activities to Europe.

You see, Shadow activities occurred all over the world, and everywhere there was Shadow, there was a need for Shadowchasers. Jalal’s organization was global in nature. There were Shadowchasers in every geographic location. Possibly the only places where there weren’t any stationed were the Arctic and Antarctic, but Jalal could send some there if it was necessary.

That was one benefit to being a Shadowchaser. No matter where you went, anywhere in the world, you were never far from an ally.



ALLY OF JUSTICE LIGHT GAZER (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine/Synchro/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 8
ATK: 2,400
DEF: 1,200

Card Description: Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner Monsters

Increase this card’s ATK by 200 points for each LIGHT Monster in your opponent’s Graveyard.



ALLY OF JUSTICE UNKNOWN CRUSHER (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 3
ATK: 1,200
DEF: 400

Card Description: When this card battles a LIGHT Monster, remove that Monster from play.

Note: “Ally of Justice Light Gazer” and “Ally of Justice Unknown Crusher” were released in Japan for the “Duel Terminal 2: Invasion of Worms!!” system. They have not yet been released in the United States.



TAKE OVER 5 (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: Five cards flying from a Duel Disk.

Card Description: Send the top five cards from your deck to the Graveyard. During your next Standby Phase, if this card is in your Graveyard, remove it from play to draw 1 card. While this card is in your Graveyard, negate the effects of cards you control that send your cards from your deck to the Graveyard.

Note: “Take Over 5” was first used by Judai in a fourth season episode of “Yu-Gi-Oh GX”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



DOLL PART BLUE/GOLD/PINK/RED (Monster Cards)

Card Specs

Type: Spellcaster
Attribute: Dark
Level: 1
ATK: 0
DEF: 0

Flavor Text: A cursed doll that has been broken into pieces. Its power can only be unleashed if it is fixed.



ALICE THE WANDERING DOLL (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Spellcaster/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 3
ATK: 300
DEF: 1,000

Card Description: This card cannot be destroyed as a result of battle. When this card is attacked, inflict 500 points of damage to your opponent and switch control of this card to your opponent at the end of the Damage Step.



DOLL CHIMERA (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Spellcaster/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 5
ATK: 0
DEF: 0

Card Description: This card cannot be Normal Summoned or set. This card cannot be Special Summoned except via the effect of “Marionette Burial” or via its own effect. This card gains 400 Attack Points for each “Doll Part” Monster in your Graveyard. If this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard, you can discard 2 “Doll Part” Monsters from your deck to the Graveyard to Special Summon it in Attack Position.



THE CURSED DOLLHOUSE (Spell Card)

Field Spell

Image: A rickety old dollhouse in a dark wood.

Card Description: When control of an “Alice the Wandering Doll” changes, the previous controller may Special Summon a “Doll Part” Monster from his/her deck.



MARIONETTE BURIAL (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: A coffin in a grave with a rose on top.

Card Description: You may activate this card when you have an “Alice the Wandering Doll” face-up on your side of the field. Offer 1 “Doll Part Blue”, 1 “Doll Part Gold”, 1 “Doll Part Red”, and 1 “Doll Part Pink” as Tributes to Special Summon 1 “Doll Chimera” from your hand or deck.



NECRO DOLL MEISTER (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: A pair of hands with tools working on a grim-looking doll, while similar dolls lie beneath it.

Card Description: You may activate this card when a “Doll Part” Monster you control is destroyed in battle. Special Summon 2 “Doll Part” Monsters from your hand or deck in Attack Position.



RELEASED CURSE (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: Alice the Wandering Doll sitting in the lotus position, glowing with evil energy.

Card Description: You may activate this card when an “Alice the Wandering Doll” is destroyed. Destroy all cards on the field. Each player loses 300 Life Points for each of his/her cards that are destroyed by this effect.

Note: The proceeding seven cards were first used by Alice in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” episode “What a Doll!” Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



BLESSED IRIS (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fairy/Synchro/Effect
Attribute: Light
Level: 8
ATK: 2,200
DEF: 1,800

Card Description: Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner Monsters

Once per turn, during your turn, you can remove from play one DARK Monster in your Graveyard. Increase the ATK of this card by 300x the Level of the removed Monster until the End Phase of your opponent’s next turn.



Coming up next:

Wherever there are Shadows, there are Shadowchasers. Next chapter, we move away from Neo Domino and across the Pacific, where a lone Shadowchaser finds the Sword of Noon in the New Mexico desert. But she is not alone, and must fight for it when a servant of the ones in charge of smuggling the first Sword shows up, armed with another powerful deck. “Deck Lockdown” is coming soon.

Shuppet Master
12th February 2009, 09:10 AM
Awesomesauce, we're going to see dueling outside of Neo Domino! Can't wait to see these guys.

So basically, Gears fought a Dool Chimera deck, and after being freed, the Eoshee asked to finish the duel. Nice touch.

Keep up the good work, Brian.

Dark Sage
15th February 2009, 08:19 AM
CHAPTER THIRTEEN




http://www.ideal808.com/images/lodt_en060.jpg



New Mexico…

It is nicknamed The Land of Enchantment, due to the beauty and wonder of its natural splendor.

And despite being the sixth most sparsely-populated state in America, there was still a need for a Shadowchaser here every now and then. Shadow clans populated both the deserts and the few metropolitan areas.

As Jalal was talking to us, it was ten AM in Neo Domino, which meant that in Albuquerque, it was six PM of the previous day.

And on a highway thirty miles north of that city, a lone Shadowchaser piloted her D-Wheel, her goal within sight…




Breakin' rocks in the... hot sun,
I fought the law and the... law won,
I fought the law and the... law won.
I needed money, 'cause I... had none,
I fought the law and the... law won,
I fought the law and the... law won.

This classic tune by the Bobby Fuller Four played on the XM radio of the D-Wheel driving down a lonely desert highway. The driver was ever alert.

As a Shadowchaser, Sofia was mostly a loner. She did belong to a group, but that group handled the entire American Southwest, a large and sparsely populated area (compared to the rest of the States). As a result, it was very rare for her whole group to work together on one project. Most of the time, they were very spread-out, and handled the problems that arose alone.

As the sun was starting to set, she was piloting her D-Wheel towards an area that had a significance that very few remembered.

Once she got there, she switched off the radio and quickly turned, and drove off the road. It was no problem for her D-Wheel – it had been customized to handle all-terrain driving.

After driving off-road for about a half mile, she came to a stop.

She got off, and removed her helmet. She was a tall woman, dressed in jeans and a brown hiking shirt, with curly, chestnut hair. She had a pack strapped to her back – it paid to be prepared in these parts – and her sword was strapped under it (the weapon was standard-issue for Shadowchasers, no matter what their location).

She hit the command on her D-Wheel, and her Duel Disk disengaged, clamping onto her gauntlet. She hadn’t seen anyone following her yet, but she wasn’t going to take any chances. Then she took the cowboy hat that was strapped to the back of her seat and put it on (she’d feel naked without it).

As she started to walk into the brush, she hit a number on her cell phone.

“Yeah, I’m here Jalal,” she said. “I know where I’m going.

“When most folks think of the gold rush of 1849, they think of California. But New Mexico saw some activity too. There used to be a town here, with a mine and all the hustle and bustle and fanfare… A lot of the prospectors who came here were dwarves from various American clans, hoping to strike it rich just like anyone else.

“But the mine went dry, and everyone moved on. The buildings came down, and almost nothing was left…

“Almost, that is… They left behind one thing…”

Sofia looked ahead, and saw the old, derelict cemetery. The town’s proverbial “Boot Hill”, which had not been removed.

“I’ll get back to you, boss,” she said, and hung up.

Sofia took another device out of her pocket, which looked somewhat like a blackberry. She turned it on, and walked through the cemetery, looking at the names on the graves. The words on the wooden headstones were sun faded, and most were unreadable, but she could read some of them. She knew that some of the names were clearly dwarven in nature, something that the town’s undertaker never realized. Dwarven surnames were the same as their clan names, and such a name often included the word for a metal, gemstone, tool, weapon, or combination of two of them in it.

Then she saw the headstone she was looking for. One that was simply labeled, “Unknown”.

She held up the device, and a light on it started to flash. Jalal’s information had been right on the money. This grave held no body.

If she were the typical archaeologist, this was the point where she’d use a shovel. But the Shadowchasers had far easier and quicker means.

Sofia quickly opened her backpack, and took out four devices that looked like metal tent stakes. She pushed them into the ground, forming a rectangular pattern in front of the grave.

Then, she pushed a button on the handheld device, and all four started to glow. Then the glow turned to a blinding light.

When Sofia looked again, a sword was lying on the ground in front of the grave in an old sheath.

She picked it up, and drew the sword halfway out. The blade glowed with a warm light, radiating heat like that of the midday sun. The same strange runes that Jinx saw on the Sword of Twilight were on the hilt and blade.

“The Sword of Noon…” said Sofia, nodding.

She sheathed it again, and looked around. She knew she had best get back to her bike before anyone showed up.

Then she heard the galloping of hooves coming her way. A fog started to rise.

Too late.

She stood her ground, and prepared to face whoever was coming. She knew that whoever the rider was likely was someone who meant her no good.

She saw the rider come out of the fog. It was not a Mundane horse, that was for sure. Its bright red hair gave away its Shadow nature. Riding the horse was a janni similar to Rasul, dressed in clothing with a far-more Western theme.

“Whoa,” he said, pulling the horse to a stop.

He looked at Sofia.

“Howdy, ma’am,” he said.

“Don’t ‘howdy’ me,” said Sofia. “What do you want?”

“Just what I came to get,” said the janni. “Musafa al Bin Ban, at your service. And I thank you for digging up that sword. The man who owns this property will be grateful for its recovery.”

Sofia’s eyes narrowed. Who was this guy trying to kid? This land was state-owned.

She decided to play along with him for now.

“I’ll have to see some authorization,” she said.

Bin Ban smirked. He dismounted, and took an envelope out of his coat. He handed it to Sofia.

Sofia opened the envelope and read the document inside slowly.

“You don’t mind if I call the number here to confirm this, do you?” she asked.

Without waiting for an answer, she opened her cell phone. A look of worry appeared on Bin Ban’s face.

Slowly, he inched towards the Sword of Noon…

Before he could reach it, Sofia spun around, drew her own blade, and pointed it at his throat.

“Okay, buddy,” she said. “Start talking. This land is owned by the government of New Mexico, not by the man on this phony document.”

Bin Ban nervously held his hands up.

“If that’s true,” he said, “it isn’t wise to be digging up stuff around here, now is it?”

“I have a permit to do so,” replied Sofia. “I have a researcher’s license to excavate archaeological artifacts.”

“Oh… So you do…” muttered Bin Ban. “Tell you what, Shadowchaser… What would you say to a wager?”

“A wager?” asked Sofia.

“We duel for the Sword of Noon,” replied Bin Ban.

“And why would I agree to that?” asked Sofia.

“If I lose,” replied Bin Ban, “I’ll tell you who wants it.”

Sofia thought for a second.

She sheathed her own sword.

“Okay, that may be worth my time…” she said. “I accept your challenge.”

Bin Ban grinned.

This will be easy, he thought. No duelist can defeat my Ultimate Lock Deck!

Bin Ban backed up, and slipped a Duel Disk on his arm. Sofia grinned, and activated her own.

“Let’s do this,” she said.



(Sofia: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Bin Ban: 8,000)


“My draw,” chuckled Bin Ban, making his opening draw.

He smiled slightly when he saw what he had drawn, but only slightly, almost as if it hurt his face to smile.

“I’ll set a Monster,” he said.

A facedown Monster appeared in front of him.

“And I think that will be all for now.”

“Then I draw!” exclaimed Sofia, drawing a card.

“First, I throw two of my cards facedown,” she said.

Two reversed cards appeared in two flashes of light.

“Then, I send one card in my hand to the Graveyard…”

She discarded a Bladefly.

“…to Special Summon The Tricky!”

In a gust of wind, a Monster appeared in front of her that looked, for lack of a better term, weird. He looked like he was dressed in a yellow and black jester’s outfit, with a flowing, blue cape. A big, red question mark was on his face and chest. (2,000 ATK)

“Next,” she said, “I’m removing my Bladefly from play…”

Bladefly slipped out of her Graveyard, and she pocketed it.

“…to Special Summon Silpheed!”

In another gust of wind, a man in a pale, white suit, with white hair and blue skin, holding a wand with a tip shaped like a bird’s wing appeared. (1,700 ATK)

“Not bad…” said Bin Ban.

“I’m far from finished,” said Sofia. “Silpheed, attack his Monster! Gust blast!”

Silpheed pointed his wand, and a blast of wind shot towards the facedown card. A small red and silver Dragon with wings and a mask on its face appeared on the card, and was blown to pieces.

“That was a Masked Dragon,” said Bin Ban, taking his deck and looking through it. “And by destroying it, you’ve allowed me to summon another weak Dragon. So I’ll summon another Masked Dragon.”

A second Masked Dragon appeared where the first one had been. (1,100 DEF)

A Dragon Deck? thought Sofia. Fine… I can handle a Dragon Deck…

“Tricky, destroy it!” shouted Sofia. “Trick illusion!”

The Tricky pointed, and fired a blast of scintillating colors. The second Masked Dragon was blown to pieces.

“No-one ever uses Masked Dragon without packing three of them,” said Bin Ban, as a third Masked Dragon appeared. (1,100 DEF)

“I’m still not done,” said Sofia, taking the last card in her hand. “I sacrifice both my Monsters…”

The Tricky and Silpheed vanished into pixels of energy.

“…to summon Simorgh, Bird of Divinity!”

With another blast of wind, a huge, beautiful bird, with emerald-green feathers and a crown studded with gemstones appeared. (2,700 ATK)

“All right…” said Sofia, with a grin. “Think I’ll end my turn now…”

As she said that, Simorgh beat its great wings, causing a virtual hurricane. Bin Ban staggered back as he was buffeted by the storm, but Sofia’s two facedown cards lifted up (backs to her opponent), forming a shield against the onslaught.



(S: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (B: 7,000)


Bin Ban clapped his hands.

“Bravo,” he said. “Good show… You managed to pull off quite the impressive combo…

“Unfortunately, I must crush it now…”

He drew a card.

“I play my Giant Trunade Spell Card!”

Another blast of wind blew over the field, and Sofia’s facedown cards vanished, reappearing in her hand.

Oh no! she thought. Without those, Simorgh’s effect will hurt me this round!

“Don’t worry,” said Bin Ban, as if he could read her mind. “Simorgh isn’t going to last that long…

“I sacrifice Masked Dragon…”

Masked Dragon vanished into grains of light.

“…to summon a much stronger Dragon!”

An explosion lit up his side of the field.

“I summon Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV6!”

It appeared out of the flames. The pre-evolved form of one of the most dreaded Monsters in the game… A Dragon made entirely of golden metal with a hawk-like head and wings. (2,300 ATK)

Sofia started to sweat…

Then she grinned a little.

“It…” she said. “It has to defeat my Monster to evolve… Simorgh is stronger…”

Bin Ban played a Spell Card.

“Not if I play Level Up!” he said. “This lets me evolve it to its LV8 form right away!”

Horus became shrouded in flames, and doubled in size, turning more humanoid and more muscular. (3,000 ATK)

“Attack her Bird of Divinity!” he shouted. “Divine flames!”

Horus roared, and blasted a bolt of black fire from its jaws. Simorgh shrieked before it went up in flames. Sofia reeled from the impact.



(S: 7,700) - - - - - - - - - - (B: 7,000)


“I probably don’t have to tell you this,” said Bin Ban, “but Horus can negate any Spell Card you try to play.

“And that will end my turn…”

Sofia nervously drew a card.

She set all three of her cards in her Disk. Her two facedown cards reappeared, and a defensive Monster appeared.

Normally, she thought, when someone uses Horus, he also uses Royal Decree… But he has no facedown cards that could be Royal Decree… I think I can hold him off for at least one round…

She nodded.

“I draw!” said Bin Ban, drawing a card.

“I play… Monster Reborn!”

The glowing ankh appeared on his side of the field, and a Masked Dragon appeared again. (1,400 ATK)

“Now, I sacrifice it…”

Masked Dragon vanished…

A tall, dark form loomed over the field…

“Jinzo!” shouted Sofia.

It was indeed Jinzo. There was no mistaking the famous Monster, with its dark robe and armor, and sinister face-plate over a wrinkled cranium. (2,400 ATK)

“Part two of my ultimate lock,” replied Bin Ban. “As of right now, I’m not all that concerned about your facedown cards.

“Jinzo… Destroy her Monster with Cyber Energy Shock!”

Jinzo formed a ball of glowing, dark energy in its hands, and hurled it at the facedown Monster. A large, green, humanoid mantis appeared crouching on the card, and was blown to pieces.

“You destroyed my Flying Kamakiri #1,” said Sofia. “And now I can use its effect to summon another one.”

A second Kamakiri appeared in front of her. (1,400 ATK)

“Horus, destroy the second Kamakiri!” shouted Bin Ban.

Horus blasted its divine flames, and the Insect was burned to a crisp.

“Ergh…” muttered Sofia.

“I’ll use that one’s effect… To summon Ptarmigan of Mist Valley.”

In another gust of wind, a new Monster appeared in front of her. It looked like a man-sized rooster, with a plume and tail feathers shaped like lightning bolts. (1,100 ATK)

“A big chicken?” asked Bin Ban. “That was the best you could do?”

“Are you quite done?” asked Sofia.

“I end my turn,” said Bin Ban.



(S: 6,100) - - - - - - - - - - (B: 7,000)


Sofia looked at her deck.

This next card had better be a Monster, she thought. Otherwise, I’ll be wide open next turn…

She slowly drew one card.

This may help, she thought, looking at it.

“I set one Monster,” she said, setting it, “and then move Ptarmigan to Defense Mode.”

The facedown Monster appeared, and then the Ptarmigan covered itself with its wings. (700 DEF)

“My move…” chuckled Bin Ban.

He made a draw.

Hmm! he thought, looking at it.

“I summon Horus’ Servant!” he exclaimed.

In a small burst of flame, a man in clothing that was clearly Egyptian in style, with a helmet shaped like a hawk’s head appeared. (100 ATK)

“With his Servant on the field, Horus is immune to all effects that target.”

“True,” replied Sofia, “but the Servant itself is rather weak.”

“That’s why I’m Equipping it with Heart of Clear Water!” laughed Bin Ban, playing another card.

A glowing amulet made of crystal appeared around the Servant’s neck.

“Now he also can’t be targeted, and he can’t be destroyed in battle either.

“Now to clean up… Horus, roast that chicken extra crispy!”

Horus blasted its flames, and Ptarmigan of Mist Valley was fried to ashes.

“Jinzo, destroy her other Monster!”

Jinzo blasted its Cyber Energy Shock at the facedown Monster. A winged cherub with a bow and arrow appeared on the card before it was blown to shards.

“That was my Skelengel,” said Sofia. “Now I get to draw one card…”

She made a draw.

Another Trap Card? she thought. Nuts… Just what I didn’t need…

Bin Ban pointed, and Horus’ Servant tossed a small ball of flame at Sofia. She barely felt it, but she knew that every Life Point she had was important.

“I set one reversed card, and end my turn,” said Bin Ban, as a facedown card appeared in front of him. “Face it… Unless you have Exiled Force or another Monster that can destroy my Jinzo, you’re finished.”



(S: 6,000) - - - - - - - - - - (B: 7,000)


I didn’t like telling a fib, he thought, but even that won’t work. My facedown card is My Body as a Shield, which would foil such an attempt.

This is my Ultimate Lock… It’s unbeatable!

Sofia drew a card.

She sighed. It was indeed a Monster, but if she put it on the field to defend her, it would certainly be destroyed. And it was too valuable to lose.

She’d have to take a chance…

She took the card she had drawn with Skelengel’s effect, and set it in her Disk. A third facedown card appeared.

“That’s all…” she said.

“Right!” laughed Bin Ban, drawing a card.

“Jinzo, attack her directly!”

Sofia screamed as the Cyber Energy Shock slammed into her.

“Horus, you next!”

An inferno of flames struck Sofia, and she screamed bloody murder. She fell on one knee.



(S: 600) - - - - - - - - - - (B: 7,000)


“I move the Servant to Defense Mode, just in case,” said Bin Ban, as Horus’ Servant knelt, and covered its chest with its arms. (100 DEF)

“And I end my turn…”

Sweat was falling down Sofia’s face. She noticed that her hat had fallen off.

She picked it up and put it back on. Then she slowly stood up.

Okay… she thought, of course, you realize this means war…

She looked at her deck.

[I]Of course, without the right card, it’s gonna be an awfully sort one…

C’mon, deck… Give me the card I need…

She made a draw.

It shone in the dim light.

“I Special Summon… Divine Fowl King Alector!” she shouted.

Lightning flashed. A tall Winged Beast appeared, one resembling a humanoid rooster, garbed in shining plate armor, with large, red wings. (2,400 ATK)

“What’s so special about him?” asked Bin Ban with a frown.

“Simple,” said Sofia. “When you have at least two Monsters that are the same Attribute, I can Special Summon Alector here. And Horus and his Servant are both Fire Monsters.”

“So what are you gonna do?” asked Bin Ban, with a laugh. “Kamikaze him against Jinzo?”

“Buddy, I’m going to do a lot more than that,” replied Sofia. “Alector has another effect, which I can use every round.

“I choose one card on the field. It can be any card, Spell, Trap, or Monster. And the effect of that card is neutralized until the end of my turn.”

“HUH?” gasped Bin Ban.

“And this turn, I’m going to use that effect on Jinzo,” continued Sofia.

Alector’s eyes glowed, and Jinzo took a step back, as a dark aura surrounded it.

“But that means…” said Bin Ban.

“…that I can use Traps this round,” replied Sofia, as one of her three facedown cards lifted up. “Like my Dust Tornado!”

The Tornado ripped across the field, towards Bin Ban’s facedown card. The My Body as a Shield card was blown to pieces.

“Next,” said Sofia, “I Normal Summon Shaman of Mist Valley!”

She played the card, and a strange-looking woman appeared next to Alector. She wore a black leotard and loincloth, with a cowl over her long, blonde hair that had a red eye printed on the front. She had talons for hands and feet. (1,200 ATK)

“Now, I activate another Trap Card!” she shouted, as another facedown card lifted. “Icarus Attack!”

Shaman of Mist Valley became shrouded in an aura of flames.

“By sacrificing a Winged Beast, I can destroy two cards!”

“That won’t work on Horus!” shouted Bin Ban. “His Servant is protecting him!”

“And that Heart of Clear Water is protecting the Servant,” added Sofia. “So, I’m going to destroy Jinzo, and the Equip Spell.”

The Shaman flew towards Bin Ban’s side of the field, trailing a wake of flames. Jinzo groaned, and then exploded into pixels, and the amulet on the Servant crumbled into dust.

“Alector!” shouted Sofia, “attack Horus’ Servant! Divine wind!”

Alector blew a blast of wind at the Servant, and it shattered into shards.

Bin Ban looked in disbelief.

She defeated three parts of my lock in one turn! he thought.

“I end my turn,” said Sofia, with a grin.

Bin Ban growled as he drew a card.

“Horus!” he shouted. “Incinerate that infernal rooster!”

Horus roared, and then breathed a blast of flame at Alector.

“Did you forget you didn’t have Jinzo any more?” asked Sofia, as her last facedown card lifted up. “I activate Draining Shield!”

A dome of pure energy surrounded Sofia and her Monster, and the flames were halted. Sofia glowed with energy.

“Seems I’m back in this,” she said.



(S: 3,600) - - - - - - - - - - (B: 7,000)


“I end my turn!” shouted Bin Ban.

Sofia made a draw.

“I’m using Alector’s effect on Horus this time,” she said.

Horus roared, as Alector’s eyes glowed again, and the dark aura surrounded him.

“That means he can’t stop me from playing Spell Cards. Like this one… Shrink!”

She quickly threw the card into her Disk. Bin Ban gasped as Horus was reduced to half his size. (1,500 ATK)

“Alector, destroy Horus!” ordered Sofia.

The divine wind blew again. Horus roared again, right before he exploded.

“The tide of this battle is turning, pal,” said Sofia.



(S: 3,600) - - - - - - - - - - (B: 6,100)


“I’m far from defeated, Shadowchaser,” replied Bin Ban.

He whipped a card off of his Disk.

“I activate Level Modulation!” he exclaimed, as a Spell Card appeared. “Now, you draw twice. But I get to bring Horus back.”

Sofia drew two cards. Then Horus reappeared in an aura of flames. (3,000 ATK)

“I happen to know that a Monster can’t attack on the round it’s summoned with Level Modulation,” said Sofia.

“I know that,” said Bin Ban, fitting a card into his Disk. “I play a facedown, and end my turn.”

A reversed card appeared.

Sofia drew a third card.

“I use Alector’s effect of Horus again,” she said.

As Horus glowed with the dark aura again, Sofia opened her Field Slot.

“Next, I play Rising Air Current!”

The wind started to pick up, howling over the desert sands. Alector rose to an Attack Score of 2,900.

“Now, all Wind Monsters gain 500 Attack Points in exchange for 400 Defense Points.

“Then, Pot of Avarice.”

She played the card, and then took Simorgh, Silpheed, The Tricky, Shaman of Mist Valley, and Ptarmigan of Mist Valley from her Graveyard. She shuffled them into her deck, and then drew two cards.

“Next,” she said, “I summon Slate Warrior.”

In another burst of wind, an odd creature with a blank face, wearing a blocky breastplate and ruffled pants, holding a knobbed staff appeared. (1,900 ATK –> 2,400 ATK)

“Slate Warrior…” said Sofia, “attack Horus.”

“WHAT THE?” shouted Bin Ban.

Slate Warrior fired a blast of green energy from its staff. Horus roared, and blasted its breath weapon, incinerating the Fiend.

“Why did you do that?” asked Bin Ban.

“Because now Slate Warrior’s effect activates,” replied Sofia, “and Horus loses 500 Attack Points.”

Horus bellowed again, as a cloud of dust surrounded it. (2,500 ATK)

“Alector, attack!” shouted Sofia.

The divine wind shot at Horus, and he burst again. Bin Ban growled in anger.



(S: 3,000) - - - - - - - - - - (B: 5,700)


“My move…” he growled.

He drew a card.

“I play MY Pot of Avarice,” he said.

He played the card, and all three Masked Dragons, Jinzo, and Horus LV8 slipped out of his discard slot. He shuffled them into his deck, and made two draws. He looked at them.

“I remove Horus’ Servant from play…” he said.

The card slipped out of his discard slot, and he placed it inside his coat.

“…in order to Special Summon Inferno.”

A large bonfire with two burning eyes in the center appeared in front of him. (1,100 ATK)

“Then I sacrifice it…”

Inferno vanished into pixilated remains.

“To summon a second Horus LV6!”

With another burst of fire, the Level 6 version of Horus appeared again. (2,300 ATK)

“Now I use my Trap Card,” he said, as his facedown card lifted. “Foolish Revival. This lets me Special Summon Slate Warrior to your side of the field in Defense Mode.”

Sofia stepped back in shock as Slate Warrior appeared in front of her, kneeling and shielding itself. (400 DEF –> 0 DEF)

Bin Ban pointed, and Horus blasted its flame, incinerating Slate Warrior.

“Next, I set a reversed card,” he said, as a facedown card appeared. “Then I move to my End Phase, and guess who’s coming back?”

Horus became shrouded in flames again, and evolved into his final form again. (3,000 ATK)

“This is starting to get tedious,” said Sofia, drawing a card.

“I use Alector’s effect on Horus again!”

Horus groaned as the aura surrounded him again.

“Then,” she said, “I play a facedown, and summon Soldier of Mist Valley.”

A reversed card appeared, and then a new Winged Beast materialized. He was a muscular man with large, blue wings, wearing a leather loincloth, a long, blue scarf, and jewelry made of teeth, holding a curved dagger in both hands. (1,700 ATK) –> (2,200 ATK)

“Next,” she said, playing a Spell Card, “I play Winged Repayment. I pay 600 Life Points, and I get to draw one card for each Winged Beast I have on the field.”

She glowed with an aura of red energy, and made two draws.

“The catch is, I can’t use them until next turn. So I’ll end my turn now.”



(S: 2,400) - - - - - - - - - - (B: 5,700)


Bin Ban quickly drew a card.

“Horus, annihilate Alector!” he shouted.

Flames appeared in Horus’s mouth.

“Now you’re getting careless,” said Sofia. “Activate… Mirror Force!”

Her facedown card lifted up.

Bin Ban frowned. His own facedown card lifted up.

“I activate Level Down!?,” he said. “This Quickplay lets me send Horus back to my deck before he’s destroyed, and summon the Level 6 version in Defense Mode.”

Horus shrank, devolving into his previous form, and shielding himself with his wings. (1,600 DEF)

“I move to my second Main Phase,” he continued, “and play my second Level Up! to bring the big guy back again.”

The Spell Card appeared, and Horus quickly grew into his fully evolved form once more. (3,000 ATK)

“Boy, I’m really getting sick of that guy,” said Sofia.

“And your tricks aren’t gonna last you forever!” cursed Bin Ban. “Next round, I am gonna blow that damn cockfighter to gibbets! He’s gonna pay for insulting Horus like this!”

Sofia glared at him.

“You, my friend, just made a big mistake…” she said. “Since when is your Monster superior to mine?”

“Horus is the god of the sun!” shouted Bin Ban. “He…”

“Alector is the god of the weather,” replied Sofia. “It’s through his good graces that life-giving rain provides water and nourishment for crops. It’s all in the name… Divine Fowl King Alector.

“And you didn’t answer my question, by the way.”

Bin Ban stopped short.

“Uhm…” he said. “Horus is also a warrior god… He was known for his crusade against his uncle Set…”

“Did you perhaps notice that Alector is wearing plate armor?” asked Sofia. “He’s no less a warrior.

“So again, I’ll ask… What makes Horus superior to him?”

Bin Ban stopped short. He didn’t answer.

“That shut you up,” said Sofia. “Face it… The only thing Horus has going for him is that you can build a whole deck around him successfully. And due to the fact that Alector seems to be foiling your attempts to keep your lock, I truly doubt that your divine Monster can be called superior to mine.

“It’s my move…”

She drew a card.

“I remove one Kamakiri from play,” she said.

The card fell out of her discard slot, and she pocketed it.

“…to Special Summon Garuda the Wind Spirit.”

In another blast of wing, a new Winged Beast appeared. It was a man with the head and wings of a golden eagle, wearing red pants. (1,600 ATK) –> (2,100 ATK)

“Then, I summon Dancing Elf.”

In a shower of motes, a pretty little female Fairy in a green gown with gossamer wings appeared. (300 ATK) –> (800 ATK)

“HA, HA, HA!” laughed Bin Ban. “Dancing Elf? Why the heck would you have THAT in your deck?

“And you forgot to use Alector’s effect this round!”

“I didn’t forget,” replied Sofia. “I just didn’t need to.

“And as for why Dancing Elf is in my deck, it’s because she’s Level 1.”

Bin Ban stopped short.

He slowly came to a realization as to what Sofia’s likely next move was…

“You see,” said Sofia, “Soldier of Mist Valley is a Tuner Monster… And the Synchro Monster I want to summon is so powerful, I have to Tune no less than three Monsters.”

Then Soldier of Mist Valley, Garuda the Wind Spirit, and Dancing Elf flew into the desert sky, where they dissolved into nine shimmering stars…

“I Tune my three Monsters together to call forth the legendary guardian of Mist Valley!” exclaimed Sofia. “Synchro Summon… Mist Wurm!”

With a loud bellowing noise, a gargantuan creature rose behind Sofia. It was a giant, monstrous arthropod that seemed to be some relative of Doom Dozer, covered with a deep, blue exoskeleton. It had three odd vents on its back that looked like chimneys, through which poured thick mist. (2,500 ATK) –> (3,000 ATK)

“A lot of good that will do you!” shouted Bin Ban. “If it attacks Horus, they’ll kill each other!”

“Actually, the odds are more in favor of my Monster,” replied Sofia. “Because when I summon it, I can send up to three of your cards back to your hand.”

The fiercest wind yet started to blow towards Bin Ban’s side of the field. Horus screeched and struggled, but was swept up in it and disappeared, his card reappearing in Bin Ban’s hand.

“Oh… no…” he said.

“Alector,” said Sofia, “attack directly with divine wind!”

Bin Ban hollered as the fierce wind plowed into him and he staggered backwards.

“Mist Wurm,” continued Sofia, “attack with freezing fog!”

Mist Wurm belched a cloud of chilling cold mist at the janni, and he screamed as it froze him to the bone.

He collapsed, shivering.



(S: 2,400) - - - - - - - - - - (B: 0)


“So cold…” he muttered. “So cold…”

Then Sofia grabbed him.

“We’re in the middle of the desert, dummy,” she said. “You’ll warm up in a few seconds. Now talk. Who hired you?”

Bin Ban sighed.

“All right, a deal’s a deal…” he muttered. “I was hired by Louis DaPen… He wants the Regalia of Day for some reason.

“I have no idea why…”

Sofia paused.

I’d better get the Sword of Noon to a safe place and then call Jalal, she thought. Maybe sending it to Neo Domino isn’t a good idea…



* * * * * * * * * *


As Sofia was doing this, it was still late-morning in the townhouse in Neo Domino.

Sorsha sat on a table in the practice room in the lower level, watching with a curious expression as one of her human caregivers – the one who was called Jinx – sparred with the newcomer.

Jinx had decided to take a break from teaching Ember hand-to-hand combat, and was now moving up to swordsmanship. She and Ember were now sparring with wooden practice swords.

Like before, Ember had started off clumsy, but she was learning quickly. She was now starting to dodge and parry Jinx’s blows much better than a beginner usually did. Jinx was beginning to think that Ember was some sort of prodigy.

Jinx gave the signal to stop, and tossed Ember a towel.

The two sat at the table, and Sorsha hopped off. Jinx grabbed two bottles of water.

“You’re a natural, kid,” said Jinx.

“Thanks…” said Ember. “I don’t know if it will hold up though… I doubt I’ll ever have the same luck you have…”

Jinx chuckled.

“Let you in on a secret, kid,” she said. “I had a little help with my luck, or so some people say…”

She reached into her shirt.

“It all started way back when I was an apprentice myself…”

She took out a small object on a chain. It looked like a glass capsule that held a small, sharp tooth, like that of a wolf or some other carnivorous animal.

“A tooth?” asked Ember.

“A redcap’s tooth,” replied Jinx.

“You see, Ember, the final test that an apprentice must pass before becoming a full-fledged Shadowchaser is to handle a Shadow-related threat alone, without her mentor’s help. Most apprentices choose something easy. I was a bit of a rebel, and went after something hard. I tracked down a redcap.”

Before Ember could ask the question, Jinx answered it.

“Redcaps are likely the most evil, vile fey you’ll ever meet,” she continued. “They don’t look like typical pixies or sprites at all. They’re about four feet tall, with talons for hands and feet, beak-like noses, sharp teeth, white beards, and glowing red eyes. They always wear iron boots, and bright red hats.”

“Sounds pretty scary,” said Ember.

“Indeed,” said Jinx. “They’re cold-blooded killers who prefer to attack prey by ambush. And they do so in order to renew the color of their hats, which they dip in the blood of their victims. Their red hats are the source of their power.

“Well, at this time, I wasn’t using gamble cards or X-Sabers, but my deck wasn’t too bad, because I managed to beat this redcap, thus passing the test. Then I learned something about redcaps – you’ll never take one alive. After I beat him, he did something that incinerated himself, reducing himself to ashes.

“All that was left of him was this tooth, which I took as a memento.

“I soon learned that redcaps always leave behind a single tooth when they die. And whoever kills one should always keep the tooth. It’s proof that she rid the world of a corruption of nature, and so long as she’s recognized as the one who did so, she’ll receive the blessing of more benign fey.

“It sounded like a fishy story, sure. But ever since then, my luck changed for the better. I experimented with cards that depended on chance, and they started to go my way most of the time.

“Then I started collecting the X-Sabers… You may notice by now that they have a barbaric theme surrounding them… Well, I heard that these Monsters gain their fighting power due to a close tie with nature. The enchanted rage that helps them fight is a reflection of the primal nature of the unspoiled wilderness. I figured that if I had a blessing that came from nature like they did, using them might work. And I found out that they did.

“One thing led to another, and before long my deck became what it is now.

“Just remember one thing, Ember… In the world of Shadow, anything can happen, and everything usually does. Take opportunities where they present them.”

“Excellent council, Kaede,” said Jalal’s voice.

They both turned their heads, and saw him standing there in holographic form.

“Is this some sort of Big Brother thing?” asked Ember.

Jinx chuckled.

“You’ll get used to it before long, Ember,” she replied.

“Kaede, may I speak to you in private?” asked Jalal.

Ember sighed.

“You can come back here in ten minutes,” said Jalal to Ember. “Don’t worry… I think you’ll like what your teacher will have to tell you…”

“Guess I’ll go get some air…” said Ember, getting up.

Jinx looked at Jalal, clearly confused…



[I]I had no idea what Jalal had wanted to speak to Jinx about, and apparently, this came as somewhat of a surprise to Jinx as well. I had a feeling, though, that something was up concerning me. And it was likely something big.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my new position was about to be taken to the next stage. Things were happening fast, and whether I was ready for them or not, they were beyond my control.

It seemed I had passed the point of no return at this time. Whether that was a good thing or a bad one, it was hard to tell.



DIVINE FOWL KING ALECTOR (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Winged Beast/Effect
Attribute: Wind
Level: 6
ATK: 2,400
DEF: 2,000

Card Description: If your opponent controls 2 or more Monsters with the same Attribute, you may Special Summon this card from your hand. Once per turn, select one face-up card on the field. The effect(s) of the selected card are negated until the End Phase of the turn. Only one “Divine Fowl King Alector” can be face-up on the field at one time.

Note: “Divine Fowl King Alector” is a Japanese card that has not yet been released in the United States.



MIST WURM (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Thunder/Synchro/Effect
Attribute: Wind
Level: 9
ATK: 2,500
DEF: 1,500

Card Description: Tuner + 2 or more Non-Tuner Monsters

When this card is Synchro Summoned, you may return up to 3 cards your opponent controls to his/her hand.



SOLDIER OF MIST VALLEY (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Winged Beast/Tuner/Effect
Attribute: Wind
Level: 4
ATK: 1,700
DEF: 300

Card Description: When this card battles an opposing Monster, if the opposing Monster is not destroyed as a result of the battle, it is returned to the controller’s hand at the end of the damage step.



SHAMAN OF MIST VALLEY (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Winged Beast/Tuner/Effect
Attribute: Wind
Level: 3
ATK: 1,200
DEF: 1,200

Card Description: Once per turn, you can return 1 Monster you control to your hand except this card to increase this card’s ATK by 500 until the End Phase of the turn.



PTARMIGAN OF MIST VALLEY (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Thunder/Effect
Attribute: Wind
Level: 3
ATK: 1,100
DEF: 700

Card Description: When this card is returned to your hand, Special Summon this card. This card cannot attack on the round this effect is activated.

Note: “Mist Wurm”, “Soldier of Mist Valley”, “Shaman of Mist Valley”, and “Ptarmigan of Mist Valley” were released in Japan for the original “Duel Terminal”. They have not yet been released in the United States.



WINGED REPAYMENT (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: The image on this card was unclear.

Card Description: Pay 600 Life Points. Draw 1 card from your deck for each Winged Beast you control. Cards drawn by this effect cannot be set, Summoned, or activated on the turn they are drawn by this effect.

Note: “Winged Repayment” was first used by Harpie’s Brother in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” episode “A New World Order”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



Before I break, I should explain that I know the true origin of the word “Alector”. It’s actually a very obscure name in Greek mythology. He was the father of Leitus, one of the Argonauts (called “Alectryon” by Homer). The “real” Alector may not have truly been “divine”, but the Monster named after him undoubtedly is, so I took a few liberties.

Coming up next:

Two swords recovered, one to go. Next chapter, we go to the Black Forest of Germany, where another Shadowchaser braves the night to recover the Sword of Midnight. But an old enemy is on his trail, and challenges him for it, leading to a confrontation that he’s wanted for a long time. “Treasure Map” is coming soon.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
15th February 2009, 09:48 AM
I liked this chapter. The battle was good, and it was fun seeing some wind-monsters, they don't get much spotlight these days.

The little bit of background by Jinx was also good, about her tests and such, the redcap and why she uses a gamble-deck.

Ember seems to progress and will become a Shadowchaser herself soon, or so I think.

Shuppet Master
15th February 2009, 03:54 PM
Great chapter, and nice origins of Jinx's power. So that's wy she's lucky all of the time! ^_^

Dark Sage
19th February 2009, 12:05 AM
CHAPTER FOURTEEN




http://www.ideal808.com/images/dpk_ense2.jpg



One of things I dreaded most when I was in school were the times when my teacher asked to speak to my parents. You never knew just what she wanted to tell them, and whether it was going be good news or bad news for you. Let’s face it… Whenever one authority figure wants to speak to another authority figure concerning you, you get nervous, and downright scared.

Despite Jalal’s assurance that I might like what he intended to say to Jinx, that was how I felt at this point. Jinx clearly didn’t know what Jalal wanted to say right now, and this worried me as much as it ever did when my school had a parent-teacher conference…


“So, what’s up boss?” asked Jinx, leaning back in her chair.

“Plenty,” said Jalal. “I’ve been monitoring young Michiko’s progress, and she is coming along at an alarming rate. The power she holds within her is strong. You are to be commended.”

“Well, thanks,” said Jinx, “but she’s doing most of it alone…”

“I know,” said Jalal. “And I believe she may now attempt her first test…”

“Wait, hold it…” said Jinx. “Already? She’s only had one duel in the service of the Shadowchasers, you know…”

“True, but she has become much stronger since then,” replied Jalal. “Michiko’s progress is unusual, and so she deserves special attention…”

Jalal gestured, and a Duel Monsters card appeared in Jinx’s hand. Jinx looked at it.

“Uhm…” said Jinx. “Isn’t this a little difficult for the first test?”

“As I say repeatedly,” replied Jalal, “the tests are not decided by me, they are decided through me.”

Jinx sighed. She had heard that one said many times before.

Jalal gestured again, and a typewritten sheet of paper appeared on the table.

“Don’t forget to explain it to her in full,” he continued. “I’ll be paying most careful attention…”

And then he vanished.

Jinx sighed again.



* * * * * * * * * *


Around the time that Sofia was approaching the old cemetery in New Mexico, it was two AM in the Black Forest of Germany.

Using a flashlight to guide his way, a lone hiker trekked through the forest, keeping ever alert.

The Shadowchasers originated in Europe, so more of them tended to be here than on any other continent. Hank was one of the best there was of the various European branches. He didn’t commit himself to one group, but was well known to all of the groups on the continent, working with them all at one time or another.

As a duelist, Hank was known to have four different decks at last count, and each one tended to reflect the ancient past in some way. He was an explorer by heart, who not only explored the present, but the past as well.

He was a tall and muscular man, dressed in a beige hiking outfit and worn fedora. He had slightly long, shaggy, brown hair, and sky-blue eyes. He carried a long walking stick made of hazel (a wood believed by some to ward off evil spirits) and a Duel Disk on his left arm that currently held his favorite (and strongest) deck.

He shone his flashlight into the rocky crag in front of him. He had found what he was looking for.

Dwarven runes were etched above a simple stone altar. He carefully read them.

The blessings of St. Cuthbert are bestowed upon those who lie here, and his wrath will be enacted upon those who violate the Law that must be followed.

Hank nodded. He knew that St. Cuthbert was not a saint that the Vatican recognized. Rather, he was a deity worshipped by several Shadowkind who valued order and organization among all other things, as dwarves were known to do. St. Cuthbert was known as the god of retribution, an avenging force who punished those who broke the laws, or even worse, those who perverted them.

Hank hit a speed dial on his cell phone.

“I’m here Jalal,” he said.

“Were you followed?” asked Jalal.

“Actually, yes,” replied Hank. “An old friend is following me… But don’t worry… This time, I’m rather anxious to meet him.”

“Be careful, Hank,” replied Jalal. “You know how that guy works… And you know what happened last time.”

“Yep,” replied Hank. “I certainly do…”

He hung up, and then walked up to a spot behind the altar below where the runes were.

He took off his backpack, and opened it, taking out an old piece of parchment. He unfolded it, and started to read, reciting an old chant in dwarven.

As he spoke the words, a rectangular outline appeared on the wall, and started to glow. The outline started to crumble and crack. Then the stone vanished, forming a rectangular shelf in the wall.

Hank reached in, and pulled out what he was looking for. A long sword in a sheath.

He carefully unsheathed it. It was the same design as the previous two swords, with the same runes, but with an ebony blade covered with pinpoints of light, giving it a design that resembled a starry field.

“The Sword of Midnight…” said Hank.

“Hello, Hank,” said a voice behind him.

Hank quickly turned around, and saw the three Shadows who had followed him.

The first one was the one he knew. Saham Al-Khazzir, yet another janni. He was dressed much like Hank was, but in far more expensive clothing.

The other two Shadows were clearly giff. These bestial Shadows stood eight feet tall, the size of ogres, and were incredibly muscular. They had heads that resembled rhinoceroses without the horns, with armored plating on the top. They were dressed in khaki fatigues, and carried blunderbusses – primitive firearms, but giff tended to like guns that made a lot of noise. They also had large battle axes on their belts, which they would likely use if the guns’ single shots missed.

Giff were well known as thugs and leg-breakers among Shadowkind. They were true mercenaries, and for the right price, they would work for practically anyone, so long as it didn’t involve fighting other giff.

The Shadowchasers had labeled the giff an outlaw race years ago, due to their refusal to recognize any authority whatsoever. Their society was governed only by those strong enough to enforce their will over the others. Guys like Al-Khazzir favored them because they were too dumb to learn to duel, and often too tough for anyone to fight any other way.

Hank hated Al-Khazzir with a passion. He called himself a treasure hunter and an archaeologist, but almost everything he found had been stolen or excavated illegally, and then sold to rich collectors who didn’t care.

However… Hank was ready for him this time…

“Hello, Al-Khazzir,” he said with a grin. “How long has it been?”

He took something out of his pocket.

“Not long enough…” said Al-Khazzir with a scowl.

“Look, Al…” said Hank with a nervous smile. “About what happened in Rome…”

“Save it!” shouted the janni. “You escaped using that teleportation thing on your dumb D-Wheel just as Sultan Yasuf Alrahad arrived with his whole retinue of sahuagin knights, catching me with the Sapphire Mask of Syrrotec! You wouldn’t believe how angry he was…”

“Can you blame him?” asked Hank. “It was the former sultan’s burial mask, and you were stealing it from the royal mausoleum of the Citadel of Ten-Thousand Pearls. And as for why I didn’t stick around, I figured I’d have to be crazy to stay there and find out what happened when a tenth-degree water elementalist known for having an incredibly rotten temper found out it was being robbed!

“So, how did you get away? I’d have figured he’d have done to you what he did to everyone else who made him mad…”

“You mean throw me to his pet devil sharks?” asked Al-Khazzir. “Wishful thinking, Hank. I had plenty of other artifacts in my inventory. I always do, and that’s why I’ll always be a better treasure hunter than you’ll ever be!

“I simply offered him a choice from what I had for compensation. He took a fancy to a mother-of-pearl encrusted, meerschaum smoking pipe that I had. It dated back to the Victorian era. Unfortunately, I had planned to sell that meerschaum to a buyer in France, and he was not at all pleased when I told him…”

Hank placed the object over his head. It looked like a cell phone headset.

“You know, French is not a language I never cared to learn,” continued Al-Khazzir. “But when that guy cussed me out in his language, it was strange… I understood every word he said.

“So anyway, I was thinking that I would take the Sword of Midnight as compensation, unless you want to discuss things with my two friends here…”

Hank tapped a button on the device.

“Actually, old friend,” he said. “I do…”

“Huh?” said Al-Khazzir. “Wait, what is that thing?”

“A new invention that we Shadowchasers have now,” said Hank. “A universal translator. Now I actually can talk things over with your two bodyguards.”

A look of panic appeared on Al-Khazzir’s face. He screamed something to the two giff in their language, and they pointed their weapons at Hank.

“Before you two fire,” said Hank, his words now coming out in the primitive language of the giff, “you should know that your employer is a thief and a swindler who has no intention of ever paying you. He doesn’t consider folks he hires as bodyguards worthy of receiving his money.”

The two thugs looked confused.

“Whaddaya mean?” asked one of them. “He already did.”

“I suggest you inspect the gold nuggets he gave you,” said Hank. “You’ll find that they’ve turned into worthless sand by now. A little trick of illusion that his species is very good at.”

The two giff looked at each other. They looked at two pouches on their belts.

“Don’t listen to him!” screamed Al-Khazzir. “Shoot him!”

The giff who had spoken lowered his weapon, and then opened the pouch, looking inside.

Then a look of incredible anger appeared on his face. He dumped out the contents, which were indeed only sand.

“What’s da big idea, pal?” he said, pointing his blunderbuss at Al-Khazzir.

“You tryin’ to cheat us, buddy?” said the other one.

Al-Khazzir growled. Then he pulled an Arabian-style saber from his belt, and leveled it at the two thugs.

The giff’s next action was unexpected. They turned and ran off into the woods.

Al-Khazzir turned to Hank.

“Your plan didn’t work, old friend,” he chuckled. “They’re running scared!”

Hank shook his head. He turned the translator off.

“They aren’t running scared, ‘old friend’,” he replied, “they’re going to go tell the rest of their clan.

“You always leave the country and manage to escape before your hired help realizes that they’ve been double crossed. But you won’t make it this time. When you leave the Black Forest, a whole heard of angry giff will be waiting for you at Freiburg. Meerschaum pipes and other trinkets have little value to them, and I doubt you have enough cash on you to quell their likely anger.”

The look of panic appeared on Al-Khazzir’s face again.

Hank slung the Sword of Midnight over his shoulder.

“Goodbye, old friend,” he said. “And this time, I mean it.”

“Wait!” shouted Al-Khazzir. “You’re just going to let those savages ambush me?”

“Why shouldn’t I?” asked Hank. “What am I going to do, arrest you? For attempted extortion?

“I do that, I know just what will happen. As soon as the judge sets bail, you’ll call another one of your buyers, and tell him that he can have what you promised to sell him if he pays your bail, which will cost him less than the price he agreed to. He’ll pay it, it will cost you nothing, and you’ll jump bail. And then we’ll be back to where we started.

“I’m not gonna bother. I’ll be rid of you and your dirty tricks for good this way.”

“You can’t do that!” screamed Al-Khazzir. “You’re… You’re the good guy…”

Hank glared at him.

He held up his Disk and activated it.

“That may be true,” he said, “but even good guys have limited patience.

“Tell you what, pal. Seeing as I can communicate with any thugs you hire from now on, your tricks aren’t going to work again. So I’ll duel you if you want… And I’ll make you a little wager…”

“A wager?” asked Al-Khazzir.

Hank nodded.

“You win this duel,” replied Hank, “I’ll show you to someone who can sneak you out of the country. It won’t be as comfortable as the first class airline tickets you’re used to, but you’ll get out safely.

“If I win, you give me a recorded, willing confession regarding everything you’ve stolen since you passed here from Shadow, and turn yourself in to the Shadowchasers.”

“Uhm…” muttered Al-Khazzir.

“AND you reveal who your buyers are,” added Hank. “That way, we can recover most of your ill-gotten gains, and even if the judge doesn’t deny bail, you won’t have an easy way out with your benefactors in trouble.”

“Oh, come on!” shouted Al-Khazzir.

“Notice where we are, Al-Khazzir?” asked Hank. “St. Cuthbert’s shrine is a place where justice is doled out. I’ve been waiting to bring you in for your dirty tricks for a long time…

“Take it or leave it…”

Al-Khazzir growled, and placed a Disk on his arm.

“Fine,” he said with a grin. “I can duel fair and square, after all. All I have to do is beat you, and I’ll start over from scratch.”



(Hank: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Al-Khazzir: 8,000)


“I’ll start this off,” said Hank, drawing a card.

He looked over his hand.

He played three cards, and a set Monster and two reversed cards appeared in front of him.

“Mmm!” he said.

“I’m guessing you don’t talk much at this point,” said Al-Khazzir, drawing a card.

“I activate my Mystic Plasma Zone Field Spell!”

He quickly placed a card in his Field Slot, and an uncanny darkness crept over the already dark shrine. Strange energy crackled overhead.

“Then, I summon The Bistro Butcher!”

There was a loud cackle, and a diabolic-looking Fiend appeared, with pointed ears, dressed in a stained chef’s outfit and hat, with a hook for a right hand and carrying a long carving knife in the other. (1,800 ATK) –> (2,300 ATK)

“Sautee his Monster!” he ordered.

The Butcher cackled again, and made a slash with his knife. Sangan appeared on the card, and was cut in half before shattering.

“Thank you,” said Hank, taking his deck from the holder. “That lets me search for a Monster with a low Attack Score.”

He got what he wanted, and put his deck back. Al-Khazzir frowned a little.

“That’s all for me,” he said.

“Then I draw,” said Hank, drawing a card.

“Then, I summon this… The Crystal Skull!”

He played the card, and a new Monster appeared in front of him. The Monster’s name seemed to describe it perfectly. It was a large skull made entirely of blue crystal, glowing with a pale light. (0 ATK)

Then it started to glow with a stronger aura.

“What’s happening?” asked Al-Khazzir.

“When Crystal Skull is summoned,” replied Hank, “I loose 1,000 Life Points…”

“Then why the heck would you…” started Al-Khazzir.

“…unless,” continued Hank, “I use this Spell Card…”

He quickly played a card from his hand.

“It’s called Curse-Returner Hitogata. And it spares me the damage… By transferring it to you.”

Then a storm of small paper dolls flew out of the card, towards Al-Khazzir.

“Ow,” grunted Al-Khazzir. “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, OW! Hey!”

“Next, I chain-activate my Trap Card,” continued Hank.

His facedown card lifted up.

“It’s called Spell Reclamation. I toss one card…”

He discarded Stone Statue of the Aztecs from his hand.

“And as soon as my Spell Card goes to the Graveyard, I get it back.”

Curse Returner Hitogata slipped back out of his discard slot.

“Continuing,” said Hank, “I set one more card facedown…”

Another reversed card appeared.

“And then I Equip Crystal Skull with Heart of Clear Water.”

He played a card, and a glowing orb of energy appeared within the Crystal Skull.

“Now it can’t be destroyed by battle, or be targeted by card effects.

“My turn is over…”



(H: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (AK: 7,000)


“You think you’re so smart…” growled Al-Khazzir, as he drew a card.

“I sacrifice my Butcher…”

The Bistro Butcher vanished into an orb of pure darkness.

“…to summon the Poet of Hell… the dreaded Helpoemer!”

Out of the darkness, a far more frightening Fiend appeared. It was a gaunt, faceless humanoid, with black, leathery skin, wearing only a tattered kilt. Fanged mouths covered its entire body. It was supported by a stone slab shaped like an inverted arrow. (2,000 ATK) –> (2,500 ATK)

“You know, I often wondered about that thing…” muttered Hank.

“There’s a story behind it,” replied Al-Khazzir, “but we won’t get into it now. Your Crystal Skull may be protected, but you’ll still take damage if I attack it.

“Helpoemer, attack Crystal Skull with Chthonian chatter!”

The mouths on Helpoemer’s body started to gibber, and a wave of dark energy drifted towards Crystal Skull.

“Nice try,” said Hank, as one of his facedown cards lifted up, “but you triggered my Spirit Barrier Trap Card. Now I won’t lose any Life Points from battle so long as I have a Monster on the field.”

“I end my turn…” growled Al-Khazzir.

Hank drew a card.

“I summon Ashoka Pillar!” he shouted.

The ground rumbled, and a tall, stone, decorated column rose out of the ground, reaching twenty feet high. (0 ATK)

“Tell me,” sighed Al-Khazzir, putting his hand on his hip, “are any of your Monsters capable of attacking?”

“That’s for me to know, and you to find out,” replied Hank. “I move Crystal Skull to Defense Mode.”

Crystal Skull retreated slightly. (0 DEF)

“And I end my turn.”

Al-Khazzir quickly drew a card.

“I play Monster Reborn!” he shouted.

The glowing ankh appeared, and The Bistro Butcher appeared again. (1,800 ATK) –> (2,300 ATK)

“But he’s only here so I can sacrifice him…”

The Butcher vanished again.

“…to summon Archfiend of Gilfer!”

An aura of fire lit up the field, as a winged Fiend with a bony, horned exoskeleton appeared, hovering in mid-air. (2,200 ATK) –> (2,700 ATK)

“Smash his Ashoka Pillar!” shouted Al-Khazzir. “Flame blast!”

The Archfiend roared, and blasted a wave of fire at the column, blowing it into shards of rock.

“My Life Points are untouched, thanks to Spirit Barrier,” replied Hank. “But you won’t be so lucky. When Ashoka Pillar is destroyed, normally I would take 2,000 points of damage. But wouldn’t you know it…”

His last facedown card lifted up.

“…I can use my Curse-Returner Hitogata again!”

“Not again!” shouted Al-Khazzir as the storm of paper dolls plowed into him.

“Ooh, you are gonna pay for this, Hank…”

He took two cards from his hand.

“I toss two cards facedown, and end my turn!”

Two reversed cards appeared behind his two Fiends.



(H: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (AK: 5,000)


Hank drew a card and looked at it.

He played both of the cards in his hand, and a defensive Monster and a new reversed card appeared.

He nodded.

“I take it that means it’s my move,” said Al-Khazzir, drawing.

He looked at the two cards he had.

He played one of them.

“I summon Melchid the Four-Face Beast.”

In a shadowy aura, a Monster appeared that looked like a large, floating head, with four faces placed around its circumference, each one resembling a fiendish mask. (1,500 ATK) –> (2,000 ATK)

“Now, I sacrifice it and Helpoemer…”

The two Fiends erupted in black fire. Then vanished…

Then, a hulking form rose on Al-Khazzir’s side of the field. It was the size of a bear and incredibly muscular, with a horned, bony exoskeleton. It had three masks, one on its face and two on its chest.

“Meet Masked Beast Des Gardius!”

(3,300 ATK) –> (3,800 ATK)

“I’m beginning to get the picture, pal,” said Hank. “Your Monsters are just as dangerous when they’re dead as they are when they’re alive.”

“Pretty much,” said Al-Khazzir, “but that isn’t my only strategy… I have a feeling I know what that facedown Monster of yours is, so I’m gonna show you…”

One of his two facedown cards lifted up.

“It’s a Trap called Greed. This made a combo with my Bistro Butcher. Now, if either of us draws cards outside of our Draw Phase, we lose 500 Life Points for each one.

“Archfiend of Gilfer, attack the facedown Monster!”

The Archfiend blasted its flame at the facedown card. A Morphing Jar appeared on the card and exploded.

“Just as I thought,” said Al-Khazzir, as they both drew five cards.

He looked at them.

“And look at that! I play Mystical Space Typhoon!”

He quickly played the card, and the cyclone shot towards the Heart of Clear Water card, blowing it to bits.

“And I’m not done with you yet! Des Gardius, destroy his Crystal Skull!”

Des Gardius roared, and lunged at the Skull.

Hank gestured, and his facedown card shot up.

“I activate Totem Pole!” he shouted.

A column of fire shot up in front of him, and a large, wooden totem pole appeared from out of it, made up of three carved faces, yellow, blue, and red.

Then the blue face shot out at the Fiend like a rocket, knocking it backwards.

“My Trap Card negates your attack on my Monster,” said Hank, “and it can do so two more times.

“And one thing you forgot about that Greed card… You’ll take damage too.”

“No I won’t…” chuckled Al-Khazzir.

His other facedown card lifted up.

“I activate Pikeru’s Circle of Enchantment. A pansy name, I know, but it shields me from effect damage this round.

“And I’m not done yet… I’m removing three of my Fiends from play…”

Helpoemer, The Bistro Butcher, and Melchid the Four-Face Beast slipped out of his discard slot.

“…to Special Summon the dreaded Dark Necrofear!”

Two evil-looking eyes appeared in the darkness of Mystic Plasma Zone. Then the rest of the creature slowly showed itself, and it gave even Hank chills. Vaguely feminine, it had a bald head, pointed ears, and blue skin, dressed in metal clothing covered with spikes and serrated barbs. She held a twisted-looking doll in her hands. (2,200 ATK) –> (2,700 ATK)

“I end my turn,” said Al-Khazzir, “which means the effect of Greed activates.”

Hank groaned, as an aura of dark energy surrounded him.



(H: 5,500) - - - - - - - - - - (AK: 5,000)


“There are limits to what you can accomplish with a deck full of Monsters with nonexistent Attack Scores, Hank,” he continued. “No matter how well you defend, those defenses can’t last forever…”

They don’t need to… thought Hank. They only need to last long enough to enact my true strategy…

He drew a card.

“I activate… Stonehenge!” he shouted.

He threw the card into his Disk, and with a loud rumble, the famous standing stones of Great Britain rose around the two duelists.

“Who built it?” he said. “What purpose did it serve? It’s a great mystery that modern man has never discovered… But the card that invokes its power lets me raise a Monster from my Graveyard, so long as its Attack Score is zero.”

With a loud rumble, Ashoka Pillar rose out of the ground again. (2,200 DEF)

“Next,” he said, as another Spell Card appeared in front of him, “I activate Piri Reis Map.”

As he played the card, a very old map depicting the world on yellowing parchment appeared behind him.

“And like a map to buried treasure,” he said, looking through his deck, “this map lets me search for any Monster that has zero Attack Points.”

He quickly chose a card, and put his deck back again.

“Now, I summon it… The Cabrera Stone!”

In a burst of energy, a large stone shaped like an inverted teardrop, with ancient carvings on its surface, appeared in front of him. (0 ATK)

“However… Since I searched for it with Piri Reis Map, I have to cut my Life Points in half…”



(H: 2,750) - - - - - - - - - - (AK: 5,000)


“This is unreal…” muttered Al-Khazzir, in disbelief. “Are you dueling me or holding a garage sale?”

“For shame, Al-Khazzir,” said Hank. “You tell people you’re a treasure hunter and a dealer in priceless artifacts, and yet you have no respect for things like these. Seems all you care about is the money you can make selling them to shady collectors who want things they can’t get any other way.

“Well, I’ll show you respect… You ever hear of the Rule of Three?”

“Rule of Three?” asked Al-Khazzir.

“It’s one of the fundamental rules of the universe,” said Hank. “Things always come in threes. Wishes come in threes. Events come in threes.

“Deities come in threes…

“And artifacts of great power also come in threes, like the three I have here!”

A Spell Card appeared, and it glowed with a powerful aura of energy.

“I play… Triangle-O!”

Then the whole shrine began to rumble. A beam of energy shot from Crystal Skull to the apex of Ashoka Pillar. Then the same beam shot to Cabrera Stone, then to Crystal Skull again, linking the three Monsters with a triangular border.

“What’s going on?” shouted Al-Khazzir.

Then the three Monsters started to crack and chip.

“When all three of these artifacts are brought together,” said Hank, “their power is unleashed in a mighty triangle of energy, which lays waste to all before them!”

Then Crystal Skull, Ashoka Pillar, and Cabrera Stone exploded in a mighty blast of colored lights. The darkness of Mystic Plasma Zone was blown away, and the three Fiends screamed right before they were blown to atoms.

“You destroyed everything on the field!” gasped Al-Khazzir.

“And that’s not all!” replied Hank. “All the damage I would have taken from my three artifacts being destroyed is taken by you instead!”

Al-Khazzir screamed as a bolt of pure energy struck him…



(H: 2,750) - - - - - - - - - - (AK: 2,000)


…and then he laughed an evil laugh…

“Fool…” he said. “You haven’t won yet… And you’ve already summoned this turn. You have nothing to defend you! On my next turn, I’ll wipe you out!”

“Next turn?” said Hank, closing his eyes. “You aren’t gonna get a next turn, pal.

“I haven’t attacked yet, meaning it’s still my first Main Phase, meaning there’s plenty of time for me to Special Summon a Monster.”

“Oh, then by all means, summon another piece of junk,” replied Al-Khazzir.

Hank glared at him.

“Junk…” he growled. “I’ll show you junk…

“I remove from play Crystal Skull, Ashoka Pillar, Cabrera Stone, Morphing Jar, and Stone Statue of the Aztecs…”

All five cards fell out of his discard slot.

“…and as a result, I can Special Summon my Megarock Dragon! How’s that for junk?”

In an explosion of dirt and dust, a huge Monster appeared on his side of the field with a rumbling growl. It looked like a huge, rough boulder in the shape of a wingless dragon.

“WAIT a minute!” shouted Al-Khazzir.

“And its Attack and Defense equal 700 times the number of Rock Monsters I just removed from play,” added Hank.

(3,500 ATK)

“I seem to remember you asking me whether or not any of my Monsters were capable of attacking. I never said that I didn’t have any that weren’t…”

“Mommy…” said Al-Khazzir, looking at the huge Monster.

“Megarock Dragon,” ordered Hank, “attack directly and take him out!”

Megarock Dragon exhaled a bolt of burning energy from its jaws, and the janni screamed as he was thrown back ten feet.



(H: 2,750) - - - - - - - - - - (AK: 0)


Hank deactivated his Disk. He reached into his pocket and took out a portable recording device.

“Okay, ‘old friend’,” he said. “We had a deal, remember? So start talking, or I’ll be leaving.

“Let’s start this with the statue I found in Crete last February.”

Al-Khazzir looked over his shoulder. Somewhere in the distance, a wolf howled.

He considered for a few seconds taking his chances with the giff… Would they be more dangerous than everyone who would be angry at him if he talked? All his buyers, who would be charged with receipt of stolen property? And to say nothing of everyone that he had stolen from who would be after him…

Self-preservation won out. He’d be a lot safer in jail.

“Ahem,” he said, clearing his throat.



* * * * * * * * * *


At this time, it was eleven AM in Neo Domino.

Ember and Jinx were sitting at the table in the kitchen.

“So, what was so important that the boss wanted to talk to you about?” asked Ember.

“You,” said Jinx. “Congratulations… He thinks you’re ready to take your first test…”

“Uh…” said Ember. “Written or oral?”

Jinx shook her head.

“All apprentices are tested four times,” replied Jinx. “The tests are designed to test their smarts, wits, and ability to adapt. Jalal says that the specific tests ‘come to him’, but I think that’s a load of BS…

“Anyway…”

She handed Ember the card that Jalal had given her.

It was the Equip Spell, Broken Bamboo Sword.

“Uhm…” said Ember.

“Calm down,” said Jinx. “You don’t put that in your deck. Broken Bamboo Sword is the name of the specific test.

“It works as follows. The next time you duel in the service of the Shadowchasers, you have to win without attacking even once.”

“Is that all?” laughed Ember. “Easy! I can…”

“Ahem…” said Jinx, handing her the sheet of paper.

“What’s this?” asked Ember.

“That’s a list of cards you aren’t allowed to use,” replied Jinx. “In addition to any other illegal cards.”

Ember looked at the list, and her face fell as she read it. This certainly would not be easy.

Every card that allowed an automatic win condition was not allowed: Exodia, Destiny Board, and Final Countdown. Also forbidden were Gravity Bind, Level Limit Area B, and Messenger of Peace. Both Spirit Reaper and Marshmallon were on the list as well, making it impossible to stall that way. Solar Flare Dragon, Fire Princess, and Lava Golem were not allowed, along with many other traditional burn cards. So were Needle Worm, Morphing Jar #2, and several other cards that were essential to a Mill Deck.

There were many easy ways to design a deck that didn’t involve attacking… But this list disqualified all of the well-known ones.

“These tests are designed to test your creativity as well, Ember,” said Jinx.

“And if I can’t do it?” asked Ember.

Jinx chuckled.

“You won’t flunk out, Ember,” she said. “But you’ll have to wait a while before making a second attempt.

“And by the way, when designing your deck, I’m the only one allowed to help you. Don’t ask Shichiro or Gears for help with this.”

“Yeah…” said Ember. “Uhm… Where are they anyway?”

“Oh, uhm…” said Jinx. “Shichiro drove somewhere out of town to look up some information on the Regalia. And Gears…

“Gee, I don’t even know where he is…”


It seemed a daunting task… Win without attacking, with most strategies that didn’t involve attacking not allowed. A few possibilities came to me at first – I could build a Simochi Deck, or a Greed Deck, or one of those decks that I heard of that used Life Equalizer as the primary weapon. I could use Ectoplasmer, if I wanted to use a darker theme. The only problem was, I had to win with this deck, and with almost every lockdown card not allowed, it was going to be very, very hard. How do you reduce your opponent’s Life Points without attacking while protecting yourself at the same time, when all of the traditional ways of doing so aren’t allowed? Every Continuous Spell and Trap that did so with no cost seemed to be on that list. (And do not tell me that Messenger of Peace has a cost. It technically does, but no duelist has ever been forced to stop paying for it because his Life Points were too low.)

Of course, I didn’t expect my advancement into the Shadowchasers to be easy. I knew it was going to be daunting. I rather wondered what the other three tests were going to entail…



CRYSTAL SKULL (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Rock/Effect
Attribute: Water
Level: 1
ATK: 0
DEF: 0

Card Description: When this card is Normal Summoned, Flip-Summoned, or Special Summoned, inflict 1,000 points of damage to the Life Points of its controller.

Crystal Skulls are artifacts made from quartz carved in the shape of skulls, which were once claimed to be unique to Latin America, and pre-Columbian in origin. They are remarkable for their near-flawless construction, which is difficult even with today’s technology. However, most Crystal Skulls have been proven to be hoaxes.



ASHOKA PILLAR (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Rock/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 3
ATK: 0
DEF: 2,200

Card Description: When this card is destroyed, inflict 2,000 points of damage to the Life Points of its controller.

The Pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns found in the northern Indian subcontinent, erected by the Mauryan king Ashoka during his reign in the 3rd Century BC.



CABRERA STONE (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Rock/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 1
ATK: 0
DEF: 0

Card Description: If this card is in face-up Defense Position, destroy this card. When this card is destroyed, inflict 1,000 points of damage to the Life Points of its controller.

Reportedly found in a cave in Peru, the Cabrera Stones, or Ica Stones, are large carved stones. They are remarkable at first sight, because whatever ancient civilization carved them apparently had knowledge of blood transfusions, manned flight, and dinosaurs. However, like Crystal Skulls, most of them have been confirmed to be hoaxes.



CURSE-RETURNER HITOGATA (Spell Card)

Quickplay Spell

Image: A man-shaped paper doll, pulsating with energy.

Card Description: Activate this card when you would receive damage from the effect of a card that you control. Negate the damage, and inflict the same amount of damage to your opponent.



STONEHENGE (Spell Card)

Equip Spell

Image: Stonehenge, seen from above.

Card Description: Special Summon a Monster from your Graveyard that has 0 ATK and Equip it with this card. If this card is destroyed, destroy the Equipped Monster.

Very few people have not heard of Stonehenge. This mysterious set of standing Stones in Great Britain dates back to prehistoric times, long before there was a written language or any civilized structures. Simply moving the Stones, which weigh many tons, to the site would have been difficult for any primitive culture; placing the horizontal Stones atop the vertical ones would have been nearly impossible. Whoever built it and what purpose it served is unknown.



PIRI REIS MAP (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: An old fashioned map depicting the world, made of yellowing parchment.

Card Description: Select 1 Monster in your deck with 0 ATK and add it to your hand. If you summon the searched-for Monster, you must pay Life Points equal to half your current amount.

The Piri Reis Map was created by 16th Century Ottoman-Turkish admiral and cartographer Piri Reis. The map shows part of the western coasts of Europe and North Africa with reasonable accuracy, and the coast of Brazil is also easily recognizable. It also shows various Atlantic islands such as the Azores and the Canary Islands, as well as Antilla, a mythical island that was believed to exist at the time. The most remarkable feature of the map is the depiction of a large, southern landmass, which leads many modern scholars to believe that Piri Reis was one of the first cartographers to acknowledge the existence of Antarctica.



TRIANGLE – O (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: Crystal Skull, Ashoka Pillar, and Cabrera Stone against the night sky with a rocket flying past in the background.

Card Description: You may activate this card when you control at least 1 each of the following face-up Monsters: “Crystal Skull”, “Ashoka Pillar”, and “Cabrera Stone”. Destroy all cards on the field. Any damage that you would receive from cards being destroyed by this effect is negated, and the same amount is inflicted to your opponent.



TOTEM POLE (Trap Card)

Continuous Trap

Image: A Native American-style totem pole with three carved faces, colored yellow, blue, and red. (Possibly, these three faces represent the three Egyptian God Monsters, due to their colors.)

Card Description: When your opponent declares an attack against a Monster, you can use the effect of this card to negate the attack. After using the effect of this card 3 times, destroy this card.

Totem poles are Native American artifacts found among the indigenous cultures of the Pacific northwest of North America. They are monumental structures carved from trees, usually cedar, and can depict lineages or notable events, depending on the specific culture.

Note: The proceeding eight cards were cards included in the Hidden Treasure Deck belonging to Yanagi Tenzen. Both he and Yusei used them in the multi-part “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s” episode “The Facility”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



Coming up next:

Shichiro drives out to the country to meet with someone whom he believes has information on the Regalia of Day. But he gets more than he bargained for, as he is forced into a confrontation with a soulless beast that exists for no purpose other than to kill. To make things worse, in the dangerous Turbo Duel that follows, the ultimate hypocrisy is shown as this demon unleashes a Monster known to be in the hands of a great hero. Can Shichiro defeat this beast? “Overdrive” is coming up next.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
19th February 2009, 04:00 AM
Interesting chapter. The deck was cool, although I saw the 5D episodes, it was no surprise what strategy hank would use. And megarock dragon does not make up for that.

I'm actually really thrilled on the deck that Ember will create, and her opponent's. I wonder how she'll fare at the test.

Dark Sage
19th February 2009, 08:03 AM
I know, MLG, I'm not so dumb as to think that most folks didn't know that Hank was going to use Triangle-O. However, that chapter was supposed to merely introduce Hank. When he appears again (and he will) you'll see that the Triangle-O strategy isn't the only way he can use that same deck. I added several other cards that will make it far more interesting the second time around.

Shuppet Master
19th February 2009, 08:33 AM
There's a error I have to point out, Crystal Skull was destroyed, so how it show up again for Triangle-O to be used? Hank didn't bring it back to the field, so there was only Ashoka Pillar and the Stone of Cabera.

Still, I like how you modified Yinagi's deck. ^_^

Poor Ember, it's going to be hard to win a duel without attacking when most of the usual burn tactics are not allowed. I am going to be curious how you pull this off, Brian. ;)

mario72486
19th February 2009, 03:50 PM
Crystal Skull wasn't destroyed. Hank saved it twice - first through Spirit Barrier, and the second through the effect of Totem Pole.

It's nice how you've taken your time introducing the characters, although it did slow things down a bit. I'm sure the momentum will continue to pick up with the coming chapters.

Win without taking damage, and without using the classic stall/burn cards, hm? I'm gonna predict an Empty Jar deck. But knowing you, you've come up with a far better strategy to implement.

(edit): Never mind. After checking back, I neglected to see that mill cards are forbidden, also. Whoops.

Anyway, keep it up, DS.

Dark Sage
19th February 2009, 03:55 PM
Okay, let me clarify.

There's nothing in the rules of Broken Bamboo Sword that says Ember cannot take damage. She must win without ever declaring an attack. However, she is not allowed to use most of the cards that usually go in a deck that wins without attacking, such as the ones that were mentioned on the chapter. So most easy options for building this kind of deck will off-limits.

And let me say right away, it will not be an Empty Jar Deck. I will say, however, that being able to use anime-only cards helped a lot.

Shuppet Master
20th February 2009, 11:30 AM
*rereads part* Oops, I thought I had seen Crystal Skull get toasted. My bad. :(

And I've never heard of an Empty Jar deck, but I'm guessing it's a deck using the Morphing Jars to deck your opponent out, huh?

So, I'm not trying to predict anything, but I'm guessing a Lava Golem deck which uses Spellbinding Circle to prevent it from attacking. But don't say if I'm right or not, I want to see if I was right when the chapter comes out. ;)

MeLoVeGhOsTs
20th February 2009, 01:00 PM
Lavagolem is banned.

Shuppet Master
21st February 2009, 11:06 AM
Okay, I wasn't sure if it was on the list. But I'm thinking an unconventional burn deck, because there is no way to win without attacking unless you (a) mill them and mill cards are on the list, (b) burn them - but not all the burn cards are on the list, there are ways to damage their life points that the list does not cover.

I'm sure Brian has already thought out Ember's test deck and is going to make us drop our jaws and go "OMG! I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT! I HAVE TO TRY OUT THAT DECK!!!" Gawd, I can't wait for the update! No pressure, Brian. ;)

Dark Sage
23rd February 2009, 07:57 AM
Author’s note: This chapter features a very popular Monster whose effect needs a bit of an explanation. Its effect in the OCG (and thus in the anime) is different than its effect in the TCG. Why this is, I have no idea. For this fic, I will use the TCG version, and we will assume that it is the version used in the anime world as well.




CHAPTER FIFTEEN




http://www.ideal808.com/images/psv-0601.jpg



As I was thinking about this, Shichiro was about twenty miles outside of Neo Domino, driving through a series of farmlands.

Now, the most striking thing about Japanese agriculture is the lack of land on which to place farmland. Nonetheless, much of the available countryside is cultivated. Most farms are rice paddies. Those that aren’t, which included the ones that Shichiro was driving through, use a heavy system of crop rotation. They grow wheat and barley in the fall, and sweet potatoes, vegetables, and dry rice in the summer. Intercropping is a common practice; beans and peas are often grown with the same crops.

Shichiro wasn’t interested in any grain or vegetables now, however. He was more interested in a mechanic who lived out here who could fix farm machinery better than any other mechanic could… Unfortunately, he tended to mess up when trying to build things on his own.

Why was Shichiro coming here? Because this person had hobbies… Among them, reading about dwarven artifacts…



In the apartment that Max Irons shared with his roommate, who was another dwarf belonging to the clan of mountain dwarves that lived in Neo Domino, Max was putting some things in a duffle bag. His roommate was incredibly worried.

“You sure you want to do this Max?” he asked. “Working for DaPen is not the best idea!

“The guy who used to clean the carpets in the lobby knew a guy who used to work for DaPen… Something happened to him that made him so scared, he left Neo Domino for good, and moved to Nikko. You want to end up in Nikko?”

Max zipped the duffle closed.

“Look, Byron,” he said. “It’s either this or go to work as some handyman.

“Besides… I tried to work for the system, and the system threw me out. I’m an old fashioned guy, and there’s an old fashioned proverb that dwarves used to say…

“If it doesn’t fit, bend it.

“If it still doesn’t fit, break it!

“This system isn’t gonna fit with me no matter how much I bend it. So if I have to break it, then so be it…”



* * * * * * * * * *


The sun was at high noon as Shichiro drove his D-Wheel down the roads through the farmlands. He didn’t like trips that took him away from the city much. He just wasn’t much of a country guy.

What could he say? This was all part of his job.

His goal quickly came into view over the hill. A large scrap yard by the side of the road, next to an equally large garage, with a sign over the front that said “Zagwik’s Fixit Shop”. It was a place where anyone who worked around these parts could bring a broken down thresher or tractor, and have it fixed within a week.

Only Shadows and Awares knew that Zagwik – an odd name to say the least – was a Shadow who was hard to trust with machinery. He was a gnome.

Gnomes were Shadows that could most likely trace their ancestry back to dwarves at some point in the distant past. They were a little shorter, had shorter beards, and had more cheerful dispositions. But while dwarves were traditionally known as expert smiths, miners, and metalworkers, gnomes were much fonder of technology. They loved to build things, and loved to invent.

The problem was, the majority of gnomes weren’t very good at it. They were good at fixing existing machinery, but their inventions never turned out the way they planned, if they ever worked at all. It was quite common for a gnome to wreck his workshop when an experiment blew up in his face (or even worse, injure himself doing so).

One famous clan of gnomes that lived in Zurich had found moderate success as a consulting firm. They were very successful in developing natural disaster relief programs for third-world countries, to name one of their projects. However, even their clients found their inventions – self-winding pasta, automated necktie tiers, and instant mildew – odd to say the least. Shadowkind were never surprised at what the firm came up with, but Mundanes thought of them as eccentric geniuses.

There was a popular legend about one gnome who had actually invented a new type of charcoal grill while intending to perfect a new refrigerator. Maybe it was just a legend, but if it had actually happened, it would come as no surprise.

Shichiro was here because Zagwik was a close friend of many dwarf clans, as most gnomes were, and he liked reading about dwarven history and artifacts. Shichiro reasoned that perhaps he’d know something about the Regalia of Day.

He parked his D-Wheel at the side of the garage, where the door was, and took off his helmet. He saw that Zagwik’s moped was parked out front, so he was clearly home.

“Zagwik?” said Shichiro, opening the door.

He walked in.

He didn’t see Zagwik, but that was hardly a surprise. The front room of the garage was piled high with junk and half-finished projects. Ironically, the scrap yard next door was more organized.

“Zagwik, are you here?” he called.

“Not so loud!” came a whisper.

Shichiro looked around, and saw the gnome hiding under a table. He was about four feet tall, with unkempt white hair, dressed in a pair of overalls that was covered with oil stains, and a tool belt full of wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, and other tools.

“Zagwik, what are you doing?” asked Shichiro.

“Uh…” muttered the gnome. “I… dropped my pencil…”

Shichiro looked at him with a suspicious glance.

“Yeah…” he said. “Look, Zagwik… You didn’t return my call, so I thought I’d drop by…”

“Oh, yeah…” said Zagwik. “About the Regalia of Day… Uhm… This really isn’t a good time…”

“Zagwik, what’s going on?” asked Shichiro. “Who are you hiding from?”

Zagwik gave an ominous look towards the door to the back room, which led to his workshop.

“What’s in there?” asked Shichiro.

“NO!” whispered Zagwik, in panic. “Don’t bother it…”

“Zagwik, what is going on?” demanded Shichiro.

“I was going to call for help, but it threatened to squash me flat if I did…” moaned Zagwik, starting to cry. “I’m being held hostage…”

“By what?” asked Shichiro.

“I was curious…” cried Zagwik. “Remember how you always warned me about being too curious, how I was going to find something powerful, and how it would be too dangerous for me to handle? Well, I did, and it is!

“It all started when I found a formula in one of my old books that showed how to open a portal to Autonomous, the Demiplane of Invention…”

“Zagwik, you didn’t…” said Shichiro.

Zagwik nervously nodded.

“Zagwik, you stupid…” exclaimed Shichiro. “You tried to open a portal?? Only licensed members of the League of Wizards are allowed to do that! There’s a reason for that rule!”

“I know, I know,” sobbed Zagwik, “and when I did it, at first it looked like it didn’t work. But… apparently, I summoned something bad from that place.”

“What did you summon?” demanded Shichiro, grabbing him by the collar.

“I’m not sure,” replied Zagwik. “A day later, I was working on a hobby of mine, trying to restore an old 1981 DeLorean DMC-12…”

“Don’t tell me you were trying to build a time machine?” said Shichiro, almost laughing.

“NO!” exclaimed Zagwik. “Of course not! I was just restoring an old car! Nothing wrong with that, right? But… Something that I summoned kinda brought it to life…”

Just then, a very loud honking, like an amplified car horn came from the back room. Then they heard a noisy motor starting up.

Before Shichiro could do anything, a DeLorean burst through the door and part of the wall. It looked like it had not only been restored, but changed from the basic design a great deal. Its chassis was covered with spikes and serrated edges.

“WHAT’S ALL THE RACKET?” boomed a voice coming from the car.

“Oh no!” gasped Zagwik. “It heard us!”

“Zagwik, you idiot!” shouted Shichiro. “That’s a demonic auto!”

“Give the man a cigar!” laughed the auto, in a crude tone. “And I think it’s time ta blow this joint! Outta the way!”

Then the demonic auto’s engine started, and it sped straight for Shichiro and Zagwik. Shichiro grabbed the terrified gnome and dodged out of the way, as it plowed past them and through the garage door leading outside.

“Time ta roll!” laughed the auto. “Hasta la pasta, suckers!”

Shichiro got up as the thing started to drive away, laughing loudly as it did.

“I gotta stop that thing…” he said, through his teeth.

He ran out to his D-Wheel, and leapt on.

“WAIT!” shouted Zagwik, running out. “What do I do if it comes back?”

“Pray!” replied Shichiro, as he donned his helmet.

“Not very reassuring…” muttered Zagwik.

Shichiro started up his bike, and sped after the creature, following the trail of flattened crops and thick smoke it was leaving.

Shichiro knew that he had to stop it at all costs before it reached Neo Domino. Demonic autos were cruel beasts that hated all life. If it got to the city, it would run down every pedestrian in sight, and smash through any other vehicle it encountered. To make things worse, its chassis was reinforced by magic that made it as hard as titanium, giving it an unfair advantage in any demolition derby.

Of course, Shichiro didn’t really know how he was going to stop it. A D-Wheel was faster than the average car, but nowhere near as tough. And this was not the average car.

There was only one plan he could think of right now, and it was a dangerous one. It likely had only one weak spot – its tires. If he could get close enough to strike at them with his sword, he might be able to bring it to a halt. Unfortunately, of all the combat skills he had learned, jousting was not one of them. And slashing at its tires would be difficult at best, especially since it would likely be trying to run him down the whole time.

He was thinking about how slim his chances were, as he finally caught up to the monstrous car.

“Hey, back off, ya tailgater!” laughed the auto.

Then a cloud of black exhaust shot out of the auto’s muffler, forming a virtual smokescreen. Shichiro started to cough, but he made his way through it.

That had taken Shichiro by surprise. Cars that had run on gasoline had stopped being made over a decade ago, after all, so you never saw ones that could spout out that much exhaust.

He pulled up alongside the car, wondering how he was going to do this.

“So, motorcycle boy wants ta play, huh?” chuckled the auto. “Well, why don’t we have some fun, eh?”

Then its steering wheel lowered a bit, and a Duel Disk swung into place above it.

“A car with a D-Wheel system?” gasped Shichiro. “That’s certainly new…”

He hit a command on his own console.

“Duel mode engaged,” said the D-Wheel.

“Fine, you big hunk of junk,” he said. “I accept! Prepare to be sent back to the scrap heap!”

“Don’t you wish!” laughed the auto. “And be careful, fellah… Some of my best friends are hunks of junk.”

Twin Field Spells flashed into existence, and the farmlands were transformed into the shimmering realm of Speed World.

Never had to duel against a car before, thought Shichiro, but there’s a first time for everything, I suppose…



(Shichiro: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Demonic Auto: 8,000)


“Motorcycles have the right of way,” said Shichiro, drawing a card, “so I’m going first…

“I summon Command Knight!”

In a burst of flame, a female warrior flew onto the field next to his D-Wheel, wearing decorated, maroon armor, a cape, and a beret. She held a long sword and a shield. (1,200 ATK)

“Command Knight increases the Attack Scores of all Warriors on the field by 400 points, including her own.”

(1,600 ATK)

“I’ll set one card facedown, and that will be all.”

A facedown card appeared behind Command Knight, and then faded away.

The demonic auto chuckled. A card slid off of its deck and added itself to the other five cards stowed on its console. Both Speed Counters went up to one.

“Can she handle this?” it asked. “Since we’re on a farm, I think I’ll summon Mystic Tomato!”

A portal overhead opened, and a huge tomato with a silly face on the front and a large tongue leapt out. It bounced in front of the demonic auto. (1,400 ATK)

“Your move, meatball,” it said.

Meatball? thought Shichiro. Did it call me that name in the traditional sense, or because I’m flesh and blood, while it’s made of metal?

I’ll figure it out later…

He drew a card. Both Speed Counters went up to two.

“I summon Axe Raider!” he shouted.

The portal opened, and the barbarian holding his axe appeared from out of it. (1,700 ATK) –> (2,100 ATK)

“I should probably mention Command Knight’s other effect,” he continued. “You can’t attack her so long as I have another Monster on the field.”

“Oh, I’m shakin’ in my cylinders,” mocked the auto.

“Destroy Mystic Tomato!” shouted Shichiro.

Axe Raider flew at the Tomato, and made a chop with his axe. The Plant exploded into pulp, which splattered on the demonic auto’s windshield. It laughed, and its windshield wipers started to clear the stuff away.

Huh? thought Shichiro. That’s… That’s a pretty realistic hologram…

“I use Mystic Tomato’s effect!” laughed the auto. “I get ta Special Summon a Dark Monster with a low Attack Score. Like my Clown Zombie!”

A cackling laughter echoed over the field, and a new Monster appeared next to the auto. It was an undead clown, balancing on a colored ball, holding a long staff with a blade on the end. (1,350 ATK)

Shichiro raised an eyebrow.

Why that Monster? he thought.

“Command Knight, destroy it!” he ordered.

Command Knight slashed at the evil clown with her blade. It let out another cackle, and then shattered into pixels.



(S: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (DA: 7,050)


“I end my turn,” said Shichiro.

“My move again, meatball,” laughed the car, drawing another card. Both Speed Counters rose to three.

“I summon Mother Grizzly!”

Another portal opened, and a large grizzly bear with dark blue fur bounded out, running in front of the auto. (1,400 ATK)

Another Attribute searcher? thought Shichiro.

“Now I’ll toss this facedown,” said the auto, as a facedown card appeared in front of it, “and I end my turn!

“You think you can keep up with me? You might need to make a pit stop before long, and we’ve got a long way to go!”

Shichiro frowned as he drew a card. Both Speed Counters rose to four.

“If there’s one thing I hate,” he said, “it’s a chatty cabbie!

“I summon Warrior Dai Grepher!”

In another aura of energy, Grepher appeared, holding aloft his longsword. (1,700 ATK) –> (2,100 ATK)

“Take out Mother Grizzly!” shouted Shichiro.

Grepher made a slash with his blade, and the bear roared before being blown to shards.

“Now I get to summon a weak Water Monster,” said the auto. “And I think I’ll summon… Another Mother Grizzly!”

A second Mother Grizzly bounded onto the field. (1,400 ATK)

“Axe Raider, get it!” ordered Shichiro.

Axe Raider chopped at the Beast-Warrior with his axe, and it shattered as well.

The demonic auto laughed, and a third Mother Grizzly appeared. (1,400 ATK)

Shichiro pointed, and Command Knight drove her sword through the last one. It was blown apart.

“You’ve done it now, meatball!” laughed the car. “I use the last one’s effect to summon… Atlantean Pikeman!”

The portal opened again, and a new Monster flew out. It looked like an aquatic fish-man dressed in a loincloth, holding a long spear. (1,400 ATK)

What is the point to this deck? thought Shichiro. All it’s done so far is use Attribute searchers to summon two third-rate Normal Monsters…

“I end my turn.”



(S: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (DA: 5,450)


The demonic auto laughed manically as it made its draw. Smoke poured out of its exhaust pipe as it turned sharply. Shichiro and his three Monsters followed, the speed of both vehicles picking up as their Speed Counters rose to five apiece.

The auto’s facedown card lifted up.

“I activate The League of Uniform Nomenclature!” it laughed. “Now, I get ta bring out two more Pikemen!”

In two more flashes of energy, two more of the small Sea Serpents appeared. (1,400 ATK x2)

“Now I’m gonna show you why I’m the Master of Smash!” laughed the auto. “I summon Junk Synchron!”

In a small burst of energy, a small creature appeared next to the Pikemen. It looked like a cute robot in humanoid form, made to resemble a mechanic with a vest, hat, and boots. (1,300 ATK)

Shichiro looked up in shock.

Junk Synchron? he thought. I’ve certainly seen that guy before…

“When Junk Synchron is summoned,” chuckled the auto, “I get ta bring a Monster back from my Graveyard that’s Level 2 or less…”

Clown Zombie appeared next to Junk Synchron, crouching in Defense Mode. (0 DEF)

“Now, I’m gonna bring the two of ‘em together!” it laughed.

Suddenly, the whole point of this thing’s strategy became perfectly clear to Shichiro… And he didn’t like it one bit… The irony of the Monster that he knew was about to appear being in the hands of this cruel creature was a little too much…

Junk Synchron pulled a ripcord on its waist, and both it and Clown Zombie flew into the sky, where they split into five shimmering stars…

“Synchro Summon…” said the auto, “Junk Warrior!”

The Synchro Monster flew down from above. The aptly-named humanoid that appeared to have been built from scrap metal and spare parts, yet done so in a smooth, well-organized way… One of Yusei Fudo’s signature cards, and probably his favorite after Stardust Dragon. It was indeed Junk Warrior. (2,300 ATK)

Shichiro grit his teeth in anger.

“When Junk Warrior is summoned,” continued the auto, “it gains the Attack Points of all Level 2 or lower Monsters I’ve got. Since I’ve got three Level 2 Monsters with 1,400 Attack Points each, that adds up to…

“Uhm… It adds up to…”

It paused.

“Would the ‘Master of Smash’ like a hint?” growled Shichiro.

Junk Warrior glowed with an aura of energy… (6,500 ATK)

“Ah, there we go,” said the auto. “Turn Axe Raider into road kill! Attack with demolition punch!”

Junk Warrior let out a roar, and its jetpack ignited. It flew at Axe Raider and slammed its fist into him.

As Shichiro’s Monster shattered, he screamed in pain. He struggled to keep his D-Wheel upright.

He held his chest. That blow had hit him like a sledgehammer to the chest…



(S: 3,600) - - - - - - - - - - (DA: 5,450)


Shichiro slowly came to realization about just what he had gotten into… That wasn’t a D-Wheel created hologram that had attacked him…

…this was real…

It’s a demonic auto… he thought. A demon in the form of a car…

It was rare that the Shadowchasers faced true demons, but woe to the ones who did…

Demons knew the secrets of Shadow Games…

He realized he was in big trouble. That blow had wiped out four of his Speed Counters, leaving him with only one. And he was starting to lose ground fast. He had to recover and keep up with this thing… He didn’t want to think about what might happen to him should he actually lose…

“Look, pal…” he growled, “if you’re going to use fancy attack names, at least use the right ones. Junk Warrior’s attack name isn’t ‘demolition punch’, it’s ‘Scrap Fist’.”

“Eh, how would you know?” mocked the auto.

“Trust me, I know,” said Shichiro.

His facedown card lifted up.

“I activate Jar of Greed,” he said. “Now I get to draw once.”

He made a draw.

“And it’s my move…”

He made another draw.

His Speed Counter went up to two, while the auto’s went up to six.

Let me think… he thought, looking at Junk Warrior. How did this guy work again? It’s been so long…

Then he realized something as he looked up at Junk Warrior.

Every time he had that dream, where the four Monsters were blocking his path, this guy was clearly angry at him. That didn’t seem to be the case now.

It was hard to gauge the expression on Junk Warrior’s face, seeing as all it had there were two eyes that looked like lenses. And Shichiro was certainly not an expert in communicating with Duel Spirits.

But this time, all he saw when he looked at it was a mix of fear and pain.

Figures, he thought. It’s being controlled by a far more evil piece of junk…

Don’t worry, buddy, I’ll get you away from it…

“I summon Warrior Lady of the Wasteland!” he exclaimed.

The portal opened, and Warrior Lady flew out, holding her sword aloft. (1,100 ATK) –> (1,500 ATK)

“All together, people!” he said, pointing. “Take out those Pikemen!”

The three Warriors flew at the three Atlantean Pikemen. Warrior Lady, Grepher, and Command Knight made three slashes with their swords. All three of the Sea Serpents were blown to shards.

Shichiro looked at his console. Unfortunately, Junk Warrior’s Attack Score still registered at 6,500.

“You thought you could weaken Junk Warrior that way?” laughed the auto. “Poo on you! The bonus Junk Warrior gets when he’s summoned stays the same even when the other Monsters on the field change!”

I really need to study up… thought Shichiro.

He threw three cards onto his console, and three facedown cards appeared behind his Monsters.

“End!” he shouted.



(S: 3,600) - - - - - - - - - - (DA: 4,450)


Another card slid into place on the demonic auto’s console. Its Speed Counters went up to seven, while Shichiro’s went up to three.

A Speed Spell appeared in front of it.

“I play Vision Wind!” it laughed. “Now I get to bring back a low-Level Monster from my Graveyard!”

In a flash of light, one Atlantean Pikeman appeared. (1,400 ATK)

“Now, I summon The Calculator!”

A digital stream of ones and zeroes appeared in front of it, and another Monster appeared. This one looked like another cute robot, this one having a calculator for a torso, a screen for a face, and stubby arms and legs.

“To get points,” said the auto, “The Calculator adds up the Levels of all the Monsters I’ve got, and then multiplies by 300!

“And that equals… Uhm… That equals…”

“Man…” said Shichiro. “You aren’t very good at math, are you?”

The Calculator quickly worked out the problem, punching the numbers on its chest. (2,700 ATK)

“Aw, stuff it, meatball!” shouted the auto. “Here’s a number for you… Two-hundred and six!”

“Two-hundred and six?” replied Shichiro.

“That’s how many broken bones you’re gonna have when I’m through with you!” laughed the auto. “Junk Warrior, wax his Warrior Lady!”

Junk Warrior threw a mighty punch at Warrior Lady of the Wasteland, blowing her to pieces.

“I activate Defense Draw!” shouted Shichiro, as his facedown card shot up. “Now, I take no damage, and I get to draw a card!”

He made one draw.

“And I use her effect to Special Summon Obnoxious Celtic Guardian!”

The portal opened, and the armored, sword-wielding elf appeared. (1,400 ATK) –> (1,800 ATK)

“Whatever,” sneered the auto. “Calculator, attack Axe Raider! Number cruncher!”

The Calculator pointed, and fired a blast of numbers and mathematical symbols at the Warrior.

“Go, Negate Attack!” shouted Shichiro.

His last facedown card shot up, and the blast was halted by an invisible shield.

“So you last a little longer,” growled the auto. “I set two cards and end my turn!”

Two facedown cards appeared in front of it.

“That means your Pikeman goes back to the Graveyard,” added Shichiro, “due to the other effect of Vision Wind.”

Atlantean Pikeman shattered. The Calculator’s Attack Score fell to 2,100.

“Whatever!” laughed the auto, as Shichiro drew a card. “Look at you! You can barely keep up with me! Why don’t you just…”

Then it stopped short, as Shichiro pulled up next to it, hot on its tail.

“You were saying?” he replied.

“No way…” said the auto. “How did you…”

Then it noticed the Speed Counter gauges on its dashboard. Both its Counters and Shichiro’s were at the same number – eight.

“HOW?” it said.

“You weren’t paying attention, that’s how,” replied Shichiro. “When you activated Vision Wind, I responded with another Trap Card.”

“Slipstream?!” shouted the auto, looking at its controls.

“That’s right,” said Shichiro. “By activating it in response to a Speed Spell, my Speed Counters become equal to yours this turn. So what are you gonna do now?”

As if to answer, the door on the side of the auto next to Shichiro opened, flying open vertically like the gull-wing doors of the DeLorean DMC-12 were famous for. Shichiro barely avoided wiping out.

“Dirty pool, you obsolete marketing fad,” muttered Shichiro. “I summon Rose, Warrior of Revenge!”

In a burst of flame, Rose appeared in front of his bike, flying alongside his other three Warriors. (1,600 ATK) –> (2,000 ATK)

“So, you like Synchro Summoning?” he asked. “Well, let me show you one of my own!”

Rose closed her eyes, and then opened them, and they burned with fire. She and Obnoxious Celtic Guardian flew into the sky, where they vanished, forming into eight glowing stars.

“I Synchro Summon… Colossal Fighter!”

The light of Speed World dimmed, as the huge, cybernetic goliath landed, flying in front of Shichiro’s D-Wheel. (2,800 ATK)

“Colossal Fighter gains 100 more Attack Points for each Warrior in each Graveyard,” continued Shichiro. “At last count, there were four in mine, and one in yours.”

In five flashes of light, Axe Raider, Warrior Lady of the Wasteland, Rose, Warrior of Revenge, Obnoxious Celtic Guardian, and Junk Synchron appeared behind Colossal Fighter. They glared at the evil car before they vanished again. (3,300 ATK)

“And don’t forget, so long as Command Knight is here, all my Warriors gain an extra 400 Attack Points.”

(3,700 ATK)

“Destroy The Calculator!” shouted Shichiro. “Mega knuckle!”

Colossal Fighter roared, and threw a solid punch to the small robot. It shattered into small pieces. The demonic auto grunted slightly, as its Speed Counter went down one notch, to seven.

“All right, pal!” it shouted. “You just aren’t funny any more!”

“I never intended to be!” replied Shichiro, placing a card on his console.

A facedown card appeared behind Colossal Fighter.

“I switch Grepher to Defense Mode…”

Warrior Dai Grepher lowered his sword, and shielded himself with his free hand. (1,600 DEF)

“And that’s my turn…”



(S: 3,600) - - - - - - - - - - (DA: 2,850)


The auto made a draw, as its Counter went back up to eight, and Shichiro’s rose to nine. Shichiro pulled slightly ahead of it, and it was clearly angry.

One of its facedown cards lifted up.

“I activate Backup Soldier!” it cursed. “Now, I get my three Pikemen back!”

Three cards slid into place where it stowed its hand of cards.

“Now, I’ll summon one of ‘em!”

In an aura of energy, one of the Pikemen appeared again. (1,400 ATK)

“Next, I activate Graceful Revival!”

Its other facedown card lifted up.

“Now I can bring The Calculator back!”

In a flash of light, The Calculator reappeared. (2,700 ATK)

That’s it… thought Shichiro. Get angry…

“Junk Warrior…” ordered the demonic auto, “run Colossal Fighter off the road!”

Junk Warrior flew at the larger Synchro…

“GO! Trap Card!” shouted Shichiro. “Synchro Deflector!”

His facedown card shot up.

“Since you just attacked my Synchro Monster, I can destroy one Monster on your side of the field. Guess which one…”

A wave of powerful energy shot out of the Trap Card. Junk Warrior was engulfed by it, and shattered into pixels.

“Guess what, you rusty tin can?” asked Shichiro. “With your Level 5 Monster gone, The Calculator loses 1,500 Attack Points.”

The Calculator quickly fell to an Attack Score of 1,200.

“But Colossal Fighter is better off. Know why? Because I just added another Warrior to your Graveyard.”

A phantom Junk Warrior appeared behind Colossal Fighter, glaring at the demonic auto and crossing its arms. Colossal Fighter went up to an Attack Score of 3,800.

The demonic auto didn’t respond…

“Time to end this drag race…” said Shichiro, drawing a card.

“Command Knight… Fillet that fish!”

Command Knight slashed at the Atlantean Pikeman with her sword. It shattered into pieces. The Calculator’s Attack Score fell to a mere 600.

“Colossal Fighter, attack the Calculator with Mega Knuckle!”

The huge Synchro threw a solid punch at the small robot, blowing it to shards. The demonic auto hollered, and its windows shattered.



(S: 3,600) - - - - - - - - - - (DA: 0)


“You little creep!” screamed the auto, as it started to emit an aura of evil energy. “If I can’t outduel you, I’ll flatten you!”

The fiendish car tried to run Shichiro over, but Shichiro pulled back, slightly. The car started to swerve.

“Curse you!” screamed the auto. “Where are you? Crud, I can’t see! My windows are all cracked!”

Shichiro drew his sword from his back.

It’s now or never… he thought.

“Just wait till I find you, meatball,” cursed the auto, “you’re gonna wish you were never…”

Then it stopped short, as Shichiro’s sword struck its left rear tire, causing it to blow out.

“HEY!” screamed the auto. “What are you doing? That’s playing dirty!”

The blown tire had caused it to slow down tremendously, and gave Shichiro a lot of slack. As the car cursed and shouted, he pulled up, and repeated the move on its left front tire.

It was too much for the auto. With two tires out, it swerved, and came to a halt.

Shichiro still wasn’t done. He brought his bike to a stop, and leapt off. He ran up to the evil DeLorean. As the thing sputtered, he wrenched open the hood.

“HEY!” shouted the car. “What are you doin’? Get away from there?”

Shichiro grabbed hold of the battery with both hands.

“Stop!” screamed the auto. “Wait…”

Then with one powerful yank, he tore it free. Motor oil spurted all over him.

“Bastard…” groaned the auto. “I’ll get you for this, meatbaaaaaaaa…”

Then it went dead.

Shichiro dropped the battery, and then slumped to the ground, to catch his breath.



* * * * * * * * * *


Shichiro had just called a tow truck, and while he was waiting for it, he took the time to look through the dormant car’s deck, which had not disappeared, fortunately. He looked at the Junk Synchron and Junk Warrior, wondering what the heck he was going to do with them. He couldn’t simply sell them…

…and he certainly couldn’t use them himself. He didn’t think doing so would be right. Not after what had happened two years ago.

He heard the put-put-put sound of a moped coming his way. He slipped the two cards into a pouch on his belt, and then turned as Zagwik drove up.

“Oh, thank Garl you stopped it!” gasped the gnome. “Uhm… So what do we do with it now?”

“I called a tow truck,” muttered Shichiro. “You have a compactor in that scrap yard, right?”

“Uh, yeah…” said Zagwik.

“Good,” said Shichiro. “We’re gonna take this heap back and crush it into a cube. Only when the body is completely destroyed will the demon truly be banished.”

“Are you gonna take me in?” asked Zagwik, hanging his head.

“Listen, pal,” said Shichiro, “since no-one got hurt, except maybe me, I’m inclined to be lenient. I’ll tell Jalal that this was simply another case of a failed gnome experiment. He’ll understand…”

“Really?” asked Zagwik, lighting up.

“Provided,” replied Shichiro, “you hand over all of your books on Autonomous!”

Zagwik sighed.

“I guess if this thing came from there,” he muttered, “it’s not a very nice dimension anyway…

“Oh, by the way, I just remembered… I do know something important about the Regalia of Day!”

Shichiro looked at him.

“Well, don’t leave me hanging,” he said.

“Okay…” said Zagwik. “You know about the three Swords, right?”

Shichiro nodded.

“Well,” said Zagwik. “A fourth part exists.

“The Regalia was actually a joint project by both the dwarves and the elves. The dwarves, being master smiths, forged the three Swords, as you know.

“But powerful elven wizards of the Moonsilver Clan contributed to it, creating something called the Silver Hemisphere.”

“Pardon?” asked Shichiro.

“Well, it’s kind of like a display stand,” said Zagwik, forming a shape with his hands. “A hemispheric stand made of silver which the three Swords can be set into.”

“That’s it?” asked Shichiro. “A display stand?”

“No, it’s more than just a display stand!” added Zagwik. “Each Sword is powerful on its own, but the Silver Hemisphere is like a… hub piece that can combine their powers when all three of them are set in it!

“When all three Swords are set in the Silver Hemisphere, any being capable of spellcasting abilities, like the elves were, can use it as a… focus, and cast complex rituals and incantations that he normally wouldn’t be able to.”

“Like an amplifier?” asked Shichiro.

“Precisely!” replied Shichiro. “A wizard’s amplifier!

“It could make a bad wizard quite good…”

“And what would it make a wizard who was already ‘quite good’?” asked Shichiro.

“Well…” said Zagwik. “It could give a good wizard power that was comparable to Merlin’s…”

Shichiro rubbed his chin. Most people believed that Merlin was only a legend, but the Shadowchasers knew that he was real; he had been born from a virgin maiden who had been raped by a demon in an attempt to create an Antichrist. But the plan was foiled when the expectant mother informed a confessor, and the infant was baptized immediately after birth.

Nonetheless, the child’s demonic heritage had lasting results. As King Arthur’s fabled court magician, he was a sorcerer capable of incredible magical power, able to shapeshift, command the power of the natural world, and even see into the future (although Arthur did not always believe his prophesies).

If the Regalia could give some wizards the same potential… The consequences would largely depend on what they chose to do with it…



* * * * * * * * * *


At the townhouse, in the lounge in front of the ever-burning fireplace, Ember was sitting on the couch, going over piles of cards that she had brought from her apartment. Her cousin had always given her cases of cards for her birthday, Christmas, and any other occasion that called for gifts (getting them was easier when you were a pro) and they had accumulated during the years.

Right now, she was trying to decide just how to make a winning deck that didn’t involve attacking. It would have been a lot easier without the list of cards that weren’t allowed, which had so far quashed three of her ideas.

She held up a copy of Ebon Magician Curran, and a copy of Heart of Clear Water.

“Maybe if I combine these two…” she thought.

She picked up a copy of Nightmare Archfiends.

“Then activate this…” she said.

She picked up a Just Desserts.

“Maybe this too…”

She sighed.

“So much depends on the right draws… It looks good on paper, but if I actually tried it…”

Sorsha leapt up on the coffee table and meowed.

Ember sighed, and pet the cat.

“So many cards,” muttered Ember, as she rubbed Sorsha. “So many possibilities…”

“Meow,” purred Sorsha.

“Me-OUCH!”

Ember jumped.

“Would you mind not stroking me the wrong way?” asked the cat. “It’s very annoying!”

“You can talk?” squeaked Ember.

“Well, yeah,” replied Sorsha. “Don’t all familiars?”

Ember looked at Sorsha. She had forgotten all about that.

“Uhm…” said Ember, nervously. “I didn’t know that they did… Harry Potter had an owl…”

“You think you can compare my master to Harry Potter?” asked Sorsha, with a laugh. “Real wizards are nothing like Harry Potter. Rowling would have realized that if she were Aware, which she wasn’t. Harry bought his owl at some store. Real familiars have to be summoned with magic.

“I’m not really a cat, per se. Familiars are spirits who take the form of animals to help wizards when they’re summoned. Cats are the most traditional choice, but there are other possibilities, depending on the tastes of the wizard in question…

“Rabbits, rats, hawks, ravens, toads… Yes, sometimes owls, but wizards who have them don’t use them to send mail…

“I once knew a familiar who worked for a wizard who was also a pirate. Naturally, he took the form of a parrot. Point is, we’re willing to adapt when we’re summoned.”

“So…” said Ember, “what do you look like when you aren’t working for a wizard?”

Sorsha looked at her with an annoyed glare.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” replied Ember. “Did I just hit some sort of nerve?”

Sorsha sighed.

“If you must know,” said Sorsha, “suffice to say, a familiar’s true form is so hideously ugly and revolting, we jump at the chance to assume another form. That’s the whole reason we agree to answer the summoning spells wizards cast when they want familiars.

“But enough about me. I noticed that you were having trouble thinking up a strategy.”

“Am I ever,” sighed Ember. “But you aren’t allowed to help me…”

“Eh, I won’t,” said Sorsha, “but I see what’s happening. The same thing happened to my master when he tried to write a speech that he had to give to the graduating class at the Wizard’s Academy of Marseille. You’ve got a block.”

“A block?” asked Ember.

“A mental block,” said Sorsha. “You’re nervous, and it’s forming a wall blocking you from the solution. I’m sure you can…”

“WAIT,” said Ember. “What was that you just said right there?”

“Uh, I said you were nervous…” replied Sorsha.

“After that…” said Ember. “Something about a… wall…”

Before Sorsha could answer, Ember opened up the laptop in front of her, and quickly typed something into it.

Some images appeared on the screen. Ember’s face lit up…

She jumped up and grabbed Sorsha.

“Sorsha, you’re beautiful!” she beamed.

“Hey, watch it!” shouted the cat, as Ember hugged her. “I bruise easily!”

Ember put Sorsha down, then picked up her purse, and ran for the door.

“Where are you going?” shouted Sorsha after her.

“The card store!” called Ember back.

Sorsha looked after her as the front door shut.

“Well, it seems I gave her an idea,” she said, smugly.

Then her face fell.

“Darn! I should have asked her for something in return!

“Maybe next time… Maybe a nice catnip mouse…”


I had an idea, all right, and I needed to put it to practice while it was fresh in my head. I had an idea for the perfect deck that could win without attacking, even without all the cards I wasn’t allowed to use.

It would cost money to get the cards I needed, and Jinx had not yet told me how to access the trust fund that the Shadowchasers supposedly used. I wasn’t even sure if I was allowed to do so. But the bonus I had gotten from Mr. Draco would prove useful this time. After all, it didn’t look like I was going to be going to that resort in Bermuda for my vacation, as I had originally planned.

I knew that if this new “job” panned out, I could resign from my old one entirely. And I was willing to do all that I needed to do to make sure it panned out. No matter what the expense.


SPEED SPELL – VISION WIND (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: Speed Warrior surrounded by a Mystical Space Typhoon.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 2 or more Speed Counters. Special Summon a Level 2 or lower Monster from your Graveyard. The Monster Special Summoned by this effect is destroyed at the End Phase of your turn.

Note: “Speed Spell - Vision Wind” was first used by Yusei in the “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s” episode "Ready, Set, Duel!”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



SLIPSTREAM (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: A police car chasing another car.

Card Description: You may activate this card if you have less Speed Counters than your opponent, and your opponent activates a “Speed Spell” card. During your next Standby Phase, your Speed Counters become equal to that of your opponent.

Note: “Slipstream” was first used by Yusei in the “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s” episode “Pipe Dreams”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



Coming up next:

Ready to see more of the Allies of Justice? Next chapter, we see what Gears was doing while Shichiro was fighting that demonic auto. Love makes a man do strange things, and after Mistle’s traumatic experience, Gears is willing to do a lot to make her happy again. A duel with a wager against a sneaky Shadow ensues, where he finds that sometimes little things hold big surprises. “Card Trader” is coming up next.

Shuppet Master
23rd February 2009, 11:03 AM
Wall... I am guessing she's going to make a stall deck of some sort, then. ^_^

Loved that crazy duel with the demon car. And we learn that Shichiro has some sort of problem with Junk Warrior. Junk Warrior's the one you were talking about with the different effect? Wow, the TCG effect is very broken.

Can't wait for the next chapter ! ;)

Dark Sage
23rd February 2009, 12:57 PM
Well, Chris, the main difference between the rules for Junk Warrior in the TCG and the rules for it in the OCG are, in the OCG, its ATK can indeed change if the situation regarding its controller's Level 2 or lower Monsters changes. Using OCG rules, destroying the Pikemen would have indeed caused its ATK to go down. But on the other hand, adding more Level 2 Monsters would have caused it to become even stronger. Whether you use TCG or OCG rules, Junk Warrior can be incredibly powerful if you use it right.

Edit: Seems I was misimformed. The effect of Junk Warrior used in this chapter is also used in the OCG. It is only using anime rules that its ATK can be changed depending on the current situation.

But don't worry, this does not affect the chapter, and since I'm using the rules of the game anyway, it makes little difference.

Dark Sage
27th February 2009, 08:35 AM
CHAPTER SIXTEEN




http://www.ideal808.com/images/unlim-ston-en046.jpg



As I’ve said before, nymphs are the embodiment of beauty, and stories are told throughout history of men pursuing them. And even the gods themselves…

One of the most famous is one you may have heard of regarding the Greek god of prophecy and art, Apollo. Now, Apollo is always depicted as handsome, and described as a great lover. He likely could have had any woman he wanted, and indeed, he had many. But according to one famous story, he once fell madly in love with an especially gorgeous nymph named Daphne. (In one version of the story, he had been cursed by Eros, after Apollo had mocked Eros’s archery skills.) But Daphne was cold-hearted, and rejected him. Apollo wouldn’t accept no for an answer, and chased her. The elusive nymph prayed to either Gaia or the river spirit Peneus (depends on the version of the story), and was transformed into a laurel to escape from him, a tree that was just as beautiful. Apollo mourned for a while, but eventually made himself a crown with the branches of the tree. The laurel became sacred to him and his followers, and similar crowns were bestowed upon the winners of the Pythian Games, which were held in his honor. Most artistic interpretations of the myth focus on the moment of Daphne’s transformation.

Now, Gears is a gentleman, and he knew that there were easier ways to win a woman than chasing her. Since Mistle had been through a great deal, he had spent a lot of time thinking of the perfect way to make her smile again… He wanted to give her something that would last longer than any box of chocolates or any bottle of perfume.

And as Shichiro was dealing with that demonic auto, he was on his way to getting it…


As Ember exited the card store, she sighed.

She remembered a duel last year, one which stuck out in her mind more than most…

It was the closest she had come to that point to actually beating her cousin…



* * * * * * * * * *


Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner screamed right before she was incinerated by a blast of flame coming from Ember’s Infernal Flame Emperor.

It had been a long duel, and that was not good for Akira. Long duels are never good for anyone who uses Lightsworns.

Ember now had 2,000 Life Points remaining, her Infernal Flame Emperor, and one facedown card. Akira also had 2,000 Life Points, but after that last move, his field was now clear…

And more importantly, due to the discarding effects of his Monsters, he had only four cards left in his deck.

“It’s your move, Akira,” said Ember, anxiously.

“Don’t be too smug, Michiko,” replied her cousin. “You know that in this game, one draw can change anything.”

Right, thought Ember. You’ll only have three cards left once you draw… That’s not enough to use Celestia’s effect…

And if you summon Gragonith or Judgment Dragon, I’ll chain-activate my facedown Threatening Roar! You won’t be able to attack, and when you end your turn, your Monster will force you to throw out the rest of your deck! I’ll win!

Akira drew a card. He looked at it closely.

“Hmm…” he said.

He placed it in his Disk, and a facedown card appeared.

“I end my turn.”

Ember looked at him in shock.

No Monsters at all? she thought.

She quickly made a draw.

“You lose, Michiko,” said Akira.

“Huh?” asked Ember.

Akira’s facedown card shot up.

“It’s a Trap Card called Blasting the Ruins,” he said. “I can only use it when I have at least thirty cards in my Graveyard, and you know that I do.

“Since I do, you take 3,000 points of damage.”

Ember’s eyes bugged out as a swarm of boulders and rubble flew towards her, and then crashed into her. She fell down on her behind as her Life Points fell to zero.

“I lost…” she muttered. “When did you put that Trap in your deck?”

Akira offered his hand.

“A good deck is never truly finished, Michiko,” he said. “Cards in a deck have to work together, but they can work together in many ways. If you look long enough, you can always find a new way to use your cards. So many combinations make for so many possibilities.

Ember nodded.



* * * * * * * * * *


Ember looked through some of the cards she had just bought.

The deck she was thinking of making, the one that could win without attacking, would still be tricky. She hadn’t truly invented this strategy, and it was very unorthodox.

Would it work? She guessed she wouldn’t know until she used it…



* * * * * * * * * *


Gears slowly drove his D-Wheel down a dark street in Satellite.

This was a part of Satellite that most of the locals avoided. The buildings here were more unstable than the others. This wasn’t the most dangerous part of Satellite (the B.A.D. Area had that distinction) but it was a close second.

Mistle had not been herself since she had recovered from what DaPen had done to her. She had barely smiled, and hadn’t laughed like she used to. Clearly, she had not yet fully recovered from the traumatic experience.

Gears had seen something on a website that he knew would make her smile. But calls to all the card stores in town had turned up nothing. It seemed to be an incredibly rare card. But then again, cards like this were always pretty rare.

Then he called a contact he had. He apparently hit paydirt, but dealing with this contact would be hard, to say the least.

He looked ahead, and saw his destination. The old Limburger Cheese Co. factory. This place used to make dairy products (“Limburger” was the name of the brand of cheese, not the type it made) and after this part of town had become Satellite, this factory had become the meeting place for a particular clan of Shadows.

Popular media had glorified the image of the werewolf. Not many people knew, however, that werewolves were only one of a whole class of Shadowkind called lycanthropes. These creatures were humans who could take the form of beasts, or forms that were combinations of humans and beasts.

Werewolves were not the only type of lycanthrope, they were only the most well-known type. There were wereboars, werebears, werefoxes, wereravens…

The Shadows that Gears was coming to see were an infamous type… Wererats.

Wererats (or “ratmen” as they were sometimes called) did not have the savagery that werewolves were known for. Since their animal base was a scavenger rather than a predator, they were known for being sneaky and stealthy. While a werewolf would likely attack a victim up front, a wererat would rather attack by ambush with a knife between the ribs.

Wererats were hard to trust, but in places like Satellite, they were masters at finding things that others would miss. Scavenging and salvaging came second nature to them. So it was no surprise to Gears that the one he called claimed he had what he needed…

Whether or not it was the truth, he’d soon see.

Gears drove his D-Wheel right into the factory, into a large loading bay. He looked around.

“Maccal!” he shouted. “I’m here! Where are you?”

He turned his head, and saw three sets of glowing, beady eyes in the darkness in front of him.

“Really scary,” he muttered. “Come outta there…”

There was a chuckle, and three humanoid creatures dressed in dirty rags came into the light. There was no mistaking that they were wererats. They had rat-like faces with course, grey fur, and were dressed in dirty, worn clothing with hoods. An unpleasant odor hung about them; wererats didn’t bathe too often, if at all – they tended to live in sewers and other dirty places, so doing so would be pointless. It was not uncommon for them to be infested with lice and fleas, which didn’t seem to be as detrimental to them as it would to other races. One rumor stated that they never removed their clothes, but simply added new layers as their old ones wore out and moldered away.

“So nice of you to come,” said the one who seemed to be in authority.

“Look, Maccal,” said Gears, as he dismounted his bike, “I don’t have time for small talk. Do you have the goods?”

Maccal took a small case out of his rags, and opened it. Inside was a single Duel Monsters card.

“You didn’t steal it, did you?” asked Gears.

“Perish the thought,” replied Maccal, with a grin. “We simply know where to look in Satellite to find things, and we look in places where most folk never think to look. In Satellite, you learn early on how to find treasure where most folks only find trash.”

“Fine,” said Gears. “How much do you want for it?”

The three wererats chuckled a little.

“We don’t work like that, Gears,” replied Maccal. “We work on a strict barter system. See, it’s like this… When we find cards that we can’t use ourselves because they aren’t our style, like this one, we trade them for cards that we can use.”

“Simple, huh?” said another of the wererats.

“I figured,” said Gears, opening the pouch on his belt. “Word on the street is that you’re building a Dinosaur Deck.”

“Indeed I am…” replied Maccal. “One that will put all other Dinosaur Decks to shame. But sadly, it’s only about half-finished at the moment.”

Gears held up a card. It was Ultimate Tyranno.

“Will this help you finish it?” he asked.

Maccal looked at the card. He rubbed his chin.

“Ultimate Tyranno, eh?” he asked. “Well, that’s clearly a powerful card. But unfortunately, no. I’m looking for a different kind of Dinosaur.”

“Different kind?” asked Gears, in surprise. “There’s only one kind of Dinosaur! The big, ferocious kind!”

Maccal chuckled again.

“How little you know about Dinosaurs!” he laughed. “May I ask why you want this card anyway? It doesn’t seem your style either.”

Gears sighed.

“I… know a very special lady who would love to have it…” he said.

The three wererats chuckled again.

“How odd,” replied Maccal. “Most men go with flowers and chocolates when they want to woo a lady.”

“She already has more flowers than she knows what to do with,” said Gears, “and she doesn’t eat chocolate.”

“Heh, heh…” said Maccal. “Who am I to judge?

“Well then, Gears… Ultimate Tyranno may be useless to me personally… But it’s a rare card, and perhaps I could find someone who needed it eventually… But then again, I might not. Such uncertainty isn’t worth a simple trade.”

Gears closed his eyes.

Then he turned to his D-Wheel, and hit a command on the console.

“Disengaging Duel Disk,” said the D-Wheel.

The Duel Disk clamped onto his gauntlet. Then he placed the Ultimate Tyranno back in the pouch.

“You want me to ante it, brie breath?” he asked. “Fine. We’ll duel for it. If I couldn’t beat some sneak like you, I wouldn’t be in this business as long as I have.”

Maccal smiled. It was a very unpleasant smile, one that was mostly teeth.

He lifted up his arm, and one of his two partners attached a Duel Disk to it.

“I wouldn’t be so confident yet,” he said. “After all, like I said… We’ve been able to find cards that most folks have never heard of…”



(Gears: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Maccal: 8,000)


“I’ll make the first move,” said Gears, making a draw.

He looked over his cards, and chose one.

He set it on his Disk, and a defensive Monster appeared.

“That will do to start.”

“Then I’ll draw,” said Maccal, making a draw.

Then he started coughing loudly. Then the coughing turned into loud hacks.

Then he turned his head and spit on the ground.

“Ahem…” he said. “Excuse me… hairball…”

“Eww…” muttered Gears.

“Now where were we?” muttered Maccal, looking at his card. “Ah, yes… I’ll also set a Monster in Defense Mode.”

A hidden card appeared in his Monster Zone.

“That’s all for me…”

Gears made a draw, and looked at it.

Hmm… he thought.

He tapped his Disk, and his facedown Monster flipped into Attack Mode.

“I Flip-Summon Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive!” he exclaimed.

In a blast of steam, Dekoichi appeared in front of him. (1,400 ATK)

“Next, I summon my Machine King Prototype.”

In a burst of digital energy, the man-sized, humanoid robot appeared. (1,600 ATK)

“With one other Machine on the field, it gains 100 more points.”

(1,700 ATK)

“All right! Prototype, attack his Monster! Plasma blast!”

The Prototype’s eyes glowed. A small creature that looked like a dollop of whipped cream with two eyes, and an upside-down smile above them appeared on the card. The beam of energy simply bounced off. (500 DEF)

“Marshmallon?” asked Gears.

“That’s right!” laughed Maccal. “It can’t be destroyed, and since you attacked it, you lose 1,000 Life Points.”

Gears groaned as an aura of red energy surrounded him

“I end my turn…” he muttered.



(G: 7,000) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 8,000)


Maccal chuckled, and made a draw.

“I sacrifice my Monster…”

Marshmallon vanished.

“…to summon Zaborg the Thunder Monarch!”

Lighting flashed, and a towering figure, ten feet tall and dressed in white armor, with a large discus on his back, and a large, green sphere for a cranium appeared. He radiated an aura of intense electricity. (2,400 ATK)

“Good lord…” said Gears.

Lightning struck, and Machine King Prototype was blown to bits.

“You’re using a Monarch Deck?”

“No, no I’m not,” chuckled Maccal. “Zaborg simply fits into my deck in another way. You’ll find out how soon. Until then…

“Attack his Dekoichi!”

Zaborg shot a thunderous blast of lighting from his hands, and the Battlechanted Locomotive was reduced to scrap.



(G: 6,000) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 8,000)


“Good one, boss!” laughed one of the other wererats.

“Are you gonna bring the little guys out now?” asked the other one.

“Quiet you idiots!” shouted Maccal. “Do you want to blab my whole strategy to this human?”

“Uh, sorry?” replied the second one.

Little guys? thought Gears. What are they talking about?

He made a draw.

He looked over his hand, and then set a Monster.

“That’s all I can do,” he said.

“Then I draw!” laughed Maccal, drawing a card.

“Then I attack with Zaborg! Thunder strike!”

Zaborg shot his thunder bolt again, and Robotic Knight appeared on the card before it was blown away.

“Next,” said Maccal, placing a card in his Disk, “I play The Dark Door…”

A Continuous Spell appeared on his side of the field.

Gears raised an eyebrow.

I don’t get it, he thought. That means both duelists can only attack with one Monster per round. Why would he play that with Zaborg on the field?

“Next,” said Maccal, playing a Normal Spell Card, “I play Five Star Twilight!”

“Five Star what?” asked Gears.

“I need a Level 5 Monster to play this card,” explained Maccal. “It lets me get rid of my big Monster…”

Zaborg vanished.

“…to summon five small ones!”

Five small, colored stars flew onto the field, and they quickly changed into five small Monsters. One of them was clearly a Kuriboh. The other four also looked like Kuribohs, but they were different colors: purple, turquoise, pink, and white.

“Kuri! Kuri!” squeaked the five Kuribohs. (300 ATK x5)

“What the…” said Gears.

Either he just summoned five little multicolored Fiends, he thought, or Mars Candy is trying something new with M&Ms…

“Meet Kuriboh, Kuriba, Kuribe, Kuribi, and Kuribu!” laughed Maccal.

“Is there a point to this?” asked Gears.

“You’d be surprised,” replied Maccal. “I end my turn…”

Gears watched the five Kuribohs closely as he drew a card.

“I play Silent Doom…” he said, slowly.

He played the card, and Robotic Knight appeared in front of him in Defense Mode. (1,800 DEF)

“Now, I sacrifice it…”

Robotic Knight vanished.

“…to summon Ally of Justice Enemy Catcher!”

In the same burst of odd energy that heralded the arrival of all the Allies, a large and odd Machine appeared, hovering in the air. It looked like a big, mechanical squid, covered with bronze plating, with rocket engines on both sides and one in the center of its tentacles. (1,800 ATK)

Maccal smirked.

“Attack the normal Kuriboh!” shouted Gears. “Retro engines!”

Enemy Catcher fired a blast of flame from its two side engines at the small Fiend…

“Kuribi!” shouted Maccal. “Five Star Defense!”

The pink Kuriboh glowed, and a barrier that seemed to be made of shimmering stars sprang up and blocked the flames.

“What?” said Gears.

“Not so easy, is it?” asked Maccal. “Each of the Kuriboh Siblings has its own unique effect. Kuribi can negate one attack per round on itself or any of the others.”

Gears looked at Maccal.

“Okay, I have to know,” he said. “Why Kuribohs? Why do you favor them?”

“Do I have to have a reason?” asked Maccal.

Gears stared at him. Maccal chuckled.

“Actually, I do have a reason,” replied the wererat. “Do you know what the typical duelist’s opinion of a Kuriboh is?”

“Not very high?” asked Gears.

“Exactly,” replied Maccal. “Yugi Mouto used the regular kind… Judai Yuki used the Winged kind, but still, everyone looks down on Kuribohs!

“A common insult is to compare them to rats. Well, being a rat myself, I can sympathize. I ask people like that, what is wrong with rats anyway? Why are people so prejudice?”

“Maybe because rats carried the Black Plague in the Fourteenth Century?” asked Gears.

“That’s not true!” shouted Maccal. “That is a misconception! It wasn’t the rats that carried that plague, it was the fleas that were on the rats! Do you think folks like me enjoy having fleas?”

Then he suddenly started to scratch.

“Lovely… You made me think about it…

“Anyway… I put this deck together to show people just how tough rats can be, which can be pretty tough.”

“Just move already…” said Gears.

Maccal chuckled and drew a card.

He placed a card in his Disk, and a set card appeared next to The Dark Door.

He nodded.

Gears made a draw.

He’s clearly stalling until he draws something he needs, he thought. He likely intends to sacrifice two, or maybe three of those Kuribohs to summon something big.

Unfortunately, until I find a way to tear down his Door, I can’t do much to stop him…

He played two cards. A set Monster and a facedown card appeared.

“It’s your move,” he said.

Maccal made a draw.

“Heh, heh, heh, heh…” he chuckled.

“First, I’ll activate Kuribu’s unique effect,” he said, “which I can do by discarding one Trap Card.”

He quickly discarded a Dark Coffin in his hand, and the white Kuriboh started to glow, as did Enemy Catcher.

“It reduces the Attack Score of your Monster by 1,500 for one round.”

“Huh?” said Gears, looking at Enemy Catcher. (300 ATK)

“Next,” said Maccal, as his Field Slot opened, “I play Mystic Plasma Zone!”

He placed a card in it. An uncanny darkness started to creep over the field.

“This Spell increases the Attack Scores of all Dark Monsters by 500, in exchange for giving up 400 from their Defense Scores.”

The five Kuribohs glowed with energy. (800 ATK x5)

“You forgot one thing,” replied Gears. “My Monster is also a Dark Monster…”

Enemy Catcher also rose to an Attack Score of 800.

“…so all you can manage this round is a draw.”

“I didn’t forget, Gears,” said Maccal. “Just as I sacrificed my big Monster to summon five small ones, I’m going to sacrifice my small ones to summon a big one again…”

The five Kuribohs vanished into dark shadows. Gears’s eyes opened wide.

I expected a sacrifice, he thought, but all five?

“I summon the big cheese of my deck!” shouted Maccal. “Don’t try serving this guy with crackers… I give you… Kuribabylon!”

Two evil-looking eyes appeared in the darkness, followed by the rest of the creature. This was also a Kuriboh, but it was far less cute than the others. It had fangs, larger claws, and a single, long, sharp horn in the middle of its forehead.

“Eh?” said Gears. “That’s… Kinda scary, but it isn’t exactly big…”

“Oh?” asked Maccal. “For Kuribabylon to get points, we add up the Attack Scores that the five lesser Kuribohs had when they were sacrificed, and as you remember, each one had 800 Attack Points a minute ago…”

(4,000 ATK)

“WHAT?” exclaimed Gears.

“But wait, there’s more!” laughed Maccal. “Four-thousand is its base Attack Score! It’s a Dark Monster, meaning it still gains the 500-point bonus from the Field Spell…”

(4,500 ATK)

A Kuriboh with as much power as the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon… thought Gears. This is clearly one of the great ironies of life…

“Kuribabylon, attack his Enemy Catcher!” shouted Maccal.

Kuribabylon flew at the large Machine, and speared it with its horn. Gears shielded himself as the Ally exploded in a mighty conflagration.

“Ergh…” he grunted.



(G: 2,300) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 8,000)


Maccal looked at the last card in his hand.

“That’s all I can do for now…” he said. “It’s your move…”

Gears drew a card.

It was Dark Resonator.

He looked at the reversed Monster that was already on the field, and his facedown card.

This might work out… he thought.

He took the Tuner Monster, and placed it on his Disk. The new defensive Monster appeared.

“Your move,” he said.

Maccal chuckled as he drew.

He looked at the card. He quickly placed it in his Disk, and a second facedown card appeared.

“Kuribabylon, attack the Monster on the left!” he shouted.

Kuribabylon flew at the Monster, and Sangan appeared on the card. It exploded into pixels.

“Thank you!” laughed Gears, taking his deck.

“Humph…” said Maccal.

Gears found what he wanted, and shuffled his deck.

“My move, now,” said Gears, grinning.

He quickly made a draw. He looked at it, and added it to his hand.

Then his facedown card lifted.

“I activate DNA Transplant! Now I can change all Monsters on the field into Light Monsters. That means Kuribabylon looses its bonus.”

(4,000 ATK)

“It’s still stronger than anything you’re likely to summon,” replied Maccal.

“We’ll see,” said Gears. “I flip Dark Resonator into Attack Mode.”

His facedown card flipped, and the comical Fiend holding its hammer and tuning fork appeared. (1,300 ATK)

“Next, I Normal Summon Quillbolt Hedgehog.”

He played the card he had used Sangan to search for, and the small hedgehog with nuts and bolts in its back appeared. (800 ATK)

“Now, I Tune them together!”

Dark Resonator grinned, and struck its fork with its hammer. It and Quillbolt Hedgehog flew up to the ceiling, and turned into five stars.

With a flash of energy, Ally of Justice Catastor flew down to the floor. (2,200 ATK)

“How unfortunate…” mumbled Maccal.

“More than you know,” said Gears, “because your Monster isn’t Dark anymore, and Catastor’s attack can automatically destroy any Monster that isn’t.

“Catastor… Turn Kuribabylon into Swiss cheese! Platinum prism blast!”

Catastor fired its beam at the evil Kuriboh…

“I activate a Trap!” shouted Maccal. “Astral Shift!”

His facedown card shot up.

“Huh?” said Gears.

“This card works just like Absolute End, turning your attack into a direct attack…” said Maccal.

He cringed in pain as Catastor’s beam hit him.

“But it’s worth a little pain, because now I get to draw one card…”

He made a draw.

“…and because I lost at least 1,000 Life Points from that attack, I also get to Special Summon this handsome fellah…”

He placed a card on his Disk.

“Meet Ruklamba the Spirit King!”

The Monster that appeared was certainly not handsome. It looked like a humanoid alligator of some sort, with a long mane of tangled, wet hair, watery eyes, and a long, thick tail. It crouched in Defense Mode. (2,000 DEF)



Continued…

Dark Sage
27th February 2009, 08:37 AM
Continued from last post:



“Where do you find these cards?” asked Gears.

“Remember what I said?” asked Maccal. “We find treasure where most folks find trash. You wouldn’t believe what some people will throw away!”

“That’s right!” said one of the other wererats. “Just yesterday, I found this portable DVD player that looked like it had just been taken out of the box! I don’t know why anyone wanted to chuck it!”

“And he won’t share it with anyone…” grumbled the other wererat.

“You don’t even have any DVDs, Clyde!” replied the first one.

“Quiet, you two!” shouted Maccal.

Gears took a card from his hand.

“I’ll set a facedown, and end my turn,” he said.

A reversed card appeared.



(G: 2,300) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 5,800)


Maccal grinned evilly as he drew a card.

“Time to finish you off!” he laughed.

“I’ve heard enough…” said Gears.

His facedown card shot up.

“I activate Threatening Roar!”

A loud bellow echoed over the field.

“Now you can’t attack this round.”

Maccal looked at him.

“How unfortunate…” he muttered.

His facedown card lifted up.

“I’ll activate this Trap anyway… Compulsory Evacuation Device. This lets me send any Monster on the field back to the owner’s hand.”

“I was going to use it on Catastor at first, but your Threatening Roar ruined that idea. So I have to improvise. Instead, I’ll use it on Ruklamba.”

Gears’s eyes opened in shock, as Ruklamba turned to energy and flew back to Maccal’s hand, turning back into a card.

Why the heck would he do that? thought Gears.

“Moving along,” continued Maccal, as another Spell Card appeared, “I play Trade-In. Now I get to draw two more cards, so long as I toss a Level 8 Monster.”

He quickly discarded Ruklamba, and then drew two cards.

“Seems that it’ll be curtains for Kuribabylon next round,” said Maccal. “So I’ll use its other effect. I sacrifice it…”

Kuribabylon vanished.

“In return, I get to bring the five Kuriboh Siblings back. Once again, I trade my big Monster for five small ones.”

In five bursts of shadow, the five candy-colored Kuribohs appeared again. (300 ATK x5)

“Now,” he continued, “I remove all five of them from play…”

The five Kuribohs vanished into grains of light.

“…to summon Kuribandit.”

A new Kuriboh appeared in front of him. This one had black fur, fangs, and wore a bandana over its head and an eyepatch. (1,000 ATK)

“Mmph!” chuckled Gears, laughing. “A pirate Kuriboh? Now this is getting weird!”

“I’m not done,” replied Maccal. “I activate its effect. By sacrificing it, I get to draw five more cards.”

Kuribandit vanished.

“Say WHAT?” shouted Gears.

Maccal made five draws.

“Calm down, there is a catch,” he added. “I have to discard any of them that are Monsters.”

He looked at the five cards, and then discarded a second Kuriboh and a second Zaborg.

“Perfect!” he chuckled. “I bring my second Kuriboh back with Monster Reborn!”

The ankh appeared, glowing in mid-air, and the Kuriboh appeared in front of him. (200 DEF)

“Then, the Spell Card, Multiply!”

Kuriboh faded into a blur, and then split into five Kuribohs. They all squeaked in unison. (200 DEF x5)

“By sacrificing one Kuriboh, I get to summon five Kuriboh Tokens.

“I’ll set a card facedown, and that will conclude my turn.”

A reversed card appeared.

“Finally!” shouted Gears, drawing a card. “I didn’t think that was ever going to end…”

Nuts, nuts, NUTS! he thought. That wall will take forever to get through with his Dark Door there…

“Attack!” he shouted.

Catastor fired its blaster, and one of the Kuribohs was vaporized.

“Getting frustrated, my friend?” asked Maccal.

His facedown card lifted up.

“I activate Jar of Greed. Now I get another draw!”

He grinned, and drew a card.

“Just move…” growled Gears.

Maccal made another draw. He grinned again.

“I play the Spell Card, Detonating!” he laughed. “Get ‘em, boys!”

The four Kuribohs floated towards Gears’s side of the field.

“Huh?” asked Gears. “What’s…”

Then he screamed, as all four of them exploded, along with his Monster and his Trap Card.

“Detonating forces me to destroy all my Kuriboh Tokens,” chuckled Maccal. “But I also get to destroy one of your cards for each one.

“That’s all for this turn.”

Gears looked at him.

He’s got nothing on the field but his Dark Door, he thought. Now’s my chance…

He made a draw.

Well, at least I’ll make some headway…

“I summon Ally of Justice Blind Sucker!” he exclaimed.

He played the card, and a new Ally of Justice appeared. This one looked like a spherical cockpit, with two humanoid arms, six mechanical legs, and two large blaster cannons on the top. (1,600 ATK)

“Ulp…” said Maccal.

“Attack that rat directly!” shouted Gears. “Photon torpedoes!”

Blind Sucker fired one mighty blast from its dual cannons, knocking Maccal backwards and prone as he was hit by them.



(G: 2,300) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 4,200)


“Heh, heh, heh…” he chuckled, getting up. “Not bad, not bad…

“But now, it’s my turn…”

He quickly made a draw.

“I summon Winged Kuriboh!” he exclaimed.

He played the card, and another familiar Monster appeared, the flip side of the regular Kuriboh, the Fairy to its Fiend, the one with wings. (300 ATK)

“Attack Mode?” asked Gears. “In case you forgot, Winged Kuriboh’s effect doesn’t kick in until it’s actually sent to the Graveyard. You’ll still lose Life Points if I attack it.”

“True,” said Maccal. “But first, it’s going to attack your Blind Sucker…”

He played another card from his hand.

“…once I play Berserker Crash. Now I simply have to remove any Monster at all in my Graveyard from play…”

One of the two Thunder Monarchs fell out of his discard slot, and he pocketed it.

“…and for this round only, my Winged Kuriboh gains the Attack Points of the Monster I just removed.”

Winged Kuriboh fumed with anger, and glowed with an aura of energy. (2,700 ATK)

“Attack his Blind Sucker!” shouted Maccal.

The tiny terror flew up to Blind Sucker, and punched it on the blast shield. It cracked, and the whole Machine started to spark. Then it fell apart.



(G: 1,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 4,200)


“Heh, heh…” he said. “Your move…”

This is getting embarrassing… thought Gears.

He drew a card. He sighed as he looked at it.

The things guys will do for girls… he thought. They say that a face launched a thousand ships… A man built the Taj Mahal out of love for a woman.

If it’s true that men control the world, is it not women who direct the actions of men, time and time again?

He sighed.

I’ll think about that some other time… For now, it’s time to end this duel…

“I play my own Monster Reborn,” he said, as he played a card. “I’ll bring back Machine King Prototype.”

The ankh appeared again, as did the Prototype. (1,600 ATK)

“Next,” he continued, “I play the Spell Card, Ancient Rules. This lets me Special Summon a high-Level Normal Monster to the field from my hand. Like Ally Mind.”

He played the card, and an odd Monster appeared. It looked more like a big computer than an actual robot, roughly spherical in shape, covered with glowing circuits, wires, and ports. (1,800 ATK)

Maccal laughed out loud.

“A Level 5 Normal Monster with an Attack Score that low?” he chortled. “Why not include Dark Witch in your deck while you’re at it?”

“Ally Mind is a Tuner Monster,” replied Gears.

“Eh?” said Maccal.

“All right!” said Gears. “Let’s Tune-up this duel!”

The circuits and lights on Ally Mind blinked and flashed. Then it and Machine King Prototype flew to the ceiling, and turned into eight stars.

“I Synchro Summon… Ally of Justice Light Gazer!”

Light Gazer flew down, levitating on its hover jets. (2,400 ATK)

“There’s more,” said Gears. “For each Light Monster in your Graveyard, Light Gazer gains 200 more Attack Points.”

Zaborg and Marshmallon briefly appeared behind Light Gazer, and its Attack Score went up to 2,800.

“And don’t forget, thanks to your own Field Spell, now that you so conveniently destroyed my Trap Card, it gains 500 more Attack Points.”

(3,300 ATK)

“Fine,” said Maccal. “Destroy Winged Kuriboh… I haven’t lost yet…”

“But I haven’t Normal Summoned yet,” replied Gears, taking another card from his hand. “I summon Ally of Justice Unlimiter.”

He played the card, and a new Machine appeared. It looked like a large, robotic mosquito, with black armor, and circular disks for wings. (600 ATK) –> (1,100 ATK)

“Forget?” asked Maccal. “Thanks to my Dark Door, you can only attack with one Monster per round. And even if you do destroy it, once you destroy Winged Kuriboh, all other attacks won’t do anything.”

“I know, Maccal,” said Gears. “But one attack is all I’m gonna need.

“I activate Unlimiter’s effect. I sacrifice it…”

Unlimiter vanished into grains of light.

“…and in return, one other Ally of Justice’s base Attack Points are doubled for one round.”

Light Gazer glowed with an aura of pure energy… (5,700 ATK)

“Oh… no…” said Maccal.

“And that means it’s the end of the party, havarti,” said Gears. “Light Gazer, attack Winged Kuriboh with plasma cannon!”

Light Gazer pointed its weapon, and it started to glow.

“This isn’t good…” gulped Maccal.

A thunderous blast lit up the whole factory, as Maccal was thrown backwards by the impact that eradicated his Monster, slamming into his two cohorts in the process.



(G: 1,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 0)


Gears walked up to the wererat trader, who was seeing stars. He took out a leather glove and put it on. Rule number one about dealing with wererats: don’t touch them with bare hands.

He reached inside the lycanthrope’s ragged shirt, and took out the case that held the card.

“I’ll be taking this, if you don’t mind,” he said. “I’ll have to pay a thousand yen or so to get someone to use magic to sterilize it, most likely, but no big deal.

“A pleasure doing business with you…”

Maccal watched as Gears walked back to his D-Wheel.

“Ooh, you’re going to pay for this, Gears…” he said in a low whisper. “That ‘end of the party havarti’ remark crossed the line.

“No-one makes a fool out of me… I’ll get even…

“I not only know how to find material wealth that others can’t… I know how to find all sorts of wealth that others can’t…

“And if you look in the right places, you can find a wealth of information…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Ember sat in the lounge of the townhouse, slowly putting a deck of cards together. The television was on, and Sorsha was quietly watching her.

She had thirty-nine cards right now, and it was a choice between Nobleman of Crossout and Magical Mallet for the final card.

After five minutes of looking at the two Spell Cards, she decided on the latter, and gave the deck a thorough shuffle.

“Success…” she said, holding up the deck. “A deck that can hopefully win without having to attack once, even with none of the cards on the list.”

“So what are you going to do next?” asked Sorsha.

Before Ember could answer, the newscast on the TV was interrupted by the familiar music of a breaking story.

Ember turned, and saw as a reporter appeared in an outdoor location – a young, attractive woman with long, blonde hair and blue eyes.

“Good afternoon,” she said to the camera. “Angela here, on location at one of Sector Security’s high-tech facilities, where a daring technology heist has apparently been pulled off. According to witnesses, a single suspect armed with what appeared to be riot control gear broke into the facility and stole classified information.

“We’re here with Officer Ushio, who witnessed the felon’s escape.”

Angela turned to a Security officer who apparently had not only witnessed the escape, but had tried to stop it. He was nursing a black eye, and didn’t look very happy.

“Officer,” said Angela. “Can you describe what transpired here?”

“Well, yeah,” replied the officer. “Are you going to be able to edit this later in case I say something I might regret?”

“Uh, officer…” said Angela. “We’re live…”

Ushio looked at the camera.

“Oh…” he said. “Right. Well… Uh… The perpetrator was indeed armed with weaponry normally reserved for riot police. Non-lethal weaponry. Tear gas, rubber mercy bullets, that sort of thing… Frankly, he had enough riot gear to stop a small riot!”

“Can you describe what was stolen, if anything?” asked Angela.

“I was told just some papers from some confidential files,” replied Ushio. “And that’s the weird part. I mean, if I was packing the heat he had and I wanted to do something illegal, I would probably go rob a bank, not break into some technology lab. What are these fruitcakes thinking?”

“One can only assume,” replied Angela, with a chuckle, turning back to the camera. “Security cameras managed to take a short recording of the perpetrator’s entrance.”

A surveillance video started to show.

“If you recognize this individual, you can…”

Ember muted the TV.

“That guy is definitely a Shadow,” she said, watching.

“Yeah…” said Sorsha. “A mountain dwarf, I’d guess…”

Ember opened her laptop on the coffee table.

“Why would someone armed to the teeth with riot gear decide to rob a technology lab and not a place with more money?” she asked as she typed. “Let’s see if I can look into the Security band and find out exactly what was stolen…”

“You can hack into Security?” asked Sorsha.

“Mr. Draco taught me how to,” replied Ember. “But only the low-security files. He wanted to keep up to date on what they were doing around his properties.”

She looked at a recent file.

“Hmm…” she said. “Blueprints for an… immobilization beam? Hey, wait… I remember Mr. Draco talking about this… He was interested in several of the projects Godwin’s weapons division was working on, including this one, but Godwin had to downsize that department…”

She rubbed her chin.

“The thief is likely working for someone who’s interested in the weapon’s potential… Maybe a foreign army that Godwin wouldn’t sell to… Maybe even a terrorist group…”

“Lovely…” muttered Sorsha.

Ember thought for a minute. She started to type again.

“If the thief wanted to actually build this thing, he’d need both the blueprints and the prototype…

“And according to this, the prototype is stored at another lab…”

She quickly wrote down the address on a notepad.

Then she picked up the deck she had just made.

“What do you think, Sorsha?”

“Why not?” replied the cat. “You gotta start somewhere…

“Just one thing… If this guy happens to have any weapons of the lethal variety…”

“I know just how to handle that,” said Ember, taking the paper that had the address. “Run the other way, screaming like crazy.”

She walked to the door.


My confidence was growing with every minute, so much that I didn’t know how stupid I was being – going on a mission that had not been authorized, going to look for a criminal whom I had no idea the capabilities of, armed with a deck that had not been tested, and telling no-one except a familiar where I was going. In some classic stories, being this impulsive led to being a hero, but in reality, it often led to being killed.

Why did I do it? Well, I had led a sheltered life up to now, protected from the dangers of the world, and all it had gotten me was a life of boredom. Being careful hadn’t gotten me anywhere in the grand scheme of things. Now was my chance. I decided to take the riskier path, and see where it would lead.

I would soon find out if I had made the right choice…



FIVE STAR TWILIGHT (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: Five colored stars with the five Kuriboh Siblings hiding behind them.

Card Description: Tribute 1 Level 5 Monster that you control. Special Summon 1 “Kuriboh”, 1 “Kuriba”, 1 “Kuribe” 1 “Kuribi”, and 1 “Kuribu” from your hand or deck.



KURIBA (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fiend/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 1
ATK: 300
DEF: 200

Card Description: This card cannot be Tributed except to Special Summon “Kuribabylon”. By discarding 1 Trap Card from your hand to the Graveyard, you can decrease the ATK of an opposing Monster by 300.



KURIBE (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fiend/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 1
ATK: 300
DEF: 200

Card Description: This card cannot be Tributed except to Special Summon “Kuribabylon”. By discarding 1 Trap Card from your hand to the Graveyard, you can decrease the ATK of an opposing Monster by 300.



KURIBI (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fiend/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 1
ATK: 300
DEF: 200

Card Description: This card cannot be Tributed except to Special Summon “Kuribabylon”. Once per turn, while this card is face-up on the field, if a “Kuriboh”, “Kuriba”, “Kuribe”, “Kuribi”, or “Kuribu” is targeted by an attack, you can negate that attack.



KURIBU (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fiend/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 1
ATK: 300
DEF: 200

Card Description: This card cannot be Tributed except to Special Summon “Kuribabylon”. By discarding 1 Trap Card from your hand to the Graveyard, you can decrease the ATK of an opposing Monster by 1,500 until the End Phase of the turn.



KURIBABYLON (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fiend/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 5
ATK: ?
DEF: 1,000

Card Description: This card cannot be Normal Summoned or set. This card must first be Special Summoned by Tributing 1 “Kuriboh”, 1 “Kuriba”, 1 “Kuribe” 1 “Kuribi”, and 1 “Kuribu” you control. The base ATK of this card becomes equal to the combined ATKs of the Tributed Monsters. If there is 1 “Kuriboh”, 1 “Kuriba”, 1 “Kuribe” 1 “Kuribi”, and 1 “Kuribu” in your Graveyard, you may Tribute this card to Special Summon those Monsters from your Graveyard.



KURIBANDIT (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fiend/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 3
ATK: 1,000
DEF: 700

Card Description: This card cannot be Normal Summoned or set. This card must first be Special Summoned by removing from play from your side of the field 1 “Kuriboh”, 1 “Kuriba”, 1 “Kuribe” 1 “Kuribi”, and 1 “Kuribu”. You may Tribute this card to draw 5 cards from your deck. Any Monsters that are drawn using this effect are discarded to the Graveyard. This effect may be used during your opponent’s turn.

Note: The Kuriboh Siblings, “Five Star Twilight”, “Kuribabylon”, and “Kuribandit” were all used by the Pharaoh at various times during the original anime series Doma Arc. Creative credit goes to the writers.



RUKLAMBA THE SPIRIT KING (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fiend/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 8
ATK: 1,000
DEF: 2,000

Card Description: If you take 1,000 or more points of damage from one battle, you may Special Summon this card from your hand. Tribute this card to Special Summon from your hand any number of Monsters whose combined base ATKs do not exceed 2,000.

Note: “Ruklamba the Spirit King” was first used by Gansley in the original anime episode “Isolated in Cyber Space (Part 2)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



ASTRAL SHIFT (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: Maiden of the Aqua casting a spell, standing in front of an explosion.

Card Description: You may activate this card when your opponent targets one of your Monsters for an attack. The attack becomes a direct attack on your Life Points. After damage calculation, draw one card.

Note: “Astral Shift” was first used by Judai in a fourth season episode of “Yu-Gi-Oh GX”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



BERSERKER CRASH (Spell Card)

Quickplay Spell

Image: An angry Winged Kuriboh throwing its fist forward.

Card Description: Remove from play 1 Monster in your Graveyard and target 1 “Winged Kuriboh” that you control. Increase the ATK and DEF of the targeted “Winged Kuriboh” by the ATK and DEF, respectively, of the removed Monster until the End Phase of the turn.



DETONATING (Spell Card)

Quickplay Spell

Image: Several Kuribohs surrounded by glowing auras.

Card Description: Destroy all “Kuriboh” and “Kuriboh Tokens” on the field. Destroy one card your opponent controls for each “Kuriboh” and “Kuriboh Token” that was destroyed by this effect.

Note: “Berserker Crash” and “Detonating” were released in Japan for the original “Duel Terminal” system. It has not yet been released in the United States.



ALLY MIND (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine/Tuner
Attribute: Dark
Level: 5
ATK: 1,800
DEF: 1,400

Flavor Text: The Allies of Justice’s thinking circuits have been developed to enhance this high-performance unit. By taking meteorites from the Worm Nebula, and embedding it with compounds extracted from them, it has received high-level Tuning abilities. The unknown power it has received remains a mystery and is still unknown.



ALLY OF JUSTICE ENEMY CATCHER (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 6
ATK: 1,800
DEF: 1,800

Card Description: When this card is Normal Summoned successfully, you may take control of 1 opposing facedown Defense Position Monster until the End Phase of the turn.



ALLY OF JUSTICE BLIND SUCKER (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 4
ATK: 1,600
DEF: 1,200

Card Description: The effects of LIGHT Monsters that battle this card are negated.

Note: “Ally Mind”, “Ally of Justice Enemy Catcher”, and “Ally of Justice Blind Sucker” were released in Japan for the “Duel Terminal 3: Justice Strikes Back!!” system. They have not yet been released in the United States.



ALLY OF JUSTICE UNLIMITER (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Machine/Effect
Attribute: Dark
Level: 2
ATK: 600
DEF: 200

Card Description: Activate by Tributing this card. Double the base ATK of 1 face-up “Ally of Justice” Monster you control until the End Phase of the turn.

Note: “Ally of Justice Unlimiter” was released in Japan for the “Duel Terminal 4: Demon Roar God Revival!!” system. It has not yet been released in the United States.



Coming up next:

Ember talks the talk, but can she walk the walk? Next chapter, she goes on her own – more or less – to find the dwarven thief, and fulfill the test that has been assigned to her. And if Jinx doesn’t kill her first, her way into the Shadowchasers may come to an important crossroads. “Arsenal Summoner” is coming next.

Shuppet Master
27th February 2009, 09:10 AM
Yeah, I read stories where the impulsive kid gets killed. I'm sure Ember won't, but there will be a lot of tension. Oh, and she's totally going to win - I remember when Trisha from Dark Messiah used Valon's Armor deck for the first time in a life-or-death duel and won with it. Of course, this is speculation, so don't quote me on that. ;)

Great chapter, and I can't wait to see what the card was that Gears won. It looks like we have now have another "I'll get you, Gadget!" villian in the works. I don't mind you having these little Shadows swearing vengance, but don't over it, 'kay?

MeLoVeGhOsTs
3rd March 2009, 06:39 AM
Good chapter, the battle was intriguing, but like Shup said, don't overdo the vengeance thingy.

I also very interested in the card Gears won for Mistle. Let's hope Mistle makes a comeback, and a duel-comeback.

Ember is on a roll, I hope the dwarf's deck is special.

Mystic_clown
3rd March 2009, 06:54 AM
Yay! Kuribohs! I wish I could see these guys win for once, without the opponent virtually surrendering.

I'm going to say this now, This chapter made me hate Gears. It seemed like the sole reason that he gave his opponent so much crap was because of what he was a wererat. Ok, sure, wererats may be scavengers and such, but considering he's gving Gears the chance to win that card when he simply could have said no, he doesn't really deserve all the crap he got.

Dark Sage
3rd March 2009, 08:16 AM
You make a valid point, MC. But how do you know that this particular species of Shadowkind has not given Gears, and other Shadowchasers, trouble in the past? Perhaps they have, and Gears doesn’t have much patience with them. Wererats are not just scavengers, they are notorious thieves and general sneaks. Not exactly the most pleasant folks to deal with.

There’ll be more wererats in later chapters you might see what I mean then.




CHAPTER SEVENTEEN




http://www.ideal808.com/images/dcr_004.jpg



It seemed strange to me… The Shadowchasers were supposed to be a police force that handled Shadowkind… And yet, I was taking the subway to go to a stakeout. It was odd to say the least, but couldn’t find any other way.

I felt somewhat full of myself. For a little while, all of the heroic roles I had seen in movies were in my head. I envisioned Indiana Jones and James Bond, except that the only weapon I had to defend myself was a Duel Disk.

Of course, I was getting a swelled head. And I would quickly learn that I’d have to un-swell it fast to last long in this business. Being a Shadowchaser is much different than a search for the Holy Grail.



Gears walked into the townhouse, holding the case that contained the card. Having it sterilized had been rather easy – he simply had to tell the lizard man witch doctor that it had been handled by a wererat, and no further questions were asked.

As he walked into the lounge with the continually burning fireplace, he was wondering just how he was going to give it to Mistle.

“Mistle, I know it’s a little early for Christmas…” he muttered. “No, no, I can’t say that! She’ll think I’m trying to get out of giving her a present when it really is Christmas…

“Mistle, I know your birthday isn’t for five months… No, same problem there…

“Okay, we can forget about making references to events…”

Then he noticed that Shichiro and Jinx were watching him. Sorsha was perched atop the desk watching as well.

“Uh, hi…” he said. “What’s up?”

“Not much,” said Shichiro. “Got into a fight with a crazy, possessed car… Same old, same old. But Jalal should be here in…”

Then Jalal’s holographic form appeared in front of them.

“Check that,” said Shichiro. “He’s already here…”

“Good news, people,” said Jalal. “Hank and Sofia have secured the Swords, and I’ve arranged for them to be shipped here on the Retro.”

They all knew what the Retro was. It was likely the fastest international delivery service in the world. It had a fleet of planes that flew as fast as the Concorde, but the company had learned from the mistakes of those notoriously uncomfortable and unsafe aircrafts, and only used their planes to carry cargo, not passengers. And they were far more efficient with any cargo that they had been entrusted with than most delivery services. If you needed something delivered to the other side of the world overnight, and could pay an astronomical shipping fee (which to Jalal, was pocket change) they would get it done.

“Both of them should be here tomorrow morning,” said Jalal.

“Jalal, not to be disrespectful,” said Jinx, “but wouldn’t the Swords be safer at Shadowchaser’s headquarters in Britain than here? I mean, if DaPen wants them…”

“A valid concern,” replied Jalal. “However, I require the Swords to be here in case I need to use them for a project that may become important in the future.”

“And that is?” asked Gears.

Jalal sighed.

“I’d much rather keep it secret until I no longer can,” he said. “Suffice to say, your job is simply to watch over them, and aid Soelma in trying to decipher their full powers.

“Speaking of which…”

A clipboard appeared in his hand.

“I looked up that Silver Hemisphere you mentioned, Shichiro. It certainly exists…”

“So where is it?” asked Shichiro.

“Well, that, as we Brits like to say,” replied Jalal, “is a bit of a sticky wicket…

“You see, when the three Swords were sealed away, the Silver Hemisphere was entrusted to the Goldenhair clan of Italy. Then, fifty years later, Lady Flannara of the Goldenhairs became betrothed to Prince Elmen of the Crescent Moon clan of France. When they were married, the Silver Hemisphere was given to the clan leader Crescent Moons as part of her dowry…”

“So they have it?” asked Ember.

“No…” replied Jalal. “A century later, the next clan leader of the Crescent Moons gave it to the Silver Lake clan of Switzerland as part of a gratitude gift for their aid in the War of Three Threes. Then, fifty years later, the head of Silver Lake gave it to Queen Molarin of the Ivory Tower clan in the Netherlands to celebrate the birth of her first child. Then eighty years later…

“Uhm… Should I go on?”

“So, in other words,” sighed Gears, “no-one recognized the significance of this thing, and gave it as a gift over and over again for centuries, like some Chia Pet.”

“It does seem to be the cubic zirconium of legendary artifacts…” sighed Jalal. “More than likely, it was eventually stashed away in some basement and forgotten about. It’s doubtful even that elves own it any more. But we have to find out who has it, because its true value cannot be denied.

“Now, another thing before I leave… Where’s Michiko? I need her to hear this…”

Jinx looked up.

“You know, I haven’t seen her for a few hours…” she said.

Sorsha hopped down off the desk and tried to sneak away.

“Sorsha!” snapped Jinx.

The familiar froze.

“You wouldn’t happen to know where Ember is, would you?” asked Jinx.

Sorsha slowly started to whistle.

“I didn’t know you could whistle,” said Shichiro.

“I’d sing the score to Hair if you change the subject,” replied Sorsha.

“I think someone here needs a flea dip, don’t you think?” asked Gears, standing up.

“NO!” screamed Sorsha. “I’ll talk, I’ll talk!”

She took some deep breaths.

“She went to do her test…”

“What test?” asked Jinx.

“The Broken Bamboo Sword test…” squeaked Sorsha.

“She did what?” asked Jinx.

“See, she made a deck that she thought would work,” continued Sorsha. “Then she saw a story on the news of a robbery that was clearly committed by a mountain dwarf, then she figured she knew where he was going to hit next…”

“She did what??” said Jinx, raising her voice.

“So she went to stake out the place and catch the guy…” continued Sorsha.

“She did WHAT?!” shouted Jinx.

“Do you realize you’ve said the same thing three times?” asked Shichiro.

“And you didn’t stop her?” screamed Jinx. “I’m gonna sell you to the violin factory, you little…”

“Jinx, easy!” said Shichiro, holding her back.

“EASY?” shouted Jinx. “You convince me to start teaching this kid, and she goes on an unapproved mission without telling us… She…”

“Ahem…” said Jalal. “Kaede, I seem to recall another young Shadowchaser who did the exact same thing repeatedly during her apprenticeship.”

Jinx hung her head and turned beet red.

“Now,” said Jalal. “Instead of blaming Michiko, we should concentrate on trying to find her…”

Jinx sighed.

“Can’t you find out where she is?” she asked. “I thought you had the ability to see what any Shadowchaser is doing at any time.”

“Kaede,” said Jalal, “I may be powerful, but I’m not omnipotent.”

“Sorsha, do you know where she went?” asked Jinx.

“I dunno…” muttered Sorsha. “She wrote the address down on that notepad, but she took the sheet.”

She pointed to the desk.

“Not a problem,” said Gears, taking the notepad. “Let me show you a little private eye trick.”

He picked up a blue pencil and started to color the blank page.

“Ember took the sheet she wrote on,” he said, “but her pen left an indentation on the sheet below…”

He held up the notepad, and an address was now easily readable.

“A quick rub with a blue pencil, and voila!”

Jinx sighed, and took it.

“Thank you…” she muttered. “Now I’d better find her before she really gets in trouble…

“And by the way, Sorsha… For dinner tonight, you’re getting dry cat food.”

Sorsha moaned.



* * * * * * * * * *


It was quiet at the downtown lab owned by the R&D division of Sector Security. The layoffs had meant that the size of the staff had been cut, and most employees didn’t work past five o’clock anyway.

And that was just how Max Irons wanted it. There was much less chance that he’d be noticed by a former college who’d wonder why he had come back, much less armed to the teeth with riot gear.

Bypassing the security system in the building wasn’t hard – he had helped design it, after all. That Security who had gotten in his way at the other lab had simply been in the right place at the wrong time.

Getting into the lab vault was easy too, for a good reason. He knew that the ten-digit, digital combination was changed every four weeks. However, he had been laid off only two days after it had been last changed, and that was three weeks and one day ago. It would not be changed again for six days, and since he had a good memory, he was easily able to open it by simply using the combination.

Once in, he carefully turned his head so that the shadows concealed his face from the security camera, and went straight to what he wanted – the incomplete prototype for what his co-workers had called an “immobilization beam”, even though it didn’t have an official name. He quickly placed it into a holster on his hip that had been designed specifically for its shape and weight (it was best to keep his hands free), and left, locking the vault again on the way out. The theft had taken less than a minute.

One minute later, he was out the back door, in a parking lot where a car that he had rented was parked, thinking that he was in the home stretch.

“Well, that was incredibly easy…” he said.

He took a slip of paper out of his pocket.

“Now all I gotta do is…”

“FREEZE!” shouted a voice.

“Eh?” he said.

He turned his head, and saw Ember standing in his way, about fifteen feet in front of him, between him and the car.

“Eh?” he said again. “Who’re you?”

“Uh…” said Ember.

At the sight of him, Ember’s confidence started to fall quickly. She was a head taller than he was, but he was very muscular and tough-looking.

“You’re…” she stammered. “You’re under arrest!”

Max raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t see any Security uniform on you…” he said. “Are you some sort of Shadowchaser?”

“Uhm…” said Ember. “Kind of…”

Max smiled slightly.

“Afraid I can’t be held up by a ‘kind of’ Shadowchaser,” he said.

Ember drew back in fright as he drew a nasty-looking weapon from a holster on his back.

“This won’t kill ya,” he said. “But I warn ya, these rubber bullets hurt pretty bad…

“So why don’t you just move along…”

Ember was about to run, but then she noticed something… Something you would only notice if you looked at him closely. As nervous as she was, he was pretty nervous as well.

Why? What reason could he possibly have to be afraid of her?

Ember felt her guts strengthening a little. Maybe she wouldn’t run yet… Maybe she could bluff a little.

She stared him in the face. He pointed the weapon.

Ember thought of running again. But then she figured this was part of her test. The gun would hurt, but it wouldn’t kill her… And would a Shadowchaser run from this?

This is it, she thought. If I have to take a mercy bullet to the chest to prove I’m not a coward, I guess I’ll have to do it…

Max sighed, and lowered the gun.

“Can’t…” he muttered.

“Why not?” asked Ember.

“I’m an old-fashioned guy…” said Max. “A male dwarf is traditionally supposed to protect the females… Hurting one is something I just can’t do…”

“Chivalry?” asked Ember.

“Sort of,” relied Max.

“So what now?” asked Ember. “You aren’t gonna shoot me, and there’s no way I can fight you either…”

Max’s eyes fell on Ember’s Duel Disk.

He quickly put the gun away, and took one of his own from another holster on his back.

“True…” he said. “But Duel Monsters ain’t really fightin’, now is it? And ain’t that the way you guys handle this stuff anyway?”

“Thought you’d never ask,” said Ember with a grin.

Then they were both startled, as a D-Wheel roared into the driveway.

“EMBER!” shouted Jinx, taking off her helmet.

“Huh?” said Max.

“Uh oh…” said Ember. “Busted…”

Jinx hopped off her ride.

“What the Hell do you think you’re doing?” shouted Jinx.

“I’m… Taking initiative…” said Ember, meekly.

“Taking initiative?” shouted Jinx. “How did you know for certain that this guy was truly a mountain dwarf? He could have been a duergar! They’re known for running human slave rings!”

“Hey, watch it!” shouted Max.

Any true dwarf would be offended by being mistaken for a duergar. Those Shadowkind were related to dwarves in the same way dark elves were related to high elves, and regular dwarves hated them with a passion.

“I just wanted you to… be proud of me?” said Ember, meekly.

“Proud?” said Jinx. “Do you realize how many safety violations you’ve committed?”

“Uhm, excuse me…” said Max.

“I’m sorry?” said Ember, almost crying.

“Sorry??” said Jinx. “Well let me tell you…”

And then she was interrupted by loud laughter coming from Max.

“Oh, this is rich!” he laughed. “So these are the mighty Shadowchasers I’ve heard so much about? Do you always argue like this? If you do, it’s a wonder why the ophidia haven’t overrun the planet yet!”

Jinx looked at him. Her voice fell to a whisper.

“Ember…” she said. “He’s all yours…”

“Really?” asked Ember.

“Really,” said Jinx. “We have to save face, you know.

“Seems we lucked out… If I hadn’t supervised, the test would have been void. But I’m here now… So take him out.

“And remember the condition… Broken Bamboo Sword.”

Ember gave a thumb’s up.

“Okay, Mr…” she said.

“Call me Max,” he replied.

“Seems a pretty ordinary name,” replied Ember.

“Dwarves aren’t big on first names,” he said. “All that first names represent are labels that our parents identify us as. We have more respect for surnames. After all, they define your family, your history, and your reputation.”

The two Disks activated.

“Let’s do this,” said Ember.



(Ember: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Max: 8,000)


“Let’s go!” said Max, drawing a card. “Draw!”

He looked over his hand of six cards.

“I summon the D.D. Assailant in Attack Mode.”

As he played the card, a glowing rift in the spatial fabric opened, and a tall figure stepped out. It was a tall woman, with dark skin, wearing a white bodysuit covered with strange runes, and a white mask. She held a huge sword that looked like a cleaver. (1,700 ATK)

“That’s all for now.”

Interesting, thought Jinx. D.D. Assailant is a dangerous Monster under most conditions… But what Max doesn’t know is, Ember has no intention of ever attacking it, unless she wants to intentionally fail.

Ember drew a card.

Not the best opening hand, she thought. But it will have to do…

“I summon Volcanic Slicer!” she exclaimed.

In a burst of fire, an odd Monster appeared. It looked like a tall lizard walking upright, made of bronze, with tiny arms, a long tail, and no eyes. (1,800 ATK)

“Now I activate its effect,” she said. “If I don’t attack with it this turn, it can deal out 500 points of damage.”

Volcanic Slicer spit a ball of flame at Max, but he barely even moved.

“You think fire bothers me?” he laughed. “Dwarves are practically born learning to use a forge. In primitive times, we learned how to use it to shape metal before other races knew how to use it to cook food!”

“I suppose your people have a soul of fire,” replied Ember.

“That’s right,” replied Max.

Then a Spell Card appeared on her side of the field.

“Eh?” said Max. “What’s that?”

“Soul of Fire,” replied Ember. “First, you draw once…”

“As you wish…” chuckled Max, drawing a card.

“Then,” said Ember, looking at the cards in her deck, “I choose one Pyro-Type Monster and remove it from play…”

She chose one.

“…think I’ll go with my old pal Infernal Flame Emperor.”

She held up the card.

“He has 2,700 Attack Points, and now, you lose Life Points equal to half that much.”

Infernal Flame Emperor appeared in front of Max in a blast of flame, and socked him in the chest. Max gasped, and took a step backwards. The huge Pyro vanished.

“I end my turn…” said Ember.



(E: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 6,150)


Max quickly drew another card.

“I admit that you’re pretty good…” he muttered. “But while I only pack non-lethal weapons personally, my Monsters use pretty deadly ones.

“I discard one card from my hand…”

He discarded Armed Samurai – Ben Kei.

“…in order to Equip my Assailant with the infamous Wicked Breaking Flamberge – Baou!”

Assailant’s normal sword vanished, and a nasty sword made of dull steel that was just as big appeared in her hand. (2,300 ATK)

“Destroy Volcanic Slicer!” he ordered.

D.D. Assailant made a slash with her blade, and Volcanic Slicer burst into an explosion of smoke and soot.



(E: 7,500) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 6,150)


“Your move…”

Ember made a draw.

Yes! she thought, looking at the five cards.

“First, I toss two cards facedown,” she said, as two facedown cards appeared. “Then I set a Monster.”

A defensive Monster appeared.

“Next, the Continuous Spell Card, Volcanic Wall!”

The Spell Card appeared on her side of the field.

“I can use this Spell’s effect every round, so long as I don’t attack if I do,” she explained. “I send three cards from my deck to the Graveyard. Then, for each one that happens to be a Fire Monster, you lose 500 Life Points.

“So let’s see…”

She took three cards off the top of her deck and looked at them. They were Volcanic Rat, Molten Destruction, and Magical Mallet.

She smirked, and discarded them. Then, a blast of fire shot out of the Volcanic Wall card, striking Max.

“I end my turn,” she said.



(E: 7,500) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 5,650)


“Tricky,” said Max. “You seem to be putting all your faith in those two facedown cards. What if I were to get rid of them?”

You couldn’t, thought Ember. One of them is Firewall, my actual defense against direct attacks, which I’ll chain if you try to destroy my back row.

Then I’ll be able to activate my Fire Trap, which can negate any card that tries to destroy a Continuous Trap.

So to answer your question, I’m not all that concerned.

Meanwhile, Jinx was paying close attention.

Ember isn’t doing bad, she thought. Not only is she managing to follow the rules of Broken Bamboo Sword, but she’s still staying in her chosen field… Fire. Still, this is a chancy strategy… That Volcanic Wall is going to deplete her deck pretty fast…

“I draw one card…” said Max.

He made a draw.

He smirked a little.

“First, I play Emergency Provisions.”

The Spell Card appeared, and the Wicked Breaking Flamberge vanished. D.D. Assailant fell to her base ATK of 1,700.

“Now, I play Helm of the Sohei. This lets me Special Summon a Warrior-Type Monster from my Graveyard with up to 1,000 total points, so long as I Equip it with this card.”

Sohei? thought Ember. That means “warrior-monk”. It must have been designed especially for…

Armed Samurai – Ben Kei appeared, and thrust his naginata forward. The Spell Card glowed, and a helmet reminiscent of those worn by feudal Japanese soldiers appeared on his head. (500 ATK)

“Next,” said Max, “I give him two more Equip Spells… Lightning Blade…”

Ben Kei’s halberd vanished, and a sword crackling with electricity appeared in his right hand. (1,300 ATK)

“…and, Broken Bamboo Sword.”

What looked like nothing more than a bamboo stick appeared in Ben Kei’s left hand.

Oh no! thought Jinx. There’s only one reason anyone actually uses that Equip Spell.

“I don’t get it…” said Ember. “I thought Broken Bamboo Sword did nothing…”

“On its own, yes,” replied Max. “But it does do something, if I play the Continuous Spell Card, Soul Absorbing Bamboo Sword.”

He played the card, and a ghostly laugh echoed over the field. The bamboo stick in Ben Kei’s hand transformed into a sharp katana with a jet-black blade.

“This Spell stays on my side of the field for two of my turns,” continued Max. “During that time, if Ben Kei deals damage while using Broken Bamboo Sword, you skip your next Draw Phase.

“Now… D.D. Assailant… Attack her Monster with dimensional blade!”

Assailant leapt at the Monster, holding her cleaver in both hands. An odd looking mechanical device, resembling a dome on three legs with a fire inside, appeared before it was smashed to pieces.

“I use Volcanic Blaster’s effect,” said Ember. “I get to take any Monster in my deck with the word ‘Volcanic’ in its name, and put it on the top of my deck.”



Continued…

Dark Sage
3rd March 2009, 08:18 AM
Continued from last post:



She took a card from her deck, and placed it on top.

“Ben Kei, attack her directly!” ordered Max.

Ben Kei rushed at Ember…

“Activate Trap!” shouted Ember, as a facedown card shot up. “Firewall!

“I remove one Pyro in my Graveyard from play, and your attack is negated!”

Volcanic Slicer fell out of her discard slot. A wall of flames shot up in front of Ember, and Ben Kei was thrown backwards.

“Maybe so,” said Max, “but Ben Kei isn’t finished. He can attack an additional time for each Equip Spell he has. That means he gets three more attacks.”

He motioned to Ben Kei and pointed.

“Get her…”

Ben Kei rushed at Ember.

Ben Kei charged at Ember again. She quickly removed Volcanic Rat, and the fiery shield shot up again.

Ben Kei didn’t give up. He rushed at her a third time. Ember removed Volcanic Blaster, and the wall of flame shot up a third time.

Max chuckled.

“I do believe that your Graveyard is out of Monsters now,” he said. “But Ben Kei still has one more attack.”

Ember gulped as the monk warrior closed in on her.

She gasped as both swords slammed into her torso, knocking her over.



(E: 6,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 6,650)


Max played another card from his hand.

“Next, I play Golden Bamboo Sword,” he said. “This lets me draw twice, so long as I have a Monster Equipped with Broken Bamboo Sword.”

The sword in Ben Kei’s hand turned to solid gold, and Max drew twice.

“I end my turn. Don’t forget, you skip your Draw Phase.”

Terrific, thought Ember, looking at the one card in her hand. Even if I get three Fire Monsters with Volcanic Wall, it won’t be enough to stop five attacks. And he might even summon a third Monster.

No choice…

“I pay 500 Life Points to keep Firewall,” she said.

She quickly played the last card in her hand.

“Now, Blasting Vein. I’ll destroy my facedown Fire Trap in order to draw twice.”

Her facedown card lifted up, and burst into fiery cinders.

“And on top of that… When Fire Trap is destroyed, I get to draw an extra card. That means I get to draw three cards total.”

She made three draws. She gave the cards a look.

Seems my luck is changing… she thought. I got the final two pieces of my strategy.

“I play the Continuous Spell Card, Flame Wall,” she said, as a Spell Card appeared.

“Next, I activate the effect of Volcanic Wall…”

She took three cards off her deck, and looked at them. They were Volcanic Rat, Volcanic Blaster, and Volcanic Hammerer.

She quickly discarded them, and three blasts of flame shot out of the card. Max cringed a little this time.

“Now look at this,” said Ember, holding up another Monster Card. “It’s a lady called Volcanic Queen.”

“That Monster is Level 6,” growled Max. “You need a sacrifice to summon it.”

“I have every intention of sacrificing a Monster…” said Ember.

“…yours.”

Then Armed Samurai Ben Kei disappeared in a burst of fire, and a much larger Monster appeared where he had been. It looked like a giant, metal serpent, shrouded in flames. In the center of its forehead, inside its fiery mane, was what looked like a small fairy woman, sculpted out of the flames themselves. (2,500 ATK)

“Dirty trick…” said Max.

“Oh, come on!” laughed Ember. “Aren’t you glad I gave you a Monster with 2,500 Attack Points?”

“Don’t give me that!” replied Max. “I’ll bet this thing is the same deal as Lava Golem!”

“No, it’s similar,” said Ember, “but it has different rules. Listen closely.

“Like Lava Golem, you take 1,000 points of damage each round. However, you lose them during your End Phase, not your Standby Phase. And you can avoid losing them if you sacrifice a Monster, other than the Queen herself.

“Also, if you so desire, you can sacrifice a card once per turn, again, except the Queen, to deal 1,000 points of damage to me.

“Got it?”

“Got it,” replied Max.

“Then I end my turn,” said Ember.

Incredible, thought Jinx. Ember knew that Lava Golem was forbidden, so it looks like she packed the next best thing.

Still, if the way she described that thing’s effect is accurate, using it may be far more risky than using Lava Golem…



(E: 5,700) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 5,150)


Max drew a card.

“An old dwarven adage says…” he said. “You have to do the best with the materials you have…

“I send Soul Absorbing Bamboo Sword to the Graveyard to use Volcanic Queen’s effect.”

The Spell Card disappeared, and Volcanic Queen shot a blast of fire at Ember…

But then, a dome of pure force shot up, and blocked the blast.

“Eh?” said Max. “How…”

“My Flame Wall,” said Ember. “So long as I have at least one Pyro-Type Monster in my Graveyard, I can’t be hurt by effect damage.

“Take a look! It’s a strategy called Three Walls of Fire! Firewall, Volcanic Wall, and Flame Wall… Three cards that work together to both protect me and deal damage to my opponent at the same time!”

Good lord… thought Jinx.

“D.D. Assailant, attack her directly!” shouted Max.

D.D. Assailant leapt at Ember like Ben Kei had.

“Go, Firewall!” she shouted.

She removed Volcanic Rat, and the wall of flames blocked the Warrior’s path.

“Volcanic Queen, you attack!” he shouted.

The Pyro blasted a wave of fire at Ember. She removed Volcanic Blaster, and the barrier shot up to protect her again.

Max quickly set a card, and a facedown Monster appeared.

“I sacrifice D.D. Assailant to avoid the damage from Volcanic Queen,” he said, as D.D. Assailant vanished. “And I end my turn.”

Ember quickly made a draw.

“Once again, I pay 500 Life Points to keep Firewall.

“Then, Volcanic Wall!”

She took three cards from her deck again. They were Charcoal Inpachi, Volcanic Slicer, and a second Firewall. She discarded them, and two blasts of flame shot at Max.

“This is getting annoying…” he muttered.

“Now, I play Monster Reborn!” shouted Ember.

She played one of her two cards, and the glowing ankh appeared in the air in front of her.

“Meet Volcanic Hammerer,” she said.

The Monster that appeared looked like an evolved form of Volcanic Slicer. But this one was bigger, bulkier, and far more muscular. In other words, while Slicer resembled a fiery, humanoid, bronze lizard, Hammerer resembled a fiery, humanoid, bronze dinosaur. (2,400 ATK)

“Now, I activate its effect,” she said. “If I don’t attack with it this round, and I can’t anyway because of Volcanic Wall, I can inflict 200 points of damage for each Pyro in my Graveyard. And I have two.”

Hammerer spit a ball of flame at Max, and he shielded himself with his arm.

Ember set her last card in her Disk, and a facedown card appeared.

“I’ll set this, and end my turn.”



(E: 5,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 3,750)


“My move…” growled Max, drawing a card.

“I flip Morphing Jar into Attack Mode.”

His facedown Monster flipped up, and the laughing, one-eyed creature in its ceramic jar appeared.

He discarded the rest of his hand, and drew five new cards. Ember simply drew five times.

“Perfect!” laughed Max. “You want Fire? I’ll give you Fire… I sacrifice both my Monsters…”

Morphing Jar and Volcanic Queen burst into shimmering pixels.

“The Monster you’re about to see is incredibly rare. It was released as a promotional card, and Pegasus never realized that the employee who designed it was one of my kinsmen, who based the design on a legendary dwarven hero.

“I summon Clanggedin, Father of Battle!”

A bonfire erupted on Max’s side of the field, and a hulking Warrior appeared in the flames. It looked like a dwarf, for sure, with Adonis-like muscles, wearing only a ragged pair of trousers. What made him stand out was the fact that his very flesh seemed to be made of steel. He carried a huge hammer in both hands. (2,500 ATK)

“I suppose he’d be the dwarven version of John Henry,” said Ember.

“The legend of Clanggedin predates the stories of John Henry by thousands of years,” replied Max. “Smash her Hammerer!”

Clanggedin roared, and rushed at the large Pyro.

“I activate Shrink!” shouted Ember, as her facedown card shot up. “It cuts your Monster down to size!”

The huge dwarf was reduced to half his size, and fell to an Attack Score of 1,250. Volcanic Hammerer breathed a burst of fiery breath, and he was blown to shards.

Max frowned.

“I can’t do anything else…” he said.



(E: 5,200) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 2,600)


Ember drew a card.

“I pay 500 Life Points to keep Firewall,” she said. “Then I activate Volcanic Wall again!”

She took three cards off her deck.

Aw, crap! she thought, looking at them.

The three cards were Mystical Space Typhoon, Flame Wall, and Volcanic Wall. No Fire Monsters at all this time. She sighed as she discarded them.

“Now I use the effect of Hammerer again,” she said.

Hammerer spit a ball of flame at Max, but this time, he only looked at Ember suspiciously.



(E: 4,700) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 2,000)


“Not the wisest choice, eh?” he said. “You know, if you had gotten three Fire Monsters with Volcanic Wall, ya would’ve done me 2,100 points of damage that round…

“But… If ya had simply chosen not to use Volcanic Wall and had attacked me directly, ya would’ve done 2,400 points of damage, and I would’ve had only 200 left.

“Something’s not right here… I really don’t think that was a mistake…”

He’s onto me… thought Ember.

He went to draw a card. Then he paused.

“Tell ya what,” he said. “I’m not gonna draw this round. Ya see, since Clanggedin was destroyed in battle last turn, I can activate his effect if I skip my Draw Phase…”

There was another explosion of flame, and Clanggedin reappeared on Max’s side of the field. (3,000 ATK)

“He’s stronger than he was before!” gasped Ember.

“That’s right,” replied Max. “And since you have no facedown cards that would be a danger this time, I think I’ll make him even stronger.”

He played a card.

“I play Megamorph!” he exclaimed. “Now, my Warrior becomes twice as strong!”

Clanggedin grew to double his size, and flames surrounded his metal body. (6,000 ATK)

“Attack!” shouted Max.

Clanggedin’s giant hammer came crashing down, and squashed Volcanic Hammer flat, throwing Ember off her feet.

Clanggedin shrunk to his normal size, and then to half his size, his Attack Score falling to 1,500.

“Now,” said Max, playing another card, “I activate a second Emergency Provisions, to get rid of that Megamorph, and bring him back to where he was before.”

(3,000 ATK)

“And by the way, if he’s destroyed in battle again, and I activate his effect again, the 500 Attack Point gain stacks.

“It’s your move.”



(E: 1,100) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 3,000)


Ember slowly drew a card.

“I pay 500 Life Points to keep Firewall,” she said.

“Then I use Volcanic Wall…”

She picked up three cards again. They were Volcanic Rocket, Bonfire, and Pot of Avarice. She discarded them, and one blast of flame shot at Max.

“I set two cards facedown, and end my turn.”

She fit two cards into the last remaining spaces in her Spell Zone, and two facedown cards appeared.



(E: 600) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 1,500)


Max grinned.

“You think I’m gonna fall for that?” he said. “Well, I’m not gonna. I can wait you out now. You can only pay for that Firewall one more time.

“And if my count is right, there are only six more cards in your deck. That means, for the two turns you have until my attacks can get through, you can only use Volcanic Wall one more time!”

Ember glared at him.

“Just move,” she said.

He drew a card.

He looked at it.

“Trap Card, activate,” said Ember.

One of her facedown cards lifted up.

“Dimensional Regression,” she said. “Now, both players take every card that’s been removed from play, and return them all to their decks.”

“Sat WHAT?” shouted Max.

A handful of cards – six in all – appeared in Ember’s hand, and she combined them with the six remaining in her deck, and then reshuffled.

Incredible! thought Jinx. Ember just doubled the size of her deck, and even better, all six of those cards she just added are Pyro Monsters. She now has an excellent chance of getting three of them when she uses Volcanic Wall on her next two turns!

Max growled.

This is not gonna do… he thought. My only chance now is to tear down those three blasted walls…

He looked at his hand.

“I play Reload!” he shouted, playing a Spell Card. “So, I’ll put these two cards back in my deck, and reshuffle…”

He shuffled his deck.

“…and draw two new ones…”

He made two draws.

Then he laughed out loud.

“Game over!” he laughed, playing a new Spell Card. “I play Heavy Storm!”

A fierce wind started to blow over the field, and Ember grinned.

“The game is over all right,” she said, “but the outcome won’t be what you expect…”

Her other facedown card lifted up.

“I activate Judgment of Anubis! Now, not only is your Spell negated, but I get to destroy one of your Monsters, and deal damage equal to its Attack Score! That’s 3,000 Life Points, which, I’m afraid, is more than you have left!”

“Aw, crap…” muttered Max.

Ember quickly discarded a card in her hand, and a glowing, spectral jackal appeared over the field. It let out a fierce howl, and Max let out a scream as Clanggedin exploded.



(E: 600) - - - - - - - - - - (M: 0)


“Congratulations, Ember,” said Jinx, with a smile. “I’ll take it from here…”

She walked up to Max, and then grabbed him by the collar. She lifted the high-tech weapon out of the holster.

“Talk,” she said. “What the heck is this thing?”

“Don’t hurt me, please!” pleaded Max. “I’m not really a thug… I’m just some laid off worker who lost his job, and the offer that DaPen gave me was too tempting to…”

“You lost your job?” asked Jinx. “Buddy, didn’t you ever hear of an organization called Friends of the Displaced? You know, the global charity organization that has a chapter in every city that helps Shadowkind who are down on their luck? That would have been a far more legit way for you to find work. We could have easily given you their address…”

Max hung his head in a sulk.

“Don’t look at me like that,” said Jinx. “I’m well aware of how stubborn dwarves can be sometimes. But DaPen is a cold-blooded killer. He would clearly have used this thing to hurt people.”

“All right, all right!” muttered Max. “All I know is, I’m supposed to meet up with him in the Shizura Memorial Cemetery in one hour to report my success. I give up, okay?”

As Jinx took the gemstone out of her pouch, Ember walked up to her.

“This is great, Jinx!” she exclaimed. “We can go to that cemetery, and catch DaPen by surprise! We can…”

“We?” said Jinx, looking at her.

“Ember, look… You passed the test with flying colors, and I’m proud of you. But there is no way on God’s green Earth that I am letting my apprentice go on a mission where a Shadowkind as dangerous as DaPen may show up.

“You take the train back to the Tops. I’m going alone as soon as I call Shichiro and Gears for backup.”

“But…” said Ember.

“Ember…” said Jinx. “That is an order.”

Ember hung her head. She did as she was told.

Once Max was taken care of and the immobilization beam was put where Security would find it, Jinx jumped on her D-Wheel, and started it up.

“Jinx to base,” she said, turning on the radio. “I’m heading to Shizura Memorial Cemetery. DaPen or one of his top lieutenants may be there. I’m gonna need backup on this. Get there as soon as possible…”


And so I had passed the test. And now it was my mentor’s turn to take initiative, as she unknowingly raced headlong into…

…a trap. You see, Max didn’t know it, but DaPen had been watching the whole time. His powers of clairvoyance concerning anyone who worked for him were incredible. And as soon as there was even a possibility that Max wouldn’t be the one coming to the cemetery, he started to change his plans. This was how he had foiled so many attempts on his life by rival mob bosses over the years, after all.

Jinx was about to get more than she bargained for…



FIRE TRAP (Trap Card)

Counter Trap

Image: Marauding Captain standing in an inferno of flames.

Card Description: Activate when your opponent activates the effect of a card that would destroy a Continuous Trap Card you control. Negate the activation of that card and destroy it. When this card is destroyed by a card effect and sent to the Graveyard, draw one card.



BLASTING VEIN (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: A Duel Monsters card in a fire.

Card Description: Destroy one facedown Trap Card that you control. Draw two cards.

Note: “Fire Trap” and “Blasting Vein” were first used by O’Brien in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” episode “Hanging With Axel”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



VOLCANIC WALL (Spell Card)

Continuous Spell

Image: Volcanic Doomfire in an inferno of flame.

Card Description: Once per turn, during your Main Phase, you may activate the effect of this card. You may not declare an attack during the turn you use this effect. Send the top 3 cards from your deck to the Graveyard. For each FIRE Monster that is sent to the Graveyard in this manner, inflict 500 points of direct damage to your opponent.



FLAME WALL (Spell Card)

Continuous Spell

Image: Flame Swordsman standing in a storm of fire.

Card Description: If there is at least one Pyro-Type Monster in your Graveyard, damage you take from card effects controlled by your opponent is reduced to zero.

Note: “Volcanic Wall” and “Flame Wall” were all used by Mr. T (in the form of O’Brien’s father, using a deck similar to his) in a 4th season episode of “Yu-Gi-Oh GX”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



DIMENSIONAL REGRESSION (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: D.D. Warrior Lady, D.D. Assailant, D.D. Survivor, D.D. Scout Plane, D.D. Warrior, and Different Dimension Dragon, all in a parallel dimension, flying towards a central point, where a giant deck of cards is resting.

Card Description: Return all of your cards that have been removed from play to your deck. Then, reshuffle your deck.

Note: “Dimensional Regression” was first used by Aki in an episode of “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



CLANGGEDIN, FATHER OF BATTLE (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Warrior/Effect
Attribute: Fire
Level: 8
ATK: 2,500
DEF: 1,200

Card Description: If this card is destroyed as a result of battle and sent to the Graveyard, you may skip your next Draw Phase to Special Summon it during your next Standby Phase. If you choose to use this effect, you cannot Normal Summon, set, or Special Summon any other Monsters during the same turn. When Special Summoned in this manner, increase the base ATK of this card by 500, plus by any amount gained by previous uses of this effect.



HELM OF THE SOHEI (Spell Card)

Equip Spell

Image: Armed Samurai Ben Kei holding a halberd and wearing a steel helmet of the style of feudal Japanese soldiers.

Card Description: Select a Warrior-Type Monster from your Graveyard that has a base ATK of 1,000 or less. Special Summon that Monster in Attack Position and Equip it with this card. If the Equipped Monster is moved to Defense Position, it is destroyed. If this card leaves the field, the Equipped Monster is destroyed.



Coming up next:

Despite what the show might suggest, Godwin tries very hard to keep Neo Domino clean and safe. A well-manicured resting place of the deceased like the Shizura Memorial Cemetery would thus never be a place to host the restless spirits of the undead, right?

Well, maybe not real ones, but Duel Monsters are a different story. Next chapter, Jinx investigates, only to be ambushed by a Shadowkind with a morbid fascination for death and decay, who takes her to a place where the rules change dramatically. “Call of the Grave” is coming soon.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
3rd March 2009, 09:13 AM
New chapter so soon, great. I liked the deck, and especially the fact that she held on to her Fire-type specialty. Good show.

Nothing new, but interested to read the new battle.

Shuppet Master
3rd March 2009, 10:32 AM
Sorry, Ember, but you're not a Shadowchaser yet, and you are already in trouble with your mentor for disobeying orders and trying to do a mission undersupervised. I bet she was horrified to learn that she HAD to wait for Jinx to take her to her test instead of going out of her own.

But as Jalal said, Jinx wasn't quite innocent herself in her own apprenticeship. I guess that when you enter a big exciting organization like this, you get a big big-headed.

Still, she did pass the test. I wonder if there are more tests for her.

Too bad, we're going to have to wait as Jinx gets caught in a trap. Great chapter. Is Volcanic Queen a real monster card?

Dark Sage
3rd March 2009, 12:15 PM
http://www.ideal808.com/images/lodt_en0051.jpg


As you can see, it certainly is. Most people don't use it, though, considering it to be "Lava Golem Lite". It has some uses, here and there, however (like in a deck that focuses on Water Dragon).

Shuppet Master
4th March 2009, 10:59 AM
I can't see the woman on that card! :(

mario72486
4th March 2009, 06:19 PM
Of all the strategies that don't involve attacking, I completely forgot about the Volcanics. Nice use of those cards, not to mention the other support. I'm surprised (Tri) Blaze Accelerator wasn't used, but I guess that was a good thing - it'd make this duel feel like a rehash of Season 3 of GX.

And the plot thickens yet again. For all we know, Max was going to be double-crossed if he ever made it to his rendezvous, and it looks like Jinx is going to fall into the trap instead. Hopefully she'll be able to make it out of there in one piece.

Keep it up, DS.


I can't see the woman on that card! :(

Perhaps the attachment will help. I have the 'woman' circled in black.

Dark Sage
5th March 2009, 10:27 AM
I didn't want to copy O'Brien's deck, so I purposely didn't use the Blaze Accelerator cards. I was more going for the Three-Wall strategy that his dad used (which Mr. T copied in order to psyche him out) which is focused even more on burn than O'Brien's deck, not even using Doomfire.

I'll leave it to the readers to decide whether or not DaPen was planning to double-cross Max or not. However, DaPen was quite aware that Ember had confronted him, and quickly realized that Max wouldn't be coming. So the point is now moot. DaPen is well-informed of any matters concerning anyone who works for him, due to his powers, and it is very hard to catch him by surprise.

Keep reading.

Dark Sage
7th March 2009, 12:07 AM
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN




http://www.ideal808.com/images/tp4_009.jpg



As I rode the subway back to the Tops, I thought hard about what I had learned about my impulsive and downright reckless endeavor.

I had learned that no matter how clever an idea may seem, you shouldn’t get so full of yourself that you take foolish risks. If I had gone up against someone who hadn’t been bound by the rules of chivalry, that encounter may well have ended with me recovering from cracked ribs.

I also learned that in the situation I was in now, I was part of a team, and as the old saying goes, there is no “I” in “team”. I had to put more trust in the people I worked with now if this was ever going to work.

I didn’t know at the time, that my mentor, while not truly making the same mistake I had made on purpose, was about to get into a similar situation by accident. She was rushing into a trap set by DaPen, and whether the backup she had called for would get there on time was questionable…



Cemeteries tend to be very old structures. In big cities, they can date back hundreds of years. Walking through some big cemeteries in some of the world’s biggest cities, it isn’t uncommon to see old headstones with dates on them from centuries ago.

This was not the case for the Shizura Memorial Cemetery, the largest resting place for the deceased in Neo Domino. Because Neo Domino was incredibly young when compared to most cities of comparable size, its cemetery wasn’t very big either. The oldest headstones were only about twenty years old, dating back to when Neo Domino was first built, sometime before the infamous Zero Reverse Incident that separated it from the original Domino, turning the latter into the urban wasteland of Satellite.

The place was well-maintained and cultivated, with carefully manicured lawns, paved pathways, and headstones that were kept clean by a caretaker who came in every other day. It was a peaceful cemetery that rarely suggested the macabre tales that others did.

Still, the sun had now gone down, and at night, it was hard not to be nervous in any resting place of the dead.

Jinx slowly walked down the main pathway through the center of the place, clutching her Duel Disk to her chest, looking to both sides frequently. She was beginning to have a feeling that she had not taken DaPen by surprise, if he was even here at all.

Then she was startled by a laugh. A high-pitched laugh that was almost like a cackle.

She spun around, and saw a dark shape dart in front of her. Her eyes narrowed.

She tensed…

An inner voice told her that he was coming from behind…

Quickly, she spun around, and kicked him in the chest, just as he leapt at her. The creature fell on his back, but quickly sprang up.

Jinx got a good look at the Shadow, who stood six-foot-six, but was so thin he could be considered gaunt. He was dressed in a leather jacket and a pair of jeans, both of which seemed to fit him very badly. His skin was grey and hairless, and his bestial face resembled, if anything, that of a monstrous hyena.

Clearly, he was a gnoll.

Gnolls were Shadowkind known for being aggressive, predatory, and cunning. They tended to follow only the law of the jungle, and whether the jungle in question was forested or made of concrete made little difference to them. In their society, the strong survived, and the weak existed to support the strong. Like the hyenas they resembled, they were scavengers, able to survive off dumpsters or landfills indefinitely.

But there was a darker side to gnolls. They were one of the few living species who could safely associate with ghouls, disgusting undead monsters that fed on corpses. Gnolls were one of the few living creatures whom ghouls would not attack, leading some sages to believe that some bargain had been struck between some deity of undeath and an entity that the gnolls worshipped. Indeed, gnoll divine spellcasters (of which there weren’t many) tended to practice necromancy, the magic of death.

However, as for this particular gnoll, Jinx recognized him, and she was surprised. He had up to now been strictly penny-ante.

“So, ‘Fang’ Malloy,” she said. “Working for DaPen now, are we?”

“That’s right!” laughed Fang. (Gnolls always seemed to be laughing, just like hyenas, and did so at the most inappropriate times.) “And I’m sorry to say that Mr. DaPen couldn’t come tonight… He’ll always be one step ahead of any plots hatched by any Shadowchasers. But if you want to meet him tonight, he’ll be glad to make your acquaintance.”

“So this was a setup?” asked Jinx. “One to lead me here and take me hostage?”

Fang nodded, and lifted a Duel Disk.

“I warn you,” said Jinx. “I have two allies on the way…”

But how fast can they make it through the traffic jam that currently has cars backed up for miles, due to the boss killing the power to all the traffic lights from here to the Tops? thought Fang. You may have gotten here, but as of ten minutes ago, it’s going to be a traffic nightmare for anyone trying to get here driving a D-Wheel.

Jinx activated her Duel Disk.

“Let’s go,” she said. “I can beat a bottom feeder like you any day of the week.”



(Jinx: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Fang: 8,000)


“I insist,” chuckled Fang. “Ladies first…”

Jinx drew a card, and looked at her hand.

“I throw two cards facedown,” she said, as two reversed cards appeared, “and then summon Alligator’s Sword.”

In a flash of light, the reptilian Beast leapt onto the field. (1,500 ATK)

“That’s all for me.”

“My move…” laughed Fang, drawing the top card off his deck.

“I play the Spell Card, Hand Destruction! Now, both players must toss two cards in their hands, and draw two new ones.”

Jinx looked at the three cards in her hand.

“Very well,” she said, discarding two of them.

Fang made two discards, and then they both drew twice.

“I’ll set a Monster,” said Fang, as a reversed Monster appeared, “and that will be all…”

Jinx drew a card.

“I’ll also set a Monster,” she said, as a defensive Monster appeared on her side of the field.

“Then I’ll attack with Alligator’s Sword!”

Alligator’s Sword made a rush at the hidden Monster holding his scimitar high. A sandy-brown turtle with a pyramid on its back appeared on the card. The Beast made a slash with its weapon, and the turtle was blown into sand.

“You just killed my Pyramid Turtle!” laughed Fang.

He took his deck out of the holder and looked at the cards.

“That means I get to bring out any Zombie I want, so long as its Defense Score isn’t higher than 2,000.”

Zombies? thought Jinx. Figures… But it’s nothing I haven’t seen before…

“I summon the Gatekeeper of Hell…” chuckled Fang. “The dreaded… Il Blud!”

With a low moan, a hulking shape appeared on Fang’s side of the field. It was a creature that looked like it was almost all torso, with four tiny limbs, dressed in a striped prison uniform. It had a huge face right on its torso, underneath the uniform, which was opened by a zipper, which consisted of two evil-looking eyes and a toothy mouth. (2,100 ATK)

“Ugh,” said Jinx. “Let me guess… A fringe benefit of working for DaPen?”

“And Il Blud isn’t the only rare card he gave me,” chuckled Fang. “Mr. DaPen is incredibly generous.”

“Yeah, right,” said Jinx. “I end my turn.”

“First, I draw,” said Fang, drawing a card. “Then, since Il Blud is a Gemini Monster, I have to use my Normal Summon this turn to awaken its effect…”

Il Blud glowed with a dark, eerie energy.

“Then, I play this… The powerful Card of Safe Return!”

A Continuous Spell Card appeared on his side of the field.

“Now, whenever a Monster is Special Summoned from my Graveyard, I get to draw one card.”

And with Zombies, that tends to happen a LOT, thought Jinx.

“I think I’ll do it right now,” chuckled Fang. “By using Il Blud’s effect, once per turn, I can Special Summon a Zombie from my hand or from either Graveyard. So I’ll bring back someone I tossed when I used Hand Destruction…

“The dreaded… Despair From the Dark!”

A haunting, ghostly laugh echoed over the field, and a huge, evil-looking shadow with glowing red eyes and claws rose behind Fang. (2,800 ATK)

Card of Safe Return glowed, and Fang drew once.

“Not bad…” said Jinx, nervously.

“If you think it’s impressive now,” laughed Fang, “wait until you see its attack! Destroy Alligator’s Sword! Dark grasp of terror!”

Despair From the Dark laughed again, and lunged at Alligator’s Sword.

“I activate Fairy Box!” shouted Jinx, as one of her facedown cards shot up.

A coin appeared in her hand, and she quickly tossed it.

“Heads!”

The coin fell to the ground. Unfortunately, it was tails.

Alligator’s Sword screamed, and then shattered into shards.

“Not so lucky, are you?” laughed Fang. “Il Blud, attack her other Monster with death breath!”

Il Blud opened its terrible maw, and vomited a cloud of toxic smoke at the facedown Monster. Roulette Barrel appeared on the card. (2,000 DEF)

“I use the effect of Fairy Box again!” shouted Jinx.

She tossed the coin again.

“Heads again!”

The coin fell to the ground. This time, it was heads.

Il Blud’s Attack Score fell to zero, and the backlash knocked it over. Fang stopped laughing for a moment.

“Ergh…” he muttered.



(J: 6,700) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 6,000)


“All right…” he said. “So you’re safe for now… I’m ending my turn…”

Jinx quickly drew a card.

“I pay 500 Life Points to keep Fairy Box,” she said.

She looked at her cards. Then she played one.

“I activate Silent Doom!” she shouted, as a Spell Card appeared in front of her. “Now, I can bring Alligator’s Sword back from my Graveyard in Defense Mode.”

In a burst of energy, Alligator’s Sword appeared, kneeling and holding his scimitar in his lap. (1,200 DEF)

“Now, I can sacrifice him…”

Alligator’s Sword vanished in a shimmer of light.

“…to summon Allsword Commander Gatmuz!”

With a roar, Gatmuz leapt onto the field, holding his huge two-handed sword high. (2,100 ATK)

Oh NO! thought Fang, his eyes opening wide. If she kamikazes that guy against Il Blud, I’ll lose Despair From the Dark too!

Jinx’s facedown card lifted up.

“Now, I activate Skull Dice!” she shouted. “Since my Monster’s Attack Score is equal to Il Blud’s, I guess it really doesn’t matter what roll I get…”

The nasty little imp appeared, and tossed its die. The die skipped and bounced, and landed on the three.

Both Il Blud and Despair From the Dark glowed with an aura of green energy. Il Blud fell to an Attack Score of 1,800, while Despair From the Dark fell to 2,500.

“Attack Il Blud!” shouted Jinx. “Severing strike!”

Gatmuz made a deep cut with his blade across Il Blud’s huge torso. The Zombie’s eyes bugged out, and then it exploded.

“You destroyed it!” gasped Fang.

“And that’s not the only one!” replied Jinx.

Despair From the Dark exploded into pixels.

“So much for them,” said Jinx. “I end my turn…”



(J: 6,200) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 5,700)


Fang grumbled as he drew a card. He looked at it.

He threw back his head, and let out a loud, annoying cackle.

I think he got a good draw… thought Jinx.

“Time to change the rules of this duel dramatically!” laughed Fang.

The Field Slot on his Disk flicked open, and he placed a card in it.

“I play Zombie World!”

Lightning flashed, and darkness covered the whole cemetery. The well-manicured headstones changed, turning into evil, decrepit ones, shaped like demonic gargoyles covered with mold and moss. Dead trees sprang up around them, and a full moon the color of blood rose behind Fang.

“What’s going on?” gasped Jinx. “A Field Spell?”

“A very powerful one,” replied Fang. “Let me explain…

“Zombie World affects all Monsters on the field and in both Graveyards, turning their Type to Zombie.

“In addition, neither player can Tribute Summon a Monster unless it was a Zombie to begin with.”

“Yeah?” snarled Jinx. “Big deal! I don’t have any Monsters that gain special effects because of their Type! My Monsters can still beat yours, even if they have to do so as Zombies!”

“Maybe so…” replied Fang. “But my Monsters, on the other hand, gain plenty of benefits if your Monsters are Zombies.

“And you know, Jinx, it’s funny that you use so many of Jonouchi’s cards…”

“Why?” asked Jinx. “Do you have one?”

“No…” chuckled Fang. “But I have one that he would use if he had been a Zombie duelist like me…

“I play Call of the Mummy.”

A Continuous Spell Card appeared in front of him.

“Now I can Special Summon a Zombie from my hand once per turn, so long as I have no Monsters on the field.

“So I’ll Special Summon… Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon!”

The ground in front of him erupted in an explosion of dirt and other nasty residue, and a huge, Zombie dragon flew out of the ground. As its name suggested, it looked like a rotting, undead version of Katsuya Jonouchi’s famous Dragon, but far more evil and hideous. (2,400 ATK)

“Attack her Commander!” shouted Fang. “Infernal rotting blast!”

Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon roared, and blasted a cloud of filth and offal from its jaws.

“I activate Fairy Box!” shouted Jinx.

She tossed the coin.

“Heads again!”

The coin fell. She gasped as it came up tails.

Gatmuz groaned as the attack hit him, and then quickly rotted into a pile of dust.

“Gatmuz…” said Jinx, sadly.

“Why the long face?” chuckled Fang. “He isn’t gone…”

Then an arm burst out of the ground on Fang’s side of the field. The rest of the creature quickly pulled itself out of the ground…

It was Gatmuz. (2,100 ATK)

“You see,” said Fang, “whenever my Dragon destroys a Zombie, that Zombie is reborn on my side of the field.

“And my Battle Phase isn’t over… Gatmuz… Attack her…”

Then he paused.

“Hmm… Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t attack… If you get the toss on that Fairy Box, I’ll lose another 2,000 Life Points, and that would be bad.

“After all, I can wait… Roulette Barrel is no threat to my Dragon… It can’t destroy a Level 7 Monster. I’ll just end my turn.”



(J: 5,900) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 5,700)


“I draw one card…” muttered Jinx, as she drew. “And then I pay 500 Life Points to keep Fairy Box…”

She played the card she had just drawn.

“I play Roll of Fate!” she shouted.

A die materialized in the air, and it bounced on the floor. It eventually came up a five.

She made five draws. Then she took the next five cards off her deck and pocketed them.

There’s gotta be some way to beat this thing, she thought, looking at the six cards she had.

Let’s see… I have Time Wizard, but using its effect would be pretty chancy… I have Polymerization and Baby Dragon, but Thousand Dragon would only manage a draw with that thing…

Then I have…

She looked at the Spell Card she had drawn.

Hey… Maybe my Roulette Barrel can take that thing out after all…

She quickly played it.

“I play the Equip Spell, Demotion!” she shouted. “Usually, I use this to make Synchro Summoning easier. But by Equipping it to your Dragon, its Level is reduced from 7 to 5.

“That means Roulette Barrel can effect it, and I’m gonna try just that!”

Two dice shot out, and both skipped and bounced. One landed on the two…

…then the other landed on the five.

“Bingo!” shouted Jinx. “I choose the five!”

Roulette Barrel aimed its weapon, and fired a blast of energy at Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon. Fang shielded himself as his Monster exploded.

“I’m not done with you!” shouted Jinx, playing another card. “I play Polymerization!”

Time Wizard and Baby Dragon appeared on the field.

“I fuse my two Monsters together…”

The two Monsters swirled into a blur…

“…to Fusion Summon Thousand Dragon!”

In an aura of energy, the large, elderly Dragon appeared, with smoke pouring from its nostrils. (2,400 ATK)

“Attack Gatmuz!” she shouted. “Noxious nostrils gust!”

Thousand Dragon shot a blast of toxic gas from its nostrils, and Gatmuz groaned before shattering into shards.

“You’ll pay for that…” growled Fang.

“I’ll set a Monster,” said Jinx, as a facedown Monster appeared, “and I end my turn…”



(J: 5,400) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 5,400)


Fang snapped the top card off his deck.

“Not bad…” he said. “I play Foolish Burial.”

The Spell Card appeared, and he quickly took a Monster from his deck, and discarded it.

“Now, the Monster I discarded was a guy called Mezuki. And I can activate his effect by removing him from play.”

The card slipped out of his discard slot, and he pocketed it.

“It lets me Special Summon one Zombie from my Graveyard. And I choose to summon Bone Crusher!”

Another Zombie burst out of the ground. This one looked like a bare skeleton, dressed in a fur cape and a horned helmet, holding a stone hammer. (1,600 ATK)

“I get to draw one card due to Card of Safe Return,” he chuckled, as he drew a card. “And, when Bone Crusher is Special Summoned by another Zombie’s effect, it destroys one Spell or Trap Card.”

Bone Crusher’s eye socket’s glowed, and Jinx’s Fairy Box shattered into pieces.

“Now,” he said, taking another card from his hand, “I was saving this, but now’s as good a time as any… I play Book of Life… The Book of Forbidden Magic!”

The Spell Card appeared, and in a dark shadow, Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon appeared again. (2,400 ATK)

“I get to draw again, due to Card of Safe Return,” he said, drawing, “and I also get to remove one of your Monsters in your Graveyard from play. So I’m getting rid of that dweeby Time Wizard so I don’t have to worry about it again.”

Jinx frowned as Time Wizard fell out of her discard slot.

Fang looked at the card he had just drawn.

“And I got just what I needed,” he chuckled. “I play Enemy Controller!”

The oversized video game controller appeared above the field, and Thousand Dragon shielded itself in Defense Mode. (2,000 DEF)

“Red-Eyes,” ordered Fang, “destroy that sorry excuse for a Dragon!”

The Zombie Dragon exhaled its cloud of rot and filth, and Thousand Dragon was eroded into dust.

Then Thousand Dragon burst out of the ground on Fang’s side of the field. (2,400 ATK)

“Now, Thousand Dragon, attack that annoying Roulette Barrel!”

Thousand Dragon blasted its noxious fumes from its nose, and Roulette Barrel exploded.

“Bone Crusher, crush her last Monster!”

Moving very fast for someone who was all bones, Bone Crusher leapt at the facedown Monster. Abare Ushioni appeared on the card, right before the Zombie’s hammer came down and smashed it.

“Heh, heh…” chuckled Fang. “I end my turn… And unfortunately, that means Bone Crusher has to leave…”

The skeletal warrior burst into pixels.

Oh… thought Jinx, as she drew a card. Shichiro… Gears… Where are you?

She quickly set the card on her Disk, and a defensive Monster appeared. She glared at Fang.

“That all?” he cackled, drawing a card.

“I summon Paladin of the Cursed Dragon!”

A new Monster materialized, hovering over the field. It resembled the famous Paladin of White Dragon, but the rider was mounted on a decayed, rotting, Zombie dragon. (1,900 ATK)

“Now I use his effect,” he chuckled. “I get to Special Summon a Zombie from your Graveyard every round. Which, due to my Field Spell, means I can summon anything from it.”

The ground burst open, and Allsword Commander Gatmuz rose out of the ground on Fang’s side of the field. (2,100 ATK)

“In case you don’t know what this means, Shadowchaser,” he laughed, “it means I win!

“Red-Eyes, destroy her last Monster!”

Red-Eyes blasted its breath of decay at the facedown Monster…

But when the smoke cleared, X-Saber Passiul was crouching in defense, and unharmed. (0 DEF)

“Seems your plans just hit a snag,” said Jinx. “Passiul can’t be destroyed by battle. In exchange for that, I lose 1,000 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases.”

“Fine!” cursed Fang. “I have nowhere to go…”

Nowhere to go? thought Jinx. Did something happen to Shichiro and Gears that he’s not telling me about?

I’d best assume the worst… I’d best assume that for whatever reason, they aren’t gonna get here. I’m on my own.

He’s getting sloppy, though… When he used Mezuki’s effect to summon Bone Crusher, he didn’t realize that he could have done more. He could have used Mezuki’s effect to summon Il Blud, then Gemini Summoned it, and then used that Monster’s effect to summon Bone Crusher.

I could tell him that, but with only Passiul as a defense, now might not be a good time to gloat.

DaPen may have given him a deck full of powerful cards, but clearly, he doesn’t know how to use them all to their full potential yet… And that just may save me…

She drew a card.

Double Spell… she thought. Hmmm….

Wait… Maybe, just maybe… I can use this Field Spell against him!

“I play Double Spell!” she exclaimed, playing it. “Now, by tossing one other Spell Card…”

She discarded Graceful Dice.

“…I can use one Spell Card in your Graveyard. And I choose… Book of Life!”

“Say what?” gasped Fang.

The Book of Life card appeared in Jinx’s hand.

“The way I see it,” continued Jinx, “if this Field Spell has turned all the Monsters in my Graveyard into Zombies, I can use Book of Life to bring one of them to the field.

“So I’m gonna do just that to bring back Alligator’s Sword.”

Alligator’s Sword burst out of the ground, brandishing his weapon. (1,500 ATK)

“And then I’m removing Il Blud from play, so I don’t have to look at its ugly face again.”

Fang snarled as Il Blud fell out of his discard slot.



Continued…

Dark Sage
7th March 2009, 12:11 AM
Continued from last post:



“Now, I Tune my two Monsters together!” shouted Jinx.

X-Saber Passiul’s sword shimmered with a glowing light. He and Alligator’s Sword flew into the sky, and dissolved into six shimmering stars.

“Synchro Summon… Gaia Knight, the Force of the Earth!”

With a loud whinny, Gaia rode down out of the sky on his charging steed. (2,600 ATK)

Fang gulped.

“Gaia,” shouted Jinx, “attack his Paladin of Cursed Dragon! Spiral Spear Strike!”

Gaia galloped across the field, and stabbed his two lances into the Zombie rider. It groaned, and then shattered into shards.



(J: 5,400) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 4,700)


She glared at him.

“Your move…” she growled.

Fang drew a card.

“Heh, heh, heh…” he chuckled, as he looked at it. “HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!

“I just drew another of my fringe benefits! And it’s a beast that will win this duel for me!”

A raging bonfire erupted on his side of the field.

“But don’t take my word for it… Meet Kasha… the Fire Wagon!”

It was hard to call the thing that appeared a creature. It looked more like a vehicle. To be specific, it was a big gypsy wagon without horse or rider, with large, flaming wheels, and a stone gargoyle’s face in the front. Two fiendish arms with green skin and claws were on the top, and each one held a lantern.

“What is that?!” shouted Jinx.

“My most powerful Monster!” laughed Fang. “I can Special Summon it when I have at least two Zombies on the field, which I did. And when I do so, all Monsters except itself go back to the owners’ decks.”

Red-Eyes, Thousand Dragon, Gatmuz, and Gaia all vanished.

“This isn’t good…” muttered Jinx.

“More than you could ever believe!” laughed Fang. “Because as far as its Attack Score goes, it equals 1,000 for every Zombie it just sent back to our decks.”

“Which, because of the Field Spell, was all of them,” muttered Jinx. “Swell…”

(4,000 ATK)

“Kasha…” ordered Fang. “Attack her directly!”

The gargoyle on the front of Kasha opened its mouth, and belched a blast of fire that looked like a furnace exploding. Jinx let out a bloodcurdling scream as she was hit by the powerful attack, and collapsed to her knees.



(J: 1,400) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 4,700)


“That’s all for me…” chuckled Fang.

“I… won’t let you… win…” gasped Jinx, as she struggled to get up.

She drew a card. Then she set both of her cards in her Disk, and a facedown card and a facedown Monster appeared.

“That’s my turn…”

“Then watch out!” laughed Fang.

He drew a card.

Hmm, not a Monster, he thought, but this will certainly help…

“I Equip Kasha with Zombie Lineage,” he said, playing it. “This gives it 500 more Attack Points during my Battle Phase. But more importantly, if you try to destroy it with a card effect, the Equip Spell takes the fall for it.

“Now, toast her Monster!”

Kasha’s Attack Score rose to 4,500, and it belched its wave of flames again, and Morphing Jar appeared on the card, right before it was incinerated. Jinx smirked.

Fang growled. He discarded the four cards in his hand, and then made five draws.

He looked at his five new cards.

“I’ll end my turn by setting a Monster in Defense Mode,” he said, playing a card.

A hidden Monster appeared next to Kasha.

It must be a Spirit Reaper, thought Jinx. What other Zombie would he have put in Defense Mode?

I’ll worry about it later…

She quickly drew a card.

“Your Zombie Lineage is a powerful card,” she said, “but it has one weakness… It can’t protect Kasha from being destroyed in battle.”

“HA!” laughed Fang. “I’d like to see you TRY to destroy a Monster this powerful in battle!”

“Be careful what you wish for,” said Jinx. “I summon X-Saber Palomlo!”

She played the card, and the axe-wielding lizard man appeared. (200 ATK)

“Now, I play a Spell Card,” she said, as a card appeared on her side of the field. “Star Blaster.”

An odd creature flew out of the card holding a die. It combined the features of both the teddy bear from Graceful Dice, and the imp from Skull Dice.

“First, I gotta sacrifice a Monster, so I’ll sacrifice Palomlo.”

Palomlo vanished.

“Then, I roll the die once.”

The imp tossed the die, and it skipped and bounced. Eventually, it landed on the five.

“Five?” asked Fang. “What does that mean?”

“I add that to the Level of the Monster I sacrificed,” explained Jinx. “That equals six. Now, I get to Special Summon a Level 6 Monster from my hand.

“Like Maximum Six!”

In a burst of energy, Maximum Six appeared on the field in front of her. (1,900 ATK)

“HA, HA, HA!” laughed Fang. “What a waste! You Special Summoned it! Maximum Six can only use its effect if it’s Normal Summoned!”

“True,” said Jinx, “but I’m far from done…

“I play… Monster Reborn!”

The holy ankh appeared, and X-Saber Passiul appeared next to Maximum Six. (100 ATK)

“Now, I Tune them together. Go!”

The two Monsters flew into the sky, and split into eight glowing stars this time…

With a radiant splendor, Jalal the Dragonborn alighted onto the field. (2,600 ATK)

“Big deal!” shouted Fang, nervously. “He’s all bark and no bite. He still can’t beat Kasha!”

“Well why don’t I use his effect?” said Jinx. “I pay half my Life Points to remove my Monster Reborn from play, and place a Rune Counter on Jalal’s sword.”

The Spell Card fell out of Jinx’s discard slot, and an odd symbol appeared on Jalal’s weapon.

“Now, I expend that Rune Counter to use that Spell’s effect!” continued Jinx.

Jalal lifted his sword to the sky, and the glowing ankh appeared again. Fang’s discard slot glowed, and the shadowy form of Despair From the Dark appeared behind Jinx. (2,800 ATK)

“WHAT?” gasped Fang. “Why the Hell did you summon him to your side of the field?

“Did you forget about my Card of Safe Return? It activates when anyone summons a Monster from my Graveyard.”

He drew a card.

“You’d better hope it’s a good one,” said Jinx, pointing to her facedown card. “I summoned it so I could use this.”

It lifted up.

“Gift of the Martyr! Now, by sacrificing Despair From the Dark, Jalal gains Attack Points equal to its Attack Score for one round.”

Despair From the Dark vanished, and Jalal glowed with energy. (5,400 ATK)

“Oh, no…” gulped Fang.

“Jalal…” shouted Jinx. “Fix his little red wagon!”

Jalal leapt at Kasha, and made a slash at the Zombie wagon with his blade. All of Zombie World was lit up by a fiery explosion as it was blown apart. Fang braced himself from the impact.



(J: 700) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 3,300)


“Your move…” said Jinx, as Jalal fell back to an Attack Score of 2,600.

“Oh, you think you’re so smart!” said Fang, as he drew a card. “Well, you know something? I can be smart too!

“I play Giant Trunade!”

“Huh?” said Jinx, as the Spell Card appeared. “But the only Spell Cards on the field are yours!”

The wind ripped across the field, and the haunted graveyard around them vanished, returning them to the normal cemetery. Zombie World, Call of the Mummy, and Card of Safe Return reappeared in Fang’s hand.

“That’s right,” chuckled Fang. “And without Zombie World, Jalal is a Warrior again, which is just how I like him.

“Know why?

“I sacrifice my facedown Monster…”

The concealed Monster vanished.

“…to summon Ryu Kokki!”

With a rumble, a huge, hulking creature the size of an ogre, that seemed to be made entirely out of bones and skulls, rose out of the ground. It looked at Jinx with an evil grin. (2,400 ATK)

“I get it…” muttered Jinx. “Any Warrior who battles Ryu Kokki is destroyed by its effect, so you couldn’t have Zombie World on the field.”

“That’s right,” chuckled Fang. “And I’ll play a facedown card too.”

A reversed card appeared.

“And I’ll end my turn.”

Just in case you think you can sacrifice Jalal to clear the way for a direct attack with another Monster, he thought, my Dimensional Prison will stop it cold. And you only have 700 Life Points left… Winning this duel will be easier than it seems.

Jinx drew a card.

His strategy seems sound, she thought. But he made one mistake, and it’s gonna cost him.

“I use Jalal’s effect again,” she said. “This time, I’m removing a Spell Card in your Graveyard from play.”

“HUH?” said Fang.

“I’ll cut my Life Points in half again,” said Jinx, “and the card I want is your Giant Trunade.”

Fang started to sweat as the Spell Card fell out of his discard slot, and a new rune appeared on Jalal’s sword. Then he lifted the blade, and the fierce wind ripped across the field, blowing the Trap Card back to Fang’s hand.

“So much for that,” said Jinx, playing a Spell Card. “Now I play… Question.”

Eh? thought Fang. Question?

“Here’s the deal,” said Jinx. “You gotta guess what Monster is at the bottom of my Graveyard. If you guess right, I have to remove it from play. But if you guess wrong, I get to Special Summon it to the field.”

Fang frowned.

Darn, it’s been such a long duel! he thought. Was it her Alligator’s Sword? Wait, no… She summoned that back to the field, and then used it to Synchro Summon Gaia!

Argh! That’s the problem with my deck! It manipulates both Graveyards, altering their orders so many times!

“Want a hint?” asked Jinx with a grin. “The Monster at the bottom of my Graveyard is one that I tossed when you played Hand Destruction on your first turn! So I doubt you even saw it!

“So… I think I’ll give you ten more seconds…”

“Grr…” growled Fang, as he bore his incisors.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” said Jinx, “but an angry growl was not the answer we were looking for.

“So… Meet X-Saber Airbellum!”

In a burst of energy and a loud snarl, a new X-Saber appeared next to Jalal. This one looked far more bestial than the others, with a wolf-like face, and a mane that was blonde on his right side, and brown on his left. He wore leather armor, with the X-Saber insignia on his belt, and had sharp, three-bladed claws on each of his wrist guards. (1,600 ATK)

“Now, I’ll Normal Summon X-Saber Urz!” she shouted.

In another burst, the barbarian Warrior leapt onto the field, swinging his twin sabers. (1,600 ATK)

“Jalal, take out Ryu Kokki!”

Jalal bravely charged at the Bone Dragon Ogre.

“I know, Ryu Kokki’s effect will destroy Jalal,” said Jinx. “But Jalal has more points, so your Monster won’t be surviving either!”

Jalal struck the huge beast with his blade, and there was a great explosion as both Monsters were blown to pieces.

“Ergh…” grunted Fang.

“Airbellum… Urz…” said Jinx. “Finish him with X-Saber combination slash!”

Airbellum and Urz turned to each other and nodded. Then they both leapt at the gnoll, and two slashes of their weapons sent the thug tumbling over.



(J: 350) - - - - - - - - - - (F: 0)


As the Monsters vanished, Fang slowly got up, and looked at Jinx with a look of hate.

“So I lost…” he growled.

He reached behind him, and drew a Bowie knife from his belt.

“Big deal! I don’t care about what rules I have to break. I’m gonna…”

He was interrupted as Gears suddenly appeared behind him and caught both of his arms in a lock.

“Drop it!” demanded Gears. “Drop it now!”

Then Shichiro appeared from the side. Fang apparently wasn’t going to drop it, so he snatched it away from him, and then the two Shadowchasers forced the gnoll to the ground.

“What took you two so long?” asked Jinx.

“Traffic jam,” muttered Shichiro. “And we think it was started on purpose. DaPen thought of everything… Almost.”

“We only got here by doing a rush programming job on the trans-dimensional system,” said Gears. “We never really expected the cemetery to be a destination point. But we managed to get here about five minutes ago…”

“You’ve been here five minutes?” asked Jinx. “Then why didn’t you show yourselves sooner?”

“Heh,” said Shichiro. “You were doing so well at that point, we didn’t feel it was necessary…”

Jinx bent down and picked up something that Fang had just dropped. A game card.

“Oh, swell,” she said, looking at it. “Another piece of the puzzle…”

It was Cloudian – Acid Cloud.



* * * * * * * * * *


As an old song goes, sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.

But even if you do that, there’s no guarantee that they’ll all be glad you came.

At a bar on the other side of town, it was around the time when business was just picking up. Tired folks who had worked all day and needed a drink to relax were all coming in.

One patron came in who never failed to stand out. He stood more than seven feet tall, and was about five feet wide. He had dark skin, and a full, black beard. He wore a uniform that looked like it belonged to some branch of Security, but it had not been properly laundered in a long time – it was wrinkled and stained and stunk of body odor.

All of the other patrons frowned and turned away upon seeing him come in. They knew him well, and knew that he was one of the rudest, most unlikable people they had ever associated with.

The bartender watched, as the huge man walked up to him.

“What do you want, Takasu?” asked the bartender.

“What do you mean, what do I want?” asked the man. “Gimme the usual.”

“No,” replied the bartender.

“Whaddaya mean no?” shouted Takasu.

“Lower your voice, pal,” said the bartender. “The manager says you don’t drink here anymore until you pay your bar tab. No exceptions.”

Takasu stood up.

“Now you look here, you little…” he started.

“You want me to call a real member of Security, Takasu?” asked the bartender. “And I said lower your voice. I’m not gonna repeat it. I’m not going to tolerate you scaring the customers any more.”

Takasu sighed, and sat back down, leaning his head on his hand.

“How the mighty have fallen…” he muttered. “There was a time when I told folks to jump, and they would only ask ‘how high?’ Now I can’t get any respect at all…”

“You’re breaking my heart,” replied the bartender. “And we have a no loitering rule here, by the way, so if you can’t pay that tab, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Excuse me sir,” said a voice.

Both the bartender and Takasu turned, and saw the one who had spoken. It was a strange man, clothed entirely in a thick, black robe and a black hood, with black gloves on his hands. Considering that it was summer, it seemed a very odd choice of attire. His face was the type that was very unremarkable and easily forgettable.

“I couldn’t help but hear that Mr. Takasu owes you some money,” said the stranger. “Exactly how much are we talking about here?”

“Ah, heh, heh,” said the bartender. “Look, pal… If you’re some Good Samaritan who wants to pay this deadbeat’s tab, I should warn you, it’s a lot, and I’ll also warn you, he likely won’t pay you back.”

“You didn’t answer my question,” said the stranger.

“Fifty-thousand yen,” replied the bartender.

The stranger reached into his cloak, and took out a roll of thousand-yen notes. He tossed it on the bar.

The bartender picked it up, dumbfounded.

“There should be a little extra there,” said the stranger, “so you can get Mr. Takasu what he just asked for. As for me, I’ll have a martini.”

The bartender nervously went to get the drinks, while Takasu looked at the stranger with a suspicious glance.

“No thank you?” asked the stranger.

“Not that I ain’t grateful,” replied Takasu, “but I’m kinda suspicious of folks who want to do me big favors for no reason. What are you, some kinda priest?”

“No,” said the stranger. “But I share one thing in common with priests… I’m a good listener. I see that you’re down on your luck, friend, and I have an open ear if you care to tell me about it.”

“Not much to say, really,” mumbled Takasu. “I give Godwin the best years of my life, doing the best job I can, and then he fires me.

“And for what? Cause I tried to put a damn Satellite in his place! Apparently, Godwin thinks higher of Scum than he does of me.”

“Life can be so cruel sometimes,” said the stranger. “So, have you tried to get work since then?”

Takasu sighed.

“I kinda burned my bridges in that area when I took the last position,” he replied.

The stranger nodded.

“Hard to get references, I assume,” he said. “Being the warden of the detention center gave you power, but it didn’t give you many friends… But you figured, who needs friends, so long as you had power?

“And when you were fired, you lost the power, and ended up with nothing…”

The bartender set a beer and a martini in front of them, but Takasu seemed too depressed at this point to drink.

“Tell me something,” said the stranger. “Can you still duel?”

“Yeah, but not as well as I used to,” replied Takasu. “The strongest Monster in my deck actually belonged to Godwin, and he made me give it back when I was fired.”

The stranger took a card out of his robe.

“Is this the card?” he asked.

“Where’d you get that?” shouted Takasu.

“Do not ask such questions,” replied the stranger. “I’m simply here to help. Now take the card… And it will turn your life around for the better…”

Takasu hesitated. He slowly reached for the card…

Then he took it. He looked at it.



* * * * * * * * * *


Ten minutes later, Takasu left the bar, not having said anything else. The stranger was at the door, watching him leave.

He took a mobile from his robe, and hit a speed dial number.

“Louis?” he said. “It’s me. I found a patsy.”

“Will he do?” came the reply.

“Well, he should give them something to think about tomorrow morning at the very least,” replied the cloaked man. “I wouldn’t put my hopes on him winning too high.”

“Are you sure he won’t put two and two together once it’s over?” asked DaPen.

The cloaked man watched as Takasu walked out of sight.

“Are you kidding?” he said. “I doubt that this guy could add two and two together. But we don’t exactly need subtlety or smarts for this endeavor…”



Another day had come to an end, and we had foiled another of DaPen’s plans. But like the mythical hydra, when one head was chopped off, two more grew in its place. We seemingly had not yet made a dent in DaPen’s ultimate plans, and he still had much more in the works, including a new factor that had just come into the picture.

Tomorrow would bring more trouble for the Shadowchasers, not just for the group I was a part of, but for others in other parts of the world, as research was done towards locating the Silver Hemisphere. We didn’t exactly know why Jalal wanted it, and we certainly didn’t know why DaPen wanted it, but we knew that Jalal’s reason for wanting it would be far more benign…



X-SABER AIRBELLUM (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Beast/Tuner/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 3
ATK: 1,600
DEF: 200

Card Description: When this card inflicts battle damage to your opponent via a direct attack, your opponent randomly discards 1 card from his/her hand.

Note: “X-Saber Airbellum” was released in Japan for the original “Duel Terminal” system. It has not yet been released in the United States.



KASHA (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Zombie/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 8
ATK: ?
DEF: 1,000

Card Description: When you have two or more Zombie-Type Monsters face-up on the field, you may Special Summon this card from your hand. When this card is Special Summoned in this manner, return all Monsters on the field to their owners’ decks. The decks are then reshuffled. The ATK of this card is 1,000 for each Zombie-Type Monster returned to the decks in this manner.

Note: “Kasha” is a Japanese card that has not yet been released in the United States.



STAR BLASTER (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: An imp with a die, dressed in clothing that combines the features of the teddy bear on “Graceful Dice” and the imp on “Skull Dice”.

Card Description: Tribute one Monster you control, and roll one die. Special Summon from your hand 1 Monster whose Level matches the sum of the Level of the Tributed Monster and the die roll result.

Note: “Star Blaster” was first used by Joey in the original anime episode “On the Wrong Track (Part 2)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



ZOMBIE LINEAGE (Spell Card)

Equip Spell

Image: A beautiful, female vampire extending a hand to a handsome, young man.

Card Description: Increase the ATK of the Equipped Monster by 500 during your Battle Phase only. If the Equipped Monster would be destroyed by a card effect, you can prevent it from being destroyed by destroying this card.

Note: “Zombie Lineage” was first used by Skull Knight in the “Yu-Gi-Oh GX” episode “What Lies Beneath (Part 2)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



Coming up next:

No one likes going to the post office, but is it really a place where you have to worry about being mugged? It sure seems that way as Takasu, who may or may not truly be himself at this point, shows up just as the four Shadowchasers go to pick up the two delivered Swords, and challenges Shichiro for them. And while Shichiro may be using his real deck, unlike Yusei did against Takasu, an inner struggle might hinder him along the way as he comes to grips with his past.

“Chain Energy” is coming next.

Shuppet Master
8th March 2009, 07:52 PM
Great, we have that warden who tortured Yusei fighting the gang. Man, this really sucks.

Nice chapter, though. Zombie decks are really hard to make original. ;)

Dark Sage
11th March 2009, 06:28 AM
Author’s note: This chapter takes place before the events of Episode 32. The revelations of that episode have not yet come to light, and are not known to anyone except the Dark Signers, who currently consist of only three members.




CHAPTER NINETEEN




http://www.ideal808.com/images/db1_en030.jpg



Well, the night went like it did before, and the morning came, just as it did before. Eight o’clock found the four of us back at the townhouse, preparing for a new day. As Boris washed the breakfast dishes, I was on the computer studying up on the most popular cards that were in circulation, Gears was with Mistle (still trying to figure out the right way to give her that card)…

And as for Shichiro? He was in the den contemplating, while Jinx was watching and wondering what the heck was wrong with him…


Shichiro sat on the couch in the den, looking long and hard at two cards in his hands: the Junk Synchron and Junk Warrior cards that he had taken from that demonic auto. Jinx looked at him with an annoyed glare.

Then she spoke up.

“Is that all you’re going to with those cards?” she asked. “Look at them?”

“Certainly you don’t expect me to use them?” asked Shichiro.

Jinx sighed.

“Shichiro,” she said, “if you want me to tell you that it wasn’t your fault that it ended badly with those guys, I can’t tell you that. Jalal warned you about pursuing that project. But still, I doubt Yusei would mind. It’s not like he holds the copyright to that card.”

Shichiro looked at her. He picked up four pencils from the coffee table.

“Jinx,” he said, “let me tell you a little story about four young boys… not quite men at the time. They were bonded together by an alliance that made them more than friends, almost brothers. In fact, they were raised together since they were children; they might have well have truly been brothers.

“Fate had dealt them a bad hand, condemning them to the lower class of Neo Domino, the forsaken place called Satellite. Because they believed at the time that there was no way out, they decided they should make the most of their situation, and be satisfied with it. They became a team, and called themselves Team Satisfaction.

“Three things drove all four members of this team at one time… They were driven by morals, ambition, and optimism…

“But the cold hand of fate would intervene again, and would come down hard…”

He looked at one of the pencils.

“Yusei Fudo… Kept his morals and ambition… lost his optimism. The guy doesn’t laugh any more, and hardly ever smiles. His world is clouded by gloom.”

He put the pencil down and picked up the second one.

“Jack Atlas… Kept his ambition and optimism… lost his morals. He became nothing more than a tool for the mass media, selling his pride and self-respect for fame and money, only to find that it all was hollow in the end…”

He put that one down, and picked up the third one.

“Crow… Kept his morals and optimism… lost his ambition. Decided that the only way he could make a difference was to openly defy authority, becoming a criminal to help others. Noble, maybe, but I’m sure he knows that it will only lead to a dead end.”

He picked up the last pencil.

“And the leader of them all, the once-great Kyosuke Kiryu…”

He broke the pencil in half.

“Lost his morals, ambition, and optimism, along with everything else…

“Rest in peace, Kiryu…”

“And you think all that is because of what you did?” asked Jinx.

“Maybe not, Jinx,” replied Shichiro. “But you gotta wonder if it wouldn’t have turned out better for them if I just didn’t stick my nose into their business with my stupid ideas.”

“Listen!” shouted Jinx. “Did you tell Kiryu to kill that Security officer? No. Did you tell Jack to double-cross Yusei and become a thief? No! All four of them chose their own paths, and they’ll all just have to make the best of the choices they made!”

Shichiro looked at her.

“Well,” she muttered, “except for Kiryu, but that’s beside the point. All this time, you’ve been in this funk because you felt responsible.

“You griped about Jack having an ego the size of the moon when he became King of the Riding Duels. Well, you had the evidence that could have exposed him as a native of Satellite, and if you had given it to the press, he would have been toppled from his throne. But you kept quiet, because you felt responsible for what happened, and you felt sorry for him.”

Shichiro sighed again.

“And as far as those cards are concerned,” said Jinx, “why don’t we let them decide?”

“What?” asked Shichiro. “Let them decide? What do you mean?”

“Some say that cards have souls, Shichiro,” said Jinx. “Some say that they choose the duelist. You think that Yusei chose Stardust Dragon? I’d say it was the other way around.”

She got up.

“Give me your deck and Junk Synchron,” she ordered.

Shichiro sighed. He took his deck out of his Disk, which was on the coffee table, and handed it and Junk Synchron to Jinx.

Jinx quickly added it to his deck, and gave it a thorough shuffle. Then she put it back in the Disk.

Then she put on her own Disk.

“Okay,” she said. “Get up and duel me.”

“You’re kidding,” replied Shichiro.

“I’m deadly serious,” replied Jinx. “We’re gonna settle this once and for all.”

She activated her Disk.

“This is stupid,” muttered Shichiro, even as he activated his own.

“I’ll start off with something easy,” said Jinx, as she made her first draw. “I’ll summon Alligator’s Sword.”

She played the card, and Alligator’s Sword leapt onto the field in Attack Mode. (1,500 ATK)

“And it’s your move…”

Shichiro went to draw a card…

And then he hesitated.

“What’s wrong?” asked Jinx. “You aren’t afraid of Alligator’s Sword, are you? He’s hardly my strongest Monster.”

Shichiro drew a card…

Then he gasped as he saw what it was.

“You drew it, didn’t you?” asked Jinx. “You just drew Junk Synchron, right?”

“This… This doesn’t prove anything!” shouted Shichiro.

“We’ll see,” said Jinx, hitting a command on her Disk.

Alligator’s Sword vanished.

“Let’s start over,” she said. “Shuffle your deck and draw a new opening hand.”

Shichiro sighed, and shuffled his deck. He drew five cards again.

“This time, you go first,” said Jinx.

Shichiro drew a card.

He gasped again. It was Junk Synchron again.

“You drew it again, didn’t you?” asked Jinx. “Do you need any more convincing?”

“I…” said Shichiro.

Then his cell phone rang. He took it out of his pocket and looked at it.

Saved by the bell, he said.

He answered it.

“Yeah?” he said. “Uh huh… Uh huh… Yeah, we’ll be right down.”

“It was the post office,” he said, hanging up. “We have to go down and pick up two Retro packages. The Swords are here.”

“I’d best get Ember and Gears,” replied Jinx. “We’re gonna have to protect them if DaPen tries something…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Post offices have a reputation for being crowded, noisy places with long lines that take a long time to get the service you require from them. Shichiro and his four allies did have one thing in their favor at the large post office – the line for international parcels was never very long.

“Yes, my name is Osaka Shichiro,” he said to the clerk, as he held up his driver’s license. “I have two Retro packages here for me, I believe.”

“Uhm, yes,” said the clerk, looking at the clipboard. “Well, if you’ll just sign here, and here…”

He placed a pair of forms on the counter, and Shichiro picked up the pen that was provided.

He didn’t know that Takasu was watching from a safe distance, at the entrance of the post office.

After five minutes, the clerk handed over two large, elongated packages wrapped with packing tape, and marked fragile, with a great deal of insurance postage.

Shichiro slung them over his shoulder and turned to the others.

“Let’s get these to Soelma quickly,” he said. “I don’t want to send DaPen an invitation now that we have them.”

“Agreed,” said Gears.

As he walked to the entrance, he quickly saw that Takasu was standing in his way.

“Excuse me, sir,” he said.

Takasu didn’t answer.

“Would you mind not standing there?” asked Shichiro.

“I like standing here,” said Takasu, with a grin.

Shichiro frowned.

“Okay, here’s where I stop being polite,” he said. “Move it or lose it, buster!”

Takasu chuckled.

“I mean it!” said Shichiro. “Stand aside, Clyde!”

“And what are you gonna do if I don’t move?” he asked.

“Then maybe I’ll wipe that grin off your ugly face,” replied Shichiro.

Takasu chuckled again.

“Uh, I don’t suggest you start something with me, pal,” he chuckled. “As you can see, I’m, ahem, quite large…”

“I’ve beaten bigger,” replied Shichiro.

“Uh, Shichiro?” said Ember, nervously. “Maybe we’d better find another door… Look at the size of him!”

“Don’t worry, Ember,” said Shichiro. “This guy’s bark is worse than is bite.”

“Oh, is that so?!” shouted Takasu, right in Shichiro’s face.

Shichiro made a grimace.

“…but not worse than his breath…” he said. “And I mean it… Boy, your breath stinks! I mean, I can tell what you’ve eaten in the past twenty-four hours.”

“Huh?” said Takasu.

“For breakfast this morning, you had lox and bagels,” continued Shichiro.

“Now, wait just a minute…” muttered Takasu.

“Yesterday, you had barbecue-pork pizza for dinner with a side of wings,” continued Shichiro.

“I don’t have to take this…” growled Takasu, angrily.

“And for lunch before that, you had a cheesesteak with green peppers and grilled onions. Am I right?”

“You think you’re so smart!” yelled Takasu.

He gave Shichiro a shove, but Shichiro maintained his footing.

Shichiro glared at Takasu, and then he handed the two parcels to Gears.

“Hold these,” he said.

Takasu looked hard at him, and then picked his nose with his index finger.

“YUCK!” cried Jinx. “You don’t eat with that hand, do you?”

“Look pal,” said Shichiro. “And by the way, that was pretty disgusting…

“Anyway, if you want to fight, I’ll be glad to oblige. Let’s just take it outside.”

“Not fight,” chuckled Takasu.

He put a Duel Disk on his arm, one that looked like it was industrial size, if such a style of Duel Disks were actually made.

“I’m a bit more civilized than you think…” he said. “So why don’t we throw down?”

“You’re on…” replied Shichiro. “You know, I like fat people…”

“Eh?” said Takasu.

“Fat people are funny,” said Shichiro. “When they fall down, it takes them a long time to get back up…”



* * * * * * * * * *


Shichiro and Takasu stood face-to-face on the large, concrete steps in front of the post office.

“Shichiro?” said Jinx. “Are you absolutely sure this is a good idea? I mean, this guy may look like the average thug, but I have a feeling…”

“So do I, Jinx,” said Shichiro. “I have a feeling there’s more to this too, and that’s exactly the reason why I’m dueling him and not just telling him to get lost.”

The two Duel Disks activated.

“Let’s rumble,” said Takasu.



(Shichiro: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Takasu: 8,000)


“My draw,” said Shichiro, making a draw.

He looked over his hand of six cards.

“I’ll set this in Defense Mode, and that will be all.”

He placed the card on his Disk, and a concealed Monster appeared.

“That all?” chuckled Takasu, making his first draw. “I expected more of a challenge.

“I summon… Iron Chain Repairman!”

He threw a card on his Disk, and a surge of energy shot out in front of him. The Monster that appeared looked like a bulky, heavy-set man with gunmetal grey skin, dressed in overalls with chains for suspenders, a bandana on his head, and no shoes. He carried a huge sledgehammer slung over his shoulder. (1,600 ATK)

An Iron Chain Monster? thought Shichiro.

“That’s a Monster?” said Ember. “It looks like the guy who comes into Mr. Draco’s building to fix the furnace!”

“Don’t underestimate that guy,” said Gears. “It can be very dangerous.”

“Very dangerous indeed!” laughed Takasu. “Repairman… Hammer time!”

Iron Chain Repairman let out a hoarse roar, and leapt at the facedown Monster with its weapon. A winged angel holding a bow and arrow appeared on the card, right before it was smashed to pieces.

“You just flipped my Skelengel,” said Shichiro. “Now I get to draw one card.”

He made a draw.

“My Repairman has a few tricks too,” replied Takasu. “See, even though your cherub was in Defense Mode, you lose 300 Life Points whenever Repairman smashes a Monster.”

Shichiro groaned a little.

“I’ll set one card,” said Takasu, as a facedown card appeared behind Repairman, “and that’s all for now.”



(S: 7,700) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 8,000)


Shichiro quickly made another draw.

“See this?” he said, holding up a card. “This is a real Warrior, and his name is Grepher!”

He played the card, and Warrior Dai Grepher materialized. (1,700 ATK)

“All right!” shouted Ember. “Shichiro’s Monster is stronger!”

“But why stop there?” asked Shichiro, playing another card. “I’ll give him Jeweled Sword.”

Grepher’s normal sword vanished, and a much fancier one materialized in its place. (2,000 ATK)

“Now, cut down his Repairman!” he shouted.

Grepher charged at the overweight Warrior…

“He can try, but he’s not gonna,” chuckled Takasu, as his facedown card lifted up. “Not as long as I got Soul Anchor. This Trap can Equip to my Monster, and make him invincible in battle.”

Grepher’s sword struck the Repairman, who groaned a little, but didn’t shatter.



(S: 7,700) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 7,600)


“Yeah, well,” said Shichiro, “Grepher may not be able to beat your Monster, but it can’t beat Grepher either.”

“We’ll see about that,” said Takasu, drawing a card.

“First, I play Paralyzing Chain!”

He played a card, and a Continuous Spell appeared on his side of the field.

“Now, I summon Iron Chain Snake!”

A new creature appeared that sort of looked like a snake. Actually, it looked more like a big, thick, steel chain with a snake’s head on the end. (800 ATK)

“Don’t judge this critter by its looks,” said Takasu, with a grin. “It’s actually a really friendly type. In fact, it wants to give Grepher a big hug.”

Then the Snake leapt forward, and coiled around Warrior Dai Grepher, bringing him to his knees.

“HEY!” shouted Shichiro.

“Of course, now Grepher loses 800 Attack Points,” continued Takasu.

(1,200 ATK)

“And that’s just how my Repairman likes it! Attack Warrior Dai Grepher!”

Shichiro shielded himself as Repairman’s hammer came down, smashing Grepher to pieces.

“Don’t forget,” said Takasu, with a grin, “you lose an extra 300 Life Points. And because Grepher had that Snake on him, you also lose four cards from your deck, one for each Level that Grepher had. So ditch ‘em!”

Shichiro made a scowl. He took the four cards off the top of his deck, and discarded them.

“And thanks to my Paralyze Chain,” continued Takasu, “you lose 300 more Life Points every time you lose cards from your deck!”

Shichiro groaned a little again.

“Yeah?” muttered Shichiro. “Well, thanks to Jeweled Sword, I get to draw one card too…”

He made a draw.

“What sort of strategy is this?” said Ember.

“Aggro-Mill,” replied Gears. “It’s rare type of Mill Deck where the opponent also has to worry about his Life Points. Double the trouble.”

“Your move,” said Takasu.



(S: 6,700) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 7,600)


Shichiro frowned at him and drew a card.

Then he gasped when he saw what it was.

It was Junk Synchron.

What the?! he thought. I must have forgotten to take this out of my deck!

Aw man, now what? I can’t just…

Wait…

He hit a small switch on his Disk, and the chamber where his Extra Deck was stored opened.

To his horror, it was there. Junk Warrior was right on top. He had absolutely no idea how it had gotten there.

He slowly closed the chamber…

“Are you gonna move or what?” asked Takasu.

“Give me a minute!” shouted Shichiro. “I’m thinking, here!”

He added the card to his hand, and chose two others.

Not gonna panic, he thought. Jinx is just trying to make me put the past behind me. Well, I don’t need her to do that…

“I set a facedown, and then summon Axe Raider,” he said.

A reversed card appeared, and then Axe Raider appeared in front of him. (1,700 ATK)

“Your move…” he said.

Takasu chuckled again, and made another draw.

“Oh, I get it,” he said. “The facedown card is a Trap, and Axe Raider is the bait, right? Sorry to disappoint you, pal, but you ain’t the first guy to make the mistake that my brains were as weak as my body was strong.

“I ain’t gonna bite, and I don’t have to…

“First, I’m gonna play the Continuous Spell, Messenger of Peace…”

A new Continuous Spell appeared on the field.

“All I gotta do is spend 100 Life Points per turn, and all Monsters with 1,500 Attack Points or more don’t attack!”

“Hold on!” said Ember. “That means his Repairman can’t attack!”

“That may be true,” replied Takasu, “but it doesn’t have to attack to make your friend sorry. Cause I’m also playing Poison Chain!”

A third Continuous Spell appeared on Takasu’s field.

“Now, I’m activating Repairman’s other effect. If it doesn’t attack this round, and like the lady just said, it can’t anyway, I can summon a low-Level Monster from my Graveyard with the words ‘Iron Chain’ in its name.”

Repairman slammed its hammer against the ground, and Iron Chain Snake appeared again. (800 ATK)

“Next, I’m summoning Iron Chain Blaster!”

He played another card, and a soldier of some sort in armor appeared. It had chains all over its rusty battle-suit, and held a large cannon. (1,100 ATK)

“A cannon?” asked Jinx.

“And it uses Iron Chain Monsters as ammunition,” chuckled Takasu. “So let’s lock and load.”

Iron Chain Snake turned to pure energy, and flowed into Iron Chain Blaster. Then the cannon fired, knocking Shichiro over.

“Now I’m ending my turn,” chuckled Takasu. “And that means Poison Chain activates, causing you to lose one card from your deck for each Iron Chain Monster I’ve got. That’s two more cards!”

Shichiro frowned, and discarded two more cards.

“And don’t forget my Paralyze Chain…” chuckled Takasu.

Shichiro groaned again.



(S: 5,600) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 7,600)


“And by the way,” said Takasu, “I can keep doing that, every round…”

“We’ll see about that, fellah,” said Shichiro, as he started to sweat. “Draw!”

He drew a card.

He looked at it.

What am I gonna do? he thought. None of these cards can help me right now…

He looked at Junk Synchron.

He slowly started to reach for it. His hand shook…

I can’t… he thought.

“Well?” said Takasu.

“I pass…” said Shichiro, with a snarl.

“Your funeral,” said Takasu, making a draw. “I pay 100 Life Points to keep Messenger of Peace.”

Repairman slammed his hammer down, and Iron Chain Snake reappeared. (800 ATK)

Then Takasu played another card, and a second Snake appeared. (800 ATK)

“Two of them?” shouted Ember.

“What?” asked Takasu. “You think I only have one?”

Iron Chain Blaster absorbed one of the Snakes, and fired again. Shichiro groaned.

“I end my turn,” chuckled Takasu. “And you know what that means. I have three Iron Chain Monsters now.”

Shichiro growled, and discarded three cards. Then he groaned as Paralyzing Chain glowed again.



(S: 4,500) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 7,500)


“This isn’t like Shichiro,” muttered Gears. “He normally would never let a nutcase like this walk all over him. Something’s happened that’s causing him to hold back…”

“And he’d better get his act together,” said Jinx, “or this strategy is going to finish him off in a matter of rounds.”

Shichiro drew a card.

This might help, he thought, looking at the Trap Card, but it would only solve part of the problem…

He looked at the Junk Synchron card.

Looks like I don’t have a choice… If I must let the card decide, now’s as good a time as ever…

“I set one card facedown,” he said, as a reversed card appeared.

“Then… I summon… Junk Synchron!”

With a small burst of energy, the cute robot mechanic leapt onto the field. (1,300 ATK)

“Huh?” said Gears.

“Huh?” said Ember.

“Hmm!” said Junk.

“And now its effect activates,” continued Shichiro, “letting me Special Summon Skelengel in Defense Mode.”

Skelengel appeared, kneeling in Defense. (400 DEF)

“Ha, ha, ha, ha!” laughed Takasu. “So you managed to bring out a Tuner! I don’t think there IS a Synchro Monster weak enough to get by my Messenger of Peace!”

“There isn’t,” replied Shichiro. “But Junk Synchron itself is weak enough. Although, it is stronger than your Blaster.”

Takasu stopped laughing.

“Take out his Iron Chain Blaster!” shouted Shichiro.

Junk Synchron leapt at the large cannon, and socked it with its fist, blowing it into scrap.

“Ergh…” muttered Takasu.



Continued…

Dark Sage
11th March 2009, 06:30 AM
Continued from last post:




(S: 4,500) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 7,300)


Shichiro sighed. He looked at Junk Synchron.

“You absolutely sure about this?” he whispered.

Junk Synchron nodded.

“Okay!” shouted Shichiro. “As an old friend of mine likes to say, let’s rev it up!”

Junk Synchron yanked the ripcord on its waist, and its motor started to hum. Then it and Skelengel flew into the sky. Both Monsters dissolved into five glowing stars.

“Synchro Summon… Junk Warrior!”

With a roar, Junk Warrior landed on the steps in front of Shichiro with a crash. An explosion of flames erupted behind it and Shichiro. (2,300 ATK)

“It’s your move, buddy…” said Shichiro.

Takasu looked at Junk Warrior. He nervously drew a card.

He looked at it and the other card in his hand.

“Oh, Takasu?” said Shichiro. “Think fast…”

The facedown card he had set last turn shot up, and a Dust Tornado shot across the field, blowing Poison Chain to shards.

“Why you little…” cursed Takasu.

“Well, well…” said Shichiro. “Seems it’s harder when you can’t cheat, isn’t it?”

“WHAT?” shouted Takasu. “I never cheat! I… Hey, wait a minute… How’d you know my name?”

“I deal with the criminal element a lot for information,” said Shichiro. “Folks on the wrong side of the law know stuff that other people don’t know. And recently, when I made small talk with several folks who had spent time in the detention facility, they often mentioned a sadistic tyrant who used to be in charge. They gave an accurate description, and also described his deck, and the duel he was in right before Godwin fired him for his atrocities. As soon as you summoned an Iron Chain Monster, I figured it was you. And I know that you’re a big cheater.”

“If you think for one minute that I can’t duel without cheating…” cursed Takasu.

“I do,” interrupted Shichiro, crossing his arms. “So why don’t you come out and tell us why you decided to bother us in the first place? I doubt you’re actually working for DaPen… Usually, a disgraced corrections officer tries his hardest to avoid committing crimes, because he knows his future will be very bleak if he ever becomes a prisoner of the same facility where he once abused his power.”

“Listen, you smart-ass!” shouted Takasu. “I never heard of any DaPen! You think you know all about me because you’ve got friends in the underworld? Well then… Why don’t you just try to figure out why I bothered to come here?”

“Make your move…” said Shichiro.

“Now THIS is the Shichiro I know!” laughed Gears.

Takasu growled and looked at the two cards in his hand.

I could use Repairman to bring back Blaster, and use the combo again, he thought. But without my Poison Chain, half my strategy is wrecked… It would take… Uhm… Six rounds to finish him off that way… That gives him plenty of time to find a way past my Messenger of Peace…

Unless…

He looked at Shichiro, and his eyes opened wide.

Unless… He already knows a way past it! Why else would he summon that Synchro Monster with it on the field?

Man… I’d better get rid of Junk Warrior…

“I’m gonna quit paying for Messenger of Peace, so it goes away,” he said.

The Spell Card vanished.

“Iron Chain Snake,” he ordered, “attach to Junk Warrior!”

The metal snake lunged forward, and wrapped itself around Junk Warrior, sending the Synchro Monster falling to its knees. (1,500 ATK)

“Oh…” gasped Ember. “It’s in trouble!”

“You got that right!” laughed Takasu. “My Snake makes your Junk Warrior kinda look like a big piece of junk!”

Shichiro glared at him.

“Iron Chain Repairman…” shouted Takasu, “smash that Monster flat!”

Repairman lifted its hammer, and rushed at Junk Warrior. Shichiro made a smirk.

“That’s just what I wanted you to do, Takasu,” he said.

Then Takasu saw it too late. The Trap Card Shichiro had set right before he had played Messenger of Peace…

Shichiro gestured, and it lifted up.

“I activate Malevolent Catastrophe!” he shouted. “Since you declared an attack, this destroys all Spells and Traps on the field! And since your Snake is acting as an Equip Spell now, it’s included!”

A fierce wind erupted over the whole field, and Takasu braced himself. Paralyze Chain and Soul Anchor were both torn apart. Junk Warrior pulled itself up, tearing the Iron Chain Snake to pieces as it did, and its Attack Score rose back to 2,300.

Iron Chain Repairman still tried to hit Junk Warrior with its hammer, but the Synchro clobbered the overweight Warrior in the gut. Repairman’s eyes bugged out, and it dropped its hammer. Cracks started to appear over its skin.

“All right!” shouted Jinx. “Without that Soul Anchor, Repairman’s defense is gone!”

Iron Chain Repairman collapsed, and then shattered into pixels.

“Ho boy…” muttered Takasu.

He looked at the two cards in his hand.

“I set these facedown,” he said, as two reversed cards appeared, “and I end my turn.”



(S: 4,500) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 6,600)


“My move…” said Shichiro, drawing a card.

“And it’s time to take you out! Axe Raider, attack him directly!”

Axe Raider leapt at Takasu, and slammed his weapon into him. Takasu grunted and made a step backwards.

“Didn’t… hurt…” he growled, with sweat running down his face.

“I’ve got more where that comes from,” said Shichiro. “Junk Warrior, attack with Scrap Fist!”

Junk Warrior’s jetpack ignited, and it flew towards the burly thug, slamming its fist into his stomach. Takasu made a loud grunt, and fell over on his back.



(S: 4,500) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 2,600)


“Whoa,” said Gears. “Talk about a turnaround…”

“Look at Takasu!” laughed Jinx.

Takasu was in the middle of struggling to get up, which, given his immense size, was clearly not the easiest thing in the world.

“What did I tell you?” laughed Shichiro. “When fat people fall down, it takes them a long time to get up. That’s what makes them funny.”

Takasu pulled himself up, his face nearly red with rage.

“SHUT UP!” he shouted. “No one would ever have dared make fun of me like this when I was still in charge of the facility! People respected me then! I was a force to be reckoned with!”

“Let me give you a wake-up call, Takasu,” said Shichiro. “No-one ever truly respected you. Everyone who knew you, your employees, the inmates… They all despised you. Your ability to intimidate and bully was all due to the authority given to you by Godwin, not through any abilities of your own. I doubt anyone was really even afraid of you… They were only afraid of the powers that were supporting you and giving you your authority.

“And when you overstepped that authority and even Godwin became disgusted with you, you quickly learned what you truly were…

“You were nothing. Nothing but a tool, like everyone else who works for him.”

Takasu glared at him.

“My move…” he said. “I make one draw…”

He drew a card.

“…then, I activate my Reckless Greed Trap Card.”

One of his facedown cards lifted up.

“Now I gotta skip two Draw Phases, but I get to draw two cards now.”

He made two draws.

He grinned as he looked at the three cards.

“I play Monster Reborn!” he shouted, playing one of them.

The holy ankh appeared, and one Iron Chain Snake appeared. (800 ATK)

“Why that one again?” asked Ember.

“I’ll show you,” said Takasu, playing another card. “I summon Iron Chain Coil!”

A new Iron Chain Monster appeared next to the Snake. This one looked like a weird toy of some sort. It had a spherical head with big eyes, and a ponytail behind, with a cylindrical torso below, with two feet directly connected to it. Its arms were two long chains with big hands on the ends. (1,100 ATK)

“Uh oh…” said Gears. “That’s a Tuner Monster…”

Takasu lifted up a card.

Godwin may have taken my old copy, he said, and Hell if I know why some guy just wanted to give this new one to me… But I’ve got it again…

So what if I was a tool? I was a damn strong one, and I liked it.

And if I have to be a tool to live the good life, well then, just call me Black & Decker!

“I Tune my Snake and my Coil…” he said, as both Monsters split into six glowing stars.

“…to Synchro Summon… Iron Chain Dragon!”

A beam of energy shot down from the heavens. With a low growl, a huge creature rose from the point of impact. It was a large Dragon with gunmetal grey scales, no limbs except for batlike wings, a serpentine face, and chains wrapped around its neck. (2,500 ATK)

“Well, what do you think?” asked Takasu.

“I’ve fought bigger Dragons before,” muttered Shichiro. “Not much uglier, but I’ve fought bigger…”

“Try laughing your way out of this!” shouted Takasu. “There are five Iron Chain Monsters in my Graveyard right now…”

The phantoms of five Monsters appeared behind Iron Chain Dragon – Repairman, both Snakes, Blaster, and Coil. Then they all dissolved into grains of light.

“…and now I can ditch all five of them, and my Dragon gains 200 Attack Points for each one!”

Takasu pocketed the five cards, and the Dragon let out a mighty roar. (3,500 ATK)

“Turn his Junk Warrior into scrap metal!” he shouted.

The Dragon blasted a bolt of pure energy from its jaws. Shichiro braced himself as Junk Warrior exploded.

“And that ain’t all,” laughed Takasu. “You gotta ditch three more cards from your deck every time my Dragon deals damage.”

Shichiro frowned, and discarded the three cards.

“My turn is over,” said Takasu, “so that means my Dragon’s Attack Score goes back to 2,500. It’s your move…”



(S: 3,300) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 2,600)


Shichiro drew a card.

Hmm, Wicked Reborn… he thought.

“I activate my Trap Card,” said Takasu.

“Huh?” said Shichiro.

Takasu’s facedown card lifted.

“It’s called Cloak and Dagger,” he said. “Here’s how it works. I get to name any Monster I can think of, and if that Monster shows its face in this duel, it’s removed from play.

“I think I’ll name… Colossal Fighter!”

“Huh?” said Shichiro again.

“Didn’t expect that, did ya?” asked Takasu. “I may have lost that duel that got me fired, but I learned something from it. My deck has a serious downside. It can be very dangerous if my opponent can somehow benefit from having a lot of cards in his Graveyard.

“Well, I know that Colossal Fighter is a card that does, and I know you got it. So you ain’t using it!”

“I play a facedown, and move Axe Raider to Defense Mode,” said Shichiro, not acknowledging that he had even heard that rant.

Axe Raider knelt, and set his axe on his lap. (1,150 DEF) A facedown card appeared behind him.

“My move,” said Takasu.

“Don’t forget,” said Shichiro, “you can’t draw this turn.”

“I know that,” muttered Takasu, as he played his last card. “I summon Iron Chain Gardna.”

A new Iron Chain Monster appeared, one that looked like a muscular barbarian with the same gunmetal grey skin, wearing trousers with a thick chain for a belt and no shirt. He held two shields, one on each arm. (200 ATK)

“And when I summon him, he moves right into Defense Mode.”

Iron Chain Gardna knelt and put the two shields together, forming one big shield. (1,900 DEF)

“Okay, that’s unusual…” said Shichiro.

“Iron Chain Dragon, attack!” shouted Takasu.

The Dragon breathed its blast of energy, and Axe Raider was atomized.

“So now what?” asked Takasu.

“I’ll show you…” said Shichiro.

He drew a card.

Sweet… he thought.

His facedown card lifted up.

“I activate Wicked Reborn!” he exclaimed. “Now, I pay 800 Life Points, and I get to bring a Synchro Monster back from my Graveyard.”

Junk Warrior flew out of the card with its jetpack blazing. (2,300 ATK)

“Big deal!” laughed Takasu. “I happen to know that you can’t attack with a Monster that’s summoned with Wicked Reborn.”

“True, he can’t,” replied Shichiro.

“What do you mean?” asked Takasu.

Shichiro played the card he had just drawn.

“I summon Turbo Synchron!” he exclaimed.

With a sound that resembled the hum of a motorcycle in neutral, a little robot appeared next to Junk Warrior. It had a torso shaped like a miniature car, with tires for shoulders, and headlights on the front. (100 ATK)

“Time for a Synchro Summon of a different type,” said Shichiro. “Junk Warrior… Turbo Synchron… You know what to do.”

The Tuner flew into the sky, with Junk Warrior close behind. Turbo Synchron turned into one star, while Junk Warrior turned into five. The six stars gathered together, and the sound of a much bigger vehicle echoed over the field.

“Synchro Summon… Turbo Warrior!”

A much larger Synchro Monster landed, its headlights flashing fiercely. Like Optimus Prime before it, it resembled a cross between a robot and a mach truck, with sharp claws on its hands, its head shaped to resemble a coif of hair. Its eyes glowed bright red as it eyed the huge Dragon. (2,500 ATK)

“Heh…” said Takasu. “Okay… I’ll admit you had me worried there for a minute… But if you attack with that guy, our Monsters will kill each other.”

“Guess again,” said Shichiro. “Turbo Warrior, attack with Accel Slash!”

Turbo Warrior bore its claws, and its headlights glowed even brighter. Iron Chain Dragon roared, and its Attack Score fell to 1,250.

“My Dragon!” screamed Takasu. “What’s happening to it?”

“When Turbo Warrior battles another Synchro Monster,” explained Shichiro, “that Monster loses half its Attack Score.”

Takasu started to sweat…

Turbo Warrior skidded up to Iron Chain Dragon, and made a savage swipe with its claw. The Dragon roared in pain, and then burst into shards.



(S: 2,500) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 1,350)


“Why don’t you just give up Takasu?” asked Shichiro. “You have no cards in your hand, you can’t draw next turn, and it will be no problem for my Turbo Warrior to defeat your Gardna.”

“Then I pass for this turn,” said Takasu. “But my Gardna ain’t as easy to defeat as you think it is. Turbo Warrior can’t beat it!”

“What do you mean?” asked Shichiro. “His Attack Score is 600 points higher than its Defense Score.”

“But you can’t take it out in one blow,” replied Takasu. “Iron Chain Gardna can resist one attack per round. So just try to get by it!”

Shichiro drew a card.

“I play Card Destruction!” he exclaimed, playing a Spell Card. “Now, I’ll get rid of these…”

He discarded the six cards in his hand.

“…and draw six replacements…”

He made six draws.

“HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!” laughed Takasu. “Look at you! You’d have to be desperate to make a move like that! That leaves you with only five cards left in your deck!”

Shichiro looked at the six cards.

“Doesn’t matter,” he replied. “Watch me tear that wall down…

“I play… De-Synchro! This lets me break Turbo Warrior up into the two Monsters I used to Synchro Summon it.”

Turbo Warrior split into six stars again, and the they formed into Junk Warrior (2,300 ATK) and Turbo Synchron (100 ATK)

“Huh?” said Takasu.

“Next, I’ll summon my own ironclad Warrior,” continued Shichiro. “Meet Gearfried the Iron Knight!”

A new Warrior leapt onto the field, one clad head to toe in black, metal armor, with two blades on his arms. (1,800 ATK)

“Still can’t do the job,” said Takasu.

“Turbo Synchron,” said Shichiro, “attack Iron Chain Gardna!”

“HUH?” said Takasu.

To his incredible surprise, the much smaller Monster leapt at Iron Chain Gardna, and slammed its fist against its shield.



(S: 700) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 1,350)


“What’s the matter, can’t add?” asked Takasu, with a frown. “My Monster is much too strong for that shrimp.”

“True,” said Shichiro. “But now Turbo Synchron’s effect activates, letting me Special Summon a Monster from my hand, with an Attack Score up to the amount of damage I just took.

“Like Command Knight!”

In a burst of flame, Command Knight leapt onto the field. (1,200 ATK)

“And now that she’s here, all my Warriors gain 400 Attack Points…”

Junk Warrior rose to an Attack Score of 2,700, Gearfried rose to 2,200, and Command Knight herself rose to 1,600.

“And my Battle Phase isn’t over…”

“Aw, crap…” said Takasu.

“Gearfried, attack that Gardna!” shouted Shichiro.

Gearfried slashed with his blade against Iron Chain Gardna’s shield, smashing the shield to pieces.

“Now, Junk Warrior will finish the job…”

Junk Warrior flew at Gardna, and walloped it with its fist, blowing it to pieces.

“Command Knight… Finish him off!”

Command Knight’s sword burned with flames. Takasu screamed as she leapt at him, and he toppled over as she made a savage swipe at him with her weapon.



(S: 700) - - - - - - - - - - (T: 0)


They all looked at Takasu, who seemed to be out cold.

“I wonder if we’ll ever know what that was all about?” asked Gears.

Shichiro noticed something. The Iron Chain Dragon card was lying on the ground next to Takasu’s Duel Disk.

He slowly picked it up.

Takasu would never have noticed it, because he wasn’t Aware. But Shichiro clearly noticed the aura around the card. And it wasn’t a benign aura. It was clearly an aura of some kind of dark magic.

“Something’s wrong here…” he muttered.

He looked at Takasu.

“Takasu!” he said, slapping the thug’s face. “Wake up!”

Slowly, Takasu came to.

“Oh, my head!” he moaned. “I haven’t had a bender this bad since last New Year’s Day!”

“Takasu, listen to me!” ordered Shichiro. “Where did you get this card?”

Takasu looked at the card.

“Someone… Gave it to me…” he said.

“Who?” asked Shichiro.

“Not sure…” muttered Takasu. “Everything that’s happened lately is… a fog…”

“Retrace your steps, Takasu,” said Jinx. “What did you do since this morning?”

“First I got up and went to the bathroom…” replied Takasu.

“The important things!” urged Jinx.

“Wait…” said Takasu. “It’s becoming clearer now…

“Some guy at some bar last night gave me that card… And this morning, I felt the urge to add it to my deck and come here and challenge you… I… I don’t know why!”

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to accept gifts from strangers?” asked Ember.

“I tend to doubt that he listened to anything his mother told him,” said Shichiro. “People, a word?”

“Shouldn’t we turn this guy in?” asked Gears.

“Gears,” said Shichiro, “I’m not suggesting that Takasu was ever an innocent victim. He was a cruel and uncaring sadist for a long time. But someone was pulling his strings in this case.

“There was clearly a curse on this card.”

“DaPen?” asked Jinx.

Shichiro sighed as he looked at it.

“DaPen is a psychic,” he said, shaking his head. “The curse on this card was clearly a magical enchantment, done by a true sorcerer.”

“Maybe DaPen is both a psychic and a wizard?” replied Ember.

“Unlikely,” replied Shichiro. “Training your mind to use psionic powers and learning sorcery are two entirely separate fields, and both require incredible amounts of study and discipline. It’s very unlikely that anyone could become masters of both fields. It’s possible sure, but incredibly improbable.

“People… The most likely conclusion is, DaPen has an accomplice…”

There was silence for a minute or two.

“At least we have the Swords,” said Gears, holding up the parcels.

“And let’s get them to Soelma fast,” said Shichiro. “I don’t want any more surprises before then…”


I couldn’t shake the feeling that this so-called attack wasn’t truly an attack at all, but merely a test performed by this mysterious accomplice that we now knew existed. Perhaps he (or she, to be totally fair) was curious about us, and had sent Takasu after us as a way to gauge our abilities.

It made us nervous. We now knew that we had another potential enemy out there in addition to DaPen, and this one had not yet communicated with us in any way. When would he show himself? We’d just have to wait and see…



SOUL ANCHOR (Trap Card)

Continuous Trap

Image: A wounded warrior collapsing with a glowing anchor made of energy coming out of his chest.

Card Description: Upon activation, this card is treated as an Equip Spell that Equips to an “Iron Chain” Monster that you control that is Level 4 or less. The Equipped Monster cannot be destroyed as a result of battle. (Damage calculation still applies.)

Note: “Soul Anchor” was first used by Takasu in the “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s” episode “The Lockdown Duel (Part 1)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



IRON CHAIN GARDNA (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Warrior/Effect
Attribute: Earth
Level: 4
ATK: 200
DEF: 1,900

Card Description: This card cannot be Special Summoned. When this card is Normal Summoned successfully, move it to face-up Defense Position. Once per turn, if this card would be destroyed by battle, it is not destroyed. (Damage calculation is applied normally.)



Coming up next:

Most who study human biology believe that one difference between humans and lower animals is that humans have no natural enemies, except other humans. But the Shadowchasers know that this is not true. There is indeed a race that preyed on humans like wolves do on sheep in primeval times, and even though those ancient days are long past, this dreadful enemy is still a threat.

Coming up next, we take a trip to Dallas, Texas, where Sofia encounters a member of this race, and a high-speed chase down a highway in rush-hour traffic turns into a dangerous Turbo Duel. “Assault Mercenary” is coming soon.

Shuppet Master
11th March 2009, 01:37 PM
We're going to my home state next, squee! :D

This chapter is pretty good. I think Junk Warrior will show up more often now that Shichiro understands that not all Junk Synchrons are the same and the one which caused his friend to kill someone was not the same one as this one.

Interesting duel, and you used an anime character for it. Keep up the good work!

Dark Sage
11th March 2009, 01:40 PM
Junk Synchron was not responsible for killing anyone, Chris.

If you want to know the history of Team Satisfaction, which was what Shichiro was talking about, PM me and I'll give you the details tomorrow. Be warned though... Such information will contain spoilers about Season 2.

Shuppet Master
13th March 2009, 11:07 AM
Okay, I understand. If it's in the anime, I'll wait for CW Kids to air Season 2. I hope they do, because they're doing reruns tomorrow, I think.

Dark Sage
16th March 2009, 12:13 AM
CHAPTER TWENTY




http://www.ideal808.com/images/crms_en0231.jpg



At this time, we have to take a trip, not just over distance, but through time as well. And when you work for an international organization, you do that quite often. Because while it was now nine AM in Neo Domino, it was seven PM of the previous evening in Dallas, Texas.

Earlier in the day, a bank robbery had gone terribly wrong for the perpetrator. He didn’t know that an undercover officer was in the bank itself when he handed his hold-up note to the teller, and that the officer saw the exchange quite clearly. The officer quickly called for backup, and two uniformed officers arrived before the perpetrator could leave the bank. Unfortunately, the crook’s claim that he had a gun was not a bluff, and he panicked, and used it in an attempt to get away. An officer now owed his life to the Kevlar vest he had been wearing.

The gunman hadn’t gotten far. He was now in an office building, where he had grabbed a young secretary to use as a hostage… And now, a far more experienced officer had him cornered…

Of course, when this was happening, I was back in training…



Neo Domino.

It was now ten AM. Gears had brought the two new Swords to Soelma, and Ember and Jinx were back in the lower level of the townhouse. It was time for more training.

This time, Jinx was training Ember on adjusting to calisthenics exercises, something that she stressed was important both for physical and mental health. For those who didn’t know, there were seven such exercises: sit ups, crunches, push ups, pull ups, squats, calf-raises, and dips.

So far, the sit ups and crunches had gone smoothly. But Ember was becoming a little fatigued going into the push ups.

“Come on, Ember,” said Jinx. “It may hurt now, but once you get past the pain, it will just get easier.”

Ember panted for breath as she paused.

“You know,” said Jinx, “if we were in the army, I would probably be sitting on your back. You have it easy.”

“Lucky… me…” groaned Ember.

“Enough, Kaede,” said Jalal’s voice as he suddenly appeared. “Give young Michiko a break for now.”

Jinx was startled by Jalal’s sudden appearance, but Ember was too tired to be startled. She stood up, with sweat running down her face.

“You heard the boss,” said Jinx. “Why don’t you go up and grab a Gatorade?”

Ember nodded, and headed for the stairs.

“So, what’s up?” asked Jinx.

“More concerning your student, Kaede,” said Jalal. “Her second test has come to me.”

“Already?” asked Jinx. “It isn’t natural for an apprentice to progress this fast.”

“I know,” said Jalal, handing her a card. “Michiko is a very unusual case.”

Jinx looked at the card.

“Heavy Slump?!” she shouted. “That’s even harder than Broken Bamboo Sword!”

“I know,” muttered Jalal. “But there’s something about her…”

He handed Jinx something else.

“Give her this too. I believe she is ready and can handle it responsibly.”

“I hope she can…” said Jinx.



* * * * * * * * * *


Dallas…

Travis Quimby looked the gunman in the eye.

Contrary to the gunman, who was a nervous wreck, or his young partner who was watching his back and was rather nervous as well, he was still calm, at least on the outside. The forty-one-year old veteran knew that keeping your cool in this sort of situation was crucial. It could mean the difference between life and death, both your own, and more importantly, that of anyone who got in the way.

The gunman was holding the poor woman in a lock with one arm, and had a gun pointed at her with the other. She was clearly frightened out of her mind. Travis and his partner were only fifteen feet away, and had their guns pointed at him.

“I mean it!” shouted the gunman. “Stay away! I’ll do it, I swear!”

“Oh, you will, will you?” asked Travis. “Let me ask you something, what will happen if you do? What would protect you then? I’m licensed to carry this gun, and I’ve received training in using it for years. I don’t think I’d miss you from this distance.”

The gunman grit his teeth.

“You won’t shoot me…” he panted.

“Oh, I won’t?” asked Travis. “You know how expensive it is for the state to try, convict, and incarcerate scum like you? If I did shoot you, I’d be saving a lot of people a great deal of time and a pretty large fortune. You really don’t want to give me a reason to do it. So just let the woman go.”

Sweat poured down the gunman’s face.

Then he suddenly aimed the gun away from the woman, and pointed it at Travis.

Unfortunately for him, that was the worst mistake he could have made, and was exactly what Travis wanted him to do. Before he could even get a fix on the lawman, Travis’s foot slammed into his hand, kicking the weapon away. In the next instant, a fist slammed into the felon’s face, and he was wrenched away from his hostage by Travis’s partner.

As the younger officer hurried the poor woman to safety, Travis held the criminal down and handcuffed him. He sighed in relief.



* * * * * * * * * *


Ten minutes later, Travis was leaning against a police car outside, sipping coffee from a thermos, as officers secured the scene, medics attended to the victim, and the suspect was processed. He had actually been more nervous than he had let on. But he knew how to deal with a situation like that without showing nerves. He wasn’t the typical cop, as evidenced by his uniform. He was someone who handled the hard stuff.

Travis was a proud member of the Texas Rangers, an elite division of the Texas Department of Public Safety that could trace its origins back to a time before Texas was part of the United States. These were not police officers who issued traffic tickets. They handled crimes as serious as murder and political corruption, worked as riot police and detectives, protected the governor of Texas, tracked down fugitives, and at certain parts of their history, functioned as a paramilitary force when the need was great enough.

Travis had been a member of the Rangers for half his life. And during that time, he had made allies in the Shadowchasers. He wasn’t Aware himself; rather, he was Sensitive, and got a “funny feeling” when he was around the Shadowkind that Awares could see plainly. It was enough for him to help them whenever he could.

“Yeah,” he said to a college next to him. “I dunno, fish ‘n chips, maybe?”

As he said this, Sofia drove up through the crowd of squad cars on her D-Wheel.

“Hey, Travis!” she said, taking off her helmet. “I guess it’s true what they say about the Texas Rangers… They always get their man.”

“Truthfully, that’s the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,” replied Travis with a grin, “but we try our best.”

“Any luck with what I asked you to look into?” asked Sofia.

“Well, I called in a few favors…” said Travis.

Then a black, expensive-looking car pulled into the parking lot.

“Speak of the devil…” said Travis.

The car pulled to a stop, and the front door opened. A tall, thirtysomething man in a black business suit stepped out.

“Sofia, this is Phil Kline,” laughed Travis. “He’s with the U.S. Secret Service.”

“The guys that protect the President,” replied Sofia.

“Actually,” replied Phil, “the Secret Service is the division of the Department of the Treasury that handles criminal cases of counterfeiting and forgery. Protecting the President and other government officials is our secondary goal. Not many people know that.

“But anyway, we found a reference to that object you told us about…”

“The Silver Hemisphere?” asked Sofia.

“Mmm,” said Phil. “It all dates back to a case we handled about ten years ago, where a small group in Pennsylvania was forging pennies.”

“Why the heck would any idiots counterfeit pennies?” asked Travis.

“Not normal pennies,” replied Phil. “These were fake copies of 1943 copper Lincolns.”

“Wait, I heard of those,” said Sofia. “During World War II, copper was needed to manufacture munitions, so in 1943, all three mints started making an alternate penny made of steel, which looked just like the common Lincoln penny made of copper.

“But there were problems with them. They were easily mistaken for dimes. Vending machines that had magnets designed to detect slugs often mistook these cents for them. And they rusted easily, even when exposed to swear. Eventually, the design was abandoned, and most of the steel cents were collected and destroyed.”

“That’s right,” replied Phil. “The surviving steel Lincolns are worth about fifteen to fifty cents to collectors. But during the 1943 issue, a few copper pennies were made by accident, and these are now considered minting errors, which are incredibly rare, worth hundreds of dollars.

“Ten years ago, this group of five forgers started to make fake ones that seemed authentic. A common fraud with people making these is to take a 1948 penny and cut the 8 in half so it looks like a 3. These guys made copies that were far more advanced.”

“So, what does this have to do with the Silver Hemisphere?” asked Sofia.

“Well, we found a reference to something similar in their communications notes with a coin collector from Prague whom we never located. Apparently they were going to get it from someone in Europe as part of some sort of bargain, but the deal was never made…”

As Sofia and Travis were speaking to Phil, they had little idea of the danger on the top of the three-story building across the street.

Perched on the roof was a man who looked mostly human, although an Aware would immediately notice diabolically pointed ears and incredibly dark eyebrows. He had long, raven-black hair that was worn loose, and was dressed in a black shirt, vest, and trousers – pretty much all black.

He opened a special case at his feet, and started assembling something. It took him only five minutes to put it together – a Steyr AUG 5.56mm assault rifle with a laser sight.

He deftly aimed it at Travis, aiming it right for his forehead.

“Goodbye, Sergeant Quimby,” he whispered.

Travis was saved only by a split-second action by Sofia, due in part to reflexes enhanced by supernatural techniques that she had learned in her years in the Shadowchasers. She saw the laser sight appear on Travis’s hat, and realized what it was. Even so, she only had a split second to react to it. She used that split second to make a flying tackle that knocked him out of the path of the shot.

Naturally, once the shot had fired, everyone turned to see where it had come from.

“Who…” said Phil, still in shock from the sudden attack.

“Crud…” muttered the would-be assassin.

What happened next surprised everyone. The assassin leapt off the building, landing on his feet three stories below like a cat. Apparently not even shaken by the jump, he dashed to a waiting motorcycle, and jumped on, starting it up before he was even seated.

“That guy isn’t human!” gasped Phil.

No… thought Sofia. Not human at all…

By this time, all the officers present (except for Travis, who was still getting up) had drawn their weapons, and were shouting for the gunman to freeze, but he simply drove straight towards them. They fired, but he didn’t seem to care. His bike was made of strong material, and even if he hadn’t been wearing a vest himself, he was very hard to hurt. The officers were forced to dive aside as he drove past them, away from the group of squad cars.

But while Travis was getting to his feet and the others were calling for assistance, Sofia was gone. She was already following the Shadow, who she recognized as one of the most dangerous races there was. He was a vampyre – not vampire, but vampyre, with a Y.

She knew that this was one criminal she simply could not let get away. Vampyres were the nemesis of humanity.

Of all the races of Shadowkind that troubled the Shadowchasers, few were ever as troublesome as vampyres. They had rejected the Treaty from the day it was first signed – accepting it would have defied their inherent nature.

Vampyres resembled the more well-known vampires, but unlike them, they were living creatures, not undead. In ancient times on the world where Shadows came from, vampyres were predators who filled the same ecological niche as wolves and similar beasts, except that their prey was humans. As humans became civilized, the need for them was done away with. But the vampyres did not accept it, and still preyed on humans, regarding them as lambs to be slaughtered. They did so in hiding, but if humans had a natural enemy, they filled this role.

Whenever vampyres were brought to Earth, they adapted, as any Shadowkind did. They assumed any position they could that would allow them to strike at humans. Most became assassins, hiring themselves out to other Shadows who wanted Mundanes done away with. Thus, they were able to act in accordance to their nature, and make a profit as well.

Naturally, the Shadowchasers could not let them roam free. It might have been possible to give vampyres the benefit of the doubt and say that they couldn’t go against their natural impulses, but clearly, they didn’t just kill humans, they enjoyed doing so. Like serial killers, they were often selective about their methods and their choices of victims, and often took souvenirs of their kills. There were many rumors among the Shadowchasers that several unsolved serial killer cases throughout the centuries, such as the case of Jack the Ripper, and much later, the Zodiac Killer, may have involved a vampyre.

The vampyres were labeled an outlaw race centuries ago, which meant that all members were to be arrested on sight. What made the vampyres different from any other race that had been given that label was, it had lasted centuries without being lifted. The vampyres had never agreed to any terms that would remove it. They would all rather live as fugitives than consider making peace with humans.

Sofia followed him at high speed, noticing that he wasn’t even wearing a helmet, despite the great speed that his D-Wheel (for D-Wheel it was) was going. Then she saw where he was heading – off the ramp for the Garland Road exit, onto eastbound Interstate 635.

Sofia had no choice but to follow him. The highway could take him clear out of the county before anyone else got a bead on him. And vampyres could do more damage in this situation than even most high-speed chases could. If the police gave chase now, he could start an accident on purpose and cause a disaster. She was the only one who could bring him down at this point, and she’d have to do it before the authorities got here.

The two motorcycles sped onto the highway, merging with the fast-moving commuters of the evening rush hour, with the Shadow in the lead. As Sofia tried to think of a way to stop him, the vampyre’s face appeared on her screen.

“Greetings!” he said. “Sofia, was it? I’m Dmitri… So nice to see someone I have so much in common with.”

Sofia was more than a little nervous when she saw him, with the smile on his face. His canine teeth were slightly longer and more pointed than a human’s, much like those of the traditional vampire. (Oddly enough, true vampires were said to have despised members of this race for some reason, most likely because several crimes committed by vampyres were mistakenly blamed on vampires.)

“We don’t have anything in common,” growled Sofia. “You’re just a killer.”

“I beg to differ!” replied Dmitri. “I’m a professional, just like you.”

“Fine,” replied Sofia. “You’re a professional killer. That makes you a hit man. A thug for hire.”

“You make it sound so common,” replied Dmitri. “I’m just someone who has a job to do. Sure, my job is a hired gun, but that’s what I happen to be good at doing.”

“Don’t try to BS a BSer,” replied Sofia. “You guys live to kill humans. You eat, sleep, and breathe the destruction of humans.”

“Maybe so…” replied Dmitri. “But it can’t be like it was in the old days… We have to have purpose now. We have to make a living. We can’t just kill and gorge ourselves on humanity at random.”

“So you hire yourselves out as assassins,” said Sofia. “If you ask me, that’s worse. You’re taking money for something you would gladly do for free.”

“Maybe so,” said Dmitri. “And I suppose you want to end my wicked ways and bring me to justice. Well, you’ll have to catch me first…

“And if I have to defeat you to get you off my tail, then I’ll do it…”

A light flashed on Sofia’s console. An indication that a challenge had been made.

“You want to duel in the middle of Interstate 635?!” shouted Sofia.

“That’s right!” laughed Dmitri. “Of course, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Dueling is one thing that folks like me like to play for keeps. And since my intended victim escaped because of you, you can imagine who just drew the short straw.”

He’s nuts! thought Sofia.

She hit a command on her console.

And the worst part is, I must be some brand of cashew myself! Because this may be the only way I can stop him from causing a ten-car collision when the police catch up…

I just hope we don’t cause one with the duel anyway…

The Speed World card flashed onto her screen.

“Duel mode engaged,” said the D-Wheel.

In a huge burst of energy, the highway morphed into the silvery void of Speed World.

“I see you’ve accepted,” laughed Dmitri. “Well, hang on tight… Next exit: food, phone, gas, lodging, and certain doom!”



(Sofia: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Dmitri: 8,000)


“Very funny,” said Sofia, making her first draw.

She threw a card on her console.

“I summon Twin-Headed Behemoth!”

A portal behind her opened, and a large Dragon with wings and two reptilian heads flew out. (1,500 ATK)

“That’s all for now.”

“Not bad,” chuckled Dmitri, making a draw.

Both Speed Counters clicked up to one.

“I summon Snipe Hunter!”

Another portal opened, and a new Monster flew out. It was a nasty-looking imp with black skin, a bald head, and small wings, holding what looked like a toy gun with a roulette wheel on the top. (1,500 ATK)

“Now I’m activating its effect, which I can do by tossing one card.”

He threw one card into his discard slot.

“And by the way, since that card I just tossed was Ojamagic, I get to take my three Ojamas from my deck.”

Three cards appeared in his hand.

“All right Snipe Hunter, take aim at Twin-Headed Behemoth!”

Snipe Hunter aimed its pistol, and gave the roulette wheel a spin. It slowed, and then landed on the four.

“Perfect,” chuckled Dmitri.

A blast of energy fired from the weapon, vaporizing the Dragon.

“And I’m not done with you,” he laughed. “Direct attack!”

Snipe Hunter fired its weapon again, and Sofia groaned as it slammed into her bike. Her Counters fell to zero again.

“I set one card, and end my turn,” chuckled Dmitri, as a facedown card appeared, and then faded from view.

“And that means Behemoth’s effect activates!” replied Sofia. “If it’s destroyed, it makes a quick recovery.”

The portal opened again, and Twin-Headed Behemoth flew out. (1,000 ATK)

“That’s not good…” muttered Dmitri.



(S: 6,500) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 8,000)


“My move,” said Sofia, drawing a card.

Her Speed Counters rose to one, while his rose to two.

“I summon Sonic Duck!” she shouted.

The portal opened again, and a large creature ran out, and started to run beside her bike. It was a duck the size of a horse, with green feathers, a scarf around its neck, and a pail on its head. (1,700 ATK)

“Attack!” she shouted. “Destroy Snipe Hunter with supersonic dash attack!”

Sonic Duck quacked, and ran forward, weaving in-between the cars as it did, hopping onto the roof of one of them, and then making a beeline for the Fiend. It rammed its beak into Snipe Hunter, and the imp spun away before exploding into pixels.

“Now, my Behemoth attacks directly!” she shouted.

Twin-Headed Behemoth blasted twin beams of frost from its two jaws, and Dmitri shivered as they hit him. His Speed Counters fell down to one.

“Gonna take more than that to bring me down!” he snarled.

“I set a card of my own,” said Sofia, as a facedown card appeared, “and then it’s your move…”



(S: 6,500) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 6,800)


Dmitri drew a card. Both Speed Counters rose to two.

“Just what I needed,” he said. “I summon my Twin-Barrel Dragon!”

A portal behind him opened, and a new Monster flew out. A Machine used by Jinx several times, it resembled a cross between a two-legged dog and a Gatling gun. (1,700 ATK)

“What do you think?” he said. “If I’m lucky, I can kill two birds with one stone. Or rather, a bird and a Dragon.”

Two bursts of light shot out of his D-Wheel, and then turned into two coins, spinning on the highway. One of them stopped, heads. Then the other one stopped, tails.

“So close!” said Sofia. “You need two heads to use its effect.”

“I still have its regular attack!” cursed Dmitri. “Attack her Behemoth!”

Twin-Barrel Dragon’s nozzle glowed.

“I activate… Negate Attack!” shouted Sofia.

Her Trap Card shot up, and the blast was halted by an invisible shield.

“Not bad,” said Dmitri. “I’ll set another card facedown, and that will end my turn…”

A second facedown card appeared next to his other one.

Sofia made a draw, and both Speed Counters rose to three.

Two facedown cards, she thought, looking at her screen. Well, they won’t matter in a minute…

“I summon Shaman of Mist Valley!” she shouted.

The portal opened, and the oddly dressed, female Winged Beast flew out. (1,200 ATK)

“Now, I Tune all three of my Monsters together!”

Twin-Headed Behemoth, Sonic Duck, and Shaman of Mist Valley all flew into the sky, and split into nine glowing stars.

“You think some Synchro Monster can scare me?” shouted Dmitri.

“We’ll see if it scares you once it shows up,” said Sofia, with a grin.

Mist Wurm slowly started to materialize, flying over the highway, even bigger than the bus that was behind the two duelists. It let out a loud roar.

“Nope, it still doesn’t scare me,” replied Dmitri. “Know why? Because I’ve got THIS!

“Trap Card activate! Discord Counter!”

One of his facedown cards lifted up.

“Discord Counter?” shouted Sofia. “That’s an illegal card!”

And it was an illegal card, at least for civilians. That Trap Card was part of a Special Pursuit Deck used by Duel Chasers, special law enforcement agents trained to apprehend criminals who used D-Wheels illegally. They were the only ones who were allowed to use it.

“And I really should thank the Duel Chaser I got it from,” chuckled Dmitri. “That is, if he ever gets out of the hospital.”

Mist Wurm vanished into particles of light. Then, Sonic Duck appeared in front of Sofia in Attack Mode (1,700 ATK), Twin-Headed Behemoth appeared in Defense Mode (1,200 ATK) and Shaman of Mist Valley appeared in Defense Mode (1,200 DEF).

“I hope those three Monsters are enough for you,” chuckled Dmitri. “Because you aren’t allowed to summon any more of them until you finish two End Phases.”

His other facedown card might be something even worse, thought Sofia.

She signaled to end her turn.

Dmitri drew, and both Speed Counters rose to four.

“I summon Pursuit Chaser!” he shouted.

A siren sounded over the field and a new Machine appeared. It looked like a miniature cockpit with a siren on top, and two robotic arms. (1,400 ATK)

“I’m beginning to see a trend here,” said Sofia. “Your deck is full of things with guns.”

“And is that bad?” asked Dmitri. “Wipe out her Shaman!”

Pursuit Chaser fired twin blasts of plasma from its arms, and Shaman of Mist Valley was vaporized.

“And guess what?” continued Dmitri. “Since she was in Defense Mode, you lose 500 Life Points.

“And I’m not done…”

Twin-Barrel Dragon fired a blast, blowing Twin-Headed Behemoth to shards.

“Heh, heh,” he chuckled. “Your move…”



(S: 6,000) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 6,800)


Sofia drew, and both Speed Counters rose to five. They were both above the speed limit now, and were passing the other cars with ease. Of course, Sofia doubted that her opponent cared about highway laws.

“Your side is looking a little empty,” chuckled Dmitri. “Why don’t you summon something?

“Oh, that’s right… You can’t!”

Sofia grit her teeth in anger.

“Sonic Duck…” she shouted. “Take out his Pursuit Chaser!”

Sonic Duck rushed at the small drone…

“I activate… Prideful Roar!” exclaimed Dmitri, as his facedown card shot up. “Now, I only have to pay 300 Life Points, and my Monster’s Attack Points become 300 more than yours!”

Pursuit Chaser shot up to an Attack Score of 2,000, and it blasted its guns, blowing Sonic Duck into an explosion of feathers.

“Ergh…” muttered Sofia.

She took a card from her hand, and set it on her console. A facedown card appeared.



(S: 5,700) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 6,500)


“Heh, so what more could you do?” chuckled Dmitri, drawing a card.

Both Speed Counters rose to six.

“Twin-Barrel Dragon, attack directly!”

The Machine prepared to fire.

Then Sofia’s facedown card lifted.

“Huh?” said Dmitri. “Attack Guidance Armor?”

Then a fiendish-looking breastplate flew forward, and clamped around Pursuit Chaser. Twin-Barrel Dragon looked confused for a minute… Then it turned, and fired at Pursuit Chaser, blowing it to pieces.

“Nice shooting, Tex!” laughed Sofia. “You just hit your own Monster!”

“Oh, har-har and ho-ho,” replied Dmitri. “Laugh while you can.”

“I will,” said Sofia. “I believe it’s my move…”

She drew a card, and both Speed Counters rose to seven.

Playing this Spell will be risky, she thought, looking at it. I’ll have to put faith in the assumption that his urge to claim a victim right now is greater than his desire to escape.

“I play Speed Spell – Shift Down,” she said.

As she played the card, her bike started to slow down dramatically. Her Speed Counters took a dive, falling to only one.

“Now, I get to draw two cards.”

Dmitri chuckled, and shifted gears as he watched her from ahead.

“All right, pal,” she said. “I’m removing Sonic Duck from play, to Special Summon Silpheed!”

In a whirlwind of energy, the white-suited Fairy carrying a scepter appeared in front of her. (1,700 ATK)

“Next,” she said, “I’m discarding one card…”

She discarded Harpie’s Brother.

“…to Special Summon The Tricky.”

The portal opened again, and the weird Spellcaster in the harlequin costume with a question mark on his mask flew out. (2,000 ATK)

“And I’m not done! I sacrifice Silpheed…”

Silpheed vanished into grains of light.

“…to summon Roc from the Valley of Haze!”

In a tremendous windstorm, a huge bird of prey resembling a golden eagle appeared, flying over Sofia’s bike. (2,400 ATK)

“That’s not good…” muttered Dmitri.

“Tricky…” said Sofia, “attack Twinbarrel Dragon with trick illusion!”

The Tricky gestured, and shot a blast of multicolored lights from his fingertips. The Machine sparked and exploded.

“Now my Roc attacks directly!” she shouted.

The Roc from the Valley of Haze beat its wings, conjuring up a small cyclone. Dmitri held onto his bike as he was buffeted by the gale, and his D-Wheel shook. His Speed Counters fell to five.



(S: 5,700) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 3,800)


“All right…” he said. “Now you’ve officially made me mad…”

He shifted gears again, and drove forward. Sofia saw that he was driving straight towards the back of a very large rig truck…

Then, he gave his shift a yank, and flames shot out of his engine like it was a rocket. The D-Wheel was propelled into the air, making a four-point landing on top of the rig.

He’s crazy! thought Sofia.

Dmitri skidded to a stop, as Sofia drove beside the rig. He looked down at her.

“Are you out of your mind?” she shouted.

“Naw,” shouted Dmitri. “I save fuel this way! And better yet, I have the high ground!”

He drew a card, and his own Speed Counters clicked up to six. Sofia’s went up to two.

“You might remember how I discarded Ojamagic to use Snipe Hunter’s effect,” he said. “Well, I still have those three Ojamas, and now I can use them. I play Speed Spell – Speed Fusion.”

The Spell Card appeared, and the three Ojamas leapt onto the highway in front of Sofia. All three of them blew raspberries at her.

“I’ll combine my three Ojamas…”

The three Monsters faded into a yellow, green, and black swirl.

“…to Fusion Summon Ojama King!”

In an explosion of energy, a huge creature with a body shaped like a big balloon, with eyes on stalks, dressed in a small cape, shorts, and a crown, appeared behind his bike. (3,000 DEF)

“Not only does it have 3,000 Defense Points,” he said, “but it can designate three of the spaces on your Monster Zone as occupied.”

Sofia was surprised to see a little Ojama King appear on her dashboard with a black magic marker. It quickly drew a big “X” on each of her unoccupied slots on her Monster Zone, then giggled, and disappeared.

“I set a facedown,” he said, as a facedown card appeared. “And I end my turn…”

Sofia drew a card. Her Speed Counters rose to three, while his rose to seven.

The card she had drawn was Garuda the Wind Spirit.

Terrific… she thought.

“Pass,” she said.

“Suit yourself…” said Dmitri, drawing a card.

His Speed Counters rose to eight, while hers rose to four.

And then he laughed out loud.

“Time to bring out my ultimate weapon!” he laughed. “I play a second Speed Fusion!”

“I don’t like this…” muttered Sofia.

“I’ll combine Barrel Dragon with Blowback Dragon,” said Dmitri, as two large Machines appeared on the field.

In an explosion, a giant Machine with an armored hull and three flexible cannon heads topped with machine gun barrels appeared in front of her.

“Meet my incredible Gatling Dragon!” laughed Dmitri.

(2,600 ATK)

Then three flashes of light shot out of his bike. They fell to the pavement, and formed into spinning coins.

They all stopped. Heads, tails, and heads.

“Two heads!” he laughed. “And that means it can destroy two Monsters!”

Gatling Dragon’s guns ignited and shot three burning blasts of hot lead, and both The Tricky and Roc were blown apart.

“And I’m not done with you!” he laughed.

Gatling Dragon fired three bursts of shells, and Sofia screamed as they ripped through her. Her Speed Counters were cut in half, down to two.



(S: 3,100) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 3,800)


“Now I activate my Trap,” said Dmitri, as his facedown card lifted up. “It’s called Summon Limit. And so long as it’s on the field, neither player can summon more than two Monsters per round.

“Get the picture yet?”

“Pardon?” asked Sofia.

“Your Mist Wurm is out of commission,” laughed Dmitri. “You need three Monsters on the field to summon it, which is impossible due to my Ojama King.

“But even if you get rid of him, my Trap Card assures that you can only summon two Monsters per turn. And my Gatling Dragon won’t let you keep them long enough to summon a third.

“Face it… Your ace Monster won’t be showing up, and you can’t defeat me!”

Sofia ignored him, and drew a card. Her Speed Counters rose to three, while his rose to nine.

That’s the dumbest strategy I’ve ever heard, she thought.

“I remove Harpie’s Brother from play,” she said, “to summon Garuda the Wind Spirit in Defense Mode.”

In a burst of wind, Garuda flew onto the field. It shielded itself with its wings. (1,200 DEF)

“That’s all.”

Dmitri drew a card. His Counters clicked up a notch to ten, and hers to four.

He looked at the card. It was Speed Spell – Summon Speeder.

Crud! he thought, looking at it. I can’t use this right now… And I have no Monsters to summon!

He looked at the field.

Gatling Dragon has a big Achilles heel… If I use its effect, it must destroy as many Monsters as it can. That means if I get two heads, I’ll destroy Ojama King… And if I get three, I’ll destroy both Ojama King and Gatling Dragon itself!

Better not risk it… I’ll just attack…

“Gatling Dragon, wax her Monster!”

The huge Machine fired its cannons, and Garuda was blown to shards.

Sofia paused. She looked at her deck.

“My move…” she said.

She drew a card. Her Speed Counters rose to five.

“You made a fatal mistake, buddy,” she said. “You designed your whole strategy thinking that mine depended entirely on Mist Wurm. Well, only a foolish duelist bases her entire deck on one powerful card. As you’re about to find out, Mist Wurm isn’t the only powerful Monster in my deck, and I don’t need it to beat you.

“I play Speed Spell – Summon Speeder! Now, I get to Special Summon a Level 4 or lower Monster from my hand.”

The portal opened, and a new Monster flew out of it. It looked like a young boy with delicate features, dressed in a leather jerkin and pants. (1,500 ATK)

“That’s Whirlwind Prodigy!” shouted Dmitri.

“So, you’ve heard of him?” asked Sofia. “Then I guess you know that if I sacrifice him to summon a Wind Monster, he can count as two sacrifices.

“So I sacrifice him…”

Whirlwind Prodigy vanished.

Then lightning flashed over the highway.

“I summon…” shouted Sofia. “Simorgh, Bird of Ancestry!”

Lightning flashed again, and a huge bird appeared over the highway, one that was twice as big as the huge rig that Dmitri was perched on. It resembled the more familiar Simorgh, Bird of Divinity at first glance, but it had four wings instead of two, two big ones and two smaller ones, and its feathers were seemingly made of gold. It let out a majestic screech as it soared over the Interstate. (2,900 ATK)

“Holy…” muttered Dmitri.

“But wait,” said Sofia. “There’s more! Since I summoned it by only sacrificing Wind Monsters, I can send two cards back to your hand! So say goodbye to your two Monsters!”

Simorgh beat its huge wings, and both Ojama King and Gatling Dragon struggled against the virtual hurricane that it caused. Eventually, it was two much for them, and they were both swept up into the air, vanishing into a dark void.

“I’m not done yet!” shouted Dmitri. “You may attack, but I’ll still have Life Points left!”

“I don’t think so,” said Sofia, playing the last card in her hand.

A Speed Spell appeared in front of her.

“With my Speed Counters at five, I can activate Silver Contrail. This gives a Wind Monster a little more wind beneath its wings. 1,000 Attack Points more, to be precise.”

The storm grew even more intense, and Simorgh let out a great cry… (3,900 ATK)

“Ooh… nuts!” screamed Dmitri.

Then he started up his D-Wheel, and rocketed right off the rig, landing on the pavement and driving full speed forward. But the huge Winged Beast gave chase. The vampyre finally screamed as the powerful storm surrounded him, and the stinging winds buffeted him from all directions.



(S: 3,100) - - - - - - - - - - (D: 0)


Then Dmitri noticed that losing the duel was the least of his troubles. His engine was on fire. It clearly had been damaged from that reckless leap off of the truck. And he was losing control.

He tried to steer, but he couldn’t. Unable to control his D-Wheel, he barreled off the road, onto a side street. He leapt off at the last moment, just as the vehicle crashed, and went up in flames.

The would-be assassin mentally checked every part of his body. No broken bones, apparently. His ankle was sprained, and he was bruised in quite a few places.

But, as one wise human had once said, and even he acknowledged that there were wise humans, any landing that you could walk away from was a good one.

He slowly got up…

…and then Sofia grabbed him by the collar.

This was not a good landing after all.

“Uh… hi?” he gulped.

“Do you know how many felonies you committed?” snarled Sofia. “Forget the attempted murder charge… You put the entire rush hour commute in danger tonight with that overt attempt at showing off!

“Why??”

“Uhm…” said Dmitri. “I crave attention?”

Sofia shook him hard.

“If I wasn’t bound by the Treaty,” she said, “I’d happily hand you over to the Texas Rangers and let you face human justice.”

She lifted the gemstone.

“Fortunately for you, I’m just the officer. As tempted as I am, it isn’t my job to judge.”



* * * * * * * * * *



Neo Domino.

Jinx was sitting at a table in the exercise room, looking at the Heavy Slump card, as Ember came in with a half-finished bottle of the sports drink.

“Boy, this stuff really works,” she said. “Well, I’m ready to start again…”

“Nope,” said Jinx, handing her the card. “You have something else to work on…”

“What’s this?” asked Ember.

“Your second test,” said Jinx. “Heavy Slump.

“Simply put, it works as follows. The next time you duel for us, your deck has to have the maximum number of cards allowed in it. Sixty. And you have to win with it.”

“Say WHAT?” shouted Ember. “That’s crazy!”

“Tell me about it,” said Jinx. “Jalal is a psycho. And if you tell him I said that, I’ll deny it. But you’re gonna have to do your best to do it, Ember. Jalal never changes a test.”

Ember sighed, and sat at the table, putting her head on her hands.

“This may help,” said Jinx, giving her another card.

Ember looked at it. It was a check card. One with her name on it, tied to an account at a bank called The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

“Uh…” said Ember. “I don’t… I don’t have an account at this bank…”

“It’s the bank in Great Britain where most of Jalal’s assets are kept, Ember,” replied Jinx. “Shadowchasers are allowed to withdraw from it, within reason. Jalal told me to give you that card.

“So use it for necessities, use it for cards, use it for lunches… If you see something nice that you want every now and then, that’s okay too.

“But one warning, Ember. Jalal has a small army of accountants monitoring his funds. And while it takes a lot to get Jalal angry, the rare times in the past where he has actually gotten angry have been the stuff of legends.”

“I see…” said Ember, nervously.

“Write down the number on the back so you can call if it’s lost or stolen,” ordered Jinx.

“I’ll guard it with my life,” replied Ember.

And in the meantime, she thought. Sixty cards? How on earth am I gonna do that?



By this time, I had lost about ten pounds of old baby fat, and had gained ten pounds of muscle to replace it. With each passing day, my transformation from a meek secretary to a true warrior was progressing at an exceptional rate.

It was funny… Hebi-Na had tried to kill me. On one hand, I wanted her to rot in jail. But on the other, she had fully awakened my sight and started me on this path. Maybe I owed her one, and felt like thanking her. I would later find out that I couldn’t have at that point – ophidia communities were under strict sanctions due to something that happened a few years ago, and combined with the severity of her crime, it was unlikely that anyone except her lawyer could visit her.

A lot of thoughts and possibilities were going through my mind at this point. What would I tell my parents? As far as I knew, they weren’t Aware, and they’d eventually want to know about this new position I had taken. I hadn’t even formerly quit my job as Mr. Draco’s secretary; I was technically still on vacation, and I had a few days left.

I did know, however, that I would likely have to make a decision on that regard sooner or later. Probably sooner.



DISCORD COUNTER (Trap Card)

Counter Trap

Image: Tune Warrior and Silent Swordsman LV5 standing side by side while Colossal Fighter vanishes above them.

Card Description: Activate when your opponent Synchro Summons a Monster. Negate the summoning and send the Synchro Monster back to your opponent’s Extra Deck. Then, if the Monsters used for the Synchro Summoning are in your opponent’s Graveyard, Special Summon them to your opponent’s side of the field (your opponent chooses the battle positions). Your opponent cannot Normal Summon, Flip-Summon, or Special Summon a Monster until the end of his End Phase after his next turn.

Note: “Discord Counter” was first used by Ushio the “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s” episode “The Take-Back (Part 1)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



ATTACK GUIDANCE ARMOR (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: A man wearing steel armor shaped like a demonic face, glowing with energy.

Card Description: Activate this card when your opponent declares an attack. Change the target of the attack to a Monster on the field other than the attack target or the attacking Monster.

Note: “Attack Guidance Armor” was used by Kaiba several times in the anime, originally in “Back to Battle City (Part Two)”.



SPEED SPELL – SILVER CONTRAIL (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: A pilot outside a hanger holding a helmet under his arm and looking at the sun.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 5 or more Speed Counters. Select 1 WIND Monster you control. Increase the selected Monster’s ATK by 1,000 until the End Phase of the turn.

Note: “Speed Spell – Silver Contrail” was first used by Yusei the “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s” episode “A Blast From The Past (Part 2)”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



SPEED SPELL – SUMMON SPEEDER

Normal Spell

Image: Dunames Dark Witch surrounded by the energy of Speed World.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 4 or more Speed Counters. Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Monster from your hand.

Note: “Speed Spell – Summon Speeder” was first used by both Yusei and Mukuro in the “Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s” episode “Surprise, Surprise”. Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.



Coming up next:

The search for the Silver Hemisphere continues, on another continent. In London, Hank does some investigating of his own, and runs into a Shadowkind underworld tipster who claims to have the information he needs – but who won’t give it up without a challenge. There were several secrets to the Hidden Treasure Deck that Yanagi didn’t know about (not that he knew about any of them at all), and next chapter, Hank puts them all to use against a diabolical onslaught.

And once that is done, you all are probably wondering, what the heck is the deal with Jalal? What makes him tick? Next chapter, he sits down to talk with Ember, and the past of the mysterious leader of the Shadowchasers is finally revealed!

It’s all coming up in “Ancient Rules”, coming soon.

MeLoVeGhOsTs
16th March 2009, 04:36 AM
I liked the Iron Chain-deck. I liked it in the series and I'm liking it now. Good pick.
The battle was ok. The whole Junk Warrior thing seemed a bit..cliché, but the background story might be good.

The latest chapter was pretty good, although the duel itself wasn't very original, the plot is getting along and I'm very interested in seeing what Jalal's history is.

Mystic_clown
16th March 2009, 08:04 AM
I can't really say there was much with this chapter. The duel just seemed to have been thrown in simply because the stuff that actually seemed to matter just wasn't enough. It just seems like a bit of filler to me.

On another note, what the heck is a vampyre? I can't find any info on it.

60 cards aint that bad. Just allows you to add more potential strategies in.

Dark Sage
17th March 2009, 12:24 AM
Actually, MC, as far as "real" life is concerned, the word "vampyre" is an alternate spelling of "vampire" that was used by some authors around the time such stories were first becoming popular. (Bram Stokers Dracula was not the only such novel, only the most popular.) As for the Shadowkind race presented here, they were based in part on a monster from the Ravenloft Gothic horror RPG setting, which I adapted for here. There are many sources which I find new Shadowkind from, as you'll eventually see.

But anyway, keep reading.

Shuppet Master
18th March 2009, 03:13 PM
Oh, so Test #2 is having to win with a big deck! I don't think it's crazy, many good deck themes(Lightsworn, Shadow Ghoul, etc.) would love to use a sixty-card deck! I'm sure Ember will find a good deck like she did last time and win with it. I hope that she gets to use her normal deck eventually, but the tests are important to her training.

The "Hey, you can take money from our boss whenever you need it" credit card is a sweet bonus too. I'm sure if I was given that opportunity, I'd go crazy. And that is why I am glad I am not Ember, considering the warning she got. My folks are mad enough at me for wasting my social security check on video games instead of food, last thing I need is a half-dragon fuming mad at me. :D

Also, I'm much more likely to whine and (censored) if I had to exercise.

You're making this story the epic grand finale of your Yu-Gi-Oh fanfiction, Brian. Keep it up!

Dark Sage
21st March 2009, 12:20 AM
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE




http://www.ideal808.com/images/unlim-ston-en037.jpg



We now must travel through distance and time once again. When it was nine AM in Neo Domino, which was when the problem in Dallas had started, it was midnight in Great Britain.

This was where the Shadowchasers was founded, roughly a thousand years ago. Only Jalal knew the exact date, as he was the only one of the founding Shadowchasers who was still alive. The location of his father’s old lair – that had been converted into a tomb after he died – was a secret known only to him, but it was known to be in Britain somewhere. Jalal’s public manor house was located a mile outside of Liverpool – emphasis on “public”. It wasn’t his true home, but only what he used when dealing with Mundanes. Shadowchasers who went to the house quickly took one of the many portals that led to the secret vale that held Shadowchaser Headquarters, where his true manor house, as well as the courts, administrative buildings, meeting halls, and many other important buildings needed for running the organization were kept far away from Mundane eyes.

As you might expect, Great Britain had more of a concentration of Shadowchasers in it than any other industrialized country. And the country had a great deal of Shadowkind too, as you might expect from its long history. In addition to the numerous clans, Britain was thick with sites of power, where magic was particularly strong. London itself was one of the few metropolitan areas, along with Rome, Hong Kong, and New Orleans, where the mystic ley lines that crisscrossed the planet were known to intersect. Other places of power were common in Britain, such as Stonehenge and other lesser known groups of standing stones. It may have been the concentration of supernatural energy that had caused a Shadow as powerful as Jalal’s father to arrive here in the first place.

There would always be a need for Shadowchasers in Great Britain… And it would always be the place that they called home…



London.

At the stroke of midnight, the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster (often incorrectly referred to as Big Ben, which was actually the name of its largest bell) let out its low, monotonous chime over the whole city.

In a pub on the south side of the city, it was an hour to closing time. The elderly bartender was serving the few remaining customers, most of them folks who worked late and came in for a pint on the way home.

He was quick to notice when Hank walked in. Hank was a native of Britain, but business kept him from home most of the time. He was a rare sight here.

“Hank?” said the barkeep, somewhat surprised. “Heh, long time no see! What’s been keeping you?”

“Business,” replied Hank. “And I’m afraid that’s it’s business that’s brought me back home for a little while.

“Give me the usual, will you?”

The bartender filled a glass at the tap.

“Anything I can help you with?” he asked.

“Actually, yes,” replied Hank. “I’m looking for the Colonel.”

“Mmm…” said the bartender, shaking his head. “Afraid you got back about a week too late, Hank. The Colonel passed away last Monday. The doctor said he died in his sleep.”

Hank sighed.

“Poor guy,” he said. “He lived a long life, but everyone has to go sometime, I guess. So what did he do with all his money?”

“Well, he didn’t leave it to me, that’s all I know,” said the bartender with a shrug.

Hank sipped from the glass.

“No one mentioned a… Silver Hemisphere, did they?” he asked.

The bartender gave a strange look.

“Well, I think I’d know if they did,” he said. “What’s that, half a globe?”

“Long story,” sighed Hank.

Looks like this is a dead end, he thought.

“Pardon me, guvnor,” said a voice next to him.

Hank turned his head, and then looked down.

Standing next to him was a very short figure, about four feet tall. He was dressed in an old and worn jacket and pants, a wool hat, and a scarf covering the lower half of his face. Clearly, this person looked like he was concerned with catching cold, despite the fact that it was summer.

However, Hank could see his pointed ears, his olive-green skin, and his watery eyes. Combined with his short stature, it was clear that he was a goblin.

Goblins were Shadows that were related to orcs at some point in their ancestry. But while orcs were violent and warlike, goblins were sneaky and stealthy. While orcs were warriors, goblins tended to be thieves. It was very hard to ever trust one of them – any Aware who knew anything about goblins knew enough to watch his wallet whenever they were around. Goblins rarely had any loyalty at all, and most would turn in their own mothers if the reward was good enough.

“What?” asked Hank.

“You lookin’ for the Silver Hemisphere?” asked the goblin.

“Buddy, I only listen to serious claims,” replied Hank, “and I don’t fall for con games easily. I doubt you even know what the Silver Hemisphere is.”

“But I do,” replied the goblin. “It’s a silver display stand meant to hold the Regalia of Day, right?”

Hank looked at him.

“Okay, I’m listening,” he said.

“Well, maybe outside…” said the goblin. “In places like this, the walls have ears, y’know…”



* * * * * * * * * *


The street was pretty much empty at this time of night. The goblin looked back and forth.

“Look, Mr… ‘Snitch’,” started Hank.

“No ‘mister’,” replied the goblin. “Just Snitch. I just want to cut a little deal with you. I hear you’re a duelist…”

He took a Duel Disk from under his coat, and a deck.

“Okay, what do you want?” asked Hank.

“We have a friend in common,” said Snitch. “Name’s Al-Khazzir?”

“He isn’t a friend,” replied Hank.

“Whatever,” replied Snitch. “He’s in jail, you know, and I am a friend. I just want to pay him a little visit before his trial starts.”

“Then go to the detention center at Shadowchaser Headquarters and fill out a visitor’s form!” replied Hank. “It’s as simple as that.”

“Well, that’s kind of a prickly pear where I’m concerned,” said Snitch. “See, I did some time about five years ago for breaking and entering…”

“…and ex-cons can’t visit prisoners,” replied Hank. “Well, sorry, but I can’t change the rules.”

“But I can!” replied Snitch. “All I gotta do, is get a signed permission form from either the arresting officer, or the judge presiding over his trial.”

“And since I’m the arresting officer, you want it from me,” sighed Hank, putting his hand on his hip. “You realize that I can’t do that without going through the proper channels…”

“I’d ask the judge, but he’s incredibly busy,” replied Snitch. “Now look, we can do this like gentlemen if you want… I really know where this Silver Hemisphere is. And to avoid the red tape, I’ll really make this worth your while.”

“You want to duel so it counts as a wager as outlined by the Treaty,” muttered Hank. “That way, the ‘proper channels’ can be avoided.”

“But you’ll benefit either way,” replied Snitch. “You win, I’ll tell you where it is, and I’ll be on my way. If I win, you sign that form for me, and I’ll tell you where it is anyway! Win-win situation. You couldn’t ask for a better deal than that, could ya?”

Hank looked at the goblin.

He was well aware of an ancient saying that said, “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is”.

But, if this goblin truly did know where the Silver Hemisphere was…

I’ll figure it out later, he thought.

He activated his Disk.

Snitch smiled a smile that Hank did not like. He activated his own.



(Hank: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Snitch: 8,000)


Snitch grinned as he made his first draw.

Perfect! he thought. There it is… The card he gave me… This’ll be a piece of crumb cake…

“I’ll start by summoning Demon Roar God Galbath,” he said.

As he played the card, a waft of bright light struck the field. An ugly-looking Fiend with a gargoyle-like face, armor, and scaly, wing-like protrusions on his forearms appeared. He carried a weapon that looked like a huge, spiked, iron ball on a chain. (1,500 ATK)

A Demon Roar God? thought Hank. Never heard of that before…

“What do you think?” asked Snitch, who now sounded a great deal more sinister than he did before. “He’ll rip you a new one!”

“Let him try!” laughed Hank. “He’s hardly the strongest Fiend I’ve ever seen.”

“Yeah?” said Snitch, placing a card in his Disk. “Well, I’ll toss down a facedown card for later. It’s your move…”

Hank made a draw, and looked at it.

“I think I’ll activate it now!” exclaimed Snitch.

His facedown card lifted, showing a Continuous Trap. It bore a frightening image of an armored Fiend appearing in a summoning circle.

“It’s a rare Trap called Spell-Sealing Sigil,” he said. “Now, I get to name one type of Spell Card, and for as long this Trap is in play, that type of Spell is off-limits for both of us.

“I’m naming Quickplay Spells.”

What the… thought Hank. That means he knew about my Curse-Returner Hitogata… He came prepared.

“And all I gotta do to keep it,” continued Snitch, “is make sure I’ve got a Light-Attribute Fiend on my field during each of my own End Phases.”

“Light-Attribute Fiends are pretty hard to come by,” replied Hank.

“Take a look,” said Snitch, pointing to Galbath. “I got one already. And he ain’t the only Demon Roar God. There are more, and they’re all Light Fiends. No-one is quite sure why that is, but some folks think that they used to be fallen angels before they were Fiends.”

Hank looked at his hand.

Well, he thought, whoever told him about my cards was a little misinformed…

He played a card.

“I summon Ashoka Pillar!” he shouted.

With a rumble, the tall, thin, stone tower rose out of the ground. (0 ATK)

“And just what are you gonna do with that?” laughed Snitch. “You can’t use your Curse-Returner! When I smash it, you’ll lose 2,000 Life Points!”

“We’ll see about that,” said Hank. “I play the Equip Spell, Spirit Mask.”

He played another card, and a large, colorful tiki mask bonded to the apex of the tower.

“And what does that do?” asked Snitch.

“If this Monster is destroyed with Spirit Mask,” explained Hank, “its controller has to discard one card.”

Snitch burst out laughing.

“Of all the idiotic…” he laughed. “That has to be the dumbest…”

Hank flipped a card in his hand around, and Snitch stopped short.

“…that has to be the smartest move I’ve ever seen…” said Snitch, nervously.

Hank played the card, and Creature Swap appeared on his side of the field. Instantly, both Monsters switched places, Demon Roar God Galbath appearing on Hank’s side of the field, and Ashoka Pillar appearing on Snitch’s.

“Need I remind you,” said Hank, “Ashoka Pillar also has zero Attack Points.”

“Hold on!” shouted Snitch.

“Now, let’s battle!” shouted Hank. “Galbath, tear down Ashoka Pillar!”

Galbath twirled the ball and chain over his head, and hurled it at Ashoka Pillar, smashing it into shards of rock. Snitch groaned and shielded himself.

“And don’t forget, you lose 2,000 Life Points from its effect,” continued Hank.

The goblin screamed as lightning struck him.

“And also don’t forget,” said Hank, as Snitch started to get up, “you have to toss one card due to Spirit Mask’s effect.”

Snitch grinned a little.

“Actually…” he said, taking a card from his hand, “it would be my pleasure…”

He discarded it.

Huh? thought Hank. What just happened?



(H: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 4,500)


He looked at Snitch.

“I’ve wiped out almost half your Life Points in one turn,” he said. “That Spell-Sealing Sigil hasn’t done you any good so far. So why don’t you tell me who gave it to you?”

“No,” said Snitch, drawing a card. “Besides, who said anyone gave it to me? Maybe I just pulled it.

“And by the way, you might like to know that the Monster I discarded because of your Spirit Mask was a Level 6 Monster called Demon Roar God Solcius.

“And when he’s in my Graveyard, I can toss two cards…”

He quickly discarded Magical Mallet and Bark of Dark Ruler.

“…to bring him to the field!”

In an eruption of light, a new Fiend appeared in front of Snitch. It was a large, muscular creature, with batlike wings and a long, snaky tail, wearing a black breastplate with a golden design, black pants, and a golden mask over his otherwise human face. (2,200 ATK)

“Ho boy,” said Hank.

“Next, I Normal Summon Demon Roar God Kushano,” continued Snitch.

In another waft of light, a new Fiend appeared who looked like an academia-type. He wore a formal black jacket and trousers with silver designs and spectacles, had unkempt, long, white hair, and white, feathered wings. He carried a large, leather-bound tome with a skull on the cover. (1,100 ATK)

Snitch looked at the last card in his hand.

I’ll save this for later, he thought.

“Solcius,” he said, “wipe out Galbath with prismatic orb!”

The Fiend put his hands together, and formed a globe of multicolored lights. He hurled it, and Galbath was blown into gibbets of light.

“All right, Kushano, attack the guvnor directly.”

Kushano adjusted his glasses, and fired a beam of energy from them, striking Hank.

“Ergh…” he groaned.

“That’s my move, guvnor,” said Snitch.



(H: 6,200) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 4,500)


Seems this guy is better than I thought he’d be, thought Hank, drawing a card.

He looked at the Monster on the card he had drawn.

“I play Stonehenge,” he said, playing a Spell Card. “Now, I get to bring Ashoka Pillar back from the Graveyard.”

The standing stones of Stonehenge surrounded the two duelists, and Ashoka Pillar reappeared. (2,200 DEF)

“I play a facedown, and end my turn.”

A facedown card appeared behind Asoka Pillar.

“You think that oversized street lamp can protect you?” asked Snitch.

He drew a card.

“Trap activate,” exclaimed Hank.

“Huh?” said Snitch, as the facedown card lifted.

“Rock Bombardment!” shouted Hank. “Now, by sending a Rock-Type Monster from my deck to my Graveyard, I get to inflict 500 points of damage!”

A large catapult manned by two soldiers appeared behind him. One of them lowered the basket, and the other loaded the Crystal Skull into it.

The first one pulled the lever, sending Crystal Skull shooting towards Snitch. He tumbled over as it beaned him on the head.

He slowly got up.

“Oh, aren’t we clever…” he growled. “I summon Demon Roar God Urstos!”

With a cackling laugh, a hideous creature appeared next to the other two Demon Roar Gods. It was a skeleton, garbed in a tattered, black cloak, with rotting, molted, feathered wings. (1,500 ATK)

“This guy’s effect comes into play whenever I have two or less cards in my hand,” explained Snitch, “and as you can see, I only have one. Now, every Demon Roar God I ‘ave gains 400 more Attack Points.”

Solcius grew to 2,600 Attack Points, Kushano rose to 1,500, and Urstos rose to 1,900.

“Now let’s see how you like it… Solcius, destroy Ashoka Pillar!”

Solcius blasted his prismatic orb, and Ashoka Pillar was blown into pebbles for the second time.

“And now, you get a taste of yer own medicine!” laughed Snitch.

Hank groaned as the lightning struck him.

“But what doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger,” replied Hank. “You see, because I just took damage from the effect of a card I control, I can Special Summon…

“…my Anubian Soldier!”

An explosion of sand burst from where Ashoka Pillar had been, and a tall, humanoid form rose out of the ground. It was a muscular man wearing Egyptian-style armor, holding a crescent-bladed battle-axe. He had the head of a black-furred jackal, the likeness of the Guardian of the Dead, Anubis. (1,000 ATK)

“Big deal!” laughed Snitch. “That’s weak!”

“Yeah?” asked Hank. “He gains Attack Points equal to the amount of Life Points I had to lose to summon him.”

Anubian Soldier glowed with dark energy. (3,000 ATK)

“WHAT?” shouted Snitch. “Rowan never told me about this!”

“Who’s Rowan?” asked Hank.

“Uh, nobody…” muttered Snitch. “I move Kushano into Defense Mode, and end my turn.”

Kushano knelt, and folded his wings over his chest. (800 DEF)



(H: 4,200) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 4,000)


“I draw one card…” said Hank, making a draw.

He looked at the card, which was Cabrera Stone.

Can’t use this right now, he thought.

“And then my Anubian Soldier attacks Demon Roar God Urstos!”

The jackal-headed Warrior rushed at the skeletal Fiend, and made a savage slash with its axe. Urstos let out a loud cackle, and then burst into an explosion of bones and shards of cloth.

“Ergh…” muttered Snitch.

Both of his other Monsters’ Attack Scores fell to their original scores.

“I throw down a facedown, and end my turn,” said Hank, as a reversed card appeared.



(H: 4,200) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 2,900)


Criminy, thought the goblin, making a draw. This is harder than I thought it would be…

“I set a Monster," he said, "and move Solcius to Defense Mode as well.”

He quickly played his last card. A set Monster appeared, and Solcius knelt and folded his own wings over his chest. (2,100 DEF)

“My move now,” said Hank.

He drew a card.

Just what I needed, he thought.

“I sacrifice my Anubian Soldier…” he said.

Anubian Soldier vanished into grains of light…

“To Special Summon his master… King Scorpion!”

Lightning flashed, and a powerful, muscular man with bronze skin appeared in his place. He was bare-chested, with leather trousers, wearing bronze gauntlets and a helmet with a scorpion design on the crest. He held a kopesh sword in his right hand, and a large shield with a scorpion painted on it in his left. (3,000 ATK)

“I don’t get it,” said Snitch. “You sacrificed one Monster to summon one with the same amount of Attack Points?”

“King Scorpion’s Attack Points are the same as whatever Anubian Soldier had when I sacrificed it,” explained Hank. “And he gains effects depending on how powerful he is. If he has 2,000 Attack Points or more, he inflicts trampling damage. 3,000 or more, and he can dodge any Spell or Trap that targets him.”

“Trampling damage??” gasped Snitch.

He looked at Kushano.

“Oh no…”

“Attack Demon Roar God Kushano!” shouted Hank.

King Scorpion made a swipe with his kopesh, and the Demon Roar God exploded, knocking Snitch over.

“My turn is over,” said Hank.



(H: 4,200) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 700)


“I’m not finished yet,” said Snitch, drawing a card.

He looked at it.

“First I set this,” he said, as a facedown card appeared.

“Then I flip Morphing Jar into Attack Mode.”

His facedown Monster flipped up. Morphing Jar appeared, and let out a cackle. (700 ATK)

Hank discarded Cabrera Stone, and made five draws. Snitch discarded his one card, and drew five times.

“Now,” said Snitch, “since this Trap Card of mine seems to have been nothing more than a waste of time, I’ll use this…”

The card he had just set lifted up.

“Magic Planter. I’ll send Spell-Sealing Sigil to the Graveyard, to draw two more times.”

The Trap Card vanished, and he made two draws.

Then he chuckled.

“Even better,” he continued, “since we can use Quickplays again, I can use Mystik Wok.”

He played a Spell Card, and Demon Roar God Solcius vanished into grains of light.

“Now I gain 2,200 Life Points.

“Next, I’ll summon Demon Roar God Raven.”

He played the card, and a new Fiend appeared. This one was dressed in black armor with a skull design on the breastplate, and a helmet that covered his face like a cowl. His wings were attached to his forearms, and looked like blades. (1,300 ATK)

“Raven here is Level 2,” said Snitch, “but for each card that I toss, he gains one Level for one round, and also gains 400 Attack Points.”

He quickly discarded two cards, and Raven glowed with an aura of Light. (2,100 ATK)

He could only have one reason for changing its Level, thought Hank. A Synchro Summon… But what Synchro Monster could he have that could beat King Scorpion’s Attack Score of 3,000?

“And that’s not all,” continued Snitch. “The two Monsters I discarded are two guys named Demon Roar God Rulee. And when they go from my hand to the Graveyard, they go to the field next.”

In two small bursts of light, two little imps with bat-like wings, big smiles, and red masks over their eyes appeared, crouching in Defense Mode. (400 DEF x2)

“Up next,” he said, as a Spell Card appeared, “I play Monster Gate. First I gotta sacrifice a Monster. So, I’ll get rid of Morphing Jar…”

Morphing Jar vanished.

“Then I pick up cards from my deck until I reach a Monster. Then I Special Summon it.”

He took a card from his deck.

“And I got just what I needed! Meet Demon Roar God Grimro!”

The Fiend that appeared this time clearly looked more like a fallen angel than a true Fiend. She (it was clearly a female) was a dark woman dressed in a black gown made of black feathers, with dark hair, pale skin, and large, black, feathered wings. (1,700 ATK)

“Just how many of these guys are there?” asked Hank.

“The best is yet to come,” chuckled Snitch. “I Tune Raven and Grimro together!”

The two Demon Roar Gods spread their wings, and flew into the night sky. Hank felt a strange sense of foreboding as they split into eight stars, which quickly vanished.

Then a portal started to open…

A hulking, intimidating form started to walk out of the portal. It was a broad-shouldered Fiend dressed in sinister-looking, but elaborately decorated shogun armor, colored black, red, and gold, with many sharp edges. His wings were seemingly made of steel, and seemed to be part of the armor itself.

“Meet Demon Roar God Valkyurus,” said Snitch.

(2,900 ATK)

“He still can’t beat King Scorpion,” replied Hank, narrowing his eyes. “He comes up 100 points short.”

“Can he now?” asked Snitch, playing another card. “I play Banner of Courage. Now, for my Battle Phase only, my Monsters gain 200 more Attack Points.

“So… Valkyurus… Take down King Scorpion!”

Valkyurus lifted his hand, and a flaming katana blade appeared in it. He let out a roar, his Attack Score rose to 3,100, and he charged at King Scorpion.

“Not so fast!” shouted Hank, as his facedown card lifted up. “I activate a Trap!”

The Trap Card was a very elaborate one, which showed an old fashioned, black and white picture of a man being held by his ankles over a castle parapet.

“It’s called Blarney Stone,” he said. “Legend says that kissing the Stone brings good fortune, and a kiss from this Trap brings luck to any Earth Monster, making him invincible in battle.”

Valkyurus’s sword slammed into King Scorpion, but the Warrior resisted it.

Snitch placed his last card into his Disk.

“I set this,” he said, “and I end my turn.”



(H: 4,100) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 2,900)


Hank drew a card and looked at it.

Okay… he thought.

“Trap activate,” said Snitch.

“Huh?” said Hank.

“It’s called Gamble,” said Snitch, as his facedown card activated. “Since you have six cards, and I have none, I get to toss a coin. If I call correctly, I get to draw five times.”

“You realize what’s gonna happen if you call wrong, right?” asked Hank.

“Yeah, I’ll have to skip my next turn, and I’ll lose the duel,” said Snitch, holding up a coin. “But I’m feeling mighty lucky today…

Even more than you could ever believe, he thought, looking at the coin.

It looked like a Euro, but it was actually a fake, two-headed one that he had gotten from a novelty store catalogue. Normally, a Duel Disk was programmed to detect such fakes, but the person who had given Snitch this Disk had tampered with that feature.

“It’s heads!” he shouted, tossing it.

The coin spun in the air, and he caught it, slapping it on his wrist. Hank’s eyes narrowed a little…

“Heads it is,” said Snitch.

Even if Hank suspected that the move had been underhanded (and he did), he wasn’t going to waste time challenging it. He knew that this guy would likely use a fast move to switch the coin for a regular one before he could inspect it. He was full of suspicion already anyway about this whole deal.

As Snitch drew five cards, Hank looked at the cards in his hand.

If I attacked one of those Rulee, I could bring him down to only 300 Life Points, he thought. But with Valkyurus on the field and his Banner of Courage in play, I’d lose King Scorpion on his next turn, and I can’t have that…

“King Scorpion, destroy Demon Roar God Valkyurus!”

The powerful king made a slash with his blade, cutting down the evil Fiend, who was blown into slivers of brilliant light. Snitch shielded himself.



(H: 4,100) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 2,800)


“Not bad, guvnor,” chuckled Snitch. “But now it’s time to bring out my best…”

Valkyurus wasn’t his best? thought Hank, in disbelief.

He made a draw.

“I play Monster Reborn!” he shouted. “Guess who’s back…”

The fiery, glowing ankh appeared, and Valkyurus appeared again. (2,900 ATK)

“But he isn’t staying,” he continued. “I’m just gonna use him to summon someone even better.

“And it all starts with this guy… Demon Roar God Mihztorji.”

He flipped a card in his hand around.

“See, he’s a Tuner himself, but I can use him a different way. If I send him to the Graveyard…”

He discarded the card.

“…I can treat any other Demon Roar God on the field as a Tuner. So I’m gonna do that with one of my Rulee.

“And that lets me Tune all three of my Monsters together…”

All three of the Fiends flew into the sky, turning into a cluster of stars. Fog started to rise on the street, and Hank’s eyes opened wide.

“That’s ten Levels worth of Monsters!” he shouted.

“That’s right!” laughed Snitch, as a large object appeared in front of him.

The large object appeared to be a granite throne, its back to Hank. Slowly, it rotated, showing another powerful-looking Fiend reclining on it. He was wearing armor and had a hair style each resembling the visual kei fashions, covered with decorated gold and crimson, with a mask over his eyes, and large, leathery wings on his back.

He yawned, and stretched, and stood up. (3,000 ATK)

“Meet the lord of the Demon Roar Gods,” chuckled Snitch. “Demon Roar God Levuathan!

“And thanks to my Banner of Courage, he has enough firepower to atomize your King…”

Levuathan’s eyes glowed with crackling energy. Thunder clapped. He lifted his hand, and lightning fell from the heavens, falling to his palm, and his Attack Score rose to 3,200. Then he hurled the lightning forward, and King Scorpion groaned before being blasted into shards.

“So much for him,” said Snitch. “I’ll set a facedown, and end my turn.”

A reversed card appeared in front of him.



(H: 3,900) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 2,800)


Hank glared at Snitch and drew a card.

I wasn’t sure before, but now I am, he thought. Synchro Monsters are rare enough as it is… Level 10 ones are not cards that would ever be found in the hands of any goblin tipsters. This whole thing was a setup.

I’d better beat this guy and find out why…

“First, I play a facedown,” he said, as a reversed card appeared.

“Then, I play the Spell Card, Valley of Kings.”

A Spell Card appeared in front of him.

“Now, by removing a Level 8 Monster in my Graveyard from play, such as King Scorpion, I get to Special Summon three Monsters from it, so long as all three of them have zero Attack Points.”

He quickly pocketed the King Scorpion card, and three surges of energy appeared on the field. Crystal Skull appeared first (0 DEF), then Ashoka Pillar (2,200 DEF), then Cabrera Stone (0 ATK).

“You just summoned your Crystal Skull!” shouted Snitch. “You know what that means!”

Hank groaned a little as the Crystal Skull glowed with eldritch energy and it shocked him.



(H: 2,900) - - - - - - - - - - (S: 2,800)


“Since I played Valley of Kings,” he said, “I’m not allowed to use any other Spell Cards or summon any other Monsters this turn. So I’ll end my turn.”

Snitch grinned as he drew a card.

Your strategy couldn’t be more obvious, thought the goblin. You’re planning to use Triangle-O next turn. The facedown card is likely a Trap that will protect those three Monsters… Most likely Totem Pole.

Well, you’d win the duel… If I let you use it…

“I play Card Destruction!” he exclaimed, playing a card. “Now, we each have to ditch all the cards in our hands and draw an equal number!”

Hank closed his eyes as he discarded the five cards he had, and made five draws. Snitch discarded his two cards, and drew two.

Hmm, he thought, looking at them. I can’t get rid of Totem Pole with these… So I guess I’ll just have to force him to use it up.

“Levuathan&#