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Heroic Potential [Yugioh! Fic]

Discussion in 'Non-Pokémon Stories' started by SerenadeSP, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    You're added. :)

    Don't worry, I don't plan on stopping this any time soon. I have rough drafts for the next 6 chapters set up and I plan on posting Chapter 13 within the next week or so.
     
  2. UltimatePokemonExpert

    UltimatePokemonExpert Experienced Trainer

    Yes! Praise the Lord!
     
  3. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    Chapter Thirteen


    Josh’s heart thumped heavily in his chest. Sweat slipped passed his ear, sliding down his neck. His hand, still on the doorknob, was frozen in place.

    Behind him, Dave stepped forward silently. He, too, was clearly shaken up.

    “Open the door,” he whispered. “We need to make sure Mr. Muto is okay.” He put his hand on top of Josh’s, turned the doorknob for him.

    The once organized shop was now an area of chaos. Cards and glass fragments laid sloppily across the floor, creating a messy path leading to the desk. A man stood at the end; his tall, bulky build towered over Mr. Muto, who was lying on the floor with his eyes closed. A cracked had formed on the glass behind him – the man probably threw him into it.

    “Mr. Muto!” Dave yelled against his will. He ran forward, Josh grabbed his arm, forcing him back.

    The man turned around; his worn, blue uniform turned with him, revealing its rusted badges and tears. He lifted his chin, showing a deep-cut scar trailing from the top of his neck to the bottom of his left eye.

    “Who the hell are you?” The man asked gravely.

    “I should be asking you the same question!” Dave shouted, stepping forward again. Josh restrained him. “What the hell are you doing to Mr. Muto!”

    The man held out his right arm, aiming the in-hand gun at them. A click snapped throughout the room.

    “I came here in search of powerful cards.” He showed his left arm, revealing a Duel Disk. “I heard the old man here holds the best cards in the country, so I decided to pay him a visit.” His lips formed a crooked smile.

    “You’re insane! He’s done nothing to you!”

    “No, but my boss wants me to prepare for our… ‘project’, and he needs powerful cards to do it.”

    Dave thrust his left arm, breaking free of Josh’s hold, showed the man his Duel Disk.

    “If you really want rare cards take mine! My deck has plenty of rare cards!”

    “No.” the man turned. “You may have been a finalist in Kaiba’s tournament, but your cards aren’t what we’re looking for.”

    Kaiba’s tournament… Josh perked his eyebrows up in realization.

    “You’re with the receptionist!” he shouted, joining Dave.

    The man laughed darkly. “If that’s what you call her. Yes, she is with my organization but she’s one of our underlings. She failed her mission so I decided to make up for her stupidity.”

    Grandpa roused, started to stand up.

    “Ah, looks like the old man’s finally awake.” The man clasped a strong hand onto Grandpa’s bicep, pointing the gun just above the shopkeeper’s nose. “Now, I’ll tell you one last time – give me all your powerful cards or I’ll shoot you and burn this whole place down!”

    “No, please!” Grandpa shouted, afraid to get too close.

    “That’s enough,” Dave stepped forward again. “I challenge you to a duel. If I win you leave without second thought. If you win you take as many cards as you want!”

    “Is that so?” The man turned back, angrily darting his eyes at Dave. The gun soon followed. “Do you think I’m that stupid?!”

    Alarmed, Dave backed up. Josh drew in his breathe.

    “You used the same trick on that dumb bitch. It’s obvious that you’re the better duelist here…” He paused, eyeing Josh’s Duel Disk. “But I’ll take your offer.” He lowered his gun. “If I duel your friend instead.”

    Josh’s eyes lit up. His voice shook.

    “Me?! No! Nononono no!”

    Dave stepped in front of him.

    “He’s never dueled before in his life!” It was sort of a lie, but Josh wasn’t complaining. “That isn’t fair at all!”

    “Then how about this?” The man said, lifted Grandpa by the arm. Grandpa weakly limped in his hands. “I’ll duel with 4000 Life Points instead of 8000, and you get to monitor your friend’s actions.”

    “But I don’t even have a deck!” Josh shouted, tossing his arms to the side. The platform on his Duel Disk knocked into his sweatshirt, knocking out his Card Analyzer, knocking it onto the floor. The case broke, spilling his cards everywhere.

    Josh stared at them, dumbfounded.

    The man chuckled. “I’ll see you outside.” He dragged Grandpa past them, looked over his shoulder as he exited. “The name’s Jonathan, to answer your question.” He laughed again.

    Josh bent over, picked up the Monster Reborn card at his feet, silently prayed.

    “Dave.” His eyes trembled. “You didn’t tell me this game involved guns.”


    ~*~*~*~​


    Jonathan tossed Grandpa onto the dirt beside him; the short, old man rubbed his head, steadily crawling away from Jonathan’s gun. He managed to slide about a foot away before he collapsed on the ground.

    He cupped his face in his hands. “I’m getting too old for this...”

    On the other side of the entrance, Josh shuffled his deck, with Dave standing over his shoulder. Josh was happy that Grandpa’s shop was so isolated for two reasons. One, there wouldn’t be anyone around to watch him embarrass himself when he lost. Two, there wouldn’t be anyone around to watch him embarrass himself when he had to dodge bullets like a frantic chicken.

    “Remember, pay careful attention to your opponent’s cards. That’s the reason I beat you in the Arcade. If you don’t, we’re dead.”

    “Yeah, so no pressure right?” Josh said dryly. He shoved his Card Analyzer into his Duel Disk. Dave realized his mistake.

    “Sorry. I didn’t –”

    “I know what ya mean,” Josh said. He held up his arm, trying to figure out how to turn the Duel Disk on.

    “Don’t worry. If you need me I’m right here with you.”

    Josh finally found the button – the Duel Disk miraculously swung together, nearly chopping his left hand off. Its blue platform swung to the side, and its meter lit up with electronic digits. He drew his five cards, looking them over as Dave told him to. On the other side, Jonathan laughed again.

    “This should be quick.”

    [Josh LP: (8000)] [Jonathan LP: (4000)]​

    “Since I start with a disadvantage it’s only fair that I go first, right?” He cracked wicked smile. “I summon Volcanic Slicer in Attack Mode!”

    A bipedal dinosaur-like monster charged out its reanimated card hologram. Though it had no visible eyes on its spikey golden armor, its stare pierced through Josh’s soul. (1800/1200) It growled, exhaling a small ember from its fangs.

    “Don’t worry,” Dave said. “He can’t attack the on the first turn of the duel, so you still have a chance to strike back.”

    Jonathan smiled again, revealed that one of his teeth was cracked. “Not quite. Thanks to its special ability I can inflict 500 damage in exchange for its attack each turn.”

    Josh’s eyes widened. Dave took a defensive stance.

    “And, as you said, I can’t attack this turn, so that sounds like an excellent trade off!” Jonathan proudly clutched his fist. “Volcanic Slicer, set him ablaze!”

    Volcanic Slicer reared its head back, using its entire body’s momentum to shoot a fireball from its mouth. The molten sphere reflected in Josh’s gaze, struck him full force. He stumbled back, but Dave caught him by the arm. [Josh LP: (8000 --> 7500)]

    “Are you okay?”

    Josh caught his breathe, nodded. He had just survived his first real attack. But judging from the tournament, he hadn’t seen anything yet.

    “That’s nothing compared to what’s next!” Three cards flashed at Jonathan’s feet. “Your turn.”

    Josh stepped forward, gripping his top card. He was shaking – he couldn’t control it – but he couldn’t let his opponent know.

    Jonathan raised an eyebrow. “What’s the matter kid? Scared?”

    Shit. He drew, averted his attention to his hand. The drawn card was Cross Counter – the card that had humiliated him in his first duel against that one kid. Then he looked to his other cards. Shadow Ghoul, Dark Jeroid, Double Attack, Stealth Bird, Attack and Receive – all cards he’d seen Elisa use in his lesson. This calmed him down greatly.

    He actually knew what to do.

    “Alright,” Josh said, taking the Dark Jeroid card out. “I’ll summon this monster!”

    Dave watched him slowly fit the card onto the center space, the multi-limbed ghoul remerged before them. It groaned, holding its bottom hands near its lowered face. (1200/1500)

    “Too bad, that card’s too weak.” Jonathan smiled, repressed a chuckle. “Looks like I chose the right opponent for this duel.”

    Grandpa slowly stood up, regaining his strength. Come on Josh, my shop depends on you.

    “No-not quite.”

    Dave looked to Josh. This wasn’t good. Even if Josh had a strategy in mind, Jonathan could easily overwhelm him with his current mentality.

    “I use D-Dark Jeroid’s effect to decrease your monster’s ATK by 800!”

    The blue ghoul held out his hands and spikes. A thumping sound resonated from its body; its heart above its head shined with a dark pink glow. A soundwave shot out at Volcanic Slicer, and the monster irritably held its stubby arms to its non-existent ears. (1800 --> 1000/1200)

    “Now I activate the Tra… er, Spell Card, Double Attack!” Josh had trouble shoving the card into its slot, eventually it fell in place like a key to a lock. “By discarding a higher leveled monster I can have my Dark Jeroid attack twice this turn.” He threw his Shadow Ghoul card into the red slot, which he knew led to the Graveyard. He was slightly surprised to see that when he placed the card above it, the Duel Disk automatically sucked it up.

    Dark Jeroid prepared to pounce.

    “Ha, not bad kid,” Jonathan whispered, though everyone could still hear him.

    “Dark Jeroid, attack!” Josh felt empowered when he gave the command. The monster lunged at the dinosaur-monster, crushing through its armor with its sharp spikes. [Jonathan LP: (4000 --> 3800)]

    “But not good enough.” Josh’s heart skipped a beat. Jonathan activated a Trap. “When a FIRE monster gets destroyed Backfire gives you a nice surprise!”

    The center card rose, fire surging out of it immediately. The blast submerged Dark Jeroid, knocking it back to its original spot, with the residual flames searing Josh’s torso. Josh held a hand to his chest, bending over. [Josh LP: (7500 --> 7000)]

    “Agh, this is too much.” Josh weakly looked to Dave. “How do you handle all this?”

    “You get used to it.”

    Jonathan crossed his arms. “Are you done yet?”

    Dave helped Josh recompose himself.

    “Not even close,” Dave said. “Double Attack is still in effect, which means Dark Jeroid can attack again!”

    Josh looked to his monster as if it had disobeyed. “You heard him!”

    Dark Jeroid pounced again, this time using all its strength to throw itself straight at Jonathan.

    Another Trap rose. “I activate Firewall!”

    A card ejected out of Jonathan’s Graveyard, igniting as it struck the ground, creating a literal wall of fire, successfully stopping Dark Jeroid in its tracks.

    “No!” Josh yelled in dismay.

    “Yes.” Jonathan held out his arm, presenting the card responsible. “With Firewall out I can banish a FIRE monster from my Graveyard to stop any direct attack I choose.” The flames went out. “Nice try.”

    Josh hung his head. “Sorry Dave, I thought I had him there.”

    “That wasn’t your fault, I thought you did too,” Dave said. Josh brought his gaze to him. “He’s not playing around. Be prepared for anything now.”

    Josh returned to the duel. “I’ll try.” He slid Cross Counter and Attack and Receive into two slots, their enlarged forms greeting him a few steps ahead. “But I dunno if I can take much more of this.”

    “I take it that your turn has ended,” Jonathan said. His third Trap rose, depicting a woman gleefully basking in a sun shower. “I activate Solemn Wishes. Each time I draw a card I gain 500 Life Points.” He drew, causing the designated card to shine. [Jonathan LP: (3800 --> 4300)]

    “What a cheap way to get around his own rules,” Dave grumbled.

    “And now it’s time to pay Firewall’s fee to keep it in play. A measly 500 Life Points per turn.” [Jonathan LP: (4300 --> 3800)]

    An excellent strategy, Grandpa thought. The two cards cancel each other out but he still gets the benefits of both.

    “I’ll place a monster in Defense Position and end to give you a fighting chance.”

    A horizontal brown card appeared ahead of the other three. Jonathan crossed his arms again.

    Alright Josh, the new duelist said to himself. Concentrate. You can do this.

    His next card was Salamandra, which he remembered Elisa equipping to a FIRE monster to increase its power. But he had no FIRE monsters out right now, so it was useless.

    Josh glanced over his shoulder at Dave. “What should I do?” he whispered.

    Dave leaned closer, whispering in his ear. “Try setting Stealth Bird face-down and keep Dark Jeroid in Attack Position. He’ll probably go after the Attack Position monster to eat at your Life Points and will probably ignore your face-down Stealth Bird for the moment. Then next turn you can Flip Summon Stealth Bird to inflict 1000 damage to him.”

    “But Stealth Bird only has 700 ATK, won’t it get trampled the turn after?”

    “No, look at the rest of its effect – it can flip itself face-down once a turn.”

    “Hurry up,” Jonathan shouted to them. “I’m on a timetable here. My boss doesn’t like it when his subjects are late.”

    Subjects? Josh took his Stealth Bird card, pressed it on the slot next to his other monster. “I’ll play a monster face-down.” A brown backed card flashed ahead of Josh’s two traps. “And now I’ll have my Dark Jeroid attack your face-down monster!”

    Dark Jeroid leapt, using its many hands to push it off the ground. Dave tensed.

    “Josh, no!”

    Josh glanced back. “Huh?”

    Dark Jeroid slammed its spikes into the opposing face-down card, smashing it to bits. A small, green robot momentarily appeared in its place, shattered like glass a second later. The fragments hovered, and Jonathan laughed.

    “You destroyed my Volcanic Blaster, which means I get to take one ‘Volcanic’ monster in my deck and move it to the top.” He shortly searched, presented the card a beat later. “I think I’ll use Volcanic Rocket.” He shoved his deck back into his Duel Disk, placing Volcanic Rocket on top.

    “Was that what you were warning me about, Dave?”

    Dave shook his head.

    “And now –” The floating fragments flew into Jonathan’s Trap Card, igniting its frame. “– Backfire inflicts 500 damage to you!”

    “What?!”

    A stream of flames burst out of the card, engulfing Josh in the wave. [Josh LP: (7000 --> 6500)] Josh held his chest again. Dave comforted him.

    “You gotta pay attention to the cards he has out. His cards support FIRE monsters so it’s safe to assume his whole deck revolves around them.”

    “These FIRE monsters are pretty tough,” Josh said weakly. He strained to straighten his posture.

    “And they’re only gonna get tougher!” Jonathan snarled, drew a card. “Solemn Wishes gives me 500 extra Life Points for drawing –” [Jonathan LP: (3800 --> 4300)] “– and Firewall takes it away.” [Jonathan LP: (4300 --> 3800)] “Now I’ll summon a monster.” He flipped the card with his thumb. “Guess who!”

    Volcanic Rocket darted out of the trees, cutting the air with its sharp wings. The brown pterodactyl-like monster landed, keeping its body close to the ground, poised to charge. (1900/1400) True to its name, while the monster was idle, it resembled the aerodynamic shape of a rocket.

    “When this card is summoned, I can take a Blaze Accelerator card from my deck and put it in my hand.” A card from the center of his deck stuck out. The scarred duelist took it with two firm fingers. “Your Dark Jeroid has been out longer than necessary. Volcanic Rocket will change that.”

    Volcanic Rocket lifted its limbs off the floor, aimed itself at the ghoul. Whipping its tail back, it shot forward, slicing through the ghoul with its beak, resulting in a small explosion. Josh and Dave covered their eyes with their sleeves. [Josh LP: (6500 --> 5800)]

    “Now I’ll activate Blaze Accelerator!” A tiny, three-legged machine perched itself beside Jonathan. The machine unfolded, setting up its weapons, and aimed its single barrel. “Of course, I can’t use it this turn, so I’ll end.”

    “He has a lot of Continuous Spell and Trap Cards,” Dave said. “Do you have anything that can take them out?”

    Josh shook his head. “I don’t think so.”

    Dave grimaced. “Those cards are gonna be a problem if we don’t stop them soon.”

    Josh pulled a new card, the Stronghold Guardian. Now he remembered his first duel completely – he attacked into a Defense Position monster, and his opponent powered it up with this card. Then, he used Cross Counter to double the damage and destroy the attacking monster.

    He looked to his face-down card, which he knew to be Stealth Bird. All he had to do was reveal it so that Jonathan would know its DEF value – that way, Josh would be able to trick him into attacking it and use the same strategy that had done so much damage to him.

    It was worth a shot.

    “I got you now!” Josh flipped over the card, switching it to a vertical position. “I summon my Stealth Bird!”

    A sky-blue bird soared out of the card, fluttered over the field. Its head resembled a bat, and perked its ears just as a bat would. (700/1700)

    “Not strong enough to take on my Rocket.”

    “No.” For some reason Josh’s heart skipped a beat. But why? He knew what he was doing.

    Oh Josh, Dave thought. Please don’t let your nervousness get to you.

    “When Stealth Bird is Flip Summoned, it inflicts 1000 damage to your Life Points!”

    Josh pointed at Jonathan; Stealth Bird dove in, folding its wings so its strike was quick and sharp. Jonathan cringed, then swatted his arm as the monster flew away. [Jonathan LP: (3800 --> 2800)]

    “And now I’ll use Stealth Bird’s second effect to return it to face-down Defense Position.” A hollow card appeared on the ground, serving as a landing pad for the bat-like bird. Once its talons touched its surface, it reverted back to a normal brown card. “That’s it for now.” Josh’s hand trembled as he brought it to his side.

    “Like I said, this’ll be quick.” Jonathan drew. [Jonathan LP: (2800 --> 3300)] “You know what? I don’t think you’ll be getting to my Life Points for a while. So I don’t need this card anymore.” He gestured towards his Firewall card, which shattered on cue.

    Now his Life Points will constantly increase without any hindrance, Grandpa thought, touching his fingers to his chin. This isn’t good.

    “Now let’s see what we have here…” Jonathan looked at his drawn card. A wicked sparkle glimmered in his eyes.

    Josh froze again.

    Jonathan held the card close to his Duel Disk. “I Set one card face-down.” He slid it into a lower slot. Once the card fit in entirely, small bits of rainbow static sparked around his Duel Disk; its platforms glared unusually bright.

    For a second – so quick that it almost went unnoticed – the holograms flickered, disrupting the images so that they appeared jumbled bits of electronic data. Another second later, they reverted back to normal.

    Huh? Josh blinked. What just happened?

    “Time to put my Blaze Accelerator to use!” Jonathan shouted, picking out another card from his hand. The tiny machine whirred to life, aimed itself at his opponent. “By discarding a Pyro monster with 500 or less ATK, Blaze Accelerator allows me to destroy a monster you control.” He threw a card into his Graveyard – Dave noticed it; knew it to be Volcanic Counter – and the tiny robot charged up its barrel.

    It was aimed at Stealth Bird.

    “No!” Josh stared at the barrel, traced its path with his eyes. My strategy’s ruined if it’s gone!

    “Fire!”

    The machine blasted a small bullet-sized monster, sending it spiraling across the lawn. It slammed into the brown card, setting it on fire. The bat-like bird tried to escape the flames, but its wings had been ignited, rendering unable to fly away.

    Josh stared at the ashes, the smoke. His plan was up in smoke.

    “You’re lucky,” Jonathan stated, calling for everyone’s attention. “Whenever Blaze Accelerator is used, I can’t attack for the rest of the turn. So I’ll place a monster face-down and end.”

    Jonathan watched Josh’s hand move for his deck, grinned.

    “Alright, my go.” He was in bad shape. He needed a good card to save him, and he needed it now.

    He drew.

    Dave watched Josh lift the card closer to his face, as if he moved in slow-motion. On the other side of the field, Jonathan’s smile widened.

    Josh knew this card. It wasn’t his. At least, not originally.

    “It’s called Exchange. When it’s activated both players pick one card in the other’s hand and they trade it until the end of the duel. If you have no other options this card can help you out of a bind. But don’t use it if you don’t want your opponent taking away a key card from you.”

    Adam…
    Josh lowered the card slightly, gazed at Jonathan’s hand.

    He held one card.

    Adam was right. If he could swipe a strong card from Jonathan – which, from the way he’d been playing, wouldn’t be a problem – he may be able to turn this duel around.

    It was his only chance.

    “I ac–” A rising Trap Card cut him off.

    “I activate the Trap Card, Theft.”

    Dave and Grandpa raised an eyebrow.

    “I’ve never heard of that card,” Dave said aimlessly. Josh turned to him.

    “I don’t think a card like even exists,” Grandpa mused. “Surely I would’ve heard about it.”

    Jonathan smirked. “If you’re so sure, then why don’t you check that Card Analyzer of yours and find out?”

    Dave waltzed over to Josh. “Do it.”

    “Right,” Josh nodded, opening the search menu. He typed in the card’s name – Theft – and waited for the bar to finish loading.

    “Card Analyzer activated…

    Accessing Card Database… Searching for Card Data: ‘Theft’ …”

    Hehehe…

    “Searching for Card Data… … …”

    “What’s wrong?” Dave whispered. “Did you type it in right?”

    “Yeah. I don’t know what’s taking so long.”

    “… … … … …No match found.”

    “What?!” Dave and Josh shouted simultaneously. They stepped back, as if a windblast had shoved them, and glowered at their opponent.

    He laughed madly.

    “What kind of trick is this?” Dave yelled, angrily clutching his fist.

    Jonathan calmed himself; the sinister grin never left his face. “This is the power of the Deck Hackers!”

    Deck Hackers? Josh receded into his thoughts.

    “Once I take your deck back to my new boss, we’ll be one step closer to ruining this company and eventually I’ll burn it down with my bare hands!”

    “No, but my boss wants me to prepare for our… ‘project’, and he needs powerful cards to do it.”

    “Yes, she is with my organization but she’s one of our underlings. She failed her mission so I decided to make up for her stupidity.”


    “Who are you?” Josh finally spoke. His fear disappeared; replaced by curiosity. “What kind of organization is the ‘Deck Hackers’?”

    Jonathan’s smile twisted. “As I said, I am Jonathan. And, just as I said before, the Deck Hackers is an organization that needs rare cards for our plans to be successful.” He turned to the side, met his gaze with Grandpa. “Of course –” he looked back to the two duelists “– most truly powerful cards have way too many restrictions on them. So…”

    He began to laugh again, reeling his head back.

    Everyone silently waited for him to continue.

    “So, we decided to create our own!”

    “But how!” Dave stepped beside Josh. “Cards need to be registered on the Card Database for them to work with our Duel Disks. If there’s no data on it in our Card Analyzers then there’s no way you can use it.”

    “You two don’t listen very well, do you?” He held up his Duel Disk, showing his Card Analyzer. Its screen went red. “I’m with the Deck Hackers. In other words, we hacked the system so we can do whatever we want!”

    Josh shot a frightened glance at Dave.

    Dave returned his own.

    “Back to the duel,” Jonathan commanded. “Since none of you can figure out what this card does, I’ll gladly explain it to you. By paying 800 Life Points –” [Jonathan LP: (3300 --> 2500)] “– Theft enables me to take any cards you draw and put them in my hand.”

    No!

    Static whipped around the Trap Card in question until it finally stabilized its position.

    “I don’t believe it,” Dave said under his breath.

    The silhouette of a hand flung out of the card, snagging the Exchange card out of Josh’s hand. He tried to grab it back, but the arm retreated, tossing the card into Jonathan’s hold.

    Jonathan presented the card to him. “What’s wrong? Did a take a good card from you?” He laughed again.

    Josh moped, looked to the two cards in his hand. Stronghold Guardian, and Salamandra. Without another monster, his strategy was ruined. He had no choice but to put Stronghold Guardian out to defend his Life Points.

    “I play a monster and end my turn.” A horizontal card flickered before him.

    “That’s it? Looks like I did more damage than I thought.” Jonathan yanked out a card [Jonathan LP: (2500 --> 3000)], placing it beside the single card in his hand, which Josh knew to be Exchange. “Let’s see here… ah, I know.” A Spell Card rose up; Dave grimaced at the sight of it.

    “Pot of Greed lets me draw two cards, and Solemn Wishes gives me more Life Points since I drew again.”

    [Josh LP: (5800)] [Jonathan LP: (3000 --> 3500)]​

    “Now, to use your own card against you, I activate Exchange!”

    Josh’s heart skipped a beat at the sight of it.

    “I’m not gonna insult your intelligence on this one…” Jonathan smiled. The holograms vanished. He walked towards his opponent boastfully.

    “Remember, read their effects carefully and take a card that you think he can use against you,” Dave said.

    Josh nodded, walked forward.

    The two duelists met in the center of the playing field; Grandpa watched them look over the others’ cards.

    “You’re not giving me much options are you?” Jonathan said, taking the Salamandra card. With empty hands, Josh glanced at the three cards Jonathan had.

    All of them were monsters. That was a good thing – if he didn’t draw one next turn he would at least have one ready. Now it was just a matter of which one to take. The first card was a small monster whose body resembled Volcanic Slicer’s head. That didn’t matter much – he needed to take Dave’s advice and judge it by its power. 100 ATK, 0 DEF. That didn’t seem very useful…

    The second one looked far stronger – it looked like a massive blob made of molten lava. A cage hung from its chest, containing a person inside. It looked pretty cool. No, that didn’t matter. He needed to check its stats. 3000 ATK, 2500 DEF. Now that was more like it. Wait – it probably needs some Tributes to summon it, which would make it useless under his command. But, then again, Dave did say to take the card that could be used against him...

    The last one was a mouse-like monster that looked like it had been infused with some magma. It was a vanilla-colored card, so that meant no effect. But if its stats were good, that wouldn’t make a difference. 500 ATK and DEF. It was easily the worst option there…

    He made his choice. Josh carefully slipped the Lava Golem card out from Jonathan’s grip.

    “’Bout time.” Jonathan turned his back and returned to his spot by the trees.

    As he made his way back to his own spot, Josh read over the card he took. Hey, this is better than I thought. He stopped, faced his opponent once again. It lets me use my opponent’s monsters to summon it. That’ll leave him wide open.

    “What’d you get?” Dave asked.

    “It’s good. I have an idea,” Josh whispered.

    “Volcanic Rocket, destroy his face-down monster. Volcanic Impact!”

    Volcanic Rocket kicked off the ground, launching itself through the air. It stabbed its beak into the brown card, resulting in an explosion that kicked up dust from the ground. Volcanic Rocket flew out of the dust cloud, showing off its agile shape.

    “Heh, it’s your turn.”

    “Are you sure Josh?” Dave asked, peaking over his shoulder. “Let me see the card you too–”

    “It got it,” Josh interrupted. “I know how to handle this.” He smiled. Blue-Winged Crown was his latest card. It didn’t have bad stats, but without an effect it wouldn’t be able to take on Volcanic Rocket. But for his plan, he didn’t need to battle it at all.

    “Now to use your card against you!” Josh held it out. “I offer your two monsters to summon the almighty Lava Golem!”

    “Josh, no!” Dave nearly dove in to stop him, but he had already thrown the card down.

    Grandpa gasped. He tricked him!

    Jonathan stared at his monsters; lava washed over Volcanic Rocket, soon dripping onto his face-down card as well. They melted into a pool of molten goo, which stewed together, swirling until two yellow eyes glared out of the puddle. Lava exploded out of the pool, consuming Jonathan entirely as it stretched upward until it was almost the size of building next to them. The lava shaped into a massive blob-like being, and a cage seeped through its chest, containing Jonathan inside. (3000/2500)

    “Now how do you like that!” Josh pointed, then immediately lowered his finger. Something was wrong.

    “You idiot.” Jonathan cackled. “When Lava Golem is summoned, it’s summoned to the opponent’s side of the field! This monster’s mine!”

    “N-no!” Josh stumbled back. How could he have been so stupid!

    “Josh! You didn’t read its effect did you?” Dave shouted.

    “I-I did! But...” Josh shut his eyes tightly, shook his head. “I guess I didn’t read close enough.” He took his last card, held it near his ear. “I’ll make up for it though! I summon Blue-Winged Crown in Defe–”

    Jonathan wagged a finger. “Sorry, but Lava Golem takes up your summon for the turn.”

    No… This can’t be it. Now he’s wide open. Josh’s world spun out of control. Why did this have to happen to him? All he wanted to do was watch!

    “Since you have no other cards to use, I guess you’re done.” Jonathan smiled and drew. [Jonathan LP: (3500 --> 4000)]

    Lava Golem groaned, holding its colossal hands closer to its chest.

    Josh eyed the golem. What’s going on?

    Molten lava oozed from the monster’s arms, dripping onto the cage underneath. It slimed down each bar, occasionally dripping onto Jonathan himself, who cringed as the liquid rock burned his flesh.

    “Hehe,” Jonathan opened one eye, gritted his teeth into a smile. “The pain feels good.”

    “What just happened?” Josh demanded.

    “Lava Golem’s fee. As long as I control it, I take 1000 damage each turn. That’s what I was referring to when I was talking about powerful cards – too many things holding them back!” The vaporizing lava reflected in his eyes. [Jonathan LP: (4000 --> 3000)]

    That’s a lot of damage each turn… Josh fumbled with the Blue-Winged Crown card. If I can stall long enough I may actually be able to win.

    “I think it’s time to use the gift you generously gave to me. I activate Salamandra!”

    A flaming, serpentine dragon swirled out of the ground, wrapping Lava Golem with its body. The golem outstretched its arms, and the whole being erupted with an aura of fire. (3000 --> 3700/2500)

    Josh gulped.

    “Lava Golem, strike at his Life Points! Magma Fist!”

    Grandpa covered his eyes with his sleeve. Josh braced himself for the impact. Jonathan swung his fist across the air. Lava Golem hurled a punch at Josh simultaneously, as if its movements were linked to its master’s. A gooey, flaming punch struck the duelist, causing him to stumble backwards slightly.

    “Agh!” Josh screamed; wisps of pain shot through his body.

    “Round two!” Jonathan threw an uppercut; the Lava Golem mimicked him, shooting residual flames from its molten fingers. The punch crashed into Josh’s torso, toppling him over onto his back. [Josh LP: (5800 --> 2100)]

    “Josh!” Dave shouted, watching his friend fly past him.

    “Hahahaha! This is too much fun!” Jonathan relaxed his fists, Lava Golem did the same. Josh sat up, rubbing his head.

    Dave faced him, angered. “You’re sick! Picking on an innocent person – this is power play!”

    “You’re right.” Jonathan snickered, touching his pocket. “This is power play.” He eyed Josh, who had just started to stand again. “You can’t win. My cards are better, and my strategies are better. There’s no hope for you.”

    Dave stepped forward, gripping his hat. “That’s it.” He held up his arm, flashing his deactivated Duel Disk. “I’m not gonna stand here while my best friend gets slaughtered by a flaming thief!”

    Josh slowly lifted himself off the ground. His body ached everywhere. When he stood up a tight pain webbed on his shoulder blade. It probably bruised.

    Jonathan’s smile widened. “I think you will…” he whipped out the gun, shot two bullets in quick succession. Dave leapt as dirt flew up by his feet; his hat flew off his head as he came back down. He slammed onto his rear, the hat landing a few feet behind him.

    Josh got up, ran to his side. “Dave, no!”

    “Get outta the way!” Jonathan shouted, gesturing for him to move beside Grandpa.

    Dave carefully lifted himself off the ground.

    “Are you alright?” Josh whispered. This had gotten far more dangerous than he had ever dreamed.

    “Who cares about me?” Dave silently countered. “We can’t let him get away with this.” He slowly limped next to Grandpa, who helped him stabilize his balance.

    “I suggest you call it quits right here. I mean, why should I do any more harm to an innocent young boy like yourself?” Jonathan mocked. “The worst I’m gonna do is steal some cards. Why go through any more pain for a few pieces of cardboard?”

    What he said made sense. But…

    Josh sent a weak glance to the shop. Grandpa and Dave, both barely standing, were staring at him, hopeful, no… that wasn’t it. They were fearful. Their lives were at stake – and that was something he couldn’t risk anymore. He stared at the ground, contemplating his decision. Under his foot, he noticed something. Dave’s hat. He picked it up, holding it firmly.

    Jonathan watched on; raised an eyebrow.

    “I’ve had enough of this!” Josh yelled, putting Dave’s hat on his head. “I don’t care how good you are or how bad I suck, I refuse to lose to you!”

    Jonathan smirked. “Then show me what you got, boy!”

    “I activate Attack and Receive!” Josh outstretched his hand; the Trap Card rose on command. “When I take Battle Damage it sends 700 damage your way.”

    “Heh, so what?” [Jonathan LP: (3000 --> 2300)] “It’s not gonna make a difference in the long run. Now go.”

    Right. Josh held his hand on his deck, breathed in through his nose. So much pressure was on this next card. And – even if he drew a good one – he wasn’t sure he would be able to use it correctly.

    It’s now or never.

    He drew.

    A Spell Card, featuring a golden grail, rested in between his fingertips, staying there as he read it over. This might work… this might just work.

    “What are you waiting for?” Jonathan asked impatiently.

    Josh glared at him. “This!” He thrust the card into its slot. “I activate Cup of Ace!”

    The golden grail materialized in the center of the field, magically filling up with water in an instant.

    “Here’s how it works. The grail chooses one of us –” he pointed at himself, then at Jonathan, who listened intently – “and that player gets to draw two cards.”

    That’s a very risky move, Grandpa thought. It could easily backfire.

    Josh waved his arm. “Now, choose!”

    Silence swept across the playing field, followed by a light breeze that softly ruffled the trees. Everyone – Grandpa, Dave, Josh, Jonathan, and the giant creature towering over them – stared at the grail, expecting it to do something, but it never moved.

    At that moment, a leaf danced through the air, guided by the wind, aimlessly floating in spiraling wonder. It passed both duelists, who traced its path with their gaze, until it finally landed in the tiny pool of water.

    Both players leaned in to see.

    The leaf pointed to Josh.

    “Yes!”

    Dave and Grandpa, with renewed energy, high-fived each other, then gave Josh a thumbs-up. Josh returned it; the holographic grail disintegrated, though its water remained, flowed towards the chosen duelist.

    “Looks like I get the cards!”

    “Not like it’s gonna make a difference.” Jonathan shrugged.

    Josh slipped his two new cards out, tried to contain his eagerness. Both cards related to fire – Tremendous Fire, a Spell Card, and Raging Flame Sprite, a Monster Card. It wasn’t much, but now he knew what to do.

    He really knew!

    “Here we go!” Josh held out his next card. “First I activate Tremendous Fire!”

    Three light-blue pixies descended from above, holding small embers in each hand. They circled the field, throwing them down, setting the ground on fire. The flames scattered and spread, whipped around aimlessly without any hope for control.

    “Huh?” Jonathan backed up in his cage. “What is this?!”

    “Tremendous Fire, of course.” Josh smirked. His first real confident move. Ever. Dave couldn’t have been prouder. “When it’s activate you take 1000 damage while I only take 500!”

    Flames lashed out at Jonathan, slipping past the cage’s bars, searing his worn clothes. [Jonathan LP: (2300 --> 1300)] He clutched his chest, grabbing onto a nearby bar with another hand. On the other side, a wave of fire crashed over Josh, drowning him in the intense heat. [Josh LP: (2100 --> 1600)] He cocked his head upwards, resurfacing as the flames died out.

    Both players panted heavily, each glared at the other on the opposite side. Jonathan recomposed himself, and Josh adjusted Dave’s hat on his head.

    “Not bad, kid.” Jonathan sighed, transformed it to anger. “But don’t think a flashy spell is gonna turn things around.”

    Josh smiled. He had the lead now. And if he did his math right, Lava Golem would wipe out the rest of Jonathan’s Life Points in two turns. All he had to do was survive one last turn, and he would win.

    He would actually win.

    “I place a monster face-down and end my turn.” He set his Blue-Winged Crown card onto his Duel Disk, kept his hand against the brown backing.

    Just one more turn.

    “Alright,” Jonathan said, drawing. “And remember, with Solemn Wishes out, I gain 500 Life Points since I drew.” [Jonathan LP: (1300 --> 1800)]

    Josh’s heart stuttered. He did forget about that card. And, now that he rapidly recalculated, he realized he needed to survive two more turns, not one. He could do it.

    He had to.

    Come on Josh. You got this. Dave inhaled through his nose, held his breath.

    Believe Josh, Grandpa thought.

    Josh clutched his fist. I can do this.

    It’s all over, Jonathan thought, staring at the card in his hand. The second I discard this Volcanic Scattershot to activate Blaze Accelerator, he’ll lose nearly all of his Life Points... He lifted up the rest of his hand – specifically the monster he drew last turn. Then I’ll offer my Lava Golem to summon Volcanic Hammerer, which’ll wipe out the rest.

    Jonathan extended his arm, grinning madly. “This game is mine!”

    Josh tried to hide his fear, failed. Dave and Grandpa gasped.

    “I activate Blaz– ”

    “Groooo….”

    Huh?!

    Both players looked up at the groaning magma monster. It stood still; its animation froze and the lava once flowing down its body halted in place. Static rippled out of the monster, then the other holograms began to flicker as well.

    Josh looked on in disbelief. “What’s… going on?”

    “His monster,” Grandpa said, awestruck. “Its effect hasn’t activated yet…”

    “Groooa….”

    Lava Golem’s animation resumed – it lifted its arms, only to have them crash back onto the ground. The creature flickered and flashed, before it vaporized into nothing.

    “CARD READ ERROR,” Jonathan’s Card Analyzer said. “DAMAGE CALCULATOR DISENGAGED.” [Jonathan LP: (1800 --> 0)]

    NO!” Jonathan squealed, flailing his arms around like a mad ape. “How could this happen?! It must be a glitch!”

    Josh, though grateful, couldn’t help but stare at the defeated thief.

    Rage burst out of Jonathan’s eyes. “You!” He pulled out his gun again.

    Josh reflexively jolted back.

    “I will not be shown up by a rookie!” He tensed his hand, put pressure on the trigger.

    “Jonathan,” a voice said through a tiny speaker hidden in his ear. “That was me. I needed to get your attention.”

    Jonathan lowered the gun. A puzzled Josh sighed.

    “Return to me now. I need you for the next phase of our plan.”

    Josh, keeping his gaze on Jonathan’s gun, did his best to catch his breath.

    Calmly, Jonathan put it away. “I’ll get you next time.” He pulled something out of his pocket, threw it onto the ground. Sparks shot upward, creating a veil of smoke.

    “Wait!” Josh shouted, covering his eyes.

    The smoke cleared; he was gone.

    Dave ran to Josh’s side, with Grandpa walking behind him.

    “Are you okay?”

    “Who cares about me?” Josh said, laughing. “We’re alive – that’s all that matters!”

    Dave smiled, laughed too.

    “Here, I think this is yours.” Josh took off the hat, tossed it onto Dave’s head.

    “Thanks.” The camouflage teenage quickly readjusted it.

    “Josh!” Before Josh could even turn to look, Grandpa latched onto him. “You saved my shop!” He yelled tearfully. “How can I ever repay you?”

    Josh tried to shake him off. “It’s alrigh–”

    “I know!” Grandpa jumped off. “You said you wanted to build a deck, right? So I’ll give you a deck’s worth of cards, for free!”

    Josh nearly declined, when Dave intervened.

    “That’s sounds great.” He nudged Josh.

    Grandpa bowed, clapped his hands together. “Are there any specific kinds of cards you would like? I’ll fetch them out right now. Just say the word!”

    Uh... Josh put his hand on his chin. He may as well. Dave was gonna make him build one either way.

    “I did like those FIRE cards,” Josh finally said, looking between the two. “And I also like these bird cards I kept drawing.” He took his deck out of his Duel Disk. “But I don’t think there’s any card in my deck that’s strong enough to take on a huge monster like that Lava Golem, so I’m gonna need a card like that.”

    “You could base your deck around it, too.” Dave said. “Just like how I use Black Luster Soldier.”

    “Yeah.” Josh nodded. “Oh, that reminds me.” He started looking through his deck. “While I was dueling that guy we noticed my deck didn’t have a way to deal with Spells and Traps.”

    Grandpa nodded. “Right, you’ll definitely need to cover them.”

    Josh sifted through his cards again, noticed his Monster Reborn card. That’s when he remembered something else. Something Elisa had told him.

    “And I also like cards that Special Summon monsters, especially from the Graveyard.” He paused. “Is… that too much to ask?”

    Grandpa smiled widely, clapped his hands again. “Of course not! I have just the card.” He rushed back into the shop; the other two followed.

    He led them back to the customer service desk, where he began throwing boxes of cards over his shoulder, nearly hitting Josh in the head a few times with them.

    “Ah!” Grandpa shouted, lifted up a card from the wreckage. “Here it is.” He turned around, sacredly handed it to him.

    Josh took it with his fingertips, held it closer. It was a monster; a FIRE monster, too. The image itself depicted a phoenix majestically flapping its wings, with fire swirling from its head, wings and tail.

    “Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys,” he read aloud.

    “Yep, it’s a good card too,” Grandpa stated. “It can summon itself from the Graveyard if it’s destroyed by any means besides battle, and when it does – it wipes out all Spells and Traps on the field!”

    “That’s perfect!” Josh shouted, presenting the card to Dave. “Thanks Mr. Muto.”

    “No problem,” the old man winked. “And call me Grandpa.”

    “Come on,” Dave said, gesturing towards the pile of cards on the floor. “Let’s start building that deck.”


    ~*~*~*~​


    Darkness cascaded down the tall steel doors as they slowly creaked open. Jonathan, the size of an ant compared to the doors, cautiously entered, alarmed by the slamming doors behind him. Shadows enveloped the room, and, though this did not surprise him, his heart rate quickened like the gradual beat of a drum.

    “Hello, Jonathan.”

    Jonathan approached the voice near the opposite wall. He could see the base of the throne, as well as the rigid outline of his master, but the rest of his features were obscured by the shade.

    “Hello Master.” He bowed.

    The voice waited for Jonathan to face him before speaking. “I’m sure wondering why I cut off your little game.”

    “Yes.” He clutched his fists. “I had those cards in my hands, and there was no chance that that kid was gonna wi– ”

    “Relax, Jonny.”

    Jonathan suddenly looked up, loosened his grip.

    “I called you here because I have a use for your skills. You’re too important to fetch cards like an underling.”

    A grave expression crossed Jonathan’s face. “You mentioned ‘the next phase’ is in motion?”

    “Yes.” Jonathan could vaguely see a glimmer in his master’s eyes. “And I need your help, Jon.”


    ~*~*~*~


    Card Analyzer activated…

    Accessing Card Database… Searching for Card Data …

    … … …

    Internal Error:

    Cannot Access Card Database.​
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  4. UltimatePokemonExpert

    UltimatePokemonExpert Experienced Trainer

    Great chapter! Good to see that Josh is finally getting a deck. What deck do you run? I'm trying to run a Dragunity deck. Anyways, can I be on the PM list?
     
  5. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    You are added. :)

    I tend to jump around when it comes to the deck I use, but I usually go back to my Volcanic/CyberDragon synergy deck whenever I'm dueling on DN (which is the only way I actually duel anymore). I like exploiting small combos on a grand scale.
     
  6. CuriousHeartless

    CuriousHeartless Well-Known Member

    Great fic! I've already told you this actually, but it needs to be said again. A lot of Yu-Gi-Oh fics tend to be more shipping and/or card game unrelated for my tastes, but this is good. And bonus points for Shadow Ghoul appearances even if they are minor. The only real problem I've seen is that you called Vampire Lord a woman when it's a guy, but that's rather minor. Can I be put on the PM list?
     
  7. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    I've always made that mistake with monster genders, which is why I try to keep them as ambigious as possible, even for the obvious one like Black Luster Soldier.

    Thanks again. You're added to the list.
     
  8. Psychic Lunatone

    Psychic Lunatone <--The Handsome Rock

    Great Fic, add me to the PM list when you can :)!
     
  9. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    Chapter Fourteen

    “I summon Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys,” Josh said, laying the holographic card down, “and thanks to my Spark of Life card, we both take 300 damage.”

    Dave wagged a finger. “Nope. Spark of Life only works when a FIRE monster is Special Summoned. You Normal Summoned Nephthys, so nothing happens.”

    “Oh… right.”

    Josh bit his lip, scraping off a small piece of bread. Their cards took up most of the kitchen table, leaving just enough room for a cup and a plate of crumbs beside either deck. Josh scuffed his feet against the stone-tiled floor, tracing the outline its design with his big toe. His move, if it had been done correctly, would’ve been the first time he managed to effectively use a combo. But for now it was a silly mistake, having no impact on the course of the game.

    “Anyway, I’ll have it attack your face-down monster.”

    Dave flipped the lone horizontal card. “Obnoxious Celtic Guard, since Nephthys has more than 1900 ATK, it stays on the field.”

    Josh grumbled, though not out of discouragement. “Okay, your turn.”

    “Right,” Dave lifted a card from his deck, then placed a Spell Card below his Obnoxious Celtic Guard. “I activate Black Luster Ritual, allowing me to send Obnoxious Celtic Guard and the Gearfried the Iron Knight in my hand to summon Black Luster Soldier.”

    Josh watched him move his cards to the discard pile, trying to calculate a counter-strategy. Dave replaced Obnoxious Celtic Guard with the blue-bordered card, then pointed to Josh’s monster. “Black Luster Soldier attacks Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys.”

    Josh paused to examine the field. He looked to the two face-down cards he had before him, then to Dave’s watchful eyes, then to his hand. After a few moments of hesitation, he fanned his cards together.

    “I’m stuck.”

    Dave put down his cards and held out a hand to Josh. “Here, let me see.”

    Josh presented the cards, then flipped over all of the cards on the table. While Dave fumbled with them, Josh began to zone out.

    Those dreams he’d been having the past few nights were starting to get to him. Especially the one where he saw Dave dueling in a circle of fire. All he could do was shout, but that never did anything.

    He glanced back up at his friend, who was attentively analyzing the cards on the table. It was strange. He felt like they were still in danger even though they were clearly safe in their own kitchen. All that was left of yesterday’s incident was the throbbing pain from his bruises, serving as proof that he was still alive.

    As a reminder that he was still mortal.

    “Here we go,” Dave said; Josh returned his attention to the table. Dave touched a finger to two of the three cards Josh had face-down. One was a Spell Card, the other was a Trap. “First you activate this card to destroy your own Nephthys and gain some Life Points, then you activate this card to destroy my monsters and bring it back. Although you won’t be able to attack with it next turn, you’ll have destroyed my best monster and Spark of Life will inflict damage this time.”

    Josh scratched his head. “Uh, okay, I think I get it.” He softly rested his knuckles against the table. “I dunno if I’m gonna remember that later, though.”

    Dave picked his cards up again. “Don’t worry, this is a good combo. You could even activate it during your turn if your opponent has a lot of monsters out. Then, if you didn’t Normal Summon yet, you can attack directly with that monster.”

    Josh pointed to Dave’s hand. “But what if you destroy it with one of your Traps?”

    Dave smiled, presenting the Mirror Force he had face-down. “Remember, if Nephthys is destroyed by a card effect, it’ll come back anyway and destroy all Spell and Trap cards in the process. That’s the key factor to the card, so just base your combos around that and you should be set.”

    For a moment, Josh thought he understood, but his bruises reminded him of something else. “Yeah, but I dunno if I’m gonna remember that if I end up in a situation against a thug like Jonathan again.” He shrugged, collecting his cards together. Dave did the same. “I don’t know how you were so calm against that psycho receptionist, especially when the entire cafeteria was staring at you like that.”

    “I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself,” Dave said. “You did really well considering that was your first real duel, and the fact that you didn’t have a functioning deck yet.”

    “I guess.” He looked toward the window, saw the curtains ripple in the wind. “But what if I freeze up again? We’re talking about an entire stadium’s worth of people while I only had two people watching. If that happens while I’m held at gunpoint…” Josh dropped his gaze. “I dunno if I can handle the pressure.”

    Dave handed Josh his Card Analyzer. “Well, you shouldn’t need to worry about that. You’re practicing with me and, once you learn how to use your deck properly, you should be able to handle any opponent that comes your way. Besides, you can always update your deck so it adapts to new situations. I mean, even though the tournament’s over, I’ve made changes based on the opponents I’ve fought there.”

    Josh held the PDA weakly. “You know you’re not the best at motivational speeches, right?”

    Dave laughed, plopping his hat over his brown hair. “I know.” He glanced at the clock hanging above the refrigerator. “Twenty to twelve. We should head to KaibaCorp now.”

    “Yeah,” Josh slipped on his Duel Disk, tightening the strap as he got up.

    Dave nodded. “Let’s go.”


    ~*~*~*~​


    Kaiba glowered at the information flowing on his Card Analyzer. He stood in front of a glass wall; his reflection smeared by a glare streaking across it.

    This doesn’t make sense, Kaiba thought. No matter how many times I run the numbers through, the duel still falls in his favor. Adam could’ve won, and yet for some reason he took a dive instead.

    He snapped the deck-box section open; slid out a Blue-Eyes White Dragon.

    No one should be able to defeat the Blue-Eyes White Dragon except Yugi. That Dave kid only managed to do so because that bitchy psychopath decided to get her germs all over my cards. He strained his hand; his fingers pressed harder against the cardboard. He must have cheated somehow, that has to be it. There’s no other explanation...

    “Seto.”

    Kaiba, awakened from his daydream, pocketed his Card Analyzer before his brother could notice it. “Mokuba, have the finalists arrived?”

    “Not yet,” Mokuba said, shaking his black mop of hair. “Dave just called and said that he and his friend will be here in a few minutes.”

    Kaiba’s voice deepened. “And what about Adam?” He spat the name.

    “I haven’t heard from him.” Mokuba, noticing his brother’s apparent anger, stepped forward with sympathy. “I kinda hope he doesn’t show. What about you?”

    To Mokuba’s mild confusion, Kaiba turned back to his reflection. The glare was still there.

    “He better show.”

    “Right this way, gentleman.”

    A door opened; followed by the entry of the two college students. The first one, Dave, lifted his cap a bit by the rim, as if to get a better view, while the second one, Josh, stumbled behind, dragging his feet.

    So, the finalists are here. Kaiba stared at the door, waiting. Instead it shut, to his disappointment.

    “So this is Kaiba Corp,” Josh said, unconsciously gripping his sweatshirt zipper.

    “Enjoy the view while you can,” Kaiba said with little enthusiasm. “Once the testing ends this will probably be the last time you set foot in this room.” He turned his back to the wall, pulling his Card Analyzer out of his pocket. After clicking it into his Duel Disk, Kaiba glanced over his shoulder. “Got it?”

    Josh gulped, nodded.

    Kaiba looked away. “Good.”

    Unsure what to do next, Josh whispered to Dave, “And I thought Jonathan was violent.”

    Dave leaned closer to him, cupping his mouth. “At least Kaiba isn’t trying to kill you.”

    He thinks THAT’S violent? Kaiba thought, smirking. He should have seen what I did to that security room.

    In somber happiness, Kaiba sent his gazed down at his Duel Disk. He slid his finger across the top of his deck, swiping out the top three cards, revealing them to himself. Three Blue-Eyes White Dragons glimmered in a holographic light.

    If I ever see my dragons in the hands of another scumbag like that bitch receptionist, I’ll send him through hell and back. He slid the cards back to their rightful spot, in his deck. Then no one will touch them aga–

    The sound of a turning doorknob broke his train of thought. Kaiba turned, looking past both guests, who also gazed in the same direction.

    The door opened.

    “Sorry I’m late,” Adam said, closing the door behind him.

    A moment of tension swept the room.

    Josh looked from Dave, who seemed anxious to start the tests, to Kaiba, who, along with his brother, only glared at Adam. He followed their gaze, observing the silent man in gray and black. Strangely enough, Josh noticed, he wore the exact same clothes he wore yesterday.

    Then again, I don’t exactly have the biggest wardrobe either. He glanced down at his fiery red sweatshirt. His favorite sweatshirt. The one that became filthy from falling a thousand times during his duel yesterday.

    “Alright,” Mokuba said, breaking the silence. He walked over to the finalists, handing them three booster packs each. “We’re gonna start the testing in a sec. But first, we have to go over the rules.”

    “Rules?” Dave asked, accepting his booster packs.

    Mokuba nodded. “This testing isn’t just going to be an ordinary duel. It’s gonna be a Tag Duel – a dueling style that, until now, was only seen in unofficial play at best.”

    “Oh, I see.” Dave started to open his packs, when Josh nudged him.

    “Uh, Dave,” Josh said. “What’s a Tag Duel?”

    “Exactly what it sounds like,” he answered. “It’s when two players duel as a team against two other players.”

    “That’s right,” Mobuka interjected. “But since Tag Duels were only done casually, no official rules were ever laid down. Until the president of Industrial Illusions –” Josh guessed that was the company that made the game “– decided to create cards specifically for Tag Duels only.”

    “Strange,” Adam said, sifting through the new cards. “So these cards are only good when dueling with a partner, huh?”

    “Yep.” Mokuba nodded. “In a normal duel, they’d be totally worthless.”

    “So.” Adam took out his deck, swapping some cards with the ones he just obtained. “You said there were new rules?”

    “Oh, right.” Mokuba coughed. “First, instead of starting out with 8000 Life Points, each player will have 4000 Life Points.”

    Makes sense, Josh thought. Then again, hardly anything about this game made sense.

    “To make sure that no one scores a direct attack unfairly, everyone has to wait a full round before anyone can declare an attack. Other than that, it’s basically a normal duel, just with more players to worry about. If you happen to lose, you’re eliminated from the duel, but your partner will keep playing normally.”

    “So then it becomes two vs. one?” Dave asked. The challenge intrigued him.

    “Yeah.” Mokuba started motioning for the duelists to follow to a doorway nearby. “And, not only that, but every card your partner used is still accounted for. Field, Graveyard, banished cards – pretty much everything except for their hand and deck.”

    Adam grinned. “I like this so far.”

    Mokuba opened the door, allowing both duelists to enter. As they did, several overhead lights flashed on, illuminating a pale room with two triangular machines fused into the wall.

    “You’ll be dueling these two Duelbots to test the cards,” Mokuba said. “Careful, ‘cause they’re pretty tough.” He closed the door, leaving the two to quietly walk to their posts.

    Mokuba returned to his brother, who stood next to a window looking into the large pale room. Josh walked to it, avoiding eye contact with the duo. He didn’t feel comfortable around Kaiba. But then again, he didn’t feel comfortable at all ever since he slammed his back.

    The two machines whirred, powering on with an abrupt thump. Levers lifted them, driving them closer to their human opponents.

    “INITIATE DUEL MODE. DRAW FIVE CARDS.”

    Dave swung his Duel Disk platform’s together, slipping out a few cards from his deck and fanning them out in one motion. He looked at both of the Duelbots, watching the backs of ten cards flash along their screens. Then, he turned to Adam, who had already dug himself into his hand.

    From the observation window, Kaiba and Mokuba watched them together, with Josh standing in opposite the corner. Mokuba stepped aside, pulled out a Card Analyzer which filled with flowing numbers.

    “All duel functions are normal. Beta testing is going to begin. You guys ready?”

    Josh saw both duelists nod from afar.

    Mokuba walked closer to Kaiba, then pressed a button at the bottom of the windowsill. “Alright, here we go.”

    While Mokuba finished entering some final commands, Kaiba stared at both duelists intently. First, Dave; the duelist who found a weak point in Kaiba’s deck, and took advantage of it so he could come out on top. Of course, that wouldn’t have happened if Kaiba had dueled instead – the receptionist had gotten way too cocky.

    Then, there was Adam. A punk who came out of nowhere. He breezed his way through the tournament, only to disappear once a crisis broke out. Kaiba glared at him. Adam brushed the red strand of hair away from his nose, then looked back at the computer terminals before him. For a brief second, Kaiba thought he saw a streak of sweat slip down the side of his face.

    At that moment it hit him.

    Was he the cause?

    [Dave LP: (4000)] [Adam LP: (4000)]
    Vs.
    [CompA LP: (4000)] [CompB LP: (4000)]​

    “TURN START. DRAW CARD,” the leftmost machine droned in a female voice. A sixth card flashed onto its screen, only for two to fade away almost immediately. “SET SPELL/TRAP CARD, THEN SUMMON MONSTER – TRUSTING SEATURTLE.”

    A cartoonish turtle-shell dropped from the ceiling, spinning as it fell. Then, the turtle gleefully slid its head and limbs out of its shell. (1000/100)

    “TURN END.”

    Josh leaned his face against the window. If the whole duel is this monotone I’m gonna go insane. He darted his eyes toward the two brothers to find Kaiba staring at him. Suddenly self-conscience, Josh backed away from the window.

    Even after Mokuba had returned his attention to the duel, Kaiba continued to stare at Josh, watching the college student rub his face. Something’s off about him, but what is it?

    On the duel floor, Adam stepped forward. “Alright, my draw.”

    With another card added to his collection, Adam withdrew into his hand, analyzing his options. Dave, figuring it would be a while before his turn started, decided to do the same.

    His hand was excellent. Not only did he have both Black Luster Soldier and Black Luster Ritual, but also had Gearfried the Iron Knight and Obnoxious Celtic Guard; two monsters he could use for the Ritual Summon. Then, he could Normal Summon his final card – Black Luster Warrior – and Synchro Summon them together to get Black Luster General out on his first turn. And that wasn’t even taking any new cards into consideration! Since no one was allowed to attack until a full round has been completed, he could use Black Luster General’s destruction effect without any drawbacks. Maybe he could even give Adam an opportunity for a direct attack!

    Dave smiled. Nothing can ruin this.

    At last, Adam called out, “I activate Card Destruction.”

    With a startled jerk, Dave turned to Adam, audibly expressing his displeasure. He looked to the Duelbots; both of their ‘hand screens’ emptied, then refilled themselves one by one. Overcome with disappointment, Dave reluctantly discarded what was probably the best hand he had ever drawn.

    “I’ll use Pot of Greed to draw two more cards, and then summon Fallen Hero Avian from my Graveyard.” He held a hand up to the ceiling. “Rise!”

    A gust of wind swirled around Adam, forming a small twister that guided a green streak of light out of his Duel Disk. The light transformed, and the humanoid monster gracefully hovered above, its shadow falling onto the tiny turtle. (1000/1000)

    “Then I finish by playing one card face-down.”

    The card replicated itself by Adam’s feet, and the computer ahead of Dave began beeping and buzzing.

    “TURN START. DRAW CARD,” a masculine, robotic voice said. “SUMMON TRUSTING DRAGON IN ATTACK POSITION.”

    In a small bundle of flames, a dragon with babyish-looking eyes rose. It unfolded its wings, happy to be alive. (1700/1200)

    Josh allowed himself an innocent smile. That thing’s adorable. How could such a lifeless robot use such fun-filled cards. With his peripheral vision, he could see Kaiba roll his eyes.

    That monster doesn’t look too hard to beat. Adam should be able to take care of it before I get my second turn. Dave looked to the Draining Shield in his hand, then looked at Adam. Still, I need to send a message to him. Maybe if I protect his cards he’ll realize that we need to work together.

    “EFFECT APPLIED – TRUSTING SEATURTLE.”

    “Huh?” Dave looked at the leftmost robot in confusion.

    Adam remained unmoved.

    “TRUSTING SEATURTLE GIVES 400 ATK AND DEF TO ALL MONSTERS PARTNER CONTROLS.”

    The tiny sea turtle, after hopping twice, released a flurry of bubbles out of its mouth, which drifted towards the second computer’s field. Upon seeing the bubbles, Trusting Dragon reached for them with an outstretched claw, then cradled it in childish wonder. (1700 --> 2100/1200 --> 1600)

    “SET TWO SPELL/TRAP CARDS. TURN END.”

    Dave frowned. While it hadn’t grown that much stronger, it was still strong enough to be a threat. I need to get a Black Luster Soldier out, then we can claim control. With renewed determination, he drew. “I summon Black Luster Warrior!”

    The youthful warrior leaped out of its card hologram, nearly dropping its sword in the process. (1600/1000)

    He took out his Draining Shield, poised to play it. “I’ll set one card face-down.” He slid it in, then looked to his partner.

    Adam waited patiently.

    Dave turned back to his artificial opponents. “I end my turn.”

    “TURN START,” the feminine robot rang out almost immediately, alarming Josh slightly. “DRAW CARD.”

    Josh recomposed himself. His shoulder still hurt. He touched it to ease the pain, but that only caused his eye to twitch.

    Kaiba, suspicious of Josh’s strange behavior, examined him again. His sweatshirt seemed dirty and he looked like he was about to fall over.

    That kid looks a little beat up, Kaiba thought. He remembered seeing him at the tournament; he was the kid who gave that cheesy friendship speech before Dave made his final move. But there was something different about him this time.

    Then he saw the kid’s Duel Disk – a tiny piece of the platform had chipped off, probably from scrapping against the ground. He duels too. That’s strange, he didn’t have a Duel Disk when we were at the KaibaDome. Trying to take his mind off him, Kaiba looked back through the window, where he saw the first Duelbot summon a cartoony warrior that looked like it came straight out of one of Pegasus’s fairytales.

    “TRUSTING SOLDIER ATTACKS FALLEN HERO AVAIN.”

    As it was told, the cartoon warrior rushed at the airborne hero, preparing to jump.

    “No you don’t!” Dave yelled, pressing a button. “I activate Draining Shield to negate your attack and heal my Life Points!”

    Just as the warrior kicked off, a glowing blue shield materialized by Avian’s feet, creating a forcefield around it. When the warrior swiped its sword at the barrier, sparkles flew off, which gently showered Dave’s part of the room. [Dave LP: (4000 --> 5500)]

    Adam turned to Dave, nodded with somber appreciation.

    Dave nodded back. Looks like he got the message.

    “ACTIVATE EFFECT OF TRUSTING DRAGON.”

    Both humans perked up, turned to the robot. The cartoon dragon flexed its wings, stretching its body with an adorable roar. It looked to the female-voiced robot, then triumphantly banged its claws against the ground.

    Adam held his Duel Disk close. “What in the?”

    “EACH TURN AN ATTACK MAY BE DECLARED BY TRUSTING DRAGON EVEN IF IT IS ON PARTNER’S SIDE OF FIELD.”

    Dave, shocked, watched the dragon angle its body as flames ignited in its mouth, then traced the attack’s path with his eyes. At the other end, Adam gritted his teeth.

    “TRUSTING DRAGON ATTACKS FALLEN HERO AVAIN.”

    Trusting Dragon flung its head back, swinging it forward to propel a fireball at Adam’s monster. Avain brought its wings together to block, only to set its feathers ablaze, eventually searing its entire body before Adam’s eyes.

    Dave felt the warmth of the flames fluttering on his skin. So that’s the key to these ‘Trusting’ cards – they enable both players to use them regardless of who actually controls them. He looked to each of his opponents’ monsters, counted three. So each turn we’ll have to worry about twice the amount of monsters as usual.

    “ACTIVATE QUICK-PLAY SPELL CARD – FOUL PLAY,” the male robot droned; in response, a card rose behind the dragon. “WHEN ACTIVATED, BOTH OPPONENTS TAKE DAMAGE FROM ATTACK.”

    Adam and Dave simultaneously looked to each other, then to their Card Analyzers, where they saw their Life Points fall. [Dave LP: (5500 --> 4400)] [Adam LP: (4000 --> 2900)]

    “TRUSTING SEATURTLE ATTACKS PLAYER ADAM PRINCE DIRECTLY.”

    Trusting Seaturtle withdrew into its shell with glee, and rammed straight into Adam’s stomach. While the turtle rolled back to its post, Adam bent over, groaning. [Adam LP: (2900 --> 1900)]

    Kaiba smirked.

    “SET ONE SPELL/TRAP CARD. END TURN.”

    Dammit. Dave glanced over his hand. We need better tactics.

    Adam slowly stood up straight, weakly clutching onto his deck. “I’m not gonna lose to a machine. My draw.” He slid out a card, pointing to his face-down, which rose on cue. “I activate Fine, so I discard two cards.” He held his Duel Disk parallel to his chest; a card shot out. “Rise – Fallen Hero Clayman!”

    The metal floor gave way to a large, jagged boulder that shot out of the ground. Without warning, it burst open, and the bulky hero stood in its place, boldly holding up its fists as rubble rained down. (800/2000)

    Kaiba grunted. So the mighty Adam is on the defensive now. That figures. He cast his gaze onto Dave, then on the monsters in front of both of them. Even a cheater can’t handle two opponents at once. And Dave, clearly, doesn’t cheat. At least he has morals. Kaiba stared at Adam as the duelist played another card down.

    “Then I activate Result Scoreboard.”

    A green-bordered card rose, depicting a football stadium scoreboard with various numbers and lights dotted across it.

    Adam stepped forward. “This card affects each of us depending on the number of Life Points we each have.”

    Dave intently observed the card as Adam explained. Wait, each of us?

    Adam pointed to hologram. “The player in ‘last’ gains 3000 Life Points, the player in ‘first’ loses 1000 Life Points, and everyone else draws one card.”

    Soaking in this information, Dave looked to his Card Analyzer. His muscles tightened. Wait a minute…!

    From above, a football plowed downward into Dave, sending a barrage of confetti flying in every direction. Dave clutched the rim of his hat to keep his composure steady. [Dave LP: (4400 --> 3400)] Meanwhile, Adam held out his Duel Disk-equipped arm, allowing the colorful pieces of paper to shower it. [Adam LP: (1900 --> 4900)] On the opposite side of the field, the two robots whirred, and the image of another brown-backed card appeared on their hand monitors.

    The last of the confetti fell, and Adam, content with his move, put a hand near his hip. “Turn end.”

    Dave grumbled, glaring at Adam as he shook confetti off his clothes. So much for teamwork…

    What the hell was that? Josh thought. It’s like he didn’t care that Dave took the hit.

    Not only that, Kaiba thought, also glaring at Adam, but he gave his opponents an advantage by giving them an extra draw. That was a reckless and selfish move.

    “TURN START! DRAW CARD!”

    Just as the image of a new card appeared on the masculine robot, another immediately faded away.

    “SUMMON TRUSTING ELF IN ATTACK POSITION.”

    A small elf cartwheeled into position; somehow its green hat stayed in place the entire time. (900/300) When the elf saw the bubbles overhead, it reached up and grabbed one, partaking in the same wonder the dragon had a turn earlier. (900 --> 1300/300 --> 700)

    “NEW EFFECT IS APPLIED,” the robot droned. “THE ATK AND DEF OF TRUSTING ELF INCREASES BY 200 FOR EACH ‘TRUSTING’ MONSTER ON THE FIELD.”

    The elf released the bubble from its grip, allowing it to drift around its comrades. They each eyed the bubble, watching it float past them, grinning as it encircled its owner. (1300 --> 2100/700 --> 1500)

    Dave clenched his teeth. Dammit. Now they have four monsters compared to our two.

    The elf then sent its gaze in Dave’s direction, smirking at the young warrior in front of him.

    “TRUSTING ELF ATTACKS BLACK LUSTER WARRIOR.”

    Trusting Elf tumbled towards Dave’s monster at unrealistic speeds, leaving a trail of dust in its wake.

    Black Luster Warrior lifted its sword, gripping it with both hands.

    Make that one.

    “I activate my Trap!”

    Dave, as well as the three onlookers, turned in awe as Adam’s face-down card rose. They all thought the same thing.

    He’s actually helping?

    “Negate Attack!”

    Just as Black Luster Warrior lowered its sword to block, the elf miraculously tumbled into a warphole which spat it back out in the other direction. Unaware of this turn of events, the elf uncurled its body, and dizzily stood up. Dave sent a puzzled look to his partner. Adam answered with a cold smile, only to transform it into a frown seconds later. He returned his attention to the robot, whose voice boomed out as if nothing happened.

    “TURN END.”

    “My draw.” Dave couldn’t help but wonder. Was Adam really willing to work as a team? Or, is he just keeping him in the game long enough to take them both down himself?

    Either way, he thought, already deciding what to play. If we want to win we’ll have to cover each other’s weak points. Adam’s good at deflecting blows, but he can’t do this. He placed a card onto his Duel Disk vertically.

    A small boulder, reaching about Dave’s waist in height, rose from the floor, serving as protection for the warrior that hopped down from the ceiling, falling into a crouching position. The warrior’s helmet and armor each had Black Luster Soldier’s signature colors, and its binoculars glittered under the room’s lighting. (900/500)

    What’s this? Kaiba admired the crouched monster. A new Black Luster card?

    Josh smiled softly. So that must one of the ‘updates’ Dave was talking about.

    “When my Black Luster Scout is summoned, two Black Luster Counters are placed on it.”

    The binocular’s lenses shone, glowing with a dark-blue glare skimming across the glass. (Counters: 2)

    “And, with its effect, I can remove one of them to check one of your Set cards. And I’ll do this twice!”

    The scout stood up slightly, still keeping most of its body out-of-view from its opponents’ monsters. Taking its binoculars to its eyes, it gazed over at the opposite field, causing the dark-blue tint of the lenses to disappear.

    On the far left, near the seaturtle, the binoculars exposed one of the face-down cards to be a Trap Card, featuring a warrior linked to a dragon by shackles and chains. On the other side, closest to the elf, a Spell Card was revealed, and Dave recognized the festive wok in its picture.

    Mystic Wok. That card shouldn’t be a problem. But the other one… I’ve never seen that card before. He checked his Card Analyzer to look it over.

    “Card Analyzer activated… Searching for card data… Data Found:

    Chained Destiny
    [Trap]
    Pay 700 Life Points. Select 2 monsters on the field. If one of those monsters is destroyed, destroy the other monster. This effect lasts until the End Phase of the turn it was activated.”​

    Chained Destiny. He looked back to the brown card laying on CompA’s field. That card can easily take out any card we have. But, knowing computers, they’ll probably activate it immediately, so I better spring the trap before it can harm us later.

    Dave tugged a card out of his hand, flipping it over. “I equip my Black Luster Warrior with Black Luster Sword!”

    As Black Luster Warrior’s sword dematerialized, a new sword formed itself around its fingertips. It cradled the blue handle in its hand, and the five gems lit up. (Counters: 5); (1600 --> 2600/1000)

    Dave observed each of the four cartoon monsters carefully before speaking again. Just in case they don’t activate it, I better take down the strongest monster they have.

    He looked over both of the first robot’s monsters, but realized that they were too weak to be any threat. Then, he looked to the dragon and the elf. He had to pick one of them.

    Let’s see. If I attack Trusting Elf, I’ll be able to get rid of a monster whose power can potentially increase by 2000, assuming they somehow flood the field with Trusting cards. He bit his lip. But then again, that’s very unlikely. Besides, if I take out Dragon, Elf’s power will drop.

    “Black Luster Warrior.” The warrior, as if caught slacking, tightened its grip on its new sword and assumed a serious expression. “Destroy that Trusting Dragon!”

    Grasping tightly onto its new blade, the warrior charged at the dragon, determined to slay its head.

    “TRUSTING DRAGON EFFECT IS APPLIED.”

    Dave broke out in a cold sweat. I forgot about its second effect! How could I be so stupid!

    “TRUSTING DRAGON ENABLES ITS CONTROLLER TO ACTIVATE SET SPELL/TRAP CARDS CONTROLLED BY PARTNER. ACTIVATE CHAINED DESTINY!”

    “ACTIVATE OTHER FACE-DOWN CARD,” the feminine robot droned. “FRIENDLY LOAN. WHEN PARTNER ACTIVATES A CARD THAT REQUIRES A COST, FRIENDLY LOAN’S CONTROLLER CAN PAY IT INSTEAD.” The robot paused. “700 LIFE POINTS PAID FOR COST.” [CompA LP: (4000 --> 3300)]

    “CHAINED DESTINY TARGETS TWO MONSTERS ON FIELD. IF ONE IS DESTROYED, THE OTHER IS DESTROYED.”

    Two streaks of chains shot out, one end wrapping around Black Luster Warrior’s ankle. The other end, to Dave’s surprise, ensnared the feminine robot’s Trusting Soldier. When the chains finished binding each monster, the center piece flung out, revealing that they were attached by one long chain.

    Black Luster Warrior continued its assault, hurling its sword through the air, swinging it at the dragon’s wing. Although it sliced straight through, the dragon appeared unaffected by the hit. [CompB LP: (4000 --> 3500)]

    “What in the,” Josh whispered. He twitched a bit when he remembered the pain in his shoulder, and rolled it back to stretch.

    Out of the corner of his eye, Kaiba saw him squirm uncomfortably, but immediately turned back to the duel. That kid is hiding something.

    “ACTIVATE TRUSTING SOLDIER’S EFFECT.”

    Dave’s eyes widened. Adam coughed, which reflexively caused Dave to turn to him.

    Adam… knew this would happen?

    “WHEN A ‘TRUSTING’ MONSTER WOULD BE DESTROYED, TRUSTING SOLDIER DESTROYS ITSELF INSTEAD.”

    In a prideful manner, Trusting Soldier dove in front of Trusting Dragon as Black Luster Warrior swung its blade. Trusting Dragon gasped once it saw its ally fall, clanking against the ground with a theatrical scream. [CompB LP: (4000 --> 3500)]

    Trusting Elf, saddened by the loss of its friend, shed a tear. (2100 --> 1900/1500 --> 1300)

    Dave glowered at the elf. At least something was accomplished. A face-down card appeared behind his Scout. “I end my turn.”

    “TURN START. DRAW CARD.”

    Josh grunted. Okay, I’m sick of the monotone voices already!

    “SUMMON TRUSTING PETBIRD IN DEFENSE POSITION.”

    A birdcage comedically crashed onto the floor, causing the tiny yellow bird inside to flutter around, panic-stricken. To prevent itself from getting hit by the bars, the bird perched on the tiny swing near the roof of the cage. (1000/400)

    Seeing the bird struggle made Trusting Elf chuckle. It wiped away its tears, strengthened by joy. (1900 --> 2100/1300 --> 1500)

    “TRUSTING ELF CAN DECLARE ATTACK EVEN WHILE ON PARTNER’S FIELD.”

    The elf stepped up; Dave frowned. I can’t let it destroy any of our cards. He put a finger on his face-down card, closed his eyes.

    “TRUSTING ELF ATTACKS FALLEN HERO CLAYMAN.”

    Adam grinned. “Clayman’s effe–”

    “I activate my face-down card!” Dave yelled. “No Entry!!”

    Adam, confused, watched a parade of police officers march out of the Trap Card, creating a blockade between the elf and his Fallen Hero. They appeared to chastise each of the cartoon animals, forcing them to kneel before they stormed back where they came from.

    A little unnecessary, since Adam’s monster could’ve stopped the attack by itself. But then again, it did save Adam a monster he might need later. That, Kaiba smirked, and it took a much-deserved blow at his ego.

    “SET ONE SPELL/TRAP CARD. TURN END.”

    Adam lightly slid out a card from his deck. “My turn, then,” he said quietly. He took a second to look at his drawn card, then threw it down. “I activate Double Grave Ceremony.”

    Two tombstones, one on each side of Adam, burst out of the ground, slowing rising as rubble rolled off them. They came to a halt, and Adam held his Duel Disk over his head.

    “This allows me to summon an extra ‘Fallen’ monster each turn. So rise – Fallen Hero Avian!”

    A small twister swirled from the red slot, and the winged hero spiraled out, extending its wings as it landed. (1000/1000)

    “Now,” Adam kept his arm up as he spoke. He eyed the rugged monster with intent. “I’ll sacrifice my Fallen Hero Clayman to summon the Fallen Flame Swordsman!”

    Clayman stood up, pumping its fists, which somehow caused it to light on fire. In its place, the red horn-helmeted warrior appeared, channeling the remaining flames into the tip of its sword. (1800/1600)

    “I’ve been saving this card for a while.” Adam lowered his arm; its shadow slipped off his face, onto his torso. “Time for a Synchro Summon.”

    Right, Dave thought, eying Avian. That monster’s a Tuner. So a Level Three Tuner with a Level Five non-Tuner… He recalled Adam’s last duel, where he summoned Fallen Red-Eyes Black Dragon.

    Wait a minute. He turned to Adam, who solemnly stared at his two monsters.

    Kaiba crossed his arms with interest. Last time he summoned a Level Seven monster, but this time he has the materials for a Level Eight.

    Josh stepped closer to the glass, resting his hand on the windowsill. What’s he summoning?

    “I tune my two Fallen monsters in order to summon the most powerful creature in my deck, stronger than any other.” He turned his gaze, aiming it to his right.

    At first, Dave thought he was staring at him, but then he realized that he wasn’t – he was staring at the wall, through the window.

    At Kaiba.

    Kaiba glared back at Adam’s eyes, annoyed anger building with each passing second. He was about to yell over the intercom to continue when Adam looked away.

    Avain kicked off the ground, gently hovering over Fallen Flame Swordsman as light as a feather. Slowly descending, Avain converted into three pale rings, which surrounded the swordsman in a transparent cylinder. For a moment nothing happened, but then the swordsman’s body turned blue, and its form changed to five bright stars. A beam of light shot up and struck the ceiling, resulting in the formation of dozens of storm clouds. For a brief second, Dave could’ve sworn he saw static charge across the skyline.

    Josh looked to each person in a jagged, confused pattern. Adam, Kaiba, Mokuba, Dave – all who kept their gazes transfixed on the swirling blue clouds above. Dave’s clothes rippled with the dark wind; he held his hat to prevent it from being blown away.

    A muffled roar could be heard, slowly becoming louder as the clouds separated. A hole opened up in the sky, and a blue streak of lightning shot down with another ear-splitting growl.

    “Synchro Summon!” Adam held out his arms to the heavens. “Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon!”

    “What the hell!” Kaiba uncrossed his arms, slamming both hands onto the windowsill, causing it to bend slightly. “How is that possible!?”

    Mokuba tried to speak to him, but Kaiba didn’t respond.

    Josh’s heart pounded against his chest – any pain he felt before could not compare to the shock he felt now. Kaiba glared the clouds, cursing at them with his eyes. Mokuba, tugging on his brother’s arm, continued to stare at that same spot.

    Dave, through the lightning and wind, saw the terrifying blue creature floating in a majestic aura, and, at that moment, he knew it was true.

    The Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon was real.


    ~*~*~*~


    Card Analyzer activated…
    Accessing Card Database… Searching for Card Data …
    … Data Found:


    Black Luster Scout
    ***
    [Dark]
    [Warrior/Effect]
    (900/500)
    When this card is summoned, place 2 Black Luster Counters on this card(max.10). By removing 1 Black Luster Counter, look at one face-down card on your opponent’s side of the field and return it to its original position (effects are not activated as this time). By removing 2 Black Luster Counters, pick up the top card on your opponent’s deck, look at it, and return it to its original position. Your opponent cannot look at the card.


    Friendly Loan
    [Trap]
    Activate during a Tag Duel when your partner is about to pay a cost. You pay that cost instead. Then, draw 1 card.


    Trusting Soldier
    ****
    [Earth]
    [Warrior/Effect]
    (1500/1000)
    During a Tag Duel, this monster can be used for battle by both its controller and their partner. Also, if a monster on your partner’s side of field would be destroyed, you may destroy this card instead. During a Normal Duel, this card is treated as a Normal Monster and the previous effects are ignored.​
     
  10. UltimatePokemonExpert

    UltimatePokemonExpert Experienced Trainer

    I'm glad you decided to continue this fanfic, I love it. Now I want to see Kaiba destroy that guy. Haha!
     
  11. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    Thanks again for the support. Don't worry, I'm not giving on this fic for a while. Anyway, here's the next chapter.


    Chapter Fifteen


    The swirling clouds dispersed gradually, seemingly blending into the ceiling as the newly summoned dragon descended. Its great size cast a shadow over its master, Adam, as well as Dave, who stood next to him alongside his Black Luster Scout (900/500). The scout lightly grasped the rock it hid behind, dropping its jaw upon seeing the great winged beast.

    Josh couldn’t believe his eyes. No one could. Even though he and the Kaiba brothers were safely behind the observation window, they couldn’t escape the terrifying roar the powerful dragon emitted. If its two opponents weren’t robots, they probably would’ve cowered away.

    As the winds died down, Dave regained his composure. “Is… that really…”

    A subtle grin passed over Adam’s jawline. “Yes.” He looked up, relishing the moment. “The Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon!” (3000/2500)

    Kaiba slammed his hands against the windowsill, causing it to dent slightly. Mokuba tried to restrain him, but his brother’s rage intensified.

    “Who the hell does that bastard think he is?” Kaiba growled. “Summoning a cheap Blue-Eyes rip-off in my presence!” He thrust his shoulder, knocking Mokuba’s hand away in the process. “Get him outta here! This scumbag overstayed his welcome a long time ago.”

    Mokuba sighed. “We can’t Seto.” He waited a moment for his brother to respond. Kaiba did so by exhaling heavily through his nose. “We promised Pegasus that we’d finish testing his cards, and we haven’t gathered enough data to give a decent report.”

    “Fine.” Kaiba turned to Josh (who had been silently cowering in the corner since Kaiba began his outburst), eying him with scorn, then tossed his hateful gaze through the window, at Adam.

    Speaking of Pegasus, Mokuba thought. Why would he make a new Blue-Eyes monster without even telling Seto? He knows how he feels about them, so why keep it a secret?

    Dave watched the dragon hover over its owner, fanning its wings as if to protect him. It growled at the Duelbots scornfully. Despite the dramatic emphasis, Adam gave no indication that he noticed others’ reactions. Instead, he kept his cold gaze on his opponents, pointing to a now-risen Trap Card before him.

    “Go, Ring of Destruction. Destroy the Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon!”

    “What!” Kaiba shouted, with the same surge of rage as before. Everyone shared similar reactions, watching the tire form around the dragon’s neck with the same awe. The tire ignited, and exploded before Dave could even process what had happened, covering the entire room in a veil of smoke.

    [Dave LP: (3400 --> 400)] [Adam LP: (4900 --> 1900)]
    Vs.
    [CompA LP: (3300 --> 300)] [CompB: (3500 --> 500)]​

    Josh’s eyes searched the room, trying to find any sign of the players. At last, Dave’s faint silhouette made its way into view, slowly followed by his robotic opponents.

    Kaiba and Mokuba watched in wonder, waiting patiently for the remained of the smoke to clear. As expected, Adam reemerged, unchanged by the blast. But that’s not what caught their attention – as the final wisp vaporized, the dragon flexed its wings, ridding itself of the destroyed tire. It descended, shielding its master once again.

    “That can’t be,” Josh whispered. Mokuba nodded in agreement.

    Adam, seemingly aware of their question, answered. “Thanks to Fallen Blue-Eyes’ special ability, it can’t be destroyed by card effects.”

    Dave raised an eyebrow. “But if that’s the case then our Life Points shouldn’t have gone down.” He presented his Duel Disk in annoyed manner.

    Adam didn’t even look. “Fallen Blue-Eyes acts as if it were destroyed, but doesn’t leave the field as a result.”

    Dave let out a huff. Selfish bastard, you just took a huge piece of my Life Points away. All for a flashy play!

    “Now, Blue-Eyes, attack their Trusting Dragon!”

    Kaiba glowered at Adam. No one commands a Blue-Eyes except me!

    The Fallen Blue-Eyes spat out a blast of energy. Waves of pale blue light rippled its way across the air, building momentum until it obliterated the unsuspected dragon.

    “ACTIVATE TRAP CARD,” the female robot yelled. “ENCHANTED JAVELIN INCREASES LIFE POINTS BY ATTACKING MONSTER’S ATK.” [CompA LP: (300 --> 3300)]

    “ACTIVATE QUICK-PLAY SPELL CARD,” its male counterpart said. “MYSTIC WOK TRIBUTES TRUSTING ELF TO INCREASE LIFE POINTS BY ATK VALUE.”

    A bowl of soup materialized over the elf, boiling it to bits. [CompB LP: (500 --> 2600)] The bowl simultaneously deteriorated with the beam pouring over it. Within seconds, nothing remained except a large black stain on the floor.

    Dammit, Dave thought. Both of our opponents recovered more than half of their original Life Points within one turn. He glared at the ‘400’ that lit up his meter. Meanwhile, I’m struggling just to stay in the game.

    “To finish things off, I’ll activate Hand Unity, which lets both me and Dave use cards in each other’s hands.”

    Dave rolled his eyes. Holographic cards emitted out of his Card Analyzer, showing the cards in Adam’s hand. And vice versa.

    “With that, my turn ends.”

    About time. Mokuba looked up at his brother, who kept his stiff stance since the smoke cleared.

    “TURN START. DRAW CARD.”

    Josh uneasily gritted his teeth. This is getting a bit too tense. He fumbled with his sweatshirt zipper to calm himself. If everyone keeps getting angry at each other like this, losing a duel is gonna be the least of their worries.

    “SUMMON TRUSTING CHANTER.”

    From the ashes, a mystical man rose, gleefully dancing off the dust and tipping its tophat out of respect. Trusting Seaturtle’s bubbles made their way towards it, which the chanter scooped up under its cap. (1300 --> 1700/900 --> 1300)

    “SET ONE FACE-DOWN SPELL/TRAP CARD. TURN END.”

    Back to me. Dave drew indignantly. Perfect. He looked upward at the dragon towering over the other monsters, demanding respect from them. If he’s gonna be greedy about this duel, then I’ll make him share.

    “I activate Trusted Ally.” The Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon rose slightly, drifting away from Adam and in between himself and Dave, much to Adam’s surprise. Dave gave a satisfied smirk. “With this, either one of us can use Fallen Blue-Eyes.” Without looking away, he played another card.

    Black Luster Guard took its position beside Black Luster Scout, lifting its rectangular shield defensively. (200/1800) The shield’s four gems lit up, and almost immediately three of them went out. Instead, the three orbs of light floated beside the duo of monsters, creating three more replicas of Black Luster Guard, leaving just one gem glowing on the original’s shield. (200/1800) [x3]

    Dave looked at the tiny card holograms hovering below him. He pressed one of them, and the same card lit up in Adam’s hand.

    Adam considered this, then nodded in apparent reluctance.

    Good, Dave thought at the notion. He turned to his robotic opponents. “I switch my Black Luster Scout to Attack Mode and then activate Creature Swap!”

    Adam slid the card in his Duel Disk.

    Dave continued; the card rose on his own side of the field. “With this, I’ll give you my Black Luster Scout in exchange for any monster you have.”

    The two computers whirred. Each of them replaced their hand screens with loading bars and droned, “PROCESSING OPTIONS…”

    Josh rolled his eyes. I hate these kinds of machines. Why can’t they be like those giant fighting robots you see in those cartoons? Those things were cool at least. I remember one them had arrows tha–

    “PROCESS COMPLETE,” CompA said. “CHANGING CONTROL OF TRUSTING SEATURTLE.”

    Small whirlpools gathered underneath the two monsters, sucking them up, only to spit them out in opposite locations. Without the turtle to generate the bubbles, they all popped, leaving the young Trusting Chanter alone to pout. (1700 --> 1300/1300 --> 900)

    “And since Trusting Seaturtle is under my control now, Adam’s Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon gains its benefit!”

    “ACTIVATE TRAP CARD – DISTRUSTFUL INTENTIONS!” The designated card showed a Trusting Chanter monster crossing its two fingers behind its back. “WHEN OPPONENT CONTROLS A TRUSTING MONSTER, THIS UNIT CAN TRIBUTE ONE MONSTER TO NEGATE THAT MONSTER’S EFFECTS.”

    The chanter clapped its hands together and began to mumble an incantation. Before long, the chanter and the seaturtle became enveloped in the same red aura, draining the turtle of all of its strength. Unable to handle the strain of the spell, Trusting Chanter fell over with a hint of vengeance in its smirk.

    Dave shut his mouth indifferently. “No matter, Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon.”

    The dragon perked its head up. Adam sent his gaze downcast, away from Kaiba.

    “Attack Black Luster Scout! White Lightning Attack!”

    A low growl emitted from the dragon as it opened its mouth, gathering energy in a swirling sphere. Rearing its head back slightly, the dragon swung its neck forward, propelling the blast at the kneeling scout. It exploded in blue flames before it could even react.

    Josh watched as the light glared the window in front of him. Nice shot. That took a huge chunk of that robot’s Life Points too.

    Once the smoke cleared, a Trap Card appeared in place of the now-obliterated warrior.

    “ACTIVATE TRAP – SHARED PAIN. ALL DAMAGE IS HALVED AND SHARED WITH PARTNER.”

    [Dave LP: (400)] [Adam LP: (1900)]
    Vs.
    [(CompA LP: 3300 --> 2250)] [(CompB LP: 2600 --> 1550)]​

    Dave adjusted his hat. “That’s fine. My turn’s over.” He gazed up at the Blue-Eyes White Dragon standing over him.

    Adam turned to his partner, a look of silent jealously smear across his face. Kaiba saw this brief expression, laughed at it internally.

    You don’t deserve to wield a Blue-Eyes, Adam. He tightened his grip on the windowsill. Dave knows that.

    “TURN START. DRAW CARD.” The card appeared on the machine’s monitor for a mere second before flashing away. “SUMMON LOVEY-DOVEY BOY IN ATTACK POSITION.”

    A young, chubby boy waddled onto the field, unaware of the tall and powerful monsters surrounding it. It wore its blue cap slightly to the side, and its shirt barely fit over its massive stomach. (1200/1000)

    “SET THREE SPELL/TRAP CARDS FACE-DOWN. TURN END.”

    “My draw, then,” Adam said. Glaring at the oblivious boy, he barked a command. “Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon, attack Lovey-Dovey Boy!”

    The Blue-Eyes White Dragon charged up another energy blast, which was subsequently shot at the unsuspecting boy.

    Kaiba frowned.

    “ACTIVATE TRAP CARD, SHIFT.”

    Adam perked his eyebrows up.

    Kaiba smirked. That’s what you get.

    “CHANGING ATTACK TARGET TO TRUSTING PETBIRD TO AVOID DAMAGE.”

    As if it were on a conveyer belt, the bird cage slid in front of the young boy, which was incinerated on impact. Despite the charred feathers fluttering through the air, the boy gave no indication that he saw what happened.

    “In that case…” Adam looked down at his hand, then, dissatisfied, he glanced at the tiny holograms hovering nearby.

    He may understand the concept of strategy, but without skill all of his moves go to waste. Kaiba glanced at Dave, who was observing the field. Dave shouldn’t have lost against his joke of a duelist.

    “Dave,” Adam said. Dave reluctantly met his gaze. “Is it alright if I use this card?” He pointed to the leftmost card.

    Dave swept his gaze at it. Reinforcements? What the hell does he expect to do with that?

    “Sure, whatever.”

    “Alright,” Adam said. “I’ll set one card face-down and end my turn.”

    Dave slid it into his Duel Disk, and the face-down card appeared by Adam’s feet.

    Kaiba pulled his hands away from the window. Hmph, figures a cheapstake would mooch off a superior duelist.

    Josh winced slightly. He could tell Kaiba was still angered, but not exactly why. Besides, his shoulder hurt too much.

    “TURN START. DRAW CARD.”

    Dave awaited the next threat patiently, yet eagerly. He was surprised, though, when it came from the other end of the field – the one that held Lovey-Dovey Boy.

    “ACTIVATE TRAP CARD, PROPOSAL. ALLY ADDS ONE ‘ENGAGEMENT RING’ CARD TO HIS/HER HAND AND PROPOSAL EQUIPS TO LOVEY-DOVEY BOY.”

    A new card flashed onto the male-speaking computer’s monitor.

    “WHEN EQUIPPED TO LOVEY-DOVEY BOY,” the female-speaking computer continued, “IT IS ALSO TREATED AS A LOVEY-DOVEY BOY MONSTER.”

    “SUMMON MONSTER – LOVEY-DOVEY GIRL IN ATTACK POSITION.”

    A young girl, equally as chubby as Lovey-Dovey Boy, waddled out of its card, tripping over the ground moments later. (1000/500) It sat up, rubbed its head, then saw the young boy standing on the opposite end of the room.

    “EFFECTS APPLIED – LOVEY-DOVEY GIRL GAINS 500 ATK AND DEF FOR EACH LOVEY-DOVEY BOY ON FIELD. LOVEY-DOVEY BOY GAINS 500 ATK AND DEF FOR EACH LOVEY-DOVEY GIRL ON FIELD.”

    The two humanoid monsters gaped at each other; both of their jaws dropped immediately. Pinks hearts replaced their eyes as they gazed into the others’, mesmerized by their attraction. Lovey-Dovey Girl nervously looked away, staring at the ground, face blushing beet-red. (1000 --> 2000/500 --> 1500) Meanwhile, Lovey-Dovey Boy did the same, only it managed to mask its infatuation better. (1200 --> 1700/1000 --> 1500)

    Josh and Mokuba groaned.

    “This is too weird,” Mokuba said.

    “Yeah,” Josh said. It’s ironic that the most emotional monsters I’ve ever seen are being played by mindless robots.

    “ACTIVATE EQUIP SPELL CARD,” the machine droned. “ENGAGEMENT RING.”

    Yep, like I said, Josh thought, watching the ring materialize in the young boy’s hand. Mindless robots.

    Lovey-Dovey Boy approached Lovey-Dovey Girl, who seemed to shy away. The male monster took the female monster’s hand, putting the ring onto her finger. Warmness felt between the two monsters was clear.

    “WHILE EQUIPPED TO LOVEY-DOVEY GIRL, ENGAGEMENT RING IS TREATED AS AN ADDITIONAL LOVEY-DOVEY GIRL, FURTHER RAISING LOVEY-DOVEY BOY’S ATK AND DEF VALUES.” (1700 --> 2200/1500 --> 2000) “ACTIVATE SPELL CARD, DOUBLE FUSION.”

    Lovey-Dovey Boy cradled its hand into Lovey-Dovey Girl’s, as if it were promising to never let go.

    Could this be any cheesier? Dave thought.

    “FUSING LOVEY-DOVEY GIRL WITH LOVEY-DOVEY GIRL, AND THEN FUSING LOVEY-DOVEY BOY WITH LOVEY-DOVEY BOY.”

    In a flash of light, both Lovey-Dovey monsters seemed to grow before everyone’s eyes. They became taller, more mature, aging as the aura around them slowly faded. Lovey-Dovey Girl was dressed a wedding gown, her face veiled by a thin piece of fabric. (2000/1500) Lovey-Dovey Boy wore a tuxedo; the grin held had signified his commitment to the relationship. (2200/1700)

    “LOVEY-DOVEY BRIDE AND LOVEY-DOVEY GROOM ARE REQUIRED FOR ACTIVATION OF NEXT SPELL CARD, WEDDING DAY.” The cards in the machine’s hand monitor vanished one by one. “BY DISCARDING HAND, THIS UNIT CAN BANISH BOTH LOVEY-DOVEY BRIDE AND LOVEY-DOVEY GROOM TO SPECIAL SUMMON LOVEY-DOVEY WIFE AND LOVEY-DOVEY HUSBAND, RESPECTIVELY.”

    The duo became engulfed in light again, this time, instead of growing or aging, they simply wore normal clothes, the kind you would see on a casual day. Lovey-Dovey Wife held its husband’s hand with confidence (3000/2500), while Lovey-Dovey Husband did the same with its wife (3200/2700).

    So we saw three stages of a relationship in about five seconds. Josh laughed, remembering his high school friends. That’s a new record.

    “LOVEY-DOVEY HUSBAND ATTACKS FALLEN BLUE-EYES WHITE DRAGON.”

    Prompted by its wife, the husband leapt up, intending to punch the dragon using the momentum from its fall. Preparing to counterattack, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon raised its head and opened its mouth, revealing its vicious fangs. Adam gritted his teeth.

    Hmph. Figures Adam can’t protect his own monsters properly. Kaiba crossed his arms.

    “I activate my face-down card.” Adam pressed a button, and the card Dave set down raised. “Reinforcements increases Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon’s ATK by 500 for the rest of the round.”

    Kaiba grunted, slammed his fist against the windowsill again. Upon hitting it, the glass shook, causing Josh to look in his direction.

    The Blue-Eyes White Dragon shot out a blast of pale-blue energy, thrusting its head forward to propel it faster. (3000 --> 3500/2500) Lovey-Dovey Husband punched the beam; energy rippled around its fist, causing wavy streams to fly aimlessly off its knuckles. Realizing it wouldn’t be able to fight through the stream of energy, Lovey-Dovey Husband pushed itself back, landing beside its wife, who promptly hugged it. [CompA LP: (2250 --> 2100)] [CompB LP: (1150 --> 1400)]

    Josh spoke up. “Wait, why wasn’t it destroyed?”

    “LOVEY-DOVEY HUSBAND’S EFFECT: CANNOT BE DESTROYED BY BATTLE AS LONG AS LOVEY-DOVEY WIFE EXISTS ON FIELD.”

    That figures, Dave thought.

    “LOVEY-DOVEY WIFE ATTACKS TRUSTING SEATURTLE.”

    With help from its husband, Lovey-Dovey Wife swung itself at the turtle sleeping on Dave’s side of the field, startling it awake with its heel. As the wife leapt back, the turtle shattered with a squeal.

    “TURN END.”

    Dave grabbed the rim of his hat, pulled it down slightly. “Alright then.” He drew, flipping it over to see.

    He smiled.

    “Here we go,” Dave said. Proudly, he thrust the drawn card at his opponents. “I activate Black Luster Ritual!”

    The four guards kneeling before him ceremonially stood up, casting their shields aside, knowing there was no purpose for them now. They clapped their hands together, miraculously becoming enveloped in blue flames that quickly spread across Dave’s entire corner of the room.

    “Ritual Summon – Black Luster Soldier!”

    Dave pointed a commanding finger forward, and, from the flames flailing behind him, the Black Luster Soldier flew out of hiding. It landed a few feet ahead of its master, its armor glimmering against the embers surrounding them. (3000/2500)

    “There we go,” Josh whispered to himself.

    Taking a moment to observe the field, Dave relaxed his hand, brought it closer to his face. The computer closest to him had both Lovey-Dovey monsters on its side of the field, and the one near Adam had nothing. If he struck that one now, it would be down for the count, even with Shared Pain splitting the damage.

    It was his time to shine.

    Determinedly, Dave pointed at the defenseless Duelbot. “Black Luster Soldier, attack Duelbot Model A directly!”

    Black Luster Soldier lifted its sword and shield, keeping them near its chest as it charged at the computer.

    “ACTIVATE LOVEY-DOVEY HUSBAND’S EFFECT: WHEN BOTH LOVEY-DOVEY WIFE AND LOVEY-LOVEY HUSBAND EXIST ON FIELD, CONTROL OF EITHER MONSTER CAN BE EXCHANGED BETWEEN PARTNERS AT WILL.”

    Dave’s eyes widened. “What!?”

    Once Black Luster Soldier moved to stab the computer, Lovey-Dovey Husband jumped in the way, expertly striking at the soldier’s wrist with its palm. The impact caused the soldier’s grip to weaken, and the sword merely slipped out of its grasp. Seeing an opportunity, Lovey-Dovey Husband punched Black Luster Soldier square in the jaw, knocking it all the way into the back wall, where it shattered into thousands of blue fragments.

    Dave stared back the shards, watching them rain onto the floor. [Dave LP: (400 --> 200)] Without any cards out to protect him, Dave could only pray as he said, “I end my turn.”

    “TURN START,” the computer droned, for what Dave knew would be the final time. “DRAW CARD.”

    He half expected another move to be made first, but instead, the husband crackled its knuckles as the computer’s voice rang out again.

    “LOVEY-DOVEY HUSBAND ATTACKS PLAYER DAVE LITENUR DIRECTLY.”

    The husband jumped up, flying high over Dave. Its figure obscured the lights overhead, causing its body to become overshadowed in darkness. But Dave could still see its eyes – the eyes that said “This is it.”

    Dave closed his own eyes, gritted his teeth.

    “Go, Magical Arm Shield!”

    In the nick of time, another figure flew in front of Dave, intercepting the attack and taking the blow for him. Neither he nor the monster attacking him knew what it was until Lovey-Dovey Husband’s punch already crossed the monster’s face.

    Lovey-Dovey Wife screeched in pain, tears flowing out of its eyes as it was thrown onto the ground. Lovey-Dovey Husband ran over and grasped its hand, begging forgiveness, but it was too late. The damage had been done.

    Dave stared back up at the device. He recognized from his duel with Peter – it takes an opponent’s monster and has the attacking monster battle it instead. His eyes trailed the spring attached to the two plates, leading him back to its source.

    Adam.

    Dave gaped at him, almost thanked him, but Adam’s voice cut him off.

    “Since I used Magical Arm Shield to take control of that monster, I take the damage and Dave’s Life Points remain unharmed.” [Adam LP: (1900 --> 1700)]

    “ABSENCE OF LOVEY-DOVEY WIFE DETECTED. LOVEY-DOVEY HUSBAND’S ATK AND DEF VALUES BECOME HALF THEIR ORIGINAL VALUE.” (3200 --> 1600/3000 --> 1500) “TURN END.”

    “Time to end this.” Adam drew. “First I’ll revive my Fallen Koumori Dragon!”

    With a quick spark and burst, the purple dragon flared out of nowhere, dragging its claws against the ground. (1500/1200)

    “With Double Grave Ceremony out, I’m able to summon another Fallen, so I’ll offer my Koumori Dragon to bring out the Fallen Summoned Skull!”

    Blue static trickled along the edges of the two tombstones, eventually sparking out and electrifying Fallen Koumori Dragon. The dragon’s body deformed, regenerating into a boastful demon with a horned skull. (2500/1200) Its wings served as a conductor, absorbing the electricity into its muscular figure.

    Adam opened a slot in the side of his Duel Disk. “Normally I’d be done summoning my Fallen cards, but with Fallen Nation I can summon a monster one more time.” He slid the card in.

    From behind the darkly-clothed teen, a flagpole rose out of the ground, marking the half-way point between the two tombstones. Then flag fluttered high above both the Fallen Blue-Eyes and the Fallen Summoned Skull, who appeared empowered by it even though neither monster acted any differently.

    “Not only do I get an extra summon, my Fallen monsters also gain 500 ATK and DEF.”

    [Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon (3000 --> 3500/2500 --> 3000)]
    [Fallen Summoned Skull (2500 --> 3000/1200 --> 1700)]

    “It’s about time I got to that summoning.” Adam raised his arm. “Return to my side, Fallen Koumori Dragon!”

    Another small flare burst off the ground, and the purple dragon roared beside the two taller monsters. It felt as the monster had never left. (1500 --> 2000/1200 --> 1700)

    “And now that Lovey-Dovey Wife isn’t there to power up Lovey-Dovey Husband, it’s weak enough for Fallen Koumori Dragon to take it out!”

    At that moment Dave realized Adam’s thought process. He didn’t activate Magical Arm Shield to protect him – he only did it to get an obstacle out of the way. He didn’t care if Dave lost at all; it was just a tactical strategy to come out on top!

    Dave tensely curled his fingers together. How could I have been so stupid?

    “Koumori Dragon – attack!”

    Despite the loud roar preceding the dragon’s assault, Lovey-Dovey Husband continued to blankly gaze at the ground where its wife once laid. It didn’t even react as its body became engulfed in flames, leaving no trace of it left behind. [CompA LP: (2100 --> 1350)] [CompB LP: (1400 --> 650)]

    Josh erected his stance, observing the field. Now the Duelbots have no monsters out. He quickly turned to the two monsters at the opposite end of the room. This is it.

    Kaiba scratched his nails into the windowsill as Adam lifted a commanding hand.

    “Fallen Summoned Skull–”

    He might’ve won now, Kaiba thought, but he only did so by mooching off of Dave.

    “Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon–”

    Even then, he only got this far because of his low-life ways. He watched both monsters aim their attacks at the computers; one focused on each.

    “Attack their Life Points directly!”

    The dragon and demon unleashed an array of light; a pale energy beam trailed towards the center of the computers with three streaks of lightning spiraling around it. Dave, Josh and Mokuba squinted from its brightness.

    None of it matters, only a snot-nosed piece of scum could manage to turn such a powerful card into a worthless pile of trash.

    Kaiba turned away. A bright flash poured into the room, forcing Mokuba and Josh to shield their eyes. While this happened, Kaiba took the Card Analyzer from Mokuba’s hand, and looked to it.

    Data Analysis 100% Complete.

    He serves no purpose to me now.

    The lights dimmed.

    [Dave LP: (200)] [Adam LP: (1700)]
    Vs.
    [CompA LP: (1350 -->--> 0)] [CompB LP: (650 -->--> 0)]​

    Dave rubbed his eyes. His sight still blurred from the blinding intensity of that attack. He could hear Adam walking towards the exit, heard a door shut, and it was only when Kaiba started screaming that he started to regain his sight.

    “Who the hell do you think you are?!” Kaiba grabbed Adam by the collar. Adam drooped his head, uninterested. “I’m the only one who’s allowed use the Blue-Eyes White Dragon! Got that?” He threw Adam aside.

    Adam stumbled a bit, banged into the wall. He failed to react, though, and simply dusted his shoulder instead.

    Dave walked into the room now, joining Josh and Mokuba. They all stared at Adam, who approached Kaiba again.

    Kaiba just glowered at him.

    Adam slid his deck out, then started to sift through it. “Fine.” With a sharp flick, Adam tossed a card Kaiba’s way.

    Reflexively, Kaiba snatched it inches from his face. By the time everyone realized what happened, Adam was already at the exit.

    “See ya around.”

    The door shut, and every ounce of tension within the room faded.

    Kaiba brought the card to eye level, hatred searing through his stare. It took a few raced heartbeats before he noticed the others again.

    He addressed Dave and Josh somberly. “I think you’ve overstayed your welcome.”

    The two nodded sincerely, quietly heading for the door. Once they left, Mokuba hurried to his brother’s side.

    “Are you okay?”

    “I’m fine.” Kaiba held up the card again. A Synchro Monster Card featuring a pale blue dragon.

    His blue dragon.

    Wordlessly, Kaiba walked back to the window, peering into the testing room. Now the room was unused, the overhead lights shut off, preventing from gazing further into it. Although, the darkness was not what he was looking for.

    The glare on the window had returned.

    Tapping his brother’s arm, Mokuba motioned for the Card Analyzer. “We got the results we need?”

    Silence answered him. Kaiba continued to gaze at the glare, thinking.

    “Yes.” He held up the Card Analyzer, placing the Synchro Monster, Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon, inside its compartment. “I think it’s time I had a chat with Pegasus.”


    ~*~*~*~


    Card Analyzer activated…
    Accessing Card Database… Searching for Card Data …
    … Data Found:


    Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon
    ********
    [Light]
    [Dragon/Synchro/Tuner]
    (3000/2500)
    1 Tuner monster + 1 or more “Fallen” monsters
    Synchro Material Monsters used to Synchro Summon this card are removed from play. This card can Special Summon itself from the Graveyard after it is Synchro Summoned by offering 2 monsters on your side of the field as a Tribute. You can only Special Summon 1 “Fallen” monster this way per turn. If a non-“Fallen” monster exists in your Graveyard, you may not Special Summon this card this way. This card’s name is also treated as “Blue-Eyes White Dragon”. This card can only be destroyed as a result of battle. However, card effects can continue as if this card was destroyed.


    Result Scoreboard
    [Spell]
    Activate this card only in a Tag Duel when at least 1 player has a different amount of Life Points than the others. The player(s) with the lowest Life Points gains 3000 Life Points. The player(s) with the highest Life Points lose 1000 Life Points. All remaining players draw 1 card.


    Shared Pain
    [Trap/Continuous]
    This card can only be activated during a Tag Duel. When you or your partner takes damage, you can activate this card's effect to have both you and your partner take half the damage each instead.
    [Credit to darthvader5666 on Pojo for the creation of this card]
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2012
  12. TylerPhoenix

    TylerPhoenix I'm glad to be back!

    I started playing Yu-Gi-Oh! again recently after a gap of three years - what a lot of change in that time - I am still enjoying the game though, despite having to start from scratch once more - you, alongside a duel I had yesterday, have inspired me to start my own Yu-Gi-Oh Fic. And can you add me to the PM list? :S
     
  13. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    Thanks! It's always a good thing to draw inspiration from something, and I'm glad my fic helped spark that inspiration. Good luck with it, and consider yourself added!
     
  14. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    Chapter Sixteen


    Air stood still outside Kaiba Corp, indicated by the motionless clouds that sat comfortably in the sky. The noon light started to shift as the hour progressed, casting a subtle shadow onto the city below. The roofs of the towers remained untouched by the creeping darkness, though some were taller than others, and a few of the smaller buildings couldn’t escape the dominance of those above it. Kaiba Corp Tower stood tallest, leaving only its base affected by the shade.

    On the ground floor, few people stood near Kaiba Corp Tower, though the occasional person did walk past on the way to the center of town. The traffic, although still in view, kept its flow away from the building, leaving it alone to observe those around it. Lunch break had just ended, and many of Kaiba Corps employees were now returning to work. As one of them entered, Dave barged through the double-doors leading outside; Josh followed soon after.

    “Well, I don’t really see what the big deal was,” Josh said, chasing Dave down the short set of stairs. “So Adam summoned a monster Kaiba owns, how is that something to get angry about?”

    “It wasn’t just that.” Dave spat, without turning to look at him. He tensed his shoulders, clutched a fist. “He was so arrogant! You saw how he played out there – he didn’t care if I lost at all! He just wanted to be a show-off like he did at the arena.”

    Josh took a gentle step closer. “Look Dav–”

    “I’ll see ya later, Josh,” Dave said with a wave. He dismissively swept his arm to the side, grumbling to himself as he walked away.

    Josh stood still for a moment, watching him leave. He still couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Sure, Adam did act rudely to Kaiba on his way out, but Kaiba wasn’t exactly the friendliest person he ever met. Josh lifted his hood over his hair, casting a shadow over his forehead. The sun loomed over the city streets, overseeing all of its activities. It gave Josh a sense of heavenly guidance, and, yet, he still felt uneasy…

    “So, I guess I’m not exactly mister popular.”

    Alarmed, Josh defensively spun around to see Adam leaning against a building, with arms crossed. Josh blinked. He didn’t know what to say.

    Adam nodded in acknowledgement; the strand of red hair fluttered against his nose.

    “Don’t worry about it. I got used to it, anyway.” He pushed himself off the wall, scraped some dirt off his shoulder.

    Josh looked at Adam’s Duel Disk while he did this, focusing on his Card Analyzer. On its screen, he saw the image of an old-fashioned lock. He looked to his own Card Analyzer, and saw no such image, only his own name and a picture of Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys in the center. Some cards are expensive, that was true, but why would he feel the need to secure his deck while it was attached to his arm?

    “Adam,” Josh said aloud, slowing trailing his eyes back to him. “Dave was angry because he thought you were being selfish and arrogant in your playing. Kaiba, as far as I know, is always like that, so I’d take it with a grain of salt–”

    “Another grain of salt,” Adam muttered. He sighed. “Add that to the mountain already there.”

    Josh paused.

    Adam looked back toward Kaiba Corp Tower; subconsciously, Josh did the same. The tall building gave a sense of authority over the others, as if it were a king scolding his servants.

    “I know my place in the world, there’s no reason for me to change it. I don’t care if anyone likes me. That’s not why I’m here.”

    Adam hung his head subtly. Josh ventured.

    “Then… why are you here, Adam?”

    Adam didn’t move. He just stood there, motionlessly, like a statue that been molded in place.

    Finally, he turned; shy determination flashed in his pupils.

    “Let’s duel.”

    “What?”

    Adam held up his arm, swinging his Duel Disk with him.

    “Let’s duel. You have a deck now, so you’re a duelist. A duelist duels.”

    Where was he going with this?

    “But I’ve only really dueled once in my life.” Josh peered at his Disk in shame. “There’s no way my deck can take on your Fallen monsters. They’re too strong.”

    “No, they’re not.” Adam pressed a button, his deck ejected out. He caught it in his free hand. “They’re only strong because I make them strong.”

    Adam approached him silently, taking quiet steps, matching the tempo of Josh’s heartbeat. To Josh’s surprise, Adam held out the deck to him.

    “Take it.”

    In a baffled gesture, Josh straightened his neck. He must have misheard.

    “Uh, what?”

    “Take it.” Adam shoved the deck into his chest. “You want to duel with a ‘strong’ deck? Then I’ll duel with your ‘weak’ deck.”

    That’s all he wanted? What a strange offer – though, Josh could tell he wanted to prove something.

    “O-okay.”

    Josh sheepishly accepted the deck, before ejecting his own. Adam took it reverently, shuffling with care.

    Adam’s never even seen my deck. How does he expect to win?

    Josh slid Adam’s deck into his Card Analyzer, then pressed the ‘auto-shuffle’ button. It was a weird feeling, using another’s cards; it didn’t seem right. But it was a request from someone who had helped him so much in the past.

    What did he have to lose?

    [Josh LP: (8000)] [Adam LP: (8000)]​

    “I’ll go first,” Adam said, picking up the top card of his – er, Josh’s deck. His eyes swiftly read through each word written on Josh’s cards, like they had instructions to defeat him.

    I should probably do that too, Josh thought, holding up the strangely shiny cards.

    Although Adam had never seen Josh’s deck, Josh couldn’t say the same – he learned a few of Adam’s strategies just from watching those duels during the tournament, and even just now during the testing. The main focus was to dump monsters into the Graveyard so he could revive them later. So, with this Card Destruction card he had, Josh remembered, he could toss the rest of his hand away so he could draw new cards. He’d hit two birds with one stone.

    Adam, I think you underestimated your own deck, Josh thought, glancing over the orange bordered cards.

    “I activate Pot of Greed,” Adam said. “This lets me draw two cards. Next I’ll play Tremendous Fire.”

    “Huh?”

    Just as Josh lifted his head, a wave of fire surged over him, temporarily flooding the street with the holographic flames. [Josh LP: (8000 --> 7000)]

    Adam, also struck by the flames, shooed them away by lifting another card from his hand. [Adam LP: (8000 --> 7500)] The firestorm seemingly evaporated, leaving no trace that it ever occurred.

    “Next I’ll use this – A Feather of the Phoenix.” A green bordered card materialized before him, featuring a glowing red feather. “With it, I discard a card to return another card from Graveyard back to the top of my deck.”

    He shoved a card into the red slot upside-down, causing Josh to wonder what he threw out. Almost instantly, Pot of Greed came back out, which Adam quietly put on top of the rest of his cards.

    “Now, my final Spell Card – Spark of Life.”

    Josh watched in amazement as the card materialized. It featured an orange, newborn chick hatching from a golden egg, with Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys in the background, watching over it. He remembered that it was hard to use – a FIRE monster needed to be revived for it to work.

    “And, now I end my turn.”

    Josh blinked. That was it? He only had one card out, and that card was useless by itself. Josh reached for his deck to draw, when the port from Adam’s Graveyard started to glow.

    “During the End Phase, Manticore of Darkness activates,” Adam said emotionlessly. “Whenever it’s sent to the Graveyard, I can discard any one of the three ‘Beast’-typed monsters to Special Summon it.”

    Adam flipped over his chosen card – Josh’s eyes nearly bugged out when he saw it.

    “So I’ll send the Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys!”

    What? Josh’s jaw fell slightly ajar. But that’s the best card in my deck!

    Adam lifted his Duel Disk as a red beam shot out of it. “Rise – Manticore of Darkness!”

    In a twister of fire, a bipedal beast slammed into the ground. Its muscular body and lion-like head intimidated Josh a bit, but he didn’t realize how fearsome it looked until it spread its angelic blue wings and whipped its scorpion-like tail in his face. (2300/1000)

    Josh gulped. How could I forget about something like that!

    “Now, Spark of Life activates!”

    The designated card took a reddish glow, which replicated itself around the Manticore in the form of an aura. Manticore of Darkness twirled around, shooting a swirl of fire at both players, who shielded themselves with their disks.

    [Josh LP: (7000 --> 6700)] [Adam LP: (7500 --> 7200)]​

    Josh batted the remaining wisps away. “Okay, I take it back. Maybe my deck isn’t as weak as I thought.”

    Adam smiled briefly.

    “My draw.” Alright, so first I have to discard them. “I activate Card Destruction!”

    Without waiting for an explanation, Adam shoved his hand into the red-slot, only to replenish it soon after. Noticing this, Josh did the same, looking over the new Spell Cards he drew, without ever noticing the look of satisfaction of his opponent’s face.

    Adam’s eyes shone with dark eagerness.

    Now to bring them back, Josh thought.

    “I activate this!” A separate slot on Josh’s Duel Disk folded open; he slapped the Field Spell Card down.

    A flagpole drove its way out of the ground, rising until it was twice the size of both players.

    “And, now, with Fallen Nation out, I can Special Summon two Fallen monsters each turn!”

    As two coffins soothingly seeped through the sidewalk, Adam apparently receded into his thoughts. He kept his attention on the flag fluttering overhead, blocking his view of the sun, denying him of the light that it gave.

    He sighed again, reluctantly returning his attention to the holograms before him.

    The coffins’ tops burst open, where two monsters flung themselves out. Both of them were extremely familiar to Adam, since he used them all the time. In fact, they were the exact same monster – the Fallen Headless Knight. While one of them knelt (1450/1700), the other boastfully parried its sword at the opposing monster. (1450/1700)

    “And, now, for some basic math,” Josh said. Truthfully, this was the only part of the game he actually understood. “First, Fallen Nation gives my monsters 500 ATK and DEF each.”

    [Fallen Headless Knight (1) (1450 --> 1950/1700 --> 2200)]
    [Fallen Headless Knight (2) (1450 --> 1950/1700 --> 2200)]

    “Then,” Josh held up his two index fingers, pointing one at each knight. “Fallen Headless Knight’s effect kicks in. When it’s in Attack Position, other Fallen monsters gains 400 DEF. And, while it’s in Defense Position, Fallen monsters gain 400 ATK. So, basically, my two monsters power each other up.”

    [Fallen Headless Knight (1) (1950 --> 2350/2200 --> 2600)]
    [Fallen Headless Knight (2) (1950 --> 2350/2200 --> 2600)]

    Adam smiled. “That was a pretty advanced combo for someone who just started yesterday.”

    Josh grinned bashfully. “Well, I gotta start somewhere.”

    Adam nodded. “Continue.”

    “Right – Fallen Headless Knight! Attack!”

    Holding its blade high, Fallen Headless Knight strode towards the winged-demon, its armor clanking against the ground with each heavy step. Manticore of Darkness evaded two slashes by jumping in the air, but a final slash caught its tail and leg, causing it to slam back onto the ground. Quickly seizing the opportunity, the knight pinned Manticore of Darkness down by its wings and impaled directly into its chest. [Adam LP: (7200 --> 7150)]

    “Alright!” Josh shouted, fist-pumping.

    Adam smirked. “Good job. But don’t think I’m done yet.”

    “Of course not,” Josh said. “I end my tur–”

    “Since it’s your End Phase, Manticore of Darkness activates.” Adam lifted a card out of his hand, presenting it to Josh. Once again, Josh’s jaw dropped. “By sending another Manticore of Darkness to the Graveyard, I can revive the one you just destroyed!”

    As soon as the Duel Disk sucked up Adam’s card, flames shot out of the slot, spiraling father until the lion’s head emerged. With a roar, the beast slashed the flames away, and slammed its claws against the concrete. (2300/1000) Manticore of Darkness stood back up, fire still searing at its claws. It looked good as new – as if it had never suffered a single wound.

    After taking a second to process this, Josh smiled. “No problem, Fallen Headless Knight’s strong enough to take it out.”

    “That’s not what I was going for.”

    Before Josh could ask, the Spell Card behind Manticore of Darkness lit up, igniting a ring of fire around the bipedal beast.

    Adam lifted his arm, point towards the sky in declaration. “Spark of Life activates!”

    Manticore of Darkness spun around, twirling the fire with it, causing it to expand with each rotation. Both duelists were struck, and, just as before, Josh recoiled while Adam remained unmoved.

    [Josh LP: (6700 --> 6400)] [Adam LP: (7150 --> 6850)]​

    Josh shook off the wisps covering his sweatshirt, which vaporized with the motion. “Ugh, yeah, I forgot about that. Oh well, I’ll make sure I destroy it next tur–”

    “And I activate the second Manticore of Darkness’ effect,” Adam said, ejecting the declared card from his Duel Disk. “Now I’ll send the Manticore of Darkness on the field and replace it with the one in my Graveyard.”

    Josh nearly leapt back. “What!?”

    “Go!”

    Manticore of Darkness burst into flames; consuming Adam’s entire side of the field before extinguishing, only for the same monster to reappear in its place. Then, the monster summoned a ring of fire, which it threw at both players.

    Adam repeated this pattern continuously, shouting “again” with each round. It was only after the third round that Josh realized there was no hope left – the game had already been predetermined after just the first turn. All he could do was dodge the flames as they came at him; his Life Points dwindling with each blast.

    [Josh LP: (0)] [Adam LP: (450)]​

    “And that’s game,” Adam said. The holograms disintegrated that same instant.

    Josh had fallen to his knees, shaken from both amazement and disappointment. When Adam approached him, he stood up, taking out his opponent’s deck. They then proceeded to trade them.

    “I can’t believe such a strong combo is in my deck,” Josh said, staring at the stack of cards in his hand. It was as if he had never held it before in his life.

    “Exactly.” Adam slid his deck back into its proper slot.

    Josh looked him in the eye. “I get it now. It’s not the cards that win duels, it’s the player.”

    “That’s right,” Adam said, turning his back to him. “Many people try to mimic stronger players by taking their ideas, but only the original owner of that deck can tap into its true potential.”

    It’s true potential, Josh thought. He drew the top card, revealing his Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys. Oh wait.

    “Hey Adam,” he said, catching Adam’s attention as he started to walk away.

    “Yeah?”

    “I was wondering,” Josh held up the card, “why did you toss this card away? It’s easily one of the best cards in my deck.”

    Adam averted his gaze, sent it downcast; towards the cracked pavement beneath him. Then, he returned it to the path in front of him, away from Josh.

    “I didn’t see any use for it.”

    That answer surprised Josh.

    “What do you mean?” He asked, stepping forward. At the same time, Adam started to leave again.

    “I couldn’t use it for what I wanted to do.” Adam kept walking, but slowed his pace so Josh still stayed within earshot. “Even if a deck has one unified focus, it should always have back-up plans in case that focus fails. Otherwise, the entire deck becomes disabled.”

    Josh stopped following him. He absorbed the words, watching Adam drift away step by step.

    Then, Adam stopped.

    “Like I said, only the original owner can tap into a deck’s true potential.” He turned, eying Josh again. “Catch ya ‘round.” He waved goodbye, and continued towards the city.

    Josh watched him disappear into a crowd in the distance, then stared back up at the Kaiba Corp building.

    I get it now. Josh fanned out his deck, examining each individual card with new eyes. This is my deck. If I want to ever become as good as Adam or Dave I need to stop complaining and start coming up with a style of my own.

    His mind involuntarily flashed back to the tournament – specifically the duel in the cafeteria, where he had chased the receptionist across the room. Dave defeated her, and then Kaiba told him:

    “We both know that if this deck was in my hands that the duel would’ve ended differently.”

    …and Dave agreed. Josh realized that all real duelists must understand this concept, even if those exact words never crossed their minds. Only Adam could properly use the Fallen monsters, only Dave could use his Black Luster Soldiers, only Kaiba could use the Blue-Eyes White Dragons.

    And only he could use the Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys.


    ~*~*~*~​


    Inside Kaiba Corp’s main office, Seto Kaiba sat behind his desk, flipping his laptop open. After connecting his Card Analyzer to the monitor with a wire and entering in a few commands, a load bar featuring a stupid dancing rabbit filled both screens. He leaned back in his chair, weaving his fingers together and propping up his head.

    No one deserves to have a Blue-Eyes White Dragon except me. Kaiba took the Card Analyzer off the desk, snapping open the compartment that contained his Extra Deck. A thin pile of about ten cards came out, which he fanned out in front of him. Nine purple bordered cards.

    One silver.

    A moment later the rabbit’s dancing ceased, and it goofily shoved a picture frame at Kaiba. The frame outlined the edges of the screen, and Pegasus’s long pale-blue hair soon covered its image.

    “Why hello Kaiba-boy.” Pegasus chuckled, raising his half-full wine glass. “I’m guessing the testing went without any troub–”

    “What the hell is this!” Kaiba snatched up the silver card, shoving it at the monitor. “Why the hell would you create another Blue-Eyes White Dragon card without giving it directly to me?!”

    Pegasus took a sip, then placed the glass off screen. “Now now Kaiba-boy, just because you are the self-proclaimed owner of the Blue-Eyes White Dragons doesn’t mean you actually are.” He brushed his hair over his shoulder; it still covered his left eye, though.

    “That’s not the point, Pegasus.” Kaiba slammed his fist on the counter. “I’ve worked my entire life to get those cards, and knowing that scumbag duelist owns–”

    “Relax. That Fallen Blue-Eyes White Dragon card is at such a high rarity that you’d have to be a billionaire to get your hands on it.” Pegasus winked. “Too bad you’re only a millionaire.”

    Kaiba growled.

    “Besides, you have it now, so what difference does it make? What? I can’t make any more Blue-Eyes card ‘cause Kaiba-boy doesn’t wanna share?”

    The sound of Kaiba slamming his hands on the table made Pegasus flinch. A couple of cards he had laid out flew into the air. Kaiba stood up, unintentionally pushing his chair a few feet back. “If it means letting the power of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon get into the hands of a scumbag named Adam Prince then no! The fact that I didn’t even know about this card says more than enough!”

    Pegasus took another sip to recover, then spoke with gentle words. “Hmm. Adam Prince, you say? I’ve had plenty of bidders for that card, but I can’t say I’ve heard that name before.”

    Kaiba blinked, staring at his vein-lined hand. Then… how?

    “If you’re done with your little ragefest, it’s time to get down to business.” Pegasus glanced at something off screen. “Ah, looks like the Tag-Duel card results went well. I’ll alert production immediately.”

    He turned to the side again, looking there for a few seconds, as if suspicious of eavesdroppers. Then, he leaned closer to the screen, whispering. “Now, about that hacker.”

    Kaiba lifted his eyes upward. Though his face remained hardened, his eyes were softened by curiosity. He turned to the fallen chain behind him, glancing at the half dozen cards lying on the ground. Pegasus’s voice called him back to the computer.

    “As you know, late last week an unknown networker hacked into our database, and my vacation was ruined.” He flung his some of his hair back; it gracefully fell onto his shoulder blade. “I mean, talk about inopportune timing. I was just starting to enjoy myself too.” When he saw Kaiba roll his eyes, Pegasus recomposed himself. “Anyway, I had my team scan the systems immediately to try to kick it out.”

    Kaiba lifted the chair, returning its rightful place by the desk. He sat. “So, how far into the security did this ‘hacker’ manage to breech?

    Pegasus had taken a sip of wine while Kaiba spoke. He set the glass down; the liquid within it danced along its edges, attempting to escape. “Pretty far. It was as if the security system never existed. We had to reinstall the whole thing, and then poof. Gone again.”

    A considering finger touched Kaiba’s chin. “Were any secure files accessed or removed?”

    “No, none.” Pegasus flipped his hair again. “Surprisingly, files were added.”

    “Added?” Kaiba asked, intrigued.

    “Yes, nothing was corrupted or damaged or anything. Just disabled. I can view them just fine, but any attempts to alter them are completely ineffective. As of right now, they’ve made no changes to any previously existing files.” Pegasus angled himself away from the screen again. The sounds of typing keys snuck through the speaker. “And, most importantly, we found this.”

    A small window opened on Kaiba’s screen, covering the left side of Pegasus’s torso. It appeared to be formatted like an E-mail, only the sending options were corrupted, rending them unusable.

    Leaning closer, Kaiba read:

    Hello Pegasus,

    Took a little bit to access this system. A little shy of two hours, I’d say, maybe less. Don’t bother repairing the security; we’ll just delete it again the next time we access your database. Truthfully, we’ve been able to do so for quite some time. You see, we’re in the middle of a business operation that is destined for greatness, and we feel that your system is an essential part of this process. We felt, however, that you wouldn’t willingly give it to us, so we decided to seize it by force.

    Don’t be alarmed, we’ll give it back soon. We just need to hang onto it until our project reaches its final stages, then your precious Duel Monsters Server is all yours. But we’re not a greedy group; you’ll still be able to look through all of your core files to make sure they’re all safe and sound. Just… we took the liberty of adding a touch of our own.

    As of right now we have several of our accomplices lurking among the city streets, particularly in Domino City, where Kaiba Corp’s main server is stationed. Specifically the Duel Disk server. We feel that his company will also be of great use to us, and, in due time, I’m sure you and Kaiba will agree. As of right now, we have a couple of Duel Disks that we customized to work in our favor. One day you’ll thank us, and we’ll gladly be able to say your technology helped revolutionize the game you created as well as the state of the world as we know it.

    Hope we didn’t interrupt your vacation.​

    Regards,

    The Deck Hackers​


    Kaiba leaned back a bit, shifting his gaze back toward Pegasus, who had patiently stared at him the entire time.

    “Looks like we have a little fan club.” Kaiba cupped his hands together.

    “They appear to be more than that.” Pegasus finished off his wine, nervously placing the glass off screen. As he pulled his hand away, Kaiba heard a clang and then a crash. Looking at the floor next to him, Pegasus cursed.

    Standing up, Kaiba placed his hands near either side of the monitor. “Well, if it’s a fight they want, then it’s a fight they’ll get. I’ll be over first thing tomorrow to assess the damages.”

    “Hang on!” Pegasus barked. “We need to address the situation as a whole, not just the individual pieces. Do you want to risk having everything you’ve worked for stolen right out from under your nose!?”

    “Not like it’s never happened before.” Kaiba said, eying the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon card still on the counter. He took a breath. “I’ll have Mokuba and my security team take care of things here. As of right now, your company is in jeopardy, while mine is not. If we want to make any progress in this, we’ll have to act immediately. In the meantime, I’ll have the local authorities arrest anyone with illegal or suspicious hardware.”

    Pegasus huffed, then winked. “I gotta say Kaiba-boy, it’s not like you to help out a rival company so willingly.”

    “Who said I was?” he asked curtly. “Why wait for the bugs to crawl towards me when I can squash them at the nest?”

    Pegasus nodded. He bent down to pick up the broken fragments; Kaiba shut off the computer, ending their session.

    Mokuba stood behind the door on the other end of the room, his hands grasping onto its frame. When Kaiba stopped speaking, he entered, approaching the desk. Kaiba knelt down to pick up his fallen cards.

    “I’ll assume that I don’t need to repeat myself.”

    Mokuba shook his head. He knelt down as well, helping his brother. “So, how long are you gonna be gone?”

    “I don’t know Mokuba.” He stood up, accepting the cards Mokuba handed to him. “Depending on how carefully these ‘Deck Hackers’ are covering their tracks, I’ll need to continuously run through Pegasus’s systems to catch the virus and crack their locks.” He walked back over to the desk. “After that, it’s only a matter of tracing the signal back to the source.”

    “But what about the city? Pegasus made it sound like these thugs were duelists. What if we need you to teach them a lesson?”

    “Call Yugi and inform him about only what he needs to know in order to get his job done.”

    Kaiba nearly gathered the cards he left on the counter when Mokuba grabbed his arm. “We can’t, Seto. Yugi and his friends are away for the next two months. We just got this postcard from them yesterday.”

    Mokuba reached into his pocket, then showed the postcard to Kaiba. Upon sighting Joey Wheeler, he winced involuntarily.

    “So,” Mokuba started, “who are we gonna call now?”

    Kaiba looked back to the desk. They needed someone who would be able to take on tough opponents amidst any potential danger. Naturally, he was up for the task, but his duties limited him. Yugi was out of the question. There was really no one lef…

    Wait… A memory flashed into Kaiba’s eyes; his pupils widened, then shrunk upon his sudden realization.

    With a brisk turn, Kaiba slipped the cards off his desk, sifting through them quickly. Then his eyes fell upon the one he needed. The Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

    No one has the power to summon this card besides me, and in my hands this card is unstoppable. And yet, Yugi managed to take its power and created something even stronger.

    Kaiba turned towards the window. While his head tilted towards the streets below, his sight seemed to be drawn inward.

    He was the only one ever to do so, until –

    “Seto?” Mokuba walked up next to him. “Did you hear me?”

    Kaiba’s mouth formed into a grave, thin line. “Yes.”

    Gently taking his brother’s shoulder, he motioned for them to leave. As they walked, Mokuba saw Kaiba slide two cards into his Extra Deck slot. He recognized both. One with purple borders, another with silver.

    Kaiba grasped the door’s handle, swinging it open in a quick burst.

    “He may be the only other duelist we can trust.”


    ~*~*~*~


    Card Analyzer activated…

    Accessing Card Database… Searching for Card Data …

    … Data Found:


    Spark of Life
    [Spell/Continuous]
    Every time a FIRE monster is Special Summoned from the Graveyard, inflict 300 points of damage to you and your opponent.


    Distrustful Intentions
    [Trap]
    Activate only when your opponent controls a “Trusting” monster. Tribute 1 monster you control. Negate that monster’s effects as long as your opponent controls that monster.


    Proposal
    [Trap]
    Activate only if you have a “Lovey-Dovey Boy” or “Lovey-Dovey Groom” on your side of the field. Select 1 of the above monsters and activate the appropriate effect:
    -“Lovey-Dovey Boy”: Add 1 “Engagement Ring” from your Deck (or your partner’s Deck if in a Tag Duel) to your hand (or your partner’s hand). Then this card is treated as an Equip Spell Card and is equipped to the selected monster. The equipped monster is treated as two “Lovey-Dovey Boy” cards.
    -“Lovey-Dovey Groom”: This card is treated as a Continuous Trap Card. The selected monster cannot be destroyed in battle as long as a “Lovey-Dovey Bride” is on your side of the field. If “Lovey-Dovey Bride” is removed from the field, destroy the selected monster and this card.​
     
  15. UltimatePokemonExpert

    UltimatePokemonExpert Experienced Trainer

    This just gets better and better. I can't figure out if Adam is a good guy or a bad guy. Can't wait for the next chapter!
     
  16. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    Haha, thanks. Adam was meant to be a mysterious character, and I'm having fun writing everyone else's rage towards him. :D

    Not sure when I'm gonna post Chapter Seventeen yet; the next few chapters tie together with it very tightly, so I wanna make sure those are at least somewhat postable before I start the next sequence.
     
  17. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    Chapter Seventeen


    Nearly a day had passed since either Josh or Dave had seen Adam, and Dave wanted to keep it that way. Despite Josh’s explanation (which he admitted was a poor one), Dave refused to believe Adam was a good person deep down. The arrogance and indirect insults to him and his idol were more than he could take. Instead of continuing that conversation, they just called it a night.

    With the beta tests behind now them, Josh and Dave decided to pay a visit in Grandpa’s shop the following morning. At least, Dave did. Josh could’ve done without it, but it felt that he owed Dave for continuing that annoying conversation. Dave leaned against the counter, propping himself up with his forearms as Grandpa told his tale. Josh, on the other hand, stood to the side with his arms crossed. He occasionally glanced at the old man but mostly kept his gaze on the display of cards and knick-knacks on the walls.

    “And that’s how I escaped the tomb unharmed!”

    Grandpa gave a hearty laugh, gripping his overalls and tearing up from joy. Josh simply stared at him, confused and uninterested. He twisted to see Dave, who had given his full attention to Grandpa’s story.

    “That’s amazing! So that’s how you found Yugi’s Millenium Puzzle?”

    “Yep!” Grandpa winked. Taking a box of cards off the counter, he sighed. “But that was when I was young and adventurous. Now I’m old and have gas problems.” He laughed again.

    Josh stepped away.

    “That’s so awesome,” Dave said, gesturing towards the box. Grandpa handed it to him. “Any new cards in here?”

    “Nope, that’s the bargain bin.” Grandpa whirled around, snatching another box from a shelf behind him. “Here.” He placed it on the counter.

    “Thanks.” Dave opened it up and began to search through it. Josh slowly inched for the door.

    “Looking for anything specific there, lad?”

    Dave nodded. “In the final round of the tournament, I used Pot of Greed against this guy, Adam. But he somehow managed to empty my deck in one move and I lost the duel because of it.”

    A flash of excitement lit up in the old man’s pupils. “I have just the card!” Ripping the box out of Dave’s hands, he shoved his hand inside, pulling out a Spell Card. “There ya go!”

    Dave accepted it. “Pot of Avarice.”

    “Yep,” Grandpa said. “That card shuffles five monsters from your Graveyard back into your Deck before you draw, so you’ll never have to worry about decking out again.”

    The teen smiled. “It’s perfect, thanks!”

    “No problem.” Grandpa moved over to the cashier register and typed in some numbers. “That’ll be fifteen dollars.”

    Josh tripped on a crack in the floor, slamming into a cardboard-cutout of a Duel Monster. Scrambling to pick it up, he rebalanced it, then raced over to their conversation.

    “Fifteen dollars?! For one card!?”

    “Sold.” Dave pulled out his wallet.

    Josh smacked the wallet away, which promptly fell onto the floor. “You gotta be kidding me!”

    “That’s not too bad,” Dave said, bending down to get it. “That Dragon Master Knight card cost me fifty bucks, and that was with a coupon and a discount.”

    Josh threw his hands into the air. “That’s a rip-off!” His friend seemed unfazed.

    “If you’re so worried about prices, how ‘bout you sift through the bargain bin?” Dave slid the box his way.

    Josh sighed. “If you insist.” He spread some cards out with his fingers.

    There was a strange variety of cards in it, too. It was mostly Spells and Traps, but there were a few monsters in there, although they had pretty low ATK and DEF scores. All of their images looked cool to him, too; an Egyptian-looking man in one, a soldier standing under a bunch flying monsters in another, but the pictures didn’t matter much. What did matter was their effects, and how they could help his deck.

    “We’ve got an excellent deal for them, too.” Grandpa smiled widely, lifting up two fingers. “They’re fifty cents apiece, or three for two dollars!”

    Josh stopped what he was doing, processing what Grandpa just said.

    “Just ‘cause they’re cheap doesn’t mean they’re not good,” Dave said, noticing his friend’s hesitation. “Sometimes the best combos are made from the weakest cards. Here, I’ll get you some too. My treat.” He reached a hand in as well.

    “Dave… that’s not wh–”

    “These three look good.” He took out three Spell Cards, fanning them out to Grandpa.

    “Alright, that’s two dollars.”

    Cash was exchanged before Josh even blinked.

    “Thanks again, Mr. Muto!” Dave said, turning to leave. Josh hastily followed.

    “No problem boys!” Grandpa waved. “Oh, and call me Gran–”

    Josh closed the door behind him.

    “Here ya go.” Dave handed the cards to Josh.

    Josh frowned, reluctantly taking them. “You didn’t have to.”

    “Don’t worry about it. I bought them for their names, mostly.”

    This confused Josh. He looked at them more closely.

    “Yu-Jo Friendship, Unity, and Angel’s Floating Feather.” Josh raised an eyebrow, looking back to Dave. “Uh… what?”

    “You don’t get it, do you?” Dave adjusted his hat before pointing to each one individually. “Yu-Jo Friendship is us. When I see this card, I always think about how we meet in our freshman year of high school, and how far our friendship has gone since then. To me, Unity represents how you always had my back when I was in trouble, and vice-versa.” Dave smiled softly. “I dunno, I after seeing these cards so often in Grandpa’s shop I got more meaning out of them than most people would. You’re really the only friend from high school that I still keep in regular contact with, and I’m glad that nothing has separated us. I hope it stays that way in the future.”

    Josh smiled too. Sappiness wasn’t usually in Dave’s nature. “I get ya. But what does this last one mean?”

    A gentle breeze huffed through the air, causing their clothes to ripple with the wind. Josh turned to the trees; leaves floated with the updraft, being carried far beyond the branches they came from. Though they were long separated from their original trees, the leaves flew together along the invisible stream of gust. Continuing to swivel gracefully across the street, they flied higher and higher until the sun hid them in its widespread light.

    Readjusting his hat again, Dave said, “You’ll figure it out eventually.”


    ~*~*~*~​


    Very few cars were on the road today; only the sounds of birds, wind, and footsteps ever reached the duo’s ears. They kept close together, consciously keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. There appeared to be none so far – just random bypassers heading in the opposite direction, going about their own business without even acknowledging the two. While Josh glanced across the street, Dave searched through his deck as they walked.

    “So, Mokuba said we had to hunt down the Deck Hackers ourselves?” Josh asked.

    Dave smirked. “I thought you didn’t want to duel ‘guys with guns’ anymore.”

    Sweat shot from Josh’s hairline. “Of course not!” He laughed nervously. “By we, I meant you.”

    “I’m just kidding.” Dave fanned his deck back together. “Besides, if Kaiba wants me to actively search for them, things must be serious.” He shoved his deck into its slot. “That guy doesn’t mess around.”

    “Yeah, I know.” Josh’s voice faltered, recalling Kaiba’s threats.

    Dave’s seeking eyes surveyed ahead. “We just need to keep an eye out for trouble.”

    They continued along the sidewalk for a bit, with the occasionally car passing them by. It was a quiet day. Disappointingly quiet. No signs of hostility presented themselves, and while they were grateful for that, they did hope to serve their purpose soon.

    After all, Josh thought, if we have to deal with these guys anyway, I’d rather do it sooner than later.

    Manic laughter, followed by gasps and cries, echoed from ahead. The duo had gotten their wish.

    They faced each other, nodding in agreement before running toward the noise.

    Approaching a crowd gathered around a side street, Dave and Josh could just barely see a duel; on the side farther away from them a man, who appeared to be in his late twenties, held up his hand of five cards, fanning them at his monsters. They were all Machine-types – a floating blue humanoid machine with two cannons mounted on its shoulders, a red dragon-like robot with a sparkling sheen, and a yellow tank-like machine that glared dully with its one green eye. They pushed closer to the center, trying to get a better view. Unable to see any other cards out besides those three, they brought their attention on the side closest to them.

    The man’s opponent, a young teenage kid, cowered silently at the machines, his card-wielding fingers shaking uncontrollably. Dave saw two face-down cards beside a Continuous Spell Card (which he couldn’t see clearly due to the height of the person in front of him), and, in front of them, two monsters that hid face-down.

    “From the look on your face, I can guess you know what’s gonna happen next!” The man shouted. “As you should. Now get ready!”

    Finally reaching the center of the circle, Josh could see both duelists more clearly. The man had his brown hair slicked back, and the residual hair gel created a glare off his pointed bangs. A crooked smile sat on his face as he stared down the young kid opposite him. He wore a yellow shirt that seemed slightly torn, as if he had been slashed by some kind of sharp weapon. His hat was remarkably similar to Dave’s – perhaps it was even the same one. The kid stepped back, apparentl…

    Wait a sec.

    Josh examined him more closely. Despite having his back turned, he felt that he recognized this kid. He had just seen him once, but couldn’t place where.

    Suddenly, it clicked. The tournament! Josh thought. He was the first duelist I ever faced! Josh stepped closer, worriment increasing.

    “Now I’ll combine my X-Cannon Head, Y-Dragon Cannon, and Z-Metal Tank to form the unstoppable XYZ-Dragon Cannon!”

    The three robots scrambled their positions – the humanoid robot connected to the top of the dragon robot, which, in turn, connected to the tank underneath it – until they formed a totem pole of mechanical warfare. (2800/2600) Charging cannons reflected in the boy’s pupils. Unconsciously, crowd members backed up, pushing closer to the sidewalks. Dave watched them, surprised at their apparent fear.

    What exactly is going on here?

    “Alrighty!” the man shouted, cocking his Disk parallel to his head. “I’ll discard all five cards in my hand to destroy that Vengeful Bog Spirit, along with those other four face-down cards you have!”

    XYZ-Dragon Cannon reconfigured its weapons, aiming one at each card on the field. As the two shoulder-cannons unleashed their blasts, the dragon-head spewed out a pink beam, and the tank shot another two missiles from its sides. They all released simultaneously; blue orbs emitted out of each cannon, connecting together into an ‘X’.

    Each explosion followed the other, starting from the front row and quickly ripping its way to the back. The boy shielded his eyes, protecting them from the smoke it created.

    “Now for the grand finale!” The man laughed. “Blow him away!”

    As if awaiting the command, the war machine fired the same five shots at the teenager, releasing them simultaneously. Blue orbs emitted out each cannon, connecting them together into an ‘X’-shape that followed the missiles and beams and smoke until they made impact. Just one blast knocked the boy onto his back, with the others throwing him further into the crowd. [Kid LP: (600 --> 0)] His hat fell to the ground beside him, covered in a thin layer of soot.

    Collective gasps could be heard from everyone around them. Josh felt something slam into his arm. Another boy brushed past him to consult the fallen duelist. This boy’s orange shirt was wrinkled and dusted. He had some scratches and bruises on him, too, but those seemed to be slightly more settled than the one dueling now. Not even a moment later, Josh recognized this second boy as the duelist who helped teach him the game.

    The boy placed his hand under the other’s head, carefully trying to lift him up. “Timmy! Are you alright?”

    He nodded weakly, frowned. “Matt… I’m sorry. I couldn’t win.”

    “That’s right you couldn’t.”

    Miraculously, the man loomed over the two teenagers, tripping Matt and grabbing Timmy by the collar. He tugged Timmy off the ground, clutching onto the Duel Disk equipped to his arm.

    “And, as you promised, I’ll be taking your deck, and keeping your brother’s!”

    In one seamless motion, he kicked Timmy in the stomach and snatched the deck from the Card Analyzer. Timmy held his gut, curling his knees closer to his torso. The man twisted around, aimlessly shouting as he started to leave.

    “Haha! That’s another win for the Deck Hackers! And we got not one, but two decks!”

    Deck Hackers! That was all the permission Dave needed. He burst forward, shoving others aside without effort, and grasped onto the hacker’s shoulder. Digging his fingers into the hacker’s collar bone, Dave used all his strength to toss him to the ground.

    The hacker fell to his knees, scraping his hands against the pavement. “What in the…!” he mumbled angrily, glancing over to see Dave activating his Duel Disk.

    “Deck Hacker or not, no one gets away with bullying kids.” He flicked the rim of his hat upward, revealing the sparkling anger in his green eyes. “I’ll duel you and win their decks back!”

    “Hey, isn’t that kid a finalist from Kaiba’s tournament?” a male voice asked.

    “Yeah!” a female one responded. “He beat that crazy psycho who stole his deck. It was amazing!”

    Soft murmuring voices repeated similar questions.

    The hacker dusted himself off, overhearing these conversations. “So, it’s true? You’re the one who defeated my accomplice.”

    Dave, expression grimly stern, nodded.

    Pondering, the hacker snapped his fingers continuously. When he reached a conclusion, he snapped them again, this time causing his Duel Disk to activate. “Alright, but you’ll have to relinquish your deck like the others if you lose.” He whipped his tongue like a serpent’s.

    “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Dave retorted.

    Both players pulled their cards, hiding their mouths behind the cardboard fans. Josh bent down to the two teens, helping them to their feet. They acknowledged him with reverence; he guessed that they recognized him the same way he recognized them. Acting as a guardian to the two brothers, Josh brought them back within the safety of the crowd.

    “It’s okay, Dave’ll win for you guys,” he said, touching their backs with his fingertips.

    “I dunno,” Timmy said, groaning a bit. “I thought I was winning at first but then…” he sent his gaze downcast.

    Matt continued for him. “He’s too good. Dave might’ve beaten that crazy lady, but this guy is a completely different story.”

    Josh gazed back at Dave, whose face remained unchanged since the challenge had been made. Observing the faces of those around him, he noticed a hint of fright hidden in each of their eyes, as if aware of a dangerous force that couldn’t be seen.

    Dave, be careful man, Josh thought, keeping the two teens close.

    I can’t let this guy get away with this, Dave thought.

    He gazed at the deck that brought him so far – the deck he spent a third of his life constructing. To think it could belong in the hands of another was sickening. He couldn’t let that happen.

    He wouldn’t.

    The hacker slipped out a sixth card, cracking a twisted grin at him.

    Dave gritted his teeth. Here we go.

    [Dave LP: (8000)] [Deck Hacker LP: (8000)]​

    “Since I’m hosting the show – I’ll go first!” The hacker said. “First up I’ll play a monster face-down, then end my turn.”

    A brown-backed card flashed before him.

    Josh turned to Timmy. “So far this doesn’t seem so tough.”

    Timmy shook his head. “Just wait. He’s got a card so powerful that once it’s played the game is basically guaranteed to be over.”

    “My move.” Dave drew. He glanced at the drawn card, then considered a strategy that would end the duel quickly. If that kid’s right, I can’t let this drag out for too long. “I summon Dark Blade in Attack Mode!”

    The spike-armored warrior burst out of a vortex of shadows, swiping its two Arabian blades towards the sky. (1800/1500)

    “Now – attack his monster!”

    Dark Blade pranced at the brown card; its feet moving so quickly that they appeared to be dancing. The warrior stabbed both blades into the card simultaneously, revealing the blue, chandelier-like monster, whose own flames seared its body. (550/400) Dark Blade ripped its swords away, shredding the monster into three even pieces.

    A Normal Monster? Dave thought. Why would he have such a weak Normal Monster in his deck?

    “I place one card face-down and end.” Dave gripped onto his hat, readjusted it.

    “Alright then.” The hacker smiled. “My move.” He picked up a new card, added it to his hand, then played another card all in one motion. “I’ll play another face-down monster and end my turn.”

    Again? Josh thought, surveying the crowd. They all watched on solemnly, almost knowingly. Something’s not right.

    “In that case.” Dave slapped a card onto his Duel Disk. “I summon Black Luster Knight!”

    The young knight leaped out of its card hologram, unsheathing its sword, landing beside its ally. Its gauntlet lit up with golden streaks and its black cape rippled in the wind. (1400/1000; Counters: 2)

    “Black Luster Knight, wipe out his monster. Sword Penetration!”

    Black Luster Knight dashed at the hidden monster, swiping its blade, knocking its hiding spot away. The once hidden monster – a small rat with its skeleton exposed (400/200) – cowered in fear as the knight moved in for a lethal blow.

    Another weak monster. Dave shook the thought off. No, I can’t let that distract me. I have to end this now!

    “Dark Blade –” he pointed at the grinning thief – “direct attack!”

    Dark Blade dove in; holding its two swords high above its shoulders. When it came close to its prey, it lowered them, slashing at the hacker’s chest, leaving a mark resembling an ‘X’. [Deck Hacker LP: (8000 --> 6200)] The hacker sagged his shoulders, shrugged off his pain.

    “I end my turn,” Dave said firmly.

    “Fine with me,” the hacker grinned.

    Dave scowled. What the hell is he planning?

    “I activate Enchanting Fitting Room,” he said. A red shower curtain draped around the duelist, hung over him by a floating gold ring. “All I have to do is pay 800 Life Points –” [Deck Hacker LP: (6200 --> 5400)] “– and then I can pick up the top four cards of my deck.” The hacker fanned out four cards, presenting them to Dave. “And if any of them are Level 3 or lower Normal Monsters, I can Special Summon them to the field.”

    “And if they’re not?” Dave spat.

    “Then they return to my deck and I shuffle it. But that won’t be necessary.” The hacker flipped the cards over. “’Cause all four of them fit the requirements!”

    The crowd watched on as the curtain closed; consuming the hacker in its veil. When it opened again, four monsters sat crouching towards the ground. From left to right, Dave saw a large grasshopper with large red eyes (500/700), an opened book with arms and legs (650/500), a green puddle that had a head shaped like a frog (700/500), and a worn jar that contained a blackened creature with one sinister eye and a crooked smile (400/200). Beside them, another card appeared, lying horizontally next to them.

    “I set another monster face-down, then I’ll play another card and end my turn.” A final brown-backed card flashed by his feet, only this one lied vertically.

    “My draw,” Dave said. I just gotta keep slicing at his Life Points before he reveals his true strategy. He mused, analyzing his options. This card should do the trick. “I activate Unarmed Assault!”

    The Spell Card reappeared beside Dave, behind his two warriors. The image depicted Black Luster Soldier leaping off a cliff, simultaneously hurling its sword towards an airborne Blue-Eyes White Dragon.

    The hacker laughed. “Ah, interesting card there. But what’s it do?”

    “Shut up and I’ll show you.” That silenced his opponent. Dave continued; the crowd took a breath. “With this card I can remove any number of Black Luster Counters from cards I control and convert them into 200 points of damage each.”

    Black Luster Knight lifted its arms; the glowing streaks on its gauntlets vanished, leaving the armor a dulled blue. The streaks swirled throughout the air, circling the two duelists.

    “So I’ll take my Black Luster Knight’s two counters and convert it into damage!” Dave held out his arm. “Attack!”

    The swirling streaks spiraled around the field more rapidly, as if charging up with momentum. Soon they became solid yellow lines, both of them met at Dave’s side and surged towards the hacker, smashing straight into his stomach. [Deck Hacker LP: (5400 --> 5000)] The hacker bent forward, exhaled forcibly.

    “Not bad.” He erected his stance. “But good luck getting through to me with my wall of monsters out.”

    “Then let me change that – Black Luster Knight, attack!”

    The knight, quickly composing itself on command, lurched its body forward, holding its sword parallel to its chest. The grasshopper gazed obliviously at the oncoming monster, only aware of its malicious intent once its blade split its head in between its two red eyes.

    The hacker brushed off his shoulder. “So what? That’s only one monster; I can always bring out another one.”

    “Make that two monsters. Dark Blade – attack!”

    Dark Blade crossed its swords together, uncrossing them as it drew near the brown, jar-like monster. The once happy grin on its face reverted to a contorted frown; its eye seemed to lurch out as its body exploded into a pile of rubble.

    “And with that, I end my turn –”

    “And with that, I activate this!” The hacker extended his arm towards the sky; his face-down card followed. “Human-Wave Tactics!”

    Crap. Dave clenched his teeth.

    “At the end of every turn, when my Level two or lower Normal Monster are destroyed in combat, I can replace them with an equal number of Level two or lower Normal Monsters.” The hacker grinned, held out his arms, presenting his new creatures. “So say hello to Ojama Green and Ojama Yellow!”

    Two small humanoid monsters appeared on either side of the hacker’s field. On the left, a green monster with one huge yellow eye grinned madly, flapping around its long, drool-covered tongue and showing off its red spandex. (0/1000) Meanwhile, on the right, the yellow monster twirled its eyes around, since they were connected to two tentacle-like body parts in its eyesockets, licking its big red lips…

    … and showing off its red spandex. (0/1000)

    Josh covered the younger teens’ eyes. “Well, that’s just creepy.”

    “Now it’s my move.” He drew, smiled. “And now it’s your move!” He chuckled.

    Dave raised an eyebrow. Something’s definitely wrong here. “I’ll activate my face-down card.” The purple-bordered card rose, unleashing a black crossbow that latched onto Dark Blade’s arm.

    The hacker raised an eyebrow. “Nice gear.”

    Dave ignored him. “When Ebon Arrow is activated, it allows me to pick one monster I control and decreases its ATK by 500 until the end of the turn.” (1800 --> 1300/1500)

    Why would he deliberately weaken his own monster? Josh wondered, then immediately caught on.

    There’s more to it.

    “Now, Dark Blade, attack with Nightwing Arrow!”

    Dark Blade pulled onto the crossbow’s strings, and a black-tipped arrow instantly materialized in a whirlwind of shadows. It turned, carefully pointing at Ojama Yellow with its entire arm.

    “And, you should know,” Dave said, “when a monster equipped with Ebon Arrow attacks a Defense Position monster, you still take damage.”

    The hacker frowned.

    Dave swung his arm. “Fire!”

    Dark Blade released its grip, launching the arrow across the pavement, piercing through both Ojama Yellow’s large mouth, and the hacker’s left arm.

    “Gah!” The hacker shouted, reeling his head back. [Deck Hacker LP: (5000 --> 4700)] He returned his gaze at Dave, with one eye closed. “All that trouble for so little damage?”

    A dark mist shrouded the hacker, working its way around his wound.

    “Hey, what gives?” He tried swatting it away, failed.

    Dave smirked. “I forgot to mention Ebon Arrow’s last effect. It takes the DEF value of your destroyed monster and inflicts it as damage.”

    “Wha?” The mist whipped around him, constricting his limbs like tightening ropes. [Deck Hacker LP: (4700 --> 3700)]

    “Now, Black Luster Knight, take out another monster.” Dave touched the rim of his hat. “Sword Penetration!”

    Eagerly, the young knight sliced its sword at the living book, tearing it in half from its binding.

    “That’s my turn.”

    “And now I’ll bring out two more monsters with my Human-Wave Tactics card.”

    Another black, humanoid monster took the field, flexing its chest and arms, as well as showing off its red spandex. (0/1000) Next to it, a purplish-black plant sprouted, rose up and gazed darkly at its opponent. (300/400)

    “My draw, then.” The hacker picked up his top card, his pupils shone with glee. “Gahahaha!” He laughed, swinging his arm to the side, bringing his Duel Disk with it. “It’s all over! I activate Bartering of Kings!”

    The crowd gasped, turning to each other to voice their concerns. Soon the commotion became uproar, and though he tried, Dave couldn’t ignore it any longer. He gritted his teeth, adjusting his camouflage hat again.

    “No!” Timmy shouted. Josh turned, anxious. “That’s the card he beat me with!”

    It must be an Illegal card, Dave thought. Just like the one Jonathan used against Josh.

    “When Bartering of Kings is played, both players switch everything besides their fields and hands.”

    Realization struck Dave, widening his stare. No! He looked to his deck. The crowd did the same – it seemed as if thousands of eyes were staring at it, longing to hang onto it for him, but knew they simply couldn’t.

    “That’s right.” The hacker put his hand to his own deck, pulled it out of its slot. “Now hand it over.” He casually strode past his wall of monsters.

    Dave remained frozen in place. The images of every card in his deck flashed before his eyes. Luster Dragon, Sworn into the Army, Black Luster Soldier…

    Now they would be used against him.

    “Hand it over,” the hacker repeated, holding out his own deck in exchange.

    Josh put a hand on the trembling teenager’s shoulders. So this is how he won with so many weak monsters. He furrowed his brow. He knows that nearly any deck can take it out, so when he trades decks he has a clear advantage over his opponent. Josh turned his gaze to the faces of the young teens.

    Their eyes exposed their fear.

    Back on the field, Dave silently swapped decks with the hacker, sulking as he shoved his new deck into his Duel Disk. His stare hid under his hat, but Josh could tell he felt that he had already lost.

    Everyone had.

    With the stealth of a ninja, the hacker returned to his original spot. “Hope you like your new toys, ‘cause I’ll certainly like mine! Gahaahaha!”

    Dave shot his glance to his hand. These last five cards were all that stayed with him. He had to make the most out of them.

    The hacker threw another card down. “How ‘bout we start out fresh? I activate Card Destruction!”

    A dead heartbeat slammed against Dave’s chest.

    No, Josh thought. That means…

    “We each discard our hands and replace them with new cards from our decks.” He fanned out his three drawn cards. No, Dave’s cards.

    His old cards.

    “Now let’s see what we have here...” the hacker mused.

    Meanwhile, Dave looked down at his own hand. All Normal Monsters; none of their ATKs even broke 1000.

    I’m screwed.

    “Ah, this looks like a fine choice!” The hacker said, smacking his tongue. “Black Luster Ritual!”

    “What!” Josh shouted, stepped forward, unconsciously pushing both teenagers aside. The crowd grew unsteady, backed up.

    Blue flames burned around the hacker’s monsters in a perfect circle, slowly expanding until it consumed each monster one by one. None of them moved; they knew their purpose had been fulfilled. Now the hacker’s real plan would begin.

    “Emerge, my Black Luster Soldier!” The hacker yelled, holding out his arms toward the sky. The flames flew upward, surging into the air with dramatic flair. Dave felt the heat, saw the light blue glow against his camouflage clothes. Then, the light faded.

    And the Black Luster Soldier stood with its sword poised at his throat.


    ~*~*~*~


    Card Analyzer activated…

    Accessing Card Database… Searching for Card Data …

    … Data Found:


    Reorganized Resourcesp
    [Trap]
    When this card is activated, take all Black Luster Counters on the field and place them on this card. (Cards that would be destroyed at this time are not destroyed) Place any amount of Black Luster Counters on any card that can have Black Luster Counters on them. (If the maximum amount of Black Luster Counters is not specified on the card, the maximum is 20)


    Unarmed Assault
    [Spell]
    This card can only be activated if there is at least 1 Black Luster Counters on the field. Remove up to 10 Black Luster Counters from the field. Inflict 200 points of damage to your opponent’s Life Points for every Black Luster Counter that was removed.


    Trusting Chanter
    ***
    [Dark]
    [Spellcaster/Effect]
    (1300/900)
    During a Tag Duel, this monster can be used for battle by both its controller and their partner. Also, they can activate Spell cards from each other’s side of the field. During a Normal Duel, this card is treated as a Normal Monster and the previous effects are ignored.​
     
  18. UltimatePokemonExpert

    UltimatePokemonExpert Experienced Trainer

    Wow, didn't see that coming. Please tell me you have a plan for Dave to beat that guy.
     
  19. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    I'll post the next chapter soon so you can find out. :p
     
  20. SerenadeSP

    SerenadeSP My Loyal Feraligatr

    Chapter Eighteen


    Josh kept himself composed, even as those around him started to break down in silent panic. They had seen at least two other duelists fall to this fiendish Deck Hacker, and now it seemed they were about to see another one. Josh swept his eyes along the field again, noticing, in his peripheral vision, that Timmy and Matthew both shuddered uncontrollably.

    Although the Deck Hacker managed to take away Dave’s cards and replace them with near-useless ones, Dave still had two monsters out – Dark Blade (1800/1500) and Black Luster Knight (1400/1000). But even those with poor sight could see that Dave was afraid. Especially now, with his Black Luster Soldier standing against him. (3000/2500) The soldier’s cold, merciless stare magnified its threat; it raised its sword high, causing light to gleam off it.

    Dave gulped; sweat dripped off his hair. The hacker smirked, returning his hand near his waist.

    “Now – attack his Black Luster Knight!”

    Black Luster Soldier lifted its blade; light flashed across it as it had been raised, glimmering into everyone’s eyes. The soldier leapt upward, rapidly descending towards its young apprentice, where it sliced the warrior’s arm off. The warrior fell over, coughing up blood, dying upon hitting the ground.

    Dave watched in silence. [Dave LP: (8000 --> 6400)]

    Josh tried to speak out to him; his astonishment blocked his words. This can’t be happening...

    “I’ll set one card face-down and end my turn.”

    Dave reluctantly picked up the top card of his deck. He felt better when he saw it was a Trap, but that didn’t help much.

    Every duel I’ve ever fought and I’ve never had to battle my own monster. Dave kept his stare on his opponent – his former ally. I can’t believe this…

    He sifted through his cards, knowing that it didn’t matter what he chose to do.

    Nothing could save him now.

    “I’ll place one monster face-down.” A brown card materialized next to Dark Blade, who knelt immediately after, crossing its two swords in front of its face. “And I switch my Dark Blade to Defense Mode.” (1800/1500)

    The hacker laughed. “That all you got, punk?”

    Dave’s voice faltered in his throat. He caught himself before he spoke again.

    “I’ll set another card face-down and end my turn.” He slid the Trap Card into his Duel Disk, then gazed at his feet, reflexively darting his eyes back to the soldier. I can’t let them know I’ve given up already.

    But the crowd already knew.

    “My draw,” the hacker said, ripping out a new card. He glanced at it, smiled. “Ah, look at we have here!” He flipped it over, revealing a Spell Card that depicted a document floating in a kaleidoscope-patterned space.

    Dave grimaced.

    “When I draw Will of Clairvoyance, I can declare one card name. Then, I pick up the top card of my deck. If it’s the card I declared, then I get to add it to my hand.” He held his fingers on top of his deck, thinking. “Let’s see. Will of Clairvoyance is an Equip Spell Card, so what kind of card would work well with an Equip Spell Card.”

    There’s no way he’s gonna guess this right, Josh thought. He’s never even seen Dave’s deck before! How is he gonna know what to pick? From looking around the crowd, he saw that they seemed to agree.

    It doesn’t matter if he knows what to pick, Dave thought angrily. He just needs to choose a card that can help him take me down. If he gets it right, then he’s just lucky. Though, judging from the last few turns, it didn’t matter anymore.

    “Release Restraint Wave sounds good right about now.”

    Panic found its way into Dave’s chest. I have that card in my deck!

    The hacker drew, flipped it over for all to see.

    Release Restraint Wave.

    “Well, will ya look at that?” He grinned.

    Everyone simultaneously gasped. Timmy and Matt stepped closer to Josh, who touched their shoulders, trying to calm them down. He hated to admit it, but he was impressed.

    Dave brought his Duel Disk to his chest, ignored his opponent, instead stared deeply into the Black Luster Soldier’s pupils.

    Its stare was cold.

    “Alright! Now for some real action! I’ll activate Will of Clairvoyance and equip it to your Dark Blade.”

    A holographic scroll materialized before the crowd’s eyes. Hypnotic lights emitted out of the hacker’s Disk, creating a pathway for the scroll to float through. Dark Blade, caught under the light’s influence, snatched the scroll in a daze.

    “Oh, look at that. Looks like your monster seems a little dizzy.” The hacker chuckled. “Let’s fix that!” He held out the Spell Card. “Release Restraint Wave!”

    Lightning shot from the sky, striking random spots on the street. Crowd members dodged each bolt in fright. Josh shielded the two teenagers near him.

    Dave remained steadfast, glowering at the hacker. Even though the bolts would ultimately strike the scroll, he wondered why the hacker would deliberately scare so many innocent people like this.

    An intimidation technique? Perhaps.

    “And, since it’s your card, you should know what happens when Will of Clairvoyance is destroyed.”

    Dave frowned. “It destroys the equipped monster and returns them both to the top of your deck.”

    The hacker gave a condescending smile. “Correct! Then I’ll be able to take what little of your deck you have left!”

    Dave gritted his teeth. He’s right. With Dark Blade gone he’s turned everything I own against me. All I have now is a bunch of weak monsters.

    Black Luster Soldier stared at the face-down monster at Dave’s feet. He could’ve sworn he saw a hint of evil flicker in its eyes as lightning struck nearby, giving its armor an eerie glare. That monster would be its next prey.

    Then it would go in for the kill.

    At last, the lightning ripped through the sky with an earsplitting boom! and struck Dark Blade directly in the helmet. It reeled its head back, dropping its swords which clanged against the concrete. With its remaining strength, the warrior clutched onto its scroll, but the lightning soon seared it into ashes. Dark Blade flexed out its arms, throwing the electricity off its body and redirecting it into the face-down card behind. Within seconds, the face-down Birthright vaporized.

    The crowd stared at Dark Blade as it tried to steady its balance, but the hypnotic lights began to surround it again. Lifting its hung head, it sent a dizzied glance at the hacker before collapsing onto the floor. The lights overtook its shape, and the wind reverted it back into two cards, sweeping them into the hacker’s hands.

    Dave held his breath as Black Luster Soldier raised its sword.

    “Black Luster Soldier – kill!”

    Obediently, the soldier swooped towards the face-down monster, ripping it in half. The image of a small, green blob appeared before deteriorating into nothing.

    “And that’s my turn!” The hacker said, cackling with mad enthusiasm.

    Josh examined Dave’s adversary, his former friend. The Black Luster Soldier had attacked with no remorse. Truthfully, it was a hologram; it only did what it was programed to do. But from the way Dave was acting, he didn’t seem to feel the same way.

    “I set a face-down card and another monster.” Dave’s movements were slowed by this thoughts. “I end.”

    “Now it’s time for me to end this!” The hacker drew, showing the card without looking. “Will of Clairvoyance!” He condescendingly put his hand on his chin, tapping it. “Gee, I wonder what my next card could be?”

    Dave clenched his teeth, nearly growling.

    “Hmm… oh! I know!” The hacker ripped out the top card, as if he had pulled it out of a hat. “Dark Blade!” He turned it over, confirming his selection to himself. “Will you look at that?”

    “Just get on with it,” Dave said with controlled anger.

    The hacker pouted. “Fine, if you want to be that way.”

    The hacker placed down the card, and Dark Blade reemerged beside Black Luster Soldier, sharing its grave expression. (1800/1500)

    “Dark Blade, attack!”

    Without any hesitation, Dark Blade sliced the face-down card into four triangles, vaporizing them instantly. In their place, a tiny squared angel appeared, separating into four pieces in the same fashion before dying.

    “Now for the fun part – Black Luster Soldier!”

    Black Luster Soldier leapt into the air, sword at the ready.

    Dave reflexively lifted a halting hand.

    “You activated my Trap Card!”

    As Black Luster Soldier made its descent, two more squared angels appeared to intercept the attack. The soldier’s blade sliced through one of them like butter, causing it to explode. It returned to its post as the hacker examined the Trap.

    “The League of Uniform Nomenclature,” he said. “So you used one of my stall tactics to defend yourself. Clever, but not clever enough.” He wagged a finger. “You have nothing on me.”

    Dave positioned himself to draw. “We’ll see about that.”

    “I hope he’s wrong,” Timmy said.

    Josh merely nodded.

    “My draw.” Dave lifted the card out his – er, his opponent’s – deck. Encouragement. He didn’t recognize it. Was it a new card? He read its effect in his head:

    “Select 1 Normal Monster on your side of the field. Discard from your hand 2 monsters whose combined levels are 5 or lower. Increase the selected monster’s ATK and DEF by the combined original ATK and DEF of the discarded monsters.”

    He blinked. There’s no way this card is real. He shook his head. It doesn’t matter. If I use this card I may be able to destroy Black Luster Soldier and be one step closer to bringing it back to my side.

    Dave added the card to his hand, glancing at the remaining ones he held. With Triangle Power, I can boost my Mokey-Mokey’s ATK by 2000, and then Encouragement will boost its ATK beyond 3000 – more than enough to destroy Black Luster Soldier. But… He read over Triangle Power again. No matter what happens I lose my monster.

    Dave lifted his eyes, found both of his monsters staring darkly into them. They acted like they were subdued by a superior force – slaves to a new master. If he didn’t win this duel, they would be bound to his fiendish opponent forever.

    I have no choice.

    “I activate Triangle Power!”

    A small hut of green energy formed around the rectangular energy, granting it temporary strength. (300 --> 2300/100 --> 2100) It flexed its arms, failing to impress the crowd.

    The hacker watched, amused. “So, you’ve become desperate to fight back, huh? Sorry, but when that boost expires so does your monster. Then my Black Luster Soldier –” Dave (and Josh) cringed when he said ‘my’ “– will slice away the rest of your Life Points.”

    Dave stared back at the Black Luster Soldier in front of him. His Black Luster Soldier. The unmoving eyes of the warrior told him exactly what he needed to do.

    “Sorry, but you’re not taking my cards away from me!” Dave slipped a card out of his grip with dignity. “I activate Encouragement!”

    The hacker gasped theatrically. “No! Not that!”

    Dave grinned. “That’s right!” He bent his fingers, positioning the card beside a correct spot on his Duel Disk. “By the end of this turn, the Black Luster Soldier will fall!”

    He slid the card in.

    “Or…” the hacker’s eyes glimmered. “The Black Luster Soldier will stay exactly where it belongs!”

    “What are yo–”

    “Dave!” Josh shouted. Dave turned to him. “Look!” He pointed; others’ watched on.

    Dave’s Duel Disk wisped with static, an unrealistically rainbow glow covered its platforms. He shook it violently, as if his arm had been set ablaze. Just as the static grew more intense, the hologram of a Spell Card appeared, only to dematerialize into ones and zeros. They rose into the air, vaporized; as did any hope of winning this duel.

    Dave glanced at the source of the problem. The Encouragement card ejected from his Duel Disk, searing with smoke.

    “No…”

    The hacker clapped. “It’s okay, boy! You made a good effort!” He crossed his arms, touching a finger to his chin. “It just wasn’t enough.”

    Traumatized pupils faced the hacker. “I don’t understand.” The pupils flared, changing to rage. “What did you do!”

    The hacker merely laughed. “I did nothing. And, well, you did nothing.”

    “What the hell does that mean!” Dave clutched a fist, nearly throwing a tantrum.

    “I don’t get it,” Timmy whispered to his brother. “That guy used that same card against me. That’s how he was able to destroy my monsters before he played that deck-switching card.”

    Josh listened to them, empathizing with his friend. Then why didn’t it work for Dave?

    “Look,” the hacker said. “If you think you can use my cards, then go ahead, use them. That doesn’t mean they’re going to obey you!” He laughed again, a condescending wail.

    Dave held back the urge to punch his opponent. If he did, the Black Luster Soldier would surely stop him.

    “Fine,” Dave spat. “Then change of plans. Mokey-Mokey!” The rectangular angel leapt up, startled by the command. “Destroy Dark Blade!”

    Mokey-Mokey nervously dove at the twin-bladed warrior. After spastically dodging two slashes, Mokey-Mokey slammed into Dark Blade’s torso, somehow sending it flying into the ground. The tiny monster widened its stare, seemingly in awe of its own power. [Deck Hacker LP: (3700 --> 3200)]

    The hacker tossed Dark Blade’s card away uncaringly. “Too bad, you looked so determined to take your favorite card back. I guess better luck next time.”

    Mokey-Mokey attempted to float back to Dave, but the greenish glow overtook its wings, disintegrating them. Drained of its energy, the angel could only allow gravity to drag it down to its death.

    Dave simply gritted his teeth.

    “My turn, then.” The hacker lifted up another card. “Ah, perfect. I activate Black Luster Helmet!”

    Black Luster Soldier’s helmet dematerialized, quickly replacing itself before the warrior’s hair could be seen. Twenty gems sparkled from the sun’s reflection, and ten of them shined due to their own internal source. (Counters: 10)

    “I’m sure you know this card well,” the hacker said, smiling with laughter. “With it, the effects changes based on the number of counters I remove.”

    Dave grimaced. I know exactly what he’s up to.

    “So now I’ll remove four counters –” (Counters: 10 --> 6) “– to add Black Luster Warrior to my hand, and then summon it to the field!”

    The young warrior somberly hopped beside its superior, reverently regarding its new master before drawing its sword. (1600/1000)

    He’s going to pull all my resources to manipulate the field, then finish me with my own Black Luster Soldier.

    Dave looked to the opposing monsters, as if asking for confirmation.

    Glares were his only answer.

    “Black Luster Warrior attack his face-down monster, then Black Luster Soldier’ll go in for a direct strike!”

    Black Luster Warrior dashed ahead, switching its grip on the blade so the handle faced upward. Once it approached the brown card, the warrior lifted the sword with both hands and slammed it down, penetrating the ground in the process. A blue hand wielding a candle – the Candle of Fate – could only twitch as the blade pierced through. The flame on the candle’s wick blew out, and was replaced with a spatter of blood.

    Before Black Luster Warrior could even drew its sword back, a blue blur swept overhead. Black Luster Soldier held its blade high above the crowd, its hair flowing as it fell. Dave couldn’t help but look into its cold, bloodthirsty eyes. The heartache he felt from them was more than he could bare; he didn’t even realize he had been stabbed until the soldier ripped its sword out and jumped away.

    Dave bent forward, clenching his stomach. His eyes bugged out. [Dave LP: (6400 --> 3400)]

    “That’s it for now,” the hacker said. The two Black Luster monsters returned to him, standing on either side. “If my calculations are correct, this is your final turn.” He chuckled. “Hopefully you draw something good.”

    “Shut up,” Dave groaned, wincing as he straightened himself. “My draw.” He slid out a card. The image irked him.

    Pot of Greed.

    While the card itself wasn’t bad, it represented so much more than that. It was the cause of his failure at the most critical moment in his life, crushing his dreams faster than he thought was possible. But, looking over his hand again, he realized nothing else could save him.

    It was the only option.

    Dave held up the card. “I activate Pot of Greed.”

    The hacker laughed. “Ah, just delaying the inevitable huh?”

    Dave ripped out two cards forcefully. The first one was Thousand Energy. Can’t really do much with it right now. All of his hope rested on the second card, Elderly Expectations.

    “Select 1 Normal Monster you control. Increase its ATK and DEF by 2000. The selected monster also is unaffected by card effects during your Battle Phase, except for this card. In addition, if the selected monster’s ATK is higher than the DEF of a Defense Position monster, inflict the difference as Battle Damage to your opponent's Life Points. These effects last for 3 turns.”

    He blinked. This is… unbelievable.

    “C’mon!” the hacker yelled. “Are you gonna play or what? I’m getting impatient!”

    Dave slipped out another card, clearly irritated. “Then I’ll give you exactly what you want. I summon Doron in Attack Mode!”

    A humanoid creature rose up from the concrete. Black fabric wrapped around its body so tightly that it seemed to be fused into its skin. Only a few orange tan-lines showed, and its eyes blended in with its clothes. (900/900)

    “Really? Attack Position? Looks like we’re getting a little desperate here.”

    “Not quite,” Dave said. He presented Thousand Energy. “’Cause this is the turn where Black Luster Soldier falls!”

    The soldier blankly glared at Doron, acknowledging Dave’s words.

    It cracked a malicious grin.

    Dave noticed this – his heart skipped a beat, but he wouldn’t let it break his stride. “With Thousand Energy, Doron gains 1000 ATK points.”

    “But it’ll be destroyed at the end of your turn,” the hacker said.

    Josh held his mouth agape. He stood in the crowd, yet felt separate from them. They were afraid; he felt something different, though he couldn’t put his finger on it.

    If Dave’s plan fails… at last he finally realized what overcame him.

    He wasn’t sure if Dave could win.

    A light red aura surrounded Doron; it flexed as the color darkened and intensified. (900 --> 1900/900)

    “Still not strong enough,” the hacker teased.

    “I know,” Dave barked. “But with this, I’ll be able to take back what’s mine.” He slipped out the Spell Card from the cluster of vanilla cards. “I activate Elderly Expectations!” With a dramatic thrust of his arm, he laid it down.

    The recreated version of the Spell Card appeared; it depicted a bald, old man using his cane to smack a kneeling child. The child seemed to be tearfully yelling out in pain.

    The hacker looked on, pondering. “Hmm, I must admit. You are a very skilled duelist…”

    Dave lifted his chin; his expression changed from anger to confusion.

    “…but you’re also an idiot.” The hacker snapped his fingers with a smirk.

    The Elderly Expectations card erupted in an outburst of static, startling Dave and subconsciously forcing him to jump back. Josh dropped his jaw; the two teenagers drew closer to him. They watched the card explode into data, and, while everyone had their eyes on the rippling numbers, Josh shot a glance back at the hacker.

    “Aren’t you gonna learn?” the hacker said. “I guess only smart people are able to truly understand our power.”

    “What the hell do you mean!” Josh shouted, gathering attention from both the crowd and the duelists. “Why wasn’t Dave able to use your card?!”

    “Simple.” The hacker smiled. “Because it was a card designed by the Deck Hackers, so only a Deck Hacker can use it!” He lifted up his Duel Disk. “Take a look. We’ve hacked our Card Analyzers so they’re able to process the card data. Normally it’d just short out the program and the card would fail since it’s not on the Card Database.” He lowered his Disk. “But thanks to our Master’s special override, we’re able to draw power from a separate server and use our own custom-made cards to defeat our opponents!”

    “That’s insane,” Dave said. He tensed. “You’re cheating!”

    The hacker shrugged. “Cheating, smeating. You’re the idiot who accepted my challenge. Can’t blame me if you blindly walk into a trap.”

    “Trap, smap,” Dave spat. “I won’t give in to someone who has to leech off others to win! Doron – destroy Black Luster Warrior!”

    Doron took two stomping steps toward the warrior before it willingly entered the battle. Raising its blood-stained sword, Black Luster Warrior sliced at Doron, splashing blood as its arm arched. Doron skillfully ducked down and kicked Black Luster Warrior’s leg, causing it to lose its balance and its grip on its sword. Doron stepped back, watching its opponent slam onto the ground. The sword spun through the air; the warrior didn’t even have time to stand up before it was impaled.

    It died by its own hand.

    “Desperate measure, don’t you think?” the Deck Hacker said. [Deck Hacker LP: (3200 --> 2900)] “I mean, look at your monster.”

    Dave complied; Doron returned to its original spot, but now it seemed tired. Kneeling down, it coughed and panted as the red aura slowly corroded its body until nothing remained.

    Josh inhaled quietly, as if ashamed of the act.

    “You fought well, Dave – you lasted far longer than the other two.”

    Timmy and Matt looked to each other, then to Josh.

    Josh looked away, dropping his gaze.

    “But now it’s time to end this.” The hacker drew. “I’ll use Black Luster Helmet’s effect again. Removing four counters allows me to add Black Luster Sword to my hand!” (Counters: 6 --> 2) “I think you know what’s next!”

    Dave trembled as the Black Luster Soldier dropped its old sword to the ground – gladly ridding itself of it – in order to make room for the new, more powerful blade. Heavy hearted, he watched the worn sword shatter into tiny pieces as the Black Luster Sword’s handle started to glow. (Counters: 5) (3000 --> 4000/2500)

    “Any last words?” The hacker laughed.

    Dave turned to those behind him. Their sorrowful gazes seemed to be mourning him; it was as if he had been sentenced to death and they were about to witness his hanging. The gazes remained unchanged even as his eyes swept around the circle. When he turned to Josh, his friend was just staring at the floor.

    Gloomy and distraught, Dave adjusted his camouflage hat. Slowly moving his thumb away from his green eyes, he saw the Black Luster Soldier again. The callous expression the monster held sent chills pulsating through his chest all the way down to his toes.

    “I’m sorry,” he whispered. He dropped his gaze, clutched his fists. “I’m sorry I failed you…”

    “It’s all over,” the hacker shouted. “Black Luster Soldier – end this!”

    The crowd unconsciously gasped together, holding their breath as the soldier started its stride. Each step it took seemed to be in slow motion; each sound echoed crystal clear. Its hair waving in the wind. Rubble scuttering under its feet. Its sword swooping across, cutting through the air. All of these actions occurred within their sight, and yet Dave remained unmoved, accepting the soldier’s final decision.

    The strike returned him to reality; a single blow, slashing clean along his stomach. Cards shot out of his Card Analyzer, fluttering overhead as he flew. He fell onto his back, scraping his arms against the concrete, leaving lines of cuts as he propelled towards the crowd. When he finally stopped, he shouted in agony.

    Not from pain. [Dave LP: (3400 --> 0)]

    Josh lifted his head again, rushing over once he saw Dave on the ground. Matt and Timmy did the same. They helped Dave up; Josh and another bystander braced his arms up against their shoulders, guiding him back to the crowd. Dave looked back at the hacker, who was already regathering his scattered cards, and the Black Luster Soldier. For a fleeting moment, he could’ve sworn he saw tears gathering in the soldier’s eyes before it reverted back into holographic light, disappearing forever.

    Dave let out a wavering breathe.

    “Welp, that’s three decks in one hour,” the hacker said, finally picking up the last fallen card. “The Master will definitely love this!” He stood up, boasting his chest out. “Anyone else wish to challenge the mighty Deck Hackers to save the day?!”

    Silence. The crowd didn’t bother moving; nothing they did could help. They just stood still, hopelessly watching the hacker chuckle in the center of the street. Dave leaned against a building, eyes transfixed on the empty Card Analyzer on his wrist. Josh sympathized; he faced in the hacker’s direction, angrily exhaling through his nose.

    After a few minutes, the hacker spoke again. “No one? I guess I’m done here.” The hacker turned his back to them.

    “I’ll duel.”

    The hacker stopped mid-turn, freezing once the cold voice reached his ears. He spun back, facing this foolish new challenger.

    Everyone stepped aside, allowing the duelist through. At first, the hacker couldn’t see him – he only managed to catch of spot of red as he approached. But then, as more moved away, the duelist came into full view.

    “Adam…” Josh whispered, taken aback. Where did he come from?

    Adam lifted his arm to his gray jacket, switching his Duel Disk on. “Only a coward would brag about stealing another’s deck like you have.”

    The hacker smirked. “What, do you expect an apology? Well sorry – sorry that you’re all a bunch of suckers!”

    “Shut up,” Adam said; his voice as cold as ice. He held the Duel Disk at chest height. “You know the drill. I win, everyone gets their decks back. You win, you get mine as well.”

    The hacker mused momentarily. “You’re on.”

    Dave glared past Josh’s head, just barely getting a glimpse of the hacker. He drew his five cards, and he saw that Adam did the same. Josh heard him grunt, and saw him walk to his side.

    “You think he can win?” Matt asked.

    “Dunno,” Timmy said. “At this point, I’m not sure anyone can beat this guy. The second they switch decks the duel’s basically done.”

    A thought flashed into Josh’s head, sparking like a bolt lightning. Yesterday, after the situation at Kaiba Corp, he remembered meeting Adam. They talked, and then…

    …they dueled with each others’ decks.

    Josh shifted his head, facing Dave. He saw the contempt Dave held against Adam; the duelist’s figure reflected in his eyes. But then he paused, taking a single breathe with closed eyes. Once they opened he saw the reflection again, this time the hatred was replaced by something else. At that moment, Josh knew that Dave agreed:

    As much as Dave didn’t like Adam, he was their only hope.


    ~*~*~*~


    Card Analyzer activated…

    Accessing Card Database… Searching for Card Data …

    … Data Found:


    Foul Play
    [Spell/Quickplay]
    Activate only during a Tag Duel. If you inflict battle damage to one of your opponents, both your opponents take the same amount of damage during this turn only. This does not count for direct attacks.


    Black Luster Helmet
    [Spell/Equip]
    This card can only be equipped to a monster with “Black Luster” in its name. When this card is activated, place 10 Black Luster Counters on this card (max.20). Once per turn you can activate one of the following effects:
    -By removing 5 Black Luster Counters from this card, the equipped monster may not be specifically targeted by your opponent’s Spell, Trap, or monster card’s effects until the end of your opponent’s next End Phase.
    -By removing 4 Black Luster Counters from this card, add a card with “Black Luster” in its name from your deck to your hand. This card cannot be "Black Luster Helmet".
    -By removing 3 Counters from this card, flip 1 face-down card in your opponent’s Spell/Trap Card Zone face-up. If it is a Spell Card, return it to its original position. If it is a Trap Card, destroy it.
    -By removing 2 Black Luster Counters from this card, flip 1 face-down card in your opponent’s Spell/Trap Card Zone face up. If it is a Trap Card, return it to its original position. If it is a Spell Card, destroy it.
    -By removing 1 Black Luster Counter from this card, draw 1 card.
    When there are no more Black Luster Counters on this card, destroy it.


    Will of Clairvoyance
    [Spell/Equip]
    When you draw this card, you can reveal it and declare 1 Card Name then, pick up the top card of your Deck, if the name of that card is the one you declared, add it to your Hand. If this card is destroyed, destroy the equipped monster. When this card and the equipped monster are destroyed, return both cards to the top of your Deck, with the equipped monster below this card.
    [Credit to TheWarriorJoshua on Pojo for the creation of this card]
     

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