Water, water everywhere.

Human beings have always had an interesting relationship with the ocean. They obviously were built for land, but that hasn't stopped them from exploring. Evidence of maritime trading dates back at least two millennia, and every ancient mythology has an ocean deity of some kind. Speaking of mythology...

One of the most common characters in folklore is the mermaid, and, to a lesser extent, the merman. The Near East, Europe, Africa and Asia; stories of these aquatic creatures are found all over the world. The details vary from story to story, but there's always the same common elements. Merfolk are beautiful, alluring, and mysterious, just like the ocean itself.

But the ocean is just as deadly as it is beautiful. Mermaid lore reflects this as well, with stories of them drowning sailors and causing shipwrecks. Some ancient superstitions had sailors and fishermen throw coins and other treats into the water to appease its residents. The lesson is simple: respect the sea, or else.

Why do I care? Let's just say the ocean and I have a special connection.

0-0-0-0-0-0

Draw 01 - Water Hazard

0-0-0-0-0-0

Caspian rode through the River City harbor and into the downtown area, singing to himself. He was a tall, athletically built young man, with dark skin, stormy grey eyes and wild, rust red hair. He had a small scar under one eye, which wasn't noticeable unless you were looking directly at it. He was singing to himself in the native tongue of his people... one of them, anyways.

"Ka makau nui a Maui,

O Manaiakalani,

Kona aho, hilo honua ke kaa,

Hau hia amoamo Kauiki."

The Hawaiian youth kept riding until he saw what he was looking for: A warehouse marked with a tidal wave and crescent moon, the symbol of the Hudson Street Wolf Pack. Werewolves weren't exactly common in River City, since they didn't like water, but there were enough of them to form a pack, and a rather infamous one at that. They had been on and off the Shadowchasers' radar for months, mostly for petty crimes, but their most recent skirmish with the law was impossible to ignore.

Parking his Duel Runner outside, Caspian double checked his valuables and locks; you could never be too careful in this part of the city. He had his Duel Disk strapped to one arm and his sword hanging at his side. He walked in through the door, which didn't have any guards. No need, when the place was full of werewolves. "Where's your Alpha? I need to have a chat about that bar fight she started yesterday." The Shadowchaser asked, his tone indicating that it wouldn't be pleasant.

"Can't a girl have a little fun?" She chuckled, making herself known. She was a shapely young woman with long, dark hair tied into a ponytail and bright golden eyes. An Aware would see that her tan skin was covered in grey fur, her teeth were fangs, and her nails were actually claws. It would be easy to mistake her for a typical she-wolf, if not for the aura of superiority she seemed to radiate, signifying that she was indeed an Alpha.

"You put three people in the hospital, and nearly turned two others." Caspian looked around, counting the number of lycans in the warehouse. Too many to take down on his own, even with the help of his sword and magic. "You've got two options, Sheila. Option one, surrender now and I can get you a reduced sentence. Option two, we have a duel, and I deal with another complaint of sending headquarters a wet dog."

Sheila snarled, her eyes flashing. "And why should I bother following the Treaty? There's twelve of us, and only one of you, fish boy." Her pack looked up, suddenly taking interest in the intruder. It wasn't often that someone made Sheila this angry so early in the day. Caspian sighed and raised his right arm, a ring of pure energy shooting out and latching onto Sheila's wrist.

"I was hoping I wouldn't have to use a Duel Anchor today." He sighed, activating his Duel Disk. "Why does every Shadow in this city have to be so difficult? It's a waste of perfectly good magic." Sheila growled and put on her Disk as well, unable to do anything while the Shadowchaser had her captive. "Beat me and we can fight the way you want. Lose, and you have to come quietly." He explained the terms of their duel.

(Sheila LP 8000) - (Caspian LP 8000)

"Ladies first!" Sheila drew her opening hand, wanting to get this over with quickly.

I'd hardly call you a lady, Caspian thought, but decided not to say it out loud.

"I set a monster, and then I'll activate Heart of The Underdog!" A continuous spell appeared before her, depicting a roughneck-type youth. "It's effect doesn't kick in until next turn, so I'll just set these and end it for now." Two back row cards appeared, one on each side of her spell.

Caspian drew a card, then looked over his hand. He smiled, already able to use one of his favorite combos. "Do you like sports, Sheila? Because this card was made with a specific one in mind."

"I activate Service Ace! Now you have to guess whether a card in my hand is a monster, spell or trap, and if you get it wrong, you take 1500 points of damage." He lifted up a single card, a hologram of a robotic tennis player appearing behind him. "Oh, and I have to banish the card afterwards."

The werewolf frowned and tapped her foot, not expecting a guessing game. "Uh... I'm going with monster." She decided, groaning when Caspian turned around the card to reveal a spell. He pocketed it, and the phantom tennis player launched a ball of glowing energy at his opponent, which exploded in her face.

"I summon Abyss Soldier!" The summoning portal opened up, and out swam what looked like a humpback whale, but with arms and legs, and carrying a trident. (1800 ATK). The Alpha wolf blinked and stared at the monster her opponent just played.

"Of course he's using Water monsters." One of Sheila's pack members quipped, "Make sushi out of this fish, Sheila!" Several of the others began cheering on their Alpha, shouting similar insults.

Caspian closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. "Okay, what you just said right there, that is so racist." He replied, pinching the bridge of his nose and sighing before regaining his composure. "I activate his effect! By discarding one Water-Attribute monster from my hand, I can return one card on your field to your hand."

The Shadowchaser slid a card into his Duel Disk's discard slot, and Abyss Soldier raised its trident, blasting a bolt of energy at one of Sheila's face down cards. She grumbled, taking it out of the Spell/Trap Zone and adding it to her hand. "Attack! Trident of Cetus!" The whale rushed forward, impaling the set monster on its weapon. Sheila's mystery card was revealed to be a muscular fiend covered in eyes, which quickly shattered.

"You activated Big Eye's effect! Now I can look at the top 5 cards of my Deck and rearrange them however I want." She said, pulling off the cards and studying them. She grinned, not even attempting a poker face, and made a few changes before placing them back.

Well she's clearly happy with what she got. Caspian thought, trying to analyze his opponent. Since she's got Heart of The Underdog on the field, she's probably playing a Vanilla Beatdown deck. Unless she's smarter than she looks... "I set this and end my turn." He played a back row card and nodded.

(SLP 6500) - (CLP 8000)

"My turn, I draw!" Sheila looked at what she drew and grinned. "And I activate the effect of Heart of The Underdog. If I draw a Normal Monster during my Draw Phase, I can show it to you and draw again." She turned the card around, revealing it to be Battle Ox.

"And again." The next card was Phantom Gryphon. "Again." Gene-Warped Warwolf. "And again." Gemini Elf. The werewolf stopped drawing there, grinning from ear to ear, which was a most unpleasant sight for her opponent. "Now to actually play them. I activate Hand Destruction, now we both have to toss 2 cards and draw 2 replacements." She discarded Cyber-Tech Alligator and Gemini Elf, while Caspian discarded the only card in his hand, King of The Swamp. They both drew twice.

"I'm summoning one of my favorite monsters, Gene-Warped Warwolf!" The monster that appeared barely resembled a werewolf at all, at least in the traditional sense. It had four arms, bright red claws on the ends of its black hands, and a strange plate-like covering on its humanoid face. (2000 ATK)

"Next, I'll activate my face down, Birthright! This brings back a Normal Monster from the grave, like the one I just sent there!" A summoning portal opened up on the ground, and out flew an even stranger monster. It seemed to be a cyborg dragon of some sort, with metallic armor covering half its body, and a pair of wings, one biological and the other mechanical. (2500 ATK)

"This is going to hurt..." Caspian groaned, as the two monsters charged forward. Warwolf punched Abyss Soldier repeatedly with its four arms, until the whale shattered. Then, Cyber-Tech Alligator raked him across the chest with its mechanical claw, causing the Shadowtouched to stumble backwards in pain. "Yep, that definitely hurt."

Sheila grinned and set two cards behind her monsters. "Heh, that was fun. I'm enjoying this more than I expected." She chuckled, her pack howling in approval. Caspian grumbled and drew his third card, standing up once again.

"The duel's hardly over, fleabag." He cursed, taking a card out of his pocket and revealing it. "It's been a full turn since Card from a Different Dimension was banished, so now it returns to my hand, and we both draw two cards." His hand total rose to 6, while Sheila's became 7.

"I'm banishing Sea Steel Piranha from my graveyard in order to Special Summon Aqua Spirit from my hand!" A swarm of bubbles burst up from the ground, condensing into a pretty sea nymph with green skin and a billowing dress. (1200 DEF)

Right behind Caspian, another hologram appeared, this one of a small, metallic fish with gigantic teeth. "My fishy friend has an effect that activates whenever he's banished. It takes one of your Spell or Trap cards with him!" He looked at Sheila's cards, then quickly decided on one of the face downs. The piranha dove down like a missile, causing the trap to vanish completely. She grunted, it had been Sakuretsu Armor, the card that got bounced the last round.

"I activate Sea Steel Migration, which lets me Special Summon a low level Sea Steel monster from my hand, so long as I banish another monster with the same level from my Deck. I choose my Buckler Turtle!" He threw another card onto his disk, summoning a sea turtle with a metal shield in place of its shell. (800 ATK)

"The monster I'm removing from my Deck is also a Sea Steel. Specifically, Thorn Starfish." The card ejected out of Caspian's disk, and he pocketed it, activating the auto-shuffler. "And that's just the beginning."

Sheila huffed, annoyed. "Let me guess, banishing it activates some effect?" She frowned, seeing that she was correct. Another monster swam onto her opponent's field, this one a small starfish, the same metallic color as the piranha, with sharp spikes covering its limbs. (900 ATK)

"When Starfish is banished, it summons a copy of itself from my Deck, and then you get hit with 500 points of damage!" The minuscule monster raised its head, launching several thorns at Sheila. She grunted at the phantom pain, one of them hitting her directly in the eye. "There's a reason fish travel in schools," Caspian lectured, "They're not always strong on their own, but they know there's safety in numbers."

"I play the field spell Fusion Gate!" The Shadowtouched slid another card into his Duel Disk, and the field became covered in a neon green grid. It looked like a computer simulation that hadn't fully loaded yet. "In case you don't know, Fusion Gate lets both of us Fusion Summon without using a Fusion spell, but the material monsters all get removed from play." Several of the werewolves whimpered, not knowing what would come next.

"I fuse Sea Steel Thorn Starfish with Sea Steel Buckler Turtle!" The two sea creatures rose into the sky, forming the familiar image of Polymerization. "Armored beasts of the abyssal waters, come together and form a creature that dominates both sky and sea! Fusion Summon!"

The entire warehouse seemed to shake, as if it was about to be torn down. A violet summoning portal opened behind them, releasing a tidal wave, flooding the field, and a brand new monster. It was clearly a black manta ray, albeit one the size of a truck, but also strangely resembled a jet. Its tail lashed, crackling with energy. (2600 ATK)

"Meet my absolute favorite card, Sea Steel Jet Manta."Caspian explained, reaching out and stroking the beast's wings. It seemed to respond affectionately, circling the warehouse, even flying over the peanut gallery, several of whom were hiding behind their leader. "She might not look like it, but she's a pretty excitable gal. In fact, when she's summoned, she has to expend some of that energy. In game terms, she blasts away 300 of your Life Points for each of my banished Water monsters."

Before Sheila could say anything, the fusion flew up and pointed its tail at her, firing a bolt of lightning. She practically howled in pain, the electric attack only increasing in intensity thanks to the water soaked field. Falling on her backside, she groaned, and could swear she saw starfish circling around her head.

"Oh, and I have a third Starfish in my Deck, so I'll be summoning him as well." The Shadowchaser played another card, summoning the last copy of his invertebrate monster. Sheila winced as it fired at her. "Jet Manta, attack Cyber-Tech Alligator with Deep Sea Shocker!" The ray stabbed the cyborg with its tail, causing it to burst into pixels. "And that ends my turn." Caspian said, giving a cocky smile. He always got a strange satisfaction from playing his ace monster.

(SLP 4200) - (CLP 5300)

"You alright, boss?" A werewolf asked, helping his Alpha to her feet. She pushed him off her, grinning as she drew her next card. "Better than ever, Greg. I haven't had this much fun in weeks!" Sheila looked over her hand, her expression not giving away anything yet.

"By the way, during each of your Standby Phases, Aqua Spirit lets me change one of your monsters from offense to defense, or vice versa, and prevents you from changing them back until your next turn." Caspian interrupted, the sea nymph blowing a cloud of bubbles at Gene-Warped Warwolf, causing it to kneel. (100 DEF)

"I activate Dark World Dealings! Now we both draw one card, and discard another." Sheila sent Battle Ox to her Graveyard, and Caspian discarded his now useless Card from a Different Dimension. "Next, I'm summoning Phantom Gryphon!" A somewhat unusual take on the classical gryphon flew onto the field. It had a blue, leonid body, with the head, wings and feet of a golden eagle. It cawed aggressively (ATK 2000)

"Ugh, I hate birds." The Shadowtouched grimaced, thinking back to a time he suffered a painful loss to a Simorgh Lockdown duelist. "Nasty little things." He was never sure what evolution had been thinking, turning the dinosaurs into tiny, feathery things that tasted delicious. A few of the werewolves gave him a strange look, not expecting such a bizarre statement from a Shadowchaser.

"I literally couldn't care any less." Shiela rolled her eyes and threw another card into her disk. "It's time to end this! I activate Advanced Ritual Art!" The ground rumbled, and an enormous stone circle rose up. It was covered in glowing, teal runes, but not any kind that Caspian could recognize. "This spell can Ritual Summon any Ritual Monster, but the tributes have to be Normal monsters from my deck."

She flipped through her deck, quickly discarding three copies each of Bunilla and Flamvell Guard. The tributes appeared on the stone alter, transforming into ghostly blue flames. "I'm not one for fancy chants or anything, and I'm sure this monster doesn't need any introduction." The flames gathered together, growing and forming into a familiar shape. A tall, muscular beast wearing, of all things, ragged blue shorts. "Meet my Lycanthrope!" (ATK 2400)

"He looks like you, but cleaner." Caspian quipped, but Sheila just shrugged it off, looking like, fittingly enough, a dog with a new bone. Lycanthrope charged forward, its silver claws shining in the neon light of Fusion Gate. Before the Shadowchaser could react, his opponent played another card.

"I activate Flying Dragon Whirl! I send 4 Dragon-Type monsters from my deck to the graveyard, and my handsome friend here gains 1200 attack points for the rest of the turn!" Lycanthrope's score rose to a whopping 3600, and it dug its claws into Jet Manta. Caspian grunted and watched his Life Points fall.

"Jet Manta's effect prevents her from being destroyed once per turn! And I chain activate Damage Diet!" He played his trap quickly, a transparent energy shield surrounding him. "All the damage I take this turn is cut in half, including from your mangy mutt's effect." Lycanthrope howled, creating an eruption of dark energy on Caspian's field which practically sent the Shadowchaser flying.

Sheila frowned, and activated her own trap. "Strike Slash gives my Gryphon 700 extra attack points, and lets it deal piercing damage! Now take out his sea fairy!" Phantom Gryphon flew straight at Aqua Spirit and crushed her in its talons, causing her to explode in a shower of bubbles. "I'll end my turn with that." The wolf seemed to be pouting, which looked very strange on someone with a snout.

(SLP 4200) - (CLP 2750)

"That's it." Caspian pulled himself up, the water seeming to swirl around his feet. He drew a card, bringing his hand up to three. "I'm ending this right now."

"I activate Soul Release! I can banish any five cards from either graveyard! And I'm choosing these ones." Five cards shot out of his discard slot, their holograms appearing and vanishing behind him. Aqua Spirit, Abyss Soldier, King of The Swamp, Card from a Different Dimension, & and... "When Sea Steel Migration is banished, I can take any Sea Steel monster from my deck and banish it! I'm choosing Sea Steel Barracuda!"

"And what's that do?" Sheila asked, not appreciating the dramatics that typically go hand in hand with dueling.

"He lets me send any two Sea Steel cards from my deck to the Graveyard, and then Special Summon him!" Out of the waters jumped another metallic fish, this one resembling a torpedo with a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. (ATK 2200)

"And you called my monsters ugly..." The wolf scoffed, unimpressed. She had Advanced Ritual Art in her hand, even if Caspian destroyed Lycanthrope, she only needed to draw an attack boosting card to finish him off the next turn. "I don't see how you're going to get close to winning this turn, even if you have another one of those mantas in your Extra Deck, I'll still have life points left."

"I actually only have one copy of most of my Sea Steel cards, they're a promotional series that haven't been released yet." Caspian explained, a proud smile on his face. "But enough bragging, let's get back to the duel. I use Fusion Gate's effect to fuse Sea Steel Thorn Starfish on my field with Sea Steel Chain Eel in my hand!" The starry invertebrate rose into the sky along with a new creature, a silvery eel with a chain link pattern. "Creatures of the metal ocean, come together and make way for the heavy armored beast of the deep sea! Fusion Summon!"

The warehouse shook more violently than before, and an enormous sea creature rose from the depths! Most of the wolves panicked and hid behind Sheila, who was standing her ground. The monster was a coconut crab the size of a tank, which, coincidentally, was wearing one as if it was armor. (ATK 2600)

"This big fellow is Sea Steel King Crab! And if you thought your furry was powerful, just wait until you see this!" Caspian chuckled, patting the crustacean's claw. It glowed with teal energy, and its armor seemed to shine brightly. (ATK/DEF 2600/2000 - 4600/4000)

"Forty six hundred attack points?!"

"My crab gets 200 attack and defense for each of my banished water monsters. And right now, I've got ten." The Shadowtouched explained, looking at his two fusion monsters proudly. "Now let's show these dogs what happens when fish bite back! Barracuda, attack Gene-Warped Warwolf!" The fish dove down at its opponent like the missile it resembled, biting it in half. "And when he destroys a monster in battle, the damage is increased by 300!"

Before Sheila had time to react, Jet Manta flew over and plunged its electrifying tail into Phantom Gryphon, frying the winged beast. "Now for the grand finale! King Crab, attack Lycanthrope with Crustacean Crusher!" The hulking sea creature charged forward and seized the ritual monster in its claws, shattering it into pixels.

"So what? I've still got twelve hundred life points left!" Sheila reminded Caspian, growling. He chuckled and pointed upwards. She looked at King Crab, and saw that the gun of its tank was pointed right at her! "Um... what's that doing?"

"King Crab's special effect. When he crushes a monster, you take 200 extra damage for each of its levels." He explained. "You lose." It fired a blast of water at the werewolf, soaking her from head to toe.

(SLP 0) - (CLP 2750)

"What was that about making sushi out of me?" Caspian chuckled, as the water and monster holograms vanished, as well as the Duel Anchor. He walked over to Sheila, removing a small blue gem from his pocket and flashing it. She became enveloped in blue light, and slowly vanished. "Another day, another successful arrest."

Looking around, Caspian saw that the other werewolves had fled. "They'll be back when they get a new alpha. Hope they're smarter this time." He took out his cellphone and checked for any recent calls. "Looks like I finished early. Maybe I have time for a swim..."

0-0-0-0-0-0

Anime/Manga Cards-

Service Ace: *an explosion on a tennis court*

Card Type- Spell

Spell/Trap Type- Normal

Text- Select 1 card in your hand. Your opponent must guess whether it is a Spell, Trap or Monster Card. Reveal it to your opponent. If they guessed wrong, inflict 1500 damage to your opponent. Remove from play the selected card when this card's effect resolves.

First Used: GX anime, "Courting Alexis"

Card From A Different Dimension: *card inside a machine, crackling with energy*

Card Type- Spell

Spell/Trap Type- Normal

Text- If this card is Banished, return it to your hand during your next Draw Phase. When you do, both players draw 2 cards.

First Used: GX anime, "The Graduation Match Part 1"

Flying Dragon Whirl: *four different dragons under a superimposed image of a flame*

Card Type- Spell

Spell/Trap Type- Quick-Play

Text- Target 1 face-up monster you control. Send up to 4 Dragon-Type monsters from your Deck to the Graveyard. The Targeted monster gains 300 ATK for each monster sent to the Graveyard by this effect, until the End Phase of this turn.

First Appeared: DM anime, "A Brawl in Small Town Part 2"

Original Cards-

Sea Steel Piranha: *small fish with razor sharp teeth and fins*

Card Type- Effect Monster

Monster Type- Fish

Attribute- WATER

Level- 4

ATK/DEF- 1700/1000

Text- If you have 3 or more Banished WATER monsters, you can Special Summon this card from your hand. If you do, inflict 500 damage to your opponent. If this card is Banished by your own card effect, you can Target 1 Spell/Trap Card on the field and Banish it.

Sea Steel Migration: *Swordfish jumping through a portal in the sky*

Card Type- Spell

Spell/Trap Type- Quick-Play

Text- Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower "Sea Steel" monster from your hand or Graveyard, then Banish 1 WATER monster with the same Level from your Deck. When this card is Banished by your own card effect, you can select 1 "Sea Steel" monster in your Deck and Banish it. You can only use 1 effect of this card each turn.

Sea Steel Buckler Turtle: ?

Sea Steel Thorn Starfish: *metallic colored starfish covered in spikes*

Card Type- Effect Monster

Monster Type- Aqua

Attribute- WATER

Level- 3

ATK/DEF- 900/900

Text- If this card is Banished by the effect of a card you control, you can Special Summon 1 "Sea Steel Thorn Starfish" from your Deck. When a card is Special Summoned by this effect: Inflict 500 damage to your opponent.

Sea Steel Jet Manta: *gigantic black manta ray that resembles a fighter plane*

Card Type- Fusion Monster

Monster Type- Aqua

Attribute- WATER

Level- 7

ATK/DEF- 2600/1900

Text- 2 "Sea Steel" Monsters. When this card is Fusion Summoned, inflict damage to your opponent equal to the number of your Banished WATER monsters x 300. Once per turn, if this card would be destroyed in battle, it is not. If this face-up card is Banished by your own card effect, inflict 1000 damage to your opponent.

Sea Steel Barracuda: *razor toothed fish with a body resembling a torpedo*

Card Type- Effect Monster

Monster Type- Fish

Attribute- WATER

Level- 6

ATK/DEF- 2200/1600

Text- Once per Duel, if this card was Banished by your own card effect, you can send 2 "Sea Steel" cards from your Deck to the Graveyard, then Special Summon this card in face up Attack Position. When this card destroys a monster in battle, inflict 300 damage to your opponent.

Sea Steel Chain Eel: ?

Sea Steel King Crab: *gigantic coconut crab with armor resembling a tank*

Card Type- Fusion Monster

Monster Type- Aqua

Attribute- WATER

Level- 7

ATK/DEF- 2600/2000

Text- 1 "Sea Steel" monster + 1 Aqua-Type monster. This card gains 200 ATK & DEF for each of your Banished WATER monsters. If this Fusion Summoned card destroys an opponent's monster in battle, inflict damage to your opponent equal to that monster's Level x 200. When this card is destroyed, Banish it.

0-0-0-0-0-0

Caspian: Well, that went better than expected...

Join us next time, as we're introduced to another River City Shadowchaser, in a chapter I like to call Hero of the East!