Hello anime and TCG fans…

And welcome to "Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Messiah"!

My newest Yu-Gi-Oh project…

Before I begin, some words on the game rules this fanfic will use:

First, in a duel, duelists start with 8,000 Life Points, most of the time.

Normal Summoning a Monster requires no sacrifice for Monsters of four stars or less, one for those of five or six, and two for those of more than that. In most cases. However, Monsters can be summoned in face-up Defense Mode, like in the anime.

No Life Points are lost if a Monster is destroyed outside of battle.

Most game rules are in effect, but some of the more colorful anime rules will be in effect.

Fusion Monsters do not have to wait a turn before attacking. Fusion Monster Cards are used.

Next, a bit of a warning: This fanfic, if the name is any indication, is rated PG-13. It has a dark tone, and carries many adult themes and might well have some strong language along the way. However, despite the use of the word "messiah" in the title, it will have no blasphemies towards any religion. That is not to say some parts of the plot will not echo a few religious themes – let's face it, a lot of fictions have done so. (Who here has read The DaVinci Code? Read it, didn't fully agree with it, but loved it.)

(I can't reveal just why it is called "Dark Messiah" right now, or just who the Dark Messiah is. You will just have to figure that out on your own as the story progresses.)

Now, some notes on the setting:

This takes place in the future of the true anime world, unlike that of my old fanfic trilogy. That means Pharaoh Atem is gone, as are the Millennium Items. Also, the events of Yu-Gi-Oh GX are assumed to have taken place. Yes, that storyline takes place in the future – this one takes place in an even later future.

Just how far in the future? Well, we'll let our narrator explain that in a second…

For the most part, just sit back and enjoy…

(Credit goes to Melissa Etheridge for the opener.)

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Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Messiah

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A Fanfic By Cyber Commander

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As told to by The Sage of Duelists

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PROLOGUE

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It's been years since they told them about it…
The darkness their bodies possessed…
And the scars are still there in the mirror…
Every day that they get themselves dressed.
Though the pain is miles and miles behind them…
And the fear is now a docile beast…
If you ask them why they are still dueling…
They'll tell you it makes them complete!

They duel for hope!
They duel to feel!
They duel for the truth,
For all that is real.
They duel for your mother, your sister, your wife,
They duel for you and me my friend…

They duel for life…

It's a blur since they told me about it…
How the darkness had taken its toll…
And they cut into my skin, and they cut into my body…
But they will never get a piece of my soul!
And now I'm still learning the lesson…
To waken when I hear the call…
And if you ask me why I am still dueling…
I'll tell you I duel for us all!

I duel for hope!
I duel to feel!
I duel for the truth,
For all that is real.
I duel for your mother, your sister, your wife,
I duel for you and me my friend…

I duel for life…

And someday if they tell you about it…
If the darkness knocks on your door…
Remember them, remember me…
We will be dueling as we have before…
Dueling for answers,
Dueling for more!

We duel for hope!
We duel to feel!
We duel for the truth,
For all that is real.
We duel for your mother, your sister, your wife,
We duel for you and me my friend…

We duel for hope!
We duel to feel!
We duel for the truth,
For all that is real.
We duel for your mother, your sister, your daughter, your wife,
We duel for you and me my friend…

We duel for life…

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Hello…

And welcome to the future.

The year is 2110. The place is New York City. The city has grown to almost twice its size since your time.

And let me tell you, the world is a great place to live!

The environment has been fixed with the Greenhouse Effect gone and the ozone layer no longer a problem; there's almost no poverty; and even better, the world is almost at peace. The last major conflict occurred fourteen years ago.

Even better, the art of Duel Monsters has become the world's most popular pastime. The game reaches all levels of society, from grade school children to heads of state. Duel Monsters is one of the most powerful ways to express yourself these days.

Yes, it's great in these times…

But it almost wasn't…

See, four years ago, a nutjob threatened to corrupt everyone's favorite hobby for his own selfish goals, and his first target was NYC Duel Monsters Academy, the most prestigious dueling college of all.

At the time, I kind of wished that the Trinity would have come back to handle the problem… But as great as they were, they were only mortal. Yugi, Kaiba, and Joey had long since passed on.

You might be wondering what I'm talking about. You probably don't even know who I am…

People call me The Sage of Duelists.

Still don't know who I am?

Well hey… I don't know who YOU are!

So I guess that makes us even.

Sit back, and you'll learn the whole story. I'll start at the beginning… Beginnings are always the best place to start…

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Jason opened his eyes…

He was standing in a place that he had never been to, but he recognized it…

Domino Square, in the heart of Domino City.

He looked around. By the clock tower was a young woman. She looked to be about twenty-five years old, with long, chestnut hair, wearing a blouse and a dress.

She had a Duel Disk on her arm, and Jason could see that it was one of the Mach-2 models – quite an antique by today's standards.

Then she realized who she was…

Tea Gardner.

That explained the model of the Disk.

She didn't seem to notice him, and she likely wouldn't even if he called to her. It was beginning to sink in what he was seeing…

Tea looked at her watch…

"He won't be late," she muttered. "I've known him since grade school, and he's never been late…"

She giggled.

"More often, I'm the one who's late…" she added.

Jason watched as another figure approached…

He was instantly recognizable, by the hairstyle and the trademark outfit. He also had a Duel Disk on his arm… The same outdated model.

Jason shivered.

The King of Games…

"I knew you'd come," said Tea with a sweet smile. "Ready to accept my offer?"

"Tea…" sighed Yugi. "This isn't necessary…"

"I say it is," answered Tea. "I won't marry you unless you prove you still have the Heart."

"You can't beat me," answered Yugi with another sigh. "And I don't want to do this."

"I know that," answered Tea. "But I gave you my condition. I won't marry you…"

She paused.

"…unless you can win in three of your turns or less!"

Yugi stared at her.

"Are you willing to try?" she asked.

"If that's what it takes," answered Yugi.

"Then stop beating around the bush and duel!" exclaimed Tea.

The two of them activated their Disks, and the Life Point counters each set to 8,000.

"You make the first move," said Tea, sweetly.

Jason watched as Yugi made his first draw.

He looked over his cards…

"First, I play Pot of Greed, to draw two more cards…" he stated.

He played the card, and drew two more cards.

Then he placed one on his Disk.

"Now I summon… Skilled Dark Magician in Attack Mode!" he exclaimed.

He placed the card down, and a Spellcaster in a bulky black robe, wearing a skullcap and carrying a staff appeared. Three silver disks were on his collar. (1,900/1,700)

"And that will be my turn," he stated.

"That was your first turn," said Tea. "Two more left…"

She drew a card.

"I'll summon Command Angel in Defense Mode!" she said, placing a card down.

A woman dressed like a green beret with feathered wings appeared in front of Tea. She knelt and shielded herself in Defense. (1,200/1,900)

"That will be my turn," she stated.

Yugi closed his eyes…

He paused…

He drew one card…

He looked over his cards for a minute…

He played a Spell Card.

"I play Cost Down," he stated, "and I'll discard Dark Magician Girl to do so…"

He discarded a card.

One of the Disks on Skilled Dark Magician's collar started to glow.

"Next," he continued, "I'll play Monster Reborn, to summon Dark Magician Girl to the field…"

He played the card, and Dark Magician's cute, female apprentice appeared. (2,000/1,700)

The second disk on Skilled Dark Magician's collar glowed.

"Next," he stated, "due to my playing Cost Down, I was able to downgrade one of the Monsters in my hand from eight stars to six, so I'll sacrifice Dark Magician Girl to summon Dark Magician of Chaos!"

Dark Magician Girl vanished, and the powerful Chaos Mage appeared. (2,800/2,600)

"And just by summoning him, I can reclaim one Spell Card from my Graveyard," continued Yugi.

A card fell out of his discard slot.

"Monster Reborn, which I'll play now!"

He played the card, and Dark Magician Girl returned. (2,000/1,700)

The third Disk on Skilled Dark Magician glowed.

Tea started to get nervous. She knew as well as Jason knew that she was in for a great deal of pain in a few seconds… But Jason knew that Yugi was just starting…

"Since I played three Spell Cards," continued Yugi, "I can sacrifice Skilled Dark Magician to summon Dark Magician from my hand, deck, or Graveyard, but I'm not going to do so just yet…"

He took one of his three remaining cards.

"I play Polymerization, fusing together Dark Magician and Buster Blader from my hand to form Dark Paladin!"

He played the card, and the Warrior and the Spellcaster appeared. They swirled into a dark blur, and the fused Spellcaster appeared, holding his mighty blade. (2,900/2,400)

"And finally," exclaimed Yugi, "I'll sacrifice Skilled Dark Magician to summon Dark Magician from my Graveyard!"

Skilled Dark Magician vanished, and Yugi's signature Monster appeared! (2,500/2,100)

"Now, Dark Magician Girl, attack Command Angel!" he shouted.

Dark Magician Girl swung her scepter forth, and blasted Command Angel out of existence.

Yugi closed his eyes…

"Dark Magician… Dark Paladin… Dark Magician of Chaos… ATTACK DIRECTLY!"

The three Spellcasters aimed their weapons…

Jason covered his eyes as a mighty blast shot forward, engulfing Tea in a massive explosion!

Yugi had inflicted 8,200 points of damage in a single turn…

When he dared look again, she was lying on the ground, with smoke rising from her.

Yugi ran up to her. He knelt down…

"Tea?" he asked. "Tea? TEA!"

Her arms slowly reached up…

She held his head, and gently kissed him on the lips.

"A deal's a deal…" she said with a sweet smile.

Tears of joy fell down her cheeks.

Yugi smiled.

He took something out of his pocket – a ring case.

As he placed the ring on her finger, Jason heard a loud buzzing…

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Wednesday, September 8th, 2106, 7:30 AM

He woke up to the sound of his alarm clock.

Damn, he thought. Always at the good part…

His eyes opened a little.

"I hate mornings," he mumbled. "I'd like them better if they started later."

He yawned, and looked up. He was surprised by his surroundings…

Then he remembered…

The school year had only started a week ago. He was no longer a sophomore, so he was no longer in his old dorm.

The Ra Yellow dorm would take some getting used to, although not having to share a room with three other students was a plus.

He got up and headed for the shower.

He checked the menu on the way.

French toast?

Wonderful. Getting any before Russell ate it all would be a challenge.

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Jason walked through the Great Hall on his way to the cafeteria. Many other students wearing the trademark yellow blazer that signified Junior status were around.

He stopped to look at the famous photograph on the wall… A photo of the three members of the Trinity – Yugi Mouto, Seto Kaiba, and Joey Wheeler – with their hands clasped in a three-way handshake.

Everyone knew the story of how that photo came to be…

Five years after the Kaiba Corp Grand Prix, three lunatics – two brothers and one sister – held the city of Domino captive with a nuclear bomb. They made only one demand: That Yugi, Seto, and Joey would duel them, three-on-three, putting their very lives up as an ante. To cement that bargain, they had even designed special Disks ("Doom Disks", that's what they were called) that would kill the wearer if his Life Points hit zero with a shot of cyanide to the wrist.

Exactly why they made this demand, nobody knew. The best guess is, they wanted to prove that they were the better duelists than the world's best.

Kaiba hated having to work with his arch-rival, and he hated even more having to work with Joey (Joey didn't like it much either). But he knew that with the lives of thousands on the line, he had no choice.

And it was in that duel that Yugi and Kaiba's rivalry finally ended, and Joey finally earned Kaiba's respect.

The three siblings had a strategy that seemed almost flawless. One summoned Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV 8; another summoned Jinzo; the third summoned King Dragun. Thus, their three opponents were unable to use any Trap or Spell Cards, and the two Dragons were immune to almost all Monster Effects. The sister even equipped her Jinzo with Amplifier, so that she and her brothers could use all the Traps they wanted.

Things went badly for Kaiba for a long time – it seemed that two of the terrorists had a personal vendetta against him (why, he never knew). At a crucial point in the duel, Kaiba's Life Points were less than 3,000, and one of the brothers ordered Horus to attack him directly. But to Kaiba's shock, Joey threw his Axe Raider in the path of the blow. Kaiba didn't know why Joey had saved him; at the moment, Joey scoffed and told him that if he had gone down, he and Yugi would have been at a disadvantage. Kaiba knew at that point he had to think hard about his opinion of the duelist he had mocked for so long…

But for now, it was Yugi's move. He managed to summon Big Shield Gardna in Defense. Since only Horus could break that Warrior's Defense, the siblings had to wait until that one's turn came around.

Now, there is a thing with strategies – they're only good so long as the duelists using them are just as good. A strategy may look good on paper, but if it's handled poorly, it won't work.

At that point, one of them made mistake number one – playing Card of Sanctity. With all the duelists with full hands, the good guys had a chance.

Joey then summoned a powerful Monster called Hobgoblin. Apparently he had just added it to his deck, because neither the terrorists or his partners had seen it before. This Warrior only had 1,000 Attack and Defense Points, but for every other Monster he discarded, he was able to summon a Goblin Soldier Token. So he discarded four.

The brother with Horus destroyed Gardna, and then summoned a Defensive Monster. It then came to Kaiba's turn. He summoned Peten the Dark Clown for additional Defense.

And then the other brother and the sister made mistake number two. They decided to ignore Joey's goblins to concentrate on Kaiba and Yugi, thinking them the bigger threats. Kaiba's Clowns were wiped out, as was Yugi's last line of Defense…

So when it came to Joey's turn, he was able to enact his strategy. He sacrificed three tokens to summon Gilford the Lightning – and since King Dragun only protects Dragons from effects that target, it couldn't stop Gilford from wiping out all of their Monsters.

Now able to play all the Spells and Traps they wanted to and with Joey's strongest Monster out, the three heroes made a strong comeback. The villains wouldn't give up, but they were outclassed. Yugi eventually summoned Sorcerer of Dark Magic, and Kaiba created Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon. The three of them wiped out the terrorists with a mighty blow.

When the dust cleared, Kaiba was humbled to say the least. He told his rival that they had been fighting for far too long, and he told Joey that maybe he was a pretty good duelist after all. The three ended on a handshake… Which was immortalized in a photograph.

Thus, the three greatest duelists of all time officially became the Trinity, who paved the way for a future generation of duelists.

The story always gave Jason goosebumps, like it did now as he made his way to the cafeteria.

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When Jason got to his table, one familiar face was already there.

Russell Majors, his best friend since his Sophomore year. Not the type of guy you wanted to mess with – he stood over six feet tall and weighed over two-hundred pounds, all of it solid muscle (he made adequate use of the school's weight rooms in his spare time).

And from the amount he ate, he must have had the metabolism to match.

"Russell," said Jason, as he looked at his friend's plate, "with you around, we never have to worry about leftovers."

"My younger brother always liked having me around for that reason," answered Russell. "So, who are you going to do the paper on?"

Jason gave him a look.

"Sorry," sighed Russell. "Forgot who I was talking to. You know, Kaiba was a great guy, but there were a lot of other great duelists who deserved recognition."

"So who are you going to do it on?" asked Jason.

"Well, I…" started Jason.

"Hello!" said a sweet voice, interrupting them.

Jason smiled.

Trisha…

His other close friend – and sweetheart since Freshman year – sat down at the table. Trisha Moise. Her long, waist-length, raven-black hair and deep, chocolate-brown eyes made her an enchanting beauty – Jason often called her looks "mysterious", and often said that blonde hair and blue eyes were not needed to be attractive.

"So, what are you big strong boys talking about?" she asked, reaching for the syrup.

"The paper for Dr. Weulch's class," answered Russell. "I was thinking of doing it on Pegasus himself, but I have time before I have to give Weulch the topic…"

"On another topic," said Jason, with his mouth full, "I had a strange dream last night…"

He chewed for a few seconds.

"And unfortunately, Trisha, it wasn't about you. It was about how Yugi got Tea to marry him…"

They both took notice at this.

"Yugi's famous eight-card, OTK combo?" asked Trisha, in awe.

"You think it's ever possible to get such a good opening hand?" asked Jason.

"In his own autobiography, Yugi himself said that it was likely a one-time thing," answered Russell. "He figured that the cards must have wanted him and Tea to be together forever, so they responded.

"Yugi was big on the whole Heart of the Cards thing…"

"Heart of the Cards…" sighed Jason.

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For some reason, it seemed like the last class of the day was always the longest. The history of dueling class was interesting, but long.

"I have a riddle for you all…" asked Dr. Weulch. "It's a riddle that Yugi Mouto was fond of asking people his entire life…"

He paused.

"What is a thing that can be seen and not seen at the same time?"

He paused again.

"When Yugi first received his Millennium Puzzle at age seven, the answer seemed obvious… a puzzle in its incomplete state.

"However, he'd learn otherwise years later when he finally completed it.

"Yugi believed that the Puzzle had the ability to grant a wish to the one who solved it, and when he tried to solve it the first time, he made one. He wished that he would have friends… friends that he could count on, and ones that could count on him, no matter what…

"Back then, he was an unpopular, nerdy kid who was always teased.

"The Puzzle was a powerful artifact, but it didn't truly have the power to grant a wish to its bearer…

"Still, when he did solve it and gained its powers… The magic that the Millennium Item possessed, things started to happen. Old enemies became allies, and friendships did indeed form…

"He could never have saved the world time and time again without support from others.

"What is a thing that can be seen and not seen at the same time? The answer is the sacred bond that friendship possesses. As duelists, you'll encounter many opponents, but you'll also make alliances. Always hold on to them."

There was a long pause.

"We'll be having a pop quiz tomorrow," said Dr. Weulch, "and remember to get your topics in for the historical figures report. Class dismissed."

Everyone seemed to be in a hurry to leave…

But to Dr. Weulch's surprise, Jason, Russell, and Trisha stayed behind.

"Can I help you kids?" he asked. "Looking for extra credit?"

"Well, uh…" replied Jason. "We're doing some research on that project and we need professional advice on something… Do you know what Yugi meant by the Heart of the Cards?"

"I see…" muttered Weulch.

He pulled up a chair.

"Let me put it simply," he said. "To a degree, Yugi Mouto, Joey Wheeler, and even Seto Kaiba to an extent, believed that dueling wasn't about mere skill… It was as much about faith…

"They believed that if you had faith in your cards, that if you respected them and believed in their abilities, they would come though for you even when things looked bleakest.

"The Heart of the Cards exists within every true duelist… Some more than others. A duelist must believe in his abilities, believe in his skill, and most of all, believe in himself, and the draw he will make will be the right one. It will lead him to victory."

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"Well, that was interesting," sighed Russell. "I'm going to go to eat at Lazy Q. You guys want to come along?"

"Uh, I'd love to, Russell, but I'm tutoring Freshmen this evening," said Jason.

"I'm busy too," sighed Trisha. "I'm helping Dr. Ting with a special project."

"We'll see you later," said Jason.

The two walked off.

"Well…" sighed Russell, "guess I'll go alone…"

He took his dueling deck out of his case on his belt. He always liked to make sure it was still there. A habit he had.

He leafed through his cards for a few seconds…

Then he hefted his knapsack over his shoulder and headed out of the building, towards the front gates…

He didn't know that someone was following him as soon as he left…

Wednesday, September 8th 2107, 4:30PM

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Coming up next:

The first chapter!

Russell tries to relax with some hot wings and fries at his favorite hangout, but he's interrupted in a callous way. See the secrets of his deck, and the first duel of the fanfic.

We're just getting started. Don't go away…