Holy crap it's been nearly two months since the last chapter! Well, I don't really know what to say…I've been lazy, and uninspired. For a while I seriously think I lost interest completely in the story. I began to see it as a task rather than something enjoyable, which is the whole reason I write stuff like this in the first place. But after finding a bit of catchy music that made me think of my characters, and taking a different look at how to write Sayuri's part in this chapter, combined with a very special event that took place yesterday, I managed to buckle down and get writing with renewed vigor. I hope, and truthfully believe, that I'll be able to stick to my writing and enjoy it like I did a few months ago when I went on my chapter-a-week streak for a little while.

In other news, today's chapter is dedicated to Time Mage, who turned twenty years old yesterday! Congratulations, man, and good luck on your Mission, though I hope to be able to post again before you leave.

Part the Clouds
Chapter Seven: No Means No! Sayuri's Rage

Some twenty hours following Gnash's duel with Junsei, the Osiris Red girl and secret Miko walked down one of the various paths that ran through the academy grounds, accompanied by her two roommates. Izumi was talking animatedly, as usual, while Junsei looked nonplussed, as usual, and Sayuri smiled, nodding every now and then in agreement. "Man, I'm glad we planned something to do with the guys today," Izumi commented, as she traded a step for a half-skip every few paces, "Without classes on the weekend, it's actually been kind of boring around here. I guess it'll be a little while before other students start spending their free time dueling… Ugh, I feel so impatient! I want to beat some people so I can get to face students from higher dorms. I'll bet it would be really fun to compete with them!"

"Hm…" Junsei murmured thoughtfully, "That's assuming you'd be capable of 'competing' with those students…" Images flashed through her mind of the previous day's events…her plans being foiled at every turn…her angels falling before her, one by one…her ace card being rendered useless… "I think you'd be disappointed to find that those in the higher dorms are simply at a level out of our reach."

Izumi rolled her eyes and waved her hand dismissively. "You're being too negative, Nisou," she said, before suddenly striking a dramatic pose, "Just because we're of a different color uniform doesn't mean we're weaker as duelists!"

"…Izumi…" Junsei began, wearing a deadpan expression, "we're of a different color uniform because the teachers found us to be weaker as duelists." Izumi was silent for a few second upon hearing this, before letting out an embarrassed chuckle.

"Well then…" Izumi recovered admirably, and smiled confidently once more, "we'll just have to prove them wrong, won't we? I'm ready to take on any challenge and show everyone how strong I am!"

"Ha! That's rich!" responded an arrogant voice, and Izumi, Junsei, and Sayuri found themselves turning in surprise to look at a group of three Obelisk Blue students, dressed in predominantly white uniforms. The tallest, a black-haired teen with a fierce grin, stepped forward and continued speaking. "Little Dropout Girl thinks she can hang with the real students? Now that's a good joke."

"Eh, go easy on 'em, Ichiro," one of his comrades spoke, slowly coming forward. "They're fresh, only been here a week. They'll learn their place at the bottom of the barrel soon enough, and stop being so annoyingly confident."

"Oh, come on, Jiro," Ichiro replied, smirking, "you really want them to get their hopes up so they can be even more disappointed later? Nah, it's best to bring 'em down early, so they'll recover more quickly, and act like the good little Reds they should be."

Izumi looked positively indignant at being talked about in such a condescending manner, and stepped angrily towards the lead Blue before jabbing a finger in Ichiro's chest. "Listen, you!" she demanded, glaring up angrily into the taller boy's face, "I may be an Osiris Red, but there's no way that means I can't kick butt in a duel. So wipe that smirk off your face or I'll wipe it off for you!"

The challenge prompted a chuckle from Ichiro, who continued to grin as if this were all some big joke. Then, unexpectedly, he laid a hand on Izumi's shoulder, and leaned in towards her, a strange glimmer in his eyes. "You know," he said smoothly, "you look pretty cute when you get angry… What say you and me-?"

An angry blush swarmed up on Izumi's face, and in a rare gesture of disgust, the girl slapped away the hand that had fallen on her shoulder. Junsei stepped forward to stand alongside her, and forcefully shoved Ichiro away. "I believe we've heard quite enough from you," she said firmly, "take your business elsewhere."

"Hey now, don't get so snippy, little one," Jiro replied, coming forward as well, "just because you lack your friend's assets and aren't getting as much attention, there's no need to get so jealous." Junsei looked absolutely infuriated, but couldn't seem to find the sense to express this in words.

Ichiro let out a laugh, and slapped his companion on the back. "You girls are a riot!" he shouted, his shoulders still heaving from suppressed laughter. "We're giving you the chance to spend some time with the cream of the crop, and you're throwing the offer back in our faces? How crazy can you get…? But hey, the offer's still on the table, I'm sure my buddies and I can look past this little display of contempt, right Jiro? Right… And how about you, Saburo?"

The third Obelisk Blue, who had remained silent to this point, looked up at Ichiro, then turned to look at Sayuri, who was looking on at the unfolding events with wide eyes. After a moment, Saburo pointed at her, and said, "I like the nervous-looking one…" As the subject of his gaze jerked in surprise, he grinned hungrily, strangely pleased by her discomfort.

"See?" Ichiro seemed determined to make his pitch, "We like you girls, we're giving you a chance to hang out with some winners. Now let's just make up, act nice, all that. I personally think the best way to express good will between our two parties would be if you gave Saburo a quick peck and-"

The tall student stopped himself mid-sentence, as a crack and scream of pain simultaneously sounded out behind him. Ichiro and Jiro whirled about in shock, as Saburo collapsed to the ground, clutching his face. Sayuri stood over him, a bit of blood dripping from the knuckles of her clenched fist. "Mah dose!" Saburo screamed in agony, "Psee broh mah dose!" Then he yelped in fear as Sayuri jumped onto his chest and began pummeling him angrily, with such fervor that for a few seconds everyone else was too shocked to take action.

Soon, however, Ichiro and Jiro leapt forward, attempting to pull the suddenly rage-filled girl from their companion, who continued to yell in terror. This brought Izumi and Junsei to action, and the two leapt into the fray as well, each trying to pull one of the two Obelisk Blues away from their friend. Yells, curses, grunts of pain, and the occasional smack of fist against flesh filled the air.

"ENOUGH!" A new voice, filled with anger and command, brought an immediate cease to the scuffle, and prompted five pairs of eyes and one unmatched set (one eye clear, the other blackened) to dart in the same direction. There stood another Obelisk Blue, but dressed far more uniquely than the trio tangled in an unceremonious pile with Izumi, Sayuri, and Junsei. He wore a long white coat with dark blue lines forming intricate patterns about its surface. The coat was form-fitting at the torso, but billowed out from the waist down, covering most of his legs to his ankles. The collar was high at the sides and back of his head, reaching ear-level. "Stop this childish behavior!" the newcomer demanded, "Get off of each other this instant!" Coming to their senses, the six gradually complied; Izumi, Junsei, Ichiro, and Jiro stood up and moved away from each other, before Sayuri released Saburo after a few seconds and the two went to their respective groups.

As soon as they had separated, the newcomer marched to the group of Obelisks and began to browbeat them. "You're a bunch of disgraceful idiots!" he barked, and all three winced and bent slightly. Even Ichiro, who was about the same height as the other student, seemed small in comparison. "How can you besmirch the reputation of your dorm by sinking to such barbaric behavior!? If it were in my power I'd have every one of you demoted immediately!"

"They started it…" Ichiro muttered pathetically, gesturing to the three Osiris Red girls, who were watching in stupefied fascination.

"Yes!" came the infuriated response, and immediately Ichiro regretted having spoken up, "I'm sure three first-year Osiris Red students a combined meter shorter and at least a hundred pounds lighter than you three decided they were going to pick on a bunch of second-year Obelisk Blues and show them their place! Even if one of them threw the first punch, it was your idiocy that caused this, so it's your fault you morons!"

"Kyo," Jiro spoke up, looking ashamed and not a little frightened, but determined to defend himself and his companions, "we were just trying to-"

"Trying to what?" Kyo cut him off, " 'Pick up some chicks'? Like that makes it better? I've seen you try to do that before, morons, it's like watching a rhinoceros try to open a window. Cavemen would have more success trying to woo women!" He spat at their feet in disgust, and turned his back on them before walking towards the three girls who were watching with surprised faces. As he approached, the three were able to get a better look at his features. He was nearly six feet in height, and had an oddly handsome face despite the barely-suppressed anger that darkened it. His eyes were pearl-white, and his golden, slicked-back hair glinted in the sunlight that filtered through the branches overhead. Kyo bowed stiffly, as if it were his obligation more than his wish, and said, "On behalf of my entire dorm, I apologize for the behavior of these three. Please forgive their inexcusable actions, and rest assured that I will do everything in my power to assure that such an incident as this never occurs again." Then he straightened, and turned back to Ichiro, Jiro, and Saburo, before saying, "Get back to the dorm, you fools, before I have to call Professor Jougo on your worthless hides!" Grumbling, the three turned, and, with Kyo following, set off.

"Hey, wait a minute!" Sayuri suddenly called after them, prompting all four to pause. "I'm not finished with you three!" she exclaimed, raising a fist, "Come back here so I can close your other eye, creep!" Saburo gulped, and backed away, as Sayuri took several steps forward, "Come on, you filthy cowards!" Izumi and Junsei could only gape in shock at their roommate; at what point had the silent, stuttering Sayuri become so straightforward and angry?

Kyo sighed exasperatedly and turned to face Sayuri, directing a pointed glare at her to match the girl's angry gaze. "There will be no more fighting today," he declared, "not on my watch. You shall part ways peacefully.

"If you won't let us fight, then I'll settle for kicking your asses in dueling!" Sayuri yelled, her Duel Disk whirring into action. "Come on! I'll beat some sense into you! Hell, I'll start with you, you arrogant jackass!" (Sayuri LP: 4000)

The challenge prompted a snicker from one of the three Blues standing beyond Kyo, but he silenced this with a jerk of his head towards them. "Challenging me to a duel is a pitiful and pointless gesture," he answered Sayuri, turning back towards her. "You are angry and your judgment is clouded. If you had your senses about you, you would realize that taking this action is foolish. Do not attempt to follow through with this, you will simply end up embarrassed and disappointed."

"If you're so sure about that," Sayuri responded with a scowl, "then you've got nothing to worry about, so come and prove it! That is, unless you're just scared and you're trying to come up with an excuse so you don't have to look pathetic in front of your fellow Blues, you chicken!"

Kyo stared at her for a few moments in silence, then sighed in resignation. "Very well," he declared, activating his own Duel Disk, "I will accept your challenge, if only because I understand that you cannot allow yourself to accept any other option." (Kyo LP: 4000)

"What could she be thinking?" Junsei wondered aloud, as both duelists drew five cards from their decks, "Against a student from Obelisk Blue, not to mention one with a full year of experience at the academy…she can't stand a chance."

"Heh, we'll see!" Izumi responded with a smile, her eyes focusing intently on the two, "Sayuri may be acting weird, but I definitely don't care if that's what it takes to get her to face an Obelisk Blue!"

"I'll go first!" Sayuri declared, snapping a sixth card from her deck, "And I'll start by summoning Etoile Cyber (1200/1600) in attack mode!" At her words, a brown-haired, pale-skinned woman wearing a red leotard appeared on the field, entering with a twirl. "Then I'll set two cards behind her, and end my turn," Sayuri looked up with a glare in Kyo's direction, and pointed a finger towards him, "I'm not going to back down in the face of these insults…those idiots have tainted both my name and my family's, and you're all going to pay the price for it!"

"…I draw," was Kyo's only response, apparently not caring about Sayuri's reasoning for her behavior. "I discard a card from my hand to activate Dark Core," two cards slipped from his hand, and a black orb of energy materialized in front of Sayuri's Etoile Cyber. The monster shrieked, before she was suddenly sucked into the sphere, which dispersed immediately afterwards. "One face-up monster on the field is removed from play." He did not fail to notice Sayuri's startled reaction, as the girl's eyes widened briefly. "If your defense is so reliant on your monster remaining in play," he stated, "you have a long ways to go before you can hope to even challenge the least of my efforts." He quickly selected a third card from his hand to play, and immediately two cards spat from his Duel Disk, which he deftly caught before flipping them around for Sayuri to view. "I activate Dragon Knight's Arrival, which allows me to add one Dark Blade and one Union monster with 'Dark Blade' in its effect text from my deck to my hand. I'll then summon Dark Blade (1800/1500)." A tall figure, completely covered in black, plated armor, stepped onto his field, drawing a pair of curved swords as his red cape flared out behind him.

"Dark Blade…" Izumi said aloud, "that's one of the first cards released to support the Union monster sub-type. I knew a rare card every now and then popped up specifically to support it in the years following its release, but I've never heard of that card before."

"I now activate Dragon Knight's Mount," continued Kyo, and suddenly a green-scaled dragon the size of a bull appeared with a roar. "This card can be activated when Dark Blade is on the field, and it allows me to summon one Union of Dark Blade, such as Acid-Green Dragon (800/700), from my hand. Afterwards, while Dragon Knight's Mount is in the graveyard, I can activate its effect whenever Dark Blade is summoned to my field." He moved on to his next card without pause, making it obvious that he had practiced the execution of his strategy to a great extent. "I play Dragon Draw, which allows me to draw two cards if a dragon is on my field," after slipping the two cards from his deck and looking over them, Kyo pointed a finger at each of his monsters, and immediately the Dark Blade leapt in the air, landing astride the Acid-Green Dragon's back. "I now conduct a union between Acid-Green Dragon to Dark Blade, increasing his attack and defense by five hundred (2300/2000)! Now, attack her life points directly!" The Dark Blade immediately spurred his draconic mount into action, shouting out and pointing a sword at Sayuri. The green dragon complied immediately, belching out a burst of green fire that forced the girl to cover her head with her arms as it passed over her (Sayuri LP: 1700).

Sayuri grimaced and removed her arms from her head so that she could shoot a glare at Kyo. "Is that all you've got?" she challenged.

"It's not over," her opponent responded simply, "when the monster equipped with Acid-Green Dragon battles and succeeds in either dealing damage to your life points or destroying an opposing monster, one card is randomly discarded from your hand." Sayuri gasped as the Dark Blade suddenly leapt from the dragon's back, and swung with one of his blades, tearing one of the three cards in her hand away. "I'll set one card facedown and end my turn," Kyo concluded.

Biting her lip, Sayuri drew to begin her turn, but was distracted by the sound of approaching footsteps. Looking to her left, she saw three Ra Yellow students and a single Osiris Red step into a view. In the chaos that had occurred over the past several minutes, she and her roommates had understandably forgotten about the meeting that they had initially set out for. Takashi, Gnash, Jin, and Naoki looked between Sayuri, Kyo, Izumi and Junsei, and the three Obelisk Blue students for a few seconds, before Jin broke the silence. "Damn, but that is an AWESOME uniform!" he declared, jerking a finger at Kyo. "Did you design it yourself? It looks great!"

Takashi sighed, and he and Naoki each took a hold of one of Jin's arms before pulling him towards Izumi and Junsei. Gnash stayed behind to exchange a brief look with Sayuri, before he turned to follow. "What happened?" Takashi asked of Izumi, as their two groups joined up.

"I'm not entirely sure," Izumi responded, putting a finger to her lip, "Those guys over there started hitting on us, and Sayuri got really angry and started beating one of them up for some reason. Then Kyo stepped in and broke it up, but she was still mad, so she challenged him to a duel…"

"It's a matter of pride," Gnash supplied with a level tone that indicated he understood the situation. "Sayuri's the kind of person who cares about personal image and identity. To be seen in a way one doesn't want to be seen, for some, is the worst thing one can experience." Junsei turned to look up at him, her attention caught by his words, and she looked curious for a few moments, but he refused to say more.

"In any case," Naoki finally spoke up as well, "I don't think this is going to end well for her."

"…You too, eh?" Sayuri muttered, glancing over her shoulder at Naoki, "You don't think I can do it?! I'll show you…" she turned to glare at Kyo again, "I'll show everyone! I summon Cyber Petite Angel (300/200) to the field!" A small, pink, spherical machine with an angel's halo and wings appeared, and immediately Sayuri reached for her deck. "Once per turn, I can activate Cyber Petite Angel's effect to add Ritual of the Machine Angel from my deck to my hand!" She retrieved the card quickly, making her hand count three cards once more, and crossed her arms across her chest confidently. "I'll end my turn with that, so just come and get me if you can!"

Kyo drew swiftly, barely glancing at the card before pointing a finger at his opponent. "Dark Blade attacks Cyber Petite Angel!" Immediately, the knight-burdened dragon let out another breath of green fire, which threatened to quickly engulf the small mechanical angel.

"It's not going to be that easy!" Sayuri vowed, "Activate facedown card, Deux Passe!" Suddenly the Cyber Petite Angel spread its wings and flew over the trail of fire, which continued unimpeded on its path towards Sayuri. "Our monsters will now attack directly rather than facing each other in battle!"

"Is this some last act of defiance?" Kyo questioned, as the spherical angel flew towards him, "Dealing a meager amount of damage to my life points before going down yourself? What a pointless gesture…"

Sayuri smirked as a silver barrier swept up in front of her, and the green flames splashed harmlessly against it. "You're mistaken in thinking I'm letting myself lose this duel," she replied smartly, and Kyo's eyes widened as suddenly the Cyber Petite Angel struck him across the chin (Kyo LP: 3700). "My other trap card is Cyber Barrier," she declared, pointing at the card that had tipped up in front of her, "It negates one attack if a warrior or angel with 'Cyber' is on my field. After resolution, I can draw one card, which I'll do now." She grinned and drew a card, adding a fourth to her hand.

Kyo frowned, and slid a card into his Duel Disk. "I set one card facedown," he stated, "that will end my turn. Do not think that dealing such a minor amount of damage means anything: I assure you, it will not happen again, and you shall fall."

"Ha!" Sayuri spat back, punching the air in his direction with a fist, "I'll tell you exactly what this past move means: If I can stop your attack, it means you're not unstoppable; if I can get to your life points, it means you're not invincible." She held up two fingers, and grinned cockily, "And with those two bits of knowledge, I know I can beat you! And now, it's my turn, so get ready for an ass-kicking!" She fiercely drew to start her turn, and chuckled a bit as she slapped a card onto her Duel Disk, causing a pink-haired ballerina to appear next to the Cyber Petite Angel. "I summon Cyber Tutu (1000/800), and since the only monster on your field is stronger than her, she can attack directly!" The ballerina giggled, and leapt gracefully through the air, pirouetting past the Dark Blade and his dragon mount, before landing and spinning to kick at Kyo.

"That's not going to happen," the golden-haired Obelisk Blue stated, and suddenly the Cyber Tutu froze up, having been struck across the back by a pair of swords. The Dark Blade stepped back as she fell, and then faded into nothingness. "My trap card, Dark Blade Strike, can destroy one monster if Dark Blade is on the field," Kyo explained simply, "As I said before, you won't strike me again in this duel."

Sayuri frowned, and slid a card into her Duel Disk, before repositioning another that was already occupying it. "I set one card facedown, and move Cyber Petite Angel to defense mode. That ends my turn."

"My turn," Kyo declared, drawing. After a brief moment, he placed the card on his Duel Disk, and a red-scaled dragon, just slightly smaller than the green one, appeared on his field. "I summon Blood-Red Dragon (600/900)," he declared, as suddenly the Dark Blade leapt up from the Acid-Green Dragon's back and landed instead on the new, red one's. "I now to choose to remove Acid-Green Dragon from Dark Blade and summon it in attack mode (800/700), then equip him with Blood-Red Dragon. This grants him a three hundred-point boost in attack and defense strength, rather than five hundred (2100/1800). However, with Blood-Red Dragon equipped, Dark Blade will deal the attack points of any monster he destroys in battle as damage to your life points." The Dark Blade swung a sword in Sayuri's direction, and without need for Kyo's command the Blood-Red Dragon let out a breath of pure red fire, which scorched the air as it careened towards Sayuri's Cyber Petite Angel.

"It's time I paid you back for destroying Cyber Tutu!" Sayuri suddenly exclaimed, and her single set card flipped up, "Like Cyber Barrier, my trap card Cyber Dance can only be activated if an angel or warrior with 'Cyber' in its title is on my field. One attacking monster is destroyed, and another of my Cyber monsters can be summoned straight from my deck." The Cyber Petite Angel began flitting about in the air happily, and all at once the red dragon exploded, throwing the Dark Blade into the air…but the black-armored knight was merely stunned, not beaten, drawing his twin swords and cutting the spherical angel in half before landing in a crouch on the ground. "What the-?"

"The effect of Blood-Red Dragon," declared Kyo, "causes it to be destroyed whenever the equipped monster would be destroyed. Because Cyber Dance does not negate an attack, but merely destroys the attacking monster, Dark Blade (1800/1500) was able to continue his assault, destroying Cyber Petite Angel."

Sayuri scowled, but pulled a card from her deck without hesitation and played it. "I summon Cyber Gymnast (800/1800) in defense mode from my deck," she declared, and at once a muscular, white-haired woman took the place of her Cyber Petite Angel.

"Your defenses are at their limit," Kyo declared, looking serious rather than arrogant, "Already you've over-achieved in this duel by lasting this long when you should have lost already due to the mistakes you've made. I end my turn for now, but I promise I'll end this soon."

"Wait…" Izumi suddenly and unexpectedly murmured before Sayuri could start her turn, her eyes squinting as she attempted to mentally process something. A few moments later, she continued speaking, "That strategy…that name…I've heard of you!" Kyo tilted his head slightly to look at her, the older student not looking surprised in the least to hear this. "You're Kyo Tatsuroku, the Dragon Knight of Duelist Academy! I read about you in the 'Upcoming Stars' edition of Duelists Illustrated a few months ago!"

"You heard about me from a magazine?" Kyo quirked an eyebrow at this, before a thoughtful look fell over his face. "Hm…well, if people are choosing to take interest in me, they're welcome to…it'd be nice if I were informed about it, though…" His white eyes regained focus, and he redirected his gaze at Sayuri again. "It's true, I'm Kyo Tatsuroku, dubbed 'The Dragon Knight' by the students and staff of Duelist Academy ...and the probable reason I've been named in that magazine is, simply put, I've been the second-ranked duelist in the school since the end of the last school year."

Sayuri's mouth fell open in shock, and fear began to creep into her soul. "Second…ranked…" she mumbled, hesitantly, before her head fell forward, and her shoulders slumped. Her anger was momentarily forgotten.

"There is no point to continuing this," Kyo stated, his eyebrows furrowing as he looked down upon Sayuri. "I'm the best student in the school save for one…and that one is most certainly not you, little nothing," his lips curled into a scowl as he gazed upon her, suddenly looking full of contempt, and he folded his arms across his chest, "A first-year Osiris Red…you're entirely out of your league, a total waste of my time and attention. Now that you fully know who I am, maybe you'll realize that as well, and just leave before I step on what dignity remains within you. There are stronger duelists in this school, first-year Obelisk Blues that have already proven themselves and whom I wish to face so that I can test my skills against worthy opponents."

"Oh, shut up!" Sayuri yelled, the fury creeping back into her voice. "You don't think I'm worth your time…worth your attention? Fine then…I'll show just how worthy I am…Before, I was just going to beat you, and move on to those three asswipes…but now, I'm going to make sure to completely kick your ass! Draw!" A smirk appeared on her face as she looked at her drawn card, but first she selected another from her hand and slipped it into her graveyard. "I activate Cyber Gymnast's effect, discarding one card from my hand to destroy one monster on the field with higher attack power than her own!" Sayuri's monster immediately somersaulted into the air, and launched a kick at Dark Blade, sending the warrior crashing onto his back on the ground, before spontaneously and inexplicably exploding. Kyo frowned at seeing his key monster destroyed, but said nothing as Sayuri continued. "Then I'll play my drawn card, Invisible Spirits, which summons two monsters from my graveyard to the field, although they lose their effects, the ability to attack and defend, and I can't use them for a tribute summon." She grinned as slightly transparent forms resembling her Cyber Petite Angel (300/200) and Cyber Tutu (1000/800) came into play, and immediately threw a third card into her Duel Disk. "But even though they can't be sacrificed that way, I can still offer them up to use other cards. So now I'll play Ritual of the Machine Angel, and offer up all three of my monsters!" She quickly slid all three monster cards from her Duel Disk, replacing them with the single remaining, blue-bordered card in her hand. "I summon Cyber Angel Juroujin (2400/1300)!" In a flash of light, a tall, elegant-looking woman appeared. She wore a mask adorned with the antlers of a deer, and in her left hand she wielded a staff while in her right she held a fan.

"So you are capable of summoning the Cyber Angels after all," Kyo observed, looking up at the woman, "I was beginning to think that all the cards related to them were just for show and you couldn't actually use them."

"Why won't you shut up!?" Sayuri angrily demanded, clenching both fists and grinding her teeth together. "Idiot…I'm about to completely reverse the life point situation in this duel, just watch! Juroujin is known as the Daoist god of longevity, and that lore transcends into the game by my monster increasing my life points by an amount equal to the attack points of one monster on the field when she is summoned. Of course she's the strongest monster on the field right now, so I'll just have her target herself for the effect." Juroujin turned on her heel, and swept her fan back and forth a few times, sending a glittering powder blowing towards Sayuri, who took a deep breath as her life points rose (Sayuri LP: 4100). She grinned confidently, and pointed at the Acid-Green Dragon, which stood on its haunches just in front of Kyo. "And now Juroujin will attack your monster, dealing a big blow to your life points!"

Juroujin darted across the field, raising her staff to strike the dragon. However, before she could begin to bring the rod down, a pair of men, one wearing a black suit and the other a white one, suddenly popped up between the Cyber Angel and her target, turned to each other, and shook hands. "My facedown trap card is Call For Unity," Kyo declared, pointing at the card he had just activated, having set it several turns ago. "This card negates one attack, and then allows me to add one level four or lower Union monster from my deck to my hand."

Sayuri stamped her foot angrily against the ground, then crossed her arms over her chest. "Fine! I can't do anything else, so I'll end my turn, but you can't run much longer, I'm going to take you down in just a few short turns!"

Kyo sneered in response, drawing a card and completely ignoring it as he voiced his response. "You just don't get it," he stated conclusively, "you've had your chance to try and touch me, just harm me a miniscule amount and you blew it. When you attacked me I added to my hand the last thing I need to finish you off this turn with minimal effort." Sayuri's eyes widened slightly at this declaration, despite her having been so confident after her success in her last turn.

"I don't understand what Kyo's trying to accomplish," Junsei voiced from the sidelines. "If he believes he's so superior to Sayuri, why is he acting so seriously over this?"

"If I had to guess," Takashi said, raptly observing the second-ranked duelist's actions and speaking distractedly. "I'd say he's trying to prove a point…that Sayuri has a long ways to go, and desperately needs to improve…"

"I activate Revival of the Dark Blade, which summons Dark Blade from my graveyard!" Kyo proclaimed, as once more the black-armored knight rose up before him, drawing his twin swords (1800/1500). "And now the effect of Dragon Knight's Mount activates from my graveyard, so now I'll summon Knight Dragon (2000/1500) from my hand!" Beside the Dark Blade, an orange dragon, larger than each of the previous two that Kyo had summoned, descended. "And once more, I'll equip Dark Blade with a dragon by conducting a union with Knight Dragon!" As the Dark Blade climbed onto the large dragon's back, Sayuri suppressed a gasp, as the warrior's power shot upwards (2700/2400). "A nine hundred-point boost to both attack and defense…" Kyo stated, before suddenly swinging his arm outwards, "But that's not the point! By sacrificing Knight Dragon, I can allow the equipped monster to attack directly this turn!" The orange dragon suddenly shattered into thousands of particles of brilliant white light, which surrounded the Dark Blade in a pulsating aura and lifted him into the air, placing him in a position to dive behind Juroujin and directly strike at Sayuri.

The actions that he had conducted to this point slowly brought a smirk back to Sayuri's face, erasing her unsure expression. "Heh, you had me worried for a second," she admitted, planting her hands on her hips, "but it looks like you're just full of hot air! Even if you equip Dark Blade with Acid-Green Dragon, the most damage you can hope for is two thousand three hundred, which is just about half my current life point count. You were better off having Knight Dragon equipped, then you could've gotten rid of my monster and left me top-decking. Ha! Some second-ranked duelist you are, you don't even understand basic strategy! Maybe after I'm done beating you into the dirt I'll have a crack at the Kaiser!"

"Pay attention you ignorant little fool," Kyo commanded sternly, "and maybe you'll learn something about underestimating your opponents to ridiculous extents. I told you I had everything in place to finish you off now, and I meant it." With that, he held up a card, the last remaining in his hand besides the one he had drawn to start his turn, and placed it on his Duel Disk. Yet another dragon appeared, this the smallest of all so far, but with a pair of extremely wide wings, which cast a large shadow behind the blue-scaled creature. "Sky-Blue Dragon (700/800) is the final mount that will appear in this duel, and now I conduct a union between it and Dark Blade, increasing the knight's attack and defense by four hundred apiece (2200/1900)!" The blue dragon flapped its large wings and took to the sky, hovering just beneath the Dark Blade, who gradually settled into his place on the beast's back. "Now, Dark Blade attacks directly! Blue Flame of the Dragon Knight!" With a jerk of its head and a snap of its jaw, the Dark Blade's latest mount sent forth a blue ball of fire, which left Sayuri tumbling to the ground as it crashed mercilessly against her (Sayuri LP: 1900).

When the dust around her had settled, Sayuri chuckled weakly a bit, and climbed to her feet, still smirking. "Hehe…is that it?" she questioned, "I'm still here, jackass, you-" And that was when the Dark Blade landed directly in front of her, raising his swords to strike the coup de grace. "Wha-?"

Both blades fell, knocking Sayuri flat on her back before she could finish voicing her surprise, and the holograms on the field dimmed and vanished (Sayuri LP: 0). "A monster equipped with Sky-Blue Dragon," Kyo explained, already turning to leave, "can attack twice during the battle phase." He paused in his movement long enough to watch Sayuri try to struggle to her feet, an angry expression still on her face, fighting off one of disappointment. But the Osiris Red girl was exhausted and utterly beaten, and she could not force herself to move anymore; so she fell to the ground once more and did not move, forced to lay prone in her defeat.

Kyo huffed in disapproval and finally turned away as Sayuri's friends rushed to her side, saying in a low voice, "The soul is willing but the flesh is week…And, judging by the choice to challenge me…the mind is weak, as well…"

Challenges I faced in this chapter were: just plain getting started; making the conversation at the beginning between Izumi, Junsei, and Sayuri; having Ichiro, Jiro, and Saburo (who will probably never show up again, hence their incredibly unoriginal names) show up; and figuring out how to have Sayuri act throughout the duel. Eventually I kind of just trundled through the first few, and I decided that circumstances were appropriate for Sayuri to briefly abandon timidity in favor of being irrationally angry, which I'm still not perfectly happy with, but at least it worked well enough to get through the chapter. Anyways, things really started to pick up after Sayuri broke a guy's nose and Kyo showed up. Kyo is, after all, my second-favorite character in this story, next to Gnash. In the meantime, I'm writing this at 3 in the morning, so I should probably stop rambling.

Two weeks of classes have now passed at Duelist Academy, and the students have settled into routine life at the school. However, when the students are ranked for the first time since the beginning of the year, a new challenger steps forth to face Takashi. However, this fellow Ra Yellow student proves to be more than a match for the so-far unbeaten student…Will Takashi be able to continue his winning streak?

Next time: To Climb Higher Than the Sun