The Darkness of Destiny

Chapter 1

Old Faces

"Cyberdark Dragon, attack! Dark Flare Burst!" The black monstrosity (8600, 3600) roared and fired a blast of fire. The opposing duelist let out a scream of agony as the dragon roasted 'Dark Ruler Ha Des' (2450, 1400) alive.

"And the winner, once again, is Zane Truesdale!" The announcer of the Kaiba Dome yelled. Zane sneered and crossed his arms as the holograms vanished.

"Don't sound so surprised," He scoffed, turning to leave the arena. Of course he won. In the past two years since graduating Duel Academy, he was unstoppable. Barring, naturally, that little losing streak when he first entered the Pro Leagues. But that was behind him. He was on one of the longest win streaks in the history of the leagues, and he wasn't going to stop any time soon.

"Very impressive victory, Mr. Truesdale." Zane stopped and turned to stare at the black-cloaked man standing in the shadows of the bleachers.

"What are you doing here, Shroud?" Zane demanded. The man, who referred to himself as 'Mr. Shroud', chuckled.

"Why, is that any way to say hi to old friends Zane? I thought you'd be glad to see me after all I've done for you."

"You did your job, and I kicked you to the curb, Shroud. Now answer my question before I call security and watch you run like a coward," Zane threatened. "Did you come to annoy me or what?"

"Saying hi to you was a nice bonus, seeing as how you fired me after I worked so hard on you to restart your career so long ago," Shroud said, a hint of anger in his voice. "But tonight I'm here for another reason. Word on the street is there's another Duel Academy graduate fighting their first duel tonight, and I can't pass up another opportunity to take another student under my wing, considering how the first one turned out."

"Whatever," Zane muttered, rolling his eyes. "I have better things to do."

"I think it would be in your best interests to stay, Mr. Truesdale," Shroud called.

"Oh? And why should I care if you hire another lackey?" Zane replied, walking away.

"And now, entering the arena, the current champion of the Professional Leagues, Aster Phoenix!" Zane stopped dead in his tracks at the distant sound of the announcer. Aster…the bastard that had cost him his career in the first place. What the hell was he doing there?

"Aster Phoenix?" Shroud muttered, tapping his chin. "My my, that name certainly sounds familiar," He said, smiling. "Do you recall that name at all, Mr. Truesdale?"

"And his opponent, in her premiere Professional Leagues, Duel Academy's number one graduate, Alexis Rhodes!" Zane's eyes widened slightly. Alexis? He hadn't seen her in years, not since graduating himself. When he had returned to Duel Academy for the Genex tournament, he had heard she had joined some sort of strange cult, but didn't see it for himself.

"This ought to be interesting. Let's see if she has what it takes to do what you couldn't," Shroud said. He noticed movement and looked out of the corner of his eye to see Zane step back into the arena. "I thought you didn't care, Mr. Truesdale. Change of heart?"

"Shove it, Shroud," Zane snapped. On the dueling arena, Aster and Alexis had shuffled each other's decks and were stepping back into their places at either end of the arena. Alexis hadn't changed much. Besides the obvious changes, of course, she was taller, her hair was longer, etc. She wore her Obelisk Blue uniform like always, but had a dark blue jacket on over the top and a longer blue skirt. Aster was the same cocky jackass he always was. At least he looked that way to Zane, but then, he was biased. He still had on the grey suit he so favored, but his grey hair was longer, shoulder length, and tied up into a ponytail. Aster also wore a small round, black stone around his neck, a golden "D" emblazoned on it.

"Ready to throw down?" Aster called, turning on his Duel Disk.

"Bring it on!" Alexis countered.

"And now let the duel begin!" The announcer called. The crowd cheered as Alexis and Aster drew their cards.

-Alexis LP: 4000, Aster LP: 4000-

"Ladies first," Alexis said, drawing. "I summon 'Blade Skater' (1400, 1500) in attack mode. And I'll also place two cards face-down to end my turn."

"A solid opening play by Alexis Rhodes, but with a normal monster in attack mode, Aster better be careful of falling into a trap," The announcer yelled.

"My move then," Aster said. "And I'll start with my own two cards face-down, and a monster in defense mode." The holographic cards blinked into place on Aster's field. "And next I'll throw down the Spell card 'Graceful Charity'. So now I draw three cards and discard two more." Aster drew and quickly discarded two of the other cards he had gotten. "That's all for now."

"Really?" Alexis asked. "Then I'll play 'Machine Angel Ritual', and sacrifice my Blade Skater and my 'Cyber Tutu' to summon 'Cyber Angle Dakini' (2700, 2400). And when she's summoned, she destroys 1 monster on your field. Take it away Dakini!" Dakini fired a ray of white light. Aster raised his Duel Disk as a shield as his monster bit the dust.

"I play 'Destiny Mirage'!' Aster said. "Now that a Destiny Hero was destroyed by a card effect, I can call it right back to my field. So meet 'Destiny Hero – Fear Monger' (1000, 1000)."

"Well the reunion won't last long. Dakini, destroy his monster again!" Dakini leapt into the air and slammed her foot in Fear Monger, who doubled over and collapsed before exploding.

"Thank you. You've set off my Trap 'Destiny Signal'!" Aster said. "So now I can summon any Destiny Hero I want from my deck. Like for instance, 'Destiny Hero – Diamond Dude' (1400, 1600)."

"Go ahead, it's still not strong enough to beat my Cyber Angel," Alexis pointed out. "So I'll end my turn."

"It seems Alexis is taking the lead, but Aster didn't become Pro League champion by sitting around. She'd better be ready for anything," The announcer said

"I'll bet she's not ready for this!" Aster cried, drawing. "Because now the effect of the monster in my Graveyard activates. Remember when I played Graceful Charity? I discarded two cards, one of which happens to be 'Destiny Hero – Dasher'. And now that he's in the Graveyard, whenever I draw a monster, I can call him to the field right away."

"So fine, what did you draw?" Alexis asked. Aster smiled and flipped his card over to show her. Alexis gasped. "Oh no!"

"That's one of Aster's best monsters!" The announcer cried, jumping out of his seat.

"I guess this match is open and shut," Shroud chuckled. Beside him, Zane watched silently.

"Come on out 'Destiny Hero – Dreadmaster' (?,?)!" Aster announced. The muscular Hero card, that reminded Alexis of a cross between the Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Man in the Iron Mask, leapt onto Aster's field with a roar. "And now, to demonstrate why he's the master of dread. His special ability lets me summon any two Destiny Heroes in my Graveyard. Like 'Captain Tenacious' (800, 800), and 'Dasher (2100, 1000). And next, Captain Tenacious' effect kicks in! He lets me summon any Destiny Hero you destroyed last turn. So welcome back my 'Fear Monger' (1000, 1000)." Aster's five Destiny Heroes descended to the field as Alexis stepped back.

"Next I'll activate Diamond Dude's special ability, and look at the top card of my deck. And if it happens to be a Spell card, I can discard it to use it next turn." Aster flipped up the card. "And what do you now, it's 'Terraforming'. I'll store it in my Graveyard for later. And back in the present day, I'll sacrifice Diamond Dude, Captain Tenacious, and Fear Monger. Now I can summon 'Destiny Hero – Dogma' (3400, 2400). And just to wrap up this festival of summons, I'll play 'Monster Reborn' to revive Diamond Dude, and sacrifice him to bring out 'Destiny Hero – Double Dude' (1000, 1000)"

"Remarkable, Aster just called out his best monsters in the same turn! I've never seen anything like it! Now you folks know why they pay the kid the big bucks!" The announcer yelled.

"Oh, and don't think my Dreadmaster is gonna stand still. His points are equal to the combined points of all the Destiny Heroes on my field," Aster said, jerking a thumb at the monster in question. Dreadmaster beat his chest as his points skyrocketed (6500, 4400).

"Okay, Dreadmaster, send that Angel back to the afterlife!" Aster commanded. Dreadmaster leapt up and slammed a fist into Cyber Angle Dakini. Alexis covered her eyes as the monster exploded in a blast of dust.

-Alexis LP: 200, Aster LP: 4000-

"And now for my other monsters! Attack her directly!" Aster said. Dasher, Double Guy and Dogma ran towards Alexis.

"I reveal my face down card 'Scapegoat'!" Alexis cried. Four colored lambs appeared in front of her. "My Spell card calls four Sheep Tokens into play to block your attacks."

"Fine then, destroy all four of them!" Aster replied. The three Heroes each attacked a Token, while Double Dude bashed two of them with his cane. "You only bought yourself a turn. You're good, but not good enough to beat me." Aster said.

"We'll see," Alexis spat. "It's my turn now."

"Hold on. You forgot, Dogma has a special effect too. Every turn, he cuts your Life Points in half." Aster called. "Take it away Dogma!" A purple beam of energy engulfed Alexis, who let out a scream of agony.

-Alexis LP: 100, Aster LP: 4000-

"This can't be more one sided! Aster has all of his best monsters on the field and full Life Points, while Alexis is down to only 100! It seems this duel is over before it even began!" The announcer called.

"Not yet its not!" Alexis said, drawing. "I play 'Pot of Greed' to draw two more cards from my deck. Then I summon 'Cyber Petite Angel'. And when it's on the field, I can move 1 Machine Angel Ritual Spell card from my deck to my hand." Alexis took her deck out from her Duel Disk and fanned it out.

"What good will that do?" Aster asked.

"It's pointless, she knows she won't win. Aster's the reigning champion of the league, she couldn't beat him on her best day and his worst. Don't you agree, Zane?" Shroud asked. "After all, you've dueled Aster before, haven't you?"

"Shut your mouth before I do it for you," Zane growled, glaring at him.

"Now I play 'The Warrior Returning Alive'. It lets me revive any Warrior in the Graveyard and call it to my hand, like my Blade Skater. And next I'll play 'Machine Angel Ritual', and sacrifice Blade Skater and Cyber Petite Angel to summon 'Cyber Angle Benten' (1800, 1500)." Wielding a pair of razor-sharp fans connected to her wrists by chains, Alexis' favorite Cyber Angel descended to the field, her eyes flashing green.

"And I'll equip her with the Equip Spell 'Ritual Weapon'!" Benten held out her hand as a glowing gold crossbow appeared on it. "Now any Ritual monster on my field gets an extra 1500 points. That's a grand total of 3300! Cyber Angle Benten, destroy his Double Guy with Cyber Crossbow Blast!" Benten aimed and fired a blast of blue light in the shape of an arrow. Double Guy's cloak and hat peeled off as it was blown away. "And Benten has an effect of her own, Aster. When she destroys a monster, you take damage equal to that monster's defense points."

-Alexis LP: 100, Aster LP: 700-

"I'll set this card down and end my turn," Alexis sighed, lowering her Duel Disk.

"My turn then," Aster said, drawing. Alexis reached up to wipe a bit of sweat off her brow.

"If he attacks, I can activate my Golden Halo Trap. It can give my Cyber Angel 300 extra points, and negates the effect of any monster it battles with. So it doesn't matter if he attacks with Dogma or Dreadmaster. 300 points can beat Dogma, and with no effect, Dreadmaster loses his power." Alexis smiled. "Bring it on Aster!"

"You bet I will!" Aster said. "First off, I can summon these, two 'Double Dude Tokens' (1000, 1000) since you destroyed my Double Dude. Then the effect of Terraforming is activated from my Graveyard, letting me play my 'Clocktower Prison' Field Spell!" Alexis gasped and looked around as a gigantic building rose up from the ground around the arena, a large clocktower in the air behind Aster. And now, I sacrifice those two Tokens, and my Destiny Hero – Dasher, to summon this!" A pool of blood burst from Aster's Duel Disk, his monsters falling into it. The pool expanded to a large, winged form. Alexis gasped in horror as a crimson red Warrior rose from the blood.

"Meet 'Destiny Hero – Bloo D' (1900, 600)!" Aster cried. The monstrous leader of the Destiny Hero raised it hand and send a wave of blood across the field. Alexis stepped back as Benten was caught by the wave and swept towards Aster's field. "And when Bloo D is summoned, he takes an opponent's monster and absorbs it attack strength. Unfortunately your Ritual Weapon can't come for the ride, but I can deal with it." Bloo D's wing stretched as Benten was absorbed into it, losing her points to the dark hero she was now a part of (2800).

"And just to make sure I'll win, I'll throw in this Spell card 'D-Force'." A ray of red light shone from Aster's Duel Disk, illuminating the field. "This card prevents me from drawing, but as long as my Bloo D is out, your Spell, Trap, and Monster cards all have their effects negated!" Bloo D roared and held out its arm again. "Alright Bloo D, attack! Blood Wave!" Bloo D sent out a second wave of blood at Alexis. Alexis let out a scream as the crimson washed over her.

-Alexis LP: 0, Aster LP: 700

"And that's all folks, Aster Phoenix wins again! It seems that the champ simply can't be stopped!" Aster turned and left the arena as Alexis fell to her knees.

"Well, another one bites the dust," Shroud chuckled. "Excuse me, Mr. Truesdale, business calls." Shroud stepped towards the arena gates, when a hand clamped down on her shoulder.

"Say one word to her, and you'll regret it." Zane threatened. Shroud smiled.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you care about that girl. I hope you understand that I came to this arena to enlist a new client, and I won't be living until a Duel Academy graduate is working for me," Shroud shrugged off Zane's hand.

"You want a graduate?" Zane asked. "You have one."

"Oh? And just who would you be talking about?" Shroud mocked, knowing perfectly well.

"Me," Zane growled, narrowing his eyes.

"As you so kindly put, Mr. Truesdale, you already quit, and after I worked so hard to get you back on top. Remember?" Shroud sneered, looking over his shoulder at the duelist. Zane closed his eyes. Yes. The last duel Zane Truesdale had ever fought…at least, the last duel Zane Truesdale of Duel Academy had fought. And the first duel Zane Truesdale of the Profession Ranks had won.

"I'm making you a deal, Shroud," Zane said, opening his eyes. "Stay away from Alexis, and you can consider our partnership reinstated." Zane held out his hand, and Shroud turned, eyeing the duelist carefully.

"Be warned Zane, if there's one thing Thomas F. Shroud is not, it's a two-time fool. Betray me again, and you'll regret it. But in the meantime," Shroud took Zane's hand and shook firmly. "You have yourself a deal."