The Darkness of Destiny

Chapter 17

The Power of the Underground

"Prepare for a force unlike anyzing you've ever experienced before Herr Truesdale!" Zigfried declared. Zane raised a hand as wind whipped back Zigfried and blew his coat back.

"What is this?" he demanded.

"Zis is ze power of my Vide of Ze Valkyries spell card," Zigfried explained. "Now I can summon every Valkyrie monster I hold in my hand. Now, please velcome my three divine divas of destruction! 'Valkyrie Erste' (1600, 1800), 'Valkyrie Zwei' (1600, 1600) and 'Valkyrie Dritte' (1000, 1600)." Zigfried's three horseback warriors descended onto the field in front of him. "Now it's time for zeir special effects to activate. First, my Valkyrie Zwei destroys von monster on your side of ze field." Zwei raised her sword and pointed it at Zane's Volcanic Dragon. The flaming beast roared as a beast of light burst from Zwei's sword and struck it in the chest, before vanishing in a flash of light. "Next, Valkyrie Erste's effect removes zat monster from play, and gives its power to her." Esrte (2200) raised her sword and let out a cry as it grew bright red. "And finally, for every card removed from ze game, Valkyrie Dritte gains 100 points!" Dritte's (1100) horse reared as Dritte's sword glowed blue.

"Vell vell, it looks like ve veached ze finale before ve even began. Auf Wiedersehen Herr Truesdale," Zigfried chuckled, folding his arms over his chest. Zane glared. "Now, Valkyrie Dritte, attack Herr Truesdale directly!" Zigfried commanded, flinging out an arm. Dritte's horse jumped into the air, and Zane raised an arm as Dritte rode the steed down, slashing her sword across Zane's back. "Und now, Valkyrie Zwei, give him some more!" Zwei reared up and galloped forward as Zane stood up, and he cried out as Zwei sliced at his chest. Zane collapsed to his knees and clenched his eyes shut. "Stay down, Herr Truesdale, vhere you belong! Valkyrie Erste, end zis duel now!" Ertse rode forward and leapt up, bringing her sword down on Zane in a blast of smoke. "I believe victory is mine, Herr Truesdale," Zigfried smirked.

-Zane LP: 200, Zigfried LP: 4000-

"Don't be so sure," Zane sneered, standing up. "Check my Duel Disk," he said, looking down at the display. Zigfried's eyes widened.

"Impossible, how did you survive?" Zigfried gasped.

"You seem to have forgotten, I had a card face down," Zane replied. "It was my 'Shrink' card, and it cuts Erste's attacks points in half, down to 1100. So I was able to survive your little onslaught."

"Barely," Zigfried scoffed. "Now I place von card face down und end my turn."

"Remember, thanks to the side effect of Ride of the Valkyries, all your monsters are shuffled into your deck now," Zane said.

"Zat means nozing to me," Zigfried shrugged, picking up the cards from his Duel Disk and shuffling them into his deck. "My lovely ladies have done more zen enough damage to you, you've only got a few hundred points, and zey von't last long."

"Longer than you will. My move," Zane growled, drawing. "You made a fatal mistake Zigfried. Your Valkyries are gone now, leaving you wide open for a direct assault! I summon 'Cyber Phoenix' (1200, 1600)!" The glittering metal bird rose in front of Zane in a shroud of flame, spreading its wings to disperse the fire with a screech. "Cyber Phoenix, direct attack!" Zane commanded, flinging his arm out at Zigfried. Cyber Phoenix opened its beak and fired a blast of fire across the field.

"I am afraid zat attack is of no use Herr Truesdale!" Zigfried called. "I activate my Trap card 'Loge's Flame'!" A wall of light blue flame shot up from the ground in front of Zigfried, intercepting Cyber Phoenix's attack. The fireball vanished, and the firewall died down.

"What was that?" Zane snapped.

"Fighting fire with fire, of course. Loge's Flame automatically negates the attack of any monsters vith less zen 2000 attack points," Zigfried smirked. "So your pathetic machine is much to zeak to penetrate my defense."

"Fine then. You know what kind of cards I have in my deck. It's only a matter of time before I find a way to break that wall down," Zane replied. "I end my turn."

"Very vell," Zigfried said, drawing. "I vill draw, und end my turn."

"That's it?" Zane muttered.

"Vhy not, it's not like you can do anyzing, my Loge's Flame has halted your monsters in their tracks," Zigfried reminded.

"We'll see," Zane said, drawing. He looked down at his hand and furrowed his brow."He's just stalling to draw another card to summon those Valkyries again. I barely survived the first time he summoned them. I can't let that happen again. I have to beat him before he draws the card he waiting for."

"Time is money Herr Truesdale, and I'm a vealthy man," Zigfried taunted.

"Yeah yeah. I play 'Cyberdark Lion' (1000, 300) in defense mode, and switch Cyber Phoenix to defense mode as well." The black feline kneeled down in front of Zane, sparks crackling along the jagged metal spikes that served as its mane.

"Hiding behind pathetic defenses like zat is pathetic," Zigfried laughed, drawing.

"Look who's talking," Zane replied. Zigfried looked at his hand.

"Ah vell, no good. I pass zis turn as vell."

"You can't stall forever," Zane growled. "I draw, and activate the Spell card 'Graceful Charity'. Now I can draw three cards, as long as I discard two of them." Zane drew, and smirked. "Well, seems I found a way around your Trap Zigfried."

"Oh veally?" Zigfried scoffed, crossing his arms.

"Oh veally," Zane mocked. "I discard 'Infernal Dragon' (2000, 0000) and 'Fusion Guard'. And now the stage is set for this card!" Zane held up the card from his hand. "I activate the Spell card 'Cyberdark Impact'! This card returns 'Cyberdark Horn', 'Cyberdark Keel', and 'Cyberdark Edge' from my hand to my deck." Zane took out his deck and shuffled the three machine cards into it. "Now I can summon my ultimate machine card! Meet 'Cyberdark Dragon' (1000, 1000)!" Zigfried cried out and stepped back as the giant black and gray dragon rose from the water in the ocean behind Zane. The mechanical beast roared loudly.

"Now I'll use its effect. First, it equips itself with a dragon from my Graveyard, and absorbs its attack points. I'll choose my Infernal Dragon." The black dragon appeared hovering underneath Cyberdark Dragon, and the monstrosity's loose circuits wrapped around the dragon in a shower of sparks. "Next, for every other cards in my Graveyard, it gets another hundred points. I count six cards, giving my Dragon a total of 3600 points!" Cyberdark Dragon roared again as a dark aura wrapped around its body. Zigfried's eyes went wide.

"You can't!" he protested.

"I can! Cyberdark Dragon, attack Zigfried directly! Dark Spear Blast!" Zane commanded. The dark aura pulsed and gathered around Cyberdark Dragon's mouth. The dark energy spewed forth in a barrage of jagged-black arrows, and Zigfried cried as the spears exploded around him, throwing him back into the side of the helicopter behind him.

-Zane LP: 200, Zigfried LP: 400-

"Just one more turn and you're finished," Zane sneered as Zigfried slowly climbed to his feet, pushing away his bodyguards.

"Don't be so sure," he growled, drawing. Zigfried looked at his card and smiled. "Behold, Herr Truesdale, you got in a lucky short, but von shot is all you shall gets! I activate ze Spell card 'Nibelung's Treasure'! Zis lets me activate 'Nibelung's Ring' from my deck und place it on your side of ze field!" A large, glowing silver ring appeared over Zane's field and slipped onto Cyberdark Dragon's body, shrinking into place and sparking.

"What did you do to my dragon?" Zane demanded.

"Ze power of Nibelung's Ring prevents ze monster equipped with it from attacking. Und zere's more, ze effect of Nibelung's Treasure also lets me draw five new cards." Zigfried picked up his cards and smiled. "I place two cards face-down, and activate ze Spell card 'Gryphon's Feather Duster'. Now by destroying all Spell und Trap cards on my side of ze field, I regain five hundred life points for each of zem." The wall of fire from Loge's Flame whirled away as Zigfried's three holograms shattered.

-Zane LP: 200, Zigfried LP: 1900-

"You made a mistake there," Zane smirked. "You may have regained some Life Points, but you lost Loge's Flame, so now you can't block my attacks anymore."

"You'll understand in a moment, Herr Truesdale," Zigfried scoffed. "First, ze two face-down cards I sacrificed were 'Pegasus Vings' und 'Apple of Enlightenment'. First, ze effect of my Apple lets me draw von cards since I just removed it from ze field. Zen, ze second effect of Loge's Flame activates! Since it was just removed from ze field, I can summon from my hand ze lovely 'Valkyrie Brunhilde' (1800, 2000)!" Zigfried's newest Valkyrie galloped onto the field, riding a pristine white horse and dressed in bright blue armor.

"Now Herr Truesdale, vhat were you saying about my losing in von more turn?" Zigfried chuckled. Zane narrowed his eyes and growled.

"Well Aster, ready to sign that contract?" Alicia laughed. Aster growled.

"I can't duel, not if the stakes are this high," he thought, looking up at Alexis. "If I don't duel, my career and Kaiba Corp are finished. But if I keep dueling, Alexis' life is in danger. And the longer I take deciding what to do, the more damage Alicia can do to me."

"Hurry up," Alicia called. Aster gritted his teeth and closed his eyes.

"Aster…" Alexis grunted, shaking off the tingles from the last spark. "You have to duel, you can't afford to lose this."

"And you can't afford for me to win this either!" Aster protested. Alexis shook her head.

"I'll be fine. You know me, I'm tougher than she thinks. Beat her and gets us out of this mess!" she ordered.

"How very touching. I think I'm about to vomit," Alicia muttered. "It really doesn't matter, you're going to lose anyway Aster, you might as well surrender and save the two of you the agony."

"Not likely," Aster replied. "Come on, just make your move, it's your turn."

"If you insist," Alicia said, drawing. "First, I'll activate my face-down card 'Thorn Barrage'." A series of vines grew from the ground beside Alicia, twisting around each other and blooming six rose blossoms to form a biological minigun of plants and leaves. "During each of my standby phases, this trap card inflicts 200 damage to you for every Plant monster in my Graveyard." The first rose blossom glowed and fired a yellow beam of energy into Aster's chest. Aster screamed as another jolt of electricity shot through his body.

-Aster LP; 2800, Alicia LP: 3500-

"You look a little worse for the wear, Aster," Alicia taunted. "How about a little help?"

"No thanks," Aster coughed, glaring.

"Too bad. I activate the Spell card 'Rain of Mercy'. This rain restores both of our Life Points by a thousand points!" Alicia said.

-Aster LP: 3800, Alicia: 4500-

"Why would you restore my Life Points?" Aster asked.

"Because the more you have, the more I can take away!" Alicia smirked. "I summon 'Rainbow Flower' (400, 500)" A small potted plant with multi-colored leaves shimmered into position on Alicia's field, small eyes blinking in its center. "Rainbow Flower's special ability lets it bypass your monsters and attack directly! Rainbow Flower, show him what I mean!" Rainbow Flower growled and hopped across the field, jumping up and slamming its flower pot into Aster's head. Aster cringed and stumbled back as more electricity shot up his arm.

-Aster LP: 3400, Alicia LP: 4500-

"It's…my turn," he grunted, drawing. "I sacrifice my Dunker to summon 'Destiny Hero - Double Dude' (1000, 1000)." Aster looked up at the suited hero as it rose up in front of him, twirling its cane.

"What good is that going to do?" Alicia laughed. "Do you really plan to attack me?" Aster looked over at Alexis, and the female duelist nodded.

"Sorry Alexis," Aster said. "Double Dude, attack her Rainbow Flower now!" Double Dude leapt up and burst out its suit, turning into a muscle-bound monster. The deformed hero slammed its palm into Rainbow Flower. Alicia smirked and turned her head as Alexis screamed, the black bracelets on her wrists flashing red.

"Ouchie," she snickered.

-Aster LP: 3400, Alicia LP: 3900-

"I place a card face-down and end my turn," Aster said.

"Alright. I draw, and the effect of Thorn Barrage inflicts 200 damage to you for every Plant card in my Graveyard," Alicia replied. Aster cringed as more pain shot through his body.

-Aster LP: 3000, Alicia LP: 3900-

"How…can you duel…like this?" Aster groaned out, clutching his chest.

"Get used to it. That's the way of the Underground Duel. It takes a lot out of you – mercy, compassion, hope, fear, and replaces them with strength. All that matters in this world is power, and once you've dueled in our world, you'll never be the same to win! To succeed in the Underground Leagues, you have to do anything to win!" Alicia recited. Aster's eyes widened slightly.

"So, this is what the Underground Leagues are like…doing anything to win… is this what Zane went through when I beat him?" he thought, reflecting on his greatest rival with a wince. "I think I get it now. Underground Duels…Zane, no wonder you hate me so much."

"I play the Spell card 'Pot of Greed', and draw two cards," Alicia said, picking up the cards. She looked at her hand and peeked over them at Aster.

"I see it in your eyes, Aster. You've only begun to experience the power of the Underground," she thought. "Pain, suffering, these are the prices you'll pay for success, and in time you'll learn to accept these hardships willingly. Let go of your inhibitions and you emotions, and strike at me with everything you have regardless of the consequences. This duel will mold you into the perfect champion for us. By the time we leave this warehouse, not only will you work for Schroeder Corp, you'll revel in it!"

"I activate the Spell card that will seal your doom!" Alicia laughed. "The Spell card 'Painful Choice', although I suspect it's not quite as painful as the choice you're about to make soon. I select five cards from my deck, and you select one of those cards to go to my hand, and the other four are discarded." Alicia pulled her deck from her Duel Disk and fanned it out, choosing her cards. "I select these," she said, holding out the cards. "The cards 'Dark Plant', 'Laughing Flower', 'Man-Eater', 'Bean Soldier' and 'Snakeyashi'." Aster gasped.

"Oh no!" he cried. "Five Plant monsters!"

"Correct. I frankly don't care which one of them you pick, all I care about is getting four more monsters in the Graveyard, and I'm sure you know what that means," Alicia said. Alexis watched from the side of the room, shocked.

"If Aster doesn't pull a comeback soon, he won't have enough time to,"she thought. "Come on Aster, you can beat her, don't give up!" Alexis cheered.

"I…you can take Dark Plant," Aster sighed. Alicia folded the other four cards up and slipped them into her Graveyard.

"Good. Next I summon 'Vampire Orchis' (1700, 1000), and use its effect to Special Summon 'Des Dendle' (300, 2000)." A large tree with a vicious mouth appeared, toothy buds snapping from vines on its sides. Beside it, a large rock covered in yellow and green moss rose from the floor. "I'll use Des Dendle's effect to Union it with my Vampire Orchis." The tree crawled over onto the rock, lashing out dark green roots and wrapping them around it. "Vampire Orchis, attack Double Dude!" The tree lashed out its snapping vines. The tiny mouths bit into the suited hero, carrying away the shreds of its clothing as it shattered. "And when Vampire Orchis destroys a monster while in Union with Des Dendle, I can summon 'Wicked Plant Token' (700, 700)." A dark green seed dropped from Vampire Orchis, sprouting into a thorny flower with a black blossom. "Wicked Plant Token, attack!" A cloud of purple poison vapors floated over Aster, and he threw his head back with a scream as more electricity shot through him. The shocks stopped, and Aster crumpled forward to the ground.

"I'll finish your torture by activating the Spell card 'Mass Driver', and offer my Vampire Orchis and Wicked Plant Token as Tributes to inflict a little more damage," Alicia smirked. Aster twitched limply as the Duel Disk shocked him again. Wisps of smoke rose from his gray suit after the jolts ended

-Aster LP: 1000, Alicia LP: 3900-

"It's over. On my next turn, Thorn Barrage will inflict 200 damage for every Plant in my Graveyard. I count nine Plants. You can't win now, Aster. You've lost!" Alicia sneered.

"NO!" Alexis cried. "Aster, get up, you can't give in!" Aster let out a small moan and put his hands on the floor to push himself up.

"Al..exis…I…can't…" he whimpered. His arms shook as he put a knee down to steady himself, the groan. His arms pitched forward as Aster slumped down with a groan.

Sorry for the wait, but given that this chapter was just straight-out dueling, it took me a little longer.

Also, given my decreasing involvement with the GX fandom, as well as the end of the original series, I've come to a decision. This shall be what a friend of mine called 'my swan song' – my final Yugioh fanfic. Come this end, I'll be unofficially retiring and focusing on my Inuyasha stories. But do not worry, for this is my final Yugioh fic and I promise you all, I shall go out with a blaze of glory and make my last story one to remember!