Hello again. This chapter contains many cards used in the Anime that have not been released. Such is the nature of the deck theme I suppose.
The Phantom Dragon cards used in this chapter once had very credible information that they were going to be released, and their stats were released on several web-sites. They unfortunately proved to be a hoax (which is why they are so vaguely described) but I did not know this when I outlined the chapter.
Some forums still have the information on them if you are curious.
This chapter has some rough content, and a character with a rather tragic back-story. Necessary I'm afraid, and it makes the character more relatable.
I forgot last chapter to mention, that I obviously don't own Yu-Gi-Oh! If I did, GX would have a point.
I do however; have reason to keep the characters included to myself, unless of course, asked, but most people know that already.
I'm sure you all want the plot to get rolling, so here we go
Chapter Two: Frozen with Fear
Isabelle, now seven years old, positioned herself in the most private corner she could find. The little girl had so many conflicting feelings about her brother. At some times, he could be the most caring and understanding person in the world to her, even if he did mostly keep to himself.
When it came to their parents though, it was a different story. In her life, she had never truly seen Peter embracing their affections. Sometimes, like now, it was an active verbal war.
"I told you, I'm not interested!" the Wheeler teen repeated, even though he hadn't been asked if he was.
Mai bit back a similar shout, and proceeded to take a deep breath. How a casual mention of the conversation at dinner the previous night half-an-hour ago had degenerated to this, she didn't have the patience to figure out.
Joey, once again calmly repeated to his boy the point he was trying to get across. "And I told you, you don't have to duel anyone. I only said we're planning to go to this thing because we don't see Duke and Serenity very often, and this school project is a big deal to them."
Peter countered with a venomous glare. "Why is there never anything in your life except Duel Monsters Dad? I've grown up with it on every commercial. I see kids get cards for every birthday. Well finally it's begun to die, and I can put it all behind me. It almost cost you your daughter."
"It almost took my life and soul on more then one occasion!" Isabelle heard her father shout back. "But for the love of everything, it's a card game Peter! That sick bastard in the sewer was responsible and you know it!"
"LIAR!" Peter shouted in more of a screech before walking out the door without even bothering to slam it.
Isabelle crept back into the room before hugging her mother in comfort. Looks of worry were quietly exchanged.
"You want me to go after him?" Joey asked exasperated, although he thought he already knew the answer.
"It won't do any more then the other times," Mai answered, though she clearly didn't like the fact. Peter wandering around aimlessly was not a common occurrence, but certainly not a rare one. "I just wish there was a way to get him back doing something for fun. He spent a little time on that electric guitar, but that's it."
"Don't forget the D.D.R. phase," Joey reminded. "I don't get it, I mean for a while he still loved the game."
Mai wanted to continue the conversation, but not within earshot of the little girl, comfortably resting her head on her lap with her eyes closed. Mai knew what had changed. Isabelle had gotten older, and Peter had discovered just how much he would have missed had he failed.
Peter felt the coins in his pocket, making sure he had enough for two phone calls. Lost in thought, he punched the number into a pay phone that he had long since memorized. The phone rang twice before he heard the voice on the other side.
"Moshi Moshi," answered the voice o the other side. Peter was relieved that the person he wanted to talk to had answered the phone. He wasn't sure if he could have asked another person to pass the phone.
"Taishi, it's Peter. I hate to invite myself over like this, but do you have time to talk?"
"I just saw you last night," the girl answered, "If it's important, I can talk to you, but to tell you the truth, I feel like I'm hanging around you too much."
"It's important, please," Peter begged.
The voice on the other side paused, obviously sensing that the meeting would bring her mood down, and her day likely wouldn't recover.
"All right," she finally answered. "You sound like you need someone to talk to, but Peter, I can't take on all of your problems. You're lucky I'm not busy today."
"Understood, thank you," Peter smiled. "I'll be there, and we can go for a walk ok?" No answer came. Taishi had already hung up the phone.
Sighing, Peter thought of Derik as he fiddled with his other coin. Sighing, he picked up the phone and dialed another familiar number.
Taishi Chisaioh was Peter Wheeler's best friend, and in fact, one of his only. The circumstances of their meeting were unusual.
They had met in a child support group. Peter's parents had signed his up a few months after Battle City. It was all too obvious that Peter was having difficulty being responsible for the death of that man in the sewer.
Taishi was the last to share at that first meeting. She hadn't said much, but over the course of the meetings, he managed to piece the story together.
Taishi was the product of a one-night-stand, raised by a mother that was far too young to be responsible for a baby. Her mother's actions were never exactly inhibited.
Taishi's mother was rarely in a place to pull things together, and struggled to make ends meet even working two jobs.
Eventually she began selling herself, and later her daughter for money. Taishi was barely able to get the words out through tears as she told the group how her drunk mother watched her being used by a stranger, with two others waiting outside the door.
Desperate to change her situation, Taishi raided the garbage bins of every card shop nearby, making a Duel Monsters deck out of the cheap throwaways, sometimes even selling the thrown out cards back to the shop they had come from, making any money she could.
Eventually, Taishi was put in foster care, and her mother sent to rehabilitation, but not before the decisions had dramatically changed her life. Taishi was HIV positive.
Peter got through his story quickly, and Taishi, trained to listen through the support groups, let him finish his story. In fact, she didn't say her first word of the conversation until he had finished.
"I think you should go," her quiet voice rang with a finality that meant she wasn't going to change her mind. "I'm not asking you to duel, but I want you to be there… to watch me."
"You?" Peter repeated. It was meant as a question, but it came off more as a, "you're not important enough for me to pay attention to. He didn't look back to her, but Taishi pressed on.
"This is my chance to get out and do something, be somewhere. It's an opportunity that I'm going to take. Just be there in a few days ok? See if that friend of yours in going to show up. You've mentioned him, but I've never met him."
The fact that Derik was now the focus of the conversation threw Peter for a loop. He had been so eager to talk and vent to his old friend, he hadn't thought of the possibility to meat face to face. He tried his best smile, his eyes scanning Taishi's hair again before forcing himself to focus on her green eyes for a moment. It was times like this he wondered why he wasn't dating her.
The conversation hadn't lasted long after that. Peter was so focused on getting out his own thoughts; he really didn't take in much else.
The next few days were pretty much a blur. The day the entrance ceremony arrived, he didn't even remember what day it was.
Peter made sure he had his personal game system along, as well as the most challenging game he owned. His mind was lost in a maelstrom of thought, and his face was constantly tight, though he did find Taishi and wish her good luck. He even helped her secure her Duel Disk to her arm.
After his family had made it to the upper decks, he found a plastic chair to lose himself in. Peter drowned out most of the conversation, only catching bits and pieces.
"I have to give it to you Kaiba," Joey stated impressed, "You certainly know how to pick the spots."
The windows overlooked a massive room, about the size of two or three gymnasiums. So large in fact, that there were four sets of sliding fire doors to contain any blaze that erupted. Five dueling stations were set up with various staff members. Kaiba couldn't help but feel disappointed, only about a hundred students even showed up.
"Yes," the man's familiar gruff voice rang with obvious disappointment. "My best duelist had a schedule conflict. I actually hired him because he was so close to starting some kind of duel dojo, and I couldn't have the competition. These are bottom tier of my staff, though they're still good enough to weed out the dropouts, the Italian in particular."
"Is that a man?" asked an honestly unsure Mai.
"Excuse me," rang a voice in clear English, "am I interrupting anything?" Peter looked up from his game in surprise.
Duke took a moment to compose himself. "Guys, this is Maikeru Itai, the most notable dueling name in America."
At that, Peter took the opportunity to pause his game. To him he didn't look like an American champion, his face was obviously of Asian ancestry, as was his name. His hair was neatly combed, and he wore quite casual clothes. He seemed almost overwhelmed and nervous to be here.
Mai and Joey both wondered what it was about this guy that made Duke and Kaiba so extremely nervous.
"No," Kaiba replied amused, you're just in time. We'll get your exhibition match under way as soo…"
Kaiba was cut off as water began to rain from the sprinklers overhead. On the floor downstairs, screams of surprise were heard as water poured onto the floor. The fire doors activated immediately, closing the room into five small strips. Security shielding also covered the window in the box, blocking the view within seconds.
"What's going on?" Duke sputtered.
"I don't know," Kaiba replied calmly, but firmly, switching on an intercom installed in a desk. "Find the joker, and get me a report of what's going on down there. Someone's just made a mistake."
"It's no good," Mai observed, "the light's not turning on."
"Well, at least we have a view of the action," Maikeru noted, trying to keep calm. "We have a video feed of someone dueling."
Peter looked up at the video screen for a moment. His mother spoke his thought out loud.
Taishi was just about ready to duel when the sprinklers had been turned on overhead. Her opponent was wearing a stunning blue, complete with elbow length rubber gloves, and a mask covering half her face.
"Attention Duelist," she smiled sweetly, introducing herself. "I go by the name Skadi. Shame that this happened just now isn't it? We can continue dueling if you wish, there's nothing better to do."
Taishi looked, noting that the retractable walls had completely shut her in with her opponent. Not seeing any reason to be bored, she agreed. This would still be an entrance exam anyway.
"I accept. My name is Taishi Chisaioh, by the way. Do you mind if I go first?" she inquired, drawing her opening hand.
"Not at all," the woman in blue responded, and the duel was underway.
Taishi began, thankful that the Duel Disks were manufactured with being caught in the rain in mind. The inexperienced duelist prayed that her cards would not be warped beyond repair.
Well, this one is no good in the early game anyway, Taishi observed, planning a combo for later. "I set one monster in defense mode, and set another two cards facedown." True to her word, the facedown cards appeared in holographic form, regardless of the damp room.
The woman in blue drew her hand up to six, and even behind her mask, she was obviously displeased at what she saw. "I also set a monster in defense mode," she stated. Unknown to Taishi it was the only one she had.
Lovely, the black haired girl complained, my perfect chance to get an early lead, and she has to set a monster in defense.
"I also set one hidden card," the opponent finished, "and end my turn."
"This is going nowhere," Taishi observed, tense about the fact that the match could take awhile in such uncomfortable conditions. She drew another card into her hand, and her face tightened in frustration. "Go," she relented. The word was more spat then spoken.
The woman in blue drew her next card, thankful for the new insurance if things didn't go her way.
"I summon Blizzard Dragon to deal with your defender."
Taishi squinted with curiosity as well as suspicion. "What the heck is a Blizzard Dragon?"
Apparently Blizzard Dragon was a rather young looking blue dragon with a cream colored belly. Other then the leathery bat-like wings attached to the creature's forearms, the creature was perfectly smooth, giving it a shiny slick appearance. The monster's red stony eyes stood out against the creature's squat face. (1800/1000)
Taishi was tempted to spare the monster, just because she hadn't seen it before, but strategy won over fascination, and she triggered her facedown trap.
"Well, I hope this works," Taishi muttered, cautious of the fact that a new monster could easily have an immunity she didn't know about. "I activate Torrential Tribute. Since you summoned a new monster, both our fields are wiped clean."
"I know what it does Miss Chisaioh. Remember I am far from a beginner." The woman watched closely, wishing she had flipped up her Nightmare Penguin face-up first, but how was she to know she would never get the chance? On Taishi's field, the monster's identity was not clear. It just seemed to be a mess of large bones in a purple shroud.
Taishi shrugged. "It's just common courtesy in this game to keep the opponent informed. Remember, you can't summon another monster this turn, so I'll…"
"Just because I don't have a monster doesn't mean I'm done," the woman reminded calmly. "I happen to have a pet peeve for impatience."
Taishi tensed, a bit embarrassed. "I'm sorry, that was my mistake. Most people really can't do anything else."
"It's all right," the blue clothed opponent reassured with genuine politeness, as she took another card from her hand. "I activate Ice Age Panic." The card rose, revealing a giant beam of blue light bursting into the sky from a frozen wasteland.
"Another one I don't know," Taishi sighed. "Then again, I've only dueled the same three people every tournament. Fiends, Zombies, and Amazons I know, but would you mind filling me in?"
"Of course," returned the woman with a friendly smile. "You mentioned Zombies, so I assume you know about Call of the Mummy?"
"That I do know," Taishi answered, longing to know more.
Skadi nodded. "This card isn't continuous, but it's similar. When I have no monsters on my side of the field, I can Special Summon an EARTH attribute monster from my deck to the field."
Taishi swallowed a bit as she took in the information. The young woman was slightly surprised by the choice of monster that burst from the floor in a shower of holographic ice.
The monster was obviously feminine, the skintight orchid colored outfit made that perfectly clear. Some unusual characteristics included the complete lack of hair, a mask covering most of the figure's face, a large gold hoop earring, a section of pleated skirt, and large elegant blades on the monster's feet and arms. (1400/1500)
Blade Skater Taishi recognized. It was commonplace in the trash she constructed her deck from. She never quite understood if her designer had run out of time to finish her outfit, or if she was supposed to look that way.
"Interesting choice," Taishi noted, "but why that one? If you could summon any EARTH monster, then why not pick a powerhouse?"
"Truth be told, I don't play many EARTH monsters," Skadi confessed. "But when they come from the deck, it doesn't matter how many I have when Ice Age Panic searches them out for me. Besides, since Blade Skater is a Warrior type monster, I can protect her from another trap by activating Snowfall Sword."
Taking the place where Ice Age Panic had previously been, a continuous Magic card bearing the picture of a bulky curved blade bearing a kanji symbol settled onto the field.
"As long as I have a Warrior on the field, any targeting Magic and Trap effects against Warrior type monsters are negated. So now that the way is paved, Blade Skater will attack your life points directly with Accel Slicer."
Taishi braced herself for the attack. The hologram glided over with grace and beauty, leaving a dazzling trail of sparkles in her wake. She then went into a spin that would have made Olympic judges proud. That is, if Taishi would have been far enough away to avoid them making contact.
As Taishi's life points dropped to 6600, the girl then felt a jolt to her right arm, causing the limb to go numb. Half the wind in her lungs left her, and her eyes widened in surprise, as she caught on to her situation.
"Oh my God," Duke whispered, seeing the footage. Kaiba's skin paled to a shade not unlike concrete.
"What's the matter?" Maikeru asked confused.
Mai and Joey leaned closer to the screen as Kaiba pointed to the image. A pinch of distaste crossed his face when he realized he couldn't simply pause and enhance the image. His finger revealed a loose black wire on the underside of Taushi's duel disk.
"It's the safety," Duke added grimly. "The physical sensations of taking damage are caused by filtering electrical impulses into the nerves of the wearer's arm. Obviously we have a computer that reads the type and severity of damage to stimulate the right nerves. The link to that computer's been cut."
Peter looked up from his game, losing his first life, causing a tragic bar of music to play.
"Those batteries almost last forever! "Joey exclaimed as Mai let out a small gasp.
"The batteries also power the holograms," Kaiba added, and we all know what kind of power is behind those. I can't contact the staff from here, I only hope that they get that door open in time."
He turned with a hopelessness that no one in the room had ever seen since Kaiba had lost to Pegasus himself. "I may enjoy pushing people's limits, but I will not see that girl being reported dead on tonight's news."
Skadi ended her turn with a hand of two, and a sinking feeling started to take hold in Taishi's heart. She now knew the reason behind Skadi's rubber gloves and boots. The situation she was in was no accident. It was planned, and Skadi was far more dangerous then she let on. Deciding that calling her out would be the worst thing she could do, Taishi decided to continue the game as if nothing was wrong. It wasn't as if she could get out of the room anyway. Taishi would just have to keep a closer eye on her opponent.
"Is something wrong?" Skadi inquired in a voice so gentle few would believe it false.
"No, nothing," Taishi responded, taking a bit too much time to be believable. Skadi didn't appear to notice.
Well, this will help at least, "I activate Emergency Provisions, sacrificing my facedown card to gain one thousand life points."
The facedown card in question became a large Saltine cracker, which crumbled into a small wicker basket previously not in play.
As Taishi felt her life points rise to 7600, the top of the wicker basket flew off to reveal something that was definitely not cracker crumbs. That was all Skadi could tell however, as the offensive party vanished before Skadi could get a good look.
"I didn't quite get that, what just happened?"
"Oh, forgive my friends' polite intrusion, they always just seem to show up," Taishi answered, showing a full hand of what was now seven cards. "The card I sacrificed was Ojamagic. When it's sent to the Graveyard, Ojama Green, Ojama Yellow, and Ojama Black are pulled from my deck to my hand."
Taishi always seemed to be in a good mood whenever she used the Ojamas. They never failed to make her laugh. Taishi almost forgot the purpose in her move was to restore her life points. While it didn't do much to stop the throbbing in her arm, her spirits were better off then before.
"Now I set another monster in defense mode," Taishi confirmed, "and another card facedown to end my turn."
Skadi drew up to three, a bit shorter then Taishi's five, but took the circumstances in stride.
"I summon Cyber Valkyrie in attack mode."
Skadi's newest monster was again a woman, dressed in slightly futuristic blue clothing, including a pleated skirt. The outfit was arctic blue, and was accentuated with metal wristbands and a visor over her eyes, bringing out her snow white hair. (1300/1500)
Skadi sent back a friendly smile, causing Taishi to try not to look any different then she had been. "She's a Warrior too, just to let you know." The woman in blue addressed, making Taishi once again take Snowfall Sword into account.
"Now as an enhancement," Skadi began, revealing a card with a transparent blade surrounded by a spiral of water. At the top of the column, the water took a form reminiscent of the face of an emperor penguin, "this is a card called Penguin Sword. It's the WATER version of Salamandra, or Shine Castle, raising the attack power of Cyber Valkyrie by seven hundred points."
Taishi kept surprisingly calm throughout the whole process, even as the blue warrior gave the clear weapon a few test swings, leaving a clear ring in the air.
"Now I send Cyber Valkyrie to attack your facedown monster," Skadi explained, causing her newest monster to begin to form an orb of energy in her left hand while keeping the sword at ready in her right.
Taishi responded coolly, activating a face-down card on her Disk. "Well, this combo should prove I can handle being a Duelist Academy student. I activate DNA Surgery."
The Trap card lifted, and Skadi's eyes narrowed considerably behind her mask. She didn't know what the young woman was up to, but she knew she was about to be in trouble.
"Insects or Machines?" Skadi asked, the politeness in her voice taking a hit.
Taishi giggled. "Neither. I always call either Fairies or Fiends. This time it's the latter."
Skadi expected the change in her monsters to be a dramatic restructuring until they were barely recognizable. In a moment she wished that it was the case.
Blade Skater doubled over backwards and began crab walking on her pointed blades. Her eyes went white, and the mask that covered her mouth became stained dark red.
Cyber Valkyrie's neck snapped audibly, and she soon faced Taishi with her chin aligned with her spine. Green slime began to dribble from the monster's mouth.
Taishi knew that this was one of her most effective strategies, but she had always played tabletop duels in the past.
Outside the barricaded room, workers were already trying to get through to Taishi's prison, and having very little luck.
"Damn," one of them cursed, exasperated. "Some kind of water activated glue's keeping the door shut, we're going to have to try and get through the darn wall."
One of the other guests watched carefully, working thinking of a way out of the situation.
He ran his fingers through his dark hair in thought, pushing one of the yellow bangs away from his eyes.
"Excuse me," he addressed, though not catching anyone's attention.
"There's no way in," one of the worker's replied. "We don't have any explosives or blowtorches in here to get through a firewall."
"Excuse me," the young man repeated, not having much better luck.
I bet my dad never had this type of problem, he sighed to himself, I bet the people in there are fine. I just wish they'd turn down the air conditioning. It was beyond him why anyone would turn the cooling systems on high when everyone was already wet and cold to begin with.
Skadi finally understood the maneuver when she found out exactly what monster she was attacking. Still holding the sword, Cyber Valkyrie shot a chilled orb of blue energy, revealing her target as a green child-like creature wearing the red robes and crown of a French king. (3000/3000) It was a creature Skadi had faced before.
"Goblin King gains one thousand attack and defense points from every Fiend on the field, and I count three."
To add insult to injury, as Skadi's life points lowered to 7000, she disdainfully sent her Snowfall Sword to the Graveyard. It could only be maintained as long as she had a Warrior in play, and right now she obviously didn't.
"I set another card face-down then," The woman completed, remembering her act, "and end my turn. Congratulations Taishi that was quite an impressive combination you just used."
No card? Taishi noticed, relaxing considerably. I must be doing better then I thought.
Drawing up to six cards, Taishi tensed up more then relaxed. This could be just what I need, but if it doesn't work… well, I'm better off at least trying. It's just as likely to fail later then now, so if I'm going to be I trouble, at least now I have some solid advantage with my Goblin King.
"I activate the ability of King of the Swamp to discard it from my hand to the Graveyard, and add a Polymerization card to my hand."
Oh great, Skadi slumped, knowing full well what the girl held in her hand.
Meeting the woman's expectations, Taishi activated the product of her recent search. "Now, I fuse the three Ojama monsters in my hand, and summon Ojama King in Defense Mode."
The three intruding monsters vanished into their portal with all manner of annoying noises following them through. Why a king of anything would use attire composed of a green sheet for a cape and two pairs of red underwear, Taishi would never understand. The monster was best described as a giant egg with eyestalks, a large nose, and a grin that made the Pot of Greed look trustable. The crown would have brought a minute level of respect had it not been made of paper. (0/3000)
Taishi held her breath to see what effect DNA Surgery had on her Ojama King, but to her surprise, nothing physical changed. The large being simply mumbled the same repeated phrase over and over.
"One, two three, four five, six… one, two, three, four, five, six…"
"Weird," Taishi muttered, though she noted that the monster must indeed be a Fiend because her Goblin King's attack and defense power had grown to four thousand apiece, and at the moment that was all that mattered.
"I switch Goblin King into attack mode," Taishi commanded, "and attack Cyber Valkyrie with Red Stone Thumb."
The childish monarch rose to his feet, a grin of enjoyment on his green baby-like face. Menacingly, he held up his right thumb, which was giving off a crimson aura, intent on using its touch to turn his target to stone.
"Activate Crystal Seal," interrupted the masked woman, revealing a Trap Card bearing the picture of a woman trapped within a prison of purple shards.
Taishi suddenly noticed just how much the temperature had changed. Even though she was almost completely dry, she began to shift uncomfortably, and she began to notice her breath just barely visible.
Taishi's Goblin King charged forward, blindly entering a newly formed cloud of swirling snow. Icicles formed on his limbs and clothing, and his skin changed from healthy green to a rotten looking gray. The fiendish ruler stopped cold in every sense of the phrase, now entirely cocooned in a solid structure of ice, mere inches away from striking the Cyber Valkyrie down.
"Nice effect," Taishi mumbled, obviously impressed in the hologram. "I take it this thing is an equipping Trap that makes my monster unable to attack right?"
"Correct," the woman in blue confirmed.
Taishi pressed further. "So what makes it any different from a Spellbinding Circle?"
"Well for starters, not only then your monster not attack, it can't be sacrificed for any reason."
At least I can still switch modes, Taishi noted, filing the information away, most of these sealer traps don't leave that option. Not for the first time, Taishi found herself wishing that Duel Monsters cards had their effects written directly on them instead of having to search online or through instruction manuals. "Is that all?"
"Well no," Skadi confessed. "Right now, the Crystal Seal's structure is meant to imprison your monster precisely as it is right now. Any change will shatter that delicate design, meaning that if you can get the attack power of your monster to change, the prison will shatter."
Taishi was now very confused. Given the current situation, Skadi obviously knew that she couldn't rely on Goblin King's attack power being stable for long. Still, there was nothing more that she could do this turn, and with that she passed control to Skadi.
"I'm curious," Skadi asked with interest drawing into an empty hand. "Why didn't you decide to seal off any of my monster zones?"
Taishi immediately groaned. She didn't summon Ojama King every duel, but he definitely appeared enough that his effect should be instinctual. The moment Taishi had changed the position of her Goblin King, the timing was gone. The young woman was beginning to miss the far less distracting tabletop duels she was used to. "Just missed the timing I guess," she admitted sheepishly.
"Ok," the confused opponent replied, the word sounding more like a question then a confirmation. "Well then I activate this," the woman in a mask explained, showing a Magic Card showing a Duel Monsters card being swept away by a river. "Treasured Cards of the Flow lets me draw two cards from my deck," she explained, taking her extra draws. Skadi immediately activated another card from her hand with a speed that made Taishi more then a little nervous.
"Next I play Precious Cards from Beyond lets me draw two more cards whenever I tribute summon a level seven or higher monster, like the one I'm about to play."
Blade Skater and Cyber Valkyrie vanished from the field along with the Penguin Sword. What arose was a monster Taishi had never seen, and she got the sinking sensation that few people ever had.
Skadi's monster was obviously a dragon, and a fairly small one compared to the majority of dragons in the game. Taishi just wished she could see it more clearly through large gusts of blue snow. Crystals lined the monster's numerous scales, and rather then the glowing eyes of most dragons, this one possessed clear crystalline orbs. (3200/2500)
The blue snowstorm obscuring the monster didn't frighten Taishi at all. What she feared about the monster was the part that she could see, the monster's stats, and they were the thing that mattered.
"Since you changed the number of Fiends on the field, my Goblin King's attack power changes," the young woman reminded her opponent. The Crystal Seal card shattered into a dazzling shower of ice, causing the prison to follow suit.
Skadi smiled gently, letting out a small laugh. "Miss Chisaioh, I know that. My main motivation for Crystal Seal was to be able to activate this other Trap Card." The facedown card on her field lifted at her command. "With Crystal Seal destroyed, Driving Snow can now destroy one of your cards, DNA Surgery to be precise."
"Wonderful," Taishi remarked dryly, as the key to her strategy was blasted into digital dust.
"Come on, my Dad pays you guys to think, and you can't even open a darn door?"
The boy who had been pondering would never forget that voice. "Isis?"
"Derik?" the girl turned in surprise. Immediately he blushed and took an interest in his shoes. The dousing of the sprinklers definitely had an effect on Derik's neckline.
"I wish we could see each other under better circumstances," Isis admitted, "but we need to get out of here."
"I know," Derik admitted, though he still took a moment to gaze. Isis had taken time to grow her hair out over the years, and though thick, it kept a professional shine. She wore a fancy white blouse with the top buttons casually open, and a knee length black skirt. Derik knew the dress was casual, but he couldn't help but notice his lack of collar.
"Grr," Isis grunted, once again making Derik feel quite ignored. Attempting to bring back conversation, Derik coughed to get her attention.
"Um, so, how's Dueling been for you lately?"
"Now's not the time," she retorted, not interested in being bothered. "Aside from being a fire hazard, we're all miserable. I haven't been this wet since I faced that Water Dragon on the simulator."
"Water," Derik restated, knowing that was the very cause of their problems to begin with. Suddenly a light clicked on.
"Isis," he pleaded, "this place is a gymnasium right?"
"Yeah," the girl answered with interest, "why?"
Derik grinned. "I might have an idea."
"So, getting back to the monster," Taishi prodded, ignoring the cooling systems on her Duel Disk giving her goosebumps, "what exactly is that thing?"
Skadi waited to pull two cards from her deck before answering. "Phantom Dragon Blue-Ice. There are actually four types of Phantom Dragons, this one happens to be the strongest."
"Couldn't you have worked your way up through the theme and saved the powerhouse for last?" Taishi wondered. She was only half serious of course, when a duelist got a chance to use something powerful, they played it.
"Wishful thinking I'm afraid," Skadi chuckled, "but I'll try to use more of them later if you like." Taishi didn't respond as the woman in blue carefully scoped out the field. Goblin King was now a pitiful 1000 points strong and was an easy target, but Ojama King was far more difficult to get rid of.
"Phantom Dragon," Skadi addressed. The large blue monster actually tilted its head in response. "Attack Ojama King with Cerulean Permafrost."
The effect was instantaneous. A flurry of snowflakes colored in every pigment of blue rose in a battering wall. Through the hologram, Taishi observed her Ojama King flash-freezing, right down to a drip running out of his nose. Instead of shattering all at once, the battering storm broke the monster apart like sand, eroding until there was nothing left but a large impression in the holographic ice.
Taishi's mind raced to comprehend how much her dangerously charged Duel Disk would shock her should she be attacked directly.
Skadi smiled, still giving off the feeling of a friendly match, as she set another card into her Duel Disk.
"Before I end my turn, I have a choice to make. My Treasured Cards of the Flow comes with a price. I opened the floodgates, so I can either close them by using one of my cards to block the way, or if I let the flood continue, destroying 3000 of my life points with it."
Taishi expected it to be a hard decision, but was surprised when the choice was announced.
"I choose to keep my last card, and take the damage." Immediately, a geyser erupted from underneath the duelist's feet. Taishi winced a bit, but when all was cleared, began laughing. Someone being blasted from below by a pillar of water wasn't something you saw everyday, even in the dueling world. Taishi paused to make sure that her opponent's life points had indeed dropped to 4000 before doing anything else.
Since the damage obviously ended Skadi's turn, Taishi nervously drew her hand up to three. Well, this is nice, she thought with a hint of sarcasm. "I play Graceful Charity," she announced, revealing the well known image of a stoic angel.
She groaned slightly at her draws, all three of which were the same card.
Sure Taishi, organize the deck before you shuffle so the big combos are more likely to be closer together, she scolded herself. Fine lot of good it did you this time. It's a nice setup, but it doesn't matter if I don't draw an attacker.
Taishi discarded two of her drawn cards before setting the third in defense mode. "I set a monster, and another facedown card," the young woman finished, making sure her cards fit securely on her disk. "And I end my turn at that." Taishi didn't know if it was nerves, or the apparently dropping temperature, but she crossed her arms for warmth, fighting off the first waves of shivers.
Skadi drew up to a hand of two, which was quickly becoming the standard hand size of the duel. Then again every duelist made sure they at least had something to discard for a cost.
The masked woman smiled a bit before moving. "Looks like I'll be able to show you more of those Phantom Dragons after all. This one's called Phantom Dragon White-Snow."
Like the larger Phantom Dragon, the new monster was obscured by a constant dusting of snow flurries. This one, though not small, was definitely outdone in size by its counterpart. The monster had no apparent feet, and bore the same crystalline eyes of its larger relative. (1300/700)
"This is one of my favorite combos," Skadi admitted, "because all of my Phantom Dragons gain effects when multiples are on the field. White-Snow for example prevents you from activating Magic Cards without setting them, and they can't be activated on the same turn you lay them facedown."
Taishi's face twisted with frustration, but not panic. Still, she knew she was in more then a simple bind. A duelist's best chance of turning a match around was always with a Magic Card. Skadi had not only forced her to defend at least one extra turn against a monster with more attack power then a Lava Golem, but she had completely eliminated the element of surprise that Magic Cards usually carried, and Taishi knew that her reliance on Magic was far greater then most.
"Now then," Skadi continued, "I order Phantom Dragon Blue-Ice to attack your defending monster.
Taishi didn't try to understand the logic of the situation; she just activated her face-down trap.
"I counter the attack with Magic Cylinder," she announced, revealing the well know image. Before the pictured tubes even appeared on the field, the holographic card solidified within a prison of unforgiving crystal, and burst uselessly into pieces.
Taishi didn't know what had happened, but she knew the result. The facedown monster was consumed by the blue storm, leaving Skadi clueless as to what she had attacked. She didn't even manage to get a glimpse of the image when Taishi slipped the card into her graveyard.
"If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that your Phantom Dragon is immune to targeting Traps?" Taishi guessed.
"Close, I give you that," Skadi commended. "Blue-Ice is immune to all targeting effects actually, but only if there's another Phantom Dragon on the field."
"Any other effects you care to share with me?" Taishi pressed, hopping her opponent would be generous.
Skadi thought for a moment. "The only other one that would affect the game play at the moment is that you can only attack it when I have something in my Magic and Trap zone."
"Lovely," Taishi slumped. Her situation seemed to only be getting worse with each passing turn.
Skadi nodded. "I didn't attack your Goblin because I didn't know exactly what I was attacking, and it proved a good thing too, but luckily I still have a monster that can destroy it. Phantom Dragon, attack with Phantasm Drift."
Taishi watched as another one of her monsters was destroyed, this one after being buried alive in a contained snow pile. She looked at her life point counter dipping to 7300 and braced herself for another shock. This one still caused pain in her arm, but due to the cold, and/or the fact it was less damage it didn't seem so severe. She regretted the loss, but knew that is switching her King to defense, her opponent might not have attacked. It was a good lure to trigger Magic Cylinder, but unfortunately, Skadi had gotten the drop on her.
Skadi ended her turn, and Taishi fought back the chattering of her teeth as she drew for her turn. Her eyes widened considerably at her draw.
"As much as I hate the circumstances, I have to admit you're a good player."
Skadi grinned in thanks. "I wouldn't be here if I wasn't. I know what you mean; I feel the same way about Jinzo. It's a pain to go up against, but you can't help but like it."
Kind of makes me wish I had one, Taishi growled. Regaining her composure, the young woman smiled brightly. "Still, I've just drawn a way to defeat your Phantom Dragon even without Magic Cards."
Skadi raised an eyebrow in curiosity. "Well, let's see it then."
"All right," Taishi granted excited. "How's this for the unexpected, King of the Skull Servants in attack mode."
At first there was only a dark shroud enveloping a pile of dragon bones and scraps of purple cloth. From under the pile, a skeletal hand rose to take a stand. Whereas a regular Skull Servant was about the size of a child, this one stood eye to eye socket with a tall man. It also held none of the lack of confidence of its counterpart, and stood on his pile with authority, surrounded by an aura of utter black. (4000/0)
Skadi was familiar with the monster, and though questions didn't help the circumstances, she felt compelled to ask anyway. "Ok, I can assume that you discarded some monsters with Graceful Charity, but where did the others come from?"
"Well," Taishi answered, "I had a King of the Skull Servants defending at the beginning of the game, since I couldn't use it quite yet. That one was wiped out by Torrential Tribute." Skadi nodded in understanding. "I sent two regular Skull Servants to the Graveyard with Graceful Charity, and you just attacked a third with your Dragon."
"Huh," Skadi replied with amusement, now that she understood the series of events. At a time like this, it was pretty much all she could say.
Taishi scanned the field, her eyes checking the presence of Skadi's hidden card. It wasn't as if she had a choice if she wanted to get the use of her Magic Cards back.
"Since I can only attack Blue-Ice, I'll have to do that this turn." Her King chuckled in anticipation, rubbing his boney hands together with an irritating scraping noise.
"Activate Frozen Soul," Skadi countered, making sure to activate the card before her opponent ever declared an attack. "Since you have more then 2000 life points more then me, your entire Battle Phase is skipped." Taishi fell back, protecting herself as best as she was able, as a chilling spectral skull rose from Skadi's Duel Disk, and passed through her entire area. The sharp blast of the cooling system from her own duel disk made her even more uncomfortable.
This girl's just one combination after another, Taishi realized. The Phantom Dragons, Crystal Seal and Driving Snow, she even took damage from that Treasured Cards of the Flow just to be able to use that trap when the time came. I'll bet that's why she didn't attack Goblin King with that dragon either.
The young duelist was feeling more and more out of her league with each passing turn. Her opponent even had the elements in the room on her side. Without the distraction of the game, Taishi went into her first true bit of shivers, her teeth chattering uncontrollably as she wrapped her arms around her all the harder.
Skadi continued with her turn, apparently not noticing Taishi's predicament, though it was impossible for the shivering girl to tell if it was on purpose or not.
Once again drawing to two, the woman in blue activated a Magic Card, thankful that she herself was not in Taishi's predicament.
"I play Different Dimension Capsule," she explained, as a strange sarcophagus bearing a clock shimmered into view in front of her.
This was a card Taishi as familiar with; as it had been used against her on several occasions. She had even tried using it herself at one point, but found the searcher took too long for it to make a difference in her game.
Skadi pulled a card out of her deck, and carefully placed it in a side pocket of her dress, making sure to keep the back to Taishi at all times.
For the first time in the duel, Skadi was the one forced into defending, which seemed ridiculous, as one turn earlier her current field seemed incredibly formidable. Keeping her pleasant smile, that Taishi easily recognized as forced.
"I'll get my card back in two turns," she stated, making Taishi wonder if it meant to explain the card, or reassure herself. The next move was obviously difficult for Skadi, as she moved the posture of her two dragons. "Phantom Dragon Blue-Ice and Phantom Dragon White-Snow are both changed to defense position," she confirmed with a hint of pain, knowing that her very good position wouldn't last. "I end my turn at that."
"Well this should be a simple turn," Taishi remarked, drawing her card for the turn. "I'll just have my King attack your Blue-Ice, and call it a move." Taishi looked over to see her monster already prepared for battle. "Skeletal Tyranny."
Black and purple flames jetted from the monster's eye sockets with more force or accuracy then any human invention had yet achieved. The monster didn't burst into triangles as much as it shredded, becoming almost indistinguishable from the icy storm clouds that covered it. Skadi couldn't help but wince.
True to her word, Taishi ended her turn, leaving Skadi to draw for herself. Groaning, the woman thought about just how much fun it would have been to have drawn her Cold Wave.
"I set one monster in defense mode," the duelist in blue declared, causing the brown back of a holographic card to fade into view before her, "and unfortunately, that's all I can do."
Taishi drew up to three cards, but remained ever vigilant for an approaching comeback. Wishing she had drawn this particular monster sooner, the young woman put her next attacker onto her disk.
"I summon Goblin King in attack mode," she decreed. The small fiendish ruler was far less powerful then her last one, but its 1000 attack points were still enough to take down Phantom Dragon White-Snow.
"Goblin King and King of the Skull Servants," Taichi commanded, "attack her two defending monsters now!"
The green skinned fiend raced across the field with a speed quite impressive for a monster wearing such a bulky robe. The goblin raced into the billowing snow cloud, waving an intimidating glowing red thumb. The storm hid the actual attack from view, but Taishi could see the cloud of snowflakes drop to the ground as sand. The young woman regretted not being able to see the dragon in statue form. She never got a chance. As soon as the Phantom Dragon made a satisfactory statue, Goblin King promptly smashed its head apart.
King of the Skull Servants spat the same darkest blaze from its eye sockets. The hidden defender was revealed as an alien looking creature wearing a set of blue armor covered in domes. (1300/1200)
"Aww," Taishi whined slightly disappointed. "I'm kind of fond of Ice Knight. Anyway, there's nothing else I'm going to do, so you can move."
And I finally get a chance to summon this thing, Skadi thought as she looked with annoyance at a card that had been in her hand for far too long.
Skadi drew her next card astonished. This was turning into an even better combo then she had hoped for, especially given what turn it was.
"Since it's my second Standby Phase, I get the card back that I had searched for with Different Dimension Capsule," Skadi reveled.
Taishi had actually forgotten she had used it, but braced herself for something she was not going to find pleasant.
"I take it you're going to play it now?" Taishi asked, her eyes narrowing at the fact that her breath was in clear view. Taishi's mouth was beginning to dry up, and every breath was becoming more uncomfortable.
"Of course," Skadi responded politely, as if it was the first thing a person learned on the first day of school. "It's a Magic Card, Icicle Sacrifice."
"Haven't heard of that one," Taishi confessed, "but it sounds like a summoning spell to me."
"In a way," Skadi relented, as the card showing a Maoi Statue carved in ice rising from the middle of a glacier materialized in holographic form. "As powerful as the card is, few use it, because the price shuts down one of my monster zones for the remainder of the duel, with no way for me to get it back."
True to Skadi's word, a section of the floor in front of her burst into a growth of sharp ice crystals. Taishi seriously doubted that any monster would even want to stand there if they could. "The second effect," Skadi continued, gesturing to a new monster on her field, the frigid Maoi featured on the card itself, (0/0) "summons an Icicle Token to my field."
"Sounds expensive for a piece of tribute bait to me," Taishi told her, though she had to admit, it was an easy summoning device.
"I agree," Skadi confessed, surprising Taishi slightly, "but what makes this token worthwhile is that when summoning a monster it qualifies as two sacrifices instead of one."
"Kaiser Seahorse for any attribute in spell form," Taishi slumped. "That card just got a bit more balanced."
Skadi took another of the two cards in her hand, and immediately traded in her token, revealing a sleek dragon made of shimmering diamond crystal, complete with sharp horns and golden highlights. (2100/2800) "Hyozanryu may have been summoned using one tribute," Skadi addressed, "but he was still tribute summoned, and he still normally requires two. Therefore, I still get to draw two cards due to my Precious Cards from Beyond."
"That's why you went through the trouble with the Capsule?" Taishi realized. "Just for some extra draws to get you back in the lead?"
"That was the original intension yes," Skadi admitted slightly sheepishly, drawing her hand up to three. "But as luck would have it, I just drew a combo that makes the deal even better." The duelist in blue spun a Magic Card in her fingers, a very familiar one that Taishi recognized as another of her former cards. It bore the picture of a pitiful mutating humanoid. "I sacrifice Hyozanryu to activate Metamorphosis."
"Seven stars," Taishi franticly studied. "What Fusion monster has seven stars?" Speedily she made a mental note of what had been played so far throughout the duel. Remembering one of the monsters Skadi had used earlier, Taishi immediately knew what she was most likely to be facing. The discovery did not help her situation.
Chips of clear crystal began to chip away, eroding down to a crystal statue of a tall woman with flowing red blue hair, and a tight red and purple costume. The skater moved into a graceful glide, and then a dazzling spin, entrancing to Taishi's eyes before she struck a dominating pose. (4200/800)
Taishi cursed her luck. Even her king of the Skull Servants was 200 points too weak to take down a Cyber Blader as long as she possessed two monsters.
"Cyber Blader," The masked woman commanded with a point, "attack King of the Skull Servants with Whirlwind Rage!"
The ice performer took off with a speed seeming more like a hockey player then a figure skater. The skater glided around the edge of the arena, building up speed, as well as anticipation for the doomed skeleton.
Taishi watched as she built up a breakneck pace, her skates threatening to glide along the walls rather then the floor. The attack came without warning. Cyber Blader went into a spin, performing a dazzling triple loop, causing the impact of her skates to give off shockwaves of wind and frigid energy. The momentum carried into a second triple loop, the next pulse shattering Taishi's undead king within a tornado of unleashed anger.
The skater continues to glide, circling the floor like a shark, seemingly satisfied for the moment. She stopped in front of her summoned, twitching with anticipation and a gleam of malice in her eye.
Taishi felt the cold numbing her senses. It was getting more and more difficult to concentrate. The young woman forced herself to regroup, noting that her life points were now down to 7100, and Cyber Blader's attack power had halved. Still, Taishi knew that power alone wasn't going to beat the new foe. Not when Taishi only had a single monster in play.
Taishi looked on, and found a new reason to battle in the frigid room. Her opponent, who had seemed so kind, could not now be unaware of her situation. The rubber boots and gloved were probably comfortable to her, and Taishi doubted that the dress was as chilly as it looked. In fact… To Taishi it all worked out too well. The blue dress, the mask, the dropping temperature, and the icy deck theme all seemed too much to be coincidence.
Taishi didn't know why she was a target, but she knew that she was part of something more elaborate then she had suspected. The only way out seemed to be to win. Besides, Taishi thought to herself, nothing bad ever happened to anyone just because they lost a game of Duel Monsters.
Her mind froze as she thought of Peter, now knowing a piece of what he had gone through firsthand. Knowing he had almost been thrown over some kind of brink. Taishi knew winning would probably not solve all of her problems, but she knew it would be a damn good place to start.
"My move," she began, taking stock of her newest resource, "and I activate the Magic Card, Pot of Avarice." Taishi quickly selected the prospects from her Graveyard. "I choose to reshuffle King of the Swamp, Two King of the Skull Servants, one Skull Servant, and Goblin King."
Taishi bit back the bitter taste in her mouth as she reshuffled her deck. At this point, making a deck even thicker was probably not the best of ideas, especially since it meant weakening whatever future King of the Skull Servants she drew. Nonetheless, the took her two draws without complaint. That didn't hold true, however, when she found out what they were.
Drat, she thought, after sifting through a few other words of choice. The worst part about this deck is that there are so many combos it's hard to draw all the parts of one at once. Come to think of it, I'm amazed I've gotten this far.
"I set one card facedown," Taishi revealed with a sigh as the hologram faded into view, "and I switch Goblin King to defense mode. Go," she finished with a wave.
Skadi picked up her next card with delight. "Now I summon…"
"Something that had better be a Ritual," Taishi interrupted. "I activate Ojama Trio, summoning three Ojama Tokens to your field, and since they're taking up the only three slots left and you can't tribute them for monsters, you're pretty much locked out. Of course," Taishi smiled a little cheekily, ignoring the thin liquid dripping from her nose, "if you want to sacrifice your Cyber Blader feel free."
"Ach," Skadi challenged in disgust, apparently having forgotten her friendly role. Getting herself under control, she looked in annoyance at the new monsters she had been given.
The Green Token began building a miniature snowman from the holographic ice shavings left by Cyber Blader. The Black Token drew out a fishing pole, and began ice fishing with, naturally, ice cubes as bait. The Yellow Token apparently didn't get the point, and was currently set up on a lounge chair with a sun catcher and a pair of dark glasses. Taishi giggled despite herself. She had always wondered what this card would do as a hologram.
"Cyber Blader can still attack," Skadi defended desperately, "Whirlwind Rage!"
Skadi's fury seemed to have been passes on to Cyber Blader, as once more her elegant spins showed no mercy in shredding Taishi's defenseless Goblin King.
"And I end my turn with a card facedown," she concluded. "Go."
Taishi was feeling pretty good about herself at this point. She had a lock almost as effective as a Dark Door. Still, she knew it wouldn't hold up for long. The young woman glanced at her deck, asking it a favor as she pulled the card from her slot. As it sometimes happened when a duelist is in trouble, her draw was a good one, especially considering the rest of her hand.
"I activate Swords of Revealing Light!" she cried triumphant, thankful that as far as rarer cards went, this one wasn't as tough to find as others, and though was a bit snug on her price range, she managed to grab the last one left after her first store tournament win.
Five shining swords rained down from the ceiling. The first embedded itself in the sharp crystal taking up a monster zone, recreating an image of Excalibur. The other four arranged themselves in a line, the spaces too narrow for Cyber Blader to skate though. Each of the freeloading Ojama Tokens donned a pair of sunglasses, and began to observe with fascination the aurora effect the shining blades were creating when combined with the ice.
Taishi watched Skadi's reaction carefully, becoming quite pleased as she saw then tension rise, even behind her mask. "My turn's over," Taishi concluded, hoping that whatever Skadi drew wouldn't be able to wipe out her wall. Given what she had been playing so far, there was no doubt in her mind that a Mobius the Frost Monarch was lurking in that deck somewhere.
The woman in blue drew her hand up to a rather large five cards, but with no monster zones, she really didn't have any convenient way of getting rid of them. Reluctantly, Skadi put her plan into action. "I sacrifice my Cyber Blader in order to summon Big-Tusked Mammoth to the field in attack mode."
With no monsters, Cyber Blader couldn't draw out its true strength anyway. The elegant dancer spun in place, whipping up a whirlwind curtain that fell to reveal a much more primitive beast. The large mastodon seemed more demonic in some ways then beast, with large violet fur, and fierce red eyes. The large tusks, giving the beast its name, looked nothing like the smooth ivory seen on modern elephants. To Taishi, they looked more like some a couple of spinal columns ripped from some poor creatures and attached to the monster's face. Taishi's eyes narrowed; she didn't feel like dwelling on that unpleasant thought. (2000/1000)
Skadi let herself relax in satisfaction, giving a small smirk to herself. "That should take care of whatever you're trying to stall for. At least until I come up with a plan."
Taishi bitterly noted that the first turn on her Swords had passed as she inspected the rest of her hand.
I can't depend on my Mokey Mokey combo now, she scowled with a mental curse. I can't attack with anything on the turn I summon it. That means even if I last long enough to attack with Mokey Mokey King, I can't attack with the pieces to use the Smackdown.
Taishi reassessed the situation; trying not to focus all of his concentration on a combo she didn't even have all the pieces too yet. If a duelist set up too far in advance, they sometimes missed other complicated combinations that could help them, and right now, Taishi felt she had to be open minded.
"I set one monster in defense mode," she sighed, as the card shimmered into view. It took a moment for her to even fit it into the slot; her hands were shaking so badly from the cold. In frustration, she held the rest of her cards gently between her lips, being careful not to get them too wet. Taishi then slipped her hands under her arms for warmth, and nodded to her opponent to take her own turn.
Skadi drew again, growing even more frustrated at her situation with each turn. The masked woman glared at the tokens littering her field, shifting her gaze to the paralyzing Swords in her way. The game had reached a stalemate with nothing to do but wait. "I pass, there's nothing I can do."
Taishi drew nervously, fighting the shivers back again. She knew that the game had gone on for far too long, and she needed a way for it to end in her favor and fast.
"I discard King of the Swamp," she decreed, showing her newest card from her hand, "and use it again to move a Polymerization card from my deck to my hand."
Skadi said nothing, but looked affectionately at the card she still had facedown in play.
Taishi didn't notice, as she searched her deck, and quickly activated her newest acquisition. "I use Polymerization to fuse King of the Swamp, and two Mokey Mokeys in my hand to summon Mokey Mokey King."
Taishi's set defender, a face and arms formed of green mud, merged with two small square fairies, forming a monster that looked pretty much similar to the original Mokey Mokey, only about three hundred times its size. (300/100)
"The world's largest Chicklet with wings," Skadi mocked. "I know this combo, and I'm not about to let you pull it off. Reveal Trap Card, Cold Fusion!"
"I don't like the sound of that," Taishi gulped, expecting something dangerous and radioactive.
The trap card's picture looked identical to Polymerization, except the background colors were an icy blue. The monster silhouettes were also encased in a layer of thick ice. From the trap card, burst a single wave of cryonic energy, causing the squishy monarch to crack and burst like pretty much any matter would under such a drastic temperature change. Most of the ice vanished, but two large chunks stayed in place. Two large blocks encasing the two small petite forms of Mokey Mokey. (300/100 x2)
Taishi glared, looking for an explanation. Skadi granted her request before she had to put it into words.
"Cold Fusion is a trap card that destroys one of your Fusion Monsters and resurrects any components listed on the card. Unlike De-Fusion however, the summoned monsters are revived under the influence of Ice Counters preventing them from changing their position on the field. I know the potential of Mokey Mokey Smackdown, and I want no part of it. You can't even move your creampuffs out of defensive mode."
At least I still have defenders, Taishi pleaded, nearing hopelessness. Her saving grace was the fact that her Swords would last another turn, and even then, she still had defenders.
Skadi drew her hand up to six, and was now extremely tired of being locked out. Her mouth, just under her mask gleamed. "I activate the Field Magic Card, Umiiruka."
As if the arena wasn't already uncomfortable enough, suddenly the floor was covered in a hologram depicting a churning ocean, alive with ice flows of various sizes. Taishi and her opponent were perched on the largest spires of the few stable icebergs. The young woman carefully stepped out a bit to make sure that the floor was still in existence, and was met with the reassuring stability of solid ground. The illusion was quite unusual, as the walls and ceiling of the room remained unchanged.
Taishi gulped. Skadi had been stuck with EARTH monsters; therefore she had little reason to activate such a field. She was obviously planning to use a WATER monster to go on the offensive, and with her field locked the way it was, there was little doubt in Taishi's mind that her opponent had drawn what she had feared.
"Now I sacrifice Big-Tusked Mammoth," Skadi decreed as she switched cards, "in order to summon Mobius the Frost Monarch."
One of the most well known monsters in the game awakened from a whirlwind of terrible ice. Spires of crystallized water rose from his every step. His armor was all blue and a silvery gray. His helmet concealed his face behind a metal beard, showing only eyes as cold as the Monarch's territory. (2900/600) In a blink, several crystal daggers shot from beneath the monster's billowing cape, obliterating the Swords of Revealing Light, as well as Skadi's Precious Card from Beyond, which had been doing nothing but taking up space for most of the duel.
"I also set a card facedown," Skadi continued, filling the newly vacated space. "Mobius, attack one of the frozen fairies with Ice Lance." She then paused for a moment. "You know, I wish they would have come up with a batter name."
Whatever the attack was named, it certainly was effective. Taishi couldn't tell whether the sparkles that remained were ice or shards of Mokey Mokey. Mobius trashed the entire structure with one fierce strike from his frozen javelin.
And me with no monsters, Taishi whined, looking at her last two cards. Her stalling with the Swords had gotten her a full hand with little to use, and now she had to defend a turn earlier then expected.
Bravely, she took a card from the top of her deck, closing her eyes tight for a few seconds before even daring to take a peak, before gasping. "I've won," she stammered in shock.
"What?" Skadi asked, her tone bitter and mocking.
Taishi quickly checked her math again, coming to the same conclusion, and she looked up proudly. "You played a good game, but I just drew what I need to beat you," Taishi confirmed confidently."
"Let's see it then," Skadi replied sweetly, like a mother playing along with a child's wild story.
"First," Taishi cried in triumph, "I activate Premature Burial, reviving Ojama King from the Graveyard."
Skadi's eyes quickly widened. She knew what was coming next, and she had nothing to stop it.
Taishi's life points lowered to 6300, surprising the girl that the match had gone on for so long with her taking so little damage. The crimson circle soon had the large fat ruler sitting on it, none the worse for wear. (0/3000)
"I was kind of hoping I wouldn't have to use this for defense," Taishi stated, relieved. "Now I play Ojamandala, sacrificing another thousand points to revive my three Ojamas from the Graveyard as well."
Taishi was sure that the intricate painting would be involved, but her monsters showed that they were obviously too impatient to wait for an invitation. They huddles around their King, hugging whatever fat portion of the white ruler that they could get their stubby arms around. (0/1000 x3)
Even as Taishi's life points lowered again to 5300, Skadi now knew that this was going to hurt.
"Now," the young woan concluded, holding up the very card that Skadi was expecting, "I activate Ojamuscle, destroying every Ojama on the field, save for my King, and raising his attack power to six-thousand points!"
Ojama King inhaled the six small monsters like vitamin tablets, consuming them with an audible crunch. Apparently the taste was to his liking, as his physique grew in size, becoming more defined, and most surprising of all, the King gained an extra pair of arms.
"Isis, I am so glad that you're the one here with authority," Derik grinned. Isis seemed less impressed.
Everyone in the room was precariously balanced on a large group of rubber mats used for stretching, laid out in several pathways leading to the doors. The quarters were tight, but not altogether uncomfortable. Many of the duelists had smashed apart the paneling on their Duel Disks, and were busy praying that this would work.
"I just had the idea, but you got everyone to cooperate."
"With the promise of a new disk," she sighed. The machinery on her arm was one of the few still complete.
"Look," Derik reasoned, "this should work. The glue is activated by water, if we can separate the molecules of the water, there will be nothing holding it together."
Isis sighed, not having any batter ideas. "Alright," she told one of the staff next to her. "Monitor everyone for safety, and tell them to be careful, give the word."
Derik carefully held the wires on his own disk, waiting to run them down the retractable wall that most of the staff seemed so interested in.
Skadi paled a bit as her life points dropped to 3100 with the Ojama Tokens' destruction. Between her Mobius at 2900 attack power, and Taishi's Ojama King now at 6000, the numbers were in perfect sync to defeat her in one blow.
"Is there anything that you would like to say?" Taishi asked a bit smugly.
"Chain," Skadi responded, more for herself then as an answer, "Windstorm of Etaqua."
Oh come on! Taishi grit her teeth, I almost had her!
Whatever the circumstances, a chilling breeze sent the super sized King retreating into defense mode. Taishi's mood changed to livid as she noticed the monster's teeth chattering, and a long line running from his nose.
"You think I like this any better!" Taishi yelled in frustration, forgetting for a moment that the monster could not respond.
"Augh!" she threw her empty hands up in frustration. "Go!"
"Glad to," Skadi replied delighted, "and thank you for freeing my Monster Zones again."
Taishi's eyes narrowed. She had given up her best advantage, but she could hardly blame herself. She would have won if not for that trap at the last second.
Skadi looked happily at her hand of four, choosing the monster she wanted.
"I summon the Cold Enchanter in attack mode," she decided finally, setting the card onto her disk.
Taishi couldn't quite work out whether the monster was a Spellcaster or a Warrior. She wore a trench coat-like uniform and knee high boots. Her outfit was accented with crystal bands, even having a helmet of them. She carried a rod bearing a frozen motif, but it was impossible to tell if it was a wand or a fighting staff. (2400/800)
"A member of the nineteen-hundred club no doubt," Taishi observed harshly.
"More like Breaker," Skadi returned. "The Field is obviously giving her a boost, but she also gains three hundred attack power for each Ice Counter on the field."
Taishi glared over to her frozen Mokey Mokey as if it had betrayed her.
"She also can create an Ice Counter if I discard a card from my hand," Skadi revealed with delight. "but why pay the cost when I can create one for free. By sacrificing two WATER monsters, I can Special Summon this monster from my hand. Phantom Dragon Blue-Ice may be my most powerful monster, but this one is my favorite to use. I summon, Ice Master!"
Taishi had never seen a monster so elegant as this, and actually felt herself beginning to blush at what Mobius and Cold Enchanter had given way to.
The monster was tall, and decked out in icy blue and white, a startling contrast to his long flowing blond hair. His bearing screamed nobility, chivalry, and unquestioned command. A blue mask covered the lower portion of his face, but his eyes twinkled with wisdom. For a fleeting moment, Taishi found herself gazing at an angel. (3000/1500)
Skadi too was lost in the appearance of her monster, a ray of warmth in the otherwise frigid room. She sighed for a moment, lost in what she had brought forth.
"Shame really," the woman thought to herself. "I always hate having to do this."
"Do what?" Taishi asked, though at this point it wasn't clear that she would pay full attention to an answer.
"Well, you see," Skadi started, stumbling a bit with the words, "Ice Master can put an Ice Counter on any card once per turn. I'm choosing to place one on your Ojama King."
"OK," Taishi mumbled still in awe. A small sparkle drifted delicately from the monster's scepter, a staff of ice as tall as himself, bearing a large four pointed snowflake. Ojama King stuck out his tongue to catch it, only to have the organ frozen, and quickly drop to the floor. The large, white monster then proceeded to try and maneuver about, but had very little luck.
"And if I have to do this," Skadi continued, "I activate Cold Wave, preventing both of us from using any Magic or Trap Cards until my next turn."
"Do what?" Taishi inquired again, quickly snapping back to her senses. Skadi was obviously preparing for something, and she needed to be using her full attention to figure out what.
"Unfortunately, my Ice Master's effect requires that he be tributed, but in exchange all cards with Ice Counters are destroyed." Skadi's demeanor took a dangerous shift.
"Really?" Taishi tried to verify, looking onto Ice Master as his eyes narrowed into a glare.
The monster held his staff at arm's length, and began to rotate; causing instant and massive effects to his ever act. What had once been an angel to Taishi now had the personality of a beast, reaping destruction with a maelstrom of sheer cold. The whirling magician caught the duelist's gaze whenever he was facing her direction, his eyes still icy blue, but giving off the emotional tone of blood red carnage. The blizzard rose fiercer, battering the entire field until there was nothing but silvery dust in every direction. It may have been Taishi's imagination, but she could swear she heard the monster's laugh, and it bore the same voice as those acquainted with her mother.
For Taishi, it was not just her body that ran cold anymore. Memories long buried were flooding back, her own, as well as Peter's. The physical and emotional elements of her game began to shut her down, even as the unforgiving frozen storm began to cease. It was becoming too much for her system to handle, and her emotional systems began to fail, needing peace before returning to the real world. It happens at some point in every duel that someone's spirit begins to fail, sometimes before it even begins. It's when a duelist just doesn't want to play anymore, and only sticks out the game for the sake of finishing it. Taishi had finally broken.
"I end my turn," Skadi finished, leaving Taishi to numbly look up from her field.
The girl drew her card, not really paying attention. "I set one monster in defense mode," she declared, "and end my turn."
"So be it," Skadi declared as she drew. "I activate Coins from Heaven, meaning we each draw up to six cards."
Taishi drew her hand up to six, knowing that her drams of getting into a school were at a close, even with one of each Ojama, her last Polymerization, De-Fusion, and Ojama Delta Hurricaine now in her hand.
Skadi's eyes flickered, as she eyed her card, one that would seal her victory for certain. "I now activate one of the most devastating Magic Cards in the entire game, Giant Flood!"
"Impossible!" Duke yelled, causing Peter's gaze to jump from his screen.
"Yeah I know," Joey replied, his voice full of frustration. "That's the one Noah used on you, wasn't it Kaiba?"
Kaiba didn't answer, as Mai looked at the hologram take form.
"Four cards were printed by Pegasus designed as the ultimate weapons against the God Cards themselves," Duke explained. "Each was a Magic Card with a devastating effect, and little to no drawback. None of them were ever released to the public, how did this duelist get one?"
"Then how was Noah able to use one?" Joey accused.
"Because Noah's card database was created by hacking into the Industrial Illusions Mainframe," Kaiba explained. "It was a digital file, but to have a physical copy…"
"Means an inside job," Duke finished. "Not that there's never been leaks. Raigeki is the worst kept secret Industrial Illusions has ever had, and there have been fake copies around for years. They stopped when I started adding new code into the printed cards. We have the monopoly on the technology, so if a card is fake the Duel Disk's won't register it without exception."
Kaiba seemed on the verge of tears, though he kept his face turned from everyone. "They hacked into my computer, controlled my systems, and can steal some of the most secure cards on the planet." Kaiba had no doubt that this new force could ruin him and not think twice. And to think, it had all happened under his very nose. Since when did the hunter become the hunted?
Peter looked back to his screen just in time to see two words fill the entire square of light; GAME OVER.
Taishi had been warned about how tough a holographic duel could be, but this was nothing like she had prepared for. It was like an ironic series of bookends. Her first real offensive move had been a tidal wave. Now it was Skadi's turn to do the same.
The metal walls, untouched by Skadi's Field Card, flickered for a moment, melting into a standing wall of ocean water. Taishi barely had time to comprehend what she was seeing before the walls collapsed, causing the enhancers in the Duel Disk on her arm to strike the young woman's system with a new ferocity.
Were her eyes open, Taishi would see a maelstrom sucking up the oceanic barrage, taking with it several of her monsters in card form. The three Ojama monsters from her hand, as well as her third Mokey Mokey, the monster she had chosen as a defense.
From Skadi's hand vanished images of Frostosaurus, Etoile Cyber, Phantom Dragon Red- Mirror, and Phantom Dragon Yellow-Fort, though she didn't seem set back by the loss.
Skadi began to explain the effects of her card, but noticed that it wouldn't really matter. Her opponent wasn't really interested. She could change that.
"I then activate, Call of the Haunted," Skadi declared, revealing the trap card that was quite out of theme, but nevertheless useful, "and use it to summon a monster sent to the graveyard by my Giant Flood itself, Frostosaurus."
The three tombstones rose, and then the eerie smoke they emitted froze in midair. The beast that rose spread a layer of frozen condensation over every surface of the room, even freezing the holographic ocean created by Umiiruka. At one point the large sauropod may have been scales and blood. What appeared was a dinosaur seemingly composed of the very cold that theoretically wiped out it and its kin. (3100/1300)
"And now," Skadi triumphed, raising her final card, "I use Megamorph to double Frososaurus's attack power, enough to wipe you out in a single blow."
"Wait, please!" Taishi begged, knowing that in her disk's current position, this type of overkill would be dangerous, possibly even lethal as far as she knew. "It's overkill, I can surrender, you don't know what you're doing!" The poor girl was a shivering scared wreck; tears of fear making her seem even more pitiful.
"I'm sorry," Skadi replied with a genuine twinge of regret, "But that doesn't mean I won't win right here, Frososaurus…"
Taishi felt as if she was looking into doom itself.
The attack had a power of 5700. Frigid bursts blasted from every surface of the monster, even as it let out a roar that Taishi hoped wouldn't be the last sound she ever heard.
She couldn't even scream as the entire store of her Duel Disk's battery discharged in a single burst, flooding her damp body with unrestrained electricity. Her vision and thoughts blurred as she fell backwards onto the cold floor, unable to pad her own fall. There wasn't even enough charge left in the pack to register her life point counter at a single horrible number; zero.
"Got it," Derik breathed in triumph, as the muscle of several people finally caused the wall to slide. The feeling of triumph was short lived however.
"Oh my God," he whispered, running up to the woman lying on the floor. He tried to rouse her for a moment before turning her head to feel for breathing. Feeling nothing, he gave her two quick breaths before checking her pulse. His heart began to race as he felt none. Quickly, Derik began a series of fifteen quick compressions, wincing as he heard the sound of broken ribs.
Isis quickly ordered staff to form a circle before asking the nearest person with a cell phone to call for help.
Though she didn't know the girl whom Derik was treating, she found herself impressed at his calmness in an unexpected situation. She caught herself staring a little longer then was appropriate.
No one noticed a woman in blue sneak out by pushing on the sliding wall on the other side of the room, one that hadn't been sealed all along.
Kaiba looked about to shatter the window himself, when the intercom light suddenly turned on. With ferocity of one desperate, he picked it up.
"There had better be…"
"Kaiba, I am told that someone as smart as you would know that I'm holding all of the cards, so to speak. You should have figured that part out."
"Whoever did this is in the building," Maikeru realized, seeing Kaiba's change in tone.
Kaiba cleared his throat. He didn't know exactly what this party could do, and he wasn't going to be the one to test anything. "Who are you?"
"I go by the codename Zeus, I'm sure it's a name you will remember."
"I remember," Kaiba growled. "You Skadi and Ra were the highest paid dueling assassins in history, more often then not your fee was higher then the tournament winnings."
"Paid by yourself to keep us from entering if I'm not mistaken," the voice chuckled. "Don't try anything, if we can do this, you know we already have our fingers in every single Kaibacorp file imaginable, and all of that data can be erased with a button."
"So it's blackmail," Kaiba reasoned. "Why would the most famous trio of Dueling Assasins in the world, with cards that powerful want to take over my company?"
"We don't," was the reply, "but our employer apparently does."
"Still an attack dog," Kaiba spat, "but what can you do to make me believe you're not bluffing. I get threats like this everyday."
"You'll get your proof when you return," the voice answered. Duke didn't like this one bit. They didn't even have a motive, as these three were only being told what to do.
"You have a chance to win your company back. Just have Isis report back here tomorrow at the same time, without alerting the authorities, and she can duel me personally for everything. Oh, and one more thing, the safety systems disabled."
Kaiba seethed. "Give me one good reason to put her in harms way like that? You're insane if you think…"
"That you're going to throw away the last six years of your life and more. We were given authority to destroy far more then company records. You've seen that already."
Kaiba's breath caught in his throat. "I can accept that."
The voice mused for a second. "Then I advise you to stay awake, Seto Kaiba" Zeus finished, "because by morning, you will have lost something very dear indeed."
Before anyone could question the intercom further, the red light faded to black. So, in away, did their hopes.
I never want to write a duel with an Ice deck again. Coming up, Kaiba finds out what Zeus's mysterious threat means. More on the trio's history is revealed. Derik and Isis's new relationship will unfold, and Peter lets the consequences of Taishi's devastating loss sink in. Next time: Coping with Shock. It's going to get worse, before it gets better.