Chapter I: To Lose With Honor

Welcome, everyone, to another tale tied into the Yugi-verse that 15animefreak and I have woven. In "A Guy's Worst Nightmare," Zane Truesdale is back at Duel Academy, but why is he there? Perhaps it's time to tell that tale. It is a story of an alternate choice, where a young man chose not to follow the path of power, but the path that questioning oneself leads you to. And the first question he asks himself is, "Is it better to win by any means necessary or to lose with honor?"And so, I open "The Path to Redemption." Enjoy!

Author's note: This story starts toward the end of Episode 65, "No Pain, No Game" in the dub. That episode was where Hell Kaiser made his appearance in Zane's psyche.

Disclaimer: Peach Wookiee DOESN'T own the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise. She does love dabbling in alternate timelines.

I'm going to lose…Zane Brian Truesdale was used to losing. He had had a great run in the Pro Leagues as an undefeated duelist. Undefeated, that is, until eleven duels ago when Aster Phoenix had beaten him. And since that duel, he had lost ten duels in a row. His manager had abandoned him and his sponsors had as well. And then a dark figure named Shroud had offered to manage Zane's career and resurrect his dueling to its former glory and then some. What the dark-haired gray-eyed duelist hadn't expected was what he was doing now. Zane was in an underground duel wearing shock collars and was trapped in a steel cage with his opponent.

"You are going to lose, Zane, and when I'm done with you, you will not be able to stand," the large man, Mad Dog, said in a voice that belied his size. He sounded for all the world like a child, but the fallen pro-duelist and former Duel Academy student knew that this man was mad and dangerous. Zane could also sense his new manager behind him, a force of sheer malevolence, grinning like Satan.

"You can win, Zane, but you have to accept what you have learned here, that dueling is all about power and no one matters but you!" the manager said, sounding like a corrupt southern sheriff. "You want to win!"

Of course I want to win, Zane thought, and then, something hit him with the force of a hurricane. But do I want to win this way? He looked at his opponent, back at his manager and at the crowd of people wearing masks, concealing their identities because they didn't want to get caught being here. What have I become? What will I become if I choose this life, this way? What could I do? "No…not this way…Mad Dog…you've probably heard this from opponents when they're shrieking in pain, but you won't hear it from me in that way. I surrender. I may lose this duel, but I'd rather lose than win and lose my soul."

"You surrender?" Mad Dog and Shroud yelped in horror. The crowd gasped.

"Yeah…I'm done. And that means I'm out of this cage," Zane said calmly. The cage was unlocked and Zane and his opponent emerged.

"You ungrateful little snot!" Shroud shouted, furious. He grabbed the teen boy by the shoulders and shook him. "HOW COULD YOU THROW AWAY ALL I'VE GIVEN YOU! I GAVE YOU THE CHANCE TO BECOME GREAT AGAIN AND YOU JUST THREW IT ALL AWAY! YOU'VE LOST EVERYTHING!" Shroud slapped him, but insanely, Zane didn't feel the blow.

"I haven't lost everything," the Kaiser of Duel Academy said. "I still have some very important things. I have my soul and my honor."

"Your honor?" Shroud scoffed. "You honestly think that's worth something?"

"Yes…more than you will ever know." And with that, Zane walked out into the night. He may not have won the duel, but he felt he'd won something far more precious. But what happened next would not be easy.

And that concludes chapter one of "The Path to Redemption." I hope you all consider this a story worth continuing! Please read and review. Thank you!