Note to Readers

First of all, all rights to the TCG, characters, and original plot of Yu-Gi-Oh! belong to Konami and Kazuki Takahashi, not me. Second, make no comment on summoning without tributes. For those of you who haven't seen Duelist Kingdom, they never used tributes. Third, don't think for a minute that I make all of Jessica's plays up off the top of my head. I designed her deck from my own cards with careful consideration of the rules and norms of the world of Yu-Gi-Oh!, shuffled it well, and actually drew every card she ever plays. That way I've made sure she isn't a perfect Mary-Sue character. She wins some and she loses some, all fairly. Hey, if you don't really like reading duels, sorry, but it really is relevant for this to be the beginning of the book. Keep reading, because chapter one gets better. Trust me, there is a plot to this. I hope that true believers and newcomers alike* really enjoy this fanfic.

*Courtesy of Stan Lee on the first Spiderman game for PlayStation


Prologue

"We now move on to the semi-finals of this week's Duel Monsters tournament. Jessica Meltrow and Reynold York, please take your seats!"

I couldn't believe I'd gotten so far. I'd just entered for the fun of it. And here I was, dueling this Reynold York for a chance to move on to the final round, where I could duel for a prize card and trophy. Slowly, I walked over to the table and sat across from my opponent. We cut each other's decks, then awaited the signal to start.

"Are both duelists ready?" asked the moderator. At our concurrent nods, he raised his hand and said, "Begin!"

We had predetermined by a coin toss that I got the first turn, so I drew six cards and examined my hand. In it were Skull Dog Marron, Trap Hole, Mad Sword Beast, Mysterious Puppeteer, Moon Envoy, and Solomon's Lawbook. It was a pretty good beginning draw. "I'll place one card face-down"--Trap Hole--"and set a monster in face-down defense"--Mysterious Puppeteer. "That's it for me."

Reynold grinned. "Is that really all you've got? Who makes a defensive first move? I'm shooting a little stronger!"

Here it comes, I thought.

"I summon my Supporter in the Shadows!"

I flipped over my trap card. "Sorry, man. Trap Hole. Your Supporter goes to the graveyard." It felt good to be the first to destroy a monster.

"Fine," he muttered as we removed our cards to the graveyard, "I'll play one face-down and end my turn. You're turn, Jessica."

Oh, man, I fretted as I drew my next card, the Tactical Espionage Expert. He's got a face-down. What if it's a Trap Hole too? That could be a problem for my next move. I silently debated over who I should put on the field and in what manner I should do it, but finally decided to hope for the best and pretend that I believed it was a bluff. "All right, then, I summon my Tactical Espionage Expert, in attack mode." I flinched involuntarily, half-expecting him to pull some crazy-evil card trick with his face-down. But after a couple seconds, I realized that my Expert was going to be okay. "Then I'll attack your life points directly!"

He shook his head. "Huh-uh. I activate Waboku. You can attack, but I don't take any damage this turn."

"Nice try, man, but the effect of my Tactical Espionage Expert makes your Waboku useless." I watched as the moderator subtracted thirteen hundred from Reynold's two thousand life points, leaving him with seven hundred. "Sorry."

"Don't be yet. I've still got a chance at winning. I summon my Doron, and equip it with the Black Pendant. It's got fourteen hundred attack points now, just enough to take out your Tactical Espionage Expert! I attack with Doron!" He placed another card face-down as the hit took me down to nineteen hundred.

He'd gotten the upper hand for a moment--the only monster in my hand at that point that could stand up to his was Mad Sword Beast, whose attack was equal to Doron's, and his Black Pendant would inflict five hundred points of direct damage to me if I destroyed his monster--but I wasn't giving up. I still had out my Mysterious Puppeteer, after all, and had the awesome defense of Skull Dog Marron in my hand. I could do this. "My go." Ookazi. "Dude, this seems way too easy. I activate Ookazi, which inflicts eight hundred points of direct damage--"

"No way. I activate my trap card, Magic Jammer. By discarding one card from my hand to the graveyard, I negate and destroy your Ookazi. I'm not going down that easily."

I shrugged. "Okay. Then I'll..." I drifted off and examined my hand,"...finish up by setting one monster in defense." If he took the bait by attacking my Skull Dog Marron, he would lose six hundred life points. I just had to hope that he'd take the bait.

As Reynold drew, his game face melted away. He seemed to be ecstatic. "Yeah! I activate Dian Keto the Cure Master, which restores my life points by one thousand!"

Uh-oh. That would bring him up to just two hundred points below me, and enough he could risk attacking my monsters. Either way he'd lose life points, but each choice could cost him the duel in their own ways.

"All right, I'll attack the face-down on my...left." He'd gotten my Mysterious Puppeteer, only one hundred points of damage to him, but with an effect that would give me a serious advantage. "And as I have no more cards that are of use to me at this point, I'll end my turn."

I drew Castle Walls. Knowing I had no offensive possibilities, I played it face-down and allowed him to go.

His increasingly happy face was starting to creep me out. "Ye-ah! I summon my Judge Man--"

"I get five hundred life points for that due to the effect of my Mysterious Puppeteer."

That took the edge off his high. "Right, well, I attack your Mysterious Puppeteer with my Judge Man." Reynold had prevented me from gaining any more life points from its effect, but I still had eight hundred more than him. "Your move."

My next card was Dokuroyaiba, which was pretty much useless for the time being. Then again, defense is never a bad thing. I faked a grin as best I could, hoping to pull off the bluff. "I'll set one monster face-down." With only four hundred defense points, it wasn't good, but if Reynold bought it, I could hold off for a little while until I could draw something useful. I nodded that he could go.

Reynold looked at his draw, but didn't play it. "I attack the face-down on my right with Judge Man."

I flipped over both my Skull Dog Marron and Castle Walls. "You attacked my Skull Dog, which is usually weaker, but with Castle Walls, it gains five hundred defense points, which means you take three hundred for damage." I watched as he debated whether or not to go ahead with Doron. He did, destroying my Dokuroyaiba. As he finished his turn, I drew. It was Just Desserts, which would really hit him hard. "All right! I activate Just Desserts, which takes you down by five hundred points per monster on your side of the field." He was now down by one thousand, leaving him at three hundred. Dude, I'm actually going to win, I thought in amazement. I set my Moon Envoy in face-down defense and ended my turn.

At his draw I began to rethink my luck. "Let's try this again. Before anything, I'll summon Ansatsu. Then I'll attack your Skull Dog Marron with Judge Man..." My Skull Dog and Moon Envoy were in the graveyard before I could even think to freak out. "Then I'll take you on directly with Ansatsu. You're down to seven hundred life points."

It was then that I could think to freak out. This was getting nail-bitingly close. We were only at a difference of four hundred life points. I closed my eyes as I made what was sure to be my last draw. One way or another, this card was going to decide the match. As I brought the card in front of my face, I opened my eyes and gasped. Hyozanryu. I'm going to win. I twisted my expression into a different sort of surprise than I was feeling. No matter what he attacked me with, he was finished. "Well, I guess I'll just play a monster in defense," I said as dejectedly as I could manage. "Yours will be the last turn of the game."

"Awesome," Reynold said contemptuously as he made the final draw of the game. He scarcely glanced at it before looking back at me. "It's been a pretty close duel, but this is it. I'll attack your face-down with Ansatsu. Then Judge Man will finish you off!" As he declared the attack, the moderator was subtracting the twenty-two hundred from my life points.

"Hold up. You haven't seen my defense yet." The moderator's hand stopped mid-zero, and everyone watched as I flipped over my card. "Hyozanryu. This is a really special card to me. My brother spent a long time finding and saving up for it for my first deck. It's my rarest and most powerful, with a defense of twenty-eight hundred."

The defeat that showed on Reynold's face as the moderator erased what he'd been subtracting from my life points and instead subtracting eleven hundred from Reynold's was full of humiliation, and I kinda felt bad for him. I watched as he angrily gathered up his cards and put them in his deck case. As he prepared to leave, I walked over to him.

"Hey, Reynold," I said to his back. I held out my hand as he turned. "Awesome game. You almost had me." My hand dropped at his responding glare.

"This isn't over, Jessica Meltrow. Next time, I'll win." He held out his hand, and we shook. "Good game."