Hello everyone, and happy 2009. Welcome to my newest Yu-Gi-Oh fanfic, and my foray into the Fifth Dimension of dueling. By that, I mean Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's.

Before I start, a few explanations.

This fic centers on dueling, like most of my fics. And the duels will follow the rules of the OCG and TCG to the letter.

In addition, I am going to attempt a feat that not many fanfic authors have. The duelists in this fic will obey the Forbidden/Limited List as it has stood as of September 2008. Let me tell you, having to outline a duel without using Pot of Greed and Call of the Haunted has been difficult, but the anime has managed to do it, most of the time (and not use Monster Reborn on top of it), so I'm willing to try. If the March 2009 List has any major changes, this fic will not change. I'll stay with the September 2008 version.

Now a word on the setting. This story takes place in the futuristic city of Neo Domino. We don't know yet exactly how far in the future this is. According to Godwin, the old Domino City was destroyed, thus creating Satellite, in an accident that happened seventeen years before the show's timeline started. Also, according to Jack, Yusei was born in the Tops, suggesting that Neo Domino has existed in its current state for at least eighteen years. We can thus likely assume that 5D's takes place more-or-less twenty-five to thirty years after the events of GX.

We will assume that the duels in this version of Neo Domino use real-life rules, and always have. In relation to the anime, this story begins about two days after the end of the Fortune Cup. For those who don't know what that means, it means that Yusei has defeated his rival Jack Atlas publicly, gaining a reluctant celebrity status, and Jack has lost his title in the eyes of a very unforgiving media. The Dark Signers have yet to become a major threat, and their group currently only consists of three members. In other words, this story begins in the transition between Season One and Season Two. As this story progresses, the storyline of the anime will progress in juxtaposition. In cases where the anime's storyline influences the events of this story, I'll make small notes at the beginning of the chapter.

One thing I can't help but stress. This fic is completely independent of any of my previous fics. As much as I loved Yumi and her friends, they do not belong in this world. This is a different world entirely. This also means that the restrictions I put on certain cards in Yumi's world do not apply in this one. (For example, the cards that were referred to as the Dread Council in Soul of Silicon are normal cards in this fic.) This fic still, however, obeys the continuity of the anime regarding cards that are unique in that setting. (For example, only three Blue-Eyes White Dragons exist, and even though Kaiba's current status is not yet revealed in the time period of 5D's, those cards are unavailable to anyone but him.)

A note on names: For cards that exist in the TCG, I'll use the American names, unless I have a good reason not to. For cards that exist only in the OCG, I'll use the most agreed-upon translation. For anime-only cards, I'll use either the original name or the dub name, depending on which makes more sense. (Sometimes the dub can, in fact, do better, believe it or not, mostly because something is lost in the translation.) For the names of anime characters, however, when they are mentioned or appear in this fic, I'll use original names, because that is one area where the dub almost always screws up. When I reference the names of episodes, I'll use English names, as they are simpler, and the translations of the Japanese names can often be interpreted differently by different American viewers.

As usual, when I use an OCG-only card, anime-only card, or card of my own design (or a card of another fanfic writer's design), information about it will appear at the end of the chapter. Keep in mind, this is YGO 5D's, and thus focuses a great deal on the "third generation" of the game. Thus, there will be a lot of attention on Synchro Monsters, and a great deal of cards that American players have never used. (It is up to Konami when, if ever, we get to use them.)

Of special note is the card I will detail here, which is essential to Turbo Duels, a factor that plays an important part of 5D's. This card is used in every Turbo Duel, without exception:

SPEED WORLD (Spell Card)

Field Spell

Image: An explosion of energy.

Card Description: Each player can have a copy of this card on the field simultaneously. This card is automatically activated at the start of the duel. If you play a Spell Card that does not have the words "Speed Spell" in its name, take 2,000 points of damage. During each player's Standby Phase, starting on the second turn, place 1 Speed Counter on this card (max. 12 for each player). Reduce your number of Speed Counters by one for each increment of 1,000 Life Points of damage you lose from a single source.

Speed World can even be activated against a player's will, such as in the case of a criminal being chased by someone using a Special Pursuit Deck. As such, it does not appear to be a true card per se, but rather a virtual card that appears on each D-Wheel whenever a Turbo Duel starts. Other abilities are not mentioned on the card. It apparently cannot be destroyed, displaced, or "bounced" by any action the duelists can make, seeing as it was unharmed by Yusei's "Speed Spell – Gap Storm", the effect of which was similar to "Heavy Storm". However, Speed World still qualifies as a Field Spell for all intents and purposes. (If it didn't, then Kiryu's "Earthbound God – Ccapac Apu" would have been powerless when he summoned it, even by anime rules.)

Speed Spells are important factors in all Turbo Duels. To use one, you require a specific amount of Speed Counters, depending on the Spell in question. The more powerful the Speed Spell, the more Counters you require. As a result of this, a deck used in a Turbo Duel tends to have more Trap Cards than usual, to compensate for the inability to use many Spell Cards.

One final thing. I absolutely refuse to use the terms "Release" and "Advance Summon". The old terms were good enough for me for so long, and I see no reason why I should change them.

Enough with the boring stuff. I'm as eager to turn the page as you are…

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Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's

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Shadowchasers

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A fanfic by Cyber Commander

What is this strange thing they call life? Philosophers have been trying to figure that out since the days of Socrates, and they're no closer to finding the answer now than they were then.

I'm not a philosopher by any means. But I have learned one thing about life in the past few weeks: There are things in it that you can't take for granted. I mean, you can travel the world, and see the beautiful things it has to offer… The Great Pyramids in Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India, the Grand Canyon in Arizona… You could spend years touring the world's wonders and mysteries, and you still never see it all. The world hides its greatest secrets.

Who am I? You probably started to read this story hoping to read about some heroic duelist… One with a colorful history, and an equally colorful future… Perhaps one with a destiny that was foretold by some arcane prophesy, or some great power that he holds inside him.

Well, I can't give you that… All I can give you is myself. My name is Eiko Michiko, and I'm nineteen years old. My friends call me Ember. You might say I was a reluctant hero, but that's about it. I didn't start out as a hero… I only started out with potential. But that was okay – it is said that most of the folks in my current situation only started out with potential.

I wish I was more like Yugi Mouto… A human who held the soul of a three-thousand year-old Pharaoh inside him. Or I would gladly take Seto Kaiba's past as well. Having gone from a poor childhood to being the most powerful man in the gaming industry is pretty exhilarating.

Heck, I would even take Katsuya Jonouchi's story if he offered to give it to me. Being a kid from the wrong side of the tracks until he was pulled over them to become a duelist with a lucky streak that was hard to break… It sounds kind of romantic when you think about it.

Me? I won't pretend my life was as interesting as any of them until a few weeks ago. I grew up with happily married parents in a middle class neighborhood, in Neo Domino City, a place that Godwin professes to be the greatest utopia in the world. I was nurtured, educated, and got a decent-paying white-collar job right out of high school.

And dueling? Well, it was nothing more than a hobby, one that I happened to like. D-Wheels? Sure, they looked thrilling, but they also looked too dangerous for me to ever go near.

Life was good, and I had no complaints. Even if my life was a tad routine…

So what happened?

A couple of weeks ago, I started seeing things I had never seen before. I thought I was crazy…

And then someone told me that I wasn't crazy…

What I was… Was a Shadowchaser…

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CHAPTER ONE

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Kaiser Colosseum

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Where to begin? Well, I guess I'd best begin at the beginning, as my father always said I should. It was four o'clock, the second day after the big event had ended.

By that, I meant the Fortune Cup, naturally. I had seen it on TV, the big dueling competition that had ended in a big surprise, with Jack Atlas being knocked off his throne by Yusei Fudo, a Turbo Duelist whom the media had dubbed "The Shooting Star of Satellite". My reactions to it were a bit mixed. The new guy wasn't nearly as enthusiastic as Jack was, but at the same time, I always thought that Jack had been getting a little too big for his britches. As my dad always said, "Pride goeth before the fall". I think that quote came from the Hebrew Bible.

Anyway, just because the Fortune Cup had ended, didn't mean that the Pro Dueling circuit had shut down. One duel was happening in a stadium not far from the one where the Fortune Cup was held, and one of the duelists was someone who I would get to know very soon.

I wasn't watching the duel, however. I heard about it later. It was a work day for me, and I was busy.

At the arena known to dueling fans as Nirvana, the crowd, most of them teenagers, was getting restless. It was five minutes to showtime, and they had been promised the debut of a new contender for the first event.

The new contender was waiting to make his entrance, having just mounted his D-Wheel, and was not happy. He leaned his head on his hand, wishing he was anywhere but here. How did Julius talk him into this?

As he donned his helmet, he looked around, and wondered if there might be any way for him to slip away unnoticed…

"Ladies and gentlemen," started the announcer. "Dueling fans! Amateurs and professionals alike! Welcome one and all!"

The crowd cheered.

Guess not, thought Shichiro, as the music started.

"And now," said the announcer, as an engine started, "here trying to make it three in a row, the Flaming Scourge… Misuga Yoichi!"

Shichiro watched as his opponent drove his D-Wheel into the arena. The Wheel had a motorbike design that reminded him of Mukuro Enjo's, right down to the flame designs.

Copycat players are starting early this year, thought Shichiro.

"Let's fire this duel up!" called Yoichi to the crowd.

"And now," said the announcer, "a newcomer, but someone whom we expect big things from… Osaka Shichiro!"

That's my cue… thought Shichiro. Let's get this over with…

His D-Wheel started, and he drove into the arena. He didn't get as many cheers as his opponent did, but it was clear that his D-Wheel was better built. Its black chrome plating and high-tech design made it look like it had been built for more practical uses than dueling for sport (and truthfully, it had).

Shichiro and Yoichi looked at each other. Then their dashboards flashed on.

"Duel mode engaged," said a computerized female voice. "Autopilot standing by."

The Speed World card appeared on both of their screens. Then the whole arena changed as it took effect, turning the racetrack into an arena of pulsating energy.

"Countdown initiated," said the voice.

"Ready… Set… Duel!"

With a roar of engines, the two D-Wheels sped off from the starting point.

"And they're off!" called the announcer.

That's what you say at a horse race, thought Shichiro. Can't this guy get it right?

(Shichiro: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Yoichi: 8,000)

"Time to fry," chuckled Yoichi, as he made his first draw.

"I summon Sangan!"

As he played the card, a portal opened behind him, and a familiar Monster flew out of it – the spherical, three-eyed Fiend with a toothy mouth. (1,000 ATK)

"Your move, rookie," he said.

"If I must," said Shichiro, drawing a card.

He watched his screen, as the Speed Counter for both him and Yoichi rose to one apiece. The speed of his bike picked up slightly, but so did Yoichi's.

He looked over the hand of cards stowed on the gauntlet on his left arm. Then he chose one.

"I summon Queen's Knight!" he exclaimed, throwing it on his dashboard.

A glowing portal opened behind him, and a tall, armored figure flew out of it. It was a lady knight dressed in crimson armor, with playing card symbols decorating her armor and shield, her flowing blonde hair reaching to her waist. (1,500 ATK)

Several boys in the audience started to make whistles and catcalls.

"Shichiro has started off strong," said the announcer. "Anyone who has studied the history of dueling knows where this Warrior can lead."

"Queen's Knight, smite his Sangan!" shouted Shichiro.

"YA!" shouted Queen's Knight, as she made a swipe at the Fiend with her sword. She effortlessly cleaved it in half.

"Why thank you," chuckled Yoichi. "Now…"

"I know what Sangan does, pal," said Shichiro. "You get to pull a Monster with a low Attack Score from your deck. I don't need everything explained to me."

"Hey, lighten up," muttered Yoichi, adding a card to his hand.

"Don't feel like it," said Shichiro, "but I'll end my turn anyway…"

(S: 8,000) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 7,500)

Yoichi drew a card, and both Speed Counters rose to two.

"Think I'll set a Monster in Defense Mode," he said, placing a card on his dashboard.

Briefly, a card appeared in front of his bike, and then faded from sight. Shichiro could still see it on his screen, however.

"Your move again, rookie."

Shichiro drew a card, and both Speed Counters rose to three.

If he keeps calling me a rookie, he thought, I'm not just gonna beat him, I'm gonna hurt him.

"I'd like to remind our viewers that both our duelists have three Speed Counters right now," declared the announcer. "This is the point where several low-powered Speed Spells could conceivably be played with ease."

"I summon King's Knight!" shouted Shichiro.

He threw the card on his controls, and another portal opened. A new knight appeared, this one in golden armor, again with playing card symbols covering it. He had a full beard, and wore a helmet shaped like a crown. (1,600 ATK)

"And when King's Knight is summoned while Queen's Knight is on the field, I get to bring out their brother… Come out, Jack's Knight!"

A third knight flew out of the portal. This one was a young man with long, blonde locks, dressed in sapphire-blue armor, again with playing card symbols adorning his raiment. (1,900 ATK)

"Shichiro has drawn the whole royal flush of Warriors!" exclaimed the announcer. "Yoichi had better hope that his one Monster is a good one!"

Shichiro sped up a ramp, and turned around, and sped towards Yoichi with his Knights following alongside.

"Jack's Knight, take out his Monster!" he commanded.

Jack's Knight flew ahead, and raised his sword…

But when he swung, there was a sound of metal striking metal. Shielding itself in front of Yoichi was an android in a football jersey and helmet, crouching as if to receive a blitz. (2,100 DEF)

"Guess my Battle Footballer was too much for him, eh?" asked Yoichi.

Shichiro didn't answer as he sped past Yoichi. Then he turned around again, and started to follow him.

"Guess so," he said. "I have to end my turn…"

(S: 7,800) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 7,500)

"Then you're mine!" laughed Yoichi, drawing a card.

Both Speed Counters clicked up a notch, going to four apiece.

Yoichi placed a card on his Disk, and a portal of flame appeared in mid-air.

What the heck? thought Shichiro.

A huge, demonic creature flew out of the portal. It was a gargoyle-like Fiend, with a mane of fire and flaming wings, holding a burning sword. (1,000 ATK)

"Meet Sangan's contribution," laughed Yoichi. "The dreaded Gorlag! This charming creature gains 500 extra Attack Points for each Fire Monster I've got, including itself. With Battle Footballer, that's an extra G added to its score!"

(2,000 ATK)

Okay, so maybe this guy's a little better than I gave him credit for… thought Shichiro.

"Gorlag, slap his Jack's Knight!" ordered Yoichi.

Gorlag turned and made a rush at Jack's Knight, striking him with its burning sword. Jack's Knight groaned, and shattered.

"Slap his…" replied Shichiro. "Oh, as in slapjack… If you're trying to be funny, it isn't working."

"Here's something that's much funnier," said Yoichi. "Now I get to Special Summon a Monster, and I think he'll look familiar to you…"

The flaming portal opened on his side of the field again, and another Monster emerged. It was Jack's Knight. (1,900 ATK)

"I not only get to take any Monsters my Gorlag destroys," said Yoichi, "I get to change their Attributes to Fire. That means Gorlag itself gets even stronger!"

Gorlag burned even fiercer. (2,500 ATK)

"We've seen Yoichi use this strategy in his last two matches," said the announcer. "The more his Monster battles, the stronger it gets. Does Shichiro stand a chance?"

"Frankly, I'd say no," replied Yoichi. "And I'm setting two cards facedown to make sure."

Two set cards briefly appeared behind his Monsters, and then faded from sight.

(S: 7,700) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 7,500)

Shichiro quickly made a draw, and both Speed Counters rose up to five. The speed of his D-Wheel had tripled since he had started, but he didn't mind. His mind tended to function better the faster he went.

Can't use this guy now, he thought, adding it to his hand.

"First, I move Queen's Knight and King's Knight to Defense Mode," he said.

Queen's Knight sheathed her sword and lifted her shield. (1,600 DEF) King's Knight followed suit. (1,500 DEF)

"Next, I summon Marauding Captain!"

In a flash of energy, a new Warrior flew through the portal: a battle-worn veteran in fancy armor and a cape, holding a sword in each hand. (1,200 ATK)

"By summoning him, I get to Special Summon another Monster from my hand. So I'll summon Big Shield Gardna in Defense Mode."

Another Warrior appeared, this one a muscular barbarian. He had no weapon, but true to his name, he had a huge shield, which he crouched behind. (2,600 DEF)

"Finally," continued Shichiro, "I'll set one card facedown, and that will be all."

A facedown card flashed into existence on his side of the field, and then faded.

Yoichi laughed, as he drew a card. Both Speed Counters went up to six.

"Your deck is nothing but Toolbox Warrior!" he laughed. "If I had known you would be so easy, I wouldn't have stayed sober!

"Just joking, people! I never drink and drive!

"But you're gonna look pretty punch drunk pretty soon… Now watch my fire!"

He shifted gears, and flames shot out of his exhaust pipes. He swerved to the side, and ahead of Shichiro.

"Jack's Knight, attack his Marauding Captain!"

Jack's Knight leapt at the Captain, and swung his sword. The Captain was blasted into pieces.

"Now, my Gorlag attacks your King's Knight!"

Gorlag swooped at King's Knight, and made a slash with its burning blade. King's Knight shattered as well.

Yoichi chuckled, as King's Knight appeared on his side of the field. (1,600 ATK) Gorlag burned with fury. (3,000 ATK)

"Next round," he said, "I'm gonna have the whole set. You know what they say… You gotta know when to fold 'em!

"And I'm still not done with you…"

He took a card from his hand.

"With my Speed Counters this high, I can play Speed Spell – Sonic Buster. This lets me fire a blast with damage equal to half my Gorlag's Attack Score behind it!"

The Spell Card appeared on his side of the field, and a bolt of pure energy shot at Shichiro. He groaned a little, as his Life Points went down, and his own Speed Counter went down by one.

(S: 5,500) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 7,500)

"My move!" said Shichiro, angrily.

He drew a card. His Counter went up to six, while Yoichi's went up to seven.

That's the ticket, he thought.

"And I just drew my Noisy Gnat! But it isn't a Monster that you summon…"

He tossed it into the discard slot on his dashboard. Behind him, a phantom Insect appeared, holding a boom box that was blasting loud music. Queen's Knight started to glow with silvery energy.

"By sending Noisy Gnat from my hand to the Graveyard, I can really make some noise, by boosting Queen Knight's Level from 4 to 5."

"Big deal!" replied Yoichi. "She can't beat any of my Monsters no matter what Level she is."

"Yoichi…" said Shichiro, as the Gnat faded away. "I'm guessing that you have a crackerjack agent who arranged your first two matches with two amateurs in order to make you look good. How much of the purse is he getting? Sixty percent? Seventy?

"If you can't figure out why I changed her Level, you're clearly an amateur yourself…"

He played a card from his hand.

"I summon Nitro Synchron!"

In a burst of fire, a small Monster flew onto the field. It was a cute robot, who looked like a propane tank with arms, legs, and a face. (300 ATK)

"Unprecedented!" exclaimed the announcer. "Shichiro just pulled out a Tuner Monster!"

"Tuner?!" exclaimed Yoichi.

"You got it!" replied Yoichi. "Now give Queen's Knight a tune-up!"

The needle on Nitro Synchron's gauge moved into the red, and steam blew from its nostrils. It and Queen's Knight flew to the top of the arena, and turned into seven glowing stars.

"You want fire, Yoichi?" asked Shichiro. "I'll give you fire! I Tune Queen's Knight and Nitro Synchron… Synchro Summon… Nitro Warrior!"

A far more intimidating Monster flew down, trailing a wake of flames. It was a demonic-looking Warrior, with green, scaly skin and horns, with a rocket engine on its back. (2,800 ATK)

"Still think I'm running a Toolbox deck?" asked Shichiro. "And since I used Nitro Synchron to summon this guy, I get to draw one card."

He made a draw.

"Maybe not," replied Yoichi. "But you still can't beat me… That guy may be hot, but Gorlag is still hotter."

"We'll see about that," said Shichiro, as a Speed Spell of his own appeared on his side of the field. "I play Dual Vortex!"

"Eh?" asked Shichiro. "What does that do?"

"Works just like Creature Swap," replied Shichiro. "We both trade a Monster. I'm giving you Big Shield Gardna."

"Fine!" replied Yoichi. "You can have Battle Footballer!"

The two Monsters vanished, and reappeared on opposite sides of the field.

"You think you could weaken Gorlag by doing that? Nice try!"

One of his Trap Cards lifted up, and spun around.

"I activate DNA Transplant! Now, the Attribute of all Monsters on the field become any I want, and I want Fire. That means Big Shield Gardna is a Fire Monster now, and Gorlag doesn't lose any points at all.

"And you made a big mistake. What you should have done was switch Gardna to Attack Mode before you played that Spell! Talk about dumb!"

"No Yoichi, my move was very smart," replied Shichiro. "You see, since I played a Spell Card, Nitro Warrior's effect activates, and while Gorlag may not lose any points, my Monster gains a few!"

Nitro Warrior glowed with fiery energy. (3,800 ATK)

"Oh… crap…" muttered Yoichi.

"Nitro Warrior…" commanded Shichiro. "Crush his Gorlag with Dynamite Knuckle!"

Nitro Warrior roared, and flew at the Fiend. It slammed both of its fists into Gorlag, and the Fiend groaned before exploding into a burst of smoke.

"You destroyed it!" shouted Yoichi.

"That's not all," replied Shichiro. "When Gorlag bites the dust, so do the Monsters you stole with it!"

Jack's Knight and King's Knight shattered.

"I'm not done!" continued Shichiro, as Nitro Warrior fell back to an Attack Score of 2,800. "When Nitro Warrior destroys one Monster, and you have a Monster in Defense Mode, he can switch that Monster to Attack Mode and attack a second time!"

Big Shield Gardna put his shield aside, and stood up. (100 ATK)

"NOW do you see why I left him in Defense Mode?"

Nitro Warrior slammed his fists into Big Shield Gardna, and the barbarian shattered. Yoichi groaned in pain and his D-Wheel shook, as his Speed Counter was cut down two points.

"Now, my Trap Card activates!" shouted Shichiro, as his facedown card spun around. "Birthright! This lets me bring a Monster back from my Graveyard, so long as it's a Normal Monster."

The portal opened again, and Jack's Knight flew out. (1,900 ATK)

"And he's got a score to settle with you, Yoichi! Direct attack!"

Jack's Knight flew at Yoichi, and slammed his sword down on the front of his bike.

"ERGH!" grunted Yoichi, as his D-Wheel trembled and slowed down even more.

"I'll set another card facedown," said Shichiro, as a new facedown card appeared, "and that's all…"

He shifted gears, and pulled ahead of his opponent, with Nitro Warrior and Jack's Knight flying to either side, and Battle Footballer bringing up the rear. The crowd was cheering his name at the top of their lungs.

(S: 5,500) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 2,100)

Yoichi fumed as he drew a card, his own Counter rising to five while Shichiro's rose to seven.

Then he chuckled as he saw what the card was.

"I'm removing Gorlag from play," he said. "In order to summon my Spirit of Flames!"

A fireball shot onto the field, and a fiery, fiendish creature surrounded by an aura of fire appeared. (1,700 ATK)

Then his other facedown card spun around.

"Then, I activate my Reinforcements Trap Card, to give him a boost."

(2,200 ATK)

"Is that supposed to scare me?" asked Shichiro.

"No, THIS is!" replied Yoichi. "I sacrifice it, along with all the cards in my hand…"

Spirit of Flames turned into a globe of light…

Then a much bigger portal appeared, and a huge, hulking beast emerged. It looked like a cross between a demon and a fiery, bloated reptile, standing on six legs, with a thick tail, a toothy mouth, spikes on its back, and no eyes. (2,800 ATK)

"My Infernal Incinerator! And guess what? He gains 200 more Attack Points for each Monster on your side of the field!"

(3,400 ATK)

"Go! Barbecue his Nitro Warrior! Majin Hell Burner!"

The huge Fiend opened its jaws… Flames appeared in them…

"As much as I like a good barbecue," replied Shichiro, "I have to interrupt…"

His facedown card shot up.

"I activate Synchro Back! Nitro Warrior, see you later!"

Nitro Warrior vanished into grains of light. Infernal Incinerator fell to an Attack Score of 3,200.

"Huh?" asked Yoichi. "Where'd he go?"

"Back to my Extra Deck," replied Shichiro, "where your Monster can't reach him. So your Infernal Incinerator is going to have to pick a fight with someone else."

"Fine with me," chuckled Yoichi. "Attack his Jack's Knight!"

Infernal Incinerator shot a blast of flames that looked like a furnace exploding. Jack's Knight was incinerated instantly. Shichiro sweat as his Life Points went down, and his Counter fell to six.

(S: 4,200) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 2,100)

"Shichiro is in a tight spot," said the announcer, getting excited. "Will he come back? Will he pull through? Will he put out this fire?"

"Will our annoying announcer ever shut his yap?" snapped Shichiro, as he drew a card.

His Speed Counter went up to seven and his opponent's went up to six. He looked at the card.

"I didn't tell you about the other effect of Synchro Back, by the way," he continued. "On my Standby Phase after I use it, the Synchro Monster… Comes back."

In a burst of flame, Nitro Warrior appeared again. (2,800 ATK)

"Big deal!" laughed Yoichi. "That only makes my Monster stronger!"

"And with my Speed Counters at seven," continued Shichiro, "I can play Speed Spell – Shift Down!"

The Spell appeared on his side of the field, and his D-Wheel switched gears.

"By purposely reducing my Speed Counters by six, I get to draw two cards."

He made two draws as his Counter started to plunge, falling all the way to one. The crowd gasped as he quickly started to lose ground.

"That's the dumbest thing I've ever seen!" laughed Yoichi, looking at Shichiro, who was now behind him. "I'll run circles around you!"

"Oh, really?" asked Shichiro. "Do I need to remind you what Spell Cards do to Nitro Warrior?"

Yoichi stopped short, as he came to the realization…

"And to finish this," continued Shichiro, "I'll summon Axe Raider!"

The portal opened again, and a new Monster leapt out. It was another barbarian, but he was armored, and carried a nasty battle axe. (1,700 ATK)

"Nitro Warrior…" ordered Shichiro, "attack Infernal Incinerator with Dynamite Knuckle!"

Nitro Warrior flew at the huge beast, and his Attack Score rose to 3,800 again. He punched it on the snout, and the Fiend roared before exploding into a burst of flames.

"Here's some words to live by, Yoichi," said Shichiro. "You play with fire… You get burned!

"Axe Raider, attack with Axe Crash!"

Axe Raider hollered a battlecry, as he flew at Yoichi's bike holding his axe with both hands. He slammed the weapon into Yoichi's dashboard, and Yoichi screamed.

(S: 4,200) - - - - - - - - - - (Y: 0)

Yoichi skidded to a halt, with steam pouring from his engine. He uttered a curse as he threw his helmet to the ground in disgust.

Shichiro rode to the center of the arena as the crowd cheered his name. He sighed.

This is embarrassing… he thought.

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Fifteen minutes later, after being congratulated and unwillingly basking in the admiration of the crowd, Shichiro sat in the green room of the arena, drinking from a bottle of mineral water.

He got up, and looked in the large mirror.

He was quite young, only nineteen, one year younger than the former champion, but a year older than the current one. But he looked somewhat older. He face looked weather-beaten and rough, and his hair had a natural "rolled out of bed look". Some people asked him how he got his hair like that, but in truth, he didn't do anything more than roll out of bed. His clothing was equally rugged, with a leather jacket (he had gotten it off the rack) and a pair of jeans (these were a little more expensive, but not by much).

In truth, Shichiro spent more money on necessities other than himself. He had to take care of the important things first. Such as cards. To him, a bad draw could be his last.

He casually opened the pouch on his belt where his side deck was kept, and took out a card. He often checked it to make sure it was still there, as it was his most valuable card. Atlas may have had that Dragon of his, a card that no other duelist could get, but there was no way he could ever get a copy of this. Even if he had stolen it, he wouldn't be able to keep it; it would refuse to stay with him.

It was a Synchro Monster; most folks would find it odd that he would keep a Synchro Monster in his side deck, seeing as there was still room for it in his Extra Deck. Usually it was there… But he simply could not have kept it there for this farce…

He turned the card around. On the back was writing that only he could see:

"The card you hold is your bond to the path you walk, and the cause you have pledged to. Use it for no purpose except in the service of that cause. Ignorance is not bliss, but knowledge is not power."

"Hey, Shichiro!" said a voice behind him.

Shichiro grit his teeth in anger.

"Julius…" he growled.

He looked around, and saw a short, balding man wearing a white business suit (which he knew was bought off the rack).

"Shichiro, you're a hit!" chuckled Julius. "The fans love you!"

"Good for them," replied Shichiro.

"Look, Shichiro," said Julius. "I was thinking…"

He took a cigar out of his shirt pocket.

"You light that thing, Julius," growled Shichiro, "I'll make you eat it."

Julius laughed nervously, and put it back in his pocket.

"Look, Shichiro, I've been thinking about your future in the Pro League," he said.

"I already have plans," replied Shichiro. "Early retirement."

He put the card back in the pouch.

"Oh, c'mon!" said Julius. "I saw that Synchro Monster you were just looking at… That alien warrior… It…"

"He's not an alien!" shouted Shichiro.

"Whatever," replied Julius. "I've certainly never seen it before. Why didn't you use it against Yoichi? The fans like seeing new things, Shichiro. They would have gone nuts!"

"My cards are my business, Julius," said Shichiro.

"Look, Shichiro," said Julius. "You stick with me, I'll bring you to the top. Atlas has been kicked off his throne, and the public hasn't warmed up to this new kid yet…

"A void has been left in the business… You have potential, kid… Think of yourself, filling that void… Becoming the new champion… Now, if you just showed up here on Saturday to…"

"NO!" shouted Shichiro, with such force that Julius fell over.

Actually, he almost fell over. Shichiro grabbed him by the shirt collar before he hit the floor.

"Oh, I want to be like Jack Atlas!" said Shichiro, sarcastically. "I want to have an inflated head, put out a line of action figures, and call myself stupid nicknames like 'The Master of Faster'.

"If I had been in charge of Security, I would have had him arrested just for wearing that ridiculous outfit. It's the only thing he has that's louder than he is. Face it, Julius, Jack may have been King, but he was a foolish king who built his castle upon a foundation of sand.

"I mean, he was supposed to be the star of the Fortune Cup. What did he do for ninety percent of it? He sat on his duff and watched. And then he dueled the winner and lost. You think I want a career that ends with such humiliation?

"I swallowed my pride and lowered myself to doing this duel for you because I owed you a favor, a favor I never would have owed if I'd have known you'd have asked me to do this. Listen well… I have no desire to fill the void that Atlas left, or start a legacy of my own. To me, the fame and money would be a poor substitute for the loss of my self-respect.

"Nothing you can say or offer will make me show up on Saturday. Tell whoever you promised that I would to find someone else."

Then he dropped him. He walked out to the garage where his D-Wheel was parked.

He mounted his bike, and strapped on his helmet. He started up the engine.

"Shichiro!" called Julius from behind. "You're making a mistake!"

Shichiro frowned. He turned the gear shift, and exhaust blasted out of his rear engine, all over Julius.

"Hey!" screamed Julius. "I just had this suit dry cleaned!"

"Then you should have known better than to stand that close to the back of a D-Wheel!" said Shichiro. "Call me… We'll do lunch!"

The garage door opened, and Shichiro sped out, onto the streets of Neo Domino. He was glad to get out of there.

As Shichiro passed by the business district, the news was being broadcast on several public televisions.

"Concern grows in Sector Security," said the female news anchor, "as another high-ranking executive linked to the new agricultural project that Godwin announced last month was found strangled to death after apparently working a night shift in his office. Other officials do not know the motive yet for the four murders, nor do they have any suspects. Godwin released a statement saying that he has no idea who would hate these officials so much to resort to murder."

I gotta hand it to you, Godwin, thought Shichiro, who was listening. When you lie to the press, you can sure keep a straight face. Most folks don't know it, but the truth is, the list starts with me and goes all the way around the block… Twice.

I really shouldn't help you find this murderer… But if the boss's hunch is correct, I just might have to…

In the grand scheme of things… Folks like you are the lesser evils…

Shichiro's career in the Pro League lasted one day, and ended with a perfect record: one win, no losses, no draws. He never looked back, and never regretted his decision. I'm not sure what ultimately became of Julius, but he likely got in big trouble with some people. I do know he had signed several contracts promising that Shichiro would not only appear Saturday, but several more times for the next four months. Shichiro figured he likely would have, and was smart enough never to sign anything himself, nor did he give anyone his real address, phone number, or any vital information. He never saw Julius again, and if Julius ever tried to reach him, he didn't succeed.

I didn't see this duel until I saw a recording that a friend of Shichiro's made of it when it shown on television. As I said before, I was working that day. Shichiro was working too – technically, he had done the duel on his lunch break.

At the time, I worked for Draco Industries, an international technology company that had its hand in practically everything. The company owned facilities around the globe that manufactured everything from baby food to aircraft parts, and everything in-between. The CEO, my boss at the time, was Anthony Draco, a billionaire tycoon who held power in Neo Domino that may well have been second to Godwin. If anything, more people were on his payroll than were on Godwin's.

Not that Mr. Draco was a rival of Godwin by any means. He had recently entered a joint endeavor with Godwin – that agricultural project that you heard mentioned, which I think was being started in China.

What did this have to do with me? Well, I didn't know it… But it seemed I was working too hard, and I was due for a vacation…

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

GORLAG (Monster Card)

Card Specs

Type: Fiend/Effect
Attribute: Fire
Level: 4
ATK: 1,000
DEF: 1,000

Card Description: Increase this card's ATK by 500 for each FIRE Monster you control. When this card destroys a Monster as a result of battle and sends it to the Graveyard, Special Summon that Monster to your side of the field at the end of the Battle Phase. Monsters Special Summoned in this manner have their Attribute changed to FIRE and their effects are negated. If this card is removed from the field, destroy all Monsters that were Special Summoned by its effect.

Note: "Gorlag" was first used by Amelda in the original anime episode "Déjà Duel! (Part 2)". Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

SYNCHRO BACK (Trap Card)

Normal Trap

Image: Mist Wurm glowing with green energy as a bolt of orange energy shoots towards it.

Card Description: Return 1 Synchro Monster you control to your Extra Deck. During your next Standby Phase, Special Summon that Monster from your Extra Deck.

Note: "Synchro Back" was first used by Aki in an episode of "Yu-Gi-Oh 5D". Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

SPEED SPELL – SONIC BUSTER

Normal Spell

Image: A figure bursting with energy in the background, blasting the energy towards a figure in the foreground.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 4 or more Speed Counters. Select one face-up Monster on your side of the field. Inflict direct damage to your opponent equal to half that Monster's ATK. You cannot activate this card if your opponent's Life Points would be reduced to zero by this effect.

Note: "Speed Spell – Sonic Buster" was first used by Ushio in the "Yu-Gi-Oh 5D" episode "Pipe Dreams". Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

SPEED SPELL – SHIFT DOWN (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: The image on this card was not shown.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 6 or more Speed Counters. Remove 6 of your Speed Counters and draw two cards.

Note: "Speed Spell – Shift Down" was first used by Yusei in an episode of "Yu-Gi-Oh 5D". Creative credit goes to the writers of that episode.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

SPEED SPELL – DUAL VORTEX (Spell Card)

Normal Spell

Image: Similar to "Creature Swap", with Speed Warrior in place of the warrior, and the energy of "Speed World" in the background.

Card Description: You can only activate this card when you have 4 or more Speed Counters. Each player selects 1 Monster they control and switches control of those Monsters with each other. Those Monsters cannot change their battle positions for the rest of this turn except with a card effect.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Coming up next:

We shed a little light on just who Shichiro is, and just what his purpose is. Plus, we'll get our first look at our narrator as well. We had a Turbo Duel this time, but next time, Shichiro takes on an opponent on his feet, dueling not to please a crowd, but for the true reason he duels. What might that be? If Shichiro believes the corrupted leadership of the city to be a "lesser evil", what is the greater?

More will be revealed, in time… Shichiro and those like him are best described as "Hidden Soldiers", and that's exactly the name of the next chapter, coming soon.