(Author's Note: I owe a lot of people an apology, it seems. I'd like to make that apology now, so that ill feelings aren't held for even longer. I fully apologize to everyone who felt offended by Mitsuru's attitude towards the American nation and its citizens. I would at this point also like to remind everyone that the views expressed by characters in this fanfic, or any other, are not necessarily my own. I do not hate America as strongly as Mitsuru, indeed, many of my better friends on the internet are American. I do disagree with American foreign policy, but I do not hate the nation.

I intended for Mitsuru to come across as biased. I think I may have pushed his views too strongly, which I apologize for, and I will tone down the hate towards America in future. That's all for now.)

Chapter 9 – Summon Storm

The night crept up on Neo Domino, the sun passing below the horizon and leaving orange and purple traces upon the sky. The skyscrapers of the city were set ablaze by the light, glass and steel shining vibrant orange into the sky.

Standing on a balcony of a skyscraper overlooking the expanse of the Neo Domino skyline, Julian lent out, resting his arms on the railings as he gazed over the city towards the sea, where the sun bounced its light back into the skies. His Duel Disk was on his arm, deactivated.

"Are you still out there?" he murmured, recalling a baleful red eye glaring death at him from behind a visor. "Black Flare..." He closed his eyes, remembering that dragon, that fiery terror... Flamvell Nidhogg. He slipped his Deck from the Disk and fanned it, staring over his own Flamvells. Was that destructive force in his Deck as well?

But then his musings turned from his Deck, and he returned it to its holder, staring down into the streets from his lofty perch in the Tops.

"My actions are righteous! I act to help this city!"

His words echoed, a cry of defiance against Julian's opinions, and the young man renounced them. Black Flare was just a criminal, he tore through his opponents mercilessly and left the carrion for Security to pick up behind him. He wasn't a righteous champion of justice, he was a predator who left his prey for dead.

"What have you done to that card?"

What had happened to the card? Why had it vanished after he and Black Flare had held it at the same time? And why had holding it made him feel like he was burning... but burning in a good way? Like he could just burn down the world... what was Flamvell Nidhogg?

"Julian?" He glanced backwards to see Kelsey as she emerged from the apartment behind him, stopping next to him and leaning onto the railing. "You look kind of... lost."

"I am," he replied, turning his gaze back out towards the ocean. "I just don't know, Kelsey... about any of it, Taiga, Kengo, Black Flare, Flamvell Nidhogg... I don't know anything!" He clenched a fist tightly, clearly enraged by the idea. "I thought... I just thought he'd be normal. A Psychic Duelist... I can understand Psychic Duelists. But he's not, and I don't know what he is." He bowed his head, letting the fist unclench.

"It's not your fault he got away," she pointed out. "It was those others... they were the ones who stopped you getting to him." She laid a hand on his shoulder reassuringly. "You'll get Black Flare eventually."

"That's just it... eventually," he murmured. "Now I know he has this..." he struggled to find a word, "gift, I can't risk leaving him loose. It's worse than I thought it was... and who knows what those others want?" He paused. "That girl... Kisara... she knows about them." He turned away, pulling off of the railings. "If I can find her, maybe I can get to the bottom of all this... and then whatever's going on... I can stop it." He paused from stepping back towards the apartment, feeling her eyes on his back.

"Why do you act like this is just for you to stop?"

"Because he got away... and he's like me," Julian replied. "He thinks he's doing the right thing... I know that I'm doing the right thing."

"How? How can you tell that you're doing the right thing, Julian?" Kelsey asked. "Maybe Black Flare 'knows' that he's doing the right thing, and that you're wrong." She paused to let the words sink in. "Maybe in his eyes, what he's doing is right."

"My actions are righteous! I act to help this city!"

The words echoed again, Black Flare's voice filled with hate and anger, a passionate declaration of what the man considered truth. But if his actions were righteous, why had everyone encountering him wound up in the hospital? His 'justice' was indiscriminate, no matter the crime, the punishment was a brutal, savage attack. He had to be stopped.

It was at this point that Julian realized Kelsey was still waiting for an answer. "Maybe in his eyes he's doing the right thing, but can anyone really find right and wrong on their own?"

"What if he's doing this for a personal reason? What if there's someone he's fighting for, Julian? Wouldn't you be just as zealous... just as fierce if that was your motivation?" He had started to walk away again, but the words struck hard and he stopped as though he had hit a wall.

"A personal reason...?" he wondered. "Could that be... no! No matter how personal... no reason can justify what he does!" Julian had to fight the urge to shout down Kelsey's proposal. He might have resented the idea, but she didn't deserve that.

"Maybe..." he finally said. "It could be that, I suppose... but it doesn't matter. No matter why he fights, we still have to stop him." And with that, he was gone, leaving Kelsey leaning back against the railing, a soft sigh passing her lips...

SS09

The crowds milled past below him, unaware of the presence above them, yet feeling the chill shadows watching them, and so they hurried onwards.

Taiga sat on the edge of the rooftop and gazed down, regarding the people with plain amusement on his face. His right hand held a Deck, but strangely not the Deck which was held in his Disk. He fanned the cards, gazing over them.

"If she's here, then it's time to make our amends," he smiled to the cards. They stared back, a variety of demonic entities which glared chillingly into his eyes from the images on the cards.

"Taiga." The Vessel of Darkness started slightly, glancing back to see Mitsuru. The victor of the day's event stood resolute, framed against the sunset-marred skies as he regarded the young man before him.

"What do you want, Mitsuru?" the dark-clad man asked, adjusting the angle of his fedora to cover his dark eye again.

"That girl... the one you met last night." Taiga stiffened. "Who is she?"

"Kengo's been talking, hasn't he?"

"That doesn't matter," the Gemknight user dismissed. "If you're keeping secrets about a potential threat..."

"She's no threat, Mitsuru. Just a scared girl, like she was back then..." He heaved himself back up, standing and facing his counterpart with a cold gaze. Memories twisted and swirled in his head, a scream, a fire, a shadow amidst the blaze...

"Perhaps we should deal with her, for safety's sake." In an instant, Taiga had moved and grabbed his fellow by the collar.

"No," he hissed. "She's no threat, and we don't need to do anything, Mitsuru. Clear?" The brown-eyed man nodded, and for an instant the light flashed in his pupils and revealed that one was darker and harder than the other, like stone compared to the soft wooden shade of the other eye. Taiga released him slowly, and stepped back.

"Clear," he replied. "Who is she?" Taiga turned away, regarding the sunset, watching the sun die. Again the memories came.

"A memory," he finally replied. "A relic from what I was before I found the darkness." He slipped the Deck of demons back into a case on his belt, and opened the Extra Deck slot on his Disk, revealing a pair of Synchro Monster cards. He took the first of these from the slot, gazing at it. "She's just a memory which won't go away, Mitsuru. That's all."

"Lies."

"Is that the truth?" Mitsuru's voice was wary and careful; he had seen how touchy Taiga was about this subject. "If so, why didn't you kill her last night when you had a chance?" Taiga whirled around, glaring death at him, as Mitsuru had suspected there was more to this.

"There was no need," he retorted. "Why should I waste the power I've been given on killing one insignificant person, no matter who they might be?"

"Why kill someone you care about?"

"Perhaps," the other young man replied carefully. "But if this comes back to bite us later," he turned away, "I'm sure you'll get your fair reward for sparing her." He took a step.

"She's no problem," Taiga snapped. "Why don't you go and pester someone else? Or go flirt with the fan-girls you won today?"

"You just don't want to hear what you know is true... your mercy will be what costs us everything!"

"I'm sure Yamato Orimoto will keep the fan-girls, actually," Mitsuru replied coldly. "That duel was a farce to begin with." He started to walk away. "Enjoy yourself, Taiga. It's almost at an end."

"I'd say it's just beginning," the Vessel of Darkness replied with a smile...

SS09

As the sun crept below the horizon, the streets of Neo Domino were cast into deep shadow. Amidst the shadows, Drago rode, a king at home in his own element. He slowly ran his D-Wheel through the streets, regarding the area around him, head encased in his demonic helmet. Music echoed through the street, a loud rock beat which the young man vaguely recognized from an anime he used to watch.

His usual buzz-saw-esque Duel Disk was nowhere to be seen, instead a more standard Disk occupied the space on the console. This model of D-Wheel was not a hybrid, because as Drago had long-since realized, a Duel Disk with buzz-saw card panel was not especially practical for use on such a cramped space. A regular Disk could pretty much barely fit, his normal Duel Disk would have no chance.

As the Evil Hero-user rode slowly through the streets, he relaxed. Neo Domino was peaceful, compared to the previous night and its shocking events, Black Flare's confrontation, the revelation of those strange others who claimed he was one of them, that girl who had manifested her cards as reality... there was something happening, and as a Yuki, he should have known he would be involved. After all, his grandfather had been practically a magnet for strangeness, it was only expected that his descendants would inherit that...

But still... if Taiga was just the beginning... then what lay ahead? He hadn't been pushed so hard since...

"Since... Hiro..."

He narrowed his eyes slightly as he took a corner, emerging into a golden, sun-bathed street and the memories swirled.

"Evil Hero Lightning Golem, use your effect! Destroy his Absolute Zero with Voltic Ball!" A hulking juggernaut of a monster, with jagged lightning bolt-like protrusions jutting out from its armor and a dark visor covering its face, hurled out a hand and a sphere of crackling darkness erupted from the ruby set into its hand, shooting towards a white-armored hero with jagged shoulder-plates and a billowing white cape...

"Try harder, Drago! I activate Constrec Element, letting me switch out Absolute Zero for another Elemental Hero Fusion monster that's the same Level from my Extra Deck!" Absolute Zero flickered away in a flash of white that turned to gold as a silver-armored hero shining with solar radiance descended, eight spikes arranged behind it like solar rays (2600/2100). "With Absolute Zero gone, your Lightning Golem loses its effect target!" The sphere of crackling darkness faded away. "Then, since Absolute Zero left the field, all of your monsters are destroyed!" Lightning Golem was suddenly flash-frozen solid, shattering into shards as the younger Drago looked on in shock.

His opponent smiled. "My Elemental Hero The Shining gains three-hundred attack points for each Elemental Hero I have removed from play, so with the two from my Miracle Fusion for Absolute Zero, and the two for Hero Solidarity, The Shining gains twelve-hundred points!" The Shining glowed with a powerful light... (3800/2100)

"No... I can't beat The Shining with Malicious Fiend!" The younger Drago's eyes darkened as he stared down at the Dark Calling card in his hand, thinking that hopeless thought...

He snapped out of the past, gazing down the Neo Domino streets before turning off into a shadow-clad side-street. Maybe Taiga had been a challenge, but he had still been beaten, unlike...

His thoughts trailed off into nothingness as he let them go. That opponent was long-gone, left behind before the path he had chosen to walk, the path of justice. While his former opponent now walked the road through the sunlight of fame, Drago chose to tread the road of dark justice. That was the difference between them, and the divide which had broken their lives from one another.

But did he regret that? In a way... yes... and no. He had lost his family, but he still felt them with him, feeling that by bringing justice, he was only living up to the heights set by his grandfather. That, in a way, by purging the darkness from Neo Domino's streets, he was doing what was his destiny to do. No matter how ironic the idea might have been, he still embraced it, because by doing still he felt he hadn't abandoned his parents, his brother and his sister.

He continued tracing his way through Neo Domino, just wandering aimlessly until he noticed a landmark and turned to it, taking in the bar. He made a habit of going to seedier, darker bars throughout Neo Domino, if only for the clientele. It was worth it for the information he could pick up, information which even the informants Julian laid his own trust in couldn't always get. Bringing his D-Wheel to a halt in the small parking lot, he dismounted it, tugging off his helmet and slinging it into a compartment behind the seat as he removed his Deck from a box at his belt and glanced around. Seeing no-one, he raised his arm and shadows swirled, forming into his Duel Disk, into which he placed the Deck. Finally, he shut down the D-Wheel, causing the security system to lock and activate as he strode away, looking for all the world as though he were a knight clad in a demon's armored hide.

If he'd been aware of that amusing note, he'd probably have chuckled at the thematic appropriateness of it. But he was not as he pushed open the doors into the bar, taking in the garish neon sign flashing above it with a flicker of distaste across his eyes.

He emerged from the doorway into a smoky, dully-lit room. Men and women lounged on bar stools and couches, draining glasses of alcohol while chattering idly to one another. A group of riding-suit-clad young men occupied a corner, joking to one another as their arms wrapped possessively around the token young women they had gathered with tough looks and tall talk. The bartender noticed the new arrival and hastened over to the appropriate side of the counter, sliding drinks to patrons as he did so. Drago pulled up a stool and sat on it, laying his folded arms on the bar.

"Drago," he nodded. "What brings you here?"

"Nothing, really," he replied. "I'm just looking for someone... a young woman with crimson eyes and pale white hair, wearing a black coat over a loose shirt and leggings. From what little of her cards I saw, I think she runs Six Samurai." The bartender pursued his lips and gave a slight whistle.

"You sure don't ask for much, do you? Six Samurai are a top level Deck, what makes you think this 'young woman's still down here?"

"She looked like she was hounded... being chased," Drago commented. "I think she's hiding out from someone." He recalled the look in that young woman's eyes when she had faced Taiga.

"Even so, I haven't heard about her. I can keep my eyes and ears open if you want though."

"Thanks... I appreciate that," the Evil Hero-user replied softly.

"What's so special about her, anyway?"

"I don't know," Drago muttered, unfolding his arms and resting his elbows on the bar, fingertips lightly touching. "That's part of the problem." He glanced around the bar slowly, taking in the other patrons, ensuring they weren't being overheard or watched. Everyone else seemed very much uninterested in the dark-clad young man talking with the bartender so he continued. "I don't know who she is or why she's important, I just know that somehow she is important and she knows more about what's going on than I do."

"And what is going on?"

"I don't know that either, just that she's involved... somehow," he admitted, casting his gaze downwards to the top of the bar. The bartender was about to respond, when a shout from the other end of the bar drew his attention.

"I've gotta go," he said. "Feel free to hang around and think things over." With that, he bustled away, leaving Drago staring at the wood of the bar-top. The young man thought, contemplating the Vessels, Flamvell Nidhogg and the mysterious Kisara... the three points swirled around his head, puzzling and confusing him. Who was Black Flare and how was he connected to the Vessels? What was Kisara's connection to Taiga? What were the Vessels planning? There were too many questions and no answers in sight..

His train of thought was broken short by the sound of the door behind him opening and footsteps resounding. The fact that for some reason the rest of the bar fell practically silent led him to turn and see just who had come into the place.

She drifted in, clad in a pale white shirt and knee-length black skirt, lines of icy-blue running across the shirt to create intricate patterns. Her soft, pale white hair cascaded down her neck and onto her shoulders, the strands tossed slightly by the breeze before the door closed behind her, a curtain of white obscuring one of her eyes from view, the other a warm shade of blue. The young woman smiled, leaving everyone dumbstruck as they looked at her, and calmly slid onto a bar stool two places down from Drago. The noise slowly returned, but the chatter had one definite subject – the young woman.

Drago remained silent. He could feel chills running up and down his spine, something had changed the instant she had entered the bar. He laid a hand on the bar-top, and found it colder than he remembered. Something was definitely wrong. The young woman glanced at him and he looked away, gazing at the wall until he felt her stare leave him and glanced back to see her regarding the group of D-Wheelers in the corner, who eyed her back and chuckled to one another. A stab of disgust ran through Drago at that.

A tense situation developed and endured for about three minutes, in which Drago sat, warily regarding the young woman. The D-Wheelers kept their eyes on her too, but there were distinct looks of desire in their eyes which showed that they didn't sense the same things Drago did. The Evil Hero-user shook his head slightly, something was going to happen.

Finally, one of the D-Wheelers stood up. He was a tall, arrogant-looking young man, wearing a blue, white-trimmed riding suit. On his arm was a Duel Disk with the same pale blue and white colors, and his long dark brown hair flowed over his neck as he took a step, only to have one of his fellows stop him with a hand to the shoulder. Brief, quiet words were exchanged, before the blue-clad D-Wheeler tugged free and crossed the room.

Drago stood up, regarding the man carefully as he approached the young woman. Brown eyes flashed to golden as the duelist looked on.

"Hello there," the D-Wheeler smiled, turning up the charm. "You look beautiful today." The white-haired young woman glanced at him, still keeping one eye hidden behind her hair. "Why don't you come over with me and the others?" She regarded him with a somewhat chill look.

"No, thank you," she replied.

"Aw, come on... a pretty face like you should have some company..."

"I'd rather not."

"Come on..." he said, somewhat teasingly. "Please, for me..." A dangerous chill settled in the young woman's eye...

"Haven't you gotten the message?" The D-Wheeler turned and glared at Drago as the Evil Hero-user stepped up. "She's not interested. Leave her alone."

"And who do you think you are?" the other young man replied, smirking.

"Call me Drago," the dark-clad young man answered. "Why don't you go back to your seat and get another drink?" His golden eyes glared compulsion at his counterpart, but the D-Wheeler laughed.

"What, and leave her for you? I see your game. Get me gone, then go straight to work."

"No... I'm not interested," Drago retorted.

"Sure you aren't," the D-Wheeler replied, smirking even more as a spark danced in his eyes. "Then why don't you leave us alone in peace?" Drago gritted his teeth. Why couldn't this idiot just listen and go? Otherwise, he could tell things were going to turn ugly.

The young woman just seemed completely uninterested with the two young men apparently arguing over her, just sipping lightly at whatever it was she had ordered.

"Because clearly she doesn't want to be left alone with you." Drago's fingers were just itching to clench into a tight fist and sock the D-Wheeler with a punch to the jaw, but he forced that urge down. Violence wouldn't do anything other than get them all thrown out and Security called.

"She'll come around." The D-Wheeler smirked even more.

"I doubt it." Drago's expression was grim by comparison. "I think... what's your name?" He glanced down at the young woman.

"Akina," she replied softly, but coldly.

"I think Akina isn't interested, and she's made that clear," the Evil Hero-user finished. "So why don't you go back with your friends, sit down and have a drink?" Again compulsion accompanied the words, but again the D-Wheeler shrugged it off.

"What's your problem? Why don't you go and sit down, and stop interfering?" he pointed out. "I don't want any trouble, but you're digging yourself a hole."

Drago sighed. "I'm digging a hole? Akina here made it clear to you she isn't interested."

"For now," the other young man said, smiling brightly at the young woman, who just kept sipping her drink, but Drago could see her other hand, which hung down clenched into a trembling fist, clearly the D-Wheeler was irritating her. He could already feel the air temperature dropping.

"Fine," he muttered, raising his arm to bare his Disk. "Why don't we Duel? If I win, you leave Akina alone. If you win, I'll go back to my seat and leave you to it." The D-Wheeler gave a crooked smirk.

"Make it a Riding Duel and you have a deal."

"Alright... I'll play this your way, then," Drago retorted. "Let's go." He turned and strode out, the other D-Wheeler following him. Behind them, the group of D-Wheelers in the corner stood and followed, clearly wanting to see how this went.

Akina sat at the bar, still sipping her drink, eye sparkling. "Interesting..."

SS09

Drago slid his Duel Disk into a compartment within his D-Wheeler, placing the Deck back into its box on his belt before mounting the machine. Nearby his opponent was mounting his own D-Wheel, an emerald green, blue-trimmed model with a draconic theme, wing-like fins cutting out gracefully to either side of the back.

Both D-Wheelers placed their Riding Decks into place and started their engines, Drago's opponent smiling as his fellows clapped him on the back. The two moved, taking up a position on the road.

"We'll use this block as the course," Drago decided.

"Fine with me," the other D-Wheeler smirked confidently. "Get ready to sit and watch me win that girl." Drago sighed again and just tapped his console as his opponent chuckled and did the same. "My name's Saito. Make sure you remember it."

"Duel Mode, engaged. Field Spell Card, Speed World, active. Autopilot, online. Riding Duel," the computer chimed as both consoles transformed, Duel fields forming on them as the card panels of the D-Wheels slid into position and glowed with rainbow Momentum light, the purple aura of Speed World enveloping the streets around them and painting the sky with darkness.

"Set," The two D-Wheelers took up five cards each.

"On!"

"Riding Duel, acceleration!" the two D-Wheelers shouted as one, racing off down the street.

Drago 8000LP 0SPC/Saito 8000LP 0SPC

"The challenged first!" Saito snapped, drawing once to give himself six cards. "I place one card face-down," a reverse Spell/Trap appeared, "and place out a monster in defense!" A reversed defensive monster appeared before him. "Turn end!"

Drago 8000LP 0SPC/Saito 8000LP 0SPC

"Draw," Drago called as they accelerated (Drago 1SPC) (Saito 1SPC). He grimaced as he skimmed his hand.

"I summon The Light – Hex-Sealed Fusion!" A sphere of shimmering light descended and coalesced into a spherical creation made from an ugly meld of golden flesh from many creatures, beams of white light shining through the cracks in the patchwork (1000/1600).

Next, I place one card face-down," the card appeared, "and The Light attacks your monster!" Spears of light formed around the Hex-Sealed Fusion and shot forwards, impaling Saito's monster, a long, lithe purple dragon coated in bright golden armor (1200/800). The monster was shattered, leaving the spears to break into shards.

Regardless, Saito smiled. "I activate Soul Rope! By paying one-thousand Life Points, I can Special Summon a Level Four or lower monster from my Deck, like Dragunity Tribus!" In a flash of whirling gusts, a grim-looking bird-man with white angelic wings formed, drawing feather-like daggers from his belt (500/300).

(Saito 7000LP)

"Next, since Tribus was Special Summoned, I can send a Level Three or lower Dragon from my Deck to the Graveyard!" Dragunity Partisan slipped from his Deck and he placed it into his Graveyard.

"I end my turn," Drago concluded.

Drago 8000LP 1SPC/Saito 7000LP 1SPC

"I draw," Saito declared (Drago 2SPC) (Saito 2SPC). "I summon Dragunity Dux!" A whirling cyclone screamed up beside him, shattering to reveal another bird-man, this one half-hawk with large metallic wings, clad in light Roman-style armor and wielding a baton adorned with white ribbons (1500/1000). "Because I Normal Summoned Dux, I can Equip him with a Level Three or less Dragunity Dragon from my Graveyard, like my Partisan!" Dux raised his free hand, and a golden short-sword with a purple dragon-shaped hilt appeared in it, glowing with light.

"And what does that do?" Drago asked. He knew that the Dragon-Type Dragunities had effects which mostly only worked when they happened to be equipped.

"Right now, that's not relevant," his opponent replied. "But Dux gains two-hundred points for each Dragunity card on my field!" Dux began to glow with an emerald aura (2100/1000).

"Damn..."

"Dragunity Dux, attack his Hex-Sealed Fusion!" Dux raced forwards as a streak of white and black, slashing with the golden Partisan-sword and cleaving The Light – Hex-Sealed Fusion in twain. The strange homunculus shone brightly for an instant before shattering, then the sword ripped across Drago.

(Drago 6900LP 1SPC)

"Dragunity Tribus, direct attack!" Tribus rushed to Drago as Dux retreated, slashing with his daggers across the young man twice before leaping away.

(Drago 6600LP 1SPC)

"Now I end my Battle Phase," Saito smiled, "and use Partisan's effect, which makes Dux a Tuner!" Drago's eyes widened. "I Tune my Level Four Dragunity Dux to my Level One Dragunity Tribus!" Dux held his sword aloft and closed his eyes before bursting into four stars. The stars shone brightly, expanding into rings, and Tribus leapt back into them, fading into light and becoming a single star that was held at the heart of the rings. Emerald light burst from the skies and crashed down, forming a radiant pillar through the rings and engulfing the star...

"The raging tempests howling through the heavens carry a warrior to his true battles! Let the heart of the winds give you courage among the fires of war! Synchro Summon! Descend, Vortex the Whirlwind!"

The emerald pillar was ripped apart by a screaming burst of wind like a cyclone as the monster was revealed, a brown-feathered owl-man with an emerald mask coating his face. Vortex's wings spread as he shrieked, clenching clawed hands around the blade-tipped chain he wielded, the monster's fiery orange eyes glaring down at Drago from above (2100/700).

"I end my turn with a face-down," Saito concluded, leaving Drago staring up at Vortex as the reverse card appeared.

Drago 6600LP 1SPC/Saito 7000LP 2SPC

Drago drew silently, scanning his hand (Drago 2SPC) (Saito 3SPC).

"Because you control a Synchro Monster," he said, "I can Special Summon Mirror Resonator from my hand." He played the card and a monster resembling the King's Dark Resonator appeared, a small jester-like Fiend wielding a drumstick and tuning fork. Attached to its back was a colossal purple-rimmed mirror, crowned by demonic wings (0/0). "Mirror Resonator's Level becomes equal to the Level of one of your Synchro Monsters, like Vortex the Whirlwind!" An image of Vortex the Whirlwind appeared in the Resonator's mirror, causing the monster to glow (Level 5).

"Next, I summon Synchro Fusionist." The second card was played, causing the shadows alongside Drago's D-Wheel to flow up and form into a bright orange, demonic creature with mad green eyes (800/600). "Finally, I Tune my Level Five Mirror Resonator to my Level Two Synchro Fusionist! Synchro Summon!"

Mirror Resonator cackled, striking its tuning fork with its drumstick. The fork resonated and vibrated, shattering the Tuner into five shining stars that turned dark as they encircled Synchro Fusionist and formed rings, shattering the demon in a violent burst of shadow. Two stars shone from the shadows, before darkness burst from the earth and consumed the Synchro Summon...

"Sometimes for justice to reach its rightful victory, mercy must be put aside. Dark hearts, hardened hearts, show yourself in the form of a king whose thirst for justice is all that matters! Synchro Summon! Cut them down, Chaos King Archfiend!"

The darkness fractured and burst, releasing a slender, demonic form, clad in dark blue armor over mauve cloth. A bone-white mask covered its face, dark smoke billowing out like a mane around its invisible skull, and its arms flexed, revealing long, curved blades of dark bone. Wings of hellfire burned out and took form, spreading behind Chaos King Archfiend as it flew beside Drago in eerie silence (2600/2600).

"Since I used Synchro Fusionist as Synchro Material, I can add a Fusion or Polymerization Spell Card from my Deck to my hand," Drago continued. "I choose Speed Spell – Hell Fusion." An emerald-rimmed card slid from his Deck and he placed it into his hand. "Now, Chaos King Archfiend, attack Vortex the Whirlwind! Diabolic Judgment!" The Chaos King roared and burst towards Vortex, drawing back its scythe-blades. "When Chaos King Archfiend attacks, I can switch the attack and defense scores of all your monsters for this Battle Phase!" An infernal, burning aura surrounded Vortex, causing the avian Synchro to groan (700/2100), before a slash of Chaos King Archfiend's scythe ripped it in twain, causing Vortex to shatter.

(Saito 5100LP 2SPC)

"Because you destroyed Vortex the Whirlwind in battle, I can Special Summon a Level Four or lower Winged Beast from my Deck!" Saito smirked. "Come out, Mist Valley Falcon!" In a burst of swirling wind, a humanoid figure formed, a white-haired man clad in a green leather halter and kilt, wielding a sword which glowed with an icy aura and a shield set with a ruby. Dark brown wings burst from his shoulder blades as the Falcon glowered at Chaos King Archfiend (2000/1200).

"I end my turn," Drago concluded.

Drago 6600LP 2SPC/Saito 5100LP 2SPC

"I draw," Saito smiled, tearing the card from his Deck (Drago 3SPC) (Saito 3SPC).

"I open the Trap Card, Another Road!" The Trap lifted, depicting two D-Wheels leaping high into the air. "This Trap makes another path, by letting me place a Field Spell under it and having Another Road gain the Field Spell's effects! So I'll place Dragon Ravine under Another Road," he took a card ejected from his Disk and slid it into the Spell/Trap slot underneath Another Road, "and my strategy can take off!" Instantly, the area around them faded and was replaced by canyon walls, with dragons soaring through the air all around. The two rode along what seemed to be clouds in the middle of the Dragon Ravine, and Drago looked around at the Speed World-tainted vista.

"So, what does this do?" he asked.

"I activate the effect of Dragon Ravine via Another Road!" Saito smiled. "By tossing a card," he calmly placed a copy of Spiritual Wind Art – Miyabi into his Graveyard, "I can either add a Level Four or less Dragunity from my Deck to my hand, or send a Dragon-Type from my Deck to the Graveyard. This turn, I'll go for the former!" Dragunity Legionnaire slipped from his Deck. "I summon Dragunity Legionnaire!" Taking up the card, he immediately slashed it onto his D-Wheel's card panel. In a screaming whirlwind, another bird-man appeared, diving out of the canyon to hover beside him.

Legionnaire clenched his fists, clad in a white tunic and kilt, with golden bracers and greaves. Emerald wings spread behind him as he slid into a battle-ready position, raising his fists (1200/800). "When Legionnaire is Normal Summoned, I can equip a Level Three or below Dragunity Dragon to him from my Graveyard, like Dragunity Javelin!" Legionnaire raised a hand, and a large javelin appeared in it, gold trimmed in purple. "Finally, I use Dragunity Legionnaire's effect, sending a Dragunity from my Spell and Trap Zone to the Graveyard to destroy one of your face-up monsters!" Drago's eyes widened as Legionnaire drew back its arm and hurled the javelin forwards, impaling it through Chaos King Archfiend and shattering the demonic Synchro into black shards, before the javelin itself shattered.

"No," Drago snarled softly, he was defenseless.

"Dragunity Legionnaire, direct attack!" The Legionnaire shrieked a battle cry and raced forwards, hammering a fist into Drago's shoulder and shuddering the young man's D-Wheel with the impact.

(Drago 5400LP 2SPC)

"For Mist Valley Falcon to attack, I have to send one of my cards back to the owner's hand," Saito commented, "so I'll return my Legionnaire." Dragunity Legionnaire transformed into emerald energy and flew back to the D-Wheeler's hand, where it reformed into a card. "Now, Falcon, direct attack the player!" Mist Valley Falcon soared back and spun, slashing with his blade across Drago, who snarled in pain.

(Drago 3400LP 6SPC)

"What?" Saito exclaimed as he read off the Speed Counter gauge. Drago smiled, holding up a card.

"I used Death Accel," he explained. "With this, when I take damage, I don't lose Speed Counters and instead I gain a Counter for every five-hundred points of damage I took." He rapidly accelerated, slipping Death Accel into his Graveyard and passing his opponent as Mist Valley Falcon swooped back to Saito.

"I end my turn with a face-down," the D-Wheeler muttered, placing the card into his D-Wheel's card panel.

Drago 3400LP 6SPC/Saito 5100LP 3SPC

"I draw," Drago smiled (Drago 7SPC) (Saito 4SPC).

"I activate Speed Spell – Angel Baton." He pulled two cards from his Deck and promptly slipped a copy of Stygian Street Patrol into the Graveyard. "Next, Speed Spell – Repulse Rebirth!" The Spell appeared, depicting an Evocator Chevalier holding his blade aloft towards a burning comet in the sky. "Due to the effect of Repulse Rebirth, I can Special Summon a monster from my Graveyard whose Level is equal to or lower than my Speed Counters." In a surge of radiance, The Light – Hex-Sealed Fusion reappeared beside him (1000/1600).

"Why would you... wait, you're Synchro Summoning again!" Saito exclaimed.

"Wrong, actually," Drago replied quite calmly, smiling as he played a Spell Card. "I activate Speed Spell – Hell Fusion!" A second Spell formed, this one showing Elemental Heroes Sparkman and Clayman fading into an inferno of violet flame amidst the aura of Speed World, with a hulking shadow behind them framed by lightning bolts. "Hell Fusion lets me fuse together materials for a monster which can only be summoned via Dark Fusion, like my Elemental Hero Sparkman," a bolt of lightning struck in a flash, leaving behind a golden-armored hero wearing a blue bodysuit under the armor, his face covered by a mirrored visor and sparks flickering around his hands, "and my Hex-Sealed Fusion counting for Elemental Hero Clayman," the monster reformed into a glowing, golden image of the blocky golem-hero, "to summon...!"

Violet flame consumed the two monsters and their silhouettes swirled into one as their cries of pain and despair sounded, then lightning flashed and thunder boomed.

"Injustice, beware the darkness of the clouds and the thunder roaring overhead! The bolts which connect heaven and earth carry a devil to punish your sins! Fusion Summon! Roar, Evil Hero Lightning Golem!" Drago called out, raising a hand towards the suddenly turbulent heavens.

Shining bolts struck into the flame as one, blinding the two with radiance, before fading and leaving only a single silhouette, which emerged. A colossal figure, coated in crackling lightning, stepped forwards, glaring at Saito through his visor as he clenched his fists, jagged lightning-shaped spikes adorning his heavy battle armor (2400/1500).

"Evil Hero?" Saito echoed. "That makes no sense! How can a hero be evil?"

"One can't protect their loved ones only with kindness," Drago murmured. "Evil Hero Lightning Golem's effect! Once per turn, I can destroy any monster you have in play! Voltic Ball!" The sphere of crackling darkness formed between Lightning Golem's massive hands and shot at Mist Valley Falcon, shattering the monster on impact. "Lightning Golem, direct attack on the player! Hell Lightning!" Lightning Golem raised his hand and cast bolts of crimson lightning from it towards Saito...

"Trap Card, open!" the other D-Wheeler called out. "Scrap-Iron... wait, why won't it activate?" His Trap Card remained resolutely face-down.

"Scrap-Iron Scarecrow," Drago replied. "That card targets, and due to Hell Fusion's effect, monsters summoned by it gain immunity to targeting effects during that turn. So my Lightning Golem's attack goes through!" The crimson lightning struck Saito, who cried out in pain as he was briefly consumed by an unearthly crimson flash of aura.

(Saito 2700LP 2SPC)

The light faded, and Drago took one of the two cards left in his hand, slotting it into his Disk. "I place a face-down and end my turn." The reversed card appeared beside him and faded away.

Drago 3400LP 7SPC/Saito 2700LP 2SPC

"Draw," Saito snapped, wincing slightly, clearly the Hell Lightning had hit hard (Drago 8SPC) (Saito 3SPC).

"I activate the effect of Dragon Ravine via Another Road, and use the second effect, discarding a card to send a Dragon-Type from my Deck to the Graveyard!" He placed Speed Spell – Acceleration Draw into the Graveyard, before taking Dragunity Brandistock from his Deck and sliding it into the slot.

"Now I summon Dragunity Legionnaire!" The emerald-winged soldier descended from above, clenching his fists (1200/800), "and I equip him with Dragunity Brandistock!" Legionnaire raised his hand and a short pole arm topped by a bladed point appeared in it. "I send Brandistock to the Graveyard to destroy your Lightning Golem!" Legionnaire hurled the weapon at Evil Hero Lightning Golem...

"I activate the Trap Card, End of Gluttony!" Drago countered, raising a hand. "This renders one of my Evil Hero Fusion Monsters immune to destruction by card effects for this turn!" Lightning Golem calmly raised a hand, burning with infernal power, and caught the Aklys-javelin, crushing it in his hand until it burst into pixels.

"I end my turn with a face-down," Saito finally muttered, after staring at Lightning Golem for a short while, the reverse card appearing before him. The aura from End of Gluttony faded away from Lightning Golem's form.

Drago 3400LP 8SPC/Saito 2700LP 3SPC

"I draw," Drago called (Drago 9SPC) (Saito 4SPC).

"I summon Fiendog!" With a mechanical snarl, the black, demonic robot hound leapt from the air and began running beside him, growling darkly (800/1200). "Now, Lightning Golem, destroy his Legionnaire! Voltic Ball!" The sphere of crackling darkness ripped from the Fusion Monster's hands and struck Dragunity Legionnaire, obliterating it. "Direct attack with Hell Lightning!" "Almost there... then hopefully whatever that girl is won't be a risk to him..."

"Open Trap – Descending Lost Star!"

Drago swore under his breath. "Why can they never just go along with what's best?"

"Descending Lost Star brings back a Synchro from my Graveyard in defense mode with zero defense and one less Level!" Saito declared as Vortex the Whirlwind burst from a corona of shimmering light (2100/0/Level 4).

"If I call off Lightning Golem's attack now, I'll lose it for the turn and do nothing..."Drago thought bitterly. "Lightning Golem, destroy Vortex the Whirlwind!" The crimson lightning bolts struck Vortex the Whirlwind, flaying it apart into pixels.

"I use Vortex the Whirlwind's effect to Special Summon my second Dragunity Legionnaire!" From the pixel remains came a twin of the monster that Lightning Golem had already destroyed earlier in the turn (1200/800).

"I end my turn," the Evil Hero-user muttered.

Drago 3400LP 9SPC/Saito 2700LP 4SPC

"I draw," Saito said, smiling as he saw the card, so much so he barely registered the speed increase which followed (Drago 10SPC) (Saito 5SPC).

"I summon the Tuner Monster, Debris Dragon!" With a soft shriek, a pale dragon whelp with a long, pointed nose and dark wings appeared from a whirling cyclone (1000/2000). "When Debris Dragon is Normal Summoned, I can Special Summon a monster with five-hundred or less attack points from the Graveyard!" Debris Dragon shrieked again, causing Dragunity Tribus to form from a flash of emerald light (500/300).

"And I Tune my Level Four Debris Dragon, to my Level Three Dragunity Legionnaire and my Level One Dragunity Tribus, to Synchro Summon...!" Debris Dragon shrieked for the third time, bursting into four emerald stars which shone as they expanded into rings. The two bird-men leapt upwards, sinking into the rings and shattering into four more stars, which aligned. Finally emerald light shot down from the heavens and consumed the Synchro Summon...

"The strong have the right to dominate the weak, as knights rule over peasants! The weak shall tremble in the presence of the strongest Dragunity Knight! Synchro Summon! Obliterate, Dragunity Knight Barcha!"

A pair of immense black, green-trimmed wings exploded open, shattering the Synchro Summon to reveal a massive emerald-armored, serpentine form. The colossal dragon descended, roaring as it spread its arms and wings out wide, black armor coating its torso, its visible scales a deep purple hue. Astride its back, an emerald-armored bird-man brandished a lance, shouting a battle-cry to the heavens (2000/1200).

"I activate Dragunity Knight Barcha's effect! When he's Synchro Summoned, I can equip as many Dragon-Type Dragunities as I like to him from the Graveyard! I choose Javelin, Partisan, and Brandistock!" The short sword, the javelin and the pole arm formed, attaching to the mount's armor within reach of the rider. "And Barcha gains three-hundred points for each!" The colossal Synchro began to glow with energy (2900/1200).

"No..." Drago muttered.

"Barcha, attack his Lightning Golem!" Saito commanded. Dragunity Knight Barcha burst forwards, and with a stab of the rider's lance, Lightning Golem shattered into pixels, the impact hammering Drago.

(Drago 2900LP 10SPC)

"Because Brandistock is equipped to Barcha, it can attack twice! Destroy his Fiendog!" The emerald dragon's claws lashed, and Fiendog was ripped in twain, shattering into a burst of sparks as the claws tore across Drago, making him cry out in pain.

(Drago 800LP 8SPC)

"Because you destroyed Fiendog, I can bring back an Elemental Hero and a Spell Card for a Fusion Summon from my Graveyard," Drago groaned, taking Sparkman and Speed Spell – Hell Fusion from his Graveyard. Barcha retreated to Saito's side as the D-Wheeler smirked.

"Turn end," he chuckled. "This is nearly done..."

Drago 800LP 8SPC/Saito 2700LP 5SPC

"How can I stop him now? I can't summon a monster strong enough to... no! I have to win this... otherwise things could be far worse," Drago thought as he drew(Drago 9SPC) (Saito 6SPC).

His eyes fell to the card he had drawn, and widened in shock, flashing golden. "You..."

"Are you going to make a move, or are you just going to put your hand over your Deck now?" Saito asked. Drago smiled as he looked up at his opponent, taking a card from his Graveyard.

"I remove Stygian Street Patrol in my Graveyard from play," he said, taking the card gracefully and sliding it into the slot on his card panel, "to let me Special Summon a Fiend with two-thousand or less attack points from my hand. I summon..." He took that card from his hand and slashed it onto the card panel... "Yubel!"

Something appeared beside him, looking like a black, leathery cocoon, before it opened, revealed as the wings of Drago's monster. As the wings spread, it was cast into light, an androgynous humanoid form, half-white and half-black with shades of purple running across its arms and right shin. Below its wild white and black hair, a baleful yellow eye glared from its forehead, and below that two more eyes glowed, one orange, one lime. Yubel smirked darkly at Drago's opponent, before glancing to the man himself with a wicked smile on its face (0/0).

"What the hell is that thing?" Saito asked, seeming somewhere between disbelief and laughter. "A Level Ten with zero attack points? Are you screwing with me?"

"No. I'm deadly serious," Drago retorted, playing two cards in quick succession. "I summon Sparkman," a bolt of lightning struck, coalescing into the hero of light and thunder (1600/1400), "and set a face-down, then end my turn." Upon these words being spoken, Yubel turned to Sparkman, leering darkly as it reached out. The instant it made contact, Sparkman convulsed, armor fracturing before he burst into a dark mist which flowed into the androgynous fiend.

"What?"

"In each of my End Phases," Saito's opponent explained, "I have to Release a monster or destroy Yubel."

Drago 800LP 9SPC/Saito 2700LP 6SPC

"I draw," Saito called, tearing the card from his Deck with a smirk (Drago 10SPC) (Saito 7SPC) as Drago's face-down lifted up.

"I activate Battle Mania," he smiled. "This forces all the monsters you have out right now to attack in this turn's Battle Phase."

"Are you trying to lose?" the incredulous Saito questioned. "If that's what you want, I'll give it to you! Dragunity Knight Barcha, attack Yubel!" The instant the command left his mouth, Drago smirked and he knew he'd made some kind of terrible mistake.

Regardless, the Dragunity Knight erupted forwards, drawing back its lance. As it stabbed for the Fiend, Yubel raised a hand, and the blow was stopped by a wall of thorny vines which burst up around it, forming a cocoon around the androgynous monster as it smirked and gave a dark laugh.

"Yubel cannot be destroyed in battle," Drago explained, "and I take no Battle Damage when she battles." He smiled slightly. "Instead, you take the Battle Damage."

The lance was drawn back when the rider realized the attack was useless, only for the cocoon to burst apart and all the vines to shoot at Saito, plowing into him and lashing him with their thorny lengths.

Drago 800LP 10SPC/Saito 0LP 5SPC

The two D-Wheels skidded to a halt and the monsters faded away, Yubel lingering for a second. Drago smiled and nodded to her, the Fiend nodding slightly in return and giving a mischievous smirk as she faded into nothingness. The Evil Hero-user's eyes brightened from golden to their usual brown, and he regarded Saito.

The other members of the D-Wheeler group pulled up around him, offering words of support, curses at his loss, and other group comforts.

"Our wager stands," Drago called to them. "You leave Akina alone, Saito."

"Screw you... that card is absolute bull," Saito spat. "I never heard of anything so broken before in my..."

"Just because Yubel turns power back on its user does not make her broken, Saito," Drago snapped. "If you want to complain about Yubel, why not complain about Honest or Half Counter, they do pretty much the same. Our. Wager. Stands." His eyes flashed golden for an instant, and all of the D-Wheelers before him froze, suddenly feeling stabs of fear. "Am I clear?"

"Uh... yes?" Saito quickly answered. He and the other D-Wheelers quickly departed, wanting to get as far away from this strange young man as possible. Drago stood and stared after them with a sigh, before taking Yubel's card in his hand and staring down at it.

"Thank you." He glanced back, startled, to see Akina, the young woman looking at him neutrally. "Thank you for that."

"It was nothing... I could see he was irritating you," Drago replied, quickly placing Yubel's card back onto his Deck.

"Yes, he was," she agreed. "And who knows what might have happened?" There was a slight smile on her face which made this innocent statement far more threatening and sinister. The fact that even from where he stood, several meters away from her, Drago could feel the cold aura emanating from her form only made this worse.

"What indeed?" he finally replied, causing her to chuckle slightly. "Truth be told, I quite enjoyed that." She smiled.

"I'm glad I got to give you some entertainment, then. It's a pretty cold night for that... I hope it heats up soon." Her eyes seemed to flash as she spoke. "Anyway... I need to get going. Maybe I'll see you around." With that, she turned and walked away, but Drago's mind was stewing with thoughts...

'I hope it heats up soon...'

SS09

Card Stats:

Monsters:

Mirror Resonator
LIGHT/ Fiend/Tuner /Level 1/ATK: 0/DEF: 0
If your opponent controls a Synchro Monster(s) and you control no Synchro Monsters, you can Special Summon this card from your hand. This card's Level is the same as 1 Synchro Monster your opponent controls.

(Mirror Resonator was first used by Jack in the 5D's episode 'Clashing Souls!' Creative credit for it goes to the writers of 5D's.)

SS09

Dragunity Knight Barcha
WIND/ Dragon/Synchro/Effect /Level 8/ATK: 2000/DEF: 1200
1 Dragon-Type Tuner + 1 or more Winged Beast-Type non-Tuner monsters
When this card is Synchro Summoned, you can select any number of Dragon-Type "Dragunity" monsters in your Graveyard and equip them as Equip Cards to this card. This card gains 300 ATK for each "Dragunity" Equip Card equipped to this card.

(Dragunity Knight Barcha was released in Duel Terminal – Pulse of the Trishula in the OCG. It will be released later this year in Hidden Arsenal 4: Trishula's Triumph.)

Spells:

Constrec Element
Quick-Play Spell Card
Image: A bolt of lightning flashing down and splitting a hero into two halves, one half Elemental Hero Gaia, the other Elemental Hero Great Tornado.
Return any number of "Elemental Hero" Fusion Monsters you control to the Extra Deck and Special Summon that many "Elemental Hero" Fusion Monsters from your Extra Deck with the same Level as the returned monsters. (This Special Summon is treated as a Fusion Summon.)

(Constrec Element was first used by Judai in the GX manga chapter 'The Threat of the Sun!' Creative credit for it goes to the writers of the GX manga.)

SS09

Speed Spell – Repulse Rebirth
Normal Spell Card
Image: Evocator Chevalier standing in Speed World and holding his blade aloft towards a comet shooting over the sky.
Activate only while you have 4 or more Speed Counters. Select 1 monster in your Graveyard whose Level is equal to or lower than your Speed Counters and Special Summon it. That monster cannot attack and is removed from play in the End Phase.
SS09
Speed Spell – Hell Fusion
Normal Spell Card
Image: Elemental Heroes Sparkman and Clayman fading into an inferno of violet flame within Speed World as a silhouette of Evil Hero Lightning Golem looms over them from behind, framed by lightning.
This card is treated as 'Dark Fusion' while it is in your Deck or Graveyard. Activate only when you have 4 or more Speed Counters. Send, from your hand or your side of the field to the Graveyard Fusion Material Monsters listed on an 'Evil Hero' Fusion Monster and Special Summon that Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck (this Special Summon is treated as a Fusion Summon with 'Dark Fusion'). The Special Summoned monster cannot be targeted by your opponent's card effects this turn.

(The above two cards are my own inventions and creative credit for them goes to me. Speed Spell – Repulse Rebirth was first used in the original Seven Spirits chapter 'Sonic Psychic, Hyper Drive Dragons'.)

Traps:

Another Road
Continuous Trap Card
Image: Two D-Wheelers leaping high into the air.
This card can only be activated when there is a field spell card on the field. After activation, you may take one field spell card from your deck and place it underneath this card. As long as this card is face up on the field, this card has the effects of the field card placed underneath it.

(Another Road was created by fellow fanfic author Lux-Nero. Creative credit for it goes to him, as does thanks for letting me use it.)

SS09

Death Accel
Normal Trap Card
Image: A D-Wheeler in a black and orange helmet gritting his teeth as he rides along at high speed.
You can activate this card when you receive Battle Damage through an opposing monster's attack. The damage from this battle does not decrease your Speed Counters and adds 1 Speed Counter for each 500 point intervals of Battle Damage you received.

(Death Accel was first used by Mukuro Enjo in the 5D's episode 'Flame Revenger: Speed King – Skull Flame'. Creative credit for it goes to the writers of 5D's. It was known as Doom Accelerator in the dub.)

SS09

End of Gluttony
Normal Trap Card
Image: Evil Hero Dark Gaia catching a powerful energy blast in his hands and letting it soak into his palms.
Select 1 'Evil Hero' Fusion Monster you control. The selected monster cannot be destroyed by your opponent's card effects during this turn. You cannot Special Summon 'Evil Hero' monsters this turn.

(End of Gluttony is my own invention and creative credit for it goes to me. Credit for inspiration goes to Square Enix.)

SS09

Featured Card:

Dragunity Knight Barcha, Yubel, Evil Hero Lightning Golem, Another Road, Chaos King Archfiend

Today's featured card is Chaos King Archfiend. This powerful Synchro Monster can only be summoned with a Fiend-Type Tuner, but it makes up for that with a powerful effect, the power to switch the points scores of your opponent's monsters when it attacks. With this card in play, you can take a strong offensive field and reduce it to cannon fodder for your monsters to rip apart and leave your opponent's Life Points in tatters. Or you can take a seemingly-unbreakable barricade of defensive monsters, and blast it to rubble. Either way, Chaos King Archfiend is a worthy investment if your Deck has the right Tuner Monsters to bring it out.

SS09

Next time on Seven Spirits, the forces are converging. Neo Domino is about to change, and things may never be the same again for our heroes. To find the truth, sometimes, you have to descend into the darkness... and that's right where Julian's headed in search of the Vessels and Black Flare...

It's Chapter 10 – Contract with the Abyss...