A/N:Shark x OC? No, I don't know what I'm doing either, I really don't. :/ (I felt like trying something new. Something I haven't done before.)

Duels will be conducted with a 4000LP format. Because I play TCG, and GENF (+YS11) begins the ZX era, cards from those two packs and onwards will use OCG names to reduce the whiplash that comes from seeing things like 39: Utopia, instead of 39: Kibou Ou Hope.

edit 10/8: I meant YS11, not SD11. wtf, brain? (And nobody noticed? D:)

This is set before episode 10.


Phoenix Rising by Kiyuzanova

- I -

The abandoned game shop, in the outskirts, had long closed down for years. Chipping yellow paint brushed the walls, aside cracked concrete and bruised floor tiles. For one to enter the area, they first needed to make their way through a myriad of seedy streets. Then a worn, spiralling staircase led downwards to the entrance, the walls to either side tight as if their creation had only been an afterthought, choking any who wished to proceed.

It was not exactly the place that one could call home.

Inside the shop, Ryoga sat in his usual seat; a section of the stairs that led to the upper floors. It had once been some sort of arcade more than a game shop, in all honesty, with all the tables for card games spread across the bottom floor. Old, broken sets of arcade machines circled the area and the above, screens chipped though there existed the odd one hotwired to bearably working condition.

Ryoga felt his hands twitch, itching for the long-gone boxes at his belt. The faint whisper of cards in his hands, and the ghostly tingle of paper cuts that now existed as faded scars.

Do it, the voice whispered.

Shut up, he thought. Shut the hell up.

But do you want me to?

He refused to answer, and closed his eyes. Soaking within the inky, limitless depths, he allowed the tendrils of black light to twine through all vision. Slowly he counted to ten at a constant pace, immersing himself within the rhythm pulsing in the back of his mind; one of many Pseudo-meditation techniques he learnt once ago.

They suppressed the wants and the urges, but they would never work for long. Their effectiveness was fading. Whenever the voice returned, it only proceeded to grow closer. More tantalizing. He knew it would only be a matter of time until it came back to taunt him again.

A sudden choking sensation washed over him without warning. Get out, the signals said; as if they were a series of augmented traffic lights each trying to flash green and red simultaneously. The darkness that once comforted him now cut off all the oxygen to his lungs as the tendrils wrapped around his throat. They twisted, warped, tying knots around him and began creeping down his collarbone—

Ryoga snapped his eyes open. Then he checked his watch; a barely a minute had passed.

Only?

He glanced around. The atmosphere created by obscurely dim lighting and excessive use of neon tubing remained the same; didn't change. It draped over the people who were crowded and duelling around the tables. A few members of the gang cursing in the corner fussed from inside a broken vending machine, trying to wire it back to life through the complicated process of trial and error.

Sometimes it slipped his mind, the fact that he was now one of them. A gangster. Tsukumo Yuuma would have a field day the way he was now, after their duel.

Before the phantom itches could appear again, the sound of steps caught his attention. Only two people in the gang had those footsteps. In one practised motion, Ryoga stood up and met their eyes.

They were built so much in contrast with each other - Rikuo with darkened skin and bulky muscle, and Kaio far lighter, possessing muscles deceptively thin but strong like cords. Rikuo made no effort to hide his, with chains wrapped around his arms and a singlet tight and thin enough that it may not as well exist, whilst Kaio's white suit added a slimming effect to his limbs and effectively hid anything that would have been within sight.

Ryoga could see, even before any of them spoke, that the other two were not accustomed to his staircase. Only the faulty seventh step creaked with a special pitch, and the hand Kaio rested on the rickety banister would not have been a smart move.

Ryoga spoke first. "What is it?"

"Time to bring in the money," said Rikuo.

The money. Protection fees; extortion.

"It'll be your turn this week, Shark," added Kaio. "And since you're new here, we'll teach you for now."

"What do I do?"

"It's normally our turn so you can tag along. But next week, you're with Ginji."

"Sure," Ryoga said. He stood up, and searched for his keys. "Whatever."


They'd led him through the territory, all the way to the edges of the downtown district; an area from the moderately-rich to the low-mid income families. It formed the other end of the journey, a journey taken quickly and easily on their motorcycles. Especially with Heartland's new motorcycle lanes. And so far, each of the businesses handed the money across with a scowl but without complaint.

Money that would be splurged on cards and booze, probably at the same shops they took it from.

There had been a small stint with police, wherein two uniformed officers entered the building they had been in. The changes in Rikuo and Kaio's eyes became too fast to follow, similar enough to a conversation on fast-forward - a conversation where Ryoga had no say. But it passed without incident; the officers only handed a photo toward the owner, exchanged a few quick words and left, never sparing a time for the aisles where Ryoga watched from afar.

Incompetence.

Rikuo and Kaio were efficient - deadly efficient - and their little tour took no more than an hour and a half. Only one place remained; a small restaurant. The two eyed Ryoga and gestured forward, indicating it was his turn.

Ryoga parked his motorcycle, and approached the traditional paper doors. When they slid open, he realized that they were in fact large sheets of paper stuck to an automatic glass doorway, and that there were little torches inside the shop's flimsy paper lanterns. The wooden floor was real, but a few large tatami mats of the cheap variety were spread in an irregular pattern, as if there were something to hide.

There were no customers.

"Welcome!"

He turned to see a girl approach him from the counter. She was small, with a petite nose and unusually rounded cheeks, but somehow stood tall enough to reach his eyes. Under the apron and the light jacket, the blue slivers of Heartland Central's uniform peeked out, the skirt switched into a pair of durable, black pants.

"How may we serve you?" she asked. "Would you care for some of the famous Miyashita miso...?"

Ryoga held up a hand, and she trailed off as she spotted the twin dice embossed onto his ring. A one and a six; the symbol of Rikuo and Kaio. The mark of the Roulette. Her expression warped into a scowl, and brown eyes blazed.

"You again. Didn't you have enough fun trashing the place last time?" she demanded. "I'm sick of this."

Her voice attracted the attention of an elderly man coming out from a door.

"Asumi," the elderly man said, "what's wrong?"

"Them, grandpa."

The elderly man's eyes hardened. He twisted his hands on the cloth between his hands, but still peddled to the counter. Asumi shook her head at him and the obedient action. She gestured at the doorway to the kitchen, and a silent exchange ensued before the elderly man did as she wished.

"Hey, you," she said to Ryoga, reaching behind her for the ties to her apron. "Duel me."

"I don't duel."

The apron rose off her shoulders, and she hung it on a hook nearby. Then she turned back, arms akimbo, allowing him full view of the senior uniform. "Right. And you're not frigging Shark Kamishiro."

"I no longer duel."

"You think I want to duel for fun? We're duelling for the money."

"I said I no longer duel. Give it to me."

"No. I won't give you anything unless you beat me. What happened to the former National Champion candidate – did losing to Tsukumo Yuuma bring you down, you useless fish?"

Ryoga glared. "You—"

"Duel me," Asumi repeated. "If you win, you get the cash and I don't tell anyone I saw you here. If I win, you leave us the hell alone. What do you say?"

"I—"

"This isn't a choice. I know you've got your Deck on you somewhere, so don't bother trying to hide it. You either duel me and you win, or you leave."

Ryoga didn't answer. Did he dare divulge the black smears, give them what they wanted? Or would it be better to just run away, run away from failing the Roulette that gave him someplace to stay?

"Fine," he growled. "Let's go."

He reached into a pocket for both the deck and the D-Pad stored there, things he never wanted to use. She hopped a few steps back and smiled – a smile more like a grim smirk.

"Alright. D-Gazer, set!"

Ryoga clicked his D-Gazer on and affixed the D-Pad to his wrist with less enthusiasm.

ESTABLISHING LINK BETWEEN A AND B, the mechanical voice said, and the augmented surroundings rose up around the two. AR VISION, LINK ESTABLISHED.

"Duel!"

[ Asumi: 4000 ] - - - - - [ Shark: 4000 ]

"I'll go first," Asumi added, drawing a sixth card to her hand. "I summon Frontline T. A.!"

A summon portal appeared on her field, a scout in red and grey armour rising from the light [ATK 1300/DEF 1300/*3].

"Frontline T. A.'s effect allows me to add a Tactiv monster to the top of my deck," she said.

Programming a series of codes into her D-Pad, it found her wanted card, shuffled the deck and then placed it on top. During that time, the scout took the horn from its belt and then blew into it, the picture of her chosen card appearing for both players to view - Tactiv Scorcher.

"Two cards facedown, end turn."

Ryoga drew his card just as the two facedowns appeared on her field. Then he picked another card in his hand. "I activate Aqua Sorter. If I have two copies of a Fish-type monster in my deck, I can banish one to add the other to my hand. I choose Killer Frilled Shark."

"They said you played fish but I didn't think they were serious," commented Asumi, just as he did as his spell card commanded. "Looks like that's where you got your name from."

He ignored her.

"Because I activated a spell card, I can special summon Big Jaws from my hand." His own summon portal appeared, from it emerging a reef shark surgically modified to possess a set of metallic teeth [ATK 1800/DEF 300/*3].

"I stand corrected," she said. "That's where you got your name from."

"I normal summon Killer Frilled Shark." A slim, golden carpet shark appeared, one with razor blades for fins [ATK 700/DEF 1500/*3]. "Big Jaws attacks Frontline T. A. Go, Big Mouth!"

Big Jaws dove forward, clamping the steel prosthetics around the scout's torso. Frontline T. A. disappeared into a shower of sparks.

[ Asumi: 3500 ] - - - - - [ Shark: 4000 ]

Asumi tapped her console. "I activate my trap, Spectral Footprint. By paying 200 life points, I can prevent a monster from being destroyed by battle."

She waved for Spectral Footprint's effect to apply and the sparks gathered together, forming Frontline T. A.'s appearance again. Her life points went down.

[ Asumi: 3300 ] - - - - - [ Shark: 4000 ]

Ryoga frowned slightly at the development, but it was nothing he couldn't deal with.

"Overlay!" he said. "The level three Big Jaws and the level three Killer Frilled Shark will open the network."

Each monster's form blurred, becoming orbs of glowing, luminescent light. They wove, dancing around each other in a spectacular lightshow, and traced the edges of a different type of portal.

"Exceez Summon! Rise, Underwater Warship - Aero Shark!"

When the light dimmed, the creature that emerged could only be a victim of scientific curiosity. Two sharks, rippling muscles and leathery flesh, welded together with orange-painted steel that formed the wings of an ancient plane. The same metal mechanism folded around their snouts, over their eyes and back toward the dorsal fin [ATK 1900/DEF 1000/Rk. 3]. The two orbs of light from the creation of the portal now circled around Aero Shark, indicating the presence of twin overlay units.

"I activate Aero Shark's effect. By detaching an overlay unit, I can inflict 400 points of damage to your life points."

One of Aero Shark's mouths snapped out, closing around the unit that used to be Killer Frilled Shark and swallowing it whole. The other mouth charged a water blast, intending to sic Asumi for 1600 damage. But she pressed yet another button on her console.

"I activate my trap, Nullification Draw. If I would take effect damage, I can reduce it to zero and draw one card."

Aero Shark launched the blast. The back of her drawn card appeared to shield her, absorbing the attack. Then the augmented card flipped around - Tactiv Scorcher.

"When Tactiv Scorcher is drawn outside of the Draw Phase, I can special summon it." She slapped it onto her D-Pad's duel field extension, and a fiery spirit appeared [ATK 1500/DEF 800/*3]. "You done?"

Ryoga glanced over his cards. He placed one facedown, and nodded.

Asumi drew a card.

"I activate the spell, Magical Mallet. I can return any number of cards from my hand to my deck, then draw that many cards."

The backs of two cards appeared for Ryoga to see before they disappeared. Her deck then shuffled, and two more cards appeared again. One of them flipped around - Tactiv Material.

"Tactiv Material's effect activates. When it's drawn outside of the Draw Phase, I can special summon it."

When Asumi placed it onto the field and a safety deposit box appeared [ATK 0/DEF 0/*3], the fiery spirit blazed and sent sparks heading in Ryoga's direction.

[ Asumi: 3300 ] - - - - - [ Shark: 3500 ]

"Tactiv Scorcher deals 500 points of damage when a Tactiv monster is special summoned with its effect," she explained. "Now, these three monsters will open the overlay network!" They too blurred and became orbs of light, tracing her own Exceez summon portal. "Appear, Tactiv Future Seer!"

A curtain of green fabric appeared; a voluminous cape. It belonged to a tall, imperious woman, with head held high, a crystal ball cupped within both hands. Her features were androgynous, strands of long, white hair wisping over silver-embroidered robes [ATK 1900/DEF 800/Rk. 3].

"Now I summon Tactiv Interchange," added Asumi, and a uniformed officer jumped from the portal to land beside her other Tactiv [ATK 1600/DEF 300/*3]. "Tactiv Future Seer attacks Aero Shark! Prediction Spark!"

Future Seer lifted the crystal ball, its glow increasing in radiance as she did so. Then she adjusted her grip, sending the charged burst of energy arcing across the field. Before it could hit the other Exceez, however, Ryoga raised a hand.

"Activate trap: Poseidon Waves. This negates your attack, and then inflicts 800 points of damage if I control a WATER-type monster."

A sudden torrent of water knocked the blast away. The wave kept moving, swerving across the field to hit Asumi in the chest.

[ Asumi: 2500 ] - - - - - [ Shark: 3500 ]

As she righted herself, Asumi grit her teeth. She knew if Future Seer battled Aero Shark she'd only win with the effect of Spiritual Footprint, but the battle's negation...

"I activate Future Seer's effect," she said. "If I detach a unit, I can look at the top three cards of my deck and replace them in any order."

Future Seer lifted an arm, catching one of the three orbs of light. She placed it inside the crystal ball, allowing Asumi to check the cards, and when they were replaced the light disappeared. Then a safety deposit box with two compartments appeared.

"When Tactiv Material is sent to the graveyard, I can either gain 600 life points or inflict 400 points of damage." She turned to the box. "I'll gain life points."

The box glowed. The door to the left compartment unlocked itself then swung open, allowing a cool breeze and a series of blue sparks to settle around her person.

[ Asumi: 3100 ] - - - - - [ Shark: 3500 ]

"I end my turn."

"Dra—" Ryoga reached for his D-Pad, but his fingers hit the casing. Casing that prevented players from adding extra cards to their hands when they weren't supposed to.

"I haven't finished," answered Asumi, to the unspoken question. "In the End Phase, Tactiv Interchange's effect activates. I can draw one card."

The officer lifted the baton in his right hand and it glowed with an orange light. The image of a card appeared, permitting her to add one to her hand. Then the augmented image flipped over, revealing it - Tactiv Armoury.

"Special Summon," said Ryoga.

"You catch on quickly," said Asumi. "All Tactiv monsters can special summon themselves if they're drawn outside of the draw phase, and they all have different effects. And these were all cards I checked earlier with Future Seer's effect. I summon Tactiv Armoury in defence mode!"

A man with a sheathed wakizashi blade emerged, landing in a crouch [ATK 1600/DEF 0/*3]. He drew the blade and stood up, pointing it forward, and the back of another card appeared. It flipped over as well - Tactiv Collector.

"If Armoury is summoned with its effect, I can draw another card. Tactiv Collector is summoned." Another man emerged, one in a dark suit and neatly trimmed hair, gold-rimmed spectacles positioned perfectly on his nose [ATK 200/DEF 1600/*3]. "If Collector is summoned, you discard a random card."

Representations of Ryoga's hand appeared on the field, facedown, and Collector lifted the book in his hands. He flicked through it, and then placed two fingers on a passage. The resulting bolt of yellow light burnt one of the cards to a crisp; Ryoga placed Aqua Jet into his graveyard.

"That's all," she said.

The casing slid aside for his Draw Phase, and allowed him to draw a card. Ryoga glanced at the three cards in his hand. Spiked Sunfish, Shock!, Fly-Fang. No, there were not enough.

First things first.

"I detach Aero Shark's last overlay unit to inflict 400 points of damage for each card in my hand," he said. Aero Shark again ate a unit and blasted her with water.

[ Asumi: 1900 ] - - - - - [ Shark: 3500 ]

"I summon Fly-Fang." A great purple shark emerged, twin pairs of leathery wings beating as it did so [ATK 1600/DEF 300/*3]. "If Fly-Fang attacks a defence position monster, it inflicts piercing damage."

Asumi's eyes widened. She glanced at her cards - especially Armoury's 0 points of defence.

"Fly-Fang attacks Tactiv Armoury," continued Ryoga. "Wind Shock!"

Soaring upwards, Fly-Fang flapped all four wings at once, creating a huge, swirling blast. Armoury tried to use his wakizashi but the wind reached him before he could even lift it, and he shattered into a flurry of pixels.

[ Asumi: 300 ] - - - - - [ Shark: 3500 ]

Asumi bit her lip, and shook her head. Small beads of sweat began to accumulate at her brow. "I don't activate Spiritual Footprint's effect."

"After dealing battle damage, Fly-Fang banishes itself from the field. Aero Shark attacks Tactiv Collector; Big Eater!"

The man in the suit similarly shattered after Aero Shark's high-speed bite. But this time, Asumi waved a hand and the pixels reformed.

"I pay 200 life points to prevent Collector from being destroyed," she said.

[ Asumi: 100 ] - - - - - [ Shark: 3500 ]

Ryoga looked over at her field - Tactiv Future Seer, Collector and Interchange sat as her monsters. Spectral Footprint was her only card in the Spell/Trap zone, and she had one card in her hand. He set a card and motioned for her to go.

At first, she did not continue her play. Her expression wavered a few times as she too took time, taking stock of her resources. That turn would be her last, unless she played well.

Interchange raised the baton in his left hand, and it glowed red.

"Because I drew a card last turn with Interchange's effect, I skip my Draw Phase," she explained.

Ryoga nodded.

"Tactiv Collector and Tactiv Interchange will open the overlay network." The network opened, the two Tactiv monsters circling the edge. "I Exceez Summon; Tactiv Strategist!"

The person that appeared could have easily been Future Seer's counterpart. His thick blue robes were edged with neat silver. Cropped white hair framed a slightly feminine face, and slim pianist's fingers were wrapped around a long, sphere-tipped sceptre [ATK 2000/DEF 200/Rk. 3].

"I'll detach a unit to use Strategist's effect—"

"Trap activation: Shock!," Ryoga cut in. "I can use this when an effect monster's effect activates. By shuffling one of my banished Fish, Sea Serpent or Aqua-type monsters into my deck, I can negate the activation and destroy the monster."

"What—No!"

Just as Strategist lifted his sceptre and absorbed one of his two overlay units, a shark appeared from nowhere. Its mouth wide open, it easily swallowed the sceptre and the arm holding it, and the two disappeared in a burst of sparks.

"No... that, that..."

Ryoga shuffled Killer Fried Shark back into his deck, and sent Shock! to the graveyard.

"Surrender," he said.

"What...?"

"Just surrender. There's no way for you to win."

Asumi clenched her teeth. "I'll win. I have to win."

"It's the middle of your turn. You have 100 life points. Nobody can pull a comeback at this point."

"...Tsukumo Yuuma can." She must have noticed the sudden change in his expression, because she continued on. "I can tell by how you play. The only way he could win against a deck like yours is by a last-minute turnaround."

"You are not Tsukumo Yuuma."

"But I can turn this around! I activate Future Seer's effect!"

Future Seer took her second overlay unit, leaving one remaining, and allowed Asumi to look over the top three cards. Asumi's eyes shifted as they trailed over the three cards and scanned the rest of the field. Ryoga's unwavering chokehold, her minimal control over the field...

She eventually placed the second card on top and left the other two in the same order.

"One card facedown," she said. Now her hand sat empty, but her eyes were determined. "Your turn."

Ryoga drew.

"Draw Phase," he said. "I activate Mystical Space Typhoon, and target your face-down card."

"Trap, activate; Compulsory Evacuation Device! I can send one monster on the field back to the player's hand. I choose Aero Shark!"

Ryoga took Aero Shark off the field and returned it to his Extra Deck, seeing as Exceez monsters could not exist in a person's hand. Then he and Asumi placed their used cards into the graveyard upon the completion of the chain.

"In the Standby Phase, Fly-Fang is returned to my side of the field."

As he returned the card and the purple shark appeared again, Asumi watched him apprehensively. They both knew she could not do anything until her next turn, with no cards in hand and no spells or traps set.

Ryoga took stock of what he had. No, there would be no next turn.

"I summon Spiked Sunfish," he said, and a disc-shaped fish emerged [ATK 1500/DEF 100/*3]. "Now my two monsters will open the overlay network!"

"That..."

"Go, Exceez Summon! Rise again, Underwater Warship - Aero Shark!"

Asumi hissed at Aero Shark's reappearance [ATK 1900/DEF 1000/Rk. 3], but then looked to Ryoga's empty hand. She sighed, and Ryoga could see why; Aero Shark and Future Seer shared the same attack, and with only one monster on either of their fields there would be no way for him to deal the full 100 points of damage he needed.

But there was one thing she had been overlooking.

"I activate Aero Shark's effect, and detach an overlay unit."

"You've got no cards in your hand so you can't inflict any damage."

"I only wanted the cost—for when Spiked Sunfish is sent to the graveyard, it can lower the attack of one monster you control by 500 points."

"No..."

"Aero Shark, attack Tactiv Future Seer! Big Eater!"

Aero Shark dove forward, mouths open. They clamped around each of Future Seer's arms and she shattered. Its momentum continued driving it forward, and forced Asumi to take a few steps back despite the image being AR.

[ Asumi: 0 ] - - - - - [ Shark: 3500 ]

= WIN: SHARK =

Asumi stood there for a few seconds, as Ryoga packed his D-Pad and D-Gazer away. There was an odd pause; her determination to win, both parties' awareness of her reasons, and her subsequent loss hung heavy in the air. In that time she just glared at him. A jumble of thoughts whirled within her eyes, and it were as if she were berating him for joining the Roulette; as if she didn't know why he would throw his life away.

Abruptly, she shook her head and growled. She stormed back to the counter. There she opened the till and slammed it shut, heading back to stuff the bills in his general direction.

"Take your stupid money," she said. "It looks like you've got better things to do than come here and go to school."

He took it, but didn't move.

"Tsukumo Yuuma is a pathetic excuse for a duellist." He wondered why he was saying this; he wondered why he needed to clarify. "He's only words, and doesn't know when to give up."

Her expression flickered briefly, though he'd long looked away.

"But," he added, "if people like him can win through lucksacking, there's no need for people like me to keep duelling."

Ryoga left without a second glance, holding the money in his hands.

He didn't want to duel. He never wanted to duel.

He just felt sick.


This duel's featured card:

Tactiv Future Seer
(WIND - Psychic - Rank 3 - ATK 1900 - DEF 800)

3x level 3 monsters.
Once per turn: you can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; view the top three cards of your Deck (you do not show your opponent) and replace them in any order.


A/N: This is an experimental fic that I've been sitting on for a while. If I get enough interest in this, I'll start the next chapter, but otherwise I seriously don't care.

(If you would like the full effects of any original cards that appeared, leave a signed review so I can reply.)