A/N: Why, hello there, Present Tense. Why so addictive? =/
For Tier 5 of Season 8.5 of the YGO fic contest here on ff-net. The pairing is Staunchshipping – Honda x Mana x Kisara.
This fic suffered a major genre derailment at 2.5K and I was never able to bring it back under control. I did, however, make the end meet my initial idea – which, now that I think back on it, puts under question my primary genre choice anyway. In short: Pot, meet Kettle. You're a staple now.
Warnings: morbid details.
Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi and all associated companies are the rightful owners of the Yuugiou! franchise and I claim no association with any of them. No copyright infringement intended with this and no money is being made from this. Please support the creator by purchasing the official releases.
Sors Immanis Et Inanis
Things like these usually don't happen to him, Honda thinks. Things like these are usually more up Yuugi's alley; world-saving and all that. What with being the King of Games and all, he thinks. But then – what's happening right now is no game. Even though it looks like one of Bakura's RPG board games come alive (Monster World – that was the name, he recalls; and didn't they have that already, once?) it's all real. Honda has pinched himself at least a dozen times over to make sure that he is awake and now the red spot on his forearm buzzes annoyingly. Though, in all honesty, the steely grip this scrawny girl has on his arm hurts enough to confirm the same. With this girl being dressed up as Dark Magician Girl (rose-pink and baby-blue clothes, pointy oversized hat, without the staff and with skin much darker than the actual picture on the card), Honda at first thinks her a cosplayer of some sort, having come to attend a duelling event. Until he notices her companion – Kaiba's Blue-Eyes White Dragon floating just a small distance behind her. Floating. Up in the sky. In the flesh; or armour, or scales – or whatever dragons these days are supposed to be covered with. No matter what super-advanced holograms Kaiba can come up with, none of them have the actual presence; such an ominous looming feeling of being real. In addition, Honda knows that no Duel Monsters' events are being held on this day, and the very real and very dangerous duel monsters running amok in the city, causing damage left and right, further serve to prove him wrong – or right, all depending on the perspective.
"Come on," the Dark Magician Girl urges, pulling on Honda's arm. She is impatient and practically running, hurrying somewhere.
Mana, Honda has to remind himself. Her name's Mana. She introduced herself that way seconds before dragging him off to… wherever they are going. They dodge monsters on their way, and Honda blearily ponders on just what has gone wrong in the world this time to unleash the images from the cards onto the real world again. The Blue-Eyes White Dragon silently floats overhead and Honda can't help but feel intimidated – even though the dragon shields them from being attacked and scares off any monsters who as much as think to look at them oddly. Honda also wonders why the Blue-Eyes isn't at Kaiba's side, as it should be.
"Hurry," Mana grouses, tugging him down a street and around a corner. They are nearing the practically abandoned industrial part of the city where there are mostly warehouses and hangars, only few of which still have some kind of business running. Mana stops in front of one such seemingly in occasional use warehouse. The windows are barraged with random materials, but the lock on the door is brand new.
"Our friend is in there. You have to get her out," Mana declares, finally letting go of Honda's arm.
Honda blinks, rubbing the place she had been gripping on sheer inertia. Frowns. Shoves his hands into his pockets and gives Mana a once-over (for what has to be at least the dozenth time in as many minutes).
"Can't you do it yourselves? You're a magician girl, right? You should be able to get in no problem with your magic. Or that dragon could, you know, blow the place apart. I've seen Kaiba and what he does with his Blue-Eyes."
Mana sighs exasperatedly. "We can't. See?"
She points at the door of the warehouse, or rather – at something beside the door. Honda follows her pointing finger with his gaze. There is an amulet hanging next to the door; one that's meant to ward off spirits. Oh. Oh.
"The people who caught her are gone now, so it should be easy enough for you." Mana's voice borders on terseness and she crosses her arms for extra emphasis while drilling him with a steady gaze. She can't help but think that modern day humans aren't all that bright, on the average.
Right after materialising in the human world, Mana lost her staff in a clash with a Theban Nightmare, at the same time getting separated from her master. Her life was saved only by the intervention of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon who annihilated the creature. Shortly after, she witnessed how two humans caught and dragged off one of the smaller monsters, bickering about selling her to some circus show – whatever that is supposed to mean.
Honda feels insulted. He's not a scaredy-cat, not by a long shot. It just occurs to him that he hasn't asked, "Why me?" even once. Yuugi is the one to always deal with things like these, and Honda can't quite fathom why it should be any other way this time. There had been many people back on the street where he first ran into the duo, but he was the one being seized by the arm – simultaneously saving him from a creature trying to maul him, but that's clearly beside the point. He didn't sign up for any rescue missions, but he feels this isn't the right moment to be pointing that out, either.
So Honda does what he has to do: checks the surroundings to make sure that no one else is around, takes a quick walk around the warehouse to find a way in other than by picking the lock because that is bound to draw attention. Finding that one sheet of plywood covering a window is somewhat loose, Honda works it completely open. As he makes his way in, his foot trips over some crates inside and the world tumbles around him until he manages to grab a hold of the windowsill to steady himself. For a moment he stands there frozen, his heart thumping in his throat, but all is quiet and nobody rushes him from the dusty shadows. He slowly and carefully makes his way through the afternoon twilight ruling inside, past stacks of crates and boxes. It takes him a while to find the one crate with the captured monster in it – though how can he call her this when she looks so human… Thinking of it makes Honda feel uneasy. What he can make out in the dim light is a little human being, about the size of a ten-year-old child; a small girl with hair the brightest red that shines through even in the lack of light, and skin as blue as juniper berries. It takes a while to notice her wings – glimmering transparent red in the light streaming through some cracks in the walls. Currently the wings are bent at an odd angle because the cage is too small to allow her enough room. The next thing that registers with Honda is that she doesn't have even a single scrap of clothing on.
The girl pulls back when Honda approaches, crushing her wings against the bars and whimpering in pain.
"It's okay," Honda hastens to say, though it has little effect on the frightened being. "I'm here to help you."
He struggles with the padlock on the crate. When it doesn't yield, he searches around for anything to break it with. Every now and then he stops and listens in to make sure that nobody is coming. He manages to find a crowbar – brand new, still with a price tag and the distributor's sticker on it – and uses it to break the latch on the cage. Next he struggles to get the little sprite out of the crate. Frightened by her captors, she now thinks of all humans as aggressors and scratches and bites at any part of Honda that gets within her reach.
"Hey, hey, chill! I'm trying to – ouch, damn it – to help you!"
It's a good thing that Mana, who has been lurking under the open window, calls out in an odd language at this point. Whatever she says obviously calms the sprite and the tiny being hesitantly lets Honda pick her out of the crate and carry her over to the window. He hands her over to Mana who lifts her outside. The Dragon's shadow blocks out the sun when Honda follows.
"Thank you!" Mana beams up at him, as she sets the sprite – who echoes a barely audible and shy 'thank you' of her own – down and turns to leave. "We should go now."
The Blue-Eyes White Dragon glides forward, Mana right on its heels – or rather, tail – with the sprite's hand held tightly in her own. Noticing that Honda doesn't follow, the magician girl turns back to frown at him.
"Why're you still standing there? Let's go!"
There are a quite a few things wrong with all of this, but the only one Honda manages to point out is, "She can't walk around like this."
"The little girl. She's…" Honda struggles with the word, "…naked. It's… People will stare."
People are going to stare for a variety of reasons, if they aren't running for their lives at the time, but that somehow slips past Honda's attention. Another ting that he entirely misses is the moment he agrees to run around with the Dark Magician Girl and the Blue-Eyes White Dragon (and he thinks he's slowly starting to get Kaiba's obsession with it, as outrageous as that sounds), helping them save other monsters from human abuse.
Mana tilts her head, considering his words for a moment before pulling off her hat and rummaging inside it like any illusionist Honda has ever seen. She produces her staff from within it – what remains of it, really – and squints. Never before has she attempted to cast a spell with a broken staff and she's unsure of the results. Then again, never before has it been broken.
"Uh, y'know…" Honda cuts in, his face heating up slightly because it's very embarrassing for him to look at the naked girl in the sunlight. In the dim light of the warehouse it hadn't been so noticeable, and the entire situation just feels so wrong on so many levels. "You could just use my jacket."
True to his words, he takes it off and offers it to her. Mana beams up at him again and snatches it out of his hands.
"Thank you! You're really nice!"
Honda murmurs something unintelligible and turns his head away. All of this feels very, very awkward.
Mana helps the sprite to put it on, but takes it off again as soon as the sprite hisses in pain. The jacket doesn't offer much room for her bruised wings.
"You wouldn't have a knife, would you?" Mana asks and sighs when, after quickly checking his pockets, Honda shakes his head. A moment of unsuccessfully pulling at the sleeves to check if she can't just tear them off later, Mana has no other choice but to use magic. With utmost concentration she points the curled end of her staff at one shoulder and the sleeve comes off with a loud tearing noise.
"Not what I had in mind," the magician girl mutters, but points her staff at the other sleeve anyway. An uneven and fringed cut is better than nothing.
Honda isn't exactly thrilled to see his jacket being ruined, but it's too late to complain now – he offered it up himself and it's obvious that the sprite can't wear it without damaging her wings even more the way it is. And she definitely can't run around naked. With the sleeves off, her wings have more room, jutting out of the arm holes like an odd sort of accessory and Honda finds that it's less awkward to look at her now. With a resolute sigh, he gives up his belt as well upon seeing that the jacket doesn't properly hold on the scrawny being and instead gets in the way of her movement more than it covers up her nakedness. Honda only hopes his trousers don't come falling off at some disadvantageous point.
"So," he begins, unsure if he wants to hear an answer or not, "what's next?"
"Next we find the one who caused this," Mana says, looking grim and serious at once. "You're going to help us, right?"
Honda has feared this answer, but he finds himself unable to refuse.
"It was Dartz last time. Maybe someone with a connection to him?" he offers.
Mana shakes her head without giving his suggestion much thought. "No, it's not Orichalcos this time; its power is already mostly gone from this world. It's something else. It's different."
"Okay. Wait. Wait…" Honda frowns, catching on to her words. "What do you mean – "mostly gone"? I thought Dartz was gone for good."
"He is, and so is the Orichalcos stone – most of it, anyway. But magic so powerful and ancient doesn't simply disappear," Mana explains. "Just like the Sennen Items still hold their power even after their wielders are gone."
"But. That's different, isn't it?"
"No. A magical item doesn't lose its power just because its owner is lost. Magic doesn't fully disappear. It just… changes into something else, I suppose. It's… kinda hard to explain. You'd have to be a magician to understand."
Honda vaguely recalls something along the same lines from his Physics classes at school; something about energy never disappearing. He has to wonder if Yuugi knows this – that Orichalcos never really disappeared. This, in turn, makes him wonder if the Evil Bakura and the Evil Malik also fully disappeared, or if some part of them did stay behind. Mana grabs him by the arm before he can even shiver at the last thought and pulls him along, the blue-skinned sprite clinging to her other hand.
"Quit spacing out and come on! We have to hurry!"
They don't get very far before the Blue-Eyes White Dragon has to swoop down on an unlikely tandem of an ice beast and a fire beast who are trying to annihilate everything in their path. It's a vicious clash and the aftershocks of the blasts the three monsters send off reverberate through the area, incinerating everything that happens to be in the way. And while it's Mana who initially pulls them to cover behind a concrete wall – which used to be a part of a building, Honda notes dully – it's Honda who covers both the magician girl and the childlike sprite with his body to provide an additional shelter from the rubble that's hailing in all directions. He has his priorities straight even in this upside-down world where monsters come alive.
Honda would much prefer if they could get a car from somewhere to make this entire trip faster, but he himself only owns a motorcycle and it is parked too far away from where they are now. What cars he has seen so far have been damaged. Even now, on the other side of this wall, is a smoking vehicle with broken windows, splattered with something that looks too much like blood. In some of the other cars he had seen corpses and their remains, sometimes preyed upon by small monsters. If borrowing abandoned cars already clashes with his moral compass, borrowing abandoned bloodstained cars does so even more.
"We should go find Yuugi," he mutters, as another spray of gravel barrels against his back.
"My master should be with him," Mana breathes against his shoulder, her fist clenched tight in Honda's sleeve.
"You mean… The Dark Magician?"
Mana nods, her cheek rubbing against the cotton of his shirt, and it's at this point that Honda realises one thing: she's trembling slightly. He also remembers that Dark Magician Girl was the one usually in charge of the monsters the few times that they were allowed a peek in the Monster World, though this stray piece of knowledge clearly does nothing for them in this situation.
"Why didn't you go to him?"
"I did. We did," she corrects herself and shudders. "We got split up in an attack. Theinen went insane. And then that Nightmare."
Suddenly, there is deafening silence. The battle is over; they just don't know in whose favour and Honda braves a quick glance around the wall to check.
"The Great Sphinx," Mana replies in a whisper and pokes her head over Honda's shoulder at the shadow that has suddenly settled over them. One relieved sigh later she nudges Honda to let them up.
Slightly worse for wear, Blue-Eyes White flaps its wings, blowing the excess rubble and dust away from the covering trio, almost knocking them off their feet again. It might be just the distance, or perhaps something else, but Honda thinks that the dragon doesn't look all that big up close. Mana speaks to it in that same odd foreign language and the dragon lowers itself to the ground, permitting the magician girl to put the sprite on its back. The little blue-skinned being clings tightly to the scaly body, settling down atop it like a professional rider. It's the oddest sight Honda has seen all day, but, strangely enough, it no longer fazes him. Good-naturedly, he figures it'll speed up their pace and his mind doesn't do even a single somersault at the idea of going anywhere with an entourage like this.
"So where are we going again?"
"To find my master. And to find the Pharaoh."
Ah, Pharaoh. Right. Finally.
When they reach the game shop after dodging attacks and sidetracking more than once, guided by Honda because he's the only one who knows the way, they find it burnt to the ground, splatters of blood covering the rubble here and there. The house seems to have caved in on itself and there is a smouldering carcass of a deformed beast half-buried under a large piece of the roof protruding from the ruins. There is no sign of any survivors – or other corpses.
Honda stares at the destruction in horror, a pounding thought of 'we're too late, too late, too late,' coursing through his mind. It takes him a while to realise that Mana is yanking on his arm, trying to snap him out of the stupor. He looks at her, eyes still partially unfocused, and frowns. Either he's hallucinating, or her appearance has changed. Her eyes aren't as blue as he remembers them being a moment ago and instead of blonde, her hair appears to be light brown now. He looks around to see if maybe it's just a trick of light, but they aren't standing in any shadow that could explain the sudden shift in colour. Mana is saying something and it takes Honda a moment to realise that she's asking him if he knows where Yuugi – no, the Pharaoh – would go at a time like this.
Anzu. Or Jounouchi, he thinks, but before the words can make it to his lips, a low growl from the other side of the rubble forces them to turn their attention that way. The Blue-Eyes White, having floated a little ways off, now lands to let the sprite down. A creature Honda has never seen before is slowly crawling over the rubble. With a brown body that can only be described as belonging to an ogre, it makes its way over planks, and panels, and broken furniture with large green-tinted claws scrabbling along the ruin, making things crumble and slide this way and that. A black bony mask covers its face with a glowing gem sitting in its crown, around which the mask twists into short twin horns. Blue-tinged dark armour spans sections of its body, a row of bone-white pyramidal spikes running down the length of its spine, and the sickly-green leathery draconic wings with their bony ribbing remind Honda of toxic swamp fumes. The creature glances their way before setting its sights on the Blue-Eyes.
"Dragon Seeker," Mana gasps. "Oh, no!"
Blue-Eyes White Dragon moves forward, quick as a flash, and both monsters clash in the rubble of what used to be Yuugi's home. It is not a question of distance, Honda realises at this point – the Blue-Eyes has become smaller. With the Dragon Seeker towering just below three metres, it is painfully clear that the Blue-Eyes is now barely one half of its original size – and quite smaller than the other monster.
"No, no, no," Mana whines in anguish, hastily searching her hat for her broken staff.
"What? What's wrong?" Honda frowns. Vaguely, he registers the small sprite pressing against the back of his legs. She seems to be trembling, and Honda half-consciously decides that it's because of this Dragon Seeker monster.
"Dragon Seeker's monster effect," Mana explains and her tone is desperate, as she grips her staff tightly, "is to destroy dragons."
True to her words, the Blue-Eyes is losing. While its attack power is marginally bigger than the Dragon Seeker's, the Seeker's destructing effect is taking its toll. Mana shouts something in that foreign language and Honda guesses it's for the dragon to move aside, but it cannot. The Seeker has wrapped itself around the dragon in a grip that's impossible to break. Before long, Mana realises this as well.
"You have to do something," Honda says urgently. It doesn't look like the Blue-Eyes is going to last much longer. Honda hasn't been more aware of anything than he is right now of two things: the sprite clinging to his legs with bruising force, and his own helplessness in this situation. He has no weapons to fight the monsters and somehow he feels that a random pipe picked up from the rubble just won't last him long.
"There's no time!"
Her face paling and her hands shaking – from fear or concentration, or maybe both – Mana takes aim. The blast from her staff sends both monsters backwards, and upon the impact with the building behind the ruined game shop the Dragon Seeker loses his hold on the dragon. They crash through the wall and disappear from sight. Mana scrambles over the rubble to take another aim while the opening still lasts.
Having just witnessed how Blue-Eyes White Dragon – Kaiba's practically indestructible monster – got downed in a very real fight, and seeing how the frail-looking (in contrast to the hulking Dragon Seeker, anyway) magician girl clambers over the rubble to do battle with a broken staff, makes Honda feel utterly useless. The last drop in the proverbial cup comes when he hears the low growling of unidentified monsters from behind. All of a sudden, the sprite lets go of his legs. Honda veers around, afraid that the monsters have grabbed her, and almost falls flat on his ass when he sees the small sprite defiantly facing them. She has her arms outstretched to protect Honda from the two-headed wolf and the winged chimera that are crouching low in a position to strike not too far away.
Honda realises now why the sprite had clung to his legs – she must have noticed the two predators sneaking up on them. A whirlwind of emotions rushes through him because the tiny being, seeing danger, didn't say a word and let Mana go save the Blue-Eyes instead of fending off these two creatures. Sacrificing them to save the dragon is, to Honda, both brave and stupid, and desperate. Brave because it means certain death for the two of them now while giving the Blue-Eyes a chance, stupid and desperate because, if Mana fails, all of them will end up dead. Still, Honda's gut instinct tells him to save the sprite. He glances around for anything he could use as a weapon. Unfortunately for him, the wolf and the chimera choose that exact moment to attack. When they lunge forward, the sprite does something odd with her hands and the chimera clashes with the two-headed wolf in a bloody battle that sends the two rolling around in the gravel and rubble.
Honda gapes at the trembling sprite in front of him, trying his hardest to accept the fact that she just saved them. It also makes him feel that much more useless. His pride would have suffered less if the two monsters had just became more interested into tearing apart each other instead of concerning themselves with a pixie and a human. But he cannot dwell on it for long – the prominent sounds of battle in the direction of Mana and the Blue-Eyes draw his attention. He figures it's high time to leave the area for a place less safe. He grabs the sprite by the hand, urging her to retreat with him over the remains of Kame Game shop, but they make it only half way across it when some panels shift to their left and a bloodied hand appears in the crack.
Honda pauses. His mind is running over the options and he hates each and every one of them.
"Yuugi?" he tries. "Mr. Mutou?"
The hand stills for a moment, as if having heard him, before resuming the vigorous wiggling. Soon, the panels topple over, sliding down the blocks of wood and pieces of the roof, but what crawls out from that new hole is neither Yuugi, nor his grandfather. A bony, skeletal form with a hallowed expression, blue skin, and bloody cutting tools that look like they came right from the Mutou kitchen in the other hand emerges into the daylight. Honda isn't aware of actually falling down on his ass – or the mad scrambling backwards over the rubble, bruising his hands, until his back hits something and he can go no further. The skeletal form grins at the two defenceless beings and begins to crawl toward them. The little sprite casts a hasty look at Honda, and retreats to his side, pressing against his leg as if that could save her. She is powerless this time. Just as the monster lifts its knife to deliver a downwards slash at Honda, something stops its hand mid-motion. The whistling crack of a whip registers with a few seconds' worth of delay. The now trapped monster howls and writhes, but whoever is wielding the whip is much stronger. Honda turns to look up at the top of the pile that impeded his way to see a blue-haired girl in a long white dress with large cut-outs standing up there. Golden and dark red armour pieces are fitted on top of her clothes and they glint in the sunlight. She is wearing long dark red gloves and matching boots, and her stance means business.
"Get out of here, human." The whip-wielder doesn't even look at Honda as she says this, fully concentrating on the struggling monster. "You're in danger for as long as you stay with us."
Honda is too stunned to think of a reply.
"Go," the small sprite – whose skin, he notices, has begun to pale from its rich blue to a much lighter shade – whispers next to his ear. She is already standing up and pushing at his shoulder, trying to make him move. "Thank you."
Honda nods, still at a loss for words and watches how she quickly scrambles up the rubble to stand next to the whip-wielder.
"Go!" the warrior girl snaps irritably, which finally jerks him out of the stupor.
Honda nods again. "Right. Thanks."
As he stumbles down the ruins, he doesn't look back. The monster is still howling and trashing around, the battle between the two-headed wolf and the chimera is still raging on, but inside the building ahead where Mana and the Blue-Eyes are is only silence. He has no idea what he can do to help the dragon and the girl, but he feels he has to do at least something. He clambers into the hole in the wall and makes his way over the destruction inside, finding that it's not as dark as he has expected. Part of the reason for that are the large sections of missing walls. Dents and holes along the inner walls and collapsed and damaged pillars guide him through the ground floor toward the street on the other side of the building. Water is dripping down the walls and the smell of smoke is strong in the air, trails of soot showing that something fire-spewing has gone through here. At one point Honda slips on something dark and sticky. A metallic tang hits his nostrils when he inspects it closer. Shivering at the realisation that it's blood, Honda casts a more careful look around, making out a few torn and partially eaten corpses – or what remains of them – scattered around all over the place. At this same time he comes to the startling realisation of why the creatures that attacked them are skulking around this place – to feed. A chill runs down his spine and it takes him a moment to resume walking.
Turning a blood-stained corner (he desperately hopes it's the monster's blood instead of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon's – or Mana's, or those who lived in this building), he emerges on a wide street, arriving at the very centre of destruction. Blue-Eyes White dragon is a pale crumpled heap in the shadow of an opposing building to the one he just came out of. Mana's staff lies mid-street while the girl herself, lying face down, is being crushed to death under the Dragon Seeker's clawed foot. Desperate, Honda looks around for anything to throw at the dragon, wishing like never before to have a weapon – any weapon. And as if this is the day when miracles have decided to come true, Honda spots a machine gun half-buried in the rubble to his right. He doesn't question why it's there or how it got there in the first place; he just goes to grab it and aim it at the Dragon Seeker – who is already leaning down to rip into the back of Mana's neck.
The rattle of bullets does only minor damage to the monster, but it does get its attention. The Dragon Seeker turns and, after a moment of hesitation, leaps Honda's way, forcing him to back up. Honda fires off another round, then another, until the bullets end and his back is pressed against a wall. There's nowhere for him to run while the monster advances, growling low. Blood drips from its wounds, saliva – from its bared fangs, splattering the ground with each stealthily graceful step it makes. His eyes are wild and bloodshot, and for the first time in his life Honda is forced to acknowledge the spark of intelligence behind them; the one that promises a slow and agonising death. This, truly, is a day of many firsts for him.
Thankfully for Honda, the death takes a detour. The monster freezes mid-step and turns into stone. Looking around, Honda sees that it's Mana, pointing her staff at the monster with a shaking hand. She lets her arm fall with a weak moan and remains sprawled on the ground. A trail of blood on the ground maps out the way which she crawled from where the monster held her pinned down to where her staff skidded after being knocked from her hand.
Honda rushes to her side, lugging the gun with him. He pushes the stone statue over in passing, sending it falling and shattering upon contact with the concrete and ensuring that it doesn't shake off the spell. Once at the girl's side, he drops down and nudges her gently.
"Hey. Hey, thanks for saving my ass there. Hey, you alive?"
Mana groans something intelligible in response and from her chest come horrible sounds. A few bubbles of blood burst on her lips. The pressure of the monster must have cracked her ribs and damaged her lungs, Honda reasons.
"Okay. You just stay awake, okay? Y'hear me?"
Honda examines the slashes on her body, trying his hardest to cause as little pain as possible. She needs to be taken to the doctor, but the closest hospital is too far away and Honda doesn't know if carrying her would be the best thing in her current state and he hasn't seen any cars in the area in working order that he could borrow. Then he has to wonder if he will even make it all the way without running into another bloodthirsty creature. He doubts he'll find anything suitable to clean and dress her wounds on the spot – not that he'd dare to wander too far away, after having seen what the houses look like on the inside in this area. It seems like the monsters have marched through the city, decimating everything in their path and hunting down anything that could substitute a good meal.
Figuring that staying out in the open is stupid and dangerous, Honda risks moving Mana. Putting the gun down, he lifts her up as gently as he can to bring her inside the partially ruined apartment building, hiding her from the eyes of any predators that might be passing by or over them. He carefully sets her on the ground where she can't be seen from the street. On his second trek outside, he retrieves his newfound gun along with her staff and places them near Mana before going to check on the Blue-Eyes. Upon approaching it, he discovers that it's less of a dragon now and more of a… suit of armour with wings and a tail. It looks dented and horribly scratched, some deeper gashes oozing blood, but aside from that, it looks like the scales have withstood the brunt of the attack. Honda wonders what kind of creature could possibly be hiding inside it.
"You okay there?" Honda asks the now only vaguely dragon-like figure, carefully removing the rubble that has it buried, but receives no answer. While he works, he can't stop thinking about a way to help them – now that they seem more dead than alive. He knows he needs to find Yuugi – this thought is overpowering everything else, but he can't just leave behind the two beings who have been saving his ass left and right at their own peril.
Once the dragon-armour is free from the debris, Honda ventures to lift it up and carry it over to Mana. He is well aware that this isn't the best shelter for them – that it is no shelter at all, but it's the only one he can provide at the moment. He creeps through the ruined building, staying close to walls and peering around corners while trying to remain hidden from sight. He searches for any possible signs of monstrous life and any surviving humans – anything at all – but he only encounters an overbearing silence. Painfully aware that the sound of battle from the direction of the ruined game shop is now gone, he dares not venture so far to check on the outcome. He doesn't want to know if any of the monsters got away alive and are now lurking in the area, skulking around for more prey. As cruel and horrible as it seems to him, he hopes that, if the whip-wielding warrior lady lost, the ghastly creature and the other monsters deemed her and the small sprite enough of a meal to not come after him, Mana, and the Blue-Eyes. He shivers at the thought and decides to hurry up.
Completing his quick tour through the immediate surroundings – with his heart pounding in the back of his throat and his back covered in cold sweat because the gun in his hands is useless without ammunition – to make sure that there is no immediate danger, he returns to scavenge the pile of rubble where he found the gun. He doesn't know what he expects to find there: maybe its previous wielder – or a bloodied part of him, he thinks with his stomach twisted in churning knots. What he does find is a belt with packs of ammunition strapped to it and a portable version of a Gatling gun that comes with strap-on shoulder pads for easier lugging. He doesn't find even a trace of blood or human limbs anywhere and while wondering how such a weapon came to be in this place, he's not about to look a gift – or rather, a found – horse in the mouth. While working, he is struck with an idea how to help Mana and the Dragon-armour. He's not sure it's going to work, but stranger things have happened today.
"Hey, wake up," Honda gently shakes Mana awake. "You can't sleep now."
Mana mutters something indistinct in that odd language again, in which Honda thinks to pick up some patterns now. Weakly, she opens her eyes in an attempt to take in her surroundings. Honda rummages through his deck – he still hasn't had the time to construct it properly – in search of a card.
With a groan, Mana closes her eyes again. Her body hurts too much to even think, much less try to see.
"Don't fall asleep," Honda urges, leaning over her and holding a card in front of her eyes. "Look at this."
Mana struggles to open her eyes again. The world is a blur. It takes her a moment to concentrate and squint hard enough to make out what Honda is showing her.
"What…" she whispers, but her voice dies on her lips, breath rushing out in a pained hiss. She already feels dizzy from the effort, but tries to focus nevertheless. She still remembers – through a thick haze – where she is and that she is the only hope for a human.
"This card gives back life points," Honda explains, holding on to the Soul Of The Pure spell card like it's a lifeline – and it could be, for Mana. "I figure, if monsters have come alive, then everything else shouldn't be an exception. If you can… If you could… conjure up this card, maybe it'll heal you."
Mana's eyes slip shut, her chest rising and falling with each shallow and pained breath that she takes. She attempts to think, but things are so muddled that it's a futile effort. She only has one try.
"Okay," she whispers. Honda has to lean in very close to her face to understand her words. "Where is… my staff?"
Her fingers twitch weakly when she attempts to grope around for it. Honda spares her the movement by putting the broken staff into her hand. She makes a desperate sound when it slips out of her grip again.
Honda wraps his hand around hers, holding it steady.
"Okay, now what?" he asks.
"Put… put the card to the… the staff," she instructs. "Ho-hold it up."
Honda instinctively tilts it so that the image is turned toward her while keeping the end of her staff pressed to it.
"Iss- Is it…"
Mana flinches because concentrating hurts and she feels too exhausted already, but presses on. She draws up the last scraps of her magic from the farthest corners of her mind, channelling them toward one materialisation spell.
When nothing happens for a while, Honda begins to worry. He wonders, at one point, if Mana has just passed out again, but her brows, creased and twitching in obvious pain, seem to prove otherwise. Her breath is erratic and it hitches. At once, light comes streaming out of the card, engulfing her body. Honda flinches and turns away because it's too blinding for his eyes to handle. When the light fades and he can see again, the wounds on Mana's body are already closing up. Her breathing is noticeably lighter and easier, no longer accompanied by the horrible gurgling sounds from before.
She slowly blinks her eyes, getting accustomed to her surroundings, but doesn't attempt to get up just yet. She looks around, moving her head as little as possible because a spectacularly pounding headache has settled in and stars flash across her vision with the slightest movement. Her gaze falls on the dragon lying right next to her. She studies its injuries and its changed appearance in the dim light and asks something in that foreign language. Honda is certain that he can make out words now and even hazard a guess at their meaning – she's asking if the dragon is okay. The humanoid dragon doesn't answer.
"You can let go now," Mana says absent-mindedly after a while. Her voice is still weak and quiet, but she no longer stumbles over syllables.
"My hand. You can let go."
"Oh." Honda blushes a spectacular shade of pink and is thankful that Mana isn't looking his way right now. He also remembers to drop the arm that's still holding the card up.
"Can you," Mana begins contemplatively, calculating if the little bit of power she has regained will be enough to heal it, "turn the card toward the dragon? It's hurt as well."
Honda frowns. While he wants the dragon to be okay just as much – if not more, considering how many times it has saved the two of them during the day – he can't help but think it's a little too hasty.
"Do you- Is it smart? You just recovered."
"We don't have the luxury of time," Mana reminds him and her voice is terse. She risks sitting up and a dizzy spell almost forces her down again, but she persists and remains upright. Hunched over and with a face scrunched up from pain and concentration, she waits for the world to settle down and the stars to fade.
At this point Honda notices that her hair has turned jet black and has become shorter.
Mana takes a deep breath and opens her eyes, calling upon her slowly regenerating magic.
"Hold the card up. I'm ready."
Honda obeys. This time, the light springs from the card much sooner and, if that is possible, is even brighter. It also works much faster, mending the armour and erasing all of the deep gashes. This time, when Mana speaks to the dragon, she finally gets an answer. The voice from within the armour sounds oddly hollow.
"Her name is Kisara," Mana introduces after a moment of rapid-fire conversation with the former dragon, but before Honda can say anything, she shoots off a new array of questions, leaving him to quietly size up the armoured being.
Kisara. Honda wonders what the dragon looks like under the armour – or if the armour can be taken off to reveal a human-looking being with discoloured skin and ugly features like the ones on the Dragon Seeker.
"Kisara agrees that we should move," Mana informs him after a moment.
"No way! You're both hurt! We should stay here and…" Honda trails off. And what? Wait to become somebody's lunch?
"We don't have the time!" Mana stresses. "Something weird is going on and the sooner we find the Pharaoh and my master, the sooner we can get this sorted out."
When Honda doesn't say anything, Mana continues, "Now, where would the Pharaoh go?"
"To check up on Anzu, probably. Or Jounouchi."
"Okay." Mana nods. "Can you take us there?"
"Yes," he agrees reluctantly and picks up the found weapons, strapping them on. Then adds, "Anzu's place is closer. Let's start there."
Mana nods and tries to get up. It takes her two attempts to stand and she is swaying from side to side. She hisses in irritation and leans on the wall for support. Kisara, on the other hand, can't manage even that much. After the third attempt makes her fall back down on her knees, Honda helps the dragon up and keeps his arm around her for support. Apparently, the scuffle with the Dragon Seeker has caused more than external damage.
Kisara mumbles something low, which he can't understand. Then, realising this, clears her throat – which is an odd scraping sound, subdued by the armour – and tries again.
"Think nothing of it," Honda reassures the dragon, as they make their way down the street, keeping close to the walls for support and shelter – however insignificant that is in their current situation. Kisara's claws scrape against the concrete as she forces herself to move forward.
"I owe you, guys."
When Mana stumbles and falls, Honda holds out his hand for her. She takes it reluctantly and allows him to pull her up.
"Thank you," she mumbles low when he puts his arm around her back and keeps it there.
"We're almost there," he says instead of replying to that.
This is the first time in a while when they see humans and Honda gets his hopes up high… before noticing that something is off. The people wander around as if in a daze – not seeing where they are going, mindless of things that surround them. They run into walls, trees, and lampposts, run into each other. Some stay where they are, groping around blindly, some are curled up on the ground, muttering something incoherent, and some others are swaying from side to side, gesticulating wildly. It looks like a madhouse – not that Honda has ever been to one.
"What is…" he starts to say when he feels Kisara shudder at his side. He glances at her in concern.
Honda follows the direction in which Kisara's head is turned and sees a purple-cloaked being wielding a scythe. When it turns its head their way, Honda sees that, instead of a face, it has a hollow skull. The sight makes him feel uneasy.
"We should go," he says, pulling Kisara and Mana along down the street.
The Spirit Reaper's laughter follows them and it sounds like rattling bones.
As they round a corner leading up to Anzu's place, they are forced to stop. The area is swarming with ghostly creatures that chase around people who all appear to have gone mad. They roam around, trying to escape the ghosts while the spirits weave around them, ghostly laughter filling the air.
Looking on at the scene, Mana grits her teeth. "Let's go. How much further?"
"Third house on the left."
As the trio walks onward, the ghosts circle around them as well, laughing madly. They don't do anything else – yet – perhaps seeing that Honda is in the presence of monsters. The door to Anzu's house is wide open and there is no one inside it. He leaves Kisara and Mana in the living room while he searches the rest of the house only to confirm that it has been abandoned.
When he returns to the living room, Mana is standing by the window and looking out at the street.
"We need to go," she says. "Something is coming this way."
"Alright. Then, to Jounouchi's place."
Kisara, who had been quite heavy before, seems to have become much lighter, Honda realises upon helping the dragon up from the couch. At the same time he notices that the armour from arms, legs, and torso has disappeared, replaced by scaly skin. The shoulder pads, gloves, hip and shin guards seem to have become larger in contrast, though. The helmet has changed as well, now covering her face only from nose up and small frills have sprung up over the ears. He glances at Mana, checking if she has changed in any way, but she hasn't, and since she isn't commenting on Kisara's changes, Honda doesn't either.
When they make it back outside, Honda can see for himself that something is brewing. Some sort of uneasiness hangs in the air. Only the dazed people are still roaming the street. All of the ghosts have risen high up in the air, circling around as a mock cloud above the area and their tittering laughter is only a weak echo. It reminds Honda of the movie scenes where flocks of crows circle battlegrounds, waiting to prey on the fallen. A cold shiver runs down his spine and he speeds up his pace, all too eager to leave the place.
Only when they're a good deal away from Anzu's home does he think of calling her cellphone. He could have used their home phone to reach her and ask about her whereabouts. She might have known something about Yuugi – and Jounouchi. But they're already at a good distance and going back isn't an option. Neither is going into any of the houses they are passing by to use someone else's phone because an ill-boding noise has started to rise in the distance and Mana urges them to go faster.
When Honda spots an abandoned vehicle without any sign of blood on it or inside it, it seems almost too good to be true. It's scratched and dented, the hood has holes that look suspiciously like claw marks, the door on the driver's side looks like something has ripped it out, and the windshield is shattered. The keys are missing from the ignition and it's a bit of a struggle to get the other doors open – they have auto-locked themselves – but no predatory creatures of any size hide inside. Honda is still hesitant to just take the car, but the nasty feeling is growing rapidly, along with the noise. An odd vibrating sensation has joined in. He mentally apologises to the owner of the car before ripping out the windshield and helping Mana and Kisara get in the backseat. He fumbles with the panel below the steering wheel, seeking to hotwire it, but Mana leans over, placing her wand to the dashboard. It takes her three attempts to produce a small spark that gets the car working. She falls back in her seat and wipes the sweat from her forehead with a frown while examining her staff.
Honda hits the gas and takes them out of the neighbourhood to Jounouchi's place as fast as it's possible when he has to weave through rubble, fallen trees, and other cars that have crashed or been abandoned at the oddest angles and places. More than once he has seen severed arms gripping steering wheels and blood-splattered windshields inside those vehicles while something still moved inside. It makes him wonder about the fate of the owner of the car he's driving and the reason he found it in the state it is.
Long before emerging on the small hill leading down to Jounouchi's, they can see that something is burning in the area. Clouds of smoke are hanging high over the area. Honda is stunned when an outlandish scenery instead of the familiar one finally opens up in front of him.
The entire neighbourhood is engulfed in fire. The ground is cracked and smoking even at the foot of the hill and golden-orange mass that looks too much like lava is boiling in the cracks. Everything that was wood and glass in the area has long since disappeared, the last bits of metal are melting down, and even the stone and brick structures are burning. The most chilling part of the scene is the long dragons, whose bodies look like dark rocks moulded together with lava, with manes of flame gliding and curving between and over the burning structures.
While they sit there, the cracks in the ground creep up, toward them, lava overflowing once they are wide enough. The air is hot and stifling, the glare from the enormous pyre enough to blind. It keeps them entranced – except for Kisara. She reaches out to touch Honda's shoulder and shake him back to his senses.
"We must leave."
Honda jumps and turns in his seat to stare back at her. "Huh?"
"We need to go," Kisara repeats, pointing at the ground in front of them. "Look."
Looking out the window, he notices the creeping lava. Part of the road at the foot of the hill disappears, breaking off and melting away. He barely manages to get them a block away, driving backwards, before the hill caves in, belching out bubbles of bright red lava that is eating its way deeper under the city.
"Are we still looking for Yuugi?" he asks, backing into an empty driveway to turn the car around.
"Yes," Mana confirms.
If Honda notices her wavering confidence, he doesn't let it show.
"Then there's one more place left – Kaiba Corp."
Upon nearing the business centre, the scenery changes drastically. If the rest of the city appears mostly abandoned and ravaged by monsters, this place is still full of humans and honking cars, as they try to evacuate. Honda and his two companions end up stuck in a traffic jam long before reaching their destination and are forced to walk again.
They are still several blocks away from Kaiba Corp. and it's already getting dark when Honda spots Kaiba standing in the middle of the road, next to his limo which is stuck amid thousands of other vehicles of all sizes. He appears to be frowning at the spectacular traffic jam he's caught in.
"Kaiba!" Honda rushes forward, failing to notice that the CEO is wearing an unusual helmet-like accessory on his head. "Kaiba! Have you seen Yuugi? Or Jounouchi? Or…"
Kaiba turns his way – and if he does notice the weapons Honda has strapped to his shoulders and around his torso, he makes no comment.
"Why should I know anything about them? I need to find Mokuba."
This is when Mana and Kisara catch up with Honda and Kaiba's eyes stop on Kisara – with her wings and tail, scaly skin and unmistakable headgear.
"Set," Kisara whispers, feeling an undeniable pull toward him – and a painful familiarity. She reaches out and clings to Honda's arm, casting her gaze away from Kaiba. "I can't help you," she mutters under her breath. "I can't…"
"Huh?" Honda looks down at her, blinking at the fact that her armour has shrunk even further to a few narrow layered pieces across her chest and around her hips, and that the scales are being replaced by pale skin. He wonders how he could have possibly missed the long white hair cascading down from the back of her helmet – or the fact that 'Kisara' is actually a girl. While she had looked more like a lizard than a human and had been completely hidden by the armour, Honda had assumed her to be male.
"We need to go," Mana urges and this time she can't hide the edge of desperation in her voice. "We need to find…"
"Right." Honda redirects his attention from checking Kisara out to the importance of finding the person who could set things straight again. "He could be with Mokuba. Kaiba, where is Mokuba?"
"At Kaiba Corp. What do you want with him?" Kaiba informs and demands in the same breath, annoyed that one of Yuugi's friends is apparently trying to pull his brother into a yet another freakshow adventure.
"Thanks," Honda nods and turns, pulling the girls along. "This way."
"Just where do you think you're going?" Kaiba snaps, angered at being outmanoeuvred. He dodges around the cars that have already begun moving forward – earning himself many an angered honk and shout – and leaps over the guardrail to follow the trio. He catches up with them easily and speeds past them without a single word.
Honda stares at his back, trying to remember if Kaiba has always had hair that long, but his attention is diverted when Kisara gasps. He looks at her in time to see the helmet and the armour plates falling from her body, revealing white-scaled skin underneath. Her white hair spills out over her shoulders. Every part of her body that has been without armour for a while has already lost the scales, leaving her skin bare. She looks human but for the wings, the tail, and the spikes above her ears. She pulls away from Honda, trying to hide behind the curtain of her hair.
"Uh, sorry," Honda apologises. For what – he has no idea. He looks around for anything to cover her with. "Wait here."
He darts into the closest clothing store and rummages through the dresses, thinking about how much Anzu's presence is necessary right now. Looking around for the staff, he finds that the place is abandoned. Irritated and confused, he grabs the first dress that looks like it would fit and sticks a few bills under the cash register.
Honda finds that Mana and Kisara have moved closer to the store. He hands the dress to Kisara, blushing and finding it hard to breathe, and turns away while Mana helps her put it on – though he has to turn back again to show her how zippers work. In his reflection on the glass window of the store, he sees the reason for his breathing problem – a metal plate has appeared on his face, covering it from chin to nose. He walks closer to the window, simultaneously raising his hand to his face to inspect the mask. It holds fast and can't be taken off.
When he is finally allowed to turn around (though he's seen quite a lot in the reflective glass), Mana is frowning and Kisara is holding the straps of the dress to stop them from sliding down her arms. Because of her wings, the zipper doesn't close all the way, which makes the straps slide off her shoulders with every movement she makes.
"Do you have anything to tie it with?" Mana asks, sounding quite exasperated. She tried to fix it with magic, but none of her spells worked.
Honda returns to the store. He remembers seeing some scarves on display. He pulls several from the stand, measuring their length. Settling on the longest, he dashes outside again.
"Use this," he offers it to Kisara and goes on to put it on her shoulders, cross it over her chest while Mana helps hold the dress in place, and ties in a simple knot at the back.
Kisara shivers and blushes from his touch, and thanks him in a quiet voice. The scales from her forehead are gone, a few reflective white streaks remaining only around her eyes. All spikes have disappeared from her body, except for the ones on her wings.
"Now, let's go find Yuugi."
They resume walking toward Kaiba Corp. building, their pace slower than before because they have spent the best part of the day zigzagging through the city, dodging monsters and other calamities. They are at the end of their rope already and if Yuugi isn't at the KC tower, it's just another wasted effort. Honda doesn't know where else to go if this does fail. Pegasus would be an option, but that guy is holed up on his island and he has no idea how to get to him – other than somehow forcing Kaiba to fly them there.
As they walk on, storm clouds draw tight above the KC tower, an occasional flash of lightning shooting out of dry sky. Kisara shivers upon looking up at the clouds. Honda can take a fair guess at the reason: somebody must be fighting up there. Mana rushes forward, but Kisara stops. She chokes back a sob by covering her mouth with her hand.
"What? What's wrong?" Honda looks at Kisara with concern.
Mana pauses to look back as well upon hearing Honda's voice, but Kisara only shakes her head.
"It's… It's nothing." The tremor in her wings and the impatient swishing of her tail – both of which have become much smaller now, and existence of which on her human body no longer seems disturbing to Honda – imply otherwise. "I just… I wish I could still fly," she ends in a quiet whisper.
It's at this point when somebody falls from the top of the tower. It's too far away to make out who it is and the darkness drawing around it makes things even less clear. The trio watches the falling body in silent terror, and when a lightning bold strikes it, turning it into a blazing torch, Mana cries out in horror. Honda thinks he saw yellow and blue on the shirt of that person, and long black hair, but it was too brief a flash for him to be certain.
With the next few steps, Honda finds it more and more difficult to hold his own weight. He sees something crashing in the side of the KC tower, he can hear Kisara asking him if he is alright, and he wants to answer her, but the only thing coming out of his mouth is a string of garbled syllables before he crashes on the ground. Surprisingly, the fall doesn't hurt the way it should. The last thing he sees is Kisara leaning over him before the world freezes over.
At Kisara's anguished cry, Mana turns back. She blinks a few times before realising that Honda is gone. She watches Kisara lean down and pick something up from the ground. Coming to her side to see what it is, she feels a wave of uneasiness. It turns out to be a thin and colourful papyrus tablet with Honda's picture on it.
"This… this is…" Mana stutters and hugs herself to stop the shuddering.
The KC tower crumbles, drawing their attention back to it. Layers of smoke and dust billow in all directions and the storm clouds swirl wildly above it all, lighting flashes cutting through the darkness. Something dark is descending from the middle of the vortex.
"Is… is that…" Mana questions, unable to get Zorc's name out.
The clouds part to reveal a dark red being made of flames. Dim light fills the city, painting everything the colour of blood. Kisara grabs Mana by the arm and drags her across the street, weaving through the standing and madly honking cars. She doesn't know where she gets the strength to race down alleys, but she feels she cannot stop. She's still holding on to the card with Honda's image on it while dragging Mana along with her other hand. She feels the enraged being of fire sweep down over the city, blazing a burning trail through the street where they had been just a moment ago.
Mana is panting. Tears are streaking down her face. "Sun God! It's Sun God! But… but why is he so angry? What could have… ah!"
Kisara is forced to change direction when the fiery tail of the enraged Sun God glistens between the buildings just a block ahead. She doesn't look to see all of the trees in a park they had been headed for go up like matches. Mana trips at the sudden turn, but Kisara pulls her back to her feet and forward. Kisara doesn't notice the moment when her tail and wings disappear. She doesn't notice how much her feet are bruised and bleeding, running over the shards and rubble of the ruined city. She merely follows and instinct that tells her to go and find… what?
Kisara is forced to stop when Mana trips over a fallen bumper and remains lying on the ground, sobs wracking her body. She has no words of consolation. Instead, she looks at the paper version of a sealing tablet and the image of Honda in it.
"Where am I going?" she asks the card, holding it up in front of herself. "What am I chasing? Why am I chasing?"
No answer comes; only the darkness spreads. The crackling of fire from all around boxes the two girls in. It also brings out other creatures, skulking about and seeing to hide from the wrath of an enraged deity. Some of the monsters are so far gone that they never began to transform, and even now they're out to prey on those weaker creatures. When Despair towers over Kisara, she can only gaze up at the darkness and succumb to it.
Mana screams, watching Kisara disappear along with the dark being, and tries to crawl forward to get to the card of Honda that flutters down to the ground, but before she can reach it, a dark snake-like dragon coils out from under a crashed car – the same whose bumper she tripped over. It weaves its way over rubble toward Mana, eyes glinting hungrily in the dark. She must seem a trapped little rabbit to it. Mana yanks her hat off and digs into it to bring out her broken wand. She aims it at the dragon, but nothing happens. Her magic has run out. She is perfectly human now. She keeps trying again and again even after the dragon has reeled her in and coiled around her to crush her resistance – and her bones.
After that, the night spreads over the burning fire.
A/N: The title? Shamelessly stolen from FF7's One Winged Angel theme and means "Fate – monstrous and empty".
On the monster to human transition: Kisara vs. Mana and why it took so long for Kisara – everything depends on how much the monster in question resembles a human. Mana only needed minor visual changes, while Kisara had to go through physical ones as well.
Also, I don't know how noticeable it was, but I set the fic up as a pseudo duelling field. In any case… you know it's crazy when you need to include a rulebook – for a fic. So here goes. The monsters/spells/whathaveyou in order of appearance (DMG and BEWD – and DM, too – aside, because, come on) by their Americanised names:
Theban Nightmare (Fiend): doubles attack when you have zero cards in hand and no spells/traps on your field
Dreamsprite (Plant): when attacked by a monster, switches the target to a different monster instead
Burning Beast (Pyro) and Freezing Beast (Aqua): 1500 attack each; can be equipped to each other
Theinen The Great Sphinx(Beast): 3500 attack [vs. DM's 2800]
Dragon Seeker (Fiend): upon summoning, destroys one face-up dragon
Twin-Headed Wolf (Fiend) and Element Doom (Fiend): both have 1500 attack, so this fight ends with mutual destruction
Shadowslayer (Fiend): when opponent's monsters are all in defence (and they were, btw 8'3), attacks life points directly
Shadow Tamer (Warrior): takes control of one fiend-type monster for one turn
Soul Of The Pure (Spell): increases life points by 800; reason why it could be used twice in a row – a deck can have up to three duplicates of the same card
Spirit Reaper (Zombie): can't be destroyed in battle
Solar Flare Dragons (Pyro): can't be attacked while other pyro-type monsters are on the field
Cyber Commander (Machine)
Winged Dragon of Ra (one-turn-kill Phoenix form): reason it went batshit – unauthorized summoning
Despair From The Dark (Zombie)
Serpent Night Dragon (Dragon)