Another Chapter done now. With the Semi-Finals of the Fortune Cup starting, what will be happening to Yusei, Aki, Ruka, and Jack?

Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is owned by Kazuki Takahashi and Konami, but this story is mine.

Chapter Seventeen: Severed Bonds! Save them from the Undead Synchros!

Neo-Domino - Duel Stadium

"You understand then Shira?" Godwin asked the cloaked man who stood before him. "You must push him beyond his limits to awaken his Power as a Signer."

"Clearly." He replied with a cruel smile on his face. "And of course, should I win?"

"That has already been accounted for." Godwin assured him. "You'll get what you want in that event."

"Good." Was his response as he left the room.

"Yi hi hi! Well this should be enough to bring out his power." Yeager chuckled as he turned to face him. "Everything has been arranged as you instructed Director."

"Excellent, now how will you fare, Fudo Yusei?" He both answered and asked with a cold grin.

"YE-AH! It's time for the first match of the day!" The MC cried out to everyone in attendance and watching on their screens. "First up, after his spectacular reversal win in the last round, can he keep up his momentum!? Fudo! Yusei!"

Like before Yusei launched out of the pits to the cheers of the audience, noting that the cheers for him were more numerous. 'Or is it more genuine?' He thought as he came to a halt by the start line.

"And now his opponent! Can Yusei stand up to this Master of the Undead!? I give you the Reaper Reborn! Shi-ra!"

The D-Wheel Shira rode was clearly custom-made, its structure designed to resemble bones, with decayed flesh, muscle and bone for its colours. A skull-head sat at its front, in the handlebar centre as Shira took the his position by remaining start point.

'Two Duels to go, then it's your turn Jack.' Yusei mentally vowed with his eyes trained on where he would most likely be, while Shira had a cold smirk that could barely be seen from underneath his heavy cloak.

"Alright! It's almost time! Countdown, Start!" The holographic timer appeared ahead of the two Duellists ticking down the seconds remaining.

"Riding Duel!" The MC called out in the final second.

"Acceleration!" Yusei and Shira declared with the timer finished, their D-Wheels surging forwards as their throttles were opened fully before drawing their opening hands.

Turn 1 - Yusei

Yusei - Shira

4000 - LP - 4000

0 - SPC - 0

5 - Hand - 5

"I'll take the first turn!" Yusei added his sixth card to his hand as he checked them to decide on his move. "First, I summon Dragunity - Phalanx in Attack Position!" His small blue-scaled, gold-armoured dragon took its place at his side. (ATK 500, DEF 1100, Lv2)

"And then I'll release Dragunity - Phalanx to special summon Dragunity Arms - Misteil in Attack Position!" Yusei continued as his monster made way for a larger black one with yellow armour covering most of it and four wings. (ATK 2100, DEF 1500, Lv6)

"After which its monster effect allows me to take Dragunity - Phalanx from my Cemetery and equip it to Misteil!" Phalanx returned from Yusei's Cemetery, to become the sword that Misteil now wielded. "I set one card and end my turn!"

"Oh, Yusei's already setting himself up for an aggressive assault with his Dragunity monsters! But will it be enough to handle Shira!?" The MC provided for the audience.

'Yusei, this isn't you.' Jack thought to himself as he observed the duel with a distinct unease. 'You're not the type to abandon the Bonds you hold.'

"Yi, hi, hi! Well then, I wonder how he'll stand up to Shira's tactics." Jaeger chuckled as he stood by the window watching the Duel progress.

Turn 2 - Shira

Yusei - Shira

4000 - LP - 4000

1 - SPC - 1

3 - Hand - 5

"My turn! Draw!" Shira added his new card to his hand before taking another one from it. "I summon Pyramid Turtle in Defence Position!" A large creature that looked more like a tortoise than a turtle with a massive pyramid as part of its shell appeared as it took on a blue shade. (ATK 1200, DEF 1400, Lv4)

"I set two cards face-down, and end my turn." He finished as the two cards in question appeared briefly before fading from view. "And once I'm done with you, I'll move on to those four." He added coldly, just loud enough to be heard by Yusei.

'What did he mean by that?' Yusei found himself thinking. 'Well no matter, I just need to defeat him here and move on.'

Turn 3 - Yusei

Yusei - Shira

4000 - LP - 4000

2 - SPC - 2

3 - Hand - 3

"My turn! Draw! And I'll summon Dragunity - Militum in Attack Position!" His masked humanoid winged being took its position by Yusei. (ATK 1700, DEF 1200, Lv4)

'This works and I'll deal heavy damage to him.' "Dragunity - Militum now attacks your defender monster!" Militum charged straight for Pyramid Turtle, destroying it effortlessly.

"Thank you." Shira sarcastically congratulated him. "Because of that, my Trap can now activate, Broken Blocker! Which allows me to summon two more Pyramid Turtles in face-up Defence Position since you destroyed my first one!" Right after he finished explaining this, two more emerged on his field, both with the blue shade to signify their battle position.

"And that's not all, Pyramid Turtle's own monster effect allows me to call from my Deck an Undead monster with a Defence Power of 2000 or less when it's destroyed in Battle! Appear now! Red-Eyes Undead Dragon!" What appeared definitely resembled one of the Red-Eyes family, though in a state of decay with a lot of the shine lost along with the forward arms. (ATK 2400, DEF 2000, Lv7)

"Oh dear! Yusei's assault has just backfired on him! Now he has three monsters to contend with!" The MC cried out as supporters for Shira celebrated the turn of events.

"I'm attacking another Pyramid Turtle with Dragunity Arms - Misteil!" Yusei pressed on, the second one falling to his monster's blade.

"Which lets me summon Zombie Carrier in Defence Position!" Shira countered as a creature that seemed to be comprised of bits of other monsters replaced his fallen beast. (ATK 400, DEF 200, Lv2)

"Turn end." Yusei signalled his turn's conclusion.

'If you knew about that monster effect, then why did you charge in like that?' Jack asked silently.

"Yi hi! He's playing right into Shira's hands." Yeager snickered as Godwin kept his eyes firmly on the Duel.

'With this much pressure on you Yusei, it will be only a matter of time before your Mark shows itself.' Godwin determined.

Turn 4 - Shira

Yusei - Shira

4000 - LP - 4000

3 - SPC - 3

3 - Hand - 3

"My turn now, draw!" Shira replenished his hand by one. "And I really should thank you, for helping me to assemble my attack force!" Though he didn't really sound all that grateful.

"And why is that?" Yusei demanded.

"Because my Zombie Carrier is a Tuner Monster, had you not destroyed my Turtles I would not have been able to call it out so soon! And Horse-headed Demon will be joining it in Attack Position!" While this beast didn't look like it was already dead, it certainly had a demonic look in its eyes and the way it carried its axe. (ATK 1700, DEF 800, Lv4)

"And now I'll take my level 4 Horse-Headed Demon and my level 2 Zombie Carrier and Tune them!" Two rings, four stars. "The one who has since left this world, now is the time for your return! Synchro Summon! Appear now! Deathkaiser Dragon!" This Synchro monster was clearly modelled on a living dragon, with its colours looking distinctly bleached and lacking any arms or legs. (ATK 2400, DEF 1500, Lv6)

"Oh my! Shira's just become the first one to bring out a Synchro monster! This could be bad news for Yusei!" The MC maintained his commentary for the audience and viewers.

"And when in the Cemetery, the monster effect of Horse-Headed Demon can be activated!" Shira pressed on. "By Banishing it from my Cemetery, I can take another Undead monster from it, and special summon it to my Field, which means my Zombie Carrier returns!" As the image of his Banished monster was shown to enter a void as his misshapen beast returned to his field.

"And just like before, I'll take my level 4 Pyramid Turtle, and my level 2 Zombie Carrier, and Tune them!" Four rings, two stars. "The deceased King of Hell, now is the time for your revival! Synchro Summon! Revived Demon King, Ha Death!" It certainly did look like Demon King of the Underworld, only with bluer skin, a broken horn and the robes being rather frayed along the edges. (ATK 2450, DEF 0, Lv6)

"Two Synchro monsters in one turn!? Incredible!" The MC declared, making sure his voice could be heard over the audiences cheers. "Now Shira has an overwhelming advantage over Yusei!"

"Before you launch your attacks, I activate the monster effect of Dragunity - Phalanx!" Yusei cut in. "Allowing me to take it from the Magic/Trap Zone and special summon it in Defence Position!" Dragunity Arms - Misteil's sword was lost as Phalanx took its new place to shield Yusei.

"So what? You're still going to lose them all! And your old friends will follow." Shira cackled. "Revived Demon King, Ha Death now attacks your Misteil!" With no way to stop the attack, his strongest monster out fell. (Yusei LP = 4000 - (2450 - 2100) = 3650)

"Now I attack your Militum with Red-Eyes Undead Dragon!" Again, Yusei could only watch as another of his side was cut down. (Yusei LP = 3650 - (2400 - 1700) = 2950)

"And finally I'll destroy your Phalanx with Deathkaiser Dragon!" His undead dragon's breath made short work of his defender monster, but at least this time Yusei was spared damage.

"I set one card face-down, which ends my turn." Shira declared as a set card showed briefly alongside him. "Now, what will I do with them?"

Turn 5 - Yusei

Yusei - Shira

2950 - LP - 4000

4 - SPC - 4

3 - Hand - 2

"Draw!" Yusei yanked the card from its holder and near-slammed it into the hand-holder. "If you're trying to say something, just say it already!"

"Alright then." Shira replied far more quietly as he fiddled with a setting for his speaker. "Right now it's just you and me, the others can't hear us. You see, before this Duel started, Godwin made me an offer. Allowing me the choice to forego pay in favour of something more, enticing."

"And that would be?" Yusei hissed.

"Four things. Going by the names of Dawson, Rally. Blitz. Nerve. And, Taka." Shira chuckled cruelly under his breath. "I defeat you, and they're mine."

Yusei flinched as Shira made his threat, and memories resurfaced. Memories of him with them, and Jack, all working together to build a functioning D-Wheel. Enjoying themselves as they salvaged working parts from the various dumps that littered the Satellite. Memories of having to dive into the polluted waters around the docks to save Rally, and losing the D-Wheel and his Stardust Dragon card as a result. Leaving them behind so they wouldn't be placed in harms way again.

Only now, Shira knew about them. Learning it from Godwin. Who could only have learned this from one source in Yusei's mind.

'Jack.' His single-word thought laced with malice before he stated coldly to Shira. "Don't think for one moment you'll even get close to them. I summon Dragunity - Aklys in Attack Position!" A small red dragon arrived, turning to growl at Shira. (ATK 1000, DEF 800, Lv2)

"Heh. What good will that do you?" Shira scoffed at the weak stats of Yusei's monster.

"When successfully normal summoned, its monster effect allows me to take a Dragunity monster from my hand and special summon it, then equip Aklys to it! Come on! Dragunity Arms - Laevatein!" Aklys' effect brought out a large black dragon covered in orange armour, before turning into its sword. (ATK 2600, DEF 1200, Lv8)

"Oh! It seems Yusei isn't out of this battle just yet!" The MC called out, despite not being able to hear them right now since they hadn't turned their own mics back on to full public hearing.

"I attack Ha Death with Laevatein! Go!" Yusei ordered the attack, Shira's undead beast falling victim to Laevatein's blade. (Shira LP = 4000 - (2600 - 2450) = 3850)

"I set one card face-down! Turn end!" Yusei finished with a slight sense of relief that control of the Duel was turning his way.

Turn 6 - Shira

Yusei - Shira

2950 - LP - 3850

5 - SPC - 5

1 - Hand - 2

"My turn! Draw!" Shira's irritation at losing his monster was short-lived as he checked the card he drew, a smile forming as he saw his means of pushing through.

"I activate the Speed Spell - Speed Energy!" He slotted his drawn card into the correct place. "When my Speed Counters are two or more, I raise the Attack Power of a monster on the Field by two-hundred for each Speed Counter I have! With five Speed Counters, that's one thousand Attack Points gifted to Red-Eyes Undead Dragon!" White energy surged into his monster as it fed on the new strength it was given. (Red Eyes ATK = 2400 + 5(200) = 3400)

"Now Red-Eyes, wipe out his Laevatein!" Complying with its controllers demand, it fired a ball of energy at Yusei's monster, wiping it out with ease. (Yusei LP = 2950 - (3400 - 2600) = 2150)

"However, Dragunity - Aklys has another effect!" Yusei fired back. "When sent to the Cemetery while equipped to a monster, I pick one card on the Field and destroy it! Deathkaiser Dragon in this case!" A silhouette of Aklys rose from Yusei's cemetery, piercing Deathkaiser Dragon to bring about its demise.

"In that case, I summon Madame Wight in Defence Position!" Shira returned forcefully as a long-dead woman, just bones and wig in a black dress rested on Shira's Field. (ATK 0, DEF 2200, Lv3) "And set a card to end my Turn! Seems I'll be claiming them soon." He added, relishing the tremor that ran through Yusei as he said it.

Turn 7 - Yusei

Yusei - Shira

2150 - LP - 3850

6 - SPC - 6

1 - Hand - 0

"It's my turn, Draw! And I summon Dragunity - Pilum in Attack Position!" His small green-scaled dragon came to life beside him. (ATK 1400, DEF 1000, Lv3)

"And when successfully normal summoned, its monster effect allows me to special summon a Winged Beast-Type Dragunity monster from my hand by equipping this card to it! Which means Dragunity - Angus is now special summoned!" His unmasked humanoid being arrived, its bow made of Pilum. (ATK 2100, DEF 1000, Lv5)

"And a monster equipped with Dragunity - Pilum gains the effect to attack the opposing player directly, in exchange for halving the Battle Damage! So now Dragunity - Angus! Direct Attack!" His arrow bypassed all of Shira's formidable line-up to strike him square in the chest, causing Shira to wobble slightly on his D-Wheel, if only for a moment. (Shira LP = 3850 - (2100/2) = 2800) Shira SPC 6 - 5

"Turn end!" Inside, Yusei was shaking hard.

'Can't let him win. Gotta keep him away from them.' Then he shook his head hard. 'Focus already! You get distracted like this you've got no chance at all!'

While Jack hadn't been able to hear what had happened between those two, the way he saw Yusei act had his attention. 'Godwin, what are you scheming?' To Jack, it would make sense that he had some involvement in the situation playing out on the Duelling Ring.

"Hmm, it would appear that Yusei is becoming rattled now." Yeager concluded. "With his growing sense of crisis, it should only be a matter of time before his Mark appears."

'That's the way Shira, push Yusei to his limits, bring out his Mark.' Godwin mentally commanded with a slight smile on his face.

Turn 8 - Shira

Yusei - Shira

2150 - LP - 2800

7 - SPC - 6

0 - Hand - 0

"My turn! Draw!" A quick look at his new card, and Shira was unable to suppress his dark glee, with his route to victory decided. "Tuner Monster! Pain Painter! Attack Position!" A discoloured thing holding a large brush and an open paint bucket on its back came to unlife alongside Shira. (ATK 400, DEF 200, Lv2)

"When face-up on my Field, this beast gains the name of 'Zombie Carrier', permitting me to call out my Undead Synchro monsters with it!" Shira couldn't hold back his cruel laughter as he pressed on without giving Yusei time for a response. "Permanent Trap open! Lost Star Descent! By negating the effect of a Synchro monster in my Cemetery and reducing its Power Level by one, I can special summon it in Defence Position with a Defence Power of Zero by equipping this card to it! Return! Revived Demon King, Ha Death!" His monster returned as it gained a blue shade, losing no defensive power on account of never having had any to begin with.

"Then Pain Painter's other effect activates!" Shira pressed on. "Allowing me to take up to two other Undead monsters I control and make them Level Two!"

"That would mean…" Yusei realised what Shira was aiming for as Madame Wight and Ha Death's Levels fell to two each, the same as Pain Painter's.

"That's correct. My now-level two Ha Death, now-level two Madame Wight and my level two Pain Painter are tuning!" Two rings, four stars. "The fallen Daemon, now is the time for your rebirth! Synchro summon! Come forth! Undead Skull Daemon!" Just like the others, this beast represented a deceased form of the living Daemon's Summon, with some of its colours swapped with each other. (ATK 2500, DEF 1200, Lv6)

"Oh my! With a new Undead Synchro monster out, it seems that Shira is getting ready to end this Duel!" The MC determined as he tried to fill in for what the audience couldn't hear from Yusei and Shira.

"Trap Card open! Synchro Strike!" Shira cried out maniacally, seemingly lost in his own crazed glee. "With this, Undead Skull Daemon's Attack Power is raised by 500 for each Synchro material monster used to summon it!" Yusei could only watch as Shira's monster surged with power. (Undead Skull Daemon ATK = 2500*3(500) = 4000)

"Now my beast! Strike down his monster! Lightning Shock!" Electrical currents ran across Skull Daemon collecting by its hands, before being launched into Dragunity - Angus who was swiftly electrocuted and destroyed. (Yusei LP = 2150 - (4000 - 2100) = 250) Yusei SPC 7 - 6

"This is it! Red-Eyes Undead Dragon! Attack him directly!" Shira commanded as his monster began to comply with his order.

"This could be it! If Yusei can't halt this attack, it's over for him!" The MC cried out while keeping his eyes on the attack.

"Yi, hi, hi! It seems that this duel could just about be decided now." Yeager worked out from what he was witnessing, though Godwin and Jack were staying silent on the matter.

'Yusei. Have you anything to stop this attack?' Jack thought as he looked at what Yusei still had set on his Field.

"Permanent Trap open! Call of Living Dead!" Yusei revealed his set trap. "Through this trap's effect, I select one monster in my Cemetery, special summoning it to my Field in Attack Position by equipping this card to it! Return! Dragunity Arms - Laevatein!" His larger dragon returned to his side, greater in Attack Power than Shira's monster.

"Red-Eyes, cease your attack!" Shira was forced to use the replay to cancel his attack, it would only hurt him had he continued.

"There's more! Through the effect of Dragunity Arms - Laevatein, I select Dragunity - Phalanx from my Cemetery and equip it to Laevatein!" The semi-transparent image of his smaller dragon appeared, before becoming the sword that Laevatein now wielded.

'It doesn't really matter though.' Shira decided. 'My set card is the Trap Card Meteor Rain, which will give all my monsters the Pierce Effect. And with so little Life left, it will be my victory in my next turn.' "So go ahead and make your last move! Nothing you do now can save you, or your friends! Turn end!" A fit of crazed laughter escaped him once he'd finished speaking.

"Really?" Yusei shot back with an acidity in his voice that made Shira pay attention. "You really think I'm just going to sit back and let that happen!? Well!? Do you!?"

Turn 9 - Yusei

Yusei - Shira

250 - LP - 2800

7 - SPC - 7

0 - Hand - 0

"My turn! Draw!" Seeing it was a Speed Spell, Yusei's final move was ready. "First I set this card face-down, then I activate the effect of Dragunity - Phalanx! When being treated as an equip card, I can special summon it from that position and onto the monster card zone!" Phalanx re-emerged to fly beside the now weaponless Laevatein.

"Heh. Doesn't matter." Shira taunted. "Nothing you do can save you!"

"Is that so?" Yusei demanded, a chill in his voice. "Dragunity - Phalanx is a Tuner monster."

"A level ten Synchro monster?" Shira queried, beginning to understand now.

"That right, my level eight Dragunity Arms - Laevatein and my level two Dragunity - Phalanx are tuning!" Two rings, eight stars. "The lone raging inferno, incinerate all that lays before you! Synchro Summon! Burn them all! Trident Dragion!" This dragon certainly looked as if it could live up to the hype offered by the summoning chant, with its three heads, heavy build, and aura of destructive power emanating from it. (ATK 3000, DEF 2800, Lv10)

"Whoa! It seems that Yusei still had an Ace up his sleeve, and with a monster like that he's far from finished!" The MC worked up the audience's excitement.

"What. The. Hell?" Jack gasped out, his knowledge of Duel Monsters easily enough for him to know exactly what this dragon was capable of.

"Yi, hi, hi! It would seem that this battle is now decided." Yeager chuckled away.

"Trident Dragion's monster effect! Once successfully Synchro summoned, I can destroy up to two of my own cards to have Dragion gain an equal number of additional attacks this turn!" Yusei paused for one moment to allow the information to sink into his opponent. "I destroy my set cards!" The two outer heads of Trident Dragion chomped down on them, infused with the power gained from them.

"Now Shira! Eat this! Trident Dragion, first attack! Wipe out his Undead Skull Daemon!" The centre head responded by letting loose a torrent of flame that enveloped Shira's monster, reducing it to ash. (Shira LP = 2800 - (3000 - 2500) = 2300)

"Damn you." Shira growled, the voice seeming to be…off.

"That's just the start! Second attack!" Now it was the turn of Red-Eyes Undead Dragon to fall victim to the left head of Trident Dragion. (Shira LP = 2300 - (3000 - 2400) - 1700)

"Grgh." An inhuman noise came from Shira, a ripple seemed to run from under his heavy cloak.

"This is the last attack!" Yusei pressed on. "Trident Dragion! Direct Attack!" The left head send its flame straight into Shira who lacking a means of halting the blow, could only watch as his Life Point meter dropped to nothing. (Shira LP = (1700 - 3000) = 0) Shira SPC 7 - 6

"A-And that's it!" The MC cried out jubilantly. "Another beautifully executed from-behind victory sees Fudo Yusei emerge victorious! Winner! Fudo, Yusei!"

Yusei wasn't listening to the MC praising his efforts though. No sooner had he completed his victory lap, he slowed to a halt alongside Shira, whose D-Wheel was still billowing smoke.

"Listen carefully because I am only going to say this once." Yusei spoke slowly, quietly. "If I so much as suspect that you're after them, then there will be no place on this world, or the next where you can hide from me." He had to physically fight in an effort to stop the claws from emerging, though Shira did catch a glimpse of white around an eye just before Yusei took off for the pits.

"Well that sure made for an entertaining bout." Yeager chuckled in his high-pitched tone. "So, what of the real matter?" He asked Akutsu who was now linked to them over the video line.

"R-Right. I'm afraid to say that there was no reaction at all. Please accept my apologies." His head was hung low with no flair or drama from him.

"I see." Godwin replied, still looking down at the Duel Arena.

'Yusei. Before it's time for our battle, I intend to obtain the answers I seek.' Jack made a mental note as he wondered just what it was that had happened to him.

"Alright everybody! There will be a short intermission before the next Match! So now is your time to get some snacks as you wait for the next semi-finalists to be ready!" The MC declared the beginning of the pause between the two Duels as some of them left their seats to take care of whatever business they had.

Author's Notes: Well, not nearly as long a wait for this chapter as you had to endure for the last one, even if it still took a while. Real Life does that.

So what will Aki and Ruka be doing in their Duel? Find out in the next chapter, which I'll try to have ready sooner, but I make no promises.

Reviews still welcome! ^_^