As you may know, what you are reading is not solely my work. It is a joint project by me and two other authors. It has not been easy to reach this point, and I do not expect the rest to be easy either, and I certainly cannot promise updates as fast as my ordinary fics, but the three of us are committed to seeing this project through.
Before we begin: Duels in this fic will use the March 2012 format.
And with that said, let's begin. I believe we have kept people waiting long enough.
Alfred Hitchcock once said - "In the old days, villains had moustaches and kicked the dog. Audiences are smarter today. They don't want their villain to be thrown at them with green limelight on his face. They want an ordinary human being with failings."
And while that is certainly a staple in writing a villain, it also displays that you can never tell if the next person you meet is on the side of good or the side of evil – Everyone's got their reasons for their actions, everyone's got their own views of what's good and evil, and the line between the two is never as solid as people make it out to be.
That line blurs even further among the Shadowchasers – You can't help but think that any Shadowkind whose race has been stained with trouble will be a part of that trouble.
However the same thing can be said about Shadowchasers themselves – We're seen as oppressors by a number of Shadowkind, Jalal is seen as a tyrant, and tensions in between the Shadowchasers and Shadowkind grows worse with each incident.
So, I can understand why Jalal would accept this sort of idea in order to make the Shadowchasers gain a little positive rep.
But still… Something doesn't seem right…
Meh, maybe being a Shadowchaser has made me paranoid…
Tournament of Shadows
A joint fanfic
By Cyber Commander,
A Feint Plan
Paris, 11:50 AM, local time. It was May 1st, a warm, spring day.
Le Jules Verne, the restaurant on the second level of the Eiffel Tower, was understandably one of the best places to eat in the city, and one of the most expensive. And the view it gave of the city was phenomenal.
Sitting at one of the best tables was a man who looked about forty-years old. He had neatly-trimmed back hair, a goatee, wore a custom-made Italian suit and shoes, and wore a watch that, if not a Rolex, was of the same quality.
He looked at the watch. He was more than certain that the man he invited would be here on time…
Then he grinned as he saw the man in question approach the table.
The "man in question" was a handsome man with long, blonde hair, sharp features, and clothes that, while just as expensive-looking as the man at the table, seemed far more old-fashioned.
"Ah, Mr. Stormbringer…" said the first man. "Do have a seat…"
The leader of the Shadowchasers sat down. It was obvious that he did not want to be here.
"Champagne?" said the first man, picking up a bottle, next to him. "Feel free to order whatever you wish when the waiter comes by… After all…"
"I didn't come here for jokes, Jean-Claude," said Jalal. "Come to think of it, if it had been anyone except you, I might not have come at all. Your proposal seriously rubbed me the wrong way…
"I'll tell you right now… My men are not in the business of putting on a horse and pony show for the entertainment of your viewers…"
"I can appreciate your concerns, Jalal," said Jean-Claude, as he poured the wine into a glass. "But let me give you the facts…
"You're a powerful, rich, and influential man… You run an organization that keeps the peace between humans and Shadowkind. I'd personally say you're doing an excellent job…
"But… Not everyone thinks so…
"Take it from someone who knows how these things work, Jalal, people tend to have selective memories…
"I'm going to give you a name, and I want you to say the first thing that pops into your head when you hear it…
"Watergate," replied Jalal.
"See? That's what I mean," replied Jean-Claude. "Nixon had a long and complex political career, but he'll forever be remembered for the criminal act that effectively ended it.
"Bad things stick out in people's minds much longer than good things do. And Shadowkind around the world are stuck on a lot of the sore spots in your organization's recent history.
"Take that mess with Vladimir Bloodletter… Nasty business… It was a serious blow to your PR…"
"Don't remind me…" grumbled Jalal.
"Now, I'm a powerful, rich, and influential man too," continued Jean-Claude, "but in a different way. I control the Shadow-exclusive media.
"When an elf sits down to watch the evening news, he usually turns to one of my networks. A hobgoblin goes out to get a newspaper, he picks up one of mine.
"We live in the Information Age, Jalal, and like it or not, Shadowkind tend to get their information from me.
"You see this as a 'horse and pony show', but I see it as a way to give your organization's reputation a serious shot in the arm… My people are already predicting viewership that might come close to last year's Superbowl.
"Besides, it's for a worthy cause, Jalal…
"Check that… With one-hundred participants, it will be for a hundred worthy causes."
Pride tasted terrible. He knew because he was swallowing it.
Still, this guy had a valid point…
A few days later…
Neo Domino City. Six PM, local time.
It was a quiet evening in the Tops. In front of a familiar townhouse, a young woman with short, red hair sat on a bench, looking at the sky.
The door opened and a young man poked his head out.
"Ember?" he said. "Boris said dinner will be ready in ten… He made mandarin chicken…"
"I'll be there in a minute, Shichiro…" replied Ember.
She took a deep breath as he went back inside. She picked up a Duel Disk, and then opened the chamber that held the Extra Deck.
She took out a card, a card depicting a female Monster with a muscular frame, bronze, metallic skin, and flaming hair. She looked at the card, and then looked at the sky again.
"She's not coming back, Ember," said Shichiro's voice.
Ember sighed again as he walked back outside.
"I know you miss her…" he said. "We miss them all… But they don't have time to come back to visit…"
"We shared a bond, Shichiro," said Ember. "Jetta was like a big sister to me…"
"We were all close to them," said Shichiro. "And I'm sure they miss us too… But compare their situation to ours…
"There are about five-hundred Shadowchasers worldwide, and we only protect one world. The Primordial Titans have to be the peacekeepers in an entire galaxy, and as powerful as they are, there are only four of them.
"Even if we could invite them over for dinner, they'd likely be too busy to make an intergalactic trip in order to come.
"The more you dwell on it, the more depressed you'll be. So let's eat, okay?"
Ember put the card back, and walked inside.
Chicago. Eleven AM, local time.
In the squalid slum that was once called South Deering, but was now called the Hive, a young African-American woman, her arms notably muscular, got off a bus, a knapsack slung over her arm.
Three young toughs watched from a corner. Two of them chuckled in anticipation as they watched her.
Then the third, who was much bigger than they were, slammed his hands down on their shoulders. They turned to him, and he shook his head.
Then they looked at the young woman, and realized what he meant…
The members of St. Cuthbert's House were off-limits… That was an unwritten rule that all the riff-raff of the inner city followed.
St. Cuthbert's House, which was Nichole's destination, was part of an organization that had grown in the past few years under the leadership of Donovan "Donny" Lewison, a former thug who claimed to have been saved from death by the Shadowkind deity St. Cuthbert. Each House was a combination of a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, free clinic, and neighborhood watch, providing a beacon of hope in places where there otherwise was none.
A few hours after arriving, the place opened for business, and Nichole and some other volunteers were behind the counter, ready to serve the customers with a smile.
"Do my eyes deceive me," said one of the men in line, "or are those burritos?"
"Yep," said Nichole. "We got all the leftovers from the big Cinco de Mayo festival. We have burritos, tacos, tamales, quesadillas…
"We have plenty, so help yourself…"
"I have a feeling this place is going to be popular today," said Rosa, the cook, who was serving next to her.
Seoul, South Korea, 3:30 PM.
In the suburbs of the rather large city, a small orphanage stood among several residential areas.
The children, most of them age eight to eleven, sat in the small playground out front as a nurse watched them. They were waiting for someone. The nurse was a little nervous. Part of her wanted this person to show up, while the other part was a little concerned about it…
Then a sleek, black D-Wheel drove up, and the kids lit up.
"GOMI!" they shouted.
They rushed the rider as he pulled to a stop, and took off his helmet. He was a young man, with short, full hair, wearing a leather jacket and matching trousers. He was a Shadowchaser, but that wasn't evident to anyone here.
"Kids, let me get off my bike first!" he said with a laugh.
"Did you bring them Gomi?" asked a girl.
Gomi held up several sacks of hamburgers that he had brought from a fast food place.
"Sure I did!" he exclaimed.
The children cheered as he started to hand them out. There was one for each of them.
After he did, the nurse motioned to him, and took him aside.
"Gomi, I'd really rather you bring them gifts that aren't edible," she said.
"Oh, come on…" said Gomi. "It's not like they're gonna get fat on you.
"Let them have it once in a while… They don't have much as it is…"
Las Vegas, Nevada, 2:30 p.m.
The Las Vegas Strip was busy as usual, with locals and tourists filling the sidewalks and flooding the shops and restaurants all around. One such restaurant was the Mirage Oasis, a quaint and calming little café that offered its patrons good music, a chance to get out of the blazing heat and get a decent meal out of it.
Even the owner, a sly looking were-ermine man with long white hair and dressed in a white kimono and black hakama that hung off of his thin figure, was enjoying himself as he played with his long white hair (complete with blonde highlights) while he leaned against the bar's counter. This was Kyon Rokudai, a rather unique Shadowkind, a former pro duelist turned businessman.
A few years ago, Kyon got involved with some business with the Shadowchasers, and had been aiding the local Shadowchasers in any way he could. He wasn't a man who did something for nothing though, he had a reason to get involved with Shadowchasers and that reason was…
The were-ermine smiled brightly as from the backroom emerged his reason – A young, brash woman whom was a part of the Shadowchasers: Alice, or as she liked to refer to herself as Ace. She was a younger Shadowchaser, but managed to get a couple of years of experience on her back – But she still looked almost the same as she did the first day that Kyon laid eyes on her…
Sandy blonde hair that brushed the shoulders of her baggy white jacket that was a few sizes too big for her, a black shirt and black jeans that hugged her slim, yet slightly muscular figure – Something that Kyon always enjoyed leering at. "My, my, my – What's with all the yelling, my Dear Alice?"
"Don't act like that you perverted little weasel!" Ace hissed under her breath as she stomped up to the were-ermine. "I saw that little costume that you picked out! There's no way in hell I'm wearing a Chinese dress!"
"Actually, it's called a Cheongsam," Kyon said with lackluster.
"I don't care if you called it Davidson!" Ace snarled under her breath. "When I agreed to help cover a shift to help you out, you never mentioned that I'd have to wear something like that!"
"What's the problem?" Kyon retorted, not bothering to look at Ace. "Madame Faye wears something like that all the time – Even when she's on the job mind you…"
"Yeah, but that's only because she wears bike shorts under it," Ace muttered under her breath. "I don't feel like showing anyone that much leg…"
Kyon finally turned towards Ace and looked her up and down a few times, "… Perhaps you're right, you don't really have a figure to pull off that dress…"
If she wasn't dedicated to protecting the peace involving Shadowkind, Ace would've decked Kyon square in the nose right then.
It was a quiet evening in the capital of Germany, as quiet as a city of three and a half million people could get. But regardless, it was a humble little evening…
At least for the normal people in the city.
In the basement of one of the townhouses, flashes of colorful light and electrical energy surged through the windows, drawing a crowd of people outside of the building. In the basement itself, a man sighed to himself as he watched the lights and energy die down. "Hmm…"
The man himself was a muscular one with bronze skin and black hair (save for a single streak of white hair on the right side of his head) with a pair of glasses in front of his eyes. His clothes were covered with soot, dirt, and various burn marks that were obviously made from the sources of lights and energy that just died down.
The man sighed loudly as he looked at the floor – The large amount of soot that covered what appeared to be an extravagantly drawn circle with many runes etched into the floor – and in the center of the circle was what the man was sighing at, a bunch of parts that looked like they belonged to an old radio, only burnt. "That was a bust… I still need to get that right without the whole light show and with my clothes catching on fire.
"Yeah, not your greatest moment Leroy…"
It wasn't such a quiet evening in this part of Germany when Bruno von Klein opened the door to his team's townhouse after a long train ride back from Warsaw—as soon as he poked his head through the door, he was met with a loud snide comment.
"Another wild goose chase?" asked Rebecca Schafer, who was supposed to be his girlfriend but had been growing distant for weeks. Apparently, she had stayed up late just to sit in the kitchen and wait for this very opportunity.
"Not this time," Bruno chortled. It was different from his usual, cheerful laugh—Rebecca hadn't heard that in quite a while. This one was powerful, confident, and not very friendly, and, despite the smile on his face (that was almost always there, no matter how he really felt), it made him look arrogant, from his dark brown curly hair to the soles of his shoes.
He pulled his deck out of his pocket, pulled off the top card, and showed it to her.
"Oh, so you finally found that Shadow Spawn," Rebecca sighed. "Dare I ask if that means things can get back to normal around here?"
"Hardly," Bruno responded. "I can't stop now. I need to test this baby out."
As he went off to bed, Rebecca tried to vent her frustration by wildly shaking her head, sending her long blonde locks—and her trademark triangular glasses—flying.
When you belonged to both St. Cuthbert's House and the Shadowchasers, as Nichole did, life was more hectic than normal.
At six PM, she walked into the penthouse, to the sound of baseball. Three people were on the couch watching: Dugan, the senior member of the team, Francis, Dugan's new apprentice who had replaced Karl, and Bartholomew, the brownie who was their housekeeper.
"All right!" shouted Francis. "Two-out rally!"
"Wasn't this last night's game?" asked Nichole.
"We had to work last night," said Francis. "We recorded it."
"Isn't it silly to get so worked up over a game that you already know the outcome of?" asked Nichole.
"This from a woman who always cries at the end of Gone with the Wind!" he laughed.
"Touché…" sighed Nichole.
Then the ever-burning fireplace to the side of them started to burn more intensely.
"Uh-oh…" said Dugan, as he put the TV on pause.
A holographic image of Jalal appeared, sitting at his desk.
"Hello everyone," he said, in a tired voice. "Don't bother to stand up if you're sitting down… This is a recorded message meant for all members of the organization, and there's no rush for it to be heard…
"Anyway… As you all know, our reputation of late hasn't been the best… In a move that my PR men have told me will be a boon, I have made an agreement with Jean-Claude Martin, the President and CEO of Lessiux Media Unlimited."
The three of them knew what that meant… Lessiux was a company that included many media outlets that only Shadowkind had access to.
"You may have heard of the Duelist Kingdom Tournament, held many years ago," continued Jalal. "Well, I2 recently put the island where it was held up for auction, and Lessiux bought it. Even the castle is still there, and they've spent the last few months renovating the place.
"Now Jean-Claude wants to hold another tournament there… One with the Shadowchasers competing.
"You heard me right people… He plans to hold a Duel Monsters tournament on this island, and televise the duels globally. The duelists involved will, according to plan, be fifty Shadowchasers and fifty duelists from the Pro Leagues that his company sponsors. He has assured me that it will improve our image in the eyes of Shadowkind immensely, especially if a Shadowchaser is the winner.
"Now, he naturally doesn't expect you to do this for nothing. If you apply, and your application is chosen, you will be doing this for the charity of your choice. Jean-Claude has promised two-thousand Euros minimum for the charities of anyone who enters, while the winner has a chance of making as much as a million.
"I'd like to say privately that this was not my idea initially, but I have to agree, it will boost our PR a great deal, and it's at an all-time low as it is.
"Applications will come in the mail tomorrow. I will select the participants, and try to get a diverse group.
"I am by no means mandating this… But I am encouraging it…
"A tournament?" said Dugan. "Our PR must really be low…"
Nichole looked at the fireplace.
"I'm gonna do it…" she said.
Everyone looked at her.
"Nichole…" said Bartholomew.
"Hey," said Nichole, "St. Cuthbert's House has to depend on charity, you know? And we aren't as well-known as the Red Cross! What's the going rate of the Euro these days?"
"I think about… a buck-fifty…" said Dugan.
"Even if I get wiped out…" said Nichole. "The House could do a lot with three grand…"
Dugan stood up and put his hand on her shoulder.
"Then we can at least support you," he said.
"And we'll be sure to watch it too!" exclaimed Francis.
Nichole took her deck out of the holder on her belt, and looked at her Amazoness Warriors.
Hope you ladies are ready for the place where Duel Monsters practically got its start… she thought.
The next morning, the Munich Shadowchasers got the same message, and Bruno jumped out of his chair.
"Oh, you're not," Rebecca sighed. Their teammates, Franz and Lars, as well as their djinni housekeeper, Giondar, all silently shook their heads.
"Of course I'm entering!" Bruno exclaimed. "This is just the chance I've been waiting for! I can finally get some excitement—a proper challenge!"
Just like that, Rebecca got up and walked out of the room.
"And where are you going at this hour in the morning?" Giondar asked.
"To my grandparents'," she replied as she left.
Bruno showed no surprise or concern at this, merely taking out his deck and looking at its newest addition, which stared back at him with big, heavy-lidded eyes.
Let her leave, he thought to himself with a smile. I still have you, and we're going to take that tournament by storm.
Ember: I'm on a ship, and it's heading for an island far away… To the place where, years ago, Yugi Mouto and Katsuya Jonouchi got their starts…
Forty-nine other Shadowchasers – fifty, if you count the boss – will be there… Seems pretty secure, wouldn't you think… Trouble is, I don't know anyone here…
But… Someone I just met… He seems friendly enough…
"The Paths of Destiny" is coming soon.