VI: Emergency Assistance
Does anyone still say that?
I opened my eyes to blink at a white and black mane, crimson eyes and pale skin that seemed too pale for any normal human being. He was the universal poster boy for pretty boys everywhere.
My first reaction was to throw a slipper at him and bury myself under the blankets, muttering: "I didn't see him, I didn't see him, I didn't see him..."
"You saw~" Before I realised it, the bedspread was hauled off and I was blinking at Youkai again. "Good morning~"
I punched him. "You're too cheerful."
"Someone's a grouch," he commented. My fist rested on his shoulders, his too-pale face close. "Woken up yet? Nice boxers."
He was completely sincere. So was I. "Get out before I hit you."
It was with a very disgruntled face that I sat down to breakfast later, looking at the newspaper-holder across me. "Good morning, Jack San."
"Morning," the Atlas patriarch himself, back from one of his numerous events overseas, mumbled from behind the newspaper bearing the face of dear Uncle Jun. That explains why Carly-san was waltzing happily about the place... "He asked about you."
"Oh," I mumbled halfway through lunch, staring at the sharp, aristocratically arrogant features he held that was so close to my own. Black eyes, black hair, Black Thunder... I felt like dyeing my hair red. It would at least mark me as different.
The pile beside Jack Atlas shifted, and Rex Atlas sleepily reached for the basket of rolls. "Good morning."
"You fell asleep?" both Jack and I reacted.
"Morning~" Youkai plopped into the last available chair next to me, the bastard, and took another bread roll. "He does look like you."
I ignored him.
Manjoume Jun. Each time we duelled, his opening move was to set a card and summon some ridiculous dragon before setting a card and ending. Depending on his play, I would end up facing either Ojama King, Ojama Knight or the Ojama three brothers. Training, he called it. I asked him what was the point of giving me training against a specific archetype. He never answered.
I was nine when I had had enough, and did the stupidest and simultaneously best thing of my life in packing up and running from the high-class apartment. I was on the highway for eight hours, having hitched a ride out to Satisfaction Town. My first impression of the Wild West town was not that it was either cool or tacky, but the the Infernity Death Dragon was bearing down on some faceless mook, and the guy controlling it was so... focused, he had no hand and yet he had won against so many.
After that, in the most clichéd of ideas, I walked into a bar fight. The last victim was being thrown out as I walked in to see the lone man, in worn trench coat and the gun DuelDisk unique to Satisfaction Town on his leg, the man's pale skin gleaming slightly with a sheen of sweat and his light hair plastered to his scalp, chest heaving with the exertion of beating what I later learned was ten men by himself.
That was Sensei, Kiryu Kyosuke. Not Manjoume. Never. If I had my way I would die an Infernity Duellist. Uncle never did anything after my parents died in that car crash except for feed and clothe me and beat me with Ojamas daily. It took stepping out to claim the Infernity, and I would do it again. Because the Infernity gave me something that Uncle and the Ojamas were never able to. Through the Infernity I met Sensei, Professor, Ryuusei, Rex, Shimotsuki...
"You missed a spot," Youkai leaned over towards my face.
A swift rabbit punch took care of my stalker problem as I cleaned the crumbs from the corners of my mouth with a tissue. "We have school, don't we?"
"Sunday," Rex groaned. "Ryuusei's at the Memorial Circuit. Said something about building a D-Wheel with Uncle Yusei."
"He did?" I perked up. "We're going, right?"
The legal age to drive a D-Wheel in Neo Domino was seventeen, but Ryuusei had learned long ago from the best of the best, who was, admittedly, not very fond of the rules himself. I learned how to ride a Giganto L, but Sensei never got around to teaching me how to ride the Giganto L, as in a Riding Duel. I never quite developed the double focus needed to drive the damn thing and Duel at the same time. D-Boards were cool and functional as a portable means of fast transport, but there was still a man's romance to drive a damned D-Wheel. I mean, I like my feet on the ground, but there was just something cool about Duelling at high speeds, where the Speed was Spell.
"Yes, we are," Jack-san growled. "Yusei is duelling today."
I forgot breakfast. The Professor, Duelling... I had to be there. Like, now.
"I think Kiryu said something about turning up as well," Jack-san mentioned.
I had texted Sensei last night, and he said something about coming over to Neo Domino to build a D-Wheel as a present. I really hoped not, for the sake of Satisfaction Town. The last time he left town, I was out, back at Uncle's place, and the whole town except for Nico was swallowed up, caused by another mook. Sensei flew to America after the mook and kicked ass, saving the town in the process. Another reason why Sensei was awesome, but there seemed to be a curse that dictated that things were going to hell in a hand-basket the moment its Shinigami even stepped foot outside the limits...
You would think that Jack Atlas had had enough of public appearances, but he still blew into the Memorial Circuit in an entrance worthy of a Kaiba. That is, everyone already there staring at him. Rex, a little copy of his father, dressed in greys and reds in contrast to Jack's white suit, which I thought was a more sensible choice. Myself, I had almost no time to dress after kicking Youkai out of the room, and in the end what I wore was a long-sleeved T-shirt and cargoes, along with sneakers, all in some form of black. Not very stylish, but good enough and functional not to be permanently stained by the mess guaranteed to be generated around a Fudo workshop. Especially if both father and son were present.
"Red, white and black. The colours of death this day in the circle of life."
I have said that Youkai was a pretty boy. A bishounen. Now, try to imagine if the pretty boy dressed in light blue slacks and a long-sleeved hoodie, the effect becomes devastating. If he did not spouted badly self-made on-the-spur haiku, that is, the effect may even be classed as a weapon.
Ryuusei was getting well into the grease-monkey syndrome, wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and ratty sneakers. A streak of oil covered one cheek, and Ryuusei beamed at us as we approached them. "Glad you guys could make it!"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Jack wryly answered. "Ryuusei, where's Yusei?"
"Oh, Jack," the Professor rolled himself out from somewhere behind the curved frame of the D-Wheel. My mouth went dry.
The sleeves of the old thin shirt were rolled up, loosely buttoned to glimpse at the singlet underneath, the neck muscles slightly corded but not too much, the arm muscles bulged but moderate, and even the criminal Mark that was once taboo in Neo Domino accentuated the sharp cheek-bones. The dark slacks he had were also torn, no doubt functional and fitting and no loss in the case of grease or oil or brake fluid, but he made them look a model's dream of a sort.
I was torn between being envious of how little time had marked him, and awed at how well the professor cleaned up even without an effort. Or did he just carry that air of goodwill towards people everyday, and it was contagious?
"Uncle," Rex greeted.
"P- Professor," Great, my throat acted up.
"Are you alright, Chase?" those cerulean eyes blinked at me. "Nowaki, perhaps you could help him to a seat."
"Yes, sir!" Youkai hauled me to the stands.
"Hey, what gives?" I raged. "Let go of me!"
"You're drooling," Youkai observed. "Do you do that to everyone you meet, or is that just the Professor?"
"What," I grumbled. "Shut up."
Youkai gave the Professor a critical observation. "Hmm... yes, I'd admit that the professor's very attractive."
I wholeheartedly agreed, and I also considered Ryuusei marginally handsome, if not devastating. Father and son were both handy people and smart, and smart was supposed to be sexy. If a kid who built his own D-Board at seven could not get a date, there was something really wrong with the world.
I glared at Youkai. "He's married!"
"He's still very attractive," Youkai dead-panned. "Come on. He's kind, smart and easy to like. He also looks young for being in his thirties and has money. If you show a picture of him in Sanctuary, all the girls would take someone like him as the standard. Of course, he has his faults, such as the fact that he completely did not notice your attraction to him, meaning that he's as dense as a brick to love, but you consider that he's been married longer than we were born means that he's faithful once he reciprocates. All that is very ideal."
"Yeah," I agreed. It took a while for me to figure out what exactly had he said. "Hey!"
"Am I wrong?" Youkai blinked.
"Don't dissect the Professor's great qualities like that," I grumbled even though it was a fairly accurate first-impression assessment. A thought suddenly occurred to me. "How did he know you?"
"I was in Martha's orphanage for a spell," Youkai answered. "The Professor made my first limiter. Of course, that one broke after I hit fourteen, but the limiters he makes last extremely long if they don't break first. He's very nice, if a bit... mature."
"What's wrong with mature?" I asked.
"Nothing," Youkai shrugged, smirking. But sometimes you feel like riling him up, just so you can he him harried. It's like... he's so unflappable, he's on a completely different plane from us."
I disagreed. Having seen the Professor harried was unpleasant. "You just haven't seen it."
"Yeah," Youkai smirked. "But I am seeing a very interesting sight."
I blinked, before following his line of sight down to a bush of familiar two-toned hair marching towards us, attaching to a fuming tomato.
"Chase-kun!" Oh, it was Ryuuki, not a fuming tomato.
"Professor!" I yelled, running to the adult sanctuary of Yusei Fudo's immediate vicinity. "I feel really ready to take on that Riding Duel now!"
"Oh?" the Professor blinked, before spotting my stalker. "Ah, Ryuuki-kun, just in time! We need another man to test out this D-Wheel."
…Professor, sometimes you suck.
"Chase, you're in here," he patted the hood of the dark red and black D-Wheel that instantly made me feel better. "You're the correct size, since I'm building this for someone close to your frame."
Now I was grinning. "Yes!"
"We should give it a name," the Professor commented. "I have three more skeletons but this should be fine."
"How long did you even spend on this?" I incredulously exclaimed.
"It's been in the works for a while," he shrugged. "Someone-" means an old friend of an old friend of a friend or some sort, one thing the Professor clearly does not lack in life, "-offered me a stint designing and building D-Wheels about two years ago. I was thinking of branching out. They provided the cash, I sourced out the parts. Well, because..." he thought for a moment. "...height-challenged people find it more difficult to steer a D-Wheel, so the Robert Pearson Foundation contacted me about a D-Wheel for a person to steer easily despite the height issue. I based most of the designs off the Blackbird, and parts of it is recycled junk, but it's a first try."
A D-Wheel built by Yusei Fudo... I died, and someone made a clerical error and I'm in heaven. I got to ride it. Except...
"Oh, and Chase, Ryuuki's your opponent."
...whatever. Even the opponent cannot ruin this moment. "Really?" my voice must had quivered. "Just... wow. Thank you, Professor. Thank you, Kami Sama, Hotoke Sama."
"Eh, no!" Youkai sulked. "I want to be Chase's first!"
I punched him. "That sounds wrong!"
The two adults exchanged looks before shrugging. Ah, to be old and blind...
"Rex's already cleared off on his D-Wheel," Ryuusei pointed down the circuit. "He calls it The Throne."
"Just like his dad," Jack sniffed proudly. "I'm so proud... even if it's a practice D-Wheel..."
The Throne? Just like that pretentious asshat... "And Ryuusei?"
"Meteor Stream," Ryuusei answered. Hardly pretentious. Very sensible...
I glanced at it. It was red and black, just like the Infernity... infernal, infinity...
"I haven't thought of a name," I admitted as I was handed a safety helmet.
"After the Duel," Ryuuki smirked as he got onto the green one left, aside from Ryuusei's dark red one. "Say, shall we have a bet?"
"A bet?" I repeated, getting in and studying the controls. For Rex's sake, I really hoped that Ryuuki got into an accident.
"Remember, this is a practice D-Wheel, and it's still testing, so no going over ninety," the Professor warned as he attached the card-holder to my wrist.
"Yes, sir!" I saluted with all seriousness, before concentrating on wheeling the D-Wheel out. Ryuuki did the same thing, stopping beside me with a huge smirk.
"If I win, I get a date."
If I had a drink, I would have done a spit-take. "I'm straight!"
Ryuuki gave me a look, half-pitying and half in disbelief that I had not figured out some secret of the universe. "...keep telling yourself that."
"Don't decide that on your own!" I yelled as some words flashed on the D-Wheel's dashboard screen.
Duel mode, Speed World Two – Dual Magic, Set, On.
Lane Selection, searching for optimum, usable lane. Submitting duel lane to central.
"Argh, if I win you'll leave me alone!" I yelled, kick-starting it.
"Riding Duel, Acceleration!"
Chase: LP 4000, SPC: 0
Ryuuki: LP 4000, SPC: 0
I may have driving experience, but Ryuuki was clearly the better driver; he took the first turn just as we cleared the corner.
"Draw!" Ryuuki declared, clocking at one. "I summon Breaker the Magical Warrior [1600/1000 → 1900/1000] in attack mode!" The signature card of the term 'breaking' appeared, brandishing its sword. "I'm sure you know its effect."
I may not have participated in the Neo Domino Junior Riding Duel Championships, but I sure knew my way about Breaker. "Duh."
"I set two cards and end my turn," Ryuuki declared. "Now, Chase-kun, your turn."
"Don't use my name so lightly," I growled as I drew and we clocked to two Speed Counters. Not that it was relevant anyway, but... "My turn, draw!"
… well, crap.
"I play the Spell, Bullet and Cartridge!" I called, moving along the legendary Memorial Circuit at speeds higher than what a D-Board usually achieved without Ryuusei's tinkering. "I send the top four cards of my deck to the grave, and then draw a card." Better... "Then, I place this card on top of my deck. If I draw it while placed on top by this effect, then I must send it to the grave."
"So, you sacrificed your next draw for a mill," Ryuuki studied as I discarded the top four babies.
"I summon Infernity Knight [1400/400] in attack mode!" I declared as the grey-armoured knight appeared. "I set three cards and end my turn."
"Draw!" Ryuuki declared, clocking three. "I summon Rapid-Fire Magician [1600/1200]. Now, I play the Speed Spell – Angel Baton! Chase-kun, sorry, but you take four hundred damage!"
"Chain effect, Infernity Death Gunman and Infernity Climber!" I called. "Again chain, Continuous trap, Phantom Hand! I banish my entire hand!"
"What?" Ryuuki blinked as the missile of effect damage missed and hit somewhere else, the gunman that was the servant of the Shinigami floating to aim a revolver at him. If you have never experienced it, take it from me. It's seriously terrifying.
"When my hand is at zero, and my opponent activate a card or effect that would inflict damage, I can banish this card in the graveyard to negate the effect damage I take." I called. "Furthermore, my opponent choose whether or not to apply the following effect: I reveal the top card of my deck. If it is a monster card, my opponent takes damage equal to the amount of effect damage I would take this turn, and all effect damage I would take this turn is inflicted to my opponent instead. If it is otherwise, I take damage equal to the amount of effect damage I took this turn."
"What?" Ryuuki blinked. "Are you mad?"
"My opponent can choose not to apply this card's effect, but then I take no effect damage this turn." I recited. "Well? I've honestly forgotten how many monster cards I have in my deck."
"Oi, Chase!" Rex's voice bellowed through the speaker-phone inserted into this cool D-Wheel. "You're really using that card?"
"So, will you take this gamble of Russian Roulette?" I dead-panned, smirking. "I think Youkai would have been quite delighted to."
"... fine, draw it!" Ryuuki bellowed.
"You're... an idiot." I showed him the Infernity Climber that ended on top of my deck by its own handless effect. Ryuuki's face was priceless, right before the gun went off.
Ryuuki: LP 4000 → LP 3600, SPC: 3
Chase: LP 4000, SPC: 3
"Well, you draw twice, discard once, right," I commented as Infernity Death Gunman faded. "I said that Youkai would have been quite delighted to, because he packs Rainbow Life. He would have been falling over himself to play Spells."
"I- I draw twice and discard once," Ryuuki wheezed, the D-Wheel shaking slightly before recovering right behind. "Nice... for one turn you've locked my burn combo... Breaker, attack his Knight! Break Slash!"
"Trap card, Infernity Reflector!" I growled as the Knight was destroyed. "I discard my entire hand, and in exchange I special summon from the grave Infernity Knight once more and then inflict one thousand points of damage to you!"
"What?" Ryuuki ducked as the flames of damage scorched him, or looked like it.
Chase: LP 4000 → LP 3500, SPC: 3
Ryuuki: LP 3600 → LP 2600, SPC: 3 → 2
"Rapid-Fire Magician, your turn!" Ryuuki called. Attack Infernity Knight!"
Chase: LP 3500 → LP 3300, SPC: 3
Ryuuki: LP 2600, SPC: 2
I covered as my Knight was destroyed again. "You fell for it..."
"Huh?" Ryuuki blinked, looking around with probably a sinking feeling in his chest.
"When my hand is at zero, and an Infernity monster is destroyed by battle with an opponent's monster and sent to the grave, I can special summon from my grave Infernity Avenger [0/0] to the field," I cackled as my favourite gun-slinger tuner appeared, the monster cackling as it drew its revolvers too. "Also, in this case, the level of Avenger becomes equal to that of the monster destroyed, and Infernity Knight was level three."
"But, at this time, I activate the trap, Magician's Circle!" Ryuuki called. "this trap can only be activated when a Spellcaster declares an attack. Each player can special summon from their deck a Spellcaster Type monster with two thousand or less attack in attack mode!"
Well, crud, I have no Spellcasters, and I had a sinking feeling...
"Come, Black Magician Girl [2000/1700]!" As the sex symbol of Duel Monsters flashed itself onto the Duel field, smiling and giggling and being an energetic girl in general, golden hair gleaming under her conical hat and staff twirling in hand, I found it irritating. Where is the dignity?
"It's still my battle phase," Ryuuki announced. "Black Magician Girl, attack Infernity Avenger!"
Well, I really did not want to do this, but, desperate times, desperate measures. I was not risking my sexual orientation with anyone, dammit. "Activate trap, Infernity Force!"
"What?" Ryuuki blinked as even the Black Magician Girl faltered in her attack.
"This card destroys the attacking monster!" I cried out as we turned.
"Crap!" Ryuuki's ejaculation fairly echoed as I tore forward, the Black Magician Girl was destroyed in a burst of hell-fire, her screams echoing.
"Furthermore, I get to special summon from my grave an Infernity monster, like Infernity Dwarf [800/500]!" I called out as the dwarfish monster appeared. Infernity Avenger floated by me, flipping the finger behind me at the steaming Ryuuki.
"Activate trap, Call of the Haunted," Ryuuki called out. "I revive Black Magician Girl." The magician was back, and I kept from twitching or showing that I had run out of evading tricks. "I'd really rather not know what else you have in there, so I just play Sage's Stone to special summon Black Magician [2500/2100] from my deck! Of course, Rapid-Fire Magician would inflict damage, but I get the damage instead."
The Infernity Death Gunman appeared, shooting him from behind as he played the card and the greatest magician appeared.
Ryuuki: LP 2600 → LP 2200, SPC: 2
Chase: LP 3300, SPC: 3
"I set a card and end my turn." he called.
"Draw!" I declared. "During my standby phase, Phantom Hand returns the banished cards of my hand to me." I quickly scanned the available options to me, feeling slightly reassured. "Tuning, level two Dwarf to level three Avenger! The lone ranger that patrols the highway of hell, time to make your stand! Run, Stygian Sergeants!"
Hell Twin Cop, Jaw and Kick [2200/1800] appeared in a burst of dark light just as we passed the grandstands.
"Go, Chase!" Youkai waved from the top, dangerously perched on the barriers despite Ryuusei and the Professor's worried looks. That idiot...
"Chase, you're accelerating!" Ryuusei's declaration cut me off. I glanced at the speedometer, the needle informing me once more that Ryuusei was right, and I was already at a hundred kilometres per hour. Although it felt like I had done way higher speeds on the D-Board, the fact that I was still on a testing D-Wheel was a cause for concern as I tried to slow down... and failed.
"The decelerator is not working," My voice came out as a monotone, panic obviously having latched on. "Well, shit."
Rex burst onwards with another D-Wheel in hot pursuit, the duel thus having been called off.
Chase: CALLED OFF
Ryuuki: CALLED OFF
"Chase, slow down!" Rex bellowed, his gold-painted D-Wheel really deserving of the title.
"I- it's not slowing!" I bellowed back.
"Chase-kun!" Ryuuki called with worry in his voice.
"Well, get off already," I soon realised that another, more familiar voice had said that, just as I felt strong arms wrap around me and haul me out, though I grabbed my cards in time.
Distinctly, I reflected as I was floating along and the D-Wheel crashed to the ground, wheels still spinning. I reflected that Youkai was still holding me, and in front of anyone else perhaps I still would have the presence of mind or lack of self-preservation to punch him, but in front of the man perched on nothing else but the Giganto L itself, having peeled off his helmet.
Light brown eyes, perhaps honey-coloured if not for their eagle intensity, bored at me, and, even floating above him held securely in strong arms, suddenly I was nine again and begging this man to be my Sensei in the arid night of Satisfaction Town.
"Stupid disciple," Kiryu Kyosuke remarked.
I can't think of a good D-Wheel name for Chase... someone help!