A/N: Hey everyone... First I want to say I'm really really really sorry for how long this chapter took to release. I've been a little busy with South Park The Stick of Truth, Fire Emblem Awakening, work, trying to find people to help with duels... and Episode 4 itself is boring as shit... In all honesty, I probably would've skipped this chapter but an important OC created by the very person who issued me the challenge of this fic. Anyway, I'd also like to mention that I am no longer accepting OCs for Shadow Riders. I've already chosen the two submissions that will be used (yes, two. I ended up removing a Shadow Rider I previously had just because one of the submitted characters interested me a lot more). That being said, anyone who still wants to submit an OC can. Characters I'd be looking for will be one-shot cameo characters that'll appear in a single chapter each (over the span of most likely 7 chapters) to duel against the OCs that are already in this fic. I'll be allowing these submissions until... about episode 37 (the second duel against Tania, the Amazoness Shadow Rider) since that'll be when all the available OCs will be up and about. I will also allow early OC submissions for Season 2 if anyone wants to get a head start on that. Oh, and if anyone is interested in lending me a hand with duels for this story, drop a message my way. My usual assistant is busy with his own stuff and, if my previous GX stories are any indication, I generally suck at formatting duels on my own. Now with all that out of the way, here's the next chapter!

Disclaimer: I do not own the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise! I do, however, own my OCs Kagemochi Kaito, Hayami Akira, Kururugi Michiru, and Ikeda Kenji along with the Digital HERO, Agarest Soul and Sengoku archtypes! And now introducing Zastin Crawford, owned by Storylover213!

Note: For anyone wondering about Zastin's full appearance... He pretty much looks like Yusei from 5D's but he has crimson hair with black streaks, golden-amber eyes, and the "mark" on his face is is forest green (and it's just a tattoo). This was part of Storylover213's request.

-Turn 4-

The days following Kaito's duel against Asuka had gone rather smoothly at Duel Academia aside from the usual elitist Obelisk Blue students taunting and harassing the Osiris Red students.

Today, however, a small naval force and a fleet of helicopters were on route to the island school.

"Aerial Escort 2260 Eagle, here," said a man from in one of the helicopters over the radio. "We'll be converging with them in three minutes."

"Roger, Eagle," another man's voice responded over the radio. "The main ship has acquired the target in visual range. 8030, preparing to land."

"All ships re-enter alert status! We must protect this…" a man from inside the main ship announced over the radio as he held a briefcase with the Duel Academia logo on it in his hand while also having it handcuffed to his wrist. "…no matter what! Prepare for landing!"

On that order, the fleet of helicopters and ships began making their landing procedures for Duel Academia Island.

At the Osiris Red dorm, Kaito was currently sleeping soundly in his room as his computer monitors flickered to life.

"Kaito-san, it's time to wake up," the voice from the teen's computer spoke up in a soft tone, but the Data-HERO duelist didn't budge. "Kaito-san, you're going to be late!" Even after raising her voice a little, Kaito remained asleep. "Looks like I'll have to resort to that."

[Play Gentle Hands (Japanese Version) by LieN from .hack/G.U. Game Music OST]

Coming from the computer's speakers was the sound of someone softly playing a piano, soon followed by the soft voice of a young woman not too different from the computer's resident…

"tsumetai te ni hikiyoserare"
(Drawn in by an unseen cold hand,)
"nagarete yuku toki wo sugoshi"
(I pass even time as it flows to eternity.)
"tooku wo mita sono hitomi ni"
(As your eyes look away into the hazy distance,)
"nani ga utsutteiru no darou"
(what is revealed to them, I cannot see.)

As the song continued, the piano was soon joined by a set of drums, also being played softly…

"tsuki ga terasu tsumetai yubi ni"
(As the moonlight shines on my bitter cold fingers.)
"koboreta no wa tsumetai namida"
(Frozen tears of mine begin to flow anew.)
"miageta sora itsuka no yume ga"
(I look at the sky; that distant far off dream,)
"touku de mitsumeteiru"
(it always has me in its view.)

"kurayami ni te wo sashi nobete"
(Unafraid, I reach my hand into the darkness.)
"koko kara wa mou modorenai"
(I'm now at the point of no return.)
"ki ga tsukeba kioku no naka ni"
(If I truly realize the person I am,)
"tozasareta watashi ga mieta"
(hidden away inside my deepest memories.)

"shinjiteitai anata ga kuru no wo"
(I still want to believe that you will return to me.)
"itsu no hi ka koko de meguriau made"
(Until you are with me, together in this place.)
"kanjiteitai jikan ga tomaru made"
(I still want to feel, until the end of time,)
"atatakai te de watashi ni furete"
(the gentle loving touch of your hands on my face.)

All instruments other than the piano stopped as the song reached the next verse…

"garasu no ori ni torawareteita"
(Trapped inside this cage made of glass,)
"tokenai omoi kizutsuita mama"
(hurt feelings held captive in the cold and icy night.)
"modoru koto nai kurayami no mukou"
(From far beyond the infinite dark,)
"hikari ga yasashiteiru darou"
(there must always be a ray of light.)

A violin then quickly joined the piano as it was played softly, but soon left as the song reached the next verse and the drums softly rejoined…

"kitto mata koboreru hikari"
(I know that your eternal shining light)
"atatakaku tsutsunde kureru"
(will embrace me in the warmth of infinity.)
"genjitsu kara nigeyou to shite"
(By trying to run from the pain of reality,)
"daijina mono miushinatteru"
(I'm losing sight of what is so important to me.)

"shinjiteitai anata ga kuru no wo"
(I still want to believe that you will return to me.)
"itsu no hi ka koko de meguriau made"
(Until you are with me, together in this place.)
"kanjiteitai jikan ga tomaru made"
(I still want to feel, until the end of time,)
"atatakai te de watashi ni furete"
(the gentle loving touch of your hands on my face.)

The drums then stopped as the piano was left to finish the rest of the song…

"tsumetai te ni hikiyoserare"
(Drawn in by an unseen cold hand,)
"nagarete yuku toki wo sugoshi"
(I pass even time as it flows to eternity.)
"tooku wo mita sono hitomi ni"
(As your eyes look away into the hazy distance,)
"nani ga utsutteiru no darou"
(what is revealed to them, I cannot see.)

"nani ga utsutteiru no darou"
(What is revealed to them, I cannot see.)

[End song]

As the song came to an end, Kaito began to stir in his bed, groaning sleepily.

"Onēsama?" Kaito said groggily as he rose up from his bed and looked around the room.

"Good morning, Kaito-san," the voice from the teen's computer greeted.

Kaito looked to his computer for a moment before a sad smile spread across his lips, "Morning… So you ended up playing that again?"

"Well you did ask me to wake you up early today," the voice answered with a slightly apologetic tone. "But you weren't getting up so I thought I'd play it to get your attention."

"It's all right… It's good to hear that song every once in a while," Kaito said as he got out of his bed and stretched before changing into his school attire and grabbing his deck. "Well, I'm off."

"Good luck on your test, Kaito-san," the voice from the computer said just as the Data-HERO Duelist left the room, closing the door behind him.

As Kaito made his way towards the school, he couldn't help but let his thoughts wander, 'That song… Other than the Digital HERO cards, it's all I have left of Saika…'

After entering the school building, Kaito made his way to Daitokuji-sensei's classroom where the written portion of the first-year's promotional exams was taking place. Upon entering the classroom, Kaito picked up a copy of the test from the dorm leader, and went to his seat where he waited for the test to begin. Just minutes before the test was to start, Kaito spotted Sho running into the room and out of breath.

"I made it," Sho said, panting heavily as the Osiris boy tried to catch his breath before running down the stairs to pick up a copy of the test from Daitokuji and then going back up to his seat.

Over the next 30 minutes, everyone had been working on the written test but Sho had managed to fall asleep.

"Unforgivable! Absolutely unforgivable!" a familiar voice berated Sho, jolting the small Osiris from his sleep. "There's no point in studying to the bone just to doze off, you jerk!"

"B-Big Bro…" Sho stuttered embarrassingly.

"You're being a pest, Osiris Red! Shut your trap!" Manjoume told Judai off, standing up from his seat. "If you don't plan on taking the test, then beat it!"

"Quit joking around! I came all this way!" Judai yelled back at the Obelisk. "You think I'm just gonna go back?!"

"Yuki Judai-kun, come down here and get a testing sheet-nya!" Daitokuji called out to the late Osiris, causing Judai to tense in embarrassment. "There's not much time left-nya."

"Yes, sir!" Judai turned around and called back down to the professor before making his way down the stairs to grab his test.

As the brown-haired teen made his way back to his seat though, several students were making snide and hateful remarks in their heads towards the E-HERO Duelist, including other Osiris Red students. It didn't help when both Judai and Sho fell asleep for the remainder of the test, annoying the other students around them. After a while…

"The written test has now ended!" Daitokuji informed the students. "In addition, the practical skills test will take place in the gymnasium at 2:00 PM!"

As soon as the bell rung, the majority of the students burst out of the classroom and stampeded through the hallways, leaving Judai, Sho, Kaito, and Misawa in the room with the latter two trying to wake up the sleeping Osiris students.

"Hey, you two! Wake up!" Misawa said as he shook Sho.

"The test is over, guys! You can stop sleeping!" Kaito added as he shook Judai.

Sho jolted up, now wide awake, with streams of tears falling from his eyes, "Now I've done it… why did I even study?"

Judai raised his head up with a sly grin on his face, "Don't sweat it. The skills test this afternoon is where it counts."

"That doesn't mean you can just brush off everything else," Kaito said. "If you need help studying I can give you a hand."


As Judai put his head back down, Sho looked around the room to see everyone else was already gone, "Huh? Where is everyone?"

"Is it lunchtime already?" Judai asked, quickly getting up from his seat.

"They're at the store," Misawa answered.

"Ah, right. A bunch of rare cards were coming in today for the practical test, weren't they," Kaito recalled.

"That's right. It's a pretty large shipment, too," Misawa said with a nod.

"H-Huh!? A large shipment of cards!?" Sho practically shouted in surprise.

"Everyone went down there to buy some, trying to reinforce their decks for the practical skills test this afternoon," Misawa explained.

"W-What about you, Misawa-kun?" Sho asked.

"I'm confident in my deck as it is. I don't need any new cards," Misawa answered.

"You gonna head down there, Kaito?" Judai asked.

"I think I'll pass. Like Misawa, I have faith in my deck for this test," Kaito said as he lightly patted his deck holder. "What about you?"

"I'm really interested!" Judai answered enthusiastically with a big, eager smile on his face. "I've just gotta see what kind of cards they've got! Let's go, Sho!"

"Mm-hmm!" Sho nodded in agreement as he and Judai ran out of the classroom and made their way to the card shop.

There was a moment of awkward silence once the two Osiris students left until Misawa broke the silence, "So… What are your plans before the test?"

"Hm?" Kaito hummed, turning his eyes to Misawa. "Oh, I wasn't really going to do anything… just wait around I guess."

"If you'd like you can join me at the Ra Yellow dorm and we can work on our decks," Misawa offered.

"You sure about that?" Kaito asked.

"Why not? It's not like we'll be dueling each other since we're not from the same dorm," the Ra student pointed out.

"That's true…" the Data-HERO duelist said, thinking on the offer for a moment. "I think I'll take your offer. Not like I was going to do much else otherwise."

"All right, shall we get going then?" Misawa asked, to which Kaito nodded once and the two students left the classroom and headed for the Ra Yellow dorm.

After arriving at the Ra Yellow dorm, Kaito and Misawa headed to the dining hall and took a seat, pulling out their decks and laying their cards face-up on the table to plan out a strategy for their practical skills test. While Misawa picked up a number of his cards at a time and read them over, Kaito left his cards spread out on the table, shifting his eyes between each individual card.

"Ah! What are you doing here?" a familiar voice questioned in surprise, to which Kaito and Misawa looked up from their cards and towards the dining hall entrance to see…

"Akira?" the two boys said, surprised to see the Agarest Soul duelist.

"Uh, we're working on our decks," Kaito said innocently.

"But why are you doing that here? Couldn't you do the same thing at your own dorm?" Akira asked as she walked up to the boys, putting her hands on her hips.

"I asked if he wanted to with me," Misawa answered. "It isn't like he'll be able to duel me today anyway since the tests are between students of the same dorm."

"And you're not worried about him knowing your strategy if you ever do face him?" Akira questioned with a raised eyebrow.

"Of course not," Misawa said with a smirk. "I highly doubt this deck would work against Kaito anyway. So if I were to duel him, I'd make a deck on my own for it."

"And what about you?" Akira asked, shifting her attention to Kaito. "Anyone walking by could see your cards and try to come up with something."

"I'd probably have a similar answer to Misawa. I don't use the same strategy with my deck very often, so the odds of someone coming up with a counter so quickly likely won't do them any good," Kaito explained. "Besides, even if my strategy does get interrupted or I find it's just not working anymore I'll switch to something else."

"By the way, how was the card hunting?" Misawa asked the female Ra. "I noticed you were among the students that left for the shop."

Akira let out a frustrated sigh as she let her arms slump to her sides, "As soon as we got there, some jerk went and bought all the rare cards."

"All of them?!" Misawa and Kaito asked together in surprise.

"Yeah, it's really unfair," Akira said, regaining her composure somewhat. "And he wasn't even a student, so I don't see why he'd need them since he wouldn't be taking the tests…"

"Well it's not like it means anything to us," Misawa said, referring to himself and Kaito. "Why don't you sit down and join us?"

"You sure about that?" Akira asked, raising her eyebrow again. "Since we're from the same dorm there's a chance we'll be facing each other."

"With how many students there are in our dorm, the likelihood of that happening is pretty slim," Misawa responded. "I think I'll take my chances."

"All right, if you insist," Akira said with a shrug of her shoulders as she sat a couple seats from Kaito, though noticed the spreading of his cards and how the Osiris student was looking them over. "So these are the Digital HERO cards?"

"Yeah," Kaito said with a proud smile on his face. "They're the most precious things I have…"

"I'm sure anyone would say something like that with cards as rare as them," Akira said, which caused Kaito's body to freeze up and his smile to disappear.

This didn't go unnoticed by Misawa though, "Kaito?"

"That's not it…" Kaito said, his voice barely audible.

"Huh?" the two Ra students wondered.

"That isn't the reason…" Kaito said, tears forming in his eyes. "These cards… They belonged to my sister…"

"Then why are you here using them instead of her?" Akira questioned.

"Akira, stop," Misawa urged the girl.

"Because she… she…" Kaito tried to answer, but his voice started to crack as tears fell down his cheeks.

An apologetic look quickly fell over Akira's face as she realized she must've touched a sensitive spot for the Osiris, "I'm sorry, Kaito… I didn't mean to…"

Sniffling, Kaito rubbed the tears from his eyes with his sleeve, "No, it's okay… You didn't know…"

"If you don't want to talk about it, we won't pester you," Misawa assured his Osiris friend, glancing at Akira. "Right?"

"R-Right," the Ra girl agreed with a nod, feeling bad for touching such a sensitive subject even if it wasn't intentional. "A-Anyway, we should finish our decks. The testing will be starting soon."

After wiping away the rest of his tears, Kaito smiled to his two Ra friends and nodded in agreement, "Right."

But even through Kaito's smile, Akira could see the pain within. As both she and Misawa believed it best not to say anything further, the three students continued to work on their decks as Akira pulled hers out until the time of the skills test…

Time passed until the moment of the practical skills test. All of the students and faculty members were in the gymnasium for the second half of the tests with Kaito finishing his duel in a victory and returning to his seat with Misawa and Akira, who had also won their duels. Sho, however, wasn't so lucky as sat down next to Kaito after having lost his duel.

"Cheer up, Sho. You'll do better next time," Kaito tried to cheer up his Osiris friend.

"Thanks… But even with those new cards Big Bro let me have I still couldn't win," Sho sulked.

"I'll never understand why you're in Obelisk Blue!" a voice called out. "You're so pathetic! Maybe you should go into the Ra dorms!"

"Hey, we don't want him! Go stick him in Osiris!" a Ra student called out, to which several of the Obelisk students laughed and some of the Ras followed suit.

Kaito, Misawa, Akira, and Sho looked down at the field to see a male Obelisk Blue first-year with short brown hair walking away from his opponent with a pained expression across his face.

"Who's that guy?" Kaito wondered.

"I think his name is Kururugi Michiru," Sho spoke up. "From what I hear, he has the worst dueling skills of anyone here."

"I see…" Kaito said as we watched Michiru walk up to another Obelisk student, one that Kaito recognized from when he was looking up student profiles the night he dueled Asuka. 'Isn't that… Ikeda Kenji?'

Kaito watched as Kenji and Michiru stood facing each other. Since a mask covered Kenji's mouth, the Data-HERO duelist wasn't sure if the second-year Obelisk was saying anything, but since Michiru wasn't talking it had to be so. Eventually the two Obelisk students walked off to get their seats.

"Oh, looks like it's Zastin's turn!" Akira said excitedly, catching Kaito's attention as the group of four looked down at the dueling field to see a Ra Yellow student with familiar spiked crimson hair.

"Friend of yours?" Kaito asked his Ra friends.

"That's right," Misawa answered with a nod and a smirk. "His name is Zastin Crawford."

"Crawford?" Sho repeated before his eyes widened in surprise. "Wait, you mean as in Pegasus J. Crawford!?"

"Yeah, Misawa and I were surprised too when we found out," Akira answered. "Turns out Zastin's the son of the Industrial Illusion's Chairman."

Down at the field, Zastin was preparing to face his opponent for the test.

"Duel!" the two Ras called out as they drew their opening hands.

Ra: 4000
Zastin: 4000

"Watashi no tān!" the opposing Ra called out, taking the first turn as he drew his sixth card and smirked at what he had. "I play the Magic card, Hand Obliteration! With this card, we both send the cards in our hands to the Cemetery and draw the same number of cards from our deck!"

"Going for new hands already?" Zastin said to himself as he looked at the cards in his hand. "Damn, and I probably would've had a good strategy going, too."

"Don't worry, I'm sure you'll think of something, Zastin-kun," a bubbly feminine voice said to the crimson-haired Ra, who nodded once with a smirk before he and his opponent sent their five cards to the Cemetery and drew five new cards.

"Now I play the Magic card, Resurrection of the Dead! With this I Special Summon my Daemon's Summon from my Cemetery!" the opposing Ra continued as he played the Magic card, causing the skeletal Demon Monster to materialize onto the field (6/2500/1200) before continuing to place two more cards onto his Duel Disk. "I then set one Monster and one card face-down! Tān endo!"

Ra's hand: 2

"Ore no tān!" Zastin called as he drew his sixth card and looked over his new hand before grabbing a card and playing it. "I play the Permanent Magic, Water Hazard! As long as this card remains face-up on the field, I can Special Summon a Level-4 or lower Mizu Monster from my hand once per turn while I control no other Monsters! So I Special Summon Dragon-Riding Squad of the Sea Emperor!"

As Zastin played his card, a pair of blue-skinned warriors clad in strange armor mounted on top of what looked like aquatic dragons appeared. (4/1800/0)

"Attack his face-down Monster!" Zastin commanded, to which one of the warriors of the sea pulled the reigns of its aquatic steed and sped towards the set Monster.

"Activate Trap, Attack Nullification!" the opposing Ra countered as his face-down card rose and projected a barrier in front of his field, instantly repelling the Sea Dragon Monster. "This card negates an opponent's attack and ends the Battle Phase!"

Zastin looked through his hand again as his Monster returned to the field, "I'll set one Monster and two cards face-down!" Three reversed cards appeared on Zastin's field to indicate his move. "Tān endo!"

Zastin's hand: 2

"Watashi no tān!" the opposing Ra said, drawing his next card. "I release my face-down Monster to Advance Summon Curse of Dragon!"

The Ra's set Monster card shattered as a large yellow Dragon appeared on the field in its place with a screech. (5/2000/1500)

"Curse of Dragon, attack his Dragon-Riding Squad of the Sea Emperor!" the Ra commanded, to which the Dragon prepared to breathe fire at its target.

"Activate face-down card! Permanent Trap, Forgotten Seabed Temple!" Zastin countered as one of his face-down cards rose, the artwork depicting a sunken temple as water soon rose up from the field to the two duelist's knees, though was restricted to their field. "While this card is face-up, the field is treated as Sea. Not only that, but I can remove one of my Level-4 or lower Fish, Sea Dragon or Water Monsters from play! So I choose my Dragon-Riding Squad of the Sea Emperor!"

At the declaration, the twin Monsters dove down into the water, disappearing in its depths.

"Then I'll change my attack to your face-down Monster!" the opposing Ra replayed the attack, to which Curse of Dragon spewed flames at Zastin's set card, burning the hologram to cinders. "Daemon's Summon, attack the player directly!"

With a fearsome roar, the Demon Monster generated electricity around its body before firing it at Zastin, who unsuccessfully tried to block the attack by raising his arms.

Ra: 4000
Zastin: 1500

"Tān endo!" the opposing Ra concluded.

Ra's hand: 2

After recovering from the attack, Zastin drew his next card, "Ore no tān!" The crimson-haired Ra then looked at the card he drew and the other two cards in his hand. "I summon Penguin Nightmare!" Appearing on Zastin's field was a blue and white emperor penguin wearing a black tuxedo and top hat (4/900/1800). "And while he's face-up on the field, all Mizu Monsters I control gain 200 ATK!" (4/900-1100/1800)

"You're playing that in attack mode?" Zastin's opponent questioned. "You do know it's better face-down, right? But hey, far be it from me to let you give me a win."

"If that's what you think then give me your best shot. I won't lose that easily," Zastin said with a competitive smirk before another reversed card appeared on his field. "I'll set one card face-down! And at my End Phase, the Monster I removed with Forgotten Seabed Temple is Special Summoned to my side of the field!" The twin Monsters of Dragon-Riding Squad of the Sea Emperor then resurfaced onto the field, now strengthened by Penguin Nightmare. (4/1800-2000/0)

Zastin's hand: 1

"Watashi no tān!" the opposing Ra said as he drew his next card. "I summon Ninja Dog – Wonder Dog!"

As the Ra played his card, the Monster that appeared was a brown-furred anthropomorphic dog wearing a red ninja-esque garb, purple scarf and Kanata on its back. (4/1800/1000)

"Reverse card, open!" Zastin countered as one of his set cards rose. "Roar of the Sea Emperor! With this card I can Special Summon three Level-3 or lower Sea Dragon Monsters from my Cemetery! So I Special Summon Deep Sea Diva, True Sea Emperor Tridon, and Sharpshooting Soldier of the Sea Emperor!"

Three Monsters soon rose from the watery depths to fill Zastin's field and were all strengthened by Penguin Nightmare. The first was a female Monster resembling a mermaid (2/200-400/400), the second looked like a small dragon with dark blue scales (3/1600-1800/800), and the third was a green fish wearing armor and carrying some kind of rifle (3/1400-1600/0).

"You see? I knew you'd come up with something," the female voice from earlier said, now identified as coming from Deep Sea Diva, which caused Zastin to grin.

"Those Monsters won't help you! Daemon's Summon, attack Penguin Nightmare!" the opposing Ra commanded, to which the Demon Monster began to charge its electricity again.

"Activate Trap card, Poseidon Wave!" Zastin countered as his final set card rose, depicting the Greek God of the Sea holding out his trident over a surging tidal wave. "This card will negate my opponent's attack and inflict 800 damage for each Fish, Sea Dragon, or Water Monster I control! And currently I control four Sea Dragon Monsters and one Water Monster!"

The opposing Ra gasped as the water on the field receded towards Zastin's side of the field before turning into a tidal wave that rushed over the field and crashed into the Ra.

Ra: 0000
Zastin: 1500 (winner)

"Whoa, he won without attacking and damage from only one card," Kaito said, amazed by Zastin's victory.

"Well considering who his father is, Zastin probably learned everything from Chairman Pegasus," Akira pointed out.

"Hey Misawa. Akira," Zastin greeted his Ra friends as he made his way back to his seat from his duel before noticing the two Osiris students. "More friends of yours?"

"Yes, these are Kagemochi Kaito and Marufuji Sho, both from Osiris Red," Misawa introduced them.

"Nice to meet you," Kaito and Sho said together as they bowed in greeting.

"Likewise. The name's Zastin Crawford, though I think you've been told that already," Zastin returned the greeting with a friendly smile as he glanced at Misawa and Akira before turning his attention to Kaito. "Your name is Kagemochi?"

"Yeah, that's right," Kaito answered with a nod.

"Didn't think I'd run into you here…" Zastin said with an apologetic tone. "Father said that if I ever happen to run into you to tell you he sends his deepest condolences…"

Sho, Misawa and Akira looked at Zastin and Kaito in confusion while the Data-HERO duelist smiled sadly in understanding, "Thank you…"

Everyone's attention was broken though by a loud gasp of surprise, "Why am I dueling Manjoume?"

The group of five looked down at the field and saw that Judai was on the same field as Manjoume.

"What?! But aren't the skills tests supposed to be against those from the same dorm?" Sho questioned.

"They're supposed to be…" Akira said, finding the situation strange.

"Since you scored so well on the entry exam, you wouldn't match up evenly against any Osiris Red student," Professor Chronos told the E-HERO duelist as he walked up to the field. "Which is why we have judged that Signore Manjoume is a much more suitable opponent for you. Of course, if you win, you'll be promoted to Ra Yellow."

"A promotion already?" Sho questioned in surprise.

"It is strange that there'd be one so early in the year, but it is also a skills test against someone from a higher dorm… In this case, the highest," Zastin pointed out.

"But if they're going by entry exam scores for students of the same dorm, a logical opponent for Judai would be you, Kaito," Misawa said as he glanced at the Data-HERO duelist.

"Well, not like we can do anything about it but watch," Kaito shrugged.

"So, how does that sound to you, Yuki Judai-kun?" Professor Chronos asked. "Will you accept this offer?"

"Fine by me!" Judai agreed. "I want to duel against all kinds of people. I want to take on challenges, no matter who they're from!"

"Then, you'll accept the duel with Signore Manjoume?" Chronos asked, wanting to make sure that's what the E-HERO duelist was saying.

"All right. I'm going to settle what we started before," Manjoume said with a pleased smirk.

"Yeah!" Judai shouted in agreement as the two of them pushed their decks into their Duel Disks.

"Duel!" the two shouted as Chronos ran off the field and the two students drew their opening hands.

Judai: 4000
Manjoume: 4000

"Let's go, Manjoume!"

"It's Manjoume-san!"

"I'll go first! Draw!" Judai said as he drew his sixth card, taking the first turn.

"Kuri kuri!" a familiar voice chirped, causing Judai to look at the card he had drawn.

"So it's you, Winged Kuriboh?" Judai said to himself before grinning. 'Partner… you coming out right from the jump is reassuring. In that case, I'll…' "I'll summon Elemental HERO Clayman in Defense mode!"

As Judai played his card, the Elemental HERO of stone appeared on the field, kneeling down with its arms crossed. (4/800/2000)

"Tān endo," Judai concluded without playing anything else.

Judai's hand: 5

"Your worthless HERO deck full of smallfries… I'll show you just how fragile you are! Ore no tān. Draw!" Manjoume called out as he drew his sixth card and looked at his hand. 'And already, it's a rare card I got from Professor Chronos…' "I activate the Magic card, Mallet of Luck!"

"What?!" Judai shouted in surprise.

"By shuffling this card, along with any cards I don't want in my hand, back into my deck, I'll draw that many new cards!" Manjoume explained as he held up four other cards from his hand. "And now, I'll…"

"Huh? He's going to replace that many cards?!" Sho shouted in shock.

"That Manjoume guy must have a pretty bad hand if he's putting so many back," Akira figured.

"That or he's trying to find something specific," Zastin added.

"What's more, the Mallet of Luck isn't a one-time use card. Since it'll keep returning to my deck, it'll keep going right back into my hand!" Manjoume explained further as he shuffled the five cards into his deck and drew five new cards, revealing one of them to be Mallet of Luck again before playing it once more. "I activate the Mallet of Luck again! I'll return Mallet of Luck and another card into my deck and draw two cards again!" The Obelisk student put the two cards back into his deck and shuffled once more before drawing two new cards. "Come forth! I summon V-Tiger Jet in Attack mode!"

As Manjoume played his next card, the Monster that appeared was a yellow and green Machine modeled after a tiger. (4/1600/1800)

"Next, from my hand, I activate the Permanent Magic, Frontline Base!" Manjoume continued as he played his next card, which depicted Swordsman of the Dark Demon World, Dark Sword mounted on the back of Jet-Black Dragon about to take flight off a stone wall. "Once each turn, I can Special Summon a Level-4 or lower Monster from my hand! And this turn, I'll Special Summon W-Wing Catapult in Attack mode! Come forth, W-Wing Catapult!"

Appearing next on Manjoume's field was a blue jet-like Machine. (4/1300/1500)

"And then, I fuse it with V-Tiger Jet!" Manjoume continued as the newest Monster took flight followed by the first Monster before they combined together (6/2000/2100). "VW-Tiger Catapult!" Judai was completely speechless during Manjoume's turn. "Shocked, are you, Judai? However, my turn has far from ended yet. Next, I activate VW-Tiger Catapult's special effect! By discarding a card in my hand, it switches an opponent's Monster into Attack mode!"

"What?!" Judai gasped in shock.

"No fair! If his 800-ATK Clayman gets hit with an attack…" Sho trailed off.

"This is bad. The duel's just started and already Judai's in trouble," Kaito said as Manjoume pushed one of his cards into his Cemetery slot, causing Clayman to stand (4/800/2000).

"Here I go, Judai! VW-Tiger Missiles, fire! Eradicate Clayman!" Manjoume commanded, to which the combined Monster fired a barrage of missles at the stone HERO, obliterating him from the field.

Judai: 2800
Manjoume: 4000

"Big Bro/Judai!" Sho and Kaito called out.

"Bravo! Signore Manjoume has certainly mastered the tactics he's added in to their fullest!" Professor Chronos cheered for his student as he and Principal Samejima watched the tests from a room above the gymnasium.

"I place a card face-down to finish my turn!" Manjoume concluded as a reversed card appeared on his field.

Manjoume's hand: 2

"That's nothing! The duel has just begun!" Judai declared as he drew his next card. "Here goes. Ore no tān. Draw! I summon Elemental HERO Sparkman in Defense mode!"

Appearing next on Judai's field was the suited E-HERO of electricity. (4/1600/1400)

"I place a card face-down to end my turn!" Judai concluded as a reversed card appeared behind his Monster.

Judai's hand: 4

"Huh? Defense mode isn't like Big Bro at all…" Sho noted in a worried tone.

"With what he's facing at 2000 ATK, it must be the only thing he can do," Misawa figured.

"It doesn't help that Manjoume can just change Judai's Monsters to Attack mode anyway as long as he has cards in his hand," Zastin pointed out.

"Ore no tān. Draw!" Manjoume shouted as he drew his next card. "I summon X-Head Cannon in Attack mode!" Appearing on Manjoume's field was a blue, legless, humanoid Machine with cannons mounted on its shoulders (4/1800/1500). "Next, with the effect of the Permanent Magic, Frontline Base, I Special Summon Z-Metal Caterpillar!" Next to appear was a yellow and green tank-like Machine (4/1500/1300).

"Y-You couldn't…!" Judai gasped at the implication Manjoume might have the entire set.

"Since he has X and Z, that means the only card left is…!" Sho trailed off for the same reason as Judai.

"Reverse card, open!" Manjoume shouted triumphantly as he face-down card rose, depicting a cemetery with a strange mist rising up. "I can use this Call of the Living Dead's effect to revive a Monster card from my Cemetery! And that Monster is…"

Appearing onto the field in a surge of light was a red dragon-shaped Machine. (4/1500/1600)

"It's Y!" Sho cried out.

"He has them all?!" Kaito and Akira shouted together in surprise.

"T-This is bad!" Misawa said, cringing a bit.

"Here we go, Judai! I combine X, Y, and Z together!" Manjoume called out as the three Monsters took flight and began to connect together, jettisoning any unnecessary parts (8/2800/2600). "XYZ-Dragon Cannon!"

"There are two Monsters on the field with an ATK of 2000 or higher…" Misawa stated the obvious. "Does Judai have any chance of winning now?"

"Unless Judai can somehow avoid taking any damage this turn, that XYZ-Dragon Cannon could end the duel by itself," Zastin pointed out.

"There's more!" Manjoume continued, shocking Judai. "I'm not done yet! I'm going to use my VW-Tiger Catapult and my XYZ-Dragon Cannon for a Combination Summon again!"

"Again!?" Judai repeated as the two Monsters took flight again, disconnecting and reconnecting where needed until they formed a colossal robot. (8/3000/2800)

"This is my V-to-Z - Dragon Catapult Cannon!" Manjoume called out. "And V-to-Z's special ability activates!"

Without warning, Sparkman was removed from the field in a small tornado, "Sparkman…!"

"A pity, isn't it, Judai?" Manjoume asked as the Osiris looked up at the giant Monster. "V-to-Z is able to remove an opponent's card once per turn. Taste and savor it. The sadness of the one who has nothing…"

Kaito raised an eyebrow from hearing Manjoume's last sentence, as if feeling some hidden meaning behind the words of the Obelisk.

"This is simply the best!" Chronos continued to cheer giddily. "That dropout boy will be dropping any moment now!"

"Go, V-to-Z! Attack that player directly!" Manjoume ordered as he pointed at Judai.

"Hold it! Reverse Trap, open!" Judai quickly countered as his set card rose. "Hero Meeting!"

"What?" Chronos wondered curiously.

"Hero Meeting?" Manjoume repeated.

"If the card my opponent chooses is a Monster card, this card can summon it to my field!" Judai explained as he held up the cards in his hand. "C'mon and choose, Manjoume!"

"It's Manjoume-san!" the Obelisk corrected. "The leftmost card!"

Judai skimmed his finger over his cards and stopped at the one further to his left, "Lucky! I summon this card, Burst Lady, in Defense mode!"

As Judai played his card, the female HERO of fire appeared on the field, taking the same defensive stance as the previous two HERO Monsters. (3/1200/800)

"I won't let it be in Defense mode!" Manjoume countered. "When V-to-Z attacks, the Monster's battle mode is completely up to me! V-to-Z! Ultimate Destruction! Attack Burst Lady!"

The giant robot responded immediately by firing its twin cannons at the female HERO as she stood up (3/1200/800), instantly obliterating her from the field.

Judai: 1000
Manjoume: 4000

"Big Bro!" Sho cried out.

"This is really bad… Even if Judai gets a Monster on the field, Manjoume could just use his own Monster's effect to remove it and go straight for a direct attack!" Kaito noted.

"Tān endo!" Manjoume concluded.

Manjoume's hand: 1

"Once again, you're totally exposed. You don't have a single Monster on your field," Manjoume said.

"I…believe in my deck. As long as there are Monsters that'll fight by my side until the very end in here, I'll keep fighting!" Judai retorted as he drew his next card. "Draw!" Judai then quickly looked at the card he had drawn and his eyes widened a little. 'T-This is…'


Before the practical skills test, though after the written test, Judai and Sho had gone to the card shop to try and get some of the new cards that had come in, but were too late. Only able to get a single pack that was left, Judai gave it to Sho while the store's manager, Tome, recognized the E-HERO duelist.

"Come on over here…I nabbed this for you!" Tome said as she held out a pack of cards for Judai. "This is my thanks for helping me push my car. Because I thought an Osiris Red fellow like you probably doesn't have a single rare card."

[Flashback End]

"Kuri kuri!" Winged Kuriboh squeaked.

"Winged Kuriboh, do you sense something?" Judai asked his Partner.

"Kuri kuri!" the winged furball responded.

"Since you insist, I'll bet everything on this card!" Judai said as he grabbed Winged Kuriboh's card. "I summon Winged Kuriboh in Defense mode!"

Appearing on Judai's field was the small Angel Monster that helped him defeat Professor Chronos at the entrance exam. (1/300/200)

"Kawaii~! (1)" nearly all the female students in the gymnasium gushed over the furry little creature, the only exceptions being Asuka and Akira.

"Then, I set a card face-down and finish my turn!" Judai concluded as a reversed card appeared behind Winged Kuriboh.

Judai's hand: 2

"Defense mode, again…" Sho said worriedly. "Have you run out of options, Big Bro?"

"And unfortunately Winged Kuriboh's Monster Effect won't work if Manjoume uses V-to-Z's effect to remove it from play since it has to be destroyed," Zastin stated.

"Ore no tān. Draw!" Manjoume said, drawing his next card. "It's useless! Even if that annoying furball that reduces Battle Damage to 0 is there, V-to-Z's special effect will remove it!"

"Then just try it!" Judai dared.

"Wipe out that Winged Kuriboh, and then attack Judai directly!" Manjoume commanded. "Ultimate Destruction!"

Once again, the giant robot immediately fired its twin cannons at Judai's Monster.

"He's done for!" Sho said in worry. "His Winged Kuriboh won't last a second against it!"

"Here it is, Partner!" Judai told his Monster. "From my hand, I use two cards as a cost to activate Evolving Wings!" As Judai sent the two remaining cards in his hand to the Cemetery, his set card rose showing a child-like angel with a pair of large wings with an older angel in the background of the card while surrounding Winged Kuriboh in light.

"What?!" both Manjoume and Chronos shouted in surprise.

When the light faded, Winged Kuriboh was now wearing gold armor with a dragon design and its wings had grown several times larger. (10/300/200) The new Winged Kuriboh then wrapped its own wings around its body, protecting it from V-to-Z's attack.

"W-What's happening?!" Manjoume shouted in shock.

"Thanks to Evolving Wings, Winged Kuriboh evolves!" Judai explained. "Now, Winged Kuriboh's a Level-10!" Everyone watching the duel was awestruck by Judai's new card. "His effect let him sacrifice himself to destroy all Monsters in Attack mode, dealing their ATK as damage to the opposing player! Winged Kuriboh, send all that energy right back at him!"

A newly-armored furball absorbed the Machine's attack into its wings and then fired it right back at three times the size, destroying the giant robot and damaging Manjoume as a result.

Judai: 1000
Manjoume: 1000

"Tān endo!" Manjoume growled in frustration, having nothing left.

Manjoume's hand: 2

"Manjoume!" Judai called out to his opponent. "Now ours Lives are at 1000 points a piece. But it'd be interesting if I draw a Monster with an ATK of 1000 or higher, wouldn't it?"

"What crap are you spewing?! As if it'd be that simple!" Manjoume said angrily.

"But it'd be interesting if I draw one, wouldn't it? Ore no tān. Draw!" Judai called out as he drew his next card and looked at it. "I summon this card, Featherman, and I attack the player directly!"

Judai immediately played his card, summoning the winged E-HERO and letting it charge across the field, causing everyone watching to gasp at Judai's luck as his Monster struck Manjoume with its clawed arm, sending the Obelisk student to his knees. (3/1000/1000)

Judai: 1000 (winner)
Manjoume: 0000

"You did it!" Sho shouted happily as everyone cheered for the Osiris student. "You did it, Big Bro!"

"Way to go, Judai!" Kaito cheered as well.

"Incredible. He managed to win even against a card that strong," Akira said under her breath, her eyes widened slightly in surprise.

"Well now… I think this'd be an interesting story to share with Father," Zastin mused to himself.

"To have that many rare cards and lose…" Chronos said to himself in shock.

"It appears that there were grounds for him beating you, Professor Chronos," Samejima told the faculty member, causing Chronos to freeze up for a moment.

"You really must excuse me!" the Obelisk Boys dorm leader said before walking off.

Down on the field, Judai waved to everyone as they continued to cheer for him before performing his two-fingered salute to Manjoume, "Gotcha! That sure was a fun game!"

Manjoume raised his head to look at his opponent, seething angrily, "Judai…"

"Hey! Hey, Big Bro!" Sho called out to Judai as he, Misawa, Kaito, Akira, and Zastin walked up to the E-HERO duelist.

"You have shown me, Yuki Judai," Samejima said through the PA system in the gymnasium, earning everyone's attention. "Your trust in your deck, your passionate friendship with your Monsters, and most importantly, a dueling soul that never gives up in a fight… These are things I'm sure everyone here has acknowledged. So, as the winner, Yuki-kun, you are… being promoted to Ra Yellow!"

"Congratulations!" all the students in the gymnasium shouted their cheers. "Good going, Judai!"

"You're incredible! You're just awesome, Big Bro!" Sho praised the E-HERO duelist before hugging him from behind. "You've overwhelmed me!"

"Aren't I though?" Judai said with a laugh.

"Yuki Judai, congratulations, and welcome to Ra Yellow," Misawa said as he held out his hand.

"Yeah!" Judai said enthusiastically as he shook Misawa's hand.

"And allow us to welcome you as well," Zastin said as he and Akira walked up next to Misawa.

"A strong duelist like you is sure going to make things fun around here," Akira said as the other students continued to cheer and confetti started falling from the ceiling.

'So, now, Big Bro is an official Ra Yellow student,' Sho thought to himself as he stared at Judai happily. 'It's gonna be lonely being separated from my Big Bro, but… I suppose this is all for the best. Congratulations, Big Bro… Congratulations!'

Later that evening, everyone had returned to their dorms. Kaito in particular was sitting at his computer, having told the entity living inside of it what had happened during the exam.

"That's great news, Kaito-san!" the entity said happily. "I'm glad your friend was able to do so well for himself."

"Yeah… Even though it's only been a few days, it's going to be strange not having Judai around here," Kaito said. "But he deserves it."

"And if you keep things up, you should be right behind him," the entity noted, causing Kaito to chuckle a bit.

"Maybe. I think it's too early to tell for me," the Data-HERO duelist said.

There was a moment of silence in Kaito's room until a loud noise from Sho's room caught his attention.

"Big Bro! What are you doing here?" Sho's voice shouted in surprise.

"Why am I here? This is my room you know," Judai's voice responded, causing Kaito to stifle a laugh. "Where's the harm in me coming back to my own room? That's right! I like it here! I like Osiris Red, the same red as seething flames, boiling blood, and fervent zeal! I never ever plan on leaving it!"

Kaito then couldn't help but burst out laughing as he suddenly heard Sho crying happily and Judai laughing loudly.

"Looks like things will still be entertaining around here," Kaito said between his laughing as the female entity in his computer giggled happily.

(1) I'm sure most of you reading this knows what "kawaii" means, but for those of you that don't it usually means someone/something is cute/adorable/etc.

A/N: And now with this chapter out of the way, I have gotten some messages over the past while from people wondering about Kaito's past or even trying to guess it. Well I have good news for you guys. Next chapter, Kaito's past and the history of the Digital HERO deck will be revealed!