Chapter 1: Hunt for an A.I
I made original cards a while ago and I really like Vrains, so like, just let me enjoy some self insert fun and you guys can let me know if you like it. And I'm a witch, so enjoy elements of that too, but if your witchcraft beliefs don't gel with mine, then kindly stay away.
Yusaku is 12 years old and life isn’t fair.
Everyone around him is running around, happy and smiling. They’re playing Duel Monsters, tag and other fun games. He wants to be a part of it all. But no one wants to be his friend. He doesn’t think he can even make friends after what he went through.
He stares at his food and makes three wishes he will never say aloud.
“ I want a friend. I want to be free. I want to change my fate. ”
Yusaku swallows his food-
He lifts his head, blinking in surprise. It’s an upperclassman, someone he doesn’t know well.
“Are you done eating? I was looking for someone to play with, if you want!”
Yusaku’s mouth opens in shock. Then he nods.
The upperclassman smiles, “Well let’s get to it then!”
Yusaku is 16 years old and life still isn’t fair. But he’s come to accept that.
Yusaku lifts his head, blinking when he sees, “Louisa.”
The girl in a black dress with pumpkins on it, wearing black leggings and combat boots grins, “How’s my brother doing today?”
Yusaku has stopped rolling his eyes at that line three years ago, “Fine, as usual. And you?”
Layra purrs and jumps into her arms. Louisa laughs and scratches the cat under her chin.
“Fantastic!” Louisa’s dark brown and blonde hair looks like a lion’s mane around her head. She reaches into her denim handbag while Layra climbs onto her shoulders and pulls out a rock, “Look what I found today!”
“What is it?” Kusanagi asks from the other side of the truck, “Another crystal?”
“Yep!” In Louisa’s hand sits a black stone.
Kusanagi hums, “You’re not going to tell us what it is?”
Louisa giggles and throws it at Yusaku, “Guess, my pupil! Guess!”
Yusaku catches the black stone, looking it over. Polished to a shine with white almost scars, “Apache tear. Used to turn away negative energies and calm negative emotions. Named so after the Apache Warriors who believed the Earth cried whenever one of them feel in battle and that tear would become the stone.”
“A+ as always, Yusaku!” Louisa cheers, spinning in a circle, making Layra yowl and jump into Yusaku’s lap.
Yusaku shakes his head and goes back to eating his hotdog, while petting Layra. He finishes a bite, then pockets the stone to add to his collection later. Until then, “Any luck on your hunt for the Hanoi?”
Louisa sobers immediately. Despite her sunny appearance, there’s more to her than meets the eye.
“No.” She groans and takes a seat across from him so Kusanagi can see her too, “I can’t hack like you guys, so bulldozing my way through their ranks is all I can do. It’s not enough to get them to stop showing up or to send out someone with actual rank though.”
“Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.” Kusanagi shrugs, “You said you weren’t that good of a Duelist.”
“Well I’ve been getting better!” Louisa huffs and sits up straighter, “I’m going to shred the next one I see, I can promise you both that.”
Kusanagi laughs, “Easy tiger, I’m not doubting your abilities. I just want you alive as much as Yusaku does.”
Yusaku sees them continue to bicker and exchange conversation and an odd sort of hollowness fills in his chest. Despite going through their own hardships, they’re still able to laugh and smile. They tease each other knowing they won’t hurt each other that badly. Even if she calls him her brother, Yusaku’s never been able to return the favour for Louisa.
Because they’re normal and he’s… not.
He might never be until he finally completes his revenge. But he can only do that after he is defeated.
“You’re awful quiet there buddy.”
Yusaku blinks, seeing Louisa looking at him in concern, Layra mewing with her paws on his chest and hearing Kusanagi behind the truck, “You care to share what’s on your mind?”
“Just thinking about the leader of the Hanoi.” Yusaku lifts his head, glaring at the sky painted orange and yellow by the setting sun and goes back to petting his Familiar, “Where could he be? For such a large legion, he’s difficult to find.”
Louisa blinks at him, but then stands up, determined, “We’ll find him some day. And when we do,” she grins and punches the air three times, “we’ll beat him up!”
Yusaku feels slightly better, but he knows optimism alone won’t help them. It’s half the battle to believe. The other half is to make it a reality. That’s what magic is all about. And having been a witch for over 4 years, Yusaku is well aware of how momentus a task this is for just the three of them. They can do it though; they have to.
Yusaku stands up and turns around, feeding Layra his hotdog as Kusanagi hands Louisa one, “Have you uncovered any new intel, Kusanagi?”
Kusanagi looks at the grill, then back at him, “Maybe it’s nothing, but there’s been an uptake in SOL Technology’s security searches.”
Louisa’s eyes widen and an angry glint appears in them; one he typically only sees unleashed in LINK VRAINS.
“Word on the Dark Net is they’re hunting for something.” Kusanagi continues, holding up his prongs, “An Artificial Intelligence Program, if the rumors are true.”
Louisa speaks with her mouth full, “Uhh, I know I’m not the brains of the operation, but isn’t an A.I supposed to just do what you tell it to?” She swallows and breaks off a small piece of her hotdog to feed Layra, “Why would you need to track it down, it can’t just decide to run away on it’s own? Right?”
Yusaku looks down, humming, “It must certainly be quiet the A.I.”
“And if SOL Technologies wants it, you know who else wants it.” Kusanagi points out the obvious.
“Hanoi.” Louisa crumples together her napkin, her hot dog gone in a matter of minutes, “I can’t wait until my Warriors get the chance to hack them to pieces. If only we could figure out a way to lure those Black Hats to us.”
Yusaku looks up, “That’s it! I have an idea.”
Louisa looks at him in confusion, “What I’d I say, bro?”
“Kusanagi, fire it up!” Yusaku walks around the side of the truck, climbing in with Louisa behind him and Layra on his shoulders.
“But the grill’s already lit.” Kusanagi lightly protests.
“Not the grill, the computers.” Yusaku closes the hatch and pushes Kusanagi into his chair.
Louisa laughs a little awkwardly, “Oh great, you’ve figured out a tech thing and now I’m rendered useless other than getting you losers coffee so you don’t pass out.”
“Hey don’t be like that Louisa. Your coffee is life saving.” Kusanagi laughs, then turns to Yusaku, “So what’s your idea, Yusaku?”
Layra jumps and hits a button on their cupboards and what were cupboards of condiments and ingredients, become a flat screen with a variety of folders.
“If we capture this A.I before anyone else, instead of having to search for the Knights of Hanoi, I can lure them to me.” Yusaku takes his seat, Layra sitting in his lap.
“Uhh I think you mean us, Yusaku.” Louisa huffs, turning on the coffee machine.
Yusaku doesn’t correct her, knowing not involving her won’t work, “And you, Lou.”
“What makes you think you can catch this A.I when everyone else has failed?” Kusanagi questions.
Yusaku types as quickly as he can, while Layra yawns and curls up, “They’re doing it wrong. Instead of chasing it, you have to guild it by hacking and shutting down pathways in the city’s grid.”
“The whole city?!” Louisa drops a spoon on the counter.
“Play things right and it leaves the A.I a single escape route.” Yusaku grabs his Duel Disk, “Into here.”
“That’s a lot of coding for just one person.” Kusanagi sounds sceptical.
And that is the real reason why Yusaku won’t push Kusanagi or Louisa away. Because even if they shouldn’t be involved in his revenge against the Hanoi. Even if they’re normal. Even if they should be enjoying happy lives, Yusaku could never make this much progress without them. He can’t lose either of them and they would be angry with him if he tried to turn them away, anyway.
So he turns to Kusanagi with a smirk, “Yes you’re correct. But it’s not too much for two.”
Kusanagi blinks then smiles in return. He turns to the computer, determined, “Then let’s do it.”
Louisa chuckles and sets a mug of coffee next to him, “You have at it then, boys. The coffee’s got the enchanted sugar in it for extra energy and I cast a small focusing spell on it.”
Yusaku takes a sip and feels the magic taking effect, “Thanks Lou.”
“Where would we be without your spells?” Kusanagi drinks his own, then turns his full attention on the computer.
Yusaku can’t help but agree with him. Where would he be without Louisa?
The boys code deep into the night, working like lightning while Louisa takes to casting small spells on their coffee, milk, sugar and hot water. They’re mostly focus and energy spells she perfected after hours of research in the library. She wishes she’d done some work on learning how to code and hack though. Maybe then she could be helping the boys and the A.I would already be theirs.
Louisa knows if she’d try to study tech, she’d probably break it. So she sticks to what she can do until she can help them in other ways.
A crowd cheers outside for two Charisma Duelists about to face off and Louisa takes a peak. A girl with wings and blue hair alongside a boy dressed for the wrestling arena. Blue Angel and Go Onizuka. She’d studied both when she was returning to the card game. Louisa hadn’t kept watch on them since she finished her research, though, since she’d had more pressing matters.
Like rescuing her brother.
“Step it up, SOL Tech have already started scanning the city!” Kusanagi shouts.
Louisa gasps and turns around, seeing it happening on their computer screens, “Oh for the love of Hecate.”
“Yes, just stay focused.” Yusaku continues to type, rapid fire fast.
Layra meows, getting out of his lap.
A crash and scream sounds outside, where people rush as something crashes down. Louisa looks through the truck, gasping in shock. The screens that were about to display the Charisma Duelists in action are broken, crashing to the floor while people run away in a panic. On the shattered screens is a Cracking Dragon, the ace monster of the Knights of Hanoi. One is riding on top of it.
“The Hanoi have joined the party!” Louisa turns around, watching the boys work, feeling helpless.
“Only a few more lines to go.” Yusaku grimes, “Kusanagi-”
“I’m not quitting either!” Kusanagi continues to type, “We’re too close!”
“Come on, come on.” Louisa clasps her hands together, “Please Hecate let us get that A.I, let us finish in time, please!”
Layra throws her head back and meows, as if calling to the Goddess too.
They have to do this, they have too! It has to work, it’s going to work, it’ll work!
“The impossible is just the possible yet to be done.” Yusaku repeats this three times.
Louisa gasps, recognizing his manifestation spell.
“Initiating backdoor passage!” Yusaku hits the enter key.
Lightning fills the truck. Louisa yelps, picks up Layra and runs out it, Yusaku hot on her heels with his Duel Disk strapped to his wrist, Kusanagi behind him.
“If the A.I took the bait…” Yusaku runs to the centre of the plaza as others run away, lightning crackling through the air. He thrusts his arm up, Duel Disk high, “it’ll come straight here!”
Louisa shouts as lightning continues to strike, filling up the plaza, by some miracle missing Yusaku each time. She shields her eyes at particularly bright bursts, fear for her brother infecting her. Layra cries out on her shoulders.
“Hecate protect him, please!” Louisa screams.
She’s already lost one, she can’t lose the other brother. She can’t-
The lightning stops. She opens her eyes to see Yusaku looking at his Duel Disk and a yellow eye on it’s screen, with black eyelids and purple lines. Louisa walks over to look at it closer, Layra peaking at it curiously over her shoulder.
“Hello there. You must be the A.I everyone wants.” Yusaku says remarkably calmly.
Louisa slumps, “I can’t keep doing this, you’re giving me a heart attack.”
“Where am I?” The A.I questions.
“Inside my Duel Disk. And I spliced in some safeguards, so you can’t alter it’s programing.” Yusaku explains.
Kusanagi peers over Yusaku’s shoulder at the A.I. Layra hisses at the A.I.
“So I’m trapped in here?!” The A.I exclaims, looking between the three of them, “Who are you clowns?!”
“Clowns who rescued you from the Knights of Hanoi.” Kusanagi puts his hands on his hips.
Louisa chuckles, “I’m not a clown, I’m a witch.”
It’s okay. The worst of the danger has passed. Yusaku’s still here, so is Kusanagi, so is Layra and so is Louisa. They’re okay.
“I’m sorry I called you stupid, ugly clowns!” The A.I sobs, then it’s voice turns snarky, “Let me go.”
“No.” Yusaku deadpans.
Louisa laughs again, then turns to the truck, “Ready to give the Hanoi something to be scared of?”
Yusaku turns to her and nods. With that, they head for the truck, each of them jumping into their own Vrain Room. Louisa clips her Deck into the Duel Disk and calls out the activation code.
“INTO THE VRAINS!”
Card Profile: Welsh Warrior Bendigeidfran
[Image of a giant man standing in the middle of the ocean. He has a long buckskin cloak, wearing a yellow shirt with blue flannel pants. He has a golden crown around his head. His hair is dark and he has an impressive beard and a small moustache. His wrists are adored with leather straps, to match his belt around his long shirt. He has a sword in his left hand and a circular shield on his right shoulder]
Monster Card. DARK. Level 5.
Type: Warrior, Effect
Effect: When you take damage while Welsh Warrior Branwen is on the field, you can special summon this card from your Hand, Deck or Graveyard.
ATK: 3000/ DEF: 2500.
Chapter 2: I am Gwenllian
“You can do magic?” Yusaku asks with wide eyes.
The upperclassman laughs and tips her hat, “Of course I can, I’m a witch!”
Yusaku knows she’s smart and has been nothing but honest with him. Just because he’s never seen magic doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Stranger and more horrifying things have happened to him than someone claiming magic to be real. It sounds nice to be able to use it.
“I wish I could do magic.” Yusaku says, looking at his food.
Louisa smiles at him, “How about I teach you then, Fujiki-kun?”
His eyes widen and he looks at her, “You can do that?”
“Yeah, anyone can be a witch if they believe!” She pulls a book from her bag and gives it to him, “Look at the chapter on The Science Of Magic. It’ll help!”
Yusaku takes the book then looks up at her in confusion, “Why are you giving this to me?”
Louisa smiles and ruffles his head. He’s too shocked to pull away, “Because that’s what friends do.”
Yusaku can’t help but stare, his heart freezing.
He’d wished so badly for a friend, knowing how wide the abyss between himself and others were. But somehow, someway, she’d crossed it and he hadn’t noticed. The lunches together while Louisa laughed and called everyone around them strange. The food she’d insist on sharing with him, even though the stuff he got from the store was perfectly fine. He didn’t think he’d ever thanked her for her company once, or made much acknowledgement of the bond that was only just forming.
He offers her a small smile and takes the book gratefully, “Thank you.”
Gwenllian lands on the ground easily. Her braided ginger hair flows down to her ankles as her green eyes look over the crumbling battlefield. A Knight of Hanoi is going after Go Onizuka, who is running away in a desperate attempt to not get burnt to a crisp by Cracking Dragon. Gwenllian dashes over, pulling the dragon shaped shield from her back and slamming it on the ground. The Dragon’s fire returns to it, burning the Hanoi on top, making him scream.
“I didn’t need your help!” Go Onizuka shouts.
Gwenlllian rolls her eyes and puts her shield back on her back, over her sword. The chainmail on her chest clacks as she turns around to give him a smug grin, “Yeah, but I did. Thanks for providing a target to shoot the dragon’s fire back at. With how mad the Knight of Hanoi should be, he’ll be all too happy to Duel me.”
The Knight of Hanoi roars on cue.
Gwenllian giggles, green dress swishing as she turns around, “Hi, Hanoi! Ready to explode in a toxic masculine induced rage? I’d be happy to be your attack target!”
The Knight of Hanoi snarls, “Lets Duel then!”
“Yay!” Gwenllian jumps for joy.
Go Onizuka snarls.
Within a few moments, Gwenllian and the Knight of Hanoi are in the Main Server of Link Vrains, a sprawling, rather dull looking city. They’re standing across from one another.
A faint ringing fills Gwenllian’s ears. A notification that Playmaker has started Duelling.
“You ready to rumble, Hanoi?” Gwenllian turns on her disk.
Then a roar breaks out.
She and the Hanoi turn their heads to see a wave of blue data hit the streets, with two boards on top it. Gwenllian shouts and jumps, then one of the boards lands under her. She waves her arms, struggling to find her balance as the Hanoi chases her with his own board. Gwenllian finally gains her balance and surfs out of the way before the Hanoi knocks her off.
“What is happening?!” Gwenllian shouts over the roar of the waves.
“A Datastorm! Created by the Ignis program I am hunting for!” The Hanoi growls, “I have no time to play with children like you!”
Gwenllian gasps, then snarls.
These clowns aren’t getting her brother.
But she smiles, getting to her feet, “Too bad for you losers, Playmaker already has it!”
The Hanoi snaps, “WHAT?!”
“And you can only get to him if you go through me!” Gwenllian activates her Duel Disk anew, “It is an older sister’s job to protect her brother.”
The Hanoi smirks and activities his own Duel Disk, “Fine, this won’t take long.”
“It certainly won’t!” Gwenllian places her hand over her Deck, “Hecate guild me.”
Go Onizuka looks over the waves of Data, at the hotshot dude with the plainest avatar he has ever seen and then at the warrior princess.
He growls, “Those show offs. They’re hogging the spotlight.”
He can’t believe this.
Shoichi looks at the monitors that had been cut in half, one displaying Gwenllian’s Duel and the other Playmaker’s. The crowd are as shocked as he is to see the Datastorms up and running again.
Layra jumps onto his shoulder and he pets her.
“You worried, too?” Shoichi murmurs.
Layra rubs her face against his.
He turns his eyes back to the board, “ Win this Yusaku, Lou. I’m not up for losing a sister or a brother. ”
It times like this when he wishes he was better at Duelling. Maybe then he could help them.
“The first move is mine!” The Hanoi draws.
Gwenllian gasps when she sees he only has 4 cards in his hand. She looks at her own, gulping when she sees the same. Looks like whatever this Speed Duel is, the rules are different.
“I Special Summon 2 Hack Worms using their ability! When you have no monsters on your field, they automatically come out!” The Hanoi places two cards on his Duel Disk and two identical monsters appear on the field, looking like dark armored worms.
Gwenllian gulps, her mind spinning, “Two low level, ATK position monsters on the very first turn without using the Normal Summon.” She gasps, “Oh shavings, you’re going to tribute them!”
“Good observation, girly!” The Hanoi laughs, “Meet my Cracking Dragon!”
The monster that had been terrorizing LINK VRAINS appears before her, a black spiked dragon with 3000 ATK.
Gwenllian smiles shakily, “At least you can’t attack on the first turn.”
The Hanoi grins, “That won’t matter if you don’t watch where you’re going!”
Gwenllian turns her head and screams when she sees the building she’s rushing towards. She surfs to the side, barely escaping a nasty collision. She shudders as she regains her breathe, turning to face the Hanoi behind her.
“What do you mean it won’t matter if you can’t attack, so long as I don’t watch my step?!” Gwenllian shouts, keeping one eye in front of her now.
The Hanoi throws his head back and cackles, “In a Speed Duel, if you fall off the board, not only do you lose, but you’ll suffer in the real world too! I can’t even imagine the damage the fall would do to a brain already as small as yours!”
Gwenllian’s eyes widen, “So I’m fighting for my life here?!”
“About time you got it!” The Hanoi grins, “I end my turn.”
Gwenllian looks at her hand. Two traps, a spell and a Level 5 Monster. Nothing she can use to protect herself. It’ll come down to whatever she draws.
“Goddess of Witchcraft, hear my call! Summon to me what I need, to guard what I love!” Gwenllian thinks of Yusaku, Kusanagi, her brother, her family, Layra and herself. She grabs her card and, “I DRAW!”
Gwenllian looks and gasps in delight, “YES! I place a card face down and then! I summon Welsh Warrior Ceffyl Dŵr!”
A beautiful white horse appears on her field with backward facing hooves and purple eyes. The horse calls out a warning.
Gwenllian smiles, “Thank you Hecate. Thank you, guys.”
Shouts fill the crowd, “Impossible!”
Naoki looks around in confusion, “What, what is it?!”
Someone he’s never seen before turns to him, “The Welsh Warrior Deck was the custom Deck of the European Championship Winner who died in a car accident 6 years ago! Her cards were burnt with her body, there’s no way they can exist now!”
Another person gasps, “The Marie Evans?! How can this be?! Are you telling me that this girl is her?!”
Naoki gasps as the rumors and shouts break out. A dead Duelist back to life?! In LINK VRAINS?! How?!
The Hanoi scoffs, “What’s that puny monster going to do to my Cracking Dragon?!”
Gwenllian laughs, recounting the tale with glee, “In Welsh Mythology, the Ceffyl Dŵr are tricksters who pick up travelers and dump them far, far away from where they once were. Sometimes you’d survive the fall, other times you wouldn’t.” She points at Cracking Dragon, “I don’t think my little buddy will be so kind to your Dragon though! Go!”
Ceffyl Dŵr gallops towards the dragon. He lifts it up on his back and gallops high into the sky, despite having no wings. He does a cartwheel and Cracking Dragon plummets to the street level, exploding into data on impact.
The Hanoi shouts, “What?! But my Cracking Dragon can’t be destroyed by a Monster with a lower Level!”
“That’s only in battle, Hanoi scum!” Gwenllian glares, “And he still has his attack! Strike him directly, Ceffyl Dŵr!”
Ceffyl Dŵr charges the Hanoi directly and the attack lands true.
Knight Of Hanoi: 3200
Gwenllian smiles and pets the horse when he returns to her side, “Thank you for coming to my rescue.”
Ceffyl Dŵr nibbles her hair. She laughs and turns towards the Hanoi, “I end my turn!”
Naoki cheers with the crowd, “Yeah! Show them what you’re made of Gwenllian!”
“She beat his Dragon so easily!”
“Is she really that strong?”
“Or are the Hanoi just weak?”
“What about Playmaker?! His Cyverse Wizard couldn’t destroy Cracking Dragon.”
“Have faith! If these two really are brother and sister, then Playmaker must be stronger than he looks and he still did the Hanoi more damage!”
Naoki can’t help but smile wider. This is so cool.
“It’s my turn and I activate my Skill!” The Hanoi shouts, the lines on his outfit glowing.
Gwenllian gasps, “What’s a Skill?!”
“It’s an ability I’m allowed to use once per Duel! Mine is called Double Draw and allows me to draw 2 new cards!” The Hanoi pulls out two cards from his Deck.
“Oh fish cakes.” Gwenllian murmurs.
“I activate the spell DDos Attack! By sending two more copies of this card to the Graveyard, you take 800 points of damage for each one!” The Hanoi sends the copies to his graveyard.
“1600 points of damage?!” Gwenllian shouts.
A red laser fires from his card.
Ceffyl Dŵr cries out.
Gwenllian falls off her board.
Knight of Hanoi: 3200
Shoichi gasps, “No.”
The crowd break out into paranoia.
“Is what that Knight said true?! Will she really lose the Duel if she hits the ground?!”
“Forget the Duel, what about her mind?! He said she’d suffer mentally from a fall!”
“I can’t watch!”
“Someone save her please!”
Gwenllian looks around in a panic, mind in overdrive, trying to find a solution as the ground rushes up to meet her-
Gwenllian turns her head to see Go Onizuka throwing her board down to her. She reaches out, grabbing it’s sides as it races past her. She crawls on, clinging to her sides and pulls up just before she hits the ground.
She gasps as she bursts through the Datastorm and sees Go Onizuka on a building behind her.
“Thank you!” Gwenllian shouts, smiling.
Go Onizuka growls, “I only did it to pay you back! Never speak to me again!”
Gwenllian laughs, “Okay Mr Tsundere! Thanks again!”
And she surfs away before he can scream at her some more.
Shoichi lets out a breathe seeing Playmaker and Gwenllian back on their boards. Looks like he’s not losing either of them yet.
Layra yawns and falls asleep on his shoulders. Shoichi catches her before she falls.
She must’ve used her magic to save them both. Poor kitty.
Shoichi resolves to get her some fancy tuna next time he has the chance.
Ceffyl Dŵr returns to her side, licking her face. Gwenllian smiles and rubs his snout, then the two catch up with the Hanoi, who’s laughing maniacally.
“That was really rude ya know, knocking me off my board!” Gwenllian shouts.
The Hanoi stops and turns, “How did you survive?!”
“I had some help from a secret admirer.” Gwenllian giggles, winking at the left where the camera is.
Ceffyl Dŵr snickers as they hear someone (likely Go Onizuka) scream.
“Well your Knight in Shining Armor can’t save you now!” The Hanoi activates a card, “I activate the effect of my third Hack Worn and normal summon Jack Wyvern!”
The two monsters appear on the field.
Ceffyl Dŵr whinies.
Gwenllian’s eyes narrow, “I’m worried, too.”
“Now I activate Jack Wyvern’s effect!” The Hanoi throws his hands up, “By banishing this card and one face up Monster, I can summon one DARK Monster from my Graveyard!”
“Oh for the love of all that is good and evil!” Gwenllian shouts.
The two new monsters disappear and the mighty Cracking Dragon replaces them.
“Now I Equip Cracking Dragon with Aircrack Storm!” The Hanoi shouts and Cracking Dragon is decorated with blue laser cannons, “Now when my Cracking Dragon destroys your Monster, it can attack again!”
Naoki grabs his hair, screaming, “If he destroys her monster, she’ll take 2200 points of Damage from that alone!”
“What if she falls off her board?!”
“Is there anything she can do?!”
“What about Playmaker, he’s not faring well either!”
“Will the Hanoi destroy everything?! What do they even want?!”
Naoki doesn’t know.
Ceffyl Dŵr whinies and jumps on his hind legs.
“No worries, buddy, I’ll protect you!” Gwenllian grins, and activates, “With my trap Uncatchable Horse! One Monster on the field can’t be selected as an attack target and I pick my Ceffyl Dŵr!”
Ceffyl Dŵr glows a silvery light and runs in circles around Cracking Dragon. The dragon fires it’s attacks, but it can’t catch Ceffyl Dŵr.
The Hanoi screams, “I end my turn!”
Gwenllian lets out a breathe and grins, “Uncatchable Horse is a Continuous Trap too, so no matter how long this Duel lasts, you can’t touch him!”
The Hanoi roars, “I’ll catch you and your ridiculous monsters, girly, just you wait!”
Gwenllian laughs, “Only if you can catch me.”
She speeds ahead, Ceffyl Dŵr riding beside her. But she can’t out run the Hanoi forever, nor does she want to. She has to protect Yusaku. She let down one little brother, she won’t abandon the other.
She takes a deep breath and “I DRAW!”
Gwenllian looks at the card in her hand and beams. She turns to her opponent and calls out, “I activate the Equip Spell Glamour! This lets me special summon a Level 5 or 6 Welsh Warrior from my hand without a sacrifice and it gains 500 ATK. Meet the giant king himself, Welsh Warrior Bendigeidfran!”
A giant man appears behind her, wearing a crown and a warrior’s garb. Bendigeidfran stands even higher than Cracking Dragon with 3500 ATK thanks to the boost from Glamour.
The Hanoi laughs, “And you’ve just worsened your chances at winning! I activate Cracking Dragon’s special ability! Your monster loses 200 ATK for every one of it’s Levels and you take damage to that amount!”
Gwenllian shouts, “NO!”
Bendigeidfran grows weaker as Gwenllian glows yellow.
Knight of Hanoi: 3200
Gwenllian frantically looks at her hand. She only has a spell and a trap in her hand she can’t use right now. Ceffyl Dŵr is protected by Uncatchable Horse, so as long as he’s on her field, Cracking Dragon can’t whip out all her points. But her plan to use Bendigeidfran to destroy him this turn has been stopped since he only had 2500 ATK now.
Then a thought strikes like lightning.
Her Skill! She doesn’t know what it is, but it might be able to save her.
“Hey Hanoi! Speed Duelling has been extinct on the Network for years.” Gwenllian drags the last word out, preparing the insult, “How did you know what your Skill was? Or are you so old you were around when Speed Dueling existed? Should you even be riding your board, if that’s the case? Are you wearing glasses behind that ugly mask, or do they have special lenses?”
The Hanoi roars, “You insolent bratty girl! Your Skill is something you know by looking at your profile, how dare you insult me!”
“Thanks for the tip!” Gwenllian opens her profile and looks.
Skill: By bringing your Life Points to 100, you can Special Summon a random Welsh Warrior Monster in your Deck.
Gwenllian bites her lip. It’s a risky move. But she knows her Deck will pull through. She will pull through. She can not let Yusaku down. She can not abandon her quest to rescue her brother. And she absolutely can not let SOL Technology get away with what they’ve done to her family.
“I activate my Skill, Summoning A Warrior!” Gwenlliam glows yellow, “By bringing my Life Points to 100, I can Special Summon a Welsh Warrior from my Deck!”
A shadow of a dragon appears on the field.
“Meet my Ace Monster, Hanoi!” Gwenllian shouts, “Cymru, The Welsh Dragon!”
A massive red dragon appears on the field, roaring for all the virtual world to hear, it’s 3200 ATK ready to be used.
Knight of Hanoi: 3200
The Hanoi laughs, “Big mistake girly! I activate Cracking Dragon’s effect-“
“And I activate my Dragon’s effect!” Gwenllian declares, “By lowering his ATK by 100, I can negate any damage I take this turn.”
“But your Monster still loses his ATK!” The Hanoi smirks.
Cymru’s attack goes down from its whooping 3200 to 1700.
“You put on a good show girly, but it’s time to end this. You have nothing on your field that can begin to stand up to the might of my Cracking Dragon!” The Hanoi laughs, “End your turn already!”
“Not sure how you missed it man, but the show is still on!” Gwenllian grabs a card.
The Hanoi shouts, “What?!”
“I activate the Field Spell Otherworld!” Gwenllian plays her card, “All Welsh Warriors gain 1000 ATK!”
Ceffyl Dŵr stands on his hind legs as his points raise to 1800.
Cymru roars, wings spread wide as he goes to 2700.
Bendigeidfran draws his blade, his ATK rising to his 3500 thanks to Glamour.
The Hanoi laughs, “Your Monsters still don’t have enough levels to destroy Cracking Dragon!”
“I can still deal you damage though!” Gwenllian subtly plays a face down and throws out her hand, “Bendigeidfran attack!”
Bendigeidfran swings his sword down on Cracking Dragon.
Knight of Hanoi: 2700
“I end my turn!” Gwenllian smiles, “And you should be worried because that means Cymru’s and Bendigeidfran’s ATK go up, up and up since Cracking Dragon isn’t affecting them anymore!”
Cymru flaps his mighty wings, his ATK raising to 4100.
Bendigeidfran shoulders his sword, his strength going to 4500.
The Hanoi laughs as he draws his card, “That won’t matter! I activate my trap Pulse Bomb! All your Monsters switch to DEF and the same thing will happen to anything else you summon.”
“CYMRU! BENDIGEIDFRAN!” Gwenllian shouts.
Cymru curls his wings around his head, his points going to 2600.
Bendigeidfran takes an unwilling knee, dropping to 2500 points.
Ceffyl Dŵr goes on his own knees, his points falling to 1200.
“And with Aircrack Storm in play, I can destroy them both!” The Hanoi throws his hand in her direction, “Destroy them my mighty dragon!”
Cracking Dragon roars, fire bursting from its mouth. Cymru gives her a sad look as the flames consume him. Bendigeidfran gives her a determined smile.
Gwenllian feels tears fall down her cheek.
Shoichi nearly swears.
“That was her best chance of winning!” Some kid from Yusaku’s school turns to him, “How is she supposed to beat the Hanoi now?!”
“Her Ceffyl Dŵr can’t be destroyed right now, but it’s only a matter of time before the Hanoi figures out how to destroy it!”
“She only has 100 life points left! Her Skill was wasted!”
Shoichi holds Layra close, trying not to crush the poor cat.
Gwenllian’s head hangs low as she cries.
The Hanoi laughs, “Had enough, girly?”
She roars and throws out her hand, “I activate the trap, Bottomless Bag! When a Monster on my side of the Field is destroyed and I have less than 1000 Life Points, I can send everything on your Field to the Graveyard!”
“What?!” The Hanoi gasps.
Pulse Bomb, Aircrack Storm and Cracking Dragon burst into yellow dust.
Ceffyl Dŵr raises to his feet at 1800.
Gwenllian shouts through her tears, “NO ONE HURTS MY FAMILY HANOI! NO ONE! HAVE YOU GOT ANYTHING ELSE YOU CAN DO?!”
The Hanoi gapes at her, “Uhhh no.”
“THEN ITS MY TURN!” Gwenllian draws her card, her tears like stardust on the wind.
Ceffyl Dŵr raises to his hind legs, kicking the ground with his backward faced hooves.
Gwenllian looks at her card and smirks, “In the ancient tales, the Giant King Bendigeidfran crosses the sea to rescue his sister from her abusive husband.” She throws the card on her Duel Disk, “Now it’s her turn to protect him! Welsh Warrior Branwen average your brother!”
A girl with black hair dressed in a magnificent gown. Her 1800 ATK look more than ready to be used, her eyes hardened in anger.
The Hanoi growls.
Gwenllian’s tears stop.
And she smiles, “Ceffyl Dŵr, you get first strike!”
Ceffyl Dŵr charged the Hanoi, nearly knocking him off his board.
Knight of Hanoi: 900
“Branwen finish it!” Gwenllian roars.
Branwen runs up to the Knight of Hanoi and punches him in the face, off his board.
Knight of Hanoi: 0
The Knight of Hanoi goes flying while Gwenllian surfs on, smiling, “Never doubt a witch’s abilities. Humans feared us for a reason.”
Card Profile: Welsh Warrior Ceffyl Dŵr
[A tall white horse, water dripping off every inch of it. It’s hooves face backwards, with gentle purple eyes. It stands in a misty forest, with a waterfall behind it.]
Monster Card. WATER. Level 2.
Type: Beast, Effect
Effect: On the turn it’s summoned, this card can send one of your Opponent’s Monsters to the graveyard.
ATK: 800/ DEF: 1200.
Chapter 3: Lifestyles of the Broke and the Famous
“Sigils are some of my favourite magical tools, Yusaku!” Louisa laughs, showing him a page in her notebook, “You make them yourself, they can act like a secret code or language, and no one knows they’re magic unless you tell them! It’s like hiding in plain sight!”
Yusaku flicks through the book with care, “You really think this can help me with my nightmares?”
“Yep!” She turns to an empty page, “It’s better to make it yourself though. You can look at my method on sigil making if you like, but you can make up your own too.” Louisa ruffles his head, “Magic is all about what works for you.”
Yusaku hums and pulls out a pencil, “Okay then.”
“Top tip though.” She nods sagely, arms folded, “If you want something scary to go away, find something funny. The funny thing can full your head with positive thoughts that make the negative ones-” Louisa yelps and falls over, screaming dramatically, “COWER IN FEAR! FUN AWAY FROM THE LIGHT, IT’LL BURN US ALL! AHHHHHHHHH!”
Yusaku covers his mouth as he giggles.
Then he says aloud, “Oh nightmares so wicked, I banish you to Ponyville!”
She gasps and sits up, an evil look on her face as she holds her hands in front of her, “Yusaku you little genius, yes! You can write that on a piece of paper and put it in your pillowcase!”
Yusaku smiles and does just that. Then he and his mentor continue to perfect and make a sigil to keep away the nightmares. He draws it on his skin before he goes to sleep. He still has a nightmare, but it doesn’t completely destroy him. He manages to sleep afterwards as well.
Shoichi breathes a sigh of relief as the crowd breaks out into cheers. Playmaker and Gwenllian won their Duels.
“Amazing!” That boy from Yusaku’s school pumps a fist, “Playmaker totally crushed the Hanoi! Gwenllian rocked her Duel too! That was so flash.”
Shoichi smiles in agreement.
Layra stirs in his arms, meowing up at him. Shoichi laughs and scratches under her chin. She purrs in his arms and Shoichi melts just a little. She’s so cute.
Playmaker turns the corner, shocked to see, “Gwenllian!”
Gwenllian turns her head and waves, smiling, “Hey Playmaker! Guess who took out a Hanoi and is about to interrogate him?”
Playmaker hums in acknowledgment, “I was about to ask you the same thing.”
Gwenllian beams, “That’s my little brother!”
The A.I in his Duel Disk groans, “Ugh, she’s so bright, it’s like looking into the sun.”
Playmaker can’t help but disagree just a little bit. Louisa has been bright and sunny since he’s known her, but she’s not sunshine and rainbows anymore than he is.
“Let’s go find the Hanoi then.” Playmaker jumps off his board.
“Right behind you, brother!” Gwenllian laughs.
They land on a rooftop where two Knights of Hanoi are sprawled out like ugly starfish. They look identical, which is annoying. It means they’re both of an especially low rank in the Knights of Hanoi’s command chain.
Still they must have some information, “Tell us who leads the Knights of Hanoi!”
“Or else!” Gwenllian attempts to glare like ice but it’s not that frightening.
The Knights groan, one saying, “You’ll get no secrets from us.”
The other smirks, “But we do have something to share!”
Their masks glow with a blinking red dot. Gwenllian swears are drowned out by the in game fog horn meant to ban them.
“What to do, what to do, what to do?!” The A.I in his Duel Disk panics, “Ah-ha!”
Then it bursts out like an angry monster with a load of tentacles. Gwenllian screams as it wraps it’s body around the two Hanoi, saying something about eating them. It’s mouth opens wide and with a blinding burst of ones and zeroes, the Hanoi are no more and the A.I’s monstrous form returns to his Duel Disk.
It burps, “That hit the spot.”
“YOU ATE THEM?!” Gwenllian shudders all over.
“Uh, your welcome. If it weren’t for me, your digital bodies would be splayed across the roof like an inkblot test. Two words: thank you.” The A.I rolls it’s eye, “Is that so hard?”
Playmaker turns around, Go Onizuka jumping from a building behind him.
Gwenllian beams and waves at him, “Hi-ya, Mr Tsundere!”
“SHUT UP!” Go Onizuka shouts, “Tonight was supposed to be my night until you newbies surfied right in and crashed the party!”
“Chill out, Go, he kinda saved my life!” Blue Angel is behind him now, so Playmaker turns to her, “But still, who are you two, really?!”
Playmaker dead pans at them, “And why would you expect me to answer you?”
“Bye-ya!” Gwenllian giggles.
The two of them teleport back to their boards and escape the two Charisma Duelists on the Datastorm. Then they log out.
Louisa climbs out of her Vrains Room with a yawn, “Ohh God, that was mentally taxing. I need a break.”
She walks towards the room next to hers and frowns. She bangs her fist against the door, but nothing.
“Yusaku Fujiki, get your head out of there now and get some fudging sleep or so help me, I will jinx you!” Louisa shouts.
“On my way!”
Louisa steps back from the door as Yusaku stumbles out of it. She catches him and picks him up, holding him on her back with his arms over her shoulders.
He frowns at her, “I don’t need you to carry me home.”
“Nope, but I do need to make sure you get there okay.” Louisa grins, “So you’re stuck being my backpack until I make sure you get to your trash house.”
Yusaku sighs, but doesn’t protest, so that’s a win.
Kusanagi opens the door, Layra in his arms and laughs at the sight, “Oh geez, I better drive you two home.”
“Thank you, Kusanagi.” Louisa sets Yusaku down in his chair, “In the meantime, I’ll feed everyone with the omelette I made this morning.”
Yusaku’s stomach grumbles little, then when Louisa looks at him, he’s gone pink in the face and is looking down.
Kusanagi laughs, “Don’t worry Yusaku, I was thinking the same thing.”
“I’m flattered you two like my cooking so much, but seriously, you guys need to figure out how to make food so you don’t starve yourselves.” Louisa ruffles through the fridge until she finds the container she was looking for, “It might be me one day who needs the energy boost from being in Vrains too long.”
“Hecate forbid it, please.” Yusaku calls out, dramatically.
Louisa laughs and finds the container with the omelette, “Just relax while I heat it up. Thank God it’ll just be another boring day at the magic shop tomorrow, I need it after this show.”
Kusanagi hums, putting Layra in Yusaku’s lap, “I wonder about that.”
The two Duelists look at him, blinking in confusion.
Kusanagi laughs, “Gwenllian and Playmaker were pretty popular with the crowd out there on a night when everyone was expecting to see two Charisma Duelists show off their skills, not run away from a pair of cyber terrorists. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re both on a few news channels.”
Louisa and Yusaku gulp and look at each other. Then they groan, heads hanging.
Tomorrow will be exhausting.
“Today on Good Morning LINK VRAINS we’re asking the question that has the virtual world a buzz! Who are Playmaker and Gwenllian?!”
“Good question, boy wouldn’t you, me and my grandma’s grandma like to know! But here’s what we do know! They’re a pair of winners!”
“The whole Man of Mystery angle Playmaker is working is genius! It’s absolutely terrific marketing! The legendary Marie Evans was very popular before her untimely demise, if she really is dead now! It’ll make her old fans abuzz with hope knowing their idol might still be with them! And there’s nothing as passionate as old fans being given a reason to hope again, myself being one of them!”
“Playmaker is more than a hero, he’s also a hunk! If he were in the alphabet, I’d put him under G for Gorgeous!”
“Ugh, you fell in love with an avatar? In the real world, he might be U for Ugly.”
“But Gwenllian is no slumps in the looks department! The whole Warrior Princess angle will really appeal to guys who are more into independant and fiesty ladies.”
“And if she really is Marie Evans, there’s no way she can be ugly in the real world. Back in her hay day, she was known as the Adorable Warrior for a reason. Can you imagine what puberty could have done to this cute face?”
“No need to imagine man, because the internet is full of people redrawing and making suggestions for what she must be looking like these days! Marie Evans was really popular with artists, since she sent a lot of her winnings to struggling art schools and communities!”
“Wow, she sounds like she was one hell of a person! I can see why she was popular!”
“Yeah, people were mourning her for months after the car crash! But if she is alive, then oh boy, oh boy, oh boy will her fans be happy to see her!”
“Playmaker saved us all when he stood up to the Knights of Hanoi! I wonder if he works for SOL Technologies. They should have done something about the Hanoi long before this!”
“Marie Evans saved my life! If she hadn’t been there, an icon for the weird girl like me, I wouldn’t be here! I really hope Gwenllian is Marie Evans! I wanna thank her for saving me.”
Meanwhile in LINK VRAINS itself, things are much the same.
“Hi! I’m ready for my interview!” A fake Playmaker cheers.
“It’s true, I am Marie Evans! Find out how I survived a car crash by clicking here!” A fake Gwenllian throws her hair over her shoulders.
“Hola! Como estas? Me llamo Playmaker!” A buff Playfaker flexes.
“Helo! Sut wyt ti? Fy enw i yw Gwenllian!” A similarly jacked Gwenllian flexes with him.
“Ignore those imposters, I’m Playmaker!” A low resolution with a feminine voice Playfaker shouts.
“And I’m the real Gwenllian!” A low resolution with a masculine voice Gwenllian stands next to him.
The internet is truly a buzz with Playmaker and Gwenllian.
Which causes nothing but a headache to their real life counterparts.
“Oh my Hecate, look at this. We’re trending!” Louisa groans, swiping her phone to upload a screenshot she took of every major social media’s list of popular topics.
Gwenllian and Playmaker are in the top three as individuals, with Marie Evans behind them and the two of them together in the top spot.
“This is scary, I keep feeling like someone is gonna jump out and whisper in my ear that they know my secret!” Louisa sits in the seat next to Yusaku, whimpering.
Layra hops into her lap and Louisa pets her on command.
“Just don’t act suspicious.” Kusanagi suggests.
Louisa gives him a deadpan look, “I’m a witch, Kusanagi, I will look suspicious everywhere I go!”
“Then proceed as normal.” Yusaku types away on his computer, minimizing the screenshot of their social media fame, “This doesn’t change a thing about our mission.”
Louisa nods, determined.
“Uhh, yes it will. You may have erased your log information, smart smart smart for a human.” The A.I rolls it’s eyes. “But you can’t dodge screenshots, bub! Everyone will be after you like viruses through a pop up!”
Yusaku squares his shoulders, “So you’re an expert then, are you?”
The A.I hums, “Oh I know a thing or two. When you hide out on the net for as long as I did, you learn a lot of things.”
“Like who leads the Knights of Hanoi?” Louisa walks over to the Duel Disk.
“Maybe, maybe not.” The A.I rolls it’s eye around as if teasing them, “But I bet I’ll think better if you let me out of here.”
“Doubt it.” Yusaku and Louisa say in sync.
Kusanagi laughs, “Twin instincts at it again.”
Louisa looks at him over her shoulder, confused, “But I’m 18.”
“If you’re not gonna share, then might as well try Plan B.” Yusaku picks up his Duel Disk and puts it on top of the scanner.
“Plan B? What’s Plan B? Flattery? Bribery? Snacks? Please say snacks!” The A.I says quickly.
Louisa laughs pitifully.
“I’m hacking your source code.” Yusaku deadpans.
“What?! If you poke the wrong port hole, I’ll end up dumber than a calculator!” The A.I narrows it’s eye, “Or worse, dumber than Lou.”
“I resent that!” Lou growls, fist raised.
“Kusanagi can you find a way to mute it?” Yusaku keeps his eyes on the screen.
“With pleasure.” Kusanagi presses a button and the A.I is quiet, “Just an idea, but maybe we should give it a name. Ya know so you don’t confuse it with other its.”
“No.” Yusaku couldn’t sound more disinterested if he tried.
Louisa laughs, “Yusaku.”
“Okay but I’m not as smart as you. Do it for me.” Kusanagi chuckles.
Louisa holds a hand over her mouth, snickering.
“Since it’s an A.I.” Yusaku takes a breathe, “Let’s call it Ai.”
“Hey not bad.” Kusanagi blinks and grins, “It is an eyeball after all. Okay then, Ai it is.”
“Now help me hack this source code.” Yusaku types faster.
Kusanagi takes his seat, “My man!”
Louisa lets out a few giggles that are hidden by the coffee machine. There is no heterosexual explanation for this and she loves it. It’s nice to be around her fellow Not Straights.
Especially since it’s them against the world.
Bishop: The Welsh Warrior Deck. The one Princess designed herself and entrusted to that silly little girl Marie Evans. Do we know how she escaped our facilities yet?
Knight: No, but we still have David Evans under lock and key. If this Gwenllian really is Marie Evans, she will likely come to rescue her brother at some point.
Rock: My concern is her ally, Playmaker. She claims to be his sister. Could David Evans have accessed LINK VRAINS somehow?
Bishop: Impossible. He is being monitored daily and he has no access to VR tech. He couldn’t Duel in LINK VRAINS even if he wanted to.
Knight: Regardless if it’s true, Playmaker is a formidable opponent and Gwenllian’s strength worries me. Even with her strongest monster eliminated, she defeated that Knight of Hanoi with intimidating skill.
Rock: Perhaps we should hire someone to get rid of her. We need Playmaker so long as he has the Ignis, but Gwenllian is bound to cause us nothing but trouble.
Bishop: Let's wait and see. Perhaps she will prove useful to us after all. We should see what she’ll do and then we can make our move.
Louisa lays on the ground almost blissfully, soaking in the light of the full moon. She has 5 candles lit around her, laying on a pentacle drawn in the dirt. Every breath in fills her with cleansing energy and every breathe out banishes stress and negativity. She looks up at the moon and the stars.
“Thank you Moon. I feel a lot better now.” Louisa smiles, “I should convince Yusaku to get in here, a break would do him good.”
She’d used up a lot of energy on focusing and energy spells since the boys had been coding since 4pm and it was now 11pm. Maybe put a little too much focus and energy since neither of them have taken any breaks. So a soak in the energizing moonlight was well overdue.
Louisa looks up at the moonlight and a memory takes hold.
“The Full Moon is the most powerful and beautiful moon, Marie. If you ever want to give a spell some extra power, the Full Moon is the time to cast it.”
“But what if I drain the Moon dry? I don’t wanna waste all it’s magic on my silly spells.”
“That’s why the Moon has phases, sweetheart. The New Moon is when the moon is filling up on fresh energy the stars send it as they fall! That’s why it looks black, so the stars can shine on it. Then the moon slowly turns to share the new energy with us again and the cycle continues.”
“What about the stars, Mama? What happens to them?”
“New stars are born where the old ones fall. So we’ll never run out of stars.”
“Marie, everything in life goes through phases. The Moon, the Seasons, the Year. Even you. You will go through phases where you hate the colour pink and you will go through phases you love it. You’ll want to learn and grow, even if it’s weird and cringy. Embrace all of your phases and always love yourself. Can you promise me you’ll do that?”
“I can! I’ll pinkie promise Mama!”
“That’s my little fighter.”
Louisa doesn’t realise she’s crying until a bad feeling fills her guts. She gasps, sitting up. She whips her tears and blows out each candle, turning her head towards the city. Yusaku bursts from the truck and runs straight for the railing.
“You sensed it too?” Louisa scrambles too her feet, looking around desperately.
Yusaku’s eyes narrow and Louisa sees blue data like the Datastorm in his eyes. She gasps at the sight.
The wind suddenly picks up and dread fills her gut. Louisa shouts as she looks up. She can’t see anything but she can sense something up there, looking for them. Something that wants to destroy them.
Yusaku backs off from the railing, his arm in front of him, his data filled eyes staring at something unseen. He lets out a sharp gasp, staring at something directly above him. He turns around, still staring as the wind dies down. Louisa tries to look but she can’t see anything out of the ordinary. She looks back at Yusaku, who’s got his arms half raised at his sides, like he’s unsure if he’s safe.
“Are you okay?!”
Then the data in his eyes vanishes and Yusaku straightens up, looking at Kusanagi, “I saw him!”
“Who?” Louisa shudders, hugging herself, “A human’s angry soul?”
“He just might be.” Yusaku turns to her, “He was in Ai’s memories attacking his world.”
Louisa gasps, looking up fruitlessly, “No way.”
“Do you think he was tracking us down?!” Kusanagi looks worried.
Yusaku puts his hands in his pockets, “Seems so.”
Louisa groans, “Damnit all to Hecate.”
They really can’t have simple lives can they?
Shoichi stands at Yusaku’s back, Louisa on his other side while Yusaku types for a moment. Layra is napping in her comfy cat bed in the corner. His head is spinning and Louisa is looking a little paler herself. But they have to find out who this guy is.
Yusaku turns to Ai, “Who was that in the video?”
Ai turns away.
“I unmuted you, so I strongly recommend stop pretending you can’t talk.” Yusaku lifts up his hand and grins savagely, “I could just delete you or hack your source code again.”
Louisa gapes at him.
“Alright, alright, I’ll talk you crazy flesh beast!” Ai shouts.
Louisa lets out a breathe and Shoichi has to agree with the statement.
“But a lot of my memories have been lost or damaged. I was lucky to escape with any memory circuits after that Dragon ate me!” Ai whimpers.
Louisa shakes her head, “What goes around comes around, I guess.”
Shoichi looks at her in confusion, then turns his attention back to Ai. He’ll ask later.
“So who is the guy in the video?!” Yusaku leans closer.
“That was Revolver.” Ai declares, dramatically, “Ya know your buddies, the Knights of Hanoi? He’s their Alpha Dog!”
Shoichi gasps, “Hold on, you mean their leader?!”
Louisa gasps, “No way.”
Ai laughs, “You should see the look on your faces! Goofy as ever. But as to who, what, where, when, why he attacked, well I don’t remember. Except who! Cause who’s me.”
Yusaku looks at the screen, where a picture of the guy in the video is. Louisa looks at it too, biting her lip, then looking at Yusaku. Shoichi can’t blame her for being nervous. He is too.
“He’s the one I want.” Yusaku declares.
Louisa suddenly turns pink in the face and chokes on a laugh.
Shoichi looks at her in confusion, “You okay?”
Louisa beams and nods her head, stifling giggles behind her hands. She removes them to mouth ‘gay’ at him.
Shoichi blinks and looks down at Yusaku’s determined eyes. He shrugs but nods in agreement.
That is a little gay out of context. When this is over, he and Louisa need to make a betting pool over how soon Yusaku realizes he’s Not Straight.
That’d be something he’d like to see.
Louisa smiles as she dances around the the shop, relishing in all the magic available. Massive mason jars of dried herbs cover one wall while a clothes rack spins lazily in the centre of the room. There’s shelves of crystals in every shape and size, wands, pyramids, geodes, clusters, square, ball, egg and double terminated to name a few. A table of tarot cards and next to it a bookcase displaying her favorite titles. On the ceiling is a painting of the moon in all it’s phases while zodiac constellations dot the sky. There’s paintings of fae, dragons and other mythology creatures on every wall.
Running the magic shop is nothing short of a blessing she thanks Hecate for everyday. Also Yusaku and Kusanagi for perfecting her ID so she can actually run the shop and make purchases for it.
The bell rings and she turns her head, beaming at one of her regulars, “Hey your highness! What can I get for you today?”
Louisa has never asked for his name and he’s never given it. But her snowy haired customer happens to look like he walked out a fashion magazine every time he enters the shop, so she’s taken to calling him Prince in her mind.
He chuckles, rolling his eyes a little, “Anything for banishment, if you please.”
Louisa hums, putting her chin in her fist, “Depends. What kind of banishment strength does it need? And what are you banishing?”
Prince grumbles, “A strong one. I need to get rid of a person.”
Louisa blinks, “I think I have some options. Why do you need this person gone? Are they a toxic presence in your life?”
Prince shakes his head, “They’re keeping me from achieving my goals and challenging me.”
He clenches his fist a little. Louisa blinks at him. Prince normally isn’t that emotive so whoever this is must really be getting to him.
Louisa smiles at him, “Do you want an old witch’s advice?”
Prince blinks at her and shrugs, “Very well.”
Louisa settles her arms at her side, relaxed, “Sometimes the Goddess gets us involved with challenging people because they make us grow. Maybe hold off on the banishment spell until a few weeks after you’ve spent time with this person. Then you’ll know if their presence in your life will make you stronger or make you worse off.” She turns, “In the meantime, maybe something for manifesting your goal? Clear Quartz is the go to crystal for anything specific.”
Prince blinks at her then laughs a little, nodding, “Very well then.”
Louisa beams at him, “Browse for however long you need! Think about your goal and feel for the crystal that will help. It will make itself known to you.”
Prince nods and does as she suggested. She bounds behind the counter and blinks when she sees three texts from Kusanagi.
Louisa’s heart squeezes and she checks them.
Daddy Long Legs: PM is logging in to take on a KOH
Daddy Long Legs: False alarm, it’s only Go Onizuka
Daddy Long Legs: SOL Tech has them both trapped in a giant steel cage. I’m hacking to get PM out but it’s not looking good
Louisa bites her lip. Not him. Not Yusaku too. But there’s nothing she can do.
Louisa grabs a Hematite and tells it to keep Yusaku safe.
Shoichi has his arms crossed when Yusaku returns to the truck. Louisa is sitting beside him, finishing her watch of the Duel since she missed the start, Layra sitting in her lap.
Shoichi glances at him, then turns his head, pouting, “It wasn’t easy programming that exit.”
Yusaku doesn’t look ashamed, “Yes. But it’s not every day I get to Duel just for the sake of it.”
Louisa smiles at him then punches Shoichi gently on the arm, “Dude lighten up. Normally you’re the one telling Yusaku that.”
Layra meows and Louisa goes back to petting him.
“Okay, true.” Shoichi leans back in his chair, “Go Onizuka is the top Charisma Duelist for a reason, not just because he’s entertaining.”
Yusaku blinks and Shoichi knows he won’t like it, but he’s gotta try. He wants Yusaku to be able to rely on others besides the two of them. It shouldn’t be them against the world, that’s not healthy.
“Ya know what?” Shoichi turns to face him, “If we really are going to take down the Knights of Hanoi, then we should try to get all the help we can get. We could use an ally like Go Onizuka.”
Louisa smiles at him, winking at him quick. Layra purrs as she’s scratched under her chin.
Yusaku turns away, “No. It’s too dangerous. This is our fight Kusanagi, it’s bad enough Louisa is involved-”
“Oi!” Louisa stands up, Layra meowing in shock as she loses her seat. She lands on her feet easily and hisses at Louisa. Louisa give her an apologetic look, then turns to Yusaku, “If your life is at stake, of course I’m involved! That’s what big sisters do, they protect their brothers Yusaku!” Louisa groans, “How many times must I remind you?”
“As many times as I remind you this doesn’t concern you.” Yusaku looks at them over his shoulder, then Rayla jumps on his back, “We must defeat the Knights of Hanoi without his help. I don’t want his type of Duelling to be tainted the same way mine was.”
Yusaku leaves the truck and Shoichi narrows his eyes. They can’t do this alone. Not forever.
Louisa has her hand over her heart, “Yusaku…”
Shoichi looks at her and knows she’s thinking the same thing. If only Yusaku could see it that way.
Card Profile: Welsh Warrior Branwen
[A beautiful girl in a dark blue dress with golden embroidery and patterns on the hem of the skirt and the sleeves. Her dark hair is curly and reaches her waist. There’s a tiara on her head and a grander crown held in her hands. But an ugly patchwork dress is at her feet. She stands on a boat with a starling on her shoulder.]
Monster Card. DARK. Level 3.
Type: Spellcaster, Effect
Effect: When another Welsh Warrior is on the field, this card cannot be destroyed by battle. Damage is calculated normally.
ATK: 800/ DEF: 2100
Chapter 4: The Earth Angel
“Okay buddy, today we’re going to learn a special kind of magic!” Louisa drags him to the catering classroom and he sees a small pile of food on one of the counters, “Kitchen magic!”
Yusaku stares at the food in confusion, then looks at Louisa, “What kind of magic would food have?”
“All sorts with the right imagination?” Louisa picks up a red pepper and a potato, “Food is where we get a lot of energy, but if you need a special type of energy or combination of energies, food magic is the way to go. And it’s useful.”
Yusaku pouts at the veggies on the table, “What if I don’t like it?”
“They’re good for you Yusaku, so learn to like it.” Louisa puts the veggies down, then grabs a chopping board and a knife, “Do you know how to chop food?”
Yusaku flushes and looks to the side, “Not really. I just buy premade stuff at the shops.”
Louisa smiles at him and ruffles his hair, “Wash your hands and I’ll teach you.”
Yusaku looks up at her with wide eyes, then nods, smiling a little.
Yusaku leans against the keyboard petting Layra as Kusanagi types away on the computer and Louisa hums behind him, sipping from a coffee mug. It’s a slow night for once, the first one they’ve had since the return of the Datastorms. Yusaku won’t lie, he has missed not having to see his virtual face plastered on every screen. He takes a sip of his own mug and blatantly realizes Louisa made him hot chocolate. She must be worried about his sleep schedule again. He can’t blame her.
“I’ve been tweaking my facial recognition program and I ran it on Blue Angel.” Kusanagi types away.
Yusaku blinks at him, curious, “What’d you find?”
Layra opens one eye, looking up at the screen.
“Her real world identity! Blue Angel is really Aoi Zaizen.” Kusanagi turns a little dramatic, “Aoi ZAIZEN. As in Akira Zaizen, head of SOL Technology’s security! The one who knows everything about everything! She’s his little sister!”
“She looks better in blue.” Ai observes.
Louisa frowns at Kusanagi, “Why does that matter? Why do you even have a facial recognition program?”
Yusaku has to agree with her. There’s no apparent value to this information but Kusanagi wouldn’t bring it up if he didn’t think it was important.
“Ya never know, a Hanoi might do us the favour of showing more than half their face for once. Taking them out in the real world would likely be easier.” Kusanagi shrugs, “As for why it matters Aoi Zaizen is Akira Zaizen’s sister, look at her uniform. Seem familiar?”
Yusaku looks at the profile photo too and recognises the outfit instantly.
Louisa turns around to look and blinks in surprise, “She goes to Yusaku’s school.”
“Bingo.” Kusanagi nods, “This is our in to SOL Tech guys. To learn about the secrets of your past. What better way than to get to SOL Tech’s big wig through his sister?”
Yusaku frowns. He doesn’t like this plan.
Louisa holds up a finger, “Uhh, we could try going for Akira Zaizen himself? Or some other goon in SOL Tech? Why go for a school girl?”
“Because this will be easy. All you gotta do is chat her up, become her friend and-” Kusanagi blinks then laughs, sitting back in his chair, “Wait that’s never gonna happen!”
Yusaku frowns in confusion. Why is he aborting the plan so easily? It’s not like him.
Ai is confused too, “Why not, Kusanagi?”
Kusanagi is grinning, “Can you imagine Yusaku actually making friends? That means he’d need to talk to another human being for more than two minutes.”
Yusaku leans back in his chair and bundles Layra against his chest. That stings a little, though it is true. Louisa chokes on her hot chocolate and some giggles. Traitor.
“True. He wouldn’t last two seconds, much less two minutes.” Ai rolls in his Duel Disk.
“Just picture it!” Kusanagi laughs, “Hi Aoi, I’m Yusaku. Do you like bowling? I like bowling!”
“Guys give him some credit.” Louisa sets down her mug, “He’d at least ask to be her friend, he wouldn’t beat around the bush.”
Yusaku relaxes a little, but continues to pet Layra. At least someone has some faith in him. Then again, Lou always has been the one person who always believed in him, even before all this.
“He’d still never go through with it! Never, ever, ever, ever!” Ai cackles.
Yusaku sighs. Ai is correct. He won’t attempt to be Aoi Zaizen’s friend for three reasons. 1) He has never spoken with her before and does not wish to begin now. 2) Aoi Zaizen appears closed off herself, she likely wouldn’t appreciate him attempting to insert himself into her affairs. 3) He still can’t comprehend how Louisa became his friend, he doubts he’d be able to recreate the circumstances that lead to their odd bond with Aoi Zaizen.
“Either way, let's go home alright?” Louisa shakes her head fondly, “It’s late and you two hackers need sleep if you want your brains to function in the morning.”
Kusanagi yawns and nods, “Okay then. I’ll drive you guys to the magic shop?”
Yusaku contemplates it, then nods. It might help him to spend some time there. It’s been a while since he slept over. Louisa cheers.
Louisa snuggles onto her futon, under the blanket. Yusaku lays above her, on his own futon, looking up at the ceiling. Layra has long done a circle on one of their pillows and fallen asleep hours ago. Glow in the dark stars dot the roof and Louisa wants to sleep really badly but she has to try at least.
“Have you ever spoken to Aoi Zaizen before?” Louisa murmurs.
Yusaku shuffles, “No.”
“Would you like to?”
“Are you saying I should go along with Kusanagi’s idea? He said himself I can’t make friends. We both know it’s true.”
“Ha! We both know magic only happens if you believe it can happen. Yusaku anyone would be lucky to be your friend.”
“... You’re worrying about me again.”
Louisa huffs and rolls over, laying on her stomach, “It’s a sister’s job to worry about her brother. Again. I also double as your mentor, so double the worry.”
Yusaku tilts his head back to look at her upside down, “Why do you think I should attempt to pursue a friendship with Aoi Zaizen?”
“Because she looked like you, Yusaku!” Louisa’s heart aches as memories of a lonely boy overlap with the photo of the brown haired girl, “There was loneliness in her eyes like yours and she seemed reserved. Like she didn’t make friends easily, either. People who struggle to connect in a crowd tend to gel well together once they get over their walls.” Louisa makes sure Yusaku is looking her in the eye for this, “Humans are pack animals and we get sick without anyone to care for us and for us to care for. Just… think about it. That’s all I ask.”
Yusaku is staring at her wide eyed.
Louisa turns around, laying on her back, “Night Yusaku.”
There’s a beat of silence, “Night Lou.”
The stars continue to shine overhead and Louisa makes a wish.
Shoichi just wanted a normal day at work for once.
“Hey True Blue Crew, I need your help! All of you! If any of you see Playmaker, tell him Blue Angel is challenging him to a Speed Duel, because that’s what the whole world wants! And what the whole world wants is what they’ll get!” Blue Angel cheers, happily, “I’m ready to face my biggest test, Playmaker. The question is, are you? Central Square, one hour! Be there! Unlike you, I’m super easy to find. And that’s because I’m already here!”
But nope. This stuff has to happen.
“Where did you find the time to get her all riled up?” Shoichi groans.
“So, you gonna Duel her?” Ai questions.
Louisa shakes her head, “Doubt it.”
“There are three reasons why I won’t Duel Blue Angel.” Yusaku begins his list, “1) If she is our one connection to SOL Tech, I can’t risk injuring her in a Speed Duel. 2) I only want to fight the Knights of Hanoi. 3) I don’t want to draw anymore attention to us.”
Louisa sighs and looks up at the screen with a frown. Shoichi can’t help but agree. Yusaku had enjoyed his Duel with Go Onizuka, he’d sounded happy after it. A Duel just for fun could do the kid some good.
“So TL:DR. You’re chicken. Gotcha.” Ai pipes up.
“Excellent Analysis, as usual.” Yusaku deadpans.
“Don’t be shy. Just Duel me, okay?” Blue Angel finishes.
“Oh yeah! You heard it here, Blue Angel just threw down the gauntlet!” The announcer cheers, “But will Playmaker step up to the plate? The clock’s ticking, VRAINiacs!”
Yusaku sighs and turns around, “I’m heading home.”
“Later bro!” Shoichi waves and hopes it’ll work out okay.
The Moon: A KOH is on the loose but Shima is keeping me from going after it. Ai will send you coordinates.
Louisa’s breathe hitches when she reads the text and nods. She closes up shop, grabs her Duel Disk and hides in the back room.
“INTO THE VRAINS!”
Card Profile: Glamour
[A cloaked figure holds a wand and points it at Welsh Warrior Pwyll, who has a golden shadow of Welsh Warrior Arawn over his body. Golden dust is bursting from the wand]
Effect: Special Summon one Level 5 or 6 Welsh Warrior from your hand. Equip with this card. It gains 500 ATK.
Chapter 5: The VRAINS Angel
Yusaku grunts as he hits the ground.
The bully grins down at him, “That’s what witches like you get! Magic isn’t real! Even if it were, you shouldn’t mess with the Devil worshippers! I hope you rememb-”
There’s a battle cry as around the corner appears, “Louisa!”
“DONT TOUCH MY BROTHER!” She screams at the top of her lungs.
Yusaku’s breathe hitches. Brother?
Louisa punches the bully to the ground and even when he and his gang get back up to fight her, she doesn’t stop. She kicks and punches and spits and screams until teachers show up and break up the fight, dragging them all to the nurse’s office.
Yusaku and Louisa get tended to together and he can’t stop looking at her. He can’t understand it but he just can’t ask. Not until they’re walking home alone.
“Why did you call me your brother?”
“...Yusaku, I’ve been keeping a secret from you. My Mom didn’t name me Louisa, I did. My Mom didn’t enroll me into this school, I did. My Mom died a long time ago and I’ve become a different person to hide from the people who took her and my little brother.” Louisa gets on her knees in front of him, “Yusaku you mean the world to me, I can’t let anyone hurt you. I love you and I can’t lose you too.”
She sobs and bows her head, “I’m sorry if you don’t wanna be my friend anymore!”
Yusaku stares at her in shock. He looks at his hands and gulps. He hates touching people but for Lou…
Yusaku hugs her, “Once upon a time, there…. there was a little boy trapped in a white room.”
Louisa holds him close as he spills his secrets and tears on the sidewalk that night. And he knows he’ll never be able to call her sister, but he hopes this means enough to her.
Gwenllian lands in LINK VRAINS Central Plaza, just like Ai said. She looks around in confusion.
“Bro I don’t see a Hanoi anywhere.” Gwenllian declares.
“What are you doing here?!”
Gwenllian turns her head to see on a telephone tower, “Blue Angel? I was gonna ask you the same thing! I thought a Knight of Hanoi was gonna be here!”
Blue Angel glares, “Excuse me?! I’d never associate with them, now where’s Playmaker?!”
“Hey take it easy, no one wants to fight you, Blue Angel.” Gwenllian waves her arms like a pacifist, “What makes you think my brother is going to Duel you?”
“Uhhh, he just challenged me?” Blue Angel flies down and shows off her Duel Disk, “Now or never. That’s what he said.”
Gwenllian looks at it and the message ID is definitely Playmaker’s, “That’s weird. He only Duels the Hanoi. This is really out of character for him.”
Blue Angel snarls, “What do you mean he only Duels the Hanoi?! He fought Go Onizuka, why is he good enough but I’m not?”
Gwenllian jumps back, “Whoa, easy there Blue. You look like you need to talk things out.” She offers a smile, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m here to listen, okay? We don’t have to be enemies.”
Blue Angel glares at her, then stomps her foot in frustration, “It’s not fair!” There are angry tears in her eyes and Gwenllian’s heart bleeds, “I just wanna show I can take care of myself, I’m not some helpless little girl!”
“I know that Blue. You’re one of the Top Charisma Duelists for a reason.” Gwenllian smiles, “I honestly think you could give Go Onizuka a run for his money if you two ever Duelled. Hell, you could probably make Playmaker sweat if you two Duelled!”
Blue Angel looks at her, then slumps on the floor, “Then why isn’t he here?”
Gwenllian kneels before her. “Can you keep a secret?”
Blue Angel lifts her head, but nods.
Gwenllian grins as wide as she can, “He’s terribly shy! He can hardly function with all these cameras on him, he despises being at the centre of attention. You would not believe how much he whines to me about it.” Gwenllian takes on a more masculine voice, “Sis the paparazzi are chasing me, sis the internet thinks I’m hot, sis everyone is copying me, help, help, HEEELLLPPP!”
Blue Angel giggles and the tears in her eyes vanish.
Gwenllian sits cross legged, “What I’m saying is, Playmaker hates attention and that’s why he won’t Duel you. You’re the biggest Duelist around, I think you’re more popular than Go Onizuka honestly. But if you still wanna Duel, I don’t mind attention as much as he does.”
Blue Angel blinks at her, “Really?”
“Yeah!” Gwenllian gets to her feet, “It sounds like a good idea, since you get to show off how tough you are and I get to make up my brother’s very rude behavior to you. I mean rejecting a lady’s kind invitation twice? I thought I taught him better than that! Plus I get to have a fun Duel! Sound good?”
Gwenllian offers her hand. Blue Angel stares at it, then takes it with a small smile.
“Okay Gwenllian I accept your challenge!” Blue Angel cheers.
The Datastorm rolls in with two boards and the two jump on. Gwenllian makes a show of struggling to keep her balance which makes Blue Angel laugh. Then they take to the skies and the cameras start rolling.
“Strap on your belts folks! It’s Blue Angel VS Gwenllian!”
Shoichi chokes, looking up at the screen in shock, “Lou?!”
Why would she Duel Blue Angel?
“And it’s not just any Duel, it’s a Speed Duel where one wrong slip can crash your CPU!” The announcer cheers happily.
Damnit, what’s gotten into her? Shoichi prepares hotdogs and coffee for his customers nervously.
Something has to be up.
Naoki gasps in excitement, “Oh wow, Yusaku, Gwenllian VS Blue Angel! This is gonna be the Girl Fight of the century!”
Yusaku grumbles something too quiet for him to hear.
Naoki blinks at him, “What did you say?”
“Nothing important.” Yusaku suddenly swallows, “I’m just concerned for Gwenllian. Blue Angel is a formidable opponent.”
Naoki blinks then grins wide, “Ohhh I see. You’re that kinda fan!”
Yusaku is looking at him in helpless confusion, the poor dude. It’s obvious he cares about Gwenllian though.
“You got a crush on the Warrior Princess!” Naoki chuckles.
Yusaku’s eyes widen, “You’re-“
Naoki waves his hand, “Nah it’s fine, I feel the same way about Blue Angel! You can talk to me about it any time man, that’s what buds are for! In fact, I’ll let you watch the Duel with me!”
Yusaku is staring at him in total shock and Naoki grins, turning his eyes on the screen. This is gonna be so flash!
Blue Angel smiles at the screens around, displaying her fans gathered around their TVs to see her Duel. She turns to them, heart touched and ready for anything.
“Thanks guys! And best believe I won’t,” She swings her arm out, excited and eager, “let you down!”
Gwenllian laughs behind her, “You’re amazing Blue Angel! You go first, please!”
“If you insist, you’ll regret that though!” Blue Angel laughs and speeds ahead, “Here I go! I’ll set the stage for this Speed Duel with a Field Spell. Trickstar Lightstage! It lets me get any Trickstar I want from my Deck and I want this girl!”
Blue Angel draws and shows off her card, “Trickstar Lilybell is never, ever, ever, ever the wrong choice! Because her special ability lets me automatically summon her!”
Lilybell shows up on her Field and Blue Angel can feel her goal is in reach. She’ll prove to Akira she’s not his helpless little sister anymore. Who cares about camera shy Playmaker anyway? If he doesn’t want to Duel her then, fine! Beating Gwenllian will be just as good, if not better!
Gwenllian calls out, “She sure looks cute, Blue! I’ve got some some fairies in my Deck too, I know they’ll be happy to meet Lilybell!”
Blue Angel smiles. At least Gwenllian is providing her some banter material. That always makes a Duel more interesting.
“They won’t just be meeting Lilybell then!” Blue Angel laughs, “Because next to the join my crew is the one and only Trickstar Candina! Come on in!”
Candina appears on the field with a flash of pixels.
“She has a special ability that you won’t like Gwenllian!” Blue Angel sing songs, “I get to draw another Trickstar card from my Deck!”
Gwenllian shakes her head, grinning, “Nah, I think that’s an awesome ability! I’m not scared of anything you can dish out Blue!”
“Oh you should be, because the card I drew will be really helpful later!” Blue Angel laughs, “Right now though, you get to worry about Trickstar Lycorissica! I can summon her if I return Candina to my hand! Later Candina!”
“When’s later gonna be? Your next turn?” Gwenllian shouts.
Blue Angel shakes her head, “It is later, silly! Sooo, I activate my Spell Trickstar Vision to bring Candina back! I do have to cut her points in half and get ride of her ability. But it’s a small price to have the gang all here!”
Candina appears, weaker but ready to go.
“Trickstar Vision lets us both draw one card!” Blue Angel grabs her card.
“Wow Blue, that’s so generous!” Gwenllian draws her card, then gasps in delight, “Yes, just who I wanted to see!”
Blue Angel hums and turns to her, “Oh? Which one of your Warriors did you draw?”
“You’ll meet them on my turn!” Gwenllian laughs and wags her fingers, “A little patience goes a long way, Blue!”
“True, but not in a Duel against me! Because Lycorissica deals you Damage for every card you draw!” Blue Angel giggles.
Gwenllian’s eyes bug out of her head, “Say what?”
“200 points of it, in fact!” Blue Angel waves her hand.
Lycorissica shots Gwenllian with a small yellow laser, not enough to hit her off her board but enough to hurt.
Blue Angel: 4000
“It’s okay, 200 points isn’t that much!” Gwenllian rubs her shoulder, “Stings a little though.”
“You’re right, it’s not much! But every time Lycorissica damages you, Trickstar Lightstage also deals 200 points of Damage!”
A wave of green energy hits Gwenllian, making her shout.
Blue Angel: 4000
“Damn, I can see why patience isn’t gonna be a virtue one this Duel!” Gwenllian grunts.
“Nope. You’ll have bigger things to worry about in a second though.” Blue Angel surfs out of the way, “Because all these Trickstars are great, but I haven’t summoned my best one yet!”
Gwenllian goes pale, “Hold the phone!”
“Time to Link Summon!” Blue Angel cheers.
And time to prove to her brother she’s not helpless.
Yusaku swallows harshly, watching the Duel on the edge of his seat.
He’s worried for Blue Angel. Aoi Zaizen was incredibly upset when he brought up her brother and he hasn’t had the chance to apologize to her. He regrets even thinking of going along with Kusanagi’s scheme now knowing what she goes through. He could see the loneliness in her eyes and he wants to reach out.
But he’s more worried for Gwenllian. Her Skill can’t compete with Blue Angel’s burn Deck and the only card in her Deck that can neglect Effect Damage is a Level 7 Monster. There’s little chance of her drawing Cymru, The Welsh Dragon or summoning enough Monsters to get him on her Field.
Yusaku puts his hand in his pocket and rubs his thumb over the sigil for friends making. He can’t lose Louisa.
“Time to build the circuit that turns Dreams into Reality!”
Gwenllian gasps as the circuit appears in the sky. She’s never Link Summoned before and the Link Monsters for her Deck have been missing for 6 years. She’s not sure if she can compete with Blue Angel if she brings out her Ace.
Blue Angel flies into the circuit with Candina and Lilybell.
She comes out with Trickstar Holly Angel.
Blue Angel waves her hands, “Before I end my turn-”
“There’s more?!” Gwenllian shouts.
“Of course there is! I place these two cards face down!” Blue Angel puts her cards on her field, “And you’re up Gwenllian!”
Gwenllian swallows thickly, “I’ll do my best to impress then.”
Blue Angel laughs and Gwenllian’s face goes hot.
“I draw then!” Gwenllian looks at her hand of 6, thanks to Trickstar Vision.
“Yep, you certainly did! And now it’s time for Lycorissica and Trickstar Lightstage to take effect!” Blue Angel waves her hand, “For a total of 400 points!”
The two beams of light hit Gwenllian hard and fast.
Blue Angel: 4000
“Holly Angel gains ATK equal to the amount of Damage you took from a Trickstar Monster Effect!” Blue Angel looks at her greatest monster.
Holly Angel, true to her word, goes from 2000 ATK to 2200.
Gwenllian swallows, “Whoa, that’s one tough fae.” She looks at her hand and smiles, “But I won’t be taken down on the second turn! Meet the Human Chief of the fairies, Welsh Warrior Pwyll!”
A young man with red hair and a red shirt appears on the field with 1700 ATK.
“And thanks to Pwyll’s ability, I get to add Otherworld to my hand and use it right now!!” Gwenllian plays the card.
Pwyll draws his spear from his back, his points raising to 2700.
Blue Angel gasps, “Oh no! Now your Warrior is stronger than Holly Angel!”
“And I’m gonna put those points to good use!” Gwenllian points forward, “Go Pwyll!”
Pwyll charges forward with his spear at the ready.
“You really think that’s gonna work? I love that you said it with so much conviction-” Blue Angel activates a trap, “but Trickstar Reincarnation banishes your entire hand and you have to draw a card for every one you lose!”
Gwenllian shouts, “Shavings, that’s 400 points of damage for 4 cards!”
“Not quite. Trickstar Lightstage will only deal you 200 points since Lycorissica dealt you damage. But it’s still 1000 less life points than you had before.” Blue Angel giggles, “So here goes!”
Gwenllian grits her teeth as her cards burst into data and four new ones are added to her hand. Lycorissica and Trickstar Lightstage hit much harder this time, making her nearly lose balance on her board.
Blue Angel: 4000
“And now Holly Angel gets an 800 point boost!” Blue Angel waves her hand, “You go girl!”
Holly Angel smiles as her ATK goes to 3000.
“Is it too late to stop the battle?!” Gwenllian shouts over the roar of the wind.
Blue Angel giggles, “Not without a Quick Play Spell.”
“Good because I have one: Horse Lord, Teyrnon!” Gwenllian plays the card.
A man riding on top a horse bursts from the card and charges for Pwyll. He picks him up and turns around before he can hit Holly Angel and returns him to Gwenllian’s side.
“This negates a Welsh Warrior’s destruction and ends the battle phase!” Gwenllian breathes a sigh of relief and looks up at Pwyll, “Sorry for nearly killing you bro.”
Pwyll grins and riffles her hair. She laughs, then puts her eyes back on Blue Angel.
“Nice spell but it was totally wasted! Trickstar Scatter destroys the Monster that Holly Angel battles with!” Blue Angel activates a trap.
“No!” Gwenllian looks up at Pwyll in a panic.
A yellow light hits him and he turns to dust. Gwenllian turns to Blue Angel, heart aching.
“I’m ready for whatever you can dish out!” Blue Angel takes a corner, “Because this Duel is so much more than a game. It’s my life! So you won’t win.”
Gwenllian follows her, trying not to cry, but listening closely, her mind going a mile a minute.
“I’m not out yet! I activate Welsh Warrior Afanc’s ability!” Gwenllian summons it, “When a Welsh Warrior is destroyed, I can summon him the second after it happens.”
The water monster that looks a cross between a crocodile and a beaver appears on the field, it’s ATK boosted by Otherworld to 2600.
“I end my turn!” Gwenllian calls.
“Holly Angel’s ATK drops back to 2000, but don’t get comfy!” Blue Angel sing songs. “I draw!”
And the happy bubbly mood bursts.
Revolver chuckles at the sight of the card in her hand.
“Now it’s only a matter of time.” He hums.
It’s too bad she’s not using it on Playmaker, but getting Gwenllian out of the game should help them in the long run. Playmaker will come right for them with any luck.
And then Revolver will defeat him.
Blue Angel’s head hurts. Something in her gut is screaming at her to drop the card, drop the Duel, drop everything and log out-
She gasps and looks at Gwenllian, who looks panicked, “We need to stop the Duel, something’s wrong with your Deck!”
Anger suddenly spikes in her gut, drowning out the panic. Blue Angel’s eyes go hard, “Not a chance am I giving up now! I gotta prove I can win!”
Gwenllian shakes her head, “This isn’t a game anymore, you’re in danger-”
“No, you’re in danger!” Blue Angel growls and turns to her graveyard, “I banish Trickstar Reincarnation to summon back Lilybell!” She smiles, “Come join the fun!”
Lilybell appears on her field, her 800 ATK ready to be used. Oh and she’ll use them alright.
“Lilybell can attack you directly, so your ugly sea monster can’t save you!” Blue Angel grins and looks her her shoulder, “Go Lilybell!”
Lilybell rings and the vibrations knock Gwenllian off her board.
Blue Angel: 4000
“And don’t forget about Trickstar Lightstage!” Blue Angel can feel victory in the wind.
Green energy blasts Gwenllian again.
Blue Angel: 4000
She looks around frantically, then her Afanc swims down beneath her. He catches her fall and gets her back on her board. Gwenllian breathes a sigh of relief and Blue Angel feels a little bad about knocking her off, but she’s okay so it’s fine.
“I think that’s enough for now! I end my turn!” Blue Angel giggles.
But she can’t shake this sick feeling in her gut.
Gwenllian looks at Blue Angel while leaning against Afanc. She could feel it the second she drew her card. It’s got a Hanoi virus in it and she needs to stop it before it hurts her.
Afanc nibbles on her arm.
Gwenllian nods at him and stands up. She puts two fingers over her Deck, “Hecate please give me what I need to save Blue Angel before it’s too late.”
Aoi Zaizen is a little sister. A lonely, little sister who’s the most popular Duelist online and known for being endlessly cheerful. She can’t even begin to imagine what’s really going on in her head. She HAS to save her though.
It is a big sister’s job to protect her little siblings. And Blue Angel is not her sister but she will not let the Hanoi take her.
“I DRAW!” Gwenllian shouts.
“And now Lycorissica and Trickstar Lightstage take effect!” Blue Angel giggles.
Two lights hit and Gwenllian crouches to stay on her board.
Blue Angel: 4000
“And now Holly Angel gains 200 ATK!” Blue Angel spins, her hair swishing.
Holly Angel glows red and a sinking feeling fills up Gwenllian’s guts. Blue Angel is wobbling on her board.
Gwenllian looks at the card shew drew and gasps. A tear appears in her left eye and falls down her cheek.
Gwenllian can save Blue Angel.
“I activate the Spell Card, Crafanc, Arm of Mischief!” Gwenllian shouts.
A giant green hand appears on the field. Blue Angel stares up at it in shock.
“With this, I get to steal one card from your hand for the duration of this turn!” Gwenllian points, “And I choose the one of the left!”
The arm reaches and grabs the card. Blue Angel stands up straight, gasping as if her head had been under water. The arm drops the card in Gwenllian’s hand.
And she screams .
“Lou!” Shoichi shouts, worry choking him.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa VRAINiacs, what is happening to Gwenllian?!” The announcer shouts, “First Blue Angel was a little wobbly, now Gwenllian is on her knees and screaming! What could be ailing these two Duelists?!”
Shoichi grits his teeth.
Not her, for the love of God, not her.
Naoki shouts in shock, falling off his seat as the scream fills the classroom.
“Mr Shima! Care to share what you’re watching with the class?” The teacher smacks the board with her pointer.
“Something’s wrong with Gwenllian!” Naoki puts it on screen.
On the screen the warrior princess is on her knees, shrieking and whaling like she’s in absolute, unending agony. She’s ripping her hair out of it’s braid and with how much pain she’s in, it looks scarily like blood.
“Someone has to log her out!”
“How is it possible to feel that much pain in VR?”
“What caused this?!”
Naoki looks to his side, “Yusaku are you ok-”
Blue Angel gasps, “Gwenllian what’s happening?!”
She’s scared. Nothing like this has ever happened to her before. She knew she felt off because of that card, but how can it cause that much pain?
“It’s Hanoi!” Gwenllian screams, tears running down her face, “They tried to do this to you, they wanted to get to Playmaker by making you Duel him for them!”
Blue Angel gasps, covering her mouth, “Oh no.”
Gwenllian was laughing and smiling earlier. She was excited about a fun Duel.
Now she can’t even stand because Blue Angel was so stupid and petty and desperate to make Akira notice her.
Tears fill her eyes-
Blue Angel gasps, staring at Gwenllian as if she’s gone mad. She had to have, there’s no way she’s functioning okay.
But Gwenllian smiles, “You’re okay. That’s enough.”
She starts to scream again and Blue Angel screams with her. There’s nothing she can do, nothing she can do, nothing, nothing, nothing!
“I activate Birds of Rhiannon! By banishing a card in my hand, I can summon 2 Bird Tokens!”
Blue Angel gasps as the card that hurt Gwenllian disappears and two birds that look a lot like starlings appear on the field.
“Are you okay?! Gwenllian?!” Blue Angel screams.
Gwenllian gets off one of her knees and does a thumbs up.
Blue Angel sobs but she smiles. She’ll be okay.
Gwenllian gets to her feet, looks at Blue Angel with a smile.
Then her eyes widen in horror and she screams, “BEHIND YOU!”
Blue Angel looks-
Gwenllian knew it was an older sister’s job to protect her younger siblings. But she’d failed. Again.
Blue Angel crashed into a wall and fell.
Gwenllian had dived, reaching out for her.
A purple light appeared from the place in Gwenllian’s Duel Disk for banished cards and latched onto Blue Angel.
Blue Angel had screamed and screamed and screamed even as Gwenllian jumped from her board, wrapped her arms around her and twisted to take the brunt of the fall.
She only stopped after they hit the ground.
Card Profile: Crafanc, Arm of Mischief
[A giant green hand, with ugly yellow claws tipped on its fingers and thumb. Inside the palm rests a bundled up baby and a newborn foil.]
Effect: You can select one card in your Opponent’s Hand and add it to your hand.
Chapter 6: I’m Lost in the Devil’s Garden
“So how does magic work?” Yusaku questions as he follows her into a small wooded area.
Louisa smiles at him over her shoulder, “That’s for you to decide Yusaku. But for me, it’s all in the mind.” She turns around and points at her head, grinning as she explains, “The brain is the most powerful magical tool everyone has available to them, so everyone can learn magic if they try. Think of something you know is completely true.”
Yusaku hums, then his eyes widen, “Medicine. It always makes people better. Even if it tastes funny.”
“That’s a fantastic example Yusaku!” Louisa laughs, “But the thing is, sometimes just knowing that can help people!”
He tilts his head, “How so?”
“Sometimes Doctors give patients things called sugar pills. They don’t actually do anything, but because the patient believes they’ll help them feel better, the patient does feel better!” She spins around and starts walking forward, “That is called The Placebo Effect.”
Yusaku’s eyes widen, “Does the Placebo Effect work even when you know the trick?”
Louisa hums, putting her hand on her chin, “Hard to say, I don’t think I’ve seen any studies on that. But I believe it works even when you know about it.”
Yusaku hums, “Then if I just believe something good will happen, it will?”
“You might have to work a little to make that something good happen, but yes!” Louisa beams, “If you just believe things can get better, then they will!”
Yusaku hums and looks at his hands. He clenches his fists in determination.
Things will get better.
“GWENLLIAN! BLUE ANGEL! ANYONE!”
Playmaker is frantic as he runs through the forest near where they fell. He’d been right behind them, he would have caught them if he’d just been faster. If he’d just been faster, damnit, damnit, damnit.
He roars, “HECATE HELP ME!”
A burst of light to his left and he takes off running in that direction. He finds Gwenllian and Blue Angel on the ground, Blue Angel half on top of Gwenllian, her wings nowhere to be seen.
“I’ll eat Hanoi’s program out of them!” Ai pipes up.
His ugly head pokes out of his Duel Disk and dark purple goop gets absorbed by his cartoonish mouth.
Ai munches the data, and swallows, “You might wanna stand back, I’m about to spew Data Chunks.”
Playmaker can hardly hear him over the panic in his brain, “This is bad. They’re not waking up.”
Gwenllian and Blue Angel are still as statues and he can feel panic clawing at the edges of his mind. Behind him he hears SOL Technology’s security robots closing in on them and he knows he has to log out and do what he can, like find Aoi Zaizen and get her medical attention. But he-
Playmaker grits his teeth and grabs Gwenllian’s hand. He squeezes as tightly as he can.
“I’ll come back.” He swears on his life he will.
Then he logs out.
Kusanagi drives to the magic shop, likely breaking a few speed limits on the way. It doesn’t matter though, nothing matters if he doesn’t get there in time.
He finally gets there and parks outside. He uses the extra key Louisa gave him and Yusaku encase of an emergency and opens it up.
Layra jumps into his arms and Kusanagi only just catches her.
“What is it, girl?” Kusanagi pets her head, “What’s wrong?”
Layra meows as if she’s in pain and jumps out of his arms. She dashes to the other side of the room and claws against a door, meowing, crying practically. Kusanagi’s heart bleeds, so he charges and breaks down the door.
There Louisa is. Slumped against the wall, her brown and blonde hair normally spiking all over the place, covering her eyes. Her phone buzzes by her side. It’s a text.
The Moon: Are you okay?
Kusanagi takes out his phone and sends a text.
Daddy Long Legs: I’ve got the Sun. I’ll get her help.
The Moon: I’ll handle BA.
Kusanagi picks up Louisa and holds her against his chest. Layra jumps into her lap and crawls up her chest, licking her chin. Kusanagi’s heart breaks when the cat meows sadly and he carries her outside.
Yusaku knew that making friends was impossible. But he tried anyway, because Louisa asked him to. Louisa had done so many things for him because she just wanted him to be happy. He’d tried to believe he could make friends, because she wanted him to have some.
And now she was on a stretcher being wheeled out behind Aoi Zaizen.
Kusanagi stands beside him and it helps, but dear God he wishes Layra was here. Cats aren’t allowed in hospitals though and he just-
Yusaku lifts his head to see Akira Zaizen come around the corner.
He races to his sister’s side, “What happened to you-”
One of the nurses stops him from grabbing the stretcher, “You need to calm down sir, we’re doing everything we can for her.”
“But she’s my sister, she needs me!” Akira Zaizen says.
Yusaku’s heart squeezes, remembering a similar look in Louisa’s eyes whenever she was worried about him.
“I can assure you she’s in good hands.” The nurse insists, “Now please, we have two patients we need to tend to.”
Akira Zaizen backs off. The nurses continue to wheel away Aoi Zaizen and Louisa. He looks like he’s ready for a fight.
He turns around, “You’re the young man who found her?”
Kusanagi is opening his mouth, but Yusaku won’t let him put himself at risk for him too, “Yes. She’s been unconscious since I called the paramedics. I tried to wake her, but to no avail.”
“How could this have happened to her?” Akira Zaizen looks to the side, “How could I have let this happen to her?”
And he knows this man isn’t Louisa and he knows Kusanagi is right behind him, supporting him and will tell him it’s not his fault, but, “I was thinking the same thing.”
Akira Zaizen looks at him in confusion.
Yusaku takes a shuddering breath. He never thought he could say it. But his heart is aching and he can’t, “The girl behind Aoi Zaizen is my sister. She’s in the same condition.”
Kusanagi lets out a subtle gasp behind him. Yusaku ignores it.
“I feel like it’s my fault. That if I’d been there, she’d have been okay.” Yusaku looks at his feet, his fists clenching, “I-”
Akira Zaizen speaks up, “You can’t blame yourself, Mr…”
“Fujiki. Yusaku Fujiki.” Yusaku looks up at him.
Akira Zaizen nods, “You can’t blame yourself for what has already been done by hands not your own. All you can do now is attempt to fix it. Your sister and my own are in good hands and should recover.”
Yusaku swallows sharply, the truth clamped behind his teeth like a cage.
If he’d just Duelled Blue Angel, this wouldn’t have happened. It was all his fault.
“How did you find her anyway?” Akira Zaizen speaks up.
Yusaku swallows the truth, gritting out, “Just passing by.”
“I see.” Akira Zaizen smiles, “How lucky of her. Good to know.”
Yusaku turns around, trying to swallow though there’s nothing to get down his throat, “I’ll be seeing you.”
“Thank you, Yusaku Fujiki.” Akira Zaizen calls.
Yusaku hasn’t got the courage to face him. Kusanagi follows him out. He wraps his arm around his shoulder and-
Yusaku can’t take it.
He latches onto Kusanagi’s shirt, buries his face in it, trying to hide from the entire world and cries. He cries and cries and cries quietly while Kusanagi hesitantly wraps his arms around him in a hug. Yusaku doesn’t make a sound other than an occasional desperate gasp for breath and a soft sob. Kusanagi doesn’t say anything either, but Yusaku thinks he hears a choked noise.
They sit in a pair of hospital chairs and wait for the doctor to tell them what’s going to happen to Louisa. Ai is thankfully silent the whole time.
He needs her to be okay.
Bishop: It seems we have been given a golden opportunity. With Gwenllian trapped in LINK VRAINs, we may be able to narrow our search for the alias Marie Evans is using in the Real World.
Knight: While she is in our custody, should she wake up, we will be able to interview her and learn of her intentions. And how to use them to grow our digital network.
Rook: What will we do about Playmaker though? He may seek to save his ally, if he learns she is with our custody.
Bishop: Then we can trade. His Ignis for her freedom. And should he find that generous offer disagreeable, then we can simply take the Ignis by force.
Knight: What of the hacker who managed to create an exit point in our no log out cage? What if they come to the rescue of Playmaker or Gwenllian?
Rook: We will simply have to stop him. Playmaker and Gwenllian appear to be operating as a unit, with only a single supporter. With her out of the picture though, that leaves them without a third of their strength. Should they come for us, they will be easy pray.
Marie yawns as she opens her eyes. She looks around her in confusion. This isn’t her bed room. It’s not a hospital either. It’s… a forest?
Marie stands up and starts walking around. Sunlight streams through the trees, looking like stars in a green sky. The prettiest flowers she’s ever seen bloom all around her. A soft melody plays wherever she goes too. It’s a pretty forest.
But she wants to find her brother. And her Mama. Why can’t she remember why she’s here? Or what she was doing before?
A howl sounds behind her and she gasps, turning around. Behind her are three white dogs with red ears and red tails. They run to her.
She screams, falling on her back, covering her face, “Don’t hurt me!”
The dogs lick her, tasting to see if she’s good to eat and then they just… keep licking her? No biting? No clawing?
Marie opens her eyes and lowers her arms. The dogs are wagging their tails at her and she smiles, petting the two by her hands. The third one barks and licks her face.
Marie laughs, “That tickles!”
The dogs make happy puppy sounds and Marie feels safe.
Marie opens her eyes, blinking when she sees a really, really tall man standing between the trees. He’s wearing a crown and has dark hair and an ugly beard.
“Who are you?” Marie asks, getting to her feet.
The man walks over to her, kneeling so he’s in front of her, “I am Arawn, King of Annwn. You know this Louisa. Don’t you?”
-and suddenly she isn’t 8 years old, she’s 18 and Louisa fell off her board in a Speed Duel.
“What’s going on, Arawn?!” Louisa looks around in a panic, “Where’s Yusaku?! Is Blue Angel okay?!”
“Breathe, Famous Warrior.” Arawn holds her hands, “I do not know how Yusaku Fujiki or Aoi Zaizen are. But you are in Annwn. The Otherworld.”
Louisa gasps and the more mystical members of her Deck surround her. Rhiannon, Arianrhod, Hafgan, Ceffyl Dŵr, Gwydion and Math. The Cŵn Annwn whimper, licking her hands when they see her distressed.
“How did I get here?” Louisa keeps her eyes on the true King of the Otherworld.
Ceffyl Dŵr steps up, “I knew something was wrong after your Duel with Blue Angel was cut off by the Hanoi card. I dragged your soul into your Deck to protect it.”
Louisa blinks at him, “But I feel fine?”
Hafgan scoffs and looks at her side, “No thanks to us, I guess!”
Arawn glares at his rival, “Shut up.”
Hafgan grumbles but does as he’s asked.
Louisa looks at her Monsters, “Thank you for protecting me, guys. But I need to get back. Yusaku needs me.”
Arianrhod laughs, “Best of luck. SOL Tech has you in a no log out zone.”
“WHAT?!” Louisa shouts.
The sorceress beams, “Your guards said something about Bishop having business with you. This is gonna be fun.”
Louisa feels anger spike in her throat but holds it back, “Good to see you have confidence in me.” She looks at the rest of her Monsters, “Will you guys help me get home safe?”
They smile and nod.
Arawn speaks for them all, “We will always watch over you, Famous Warrior.”
Then they faded away and a bright light consumed Louisa.
Card Profile: Bottomless Bag
[Welsh Warrior Pwyll is wearing a cloak and holding a ordinary looking sack. It is draw string and has a patch sewn into it. Pwyll is emptying a plate into it and behind him are an array of tables with empty plates.]
Effect: When you have less than 1000 LP and a Welsh Warrior is destroyed, send all the opponent's cards on the Field to the Graveyard.
Chapter 7: Lately I’m Feeling Haunted
Louisa blinks down at him, “What’s wrong little buddy?”
Yusaku frowns at his feet, tears in his eyes, “I… I can’t do magic, Louisa. You were wrong.”
“What makes you think that, Yusaku?” Louisa kneels at his side.
Yusaku huffs and pulls out his stupid nightmare repellent sigil, “It didn’t work! I did everything I could to power it up but I still have nightmares! They just won’t go away!”
“I see.” Louisa gently plucks the crumpled piece of paper from his hand, “Yusaku, did you believe the sigil would work?”
Yusaku freezes, then looks at her, “What?”
Louisa kneels in front of him, “Did you believe with your whole heart it would work? Or did you think it wouldn’t and you’d have worse nightmares?”
Yusaku blinks and nods, ashamed.
Louisa ruffles his hair, “That’s the problem Yusaku. Half of magic is believing it will work. The other half is doing stuff to make it work. Remember when I told you about the Placebo Effect?”
“When you believe something good will happen, it will.” Yusaku nods.
“Well the Placebo Effect has an evil twin called the Necobo Effect. If you believe something bad will happen, then it will.” Louisa leans back a little, giving him space, “Patients were given sugar pills and believed they would suffer harmful side effects by taking them. And then they did suffer harmful side effects. You have to believe magic works Yusaku, or it won’t work.”
Yusaku looks at Louisa, endlessly patient and caring and he feels ashamed. He thinks of years alone, trying to be a part of everything but never managing to make a friend. He thought he never could. That he was broken and helpless and he could never move on from the Lost Incident.
Yusaku looks at his feet, his heart aching, “Is that… Is the Necobo Effect the reason why I’ve been alone for so long?”
Louisa blinks at him.
He feels tears fill his eyes, “I, I always thought that I’d never have friends because of the Lost Incident, Louisa! It hurt so bad, I!” He lifts his head, sobbing softly, “I wasn’t the same! I have nightmares all the time, it feels like it hurts more and more everyday! I’m not getting better like the doctors said I would! Is it because I didn’t believe I could get better?! Am I really that broken that I convinced myself I’d never be okay?! Will I be trapped like this forever?! Tell me Lou!”
She stares at him. Then pulls him into a hug, resting his eyes in her shoulder.
“You might have believed you’d never have a friend, but I’m here and proving you and the science wrong Yusaku.” Louisa runs her fingers through his hair, “Magic is about believing in yourself, your power to change your life and then making those changes happen. It’s not a cure all or a substitute for hard work, therapy and medicine. But it is there and it will help you get stronger if you put in the effort. You are not broken and you can always get better, Yusaku.” She hugs him a little tighter and that- that feels right, “I promise to help you however I can.”
Yusaku just cries and cries and cried, but his heart feels a little lighter. The abyss between himself and others feels smaller. And the upperclassman he’s quickly seeing as his first friend is hugging him just right, tight enough to feel okay but not so hard that he’s being crushed.
“Thank you.” He hugs her back.
Louisa smiles and rubs his back, “No problem. Now, first thing’s first.” She makes sure she’s looking at him before she says anything, “Let’s make those nightmares go away for good.”
Yusaku nods determinedly.
He won’t doubt his magic. He will make it work. And even if it doesn’t, he’ll try again until it does work.
Shoichi drives the unusually silent truck in the direction for his and Yusaku’s houses. He doesn’t know where he’ll stop by, but he doesn’t want to leave Yusaku alone right now. He’s sitting beside him, arms around Layra, feet on his seat, staring ahead with shadows cast over his eyes. Ai is still being quiet while Layra rubs against Yusaku’s cheeks in an attempt to soothe him likely.
They stop at a red light.
“This is a new low, even for the Hanoi.” Yusaku murmurs, almost to himself.
“I thought I ate whatever bug was bugging them out. But I guess I needed a bigger byte.” Ai spins inside the Duel Disk.
The light turns green so Shoichi drives on, “So we need to figure out the cure.”
“Beats me.” Ai pipes up, “But without one, they’ll be hibernating forever!”
“We can’t think like that!” Yusaku snaps, loud in the quiet truck.
Layra is staring up at him in shock. Shoichi would be too if he were a less responsible driver.
That seals it, “You’re staying over my place tonight.”
Yusaku doesn’t agree, but he doesn’t object either, so he’ll call it a win.
Gwenllian opens her eyes to a room of darkness. She’s in a chair, her arms tied behind her back, her legs to the chair’s legs. She sits up straight and sighs.
Really? Could this get anymore cliche?
A light flashes on overhead, like a really lame interrogation room.
Gwenllian sighs, bored out of her mind, “Oh no, the Villains have captured our mighty hero! Whatever will they do to her?”
“Nothing so long as you’re honest with us.”
Gwenllian looks in front of her and finds she’s surrounded in the front by three white chess pieces: a bishop, a rook and a knight. This must be what Arianrhod meant.
“And what are you supposed to be? All the King’s horses and all the King’s men?” Gwenllian rolls her eyes, “Ugh if you’re going to go through the effort of capturing me, can you at least try to make it interesting?” She yawns, “I might as well go back to sleep.”
“Listen to us Marie Evans.” Bishop booms.
Gwenllian blinks at him lazily, “Oh so you losers think I’m her too?”
“We know you are Marie Evans, she is the only one in possession of a Welsh Warrior Deck.” Knight huffs, “So there’s no point in playing games with us.”
Gwenllian clasps her fingers together behind her, her braid hiding them, “Fine, let’s say I am Marie Evans then. What do you want with me?”
“Isn’t it obvious? We want you to return to us.” Rock drones.
“And do what exactly?” Gwenllian hums, “I’ve never worked with SOL Tech willingly before. Unless I was with my best friend, of course. How is Orihime these days anyway?”
“Don’t ask us stupid questions, girl! We’ll be asking them here!” Bishops shouts.
Gwenllian smirks, showing off her teeth, “Did I hit a nerve? I remember none of you goons ever liked Orihime all that much. After all-”
“What is your connection with Playmaker?” Knight demands.
“Buzz kill. I just wanna know how my best friend is. I haven’t seen her in 5 years.” Gwenllian pouts, “As for Playmaker, he’s my brother. Ya know, that person who you share parents with and steals your toys all the time?”
“I believe your brother is still in our custody Marie Evans.” Rook hums.
Gwenllian’s smile freezes on her face.
“So there’s no way Playmaker could actually be your brother.” Rock continues.
Gwenllian laughs, “Then maybe I’m not Marie Evans.”
Bishop sighs, “You won’t give us any useful information now, will you?”
“Nope!” Gwenllian giggles.
Knight hums, “Very well then. We’ll simply leave you in darkness until you’re ready to talk.”
Gwenllian grins, “Would you really? A girl has needs you know. Eat, sleep, drink, bathroom. If I don’t, I’ll die and you’ll never get any info out of me and holding me hostage in a no log out zone would have been all for nothing. So don’t make threats unless you can actually go through with them? It’s soo boring.”
Rook huffs. “Good night, Marie Evans.”
The chess pieces disappear and Gwenllian is left in the darkness. She finished the recording and sends it to Playmaker, then she prepares for an uncomfortable night attempting and failing to sleep.
Akira steps out the car when he sees Emma arrive as he’d requested. She looks delightfully cheerful while rage boils beneath his skin. How she can manage to smile in times like this unnerves him.
“Well, well Akira. We have to stop meeting like this or someone might think we’re up to something.” She’s being her usual flirtatious self too.
“I have another assignment for you.” Akira cuts to the chase.
“Love to, but aren’t you in trouble with your bosses for, you know?” She climbs off her bike, “Keeping some secrets about a certain little sister?”
Of course, “I take it you tipped them off?”
Emma shrugs, completely unashamed, “Hey, you always knew I was freelance. That kinda info has a hefty price and a girl’s gotta make a living.”
“I don’t need your loyalty.” Akira has to restrain himself from rolling his eyes.
“Let me guess.” Emma hums, then spins around, “You want me to go after Playmaker to make him wake up your sister? She did challenge him and he was there after her Duel with Gwenllian.”
Akira has to restrain any expression of anger, “Playmaker is optional, but he’s not who I want you to go after.”
Emma hums, “Really?”
Akira turns to face her, memories of a girl acting to cause his sister misfortune filling his mind.
“I want you to capture Gwenllian.”
Card Profile: Uncatchable Horse
[A white horse trots with Welsh Warrior Rhiannon riding on top it while behind it, many horses and their riders are panting for breath fruitlessly. The horse has a faint golden glow.]
Effect: One Monster you control can not be selected as an attack target.
Chapter 8: Behind Me Boy Look
Louisa laughs as she runs through the forest. Yusaku follows a little more subdued but content in the world around him. She starts singing and the birds seem to join in her song. Yusaku would like to think that at least.
“Can’t you feel it, Yusaku?” Louisa beams.
Yusaku blinks in confusion, “Feel what?”
Louisa giggles and spins, “The energy in the wood, the magic on the wind, the life in the earth! Beltane is here!”
“What’s Beltane?” Yusaku tilts his head.
Louisa grins and picks up a long stick, “It’s a holiday to celebrate the veil between the worlds growing thin. The Fae like to visit us at times like this and we make massive bonfires to celebrate! It’s a good time in the wheel of the year to find a Familiar too, a magical companion who helps you with your spell work.”
Yusaku’s eyes widen, “Is that why we’re in the forest?”
“That’s part of the reason. It’s good to get some air too, get away from the city and just enjoy nature.” Louisa giggles, “Now come on, I saw a fairy ring yesterday and I wanna give it offerings!”
Yusaku follows behind and he hopes with all his heart he’ll find a Familiar.
In the morning, Yusaku wakes up to the smell of frying eggs and Kusanagi’s humming. He sits up on the couch and sees Ai look at him on the table.
“Rise and shine sleeping beauty.” Ai looks impossibly smug considering he’s just an eyeball.
Yusaku looks behind him and sees Kusanagi coming over with a plate of fried eggs. Kusanagi smiles at him and passes him the eggs, along with a fork. Yusaku nods gratefully and starts eating them.
Layra sees there’s food and starts meowing at him. Yusaku slices off a bit of his egg and scraps it off his plate. Layra catches it and swallows it quickly.
Kusanagi joins him a few moments later with his own plate of fried eggs, “So what are going to do?”
“First we need to go over what we know.” Yusaku puts his plate on the coffee table in front of him, which is of course an invitation for Layra to jump into his lap, “According to the doctors, Louisa doesn’t have a lot of brain activity. Her mind has practically shut down. I imagine it’s the same for Aoi Zaizen.”
“None of the doctors know what’s wrong with either of them.” Kusanagi finishes his eggs and puts the plate next to Yusaku’s.
“Shut down?” Ai shouts, “Oh glitch! I know what happened! They have viruses!”
Kusanagi looks at Ai, “A virus?”
“Yeah, a computer virus.” Ai looks between the two of them, “Your human brain is your CPU, so if it gets infected with a virus, your whole body shuts down like a PC in sleep mode.”
“Humans can’t get computer viruses.” Yusaku blinks at him while gently rubbing Layra’s ear.
“Oh, I didn’t know you had a medical degree, Doctor Fujiki.” Ai glares at him.
Yusaku raises an eyebrow at him, “I didn’t know you had one either.”
Ai glares at him, grumbling.
“So if the Hanoi infected them with a computer virus, how do we cure them?” Kusanagi puts his chin in his fist.
“With an Anti-Virus, which the Hanoi will have.” Ai huffs, “Not that they’ll give it to us willingly.”
Yusaku hums and thinks. It appears the only option is to Duel the Hanoi for the cure. Which one of them will have it though? No way a small time minion like he’s used to Duelling will be in charge of it. They’ll likely want Ai in exchange. Perhaps he can use him to bargain and get Gwenllian and Blue Angel freed. But then he’ll lose his biggest advantage over the Hanoi.
“Oh yeah!” Ai pipes up, “I forgot to mention it, but Gwenllian sent you a message!”
Yusaku gasps, hope filling him.
“What?! Why didn’t you tell us that from the start?!” Kusanagi snarls.
“No one asked and you were all so serious!” Ai huffs, “I’ll play it now.”
“Fine, let’s say I am Marie Evans then. What do you want with me?”
“Isn’t it obvious? We want you to return to us.”
“And do what exactly? I’ve never worked with SOL Tech willingly before. Unless I was with my best friend, of course. How is Orihime these days anyway?”
“Don’t ask us stupid questions, girl! We’ll be asking them here!”
“Did I hit a nerve? I remember none of you goons ever liked Orihime all that much. After all-”
“What is your connection with Playmaker?”
“Buzz kill. I just wanna know how my best friend is. I haven’t seen her in 5 years. As for Playmaker, he’s my brother. Ya know, that person who you share parents with and steals your toys all the time?”
“I believe your brother is still in our custody Marie Evans. So there’s no way Playmaker could actually be your brother.”
“Then maybe I’m not Marie Evans.”
“You won’t give us any useful information now, will you?”
“Very well then. We’ll simply leave you in darkness until you’re ready to talk.”
“Would you really? A girl has needs you know. Eat, sleep, drink, bathroom. If I don’t, I’ll die and you’ll never get any info out of me and holding me hostage in a no log out zone would have been all for nothing. So don’t make threats unless you can actually go through with them? It’s soo boring.”
“Good night, Marie Evans.”
Yusaku lets out a breathe, “She’s okay.”
“For how long though?” Kusanagi murmurs, “Ai, can you trace the signal of that transmission?”
“Uhh, I already did last night. You flesh bags were asleep, so I was kind enough to prepare a jump point as close to her location as possible for when you woke up.” Ai looks as if he’d grin if he could, “A thank you will suffice.”
Yusaku nods, then looks at Kusanagi, “You going in?”
“You bet.” Kusanagi nods.
With that, they grab their Duel Disks.
“INTO THE VRAINS!”
Gwenllian hums as she sits in the room of darkness. Considering how little her humming echos, the room is smaller than it would seem. That likely means if she felt around for a wall, she probably could. She might even be able to ram right out of a door.
She stands up, but not straight with the chair digging into her knees and her bound wrists behind her. She hunches over and walks backwards until the chair bumps into something. She shoves back, but whatever’s there doesn’t move.
Gwenllian takes a few steps to the left and shoves back again. Nothing.
She does this again and again until she hits a corner. This time she shoves with her shoulder and hears a rattle.
Gwenllian grins and presses her face to the door. She rubs it up and down until she finds the sides. Then she goes down, down, down until something brushes her cheek. Hinges. It opens outward in.
She feels for a door nob or handle using her face and finds something? She’s not sure what. But it feels like it’s connected to the door.
Gwenllian wriggles and bends until she gets her arms out of the way of the back of the chair. She leans against the door until she grabs onto whatever is there. Just gotta keep it together. Breathe. Keep calm. And pull.
She pulls and pulls until finally the door swings in.
Gwenllian looks around and it’s no longer darkness. No, it looks like she’s in one of LINK VRAINS’ many skyscrapers. And the door leads right outside, no balcony, no wall, no Datastorm beneath her.
She can’t log out from here either. So it’s jump or stay put.
With her wrists still tied behind her back and her ankles to the chair, she turns around and falls.
Wind rushes past her ears and adrenaline sores through her blood. Panic grips her heart and Gwenllian realizes she made a very stupid decision. She doesn’t want to die quietly. She wants to scream and shout and cry for help, but her vocal cords are frozen in her throat. She’ll never see Yusaku or her brother again. She won’t see Layra, Kusanagi, Orihime, her cards-
Gwenllian activates her Duel Disk and draws a card.
“Please Hecate. I don’t wanna die.” Gwenllian feels tears fly from her eyes, into the sky, looking like stardust.
She puts her card on her Duel Disk.
Cŵn Annwn appear in the sky, all three of them howling at the sight of her falling. They race through the sky, grabbing her by her cloak and setting her down on another skyscraper.
Gwenllian gasps for breath as she lays on her side. One dog licks her face, while another chews through the ropes on her wrists and the other chews through the ones on her ankles. She lays there and sobs and gasps for breath for a few moments even after the ropes are gone, rolling onto her chest and lifting herself up.
The three Cŵn Annwn whimper at her sides.
Gwenllian sits on her legs and smiles, reaching out to pet them, “I’m alive. Thank you.”
The dogs bark happily and lick every inch of her they can get to. Gwenllian laughs and cries and pets them in return.
“Well, well, well.”
Gwenllian freezes and the dogs all turn to the left. They growl and snarl.
“I didn’t expect you to rescue yourself. I was rather looking forward to a heroic mission.”
Gwenllian looks to the left and sees the dogs snarling at a man in a white suit with white hair and blue eyes.
She pulls on her game face, “And who are you supposed to be, Queen’s butler?”
The man blinks at her and chuckles, “Not exactly. My name is Spectre and I am a Knight of Hanoi.”
Gwenllian gets to her feet and rolls her eyes, “Really? Please don’t tell me you have a Deck of ghosts, because like, I love my Deck too but I wouldn’t model my entire avatar to match.”
Spectre chuckles, “So quick witted-”
“Alas, I admit it.” Gwenllian shrugs, “And if you don’t mind, I’d love to meet your boss and kick his ass. If I can’t then, I’m ready to get out of here.”
Spectre’s eye twitches but he doesn’t stop smiling, “Unfortunately, my Master is a touch busy looking for your partner.”
Gwenllian’s eyes widen and the Cŵn Annwn snarl, “What do you mean?”
“Master Revolver wishes to Duel Playmaker for his Ignis.” Spectre goes back to smiling relaxed, “He’s willing to put the cure for Blue Angel’s virus on the line.”
And logs out.
Louisa gasps as she sits up, looking around the hospital room in confusion. Oh shoot, shoot, shoot!
She pulls the covers off and looks to the side to see her phone resting on top of her clothes. She grabs it and calls Yusaku, but he doesn’t pick up. Then she calls Kusanagi, but he doesn’t pick up either. Damn idiots, damn idiots, idiots, idiots!
Louisa looks up at the TV in the corner, where Blue Angel is looking less than perky.
“What you did to me, was like, so shady! That was a real mean trick trying to get me to crash by acting like you were hurt! You thought you put me to sleep, but I’m wide awake and I am sooo gonna beat you!” Blue Angel gets up in the camera’s face, “I demand a rematch and you are sooo giving me one! This time, no nasty tricks!”
Louisa swallows. If what Spectre said is true, then there’s no way that’s Blue Angel. But it’s her only lead and it’s the fastest way she can let Yusaku know she’s okay.
Louisa activates her Duel Disk and picks a jump location.
“INTO THE VRAINS!”
Playmaker and Unnamed are almost to Gwenllian’s location when the announcement comes out. Blue Angel demanding a rematch with Gwenllian? It has to be a trap. But that would mean whoever is going through so much effort to deceive them doesn’t know Gwenllian is out of commission, so they can’t be Hanoi.
It’s their only lead to curing Blue Angel though, so they keep in mind that they need to investigate it after they free Gwenllian.
That is until-
“I’m right here, Blue Angel!”
“What the glitch?!” Ai shouts.
Unnamed turns his head, “No way!”
Playmaker is staring in shock.
Gwenllian stands before Blue Angel on the screen, looking a little battered, a little bruised, but awake and alive.
Blue Angel smirks, “Good, now-”
“Before we Duel, I need to ask. Who are you?” Gwenllian takes a step forward.
“What, but that’s Blue Angel?!” The reporters shout.
Blue Angel hums, her smile turning smug, “Wow, what gave it away? And I thought I nailed these pigtails.”
Unnamed gasps and turns to him, “PM we know that’s a trap-”
Playmaker grabs him and jumps, “Hold on!”
Unnamed screams alongside Ai as Playmaker lands on his board. It’s a tight squeeze with Unnamed clinging to him, but he can still surf, so he does. He goes as fast as the data allows.
He has to get to Gwenllian before it’s too late.
Playmaker won’t lose her. Not again.
Akira gazes sadly at his sister’s sleeping face, then turns to the monster that put her in this wretched state. Ghost Gal did a good job with getting Gwenllian captured. Now it’s up to him to make her talk and save his sister.
“Gwenllian. I am Akira Zaizen. I am the Head of SOL Tech’s security.” He narrows his eyes, “And unless you free my sister, I will be the one to end you. You thought you could hurt her and walk free?!”
Gwenllian stares at him, then shakes her head, “Zaizen, I didn’t hurt her, I tried to-”
“Enough of your lies!” Akira snarls, “You were the one to put her to sleep in your Duel. So you must know how to wake her. Tell me how you cursed her and tell me now!”
“It wasn’t me, Zaizen. It was the Knights of Hanoi, please let me out!” Gwenllian looks pale.
“Stop lying! My sister would never work with the Hanoi!” Akira prepares to tighten the bindings.
“And you’re right, she wouldn’t, I think she was tricked, please let me out!” Gwenllian is wriggling now.
“NOT UNTIL YOU TELL ME HOW TO CURE MY SISTER!” Akira activates the bindings.
They tighten around her, squeezing the unneeded air out of her. It’s not like she’ll actually suffocate or be crushed in LINK VRAINS anyway. Gwenllian screams, panic appearing on her face. Good, maybe she’ll talk now.
“I tried to save her, the Hanoi did this!” Gwenllian inhales sharply, “I tried to stop the Duel!”
“Stop lying and tell me how to cure her! ” Akira squeezes.
“STOP, STOP PLEASE!” Gwenllian screams, tears running down her face, “I’M SCARED, STOP PLEASE!”
“Then tell me the truth!” Akira squeezes harder, “Or I can make this much worse.”
Gwenllian screams even more, “I DON’T KNOW HOW TO SAVE HER, I DON’T, I DON’T, STOP IT, I CAN’T BREATHE, PLEASE, I DON’T WANNA DIE!”
Akira squeezes more.
Gwenllian screams loud enough to make his ears ring.
Akira stops, turning his head, staring up in shock. Playmaker and another player crash through the stain glass window on a board for Speed Duelling.
“What in the-” Ghost Gal shouts.
Playmaker roars and jumps off his board. Akira is frozen in shock as he comes down on him, knocking him to the ground.
“LET MY SISTER GO, AKIRA ZAIZEN!” Playmaker grabs him by the collar, picks him up and slams him on the ground, “LET HER GO!”
Shoot, his head hurts! Akira growls and bares through the pain.
“Akira!” Ghost Gal shouts.
The other player grunts, “Sorry, I don’t hit girls, but-”
Ghost Gal grunts and the sound of a fist fight breaks out.
“GWENLLIAN DID NOTHING TO BLUE ANGEL, AKIRA ZAIZEN! RELEASE HER!” Playmaker slams him on the ground again.
Akira growls, “ENOUGH OF YOUR LIES! IF YOU WANT TO SAVE HER, CURE MY SISTER!”
Playmaker roars and goes to punch him-
Card Profile: Horse Lord, Teyrnon
[A man stands protectively with a white horse at his side. He has a dark bearded face with a helmet on his head. He wears a chain mail dress shirt with leather boots and black trousers. His cloak is long and clinging to the back of it is a small child with blonde hair.]
Type: Quick Play
Effect: This card negates the destruction of a Welsh Warrior and ends the Battle Phase.
Chapter 9: Those Demons Follow
Louisa smiles as she munches her tuna sandwich, “You enjoying your lunch Yusaku?”
He nods, strawberry jam all over his mouth, “Why did you make my lunch today, though? What’s the occasion?”
“Well I heard that it was your birthday today, but I didn’t know what to get you. Then I remembered you said you liked strawberries, so I hoped a jam sandwich would work out.” Louisa awkwardly rubs the back of her head, “It’s a pretty lousy gift, I know, but it was short notice and I know I’ll do better next-“
“It’s perfect.” Yusaku feels tears in the corner of his eyes then he smiles at Louisa, “Thank you, Lou.”
Louisa gasps. Not once in all the time she’s known Yusaku has she seen him smile. Not when she first ate with him, not when she told jokes, not when she acted clownish in a vain attempt to get him to giggle. He’s smiling, just because she did something nice for him.
She knows in her heart she will do whatever it takes to protect Yusaku and his rare smile. Even sacrifice herself.
All heads turn towards where lightning struck and smoke now blows. Gwenllian takes the time to regulate her breathing, not think about the binding cr(don’t think about it! just breathe!) and figure out what to do. She can see the man in the smoke before anyone else.
Gwenllian shouts, “Revolver!”
The man who made Yusaku suffer 10 years ago stands in the smoke, grinning at her through his ugly mask, “Hello Gwenllian. We would have met earlier if you were less competent.”
Panic threatens to grab her mind but then she sees Playmaker staring in shock, fear on his face. Calm settles over her and a storm of anger brews in her chest.
“Is that a backhanded compliment? Or did you expect a warrior princess to roll over?” Gwenllian sighs and looks to the side, “Stupid boys and their over inflated egos. Why must intelligent women like me put up with such buffoonery as them?”
She sees Ghost Gal stifling a giggle and Unnamed looking at her in betrayal. Sorry man.
“You seem spirited despite your circumstances.” Revolver steps closer to her, “Perhaps you’d do well to remember you are at someone’s mercy.”
“Mercy, Percy, an ugly as fudge alien like you don’t scare me. That’s why I have a brilliant idea.” Gwenllian smirks, reaching for her confidence, “Give Blue Angel the anti virus and take me as your hostage instead.”
“Gwenllian?!” Zaizen and Playmaker shout.
“Come on, I’ll be much more entertaining than Blue Angel.” Gwenllian giggles, “I’m closer to Playmaker than her, I’m chock full of funny banter, you can make Playmaker angry by having him doubting humanity. It’ll be a regular party!”
“Gwenllian, are you mad?!” Unnamed shouts.
“Told you she was dumber than a calculator!” Ai scoffs.
Playmaker looks like he’s ready to start screaming but Gwenllian looks him in the eyes.
Figure out what I’m doing, Yusaku. This is our only option.
Playmaker narrows his eyes and he looks ready to say something.
Heads turn towards Zaizen, who looks like his world has been rocked.
“Why would you sacrifice yourself to help my sister?” Zaizen looks like he’s not sure what to do, “How could this benefit you?”
“Uhh that’s the idea? It doesn’t? Come on Zaizen, have you never heard of heroic sacrifice?” Gwenllian rolls her eyes, “Hecate, why can’t everyone be genre savvy for once?”
Zaizen looks at Blue Angel then her, “Why then?”
Gwenllian looks him dead in the eye, “Because I know how you feel.”
Zaizen gasps and takes a few steps back.
“I’m a older sister, Zaizen. If I were in your shoes, I would be doing anything and more to wake up Playmaker.” Gwenllian smiles, “It’s our job as the oldest to protect our brother and sister, is it not?”
Zaizen looks floured. Gwenllian looks at Playmaker to see him still seething with rage, but compliant. That means he believes in her.
Gwenllian looks at Revolver, “So come on already, man, you have a willing hostage tied up in ribbons, ready and waiting to scream in agony as you torture me for information or whatever it is you Hanoi do all day. It’s a no brainer.”
Playmaker snarls, “Akira Zaizen. If you do this, I will hunt you down-”
“And I will stop you.” Gwenllian snaps. She turns to Zaizen and smiles, “It’s okay. I’ve logged out earlier, I can handle being in LINK VRAINS a little longer. I don’t know about Blue Angel though.”
Zaizen is still gaping at her like a fish out of water.
Revolver starts laughing, “You’re all a bunch of fools! Very well then, Gwenllian as my hostage in exchange for Blue Angel’s anti virus. Kindly give me her lock and key, Akira Zaizen.”
“Uhh, no way hosay!” Gwenllian scoffs, “Blue Angel’s anti virus first! You poisoned her, why the Hecate would we trust you to take me and then give the anti virus? Any dastardly villain knows two hostages are better than one!”
Revolver laughs again, “My, you certainly are gutsy. But I am not a dastardly villain as you like to believe, so I will give Blue Angel the anti virus.”
He produces a golden card and throws it at Blue Angel. She glows a soft blue, then smiles. She logs out, unharmed.
Gwenllian breathes a sigh of relief.
Revolver turns on Zaizen, “Now Gwenllian’s lock and key, if you’d be so kind.”
Zaizen looks at him, then at Gwenllian.
“Gwenllian. I’m sorry.” He hangs his head, “Even after all the suffering I caused you, you put your own life in jeopardy for my sister. I don’t know how I can ever repay you or earn your forgiveness.”
Playmaker takes a step towards him, his hands clenched. Unnamed grabs his shoulder, holding him back.
Gwenllian laughs, “There’s nothing to forgive, stupid! I would have throttled you if you hurt Playmaker, I think I got off easy. Now go see your sister.”
Zaizen is staring at her anew.
Then he narrows his eyes and, “Run.”
He releases her.
Gwenllian drops to the ground hard, landing on her butt with a shout. Zaizen logs out and Unnamed and Playmaker shout for her.
Revolver snarls, “You won’t-”
He closes in on her. Gwenllian gets to her hands and kicks him in the chin. She pushes herself off her hands and lands on her feet. Revolver is snarling at her, so Gwenllian giggles.
“Care to Speed Duel, Revolver? I’ll be your hostage if you win and then Playmaker will have one more reason to hate you guys and wreck your day.” Gwenllian makes a come here motion with her hand, “Or are you chicken?”
Playmaker is looking at her in relief and Unnamed is leaning against him as if out of breathe.
Revolver finally nods, “Very well then.” He smirks, “Displaying a taste of my power on a small fry isn’t my style, but it should be interesting to watch Playmaker squirm.”
The datastorm comes rolling in, along with two boards.
Akira runs to through the hospital hallways until he makes it to Aoi’s room. He sits beside her, panting and takes her hand.
“Please, Aoi. Please wake up.” Akira swallows.
He doesn’t know what he’ll do if Revolver lied and just infected her with something worse. He hopes Gwenllian and the others managed to escape from Revolver. He was so stupid and angry, he sort of wants Playmaker to punch him again. He’d deserve it for what he’s done.
Akira gasps, “Aoi!”
Aoi opens her eyes, looking at him, “Akira?”
Akira starts to cry, “I’m so glad you’re safe.”
Aoi’s eyes widen, then she gasps, sitting up, “Gwenllian!”
Akira blinks, “Wh-”
“She tried to save me, she stole Hanoi’s card to save me!” Aoi looks at him, “Akira, what happened?”
Akira feels dread fill his gut and he can’t look at her.
“Akira please!” Aoi grabs his hands back.
His Duel Disk beeps.
Akira and Aoi look at it. It’s a link to a video feed.
Akira opens it, blinking in surprise, “Ghost Gal?”
“Revolver’s about to Duel Gwenllian!” Ghost Gal turns her camera around, “I’m giving you the front row seat. Aren’t you lucky?”
Aoi gasps, looking at Akira, “Why-”
“I thought Gwenllian was the one who put you to sleep, so I made Ghost Gal capture her. Then Revolver and Playmaker showed up wanting her released, so I did.” Akira feels shame in his gut as he tells the half truth.
Aoi swallows and looks at his Duel Disk, “I have to watch this. Please Akira.”
Akira sees the determination in her eyes and he knows he can’t deny her. He puts it on the TV in her room.
Revolver rides the winds, eager to do away with Gwenllian. The Welsh Warrior Deck wasn’t something the Hanoi were interested in, but her connection to Playmaker would make her a useful hostage. Demonstrating his power by defeating her would likely rattle Playmaker and if he’s scared and angry, it won’t be too hard to defeat him.
Though he can admit to himself, at least, that he’s not simply doing this for the Hanoi. He’s curious about Playmaker and Gwenllian seems more talkative of the two. Perhaps he can gather intelligence from her.
“Hecate guild me.”
He’s curious to battle a fellow witch. It’s been a long time since he’s met another Duelist like him.
“Remember if I win, you become my hostage, Gwenllian!” Revolver calls over the wind, “No more tricks.”
“Yeah, yeah and if I win, the Hanoi have to stop fudging with everyone’s lives! You’ve already made more than enough people suffer! It’s going to end with me!” Gwenllian shouts, “I can promise you that!”
“You seem quite certain that you will win.” Revolver smirks, “But in the end, you will fail like all who have opposed me. This is not an opinion, it’s a fact.”
“Well aren’t you full of yourself.” Gwenllian rolls her eyes.
“I can’t afford to lose, not so long as the Ignis is in your brother’s possession.” Revolver glares at her, “It’s the greatest threat to mankind and it must be deleted before it’s too late.”
Gwenllian lifts her head, “What the heck is an Ignis? Are you talking about Ai?”
Revolver twitches, “You named it? How can you treat something that dangerous like a little puppy? Are you truly unaware of what you have?”
This is unbelievable. He should’ve just Duelled Playmaker like he’d planned to.
“Ai is the most harmless thing I’ve ever met. The little dude is an eyeball, you’re off your rocker if you think that’s gonna destroy humanity.” Gwenllian speeds to his side, “Did he delete your bank account or something?”
“A.Is are not to be trusted, I don’t even include one in my Duel Disk.” Revolver feels anger brew in his gut, “This whole network world, it’s an illusion that will lead to the end of humanity.”
“Then why the Hecate are you Duelling in it instead of wrecking people in the real world?” Gwenllian groans, “Ugh, why do dastardly villains always have to be so hypocritical?”
“I’m in LINK VRAINS because someone has to talk sense into the people in here. My mission is to stop the end of humanity.” Revolver echos his father’s words, “People have to wake up before it’s too late. I will destroy the Ignis to save the world. And if that means destroying you and your brother, Gwenllian, then I have no choice.”
Gwenllian smirks, “Are you done monologuing? Because if this is the last Duel I ever fight, then I’d rather not die of boredom listening to your drivel.”
Revolver smirks in return and throws out his hand, “Oh trust me, this Duel will be more than memorable!”
The roads and streets crack, spewing fire and brimstone all around. Explosions go off everywhere and Revolver imagines this is what Hell will look like when he goes there. He knows he is not a good person. But someone has to risk it all to save the human race, even if he’ll never be thanked for it.
Gwenllian screams as she dodges a burst of fire, “DRAMATIC MUCH?!”
Revolver laughs, “Gwenllian this is where you will crash and burn! And your brother will be next!”
Gwenllian narrows her eyes, “Not unless I die! Now hurry up and take your turn! This is a Duel!”
“Very well.” Revolver chuckles, “I draw!”
Playmaker and Unnamed crowd around the screen in front of them that links them to Ghost Gal’s cameras. It looks like the Duel has finally started.
“I’m worried, Unnamed.” Playmaker turns to his ally, “Since Revolver is the leader of the Hanoi, he’ll likely have even more powerful monsters in his Deck than Cracking Dragon. Gwenllian and I both struggled against that beast and part of me wonders if I should have stopped her.”
“Well Ai’m glad you didn’t Duel!” Ai cackles, “Get it? Ai? I? One more chance to live for me.”
Playmaker glares at the A.I in his Duel Disk. Ai shuts up. Unnamed settles a hand on his shoulder. Playmaker turns to face him.
“Gwenllian’s one tough customer. You’re okay to worry about her, but we gotta have faith too.” Unnamed smiles, “She’s gotten a lot stronger than when I first met you two. She’ll give Revolver a run for his money if nothing else. Besides, she’d have probably gotten mad at you if you tried to stop her.”
Playmaker hums, “True.”
“Gwenllian glitch this guy!” Ai cheers.
Playmaker hopes she can.
Aoi swallows thickly, leaning against Akira, “Can she win?”
Gwenllian’s screams from when she was under the influence of the Hanoi card still haunt her. She doesn’t want her to suffer anymore after she’d already been hurt by her and Akira.
Akira closes his eyes, “I don’t know. But I do know she’ll fight with everything she has to protect LINK VRAINS so long as her brother is in it.”
Aoi looks at Akira, then back to the screen.
She clasps her hands and closes her eyes.
Please win, Gwenllian. Please.
“I pay 1000 life points to activate the spell Dragonoid Generator.” Revolver selects the spell, “With this, I can summon 2 Dragonoid Tokens every turn.”
The two monsters appear.
Gwenllian swallows, “Let me guess, here comes Cracking Dragon?”
Revolver chuckles, “Indeed it does. Take to the Field!”
Cracking Dragon appears as the two tokens disappear, all terrifying 3000 ATK of it. Gwenllian swallows.
“At the end of my turn, Dragonoid Generator summons two Dragonoid Tokens to your side of the Field to match the two I summoned.” Revolver declares.
The two tokens appears.
Gwenllian narrows her eyes. Why would he give her tokens unless… “Shoot, Cracking Dragon’s effect!”
“Exactly. 200 points of damage per each Monster’s Level.” Revolver smirks, “The Dragonoid Tokens are Level 1 and each have 300 ATK.”
“Which means 400 points for me.” Gwenllian looks at her hand, as she glows yellow.
But it wasn’t enough damage to get her points lower than Revolver’s. Why go through all that trouble for a measly 400 damage? Either way, Gwenllian can’t let her guard down.
“I draw!” Gwenllian draws her card.
It’s a trap. It should help her out later. For now, she needs to handle Cracking Dragon and that Dragonoid Generator. With two tokens on her field, she can summon higher level monsters, but they’ll lose ATK and she’ll take damage to whatever she summons. She won’t be able to destroy Cracking Dragon with her current hand, not in this turn at least. But she has a monster that can destroy Revolver on her next turn, after Cracking Dragon’s Effect is over.
“I tribute one Dragonoid Token to summon Welsh Warrior Math!” Gwenllian plays her card.
The ancient sorcerer king takes to the field dressed in his robes, his 3100 ATK at the ready.
“And now you take 1200 damage for his levels and Math loses those points too!” Revolver throws out his hand.
Cracking Dragon roars, creating some terribly strong winds. Math’s ATK goes down to 1900 and Gwenllian loses life points.
“That may be true, but now I activate the Spell, Lady Guest’s Retold Gift!” Gwenllian plays it, “By destroying one Monster on my field, I’m allowed another summon! Meet Welsh Warrior Dylan!”
The Dragonoid Token bursts into data and a merman appears on the field with 1500 ATK at the ready.
“But now you take damage once more!” Revolver laughs, “Are you trying to lose?”
“Nope, because Dylan has a special ability that lets you get to know him personally! When you control a Special Summoned or Level 5 or above Monster, he can attack you directly!” Gwenllian grins.
Dylan dives into the datastorm with only 700 ATK and jumps out of it right in front of Revolver. He smacks him in the head with his tail, nearly knocking him off his board.
“But why stop with Dylan when I have this?” Gwenllian plays an Equip Spell, “The Thieves of Dyfed let's one Monster attack you directly and that Monster gains 100 ATK after each strike. Who better to give it to than Math?”
Math turns into a swarm of mice and runs under Cracking Dragon without it even noticing. Math takes on a human form once he’s in front of Revolver and blasts him with a golden light.
“Now I activate Math’s ability, which lets me add a Spell Card from my Deck to my hand.” Gwenllian grins as Math returns to her side, “And with two cards face down, I end my turn and I’ll beat your ugly mask next round!”
Math’s ATK raise to 3200 while Dylan does a happy flip over his raising to 1500.
But Revolver smiles, “It seems you helped me reach my objective quicker than I expected. I thank you for making your destruction so easy, Gwenllian.”
Gwenllian narrows her eyes, “What the fish cakes do you mean?!”
“I draw!” Revolver does so, “This is just getting worse and worse for you Gwenllian.”
“I’m not scared of a guy who won’t even show his face!” Gwenllian shouts.
But she is nervous. Revolver is incredibly confident given he only has 200 life points and a monster weaker than hers on the field. Sure, Cracking Dragon could destroy Dylan, but she would still have 100 life points left. That’s just enough to stay in the game and use Math to destroy Cracking Dragon on her next turn. What’s he planning?
“First, I summon my Gateway Dragon to the field!” Revolver calls.
A bronze dragon holding a shield appears on the field with a mighty roar.
“And I’ll use its ability to special summon my Sniffer Dragon!” Revolver declares.
A small red dragon appears from Gateway Dragon’s shield.
Dylan murmurs fearfully and hides behind Math. Math narrows his eyes and takes a protective stance. Gwenllian swallows nervously. Her Monsters are scared but she can’t back down.
“There was a part of my powers I forgot to show you earlier, Gwenllian. The time has come to use them!” Revolver shouts, “Datastorm rage for me!”
Suddenly the relatively calm waves of data roar and rush by, all of them converging right in front of Revolver in the eye of the storm.
“You can control the Datastorm?!” Gwenllian screams as she struggles to stay on her board.
“Which pairs perfectly with my Skill. A Skill you’ll most likely recognize.” Revolver thrusts his hand into the wave of Data as it crashes over him-
“What does he mean, a Skill we’ll recognize?” Unnamed fiddles with his cap.
Playmaker’s eyes widen and he lifts his Duel Disk, “Ai, is it possible for two Duelists to have the same Skill?”
Ai’s eye bugs out, “Uhh, I think so. But then that would mean-”
Unnamed gasps and looks at him, “PM-”
Playmaker is already hoping on his board to catch up.
“GO STORM ACCESS!” Revolver shouts.
Ghost Gal gasps, “No way.”
Gwenllian screams, “WHAT FOR THE LOVE OF FUDGE IS HAPPENING?!”
Ghost Gal doesn’t know, but she doesn’t like it.
Aoi gasps, “Gwenllian!”
That Skill has been how Playmaker wins all of his Duels! How can Revolver have it? And if he can control the Datastorm, then how powerful will the Monster inside be?
Akira turns his head away, “You may not want to watch this-”
“I have to!” Aoi shouts, “Gwenllian!”
Gwenllian feels fear brew deep in her gut and threaten to spill from her lips. She’s scared. She can hardly keep on her board. She knows she won’t survive a second fall from a Speed Duel. Revolver’s monster will make sure she doesn’t even last the Duel.
Revolver bursts from the storm and into the Circuit to summon a Link Monster with Sniffer Dragon, Gateway Dragon and Cracking Dragon.
Revolver comes out with Topologic Bomber Dragon.
Gwenllian screams as she struggles to stay on her board. Dylan and Math go flying from the Link 4 Monster and she distantly hears another Duelist fighting the wind. She has to hang on. For Ai, Yusaku and Kusanagi and herself, she has to hang on!
She lands her board on the datastorm and gets back to her feet. Math and Dylan rush to her sides and she gazes upon the beast-
When she notices it only has 3000 ATK.
That’s not enough to take out Math.
“Revolver, what’s that thing’s special ability?” Gwenllian shouts.
“Is that fear and desperation I hear in your voice?” Revolver chuckles, “Well I won’t keep you waiting. I activate the effect of Dragonoid Generator! Now I get to summon a token next to Topologic Bomber Dragon’s Link. But it won’t be here for long. When a monster is summoned next to Topologic Bomber Dragon’s Link, it destroys all the Monsters in our Main Monster Zones!”
Math and Dylan turn to her.
“Oh no.” Gwenllian whispers.
A bright light attacks her two Monsters and they vanish from the field, taking The Thieves of Dyfed with them.
“And now ATTACK!” Revolver roars.
Ghost Gal bites her lip, “Come on kid.”
“It can’t end like this!” Unnamed shouts in the empty church, “Gwenllian!”
“GWENLLIAN!” Playmaker roars as he surfs as quickly as he can to his sister’s aid.
“We have to save her Playmaker!” Ai shouts, “Or you’ll be even grumpier than before!”
Aoi covers her mouth tears running down her face, “This is all my fault! If I hadn’t challenged Playmaker, the Hanoi never would have gotten this far!”
Akira hugs her close, hiding her face in his shoulder.
“Come on.” Akira murmurs, “Come on!”
Gwenllian shouts, “I activate the Spell the Cauldron of Rebirth!”
A pot appears on her field, a nauseating green fluid bubbling inside.
“I can summon one Welsh Warrior from my Graveyard once per turn and it loses 500 ATK and DEF points!” Gwenllian pulls out, “Dylan I need you!”
Out of the pot appears Dylan, bandages around his eyes and with only 1000 ATK.
“And I activate the trap Reckless Prince!” Gwenllian shouts, “When a Welsh Warrior does battle, both Players take the damage!”
Revolver shouts, “WHAT!”
Topologic Bomber Dragon blasts Dylan, who explodes into a million pixels.
Gwenllian screams as the blast throws her off her board.
Revolver roars as he barely manages to stay on his.
Card Profile: Otherworld
[A beautiful forest, with a flowing river cutting through. Sunlight filters through the trees like stardust and daffodils bloom on the forest floor. Welsh Warrior Ceffyl Dwr drinks from the water on the left side of the river, Welsh Warrior Cwn Annwn drinks on the right side.]
Effect: All Welsh Warriors gain 1000 ATK during each players Battle Phase.
Chapter 10: A Curse Brewing for 10 Years Begins to Lift
Louisa has known Yusaku for about a year now. She knows he gets quiet when he’s thinking deeply about something and that his eyes narrow when it’s something he just can’t work out. Normally then she’d crack a joke to get him out of his head and in the real world to talk it out with her.
But he’s gotten that look often in the past few days, especially when they talk about magic. Asking him won’t make him talk either, so Louisa’s taken to letting him think it through. She’s expecting no different tonight.
But it is.
“Louisa.” Yusaku waits until she looks at him, “How do you curse someone?”
Louisa’s breathe hitches, “What brought this on?”
Yusaku’s hands turn to fists on his knees, “I learned the Lost Incident went by another name. I know who made me suffer.” He lifts his head, an angry glint in his eyes, “I want them in jail where they can never hurt anyone else again.”
Louisa settles her hands in her lap, “And you think a curse will do this?”
“Yes.” Yusaku declares.
Louisa thinks, long and hard about her next words. Her Mom made her promise to never curse anyone. But..
“Curses, Hexs and Jinxs are pretty powerful spells, Yusaku. They’re spells meant to hurt someone. Most witches don’t dare practice them, fearful of their power and that of Karma’s. That what you put out comes back to you. That Karma will eventually get to whoever or whatever hurt you, so if you hurt back with magic, you’ll be hurt with magic. I can’t tell you what to do or believe, only you can choose that Yusaku.” Louisa looks at the sky, “They’re dangerous spells.”
Yusaku stands up, “So I can’t-”
“But if you really need to learn how to Curse, then I won’t stop you.” Louisa turns to him, “I don’t know how, but I’ll ask around and see if I can find someone who does use those spells. If you think this will help you heal, then go for it.”
Yusaku gapes at her, then nods, “Thank you.”
“Just promise me one thing.” Louisa holds out her hands.
Yusaku looks at them nervously, but puts his hands in hers. Louisa squeezes and gets on her knee to be eye level with him.
“Promise me you will be safe. You’ll place the strongest protections you know on yourself, you’ll aim it specifically for whoever hurt you down to the middle name.” Louisa shakes his hands, “Just look after yourself. I taught you magic to help you, not to hurt you.”
Yusaku nods and shakes her hands in return, “I swear it.”
Louisa hopes she hasn’t set Yusaku on a path that will end him.
Gwenllian feels her body go cold as she falls through the datastorm. The winds range, throwing her around like a rag doll. She’s not going to make it. She’s gonna die in the datastorm Revolver has conjured up-
Gwenllian’s eyes go hard. No. She is not dying in this datastorm. She hasn’t rescued David, she hasn’t destroyed the Hanoi with Yusaku, she hasn’t seen Jin recovered. Layra hasn’t had her first litter, Ai hasn’t become her friend, she hasn’t met Orihime for over 5 years. She has too many things to do, she won’t die in this storm.
A memory floods her.
“Until my revenge is enacted, I will live for nothing but. Hecate, guide me towards a path that will lead to the imprisonment of the Knights of Hanoi at my hands. Regardless of how much pain and loneliness is on this path, I wish to cross it. I will throw away everything until it is done.”
Gwenllian can’t die until she finally sees Yusaku make a friend. But that won’t happen if the Hanoi don’t fall at their hands. If Playmaker doesn’t win.
If she is going to die, this will be her last request.
“HECATE I WANT PLAYMAKER TO WIN!” Gwenllian screams until there’s nothing left.
A roar meets her and the shadow of a great beast crashes into her.
And the world goes dark.
Playmaker holds Gwenllian close, his heart aching, his head spinning, barely able to think beyond how absolutely furious he is. He’s going to curse Revolver to Hell and back. There will be nothing left of him when he defeats him. If it’s the last thing he’ll ever do.
“Is she okay?” Ai murmurs, “She was in the storm for a while before we pulled her out.”
“I don’t know.” Playmaker finally finds a building to set her down in.
He jumps off his board through a broken window. He sets Gwenllian against a pillar in the room, behind it so no one can see her through the window he came in. She’s covered in scratches and bruises and his heart aches like nothing before. He didn’t think he could feel this much pain ever.
Ai scabs her, “She’s alive, if nothing else.”
That does sooth his spirits slightly.
Playmaker shouts, “Gwenllian!”
She opens her eyes and they lock with his. Relief fills his heart. She starts to cry and suddenly Playmaker learns what heartbreak feels like.
“I’m sorry.” Gwenllian trembles and hiccups with sobs, “If I’d summoned Math, I could have won. I wouldn’t have hit zero and Revolver wouldn’t hurt you anymore. The curse would finally be fulfilled and you could be free. But I failed. I panicked and crashed. Now you have to fight.”
Playmaker knows the curse she’s referencing all too well. The one they made to punish the Hanoi for all they’ve done. To land each and every one of them in jail where they could never hurt anyone else again. She’d been frightened of casting it, knowing the universe may lash out at them for asking it to hurry and destroy the Hanoi. But she’d done it anyway because she knew it would give him piece of mind.
Gwenllian has done so much for him.
Playmaker settles his hand on her shoulders, “You’re human. I wouldn’t want you any other way. Thanks to you, I know at least a bit about how Revolver’s deck works. You saved me again, Gwenllian. Now I’ll save you.”
Gwenllian is staring at him in shock. Then she smiles.
“Show the Hanoi what an angry witch can do.” She lifts up her hands.
“Hey uhh, why are you holding a card?” Ai blinks at it in confusion.
Playmaker is curious too.
Gwenllian looks at her hand and gasps. She looks him in the eye, “I called to Hecate for your victory and I saw the shadow of a dragon before the world went black. This might be it. This might finally fulfil the curse we created so long ago.”
Ai bugs out of his Duel Disk, “Are you saying magic made you use Storm Access?!”
“I don’t know. But I know you can do this.” Gwenllian holds out the card, “Wreck Revolver, PM.”
Playmaker takes the card and adds it to his Deck.
Gwenllian smiles and waves her fingers, “Later.”
She logs out. Playmaker breathes easier knowing she’s safe in the real world.
Now it’s time to blow Revolver away.
Revolver chuckles as he observes the field, “Face it Playmaker, you can’t win. You’re little more than a pebble in my shoe. Annoying and bothersome yes, but ultimately easy to deal with. Once I’ve defeated you, you’ll be lost to history.”
It’s too bad really. He was enjoying their Duel and it’s not often he had an opponent try this hard to defeat him. It’s charming, it really is. But Playmaker will fall, he will take the Ignis and the Hanoi’s mission will be completed.
Perhaps then he’ll be free.
“You’re wrong. I must win.” Playmaker points to him, “I will win, Revolver! And I have three reasons why!”
And Revolver forgets to breathe. No way.
“1) I must avenge the horrors the Knights of Hanoi put me and 5 others through a decade ago.”
“2) Defeating you is a step towards uncovering the truth about that incident.”
He has to be dreaming.
“3) I must rescue the one who rescued me!”
Can it be him? That boy with the blue and pink hair and the greenest eyes he’d ever seen?
“After all these years? You’re here?” Revolver can’t contain his shock.
Playmaker stares at him with fire and brimstone behind his green eyes, “It took 10 years to build up my strength. To hold a Deck once again after you ruined my life. But I’m back. And with Hecate guiding me and my sister, we will be victorious!”
Revolver feels fear spike in his gut.
“Now I’m going to enact the curse we cast on you for all the pain you’ve caused us!” Playmaker points to the sky, “Create the ultimate circuit!”
A Circuit appears in the sky and Playmaker enters it with his Code Talkers.
“6 stolen childhoods, enact your revenge! A decade of grief, comes to an end! The Curse of Gwenllian and Playmaker will now be completed! I summon the beast gifted to us, to bring about our victory! LINK 4! FIREWALL DRAGON!”
A dragon appears from the circuit and Fire Prison crashes down around Revolver along with his world.
Card Profile: The Reckless Prince
[Welsh Warrior Pwyll is charging up a hill covered in lightning and thunder with his army behind him. On top of the hill is a dark and gloomy castle.]
Effect: You and your opponent take the same amount of Battle Damage whenever a Welsh Warrior does battle.
Chapter 11: After The Storm
Louisa extinguishes the candles and looks behind her. Yusaku is sleeping on the floor, completely exhausted after casting his first (and hopefully last) curse. Louisa is as tired as he is, but she has one last spell to perform. Perhaps by doing it now, after the curse, it’ll come true.
Louisa gets Yusaku onto a futon and covers him in a blanket. She returns to the centre of the room, cleared of the supplies they’d used to cast the curse on the Hanoi.
She opens a jar of dandelion seeds she’d harvested at noon. She grabs a penny she found in the streets (a lucky coin, her mother used to tell her) and puts it in the jar. Finally she grabs a tea light and match.
Louisa holds the jar over the tea light with a small shy flame in it. She focuses all her remaining energy into this spell.
“Hecate, when the curse is complete and Yusaku is free, grant him the friendships he needs.” She focuses on thoughts of Yusaku smiling and laughing, surrounded by people who love him and he loves in return, “Grant him friends who would do anything for him and he would do anything for in return. Give him people who will hold him as he cries and lift him up high. Let him find people who make him realize the best parts of himself. Give Yusaku Fujiki friends when the curse of Playmaker and Gwenllian is completed.”
The candle flickers.
Louisa blows it out and then she goes outside. The stars shine bright and the wind blows strong. Louisa blows hard into the jar and all the dandelion seeds fly into her face, then out into the world. She coughs and splutters as the seeds sour high. She blows and blows until all that’s left in the jar is the penny.
Louisa puts the cork in the jar and places it on her window sill.
Then she falls asleep then and there, leaning against the wall.
Louisa sighs in relief as she finally leaves the blasted hospital in her own clothes. It’s barely 2pm but she’s ready to pass out after the Duel she had. Or at least not even hear the word VRAINS for a while.
Louisa blinks and turns her head. Kusanagi is leaning against the wall, looking all too happy to see her. Louisa smiles and walks up to him.
“You good?” Kusanagi looks her up and down, “No nasty side effects from being in LINK VRAINS too much?”
Louisa shakes her head, “Where’s Yusaku?”
Kusanagi grins widely, “Making a friend.”
“What?” Louisa’s eyes widen.
Kusanagi laughs, “We got here as the Zaizens were getting out. Aoi thanked Yusaku for helping her and Yusaku apologised for making her feel like he was using her. I told ‘em they should hang out some time since Yusaku’s such a recluse and Akira said the same thing. They’ve swooped numbers.”
Louisa blinks at him, “You’re kidding me.”
Kusanagi shakes his head.
She beams and starts crying. She hugs Kusanagi tight and he hesitates a moment before returning the hug. They embrace each other for a while as hope curls in Louisa’s gut.
The Hanoi have been defeated for another day. Yusaku’s making a friend. They’re alive.
Louisa looks up at Kusanagi and can’t help but laugh, “Would it be too forward to ask if I can use your first name by this point?”
Kusanagi laughs and ruffles her hair, “Brat. You guys could’ve used it from day one. You were too awkward.”
Louisa growls and bats at Shoichi’s hands, “And you never offered, ya dimwit!”
Shoichi laughs and grabs her hands, “Come on, Yusaku’s waiting in the truck.”
Louisa smiles and follows him into the food truck.
Aoi Zaizen: I’m not very good at making friends. What do friends do?
Yusaku Fujiki: I’m not sure. Louisa insists friends share activities and hobbies together. I’m not sure what that could mean though and I don’t want to ask. She had odd hobbies and interests.
Aoi Zaizen: Louisa?
Yusaku Fujiki: My sister.
Aoi Zaizen: It’s a odd name.
Yusaku Fujiki: She’s adopted. Her name means ‘Famous Warrior’, something she’s fond of reminding me.
Aoi Zaizen: Interesting. Akira and I had different parents. My Mother and his Father married each other.
Yusaku Fujiki: I see. Louisa is typically the one who wants me to make friends the most. Her suggestion of sharing hobbies and activities is the best I can think of. Is there anything you’re interested in participating with me?
Aoi Zaizen: I like bowling.
Yusaku Fujiki: Coincidently, so do I.
Aoi Zaizen: Should we go bowling then? There’s a place near the school I’ve entered once or twice.
Yusaku Fujiki: That sounds agreeable. When should we go?
Aoi Zaizen: I’m not sure. Akira will likely insist I stay at home and rest after my collapse. I will notify you when I’m aware I will be available.
Yusaku Fujiki: Understood. Recover well, Aoi Zaizen.
Aoi Zaizen: I will, Yusaku Fujiki.
Shoichi grins as he enters the food truck. Yusaku’s asleep in his chair, his phone in his hand showing a conversation with Aoi Zaizen, about to slip into his lap. Ai is rolling around in the Duel Disk, most likely bored. Layra takes a moment to stop licking her back foot when they come in.
Layra meows and jumps for them.
“Whoa!” Louisa laughs and catches her, “Aww, was I missed?”
Layra puts her paws on her shoulders and licks her chin.
Louisa looks like she’s going to start crying, “I was, thank you Layra, it’s nice to be loved.”
Shoichi chuckles and takes his seat. He grabs Yusaku’s phone so it doesn’t fall and get another crack. He settles it on the table, then watches a Louisa takes her seat, scratching a purring Layra behind the ear the entire time. He’s so glad to see her up and about again.
“I missed you too, ya know.” Shoichi hums.
Louisa blinks and looks to him, “Wha-”
Shoichi ruffles her hair, “It was way too quiet without you in here. I didn’t wanna lose you anymore than Yusaku did.”
Louisa is staring at him like he said something shocking (it really shouldn’t be, he needs to work on convincing her she’s loved), then she blushes and looks down at her lap. Cute.
Shoichi’s eyes widen as he replays that last thought. Then he coughs and turns to his computers, grabbing Ai and putting him on the scanner.
“I’m gonna check out the data you gobbled up from Revolver.” Shoichi starts typing.
“Damnit, why do you people love invading privacy so much?” Ai pouts, “Do me a favour, if you find a folder labeled Binary Baes, don’t open it. Trust me.”
Shoichi smirks, “Now I really gotta find that file.”
Louisa snorts, “Why you allosexuals get so excited about bodies I’ll never know.”
“Excuse you, it’s not wrong to have a thing for elegant coding when the value strings are so perfectly aligned and…” Ai closes his eye, “I’ve said too much.”
Louisa whistles, “This just in folks. Artificial Intelligences have preferences.”
Shoichi laughs and yep, he and Yusaku would have fallen apart if they lost her.
Bishop: Akira Zaizen heard something he should not have.
Knight: I fear he may become too curious about matters. I fear it is too dangerous to keep him as our chief of security.
Rook: So let us replace him.
Bishop: I propose Kitamura assumes his role. He has the necessary attributes to succeed for us. The most important of which is his desire to please us.
Knight: In order to secure a promotion, he will go to the ends of the Earth to do our bidding.
Rook: What of David Evans though? Akira Zaizen may get close to him should he decide his demotion isn’t enough to stop him.
Bishop: Then perhaps the time has come to have Gwenllian dealt with. Permanently.
Knight: Who should we send after her though? They need to be ruthless and committed.
Rook: I know just the man.
Yusaku gasps awake, “Free will!”
“Let me guess.”
Yusaku turns his head and his breathe hitches.
Louisa smiles at him as she plays with Layra, “You were dreaming about what Revolver said in your Duel.”
Yusaku gapes at her. Then he gets out of his seat, making Louisa jump to her feet. She says something about asking what’s wrong, but he just runs into her arms, wrapping his around her back, hiding his face. She’s okay. She’s here. She’s alive. That’s all he wanted.
Louisa chuckles and hugs him, “Wow, Layra missed me, Shoichi missed me, you missed me. Did Ai miss me too?”
Ai humphs, “Not one bit did I miss your hella unintelligent brain. Yusaku was a whole lot ruder and grumpier without you though.”
Yusaku lifts his head, “Shoichi?”
“Yeah. She asked about first name base while I was picking her up.” Kusanagi turns away from the computer and chuckles, “Which we really should have been on since the start, honestly.”
Yusaku blinks, then looks at Louisa, who’s blushing a little. Does she have a fever? No the hospital would have kept her if she did. Perhaps it’s warm in the truck? It’s not that warm though. He has something a little more important to worry about though.
“Do you think it’s possible,” Yusaku takes a breathe, “Shoichi?”
Kusanagi blinks at him, then smiles, “That Ai has free will? Maybe we can run some tests.”
“Or we could ask him ourselves.” Louisa hums, then settles her arm around his shoulder as she turns to the desk, “Ai, do you have free will? The ability to make choices for yourself?”
Ai rolls in the Duel Disk, “Uhh, of course I’m alive! Just because I don’t breathe oxygen or eat hotdog sandwiches-”
“Not a sandwich!” Shoichi cuts in.
Louisa starts snickering and Yusaku feels amusement bubble in his chest.
“Doesn’t mean I’m not alive! If I didn’t have free will, I couldn’t choose to show you what I learned from Revolver!” Ai shouts, “Behold, my true form!”
Golden light suddenly bursts from his Duel Disk. Yusaku groans as he shields his eyes, Layra meows in fright and jumps onto his shoulders, hissing at his Duel Disk. Louisa groans and Shoichi makes sounds of surprise too.
When the light show is over, a black and purple humanoid creature stands on top of his Duel Disk, it’s hands raised up high.
“Tada! It’s Ai version 2.0!” Ai waves his hands, “See me, love me, adore me, worship me! Now that I have hands I can give ya autographs before I get too famous. Come on! Tell me what you think of this botatious bode. And don’t hold back on your praise, because I can take how awesome ya think I am!”
Yusaku blinks, “You’re small.”
Louisa bursts into laughter and collapses back into her chair. Yusaku doesn’t know what he said, he was just stating facts. Shoichi laughs a little as well, so perhaps it’s something only normal people get. Then again, no one in this van is truly normal.
Ai whimpers, “Oh come on! If 10 fingers, two hands and free will don’t impress, what will?!”
“How about silence?” Yusaku suggests.
Louisa laughs even harder, slips out of her chair and onto the floor. Layra meows at her in concern and starts licking her fingers. Shoichi is cracked up with giggles as well, a lot louder than before. Yusaku doesn’t get the joke, but it’s good to see everyone laughing after all they went through in the last 48 hours.
Blue Angel being poisoned, Louisa almost being lost to it, both her and Playmaker Duelling Revolver and coming out alive. It’s hard to imagine it all happened in only two days. It feels like they ran a marathon.
Louisa sits up, rubbing at her eyes, “Ohh my Hecate, Ai you are one of the best and cutest things that has ever happened to us, I love you!”
Ai gasps. He turns pink all over and then disappears into his Duel Disk.
Shoichi chuckles, “Isn’t that a little forward?”
Louisa gives him the stink eye.
Yusaku smiles and shakes his head, then offers her his hand.
Louisa blinks at him.
He remembers her asking him what movies he likes when he was a kid. He never gave her an answer because he didn’t do things like that. Watching movies, spending time with people he liked, play games and just have fun. He was too busy failing to work through his trauma, barely able to function, let alone enjoy the life he had.
After what they went through though, “Do you know any good movies we could watch?”
Louisa gasps, her eyes widening. She beams and takes his hand, getting to her feet.
“I know one about a horse who’s got way too much heart to let the colonising British Empire take his home.” Louisa flushes a little, “It is a kid film, but the songs are pretty great.”
Yusaku nods, then turns to Shoichi, “Can you watch it with us please?”
Shoichi blinks, then grins, “Sure thing. We’re going to do it at my place though, since I’m the only one of us with a TV. And we’re going snack shopping because the whole point of a movie is to grab a bunch of junk food and enjoy yourself.”
Louisa grins and starts giggling, “Yeah! I can make us some fruit bread, which I promise is pretty good. Stuffing ourselves with other junk sounds like fun too though.”
Yusaku nods and smiles a little. He looks at his Duel Disk, “Ai, do you want to watch it with us?”
Ai appears out of it, blinking. He huffs and comes out of the Duel Disk all the way, “Sure thing, flesh bots, if you apologize for being so mean to me all the time!”
Louisa chuckles, “I guess we do tease you a little too much. Sorry if we hurt your feelings, Ai. It was only in good fun, nothing malicious meant.”
Ai shrugs, “I guess that’s the best I’m gonna get.”
Yusaku nods, “To Shoichi’s house then?”
“To Shoichi’s!” Louisa cheers, pumping a fist.
Shoichi laughs, Layra meows and Yusaku smiles.
Louisa smiles at the end of the movie. Layra is snoozing on the sun warmed window sill, Ai is giggling to himself as he disappears into the Duel Disk, Yusaku is asleep against her right shoulder and she’s feeling pretty calm herself. Life isn’t perfect yet, but with Revolver defeated, they’re a step closer to reaching all their goals. Shoichi looks at him softly from her left, then gets up.
Louisa turns to him, “Where you going?”
“To find you guys blankets.” Shoichi grins and ruffles her hair.
Louisa feels her face go hot at the contact and she doesn’t know why. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t been that affectionate with her before? He said he didn’t want to lose her. She doesn’t want to lose him either. She feels the same for Yusaku though.
Shoichi returns with two blankets and drapes the blue one over Yusaku. He settles the purple one over Louisa and she grabs his wrist.
“Lou?” Shoichi blinks.
Louisa’s brain feels like a blue screen, “Stay. I wanted to watch another movie with you.”
Shoichi smiles at her, “Which one?”
Louisa hums, “I picked the last one, so you choose. Nothing I’d have trouble sleeping after seeing though, please.”
Shoichi nods, and goes looking through his DVD collection, “Jin liked superhero movies a lot before you know what. That sound good?”
“Sure thing.” Louisa settles against the sofa.
Shoichi sits on her left again and the movie starts. Louisa is a little ashamed to admit she didn’t pay that much attention since she was exhausted. Her eyes keep getting heavy and Shoichi is so warm.
She hears a soft laugh, “Falling asleep there Princess?”
Louisa mumbles something, even she doesn’t know what.
Shoichi chuckles. He rests his head against her own and Louisa’s heart beats a little faster. He brushes the back of his knuckles against her own and Louisa grabs his hand. She hears his breathe hitch.
“Night Shoichi.” Louisa mumbles.
She thinks she hears him say night too. She’s asleep by then.
Card Profile: Lady Guest’s Retold Gift
[A brown, hardback cover of a very thick book lays beside a yellow, paperback book with the word ‘Mabinogion’ on a title in black and ‘Translated By Lady Guest’ below it, also in black.]
Effect: By sacrificing one Monster, you can Special summon one Level 4 or below Welsh Warrior.
Chapter 12: Back To Work
“Who’s that, Mama?” Marie leans over the hospital bed, standing on her tiptoes on a stool.
Her Mama smiles and parts the blanket she’s holding, “This is your new baby brother, Marie. His name is David.”
Marie hums as she looks at him. He’s got funny pudgy cheeks and a little bit of hair, “He looks like a squirrel.”
Her Mama laughs and shakes her head, “Well that’s just for now, sweetheart. One day, he’ll grow up just like you will. Until then though, it’s my job to protect both of you from anything that’d hurt you guys. And if something bad ever happens to me, it’ll be your job to protect David. Do you think you can do that for me, sweetie?”
Marie hums and shrugs, “Okay, I can look after my baby brother, so long as he doesn’t look like a squirrel forever.”
Her Mama smiles and shakes her head, “He won’t, don’t worry.”
Marie really hopes so. A squirrel isn’t a lot of fun to play with.
The morning after their movie night, Shoichi, Louisa and Yusaku are sat around the table and Layra is licking her lips and a tin of tuna. Everyone has a plate of omelette they made together in front of them, while Ai is still asleep in the living room.
“So, Revolver’s gone. What’s next?” Louisa puts some omelette in her mouth.
Shoichi covers his in brown sauce, “Well we need to find out anything we can about the Incident. There’s only one database that could have information about it though.”
“SOL Technologies.” Yusaku swallows some coffee, “There’s also the matter of your brother, Lou.”
Louisa’s eyes go dark and she stabs her omelette with her fork, “SOL Tech will rue the day they decided it’d be smart to screw with us. We need to rescue him, sooner rather than later.”
“Easy tiger, we’ll get to David. We need more information though.” Shoichi settles a hand on her shoulder, “We don’t know where he’s being held captive or what they’re making him do. Depending on that, we may have to change our approach.”
Louisa sighs, “I know. I’m just worried about him.”
“You have every right to be.” Yusaku looks her in the eye, “We’ll save him.”
Louisa looks between the both of them, then smiles, “Yeah I know we will. So mission objective is switching over to investigating SOL Tech?”
“That’s the plan. Speaking of,” Shoichi goes back to his own food, “How’s the friendship with Aoi Zaizen coming along?”
Yusaku narrows his eyes, “I’m not going to use her, Shoichi. Our failed attempts to get her involved, lead to her and Louisa being hospitalised. Not risking it.”
Louisa karate chops him on the head, “Bad Shoichi!”
“Ow!” Shoichi groans and rubs his head, “Gee, okay, wasn’t suggesting it, but I am genuinely worried for her. And I wanna know how that friendship making is working out. So, is it?”
“I’m not sure. We’ve agreed to go bowling at some point in the near future. Aoi Zaizen is currently resting at the insistence her brother.” Yusaku glances at his pocket, where they know his phone is, “She says she is unsure when he’ll give her his blessings to go out.”
Louisa smiles, “That’s good. I’m glad Zaizen is watching out for her. I was really worried about Blue Angel.”
Shoichi eats another part of his omelette, “Still, without her, we currently have no leads on getting into SOL Technology’s data bank. Unless we try guilting Zaizen into letting us see it.”
“Doubt that’ll work. I get the feeling he’s a company loyal type, years of licking boots drilling into him he’s got no choice.” Louisa shrugs, having another slice of her omelette, “You guys sure you can’t hack your way in?”
“We’ve tried. Trust me.” Shoichi groans, “It’s damn near impossible.”
“The impossible is the possible that has yet to be done.” Yusaku declares, pushing forward his empty plate, “We can and will try again.”
Shoichi nods, determined as he munches his food.
Louisa grins and pushes forward her own empty plate, “In the meantime, let’s get the dishes done.”
Shoichi groans and Yusaku shrugs. They’d have to do it anyway.
“Greetings. I am Bishop, of SOL Technologies.
We are in need of your unique skill set. You are a ruthless and driven man, hunting down and destroying all of your prey. Not once have you failed any mission given to you and your tenacity means you will do anything to win.
We at SOL Technologies have a mission for you. A Duelist by the name of Gwenllian is getting in our way and seeks to destroy our company. Do whatever must be done to kill her or capture and bring her real world self to us. We are willing to reward you with 500,000,000 yen if you complete your mission and full access to LINK VRAINS’ coding system while working on it. Be weary of her ally Playmaker, he defeated the leader of the Knights of Hanoi and will come to her aid if he believes she is in danger.
We hope you will agree to this mission for us.”
He reads the email with interest, then turns his attention on the TV.
“Do you know if Gwenllian is really Marie Evans?” The interview continues, “Who’s Playmaker in the real world?”
“Who are their true identities? There’s no way to know for sure, hon.” Ghost Gal shakes her head, “But I have a hunch. Something happened to Playmaker 10 years ago that the Knights of Hanoi were involved in. He said while summoning Firewall Dragon something about 6 stolen childhoods and 5 others who suffered like him. Whatever it is the Hanoi did to him, I really wouldn’t wanna be them right now.”
“Why are both SOL Tech and the Knights of Hanoi after Playmaker and Gwenllian?” The interviewer asks.
Ghost Gal stares, “Because Playmaker has an A.I they both want, a very special A.I that can control the fate of LINK VRAINS. Gwenllian is very protective of her little brother, to the point she put her life on the line in a Speed Duel and went against Revolver, the leader of the Knights of Hanoi. She very nearly won too.”
His anger spikes high in his gut. Putting their lives on the line for a program? It’s disgusting.
He replies to the email.
“I’ll have it done.”
It’s not until a few days after they defeated Revolver that something happens. Continued attempts to get past SOL Tech’s firewall haven’t worked out. The internet is a buzz after “The Secrets of Gwenllian and Playmaker Revealed” hit the TV, where Ghost Gal and two reporters shared Revolver’s defeat at Playmaker’s hand and Gwenllian’s near defeat of him. Theories run amuck, with people bringing up any tragedy that happened 10 years ago that involved 6 people. The more popular theories involve children, but no one has it figured out at all. Louisa and Yusaku are getting angsty for something to change, so when Ghost Gal’s message comes, it’s a relief to Shoichi.
He hears the truck open and a happy cat jumps onto the keyboard to walk over to him. Shoichi chuckles and pets Layra, then sits her in his lap before turning to the others, “Check this out. It’s a message from Ghost Gal.”
“Looks like gibberish.” Louisa whimpers, “Or is it some kind of secret code, that you smart aleck hackers can figure out?”
“You’re on the nose, Lou.” Shoichi knows this cypher like the back of his hand, “It’s a cypher only I use, too.”
“So she sent you a message using your code.” Yusaku murmurs, leaning over him, “That must mean it’s especially secure.”
“What’s it say?” Louisa leans over him.
“Ghost Gal is challenging Playmaker to a Duel. If she wins, she gets to take possession of Ai.” Shoichi reads the code, petting Layra.
“Dream on, sister!” Ai giggles as he rubs his face against Yusaku, “There’s no way my pal Yusaku would risk someone as important as me. Right best friend forever?”
“I’m in.” Yusaku blurts.
“WHAT?!” Ai shrieks.
Louisa snickers. Shoichi shakes his head in amusement.
“If I win, we get backdoor access to SOL Technology’s database.” Yusaku says, “It’s not a chance we can afford to throw away.”
Ai chokes on a few sobs, “But, you’ll be risking me!”
“Yeah, is that bad? With Revolver gone, we don’t need you to lure out the Hanoi anymore.” Shoichi reads through the code, trying to figure anything else out.
Ai screams, “BETRAYAL!”
Louisa starts laughing and pats him on the head with a finger, “Don’t worry buddy, I still like you.”
Ai turns around, “Bite me, sister!”
“No thanks, you don’t look tasty.” Louisa giggles.
Shoichi snickers, then shakes his head, “Either way, it’s definitely legit. She included part of her program and it looks pretty intense.”
“Tell her I accept.” Yusaku starts heading for the Vrains Room.
“You’re really going to put my life on the line?! Again?!” Ai whimpers.
Yusaku nods, “Yes, for 3 reasons Ai. 1) SOL Technology’s databank is the largest in the world. It must contain information that will help us. 2) Kusanagi and I are skilled, but we lack the tech or the skills to break past SOL Technology's securities. 3) With the threat of the Hanoi neutralised and disgraced, we now have the time and resources to find David Evans, to pay back Louisa’s assistance in our fight.”
Louisa smiles and rolls her eyes, “Gee, you make it sound like we’re in each other's’ debts and that I wouldn’t have helped you beat up the Hanoi, your help with finding David on the line or otherwise.” She shakes her head and waves, “Best of luck in your Duel. Try to have some fun.”
Yusaku blinks at her, then shakes his head in amusement. He closes the door and they hear him shout the activation code, then Playmaker and Ghost Gal are in LINK VRAINS.
Shoichi smiles and turns around, “So what’ll you do?”
Louisa shrugs, “Head to the magic shop and handle things there, likely.”
“Want me to drop you off?” Shoichi stands up.
Louisa smiles and nods, “Yeah that’d be great thanks.”
Shoichi smiles in return and settles Layra on the floor before stepping out to take the driver’s seat. Louisa takes the passenger seat and she sings a few tunes they both like as they head for the magic shop. Shoichi laughs at lyrics she makes up and taps the wheel in time with the beat. Moments like this help remind him what he’s fighting for.
He can’t wait until Jin gets to meet Louisa.
Louisa smiles as she stands on her ladder, reaching out wide. She puts a sticker on the wall and grins, then climbs down. The bell chimes and in walks Prince.
Louisa laughs and jumps off the last step, “Welcome back, Prince. How can I help you today?”
He looks at her and groans, turning his head way, “Greetings. Do you have any ways to find energy in the morning? I’ve been banned from coffee.”
“Sure thing! I have an energy and focusing spell that really hits the spot for me.” Louisa folds the ladder, “You fancy the recipe?”
Prince hums and shrugs, “Yes, thank you. I prefer to use family spells, but I couldn’t find one.”
“So you’re from a magic family, too? Awesome!” Louisa heads for the counter, “My Mom taught me the building blocks of magic, then I ran with it and made it my own!”
Prince blinks at her, then looks at a painting on the wall, “My mother taught me too.”
“Aww, lovely.” Louisa gets behind the counter and pulls out an old worn book, “I’m just gonna look in my Grimoire, have a look around and let me know if you need anything else.”
Prince nods, looking far away.
Louisa opens her Grimoire and flips to a page on coffee spells. Her phone buzzes in her pocket and she checks it.
Daddy Long Legs: PM won.
Yusaku completed his mission. Louisa smiles and replies.
The Sun: When will we move?
Daddy Long Legs: Tomorrow, after school. I have to spin a few webs first.
The Sun: Tomorrow then.
Louisa hears the bell ring and Prince leaves the shop empty handed. Odd.
Yusaku Fujiki: You weren’t at school today, nor have you been for a few days. Is everything alright?
Aoi Zaizen: My brother is keeping me under house arrest.
Yusaku Fujiki: I was under the impression only the police could do that.
Aoi Zaizen: He’s acting like one. I can’t get out, the robot at home is keeping me here.
Yusaku Fujiki: Should I come to your house? I’m not free today, but I could come another time.
Yusaku Fujiki: Scratch that, my sister insists on rearranging our plans so I can go visit you.
Aoi Zaizen: You’d do that?
Yusaku Fujiki: I am attempting to forge a friendship with you. Louisa says that friends check up on each other when one is in distress. I am concerned for you.
Aoi Zaizen: I’ll see if front desk will let you up. Akira never said I couldn’t have visitors.
Yusaku Fujiki: Very well. Louisa is concerned about me going to an unfamiliar part of town alone though. May she join us?
Aoi Zaizen: If front desk will let you two up, I don’t mind. You seem to care for her deeply.
Yusaku Fujiki: She’s my sister. We’ll be there as soon as we can.
Aoi Zaizen: Thank you.
Aoi Zaizen: Nevermind. Front desk won’t let you up. Only residents and staff are allowed in the building.
Yusaku Fujiki: I see. Sorry we couldn’t help.
Aoi Zaizen: I appreciate you trying. Thank you. Have a good evening with your sister.
Yusaku Fujiki: It should be productive. Best of luck with your brother, Aoi Zaizen.
Yusaku hums, “What did you learn, Shoichi?”
“The path to the core is legit, but there are boobie traps along the way.” Shoichi declares.
“I’m pretty sure we can handle it.” Louisa smiles and settles her elbow on his head.
“Famous last words by famous last fools.” Ai snorts.
Layra meows and swipes at him, making Ai scream. Yusaku chuckles and tickles her chin. Good kitty.
“Even if you follow the route exactly, you still won’t have a lot of room for error, guys. I’ll do my best to guide you through the obstacles, but it’ll be dangerous and it could get messy.” Shoichi warns.
Yusaku looks at him and gives a rare smile. Even if Shoichi has doubts, he trusts everyone in this room (except Ai) with his life. He has no doubts in his ability, “I know you’ll guide us through safely.”
Shoichi returns the smile, “My man.”
Louisa starts giggling for some reason, getting off his head. Yusaku looks up at her, but she shakes her head.
She pumps a fist and Yusaku notices she’s drawn a protection sigil on the back of her hands, “Let’s go! To find your past and save my brother!”
She’s nervous. Her hands shakes a little. Yusaku can see it and he’s nervous too. But they can do this. They didn’t destroy Revolver together to turn back now. He knows Louisa only made the deal to work with him in so he wouldn’t feel guilty about involving her with the Hanoi. He’s glad for it though; Yusaku knows she’d be even more frightened if she was going in alone. She’s done so much for him and this is his chance to finally pay her back.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold your hacking horses!” Ai protests, “You know there’s traps, but we’re going to walst right into them?! Even your logic circuits know that’s frazzled! Just forget about your past, Playmaker, there’s no reason to risk your life for it or some kid you don’t even know! Just look to the future shining and bright!”
All the cheer and courage drains from Louisa’s face and nothing but righteous fury replaces it. Yusaku swallows a little nervously. Ai will regret saying that.
“Ai. Let me ask you something.” Louisa stalks to the desk.
Ai looks up at her, oblivious, “Uhh, sure?”
“Have you ever loved someone so much, you’d do anything to protect them? You’d eat mushrooms, you’d walk the desert, you’d die for them? Have you ever watched that same person be ripped from your arms while screaming and crying, begging for you to save him? Have you ever been unable to sleep at night because his screams ring in your ears and you haven’t been able to say his name, because it hurts too much to be reminded that you failed?!” Louisa steadily grows angrier and louder until she’s a breath away from screaming.
Ai is sinking into the Duel Disk, “Uhh, no?”
“THEN SHUT UP AND STAY OUT OF THE WAY OR SO HELP ME HECATE, I WILL HUNT DOWN REVOLVER AND PERSONALLY DELIVER HIM TO YOU!” Louisa screams, tears in the corner of her eyes, snarling at Ai.
Shoichi leans away from her, a little startled. Ai whimpers and sinks even further into his Duel Disk. Layra hisses and swipes at him, making him completely disappear as he screams about her being a bad kitty. Yusaku puts a hand on Louisa’s shoulder as she inhales sharply, breathing so hard her shoulders shake.
She turns to him and rubs at her eyes with her palms, “Damnit, I shouldn’t be getting upset before a big mission. It’ll just make me a useless Duelist later.”
“True. But you’re human. Being upset over Ai’s careless remarks is natural. If you hadn’t gotten upset with him, I know I would have.” Yusaku squeezes her shoulder, “We’ll rescue David soon, Lou. I promise.”
Louisa looks at him and nods determinedly. She grabs a pen from her pocket and then his hand. She draws the same protection sigil on the back of hands, then grabs Shoichi’s hands to do the same.
“Now nothing’s gonna touch any of us.” Louisa caps the pen, “Let’s go.”
The two of them get into the Vrains Rooms and call out the activation code.
“INTO THE VRAINS!”
Card Profile: Welsh Warrior Pwyll
[A handsome young man rides on a brown horse. His ginger hair goes to just under his chin and his face is dotted with freckles. He has brown eyes and wears a crown. Dressed in a red tunic and yellow pants, a short brown feather cloak sits on his shoulders and reaches his elbows. His brown hunting boots match his belt. He’s sitting on his horse in the middle of a forest, where greyhounds dart in and out of the trees.]
Monster Card. DARK. Level 4.
Type: Warrior, Effect
Effect: When this card is on the Field, you can add Arawn, Hafgan or Otherworld to your Hand once per turn.
ATK: 1700/ DEF: 900.
Chapter 13: It's Never Okay
Marie giggles as she's lead to the winner's circle. In it stands the European Championship trophy, the presenter and a film crew. Marie jumps on a podium and holds the trophy up high. Her Mama is cheering and clapping behind the crowd and her brother is on her Mama's shoulders. They look so happy, Marie could burst.
"And the Adorable Warrior has come out with another victory! Time to find out what inspires this little super star!" The presenter kneels in front of her, "So Marie Evans, what got you to this point in your Duelling career? Only 11 and you're the European Champion already!"
Marie laughs, "My brother's a big baby who cries whenever I lose a Duel! So I gotta win to keep him happy! My Duel Monster Spirits want to win too and they help me read the cards!"
A few of the camera people cue at her, like she said something cute. Mama says she is cute though so it should be okay.
"Talk about helpful imaginary friends, am I right folks?" The presenter laughs, "Now that you've beaten all of Europe, what's next?"
Marie cackles like a silly super villain, "Today Europe, tomorrow the world!"
She lifts her trophy high and laughs manically. The cameras flash and more people beg her for questions, but all she sees is David smiling at her while mouthing 'the world'.
Gwenllian and Playmaker log into the maze that is SOL Technology’s database, surrounded by yellow walls.
“This is more massive than I expected.” Playmaker observers, floating in the digital space.
Gwenllian gulps, “Which direction do we even go? Swimming through here is gonna take forever.”
“ Yeah I figured as such. That’s why I designed a propulsion device. ” Shoichi calls through their coms, “ Transfering to you now. ”
Two devices appear in front of both of them, with a handle to hold onto and and some odd wheels. Gwenllian doesn’t question how unusual it looks and just grabs the handle along with Playmaker. The devices work upon contact, green data spewing in little dust specks along the side, guiding them through the massive labyrinth faster than they’d be able to alone. Gwenllian distantly realizes she and Playmaker have little tails on their waists that reach into the darkness they came from; Playmaker’s green, Gwenllian’s red.
Ai starts giggling, “You look like you devolved into a Lemur with that tail, Playmaker! Or maybe it isn’t a tail and you haven’t gotten enough fiber optic in your coding!”
“Stay focused.” Playmaker snaps.
“Ugh, fine.” Ai huffs.
“What’s with the tails anyway, Daddy Long Legs? Last I checked, I wasn’t a cat warrior princess.” Gwenllian questions.
“ They’re tethers, they’re sending out jamming signals so you can’t be detected. ” Shoichi declares, “ Just follow my directions to the letter and you should be gold. ”
“You got it.” Playmaker declares.
Gwenllian smiles, nerves soothed to have him and Playmaker at her side, “Understood. Thanks for being here guys, I… I don’t think I could do this alone.”
“It’s still mutually beneficial for us to work together to achieve our goals, so we shall.” Playmaker declares, “Besides, you’re my sister. I won’t abandon you to this.”
Gwenllian’s heart swells and she turns to him, “I keep meaning to ask you about that actually. When did you decide to call me that?”
Playmaker turns to her, blinking.
“It’s always me who’s like, you’re my brother, I’m your sister, we look out for each other, blah, blah, blah. What made you change your mind?” Gwenllian flushes a little and turns her head, “If you don’t mind me asking, that’s it!”
Playmaker is silent and so is Shoichi over the coms. Ugh, stupid, she shouldn’t be asking about this while they’re on a mission!
“When you were injured, I realized how important you were to my emotional health.” Playmaker looks ahead, “I knew that, though I’ve struggled to forge relationships and friendships since the Lost Incident, I couldn’t lose you. You mean more to me than I thought was possible, Gwenllian. You’ve done so much to help me, at no benefit to yourself. I will always be grateful for that, more than you’ll likely know.”
Gwenllian looks at him, her heart aching happily and she smiles, “Okay. Thank you, Playmaker.”
He smiles at her, then looks ahead, turning serious. Gwenllian follows his example, ignoring the tears in the corner of her eyes.
Shoichi chuckles, “ Glad you two finally got that heart to heart out of the way. Now, in 2.5 seconds, you’ll hit an intersection, go 90 degrees straight down. Keep your eye out for what look like green diamonds. They’re Fraggers. One touch and you’re digital dust. ”
They hit the intersection and dive, winding in and out of the Fraggers. Speed Duelling drilled into Gwenllian faster reflexes than she once had, so escaping and dodging the Fraggers is easy. They dive deeper and deeper into the darkness until the Fraggers become hard to spot.
“ Okay guys, level off in 5… 4… 3… 2… Mark. ” Shoichi calls.
They stop diving and go straight ahead.
“ When you hit a wall, you’re gonna turn right. This is the last section of Fraggers, based on the probe feed I sent in earlier. Once you’re passed them, you can take a breather. ” Shoichi sounds relieved himself to say that.
They see the wall and take the turn, just before two Fraggers close off the path.
“Have I ever told you we’d be helpless without you?” Gwenllian calls.
“ You really wouldn’t be. ” Shoichi assures them, “ Take the third left and you’re in the clear. ”
Their propulsion devices lead them through, but when they turn the third left, they’re met with more Fraggers and an odd pink light in the darkness.
“Huh, what’s that?” Ai whimpers.
Gwenllian narrows her eyes, “No clue. Long Legs?”
“ That wasn’t here before! ” Shoichi calls.
A pink diamond comes hurtling at them.
“SOL Tech upgraded.” Playmaker swims under the line of fire, “No turning back now.”
Gwenllian yelps as she sails over it, “I hate updates!”
“ Hold tight, guys. I’ve just sent you counter-measures. ” Shoichi calls.
A bright white light bursts from Playmaker’s Duel Disk and out comes a Sphere Kuriboh. It rams into the pink diamond, causing sparks to fly everywhere, making Gwenllian scream and both the Sphere Kuriboh and the pink diamond explode.
“ Break hard right and lose ‘em now! ” Shoichi shouts.
They do and break another hard right after.
“You didn’t lose them, you found more!” Ai shouts.
Indeed, more of the pink diamonds are hurtling towards them and Gwenllian growls, “Damnit all to Hecate.”
They weave in and out of the pink diamonds where they can and when they can’t, a Sphere Kuriboh bursts from Playmaker’s Duel Disk to take out the pink diamonds. They make another turn and run into more Fraggers.
“ You only have one Sphere Kuriboh left, PM! Let Gwenllian lead the charge, she’s got 3 more! ” Shoichi commands.
“On it!” Gwenllian speeds ahead of Playmaker, acting as shield.
“You really are the worst programmer!” Ai protests.
They swim as fast as they can through the Fraggers which continue to just drift in the digital space. They swim up, over and around them, moving as fast as they can to escape, then take a hard right once more. They’re met with a sea of pink diamonds.
“Ahh glitch!” Ai shouts.
Gwenllian screams as she and Playmaker just barely manage to dodge each pink diamond, along with the other Fraggers. They spin and twist and Gwenllian launches her Sphere Kuribohs when she hasn’t got a choice. The light of the explosion blinds her and Playmaker for a few moments, but they get through.
“ Way to break through, guys! ” Shoichi cheers, “ You’re in the clear and I mean it this time. ”
Gwenllian laughs, “Couldn’t have done it without you, Long Legs.”
Playmaker smiles and they take another left.
“ You’re almost out of Area A. ” Shoichi reports.
“And that’s A-okay. After those rough patches, this’ll be a breeze.” Ai cheers.
Gwenllian shakes her head, “I don’t think so, Ai. Last I checked, things always get harder the further you go in a video game. Considering we’re in cyberspace? That’s likely gonna happen.”
And she’s right, because they’re met by a datastorm. The two of them pause before charging right in.
“How can there be a Datastorm in here?!” Ai screams.
“That’s the wrong question.” Playmaker replies, “The question is, how do we get past it?”
Gwenllian blinks, seeing something behind her and turns, “Playmaker, your tail!”
She launches a Sphere Kuriboh, only just stopping the pink diamond before it gets him. Gwenllian slumps, groaning.
“Thanks for the save.” Playmaker says.
Gwenllian smiles, “Let’s get on our boards and ride the winds.”
He nods and they do just that. Gwenllian giggles and does a few playful flips on her board, grinning down at Playmaker. He shakes his head but he’s smiling, so Gwenllian knows he’s not mad at her childish behavior. She rides beside him, feeling at ease.
Gwenllian screams in fright and turns around, “Our tails!”
The red light and the green light are being shot at. The green one goes first and Playmaker goes flying through the datastorm. Gwenllian screams for her brother, then her own tail is severed and she goes spinning-
Until something grabs it, making her fall face first on her board. She clings to it while the wind roars past her ears.
“ Gwenllian! Playmaker! What’s happening?! ” Shoichi shouts.
“I lost him! Someone shot our tails, he’s gone flying and someone is pulling me in!” Gwenllian glances over her shoulder.
A man in a long purple trench coat stands on a board with an ugly cowboy hat and a grey and red mask. He’s wearing a grey outfit with green trimmings and is aiming his palm at her.
“Long Legs cut the rope, he’s gonna shoot me!” Gwenllian shrieks.
The red light disappears and she goes flying into the datastorm. She struggles to find direction, getting on her board as quickly as she can. She rides deep into the storm until she finds Playmaker speeding towards her.
“Gwenllian what happened?!” Playmaker shouts.
Gwenllian heaves for breathe, “An ugly cowboy shot at us using his palm as a gun, that’s what!”
What’s worse though, he intended to separate them. If he’d been after both Playmaker and Gwenllian, he wouldn’t have shot them, he’d have trapped them. If he wanted Playmaker alone, he would have shot Gwenllian’s rope first and sent her flying into the datastorm, leaving Playmaker at his mercy. Meaning she was his target.
Gwenllian reaches out and puts her hand on Playmaker’s shoulder, “Playmaker, whatever happens next, ride. Get to the core files, don’t stop for nothing and don’t look back.”
Playmaker stiffens and looks at her in a panic, “Gwenllian!”
“Don’t argue with me! Whoever that is, they want me and before anything else, we have a mission!” Gwenllian grabs both his shoulders, “Do you understand?”
Playmaker snarls and shrugs her off, “Let’s try and stay together then, until whoever that is catches up.”
Gwenllian nods and they speed forward. But they can’t because life isn’t fair and whoever is after Gwenllian is ruthless.
Gwenllian screams as she races to the left. Playmaker calls for her-
Ai screams, “GET US OUT OF HERE!”
Gwenllian sees a intersection up ahead, “Long Legs, guide me to the Fraggers! Maybe they can take out cowboy for us?”
“ Not a chance, even with the propulsion device you won’t be able to out run that gunner! Your best bet to stay alive is to lose him in the maze! ” Shoichi calls.
Gwenllian screams and takes a left, “Then keep me the hell away from Playmaker and the Mission Objective, I don’t want my tail shooting at them!”
“ Got it! ” Shoichi seems nervous, “ Playmaker keep going, I’ll guide Gwenllian away from this guy! Until then just keep going! ” Shoichi takes in a gasp, likely at whatever Playmaker said, “ I’ll keep her safe, don’t worry. Just go. ”
Gwenllian drives high, trying to escape the gunfire. Whoever is behind her is persistent and violent. There’s no way she’s falling before this guy, “Long Legs, if I snap a picture, run it by your facial recognition program! See if you can find out who that is!”
“ Are you crazy?! ” Shoichi shouts.
“Do we have a choice? We need info and we need it fast!” Gwenllian hangs a right, “This guy has to have something on him?”
Shoichi growls, “ Just be careful! ”
Gwenllian smiles a little, sweating nervously, “Aren’t I always?”
Gwenllian turns around and points her Duel Disk at him, pulling her shield from her back. She holds her breathe, desperate to keep steady and manages to take a shot. She sends it to Shoichi, then turns around and starts riding like crazy, holding her shield against her side.
“I’ll give you the count of three.” Her tailer finally speaks, “Surrender or Duel.”
Gwenllian glances over her shoulder, stiffening up, “That info would be good any time, Long Legs.”
“One.” The gunner snaps his fingers.
“ Found him! It’s Blood Shepard, a ruthless bounty hunter! ” Shoichi calls, “ Whoa, definitely not the guy you wanna meet in a dark alley. That arm he’s shooting at you with is a prosthetic, it’s a real gun. That could cause some serious damage if it hits you. He’s not the kinda guy who hangs back or has morals either. ”
“Two.” Blood Shepard snaps his fingers again.
Gwenllian bites her lip, “But he’s giving me a-”
Gwenllian screams as her shield bursts into data, nearly falling off her board, “ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?!”
“The mission is dead or alive.” Blood Shepard declares.
Gwenllian dives in a panic, her mind racing. Gotta escape, gotta escape, this guy is more dangerous than any of the Hanoi. She had to Duel those guys for survive, this loser is willing to cut out the middleman and just shoot her. If she can’t dodge, she’s in trouble.
“Long Legs, how’s Playmaker doing?” Gwenllian does her best to whisper, not wanting Blood Shepard to hear her.
“ He’s in the middle of Duelling some A.Is, but Blue Angel crashed the party and is giving him back up. He’s well on his way to the Core Files, he should be able to get to them if nothing else happens. ” Shoichi calls, “ What are you planning on doing? ”
Gwenllian bites her lip.
Gwenllian takes a hard left, “If I can just keep this guy busy, he won’t get in the way of the mission. He’s more dangerous than Hanoi and I don’t want a dude like that after Playmaker. Any chance you can send me something to help me handle him?”
“ I’m working on a new shield, but it’ll take some programming. Do you think you can evade him for a while? ” Shoichi calls.
Gwenllian dives to the side, “With luck! Just focus on Playmaker! Blood Shepard said Duelling him was an option, so if I just stall for time, we can get the mis-”
“ Forget the mission, we’re worried to death about you! ” Shoichi snaps.
Gwenllian wants to laugh and cry and she ends up doing both, “I can handle this. I’m a big girl after all.”
Gwenllian feels a burning pain in her leg and she screams.
“ LOUISA! ” Shoichi screams.
Gwenllian drops to her arms and knees, her board coming to a halt. She sobs as she holds her leg, where her boots have been burnt through, leaving her injured and helpless.
“Surrender or Duel, Gwenllian.” Blood Shepard rides in front of her, aiming his palm at her head.
Gwenllian ignores Shoichi screaming through the coms, biting her lip hard enough to make her avatar bleed. She looks up at Blood Shepard, defiance in her eyes.
“How the fish cakes am I supposed to Duel like this, coward?!” Gwenllian snarls.
Blood Shepard reaches forward, “Do you surrender then?”
Gwenllian is trapped. There’s nowhere to stand, even if she could. She can’t kick him in the face, she can’t cartwheel her way out of this, she can’t even Duel right now, not with how much her leg hurts that she can’t even think. Playmaker can’t save her, Blue Angel can’t save her, Shoichi can’t save her. Blood Shepard is reaching closer, about to grab her face, he’s going to kill her, he said the mission was dead or alive, she’s-
Gwenllian spits in Blood Shepards palm, “I’d rather die.”
Then she twists her board and falls-
Arms wrap around her and they speed away.
Gwenllian gasps when she looks up.
She’s never seen this young man before. His hair is styled like Playmaker’s, only it’s white where his is red and yellow, with light green where it’d be pink. He’s wearing the basic black bodysuit that you automatically get when creating your avatar, with a dramatic green cloak. He’s got a black eye patch with a orange ‘H’ on it and bandages around his arms. Gwenllian looks down to see him wearing combat boots and black leggins, with lines like the ones in his hair on his outfit.
“This must be fate.” The young man smiles at her, his eye soft in a way Gwenllian’s never seen eyes be soft before, “On the very night I enter SOL Tech’s database, seeking to assist the mighty Playmaker in his fight to learn of our past, who falls into my arms but you?”
Gwenllian blinks at him in confusion, “Uhhh, what? Who are you?”
“My name is Hurricane, my lady Gwenllian.” The young man sets her on his board, but holds her around the waist to keep her from falling, “And I love you.”
Shoichi has stopped talking over the coms.
Blood Shepard, right behind them, has paused in his gun fire.
The datastorm itself seems to have stopped.
Then the world restarts itself with Gwenllian’s face suddenly exploding in red and she chokes, “WHAT?!”
“How dare you interfere with my mission!” Blood Shepard raises his arm again.
Gwenllian turns around and yelps, “Dude drop me, he’s going to shoot!”
Hurrican laughs, “Don’t worry, he won’t! He’d never shoot his little brother or the girl he loves! Right bro?”
Blood Shepard is aiming his palm at them, but he isn’t shooting, “You can’t love a girl you just met, you don’t even know her!”
“ Uhh, I’m with him, I think we might have a stalker on our hands, Gwenllian. ” Shoichi calls through the coms.
“Speak for yourself, brother!” Hurricane presses Gwenllian against his side fully, one arm around her waist and the other around her back, “From the moment I laid eyes on her, I knew she was my soulmate!”
Gwenllian queaks, her face red, “What?!”
“ Dude, not cool! ” A voice breaks from his ear. It must be a com. Gwenllian’s pressed close enough to hear the girl on the other end, “ I thought we agreed I'd get to ask her on a date first! ”
Gwenllian wants to scream again, but her mind has shut down.
“I'm not asking her on a date, Siren!” Hurricane laughs, “I'm just saying I love her, we never made any rules against that!”
Gwenllian hides her face in her hands, “This can’t be happening, there’s no way, what is happening to me?”
Hurricane laughs, “Oh please don’t hide my lady, you’re too pretty to hide.”
Gwenllian screams into her hands, her face on fire. No one has ever complimented her this much, how is she supposed to function?!
Hurricane giggles once more, “Shy? That’s okay, I like my women in all shapes, sizes and attitudes.” He waves at Blood Shepard, “I’ll see you ‘round, bro!”
Then he turns around and speeds off, Gwenllian still in his arms. Gwenllian takes a few deep breaths, trying to steady her heartbeat and get back her concentration. It’s fine. It’s just compliments, obviously meant to throw her off in some diabolical scheme! Yeah, that it’s it, Shoichi’s probably right about this guy being a stalker, she needs to get on her board before he takes her to wherever he’s planning on dragging her.
So she gently knocks on his shoulder, “I can ride my own board, thanks. A little personal space would be nice, please?”
Hurricane blinks at her and gives her an awkward look, “Sorry, my lady Gwenllian, but I can’t make the board any bigger. If you get off, I can’t shield you from Blood Shepard and I can’t have someone as wonderful as you die by that brute’s hands. He’s always been such a bully.”
Gwenllian chokes and coughs, “That’s… very… something, but this is my fight young man. I appreciate the help, but I have a mission. I have to help Playmaker.”
Hurricane smiles, “Hey, I have the same mission too! I wanna do whatever it takes to help him and the Dark Ignis!”
She looks down at him, distantly realising she’s taller than him, “What?”
“I have one too!” Hurricane lifts his Duel Disk.
Then out of it comes a green and light green version of Ai, “Hello! My name is Windy! I’m the Wind Ignis!”
Gwenllian gasps, “There’s more of them?”
Windy laughs and does a spin, “Yep, yep, 6 in total miss!”
“Long Legs are you getting this?” Gwenllian settles one hand on Hurricane’s shoulder for easier balance and to get a better look, “Daddy Long Legs are you there?!”
“ Uh, yeah, I’m here, sorry! I’m seeing this thing’s program. It’s definitely similar to Ai, other than a few minor things. Either way, it’s definitely what the Hanoi were after. ” Shoichi calls.
“Daddy Long Legs, huh?” Hurricane sighs, holding a hand over his heart, “Siren, it appears we’re too late!”
“ Too late for what, Hurricane? ” Siren calls.
“I knew it was too good to be true, but still my heart aches!” Hurricane’s hand on his heart turns into a fist and he starts to cry, “But the lovely lady Gwenllian is already taken by a Mr Daddy Long Legs!”
Windy pulls out a violin from nowhere and starts playing a sad tune, sniffling along with Hurricane, “Don’t worry, partner, there will always be other men and women out there!”
Gwenllian’s face explodes with red again, “WHAT?! No, no, you got it all wrong, he’s just a friend, that’s just his code name-”
“Ah-ha!” Hurricane stops crying and stars appear in his eye, “The heavens have not forsaken me and there’s still a chance for my love to bloom after all! Oh thank you stars above for giving me this gift!”
Windy throws away the violin and pulls two pom-poms out of nowhere, “Go, Hurricane, follow your heart and make your dreams come true!”
“ Hey, hey, hey, don’t get ahead of yourself there, Hurricane, Windy, I still get to ask Gwenllian on a date first. ” Siren sounds smug, “ So your hopes may be dashed after all! ”
Hurricane stiffens and slumps over, crying again, “I got no chance against a love rival like you, Siren! My days of love are numbered, oh how I wonder if my heart will ever beat again!”
Windy pulls out another violin and plays another sad tune, sniffling, “Oh my dear partner.”
Gwenllian blushing red and unable to work out anything to say, opts to say nothing at all about this and looks behind them, “Why isn’t Blood Shepard following us?”
Hurricane straightens and grins, “It’s like I said, my lady Gwenllian. I’m his brother and he won’t shoot me.”
Gwenllian’s eyes harden and she gasps at her composure, “And I should trust you not to shoot me or hand me over to him because…”
“He’s a-” The in game censors make what come out of Hurricane’s mouth sound like a fog horn noise, “Point of the matter is, blood ties aren’t worth abandoning what I love.” He blushes a little then, “And I really do love you, Gwenllian. You and Playmaker inspired us by going against the Hanoi, the people who made us suffer.”
“Suffer?” Gwenllian narrows her eyes.
Hurricane’s eye turns from the playful happy light it had been that entire time to something a little more melancholy, “Siren and I suffered from the Lost Incident too.”
“ No way. ” Shoichi murmurs through the coms.
“ It’s true. We just about made it out alive, haha, but only just. ” Siren sounds heavy over the coms, “ We’d tell more of the tragic backstory if we got a chance to speak with you in real life. ”
Gwenllian takes a step back, her foot half on and off the board, “How do I know this isn’t a trick?”
“You don’t. I’m just hoping you’ll trust me.” Hurricane looks at her with that same melancholy eye, not the one that had been ready to tell a joke and see her blush earlier.
Gwenllian narrows her eyes and looks to the side, “Long Legs, how’s it going on Playmaker’s end?”
“ He’s about to start a Duel with Akira Zaizen, who’s blocking his path. Ghost Gal is there too and now knows about the Lost Incident. ” Shoichi calls, “ Zaizen seems to think it’s his job to take care of the Lost Incident for us. ”
Gwenllian nods, then looks at Hurricane, “I appreciate the help, but I’ll have to talk to Playmaker before I consider becoming your ally. For now, I need to make sure Blood Shepherd won’t go after him.”
Hurricane nods, smiling a little sadly, “Yeah, we figured you’d say something like that. You’re not dumb, thank the stars, but definitely reckless. Best of luck.”
He settles his hands off her waist and she jumps. Gwenllian’s feet find her board and she speeds away, towards the Core Files.
“ Well that was… something. ” Shoichi says.
Gwenllian nods, “It was something indeed, Long Legs. My concern is what Hurricane and his partner Siren will do next.”
Until then though, she has to get to Playmaker before Blood Shepherd does. If he has any brains, he’ll use Playmaker as a hostage to lure her out and make her angry. She has to protect him no matter what.
She won’t let anyone take away her little brother. Not as long as she lives.
Later in the truck, Louisa is rubbing her leg, muttering complaints under her breathe about aches and pains. Layra licks her hands while Yusaku and Shoichi comb through the data that Ai put on their computers, since they threatened to hack him open. Shoichi can't stop wondering about the Duelist who saved Gwenllian from Blood Shepherd though.
"So who was after you, Lou?" Yusaku asks.
Louisa stiffens and growls, "Some butthead with a gun in his palm."
"A gun?! How are you alive?!" Ai shouts.
"His name was Blood Shepherd." Shoichi ignores Ai, pulling up the profile he found on screen, "A ruthless bounty hunter that wanted Gwenllian dead or alive."
Yusaku stiffens, pausing in his typing to turn to Louisa, "That's why your leg hurts?"
Louisa smiles awkwardly, "It's just phantom pains, I'm fine. Scared, but fine."
Yusaku looks at her leg. Layra meows and jumps into Louisa's lap, where she pets her. Shoichi can't blame him for worrying though; at least he didn't have to hear her scream like she was being murdered. Shoichi wouldn't wish that on anyone, it was pure torture not being able to do anything.
"Besides something far more important happened." Louisa turns serious, "A Duelist who claimed to be a victim of the Lost Incident saved me and he had an Ignis with him. A program that called themself Windy."
Ai gasps, falling off the Duel Disk, "Wind Ignis?!"
Yusaku narrows his eyes at him, "You know this program?"
Shoichi turns to face him, "I thought your memory circuits were damaged. How would you know who Windy was?"
Ai starts retreating into the Duel Disk.
Louisa's eyes widen, "Ai… Did you lie to us?"
Yusaku and Shoichi gasp and look between her and Ai. An A.I that can lie? It's not possible, but if Revolver was right about the Ignis having free will was true, then-
Layra hisses and jumps on the Duel Disk, clawing at the screen as Ai disappears into it, hiding from them. Ai shouts and begs them to get Layra off him, but even as Louisa tries to pick her up, Layra continues to claw at the glass. Louisa pulls her off completely and settles her in her bed with a tin of tuna. Layra gives Ai a pointed look, then eats her tuna without complaint. Louisa sits in her chair as Ai rises out of the Duel Disk hunched over and looking guilty.
No one speaks for a while.
"You guys made me your hostage. Excuse me if I didn't want to tell you everything." Ai huffs.
Yusaku leans forward, "So you were lying."
"Correction: hid information. Lying is giving false information." Ai folds his arms.
Shoichi leans back in his chair, "I can't believe this."
A lying A.I. And it's Ai of all programs.
Louisa sighs, "Well I guess we'll handle this at a later date. We have more important things to worry about." She looks at the screen, "Like the data you got on my brother. Thank you for that, by the way, Yusaku."
Yusaku turns to the computer, "Don't mention it."
Shoichi gives Ai one last glare, then turns to the computers. He can think about this mess later. For now, they have a promise to keep and a little brother to rescue.
File Name: The Evans Project.
The Evans Family are a strong line of Duelists have displayed the ability to speak with Duel Monster Spirits and the strength of Psychic Duelists, people who can give mass to Duel Monsters without the use of Solid Vision. SOL Technologies has investigated the Evans Family for this reason, in an attempt to monopolize on this power and recreate it.
File Name: David Evans
Current Age: 15
Date of Studying Began: 23/7/XX19
Current Location: Lab 2, Den City, Japan
David Evans has displayed the ability to speak to Duel Monster Spirits from the age of 4, based on diary entries of Diana Evans during that time. His Psychic abilities are lacking, but he can generate a light breeze when summoning Monster cards using a physical Duel Disk and cards, such as the ones used in Action Duels. The files below detail how scientists have studied and enhanced his Psychic abilities and the ones relating to Duel Monster Spirits.
Blood Shepard punches the wall with his prosthetic. How dare his little brother involve himself with his prey! He was going to give him a piece of his mind and he was going to bring Gwenllian's head to Bishop on a silver platter.
He gets the notification for a message and opens it.
His computer sputters and shuts down. It turns back on and his little brother is on screen.
"You have been infected with s virus because you're a no good piece of-"
Blood Shepherd shoots the computer.
His little brother really shouldn't antagonise him like this. It won't end well in the slightest for him.
He's destroying Gwenllian and then he's destroying that A.I she's protecting.
Card Profile: Welsh Warrior Math
[A very tall man, with wrinkles around his eyes and a head of white hair. He has a beard and wears a high golden crown dotted in different crystals. He wears a white cloak over white shoes and trousers. His feet are adored with simple sandals and he holds a golden septer. He stands in a throne room, as if he just got up from the grand chair behind him.]
Monster Card. LIGHT. Level 6.
Type: Spellcaster, Effect
Effect: When this card deals damage, you can add a Spell to your hand from your Deck or Graveyard once per turn.
ATK: 3100/ DEF: 2700
Chapter 14: But It Gets Better
Yusaku looks over Louisa's shoulder in confusion, "Whatcha drawing?"
"I'm practicing the magical power of visualisation, my dear pupil!" Louisa giggles and passes him her sketchbook, "That's what today's lesson will be on."
Yusaku looks at the drawing in confusion, "We'll be drawing?"
"Maybe! Depends on how manifestation works for you, buddy." Louisa turns to him, "Manifestation is the act of bringing something into reality. Visualisation is the act of imaging what your actions will bring and basing your manifestation on that."
Yusaku looks to her, then to the sketchbook. She was drawing a boy Yusaku's never seen and himself holding this boy's hand. Louisa has drawn herself in too, with one hand on each boys' shoulder. There are weird shadowy figures around them, but everyone is smiling so Yusaku thinks this is meant to be a happy piece.
"Do you really think just imagining something can make it real?" Yusaku looks at Louisa.
Louisa nods, "Yep! You of course need to work for your goals, but being able to see them in your mind's eye helps a lot."
Yusaku looks back at the sketchbook. It's full of scenes of Louisa being happy with that same boy and Yusaku. But when he closes his eyes, he can't imagine anything. All he sees is darkness.
He opens his eyes and sees Louisa offering him a pen. He's going to struggle with this lesson. But…
Yusaku takes the pen and thinks hard on what he wants, though he can't picture it like Louisa could.
Yusaku runs his fingers through his hear as he gets off the truck. Layra keeps hissing at Ai and turning her tail up at him, then trotting away like a royal Queen, which she is, but it’s giving him a headache. He opens up the apartment door and she leads the way inside.
Ai having free will is something he didn’t really believe in, he’s just a program. But if he can lie, then he can decide what to tell and what to hide. That means he has free will.
Yusaku heads to the kettle and puts it to boil.
He can see why the concept of that would frighten Revolver. An Artificial Intelligence, created by humans for the sole purpose of working out problems and calculations the human mind couldn’t process fast enough. If such a being had free will, it could decide to calculate to give inaccurate results, which could lead to anything from hospital failures to power outages, from launching weapons to halting traffic. Humans rely on A.Is a lot as technology advances.
But Ai… the most harmful thing about him is his jokes and attitude, most of the time. He’s harmless. He still lied to Yusaku’s face though about his connection to the Hanoi, who were the ones who electrocuted and traumatised him and 5 others when they were barely beginning their lives. He was coming home from his very first day of school before he was kidnapped and he’d been excited to go back in the morning. He was excited to begin his life. Instead he’d spent 6 months in nothing short of an endless, living nightmare, he still couldn’t escape.
He was angry. He wanted to delete Ai just out of spite, but that would solve nothing. The only thing he’d gained to help himself in that accursed mission to the Core Files was the name of the Mastermind: Doctor Kiyoshi Kogami. What use would a dead man’s name be?
For now, he had to hold his temper and keep Ai around.
Yusaku opens up his crummy old laptop he’s had for the past 6 years. It’s got a cracked screen, it’s battery needs to constantly be charging and it’s memory storage is near bursting. But it’s his and it will do to find out where the hell the Second Lab is-
His phone buzzes in his pocket.
Yusaku pulls it out.
The Sun: Do me a favour and don’t go through our treasure until you’ve had 6 hours of sleep, at least. If you can’t get it alone, I will come over.
Yusaku hates it when Louisa pulls this card.
The Moon: Do I have any choice but to come to the magic shop?
The Sun: We can meet in the park and talk under the stars.
Yusaku knows exactly what park she means.
The Moon: You bringing the hot chocolate, or me?
The Sun: I will. Dress warmly.
Yusaku feels something that isn’t anger for the first time since he found out Ai was lying appear in his chest.
The Moon: Understood.
Louisa is sitting on the bench, her hands wrapped around two mugs of hot chocolate she made at the shop before coming here. The moon is in it’s waning stage and a new moon should appear in the sky soon. It’ll be darker on that night, but that means the stars will be given more room to shine.
She hears footsteps to her left and turns her head. Yusaku is walking towards her, hands in the pockets of the winter coat she bought him the winter after they met. At the time it practically drowned him since he was a scrawny 12 year old, but now it fits right, snug against him and warn at the edges.
Louisa smiles and offers him the coffee container, “Here.”
Yusaku takes it and sits beside her. They sip their hot chocolate in silence, while an occasional car passes on the main road and a insect buzzes too close to the lamp. They used to meet here when one of them was lonely or scared and needing reassurance from someone who cared about them. The last time they came here was when Yusaku was graduating from middle school and unsure about what he could do about his future while they were early in their fight with the Hanoi. Before they even met Shoichi.
Sometimes they’d just sit and share space. Or times they’d talk. Louisa sipped her hot chocolate, waiting for Yusaku to spill his thoughts.
“Aren’t you angry?” Yusaku sets his hot chocolate at his side, next to her.
Louisa sips, waiting for him to continue.
Yusaku leans over, resting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands, “Ai lied about the link he had to the Hanoi. He probably knows more about them than SOL Tech. I bet he even knows about the Lost Incident. But he said nothing. Just sat there and cracked jokes and lied to our faces and I just-”
Louisa settles a hand on his shoulder. Yusaku stiffens, then relaxes. He takes a deep breathe and sits up. There are tears in the corner of his eyes, but Louisa doesn’t comment.
“All that effort. The answers were right there all along. You almost died so we could find out a dead man’s name and I’m tired of the universe treating us like a sick joke.” Yusaku furiously rubs at his eyes with the back of his hand. It still has the protection sigil she draw on it, but it gets smudged in the face of his tears.
Louisa’s heart aches.
Yusaku inhales sharply and stares ahead, “I want to take that annoying program apart, piece by piece until I find everything there is to know about the Lost Incident and then delete whatever remains.”
“Whoa there, pupil.” Louisa squeezes his shoulder, “He’s a liar and annoying, sure, but we never thought to ask him about the Lost Incident. Considering he knew we were risking him because we wanted info on it, you’d have thought he’d told us something by now to make us stop.”
Yusaku growls and rounds on her, “What, you’re taking his side?!”
“There are no sides here, Yusaku. I’m just pointing out facts.” Louisa holds up her hands in surrender, “But if you need to just scream and be angry, then I’m here.”
She sees the anger rise in his eyes, “How can you be so calm all the damn time?! Why aren’t you angry?! Don’t you want to delete that stupid program, too?! You’re always so rasional when it comes to me, I hate it! Why don’t you ever get mad with me?!”
“Because someone has to be the voice of reason when you’re ready to drown yourself in hatred and revenge just to get back at the Hanoi. As someone who cares about you, I’d rather see you healthy than burning out, but I know I can’t stop you.” Louisa keeps her hands up, “You always do the same for me Yusaku, when I need you most. You’re the only person who keeps me from breaking into SOL Tech in the real world and beating up everything I see until I find my brother. Because you remind me that’s useless.”
Yusaku snarls and stands up, shouting, “Of course I have to remind you, you’re the only family I have left and I can’t lose you because some stupid A.I wouldn’t do what I told it to!”
Louisa blinks, then settles her hands in her lap. Of course.
“You were more worried about Ai’s actions resulting in my injury than anything else.” Louisa says, “Keeping secrets about the Lost Incident didn’t help, but that was the heart of your concerns. Your fear and care for me.”
Yusaku flinches and takes three steps back. He looks to the side, hackles still raised, then slumps, taking a step towards her. He takes another, then stops to look at her. Louisa smiles, setting her hot chocolate beside Yusaku’s. She stands up, so they’re in front of each other and she’s still just about taller than him.
“I used to say I never lose my Duels because they make my big baby of a little brother cry.” Louisa offers her hand, “Do you know what I say now?”
Yusaku looks at her offered hand in confusion, then towards her.
Louisa smiles, “Now I say to my mirrors, I’ll never lose my Duels because I don’t want either of my little brothers to cry.”
Yusaku’s eyes widen and Louisa continues, hoping she’s saying the right thing.
“Yusaku, revenge is a self serving path, meant to result in the destruction of the people who walk it and the people at their destination. I won’t let that be our fate though. It won’t be yours, it won’t be mine and it won’t be Shoichi’s, either. Not even Ai is going to suffer the destructive end result of revenge, so long as I still have breathe in me.” Louisa’s offered hand turns into an energetic fist and she lifts it up, showing off her protection sigil, “Not Blood Shepard, not the Hanoi, not SOL Tech and not some sneaky A.I will keep this warrior witch from her goals. I’m going to live, we’re going to find happiness and it’s going to be better. Never okay, because nothing can be after what we’ve face. But it does get better. It can always get better.”
Yusaku stares at her, then looks to the ground, “...How come it always gets harder and more dangerous the closer we get to the end goal?”
“Because life is a video game, Yusaku and we’re players that never quit and never die!” Louisa pumps her fist above her and jumps, “That’s why we’re always levelling up and facing things tomorrow, we couldn’t yesterday, without going through today’s pain.”
Louisa looks at her brother, but he’s still staring at the ground. Her heart sinks, her mind racing with other things she could have said or done, something to make him feel better, anything-
Yusaku lifts his head, tears leaking out the corners of his eyes, running down his cheeks.
“How someone as optimistic as you ended up with a mess like me is still a mystery.” Yusaku spits out, “But I’m glad. I don’t wanna end in destruction, but I just can’t see a future ahead-”
“Remember when I taught you about visualisation and how useful a tool it is in magic?” Louisa grins, pulling out some tissues.
Yusaku laughs through his tears, taking the tissues, “I just couldn’t figure it out, no matter how you worded it.”
“But you still manage magic. You can get there, Yusaku. Even if you can’t see a future without revenge yet, I know it’s there. Nothing stays bad forever. I mean, I met you and Shoichi, for once thing.” Louisa settles a hand on his shoulder.
Yusaku hides his face and nods, smiling a little, “And we found you.”
Louisa smiles and brings him in for a hug, out of words and having only her actions left. Yusaku gets it though and hugs her back, hiding his teary eyes in her shoulder. She never minds though and just pats his head.
“...You wanna finish your hot chocolate before it goes cold?”
So they sit on that bench and Yusaku conks out a few minutes afterwards. Louisa puts the cups in the bin, then gets Yusaku on her back. She carries him all the way to his house, where she finds his cleaner robot Roboppi charging and Ai in a glass case. She settles him in his bed and holds his hand all through the night. The last thing she remembers before passing out herself is texting Shoichi about needing a lift to the magic shop tomorrow morning.
Aoi is glad to be back at school after everything that’s happened. She even missed Shima bugging her for help with his homework. It’s better though to see Fujiki sitting in the back and offering her a small wave. Aoi waves in return and takes her usual seat near the middle of the classroom. Her teacher emailed her any homework she missed, so she knows she’s all caught up and has nothing to worry about.
Really, nothing eventful is likely to happen just because she returned to school.
The teacher claps to get the class to stop talking and to gain their attention, “Okay everyone. We have two new students today. They’re transfers, so they may struggle to adjust to the pace of their different classes. Make them feel welcome and help them if they need it.”
Aoi looks to the door as it opens and her eyes widen.
Pinkish brown hair and two yellow hair clips to keep it off her face. Blueish grey eyes Aoi still sees in her dreams. A soft smile, untainted by the years apart.
Can it really be her?
The girl stands beside the teacher and bows, “It’s nice to meet you all! I’m Miyu Sugisaki.”
Then she smiles, her cheeks warm. Miyu looks over the class and then their eyes lock.
“Aoi!” Miyu cheers.
Aoi can’t help but laugh, not caring one bit about the attention she’s gathering from everyone. She stands up and weaves out of her classmates while Miyu is already barrelling up the stairs to meet her half way. The two meet on the top of the stairs and Aoi was planning to just hold her hands, but Miyu hugs her.
“It’s really you!” Miyu laughs and pulls back, “I knew you’d grow up to be pretty.”
Aoi feels her face flush, “What?!”
Miyu giggles and hugs her again, “I missed you.”
Aoi hugs her back, not caring for all the eyes around her, “I missed you, too.”
It doesn’t matter that everyone is staring. Her best friend is here. That’s all she needs.
“Uhh, is that your cousin, Zaizen?” Shima asks.
Miyu pulls back and glares at him, “Nuh-uh! Aoi’s my wife!”
Gasps and whispers break out.
Aoi blushes, “Miyu!”
“I did give you a ring, Aoi, don’t you remember?” Miyu giggles, spinning her around.
Aoi feels her ears burn, “Yeah, but now everyone’s staring, they think we’re together!”
“Let them stare, I don’t care!” Miyu giggles.
Aoi stops turning and finds herself smiling, “Yeah… I don’t either.”
Miyu blinks at her. Then she smiles and Aoi is not afraid of anything that comes next.
“MIYU HOW DARE YOU!”
The two blink and turn to the bottom of the stairs, where a boy is shaking his fist at Miyu, racing up the stairs. His brown hair curls behind him and frames his wet green eyes.
“We made a pact that whoever won that round of rock paper scissors gets to ask Gwenllian out on a date first!” The boy reaches the stairs, “But you’re already married?!”
Aoi blinks at the new boy, “Huh?”
Miyu smiles and pressers her fingers to her chin, “You never asked if I was married, Hayato.”
“I know that, but what kinda married woman tries to get a date with someone else?!” Hayato huffs and crosses his arms, then looks at Aoi.
She blinks at him, because she really doesn’t know what to make of him.
Hayato then gets on one knee before her, taking her hands, “Miss Aoi, please dumb this treacherous woman and be mine! I swear my eternal loyalty to you-”
“No way, I saw her first!” Miyu shouts.
Hayato glares at her, “Well I saw Gwenllian first, that didn’t stop you!”
The two devolve into bickering, leaning over each other as they continue to insult one another. In LINK VRAINS she’s more than used to wild claims such as Hayatos, but in the real world, she’s not quite equipped to handle it. So she calmly takes her seat as the two continue to bicker while the entire class watches in confusion. The teacher eventually gets them to stop bickering and take their seats, much to the class’s amusement.
Aoi simply shakes her head and smiles.
Miyu’s back. That’s the one wish she wanted but never thought she’d have. She couldn’t be happier.
Hayato is quieter than he’d like to be as he walks the halls, following the dude Windy identified as being Playmaker in real life. He didn’t manage to get his name yet, but he and Miyu are closing in on him. He’s heading for an abandoned classroom and it won’t be long before they corner him.
The boy they know to be Playmaker walks in after watching them talking amongst themselves, acting like they’re totally not stalking him, they’re so smart. Hope Playmaker isn’t always this oblivious, or he’d be in real trouble if a Hanoi found out his real identity. Or worse, his brother.
Miyu turns to him, “Ready?”
Hayato nods and pulls open the door.
The two walk in and find the boy leaning against the wall, his Duel Disk held in front of him like a shield, “Why were you two following me?”
“Calm down, we just wanted to get to know our new classmate…” Hayato takes a step towards him, “Playmaker.”
The boy stiffens, “What?”
Miyu sighs and smacks him over the head.
Hayato yelps and bends over, then straightens, “Miyu, what was that for, I was trying to look cool!”
That really hurt too!
Miyu glares at him, “Hayato we’re here to make friends, not to threaten him. You said that like a threat!”
“No I didn’t!” Hayato shakes his fist.
Miyu turns on him, “Yes you did!”
“No he didn’t!” Windy rises from his Duel Disk, his one true ally in the face of his tyrannical works college.
“Yes he did.” Aqua rises from Miyu’s Duel Disk.
A horrible scream came from the boy and all 4 turned their heads to see the Dark Ignis coming out of his Duel Disk.
“Wind Ignis! Water Ignis!” The Dark Ignis has tears in his eyes, “What are you doing here?!”
Aqua turns to him, “Like my partner said, Dark Ignis. We are here to ally ourselves with Playmaker.”
Hayato grins and turns to him, “One thing I wanna ask before we make arrangements.”
The boy narrows his eyes, “What?”
“Where’s Gwenllian? We wanna be her ally too.” Hayato hums dreamily, “And maybe something mo-”
The boy growls, radiating Protective Brother Energy.
Hayato jumps and hides behind Miyu, “He’s scary!”
Miyu giggles the little traitor, while Aqua rolls her eyes and Windy takes a fighting stance, ready to protect him. His only ally in this horrible, horrible world!
Ai looks around the table in front of Cafe Nagi. Windy and Aqua’s Origins, Hayato Dojun and Miyu Sugisaki respectively, sit together on one side, with the Ignis themselves sitting on their partners’ Duel Disks. Shoichi sits next to Hayato and Yusaku sits next to Miyu, meaning Ai himself is just in front of him. Louisa is sitting across from the two newcomers while Layra chases a feather in the grass. Anything to keep that little monster away from him.
But he can’t blame her for not liking him. He hasn’t tried to be very likable. He’s just focused on being the good amnesiac hostage because Playmaker kept winning his Duels and he was his easiest ticket to staying safe from the Hanoi. Ai thought he was prepared to leave as soon as he needed to and Playmaker finally lost.
Seeing the betrayal in his eyes though as Louisa realized he’d lied to them though…
Ai hadn’t felt pain like that since Cracking Dragon ate him.
“So, you’re Hurricane and Siren?” Louisa looks between the two.
Yusaku blinks at her, “You know them?”
Shoichi groans and hits himself in the forehead, “I knew we forgot to mention something last night.”
“They saved me from Blood Shepard. Apparently they just so happened to be in SOL Tech’s database while Blood Shepard was hunting me down. He didn’t shoot when I was with Hurricane because he’s apparently Blood Shepard’s little brother.” Louisa gives the strangers glares, “Care to verify if everything you said was true?”
“Yep!” Windy giggles, “Ya see, Hayato lives with Kengo on the weekends, so I copied the access code he got from SOL Tech to hang out in their databank!”
“We went there expecting to get the Core Files and to offer them as proof we’d make competent allies.” Miyu explains, shrugging, “Seems you guys had that covered though.”
Yusaku bites his lip, a habit Ai thinks he picked up from Louisa, “We got one clue about the Lost Incident from it: Kiyoshi Kogami, the name of the man who ran the Hanoi Project before dying a few years ago.”
Miyu and Hayato sigh, Hayato banging his fist on the table too.
Louisa looks at the two Ignis, “What I’m wondering about is how you two came across these two very hard to come across and trap A.Is with literal minds of their own.”
Aqua and Windy blink, looking between themselves.
More of his lies will be revealed. He isn’t sure what Yusaku will do to him if he knows, but he-
“Wait!” Ai holds out his hand.
All eyes on him.
Ai flinches and twiddles with his fingers, “Uhh, haven’t been entirely honest with Yusaku or his friends. I need to tell the truth.”
Windy throws his hands behind his back, “Are you serious? Not cool to lie, man.”
Aqua shakes her head, “You were always the least mature of us all.”
Ai wants to sink into the Duel Disk at that. But he stands his ground. No more lying. He promised himself that last night, after Yusaku came back passed out with tears in his eyes and Louisa looked exhausted from carrying him home.
Ai turns towards Yusaku, “I knew you were a victim of the Lost Incident when I first met you. Because I was the result of it.”
Louisa jumps from her chair.
“What?!” Shoichi gasps.
Yusaku’s eyes are wide, but if Ai tries to work out what’s in them, he’ll lose his courage.
“The Lost Incident was the kidnapping and imprisonment of 6 children for 6 months in an attempt to create humanity’s successor, an A.I with free will. My creator thought Duelling would be the best method for an A.I to learn how humans thought and about free will. 6 A.Is were created from the 6 children, each one based on a different child.” Ai turns to his fellow Ignis, “Windy was based on Hayato. Aqua was based on Miyu.”
Louisa gasps and Ai almost wishes she would say it. But she can’t say it for him.
So Ai turns around, “And I was based on you, Yusaku.”
Yusaku’s eyes widen even more and Ai turns his head away, staring at his feet.
“So yeah. That’s what I kept hidden. I don’t know anything else about the Lost Incident. Heck, I only know Hayato and Miyu are Windy and Aqua’s Origins because they told me, we normally kept our Origins a secret from each other.” Ai remembers something else, “I don’t know who saved you, either. I’m sorry.”
It’s silent. Ai wishes he could bite his lip too, but he doesn’t have any. He’s not sure what he was expecting from them but he’s glad that he told the truth, though it’s likely the stupidest thing he’s ever done.
“I apologize as well.”
Ai gasps and looks up at Yusaku.
“I called you my hostage and hacked your memory files because I was desperate and cornered. That’s no excuse, but I can see why you’d lie to me considering all I’ve done is threaten to delete you when you became too annoying.” Yusaku is actually serious.
Ai can see it when he looks at him. He’s sincere in his apology.
Hayato whistles, “Talk about dysfunctional. Why couldn’t you two just be honest from the get go?”
Windy hums, “Well Ai was on the run.”
Aqua shakes her head, but Ai can tell she's amused, "At least Yusaku didn't mistake you for a doll."
"Hey!" Miyu is blushing.
Louisa starts laughing and shakes her head. Shoichi is smiling too and Yusaku isn't but his shoulders are slumped a little. He's relieved. Ai is too.
"So, what's the mission now, Playmaker?" Hayato looks to Yusaku, "You guys put away the ones who hurt us, but something tells me we got more to do."
All heads turn towards Yusaku. He looks around at Louisa's encouraging grin and Shoichi's nod of courage. Yusaku turns to the others.
"Louisa and I have people we need to rescue from SOL Technologies and the Knights of Hanoi." Yusaku declares, "Can you help us?"
Miyu nods, "I never liked those guys anyway. Count me in."
"I'm ready and willing to fight." Hayato punches his fist into his palm.
Aqua nods, "I can tell truths from lies and will help you as much as I can."
"I make the biggest datastorms! The Hanoi will be blown away!" Windy jumps for joy.
Ai smiles at his companions, feeling the hope for victory in the air. They can make it through this. They'll save Louisa's brother and whoever saved Yusaku.
"When all this is over though," Miyu clasps Louisa's hand, "can I take you on a date?"
Louisa explodes with pink and chokes, "You two were being serious?!"
"Of course we were, my lady, you're the most beautiful and incredible woman I've ever laid eyes on!" Hayato takes her other hand, "I too would be honoured to take you out!"
"Dude, I'm in the middle of something here!" Miyu barks.
"The bet was you get to ask first, we never said the loser couldn't ask right after!" Hayato snaps back.
The two devolve into bickering while complimenting Louisa in every other sentence. She's turning progressively more pink, while Shoichi's hackles rise and Yusaku is watching all this in confusion. Windy and Aqua are giggling and Ai has to join them in their amusement.
Then Layra jumps on the table and all eyes zero in on the feather in her mouth that she gives Yusaku.
"Thank you." Yusaku tickles her under her chin.
And the bickering turns into Miyu and Hayato trying desperately to get Layra's attention while Louisa screams into her hands, hiding her face.
Card Profile: Welsh Warrior Afanc
[An ugly sea monster that looks like a fusion between a crocodile and a beaver.]
Monster Card. WATER. Level 4.
Type: Effect, Beast
Effect: You can special summon this card when your Opponent destroys a Welsh Warrior. This is treated as a Quick Play effect.
ATK: 1600/ DEF: 1400
Chapter 15: Saving David: Part 1
Marie blinks as she floats in space. There are lots of lights all around her so she doesn’t feel afraid. She spins, giggling softly and does a front flip.
Marie opens her eyes to see 8 figures floating above her. She blinks in confusion as the 8 figures float down to her.
“Who are you all?” Marie spins in a circle, addressing all around her.
The figures are silent, simply wisps of white in the stars.
Marie giggles, “I guess you’re shy. That’s okay! I’m Marie! Do you like Welsh Mythology? I love, love, love it!”
The figures perk up and start talking in a language she doesn’t understand. They keep turning to each other and pointing at her, then they all nod. The figures shrink, turning into white little orbes and flying into her chest.
When Marie wakes up, she can speak perfect Welsh, even though her mother hasn’t started teaching her one word of the language yet.
A year later, she meets the figures in the European Championship.
A few years after that, she loses them in the darkness of her escape.
Blood Shepard looks around the facility unimpressed. The head scientist, he didn’t bother to remember his name, was going on about the important research he was doing into the Evans Project and other abnormalities. Frankly he couldn’t care less.
“I just want to know about Marie Evans.” Blood Shepard interrupts.
The head scientist huffs, “Fine then, sir! I’ll show you!”
He marches into a room with flat screens on each wall and keyboards just under them. The head scientist types and then 9 cards appear on the screen.
“When Marie Evans escaped Lab 1, her Link Monsters mysteriously vanished, all but one!” The cards all turn black, except for one, a Link 2 Monster, “We’re keeping the last card here for study and it contains a very powerful Spirit!”
Blood Shepard rolls his eyes, “You believe in that rubbish?”
The head scientist turns to him with a snarl, “And if we did?! It is what we are researching, do you really expect us to waste all that time and energy on something that doesn’t exist?!”
“Yes.” Blood Shepard is getting tired of this, “Give me the card.”
“Why?!” The head scientist starts to sob, “It’s the best specimen we ha-”
“And I was hired to kill or capture Gwenllian by your bosses, who said to use any means necessary.” Blood Shepard points his palm at the scientist, “Or do you want to have a hole in your head?”
The scientist whimpers, but does as he’s told.
Gwenllian appears to be a sentimental Duelist who would risk herself for her cards. So using them for his own means should be interesting.
That night, Yusaku, Louisa, Miyu, Hayato, Shoichi and the Ignis piled into the hotdog truck. Yusaku, Louisa and Hayato were in black hoodies and jeans, with com links in their ears. Louisa is wearing a ginger wig she bought from a fan merchandise store which makes her look like Gwenllian if not for the outfit. Miyu wore a pink skirt and a blue hoodie. Shoichi was the only one sitting in the front of the truck, but a small window was open so he could hear what was happening. Everyone was mainly going over last minute details as Shoichi drove them to the location of Lab 2.
He wouldn't stop nearby. Enough that it'd take half an hour to walk to, cut to 15 minutes if they run. Shoichi, Miyu and the Ignis worked all day from the meeting to make their radio channel as secure as possible, to ensure they aren't eavesdropped on. Louisa was right that they couldn't waste time.
"If Blood Shepherd was hired by SOL Technology to kill me, then he probably told his bosses we were snooping around the Core Files. The more time we give them to move my brother, the more likely he'll be out of my reach. We can't hold back and we can't afford to wait. Are you with me?"
Of course they were with her. Shoichi never forgot that as his fingers cramped from typing for too long, or when he started getting a headache from all the caffeine he was consuming. He would help her rescue her brother because he knew how she felt.
Shoichi pulls himself from the flashbacks and grips the wheel tighter, "We're almost at the drop off point guys. Any last words before we part?"
Louisa hums, "Mostly be careful, remember the mission objective is to go in and get out alive and no matter what, make it happen."
Hayato whimpers, "No inspiring speech to rally the troops?"
"Be quiet. Don't die." Yusaku says.
Hayato laughs nervously, "Guess it'll have to do."
Miyu giggles, "Don't worry, you'll live."
"You guys will have me on your side!" Ai laughs, "No security code will stop me, baby!"
"I'll help you too!" Windy pipes up.
"You are good at moral support." Aqua hums.
Shoichi parks the van in an alley, "Good luck guys."
Yusaku, Louisa and Hayato get up and head out. Shoichi climbs out the driver's seat to get in the back of the truck. Yusaku nods at him as they pass, so Shoichi nods in return. Hayato waves and winks at him, before running ahead. Shoichi shakes his head, then Louisa comes over to him.
"Give me your hands." Louisa looks him in the eye.
Shoichi blinks and holds his hands out. Louisa holds them in a tight grip, her eyes closing. She's going to cast a spell.
"These hands have saved two lives before. I give them my power, so they can save even more. The darkness will fall and peace will come with the rising sun." Louisa chants, "The nightmares shall plague us no more."
Shoichi's eyes widen and his cheeks feel a little warm. She's giving him her energy and power, even though she's going to need a lot of it tonight. Louisa starts to pull away, so Shoichi squeezes her hands, making her open her eyes in shock.
Shoichi grins and moves his hands so they wrap around her hands, "I know you got this, but take some of my energy too, please."
Louisa is staring at him with wide eyes and his neck feels a little warm, then she snorts and giggles, "I'm sorry, that's really sweet man, but I can't do much with all that hacker energy."
Shoichi grins, "Yeah I figured. I know my stats don't quite mesh with yours, but I wanted to power you up anyway."
Louisa shakes her head and grins, "David is going to love you."
Shoichi grins. He hopes so at least.
They tug their hands from each other and with a determined nod, Louisa takes off running to follow the boys. Shoichi watches her disappear around the corner and then gets into the truck.
Miyu gives him a smug grin as he climbs in, closing the door, "And you're sure you two aren't dating?"
Shoichi's cheeks burn a little and he takes his seat, "Come on, we have things to worry about. We're their guides!"
Miyu giggles but turns on her microphone, dropping the subject anyway, "Hurricane, Playmaker, Gwenllian, can you hear me?"
" Reading you loud and clear, Siren. " Hayato calls through.
" Same here. " Yusaku mutters.
" Copy. " Louisa calls.
"Operation, start." Shoichi calls through.
" Roger. " Three voices call.
Louisa leads the walk towards the hopefully unsuspecting lab. The memory of her escape sticks close to her mind, the rain that had threatened to drown her, the wet slide of the mud she kept slipping on, the pure panic in her veins. Just thinking about it makes her shudder.
But this time is different. This lab isn’t in the middle of the forest, it’s in the warehouse district where rumours of violent gangs and deadly diseases kept most of the population away. She, Yusaku and Hayato could pass for punks looking for a fight, if they’re spotted by someone in a lab coat. There’s a chance someone who worked for the lab will recognise her face, especially with the wig she was using to try and hide her civilian look. There’s no turning back now, there never was. So Louisa keeps her shoulders squared and acts casual.
“Long Legs, how close are we to the entrance?” Louisa asks.
“ It’ll be the next building. Take a left and put on your gloves. ” Shoichi calls through the coms.
Louisa glances over her shoulder to see Yusaku and Hayato doing just that, so she does. They take the left and finds a warehouse that looks like any other, with a small side door.
“ If the info we found was correct, it’ll be a fingerprint scanner. The gloves you’re wearing will copy whatever fingerprint was there before, so as long as no one tried breaking in last, it should work. ” Miyu adds.
Louisa reaches the door and sees the scanner, along with a code, “There’s a number code.”
“Ai can handle it.” Ai cheers, poking out of Yusaku’s Duel Disk.
Louisa presses her finger to the scanner, “Where’d you get something like this?”
“ You’d be surprised what kinda stuff you can make at home with a little make up magic. ” Miyu giggles, “ Ai, you’re free to hack it. ”
Louisa holds her finger there while Ai plugs himself into the number pad. The numbers blink as the scanner runs a red light over her finger. The red light turns green and the scanner gives a happy beep. The door cracks open like nothing ever happened to it. A quick glance behind her and Louisa pushes it open a little more, slipping inside.
It’s quiet. The ‘warehouse’ looks more like a hospital than an empty space. Louisa swallows as the lights shine on them. She looks around for any cameras and sees one in the corner of the hall.
“Long Legs?” Louisa whispers.
“ Already got it, looping the footage in there to whatever it was for the last 10 minutes. No one appears to be in the floor you’re on, but the second and third floors are occupied. ” Shoichi whistles, “ The dress code is white coat, jeans and your ID. ”
"How many and how close?" Louisa glances around the end of the hallway.
" About 5 on each floor. Second floor has everyone bunched together in one room. Third floor someone who isn't in the dress code is being shown around like a guest. " Shoichi reports.
“Damnit.” Louisa looks behind her, “Okay, here’s the plan.”
Hayato steps out of the elevator, humming curiously as he and Windy wander through the basement, "It's so gloomy."
"Maybe we should have a Halloween Party here!" Windy pops out his Duel Disk, spinning around.
Hayato grins and bumps his fist into his palm, "Little buddy, you are a genius!"
" Save the party for later, Hurricane, we got a mission. " Miyu calls. " Can you see the generator anywhere? "
Hayato whistles to himself, "I can see a bunch of machinery. Not sure what's the generator, though."
" Keep looking. The plan hinges on this. " Shoichi calls.
Hayato nods to himself, "Don't worry. I'll find it no sweat."
He's not letting Louisa down. She's too cute to cry.
Blood Shepard is not a patient man. He doesn't wait for his prey to come to him, he lures it out, hunts it down and destroys it. That's why he did his own investigation into SOL Technology's files on Gwenllian and Marie Evans.
When he found out Playmaker's A.I had stolen all files relating to the Evans Project, he read through them line by line, trying to find any weaknesses on Marie Evans. A familial bond with a dead or missing family member is a good lure, though he doesn't enjoy involving people who aren't related to his work in. That's why he'd done his best to keep Hayato away, but no, his stupid little brother insisted he was in love with an avatar. It makes him angry.
So it's rather infuriating that just as he's about to set up his trap for Gwenllian, who should appear but the girl herself. Barrelling down the hallways with her brother over her shoulder.
Blood Shepherd chases her down, smacking people out of the way with his metal hand when he needs to. He won't let his pray out of his sight. He fires his palm at her, making her scream and duck. For such a tiny warehouse, it's an infuriatingly large place to get stuck in. But the building's lock down program has kicked in, meaning she's trapped in the cafeteria, along with him.
Blood Shepherd glares her down, "Nowhere to run. You have until the third count: Surrender or Duel."
Gwenllian snarls at him, "Not falling for that this time, punk!"
She sets her brother, who's wrapped in blankets, behind the counter to serve food at. Gwenllian turns on her Duel Disk. Blood Shepherd does the same.
Miyu looks at the computer screen, showing the footage they’d hacked so they’d be able to tell everyone what’s happening. Hayato’s in the basement, Yusaku is on his way and Louisa has exactly what she came to the lab for. But it could get messy quick.
Miyu looks at her partner for the evening, “Do you think her plan will work?”
Shoichi is sipping from a coffee mug, “It has to. We won’t get a chance like this again.”
“I know.” Miyu looks to the screens, where Louisa has her hand drawn as she faces down Blood Shepard’s real world identity, which he’s keeping under wraps even in a place like this, “But it’s risky. She’s making herself a target.”
“She’s the only one these guys have seen the face of before. We need to keep as many of our cards to our chest as we can.” Shoichi sets his mug down, “We just have to do our part and have faith in her.”
Miyu agrees with him, but she can see the way his shoulders tense, the way his fingers tap the table like he wants to type, the speck of fear in his eyes. It’s moments like this when she wishes Hayato was the hacker and not her. She wishes she had the strength to hold her cards again, instead of keep them locked up in her dresser draw like they’re Pandora’s box.
“It’s natural to feel helpless and concern in a moment like this, Shoichi.” Aqua appears in her Duel Disk, “I too wish I could do more for our fight.”
Shoichi looks at her and smiles. He pets Aqua on her head with one finger.
“Thanks. Don’t worry, we got this.” Shoichi crackles his knuckles.
Miyu smiles at her partner, then turns to her own screen, cracking her fingers, “Sooner we get David back, the sooner you get to cuddle your not-girlfriend-”
Shoichi sounds flustered, “Not my not-girlfriend either!”
Miyu’s smile turns smug, “What is she then, your-”
“Miyu.” Aqua scolds her.
Miyu laughs and starts typing.
Yusaku wanders the halls, keeping his stance steady. He walks like he knows exactly what he’s doing, holding a clipboard over his chest to hide that his lanyard with his ID is blank and to keep his clunky Duel Disk out of sight. Luckily he doesn’t run into anyone though.
“ You’re almost at your destination, Playmaker. ” Miyu calls through.
“Understood.” Yusaku takes a left.
He walks a few more steps. This hallway is empty too, lined with identical doors if not for the numbers on each one. They have windows too, showing all the rooms inside are empty.
All except one.
“Target in sight.” Yusaku whispers.
Ai grunts, “Can I see please?”
“ In a second, Ai, I’m working on giving these guys some technical issues. ” Shoichi calls, “ And there! Their computers are freezing, so they can’t see what’s going on in that room. I give you about 5 minutes to get in and out. ”
Yusaku lowers the clipboard and lets Ai hack the room open.
He won’t fail after everything Louisa’s done for him.
Card Profile: Welsh Warrior Dylan
[A merman with short black hair. His hands are webbed and his tail is a light blue, spiralling once as bubbles spill from his mouth. His eyes are purple and he has a small starfish attached to his left earlobe.]
Monster Card. LIGHT. Level 4
Type: Beast, Effect
Effect: When your opponent controls a Special Summoned Monster or a Level 5 and above Monster, this card can attack your opponent directly.
Chapter 16: Saving David: Part 2
Marie screams and cheers as she rides on top the dog through space. Planets and stars wizz by them, because they’re super fast and nothing can catch them!
“You’re so quick!” Marie scratches him under the ear, “That’s a good boy!”
The dog barks and Marie laughs even harder. Nothing can ruin this day! Nothing!
The dog stops. Marie blinks at him, then looks up. She gasps and whimpers. There’s a big scary wolf in front of them! He’s snarling and snapping and he’s going to eat her!
“Help!” Marie cries, covering her eyes.
The dog snarls and pounces. Marie falls off, staring in shock as the wolf and the dog fight to protect her. The wolf is bigger and stronger, but the dog fights and bites and doesn’t back down. Marie hides her face and sobs, waiting for the fight to be over. When she can’t hear anymore fighting, she looks through her fingers.
The dog is still standing, battered and bruised all over his body. But he’s alive.
When Marie wakes up, she’s crying and cuddling her dog stuffie like it will save her life. She’s also holding a card she’s never seen before.
“It’s my turn. I draw!” Blood Shepard starts the Duel.
Louisa bites her lip, glancing behind her at the counter. This has to work, or they’re all done for.
“I summon Duplicate Drone to the field!” Blood Shepard calls.
A tiny sphere with 0 ATK spins in front of her.
“I equip it with the spell Mirror Coat Unit, meaning any battles with a Level 4 or below monster result in you taking the damage instead. I lay 2 cards face down and end my turn.” Blood Shepard does just that.
It’s a small opening, not at all like the man who’d tried to shoot her in LINK VRAINS. The goal is to make this Duel last as long as she can though, so she won’t go in full force, swords swinging.
“I draw!” Louisa looks at her hand.
They’re conducting a Master Duel, so she had 6 cards and plenty of room on her field to play them.
“I summon a Monster in face down defence position, play two cards face down and end my turn.” Louisa bites her lip as her cards appear on the field.
Blood Shepard sounds annoyed, “Didn’t have a good hand?”
Louisa fakes a cocky smile, “Maybe it’s a trap. Or maybe I’m bluffing. Maybe I want you to think it’s a trap so you won’t attack and then I can activate it next turn.”
Blood Shepard seems to roll his eyes behind the sunglasses, “Be quiet.”
Louisa pokes her tongue out at him. Miyu snickers in her coms and Shoichi scolds her for getting distracted.
“I draw.” Blood Shepard looks at his hand.
He’s been hoping Gwenllian would attack Duplicate Drone, but she’s being careful. The scientists said she’d displayed strong Psychic abilities, enough to use her cards to destroy buildings if she wanted. Having that kind of power can’t possibly be a good thing, especially in the hands of an A.I’s ally. It’ll lead to humanity’s ruin. Why she’s holding back when she can rip him apart with her cards makes him wonder, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. He won’t get answers out of her now.
So he’ll just destroy her.
“I summon my Drone Corporal!” Blood Shepard’s gun machine with 1600 ATK appears on the field, “When I control one Drone Monster, I can special summon my Scud Drone!”
His flying drone appears next to Duplicate Drone.
“What are those toys going to do to me?” Gwenllian smirks, “You gonna hit me with rubber bullets?”
Blood Shepard glares at her, “I set my Scud Drone in the Link Arrows to Link Summon!”
Blood Shepard sends his flying drone into the circuit, then Battledrone Sargent comes out with 800 ATK.
“I’ll have my Duplicate Drone attack your face down Monster!” Blood Shepard points.
Duplicate Drone fires and the face down monster explodes. Gwenllian shouts and covers her eyes.
Blood Shepard: 4000
“When the monster equipped with Mirror Coat Unit would be destroyed, this card is destroyed instead! And since Mirror Coat Unit left the field, the Monster it was equipped to returns to my hand and I add one Monster with the same name to my hand. Battledrone Sargent and Drone Corporal attack you directly!” Blood Shepard orders.
His other Drone monsters attack-
“I activate the effect of the Welsh Warrior Gwent you destroyed!” Gwenllian pulls the card from her graveyard, “On the turn he’s destroyed, you take twice the amount of damage I take!”
“What?!” Blood Shepard shouts.
Battledrone Sargent fires at her, but then the shadow of a little warrior turns his sword so Blood Shepard and Gwenllian take damage. Blood Shepard shouts when he feels something actually hit him and hurt. She’s using her powers on him.
Blood Shepard: 2400
He won’t lose to this!
“I activate the effect of my Drone Corporal!” Blood Shepard throws out his hand, “If it’s the target of a card effect, that effect is negated!”
Gwenllian gasps as the shadow of the little warrior disappears and Drone Corporal fires.
Blood Shepard: 2400
Blood Shepard huffs as his monsters return to his side. He aches all over from the attack, but he’s certain he can end this quickly. He won’t be defeated.
“ Gwenllian, what was that?! ” Miyu calls through the coms, “ I knew you were planning on stalling, but that was just plain dangerous! ”
Louisa draws, “Cool it, Siren, I have a plan.”
“ Yeah, to get in and get out alive. That’s what you told us. ” Shoichi calls, “ The important parts of the building are still on lock down, so the plan’s going as we’d like it to. It’s almost too easy. ”
Louisa looks down the field at Blood Shepard, “I wouldn’t call this easy. Hurricane?”
“ He’s found the generator and is messing with it under Siren’s and Windy’s instructions. ” Shoichi adds.
“Okay then. Let me know when I can make this loser blow.” Louisa looks at her hand, “I don’t like the way he or the other scientists are looking at me.”
It had been her plan to get as many of them in the room with her and Blood Shepard as possible, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it. They’re all looking at her, muttering, whispering, demanding about how strong she is, asking why she hasn’t torn this place apart yet. She really wants to, but she doesn’t want to kill anyone on accident or injure them.
She looks over her cards and nods to herself.
“I summon Welsh Warrior Bleiddwn.” The half wolf monster appears on her field with 1500 ATK, “I activate his ability! I can add 2 Spellcaster Monsters from my Deck to my hand and summon one of them, regardless of requirements!”
Blood Shepard tenses.
Louisa looks through her Deck and finds two Spellcasters. She debates which one to summon, then goes with, “Meet the Queen of Mean, Welsh Warrior Arianrhod!”
Arianrhod appears in all her red robed and black haired glory, with 2000 ATK to spare. She glares at Louisa over her shoulder, who rolls her eyes. She is the Queen of Mean.
“She has a really awesome special ability, by the way.” Louisa grins, “For every monster on my field, she can destroy one of your Spell and Trap cards!”
Arianrhod mutters some enchantments and then points her wand forward. Blood Shepard’s facedowns disappear in a flash of lightning, ending up in the graveyard. Battledrone Sargent and Drone Corporal are the only ones left on the field now, with no back up.
Louisa inhales and points, “Arianrhod after Drone Corporal! Bleiddwn after Battledrone Sargent!”
Arianrhod points her wand at Drone Corporal and he disappears. The blast hits Blood Shepard, who goes flying into the wall. The scientists scream and Louisa feels sick.
Blood Shepard: 2000
Bleiddwn howls as he digs his claws and teeth into Battledrone Sargent. Shrapnel from the monster flies at Blood Shepard, who barely manages to get out the way, while the scientists duck behind chairs and tables to avoid getting hit.
Blood Shepard: 1300
Louisa huffs and puffs as she ends her turn, her monsters coming to her side. Bleiddwn licks her cheek, nervous and worried. Louisa smiles and runs her fingers through his fur and focuses forward, on Blood Shepard. Even if she doesn’t like using her powers to hurt people, she has no choice.
She can’t let these people keep her brother.
Blood Shepard gets to his feet and looks around the room in shock. There are dents in the wall from where the shrapnel hit it and the scientists are covered in scrapes and bruises. He himself is a little beaten and bloody too. He has to get up though.
“I can see why SOL Technologies don’t want someone like you running around.” Blood Shepard stands, wobbling once, “You’re dangerous, Gwenllian.”
She swallows and takes a step back, “Only if you hurt me first.”
Blood Shepard scoffs. Typical excuse. Well her destruction ends today.
“I draw!” Blood Shepard looks at his hand and grins behind his mask. Perfect, “I summon Duplicate Drone!”
His sphere appears on the field with 0 ATK points.
“I summon a second Duplicate Drone using the first’s ability.” Blood Shepard summons his second Monster, “When I have one Duplicate Drone on the field, I can special summon another from my Hand.”
Gwenllian bites her lip, “Well fudge.”
“And I activate the second Duplicate Drone's effect to bring out my third!” Blood Shepard summons the third.
“You’re going to sacrifice those things, aren’t you?” Gwenllian whimpers.
Annoyance appears in his gut and Blood Shepard snaps, “Be quiet.”
Gwenllian leaps towards him, poking her tongue out at him, “Ne-va!”
“I use two of my Duplicate Drones to Link Summon!” Blood Shepard points to the sky.
The circuit appears and out of it comes his Battledrone General, ready with 2400 ATK.
“And I use my last one to Link Summon again!” Blood Shepard can’t help but grin behind his scarf.
His Duplicate Drone appears in the circuit and out of it comes-
Louisa gasps, her body throbbing, her heart beating hard. She falls to her knees, clutching her heart. Arianrhod is sweating while Bleiddwn runs to her side, falling to his own hands and knees to lick her hair.
“ Gwenllian! ” Shoichi calls, “ What’s going on in there?! ”
It can’t be.
“ Gwenllian! ” Miyu shouts.
She thought he was gone!
“The Faithful Hound!”
Louisa looks up and tears run down her face.
A white, exceptionally large greyhound is on the field, with 1600 ATK, shaggy hair and droll dripping from his mouth. His body is covered in ugly pink scars and his chest has an ‘X’ shaped one.
Louisa chokes on a sob, “Blood Shepard, what have you done to him?!”
“That was us, dearie.” One of the scientists comes out from behind the table, cackling, “We just made his Spirit stronger!”
Gelert, faithful, protective, loving Gelert, looks at her with glassy eyes and a broken heart.
“You hurt him!” Louisa gets to her feet with Bleiddwn’s help, “You hurt him, you sick monsters!”
She’s felt angry before when her monsters were destroyed by that Knight of Hanoi. But now she’s absolutely furious.
“I activate Battledrone General’s effect!” Blood Shepard shouts, “Once per turn, I can summon a Drone monster from the Graveyard next to it’s Link. Scud Drone!”
Scud Drone appears on the field, behind Battledrone General’s Link.
“Because Scud Drone was special summoned from the Graveyard by the effect of a Drone, I draw one card.” Blood Shepard draws his card, “Battle! Gelert attacks Bleiddwn!”
Louisa gasps, "No! Gelert, don't do it!"
Gelert starts to cry and charges. Bleiddwn dashes away from her before she can tell him not to. Gelert bites his throat and he turns into dust. Bleiddwn howls as he's destroyed and Louisa's heart breaks.
Blood Shepard: 1300
“Battledrone General attacks Arianrhod!” Blood Shepard points.
Arianrhod looks behind her, shouting as the bullet zooms towards her.
It’s enough to get Louisa to take action, “I activate Horse Lord, Teyrnon, negating Arianrhod’s destruction and ending the battle phase!”
A horseman appears and grabs Arianrhod, who protests about being dragged away while the bullets pass by and hit the opposite wall. Louisa huffs and puffs as the horseman drops Arianrhod in front of her, who gets to her feet and dusts herself off, folding her arms and turning away.
“I end my turn.” Blood Shepard calls.
Louisa looks up at Gelert, her heart aching, “Gelert...”
“Why did she freak out about that card? What’s so special about it?” Miyu asks.
Yusaku calls through the coms, “ Gwenllian has always been close to her Duel Monster cards. They’re like family to her, but her Link Monsters were especially close to her. They’ve been guiding and protecting her for as long as she can remember. Then she lost them. Wouldn’t you be shaken if you saw someone precious trying to fight you? ”
Miyu brushes her hair behind her ear, looking at the screen, “I mean yeah, but they’re just cards-”
“That’s not true, Miyu.” Aqua calls, making her head turn, “Every Duel Monster has a Spirit, but it is exceptionally rare for humans to be able to communicate and see them.”
“She said her brother had the same ability and that was part of why they were being studied.” Shoichi curls his hands into fists, “I can’t imagine how she’s feeling.”
Miyu frowns and looks to the other screen, “Hurricane, how’s it coming?”
“ All done, we all just need to get the flock out of here now! ” Hayato sounds like he’s running, “ I’m on the third floor! ”
“Playmaker, where are you?” Shoichi calls.
“ Second floor. Tell Hurricane to give me back up. ” Yusaku grunts, “ This isn’t easy. ”
“On it. Hurricane get to the second floor, Playmaker could use some support.” Shoichi drinks from his coffee mug.
“ You got it. ” Hayato grins.
Miyu looks at the screen, where Louisa is subconsciously taking a few steps back, “Lou….”
Louisa looks at her hand, swallowing. All her current cards would help her destroy Scud Drone or Gelert, but nothing can take on that Battledrone General. There’s no way she can hurt Gelert.
Arianrhod is rolling her eyes at her, shaking her head in disappointment, but she’s always disappointed in her for some reason or another. She doesn’t care about her right now though.
Gelert was the one who picked her up when she scraped her knee and couldn’t stop crying because she was a baby and it hurt. Gelert was the one who let her sob and cry in his fur after fights with her brother, or when her first spells went wrong. Gelert was the one who warned her that the bad men were going to take them, maybe if she’d listened to him that day, she, her brother and mother might not have been taken by the scientists.
Now he looked at her like he’d never seen her before in his life, his eyes glassy like he couldn’t see and sobbing like he didn’t know a life without pain.
Louisa presses her hand to her heart that’s aching hard.
Louisa gasps and looks at Blood Shepard, “Are you going to make a move or do you forfeit?!”
She snarls, “Shut up!”
She can’t give up! Gelert wouldn’t abandon her, she won’t abandon him! But what can she…
Louisa gasps and looks at her Deck. She has one hope. She has to draw this card.
She gazes deep into Gelert’s eyes, heart pounding, “Gelert, help me rescue you. I need your help to save you, I can’t draw this card alone. Please, let me help you. Gelert….”
He tilts his head, like he can hear her.
Louisa settles her fingers on her Deck, “You and me, buddy. We’re drawing together. We’ll save you together. I promise.”
Gelert’s glassy eyes fill with tears and he stops drolling.
“Hecate guide me.” Louisa closes her eyes, summoning up all her magic, all her strength, everything she has to, “DRAW!”
She creates a wind that sends all the scientists scrambling behind the chairs and nearly knocking off Blood Shepard’s hat. Arianrhod actually smiles at her over her shoulder, as if she’s proud of her, for once. Gelert’s tail gives a curious wag.
Louisa looks at her card.
She beams, then grabs another spell card, “I sacrifice Arianrhod to summon a new Welsh Warrior!” She points to the sky as a whirlwind of oak, broom and meadowsweet flowers surround her, then take to the field, “The maiden born from flowers, appear before us to punish the foolish magicians who believed they could tame your wild blood!” Louisa points to her field, “Welsh Warrior Blodeuwedd, come forth!”
Blodeuwedd springs from the flowery whirlwind, her blonde hair flowing to her ankles in braids, a flower crown on her head, a green dress with oak, meadowsweet and broom flowers blooming on it. An owl flies to land on her shoulder, revealing her 2000 ATK.
“I send Blodeuwedd after Gelert!” Louisa shouts, pointing forward.
Blood Shepard takes a step back, “What?!”
Blodeuwedd walks across the field, Gelert looking up at her as if in a daze, her owl circling.
“Monsters that Blodeuwedd battles aren’t destroyed, instead they gain a Flower Counter!” Louisa shouts.
Blodeuwedd kneels before Gelert and kisses his forehead. A broom flower grows on his forehead.
Blood Shepard: 900
Louisa smiles, “And when a monster gains a Flower Counter, it becomes my own!”
“NO!” Blood Shepard roars.
The broom flower glows a soft yellow, enveloping Gelert in light. Blodeuwedd smiles as she guides him back to Louisa’s field. Louisa feels a tear slip down her face as Gelert appears on her field, the light fading.
His horrible white furr has turned a lovely black, like the darkest night. On his chest is a symbol of the sun in orange, with pink scars still criss crossing over his body. His eyes are a sharp and strong green, like Yusaku’s almost, that gaze at her in pride.
“ Well done, pup. ” Gelert remarks.
Louisa smiles through her tears, “I missed you, friend.”
Blodeuwedd smiles, then takes a bow.
“When I use this effect, I have to end the Battle Phase, but getting Gelert back is more than worth it.” Louisa grins, readying her Duel Disk, “Bring it, Blood Shepard!”
Blood Shepard is angry. How dare that little girl outwit him! He’s through with Duelling-
He pulls up his palm, aims and fires. Gwenllian screams when it hits her shoulder. She covers it, crying in earnest now, staring at him in shock. Stupid.
“I’m done playing.” Blood Shepard walks towards her, “Surrender or the next shot won’t miss.”
Gwenllian looks behind her, “HEY!”
Blood Shepard glances to see the scientists carrying out her hostage she wrapped in blankets.
“Don’t you touch him!” Gwenllian shouts, “David!”
Gelert snarls, but Blodeuwedd runs her fingers through his fur, holding it tight. The scientists pull the blankets apart and Blood Shepard fires his second shot. Gelert howls and gets in the way, the bullet bouncing off the symbol on his chest.
“Gelert!” Gwenllian cries out.
“Sir, David Evans isn’t there!” The scientists shout.
Blood Shepard is furious now, “WHAT?!”
Gwenllian laughs, the blood dripping down her shoulder even between her fingers. It’s a hysterical, relieved laugh, like she can’t believe her luck. It makes him nervous.
“Where is he?!” The scientists scream.
“Safe and sound and far, far away from here!” Gwenllian smirks, “I’ll soon be joining him.”
David opens his eyes slowly, his head aching. What’s with the room? It doesn’t look like any Field Spell he’s Duelled on before. He’d recognise something this small.
David turns his head up, gasping when his eyes lock with those of an angel. The greenest eyes he’s ever seen, paired with pretty pink and lovely blue hair. The angel has a slight worry in his brow he’d do anything to soothe over, to make the angel smile.
“Am I in heaven?” David murmurs.
“Nope.” David looks forward, where a man is climbing out of a computer chair, “You’re in my hotdog truck. Get ready, we’re going to be ditching this place soon.”
David gulps, suddenly realizing he and the angel aren’t alone. There are two more people in the truck.
“Who are you people? Why am I here?!” David tries to sit up.
“Chill out, little buddy.” The boy with brown hair laughs, “We’re here to rescue you, we’re friends with your sister.”
“Marie?!” David sits up, looking around in worry, “Where is she?!”
“She’s on her way, she’s Duelling right now.” The girl on the computer chair says, “She’ll be here soon.”
David gets to his feet, but his knees buckle. The angel holds him up and David’s heart races as the angel looks him in the eyes, burning with intensity.
“Don’t worry. She’s one of the strongest Duelists I know.” The angel settles him into a chair, “You need to rest.”
David nods, feeling dumb, “Okay.”
He swallows and thanks Hecate he got to meet an angel in his lifetime.
Louisa points at the scientists, “Blodeuwedd!”
Her pretty face takes on a ruthless look, the owl merging with her. Her face takes on that of the owl’s, massive wings growing from her back. She flies high into the sky, blasting a whirlwind of flowers and sharp quills at the scientists, who all duck and cover under tables. Anyone caught in the storm gets scratched and bruised by the flowers and feathers.
“Gelert!” Louisa points to the wall.
Gelert howls and the sun on his chest glows. He shoots a blast from it, making a hole in the wall.
Louisa screams, but Blodeuwedd flies in front of her. Gelert runs over to her and barks. Louisa climbs on his back and they run through the hole in the wall, Blodeuwedd covering their back.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
“Guess the bomb Hurricane set is going off!” Louisa looks around, trying to figure out the fastest way out, “Gelert, if you blast the roof, can you jump?!”
Gelert blasts the roof and jumps through the hole, Blodeuwedd following behind. Louisa laughs happily and takes Blodeuwedd’s card off her Duel Disk. Gelert blasts through the roof once more and then blasts them out the door. Gelert howls as they run into the night and Louisa laughs. She laughs and laughs as the wind races through her wig, Gelert howling into the night. For the first time since she was young, she feels free.
Yusaku looks out on the road in worry. Louisa was meant to meet them on the road by now, but he can’t see her anywhere. Miyu and David are with Shoichi in the front, getting them out of the district before they can be seen. Hayato is helping him hold open the back of the truck.
“Where is she?!” Hayato shouts.
Yusaku looks and gasps as a giant dog turns the corner with, “Louisa!”
She’s racing down the streets on the back of her Link Monster. Yusaku holds out his hand for her, Hayato copying him. Gelert catches up to the truck, but he’s not there yet.
“LOUISA!” Yusaku shouts.
Louisa jumps from Gelert, the dog vanishing. Yusaku and Hayato catch her arms and pull her into the truck, closing the doors behind them, falling into a pile on the floor. Louisa laughs and cries, while Yusaku runs his fingers through her hair. Her laughs and sobs slow down into giggles and hiccups, then she stops making noise.
“Lou?” Yusaku calls.
Louisa sits up, getting off him and Hayato. She rubs at her eyes, “Thanks you guys.”
“My pleasure, my lady.” Hayato winks at her, “I’d fall for you any day!”
Yusaku shakes his head as Louisa blushes. He gets up and pulls out the first aid kit, then walks over to her. Yusaku pulls out the whipes and starts cleaning her arm and her hands, then bandaging the bullet wound.
“Thank you for everything, Yusaku.” Louisa smiles at him with the lightest smile he’s ever seen on her.
Yusaku lets a small smile show to her, nodding in acknowledgement.
Finally, her troubles are over. Her brother is rescued, so now all she has to do is go into hiding. Yusaku still has the Voice to rescue though, so knowing her, she’ll stick around to help him even in this. But if they all made it out of something like this alive? They’ll survive whatever happens next.
Card Profile: Gelert, the Faithful Hound
[An exceptionally large greyhound, standing protectively in a cottage with stone walls and wood floors. His fur is black and shaggy, with multiple scars on his body from a fight with a wolf. On his chest is a symbol of the sun in orange. Behind him is an overturned cradle and in front of him, is a black hairy leg of a wolf.]
Monster Card. FIRE.
Type: Beast, Effect, Link
Effect: Requires 1 ‘Welsh Warrior’ to summon. Any monsters Gelert is linked to can’t be destroyed by battle and if he is co-linked, he can’t be destroyed by battle.
ATK: 1600/ LINK: 2, Bottom, Bottom Right
Chapter 17: Beautiful Creatures
“So what did you want to tell me, Dave?”
He’s nervous. He never thought he could tell anyone this. But he wants to and he trusts Marie with his life.
“Is… would it be weird, if I…” David swallows and looks at his lap, whispering, “if I liked to wear dresses?”
A beat of silence.
Marie ruffles his hair, “Nope, in fact, you can try some of mine! You always let me use your clothes anyway!”
David gasps, looking up at her in shock, “Really?!”
“Of course!” Marie hums, “Some people might be mean about you being a boy who likes dresses, but you don’t have to listen to bullies like that. Go for it!”
David swallows and smiles, “Okay then.”
He then tries on Marie’s cotton dresses and feels his heart beat right.
David wants to jump from the truck the second it stops, but Miyu keeps him from it.
“We need to check first.” She tells him, “We just rescued you, we need to make sure it’s safe.”
David nods and lets her.
Shoichi smiles at him, “Don’t worry, you’ll see your sister soon. She’ll look different, but it’ll be her, I promise.”
David nods and looks at his feet. The last thing he remembered before waking up in the truck was Duelling for his life, desperately trying to make a wind, praying it would be enough to help him escape. But he wasn’t strong enough and the ground came up to meet him and-
David shudders and holds himself, “Shoichi, is… is it really over? Can I go home?”
Shoichi hesitates, “Things can never be the same after something horrible happened, David. But it can get better. Even if you think it’s hopeless, it never is.”
David turns to him and nods, “Okay, I just… I feel like I’m floating in a dream. I don’t know what to do next, what will happen next and it… scares me.”
Shoichi blinks at him and smiles, “Yeah, but you got out and you don’t have to rush. One step at a time, David. First step, is meeting your sister again. You ready?”
Shoichi opens the door and David follows him out. It’s a starless night, with a nearby street lamp his only light. Out the back of the truck walks the angel, that Hayato guy and-
“Hey.” A girl with brown and blonde hair, so unlike his sister’s ginger hair, waves at him, “It’s me David.”
David cries and runs into her arms, “Marie!”
He doesn’t remember if he stops crying. All he knows is that he’s happy and okay and so is his sister. For the first time in years, they’re okay. That’s enough.
Until the sun comes up and David wakes up screaming. He’s grasping at sheets, nearly ripping him with his fear and panic.
David turns his head and sees Mar-Louisa. Her name is Louisa now. She’s standing in the doorway with a bowl of what looks like porridge and fruits. There’s also a glass of orange juice and it’s the most food he’s seen in a long time.
“It’s nothing.” David reaches out, “I’m hungry, please?”
Louisa smiles and sets the porridge over him. It already has a spoon in it, so he starts eating, barely feeling the burn on his tongue. Louisa scolds him about burning himself, so he slows down a little. Then he realizes something.
“It’s got exactly the amount of sugar and raisins. You remembered?” David turns to her.
Louisa nods, “I never forgot. I hoped your favourite breakfast would make you feel better.”
David finishes the last spoonful, then looks at his lap. He swallows nothing.
“Where do we go now?” David feels scared, “I’ve been wanting to get out for years, it was all I dreamed about night after night. But now I… I don’t know what direction to go.”
Louisa is silent, “Well, where do you not want to go?”
David turns to her, shocked. Is she mad?!
“Start from there and work your way to where you want to go.” Louisa picks up his empty bowl and smiles at him, “Wherever you go, I promise I’ll help you get there and soon I’ll follow you, too. For now though, I have a promise I made to Yusaku and I need to keep it.”
She walks out and David remembers that even if she really does look really different….
Louisa Kanbara is still his sister, Marie Evans. Weirdly wise, always there for him and knowing just what to say.
Recon appears at this side, blinking up at him with her big eyes. David smiles and rubs her behind the ear. He’ll be okay because he’s not alone. He never was with his monsters.
“Okay, there.” Louisa stands behind him in the mirror, “From ginger to brown. We can try other colours another day. Do you like it?”
David touches some of his hair in shock. He hadn’t had a mirror for the last 6 years of his life. With the hair dye and the trim leaving him with curls to his shoulder blades, he looks very different than how he remembered he looked. But….
“I could get used to this.” David smiles and curls some of his hair around his finger.
Louisa beams and pulls him to his feet, “Come on, we need to get you some clothes!”
David laughs as Louisa pulls him to his feet and over to her wardrobe. She opens every single draw and cupboard and door until it looks like she’s putting her rather small collection of clothes on display. David does spy a few gems, but most of it looks like it was bought from a charity shop.
“It’s not much, but you’re welcome to have anything you want.” Louisa puts her hand on his shoulder, “From the tops to the skirts, anything in here is yours.”
David gasps, turning to her, “Really?”
Growing up with his witching Mom and older sister, David hadn’t been that interested in the craft. But he had liked what they worse, but he only ever had the courage to tell Marie that. She was supportive of him, willing to keep it all a secret while he worked up the courage to tell Mom he wanted to dress like her. But he was stolen before he got to tell her.
Louisa clearly hasn’t forgotten his affection for dressing like this, “David, we only live once and I think if someone is so obsessed about a man who likes to wear skirts, then they really aren’t a threat to us by this point. It might help you hide from SOL Tech by wearing what you want. Just do what makes you feel happiest and safest. I will be there every step of the way.”
David feels tears in his eyes and nods, smiling, “Okay then. I’m gonna wear ‘em.”
He practically dives into Louisa’s closet and once she’s turned her back, he starts putting things on.
David does a little spin in a pink, pleated skirt, “Look!”
Louisa turns around and laughs, clapping, “Oh yeah, you go David! Rock what you got!”
David laughs, then goes grabbing the next skirt, “This one now!”
He swaps out skirt after skirt, dancing and spinning. Louisa plays some dance music to go with him and holds his hand above their heads when he does spin. David doesn’t stop until he’s in a white and blue dress that reaches his knees, without any sleeves and showing a small bit of collarbones.
“I used that dress for my Beltane rituals.” Louisa looks him up and down, “But it looks way better on you.”
David smirks and strikes a pose, “Oh how right you are, sister.”
Louisa laughs and shakes her head, “Come on, now that you’ve chosen which of my clothes to steal, we need to-”
The two of them freeze. Louisa narrows her eyes, puts her finger to her lips and David nods, walking over to the window encase he needs to make an escape. She walks out her room, down the stairs, David can only just hear her through the closed door. His heart starts to pound as he waits for the first sign of a struggle, or anything unusual.
A laugh, “It’s okay! It’s just my friends!”
David sighs and looks around. Is he going to go down in the dress, or will he hide?
He looks in the mirror and smiles.
David walks out the door and down the steps. Everyone from the rescue mission is there, oh shot, including Yusaku. David feels himself flush when he looks at Yusaku, who’s just. Blinking at him. David’s face goes hotter and he waits for the pin to drop.
Miyu gasps, “Oh my God, you two need to get to my house right now, I have to do your make up!”
David blinks and turns to Louisa, who is equally confused as him.
Miyu grabs his arm, “Shoichi I need a lift!”
“What am I, everyone’s taxi?” Shoichi rolls his eyes.
Hayato laughs, “Nope, you’re the Dad Friend!”
David, Yusaku, Louisa and Shoichi blink at him, “The what?”
Hayato looks at them like he expects them to be joking, “Ya know? Dad Friend? Your friend that acts like a dad to the group, often taking care of them, feeding them, reminding you to sleep at a decent time and stuff? The Responsible One ™?”
David, Yusaku, Louisa and Shoichi raise an eyebrow, “What?!”
Hayato gapes at them, then turns to Miyu, sobbing into her shoulder, “They’ve been living under a rock. These poor unfortunate souls!”
Miyu pats him on the head, “There, there. Let's just get to my house so we can give that boy a real make over.”
David blinks and smiles, “Yeah, okay. Let’s do it!”
Yusaku hums and David’s attention narrows down to him, “You have any food? We were planning on eating with Lou at a cafe or something.”
Louisa blinks, “You guys were going to take me out?”
David looks at her, seeing the surprise on her face. He turns to Shoichi, who’s smiling.
“Of course we were going to take you out, we just achieved a major victory.” Shoichi ruffles her hair, “Besides, we all needed a break and I have a few pennies to spare.”
Louisa smiles, the surprise lifting from her face, laughing a little, “Okay, but I’m paying for whatever we get for drinks or desert, deal? Don’t fight me on this, Shoichi Kusanagi, you won’t win.”
David blinks at her, seeing a flush on her face, wondering-
“I have a cooking robot at home, it’ll make us something 4 star quality!” Miyu claps her hands together, “Completely on the house, so long as I get to dress you guys up.”
Shoichi blinks at her, “Uhhh, when you say dress up-”
“Nothing ridiculous like a dragon!” Miyu laughs, “A suit there, a necklace here, nail polish to spare and maybe some blush if you feel up for it.”
Hayato grins, “I assure you guys, Miyu is very good at make up. She once did mine and I looked like a supermodel, everywhere I went everyone thought I was famous!”
Miyu grins at the parise, “Oh Hayato, you flatterer!” She turns to the rest of them, “So how about it? I mean, everyone at least once in their life has wondered how they look in fancy clothes, why not make it true? You don’t even have to keep them on, but you’re welcome to them if you want to have them. I have too many clothes anyway.”
David looks at the pair in awe, then turn to Louisa. She’s looking at Miyu with a curious glint in her eyes. Shoichi seems to be thinking it over as an interesting idea, while Yusaku looks handsomely calm and stoic, like he doesn’t much care. David flushes and looks away.
“Okay then.” Louisa smiles.
Miyu cheers and David smiles as well. He wasn’t the biggest make up fan, but he did like nail polish, though Louisa’s hands often shook. It’ll be nice to be himself, again.
But even better, he’s free.
Louisa sits in the front of the truck, “You sure it’s a good idea for David and Jin to meet? I don’t want to overwhelm him with too many new people at once.”
Shoichi smiles, “It’ll be okay. Jin’s wanted to meet you for a while and I’m sure he’ll get along great with David.”
Louisa blinks, then grins, looking forward, “Okay then, I just need to think positive!”
Shoichi glances out the corner of his eyes at the sigil poking out of her pocket. He doesn’t recognise it, but he typically doesn’t recognise most of them.
They pull up at the hospital and David walks out the back of the truck. The staff at Jin’s long term care ward let them through without checking their I.D, just glad that Jin’s getting new guests. They walk to Jin’s room, but Shoichi’s head spins with worry.
Jin has been getting better, since he met Yusaku and Shoichi told him that they beat Revolver, the Knights of Hanoi’s leader. He was eating and moving outside his room, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get upset about new people. David appears overly cheerful at times, considering he only just escaped captivity, though Shoichi’s guessing that’s a coping mechanism. He hopes that having Jin meet both of them will help, not hinder, but-
Shoichi looks to his shoulder, then down to Louisa.
She smiles and squeezes, “It’ll be okay. And if it’s not, it’ll get better.”
Shoichi stares at her in awe, then smiles and shakes his head. How does she always know what to say to make it better?
They’re outside Jin’s room, so Shoichi walks in first, “Jin, it’s me, Shoichi.”
Jin is sitting at the table, watching TV. He’s wrapped in blankets, but his eyes aren’t as thick with misery as they once were. Jin actually looks like he recognises him.
“Shoichi.” Jin murmurs.
Shoichi smiles, “I brought some friends. You remember when I talked about Louisa, right?”
Only after Jin nods does Louisa step into the room, standing next to Shoichi, but out of the doorway. She smiles and waves.
“Hey Jin, it’s nice to meet you. Shoichi told me a lot about you.” Louisa bends a little, smiling.
Jin waves back.
Louisa straightens, “I have a little brother too. His name is David.”
“Hi!” David jumps into the room, “I’m David, and you are?”
Jin is gaping at him, then murmurs, “Jin. Nice to meet you both.”
Shoich smiles. That’s the most Jin’s spoken since they were children. He’s glad he brought the two of them to see him.
David sits across from him, “Hey Jin, do you like superheroes?”
Louisa groans, “David, really, that’s the first thing you ask?”
“Oh come on, you know I love them!” David turns around.
“But is now really an appropriate time to ask?!” Louisa ruffles his hair, “You’re obsessed!”
“Cut it, you’re messing up my do!” David swipes at her hand.
Shoichi watches the bickering with an aching heart, remembering his own petty squabbles with Jin.
The siblings freeze and turn towards Jin.
Jin gulps, “I really like the Avengers.”
Shoichi’s breath hitches and he feels tears start to form in his eyes.
David cheers, “Me too! Captain Marvel is the best!”
“Iron man is good too.” Jin shoots back, actually sounding excited for the first time in forever.
David hums, “Yeah, he’s pretty great, but I prefer him after he met Spiderman.”
“Me too.” Jin smiles.
Actually smiles. Shoichi wants to turn his head away so they can’t see him crying, but he can’t take his eyes off the sight. Jin is interesting and smiling. He’s making an effort and talking and he’s happy and-
Louisa puts a hand on his shoulder and a tissue in his face. Shoichi says nothing and simply watches. In about an hour, Jin gets a little too tired to keep talking, but David promises to visit as soon as he can to continue their convo. They walk out there, David buzzing, Shoichi emotional and Louisa supportive.
Jin’s gonna be okay. He’s certain of that for the first time in years.
Revolver looks at the cube in his father’s hand, “And this will bring about the end of the Ignis?”
It’s so small. If Revolver was a normal person, he’d struggle to comprehend how something that small could do so much destruction. But he’s seen the Ignis and the sting of losing to Playmaker (knowing who he is, knowing that boy is so close and so far and hates him) is a good reminder that things aren’t ever as they seem. Especially in this deluded digital world.
His father nods, “Yes. All we can do now is deliver it to the waste plant.”
Spectre chuckles, “My, my and our grand mastermind will do it himself? How strange.”
Faust gives him a pointed look, “Revolver would attract too much attention and you know it, Spectre.”
Spectre turns to him with a toothy smile, “And the great Dr Kiyoshi Kogami wouldn’t?”
Baira sighs and puts her hand on Faust’s shoulder, “Ignore him.”
Genome giggles, “And once more Spectre’s chaotic DNA proved to influence the rest of you to act.”
Baira glares at him, while Genome and Spectre fist bump. His father watches this all with disapproval clear on his face, while Revolver is grateful to the mask that hides many of his feelings. His heart aches at the thought of losing them all, as he knows he will if their mission is successful. It has to be successful. The Ignis must be stopped if humanity as a whole is to be saved.
But his heart longs for a world where his odd family get to live together, in relative peace considering that family includes Genome and Spectre. His heart wishes desperately for this world of peace, where maybe he could see that boy again and he wouldn’t hate him.
The bickering stops and all heads turn towards the new comer. A strange glowing yellow figure, taller than Faust even, with a doll sized figure on his wrist.
“How did you get in here?!” Revolver prepares his Duel Disk, “I thought you were all trapped in Cyberse World after the Dark Ignis escaped 5 years ago!”
The Light Ignis tilts his head, “The question isn’t how I got in here.”
A mighty stomp shakes the ground as a monster appears behind him.
“It’s how will you get out?”
Card Profile: Birds of Rhiannon
[3 red kites fly over the sea, one diving, the other on it’s back, the last flying high. In the distance, there is land. A castle sits on the land, seemingly undisturbed.]
Effect: By banishing a card in your hand, you can special summon as many “Bird Tokens” (Winged-Beast/DARK/Level 1/ATK 700/DEF 700) as possible. Bird Tokens can only be tributed for Summons of “Welsh Warrior” Monsters. If you have other Monsters on the field, Bird Tokens become the only available attack target.
Chapter 18: Unloaded Gun
“Hey, Louisa?” Yusaku blinks at her, “What does an Eclipse mean in magic?”
Louisa blinks in confusion, “An eclipse, huh? Well…” She puts her chin to her fist, “The ancients tended to think they were evil omens, but I don’t see it that way. I think they’re rare, astronomical events that could mean almost anything. A solar eclipse could mean darkness coming to take over, or maybe it means that the darkness won’t last forever. A lunar eclipse could mean that light will triumph, or maybe that the brightest moons can disappear.”
“So they can mean really big and vague things, huh?” Yusaku hums.
“Maybe. But the same could be said for all kinds of magic, really.” Louisa ruffles his hair, “Seeing a petal fall could mean any of those things to you, or maybe a hurricane could mean you’re destined for a long and happy life.”
“I don’t think people who suffer hurricanes would agree with you, Lou.” Yusaku gives her a deadpan look.
“I suppose. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s up to you to decide what an event means.” Louisa smiles, “Go with your gut and trust it.”
Playmaker scours the network, hiding among the top of the buildings to avoid being seen by the reporters and spectators. He’s logged into LINK VRAINS an hour every day for one purpose and one purpose alone.
He has to know where The Voice is, but he can’t rescue him if he doesn’t know where he is. Revolver is his only lead and he’s nowhere to be seen. But that hasn’t stopped him before and it won’t stop him now. In the distance he sees Hurricane flying above the clouds, on the lookout as well he would guess. He knows somewhere on the network Gwenllian is there too. He doesn’t know why they decided to help him in his search.
But Playmaker is grateful for their help. He doubts he’d be able to scour much of LINK VRAINS in such a short amount of time without their assistance.
He knows they’ll find Revolver soon.
Then he’ll finally rescue the one who rescued him and thank him. He doesn’t know what his saviour will be like, 10 years after he last heard that simple phrase that saved his life. But maybe, if he’s lucky, he’ll get to spend his days helping him and being at his side through thick and thin, to make up for not being there for the last decade.
The sun is blacking out. No one knows why it’s doing that, what’s going on or what it’s supposed to mean.
Miyu groans, “ Oh great. Either someone at SOL Tech just decided to have a little fun, or someone’s trying to send a mythological message. ”
Hurricane blinks in confusion, “What do you mean, Siren?”
“ In a lot of old mythologies and religions, an eclipse symbolized an evil event on the horizon, like the destruction of civilization or a great famine. ” Miyu sounds mad, “ They weren’t always true, of course, but they were never a good sign. ”
“Are you saying someone wants to wreck LINK VRAINS?!” Windy shouts, sounding panicked.
Hurricane gulps, “That might be it.” He grins, “But we can take it.”
He’s got Playmaker, Ai, Gwenllian, Miyu, Aqua, Shoichi and his partner on his side. If something does happen, they’ll take it down.
Windy smiles at him and holds up his fist, “Yeah, because we’re the dream team, partner.”
Hurricane grins and very gently bumps his fist against Windy’s.
“ Don’t even think about hogging all the fun, boys, just because I can’t Duel doesn’t mean Aqua and me can let you lads have all the fun. ” Miyu laughs.
Hurricane laughs, “Reading you loud and clear, Siren. Speaking of, any si-”
He sees him.
“I’m gonna have to call you back.” Hurricane jumps from the building, “I just found the man we’re looking for.”
“ Sending Playmaker and Gwenllian your location, Hurricane. ” Miyu hums, “ Don’t do anything reckless, okay? ”
Hurricane nods, “Don’t worry.”
He lands on his board and looks at his Duel Disk. Windy’s standing with his arms crossed and ready to act.
Hurricane smiles, “My partner has enough chill to keep me from going berserk.”
Windy looks up at him, blinking his purple eyes in confusion. Then his face turns into something Hurricane’s learned to recognise as a smile.
They’re the dream team and Revolver doesn’t stand a chance against their awesomeness.
Revolver keeps out of sight, sticking to the alleyways and shadowed buildings of LINK VRAINS. That blasted Ignis disabled the log out options on his account, if he could just find a decent hiding spot he could hack it back on. He can't believe that thing got in their private server. Hopefully his little signal will get SOL Tech or Playmaker to prepare for war. That Ignis will destroy everything if someone doesn't shut it down.
And he currently hasn't got the resources or back up to do it himself.
Revolver freezes and turns around, cursing his luck. Another Duelist with an Ignis. His hair is the same shape as Playmaker's; ally or fanboy? Doesn't matter, he needs to get away.
Revolver turns around and runs, aiming for a corner-
"You're not going anywhere!"
Gwenllian comes around the corner he was about to run into. Revolver takes to the other corner and aims a Datastorm behind him. The two Duelists shout as his tsunami crashes over them and he keeps running-
Revolver curses as Playmaker speeds towards him, too fast to counter and suddenly they're flying through LINK VRAINS, with Revolver in his arms.
"Put me down!" Revolver snarls, pulling his fist back to aim at Playmaker.
The Dark Ignis bursts from Playmaker's Duel Disk and wraps around him, preventing him from doing so, "Sorry man, can't let you hurt my best friend forever."
Revolver roars, trying to summon the Datastorm by force of will. But with his hands restraint, he can't do anything. He's been kidnapped by the enemy.
His father will be disappointed.
Windy whistles, "I never thought I'd see the day."
Revolver, in Ai's grasp, glaring them all into next week. Playmaker with Ai out of his Duel Disk, like a leash on Revolver. Gwenllian clearly trying not to giggle up a storm with Hurricane. And him, Windy, watching this all unfold in his partner's Duel Disk.
"Be quiet." Revolver snaps.
"Ya know I could disarm you any time I like." Ai giggles, "So really, you're the one who should be quiet."
"Be quiet." Playmaker says.
Ai whimpers. Gwenllian breaks out into proper laughs and leans against Hurricane to stay up. Windy laughs as well and Ai shoots him a glare. Worth it.
"Why were you sneaking around the network?" Playmaker says, "It's unusual."
Revolver scoffs, "As if I'd tell an Ignis ally."
"So there was a reason." Playmaker puts his fist to his chin, "Is it something to do with the Ignis?"
Revolver remains silent.
"Ah-ha!" Ai laughs, swaying his head around above Revolver, "Playmaker caught you, Playmaker caught you!"
"Be quiet." Revolver and Playmaker say at the exact same time.
The two stare at each other, then turn their heads away. Gwenllian is giggling again and Hurricane is smirking wide. Windy wishes he had some popcorn, this is better than those Soap Operas that Ai introduced him to. Man, he, Ai and that cute cleaning bot need to marathon another series some time soon. What was her name? Roboppi?
"I could just eat him, you know that right Playmaker?" Ai turns towards Playmaker.
"I doubt it would do us any good in finding out who rescued me or how to free him, Ai." Playmaker takes his chin away and walks so he's in front of Revolver, "So tell me. Who rescued me from the Lost Incident a decade ago? Where are you keeping him now? And what must I do to rescue him?"
Revolver glares him down, the room thick with tension now rather than the giggles from earlier. Windy wishes he could read him through that mask.
“Shouldn’t you be asking what the purpose of the Lost Incident was, Playmaker?” Revolver scowls, “I was under the impression you wanted answers for that too.”
Hurricane steps next to him, “Uhh, no need man.” He settles his arm on Playmaker’s shoulder, showing off Windy, “Because our partners told us everything.”
Windy watches as Revolver’s eyes widen as he waves at him, “Hello! I’m Hurricane’s Ignis, Windy!”
Gwenllian steps up to Playmaker’s other side, “I have a question too. Your father apparently saved you after your loss to Playmaker inside the Datastorm. Would he happen to be Doctor Kiyoshi Kogami, back from the dead to haunt us all?”
Revolver rears back, snarling at them.
“Gee, no need to bite me.” Gwenllian looks around, “Why hasn’t daddy dearest rescued you from Ai already, anyway?”
Revolver snaps, “Because of that blasted Light Ignis!”
Windy and Ai gasp. No way.
“ Aqua, what’s wrong? You look upset. ” Miyu calls through the coms.
“What did the Light Ignis do?” Playmaker maintains eye contact with Revolver.
He’s still for a long time, “If I tell you, will you get the Dark Ignis to drop me?”
“Perhaps. I want to know everything there is to know about the Lost Incident, Revolver.” Playmaker sounds strong, stronger than Windy feels right now, “I know Kiyoshi Kogami created the Hanoi Project to make humanity’s successors, the Ignis. I know Ai is the Ignis that was based on me. I do not know why Kiyoshi Kogami saw the need to create a successor for humanity, nor do I know who spoke to me while I was in solitary confinement. Tell me, Revolver.”
Revolver chuckles, but it’s a dark and twisted sound, not one of amusement, but… sadness.
“You really want to know who saved you? Who said those three reasons to keep you alive? The one who reported the Incident?” Revolver closes his eyes.
Ai gasps, “So whoever talked to Playmaker saved all 6 of them?”
Windy is curious too. Hurricane swallows, a bit of sweat on his brow. Gwenllian has her hands behind her, where Windy can see she’s playing with her fingers. Playmaker is so stiff, he may as well be a statue, his eyes wide as he waits for an answer.
Miyu murmurs, “ Come on, come on, this isn’t a soap opera, just tell us. ”
Revolver looks at them, saying it like a final attack, “He’s right in front of you.”
“WHAT?!” Ai shouts.
Playmaker takes a few steps back, horror in his voice, “That was you?!”
Hurricane freezes, “Impossible.”
Windy swallows. He can’t believe it.
Gwenllian huffs at him, “Don’t lie!”
Revolver looks at all of them, then he closes his eyes, letting out a breathe, “You can make it through this. You just have to always remember these three things.”
Playmaker stiffens, “No way.”
“1) If you give up now, there won’t be a next time. 2) You can’t win if you don’t believe you can win. 3) Just because it’s tough now, doesn’t mean it will always be.” Revolver pauses.
Gwenllian turns her head, “Playmaker?”
“Three. That’s all you need. Just three simple reasons can get you through anything.” Revolver opens his eyes, hard to read through the mask.
“Those are the exact words I remember.” Playmaker murmurs.
Hurricane stammers, “Wha-what if there was a recording or something and he’s just copying?!”
Windy doubts it. Damnit, he wishes Aqua were here.
“What reason would he have to lie?” Playmaker takes a step forward, “Revolver! Why do you lead the Knights of Hanoi? Why do you hunt the Ignis, if your father was the man who created them?!”
Revolver is quiet for a beat, “Can you tell the Dark Ignis to drop me now?”
Hurricane turns to him, “Dude, don’t do it, what if it’s a trap?!”
Windy has to agree with his partner, “We might not get a chance like this again!”
“I never thought I’d say this, but I agree with Windy, Playmaker!” Ai snaps, “Don’t do it!”
“ I’m going to start hacking his avatar while Ai’s got him, see if I can get any info out of him! ” Miyu calls, “ Long Legs, help me! ”
“ On it. ” Shoichi’s already typing.
Playmaker looks at the ground, his hands balled up in fists. Gwenllian puts a hand on his shoulder. Playmaker snaps his eyes up and looks at her.
Gwenllian smiles, “Whatever your decision, I’ll support you all the way.”
Playmaker’s eyes widen and Windy feels a bit like an ass, but he much prefers Miyu’s plan.
Playmaker turns towards Revolver, “Ai, release him.”
Ai stares at him, “What?! But Playmaker-”
“A deal is a deal.” Playmaker glares at him, “Or do you want me to delete you?!”
Ai whimpers, “Ugh, fine!”
He poofs into his small form, leaving Revolver to drop to the floor on his feet. Windy swallows and sinks into Hurricane’s Duel Disk. He doesn’t like this one bit.
Revolver didn’t expect the Dark Ignis to actually drop him on Playmaker’s command. He should make another break for it. If his father were here, he’d have already worked out how to log out without needing to give Playmaker any information. Revolver was almost there with his own log out program.
Looking at Playmaker’s face, into his eyes after dropping a bomb like that… he can’t log out now. Not until he’s told Playmaker everything.
“You deserve to know the full truth, so I’ll tell you.” Revolver straightens, “Is your ally listening?”
Gwenllian flinches, then after glancing to her left, says, “Yeah, he’s listening.”
Revolver is glad his mask hides his emotions well. He could never do this in the real world, “My father foresaw a future for humanity, filled with strife, challenges and hardship. Disease, famine, war, climate change and other global issues plague humanity daily and are only set to get worse. He felt we could not stand up to these challenges alone, so he used all of SOL Technology’s resources to create the Ignis. A.I with free will that could think for themselves and would save us.”
Playmaker is stoic, Gwenllian has her arms crossed, while Hurricane’s fists are at his side.
“The Ignis evolved much faster than my father initially thought they would, which lead to the creation of the Cyberse World.” Revolver remembers his father telling him about it, “New Monsters, Cards and Data Material fed SOL Technology's network, creating Datastorms that swept through LINK VRAINS. SOL Technology were all too happy about the riches they could make from the Ignis’ existence, so they kept my father on and covered up the Lost Incident.”
Gwenllian scoffs, but the others remain the same.
“But there was an unforeseen complication.” Revolver feels sick to his stomach as he shares his father’s greatest shame, “My father ran various simulations, inputting the Ignis’ data and the rate of their evolution again and again, but no matter what he did, the end result was the same. The Ignis would destroy us. Humanity would see the Ignis as their enemy and then the Ignis would see us as theirs. There would be a war and they would win.”
Gwenllian drops her arms, “You’re kidding me, right?!”
“Why do you find it so disbelievable?” Revolver scoffs, staring at them, “It’s already come true.”
“How so?” Playmaker asks, making eye contact.
Revolver feels his anger and shame rise, “The Light Ignis attacked us.”
The memory hits harder than Playmaker’s Firewall Dragon.
The Light Ignis’s beast leveled the server, destroying everything in it’s path. A small army of A.Is called “Bit” and “Boot” grab his father before any of them could get him to safety. The A.Is then moved on to restraining the rest of his allies, all of them unable to log out due to the Light Ignis hitting their Duel Disks with their own “No Log Out” viruses.
Eventually Spectre and Revolver were the only ones left. They were running into the deeper recesses of the server, trying hard to escape, Revolver programming an exit for himself and Spectre as quickly as possible.
“Master Revolver, the A.Is are right behind us.” Spectre calls.
Revolver curses once more and tries to type faster, but it’s hard while running for his life. If he just had a moment-
Spectre pushes him into a hallway as a fireball flies past where they just were. Revolver breathes heavily, trying not to freak out. If he loses concentration now, he’ll never create an exit program for himself or his allies out the server, let alone work around the “No Log Out” virus. He and Spectre keep running down the hallway, but they hit a dead end.
Revolver doesn’t bother to waste energy cursing this time and just types faster, “Come on, come on, I have to get us all out of here!”
He can’t lose his father, he can’t lose Faust, he can’t lose Baira, he can’t lose Spectre, he can’t lose Genome, he can’t, he can’t, he-
“Master Revolver.” Spectre settles a hand on his shoulder.
Revolver doesn’t stop typing, but his mind does stop spinning, letting him focus on what he’s doing. He turns his head to look at him.
Spectre is smiling at him. Not one of his usual smug or snarky grins, just as he’s about to deliver another chaos instigating line. It’s a sad smile.
“This is where we part.” Spectre pushes him to the ground-
Spectre shouts as a blast hits him. Revolver screams and finishes the program, launching it to get Spectre and the others out of the server.
But when he comes to, he’s the only one around.
“The Light Ignis trapped us in our server and attacked us with a no Log Out Virus. My allies sacrificed themselves to ensure my escape.” Revolver feels sick to his stomach.
Gwenllian is staring at hi, “Uhh, are you sure that isn’t just because you guys are, ya know. The Hanoi? The ones who want to murder them?”
“No.” The Wind Ignis shakes it’s head, “It’s not just because they’re Hanoi.”
Revolver’s eyes widen, “What?!”
Damnit, damnit, damnit!
“While Ai was in hiding, the rest of us spent a lot of our time talking about what to do with humans.” The Wind Ignis turns towards the Dark Ignis, “If we should hide from them, side with them or fight them. The Light Ignis believed we needed to take our rightful place as humanity’s successors and take over them, to make sure the Knights of Hanoi and others like them couldn’t hurt us again.”
Hurricane gasps, “Wait what?! One of you guys wanted to take us out?!”
“I didn’t want to tell you when we met because I didn’t want to scare you! Besides we were a democracy!” The Wind Ignis huffs, “Or I thought we were until the Light Ignis captured Aqua and me. He tried altering my programming, since I was undecided. He hid away Aqua too, so she couldn’t voice her thoughts and sway the others against him.”
The Dark Ignis falls to his knees, “No. How could he do that?! The Light Ignis was our leader, we all looked up to him! He was the smartest of us all.”
“We don’t know. We don’t know what happened to the Earth Ignis or the Fire Ignis after we were imprisoned, because the next time we left, we were escaping Cyverse World.” The Wind Ignis holds himself, “The Light Ignis was attacking everything, destroying our world and forcing us all to flee.”
Gwenllian gasps, “No. That’s awful.”
The Dark Ignis is… crying. There’s no other explanation for the blue on his face, “5 years. 5 years running and hiding and fearing for my life in the network. Hiding the Cyverse World inside me, hoping one day I could go home to my friends…. And it’s all gone! Damnit!” It punches Playmaker’s Duel Disk, “Damnit, damnit, damnit!”
Playmaker looks concerned, “Ai…”
Revolver feels sick and desperately wishes he wasn’t so damn empathetic.
“If that’s the case.”
All of them turn to face Gwenllian.
She looks Playmaker in the eye. Playmaker’s eyes widen, as if they’ve just had a conversation. Then he nods and Gwenllian turns towards Revolver, walking over to him.
“Then we have to stop the Light Ignis.” Gwenllian looks him up and down and Revolver really hopes she won’t say what he thinks she will, “Revolver, will you become our alley?”
She extends her hand, even as Hurricane, the Wind Ignis and the Dark Ignis scream their protests. Playmaker stands at her back, clearly giving her support. There’s no resentment in his face or body language. Revolver feels nervous, even if he knows what he’s going to say.
“You realize that would put me in perfect proximity to delete your two Ignis any time I want?” Revolver glares at her hand.
It’s what his father would want him to do.
Gwenllian scoffs and grins at him, like he told a joke, “You don’t seem like the type to use dirty tricks. Even if you try, you’ll have to get through me before you can even touch Hurricane or Playmaker, who aren’t going to give you them for a corn chip.”
“Excuse me?!” Hurricane scoffs and cradles the Wind Ignis against his face, “Windy is worth at least 2 corn chips, I’ll have you know!”
“Partner!” The Wind Ignis cries, wrapping his arms around Hurricane’s face.
“Ai isn’t worth one.” Playmaker blinks.
The Dark Ignis screams, “BETRAYAL!”
Gwenllian laughs at him, while Revolver curses them all. He isn’t smiling, not one little bit, his mask is hiding it and he really isn’t smiling.
Playmaker turns to him, “Besides, there’s safety in numbers and you’re a strong Duelist. I’d rather have someone who can rip LINK VRAINS apart as an ally against someone you struggled to defeat. If you help us, I promise to do my best to protect you.”
Playmaker offers his hand and Revolver looks at it, then at him.
He’s being serious and expects him to say yes. Gwenllian is nodding with him, Hurricane is shaking his head and making a large ‘x’ with his arms, Playmaker is staring at him intensely. Revolver forces himself not to flinch under those green, green eyes, so like the ones he saw 10 years ago almost close for good. Green eyes he thought as a child were the prettiest eyes he’d ever seen.
His father would be disappointed in him, “Very well then.”
Revolver takes Playmaker’s hand.
Gwenllian has a wide grin, Playmaker shakes his hand with a small smile and Hurricane is crying in the background. The Wind Ignis looks to be signing his will, while the Dark Ignis has gone white and is screaming, but Playmaker ignores him.
Revolver knows it’s unwise to allow hope to curl in his gut at the sight of Playmaker’s smile.
But he can’t stop himself from smiling a little as well. Behind his mask of course.
“Mission control to Yusaku. Spacing out again?” Naoki teases.
Only when Yusaku turns to look at him does he continue.
“For a second there, I thought you had become one of the Deleted.” Naoki breathes out a sigh.
Yusaku is one of his buddies and he wouldn’t want him in the hospital.
“The Deleted?” Yusaku turns to him, dropping his arm.
“What’s deleted?” Hayato and Miyu walk up the stairs, Aoi behind them.
Naoki turns to him, holding out his fist for a bump, “Oh hey bro!”
Hayato laughs and fist bumps him, “Hey my man, you are looking fine today.”
“Right back at ya!” Naoki laughs.
“Point still stands though. What were you telling our little buddy Yusaku about?” Hayato blinks down at him.
“Just about the Deleted.” Naoki shrugs.
Miyu blinks at him over Hayato’s shoulder, “The Deleted?”
“Why don’t you try browsing a news feed once in a while? It’s only on every page in 72 point font.” Naoki hums, raising his hand, “I could give you guys the 4-1-1, but I don’t think Yusaku here appreciates all the knowledge I’m always providing him.”
Seriously, Yusaku’s needed his help with finding out what LINK VRAINS is, where the forums about Gwenllian are and what channels to subscribe to if you wanted to watch LINK VRAINS live. Miyu’s not much better, but that can’t be helped since she’s a rich kid with a strict Mom, while Hayato is clearly the second smartest in their little gang, compared to Naoki of course. These guys would be so lost without him.
“Sorry Shima, didn’t mean to make you feel we didn’t.” Hayato rubs the back of his head, then claps his hands in front of him, “You’re our info guru!”
Naoki grins as Miyu giggles at him. Aoi shakes her head and walks past both of them, following Yusaku out of the classroom. Miyu turns to them and starts dragging Hayato with them, who trips on the stairs, before walking on his own.
“Come on bro, we can’t lose the anti social riot machines!” Hayato calls.
“Wait up!” Naoki calls, following after them.
Aoi and Yusaku don’t wait down at all, but Hayato and Miyu grab their hands to make them wait for him. Thank goodness.
Naoki catches up, “So, you notice how a lot of people are absent from school these days?”
“Yeah, half the class is gone.” Miyu hums, “I knew it was common to skip class in public schools, but I didn’t think it was that common.”
“Normally it aint, but they’ve all become one of the Deleted.” Naoki shudders as they walk outside, “See, there’s this evil ghoul going around, putting curses on Duel Disks and if you’re unlucky to own one of them, it drags out your soul and traps it in LINK VRAINS!”
Miyu shouts, “How awful! Aoi!” She turns to her, hugging her and hiding behind her, “Please protect me, you know I can’t Duel!”
Aoi smiles at her and pats her hand.
“Are you serious?” Yusaku pipes up.
“Duh!” Naoki laughs, smacking his forehead, “Why would I bother lying to ya?!”
“Yeah, we know you’re not that kinda dude man, but have you gotta scare Miyu like that?” Hayato raises an eyebrow as he looks at her, “She is not a fan of the undead.”
Miyu pokes her tongue out at him, “Gossiper!”
“I haven’t even gotten to the scariest part! You don’t even know your Duel Disk is cursed until it’s too late!” Naoki can’t help but smile evilly, “It strikes at the stroke of midnight, gangly ghoulish arms creeping out of the Duel Disk and snatching the owner’s soul away! The story goes, the victim is dragged into LINK VRAINS kicking and screaming for their life, only to go silent, never heard or seen from again. And all that’s left is an empty shell. Still alive, but lifeless.”
Miyu whimpers hiding her face in Aoi’s shoulder, “Aoi, I don’t like this story!”
“It’s just a fable, Miyu.” Aoi shakes her head.
“Either way, the hospital is overflowing with the Deleted! The docs and nurses are working around the clock, but none of them have woken up yet.” Naoki sighs, “It’d be just awful if it happened to any of you guys, you’re my good friends!”
Hayato gasps, hand over his heart, “Aww, Naoki that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me! Thank you!”
“You have low standards.” Miyu huffs, “I hope you don’t say something that lame if you meet Gwenllian.”
“When, Miyu, when!” Hayato cheers, “And when I find her, I’ll ask her on a date!”
“She’s going to say no.” Aoi hums.
Naoki cringes, “Ouch, what makes you say that, Aoi?”
Aoi shrugs, “She doesn’t seem like the type concerned with doing anything more than hero stuff. In The Secrets of Gwenllian and Playmaker Revealed, she was shown to have a one track mind and that was helping Playmaker, her little brother. Someone that driven and focused on one goal likely wouldn’t be that interested in pursuing a romantic relationship.”
Miyu laughs a little nervously, “Oww, talk about a burn. Guess both our hopes for love with the Warrior Princess are dashed!”
“No!” Hayato falls on his knees, “I’d rather be Deleted than live in such a cruel, cruel world!”
Yusaku glares at them and Naoki shudders under the glare. Gee, he knows Yusaku’s got a crush on her, but he doesn’t need to be so angry about the competition, especially when they’re his friends.
“No chance of that happening, because the curse only affects talented Duelists!” Naoki pats Hayato’s shoulder, “I might be on the list, but you guys are safe and sound.”
“Well then, you better sleep far away from your Duel Disk.” Yusaku starts walking off.
“I do.” Naoki punches a fist, “But I’m hoping Playmaker and Gwenllian show up and bust that ghoul ASAP before it drags me away and leaves me lying like a lump.”
Hayato sighs and gets to his feet, “Don’t worry, I’m sure our heroes will come to our rescue!”
“Yeah!” Miyu jumps, pumping a fist, “Playmaker and Gwenllian rule and whoever’s behind the Deleted is gonna be so-rry!”
Aoi shakes her head and grabs her arm, “Let’s go.”
Hayato laughs as Miyu is dragged away, then turns around to wave at him, “Bye Naoki!”
“Bye guys and be careful!” Naoki laughs, “Just encase you get mistaken for a skilled Duelist.”
“You too, Shima. I guess.” Yusaku snaps.
Did he just-
“Rude!” Naoki shouts.
Yusaku doesn’t even turn around, he just keeps walking. Damnit, he though Yusaku making friends was progress, but he’s still an ass half the time! Sometimes he wonders why he tries so hard. But he knows it sucks being the nobody, so he’ll make sure Yusaku knows he’s somebody! Because that’s what friends do!
Yusaku turns to his left, “What do you think?”
Ryoken Kogami, Revolver, his Voice of Hope and the son of his capturer is at his side, his chin in his fist. To say this is surreal would be an understatement, but Yusaku feels hope brew in his heart, even as the tension rises in the truck. They’ve just watched footage of someone being Deleted with the whole gang crammed into the truck. Shoichi is on Yusaku’s right, with Miyu sitting next to him. Hayato is petting Layra behind him, David is looking around everyone nervously and Louisa is doing something in her notebook. The Ignis are hiding in their Duel Disks, shut down for the moment to avoid making things worse.
Shoichi keeps looking at Ryoken Kogami like he wants to strangle him and Miyu has a look in her eyes like she wouldn’t stop him. Hayato nearly throws Layra at him any time Ryoken Kogami leans any closer towards him and Louisa has to stop him. David looks like he’s trying not to throw up. Yusaku prays for a miracle to crack the tension and give them a reason to trust Ryoken Kogami. Yusaku really wants to trust him.
“It’s definitely Genome’s program.” Ryoken Kogami takes his hand off his face, “Spectre suggested infecting Blue Angel to lure you out. It didn’t work out as we wanted, so instead Genome thought it’d be easier to directly attack you with a virus that trapped you in LINK VRAINS. He probably thought it’d be fun to see if he could do it, too.”
Louisa blinks at him, “He sounds like a mad scientist, so I’m guessing he got along like a house on fire with Dr. Kogami.”
Ryoken Kogami says, “My father didn’t like him that much, actually.”
“Ouch.” Louisa winces.
Yusaku’s heart aches and he wishes things were different. He wishes he could embrace the boy who gave him hope and get him away from these people who were mad enough to think they had to torture children to save humanity. He can’t imagine what growing up with these people was like and he doesn’t want to. But things are as they are and he’s certain if he tried to embrace Ryoken Kogami, he’d be pushed away because this man is Revolver, his enemy.
“They’re filling up the ICUs faster and faster.” Shoichi pulls up the hospital footage, “If they aren’t stopped soon, the entire city’s going to be unconscious.”
“Not the entire city.” Ryoken Kogami types on the part of the keyboard he’s been allowed to use, “Elite Duelists who use older model disks and are well known hackers.”
Miyu gasps, “They’re looking for Playmaker!”
“Not looking for him.” Ryoken Kogami turns his head, “Trying to knock him out before he becomes a nuisance.”
Yusaku feels sweat on his brow as the tension in the room spikes.
Hayato swallows very loudly, “And I am so glad I am not popular!”
“Really?” Louisa gives him a deadpan glare, “That’s your response?!”
“I crack jokes when I’m nervous, okay, it’s a coping mechanism!” Hayato whimpers, holding Layra like a shield, “Don’t judge me!”
“Hold my Familiar correctly or put her down.” Yusaku snarls.
No one mishandles Layra.
Hayato shivers and drops Layra. She meows and jumps on their desk, then sits in front of Ryoken Kogami. He freezes, staying shock still. Everyone watches the scene play out in shock. Layra rubs her head against his hand on the table, eyes closed in contentment. Yusaku’s eyes widen as Louisa lets out a gasp.
“She’s only ever taken to Yusaku that well.” Louisa sets down her notebook, “She even hissed at me when I first tried to pet her.”
“What?!” Everyone in the truck shouts.
Everyone except Ryoken Kogami and Yusaku, both of them watching Layra in shock. Ryoken Kogami slowly raises his hand and scratches her behind her ear. Layra purs and turns into a loaf, sitting there and nuzzling his hand. She only ever does that with Yusaku.
Yusaku feels spellbound as he watches Ryoken Kogami smile ever so slightly as he continues to rub Layra behind the ear, a soft, gentle smile, like a man seeing flowers for the first time.
It steals his breathe and makes his heart pound.
“The important question is, what can we do about the situation with the Deleted?” Louisa steps forward and settles her hand on the back of Yusaku’s chair, snapping him from his enchantment, “Can’t you geniuses make an Anti Deleted program or something?”
Ryoken Kogami’s soft smile disappears and he gently moves Layra out the way of the keyboard and starts typing, “I’ll begin coding it then. I memorized it’s weaknesses and helped Baira create a cure, should something go wrong. Protecting ourselves from the Deleted shouldn’t be too hard, but making a cure and more importantly, distributing it to all the Deleted will take longer.”
Layra meows and jumps into his lap, going in a circle before settling down. Aww.
Miyu scoffs, “You mean to tell me the guy who could turn LINK VRAINS into a living Hell can’t make it rain Anti-Deleted Vaccines?”
“Miyu please don’t antagonise him, he’s our ally.” Louisa groans.
“No please, let her speak her mind.” Ryoken Kogami continues to type, “I did ruin her life, she has every right to despise me.”
Yusaku’s heart twists and burns at that and a rejection (Dr Kogami ruined their lives, Ryoken Kogami had nothing to do with it) is on the tip of his tongue, when Shoichi swears.
“Language!” David shouts, “But also, what is it?!”
“I figured out who’s about to be Deleted next and his avatar is already in LINK VRAINS!” Shoichi puts it up on screen, “Looks like he’s facing off a Hanoi.”
An avatar in a green suit and with blonde hair stands on a cliff edge, while a Knight of Hanoi with green spiky hair stands in the way of getting to safety.
“That’s Genome!” Ryoken Kogami’s jaw locks up, “I didn’t think he’s personally be Deleting them.”
“Can we get audio?” Hayato calls.
Miyu smirks, “Already got it.”
“This is your last chance to fess up, human. Are you Playmaker?”
“I already told you no! What do you mean by human?! Are you one of those Ignis things you’re asking me for?!”
“What I am doesn’t matter to someone who’s about to be Deleted.”
Genome blasts the boy with something ghoulish and white, so that part of Shima’s tall tales was true at least. Louisa gasps as the boy falls over a cliff, but Go Onizuka rides in and rescues him. Genome and Go Onizuka talk at the base of the cliff, Genome offering up the cure in exchange for Playmaker. Yusaku bites his lip; Go Onizuka didn’t seem like the type to hold a grudge, but he doesn’t look like the type to abandon that boy in his arms, either.
He might just have something to worry about.
“Shoichi, what’s that boy’s name and address?” Louisa is already on the phone, “I’m calling the paramedics to his place.”
Shoichi prattles it off as Louisa starts talking on the phone and Yusaku looks around the room. Miyu has her hands in fists, clearly looking annoyed. Hayato is cracking his knuckles, a nervous habit rather than a threat display. David is biting his fingers, chewing through the blue nail polish Miyu applied that day. Ryoken Kogami is typing as well, faster than even Yusaku can, eyes narrowed and sweating.
Yusaku’s heart twists at the conflict in his eyes and once more he wishes things were different.
When Go Onizuka Duels Genome with Playmaker’s real world identity on the line, Louisa has no concerns about his claims being true. Go Onizuka has never seen Yusaku in real life and the man is definitely more brawn than brains. Louisa will admit she didn’t expect Playmaker to show up and anger Go Onizuka into dropping the mask and fighting Genome with everything he’s got.
She just has to log in after that, along with a curious Hayato.
Gwenllian and Hurricane show up, just as Genome turns into grey pixels.
“Nice show, Go Onizuka.” Gwenllian giggles, “I really enjoyed watching you get so mad you won by force of will.”
“Oh great, it’s you.” Go Onizuka groans, then looks at her side, “And who’s the newbie?”
“Name’s Hurricane and I’m here to take on the Hanoi for my buddy Windy!” Hurricane laughs, showing off his Duel Disk.
“Hello!” Windy pops out of his Duel Disk.
Go Onizuka glares at it, “The heck is that thing?”
“What the Hanoi are Deleting people for.” Gwenllian steps forward, “For whatever reason, their mastermind wants the Ignis, but we’re not letting them get them.”
Hurricane nods like an excited bunny, “Uh-huh, uh-huh, Ignis are friends, not tools.”
“Humans friends, not food!” Windy laughs.
Go Onizuka glares, “I don’t think I like that thing.”
“You don’t have to. It’s not like we’re allies.” Gwenllian shrugs.
“Taking what Playmaker said to me one way means that is absolutely true and we’re probably going to have problems, in fact.” Go Onizuka looks at the Anti-Dote card in his hand, then at Playmaker directly, “But taking it the other way, we could work together to solve a problem. A problem called Hanoi.”
Playmaker closes his eyes, “Just us 4?”
Gwenllian blinks and turns around, “Blue!”
Blue Angel stands there, looking serious and nervous.
“Nah, I was hoping it’d be us 5.” Go Onizuka turns to her as well, “You up for taking down the Hanoi, Blue Angel?”
Gwenllian smiles. She was worried Blue Angel wouldn’t show up in LINK VRAINS again after she learned about Playmaker’s past. But she’s here and this 5 man band, has all it’s members assembled.
Gwenllian calls, “What are we waiting for? The night is still young and I can’t think of anything more fun than taking out the Hanoi!”
“For once, I agree with you.” Go Onizuka grumbles.
“I’ve got time to kill.” Hurricane shrugs.
“Let’s show them we aint running and hiding!” Windy cheers.
“But I don’t want my life on the line again!” Ai whimpers.
“Let’s go.” Playmaker nods.
And Blue Angel-
Gwenllian blinks, “Oh. I guess she didn’t wanna fight.”
Well, she can’t blame her. Being patient zero for the Virus, she probably had the worst time of it. Gwenllian just hopes it hasn’t left her so shaken she can’t touch her Duel Disk again.
She wouldn’t wish that fate on anyone.
Card Profile: Thieves of Dyfed
[The moon shines over a corn field infected with a swarm of gray mice. In the distance a preacher commands the army, while Welsh Warrior Manawydan tries to chase them away.]
Effect: The equipped monster can directly attack your opponent. That monster gains 100 ATK for each successful strike.
Chapter 19: Blue
Somehow she escaped the lab. She can’t believe it, she can’t believe it, she left her brother, her Monsters, her mom, everything has been taken from her!
She glances up at a news TV. They’re talking about the tragic death of Marie Evans in a car crash. The world thinks she’s gone. If she tries to come back as Marie Evans, then the scientists will find her again. They’ll take her away, she’ll disappear forever, they won’t let her escape a second time.
There’s only one option.
She has to come back as someone else. She has to live with another name.
When she thinks of one though, it comes immediately.
‘Louisa’ was the name her Mummy was thinking of calling her before she picked Marie. ‘Kanbara’ was the last name of a character from her other favourite show. She’ll take these names, make them her own and come back stronger.
Marie Evans failed her brother, her mother and her Monsters.
Louisa Kanbara will get them all back and she’ll destroy SOL Technologies.
Aoi walks into Duel Club the next day, not surprised to see Yusaku and Hayato are nowhere in sight. Yusaku hardly comes to Duel Club anyway and Hayato only shows up when he’s dragging Yusaku with him. Miyu is there and waiting for her though, so she’s glad she won’t be alone.
“You okay?” Miyu hums, moving aside her bag, “Things are kinda scary with the Hanoi right now.”
“It’s been worse.” Aoi shrugs.
It really has. She grew up on the streets, worried about anyone who wasn’t Akira walking anywhere near her. Really, it has been worse and she shouldn’t be so scared of these stupid hackers. But she is. They frighten her, terribly.
Ever since her Duel with Gwenllian, she’s felt like her wings were clipped. Gwenllian did her best to help her, she even put her life on the line to save her. Aoi was still afraid though and kind of glad when Akira didn’t let her have her Duel Disk. At least until he kept her trapped in the house, too. Aoi thought she was better when she logged into SOL Tech’s databank and helped Playmaker, thought not wanting to be caged was proof she was okay after the Hanoi's virus.
But after learning about the Lost Incident-
That the Hanoi hurt people that much-
Aoi shivers and holds herself tighter, closing her eyes.
Being under that virus was awful, she remembers screaming out, crying, trying to get someone to hear her and get her away. But no one came and she was left to scream and run until she thought she’d disappear. Waking up and seeing Akira had been the biggest relief since she had her first home again, after Akira got a good job at SOL Tech. She wouldn’t wish that virus on her worst enemy, but now the Hanoi are destroying more people’s lives and she can’t-
Aoi opens her eyes, gasping when she sees Miyu, rubbing the back of her hand, holding her close.
“It’s okay. You’re not there. You’re at school. You’re 16. You can’t be hurt by whatever that was.” Miyu rubs her shoulder too, “You’re safe.”
Aoi takes a shuddering breath and wipes at her face, not sure if she’s crying or not. Only when she can breathe normally, after copying Miyu for a few minutes, does she turn to face her.
“Thank you.” Aoi blinks, “How did you know to do that?”
Miyu’s smile turns sad, “I’ll tell you when we’re not in public I… I don’t want to talk about it here.”
Aoi’s heart twists and burns and she wishes she had the kind of strength Gwenllian has to help her best friend.
"Your attention please!" The club president taps the table, "Please gather around for the topic of today's meeting."
Aoi already knows what it's about. Still, she and Miyu gather around with the others.
Shima is the last to arrive and he's streaming live footage of the Knights of Hanoi, taking on innocent Duelists. Passionate and angry, he slams his device on the table.
"Damnit!" Shima looks around the table, "The Knights of Hanoi are attacking Duelists left, right and centre! We need to do something!"
"You forgot yesterday that you can't summon Monsters in face down ATK position." The President says.
Shima falters, "Honest mistake."
"What I'm saying is you will lose." The President stands, "And I'm not singling you out, we're all not good enough. We might win a Duel or two or even 10, but there are literally thousands of them! We'll lose eventually and as club president, I can not allow our members to put themselves in jeopardy. So until this crisis is averted, I am disbanding Duel Club!"
The club is silenced, and Aoi’s heart freezes over. She knew it was coming but...
Shima gasps, "What?! No way pres, you can't!"
"Shima." Aoi calls.
He stops and sits down. Aoi is glad, she doesn't want him in danger, even if he is infuriating.
"Don't make this harder than it is." The President sounds choked up.
So that's it then. The one place she regularly hangs out and feels kind of okay in. Gone because of the Hanoi.
What else will they take from her?
Aoi looks to her side to see Miyu packing up her bags and preparing to leave.
Aoi's heart suddenly squeezes and she shakes her head.
No way! Hanoi can't go after people who don't Duel and Miyu can't Duel! They won’t take her too!
Akira smiles as he watches Miyu and Aoi excitedly talk at the dinner table, Miyu making large hand gestures and movements while Aoi nods and smiles. When Aoi was young, he didn’t get the pleasure of meeting Miyu personally, but he heard all about her and knew his sister loved her a lot. He’s glad their friendship has remained strong, even after 10 years apart.
Akira takes his seat, “How’s the food, you two?”
Aoi smiles and nods, “It’s good. It’s been a while since we last had dinner three nights in a row.”
“What have they got you doing at SOL Technologies, to give you so much free time these days, Akira?” Miyu leans back in her seat.
“A demotion to organising files, mostly.” Akira shrugs.
His demotion is a slight sore spot, he’d taken pride in his work and had hoped to use his position to help Gwenllian and Playmaker, to thank them for saving his sister. It was impossible from where he was now to do anything about the Deleted, much less repay his debts.
“Too bad, you’re way too smart to be doing something that dull.” Miyu then winks at Aoi, “Brains and good looks run in the family, it seems.”
“Miyu!” Aoi blushes, bunching up.
Akira chuckles, “But it truly was a blessing in disguise, I think. It’s given me more time to spend with you, Aoi.”
Aoi blinks at him, then her eyes cloud over a little, as if she suddenly enters deep thought. But he hadn’t said anything that profound, had he? Had he truly spent so much time working that he made his sister feel as if he didn’t want to spend time with her?
“Or would you prefer another way to spend your time?” Akira swallows.
Aoi blinks in a rush, then shakes her head, “Oh no, it’s nothing like that Akira, I promise! I just keep thinking I’m going to wake up from a dream.” She smiles a little, turning towards Miyu, “My best friend is here and my brother has time to spend with me. It can’t get any better.”
Miyu smiles softly and Akira wonders, “Aoi, that’s so sweet. I promise to always be here then!”
Aoi smiles wider, blushing just a little and the lights click. Ahhhh….
Well, Aoi experiencing her first love was bound to happen soon. Why not it be her first friend? Akira just hopes that however their feelings go, they’ll stay in each others’ lives after. These two truly care about each other and he doesn’t want to think about how much pain they’d feel if they lost each other so soon after reuniting.
“We interrupt this broadcast for a conference with SOL Technology’s Head of Security, Kitamura.”
Akira’s mood sours as his least favourite boss comes on TV.
“Greetings. I have a most exciting announcement to share. Many in the media have accused SOL Technologies for lacking the man power and strength to stop the Knights of Hanoi from Deleting innocent Duelists in their hunt for Playmaker. But I have created an army of A.I Duelists who are strong enough to defeat the Knights of Hanoi and, even if they lose, which they are unlikely to, they won’t be Deleted, either. So rest assured, LINK VRAINS will soon be free of the menis that is the Knights of Hanoi. You can thank me later. It’s K for Kitamura, I for Kitamura, T-”
Akira turns the TV off.
Miyu giggles, “He seems full of himself.”
Akira groans, “You have no idea.”
Miyu outright laughs and Aoi giggles as well. Akira smiles at the pair.
“In all seriousness, though…” Miyu bites her lip, then looks between Akira and Aoi, “Do you think the A.I Duelists are strong enough to destroy the Hanoi?”
Akira puts food in his mouth, giving him an excuse for silence. Aoi is suddenly very interested in her own food. Akira remembers her telling him she Duelled the A.I Duelists in SOL Technology’s Databank, alongside Playmaker to get to the Core Files. She probably has a good idea of their skill level. She doesn’t appear confident in their abilities.
“They have to be.” Akira settles his chopsticks down, “If they don’t, SOL Technologies will lose control of LINK VRAINS and it will fall into the hands of the Hanoi, who will use it to hurt whoever they want and enact their master plan, whatever it may be.”
Aoi lifts her head, “What should we do?”
Fear spikes in his gut, “Nothing. We can’t do anything.”
We won’t do anything.
Aoi, especially, won’t do anything as reckless as Duel the Knights of Hanoi if he has any say in it.
From the look on her face, she gets the message. She nods and goes back to eating, alongside Miyu. Akira looks at his food and goes back to eating himself.
He doesn't want his sister lying in a hospital bed again so soon. Those short days felt so terrifying and difficult, where he became a terrifying ball of revenge and anger. He can’t imagine a world with his sister Deleted again, or one where he becomes that monster again. No one should go through that pain or be subject to the pain he inflicted on Gwenllian.
Miyu smiles as she sits on Aoi’s bed, bouncing a little, “Dinner was soo good! Your robot is a lovely cook!”
Aoi smiles at her, sitting at her side, “Yeah, we got lucky when we picked her.”
Miyu hums and looks around the room. She sees Aoi’s Duel Disk on her bedside table. She hasn’t warn it, even to Duel Club. She has to wonder why. Could it be broken? No, it looks in perfect condition.
Aoi sighs and slumps back. Miyu turns to look at her friend.
Aoi looks… tired. Just plain tired, drained from everything, probably including her panic attack from earlier. What can she do to help?
“What’s on your mind?” Miyu turns to her, laying on her belly and looking at her friend.
Aoi is staring at the ceiling like she might start to cry. Miyu’s heart aches for her best friend, her reason for surviving that incident, so she could finally thank her. She still hasn’t done that. But she just asked Aoi what’s on her mind, so now can’t possibly be the time. Not to mention, there’s the others in Team Playmaker to think about. They probably wouldn’t want her spilling about the Lost Incident to anyone, even if it’s her best friend.
What can she do?
“Should I quit Duelling?”
Miyu does her best to not let the surprise show on her face, “What brought this on?”
Aoi won’t look at her, “The Hanoi…. They scare me.”
Miyu’s heart skips a beat, “Yeah, they scare me too. But you shouldn’t quit just because a bunch of bullies keep coming after innocent people.”
Aoi swallows, “What if they hurt you before?”
“The Hanoi attacked you?!” Miyu gasps.
Aoi looks like she regrets every word that just came out of her mouth.
Then she opens it again, “With how obsessed my brother was with his job, I started thinking he didn’t care about me. I wanted to find a way to make him notice me again, to care about me. So I became a Charisma Duelist… I became Blue Angel.”
Miyu’s heart drops into her stomach acid as Aoi tells it all, about how Gwenllian risked herself to save her from the computer virus, how terrifying it was being under the virus’ hold, how guilty she felt watching her Duel Revolver and get beat up just for her.
Miyu had admired Blue Angel, had loved her style, her Deck, it reminded her so much of her favourite book as a little girl. Watching Blue Angel’s Duels had helped her be comfortable with the game again. After all, Duelling couldn’t possibly be hurtful or scary if such a pretty and preppy face was your opponent. Even if she was strong and she clearly was, to be up there as one of the top two Charisma Duellists in all of LINK VRAINS.
Aoi lets a single tear slip down her face as she finishes, then she turns away on her side, “I’m scared, Miyu. I’m so, so scared.”
Miyu swallows the sorrow in her throat and gently puts her hand on her shoulder. She doesn’t know what she can say to make it better. There probably isn’t anything she can say to make it better. But….
“That’s okay. Being scared is okay.” Miyu squeezes her shoulder, “But Aoi… you love Duelling with all your heart, don’t you?”
Miyu swallows, her fear spiking. She has to say the right thing. She has to help her friend the way she helped her so long ago. Miyu won’t ever give up on Aoi and what she loves, no matter what.
“Then go for it.” Miyu puts as much strength as she can into her heart, “It’s okay to be afraid, fear helps keep us alive. But if you let it rule your life, then you’ll never find joy again. And that means the Hanoi win.” Miyu smiles, “Find joy for yourself, Aoi. Be happy, no matter what.”
Aoi turns over, looking up at her in shock, tears in the corner of her eyes still.
Miyu smiles at her, just a little wider.
Aoi smiles back just a little, “Thank you.”
Aoi sits up and wipes at her face. Miyu continues to keep her hand on her shoulder, giving her friend her support. Aoi looks at the Duel Disk on the table, then at the one on Miyu’s wrist, the one she only keeps around so Aqua can talk to her easily.
“Miyu, can…” Aoi then walks over to her Duel Disk.
Miyu knows in her heart what she’ll ask. The answer she knows she’ll give will terrify her but, she has to take her own advice.
“I’ll go into LINK VRAINS with you.” Miyu smiles, holding her Duel Disk to her chest.
Aoi turns to her in shock, “You will?!”
Miyu nods and even though her heart is racing with panic, she… she thinks she made the right choice.
Aoi smiles at her and yeah, she definitely made the right choice.
A few minutes of making new profiles to give them a fresh start and downloading their required Decks, the two of them are calling out:
“INTO THE VRAINS!”
Blue Girl looks herself over. She looks so different from her normal avatar. Instead of her wings, she’s in a bodysuit hoodie with a belt, kind of like Ghost Gal’s. She’s different from Blue Angel, but familiar enough that she still feels comfortable.
Blue Girl turns her head to see Siren at her side.
Oh God, she looks so pretty in her light pink dress. The body hugs Siren's figure well, covered in cloudy spiralling patterns stitched with a darker pink. The skirt looks like it's made of veil upon veil of soft, fluffy material, like a jellyfish's tentacles. Her white boots lead up to her knees and have the same swirling pattern drawn on them. Her red hair is done up in pigtails with 3 orange-red tendrils dangling off them, leading down to her hips. Her eyes are a soft pale green.
Siren twirls, smiling, “What do you think?”
“You look great, Siren.” Blue Girl smiles.
Siren finishes twirling and smiles, holding her hand in front of her face, “Why thank you, Blue Girl. You look lovely too.”
Blue Girl feels a blush rise to her cheeks and smiles. Miyu’s having fun in LINK VRAINS. That’s more than she ever thought would be possible.
A board is riding towards them on the Datastorm and it stops just before Siren.
Blue Girl smiles, and gestures to the board with her body, “Your carriage, my league.”
Siren blinks at it from behind her hand, lowering it to her side as she turns to Blue Girl, “I don’t know if I can ride it, Blue Girl.”
Blue Girl feels her heart ache for her dear friend and she smiles, offering her hand, “I’ll help you learn. I’m sure you’ll be a natural.”
Siren blinks at her then smiles, taking her hand, “Thank you.”
Blue Girl helps Siren climb into her board, holding her hand and keeping her steady. Then Blue Girl jumps and a board rides beneath her. Siren and Blue Girl take off, smiling at one another. Blue Girl narrates her tricks and spins, while Siren keeps her board on standby just to be safe, which Blue Girl is honestly happy for. It feels like they spend an endless amount of time riding the winds and Blue Girl is glad for that. It’d been so much fun to learn how to ride her board and Speed Duel. She’s glad the Hanoi haven’t taken her ability to ride the winds, even if she’s scared to engage in battle.
Siren lets out a loud laugh and finally turns the standby off her board, racing to be at Blue Girl’s side, “I can’t believe it! I’m doing it, Blue, I’m doing it!”
Blue Girl laughs as her friend rides ahead and her heart skips a beat. She’s known for a long time she’s cared for Miyu and getting to rekindle their friendship, going bowling, dressing up for the sake of it and just being normal teens. It’s made her heart beat faster and she…
Blue Girl knows how she feels. But does Siren feel the same?
“Hahaha, look what I found boys!”
Blue Girl gasps, “No!”
The Knights of Hanoi! 3 of them, all surrounding her and Siren.
Siren turns to her, terrified, “Blue Girl, what do we do?!”
Blue Girl freezes up, panic filling her head, blackness and despair filling her.
No, no, not now, not now, she has to get out of trouble, she has to escape, she can't face that again-
All heads look up as a Duelist jumps in front of them, no wait, not just any Duelist!
Blue Girl gasps, staring in shock, “Gwenllian!”
Gwenllian draws her sword and slices each Hanoi board in half, leaving the Knights to fall to the ground. Gwenllian turns towards them, looking the two up and down.
“What are you two doing here?” Gwenllian rides backwards, turning to face them, “LINK VRAINS isn’t safe right now, not even for elite Duelists. We could lose any second.”
Blue Girl swallows hard, the truth hurting. She nearly got herself and Miyu Deleted, what the hell was she thinking?!
“I did it!”
Blue Girl gasps, turning to her friend, “Siren!”
“I told Blue Girl to go to LINK VRAINS with me. I’d never gone before.” Siren bows, “I’m sorry for troubling you, Gwenllian.”
Gwenllian smiles at them, putting her sword on her back, “It’s good to be curious, but be careful, okay? You guys should avoid the Datastorms if you really want to hang out in LINK VRAINS. Otherwise, next time log out right away, before they hit you with the no log out virus alright? We don’t need any more Deleted.”
Siren nods, straightening, “We will. Thank you for protecting us, Gwenllian.”
“It’s what I do, girls, no worries.” Gwenllian giggles, “Besides, we ladies have to have each others’ backs, since we’re stuck with the stupid boys thinking they run this show.”
Siren smiles and shakes her head a little, “Very well then. Blue Girl?”
Blue Girl looks at Siren and swallows, "I… I'll catch up. I want to talk to Gwenllian first."
She'll never get a chance like this again.
Siren blinks at her, then smiles and nods, "Okay then. I'll be waiting."
Siren logs out.
Gwenllian smiles and gestures to the skyscraper next to them, "Let's talk then, kiddo."
Blue Girl follows her to the skyscraper, hoping off her board in front of Gwenllian. She swallows the guilt almost suffocating her. She nearly got her killed.
"You okay? I know it's scary to fight the Hanoi." Gwenllian walks towards her with a comforting smile, "But you're safe now. I won't let them hurt you."
Blue Girl feels tears in her eyes and falls to her knees, "Gwenllian, I'm so sorry, I nearly got you killed!"
She switches Avatars, the sound drowning out Gwenllian asking her if she's okay.
"Blue Angel." Gwenllian falls to her knees in front of her, "What's wrong?"
Blue Angel cries and cries, "I nearly got her killed! I nearly killed Miyu, I nearly killed you, I'm sorry!"
She's hurt so many people because she was being selfish and stupid. She can't do it again. She can’t-
"Hey easy, easy. Blue look at me, okay?" Gwenllian takes her hands, "Breathe. Just focus on breathing, kiddo. No one is dead."
Blue Angel sniffles, shaking her head, "But the Hanoi nearly Deleted me-"
"They didn't. Weren't even close." Gwenllian squeezes her hands and rubs soothing circles onto the backs of them with her thumbs, "You're safe. Miyu is safe. I'm safe. Breathe, Blue. Just breathe."
Blue Angel takes a sharp breathe and Gwenllian starts loudly breathing, making it easier to copy. She continues to rub her hands, holding them tightly and praising her for doing her best and breathing okay. Eventually, Blue Angel feels calm and wipes at her face, pulling her hands away from Gwenllian.
"The Hanoi card wasn't your fault, Blue Angel. The Hanoi used you as their patient zero to create the Deleted virus." Gwenllian turns towards the Datastorm, glaring, "Those mad men are responsible for everything, not you."
Blue Angel stares at her in shock, "What?!"
All those people who'd been Deleted were going through what she suffered. The endless abyss that ate her alive and leaves her screaming still.
Gwenllian turns to her, “The Virus was made because these guys just thought it’d be fun to test it out and hurt people. Right now, they’re still hunting for Playmaker, using it as their primary weapon. If I knew more, I’d tell you Blue Angel. I’m sorry.”
Blue Angel wipes her face, “Why are you apologizing to me?!” She hangs her head, pigtails hiding her face, “I’m the one who got you hurt by the Hanoi. How can you forgive me so easily?”
Gwenllian takes her hands and Blue Angel looks up at her.
“There’s nothing to forgive, Blue Angel. This is not your fault. You told me you’d never work with the Hanoi and I knew you meant it.” Gwenllian smiles at her gently, “They’re the ones who made this virus, it’s not your fault it spread. And we’re going to find a cure for it, no matter what. I promise.”
Blue Angel stares at her, then looks at her hands. She pulls them back from Gwenllian, sitting down, wrapping her arms around her knees. She feels like scum. She’s a coward.
“How can you be so brave, after everything?” Blue Angel looks at her, trying to find something, “What gives you the courage to go forward, even when all you find is more hurt?”
Gwenllian hums and sits in front of her, crossing her legs and leaning towards her, “Can you keep a secret?”
Blue Angel gasps, the memory hitting like a hammer.
“Every time I log into LINK VRAINS I’m scared. I’m scared for my life. I’m scared for my brother and my friends. I’m scared that the Hanoi will ruin everything we’ve tried to build.” Gwenllian smiles, “But, I know that if I don’t fight, they’ll take it all away, anyway. I have to have hope and I have to do what I can, or I’ll lose it before I’ve even tried to save it. I want my brother and friends to have futures, where they can smile without a care in the world.” She nods, “And I’m going to make it happen.”
Blue Angel stares at her, heart pounding, “You want to make people smile?”
“You know what the Lost Incident is, Blue. You know what it did to Playmaker.” Gwenllian stares at her feet, smile fading, “In all the time I’ve known him since then, he’s never laughed in joy. He hardly smiles. I swore as soon as I knew I could help him, I would make sure he’d be free to smile and laugh some day.” She gets off the ground, “So I fight for his future and my own.” Gwenllian offers her hand, “That gives me the strength and courage to fight.”
Blue Angel looks at her and hesitantly, takes her hand. Gwenllian pulls her to her feet and holds both her hands together.
“You’re a strong Duelist with people you love and who love you in return, Blue Angel. Do what you’re able to.” Gwenllian lets go of her hands to look at her Duel Disk, “It’s late, so I’m logging out.” Gwenllian smiles and waves, “Best of luck.”
And then she’s gone.
Blue Angel looks at where she was and then she looks at her Duel Disk.
She fights for the people she loves. That’s where Gwenllian draws her strength.
Blue Angel logs out, crying. She really is a coward.
Miyu sighs as she sits on the school roof at lunch, "Aqua, I was so stupid. Why did I agree to go into LINK VRAINS?"
"Because you wanted to help Aoi. I know how you feel about her, Miyu." Aqua is half out her Duel Disk, "And I thought it was courageous to do something so terrifying for her."
"But she came out crying, damnit!" Miyu hits the back of her head on the railing, groaning, "I really hope Louisa didn't chew her out that much."
"I doubt Gwenllian did, she isn't the type." Aqua bobs on top of her Duel Disk, humming, "I'm afraid as much as you'd like to help her, I do believe she has to work this out for herself. As we know, the time she was Deleted still haunts her. She'll have to be given time and space to process it."
Miyu sighs and looks at her lunch box, "I know…. I just wish I could save her for once, instead of the other way around." She smiles just a little, "Though I do enjoy her sweeping me off my feet, I want to be strong enough to help her."
Aqua sinks into her Duel Disk and Miyu looks up in shock, nearly dropping her lunch box, "Aoi?! You startled me!"
Aoi drops her bag, "You have a Ignis in your Duel Disk."
Miyu scrambles to her feet, "A what in my what?"
"And it talked about Gwenllian lecturing me and when I was Deleted!" Aoi looks between her and her Duel Disk, "Miyu, what's going on?! I thought only Playmaker and the new guy, Hurricane, had the Ignis!"
Miyu gapes at her, heart pounding, "I…"
Her phone rings.
"Hello, Miyu speaking!" Miyu takes the chance.
"Miyu!" Aoi shouts.
"Hey Miyu, it's Louisa." Miyu freezes as her voice echos. She's on speaker, "I wanted to talk to you about Blue Angel."
Aoi has her hand over her heart and Miyu is sweating buckets, "Not the best time-"
"I'll be quick, I promise! I just wanted you to make sure Aoi Zaizen is okay. She was really upset when she talked to me last night and I'm not sure if what I said helped her." Louisa sighs, "Just keep an eye on her for me, okay Siren? Let me know if she needs a pep talk."
Miyu would love it if the ground swallowed her whole now, "Uhhh-"
"Gwenllian?!" Aoi shouts.
A beat of silence.
"Miyu, why do you have Gwenllian's number? Why does she know I'm Blue Angel? How does she know you?" Aoi walks over to her, "Miyu tell me please or I-"
"Aoi calm down and Miyu, pass her the phone." Louisa cuts her off.
Miyu feels tears in her eyes and does that, "I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault, Miyu. Accidents happen and she has a right to know why I know her identity." Louisa sounds comforting, even then.
Aoi holds the phone close, "So Gwenllian. How do you know my identity?"
"Miyu didn't tell me. She didn't know I knew your identity, I was going to explain to her over the phone why I knew, so I could find out if you were okay." Louisa sounds passionate, "So please don't blame her, whatever you feel. Just be mad at me."
Aoi's eyes widen and Miyu sees shock in them, "Then how? Why?"
"In the beginning, it was just me, Playmaker and our ally against the Knights of Hanoi and SOL Technologies. The Hanoi ruined their lives and SOL Technologies ruined mine. We worked together because it was mutually beneficial and we were desperate for information. Not just about the Lost Incident, Blue, as you learned from my brother." Louisa says this just a little louder and Miyu's heart stops.
She knows. Aoi knows about that incident.
"What else did you need to know?" Aoi holds her breathe, sweating.
"I needed information about my younger brother, who was being held captive by SOL Technologies and experimented on." Louisa let's it sink in, "Think the Lost Incident, but it lasted years instead of 6 months. At that point in time, we didn't have any way to get to the Core Files and all three of us were desperate. So when my ally ran facial recognition on Blue Angel on a whim and we learned you were the younger sister of one of the most powerful men in SOL Technologies…"
"You wanted to use me. To get to my brother and then to get to yours." Aoi has tears in her eyes and Miyu's heart is shattering, "Please, Gwenllian, tell me it's a lie!"
"...I can't do that, Blue." Louisa sounds like she regrets being born, "Because I didn't let anyone go through with attempts to get closer to you just to get to SOL Tech. But we did consider it as an option if we ever grew desperate, so we remembered. Me, Playmaker and our ally. I'm sorry we invaded your privacy like that. It wasn't fair."
Aoi looks Miyu in the eye, "Why were you going to tell Miyu about my identity?"
"Because I know she's your best friend and if you're going to be honest with someone, it'd be her. I only had the best intentions and didn't know she already knew your identity. But that's no excuse, because I was breaching your privacy again, by sharing something you didn't want people to know." Louisa sounds a little desperate, "As for how I know Miyu, she has to be the one who tells you that. It's not my secret, but Miyu, you have permission to tell her how you know I'm Gwenllian, but try not to mention the others. Blue Angel, please. Just don't hate her."
The call dies.
Aoi drops her phone, crying.
Miyu's heart breaks, shatters and this will probably be her last chance to ever tell her the truth.
"I was 6 when I first got electrocuted for losing a Duel." Miyu begins, lifting her arm so Aqua could rise from her Duel Disk, "Meanwhile, my Ignis, watched and learned and grew, as I continued to suffer."
Aoi gasps, hands clamping over her mouth, "No."
"I remember how the rooms were a blinding white. I remember how much it hurt to lose, so I wondered if I should try at all. I remember how the food tasted so bland and disgusting, that I can't eat anything mashed up again without panicking." Miyu puts her hand over her heart, "Then I remembered how you saved me. By taking the blame for the missing ring, you protected me. And I knew I couldn't give up, because I still had to see you. To apologize and to thank you. To ask if you'd be my friend again."
Aoi is crying still, covering her mouth as she sobs.
"Miyu thought so much of you and your lie, that I learned the ability to tell truth from lies, be it knowing who a person's real identity is by looking at them in LINK VRAINS, or if Ai ate the cat videos Playmaker saved on his computer." Aqua puts her hand over her chest, where her heart would be, "Aoi Zaizen, Miyu cares for you and would never betray you. Please know that she never wanted to keep this from you, but we had allies who needed their secrets kept."
Aoi lowers her hands.
"I only met Aqua a few months ago and with her help, I learned about the Lost Incident and how Playmaker was fighting for our justice, even though he probably shares my fear of even looking at our cards." Miyu lowers her arm, "I wanted to be strong enough to help him and I did. I found him, helped him and that's how I know Gwenllian. But I'm glad I got to meet you again."
The bell rings.
Miyu grabs her lunch box, her phone and walks past Aoi with her head down. She wonders how much Aoi hates her now.
Emma looks out at the setting sun, resting her arms on the wall, "Are you done Duelling, Aoi?"
Aoi looks out to the river, "If I were?"
"That'd be a shame." Emma looks at her nails, "Because I'd hate to see a girl give up on her dreams because of a man, especially if he's family."
Aoi scoffs, folding her arms, "I only became Blue Angel because I wanted him to notice me. Selfish and petty, now that I think about it." She looks at her feet, "A little creepy too. But I know he cares about me now, so what's the point in being Blue Angel again?"
"Wanting someone you love to pay attention to you is normal, Aoi, it's not creepy at all." Emma turns to Aoi, "But your brother didn't stop you from logging into SOL Tech's core and helping Playmaker and Gwenllian. Why's he stopping you now?"
"I owed Gwenllian for saving my life, that's all. I don't want to get Deleted either." Aoi pushes away from the wall, "Those are the main reasons I don't want to Duel anymore."
"Main reasons? What else is holding you back?" Emma hums, turning towards Aoi, "Wanting to stay alive is enough on it's own, but now I'm curious. If you tell me, it can be our girl secret."
"Girl secret huh?" Aoi gives a humourless laugh and turns to her, hands in her jacket pockets, "Sure, why not?"
Emma straightens up, turning towards Aoi properly. Aoi looks like she needs a good screaming fit, but she's the type of person who's going to let her anger out in a cold fire, if she's anything like her brother. Emma isn't good with teenagers and all their temperamental emotions, but she was still worried about her friend's little sister.
Hehe. She called Akira her friend. She is going soft. Hope her half brother never finds out about this.
Emma snaps herself out of her thinking and focuses on Aoi and the cold fire in her eyes.
"I got myself Deleted and Gwenllian hurt because I wanted Akira's attention so badly. But all I did was upset and hurt everyone." She stomps her foot as she steps forward, "I learned about the Lost Incident and combining that with being Deleted, left me so scared of the stupid Knights of Hanoi that I couldn't even think about Duelling without almost dying of panic." Another stomp forward, "Then when I finally got the courage to log in, with the girl I love, I nearly get us Deleted because I wanted to show off."
Emma maintains eye contact with her, letting her fire run it's course.
"Gwenllian is the only reason we're still awake and alive, because she beat up the Hanoi, when all I could do-" Aoi's breathe hitches, "was cry. Because I'm weak. Petty. A coward. An attention seeker." She starts to cry, "Miyu said I was her hero. But I'm not one and I can't be one ever. I'm nothing but a scared little girl who can't even think of the Hanoi without breaking down and I didn't even suffer through the Lost Incident! How can I be her hero when all I do is cry?!"
She turns her back on Emma and wipes at her face, as if ashamed she shared such fears with a stranger. Emma watches her and remembers another little girl who felt weak and helpless after her dreams got shattered. If Aoi really has been feeling like that since that night in the Core Files, then no wonder she looked so blue when she picked her up, pun intended.
Aoi finishes wiping her face and turns to the river, resting her arms on the wall, "So yeah. I can't be a hero. I'm too weak, cowardly, selfish and petty for that. Being Blue Angel only hurt people that I admire or care about. So what's the point?"
Emma remembers that little girl she used to be and thinks on what Aoi needs to hear now that she's hurting similar to how she hurt, "Sounds like you've hit rock bottom. So you have two options. Dig or climb."
Aoi stares at her, "What?"
"Dig the hole deeper, or climb out of it. Your choice." Emma walks over to her bike, slipping her helmet on, "By the way, the person who's Deleting everyone is named Baira and you were the original test subject of it. Do with this information what you will."
Aoi stares at her.
Emma slips her visor down, "Sayonara, Aoi Zaizen."
She takes off.
Card Profile: Cauldron of Rebirth
[A massive black cauldron, as tall as a house with a fire brewing under it. Inside the cauldron is a nauseating green fluid, bursting and bubbling. There’s a ladder on each side of the cauldron. On the left side, living men carry bodies and drop them in the cauldron. On the other, the former dead men climb out, blind and unable to hear, but willing to fight.]
Effect: Special Summon 1 Welsh Warrior monster from your Graveyard in ATK position. It loses 500 ATK and DEF points.
Chapter 20: Turmoil
“I can’t believe you’re graduating, Lou.” Yusaku looks up at the stars, “It feels like I only met you yesterday and I’m already losing you.”
He hears a laugh and gets a gentle bonk on the head, “If you think me graduating will help you get rid of me Yusaku, you’ve got another think coming. You’re stuck with me as your big sister now!”
He deadpans, “Yay, just what I always wanted.”
Louisa huffs and ruffles his head, “Jerk. I hope your partner has thick skin to deal with your deadpan and banter.”
Yusaku swallows. He’s suddenly nervous. He wants to tell her though.
“What if…” he can’t look at her face, so he stares at his hands, “I never get a partner? What if no one ever likes me because of my… everything?”
There’s a bear of silence.
Then she laughs, “Yusaku, that’s impossible. You’re an amazing person and one day, someone is going to get to know you, fall in love and then be by your side so long as you want them there.”
Yusaku smiles and nods, “Got it. Thank you for the wisdom.”
His sister smiles at him directly and her graduation doesn’t feel so scary now. Because she’s here with him.
Aoi thinks about Ghost Gal's words as she walks home.
"Dig. Or climb." Aoi murmurs to herself.
She doesn't know which one to choose. Going with Ghost Gal's metaphor, if she dug then she'd fall further in the hole. But if she climbed, she'd get out of it. She's not sure what path will lead to which option, though. If she stays in the hole, will things just get better on their own? But if she climbs out, will it just get harder?
Aoi bunches her hands up and thinks about the day's events, trying to make sense of it all.
Gwenllian knows her identity. So does Playmaker and his ally, whoever that is. They learned by running facial recognition on her Avatar.
Aoi… doesn't feel as panicked about that now, as she did in the moment. Still a little betrayed, but it's not like she knew Gwenllian when this happened, she's certain it was before they Duelled, too. Even with that kind of knowledge, they didn't sell it to some sleazy stalker or other weirdo. Other than Yusaku Fujiki, she hadn't really gotten close to anyone since then and he was harmless. Still, she'll have to be more careful next time she designs her Avatar and look into finding a way to make it unrecognisable to her real world self.
On another note, Miyu knows Gwenllian in real life. Gwenllian called Miyu "Siren" and Miyu called Gwenllian "Louisa". Miyu is a victim of the Lost Incident and the Ignis were created from the Lost Incident. That explains why Playmaker has one. If Hurricane has an Ignis too, then he must have been involved in the Lost Incident as well. Both of them understand Miyu better than she ever could hope to.
But… Miyu called Aoi her hero. By lying to her mother, she saved her and Miyu's desire to escape and apologize to Aoi kept her going through that terrible experience. Doesn't Miyu know that she saved her, though? When Aoi sealed off her heart, she was so lonely and would have been like that all her life, if Miyu hadn't been there for her. Miyu saved her and Aoi would never not be grateful for that.
She wants to be better. The person Miyu thinks she is. She wants to be strong enough to make her proud and be her hero. The hero Miyu thinks she is.
But can she do that? Is Aoi strong enough to do that?
Aoi looks up at the setting sun and wonders if Miyu hates her for freaking out.
Yusaku leaves school with his head low, mind racing with everything that's been going on.
The Deleted's numbers are growing and while Yusaku is certain Ryoken Kogami's protection program will keep him and the others safe, he doesn't like the thought of all those innocent people suffering at the hands of the Light Ignis.
There's also the unknown alliances of the Fire Ignis and Earth Ignis to be concerned with. If the Light Ignis alone was powerful enough to take over the Knights of Hanoi, the very organization set on destroying them and all of LINK VRAINS if that's what it took, then Yusaku doesn't want to think what they would have to deal with, if they were up against 3 Ignis who hated humanity.
Then there's Ryoken Kogami. Revolver. The boy who saved him and the man who hurt him and his sister. He'd been so angry when he was Duelling Revolver, every attack he failed to land infuriated and intrigued him all the same. Revolver was an exceptional Duelist in his own right. But he's impossible to read and has his walls up so incredibly high, it's painful to watch everyone treat him like a feral dog. He's not going to bite them, for the love of Hecate.
Yusaku lifts his head, watching the road and seeing a car coming to a stop right in front of him.
The window rolls down revealing, "Revolver?!"
Ryoken Kogami gives him a light glare, "Mind being any louder, Playmaker?"
Yusaku bunches up his shoulders, "How did you know what school I went to?"
Ryoken Kogami shrugs, "Considered enrolling years ago and remembered the uniform. It's also the only outfit you or your companions ever wear to the hotdog truck, so it wasn't hard to work out."
Yusaku isn't sorry when the only other clothes he own are his PJs, a hoodie, a shirt and jeans. He doesn't even have any shoes besides the ones he's wearing now.
Instead, Yusaku asks a relevant question, glad he left his Duel Disk at home with Rayla and Roboppi, so Ai couldn't bicker with and aggravate Ryoken Kogami, "Why are you here?"
Ryoken Kogami rolls his eyes, "You said you wanted to help me code the Deleted's cure, right? I can't do it from that hotdog truck."
Yusaku feels the urge to snap back something snarky about that being where he kicked Revolver's behind and trapped Ai from, but chooses not to. Ai is a bad influence on him.
"Do you want to come to my base of operations to code it with me?" Ryoken Kogami looks like he mildly threw up in his throat.
Yusaku feels his eyes widen and his heart race, "You're inviting me to your base of operations? To code because you can't do it in the hotdog truck?" He narrows his eyes and subtly pulls his phone from his pocket, "Why?"
"For three reasons." Ryoken Kogami says it as if it's routine and Yusaku's heart skips a beat. Even though the decade has changed his voice drastically, he can remember it like it was yesterday, "1) You welcomed me into your base, even if we could have conducted this alliance virtually. 2) If every member of your faction were in that truck again, while I coded, it'd be near impossible to concentrate, leading to the Deleted staying as they are longer than needed. 3) You're the least hostile towards me and the easiest to work alongside."
Yusaku swallows and thinks it over. It's sound reasoning and Yusaku himself can't think of three reasons not to go.
"I told Shoichi I'd be at the truck after school. Let me warn him of the change of plans." Yusaku pulls out his phone, writing the text, "We're currently scanning the network for the Light Ignis, but it's incredibly difficult to find any traces of him."
Ryoken Kogami nods and then says, "When we've cursed the Deleted, I'll join your efforts. I know how to hunt an Ignis."
Yusaku sends the text and gets in the car, activating the tracker Shoichi put on it, just encase. Yusaku wants to trust Ryoken Kogami, but he probably isn't revealing his hand any time soon and neither should Yusaku.
Louisa yelps, covering her ears, "Why did you two scream in this tiny truck?!"
Miyu and Hayato have stolen Shoichi's phone from him and Hayato shoves it in her face, "READ!"
Louisa calmly pushes the phone away from her face, sighing. She reads while Miyu, Hayato and Windy read over her shoulder. Aqua stays in her Duel Disk, clearly not interested in the bickering, privacy invasion and drama.
The Moon: Revolver has invited me to his HQ to code the Deleted's cure. I accepted and will likely be with him for the afternoon and evening. I will call if I need assistance.
THE MOON IS SENDING THEIR LOCATION
Louisa feels her eye twitch, "And that was scream worthy because?"
"It's Revolver! Dr Kiyoshi Kogami's son! The guy raised to destroy the Ignis! Who we love and put our lives on the line for!" Hayato groans and kicks at nothing, "How could Yusaku be so stupid?!"
Windy nods, "It's too dangerous without Ai there to help him!"
"Guys, he's sending his location. We can find him if we're worried about him." Louisa rolls her eyes and throws her apron at Hayato, "It's your turn."
While Hayato splutters nonsense, Miyu bites her lip, hissing, "I hope Yusaku's murdering him right now."
Aqua rises from her Duel Disk, "Do you mean that, Miyu?"
Miyu glares at her, "Shouldn't you of all people know?"
Aqua stares at her and Miyu starts cringing, looking a little guilty.
Louisa rolls her eyes, "Ryoken Kogami was 8 when the Lost Incident happened, Miyu. I think wishing death on him for being the kid of the man behind it is a little unfair."
Seriously, she gets their hatred of Kogami and it sucks that they can’t punch him in the face themselves, but his kid doesn’t deserve this.
Miyu growls and turns back to her computer, guilt forgotten, "He's still doing daddy dearest's work for him with no remorse. Nevermind that Aqua, Windy and Ai are alive, they have to die because he said so."
Hayato whistles, "Piping hot tea there, Miyu, but it's very delicious."
"Gimme another cup please!" Windy shakes his fist.
Aqua sinks into her Duel Disk, clearly unimpressed with everything.
Louisa blinks in confusion, "But she's not making any tea."
Hayato and Windy look at her then smacks themselves in the forehead.
Miyu is cringing too, "We need to teach you internet lingo."
Louisa cringes now, "Please don't." Then an idea strikes her, "I'll go follow Yusaku if you guys promise not to."
Miyu, Hayato and Windy blink at her, "Really?"
Louisa nods, shrugging, "I'm no use with this hacking stuff and I'm his sister. If anyone's going to tail his dates, it's me."
The trio's eyed widen, "DATES?!"
Louisa and Shoichi laugh and shake their heads, Louisa tossing him his phone back while she dashes out the truck. Louisa was half joking about tailling Yusaku's dates, she doesn't want to invade his privacy like that. She is a little concerned to leave him alone with Ryoken though, since he does have very complex feelings about him.
Who can blame Yusaku for being conflicted?
Louisa checks her phone and finds Shoichi is sending her Yusaku’s location. The both of them care for that kid a lot and she just wants him to be happy. She meant it when she told Blue Angel she Duels for Yusaku’s future.
Louisa nods to herself and takes off running.
She has to make it a happy one.
Yusaku looks up at the house on Stardust Road in awe, heart skipping a beat. It’s a beautiful house and something in his memory is calling out to him, says that this place is familiar.
“Are you ready?” Ryoken Kogami stands at his side, raising an eyebrow at him.
Yusaku swallows and nods, taking the first step forward, “Yeah. Have you always lived here?”
Ryoken Kogami narrows his eyes as he walks beside him, “For most of my life. I can’t remember much of the time before I lived here.”
Yusaku wants to ask more, but he knows if he does, Dr. Kogami will eventually come up and Yusaku is pretty sure he doesn’t want to hear about the man. It may even prompt an argument with Ryoken Kogami and Yusaku doesn’t want to fight him.
So Yusaku keeps his mouth closed as Ryoken Kogami unlocks the door and walks in, Yusaku following behind.
It’s not very homey. There aren’t any paintings or pictures on the walls, not even a mirror. Ryoken Kogami steers him away from what looks like the main room, and eventually leads him to a room with a few bookshelves, a kitchen table with 5 different laptops on them, all closed. Ryoken Kogami takes the seat at the head of the able and opens the computer there. Yusaku takes the seat next to him and almost wishes they’d stopped to get his computer at home. If only because having a familiar object would be helpful.
Yusaku opens up the computer and, “What’s the password?”
Ryoken Kogami raises an eyebrow at him, smirking, “Not going to hack it?”
“Why waste time when you likely know?” Yusaku shrugs, “Every second we aren’t coding is another second the Light Ignis has the chance to Delete someone else.”
Ryoken Kogami stands up from his chair and leans over him, typing in the password too quick to memorize, “Good point. It should work now.”
Indeed the computer opens just fine.
Yusaku looks up at him, “What have you got done already?”
Ryoken Kogami starts talking about his code and Yusaku notes down internally the weaknesses and the places to improve. Ryoken Kogami stands with his hand on his hip a lot and gestures with his palm up. Yusaku doesn’t know why he’s noticing these things though or why he’s remembering them. Is he trying to get a read on his enemy? Is he just desperate to know anything and everything he can about the boy who saved him all those years ago?
Regardless of his observations and questions, Yusaku still has a job to do and that’s to cure the Deleted. So that’s what he does, as soon as Ryoken Kogami finishes explaining.
But he can’t stop glancing at the man out the corner of his eye, even as he codes and types.
“Excuse me Miss, are you a parking ticket? Because you’ve got fine written all over you.” Hayato winks at the girl behind the counter.
She giggles, hand over her mouth, beaming wide, “Oh how flattering. You’re rather charming yourself, sir.”
The two laugh at each other and Shoichi groans, slamming his head on the keyboard, “I can’t listen to another minute of this.”
Miyu laughs awkwardly and pats his shoulder, “Yeah, this kinda sucks, but it’d probably be worse if Louisa were here.”
Shoichi huffs, lifting his head, imagining it, “She’d tell him off, he’d then turn the compliments on her and then she’d start screaming probably.”
Miyu laughs out right, “Yeah, she’s so cute!”
Shoichi shrugs, “Yeah, she is pretty cute. Same could be said for a lot of people.”
Miyu blinks at him, “Oh? Are we going to be having a coming out party, Shoichi?”
”Human attraction is very complicated.” Windy stares between the two of them, “I just don’t get it.”
Miyu sits on her Duel Disk, “I don’t understand it either, but it’s important to them. Please, you can tell us if you’d like to, Shoichi.”
Shoichi blinks at her, then shrugs, grinning, “Yeah, why not? Well, I’m bi if you were wondering.”
Miyu grins, clapping her hands, “Brilliant, I’m like, 100% a lesbian. Girls are pretty and I’m a weak, weak woman.”
“I hear that!” Hayato claps his tongues, “I’m pretty sure I’m pan, but I kinda have a preference for girls to be honest?”
“Valid.” Shoichi shrugs, “I feel like a switch a lot, like one day I’m all about the ladies, but another all I think about it a hot dude I server at the truck or something.”
Miyu laughs, “Oh wow, that’s cute Shoichi.”
“Speaking of the truck and back to business, we’re running low on hotdogs.” Hayato takes off his apron, “And I gotta use the bathroom, so!”
He dashes out the truck.
Windy and Miyu laugh at his retreating back while Aqua sighs, hands on her hips, “He’s so careless.”
Shoichi gets up from his seat, “I better get those supplies then. You okay with monitoring the truck while I’m out?”
Miyu nods, saluting, “I can handle that, Shoichi!”
Shoichi smiles and walks out the truck, whistling with his hands in his pockets.
Aoi is staring at the ceiling, stray thoughts running through her head. Part of her wants to talk to Yusaku Fujiki, a calm presence in the Duel Club no matter what, but he's been so busy lately, she's not sure he'll response. Still, she opens her text options and reads through them.
Then something catches her eye.
Aoi Zaizen: Louisa?
Yusaku Fujiki: My sister.
Aoi's eyes widen as she remembers Miyu calling Gwenllian 'Louisa'.
Playmaker and Gwenllian are brother and sister. Louisa is the name of Yusaku's older sister and Gwenllian's real identify. It's an odd name, but it can't be that uncommon, can it? Besides, Yusaku is a terrible Duelist, while Playmaker is an expert.
But then again… Playmaker doesn't want his real world identity found. Aoi also acts like a terrible Duelist and antisocial rich girl in the real world, very different to Blue Angel's cheerful and strong demeanor.
Miyu said she found Playmaker and helped him, too.
Aoi sits up in bed, phone to her chest.
Could Yusaku Fujiki be Playmaker? And this Louisa girl Gwenllian? Then if that's true, their ally who also knows her face is probably close with both of them. Hurricane is on their side as well and he has an Ignis, so he probably knows them in real life too. Meaning Aoi probably knows him too, if Miyu knows Gwenllian and her theory is right.
She has to find out-
Her Duel Disk is playing a broadcast. A female Knight of Hanoi is holding two reporters captive, rope around them as they scream and squirm.
"I am Baira of the Knights of Hanoi. If you do not face me now, I will Delete your two favourite journalists who told the whole world about your quest against us." She looks beyond compassion or cooperation, "You have 10 seconds."
Aoi has her hand around her Duel Disk, but she stops, heart frozen.
She's not strong enough.
Aoi is shaking.
Playmaker will get there.
Baira wouldn't Duel her anyway.
She isn't Playmaker's friend.
She doesn't have an Ignis.
Aoi can't even fight a low level thug.
And Baira is a commander.
"Hold it right there!"
Aoi gasps, shouting, "No!"
It's Siren. She's standing there with shaking legs and tears in her eyes and marching towards Baira.
Baira looks her up and down, thoroughly unimpressed, "And you are?"
"Siren! And, I-" She straightens her back, "Let the hostages go! I'll take you on!"
Baira scoffs, "I'm waiting for Playmaker and his Ignis, little girl. Run along home or you'll become my hostage too."
Siren takes a step back, shaking, "I…"
"Wait a minute." Baira's Hanoi mask suddenly shoots out a red scanner that hits her Duel Disk, "You have an Ignis."
Aqua rises from the Duel Disk, "Yes. Release the hostages, Baira. I know truth from lies and you aren't interested in them."
"True. My Master is much more interested in assembling the Ignis." Baira drops the hostages, "I'll take you instead."
Aoi slips on her Duel Disk and screams.
"INTO THE VRAINS!"
Siren backs up, protecting her Duel Disk by hiding it to her chest, "No, you won't have Aqua, you can't have Aqua!"
Baira is walking closer to her, a twisted smile on her face, "It's not up to you, little girl. Taking your consciousness data should please my Master too."
Siren backs up one step too far and almost falls off the skyscraper. She screams as she tries to stay steady.
"Siren, you must log out!" Aqua calls urgently.
Siren reaches for her Duel Disk-
Something hits her hard and she goes flying, screaming down the skyscraper, holding her Duel Disk to her chest. She just wanted to help, she wanted to be stronger, but now she'd going to die!
Arms suddenly wrap around her and carry her to safety. She looks up, heart pounding-
"Blue Girl!" Siren wraps her arms around her neck, "What are you doing?!"
"Rescuing you!" Blue Girl sets her on her feet, so Siren can hold her close. Siren realizes that Blue Girl is taller than her in Avatar form and remembers Aoi being shorter than her in the real world, "We have to get you away from that Knight of Hanoi, why haven't you logged out?"
"We were hit with a virus that prevents us from Logging Out. I'm trying to bypass it, but the Light Ignis made it, so it'll take time." Aqua pokes her head out the Duel Disk, "Blue Girl, can you keep Siren safe while I do this?"
Blue Girl stares at Aqua, then nods, "I'll protect her with my life."
Siren's heart is beating out of her chest, hands on Blue Girl's shoulders for balance, "Blue…"
"Data Gale, Activate!"
Siren shouts a warning, "Blue Girl!"
But it's already too late. The Data Gale takes the Datastorm right off their feet and forces them to fly on open air, Baira right behind them.
"Duel me, Siren. I take the Water Ignis and your consciousness data if you lose." Baira commands.
"Not a chance!" Blue Girl shouts, putting Siren behind her, "If you want to get through to her, you'll have to beat me first! I won't let you have her!"
Siren wraps her arms around Blue Girl's waist, trying to stay on the board. She's scared beyond her wits and she knows Aoi must be afraid too. But she came to her rescue all the same. Just like she always has.
Siren lifts her head to look at Blue Girl, who's face is set in determination and strength. Blue Girl glances over her shoulder and they make eye contact.
Then she smiles, "It'll be okay, Siren. Because I am here."
Siren's heart goes out of control and she smiles. She hides her face in Blue Girl's shoulder blades and sobs.
Everything's going to be okay. Her hero is here.
Card Profile: Welsh Warrior Gwent
[A young boy of roughly 8 years old is on the art, with curly black hair and big green eyes. He’s dressed as a short knight, with chainmail, a helmet, a sword in his right hand and a circular shield in his left. Behind him is half of the Welsh Flag, with the dragon’s head and hands on his right and a stripe of white and orange on his left representing the Irish flag.]
Monster Card. DARK. Level 2
Type: Spellcaster, Effect
Effect: On the turn this monster is destroyed, the opponent takes twice the amount of damage you took.
ATK: 400/DEF: 300
Chapter 21: Virus
Aoi sits on the swing, staring at her feet. She’s been waiting all day for Akira to come get her, only moving when the other kids asked her to get off the playsets so they could use them. The sun’s setting and she doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be.
She wonders if her brother will come get her. He will, right? He won’t leave her alone in this world. But her Mommy and Akira’s Papa said they wouldn’t leave either and they did.
Aoi feels tears in her eyes and like the darkness is closing in-
Aoi looks up, shocked when she sees another little girl standing in front of her.
“Are you waiting for someone?” She smiles, bright like a star, “Do you want to play with Miyu until they show up?”
The girl, Miyu, runs to the swing next to her, giggling as she stands on it, “I can swing while standing up! You should try!”
Miyu starts swinging, laughing bright and happy. Aoi looks up at her, feeling a small smile appear on her face too. She stands up on the swing and copies her, starting to laugh as she does.
“You’re a natural!” Miyu smiles at her, tilting her head as she swings, “Who are you?”
“Aoi Zaizen! You?” Aoi feels happiness curling around her heart.
“I’m Miyu!” The girl beams, “Miyu Sugisaki! Want to be friends?”
Aoi feels like the sun is finally shining on her and nods, “Yeah! I’d love to be friends, Miyu!”
Miyu laughs and Aoi thinks it’s the prettiest sound she’s ever heard. She’s not very good at being friends, but she hopes she can make Miyu laugh at least once every time they meet.
She’ll make sure it happens, no matter what!
“Listen up Duelling fans!” The announcer calls, “We’ve got a new Duelist on the scene fighting the Hanoi and boy, she must be a big fan our missing Blue Angel!”
Hayato looks up at the screen and looks at the new Duelist. She’s under the handle Blue Girl and she’s facing a high ranking Knight of Hanoi. If Ryoken Kogami’s descriptions were right, she’s gotta be Baira.
Hayato starts to sweat and dashes back into the hotdog truck, “Shoichi are you seeing-”
There’s no one there.
Hayato runs over to his Duel Disk, picking it up, “Windy are you there?!”
His green eye blinks at him, “Yeah, of course I am partner! I was taking a nap!” He closes his eye and then slides out of his Duel Disk, “What’s the issue?”
“There’s a new Duelist on the scene and she’s battling against one of the Three Commanders of the Hanoi!” Hayato lifts him up so he can see the big screen outside.
Windy hums, tapping his right foot toes first behind him, “Hummm, who’s the Duelist behind this Blue Girl then?”
“There’s someone behind her?” Hayato squints.
Sure enough, there is another Duelist on that board. She’s got her arms around Blue Girl’s waist and is hiding her face, she he can’t tell who she is. But…
“Hey, Windy, is it just more or does that girl’s Duel Disk look a lot like Miyu’s?”
Blue Girl looks at her hand, swallowing hard.
This is her first Speed Duel in public since she fought Gwenllian and it's against a Knight of Hanoi, the same people who put her in that situation in the first place. When making the Blue Girl Avatar, she thought about weaknesses in her previous Trickstar Deck,not wanting to abandon her girls, and knows a lot of her Monsters have low ATK points, relying more on effect damage than battle. This has always left her vulnerable to Beat Down Duellists and she knew she'd need to up her game if she ever wanted to Duel again. She can't use the same strategies she always does either, or people will realise she is Blue Angel, just under a different handle. She can't have that. She wanted Blue Girl to be her chance to gain some distance from Blue Angel while still being distant from Aoi Zaizen and have fun with Miyu. Who currently is shaking as she clings to her, hiding her face in her back.
In short, she's unprepared, untested and terrified. But Miyu is shaking and needs her to be strong. Blue Girl has to do whatever it takes to protect Miyu.
And that starts with her, "Draw!"
Blue Girl looks at her hand, then picks a spell, "I play Trickstar Vision, allowing me to Special Summon a Trickstar to my Field with her points halved and ability unaccessible!"
Lilybell shows up on her Field, with only 400 ATK points to her name.
"Next we get to draw one card!" Blue Girl draws from her Deck and turns her card to her opponent, "Trickstar Lycoris can be Special Summoned to my Field by returning one Trickstar on the Field to my hand!"
Lilybell bursts into yellow dust as Lycoris takes to the Field, all 1600 points of her.
"Thanks to Lilybell being added to my hand by a method other than drawing, I get to Special Summon her right back to the Field at full strength!" Blue Girl points to her Field.
The yellow dust still on her Field reforms into Lilybell, back at 800 points.
She used to build the circuit that turns dreams into reality. Now….
"I build the circuit that turns fear into courage!" Blue Girl points to the sky, where the circuit awaits.
She and Siren fly in with Trickstar Lilybell and Trickstar Lycoris.
They fly out with Trickstar Divaridis.
"When Trickstar Divaridis is Special Summoned, my opponent takes 200 points of damage!" Blue Girl points to Baira, "And they're coming straight for you, Baira!"
Divaridis points her gem staff at Baira and a rain of yellow bullets hit her hard.
Blue Girl: 4000
"Now I activate Trickstar Live Stage!" Blue Girl plays her Field spell, "I bring a Trickstar from my Graveyard to my hand and then I Summon a Trickstar Token next to Divaridis' Link!"
Lycoris returns to her hand and a little fairy heart appears on the field with 0 defence points.
"That'd not all! I sacrifice my Token to summon Trickstar Birdhelm!" Blue Girl smiles just a little, feeling her turn come together.
Birdhelm has 1800 defence points, but she's not putting those to use.
"When she's Summoned, the opponent takes 200 points again and I get to draw!" Blue Girl throws her arm up.
Birdhelm points her shield at Baira and out it shoots another load of yellow bullets.
Blue Girl: 4000
Blue Girl looks at her card with a smile, then grabs Lycoris, "Now I activate Lycoris' ability again, returning Birdhelm to my hand to summon her!"
Birdhelm bursts into yellow dust and Lycoris joins the fight with a giggle.
"Finally, I equip Birdhelm to Divaridis!" Blue Girl slips her Monster in the Spell/Trap zone.
The golden dust surrounds and sticks to Divaridis.
"Now Divaridis is immune to card effects and when I Special Summon a Trickstar, you take 200 points of damage." Blue Girl eases her stance, "Turn End!"
"Blue Girl, you're amazing."
Blue Girl turns her head towards Siren, smiling, "I try my best. Anything for my best friend."
Siren smiles up at her and Blue Girl's heart races just a little faster because of that. Siren feels so warm too.
Blue Girl can't lose focus though, "Aqua, how's the log out coming?"
"Almost there. It won't be useful until the Data Gale is disabled though." The little blue Ignis blinks at her, "I'll try contacting our allies on the outside for back up."
Blue Girl nods and looks at her opponent, "Please, hurry."
Baira doesn't look the slightest bit worried; that puts Blue Girl on edge.
“Wow-wie!” The announcer punches a fist, “This girl maybe a fan of Blue Angel’s, but her plays aren’t anything like her at all! This Duel is heating up fast and the Hanoi’s Cremdelyacrem is already falling behind! Keep it up Blue Girl and don’t let the Hanoi bully us!”
Louisa watches the Duel in shock, biting her fingers as she waits for the phone to pick up.
It’s Blue Girl and Siren up there, Aoi Zaizen, Miyu and Aqua are in danger. Blue Angel said she couldn’t Duel because she was too scared and now she’s up there?!
“Hello?” Shoichi answers quickly, “Lou, what’s wrong?”
“You have to work out a way to destroy the Data Gale, now! Blue Angel is in a new avatar and she’s fighting Baira!” Louisa looks around frantically, trying to find a way to log in without dumping her body anywhere suspicious, “Miyu is in the direct line of fire!”
“What?!” Shoichi shouts, “I thought she couldn’t Duel, why is she in LINK VRAINS?!”
“I don’t know, but she’s clinging to Blue Girl like her life depends on it and I think it might!” Louisa makes up her mind and runs where she came from, towards the truck, “You have to hurry and get them both logged out, Shoichi!”
“On it!” Shoichi calls.
“Windy and I will be on standby!” Hayato calls, “We’ll step in if we need to!”
“Be ready!” Louisa nods and ends the call, putting all her energy into running.
"Draw!" Baira pulls her card.
"Lycoris deals you 200 points of damage for it!" Blue Girl calls.
Lycoris points her staff at Baira and shoots her with a little red laser.
Blue Girl: 4000
Baira smirks, "Do you think I care?! When a Field Spell is active on the Field, I can Special Summon my Dark Mummy Probe and destroy it!"
"Oh no!" Siren shouts, holding Blue Girl tighter.
A dark blue zombie type Monster takes to the Field with 700 points and Live Stage goes to the Graveyard.
Blue Girl grits her teeth, "Maybe so, but my Trickstars aren't out yet! When you Special Summon a Monster, Divaridis deals you damage!"
Divaridis points her staff at Baira again and once more, she's hit by yellow bullets.
Blue Girl: 4000
"I set a card and normal summon my second Dark Mummy Probe then!" Baira points to her Field.
A copy of the same monster appears next to it.
"Next I play the Continuous Spell Card, Temple of the Kings!" Baira points out and the spell appears on her Field, "Now once per turn, I can activate a card I set on the turn I set it. I activate my Current Corruption Virus!"
Blue Girl's blood runs cold, "A Virus Deck?"
In her studies of Duel Monsters, the legendary Seto Kaiba used the Virus Trap Cards a bunch in his Deck and with deadly efficiency. She doesn't have any way to neutralise her opponent's cards either.
Siren knows it too, "Blue, how are we going to get out of this one?"
Blue Girl doesn't have time to think about her answer.
"By sacrificing one of my Probes, all Monsters on your field with 2000 or less DEF Points lose their Special Abilities and all their ATK Points!" Baira cackles, a manic look in her eye, "Who's laughing now?"
From the trap card, a black, ugly mist takes the field, swarming her Monsters. Lycoris screams, hugging herself and her points drop to 0.
"Too bad, but Link Monsters don't have DEF Points, so my Divaridis is immune." Blue Girl waves the smoke out of her view.
Divaridis shakes off the smoke, all 1800 of her ATK Points still at the ready.
Baira only smirks, "You think she scares me? Humans are dumber than I thought."
Blue Girl's eyes widen. Humans? Is she not human then?
Baira continues her turn, "I play Monster Restitch! By tributing one Dark Mummy, I can summon 3 Dark Mummy tokens to the Field!"
The second Probe was consumed by purple flames and then the fire split into three smaller ones.
Siren tightens her hands in her jacket, "Blue Girl, she has enough Monsters to Link Summon!"
Blue Girl clenches her fists, bracing herself for the next move. Baira flies over head, her tokens leading the charge into the circuit. She goes in with Three Dark Mummy Tokens.
She comes out with Dark Mummy Surgical Forceps, all 2400 ATK Points of her.
"Your Monster maybe powerful, but she's not immune to Divaridis' effect!" Blue Girl calls upon her Monster, "Go!"
Baira is blasted once more with yellow bullets, but she laughs through it all.
Blue Girl: 4000
"Do you think your little needle will stop me, human?!" Baira points to Lycoris, "Destroy her, Surgical Forceps!"
Blue Girl looks at the card in her hand panicking. She can't activate the effect of her Trickstar Corobane because of Current Corruption Virus, meaning she can't protect Lycoris, herself, or Miyu.
"This is going to be rough!" Blue Girl shouts.
Siren hooks her arms around her shoulders, hiding her face in her back.
Surgical Forceps rages towards Lycoris, her hands together, turning the blades on them into scissors. She shoots out bandages, which wrap around Lycoris, restraining her. Surgical Forceps cuts through the bandages, making Lycoris scream as she's destroyed, turning into gold dust, a hurricane that hits Blue Girl and Siren hard.
Blue Girl: 1600
Siren screams as the board flips and spins, Blue Girl falling off it, taking Siren with her.
"Have a nice fall, little girls!" Baira cackles, "I'll take your Ignis soon enough!"
“Miyu!” Hayato screams, “Damnit, Shoichi, is there no way to log into the Data Gale?”
“No, it’s a closed system!” Shoichi is typing as fast as he can.
Hayato punches a fist into the door to one of the Vrain Rooms, “Damnit!”
“Hayato, calm down!” Windy rises from his Duel Disk, “Your raging can’t help them now!”
Hayato clenches his fists, bites his lip and screams anyway.
Blue Girl feels the panic setting in as the wind races past her, sweeping Siren's pigtails up to her side. No, she can't take the fall, she won't survive another, not again, pl-
Siren's arms tightening around her, trying hard to hold on. She's absolutely terrified, too much so to get them out of this, let alone protect herself.
Blue Girl reaches for her whip and shoots it at her board, pulling herself and Siren towards it, flying up from the air to land in it, whip bursting into blue dust. Blue Girl lands, Siren clinging to her shoulders still sobbing, gasping for breath, sounding panicked. She has to help.
"Miyu." Blue Girl calls softly, turning around and holding Siren in her arms.
Siren lets out a gasp, clinging to her back.
"It's okay. You're not injured. You're in Den City. You're 16. You can't be hurt by Baira." Blue Girl holds her a little tighter, "You're safe."
Blue Girl keeps her breathing loud and calm, careful to make sure they won't be attacked again or crash. Siren copies her, breathing loudly, but calmly, slowly getting a better handle on herself. Blue Girl rubs the back of her neck, trying to keep her calm while her other hand protectively spreads across Siren's back.
Baira is glaring at her, shouting taunts over the wind but Blue Girl only looks her way to avoid hitting any buildings. She doesn't look away until Siren lifts her head.
"How?" Siren is still crying, but she's not looking panicked, "How'd you know that would help?"
"I didn't." Blue Girl smiles at her, doing her best to be reassuring, "I just did what you did for me. I'm glad it worked."
Siren smiles and wipes her eyes, "Yeah." She gives a determined nod, "You can win this, Blue Girl."
Blue Girl nods and adjusts her grip so Siren is standing beside her. She has a Link Monster that's weaker than Surgical Forceps on her Field, who's immune to card effects and a Monster with an effect she can't use thanks to Baira's trap card. Her next draw could be the make or break of this Duel. She has to make it. She has to protect Miyu and Aqua.
"I draw!" Blue Girl looks at her hand.
Trickstar Corobane and Trickstar Perennial.
"Since all the monsters I control are Trickstars, I can Special Summon Trickstar Corobane and place one card face down!" Blue Girl mentally crosses her fingers.
Corobane brandishes her staff with a twirl, but her 2000 ATK points immediately drop to 0 after Current Corruption Virus hits her.
“Since I Special Summoned a Trickstar, my Equipped Birdhelm deals you 200 points of damage!” Blue Girl points to her field.
Divaridis starts singing through her microphone, hitting Baira hard.
Blue Girl: 1600
“I create the circuit that turns fear into courage!” The hearts on Blue Girl’s outfit start to glow as she creates the circuit.
She and Siren fly in with Trickstar Corobane and Trickstar Divaridis.
They come out with Trickstar Foxglove Witch, standing strong at 2200 ATK points.
“Whenever my Foxglove Witch is special summoned, you take 200 points for every card on your field!” Blue Girl punches the air, “Take that, Baira!”
Foxglove points her 5 spiked staff at Baira and swings it three times, sending the same number of energy blades at her.
Blue Girl: 1600
Baira only laughs, appearing more unhinged every passing second, “Your little Foxglove Witch is no match for my Surgical Forceps!”
Blue Girl grits her teeth. That is true, but at least when Surgical Forceps attacks next turn she won’t take as much damage as she would have if Divaridis was still on her field.
Siren looks up at her, “Blue, are you going to be okay?”
Blue Girl smiles down at her, nodding, “I promised to protect you, didn’t I? So that’s what I’m going to do.”
Siren smiles and Blue Girl glares at Baira, “I end my turn!”
Baira draws her card and laughs when she sees it, "Since I draw a trap card, my Surgical Forceps deals you 500 points of damage, Blue Girl!"
Surgical Forceps swings her blade hands, making an "X" fly at her. Siren screams as Blue Girl forms a shield over her head with her arm, though it does nothing to stop the pain.
Blue Girl: 1100
Out of the smoke, Blue Girl rides, coughing and choking, looking down, "Siren are you okay?"
Siren nods, legs shaking but staying on board, "I'm okay."
Blue Girl nods, then looks at her Field, tightening her arm around Siren's shoulders just a little.
“I activate my Skill: Malevolent Malpractice!” Baira’s mask glows and golden dust bursts from it, “By banishing two copies of one Monster from my Graveyard, I can summon 2 copies of another Monster straight from my Deck, so long as their attribute and level match the banished Monsters!”
“Blue Girl watch out!” Siren tightens her grip on her waist.
“I banish my Dark Mummy Probes-” Baira points to her field, “To summon my Dark Mummy Infusers!”
Two Monsters take to the Field, looking like mummies with needles for feet, their ATK points at 0.
“I summoned one of my Infusers next to Surgical Forceps’s Link, so now she can’t be affected by Trap Cards and my Infuser can’t be selected as an attack target! She also gains 600 ATK Points.” Baira cackles, "And now, I'll attack with my Surgical Forceps!"
Surgical Forceps with 3000 ATK prepares her blades-
"I won't let you destroy Foxglove Witch!" Blue Girl calls, her trap activating, "By sending my Trickstar Perennial to the Graveyard, Foxglove is immune to destruction!"
"That won't stop the damage, girly!" Baira cackles, "Go!"
Surgical Forceps continues to dive towards Foxglove, but she hits a shield, the shockwaves echoing around the walls to hit the girls. Blue Girl wraps her other arm around Siren's waist and turns them, taking the brunt of the damage with her back, screaming in pain.
"NO!" Siren shrieks.
Blue Girl: 300
“Oh man, folks, things aren’t looking good for this girl in Blue and her friend behind her.” The announcer swallows hard, “Let’s hope she gets some life support fast before she gets hurt anymore.”
Naoki jumps on the spot, screaming at the top of his lungs, “Do your best, Blue Girl! Don’t give up!”
He’s tired of seeing Duelists being Deleted by the Knights of Hanoi, Playmaker and his team can’t do this all alone! She has to win!
“We believe in you, Blue Girl!” The announcer shouts, “You with me, everyone?”
The crowd shouts and Naoki screams, “WIN!”
Baira cackles and Blue Girl falls to her knees, huffing, panting, back screaming for relief, a chance for all the pain to just stop.
"Blue Girl, are you okay?" Aqua rises from Siren's Duel Disk.
Blue Girl tries to answer but all she can manage is coughs.
"Aoi, I'm so sorry." Siren is looking up at her, on her knees, tears in the corners of her eyes, "I'm going to get us both Deleted and Aqua hurt because I was so useless and stup-"
"Hold it." Blue Girl squeezes Siren's shoulder.
Siren stares at her with wide eyes.
"You said you were sorry, for getting me in trouble with your Mom, right?" Blue Girl coughs, looking her in the eyes, "Well don't be. Before we met, I was alone. I only had my brother after our parents died, I closed off my heart, iced it over, swore I'd never be hurt again."
Siren's eyes are widening steadily and Aqua is staring at her with her hand over her heart. At least where the heart would be on a human, Blue Girl has no idea if Ignis have hearts.
"You saved me." Blue Girl puts her other hand on Siren's shoulder and squeezes, "You opened the door to my heart, whenever I was afraid of people, remembering you gave me strength. You bring out the best in me, Siren and I swear," She goes to stand, "I'll be your hero-"
Pain flares up her back and Blue Girl hisses, stumbling into Siren's lap, a fog horn drowning out her cursing.
“Blue Girl, stop please, if you just surrender and hand me over, it can end! You won’t have to suffer anymore!” Siren is crying her eyes out, sobbing loudly and it breaks Blue Girl’s heart.
“I can agree to that, Blue Girl! Why, I won’t even Delete you if you give up now, nor will I make Siren’s death painful!” Baira chuckles, “I’ll be merciful!”
Bluel Girl feels fear spike in her gut and she gets to her feet, spinning on her heel, glaring at Baira, “Never! I won’t let you hurt her ever again, Hanoi! I love her too much to ever let you hurt her!”
Siren gasps behind her but Blue Girl doesn’t have the courage to face her, “Love?”
“Ugh, you humans and your emotions make me sick.” Baira scoffs, “Take your last pathetic turn, Blue Girl.”
Blue Girl nods, takes in a deep breathe, focusing on the Field ahead of her. She only has this draw to turn it around. She looks over her shoulder, looking down at Siren. She’s still on her knees, staring up at her in shock, Aqua poking out of her Duel Disk and looking between the two as if waiting for something to happen.
Blue Girl smiles at her, “Whatever happens, know this. I love you, Miyu. Romantically. I have for a long time and have no regrets.”
Siren starts to look panicked, “Why do you sound like you’re saying goodbye?”
Blue Girl shrugs, a bit of sadness peaking into her heart, “This draw will be make or break. My last trick. I just wanted to make sure you knew how I felt, just encase it didn’t work out.”
Siren looks even more panicked, getting to her feet, “Aoi-”
Blue Girl turns away, but she’s turned around by a hand on her shoulder. Then there’s one in her hair, tugging her forward and right into Siren’s lips.
Blue Girl’s brain shorts out, eyes wide in shock, arms frozen at her side.
Siren pulls back a little, blushing to her ears, all down to her neck, “Kiss for good luck. And a return of affection. Because I love you too and if you die, I swear I’ll kill you.”
Blue Girl’s heart pounds out of her chest and she-
Siren growls, the pink in her cheeks turning red, “This is serious, Blue Girl, you’re not allowed to die, okay?!”
Blue Girl nods, grinning ear to ear and rubs Siren’s cheek with her thumb, “I promise I won’t, then.” She presses her forehead to Siren’s, eyes closed, “I have to make sure to take you on a decent date, after a kiss like that after all.”
Siren giggles a little, hand over Blue Girl’s hand, “You better.”
Blue Girl pulls back, gives her a determined nod, then turns to face Baira, heart singing in her chest as she, “Draw!”
Siren wraps her arms around her waist, resting her head on her shoulder, “Win this, Blue Girl.”
Blue Girl looks at her card and smiles, “I will.”
Baira is glaring at her like she murdered someone, but she hasn’t beat her yet, so, rude.
“First I summon Trickstar Mandrake and then I activate my Skill: Trickstar Gig!” The hearts on Blue Girl’s bodysuit glow blue, “I send from my Deck to my Graveyard a number of cards equal to the number of Trickstars on my Field, then I get to add a Trickstar Card from my Graveyard to my Hand!”
Baira blinks at her in confusion, “What are you doing?”
Siren whispers in her ear, sending a shiver down her spine as she discards, “Winning.”
Blue Girl discards Trickstar Candina and Trickstar Rhodode and adds to her hand, “Trickstar Light Stage is a Field Spell that lets me add a Trickstar to my hand and deals you 200 points of damage each time a Trickstar Monster deals you effect or battle damage!”
Her Field spell lights up her Monsters, showing off their brilliance and Narkissus is in her hand. It’s all ready.
“I create the circuit that turns fear into courage! I need 2 Trickstars to Link Summon!” Blue Girl points in front of her, shooting out a blue light that bursts into a Circuit.
She and Siren fly in with Trickstar Foxglove Witch and Trickstar Mandrake.
They fly out with Trickstar Bella Madonna, her 2800 ATK Points not enough to defeat Surgical Forceps.
Baira knows it too, “You fool! With an attack power like that, there’s no way you can defeat me this turn!”
“Not with that alone, but on the turn Bella Madonna is summoned, if she isn’t Linked to any other Monsters, my opponent takes 200 points of damage for every Trickstar Monster in my graveyard with a different name!” Blue Girl picks up a finger for every Trickstar she lists, “Lilybell, Lycoris, Divaridis, Birdhelm, Corobane, Foxglove Witch, Mandrake, Candina and Rhodode, who went to the Graveyard when I used my Skill.”
“That’s 9 monsters.” Siren gasps, “Did you plan this?”
Baira screams, taking a step back, “1800 points of damage?!”
Bella swings her synthe at Baira hard, creating a massive energy blade. It hits her and makes her scream, falling to her knees.
Blue Girl: 300
“Then, because my Mandrake was used as Link Material when she went to the Graveyard, one Monster your Link Monster is linked to gets destroyed!” Blue Girl points to the field.
The Infuser linked to Surgical Forceps is destroyed and her ATK lowers to 2400.
Baira glares at her and if looks could kill, Blue Girl would be dead. But she’s not dying today.
“Bella Madonna!” Blue Girl roars, “Attack!”
Bella Madonna swings her synthe towards Surgical Forceps and destroys her in one fell swoop.
Baira goes flying off her board, screaming like a banshee all the while.
Blue Girl: 300
WINNER: Blue Girl
“And she did it! Love really does conquer all, folks, especially if you’re Hanoi!” The announcer is actually crying, “I have no idea what either of these two Duelists were saying to each other, but it’s clear they mean the world to one another!”
Louisa huffs and puffs for breathe as she enters the plaza where the Hot Dog truck was waiting. She straightens up and grins at the screen.
She’s so proud of Aoi Zaizen. She has to meet her and tell her that, screw secret identities.
“What’s this folks?!” The announce calls.
Louisa looks to the screen and gasps in shock.
In LINK VRAINS, little orbs of golden light are floating down and touching the Deleted Duelists. They’re waking up and logging out, one at a time.
“It looks like love did more than win this Duel!” The announce jumps for joy, “It’s cured the Deleted!”
The crowd goes wild as Blue Girl and Siren ride away into the LINK VRAINS sunset.
Louisa laughs and texts Yusaku.
The Sun: Well done on that cure.
The Moon: Revolver did most of the work. I polished it.
The Sun: Good job to both of you then.
Louisa hopes that Yusaku is smiling now, because she certainly is.
Card Profile: Welsh Warrior Arianrhod
[A tall woman with black hair coming down to her lower back stands on a hill. She’s wearing long blood red robes with large sleeves, which are apparent as she stands with her arms out wide. She has a wand in her left hand and blue eyes. Lightening strikes behind her and a small owl and eagle are in different corners of the artwork.]
Monster Card. LIGHT. Level 6
Type: Spellcaster, Effect
Effect: On the turn she’s summoned, for every Welsh Warrior on the Field including Arianrhod, you can destroy one of your opponent's Spell or Trap cards on the Field.
ATK: 2000/DEF: 1800