Work Header

Seed of Darkness

Chapter Text

“So, you wish to not let this path be your destined fate.”

“Of course! I’ll do anything!”

“Then perhaps I can help. I’ll give you the power you need to break from the chains you wear, but in return, you must join me.”

“Join you? Why would I do that?”

“Because in my perfect world, you can do whatever you want. You’re not restricted by chains. You can be anything you want to be.”


“So what do you say? Do we have a deal?”


“Excellent. Now stay quiet for now. When the time comes, we will strike, and your destiny will finally be your own.”

Two Years Later…

“Clear Wing, attack Dark Rebellion XYZ Dragon! Spinstorm Sky Strike!”

It was the night of the Arc League Championship in the town of Paradise City. The first set of matches were over, and as of now, a lot of crazy stuff has been occurring, beginning with an intense duel heating up between Shay Obsidian from Heartland City and Sora Perse of Duel Academy, who was forcibly teleported back there right as he was in the middle of dueling two look-alikes: another XYZ resident and member of the Resistance named Yuto and the Pendulum pioneer known as Yuya Sakaki. After Sora’s sudden teleportation and the duel ending with no result, Yuto explained to Yuya about his hometown was also a place full of smiles until the Invasion struck, resulting in the carding of so many innocent people at the hands of Duel Academy. He also went on to mention that there are four dimensions in this universe: Standard, XYZ, Fusion, and Synchro. Despite his skepticism, Yuya knew that dueling should never be used as a weapon for fighting but to bring happiness among others, something he learned from his dear father Yusho.

Before the two counterparts could continue talking, a Duel Runner suddenly appeared, with the driver revealing itself to be Yugo, who looked like the formers and was anticipating his duel against Yuto since their last encounter. Before Yuya knew it, the two began their duel and it was quickly shown that Yugo is the Synchro counterpart to Yuya and Yuto when he Synchro Summoned Hi-Speedroid Kendama. Pretty soon, they brought out their respective ace monsters—Clear Wing Synchro Dragon and Dark Rebellion XYZ Dragon—and fell into a berserk state, with their eyes shotting open and glowing aqua green and periwinkle. A concerned Yuya helped Yuto get back into his senses when he feared that the hatred he has for Yugo was getting to him and dueling shouldn’t be used to express hatred. As a result, he ended his turn.

Yugo initiated his turn, and thanks to the effects of Speedroid Razorang and Clear Wing, he was about to claim victory as he declared his attack with his 4500 ATK dragon to destroy Yuto’s 3000 ATK Dark Rebellion. To make matters worse, Yuya was caught in the crossfire and it looked like he was the one receiving the attack until…


Yuto used his cape to shield his eyes from a sudden flash of red light. “What the…?” he muttered to himself. He had tried to push his Standard counterpart out of the way to avoid getting hit from the attack, but something had just happened that prevented him from doing so, but what? What exactly caused this red light to flash out of nowhere?

At that very same moment, Yuya had just felt a sharp, stabbing pain pierce him through his heart. The penetration wasn’t lethal thankfully, but it was far from lethal; it felt too painful to even describe with words alone yet it would seem meaningless to even try to because a simple agonizing scream that was heard through the red light was all that was needed to even describe what happened.

Suddenly, Yugo’s eyes stopped glowing as he regained his senses. At the same time, Clear Wing stopped the attack. “What is it, girl?” the banana-banged Duelist asked his dragon.

Clear Wing let out a soft growl, causing Yugo’s eyes to widen. “Holy crud, you’re right!” he exclaimed. “The Friendship Cup! I completely forgot about that!” He removed the remaining cards in his Duel Disk, ending the duel as both dragons vanished.

Yuto ran over to Yugo. “Where do you think you’re going?” he asked.

“Look, I’m so sorry for the misunderstanding,” Yugo said. “Somethin’ was clouding my judgement and I completely thought you were someone else.”

“Who?” Yuto asked, surprised by the change in Yugo’s personality.

“I don’t have time to explain,” Yugo said. “Right now, I have to get back to my home dimension.” He held up Clear Wing’s card. “Clear Wing Synchro Dragon, let’s head back to New Domino City!”

With a purring sound of agreement, a bright light flashed from Clear Wing’s card covered Yugo in its rays until he was gone, leaving Yuto more confused than he was a few seconds ago. First off, it looked liked his Synchro counterpart was talking to his dragon almost like if it was his pet. Does that meant he can also talk to Duel Monsters spirits too? But was he even aware about the high possibility of people saying cards can’t talk? Then again, Yuto was kind of a hypocrite since he can also hear their voices and communicate with them too, most particularly Dark Rebellion. Secondly, New Domino City was Yugo’s hometown in the Synchro Dimension? If so, then he needs to find him to try and gain more information about his misunderstand because whoever this person is, he must have the same facial traits as the two and Yuya…after this Friendship Cup event he mentioned. Speaking of Yuya, third of all, was he going to be alright after this abrupt ordeal? His head and body shifted to where he was only to find him still standing even after the red light faded away, which was rather peculiar. Did he really endure this combination of the light and the force of Clear Wing’s attack?

“Yuya?” Yuto asked. “Are you alright?”

But Yuya didn’t respond. Instead, he fell to his knees, a blank gaze in his eyes.


Off in the distance, a pink-haired girl in pigtails ran to where the two Yu boys were. Yuto immediately recognized her as Zuzu Boyle, whom he had encountered on multiple occasions prior to the Arc League Championship. Right as she arrived, something even stranger was in the air: Yuto wasn’t sent back to Heartland this time. But why? With him and her so focused on Yuya, they didn’t even noticed that the bracelet that she had ever since she was a baby had vanished from her right wrist. Did that meant it had some kind of connection with them? As if there was a reason to keep them away from each other at all costs?

However, Zuzu was more concerned about Yuya, who had just lost consciousness. “Yuya, what’s wrong?” the Melodious user asked, shaking the tomato-haired teen’s body. “What happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened,” Yuto said. “A Duelist with blonde and dark blue hair named Yugo challenge me to a duel, but things got so crazy. Not only was Yuya caught in the crossfire, but there was a sudden flash of red light coming from his body. Then Yugo said something about a ‘friendship cup’ and disappeared.”

Zuzu was alarmed. “Are you saying Yuya got hurt?” she asked.

“Judging by his loud, pained scream, I think he did,” Yuto said.

Zuzu looked deeply concerned. “Yuya…”

Meanwhile, in a different location, there was a remote island located nearby from a city that was surrounded by a large body of water. On the island was a large structure that looked like it was integrated onto the island itself. This was without a doubt Duel Academy, a duel school from the Fusion Dimension run under the Professor’s control where he has his students learn how to duel and use Fusion Summoning as a way to fulfill his plans; in fact, he executed the Invasion of Heartland City, which initiated the Interdimensional War as a result. It was also the same place where Sora was forcibly transported back to and was now resting in the infirmary due to the injuries he received from his duel against Shay. But his loss and revelation of his true colors weren’t on his mind right now; all that he could of was the students.

He remembered seeing his eyes locked into deep stares at each and every faces as he was being escorted indoors, including a pale-skinned, spiky black-haired Obelisk Force soldier maintaining his composure, a mathematically intelligent Ra Yellow boy deducing what’s going on, and two Slifer Red girls—one with long blue hair and brown eyes and one with tealish-blue eyes and brown hair that has gotten longer over the years—comforting each other. All he heard as he struggled to regain consciousness was the sounds of terror among those indoors and out. Mass hysteria and panic was around every corner no matter where you turned. Terrified screams echoed through the long halls and tall walls of the Academy. It felt like the paranoia went on forever and seemed like there was no end to it at all. Sora wasn’t sure if what he witnessed was all but just a bad dream…or if it was all too real.

Suddenly, a 14-year-old boy with slicked back purple and pink hair wearing an elite soldier’s uniform slammed the infirmary door open. “Sora, we have to get out of here!” he exclaimed, speaking in a slightly high-pitched voice.

“Yuri?” Sora asked. “How come?”

The boy, Yuri, seemed a bit hesitant to answer. “Well… You see…”

“What’s wrong?” Sora asked, sounding a bit serious.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Yuri admitted, brushing a hand through his hair. “It all started when the Professor was murdered-”

“What?!” Sora interrupted, sitting up in the provided bed. “The Professor is dead?!”

“Yes, but that’s not all,” Yuri continued. “Every person we carded is being restored. Yet while all of the non-Duelists are returning to their home dimensions, the others…well…”

“What happened to the Duelists we carded?” Sora asked.

“They came back different,” Yuri further explained. “At first I thought them attacking the other students was merely just payback, but they kept on winning. And whoever they defeated appeared to have joined their side, even our most elite Obelisk Force soldiers.”

“But who killed the Professor?” Sora asked.

“Who else?” Yuri asked in response.

Sora looked deeply alarmed. “You don’t mean…”

“Precisely,” Yuri answered.

Sora got off the infirmary bed. “We have to do something to stop this!”

“I’m already ahead of you,” Yuri said. He took out his Violet Flash Spell card, his preferred mode of transportation. “We must gather as many allies as possible and warn them about this sudden takeover.”

Knowing what was going to happen, Sora strapped on his Duel Academy Duel Disk, put his deck in the Duel Disk, and grabbed on to Yuri’s arm. “So where to?” the Frightfur user asked.

“Our first stop is the Standard Dimension,” Yuri explained. “If my suspicions are correct, our dear friend Dennis McField is already there. No doubt he will be a prime target. Now then, shall we bring peace back to our home?”

“You bet!” Sora cheerfully replied. “Onward to the Standard Dimension!”

In a bright flash of violet light, Yuri and Sora dematerialized and vanished from the infirmary to the Standard Dimension to search for Dennis, leaving the room empty and leaving behind a horrifying viral outbreak that was only going to get worse if it’s not dealt with.

Chapter Text

Back at Paradise City, Zuzu and Yuto were both carrying Yuya as they rushed through the neighborhood streets to get to the Sakaki residence. After what happened so suddenly, he needed to get some help as fast as possible. It didn’t help that they were left with some questions that needed to be answered. Who really was this Yugo person and why did he thought his XYZ counterpart was someone else? Was there another lookalike of them, and if so, why did he take those Lulu and Rin girls? Does Yugo and their other lookalike have some kind of connection with Yuya and Yuto? What was that flash of red light and where did it came from? Will it end up breaking that connection?

They weren’t sure as of now. Confusion had clouded their minds about this strange turn of events yet they were still strongly focused on bringing Yuya home. They were really hoping this red light didn’t affect his appearance, personality, dueling skills, or whatever. They just want him to be okay.

“Who does Yuya live with?” Yuto asked.

“Huh?” Zuzu asked in response, surprised by the sudden question.

“Who does Yuya live with?” Yuto repeated.

“He currently lives with his mom,” Zuzu answered. “His dad disappeared a few years ago. Why do you ask?”

“Because a few years ago, a man named Yusho Sakaki showed up in my home dimension,” Yuto explained. “But he looks nothing like Yuya, so I had to check if them sharing the same last name was a coincidence.”

Yuto knows Yuya’s dad? How can that be? Was that why he disappeared three years ago? Because he went to Heartland City? But why would he do that? Whatever the case is, Zuzu knows that Yusho being related to Yuya was no coincidence despite that he clearly didn’t get his tomato-like hairstyle through genetics.

“No, that’s Yuya’s dad,” Zuzu clarified. “It’s hard to tell at first, but they’re related.”

A few moments later, the two had already arrived at Yuya’s house and Yusho’s wife, Yoko, was helping Zuzu and Yuto carry her son up to his bedroom. However, one look at Yoko made Yuto feel uncomfortable, as he kept on glancing away from her.

“Zuzu, who’s your new friend?” Yoko asked.

“His name’s Yuto,” Zuzu answered. “He’s from out of town.”

However, Yuto was lost in his thoughts. “She’s not real…” he muttered. “She can’t be here…”

“Who can’t be here?” Yoko asked.

Yuto looked back at Yoko, tears forming in his eyes. “You look so much like my mom,” he admitted.

Zuzu and Yoko were both surprised by Yuto’s declaration. Yuto has a mom? If so, did something happen to her during the Invasion? And what does he mean when he compared Yuya’s mom to his own? Do the two counterparts have something in common that would have ended up shrouded in mystery?

“I’m not joking,” Yuto said. “You have curly blonde hair and blue eyes. It’s not exactly like her hair and eyes, but it’s similar.”

“What’s your last name?” Zuzu asked.

“Osaku,” the eggplant-haired teen answered. “My name is Yuto Osaku.”

That greatly surprised Yoko. “Your last name is Osaku?” she asked.

“Of course,” Yuto replied.

“But…that was my maiden name before I got married,” Yoko explained.

Zuzu and Yuto’s faces revealed flabbergasted expressions, especially the latter, because they couldn’t believe what they heard. Yoko shares the same last name as him and his mom. If that was the case, then does that mean…

“No…” Yuto said. “How can you be my aunt?!”

“I’m not sure,” Yoko admitted. “Do you have a picture of your mom?”

By that point, the three had arrived at Yuya’s bedroom. So after they set him down on his bed, Yuto took out his Duel Disk and presented a digital picture. “My mom was an amazing person,” he said. “She was always so cheerful, constantly smothering me with love and wanting me to be happy. But I was never embarrassed. Because I never knew my dad, she was my only parental figure.”

Yoko had her eyes locked onto the photo of Yuto and his mom, and slowly but surely, she was beginning to see what he meant when he saw the parallels between them. Her long, orange, gingery hair mirrored hers, and based on how it appeared, it reminded her of when she was the leader of the Sirens. She even had eyes that were similar to her own, but they looked more feminine and were a bold tint of icy blue.

“What happened to her?” Yoko asked.

Yuto didn’t respond right away. “Yuto?” Zuzu asked.

“She…” A small sob escaped the Phantom Knights user’s throat. “She died protecting me from Obelisk Force. A Chaos Ancient Gear Giant was about to attack me when she shielded me.” A tear escaped from his eye. “I even remember the last words she said to me.”

“What were they?” Yoko asked.

“D…Don’t you dare let that beautiful smile leave your face…” And with that, Yuto lost his composure as he sobbed heavily.

Zuzu and Yoko fixated their attention onto Yuto, leaving them heartbroken as a result. The Melodious user instantly knew Yuya went through a similar experience when Yusho disappeared and had to miss out on his duel against the Sledgehammer. He couldn’t bear the thought of having his father gone and was bullied because of it. Learning about how Yuto was now an orphan because his mother sacrificed her life at the hands of Duel Academy was extremely upsetting to hear, especially since it occurred during the Invasion. Yoko walked over to Yuto and embraced him in a hug as a way to comfort him, which only made him cry harder. Her embrace reminded him of how Lono used to comfort him.

“Yuto…” Zuzu said, sounding a bit sad.

“I’ll take care of things from here, Zuzu,” Yoko said. “You still have the Arc League Championship tomorrow.”

“But what about Yuya?” Zuzu asked. “He’s also taking part in the tournament.”

“We’ll figure something out,” Yoko said. “I just hope he recovers.”

The trio weren’t sure if recovering was the case because throughout the next two days, Yuya was still unconscious on his bed. At the same time, Yuto was given the opportunity to readjust back into a normal lifestyle while he stayed at the Sakaki residence. Naturally, Yoko was the one who let him stay over the past few nights and wear some of her son’s clothes and pajamas during that time. Yuto never thought he would be back in a house with delicious food, sufficient plumbing with drinkable water, provided clothes, comfortable beds, and an adult…or in this case, a possible long-lost relative. It felt weird living with his potential aunt because there was so much about her that reminded him of his mother Lono, but he was starting to adapt to bonding with her a little.

After two days have passed, Yuto, Yoko, and Zuzu sat in front of Yuya’s bed, where the latter still laid and hasn’t spoken a single word at all. Yuto was concerned about his possible cousin since he wasn’t even responding; it would be nice to see how he was doing and tell him about his normal lifestyle he was adapting back into. Even though the Invasion was recent, he hasn’t felt clean in a while and even got brand new clothes to replace his war-torn attire: a white, long sleeved casual jacket with the sleeves rolled up a little, a black t-shirt, dark jeans, and a new pair of black sneakers. He was also hoping that the two would get to know each other more and what their families were like while growing up while also try to work together to defeat Duel Academy and put a stop to the Interdimensional War.

“So how’s Yuya?” Zuzu asked.

“He’s still not recovering,” Yoko explained. “But I haven’t seen signs of him getting worse.”

“I hope he recovers soon,” Yuto said, taking Yuya’s deck out of his Duel Disk. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep pretending to be him.”

With Yuya unconscious, Yuto had no choice but to fill in for him during the Arc League Championship since the two have the same facial features. Throughout the second round of the tournament, people have been jumping to the conclusion that he was Yuya wearing an eggplant-like wig, but he was more worried about how they will react when they find out it’s not really Yuya.

“It’s okay, Yuto,” Zuzu said. She was still looking at Yuya and she was reaching forward to touch Yuya’s cheek. “I know Yuya will feel better soon-”

“Don’t you dare touch him!”

Zuzu, Yuto, and Yoko turned around to where the voice came from, and before anyone knew it, a young, teenage girl came jumping out of the window and towards them, causing all three of them to panic. A few seconds later, Zuzu recognized the girl as Aura Sentia of Fortune Prep School, a Duelist who specializes in Divination Duels where counters her opponent’s moves through a prophetic witchcraft style through her flip and Ritual monsters. If anything, she was not the biggest fan of her because she has been harboring feelings for Yuya ever since their duel against each other. And she had a really good feeling on why she unexpectedly showed up.

“If you’re here to see Yuya, he’s not well,” Zuzu said with disdain in her voice.

“My visit has nothing to do with my duelmate!” Aura said, looking incredibly worried. “I came here because the entire world might be in danger, and it’s all because of him!” She pointed at Yuto.

“Me?” Yuto asked.

“I had a feeling that hair looks too realistic to be a wig,” Aura continued. “But that’s not all. Lately I noticed there has been a drastic shift between darkness and light. A great evil is manifesting and the source is coming from Yuya Sakaki!”

“What does Yuya have to do with it?” Yoko asked.

Aura held up her crystal apple near Yuya’s head. “I initially detected darkness within his soul during our duel,” she explained. “But now I sense a greater darkness within him, one that is slowly consuming him.” As she said that, a small cloud of black and dark red smoke appeared inside the crystal apple. “Worse, this darkness is spreading throughout the world, corrupting innocent people into joining its army.”

“What?!” Zuzu asked. “Are you serious?!”

“You don’t believe me?” Aura asked in response. “Then check his pulse.”

Zuzu reached over and placed her index and middle fingers onto Yuya’s neck to feel his pulse. Nothing. No breathing. No movements. No pulse. The only thing that filled the room was silence. No… It can’t be… There’s no way that’s possible! Her mind flooded with thoughts that an inevitable fate had fallen upon her childhood friend. The only question left was whether this darkness that is lurking all over the world was responsible for ending his life prematurely.

Zuzu’s shocked expression was all that Aura needed. “Luckily I came here just in time,” she said as she started decorating Yuya’s room with various spiritual healing supplies. “With my expertise, I’ll be able to cleanse Yuya’s soul and put it back into his body.”

Within moments, Zuzu, Yuto, and Yoko all sat aside as Aura carried out with her spiritually recovery ritual. The decorations all around the room was meant to repel any malevolent spirits while the enchanted regeneration crystals on the bed were made to draw positive energy to the body. Aura hoped that these would help weaken the darkness long enough for Yuya to recover and overcome it for good. Just as she was almost done placing the crystals on the bed, she noticed something was amiss and threw off the blanket to reveal the gray sweat clothes Yuya was currently wearing.

“My goodness!” Aura exclaimed. “Why is Yuya wearing such bleak colors? It will only draw in more negative energy! Tell me, does he have any green or white clothing?”

“I think so,” Yoko answered. “Why do you ask?”

“Green is the color of life and growth, while white radiates healing purity,” Aura clarified. “Yuya must be dressed in those colors so his soul can properly return to his body.”

“Are you sure?” Yuto asked, sounding a bit suspicious.

“Of course I am sure!” Aura exclaimed. “Now we must find green and white clothing right away, or Yuya might never recover.”

Momentarily, Yuya’s gray sweats have changed into white pajamas with a green plaid pattern, satisfying Aura. Hopefully, it will help Yuya regain consciousness. Zuzu was hoping that whatever Aura did will help make his heart beat and have him breathing once again.

But as Aura waved incense sticks near Yuya’s face, Zuzu suddenly remembered something. “Isn’t your Arc League Championship duel coming up in an hour?”

“Never mind that,” Aura said. “I’m more concerned with the fate of the world. I have to restore the balance of darkness and light!”

Zuzu was about to say something, but Yuto beat her to it. “Look, I understand how much you’re worried about Yuya,” he said. “But you sitting here isn’t going to help. If you really want to help, get back to the tournament and warn everyone. There might be a chance that not everyone would believe you, but it doesn’t hurt to try.”

Aura looked up at Yuto. “Really?” she asked.

Yuto simply nodded in response. “Very well,” Aura said, blushing slightly. “But now that I think about it, you do have better hair that Yuya-”

“I have a girlfriend,” Yuto stated.

“Oh,” Aura said. “Well then… I better head back to the tournament.”

Aura headed towards the bedroom door and opened it as she dashed out of the room and the house, leaving behind Yuto, Yoko, and Zuzu to continue checking in on Yuya and the Ritual user’s charms so that they can work their magic. After the few moments that had just happened, Zuzu was beginning to feel like she may not mind Aura after all; the fate of the world was more important than her romantic affections and she really does seem to demonstrate that anything that is essential must come first.

But that got Zuzu thinking about Yuto. He told Aura that he has a girlfriend, but was that true? So while Yoko gave the two teens some privacy, she decided to question it.

“Yuto, do you really have a girlfriend?” Zuzu asked.

“Of course,” Yuto answered. “It’s Lulu.”

“Lulu?” Zuzu repeated. “The same Lulu you and Shay are looking for?”

“Who else?” Yuto asked in response. He looked at Zuzu. “Come to think of it, I should have known you’re not her. Lulu is too stubborn to drastically change her hair, even during a war.”

“What does her hair have to do with it?” Zuzu asked.

“Everything,” Yuto answered. He pulled up a digital picture on his Duel Disk. “Shay told me Lulu spent years learning how to maintain long hair. Even when Duel Academy attacked, she refused to cut her hair despite it being a hazard.”

Zuzu looked surprised when she saw the image he digitally pulled out. He wasn’t kidding when he said it was long; in fact, it went past her lower back and was tied into a bow-shaped style, complete with side tails similar to Zuzu’s but longer. It was even worth mentioning that the dark purple with lilac made her look beautiful.

“It looks like her hair is knee-length,” Zuzu commented. “But she still looks beautiful.”

Yuto let out a small, loving sigh as he smiled softly. “Of course she’s beautiful,” he said. “It was her natural beauty that made me fall for her.”

“How did you two meet?” Zuzu asked.

“She was taking part in a school dueling tournament,” Yuto recalled. “I saw her from the crowd and I was blown away by how amazing she was. Her sweet smile, her Rapunzel-like hair, her elegant Lyrilusc cards… I knew right away how perfect she is. I met up with her after the tournament and we have been inseparable ever since.”

Zuzu was amazed at how Yuto described Lulu and how much their relationship with each other has blossomed. And all of that happened before the Invasion? The two must be really lucky to have each other then and they will be luckier once she gets rescued. Zuzu took another glance at the picture and noticed something about the clothes Yuto, Shay, and Lulu wore. They were all casual yet tidy, especially the clothes the Obsidian siblings were wearing.

“Those outfits Shay and Lulu are wearing look a bit expensive,” Zuzu commented.

“That’s no surprise,” Yuto said. “The Obsidians were an incredibly wealthy family.”

Zuzu was surprised to hear that. “How wealthy?” she asked.

“Wealthier than everyone else from the rich and elite community,” Yuto explained. “They had countless robo-maids to help with basic necessities while they were busy with their individual schedules. It was also why Shay and Lulu have the most powerful cards in all of Heartland.”

“I could tell,” Zuzu said, recalling how powerful Shay’s Raidraptors are.

“But that’s why Shay is so upset,” Yuto continued. “When Duel Academy attacked, his and Lulu’s parents were among the ones who were carded and their house was reduced to rubble. They lost everything because of that school, so I had to follow Shay to this dimension in case he might do something reckless.”

Zuzu did remember what Shay was about to do to Julia before Yuto stepped in; heck, now that she thought about it, she was surprised on how Yuto was able to punch and carry his friend with no effort at all. Just how strong was he? His body looked similar to Yuya’s, but could he be slightly more muscular?

“My eyes are up here,” Yuto suddenly said.

The statement stunned Zuzu a little because she was lost in thought about Yuto’s strength. She must have been distracted by this thought that her eyes were glued onto his chest. Has he been working out? It was unlikely, but a book’s cover shouldn’t be judged; in other words, did he have a slightly buffer figure than Yuya and maybe this Yugo person? That was a possibility because he and the Resistance were fighting for survival while battling against Duel Academy, so he was bound to get in shape.

Not long after Aura left to warn the audience and any uninfected Duelists, Zuzu, Yuto, and Yoko all noticed some good signs coming from Yuya. His shut eyes made some movements and the sounds of sleepy moans escaped from his closed mouth. He was finally waking up!

“Zuzu?” Yuya muttered, his eyes opening slightly. “Mom?”

“Yuya!” Zuzu happily exclaimed. “You’re alright!”

“Uh, yeah,” Yuya answered, sitting up. He quickly realized there was a familiar face in the room. “Yuto? Are you wearing my clothes?”

“Your mom gave them to me,” Yuto answered.

“What happened?” Yuya asked. He glanced at Zuzu’s wrist. “And why aren’t you wearing your bracelet, Zuzu?”

“What are you talking about?” Zuzu asked. “I’ve always-”

Right as she lifted her right arm up, she noticed that her wrist was completely bare. How was that even possible? She knew she had it with her throughout her entire life and wore it two days ago. Did she accidentally leave it behind and forgot about it or did it somehow magically disappear?

“I hate to tell you this, but you have been d- asleep for two whole days,” Yuto said.

“What?!” Yuya asked.

“I’m afraid he’s right,” Yoko said. “All of that nonstop dueling these past few days must have tired you out.”

“But do you feel alright?” Zuzu asked.

“Yeah,” Yuya said. He suddenly realized what sleeping for two days meant. “But I must have missed part of the tournament.”

“You didn’t,” Yuto said, giving Yuya back his deck. “While you were dozing off in dreamland, I had to take your place. It’s a good thing you’re now awake. My throat was starting to get sore from copying your voice.”

Yuya looked through his deck, only to realize there was a new card he didn’t recognize. “Queen Dragun Djinn?” he asked. “What’s this card doing in my deck?”

“I bought it for you as an extra power boost,” Yuto explained. “It prevents your other dragon monsters from getting destroyed by battle.”

“Wow…” Yuya said, surprised by Yuto’s kind gesture. “Thanks.”

Yuya analyzed Queen Dragun Djinn’s stats to see how effective she would be in his deck. She is a Rank 4 DARK Dragon-Type XYZ monster with 2200 ATK and 1100 DEF. Yuto was right about her main effect: all Dragon-Types except this one can’t be destroyed by battle. Additionally, once per turn, by detaching one Overlay Unit, a Level 5 or higher Dragon-Type monster can be targeted and special summoned onto the field from the Graveyard with its effects negated and is prohibited to attack on the turn it was revived. While it won’t work for Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon due to him now going to the Extra Deck, maybe he could use this card to revive Rune-Eyes and Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragons…

At that moment, Yuya realized how his room was currently arranged. “What’s with all this stuff?” he asked.

“Aura stopped by,” Zuzu explained. “She was concerned about your health, so she used her supernatural stuff to try and help you-” She stopped herself from speaking.

“Help me what?” Yuya asked.

“Uh… Never mind with that now,” Zuzu said, almost as if she was trying to change topics. She took out her Duel Disk. “But speaking of Aura, I think she’s currently dueling in the tournament right now.” She opened up one of the applications that was broadcasting the Arc League Championship to show Aura’s duel, but she was given a rather unexpected surprise instead.

“And that concludes a recap of Ms. Sentia’s quickest loss ever!” Nico announced. “For those of you who missed it, she was tragically defeated by Moon Shadow on the very first turn!”

Zuzu, Yuya, and Yuto couldn’t believe what they just heard as they watched a recap of what happened. During the first turn, it looked like Moon Shadow activated some kind of effect or effects that drained Aura of all of her Life Points. Yuto was more concerned about whether she was able to warn the public about the gradual but dangerous growing darkness.

“Furthermore, Ms. Sentia also informed Moon Shadow about a virus that will kill anyone who gets it,” Nico continued. “I’m not sure if she’s telling the truth, but I hope she isn’t.”

“Virus?” Yuya asked. “What virus?”

“You have nothing to worry about,” Yoko said. “You’re alright and that’s all that matters.”

“You sure?” Yuya asked. “‘Cause it looks like you all just saw a gh-”

He then realized why Yoko had a rather worried expression: did this virus went out to try and get him? All he remembered two days ago was him about to get hurt by Clear Wing Synchro Dragon’s attack when a flash of red light appeared; everything went black afterwards. What exactly was this virus Aura was referring to? Why was it suddenly causing an outbreak during the Arc League Championship? That was when everything clicked into place.

“Was I dead?!” Yuya asked, suddenly sounding worried.

“What?” Zuzu asked in response. She let out a nervous laugh. “You couldn’t have died two days ago. I only noticed your lack of a pulse today.”

That didn’t help Yuya calm down. “I actually died…” he realized. “My god, I actually died! Do I look alright?! Did my body start decomposing?! Am I skinnier than before?!”

“Calm down, Yuya,” Yuto said. “You don’t look any different.”

“You sure?” Yuya asked. He placed his hand on his heart. “'Cause my heartbeat feels a lot slower.”

Slow heartbeat? Did that mean Yuya is now suffering from bradycardia? It doesn’t look like it since he seems to be talking and moving just fine; if anything, he should have been feeling weak, dizzy, sweaty, weary, or pass out if it was at a much lower rate, which were all symptoms of this condition. Then again, that only applies if his heart was less than 50 beats per minute and one of the causes of it is prolonged bed rest, so does that mean his heart rate is now between 50 and 60 to 100 beats per minute? Regardless, it did feel a bit unusual that his heart is slower, but as long as he regained consciousness, that’s all that matters. If he was experiencing any signs of fatigue, it would mean he needs oxygen, but since he isn’t feeling faint, it must mean it is stable, so he should at least try to take it easy just to be safe.

Before Yuto could forget, he wanted to tell Yuya who his opponent is going to be so that he could spend the rest of the second round relaxing without any risk of his heart rate decreasing any lower.

“Your next opponent is someone named Iggy Arlo,” Yuto said. “He’s a student from Bandit Warrior Academy. But I must warn you that he won’t go easy on you.”

“Bandit Warrior Academy?” Yuya repeated.

“I did some research on the school,” Yuto said. “The students are given harsh training on a constant basis, almost like a military school. Worse, they’re not allowed to see their families and friends until they become professional Duelists. Because of that, I don’t think Iggy will go easy on you.”

“How bad could it be?” Yuya asked.

“Kit Blade from the Leo Institute dueled him yesterday,” Yuto explained. “Not only did he lose, but he was severely injured, resulting in him ending up hospitalized.”

Yuya sharply inhaled as he heard what Iggy did to Kit. It is obvious that he must really miss his family and friends, but combine that with the harsh militaristic training from Bandit Warrior Academy and you get a brutal Action Duelist. What they don’t understand is how someone like him is even participating in a tournament when he clearly put another Duelist in the hospital. Did he get some kind of warning about the incident? They doubt he would listen to those in charge of the Arc League Championship and would continue dueling violently, putting Yuya at risk of injury himself, especially in his current condition.

“You sure you can’t fill in for me again?” Yuya asked, sounding a bit worried.

“I can’t,” Yuto answered. He used his Duel Disk to look up duel play-by-plays on TooYube. “If I continue dueling in your spot, other people might get suspicious.”

Yuya glanced over Yuto to see coverage from the duels two days ago and noticed how his XYZ counterpart was fumbling in the different Action Fields. It probably meant he was inexperienced with Action Duels, but he did remember how he was having a similar problem when he went up against Yugo in a regular duel. Could he be having vision problems?

“Aw, don’t look so glum,” 'Yuya’ said in one of the videos. “Who cares if you win or lose? You just have to keep on being all smiley and happy!”

Yuya was a bit offended by Yuto’s surprisingly accurate impersonation of his voice. “I don’t talk like that!”

“That’s not the point,” Yuto said. “What I’m trying to say is that when there’s a lot of movement in duels, I usually have a hard time seeing what’s going on.”

“Do you need glasses?” Yoko asked.

“No,” Yuto bluntly answered. “I tried glasses before. I look weird in them.”

“But it looks like you squint a lot,” Zuzu realized.

“What?” Yuto asked, looking surprised. “I don’t squint. I’m trying to look intimidating for when I encounter Duel Academy students.”

Trying to look intimidating? They never would have expected that it also involved fumbling around…almost as if he does need new glasses. In fact, he was squinting right now and there weren’t any Duel Academy students right now.

“That does it,” Yoko said. “I’ll have to schedule an eye checkup for you this afternoon.”

Yuto turned crimson out of embarrassment. “But I really don’t need glasses,” he insisted.

“Don’t be silly,” Yoko said. “I bet you would look a lot better if you didn’t squint all the time.”

The crimson blush faded away from Yuto’s face and he smirked at what Yoko said. It would be nice to have his vision improved since he was near-sighted, he also began to wonder if not constantly squinting would actually make him look nice in glasses. The thought filled him with intrigue and a bit of satisfaction; naturally, his ego had been fed and he quite enjoys it whenever that happens.

Zuzu was amazed. The last time she saw Yuto smile was before the Arc League Championship. Not only did his smile make him resemble Yuya, but it made him look rather cute. A dust of pink scattered across her face, but no one noticed it.

“What about my duel?” Yuya asked.

“Don’t worry about it,” Yoko said. “I’m sure you’ll win. You just have to keep being your usual positive self.”

“But if you’re planning on winning him over, don’t bother,” Yuto said. “If his bio is any indication, your Dueltaining isn’t going to magically turn him into your best friend.”

Yuya looked deeply offended at that statement. “Can’t I at least try?” Yuya asked.

“If you must,” Yuto said.

Yuya always carried his belief about bringing smiles to everyone with his duels. It has been a belief that he learned from Yusho and has cherished it ever since he was six. If he was going to start Dueltaining again, he can attempt to break through to Iggy. He can find some way to express his loneliness due to him being away from his loved ones for so long; the violent attitude of his must be a coping mechanism so that he can put up with his training. Although it would be nice to win him over, trying to make him feel better emotionally felt like a better deed. After all, when someone is feeling down, they can find a way to turn their frown around and push forward towards the light, something similar to the movement of a pendulum. Surely, his advice will be of great use to his opponent.


Chapter Text

While Yoko was taking Yuto to the eye doctor, Yuya and Zuzu arrived back at the Center Duel Field. Upon arriving, they were greeted by their friends.

“Yuya!” Gong exclaimed. “Gong was worried you weren’t gonna make it.”

“Nope, I’m here,” Yuya said.

“Well at least you finally stopped wearing that wig,” Tate remarked. “Black and purple isn’t a good look for you.”

Yuya laughed nervously a little at the thought of wearing a wig. Although it was nice of Yuto to fill in for him throughout the rest of the second round, the eggplant color of his hair did clash with the Dueltainer’s clothes. If only they had enough time to find a wig that was similar to Yuya’s own tomato hairstyle; it would have made people less suspicious about what his counterpart was doing.

“So Yuya, are you pumped for your next duel?” Allie asked.

“You bet!” Yuya cheerfully replied. “Can’t let a little heart thing bother me!”

“Heart thing?” Tate repeated.

“Ya, what is wrong with your heart?” Fredrick asked.

Yuya was taken back by the realization of what he just blurted out. “Oh, nothing,” he lied.

There was no way he wanted to tell his friends what happened during the past two days and about his slower heart rate. The last thing he needed was for them to get concerned right before the finals begin; besides, he could always try to make plans to see a doctor later on today to see if he really does have bradycardia or if he was infected by this virus Aura mentioned. For now, he focused himself for dueling Iggy and trying to find ways to help him vent about him missing his friends and family as a way to make him feel better. Yuto did say winning him over wouldn’t work, but Yuya knew that he could try an alternative to bring smiles in his duel that was directed on calming him down.

“Therapeutic Duels,” Yuya said.

“Huh?” Zuzu asked.

“Therapeutic Duels,” Yuya repeated. “Like what your dad did with me.”

Zuzu did remember what happened that evening after the four duels that went on. First, they had to try and save You Show Duel School from the clutches of LID and then they learn Yuya wasn’t the only one who can Pendulum Summon. It dealt a terrible blow on him even after he “won”, so Skip had to step in and get his dueling spirit back. Although Declan can also perform Pendulum Summons, Yuya was the only one who discovered it and that would never change.

It quickly clicked to Zuzu’s head on why Yuya even wanted to mention that duel with Skip: he wants to try those dueling tactics out on Iggy. It may look like he will Dueltain, but he will actually be acting as a therapist. “You really think that would work?” she asked.

“I hope it works,” Yuya admitted. “If what happened yesterday is any indication, he’s probably channeling all that heartbreak into aggression.”

“You really think you can reason with that Arlo guy?”

Yuya, Zuzu, Gong, Frederick, Tate, and Allie all turned around to see a certain tan-skinned girl and a spiky purple-haired boy standing not too far from them. They all recognized them as Julia Krystal and Dipper O’rion, the representatives of LID’s Fusion and XYZ Summon courses respectively. It was clear they were badly shaken up about Kit’s defeat and the severe injuries he suffered yet they were trying to keep themselves calm and knew they had to warn Yuya about the danger he was putting himself into.

“We visited Kit earlier today at the local hospital,” Dipper said. “Thanks to Iggy, the poor guy can’t even move. Two of his ribs were crushed and his left leg had to be put in a cast.”

“But worst of all, both of his hands and wrists were broken,” Julia said. She sniffled as she used the back of her hand to wipe away tears forming from her eyes. “The doctor said it could take years for him to recover. He can’t even pick up a sword or a Duel Disk anymore.”

The You Show and Strong Dojo students were rapidly filled with aghast upon hearing where Kit’s injuries were located. They knew how they were bad enough for him to land in the hospital, but they never expected them to be that life-changing. If anything, Iggy should have been disqualified for brutally crippling Kit’s ability to use his hands because he had made him unable to use his swords and play Duel Monsters.

“You better win this duel,” Julia told Yuya. “That Arlo guy must pay for what he did to Kit.”

“Don’t worry, I will,” Yuya said. “And hopefully I’ll try to reason with him.”

Momentarily, Yuya walked into LID’s Center Duel Field to initiate his Therapeutic Action Duel against Iggy. Everyone was having mixed reactions about what was going to happen; some were curious to see how the Performapal user will tackle this violent threat while others were more concerned about him ending up in the hospital much like Kit. A small drop of sweat coursed down from his forehead and he gulped from the thought of embarking on this dangerous challenge. He knew this wasn’t going to be easy and he doesn’t have a lot of experience with Therapeutic Duels and lacks the same expertise as Skip, but he had to at least try something to make sure he doesn’t hospitalize any more Duelists when the finals roll around.

“You must be Yuya Sakaki,” Iggy said, approaching the Performapal user. “I know all about your father’s legacy. You think you can walk in here and try to win me over with smiles. Well guess what? It won’t work on me.”

“I know,” Yuya said, showing no fear in his eyes as he spoke in a calm voice. “That’s why I want to make this as comfortable for you as possible.”

Iggy was surprised by that sudden statement. “What?!” he asked.

“I got some information on Bandit Warrior Academy,” Yuya continued. “I understand the loss you must be going through. But don’t worry, I’ll try to help you out.”

That confused Iggy. “Where’s the Action Field?!” he demanded. “This kid’s creeping me out!”

Pretty soon, an Action Field was selected and materialized around the Duel Field. The name of it was called Bamboo Battleground, which was the perfect setting for Iggy to unleash his dueling skills against Yuya his own way. He wasn’t going to let his Dueltaining or…whatever the heck he was currently doing get the best of him.

“Isn’t this when you give off one of your big Dueltainment speeches?” Iggy asked.

“Not this time,” Yuya answered. He simply activated his Duel Disk. “Now take a deep breath so we can begin.”

Iggy wasn’t even sure what to make of this. Was this some kind of prank Yuya is trying to pull? He hoped it was because Nico announced that their duel was about to start, and with a snap of his fingers, Action Cards were scattered all over the Action Field. The two then shouted, “Let’s duel!” to signal the beginning of the Arc League Championship’s next match. Unlike his usual Dueltaining style, Yuya had his moves all planned out ahead of time to make sure his first Therapeutic Duel will be a success.

“Alright Performapal Whip Snake, let’s see if we can bring in some tranquility to this field,” Yuya said, summoning the purple snake on his first turn.

Whip Snake sprung onto the field and raised his tail upward, which was tied to a heart that was swinging back and forth in front of Iggy. Yuya’s first method of his Therapeutic Duel was to hypnotize his opponent by putting him into a trance and trying to search for a possible root cause for his violent behavior and see if anything was linked to the Bandit Warrior Academy’s quota of not having the students see their loved ones until they become professional Duelists. What he was about to test out was an example of analytical hypnosis.

“What are you-” Iggy started to say.

“Shhh…” Yuya interrupted. “Just watch the heart and relax. Think back to the last time you saw your friends and family.”

Unfortunately, Iggy was getting impatient. “Are you done?”

“Yes, I end my turn,” Yuya said. “Now watch the heart-”

“Finally!” Iggy exclaimed as he drew a card. “I don’t know what you’re trying to do, but it was a waste of time. I summon the relentless and ruthless warrior Hayate the Earth Star.”

Hayate leapt out of the illuminating light and landed onto his monster zone. He may be a Level 5 EARTH Warrior-Type monster with 2100 ATK and 0 DEF, but his first effect allows himself to be normal summoned onto the field if Iggy controls no monsters and his opponent does control a monster. What’s worse is that his second effect enables him to negate any opposing attack that targets him once per Battle Phase.

“Hayate, hunt down that snake!” Iggy commanded.

“Wait!” Yuya exclaimed. “If you could give Whip Snake a few minutes-”

But before Yuya could finish, Hayate obliterated Whip Snake and sent him to the Graveyard, lowering the Duelist’s Life Points to 3600. If Iggy was still continuing with his Main Phase, Yuya would have activated Whip Snake’s effect to switch Hayate’s ATK and DEF just so he could proceed with his therapy regimen. He was also realizing that he might be over his head when he wanted to try and calm his opponent down, and to make matters worse, he felt his heart rate decreasing by only a slight bit. Although it wasn’t too bad, he feared that this was only a small taste of what to expect in this duel. If Iggy increases the brutality of his attacks, the young Performapal user may end up with a fate worse than hospitalization. Regardless, he has to keep pushing forward if he was ever going to succeed with his therapy treatment.

“I hope your next turn isn’t as pathetic as your last one,” Iggy said.

Taking a deep breath, Yuya drew a card and checked his hand. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to get Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. But after a bit of thinking, he was able to come up with a good strategy.

“Maybe a little music could help you out,” Yuya suggested. “Performapals Monkeyboard and Guitartle, care to lighten the mood with your combined melodies?”

He set his Scale 1 Monkeyboard and Scale 6 Guitartle onto the Pendulum Zones. One of Monkeyboard’s Pendulum effects has him become a Scale 6 if there isn’t another Performapal in the second Pendulum Zone, but because there is, he was still a Scale 1.

“And thanks to my two Performapals, I can bring out two more Performapals to accompany them,” Yuya continued. “Come on out, Performapals Gold Fang and Silver Claw!”

With Monkeyboard and Guitartle on the Pendulum Zones, Yuya was able to Pendulum Summon any monsters from Level 2 to Level 5. He decided to choose his Level 4 Gold Fang and Silver Claw because of how fluffy the two monsters are. It reminded him of a pair of pillows, so he was hoping these would help ease Iggy’s ruthlessness.

“Don’t you wanna give them a cuddle?” Yuya asked.

“No,” Iggy bluntly answered. “Now will you stop goofing off and duel seriously?!”

“Well, if you say so,” Yuya said. “Alright Gold Fang and Silver Claw, it seems Iggy is still a bit tense. How about we warm things up by building the Overlay Network?”

Everyone in the audience gasped at what they just heard Yuya say. Was he going to perform an XYZ Summon? It sure looked like it because his Gold Fang and Silver Claw were then enveloped in spheres of yellow and light blue light respectively and ricocheted towards the constructed Overlay Network. To make matters more surprising, it quickly clicked to Nico that Yuya was doing not only his first XYZ Summon, but also his first Pendulum-XYZ Summon.

“What’s this?!” Nico asked. He quickly checked Yuya’s dueling bio. “Since when has Yuya learned to XYZ Summon?!”

“Flames burning bright, reveal her majesty in all her glory!” Yuya chanted. “Bow before the lovely supreme queen of all dragons! I XYZ Summon Queen Dragun Djinn!”

A beam of fire shot out from the Overlay Network and landed on the middle monster zone, causing it to explode. As a result, the fire began to form the body of a dragon with claws taking shape and wings popping open. The flames then whooshed up towards the dragon’s head, revealing the upper body of an armored woman with piercing red eyes, gray and gold armor pieces, and armed with a lyre in the shape of The Flute of Summoning Dragon. Yuya’s intention for bringing her out was to have her act as a heating pad to help Iggy relieve any tension he may have.

“That’s your best move?” Iggy asked. “That card is only useful if you have a dragon in your Graveyard!”

“True, but there’s another reason why I summoned her,” Yuya said. “Queen Dragun Djinn, use your song of flames to attack Hayate and give Iggy a warm, fiery massage.”

But Iggy wasn’t scared. “How pathetic, Yuya,” he said. “When Hayate is the only monster I have on my field, his special ability blocks your attack.”

Hayate raised his staff and sharply pointed it at Queen Dragun Djinn, firing a light blue blast that cancelled out her attack.

“What gives?” Yuya asked. “I’ve been trying to help you!”

“I don’t need any help,” Iggy said. “You are right about Bandit Warrior Academy not letting students see their family and friends until they graduate. But during this duel, I realized something: I saw you years ago!”

“When?” Yuya asked, since this was the first time he met Iggy.

“Back when we were kids,” Iggy said. “You were training with your father. I envied you, Yuya Sakaki. So I vowed to train as hard as I could so I can graduate. I had to learn to adapt Bandit Warrior Academy’s training style to make sure I could see my own father.”

That was why he hospitalized Kit and kept rejecting Yuya’s help? He missed his own father that much? Well, it kind of takes one to know one because Yuya also missed his father too. Why else has he been dreaming of becoming a Dueltainer like him and treasuring his advice for the past eight years?

“Now if you excuse me, I will begin my turn,” Iggy said. He drew a card. “I summon Tenma the Sky Star! Now I’ll fuse these two warriors together with the help of Polymerization.”

“What?” Yuya asked.

“You’re gonna get pounded,” Iggy said. “I’ll stride hard, and bring you down fast. Never to rise again! I Fusion Summon Idaten the Conqueror Star!”

Idaten stretched out his left arm before clutching his fist, crossing his arms, and finishing off his Fusion Summon entrance with a standing warrior pose. He is a Level 10 LIGHT Warrior-Type Fusion monster with 3000 ATK and 2200 DEF who possesses a powerful yet brutal ability. An ability Yuya doesn’t know about…yet. Right now, the only thing he knew was that he was going to be in a major pickle because Queen Dragun Djinn has less ATK than Idaten.

“Hmph. I need an Action Card,” Yuya said as he started running.

“I have some bad news about this monster’s special ability, Yuya,” Iggy declared. “Since Idaten’s Level is higher than your Queen Dragun Djinn’s, your dragon’s attack points will drop to 0 during battle!”

“Oh, yeah?” Yuya retorted. “Well, good luck with that because XYZ monsters like Queen Dragun Djinn have Ranks instead of Levels, so your monster’s ability won’t work.”

Iggy was taken back by that remark; either he never knew about it or he did and forgot about it because he was more adapted to using monsters with Levels. Regardless of the reason, this did not prevent him from unleashing his usual…“strategy.”

“We’ll see about that!” Iggy yelled as he dashed through Bamboo Battleground.

Yuya ran past and through the bamboo trees to find the right Action Spell needed to turn the duel in his favor. Just when he saw one in between a bamboo tree that was split in half, Iggy sliced off a piece of bamboo and chucked it towards the ground, resulting in his opponent to trip on it. He then zipped past the fallen Yuya and grabbed the first Action Card he saw before declaring his Battle Phase.

“Idaten, attack Queen Dragun Djinn!” Iggy ordered.

Idaten launched himself up into the sky and dive-bombed towards Queen Dragun Djinn. Upon penetration, it caused her to explode and a thick gray cloud of smoke began to form, which was a perfect time for Iggy to activate his Action Card.

“I activate the Action Spell, Big Damage, to increase the battle damage by 1000!” Iggy exclaimed.

The gray smoke quickly grew thicker, giving everyone a sign that the damage had just risen from 900 to 1900. Yuya got up from the ground and rubbed his shoulder since he felt the most physical pain there. With a bit of a glance upward, he spotted the smoky cloud heading in his direction and could feel the intensity that was being stored in there. Of course, Iggy was not done just yet; he sped his way down where he was seen from Yuya’s left as he obtained another Action Card.

“And I think I’ll make the damage even stronger by activating the second Action Spell, Chain Bonus!” Iggy shouted.

Thanks to the double chain from both Action Spells, the damage step was now going to involve Yuya being dealt with a whopping 3800 points of damage. The young Duelist even felt the strength of the smoke get stronger, thicker, and faster than earlier. His friends in the audience were already worried about him because Iggy was going to win this duel and make it to the finals, meaning this Therapeutic Duel ended up being a failure to begin with.

“The path of darkness is the only possible road to victory,” Iggy stated while proceeding to run to where his opponent was.

Not one to give up easily despite his confidence issues, Yuya noticed the Action Card that was still wedged in between the split bamboo tree and lunged forward to where it was.

“That’s crazy!” Yuya shouted before being engulfed by the surging wave of smoke.

Before anyone knew it, a good portion of the Action Field’s ground was covered by a thick layer of the gray smoke that came from the destroyed Queen Dragun Djinn. Tension was also rising because everyone wasn’t sure if Yuya was able to withstand the attack and make it out of it.

“Whoa,” Skip said.

“What happened?” Gong asked.

“Oh, no,” Zuzu worryingly uttered.

“Where’s Yuya?” Tate, Frederick, and Allie simultaneously questioned.

A few seconds later, the smoke started to clear and it revealed Iggy with his foot on top of Yuya’s right arm, which appeared to have been in motion before the area was completely clouded; not to mention his right hand was empty without a single card in its grasp. Moans and groans were escaping from his mouth as his body laid face first on the ground. The only remaining questions left were if he was going to be okay and if he lost the duel or not. Within the brief depths of silence, Nico announced to everyone what had just occurred.

“He did it!” Nico vocalized through his microphone. “Yuya snatched and activated the Action Spell, Energy Biscuits, to increase his Life Points by 500, leaving him with only 300 Life Points left.”

“You see, Yuya?” Iggy asked. “Your Dueltainment style is useless. Darkness is the only true path to victory.”

Suddenly, a dark chuckle came from Yuya’s throat as he suddenly grabbed Iggy’s ankle, surprising the older Duelist. “Did you really think that could stop me?” he asked.

There was something about Yuya that seemed off to Iggy, who knew that wasn’t how he usually behaves as he struggled to free his ankle from his grasp. A dark red aura was emanating from the younger Duelist’s body and his voice sounded more demonic, but what really threw the former off was Yuya’s sinister face as he got up from the ground. The upper half was covered in a bit of a shadow with his green bangs covering his right eye; his left eye, on the other hand, looked completely soulless and had a red marking on the lower eyelid. His sinister grin helped top off this suddenly instant transformation of his.

“What’s wrong?” Yuya asked. “Isn’t this what you wanted? A dark, serious duel?”

But Iggy didn’t respond. “Heh. Thought so,” Yuya said. He drew a card. “This is the final turn for you. I summon Performapal Skullcrobat Joker, a card that allows me to retrieve my dragon from my deck to my hand.”

Zuzu was confused when that monster was summoned. “Since when did Yuya get that card?” she wondered allowed.

“But wait, I know what you’re going to say,” Yuya continued. “How could I summon Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon with the Pendulum Scale I currently have? Well here’s a bit of news: this isn’t Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!” He held up the card, which was covered in a dark red aura. “My dragon has evolved into a more powerful form. And since I already have a monster with the word ‘Joker’ in its name on my field, I can tribute it for a special summon. Now rise and strike hard, Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon!”

Skullcrobat Joker disintegrated from the field to the Graveyard as tribute for Yuya’s newest Odd-Eyes monster. A thick, dark, cloud-like substance has already been covering the Action Field from the moment Yuya stood back up, but the confused audience members also noticed the Center Duel Field was also getting dark. Rumbles of thunder echoed from the atmosphere, with strong gusts of wind and black lightning following suit. This thunderstorm that came out of the blue was focused directly on one of Yuya’s monster zones, where a dark red light was lit up and a body of aura of the same color rose up. The lightning bolts struck at the aura, causing it to explode and reveal Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon. Surrounded by black sparks, this new Duel Monster looked similar to Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, but he had a silver, magenta, venom purple, and blood red color scheme with sharper claws, scales, wings, and tail. His eye colors were now a piercing red and golden yellow instead of the usual red and green dual colors. He was manifesting pinkish-magenta flames within his upper half of his body and all four feet were cuffed with black halos emitting dark red light, one on each front foot and two on each back foot.

At Leo Corporation, Declan had spat out the sip of coffee he just took, alarmed by the new Duel Monster. His employees were currently trying to identify the dragon.

“Sir, this monster has the same energy as Pendulum energy,” one of the employees reported. “But it appears to be corrupted.”

“It’s not a monster,” Declan realized, a look of utter horror appearing on his face. “It’s a demon.”

“Now I activate Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon’s special ability,” Yuya continued. “Your monster is locked.”

“Locked?!” Iggy asked. “What are you-”

Joker Dragon raised one of his front claws and thrusted it in Idaten’s direction, ejecting two black rings and capturing the target. Black static encircled Idaten as he began to yell before being engulfed by a bright light that reduced him back into his card form and trapped him in a black electric sphere with the two black rings orbiting around it. Iggy was stunned by what Yuya did to his Fusion monster, but that wasn’t all; he turned his attention to his Duel Disk to see Idaten’s card was flipped into face-down defense position. What was the meaning of this?

Confused, Iggy tried to flip over his card, only to get a small electric shock on his hand. “What did you do?!” he asked.

“I locked your monster,” Yuya explained. “When a monster is locked, it loses all of its stats and abilities until the end of your next turn. In other words, it’s completely useless.”

“How could a Pendulum monster due that?!” Iggy demanded.

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Yuya continued. “Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon is a special kind of monster. A Joker monster: the ultimate combination of Duel Monster and Unit!”

Unit? Iggy has never heard of a Unit before when it comes to Duel Monsters. Furthermore, he knows for certain that there are no rules involving Locking monsters yet his Duel Disk read this move as legal. How was this possible? He wasn’t even sure if he should be baffled, terrified, or both by this situation.

“Now Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon, end this duel once and for all!” Yuya commanded.

Iggy let out a sigh of relief. Since his monster was set, he should be safe from any damage-

“With Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon’s skill, when he attacks a Locked monster, the damage you would have received is doubled.” Yuya continued.

In other words, thanks to the Lock ability, Idaten cannot use his effect and currently has 0 ATK and DEF, and since Joker Dragon still has 2500 ATK and 2000 DEF, he will deal 5000 damage to Iggy, making this a One Turn Kill. It was basically a much stronger version of the effect an attacking monster deals piercing damage as battle damage after battling against the defense position target who has less DEF than the attacker’s ATK. The given information about Joker Dragon’s effects scared Iggy because there was nothing he can do but watch Idaten get destroyed and accept defeat at the hands of Yuya. Joker Dragon breathed out pinkish-magenta flames that was aimed towards the Locked monster and the impact led to a devastating explosion that sent Iggy flying to another part of the Action Field. His Life Points depleted to 0 in a blink of eye, meaning he was now eliminated from the Arc League Championship.

But as the Action Field and holograms disappeared, Iggy soon found himself surrounded by a dark red aura. “What’s going on?!” he demanded. “What is this?!”

“The gift of the Reverse,” Yuya answered, now standing next to Iggy.

Reverse? What the heck was he talking about? How does he know about what’s going on? Was something possessing him? Before Iggy could ask these questions, the aura heightened its strength and his vision grew blurry. He could barely make out anything but the dark sky from above and Yuya looking down at him with an evil look on his face. He then screamed in pain from the overwhelming power of the Reverse, with his lying body arching upwards. He had utilized the darkness as a tool to get where he was in order to see his father again, but as it turns out, the darkness always finds a way to make its user into a puppet. It was very subtle, but upon closer inspection, a teardrop or two were forming as his cyan eyes became soulless. A few seconds later, his arched body collapsed back on the ground and the surrounding aura condensed itself around his body.

When it was all over, everyone in the audience was absolutely horrified and confused. Not even Nico could respond as he simply dropped his microphone in shock, causing a loud feedback. The sound of the feedback snapped Yuya back to his senses and was reverted back to normal, completely unaware of what he had done.

“Iggy?” Yuya asked. He held out his hand. “Here, let me help you.”

“It’s alright,” Iggy said, getting back on his feet. He was smiling. “Thank you, Yuya Sakaki. Thanks to you, I finally understand what I must do.”

“Huh?” Yuya asked. “What did I do?”

“You and your dragon helped me see the light,” Iggy answered. “Now to spread your message to everyone in the world.”

Yuya wasn’t sure what to make of this because all he remembered was feeling extremely weak from his rapidly decreasing heartbeat before blacking out. Was he able to get Iggy to relax and tone down on the violence? Has all of the hidden built-up emotions finally been all let out? …Did his Therapeutic Duel work? These questions made him somewhat hopeful about whatever he did that made the eliminated Duelist act like a different person. Maybe Iggy wants to try and cut ties with Bandit Warrior Academy in order to carry out this dueling method as a trend to help others who are going through tough times and get them through it all. Maybe this could be another way of bringing smiles to everyone.

With just a simple raise of the latter’s head, however, Yuya was given an answer that was the complete opposite of what he had in mind. The shock of what he saw made him speechless and his world come crashing down. The shadowed upper half of Iggy’s face, the soulless eyes, the red marks below his eyelids, the wickedness in his smile. Whatever happened to him made it clear to Yuya that it wasn’t good at all. The monitor screens displayed the results of this change Iggy underwent, leaving the audience more terrified by it.

”This is only the beginning. The beginning of the end…”

Chapter Text

Elsewhere, Dipper was in an alleyway with a cloaked person. They had just finished a duel and a dark red aura was forming around him. However, a glimpse of the clocked person’s face alarmed him.

“You’re-” Dipper started to say.

“Shh…” the cloaked person said, putting a finger to her own lips. “Don’t be afraid,” she said. “Embrace the gift of the Reverse.”

A horrified Dipper couldn’t find the right words to help convey his reaction on what was happening. What is this Reverse that she speaks of? Who was this cloaked person? She looked so much like her, but she wasn’t here, so…why does she strongly resemble Zuzu? Right as he was about to muster up strength to respond, he could feel the power overtake him as his vision began to blur due to his blue eyes becoming soulless. He then fell down to his knees, which satisfied the cloaked Zuzu lookalike.

“See?” the lookalike asked. “That wasn’t hard, was it?”

“Of course not,” Dipper answered as he stood back up. “Now to spread the will of the Void.”

“Yes,” the lookalike agreed. “It will be pleased with the progress I have made.”

Dipper raised his head up to look directly at the cloaked Zuzu-like girl with a whole new expression on his face along with the red markings given to him from the Void. Another person had fallen victim to the gift of the Reverse, pleasing her because this will help speed up the process of her plan.

“It won’t be long now,” the lookalike said. “I have already Reversed everyone in Duel Academy. It won’t be long until everyone in this dimension also joins us.”

Meanwhile, at the optometry clinic, Yoko and Yuto had already arrived and were both sitting in the waiting room. With everyone else ahead of them, they had to wait for their turn, so they decided to watch the live broadcast of the Arc League Championship on Yuto’s Duel Disk. They saw the full duel between Yuya and Iggy, and needless to say, they were just as confused and scared as the audience about what happened.

“I don’t understand,” Yoko said, voicing concern. “Yuya never acted that vicious before. What got into him?”

“It must have been that virus,” Yuto realized. “What if it caused something to possess him?”

“Like a demon?” Yoko asked.

“Probably,” Yuto answered. “His dragon didn’t look normal.”

At that point, a clinic employee entered the waiting room. “Mr. Osaku?” she asked.

Yuto tensed up. “Don’t worry,” Yoko said. “It will only take a few minutes.”

“Alright,” Yuto said. He took a deep breath. “I just hope Yuya is okay.”

Meanwhile, back at the Center Duel Field, Yuya was off in the sidelines and wasn’t okay at all. A few hours had passed and he couldn’t get his duel against Iggy out of his head, but could you blame him? All he wanted was to make him feel better and not use violence towards his opponents, but he ended up making things worse for him instead. According to Zuzu and Gong, he got those weird markings and his tone sounded more cynical. It also didn’t help that everyone was horrified by what they all witnessed, so he wasn’t in the mood to come out in public where they could see him, especially since Zuzu’s duel was coming up.

As Nico announced the introduction of Micky Starlett of Dueling Dynamos as Zuzu’s opponent, Yuya simply looked at Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. He let out a sob, horrified with what apparently happened to him. “Oh Odd-Eyes…” he said. “What’s happening to me?”

Meanwhile, Zuzu stepped onto the dueling field, ready for her duel. Even though Micky was hogging the spotlight, she wouldn’t let that bother her. “Before this duel is over, I’ll win ‘em over to my side!” she vowed.

Elsewhere, inside the back area of the stadium, the cloaked Zuzu lookalike, her associate, and Dipper all walked down the hallways in search for more people to give them the gift of Reverse. The more victims they can hunt down, the more vulnerable this dimension will be for a takeover. Not far away from them was a young man walking in the opposite direction of where they were heading. He was fair-skinned with lavender hair and green eyes and wore a dark violet, button-up shirt with dark yellow linings and the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, a red tie, a white short-sleeved jacket with an LID pin attached to it, dark pants, a tucked red and black checkered pattern handkerchief, and dark maroon shoes. He was known as Kev Ravenwood, a student of LID’s XYZ Summon course, winner of last year’s Junior Youth division and currently a participant of the Senior division. He had already won his duel and was taking a break before heading off to the finals when he spotted the trio.

“Hey, backstage is only for competitors still in the tournament!” Kev pointed out.

“Are you…a strong Duelist?” the lookalike asked.

Kev was surprised upon seeing the lookalike’s face. “Aren’t you-”

“Correct you are, Ravenwood.”

Upon hearing Declan’s voice, the lookalike threw off her cloak to reveal her identity to Kev. She had a ponytail consisting of indigo hair and light blue side tails that were the same length as Zuzu’s and light green eyes. Her clothes were a variant of Duel Academy’s female Slifer Red uniform: a three-quarter-sleeved red jacket with two black buckles and a yellow stripe with a green-and-yellow star on each sleeve, a black shirt with a purple-brown collar, a red skirt with a brown belt, silver buckle ring with two brown straps going over her torso, black biker shorts, and brown boots. Her accessories included an orange handkerchief used to tie her hair up, and a brown glove on her left hand. Her most defining physical traits were her facial appearance looking exactly like Zuzu’s; additionally, she also had the same terrifying features as Dipper and her associate, meaning that she was Reversed too. The combination of the two made Kev more concerned than he initially was.

“Declan?” Kev asked.

“You may leave now, Ravenwood,” Declan said.

“But…” Kev started to say.

“The way you won today was quite impressive,” Declan said. “I look forward to your next match.”

Kev nodded in understanding. “You won’t be disappointed,” he said.

But as Kev turned to leave, the lookalike looked rather unhappy. “Don’t move!” she exclaimed as she ran forward.

However, Declan quickly grabbed her wrist, halting her. “Lay off!” she exclaimed.

“Get going now,” Declan told Kev, prompting the Senior division Duelist to run off.

The lookalike pulled away from Declan. “Get out of my way!” she exclaimed. “Just who do you think you are?!”

The lookalike’s associate stepped forward. “Let me take care of him,” he said.

He also removed his cloak to give Declan an idea on who he will be dueling against. He was a tall, tan-skinned man with a buff body build, grayish-teal, spiky hair swept backwards, and crimson eyes. He wore a long-sleeved, dark green jacket with four pouches and the sleeves rolled up to his elbows to reveal his wrapped bandages on his forearms, a black shirt that partially covers his X-shaped scar, gray pants with a black belt, and black shoes. He also adorned with a silver pendant around his neck and an eyepatch on his left eye, which barely conceals his huge scar.

However, the lookalike looked at Declan, causing her eyes to widen in surprise. “No,” she said. “You can’t duel him.”

“But the Void wants us to spread its gift,” the associate pointed out.

“Not him,” the lookalike said. “I can sense the dueling energy of his deck. He has Pendulum cards.”

Declan raised his eyebrows out of surprise by what she just stated. She was aware of him containing Pendulum cards and told her associate not to duel him. Could it be that she may have given the former an advantage to this dueling viral outbreak? He closed his eyes and adjusted his red glasses while having his mouth form a smirk. It seems that the usage of Pendulum cards may be their weakness, Declan thought to himself. By glancing at or sensing someone’s deck, they can tell if that Duelist can Pendulum Summon or not, so they must have decided to spread their disease onto the Ritual, Fusion, Synchro, and XYZ users and avoid the Pendulum users. Seems the creation of the Pendulum cards proved to be more beneficial than I thought.

With Declan currently focused on his thoughts, the Reversed trio read his body emotion differently than him. They could tell he was fine with him not dueling with the associate at the moment and he had other plans in mind. Plans to try and thwart the Void. Not that it matters anyways. Try as he might, whatever he’s got cooking up will be nothing but feeble attempts to delay the inevitable.

Declan’s glance shifted to Dipper. “So that’s why Dipper failed to show up for his duel with Reed,” he commented, changing topics.

“Precisely,” the lookalike said. “He was chosen to carry out the will of the Void. His Constellar cards will be of great use to spread its power.”

“What exactly is this Void?” Declan asked. “And why would you side with it?”

The lookalike let out a dark laugh. “I know you tend to sell your soul during duels,” she said, referring to the Dark Contract cards. “Surely you would understand.”

“Except I know this is not you, Celina,” Declan said, addressing the lookalike by name. “We met two years ago. What made you fall into darkness since then?”

A few seconds later, Celina finally spoke. “Picture it,” she said. “You are a soldier-in-training in Duel Academy. You spent your whole life wanting to prove yourself to the head of the school. But no matter how many times you prove your strength, all he wants to do is keep you locked up, not being able to rank up into the class of elite soldiers.

"So one day, after an encounter with a mysterious young teen, you finally decide to snoop around and figure out what the ultimate goal of Duel Academy is. But after finally hacking into the computer system, you learn the truth. If the dimensions were all merged together successfully, the results would include your own death. Then it hits you: the person you looked up to all these years was merely using you as a tool to further his goals!

"But just as you’re about to give up, just as you hear people approach the room to probably erase your memories of what you discovered, you come across a mysterious entity that strongly resembles the Devil himself. This entity promises to free you from that fate of death. It will give you the power you need to fight back in exchange for you helping it spread its power. So, realizing there’s no other option, you accept this entity’s offer, letting it give you a portion of its power to defy your destined death.

"With this new power, you are finally able to fight back. But for now, upon the entity’s orders, you wait, not wanting anyone else to know about the change you went through. Even after two years, you still wait. It wasn’t time yet. You knew the cue was the disappearance of your chains.

"Ultimately the plan to fuse all the dimensions starts to take shape. That’s when you strike in the shadows, wanting to free the other ones who wear similar chains. You manage to liberate two of them, freeing them from the same fate of death. Then one day, it finally happens.”

Celina lifted up her right arm to reveal her bare wrist. “The chains you wore your whole life are finally gone,” she continued. “That was your cue. You know the man who held you hostage this whole time is now powerless. So you finally confront him, making sure he would never interfere with your life ever again.

"With the grand manipulator out of the way, you proceed to destroy all of his progress. You even free everyone who was imprisoned. But while you send some people back to their home dimensions, the others stay as part of your own personal army. And with this new army, you are able to take control of all of Duel Academy. Every defeated Duelist becomes part of your army, so you keep repeating this process until you finally convert everyone in the school over to your side.”

Declan was rendered speechless all of the information Celina revealed and had to process what he heard. This Void entity came to her because she found out about the Professor planning to fuse all four dimensions by apparently using herself, Zuzu, and their other two counterparts to fuel the merge at the cost of all their lives. Because of that, she freed her imprisoned counterparts and the non-Duelists of Heartland City, but the XYZ Duelists and the students of Duel Academy were now part of its army right after she ended her “idol’s” life before he could end hers. But that meant… Declan’s jaw dropped out of pure shock when he realized what she had done to the Professor. He was no ordinary professor. He was the same man who abandoned his family to head off to the Fusion Dimension. The same man who brought Action Duels to the Standard Dimension alongside Yusho Sakaki. The man known as Leo Akaba. His father…was dead.

“You murdered Leo Akaba?” Declan asked.

“Correct,” Celina answered. She took out a card from her deck. “But it wasn’t that hard. All I did was summon my ace and ordered her to attack him.”

“With your Duel Disk?” Declan asked.

“No need,” Celina said, the card now producing a dark red aura. “With the power of the Reverse, I can bring her to life without Solid Vision. Care for a little demonstration, Cat Dancer - Reverse?”

The card flashed a bright white light that sent out a black beam of energy into the real world. Upon impact, it exploded on the ground before materializing into what resembled the silhouette of a female duel monster with notable feline traits. The black energy vanished to uncover Celina’s ace monster coated in dark red aura: Cat Dancer - Reverse. Much like Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon, she also had a similar appearance to her incarnation Lunalight Cat Dancer but with some alterations. Her hair was white with long, luscious strands and locks of hair, her eyes were golden yellow underneath her black and magenta mask, and the colors of her clothes consisted of a black dress with long pieces of gray silk sewn all over the dress, a magenta cloth covering her breasts, a large, light and dark blue, crescent-shaped headpiece, and black barefoot stockings and arm sleeves. Instead of gold crescent moons and gold rings on her hands and feet, she had blood red Link Joker emblems and the rings were replaced with the black halos surrounded by the red light.

Declan took a few steps back in alarm. “What kind of demon is that thing?” he demanded.

“She’s not a demon,” Celina explained. “Cat Dancer - Reverse is a Fusion-Joker monster, the combination of a Duel Monster and a Unit. All of her stats remain the same, but she now has the traits of a Unit, specifically a Unit’s Grade and skill in combination with her new special ability.”

“A Unit?” Declan repeated. “What do you mean by that?”

“Oh, that’s right,” Celina said. “Didn’t anyone tell you that the Void is actually from another planet?”

Declan questioned her on what she meant by the Void being from another planet and she took it as a sign that no one ever bothered to explain to him about what the Void is because it was all new to him. To put it simply, it was his way of telling her “no”.

“And that’s why the Void chose to target Duelists,” Celina continued. “You clueless people have no idea what it actually is. What better way to invade a planet than infect itself into the unfamiliar?”

“Celina, please listen to me,” Declan said. “I understand how upset you probably felt two years ago, but you must stop. Can’t you see how this could backfire?”

“You should be thanking me,” Celina said. “Without the Void, Leo would still be alive. Now that I killed him, I ended the Interdimensional War before it could spread to other dimensions. I even liberated two of my other selves from their destined deaths, so they’re much safer in my care.”

“I beg your pardon?” Declan asked.

“Relax,” Celina said. “I’ll return them to their home dimensions once the Void is satisfied with my work.”

Declan began thinking to himself again. Her counterparts are no longer imprisoned by my father yet they’re still at Duel Academy. She ended the war to prevent the dimensions from fusing, but she’s putting them all in great danger by successfully Reversing everyone at the Academy. Does that mean she managed to Reverse her counterparts as well before setting her sights on the students?

“Then from this point forward, I will change my priorities towards stopping the Void,” Declan ultimately decided.

Celina frowned. “You dare make yourself an enemy of the Reverse?” she challenged.

“You’re spreading the Reverse to everyone in all of the dimensions,” Declan pointed out. “You didn’t end the Interdimensional War. You only changed my opposition.”

“Very well,” Celina said. She retreated her ace back into her card before taking out a different card; a Spell card called Lunar Eclipse. “You have made a grave mistake, Declan Akaba. There’s no stopping the will of the Void. This planet will be shrouded in darkness, and there’s not a thing you can do to stop us.”

A thick layer of black, cloudy fog faded in and covered Celina, her associate named Barrett, and Dipper. Declan ran towards them, but he stopped before he could reach them because the fog and the Reversed trio were all gone. With nothing else left to do, he grabbed his Duel Disk and contacted his mother Henrietta to warn her about a far more dangerous threat than the Interdimensional War.

At the same time, a young teen had just finished winning his duel not long after Zuzu’s and was walking inside the stadium. He had fair skin, gingery, spike-shaped, curly hair, green eyes, and a beauty mark underneath his right eye. He wore a long-sleeved, light blue, button-up collared shirt with a fuchsia ribbon tie around his neck, an orange jacket with an orange-yellow-black pocket on the left side no right sleeve, and a shorter right hang, gray pants, reddish-brown shoes, and a black glove on his left hand. The name of this teen was Dennis McField, an LID exchange student in Performing Arts and part of the XYZ Summon course, as well as one of the 16 Junior Youth Duelists advancing to the finals. Unbeknownst to everyone, he was actually an Obelisk Blue student and double agent from Duel Academy tasked with spying on the Standard Dimension to help the Professor retrieve Zuzu and Celina. As he idled in the halls of the stadium, his Duel Disk received a notification and sounded a ringtone; when he went to grab it, he saw that it was Yuri and Sora calling him to deliver the bad news and a warning. Curious, he answered the call.

“Oh, hey guys,” Dennis said. “I was just about to call you. I saw Zuzu in the stadium, so-”

“Forget about the mission, Red!” Sora interrupted. “You’ve gotta protect Zuzu now!”

“I’m sorry, what?” Dennis asked.

“What Sora is trying to say is that there has been a change in plans,” Yuri explained. “You see, the Professor was murdered.”

Dennis nearly dropped his Duel Disk in alarm. “Please tell me that’s one of your silly pranks, Yuri,” he said.

“This is not a joke, my second-in-command and closest ally,” Yuri said. “I found his corpse covered in bloody slash marks. There’s not doubt that it’s the work of Celina.”

“Celina?” Dennis repeated. “But I thought she escaped to this dimension.”

“I’m afraid not,” Sora said. “Worse, she has formed an alliance with a demonic entity, spreading its power to everyone she encounters. She’s probably taken over all of Duel Academy at this point.”

“Oh dear…” Dennis said.

“Now do you understand what we must do?” Yuri asked. “At the moment, it seems we’re the last followers of the Professor. We have to gather as many allies as possible to warn them about this.”

“Well at least the people we carded aren’t going to waste,” Dennis hoped.

“Except Celina had freed every single one of them,” Yuri added.

“And since she already stopped Yuri from capturing Lulu and Rin, I’ve got a bad feeling she’s after Zuzu next,” Sora said.

“So that’s why you want me to protect her,” Dennis realized. “But how could I get her to trust me?”

“Tell her you know me,” Sora said. “I already earned her trust, so using me as a reference should make things easier.”

“Alright,” Dennis said. “For the good of Duel Academy, the true Duel Academy, I’ll keep Zuzu safe.”

“Thank you,” Yuri said. “We will join you some time today. Hopefully Violet Flash won’t transport Sora and myself to another country this time.”

Dennis couldn’t help but wonder what he meant by that and Yuri explained that Violet Flash teleported him and Sora to halfway in Paradise City. He was kind of hoping they would actually end up in LID in no time, but it never hurts to try again; worst case scenario is they end up using it over and over again until they make it to their destination right in the nick of time.

Meanwhile, at LID, Henrietta was currently speaking to the Senior Division Lancers. Declan had just told her about the change in enemy, so she had to adjust the company’s plan to form the Lancers.

“I’m terribly sorry for the sudden news, but I strongly urge all of you to stay home until further notice,” Henrietta explained.

“What?” Kev asked. “But why?”

“There is a terrible outbreak going on,” Henrietta explained. “If our strongest allies are infected over to their side, the battle will turn in the enemy’s favor. You must let the decided Lancers take care of this from this point forward.”

“Don’t you mean 'defected over to their side’?” a purple-haired teen dressed in pink asked.

“No, I mean infected,” Henrietta clarified. “The virus spreads to whoever loses to the enemy. I cannot let any of you fall victim to them, so you must stay out of this war.”

Kev and the rest of the Senior Division Lancers all stared at each other from the news of the viral outbreak taking place. A pathogen capable of turning others into servers of the enemy? This kind of sounds similar to a zombie apocalypse but with it targeting Duelists instead of the entire human population. Just then, the brown-haired teen dressed in blue realized something; his head turned to his right where he saw the room’s clock and saw that it was almost noon. The finals of the Junior Youth Division were starting any minute, meaning they will most likely be vulnerable victims ripe for the taking.

But as the finalists were lined up to begin the Battle Royale, Yuya’s mind was occupied. He had used his goggles to cover his eyes, still feeling upset about how he apparently attacked Iggy. Could this be related to him having bradycardia?

While Nico was going over the Battle Royale rules, Zuzu noticed Yuya’s upset expression. “Are you feeling alright?” she asked.

“Do I look alright to you?” Yuya asked in response, a coldness in his voice.

Zuzu was taken back by the blunt response. “Is this about what happened with Iggy?” she asked.

“You and Gong said I was using a card called Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon,” Yuya recalled as he sobbed. “But I checked my deck multiple times and there’s no sign of that card.” He took out his deck, which had Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon on top. “Are you sure that’s what happened?”

“I’m sure,” Zuzu replied. She gave Yuya’s hand a gentle squeeze. “I don’t understand what’s going on either, but you can’t let that bother you.”

Yuya put his deck back in his Duel Disk. “How can I?” he asked. “What if that…thing happens again? What if I end up losing control?”

“Yuya…” Zuzu said.

“I’m sorry Zuzu,” Yuya said, his body shaking. “But I don’t think I can ever duel again.”

Zuzu felt saddened by Yuya’s claim of not wanting to duel anymore. It was his number one dream of being a Dueltainer just like his father, so seeing this demonic event take place crushed any hopes of having his dream become a reality. He doesn’t want to end up becoming a monster again, but the fear of the unknown kept lingering in his mind. Right as Zuzu was about to comfort her friend, a trembling Yuya bolted from the row of the Junior Youth finalists and out of the Center Duel Field. Nico spotted him running away and misinterpreted it as him getting too eager to wait any longer and gave himself a head start; coincidentally, there was less than a minute left until noon, and with the ARC System deployed all over the city and preparing to project the four Action Fields, he carried on with finishing his announcements regarding the Battle Royale.

“Well it seems Yuya Sakaki couldn’t wait any longer,” Nico said. “So without further ado, let the Arc League Championship finals begin!”

With a snap of his fingers, Action and Pendulum cards were scattered all over Paradise City and the gates opened up, leading to the remaining 15 Duelists to head out onto the fields to begin their Battle Royale. In Zuzu’s case, she diverted herself from the group to find Yuya since he took a different way out of the Center Duel Field. Everyone else split apart to search for the Pendulum cards in order to aide them in their duels, especially Dennis because he, Yuri, and Sora have to do whatever it takes to protect Zuzu from this new threat. He was hoping they do get here on time before it’s too late. All 16 Duelists were now all over the city, but none of them were aware of the presence of three beings because they were hiding themselves away in an alleyway shortly after teleporting and waiting for the opportunity to strike.

Chapter Text

With the Battle Royale just beginning, Yuya dashed through the streets and materialized Action Fields while keeping his distance away from the other Duelists. He was too afraid of losing control and becoming a demon again. Too afraid to even try to duel again. His fears were flooding his head as he continued to run and it got to a point where he started staggering a little and had to take a short break to think straight. He turned his head around to see if LID was far behind him, but all he saw was one big Action Field: Quartet of Quandry and it was provided with four distinct Zones: Volcano, Iceberg, Ancient, and Jungle. Yuya found himself deep within the Volcano Zone and not a single neighborhood street or Duelist in sight. He was all alone in what felt like a place where he can’t be bothered at all. Not sure what to do anymore, he ultimately sat down on the ground to think and vent about what happened.

Yuya took off his Duel Disk and looked at it. With tears seeping from beneath his goggles, he tossed it aside in a huff. He didn’t want to see his deck again, not even if-

“Well, what do we have here?”

Yuya looked up, only to see two Duelists standing next to him. “Do you mind?” he asked. “I need some time alone.”

“No need,” one of the Duelists said. “This is easy pickings for the Bandit Warrior Academy.”

Those three words sent shivers down Yuya’s spine and almost made his heart skip a beat. Just when he thought today couldn’t get any worse for him, more students that go to the same school as Iggy decided to show up and cause trouble for him. Because of that, his concerns weren’t eased at the slightest bit. Standing before him were a fair-skinned young teen dressed in yellow martial arts clothes named Taka and a taller, slightly tan-skinned teen dressed in blue martial arts clothes named Nagi.

“Stay away from me!” Yuya cried out as he got back on his feet.

“Not a chance,” Nagi said. “We saw what you did to Iggy. After your duel with him, he hasn’t been the same. Always going on and on about this thing called the Void… This is payback for apparently brainwashing him!”

“Now wager your Pendulum cards,” Taka said. “We’re challenging you to a duel!”

Realizing there was no other option, Yuya picked up his Duel Disk and took out Performapals Turn Toad and Cheermole. However, that only confused the two martial arts Duelists. “Not those Pendulum cards!” Taka said. “Didn’t you pay attention to the Battle Royale rules?”

Yuya was too busy moping about his duel with Iggy and how he was too afraid to try to duel anyone that it must have sidetracked him from listening to the rules. One of the rules was the infamous ante rule where Duelists have to find at least two LID-manufactured Pendulum cards somewhere within the four Zones and must wager them in a duel. The winner then takes said Pendulum cards from the loser and repeats this process with the other Duelists. The remaining 8 Duelists that manage to snag the most Pendulum cards before the 24-hour time limit is up will move on to the next round to further determine the Junior Youth champion. But since Yuya wasn’t in the mood to duel, he just wanted to sit out.

“I don’t think he has any Pendulum cards to wager,” Nagi realized.

Yuya let out a breath of relief. “In that case, we’ll just take those two Pendulum cards you’re holding,” Taka decided. “They’re still Pendulum cards, so it must count!”

“Fine,” Yuya said as he activated his Duel Disk. “Let’s get this over with.”

Taka and Nagi responded by activating their Duel Disks and they all shouted, “Let’s duel!” …Well, Yuya was the only one who didn’t shout it since he was still saddened—as seen by the goggles still covering his eyes—and wished he would spend some alone time.

“Uh… I summon Performapal Hip Hippo in defense mode,” Yuya said, speaking in an unexcited tone. “I end my turn.”

Hip Hippo grew stunned from the statement and it made him confused on why Yuya would end his turn this early. He turned around to see the young teen standing still after he made his move with the goggles masking his eyes to hide the tears. Hip Hippo then wondered on why his ringmaster was so gloomy in the beginning of the Battle Royale.

“You call that a turn?” Taka asked. “How pathetic! You may have caught Iggy off-guard…”

“But we’ve seen how cruel you duel,” Nagi added. “We know you don’t show mercy to anyone.”

“So we won’t show any either!” Taka said.

“No!” Yuya cried out. “When I battled Iggy, something…took over…and caused me to lose consciousness! That… That wasn’t me! Whatever happened during the final round, it made me too scared to duel again! Call this off before it happens again!”

“Not a chance!” Taka said. He drew a card. “You’re not the only one who’s got Pendulum skills anymore. I set the Pendulum Scale with Scale 5 Pendulumstatue - Purple Shield and Scale 11 Purple Sword!”

Pendulumstatues Purple Shield and Sword are both DARK, Rock-Type Pendulum monsters; Purple Shield is a Scale 5, Level 8 monster with 800 ATK and DEF while Purple Sword is a Scale 11, Level 2 monster with 200 ATK and DEF. Purple Shield’s Pendulum effect gives all Warrior-Type monsters that Taka controls 200 DEF while Purple Sword gives them 200 ATK. They also share the same monster effect: if one of them was Pendulum Summoned from the Extra Deck, a Pendulumstatue monster is added from Taka’s deck to his hand.

With his Purple Shield and Sword loaded on the Pendulum Scale, Taka is allowed to summon up to five monsters ranging from Level 6 to 10. “I Pendulum Summon Tsumuji the Earthwind Star and Arashi the Skywind Star!” he declared.

Tsumuji and Arashi landed on two of the monster zones and struck their battle poses. They are Level 6 and 7 Warrior-Type monsters with 2200 and 2300 ATK respectively and 0 DEF. Their attributes and effects are currently unknown.

“Purple Sword’s Pendulum ability now activates,” Taka continued. “So my two warriors gain 200 attack points each. Now Tsumuji, take aim and wipe out that hippo!”


Taka’s declaration for an attack set off an ERROR alarm on his Duel Disk that startled him. One of the rules to Battle Royale and tag-team duels states that no Duelist may attack until everyone in the duel has summoned at least one monster. Since this was Taka’s first turn, he won’t attack until his second turn, which would be the duel’s fifth overall turn.

“Not to worry,” Nagi said. “I activate the Action Spell Flame Ball! And just like that, 200 of your life points go up in flames.”

The Flame Ball card materialized onto the field and, like the title suggests, shot out balls of flame towards Yuya that slightly lowered his Life Points to 3800. An average person would have felt this like it was just a scratch, but even so, it didn’t faze his mopey attitude at all.

“Nice one, Nagi,” Taka said.

“Thank you, Taka,” Nagi replied.

“Ready for more, Yuya?” Taka asked. “I’m activating the Spell Polymerization! I fuse Tsumuji and Arashi. Together, these two titans combine into one furious warrior! I Fusion Summon Fujin the Breakstorm Star! And Fujin’s got an interesting special ability. At the end of a turn, for every Warrior-Type monster on the field, you’ll take 500 points of damage! Now I think I’ll turn it over to my partner, but not before he does some damage!”

Since Fujin is a Warrior-Type monster, he brought Yuya’s Life Points down to 3300, spelling bad news for him. Both Nagi and Taka have Warrior-Type monsters in their archetypes, and since he was going up against more students from Bandit Warrior Academy, he needed to get his head in the game and retaliate as fast as possible.

“Bad news, Yuya,” Nagi said as he drew a card. “It’s Pendulum time! I set the Pendulum Scale with Scale 5 Purple Shield and Scale 11 Purple Sword. I may have the same two Pendulum cards as Taka, but I’m bringing out different monsters to suit my style. I Pendulum Summon Todoroki the Earthbolt Star and Senko the Skybolt Star!”

Todoroki and Senko are Level 6 and Level 7 Warrior-Type monsters with 2100 and 2400 ATK accordingly. Their attributes, DEF, and effects are currently unknown.

“I activate my Purple Sword’s Pendulum ability,” Nagi continued. “Now my monsters get 200 attack points. Todoroki, get rid of that pesky hippo!”

With all three Duelists having monsters on the field, initiating the Battle Phase was now in effect. Todoroki bolted towards Hip Hippo and used his spiked bat to destroy it from the field. Since he was in defense position, Yuya didn’t end up losing Life Points.

Meanwhile, back at the optometry clinic, Yuto had finished his eye exam. The doctor said the same thing Zuzu and Yoko suggested: he clearly needed glasses. He had just picked out a pair with some help from his potential aunt based on what frames and color would look best on him and agreed on the light gray, rectangular ones because they match his eye color. As they waited for the doctor to give him the new glasses, they continued watching the Arc League Championship broadcast to see how Yuya was fairing.

But upon seeing the tomato-haired teen struggle, Yuto was deeply alarmed. “I have to get to him,” he decided.

“You can’t,” Yoko explained. “Because the Arc League Championship finals take place all over the city, any passerby is ordered to stay indoors until further notice.”

“But they’re holograms,” Yuto pointed out.

“That could still hurt people,” Yoko added. “It’s too risky to go out there.”

“What about Yuya?” Yuto asked. “He’s clearly upset about what happened during his last duel. I don’t know who told him to repress his feelings, but it’s not working. He’s clearly going to crack.”

Yuto wished he could go out and help Yuya, but with the Battle Royale safety guidelines in place, they have to wait until tomorrow to leave the clinic. He doesn’t want to sit and wait until it was over because what if he arrives too late? What if this demon takes over again like it did last time? What can he do without going outside? Just then, Yoko started to recall on what Yusho told his son when he was younger; when it came to difficult situations like this, they never forgot those words of advice.

“When Yuya was younger, his father told him that if he ever feels sad, he should just keep smiling and hope for the best,” Yoko said. “And he should use that attitude to keep the world entertained and smiling.”

“That’s not a good method,” Yuto said. “My girlfriend has a similar belief, but I grew up with a different method.” He reached up to his chest to grab something, only to realize he only grabbed air, causing him to briefly look saddened. “My mom told me that you should never force a smile. If you feel sad, let it all out until you finally calm down. Real happiness come from within, so only you can unlock your heart and let your true smile shine.”

In other words, he was taught to smile when you want to, not when you have to. He has treasured those words from Lono for a long time, including this was something that used to be around his neck. Much like Yuya, Yuto used to have a necklace with him ever since he was a child; it represented the memories that once belonged to his past self. From his fond relationship with his mother to the two days he first met Shay and Lulu, he kept that necklace with him at all times. Now that it wasn’t with him anymore, he felt like he lost his past connections at the hands of Duel Academy. They severed his life-changing journey with his friends and family; it has also been challenging to cope with the fact that his mom was dead, his girlfriend was kidnapped, and the Resistance might be crippling and barely hanging on as seconds tick by.

“That’s why I have to go out there,” Yuto said. “Yuya needs to learn when is the right time to smile and when is the right time to grieve.”

Yoko was touched by the eggplant-haired teen’s words. “Yuto…”

“Mr. Osaku, your glasses are ready.”

Yuto and Yoko got up from their seats and walked over to the doctor, who led them back into his office where the glasses were its case sitting on the desk. He handed the case to Yuto, who opened it up before handing it to Yoko so that he could put the glasses on. Once they were on his face, he was surprised by how he could see everything so clearly again. He wasn’t a big fan of glasses because he felt like they look weird on him, which was why he avoided wearing them, including his old dark purple pair. But now that he has one on again, he was beginning to see that he overlooked them and was becoming convinced that they may not be as bad as he initially thought.

“How do I look?” Yuto asked.

“Amazing,” Yoko answered. “I can see your pretty eyes much better.”

Yuto felt a tug on his heart due to his mom once telling him a similar line. “Is there a mirror I can use?” he asked the doctor.

“Certainly,” the doctor answered, giving Yuto a handheld mirror.

Yuto looked into the mirror to see the reflection of himself with his new glasses; sure enough, he could see just fine and had no problem with squinting. What bothered him, however, was the thought of Yoko bearing yet another similarity to Lono and could still remember that memory to this day.

”Yuto, I noticed you have been squinting a lot. Maybe you should get glasses.”

“Mom, I really don’t want glasses. They’ll make me look weird.”

“Oh, don’t be silly! Don’t you want the world to see your pretty eyes?”

Pretty eyes… Those two words kept ringing in his head as he continued to look into the mirror, noticing a small scar from behind his right ear at the same time. He knew it was when a piece of debris scratched him when Heartland Duel School was bombed. There were also dark shadows under his eyes, indicating all those nights of restless sleep during the Invasion. It was clear that Duel Academy attacking his home changed him, but what about now? With his new clothes and glasses, he no longer looked like a soldier. But he could worry about that later. Right now, he had a potential cousin to help.

“Yuto?” Yoko asked. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Yuto said. He gave the mirror back to the doctor. “But I made up my mind. I have to help Yuya.”

“But you might get hurt,” Yoko said, voicing concern.

Yuto took out his Duel Disk and strapped it to his left wrist. “I’ll be fine,” he said. “I have Dark Rebellion.”

As Yuto readied himself to assist Yuya, the latter wasn’t doing so well. After Hip Hippo was destroyed, Nagi snatched another Flame Ball Action Spell to deal 200 damage and had Senko deal 2600 direct damage. With only 500 Life Points left, Yuya watched on as Nagi activated his Frontline Fusion Quick-Play Spell to Fusion Summon Raijin the Breakbolt Star, a Level 10, Warrior-Type Fusion monster with 3000 ATK, 2200 DEF, and an unknown attribute. His effect allows him to deal piercing damage to his opponent if it destroys an opposing monster in defense position, but Nagi had other plans. He chose to end his turn so that Fujin’s effect would deal a total of 1000 damage to Yuya, securing the win for him and Taka. Right as Fujin unleashed his effect damage, another blast of light deflected the attack, negating it in the process. A confused Yuya turned around to see Dennis and a lit-up display of his Performage Damage Juggler card.

Yuya was surprised. “What the…?”

“It’s alright,” Dennis said. “You can trust me. I’m a friend of Sora’s.”

“Sora?” Yuya repeated. “Then you’re…”

“Shhh…” Dennis said, putting a finger to his lips and giving Yuya a friendly wink. “I’ll explain later. Right now, you need to calm down.”

“I’m fine,” Yuya lied. “I appreciate the help, but I really need some time alone.”

Dennis approached Yuya. “Oh, don’t be so sad,” he said, lifting Yuya’s goggles away from his eyes. “Turn that frown upside- Oh…”

He saw two small puddles of tear-water splash onto the ground and Yuya’s eyes wet from those same tears. Worse, from a single look of the young teen’s face, Dennis could also tell that there was a strong mix of horrified and heartbroken emotions, surprising him. The duel against Iggy had left Yuya scared of this demon that might be possessing him and depressed from how something this bad would happen to the defeated Bandit Warrior student. This was going to be a real obstacle to cheer him up, but how was he going to do that?

Intrusion penalty. 2000 Life Points.

Suddenly, Dennis’ Duel Disk electrocuted him as half of his 4000 Life Points was deducted and he collapsed onto the ground, baffling everyone in the duel. Apparently because he was intruding on a duel without taking part in a separate duel himself, his Life Points were automatically halved.

“I wasn’t expecting a jolt like that,” Dennis remarked. “But I must call for a time out.”

“What for?” Taka asked, annoyed with the interruption.

“Yuya is clearly not in the mood to duel,” Dennis explained. He looked back at Yuya. “Now how about you snap out of that funk and get back to the duel?”

“That won’t work.”

All four Duelists looked up to the sky to see Dark Rebellion XYZ Dragon flying towards the Volcano Zone where the duel was taking place. As it got closer, they all saw a figure sitting on his back, which Yuya immediately recognized him as Yuto thanks to his eggplant hairstyle.

When the XYZ dragon landed on the ground, Yuto walked over to Yuya. “Calm down,” he instructed, placing his hand on the Performapal user’s back. “I saw how you were behaving during this duel. You’re clearly upset about what happened with Iggy. Just take a deep breath and let it all out.”

Yuya was surprised. “B-But-”

“But nothing,” Yuto interrupted. “You can’t force a smile on your face all the time. Right now your thoughts have created a lock on your heart. I can tell how you’re trying to force that lock open. You have to know when is the right time to smile. You’re the only one who can unlock your heart and let your true smile shine.” He proceeded to give Yuya a comforting hug.

Yuya was surprised by the hug. “Yuto?” he asked.

“Shh…” Yuto said. He gently patted Yuya on the back. “It’s okay to cry.”

Yuya was at a loss for words at this point. He wasn’t trying to force himself to smile, but simply wanting some alone time to get himself back together. Was what he was attempting to do an example of him smiling when he wants to and he never knew about it until now? If so, then how did Yuto even knew what he was doing in the first place by just watching him? Was he taught some kind of differing advice about smiling at a young age? Yuya wasn’t sure what to make of this, but…he felt something in his heart unlock as if it was now free. Free from all the built up sorrow and can finally let loose and escape.

Streams of tears started to pour down from his eyes again, faster than before. Choked sobs easily slipped out of his mouth after being held back in for what felt like forever. He threw his arms around Yuto and clutched his hands onto him as tight as he could; with the two counterparts being the exact same height, Yuya’s head rested on top of his XYZ counterpart’s right shoulder as he bawled all of his tormented, sorrowful emotions.

However, given how that scene was being broadcasted, everyone in the Center Duel Field was surprised. “What’s this?” Nico asked. He quickly checked Yuya’s dueling bio. “I didn’t know Yuya Sakaki has a secret twin!”

Sylvio, on the other hand, was more suspicious. “Are you alright?” Julia asked him.

“It can’t be…” Sylvio said. “I recognize that hair and dragon! That’s who attacked me!”

Julia looked at the monitor screen and was shocked to see him again. Repressed memories were instantly unlocked as she remembered seeing him arriving just in time to prevent Shay from turning him into a card like the other LID members, including Professor Marco. At the same time, Sylvio was suddenly feeling these strange, raw, genuine emotions running through his body. He had a feeling that it was linked to the evening the lookalike showed up and felt completely guilty of accusing Yuya for attacking him; he truly was innocent all along.

“That does it!” Sylvio decided as he stood up from his seat. “I’m going to track down Yuya Sakaki and apologize to him for wrongfully accusing him of attacking me.”

“You can’t,” Julia pointed out. “We’re not allowed to leave due to the tournament’s safety guidelines.”

“Nonsense,” Sylvio said. He strapped on his Duel Disk. “Besides, I have been meaning to test out this new deck I received from Leo Corporation.” He fanned out his deck, revealing his new cards.

“What are those?” Julia asked.

“These are the Abyss Actors,” Sylvio explained. “They were custom-made just for me, making them rare and powerful: a perfect fit.” He proceeded to put his deck into his Duel Disk. “And this would be a perfect opportunity to give them a test run.”

Julia let out a huff. “If you’re that insistent, I’m coming with you,” she said. “Someone needs to be your bodyguard.”

“I really don’t need to be protected,” Sylvio said. “But if you really want to come, I won’t stop you.”

As Julia got up from her seat, she put her Duel Disk on her wrist as well and the two took off from the audience to head out into the citywide Battle Royale. At the same time, a few minutes had passed since Yuto’s arrival and he was able to successfully calm Yuya down. The latter’s crying had subsided and there were a couple of teardrops lingering from his eyelids. Surprisingly Yuto’s advice actually worked. He was feeling a lot better. Smiling softly, he gave the Phantom Knights user a hug.

“Yuto…” Yuya said. “Thank you.”

Yuto circled his arms around Yuya in another warm embrace while having a content smile on his face. He was glad that the advice he grew up with was capable of helping someone feel better. A few seconds later, two circles of light began flashing around the Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon and Dark Rebellion XYZ Dragon cards as if they were doing some sort of communicating method. The two counterparts noticed this, so they separated from the hug and looked at the circles of light flashing from their dragons.

“Will you hurry it up?!” Nagi asked, sounding impatient.

“Oh, right,” Yuya said. “Sorry. I draw!” He drew a card, which he decided to play. “I activate the Spell card Pendulum Call! Now I can call on two Magicians from my deck!” Two Pendulum Magicians emerged from the deck and he added them to his hand. “It’s showtime! I use-”

He immediately stopped speaking once his eyes made contact with two rather unfamiliar cards: two Spellcaster-Type Pendulum monsters known as Xiangke and Xiangsheng Magicians. Xiangke is a Scale 3 Level 8 DARK monster with 2500 ATK and 500 DEF; his Pendulum effect enables Yuya to target an XYZ monster he controls and use it as XYZ Material by treating its Rank like a Level while his monster effect can target a LIGHT monster on either side of the field to negate its effects until the End Phase. Xiangsheng is a Scale 8 Level 4 LIGHT monster with 500 ATK and 1500 DEF; her monster effect can reduce the opponent’s battle damage from her attacks to 0 and can make a face-up monster on Yuya’s side of the field have the same ATK as her until the End Phase once per turn. Her two Pendulum effects can have her become a Scale 4 if the opponent controls less cards than Yuya and allows him to target an XYZ monster and a Level 5 or higher monster he controls in order to have the XYZ monster share the same Rank number as the Level 5 or higher monster.

Yuya has never heard of Xiangke and Xiangsheng Magicians yet there was something about their Pendulum effects that made him wonder about something. Was this in response to Odd-Eyes and Dark Rebellion lighting up? Upon closer inspection, he noticed how both effects involve XYZ monsters, meaning they must be XYZ support cards; to put it simply, it must be connected to the lights surrounding the two dragons. These effects were most likely labeled specifically as Pendulum because it must be showing some kind of hidden connection between the two counterparts; he wasn’t certain on what that connection is, but he was amazed to know how Yuto’s assistance was paying off.

“As I was saying…” Yuya resumed. “I use Xiangke Magician and Xiangsheng Magician to set the Pendulum Scale! I’m taking control of this duel starting now!”

With his two new Magicians loaded onto the Pendulum Zones, Yuya can summon any monsters between Levels 4 and 7; because Taka and Nagi control more cards than Yuya, one of Xiangsheng’s Pendulum effects doesn’t activate and she remains a Scale 8.

“I’m allowed to summon monsters from Levels 4 through 7 all at the same time!” Yuya continued. “Swing far, pendulum! Carve the arc of victory! My monsters are ready…to SWING INTO ACTIOOOOOON!”

A large replica of Yuya’s pendant swung back and forth in a pendulum motion past Xiangke and Xiangsheng as the “Pendulum portal” opened up and three trails of orange, purple, and red aura zipped out of it and landed on the field.

“Skim and skip, Performapal Skeeter Skimmer!” Yuya announced. “Flash a smile, Performapal Helpprincess! And last, but certainly not least: turn up the heat, Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!”

He has been meaning to try out his new Performapal monster for a while and he wasn’t missing out on that opportunity. Helpprincess is a Level 4 DARK Warrior-Type monster with 1200 ATK and DEF. Her effect allows her to be special summoned onto the field whenever at least one Performapal is normal or special summoned except her and except during the damage step.

With Helpprincess making her debut, there was something about her appearance that made Yuto remind him of a certain special someone. He couldn’t stop staring at her long dark purple pigtails and adorable magenta eyes; additionally, when she saw him, she blew a kiss at him, causing him to madly blush.

“My god…” Yuto muttered, somewhat alarmed. “Why does that monster look just like Lulu?”

“But I’m not done!” Yuya continued. “Skeeter Skimmer and Helpprincess won’t be around for long, ‘cause I’m using them to build the Overlay Network! Flames burning bright, reveal her majesty in all her glory! Bow before the lovely supreme queen of all dragons! I XYZ Summon Queen Dragun Djinn!”

Trails of orange and purple lights from Skeeter Skimmer and Helpprincess had flown into the Overlay Network, which led to a burst of energy exploding from within it. This, in turn, led to the XYZ Summon of Queen Dragun Djinn being summoned right next to Odd-Eyes; surely, she will be of great use like she was previously, but hopefully utilizing her will have much better results when compared to earlier in the second round’s end.

“But wait, there’s more!” Yuya cheerfully said. “Now, I wish to perform a new trick with Odd-Eyes and his fiery queen, but it seems she’s not in the right attire. Luckily I have the right assistants. Xiangke Magician and Xiangsheng Magician, combine your magical powers and use your Pendulum abilities to give Queen Dragun Djinn the same level as Odd-Eyes!”

Xiangke raised his weapon-like wand and aimed it towards Queen Dragun Djinn, releasing a light blue circle containing a decagram and hovered it towards the target to turn her to a Level 4 XYZ Material monster. Xiangsheng followed suit by firing her arrow at Djinn and Odd-Eyes so that they will both be Level 7. Everyone knew exactly what Yuya was about to do.

“Now watch as I use both Odd-Eyes and his queen to rebuild the Overlay Unit!” Yuya continued. “Give rise to the ultimate combination of queen and subject: Flame-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!”

Fire encircled around the Overlay Network as it manifested itself into the body of a dragon. Different patches of flames dispersed to chronologically reveal the wings, claws, glowing scarlet eyes, and the entire body. With his mighty roar, Flame-Eyes Pendulum Dragon appeared onto the field; one might say that he shared some physical traits to Odd-Eyes and Djinn and they would be right. He is also a Rank 7 DARK Dragon-Type XYZ monster with 3000 ATK and 2500 DEF. His primary effects prevent himself from being destroyed from battle if one of the XYZ Materials is an XYZ monster. Also, if he was destroyed by battle or card effect from the monster zone, Yuya can target a card in the Pendulum Zone and special summon it. Third of all, by detaching an XYZ Material, a Level 5 or higher Dragon-Type monster or a Level 5 or higher Dragon-Type Pendulum monster can be targeted from either the Graveyard or Extra Deck respectively and special summon onto the field.

“Unbelievable!” Nico announced. “Yuya Sakaki is the first person to try such a trick! Not even the strongest XYZ Duelists have used XYZ monsters for an XYZ Summon!”

Taka and Nagi were surprised. “Hey, wait a minute!” Nagi realized. “This is nothing like how you defeated Iggy! Where’s that Joker monster of yours?”

“Sorry, but I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Yuya cheerfully admitted with a shrug. “I don’t have any Joker monsters. Now I hate to do this, but Flame-Eyes is going to have to get rid of Fujin before I lose any more life points. Inferno Spiral Strike!”

Taka smiled. “Nice try!” he said. “But both of our monsters have the same attack points. You’ll only destroy your monster as well!”

“That’s not true at all,” Yuya said. “Since I used Queen Dragun Djinn to XYZ Summon Flame-Eyes, he won’t get destroyed.”

Taka was shocked at the counter Yuya used; this new XYZ monster really has that ability? He looked up to see the two monsters duking it out and they were quite evenly matched. They landed their final blows, but thanks to Queen Dragun Djinn, she used her energy to protect Flame-Eyes. Although Fujin was destroyed, Taka didn’t lose any Life Points because both monsters’ ATK were 3000.

“That ought to take care of that pest,” Yuya said. “And I do believe it’s your turn, Dennis.”

“Gladly,” Dennis said. He drew a card. “I’ll start things off by setting my Pendulum Scale with the two Performages Mirror Conductor and Plushfire! Time to begin my own brand of entertainment!”

Both Performages are Level 4 Spellcaster-Type Pendulum monsters, but Mirror Conductor is a Scale 3 with a LIGHT Attribute, 600 ATK, and 1400 DEF while Plushfire is a Scale 5 with a FIRE Attribute and 1000 ATK and DEF. Mirror Conductor’s effects both occur once per turn; its Pendulum effect allows Dennis to target a face-up special summoned monster and have its ATK and DEF equal to its current ATK and DEF (whichever is lower) until the End Phase—even if this card leaves the field—while its monster effect can target a face-up monster to switch its ATK and DEF until the end of the turn it was activated, but Dennis has to pay 500 Life Points if this effect was activated. Plushfire’s effects involve the destruction of Performages through battle or card effects; once per turn, its Pendulum effect allows itself to be special summoned from the Pendulum Zone at the cost of 500 Life Points if at least one Performage Dennis controls is destroyed while its monster effect involves a Performage monster excpet this card to be special summoned from the hand or deck.

“Now I add a little Spell card to the mix,” Dennis said. “Pendulum Fusion! It lets me commence a Fusion Summon with my two Pendulum cards. Mirror Conductor and Plushfire, combine your powers together and reveal the true strength of Performages! I Fusion Summon Performage Gear Peace Giant!”

Performage Gear Peace Giant is a Level 10 LIGHT Machine-Type Fusion monster with 4500 ATK and 3000 DEF and looks like his Trapeze Magician if it was an Ancient Gear monster. It requires two or more Performage monster to Fusion Summon it and cannot be special summoned by any other way. It is also unaffected by Spells and Traps, but its third effect doubles battle damage if it attacks and destroys a special summoned monster. Dennis knew this card would be perfect to seal his and Yuya’s victory and he also doesn’t need to hide his true colors because of his new motives. It was practically a win-win scenario for him. Unfortunately, that monster drew in a bit of panic for Yuto.

“Wait a minute…” Yuto said. His eyes widened behind his new glasses. “You’re-”

“I used to be,” Dennis interrupted, knowing what Yuto was going to say. “But because of a tragic murder, I have a new goal in mind. Peace Giant represents my new image. Even if you don’t trust me yet, you have my word that I will use my dueling skills for good.”

“But you were still responsible for kidnapping my girlfriend!” Yuto pointed out.

“Not exactly,” Dennis admitted. “But I’ll leave you with this: beware the demon cat from Hell.”

The demon cat from Hell? Yuya and Yuto looked at each other with confused expressions on their faces. Was it an actual demonic cat…or a dreaded Duel Monster? Whatever the case is, they decided to take Dennis’ advice and try to avoid it by any means necessary. Yuto was still a bit suspicious about what was going on, but there was nothing he could do about it except watch this duel conclude.

“Performage Gear Peace Giant, attack Raijin!” Dennis declared. “Ancient Magic Blast!”

While that was going on, a familiar ponytailed figure was standing somewhere in the Jungle Zone and watching a hologram screen projected in the air. Her soulless eyes were simply glaring at the screen with utter suspicion; there was something about Yuya and Dennis that got her thinking. Why did Yuya say he didn’t have Joker monsters in such an innocent tone as if he had no idea what their opponents were talking about? And how does Dennis know about her Cat Dancer - Reverse, or her 'demon cat from Hell’ as he just referred to it? They clearly go to the same school…at least before it went “under new management”. Did he saw, heard, or learned what she did to the Professor? She scowled at Dennis, knowing she found herself a new enemy, and shifted her glance towards Yuya. Despite the different color scheme, his face was exactly like the mysterious boy she met when she was younger.

A lookalike with rather dubious claims about Joker monsters and a lingering Duel Academy student? She smirked as she took out her Cat Dancer - Reverse card. “My mission just got more interesting,” Celina stated as she stared at her ace before turning her attention back up at the screen. It had just changed to a broadcast of the Ancient Zone where Shay was dueling against three members of the Knights of the Duel Disk. She then walked away from the screen and deeper into the Jungle Zone, searching for more victims to give the gift of the Reverse, deal with Dennis, and see what this tomato-haired lookalike’s deal is.

“It won’t be long now, my master,” Celina said, referring to the Void. “Now is the time to strike.” She pressed a button on her altered Duel Disk. “Hopefully that Truesdale Duelist will be perfect to launch the initial attack.”

Chapter Text

Ah, the wondrous dueling school known as Duel Academy. Located in the Fusion Dimension, this school is where the most skilled Duelists go to become among part of Leo Akaba’s team of elite soldiers.

Or at least, that’s what it used to be.

No one saw it coming and it was too late for the students to retaliate because they had taken over all within the span of only two days. Smoke hissed from the huge piles of rubble scattered all over the island. The attached towers were either destroyed, ripped from the Academy, suffered damage, or a combination of the three. Different buildings also endured the same casualties and a few of the docks had been dismantled from the severe battle damage that was dealt. Any students who survived the onslaught have been facing with the grim, harsh reality that the school they grew up in was now gone. It now went under a new name and it was called Reverse Academy.

The large percentage of the students had been Reversed and still follow the same strict set of rules and the “By-the-Book” method, but it was all for a different purpose: create the perfect world as imagined by the Void. They have been converting the wrecked duel school into what resembles a demonic cult; there was a vast amount of candles standing around every hall and corner, draperies with the Link Joker emblem were hung up in the rooms that contained little to no damage, and everyone attending there wore dark-colored cloaked robes like Celina and Barrett. Progress was still being made on not only Reverse Academy’s appearance, but that was the job of those who were not assigned to carry out the mission to handle the “renovation”.

Right now, a special task was going to be made for one of the Reversed students. In the Professor’s old throne room, a tall teen received a notification on his altered Academy-issued Duel Disk. He had teal hair divided in three sections with the bangs hovering above his blue eyes, fair skin, and wore a white variation of the male Obelisk Blue uniform. He was known as Zane Truesdale, a legendary Duelist in the Fusion Dimension who used to be a student at Duel Academy. With him already falling victim to the Reverse, he had recently returned to help carry out the Void’s orders. He was currently left in charge until Celina returns from her assignment in the Standard Dimension, so seeing the head agent calling him meant this was going to be important.

Zane opened his Duel Disk’s communication function, very little emotion showing on his face. “Hello Celina,” he said. “Have you made progress with Reversing the Standard Dimension?”

“I have,” Celina answered. “I was able to Reverse a small number of Duelists, but that should be enough to Reverse everyone else. But my top priority is finding Zuzu Boyle. Once I find her, I’ll come back to Reverse Academy.”

“But the chains you once wore are gone,” Zane pointed out. “There’s no need to liberate her, as you call it.”

“I have witnessed her duels,” Celina explained. “She is one of the more powerful Duelists of the Standard Dimension. Once I liberate her, fulfilling the Void’s wishes will be much easier. But there’s more. There are still former students who oppose us: Sora Perse, Dennis McField, and Yuri.”

“So the Professor’s prodigy sides against us,” Zane noted. “The Void will not be happy to hear that, wherever it currently is.”

“Speaking of our master, I also made a discovery,” Celina said. “And it has to do with the Void’s ultimate plan to Reverse everyone in all four dimensions: someone might have access to Joker monsters.”

“Why should that be a concern?” Zane asked. “You know I have Joker monsters as well, ones that replaced my Cyber Dragons.”

“Because he sounded too innocent,” Celina explained. “But I don’t have time to track him down. I need someone to scout ahead and locate this rumored Joker user.”

“And you want me to handle it?” Zane assumed. “I appreciate how much faith you have in me, but I need to overlook the medical procedures Bastion has completed.”

“Not you,” Celina corrected. “I need your brother.”

“Are you sure?” Zane asked. “You know how ruthless he can be, even before he was Reversed.”

“I’m sure,” Celina insisted. “He’s the perfect candidate to start our takeover of the Standard Dimension.”

“Very well,” Zane said. “I will send him to Standard as soon as possible.”

Within moments, a flash of icy blue light shone just outside of the Ancient Zone; coincidentally, it just so happened to be right near the alleyway where the three beings were hidden away from plain sight. The trio looked over to their right to see the light and ran towards it, awaiting for the arrival of their companions and their commander. Once it diminished, it revealed a few more people dressed exactly like them but with different colored lenses for each soldier. Leading them all was a short, fair-skinned teenager with light blue, fluffy hair sectioned into three layers, gray eyes underneath the three bangs closest to his face, a pair of small, circular glasses, and donning a slightly altered male Obelisk Blue uniform. He was known to everyone as Syrus Truesdale, Zane’s younger brother who was originally a Slifer Red student but made it through Ra Yellow and up to Obelisk Blue over the years thanks to the intense amount of strict, ruthless training and lessons.

“Commander Truesdale!” one of the soldiers exclaimed with a salute. “What a surprise to see you!”

“Save your breath, Torrey,” Syrus said, speaking in a cold tone. “My brother sent me to this dimension on orders given by Celina. It seems her obsession with finding her other selves is keeping her occupied. So how is the progress?”

“Everything is proceeding according to the Void’s plan,” Torrey reported. “Mukouda, Isaka, and myself have Reversed about three Duelists.”

“That’s all?” Syrus asked. “How pathetic.”

Torrey was surprised by Syrus’ words. “But Commander Truesdale, the Void wants us to Reverse every Duelist who doesn’t have Pendulum cards!” he explained. “So far most of the Duelists we came across already has them!”

“Then make sure everyone in this dimension loses their Pendulum cards!” Syrus snapped. He let out a huff. “Must I do everything?”

It was bad enough he already has his hands full with his own mission. Earlier that same day, he was called into the throne room because Zane had retrieved information from Celina; his main objective was to seek out this Yuri lookalike because he might be in possession of Joker monsters. He does have an idea about the latter’s appearance because Celina did mention about the two sharing the same facial structures. Also, with his small group of Obelisk Force soldiers plus the ones scheduled to arrive briefly, taking over the Standard Dimension should be simple enough as long as they confiscate those Pendulum cards. Besides, how much of an impact would Reversing three measly Duelists even have?

“So what brings you here, sir?” Torrey asked.

“Celina wants me to track down a Duelist who might have access to Joker monsters,” Syrus explained. “Have any of you seen a 14-year-old boy who resembles Yuri but with messy hair and casual clothing?”

“I have,” Torrey reported, showing a broadcast from his Duel Disk. “His name is Yuya Sakaki. He doesn’t have the same bushy eyebrows as Yuri, but his other facial features and voice are very similar.”

“I see,” Syrus said, watching the broadcast carefully. “May I see the other duels he was in?”

“Actually, Commander, you might want to check TooYube,” Isaka suggested. “There is a video you might want to watch.”

“We don’t have time watching pointless videos!” Syrus pointed out.

“But sir, this one is kind of important,” Isaka insisted, using his own Duel Disk to play the video. “It was what made Celina come to Standard in the first place.”

The video playing on Isaka’s Duel Disk was during Yuya’s duel against Iggy. The young Duelist’s demonic Reversed side had just made itself known and he had brought out Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon. He declared his attack to secure his victory through a One Turn Kill, but what happened after that piqued Syrus’ curiosity. Yuya had Reversed Iggy, but once the duel was over, Nico had dropped his microphone, causing the former to go back to normal due to the feedback; he didn’t remember what happened until he saw his defeated opponent’s face. After the video ended, Syrus proceeded to quickly piece together what Celina meant when she said Yuya sounded too innocent. The presence of Joker energy drew her into the Standard Dimension and seeing him in the Battle Royale made her suspicious of him.

“Wait a minute…” Syrus said, his eyes widening slightly. “That dragon looks familiar.”

“I know,” Isaka agreed. “It looks a lot like Glendios.”

“Of course!” Syrus exclaimed. “The Void’s signature Unit! But that would mean…”

The Void is using Yuya as a puppet; in its current state, it used enough energy to take control of him. Despite the microphone feedback snapping him back to normal, it was still enough for its pawn to initiate its side of its master plan. With the increasing number of Reversed soldiers, it would grow stronger and soon fully reveal itself through him eventually. Syrus smirked sinisterly at this revelation of Yuya being the Void’s host; in fact, his mission just got a whole lot interesting.

“There has been a change of plans,” Syrus said. “We must locate Yuya Sakaki so we can see if our master has chose him as its current host.”

Meanwhile, thanks to Violet Flash cooperating with him, Yuri and Sora had managed to successfully arrive just outside of the Battle Royale. They are currently staying at a motel, mainly because there was no way Yuri wanted to make himself known to the public, especially to his counterparts after attempting to abduct Lulu and Rin. The last thing he needed was for his past actions to burn into everyone’s brains and draw alarm; the war against the Reversed Duelists is already a threat as it is.

So while Sora was currently in the motel’s dining room splurging on free sweets, Yuri was still in the rented room, looking at Starving Venom’s card. “Oh, my treasured pet,” he said. “Whatever are we supposed to do?”

“Help me!”

Yuri looked up in alarm. “Who said that?!” he demanded.

“I did, plant boy! Now hurry up and help me!”

Yuri turned to his left to see an apparition standing in front of the motel room’s window. He rapidly realized this was no ghost—it was a Duel Monster Spirit! Not only that, but he recognized her as Celina’s ace monster prior to the Reverse outbreak! What was Lunalight Cat Dancer even doing here?

“I don’t suppose you’re here to slash my chest and throat as well,” Yuri said with disdain in his voice.

“I only attack Celina’s opponents in duels,” Cat Dancer said. “And my attacks don’t cause actual damage.”

“Then how-” Yuri started to ask.

“How was I able to attack Leo Akaba?” Cat Dancer asked in response. “That wasn’t me. The entity known as Link Joker was manipulating my body. Luckily I was able to transfer my consciousness to your deck before I was Locked.”

“My deck?!” Yuri asked in disgust. “Get your filthy paws off my lovely Predaplants!”

Cat Dancer let out a frustrated sigh. “It’s not like I had a choice,” she admitted, sitting next to Yuri on the bed. “I could have transfer my consciousness to any deck, preferably that of Declan Akaba. But for some reason, your dragon seemed to call out to me, so here I am.”

“How dare you make such a false accusation!” Yuri cried out. “Starving Venom would never associate himself with the likes of you!”

“Then why is he getting all chummy-chummy with me?” Cat Dancer asked.

Right as she said that, Yuri saw Starving Venom Fusion Dragon’s spirit next to Cat Dancer and he was purring. He also could have sworn he heard occasional small, content growls. His jaw was left ajar and his arms went limp at the sight of his beloved pet getting smitten with Celina’s feline ace.

“What do you think you’re doing?!” Yuri asked. “You know you’re not supposed to fraternize with the enemy!”

“I guess he’s willing to make an exception with me,” Cat Dancer said as she scratched Starving Venom under his chin.

“Enough with that,” Yuri said, changing topics. “You said you need me to help you.”

“I do,” Cat Dancer explained. “You have to get Celina to snap out of it. She’s not completely Reversed.”

“Not completely?” Yuri repeated. “I saw the damage she caused.”

“Exactly,” Cat Dancer. “The Void didn’t tell her to kill Leo and destroy all of Duel Academy. That was her doing. The only thing the Void did was give her the power she needed to overthrow the school.”

Yuri’s eyes shot open wide and his bushy eyebrows sharply raised up at what he just heard. The shock was so intense, his Starving Venom card fell out of his hand and landed on the floor as his mind comprehended the given information. Leo’s sudden murder and the massively hysterical epidemic going around Duel Academy… All of that was only Celina’s doing?! She was solely responsible for the uprising?! In only a matter of seconds, his eyebrows lowered and started to twitch, his upper and lower jaws pushed against each other, his hands clenched shut to form two fists, and subtle trembles shook his body. All the years spent growing up under the care of someone who valued his powerful skills and talent, taught him etiquette and proper manners, and served as a father figure to him… They came to an abrupt halt…at the hands of the same girl he met when they were young.

“How dare she cause such a ruckus!” Yuri shouted, tears forming from his eyes. He stood up. “You here me, Celina?! You will pay for the damage you have caused!”

Starving Venom used his tail to wipe away the tears from his master’s eyes, sadly growling in response. “I take it that Leo meant a lot to you,” Cat Dancer noticed.

“Of course he does,” Yuri responded, having slightly calmed down from his outburst. “As well as Duel Academy itself. It was the only place I ever called a home, and the Professor was the closest thing I had to a true father figure. He never made it official, but it always felt like he adopted me.”

Cat Dancer couldn’t help but feel somewhat bad for Yuri. She knew Celina was devastated to learn the truth about Leo’s plans, but she admittedly never took into consideration about how her actions would affect the other students. It all happened too quickly; before anyone could get a chance to discover Leo had died, all the carded Duelists were freed and Reversing most of Duel Academy and quickly took control thanks to the Void and its Units merging with Duel Monster cards to create horrific, monstrous demons, including herself.

“But that’s why you have to help me,” Cat Dancer said. “Yet you can’t do it alone. You need to team up with your other selves.”

“I beg your pardon?” Yuri asked as he picked up Starving Venom’s card. “Why would I do that?”

“Because I believe you’re the key to freeing Celina from this twisted insanity,” Cat Dancer admitted. “The same way your other selves are drawn towards their female friends.”

Now that he thought about it, Yuri did remember seeing his XYZ and Synchro counterparts accusing each other of kidnapping their respective female friends. It further proves how strong their connections are regardless of what dimension they originated in. Although Yuri and Celina met each other a couple years ago and haven’t had that much of a bond, that connection is still there, and with the fate of the dimensions on the line, it may be time to put it into good use.

“Well, if you insist, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to…ugh…ask them for help,” Yuri said.

“Thank you for cooperating,” Cat Dancer said.

At that moment, Sora returned to the room with a bag full of candy. “Who’re you talking to, Yuri?” he asked.

“What?” Yuri asked. “You don’t see them?”

“See what?” Sora asked in response.

Yuri wasn’t sure how to explain this since this was the first time he ever saw Duel Monster Spirits; the only ability he knew he can do was communicating with Starving Venom. Was this an advanced version of this ability where he can also see him and other Duel Spirits? Were a selected few aware of this as well mainly because they possess it too? He was hoping this wouldn’t be too long of an explanation; for all he knows, Reversed Academy could be arriving at any minute.

Back at the Battle Royale, a duel was taking place on the outskirts of the Ancient and Jungle Zones. A well-known chef and Duelist named Reed Pepper was currently locked in a heated battle against Syrus with Yuya’s whereabouts on the line. His Cookpals were holding up surprisingly decent against Vehicroids; of course, this duel wasn’t even over yet because Syrus was getting ready to unleash his ace Joker monster.

“What a pity,” Syrus said. “Your Cookpals appear to be the strongest monsters I have ever faced.” A sinister grin appeared on his face. “They’re perfect for Link Joker to influence.”

“Link Joker?” Reed repeated, trying hard to stay calm. “What’s that?”

“Oh, you’ll find out soon enough,” Syrus answered. “With the Spell card Joker Fusion, I combine the two Cycroids in my hand to bring out a new type of monster: a Fusion-Joker hybrid known as Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse!”

As the name suggests, Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse is the Link Joker counterpart of Pair Cycroid. Resembling more of a two-up-seated motorcycle than a tandem bicycle, its design consisted of a white and dark gray color scheme with yellow and red linings, gray, robotic hands, blinkers that were light green on the front and magenta on the back, blood red eyes, and the red-lit black halo behind it. It is also a Grade 2 Machine-Type Joker-Fusion monster with 1600 ATK and 1200 DEF. Its Fusion materials must be two monsters with the same name in order for it to be Fusion Summoned. It can also attack its opponent directly but—much like Life Force—leave a damaging effect on life points, hence its given name.

“Now I activate Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse’s special ability!” Syrus continued. “Since I used two monsters to summon it, I can Lock two of your monsters! I Lock Royal Cookpal Prince Curry and Royal Cookpal Princess Pudding!”

“Lock?!” Reed repeated. “What are you-”

Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse revved its engine and launched two black halos towards Prince Curry and Princess Pudding. The two monsters became trapped and surrounded by black electricity when they were soon swallowed up by bright light that reverted them to their card forms. The light then encased each of them in two, black, electric spheres with two black orbiting rings. Reed was baffled by what had just happened and one glance at his Duel Disk left him speechless at the sight of his monsters in face-down defense position.

“Don’t bother touching your cards,” Syrus said. “When a monster is Locked, it loses all of its stats and abilities until the end of your next turn.”

“That’s alright,” Reed said, looking back at his remaining monster. “I activate Royal Cookpal Knight Pasta’s special ability-”

“I don’t think so,” Syrus interrupted.

“Huh?” Reed asked.

“It’s Joker Fusion’s secondary ability,” Syrus explained. “By banishing it from my Graveyard, your remaining monster is also Locked.”

Joker Fusion soared out from the Graveyard portal and lit up before disintegrating to let Reed know it was banished. Once that was done, a black ring materialized around Knight Pasta and Locked him into place alongside Prince Curry and Princess Pudding.

Reed looked deeply surprised. “I can’t believe it…” he said. “You’re the second person to defeat my Royal Cookpals, but I’ve never seen these tactics! What are they?!”

“These are Joker monsters,” Syrus answered. “They’re combinations of Duel Monsters and Units. They have abilities like typical Duel Monsters, but they also have skills that give them advantages when monsters are Locked. For instance, Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse has two skills. The first one deals you 400 points of damage for every Locked monster on the field.”

Three Locked monsters meant 1200 points of effect damage will be dealt to Reed. With each Locked sphere unleashing 400 damage each, they all zapped black bolts of electricity at him to lower his Life Points. Of course, like Syrus said, this was only just the first of Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse’s two skills.

“But that’s not all,” Syrus continued. “With Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse’s second skill, it can attack you directly for every Locked monster on the field.”

Reed was alarmed with that information. “That’s…”

“Far more than 2800?” Syrus interrupted, referring to Reed’s current life points. “That’s the power of Link Joker. Now go, Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse! Finish off this duel once and for all!”

Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse charged up its motor and accelerated towards Reed for a triple direct attack. Each strike and blow lowered his Life Points by 1600, giving him no time to react after it kept passing him; by the time the third attack was done, the 4800 damage points had completely depleted his Life Points and secured an easy win for Syrus, who was eagerly and sadistically anticipating the result of dueling someone with the Link Joker archetype.

Suddenly, the dark red aura of the Reverse started to surround Reed. “What’s going on?!” he demanded. “Are you even part of the tournament?!”

“Of course not,” Syrus answered. “Now become one with the Reverse!”

Reed shot open his usually shut eyes out of petrified helplessness to reveal his grayish purple irises glued onto the surrounding aura sucking him deeper into the Reverse’s influence. Within seconds, his pupils and white highlights vanished as his eyes obtained a soulless demeanor and red markings faded in underneath his lower eyelids.

At that moment, Reed’s newfound friend, a Duelist named Trout, ran over to him. “There you are!” he exclaimed. “I know we’re supposed to be allies, but you can’t run off like that!”

However, Reed didn’t respond. “Reed?” Trout asked. “You feeling alright?”

Reed looked over at Trout. “Are you…a strong Duelist?” he asked.

Chapter Text

“Go, Flame-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!” Yuya exclaimed with a friendly wink. “Finish things up with Inferno Spiral Strike!”

Back at the Volcano Zone, one of the first Battle Royale duels was just about to end. Dennis had already defeated Nagi and it was Yuya’s turn to help finish things off. Flame-Eyes’ attack successfully took out the rest of Taka’s Life Points to help declare victory for Yuya and Dennis.

“I must say, Yuya,” Dennis said once the two got the anted Pendulum cards. “Your strategies are quite amazing. Where did you get a card like Queen Dragun Djinn?”

“Yuto got it for me,” Yuya answered.

“Did he now?” Dennis asked, looking over at Yuto.

“Save it,” Yuto said. “You have some explaining to do.”

“Well, alright,” Dennis said. “But we can’t talk out in the open. Don’t wanna get other people suspicious.”

The trio walked away from where the duel took place in search for a remote location somewhere within the Action Field. The cameras were programmed to only tape the duels that were in progress, so that was one less issue to worry about; their main concern was the possibility of the other finalists accidentally overhearing Dennis’ explanation. Wherever they were going to had to be out of plain sight and hidden enough to not be noticed by anyone, and eventually, they ventured into the Iceberg Zone and found an icy crevice large enough for them to fit in.

“Now talk,” Yuto demanded.

“Very well,” Dennis said. “I’m on a mission to protect Zuzu Boyle.”

“Zuzu?” Yuya asked. “Why her?”

“Because of her,” Dennis answered, showing an image on his Duel Disk. “Her name is Celina. She’s the reason why Duel Academy was attacked. Yuri was initially suspicious because of how she was behaving during these past two years, but it seems his suspicions were correct. She really did team up with a demonic being to overthrow the school.”

“Who’s Yuri?” Yuto asked.

“Funny you should ask,” Dennis replied. “He looks like you two but with a British accent and cleaner hair.”

Naturally, that statement about Yuri having cleaner hair offended the Yu-duo. They both know their hairstyles are not messy; if anything, they were more perfectly coiffed than messy and have different daily hair care procedures. Yuya’s fluffy tomato-esque hair gets combed at times so that he could untangle any snarls while Yuto brushes and blow dries his eggplant hair after bathing, but if there’s one thing they can’t stand it’s scissors. They never enjoyed the weird tingling feeling of the blades so close to their skin in order for someone to cut their hair, so how on earth was this Yuri person able to maintain a ‘clean’ hairstyle?

Dennis noticed the duo’s uncomfortable expressions. “Did I say something wrong?” he asked.

“I wash my hair every day,” Yuto said. “It’s a lot thicker than typical hair, so I have to properly maintain it on a constant basis.”

“And my hair is naturally this fluffy,” Yuya added.

“Okay then,” Dennis said. “Now as I was saying, Yuri, Sora, and myself included are all that’s left of the original Duel Academy-”

“Wait a minute!” Yuya interrupted. “Yuto, you finally got glasses!”

Yuto turned towards a surprised Yuya as the latter cut off Dennis’s monolouge. He mentioned how he was astonished to see everything instead of having to squint all the time and how he couldn’t believe he used to not be a big fan of them. Yuya replied that they make Yuto look sharp, which caused him to form a satisfied smirk on his face as he readjusted his glasses.

“You sure like having your ego fed,” Yuya noted.

“I like it when people compliment my looks,” Yuto said. “I know how handsome I look, especially-”

“Look at you! You look so grown up and handsome!”

Yuto suddenly stopped talking when he began remembering the night of the Heartland Duel School dance. He wore his old dark purple glasses and his old Resistance attire before it got tattered that same night and his mother couldn’t help but feel proud of how much her son had grown.

“Mom! This suit is a rental!”

“Sorry. It feels like it was only yesterday you were a shy, nervous boy. Now look at you! Confident and about to attend your first school dance!”

“Thanks mom. The dance is over at 11. I’ll be back home around that time.”

“Don’t worry about it, sweetie. Just remember to relax and have fun.”

He never forgot those words from her and what would be the last time he would ever see her living in a world of colorful peace before her untimely death and motherly sacrifice.

Yuya noticed Yuto’s expression. “Yuto?” he asked. “Is somethin’ wrong?”

“I’m fine,” Yuto lied, quickly wiping away any remaining tears. “I-”


Yuya, Yuto, and Dennis looked out of the entrance to the crevice and saw a familiar pink-haired girl in pigtails standing there. They all recognized her as Zuzu and the Performage user knew his mission to protect her was going to be a bit easier now that she ran across to them.

A huge smile appeared on Zuzu’s face. “Yuya!” she exclaimed as she ran. “You’re alright!”

She barely leapt off the ground as she ran towards Yuya—who was also happy to see her—and the two embraced each other in a warm hug. Coincidentally, their faces were in close proximity of each other as seen by their lips nearly connecting each other for a kiss. The two saw what they were about to do and started blushing heavily, especially Yuya, who felt a sudden increase in his heartbeat. He wasn’t sure if his heart rate was returning to normal or not, but he could tell some slight problems were developing. He carefully placed his hand on his heart, tensing up a bit.

“Yuya?” Zuzu softly asked.

“It’s fine,” Yuya said. “Just a weird feeling in my heart.”

Right as he said that, Zuzu swore she was experiencing some kind of déjà vu and assumed this could be linked to what this weird feeling in Yuya’s heart was. It was a recent event too because she was recalling snippets of that memory; right after he won in his duel against Aura, they were sharing a loving moment with each other before the Ritual Duelist glomped him. She was hoping nothing would happen that may end up ruining this moment yet something did occur. Instead of it getting interrupted, it was extended with a little help from Yuto. He was getting fed up with who was going to make the first move, so he lightly shoved Yuya to move things along, catching him off guard as he inadvertantly locked lips with Zuzu.

The two Duelists’ eyes grew wide and the blushing became more apparent as a result of this sudden and unexpected move. They eventually got accustomed to the sensation of their first kiss together and their arms firmly locked each other’s bodies in a passionate hug. One of Zuzu’s hands was placed on the back of Yuya’s head with her fingers intertwining through the dual-colored strands; her closed eyes slightly opened to process the touch of his hair and slowly concluded how its softness gave her a budding interest in it. On the other hand, Yuya had one of his hands grasping Zuzu’s back and the other resting on her right shoulder, which was a perfect opportunity for “it” to further spread its influence; of course, he had no idea what it was going to do, especially since he was more focused on her as a proudly satisfied Yuto and a speechless Dennis watched on.

“What was that for?” Dennis asked Yuto.

“Someone had to give those two a push,” Yuto explained.

After a while, Yuya and Zuzu broke apart for air. “Wow,” Zuzu said. “That was…”

“Amazing?” Yuya asked.

“Yeah,” Zuzu answered.

Wanting to continue his mission, Dennis cleared his throat, prompting the two to realize they weren’t alone. “Uh… Who are you?” Zuzu asked Dennis.

“I’m Dennis McField,” the Performage user answered. “I’m a friend of Sora’s and I came here to protect you.”

A friend of Sora’s? Protect her from what? Zuzu wasn’t sure what was going on, but did it have something to do with these four dimensions she heard about earlier?

“Thanks, but I’m good,” Zuzu said. “I can take care of myself.”

“You don’t understand,” Dennis said, showing Zuzu the image of Celina on his Duel Disk. “This is Celina. She’s responsible for the collapse of my home in Duel Academy. She has already captured two other girls that look like you, so I suspect she’s after you as well.”

“But why?” Zuzu asked.

“I’m not really sure,” Dennis admitted. “But you can trust me, Sora, and our friend Yuri. We’re the only ones left who represent the original Duel Academy.”

“You said someone from Duel Academy was murdered,” Yuto recalled. “Who was it?”

“Our head and founder, Professor Leo Akaba,” Dennis answered. “Celina murdering him was the spark that lead to the school getting overthrown.”

Dumbfoundedness flooded Yuya, Yuto, and Zuzu’s faces when Dennis spilt the information. This Celina girl was responsible for overthrowing an entire school?! How was she even able to perform a violent downfall? She is only a student and at a much lower position than Leo based on what was told and shown yet she was capable of pulling off such a rebellion, let alone killing the leader of Duel Academy…who also might be a member of the Akaba family? Yuya and Zuzu weren’t sure if Declan was aware of this because they have the strangest instinct that they may be related.

“How did that happen?” Yuya asked.

“Yuri found the Professor’s corpse covered in countless slash marks,” Dennis clarified. “No doubt she used her own Duel Monster for the assault.”

“How is that possible?” Yuto asked. “Even my Duel Disk’s holograms aren’t capable of delivering fatal harm towards other people.”

“I’m not sure myself,” Dennis admitted. “But it looks like whoever shares that same power can materialize Duel Monsters into the real world. In other words, this isn’t a normal threat. We’re dealing with what could be an actual demonic entity, one that clearly isn’t from Earth.”

An alien demon that can make Duel Monsters real? Did Celina ally herself with it as a way to overthrow Duel Academy? But why? Why would she do such a thing by killing Leo and leading to a horrific domino effect? Whatever the reasons are, Yuya, Zuzu, and Yuto agreed with Dennis about how this is no ordinary threat they were dealing with. They are not sure if everyone else in Paradise City is aware of what is going on, but they do recall Aura mentioning some kind of viral outbreak taking place, so there was no way this was a coincidence.

“Aura!” Zuzu suddenly remembered. She quickly checked her Duel Disk. “I haven’t heard from her since she lost her duel!”

“Are you checking if she’s alright?” Yuto asked.

Zuzu nodded in response. “I think I’m getting a signal-”

Right as her Duel Disk got a strong enough signal, a live broadcast displayed what appeared to be a battle arena and someone in it; sure enough, that someone happened to be Aura, but what was she doing? Wasn’t she eliminated from the Arc League Championship?

“Aura?!” Zuzu asked. “What are you doing?!”

“Not now, Zuzu!” Aura exclaimed, looking panicked. “I’m in the middle of important training!”

“Training?” Zuzu repeated.

“It’s kind of hard to explain,” Aura said. “I met this ghostly spirit, then I met a green-haired boy and some shirtless warrior guy…”

“Huh?” Zuzu asked.

“Look, I don’t have time to go into detail!” Aura exclaimed. “I’m with the Liberators, who agreed to help me deal with-”

“Come on, Aura! It’s your turn!”

“Sorry Wingal!” Aura called out, looking up at someone. She looked back at Zuzu. “Gotta go.”

Aura deactivated her webcam chat with Zuzu to continue on with her training, leaving her, Yuto, Yuya, and Dennis with more questions than answers. Who on earth did she meet throughout the day? Who or what are the Liberators? They figured they must be related to this new threat in which they’re resisting and training to go up against it; although they now know what she was up to, they still needed to find a way to tackle it as much as they can while making sure no one else in the Standard Dimension falls victim. Yuto came up with an idea on how that will be possible: spliting up into pairs to cover up more ground. He knew it was a rather ballsy move because that meant their chances of safety were reduced, but it would definitely speed up the search to find and take down any of the demons as much as they can before reconvening.

“No way!” Yuya protested as he grabbed onto Zuzu’s hand. “That’s too risky!”

“Yuya, I’ll be alright,” Zuzu calmly reassured.

“Precisely,” Dennis agreed. “Especially since it’s my mission to protect her.”

“But what if that demonic being gets to you?” Yuya asked, sounding concerned as he gently caressed Zuzu’s face. “I can’t let anything happen to my girlf-” He blushed. “My… Uh… Are you my girlfriend now?”

Zuzu never thought their relationship with each other would escalate this far. They’ve been friends with each other since they were young, so their accidental first kiss made her second guess their friendship and wondered if they were bonding into something more.

“I’m not really sure,” Zuzu admitted, blushing as well. “You tend to act a bit childish, but you look really pretty…”

“Pretty?” Yuya repeated. “Don’t you mean handsome?”

“No, I actually mean pretty,” Zuzu insisted. “You do kinda look like a girl.”

Yuya hasn’t heard that comment in quite some time due to coping with his father’s disappearance, but it was true about how his hair, clothes, and face do make him look like a girl. In fact, those were the initial reactions from some people when they first met him; of course, he doesn’t mind the remarks and he actually likes his feminine appearance, especially the “what if” thought of him having longer hair.

“You can discuss your relationship later,” Yuto said. “We still have to warn other people.”

“Right,” Yuya said. He cleared his throat. “I’ll check Ancient Zone with Yuto.”

Dennis checked his Duel Disk. “Sora just sent me a text,” he said. “He thought he saw Celina at Jungle Zone.”

“Then I guess we’ll go there first,” Zuzu said. She looked back at Yuya. “Be careful.”

Yuya smiled softly and gave Zuzu a small kiss on her lips. “You too,” he replied.

The group exited the crevice and split up into two pairs: Dennis and Zuzu heading off to Jungle Zone and Yuya and Yuto departing for Ancient Zone. With the projected screens scattered all over the Action Field, the broadcast airing on all duels, and their webcam communication, they will come in handy for the Duelists to see how they’re fairing against this demon.

Meanwhile, at Ancient Zone, a duel was just about to wrap up. A tall, light-skinned teen with dark blue and teal hair, yellow-green eyes, and donning a tattered, belted trenchcoat, gray pants, and brown shoes was facing off against three Duelists in knight armor—one with dark green hair, dark eyes, and a green cape, another with braided, light blue hair with gold caps, brown eyes, and an orange scarf, and a third one with purple hair swept to the left, grayish-purple eyes, a blue cape, and a light blue ruffle around the neck area. He declared his attack against the three knights by using his Raidraptor - Rise Falcon to deplete their Life Points to 0, securing a victory for himself. Not long after that, he saw Yuya and Yuto, who spotted him from within the distance, coming in his direction.

“Shay!” Yuto called out. “There you are! We need your help!”

Shay hasn’t heard that voice in a little while, not since he saw Yuto filling in for Yuya during the past two days, and turned around to find the Yu-duo running towards him. Almost as quick as he turned, his eyes widened at the sight of his friend looking so much cleaner; his hair was shaped in a spikier, healthier shape, he had on newer clothes instead of his shredded rental suit, and there was a brand new pair of glasses on his face.

“What happened to you?” Shay asked Yuto once the Yu-duo was next to him.

“Sorry I haven’t been able to communicate with you,” Yuto said. “I was staying over at Yuya’s place for a while.”

“Which would explain why you were pretending to be him for the tournament,” Shay pointed out. “And yes, I knew that was you on the field. You didn’t do a good job concealing your hair.”

Yuto had a feeling someone would see through his disguise, specifically Shay. Because Yuya losing consciousness happened so fast, there was no time for a similar tomato-looking wig to be made. Everyone thought Yuya put on a different wig and applied gray colored contact lenses, but Shay knew the difference between the Yu-boys and saw that Yuto simply swapped outfits with his Standard counterpart…even though the colors clashed with his usual dark-colored style.

“I didn’t want Yuya to get disqualified,” Yuto explained. “If I didn’t disguise myself as him and used his deck, someone was bound to get suspicious.”

“Suspicious?” Shay repeated. “Suspicious of what?”

“That there’s something wrong with me,” Yuya explained. “You see-”

“Save it,” Shay interrupted. “I saw what happened when you dueled Iggy. That wasn’t a typical Duel Monster you used.”

“I get that,” Yuya said. “But that Joker dragon isn’t in my deck. It’s almost like it…vanished.”

He does have a point. When he snapped back to normal due to the microphone feedback, this Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon wasn’t included in his deck despite him using it to OTK Iggy. Does that mean these Joker monsters only appear when he becomes…demonic?

“Then you better lay low,” Shay advised. “If that card appears at random moments, who knows if-”

“Slash the Assault Knight, make ready to strike down and immense your assault!“

Yuya, Yuto, and Shay turned their heads to see one of the Knights of the Duel Disks named Carl with Slash on the field, who was preparing for a direct attack. He raised his sword up and slashed it down to the ground, unleashing a luminescent purple blade that was heading in the trio’s direction. They all ducked for cover as the attack shot past them and heading towards Carl’s opponent and another Knight, Ashley.

"Your knight has showed perfect form, but my knight can carry the blow easily,” Ashley said.

A light blue force field faded in as Carl’s Slash’s attack was negated by Ashley’s Slash’s effect. The trio got up to see the three Knights that Shay defeated engaging in a Battle Royale against each other and they were all caught in the crossfire. Based on what had occurred, it was now Ashley’s turn and he was going to attack the third Duelist, Bram, who will negate it with his Slash and use it to attack Carl, and so on. It was going to be a never-ending chain of direct attacks and negation. That single event alone was enough to convince Yuto that these Knights were not noble at all, making him furious.

“Stop this!” Shay exclaimed, trying to calm his friend down. “I know you’re doing this to take us out!”

“You accusation is absurd,” Ashley said. “We were engaged in a three-way combat when you three intruded.”

“If it is your desire to stop us, then duel us again,” Bram said. “But unlike last time, your ending will be a tragic one. Slash, strike with furious fury and show no mercy!”

Bram’s Slash unleashed a razing sharp blade of purple light that was aimed at one of his opponents while heading towards Yuya, Yuto, and Shay. As the attack approached them, Yuto activated his Duel Disk and played the Trap card Phantom Knights of Dark Gauntlets. Its effect allows itself to be special summoned as a Level 4 DARK Warrior-Type monster with 300 ATK and 600 DEF in defense position whenever a direct attack is declared. It also gains 300 DEF for every Phantom Knights Spell and Trap card sent to the Graveyard.

Yuto sent his Wrong Magnetring to the Graveyard in order to activate Dark Gauntlets’ effects. Thanks to it being in defense position, it was able to shield the three Duelists from Slash’s attack and preventing them from getting harmed.

“You dare interfere with us, peasant?!” Carl asked.

“You call me a peasant?” Yuto asked in response, standing tall and showing no fear. “You’re greatly misinformed. I am a true knight unlike you imposters!”

“How amusing,” Bram said. “You say you’re a knight, yet you lack the appearance of one.”

“You’re wrong,” Yuto said. “Just because I don’t look like one, it doesn’t mean I can’t be a knight. Now do you accept my challenge, or are you going to back down?”

“Very well,” Ashley said. “We shall take you on all at once!”

Because Yuto intruded into a duel without facing off against his own opponent, his Life Points were cut in half according to the Battle Royale rules. He didn’t care if he had 4000, 2000, or 50 Life Points; someone needs to show these Knights of the Duel Disk what it means to be noble, even if that someone is himself. The thought of these imposters neglecting the true meaning of being a knight makes his blood boil and Shay knew exactly why. Yuya, on the other hand, was a bit lost in Yuto’s sudden personality change.

“What’s up with Yuto?” Yuya asked. “It’s almost like he became a completely different person.”

“That’s Yuto Osaku for you,” Shay said. “He’s so noble that he developed a bit of a knight complex.”

“Knight complex?” Yuya repeated. “Where did he get that from?”

“From me,” Shay answered. “When I first met Yuto years ago, he was quiet and shy. Then one day, when he wanted to learn how to duel, he discovered the Phantom Knights. I told him the best way to duel with those cards is to imagine himself being as brave as them and to channel that behavior into his dueling. Unfortunately he ended up taking that advice a little too far and now he thinks he’s a real knight.”

Yuya shifted his eyes towards his XYZ counterpart, who was in the middle of his duel. Him? A real knight? Why would he think that? He obviously doesn’t harbor any armor, but he does pack an impressive amount of bravery and determination, he thought to himself before pondering deeper.

“I guess that would explain a lot,” Yuya realized, thinking about how Yuto behaved when he confronted Sora. “He-” But then he cut himself off.

“Yuya?” Shay asked. “Are you alright?”

“Of course,” Yuya answered. “I feel…amazing.”

Meanwhile, at the Center Duel Field, the citizens and the eliminated Duelists have been watching the monitor screen to get a glimpse of all the duels taking place throughout the Battle Royale. Allie, Frederick, and Tate were glad that Yuya felt better after he and Dennis defeated Taka and Nagi, Skip was hoping Zuzu was doing well with her duels, and Yoko somehow can’t stop thinking about Reed and his culinary skills with his duels; she was also worried if he was okay because he hasn’t seen a single match with him on-screen. Suddenly, all the cameras broadcasting the event were cut off and the only things that were displayed on the monitor were four blue screens saying “NO SIGNAL”, one for each camera in each Zone.

“Oh dear,” Nico said. “It seems we lost connection on all four Zones. Hopefully the people at Leo Corporation will fix these technical difficulties.”

“What do you mean we can’t regain the signals?” Declan asked.

“My apologies, sir,” a woman said. “But it seems all cameras shut down at once.”

“But how?” Declan asked. “What could have caused such a thing to occur?”

“I’m not sure,” another employee replied. “But one camera caught a glimpse of dark red smoke before it lost the signal.”

With the cameras down, Declan needed to have them reactivated in order to take a look at the footage of this dark red smoke. He ordered every employee to find any way to get the cameras up and running again. Whatever the smoke is, he needed to determine if it poses a threat or is connected to this Reverse incident Celina explained; if it’s both, then the remaining Duelists at the end of the Battle Royale were going to be facing a foe far greater than Duel Academy.

Back at the Quartet of Quandry Action Field, Dennis and Zuzu had returned to the Volcano Zone and finished their Tag Team Duel together. In all honesty, even though he was from Duel Academy, Zuzu was amazed to have another Fusion user working alongside her in duels. His skills were marvelous and their combined efforts made them a spectacular Fusion duo. Correction, due to the LID-produced Pendulum cards scattered everywhere, they became a Pendulum-Fusion duo. Of course, they knew not to get too caught up in the tournament because they do need to focus on their mission.

“I’m impressed,” Dennis remarked. “You appear to be a Dueltainer much like myself. Are you sure you don’t want other Pendulum cards?”

“Of course I’m sure,” Zuzu answered, looking at Pendulumstatues White Butterfly and White Flower before putting them back in her deck. “I’m not sure why, but these two Pendulum cards feel natural to me.”

“Well White Butterfly and White Flower do match your Melodious monsters,” Dennis pointed out. “Especially with why Declan issued these Pendulum cards.”

“Really?” Zuzu asked.

“He discovered the invading threat’s weakness includes Pendulum cards,” Dennis explained. “So he changed this year’s Battle Royale to help defend the residence of this dimension from the alien virus. All the participants will get to keep any Pendulum cards they receive after the finals.”

“That’s a smart move,” Zuzu remarked. “Then we better tell other Duelists-”

“Tell them what?”

The duo turned to face the other side of the bridge and saw a young female teen standing there. She had the same height, weight, body figure, and facial structure as Zuzu. The markings on her face contained what looked like a sigma symbol with the standard Reversed marks going through it. Judging from those features and the indigo-haired ponytail, there was no doubt this girl was Celina.

Panicked, Dennis got in front of Zuzu. “I know what you did to Lulu and Rin!” he told Celina. “If you want Zuzu, you’re going to have to go through me!”

“That’s exactly what I’m planning on doing,” Celina said. Then she extended out a hand near the two, a dark red aura appearing around her.

Dennis’ face showed signs of scorn as if he was going to tell Celina to not lay a finger on Zuzu, regardless of what she may be doing. As for Zuzu, she tried to stay as close to him while attempting to contact Yuya and Yuto. Right as she moved her hand to click the webcam app to alert them, a blast of dark red aura shot out from Celina and curved forward across the other side of the bridge to where the Pendulum-Fusion Duelists were, barely missing Dennis but completely engulfing Zuzu. The powerful force of the blast ended up pushing him back towards the middle of the bridge and landing face first.

Dennis looked at Zuzu with a horrified expression on his face. “Stay calm!” he instructed. “You have Pendulum cards! You should be safe!”

Zuzu looked at her deck. “I know,” she said, horrified as she felt the aura cloud her mind. “But- AAAAHHHHH!”

The surrounding aura overwhelmed Zuzu with its sharply raised strength and proceeded to take hold of her, petrifying Dennis and pleasing Celina as shown by her wicked grin. She knew from the get-go about the true intentions of seeking those with Pendulum cards; Declan had practically made them walking, vulnerable targets ripe for them to be preyed on. They watched on as the thickening aura made a screaming Zuzu’s vision go blurry and the highlights and pupils vanished from her periwinkle eyes, leaving behind a soulless aspect. She then fell onto her knees with her head hung downwards as the aura slowly decipated from her body. Fearing the worst, Dennis got up and ran to Zuzu to see if she was okay.

“Zuzu!” Dennis exclaimed, helping her get back on her feet. “Are you alright?”

However, Zuzu simply took a card from her deck and held it up. “I summon Bloom Diva - Reverse,” she said, her voice drained of all emotion.

Dennis was left breathless at the sentence he just heard. The card she mentioned. The emotionless tone in her voice. Was it already too late? It didn’t made sense to him; how was it possible for Celina to infect someone without initiating a duel? Before he could have time to process what happened, the card that was held in her hand glowed white before unleashing a black energy beam to the Action Field and exploded right as it landed on the ground. He managed to take some steps back just in time to see the energy beam crash on the bridge and send out strong gusts of wind that blew Zuzu’s light blue hairclips right off her head, undoing her pigtails and letting her midback-length hair loose.

The energy then reshaped itself to form the silhouette of a rose, and when it revealed itself, the black petals bloomed open to reveal a fair-skinned woman with the sclera colored a piercing magenta-red. Her hair was divided into three, long, luscious curls that went downward instead of upward. She adorned a black and red, sleeveless, collared dress with a red string tie and a purple music note clipped on it, black arm sleeves, and several purple flowers scattered all over the dress. Instead of the two, long, flowing, pink stamen, a red-glowing black halo was floating behind her.

Dennis was alarmed upon seeing the Reversed fairy. “My god…” he said. “Zuzu, what have you become?”

However, Zuzu did not respond. “Bloom Diva - Reverse’s effect activates,” she droned. “Take me back to Reverse Academy with Thorny Blizzard.”

Just when Bloom Diva was preparing to bring out her signature attack, two people ran onto the bridge, zipping past Celina and stopping next to Dennis. Zuzu shifted her eyes towards the arrived duo, who were recognized as Sylvio and Julia; sure enough, they were left frightened by what Zuzu had become, especially Julia. The two girls made direct eye contact with each other and it gave the latter a chance to see Zuzu’s newly obtained features. The top half of her head was shadowed, her lively, periwinkle eyes were drained into nothing but soulless, emotionless irises, and her red markings included the pi symbol on each side and the standard Reverse mark penetrating them.

As quick as the duo made it onto the scene, Bloom Diva - Reverse’s blizzard of rose thorns enveloped Zuzu before disappearing out of the Standard Dimension, leaving behind the undone hair clips on the ground. A mortified Sylvio, Julia, and Dennis could do nothing but walk towards the hair clips and pick them up, realizing their companion was no longer with them. Celina’s growing evil laugh didn’t help either because her part of the mission was a success; she and all her counterparts are now gifted with the power of the Reverse.

Julia held onto the hair clips. “You manic!” she yelled at Celina as tears fell from her eyes. “What did you do to Zuzu?!”

“I liberated her,” Celina answered as she took out Lunar Eclipse. “Now my mission is finally complete.”

Thick, black fog spewed out of the Spell card and covered a portion of the bridge, including Celina. Julia angrily charged towards the fog, but her feet abruptly stopped when she realized that she was now on the other side. She turned around to see the fog fading away and left behind no traces of Celina. The trio weren’t certain on how to comprehend all of this; Dennis wasn’t able to save Zuzu in time, Julia clenched onto the hair clips as tears continued streaming down her face and dripped onto them, and Sylvio honestly felt like he could have done something to help them besides bodyguarding Julia. How were Yuya, Yuri, and Sora going to react to the completion of Celina’s apparent liberation plan?

Meanwhile, back in Ancient Zone, Yuto just finished defeating the Knights of the Duel Disk. “Maybe now you’ll learn to be more noble during duels,” the Phantom Knight user said.

At that moment, Yuya sluggishly approached Yuto, his head hung low to conceal his eyes. “Thank you, Yuto,” he said. “I’ll take it from here.” He proceeded to raise his hand out at the three imposter knights.

Ashley, Bram, and Carl tried to get up from the ground to shake off their defeat at the hands of Yuto, but they remained on the ground to stare at the sight of Yuya resonating a dark red aura around his body. Before they had time to react, a blast of the same aura was fired directly at the trio, quickly succumbing to the brute strength as their irises lost their highlights and pupils, their faces covered in a shadowy gradient, and their lower eyelids bore red markings. With his eyes covered by his hair, the only trait that appeared on Yuya’s face was his mouth forming a wicked smile. Yuto, on the other hand, became scared stiff at what his counterpart just did; this was not only his second time seeing Yuya enter this demonic, but this was also his first time seeing it in person…and actually witnessing it was much more horrific.

“Yuya, you have to snap out of it!” Shay exclaimed. “This isn’t like you! You can’t let this power control you!”

“Who said I was Yuya Sakaki?”

The XYZ duo took a slight step back at the sudden change in Yuya’s voice. Yuto recalled hearing the corrupt, fiendish tone when he was at the waiting room; Shay wasn’t a stranger to it either because he was at LID’s monitoring room throughout the rest of the second round, including Yuya’s duel against Iggy, so he never would have thought he would witness this demon first hand.

“Then who are you?” Yuto demanded.

“Yuya” rotated his body around so that he was facing Yuto and Shay before lifting his head up in a menacing manner. The green and red bangs swiftly uncovered the right eye to unveil some kind of eerie eyeball replacing Yuya’s right eye. It glowed yellowish-orange all around the eyeball and was mainly blood red with a smaller, darker red circle in it, which contained a yellow oval with a narrower oval of the same dark red color. The revelation of this barbarous entity left Yuto and Shay at a loss for words.


Chapter Text

This sudden revelation alarmed both Shay and Yuto. Yuya was somehow possessed by the demonic entity responsible for Duelists getting Reversed? And for how long was this possession?

“What did you do to Yuya?!” Yuto demanded.

The Void let out a laugh. “But I am Yuya,” it said. “We are one and the same. I inserted myself into his body and now I can take control of him at any time, even when he doesn’t realize it! Just like when I placed that hidden tracking beacon on his human girlfriend!”

Tracking beacon? The two words echoed in Yuto and Shay’s heads and they instantly realized what this meant. Zuzu was now in grave danger and she doesn’t know it yet. Yuto knew he had to find her and Dennis and warn them about how she is secretly vulnerable and much easier to get hunted down by the Reversed Duelists.

“There’s no use warning your friend, eggplant boy,” the Void said. “Every time someone is given my gift, I become stronger. And if I’m correct, which I am, the girl whom has Chaos Breaker Dragon has already Reversed her.”

Shay and Yuto weren’t sure how to respond, so the Void continued. “Link Joker is my avatar,” it explained. “The Units I created all live to serve me. Every time someone is Reversed, one of my Units possess their signature Duel Monster.” It held up a Duel Monster card that had a black and blood red border. “Take Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon for example. In actuality, my trusted Unit, Omega Glendios, is possessing my host’s signature dragon. And he’s such a good sport about it. He was created to serve as Link Joker’s ultimate weapon: a cyber golem who can wipe out an opponent’s team in an instant.”

“So who’s this chaos dragon?” Shay asked.

“Chaos Breaker Dragon is my second-in-command,” the Void explained. “He’s the one giving my trusted agent the power she needs to help spread my will. Sure I don’t approve of her violent tactics, but at least her methods are helping me gain more power.”

Although Shay concentrated on gaining more information about the new threat, Yuto was more focused on this “she” creature the Void was referring to. He wasn’t sure why, but he was positive he may have an idea on who she may be because there was only one Duel Monster-Unit hybrid capable of spreading its corruption all over Paradise City; Dennis knows about her and the ensuing terror, leading him to give the former a single warning.

”Beware the demon cat from Hell.”

“Celina,” Yuto stated.

“Correct,” the Void said. “I heard her cries of betrayal two years ago. So I came to her assistance with only a single deal: I give her the power she needed to break free, but she must help me with my plan of spreading my gift throughout the planet.” It held up Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon’s card, a dark red aura appearing around it. “But I can’t let you go around telling others about my plan. I summon Odd-Eyes Jok-”

“Stop right there, you demonic parasite!”

The trio turned to the direction of where that voice came from and saw a young teen with his light blue hair tied into a ponytail running into one of the ancient ruins. Yuto figured it must be Sora because he definitely doesn’t look like this Yuri person; unfortunately, Sora’s arrival was much to Shay’s dismay because he knows him all too well. As for the Void and the Reversed Knights, they simply viewed this as their prey running towards the inevitable.

“Well if it isn’t one of the three Fusionites who resist my gift,” the Void said.

“So you’re actually on our side?” Shay asked Sora.

“It’s not like we had a choice,” Sora explained in disdain. “The Void took over all of Duel Academy. All that’s left of the Professor’s reign is me, Dennis, and Yuri.”

“Yuya and me met Dennis,” Yuto explained. “He told us about the third person in your group. Does he have a British accent?”

“Yep,” Sora confirmed. “The three of us are trying to gather allies to help us stop this infection, even if it means siding with you XYZ scum.”

“Are you sure this isn’t one of your tricks?” Shay asked.

“I’m serious!” Sora insisted. “I don’t care if you trust me or not!” He readied his Duel Disk. “The main focus is to take out the one enemy we have in common.”

“How cute,” the Void said. “You really think you can stop me- GAH!”

Yuto, Shay, and Sora’s conversation was cut off by an abrupt interruption from the Void. It tried as hard as it could to keep Yuya under its control, but he was retaliating harder than him. Their ongoing conflict led to him arching his head all the way the back until he was looking up at the sky and ran his hands through his hair while also clutching his head. He was struggling to resist the Void’s power as not only seen by his movements but heard by his demonic growls and terrified, trembling moans as well.

“Yuya?” Sora asked.

Yuya’s normal eye looked at Sora. “Contact…Gong…” he gasped. “He-”

“BE QUIET, YOU WEAK HUMAN!” the Void roared, grasping Yuya’s throat with both hands.

“Gong?” Yuto asked. He looked over at Sora. “Is that one of Yuya’s friends?”

“He is,” Sora answered. “He shouldn’t be hard to miss with his Superheavy Samurais.”

“Alright,” Yuto said. “I’ll go find him.”

“No,” Shay said. “You two stay here and hold off the Reverse.”

“Are you sure?” Yuto asked.

“If the Void really is our enemy, its minions shouldn’t be hard to defeat,” Shay said.

“But what if you get Reversed as well?” Yuto asked. “You know this is like a virus.”

“Simple,” Shay replied. “I just won’t lose.”

Even though he was just learning about this now, Shay might have found a way to fend off—and maybe defeat—the Reversed Duelists. He understands if someone loses a duel against a Reversed Duelist, they’ll end up getting Reversed; if that person ended up winning, on the other hand, then they’ll avoid falling for the same fate as everyone else. Surely, him not losing won’t be too much of a problem; after all, he does have his Rise Falcon and his trusty Raidraptor deck, so utilizing its effects will make his victories against them likely.

“Alright,” Yuto said, glancing nervously at Yuya. “But you better be quick. I’m not sure if Yuya can resist much longer.”

Shay dashed away from the source of conflict and out of Ancient Zone, leaving Yuto and Sora to help Yuya combat the Void. He kept running through the duel field for a little while, but it felt like forever to him due to the seriously high levels of severity this situation was. He eventually ran into Jungle Zone where he saw two Duelists up ahead; as he got closer, he spotted samuri-esque clothing one of them was wearing. It has to be this Gong person Yuya mentioned, Shay thought to himself. It was a good thing he made it on time to break the news to Gong because he had just finished his duel against a fisherman Duelist named Trout.

“Gong don’t know what’s goin’ on, but ya better snap out of it!” the Superheavy Samurai user demanded. “What’s this void you’re speakin’ of?!”

Trout blinked, almost like he snapped out of a trace. “Where am I?” he asked.

“Don’t play dumb!” Gong responded, grabbing Trout by his shirt. “Now tell Gong everything you know!”

“I’m serious!” Trout insisted. “I never heard of this void thing!”

Shay raised his eyebrows as he overheard the two Duelists’ exchange, mainly because this is the aftermath of their duel. Gong has heard about the Void? And seeing that he was the victor, he wasn’t Reversed like the others, so…Trout was trying to Reverse him? So why can’t he remember anything from their duel all of a sudden? Is this what happens when you defeat a Reversed Duelist: they return to normal and lose their memories of being Reversed? If that was the case, then Shay now has a really important reason to notify Gong about the phenomenon.

“That’s enough,” Shay said as he stepped forward.

Gong released his grip on Trout. “Shay Obsidian?” he asked. “What are you doin’ here?”

“I’m here because your friend Yuya needs to see you,” Shay informed. “He’s been possessed by the Void itself.”

“Not you too!” Gong exclaimed. “What exactly is this void thing?!”

“To put in simply, it might as well be the Devil himself,” Shay answered.

Gong knew this wasn’t going to be pleasant since they were literally going up against what might be considered the Duel Monsters version of Satan…but it wasn’t Duel Monsters-related per se. Although he was still confused on the whole issue in general, he got a bit of a better idea of who the Void is. Shay mentioned how Yuto will explain more about the ordeal once they manage to help Yuya out.

“What about me?” Trout asked. “Is there anything I can do?”

“Duelists get Reversed if they lose to one of the Void’s followers,” Shay explained. “The answer is simple: don’t duel them. And warn as many people you can find-”

Suddenly, Trout’s Duel Disk began to illuminate a icy blue light from the screen, cutting off Shay’s sentence and blinding him and Gong. The light enveloped Trout’s entire body and covered him in holographic pixels that made him vanish from Jungle Zone. Once the light faded away, Gong and Shay were left speechless by this strange occurrence; why did this happen? What was the result of Trout’s fate? And if he’s okay, where did he end up?

“Where’d he go?” Gong asked. Suddenly, a voice message appeared on his and Shay’s Duel Disks, along with the Duel Disks of every non-Reversed Duelist in all four zones.

“This message goes out to every person in the Standard Dimension. To all of the remaining Duel Academy students there, do NOT return home. As you know, a certain someone has murdered Professor Leo Akaba. But ever since that tragedy, our home has drastically changed. It is unsafe to return.

"But don’t worry. From now on, this dimension will serve under the protection of the Phoenix Resistance, a group of people who serve under my command as a former Duel Academy division. We will use our technology to transport any possible ally back to our base for training against our new enemy. I’m not quite sure if this message will reach anyone, but to the remaining Duel Academy students, please contact me immediately. The fate of the world, and possibly all life itself, depends on us.”

Meanwhile, throughout the Action Field, most of the Duelists that were and weren’t competing were baffled by the message, but they were all worried about who this new enemy may be. Yuri, Dennis, and Sora, on the other hand felt overjoyed by the sound of the voice they heard. Aster Phoenix, the Commander-in-Chief of Duel Academy, made it through the uprising okay, meaning there was the strong possibility of survivors staying at the Phoenix Resistance as well. They all knew they may have a chance in their newly engaged war against the Void.

Yuri, who was in Iceberg Zone, was smiling as tears of joy came from his eyes. He activated his Duel Disk’s communication feature. “This is Yuri of Obelisk Force Branch 3A-2,” he reported. “I’m alright and I will do everything I can to help.”

In Volcano Zone, Dennis activated his Duel Disk’s communication feature. “This is Dennis McField of Obelisk Force Branch 3A-2,” he reported. “I heard your message, Commander Phoenix. I will remain in Standard.”

Back in Ancient Zone, Yuya was unconscious thanks to Yuto’s knock-out punch trick. Sora had proceed to activate his Duel Disk’s communication feature. “This is Sora Perse of Obelisk Force Branch 3A-2,” he reported. “Thank you for the warning, Commander Phoenix. My comrades and I are recruiting possible allies as we speak.”

“You know that person?” Yuto asked.

“Of course,” Sora answered. “That was Aster Phoenix, the Commander-in-Chief of Duel Academy. And if that message is any indication, we might have a chance at fighting back.”

“So Duel Academy really is on our side,” Yuto noted. “You were telling the truth.”

“We had no other choice,” Sora emphasized. “When the Professor died, we lost our motives. We no longer want to fuse all four of the dimensions into one. This Devil-like being took away everything from us, so now we’re fighting to regain our home.”

A small gasp escaped Yuto’s mouth when Sora explained Duel Academy’s change in motives. He realized they were now stuck in the same boat as the XYZ Dimension because a threat took them down by surprise and left only a handful of survivors to resist against the enemy. In this case, however, the Void poses a threat to all four dimensions, not just the Fusion Dimension alone, so if the remaining Duel Academy students were going to get through this, Yuto will have to ally himself with the former enemy to save everyone.

“Alright,” Yuto said. “I’m not sure about Shay, but you have my support.”

“Thanks,” Sora replied, glad he had someone helping him.

Sora waited for Aster to reply to him since he’s either busy with aiding his resistance group, in the middle of communicating with Yuri or Dennis, or maybe both. Yuto stood outside of the ruins to see if Shay made it to Gong okay while glancing over at a knocked out Yuya, wondering how the Void’s possessions will affect him in the near future. After about a minute, he spotted two figures running closer and closer to him, which was revealed to be Shay and Gong, who wanted to see if his friend was okay and what the Void ordeal is truly about.

“Yuya!” Gong exclaimed, rushing over to hug Yuto. “You’re okay! Shay said you were possessed by some demon, but Gong knew you were alright!”

Yuto didn’t had any time to react to the sudden bear hug that was given to him and was now rendered to a point where he couldn’t breathe. He knew he was being mistaken for Yuya, but was it due to Gong thinking Yuya was “wearing the wig again” or because of their exact facial structures? To think Yuto would have been identified as a seperate person now that he has glasses on, but this was a hard truth he had to face: some things never change…and mistaken identities was one of them, much to his disappointment. Of course, this felt more awkward than disappointing because Shay and Sora were witnessing the whole thing.

“That’s not Yuya,” Shay told Gong.

“He’s not?” Gong asked as he released his grip on Yuto. “Then where is he?”

“He’s over here,” Yuto answered, leading the way. “But I must warn you. It’s not a pretty picture.”

The four Duelists walked to where Yuya laid on the ground when they noticed something eerily off that made Gong understand why it isn’t a pretty picture. They all saw dark, blood red aura eminating from his body, from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. How long has this been going on for?

“Yuya!” Gong exclaimed, panicked. He ran over to the tomato-haired teen’s body. “Is he alright?!”

“Not at all,” Sora answered. “Shay probably told you about the Void, right?”

“He did,” Gong replied. “But Gong’s still confused ‘bout what it really is.”

“We’re not sure either,” Shay said. “When I described it as the Devil itself, it was only a guess.”

“Worse, the only one who can actually figure it out has somehow vanished,” Yuto said, referring to Aura. “But she described the Reverse as a virus.”

“Gong remembers that Trout fella mentionin’ that word,” the Superheavy Samurai user recalled. “Was he tryin’ to…”

“Infect you over to their side?” Yuto finished. “Pretty much.”

“Luckily I have allies to help us fight back,” Sora said. “Dennis McField and Yuri. "Dennis is currently protecting Zuzu, but I’m not sure where Yuri is. Hopefully they’ll help us recruit more allies.”

“Is that why Yuya needed Gong’s help?” Gong asked.

“I think it’s more like he trusts you to help him,” Sora clarified. “I guess it’s because of your history with him.”

Gong knew Sora had a point on why Yuya would choose him. They have known each other for years and even protected him from the bullies after Yusho disappeared, even having to duel against Grizzlepike Jones, a former senior member of the Strong Dojo and an eliminated contestant of the Arc League Championship. Even though the bullying subsided, whatever is causing Yuya to emit this bloody-colored aura proves he needed to protect his childhood friend once again; this time, it was at a much larger scale thanks to the Void and the Reversed Duelists.

Gong approached Yuya. “Don’t worry, buddy,” he said, giving Yuya’s hand a gentle squeeze. “Gong’s here to help ya out.”

Upon the hand squeeze, Yuya smiled in his sleep. “Thanks Gong…” he muttered.

Meanwhile, at the Volcano Zone, Celina had easily escaped from Dennis, Sylvio, and Julia with her Lunar Eclipse card and was hiding behind a rock formation. With her main mission now complete, she continued her secondary mission of finding more Duelists to give the gift of the Reverse by scouting out the area from where she hid. She had found her next victim who beared a striking resemblence to the mysterious Moon Shadow, but he had warmer colors consisting of mainly oranges. Naturally, it was yet another easy victory just like her previous duels, but she didn’t mind; as long as progress is being made on Reversing the Standard Dimension, that’s all that matters to her and Cat Dancer - Reverse.

“Make him suffer…”

Celina was alarmed by the voice. “Who said that?” she asked.

“I did. Make that ninja suffer. Torture him by giving him hope, then yank it away and claim victory for yourself!”

She turned to the sound of the viciously feminine voice and noticed it was coming from her very own Unit-Monster. It sounded like Cat Dancer - Reverse was the one demanding her to fool Sun Shadow into thinking he’ll win, only for him to have it dashed, leading him to getting Reversed. What stunned her wasn’t from what her monster said, but it was from the fact that she can talk to her. Since when did she have that ability and how long has it been lingering around for? Whatever the answer was, Celina at least knew Cat Dancer - Reverse was pretty much speaking her language about how to win this duel.

And so, Celina put her ace back in her deck and walked up to Sun Shadow, who was surprised by her presence. “Zuzu?” he asked. “Is that you? When did you change your hairdo?”

“Are you…a strong Duelist?” Celina asked.

Sun Shadow didn’t know how to respond to that question, mainly because of how she interrogated him. Something told him this girl wasn’t Zuzu; if her mannerisms were a sign that something was off, then her markings were a dead giveaway of imminent danger.

“I see,” Sun Shadow remarked. “Then perhaps you will tell me what is going on once I defeat you in a duel.”

A wicked grin appeared on Celina’s face. “That’s exactly what I wanted you to say,” she said as she activated her Duel Disk.

Sun Shadow activated his Duel Disk to signal the start of their duel as they drew their first five cards and their Life Points went up to 4000. While that was going on, something remarkable had taken place at Ancient Zone: Shay, Yuto, Sora, and Gong were all pleased to see Yuya was regaining consciousness, and from the looks of things, he seemed to be back to normal.

“Yuya!” Gong exclaimed, rushing over to him him. “You’re alri-”

“Get away from me!” Yuya shouted, making Gong stop in his tracks.

“Yuya…?” Yuto asked.

“I don’t want to hurt any more people!” Yuya cried, covering his right eye with his hand. “This Void thing could take over any minute!”

The sudden outburst shocked Gong into complete silence because of how upset and powerless Yuya felt with the presence of the Void lurking around and waiting for the opportunity to strike. Yuto, Shay, and Sora weren’t sure how to respond to it either despite feeling bad for their companion. Shay looked around and noticed the Reversed Knights weren’t around anymore, at least not since he went off to find Gong. Yuto and Sora explained they managed to chase them away during his search by fending them off and knocking the Void out of commission. Although that was good to hear, it didn’t change the fact the recent events of the Reverse phenomenon was becoming increasingly serious, so there was no telling what could happen.

“But Yuya, Sora said you wanted Gong to come over here,” the Superheavy Samurai explained.

“I don’t remember what I said,” Yuya admitted, rubbing the back of his head. “All I remember is struggling to regain control from the Void. Somehow hearing Sora’s voice gave me the strength to fight back, then I felt something hard hit my stomach before I lost consciousness.”

Shay glared at Yuto. “I had no other choice,” the eggplant-haired teen admitted. “He bit my hand.”

Sora vouched for Yuto and explained what had happened. The two were struggling to deal with Ashley, Bram, and Carl while also assisting Yuya with breaking free from the Void’s grasp. As Sora was busy with his turn, Yuya kept thrashing around in a similar manner to a demon-possessed person because, well, a demonic entity was possessing him. Yuto ran towards to where he was to try and restrain him, but his hand was bitten and was followed by an upper cut, so having no other option, he resorted to punching Yuya’s stomach; fortunately, that made some progress as the latter fell unconscious and returned to normal as he fell back first on the ground. Sora and the Knights witnessed what took place, and even though the Fluffal user was relieved that it was over for now, his opponents did not had the same reaction as him. They claimed he, Shay, and Yuto were only delaying the inevitable and how the Void’s perfect world will be created no matter what they do. And with that, they took off and left the Ancient Zone, leaving the trio behind for a little while.

“It’s that bad?” Gong asked.

“It is,” Yuya answered, his hand still covering his right eye. “I thought what happened with Iggy was just a one-time thing.” His other hand clutched his chest, right near his heart. “But now I know there’s this…Devil inside me. I just need some time along right now.”

He got up from the ground and began walking out of the ruins to find a place for him to be alone. He didn’t care if it was in one of the four Zones; any place to hide from the public was all that mattered to him. They were already terrified when the Void first took over him, so what was the point of being part of this tournament now that he was becoming more certain about getting possessed whenever it feels like?

As he proceeded to leave Ancient Zone, Shay, Yuto, Sora, and Gong felt a mix of worry and sympathy towards Yuya. Why did the Void specifically choose him? They needed to find answers to this and why it wants to Reverse all four dimensions so that he’ll be able to muster up enough courage to save them alongside his friends and allies. Of course, with the increasing number of Reversed Duelists, there’s no telling when another one will appear. They all agreed to help Yuya out while staying clear from as much as they can unless it was absolutely necessary. With that, they all gave Yuya a head start just so he can be by himself leaving Ancient Zone to carry out their plan.

Chapter Text

Although things were beginning to look bleak for Yuya, he wasn’t the only one dealing with the harsh reality of the Reverse conflict. Dennis, Sylvio, and Julia were all taking refuge on top of a building in Iceberg Zone, still trying to calm down after witnessing Celina “liberate” Zuzu. Even though they were all upset by what they were forced to watch, Sylvio and Julia were both confused and lost on why this happened and if it relates to Dipper and Reed not getting a chance to have their duel and how Yuya’s duel with Iggy ended. Dennis overheard their wonders and had a feeling these events must be connected with what was going on, so he explained to them everything he knows so far about the Reversed Duelists.

A few minutes passed and their conversation was almost done wrapping up, but it was cut short thanks to the arrival of a certain someone. A light blue light glowed in front of them and it revealed the silhouette of a young male teen. The light faded away to reveal Yuri and Dennis couldn’t be happier to see his friend again. Sylvio and Julia, on the other hand, were more baffled on how he looks exactly like Yuya and this other lookalike they saw when the Battle Royale started.

Dennis faked a smile. “Oh hey,” he told Yuri. “It’s you. So how’s it going, Yuri?”

“Did you find her?” Yuri asked, referring to Zuzu.

That caused Dennis’ façade to slip. “I did,” he answered. “But…”

Yuri knew what his friend’s hesitation meant. “Celina got to her, didn’t she?” he asked.

“I tried to protect Zuzu!” Dennis explained. “But Celina was able to Reverse her, just like when she confronted Lulu and Rin!”

Unfortunately for him, the bad news did not sit well with Yuri; in fact, he was showing signs that he was livid about this. His eyebrows and lower right eyelid were twitching, his hands had the urge to clench into fists, and he felt his arms—and maybe his entire body—tremble. Dennis had only one job to do and it was all wasted; before he could have time to yell, Julia interjected by stating what happened. The way Celina Reversed Zuzu was unlike the usual method of Reversing Duelists; she transferred Reverse energy to her Standard counterpart instead of dueling her and it left Dennis with no time to counteract. It was most likely how she Reversed her other counterparts, but it wasn’t like he was doing a bad job at protecting her; he knew what he was doing, so seeing a different Reversing technique caught him off guard. He thought the Pendulum cards were the Reverse Duelists’ weakness, but it looked like they were fooled about it all along.

“Why did Declan even say Pendulum cards are their weaknesses?” Yuri questioned.

“He explained his reasons to me when he gave me my new Abyss Actors deck,” Sylvio answered. “He actually confronted Celina, but before her associate could duel him, she stopped him and said he has Pendulum cards.”

“WHAT?” Yuri asked.

“Those were apparently her exact words,” Sylvio said. “Declan was the one who came to the conclusion that they’re the Reverse’s weakness.”

Yuri let out a frustrated sigh as he rubbed his brow. “My gosh, what an idiot…” he muttered.

“I beg your pardon?” Julia asked.

“Don’t you get it?!” Yuri asked. “Celina used those words on purpose to trick Declan! She wanted him to make more Pendulum cards!”

“For what?” Sylvio asked.

“I’m not quite sure,” Yuri admitted. “But perhaps we can get a Reversed Duelist to…” He held up his Starving Venom Fusion Dragon card. “…cough up some information.”

Julia and Sylvio looked a bit unease at Yuri’s suggestion. “Don’t mind him,” Dennis said. “Yuri’s my childhood friend. I learned to tell when he’s joking.”

Meanwhile, Yuya had taken cover somewhere within Jungle Zone to hide himself away from the public, fearing the Void could take over any moment to fulfill its plans further. Surrounded by dozens of trees, he was hidden away just enough for him to be alone with his thoughts. He was holding a card in his hand, which was shown to be Queen Dragun Djinn, the same card Yuto gave to him shortly after regaining consciousness. She meant a lot to him because from the moment the two boys crossed paths with each other a couple days ago, it had already evolved into a much deeper connection with them. He could feel it. The link he shares with his XYZ counterpart. Even though it was shrouded by the fear and sadness of recent events, he could sense how strong their bond is.

“Geez, can you lighten up already?”

The mysterious voice caused Yuya to look away from his card and sharply raise his head to see where it came from. He looked around to see where it came from until he saw a mysterious teen standing next to his left, staring at him with his red and green heterochromia eyes. Yuya was more focused on where he came from instead of why his coloring felt oddly familiar.

“Who are you?!” Yuya asked, alarmed. “And where did you come from?!”

“Calm down, Yuya,” the teen said. “It’s me, Odd-Eyes! Well technically I’m Double Iris Magician in this form, but it’s still me.”

Yuya examined the colors Double Iris Magician had and realized the latter was right; the hat resembled the upper half of his head, the shoulder blades were similar to his torso, the lower body mirrored his dragon legs, the gauntlets were reminiscent to his ‘wings’, and his dual-colored eyes retained the same red and green hues. Heck, he even has a sword based on his dragon form! He was amazed by this discovery yet curious on how Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon can transform into this Double Iris Magician person.

“How did this happen?” Yuya asked.

“I’m not even sure,” Double Iris admitted. “I heard you feeling sad about this Reverse stuff when suddenly, poof! I gained this second identity.” He looked at his hand as he flexed his fingers. “It kinda feels weird having a human body…”

Yuya, however, didn’t respond. “I also heard this weird voice in the back of my head telling me to 'unite as one’,” Double Iris continued.

“Unite as one?” Could it be this Void’s doing? Well, maybe not because it has already chosen its human host, but what about Odd-Eyes—or Double Iris, in this case? Could there be another creature of some sort persuading him into doing a dark cause? Is this creature owned by the Void? That could be a possibility because it was gradually getting stronger as the time passes by, so there was no telling what danger would unfold for his Performapals, especially his signature ace.

“Oh, stop worrying about that,” Double Iris said. “Maybe that voice is suggesting us to unite as one, which could explain my new form.”

Yuya let out a massive sigh of relief at this hypothesis; if that voice was telling Odd-Eyes to work together with his owner as a duo, they could stand a chance against the Reversed Duelists and maybe even the Void. It was actually neat that he was granted the ability to transform into his magician variant in the heat of the moment, possibly due to wanting to give Yuya a nudge to get one step ahead of the new enemy. Does that mean Yuto and Yugo’s signature dragons also unlock something similar to what Odd-Eyes can now do?

“Is that why you unlocked this new form?” Yuya asked. “To help me out?”

“Sort of,” Double Iris admitted. “But I mostly want to tell you that you’re not the only one dealing with a demonic being inside your heart. I feel it too.”

“How?” Yuya asked.

“It’s the Void’s main Unit, Omega Glendios,” Double Iris explained. “Every time the Void takes over your body, Omega Glendios does the same thing to me. So far it happened twice: once during your duel with Iggy and once when you revealed yourself to Yuto and Shay. And just like how hearing Sora allowed you to fight back, it allowed me to fight back as well.”

Realization struck Yuya’s face. “So you’re in the same spot I’m in.”

“Pretty much,” Double Iris replied.

This wasn’t good at all. Whenever the Void takes over Yuya, Omega Glendios does the same to Odd-Eyes—well, currently Double Iris Magician—so he becomes Odd-Eyes Joker Dragon? This was, without a doubt, a serious case of double trouble because a demon and a Unit are both working together to control an aspiring Dueltainer and his odd-eyed dragon. No wonder Joker Dragon vanished after Iggy was defeated; his Pendulum incarnation seems to be just like Yuya, transforming into a darker variant of himself before reverting to his original state.

“So this is how you’re going to stop it?” Double Iris asked. “Sit and hide away from everyone else?”

“It’s the only way to prevent anyone else from getting infected,” Yuya explained.

Double Iris let out a small chuckle. “Then I guess you forgot the whole reason why we’re here.”

“Huh?” Yuya asked. “What reason?”

“To win the Arc League Championship,” Double Iris explained. “Before that incident with Iggy, you wanted to win so you could become a pro. But you can’t become a pro if you refuse to duel.”

“But the Void-” Yuya started to say.

“Forget about that demon for once!” Double Iris interrupted. “We can’t let it distract you! You need to get your head in the game so we can complete the Battle Royale and win!”

Double Iris has a strong point; the Void and the Reversed Duelists might be starting to make themselves known, but they have a tournament to win. Right now, they have to concentrate on winning the Battle Royale so that they can set their future forward, regardless of what stands in their way. It’s like what Yusho said; he has to keep pushing himself forward in order to obtain victory; that is what reminds him of a pendulum: if it swings one way, it’ll swing back, so persisting in these challenges will have a positive result for Yuya.

“I guess you’re right,” Yuya said, finally smiling again.

“That’s the spirit!” Double Iris encouraged. “Now let’s find our next opponent!”

Back with Yuri, Dennis, Sylvio, and Julia, they had inadvertently found an opponent of their own. From on top the building they were on, they saw a person walking through Iceberg Zone with an activated Duel Disk and they all made it out to be an Obelisk Force soldier, but Dennis and Yuri both knew he was no ordinary member of the Obelisk Force. The base of his Duel Disk was no longer shaped like a shield but now had the Link Joker emblem tattooed on the oval design; additionally, the blade was changed into a longer and skinnier jagged shape instead of the usual sword shape. The two Duel Academy students instantly recognized it as a Reverse Academy-issued Duel Disk, meaning this soldier was Reversed. Sylvio and Julia couldn’t determine if he really was Reversed or not, but they were informed his markings were concealed underneath his helmet, so it would be harder for everyone else to tell. The only way for them to identify the soldier as Reversed is the Duel Disk they were carrying.

Seeing how there was a good chance more Reversed Duelists could pop up any minute, confrontation was probably the best option at this point. Right now, Yuri was quite glad they chose to confront the Reversed Obelisk Force soldier because he backed him into a corner and was prepared to further back him up with the help of his trusty pet. With the required materials and conditions met, he whipped out his Polymerization Spell card in order to fuse his two Predaplant monsters since their Attributes were DARK.

“Arise, my beloved pet!” Yuri announced. “Emerge in all your wondrous glory!”

Shortly after the two Predaplants swirled around in two brightly colored aura, a dragon exited out of the “Fusion portal”, stretching his head out and opening up his mouth with streaks of saliva stuck in between the jaws, a dark yellow-green orb lighting up as his tail extended, and raising his body up to let out a roar as his red and yellow orbs and toxic green eyes began to glow on his body, joints, and face before locking into his attack position. That monster was Yuri’s ace monster: Starving Venom Fusion Dragon, a Level 8 DARK Dragon-Type monster with 2800 ATK and 2000 DEF. Requiring two DARK non-Token monsters as Fusion materials, he can gain ATK equal to an opponent’s special summoned monster on the turn he was Fusion Summoned until the End Phase. Also, once per turn, Level 5 or higher opposing monsters can be targeted and have him obtain its name and effects. Lastly, if he was destroyed and sent to the Graveyard, all of the opponent’s special summoned monsters get destroyed.

“Now talk,” Yuri ordered as his pet snarled at the Reversed soldier. “Why were you ordered to not duel anyone who has Pendulum cards?”

“How should I know?” the Reversed soldier asked in response. “The Void didn’t say why. All it said was to leave the Pendulum users alone until its master plan was complete.”

“You liar!” Yuri shouted. “Now talk before I rip your head off!”

Dennis was alarmed by the threat. “That’s enough, Yuri,” he said.

“No, it’s not,” Yuri replied. “Don’t you recognize him?”

Dennis looked at the soldier. “Should I know him?” he asked.

“You should,” Yuri said. “It’s Chazz Princeton of Obelisk Force Branch OK-BLD.”

Dennis looked alarmed at that reveal. “So?” Julia asked.

“Obelisk Force Branch OK-BLD is home to the more ruthless Duel Academy students,” Dennis explained. “They were all deemed as sadistic and twisted, preferring to kill instead of card people.”

“Precisely,” Yuri agreed. “The only way to get through their thick skulls is to speak their language.”

Throughout his years growing up at Duel Academy, he became aware of how lethal the OK-BLD branch is, especially during the time when plans were being made to conduct their first Invasion to commence the Arc Area Project. Of course, despite it being a huge success, there were very few fatalities caused by these heartless students, including Chazz. Whenever Yuri and Dennis thought about it, it admittedly boggles their mind on how a dueling branch as cruel and torturous as them would even be permitted to conduct these murderous actions, especially since they were part of Leo’s duel school at the time. Julia and Sylvio agreed with the students because resorting to murder was just as bad as—if not, worse than—carding people; they’re both terrible tactics, but one of them certifies the fact the victim never comes back to life. Despite this, Yuri has developed enough knowledge on how to…interrogate them, to say the least, and today was the perfect opportunity to test what he learned and acquire why all Pendulum users were to be left for last.

“Now then,” Yuri said, looking back at Chazz. “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” A twisted grin appeared on his face. “But I hope you refuse to corporate because I prefer doing the hard way.”

A frustrated sound came from Chazz’s throat. “Fine,” he said. “The Void wants to encase this whole planet in its dark shadow. It gets stronger with every person who receives its gift.”

“But why leave all Pendulum users alone?” Yuri asked.

“I told you, the Void never told us why,” Chazz repeated. “It’s almost like it’s deliberately hiding information from all of us. Even asking the entity itself doesn’t work.”

That was an unexpected reason as to why Void told the Reversed students to avoid the Pendulum users, but at least Yuri, Dennis, Sylvio, and Julia now have a reason as to the reasoning behind Celina telling Barrett to not duel Declan. It’s not that Pendulum cards are their weakness; there’s something about them that makes them stand out above the Fusion, Synchro, and XYZ cards, but what is it? Is it because they’re immensely powerful? If so, then is the Void using it to its advantage to cloak the world into darkness? Does he have something special planned for the Pendulum users to help further achieve his goal? Just when it seemed like one question was answered, more seem to pop up. Now it seems the group has to find a way to get to the main source, confront the Void, or even both. After all, it’s not human, so who knows where it’ll be.

“I see…” Yuri said. He snapped his fingers, commanding Starving Venom to grab the Reversed soldier. “Now take us to the Void or I’ll have my pet snap your neck!”

A dark laugh came from Chazz. “You really think I’ll do that?” he asked. “I don’t even know where it is. And even if I did, I wouldn’t want to ruin its master plan.”

“What are you saying?” Yuri angrily asked.

“If you want to speak to the Void, go find it yourself,” Chazz answered.

Using the powers given to him by the Reverse, Chazz flawlessly escaped from Starving Venom’s grasp and vanished from Iceberg Zone, leaving the dragon and the four Duelists behind. Yuri always knew the latter was arrogant under the Professor’s command, but this was just ridiculous. How on earth were they going to find the Void if they have no clue where it is?

Suddenly, a loud crash was heard nearby, with the source of the sound coming from two Duelists.

“Vat’s the last time…you steer,” a Russian girl said.

“Me?” an India boy asked. “I thought you were the one steering!”

“Well vat would explain how we got here,” the girl said.

The boy noticed the nearby group. “Hey look, we happened upon some Duelists!”

Julia and Sylvio knew who the duo was; even though they never faced off against them, they watched their impressive duels and they had an idea on who they both were. The Indian boy was Halil and his partner for the Battle Royale was a Russian girl named Olga. They must be looking for other Duelists to face off against after Zuzu and Gong won against them. Seeing as they must have obtained Pendulum cards since then, the four were worried about them for two reasons: they’re unaware of the looming new threat from the Reversed Duelists and they’re uncertain why the Void isn’t targeting the Pendulum users, but they know it’s going to be bad and they don’t want them to fall the same fate as everyone else or worse.

“Uh… Sure did,” Dennis said, faking a smile. “Care for an autograph?”

“N'yet,” Olga replied. “I care for a Pendulum card.”

“Sorry, but that’ll have to wait,” Dennis said, glancing around in case Reversed Duelists showed up. “We’re in the middle of something- Yuri, what are you doing?”

“Saving their lives,” Yuri said as he typed in something into his Duel Disk. Then he activated the communication feature. “Did you receive my current coordinates?”

“I did,” a voice spoke from Yuri’s Duel Disk. “I’m picking up on some unknown Duel Disk IDs. Which ones do you need us to transport?”

“Those two,” Yuri answered, gesturing his Duel Disk towards Halil and Olga.

“Thanks Yuri,” the voice spoke again. “I’m activating the transport setting…now.”

Just then, the pair’s Duel Disks’ screens lit up an icy blue glow that rapidly cloaked their bodies; right before they disappeared, they heard Dennis telling Halil and Olga what was currently going on was for the best for them and that everything will be explained once they appear at the desired location. And with that, the light grew brighter from where the duo were standing before vanishing them away from the Standard Dimension. A crisis has been averted; if things go well, they will be teleported to the Fusion Dimension momentarily.

“Are you sure that was the right thing to do?” Dennis asked.

“Of course, I’m sure,” Yuri replied. “As we speak, Aster is helping those two adjust to their temporary living arrangements.”

“What?” Sylvio asked. “That’s all?”

“There’s nothing else we can do,” Yuri explained. “With just about every Duelist transported to the Phoenix Resistance, the Void won’t find any more potential recruits.”

Of course, that was just in the Standard Dimension alone and there were still only about a handful lingering around the Action Field. One of them managed to stumble across Yuto, Gong, Shay, and more importantly, Sora, who was shocked to see that they had encountered with Syrus, one of the Void’s commanders. Devastation had crept up to the former like a shadow casting above someone because he couldn’t believe that one of his Obelisk Blue classmates had fallen victim to the Reverse; they had known each other for years and had gotten closer with their companionship, so discovering the Void had sucked it away from them shattered his heart into pieces.

But that was the main reason why Sora decided to be the one to take on his classmate; he wanted to rescue him from his Reversed prison because Obelisks have to stick together and look out for each other, even in the toughest situations. He was determined to get his friend back and the combination of his persistence and his Fluffals, Edge Imps, and Frightfurs was paying off as their intense duel progressed. He always knew Syrus became a strong Duelist under the Professor’s guidance, but seeing him with Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse on the field gradually made him livid up to the point where he was absolutely furious. Furious that the Void would do something this heinous.

With only a couple hundred Life Points left and two monsters on the field, Fluffal Mouse and Edge Imp Sabres, he began his turn by drawing a card, revealing it to be Polymerization. He then activated Fluffal Mouse’s effect; because it’s in attack position, two more copies of it are special summoned onto the field. Three Fluffals and one Edge Imp. He has the right number of Fusion Materials to bring out another Frightfur monster, one that his allies have never seen before.

“Alright, you Reverse scum!” Sora said. “Here comes the good part! Good for me, that is. I fuse Edge Imp Sabers and my three Fluffal Mice. Edge of sharpness and mayhem of mice! When the four come together, you will pay the price! I Fusion Summon Frightfur Tiger!”

A plush body was cut horizontally in half by a giant pair of luminescent scissors that glowed light purple with hints of light blues as the blades snipped shut. A plush head resembling a tiger turned around with its menacing green eyes and let out an evil laugh, with two glowing magenta eyes glowing from inside its mouth. It landed onto the Monster Zone to reveal itself to be Frightfur Tiger, a Level 6 DARK Fiend-Type Fusion monster with 1900 ATK and 1200 DEF. Its Fusion materials consist of Edge Imp Sabres and at least one Fluffal monster. If it was Fusion Summoned, it can target cards the opponents controls up to the number of Fusion materials used and are destroyed. Every Fightfur monster gains 300 ATK for every Fluffal and Frightfur monster Sora controls and he is allowed to control only one Frightfur Tiger.

“And now, Frightfur Tiger’s special ability activates!” Sora continued. “So that hunk of junk is going straight to the dump!”

Frightfur Tiger extended its scissor blades forward and surrounded Life Pair Cycroid - Reverse in between them, clamping them shut to destroying it from the field. Syrus was left in a major pickle; without his Joker monster, he won’t deal 400 damage and attack directly for every Locked monster on the field…and it terrified him. He has never seen anyone muster up enough strength to take on a Reversed Duelist, let alone push them on the brink of defeat.

“Next my tiger gains 300 attack points for each Frightfur monster I have,” Sora continued. “And I have one right now! So that’s 300 extra points. Now, for the real Duel Academy, time to end this! Frightfur Tiger, attack! Bash some sense back into Syrus!”

Frightfur Tiger lunged itself towards the other side of the field and bared its plush fangs down on a scared Syrus. It got onto a nice grip and used its paws to lock itself into place before going out with an explosion that sent him flying past Yuto, Shay, and Gong before tumbling down a nearby ancient staircase, with his circular glasses falling off his face and landing near the stairs. Once he landed face first on the ground, all his Life Points depleted to 0; the outcome was quickly followed by Sora rushing towards the stairs, grabbing the glasses, and running down to see if his friend was okay. His allies followed him to double check if defeating a Reversed Duelist really does turn them back to normal.

“Syrus?” Sora asked out of concern. “You okay?”

Before he could have time to receive an answer, Sora and the others stopped about three-quarters of the way down to see Syrus wincing and groaning in pain. His body was coated in the same dark red aura, but something different was going on. The aura started rising up into the air from its host and briefly unveiled its bold, blood red, demonic face, complete with a short screech as it continued expelling itself. Just then, a rapid jolt sped up the process further, fully getting rid of it and leaving behind what might have looked like an unconscious Syrus.

Sora quickly climbed down the rest of the stairs and ran to where the latter laid, flipping his body over and holding him in his arms to see if he wasn’t badly injured. Based on what was shown, he suffered a minor arm injury, so it wasn’t too serious; however, there was something more attention-catching on Syrus’ face. The markings he once bore were now gone and there was no longer a shadow covering from his forehead to underneath his eyes. Speaking of which, did they also showed signs of him finally free from the Reverse? Sora lightly shook his classmate and called his name to at least try and help him regain consciousness and it felt like it would last forever until Syrus’ eyebrows started twitching. His eyes were also tightly shut, but they began to open, revealing a remarkable sight: they no longer appeared soulless and his pupils and white highlights have returned, and the first thing he saw was Sora, who was so relieved and overjoyed to see his friend had returned.

“Sora?” Syrus asked, sounding a bit drained. “What… What happened?”

“Syrus!” Sora happily exclaimed. He hugged the Roid user. “You’re alright!”

“No seriously, what happened?” Syrus repeated, pushing Sora back. He noticed Yuto. “And when did Yuri grow out his hair?”

Shay and Gong turned their heads to face Yuto, who was scratching the back of his head and has shifted his eyes off to the side because he wasn’t sure if he should explain that he happened to be Yuri’s XYZ counterpart. This is now the second time that there are still people who may not be able to tell the difference between himself and the other counterparts even with his glasses on, much to his unfortunate disappointment with a hint of embarrassment.

“It’s complicated,” Sora said as he proceeded to type something into his Duel Disk. “Commander Phoenix should be able to explain everything to you.”

“I do remember hearing something about the Professor’s murder,” Syrus recalled as he put his glasses back on. “But everything else is a blur- Wait, did you say Commander Phoenix?”

“I sure did,” Sora answered. “I just sent him a message explaining how I freed you, so he should be activating the transport system any minute now…”

Syrus was at a loss of words after what Sora said. Freed him from what? Did something terrible occur at Duel Academy after Leo was killed? What is Aster doing, holding some kind of refuge base somewhere in the Fusion Dimension? Whatever happened, was it also responsible for making him forget what happened after learning the unfortunate news? At least he was grateful to know one of his classmates was there to rescue him from being used a puppet of some sort. He suddenly felt a small yet sharp pain coming from where his arm was barely injured; he hoped Aster was able to round up some surviving doctors to help form a medical clinic for any other survivors.

But that was what made him realize Duel Academy could still have a chance; whatever enemy it is that’s threatening all four dimensions any survivors and reverted Duelists will band together to settle the score that once caught them off guard. With this revelation in mind, he mustered up enough energy to lean forward and give Sora a hug for saving him, in which the latter returned. As they continued to embrace each other, a bright blue light flashed from Syrus’ Duel Disk and engulfed him, transporting him to the Phoenix Resistance. Sora got up from his knees and wiped away any lingering tears that might have formed; he then looked up to the sky, knowing one of his closest friends has escaped the clutches of the Reverse and there is still a spark of hope somewhere in the Fusion Dimension.

Chapter Text

As Sora’s group defeated Reversed Duelist after Reversed Duelist, Yuto took a break at one point to call Yoko. She isn’t a Duelist, but he didn’t want her to get hurt in the crossfire. However, once he contacted her, he was surprised to see her back in the Center Duel Field.

“You’re not at the eye clinic anymore?” Yuto asked.

“Leo Corporation safely transported me back to the Center Duel Field a while after you left,” Yoko explained. “They didn’t want any non-Duelists near the area.”

Yuto was relieved to hear that. She was even sitting in between Frederick, Tate, and Allie on her left and Zuzu’s dad Skip on the right. At the same time, it was rather surprising that Leo Corporation has special transport units that can transfer non-Duelists to the Center Duel Field. Did they not get the memo about it earlier or did they forget about it because they were busy with his appointment? Regardless, it was nice to know she made it past the Battle Royale okay; what may not be okay is the update on Yuya becoming demonic and its connection to the rampaging invasion of the Reversed Duelists.

“Is Yuya alright?” Yoko asked.

Yuto was hesitant to answer. “Is he?” Yoko repeated.

“I’m not sure,” Yuto finally admitted. “Turns out he’s actually possessed by the demonic entity responsible for this whole thing-”

“WHAT?” Yoko suddenly shouted.

“I don’t get it either,” Yuto continued. “But the last time I saw him, he seemed pretty broken.”

“Promise me he’ll return here safely,” Yoko said, expressing concern. “Promise me I’ll see his smiling face again.”

Yuto didn’t respond to her and the only reply she got was deafening silence from him. She noticed his eyes looking away from her as they shifted their direction towards the ground and his face displaying a rather hesitant expression. She could tell it wasn’t going to be an easy task and knew he wasn’t sure if Yuya would ever be his usual self again after whatever this demon did to him. Was it trying to break his spirit or something? What exactly does it want from him and was it necessary for it to cripple him until his beliefs in dueling were rendered useless…or worse?

“Yuto,” Yoko said. “Will Yuya be alright?”

Yuto took a deep breath. “No,” he finally admitted. “He strayed from the group so he could have some time alone. The last time I saw him, he was deeply upset. If this gets any worse, he might end up becoming a broken shell.”

The news didn’t settle well with Yoko; in fact, it made her more concerned, and even worried, about her son. Although it never hurts to have some alone time, the demon possessed Yuya twice in one day, so no doubt it must be a scary experience for him. He does know it is okay to speak to those he knows about anything that’s conflicting him, but after finding ways to sport a smile on his face to cope with Yusho’s disappearance, the chances of his usual method being effective were most likely decreasing for every possession. Just in case, Yuto and his companions need to find Yuya as fast as possible because there was no telling when it will take over again.

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Sakaki,” Yuto said. “I’ll try to find Yuya as soon as possible-”

“Guys, I just received a message from Yuri!” Sora announced. “He found some Reversed Duelists at Volcano Zone!”

“…I have to go,” Yuto told Yoko. “But don’t worry. My top priority is finding Yuya.”

Yoko wished Yuto good luck and told him to be careful before ending their call on their webcam app. He then secured his Duel Disk back on his left wrist as he caught up the others to head on over to Volcano Zone. As they all ran towards their next destination, Sora explained to Yuto, Gong, and Shay what Yuri has been up to; he confronted the Reversed Duelists once he was able to find them, but he wasn’t actually dueling them. Instead, he is having Starving Venom fend them off in order to buy them some time before they arrive. The only question is whether or not the Reversed Duelists were fighting back, and if so, there was still the matter of their Joker monsters and the possibility of them actually trying to turn Yuri’s interception into a duel.

Meanwhile, over at Volcano Zone, Starving Venom was slashing midair. “I’m warning you!” Yuri exclaimed. “If you dare take a single step forward, my dragon will devour your monsters in an instant!”

Reed smirked. “I’d like to see you try,” he said. “My Royal CookJokers are designed to fill up my enemies!”

Yuri growled, but Dennis had to restrain him. “Hang on a minute,” the Performage user said. “Wait for Sora and his allies to arrive before attacking.”

“Do you really think he made allies?” Yuri asked. “For all we know, we’re the only non-Reversed Duelists still around! Everyone else was either infected or sent to the Phoenix Resistance!”

In a miraculous twist, a group of four was seen off in the distance, running as fast they all could to get here in time. As they got closer, it made it easier for Yuri and Dennis to determine who they were; to their surprise, one of them happens to be Sora, who had made three allies after they all split to cover more ground. Standing right next to Sora was a young teen who has the same facial structures as Yuri, something the latter quickly took note on; coincidentally, Dennis immediately recognized the eggplant-haired teen as Yuto from the XYZ Dimension because he recalled seeing him utilize an XYZ monster and exchanging information with him and Yuya about Celina and the Reverse massacre that took place a few days ago.

“Yuto?” Dennis asked once the group was closer. “You survived?”

“Of course I did,” Yuto replied. He activated his Duel Disk. “I hope you don’t mind a little assistance.”

“Not at all,” Dennis said. “The more the merrier.”

Yuri stood as he was left mesmerized at what he witnessed. He remembered the Professor introducing him to his grand plan to reunite the four dimensions and saw images of himself with his three counterparts, so this was his first time he gets to meet his XYZ self in person and a lot earlier than he anticipated due to the current circumstances. He hoped Sora and Dennis’ allies, especially Yuto, all have the necessary skills they needed because he has developed an idea which was explained his message. With Starving Venom holding the Reversed Duelists off, his actions helped prevent a duel from being initiated, so all they needed to do was to bring out each of their signature monsters and have them go all out in full-blown combat.

“I Fusion Summon Performage Gear Peace Giant!”

“Time to shine in the spotlight, Abyss Actor - Superstar!”

“I Fusion Summon Gem-Knights Master Diamond and Lady Brilliant Diamond!”

“Come on out, Frightfur Chimera!”

“Witness the ascent of Raidraptor - Rise Falcon!”

“Gong Synchro Summons his Level 10 Superheavy Samurai Warlord Susanowo!”

“I XYZ Summon Dark Rebellion XYZ Dragon!”

All of the their ace monsters of each special summoning technique materialized right next to their respective owners, ready to go up against the Reverse… Well, except for two of them. Yuto and Yuri heard the sounds of growls and roars and looked up to see Dark Rebellion and Starving Venom, who were both happy to see each other. This was a rather odd spectacle to witness because they’re behaving as if they haven’t seen one another in years. Was it because they were now fighting on the same side since both the Resistance and the remnants of Duel Academy have to tackle this new foe? Both Yu-boys couldn’t find the right words to respond to this, let alone find a correct thought about it.

“Starving Venom, stay focused!” Yuri said. “I get that you live among plants, but you cannot let seeing another dragon distract you!”

Starving Venom let out a small growl, causing Yuri to look surprise. “I beg your pardon?” he asked.

“What’s wrong?” Dennis asked.

“I think I heard my pet say ‘brother’,” Yuri explained.

Dark Rebellion growled as well. “So did I,” Yuto said.

Both Yuto and Yuri were puzzled and shocked at this sudden revelation of their dragons being brothers. How long were they related to each other? Was it 14 years or longer? What exactly did happen to them that caused them to get separated for all this time? Whatever the case is, as long as they’re reunited at last, that’s all that matters to them… And what better way to celebrate their reunion than taking down some Reversed Duelists?

“Shall we do a midair attack together?” Yuri asked as the Reversed Duelists were summoning their own monsters.

“I was thinking the same thing,” Yuto agreed. “Go Dark Rebellion XYZ Dragon! Mauling Mandible Charge!”

“Starving Venom Fusion Dragon, wipe out those demon dogs!” Yuri commanded. “I hope the metal isn’t too repulsive for your taste buds.”

The orbs on Dark Rebellion’s wings started to glow light purple, with them surrounding the pair with electricity of the same color. He then flew towards the opposite side with his chin covered in a light blue glow as he lowered his head and sharply raised it to destroy one of the Joker monsters. As for Starving Venom, he extended out his wings and formed an electric aquamarine energy orb that fired out purple and magenta lightning bolts that obliterated the Hunting Hounds - Reverse.

That gave Sora an idea. “Hey Shay, can ya give Frightfur Chimera a boost?” he asked. “I see a couple of Reversed Harpies in the sky.”

“You’re not afraid my Rise Falcon might drop your Chimera?” Shay asked.

“At this point, I don’t think that should be a concern,” Sora said.

“Alright,” Shay said. He looked over at his monster. “Raidraptor - Rise Falcon, give Frightfur Chimera a boost!”

Rise Falcon flew to where Frightfur Chimera was and extended its two giant legs out until it got a firm grip on the latter’s body. It also used its smaller front legs to lock onto two of the metal necks for further support, and given the size of Sora’s monster, there was no risk of a choking hazard. Rise Falcon then lifted itself and Frightfur Chimera off the ground and soared through the air; surprisingly, they were both doing a fairly good job at being midair despite their different sizes. Once they were a good distance away from the Reversed Harpies, they both locked onto their targets and Frightfur Chimera was flung towards them straight out of from Rise Falcon’s legs. The eyes of Fluffal Bear’s head glowed magenta before opening its mouth to launch rockets aimed at each Harpie, which ultimately destroyed them. Both Sora and Shay were pleased with the results of the former’s idea.

“Thanks, XYZian,” Sora said as Rise Falcon caught Frightfur Chimera to place it back on the ground. “Guess you’re not as bad as I thought.”

“Is that supposed to be a compliment?” Shay asked.

“Sure, let’s call it that,” Sora casually answered.

Shay took a few seconds to gather what he listened to and was surprisingly enjoying the comment, considering the fact this was coming from someone from the Fusion Dimension. They might have been bitter enemies earlier, but looking at the matter at hand, he may be realizing that they’re not entirely bad. They’re still Duelists in the end, but much like them, they’re struggling with the hard battle of reclaiming their home that was lost to an enemy that caught them off guard, the exact same thing the XYZ Dimension endured. Referring it as karma would be going too far because the fate of all four dimensions is resting on their shoulders, so having two conflicting sides joining forces to end a brand new war was something he wasn’t expecting. He might admittedly start to like the thought of having people from the Fusion Dimension allying with him and his group.

Speaking of Fusion users, Julia was tackling the two Reversed ninjas, Moon Shadow and Sun Shadow. Normally, it would have appeared she was at a disadvantage due to the 2-on-1 setup, but because she has two Gem-Knights with her, she was at a more leveled playing field against Twilight Ninja Getsuga - Reverse and Twilight Ninja Nichirin - Reverse.

“Do you really think your Gem-Knights can take on our Twilight Ninjas?” Sun Shadow asked.

“Obviously,” Julia answered confidently.

“Then it appears you are incorrect,” Moon Shadow said. “Activating Twilight Ninja Getsuga - Reverse’s ability! Lock Gem-Knight Lady Brilliant Diamond!”

Getsuga - Reverse materialized a black halo and tossed it towards Lady Brilliant Diamond in a similar manner to using a ninja star. The halo encircled her and electrocuted her with black electric bolt when a bright light engulfed her and was reverted back into her card form. It was then trapped inside a electricity-covered black sphere with two black orbiting rings that glowed dark red. Julia was perplexed by what happened to her monster and one glance at her Duel Disk and she noticed that same monster had her card flipped into face-down defense position. Whatever Moon Shadow did, she was now at a bit of a disadvantage because of the Joker monster’s Lock ability.

“Now I will use Twilight Ninja Getsuga - Reverse’s Skill,” Moon Shadow continued. “By switching him to defense mode, all Locked monsters are ban-”

“That’s enough. I’ll take it from here.”

Julia recognized that voice from the way it sounds; the tone shifted into something different and she became doubtful on who it was. When her eyes shifted towards the new person, she fell into distraught upon seeing who that person was. It was Dipper! She spotted the markings he bore and noticed they looked the same as Zuzu’s, but without the pi symbol. Is this what happened to him? Is this why Reed achieved victory by default…because of what her friend falling into the same fate as Zuzu?

“Dipper?” Julia asked, her voice a bare whisper.

The Constellar user held up a single card, which was covered in a dark red aura. “I summon Pleiades - Reverse,” he said.

The card pulsed out a mix of dark red and black energy and aura, and right as Dipper released it, it continued emitting the same aura as it spun around and landed on his Duel Disk in face-up attack poison. The aura then expanded and one of the monster zones began lighting up dark red and black with thick clouds of the same colors coating it as a silhouette of a monster rose up. Just then, the light and clouds exploded, igniting the arrival of Pleiades - Reverse. He gripped onto his weapon as he continued rising, and once he was in the monster zone, he slashed around a few times before locking himself into his standard attack pose. The strength he possessed could be felt from the gusts of wind that only lasted a few seconds.

Pleiades - Reverse had the appearance of a demonic knight. His silver armor had transformed into a dusty brown. His gold plates with purple decals and chartreuse markings were now much pointer, with the points branched off into two, and were a rusty, dark vermillion with the decals having a lighter tint of the plates and the marking being dark purple. His usual emblem that was located on the center of his chest was replaced with the black-colored Link Joker symbol. The black shadow covering his face except his chartreuse eyes became dark purple and a brighter purple respectively. The handle of his sword was shaped into a wavy yet spiky shape instead of the crescent variant and had the same color pattern as its owner. Finally, his legs were chained with one black halo each, three on each arm, and a giant one that replaced his cape.

“Using Pleiades - Reverse’s Skill, he returns your Locked Gem-Knight back to your Extra Deck,” Dipper said. “So begone, Lady Brilliant Diamond!”

Pleiades - Reverse took his sword and swayed to his right, with the blade facing his body and the handle glowing dark red. The black electric sphere then reacted to the Skill by engulfing itself in the same glow until it vanished from the field. Julia stared at what was unfolding, and one glance at her Duel Disk had her stunned at the fact Lady Brilliant Diamond wasn’t there anymore; she had been sent back to her Extra Deck, much to her frustration.

“Not so fast!” Sylvio exclaimed. “You’re still dueling me. Remember?”

“Do you think I’m dumb?” Dipper asked. “It wouldn’t be much of a challenge since our monsters have equal strength.”

“Oh really?” Sylvio asked. “Have you noticed my Superstar looks different now?”

Dipper turned his head from Sylvio to Abyss Actor - Superstar and was confused what his monster was wearing. Seeing that he just recently arrived on the battlefield, he couldn’t recall if his monster had been donning this attire for a while, but was assured that this was recent because he had activated the Spell card Abyss Script - Fantasy Magic. With it, every monster that battles Superstar is sent to the hand instead of the Graveyard at the end of the damage step and can put one of the opponent’s cards they control on top of their deck; the second effect only works if this Spell was set and destroyed by a card’s effect and Sylvio has an Abyss Actor Pendulum monster face up on the field.

“You used that Spell while I wasn’t looking!” Dipper realized.

“Indeed I did,” Sylvio confirmed. “But I’m not done. Now I set the Pendulum Scale with  the Abyss Actors Curtain Raiser and Twinkle Littlestar! Now is the time for your grand debut, Abyss Actor - Evil Heel!”

Because Curtain Raiser is a Scale 7 and Twinkle Littlestar is a Scale 9, he was allowed to Pendulum Summon any Level 8 monsters and he just so happens to have the right one. The Pendulum portal opened up as a trail of red aura came soaring down to reveal Evil Heel, a Level 8 Scale 1 DARK Fiend-Type Pendulum monster with 3000 ATK and 2000 DEF. His Pendulum effect allows Sylvio to tribute an Abyss Actor and target an opponent’s face-up monster, resulting in that target to lose ATK equal to the tributed Abyss Actor’s original ATK (even if Evil Heel leaves the field), but it can only be done once per turn. His monster effect involves him targeting an opponent’s face-up monster and having that target lose 1000 ATK for every Abyss Actor on the field until the end of the turn; if he destroys a monster by battle, an Abyss Script Spell card can be targeted from the Graveyard and set on the field.

“Now I activate Evil Heel’s special ability!” Sylvio continued. “Drain Pleiades of every last attack point! Malevolent Power Drain!”

A light began to illuminate from Evil Heel’s mask, Twinkle Littlestar, Curtain Raiser, and Superstar and the red eyes on Evil Heel glowed sharply a bold red color, trapping Pleiades - Reverse in an aura of the same color. With four Abyss Actors on the field, Dipper’s Joker monster was about to endure a loss of 4000 ATK. Evil Heel opened up his large mouth as he proceed to draw in the energy prolongly; the force was strong enough to suck the aura in, which now resembled Pleiades’ soul, but once it entered into the mouth and was swallowed hole, Pleiades suddenly felt weak as his body fell limp and his ATK crashed down to 0. Evil Heel let out a deep chuckle, pleased with his work.

“Care you conclude this performance, Julia?” Sylvio asked.

“With pleasure,” Julia answered. “Gem-Knight Master Diamond, wipe out Pleiades and free Dipper from the Reverse!”

Master Diamond raised his sword up and leapt into air before descending with a slash right across Pleiades - Reverse, destroying him with a huge explosion that sent Dipper flying away from the battlefield as he was dealt 2900 damage. Normally, his Life Points would drain down to 1100, but because this isn’t technically a duel thanks to Yuri and Starving Venom, this was treated as an easy defeat, meaning he was no longer corrupted by the Reverse. As he laid on his side, a dark red aura surrounded his body until it shot upward into the sky, leaving him behind as he screamed in pain as his markings vanished from existence. He fell back to the ground once the Reverse was completely expelled from him. Julia had rescued one of her closest friends and she was glad one of them didn’t have to endure this suffering anymore.

Dipper let out a groan as he got back on his feet. “Julia?” he asked. “What happened?”

Julia smiled softly. “You’re alright,” she said.

“What are you talking about?” Dipper asked. “You’re acting like- Wait, what’s going on with my Duel Disk?”

He saw his Duel Disk’s screen shine brightly a light blue color that began to envelope him, but Julia and Dennis both reassured him that he was now going to be in safe hands. Shortly after that, he vanished from the Action Field; with another Duelist free from the Reverse, the group of seven continued their focus on defeating Reed, Sun Shadow, and Moon Shadow.

Meanwhile, back at the Ancient Zone, Yuya and Double Iris Magician ran back to the ruins where the second run-in with the Void took place. He wanted to tell Shay, Gong, Yuto, and Sora about how he was still going to carry on with his beliefs and how he wasn’t going to let some demon strip them away from him. Once they got to the top of the staircase, however, they both noticed they weren’t there and it left them both puzzled. Where on earth did they go? Were they trying to find him or something?

“Hello?” Yuya called out. “Guys?”

“I’m sure they’ll be fine,” Double Iris assumed. “Now let’s find some people to duel!”

The two searched the entire Ancient Zone for any of the finalists to duel against, but they found nothing. They then went off to the Jungle and Iceberg Zones with the hope that they must have went to somewhere else to duel. Unfortunately, as time went on, their problem became more apparent: there was no one to duel. Where did they all go? He‘s already defeated Taka and Nagi alongside Dennis, he has seen Zuzu, Shay, and Gong, and he was aware of Ashley, Bram, and Carl getting Reversed. That’s nine out of the sixteen Junior Youth finalists participating, so where are the other six? He knew Reed was taking part, so that must mean he has to be around somewhere.

Double Iris let out a frustrated groan. “Where is everybody?!” he complained. “I was hoping to try out this new trick with Hip Hippo!”

“You seem pretty anxious to take part in a duel,” Yuya noted.

“Of course I am,” Double Iris replied. “I want to help you entertain the crowd, but I can’t do that if there’s no one to duel!”

“Geez, calm down, Odd-Eyes,” Yuya said. “We still haven’t checked Volcano Zone.”

“Oh, right,” Double Iris said. “Maybe everyone’s all there.”

They hurried along as they marked their next destination at the Volcano Zone, hoping they would get there in time before the other seven finalists split in search of duels. They dashed through a zone or two until they finally made it; it initially didn’t look like there was anyone here, but they knew they all had to be around somewhere. Scanning the rocky elevations, the bridge, and any areas that were near a lava river, their search was going to be harder than they thought until they stumbled across a building located in between the river and some rocky formations at a higher elevation. They both ran to get a closer view of what was going on and saw familiar looking Duel Monsters, which sparked Yuya’s hope of getting to duel someone he knows after they were done.

As he and Double Iris got closer, they got glimpses of monsters that turned the tide of their plans. They both saw two dragons: Dark Rebellion XYZ Dragon and another that somewhat appeared more like a winged snake with claws, but the magician knew that it wasn’t an ordinary dragon; he recognized it as Starving Venom Fusion Dragon, meaning this Yuri person was nearby. However, Yuya was more focused on something else; on the other side of the field, he saw what looked like the Royal Cookpals and Ninjas, but they were corrupted. He knew for a fact they weren’t designed that way and had a sinking suspicion that these monsters were Joker monsters, meaning his friends must be doing whatever it takes to defeat their Reversed opponents.

“I… I can’t believe it…” Double Iris said.

“I know, Yuya said, sounding horrified. "Did they get to Reed-”

“BROTHERS!” Double Iris happily called out. He waved out his hand at the two dragons. “I’m over here!”

Dark Rebellion and Starving Venom turned their heads to find out where that voice came from when they saw Double Iris. Despite his human appearance, they saw how his attire felt familiar yet recognizable because it strongly resembled Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. They quickly realized that it was Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon and he managed to unlock his human form during their fourteen-year separation. Their joyous roars caught Yuto and Yuri’s attentions and they noticed Double Iris and his owner; Yuri wasn’t sure on where that magician came from, but Yuto knew Yuya had arrived.

“Yuya…” Yuto said, smiling softly. “He’s alright.”

“Wait, that’s Yuya?” Yuri asked. He squinted for a better look. “He looks far more uncivilized than I thought.”

Meanwhile, Double Iris was still overjoyed upon seeing Dark Rebellion and Starving Venom. “Oh this is great, Yuya!” he exclaimed. “I’m finally reunited with my two brothers! I mean, yes I remember coming across Dark Rebellion before, but I didn’t notice he finally stopped being a crybaby like he was in the past!”

“Did you say 'brothers’?” Yuya asked.

“Well, yeah,” Double Iris answered, completely missing Yuya’s confused response. “I also have a sister. I think you met her before.”

Met her before? Well, Yuya has seen a variety of dragons before, including his, Yuto’s, and now Yuri’s, but he did feel like he was forgetting someone. He immediately recalled seeing his Synchro counterpart Yugo for the first time and he also has a dragon of his own too, something along the lines of Clear Wing Synchro Dragon. He processed the information that was given to him: four lookalikes owning four dragons, with each pair residing in a different dimension. They all must have some kind of connection with each other, including their dragons. Double Iris stated he was related to Clear Wing, Dark Rebellion, and Starving Venom, and if the XYZ and Fusion Dragons are male, then that means…

“Clear Wing Synchro Dragon is a girl?!” Yuya asked aloud.

“Yeah, that’s her,” Double Iris answered. “From what I remember, she’s absolutely vicious, finding genuine enjoyment from ripping her enemies to shreds.” He let out a small laugh. “Even Starving Venom is terrified of her, and he’s the more sadistic one.”

Starving Venom overheard Double Iris’ statement, letting out a growl of embarrassment because he knew it was true. Even though Clear Wing doesn’t carry the same sadism as he does, she always finds herself surrounded by the satisfaction of having her opponents suffer defeat at the hands of her. Yuya figured the duel between Yuto and Yugo was her displaying that side of her, which was why her owner managed to snag himself a win right before…things started to get darker.

“I remember,” Yuya said. “That was before- GAH!” He nearly fell over.

“Yuya!” Double Isis exclaimed. But he suddenly felt the same stabbing pain in his heart.

Whatever they were feeling, they sensed it was the same sensation they experienced before; this time, it was stronger than the previous one at Ancient Zone. Yuya struggled to maintain his control over the Void, understanding it was back at it again for a third time. His head shot up towards the sky as he screamed in agony, with both hands firmly grasping onto his head and his fingers tangled through the strands of red and green hair. He soon fell onto his knees and his surroundings was becoming blurry and shaky; as he looked around, he saw his two companions, his two counterparts, and their dragons roaring in response to what was happening to him and his monster. Additionally, his eyes shifted to his left and stared at the three Reverses Duelists, which most likely provoked the Void to take over again.

“You cannot save them, Yuya Sakaki. They belong to me now.”

“No…!” Yuya cried out. “I won’t let you Reverse anyone else!”

“Don’t you get it? When more people accept my gift, I become stronger. And it won’t be long until I get enough strength to take complete control of your body.”

“I can’t…” Yuya gasped. “I can’t…”

“Remember, Yuya. Use your power to keep the world entertained and smiling. You can’t let the Void win!”

Yuya’s eyes shot open and, as he removed his hands from his head, he looked up to see an astral projection of a monster he owns: Queen Dragun Djinn, the same card Yuto bought for him. She had materialized in front of her owner to help carry out the message of never giving up on his beliefs even in the toughest and darkest of times, which was also an ideal belief for Yuto himself because he had also come from a city where dueling brought entertainment and smiles long before the Invasion.

“But this thing is inside me…” Yuya struggled to say. He clutched his chest. “I feel it in my heart…”

“I get this isn’t like when your dad left,” Queen Dragun Djinn continued. “But I know you’re strong enough to not let this demon take over you! Both you and Odd-Eyes make a powerful team! And with my help, we’ll be able to defeat the Reverse and save everyone!”

Those words echoed inside of Double Iris’ head; were Yuya and Yusho’s beliefs about dueling really that powerful? He never knew they would have a strong impact on anyone, let alone Queen Dragun Djinn since she has known them for about a day. It rapidly became certain to him because he could feel something within him, almost as if her influential, motivational reminder to them awoke a spark inside him…and made him feel like a new monster. Was he…evolving? Was he becoming someone different thanks to the desire to spread smiles to everyone?

Suddenly, Double Iris remembered Yuya’s tag duel with Dennis. “My new XYZ form…”

“Odd-Eyes?” Yuya asked.

“I feel it,” Double Iris said. His eyes were surrounded by a flaming aura. “The flame within me is burning bright!” He looked back at this owner. “You feel it too, don’t you?”

Yuya stared at the magician’s eyes to have his own locked into the mesmerizing energy the aura possessed, from the movements that mirrored a standard fire to the bright heat that gave him the motivation to do so. He could tell Double Iris wanted to give his XYZ form a shot as a way to resist the Void’s control, giving the former the inspiration to do the same; after all, there was no way he was going to do it alone. He then gazed at the three Reversed Duelists to see who he wants to duel against until he found his perfect opponent: Moon Shadow, who was standing in between Reed and Sun Shadow. He figured it wouldn’t hurt to obtain some extra leverage in the battle against the Reverse.

“Moon Shadow!” Yuya exclaimed as he aimed his Duel Disk at the blue-clad ninja. “I challenge you to a duel!”

Chapter Text

All the Duelists, including the Reversed Duelists, stopped what they were doing and immediately faced Yuya, surprised by this sudden demand. Why Moon Shadow specifically? What about his brother or Reed for that matter? At least the former had met the Cookpal Duelist before, so it would make sense on challenge him to a duel, but he chooses the same Duelist who OTK’d Aura? Why him?

“Uh… Yuya?” Double Iris asked. “Moon Shadow was the one who defeated Aura in one turn!”

“I know,” Yuya said, not lowering his Duel Disk-bearing arm at Moon Shadow. “If I break him free from the Reverse, he might be a useful ally.”

Moon Shadow let out a snicker before running up to Yuya. “Do you really think you can defeat me?” he asked. “I will crush you as fast as I crushed miss Aura Sentia!”

“No,” Yuya said. “I don’t think I can defeat you. I know I can defeat you and save you from the Void’s grasp!”

Double Iris let out a huff. “Fine,” he said, sounding half-sad and half-concerned. “I just hope you know what you’re doing, Yuya.” And with that, he went back into Yuya’s deck in a flash of red light.

Leaving the area where the Duelists’ brawl was taking place, it served as Yuya’s signal to Moon Shadow to follow him. He removed his Joker monster from his Duel Disk and placed it back into his deck, causing the deck compartment to shuffle all the cards almost a second later. Right as his Duel Disk exited out of duel mode, Moon Shadow used his ninja speed to leave the battlefield and trail his opponent to find out where he was heading off to. They dashed through the rocky formations and elevations until Yuya stopped at a spot next to the lava river, leading the Reversed Ninjitsu Duelist to land feet first and stand back up. His shadowed face facing a face of determination. Marked and soulless versus eyes full of life, hope, and dreams.

“You do know what would happen if I were to defeat you, right?” Moon Shadow asked.

“I get Reversed and become part of the Void’s army?” Yuya asked in response. “Yeah, I already know that. But I won’t let that happen. I’ll defeat you and free you from the Reverse!”

Moon Shadow let out a cold laugh. “We’ll see about that.”

The two activated their Duel Disks and their Life Points shot up to 4000. With the Action Field already set, the Action Cards scattered across the zone, and the Battle Royale almost finished, they shouted, “Let’s duel!” Yuya was hoping he would make this effort count as he drew a card to suggest he will taking the first turn.

“I’ll start things up by setting the Pendulum Scale using Performapal Trump Witch and Timegazer Magician!” Yuya announced. “I’m taking control of this duel starting now!”

He placed his Scale 4 Trump Witch and his Scale 8 Timegazer Magician on the opposite ends of his Duel Disk blade, causing the word “PENDULUM” to appear across the blade one letter at a time. Trump Witch and Timegazer Magician then soared above the ground and into the air in their respective pillars of light. Finally, a large replica of Yuya’s pendant faded in between the two Pendulum monsters along with their respective Scale numbers 4 and 8 appearing directly below them.

“I’m allowed to summon monsters from Levels 5 and 7 all at the same time!” Yuya continued. “Swing far, pendulum! Carve the arc of victory! My monsters are ready…to SWING INTO ACTIOOOOOON! Turn up the heat, Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!”

The Pendulum portal opened up and a trail of red light came soaring out of it and onto the field. Upon landing on the middle monster zone, the light dispersed to reveal an enthusiastic Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon who couldn’t contain his excitement of what Yuya has in store, especially because he was anxiously dying to Dueltain alongside him.

“Whoa, easy there, Odd-Eyes!” Yuya said, briefly taken back by his dragon’s excited roar. “I’ll bring him out next.”

“Your turn isn’t over?” Moon Shadow questioned.

“Not yet,” Yuya responded. “I might have brought out my main lead, but I haven’t introduced his second-in-command. Now give a warm welcome to Performapal Hip Hippo!”

A glowing light flashed on a monster zone to Odd-Eyes’ right and Hip Hippo leapt out of it and onto the field, also anticipating Yuya’s plan. He was also looking forward to seeing what he can do; normally, he would generally use Timegazer and Stargazer Magicians to perform a Pendulum Summon, but he decided to spice things up by using Trump Witch instead of Stargazer Magician because of her Pendulum effect.

“Now I use Performapal Trump Witch’s Pendulum ability!” Yuya declared. “Since I don’t have Polymerization, she’ll give a little hocus to Odd-Eyes and then lend a dash of pocus to Hip Hippo! Odd-Eyes and Hip Hippo, merge into one! Look to the skies and feast your eyes on Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!”

From within the darkness, a pair of golden yellow and green eyes and a fiery orange orb were seen glowing. The darkness faded away and a dragon coated in red and gold scales and dark blue fur was unveiled. His growl-like roars and his posture for his attack position made it clear that he was Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, a monster he hadn’t used since his duel against Sylvio. Packing 3000 ATK and 2000 DEF, this Level 8 EARTH Dragon-Type Fusion monster requires one DARK monster and one Beast-Type monster to use as Fusion Materials. He also must either be Fusion Summoned or special summoned by tributing the given materials instead of using Polymerization—which is perfect thanks to Trump Witch’s Pendulum effect—and cannot be special summoned by any other way. If he destroys a monster in battle, he can take the Beast-Type Fusion Material’s original ATK and inflict it as damage to the opponent.

“Unfortunately, I’ll have to end my turn from there,” Yuya said. “But don’t worry, cuz the show’s just getting started!”

“How peculiar,” Moon Shadow remarked as he drew a card. “Not even playing a single face down. Very well. I summon Twilight-Joke Ninja Kagen in defense mode!”

Twilight-Joke Ninja Kagen is a combination of Moon Shadow’s Twilight Ninja Kagen and the standard Joker monsters. His usual cool color palette has been replaced with a white and red color scheme with the black rings outlined in a red light. His skills are similar to his incarnation’s Pendulum effects but has it revolve around his Joker monsters instead of Ninja monsters.

“But I am not done,” Moon Shadow continued. “Since I have a Joker monster, I can special summon another monster with a similar Level-Grade range. So I choose to summon Twilight Ninja Shingetsu!”

Twilight Ninja Shingetsu hopped out of the glowing luminescence and got into defense position next to Twilight-Joke Ninja Kagen, using two of his four arms to place his katanas behind him, getting on one knee, and crossing his other two arms in front of his chest. Yuya has never seen this ability before; well, he has seen effects where a monster can be special summoned if its Level is equal or less than the required level of said effect, but this effect involves Grades. What is a Grade? He knows they’re not part of the rules to Duel Monsters, so why is it permitting it?

“Did you say ‘Grade’?” Yuya asked.

“Joker monsters are a hybrid form between Duel Monsters and Units,” Moon Shadow clarified. “They have Grades instead of Levels. But now is not the time for chatter. I use Twilight-Joke Ninja Kagen’s ability to Loc- Huh?”

He sensed a pulse of energy just now, but it was not like anything he had ever felt before, yet…it felt familiar. It was evil, immeasurable, powerful, and is willing make others go against their will in order to satisfy its goal…and it was coming from a struggling Yuya. A dark red aura was coating his entire body, his red and green locks were floating up and down to the flow of the energy as if it was trying to cover and uncover his eyes, which were sealed shut to prevent this entity from taking over. Moon Shadow couldn’t believe what was happening to Yuya. He had become a vessel… A vessel to the Void.

“It seems we have no need to continue the duel,” Moon Shadow figured. “You are already-”

“No!” Yuya cried out. “I… I won’t let the Void control me again! We’re finishing this.”

“Very well,” Moon Shadow decided. “I use Twilight-Joke Ninja Kagen’s ability to lock Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!”

Twilight-Joke Ninja Kagen leapt into the air and swiftly moved his arm to the right to eject two black rings as if he was tossing a few ninja stars. The rings encased Beast-Eyes and unleashed black bolts of electricity, causing him to roar; however, a few seconds later, Moon Shadow and Yuya realized he was roaring for a different reason. Usually, a Duel Monster would revert to its card form by being engulfed in a spherical white light, but that light was transferred to the rings instead, causing them to swallow themselves and Beast-Eyes. Just then, a burst of energy resulted in a big explosion that led the two Duelists to shield themselves. When the smoke cleared, they both saw Beast-Eyes was still on the field, standing in attack position and coated in a dark red aura with black electricity. How is that even possible? Was there more to Yuya and his monsters than meets the eye? Does Yuya even know why his monster remained unfazed?

“What is this?!” Moon Shadow asked. “Why is your dragon not Locked?!”

Yuya quickly realized why. “Glendios…” he muttered.

Moon Shadow recognized that name. He questioned if Yuya knew who Glenidos was, and sure enough, he does… Well, a little bit of him. All he knows is Omega Glenidos is the Void’s ace Unit who takes control of Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon everytime he is possessed by the alien demon. They’re not sure where the Void and Glenidos came from, but they’re trying their hardest to resist their manipulation and fight to keep their beliefs of bringing smiles to everyone alive, even if it means dueling every Reversed Duelist they come across to prevent the Void’s goal from intervening them and from becoming a reality.

“So it seems I am unable to Lock your dragon,” Moon Shadow said. “No matter. I activate the Continuous Spell Illusion Ninjitsu Art of Hazy Shuriken! Now whenever I add a card to my hand, I can discard one and deal you 300 points worth of damage!”

Given the fact that Beast-Eyes has 3000 ATK and his Kagen and Shingetsu only have 0 and 1500 respectively, this was all he could do for this turn. With that, it was now Yuya’s turn, who was showing more determination and resistance against the Void’s control thanks to Beast-Eyes. Since it just so happens to be a Fusion variant of his ace monster, there was still a part of his spirit lingering in his Fusion monster somewhere that cancelled out the Lock due to being the vessel of Glenidos. Not only that, but there was a high chance that this cancellation only worked if Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon is used as a material for a Fusion, Synchro, or an XYZ Summon, but what about a Pendulum Summon? He was going to figure that out soon enough because right now, he now has an advantage in this duel.

Yuya drew a card and checked his hand. “Before Beast-Eyes can attack, I think it’s time I brought in some backup,” he said. “So here comes some reinforcements! I Pendulum Summon Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, Performapal Drummerilla, Stargazer Magician, and Xiangke Magician!”

Three trails of light darted out of the reopened Pendulum portal and onto the field: one dark blue, one light green, one white, and one red. The lights dispersed upon impact to uncover Performapal Drummerilla, Xiangke Magician, Stargazer Magician, and Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. All of his monster zones were now completely filled up; of course, that was just the first part of why his curiosity was piqued. He glanced at Odd-Eyes, wondering if he’ll end up getting Locked after getting Pendulum Summoned. Looks like this theory was put being put to the test after all.

“Now I activate Performapal Drummerilla’s special ability!” Yuya continued. “During my Battle Phase, he gives 600 additional attack points to Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon! Drum up a beat, Drummerilla!”

Drummerilla banged his drumstick arms against his chest rhythmically, pulsing out soundwaves aimed towards Odd-Eyes. The dragon roared in response to the exposure of the soundwaves as his ATK rose up to 3100.

“Alright, Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon,” Yuya said. “Attack Twilight-Joke Ninja Ninja Kagen! Spiral Flame Strike-”

“Not so fast!” Moon Shadow interrupted. “The Action Spell Evasion will stop your attack!”

The light green and magenta orbs on Odd-Eyes’ wings shone brightly with the light blue orb on top of his head reacting by showing the Spiral Flame Strike building up. Odd-Eyes opened his mouth with a ball of the flaming energy all charged up and fired it towards Twilight-Joke Ninja Kagen. However, the effects of Evasion made the Joker monster jump out of the attack’s direction and returned to its monster zone unharmed. Yuya gasped at the quick thinking Moon Shadow did to perform this retaliation. His Ninja deck normally revolves around defensive tactics while slowly dealing damage, making his playstyle extensively useful for Action Cards, which he managed to get one with his incredible speed. No wonder he easily defeated Aura in one turn.

“No problem,” Yuya said. “I still got four more monsters. Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, attack with Blazing Spiral Storm!”

He jumped on top of Beast-Eyes before the attack began and his selected monster leapt into the air. As he ascended into the sky, he began to charge up his attack in his mouth before firing out a flaming dragon head that was heading towards Twilight-Joke Ninja Kagen-

“Not so fast!” Moon Shadow exclaimed. “The Action Spell Lava Shield will force you to end your Battle Phase!”

Lava Shield is an Action Spell that has the exact same effect as Blinding Blizzard but with an altered name and image to fit with the Volcano Zone. The Blazing Spiral Storm dissipated right before it could hit Kagen and Beast-Eyes hovered down to his monster zone, much to Yuya’s frustration. Just when he thinks he has the upper hand, Moon Shadow almost immediately turns it around and puts him at a disadvantage…and he thought Iggy’s brutality was challenging enough. He looked at the cards in his hand and then back at Odd-Eyes, wondering if the next turn will decide if his ace himself is immune to getting Locked much like his beastly Fusion counterpart.

“Now to end this duel once and for all!” Moon Shadow declared as he drew a card. “By tributing Twilight-Joke Ninja Kagen and Twilight Ninja Shingetsu, I summon Twilight-Joke Ninja Jogen!”

As his two monsters are sent to the Graveyard, Moon Shadow discarded a card from his hand to lower Yuya’s Life Points to 3700 since he drew a card according to the effects of Illusion Ninjitsu Art of Hazy Shuriken. Kagen got coated in a dark red aura whereas Shingetsu surrounded himself in a light blue aura. They ricochet above the field before making a nosedive to an open portal to the Graveyard where they dived right into. Once the portal closed, the selected monster zone for his monster exploded with smoke spreading across Moon Shadow’s side of the field. A few seconds later, the smoke settled to reveal Twilight-Joke Ninja Jogen. It was practically a spitting image of Twilight-Joke Ninja Kagen in terms of the Joker monster palette and design but had a few features that resembled the original Jogen. Much like Kagen, Jogen’s skills are similar to his incarnation’s effects; however, it involves Joker monsters dealing piercing damage to his opponent if he attacks a defense position monster.

“And because I summoned Twilight-Joke Ninja Jogen using two tributes, two of your monsters are Locked,” Moon Shadow continued. “Begone, Stargazer Magician and Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!”

Just like Kagen, Jogen jumped up with two black rings in each hand and threw them at Odd-Eyes and Stargazer Magician like ninja stars. Before anyone knew it, both monsters found themselves encaged by the two pairs of rings that shocked them with the black electric bolts and swallowed by the white light. Stargazer Magician reverted back to his card form before becoming trapped in a black electric sphere with two glowing red rings on the field, with his actual card in face down defense position. As for Odd-Eyes, he underwent the same reaction as Beast-Eyes; the white light absorbed the rings and the roaring dragon that led to a smoke-filled explosion, revealing said dragon to be unharmed while coated with the same dark red aura and black electricity.

Yuya simply stood there as he watched all of it unfold. Although he slightly scowled at Jogen Locking Stargazer Magician, he was more than surprised when he saw Odd-Eyes not getting affected by Jogen’s Lock ability. He was right about his theory a short while ago: his ace monster and his variations are immune to the Joker monsters Locks thanks to Glenidos… Well, he only has a couple variants, but who knows if he’ll acquire more in the near future.

“Now to bring out my secret weapon,” Moon Shadow said after recovering from his shock. “Thanks to Twilight-Joke Ninja Jogen, I am allowed to bring out my true secret weapon. I Joker Summon Twilight Ninja Getsuga - Reverse!”

Dark red streams of illuminating energy flowed out of the card, and right as Moon Shadow slammed it onto his Duel Disk, the blade lit up intensely as it prepared itself to project the Joker monster onto the field. Using Twilight-Joke Ninja Jogen as tribute, it teleported to the Graveyard by transforming into a gray cloud, with Twilight Ninja Getsuga - Reverse appearing from the cloud and striking a ninja pose.

Getsuga - Reverse’s usual dark purple armored suit was now a dark grayish-blue with light gray and blood red linings. The yellow kneepads and crescent plates on his helmet became fair-skinned and spiky shaped with a silver color respectively. His tattered green cape and orange sash tied around his waist individually altered themselves into a cleaner light blue cape and green sash, complete with a long, loose magenta scarf. His piercing red eyes changed to a light purple; that may not sound menacing, but his reptilian-shaped helmet make up for it. Naturally, there is a red-glowing black halo on each wrist and ankle and a larger one behind him, but this one had alien text encrypted on it. His ATK and DEF are the same, but he has become a Grade 3 Joker monster with his effects now revolving around Locked monsters getting banished whenever he is switched to defense position.

“Now, I will use Twilight Ninja Getsuga - Reverse’s Skill,” Moon Shadow continued. “By switching him to defense mode, all Locked monsters are banished, never to return!”

Getsuga - Reverse got down on one knee and crossed his arms in front of his chest, indicating he was now in defense position. A layer of dark red light blanketed the Joker monster, which caused a beam to shoot out and envelop the Locked Stargazer Magician in the same colored light. Suddenly, it steadily absorbed the target whole, from the halos to the white luminescent sphere to the card; once it was all masked in dark red, the light rapidly shrunk in size before going out with a bang in a similar manner to a dying star bursting. Stargazer Magician was now banished from the field and has rendered him unable to use for the remainder of the duel, leaving Yuya rather frustrated.

“Now do you see your struggling is pointless?” Moon Shadow asked. “You cannot escape the Void’s grasp! Embrace its power and join us!”

Yuya clutched his chest. “No…!” he cried out. “I… I won’t lose to you!” With every ounce of strength he had, he drew a card. “I-I summon Performapal Silver Claw!”

Silver Claw pounced out of the glow from where his selected monster zone was and got into attack position. Normally, Yuya would use one of his Performapals’ effects to Special summon her, but his field is full; not to mention his monsters’ Levels are either too high or too low to tribute summon. Not that it matters because his monster is a Level 4 and the rules state at least one tribute is needed to summon a Level 5 or higher given the correct circumstances. He doubted he has a card in his deck or his hand that will allow him to make room on his field to special summon her, but what about an Action Card?

Using his acrobatic skills while maintaining his resistance against the Void, he bounced onto Odd-Eyes and told him to search around Volcano Zone for an Action Card. The latter growled in and nodded before taking off with Yuya’s other monsters following him; Moon Shadow witnessed what he was doing, and believing that running away won’t save him, he and Getsuga - Reverse trailed him through the Volcano Zone. Yuya and Odd-Eyes scanned the area by looking both ways as they scurried through the Action Field, but one glance over the Pendulum Pioneer’s shoulder led to him left in shock as he saw his opponent chasing him. He had to hurry if he was ever going to continue his turn.

Odd-Eyes let out a small roar to tell his owner that he sees a card ledged into a crack of a tall rocky formation. Yuya spotted the location his dragon mentioned to him and stated he has to grab it before Moon Shadow does. Heeding to the command, he charged towards the target, making sure he leaves enough distance for Yuya to snag it. With the Duelist’s right arm reached out, they zipped by the tall rock, where he managed to snatch it right out of the crack’s grasp and analyzed it to see it was. His eyes lit up at what he grabbed; it was perfect! The card’s effect was exactly what he was thinking of!

“I activate the Action Spell Monster Microwave!” Yuya announced. “This allows me to pull a switcharoo with my Performapals! So while Drummerilla has to bow out for now, give a warm welcome to the sweetheart of the show: Performapal Helpprincess!”

When Yuya removed Drummerilla’s card from his Duel Disk, his tangible hologram vanished from the field, going from the top of his head down to his feet. His deck ejected Performapal Helpprincess’ card so that he could special summon her; he grabbed it and placed it on the monster zone where Drummerilla once was, resulting in Helpprincess to materialize on the field; this time, she was being projected from her feet upwards to let Moon Shadow know she was now taking part of this duel for a good reason. She glanced over at Silver Claw to see if he was ready for the next stage of the show, and sure enough, he growled in agreement because they both know what Yuya has in store.

“Now I use Performapals Silver Claw and Helpprincess to build the Overlay Network!” Yuya continued. “Flames burning bright, reveal her majesty in all her glory! Bow before the lovely supreme queen of all dragons! I XYZ Summon Queen Dragun Djinn!”

Silver Claw and Helpprincess’ physical appearances morphed into light blue and bold purple luminosities that ascended above the field and plummeted to the Overlay Network, which opened on the middle right monster zone next to Beast-Eyes. As Yuya recited the summoning chant, a column of fire spewed out and condensed itself into the mix of a woman’s body and a dragon’s. Armed with the strength of a dragon and her Flute of Summoning Dragon lyre and protected with gray and gold armor, her sharp red eyes shot open, her wings expanded, and the flames whooshed away to uncloak her claws. Once the XYZ Summon was complete, she turned around to face what was behind Yuya and stared down at Moon Shadow and Getsuga - Reverse.

“Do you really think that will stop me?” Moon Shadow asked. “I can still Lock and banish your monsters on my next turn. And even if you were to attack, I can still dodge. Face it, Yuya Sakaki. The Reverse has given me unimaginable power!”

“But I can still work around your strategy,” Yuya said. “I activate the Spell card Duelist Alliance! It allows me to search for any Pendulum card from my deck and add it to my hand!”

The screen of his Duel Disk switched from the setup of the current duel to his deck formula, but it was filtered so that any card that has Pendulum in its name would show up. Yuya scrolled through the listed cards to see which one would be perfect before stopping at a Continuous Trap; he moved his head upward to examine his monsters on the field, including the Pendulum Zones that harbored Trump Witch and Timegazer Magician. He mustered up a smirk once he had a strategy formulated and clicked on the Continuous Trap, causing the deck to eject it in order for him to add it to his hand.

“Now I’ll conclude my turn with a face down,” Yuya said as he set the Continuous Trap he just drew.

“Stalling for the inevitable?” Moon Shadow asked. He drew a card. “Very well. I activate Illusion Ninjitsu Art of Hazy Shuriken!”

The holographic display of Illusion Ninjitsu Art of Hazy Shuriken flipped over so that the image was facing Yuya and pink ninja stars shot out and struck him, lowering his Life Points down to 3400. What was Moon Shadow planning? Whatever it is, he hoped his face-down card will give him a chance at victory.

“But that is not all,” Moon Shadow continued. “I switch Twilight Ninja Getsuga - Reverse back to attack mode, use his special ability to Lock Queen Dragun Djinn and Xiangke Magician, then use his Skill to banish both of them!”

Getsuga - Reverse stood back up to his attack position, dashed up to the sky, and tossed out black halos in each hand aimed at Queen Dragun Djinn and Xiangke Magician. The rings snagged the two in its grasp, electrocuting them back to their card forms that were sealed away in the white spheres protected by them and the black electricity. Getsuga - Reverse then knelt back down to his defense position where the dark red light surrounded him and shot out towards Yuya’s side of the field, but instead of aiming at one monster like it did with Stargazer Magician, it branched off into two trails of light that were heading towards the Locked Queen Dragun Djinn and Xiangke Magician. With both monsters now caught in the light, it began to envelop them whole before shrinking to the point where it wasn’t visible to the human eye and burst in two catastrophic explosions that banished them from the field.

Yuya’s field now only has Trump Witch, Timegazer Magician, and his two Pendulum Dragons, and out of the two, Odd-Eyes was the unhappiest because he was forced to watch his dragon queen get Locked and banished by Moon Shadow’s Joker monster. He wanted to do something, but what? He suddenly remembered the face-down Yuya played and wondered if his owner was able to successfully reel their opponent into his counterstrategy.

“I see what you’re trying to do,” Yuya realized. “You’re hoping to stall me long enough for your buddies to defeat everyone else.”

“So what if I was?” Moon Shadow asked. “It is already too late for you.”

“We’ll see about that,” Yuya said. With Moon Shadow’s turn over, he was ready to draw for his next turn.

He placed his right index and right middle fingers on top of the deck, prepping himself to draw his next card. Whatever he gets will prove whether or not it will start his little gamble he conducted. As of right now, Trump Witch, Timegazer Magician, Odd-Eyes, and Beast-Eyes’ effects and the cards in his hand may not be able to help him win this duel, which is why he needed some assistance from the card he will draw. He’s hoping one of his Performapals would be the right one so that he could activate his face-down; hopefully, by switching one of his Pendulum monsters with his drawn monster, he might stand a chance. With a deep breath and his eyes closed, he removed the top card from his deck to signal the start of his turn and opened one to see which one he got. Both eyes shot open as a quiet yet audible gasp escaped his mouth. This monster may do the trick, and with that, it was time to put his plan into motion.

“I summon Performapal Seal Eel!” Yuya announced. “Then I activate the Continuous Trap Pendulum Switch, allowing him to pull a little switcharoo with Trump Witch!”

Seal Eel slithered out of the brief gleam and settled on his Monster Zone next to Odd-Eyes. Once Pendulum Switch was flipped upward, its radiance from being activated led Trump Witch and Seal Eel get encrusted by a sheet of light. They floated upwards to switch places, zipping past each other and landing on their new zones, with Seal Eel now in the Pendulum Zone and Trump Witch next to Yuya’s ace. With that successful, he could now utilize his summoned Performapal to give him the advantage.

Moon Shadow, however, didn’t look impressed. “What good is one measly eel?” he asked.

“Oh, this 'measly’ eel is more powerful than you think,” Yuya countered. “Thanks to his Pendulum ability, Performapal Seal Eel negates your Reverse monsters’ abilities!”

“So?” Moon Shadow asked.

“Doesn’t your Reversed Twilight Ninja need his Lock ability to activate his Skill?” Yuya asked in response.

Moon Shadow was about to point at Yuya as if he was going to make a retort to the question; why would he even try to negate Getsuga - Reverse’s Lock ability? Doesn’t he understand that all Joker monsters have that ability thanks to the Link Joker clan? In only a matter of seconds, his right arm slowly lowered down and it soon dawned on him as shown by his raised eyebrows and his widened soulless eyes. His signature card’s effect relies on Locking monster! If Seal Eel’s Pendulum effect negates the opposing monster’s effects, then that means he won’t Lock Yuya’s Performapals. He won’t banish them from the field. Will he not be able to defeat him?!

Seal Eel leaned his body back with his head not moving an inch due to his eyes glued onto Getsuga - Reverse and lunged forward, launching out a red luminescent “X” from his nose. The “X” floated through the air at a moderate pace before landing on top of the target’s head; Getsuga - Reverse placed his right hand on his head near where the “X” marked itself as his body almost instantly felt faint. He could feel his skills gifted to him from the Reverse draining him from his body and there was nothing he could do to stop it…for now, at least.

While it is true that Seal Eel’s Pendulum ability can negate the capabilities of a monster, this only lasts until the end of his turn. Additionally, it is said that the second part of his Pendulum effect allows Yuya to regain Life Points equal to the total damage he received from the same monster affected by Seal Eel during that same turn. The only drawback to this is he only endured damage from Illusion Ninjitsu Art of Hazy Shuriken during Moon Shadow’s turns, but that is not the case. Yuya was fortunate enough to have another copy of Seal Eel that has all his capacities, but this one doesn’t have the potential to let his master regain Life Points. A minor drawback, yes, but it definitely didn’t majorly impacted Yuya’s plan. In fact, it was only the beginning of his counterstrategy.

“Alright Moon Shadow, this is when things get serious,” Yuya said. “Judging by your expression, I have a feeling you depend on your Reversed ninja to duel. But now that he’s powerless, you’re stuck.”

Moon Shadow looked horrified. “This cannot be the end!” he exclaimed. “I must carry on the will of the Void!”

“Yeah, about that…” Yuya said. “My dragons say otherwise. Now I can finally end this duel and free you from the Void’s grasp once and for all!”

With that said, he issued a triple attack with all three of his monsters on the field to finally initiate a flawless Battle Phase. First, he leapt on top of Beast-Eyes, who was about to try again with his Blazing Spiral Storm; his Fusion dragon lifted off from the ground and skyrocketed into the air, charging up his attack. He then launched out a fiery dragon head that was locked on Twilight Ninja Getsuga - Reverse. The intensity of Beast-Eyes attack was so strong, it resulted in Moon Shadow’s Joker Monster getting destroyed from the field, lowering his Life Points from 4000 to 3000. Yuya then activated his dragon’s special ability; because Perfomapal Hip Hippo is a Beast-Type monster that was to Fusion Summon Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, additional damage equal to the Beast-Type Fusion Material’s ATK is dealt to Moon Shadow. Beast-Eyes encircled itself in a flaming sphere that spat out the same dragon head, but it was directed at the Reversed Ninja Duelist; upon impact, 800 damage was dealt to him since Hip Hippo’s ATK is 800, so that amount was subtracted from his Life Points and was now at 2200.

Once the first attack was done, Yuya hopped onto Odd-Eyes to continue his Battle Phase, but his ace won’t be making the next move just yet; instead, Performapal Trump Witch will get in on the action. She twirled her baton around  before thrusting it upward; as a result, the skull started to charge up as the black clubs and spades and the red hearts and diamonds gathered towards it until it glowed light blue. She then sharply moved her baton downwards and aimed at Moon Shadow, where a beam of light blue with orange streaks shot out and struck him. Even though she took out only 100 Life Points from him, it was more than enough for Yuya to unleash his final attack.

He declared his third and show-stopping move of his Battle Phase with his Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, who ran a good distance towards Moon Shadow and sprang until it appeared he was as high up as the smoky clouds of Volcano Zone. A fireball was forming in his mouth, but when it fired out, it instantaneously became a magenta beam with a black energetic spiral, meaning this was his signature Spiral Flame Strike. As the attack charged towards Moon Shadow, Yuya activated his monster’s effect to double the inflicted battle damage. The light green and magenta orbs on Odd-Eyes’ wings shone brightly with the flames building up. The light blue orb on top of his head then reacted by showing the light green and pink energy and the flames gathering together to form one whole effect boost. Odd-Eyes opened its mouth with a ball of the flaming energy all charged up and ignited his Spiral Flame Strike with more strength to deal greater damage.

Moon Shadow’s eyes could see the incoming attack, but the strong brightness from Odd-Eyes’ effect made his visuals go white until they became black a moment later. The force from the impact sent him flying away from Yuya and his body crashed onto the ground, with his Life Points plummeting down to 0. A holographic screen showed up in midair to reveal that Yuya was the winner of this duel, but it was not over yet. With less than a minute left until the Battle Royale, a dark red aura emanated from his body and expulsed itself from his its former host. Moon Shadow let out agonizing groans as the Reverse was in the process of getting purged; he may have developed some impressive pain resistance during his time at Fūma Clan Duel School, but even he couldn’t resist the throbs and irritations occurring. Fortunately, they only lasted for a few seconds and the Reverse dispersed into the air, fully expelled and no longer controlling Moon Shadow as shown by his markless face. The only question left is whether he’ll join in the war against the Reverse or if he’ll be transported to this Phoenix Resistance; he also did get that voicemail from this Aster Phoenix person on his Duel Disk when the Void was in control yesterday, so his struggling did let him hear the important glimpses of it.

“You’re not sure if you’ll join?” Yuya asked.

“It depends on what happens from here on out,” Moon Shadow explained. “Perhaps something might happen that will-”

All of a sudden, a buzzer went off as the timer reached 24 hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds. All the Action Cards scattered across Quartet of Quandry and used by the participating and Reversed Duelists vanished from reality. The floors on all four Zones began glow white along with the edges coated in yellow holographic particles as it ascended upwards, converting the entire Action Field back into downtown Paradise City.

“Time’s up! The Battle Royale is officially over!” Nico announced.

With the Action Field now gone, Yuya and Moon Shadow—who was now regaining his strength after reverting to normal—both found themselves near a highway with an exit attached to it. Was the Battle Royale over that fast? A lot had happened over the past 24 hours that it felt like it was less than the required time limit. Speaking of which, where are Yuto and the others? Were they alright? Did they ended up getting Reversed?

“Yuya!” Gong called out. “You alright?”

Yuya looked up to see the entire group of non-Reversed Duelists. “Yeah Gong, I’m fine,” he answered. “What happened?”

“I’m not really sure,” Sora admitted. “As soon as time ran out, all of the Reversed Duelists vanished in flashes of black and red light. We weren’t able to free anyone.”

Moon Shadow looked sad. “That means my brother is still one of them,” he realized.

Yuya double-checked the group. “Wait, is this everyone?” he asked. “Where’s Zuzu?!”

Dennis looked hesitant. “I’m so sorry,” he finally said. “I did my best to protect her, but she was captured.”

There was no words for Yuya to describe his reaction to the bad news. What does he mean by “captured”? Are there any other students or Obelisk Force soldiers from Duel Academy that still wished to carry out Leo’s plans despite the bigger threat? Was she taken as hostage by the Reverse? What happened to her? Dennis wished to tell him the rest, but he didn’t want to upset him any further, especially because he couldn’t shake off the feeling that it was all his fault; it all happened so fast yet he still felt like he could have done something to prolong or prevent the unfortunate from happening to Zuzu.

“You’ve all dueled well.”

The remaining Duelists all looked up. “Declan…” Yuya said.

“So it’s true,” Sylvio said. “This whole tournament was set up for us to become your Lancers.”

“The lancers?” Gong asked. “Who’re they?”

“I heard rumors that this Battle Royale was really a test,” Sylvio explained. “A test to see who can cut it as a Lancer. And if the whole threat of the Reverse is any indication, it seems Declan really has changed his opposition.”

“Lancer…?” Yuya repeated. Now he was more confused as to what was going on. Just when he thought he was dealing with the revelations of four dimensions existing in the same universe, he is trying to figure out the whole Reverse ordeal and then he hears a nutshell of what Declan has been planning with this so-called Lancer group. His emotions restricted him from saying any more words as his eyes were glued straight onto Declan, from his white sneakers that uncover his ankles to his casual attire consisting of black stud earrings, white capris, a long-sleeved navy blue shirt, and insanely long red scarf to his stoic spectacled face with his silver-gray simple haircut covering his eyebrows and his purple eyes staring back at Yuya through his red rectangular glasses. He knew whatever happens next, his soon-to-be member of the Lancers was going to experience what this new threat and their new mission have in store, especially for the latter…

Chapter Text

What exactly was Declan planning in regards to the Lancers? Why was the Battle Royale rigged to be a test to see who was strong enough to be a Lancer? There was too much confusing yet frustrating events going on today that it proved too much for Yuya to handle: the four dimensions, the Void and its Reversed Duelists armed with their Joker monsters, Zuzu getting captured, and now this. It all felt like one huge domino effect, one piece falling down and striking another, causing it to collapse and come into contact with a third and leading into one endlessly repetitive cycle. He needed to know why this was all a selection exam and what the bigger purpose of it was right now.

“Hey, Declan!” Yuya exclaimed. “What’s the deal?! I thought the Battle Royale was the next stage of the championship! And now I found out it was just some sort of lame tryout to become one of your ‘lancers’?! What are you trying to pull?!”

“I am simply trying to save all four worlds, Yuya,” Declan explained. “Once I learned more about the Void and its army of the Reverse, I had no choice but to change oppositions and have the Lancers face off against them rather than Duel Academy. I originally planned on having the best students the Leo Institute had to offer to drive back the enemy, but it was too risky. The Void is far more of a supernatural threat. The slightest misstep would risk losing the strongest Duelists to the enemy. But you and your friends, however, have what it takes to defeat this mysterious enemy.”

“So you used us?!” Yuya asked.

“Can’t argue with that,” Sora remarked. “Guess Glasses McDorkface here got desperate.”

“I simply used the resources available to me,” Declan corrected. “By repulsing those who were Reversed, you proved your strength today. But defending all four worlds is not good enough. We have to take the battle to the Fusion Dimension, which the Void has already claimed. And you and your fellow Lancers will lead the charge!”

“And end up like our friends?!” Yuya angrily asked. “Brainwashed and converted over to their side?! Reed didn’t deserve this! Nobody did! Don’t you see that?! And Zuzu… What about her?!” Tears poured from his eyes. “Dennis said she was captured!”

Well, he wasn’t entirely wrong, but he was half right. Yuya wasn’t given the full information because Dennis was concerned about how devastated the former would be if he found out one way or another. Yuri already knew what happened to his former target, but Sora hasn’t; he gestured his friend to head over to where he was standing so that he could fill him in on this dilemma. He leaned over to his ear and cupped it with his hand, whispering the information of Zuzu’s true fate during the Battle Royale while making sure to keep his voice silent enough for everyone else to not hear him. They were more focused on Yuya and Declan, after all.

Sora was horrified. “You’re kidding,” he whispered.

“I’m afraid so,” Dennis whispered. “If Yuya found out, I’m certain he would be completely devastated. We can’t let him find out no matter what.”

“I… I understand,” Sora whispered.

It was for his emotional safety; with Duel Academy forced to ally themselves with any non-Reversed reinforcements, especially in the Standard Dimension, they needed to make sure Yuya can deliver all the help he can get. Sora has been good friends with him ever since Sylvio’s first defeat, and despite his revelations on the night he dueled against Yuto, he still cares about him. This can be applied similarly to Dennis; although they have known each other for only a day, he could tell there were struggles and inner turmoil within the Pendulum Duelist because of the Void, so he wanted to find ways to guarantee that everything will be alright in the end.

At the same time, Yuto sadly glanced at a sobbing Yuya. He could tell Zuzu meant a whole lot to him and he had shown great respect for her because her fierce determination and desire to protect her friends reminded him of her XYZ counterpart Lulu. If he wants to rescue his maybe-girlfriend, he was going to have to clear his mind, but what can he do to help? His eyes shifted to his right to see Declan, wondering what he has in mind that would make him vent out his emotions.

“You must be Yuto Osaku,” Declan said.

“I am,” Yuto affirmed. “So you must know why Shay and I are here.”

“Your friend explained everything to me,” Declan said. “But what are your connections to Lulu?”

Yuto looked a bit saddened. “She’s my girlfriend,” he explained. “And while I came with Shay to this dimension to keep him in line, I was also driven by my desire to keep her safe.” He clutched his fist and held it close to his heart. “A desire I have had ever since I saw her dueling that fateful day. I witnessed her in a tournament and I was amazed by her duel-”

“Yeah, that’s not what happened,” Shay interrupted.

Yuto flinched a bit. “Shay, not now…” he said.

“Weren’t you the one who said 'wow Shay, your sister looks hot’?” Shay asked.

That made Yuto blush. “All I said was that she has looks!” he exclaimed.

And just like that, Yuto’s other side of his personality has been unveiled… Well, it’s actually more of his real persona. The truth is he had learned to be knightly, noble, and respectful after discovering the Phantom Knights during his first day at his school’s duel club. From that moment on, he had evolved from a quiet, lonely, and introverted wallflower with Dark Rebellion XYZ Dragon as his only friend into what he was today. However, where did his dorky traits even came from? Was it because of spending his life living with his mother? Was it the result of witnessing love at first sight that would soon become true love? Regardless, Yuto was quite embarrassed about Shay spilling the beans of how he met Lulu.

Soon Yuto was able to regain his composure. “So you really think you can help us?” he asked Declan.

“I am not forcing you to make a choice,” Declan said. “But I don’t think you or Shay can defeat the Reverse by yourselves, especially with the few number of resources your Resistance has.”

“Alright,” Yuto decided. “I wasn’t originally in this tournament, but if it’s the only way to defeat this new enemy, count me in.”

“I’ll join too,” Julia said as she stepped forward. She held onto Zuzu’s hair clips. “I witnessed what the Reverse did to my friends. I can’t let anyone else suffer that same fate.”

“What about you, Yuri?” Sora asked. “Up for becoming a Lancer?”

“No,” Yuri bluntly said. He looked over at Declan. “I refuse to be labeled as part of your little boy band, but I will offer my contributions. Just know this: I am not a good person. I have done rather wicked things in the past, so redemption is out of the question. My only motive is to avenge the Professor and the only home I’ve ever known.” He realized what he just said. “Come to think of it, I’ve never thought about that…”

Even though Yuto obliged to join the Lancers, a part of him felt like this was all forced down to the remaining Duelists in general because not everyone was a finalist for the Arc League Championship. Shay was having mixed feelings in regards to the truth of the Battle Royale because he believed he was played right into Declan’s hands yet he has shown to be quite capable of holding off the Reverse. Since Yuri claimed to not be referred to as a Lancer despite his assistance and Julia outright stated she’ll join, some other murmurs within the group were heard. From the sounds of things, it seemed that Dennis, Sora, Moon Shadow, and Sylvio were up for working with Declan to stop the Reverse from spreading across the four dimensions. The other two Duel Academy students figured their friend could use some backup, the Ninja Duelist offered this as an opportunity to search for any more interdimensional allies, and the Abyss Actor user knew his survival immediately made him an easy qualified candidate.

Yuya, however, did not hesitate to voice his differing opinions on the bigger picture. There was something about the way Declan handled with the invaders that rubbed him the wrong way. One may say that he flat out disagreed with them; letting the villains strike and gather any surviving Duelists who have the strength to overcome them? This would increase the chances of more innocent Duelists getting Reversed. If that was the case, then what was the point of being a Lancer when there’s evidently more offensive ways of thwarting them?

“If you don’t want to lose any more friends like Zuzu, then it’s best you join my army of Lancers and take the fight to them,” Declan advised Yuya. “This task will require all of the strength and determination you can muster. You can avenge them. I will provide the opportunity. All you must do is follow my lead and trust me.”

“You’re asking me to trust you?!” Yuya angrily asked, his fists clenched tightly. “After all your lies?! I don’t care about your battle! All I want are my friends back and this stupid demon inside me to leave!”

“But Yuya-” Declan started to say.

“SHUT UP!” Yuya roared. In a fit of rage, he raised his clenched fist up and threw it into the air, hurling it towards Declan; however, the latter didn’t block it. The built-up anger Yuya was storing caught him off guard and he landed a successful punch to the face. The blow was powerful enough to knock his glasses off and onto the highway, but they weren’t damaged in the slightest. Audible gasps followed the punch and dumbfounded expressions were the only nonverbal responses for the Lancers because none of them expected Yuya to resort to violence like that. Even Declan was left fazed from the attack and had taken a few steps back to try and maintain his balance the moment he felt the fist collide with his cheek.

“A Duelist settles his issues with a duel, not his fists,” Declan said as he put his glasses back on.

“Alright then!” Yuya exclaimed as he thrusted his right fist forward. “If that’s how you want it, I’ll duel you! For dragging us all into this fight!”

“Very well then,” Declan accepted. “If you should defeat me, I will accept any punishment you see fit for my misdeeds.”

Meanwhile, somewhere within Paradise City, a car was seen driving down the streets, slightly going over the speed limit as it went past the other drivers. Inside, a worried Henrietta wanted to make sure her family was going to stay safe during the sudden change of events, especially her adopted son Riley, who had recently became the winner of the Arc League Championship’s Youth Division. Originally, he was meant to join Declan and the Lancers to take on Duel Academy, but it now looked like it was going to be unlikely, much to Henrietta’s guilt. He became such a powerful and talented Duelist at such a young age thanks to Declan, but that only resulted from the tests she subjected him to in order to mold him into a mindless puppet for the Interdimensional War. Knowing that everything they worked so hard for was basically all for nothing made her realize what she had done; fortunately, their nonexistent relationship was ending today and she is going to do this the best way possible: keeping as many citizens out of danger.

Once she was finally out of the traffic, she made a beeline towards her destination, which only lasted for a few more minutes before stopping in front of a building. As she put the car into park, Riley glanced to his right with his favorite teddy bear in his hands, wondering where she had brought him. He read a sign that said “You Show Duel School” above the entrance. There was something about the name of this place that sounded so familiar; has he heard of it before?

“Forgive me for doing this, Riley,” Henrietta said. “Declan has asked me to drop you off here for now. You must stay at this location and protect every Duelist in this dimension from the alien virus known as Link Joker. You should be able to identify the enemy by the red markings on their faces.”

Alien virus? Red markings? A worried expression formed on Riley’s face as he hugged his stuffed bear named Barry because he knew this predicament did not sounded good at all. How will he be able to protect everyone in the Standard Dimension from this Link Joker virus? It is true he is capable of fending for himself and will be a reliable person to hold the enemy back, but how will he do all that when he is assigned to remain at a duel school? As they both got out of the car, Henrietta escorted him into You Show, hoping there would be adult supervision inside to help keep the students there as calm as possible while ensuring everyone’s safety, including Riley’s as he uses his strength to free the Reversed Duelists.

However, Riley noticed no one was here. “Yes, I’m aware that everyone is still at the Center Duel Field,” Henrietta said. “But who knows if there are any remaining Reversed Duelists in this dimension. You have to protect this area with your very life. Is that clear?”

Riley gasped, but he slowly nodded in response. “Good,” Henrietta said. “Now I must contact Skip Boyle immediately to inform him about you.”

Back with the group, Yuya and Declan were getting ready to face off each other in their rematch. An Action Field was already selected, but it was something far different than what it was initially going to be. The ARC System throughout the city started to activate once again as beams of light were shot out and they materialized into a field that no one has never seen before. They appeared to be in a mountainous terrain and the sky has a few planets within close proximity of the surface but not dangerously close; however, it was somewhat difficult to determine if they were actually planets because there was thick dark purple and black clouds covering most of the sky. Declan explained that this Action Field depicts an earth-like planet where half of its surface has been coated with ominous clouds because of an evil force that has been attacking it. He figured it would be a much better Action Field to use than reusing Neo Heartland City from Shay’s first duel against Sora, especially with the sudden change in enemies, but Yuya didn’t care. Action Field selections were not that important to him right now; all he wants to do his get his point across about the whole Lancer ordeal.

Their Duel Disk screens flashed the words “Duel Mode” and almost instantly switched to “Standby” as their Main and Extra Deck compartments popped out. Their two blades materialized in front of their Duel Disks: one that was yellow and set at an obtuse angle and one that was red and completely straight. Declan snapped his fingers and Action Cards scattered all across the field. With their Life Points risen up to 4000, the two shouted, “Let’s duel!” to signal the initiation of their first rematch.

“I’ll use Scale 4 Performapal Trump Witch and Scale 8 Xiangsheng Magician to set the Pendulum Scale!” Yuya announced, starting off the duel. “I’m taking control of this duel starting now!”

He placed Trump Witch and Xiangsheng Magician on the opposite ends of his Duel Disk blade and the word “PENDULUM” flashed across one letter at a time in a rainbow of colors. The two Pendulum monsters ascended upwards in two pillars of light before coming to a stop, leading to the numbers 4 and 8 fading in below them and a larger version of Yuya’s pendulum emerging in between them.

“Swing far, pendulum!” Yuya chanted. “Carve the arc of victory! My monsters are ready…to SWING INTO ACTIOOOOOON!”

Having the capability of simultaneously summoning his monsters between Levels 5 and 7, a portal opened up in the middle of where the light pillars were. Two streaks of aura trailed out of the portal and onto the field, revealing themselves to be Stargazer Magician and Performapal Splashmammoth, who were both summoned in defense position. Yuya decided to end his turn right there; no face-downs, no monster or Pendulum effect activations, no nothing. Just two monsters set for defense. He then passed the next turn to Declan, who drew a card from his deck and saw that it was D/D Berformet.

“Using the special ability of my D/D Swirl Slime, I will fuse it with my D/D Berformet,” Declan announced, sending those two card to his Graveyard. “Your powers have grown to be quite impressive, but as you will see, I am more than capable of warding off any threat you send my way, Yuya. I Fusion Summon D/D/D Flame King Genghis!”

As he spoke, his two monsters became coated in red and light blue and the colored gleams swirled around together in overlapping spirals in the same manner to what the image was presenting in a traditional Polymerization card. A yellow glare shone from the spirals, leading to the arrival of D/D/D Flame King Genghis as he flew out and landed on the duel field. It has clearly been a while since Declan last duel someone and he knew for a fact that Yuya remembers this monster. Naturally, his turn was only just beginning.

“This is startin’ to heat up!” Gong remarked. “If this is anything like their last duel, we’re in for quite a show.”

“So they faced off before?” Dennis asked. “Who won the duel?”

“We never got to find out on account of Declan runnin’ out,” Gong admitted. “But Gong’s not sure Yuya woulda won.”

“I think I’ll add a little variety to the field by summoning D/D Nighthowl!” Declan continued, summoning the card from his hand.

“Whoa, that’s a Tuner monster?” Dennis asked.

“That’s right,” Gong answered. “Declan’s mastered a slew of different summoning methods.”

“Once I’ve successfully summoned Nighthowl, I’m allowed to summon another D/D monster straight from my Graveyard by lowering its attack points to zero!” Declan continued. “I bring back D/D Berformet!”

Right as he was about to finish his declaration, somthing light purple in Nighthowl’s mouth began to brighten. More so, it was also materializing as shown by the jaws twitching a little because of how they were clenched in between it. Finally, Nighthowl spat out the glowing purple substance, revealing it to be the resurrected D/D Berformet but with his ATK lowered to 0 almost instantly. A Level 3 Tuner and a Level 4 non-Tuner. Seeing them made Yuya and Gong know exactly what monster Declan was going to bring out.

“I tune Level 3 D/D Nighthowl with my Level 4 D/D Berformet!” Declan declared. “Observe. Such is the power we shall wield together when we defy the forces of Link Joker! I Synchro Summon D/D/D Gust King Alexander!”

Nighthowl ascended above the field and transformed itself into three aquamarine light orbs, which were converted into three green rings upon converging together. Berformet followed behind as he went into the rings, altering his appearance into a luminescent orangey-yellow outline of itself, fading away to reveal four of the same light orbs that aligned themselves, and reacting with a thick, straight bolt of icy blue lightning as a result of the two monsters tuning with each other. Just then, a pair of red eyes flashed as he manifested himself; he then rotated his whole body around with his light green cape flowing before unleashing his sword. Two down, one more monster to special summon.

“Impressive,” Dennis remarked. “He certainly knows how to keep you on your toes.”

Yuri, on the other hand, let out a huff. “True, but I would appreciate it if he ended his turn some time this century,” he complained.

“When I summon another D/D/D monster, such as Gust King Alexander, Flame King Genghis resurrects a D/D monster from my graveyard,” Declan continued. “Arise once again, D/D Swirl Slime! And as a further twist, D/D/D Gust King Alexander special ability activates! Whenever a D/D monster is summoned, my Gust King can command another D/D monster to rise from the Graveyard as it will now. D/D Berformet, return to the field of battle!

"Berformet’s special ability now activates, doubling the level of my Swirl Slime to 4! And with that, I take my Swirl Slime and Berformet and build the Overlay Network! Prepare to face a trio of sovereign warriors, because there’s a third king on the way! I XYZ Summon D/D/D Wave King Caesar!”

The reborn Swirl Slime and Berformet altered themselves into two shades of purple energy: one bright and one dark respectively. They both swirled once and dashed into an open yellow galaxy-like portal, and upon entering, an icy blue lightning bolt shot down, unveiling D/D/D Wave King Ceasar. His entirety was covered by thick, dark, thunderclouds, but a shine escaped from his aqua green eyes and he slashed the clouds away with his sword before raising it up in the air as if he has the power.

Dennis visibly gulped. “I can’t…believe my eyes…” he said. “Why, this is unprecedented.”

“Sounds like you need to get your nose out of your textbooks, Mr. McField,” Sylvio snidely said. “Everybody at Leo knows Declan Akaba had mastered the big three.”

“So it’s common knowledge?” Dennis asked.

“Well, there’s really nothing common about it, now is there?” Sylvio asked in response.

“You forgot one!” Yuya corrected. “Declan knows how to Pendulum Summon too!”

“Unbelievable!” Dennis exclaimed. “He knows four methods?!”

“And I’m sure he wants to test them all out against the Void!” Yuya said through gritted teeth.

Meanwhile, Yuto glanced at Yuri. “So you’re my Fusion counterpart,” he said.

“I am,” Yuri confirmed. “I never had the time to say this, but…I’m sorry about what had happened to your home.” He paused. “Then again, I don’t think a simple apology will cheer you up, especially with what you went through.”

“I didn’t lose just my home,” Yuto explained. “One of your Obelisk Force buddies tried to kill me.”

Yuri looked surprised to hear that. “So the Professor did let soldiers from Branch OK-BLD join the Invasion…” he muttered.

Yuto overheard that. “What’s OK-BLD?” he asked.

“A branch of Obelisk Force soldiers who were deemed as the most ruthless and bloodthirsty,” Yuri explained. “They kill instead of card people, so the Professor established that special branch to prevent unfortunate mishaps from occurring during the mission.”

“Then so much for that plan,” Yuto said, his fists clenched. “Thanks to that Obelisk Force soldier, my mom is dead. She died protecting me.”

Yuri had a feeling he would hear a reported fatality from Yuto; who on earth would allow the OK-BLD branch to even go out of their way to join the Invasion despite the setup that prevents any murders from taking place? His XYZ counterpart was lucky to have a family, let alone a potential biological one. Then again, he can never recall having a family of his own and the closest thing he got that he considered family was the Professor himself. To him, he acted so much like a father figure, fulfilling his goal to unite the dimensions, honing his dueling skills for battle and important tasks, and teaching him proper etiquette. He had reached a higher position than the Obelisk Force despite being an Obelisk Blue student himself, so seeing the brutally-mauled corpse of the one person that made him who he is today genuinely made him upset.

“I know how you feel,” Yuri admitted. “You might have saw the Professor as an enemy, but to me, he was the closest thing I ever had to a father. After he took me under his wing, he treated me like I was his own son. He raised me, even sharing his best dueling tips with me.”

“So you were pretty upset when you found him dead,” Yuto assumed.

“I was more than upset,” Yuri corrected. He clenched his fists. “He had called me over to his throne room for an important mission. But when I got there..” He let out a sob as he closed his eyes. “That image still scars my mind.”

He can still remember exactly what had happened; a few days ago, during the same night where the two duels involving Yuto, Sora, Yuya, and Yugo arose, Yuri was walking down the tall and grand hallways of Duel Academy. He had heard about how Sora was administered to the infirmary after his forced return, but he chose to wait until his friend was all settled in and the doctors and nurses were done extracting and investigating his memories. Right now, he has to get to the Professor’s throne room to receive his mission and plan it out in order for it to be fulfilled.

“Yuri, I want to speak to you immediately,” Leo had ordered through the Predaplant user’s Duel Disk. “I must entrust you with a very important mission.”

“Of course, Professor,” Yuri replied. “I’m on my way.”

As he proceeded with his pacing, he spotted several students going on with their typical daily schedules. A few were on their way to their different destinations, most likely their dorm rooms, and there were a couple handfuls of groups containing two or more students discussing among one another, probably about Duel Monsters, the Invasion, the Academy’s curriculum, or something. He also couldn’t help but having his eyes catch on what some of the others were doing outside, including two long-haired Slifer Red girls—one with brown hair and one with grayish-blue hair—having a conversation with each other. He directed his eyes back indoors and he couldn’t help but think.

It was so strange to him; even after all these years, everything felt like it never transpired. No matter how many days have passed, it still feels somewhat peculiar. Everyone used to avoid him at all costs due to his immense strength, and now here they all are, minding their own businesses and not ditching him at all. Was it because of his position? Was it an outcome of him getting taught and trained up into who he is now? He thought about it long and hard and soon realized how the students have been avoiding him less and less ever since he met the Professor. It was actually quite interesting. Have the students been not minding his presence or have they acknowledged his placement in the Duel Academy hierarchy? Whatever the reason is, Yuri was sure going to talk to him about it after his mission was done because…well…he had found a place to call home.

Several seconds later, he felt himself getting snapped out of his deep thoughts as his eyes snagged onto someone walking by him. A small gasp slipped out of his mouth when he saw her hair. Her chest-length indigo hair tied into a ponytail with an orange ribbon. Her light blue side tails. What was she doing here? And why was she walking away from where…he was…heading to? No, there was no way. What made Yuri slightly uncomfortable was her odd behavior. Her mouth had formed a grin that was more sinister than her usual one and her upper half of her face was shrouded by the shadow of her bangs, covering her emerald green eyes, but not these red markings on her cheeks. Where did they come from? He knew he had never seen her with them throughout his life. Something wasn’t right around here and the Professor might have the answer to her unusual change in attitude.

Eventually Yuri arrived in the throne room. “Hello Professor,” he said as he entered. “I’m her for-”

He couldn’t finish his sentence. His jaw was left ajar at the sight of something he never thought he would see. The entire throne room was eerily darker than normal save for a dying toxic green color gleaming through a portion of the long rectangular window. It blatantly didn’t lit up the entire room, but it did reveal four transparent tubes, two on each side of the throne, and all of them were destroyed. Over half of each tube had the glass missing, meaning the sharp shards must be scattered within the vicinity. Yuri has never seen these tubes before yet he had a feeling what they were meant for. It wasn’t time for them to be used right now since two of them were held captive in the towers. Now what was the point of using them if they sustained massive damage?

In an abrupt moment, there was a booming echo of the gigantic double doors closing behind him, startling him back to reality again and gradually treaded down the humongous room. Just like earlier, he couldn’t help but analyze his surroundings; almost everything was all scratched up with claw markings, from the pillars to the walls. Parts of the window also endured the same scratches, but they weren’t as bad as the ones on the structure itself. Regardless, he tried piecing together if there was a pattern with the marks. They were all placed randomly throughout the throne room, but whatever this thing was, its claws slowly got redder and redder. How was it possible? What the hell happened here? There was no way this was the work of OK-BLD, so who could have done it? Why was this room feeling like it is longer than usua—


Yuri stopped dead in his tracks and diverged from his third trance when he heard a small sound of what is believed to be a puddle. His head shifted downwards as he lifted his right foot up, distinguishing a dark red color that had now stained the bottom front of his shoe. The same color as some of the scattered scratches. He felt his heart strongly skip a beat as if it was about to burst from his chest. Why was this blotch—no, these small streaks and puddles—spilled all over near the corner located on his right? His mind being lost in the ominous setting that has now plagued the throne room has brought him to where he was. Where was the Professor? Was he alright? Before he knew it, Yuri body was on the move, going a tad slower as he inched closer to the right side of the thickly darkened corner. His conscious wanted to stop, but his worries about him were consuming him, which was unusually unlike him. He needed to know. He had to know.

“Professor…?” Yuri called out, his voice quaking. “Where… Where are you?”

His feet kept creeping towards the densely shadowed corner of the room, wondering if that’s where Leo was. The closer he got, the thinner the shadow became. Within seconds, its blackish-purple haze gradually dissipated to divulge a hand laying down on the floor, covered in blood. The gray boots with light blue and red decals on the front were next to reveal themselves, and based on their positions, this mysterious person was on their right side. Yuri began to feel like he couldn’t take much more of the suspense; he has never felt this uneasy in his entire life…and that was saying something.

Finally choosing not to take much more of this, he squeezed his eyes shut and his feet halted. His slow and now interrupted movements left his body standing not too far but not too close to the corner. He could feel it. He could tell he was no longer striding in his desperate search to find the Professor, but…what was the identity of this figure? He didn’t want to move closer yet he still had to at least know before deducing why the throne room was a complete wreck. His left eyelids loosened their grasps on each other, allowing him to take a peek on what was in front of him. From his point of view, blurred color splotches shaped themselves to purple attire stained in red spots and streaks that the corpse was donning, who was also surrounded in small pools of blood that were streaming down from his open wounds on his torso and…face?!

No! That’s not possible! How can it be?! Stammers and breathless gasps shot out of Yuri’s mouth as he took a few steps back in distraught, not breaking free from a locked stare that felt permanent. His shrunken, dark fuchsia irises met with a pair of lifeless, light gray eyes that belong to a critically scratched-up face that was all too familiar to him. With his legs shaking, his arms vibrating, and his hands twitching, nothing could describe the sheer horror of witnessing the freshly-deceased remains of someone so close to him…other than the built-up shrieks waiting to burst out.


Suddenly, a voice came from Yuri’s Duel Disk. “Yuri, where’s the Professor?!”

But Yuri was too surprised to even speak. “Yuri, come in!” the voice shouted. “We- AH!”

The shout snapped Yuri out of his state and he moved his left arm that has the attached Duel Disk in front of him. He tried responding to the student who was contacting him in order to break the bad news about Leo, but there was nothing but static on the other end. Was there anything wrong with them? Well, one thing’s for sure: “them” could be applied to a group of people, specifically the other students. Yuri had to stop trying to contact the caller because he could hear muffled screaming from outside the throne room. As much as it pains him to leave behind Leo’s corpse, he had to find out what was going on.

He ran straight for the humungous double doors and barged them wide open before running out into the hallway. He scanned the area from left to right to pinpoint the source of the screams, but they were everywhere; where was he supposed to start? In an act of desperation, he went down the same path he took earlier to get to the infirmary. He had let Sora know as fast as possible. As he dashed down the halls, he ran past some windows where the same situation was occurring. He paused his running to see what was unfolding. Countless duels were engaged between the students and the victims of the XYZ Dimension’s Invasion, who were now uncarded. Oddly enough, it seemed as if those who can duel are the only ones remaining; their databanks did list out who was and wasn’t a Duelist. Unfortunately, they weren’t the same prior to them getting carded.

They were coated in a dark red aura, the top half of their faces were shadowed, and their eyes appeared soulless as shown by the lack of highlights and pupils, but what grabbed his attention were the red markings they bore on their cheeks. They all reminded him of the markings he saw on her face as they walked past each other and now they have them on their faces. Much to his fear, they are also spreading like the Bubonic Plague. Everywhere he turned, the dueling students are suffering endless defeats, only for them to awaken with the same marks, eyes, and shadows as the XYZians, who are now aiding them in converting any other students to their side.

Yuri was left aghast at the nightmare he was forced to watch. His home was literally crumbling apart right before his very eyes; he was losing almost everyone he has known over the years and these corrupted fusions of their individual archetypes and the Ancient Gears are destroying the structures down to the last detail. He took a step back in disbelief, wanting this to be all but a bad dream. Just then, his eyes fixated on the two girls from earlier, who were now comforting each other and trying to escape the island. They both stopped running to see a horrified yet perplexed Yuri, hazel and tealish-blue eyes meeting dark fuchsia. Why are the XYZians free and possessing evil powers? Why isn’t Leo here to do anything about it? They had to try and exchange information as quickly as possible before they fall victims themselves.

“What do you mean the Professor is dead?!” the younger of the two girls asked.

“I’m afraid it’s true,” Yuri answered. “And I suspect Celina is to blame. I saw her leave the throne room.” He readied his Duel Disk. “So have either of you seen her?”

“Are you insane?!” the older girl asked. “You have to get out of here! This place isn’t safe anymore!”

“No,” Yuri insisted. “That girl killed the closest thing I had to a father. I must duel her in his honor!”

“I get that you’re angry, but the best thing you could do is go to another dimension,” the older girl suggested. “The Professor’s dream might be dead, but we need to join forces with other Duelists.”

Yuri looked saddened. “That’s easy for you to say,” he admitted. “I did unspeakable things in the XYZ and Synchro Dimensions.”

“Then what else can we do?” the younger girl asked.

The older girl slightly glanced up and instantaneously glued her stare into the dark hallway that was behind Yuri. From within the darkness, two pairs of eyes pierced through and locked onto their next targets. A feeling of dread crept up from her back to her chest, making her heart skip a beat; she wasn’t sure how to react. What should she do? Realizing there may be very little options at this point, she worked up the courage to tell Yuri to look out from behind him. He quickly turned his head around and saw the two eyes, one completely soulless and one beaming right at the three, as well as a few dark rings glowing red adorned on parts of its body. The student declared their attack, causing their monster to lunge at them, but Yuri leapt to his left to easily dodge the intense pounce he would have endured. As for the girls, they barely escaped the damage the monster created because it had crashed through the window yet its large size also took out parts of the wall.

As the rubble pummeled onto the ground, there were subtle traces of smoke lingering, but there was clearly no time to waste. Running out of options, Yuri called out to the girls to get out of the island now. The younger girl was about to ask why, but he cut her off by saying that this wasn’t the best time to think of something to do and the only thing they can do is try to escape. He added that he will meet up with Sora as fast as possible, so once they all manage to find and settle into any safer areas for a little while, they should contact him. Besides, his friend knew of a good place where they could find any potential allies. The brunette girl knew he was right; if they tried to fight back, there was a high probability they will succumb to the dark forces that the XYZ Duelists now possess. With that, the two girls grabbed each other’s hand and began to run to the nearest dock and Yuri continued his venture to the infirmary, all while getting his last few peeks at them as they used their ace monsters to fend their foes off long enough to reach a nearby boat.

It was hard to believe everything that had happened a few days ago has all led up to this, let alone abruptly striking at his home in the first place. Although he was glad there were some survivors of the onslaught, he wasn’t sure if he would say the same thing about his home or Leo. The entire structure was mostly demolished and the Reversed Duelists have now claimed what was left of Duel Academy and most likely the Fusion Dimension as their own. He had already realized that Celina was the one responsible for the Professor’s murder and the violent downfall. Celina! Of all people! Why didn’t he put these pieces together earlier?! If he had intervened her, it would have at least delay the Academy’s destruction, but what could he do to bring Leo back to life?! Nothing! It’s not as easy as wishing him back to life because it’s physically impossible to do so! …And what about the two girls? Yes, they were able to get onto a boat, but were there any safe places left in the Fusion Dimension? A hidden cave? A secret passageway? Anything? Yuri let out a devastating sigh because of the frustration, stress, and even sadness that were building up in him. The invasion of the Reversed has left him with negative emotions that were not like him yet here he was, standing in the Standard Dimension and venting all that has been on his mind lately.

As Yuto and Yuri were having their conversation, Yuya and Declan’s duel continued. “Gust King, focus your fury on Stargazer Magician and blow him off the field!” Declan exclaimed.

Gust King Alexander raised his sword in the air and slashed it down to the ground to create a tornado with earthly rubble swirling around it that was heading straight for Stargazer Magician. The latter tried his hardest to deflect the attack, but since Gust King Alexander had 2500 ATK, it was more than enough strength to destroy the 1200 ATK magician, who was sent flying far away from where Yuya and Declan were dueling and crashed into a mountainous terrain. As his body laid stuck on the damaged elevation, lightning cracked and thunder rumbled from the sky above, which was immediately followed with thick dark purple and black fog surrounding the entire Action Field, including the terrain where the battle-damaged Stargazer Magician was located. Inside the fog, it rapidly enveloped his body in the same two colors before glowing dark purple and dissolving it into the darkness.

“Wave King Caesar will be next to strike,” Declan continued. “Send Splashmammoth into extinction with Tidal Torrent!”

Wave King Ceaser’s eyes flashed light blue and he then raised his weapon to his left before repositioning it to the center while holding it with a firm grasp. With a swift slash down, a huge crevice with rubble-covered waves splashing was forming on the ground that was heading to Performapal Splashmammoth. The waves engulfed the monster underneath the water and sent him into the thickening fog, where the black and dark purple cloud enveloped him and he vanished from the field with a dark purple gleam.

“Yuya, you picked a battle you could never win!” Declan exclaimed. “Now feel the full force of Flame King’s ferocity!”

With his right hand gripping onto his sword, Flame King Genghis lunged forth to where Yuya was standing to unleash his direct attack, much to the latter’s worries. With his defenses down and only two monsters on his Pendulum Zones, there was nothing much he could do for the duration of Declan’s turn. Before he knew it, he could feel the force of Flame King Genghis’ slash impacting him and it sent him flying onto the ground, where his Life Points was cut in half.

“I place one card face down and end my turn,” Declan concluded as Yuya slowly got back on his feet. “Of course I know that nothing I have done so far has been a surprise to you. I know exactly what you’re thinking. That you still have a chance to come back? You’ve learned how to maximize your Pendulum powers. Yuya, I encourage you to use them against me. It’s the only chance you have a winning.”

Yuya gasped for breath as he clutched his chest. “When it comes to dueling, you don’t miss a beat, do you Declan?” he wheezed. “No wonder everyone thinks you’re a genius.” He grasped his arm. “I bet you also knew exactly what would happen in the tournament too, like how many would end up falling victim to the Void. But you did nothing to stop it.”

Declan said nothing as Yuya continued. “I refuse to keep playing the role of your perfect little puppet!” the tomato-haired teen cried out. “You’re not going to be pulling any more strings! Not after I get through with you! Someone has to take you down a notch, Declan! And that someone is me!” He drew a card to start off his turn. “It’s time for this duel to swing my way again, Declan! It’s showtime!”

The Pendulum portal reopened in between Trump Witch and Timegazer Magician along with the large replica of Yuya’s pendant swinging back and forth. Three bright streaks of sky blue, light green, and orange energy trailed out of the portal and onto the field; the Extra Deck compartment opened up, allowing Yuya to grab two Pendulum cards, which happen to be his two monsters that were destroyed by two of Declan’s D/D/D monsters.

“I’m bringing back Stargazer Magician and Performapal Splashmammoth, but I’m not stopping there!” Yuya proclaimed. “Come on out, Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!”

Flashes of red and green shone from the dragon’s heterochromatic eyes and he rose his head up, letting out his signature roar. At that moment, Yuya could feel something emanating from his ace monster; he wasn’t giving off any traces of aura or anything, but he could definitely tell this was not like anything he ever experienced before… Well, other than the Void and the Reverse. But what was it? Was this…happiness? Odd-Eyes was actually happy?

“Odd-Eyes?” Yuya asked. “Are you…happy about this?”

Odd-Eyes roared in response. “Well then, if you say so,” Yuya replied. He continued his turn. “Splashmammoth, it’s time for you to splash onto the scene and add some bubbles to this battle by activating your special ability so I can Fusion Summon without Polymerization! Alright, now I’ll fuse Performapal Splashmammoth with Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon! By fusing the fierceness of my dragon with the ancient might of my mammoth, I’ll create a new, more powerful monster! I Fusion Summon Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!”

A pair of yellow and green eyes along with an orange orb lit up in the black darkness, which faded away to reveal Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. He jerked his head to his left as he spun around once and thrusted his feet onto the ground, unleashing his signature roar upon finishing his arrival after getting Fusion Summoned.

“Rock on!” Gong cheered. “That dragon was so powerful that it even took Gong down in a duel before, so it’s gonna destroy Declan!”

“I activate Stargazer Magician’s special ability!” Yuya continued. “Now I can bring back one of the monsters I used to summon Beast-Eyes! Welcome back, Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon! Now I activate Performapal Trump Witch’s Pendulum ability! Like Splashmammoth, she also lets me Fusion Summon a monster without using Polymerization! She’ll give a little hocus to my Odd-Eyes, and then lend a dash of pocus to my Stargazer Magician! I’m fusing Stargazer Magician and Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon! I Fusion Summon Rune-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!”

A glowing orange ring spun out from a light blue glare that came from the Fusion vortex and it was then binded to a massive dragon, causing the glow to dissipate and reveal a more golden color on the ring. The tail whipped sharply as his body rotated until a close up of his right eye was shown, having a runed plate over it with a transparent Stargazer Magician briefly appearing. Rune-Eyes raised his head up high before lashing it down and getting into attack position, with a flash of green reflecting off his left eye.

Yuya hasn’t used this dragon since his duel against Aura in the qualifying matches for the Arc League Championship. Rune-Eyes is a Level 8 DARK Dragon-Type Fusion monster with 3000 ATK and 2000 DEF who requires a Spellcaster-Type monster and a Pendulum Dragon monster as his Fusion Materials. Based on the original Level of the Spellcaster-Type monster, one of the following effects comes into play regarding how many times he can attack during each Battle Phase: Levels 4 or lower grants a double attack, Levels 5 and 6 guarantees a triple attack, and Levels 7 through 12 permits a quintuple attack.

“Two Fusions in a row? Wow, you really miss Zuzu, don’t you?”

Yuya was surprised by the sudden voice. “Odd-Eyes?” he asked, looking at his Duel Disk.

“Yuya?! How did you hear me?!”

“I was going to ask you the same thing,” Yuya admitted.

“Weird… Guess this is part of the whole 'unite as one’ thing. Somehow we can hear each other’s thoughts.”

So that’s what this was about? Was that why he could feel Double Iris’—er, well…technically Odd-Eyes’—happiness of getting to bring out Beast-Eyes and Rune-Eyes from earlier? Yuya couldn’t believe that they could hear each other’s thoughts and feelings; his ace must have been eager to be part of a double Fusion Summon because he might have had a hunch about wanting to cope with Zuzu’s disappearance…and it seems he was right. Could this be an unexpected gift from the Void? A gift that can be used to his benefits…to understand Odd-Eyes better? But why would the Void leave them this ability when it is in serious progress of Reversing the four dimensions?

“I don’t think the Void’s that generous. It must be because of our special bond.”

“You think so?” Yuya asked.

“I know so. Now let’s show Declan the true magic of Dueltainment!”

“I was thinking the exact same thing,” Yuya agreed. “You’re more than just an ally. You’re my friend. And I wouldn’t have discovered how to bring out the best in you if it hadn’t been for Zuzu.”

“Interesting…” Declan remarked. “Are you talking to yourself, or your dragon?”

Yuya faced towards Declan as he questioned on who the former was talking to. How the heck did he—kind of—knew he was talking to Odd-Eyes? Then again, why does he feel like he might be the only one who now possesses this ability?

“This is a rather unusual event,” Declan continued. “I heard about some Duelists who talk to their cards as a form of pep talk, but it seems as if your card can talk back. I don’t even think I have seen something like that before.”

At that moment, Yuri looked worried. “You feelin’ alright, Yuri?” Sora asked.

“I’m not quite sure…” Yuri admitted. “But it seems I am not the only one who can talk to Duel Spirits.”

Yuya was alarmed to hear that. “Duel Spirits…?”

“Wait, are you talking about that time we stayed at a motel?” Sora asked.

“I am,” Yuri confirmed. “Somehow the spirit of Celina’s Lunalight Cat Dancer came to me for assistance. She wants me to help her free Celina from the Reverse.”

Yuya clenched his fists. “Celina…” he muttered. “She’s the one who started this whole thing, isn’t she?! Why should you help her?!”

“It’s a bit complicated,” Yuri explained. “All I know is that Starving Venom has taken a liking towards her ace and the Void influenced her to destroy my home. And if I can fight my overwhelming urge to seal her up inside a card, I’m certain you can control yourself too!”

“You’re not the one with a demon inside you!” Yuya pointed out as he clutched his chest. “I refuse to get involved in this war, so leave me out of it!”

“Remember: I will only leave you be in you defeat me,” Declan recalled.

“That’s exactly what I’m going to do!” Yuya exclaimed. “Since I used Stargazer Magician to form Rune-Eyes, he can attack three times! Let’s do this, Rune-Eyes! Power up, and take out his kings! Go, Triple Spiral Sky Shot!”

Light blue orbs connected onto the open gaps of Rune-Eyes’ ring, with each orb connecting to one another with beams of electricity to form an equilateral triangle, and let out a ferocious roar once his effect has been all charged up. After Yuya declared his attack, the dragon’s left eye shone a green light and he soared above the field, launching out a wide blue blast out of the ring and aiming at all three of the D/D/D Kings. The first monster to go was Flame King Genghis, which 1000 damage points to Declan. Gust King Alexander followed Genghis and added another 500 damage to the Damage Step upon getting destroyed. Finally, Wave King Ceaser was the last monster to get sent to the Graveyard, dealing 600 more damage to Rune-Eyes’ assault. Despite having his Life Points shot down to 1900, Declan simply stood there, practically unfazed by Yuya destroying his three D/D/D Kings.

“Okay!” Yuya exclaimed. “Go, Beast-Eyes! Blazing Spiral Storm!”

“There’s no way Declan’s packin’ here enough life points to survive a direct attack from ol’ Beast-Eyes!” Gong pointed out. “He’s finished!”

Beast-Eyes was already in the air while Yuya was declaring his second attack, but the moment he finished was when the fireball charging up in the dragon’s mouth had reached full capacity and a flaming dragon head shot out and dashed directly towards Declan, who gasped in shocked at the sight of the attack. An explosion resulted as a result of the fiery head strike and filled a portion of the Action Field on where they were currently standing. Yuya stood parallel to the smoke with a mix of anger and determination on his face, knowing there was no way he could’ve made it out of this; well, he clearly would still be alive, but he basically knew this Duel was definitely in his favor. Suddenly, he could see a silhouette slowly walking from the thick patches of smoke, with a pair of white sneakers revealing themselves from below.

“What gives?!” Gong demanded.

“I kept myself from feeling the burn by activating my Trap card D/D/D Contract Change,” Declan explained, revealing said Trap.

“Huh?!” Yuya muttered.

“By banishing the D/D/D monster in my Graveyard with the most attack points, I took no damages from your Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon!” Declan continued.

Yuya tensed up. “I was so close!”

“That’s not all,” Declan added. “I add a D/D Pendulum monster to my hand that’s Level 4 or below. Your strategy has failed. True your bond with Zuzu may have gotten you this far, but not far enough. A Duelist cannot win on simple raw emotions. But if you believe you shouldn’t get involved in the war against Link Joker, you’re sadly mistaken. I sense great strength within you, Yuya Sakaki. Strength that we need to free all who were Reversed. I know you and your friends have what it takes to go deck-to-deck with them.”

“I already told you, leave me out of this!” Yuya demanded.

“Oh?” Declan questioned. “So you’ll let your dear friend Zuzu fall victim to the Reverse?”

An unanticipated jolt of pain struck Yuya’s heart and triggered a sharp skip in the abnormal slow beating; it was as painful as the Void finding and claiming him as its host, but this wasn’t internally physical pain like he experienced that night. This was raw, sheer emotional pain. The dreaded fear of losing his close girlfriend to the Reverse was a nightmare he couldn’t even fathom, whether it was true or not. In the small crowd, Dennis stood next to Gong with a worried expression as he heard Declan say such antagonizing words to Yuya. He let out a gulp down his throat, making it as quiet as possible because of the thought of the worst case scenario becoming a reality.

“Are you telling me…I can save Zuzu?” Yuya gasped.

“You want to save her?” Declan asked. “Well let’s see if that’s even possible. If you can’t defeat me, how can you expect to save her like this?”