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Chapter 5: Down But Never Out
“I sacrifice my Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon to summon the Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon,” Kaiba shouted. The Ultimate Dragon’s skin cracked, letting out shafts of brilliant white light, and then shattered to reveal a glimmering mechanical Blue-Eyes [3000/2500]. It shrieked for the crowd and hovered in front of Kaiba.
“Isn’t that monster weaker than his Ultimate Dragon?” Tristan asked.
“Yes,” Yugi said, “but it gains more power from the dragons in your Graveyard, doesn’t it.”
“Exactly,” Kaiba said, “and there are ten dragons in my Graveyard, so my Shining Dragon gains 3000 more attack points!” The dragon’s power conduits glowed bluer and its shriek sounded deeper and more powerful as its attack points climbed [Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon: 6000/2500].
“That’s stronger than Yugi’s Magician!” Joey exclaimed.
“Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon,” Kaiba said, “attack with Shining Neutron Blast.”
The Dark Magician cried out and vanished in a flood of brilliant blue energy. Yugi gritted his teeth as the attack spilled over onto him [Y LP: 500]. Then the barrage ended, leaving virtual smoke rising from his clothes. His knees trembled for a second, but he forced himself to remain standing.
“My dragons are superior once again,” Kaiba said.
“Don’t count my monsters out just yet,” Yugi said. “With Excalibur gone, I can draw cards again.” He took a card from his deck and showed it to Kaiba. “I play Pot of Greed to draw two more cards.”
Kaiba merely nodded from behind his monster. Yugi looked at his two new cards and sighed with relief. “I play Monster Reborn,” Yugi said, seriousness again crossing his face, “to bring my Dark Magician back to the field.”
“Again?” Kaiba remarked.
“You evolved your monster into a stronger one,” Yugi said. “Now I will do the same.”
“Is he serious?” Tristan asked. “Can he make his monster stronger than Kaiba’s?”
“Your Dark Magician was a bad choice,” Kaiba said. “If you had revived your Buster Blader, you may have had a stronger monster than my Shining Dragon.”
“I have other ways of doing that,” Yugi said, holding up the other Magic card in his hand. “By playing Emblem of Dragon Destroyer, I can move my Buster Blader back to my hand.”
“To your hand?” Kaiba said. Then his eyes widened in shock. “It couldn’t be. Your facedown card-”
“Is Polymerization,” Yugi finished. The card flipped up and revealed a dark vortex that swallowed up Dark Magician and Buster Blader. Lightning flashed from the vortex, causing the audience to ooh and aah. Finally, out of the swirling black winds stepped a warrior sorcerer clothed in gold-rimmed black armor and wielding a staff capped by a jagged blade.
“My monsters have fused together to form the Dark Paladin [2900/2400],” Yugi said, “and my new monster retains the abilities of my Buster Blader. His attack strength increases for every Dragon that either player has used.”
The Paladin shouted and raised his staff into the air. More streams of energy arose from Kaiba’s Duel Disk and coursed through the blade [Dark Paladin: 8400/2400]. The crowd gasped with amazement, and against his will, Kaiba’s jaw dropped.
“Dark Paladin,” Yugi ordered, “attack Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon.”
Yugi’s monster leapt across the field. The Shining Dragon roared once for help, but there was nothing Kaiba could do. Dark Paladin thrust his staff into the mechanical dragon’s heart and stepped back as it exploded. Kaiba [K LP: 1600] covered his eyes from the blast.
“I must say, Kaiba,” Yugi said, “I’ve been thinking about your deck and I noticed a weakness.”
“What?” Kaiba said with a bit of a growl.
“You rely on your monsters’ high attack strength too much,” Yugi said. “Your method for dealing with a powerful opposing monster is to summon one more powerful. Very few of your cards deal with destroying monsters, and you’ve used most of those already. Faced with my powerful Dark Paladin, what will you do?”
“Don’t underestimate me,” Kaiba said.
I don’t, Yugi thought. “It’s your turn now.”
Kaiba drew a card from his deck and looked at it. His mind raced back over the cards Yugi had used during this duel. Finally, one move came to him.
“I set one card facedown and end my turn,” he said.
“My turn,” Yugi said. He might be bluffing, he thought, trying to read Kaiba’s expression. He looked back with unflinching resolve. Yugi looked down at what he had just drawn. This card won’t help me anyway. He switched the card to his left hand and looked back up.
“Regardless of what your facedown card is,” Yugi said, “I won’t back down. I have no choice but to attack.”
“I know,” Kaiba said.
“Dark Paladin,” Yugi said, “attack Kaiba directly!”
The audience held their breath as the spellcaster drew its staff back and prepared to attack.
“Now you’ve triggered my facedown card,” Kaiba said as an orb covered in mirrors appeared before him. “Magical Trick Mirror copies the effect of one Magic card in your Graveyard.” The mirrors flashed and then revealed copies of Yugi’s Monster Reborn.
“But which monster will he revive?” Tristan asked. “His Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon still isn’t strong enough to survive.”
“Any monster would help defend his Life Points,” Tea commented.
“It’ll probably be Yugi’s Obnoxious Celtic Guardian,” Joey said. “It wouldn’t be destroyed by Dark Paladin’s attack.”
“There’s a better choice,” Kaiba said. From the card’s reflection sprang the Monster Reborn symbol, which coalesced into a glowing white ball that faded to reveal a single gigantic bacterial cell [1000/100].
“Giant Germ,” Yugi said. “Paladin, stop your attack!” Paladin stopped in mid-jump and leapt back to Yugi’s side of the field.
“But that monster’s so weak,” Tea said.
“It has a special ability, remember?” Joey said. “If Yugi were to destroy it, he’d take 500 points of damage.”
“And that’s exactly how many Life Points you have left,” Kaiba said. “So you can’t attack without destroying yourself.”
“I’ll find a way around it,” Yugi said, “and I still have my Dark Paladin.”
“I know,” Kaiba said, drawing a card. Now this Trap card might actually be useful. “I set one card facedown and end my turn.”
Yugi drew his card and smiled. “I play Blood Exchange,” he said. “In return for half of my Life Points [Y LP: 250], I can draw four cards.” He reached his hand to his deck again and took his cards, noting how low his deck was getting. This duel is entering its final phase, he thought.
He added his new cards to the other card in his hand and looked them over. There were several options for him, but one stood out. This will be very risky, Yugi thought, but I can’t underestimate Kaiba.
“Next I’ll play Altar of Restoration,” he announced. “After removing the top two cards of my deck from play, I can move any card in my Graveyard back to my hand.” He took two cards from his deck, glanced at them, and then put them in his pocket as a card slid out of the Graveyard on his Duel Disk. He grabbed this card and immediately placed it in a Magic card slot. “Then I play Dimension Magic. I’m sure you remember what it does.”
Thank you, Dark Paladin, he thought as the chained sarcophagus again appeared on the field. You played your role well. The Paladin stepped inside and out stepped a spellcaster wearing red armor and wielding a sword and shield.
“I’ve sacrificed my Dark Paladin to summon Breaker the Magical Warrior [1600/1000],” Yugi said.
Kaiba laughed. “Not only did you get rid of your strongest monster, but since Breaker was Special Summoned, its ability doesn’t activate. It gains no more attack points and can’t destroy a Magic or Trap card on the field.”
“But Dimension Magic’s effect destroys your Giant Germ,” Yugi replied. Breaker gave a battle yell and swung his sword. An energy arc crossed the field and sliced through Kaiba’s Germ, destroying it. “And since your Germ was destroyed by a Magic effect, its ability doesn’t activate and I receive no damage. Now, Breaker, attack Kaiba directly.”
But Kaiba’s smile hadn’t left his face. “I activate Ultimate Offering,” he said. “For the cost of 500 Life Points, I can summon a monster from my hand. So I pay the Life Points [K LP: 1100] to summon X-Head Cannon.”
A blue and yellow robot with a cannon barrel mounted on each shoulder [1800/1500] sprung up in front of Breaker. “Breaker, return to me,” Yugi called. His monster obeyed and stopped his attack.
“Like I said, Yugi,” Kaiba said, “it was foolish to summon your Breaker that way.”
Yugi ignored the comment. “I set one card facedown and end my turn.”
“My turn,” Kaiba said, drawing a card. His smile grew even broader. “You’re finished. I summon Z-Metal Tank in attack mode.” Beside his X-Head Cannon materialized a flat yellow robot on tank treads [1500/1300]. “And now my two monsters combine together to form the XZ-Tank Cannon!”
A slot opened on Z Tank’s back that was just large enough to fit the bottom of X Cannon’s torso. Electronic circuits were connected and the two monsters meshed to form a single unit [2400/2100]. Yugi tried to keep his determined look in the face of Kaiba’s new monster.
“XZ-Tank Cannon,” Kaiba said, “attack his Breaker now!”
Everyone held their breath as the machine powered up its cannons and fired at Yugi’s monster. Yugi didn’t flinch. All attention was rooted on his facedown card.
The card didn’t move.
The blast reached Breaker and tore it apart before moving on to hit Yugi directly. Erupting smoke hid his face of defeat [Y LP: 0].
The crowd was stunned. Even Kaiba looked like he was having a hard time believing what had just happened.
“Way to go, brother!” Mokuba shouted. This one cry started a flurry of cheers from the surrounding crowd.
“Aw man,” Tristan said.
“You gotta be kidding me,” Joey said. “Did he really-”
“Enough!” someone shouted. Everyone turned to see Yugi amidst the dissipating smoke, still standing and still with a determined expression. “Sorry to break up the party,” he continued, “but I still have one last Trap card to play.”
“You can’t,” Kaiba objected. “You have no more Life Points!”
“Which is exactly the condition needed to activate this card,” Yugi replied. His facedown card swung up to reveal Relay Soul. “Now I can summon one monster from my hand, and I will only lose the game when that monster leaves the field.”
“What?” Kaiba said weakly.
This is my last monster, he thought as he grabbed the last card in his hand. It will not fail me!
to be concluded...
Note: Blood Exchange created by Edo Hrzic.
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