I'm so sorry about this being super late! November totally burned me out with essays, and December was the holiday season. Needless to say, between those, the awesomeness that is Stella Glow, and the addicting application of my tactical mind that is Empire: Total War, I've been a bit busy. Also, God Bless Crow Hogan for his new Assault Blackwings in Yugioh Arc-V. As a Blackwing duelist, I use of them of course! I'm sorry again, but I'm going to try and keep one a month!

Once again, I want to thank Felix and Matt for their help with this!

One week had passed since Yuko's duel with Aurora. Since then, the three had settled into a routine. Rui and Yuko would work the store, and when Aurora wasn't at class she would come in. She would either spend time pecking away at her keyboard, or sometimes covered for Yuko when she was on break. And of course, Yuko and Rui would argue over something, even if it was the most trivial things. Like they were doing at the current moment.

"For the last time Yuko, cream soda does not have any milk in it!"

"Oh really? Then why would they call it cream soda!?"

"Because it was a catchy name, and it looks like cream!"

Aurora cleared her throat, the timid girl catching the other two's attention. "So, again, what do you two want me to get for lunch?"

Yuko instantly perked up, ignoring the argument. "Still a burger and a cream soda for me. No pickles. And I'm sure the grump wants the same as before."

Rui nodded. "You know hamburgers aren't made of ham, right? And yes please Aurora."

Yuko rolled her eyes. "Of course I know. I'm not a child."

"Could've fooled me," Rui said, making Aurora giggle and Yuko give him a death glare.

Aurora, reading the mood, realized he best idea was to get out of there quickly. "Alright, I'll be back soon!" She said, running out.

After Aurora left, there was an air of silence in the room before Rui broke the silence. "You know, you work here. You should be our errand girl."

Yuko gave a coy smile. "Please. Why should I go? My charming personality lights up the place!"

Rui gave her a deadpan look. "Wanna try that again?"

"Nope!" She said, "I'm going to stick with that." The shop fell back into silence before Yuko asked, "So, can you show me a little about mechanics?"

Rui shrugged. "Sure. Why not?" He led her to the back room, where he kept his workbench. "Alright, the first part of finding out what's wrong with a machine is cracking it open without causing any damage. Hand we that wedge." As Yuko handed him the wooden block, he locked a duel disk into a vice. "Now they have a very thin seam, connecting the top to the bottom. You can't fully detach them, but you do need to open it." He lined up the wedge and started hammering at it, until the casing started to break apart. He undid the vice and laid the two halves connected by a plethora of wires out on the workbench. "Now the fun begins."

Before they could talk any more, the door opened. "Oi! I'm looking for a Yamato!" Rui and Yuko walked out to see a young man, about their age, with spiky white hair and a long beige coat. He smiled when he saw him, "There you are! And who's this cutie?" He asked, looking at Yuko. "I'm impressed. Finally got yourself a girlfriend?"

Rui smiled. "I'm glad to see you too. And this is my employee, Yuko. Business relationship only."

He smiled. "So, you're a free agent?"

Yuko took the conversation in stride. "I'm not looking right now. Rui, who the hell is this?"

He raised an eyebrow, "Rui?"

The black-haired boy sighed, "I didn't want to tell her my name. It had to be on the paperwork for her to rent the spare room. Anyway, Yuko, this is Balder. Like the eagle. No, I'm not telling you his real name. I met him way back when Sammy helped me set up prize duels." He turned back to Balder, "So, what brings you back to town? I thought you left to try and head to the pro circuit."

He sighed, "Well, turns out it takes a hell of a lot more than just skill. I couldn't find an agent who I got along well with."

Rui chuckled. "That's not surprising. You never even got along with Sammy when we were her clients."

Yuko sat down behind the counter, resting her chin on her arms. "Alright, I have to hear this. What happened?"

"Well, when she took us on as full-time clients, she demanded forty percent of our winnings. Balder here though that was too much and refused to give her anything."

Yuko looked up, "And then?"

Rui laughed while Balder winced. "She beat it out of him."

"She has a mean right hook. I swear, I can still feel it now."

Yuko sucked in air through her teeth. "Geez. Note to self: never go back on a deal with Sammy."

It was about this time Aurora came back, carrying a bag of food. "Hey Rui, they didn't have mustard for your sandwich so I got may- Oh, hello!" She said, extending her hand, "I'm Aurora."

He shook it, "Balder. How does she know your name?" He asked, the question directed at Rui.

He just shook his head looking down. "Yuko can't keep other people's secrets to save her life."

"One slip of the tongue!" The blonde shot back. "And you never let me forget it!"

He simply ignored her, as Aurora set down the food, getting out everyone's orders. Balder looked her over. "Another employee? You must be raking it in if you have someone to get food for you."

"Nope. Even if we could afford someone like that, I wouldn't hire someone for such a simple job." He said, taking a bite of his sandwich.

Balder grinned. "So she's your girlfriend?" This caused Rui to start choking and Aurora's red to turn a cherry red.

"N-N-Not at all!" Aurora stammered out, as Yuko helped Rui recover. "We're just friends!"

Yuko nodded, "She just hangs out with us a whole bunch!"

He waved away their concerns. "Relax. I'm just teasing. I figured Rui didn't have enough game to take a lady as lovely as you." The comment and the wink he sent her did nothing to help her blush.

Rui had finally recovered enough to talk clearly. "So, are you here for any reason other than to catch up? Maybe to pawn that new gold bracelet?" When Yuko looked back, she saw that he was indeed wearing a golden band on his left wrist.

"Nah. It's fake anyway. Just looks gold. And I came by to see if you still had free space to crash in. but I can see the answer to that. I should leave since you're still open. When you're done for the day though, gimme a call. We should spend some time while I'm in town." And with that, he left.

"He seems… nice." Yuko said after a little bit.

Rui had a small smile on his face. "Please. Don't mince words. He's still a womanizing jackass, like how he was when I met him."

"Really? He was always like that?"

Rui nodded. "Yeah. We were best friends until he moved away almost a year ago. We kind of fell out of contact, but it seems like he hasn't changed much."

Yuko and Aurora exchanged a look. "If you say so." The former replied. "So, can we get back to our mechanics lesson?"

Rui stood up, finishing his lunch and wiping his hands. Sure thing. Aurora, why not come as well?"

She smiled and took a seat, while opening up her laptop. "I'll pass. I have a little research to do for class."

"Suit yourself." He said, leading Yuko back to the opened Duel Disk. "So, the problem with this one is that the system's entirely dead. I've tried giving it a kick start, but nothing. So now I need to find out where the circuit short is."

Yuko instantly stopped him. "The crystal's a bust."

"Eh?" He asked her.

"They crystal that works as a battery. It's a low-grade cut, and has run out of power." She said, pulling it out of the mechanism. "Normally they're brighter and less jagged than this." By this point, Rui was string at her. "What?"

"How on earth did you know any of that? I'm an amateur appraiser, it comes with the territory, but I couldn't tell that was the problem at all!"

Yuko shrugged. "Really? It was as clear as day to me." She held up the crystal, while was a dull white. "If it's carrying any charge, it's a lot brighter, like a lightbulb."

Rui shook his head as disbelief. "And yet you don't know what you want to do, and you have the skills of a seasoned gemologist. Someday, you're going to tell me what your deal is."

As he went rummaging through a box of parts, looking for a good crystal, Yuko repeated. "I told you, someday I will.'

Rui was about to say something, but was cut off by his phone going off. He picked it up, seeing a text. "It's Sammy. She heard Balder's in town, so she wanted us three to get together tonight to hang out."

Yuko smiled. "Aww, that'll be nice. You guys do have a lot of catching up to do."

Rui nodded, quickly punching in a reply to Sammy. "Do you have any issues locking up?"

"Nope. And if I need it, I have Aurora to help me! Besides, I've seen you do it dozens of times! Trust me."

He shook his head as he ushered her back to the front counter. "Famous last words."

[Page break]

Rui stood around as he checked his phone. They were both running late. Sammy was always running late, because when you're working as a manager for duelists, your work hours always vary. Balder was likely still getting a feel for the city. A lot can change in a year.

The first to arrive was Sammy. She was clearly out of breath from running. "Sorry I'm late!" She gasped out, "Last time…. I work with… a stall duelist. If I have to see another Swift Scarecrow, I swear I'm going to lose it."

"Good to see you two Sammy." He said, as she wiped her brow and straightened her hair to make it look like she wasn't just running. "So, do you know where he is?"

Sammy nodded, "Yep. He'll be here soon. But you were here earlier than I expected. Are you really comfortable leaving Yuko alone at the shop?"

Rui shrugged. "I made her swear not to try and do anything besides run the front desk, take commissions, and close up. She can handle that."

She nodded, "You don't need a person to do that."

"Hey, she cleaned the place up, and keeps it clean, so I need her to do something." He spied a head of white hair coming toward them. "Oh, and here he is."

Sammy turned around and waved to Balder. "Hey there!" She called, before looking him over. "No bruises. I'm surprised."

He chuckled at that, "Well, when people try to strong-arm you, they don't mean that literally."

She smirked. "Hey, when you deal under the table sometimes, you have to be able to back it up. I'm not afraid to bust a few heads."

"Your deck's no slouch either." Rui added. "I'm surprised you didn't make a gambit at going pro."

She waved off his comment with a smile. "Nah. I'm doing fine doing what I do. Besides, while I'm good, I'm not that good." Her eyes drifted to Balder, "In fact, if your deck really up to scratch?"

He turned to her, looking hurt, "Of course it is! I don't lose. I almost never lost when you managed me. That's why you sucker-punched me way back then."

"Will you please let that go!?" She cried, before noticing something. "Hey, that's a nice bangle. Where'd you get it?"

Balder looked at the bangle on his wrist. "Oh, this? It's supposed to grant wishes or some junk like that. It was free, so I figured why not. I could have hawked it, but it's not worth a whole lot."

Sammy raised an eyebrow, "So still no one sponsoring you?"

Balder nodded, "Actually, my last few duels were kind of a blur. That's part of why I came back. You both know my style almost as well as I do."

"So you want us to duel you?" Rui asked.

"One of you. I have no doubt that I could handle both of you, but I need someone to observe who isn't caught up in the rush."

Sammy immediately stepped back. "Have fun Rui."

He shrugged, "Alright, then let's get it started."

Sammy sat on a bench near the middle on where they were going at it. "Alright, I'll keep track of how you're dueling and let you know if something seems off."

"Let's duel!"

[Rui: 4000 LP, 5 cards in hands]
[Balder: 4000 LP, 5 cards in hand]

"I'll go first!" Balder called. "I'll start by summoning Blackwing – Shura the Blue Flame! (1800 ATK)" He then played a second cards, "Since I have a Blackwing on the field, I can special summon Blackwing – Bora the Spear to the field. (1700 ATK)" Both birds burst out to stand in front of Balder. "And that's all I'll do to start."

Rui he looked over his hand. "Alright, I'll start by playing the continuous spell Black Whirlwind! Now, when I Normal Summon a Blackwing, I can add one with less attack from my deck to my hand. Next I'll summon BB Magician's Wing! (1600 ATK)" A humanoid bird appeared, differing from the others since while the wing-bones and body matched the other Blackwings, though the wing feathers were all bright red. "Next, I'll activate Ostrich Catherine's effect, and special summon her! (1300 ATK). And I'll activate the spell Allure of Darkness. I draw two cards, and then banish a DARK monster from my hand. If I can't draw one, I discard my entire hand." He drew the two cards and banished one. "Since I control two Blackwings, when I drew this card, I can special summon my BB Dodo Wiseman! (1500 ATK)."

Balder chuckled. "Looks like you got a few new tricks. Let me guess, he has an effect?"

Rui nodded. "As long as my Wiseman is face-up on the field, you can't activate Spells from your hand. I'll set a card face-down and end my turn. Oh, and during the End Phase, Magician's Wing deals 200 points of direct damage for each Blackwing monster on the field." The monster in question started firing off feathers which ignited on their way toward Balder.

[Rui: 4000 LP, 2 cards in hand]
[Balder: 3000 LP, 3 cards in hand]

Balder growled, as his eyes flashed. "I special summon Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind (1300 ATK), and now I'm going to tune him with Shura the Blue Flame!" As soon as Gale was summoned, he turned into three green circles while Shura became four stars that went into the centers of the circles. "I Synchro Summon Blackwing Armour Master! (2500 ATK)"

Rui let his trap card rise. "I activate my trap, Icarus Attack! I tribute a Winged Beast to destroy two cards. I offer my Catherine to destroy your two monsters!" Catherine seemed to vanish into the card, where two jets of flame shot out to incinerate his two monsters.

"My turn's not over, and I haven't used my Normal Summon yet!" Balder said, "I summon Blizzard the Far North! (1200 ATK) And I'll use its effect to revive my Shura in Defense mode! Now, once more, Synchro Summon!" The same thing happened, except the level two Blizzard turned into two circles. "I summon Blackwing – Nothung the Starlight! (2400 ATK)."

The new monster was a well-muscled birdman wearing gold wristbands and a belt, a sword held in his hand. Sammy chuckled. "Well, at least you're flexible."

Balder ignored her and went into his monster's effects. "When Nothung is special summoned, you take 800 points of damage and one of your monsters loses 800 Attack and Defense. So I'll cut Magician Wing's attack! (1600 - 800 ATK)" He then looked over the two monsters, "Though since your bird is crippled, I'll free up my Spell cards by destroying your Wiseman!"

Rui covered his face as the force of the attack sent a shockwave out as his life went down. Balder set one card face down and ended his turn. "Don't forget," Rui mentioned, "Magician Wing's effect happens during every End Phase. Meaning you get pelted for another 400 points of damage!"

Rui drew and looked over his options. He only had a monster at half strength, and had very little to go off of. Plus, he had Balder's face-down card to worry about. It could be a bluff, but it might not be. It could be his own Icarus attack, or something else just as dangerous. They were almost equal in life points, but he had to take field advantage to win this duel. And with his Wiseman destroyed, next turn Balder would be able to fire some nasty spells at him.

"I play the spell Dark Eruption! This lets me take a monster with 1500 Attack or less and re-add it to my hand." He picked the monster he wanted, and looked over the three cards he had left. He switched Magician's Wing to Defense mode and set two face-down cards. "I end my turn, meaning Magician's Wing deals 400 points of extra damage!"

[Rui: 2500 LP, 1 card in hand]
[Balder: 2200 LP, 1 card in hand]

The flaming feathers continued to pepper Balder and he became even angrier, growling, though his growling was almost like that of a beast. Sammy cleared her throat and got up to try and stop the duel. "Alright, I think I can see a problem." She said.

"Sit back down, bitch!" Balder snarled, shocking them both.

Sammy recovered first and game him a flat look. "Okay, rude. I'm going to knock some sense into him." She pulled out her own deck before Rui put his arm out to stop her. "Don't bother. I can handle him."

Sammy tried to push past him. "I'll pound some sense into him!"

Rui rolled his eyes. "You'll take a 2000 life interference penalty, and since it's already his turn, you'll be taken out in seconds."

Balder, still acting somewhat feral let out a laugh. "Listen to him. I do need someone to duel after I finish destroying this one."

Rui sighed. "Fine. Let's see what you've got."

Balder drew. "I summon Blackwing – Orishi the Squall! (400 ATK) And thanks to Nothung's effect, your Magician has zero defense points! Now Oroshi, attack!" Rui grimaced as his monster was destroyed. "Now Nothung, go for the direct attack!" The slash knocked Rui flat, as he cried out in pain from the attack. "Now, to finish you off, I'll activate my face-down card, Urgent Tuning! Now I'll tune the Level 6 Nothung the Starlight and the Level 1 Oroshi the Squall to Synchro Summon Assault Blackwing – Chidori the Light Rain! And he gains 300 attack for every Blackwing in my Graveyard (2600 - 4400 ATK). Now finish him off for me!"

Rui was protected from Chidori's slash by a barrier as he raised his trap. "I activate Defense Draw! Not only does it reduce any battle damage to 0, I also get to draw a card from my deck!" Balder snarled but ended his turn as Rui drew to begin his turn. He smirked, having everything he needed in his hand to turn this match around.

"I'll start by summoning the Dodo Wiseman I added back to my hand. But he's not sticking around, since I activate Tribute Doll. I tribute him to Special Summon one Level 7 Monster from my hand. And I'll summon my Blackwing Brawler Chief (2300 ATK)."

Balder laughed. "That's your ace monster!? Oh please. Come at me. Disappoint me to death why don't you?"

Rui rolled his eyes. "Let me finish. I activate Call of the Haunted to revive Magician's Wing!"

"The second you lose, I'm going to shred that nuisance and shove it down your throat!"

Rui had a glint in his eye. "Don't worry, he won't be around for long."

Gathering storm of black feathers

Bestow your golden presence upon the leader

Let all fall before his Requiem!

Contact Fusion Summon!

The two monsters combined and formed a golden figure of slender build and average height. It had a hounded head, and pitch-black wings along its arms. "Say hello to Blackwing Brawler Gang Star! (3100 ATK)"

Sammy stared in shock. "W-When did you learn to Contact Fuse?"

Rui grinned. "You didn't think I didn't have a new trick or two? Just like he has his Assault Blackwing, I added a new monster or two to my deck. And wait until you see his ability." He pointed at Balder's Assault Blackwing. "Attack!"

Balder crossed his arms. "So what? Chidori has more than enough Attack Points, and you have only 100 Life Points left."

Rui sighed, "Good grief. Gang Star's ability negates your ability, and halves your attack points!" Gang Star grabbed the weakened Chidori's sword in its hand and snapped it, before punching the monster into oblivion.

"When Chidori is destroyed, I can summon a Blackwing Synchro Monster from my Graveyard! Come back, Blackwing Armour Master!" At just 400 Life Points, Balder was acting more like a rabid animal than a normal person."

Sammy blinked. "Um, Nothung would have ended this duel instantly. It's like he looked at the attack values and nothing else."

Rui grinned. "Now for my monster's other ability. By paying half my life points, I can banish a Blackwing in my Graveyard and I gain its effect until the end of my turn."

"You don't mean…" Balder snarled.

"I do." Rui said, wincing from the red aura surrounding him before revealing Magician's Wing. "I end my turn." Gang Star's flaming wings made him cry out as he was knocked back, the duel now lost."

[Rui: 50 LP, 0 cards in hand]
[Balder: 0 LP, 1 card in hand]

Rui and Sammy walked over to the unconscious Balder. "Is he alright?" She asked.

Rui knelt down to check his pulse and breathing. "He seems to be okay. Either way, call an ambulance. I'd rather have him wake up in hospital than not at all."

She nodded, and quickly dialed on her cell while Rui looked at his fallen friend. "Damn man, what made you change? Hm?" He noticed the golden bangle was gone, before seeing something shiny in the grass not too far away. "I guess that must be it. That last attack must've knocked it loose?" He decided to stick with his gut and not touch it. After all, the police were going to sweep the area anyway.

Aurora unrolled a sleeping bag on the floor as Yuko finished getting ready for bed. "Thanks again for letting me stay over."

"Oh. It's no problem. Besides, it'll be nice having a sleepover." She walked back into the bedroom seeing aurora looking out the window. "Looking at the stars?"

She had a concerned look on her face. "I was, but… do police cruisers usually come around here? Yuko?"

Yuko was already down the stairs and out of earshot by the time Aurora finished her question.

She burst out the front door as she saw Rui step out of the car. "What did you do?" She asked him, "I'm sorry Officer. How much will he have to post for bail?"

Rui glared at her. "I'm not arrested. There was an unfortunate accident, and after taking the statements of Sammy and me, they offered to give us a lift home, in case anything else happened. Also, that door opened rather quickly. Didn't I ask you to lock up?"

"Urk!" She let her shoulders sag. "I was going to get to it."

Rui turned back to the officer, and shook his hand. "Thanks for the lift."

He tipped his cap. "You're welcome. Hopefully, we don't have to see each other again."

When he drove off, he saw Yuko's curious look. "Again?"

As he ushered her back into the shop he explained, "I told you I've had a few run-ins with the cops. He's one of the ones we're more familiar with."

"How familiar?"

"Can I explain later? It's been a long day, and I'm tired."

"Also try not to step on Aurora. She's got a sleeping bag up there somewhere."

Rui let out a long sigh. He felt like he needed a stiff drink and entertained the idea of asking Yuko where she had come from a few weeks ago, but quickly dismissed the notion. By tomorrow, Balder would wake up, and then he could put his questions to rest.

False Card Corner:

BB Magician's Wing

Level 4, Pyro/Effect, DARK

1600 ATK/800 DEF

During each player's End Phase, your opponent takes 200 Points of damage for each "Blackwing" monster face-up on the field.

BB Dodo Wiseman

Level 4, Winged-Beast/Effect, DARK

1500 ATK/600 DEF

While this card is face-up on the field, your opponent cannot activate Spell Cards from their hand.

Blackwing Brawler Gang Star

Level 9, Winged-Beast/Fusion/Effect, DARK

3100 ATK/1500 DEF

"Blackwing Brawler Chief" + One "Blackwing" monster You can summon this monster by sending the above cards you control from the field to the Graveyard (You do not use Polymerization). Once per turn, target one opponent's monster and negate its effect until the End Phase. When this card declares n attack, the monster being attacked has its attack cut in half. Once per turn, you can banish one Blackwing card from your Hand or Graveyard and pay half your Life Points. If you do, this card gains that monster's effect until the End Phase. At the end of the End Phase, this card goes to the extra deck and its materials are special summoned from the graveyard