Chapter 6: Starless

Riding a D-Wheel is one thing. Screaming down a track on that D-Wheel at speeds in excess of 120 mp/h is another thing. Racing down a track at said speeds while also Dueling is extreme by anyone's standards.

And I take to it like a tiger takes to swimming. It comes to me like it's natural, like I've done it years in advance. Riding down a track, feeling the wind rushing around me - coupled with an honest game. It feels like a drug, and I can't keep my excitement muted about going up against Atlas again.

Normally I'd have no idea why. I lost to him, he pulled a combination out of his ass and crushed me. I should be jealous of him, his dragon should be mine by now - but I'm not. I lost, and I just took it.

Because I think, I can feel it in my heart that that's not why I lost. And for some reason it doesn't feel so bad to lose, not to him. Perhaps it's because I've finally found someone I think is worthy to lose to?

One thing that's been on my mind since the moment I lost to him was destiny. I saw fate unfold itself like a flower right in front of me and hand me the most decisive loss I've ever experienced in my life.

It sparked a thought inside my head. A little hope, you could call it. If you called it that to my face I'd beat you black and blue, but you'd be right.

If Atlas really does have destiny in his corner, if he really is meant to be King - then that means that fate really does exist. There is something or someone making everything happen as it should happen. That means that there's a plan, like a schematic or structure that everything is supposed to follow.

So where do I fit in? What am I destined for? It can't have been coincidence, me being plucked away from my parents and made the adoptive son of the most powerful man in all of Neo Domino. There must have been a reason for it.

I have to be something in this plan. Maybe that's why I'm taking to riding a D-Wheel so easily. Maybe I'm meant to be there, his last obstacle to becoming King. Or maybe this is just chance, maybe this is just a result of the uncaring variables of the universe.

But I have to face him regardless. I need to know if this was meant to happen. I need to know if I'm doing this because I want to or because I have to.

Fuck me, I'm sounding like the dumb literature books we had to read back in Academia. Talking about God or destiny or fate or whatever they decided to fantasize about while high, it's a different thing when you've seen the real thing happen in front of you.

At least Atlas is a more interesting King than that loser Homura ever was. I saw him crush him live on TV, does the former King have anything to his name other than Giant Ushi Oni? Nothing but attack attack attack, not a single plan to his name if he got overwhelmed. Just mindless attacking, just basic strategies a child could use.

Wow, your enemy attacked and you used Mirror Force? How very intelligent of you to use the most basic cards ever created. Atlas creamed him and didn't even break a sweat. Shit, I could've beaten him and become King of Riding Duels. It really puts things into perspective how much time I've been wasting.

But now, now what matters is that I'm about to become a professional D-Wheeler myself. I'm about to become something, I'm going to ride in front of thousands of people and amaze them with my death-defying dueling. One week ago the Bureau publicized the four contestants - one of them being Jay Goodwin, and his opponent being Jin Homura. Heh, I guess destiny really does have a say.

Besides, if Atlas really is destined to reign as King then I'm just going to have him work for it. It's only hours away and I'm antsy as all hell. I'm one of four Duelists from Neo Domino that are drooling to snatch the crown right out of Atlas's hands. That means two others are going to get in my way - two others I have to stomp into the curb to get to Atlas.

Even better, as the one I go up against in the first round happens to be Homura himself, eager to reclaim what was taken from him. If I'm being honest, I did kind of want it to be him. I just imagined myself having been there first and taken the crown from him - and now I want a bit of closure to that line of thought. Could I have been King if I came first?

Could I have been the one to enjoy the high life - however short lived it might have been?

Shit, now I'm starting to feel jealous again. But fuck, whatever I just imagined "the high life" to be, now that I'm thinking about it it probably wouldn't be much different from how life is right now. Actually, I think it would have been exactly the same. It wouldn't surprise me if the old man is breathing down Atlas' neck just as much as he's breathing down mine.

Atlas is a big entertainment act the old man has rolled out, the circus half of bread and circus. And I'm fighting for the shot at becoming the circus jester with a crown on his head. But what does it really mean to be at the top? Fuck whether or not Atlas actually is free to ride as he wants, what matters is if he thinks he is, and if he does what does he feel?

What's it like feeling like you're King?

I have to know. And I have to crush anyone in the way of it.

I don't sleep at all the night leading up to it. I go through my deck endlessly, and it's a strange feeling not being able to change it. I sent in the decklist a week ago, now I can't change anything. The 40 cards I have here plus the few cards in my Extra Deck are the ones I have to make do with. Too late to back out now.

I think I like this feeling. My neck is bared and stuck inside the guillotine, there's no escaping. Live or die, win or lose. I'm gonna go balls-first into the big wide world waiting for me, no point in letting the future get the jump on me if I can jump first.

In the early hours of the morning, before Aya can wake me up - the sun has only just started rising, I put on jeans and button up my green shirt, then tying the Academia jacket around my waist and let it flop around. A pair of solid military boots go on and then I grab my Duel Disk and Deck. It feels like it weighs three times what it normally does.

My helmet goes under my other shoulder and I march out of my room. The silence is deafening as I head down to the garage where Fortunate Son is parked. I stow the Duel Disk in the small storage compartment, put on my helmet and put the key in the ignition. It comes to life with the shrill whirr of the Ener-D reactor inside spooling up, and the engine starts rumbling.

I seat myself and rev the engine, wanting to feel the kind of power this machine has. What starts as a rumble becomes a low roar, going right into my bones every time I rev it up. It feels like nothing else.

And then I let it loose. I come roaring out of the garage and begin blasting down the road leading down to Neo Domino at high speed.

It's an absolutely magical feeling, riding a D-Wheel. In an instant, you realize why it's difficult to explain the moment you feel it. It's not like driving a car, or even riding a normal non-Ener-D-powered motorbike. The experience of it all is more like becoming part of the wind itself rather than pushing your way through it.

Like being the rainfall on a grassy hill, like being the warmth on a sun-kissed plain.

It only gets even better when you start dueling as well. I liked the game before I ever sat myself down on a D-Wheel, but now I'm enraptured by it - you could almost call it addiction, heh.

I'm almost tempted to go speeding on the highways so Security comes after me. Then I could crush one of their officers in a Duel as warm-up for my big match against the former champ.

If it wasn't for the people likely calling for my withdrawal from the tournament for breaking the law, I would do it. If I knew for sure that I could get away with it, I would do it in a heartbeat.

But I can't do that. Instead, I have to settle for Atlas's sloppy seconds. Oh fuck, that Homura son of a bitch. I can't wait to humiliate him and his reckless idiot ass in front of the entire city. His strategy is so infernally simple and boring, a child could work around it.

Perhaps it says something to how everyone else Duels in this city. Good thing I'm here to spice things up. After a long drive down the highway streets I finally make it to the stadium. The sun is finally properly over the horizon as I pull up outside it, bathing the city in a warm orange glow. The eternal glimmer of windows, advertisements and the rest of Neo Domino's nightlife fades away as the sun takes its place.

I force myself to gulp down the desire to throw up the moment I remind myself of Rally. Fuck, of all the damn things to feel guilty about. So Rally's never seen the paradise he's carrying on his shoulders and never will, being condemned to a life living in a polluted, crime-ridden impoverished hellhole.

So what? Tough shit, we all get born with our own problems. My life isn't much easier.

When I see Him leaning up against the side of the entrance gate, I let out a sound similar to a growl. Before He can say anything, I give him a curt "Shut the fuck up."

He raises his hands in a "calm down, I haven't done anything yet" gesture.

"I'm in no mood for a guilt trip. Keep your mouth shut and fuck off."

He says nothing, but he pushes Himself away from the wall he was supporting himself against and starts walking over towards me and the Fortunate Son. I stop paying him any mind and just start going through my deck one last time. Reminding myself of my strategies, my pre-thought combinations and my improvisation tools.

I came here early for one reason; to mark my territory like how an animal pisses up against things to mark it.

When the three other nobodies in my way to Atlas show up, I want to be the very first thing they see. It's a display of dominance, like a lion roaring or a gorilla thumping its chest.

And now I regret it, because it means I'm gonna be here for hours with this son of a bitch as my only company.

But this time, it's different. This time he says nothing. He stands there, watching me in total silence. Why isn't he saying anything, why isn't he giving me another bullshit speech?

It gives me the fucking creeps, I'm honestly relieved when I see another D-Wheel come blasting down the highway towards me.

I recognize it from the hours of archival footage I trawled through in preparation for this moment. It's the D-Wheel of the previous King of Riding Duels, recently deposed.

I'm imagining he had the same idea I did, and I got here first. Hahaha. I guess Jin Homura is fated for second place even like this. Poetic, really.

He comes to a halt and pulls off his helmet, wanting to size me up I assume. I don't let him cow me even in the slightest, I deal with worse on a daily basis from Him, I can handle a soon-to-be washed up nobody.

"I take it you're the Director's kid?" There's a hint of a smirk on his lips. "How much did he pay to get you in the lineup?"

"I dunno. How much do you get in unemployment benefits?"

I think I touched a nerve with that one. I guess his dumbass pride doesn't like being spoken to like this by who in his eyes is nothing but an upstart punk.

No wonder Atlas creamed him and left the bits and pieces on the sidewalk if he's this easy to provoke. I think this entire Duel is comfortably in my hand, now.

"Have you ever been in a professional Riding Duel before?" His retort shuts me up fast.

I'm starting to see approaching traffic. I give him an annoyed 'tch' and start wheeling the Fortunate Son around the back to the contestant's entrance. I can feel his glare bore holes in my back as I leave.


The moment the platform raises up and the four of us are presented in the middle of the Duel Stadium, I instantly understand what Atlas was here for. The stadium is packed chock-full of spectators with nary an empty seat in sight, and the sound of their cheering is incredible.

"Everybody listen!" The emcee calls out in his signature bombastic tone, and I nearly pinch myself. I can't believe I'm really here.

"Today the Director himself has set up something special for us all! Four contestants, the best of the best have gathered here to fight for the right to challenge the King himself!"

The holographic sphere hovering above us showcases our mugshots. I myself am on the lower right, flashing a wide, toothy grin. I was aiming for a confident grin, but in hindsight I look more psychotic than anything else. Facing me is the mugshot of Homura himself, my opponent for today.

Above our two mugshots are an orange-haired guy with a big biker motif, I believe I remember his name being… Mukuro something. I think he's got a flaming skull thing going on with his deck. Across from him is the head of a huge guy with a haircut that reminds me a little of Yusei's, except perhaps less ridiculous. But after seeing a haircut like that, anything black and yellow reminds me of him. Dragan, he's called. Never seen him before, he must be new to this scene.

"And of course, to survey his challengers with his keen eye, the King Himself is here!" Pointing up to the director's lounge, the holographic sphere displays a picture of Atlas himself from up there in the lounge, looking down at us. The crowd goes wild the moment they see him, going from loud to deafening.

He says nothing, and I don't think he needs to. Just his presence here is sending these people into an excited frenzy. Now I understand why the old man wanted him here as King, these people are clamoring for him like subjects cry out for a rightful king. Jealousy and admiration blossoms up in my chest, and I swear we lock eyes for a moment when I look up towards him.

I put on my most confidently-psychotic smile as the platform lowers again and we all four split. First match of the day is me and Homura, and I catch him giving me a glare as he walks off to his own D-Wheel. I have to say, I'm feeling giddy inside as I walk away and give the Fortunate Son one last look-over and put on my helmet.

Huh… here goes nothing.

I slowly wheel it out to my assigned entrance, where I'm kept just out of the track itself outside of the crowd's view. I get on the Fortunate Son and rev the Ener-D engine inside, preparing myself for my assigned dramatic entrance onto the track. I'm out of view, but I can hear the crowd and feel the butterflies in my stomach.

"Our first contestant is a newcomer to the Pro Circuit, an upcoming prodigy! But can he make it all the way to the King?!"

Fortunate Son whines, and I set off.

"Come on out, the fortunate son of Neo Domino! JAY! GOODWIN!"

Fortunate Son leaps out of the entrance and the sound of whining Ener-D and screeching metal makes itself known as we land. I swerve from left to right to maintain control as the shock of the impact makes my momentum work against me for a moment.

This D-Wheel is like my body, and I am its soul. The moment I have control I do a lap around the track and raise my hand in a closed fist to play to the crowd. In hindsight their reaction was probably affected by them correctly assuming that the director gave his son the fourth spot, but at that point I didn't care. They cheered nonetheless, and the butterflies went crazy. I couldn't help but smile.

We come to a stop after the introductory lap, and I take the second-place starting position. Since Homura is the previously reigning champion, it makes sense to pander in that sense.

It's fine with me. I want him to go first.

"And his opponent, the previous reigning king come to retake his crown! But can his saga continue?!"

Here we go.

"Give us your dueling once more! Fallen King! JIN! HOMURA!"

From the opposite entrance, the previous King comes roaring out in all of his thunder. And when the crowd reacts, jealousy comes welling up again. Even if he's a loser, he was still King. His presence still stirs their hearts, even if just a little.

When he zooms past me to do his introductory lap, I can't help but feel angry. I want to humiliate this loser in front of a live audience, I want to show all of Neo Domino what a hack he is. And I want to do it honest, with a Deck I made myself.

He finally comes back around and stops at the pole position. Neither of us say anything, but we lock eyes even for just a second.

We're both putting our pride on the line.

Then, it happens. Speed World is activated, and technicolor dominates the field. Now, my old Field Spell strategy means nothing. Now, all we can use are Speed Spells, forcing us to plan ahead and think on our feet.

The countdown begins. A series of rapid beeps make my heart feel like it's pounding out of my chest.

"Riding Duel…"

Here goes.

"ACCELERATION!"

The siren howls, and the whining of Ener-D motors coupled with the screeching of metal wheels responds as we take off.

"DUEL!"


Loading Duel Format…

Duel Format loaded.

Anime Format (Riding Duel), 4000 Life Points.

JAY: 4000 LP, Hand 5, SC 0

HOMURA: 4000 LP, Hand 5, SC 0


As naturally as I've taken to riding a D-Wheel, Homura has years of experience on me not just in Riding Duels, but he's been King of this Dome for years before Atlas came and threw him out on his ass.

He's faster than me around the corner.

"The former King takes the first move!"

"My move!" Homura pulls a card out of his Deck and adds it to his hand.

"I Normal Summon Jirai Gumo in Attack Position!" There it comes, a favorite card of his - an ancient one at that. A large, fat spider emerges, drooling with hunger as it takes its place alongside its Duelist, making for a rather comical sight as a spider that grotesque flies gracefully through the air.

Jirai Gumo
Lv: 4
ATK: 2200

"Homura is exerting his pressure right out of the gate with huge Attack Points on the field! He's not about to make life easy for the rookie!"

As simple as his strategy is, Homura is smarter than he looks. Jirai Gumo's effect makes it a bad card, since it gives you a 60% chance to halve your Life Points right out of the gate if you make an attack with it. But if he doesn't attack with it, he has a 2200 Attack Point beefgate. A good defense is a strong offense. He's more alike the new King than he thinks.

"I Set three cards face-down!" Three face-down cards materialize in an arrow-head formation around Homura's D-Wheel before vanishing out of existence. That's the lynchpin of Homura's simple but effective strategy. Laying down powerful disruptive Trap Cards to keep you down while his high Attack Point monsters lay the beatdown.

Unluckily for him, I've come prepared against a strategy that brainless.

The crowd is tense as Homura ends his turn. He's erected a strong presence already, one designed to kill me if I'm careless. I'll have him show me the kinks in his armor himself.

"My turn!" A card is swiped off of the top of my Deck and into my hand. Explosive Urchin. Perfect.

"The effect of Speed World activates during every Standby Phase except the first! Both players gain a Speed Counter!"

JAY: 0 - 1 S.C

HOMURA: 0 - 1 S.C

"Speed Counters are what fuel a D-Wheeler's magic! Speed Spells cannot be activated unless the user meets a Speed Counter requirement!"

"I Normal Summon Dark Crusader in Attack Position!" An armored skeleton knight in a flowing red cape carrying a sword that's less of a sword and more of a hunk of raw iron emerges beside me.

Dark Crusader
Lv: 4
ATK: 1600

"Trap Card, open!" Homura immediately declares, as I predicted. "Trap Hole!"

Trap Hole
Normal Trap

"The Fallen King sinks in his teeth! Trap Hole's effect triggers upon the Summon of a Monster with 1000 or more Attack Points, destroying it immediately!"

As quickly as he came, Dark Crusader splinters away into holographic shards of glass, and I let out a snarl of frustration. What's he thinking, playing like that?! He's boring, all he's doing is reacting! There's no intelligence in using a card like that, a KID could do that!

I compose myself. Everything is under control. Next turn, he'll see.

"I place two cards face-down," I declare as two face-down cards materialize on my left and my right before quickly vanishing as they came. My hand is down to three cards now, one of them completely useless to me. "My turn ends."

"It's my turn!" Homura draws again, and my heart skips a beat when I see him hold it for a moment. He's drawn exactly what he wants.

JAY: 1 - 2 S.C

HOMURA: 1 - 2 S.C

"I offer up Jirai Gumo to Tribute Summon Ushi Oni in Attack Position!" My heart half-sinks now, because I know what follows when Jirai Gumo is swallowed up in a sphere of Ener-D to bring forth a furious bull demon genie, raging out of its lamp.

Ushi Oni
Lv: 6
ATK: 2150

"There it is! One of the Fallen King's signature cards, Ushi Oni! Could it be, he's ready to summon his ace monster already?"

"The effect of Giant Ushi Oni in my hand is activated! I can Tribute one Ushi Oni I control to Special Summon it directly from my hand!" The yellow-ish bull demon twists and grows itself into a massive blue-skinned beast, with the lower body of a spider. The demonic creature snarls and growls as it takes its place beside its master - but it's turned backwards, looking straight towards me.

Giant Ushi Oni
Lv: 8
ATK: 2600

"As expected of the man who held the title of King! It's only his second turn, and already his ace monster is on the field! Our new rookie is in dire straits indeed!"

"Battle Phase!" Homura cries out over the whine of his engine, and his Giant Ushi Oni leaps into the air. "Giant Ushi Oni attacks directly!"

The massive spider demon lifts up its arms and slams them into the ground. The track buckles and twists under the force, in holographic display of course - sending a massive shockwave towards me. I instinctively swerve to avoid it, but no such thing is possible and I go into a humiliating spin.

JAY: 4000 - 1400

JAY: 2 - 0 S.C

"The fortunate son took a big hit! And here comes the consequence of taking damage! When you take damage in a Riding Duel, you lose a Speed Counter for every 1000 points of damage taken! That means the rookie is back to zero, and his Speed Spells are on lockdown!"

I finally wrest back control of my D-Wheel, only to see that Homura has completely lapped me with how much speed I lost. The moment he's about to pass me, I can see the dismissive grin on his face.

"Trap Card, open!" I say, pressing a button on the Fortunate Son's display, and my left-most face-down flips up. "Damage Condenser!"

Damage Condenser
Normal Trap

"And the Fortunate Son responds with a Trap Card of his own! Damage Condenser allows him to Special Summon any monster from his deck with Attack Points equal to or lower than his damage taken, at the cost of discarding a card! Giant Ushi Oni dealt a total of 2600 Attack Points with its direct attack, which means the rookie can Special Summon anything up to that number!"

Allowing the emcee to explain everything for me, I wordlessly slide the Shadow Impulse Trap Card from my hand and into my Graveyard. This had better work…

"From my Deck, I Special Summon Ghost Gardna in Defense Position!" Beside me, a winged statue-esque robot angel floats out to my aid and raises its shield-arms up in protection of me. This monster will be the lynchpin of my plan. I just have to hope Homura rises to the bait.

Ghost Gardna
Lv: 4
DEF: 1900

"Idiot!" Homura yells over the whine of our D-Wheels as he himself presses a button on his display. "Continuous Trap Card, open! Spiderweb Castle!"

Spiderweb Castle
Continuous Trap

The emcee goes crazy the moment it activates. "Homura seems to have planned ahead of the rookie's move! Spiderweb Castle is a Continuous Trap that can only be activated in response to your opponent activating a Trap Card! While it's face-up on the field, all of the Fortunate Son's attacking monsters will have their Attack Points halved! And even worse, the Fallen King can at any time send it to the Graveyard to allow his monster to attack his opponent directly!"

"That's right! And even worse - your line of Defense in Ghost Gardna means nothing!" Homura boasts, letting out a short laugh. "Whenever Giant Ushi Oni destroys a monster by battle, it's allowed to attack a second time in a row!"

This son of a bitch. This smug bastard, this ARROGANT LITTLE-

"Face it, rookie! You're too inexperienced to hack it in this-"

Furiously, I tap the activation button to my other Trap Card. "Continuous Trap Card, Open! EXPLOSIVE URCHIN!"

Explosive Urchin
Continuous Trap

The moment where Homura's expression promptly changes to abject surprise is one I still treasure to this day. He doesn't know the card - but when the emcee explains, he will understand.

"And the rookie hits back with his own Trap Card! Explosive Urchin, just like Spiderweb Castle can only be activated when your opponent activates a Trap Card! Now, for the next three turns, if Homura has a Trap Card face-up on his field, Explosive Urchin will shave off 1000 Life Points during every one of the Fortunate Son's Standby Phases! Was this is plan all along?!"

Of course it was! I know every facet of Homura's strategy, every single combination he relies on and prepared accordingly!

I had won before this Duel even began, and he hasn't even realized yet.

Wordlessly, with a scowl on his face, Homura slides a single face-down card to join his one remaining unrevealed Trap Card and the face-up Spiderweb Castle and gives me the turn.

Now, it's all riding on this one draw. Come on, I know you're there, waiting for me…

I yank the card out, and a smile spreads on my face. I knew it'd come through.

JAY: 0 - 1 S.C

HOMURA: 2 - 3 S.C

I yell out "Explosive Urchin!" and from the face-up Trap Card, an explosive mine resembling that of a sea urchin emerges from the card and rockets towards Homura. It flies in front of him and then goes off in a spectacular explosion, and Homura chickens out and starts swerving following the holographic boom.

HOMURA: 4000 - 3000

HOMURA: 3 - 2 S.C

However - regardless of my current situation, going on the offensive now is suicide. One of the face-down cards Homura controls can't not be Mirror Force, and even if I had something with high enough Attack Points to break past Giant Ushi Oni, I'd need double that thanks to Spiderweb Castle's oppressive effect.

Luckily, I plan to win this Duel without a single attack declared, and the Effect Monster I just drew will do it for me.

"I Normal Summon Doomcaliber Knight in Attack Position!" Yet another skeleton-armored knight appears alongside me, except unlike Dark Crusader, Doomcaliber Knight is armed with both a sword and a shield and rides a black horse that whinnies proudly as it takes its place besides my D-Wheel, the horse galloping as fast as it can to keep up.

Doomcaliber Knight
Lv: 4
ATK: 1900

And now comes the moment of truth. This will either win me this Duel, or it will make me lose in disgrace. I declare that I'm placing a face-down card, and I slide my last usable card, Different Dimension Barrier - Lost Force into my middle Spell & Trap Card Zone.

That's the end of my turn.

"It looks like the Fortunate Son is trying to regain his footing with Doomcaliber Knight's oppressive effect! When any monster effect activates, Doomcaliber Knight will Tribute itself to negate and destroy it - it looks like he's staying on the defensive for now!"

Please take the bait, Homura. Be the meathead I know you are and walk right into it.

I feel a stroke of luck, because Homura revs his D-Wheel hard and blasts past me, a scowl on his face. He's angry, he's gonna rise to meet my challenge. Then, he turns back towards me. "You hear me, spoiled punk?!"

Don't get angry, don't get angry, don't let him get to you, don't give up your victory just because you're angry-

"This'll be the last turn of this Duel! You think you're smart enough to beat me? HUH?!"

Homura then speeds off and draws his card.

JAY: 1 - 2 S.C

HOMURA: 2 - 3 S.C

"Face-down Card, Open! Call of the Haunted!" Oh god, no. Do I have enough Life Points, do I have enough-

Call of the Haunted
Continuous Trap

"This is it, everyone! Homura is giving it everything he has! He's putting every bit he has against the newcomer, he's playing for keeps! Call of the Haunted allows him to Special Summon any Monster he wants from his Graveyard, right back onto his field!"

"From the Graveyard, return! Ushi Oni!" The bull-demon-genie returns again, in all of its furious glory.

Ushi Oni
Lv: 6
ATK: 2150

However… Homura doesn't attack immediately. He's hesitating? No… no he's figured something out. Don't tell me that he's-

"Rookie, rookie, a rookie to the last! I see you've made yourself a rookie mistake, one that's about to be your own downfall! You think your Doomcaliber Knight will destroy my Giant Ushi Oni once its effect triggers after destroying your Ghost Gardna, don't you? But you're forgetting that Doomcaliber Knight's effect triggers on the activation of ANY Monster Effect, including your own!

For example… your Ghost Gardna's effect that makes it the attack target of any attack I declare!"

The crowd goes crazy, jeering and screaming.

"The Fallen King is right! If Ghost Gardna's effect activates, Jay Goodwin's entire monster line will self-destruct and leave him wide open! Even with Ghost Gardna's secondary effect of reducing one of Homura's monster's Attack Points by 1000, he still has 3750 Attack Points on his side of the field - and Jay has only 1400 Life Points left! Is this the end already?!"

"Battle Phase! Giant Ushi Oni attacks Doomcaliber Knight!"

As the spider-demon rushes forward towards my knight, Ghost Gardna leaps in front of it and is promptly stabbed in the back by the monster it dove in front of to protect in abject betrayal. The two monsters promptly shatter in a brilliant yellow display… and leaves me wide open, even as Ghost Gardna reappears behind Ushi Oni and restrains it, reducing its Attack Points by 1000.

Ushi Oni
ATK: 2150 - 1150

And now, a replay occurs since one of the monsters involved in an attack left the field, allowing Homura to attack again. Homura grins wide, displayed prominently on the big screen. "SPECTER'S BITE!" He declares as a blast of purple miasma screams away from the spider demon's mouth and streams right towards me.

It's coming for me, it's going to defeat me and end this Duel and my career as a professional D-Wheeler early…

Or at least, if I hadn't been counting exactly on this happening.

"TRAP CARD!" I howl. "DIFFERENT DIMENSION BARRIER - LOST FORCE!"

Different Dimension Barrier - Lost Force
Normal Trap

A hole in reality appears and the screeching sound of a directed blast of power being blocked by reality itself starts echoing through the stadium. A pregnant moment passes, before the emcee realizes what I've done and loses his mind.

"I can't believe it, everyone! Jay Goodwin saw it coming! Different Dimension Barrier - Lost Force can only be activated in a turn where a monster he controlled left the field by any way except battle! It's effect negates an enemy monster's attack… and deals its Attack Points to its controller as damage!"

It happens so suddenly. In one moment the attack is still in the air, the next it changes direction as if it was always going that way and hits Homura hard, sending him spinning out of control.

HOMURA: 3000 - 400

HOMURA: 3 - 1 S.C

The crowd goes insane, cheering louder than ever before.

By the time he regains control, I zoom past him on the Fortunate Son, leering and laughing at him with my psycho-confidence grin, and I savor the look on his face as he realizes exactly what I've done this time.

I've played him - unless he can damage me for 250 on top of the 1150 his weakened Ushi Oni can damage him for, all he can do now is end his turn and allow Explosive Urchin to kill him. He can't even send Spiderweb Castle to the Graveyard to save himself from it - because he still has Call of the Haunted face-up on his side of the field, meaning he'd take the 1000 damage no matter what.

He walked right into my waiting mouth on his own, because he thought he had outsmarted him.

He starts to understand that I had beaten him before the Duel even began.

This rookie punk outsmarted the previous King.

That's gotta sting.

"Go ahead!" I yell at him over the wind. "Give up! I dare you, Homura!" I kick him verbally while he's down as bad as I possibly can. If he never comes back to the Pro Circuit after this, I'd consider it a job well done.

But no, no, he actually ends his turn! And get this, right after he gives me the stink-eye. He's not happy about what I just did.

I rev the Fortunate Son as hard as I can and blast off ahead of him so I can give him the deathblow.

All eyes are on me now.

I give the cameras another big psycho-grin and draw my card in an as extravagant manner as I possibly can.

I follow it up with a gesture with my empty hand, and Homura is given the deathblow by Explosive Urchin.

HOMURA: 400 - 0

JAY GOODWIN WINS!


His D-Wheel erupts in a cloud of smoke and he spins to a stop while I take a victory lap.

Buddy, if only you could experience what it's like riding a D-Wheel while a stadium full of people cry out your name.

It makes a life worth it.

Chapter 6: Starless - END


Author's Note: Doccy has been busy with university applications and making everything work under the extenuating circumstances of the worldwide Covid-19 outbreak, meaning Fortunate Son has been on hold. As the world health crisis abates, expect more updates.