Response to Reviews

Thank you to HunterHQ, Noobmaster, Anonymous, E.T. 2000, Ambiguous, Guest, Unnamed, Unknown, ZarcEternal, Guest, Guest, Donjustica, and Guest for reading Chapter 43 of Obscured Truth.

Greetings, everyone! As always, I hope you're safe and healthy wherever you are. Judging from your reviews, I must have got you all intrigued in what's to come. That being said, I hope you enjoy reading this chapter, as it gives insight on the Gamma branch of the Black Market.

For now, however, let's get to answering reviews:

HunterHQ: Well, Miyu did tell Rachel why she fell in love with Yuhiro. Rachel's parents weren't addressed in the previous chapter because the chapter was focused on her specifically, along with Yuhiro's past. I'll tell you now: All the Lost Incident kids have unique abilities. Examples include Yusaku's Link Sense and Yuhiro and Yukage's Link Triggers. To answer your question on how Greg learned the identities of the Lost Incident children, it's the FBI. They know everything. Your comments on Yukage... I won't answer them because of spoilers. The dragons were in the pendants along with their respective Ignis's. Lastly, because Watchman exiled himself into the network, he's similar to Dr. Kogami for now, where he's detached from the real world and body.

Noobmaster: If Naoki dared to spread a rumor about Yuhiro liking little girls, he would get pummeled big time by Yuhiro. I revealed the names of five Charisma Duelists, and you already know four of them as well, bringing the total to nine. Like I said previously, I'll provide the list once Chapter 45 rolls around. While Yuhiro would have been able to beat the game without Herald's assistance, he employed it to drive the bullies away. Turf Wars, huh? I'll keep that in mind. When I say the Construct's purpose is to unite the Ignis and humans, I meant as in ensure cooperation towards a common goal, which was reaching the Root of all Knowledge. The mechanics to that, though, I'll keep secret for now. And no, Athaliah was not trying to create a new Ignis, but to fulfil Project: Apotheosis's objectives. I'll confirm now: She caught the Mathmech cards when the Ignis and SOL Technologies were not looking. I get your concern on Malf. He may not sound threatening, but wait until you can see what he can do, and you'll be surprised. As for your question on Arc V, what I can tell you is that I determined what characters will be in the story, OCS and Legacy Characters. I have a general idea of the story as well. Regarding when I'll release the story, I'll release it once things settle down, as I don't want to risk burn out. I hope you understand.

Anonymous: Ai was practically running for his life for five years. That paranoia ended up saving his life. Even if Watchman did reach out for help, Ai would just ignore it out of pure fear. Yuhiro pursued the Cyreath cards for three logical reasons, which are stated in Chapter 43. I hope you enjoy this chapter, as like you said, it'll be just like old times for Yuhiro and Emma to work together again.

E.T. 2000: Yes, I used references. To clear your confusion, Malf is an AI. As for his 'birth', it was inspired by two things. One: The way Xenomorphs arrive in the world as Chestbursters from the Alien movies. Two: True Assassin's summoning by using Assassin as a catalyst in Fate/Stay Night: Heaven's Feel. Lastly, for its design, I was inspired by the Majin race from Dragon Ball Z. Hopefully, it clears things up.

Ambiguous: It's the FBI's job to obtain information on various cases, and they have the legal authority to get it. Will Watchman appear this chapter? You'll just have to read on for yourself. I already updated Rosetta's profile a while back. Please refer to Roxy's Reports and read it for yourself. No, Miles won't make the 10th spot. Lastly, no duelists will merge with their duel monsters, nor will their consciousness data be put into cards.

Guest: People in the Black Market are still using the network to conduct business. And yup. Malf's gonna be feasting alright. As for your last question...

Unnamed: Watchman and his group aren't aware of Yukage. Also, if Yukage wanted to end the Hanoi, he would have done it so mercilessly that it would have made the Hanoi look like good people. Why didn't he, though? Because it's a part of his plan. And there are no accidents or mistakes...

Unknown: Read Roxy's Reports 20 to get your answer regarding Speckles. Herald's recreation of the Cyberse World will be far better than Windy's failed attempt at it because he has the core of it to assist him. Will we meet the Overseer? You'll have to read on and see. The 'Woman in the Chair' is a reference to 'Man in the Chair', which is from Spiderman: Homecoming. Lastly, Rosetta won't be in the girl gang with Blue Angel, Ghost Girl, Numera, and SengokuQueen. Speaking of SengokuQueen...

ZarcEternal: Glad you're enjoying Azrael so far, as well as the duel between Hercules and Raguel (who was Agent at the time). I can see what you mean regarding Hercules being similar to his untainted Archer version. To some extent, I can agree with you, as Hercules has traits from both his Archer and Berserker classes.

Guest: Summon chant? Check. Name? Check (love the name Firewall Dragon Arrival by the way. Shows Playmaker and Ai's bond). Attribute? Check. Link Markers? Check. Summoning Requirements? I'll have to change it to "3 or more monsters with 1500 or more ATK that have different attributes" if you don't mind. Effects? I'll have to take a closer look at it and make changes so that its not broken. Overall? Not bad at all.

Guest: No, Azrael and Wraith don't know about Lightning being a traitor yet, and even if they did, they wouldn't kill him because everyone has their uses. No, they weren't present at the time Yusaku and Yuhiro got their decks. Windy's origin is actually not from Den City. And of course the Hanoi would keep an eye on the Lost Incident children. Revolver admitted himself that he kept an eye of them after the Lost Incident during his duel against Windy.

Donjusticia: Didn't realize you were joking there. Sorry about that. I actually have looked at Fate/VRAINS, and I think its alright. Although I am curious as to what the sequel will bring (hopefully Hercules will come either in his Berserker form or Archer form). Malf's design is based off of the Majin race from Dragon Ball Z, only with more menacing features. Hope you enjoy seeing what he's got.

Guest: Of course Naoki's a walking meme. And if anyone made assumptions about Yuhiro liking little girls, he'd get his personal revenge on them.

With reviews answered, its time for the chapter. Enjoy!

Chapter 44: Cage Match

The sky appears, full of clouds. Playmaker races through the clouds on his duel board, followed by Raguel, Soulburner, and then a male individual wearing a black outfit with green accents and a gold, bird-like mask over his eyes. The individual had dark green hair, which was spiked upwards before a medium sized portion of it went over the right side of his mask. Two swords then slice the clouds completely to reveal NEW LINK VRAINS. One of the swords, a katana with symbols inscribed on the blade, crosses downwards to the left. Crossing downwards to the right was a typical western sword, with a golden rain-guard and a blue grip. The sword also had symbols inscribed on the blade as well. The two swords made a shining X, causing the Yu-Gi-Oh VRAINS! logo to appear, and underneath it, the words "OBSCURED TRUTH" ominously appear.

Yuhiro and Yusaku are walking down the street to school. Naoki runs past them, a large smile on his face. Aoi walks past them on the other side, smiling lightly and blushing at Yusaku. Then Takeru walks up behind them and wraps one arm around Yusaku. He then wraps the other arm around Yuhiro, surprising him for a few moments before being pulled to the side by Rachel, who's clearly happy to see him. Yuhiro smiles back at her.

Tsubaki and Hideki are shown boarding an airplane as they head to their destination. After sitting down next to each other in their respective seats, Tsubaki looks out in the window, which shows a reflection of Rosetta, while Hideki picks up the airplane guide and reads it. In the sky above them is Ace, a malicious sneer on his face.

Go Onizuka is shown wearing a hoodie as he leaves the waterfront for the last time. Outside of his home, he encounters Kenmochi and Yoroizaka, who are waiting for him. Smirking, the three of them raise their left arms into the air and enter NEW LINK VRAINS, with Go in his new avatar riding beside his new allies. Stregone crosses his arms as he looks down at them, a look of shock and disappointment on his face.

Kusanagi is then shown with Roxy at a nearby picnic table, both enjoying food and laughter while talking about technology. Flame and Ai are shown arguing in Café Nagi, while Herald ends up getting annoyed with their bickering. As a result, he snaps his fingers, causing Progleo to jump onto the desk and startle Ai and Flame.

At SOL Technologies, Akira Zaizen and Hayami are shown in Queen's office, with Queen handing them a signed order regarding Playmaker and Raguel. A look of hesitation appears on Akira's face, but he hides it just in time.

Azrael and Wraith are then shown with Ace and Athaliah standing behind them, shrouded in shadow along with their ace monsters Zerrziel, Ruler of the Evil Eyed and El Shaddoll Construct. Standing behind Azrael and Wraith though, is a black, bipedal dragon with red sclera, white irises, and black pupils obscured in shadow. The dragon roars before disappearing with Zerrziel and El Shaddoll Construct. Jumping above Azrael and Wraith is Malf, sporting a demonic expression on his face. He then extends his right arm forward towards the screen, darkening it completely.

When the screen becomes clear, Playmaker and Raguel are shown riding their duel boards next to each other, with Cyberse Witch and Cyberse Magician in front of Playmaker, and Cyreath Hercules and Cyreath Medusa in front of Raguel. The two are chased by Blood Shepherd, who directs two copies of Battledrone Sergeant to fire at them. Although the two of them are hit by the explosions the missiles caused, they escape unharmed. Suddenly, a young man wearing an elaborate purplish coat with black inner lining and cuffs intricately decorated by red-coloured motifs, as well as grey shirt with crimson leather pants orders a red-eyed dragon with black skin to fire at them. In response, Playmaker and Raguel are shown swerving left and right to avoid the consecutive blasts. Joining the young man in the hunt is another man, with red hair spiked backwards and dark purple eyes, as well as wearing a stylish white coat with yellow lines and a black shirt underneath it. Draped around his lower body is a white waist cape with yellow lines as well. The man orders a male, humanoid monster wearing several components of futuristic armor pieces to attack Playmaker, but Raguel turns his duel board around and activates a card, causing Hercules to glow a bright light before transforming into a colossal, statue-like man with long, shaggy black hair and elbow protrusions. His eyes glowing red, Hercules charged forward with his axe sword and clashed with the male humanoid.

The screen then shifts to the male individual from the opening's beginning watching the duel between Playmaker and an obscured Bohman, while Raguel duels the spiked red-haired man with a white coat and a white waist cape. Noticing Haru, who's also watching the duel between Playmaker and an obscured Bohman, the individual takes a card and summons a white and black dragon covered in white, blue, and black armor, who roared at the boy. The dragon had neon green crystals attached to her body, which acted like wings that shone with bright light. Haru, in response, takes a card and summons Hydradrive Nagini, who hissed at the dragon in the process.

Blue Angel and Rosetta are shown in NEW LINK VRAINS at a picnic table, laughing and enjoying each other's company. The two of them then turn their heads towards the duels going on in the sky, a look of concern on each of their faces.

Watchman's group is then shown, with Percival standing slightly apart from them as he makes a fist with his left hand. Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty and Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon appear before a massive, red-skinned demonic looking monster with golden elements, several eyeballs embedded on its body and four tentacles with bladed claws rises from behind them.

The Knights of Hanoi are shown summoning their monsters. Motor Worm Spread Queen, Helixx Necro Darwin, and Dark Mummy Surgical Forceps first appear before fading into the background. Next is Dark Magician, Berserker of the Tenyi, and Lucifer, Condemner of the Burning Abyss, with Sunavalon Dryanome behind them. Borreload Savage Dragon then rises from behind the four monsters and roars loudly.

Akira is shown at Green Park with Emma, Gekiryushi, and Aoi, giving them details on finding the Ignis. Emma proceeds to make a flirtatious gesture at Akira, making Gekiryushi facepalm and comment on how flirting can be useful at a time like this. The two women then begin to argue, with Akira and Aoi trying to break up the argument.

Yuhiro and Progleo are shown with Miyu at the Den City Hospital, trying to help her walk. Miyu, who's using the parallel bars, ends up slipping, only for Yuhiro to immediately catch her from behind and help her stand up. Roxy then runs out of nowhere and starts pummeling Yuhiro, causing Miyu to almost fall backwards again to their shock. Catching her this time though is Medusa, who appears behind her and smiles, much to everyone's relief. Miyu smiles back, grateful for Medusa's help. The screen then flips around before showing Yuhiro on his knees, clasping an unconscious Miyu's hand in sadness and rage.

Cyreaths Hercules, Medusa, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus are then shown in the air, with Turboblaze Dragon racing past them. The five of them prepare to attack alongside Turboblaze Dragon, who unleashes his Desolation Flare attack as well.

Raguel and Herald are then shown on top of a tower, facing off against Azrael and Wraith in a duel. Behind Raguel and Herald is Turboblaze Dragon, while behind Azrael and Wraith is the black, bipedal dragon from earlier in the opening. Both dragons roar at each other. Raguel reeves up his sword, while Azrael unsheathes his katana before the two of them and their dragons charge at each other.

Yuhiro, Roxy, Miyu, Kusanagi, Takeru, and Yusaku are all shown sitting outdoors at a picnic table near the Den City Hospital, all of them eating hot dogs, and Takeru, Kusanagi, and Roxy are laughing. Three duel disks are shown on the table, with Flame lecturing Ai while Herald plays a game on Yuhiro's tablet.

Yuhiro, Roxy, and Miyu are sitting down on a bench outside the Den City Hospital, with Medusa standing nearby them and Progleo on Roxy's lap. Miyu proceeds to rest her head on Yuhiro's shoulder, causing him to blush as she smiles. Yuhiro smiles back at her, while Roxy and Medusa both smile at them, happy they're able to find happiness with each other. The scene then switches to NEW LINK VRAINS, with Raguel, Playmaker, and Soulburner standing on a building and looking out into the radiant sky.

In LINK VRAINS, at the Black Market...

Azrael stood on top of a building that overlooked all seven branches of the Black Market. In order for him to advance his plans, he needed an ally that would only obey him and Wraith. As such, the two them agreed to create a 'unique' AI called Malf, who required several things. One: A base, or a body that Malf would adapt upon creation. Since Wraith didn't get the chance to scan Bohman upon invading the Light Ignis's fortress, he and Azrael had to choose Haru's genetic blueprint as the base. Two: Data Material. This was easy to obtain, as every Ignis had data material. By using Wraith's data material, the two of them could ensure that Malf would only obey them. Three: Intelligence. Upon being born, the new AI would have to quickly acquire it in order to assist Azrael and Wraith in the future. That meant the fastest method was to feast on unsuspecting individuals in LINK VRAINS to learn strategies and formulas on how to duel.

The end result over two weeks was turmoil in the Black Market, for all the branches were accusing one another of breaking the treaty. Even though SOL Technologies forbade the public from logging in until the network's newest version was released, there were still those who had to log in due to being involved in the Black Market. This didn't bother Azrael too much, as once the new LINK VRAINS was released, more opportunities would be open to him regarding Malf.

"What are Malf's current stats and whereabouts?" Azrael asked Wraith, who pulled up a screen for him to see.

"Lets see." Wraith looked over the screen that showed Malf. "According to the information on here, Malf's intelligence is greatly increasing. He learns through every duel, and has proficiency with the deck I gave him. What's more, Malf has developed a Skill overtime to quickly finish his opponent off. Apparently, his favorite food is hearts."

Azrael smiled upon hearing the news. "That is good to hear." He didn't expect Malf to grow at this rate, and if he kept at it, then he'll be ready to face against someone who had an Ignis.

"I found this on the Black Market's forum." Wraith said, showing Azrael and changing the subject. "Its an event at the Gamma Branch called Gammadome Rumble, where duelists brave enough would enter and compete for a chance at grand prizes. You could say its like one of those illegal cage fights in the real world."

"I see." Azrael read over the information about Gammadome Rumble. Since people would most likely log in for an attempt at fame and glory, it was the perfect opportunity for Malf to feast. "Is there any important people in the Black Market going to this Gammadome Rumble?"

"Believe it or not, the most important person in the Black Market is going tonight." Wraith answered. "Known as the Overseer, he's in charge of observing all activities on the Black Market. His death during the event will cause an uproar amongst everyone involved."

Azrael nodded, agreeing with Wraith's hypothesis. "The Black Market is at a tipping point between order and chaos. All it needs is one last push, and through Ace, we'll establish our foothold here." He turned around, unsheathing his katana before slicing the air in two, creating a portal large enough to travel through. "Have Malf meet us at these coordinates tonight, for this whole area will soon plunge into civil war."

"Already sent the order." Wraith replied, as the two of them walked through the portal before it closed from behind them.

Meanwhile, in Den City...

Yuhiro whistled to himself as he walked home from Den City High. For the past two weeks, not much had happened aside from the usual everyday activities. This included school, visiting Miyu whenever he could, and manning the counter at Café Matsuo if needed. All in all, with no calls from Watchman or other things that came up, it was quite peaceful for the time being.

That didn't mean it would be peaceful forever, though. Deep down in his mind, Yuhiro knew that the Knights of Hanoi will return, and to make things worse, there were some bad apples in the network as well. Specifically, Ace, Athaliah, and the azure-overcoated man. Unfortunately, neither of them popped up on Roxy's monitoring system, which meant three possible scenarios.

One: There was the possibility they could be moving in the real world. If that were the case, then the news would have provided people with updates on authorities finding Ace and Athaliah. The only problem was that, aside from the news coverage on them breaking out of prison, nothing else was shown. To make matters worse, there was no trace of the azure-overcoated man in the real world, as though he were a ghost.

Two: Ace and Athaliah had friends in high places to help break them out. This was likely, as Ace was the head of the Black Market's Alpha Branch, and he knew how to get people to work for him. However, following Ace's arrest, a new person that Yuhiro wasn't familiar with was put in charge. With Ace and Athaliah now freed, it was expected the latter would help the former regain his coveted spot in the Black Market. The azure-overcoated man could also have allies to help eliminate his traces, thus preventing anyone from detecting him.

Three: While it was highly unlikely, there could be a greater force involved in helping them escape. This brought another question: Why would said greater force assist them in escaping from the prison transport? Did it intend to use them for their nefarious purposes in exchange for promises of power?

Yuhiro sighed to himself. Thinking about these scenarios proved to be quite annoying, as ruminating on the future did nothing but stress him out.

"Worried about something, Yuhiro?" Herald asked, emerging from Yuhiro's duel disk.

"A bit." Yuhiro admitted. "Just regarding the enemies we'll have to face in the future."

"I thought we had a plan in place for that." Herald recalled.

"We do, but its more than that." Yuhiro pointed out. "I'm not sure why, but I feel worried that I won't be strong enough to protect the people I care about. Is that normal?"

Herald thought this over for a minute before deciding on a course of action. "You see that bench over there? Go over and sit on it. Then I'll answer your question." After sitting on the nearby bench and taking a breather, Herald proceeded to continue. "Yuhiro, listen carefully, and listen well. When the Knights of Hanoi attacked the Cyberse World, you want to know what the Black Ignis and I were doing? Helping the Cyberse creatures escape. And since Watchman sealed us in the pendants along with the dragons we created, we couldn't help our fellow Ignis repel the attack. Had it not been for Ai sealing the Cyberse World, all would have been lost. What I'm ultimately saying is this: Its okay to be afraid of being powerless. The thing is..." Herald pointed at Yuhiro. "What are going to do to soothe your worries?"

Yuhiro's eyes widened, as if he understood what Herald was trying to say. "I see what you're saying. Thanks for your wisdom, Herald. I rather appreciate it."

"That's good to hear." Herald replied, as Yuhiro stood up from the bench and resumed walking to Café Matsuo. "Now onto the next topic. Its been about a month and a half since Miyu started her physio. How exactly are you going to tell Aoi about the fact you know her childhood friend, as well as how she was involved in the same incident you, Fujiki, Jin, and Specter were in?"

"Honestly, I'm not sure." Yuhiro responded, sighing to himself. That had been another thing going on. With Miyu making progress by the day, she'll soon be discharged out of the Den City Hospital. Its likely that Roxy will have him help prepare Café Matsuo for when she arrives to officially live there along with them, which included preparing her room. "I'll figure something out, alright? So don't prattle me about it."

"I hope so." Herald said. "Because otherwise, things are going to be uneasy real fast." Yuhiro rolled his eyes at Herald's comment. How exactly would it be uneasy? Aoi knew about the Lost Incident after hearing about it at the mother computer, and had grown after deciding to fight for others rather than simply for her brother's attention. What could happen was that she'd be upset at him and Roxy for not learning about this information earlier. Luckily, Aoi wasn't the person to hold a grudge, and would probably forgive him after hearing his reasons for not telling her.

But that was in the future. He can develop the contingency plan with Roxy when that time comes. After a few more minutes of walking, he eventually reached Café Matsuo, where he found Roxy serving a customer their order.

"Have a great day!" she told them, as the customer walked away with their meal to go. Roxy smiled at Yuhiro as he approached the counter. "Oh, Yuhiro! Didn't see you there! How was school?"

"Same old, same old." Yuhiro answered. "Just enjoying the peace while it lasts."

"Well said." Roxy agreed. "Hey, why don't you come on inside? I got some stuff to show you." After Yuhiro went inside, he followed Roxy to the backroom, where the monitor had a large window that showed the entire network of LINK VRAINS. At the bottom-left were gauges that showed heat levels based on various categories. At the bottom-right was a gauge that measured electromagnetic signals. "Behold, the LVSS System 2.0!"

"LVSS System 2.0?" Yuhiro repeated, looking at the monitor. From what he saw, it was a definite improvement to the LVSS System for various reasons, such as the inclusion of heat and electromagnetic detectors, faster processing speed, and more. "Gotta say its not bad. How long did it take?"

"About two weeks." Roxy answered, sitting down at her spot while Yuhiro did the same. "When Kusanagi told me of how Herald updated Café Nagi's systems to their latest versions, I figured we should implement those upgrades into the LVSS System and prepare for the future. Pretty badass, don't you think?"

Yuhiro was about to speak when Herald beat him to the punch. "If by badass you mean taking my upgrades without asking for my permission, then that's something we can agree on."

"Permission? What on earth do you mean?" Roxy questioned, getting Herald's attention. "Last I checked, you upgraded my equipment some time back without my permission. So I think it makes us even."

"Uh, guys..." Yuhiro said, only to close his mouth as Roxy and Herald started arguing. To his relief, it stopped when someone was calling them.

"We'll continue this convo later..." Roxy told Herald before answering the call. "Hello?"

"Hey there, Roxy!" Emma said, surprising all three of them for a few moments. "How are things?"

"All right these days." Roxy answered. "Though I am curious as to why you're calling us. Could it be that you need our help for something?"

"Yeah, you got me there." Emma admitted, sweat dropping in the process. "I was doing some work on my laptop when my client contacted me about some information I think you might be interested in."

"And what would that be?" Yuhiro asked, getting Emma's attention as she turned to him.

"Apparently, the information is in the same top-secret category as the Lost Incident." Emma told him. "I think its based on a project called Project: VIII or something like that." She soon noticed Yuhiro, Roxy, and Herald's faces pale upon the mentioning of Project: VIII. "You guys look like you've seen ghosts. Have you heard about it or something?"

"We learned more about it two weeks ago from the FBI Commissioner." Yuhiro replied, deciding to omit Greg's name for now. Besides, if Emma learned his real name, she could search and bother him for information. "As for your contact, how did he or she get their hands on it?"

Emma shrugged her shoulders. "Honestly, I don't know. But what I do know is that he's supposed to be at the Gamma Branch tonight, or more specifically, Gammadome Rumble."

"Gamma Branch..." Roxy muttered under her breath. Both she and Yuhiro knew how dangerous Gamma Branch was compared to the other branches. Not only was the leader there merciless, but the missions assigned were very difficult to complete, to the point where vast rewards were offered to those that completed them. Lastly, everyone at the Gamma Branch shared a single belief: Survival of the Fittest. That is why they hosted Gammadome Rumble whenever they could. To attract strong duelists, and ensure that the weak were forbidden from ever approaching their territory again.

"That's why I called you." Emma finished. "I figured that since you want the information as much as I do, we can team up like the old days and get it."

"Hold up a minute." Yuhiro interrupted. "The last time we teamed up, it led to you running off and blowing up Landios Confederation's headquarters. How do I know you're not gonna backstab us again?"

"I appreciate the concern, Yuhiro." Roxy told him. "But if Emma plans on turning over a new leaf following her duel, this is her chance to prove it. Give her a chance for me, okay?"

Yuhiro sighed, knowing it was a genuine request. "Alright. I'll do it for you, Roxy." He turned to Emma. "Okay, Emma. We'll team up. Just tell me the time and place in the network, and I'll be there."

Emma smiled, happy she could work with Yuhiro like in the old days. "Meet me at these coordinates after dinner in LINK VRAINS. See you then!" The window showing her then closed itself as she hung up. Yuhiro's duel disk then glowed, confirming that he got the coordinates.

"Yuhiro. Please be very careful in the Gamma Branch." Roxy told him. "The people there are not like those in the Omega or Alpha Branches. I don't want to lose you to those barbarians."

"Don't worry, Roxy. I'll watch my guard." Yuhiro assured her, who raised an eyebrow in response. "Fine. I will be very careful while I'm in the Gamma Branch." Since Yuhiro resigned from the Black Market, Roxy's caution and worry made sense, as now they were designated as enemies by the Branches.

"Thank you." Roxy said in response, breathing a sigh of relief as she stood up. "Since we have a few hours before you meet Emma in the network, how about you help me man the front?"

Yuhiro also stood up. "Yeah sure. After you." The two of them left Café Matsuo and headed to the front to get some work done.

A few hours later, in LINK VRAINS...

Ghost Girl was near the Gamma Branch's borders, waiting for Raguel to log in to the network. She actually was looking forward to this mission, as it had been a very long time since the two of them worked together towards a common cause. That being said, Ghost Girl was quite curious about the ongoing situation in the Black Market, for it started to fall apart from the inside. If it escalated, then it could result in a turf war between the branches, which may result in her losing valuable clients.

Before she could think of the situation further, Raguel leapt down from his duel board and landed beside her.

"You know its rude to keep a lady waiting, right?" Ghost Girl pointed out to Raguel.

"Hey, I made sure to be here at the coordinates on time." Raguel stated, rolling his eyes. He wore a poncho with a hood to conceal his identity in the network. By doing so, he and Ghost Girl can sneak around the Gamma Branch and eventually ask the boss for the information on Project: VIII. "The faster we get this mission over with, the better."

"Yeah, yeah. Of course. After you." Ghost Girl replied, motioning for Raguel to take the lead, who did just that. She followed after him as the two of them entered the Gamma Branch. As they kept walking, they noticed several people conducting business with one another through the purchase, sale, and exchange of goods and services available at the branch.

Raguel had to admit: Out of all the branches, Gamma Branch had a reason for maintaining its reputation as the most dangerous section of the Black Market. You could look around and see the battle marks from past duels all around the buildings. Heck, there were even skeletons dangling on some of the buildings, as if to warn the people of what they become should their usefulness run out. For some reason, that gave him chills.

"You know, this reminds me of old times." Ghost Girl said, snapping Raguel out of his thoughts. "When we were working together." She turned to him. "Isn't a part of you glad we're doing this?"

"If it means getting the information you speak of, I can tolerate it for a while." Raguel answered, in a no-nonsense attitude.

Ghost Girl let out a sigh, bored by the conversation. "You can be so tense and boring sometimes. You gotta loosen up a bit." She suddenly got an idea, causing Raguel to raise an eyebrow as she pressed a few buttons on her duel disk. Within moments, a small scanning wave fired out towards him, changing his appearance to that of a girl. "My, my, Raguel. You look ravishing. I bet that disguising as a girl will help in our mission, just as it did during the Another incident."

Raguel looked up and down at himself, gritting his teeth. "And I bet it will hurt no less when I clobber you in this form."

"But I thought men weren't allowed to beat up women." Ghost Girl stated, muffling her laughter.

"That's true." Raguel agreed. "But there's other ways to get payback." Seeing that he was serious, Ghost Girl reluctantly sighed.

"Very well," she complied, turning him back to normal. "Perhaps you prefer one of your new companions given that you seem to like them so much." And with the push of a few buttons on her duel disk, Ghost Girl's appearance changed to that of Blue Angel, annoying both Raguel and Roxy in the process. "Oh, this is much better. Costumes a bit much, but I can feel the true blue love surging through my body." She then went in front of Raguel, walking backwards and facing him. "So what do you say? Do you want to have a duel and entertain the-?"

The next thing she knew, Raguel covered her mouth and dragged her to the nearby alleyway.

"Keep that up, and we'll get spotted." Raguel warned Ghost Girl, having noticed two people wearing red jackets and white tights, with the letter 'G' at the middle of their clothing. "Those two over there were guards for the Guzik family, who rule over the Gamma Branch."

"No kidding there." Ghost Girl agreed. "So, what's our plan? Are we going to sneak in, crash the event, and take the information?" Raguel, however, followed after the guards at a safe distance, causing Ghost Girl to follow him. "Hey. What are you doing?"

"I'm going to ask for an audience with Seamus Guzik." Raguel explained, as he continued walking. "In the meanwhile, you scout out the area and find out where the database is."

"And why do you think this is going to work?" Ghost Girl questioned, stopping Raguel from walking. "If it doesn't, there's a very high chance that Seamus will either have you executed or thrown into the Gammadome Rumble for his entertainment." To her surprise, he smirked.

"Don't worry about it." Raguel assured her, taking out what looked like a golden ticket. "I got it under control." Seeing the golden ticket clearly confused her, causing him to continue. "This golden ticket in my hands is known as The Clearance, and its very rare on the Black Market. Monty gave me one of these a while back after completing a dangerous mission for him. As long as its validated by him when I go to talk with Seamus, then I should be fine."

Ghost Girl shrugged her shoulders. "Okay. But if something happens, don't say I didn't warn you." She then ran ahead to the massive dome-like building in front of her before launching a purple duel anchor at the nearby building, allowing her to climb to the top and get the high ground. Raguel, on the other hand, walked on forward to the massive building's gates, intent on completing his plan.

"Are you sure about this?" Herald whispered, appearing in his eye form on the screen of Raguel's duel disk. "Roxy did point out her worries about losing you earlier, and Ghost Girl doesn't seem to agree with your plan."

"I want to get the job done without any violence." Raguel whispered back to Herald. "I'll act as the distraction, while Ghost Girl finds the database's location and retrieves the information on Project: VIII."

"For your sake, I hope this plan of yours works." Herald told him. "Otherwise, either Ghost Girl or Roxy will give you the 'I told you so' speech." Once Raguel reached the entrance to the massive dome-like building, he was stopped by two guards.

"Halt," one of the guards said. "Who may you be?"

"Just a person on the Black Market." Raguel answered, showing the guard the golden ticket. "One that needs to speak with Seamus Guzik, if you know what I mean?" Upon recognizing the item, the guards quickly opened the door, allowing him to pass. Ghost Girl, having seen this, was completely in shock. Those guards were either very dumb, or apparently recognized the power of The Clearance.

"Might as well get a look inside..." Ghost Girl decided, as she released two fireflies from her duel disk that glowed with bright energy. The two fireflies then went over to the guards and landed on their necks, causing them to swat the bugs away due to their annoyance. What they didn't know, however, was that those fireflies had bit them with a toxin that knocked them out. Didn't know it would be this easy, she thought, as she leapt down from the building and quickly hustled inside the massive dome-like building. Once there, Ghost Girl immediately pressed a few buttons, turning her invisible for the time being and following after Raguel.

Meanwhile, Raguel continued to walk to the center of the building, whose interior was castle-like. The entrances of the place was circular, with each one hiding a jail-like gate inside that could be used in case of emergencies. Cameras were positioned at the edges of the walls, keeping an eye on anyone who leaves and enters. Once he got to the largely ornated door, the guards there opened it up, allowing him to continue moving forward to the throne room. There, he found it had a long carpet that rolled up to a section of the floor near the throne. Sitting on the throne was a man in his late thirties with a goatee and purple dreadlocked hair; two strands of it on the sides of his face. The rest were tied into a short ponytail. He wore a red overcoat with the letter 'G' on the left side, along with yellow rims at the sleeves. The man also wore white pants and a handkerchief around his neck.

On the man's right side was a younger man with purple dreadlocked hair. He wore white tights and a red jacket that had the letter 'G' in the center, with a long white sleeve shirt underneath it. The male also sported a bone headband around his forehead. Meanwhile, at the left side of the throne was an adult woman in her early twenties that also had purple dreadlocked hair, only it was short and tied at the back to form a ponytail. She wore a short-sleeved white skirt that was underneath the red , which had the letter 'G' on it. She also wore long, slick boots, along with eye lighter and lipstick as well.

"To think I'd get a visitor just prior to the Gammadome Rumble..." the man on the throne said, now curious as to what Raguel wanted.

"Shall I kick him out?" the younger man asked him, awaiting confirmation from the family head.

"I won't be going anywhere." Raguel boldly told the younger man, surprising everyone there. "Not until Seamus here fulfils my request." He then pulled out the golden ticket, causing the younger man to widen his eyes in shock.

"It's a copy of The Clearance," the adult woman said, recognizing the item in Raguel's hand. Seamus, upon seeing Raguel, merely chuckled.

"Been a while since I seen someone with that amount of swagger in my throne room." Seamus stated. "That being said, I thought you retired a month and a half ago. What exactly brings you here to the Gamma Branch, especially prior to the Gammadome Rumble?"

"The Gamma Branch has information on something called Project: VIII." Raguel explained, getting Seamus' attention. "If you hand it over to me, I'll leave right away." He then handed the younger man the golden ticket, who gave it over to Seamus. "As the boss of the Gamma Branch, you are aware of The Clearance's power in the Black Market, yes?"

"It entitles the user to one request that must be obeyed, as though it were ordered by the Overseer itself." Seamus recalled. "But only if its validated by the person who originally had the ticket." He gave the ticket to the adult woman. "Validate this ticket for me, Jayla."

"Of course, Seamus." Jayla complied, as she went over to the machine nearby and put the ticket in. After a minute or so, she came back and handed him the ticket before whispering in his ear.

"What is she telling you?" Raguel questioned, raising an eyebrow in suspicion.

"She told me that your ticket is no longer valid." Seamus answered, turning to Raguel as a look of surprise was registered on his face. "I'm not sure if you heard the news, but Monty, who previously owned the ticket, is dead. And what does that mean, Luc?"

"It means you can no longer use your ticket." Luc, the younger man, finished for Seamus. The guards stationed at each of the throne room's corners then approached Raguel, each one activating their electrostaffs.

"Damn it..." Raguel muttered, reaching for his sword and analyzing the situation. Electrostaffs were quite pricey on the Black Market, and for Seamus to afford a few for his personal guard meant the Guzik family was quite wealthy. And Monty was dead? How and when did this happen? Who was responsible?

"If its any consolation, you and one other feisty entrant will serve quite nicely as tonight's entertainment." Seamus told Raguel, as he pushed a button on the throne's arm, causing a trapdoor to open underneath him.

"OH CRRRAAAAAPPPP!" Raguel shouted, falling down to the depths below. Unbeknownst to Seamus and the others, Ghost Girl, who was still invisible, had witnessed the entire conversation.

I told him it wouldn't work, she thought, quietly slipping away from the throne room and running in a different direction. Looks like its up to me to save his ass from what comes next.

"Seamus, you do realize Jayla or I could have dealt with Raguel, right?" Luc pointed out to him.

"I know." Seamus admitted. "If the two of you teamed up, then you could give him some trouble. However, I did promise Muziano a strong opponent for tonight, and Raguel has proven himself to be quite strong. Besides, Muziano hasn't lost a duel, and he certainly won't lose this one. Especially with the Overseer attending the match."

Meanwhile, in the arena's waiting room...

"Raguel! Raguel!" Herald said, shaking him awake. When Raguel opened his eyes, he found himself in a cylindrical waiting room, large enough to house a massive group of people.

"Where are we?" Raguel asked, a hand on the back of his head. "And how long have we been kept here?"

"About an hour." Herald answered. "I told you the plan would go awry, and it totally did!"

"Hey, I wasn't aware that Monty had been dead." Raguel countered. "That's why I had Ghost Girl scout out the area as a contingency in case this didn't work. I bet she's working on a plan to bust us out." Herald would have responded had the both of them not heard voices.

"I'm telling you, this is a bad idea," a guard said to a bald man in a business suit wearing shades.

"And I gave my order," the bald man replied. "Cut the cameras and leave the premises. I wish to speak with the challenger alone."

"But sir," the guard pleaded, only for the bald man to give him a sharp glare.

"Do I make myself clear?"

The guard sighed. "Yes sir." Three other guards then arrived inside and shut off the cameras inside the room before exiting the area. Once the bald man ensured that the guards have left the premises for certain, he looked up and down at Raguel before speaking.

"Of all the times for you to come here, this was the worst," the bald man commented.

"You talk as if you know me." Raguel replied. To his surprise, the bald man ripped his face off, causing the avatar to turn to that of SengokuQueen. "SengokuQueen? What the hell are you doing here?"

"An undercover assignment from Akira." SengokuQueen explained. "After the unrest in the Black Market began two weeks ago, he assigned me to investigate. So I infiltrated my way through the Gamma Branch as its Coordinator, or someone who looks out for potential talent that can be used. That explains my story. What's yours?"

"Ghost Girl told me that some important information can be found in the Gamma Branch's database." Raguel began, causing SengokuQueen to roll her eyes and sigh.

"Did she sweet talk you or something to convince you to come along?" SengokuQueen inquired, an eyebrow raised.

"Raguel wasn't sweettalked or anything like that." Herald vouched for him. "We followed her because the information on that database is really important to obtain."

"Thank you, Herald." Raguel said, happy that his friend was vouching for him. "I intended to use The Clearance ticket that Monty gave me to have Seamus lead me to the database, but I recently found out that he's dead."

"Its not just your old boss Monty who died." SengokuQueen corrected him, her arms crossed. "Lately, I heard that many people have been killed in these areas. As a result, the people in the various branches have been accusing one another of killing valued members. Had it not been for the Overseer, it would have escalated into a full-out turf war."

Raguel's eyes widened upon hearing this. A full-out turf war would bring many consequences to the network if it occurred. Such consequences would include possible deaths, the loss of various goods, and damage to the overall network, which would delay the release of the newest version of LINK VRAINS.

"Which brings us to the now." SengokuQueen continued. "Since you were able to free me from the Tower of Hanoi, I'm willing to help you escape from this place." However, Raguel shook his head, making her confused.

"The information here is really important to obtain," he reiterated. "Not just for myself, but for the other Lost Incident victims as well. Combined with what the FBI Commissioner gave me two weeks ago, I can finally understand what preceded the Lost Incident and Project: Apotheosis."

SengokuQueen's mouth opened for a moment, having been caught off guard by this news. She then steeled herself, knowing what to do. "Then I'll create an opening for you," SengokuQueen told him. "After you win against Muziano, the Gammadome Rumble's current champion and a member of the Guzik family, I'll have Seamus send me to speak with you alone. That's when I'll take you to the database."

Raguel nodded, understanding what to do. "Okay. If you see Ghost Girl, make sure you tell her of my current whereabouts."

"If that's what you want." Putting on the mask, which turned her appearance to that of the bald man from before, SengokuQueen turned around and exited the room, locking it in the process.

"Well. All that's left is to wait." Raguel sighed, waiting for what looked like an eternity. Eventually, three guards arrived, motioning for him to follow them.

"You should consider yourself lucky," one of the guards told Raguel. "The Overseer himself is witnessing your match."

"Say, didn't you work on the Black Market's Omega Branch?" another guard asked. "Why did you retire? If you stayed, you wouldn't be in this mess."

"Because I no longer saw the value in working there." Raguel answered the second guard.

"Well, I bet you regret leaving the Black Market now," the third guard stated. "For tonight, you'll be Muziano's feast." Raguel gulped upon hearing that. Soon, he and the guards reached the entrance to what looked like a massive cage. "Here you go. I'd say good luck, but that's bad for show business." The guards then pushed Raguel inside and closed the door behind him, leaving him trapped inside.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" an announcer said, as lights lit up around the cage, showing the audience cheer around it. "Its main event time, and tonight, a retiree from the Omega Branch appears to fight in the Gammadome Rumble!" Immediately, the audience started booing at Raguel, causing him to roll his eyes.

"I'll just be honest when I say that your plan sucked." Roxy commented over the audiences' booing.

"Not helping..." Raguel whispered back into the earpiece.

"And now for our reigning champion!" the announce exclaimed. "Known as the Mad Beast of the Gammadome Rumble, he's defeated every challenger that appeared in his cage. Give it up for Muziano Guzik!" The crowd cheered as a set of large doors opened on the other side of the cage, allowing a large man to walk through the doors and enter the cage. The man had really short purple dreadlocked hair, and baggy white tights. Around his waist was a blue belt with the 'G' symbol in the middle. Like the rest of his family, he wore a red coat, only there was no shirt underneath it. Lastly, around his neck was a bone necklace.

That man must be Muziano, Raguel deduced, as Muziano accepted the crowd's cheers.

"Seamus told me about you just prior to the match." Muziano told him. "He said you were strong. However, no one is stronger than me, and I'll prove that by crushing you to pieces!"

"He's got a massive ego." Herald observed before turning to Raguel. "Since you got us in this mess, its only fair you get us out of it."

"Yeah, yeah. Don't worry. I'll finish him off and get out of this cage." Raguel promised, readying his duel disk as Muziano did the same. He then noticed Ghost Girl in the audience. Either SengokuQueen found Ghost Girl and told her of my location, or she snuck in and deviated from the plan, he thought. Whatever the case, he had two allies that he could count on for the time being.

"Duel!" Raguel and Muziano said at the same time.

Raguel: 4000 LP

Muziano: 4000 LP

"I'm going first." Muziano said, looking at the cards in his hand. "I Set one card face-down. Next, I activate the effect of Unchained Twins – Aruha from my hand. By targeting one card I control and destroying it, I can Special Summon this card from my hand. Come forth, Unchained Twins – Aruha!" As Muziano's Set card turned into particles, a humanoid fiend with long red hair flowing behind him leapt onto his field. All over his body were bronze metal cuffs on his arms, legs, and neck, with pieces of chain at the end of each one. Covering Aruha's face was a bronze metal helmet over his eyes, with screws tightening it onto his face. Lastly, he wore black clothing over his body.

Unchained Twins – Aruha ATK: 1500 DEF: 1500 LV: 3

"At this point, the effect of Escape of the Unchained activates. Since this Set card was destroyed by a card effect, I can Special Summon one 'Unchained' monster from my deck. Arise from my deck, Unchained Twins – Rakea!" A humanoid fiend with long thin blue hair, as well as wearing white clothing and a silver belt around his waist appeared on Muziano's field. He had bronze metal cuffs with squares and spikes on them on his arms, with regular ones on his ankles. Like Aruha, he wore a bronze metal mask tightened to his face.

Unchained Twins – Rakea ATK: 1500 DEF: 1500 LV: 3

"Rakea's effect!" Muziano continued. "Once per turn, I can target a card I control and destroy it. I destroy Aruha!" Rakea turned to Aruha and blasted him with energy, turning him to particles. "By doing this, I can activate Aruha's effect, which lets me Special Summon one 'Unchained' monster from my hand or deck, except Aruha. I Special Summon Unchained Twins – Sarama from my deck!" Soon, a fiendish, humanoid creature with red eyes and wearing purple robes appeared on Muziano's field. He had wild purple hair that flowed to his sides, as well as long horns on his head. Tattoos were engraved all over his body, as evident by the upper portion of his body.

Unchained Twins – Sarama ATK: 1500 DEF: 1500 LV: 3

"I activate Sarama's effect. In exchange for destroying one card on my field, I can target one 'Unchained' card in my Graveyard and Set it to my field. I destroy Rakea and Set Escape of the Unchained to my Spell & Trap card zone." Sarama fired a burst of energy at Rakea, turning him into particles. Once that was done, Muziano took a card from his Graveyard and Set it to his Spell & Trap card zone. "Doing this activates Rakea's effect. As he was destroyed by a card effect, I can Special Summon one 'Unchained' monster from my hand or deck, except Rakea. I Special Summon Abominable Unchained Soul from my deck." A humanoid fiend with long purple hair and ears leapt onto Muziano's field. He wore a yellow, ornate robe on his body, along with black pants that had yellow markings on it.

Abominable Unchained Soul ATK: 3000 DEF: 1500 LV: 8

"Appear, the circuit of monstrosity!" Muziano declared, as a Link Portal appeared high above him in the cage. "The summoning conditions are two monsters, including an 'Unchained Soul' monster. I'll set Abominable Unchained Soul and Unchained Twins – Sarama into the Link Markers!" Abominable Unchained Soul went into the top arrowhead, while Sarama went into the bottom arrowhead.

"Circuit combine! Link Summon! Appear! Link 2! Unchained Soul of Rage!" A massive, four-legged blue beast with long shaggy fur appeared on Muziano's field. The creature had a bronze metal collar with chain remnants around its neck, with bronze metal cuffs near its feet. Its blue eyes glowed as it howled at Raguel.

Unchained Soul of Rage ATK: 1800 LINK-2 ⬆️⬇️

"I then Set one card face-down and end my turn." Muziano concluded. "Let's see what you can do, little boy."

Raguel narrowed his eyes as he assessed what happened. From what he saw, Muziano used a series of effects one by one to eventually bring out a 3000 attack point monster. But right after that, he proceeded to use said monster and another monster on his field to Link Summon a Link 2 monster. By the time he was finished, he had two Set cards as well, one of which was Escape from the Unchained, and a card he didn't know about. Just what was Muziano's plan?

"We'll have to play this carefully, Raguel." Herald told him. "If we destroy his cards with card effects, he'll get to swarm his field with more monsters."

"Which won't be good for us." Raguel finished, putting his hand on the top card of his deck. "My turn! I draw!" He drew the top card of his deck. "Since you control a monster and I don't, I can Special Summon Cyreath Satyr from my hand." A creature with the upper body of a man and the horns and legs of a goat appeared on Raguel's field. The creature had bronze pieces of armor on its head, arms, and legs, as well as long claws on its hands.

Cyreath Satyr ATK: 2300 DEF: 1400 LV: 5

But before Raguel could continue, Muziano spoke up. "I know what you intend to do, and I won't let it happen. I activate Unchained Soul of Rage's effect! During your Main Phase, I can target one face-up Special Summoned monster you control and use both it and Unchained Soul of Rage as Link materials to Link Summon a Dark Link monster from my Extra Deck!"

"Say what?!" Raguel exclaimed, surprised by what he just heard.

"Appear, the circuit of monstrosity!" Muziano declared, as a Link Portal appeared high above him in the cage. "The summoning conditions are two or more monsters, including an 'Unchained Soul' monster. I'll set my Unchained Soul of Rage, which is a Link 2 monster, and your Cyreath Satyr into the Link Markers!" Satyr went into the top arrowhead, while Unchained Soul of Rage went into the bottom-left and bottom-right arrowheads respectively.

"Circuit combine! Link Summon! Appear! Link 3! Unchained Soul of Anguish!" A massive, four-legged red beast with long shaggy fur appeared on Muziano's field. The creature had a bronze metal collar with chain remnants around its neck, with bronze metal cuffs near its feet. Its red eyes glowed as it howled at Raguel.

Unchained Soul of Anguish ATK: 2400 LINK-3 ↙️⬆️↘️

"He Link Summoned on our turn?" Herald said in surprise.

"Judging from what we just saw, yes." Raguel confirmed. "And I'm guessing this monster has the same ability as well." Which means he can link climb to a Link 4 on his next turn, he deduced. Therefore, I need to eliminate him ASAP. "In that case, I summon Cyreath Beastmaster from my hand." A short, armored creature wearing a horned helmet on its head and armor over its body jumped onto Raguel's field. It carried a short axe in its right hand. On its back, it carried a large horn.

Cyreath Beastmaster ATK: 0 DEF: 1500 LV: 4

"When Beastmaster is Normal Summoned, I can Special Summon one Level 4 or lower 'Cyreath' monster from my hand. Come, Cyreath Wandering Soul!" Beastmaster grabbed the horn on its back and blew into it, causing a loud sound. Soon, an illusion of a man appeared on Raguel's field, with mist running throughout his body.

Cyreath Wandering Soul ATK: 0 DEF: 0 LV: 1

"Appear! The circuit showing the highest mountain!" A Link Portal appeared high above him in the cage. "The summoning conditions are one 'Cyreath' monster. I'll set Cyreath Wandering Soul into the Link Markers!" Wandering Soul went into the bottom-left arrowhead, turning it red.

"Circuit combine! Link Summon! Appear! Link 1! Cyreath Skull Wing!" A small skull with wings appeared in the right Extra Monster Zone on Raguel's field.

Cyreath Skull Wing ATK: 300 LINK-1 ↙️

"I activate the effect of Wandering Soul in my Graveyard." Raguel continued. "By banishing it, I can Special Summon one 'Cyreath Wanderer' token to my field." A small ball of mist in the form of a ghost appeared on Raguel's field.

Cyreath Wanderer Token ATK: 0 DEF: 0 LV: 1

"Stop right there!" Muziano interrupted. "I activate the effect of Dark Spirit of Malice from my hand! When you activate a card or effect, I can send this card from my hand or field to the Graveyard to Special Summon one Level 8 Fiend monster from my Graveyard. However, I have to negate its effects. Return to the field, Abominable Unchained Soul!" At Muziano's command, Abominable Unchained Soul reappeared on his field.

Abominable Unchained Soul ATK: 3000 DEF: 1500 LV: 8

"I'll then activate my Trap card, Escape of the Unchained!" Muziano gestured to one of his face-up cards as Escape of the Unchained appeared, having been activated. "This card lets me target one 'Unchained' monster on my field and one card on your field. By doing so, I can destroy both targets."

"Oh, that's not good." Herald commented.

"I choose your Skull Wing and my Abominable Unchained Soul." Muziano decided, as both cards turned into particles, much to Raguel's dismay. "Then, the second effect of Dark Spirit of Malice activates. Since a Level 8 Fiend monster was sent to my Graveyard while this card was in my Graveyard, I can add it to my hand." A card then appeared out of Muziano's Graveyard, which he took and added to his hand.

"Son of a..." Raguel muttered. He then gestured upwards. "Appear, for a second time! The circuit showing the highest mountain!" A second Link Portal appeared high in the cage above him. "The summoning conditions are two 'Cyreath' monsters. I'll set the Cyreath Wanderer token and Cyreath Beastmaster into the Link Markers!" Beastmaster went into the top arrowhead, while the Wanderer token went into the bottom arrowhead, turning both of them red.

"Circuit combine! Link Summon! Appear! Link 2! Cyreath Jason!" A handsome blond-haired man with emerald colored eyes leapt onto Raguel's field in the right Extra Monster Zone. He had pieces of golden armor attached to his arms, shoulders, and upper body, as well as on his shins. Strapped around his waist was a medium-sized green waist cape, with a golden belt as well.

Cyreath Jason ATK: 1500 LINK-2 ⬆️⬇️

"When Jason is Link Summoned, I'm allowed to activate the Field Spell card Cyreath Argo straight from my deck!" Raguel added, taking a card from his deck. "I now activate the Field Spell card, Cyreath Argo! While this card is on the field, all 'Cyreath' monsters on my field gain 300 attack and defense points, and they can't be destroyed by your card effects as well." Jason was surrounded with a yellow aura as his strength increased.

Cyreath Jason ATK: 1500 + 300 = 1800

"Tch..." Muziano grit his teeth. A card that prevented the destruction of cards by card effects would be detrimental for him if he wanted to defeat Raguel. "Regardless, your monster is too weak to take on Unchained Soul of Anguish."

"Only for now." Raguel replied. "I activate Jason's effect. Once per turn, I can Special Summon one 'Cyreath' monster from my Graveyard with its effects negated to a Main Monster Zone he points to. Return, Beastmaster!" At Raguel's command, Beastmaster reappeared on his field, only in the Main Monster Zone Jason pointed to.

Cyreath Beastmaster ATK: 0 DEF: 1500 LV: 4

Cyreath Beastmaster ATK: 0 + 300 = 300 DEF: 1500 + 300 = 1800

"Appear, for a third time! The circuit showing the highest mountain!" A third Link Portal appeared high in the cage above Raguel. "The summoning conditions are one 'Cyreath' monster! I'll set Cyreath Beastmaster into the Link Markers!" Beastmaster went into the bottom arrowhead, turning it red.

"Circuit combine! Link Summon! Appear! Link 1! Cyreath Headhunter!" A female ninja wearing a purple and black robe appeared on Raguel's field in the Main Monster Zone. Her face was covered in darkness, except for the eyes, which were black with a yellow-orange sclera.

Cyreath Headhunter ATK: 1000 LINK-1 ⬇️

Cyreath Headhunter ATK: 1000 + 300 = 1300

"Last but not least, I activate the Equip Spell card, Amulet of Ouroboros, and equip it onto Jason." Raguel said, as a golden amulet with a blue-green gem at the center appeared around Jason's neck, much to his joy. "When the equipped monster attacks a monster you control, I can shuffle it back into your deck instead of destroying it, and if I do, you take 200 points of damage for every card in your Graveyard!"

"What?!" Muziano exclaimed out of surprise. Even though Raguel experienced a few setbacks, he was still going as though nothing happened.

"Time to battle!" Raguel declared. "Cyreath Jason attacks Unchained Soul of Anguish! At this point, I activate the effect of Amulet of Ouroboros! Go, Reversal of time!" Jason ran forward and activated the Amulet of Ouroboros against Unchained Soul of Anguish. A blue-green blast was then fired from it, which hit Unchained Soul of Anguish, turning it into particles as it returned to Muziano's Extra Deck, much to his annoyance.

"Currently, there are a total of six cards in your Graveyard, which means you take 1200 points of damage." Six blue-green orbs of energy appeared in a giant circle in front of Jason. The orbs then launched themselves towards Muziano, each one decreasing his life points as he was forced to take a step back.

Muziano: 4000 - (200 X 2) = 2800 LP

"The battle still continues. Cyreath Headhunter attacks you directly!" Raguel said, as Headhunter charged at Muziano and pulled out two poisonous daggers before slashing him twice, retreating back to Raguel's side in the process. Due to the attacks, Muziano was forced to take a step or two back.

Muziano: 2800 – 1300 = 1500 LP

"You little!" Muziano exclaimed, gritting his teeth. "I'll make you pay for that!"

"We're on a roll here!" Herald told Muziano. "On your next turn, its lights out for you!"

"Not necessarily." Raguel said to Herald. "Look at what he still has on his field." Herald did just as Raguel told him to do, and turned to Raguel after spotting the face-down card.

"Please tell me you have cards that can destroy his Spell or Trap cards, right?" Herald asked him.

"No." Raguel answered. "But we do have Cyreath Argo, which prevents him from destroying our monsters with card effects."

"Only for now, though." Herald pointed out. "Which means we have to prepare ourselves for whatever this Muziano will unleash next."

Raguel nodded, knowing that Herald was right. Going back to the duel, he said, "I Set one card face-down and end my turn."

"My turn! I draw!" Muziano said, drawing the top card of his deck. "I activate the Spell card, Abomination's Prison from my hand. This card lets me add one 'Unchained' card from my deck to my hand." A card popped out of his deck, which he took and added to his hand. "Next, I activate the Trap card, Abominable Chamber of the Unchained." Muziano added. "This card lets me Special Summon one 'Unchained' monster from my hand or Graveyard. Return, Unchained Soul of Rage!" At Muziano's command, Unchained Soul of Rage reappeared on his field, only in the Main Monster Zone.

Unchained Soul of Rage ATK: 1800 LINK-2 ⬆️⬇️

"Then I activate the Spell card, Mind Control, which lets me target one monster on your field and take control of it until the End Phase. However, it can't attack. I target your Jason!" Purple rings fired out of Mind Control and hit Jason, causing him to leap over to Muziano's field, much to Raguel's dismay.

"Prepare yourself, Raguel!" Muziano told him, as he gestured upwards. "Appear, the circuit of monstrosity!" A Link Portal appeared high in the cage above Muziano. "The summoning conditions are two or more monsters, including a Link monster! I'll set Unchained Soul of Rage and your Cyreath Jason, which are both Link 2 monsters, into the Link Markers!" Jason split into two tornadoes of energy that went into the top and bottom arrowheads, while Unchained Soul of Rage split into two tornadoes of energy that went into the bottom-left and bottom-right arrowheads.

"Circuit combine! Link Summon! Rage and Anguish, mix together, and bring out a beast that has no equal! Link 4! Unchained Abomination!" A massive, four-legged purple beast that also had colors of blue and red all over its body as veins appeared on Muziano's field. It had long shaggy fur, along with a bronze metal collar that had chain remnants around its neck, as well as bronze metal cuffs near its feet. The creature also had long thick whiskers at the sides of its head, as well as long horns on its head and the sides of its neck. Its red eyes glowed as it howled at Raguel.

Unchained Abomination ATK: 3000 LINK-4 ↙️⬆️⬇️↘️

"I'll then activate the Quick-Play Spell card, Unchained Frenzy!" The card showed Unchained Abomination tearing a village asunder, with Abominable Unchained Soul and Unchained Twins – Sarama watching at the top of a nearby building, satisfied with what just happened. "This card lets me target one card on the field and destroy it. In addition, if I control an 'Unchained' Link monster, you cannot activate cards or effects in response."

"What?!" Raguel exclaimed in shock. That meant he couldn't activate Cyreath Providence and Link Summon during his opponents turn.

"I target and destroy your face-down card!" Muziano decided, as a blast of energy erupted from Unchained Frenzy, turning Raguel's face-down card into particles. "Doing this activates the effect of Unchained Abomination as well! Once per turn, if a card on the field is destroyed by a card effect, except by its own, I can target and destroy one card on the field. I target and destroy Cyreath Argo!" Unchained Abomination roared as it unleashed a blast of energy from its mouth at Cyreath Argo, turning it into particles.

"Since Cyreath Argo is no longer on my field, Headhunter's attack points revert back to normal." Raguel stated, as Headhunter's attack points returned back to her original amount.

Cyreath Headhunter ATK: 1300 – 300 = 1000

"Battle!" Muziano declared. "Unchained Abomination attacks Cyreath Headhunter! Unrelenting Hatred!" Unchained Abomination charged forward and slashed Headhunter before biting into her flesh, turning her into particles. The explosion that occurred soon after sent Raguel flying to the caged wall behind him. Upon impact, he slid to the ground.

Raguel: 4000 – 2000 = 2000 LP

"I will end my turn here." Muziano concluded. "Next turn, you're finished boy!"

"I heard that so many times that I lost track." Raguel replied, standing up slowly. "And guess what? I'm still here, thus proving everyone wrong." Muziano snarled as Raguel put his right hand on the top card of his deck. "My turn! I draw!" He drew the top card of his deck. This could work. "I activate the Spell card, Cyreath Comradeship!" The card showed Hercules and Jason at a fire, with several other comrades chatting about their adventures. One comrade was a huntress who wore beautiful verdant green clothing. She had long and unkempt hair, along with animal-like ears. Two other comrades were a set of siblings, a brother and a sister, each wearing white and black clothing with sandals. Each of the siblings also had a wreath around their head. "Since you control more monsters than I do, I can Special Summon 'Cyreath' monsters with different names from my Graveyard equal to the difference. Return, Skull Wing!" At Raguel's command, Skull Wing reappeared on his field.

Cyreath Skull Wing ATK: 300 LINK-1 ↙️

"Next, I summon Cyreath Icarus from my hand." An angelic warrior wearing a white tunic and brown sandals flew onto Raguel's field.

Cyreath Icarus ATK: 1200 DEF: 1100 LV: 3

"When Icarus is Normal Summoned, I can Special Summon one Level 4 or lower 'Cyreath' monster from my Graveyard." Raguel explained. "So come on back, Beastmaster!" Within moments, Beastmaster reappeared on his field.

Cyreath Beastmaster ATK: 0 DEF: 1500 LV: 4

"Stop right there!" Muziano interrupted. "I activate the effect of Dark Spirit of Malice from my hand. When you activate a card or effect, I can send this card from my hand or field to the Graveyard to Special Summon one Level 8 Fiend monster from my Graveyard. However, I have to negate its effects. Return to the field, Abominable Unchained Soul!" At Muziano's command, Abominable Unchained Soul reappeared on his field.

Abominable Unchained Soul ATK: 3000 DEF: 1500 LV: 8

"Even if you do Link Summon a monster over 3000 attack points, you'll only be able to attack one of them. And once my next turn comes, I'll defeat you with overwhelming force!" Muziano boasted, laughing in the process. However, he stopped when Raguel smirked, surprising him. "What's so funny, little man?"

"I was thinking that no matter what you do to defend yourself with, there will always be a crack in your strategy to exploit." Raguel answered, causing Muziano to widen his eyes. "If you don't believe me, then I'll show you!" He gestured upwards. "Appear, the circuit showing the highest mountain!" A Link Portal appeared high in the cage above him. "The summoning conditions are two or more 'Cyreath' monsters. I'll set Cyreath Beastmaster, Cyreath Icarus, and Cyreath Skull Wing, which is a Link 1 monster, into the Link Markers!" Beastmaster went into the left arrowhead, Icarus went into the right arrowhead, and Skull Wing went into the bottom-left arrowhead.

"Circuit combine! Link Summon! Take to the skies and bring terror from above! Link 3! Cyreath Stymphalian Bird!" A massive bronze bird the size of a crane with long blue hair at the back of its head appeared on Raguel's field in the right Extra Monster Zone. The bird had a beak of bronze, sharp metallic feathers on its wings, and razor sharp claws. Its orange eyes looked down at Muziano as it screeched at him.

Cyreath Stymphalian Bird ATK: 2000 LINK-3 ⬅️➡️↙️

"The effect of Skull Wing activates!" Raguel added. "As it was used to Link Summon, you take 300 points of damage!" A silhouette of Skull Wing appeared and went through Muziano, causing him to shiver.

Muziano: 1500 – 300 = 1200 LP

"I activate Stymphalian Bird's effect as well! By banishing a monster from my Graveyard, it can attack you directly this turn! Furthermore, if the banished monster was a Link Monster, it can attack you directly equal to its Link Rating!"

"Oh no!" Muziano exclaimed. He didn't have any cards in his hand or on the field to stop a direct attack. Which meant he would soon lose!

"Oh yes!" Herald replied. "Looks like we're about to win this cage match, bub!"

"I banish Satyr from my Graveyard." Raguel told Muziano. He then gestured upwards. "Battle! Cyreath Stymphalian Bird attacks you directly! Blazing Drill Bomb!" On Raguel's command, Stymphalian Bird flew high into the air before proceeding to divebomb Muziano and end the duel...

...But just as Stymphalian Bird was inches from Muziano, the whole Gammadome suddenly shut down, ending the duel with no result.

"The hell?"

"Who won the match?

"What's going on?"

"We want a refund!"

Soon, the whole audience was in an uproar, overwhelming the guards that were present. Muziano, shocked at what happened, turned to Raguel in a fury.

"This was your doing!" he accused him, charging at Raguel. However, Raguel sidestepped and delivered a gut punch to his stomach, causing him to spit out saliva as he took a few steps back, holding his stomach. Raguel then ran forward and struck Muziano's face with his knee, leaving him with several bruises as he fell to the ground. After Raguel checked to see if he was still breathing, he then patted him down for anything that can be of use. Noticing a small golden device with a small golden disk in Muziano's pocket, he got an idea, grabbing the device before heading to the cage.

Unfortunately, after he used his sword to cut the cage open and escape, he was met by angry people who tried to drag him back in there.

"Get back in the cage!"

"We paid good money for this match!"

"No one leaves the Gammadome Rumble!"

Raguel tried to fight off the audience members and make a path through to the nearby gate, but they continued to overwhelm him. He was luckily saved, however, when several fireflies latched themselves onto several audience members and tased them in multiple groups, creating an opening.

"This way!" Ghost Girl said, motioning for him to follow her. Raguel did just that, the two of them escaping the massive dome-like room and turning left in the hallway. Their troubles weren't over, though, as several guards noticed the duo and started following them, firing their guns in the process. "Just great. They're following and firing at us."

"Yes, thank you for the commentary. Its not at all distracting!" Raguel sarcastically replied, pulling out his double-barreled revolver and firing a few shots back at the guards. "Please tell me you found a way to the database."

"There's an elevator to the right up ahead." Ghost Girl told him, as they turned right. "However, its likely that there will be more guards waiting for us at that location."

"Then you don't need to worry." Roxy stated. "Because I rerouted each of the guard's rotations and sent them on goose chases."

"How exactly did you do that?" Raguel asked, curious. The question ended up making Roxy chuckle in embarrassment. "Roxy. What did you do?"

"I unlocked all the prison doors," she admitted. "The guards will be busy with the prisoners and uneasy people, so you better get to that database or I'll clobber you both!" Both Ghost Girl and Raguel sweat dropped upon hearing Roxy's threat.

"We'll get it and leave the branch." Raguel assured her. "Just be our eyes in the sky until then." By the time the duo got to the elevator, some guards putting down the riot noticed them, just as Ghost Girl predicted.

"Stop right there!" one of the guards said. "You're coming with us to see Seamus for the uproar caused!" As if to prove his point, more guards arrived from behind, enclosing the duo in.

"I told you your plan wouldn't work." Ghost Girl reminded him.

"I told him as well, Ghost Girl." Herald added. "But would he listen? Nooooooooooo."

Raguel reached his sword as he surveyed his options. There were numerous guards on both sides, blocking them in. He had hoped to not use violence, as those days were over, but it looked like he and Ghost Girl had to fight their way through to reach the elevator.

WHOOSH!

Before anyone could act though, two swords thrown like boomerangs sped through the air and cut each of the guard's heads off. The trick, apparently, frightened the guards behind Ghost Girl and Raguel, as their heads were chopped off before any of them could react.

"You guys alright?" SengokuQueen asked, in her Coordinator disguise.

"Thanks so much SengokuQueen." Raguel thanked her, whereas Ghost Girl was surprised that the man in front of them was SengokuQueen.

"You're disguised as a man?" Ghost Girl raised an eyebrow as she placed a hand on her hip. "Seriously? You can obviously do better than that."

"Hello to you too, Ghost Girl." SengokuQueen replied. She turned to the left and right, surveying the area. "I bought you some time. Get to that database and acquire what you're looking for." SengokuQueen extended a hand to Raguel, who shook it. As Ghost Girl worked to get the elevator running, Raguel turned to her.

"You should come with us." Raguel offered SengokuQueen, but she shook her head, much to his surprise.

"If Seamus finds out I'm missing, he'll grow suspicious," she explained. "I'll join you once the chaos here dies down." Raguel nodded in response as the elevator turned on. Once he and Ghost Girl entered the elevator and set their destination, SengokuQueen ran off in another direction.

In the elevator, Ghost Girl and Raguel stood together in silence, waiting to arrive at the main floor. The silence was eventually broken when Raguel spoke up.

"You mind if I asked a question?" Ghost Girl turned to him. "When your dad was sick, why didn't you tell us the truth that day? If you told us what was going on, you know we would have been more than happy to help you out."

Ghost Girl sighed. "I know. The truth is, I have a rather devious and two-faced nature, as well as trust issues."

"Trust issues?" Raguel repeated, a smirk on his face. "That would explain why you sometimes backstab people, doesn't it?"

"Guess so." Ghost Girl agreed, shrugging her shoulders. "Ever since I was little, I had difficulty making friends because of my two-faced nature. Who would want to be friends with someone that was practically a snake? I learned that only one person had the power to get through life when it presented difficulties. That person was me, myself, and I. For the most part, that ideology got me through the beginnings of my career as a treasure hunter in LINK VRAINS. Though eventually..."

"You met Roxy in the real world and suddenly became best friends with her." Raguel finished.

"Yup. For the first time in a long time, I got to experience what being friends with someone really was. Respect, having a good time, and all that stuff." Ghost Girl had a smile of sadness on her face. "When my father was diagnosed with pneumonia though, I had a choice: Backstab my friends like I always did to get what I needed, or take a risk and reach out for help, uncertain of the outcome. Unfortunately, I picked the former, which brings us to now." She turned away from Raguel. "Do you think of me as a friend? Or a snake?"

Raguel turned to Ghost Girl. "Ghost Girl, when you betrayed me, I was left in shock. However, I still thought of you as a friend because I believed you wouldn't do what you did without a good reason." She turned to him, listening as he continued. "But I'm not the best when it comes to emotions, and I reacted impulsively. If we had the chance to bury the hatchet earlier, we could have saved our friendship. What I learned overtime was that at the end of the day, you're you and I'm me. I can't force someone to change. Only you have the power to do that. So I forgive you, Ghost Girl, for what happened at Landios Confederation." As if to prove his point, he patted her on the back.

Ghost Girl was caught off guard by Raguel's speech. No one forgave her for what she did to someone before, and this was honestly a first for her. "I must admit. That was... really nice of you to do."

"Yes, that was very nice." Herald sarcastically added, interrupting the conversation. "Can we please get back to the mission now? Because last I checked, there will be opposition once we get to the main floor."

"You're right on that topic." Ghost Girl replied to Herald. Thinking for a moment, an idea appeared in her mind as she turned to Raguel. "Hey, lets do Get Help."

"What?" Raguel said, paying attention.

"Get Help." Ghost Girl reiterated. "The little comedy act we came up together." Upon remembering said comedy act, Raguel shook his head.

"No."

"Come on, you love it."

"I hate it."

"Its great. It works every time." Ghost Girl reminded him.

"Its humiliating." Raguel pointed out to her.

"Do you have a better plan?" Ghost Girl raised an eyebrow.

"No." Raguel answered in defeat.

"Then we're doing it." Ghost Girl decided, a smirk on her face. Raguel sighed, knowing what was about to come.

"We are not doing Get Help." Raguel enunciated.

"What exactly is Get Help?" Herald asked him. Before Raguel could respond, Ghost Girl pinched him at the neck, knocking him out for a few seconds as she put his arm around her shoulder.

"Be quiet." Ghost Girl told Herald, the elevator doors opening as she got into character. "Get help! Please! My brother's dying!" A few of the guards noticed and walked towards Ghost Girl carrying Raguel's limp body. "Get help! Help him!" She then threw him at the guards, knocking them out with ease. "Ah, classic."

Raguel got up, relieved that it was over. "I still hate it because its humiliating," he told her.

"Not for me." Ghost Girl responded, patting Raguel on the back. She then pressed a few buttons on her duel disk, enabling a small map to pop up. "According to this map, the database is in the information room, which is down to the right. Raguel, we're golden!" Raguel, however, wasn't paying attention, as he heard a scream from the left. "Raguel?"

"There was someone else who participated in the Gammadome Rumble, only in a different area," he recalled. "And that person needs help." He proceeded to walk to the left, only for Ghost Girl to grab his shoulder and stop him from walking.

"Are you seriously abandoning the mission to go help a stranger?" Ghost Girl asked him. "We're this close to the information on Project: VIII, remember? Or did you already forget why we're here?"

"Sorry, Ghost Girl." Raguel replied, taking her hand off his shoulder before starting to walk away from her. "But like I said: You are you and I am me."

"That we can agree on." Ghost Girl stated, a hand on her hip. To her surprise, Raguel turned around and smiled before pulling out the small golden device in his pocket. Upon recognizing it, Ghost Girl scrambled to find the small golden disc on her body, but she was too late, as Raguel pressed the button on the small golden device. As a result, she fell to the floor, having been tased by the device.

"Oh, Ghost Girl." Raguel said, approaching her as she continued to get tased. "You remember how I said only you are capable of change? I said that because life is about growth, as well as change. I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but you've changed when you decided to willingly tell Blue Angel about who put her in that coma. For free if I may add. You also made the choice to make amends with Roxy, which was quite successful in the end. I guess what I'm trying to say is you can be more, but only if you decide to open up and reach out to people, despite their opinions." He then gestured to the small golden device in his hand. "As for this thing, I'll just toss this over here for you. I'll be right back, so stay safe." After tossing the device to another part of the area, he then ran off, turning left in the process.

"I can't believe you tased Ghost Girl like that." Roxy said over the earpiece. "While that's going in my personal collection of funny videos, I'm curious as to why you did it."

"May I remind you that she not only turned me to a girl, but also cosplayed as Blue Angel?" Raguel reiterated, running down the hallway. After hearing a sound nearby, he turned left and went outside, where he spotted a group of men ambushing a male teenager in an alleyway. The male individual had dark green hair, which was spiked upwards except for a medium sized portion of it, which went over the right side of his mask. Said mask was gold and in the shape of a bird, which covered his eyes. The male teenager's outfit was black with green accents all over it, as well as two orange armbands at the bicep areas. He also wore a glove on each hand.

"Guys, guys," the male teenager said to the group of men. "Lets talk about this. I mean, if you ambush me, it proves you don't have any balls whatsoever." Unfortunately, the comment only infuriated the leader of the group.

That kid's gonna get pummeled, Raguel realized, as he put the Cracker gauntlet on his right hand. Turning the power to level one, he then fired several shots of electricity at the group, causing them to convulse to the ground and fall unconscious. "Oh, sorry about that. My arm slipped." He turned to the male teenager, who was shocked at what happened. "You alright, kid?"

Said kid quickly gathered his thoughts before speaking, apparently recognizing Raguel. "Holy shit... You're Raguel. What you did was totally crash, man!"

"Crash?" Herald repeated, an eyebrow raised. "Is that a new phrase that humans say nowadays?" His appearance, however, freaked the male teenager out.

"Pardon my friend here." Raguel told him, pressing some buttons on his duel disk. Soon, a program popped out, which he gave to the male teenager. "Its likely those guys will have you tracked. That's why I'm giving you this program to use in the real world. If they show up, use it, but it only works once."

The male teenager nodded eagerly after using the program. "Of course. Thank you Mr. Raguel. I mean, Raguel." He then logged out afterwards. Once that business was done, Raguel then walked back inside and ran down the hallway, intent on rendezvousing with Ghost Girl. However, along the way, he heard commotion nearby, causing him to turn right instead of running straight. Wishing to avoid making noise, Raguel put his back on the wall and crept slowly to the room's entrance where the noise was occurring. Once he made it, he stood still, not wanting to give his presence away. Pressing a few buttons, an E.M.S came out of the duel disk and went into the room, allowing Raguel to see what was going on. Hang on. That's Ace and Speckles, he thought. And that older man. Could it be-?

"Why have you come back, Ace?" the older man demanded. He wore mostly purple clothing, with a necklace around his neck in the form of a unity symbol. He also had a mullet of grey hair as well. "Don't tell me you've been behind the recent deaths in the Black Market!" Ace, in response, laughed at that assumption.

"Oh, I wish that were true." Ace replied, his arms crossed. "Lets just say I'm allied with a grim reaper who's paving the way up to you, Overseer."

"Then call your grim reaper off and leave!" the Overseer ordered him, nervously backing away from the duo. "You and Athaliah, as well as your little lapdog are not welcome here!"

"I don't think so." Speckles defiantly told the Overseer. "You see, something big is coming very soon, and the three of us have been selected to help usher it in."

"But to do that, there needs to be chaos. Lots of it." Ace added. "And it looks like your time is up, old man." Suddenly, a sound of hunger emerged from the room. Before the Overseer could turn around and identify what it was, a set of arms grabbed and dragged him into the darkness. He then screamed as something feasted on his flesh and bones, killing him in the process. Taking the unity necklace on the ground, Ace put it around his neck, having obtained the highest position in the Black Market. "Done and done." He then noticed that Speckles was uneasy. "What is it?"

Speckles launched the three chained daggers attached to his wired stump, destroying E.M.S. completely. "Someone's watching us. I'll check it out."

"Oh crap..." Raguel muttered, pressing a few buttons on his duel disk and activating the invisibility program before steadying his breathing. When Speckles reached the entrance to the room and looked around, he shrugged his shoulders and went back to Ace. Seizing the opportunity, Raguel quickly ran away from the scene and headed straight back to where Ghost Girl was.

Speaking of Ghost Girl, she was still getting tased by the time SengokuQueen found her. Looking around, she found the small golden device and turned it off, giving Ghost Girl some much needed relief.

"Thank you." Ghost Girl said, as SengokuQueen went over and pulled her off. "That was... excruciatingly painful."

"Judging from the look on your face, it definitely was." SengokuQueen agreed, a snicker on her face. Ghost Girl would have angrily retorted to that comment had Raguel arrived to where the duo was. At that point, she turned her fury onto him.

"You tasered me?!" Ghost Girl had a bulging vein on her forehead. "I thought we were good on the Landios incident!"

"That was partially for turning me to a girl, as well as for making fun of Blue Angel twice." Raguel told her. "Oh, there you are, SengokuQueen. Since you helped us this far, I suppose its only fair for you to have a share in the information too."

SengokuQueen smirked. "Now that I am grateful for." The three of them then ran to the right down the hallway, where they eventually reached the database. While Raguel stood guard at the doorway, Ghost Girl and SengokuQueen went inside the database, where they began searching for Project: VIII. "Okay. I put in the access codes. Its Project: VIII, right?"

"Yes." Raguel answered. "The both of you should hurry. On my way back, I spotted Ace and Speckles, and I witnessed them killing the Overseer."

"Oh, that's not a good sign." Ghost Girl commented, with SengokuQueen nodding in agreement. "The Black Market's gonna collapse for sure without him around." The two women eventually found what they were looking for. "Raguel, come check this out!" Raguel ran to the database and looked at what the others were looking at. There, on the screen, was a file, with the words 'Project: VIII. The Key to helping humanity move forward'. This, combined with the intel Greg gave him on Project: VIII, would finally give him and the others answers on why they had to suffer through the Lost Incident and Project: Apotheosis. If anything, they could finally obtain peace.

Getting his bearings together, Raguel assisted Ghost Girl and SengokuQueen in transferring the information to their duel disks. "You two log out. I'd like to leave a little going away present for Seamus." He pressed a few buttons from his duel disk, causing a few explosives to appear. As he put them on the database, Ghost Girl spoke up.

"Can't believe you would be taking a page from my book..." she commented, as SengokuQueen logged out.

Raguel turned to her. "It'll set Seamus and the Guzik family back several weeks, if not months. Besides..." He turned around and looked at the area. "This place is just too gross, if you ask me." Ghost Girl smirked before logging out as well, still surprised that someone would be using one of her tricks.

After Raguel ran out of the database, he then pressed a button, initiating a twenty-second countdown on the detonators. Once he exited the massive dome-like building, he then logged out, a massive explosion occurring soon after.

At Café Matsuo, in the backroom...

Yuhiro opened his eyes and let out a sigh of relief as the door to the closed-off space opened. Placing a hand on the nearby wall to maintain his balance, he then walked over slowly until he reached his spot. "I'm back."

"And in one piece too." Roxy added, as Yuhiro sat down in his spot.

"Before you say anything about how my plan failed, I didn't know Monty was dead." Yuhiro commented, turning to her. "I thought The Clearance would get me instant access to the database."

"Well, it was a good thing Ghost Girl was there to help you out." Roxy told him, grabbing his ear and pulling on it. "Honestly, Yuhiro. This is why we develop Plan B's."

"Alright, alright. I hear you. Lesson learned." Yuhiro conceded. Before he could say more, a screen popped up on the monitor, which showed Emma.

"Okay, that was wicked." Emma told him. "I looked into the surveillance, and you blew up a good portion of the Gamma Branch, along with its entire database!" Roxy, upon hearing this, turned to Yuhiro in surprise.

"WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU BLOW UP THE GAMMA BRANCH'S DATABASE?!"

"To ensure that they wouldn't follow us, as well as distract them obviously." Yuhiro replied, sheepishly scratching the back of his head.

"I have to say, tonight was fun." Ghost Girl said, a smile on her face. "I look forward to working once again with the both of you."

"You as well." Roxy responded, with Yuhiro waving in the background. "Brunch this Sunday?" Emma nodded enthusiastically and put it on her phone as a reminder. "I'll see you then." Emma then hung up, the screen disappearing from the monitor in the process. Once Yuhiro and Roxy put the information he obtained from the Gamma Branch onto a USB drive, the two of them headed upstairs to the living room.

"Boy, am I tired..." Yuhiro muttered, looking at the two USB sticks on the table between him and Roxy. "This is it. With these USB sticks and the files on myself and Miyu, we'll finally have answers."

"Yeah." Roxy agreed with him. "All this mystery nonsense will finally be over." She looked up at Yuhiro, who had a look of concern on his face. "You look tired. What's up?"

"Ace and Speckles were at the Gamma Branch tonight," he answered, getting Roxy's attention. "I overheard them speaking to the Overseer before something killed him. Whatever it was, it wasn't human."

A frown appeared on Roxy's face. "Out with one mystery, in with the other, huh?" She put a hand on Yuhiro's shoulder. "We'll get to the bottom of it. For now, I say we call it a night." Roxy proceeded to go upstairs, but Herald suddenly spoke up.

"Wait!" he said to her. "Can someone at least tell me what exactly Get Help is?" Yuhiro groaned in embarrassment as Roxy went back to the living room.

"Its from a movie," she explained, taking the duel disk from Yuhiro. "If you like, I can show you the movie it came from, as well all the times that he and Emma performed the comedy act."

"No, please don't." Yuhiro pleaded with Roxy, only for her to ignore him as she went downstairs, with Herald enthusiastically interested in watching it. What have I done to deserve this, he thought. Yuhiro looked at the two USB sticks on the table, a serious look on his face. Why would there be two different sets of data for Project: VIII, he wondered. Was the information split on purpose to protect the identities of those involved? Or is there something more sinister going on? He made a mental note to call Watchman and ask him about this information before heading downstairs to try and save his integrity.

Meanwhile, at the Den City Regis Hotel...

Gekiryushi was on her laptop, looking over the information that she obtained from the Gamma Branch. Apparently, there was a lot involved regarding Project: VIII, as it primarily talked about something called reaching the Root of All Knowledge. What exactly was this Root of All Knowledge? Why was a large amount of equipment required? More importantly, why was some of the information similar to the Lost Incident? And what the heck was a Construct?

Her thoughts, however, were interrupted once her phone began ringing. When Gekiryushi picked it up and saw who was calling her, she answered. "Yes?"

"I appreciate you investigating the situation in the Black Market." Akira said, congratulating her for the work. "Were you able to find out what was causing those murders?"

"No, but I have my suspicions." Gekiryushi answered. "My best guess was that Ace, the former head of the Alpha Branch, orchestrated the murders in an attempt to cause tension in the Black Market and regain power. Raguel informed me that the Overseer himself was recently murdered as well."

Akira let out a sigh upon hearing the bad news. "Without the Overseer, it is guaranteed that the Black Market will fall into chaos. I'm worried that SOL Technologies will have to delay the release of the newest version of LINK VRAINS."

"Gamma Branch won't be involved for now." Gekiryushi explained. "Apparently, Raguel destroyed their entire database, which will set them back for several weeks, if not months. However, Seamus Guzik and the Guzik family are not ones to back down so easily."

"I see." Akira gathered his thoughts before continuing. "Until we get more information on the situation at hand, you're on standby for now."

"Very well." Gekiryushi complied. "Shall I send you the information I obtained from the database?"

"That would help a lot, actually." Akira answered. Gekiryushi then sent the information on Project: VIII to him. "Once again, I appreciate your efforts. Stay in touch."

"You as well, Zaizen." Gekiryushi hung up and then went back to work. After scrolling through several pieces of information, she eventually found something that made her widen her eyes. "Impossible. Eight teenagers were chosen for a first Lost Incident?" That meant there were two Lost Incidents, which raised more questions than answers. Who were these teenagers? What happened that caused the first Lost Incident to be a failure? And why would kids be chosen next for the second Lost Incident?

Elsewhere, at a café in Den City, late at night...

A sixteen-year old light-skinned male teenager named Akairo Gekido was sitting at one of the tables, waiting for his old friend to show up. He wore a slate-coloured jacket with light blue trim over a white dress shirt with a fierce red tie on it, as well as black pants and black and white shoes. He also had flame shaped black hair, with a red fringe and dark red eyes.

Come on, when are you going to show up, Akairo wondered, looking around the café. Eventually, he spotted Ryoken approach the café with a small bag, Youta following behind him.

"Aka, its been quite some time." Ryoken said, going over to greet his old friend.

"It obviously has!" Akairo agreed, pulling Ryoken in for a bro hug and patting him on the back. "How's everything with you these days?"

"They're alright." Ryoken answered, gesturing over to Youta. "Aka, this is my friend Youta. I thought you and him would get along."

"Nice to meet you, Akairo." Youta said, offering a hand for Akairo to shake, who shook it in response. Once that was done, both teenagers went over and joined Ryoken at the table.

"So," Akairo said, getting to business, "why exactly did you want to meet up, Ryoken? I'm guessing it isn't just a reunion among old friends."

"That was actually one of my reasons for meeting up with you." Ryoken admitted, taking a sip from his coffee. Since Akairo made it to the café earlier than Ryoken and Youta, he made sure to order coffees for them as well at his request. In other words, a nice gesture amongst old friends. "As for the other reason, I'll have Youta kick it off."

"Of course, Master Ryoken." Youta complied. "I trust you're aware of what Ryoken's father was involved in prior to his..." He didn't continue, unsure of how to approach the sensitive topic of Dr. Kogami's death.

"I'm aware." Akairo answered, turning to Ryoken. "Grandfather told me something about how your father created the Ignis or whatnot, am I correct?"

Ryoken nodded in confirmation. "Yes. We originally had a plan to eradicate them all at once, but it was thwarted by Raguel, Playmaker, and their allies. Even though we were defeated, we won't stop until every single Ignis has been destroyed. Otherwise, they'll either enslave or destroy humanity."

"We've been planning for our return to the fray for the past few months now." Youta continued. "To stop the Ignis, we'll need strong duelists, and Ryoken mentioned how you and him dueled against one another during your childhoods."

"Yup, that part's true." Akairo sheepishly chuckled. Although Ryoken proved to be a better duelist in the end, that didn't mean Akairo was no pushover. "Are you saying you guys want my help against digital AI's that have the potential to threaten humans?"

"Pretty much." Ryoken confirmed. He took out a tablet and pulled it out before opening something up. "Looking at your past duels, you participated in something called the Hanoi Hunts, where you defeated a large list of former grunts and sergeants. The fact you're able to defeat this number of duelists proves your strength, which is one of the reasons I called for you. As for the other, well..." He then closed the file and opened another one up. "You recognize this card, right?"

Akairo definitely recognize the card Ryoken was showing him. It was a red, bipedal dragon with a spiked horn and a tusk at each side of his mouth. He had spikes going down from the back of his neck to the halfway point of his tail, which also ended in spikes. Lastly, the dragon had spiked claws and feet, as well as yellow-amber eyes. The dragon was known as The Claw of Hermos.

"Yeah, I have that card." Akairo told Ryoken and Youta. "As for the other two, they haven't been found yet."

"That's where you're wrong." Youta corrected him. "The other two have indeed been found. One of our allies has it in his possession, while Master Ryoken recently found the other as well." Akairo's eyes widened in surprise upon hearing this piece of news.

"I believe it was called The Fang of Critias." Ryoken recalled, a hand on his chin. "Nevertheless, your assistance will go a long way in helping us destroy the Ignis and save humanity. What do you say, old friend? Will you help us fulfil our goal?"

Akairo was silent for a short while. His family was close friends with the Kogami family, and they, along with Kyoko and Aso, helped Ryoken when Dr. Kogami was declared dead. Ryoken, in return, made him into the duelist he was known for today. Besides, this was a golden opportunity, as he could apply his dueling skills for something other than bounty hunting. In addition, he could reap some interesting rewards for providing his assistance. "Alright. I'll help you out Ryoken, for old time's sake. However, I'll need a few things to get started."

Ryoken smirked after hearing Akairo's answer. "The Knights of Hanoi will provide whatever you require."

A light shines and the letters spelling out VRAINS light up the screen before a network is formed and several cards are drawn in towards a pillar of light. Playmaker, Raguel, and Soulburner are shown with their respective Ignis and stats, along with real-life forms that across the backgrounds that match their Ignis' colors. The screen then shows each of them being shocked while wearing VR sets as kids, along with a kid with light-green hair that flowed backwards and curled at the back. The kid also had dark-green hair spikes on the sides of his head, with light-green spikes at the back of his head as well.

The screen gets swallowed with darkness at it reveals a young Yukage huddled up and crying, his shadow shrinking behind him before taking the form of Wraith and comforting him. Yukage looks up with a menacing and soul piercing glare before the darkness consumes him and he's replaced with an older version of himself. Azrael and Wraith are then shown in NEW LINK VRAINS, as they look out into the digital sky. The scene then shifts to Bohman standing tall above NEW LINK VRAINS and holding the earth in his hands with Haru by his side. Malf grins in the shadows behind them, his red eyes shining bright in the process.

A drop of light falls down, and as it explodes, it reveals Playmaker, Raguel, and Soulburner, standing on buildings watching over the network, alongside the male individual wearing a black outfit with green accents and a gold, bird-like mask over his eyes as well. Blood Shepherd is shown commanding a trio of Battledrone Sergeants before the screen shifts to a young man wearing an elaborate purplish coat with black inner lining and cuffs intricately decorated by red-coloured motifs, as well as a grey shirt with crimson leather pants commanding a red-eyed dragon. The screen then shifts a third time to another man, with red hair spiked backwards and dark purple eyes, as well as wearing a stylish white coat with yellow lines and a black shirt underneath it. Draped around his lower body is a white waist cape with yellow lines as well. Above the man was a male, humanoid monster wearing a black and white suit that had electricity crackling from his wrists and head, as well as several other monsters that resembled futuristic armor parts. The screen then shows Go Onizuka, Kenmochi, and Yoroizaka with Dinowrestler King T Wrextle, Gouki the Blade Ogre, and Gouki the Solid Ogre behind them ready for battle.

Blue Angel, Ghost Girl, Numera and SengokuQueen are then featured together riding their duel boards across the night sky with shooting stars flying across them. Trickstar Holly Angel was with Blue Angel, while Numera was with Geomathmech Final Sigma. Ghost Girl was with Altergeist Dragvirion, while SengokuQueen was with a male shinobi wearing grey robes and armor pads with neon-yellow lines running over them. The man had a red scarf around his neck, along with a face-mask and face visor on his head. He also had spiked-brown hair and a ponytail as well. In his right hand, he carried a Sai, while the brass knuckle on his left hand emitted four translucent blades.

The screen then changes to Raguel, Playmaker, and Soulburner riding on their duel boards with Cyreath Medusa and Cyreath Hercules in his new form, Cyberse Magician, Cyberse Witch, and Salamangreat Heatleo behind them. Following the trio is the male individual from before, with a white and black dragon covered in white, blue, and black armor, as well as neon green crystals attached to her body, which acted like wings that shone with bright light. The four of them join together with a fist bump and smile in the real world as the wind blows, with Kusanagi, Roxy, and Greg watching them from Kusanagi's truck. Rachel then runs toward the quartet, and more specifically, Yuhiro, a look of joy clearly on her face. Unbeknownst to everyone, they're watched from the shadows by a cloaked person who glares at them, biding his time.

Card Gallery

Muziano:

Unchained Frenzy (Quick-Play Spell card)

Effect: Target 1 card on the field; destroy it. If you control an 'Unchained' Link Monster, your opponent cannot activate cards or effects in response to this card's activation and effect.

Raguel:

Cyreath Comradeship (Normal Spell card)

Effect: If your opponent controls more monsters than you do: Special Summon 'Cyreath' monsters from your GY with different names from your GY, up to the difference. You can only activate 1 'Cyreath Comradeship' per turn.

QOTC

Since this chapter had lots of movie references and quotes, which ones would you like to see in the coming chapters? (Note: I put in movie references and quotes to bump up the comedy a bit. Hope you understand).

Chapter Preview

Next time on Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS: Obscured Truth. Chapter 45: LINK VRAINS' Grand Reopening. Three months have passed since the Tower of Hanoi was shutdown, and after a long time of hard work, SOL Technologies has opened their newest version of LINK VRAINS yet. To celebrate this joyous occasion, the company is hosting a special Charisma Duelist event as well. While Rosetta participates in an attempt to spread her message to the people there, Miles logs in for the first time as Phoenix, hoping to carry his mother's legacy forward...

Author's Notes

And with that, the interlude between Seasons 1 and 2 is done! That being said, I hope you enjoyed Chapters 39-44, as I wanted to provide snippets for what's to come. Regardless, its time for a quick recap of events:

The main event that occurred was Yuhiro teaming up with Emma to infiltrate the Gamma Branch and acquire the information on Project: VIII. Unfortunately, things go south, which leads to Yuhiro dueling in a cage match against the reigning champion named Muziano Guzik. A couple of things on this. I originally intended to make the duel longer, but interrupted it on purpose. Why? All I'll say is this: There was outside intrusion that cancelled it, and Ghost Girl nor SengokuQueen caused it. Speaking of SengokuQueen, some of you might be wondering where she was the past few months. Allow me to clarify: She was assigned to go undercover in the Black Market by Akira due to increased tension there, where she eventually ended up in the Gamma Branch. Her role in Season 2 going forward will be similar to that of Rachel, who also has a bigger role as well.

Some information I wanted to provide on Gamma Branch. They have a simple belief of survival of the fittest, which means only the strong survive and the weak are cast off. They're also ruled by a family of OC's, unlike Monty or Ace, who don't have families whatsoever. What role will the Guzik family have moving forward? Well, with Raguel destroying the Gamma Branch's database, it'll be interesting to see their reactions to it, as well as what consequences will result.

That aside, there were a ton of movie quotes and references. If it bothered you, then I want to apologize in advance. I put them in sometimes in order to either drive a point home, or in this case, provide some comedy. I hope you all understand the reasons I do this.

Moving forward, there are some other treats I've put in the chapter. First being the return of Ace and Speckles, as well as the death of the Overseer and Ace stealing the highest position in the Black Market. This will indeed affect the story, as now Ace has access to the various branches in the Black Market. However, the other branches are not likely to just hand their information over to him, as they view him as a traitor. Second, we have a rather special sneak peak at the Wind Ignis's origin, who was also there at the Gammadome Rumble. I will tell you this: His first official duel will be in Chapter 46. Third, there are two post-credit scenes, with the first one involving Gekiryushi looking through the information found on Project: VIII. She ends up finding out that there were eight other victims who participated in the first Lost Incident. What does this mean, you may ask? Well, I can't answer that question because its practically too early to do so. Know this: It will be answered later on. As for the second post-credit scene, I think it speaks for itself. Credit goes to ZeroMK7 for the OC Character submission. I hope you like his appearances as the story progresses.

Thank you everyone for reading Chapter 44 of Obscured Truth. As always, please let me know your thoughts about the chapters below in your reviews. Also, constructive criticism is appreciated, as your tips and advice helps make the story better. In addition, don't forget to favorite and follow the story. That way, you will get a notification once the next chapter is released.

What did you enjoy the most about this chapter? Was it the interactions between Raguel and Ghost Girl? The twists and turns? Or something else? And as we go into Season 2 next chapter, what are you looking forward to the most?

That's all for now. Stay tuned, as we finally go into Season 2!