Weevil giggled in delight as he watched the Cocoon of Ultra Evolution continue to form around Edwin's Breaker. "Soon Edwin your monster will be completely encases within my Cocoon, forcing it to complete the mutation started by my Parasite Paranoid! The two will merge into one whole being to become the new enhanced version of my Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth, the monster that will seal your doom! And there isn't anything you can do to stop me!" Weevil threw his had back and cackled. "It is over Edwin! This duel, this tournament, and your career as a duelist! All at the hands of me!"

And then the cocoon exploded into dripping goop.

"…what?!" Weevil croaked out, staring in horror at the pulpy remains of his cocoon. "What… what did... what have you done?"

"Stopped you, apparently," Edwin said with a smirk. "Which you claimed was utterly impossible. Which must make me a miracle worker… I should try turning air into gold."

"How did you destroy my cocoon? You never laid a trap or spell card on the field."

"Didn't need to." Edwin gestured at the blown out husk of the cocoon. "Breaker did. See, he still had a spell counter in his sword from when he was summoned. It was easy to command him to denotate it, destroying to cocoon. Since he was a part of it he was destroyed himself but that was far better than becoming your Perfectly Ultimate Evolved Amazing Weevil Is Compensating For Something Moth."

Weevil twitched in anger at that, frustrated beyond measure that Edwin had managed to thwart the summoning of his Moth. But just as quickly he smirked, glasses flashing. "Don't believe that you have stopped me just yet, Edwin. You might have destroyed my cocoon but you also destroyed my Parasite Paranoid, activating its final defense mechanism." A card popped out of his deck. "When my Parasite is destroyed it lets out a subsonic cry, calling for vengeance from any insect in my deck that can hear it, allowing me to summon one such monster to the field. Behold your doom: The Metamorphosed Insect Queen!"

The original Insect Queen that Weevil had planned to use in the tournament he participated in had been a lovely creature. A true spider that spun her web and claimed all that landed within. But her Metamorphosed form made the original look like grub. Twice as big so that she towered over the shops in the area, everything about her was improved. The spindly legs had been replaced by menacing appendages that ended in multipronged claws. Her upper body was now sleek and powerful even if her hind quarters were still bloated; though they were now tipped with deadly spines. Part of her exoskeleton had peeled back with the coming of her multi-translucent wings, creating a pair of deadly shell-like protrusions that could shield her from attacks. She was the true master of insect kind and soon would get him to the very top of the dueling world!

"Now then, allow me to show you the power of my Queen! Attack Edwin directly!"

"I activate my Magister's special ability!" Edwin said, throwing out his hand as his Magister began to gather spell counters. "Magister is in charge of maintaining the day to day operations of the Citadel, ensuring that all runs smoothly. He is able to draw from all the Spell Counters the other staff create and use them for the Citadel's defense. And in this case by removing three counters from the field I can take a page out of your book and summon one monster from my deck." A card popped out into his hand. "And if you've been paying attention you know which one it will be. Come forth Endymion, The Mighty Master of Magic!"

The spell counters spun rapidly, creating complex patterns until the glowing outline formed the symbol of Endymion: a broken triangle within an orb. And from this symbol came Endymion, his staff hovering beside him as he glared at the Metamorphosed Insect Queen who was still racing forward to attack. The mage held out his hand, creating a barrier of magic that halted the Queen for a moment. She hissed and struck the barrier but Endymion merely stared her down.

"Our monsters are equally matched, Weevil. If you attack they are both destroyed. But if you call off your attack there is a chance you might survive… except I will still hold Endymion on the field and whatever I bring out next. Your choice… choose wisely."

"Oh, I do!" Weevil giggled. "By going with the third option! I activate my trap, Lair Wire! Ehehehehehe!" Spider webs suddenly shot out from everywhere, ensnaring Endymion and dragging him down to the ground, the mage grunting and struggling against the assault. "By removing one Insect monster from my graveyard I am able to summon the Lair Wire, which ensnares your Endymion and allows the Lair Lurkers to consume him whole!" From the corners of the web vicious black spider-mites appeared, clicking their mandibles. With screeches they suddenly raced forward, covering Endymion completely. "And now I will have my Insect Knight attack! Why waste my queen when he can manage just fine! Attack!"

Weevil watched as his Knight bowed to his Queen before racing towards Edwin. Once he attacked (and ensured that Edwin didn't have a spell card or some other effect waiting to try and halt things) he would then attack with the Insect Queen and end the duel.

'He merely prolonged the battle but there is nothing he can do now! My monster-'

The Insect Knight cried out as, mid leap over the spider-mite pile, Endymion's staff shot out and pierced him in the chest.

"WHAT?!" Weevil screamed in horror. "What… what have you done?!"

"Dealt with your web," Edwin said gruffly. "Endymion is the creator of Spell Counters… they heed and obey his command. By returning my Abductor to my hand and shifting her spell counters to him I was able to use the raw energy of that transfer to negate your Lair Wire and destroy it. Your mites didn't even get to scratch his armor. What you saw was an illusion… and in your haste to attack you didn't send your Insect Knight against me… you sent it against the Master of Magic!" Endymion easily rose back to his feet, the twitching form of the Insect Knight still impaled on his staff. With a violent thrust he flung the monster off, causing it to shatter. (Weevil-3100)

"Well done, Edwin!" Renard called out.

"And because you called off the attack by your Insect Queen she is now unable to attack my Magician. Leaving you with no other options but ending your turn."

'Curse him… curse him!' Weevil growled in his head. 'That damn grinning fool keeps making a mockery of me! He has made my queen look weak! This can't stand!' He looked over his hand. 'But I have little I can do at the moment. Though…' he smirked as his Queen laid an Insect Token Egg. "If you think that you will defeat me with more tricks… think again! Thanks to that Egg my Queen can now protect all my insects from all effects you might use!" He giggled. 'He'll have to burn an attack destroying that Egg and he has no monster that can stand against my Queen, meaning he'd have to sacrifice his Endymion to do so. And next turn I'll simply 'draw' another Parasite Paranoid from my sleeve and infect any monster he plays! Hehehe!'

Edwin drew and stared down Weevil before looking up at the Metamorphosed Insect Queen. "She truly is impressive, Weevil, I'll give you that." Weevil wanted to preen at the compliment but he knew… he just knew, that Edwin was building towards something. "I bet she'll be good trade fodder when I begin making deals. I'm sure there is someone who will want to have her in their deck, even if she belonged to a scrub that got booted out of two different tournaments within only an hour!"

"Edwin?" Renard called out, an amused smile on his lips. "Finishing it this soon, captain?"

"I am," Edwin said with a feral grin.

"You… you can!" Weevil exclaimed.

"I can," Edwin declared. "Watch carefully! First I set a second Endymion in my left most spell zone. The ghostly image of Endymion appeared. " Then I activate the evolution of my Spell Power Grasp!" Magic began to form in Endymion's open palm, crackling and twisting. "Behold the might of Spell Power Mastery! With this card I first can select one Endymion card and add it to my hand. But more importantly for every Grasp and Mastery on my field or in the graveyard I can add that many tokens to any monsters on the field! And I choose my Citadel!" More counters flowed into the Citadel, making it shine brightly so that many that were watching the duel had to shield their eyes. "And now… I think it's time I abuse the system and show you some true power! I remove 6 spell counters from my Citadel in order to summon my second Endymion, causing him to activate his special ability! With two cards with Spell Counters on the field I can now destroy both your queen and your token!"

Weevil though merely leered at Edwin. "Have you forgotten my Queen's effect? Her royal strength allows her to protect herself and her subjects from your effects!" The Queen began to glow even as the second Endymion took physical form and in one sweeping motion fired on the bugs. A barrier of sickly green energy swelled around her, blocking the strike.

"Heh." Edwin smirked. "And you… forgot about my first Endymion." The original mage threw out his hand, firing a second spell at the barrier that pierced it and struck the Queen right in the heart, causing her to twitch as she was suddenly lifted into the air. "When you activate an effect… such as one that blocks MY effect? My first Endymion can remove one card with a spell token from the field and negate it… then destroy that card."

"MY QUEEN!" Weevil screamed in terror as the first Endymion slammed his fist shut, causing the Queen to burst like a pimple raining onto the ground a shower of purple and green guts. "NO!"

"Yes. And with her gone so falls your barrier! Meaning that my second Endymion is now open to eliminate your token… leaving you open for a direct attack!"

"No…no please!" Weevil begged. "Not like this… not like this!"

"Pathetic," Edwin snarled, scorning Weevil and his whimpers. "Endymions, Magister… attack directly."

Weevil screamed as he was sent flying from the triple assault, falling to the ground in a heap. His cards went flutteringand his duel disc cracked against the sidewalk as he moaned, reaching out when he spotted his Metamophosed Insect Queen lying close by only for Renard's boot to press firmly on his wrist. (Weevil-0000)

"I believe… this belongs to my captain now. Along with your sole Locator Card."

"You… you can't do this!" Weevil whined only to squeal when Renard applied a bit more pressure.

"I can… and I have," Edwin said, crouching down and staring at Weevil. "You know what's sad, Weevil? There are so many duelists I have encountered that I've known could just be better. That could move away from the petty, pathetic little tricks and cheats and become respectable duelists. I've already helped some of them do just that. But you?" He shook his head. "There is no hope for you. Because you crave being in the mud and the dirt. It's where you belong." He stood back up before spotting Weevil's duel disc and, with a violet kick, shattered it into pieces. "Your time in this tournament is over, Weevil. Go find a log to hide in. The true predator has prey to hunt."

"You… you'll pay for this!" Weevil screamed as Edwin and Renard walked away, the former pocketing The Metamophosed Insect Queen and the Locator Card. "You'll pay!" He looked about wildly. "I'm the Intercontinental Champion! I'm the best duelist in the world! No one can face me!"

The crowd stared at him… before quietly walking away, leaving Weevil to hurl impotent threats as he crawled on the ground to gather up his spilled deck.

~MC~MC~MC~

'I hate this,' Yugi thought as he watched Joey stare at his hand, going over what cards he had before looking back up at the leering Rare Hunter. 'Poor Joey.'

'This is how it is for all duels,' the Pharaoh reminded him though. 'It is very rare for a duelist to know what cards their opponent might have within their deck.'

'I know but that Rare Hunter took advantage of Joey and stole his Red-Eyes and this was his chance to make that right. But now he's facing a strategy he knows nothing about!'

The Pharaoh's ghostly form appeared before Yugi, arms folded over his chest and his face stern. 'I feel for Joey, I truly do, but we must also have faith in him. He has learned much from Duelist Kingdom and now your grandfather. You must believe that he will be able to counter whatever this Rare Hunter throws at him and still manage to win. To do so is to belittle his skill.'

'I hope you're right,' Yugi said as Joey, realizing he had nothing else he could do, ended his turn.

"I could leave you strung along, not knowing what horrors wait in my deck which were selected just for you…" The Rare Hunter trailed off before smirking. "But I think it far better to crush you and your dreams right here and right now! So let us begin!" He drew a card and his smile grew all the wider. "Oh, how very perfect! I will start with this lovely! I discard my Necroworld Zombie to summon Jack-O-Bolan to the field!"

Yugi stared at the field, confused, as Pumpking the King of Ghosts appeared on the field. For a moment he wondered if the Rare Hunter had called the monster by the wrong name only for him to notice that the monster was… wrong. Pumpking had a living eye in its socket and pale yellow light that came from its mouth. Yet this monster had no eye and it seemed to be burning from within, ghostly blue flames shooting from its mouth and socket. The vines too weren't fresh but old and beginning to wither as it shook-

The pumpkin's top suddenly exploded as a great vine burst out, a skull wrapped around it. Other vines grabbed onto arm bones and forced them to connect to the pumpkin while another vine twisted into an organic scythe. And finally black shadows erupted from its back and took the form of blade-like wings as the skull's jaw flopped open and the zombie let loose a shriek that made the onlookers cover their ears in pain.

"What… what is that thing?!" Joey exclaimed.

"This is one of the eternal feuding rulers of the dark land of the undead… not the pathetic Ghost King that tries to claim to be the true master of corpses." The Rare Hunter's grin grew even larger. "Let me show you his home!" He tapped his graveyard. "By banishing my Banshee I am able to activate directly from my deck the field spell Zombie World!"

The sky suddenly darkened overhead and it took Yugi a moment to realize that the field spell was projecting a hazy midnight sky over them. Rotting trees burst from the rutted ground and in the distance he spotted a great looming tower that radiated decay. And then there were the bones… so many bones. Hundreds… no thousands of them. Of every creature that had ever been sent to the card graveyard. They covered all the dark soil and opened graves so that one could not have moved without wadding through bones.

"EEEEEE!" Joey squealed, lifting one leg up in worry before getting a hold of himself. "Well… so what? Ya think that's gonna bug me? I've faced off with Zombies before and I ain't afraid of 'em!"

"You haven't faced off with Zombies like this, Wheeler. Nor… have you controlled them."

"Wha?" Joey said only to let out a yelp as his Wyvern and his Baby Dragon cried out as the bones around them cut through their scales. The wounds quickly began to turn a disgusting green and Joey and Yugi watched on as the two monsters began to rot and decay. Eyes sunk into their skulls, muscle mass was lost, scales flaked away to reveal bone and desiccated organs. "What did ya do ta my monsters?!"

"This is the land of the dead, Wheeler!" The Rare Hunter informed him. "And only the dead may roam here. Any monster on your field or in your graveyard is instantly infected by the zombie virus, becoming a member of the undead themselves!"

"Be careful, Joey!" Yugi called out. "That means any cards that were designed to work with dragons can't be used now."

"Yeah, I know," Joey mumbled in annoyance.

"Oh, but I am far from done!" the Rare Hunter warned him. "I next activate Foolish Burial, allowing me to send from my deck the monster Zombie Master. But like all undead… he won't stay there for long. I activate the spell Mis-Timed!" The spell, which showed a clock going haywire, flashed on the field. "This allows me to force my monster to use an effect that normally can only be activated during your turn during mine. And I choose Jack-O-Bolan's summoning effect! By banishing Bolan until my End Phase I can bring forth one zombie from my graveyard to the field. Come forth Zombie Master!"

From a pile of bones the dried out husk of a mage appeared, cackling as he threw out his hands.

"Eesh, these guys keep gettin' uglier and uglier!" Joey complained.

"And he is not known for being the Zombie Master for nothing. By sending another Zombie Monster to the graveyard from my hand he can bring another back. And I choose Gozuki!" The beastial zombie appeared once more on the field. "Now then… Master, destroy the Wyvern!"

"But they are evenly matched!" Joey exclaimed.

"Indeed, they will both be destroyed and my Master banished from the game… but even being exorcized will not cause my zombie to remain gone for long." The two monsters clashed and were instantly reduced to a pile of guts and bones that joined with the piles around them. "And I still have my Gozuki who will destroy your Red-Eyes Baby Dragon!" The beast zombie bellowed and raised his hammer, slamming it down on the Baby… only for a roar to echo all around them. "WHAT?!"

"heh," Joey said, smiling for the first time since he'd realized his foe was using a different deck. "Ya ain't the only one that can summon monsters like mad." He pointed to his baby dragon, who was cowering under the hammer that was about to crush it. "See… that little guy is a baby… and mama is always around to protect her chicks. When you threatened him it allowed me to summon from my deck another Red-Eyes monster. One of my strongest." Joey ran his thumb over the tip of his nose. "Ya thought my Red-Eyes Black Dragon was my most powerful dragon? Think again… I got plenty of others! Like this!" He took a card from his deck and slapped it onto his duel disc. "Come on out Red-Eyes Black Flare Dragon!"

The dragon that leapt forth from the flames that suddenly burst out from the pits of Zombie World had Yugi thinking for a moment that Joey had somehow been able to reclaim his Red-Eyes Black Dragon. The drake was very similar to the original Red-Eyes and it was clear that they were close relations with each other. But much like how Jack-O-Bolan was the Pumpking consumed by the fires of Zombie World the Flare Dragon was burning from the inside out as well only his flames were orange to the point of near yellow. The crimson of the eyes glowed and the wings were superheated, letting loose bursts of flames every once and a while as it let out a challenging roar.

"And here is where things get even better!" Joey said with a smirk. "Because it was called forth by my Baby Dragon the little tyke becomes an equip that increases my Flare Dragon to 2700 attack points!" The baby dragon's head popped up behind the Flare Dragon and let out a squeaky roar of its own. "Two can play at your game, Rare Hunter!"

"You are a child trying to copy me. Nothing more." The Rare Hunter's Jack-O-Bolan reappeared on his field in defense mode. "And don't forget that the curse of Zombie World remains in effect!" The Flare dragon roared as its scaled slopped off its body, leaving it a skeletal dragon held together only by dark magic and flame.

"Eh, that won't stop me one bit! First I set one card face down on the field and then summon my Flare Dragon."

The crowd murmured around them, confused at what Joey was doing seeing as he'd already summoned his Flare Dragon. Yugi however knew that when Pegasus had released all those decks into the world it had brought about all new manner of summoning. He himself had something called Xyz Summoning cards in his Dark Magician deck and a Synchro Summoned Dragon in his Buster Blader deck. Thus it didn't surprise him that Joey had a summoning technique he'd never heard of before.

The crowd was silenced when the Red-Eyes Black Flare Dragon lived up to its name and the flames that were flickering on its wings turned ebony and roared to life.

"Alright, time ta show ya what my monster can do! Red-Eyes Black Flare Dragon attack his Gozuki with with Nova Fire Blast!" The Flare dragon roared and fired off a stream of plasma that reduced the zombie to ashes. "Now, that's 1000 life points from ya… but then my Red-Eyes Black Flare Dragon's effect kicks in! Its flames are so hot they burn away your lifepoints equal to his original attack!"

'Amazing!' The Pharaoh said in awe as the fires spun around the Rare Hunter, causing him to shield himself. 'In one move Joey has nearly defeated the Rare Hunter!'

'I should have never doubted him,' Yugi admitted (Rare Hunter-600)

"Ya know, I'm willin' ta be nice. If ya surrender now and just hand me back my Red-Eyes and ya locator card I won't demand your whole deck."

The Rare Hunter though merely smiled. "Don't be so sure you have the day won, Wheeler. These lands are filled with darkness and danger and hope is a deadly thing to have." With that he quietly banished his Jack-O-Bolan again, this time summoning the zombie Mezuki, another bestial zombie, from his hand to the field. Bolan quickly returned when Joey ended his turn, leaving it now in the Rare Hunter's hands to control what happened next. "Now then, I activate the card Pot of Greed, drawing two cards. Next, I activate Zombie Necronize!"

Yugi leaned back as the pale blue flames of Zombie World suddenly swirled around the Red-Eyes Black Flare Dragon, dousing its own fires… before causing it to slowly turn and glare at Joey.

"Wha… what gives?" Joey stammered.

"Zombie Necronize allows me to use the fires of Zombie World to take control of a zombie on your side of the field if I control a level 5 or higher zombie monster. So for my turn your Black Flare Dragon becomes mine, leaving you wide open for defeat!"

"JOEY!" Yugi cried out as Bolan, Mezuki, and the puppeted Red-Eyes Flare Dragon all turned on his friend.

"Now your deck belongs to me, Wheeler!"

"Activate my facedown!" Joey cried out quickly. "Red-Eyes Spirit!" From the grave of bones his Wyvern arose, quickly infected but still there. "With it in defense mode my lifepoints are protected and you won't be able to end the duel. And next turn I'll get back my Red-Eyes Black Flare Dragon and finish what I started last time!" He wagged his finger. "Sorry pal but I'm not going to be that easy to defeat!"

The Rare Hunter though only leered back. "Oh Wheeler… you misunderstand. I keep telling you I have no desire to merely defeat you… I need to BREAK you. And I do so with this!" He held up a card.

"No!" Yugi cried out. "It can't be!"

"My Red-Eyes!" Joey exclaimed.

"The very same! I tribute my Mezuki and your Red-Eyes Black Flare Dragon to summon forth the Red-Eyes Black Dragon!"

~MC~MC~MC~

"My Red-Eyes…" Joey whispered in horror as he saw the dragon appear on the field. 'I'd forgotten what it was like to stare it down,' he thought to himself as the Zombie World infected it, causing the beast to tremble as it began to rot, corruption swiftly mobbing up and down its form. 'I remember when I first saw it,' he thought as visions of his duel with Rex flashed through his head. 'It was only my second professional duel and I'd never faced a monster like it before. Sure, Mai was a tough opponent but having that dragon stare me down… man, I thought I was toast. It was only by risking using my Time Wizard… and risking LOSING my Time Wizard… that I was able ta win the duel and claim Red-Eyes. And that dragon has helped me out a ton. That's why… no matter what… I have ta get it back.'

Joey looked down at his graveyard and suddenly smiled.

'And I think I know just how ta start.' Out loud he said. "Before ya go any further I need to deal with my Baby Dragon."

"What are you talking about Wheeler? That infant was sent to the graveyard along with your Flare Dragon."

"Exactly. When the Baby Dragon goes to da graveyard I get ta add one Level 1 monster from my deck ta my hand." A card popped out of his deck and Joey happily took it.

"Hmmm, I'm not afraid of one card. Especially when I'm able to summon monsters myself far better than you! First I banish Mezuki from my graveyard to resummon Gozuki!" The beastial zombie appeared on the field. "And then, thanks to Gozuki's effect, I can send one monster from my deck to the graveyard. It can wait there for now while I attack your Wyvern with Mezuki!" The beast zombie roared and charged, easily slicing through Joey's weaker Wyvern.

"That leaves me open for a direct attack!" Joey said, taking a step back.

"Indeed! Red-Eyes Black Dragon, attack Wheeler's lifepoints directly!"

The Red-Eyes snarled before unleashing a fireball made of a mix of its own flames and underworld fires. Joey cried out as the blast struck, tensing as his life points trickled down. (Joey-1600)

"Hang in there, Joey!" Yugi called out even as Bolan returned to the field. "You still have more livepoints than him! And your deck has a lot more monsters left within it!"

'Maybe Yug but I'm not for sure if I'm gonna have enough time ta summon one.' He looked over the field. 'With the way this duel is goin' every time I come up with somethin' that Rare Hunter manages counter it. Man, why did I have ta open my big mouth? I'm gonna lose my entire deck…' He lowered his head, taking a calming breath. 'No, I can't think like that. I just have ta keep fightin' and get out of this mess! For everyone!' Looking back up he drew his next card. 'Hey… this might actually work! I'll need to be careful when I use it though…' Out loud he said, "I set the Black Stone of Legend in Defense mode and set this card, endin' my turn." The stone appeared, cracked and weathered and covered with the webs and moss of the Zombie World.

"So you've been reduced to weak defenses to try and stall, Wheeler? I'm afraid it won't do you any good! My horde is gaining on you and soon your dueling career will be as dead as them! Now then, I will use Bolan's effect once again, summoning Isodle Belle of the Underworld in defense mode." A ghostly maiden appeared, smirking at Joey before kneeling amongst the bones. "And now my Gokuki will attack your last line of defense!" The zombie easily cut the stone in two, shattering it. "And now you fail, Wheeler and your deck is mine!"

"Not so fast, bud!" Joey said, holding up a card. "I activate Red-Eyes Retro Dragon!" The ghostly image of a primordial Red-Eyes appeared. It was younger, weaker than the true Red-Eyes… but Joey didn't need it for its strength. "This card activates when you destroy one of my Red-Eyes Monsters-"

"But I didn't!" the Rare Hunter complained.

"Except ya did! The Black Stone of Legend is actually a Red-Eyes egg… within there is a young Red-Eyes waitin' ta hatch. And while it might not have gotten the chance that chick was enough to trigger my Retro Dragon!" A ghostly clock appeared behind Joey. "When I activate Retro Dragon he summons himself to the field and then rewinds things back ta the start of the battle phase on my side of the field only, returnin' the Black Stone of Legend to da field!" The stone returned even as the Retro Dragon landed and began to zombify.

The Rare Hunter let out a growl of frustration and ordered his Red-Eyes Black Dragon to destroy the Retro dragon, his Bolan returning to the field.

'That was close but I have ta do more than set up defenses. That creep has hardly any lifepoints left so if I can just find a way to blast through'em I'll get the win. But that means figurin' out some way to deal with his monsters.' Drawing Joey considered his options before nodding to himself. "Alright, here we go! First I'll tribute my Stone to summon from my deck the Meteor Dragon Red-Eyes Impact!" A stony dragon wreathed in flames appeared on the field and while there was a bit of decay added to him thanks to Zombie World Joey wasn't really concerned with that. "And since that was a special summon I can still normal summon this Red-Eyes Baby Dragon in defense mode." The little guy appeared, squeaking even as he was zombified. "Now Meteor Dragon, attack his Gozuki! Impact blitz!" The Meteor Dragon rose in the air before hurdling downward rapidly, crashing into Gozuki and shattering it." (Hunter-300)

"What to go, Joey!" Yugi cheered. "You nearly have him!"

"Oh I'm afraid he has not even come close to defeating me. In fact… he has played right into my trap."

"A wha?" Joey said in co nfusion. I"I think ya haven't done ya math right there Hunter… even if ya destroy my Meteor Dragon I'm still ready ta clean the floor with ya!"

"But you don't understand, Wheeler," the Rare Hunter taunted, leaning forward and leering at Joey. "Everything I have done so far has been building to this very moment. The moment when I truly break you!" He gestured at Joey's Red-Eyes that he still kept firm control of. "The Red-Eyes Black Dragon is known for its potential. How it can evolve and change into so many different new forms. And I am about to show you its most terrible one! First I activate Jack-O-Bolan's effect, allowing me to banish him for the rest of my turn thanks to my Mis-Timed Spell still being in effect in order to summon my Plaguespreader Zombie from my graveyard."

The bloated carcass that pulled himself from the bornyard dripped with fluids as it stared at Joey, letting out a guttural moan as it did so. From its body wafted dark energy, every step causing it to lose bits of itself that somehow worked to transform the area around it into an even worse zombie playground. It had clearly tried to continue on, to make itself whole again after parts of it had rotted away, but the result was far worse than the original desecration. Mismatched limbs stolen from different animals and hastily stitched onto the gooey purple torso. A head that was little more than a lump on its shapeless chest with holes where its eyes and nose and mouth might have been… or perhaps it had simply dug such holes into another part of its body in a desperate attempt to reshape itself, not realizing how horribly it had failed. A curse and vile thing that all should have run from.

"Now then, I use Isodele's special ability, which allows her to alter the level of one monster on the field. And I select my own Red-Eyes Black Dragon!"

"Why… why would you do that?" Joey exclaimed as his dragon shrank down in stature if not in strength.

"Because now with it being level 5 I can merge it with my Plaguespreader Zombie and transform it into its ultimate corrupted form! I Synchro Symmon the Red-Eyes Necro Zombie Dragon!"

The Plaguespreader leapt at the Red-Eyes-Black Dragon, its sticky goo-like form coating over the Red-Eyes who roared before the fluids hardened and left it in a purple shell… that slowly began to crack and break after a moment to unleash a new nightmare.

The creature that burst free of the shell could only be considered a zombie. There would be no mistaking it for anything else. The once shining black scales had become gray in color and worn like ancient tree bark and where they were peeling away revealed purple muscles and long dried up veins. A massive hole was situated in its chest, right where its heart should have been, and in this chasm the fires of Zombie World burned fully. One eye was completely gone and the other was merely burning red flames. When it opened its mouth and roared it let out such a broken sound that was more like the wind rattling through a long abandoned cave.

"Behold the monument to your failure, Joey Wheeler!" the Rare Hunter laughed. "The Red-Eyes Necro Zombie Dragon! The lord of Zombie World and the one that will bury all your hopes and dreams and leave you too a soulless husk!"

"Hang on Joey!" Yugi called out.

"There is nothing he can do!" The Rare Hunter taunted. "For behold my Zombie Dragon's special ability: For every zombie in either graveyard and on the field his attack is increased by 100 points! More than enough to slay your Meteor Dragon and bring you crashing down!" The Rare Hunter laughed. "It is over, Joey Wheeler! Soon your deck will belong to me, allowing me to convert each and every one of your monsters into a zombie that will defeat more duelists, destroying their dreams as well! A chain leading on forever and back to you because you failed!"

Joey dropped his head and closed his eyes.

"I activate Quick Attack, allowing my Red-Eyes Necro Zombie Dragon to attack with Eternal Fire Blast!"

The beast reared back, blue flames gathering in its mouth.

"Kunai with Chain!" Joey suddenly cried out.

"WHAT?!" The Rare Hunter exclaimed as Joey's forgotten Trap Card activated, the bladed chain weapon racing out and wrapped around the Necro Zombie Dragon and forcing it to fall to its knees.

"What's the matter?" Joey said with a smirk, head snapping right back up. "Wasn't expectin' me to actually put up a fight? Too bad for you I don't know the meanin' of the word 'give up'!"

"That's it Joey!" Yugi cheered.

"Now then, my Kunai with Chain not only forces your Necro Zombie Dragon into defense mode for this turn but it also powers up my Meteor Dragon Red-Eyes Impact to 2400! More than enough to take on any other zombie ya might bring out!"

"Only a delay," the Rare Hunter warned. "My next turn I'll return it into attack mode and have it crush your pathetic defense. And with Bolan returning-" the Pumpking Monster returned, "-I can just keep adding more zombies to power him up!"

"Yeah, about that," Joey said with a smirk as he drew, "'fraid ya ain't gettin' any next turns as I'm endin' this duel right now!"

"Ending this duel? Are you delusional?

"Not at all!" Joey declared. "First I activate Mystical Space Typhoon, which allows me ta destroy one spell card on the field! And I choose ya Zombie World!" A great wind ripped through the playing field, causing the bones that littered the ground to tinkle… and then crack and crumble, and then be rendered into dust. The flames went out, the clouds were driven away, and the Tower collapsed as the field was destroyed and the monsters were left standing in the middle of Domino again. "And thanks ta your field spell bein' gone that means that the infection has been cured and my dragons become dragons again!"

"That's the way to do it Joey! Way to use your head!"

"Thanks Yug but I ain't done yet!" Joey held up a card. "I activate Monster Reborn!"

"Resurrection? Now you are merely stealing from my own strategies, Wheeler," the Hunter mockingly told him. "And pathetically at that. What monster is there in your graveyard that can help you? Your Black Flare? I already defeated that once and I will do so again next turn."

"Nah… see, ya claim that you've corrupted my Red-Eyes. But that shell… that ain't my Red-Eyes. That's just a husk that don't realize it's already dead. It ain't the real deal. THIS is the real deal! Come on out Red-Eyes Black Dragon!"

A bellow filled the air as light swirled from the card graveyard and Joey's Red-Eyes Black Dragon roared as it appeared on the field, staring down its zombie counterpart. Flames gushed from its mouth as it narrowed its eyes, tensing and ready for battle. The crowd watching the duel all murmured at the sight of the fully formed and 'alive' Red-Eyes while the Rare Hunter took a step back in shock.

"That's not possible!" he declared. "He's mine!"

"Monster Reborn lets me take from either graveyard, ya crook, so I simply took back what really belongs to me. And now I'm gonna show you the true power and evolution of Red-Eyes!" Joey selected another card from his hand. "I activate Polymerization, fusin' my Red-Eyes Black Dragon and my Meteor Dragon Red-Eyes Impact in order ta summon the Meteor Black Comet Dragon!"

The two monsters swirled together, flames bursting all around them before the new dragon appeared on the field. The Red-Eyes Black Dragon had nearly doubled in size and its scales were shined to near black diamond quality. Running under them was a blazing inferno while its claws glowed molten hot and veins of lava ran through its wings. Rising in the air it hovered over the battlefield, snarling as it barely controlled the fires in its belly.

"Impressive," the Rare Hunter managed to get out, clearly shaken at first but slowly regaining his courage and bravado. "But it won't do you any good. Fusion monsters can't attack the turn they are summoned, meaning all this was simply a pretty show. On my next turn I will fill my graveyard up with more zombies to power up my Necro Dragon and he will easily consume your Comet Dragon!"

"Heh."

"What was that?" the Rare hunter asked. "Laughter? Have you finally lost your mind due to the danger you are in and can't escape?"

"Nah man, I'm laughin' because you still don't get how the Red-Eyes works. Its all about potential, figurin' out how to grow and evolve. I mean yeah, back in Duelist Kingdom ya might have had a point… but this is the evolved form of my Black Meteor Dragon… and he comes with all sorts of bells and whistles… like this one." Joey drew a card from his deck. "My dragon is able to take the power of one Red-Eyes monster I send ta the graveyard and inflict half its attack as burn damage right ta you, bypassing any monsters you have on the field."

"no… no!" the Hunter exclaimed, realizing that with only 300 lifepoints left nearly every monster Joey had in his deck would be able to defeat him.

"Ya were too focused on trying ta make me hurt, ta break me or whatever ya want to call it. Ya should have been focused on the duel. But I guess that's why ya have ta resort ta cheap tricks and ambushes in order ta defeat people. Cuss ya can't do it on your own. Now then, Meteor Black Comet Dragon, use the power of the Red-Eyes Retro Dragon and take out this punk!"

The Rare Hunter screamed as the Red-Eyes Fusion summoned a flurry of comets to bombard him, causing him to go flying as his lifepoints drained away (Rare Hunter-0000)

"Now then," Joey said, walking over to the Rare Hunter as he lay on the ground, "I believe that ya owe me my Red-Eyes back along with your entire deck and ya Locator Card."

"No… no you can't do this!" He glared at Joey, faced twisted into a snarl. "I won't."

"You will." Joey turned to see Yugi approaching but from the way he was walking he knew that it was the Pharaoh in the driver's seat. "You and Joey made a deal and you won't weasel your way out of it, Rare Hunter." His puzzle glowed for a moment and he thrust out his hand. "You will release your deck to Joey along with his Red-Eyes or face punishment for disrespecting the game."

"I… no!" the Rare Hunter cried out, grabbing his head. "I… I…" Suddenly he jerked up, startling Joey and Yugi as his body began to twitch, face vacant and expressionless when he finally turned to look at them, the Millennium Symbol appearing on his forehead. "You want the deck? Take it. This one has failed me."

"Uh, Yug? What's up with Freaky Deaky here?"

"The Rare Hunter is no longer in control. We face his master." The Pharaoh narrowed his eyes. "Isn't that so… Marik?"

"Ah, so little Yugi told you about me, did he Pharaoh?" Marik said through the Rare Hunter's distorted voice.

"He and Edwin did," the Pharaoh confirmed. "I have heard all about your twisted desires to defeat me and take over the world. And I won't let them come to pass."

"You act as if you have a choice. While it is impressive that your friend there was able to defeat my Rare Hunter he was the weakest member of my organization. The other Hunters I had seeded throughout Battle City are far stronger… and far more motivated to defeat you."

"What is that supposed ta mean?" Joey asked.

"It means that I have power you can't comprehend, Joey Wheeler… or perhaps you can. I am able to grant one's deepest desire and all that is required is to pledge yourself to me and help me defeat the Pharaoh. What is it you wish for, Joey? What do you long for? Betray your friend and claim his Puzzle and I will give it to you now!"

"I want ya ta shove off and never return, how about that?"

Marik merely chuckled at that. "Lacking in vision… why am I not surprised?"

The Pharaoh stepped forward. "Enough of this Marik… how are you controlling this man?"

"The Millennium Items each grant unique powers. The ability to manipulate the minds of the weak is simple with the power of my Millennium Rod. With it I have taken control of this fool's body and banished his mind to the Shadow Realm!"

"No good can come of such power," the Pharaoh said sternly. "I know all about your plot, Marik! You seek my puzzle and the Egyptian God cards. I won't let you have either."

"They were never yours to hold! I control two of the Egyptian God Cards already and the Puzzle will soon belong to me!"

"No, it will not," the Pharaoh said, pointing at Marik's Hunter Puppet. "I will not stand by while you ruin lives. I will defeat you and ensure that you never return."

"And he'll have help."

Joey and the Pharaoh turned to see Edwin and Renard walking towards them, the bearded duelist smirking as he started down the Rare Hunter. "Remember me, Marik?" Edwin asked before allowing his eyes to go black and gold, the Millennium Key emerging from his chest. "Things keep getting worse for you each time I meet one of your Rare Hunters. I could have forgiven the warehouse… but you tried to ruin date night and I don't take kindly to that."

"Edwin Chaos," Marik growled. "You were a fool not to accept my offer and now you'll play just like the Pharaoh!"

"Tell me," Edwin said with a smirk, "do you impress anyone with that speech or do they all yawn and roll their eyes?"

"Joke all you want, Chaos, but you and the Pharaoh will both pay. I will claim his magical power and use it to destroy you!"

"…magical power?" He shook his head and let out an amused huff. "You don't actually have a plan, do you? You just decided one day to be evil and didn't think about it before-" Marik, clearly annoyed, released his hold on the Rare Hunter, causing him to collapse with his butt sticking up in the air. "…There is a joke here, I just know it."

"Man, that was weird," Joey said.

"Not weird, Joey… dangerous," The Pharaoh said sternly.

Renard nodded. "The ability to control one's thoughts… I understand now why you locked our minds, Captain."

Edwin nodded. "And I still need to do you, Joey."

"Say what now?" Joey asked only to freeze up when Edwin looked at him. "Eesh, can ya turn off the eye thing?"

Edwin blinked. "Sorry… intimidation trick. Works well enough."

The Pharaoh spoke up. "You mean you can lock one's mind, protecting them from Marik's item?"

"I can," Edwin said. "Pegasus' eye couldn't breech the defense I created so I'd say Marik can't either. I already did Mai, Yuri, and Renard and I did my Uncle when he was asleep so they're all safe. Tea and Tristan too." He looked right at Joey. "Because Marik is the type of monster that will try and use your friends against you."

"Ya… ya think so Ed?"

"I do."

Joey swallowed. "Alright then… can't say I-" Edwin quickly pressed the Millennium Key into Joey's head, turned it, and pulled it out. "…that's it?"

"That's all. Your mind is now locked and remains your own. Marik can't control it with the Millennium Rod."

"Well… that was easy!" Joey said before looking down at the Rare Hunter's prone form. "My Red-Eyes!" He quickly grabbed the hunter's cards and began to go through them before he finally found his precious card. "Come back ta papa!" He slipped his Red-Eyes back into his deck only to frown as he stared at the Zombie deck in his hand.

"What is it, Joey?"

"I don't know… don't feel right ta take this whole deck. I know I won it but…"

"No deck is evil or good, Joey," the Pharaoh said. "You proved that when the Rare Hunter tried to turn your Red-Eyes against you. It is the duelist that determines how to use a card, not the other way around."

Edwin coughed.

"Take that deck Joey and use it. Make it your secondary deck and when the time is right show that it can be just as much a force for good as it was for evil."

"Yeah… yeah, I guess you're right!" He took the Rare Hunter's deck box and slipped the Zombie Deck inside, clipping it to his belt. "Hey Ed? Can me and Yug have a moment?" Edwin nodded, him and Renard walking away. "You too, Pharaoh. If… well…"

"It's fine, Joey," the Pharaoh said and after a flash of magic Yugi was standing there once more. "What is it Joey?"

"I want ta thank ya for letting me duel that creep on my own. I know Rex and Mai back in Duelist Kingdom claimed you were always helping me and looking back… they were right. I do need to do this on my own if I want to be a true duelist. That's why…" he went through his deck and pulled out a card, "I want ta give this back ta ya."

"The Time Wizard?" Yugi said in surprise.

Joey shuffled nervously. "Yeah… he represents the old Joey. I need to move beyond him." He paused and smiled. "Besides, I used him more than you so now its like a piece of my deck is with ya!"

Yugi considered that before reaching into his pocket. "You know, with my decks the way they are I really don't have a use for this card." He pulled out Summoned Skull. "And I know that the Black Skull Dragon was a really powerful fusion monster."

"Hey!" Joey said with a grin, taking the card. "That's right… and now I can add him to my arsenal!"

"And a part of my deck will be with you too." The two friends shook hands. "We're going to take down Marik and the Rare Hunters, Joey. Nothing is going to stop us."

"IT'S CREEPY YOU ARE DOING THAT NEXT TO A CORPSE!" Edwin called out and Yugi and Joey both leapt back as they remembered the Rare Hunter's body was still lying on the ground. "SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS CITY THAT NO ONE REPORTED A DEAD BODY YET?!"