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Yu-Gi-Oh! Cosmic Path [IC/PG-16]

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Kendra let out a tiny cough as she turned her attention towards the screen. Sai's duel ended... Quickly. Truth be told, that was not what she expected. He was usually... Flashier than this, maybe something got into his head while she had been busy tweaking her own deck. She let out a little breath, shaking her head gently, before returning to focus on the other duels.

Eve was steadily making progress...

Even if she was only about to win on a technicality.

Kendra let out a tiny sigh as she rubbed at her cheek, the opponent made one of the classic blunders, one that she sees all too often. She just shook her head for a moment, not really sure what to do with her deck at this point. With the duels starting to approach their inevitable ends, she started to pack up the cards she brought, a little breath escaping her as she glimpsed the note from Rosalia once more.


"Me personally...I think you three did great out there. And really, if you want to look at it...we technically didn't lose this match up. I mean, it's not a win but it's also not a loss...so I'd call that an accomplishment too!"

Kendra propped her head up on the arm of her seat as she lazily yawned, waiting for Daichi to finish, before starting to speak, "...I won't pretend it was perfect." She glanced up for a moment, her voice soft spoken again as she did, "But it wasn't worst case scenario. We tied, didn't lose, that's the most important thing. It might have been on a technicality, a misplay, whatever you want to call it, but we didn't get a loss here."

She glanced towards Eve, giving her a small smile as she did, "I don't know how your opponent made such a blatant mistake, but we take those, yeah?" She laughed gently, before rubbing at her neck gently, "...Rosalia, you did what you had to do. I respect that. I appreciate you taking the bullet here, because... I don't think I would have pulled through that match with a tie."

"Whether his card would've won him the game or not is irrelevant to me. It was a gamble and if you were unlucky, we would've been out of luck. You did exactly what you said you would."

Whether that was a good thing or not, Kendra wasn't sure.

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Rosalia had entered the box with a serene expression on her face that belied the extreme gauntlet the team had just faced. She hadn't said anything upon entering the box, she had merely walked to a chair and softly sat down, brushing her hair back behind her ears as she looked over Eve and Sai. The latter she looked at only out of the corner of her eye, not daring to meet his expression directly, as if he were a hornet's nest she expected to pop the second he was pressed. She and him would have to figure out where they went next from here on out, and they both already knew it. She saw little reason to remind him of it in front of the group.

After Daichi and Kendra, there was a brief moment of quiet before Rosalia finally decided that, as the highest-ranking team member of the three, she owed them some responsibility to speak first, which was against character for her.

"... I definitely think we were on the cusp of that draw turning into a victory. If I had managed to circumvent any one of his moves in particular, that could have been the difference. We've done very well today, especially for a team as skilled as Team Free. You saw their rankings, how high they were, I dare say we were considerably less favored than a draw." 

She turned to Eve, bowing her head slightly. "And on that note, just because one of their team members made a mistake doesn't undercut the skill of his opponent. You did very well out there, Eve, I don't want anyone to forget that." 

She took a long, slow breath, giving everyone a small, slight smile. "Not a win, but not something to be sad about, surely? Well... We can go over the technical side of the duels at the next meeting, or earlier if any of you want to connect with me earlier in the week... After all, they would take so long to go over, mine in particular. Kendra?" She fished in her bag for a moment before producing a small folded wallet. "Take this, would you? Drinks are on me tonight. I just need to freshen up, the rest of you go on ahead; I'll catch up."

So saying, she stood, breezily walking to the entrance of the small bathroom at the edges of the box, giving one last meek smile to the group as she closed it behind her.

She didn't turn on the light inside. Just stood there, silent, one hand behind her on the smooth door. Slowly she leaned back against it, sliding down to rest on the ground in a sitting position, staring sightlessly at the unlit floor below her as she slowly wrapped her hands over her knees to stop them from trembling. 

There was only one thing she was convinced of: The crowd. She hated it. Only now, away from that great rattling tide of noise was that thought clear and present in her head. She didn't understand how people like Sai and Daichi stood so brazen in the face of its enormity. Duels to her were the only place where everything made sense and had order to her. The crowd had disrupted that completely, not to mention her opponent.

He was the first opponent in quite some time who had proved a true challenge to Rosalia. She still couldn't believe that after the sloppy performance she had shown that she had managed to squeak away with a draw, a draw! She felt more as if her life points had been reduced to zero thrice over, after the hellish gauntlet the team had endured out there a gauntlet where their most unpopular player had lost and where supposedly their most competetent had barely managed to throw herself back from the brink. Coming back to the box to find that Vega hadn't even remained for the entirety of the match had almost been too much. She was fortunate she'd managed to wait until she was alone to fall to pieces like this. 

She raised a hand to brush her hair from her eyes. With frustration she saw that it was still trembling. Would things have been different under other circumstances? Could she have held against Jonathan if she were able to concentrate, even turn the tide and attain a victory? Thank god for Eve. Otherwise it would have been the first loss on Team Genesis's record. And under her leadership. And all her fault.

This reminded her of Jonathan's last words. A discussion? Practice? What did practice even look like to a duelist of his caliber? To a duelist of Charlie Robin's caliber? 

If it means I could ever duel like that... I wouldn't ever lose in this league.

She stood, finally turning on the lights and almost frightening herself with her reflection. Her pale gray eyes looked haggard and frightened. This more than anything finally started inspiring the desire in her to pull herself together.

The others already will have their confidence in me shaken... I have to put on a brave face for them, she told herself sternly, forcing a smile onto her face in the mirror. I'm their captain. Like he said. I have to lead.

It was another ten minutes before she was satisfied enough with it to follow after her team.

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Falisha had remained uncharacteristically quiet as her teammates discussed things, even after all was said and done, seemingly lost in thought for a good portion of it, "Y'know... we're a team yeah but even our decks kind of scream to everyone how different we are from eachother, huh? It's not the same in a single duel where all you have to rely on is your own luck and tactics and come what may. In these types of team duels your defeat can be overcome by another teammate's victory and vice-versa. That draw definitely showed that well today. I think all of you did wonderfully and know what mistakes you made and have already identified them. Uhm... this might... well..."

She frowned and glanced to the side, "Look, this doesn't have to be a loss forever. We can all get better and understand our decks more and... well look. I may not be able to play your decks but... I want to support all of you as best as I can."

She hated how tense she felt as she was speaking.

She hated having to try and comfort her team.

She hated seeing them be down and knowing how little she could do.

Seeing as her teammates weren't machines she could crack open with a wrench to fix the shortcomings they might be having, Falisha switched to her arguably worst skillset: The spoken word. "Just... I hope you all had fun. That's what I know I joined for and it's what I hope the rest of you are having. Hell you guys know how much I tend to be scraping by money-wise, I live in a run-down apartment and splurge way more than I should on my Duel Runner. But it's because I have fun with all of you and think that you're amazing at what you're doing. That's what I think matters. And I think you all deserve to be told good job. Now let's not sulk when we did that well and celebrate this memory and any future memories that will shape into the brilliant gemstones of our careers. After all... a Genesis has to come into it's own being eventually, right?"

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The duels were over, and the results were... a tie? Evelyn had to admit, she never expected to have one of those as part of a team dueling career, let alone in the wake of her very first professional duel. As for her own performance, she had to admit in hindsight that she was quite pleased! She very much did not deserve that win, but as Kendra had said, she took those. Against a more competent and attentive foe, she wouldn't have stood a snowball's chance in hell of winning that duel. She had to work out better strategies and combos, among other things.

She'd be lying if she said she had much to chip in with regarding the team's overall performance. As much as she really was impressed by this unlikely outcome, "congratulations on getting a tie" didn't exactly sound encouraging, and everyone here was surely professional enough to look back and weed out their own mistakes themselves. But it would probably be even worse to just stand there saying nothing. It would be weak, but the attempt would certainly be there.

"Well... good job, everyone. It certainly could have gone a lot worse."

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Sai lounged on the couch, forming an X in front of his face with his crossed fingers. His breathing was measured, as he played through the duel several times in his head. While he didn't see any blatant misplays on his part, it was quite clear why he lost.

"I played too conservatively." By this point the rest of his team was in the room. "It's quite simple, really. My planned conclusion was further out than the duel lasted. While I thwarted multiple attempts of theirs to take me out, I accomplished very little of my own in that time, and while I do think I would have had an assured victory on my next turn, that turn never came." His tone was careful, and he spoke slower than usual, stone faced and motionless.

"I suppose that I was starstruck. Charlie is a duelist that I personally look up to. I consider them to be the best fusion duelist in the world, regardless of rank. This prevented me from catching the chinks in the armor. Perhaps if I did not focus on defense I could have snuck a win on my second, or perhaps third turns. It's hard to say."

Abruptly, Sai stood up, once again towering over everyone else in the room, "In any case, I don't think our teammates' victories should be understated," shifting his eyes toward Rosalia, he added, "and your duel was a victory, despite whatever you may think." His expression turned pensive for a second, "I may have lost on this day, and the loss was a heavy one. But I learned quite a lot in every play, from both them and myself." Staring out the window, he smiled softly, "I have so much more to show all of you. Not even Vega has seen everything I am capable of."


In a flash, Sai had positioned himself between Evelyn and Rosalia, placing a hand on a shoulder of each. "How will we celebrate the day's rising stars? Dinner is my own treat, it's only fair after my loss!"

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As the day came to an end, Vega found her way home, after running into Rosalia. After a brief conversation, Vega gave her blessing for the captain to miss the next meeting, and wished her well. After settling in for the night at home, she pulled out a binder and flipped through it, glancing at the cards and photographs throughout with a sigh.

"Now, what can I do to cheer them up...?"


Tuesday, February 2:15 PM

When the team arrived to the meeting, the team would find a fairly short girl with long, sky-blue hair falling straight to her hips at the whiteboard, humming to herself as she looked over all the doodles that Vega had made during meetings, giggling at them. When the first of the team approached, she turned around with a smile, nodding her head ever so slightly.

"Ah, nice to meet you! I'm Adrian, Vega's girlfriend. Y'know, she talks about you guys quite a bit."

"Oh, she talks about the rest of the team, too?" Rather than boastful, Sai appeared genuinely surprised, "and I know who you are, I did some cursory research on your old team."

"Of course she talks about all of you! This team means a lot to her, y'know? As for knowing me, well... I suppose that was to be expected, even if I haven't been relevant in years," the girl hummed as she smiled, her pink eyes flitting about, as if taking the room in for the first time, "Well, she asked me to come here ahead of her so that I could inform you that she has a surprise... aaand to inform you all that your captain will be absent. She had matters to attend to otherwise. If there's anything you guys normally do to prep, I haven't the foggiest, so would you mind handling that? I'd appreciate it a lot!"

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Saturday, February 29

"How will we celebrate the day's rising stars? Dinner is my own treat, it's only fair after my loss!"

"Hmmm, you treating us? Truly this is unorthodox, my dear theater buff." Daichi snickered. "Then again, perhaps we'll be expecting this every time you lose...cause it may not happen all the time, buuuuuuuuut we may get lucky!"

Whatever the case was where they went, Daichi was sure that the team would enjoy themselves. Still, the loss of Sai...in an Action Duel...it still resided heavily in the front of his mind. Just meant the next time he was up at bat, that he had to do more than Sai did...to make sure the audience was captivated and make sure to get them into the experience. And with his two new cards...Daichi had a good feeling about the next time he'd Duel.



"Ah, nice to meet you! I'm Adrian, Vega's girlfriend. Y'know, she talks about you guys quite a bit."

This was truly a surprise, to say the least. Daichi wasn't expecting to see the coach's girlfriend in today, or honestly...at all. Same time, it was good to at least hear that she had been talking about them...hopefully all good things.

"Oh, she talks about the rest of the team, too? And I know who you are, I did some cursory research on your old team."
"Of course she talks about all of you! This team means a lot to her, y'know? As for knowing me, well... I suppose that was to be expected, even if I haven't been relevant in years. Well, she asked me to come here ahead of her so that I could inform you that she has a surprise... aaand to inform you all that your captain will be absent. She had matters to attend to otherwise. If there's anything you guys normally do to prep, I haven't the foggiest, so would you mind handling that? I'd appreciate it a lot!"

"A surprise? Well, knowing the coach, there's no telling what sort of surprise there may be." the Action Duelist chuckled, currently taking a look on his phone. If one was to see what he was staring at...they'd see it being nothing but a catalog of various different Action Fields and the styles of cards he ended up recording. Truly seemed like he was serious about making sure he didn't fall under the same issue he did against Honey.

"Annnnnnnyway, that said..." he paused, glancing up from his phone, looking at Adrian. "Since Rosalia is absent, I guess she's already been informed or will be informed of the details of our next match...least it's a fair assessment. As for the prep, honestly, in my humble opinion...we sort of wing it. And by wing it, I mean watch coach doodle quite a bit of her Ignister monsters on the board...which, that said, she's quite the artist there. Then again you probably already knew that..." Daichi paused in his thought processes before looking over at the rest of the team. "I mean, am I wrong?" It honestly seemed like he was writing himself into a corner with his words...truly horrible.

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Rosalia peered through the rounded sunglasses she had placed over her eyes up at the office building before her. A corner building of middling height, much the same as the one she would normally have been in with the rest of the team now. It seemed oddly small to contain the absolute monolith of frightful skill she had faced down during that match, to say nothing of the rest of the team.

She breezed through the door, lowering the glasses to look briefly to the receptionist at the desk. “Excuse me… I’m looking for a space being used by Team Free?" 

“Ah, you’re with them…” The lady at the desk looked aside, her eyes narrowing… and the edge of her mouth started to twitch softly, “Head up to floor 3, they rent that floor. Are you… going to be joining them?”

Rosalia was glad to have her eyes shrouded behind the dark glasses. It hid her confused blinking. The receptionist had a very odd expression on her face, and she wondered is not all was right with Team Free and the owners of the space they rented. An entire floor, though… That was impressive. “Um, just for today,” she said, smiling slightly as she began to walk towards the back, where a trio of elevators awaited. “Thank you.”

She leaned against the back wall of the elevator after the doors had closed. She tried to convince herself to relax the iron-like grip she had on the strap of the black canvas bag she had over her shoulder. The last few days had been spent worrying fretfully about why Jonathan wanted her to attend the meeting of a rival team. She had slept poorly last night, hence the dark glasses to hide her tired eyes. And give her an excuse not to meet the eyes of anybody there.

As the elevator opened, she tried her best to walk forward in her normal stately manner and not give the impression she had been tossing and turning all night. Between the dark glasses, the simple cut dark skirt, the dark slate blouse, and the heels that sounded like gunshots impacting on the floor, her nerves were masked well. Hopefully she wouldn’t mess it up by having to talk much.

When the elevator opened, the first thing to greet her was Agira’s screaming.

“I’m sorry, Belle! I won’t do it agaaaaaain!”

“Damn right you won’t, dumbass! I’ve told you to remember Speed World more times than I can count!”

“Come on, guys, we have a guest on the way,” Charlie chimed in from a room opposite of the one the first sounds came from, “Don’t scare her off before she even has a chance to meet everyone.”

The end of their sentence was perfectly punctuated by the crack of Rosalia’s heel on the floor just a few steps beyond the door. She winced, knowing there was no way it hadn’t gone unheard. She stepped into the doorway, raising up her eyebrows in an attempt to look enthused. With the dark glasses the effect was closer to supercilious. 

“I hope I’m not too early,” she said softly by way of greeting. 

“N-no, you’re perfectly fine!” Charlie waved with a nervous grin as Rosalia peeked into the room. They sat at what looked like a fairly cheap coffee table, with a girl sitting across from them, bundled up in a dark gray hoodie, with a few strands of black hair falling down in front of the glasses on her face, before looking away from Rosalia’s gaze, “John stepped out for a smoke, you must’ve just missed him. Sorry about the, uh… Belle.”

“Why are you apologizing for me!? Agira’s the one who fucked up!” Rosalia turned to peer over her shoulder at this outburst. Across the hall, the voice came from a fairly tall woman, her hand keeping the Fire King player from slouching on a couch as she scolded him, “Anyway, nice to meet you. Belle Ebenezer, wasn’t one of the ones who played with you guys. I swear I’m nice to everyone but Agira and his dumb mistakes!”

Rosalia nodded. “Yes, I’m sure… Of course I guess an introduction for me isn’t really needed at this point.” She turned back to Charlie, stepping forward to offer a hand. “Thank you for having me here, one captain to another.”

“Oh, it’s not a problem whatsoever! After all, it’s in the name, isn’t it? Team Free. Just a space for each of us to exist, y’know?” The smaller person took Rosalia’s hand and shook it, before motioning to the other member sitting near them, “And that’s Aya. I know she looks nothing like her profile, but she is pretty shy, when she’s not on stage. Opposite of you, from the looks.”

“I’m not sure what you mean.” Rosalia brushed the topic off quickly. She gave Aya a quick look and a slow nod of greeting. Ayakuro Hifumi. While she did indeed look different from her profile, Rosalia knew her record. She was as skilled as the rest of the team. Minus perhaps Agira, if Belle’s opinion was anything to go by. “Did Johnathan tell you why he invited me, perchance? I’m not sure, myself.”

“Hmm… Who can say?” Charlie hummed as they gave their answer, a sly smile on their face, “But I do know he respects you, after that showing. Crowds don’t like ties, but given how he had you on the backburner, I have to say I’m quite impressed myself!”

“Thank you,” Rosalia said, the coal of shame that had been burning in her belly the last few days flaring painfully. “You did very well yourself against Sashisematta. He is quite skilled, defeating him is no mean feat.”

“Wish I could agree with you. The person I saw across from me wasn’t the person who showed up to his first match, so to speak. Cowardly… Too much respect for his opponent.”

The coal of shame went out immediately. Rosalia had been determined to keep the glasses on as long as possible, but she now reached up without hesitation to lower them so that she could peer over them at Charlie. While her words were still perfectly cordial, her gaze had the steeliness it had possessed when she had forced the draw with John.

“I can say many things of Sashisematta. Being cowardly certainly isn’t one of them.”

“Admirable of you to defend him, but I’m pretty sure he would describe his dueling the same way. Possibly already has… Am I wrong?” Charlie looked back with a look that belied indifference. “Anyhow, John should be back before too long…  We normally stick to our groups for these meetings, talking amongst each other, and it can get kinda loud. I get the feeling the receptionist doesn’t like us much… But hey, what can you do? He usually sticks to the room at the end of the hallway. Not sure where our sixth member is, or I would introduce you to him, too.”

The glasses slowly slid back into place, once again hiding Rosalia’s eyes from view. “You split into your own groups? Interesting. Team Genesis’s meetings are communal. Do you have a reason for that structure or did it just happen to work that way?” It was almost as if she hadn’t just given Charlie an uncharacteristic death glare eight seconds ago. 

“We’re a group of misfits, for one reason or another. I’ve tried big, structured teams before, and it wasn’t my style… But our results speak for themselves. Our team is still fairly young, but we’ve already made a name for ourselves. Why force people with mismatched personalities to sit and act all stuffy, y’know?”

She nodded. “I’m sure it has its benefits,” was all she had to add to this, her sentence still edged with the remnants of her gaze.

“Ah, there you are, miss.” As the conversation with Charlie hit an awkward point, John stepped off of the elevator, chewing something, “Didn’t see you slip in. I trust the team’s been nice to you? Offered refreshments and all that?”

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Kendra rubbed at her cheek for a moment, propping her head up on her arm as she glanced down at her desk. Her pen idly scratched along the paper, her notes were awfully scarce today, even compared to usual, but…

She wasn’t surprised about it for once. Sai’s match. It spoke for itself. There wasn’t much she was going to need to say about that, she trusted that he already knew what he did wrong. She’s sure someone will be surprised she doesn’t have more to say about it, but it’s pretty likely that it won’t be Sai.

Eve did well. She won on a technicality, but that happens. Her opponent is the one who has more to learn from that duel, she didn’t make any overly glaring mistakes compared to him.


She isn’t… Sure what to say about that one. Rosalia was in a bad spot. Scraping by with a tie, while not the most exciting, keeps them going. And that’s good enough for her right now. She’s sure it wasn’t for Rosalia though. She’ll cross that bridge when she gets there, if she gets there. There’s a very non-zero chance that Rosalia won’t want to talk about the whole thing, she can’t really fault the captain for that either. She took a deep breath, before just closing the notebook in front of her. Sleep was sounding more helpful than sitting here, trying to sort out thoughts that weren’t going to be helpful at all.

Kendra let out a tiny breath as she rubbed at her cheek, walking into the meeting room properly after a brief pause outside of it. She had to take a moment to brace herself for entering, Sai was already here, that wasn’t a surprise to her. Daichi was to be expected too, but there was another person standing there as well, someone she didn’t really recognize. She dropped her bag down on a table as she walked towards the stranger, “...Kendra Brooke, vice captain. Can I ask who you are?”

“Geeze, I just introduced myself,” Adrian dramatically pouted, “Buuut that’s okay. Adrian Nimue, Vega’s girlfriend. I suppose you’ll be taking the lead today, in the absence of the captain?”

Kendra paused briefly, a little surprise on her face, before nodding her head slightly, “I suppose that’s what it means, yeah. Without Rosalia here, there’s… Less to talk about, considering how complicated her duel was, but we can still cover it at least…” She trailed off after that, lost in thought for a moment, “I suppose that means Vega isn’t coming either, she did look pretty rough yesterday…”

“Oh, yeah, she kinda had a madras when she went out with Charlie… She really should know better than drinking the night before a game. But she’s fine, even she won’t be out from a single drink for too long. She just asked me to run ahead, cause I was coming to today’s meeting anyway.”

Kendra let out a tiny sigh, planting her face down against her hand for a moment as she did, “Yeah, well… Today’s meeting will probably be a bit on the shorter side then. Vega normally just doodles a bit on the board and updates us on what the next match is the bulk of it. Sometimes we talk about particularly…” She glanced at Sai for a brief moment, “Interesting duels.”

“Abooout that…” Adrian smirked a bit, “You’ll get the chance, but your coach decided you needed a bit of a break before that. Sooo, why don’t you guys head down to the training room, and we’ll meet you down there once everyone is here? You too, Ms. Outsword!”

Kendra let out a tiny chuckle as she waved her hand, "Alright everyone, down to the training room. Let's go." She yawned as she stretched her arms up into the air... She regretted setting her bag down now, she just wanted to sit down before, but she had to be official and do her 'job'... And now she had to take the extra time to pick up the bag. Inconvenient.

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“Abooout that…” Adrian smirked a bit at Kendra, “You’ll get the chance, but your coach decided you needed a bit of a break before that. Sooo, why don’t you guys head down to the training room, and we’ll meet you down there once everyone is here? You too, Ms. Outsword!”

Falisha looks up from a rock she had been banging a screwdriver against in seemingly random patterns, “Uuuuuh Vega not here today?” She looks around, shrugging as it looks like everyone else had seemingly accepted it, “Sure, guess she partied a bit too hard? Heard something about alcohol I think. Not that I’d know much about it I suppose.” She pockets the purplish-red rock, “Also if anyone here finds any thunder eggs just laying about wanna give me a heads up? Thought about something I could use them for.” She passes by Adrian on her way downstairs, “...Kinda short for someone I’d relate to Vega, aren’t you?”

Adrian froze and gave Falisha a look that could only be described as sheer confusion. “You… realize we’re within millimeters of each other, right? And that you’re also associated with Vega?”

Falisha froze a bit herself, “Er, wait, really? Oh god how long has it been since I’ve checked my height….? I’m usually on the ground under my duel runner so uh… wait have I ever seen Vega while I was standing up instead of napping or working on my bike?” Falisha strains her face, rather hard in thought at this revelation she was barely taller than Adrian.

“Aaaanyway, please head downstairs. I’ll wait for Evelyn Takao to show up, as well as Vega, then we’ll head down. I probably shouldn’t spoil it, but…” A little mischievous smile crept across the girl’s face, “You’ll get to see your coach in action today~”

The resident adamancipator duelist would nod, waving politely as she headed downstairs, after a few moments shouting from the usually quiet girl could be heard, “WHY DID NONE OF YOU TELL ME I WAS SHORT?!”

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Punctuality is key. Eve’s father had told her as much; it was how he had climbed up the corporate ladder. If word from overseas was true, he was due for another promotion soon, too! Good for him! As such, one could imagine she was in a bit of a rush when the team meeting was due to start rather soon, and she had only just now arrived at the building. Hurrying along, through the door, up the stairs, into the room, and…

Empty. The rest of Team Genesis was nowhere to be found. Just Evelyn. And some girl. With very blue hair down to her hips. Well, one of these people certainly didn’t belong here, and the odd one out definitely wasn’t Evelyn. “Err… are you lost?” she asked.

“Ah, Ms. Takao! Nope, I’m just here because my girlfriend’s running a bit behind.” She smirked and tapped a finger to her lips, “You might know her? Tall, olive skin, red hair?”

“...ah! Coach Vega! Wait, her girlfriend?” She had a girlfriend? Evelyn inspected the woman before her closely. With every detail she took in, her face dropped in what seemed to be increasing shock. “...do I need to call the police?”

“How is it that Saishisematta recognized me instantly, yet you’ve never heard me…? This team is weird. Adrian Nimue, former champion of the pro league here on the west coast. Vega’s girlfriend, though no one knows that. No, you don’t need to call the cops.”

“Sashisematta’s a special case, and I haven't paid much attention to the pro leagues in America until very recently.” Relieved that Evelyn wouldn’t have to be the one to turn her own coach in to the officials, she brought her attention back to the present matter. The matter of nobody else being in this room. But clearly somebody had been here, because Adrian had met Sai. Which prompted the ever important question.

“Speaking of, where is he? And the rest of the team for that matter? We were supposed to be meeting up here, but it looks like we’re the only ones here.”

“You are the last of your team to arrive, though your captain will be absent,” Adrian continued, motioning to the stairwell, “They headed down to the training room. Find a seat and we’ll be down once Vega gets here.”

“Got it. Thanks for the heads-up!” Giving a wave goodbye, Eve turned around and hurried back down the stairs. She technically wouldn’t be late until Vega showed up, but arriving as on time as possible was ideal. After all, punctuality is key.

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"Sorry to keep you waiting, guys!"

Once everyone had gotten down to the training room, which was just a repurposed mid-sized basketball court, complete with a small set of auditorium bleachers,, Adrian walked in from the stairwell, boisterous coach in tow with a smile on her face.

"I know this last match was a bit rough on you, so I asked Adri- you all met her now, yeah- anyway, I asked if... she wouldn't mind giving a bit of an exhibition match? At least, if you guys don't mind staying here a bit longer than normal that is? I, uh..."

"You forgot to clear that with them, yes." Adrian giggled before shooting a knowing look and smirk up at her partner, "I'm sure that they're already used to that... aren't you guys?"

Kendra felt the corner of her lips tug downwards, a small hum escaping her. She pulled her phone from her bag to idly tapping at it, "...If the others are fine with it, I can push things back a bit and make the time to stick around..." She glanced towards the others gathered, raising an eyebrow, "Any objections?"

"Perfect! With that said... I warn you all that I won't be using my normal deck, instead opting for something a bit more 'fun', like Vega... and I'm not used to standard duels. I participated in mooostly action duels, so I feel like I'm at a bit of a disadvantage against miss jack of all trades, so I apologize if it's not the best show you've ever seen."

"Hey, don't be like that, you'll do fine!" Vega grinned, suddenly lifting the shorter girl up to hug her tight, before putting her back down, "I told her not to pull punches, but she insisted. So, give us a couple minutes and we'll be ready to go!"



Adrian: 4000 - Going First
Vega: 4000 - Going Second

"Seems I'm up first... Good luck, sweetheart~" Adrian called out as she drew her hand, almost instantly placing a monster and 2 more cards face-down on her field, "And with that, it'll be your turn."

Kendra let out a soft chuckle, rubbing at her neck for a moment as she sighed, “Not the best opening, maybe? Looks like a bad turn for my deck.”

"Don't count her out just based on that," Vega laughed as she drew for turn, looking over her hand for a moment, before placing a card on her disk. A yellow blob with 1200 ATK appeared on the field, wuickly forming markings across it, as well as a hat and hands, ending with a stylized blue @ symbol appearing on its hat, "I normal summon Pikari @Ignister and activate its effect."

As the mage-like blob began to wave its hands, it was set upon by an otherworldly creature biting into it, long and scaled with multiple green eyes and tendrils. Its long form began to coil around it as Adrian announced its presence.

"I activate Paleozoic Canadia, targeting Pikari!"

As Pikari began to shudder, a spear flew from Vega's hand, slicing into the main 5 eyes of the creature, causing it to fall down and disintegrate while Pikari's ATK dropped to 400, followed by Vega pulling a card from her deck.

"Heh, figured. Then I chain Forbidden Lance! With that, I add Ignister A.I.Land from my deck to my hand."

“Er… wasn’t this supposed to be a learning experience? Dunno if seeing a blazing fast duel where I can’t even process cards is going to help learn anything…” Falisha’s words would hang in the air for a moment.

"Eh? Are we going too fast? Sorry about that," Vega laughed a bit. grinning wide, "We play with each other a lot, though usually just on a kitchen table. We know how each other's plays in and out, so..."

"We can get a bit carried away with it. I'll do my best to slow it down a bit for now."

"Yepyep. Anyway, before anything else, I use Pikari @Ignister as material for a Link 1!"

The blob cooed out as it lost even more of its form, reverting back to sheer energy as it moved from its spot to the Extra Monster Zone, pointing down towards the center monster zone, before a mechanical-looking creature appeared from the arrow, its jagged tail wagging as its screen-like face lit up to reveal some angry looking eyes... earning a "Tch" from Adrian as its 300 ATK displayed.

"I Link Summon Linguriboh, which can tribute itself to negate a trap card... and banish it. Next, I'll activate the field spell I searched for, Ignister A.I.Land!"

The entire training room seemed to transform as the field was placed, moving the battlefield to a wide path near a technicolor ferris wheel, the sun shining bright in the sky above, with the sounds of rides and enjoyment echoing about as Vega looked to her team.

"While I control no monsters in my Main Monster Zone, I can special summon a Level 4 or lower @Ignister monster from my hand, but I can't do this with the same attribute more than once per turn. Then I'll activate it to summon the WIND monster, Bururu @Ignister!"

A green blob appeared on the field, formless like Pikari before it... then began to take a shape not unlike a doll, with wing-like protrusions from tis head as the markings appeared across its body, culminating in white tips to the wings, along with the same stylized @ symbol appearing on its left wing along with its 600 ATK.

"When it's summoned, I can send an @Ignister from my deck to the grave, and I'll seeend... Achichi @Ignister. Once that resolves, let's see... next, I'll summon Backup Secretary from my hand."

Data began to coalesce next to Bururu, a woman with deep purple hair stepped through, her left arm holding what looked to be a digital tablet as her right hand adjusted the dark glasses on her face. She clicked her heels as she stood up perfectly straight, her ATK showing as 1200.

"Any time I control a Cyberse, I can summon her from hand... but only one per turn. So next, I'll Link the two of them off!"

The pair of cyberse in the Main Monster Zones reverted into data, soaring into the middle monster zone, with one of them pointing up and right, while the other pointed down and right. The sound of waves could be heard, quickly followed by a pillar of water shooting out from the Monster Zone, spooking Linguriboh in the process, as a wizard-like person in white robes, adorned with blue and blue orbs, stepped from the pillar, brandishing a staff, which lit up instantly as its 1100 was shown.

"Splash Mage! And then, once per turn, it can revive a Cyberse from my grave in defense with its effects negated. So I'll bring back Pikari, as well as activate the continuous spell You and A.I. It has many effects, so we'll get to those as they come."

The yellow blob magician returned with a coo, and Vega placed the spell she mentioned into her disk... Her face growing wide as she pointed at Adrian.

"I know that's gotta be a trap, knowing that deck, so I can't very well use Linguriboh... And I'm pretty sure I know what that monster is, too."

"Oh, do you now?" Adrian smirked back, "So what, going into the bird?"

"You know it! I use Splash Mage and Pikari as material, I link summon one more time! Bird of blazing passion, link together your allies and burn away your foes!"

The two monsters turned into energy once again, with Splash Mage turning into two bits, rather than one. They culminated back into the same zone that Splash Mage had been in, pointing to the left, the right, and straight down, followed by a pillar of flame bursting forth into the sky, causing shadows to be cast by the park's attractions that had been brightly lit.

"Fire Phoenix @Ignister!"

The flames began to take the form of a bird with multiple sharp-edged wings, still roaring, before armor began to form, containing and shaping the flames further into the avian form. A long, multi-feathered tail grew out behind it, while its wings began to shoot out flames like rockets, all as its shrill cry echoed. Finally, the same insignia that the others of its archetype had appeared on its chest, just a bit left of center.

"Now, since I summoned a FIRE Cyberse with 2300 ATK, You and A.I. procs, summoning 1 @Ignister Token to my board. I'll place it far left, and in defense. Then to battle! Fire Phoenix, attack her set monster!"

Adrian sighed lightly as the attack was declared, her lack of response causing the monster to flip face-up and reveal itself as the 2000 DEF Dupe Frog.

"I was right! Alright, in damage calculation, I activate the effect of Fire Phoenix! Instead of inflicting battle damage to you, I instead inflict Fire Phoenix's attack to you as effect damage!"

The bird cried out loudly, its flames intensifying to burn the frog monster to bits, Adrian's life falling to 1700 as she braced herself against the heat, smiling all the while, "Well, you know what that means! Dupe Frog activates its effect, meaning I get to search Swap Frog from my deck!"

"That's fine, you'll still take the damage from Linguriboh!"

The little angry cyberse gave out a small cry before tackling Adrian, barely managing to knock her out of perfect balance as her life dropped to 1400.

"With that, I'll go to Main Phase 2... set 1... and pass. Your go, Adri."


Adrian: 1400
Vega: 4000


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Rosalia turned to look at John. The dark glasses made meeting his eye easier. The steadily swindling anger didn’t hurt either. She felt buoyed by the fire Charlie's comment had lit in her, at least for the moment. “We’ve been discussing with each other why you’ve invited me here today, actually… I have to admit the lot of us are stumped so far.”

“Is that so… I thought I said why the other day. Huh. My mistake, then. However, I’d rather discuss that one on one, away from…” he motioned towards the door opposite where they were, where Agira and Belle could be seen ever so slightly peeking around the door frame, “Busybodies.”

“Hey! Calling Belle a busybody is fine, but I’m j-”

“Excuse me, you little brat!?”

John sighed as the two began to argue again, shaking his head and walking towards the end of the hall without another word. Rosalia gave Hifumi a nod of farewell, and then, finding she didn’t have it in her to refuse it of them, gave one to Charlie as well before she turned to walk after John.

“I’m in a team with Sashisematta and Daichi,” she told him as she drew level with him. “Raucous discussion isn’t anything I’m not used to.”

“I suppose that’s fair,” John chuckled softly as he produced a key, unlocking the final door on the right, before stepping into what looked not unlike a lawyer’s office. Nice desk, some bookcases, a couch, and even a flat screen TV hanging from the wall… though it appeared to have a layer of dust on it from minimal use. Reaching under the desk, John opened a door and produced two bottles of water, handing one to his guest. “To answer your question, I used to know a guy who played your deck. A lot more aggressively than you do, mind, but it’s almost like watching you play his deck with my style… And I thought I might be able to help. Train you a bit. After all, the crowd and MC seemed to really get to you, so I reckoned some privacy and analogue games would do wonders.”

Rosalia took the bottle of water, slowly and contemplatively twisting at the cap without actually opening it. She wasn’t sure what she had been expecting, but this wasn’t it. “Why?” she asked simply. She didn’t feel the need to ask for clarifiers; The question seemed to encompass every aspect of this perfectly

“Counterpoint: Why not? I think you have a lot of potential, but you seem a bit hellbent on being in control. Ironically, not the point of playing a control deck. I figure I should pass on some knowledge, given that I’m pretty close to being considered an old man… At least in this line of work,” He chuckled before taking a swig of his water.

“But we’re your competition. We could very easily see each other in a duel again at the end of all this, especially if both of us keep winning.” Which I very much intend to do, she thought privately to herself.

“Isn’t it more fun to have people to genuinely hone yourself against? Well, that’s not exactly what I’m after, but it’s still a good reason. You can call me your rival, your mentor, whatever… I just want to help. We have similar playstyles, and I want to see where you can make it. As for the team thing,” John held up his hand as if to tell her to wait, only for her to notice the distant sounds of bickering had become laughter, lively noises, even the voice of Ayakuro she had yet to hear faintly making it, “These guys came together because they needed a place to be… It’s why Charlie rented this whole floor, so we all had a place to go. I think that’s a wonderful thing to pay it forward, and I want to do something similar. Besides, I’m sure that you could end up finding a place to unwind here, too, if you keep visiting.”

Rosalia blinked several times at John, her blank expression hidden partially by the glasses. Had he had fun during their match? She had found it to be one of the most stressful experiences of her life; She had far too much riding on these matches. The team had far too much riding on them. And after her conversation with Charlie, unwinding felt all of a sudden very distant. Even now the laughter behind her felt like a different world, one she very much didn’t belong in. 

She gently set the bottle of water down on the desk, so far unopened. “I… appreciate your offer,” she told him slowly, contemplating her reply even as she gave it. “But I’m not sure that is the best idea. I have my responsibilities to the rest of the team, of course.” She stepped away, turning to gaze out the window at the city beyond. “My first match was… rougher than I would have liked,” she admitted, the sentence feeling like nails dragging up her throat as she forced it out, “... but it was my first. The arena is… something I’ll have to get used to. Everyone does, don’t they?”

Not Daichi, a small voice in the back of her head said. Not Sashisematta. Not Evelyn or Falisha or any of Team Free. Just you, Rosalia. A frown creased her forehead at the thought, and she turned around briskly to address John directly again.

“What would this entail?” she asked, cutting straight to business. “What would I be signing up for?”

“In my eyes, mentorship. Deck choice discussion, theoretical puzzles, paper testing. That’s it. You’d never have to interact with the others, if you never want to. But the most important thing you have to learn, as a fellow control player… is to let go. You cannot control every play. You cannot control every attack. You can’t control everything that happens in life. And I want to walk you through learning that, because it is a difficult lesson.”

Rosalia crossed her arms. “And what would you be getting out of it?”

“Training a future champion sounds pretty cool to me, if I’m honest.”

She flinched, her surprise evident. “I… We’re all far from champions,” she said haltingly. “For now,” was a hasty addendum. 

“You’re right, but I see potential in you. Sure, I led you around by the nose… but once you found your groove, you managed to catch up in a heartbeat. Your deck is a lot more powerful than my Muskets. I got here by sheer skill. You can surpass me with any amount of practice, honestly.”

She let out a long sigh. “Implying you don’t think I have the skill to compete yet.”

“You’re not wrong… but that’s far from a bad thing. You’re just now stepping into the Minor Leagues. You have skill, but you need to refine it. Is that so bad?”

Rosalia wasn’t even irritated he had implied she was unskilled; Their duel had more than proven her current ability wasn’t as infallible as it had seemed. She reached up to brush her hair from her forehead as she thought the offer over. She didn’t agree with everything John was saying. Not by a long shot. But he was skilled. There was no denying that. Her draw against him was deserved even less than Eve thought her win against Agira was. 

He thought she could be a champion. That was more faith in her than Vega had.

“... We’ll see where it goes,” she said, by way of agreement.

“Perfect. Then let me wipe off that TV, and we can get started…”

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"I know this last match was a bit rough on you, so I asked Adri- you all met her now, yeah- anyway, I asked if... she wouldn't mind giving a bit of an exhibition match? At least, if you guys don't mind staying here a bit longer than normal that is? I, uh..."
"You forgot to clear that with them, yes. I'm sure that they're already used to that... aren't you guys?"
"...If the others are fine with it, I can push things back a bit and make the time to stick around...Any objections?"

"Hmmm I'm going to have to check my schedule real quick..." Daichi hummed, pulling out a piece of paper...did it actually have a schedule or was it blank? Honestly, the only one to know this was the illusionist himself. After staring at it for a long period of time, he started crumpling up the paper in his hands quite a bit. After that was done, he lifted his hands and showed that they were indeed empty...the crumpled paper ball was now gone.

"And like that, my schedule has vanished from my mind. Even though it was simply me doing more in-depth research on as many Action fields as possible." he smiled, before giving Vega and Adrian a thumbs up. "In short, I'll be staying around. After all, we don't get to see you in action all that often, coach. I'm sure it'll be quite the spectacle!"

Indeed it started off as quite the spectacle from what Daichi could see from his seat. @Ignister was the style of deck Vega was using, as on brand for her...a deck that was capable of not just Link Summoning their Cyberse monsters, but also being fully capable to Fusion, Xyz, Synchro and Ritual Summon. In terms of things, aside from it generally relying on beatdown strategies, @Ignister was quite versatile. Then came Adrian's quick succession of retorts in the manner of her Paleozoic Canadia...just the rapid, seamless responses...it was impressive.

“Er… wasn’t this supposed to be a learning experience? Dunno if seeing a blazing fast duel where I can’t even process cards is going to help learn anything…”
"Eh? Are we going too fast? Sorry about that. We play with each other a lot, though usually just on a kitchen table. We know how each other's plays in and out, so..."
"We can get a bit carried away with it. I'll do my best to slow it down a bit for now."

"At the same time, though...we're seeing these two play in rapid succession...in real time." Daichi commented, still watching the Duel continue on. "Whether we can process the cards being used, you can at least see the strong response timing that they have. No second thoughts, no double backs...it was truly seamless...it's actually impressive."

Fire Phoenix @Ignister did appear not too long later, to which during the whole thing, dropped Adrian's Life Points to 1400...though what puzzled Daichi was the fact of what the opponent was truly using. Paleozoic...and then Dupe Frog...and then getting Swap Frog? He tried his hardest to figure out what style of deck she was using, but for not, it was eluding him. Same time, all he cared about was the exciting Duel in front of him. He could sense the excitement, the fun, the passion between these two Duelists...this was the type of feeling that he as the audience was feeling. Knowing how one's audience feels...I can better understand and even play on this... he thought, continuing to watch the Duel with bated breath.

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╔. .═════════╗

Kendra yawned as she took a seat, leaning back in it as she rubbed at her cheek for a moment. Her other hand was still tapping away at the phone, getting cover for a work shift she had...

I'm going to be paying for this one later... Guess that's the price I pay for this.

She let out a tiny sigh as she watched the two of them starting their duel, her eyes briefly rolling at the display between the two of them. She shouldn't be too judgy over it, but she still wasn't entirely a fan. She wanted objectivity in her duels, and while she didn't doubt that Vega and Adrian were going to... She's seen a fair number of duels where someone underplayed due to an emotional connection with someone. It wasn't a good look for someone aiming for the major leagues.

...Kendra had to admit that the onslaught of Ignister Link plays weren't her cup of tea. She knew how the mechanic worked. She had seen enough of Rosalia between their matches now and the training rounds, but more than anything... Link laddering was not her cup of tea. Or Synchro ladders for that matter. Xyz were simple. She didn't have to worry too much about ordering or things along those lines usually, when the wrong pull could mess up an entire chain of actions.

Maybe that's why her deck wasn't performing so well. It wasn't really complex, and it didn't get going fast. She would have to look into what she could do to fix that.

She hoped that didn't mean digging into Links too much.

"Whether we can process the cards being used, you can at least see the strong response timing that they have. No second thoughts, no double backs...it was truly seamless...it's actually impressive."

Kendra was snapped back to reality after getting lost in her thoughts for a bit, her hand propping her head up as she nodded her head, "Familiarity with a deck lets you do that. We can't be so quick on the trigger against all our opponents, with how many different things we can run into... So we need to be able to process information quickly in a different way. When you know what the opponent's deck wants to do so intimately, you can make tougher calls easier..."

She mumbled to herself afterwords, her fingers dragging against her cheek, "'course, that means we need to be able to realize what our opponents are aiming to do... Recognizing patterns and breaking them apart... Easier said than done..."

╚═════════. .╝

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"At the same time, though...we're seeing these two play in rapid succession...in real time." Daichi commented, still watching the Duel continue on. "Whether we can process the cards being used, you can at least see the strong response timing that they have. No second thoughts, no double backs...it was truly seamless...it's actually impressive."

Falisha raised an eyebrow towards Daichi as she put down whatever she was fiddling with for once, "That may be true but we all still need to learn. It's hard enough from wanting to keep myself to dupe Sai into 32 duels into the late of the night and early morning. All for the purpose of learning, of course, but from what I understand with his attitude he could use all the beauty rest possible, his personality requires the handicap." She smirked a bit as she poked a small amount of fun at her other teammate as she watched the duel unfold.

"Though I must admit I'm a bit shocked to see an Action Duelist that's going completely for substance over style, even in a learning setting. She mentioned this isn't even her deck so the fact she's processing it so well means that it's still one she knows the ins and outs of." She taps her cheek and smirks over towards Kendra, "My, you're almost sounding like a team leader yourself over there, Kendra." She placed her hands into her pockets as she finally looked towards the duel itself.

"I admit I never enjoy standing duels much myself, there's no motion or excitement behind what's going on, so it's never appealed to me. Though if I could play like this it'd definitely help my enjoyment... Maybe I'll try it sometime! My Adamancipators go into so many different options with checking the top of the deck it can be a bit of a slog for my opponent if I take too long... I do want to ensure they have fun as well so uh..." She glances off to the side, "I've got a second bike, not as flashy as my custom one or anything and it's just got a Duel AI installed for practicing Turbo Duels but I can disable it if any of you would want to try one out sometime? I'll try not to keep it too late!"

She realized she'd gotten distracted, looking back towards the duel field and sighing with a small laugh, "Maybe I should pay attention first, looks like quite a few things happened. Though you go girls with explaining stuff now, thanks!"

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"Draw! Well, remember that Swap Frog I searched? I discard Nimble Angler in order to summon it from my hand!"

When Adrian placed the card on her disk, a yellow frog appeared, with red horns and markings on it, letting out a croak, and her graveyard lit up.

"Both Nimble Angler, as Chain Link 1, and Swap Frog, CL2, activate! First, I'll send another Swap Frog from my deck to the grave... then I'll summon Nimble Manta and Nimble Sunfish from my deck in defense!"

The echoing croak ended as the card was milled, shortly followed by a rather small manta ray and sunfish appearing on either side of the frog, However, the two quickly turned into little blue lights, descending into a galaxy-like vortex opening in the middle of the board.

"I then overlay the 2 Nimbles in order to Xyz Summon! Gallop Forth, Sky Cavalry Centaurea!"

The vortex bursed with energy, the sound of a powerful wingbeat and hooves filling the air as the shining centaur-like being rode from it, taking its place in the Extra Monster Zone with 2000 ATK.

"Ah, that's new!" Vega laughed and rubbed at the back of her neck, "But I had no idea you added that in. Make some edits just for today, Adri?"

"Sure did. After all, it's not as exciting if we know everything that's going to happen. Our audience will get bored!" Adrian turned and gave a wink to the audience, before picking up Swap Frog from her disk. "Then I activate Swap Frog's effect. This turn, I can normal summon an additional Frog monster, other than Swap Frog, but Swap Frog returns to hand... Which I'll then NS, as I haven't used any yet."

The frog appeared again, its croak sending a third copy of itself from deck to grave. And then...

"Battle! Swap Frog, destroy Linguriboh!"

"In response, I activate Wall of Disruption! When you attack, all monsters you control lose 800 ATK!"

"From the grave, I activate my Canadia! It'll special summon itself as a 1200 ATK monster!"

The slinking insectoid rose from the grave with its ATK displaying as 1200, before Vega's trap resolved, lowering it to 400, along with Swap Frog's fall to 200 and Centaurea's to 1200. As Swap Frog leapt towards Linguriboh, it ended up impaled on the little creature's tail, only to swiftly find itself being itself impaled by Canadia. (Adrian: 1400 -> 1300 - Vega: 4000 -> 3900).

"With Canadia's attack finished, Centaurea attacks Fire Phoenix!"

"Just a moment!" Vega held up her hand, before removing a card from her grave, causing her own monster to explode, "At the start of damage between my Cyberse and an opponent's monster, I can blow my monster up by banishing Achichi from the grave! No bouncing Phoenix today!"

"Sadly... with that, I'll move to main 2 and... Tribute both of my monsters!" 

With a whinny and a hiss, the two monsters on the field were wrapped up in swirling energy, before scattering across the field. When Adrian placed her last card onto the disk, a sound that could only be described as a heavenly host of croaks rang out.

"By using two monsters as tribute, I can special summon Amphibian Angel - Frog-Hael! Which, when summoned this way..." 

She snapped her fingers, causing 3 Swaps and 1 Dupe Frog to rise from the grave in defense, all croaking loudly, She revealed 2 copies of Ronintoadin and 1 Dupe Frog from her deck and sent them to the grave with the effect of the three Swaps, Almost instantly, two of the swaps turned into blue energy, flying into another galaxy vortex as it formed.

"Allows me to revive as many frogs from my grave as possible, and then I'll Xyz Summon! Hopping into the new year, let's go Toadally Awesome!"

As the vortex burst forth, a rather large, off-white frog plopped onto the field, facing Vega... followed by a much smaller off-white frog plopping on top of it, with a yuzu landing on top at the end. It let out a rather sweet ribbit as Adrian nodded. 0 DEF.

"Next, I'll banish the other Dupe Frog in my grave to summon Ronintoadin from the grave! Again, I'll Xyz Summon using that and the other Swap Frog!"

"Oh boy, here's comes the lockout," Vega muttered a bit as the cyan toad appeared on the board, letting out a small rumble before the Xyz Vortex opened again, this time revealing... a rather muscular looking humanoid with stony skin. "Eh? That's not what I normally expect to see here. Unless..." A wicked grin covered Vega's face, as if realization dawned to the redhead. "Did you really cut the second copy? What a weird choice~"

"Shush. I was testing things. Is that really so strange?" She huffed as Gachi Gachi Gantetsu's stats appeared as 1800 DEF, which quickly rose to 2200 with its effect.

"Mm, I suppose not, but cutting a copy of your ace? Tut tut!"

"With that, I end my turn. See if you can break through after Toadally Awesome resolves."

"Alright, draw!" Vega stared at the card for a moment before taking a deep breath, phase moving to standby. "Well, you already know I have You and A.I., so I activate Fire Phoenix @Ignister! The turn after its Link Summoned copy is destroyed and sent to the grave, I can revive it!"

"Then I activate Toadally Awesome! By sending my Frog-Hael to the grave, I can negate that effect!"

"And then I activate Forbidden Chalice, targeting your Toadally Awesome!"

Adrian froze in place, eyes widening, before a deep sigh escaped her lips. She raised a hand up and motioned for Vega to continue, then crossed her arms and looked away from the spectators with a pout.

"Resolving, Toadally Awesome is negated by Chalice and gains 400 ATK for the turn... And Fire Phoenix is reborn from the ashes!" The pillar of flame erupted as Vega spoke, smirking as the bird appeared once more, flames forming its armor. Pointing towards Dupe Frog, the bird attacked it, and... "My bird's effect activates at the start of damage, dealing 2300 directly!"

Adrian: 1300 -> 0

"Gaaah, that's so anti-climactic!" The blue hair girl puffed her cheeks out as the holograms faded, "I didn't even have any action cards to help me out! Not that I do at home on the table, anyway, but..."

"Ah, come on, you had me on the ropes! Though, a second Toada-"



Back upstairs, Vega was at the whiteboard again, with information about their opponents for the coming weekend; Team Shining.

"With the fun out of the way, we do have a little to discuss! Team Shining has been around for a while, and doesn't have a terrible record. They just, uh..." Vega's face scrunched up as she fished for the right words, before Adrian cut in.

"They're well known for being pricks."

"Adriii, you don't have to put it like that."

"I'm not wrong and you know it."

"Anyway, they do have a bit of a sour reputation. In fact, the action duelist Lance Sheridan is known for being quite rough in action duels to prevent opponents from finding action cards. So then, who will be the best matchup... Daichi. Kendra. Falisha. Are you three up to it this week?"


After the team's replies and discussion, they were set on their ways. Vega once again implored them to spend time with their fellow teammates, insisting that it was in their best interest, as well as telling them they could reach her any time. After everyone was gone except for Vega and Adrian, the latter walked over and rubbed the tall girl's back.

"You're doing good here. It seems like they all like you a lot."

"Yeah, well... Doing what I can. Honestly, they mostly take care of themselves! I'm just here to give pointers and manage things... Like telling you to add back Toa- mmph!"

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"That may be true but we all still need to learn. It's hard enough from wanting to keep myself to dupe Sai into 32 duels into the late of the night and early morning. All for the purpose of learning, of course, but from what I understand with his attitude he could use all the beauty rest possible, his personality requires the handicap."

"Ouch! Just going to go straight for the kill on that, huh Falisha?" Daichi smirked with a bit of a snicker at her little jab at the other Action Duelist.

"Though I must admit I'm a bit shocked to see an Action Duelist that's going completely for substance over style, even in a learning setting. She mentioned this isn't even her deck so the fact she's processing it so well means that it's still one she knows the ins and outs of."

He nodded at this, as it was pretty interesting. It wasn't her actual deck and the fact that Adrian was doing this well and able to process and comprehend what this deck could do, it showed she was a veteran at the game in general. Knowing the ins and outs of one's deck was key...but at this point, she was knowing the ins and outs about a deck she never really played before. That there was a feat all it's own.

"Familiarity with a deck lets you do that. We can't be so quick on the trigger against all our opponents, with how many different things we can run into... So we need to be able to process information quickly in a different way. When you know what the opponent's deck wants to do so intimately, you can make tougher calls easier..."

"Excellent point there...assessing what the opponent's deck can do and their general playstyle and goal during or even before a Duel can definitely help in the long run." he chimed in, though he was thinking that this would've been a lesson he could've learned against Hunny and her Ursarctic, but live and learn as they say.

Though the Duel ended, with Vega's win, Daichi was pleased to have had this type of lesson being present in this moment...especially with what would come next...

"With the fun out of the way, we do have a little to discuss! Team Shining has been around for a while, and doesn't have a terrible record. They just, uh..."
"They're well known for being pricks."

Team Shining was the next obstacle in their way...and as Adrian said...they were basically pricks. So this would DEFINITELY be a fun time.

"Anyway, they do have a bit of a sour reputation. In fact, the action duelist Lance Sheridan is known for being quite rough in action duels to prevent opponents from finding action cards. So then, who will be the best matchup... Daichi. Kendra. Falisha. Are you three up to it this week?"

Daichi listened to the Action Duelist part intently, closing his eyes slightly. Lance Sheridan...an individual who would be rough on other Action Duelists in order to prevent them from finding and obtaining Action Cards. This would be a stark contrast to his Duel against Hunny, furthermore it would be the first Duel since his defeat by her hands. But he had new additions to his performance this time, so perhaps this wouldn't be a bad time to make his return.

After a moment or two, he opened his eyes before looking in Vega's direction, his smile appearing on his face. "Coach, count me in. I'm not going to fail this time, not when I got a few new tricks up my sleeve...along with reading up on as many Action Fields as I can." He immediately gave a thumbs up before nodding. "Count the Moonlit Magician as ready and raring to go!"

Of course the meeting ended and like last time, Vega insisted and implored them to spend time with their fellow teammates. And of course, Daichi was thinking this already being something he should do. But this time, who would he end up seeing would hang out with him? Falisha was his hang out partner last time, even though with that it was generally when they already were at the match...but it still was something.

No, this time he figured he'd work with someone else this time...but who to work with? Sai was definitely the lowest on the roster for him...it was clear Daichi wasn't 100% sure how to get the two of them to see eye-to-eye with one another...that would take some time. However, he did come to think of one person...

"Hey Kendra!" Daichi called to the vice-captain, making his way towards her. "If your free sometime this week, maybe we can hang out. Anything you want, I'll see what I can do to accommodate for it. Sound like a plan?"

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╔. .═════════╗

Kendra would be lying if she said she was paying THAT much attention to how the duel ended. She was more concerned with her plans that had been pushed back, really. A few lost hours wasn't going to destroy her, but it was definitely going to make things a bit sticky for a bit while she tried to sort them out properly. There was something about a burn effect being anti-climatic, which she wasn't too invested in. What worked, worked.

Other than that, it was mainly just waiting for something to happen with the others. Daichi had mentioned something in response to her last statement, but really, that was the last thing on her mind at the moment. She let out a tiny breath as she saw the duel wrap up, "Time for the briefing..."


"Daichi. Kendra. Falisha. Are you three up to it this week?"

Was she? It was easy to just say yes and eat a loss if she had to, but honestly, that wouldn't be satisfying at all. She had delayed her first appearance to be as ready as possible, at this point, was she just stalling to stall?

Or was she just dooming herself to an early loss?

Either way, Daichi beat her to the punch, which made sense. He was more confident in this already, and here she was, still debating if she was prepared to go in for her first match. She took a deep breath to steady herself for a moment as she let him finish... And then, she let out a tiny sigh as she waved her hand in the air, "...I can't really make anymore edits to my deck with what I have at the moment anyway, might as well go in. If these guys are as big of jerks as she says... Extra motivation to win." She let her head rest against the table, letting the others take their time as the meeting winded down...

With the end in sight, she started to gather her things, a tiny yawn escaping her as she collected everything into her bag once more, standing up and turning to make her way towards the door. She wasn't really in a hurry to get away from them specifically...

"Hey Kendra!"

She flinched for a moment, time was already not on her side and she was going to have to deal with the repercussions of that later, she couldn't stay too much longer. She stopped through, letting Daichi catch up as she turned to face him.

"If your free sometime this week, maybe we can hang out. Anything you want, I'll see what I can do to accommodate for it. Sound like a plan?"

She paused for a moment, right. Vega had been pushing this still. Rosalia was easy to meet up with, the two of them didn't force conversation, and there was always a practical purpose. Daichi wasn't like that, from what she understood. She glanced to her phone, her thumb tapping at the screen for a moment as she mumbled gently, "Aaaaah... Let me clear some time... I'll send you a message and, uh... Figure something out, okay? ...Any suggestions, just send 'em to me and I'll see what I can do."

People were hard.

╚═════════. .╝

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An exhibition match! Between the coach and her girlfriend! While it was stated outright that the latter wasn't using her preferred deck, she did seem to put up something of a fight all the same. Yet in the end, it was a solid and clean victory for Coach Vega. Which left the briefing on the team's next opponents. Team Shining. Kind of a pretentious name if Eve was being quite honest about her opinions. And their apparent reputation as being a bunch of pricks lined up with that notion perfectly! The action duelist, Lance Sheridan, concerned her in particular. Roughing up your opponents directly in a duel never sat well with Eve. In some turbo circuits back home... back other home, that sort of thing could get you banned for life.

Luckily, Sheridan was an action duelist, not a turbo duelist. The odds of somebody getting hospitalized by this guy seemed a lot lower now.

Speaking of turbo dueling, once the coach had left the team to their own devices, people naturally started chatting it up with each other, as people often do. Something had been bugging Eve lately. She first noticed it back when she went out on her mini-adventure with Sai, and elected not to mention it because she knew he'd make a non-stop fuss about it. And it seemed like Falisha had a bit of free time, making this the perfect time to bring it up.

"Heyyy, Falisha," Eve smiled, approaching the D-Wheel expert of the team. "If it isn't too much trouble, could I ask you to take a look at my bike? I think something's wrong with the brakes."

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Falisha gave a bit of a cheeky grin as she watched the conclusion of the duel between the two duelists in front of her, "Y'know, now that I think about it... you two duel like a Major League's Turbo Duelist I used to watch every once in a while... gahhhh what was their name..." She rubs the back of her neck and gives a chuckle, "My fault for not paying attention when my family dragged me out to duels I guess for family bonding time." She smiles and gives a shrug as she watches the duel finish concluding, "Oh right, guess we're still technically supposed to be prepping for that..." She scratched her cheek, she had been hoping to work on something once the duel ended, though she headed to listen to the briefing anyways.


Falisha stared at the blackboard with a scrunched up nose, "Team 'Shining' seems a bit.... glory-hogging doesn't it? I know our name isn't exactly subtle either but Shining makes me think they're full of themselves." She'd be staring at a certain magician with a playful smirk, starting to feel the bags forming under her eyes before she pulled out a small hand-mirror to start covering them again. "Anyways, I think I'm perfectly capable of competing in a duel, though my Adamancipators I really need to uh.... I need to figure out a way to get them more consistent, but that means cutting some of my Duel Runner budget upkeep. Or food. I can survive off snacks, I think..." She had started mumbling to herself the longer she talked before being snapped out of it by someone rather unexpected to her.

"Oh, hey Eve! Uh...." She blinks a few times as though she was actually processing being approached before hearing 'bike', "Wait why didn't you just lead with that? Sure thing! Though is it just the brakes or ya wanna like have me look into seeing what I could do to pimp it out? Crowds love a good hot rod ya know! Oooh or have you seen some of the like really unique D-wheels some people go for? Oh or how about getting some more practical add-ons? I may as well make sure your runners up to date on the card database too! Learned that lesson the hard way when mine was throwing up white cards on the screen...." She had already began walking towards where she thought Eve's room was, her heels clacking against the ground as her coat flowed behind her.

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“I think we need to have a discussion regarding the team’s last match, Sashisematta. Can we discuss it at some point before the next one? I know neither of us are dueling but I think it’s important.”

Sai smiled lightly, his eyelashing fluttering slightly, as if to show off the artificial extensions he was wearing. The almost effeminate appearance it created with his narrow facial features was sharply contrasted by his well-tailored blood red suit. "They're tough, aren't they? I had actually studied their style quite a lot, albeit for pleasure rather than business. Unfortunately, they proved even more vicious than I expected, and I was not afforded the turn in which my win was assured."

Rosalia’s stomach turned at the thought of what she would have to do here. Whatever what she had to do even was, she hadn’t a clue. All she knew was that Sai was putting on a heel act, and had told her it wouldn’t matter until he had lost. Which he had. Charlie’s loss had stricken him from the sky like Icarus, with Rosalia herself not far behind.

She had decided that, since this conversation wouldn’t likely be pleasant for Sai either, to let him choose the meeting place.

"If you think you are going to change who I am, your night will be wasted. As a counteroffer, I present you the opportunity to change the world, gaining a new perspective on who I am in the process. Would you like to step out of your cage for a night?"

Rosalia frowned, confused. "Change the world? Sashisematta, my intention is trained on changing the team, for the better, at that. What are you talking about?"

"Why are you on this team? Did Vega seek you out? Are you following in the footsteps of… another?"

"I was a part of the college team the others were on. You know this." She conspicuously didn’t answer the rest of the question, visibly uncomfortable.

"Why do you try to change the motivations of another without acknowledging your own?" Sai's expression was cold, as he stared into her eyes through the nonsensical eyelashes he wore.

"Sashisematta," Rosalia sighed, sounding tired and frustrated as she leaned towards him, massaging her temples. "Whatever your motivations, I have no issue with them, it’s just… I don’t want the rest of the team to suffer judgment because of it. They don’t deserve it. You don’t care that the audience thinks of you how they choose, they do. I do."

"Have you been losing sleep lately? Your tie seemed to have shaken you up."

"I’m taking steps to make sure my win percentage is better from here on," she said, a touch snappishly, which for a girl as quiet as she was was close to shouting. "I’ve already… been taking steps to improve. When Miss Sterling scouted us, she selected me because I was seen as the most promising in terms of skill level…" Her voice was softer now, quiet. "I intend not to let her down for it. Any of you, either."

"She doesn't care if you fail. Not in that way. Neither do I, honestly. Regardless, I hope you understand that your performance in that shootout was the best our team has had."

"Thank you, Sashisematta." Rosalia wasn’t sure she believed it, even if he did. Or if Vega believed it. But it wasn’t worth debating it. They were getting too far away from the reason she’d wanted to speak with Sai today anyway. "You told me things could change if you lost… Thanks to Charlie that’s happened now. So tell me. What does this mean for you?"

Sai narrowed his eyes, his brow furrowed, "I don't believe I said any such thing, and if I did, my mind changes with my clothes. I will behave however I feel appropriate given full context. Consistency of character is far less important than maintaining sovereignty." With a frown, he leaned closer to Rosalia, intentionally breaching her personal space and looming over her, "don't you believe it selfish that you keep dragging the conversation back without answering a single question of mine? There is nothing wrong with selfishness, but at least be cognizant."

She didn’t flinch. "I thought you enjoyed when we talked about you," she said flatly.

"Not nearly as much as I enjoy getting what I want."

"... So this so-called 'world-changing opportunity' you were speaking of?" Sai had backed her into a corner, whether he knew it or not, though Rosalia suspected he did. She decided to concede on giving him the thing that made her less uncomfortable.

Sai grinned, leaning back away from her, "I have a glorious time planned, and unlike my date with Rin it will be just the two of us."

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"Aaaaah... Let me clear some time... I'll send you a message and, uh... Figure something out, okay? ...Any suggestions, just send 'em to me and I'll see what I can do."

That's what Kendra said, but alas, it seemed like the Sleeper would only give a meeting time, saying that was when she had time. It seemed like the task of doing anything fun or exciting was solely on his shoulders. Shouldn't be too hard...especially with what he found out was happening this week. All he had to do was secure the tickets and he'd be golden.


Annnnnnnd with that, he did...


Daichi waited for Kendra at the specified meeting place, just enjoying the breeze the day brought. Kendra did say that it was up to him on what they did today…so he hoped that it wouldn't be too much of an issue with what he had.

Soon he saw his mate and gave a bit of a wave before flashing his usual smile. "Glad to see you had time today, Kendra." he said, before pulling out two tickets from…behind his own ear it seemed. "I was lucky enough to score these…there's an exhibition show Duel happening tonight between Team Free annnnnnd Team Fortuna!" He seemed extremely excited, almost having his smile evolve into one befitting a Cheshire Cat. "I figure we can VOD of the Duel to show the others…annnnd me being selfish…I really, really wanted to see them in action."

Kendra flinched for a moment, a tiny sigh escaping her as she rubbed at her cheek gently, “...Damn. I wasn’t able to scrounge together the cash for it, that’s… What I had been planning to do originally.”

Her hand brushed at her hair for a moment, pushing her bangs out of the way briefly, “I’ll make sure you get reimbursed for the cost of at least one of those, the second one might take some time…” She trailed off, but gave a small smile, “I thought it would be something you’d like to see, sorry I wasn’t able to make it happen on my own.”

"Okay firstly: no need to reimburse me on this. Like, it's not even an issue. Secondly: no need to be sorry about it. Honestly, the fact you wanted to do this as well shows that great minds think alike!" Daichi snickered, before handing her a ticket. "Think of it as…me helping the Vice-Captain keep her position. Cause lord knows we don't need Sai being anywhere near a title like that."

She let out a tired little sigh, “It’s an issue, but this isn’t the time to press it.” She rubbed at her head, her fingers digging up into her hairline for a moment… Before speaking once more, her voice was a bit more firm, “I don’t think Sai would want the position, he likes having… Options, I imagine. But I understand he can be hard to read, pretty much all the time.”

Daichi nodded, sighing as the two already began to walk in the direction of the stadium. "If I'm honest and can speak freely with no repercussions…" he started. "...it's hard to read Sai in general. Like, there's more than reading his personality or body language…it's puzzling to try and figure out how his mind works. His thought processes and styles when it comes to Action Duels vastly differ from the side of things that I've watched and adored from a young age…and yet, he's just as passionate about it as I am. And it's because of that…that I think me and him butt heads so much, neither of us wants to admit we're in the wrong. Then again…I've been reading the Duel Monsters Horoscopes lately and most of this may just be conjecture…" he said, chuckling nervously.

“Speaking frankly, I don’t like Sashisematta. I think he’s a ticking time bomb.” She waved her hand in the air lightly as the two of them approached that stadium proper, pausing for a moment as she considered her next words, “...But Vega is certain about him, and I’m not willing to give up my chance because of a personality clash. So here’s my advice.” She tilted her head towards Daichi, giving him a small grin, “Give him shit. That’s what he wants, and that’s what he should get, yeah? I think he wants people to argue with him, he already said he wants to play a heel for the audience, so get in his head… He wants to take it a step further and be a heel to us too. If I’m wrong? I don’t think he’ll mind too much anyway. He doesn’t seem to take things personally.”

Daichi took all this in stride, lulling over each word that Kendra spoke before smirking and shaking his head, eyeing the Vice-Captain with a side glance. "And here I thought you were simply just sleeping on us in those meetings. Turns out you're quite the smart cookie. Wise beyond your years, Kendra." he nodded, chuckling a tad bit. "Very well. If that's what I should do, then I'll make sure it's a grand spectacle."

Kendra whistled innocently for a moment as she shrugged her shoulders, “Like I said, I might be wrong… But I think this is where Sai’s head is at. I may not like him, but I can respect the idea of it… At least he had a plan for his horrible ideas, if that makes sense.” She chuckled for a moment underneath her breath, choosing to not acknowledge the compliments before, “...If something goes horribly wrong, I’ll step in… Since it was, well… My fault, a bit.”

"I appreciate the concern there, but if it all goes wrong…we'll handle it like guys do. No need for you to jump in." Daichi waved his hand dismissively at the thought. "After all, I could easily say no…and yet I'm going along with it. But honestly, ya might be right. Guess he's just got a whole illusion going on right now…and it's one I want to unveil…one day. Eh either that or the curtains fall on me in the process…who knows." He said with a small smirk, before finally taking his seat once they entered the stadium. "But Sai talking aside…this is going to be good, I can feel it."

Her fingers drummed against her arm for a moment as she crossed it over her stomach, a tiny sigh escaping her, “...Please don’t kill each other, that would give our team a much, much worse reputation.” She mumbled a tiny bit as she shook her head, stretching her arms up into the air as she let out a tiny chuckle, “You go ahead and sit… I’m gonna go get a coffee or something while there’s some time before the duels. Send me a message if you decide you want anything.”

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"Sashisematta, what exactly are we doing here?" It was a question tight with nerves.

Grinning out into the open night, Sai placed his fist on his waist, looking out upon the Seattle skyline from his perch atop the roof of the Space Needle. Looking back over his shoulder, he laughed to himself at Rosalia's position desperately clinging to an antenna. "We are redecorating!"

"Can you get back from the edge? You’re not scheduled for the next match but ones after that are hard to schedule if you’re smashed flat on the street." 

"Don't worry Rosa, I'm immortal." With slightly too much spring in his step, be whipped around to grab a duffle bag that was conspicuously already present when the two of them arrived at the roof through the access hatch. "It's like a cooking show, I already did all the prep so it's easy for you to follow along!"

"What are we redecorating up here?" Rosalia asked, trying to call above the whipping of the wind. Between the harsh winds this high, the stonewall conversation that had predated their arrival, and the fact she was pretty sure Sai had picked the lock to this roof in view of a camera despite his assurances it was a blind spot, she was starting to combine a thumping, pounding heartbeat with a vice-grip of a headache.

"It is far too quiet, Rosa, I can still hear myself think!" Reaching into the duffle bag, Sai pulled out a string of metal wind chimes. "Come on, come here."

Rosalia looked doubtedly at the edge of the roof. "I’m wearing heels, Sashisematta," she called pointedly, her weak voice almost snatched away on the wind completely.


She took a halting step forward. Usually she was steady as a rock on heels, used to wearing them. But now any trace of the confidence Rosalia managed to hold to herself was gone, ripped away with the wind, leaving only the unsure and scared young woman behind that sat behind the composure. Every antennae or railing (which there were far too few of, as far as she was concerned) was grabbed the second it came within her grasp, and she finally drew level with Sai. Despite her fear, she resolutely refused to try and grab on to him for support. But she definitely thought about it. "What now?"

Sai was already busy at work tying off the end of the cord that held the chimes to one of the antennas. Holding the fistful of metal in front of Rosalia, he smiled earnestly, "Isn't it easier now that you don't have to pretend to be sure of yourself? Here, toss this over the edge."

Rosalia stared blankly at the bundle of metal in her hand. It was secured to the antennae pretty well, but she wasn’t really sure why. "Sashisematta… Aren’t these going to eventually fall and hit someone?" She only then registered his full statement. "Pretend to be- What do you mean by that, Sashisematta?" She dropped the wind chimes from her hand. They bounced once on the tower below them before clattering off the edge with a musical jangle, flailing in the wind below them.

"Good job, but try tossing a little further next time," Sai stared out over the city, the lights twinkling in the night, "Fake it till you make it is the worst advice everyone gives. It is okay to fall short, and lying about it to yourself just causes a disconnect." Lowering himself down, he sat at the edge and dangled his feet off, "I was beaten by Charlie. That was my second loss since coming to America, you know? But I'm not going to make excuses, say I had bad luck, say their deck was too strong. I was too weak to beat them. I underestimated their tenacity and it gave them the opportunity they needed to beat me. I don't wish it went differently, though. Someone has to lose every match," with a smirk, he looked up to make eye contact with Rosalia, "unless they nuke the whole game and force a tie, that is."

Pulling out another set of chimes, this time strung upon what appeared to be Christmas lights, he held them out to Rosalia, "I have spent every waking moment since thinking in the background about how to beat them. I have been analyzing their deck choices, and play style, so that I may win the rematch. But I know I'm not there yet, and to acknowledge that is the most freeing thing of all."

Rosalia had bristled at his words, but as she watched him sit down, listened to him talk about his loss to Charlie, she slowly released the tension in her body. She gradually, slowly, carefully lowered herself down to sit next to Sai, looking out over the city with an unreadable expression on her face, though she somehow wouldn’t have doubted Sai could see past it.

"Do you know the thing I like about you, Sashisematta?"

"I'm quite certain there are several things you like about me."

She chose to ignore that. "You’re fearless." She reached into her purse, pulling out her deck and looking down at it, deep in thought. "All of us went into this with some form of nerves or jitters but you’ve weathered this storm with ease, even after losing to Charlie." Her fingers tightened around a railing beside her, not so much from fear of falling as anger, though it wasn’t at Sai. "I’ve spoken with Team Free since our last match," she admitted, "and they said that you were cowardly. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so ludicrously wrong in my life."

Tilting his head back, Sai let out a laugh that could perhaps even be heard all the way on the ground, despite the traffic. "They have no clue who I am. And it seems you are only starting to get an inkling of it. By the way, have you ever gone skydiving?"

Like a shot Rosalia was a solid six feet back from the railing, giving Sai an accusatory, horrified look. "Sashisematta!" she shouted, suddenly spooked. 

Donning a backpack, Sai elaborated, "Y'see, I actually jammed the roof access so that nobody could take the stuff down immediately…"

"... is there a reason why?"

"So we can't exactly take the stairs… and I do have several years experience BASE jumping, even in tandem…"

"SASHISEMATTA." There was true horror in her voice now.

"See! This is great! Now you are really showing your feelings! Isn't it a relief to not be bottling it up??"

"Please be quiet for a minute," she said tersely, squinting at her phone as she shakily scrolled through her contacts. "I’m calling Kendra to… have her do something, I’m not sure what, unjam the door or something, I don’t know."

"You and I both know Kendra is asleep right now."

"Then I’ll call Daichi or Evelyn or…" Her scrolling thumb stopped over the entry for 'Vega Sterling' and she cut herself off, looking down at the screen. She sighed deeply, pinching the bridge of her nose. It pained her to have to call Vega with something like this after the Team Free match. Pained her immensely. 

"She doesn't care if you fail."

"I’m calling Miss Sterling," she said finally, hitting the contact. 

Sai dramatically put a hand to his chest, his jaw agape, "Surely you aren't snitching on me!"

"Miss Sterling? Sashisematta might have talked me into doing something… unwise," she said over the phone by way of answer, glaring daggers at Sai with a touch of her dueling’s intensity. "We may need a bit of…"

She lowered the phone, looking back to Sai with her expression now exceptionally grim. "She said 'have fun,'" she said weakly.

"That's my girl! Let's go!"

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Posted (edited)

Turn 4

Felicity Fey of Team Fortuna’s board contained 3 Fortune Fairies in defense, Chee, En, and Ann, as well as the continuous spell Miracle Stone. She has 2 cards in hand before her turn begins.

LP: 2100

Her opponent on the other side, Ayakuro “Aya” Hifumi, had Oneiros, the Dream Mirror Tormentor, Phantasmos, the Dream Mirror Foe, Dream Mirror of Terror, and a set card. She has 2 cards in hand.

LP: 4000

“Draw for turn! Yoooo, I got it!” Felicity’s face beamed from the field, onlookers swearing there were stars in her eyes, “I reveal Fortune Fairy Swee when I draw her, allowing me to summon her immediately!”

Placing the card on the disk, the watery fairy appeared with a sparkle, her half-lidded eyes accompanied by a smile, as she pointed at a monster on Ayakuro’s board.

“When she’s summoned from the hand, I can target a monster you control and banish it temporarily. And I target… Your Oneiros!”

Next to Aya, an angelic man with black wings stood with a fierce expression, more than twice her side. With dark wisps floating around him, as well as an angry red hound at his side, his wings began to flap as a red-eye on his chest began to glow.

“Not so fast! I activate the effect of Oneiros, the Dream Mirror Tormentor! Since I have…” She motioned to the field that the duel had become, a dark castle courtyard, with wicked laughs breaking out occasionally, “Dream Mirror of Terror, I can negate one monster effect! End of Dreams!”

A beam shot from the eye in Oneiros’ chest, hitting Swee and causing her to cry out, a red aura around her. With a pout, Felicity moved to continue her turn, but…

“Next I activate my set Metaverse! I use it to activate Dream Mirror of Joy from my deck!”

The horrible nightmarish castle area began to bend and stretch, but as it began to form cracks all over it, Aya grew a big smile, taking in a breath. Looking around, Felicity quickly stole an action card, using Fortune Fairy Chee as a means to boost her up. Moments later, the nightmare shattered, and was replaced with an identical castle shining with resplendent light, complete with the sun in the sky and cherubs flitting about.

“Then I use Oneiros’ other effect, as I control Joy. I tribute him in order to bring out his good half from the extra deck… Oneiros, the Dream Mirror Erlking in defense!”

As the light of the field rained down on Oneiros and the beast beside him, Oneiros’ wings began to change color, folding in on him… Before suddenly opening triumphantly, revealing the same figure but now adorned with lighter colors and a kind smile as the eye on his chest faded.


Daichi, who was trying his best to keep his composure while also recording the Duel, couldn't help but get excited at seeing this. Felicity Fey and her Fortune Fairies against Hifumi Ayakuro's Dream Mirror. And of course, while he was disappointed that Felicity's combination fell flat at first, it was obvious that her and her monsters were definitely working in the vein of trying the next thing and simply going with the flow. "Using Chee to boost her to get the Action Card…" he nodded, remembering the fact of how Honey utilized her monster to move about the Action Field more freely. "Definitely needing to make a note of that." Daichi muttered, glancing at Kendra. "What do you think, Kendra? How's things looking thus far?"

Kendra tapped at her cheek for a moment as she watched the ongoing duel, a tiny mumble escaping her as she yawned lightly, “Action duels are so hard to keep up with…” She chuckled softly underneath her breath as she watched Daichi falling into the duel more and more…

Her hand propped her head up as she caught the energy to properly respond to Daichi, “I’m not sure who has the edge in this exact situation, to be honest. I haven’t looked into either deck very much, and with Action Cards being a factor, it’s hard to guess, but…” She closed her eyes as she mumbled to herself, “Fey is relying pretty heavily on top decks, while her opponent seems pretty well set up. If she can’t manage to end it this turn, then… I’m willing to bet she loses from here.”

"It's the style of the Fortune Fairies, unfortunately…same time, in most scenarios, the Fairies usually support other Spellcasters…though the best one for them to aid is Fortune Ladies" Daichi sighed a bit. "And since Felicity mainly runs the Fairies, you can see how it generally relies on the top decking. Heh, removing the 'Action' aspect of it, you got the board state and general profiling of Felicity fairly well, Kendra. Would expect nothing less from our Sleeper." he snickered.

Kendra gave a soft smile to Daichi, a little chuckle escaping her as she let out that sigh once more, “It’s the one thing I can do. I don’t think I could keep up on the Action Field, that’s why I stick with Standard duels. But with those, you have to pay attention to every move. There are fewer variables…”

She didn’t want to say what came after that statement, but ultimately she didn’t want to hold that thought either, “...I imagine that’s why Rosalia took her tie so hard. In the end, a win or loss in a Standard Duel always comes down to being prepared for your opponent. There are fewer mix-ups that can happen…”

"I see…" Daichi muttered, lulling this over in his mind. He needed to keep that in mind.


“Now in my main phase, I switch my three defending fairies to attack… then activate the equip spell One-Shot Wand! By equipping it to Chee, she’ll gain an additional 800 attack! That’s on top of the 2000 she sits out due to Miracle Stone!”

As the fairy’s wand was replaced with the staff ending in a crescent, her attack grew to 2800.

“So what?” Aya jeered, putting a foot onto the balcony of her dream castle and resting one arm on it as she leaned forward, “2800 can’t beat Oneiros. Unless you’re plannin’ on another topdeck?”

“You got it. I proceed to battle and attack Oneiros with Chee, which activates Miracle Stone! When my fairies attack, I can draw a card… and I believe the top card of my deck is going to beeee…” She drew it dramatically, revealing it to Aya without a second thought, “Fortune Fairy Hu!”

A voice rang from the crowd, somehow carrying over the chaos of the arena as the Action Duel raged on, "Never underestimate the Fey fortune!"

“You what!?”

Placing the card onto the disk, Felicity was proven correct, as the smug looking wind fairy appeared, waving her wand to make Felicity add a card from her banished pile to my hand.

“When summoned this way, she returns a banished Spellcaster to my hand… Effect Veiler! But that also means all my fairies are stronger by another 500, at 2500 each!”

As the fairies grew stronger, with Chee going up to 3300, Aya grit her teeth, before motioning to her dog monster.

“Phantasmos activates! Since I have Dream Mirror of Joy up, it can tribute itself in order to summon its light half from the deck… but this also activates Oneiros’ effect! When a monster I control is tributed, I can target a card on the field to destroy it, and I choose Miracle Stone!”

“Not so fast! Action Spell - Dream Shift, activate!”



Action Spell - Dream Shift
Action Spell
Activate one of the following effects:
-If “Dream Mirror of Joy” is on the field: Target 1 card you control; the next time it would be destroyed this turn, it is not.
-If “Dream Mirror of Terror” is on the field: Target 1 monster on the field; It loses 1000 ATK until end of turn.


“I use its effect to target Miracle Stone, making it survive Oneiros’ effect!”

“Tsk! Fine, the chain resolves and I summon Phantasmos, the Dream Mirror Friend from the deck! When this hound appears, it revives one of my Dream Mirror monsters… and I choose Morpheus, the Dream Mirror White Knight!”

A happy and massive white dog appeared next to Oneiros, taking the place of its dark counterpart, before sniffing around. It ran back towards the castle, away from the action… before happily charging back with the knight in tow, with the blonde human quickly kneeling defensively.

“And when he’s summoned, he can’t be destroyed by battle or effects this turn. So, would you like to change attack targets?”

“Nope!” Felicity grinned, pointing at Oneiros again, “Chee, destroy Oneiros!”

The earth fairy saluted before flying in, dodging a blast of light from the Erlking… only to comedically bonk him on the head, causing light to pour from every part of its body.

“Alright, I overcame him!”

“Useless!” Aya cried in response, her grin back, “When Oneiros is destroyed by your card, he can revive a Dream Mirror… return to the field, Oneiros, the Dream Mirror Tormentor!”

As the light from the destroyed king faded away, his wings turned black and his expression dark once more, with the red eye on his chest opening back up.

“When the battle ends, I can destroy One-Shot Wand to draw 1,” Felicity retorted, before glancing at what she drew, “Then… Hu destroys Phantasmos! Fortune Gale!”

The wind caused the poor defensive dog to whimper as it was torn apart, leaving the knight and Oneiros standing on either side of Aya. With a tilt of her head, Oneiros extended his hand, which she hopped onto, bracing herself against his body.

“And then I… I set one and end my turn!”


Kendra hummed for a moment as the end of the duel came through. Sure enough, Aya managed to stabilize the duel in the long run…

“...I should’ve been paying more attention to the other matches too.” She laughed for a moment, her hand rubbing at her neck for a brief moment, “I was almost surprised when Free lost, despite Aya’s win…”

"It was all an amazing turn of events." Daichi nodded, putting the camera away before leaning back in his chair with the widest smile on his face. "Honestly, that's why the Duels that Team Fortuna have are so exciting. They have this…this energy to em, Action or otherwise. They can pump the audience up so much that they even get them to feel like they're a part of it rather than just watching the show." He watched as Fortuna ultimately took their curtain call bow at the end of it all. "...it's one of the reasons I admire them. And…it's one of the reasons I hope to reach and achieve that level of Action Dueling. To enchant and entertain the masses to the point of them being a part of this rather than simply being a part of the audience."

A small chuckle escaped Kendra as she nodded her head softly, “It’s great, to be able to channel that energy productively. Not everyone has that skill. You do though, I’m sure of it. It might take some time to really settle into a rhythm for it, but… If this is what you want to achieve, you’ll make it there..”

Edited by Kazooie

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