Trial by Exodia
It was the day of Kain’s tournament. At the Spirit Household, Django, Tempest, and Chronos were making final checks and tweaks to their decks, all three determined to win.
Tempest gathered up her cards, saying, “Looks like that about covers it. We should be heading down to the center of the city, as that’s where the start of the tournament will be announced.”
Django said, “Don’t forget about these things.” He gestured to three gold pieces on the table, each of them in a different star-shaped frame, “These came in the mail after we registered for the tournament. My guess is that they’re the next twist in Kain’s tournament.”
Chronos picked one up, looking it over, “It looks like some sort of gem-like star-shaped puzzle. We each got one piece, so if I had to guess, we need more of them to complete it. That may mean that our cards aren’t the only things getting wagered. But we’ll find out exactly what these things are soon enough.”
They each took one of the star-framed pieces, placing them into their pockets. After gathering up the last of their cards, Django opened up a Warp Gate, allowing the three of them to leave the building and head toward the center of Cyber City.
Meanwhile, in his apartment, Cody was still fuming with himself over the loss of Excalibur.
He roared in frustration, “I gotta find a way to win back my Heroic Champion – Excalibur! I can’t believe I let Lucifer’s newest minions get the best of me and steal my Excalibur. Why did Jade get all the brains in the family? Yeah, I got the killer looks and smooth style but… Jade!” He quickly picked up his Duel Gazer, “Speakin’ of brains I almost forgot to check up on my little sister. I hope she's doin’ okay after that big heart operation.” He waited a moment before Jade appeared onscreen, “Jade! It's me, Cody.”
She smiled, “Hey there, Cody! You still look a little upset? Are you still mad about what happened that night?”
“Oh, I'm still mad, all right, but fer two reasons. But I’ll deal with it. The reason I'm callin’ is to check up on you. How are you feelin’? It’s been a few days since yer operation, so I wanted to make sure you were recoverin’ quickly.”
She smiled, “Thanks Cody, I'm doing good. You're so lucky to have Django as your friend, as he was willing to pay for this operation. The doctors said that if I had waited any longer, it would be too late and… well…” she trailed off.
Cody said reassuringly, “But we don’t have to worry about that now, right? According to the doc, your operation was a success, so you’re free to live a long life. I’m just glad to know that you'll be fine from here on out. Listen, I gotta go and get ready for Kain’s tournament, as well as settle the score with that rattlesnake who stole my Excalibur. I’ll be in touch later on. Hopefully you’ll be able to watch your big bro win the whole thing! Just rest up and take care of yourself, okay, sis?”
Jade nodded, “I will, Cody, just be careful yourself. After what happened that night I’d hate to see you get hurt again. You really are lucky to have Django around, as he’s like a hero, always helping those who need it.”
Cody gained a warm smile, “Yeah, Django is an awesome guy. Hard to believe he was distrustful and a loner all those years ago. Anyway, you rest up, I have to prepare, but I’ll check up on you later on. Bye, Jade.”
“Bye, Cody, good luck.” and she hung up, leaving Cody alone with his thoughts.
A short time later, fireworks were going off in the heart of Cyber City. Duelists from all over were flocking to the streets, eager to Duel. At that time, Django’s Warp Gate opened up in the middle of the city, allowing Tempest, Chronos, and himself to emerge, the gate closing up behind him.
Tempest said, “Well, looks like the tournament should be kicking off soon. I just hope Cody and the twins get here soon.”
Chronos pointed, “You won’t have long to wait. Here comes Leo and Fiona now.”
The twins jogged up to the others with everything ready to Duel.
Leo said, “I hope we’re not late.”
Tempest replied, “No, you’re on time, nothing has been announced just yet, so you haven’t missed anything.”
Fiona sighed in relief, “That’s good. Leo and I almost slept thorough our alarms again, so we’re lucky we didn’t miss anything yet. But I still don’t see Cody anywhere. I hope he shows up soon.”
A voice then said, “Django! Tempest!”
They all turned to see Draco jog up to them, stopping just short of the group.
Leo said, “Good to see you again, Draco. Nice threads, too.”
Draco smiled, “Yeah, thanks. And a pretty big turnout for this thing. I'm glad I did some extra customizing for my deck before this started, having gotten a hold of some really good cards recently. It’s been a while since I've had the opportunity to flex my muscles, so to speak.”
Just then a voice stated, “Django and Tempest. I thought we'd see you two here.”
They all turned to the source of the voice, which was not to their liking.
Tempest growled, “If it isn’t Roger and Vanessa. I thought I smelled something foul. I can’t believe you two actually qualify for this.”
Vanessa sneered, “Oh, we qualify, all right, and are going to take you down. Just you wait, green girl, because now it’s payback time for all the humiliation you’ve given me!”
Roger gained a sneer, “And Django, next time we Duel, I’ll crush you. My deck has been fortified with new and old bruisers. This time you won’t stand a chance.”
However, just before he could laugh, someone put him in a headlock from behind, revealed to be Onyx.
“Those are small threats coming from two of the biggest losers I’ve ever seen!” the Earth Elemental sneered.
Django said, “Onyx Hunter? Great, we’re attracting the crazy ones today.”
Onyx chose to ignore that comment, stating, “If anyone is gonna crunch and munch up the competition, it will be me and my Crystal Beasts!”
Roger snapped, “You think you’ll win this tournament, razor mouth!?”
Onyx sneered, “Of course. There is nothing that can handle the power and skill of my fierce Crystal Beasts!”
Vanessa huffed, “Your costume jewelry monsters will be shattered in no time flat.”
“Don’t be so sure. You obviously don’t know that I’ve won several tournaments. This one will just be another easy victory for the Crystal Crocodile! After all, my rank is nine stars, the second-highest rank possible! You should be begging me for mercy. After all, my powerful gem-infused beasts can easily turn your Noble Knights into scratching posts.”
Roger stated confidently, “Well I've got monsters that’ll make your head spin. But don’t expect me to tell you what they are.”
Onyx then grabbed Roger’s shirt and started to shake him aggressively, “Well maybe I can just mangle them out of you, Roger!”
All the while, Django and the others had odd expressions on their faces, being totally ignored by the three arguing Duelists.
Chronos said, scratching his head nervously, “Some Duelists just never change. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad one.”
At that time, however, not far from them, Dusk was sitting at a café table, a laptop in front of him. On the screen it showed the various Duelist profiles and their three rarest cards. First were Django and Tempest, then Roger and Vanessa, who both had a rank of four stars, then Draco and Onyx, who had a rank of eight and nine stars, respectively. He gained a dark grin as he looked over their profiles.
He said, “So much prey, so little time. Their rare cards will make excellent additions to Master Lucifer’s collection. The only question is who should be my next victim?”
Meanwhile, Vanessa stated, “We’ll settle this little argument when the tournament begins. Then we’ll see who the losers are in this game!”
Onyx smirked, “Fine with me. I’ll be waiting to turn you two into chew toys. So come after me, if you dare.”
And the three left the area, seemingly forgetting about Django and the others.
Django simply said, “Well that was… interesting.”
Another voice called out, “Yoo-hoo! Django!”
They turned to see Cho Wu run up to them. She was a curvy and fairly top-heavy Asian female with pale skin, bright green eyes, and black hair tied up in two buns with long locks around her ears. She was in a blue and gold Chinese dress with a longer slit skirt with matching shoes. As she approached, Draco could feel his heart beat harder, while Tempest could feel her temper rising.
Cho ran up to Django, “Hiya, Django-wango! How my pumpkin? Listen, I know when the tournament begins we’re gonna be arch-rivals, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get lovey-dovey off the battlefield, right?”
Before he could say anything, she hugged him, causing his face to turn red, while Tempest’s eyes spelled “death”, and Draco seemed to be sulking in jealousy.
Tempest spat, “Hey, break it up! I don’t care if you are the Asian Duel Monsters Champion, Django has to focus on the tournament, not on you. So let him go, or else.”
Cho ignored Tempest, saying, “I look forward to our Duel. It'll be a Duel of Love! Bye-bye, my sweet dumpling.”
Cho then planted a small kiss on his cheek before running away, just seconds before Tempest’s resisted urge to strangle her broke.
Draco muttered gloomily, “How does he get all the hot chicks so easily?” He quickly recovered and said, “I guess I better be off as well. Remember, the next time we meet, we’re rivals, and I intend on beating you this time, Django.”
Django, who had managed to recover, replied, “We’ll see about that, Draco. But may the best man win.”
Draco nodded and walked away, leaving the others alone.
Fiona then said, “Well, we should probably try to find Cody before this starts. Knowing Kain, we don’t want to give him a chance to humiliate Cody in front of so many elite Duelists, so we better find him.”
After a few minutes of searching, they came up with nothing, returning to the center square.
Tempest asked, “Any luck, guys?”
Leo shook his head, “None whatsoever. I hope he didn’t sleep in. But, then again, knowing how upset he is about losing Excalibur may motivate him to find that Shadow Stalker to get payback. I just hope he doesn’t do something crazy and get hurt again.”
Just then a loud voice said, “Greetings, Duelists, welcome to Cyber Clash Battle City.”
Roger and Vanessa were looking around, trying to find the source of the voice.
Roger said, “That sounded like Kain.”
Vanessa asked, “But where is he?”
At his respective location, Onyx looked around, “Where’s his voice coming from?”
At the same time at his spot, Draco said, “Kain? Where is he?”
Suddenly a large shadow formed overhead. Everyone looked up to see one of Kain’s hoverships coasting over the city. On each side of it were two jumbo holo-screens, and on each screen was Kain’s face.
Kain stated from the holo-screens, “It’s time to begin this tournament. I hope none of you came looking for a friendly game. Cyber Clash will be a brutal warzone. Before we begin I thought I’d let you in on some of the new rules, just in case you want to back out now. Let’s begin with the first and most important rule. Whenever a Duel starts, both players must ante up one of their three rarest cards. The winner takes all the wagered cards. If you don’t have the guts to lose your precious cards, I suggest you forfeit now.”
Vanessa smirked, “Bring it on, Kain!”
Roger nodded, “Right on! So the more Duels we win the more rare cards we acquire for our decks.”
Draco stated strongly, “In the name of the Twilight family, I accept your challenge, Kain Kannon!”
Onyx gave a toothy grin, “Taking cards from these losers sounds like a blast. I’m all over it.”
Kain continued, “And anyone idiotic enough can challenge me to a Duel, as I’ll also be participating.”
Leo said sourly, “That’s a big duh.”
Kain grinned, “And speaking of winning, only the sixteen strongest Duelists will make it to the final round. And these finals will be held in a hidden location.”
Onyx snapped, “Then how do we get there!?”
Draco quirked an eyebrow, “If the location is hidden, no one will show up.”
Kain continued, “In order to find the finals you’ll need these Star Pieces. You each received one in the mail after you registered, but one isn’t enough. You need six to make a complete star. Every time you defeat your opponent, not only do you get their rare cards, but at least one Star Piece as well. You can wager as many Star Pieces as you want. Once you have a competed star, simply place it on your D-Pad’s touchscreen and it’ll activate a global positioning satellite, which will transmit the location to you, as well as officially register you as a finalist. But the Top 16 matches is a long way from now and most of you will be eliminated way before that happens. Everything I said and more can be found in my tournament rulebook, which you can access online via your D-Pads. But only one Duelist can claim the title as World Champion. Now let the tournament… BEGIN!”
Django said, “Okay, guys, let’s do our best.”
Just then a familiar voice snarled, “Where are ya, you freak!?”
They all turned to see Cody storming into the area, obviously looking for Dusk.
Fiona said, “Uh-oh, Cody’s pretty fired up. Better get to him before he gets into any more trouble.”
Dusk was still reviewing the Duelist profiles on his laptop when he noticed Cody coming, gaining a dark grin.
Cody snapped, “I found ya, Dusk!”
The Shadow Stalker sneered, “You again? Didn’t you learn your lesson the last time?”
“Yeah, never let a freak show in a cape slap ya around. Listen, you’ve got my Heroic Champion – Excalibur, and I want it back, so it’s time to Duel!”
Dusk smirked, “I have no desire to Duel you, Cody Lionheart. Even though it would give me a chance to obtain your Number, beating you would be too boring, as you fell into my trap easily last time. So don’t bother me, I have other prey to stalk. Then I’ll deal with you.”
Cody snarled, “Yeah, well, that’s too bad, because I’m not leavin’ until I win back my Excalibur!”
Django called, “Cody! Hold on!”
The redhead turned to see Django and the others run up to him. This caught Dusk’s attention, gaining a dark grin.
Cody stated, “D-Man! That’s the goon who swiped my Excalibur! They call themselves Shadow Stalkers, which to me translates as cape-wearin’, card-stealin’ freaks! And this one owes me a rematch so I can reclaim my Excalibur!”
Dusk replied, “I already told you, Lionheart, I have no desire to Duel you. Beating you again would be too easy, and I’d rather have a more exciting hunt. But maybe your friend Django would be willing to be my next victim. It would be my pleasure to stalk the World Champion and claim his Dark Magician, so I challenge Django to a Duel!”
The redhead snapped, “This is between you and me, got it?”
Django stated, “Cody, stand down. Fine, Shadow Stalker, I accept your challenge!”
“D-Django!? You can’t be serious!”
The inventor replied, “I have to, Cody, as it’s the only way to win back your Excalibur. I promise I’ll crush him. So do we have a deal? If I win, you must return Heroic Champion – Excalibur to Cody. And if you win, I’ll hand over my Dark Magician to you.”
Cody stated, “Django, don’t do it. I can take him. I’d never forgive myself if that ugly cretin stole your oldest Spirit Partner. Let me at ‘em, as it’s…” but was cut off.
“Thank you for offering, Cody, but I’ll deal with him. I’ll have to risk losing my Dark Magician eventually. This is my first Duel of the Cyber Clash tournament, as well as the first step in shutting down any plans Lucifer may have. So leave him to me.”
“Wait a second, D-Man…”
Dusk then said, “Don’t you dare utter a word to Django about my strategy, Cody Lionheart. If you reveal how I defeated you, your Excalibur will be ripped to shreds. So I’d give that motor mouth of yours a rest if I were you.”
Django stated strongly, “Fine, Shadow Stalker, let’s get this Duel underway.” He armed himself with his Infinity Disk, “Infinity Disk, ready for battle!” He then placed his Duel Gazer on, “Duel Gazer, power up!”
Dusk armed himself with his standard D-Pad and Duel Gazer, while the rest of the gang donned their Duel Gazers.
“Augmented Reality Visual link established.”
They both drew their starting hands, Life Points set to 4000.
At the time, the Spirit Tech satellite picked up the signal from the Duel, stating, “Detection of Duel System activation. Redirecting and beaming status to Kannon Corp mainframe.”
Kain, who was watching, said, “How fitting that Django is participating in the very first Duel of my tournament. And it appears that the access code he gave me in order to use his Duel System is working perfectly, as I can keep track of every card played.”
Nicholas nodded, “Yeah, and our systems are recording all cards being played. If any Numbers are played, we’ll know exactly where they are. Then we can notify Django where they are so he can get them off the streets and away from Lucifer.”
Django drew a card, “I draw first, so get ready to be defeated.”
Dusk looked at his hand, thinking, “Excellent, I’ve already got two pieces of Exodia: the Right Arm and Left Leg. Only three pieces left and I can summon the deadliest beast of all.”
Cody stated, “D-Man, watch out for…” but was cut off.
“Silence, Lionheart, or say goodbye to Excalibur!”
Django said, “To start things off, I place two cards face-down on the field. Next, I summon Tour Guide From the Underworld in Attack Mode!”
A new monster appeared. Tour Guide From the Underworld was a redheaded female with pale skin, fangs, and red eyes. She was wearing a blue coat and skirt with red stitching, a matching hat, black stockings with skulls on them, a large purse with a skull and crossbones on it, and a blue shoes. She was a Level Three monster with stats of 1000/600.
“When my Tour Guide is Normal Summoned, I can Special Summon a Level Three Fiend monster from my hand or deck with its effects negated. So I think I’ll summon my Kuribandit from my deck to the field in Attack Mode!”
His Infinity Disk ejected a card, which he played right away, summoning Kuribandit (1000/700) to the field.
“Now I Overlay my Kuribandit and Tour Guide! With these two monsters I build the Overlay Network! I Xyz Summon Number 17: Leviathan Dragon, in Attack Mode!”
Both Tour Guide and Kuribandit became purple orbs of light, shot up into the air, and entered the galaxy-style Overlay Network. Out emerged Leviathan Dragon’s sealed form that quickly unfolded into its true form of Number 17: Leviathan Dragon (2000/0).
Leo cheered, “Awesome, he summoned a Number on the first turn! That’s showing him who’s boss, Django!”
Django then stated, “I’m not through, Shadow Stalker, for now I activate Leviathan Dragon’s ability. Once a turn, by using an Overlay Unit, I can increase its Attack by 500 points. So I’m gonna do just that!”
Leviathan Dragon devoured one of its Overlay Units and started to glow, its power increasing by 500 to 2500.
“And with that I end my turn. Your move, Shadow Stalker.”
Dusk said, “I predict that I’ll draw a Graceful Charity.” He drew his card, smiling, “How about that? I was correct. This allows me to draw three cards and discard two.” He then said silently, “Excellent, I’ve gained the Right Leg of Exodia. Just two more pieces and I’ll obliterate Django once and for all.” He then said aloud, “I place one monster in face-down Defense Mode, one card face-down, and finally I activate the Spell: The Dark Door. Now only one monster can attack per Battle Phase. Your chances for victory just got even slimmer. So that should do for now.”
Django said silently, “All he’s done is draw cards and play defense. He’s waiting for something.” He then said aloud, “It’s my turn, I Draw!” He took a card from his hand, “I summon Gamma the Magnet Warrior to the field in Attack Mode!”
Gamma the Magnet Warrior (1500/1800) appeared on the field, ready for battle.
Dusk stated, “I activate my Trap: Light of Intervention! This Trap prevents both of us from placing monsters into face-down Defense Mode, as well as forces all monsters in face-down Defense Mode to switch to face-up Defense Mode. That means any monsters played in Defense Mode can only be played face-up. So this reveals my hidden monster, which is Stone Statue of the Aztecs.”
His hidden monster was revealed. Stone Statue of the Aztecs looked like a statue made of blocks of stone, moss green in color, with large stone “hands” and a large face. It was a Level Four monster with stats of 300/2000.
Fiona asked, “Why would he do that? That Trap reveals all of his monsters as well, so there is no real benefit I can see that it does him.”
Leo said, “Well, for starters, it prevents Flip Monsters from using their abilities, like Morphing Jar, by preventing them from being set. It also shuts down the main deck Ghostrick monsters, which is another set of cards Django uses. And while it reveals his monsters as well, that may play a part in his strategy. So let’s just watch for now and see what happens.”
Django stated, “You may be protecting yourself with stone walls and stalling cards, but in order for you to win this Duel, you’ll need to attack eventually. So what are you waiting for?”
Dusk sneered, “Oh, you’ll find out soon enough. So go ahead, do your worst.”
“I think I will. Leviathan Dragon, attack Stone Statue of the Aztecs with Shock Stream Blast!”
Leviathan Dragon charged up energy in its mouth and fired a powerful beam at Stone Statue of the Aztecs. The blast obliterated it easily.
“I’ll end my turn there.”
Dusk grinned, “I predict I’ll draw a One Day of Peace.” He drew his card, smirking, “How about that? I was right again. So I activate it. Now we each draw one card, but neither one of us take damage until the end of your turn. So draw your card.”
Both he and Django drew one card from their decks.
“Next up, I activate the Pot of Greed I just drew. This allows me to draw two more cards from my deck.” He drew two more cards, looked at them, and then said, “I summon Jar Turtle to the field in Defense Mode.”
Jar Turtle looked like a large red turtle with a Jar of Greed on its back. It was a Level Four monster with stats of 200/2100.
“Then I place this card face-down on the field to end my turn. That’s all for now. But if you only knew what was waiting in my hand, you’d forfeit now and surrender your Dark Magician to me.”
Django stated, “I never quit, no matter what. I didn’t survive this long by running away. So whatever you have planned, it will fail. So I Draw!”
Dusk then stated, “I activate my Trap: Jar of Greed. I can draw one more card from my deck. However, with Jar Turtle on the field, I can draw two cards instead every time a Jar of Greed is used.” He drew two cards, thinking, “Excellent, I got Exodia’s head. Just one more piece and Django is finished.”
Cody, who was getting more and more tense, finally stated, “Django, hold it! I can’t stand by and watch this! I won’t let you lose your Dark Magician for me!”
Django stated strongly, “That’s enough, Cody!” This startled the redhead, but Django said calmly, “Sorry, but you must not reveal the Shadow Stalker’s strategy to me. There are very few strategies that will surprise me. You’re my friend, Cody, and I’m fighting this fight for you, as I know you would do the same for me if the situation was reversed. Even a tactic like Exodia can be easily crushed with the right cards.” It then dawned upon him, making him smile, “Of course, it’s so simple. I’m on to you, Shadow Stalker! You’re planning to summon Exodia the Forbidden One!”
Dusk exclaimed, “Oh no! How did you figure it out!?”
Cody cheered, “Yeah, that’s the way, buddy!”
Django gave him a thumbs-up, “See, Cody? You helped me figure out his strategy without actually telling it to me. And since it’s an Exodia deck, I know exactly what I need to do to shut it down. Having used Exodia once years ago, back in my first deck, I know his strengths, and his weaknesses, quite well.”
Dusk said, “That’s nice work, but it’s too little too late. Everyone knows that Exodia is the most powerful monster in all of Duel Monsters. How will you stop the unstoppable Exodia?”
The inventor grinned, “Easy. Exodia may be unstoppable as a whole, but I already have a plan to shut it down. But let’s move on, shall we? I Tribute my Gamma the Magnet Warrior to summon my Summoned Skull in Attack Mode!”
Gamma vanished from the field, but was replaced by Summoned Skull (2500/1200), who looked just as mean and vicious as always.
“Now, time to take the first step in shutting down Exodia. I activate my Trap: Lightforce Sword! This card will randomly banish one card from your hand for three full turns! So I’ll aim for a piece of Exodia!”
The shining double-edged sword appeared above Django, taking aim at Dusk’s hand.
Fiona stated, “If this works, then this Shadow Stalker will be short a piece of Exodia, giving Django more time and opportunities to shut it down for good!”
Chronos nodded, “Yes, and the chances are pretty good. That guy has five cards in his hand, and judging by his confidence, he must have at least three pieces of Exodia already in his hand. So if the Lightforce Sword works, then that’ll at least slow down this Shadow Stalker’s plan.”
Leo said, “But remember, Lightforce Sword randomly banishes a card, so Django can’t control which card it’ll slash. While the odds are in his favor, it’s still a gamble. But if it works, then Django will have plenty of time to destroy Exodia for good.”
Tempest said, “We just have to have faith. Lightforce Sword has never let Django down before, so let’s hope it doesn’t start now.”
Django stated, “Go, Lightforce Sword! Slash one of his cards!”
The sword took aim and fired itself toward Dusk’s hand. It pierced a card, pinning an enlarged version of it behind him, face-down.
Dusk wailed, “No! You pierced Exodia’s Right Arm! That leaves me with only three pieces in my hand! You will pay for that!”
Django grinned, “You see what I mean? While Exodia as a whole is unbeatable, the five pieces that he’s composed of are easy prey. And that’s just the start, Shadow Stalker! I know what I need to do in order to shut you down for good! As a follow-up to that threat, I'll do this! Summoned Skull, destroy Jar Turtle with Lightning Strike!”
Summoned Skull generated a large amount of electrical energy above its head, gave a scratchy roar, and fired massive bolts at Jar Turtle. Jar Turtle was pummeled by the lightning before shattering into nothing.
Dusk growled, “You may have figured out my plan and delayed it, but the unbeatable Exodia will still crush you. So give up, as it’ll be all over soon, with me as the victor, and your precious Dark Magician in my control!”
Next Chapter: Stopping the Unstoppable