RANMA, MASTER OF THE CARDS

DISCLAIMER: The same old routine. All characters belong to their respective creators, so why bother me about those details?

<< >>: Lyrics

< >: Thoughts

AP/DP: Attack/Defense Points

L#: Level Points

LP: Life Points

Ranma-Yami: Ranma merged with Yami

Introduction

We begin hearing the lyrics of the Yugi-Oh theme as the scene fades in on Ranma's Millennium Puzzle.

<<Your move, your move, YOUR MOVE!>>

Ranma becomes Ranma-Yami. Behind him, the Slayers gang appears at the ready.

<<Ranma, Master of the Cards!>>

The scene switches to Ranma-Yami and Kaiba facing each other off.

<<Ranma, Ranma, Master of the Cards!>>

We see Pegasus watching on with his Millennium Eye.

<<Master of the Cards!>>

Ranma's Dark Magician blows away several other Monsters, but then faces off against Kaiba's Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

<<Ranma, Ranma, Ranma...>>

We see Ranma and his friends defeating Monster after Monster, as Xellos watches with his 'that's a secret' smile.

<<IT'S TIME TO D-D-D-D-DUEL!>>

We see Luna appearing side by side with the Scarlet Sage. Then we see Amelia as the Mystic Light, and Gourry as the Flame Champion. Finally we see Lina really ticked off as she draws a Kuribo, then letting off a Dragon Slave in frustration.

The entire scene becomes blanketed in light, then we have Ranma-Yami standing high with one arm raised with a card in hand. He is surrounded by his best Monsters as the logo flashes before him.

<<Ranma, Master of the Cards!>>

Chapter 5

Part 2

Duels of the Heart and Soul

The crowds gathered about the area where Ranma and Kaiba were facing off. Those who were not nearby, were glued to the monitor screens that were set up all around the area. In fact, the monitors themselves were hooked into the airwaves and as a result, just about all the Duel Monster fans in world became tuned in.

<How the Hell did I get into this?> Ranma wondered as he found himself in a match with the world champion of Duel Monsters. As soon as he saw his image being projected on the large screens, he knew that there was no way that he could back out of this now. With his face now plastered all over the television screens in Japan, it would only be a matter of time before his usual headaches would find him.

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"Where is that jerk?" Akane grumbled as she moved through the crowds to find her fiancé.

She wasnít here to ask him to take her as his partner for the tournament, no way! That was only her father and Genmaís idea. She just wanted to show him that she was just as good a Duelist as he was, thatís all. It had always irked her that Ranma was better-looking as a girl, able to cook and do other domestic chores, and of course, was the better martial artist.

However, she had always took some solace at being a better card player than he was. Then suddenly, he had become the master of one of the most complex card games ever created. The three defeats he had handed to her had been downright humiliating and she wouldnít rest until she beat him! She had been practicing all morning and had managed to do some trading with the other Duelists. Now she was ready to show that smart-aleck a thing or two about being able to play Duel Monsters.

It was at that point that she heard some people talking excitedly as they crowded around a large monitor.

"Wow! Can you believe it? Some guyís actually got the guts to go up against Seto Kaiba!"

"Ooh, this is going to be messy! Thereís no way he can stand up to the world champion!"

"I hear that Kaibaís deck has the most powerful cards, and even three Blue-Eyes White Dragons!"

"Yeah, but from I hear, this guy Saotome has the fourth Blue-Eyes in his deck!"

"Youíre kidding! This is going to be one heck of a Duel!"

Akane stared in disbelief as she watched the screen with the rest of the crowds.

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"Come on Shampoo! I know weíll make a good team!" Mousse pleaded as he followed the purple-haired Amazon about.

"Shampoo will be Ranmaís partner. Not go with stupid Mousse!" She said in a huff as she continued to search for her intended.

It was then that they passed by a large monitor and saw Ranmaís face on the screen.

On the other side of the park, Kodachi Kuno and her brother also caught sight of the Duel that was about to take place.

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On his balcony, Pegasus smiled as he watched the events unfold. His Millennium Eye glittered as he considered the pigtailed youth who was about to go card for card against the penultimate Duel Monsters player.

<Yes, letís see what youíre really capable of, Ranma Saotome.>

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Ranma did NOT like this. He had not wanted to get involved with Kaiba at all until the tournament, but the arrogant champion had forced his hand. Though he could protest against Kaibaís bullying tactics, or even PHYSICALLY show him the error of threatening to oust him from the competition, he knew that the Duelist champion probably had a lot of lawyers. He ran his own company after all. All Ranma could was put his Dueling skills to their test against an opponent whoís sole passion was Duel Monsters. Though this wasnít as life-threatening as a true Shadow Game, he couldnít afford to get knocked out at the starting line. There was just too much at stake.

"So it is agreed, Ranma Saotome? When I win, you will hand over your Blue-Eyes White Dragon." Kaiba said as he motioned for his little brother to open up a second case that he had been carrying.

"When you win?" Ranma snarled. "Aren't you counting your Blue-Eyes before it's hatched, Kaiba?"

Kaiba shrugged. "This Duel is just a mere formality. I donít expect you to last more than three moves."

"I might just surprise you." Ranma promised as his Millennium Puzzle began to glow. "And when I win, you will allow me to compete!"

"As utterly unlikely as that outcome will be, I accept. Is that all you want if you actually beat me?" Kaiba taunted.

"Well... seeing your look of shock when I defeat you will also be my reward. ITíS TIME TO DUEL!"

At that moment the Millennium Puzzle glowed, transforming Ranma into Ranma-Yami.

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Luna nodded as she and her group watched the Duel on another large monitor.

"Do you think Ranma can beat this Kaiba person?" Amelia asked.

"I have faith in him, Amelia." The elder Inverse sister replied.

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Watching the TV in her room above the Cat Café, Cologne became very intrigued at how... different Ranma seemed from the person she knew. Her gaze became fixated on the Millennium Puzzle that hung from his neck. This was going to be very interesting.

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"Well? Which Dueling Arena will it be?" Ranma-Yami asked as he gazed at the various platforms.

Kaiba snorted. "We wonít be using any for this Duel." His brother Mokouba then displayed the contents of the second case, which caused more oohs and aahs from the crowds. "I was going to demonstrate my companyís latest product for the tournament tomorrow, but since Iíll be dueling for my fourth Blue-Eyes White Dragon, I think the occasion is fitting enough to use it now. He picked up a circular device with a kind of armband attached to the bottom and some irregular flat pieces of metal on its sides.

He deftly snapped the device onto his left forearm and showed it off to the people before turning back to his opponent. "This is the Duel Disk Mark II. With this device, a person can play the most realistic Duels anywhere, without having to bother with large, clumsy Dueling Arenas. Its built-in holographic projectors are able to bring out the most minute of details of any card in Duel Monsters. With its laser-field manipulation technology, the monsters will not only look and sound real, but they will also smell and FEEL real. I assure you, this will be like no other Duel youíve ever played!"

<I doubt that.> Ranma-Yami thought as he thought about the REAL Shadow Games he had played. Compared to them, a technological version of them was hardly something to get excited about. Mokouba walked over and handed him a Duel Disk, then walked back to his brotherís side of the ĎDueling Areaí which was just the space ringed by the crowds of people.

Kaiba took out his deck from an inside coat pocket and began shuffling it. Ranma took out his deck and did the same after snapping on the device to his left forearm. The champion then demonstrated the workings of the Duel Disk.

"Insert your shuffled deck into the Card Recognition Slot. Your Disk will automatically set to 4000 Life Points."

"Four thousand Life Points?" Ranma-Yami asked.

"Yes, weíll be playing in accordance to the Tag-Team Tournament rules, though this will be a one-on-one Duel. In addition to the extra Life Points, there will be some extra rules." He held his Duel Disk up high and pressed a side button. A small mechanical arm extended forward and caused the side pieces of metal to snap together into a larger flat board with five rectangular sections for Monster Cards. The Card-Holding platform swung to the outside of his forearm, revealing five more slots on its side for Magic and Traps, as well as a larger opening for discards. He then pressed another button near the wrist. This caused two small devices to fly out and glide toward the ground. When they both landed some fifty feet away from either side of him, they folded up and revealed miniature visual and audio projectors. He then began explaining the new rules as Ranma-Yami followed suit and activated his own Duel Diskís playing board and projectors.

"Unlike a regular Duel, you will only be able to summon any Monster Card up to Level 4. If you want a higher level monster to be put into play, then you must sacrifice a monster in accordance to its level. Level five to six needs one monster sacrifice, while level 7 to 8 requires two. Anything higher and youíll need a Ritual Summoning, Fusion or sacrifice of three monsters. Am I going too fast for your simple mind to comprehend?"

Ranma-Yami growled at the barb. Kaiba just couldnít stop taking cheap shots.

However, Seto ignored his opponentís irritation as he continued. "The new rules also state that you canít have Fusion Monsters attack on the same turn that theyíre created. Now that Iíve explained what you need to know, itís time for you to face defeat!"

"Your overconfidence will be your downfall, Kaiba." Ramma-Yami stated as he readied his deck. "Unlike you, I have complete faith in both myself and the heart of the cards!"

Kaiba snorted in disdain again. "Faith is only for amateurs and losers! The real winners know that cards are power and I have the strongest cards in all of Duel Monsters!"

"TIME TO DUEL!" Both players said simultaneously.

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Ranma-Yami: 4000 LP

Kaiba: 4000 LP

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At the Kaiba Corp building, several techs were manning the systems which monitored each Duel Disk and downloaded data for each Duelist. One tech became puzzled as some strange readings were appearing on her screen when Ranma-Yami had inserted his deck. It was unlike anything she had ever seen and she wondered if she should inform Kaiba about them. However, the Disk was functioning properly and she knew that once Kaiba was in a Duel, interrupting him was a surefire way to lose oneĎs job.

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"I shall start with the Hitotsu-Me Giant in Attack Mode!" (L4/1200/1000). Kaiba said as he laid down his first Monster Card. The holographic projectors displayed a ravenous, green, one-eyed gargantuan.

"And I shall lay one card facedown and summon the Celtic Guardian!" (L4/1400/1200) Ranma-Yami then directed the Elf warrior forward. "Destroy the Giant!"

The pointy-eared fighter leapt up and cut Kaibaís monster in half with its sword, causing it to explode into a thousand pieces.

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Ranma-Yami: 4000 LP

Kaiba: 3800 LP

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The crowds applauded at the giantís demise.

"Hmpf! Not a bad start for a rank amateur." Kaiba commented as he drew another card, then placed two cards down on his Dueling Deck. "I shall now summon Sagi the Dark Clown in Attack Mode!" (L2/600/1200) A grotesque-looking clown with spindly legs appeared.

<Whatís he up to?> Ranma-Yami wondered. <Sagi the Dark Clown isnít really that strong a Monster Card.>

"Youíre probably wondering why I would play such a relatively weak Monster Card, arenít you?" Kaiba taunted as he made a large image of his Magic Card appear. "With the right Magic Card, such as this Negative Energy Amplifier, even a harmless clown can be lethal. The magic increases Sagiís attack power by three and a half times, making him more powerful than your Celtic Guardian." (2100) "Now attack with Dark Light!" (1)

The ugly clown reared back and threw a huge black ball at Ranma-Yamiís warrior, causing it to explode into pieces.

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Ranma-Yami: 3300 LP

Kaiba: 3800 LP

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"As you can see, Ranma Saotome, I have mastered every aspect of Duel Monsters. You are no match for me! Why donít you just surrender your Blue-Eyes to me right now and save yourself from any further humiliation?"

The pigtailed Duelist chuckled as he replied to Kaibaís taunt. "Why should I when I just took the lead?"

"What are you talking about?"

At that moment, there was a large explosion of light in front of him, followed by loud blast of sound that caused the world champion to stagger back a bit. He shook his head and glared back at his opponent. "What was that?!"

The martial artist continued to chuckle as he revealed the holographic image of his facedown card. "Whatís the matter Kaiba? Didnít think that an AMATEUR wouldnít be clever enough to lay out a Trap Card for your attack?"

"A Trap Card?!"

"Yes. What you just felt was the feedback from your own attack, at double its intensity. This card is called Double or Nothing. It causes my opponent to receive twice the damage that he had caused to my Life Points, provided the attacking Monster has over 2000 Attack Points. Guess who just lost 1400 points?"

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Ranma-Yami: 3300 LP

Kaiba: 2400 LP

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Kaiba smirked a bit at his adversaryís audacity. "Hmmm, not too shabby." He admitted. "Perhaps it was wrong for me to assume that you were just another loser. However, you WONíT catch me off guard again! You won't be able to withstand my next attack!"

Ranma-Yamiís expression hardened as he could tell that Kaibaís threat was far from an empty one. The world champion drew a new card, smiled then placed it in one of the card slots, causing an enlarged image of it to appear facedown on the ground. He then placed another monster in Attack Mode. "I will summon Battle Ox in Attack Mode!" (L4/1700/1000)

The Game King decided to summon a monster while placing another card facedown. "I shall summon Axe Raider in Attack as well as lay one card down as well." (L4/1700/1150)

Both axe-wielding warriors faced each other, as it appeared to be a standoff. However, Kaiba had a plan to give his opponent a hard thrashing. He then places another card face down and gestures to his monster. "Attack Battle Ox!"

Not knowing what his rival had planned, Ranma-Yami decided to counter with his own monster. With both of them at equal Attack Points, it should be an even clash. However...

"Hmmm, I knew you would attack, so now I play my first hidden card!" One of the facedown cards revealed itself. "The Mesmeric Control Card entrances your monster and lowers its Attack Power by 800 points!"

Ranma-Yami gritted his teeth as his Axe Raider was stopped in his tracks, (900/1150) and then was cut to pieces by Kaiba's Battle Ox.

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Ranma-Yami: 2500 LP

Kaiba: 2400 LP

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"This Duel isn't over yet!" Ranma-Yami declared as he drew a new card.

"It WILL be over soon." Kaiba promised as he watched him place another card facedown and one Monster Card in Defense Mode this time. <He probably thinks that my other facedown card is a Trap Card. Well he's in for the shock of his life!>

"I'm waiting, Kaiba!"

"And I will win this Duel, thanks to my facedown card." Pressing a button, he revealed the card to be... Monster Reborn!

"What?!"

The Duelist Champion smiled in triumph. "You thought this was a Trap Card, which is why you didn't attack, correct? Well it's not. It's a Magic Card that allows me to revive one Monster Card from my Graveyard or yours. Now I could retrieve either my giant or clown, but I think it would be more fitting to use one of YOUR Monsters instead. I shall revive the Celtic Guardian!"

Ranma-Yami began to get a sinking feeling as his own Celtic Guardian returned, but on Kaiba's side. Then his feeling deepened as Kaiba then made both the Battle Ox and Celtic Guardian disappear. "And in accordance to the rules, I shall sacrifice BOTH monsters to summon... the BLUE-EYES WHITE DRAGON!" (L8/3000/2500)

<Oh great! Using my own Monster to sacrifice for THAT dragon was just adding insult to injury!>

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"Oh no! Ranma's in really big trouble now!" Amelia said as she watched the Blue-Eyes White Dragon tower over him.

Luna nodded but also said, "Ranma may be down now, but I wouldn't call him out just yet. He's been in tight situations before and he's always pulled through. I'm sure he'll be able to come back from this!"

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Kaiba chuckled as his dragon looked down on his opponent's expression. "What? Did you think you were the only Duelist with a Blue-Eyes in his deck? I'll have you know that my deck contains not one, but THREE Blue-Eyes! However, I would say that one is more than enough to blow you away. First I shall place this card facedown and then... BLUE-EYES, ATTACK WITH WHITE LIGHTNING!"

The dragon let off a roar and released a sizzling blast toward Ranma-Yami's Defense Card. The Mammoth Graveyard (L3/1200/800) was instantly obliterated. The Game King staggered back from its destruction, as did the crowds behind him.

Kaiba chuckled again. "It was a lucky thing for you that Monster was in Defense Mode. You would have lost a lot of Life Points. However, It's only a matter of time before my Blue Eyes White Dragon takes you out for good!"

"Don't think you've won yet, Kaiba!" Ranma-Yami shot back as he placed another Monster Card in Defense Mode and ending his turn.

His opponent snorted. "Do you think that you can just keep placing Monsters in Defense Mode to save your Life Points?" He placed one more card face down, then revealed the other hidden card. "Not when I can use this Defense Paralysis Card to permanently switch all the Monsters that you can summon to Attack Mode!"

Ranma-Yami gritted his teeth some more; as his Stone Soldier (L3/1200/2000) went into an attack posture and was instantly destroyed by the Blue-Eyes. Holographic fragments of rock and powder went flying before disappearing.

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Ranma-Yami: 700 LP

Kaiba: 2400 LP

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"Now you have no way of defending yourself from my next attack!" Kaiba gloated as he prepared to finish Ranma-Yami off. "As I said before, cards mean power and there is nothing in your deck besides the fourth Blue-Eyes that can stand up to my dragon! Face it! It's over!"

"Not quite, Kaiba." Ranma-Yami said defiantly as he drew a card, and smiled at it. He then revealed one of his facedown cards. "Where there's a will, there's a way! I activate this Magic Card, Plea from the Grave!" The image depicted some ghosts rising from their graves and appeared to be begging.

Kaiba was a bit puzzled at this development. "What is that?"

"This Magic Card allows me to summon a high-level Monster Card from my hand without having to sacrifice two Monsters. In order for this Magic Card to work, I need to have at least three Monsters in my Graveyard and give up half of my Life Points."

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Ranma-Yami: 350 LP

Kaiba: 2400 LP

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"Since you destroyed my Axe Raider, Mammoth Graveyard and Stone Soldier, they now cry out for retribution, and I am allowed to summon... BLUE-EYES WHITE DRAGON!"

Kaiba was quite surprised to see a copy of his own monster appearing, but he then began laughing. "And just what good will that do you? Both of our dragons are equally matched!"

"They won't be when I use this Magic Card!" Ranma-Yami declared as he drew another card from his hand and revealed it. "DRAGON DRAINER! This card will lower the attack power of any Dragon on the field by 1000 points for one full turn! Of course, using this card will cost me 10% of my Life Points!"

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Ranma-Yami: 315 LP

Kaiba: 2400 LP

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Kaiba was taken by surprise as his own Blue-Eyes was reduced in Attack Points. (2000/2500)

"BLUE-EYES! WHITE LIGHTNING ATTACK!"

This time it was Kaiba who lost some major Life Points.

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Ranma-Yami: 315 LP

Kaiba: 1400 LP

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The crowds cheered excitedly as Kaiba's dragon was wiped out. This made the World Champion more than peeved at having one of his prized cards destroyed. He glared at the wannabe with vengeance in his eyes.

<You'll pay for that!>

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"All right! Ranma really let him have it!" Gourry said as he watched Kaiba's Life Point Meter decrease.

"Don't start celebrating yet." Lina warned. "Kaiba still has more Life Points than Ranma does, and that last move cost Ranma a lot."

"He will defeat Kaiba." Luna maintained. "I have faith in him and he has faith in himself."

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"You see Kaiba? Even the Blue-Eyes White Dragon is not totally unstoppable." Ranma-Yami stated. "With the right combos and faith in the HEART of the cards, there is nothing one cannot do!"

"Hmpf! I'm impressed, Ranma Saotome." The Number One Duelist admitted. "You managed to destroy one of my Blue-Eyes White Dragons. However, I still have the advantage in Life Points and you can't defend yourself, thanks to my Defense Paralysis Card. And that Blue-Eyes White Dragon you just destroyed wasnít my only one."

"Just because you have two more Blue-Eyes doesnít mean that youíll be able to summon them." Ranma-Yami stated. "And I still have my Blue-Eyes out on the field! Itís your move, Kaiba!"

"Very well. Hereís my move." Ranma-Yamiís opponent revealed the card he had placed, which depicted the silhouette of a dragon with a chain wrapped about it. "This is the rare card known as Dragonís Bond. This card allows me call forth two Dragon-Type Cards from my hand and deck. For this card to work, I must have at least one dragon in my Graveyard and that the dragon must have at least 2000 Attack Points. Furthermore, I cannot use any Trap Cards for next five turns. Can you guess which dragons I intend to summon?"

Kaibaís question was answered as two Blue-Eyes White Dragons appeared before him. His opponent knew that things were getting more intense.

"Luckily for you, using the Dragonís Bond card prevents me from attacking. However, I will also play this Magic Card. Recognize it?"

Ranma-Yami indeed knew it. "Magic Renewal?"

"Thatís right. It allows me to reuse one Magic Card from my Graveyard at the cost of 300 Life Points."

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Ranma-Yami: 315 LP

Kaiba: 1100 LP

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"And the card that I choose will be Monster Reborn, in which I will revive my first Blue-Eyes White Dragon!"

Things got even bleaker as all three of Kaibaís most destructive Monsters now facing off against Ranma-Yamiís Blue-Eyes. And with the pigtailed martial artist unable to defend himself, there seemed to be no way out.

"You were able to defeat one Blue-Eyes, but can you defeat three?"

Ranma-Yami knew that he had to think fast before he was totally wiped out. Kaiba was toying with him and he was savoring every moment of it. He wanted to humiliate his opponent completely. He didnít need to have revived that first dragon, but the psychological effect of facing all three Blue-Eyes would have made any other Duelist throw in the towel. Looking down at his hand, the Game King saw a card that could save him. However, he would have to gamble. He had considered trying to draw for all five pieces of Exodia, but he had decided against that strategy. The less people who knew Exodia was in his deck, the better. He then laid his drawn card face down on the field. "I place one card down and end my turn."

Kaiba smirked as he assumed that his opponent was running out of options. He then decided that Ranma-Yami should be taken down hard for the insult of defeating his first Blue-Eyes. He smiled as he drew one card in particular. "Ranma Saotome, itís time you learned a lesson about being a true Duelist! Cards are power and I donít think an amateur such as yourself deserves to feel the full power of my deck! However, since you do possess a Blue-Eyes White Dragon, (but not for much longer), I think that you should experience what they are really capable of. Behold the power of Polymerization!"

"You donít mean...?"

"Indeed! Now witness the most powerful Monster in all of Duel Monsters! I fuse my three Blue-Eyes into the BLUE-EYES ULTIMATE DRAGON!" (L12/4500/3500)

The three dragons came together in a flash of light, which blinded all those who were watching. An even louder roar was heard as a three-headed, winged gargantuan appeared and stared down at Ranmaís Blue-Eyes.

"Nothing short of Exodia can stand up to my ultimate merged monster!" Kaiba declared as his gloating reached its peak. "You should feel honored to have the last of your Life Points wiped out by it! And now, since I canít attack after creating this Fusion Monster, itís your turn. Draw your last pathetic card, so I can end this!"

Ranma-Yami snorted as he replied. "My deck has no pathetic cards. Unlike you Kaiba, I believe that cards are much more than just for power. But someone like you could never understand their true value! You can never understand the Heart of the Cards! It seems that I will have to teach you that lesson the hard way. I choose to end my turn without playing or placing any cards."

"So youíre surrendering?" Kaiba asked with a smug grin.

"No, I said that I will just end my turn. Attack me if you dare, Kaiba!"

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"Is he nuts?! That Ultimate Dragon is going to fry him to a cinder!" Lina gasped.

"Heís doomed!" Amelia agreed.

"Thereís no way he can get out of this one!" Gourry stated.

"He WILL win!" Luna insisted as all viewers became glued to the screens.

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"So be it!" Kaiba said as he thrust out an arm to his Monster. "ULTIMATE DRAGON! ATTACK WITH NEUTRON BLAST!"

All three heads turned toward each other and began concentrating their energies into one huge sphere, which elongated into a wide beam of annihilation. However, as it lanced toward Ranma-Yamiís Blue-Eyes, one of his facedown cards came up and formed a huge, triangular shield that had a crack across it. The shield resisted the attack for a few moments, then broke apart. The blast continued on to destroy the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, causing it to shatter into nothingness in one huge explosion.

When the light of the explosion died down., Kaiba smiled in triumph as he expected Ranma-Yami to be broken and beaten. However, his opponent still stood proudly and was smiling. This didnít bother the World Champion in the least. Whatever defense his adversary had put up had failed and the Blue-Eyes had been destroyed, thereby dropping his Life Points to zero.

That was when Ranma-Yami held up his Duel Disk and showed his Life Point meter.

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Ranma-Yami: 30 LP

Kaiba: 1100 LP

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"Thatís impossible! I destroyed your Blue-Eyes! You shouldnít have any Life Points left!"

Ranma-Yami shrugged. "Normally, that would have been the case. Fortunately, I had used the Curse of Defense Shield against your attack."

"Curse of Defense Shield?" Kaiba thought back to that giant shield that had appeared. "Thatís what that thing was? My attack still blasted through it and destroyed your dragon!"

"Let me explain what the effects of the Curse of Defense Shield were, Kaiba." Ranam-Yami said as he wagged a finger at his opponent. "The Curse of Defense Shield is a very costly Magic Card which takes 90% of my remaining Life Points to use. That reduced me to 31 Life Points. As a result, the Shield deflected enough of your Ultimate Dragonís attack so that it was only strong enough to destroy my Monster with a minute loss to my Life Points. My Blue-Eyes White Dragon had an attack power of 3000, so the Ultimate Dragonís attack was reduced to 3001. I lost only one Life Point."

Kaiba snorted. "That was nothing more than a pathetic and desperate move to stay alive!"

"It was a gamble, Iíll admit, but it was worth it." Ranma-Yami said.

"What do you mean? On my next turn, Iíll still obliterate you! You only prolonged the inevitable!"

"I donít think so, Kaiba. Take a good look at your Ultimate Dragonís stats."

Kaiba looked at the readouts and was surprised to see the figures. "What? My Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragonís Defense Points have dropped to zero!" (4500/0)

"Thatís right Kaiba. The reason why this card is called Curse of Defense, is because any monster that attacks the shield immediately loses all of its Defense Points!"

There was a collective gasp among the crowds as they saw the stats of the most powerful Fusion Monster.

"And now Kaiba, I shall go on the attack, destroy your Ultimate Dragon and win this Duel!" Ranma-Yami declared as he drew a card from his hand and laid it onto his Duel Disk.

"Thatís a joke!" Kaiba scoffed. "You don't have anything strong enough!"

"Oh really? I summon Mystical Elf in Attack Mode!" (L4/800/2000) The card became the blue-skinned elven priestess who had her hands clasped together and was chanting in some ancient language.

Kaiba began laughing scornfully at the sight of such a weak Monster Card. "Thatís absolutely ridiculous! Your Mystical Elf has nowhere near the attack strength of my Ultimate Dragon. Donít insult my intelligence by thinking she could defeat it!"

Ranma-Yami chuckled at Kaibaís ignorance. "You seem to have forgotten that the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon has no Defense Points after attacking the Curse of Defense Shield. On the other hand, my Mystical Elf has 2000 Defense Points."

"So what? You canít defend due to my Defense Paralysis Card and my dragon doesnít need Defense Points to wipe out the Mystical Elf!"

"Your dragon wonít be able to destroy a Kuribo when I play my final facedown card!" At that moment, Ranma-Yami made his last card appear which was the Magic Card...

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"Ah hah! Itís the Shield and Sword Card!" Luna declared as she realized Ranma-Yamiís plan.

----------

Kaiba was put into a state of total shock as he too realized what his opponentís strategy was. However, it was too late for him to do anything about it.

"OFFENSIVE/DEFENSIVE FLIP!" Ranma-Yami shouted out.

Both Monsters blurred for a moment as their Attack and Defense Points were switched around.

"No! My Dragonís Attack Points have dropped to zero!" (0/4500) Kaibaís eyes widened in absolute disbelief.

"And my Mystical Elf now has an attack power of 2000." (2000/800) "You lose Kaiba! MYSTICAL ELF... OBLITERATE!"

The Elf stopped chanting as she raised her hands up high and formed a huge sphere of white light. She threw her hands forward and the sphere was thrown toward the Ultimate Dragon. In one huge explosion, the Ultimate Dragon was totally annihilated, causing Kaiba to be thrown backward. He fell hard on his back as his Life Point meter dropped to zero.

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Final Duel Results

Ranma-Yami: 30 LP

Kaiba: 0 LP

----------

The crowds were silent for a long while, as they had just witnessed the impossible. A veritable nobody had just defeated the world champion of Duel Monsters. Then the people let off a thunderous cheer that rocked the entire island of Honshu. And everywhere else in the world, Duel Monster fans also let loose with deafening ovations and applause.

At this point, Kaiba was unresponsive as he got to his knees and stared down at the ground in shock.

"How... could I have lost?"

Even his brother Mokouba couldnít get him to snap him out of it as he gripped Kaibaís right arm and shook it.

Ranma-Yami however, wasnít quite finished as Kaiba looked up toward him. "Kaiba... you play only for power, and that is why you lost. If you put your heart into the game, then there is nothing you cannot do!" (2)

"But... I couldn't have lost!"

"Kaiba... as the winner of this Duel... I shall decide your fate."

----------

"Heís not going to do...?" Amelia and the others became very concerned as Ranma-Yami appeared to be preparing to punish Kaiba, in the same manner as he did with the Renegade Duelists he had defeated.

Luna said nothing as she watched the monitor.

----------

"W-W-What are you doing?" Kaiba asked as Ranma-Yami took on a stern look and raised one hand with palm spread out toward him.

"Kaiba... if you truly wish to know the meaning of the Heart of the Cards... then open your mind!"

The Millennium Puzzle let off a flash of light as the Game King used his power to banish a piece of Kaiba to the Shadow Realm.

Seto slumped down as he felt a part of his being disappear.

Ranma-Yami transformed back into Ranma as he turned and walked away from his defeated opponent. Without looking back, he said to Kaiba, "There... now perhaps you will begin to understand."

----------

On his balcony, Pegasus smiled as he watched Ranma leave the scene.

<Hmmm, most impressive. Perhaps it is time that I face him...>

----------

"That was a totally awesome Duel, Ranma!" Amelia said as she and the others walked with Ranma toward the Ucchanís. Luckily for the pigtailed martial artist, the crowds were too thick for his rivals and other suitors to find him. It was late afternoon and he wanted to get himself and Ukyo signed up before the registration deadline at midnight.

However, as the group neared her restaurant, Luna, Lina and Amelia all stopped as they felt something... unnatural coming from the establishment.

"What is it? Is something wrong?" Ranma asked as he saw the worried expressions on their faces.

"Evil... darkness..." Luna began as her mystic senses were suddenly alerted.

"It... feels cold... and empty." Amelia said quietly.

"Somethingís... really... wrong." Lina finished as they all began pointing toward the Ucchanís.

Ranmaís Millennium Puzzle glittered as that same sensation of foreboding doom that he had experienced before came back to him. (3) He then began running as fast as he could toward the front door of Ukyoís establishment, flung it open... and stopped dead in his tracks at what he saw.

----------

<Just where is that BAKA?!> Akane thought angrily as she continued to search for Ranma. She was all set to Duel him and show him how good she really was! So he beat the world champion, big deal! The world champion wasnít a martial artist so that didnít count! She could have beaten Kaiba too if she had dueled him. (4)

However, as the afternoon began to become evening, she still could not find him. She began making her way toward the registration booths in the hopes that he would be there. It wasn't that she WANTED to be his partner, no way!

At the same time, a certain Lost Boy was finally making his way toward the city park and the registration booths.

----------

"Ucchan? Ucchan! Say something!" Ranma pleaded as he knelt down beside his unconscious friend. Clutched in one hand was one of her throwing spatulas. Scattered all over the floor were her Duel Monster cards. Though Ranma could feel her heartbeat and breathing, her body was cold to the touch. Her eyes were opened but had a glazed, distant look to them. The pupils were dilated but focused on nothing. Ranma looked up to Luna with a pleading, questioning expression on his face. "Whatís wrong with her?"

Luna knelt down and held out a hand to Ukyoís face. Her palm glowed softly with a white light as she probed for the essence of the brown-haired girl but found nothing. She let off a startled gasp as she began detecting traces of ancient magic, which could only have belonged to a Millennium Item.

"Is she...?" Ranma asked in a shaky voice.

Linaís sister shook her head. "No. Sheís not dead, but in the state sheís in, she may as well be. Her soul has been stolen."

"What?"

"Something... or someone had taken her spirit from her body. Itís like being in a trance and projecting oneís astral form, but in this case, her essence had been FORCED from her physical vessel. I suspect that the Millennium Item we are seeking had something to do with this, since I detect traces of the same magic that I can feel from your puzzle."

At that moment, the entire restaurant became darker as the light of day seemed to die out. The group became tense as a veil of unending darkness blanketed the entire area. Soon there was absolutely no connection with the outside world. Ranma immediately recognized the place they were in.

"Itís the Shadow Realm!"

"Correct, Ranma Saotome."

The martial artist turned about and saw a well-dressed gentleman standing in a background of unending shadows. He recognized the newcomer instantly.

"Youíre Pegasus, aren't you?"

"Yes, I am Maximillan Pegasus." He gave his head a bit of a toss, revealing what was hidden beneath the locks of hair that covered the left side of his face.

<The Millennium Eye!>

"Yes, it is the Millennium Eye, one of the seven fabled Millennium Items." The older man said simply with a smile.

<How did he know what I was thinking? Ah, probably a lucky guess.> Ranma thought.

"No, it was not a lucky guess." The owner of Industrial Illusions said as he shook his head. "I just happen to very talented at reading minds and yours is a very open book, Ranma Saotome."

Ranma snorted as he looked back, then became concerned as he saw Luna, Lina, Amelia and Gourry in a seemingly frozen state. They were colored pale and were unresponsive.

"Donít bother." Pegasus said with a smug smile. "Without a Millennium Item in their possession, they can neither move nor speak. The only way they could have crossed this plane of existence and into our world was through you and your Millennium Puzzle, am I correct? Even the mighty sorceress Luna Inverse and her infamous sister, the Bandit Killer and Dragon Spooker Lina, cannot override the rules of the Shadow Realm, which had been set by the Elder Gods of existence. After all, the Shadow Games were THEIR creation in the first place."

The pigtailed Duelist gritted his teeth, but didn't bother to ask how Pegasus had known about his companions or the origins of the Shadow Games. He knew that the Millennium Eye had mind-reading powers. Yami had told him of the various abilities of each Millennium Item and he had already experienced the Eyeís abilities in Lunaís world. It was very formidable.

"You are quite right, Ranma Saotome." Pegasus chuckled as he scanned RanmaĎs thoughts. "The Millennium Eye is quite powerful and the more souls I take, the stronger it becomes!" He then reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a single card. It was an Essence Card and on its face was an image that made Ranmaís blood run cold, then boil.

"Ucchan! YOU MONSTER! YOU STOLE HER SOUL! GIVE IT BACK!" He was about to charge at the soul stealer, but was halted as Pegasusí left eye glowed and a agonizing scream was heard. It was Ukyoís voice that screamed. The card in his hand glowed as well. When Ranma stopped advancing, the card dimmed and the screaming stopped.

"Now, now, oh Master of the Cards. If you want your friendís soul to remain intact, then I suggest that you mind your manners. Unless you want her soul to be ripped apart and scattered all over the Shadow Realm. I believe that the renegade Duelists that you had faced and sent back to this place can attest that itís not a pleasant experience." He put the card back into his vest pocket.

Ranma growled but reined in his temper. "Master of the Cards?"

"Well, I suppose thatís what Iíd call someone who had defeated the formally undefeated Duel Monsters World Champion. That Duel you had with Seto Kaiba was a magnificent one, and I was MOST impressed. Then again, I can tell that you have some considerable experience with playing Shadow Games for real. I can also sense that your companion Luna Inverse is well-acquainted with them. How marvelous!"

"Why don't we cut to the chase, Pegasus? What do you want?" Genmaís son growled.

"What do I want? Well, I think that the answer would be obvious. I want what all those who come to possess the Millennium Items want. The power to control all reality and even life and death itself! And I shall start with the two Items in your possession!"

Ranmaís eyes furrowed. He remembered Yami also telling him of what happened to those who come in contract with the Millennium Items. Many became mad with the lust for power and eventually sought to possess them all. Others wanted them for more personal reasons and would do anything to achieve their goals. He couldnít tell if Pegasus was either power-mad or had an ulterior motive for seeking out the Items, but he couldnít let him get his hands on any more.

"You want my Millennium Puzzle? Then you will have to Duel me for it."

Pegasus chuckled and let off a small laugh. "I expected as much. According to the ancient rules, the Millennium Items must be won, so therefore, I accept your challenge."

"And if I win..."

"Then I shall return you and your friends safely back to the real world." Pegasus finished.

"And you will relinquish..."

"The Millennium Eye and your UcchanĎs soul? Oh no. This Duel will only be for your Millennium Puzzle against you and your friendsí freedom."

"What?"

"Unless you WANT your otherworldly companions to end up like your Ucchan?"

There was a bright flash behind Ranma, causing him to turn around. He saw in horror as four large and empty Essence Cards appeared behind each of the Slayers gang. He turned back to Pegasus in fury.

"THAT'S NOT FAIR!"

The longhaired man smirked. "Temper, temper. Either you agree to these terms or watch these four permanently become part of my deck!"

Ranma bowed his head and let off a sad sigh as he triggered his transformation to Ranma-Yami. He had no choice. "Very well, I accept these terms. Itís time to Duel!"

"Good! We shall play a regular Duel with a strict time limit of 15 minutes. The winner shall be the one with most Life Points at the end." Pegasus took out a stopwatch and set the timer. Since you are familiar with the real Shadow Games, I would expect that you know what will happen if you lose Life Points."

Ranma-Yami nodded as the two became directly connected to the Shadow Realm.

----------

Start the clock... 15 minutes

Ranma-Yami: 2000 LP

Pegasus: 2000 LP

----------

<Well, at least I wonít have to sacrifice any Monsters to get any Higher-Level Cards onto the field.> Ranma-Yami thought as he shuffled his deck and drew five cards. <Well, what do you know? I drew the Red-Eyes Black Dragon.> He then placed the card facedown in Defense Mode. (L7/2400/2000)

"If you think that Red-Eyes Black Dragon will help you win, then think again." Pegasus said knowingly as he placed a card face down on the field.

<Whoops. I have to guard my thoughts carefully against that Millennium Eye.> Ranma-Yami thought.

"I already have this to counter it. Go Dragon Capture Jar!" Pegasus directed.

The grotesque dragon-capturing container appeared and caused the Red-Eyes to briefly come into view before being sucked into the jar.

Ranma-Yami however, took a deep breath to calm himself and drew a new card.

----------

Meanwhile...

"Airen! Where are you?"

"Ranma darling! Your partner, the Black Rose is here!"

"My dear Akane Tendo! We shall make beautiful Duels together!"

WHAMMO!

"Ranma, you baka! Come on out and Duel!"

"SHAMPOO! Your Dueling partner is here!"

GLOMP!

"Let go of me! Where on Earth is the registration booth?"

What? You were expecting something different?

----------

12 minutes 15 seconds...

Ranma-Yami: 2000 LP

Pegasus: 2000 LP

----------

The pigtailed Duelist contemplated his next move, then decided to trust in the Heart of the Cards. Without looking at the card he drew, he laid it face down, then laid one Monster Card in Attack Mode. It was the Celtic Guardian. (L4/1400/1200)

Pegasus was still thinking he had the upper hand with his Millennium Eye as he drew a new card from his hand. "Since you seem so tense, perhaps I should open up this game with my Dragon Piper in Defense Mode. (L2/200/1800) It shall place your Red Eyes Dragon under MY control and have him attack your Monster."

As the Red-Eyes appeared, Ranma-Yami prepared to counter with whatever he had drawn.

"INFERNO FIRE-BLAST!"

The Red Eyes launched a huge fireball at the Elf Swordsman. That was when Ranma-Yami revealed his hidden card, which was a Magic Card.

"What?!" Pegasus exclaimed as he saw it.

"Whoops!" Ranma-Yami smiled as the Magic Card was activated. "It looks like my faith in my cards has rewarded me with Matching Spirits. This card allows my Guardianís Attack Points to match that of an attacking monsterĎs, namely the Red-Eyes Black Dragon, for two turns." (2400/1200) " With both our Monsters with the same Attack Points, your attack has been neutralized."

Pegasus growled a bit as the Red-Eyes Black Dragonís attack was deflected, leaving the Celtic Guardian unharmed.

The Game King then pulled out a new card from his hand before Pegasus could look into his eyes to see it. "And while Iím at it, Iíll use this Magic Card, called Dragon Drainer! Itíll cost me two hundred Life Points, but itíll also drain the Red-Eyes by one thousand Attack Points! CELTIC GUARDIAN ATTACK!"

The Elf Warrior shot forward and cut the Red-Eyes Black Dragon in two. Pegasus let off a scream of pain as he felt his Life Points also being whittled down.

----------

Ranma-Yami: 1800 LP

Pegasus: 1000 LP

----------

Ranma-Yami nodded as he closed his eyes and drew a new card from his deck and laid it facedown. "You think I donít KNOW about the Millennium Eyeís powers and weaknesses, Pegasus? You may be able to read my mind and see what cards I hold, but you canít tell what I pull from the deck. It also takes you a second or so to read minds and thatĎs all I need to act! I hated to destroy my Red-Eyes, but since he was your Monster that turn, you lost the Life Points."

"Hmpf! And do you think your luck will hold out by blindly draw cards from your deck?" The older man scoffed as he watched Ranma-Yami place a second card facedown on the field.

"Thereís a difference between luck and faith, Pegasus. I believe in the HEART of my cards, which had allowed me to win against Kaiba. And it is that same belief which will enable me to defeat you! Make your move!"

----------

10 minutes, ten seconds...

Ranma-Yami: 1800 LP

Pegasus: 1000 LP

----------

Pegasus drew a new card and smiled as he saw it. He laid it down. "Let me introduce you to one of my favorites. Itís an extremely rare card called the Faceless Mage. (L5/1200/1000) And it will become even more powerful when I add the equally rare Eye of Illusions."

Ranma-Yami gritted his teeth as he saw it. The monster looked like some carnival freak show with three heads. However, he couldnít discount it, as he knew that Pegasus had something planned. He decided to risk it, as he drew a new card from his hand without looking at it. He was relieved when he flipped it over, saw the Dark Magician and decided to attack with it. The purple-robed mage appeared and thrust out his staff. (L7/2500/2100)

Pegasus merely smiled as he prepare to give Ranma-Yami the shock of his life.

----------

"Where is that baka?" Akane growled as she continued to search for Ranma. However, she would become even more agitated as a familiar and unwelcome presence appeared.

"Ah! My beloved tigress Akane Tendo. Your gallant and noble Dueling Partner has arrived!"

"Arrrgggghh!" Kasumi and Nabikiís sister desperately looked about for a place to hide.

----------

Speaking of Nabiki...

The middle Tendo daughter wandered about the throngs of Duelists and spectators. She was also searching for the missing Duelist. After seeing him beat the world-renowned Seto Kaiba, she knew that she was on the verge of a veritable gold mine. Then there were those mysterious people she had seen him with that also offered profitable possibilities. All she had to do was find them

----------

4 minutes, 45 seconds...

Ranma-Yami: 1800 LP

Pegasus: 1000 LP

----------

"Hurry up, Ranma boy! Are you going to play your Dark Magician, or arenít you?" Pegasus taunted.

"DARK MAGIC ATTACK!" Ranma-Yami cried out.

However, as the Dark Magician fired off a dark blast of energy, the Faceless Mage merely laughed and was engulfed by the blast. When the smoke disappeared, it remained standing and unharmed.

"What? Thatís impossible!" The martial artist said in shock.

Pegasus chuckled. "In the Shadow Realm, thereís no such thing as impossible. You should know that. And now itís MY turn! DARK MAGIC ATTACK!"

Ranma-Yami was caught off guard as a black sphere of energy blasted forth and destroyed his Celtic Guardian. Pain flared all over his body as he lost some serious Life Points. He fell to his knees.

----------

Ranma-Yami: 700 LP

Pegasus: 1000 LP

----------

"W-W-What... happened?"

Pegasus let off another short laugh, then pointed to the right of the Faceless Mage. There was Ranma-Yamiís Dark Magician, on his opponentís side of the field!

"Did I forget to mention that the Eye of Illusions not only protects my Faceless Mage from any magical attack, but it can also control and fool my opponentís Monsters into thinking theyíre attacking the enemy? And as I recall, your Matching Spirits Card wore off last turn, returning your Celtic Guardian back to its original strength of 1400 Attack Points. That was quite a loss you suffered, wasnít it?"

"This... Duel isnít over yet!" The Game King gasped as he got back to his feet.

"Oh, Iíd say that it is." His opponent said. "With one of the most powerful spell-casters in all of Duel Monsters under my control, Iíd say that my victory is assured."

"Thatís what Kaiba thought too, and I BEAT him!"

"Unlike Kaiba, I have the advantage of possessing the Millennium Eye!" Maximillian countered.

Ranma-Yami began considering his options as time continued to tick away...

----------

WHABOOOM!

Kuno was sent skyward via Akane Airways.

Just as Akane dusted off her hands and was about to continue to search for Ranma, she heard a groan and saw an exhausted individual push through the crowds and fell facedown in front of the registration booth.

"I... made it!" Ryoga gasped.

Akane ran up to him and knelt down. "Ryoga? What are you doing here?" It was then that she noticed something clutched in one of his hands. "I didnít know that you played Duel Monsters."

The Lost Boyís head looked up and his mouth turned up into a happy smile as he beheld his perfect princess. He also saw the cards in her hand.

"Akane... ? Will you...?"

----------

Sixty seconds...

Ranma-Yami: 700 LP

Pegasus: 1000 LP

----------

"Well Ranma boy, it looks like I have won and you shall be handing over your Millennium Puzzle." Pegasus gloated, as he knew that his opponent was stumped on how to fight back.

"Itís not over yet, Pegasus." Ranma-Yami corrected as he gestured to the card he had laid facedown.

"Hmpf! Do you think that card that you blindly placed is going to do you any good?"

Forty seconds...

"Thatís the difference between you and me Pegasus. You only have faith in that Millennium Item of yours. I suspect that youíve relied on it for so long, that your Dueling skills have diminished. I on the other hand, have faith in the HEART of the cards!"

Twenty-five seconds...

"Hmpf! And do you really want to risk the souls of your friends on your faith?"

Fifteen seconds...

"I do." Ranma-Yami flipped over the card and called out. "DARK MAGIC ATTACK!"

Maximillian snorted. "Have you forgotten that the Dark Magician is under my control and... WHAT?!"

Ten seconds...

The Dark Magician suddenly turned about and pointed its staff directly at Pegasus.

Nine... eight... seven...

The Faceless Mage suddenly vanished from sight.

Six... five... four...

The staff glowed for a moment, then let loose with a blast of ebony energy.

Three... two... one...

KABOOOM!

"AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!"

Zero.

----------

Final Duel Results

Ranma-Yami: 560 LP

Pegasus: 0 LP

----------

The creator of the modern-day Duel Monsters game had fallen to his knees after receiving Direct Damage from the Dark Magician. He had almost been knocked unconscious from the attack, but managed to get back to his feet. He stared in anger and disbelief at the Game King. The Dark Magician stood by him, like a faithful bodyguard. "H-H-How? Itís... impossible!"

Ranma-Yami shook his head as he showed the card he had flipped over. "Recognize this card? You should since youíre the one who invented the game after all."

"What? Magic Obliteration?"

"Thatís right, Pegasus. It allows me to destroy any Magic Card on the field at the cost of twenty percent of my Life Points. In doing so, the Monster that the Magic Card was affecting would also be removed. I chose to destroy the Eye of Illusions, which you had combined with your Faceless Mage. That caused them to BOTH be removed, leaving you wide open for a Direct Assault. Without the Eye of Illusions, my Dark Magician was freed and back under my control again. You lose!" At that point, the Dark Magician disappeared and returned to his deck.

"Grrrr! You only won by PURE luck!" Pegasus scoffed.

"No... as I said, my faith is what allowed me to win against Kaiba and it was also what gained me this victory! Now... keep your end of the bargain! Release my friends and return us to the real world! Or do you wish for me to exercise MY right as winner of this Shadow Game?" He emphasized his point by raising his right hand with palm spread out. The Millennium Puzzle glowed as a third eye appeared on his forehead.

Pegasus growled as his Millennium Eye glowed. "Very well, Ranma Saotome. You and your friends will have safe passage back to the real world. However, we SHALL duel again, and next time, it will be for much HIGHER STAKES!"

At that moment, all was enveloped in a blinding white light...

----------

Ranma found himself in the Ucchanís once again and he immediately went to his friendís side. However, to his disappointment, Ukyo was still in her soulless state and he knew that the only way to get her essence back was to face Pegasus once again. Standing beside him was Amelia and Gourry. However, that was when they all heard a scream of horror.

"LINA! LINA! NO!"

They turned about and saw Luna cradling her sisterís motionless body. The expression on the red-haired girlís face matched that of Ukyoís.

"What's wrong with Lina?" Gourry asked worried as he knelt down beside his companion's sibling.

Lunaís eyes welled up with tears. "That... bastard! He took Linaís soul!"

This caused Amelia and Gourry to go into a state of shock. Pegasus had lied to them! He had promised to return them all safely back to the real world!

At that moment, Ranma noticed a piece of paper tacked onto the front door. Carefully laying Ukyoís empty body on the floor, he went up to it and ripped it off the door. He then began reading out loud...

To my most worthy opponent;

As promised, I had returned you and your friends to the real world. However, I did not promise that I wouldnít take any souls when you came back to this plane of existence. Miss Lina Inverse and Ukyo Kunoji shall be my guests, or rather; their souls will be my guests. I assure you that they are safe, for the moment. How long they remain that way, is entirely up to you... and your Dueling Partner Luna Inverse. I expect that such a great sorceress as a participant would make the competition MOST entertaining.

I expect that you two shall perform well at the Tournament tomorrow. How else do you expect to earn the right to Duel me and win their souls back

Signed,

Maximillian Pegasus

Ranma crumpled up the paper in his hands and ignited it with his ki. He took several deep breaths to calm down, then turned back to Luna and the others.

Luna took on a somber expression as she gently laid her sister down and stood up.

"Luna..." Ranma began. "Iím... sorry I got you and the others involved in all this."

The sorceress supreme held up a hand and shook her head. "You couldnít have known that this would happen. Unfortunately, we have no choice now. I have a feeling that Pegasus had planned this from the start. I sensed a great... MADNESS within him. However, we have no alternative but to play his game. The souls of your friend and my sister are at stake." She looked down at the two soulless forms and whispered an incantation while making a series of hand gestured. A moment later, the two bodies vanished from sight.

"Where did they go?" Gourry asked.

"Donít worry. I had their physical vessels placed within a pocket in the Astral Plane. Theyíll be kept in suspended animation until we retrieve their souls." She turned back to Ranma, while holding out a hand. "Ranma... Iíd be honored to be your Dueling Partner."

Ranma took the hand and grasped it hard before shaking it in his own. "Come on, weíve got to register."

To be continued...

Authorís Notes

Well, thatís it for Chapter 5. As for any questions about this part in the story, some of it will be explained in chapter six, such as why Pegasus didnít take Lunaís soul or what his ultimate goal is.

NEW CARDS INTRODUCED

Granite Golem: Rock Warrior

Crystal Ogre: Ogre white diamond-like scales.

Crystal Lance: Increases ground-based monsters attack power by 600 points.

Iron Crusher: Kind of like Joey Wheelerís Gear Freed, but smaller and weaker.

Shadow Seeker: Trap Card which can stop an attack and drain half of a Monsterís Attack Points, provided itís under 2000.

Mystic Reversal: Trap Card that flips a Magic Card being used against a player and puts it on the opponent.

Trap Breaker: Magic Card that destroys all Traps on the opponent's side of field, plus any in his/her hand during that turn. Also prevents the opponent from using any Trap Cards for three turns.

Soul Strike: Adds 300 Attack Points at the cost of 1/4 of Life Points. Allows for Direct Damage.

Magic Obliteration: Pay 20% of Life Points. Destroy any Magic Card on field, plus Monsters it is affecting.

Curse of Defense Shield: Pay 90% Life Points and minimize loss of Life Points from Attack, Attacking Monster loses all Defense Points.

Dragonís Bond: Can call up to two Dragons from Hand or Deck but must have Dragon with 2000+ Attack Points in graveyard. Cannot use Trap Cards for five turns, nor attack during turn card is used.

Dragon Drainer: Pay 10% of Life Points and drain any opposing Dragonís Attack Points by 1000.

Magic renewal: Pay 300 Life Points to reuse on Magic Card from Graveyard.

Matching Spirits: Causes one Monster to have the same number of Attack Points as the opponent's for two turns.

(1) I made the change from 3x to 3.5x as I remembered the error in the Double or Nothing Trap Card. The opposing monster had to have over 2000 Attack Points for it to work, therefore I had to change the stats of the entire Duel.

(2) This sound familiar?

(3) No I don't mean the feeling that he experiences before Akane mallets him!

(4) Ah yes, the illogic of Akaneís logic. If she wanted to, she could be the best cook, sewer, martial artist AND Duelist in the world. SUUUUUURRRRRE!