Hector’s parents greeted him with cheerful laughs and a hug as they came up to each other. Hector’s mother began fussing over him, making sure his hair was straight and whatnot, to which Hector responded by groaning in embarrassment and trying to brush her off. Hector’s dad, meanwhile, was laughing at this turn of events. Eventually, they began to talk about Hector’s performance in the school.
“I’m doing great, mom, dad,” Hector said. “The duels are tough, but even when I lose, I always learn from my experiences.”
“Good, good,” Hector’s dad nodded. “Always make sure not to get complacent. That’s a surefire path to failure.”
Jon watched his brother as he stared off at the horizon. He was back to wearing his default casual smile, though it didn’t quite reach his eyes. Their parents didn’t show up, which wasn’t really any surprise, though Jon still didn’t want Kaison to just walk away from the docks and go back to his weird dueling fugue. He’d been going on a proverbial rampage ever since his break-up, and after losing soundly to him, it didn’t feel right for Jon to continue trying to duel him out of his funk
Not that he would win, probably. Kaison’s deck was a hard counter to his, and he was always the better duelist besides.
As he started people watching the other students and their parents, he caught sight of his roommate Hector chatting with his parents. Maybe he could give it a try?
He walked on over to Hector, lingering awkwardly a couple steps away, looking for an opportunity to butt in and not really finding it. Eventually, Hector mercifully took notice of Jon.
“Oh, hey. Mom, dad, this is my roommate, Jon.” He turned back to Jon, giving him a pitying look. “Parents didn’t come?”
“No, but that’s not important. My brother is moping, and I was wondering if you could beat him in a duel.”
Hector raised an eyebrow. “And that would help?
Jon nodded like it was undoubtable. “It would.”
Hector looked at Kaison, then shrugged and readied his Duel Disk. “Then let’s get this duel underway,” Hector answered, grinning at the prospect of facing a new opponent.
Jon brought Hector over, said that he’d like to duel Kaison, and Kaison nonchalantly agreed without issue. The duel had begun, and all the parents gathered there would be their audience.
Kaison went first, simply setting a monster and ending his turn.
Hector began his turn by drawing a card. “First, I’ll activate Assault Teleport, allowing me to place my /Assault Mode monster back into my deck and draw two new cards,” Hector announced. “Not bad. Now I’ll play my Field Spell: Magical Citadel of Endymion!” The area around them changed, forming into a beautiful city with magic circles in the sky above them. “Next I’ll play Spell Power Grasp! This allows me to place a Spell Counter on one of my cards and add another Spell Power Grasp from my Deck to my hand! And I choose my Magical Citadel!” The Citadel in the distance then displayed a number 1. “And when a Spell Card resolves, Magical Citadel automatically places another Spell Counter onto itself!” With that, the 1 soon changed into a 2.
“Now I’ll Summon my Assault Sentinel!” A hooded beastman then appeared on Hector’s field. “And I’ll use its effect to Tribute itself, allowing me to Special Summon my Level 1 Tuner monster: Psi-Reflector.” The beastman dissipated, and was quickly replaced with a humanoid creature wearing a large suit, its arms glowing with green pulsating energy. “By revealing ‘Assault Mode Activate!’ in my hand, its effect allows me to Special Summon one monster that mentions “Assault Mode Activate” from my Graveyard, and increase its Level from 1 to 4. Of course, I choose my Assault Sentinel and increase his level by 2.” The beastman returned, and its level was increased to 6. “I activate Assault Sentinel’s other effect, which allows me to reveal one Synchro Monster from my Extra Deck and change one of my monster’s Type and Attribute to the revealed monster’s. I’ll target my Assault Sentinel for this effect, and change its Type and Attribute to LIGHT Spellcaster!” Hector declared, revealing his Arcanite Magician.
“Finally, the moment of truth,” Hector said, and he took a deep breath. “I Synchro Summon using my Level 1 Psi-Reflector and my Level 6 Assault Sentinel! Come forth, Arcanite Magician!” The two monsters formed into a singular ring and 6 glowing stars, merging to form the white-robed mage. “When Synchro Summoned, its effect places two Spell Counters on itself, and it gains 1000 ATK for each Spell Counter on it! And that’s not all! I activate Arcanite Magician’s effect! By removing a Spell Counter from my field, I can destroy 1 card you control!” The Magical Citadel’s counter dropped from 2 to 1, and Arcanite Magician fired a bolt of black lightning from its staff, destroying Kaison’s face-down monster. “Battle Phase! I attack directly with Arcanite Magician!” Arcanite Magician fired another bolt of lightning, this time white, striking Kaison and dropping his Life Points down by 2400.
Kaison LP: 8000 > 5600
“Now I’ll place 1 card face-down and end my turn,” Hector said.
Kaison drew a card for his turn. “I special summon Treeborn Frog from the grave.” He gave Arcanite Magician a strange look, (perhaps one of pity?) before turning his attention back to his hand. “I activate One for One. By sending a monster from my hand to the grave, I can special summon a level one monster. I choose Morphtronic Vacuumen.”
“A vacuum cleaner.”
“Yes. It has this handy ability where it can suck up one of your monsters, like this. Go!”
The dust-busting menace aimed its deadly suction hose at Arcanite Magician, and like a saturday morning cartoon and/or unfortunate astronaut in deep space, it started to spaghettify.
“In that case, I activate my Trap Card: Assault Mode Activate!” Hector countered, the card flipping face-up on his field. “With this card, I Tribute a Synchro Monster and Special Summon its upgraded version from my Deck! Behold, Arcanite Magician/Assault Mode!” Hector’s Arcanite Magician robe began to glow, and with a flourish the magician exploded in a flash of light, revealing its bright red-orange armor underneath.
Kaison put his hand on his chin, seemingly admiring the new armor. “Neat.” He pulled a card out of his extra deck. “Using Treeborn Frog and Morphtronic Vacuumen, I XYZ Summon Lyrilusc - Promenade Thrush. I’ll detach Morphtronic Vacuumen to target the Magical Citadel of Endymion, shuffling it back into your deck.”
The grand city and magic circles of untold power fade away without a trace.
“Next, I’ll normal summon Kinka-Byo, and use its effect to special summon a level 1 monster from my graveyard. Guess who?”
Hector grimaced. The stupid vacuum cleaner was back.
It’s not a hard once-per-turn.
“Let’s try that again. Suck up Arcanite Magician/Assault Mode!”
Like staring down the barrel of a gun, Hector watched as his strongest monster spiraled away into a black void of nothingness.
“Now, using Kinka-Byo and Morphtronic Vacuumen, I’ll XYZ summon Ghostrick Dullahan.”
A headless horseman appeared, riding a white steed with mad red eyes. It’d be more intimidating if it wasn’t so small, though.
“Promenade Thrush, Ghostrick Dullahan, attack directly!”
The bird girl and the ghostly cavalier charged at Hector, dealing damage, one, then the other. “Using Promenade Thrush, I can detach Treeborn Frog to increase Ghostrick Dullahan’s attack by 300.” Ultimately, their attacks didn’t hurt that badly, though
Hector LP: 8000 > 6000
“Main Phase 2, I’ll XYZ Summon two Downerd Magicians using Lyrilusc - Promenade Thrush and Ghostrick Dullahan. Your turn.”
Hector drew his next card, his mind lost in thought. Because his Arcanite Magician/Assault Mode wasn’t destroyed, he could not activate its effect to bring back the original, and the Magical Citadel’s protection effect was easily circumvented. “I’ll play Endymion’s Lab,” Hector said, the Continuous Spell appearing on his field. “Endymion’s Lab’s name is treated as ‘Magical Citadel of Endymion’ while it’s face-up on the field. And I’ll activate Spell Power Grasp, allowing me to place 1 Spell Counter on it and add another Spell Power Grasp from my Deck to my hand. Endymion’s Lab also gains 1 additional Spell Counter when a Spell Card resolves.” Hector looked at his hand once more, then sighed. “I’ll end my turn with that,” Hector said.
Kaison drew again. “I special summon Treeborn Frog from my grave, then normal summon Battle Fader. Using Battle Fader and Treeborn Frog, I XYZ summon Ghostrick Dullahan.”
His Downerd magicians giggled demeaningly. 1200, 2300 and 2500. He had exact change. This was it.
“Now, Dullahan, Downerds, attack directly!”
Hector’s LP: 6000 > 0
Kaison was smiling just the same as when he started the duel, but Jon looked troubled. Kaison was difficult to read, so he couldn’t say for certain Hector’s efforts were in vain, but he had just asked his roommate for a favor that ended up humiliating him in front of his parents.
Hector dropped to his hands and knees in defeat. He had been overwhelmed practically one-sidedly. It was so… so…
Hector raised his head, his eyes lit up with excitement at Kaison’s dueling style. The ability to swarm the field with Level 1 monsters and summon multiple Xyz monsters was new to Hector. “That was incredible!” Hector said to Kaison, leaping back onto his feet. “You made use of so many different effects to dismantle my field and establish your own! And they all came from Level 1 monsters! I’ve never seen anything like it! How’d you come up with all this?”
Kaison’s face didn’t undergo any drastic changes, but from Jon’s perspective, it lit up. “I just really like underdog strategies. I started with strategies revolving around certain low-attack monsters or a bunch of normal monsters, but I found I liked playing my level 1 deck more.”
Hector nodded, “I see, I see.” Taking out a notebook and pen from within his jacket, Hector began to write within it, jotting down notes like ‘Treeborn Frog’ or ‘must inves. fur.’ “I’m no stranger to underdog strategies myself, but it seems I’ve been too focused on specific archetypes. It’s good to keep in mind the individual cards themselves as well. Thanks for reminding me about that,” Hector said.
Kaison looked embarrassed, putting a hand on the back of his head. “Oh, thanks, anytime. I’m not too familiar with Spell Counter strategies, but they look interesting.” He glanced at Hector’s parents, gauging how much he was getting in the way but not coming to a definite conclusion. “Wanna exchange contact information? We can talk more about it later."
“Sure!” Hector agreed. Hector’s parents were laughing as they talked to each other. They had been initially concerned at their son’s loss, but it was clear they had nothing to worry about.