As usual, at the very brink of Versus death, the crowd of boys around him began to hum the theme from I'm A Loser And My Friends Hate Me.
He looked at his fox-like spirit, ground under the heel of oppression. He looked at the closing tunnel of darkness around him. At the vanishing light. And then it came to him. Just there.
"Time out," he said.
The game stopped. The slayer froze in mid-swipe. The feral spirit arrested in anguish, with five percent health remaining on her meter.
"What?" his opponent returned, annoyed. "What the heck? You're dead."
"Activate Last Resort," the blonde boy said quietly, without conviction.
To his surprise, the Versus machine accepted the command. On the blonde boy's side a card slot holding a dead card lit up in yellow. The card slid out.
"What the hell is that?"
"I remembered," the blonde boy said, glad with the reprieve. "Game rule. When your last card is a dying spirit, I can Special Summon from the Reserve." He tapped a spare pile of cards.
His opponent was livid. "Fuck that. You don't have anything that can beat 24000 attack."
He was right. Not outright. But the blonde boy's mind was already racing with the possibilities. He shuffled absent-mindedly through the Reserve pack. There was one chance. The trouble was just that it was forbidden.
His opponent had pushed himself up. He was big for his age, with strong arms and the careless movements that come with supremacy. He was grinning, but there was menace in his grin.
"That's exactly the kind of move my little sister makes before she starts crying." His fingers reached up to his face and brushed away imaginary tears while his mouth made the movements of a fish gasping for air.
That was it. Forbidden or not, the blonde boy knew how to turn this around ...