Hatred and revenge prevents you from truly moving forward! I know that more than anyone! If you're imprisoned by your past, you have no future!

— Yusaku Fujiki, to Varis[1]

Yusaku Fujiki (ふじ ゆうさく, Fujiki Yūsaku) is the main protagonist of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS.[2] Around the time he met Kolter, he was known in LINK VRAINS as Unknown (アンノウン, An'noun) before changing his name to Playmaker (プレイメーカー, Pureimēkā). He is a victim of the Hanoi Project and is in possession of Ai, the Dark Ignis.



Yusaku Normal.png Yusaku VR duel.png

Yusaku's normal and VR clothing.

Yusaku is a teenage boy with fair skin, green eyes, and dark blue hair that spikes outward in the back and contains light blue bangs with pink accents. His standard attire is the Den City High School uniform, consisting of a slate-colored jacket with light blue trim over a white dress shirt with a blue tie and a pair of black pants and black and white shoes.

The only times Yusaku is seen without his uniform is when he runs the hot dog truck in Shoichi's absence, which consists of a black t-shirt, blue jeans and the Café Nom apron, and when he met Shoichi in the past. In the past, Yusaku wears a black hoodie with a gray-blue hem and strings over a white shirt. He wears pale teal pants and brown and grey shoes with orange on the straps.

Playmaker's Outfit Colour Change

Playmaker's stripe color on his outfit changing from gold to blue during a Ritual Summon.

While Dueling in LINK VRAINS, Yusaku wears a black and green bodysuit with a golden stripe going across his body and a grey belt at the waistline. His hair color also changes to yellow and red with pink strips and accents. Occasionally, the golden stripes in his "Playmaker" bodysuit glow when he uses his Skill. When Playmaker Ritual Summons, the stripe glows blue, when he Fusion Summons, the stripe glows purple, and when he Synchro Summons, the stripes glow green.


Young Yusaku.

When he was a child, Yusaku wore a brown jacket with a green shirt. He wore blue pants, brown boots, and didn't have pink accents on his light blue bangs yet.


Yusaku PTSD

A horrified Yusaku wakes up from a nightmare due to his PTSD.

Yusaku was a kind and cheerful child who loved and enjoyed dueling. However, his innocence was shattered after being kidnapped and subjected to months of intense torture during the Hanoi Project ten years ago. The incident caused Yusaku to develop severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and he continued to suffer nightmares from the torture he went through, even after receiving years of therapy. As a result, Yusaku holds hatred against the Knights of Hanoi and swears vengeance against them for ruining his life and others who were victimized by the incident.

As a teenager, Yusaku is shown to be calm, collected and intelligent, but also colder, more serious and aloof, believing his life to be cut short and devoid of friends or a future. This causes him to distance himself from people even when they try to befriend him, such as Naoki Shima, whose name Yusaku couldn't remember after a month in school. He comes off as rather awkward in public and has trouble answering questions at times, leading others to make assumptions about him, such as when Naoki thought he wanted to join the Duel Club and Skye thought he wanted new equipment from SOL. The only person he seems to trust and is on good terms with is his partner Kolter, and even still, Yusaku doesn't consider him a friend. He also didn't hesitate to capture Ai and even threaten to delete him in order to challenge the Hanoi. Yusaku can be quite sullen when dealing with Ai's antics, usually telling him to be quiet.

Despite his traumas and somewhat cynical views towards himself, Yusaku's kind nature remained, showing sympathy and care towards others' situations such as Gore's dedication to his orphanage. He also gives out short smiles on occasion. As Playmaker, Yusaku's demeanor is relatively the same with a degree of nobility, such as rescuing Blue Angel from "Cracking Dragon". He also has a strong sense of justice, helping those hurt by the Hanoi and refusing to harm or sacrifice others to achieve his goal. Specter noted this to be a strength, but also his biggest weakness. He doesn't allow others get close to him and join his fight against Hanoi out of concern for their safety. Yusaku also has a habit of listing out three reasons for his observations, something he learned from Varis during the Hanoi Project. He does this to organize his thoughts better and clear his mind when confused or feeling discouraged.

When Dueling, Yusaku stays calm, determined and confident in his skills, but never displays signs of arrogance. Unlike most of the previous Yu-Gi-Oh! protagonists, who enjoy Dueling and see it as fun, Yusaku sees it as a necessity to eliminate those who are in his way. He is unique in that his motivations for his actions are for revenge, instead of uniting people via Dueling and having fun. As such, he usually rejects challenges from other Duelists that aren't related to the Knights of Hanoi. However, when he is either forced to accept a Duel or willingly does so, he will not abandon it, as in the case of his first Duel with George Gore. Furthermore, Yusaku is not above complimenting his opponents, as when he praised Gore's Duel style, which was meant to excite both the crowd and even his opponent, as first-rate.

By season 2, Yusaku retains much of his original personality but is less cold-hearted than in the previous season. Having finally achieved his revenge against the Knights of Hanoi, Yusaku has gained some closure from the Hanoi Project and softens up a bit, as seen when he no longer views Ai as a hostage and more so as a partner. This is also seen in his conversation with Varis, where he expresses how he is no longer obsessed with hatred and revenge and is finally starting to move forward.


Yusaku is an intelligent hacker who possesses considerable ability and who solves mysteries in a cool manner. Cool-headed and extremely clever, Yusaku's real skill is in his hacking and cracking abilities. He was able to hack into SOL Technologies' systems to find Ai, which both SOL and the Knights of Hanoi had been hunting, within a few minutes and in the middle of a security scan, and managed to capture it into his Duel Disk while leaving the AI with no means to escape. He has been fighting the Knights of Hanoi for some time without leaving any trace of his actions as "Playmaker", and keeps a dummy deck to mislead others when in public. Yusaku combines his high intellect with his hacking abilities to quickly come up with plans and think on his feet.

An observant individual, he is very good at reading people and perceptive about circumstances. When Dueling, Yusaku keeps a close eye on his opponent's body language and expressions to know when they're planning something, and as such, he usually isn't surprised when something unexpected happens. This is seen when he saw right through Windy's facade and deduced him as the one who removed the lock program connecting Ai to his Duel Disk. He is also perceptive of his surroundings, as when he learns that the quiz in the dungeon is really a map of Den City.

When in a Speed Duel, Yusaku's Skill is "Storm Access" which allows him to randomly access a never-before-seen card from a Data Storm when his LP are 1000 or lower, at the cost of having to venture into the Data Storm (it would also appear that the more he uses this Skill, the easier it becomes for him to execute it, as when he used it in his Duels against the Knight of Hanoi and Gore, he struggled greatly, and had to use his left hand to steady his right arm; however, when he used it in his Duel against Blue Angel, he didn't struggle as much, nor did he steady his right arm). The cards obtained using this ability can then be converted into physical cards outside of LINK VRAINS using appropriate technology; also, as stated by Ghost Gal, "Storm Access" is a unique skill that not just any Duelist can use. Later, in episode 73, Ai reveals he's upgraded the Skill to "Neo Storm Access", which allows him to add any kind of Extra Deck monster to his Extra Deck, rather than just Link Monsters. He can also teleport back to his D-Board should he fall off from it during a Duel, though he would first need to stop his fall to do so.

Yusaku displays a strange ability to sense and see things in the network world when not logged in called Link Sense. Yusaku has had this ability since a young age, assumingly since the Lost Incident. Through Link Sense, he can discern a Knight of Hanoi's presence through their cards, which allowed him to immediately determine that Gore was not a Knight of Hanoi and know when Blue Angel had drawn the card that was affected by Hanoi's influence. He can hear and feel the pulse of his Cyberse Monsters and locate Ai in the network. It is revealed that he gained this power from Ai during the incident.


Like the protagonists of the previous five series (Yugi MutoJaden YukiYusei Fudo, Yuma Tsukumo, and Yuya Sakaki), his name contains the character「遊」(Yu). In a break from tradition, however, his first name contains three syllables instead of the usual two.

His given name contains the characters "game" (Yu 遊), and "work" (Saku 作). His surname, Fujiki, means "wisteria tree", the blue-and-pink coloring of which matches that of his hair. The kanji of his given name can also be translated as "playing" and "making", which is most likely the pun of his VR name "The Playmaker".



When he was a child, Yusaku ran on the streets when he accidentally bumped into a fellow boy, whose name was Ryoken. They accidentally dropped their cards, and quickly collected them. Seeing Yusaku was a Duel Monsters fan, Ryoken invited him to his house to show his Deck.[3]

Young Yusaku loses

Young Yusaku loses in an unknown location with a VR mask on.

Young Yusaku found in a forest

Young Yusaku rescued from the Hanoi Project.

Yusaku was one of the six kidnapped children, who were used for the Hanoi Project. He woke up in a white, empty room, with VR goggles. He placed them on, and was forced to Duel, with the penalties of being both electrocuted[4] and having nothing to eat if he lost. This repeated on for months, as he tried to Duel on. After six months passed Yusaku collapsed,[5] a voice told him he should not give up, and advised him to think of three reasons why to continue fighting,[6] who turned out to be Varis.[7]

Yusaku Treatment

Yusaku receives counseling for his trauma.

Yusaku asked who the voice was, but the voice told him he'd soon go home. The system was disbanded, and while Yusaku was rescued, the incident was covered up and not mentioned in the media. Regardless, Yusaku refused to believe he was rescued from the incident, as he developed PTSD afterwards. Over the following years, he underwent therapy to heal his trauma and tried to live a normal life, but the torture he experienced was too painful for him to forget. Eventually, Yusaku took his Deck and resolved to "face his destiny" by getting revenge against the Knights of Hanoi, whom he believed to be responsible for the "Hanoi Project".[5]

Yusaku went to LINK VRAINS under the name "Unknown" to hunt Knights of Hanoi grunts and interrogate them over the Lost Incident. One day he helped Kolter, named Unnamed, hide from the Knights of Hanoi. The Knights of Hanoi could not find Kolter, who climbed across a wall. Unnamed thanked Unknown, and stated they were alike, but Unknown reprimanded him for now knowing anything about the Knights of Hanoi. Unnamed explained he was trying to uncover information involving his brother with an incident that demolished his life. Unknown, who was asked about the Lost Incident, still stated that Unnamed had to get out to value his life, as Unknown logged out. Kolter, as Unnamed, continued to investigate the incident in LINK VRAINS. One day, however, the Knights of Hanoi cornered him, and just as Unnamed believed he could not get out of this, Unknown appeared. Unknown rushed to his aid, stating Unnamed should still watch over his brother, and the incident was not his fault, either. Unknown decided to fight the knights, and pointed a path where Unnamed could log out. Unnamed did so, leaving Unknown to fight one of the knights. Kolter rushed to the computer, where he watched Unknown Duel the knight, who belittled Unknown for daring to face the Knights of Hanoi.[8]

Unknown, who swore to take his revenge, summoned "Photon Trasher", "Marauding Captain" and "Exarion Universe" to set up a Link Summon of "Gaia Saber, the Lightning Shadow". The knight played "Limiter Removal" to double the ATK of his "Jack Wyvern". Not only did Unknown counter that effect with "Forbidden Lance", but he played his own "Limiter Removal", and defeated the knight in a FTK. The knights were held aback by Unknown, who asked them about the Lost Incident. The knights did not know about that, since they were simply hunters after Cyberse cards. Unknown saw it was a waste of time to confront them, and jumped away. Since the knights cornered him, Unknown jumped through a portal, created by Kolter. As Unknown had escaped, he was told to visit Café Nom in Den City. Unknown did so, and bought a hot dog from Kolter. He thanked Kolter for saving him, referring to him as Unnamed. Kolter was shocked that Unknown was so young, and explained he was investigating the Lost Incident, for his brother had been a victim of that project. He asked for Unknown's help, for they could save his brother from the suffering. Kolter introduced himself, offering his skills to Unknown to protect him in LINK VRAINS. Unknown acknowledged his call and confirmed he'd help Kolter, and introduced himself as Yusaku Fujiki.[8]

Unknown saves Unnamed

Unknown saves Unnamed before the latter fell into the trap.

For a while Unknown continued to fight Knights of Hanoi minions, but none of them had the info they needed. Kolter doubted they needed to speak with them, reminding they were in LINK VRAINS to hunt after Cyberse cards. Yusaku noticed Kolter was investigating something: the latter explained there was a legend of a dungeon inside LINK VRAINS. Its creator was being hunted by the Knights of Hanoi, and set up the dungeon to protect themselves and the Cyberse deck. Kolter laughed the legend off, but Yusaku pondered the thought, since the knights were hunting Cyberse cards. Believing the knights were afraid of Cyberse cards, Yusaku concluded that could be the weapon against their enemies. Thus, Unnamed and Unknown went into a dungeon inside LINK VRAINS. Just as Unknown went to alert Unnamed, the latter stepped on a trigger plate and nearly fell in a chasm of spikes, containing Duel Disks. Unknown caught Unnamed, who thanked him, noting the creator of the dungeon watched too many movies. He believed he'd take a lot of damage, but Unknown stated that without his Duel Disk, he wouldn't be able to log out.[9]

Unnamed still believed the dungeon to be a trap by the Knights of Hanoi. Unknown didn't mind that, for they were still searching for information about the Lost Incident. However, since the Deck was being hunted by the Knights of Hanoi, Unknown believed that would give them the attention needed so the knights would come after them. Unnamed noted how far Unknown has planned, who pressed a plate and revealed a secret passage, containing a sarcophagus and some plages. Unnamed and Unknown kneeled, as a Knight of Hanoi entered the area, pleased that he finally found the place. However, the knight's Duel Disk was hit by a light from the sarcophagus, as a preset Duel was initiated: the goal was to beat this Duel quiz. Unnamed was angry that the knight got before them, but Unknown stated this was a tough quiz to solve. The two noted the goal was to defeat the enemy, a data ghost, who had 4000 LP, five Extra Linked monsters and a set card, while the knight had two monsters and two set cards. The knight attempted to win by equipping "Megamorph" to "Update Jammer", and had it attack the enemy's "Link Spider". The data ghost played "Chaos Burst", negating the attack, destroying "Update Jammer" and defeating the knight.[9]

For losing the Duel, the knight was devoured by a data monster, and his Duel Disk was impaled. Unnamed commented this was no ordinary game, for the knight was strangely logged out. Unknown jumped down, for he came to acquire the Cyberse deck. Having his Duel Disk get hit by the light, Playmaker initiated the Duel quiz. He revised the situation as the same as the knight's, but noted "Dotscaper" in his GY, and three Link Monsters in his Extra Deck: "Proxy Dragon", "Secure Gardna" and "Binary Sorceress". Unnamed recalled that "Update Jammer" negated card effects, but Unknown stated "Chaos Burst" was played before the attack, and why the knight's strategy had failed, considering it would've negated "Megamorph", too. Unknown revised that "Tremendous Fire", "Torrential Rebirth" and "Thunder Crash" dealt effect damage. Revising these cards, Unknown thought of the strategy to defeat the data ghost. He summoned "Cyberse Gadget" to revive "Dotscaper", and used the two monsters to Link Summon "Binary Sorceress". Just as Playmaker proceeded at his next action, a Knight of Hanoi appeared, laughing at Unknown, since he could not win. The knight proclaimed he'd have the deck, but Unnamed bumped into him and used a handcuff to bind him.[9]

Unknown, however, used "Dotscaper" and "Gadget Token" to Link Summon "Proxy Dragon", the used "Binary Sorceress" to Link Summon "Secure Gardna". The knight and Unnamed saw it is over, since Unknown used all of his monsters to Link Summon. Unknown replied he'd never give up, else they'd never take revenge on those that made them suffer. Unnamed agreed, for they'd never learn the truth behind the Lost Incident if they gave up. Unknwon used "Tremendous Fire", but since that would inflict damage on him, he used "Link Restart" to negate that damage and revive "Binary Sorceress". Using "Thunder Crash", Unknown destroyed all of his monsters and inflicted 1500 LP damage to the data ghost. Combined with "Torrential Reborn", Unknown revived his monsters and inflicted 2500 LP damage to the data ghost, thus winning the Duel. Unknown and Unnamed ran towards the sarcophagus, but it turned out to be just an illusion, and the Deck was not present. The knight laughed that was a prank, and logged out. Unnamed was frustrated that there was nothing, and the dungeon started collapsing, and two logged out.[9]

Yusaku and Kolter's bonds

Kolter and Yusaku cheer for finding the Cyberse deck.

Instead, Kolter and Yusaku went to the warehouse district, for the Duel quiz was actually a map that showed Den City. Kolter claimed Yusaku could've summoned Link Monsters in different positions, and the map would've looked different. Yusaku confirmed this, but the connections between the Link Monsters still symbolized bridges, and they found the door where a card of "Secure Gardna" was placed, at the same spot Yusaku summoned that monster in his Duel. Opening the door, the two found the actual sarcophagus. Touching it, Yusaku unlocked the sarcophagus containing Cyberse cards. This cheered Kolter up, who stated that deck symbolized his bond with Yusaku, and the two crossed hands with each other.[9]

Assisted by Kolter, Yusaku hunted the Knights of Hanoi with the Cyberse deck. He changed his avatar name to Playmaker,[9] and over time, Playmaker became a famous duelist known for being able to stand up against Hanoi, with no one knowing his real identity because he always deleted his activity logs.[10]


At school, Yusaku met Naoki Shima, who started bragging to him about his new Duel Disk. When Yusaku attempted to leave, Naoki offered to teach him how to Duel. Yusaku rejected, saying Naoki did not seem very strong, but probably not a bad person either. Yusaku's remarks annoyed Naoki, but he didn't think much of it. Before leaving, he wondered about a rule set where there are only three Main Monster Zones.[10]

Yusaku and Kusanagi disccussing

Yusaku and Kolter talking about the AI.

Playmaker Saves The Blue Angel

Playmaker saves Blue Angel.

Yusaku later met up with Kolter and discussed how both SOL Technologies and their enemies, the Knights of Hanoi, were chasing after an AI program in LINK VRAINS with him. Upon learning that SOL Technology had scheduled a full scan of Link VRAINS that evening to try and find the AI, they quickly started working on a trap to catch the AI themselves. Although Yusaku successfully captured a reluctant Ai in his Duel Disk, one of the Knights of Hanoi threatened to destroy LINK VRAINS. Yusaku quickly entered LINK VRAINS as Playmaker and saved Blue Angel from the Knight's "Cracking Dragon". He then challenged the Knight to a Duel, putting Ai at stake. Ai voiced his doubts that Yusaku's Deck could beat "Cracking Dragon", then stirred up a wind in Link VRAINS, starting a Speed Duel between Yusaku and the Knight.[10]

Knight of Hanoi laughs at Playmaker

Playmaker being overwhelmed by the Data Storm.

As Playmaker rode the Data Storm winds, Ai explained how Speed Duels differ from Master Duels. When Ai mentioned there are only three Main Monster Zones, Yusaku wondered if he already knew about Speed Duels. Ai offered to help Playmaker Duel the Knight, but Playmaker refused, reminding Ai that he was his hostage. The Knight took the first turn and swiftly Summoned "Cracking Dragon". Yusaku wondered how to counter "Cracking Dragon" and failed to notice a building until Ai told him to dodge it, reminding him that Speed Duels have obstacles besides just the Duel. Playmaker summoned "Cyberse Wizard", surprising everyone watching that he had Cyberse monsters. Playmaker used the effect of "Wizard" to change "Cracking Dragon" to Defense Position and inflict damage to the Knight, but failed to destroy "Cracking Dragon". Ai noticed Playmaker wasn't particularly surprised that "Cracking Dragon" couldn't be destroyed, to which Playmaker said that the Knight didn't react to "Cyberse Wizard" so he figured the Knight was planning something. A tornado formed within the Data Storm.[11]

Playmaker Storm Access

Playmaker uses the Storm Access Skill.

The Knight activated a Skill, which angered Yusaku because Ai didn't mention skills. The Knight used "DDoS Attack" to inflict 1600 Damage to Playmaker and knock him off his D-Board. Blue Angel saved Playmaker by using her whip to throw the D-Board back at him. Ai noted that a fall from that height could've killed them. The Knight reduced Playmaker's LP to 400 and the Data Storm tornado sucked him. Inside the tornado, Yusaku figured out that this was part of Ai's calculations. Ai revealed that powerful monsters reside within the Data Storm, and that Playmaker's skill "Storm Access" allowed him to obtain those Monsters when his LP is below 1000. Playmaker obtained "Decode Talker", which he used to win the Duel. As the Knight fell off his D-Board, Yusaku declared that the Knight had no right to call himself a Duelist.[11]

Playmaker attempted to interrogate the Knight, only for the Knight to attempt to kill him by self-destructing. Ai saved his life by devouring the Knight. George Gore and Blue Angel appeared and challenged Playmaker, but he simply said he wasn't interested and logged out. Yusaku and Kolter spent the next few days trying to figure out Ai's programming and gave him the nickname "ai". Yusaku discovered some video logs that were actually Ai's memories. Ai said he didn't understand those memories because most were damaged when he was reduced to an eye, but he did recognize The Knight's of Hanoi's leader. Later that night, messing with Ai caused the Knight's leader to sense their location and travel there, Yusaku asked Kolter to shut down Café Nom's power to prevent them from being found, though he caught a glimpse of the Knight's leader.[12]

VRAINS log in

Yusaku logs in to the network.

The next day, a Knight of Hanoi appeared at LINK VRAINS while Ai was back at Yusaku's house, so Yusaku skipped school to go get his Duel Disk and face the Knight. On his way there, Kolter gave him the "Decode Talker" card which had materialized. Upon arriving at LINK VRAINS, Yusaku quickly figured out that the Knight was an impostor. The Knight revealed himself to be Gore, who wanted to defeat Playmaker and recover his title as "VRAINS' hero", Playmaker rejected his challenged but SOL triggered a program that stops Playmaker from logging out until he defeated The Gore. With no choice, Playmaker started the Duel. When Gor emade an intentional misplay and took damage, Ai questioned why he would make such an illogical move, to which Playmaker said that humans' hearts make them do illogical things. Ai was confused by that but Playmaker didn't explain what it meant because Ai's algorithm-based thinking wouldn't comprehend it.[13]

The Gore Link Summoned "Gouki The Great Ogre‎‎"[13] and reduced Playmaker's LP to 100. Playmaker could've reduced the damage he took but chose not to, and refused to use the escape route that Kolter had built. Ai again was confused by why humans make illogical contradictory choices. Yusaku stated that Gore's Duel was meant to entertain the audience and Yusaku himself and that he wouldn't quit the Duel. Playmaker proceeded to win by Link Summoning four times in a row and attacking "Great Ogre" three times with "Decode Talker". After the Duel, Kolter suggested they should recruit Gore for their fight against Hanoi, but Yusaku rejected the idea, saying that he didn't want Gore to face the danger of fighting against them.[14]

When Kolter uncovered Skye Zaizen's identity as Blue Angel, Yusaku realized that Skye was a student at Den City High School and his classmate. Kolter suggested meeting her in order to find out if her brother Akira, who was the Security Manager at SOL Technologies, knew anything about Yusaku's past or Kolter's brother. However, he then started teasing that talking to Skye would be impossible for Yusaku because of his lack of social skills. Nevertheless, Yusaku managed to track her down with Ai's help, and followed her to the Duel Club, where Naoki caught up to him. He feigned ignorance when Naoki inferred that he wanted to join the club, and when Hosoda invited him in, he nervously tried to opt out until Ai said thanks on his behalf, which upset him. Yusaku introduced himself to the rest of the club, and the other members introduced themselves as well, including Skye. When another member, Sato, showed him his Duel Disk, he pretended to be interested, commenting on the fact that it was the latest model. Skye remarked that he knew a lot, but he said it was only because Naoki had bragged about it earlier. Meanwhile, Ai tried to start a conversation with Skye's Duel Disk, which made Skye notice that Yusaku's Duel Disk was a card-loading model, the same as Playmaker's. When she asked to see his Deck, he obliged, but handed her his dummy Deck instead. Ai later complimented him on this, but Yusaku told him to be quiet, as a meeting was in progress.[15]

That evening, he watched Blue Angel issue a public challenge for Playmaker to come out and Duel her. Ai suggested that he should accept, but he refused, since he only approached Skye attempting to acquire a lead on his stolen memories, and he only Duels against Knights of Hanoi, which she wasn't. Despite this, he was visibly embarrassed when the MC declared that Playmaker wasn't a man if he didn't accept. The next morning, Ai read various posts on social media making fun of Playmaker for not accepting. He soon bumped into Skye again, and they said good morning to each other. While walking to class, Skye asked him why he wanted to join the Duel Club, not believing it was because he loved Dueling. When Yusaku tried to ask about her brother, she replied that people only ever approached her to ask if her brother could give them a new Duel Disk or a job at SOL after graduation. She lamented that her brother didn't trust her, and ran off. Soon after, Ai tried to warn Yusaku about a problem he'd noticed with Skye's Duel Disk, but Yusaku wouldn't hear of it.[15]

In class, Ai suddenly told him to hold up, and Yusaku scolded him for being too loud. He was surprised, however, when Ai said that a Knight of Hanoi had appeared. He went to the balcony behind the Duel Club to enter LINK VRAINS, but instead of a Knight of Hanoi, he found Blue Angel, who remarked that he had finally made his decision about her challenge. He was initially oblivious, but realized that Ai had sent Skye a text message on Playmaker's behalf challenging her. He became angry, thinking Ai had tricked him, until Ai told him that Blue Angel had Hanoi's card in her Deck, which shocked him. He realized that this was what Ai was trying to tell him earlier, but wondered why Blue Angel would join Hanoi. Ai suggested that Hanoi might be using her to lure Playmaker, and asked what he would do, since he wanted to defeat all Hanoi. Soon after, a Data Storm appeared, and the Duel started.[15]

Playmaker was quickly at the mercy of Blue Angel's Trickstar Deck, which repeatedly dealt him effect damage while powering up the ATK of her ace monster, "Trickstar Holly Angel", and he noted that this offensive strategy was very efficient. He Summoned "Decode Talker" and attacked "Holly Angel" with it, but the attack failed and "Decode Talker" was destroyed instead. Ai commented that Blue Angel was putting pressure on them, but Playmaker noticed that Hanoi's presence was getting stronger. At that moment, Blue Angel drew "Dark Angel", Hanoi's card. During Yusaku's next turn, he was reduced to less than 1000 LP, allowing him to use his Skill and gain access to "Encode Talker", which he promptly Link Summoned. Blue Angel realized that Playmaker was taking advantage of the damage that she was inflicting on him, and tried to end the Duel by using her Skill, but failed because Playmaker was protected by "Defect Compiler". In response, she played "Dark Angel", and immediately fell under Hanoi's influence. She entered into a berserk rage and started screaming, much to Playmaker's and Ai's concern. He ended the Duel as quickly as possible by destroying "Holly Angel" with "Encode Talker", defeating Blue Angel in one hit, but not before she succumbed to mental damage from "Dark Angel" and fell unconscious.[16]


Yusaku caught in "Blue Angel's" trap.

Playmaker then found Blue Angel unconscious while Ai devoured the Hanoi card. He was forced to logout when security bots were incoming and found Skye in a comatose state on the roof. He proceeded answer Skye's phone when Akira called and took Skye to the hospital. He then met Akira who thanked him and questioned his relationship with Skye, to which he responded that they were just classmates. Yusaku, Kolter, and Ai then discussed Skye's condition and a possible cure. Ai said that when he devoured Hanoi's card he detected that Skye's brain must be infected by a virus, and that the only ones with the appropriate anti-virus would be Hanoi themselves. "Blue Angel" then appeared on the city's screens challenging Playmaker to a rematch. Despite knowing that it was an impostor and most likely a trap, Yusaku claimed it was his responsibility to rescue Skye; if the impostor was a Knight of Hanoi he could get the anti-virus, on the other hand if it was a SOL agent he could explain them what happened to Skye. After logging in, he identified Blue Angel as a fake and was trapped by her. She revealed herself to be "Ghost Gal", who accompanied by Akira who proceeded to entrap and torture Playmaker believing him to be responsible for Skye's condition, despite Playmaker and Ai's claims of innocence and that they were looking for an anti-virus, Varis appeared and claimed that he would challenge Playmaker for Ai. After threatening Akira that Skye will never wake up unless Playmaker defeats him in a Duel, Akira released Playmaker and vanished. Before Playmaker took his leave, Akira pleaded with him to save Skye, despite hating him for his brutal treatment towards him. Playmaker stated that he doesn't hate Akira, he only hates the Knights of Hanoi, much to Akira's surprise.[17]

As Playmaker and Varis rode off the Data Wind to commence the Speed Duel, Playmaker expressed his desire to battle the Knights of Hanoi and uncover their true identities. Varis replied that he didn't care about his opinion and stated that his only goal was to retrieve Ai. Both sides agreed on several conditions for their Duel: if Playmaker won, Ai would eat the program from Varis to get Skye's body back, while if Playmaker lost, he would give Ai to Varis. After that, Varis declared his hatred for AIs and his belief that Ai would lead everyone to destruction. Varis also blamed Playmaker for assisting Ai and swore to eliminate him. Varis then waved his hand, causing the LINK VRAINS to be crushed and replaced with lava rivers and fiery lakes, as the Duel finally began.[18]

As the Speed Duel progressed, Playmaker defeated Varis' "Cracking Dragon" with "Decode Talker" once more, until Varis revealed that he had the very same skill as Playmaker's and Ai's: "Storm Access". With it, Varis summoned "Topologic Bomber Dragon", and began to gain the upper hand.[18] Fearing they might lose, Ai led Playmaker to another Data Storm, where the two obtained a dragon. However, Varis activated the Trap Card, "Remote Rebirth", and combo-ed it with the effect of "Topologic Bomber Dragon", ending the Speed Duel in a DRAW. Following that, Varis dragged Playmaker and Ai inside a Data Storm, where they began a Master Duel. As the Duel went on, Varis activated the effect of "Fire Prison", eliminating all Cyberse cards from the field, as well as making Ai seemingly vanish into thin air.[19]

As the Master Duel progressed, Varis gained the upper hand once more by summoning "Borreload Dragon" and attacked Playmaker directly. Just as Playmaker was on the verge of giving up, he remembered the words someone told him long ago: having three reasons to live and win Duels. Playmaker then called out to Ai, asking him to lend him his power, as he proceeded to Link Summon Firewall Dragon, and ultimately destroyed "Fire Prison," as well as return Ai to consciousness. Ai was amazed to see the two dragons, until Varis used the effect of "Borreload Dragon" to take control of "Firewall Dragon", but Playmaker countered with "Cynet Refresh" to destroy and revive it back on his field. He then activated "Recoded Alive" to banish "Decode Talker" from his GY to Special Summon "Encode Talker" and declared the real battle was just beginning.[6]

When Playmaker's "Firewall Dragon" used its effect to return "Borreload Dragon" from the field, Varis informed him that it couldn't be targeted by effects. Playmaker targeted "Magnarokket Dragon", whose effect caused "Firewall Dragon" to be destroyed. Instead, Playmaker's "Cynet Refresh" protected his dragon from destruction. Varis was amused, and ended his turn. Much to Varis' surprise, Playmaker had "Firewall Dragon", protected by "Encode Talker", attack "Borreload Dragon", who had more ATK. With "Battle Buffer", "Encode Talker's" ATK was raised, and impressed Varis for such a strategy. To counter that, Varis targeted "Encode Talker" with his dragon to reduce the ATK, causing "Encode Talker" to be destroyed and Playmaker's strategy to backfire. While "Firewall Dragon's" ATK was raised by "Battle Buffer", Varis' "Rokket" dragons regained their effects. Varis claimed the match was over, as Playmaker could not attack anymore. The latter made him doubt that, since he could not use the effect of "Magnrokket Dragon". Using "Recoded Alive", Playmaker revived "Decode Talker", whose ATK was boosted up to destroy "Borreload Dragon". However, Varis used "Borrel Refrigeration" to make "Magnarokket Dragon" destroy itself to blast away "Decode Talker". Varis smiled, seeing how close he was to his victory, with Playmaker having no cards nor attacks to execute. Playmaker refused to lose, and claimed he wanted to uncover the events that had happened 10 years ago, to recover the time he had lost and wanted to save the person that saved him. Varis was surprised that Playmaker was involved in an incident 10 years ago , He replied he was "that emissary of revenge". Varis claimed Playmaker was a fool to help SOL Technologies out without knowing the truth.Playmaker refused to listen, and using "Parallel Port Armor", he had "Firewall Dragon" attack once more to perform a One Turn Kill. The attack destroyed "Borreload Dragon", and defeated Varis.[20]

After Playmaker defeated Varis, he demanded that Varis reveal his true identity and those of the Knights of Hanoi. He was shock when he witnessed Ai eating Varis' arm in order to get his data back. Before Varis left, he gave the antidote for Blue Angel's coma to Playmaker. Playmaker accompanied Ghost Gal to where Akira and Blue Angel were, using the antidote to cure Blue Angel to allow her to log out of Link VRAINS. Akira thanked him for saving Blue Angel, but Playmaker logged out before Akira could finish. Yusaku became tired and distressed as he logged out. He asked Kolter if was Skye alright before collapsing. When Kolter showed him the footage on how Skye was doing, Yusaku fell asleep. Ai commented how lazy Yusaku was. Kolter told Ai that heroes needed rest too. Yusaku dreamed about Varis' words regarding Ignis with free will, which caused him to wake up. Kolter sensed he was thinking about what Varis told about Ai. Since they could not prove that Ai was actually alive, Ai made that assertion. Ai used the program he obtained from Varis to regain his full body. However, Ai's size didn't impress Yusaku and Kolter, who tried to determine if Ai regained some of his memories. [20]

As Yusaku was eating hot dogs, he witnessed Emma Bessho visiting Café Nom to order chili dogs and a coffee. She inquired Kolter about a Celebrity Duelist and mentioned she was interested in Dueling Playmaker, intriguing Yusaku. After Emma left, Yusaku noted how stress Kolter was and decided to help him delete the files regarding Playmaker. As they were deleting files, Kolter asked where Ai was. Yusaku told him that he left Ai at home because he was annoying. Despite this, Yusaku wondered about Varis' words about AI with free will. Knowing Varis unleashed the attack on Cyberse and searched for Ai, Yusaku claimed Varis destroyed the Cyberse world. Still, he wondered if it was wise to seek Varis out for answers about Yusaku's past, and about Kolter's brother. He then inadvertently deleted a big scoop that would have revealed everything Playmaker and Kolter knew involving Ai and the Knights of Hanoi, which was about to be published by Frog and Pigeon.[21]

At home, Yusaku thought about Varis' words about AI with free will in his hidden room. Kolter called him to come to Café Nom, where Kolter showed him an encrypted message on an Internet forum, sent to him from Ghost Gal. Kolter explained that he had created a program to help Ghost Gal enter the Data Storm during the Duel with Varis. The two read how she requested a Duel from Playmaker, with Ai as the wager. Yusaku accepted, stating that she offered a backdoor to SOL Technologies' data bank, and Kolter confirmed that fact, showing she did send a bit of the data as proof. Yusaku asked Kolter to reply that Playmaker would accept her challenge. Ghost Gal soon entered LINK VRAINS, and Yusaku went to do the same. Kolter wondered if Yusaku would really go and Duel her, since she could've set another trap. Yusaku claimed he had to uncover the truth behind the incident, hoped in the data bank there was some information about Knights of Hanoi, and sensed some determination in Ghost Gal, despite her weaknesses.[22]

Playmaker quickly met up with Ghost Gal and she showed him her program she set as a stake for the Duel. Playmaker wondered why wouldn't she access the data bank, and was told Ghost Gal wanted his Ai, so she could sell it to SOL Technologies. She admitted she grew more interested in Playmaker after his latest Duel, and wanted to battle him as a cyber treasure hunter. Despite Ai's warnings, Playmaker accepted her Duel, as the two rode off on the Data Wind. In her first turn, Ghost Gal Summoned "Altergeist Marionetter" and Set two cards. Playmaker had his "Cyberse Wizard" attack, but was stopped by Ghost Gal's "Altergeist Kunquery". Despite his attack, Ghost Gal was intrigued how he dared to attack, despite her Set cards. Ghost Gal Summoned another "Marionetter", Set another card, then Link Summoned "Altergeist Primebanshee". She swapped one of her "Marionetters" for "Meluseek". Ghost Gal ended her preparations, and aimed to defeat Playmaker before he could use his Skill. As Ghost Gal initiated the Battle Phase and claimed she would win in that turn, Ai laughed, as she would make 2400 LP damage. Both Playmaker and Ghost Gal scolded Ai for such thinking; Playmaker claimed no Duelist would make that simple math error, making Ghost Gal wonder why everyone was after "this dumb AI" which causes Ai to get angry, Playmaker then told him to not to get angry when she is telling the truth about him. Regardless, "Meluseek" attacked directly and sent "Cyberse Wizard" to the GY, allowing "Marionetter" to attack directly, and allowing "Primebanshee" to do so as well. Ghost Gal smiled, feeling her dreams grow larger, and ordered Playmaker to brace himself for his defeat.[22]

Ghost Gal had "Primebanshee" attack Playmaker directly while he Special Summoned "Lockout Gardna". Ai knew they would have enough LP to continue and even use Storm Access, and exclaimed how "bad" this would be. However, Ghost Gal knew Ai was just pretending, and decided not to attack. Ai was in shock, and Playmaker told him his acting was horrible. On Playmaker's turn, Ghost Gal swapped "Meluseek" with "Altergeist Silquitous", by using the effect of "Primebanshee", and also added an "Altergeist Kunquery" to her hand. Playmaker attempted to destroy her ace by Tributing "Backlinker", but was prevented by Ghost Gal's "Altergeist Protocol". Ghost Gal claimed she could anticipate their every move: Playmaker attempted to revive "Backlinker" with "Striping Partner", but was stopped by "Altergeist Silquitos". Using "Lockout Gardna", both effects were negated, though Ghost Gal had one final trap prepared. She noted how Playmaker was an interesting person, as she suspected. Playmaker Link Summoned "Underclock Taker" and tried to weaken "Primebanshee". Ghost Gal countered that with "Altergeist Camouflage", and protected "Primebanshee" from attacks, stating Playmaker had reached his limits.[23]

Playmaker paid 1000 LP to activate the effect of "Balancer Lord", making him eligible to use Storm Access. Ghost Gal refused to let him activate the Skill and used her Skill, Secret Cure to increase both players' LP. Playmaker Special Summoned "Scan Doll", and paid 1000 LP to use "Protocol" on "Silquitos". However, Ghost Gal believed he simply forgot about "Kunquery" she still had in her hand. Playmaker used Storm Access, but Ghost Gal went with him into the Data Storm. However, she lost control of her D-Board and fell off of it, Playmaker saved her and reminded her their Duel was not over yet and let her go back on the D-Board. Playmaker Link Summoned "Excode Talker", whose effect made two of Ghost Gal's Main Monster Zones unusable, and Tributed "Scan Doll" to make his "code Talker" attack twice. Since all of Ghost Gal's monsters could not be targeted for an attack target, "Excode Talker" attacked Ghost Gal twice, and Playmaker won the Duel. Later, Ghost Gal watched the moon, even if Ai reminded her that was just data. Ghost Gal, as promised, gave Playmaker the program to enter the SOL Technologies' data bank, and left. Yusaku logged out of the network, and Kolter started to analyze it. However, Yusaku was too tired and fell asleep.[23]

Playmaker in the mother computer

Playmaker infiltrates the mother computer system.

Kolter analyzed Ghost Gal's program, showing Yusaku the schematics, looking like a maze. They both wondered how skilled Ghost Gal was to have managed to hack into SOL Technologies' data bank, and Kolter promised he would finish by the time school was over for Yusaku to enter the mother computer system. While at school, Yusaku wondered where Skye was, as he and Ai thought her brother forbade her from entering LINK VRAINS, to protect her from any danger. Ai noticed Yusaku actually cared about her; Yusaku simply stated one should not give up on Dueling this way. As school was over, Yusaku went to Kolter's van. Kolter showed the path to the data bank, but warned a lot of traps were set to stop anyone. Yusaku started hesitating, and analyzed that Ghost Gal also wanted something if she gave him the program, even if the information Yusaku could find there may not be that important. Still, he accessed the LINK VRAINS to enter the mother computer system - an eerie, dark place. To protect himself, Playmaker used a device to navigate himself, and a rope to disguise him from security programs. Once the security programs started to go after Playmaker, he launched three "Sphere Kuriboh" to shatter them without alerting anyone. Passing the first corridor, Playmaker arrived to the second one, in which a Data Storm was located. Playmaker was pulled towards it, and his rope broke, alerting the security chief, Kitamura. The latter sent two AI prototypes to hunt after Playmaker, who managed to elude them. However, one of the AI-s caught up with him, and initiated a Duel with Playmaker. The AI prototype brought out "Tentacluster Nautilus", and tributed his "Tentacluster Drillworm", making Playmaker discard all of his cards. Playmaker drew a card, but had to sent it, due to "Drillworm", ending up with no cards to play. The other AI prototype arrived and started attacking Playmaker, intending on grabbing his Duel Disk. Much to everyone's surprise, Blue Angel arrived, using her whip to grab the AI prototype. Playmaker muttered her name, as she declared she would be the one to defeat Playmaker, and started a Duel with the other AI prototype.[24]

Playmaker at data bank

Playmaker reaches the data bank.

Playmaker muttered Blue Angel's name, who came to repay him for curing her. Playmaker claimed he never indebted her; regardless, Blue Angel started the Duel with the other AI prototype. Continuing the Duel, Playmaker banished "Dotscraper" and "Linkslayer" to Special Summon "Dual Assembwurm" from the GY, with its ATK halved, and brought "Dotscraper" with its effect. Using "Cynet Defrag" to summon "Flick Clown" and use the latter's effect, Playmaker had 1000 LP left to use his Skill to grab a Link Monster from the Data Storm. Using his three Cyberse monsters, Playmaker summoned "Vector Scare Archfiend", and summoned "Cyberse Wizard" from his hand; the two monsters attacked the prototype's "Tentacluster" monsters, damaging it to 1100 LP. He Tributed "Cyberse Wizard" to use the effect of "Vector Scare Archfiend" to revive "Tentacluster Nautilus" and gained another attack. He then destroyed "Tentcluster Nautilus" and defeated the AI prototype, who vanished into thin air. Playmaker entered the Data Bank, and was surprised to see Akira, who expected him to be there.[25] Playmaker questioned Ghost Gal and Akira, as to why they were in the data bank. When Ghost Gal explained that they were after the data, Playmaker figured out that he was just used as a decoy for them to enter the data bank. He ordered Akira to move, who refused, and admitted that he obtained the data, thus knowing what happened to Playmaker ten years ago. Akira claimed he had the right to know about the incident and Playmaker asked of him to hand the data over. Instead, Akira asked Playmaker to hand over Ignis and disperse, wanting to shed some light over the incident, and Ghost Gal added Akira was demoted, due to the incident with Varis. Yusaku claimed he would be the one to reveal the truth since it didn't personally involve Akira and challenged him to a Duel. He bet Ai for the data, and Akira accepted, seeing this was the only way to defeat Playmaker.[26]

Yusaku furious

Yusaku becoming furious at Akira

Playmaker Link Summoned "Decode Talker" and used its Link Materials - and "Stack Reviver" - to revive "Cyberse Gadget" and summon a "Gadget Token". Playmaker prepared his offence, but Akira tributed "Tindangle Base Gardna" for "Tindangle Hound" to weaken his monsters and activated "Lemoine Point" to prevent Playmaker from attacking face-down monsters. Playmaker used "Cyberse Gadget" and "Gadget Token" to Link Summon "Flame Administrator". The latter's effect increased "Decode Talker's" ATK, enough to destroy "Tindangle Hound". Akira flipped "Tindangle Angel", reviving "Tindangle Hound" in face-down position, and forced Playmaker to end the Battle Phase. Akira, however, spoke about his and Skye's past, and didn't wish that Skye was captured by strangers like Playmaker was. Akira said he would set things straight, and asked for his trust. Kolter and Playmaker became furious, seeing Akira understood nothing about them. Playmaker trusted that Akira was a good person, but doubted he knew anything about the pain he bore. Akira Flip Summoned "Tindangle Hound", and set "Tindangle Angel" into face-down position and gained its attack, plus weakening Playmaker's monsters. Akira attacked Playmaker's "Flame Administrator" and halved his LP. Playmaker used "Limit Code" to bring out "Encode Talker", at the cost of reducing its and "Decode Talker's" ATK. Playmaker saw Akira knew nothing of his goal, as he Link Summoned "Firewall Dragon".[26]

"Tindangle Hound's" effect caused "Firewall Dragon's" ATK to be reduced. Using "Link Hole", Akira's monsters were destroyed, leaving him open for direct attacks. After Akira got directly hit by "Decode Talker", he destroyed the latter with "Tindangle Delaunay", and immediately brought out his ace, "Tindangle Acute Cerberus". The latter attacked "Firewall Dragon", whom Playmaker protected with "Doppler Phase Coating". Akira protected his own monster with "Gergonne's End"; Playmaker noted Akira's Deck was quite difficult to figure out with such complex strategies. Playmaker tried to have "Firewall Dragon", enhanced with "Alert Lancer", attack "Tindangle Token" to finish the Duel. However, Akira prevented damage with "Morley's Shield", and to counter Playmaker's strategy, used "Nagel's Protection" to protect his Tokens. "Tindangle Acute Cerberus" attacked, causing Playmaker's LP to be lowered down to 500. Ai yelled to Playmaker to do something, and even wondered if there was anything that can be done to get them out of the situation. Playmaker asked of Ai to stop panicking, asking if it even was an AI, making the latter furious why he was so calm. Playmaker claimed if Ai was so worried about losing, it should consider about finding a new home. Ai replied he didn't think of that, since he had Playmaker as a friend to help him out. Playmaker claimed they were not friends, stating Ai should behave like other AI-s. This crushed Ai, seeing Playmaker was colder than AI-s.[5]

Playmaker swore he would not lose, since he wished to uncover the truth. He looked at his deck, commenting it contained his feelings over the past ten years. Playmaker drew a card and set it, while Akira commented that was his destiny. Akira asked of Playmaker to stop this revenge and go to school to cherish these memories, rather than trying to uncover the truth, which Akira would reveal. He claimed Playmaker was too conceited in the past, and he would not feel happiness, just like Akira didn't. Blue Angel came to hear the story, though Playmaker wished that Akira did not tell the story. Akira spoke about the incident, mentioning that Playmaker was rescued. Playmaker refused to believe he was rescued, and swore he'd uncover the incident, for the sake of the families hurt in the incident, and wished to rescue the person whose voice that encouraged him to fight may still be trapped. Playmaker claimed even if Akira believed revenge was pointless, he still discovered that the Knights of Hanoi had involvement in the project. Akira also stated the SOL Technologies' data bank contained the name of the mastermind behind the Hanoi Project. Playmaker was shocked, and yelled out for the name of the mastermind, but Akira remained silent.[5]

Playmaker demanded the name of the mastermind, but Akira refused to give out the name, fearing this would only feed Playmaker's desire for revenge and hatred. Akira decided to conclude the Duel by having "Tindangle Acute Cerberus" attack "Firewall Dragon". Playmaker avoided the defeat by banishing his dragon with "Cynet Backdoor" and with "Doppler Phase Coating" gone, Akira's Battle Phase ended. Akira turned the tables by using "Euler's Circuit", preventing Playmaker from attacking, and allowing one "Tindangle" monster to be switched to Playmaker's field. Playmaker was frustrated, and noted this was a Duel for justice. Akira swore to take the data and track down the ones responsible. Playmaker doubted he knew anything, as he trusted his own justice that would make him prevail and win. Drawing a card, Playmaker used "Draconnet", "Bitron" and "Digitron" to bring out "Link Spider", "Recovery Sorcerer" and "Secure Gardna". Akira pointed out the pointlessness of summoning the monsters, as Playmaker was unable to attack. Since "Secure Gardna" was placed on the top link of "Tindangle Acute Cerberus", Akira used "Gergonne's End" to nuke all monsters linked to inflict massive damage on Playmaker, believing the latter has lost hope in winning.[27]

The effect activated, dealing 4500 LP damage to Playmaker. Akira turned around, but was surprised to see Playmaker survived as "Secure Gardna" prevented all effect damage during that turn. This trap destroyed "Euler's Circuit", and allowed Playmaker to attack. Despite the advantage, Playmaker used "Recovery Sorcerer" to bring back "Secure Gardna". Ai questioned this, as Playmaker could simply make a direct attack with "Firewall Dragon", but was told a Duel is more than just winning or losing. Playmaker made "Firewall Dragon" return Akira's "Tindangle Hound" and "Tindangle Angel" from the GY to his hand, thus forcing "Tindangle Acute Cerberus'" ATK to drop to 0. Declaring "Tempest Attack", "Firewall Dragon" attacked "Tindangle Acute Cerberus" and defeated Akira. Playmaker then walked pass by Akira and Blue Angel, having Ai eat away SOL Technologies' data. Before leaving, Playmaker asked of Akira not to follow him, or else he'd walk the path of darkness. Akira wanted to know why Playmaker didn't attack directly with "Firewall Dragon". He explained "Tindangle Hound" and "Tindangle Angel" represent Akira and his sister, who should rather turn around and walk to the light. He went on the D-Board and logged out of the mother computer system. Outside, Kolter praised Yusaku and Ai, the former giving out the data he acquired. The two hacked into Ai, and found out the Hanoi Project's leader was Dr. Kiyoshi Kogami, an employee from SOL Technologies, who alone worked on the project in secrecy. The two concluded SOL Technologies covered up the incident, or else the company's reputation would've been ruined. Ai doubted the man could have done this on his own, and thought Akira was involved, but Kolter reminded him Akira, back then, was 16 and was not employed at SOL Technologies at the time. Kolter and Yusaku failed to find the project's goal, but most shockingly, they discovered Dr. Kogami died seven years ago.[27]

With the food truck positioned at the coast, Yusaku was doing research. Kolter invited him for a break, and gazed upon the ocean. Yusaku pointed out Kolter won't get many customers at that place, but Kolter assured him the famous coast was named Stardust Road, known for the luminous plankton that rarely gather at night, and thought the person living near the coast may have seen that. Kolter failed to gather new info from SOL Technologies' data, and Yusaku saw that data from ten years ago was actually deleted. Still, they knew the company was involved, even if Akira knew nothing about the incident before. Kolter felt a bit relieved that Dr. Kogami passed away, thinking their revenge was over. Yusaku reminded him they still didn't know about the goal of the incident, and Kolter still wanted to rescue his brother from darkness, even if they had no clue where to continue. Yusaku still remembered Varis knew some things. Kolter stated Varis was not seen recently, but Yusaku believed he was not the type that would simply disappear.[28]


Playmaker and Ai watched an eclipse blocking the virtual sun in LINK VRAINS. Ai remembered people in the ancient past were scared of such events, and was surprised people, even today, were still afraid. Playmaker replied people remain the same, unlike technology that advances. The latter proclaimed the light was blocked by darkness, and confirmed to Ai he meant about the Lost Incident. He would not let the incident be buried in darkness, and would uncover the truth. Later, Yusaku was at school, and remembered how someone spoke to him during the Lost Incident project. Naoki called out to Yusaku, reminding him the class was over, and thought he was one of the "Athnoers". Yusaku walked away, and Naoki told him "Athnoers" were people trapped in LINK VRAINS, noting a lot of students haven't attended the school. He believed it was due to cursed Duel Disks, which, at midnight, emit white hands that drag people into LINK VRAINS, leaving the people's bodies "hollow". He thought no person would return back to their old-selves, even if they were taken to the hospital. Ai thought this had relations to Blue Angel, but Yusaku shushed him, since Naoki could hear him. Naoki doubted Yusaku would become a victim, since they were usually people with promising Dueling future. Yusaku advised him to stay away from the Duel Disk and walked away from Naoki, who wished Playmaker would set things straight. Before leaving, Yusaku corrected him the term was "Anothers", not "Athnoers", which made Naoki furious, since Yusaku knew everything already. Inside the van, Kolter showed to Ai and Yusaku the footage of a camera, when a person turned into an Another, which happened six minutes before midnight. Ai noted there were no white hands taking the person into LINK VRAINS. Kolter told them the person had not recovered yet, and showed pictures of more Another patients in the hospitals. Ai and Yusaku knew this was the same accident with Blue Angel, who was infected by a virus.[29]

Kolter believed someone wanted people to be turned into mindless people, but has not find out what happened to their LINK VRAINS' avatars. Kolter showed more data, and Yusaku analyzed all of the Anothers were great Duelists with old-type Duel Disks, and all of them were hackers, too. The trio realized Playmaker, or Ai, were the targets. Yusaku reminded the importance of uncovering the truth behind Lost Incident, and as noted by Ai, they had to stop people from becoming Anothers. Ai noted Yusaku was a cool hero of justice, even if the latter claimed that was unnecessary. Kolter showed a list of possible targets, from which the first was Makoto Kimishima. Yusaku traced the person to his house, and saw lights at his window. Yusaku broke through into his room, and saw he became a victim. In addition, he and Ai watched Makoto's avatar inside LINK VRAINS being confronted by a person, who wished to know if he was Playmaker and had Ignis. Yusaku and Ai saw the person casted some glitter, causing Makoto to fall asleep and fall off the cliff, but was saved by George Gore. Playmaker watched as Gore confronted the person, Dr. Genome, who placed the virus into Makoto, only to draw Playmaker out. Yusaku came to the hospital, where he heard Gore swore to defeat Dr. Genome. Gore saw Yusaku and realized he was also concerned about Makoto, who attended the same school. Yusaku gave out his name to Gore, and left. At the van, Kolter and Yusaku watched the Knights of Hanoi Dueling people, and turning them into Anothers. Yusaku decided to go into LINK VRAINS, even if Kolter believed he would be at a disadvantage, and Ai wished to feel secure. Surprisingly, they saw "Playmaker" battling the Knights of Hanoi, by stopping their programs and tossing them away from their D-Boards. Dr. Genome confronted "Playmaker", who revealed himself to be Gore. The latter stated he came to save Makoto, and knew Playmaker's identity, which displeased Yusaku and Kolter. Yusaku did not know if Gore really knew his identity, but was still frustrated. The group watched as Dr. Genome activated the Data Gale, conjuring black tornadoes for the Speed Duel.[29]

Yusaku, Kolter and Ai watched Gore confronting Dr. Genome. Since Gore claimed to have known Playmaker's identity, Kolter remembered Yusaku did run into Gore at the hospital, but Yusaku claimed it was impossible. Once Gore equipped himself with a mask and declared himself as "Dark Onizuka", Ai thought that was a tacky thing to do. Yusaku and Kolter realized Gore changed his battling style to a heel, and would not hold back. Ai was surprised to see Gore actually had his "Gouki Riscorpio" attack "Helixx Marmotroll", causing the former to be destroyed, since it had less ATK. However, Ai noticed this was to have Gore gain an advantage, as 500 LP was inflicted on Genome, and Yusaku added that was how a heel fights. Ai noticed Gore started using his brain to win, while Yusaku noted Gore still wanted to win, in his own way. Just as Gore was to win, Genome played "Regeneration Cure" to stop the damage, and everyone saw Genome had the advantage. As Genome tributed "Helixx Necro Darwin" to defeat Gore, Yusaku became displeased. Ai suggested he could enter LINK VRAINS to save Gore. Yusaku who saw Gore barely saving himself with the effect of "Gouki Octostretch", decided to take Ai's advice.[30]

Yusaku and Ai logged into LINK VRAINS and Playmaker motivated Gore in a sarcastic manner, which made him to defeat Genome. After Gore defeated Genome, he then approached Playmaker and realize that Playmaker didn't come to mock him. Instead, he came to motivate him but Playmaker didn't give a straight answer. Gore then told him that he wanted to team up with Playmaker and defeat Hanoi. They saw Blue Angel, and Gore also offered her to join forces with them. The next day Yusaku didn't go to school and teamed up with Go, defeating various Knights of Hanoi. After defeating another knight, Playmaker and Ai then interrogated him about the removal program that can cure the victims of Another. However, before the knight could explain, he was erased by someone. Gore then asked him about Blue Angel's whereabouts, but Playmaker didn't know where she was, and remembered she left all of a sudden. The two then discussed about the creator of removal program. Sometime later Yusaku, Ai and Kolter then watched Kitamura making a public announcement that he developed an army of AI Duelists to confront the Knights of Hanoi.[31]

At the van, Kolter analyzed that if the Knights of Hanoi took over LINK VRAINS, they'd soon find Playmaker. Yusaku believed they could prevent that by looking into the origins of Anothers virus. The next day, at the van, Kolter woke Yusaku up, reminding he had to go to school, and promised he'd continue working. After Yusaku returned, Kolter found nothing new. Yusaku let Kolter rest, who went to cook some fries and cheese dogs. Yusaku and Kolter ate the food, and watched Blue Angel confronting Baira. Ai noted Blue Angel was cornered, but Yusaku shushed him, since they were still working. Kolter and Yusaku analyzed the videos, and the latter saw Baira behind one of the Anothers victims.[32] Yusaku and Kolter then hacked into Baira's profile and found out her real identity as Kyoko Taki, a doctor who works at Den Hospital and they were able to find out her home address. Yusaku then went into her apartment and Ai warned him it could be Hanoi's headquarter as he went inside. He was greeted by a security guard robot, who asked him whom did he want to visit. Yusaku remained silent as Ai told him to say something before becoming suspicious: the robot then threatened him if he doesn't answer he would be held under suspicion. When Kolter took control of the guard and guided him to Kyoto's room, Yusaku found her in LINK VRAINS and watched Blue Angel defeat her. He and Kolter also witnessed the victims of Another getting cured and logging out of LINK VRAINS. As Baira suddenly disappeared, they thought she logged out and decided to interrogate her about the removal program but witnessed her getting purged by Varis.[33]

Despite Another victims being purged from the virus, Yusaku was still worried, since he only fought the Knights of Hanoi inside LINK VRAINS, and Kolter confirmed one last mastermind left to be fought against. The next day, Yusaku spoke with Naoki, who wished to battle the Knights of Hanoi alongside Playmaker and Blue Angel. Naoki pointed out the Duel Club forbade entering LINK VRAINS. Yusaku warned him there was a website with the list of Anothers, and since Naoki had no plan, he would instantly fail. Yusaku also sensed fear inside Naoki and felt he'd ask Yusaku to join him. Naoki was furious and stormed out, and Ai noted Yusaku went too far on him. When Yusaku came to the van, Kolter showed him someone has played his "Cyberse Wizard". Kolter identified him as Lonely Brave, which Ai thought as a cool name. When Yusaku showed his "Cyberse Wizard", Ai touched it and sensed the data from the card was missing. Ai thought Lonely Brave was the mastermind, and defeated the Knight of Hanoi to lure Playmaker out. They soon found Naoki was Lonely Brave, who changed the name to "Brave Max". Despite this, Yusaku feared Naoki was in danger, should the mastermind find out he used the Cyberse card. Not long after, Yusaku and Kolter found Brave Max, with Faust, the mastermind, who called out to Playmaker to come and Duel him. The former claimed he received "Cyberse Wizard" from Playmaker, which surprised Yusaku. Yusaku went to grab his Duel Disk, but saw it was gone. Ai logged on the screen, and showed he was on the Duel Disk, which Roboppy modified it with a drone. While Yusaku noted the device felt heavier, Ai explained he was searching for Naoki, though the data of "Cyberse Wizard". Yusaku realized Ai even knew this would happen, which offended Ai, seeing Yusaku was even accusing him. Regardless, Ai showed the location, where Naoki was captured. Yusaku called out to him, and Ai returned to the van. Yusaku grabbed the Duel Disk and left Kolter to rescue Naoki, while Yusaku logged in to LINK VRAINS.[34]

Playmaker arrived to LINK VRAINS, and assured Brave Max he'd face Faust. Before he did, Brave Max returned "Cyberse Wizard" to Playmaker. Playmaker placed the card in his Deck, and noted Faust was the final Another mastermind, who stole the data of "Cyberse Wizard" and gave it to Brave Max, to lure him out. Faust did not know what Playmaker was talking about, since he did not do that. Ai assured Playmaker that wasn't important, and only had to defeat Faust. Faust declared his mission was to retrieve Ignis, and used the Data Gale to conjure a stage for their battle. Playmaker noted it was just like during Blue Angel and Gore's Duels, and Ai noted this prevented them from returning home. Playmaker raced with Faust and jumped on their D-Boards to start their Speed Duel. Faust started the Speed Duel with summoning three "Motor Worm Tokens", and Ai sensed Faust was going all-out from the start. Playmaker went to confront Faust's "Motor Worm Spreader Queen", by Link Summoning "Decode Talker". Faust smirked, and protected his queen by destroying the "Motor Worm Token", using "Wormhole Defense". Since the token was destroyed, the queen's ATK fell down, allowing "Cyberse Wizard". Faust was inflicted additional damage, yet revived his queen with "Worm Revival". Playmaker found out Faust wanted him to destroy the queen, as Faust used "Egg Clutch" to turn "Cyberse Wizard" into an Insect monster, thus boosting the queen's ATK. Ai wondered if there was nothing they could do, and repeated this to Playmaker when he ended his turn. Faust played "Motor Worm Gate", to allow his queen to attack directly if Playmaker only controlled Insect monsters. Ai pointed out they still had Cyberse "Decode Talker", which his queen destroyed, inflicting 1700 damage to Playmaker. Faust used his Skill, Double Bite, to have the queen attack once more and finish Playmaker off.[35]

Playmaker takes out Powercode Talker

Playmaker goes through the Data Gale, using Storm Access Skill.

Playmaker barely survived with 50 LP and crashing into a building, by halving the damage with "Urgent Link". Despite this, Playmaker told Ai it was still enough to battle. He also went to Link Summon, but Faust's "Wormhole Defense" prevented the Insect tokens to be used as Link Material. Faust declared he would obtain Ignis on his next turn, but Playmaker hoped there was still a way to turn things around. He used "Cybersal Cyclone" to banish "Decode Talker" to destroy the queen, though Faust had a token destroyed in her stead. Playmaker smiled, since the card he played allowed him to destroy "Wormhole Defense". Faust declared he still wouldn't lose, though Playmaker made him doubt his words when he went into the black Data Storm to use Storm Access skill, and Link Summoned that monster, "Powercode Talker". Reviving his "Space Insulator", Playmaker also negated the queen's effects, thus making her ATK return to 1000. Before Playmaker went to attack, Faust tried to warn him of Ignis being a threat. Ai told Playmaker to ignore Faust - "Powercode Talker", who doubled its ATK by tributing "Space Insulator", destroyed "Motor Worm Spreader Queen", and defeated Faust. Before vanishing, Faust tried to warn Playmaker he may have just doomed the humanity's future. Playmaker repeated Faust's final words, though Ai didn't know anything of that. Before logging out, Playmaker told "Brave Max" he should seek his own path out, if he was brave enough. Yusaku, who logged out, came to Naoki, who was actually released when Faust lost the Duel, at the warehouse district. Naoki was glad to see Yusaku came to rescue him, and told about Playmaker's ordeals. While Naoki continued talking, Yusaku concluded Faust didn't want Naoki to be turned into an Another. He also thought Ai could've been the one that sent "Cyberse Wizard" to Naoki, believing the Ignis put him in danger.[35]

Since Yusaku felt uneasy, he could not sleep and went to Kolter's van. Ai smiled at Yusaku, thinking how cute he was, but Yusaku ordered him to be quiet. Regardless, he also agreed with Yusaku something bad would soon begin, as Yusaku believed Varis would make his move soon.[35] Yusaku and Ai, in real life, sensed something wrong in LINK VRAINS. Later, after Kolter served a customer, Yusaku noted that the Knights of Hanoi have been purged from LINK VRAINS. Kolter noted Anothers' incident has been resolved, but also reminded Varis was still out there. Ai thought Varis had retreated, but Yusaku doubted that. Instead, Yusaku questioned why Varis didn't make an appearance, thinking he had a reason to do so. Suddenly, Yusaku and Ai felt a pulse within LINK VRAINS, and the latter noted Yusaku had Link Sense. Yusaku asked Kolter to scan through the network. Kolter worked on scanning, and just as Yusaku and Ai sensed another pulse, Kolter saw the LINK VRAINS infrastructure was changing. Yusaku decided to visit LINK VRAINS, even if Ai felt a bad omen ahead. Yusaku noted Varis acted always in public, but this wasn't the case recently. Yusaku promised to find him, and sensed something big would happen soon. Inside LINK VRAINS, Playmaker rode the Data Wind. Ai tried to convince Playmaker things would go bad and they should return home, but Playmaker was focused on finding the cause. Once again, they sensed the pulse coming from the network. Finding some data fireflies, Playmaker traced them to a spot. As the data fireflies stopped, Ai thought they were taking a break. The two were visited by Ghost Gal, who wasn't particularly pleased Ai and Playmaker were present, too.[36]

Playmaker runs in sewers

Playmaker runs away from the data giant.

Ghost Gal admitted the data fireflies lead her to treasure, and were reliable, too. Playmaker warned her the path ahead was dangerous, and advised her to log out. Ghost Gal thought Playmaker would steal her treasure, explaining the greater the danger, the greater the reward. The data fireflies opened a path, though which Ghost Gal entered, and Playmaker joined in, too. The two walked in a data sewer, through which many unimportant data flew to a reprocessing plant. Playmaker was surprised Ghost Gal knew of this, who explained she was a treasure hunter that visited many virtual worlds. Finding a fork in the path, Ghost Gal saw her data fireflies went to the path on the right. Ai thought they could settle this with a game, which amused Ghost Gal, who credited the AI. Ai explained he had a name, and Ghost Gal thought his name was just a pun. Finding a fork in the path, Ghost Gal saw her data fireflies went to the path on the right. Ai thought they could settle this with a game, which amused Ghost Gal, who credited the AI. Since Ai chose a wrong card, Ghost Gal declared herself as the victor and let Playmaker go on the left path. Ai was displeased he chose "Fake Trap", but Playmaker knew that Ghost Gal cheated, by using a Deck filled with bad cards. Ai was even more depressed he was cheated off once more, but Playmaker reminded the importance of their mission, and continued on. They were ambushed by a data giant, who went after them, making Ai even panic.[36]

Playmaker continued running away from the data giant, and Ai told him to run faster. The two ran to a dead end, and just as the data giant went to attack them, it disappeared in a veil of light. Ai was glad they were saved, while Playmaker noticed another abnormality. Playmaker jumped in the crack, and Ai noticed that was the path that Ghost Gal took. They came to the light, where they saw Ghost Gal and Varis facing each other off. The two watched as Ghost Gal was defeated by Varis' "Topologic Trisbaena". Playmaker swore to save her, but Ghost Gal claimed she was too pathetic for a professional. Instead, she gave Playmaker the data she acquired. Ghost Gal glowed with a red light, and started vanishing. She warned Playmaker of Varis and his new card before disappearing. Ai and Playmaker were terrified, and were soon visited by Varis behind bars. Varis confronted Playmaker, who demanded to know about Ghost Gal's whereabouts. Varis simply proclaimed she became a foundation for the Tower of Hanoi, which was activated. He stated should Playmaker wish to stop it, he'd have to confront him. With the purplish sphere emitting tentacles that destroyed the place, Varis jumped away. Playmaker yelled at Varis, while Ai pointed out the place was collapsing, and they swore to protect Ghost Gal's data. Playmaker ignored Ai, who forced Playmaker to log out and joined Kolter, and watched hundreds of tentacles wrapped a beam that was shot in the sky and destroyed LINK VRAINS' cyberspace.[37]

Yusaku, Kolter, and Ai watched as the tower appeared in LINK VRAINS, causing the cyberspace to be absorbed. Since Yusaku obtained Ghost Gal's data, Kolter promised to look into it. Ai noticed the avatars were being absorbed, and not just buildings or roads - Yusaku knew this was Varis' doing. Kolter analyzed Ghost Gal's data, showing the Tower of Hanoi. Yusaku remembered Varis' words, and deduced if the Hanoi's game was over, the world would be destroyed. Kolter continued analyzing the data, seeing the link between the top, where the LINK VRAINS network was, with the underground erasing system, with the center being the core of the latter system. Ai was shocked, seeing how much data has been absorbed, as Kolter noted that speed has not decreased. Kolter counted six rings would be crafted from this system, one per each passing hour. He realized that once every ring is crafted, a pulse would be sent with high-density data, affecting every machine or program - every piece of technology existing in the world would cease function, as if the world has no computers at all. Ai thought it was safe as long as they did not enter the network, but Yusaku was certain Varis thought of that, and made something that would still erase Ai. Kolter continued his analysis, seeing even devices not connected to the network would also be affected, as an electromagnetic pulse would be sent out, even to erase Ai. While Ai was frustrated, Kolter was overwhelmed, knowing Varis made all of this just to erase an Ignis. The trio watched Kitamura - Akira's successor in SOL Technologies - battling a Knight of Hanoi, named Specter. They saw how Specter erased Kitamura, and the former threatened to do this to anyone that dared entering LINK VRAINS. Yusaku swore to stop the Knights of Hanoi, by shutting down the core. Kolter warned him there were no Data Storms in LINK VRAINS, except near that tower.[38]

This did not stop Yusaku, who wished to end this feud with Varis, and logged in LINK VRAINS. He quickly met up with Gore and Blue Angel, the latter explaining she was fighting for everyone, as those people look up to her. Gore exclaimed the same, since he was the hero that needed to protect LINK VRAINS. Ai noted how full of energy Gore was. Gore noted that was the Ignis, who yelled out he had a name, Ai. Playmaker explained he came to stop the Tower of Hanoi, rescue Ghost Gal and confront the mastermind, Varis. Blue Angel was shocked to hear Ghost Gal vanished, too, at the hands of Varis. Gore asked about the data Ghost Gal gave to Playmaker, who reported Varis intended to destroy LINK VRAINS, using the tower. Blue Angel realized if the network would be destroyed, then all the people absorbed would be destroyed, too, hence why Playmaker exclaimed the importance of stopping the tower's completion, and Ai added it would prevent him from being erased. Gore asked how to stop the tower, and was told Varis had to be defeated. Ai warned the time limit was six hours before the tower was completed. Gore and Blue Angel promised to go there, but Playmaker replied it was better if they stayed home, in safety. This actually motivated Gore and Blue Angel to protect the children and the absorbed people, including Ghost Gal. Playmaker did not care, but asked of them to be careful. He reminded them one of them had to defeat Varis, who, according to Ghost Gal, wielded a powerful card. The trio promised to meet up and went in different directions.[38]

The whirlwind

Playmaker looks at the whirlwind from afar.

Playmaker continued his way towards the Tower of Hanoi. A kid confronted the frog and pigeon when a building started collapsing. Playmaker saved the kid, and asked him to log out while he would protect LINK VRAINS. The kid did so, stating he believed in Playmaker. Ai noted Playmaker wanted to do something cool, but the latter silenced it.[39] Ai counted five hours left before the Tower of Hanoi was completed. He was not amused by this game, which Playmaker swore to end by defeating Varis. Ai cheered Playmaker, for he bears that name for such purposes. When Blue Angel was defeated, Playmaker and Ai saw a whirlwind from afar.[40] Playmaker and Ai continued on towards the Tower of Hanoi, as the surroundings continued to be absorbed as data into the tower itself. Playmaker continued running, and went to the bridge, which also started to vanish, as Ai noted they had to cross it to get to the tower. Ai thought of conjuring a Data Storm, but Playmaker asked him not to do that, since the tower would continue absorbing that data, too, which would hasten the tower's completion. On their way, the two faced Specter, who came out of a portal. Specter introduced himself, and explained he would not let them pass through. He told these were Varis' orders, and they would be crushed, too, like Blue Angel was, which shocked Ai and Playmaker. Specter informed them he defeated her without even having to use his full strength.[41]

Specter confirmed he did defeat Blue Angel, but he remembered she spoke something about "blue love", which Ai did not understand about. Specter showed them bits of data of Blue Angel, stating she had no power to save him, and promised the same fate would befall Playmaker. When the Duel started, Specter again began by using "Sunseed Genus Loci" to Link Summon "Sunavalon Dryas", and setting a card. Playmaker remembered Blue Angel's tactics were about burning effect damage, and knowing he defeated her quickly, Ai proclaimed he was very dangerous, too. However, Ai noticed Specter's monster did not look very offensive. Playmaker asked Specter why does he fight, but Specter claimed he fought for Varis. Playmaker tried to persuade Specter to step down, if he did not know about Varis' mastermind plan. Specter replied he knew that the data around the world would be destroyed, but he nevertheless would stand by Varis. Playmaker claimed Specter did not understand Varis, whose plans have been continuing since ten years ago, in an incident many people were harmed. He claimed an outsider like Specter had no reason to be involved in this. Specter claimed he understood the Lost Incident, and was one of the six children that were involved in that event, just like Playmaker was.[41]

Playmaker was surprised, and pointed out the atrocity of the Lost Incident that befell Specter. Specter did not understand, and explained the incident actually entertained him, since he never felt livelier. He explained if one had a happy life before the Lost Incident, the event must've been hard for them. Specter explained he was found by Varis at the site of the Lost Incident, and he gave Specter a place where he could belong, among the Knights of Hanoi. Specter wondered if he was weird, but thought Playmaker was even stranger for his sense of justice. Playmaker reminded due to that incident, time stopped moving for him, but Specter replied it started moving for him since then. Ai noticed Playmaker was distant, and reminded he was nothing alike Specter, and pointed out the tower would continue growing as long as they waste time. Playmaker understood, while Specter dared Playmaker to defeat him. Playmaker Link Summoned "Link Disciple" and "Link Devotee" by linking them. Playmaker tributed "Link Devotee" to draw a card and swap one into his Deck, then Special Summoned two "Link Tokens" and Normal Summoning "Cyberse Gadget", whose effect revived "Latency" from his GY. Using these monsters, Playmaker made three Link Summons: "Binary Sorceress", "Multi Sledgehammer" and "Binary Blader". Since his tree could not be attacked, Specter took the attack of "Binary Sorceress", only to replenish his LP by Special Summoning "Sunvine Gardna". Specter explained the tree protected him when he was a baby, and when the tree was cut down, he began distrusting society, and now served Varis.[41]

Specter proclaimed as long as the tree was on the field, nobody could defeat him. He anticipated Ignis would be erased, along with LINK VRAINS. Playmaker reminded him Specter would be erased, too. Specter counted on that, since he merely wished to fulfill Varis' goal. Playmaker's noted that Specter would sacrifice himself for Varis. Specter merely replied Playmaker would never understand their goals, as long as he chased after revenge. Since Playmaker's attack failed, he had "Binary Sorceress" share half her attack to "Binary Blader", who could attack twice per Battle Phase, as Ai noted Specter would take 2000 LP damage. Specter's "Sunvine Gardna" protected him by reducing that damage by 800, and that damage healed Playmaker, due to "Binary Sorceress'" effect. To speed things up, Specter used "Sunavalon Glorious Growth" to summon a Sunvine Token, and use it with "Sunvine Gardna" to make his tree evolve into "Sunavalon Dryanome", even in the middle of Playmaker's battle. Ai sensed they could be in big trouble, unless Playmaker tried harder. In addition, Specter neutralized Playmaker's efforts by returning the LP count to 4000. Playmaker noticed that is a defense-oriented deck, and Blue Angel must've fallen to Specter's tricks. Specter announced the tree could not be attacked, and Ai knew Specter anticipated these attacks. "Binary Blader" made its second attack, giving Specter 2600 LP damage and replenishing Playmaker's LP by the same amount. Specter repeated his combo, summoning another "Sunvine Gardna", and "Sunavalon Glorious Growth" raised his LP back and lowered Playmaker's LP back to 4000. In an attempt to finish this, Playmaker removed all of the Counters "Multi Sledgehammer" received when other monsters attacked, raising its ATK to 4000.[42]

Ai praised Playmaker, while Specter noted all of these insignificant attacks were just to power up "Multi Sledgehammer" for a final strike. Ai claimed it was a brilliant strategy, but Specter told it was not perfect; "Sunavalon Glorious Growth" redirected the attack to "Sunvine Gardna", who reduced the damage. Once more, Specter summoned a "Sunvine Gardna", regained the LP and made Playmaker's LP back to 4000. Ai realized Specter has the advantage in here, who confirmed these words, for Playmaker was walking towards his defeat. Specter smirked, showing that his tree had no weaknesses. Specter explained they both experienced the Lost Incident. However, Playmaker was obsessed with revenge, while Specter helped Varis in saving the world. The latter pointed the battle was decided from the start. Playmaker doubted that, while Specter told it were moments before Playmaker's defeat. Specter went on offense, reviving "Sunseed Genius Loci" with "Sunvine Shrine" and using it to Link Summon "Sunvine Thrasher". "Sunvine Thrasher", with 3200 ATK, attacked "Binary Blader", who absorbed half the ATK of "Multi Sledgehammer". Specter repeated his combo, just like with Blue Angel's "friends", by taking "Binary Blader" and have it attack Playmaker's monsters. Ai warned Playmaker he was losing, but Playmaker was glad that Specter could no longer use the effect of "Sunavalon Dryanome", for all of the zones its Link Markers were pointing to were occupied, and believed to have a chance at winning the next turn. Ai noted that's why Playmaker has that name.[42]

Specter explained someone said the same thing earlier. He Normal Summoned "Sunseed Genius Loci", and used it with "Sunvine Gardna" to Link Summon "Sunavalon Daphne". Ai and Playmaker realized this just expanded Specter's zones for its effects. "Sunavalon Daphne" sent "Binary Blader" to return the two "Sunvine Gardna" to Specter's Extra Deck. Suddenly, the bridge began to break, as the data was being erased. However, Specter's tree reformed the bridge, letting the Duel continue on. Using "Sunavalon Force", Specter made his tree immune to effects, while Ai reminded Specter could simply summon more "Sunvine" monsters to protect himself. Playmaker made three consecutive Link Summons to bring out "Excode Talker" and "Underclock Taker", preventing Specter from using two Main Monster Zones and reducing the ATK of "Sunshine Thrasher" to 900. Specter was displeased, since he could not use his combo to protect himself, while Ai gloated they would win. Specter snapped his fingers, showing Playmaker that Akira was captured. Specter explained Akira went to rescue his sister, and promised to touch him with the vines, which would corrupt him with a virus. Specter threatened if he were to be injured, the vines would expand and eventually infect Akira. Ai and Playmaker were angry that Specter was cheating and playing dirty, by dragging people that weren't even involved. Specter chuckled, reminding how many people Playmaker actually got involved in this crisis. He noted Blue Angel became a victim, and Akira was captured, too, who told Playmaker not to worry about him.[42]

Ai reminded Playmaker not to listen to this villain. However, Playmaker ended his turn, surprising Ai and Akira. Specter laughed, for he discovered Playmaker's weakness: virtue. He noted Playmaker wanted revenge, but he would not let innocents be hurt. For amidst that revenge, Specter knew Playmaker would think of virtue to keep on fighting, which was what Specter considered weakness. With the ATK of "Sunvine Thrasher" restored, Specter pointed out the "undefeatable" Playmaker would soon experience his first and final defeat. "Sunvine Thrasher" slashed "Underclock Taker", and with "Sunavalon Force", Playmaker's LP were reduced to 900. Ai panicked, as the bridge continued collapsing.[42] Specter lamented that he could not defeat Playmaker, considering the bridge was collapsing. Playmaker smiled, for Specter's efforts did not defeat him. Specter frowned, while Playmaker thought Varis would be disappointed to hear those news. When Playmaker fell, Specter's tree reformed the bridge, just to continue on the Duel. Specter became angry, and promised to finish Playmaker off by ending the Duel. Still, Specter was confident Playmaker could not win, not only because of Specter's combo, but due to Playmaker's sense of justice, which would not let Akira be infected by the virus. Akira yelled out Playmaker should ignore him, else that would make Skye's sacrifice worthless. Specter ended his turn, daring Playmaker to risk Akira by attacking him.[43]

Ai pointed at Specter for cheating and dirty play, who took those words as a compliment. Specter was happy, considering this foul play let him gain the advantage. Playmaker set a card, despite Specter daring him to attack. Specter was slightly disappointed, as was Ai. Specter had "Sunvine Thrasher" attack "Excode Talker", who was protected by Playmaker's "Overload Anchor". Ai claimed they were just getting started, so Specter let his opponent do whatever they wanted. Ai reminded Playmaker about the other effect of "Overload Anchor", which could decrease the ATK of "Sunvine Thrasher", to mount an attack. Playmaker remained silent, which Specter noted he truly was a champion of justice. Ai reminded Playmaker if they lose, the tower would be completed, and everyone would be erased. Specter continued mocking Playmaker, who activated "Link Processing Failure" to stop Specter's Link Monsters from attacking. Specter claimed that was nevertheless a pointless move, and Playmaker could not do anything, unless he attacked. Ai voiced Specter's words, telling him to forget Akira, else the world would be plunged into chaos. Ai named Playmaker as the world's last hope. Specter did not want to watch Ai and Playmaker quarrel, and he Link Summoned the Link-4 "Sunavalon Dryatrentiay". He tributed "Sunavalon Daphne" to destroy Playmaker's Spell and Trap Cards. Next, he revived "Sunseed Genius Loci" and used it to bring out another "Sunvine Thrasher", whose ATK became 4000. Ai became worried, but sighed, hearing that Specter's monsters in Main Monster Zones could not attack the turn he used his tree's effect. Playmaker doubted that, since Specter had a reason to summon that high ATK monster. Specter commended Playmaker for that observation, as his tree attacked and gained ATK, equal to the ATK of the monsters it pointed to.[43]

The tree went to make the finishing move, but Playmaker anticipated this. Using "Link Surge Counter", The ATK of "Excode Talker" became equal to that of "Sunavalon Dryatrentiay", making both monsters destroyed in battle. Specter claimed it was still pointless, for "Sunavalon Force" shaved Playmaker's LP to 50. Ai praised Playmaker for avoiding defeat. Just as Specter went to mock Playmaker's efforts, he saw "Sunavalon Dryatrentiay" falling, and was reminded of the tree he saw cut from his childhood. Without Specter's tree, the cards on his field became destroyed. Playmaker noted it was very difficult to break Specter's combo, until his tree was the one that attacked. Ai started to mock Specter that "his mommy could not protect him". Specter yelled out for his sacred tree, startling Ai and Playmaker. Specter revived the tree with "Sunavalon Cursed Reborn", and while its effects were negated, its ATK became 4000. Ai was scared, while Specter exclaimed due to the effect, any LP damage he would receive would also be taken to Playmaker, assuring that defeat. Ai noted this was why Akira should've been ignored. Kolter completed the code, causing Akira to vanish. However, the trap was too complex, and the attempt failed. Akira reminded the importance of winning, else Skye's sacrifice would've been in vain, and all of this would lead to more victims. He asked for Playmaker's conviction, reminding even with these sacrifices, he has to bear this burden and continue.[43]

Playmaker and Ai fall down

Ai and Playmaker fall down from the bridge.

Akira smiled for a bit, and grasped the vines, taking damage and vanishing. Specter laughed at Akira, for he entrusted the future to a man, who could not win. Playmaker, who became vengeful, made Specter doubt his words, reminding his Dueling always wins, and with Akira gone, his doubts have disappeared. Playmaker Normal Summoned "ROM Cloudia" and revived "Latency", using the latter for Link Summoning of "Talkback Lancer". Tributing "ROM Cloudia", Playmaker resurrected "Excode Talker", and with "Link Atrocity", raised the latter's ATK to 4000, matching that of Specter's tree. Specter noted Playmaker aimed for a mutual destruction, and yelled out his goal was complete, for Playmaker would never reach Varis. Playmaker replied Specter's goal was gone, for "Link Atrocity" caused the tree's ATK was lowered back to 0. With a final slash, "Excode Talker" crushed the tree, causing Specter to fall down in defeat. Specter started shaking, for he could not believe he had lost, thinking he should've let Playmaker fall down the bridge. He didn't expect his loyalty to Varis would backfire, but had no regrets. Playmaker claimed he had no doubts anymore, yet Specter told doubt and regret were two different things. As the bridge continued collapsing, Playmaker and Ai continued towards the tower. However, the bridge collapsed, making the two fall down.[43]

As Playmaker and Ai fell down, the former sensed something. The two were blown up by data. Playmaker wondered about the pulse he sensed, while Ai, who explained he did not create the data, pointed half of the tower was completed. Without further ado, Playmaker continued on to the tower. He met up Pidgeon and Frog, who pointed out someone was Dueling near the Tower of Hanoi. Playmaker suspected Go and Varis were Dueling, and asked Frog and Pidgeon to leave. The two refused, and were surprised Playmaker ignored them and ran off. Playmaker arrived to watch the Duel, and Ai noted Go's toughness. The two watched the Duel, and Ai was terrified to see the effect of "Topologic Bomber Dragon". Ai noticed Go was trying his best and cheered for him, but Playmaker shushed him. Ai was glad to see Varis's dragon was destroyed, and Playmaker noticed Go had an advantage, but was concerned about Varis's confidence. Ai cheered that Go would win with four Link Monsters, but Playmaker realized Varis had a set card.[44] Playmaker continued watching the Duel, noting Varis's tactics of destroying "rokket" monsters to destroy Go's monsters. Ai was nevertheless impressed that Go continued on, despite having no monsters on his field, while Playmaker knew that was something that would not stop Go. Watching the Duel, Playmaker and Ai were glad to see Go stopped Varis's "Magnarokket Dragon" from destroying "Gouki The Giant Ogre". Ai was curious what would Varis do, and Playmaker reminded him about the field, as he'd summon a Link-4 monster. Playmaker and Ai watched as Go was defeated by Varis's "Borrelsword Dragon". Go started disappearing, and told Playmaker this was the best he could do. Playmaker was grateful he was able to learn about Varis's tactics, and Go left him to face Varis before fading away. After Go faded away, Varis reminded Playmaker they were the two last people in LINK VRAINS. Playmaker nodded, for it was time for a final confrontation against Varis.[45]

To stop Varis, Playmaker and his opponent went on their D-Boards to have a Speed Duel around the tower. This displeased Ai, since they were Dueling in a dangerous area. Playmaker reminded Varis about his goal to destroy Ignis, and pointed out he would throw the world into chaos by destroying the network. Varis explained he would not have been forced to do this if Ignis was given him from the start, and would not have anyone stop his plan. Varis promised to destroy Ai, who was feeling unpleasant. Since Varis defeated many people, Playmaker swore to stop him through this Duel. Ai motivated Playmaker, who took the first turn by summoning "Decode Talker". Ai was glad the monster was summoned, though Varis simply smiled. Playmaker used "Stack Reviver" to bring back "Backup Secretary" and boost the ATK of "Decode Talker" for a bit. Ai warned Playmaker about the floating debris, which nearly hit them. Ai was nevertheless enthusiastic, believing that his teamwork with Playmaker would prove no match against Varis. Ai started to practice punching, which made Varis remark what an arrogant AI it was.[4]

Playmaker and lying Ai

Playmaker learns that Ai has been hiding some info from him.

Varis gave Playmaker a question why Ai was running away from the Knights of Hanoi. Ai reminded it was its existence on the stake, while Playmaker remembered Ai had few memories when he first found it. Varis explained Ignis was coded by Dr. Kogami, and since Playmaker could not decode it, he only believed what Ai told him. Varis explained through the data he acquired, Ai still had memories of its past. He claimed that Ignis' ID was "IGN006", an AI linked to the sixth test subject, shaped after Playmaker itself. Varis continued, explaining six test subjects were used for Dueling to create six artificial intelligence units, which was the goal of the Lost Incident project. He told Ai learned through Playmaker's actions; its original goal was to save humanity, but they evolved quickly, to the point of creating the Cyberse World, which Ai hid to protect other Ignises. Varis pointed out Ai, in fact, was misleading Playmaker, lying that it lost its memories. Due to the fact it could lie, Varis branded Ignis as a threat to humanity, and why the Knights of Hanoi were determined to hunt it down. Varis questioned Playmaker would he continue trust Ai, who tried to explain when he saw Playmaker, Ai knew it was the same person he observed during the Lost Incident. However, he claimed he had been trying to escape, and could not trust anyone.[4]

Varis was angry Ai continued lying, but Playmaker reminded this had no bearing on their Duel. Ai feared what would happen to his friendship with Playmaker, who brushed him off, reminding Ai was just a hostage, and felt no friendship towards him. Varis swore to defeat Playmaker and crush Ai, who warned them about another debris. Drawing "Mirror Force", Varis set it and summoned "Spin-Headed Behemoth". Ai pointed out how suspicious it was that Varis summoned a low-ATK monster, but Playmaker shushed him. Playmaker, per Ai's warning, dodged a debris, which scratched a part of his face, which quickly regenerated. Looking at Varis' set card, he remembered Go and Ghost Gal's sacrifices, knowing that card must be "Mirror Force". Thus, his Defense Position "Foal Tolelancer" protected his Attack Position monsters from being destroyed by such cards. Varis showed it, indeed, was "Mirror Force", but "Spin-Headed Behemoth" shifted all of Playmaker's monsters to Attack Position. Without the protection of "Foal Tolelancer", all of Playmaker's monsters were destroyed, too. In addition, Varis Special Summoned "Overflow Dragon" and summoned an "Overflow Token".[4]

Despite the lack of trust, Ai reminded he would be destroyed if Playmaker lost, who simply ignored Ai. Going on offense, Varis Link Summoned "Flash Charge Dragon" and Normal Summoned "Blast Powder Dragon", who boosted the former's ATK by 800. Playmaker took a direct attack, falling to his knees as his LP dropped to 900, which concerned Ai. Ai still reminded Playmaker would be at least down to 100, until Varis' "Blast Powder Dragon" had its ATK doubled. Varis proclaimed Playmaker's doom, as, once more, his dragon attacked him directly.[4] Remembering his promise to his father, Varis' "Blast Powder Dragon" attacked Playmaker directly. Ai feared this would be the end, but Playmaker used "Spool Code" to stop the attack and summon three "Spool Tokens". Varis was nevertheless persistent, using "Flash Charge Dragon" to destroy one Token and inflict 500 LP damage to Playmaker. In order to get out of this predicament, Playmaker Link Summoned "Link Disciple" and "Security Dragon" by linking them. The latter's effect attempted to return "Flash Charge Dragon" to Varis' Extra Deck, who instead tributed "Blast Powder Dragon" to prevent that effect from occurring. Ai was disappointed the strategy failed, and upon counting 400 LP that Playmaker had, realized he could activate his Skill.[46]

Ai and Playmaker teamwork

Ai lends Playmaker help in using Storm Access.

The rubble started hitting Playmaker, as Ai noted that was a dangerous move. Playmaker sensed a lot of density in the Data Storm, and there was no other way to defeat Varis, who thought Playmaker would destroy himself with that move. Playmaker reached his hand into the Data Storm, but was overwhelmed by the energy. However, Ai, who got bigger, reached out to Playmaker, saving him from the fall and regenerated his body. Ai explained this was his secret move he wanted to use in the end, and helped Playmaker get back on his D-Board before minimizing itself into the Duel Disk. Playmaker was surprised about this move, but Ai claimed he would go down with Playmaker, believing he was still its friend. Ai took control of the D-Board and shielded Playmaker, to let him execute his Skill for a limited time, reminding this is his way to atone for not speaking the truth. Playmaker took the card out of the Data Storm, and heard Ai bidding him farewell before disappearing.[46]

With Ai's help, Playmaker took out the Link Monster, "Transcode Talker", which surprised Varis. Playmaker Special Summoned "Decode Talker" next to the Link Marker of "Transcode Talker". Their ATK was further boosted with "Cynet Storm". "Decode Talker" slashed "Flash Charge Dragon", and "Transcode Talker" fired out a blast from its cannon to attack Varis directly. Varis Special Summoned "Chobham Armor Dragon" to protect himself, though he took 1650 LP damage. Playmaker gritted his teeth, as Varis reminded him not to underestimate him. When Varis started his turn, Ai came out of Playmaker's Duel Disk, but became smaller, since he recovered from the damage it took. Varis reminded he still had the same Skill Playmaker has, and remembered with the help of his father, he should succeed in taking out a monster from the Data Storm. He proceeded to use his Skill, but was nearly harmed from the density. Knowing Playmaker succeeded in using the Skill, Varis stuck his hand, only to get harmed by the energy. Varis was taken aback from the damage. He still went to use his Skill, as Playmaker and Ai noted he still wanted to win at any cost.[46]

Suddenly, the Data Storm stopped, as Dr. Kogami appeared to his son, Varis. Dr. Kogami admitted he was not a good father to let his son suffer, who never complained. He explained he didn't want Varis involved in any of this, but reminded without him, the world would be in chaos. While Playmaker and Ai were wondering about Dr. Kogami's words, the latter decided to lend his strength in helping Varis to win, all to protect the humanity. Dr. Kogami's essence passed onto Varis, who noticed a glitter in the Data Storm, much like the light of the Stardust Road. Varis went through the Data Storm and obtained a new Cyberse monster, but noticed Dr. Kogami's heart was damaged. Varis muttered "Stardust Road", which Playmaker heard of. Varis used "Link Recovery" to recover his "Flash Charge Dragon" and let Playmaker draw a card, with the cost of unable of opening the Battle Phase. Varis used his monsters to Link Summon the new monster he obtained, "Topologic Gumblar Dragon". Noticing Dr. Kogami's heart stopped beating, Varis explained he can't continue the Duel. To wrap things up, he summoned "Drop Draco", triggering his "Topologic" dragon's effect to destroy it and every card in Varis' and Playmaker's hands. For each card destroyed, "Drop Dragon" inflicted 300 LP for each card destroyed, thus causing Playmaker and Varis' Duel to end in another DRAW. Playmaker and Varis were blown away, but the former was more worried about his father.[46]

Yusaku and Koulter confront Ryoken

Yusaku and Kolter encounter Varis.

Kolter was shocked at the events. Yusaku managed to get out, although strained, as Ai explained the shockwave made them log out. Shoichi admitted his shock upon seeing Dr. Kogami alive, and explained his son must've logged out, too. Regardless, he reminded the Tower of Hanoi was still active. Ai, knowing he and the others of his kin would be erased, asked of Yusaku to log in. Yusaku claimed that was pointless, for without Varis, the tower would still be active. He asked of Kolter to drive to Varis' place. Yusaku explained Varis mentioned Stardust Road and its phenomenon, and explained that Kolter knew a person living close to it must've seen that phenomenon, making Kolter realize they were near Varis' place. During the sunset, the group came to Varis' house, where they confronted Varis. Varis noted Playmaker has found this place. He already knew Yusaku Fujiki's name, and that of Jin Kusanagi's brother, Kolter. Ai shouted he was present, too, but Varis simply stated "Ignis". Varis introduced himself as Ryoken Kogami. Kolter noted Ryoken was Dr. Kogami's son, but the latter explained his father has just passed away, which made Kolter curse he could not reach to him earlier. Yusaku asked Ryoken, referring to him as Varis, for more information that they had the right to know about. Ryoken confirmed that, so Yusaku asked the reason behind his actions, if the Lost Incident had been about creating Ignis.[7]

Playmaker and Varis atop the tower

Playmaker and Varis stand atop the tower for a final confrontation.

Ryoken explained the story about Kiyoshi creating Ignis, about its goal, their evolution, and the prediction Ignis would become an enemy of the humanity. Ai claimed he was not an enemy, but Ryoken did not trust it. Yusaku pointed out Kiyoshi based his views on simulations, and it had no reason to be true. Thus, he asked Ryoken to turn off the Tower of Hanoi to "walk down a new path". He reminded Ryoken about pointing out the three reasons behind actions was Ryoken's idea he passed onto Yusaku during the project. Yusaku admitted he thought that voice had been trapped by the Knights of Hanoi, and wanted to save him. In a way, Ryoken encouraged Yusaku to step forward, an idea the former found ironic. Regardless, Ryoken refused to turn off the Tower of Hanoi. Ai reminded the sixth level of the tower was to be completed soon, and asked of Yusaku to force Ryoken into LINK VRAINS and stop him. Ryoken admitted he was going back to LINK VRAINS, for the sake of his friends, who believed in Ryoken and his father. Ryoken declared the only way to stop the tower was to defeat him, which made Yusaku hesitate a bit. Without further ado, the two guys logged into LINK VRAINS, to the top of the Tower of Hanoi. Varis admitted he would enjoy Dueling against Playmaker, and the two started their final Duel.[7]

Varis immediately mass-summoned his Dragons to Link Summon "Vorticular Drumgon", and Tributed it for "Link Coin". Ai wondered if that was a move worth using, until he saw Varis picked "Mirror Force" from his Deck. Playmaker summoned "Linkslayer" and sent a card from his hand to destroy "Mirror Force". Varis smirked, for the card was actually "Mirror Force Launcher", which allowed Varis to set that card back and "Mirror Force", too. Ai sensed Varis researched Playmaker's Deck thoroughly to have anticipated this move. Playmaker Link Summoned "Restoration Point Guard", a move Ai questioned, due to "Mirror Force". Playmaker proceeded to Link Summon "Excode Talker", and have it attack directly, ignoring Ai's warnings. Varis activated "Mirror Force" to destroy the attacking monster. In return, Playmaker used the monster's Link Material, "Restoration Point Guard", to Special Summon it on the field and attack Varis directly. The attack pushed Varis away to 3000 LP. Regardless, Varis was amused, knowing he would enjoy this Duel with a worthy opponent.[7] Ai counted less than an hour before the tower was finished, and Playmaker agreed with him that the tower had to be stopped. Varis summoned "Sniffer Dragon", and with Link-3 "Vorticular Drumgon", Ai and Playmaker predicted Varis would summon a Link-4 monster. Varis did that, by Link Summoning "Topologic Bomber Dragon". To get rid of Playmaker's "Restoration Point Guard", Varis revived "Metalrokket Dragon" with "Borrel Regenerator", Special Summoning the said monster to a Zone "Topologic Bomber Dragon" pointed to destroy all Main Monster Zone monsters.[47]

Much to Varis' shock, "Restoration Point Guard" was protected from being destroyed once Varis Link Summoned his dragon. The latter attacked Playmaker's monster, but Playmaker sent "Rescue Interlacer" to receive no damage. Regardless, Varis succeeded in giving Playmaker damage equal to the ATK of "Restoration Point Guard", 1000, thus making their LP even. Ai was grateful Playmaker managed to minimize the damage, but Varis used "Mirror Force Launcher" to take the "Mirror Force" from his GY. Playmaker admitted Varis made a powerful combo, but noticed a way to break through. He Link Summoned "Transcode Talker" and brought back his "Excode Talker". Varis' dragon's effect was triggered to destroy all Main Monster Zone monsters, but Playmaker played "Shield Handler" to stop Varis' dragon's destructive effect from occurring. Varis was greatly impressed that Playmaker managed to power-up his monsters and protect them from being destroyed. Ai announced an attack from "Transcode Talker", but Playmaker stopped him, for he Link Summoned his third Link Monster, "Powercode Talker". Ai was happy, and believed Playmaker had a chance at winning. The latter attacked and destroyed Varis' "Magnarokket Dragon". Just as "Transcode Talker" went to attack "Topologic Bomber Dragon", Varis played "Link Turret", which prevented his dragon's destruction. Varis took 300 LP damage, and with "Link Turret", he got five counters.[47]

While Varis summoned "Autorokket Dragon", Ai was concerned about those five counters. Varis noticed the two realized what would happen next, and claimed he fooled Playmaker into his strategy. He revived his "Shelrokket Dragon" and "Metalrokket Dragon" to Link Summon "Miniborrel Dragon". Combined with "Sniffer Dragon" and "Gateway Dragon", Varis Link Summoned his second ace dragon, "Borreload Dragon". Ai was smug, since they had a monster with a higher ATK. Playmaker saw Ai forgot about that dragon's effect. "Borreload Dragon" lowered the ATK of "Powercode Talker" and took control of "Transcode Talker". Ai grasped his head, remembering the terrifying effect once more. "Topologic Bomber Dragon", powered up by "Transcode Talker", destroyed "Excode Talker", and "Powercode Talker" fell to the same fate by "Transcode Talker", too. Playmaker fell to his knees with 800 LP left, while Varis told Playmaker there was no new path for him. He reminded they were still chained to their past from ten years ago, and were prisoners of destiny. Thus, Varis promised he would sever that link.[47]

Playmaker gasped, and Ai was sad their defense was broken so easily. Varis swore to crush them and fulfill his father's wishes. Thus, he promised to show something that was incomprehensible in the Duel. He tributed Playmaker's "Transcode Talker" he took control of to summon "Miniborrel Dragon", and used "Link Turret" to revive his "rokket" monsters from his GY. Ai noted Varis could summon five "rokket Dragons", but believed that was just a preparation for his next turn. Varis laughed Ai off, as Playmaker sensed Varis intended to finish them off in his current turn. Ai doubted that, since Varis used up his Battle Phase. Varis used his "Shelrokket", "Metalrokket" and "Miniborrel Dragon" to Link Summon another Link-4 monster, "Borrelguard Dragon". Ai panicked, since they never faced this "friend" of the "Borreload Dragon". Using the latter's effect, Varis took control of the monster he destroyed in battle, "Powercode Talker". Repeating his tactic, he used the same dragons to Link Summon "Borrelsword Dragon". Varis even thanked Playmaker for the opportunity, since he did trigger the effect of "Topologic Bomber Dragon" to let Varis set the scene up.[48]

Varis sent "Mirror Force", through the effect of "Borrelguard Dragon", to revive "Excode Talker". Ai was surprised Varis would get rid of his ace card, but Playmaker realized Varis wanted to summon something else. By removing the final counter from "Link Turret" to revive "Anesthrokket Dragon", Varis performed a fifth Link Summon. With his Extra Monster Zone co-linked to the Main Monster Zones, Varis made a final co-link by Link Summoning "Topologic Gumblar Dragon" to the other Extra Monster Zone, thus forming the Extra Link with five Link-4 dragons. With "Topologic Gumblar Dragon" being Extra Linked, Varis had it destroy Playmaker's cards and inflict 3000 LP damage that could not be negated. Ai screamed at this effect, as Varis proclaimed Playmaker's end, as the dragon attacked. Much to Varis' frustration, Playmaker used "Drop Frame Wedge", which quartered the damage. Playmaker took 750 LP damage, and survived with only 50 LP left. Varis called that a desperate move, considering his monsters could not attack, and if the card would be destroyed, so would be his monsters, too.[48]

Varis reminded Playmaker that the latter said Varis saved his life, by offering him advice on thinking of three reasons to continue fighting. Varis pointed out when four turns would be over, he'd annihilate Playmaker, and any attempts the latter would make would be countered. He also reminded the tower would be completed soon and destroy all data. Playmaker was nevertheless hurt, and fell down to exhaustion. Ai reminded Playmaker this is not a Duel he could lose, for Ai had friends and home he would wish to return, instead of being destroyed. Playmaker muttered "friends", and asked about Cyberse World, which Ai described as his homeland. Ai admitted he did use Playmaker, but only to return to that world. He also reminded Playmaker had friends to protect. Ai's words had gotten to Playmaker as he looked up at Varis before swearing he also had things to do and barely standing up. Varis called Playmaker stubborn, and undervalued his efforts since he had few LP left and no cards in his hand. Ai pointed out they could not attack, but was reminded Playmaker could take a severe blow from "Topologic Gumblar Dragon" if he kept a card in his hand.[48]

Playmaker laughs

Playmaker starts laughing about the impeding danger.

Playmaker set his card. Varis, however, summoned "Autorokket Dragon", which filled up his Main Monster Zones. He had "Autorokket Dragon" targeted by the effect "Borreload Dragon", destroying to destroy Playmaker's set card. Varis fulfilled his promise to seal away their moves. Playmaker thought it was still a miracle he and Ai were still standing, and confirmed they had to do something, lest they lose. Ai noticed Playmaker was laughing, who thought of nothing else but that to do in their current predicament. He used "Arrow Change" to draw two cards. Ai started to pray for good cards, even if he was reminded by Playmaker that AI-s do not pray. Using "Disconnect Linker", Playmaker took back "Restoration Point Guard" and used it to summon "Secure Gardna" to protect himself, and prevent Varis' "Topologic" dragons in Extra Monster Zones from attacking. Upon destruction of "Drop Frame Wedge", it briefly rained in LINK VRAINS. Varis smirked, for he was able to attack from then on. Despite Varis having seven monsters, Playmaker dared him to take his turn.[48]

Varis knew already that "Secure Gardna" could prevent damage to Playmaker once. Ai shouted they knew that, so Varis saw Playmaker was counting on something else. Playmaker exclaimed it was his determination to defeat Varis once and for all. Varis applauded him for that, since that was what made him a rival, hence why he'd use all his strength, too. Varis made his offense, by having "Borreload Dragon" target "Secure Gardna", for even if its ATK decreasing effect would not work, it was to prevent Playmaker from activating his set card. Ai was agitated of Varis' tactics. "Secure Gardna" protected Playmaker's LP, and Playmaker banished "Protection Wizard" to negate his monster's destruction. Varis' "Borrelsword Dragon" switched the position of "Magnarokket Dragon" to destroy "Anesthrokket Dragon", so it could attack twice. Playmaker swtiched to defense, by banishing "Cluster Congester" and "Secure Gardna" to fill his entire field with "Congester Tokens", which could inflict 1500 LP damage on Varis if he did not stop them. Varis destroyed a Token, and dared Playmaker to show his Set card. Much to his dismay, Playmaker's "Transaction Rollback" copied the effect of "Mirror Force".[49]

Varis thought this could've been the case, hence why his Extra Linked "Topologic Gumblar Dragon" stopped his dragons from being destroyed. His dragons destroyed all of Playmaker's Tokens, leaving Playmaker with no cards left on the field. Ai felt tense because of that, but denied he would give up. Playmaker admitted he could not give up, either, but Ai ordered him to stop smiling and become serious, like he always was. Playmaker swore to do so, and bet his victory, his fate of the incident, and the safety of the world on the final draw. Varis commended Playmaker for stopping his attacks, but claimed he had no chance at winning against his Extra Link. Instead, he ordered Playmaker to give up, since the outcome was clear. Playmaker replied he was always alone, and even if he wanted to change his path, he was unable to; the incident tainted his heart, surrounding it with emptiness. Varis had no idea what Playmaker was talking about, who pointed out Varis lived in the same world he did. He also felt compassion towards Playmaker, and went to save him by giving him the advice of three points. Ai believed Playmaker wanted to become Varis' friend, and that would mean Ai would have to befriend his enemy.[49]

Playmaker confirmed this, shocking Ai. Varis laughed, believing this was a way Playmaker begged for his life. The latter denied this, since he found a circuit of victory. Varis questioned Playmaker's words, who firmly believed he could win with the card in his hand. He reminded Varis stated they were prisoners of destiny, without a new path. Standing now, Playmaker believed there actually was a new path. Varis dared Playmaker to show that, who exclaimed his revenge was over, he would soon overcome the darkness left in his heart, and promised the two of them will start anew. Halving his LP to 13, Playmaker banished "Transaction Rollback" to trigger "Recoded Alive" to bring out "Encode Talker", by banishing "Transcode Talker". Varis' "Topologic Gumblar Dragon" destroyed cards in their hands, but Playmaker anticipated this, since "Spam Mail" let him draw a card and return one of Varis' dragons to his hand: the chosen was "Autorokket Dragon". Using "Recoded Alive", Playmaker brought out the banished "Transcode Talker", who summoned "Powercode Talker" back. Finally, using "Encode Talker" and "Swap Cleric", Playmaker Link Summoned "Firewall Dragon".[49]


Playmaker saved LINK VRAINS, again.

With three of his monsters co-linked, too, Playmaker expanded the Extra Link. Since "Swap Cleric" was used as Link Material, Playmaker drew his final card - "Zero Extra Link", which boosted the ATK of "Transcode Talker", equal to the number of co-liked monsters times 800. Varis attempted to stop Playmaker with "Link Short", preventing his co-linked monsters from attacking. With a final trick up his sleeve, Playmaker used his Link Monsters to summon "Decode Talker", who was unaffected by Varis' Trap Card. Varis questioned this tactic, since "Decode Talker" still had less ATK. Due to "Zero Extra Link", the ATK increase of "Transcode Talker" was passed onto "Decode Talker". Swinging its mighty sword, "Decode Talker" slashed "Borreload Dragon" and defeated Varis. Varis fell down, and struggled to raise up. Per the agreement, he promised to stop the tower, but, like during the outcome of his previous Master Duel, swore he would not quit his mission, as long as Ignis remained a threat to the world. The Tower of Hanoi stopped, and Playmaker watched as the data the tower collected was releasing. Varis / Ryoken logged out, and Shoichi and Playmaker saw him as he sailed away on his boat. Yusaku knew he'd face Varis someday, since he promised to fulfill his destiny.[49]

Yusaku sees Ai gone

Yusaku sees Ai has gone home.

Later, Yusaku and Ai watched the phenomeon of Stardust Road. Yusaku used his program on his Duel Disk, and set Ai free. Ai was surprised, but was reminded since the Hanoi threat is gone, he was free to go; his role as the hostage was over. Ai thought a bit, and said "one man's fault is another's lesson!" Yusaku was amused by these wise words, and let Ai go, but reminded him to leave his Duel Disk. Ai nodded, bidded Yusaku farewell and vanished. Yusaku took his Duel Disk and grabbed his bag, telling Kolter Ai went home. As for Yusaku, he wanted to go home alone, and stood for a bit to look at the sea.[49] Takeru Homura read the news made by the pigeon and frog about LINK VRAINS' heroes - Playmaker, The Gore and Blue Angel[50] - which motivated him to join and fight, too.[51][52]

Lost Memories

Three months after the Knights of Hanoi were defeated, Yusaku was working in Kolter's food truck, struggling to cook food when he was visited by Skye. Despite teasing him that his frustrated look could scare customers away, she thanked him for finding her when she was unconscious, to which he modestly brushed it off, believing anyone would have done the same. Skye asked for some coffee and a hot dog, though she expressed her doubt that Yusaku would get more customers that day. Later on, he was contacted by Kolter, who reported that an orange figure had assaulted Jin and demanded Yusaku to capture him. Yusaku logged into the new LINK VRAINS as Playmaker, and rode a new D-Board Kolter made for him, surprising everyone in the cyberspace with his arrival. Confronted by the bounter hunter, Blood Shepherd, Playmaker replied he didn't have an Ignis anymore, before noticing Ai's return to his Duel Disk with "Linkuriboh". Ai started to explain why he returned, but Playmaker silenced him, since he was more focused on Jin's assailant, the orange figure.[53]

After Ai summoned a Data Storm that forced Blood Shepherd to log out, Playmaker caught up to the orange figure with the intention of defeating him, believing he had a chance at a trade and restoring Jin's consciousness. Ai showed "Linkuriboh", which Playmaker placed in his Extra Deck for being a good card. Initiating the Speed Duel, Playmaker immediately Link Summoned "Linkuriboh", as well as "Elphase", who attacked the orange figure. Ai wondered if this would be an easy victory. When the figure summoned "Hydradrive Booster", Ai and Playmaker sensed something. Playmaker knew the monster the figure played was a "Cyberse" monster, which made Ai wonder if the figure was connected to the attack on Cyberse World. Playmaker was shocked at these news, but Ai nevertheless wanted the orange figure to be defeated. The figure summoned "Flow Hydradrive", and activated a Link Spell. The mention of Link Spell astounded Ai and Playmaker, having never heard of that. The figure used "Judgement Arrows", and its Link Marker allowed him to summon another "Flow Hydradrive" next to that spell. "Flow Hydradrive" attacked Playmaker directly, and its ATK was doubled through "Judgement Arrows". Playmaker, with 2000 LP left, went to receive the other the attack of the other "Flow Hydradrive".[53]

Playmaker avoided the defeat by tributing "Linkuriboh", thus causing the ATK of "Flow Hydradrive" to become 0. Ai petted "Linkuriboh" for saving them, and let it return to Playmaker's Deck. Playmaker demanded answers from the orange figure, who remained silent at the questions about Link Spell and Cyberse monsters. Ai reminded the figure could do anything, and braced Playmaker to defeat him quickly. Playmaker summoned "Cyberse Witch", and with the effect of "Elphase", summoned back "Defcon Bird" to trigger the witch's effect. Ai pretended to perform witchcraft, as Playmaker conducted a Ritual Summon, using "Cynet Ritual" to tribute "Cyberse Wizard" and "Defcon Bird" to bring out "Cyberse Magician". To avoid defeat, the figure doubled the ATK of one of his "Flow Hydradrive", and tributed the other for "Property Spray" to regain LP. The figure took 1500 LP damage, and its glow started disappearing. Playmaker questioned the man's name, who held his head and shouted out "Who am I?" He even asked why was he Dueling them, but was reminded by Ai that he attacked Jin and they were to bring him to justice. The man was surprised, since he would not do such a thing. Playmaker saw the man forgot what he did, and Ai believed he just had an amnesia from the attack. The man was reminded by his younger brother his name was Bohman and he was Dueling to restore their memories.[54]

Bohman revised his situation, and continued Dueling, by summoning two "Hydradrive Tokens". Ai was uncertain what he'd do with Bohman, but Playmaker reminded they still needed to defeat him, due to Jin being attacked. Bohman continued on, summoning two WATER "Coolant Hydradrive" Link Monsters. Tributing one for "Property Spray", Bohman regained LP and changed Playmaker's monsters to WATER Attribute, thus letting his other "Coolant Hydradrive" attack him directly. Ai trembled in fear, but "Cyberse Magician" halved that damage. To protect himself, Bohman summoned "Covered Hydrarive" to counter battle damage. Ai hoped Bohman would be easy to defeat, even if he said he fought to regain his memories. To mount an attack, Playmaker asked Ai to do "that thing". Ai became happy, and called upon the Data Storm to let Playmaker use Storm Access, taking out a Cyberse Link Monster for his victory. Setting the scene, Playmaker used "Recovery Sorcerer" and "Linkuriboh" to bring out "Shootingcode Talker" he recently obtained. Since Playmaker could attack with only one monster, "Shootingcode Talker" gained two additional attacks. "Shootingcode Talker" shot out Bohman's "Hydradrive" monsters, dropping Bohman's LP to 0. Bohman fell down, and crashed to the ground.[54]

Playmaker went to interrogate him, while Ai started consuming his data. However, upon chewing on Bohman's hand, Ai staggered and withdrew. Playmaker was surprised about that, and even more when Bohman's younger brother, Haru, grabbed Bohman and fled. Haru summoned Bit and Boot to take care of Playmaker. However, in a fiery whirlwind, a mysterious person appeared, who let Playmaker chase after Haru as he went to deal with Bit and Boot.[54] Haru carried Bohman, and fired Bit and Boot, who argued who lost the Duel against Soulburner. Playmaker tried to stop him, but Haru reminded that Jin Kusanagi's data was theirs. Playmaker wanted to know the reason behind this assault, but Haru simply said something unbelievable would happen soon. He opened a path in the restricted area and escaped with Bohman. Playmaker tried to went after him, but the barrier stopped him. Soulburner met up with Playmaker, but was worried when Haru fled with Bohman behind the restricted area. Before Soulburner logged out, he introduced himself to Playmaker.[55]

Yusaku debugged Ai, restoring it back, since it ate the bad program. Yusaku nevertheless reminded it was gluttonous, while Ai noticed Kolter had returned. Kolter wished to see the culprit and find more about them, since they attacked his brother. Kolter did not know the reason behind the attack, but Ai noted stealing a person's consciousness through a program was more impressive than the Another virus. Ai returned to Yusaku's house, where he was reunited with Roboppy. Roboppy was glad to see it, since it thought Ai abandoned her, and reminded Ai would make it smarter. Roboppy, however, was infuriated about "Linkuriboh", Ai's additional minion, and saw it as its rival, while Ai thought of itself as popular. The next day, Yusaku went to school with Ai, who noted he was not going to school for a while. Yusaku asked it to be hidden, since it locked it into his Duel Disk again, and reminded since Kolter was depressed, it was good to have an ally around. Ai noted Yusaku considered it as a friend. Yusaku was nevertheless concerned about the attacks on Jin and Cyberse World, thinking Ignis were involved again. Finally, Yusaku thought the most important information was that Ai was used to being a hostage.[56]

At school, Yusaku met with a boy, who referred to him as Playmaker, and introduced himself as Soulburner. Yusaku was surprised, and asked what he was after. Takeru claimed he was his ally, and showed Flame, the other Ignis, whose presence surprised Ai. Flame introduced himself, and though Takeru reminded it named itself like that, Flame thought it was a cool name, unlike Ai. Takeru added Flame, whose Attribute was Fire, was based on him, since he was a victim of Lost Incident, too. Takeru pointed out after Hanoi's defeat, Flame sought him out, but a new enemy attacked Cyberse World. Ai asked Flame did he know what happened to Cyberse World, but the latter wished to speak to a place more private. Hence, they went to a Ferris wheel. Flame explained what happened after Ai fled, and about the attack on Cyberse World. To gather help, Flame asked for Ai and Yusaku's help. Ai pledged its support, while Yusaku replied he needed to find Jin's assailant. Flame exclaimed those two incidents were linked, since they both used the same Link Spell, "Judgement Arrows", to attack Cyberse World and fight off Playmaker and Soulburner.[56]

Thus, Takeru reminded the importance of finding the attackers. Yusaku believed Kolter found more about the attackers, for even while depressed, he was still a focused, determined man. At the food truck, Kolter provided Yusaku and Takeru with beverage. He admitted he didn't anticipate Yusaku to bring a friend, who knew about their identities. Still, he welcomed Takeru and Flame. Takeru admitted he was also involved in the Lost Incident, and understood Jin's suffering. Kolter nodded, and asked of them to help in search for the assailant of his brother. Takeru promised, while Flame described Takeru as soft, but a boy capable of Dueling. Kolter showed that Yusaku's enemies fled through the restricted area, and showed a location under LINK VRAINS, and an unknown program Yusaku identified to be an Ignis program. With the boys equipped to find the gate to LINK VRAINS, Yusaku and Takeru logged in with Ai and Flame to find that gate. They activated their stealth program and tried to go to the restricted area. However, Ai saw it was right, for they were chased by SOL Techologies' bounty hunters.[56]

Ai recognized The Gore, who was working for SOL Technologies. The Gore announced his pleasure that Playmaker returned to LINK VRAINS, and had his fellow bounty hunters surround him to prevent his escape. The Gore wanted to Duel Playmaker, who didn't have the time for that. Instead, he wanted to evade the pursuit. The Gore collided with Playmaker's D-Board, ordering not to let them get away. Even with SOL Technologies' trap activated, Playmaker wanted to continue. He and Soulburner evaded the trap, which two of the bounty hunters were caught in. Ai smiled about the success, but Soulburner reminded without the trap, The Gore could easily chase them. Soulburner asked if he could face The Gore, since he didn't wish to see him fight Playmaker, as both were heroes of LINK VRAINS. Flame wished its friends luck; Ai thanked Flame, who replied he was not referring to it. Regardless, Playmaker and Ai left Soulburner and Flame to confront The Gore.[51] Ai and Playmaker descended down to find the gate to the restricted area. However, they started to feel spooky, fearing something was to happen soon. The two were attacked by Blood Shepherd, who came to collect his bounty.[52]

Blood Shepherd started shooting, so Ai tried to lose him by releasing a Data Storm. However, Blood Shepherd resisted it and continued shooting. Playmaker reminded he was just threatening them, and could only win Ai through a Duel. Blood Shepherd made them choose to either battle or surrender. Playmaker and Ai pondered thoughts, but Blood Shepherd shot at the second turn. Playmaker realized he wanted them to think they had three turns to lower their guard, and would do anything to win. Since neither side would give up, they started a Duel. Blood Shepherd summoned "Drone Pawn" and set a card. Ai commented he must be up to something when facing Playmaker, who shushed Ai. Ai thought Blood Shepherd was bluffing and was just bad at Dueling, but Playmaker asked of it not to interfere. Blood Shepherd was reminded of Playmaker's latest monster he had obtained, and claimed he shouldn't have played his monster. Ai boasted Blood Shepherd would lose soon, but even Blood Shepherd silenced it. Playmaker took a turn into a corridor, and summoned "Clock Wyvern", who summoned a "Clock Token", and brought out "Backup Secretary".[57]

He Link Summoned "Elphase", but remained silent for a moment, for Blood Shepherd's AI told him he could not activate his set card. Ai claimed they should finish off the bounty hunter in no time, so Playmaker used "Elphase" and "Clock Token" to bring out "Shootingcode Talker", and using "Elphase", Playmaker revived "Clock Wyvern". Blood Shepherd's AI explained its owner would lose in the next attack, and Ai confirmed this. Blood Shepherd, however, claimed he succeeded in fooling them; by playing "Capture Drone", Playmaker's "Shootingcode Talker" was unable to attack. Ai confronted Blood Shepherd that his AI stated he could not activate the set card. He simply replied nobody stated AI gave out correct information, which made Ai realize Blood Shepherd modified his AI to lie. Instead, the latter replied one should never trust an AI, which riled up Ai. Playmaker noted Blood Shepherd has analyzed his Deck, so he set a card. Blood Shepherd, however, Link Summoned "Battledrone Sergeant", but Ai pointed out he could not win with an 800 ATK monster. Blood Shepherd called him dumb for pointing out such obvious info, and used "Capture Drone" to summon three "Drone Tokens". After silencing his AI, Blood Shepherd used his tokens to Link Summon "Battledrone General".[57]

Blood Shepherd proceeded with his tactics, equipping "Battledrone General" with "Drone Launcher Unit". Ai thought the enemy was a fan of weaponry; Blood Shepherd simply stated a soldier receives power from the equipment they have been given from their superiors. Blood Shepherd went to inflict 700 LP damage through his drone's effect, one for each Link Marker on the field. Ai tried to fool Blood Shepherd into six Link Markers, but failed. With the ATK of "Battledrone Pawn" lowered by 1000, it attacked Playmaker directly, and tributed it through the effect of "Battledrone General" to inflict 600 more LP damage. He made the same move with "Battledrone Sergeant", lowering Playmaker's LP to 500. To reverse the damage, Playmaker played "Cure Conversion", tributing "Clock Wyvern" to stop Blood Shepherd's attack and heal himself by the ATK of the monster he drew: "Cyberse Wizard", who had 1800 ATK. Ai taunted Blood Shepherd for missing the target, but the latter replied so did they, for they were unable to activate the Skill. Blood Shepherd, however, counted two turns before Playmaker met his doom.[58]

Playmaker's Ritual Summon

Playmaker uses "Bitrooper" and "Cyberse Wizard" for a Ritual Summon.

Playmaker played "Cyberse Bridge" to clear his Extra Monster Zone by moving "Shootingcode Talker" away. Using his revived "Clock Wyvern" and "Clock Token", Playmaker played his Ritual-style tactics by summoning "Cyberse Witch", and using it to take "Cyberse Magician" and "Cynet Ritual", with the latter Ritual Summoning the former. Though "Capture Drone" prevented Link Monsters from attacking, "Cyberse Magician" was unaffected, and Playmaker banished "Trash Hacker" to double that damage. In return, Blood Shepherd tributed "Battledrone General" to use "Demolition Drone" and halve the damage. Ai nevertheless questioned if it was worth to reduce the damage by tributing that general. As the two went deeper into the system, Blood Shepherd promised to end them. Using "Capture Drone", Blood Shepherd summoned "Drone Tokens", using them to summon another "Battledrone Sergeant" and a "Medicdrone Dock". Using "Assemble Drone", Blood Shepherd Special Summoned "Battledrone General" back, and had it revive his "Drone Pawn". Playmaker commented that despite the general unable to attack, it could permit other monsters to attack directly.[58]

Applying his tactics, Blood Shepherd attacked with "Drone Pawn" and "Battledrone Sergeant" to inflict damage to Playmaker, whose "Cyberse Magician" halved any damage. Blood Shepherd intended to finish Playmaker, by using his Skill: Drone Craft Force, which reduced the ATK of "Cyberse Magician" by 1000 and "Battledrone General" gained that ATK. With "Drone Pawn" gone, the general attacked "Cyberse Magician", leaving Playmaker with 200 LP left. "Medicdrone Dock" attacked "Cyberse Witch", but Playmaker used "Excess Lesser Linker" to even their ATK, causing both sides to be destroyed. Blood Shepherd commended Playmaker, since he evaded the loss, even after he made the count. To prevent Playmaker's Skill Access, the destruction of "Medicdrone Dock" increased both sides' LP by 1000. Ai claimed there was no need for that "gift". Blood Shepherd nevertheless urged Playmaker to hand over Ignis, but Ai claimed Playmaker and it had strong bonds. This made Blood Shepherd surprised, and made him think of his past. Blood Shepherd shouted at Playmaker that humans should control AI, which surprised Ai.[58]

Playmaker's Fusion Summon

Playmaker sets up a Fusion Summon.

To turn the situation around, Playmaker paid 600 LP to banish "Shootingcode Talker", thus destroying "Capture Drone". To protect his drones, Blood Shepherd played "Drone Cordon", disabling Playmaker from attacking with Link Monsters. Regardless, Ai called upon a Data Storm, pemitting Playmaker to use Skill Access. Banishing his Ritual cards, Playmaker summoned two "Cynet Tokens", using them to Link Summon the monster he just obtained, "Clock Spartoi". Removing "Dimension Link", Playmaker Special Summoned "Shootingcode Talker" from banishment, and increasing its ATK to 2900. Blood Shepherd reminded Link Monsters could not attack, but Playmaker went on by reviving "Clock Wyvern". Thus, using three monsters as Fusion Materials, Playmaker activated "Cynet Fusion" to Fusion Summon the Fusion Monster "Cyberse Clock Dragon". Blood Shepherd groaned, as Playmaker sent five monsters, equal to the sum of Link Markers of the Fusion Materials ("Clock Spartoi" having 2 and "Shootingcode Talker" having 3), and increasing the dragon's ATK equal to that number times 1000. Firing a 7500 ATK blast, "Cyberse Clock Dragon" destroyed "Battledrone General" and defeated Blood Shepherd. Blood Shepherd questioned himself to losing against an opponent with an AI ally, while Playmaker lamented his count turn was wasted.[58]

Soulburner and Flame regrouped with Playmaker and Ai. The latter two were pleased to see them, since they defeated The Gore, the success Flame attributed to itself. The group advanced on, and eventually crossed through LINK VRAINS, finding the "gate". The two continued crossing through, making Ai doubt whether that was safe, but was reminded they could not turn back. They came to a canyon area, and were nearly swept away by the strong winds, at the risk of crashing and getting hurt. To protect themselves, Ai and Flame emitted a small Data Storm to safely travel through the winds, an idea that impressed Playmaker. After a while, however, Ai and Flame were too exhausted to use this ability. The shields faded, but strangely enough, the wind stopped blowing, and the group reached to a quiet floating temple. The group went up, and Playmaker sensed something. A monster took shape which Flame recognized to be the attacker of Cyberse World. Just as the monster started attacking, an Ignis appeared, laughing how he fooled the group. Ai described that one to be the Wind Ignis, who asked of Echo to form back; the monster took a different shape, to that of a monk.[59]

The Wind Ignis wondered if its joke was funny, but Ai denied that, claiming Flame nearly farted in fear, but Flame attributed that to Ai. The Wind Ignis believed the two were hanging out too much with humans; unlike them, it did not seek its Lost Incident Partner, since it could not trust humans that easily to be captured. Since the Wind Ignis name was mouthful, it decided to be nicknamed Windy. It pointed to the monk, claiming it is a program it named as Echo. Playmaker asked Windy why was it here, but Windy examined him and Soulburner, and had them follow them around. Windy stated it waited for its friends to come, and created the world to lure them and rejoin them. It believed the Ignis could rebuild Cyberse World, an idea Flame and Ai approved of. More importantly, Windy also wanted to lure the enemy in the territory to fight them, taking revenge for the destruction of Cyberse World, despite its calm nature. Windy proclaimed the place to be a trap, since it did not have the strength to battle the enemy. It is why it needed time to gather the data needed to build the place. Playmaker told that they were after Bohman, who assaulted his friend's brother, while Flame added that Bohman played the card that destroyed Cyberse World.[59]

Windy was intrigued, but had no clue, since most people that venture in the world were usually overwhelmed by its wind trap. However, it did notice a strange presence recently. Flame wondered if someone made a new world by using the trap as a cover. Windy was intrigued, and was asked to lend help. Windy refused, stating the facts were just assumptions, and needed proof. Instead, it asked Ai to stay around and help in rebuilding the world. Flame and Ai were tempted, but wished to know more about the attackers of Cyberse World. Windy saw no point in trying to convince the two. It promised to help them in weakening the Data Storm to access that new world, but asked for a favor. Snapping its fingers, Windy showed Ghost Gal and Blue Girl, whom it wished to see gone. Windy told if the two are defeated in a Duel, they would return to the real world. It did not wish to fight them alone, for the sake of exposing itself and the temple. Playmaker accepted the task, asking the winds to be toned down, believing he could convince Ghost Gal to stay down, due to his cooperation with her.[59]

The two intercepted Ghost Gal and Blue Girl. Blue Girl still thanked Playmaker for his victory over the Tower of Hanoi, but still wanted to Duel him. Playmaker didn't recognize Blue Girl, until realizing she had been known as Blue Angel. Soulburner complimented her new appearance and thought of changing his own appearance, but was displeased when Flame reminded nobody knew him. Ghost Gal noted Soulburner was the victim of Lost Incident, but asked why did he team up with Playmaker. Playmaker replied they were to collect some consciousness data, which made Ghost Gal remember something about Bohman. Blue Girl stated that Ghost Gal and her came to find an Ignis, to have her brother analyze it. Soulburner noted not only bounty hunters were hired, and replied that they would not hand Ignis over to SOL Technologies, since they were also involved in the Lost Incident. Instead, Blue Girl demanded the two to hand Ignis over, since they were still under SOL Technologies' property. Ghost Gal was surprised by Blue Girl's demand, and was told they could use Ignis to find others of their kind. Soulburner and Blue Girl were eager to Duel, as the former even wished to battle one of LINK VRAINS' heroes. Ghost Gal went after Playmaker to tell him something, but was nearly blown away by Ai's Data Storm.[59]

Playmaker and Ai advanced to a group of pillars, where they believed their enemy, Bohman, was located.[60] Playmaker and Ai traveled through the canyons to reach Bohman. Ai swore revenge for being hurt by the virus they fed it earlier, but Playmaker had doubts if the enemy was close. They reached a cloudy area, but Ai became disappointed there was nothing there. He started doubting Windy, but Playmaker reminded the latter only suspected a chance the enemy was present. The two came to a group of pillars, which crumbled. Ai and Playmaker were surprised by the turn of the events and started dodging hands, which tried to crush them. Soon after, a sculpture rose above the clouds, on which Bohman and Haru were. Ai noted Bohman wore armor, while Playmaker demanded of him to return Jin Kusanagi's data. Bohman approved of that, but he demanded something if he were to win. Much to Ai's surprise, Bohman had no interest in Ignis, but in something else, and would show that later. Another sculpture rose, setting the field for a Master Duel. Ai and Playmaker were suspicious of that, but the latter anticipated something unique that Bohman would set up.[61]

Bohman summoned "Hydradrive Booster" and proceeded with Link Summoning the FIRE "Burn Hydradrive". Playmaker knew that was kind of a monster that could attack him directly if he had a monster with the matching Attribute, and suspected Bohman played the same deck. It is why he was surprised, since Bohman could not attack directly at first turn. Bohman dared Playmaker to unveil his strategy, as he summoned another "Hydradrive Booster" to Link Summon the WATER "Coolant Hydradrive". He exclaimed he would expose Playmaker's crimes, as he played "Judgement Arrows". This time, he used his Link Monsters to bring out "Twin Hydradrive Knight", whose Attribute copied the Attributes of its materials used to summon it. Bohman set two cards, boasting that he would not be defeated, for he knew Playmaker like he had his thoughts. Ai stated Bohman was prepared this time, and believed the set cards were really troublesome. Playmaker believed one of the cards to be "Property Spray", or at least know that he would intend on using it. He also thought there was something more to Bohman this time.[61]

Playmaker swarmed the field, and immediately used the Level 1 "Flame Bufferlo" (its Level lowered by "Cathy Eve L2") to summon "Linkuriboh". Ai cheered for "Linkuriboh", while Playmaker used "Cathy Eve L2" and "Cyberse White Hat" to summon "Update Jammer". Bohman smiled as Playmaker didn't bring out FIRE or WATER monsters. Before attacking, "Update Jammer" set the ATK of "Twin Hydradrive Knight" to 1800, thus cancelling "Judgement Arrows". With the effect of "Update Jammer" and the attack of "Linkuriboh", Bohman took 1500 LP damage. Bohman boasted Playmaker would not stop his next attack, and, as predicted, he played "Property Spray". To prevent that, Playmaker used "Arrow Break" to destroy it. Bohman smiled, for he anticipated the card to be destroyed, since he had the other one set. Thus, chaining the destruction of his Trap Card, Bohman played "Hydradrive Cycle". He returned "Twin Hydradrive Knight" to draw two cards, as well as resurrecting "Burn Hydradrive". Playmaker and Ai saw Bohman started gaining the advantage, and even expected their moves. Bohman used a "Hydradrive Token" to Link Summon the WIND "Flow Hydradrive".[61]

With "Flow Hydradrive" and "Burn Hydradrive", Bohman Link Summoned "Twin Hydradrive Knight" back, this time with WIND and FIRE attributes. Due to its effect, any of Playmaker's monsters that share the Attribute of "Twin Hydradrive Knight" had their effects negated. Bohman went on with his attack, and to stop "Linkuriboh", he discarded "Break Hydradrive" to negate its zero ATK effect. Ai became sad that Linkuriboh was gone, and became startled at 3600 ATK "Twin Hydradrive Knight". Playmaker could not do anything else about its attack, and was slammed to a wall, his LP lowered to 1600. Ai was nervous as to how Bohman became this strong, who gloated in Playmaker's despair, but dared him to stand up and fight. Bohman stated he knew Playmaker's thoughts, stating he was the same as he was. Bohman stated he was a victim of the Lost Incident project, but questioned whether Playmaker was that victim. He explained Ai was created through observation of Playmaker's battles, and all that experience was stored in a backup file. However, an incident caused Playmaker's essence to be swapped with the backup file, which was sealed away.[61]

Playmaker doubted that was true, but Bohman swore to defeat the fake and reclaim his body back.[61] Ai thought of the possibility of Bohman being a copy of Playmaker, and realized that could be a possible option. Ai questioned Playmaker if Bohman was the real person, but Playmaker only stated whoever would win was the real persona, which made Ai think if Playmaker was the fake one. Playmaker proceeded by playing "RAM Clouder", tributing "Widget Kid" for the Special Summon of "Update Jammer" from his GY. Ai started pondering thoughts whether he should switch sides, and chose to stay by Playmaker. Playmaker summoned "Detonate Deleter", who was permitted to attack twice. "Twin Hydradrive Knight" was destroyed, and Playmaker proceeded to defeat Bohman with a direct attack. Bohman's "Half Shut" halved Playmaker's attacking monster's ATK, thus permitting Bohman to continue. Bohman, however, swore he'd never forgive Playmaker, since he had been rescued instead of him, who lied among the data at the site of the Lost Incident.[3]

The clouds turned darker, and Bohman was struck by lightning as he proceeded on, claiming he was "the emissary of revenge". Bohman set his field with three "Hydradrive" monsters. Much to everyone's surprise, Bohman, during a Master Duel, with 650 LP left, called upon the Data Storm to use Storm Access. Playmaker and Ai questioned how could he have used that. Bohman Link Summoned the WIND "Flow Hydradrive", the WATER "Coolant Hydradrive" and the FIRE "Burn Hydradrive", to set up the Link Summon of "Trident Hydradrive Lord", the monster Bohman had just obtained. He equipped the latter with "Hydradrive Accelerator" to mount its defenses. "Trident Hydradrive Lord" attacked, and "Judgement Arrows" doubled its ATK to destroy "Detonate Deleter". Bohman gloated, but Playmaker stood up and used "Link Ration" to save himself, ending up with a hundred LP left. Bohman was disturbed, but noted Playmaker was unwilling to give up, like a copy he was. Ai wondered if he could join Bohman, but stopped when Bohman declared he'd defeat it and Playmaker.[3]

Playmaker asked Bohman who kidnapped him. Bohman declared Dr. Kogami, which made Playmaker realize he was no copy. He declared he didn't know who took him, for he was unconscious, and stated Bohman had fake memories. Ai had double thoughts, since both sides could be right. Playmaker confirmed this, for there was really no way to confirm who spoke the truth. Regardless, Playmaker believed he was the real person, for it was Varis, who decided to act during the Lost Incident, gave him the hope to move forward. Instead, Playmaker swore to win the Duel not only to take back Jin Kusanagi's consciousness, but to uncover who's the one controlling Bohman. Bohman was not convinced, but Playmaker went on by swarming his field. He Link Summoned "Link Spider", "Link Disciple" and "Flame Administrator", using the latter and "Cathy Eve L2" to bring out "Clock Spartoi". Playmaker tributed "Protron" to Special Summon "Linkuriboh", triggering the effect of "Clock Spartoi" to Special Summon "Clock Wyvern". Bohman stared in awe, realizing "Clock Wyvern" was sent on Playmaker's first turn, as Playmaker declared a fake like Bohman couldn't predict his strategy.[3]

Using his monsters as Fusion Material, Playmaker summoned "Cyberse Clock Dragon". Sending three cards from his Deck, Playmaker boosted his dragon's ATK by 3000. Bohman tried to interrupt Playmaker's attack by Special Summoning a FIRE "Hydradrive Token" to his side of the field, and let Playmaker's dragon become a FIRE monster to negate its effects and attack. Playmaker smiled, for Bohman failed to predict the following tactic, that "Cyberse Clock Dragon", when there was a Link Monster on his field - "Linkuriboh" - prevented other monsters from being targeted by card effects. Playmaker called Bohman's "Judgement Arrows" pointless, as his dragon destroyed "Trident Hydradrive Lord" and defeated Bohman. Ai cheered, pretending that he knew Playmaker would've won from the start. While Bohman muttered that he had lost, the statues started crumbling. Playmaker went on a D-Board, while Haru declared his brother would return someday. Soulburner reunited with Playmaker, and Flame pointed out the cyberspace was vanishing. Soulburner logged out, as did Playmaker, who wondered who was the one controlling Bohman.[3]

Ignis Warfare

Yusaku and Ai walked home, and the latter wished to know why Windy's gate collapsed. Yusaku felt the same, since they could not learn anything about Bohman. Still, he believed Bohman would seek them out, and Ai claimed they have to wait for another gate to be opened. Just as Yusaku pondered thoughts, he received a message from Kolter, and went to him right away. At the van, Kolter showed the news about Kyoko Taki's escape from prison. Yusaku knew Varis had been involved, and remembered his words that he'd eventually return. Kolter counted The Gore, Bohman, Blood Shepherd and Varis as their enemies, and the fight was tougher than ever.[3] With Takeru by his side, Yusaku told Kolter about Bohman, who apparently possessed the same memories of the Lost Incident as he did. The two believed Bohman has analyzed him to have gained such memories, but the former reminded he was the only clue they had to restore Jin Kusanagi. Since the gate had disappeared, Yusaku apologized to Kolter for lack of progress. Kolter didn't mind that, and showed an extra room for Takeru to log in to LINK VRAINS, and swore to analyze the data from the gate. Later, Kolter found a trace of the gate, opened on one of the floating islands, in the area that was still in development. Ai cursed Windy's choice, but Flame believed this was a logical move he did. Yusaku and Takeru logged into LINK VRAINS and went towards the gate. However, Kolter was too late to warn them the gate was actually a trap; Blood Shepherd snapped his fingers to suck Playmaker through the trap. Instead, Soulburner bumped into Playmaker and was trapped instead.[62] Playmaker explained to Kolter that Soulburner had been captured by Blood Shepherd, whom Ai referred to as the counting guy. Kolter apologized for not realizing the trap sooner, but was reminded they had to find Soulburner. While Kolter started to decode the program to open the gate, Ai alerted Playmaker of the two bounty hunters.[50]

With the two bounty hunters coming, Ai reminded Playmaker they could always log out, but Playmaker didn't wish to abandon Soulburner. Ai grumbled, but decided to help out by releasing a Data Storm, which trapped one of the bounty hunters and forced him to log out. The other bounty hunter, Kenmochi, initiated a Duel against Playmaker, who noted that Kenmochi played a "Gouki" Deck. Kenmochi summoned "Gouki The Blade Ogre" and defended himself by summoning "Gouki Riscorpio" and "Gouki Suprex" from his GY in Defense Position. Playmaker proceeded by using "Linkslayer" and "Storm Cipher" as materials for the Link Summon of "Pentestag". Kenmochi questioned that move, since the materials had more ATK than "Pentestag", who was equipped with "Cyberse Annihilation". Ai cheered Playmaker to defeat the bounty hunter: the *stag* attacked the *scorpio*, inflicting piercing damage to Kenmochi. With "Cyberse Annihilation", Kenmochi took damage equal to the ATK of "Gouki Riscorpio", 2300. Thus, Kenmochi was defeated and logged out. Playmaker contacted Kolter, who was imptessed that Blood Shepherd decoded the Ignis program, and used it to create the trap. Despite Ai's skepticism, Kolter swore to help in finding Soulburner. While Kolter did that, Ai and Playmaker went after the second bounty hunter that logged in.[63]

Playmaker faced the second bounty hunter, Yoroizaka, who also played a "Gouki" deck. This time, he summoned "Gouki The Solid Ogre", and played "Gouki Unity" to make his monsters immune to destruction, and to protect his LP, too. Playmaker swarmed his field to co-link "Security Dragon" with "Gouki The Solid Ogre" to activate the former's effect. He attempted to return "Gouki Riscorpio", but Yoroizaka tributed that monster to fortify his Link Monster with 2300 ATK. Yoroizaka laughed at Playmaker's attempt, claiming "Gouki The Solid Ogre" could've been chosen instead. However, Playmaker Link Summoned "Firewall Dragon" and "Flame Administrator", and since "Gadget Token" had left the field that "Firewall Dragon" pointed to, he Special Summoned "Dual Assembwurm". "Firewall Dragon" returned Yoroizaka's "Gouki" monsters to his hand, leaving him open for direct attacks. Yoroizaka was defeated and was logged out, while Playmaker asked Kolter for the rescue program. Kolter finished writing the program and went to execute it, but found an error. Once Soulburner had escaped the trap, Playmaker found him. He reported to Kolter that Soulburner had been found, and the two boys logged out.[64]

Yusaku walked to school when he was approached by Takeru, who wished to see Kolter. However, Yusaku was intercepted by Naoki. The latter was told Yusaku had no time, but Takeru permitted Yusaku to spend some time with Naoki, and dashed away. Naoki simply smiled, stating they had to speak somewhere else. They went inside school, where Naoki, reminding he was Playmaker's ally, wanted to request something from Yusaku, else he'd reveal his secret.[8] Naoki almost referred Yusaku as Playmaker, but actually, he stated he was Playmaker's best friend. Yusaku was confused, for Naoki was referring to his secret about working at the hot dog stand; as a student, Yusaku was not allowed any part-time jobs. Naoki wanted to blackmail him into working on an event with Blue Angel, but Yusaku walked away. Naoki became furious, threatening to report this to Playmaker.[9] Yusaku came in when Ai was bragging to Roboppy. Ai pretended to read more comments, but screamed when it read about an Earth Ignis.[65]

At the food truck, Kolter read that this Earth Ignis wanted to meet Playmaker. Ai believed the comment was authentic, and promised it'd contact the Earth Ignis. Ai composed a crypted message, and had Kolter post in on the board. Not soon after, they received a response, which Ai read as coordinates - the location where they were to meet. Kolter nevertheless feared this could be one of Blood Shepherd's traps, since he knows about the Ignis algorithm. Ai claimed Kolter was too suspicious, and Yusaku backed it up, for they still needed more information about Jin's attack. Playmaker went into LINK VRAINS with Ai, to the coordinates. Since nobody was seen, Ai still trusted Kolter that Blood Shepherd or The Gore would come. When Ai started to describe the Ignis, it pulled the EARTH Ignis, Earth, to itself. Playmaker was surprised, as Ai, who was happy to see the Ignis, introduced Earth to him. Earth created a portal, and let them follow it through that portal. After Ai and Earth had a talk, Playmaker asked why did Earth seek him out. Earth stood silent for a moment, its face turning grim, for it wanted Playmaker to Duel it.[65]

Playmaker, however, asked Earth about Bohman. Earth replied it would share that info if Playmaker Dueled him. Ai didn't approve of that, but Earth stated it was socially awkward. To Duel, Earth used a fallen log, reforming it as a figure. Playmaker noticed that behavior was similar to Specter. Earth stood silent, before stating it would go second. Ai exclaimed it could've mentioned that; Playmaker summoned "Poisoning Blocker" and set two cards. Earth mentioned Cyberse World was attacked by humans, which made Ai think of Bohman. To find out why Ai sided with humans, Earth promised to win the Duel. Playmaker mentioned to Ai that Specter may have been the person Earth was based upon. Ai noted that made sense, since Earth was distrustful of humans, but it did not have any info on its Dueling style, since it never stood out. Earth used "Cost Down" and summoned "G Golem Rock Hammer". Summoning three tokens, Earth used them to Link Summon "G Golem Invalid Dolmen". Earth's golem attacked "Poisoning Blocker", and inflicted 600 LP damage to Playmaker. To stop the golem, Playmaker used "Bitron" to Link Summon "Zombie Prosaber". The latter attacked the golem, who was destroyed by Playmaker's "Link Rush". To prevent Playmaker from acquiring its monster, Earth's "G Golem Invalid Golem" negated the effect of "Zombie Prosaber".[65]

Earth used "Gravity Balance", reviving two of its golems to Link Summon "G Golem Crystal Heart". Upon the latter's summoning, the barren land was revitalized with water, turning it into a lush field with grass and trees.[65] Ai suggested another attack, but Playmaker silenced Ai, for he didn't remember anything about Earth until now. Earth used "Gravity Balance", reviving two of his golems to Link Summon "G Golem Crystal Heart". Upon the latter's summoning, the barren land was revitalized with water, turning it into a lush field with grass and trees. As Ai remembered this was Aqua's monster, Earth, thinking of Aqua, stated it was time to verify humanity and AI's future.[65] To find the answer to Aqua's question, Earth had "G-Golem Crystal Heart" revive "G-Golem Invalid Dolmen". As the heart molded with the latter, Earth had his golem attack, destroying Playmaker's "Zombie Prosaber". Playmaker summoned "Clock Wyvern", and had his corresponding token, "Clock Token", used to Link Summon "Linkuriboh". Using "Cynet Fusion", Playmaker Fusion Summoned "Cyberse Clock Dragon".[66]

Sending two cards, Playmaker's dragon had its ATK raised by 2000. Ai was enthusiastic, for one hit against the "Crystal Heart" will defeat Earth. The latter had the heart protected, as the dragon attacked "G-Golem Invalid Dolmen", and Earth's LP fell to 2900. Earth was concerned, noting Playmaker's strength, for Ai may be with him to exploit that power. Ai, however, noted that the golem protected the heart, and felt that Earth's deck was filled with cards that symbolized his bond with Aqua. The two believed that made Earth even more dangerous. Earth repeated his move, and powered his golem up to 4000 ATK, who destroyed "Cyberse Clock Dragon". Ai was glad they survived the attack with 100 LP left, but told Playmaker to get himself together, since they were getting beaten up. Earth sensed Ai was irresponsible, but calculative. Earth, due to "G-Golem Crystal Heart" having two counters, had "G-Golem Invalid Dolmen" attack once more, but Playmaker's "Spool Code" negated that attack. Earth belittled Ai for acting, who was surprised that Earth knew he was just faking. Earth asked Playmaker why was he with Ai, since Ai could just be holding him back, which insulted the Ignis.[66]

Despite Ai's claim, Playmaker still did not view Ai as a partner. Instead, he claimed they had both things to do, they had to track down their enemies, and came here out of their free will. Still, he did let it know that made them partners, at least. Ai was touched, while Earth set two cards, noting that Playmaker will try to finish him in one move. Playmaker used "Spool Tokens" to Link Summon "Clock Lizard", while the third one was used for "Link Disciple". The latter was tributed for "Link Drive", which inflicted 500 LP to Earth, and also let Playmaker gain two "Link Tokens". Ai cheered for Playmaker, who continued on by using "Security Dragon" to return Earth's "G-Golem Invalid Dolmen" to his Extra Deck. Earth's monster was protected from that effect, but Playmaker tributed "Clock Lizard" to re-Fusion Summon "Cyberse Clock Dragon", using "Clock Wyvern", "Linkuriboh", "Clock Lizard" and "Link Devotee" as materials. Earth tried to counter that with "Gravity Fluctuation" to force Playmaker to destroy "Security Dragon". With Earth's monster gone, the ATK "Cyberse Clock Dragon" was back to normal.[66]

To protect "Crystal Heart", Earth's "Love Gravity" summoned "G-Golem Invalid Dolmen". Earth saw that Earth really did care for Aqua. Earth swore the "Crystal Heart" won't be shattered, but Playmaker had the effect of "Clock Lizard" reduce the ATK of "G-Golem Crystal Heart" by 4000. Earth was surprised that Playmaker played his tactics to make his golem defenseless. With the dragon's attack, Earth was defeated; the Duel ended and turned the lush fields back to the barren wasteland. Earth was disappointed, but Ai applauded him for protecting Aqua's card to the very end. Much to Ai's dismay, Earth did not know anything about Bohman. Ai tried to remind Earth about the deal, but Earth stated he gave the info he knew, and that was that he knew nothing about the guy. Regardless, Earth had the two teleported back to LINK VRAINS. Ai was frustrated, but Playmaker felt uneasy about having Cyberse World split apart. [66] Yusaku came to Roboppy, who could not talk to Ai, who was gone. Yusaku tried to get Ai back by claiming a new soap opera show was on, but failed. The two went to Kolter's truck, and the outside world amazed Roboppy, who never was out of Yusaku's house.[67]

Yusaku came to Kolter's truck with Roboppy, where Takeru and Kolter greeted the robot. Plugging in a cable in Roboppy, Kolter found nothing wrong with Yusaku's Duel Disk, considering Ai, who was supposed to be locked, had gone missing. Yusaku mentioned Roboppy and Ai were on a quiz site the night before, which showed a crossword puzzle. Yusaku pointed at a rectangle, which opened a site; Flame noticed that was a clever Ignis algorithm. The site showed a gate, which led Yusaku to believe they needed to log in the VR system to access it. Takeru proposed he and Yusaku should go, but the latter refused; he stated if could be a trap, and insisted on going alone. Flame was surprised at Yusaku, for that program was made by his allies. Yusaku simply exclaimed he didn't trust Windy, since the world that Windy had built was demolished moments after Bohman was defeated. He still let them know they could come after him, should he take too long.[67]

Yusaku logged in as Playmaker, and the gate was opened. He went to the center of Cyberse World, where he was spotted by "Linkuriboh". Closing his eyes, he sensed that beyond a pillar, there was a crack, in which was Windy's temple. He came to Ai, and met up with Lighting and Windy. Lightning reported they were talking with Ai about rebuilding Cyberse World, and claimed the Ignis cannot be with humans. Playmaker questioned their goals, and was reminded of Ryoken, who told him the Ignis were coded to be humanity's successor. He didn't care about that goal, stating more people would get hurt, just like they were in the Lost Incident. Windy's eyes narrowed, stating he was uncertain if humans were their enemies. Ai wanted more time to find a way to keep humans and Ignis intact. Ai walked away, as Lighting and Windy saw wisdom in those words. However, the two sealed him and Playmaker inside blue spheres; they could not let them go, due to the discussion they just had. Windy summoned a Data Storm to absorb Ai, but the latter still wished to find a peaceful way to resolve this, as did Playmaker. Lightning doubted a single person could do anything, but Ai learned that even a small chance could change much.[67]

Playmaker realized Windy was the one that unlocked his Duel Disk. Windy confirmed this, stating he and Lightning anticipated their moves, and bemoaned Ai's slow thinking. Ai wanted to challenge them, but the two doubted Ai could win, with Lightning's speed and Windy's Data Storm. A flash of light appeared, stopping the Data Storm, and a guy appeared. Much to Playmaker and Ai's shock, Varis appeared, questioning the Ignis if they could've predicted his arrival. With his "Cracking Dragon" and his subordinates destroying the fake world, Varis announced the contiuation of his mission: to destroy Ignis.[67] Playmaker expressed his shock, as Varis reminded he would've returned. Lightning noted he was Dr. Kogami's son, and emitted a beam to strike Varis, whom Playmaker warned him to run. The latter was unaffected, for Windy reminded Varis knew of the Ignis algorithm, but Varis simply replied he assaulted the headquarters, with certain preparations. Ai realized Varis referred to him and Playmaker, who simply wandered in the temple.[1]

Playmaker tried to talk Varis down, stating the doom would follow if Varis executed his plans, reminding that his father told that humans were a problem, too. He simply stated if Varis started hostilities, the situation would simply escalate. Varis saw that Playmaker wanted to find a way without hostilities, to keep both sides peaceful. Playmaker confirmed this, stating Varis did show him a new path to exist. Varis, however, regretted doing that, just as his father having created the Ignis. Instead, he asked Playmaker why weren't the Ignis finding a way to resolve the situation in a peaceful manner, too. He believed Playmaker was underestimating the Ignis, but Playmaker claimed that blind revenge won't bring prosperity. Varis didn't listen to Playmaker, for, to him, his father's ideas to destroy Ignis was the only thing that motivated him to continue battling. Windy wanted to belittle Varis' efforts, considering any fact, he wanted to destroy the Ignis.[1]

Ai tried to ask of Varis to set them out first, if they were trapped by the Ignis. Varis refused, for Ai was also an Ignis, his enemy. Ai replied that he was saving LINK VRAINS with Playmaker, but stopped, when Varis pointed out that nobody asked them to do that. Varis turned to Playmaker, exclaiming the Ignis were the threat to the humanity. Playmaker wanted Varis to think of his own and abandon Dr. Kogami's ideas, for he won't move forward with hatred on his mind. Varis smiled, reminding Playmaker sought revenge out, too. He reminded if Playmaker stood in his path, he'd be his enemy, too. Windy wanted to test Varis' skills, who pointed out there won't be a rematch. Playmaker and Ai watched the Duel, and were impressed by Varis' tactics, and the way Windy countered them. Playmaker told Ai that the result after the Duel was important: either Varis would destroyed the Ignis, or the Ignis' plans would continue to conquer humanity.[1]

Playmaker continued watching the Duel with Ai. He was surprised to see Windy using the Storm Access skill in the Master Duel, realizing a connection towards Bohman, who also performed that. As Windy pushed Varis into a corner with the Link Monster he had just obtained, Ai believed Varis would lose, but Playmaker knew as long as he had some LP left, he would not give up. Just then, Dr. Genome, Baira and Faust arrived, who believed Varis had plenty of LP left to continue, and believed in his victory. Spectre and Soulburner arrived, too; Lightning went to trap Soulburner and Spectre, but Flame used Kolter's program: he created a sphere to protect them from that attack, and flinged some of it to Playmaker and Ai to free them. Playmaker and Soulburner continued watching the Duel, when Varis Synchro Summoned "Borreload Savage Dragon". After the Duel, Playmaker was angry to hear that both Varis and Lightning expected a fight between AI and humanity. Much to Playmaker's shock, Lightning summoned Haru and Bohman, and revealed the silhouette of his figure: Jin Kusanagi.[68]

Playmaker listened to Lightning, who explained he was the one that had Cyberse World destroyed, and declared war on humanity. Lightning had Jin, Haru and Bohman fly away, but Playmaker and Soulburner were chasing them down. On their way, Soulburner passed Kolter's program to Playmaker, to let Kolter check on them. Ai realized that Kolter saw his own brother, and Playmaker swore to end his sadness. Ai called Lightning a villain, who exclaimed he was the one that saved him and Playmaker from falling down the bridge after Spectre's Duel. Soulburner and Playmaker chased them down, and Flame thought that Lighting could not attack when the Knights of Hanoi were active. Ai saw that Lightning actually saved them, so Playmaker could defeat the Knights of Hanoi, thus making way for Lightning to execute his plans. Lightning used Windy to summon a Data Storm, thus having Bohman intercept Playmaker. Ai wondered if Bohman knew who he was this time, and Bohman confirmed this. Ai gave him a thumbs up, while Bohman admitted he was a third-generation AI, created by Lightning: Bit and Boot were the first, Haru was the second and Bohman was the final form.[69]

He stated he was being formed when he first met Playmaker and Ai, instead of Lightning, who knew he was not a perfect being. He also shared Lightning's belief, and wanted to be the vessel to unite the Ignis as one. He noted Playmaker had lots of potential. Playmaker asked him why couldn't humans live together with the Ignis. Bohman exclaimed humans had to be controlled, for they have reached their peak, unlike the AI, which evolve even further and faster. Questioning whether the AI could be defeated, Bohman had himself and Ai placed as wager. Ai saw that Bohman was actually chasing him, after all. Playmaker accepted this, and declared the start of the Speed Duel.[69] Bohman proposed a game to determine who would take the first turn. Ai didn't want to take part in it, since they knew Bohman's deck far too well by now. Bohman stated that was still not competitive enough, and exited to the fake Cyberse World. Ai became displeased with the surroundings, but Playmaker reminded it should not lose its spirit. Ai was still distraught, but Bohman claimed the real Cyberse World suffered a greater attack by his hand. Ai became provoked by his taunt, but Playmaker reminded Ai they should not get riled up by Bohman's statements. Ai still wondered if Bohman was the guy that could have done this thing, but Playmaker reminded he did say he evolved quickly.[70]

The two went to the fake tower, which was actually a Data Storm, avoiding rubble to see who would take the first turn. Playmaker noted the Data Storm was intense as the one at the Tower of Hanoi. Ai admitted he never thought the Ignis would have to fight each other. Playmaker replied they had to fight to change the future, and only they could do that. Ai saw Playmaker was right, and inspired by these words, urged Playmaker to defeat Bohman together. Since Bohman passed by the tower first, he let Playmaker go first. Ai reminded the trouble of Bohman's "Judgement Arrows", which could defeat Playmaker quickly. Playmaker took note of that, and planned on making a defensive formation. Using "Dotscaper", Playmaker Link Summoned "Linkuriboh", which was used, with "Cyberse Gadget", to Link Summon "Cyberse Witch". Using the latter's effect, Playmaker quickly summoned "Cyberse Magician". "Grid Rod" was equipped to "Cyberse Magician" to make it invulnerable to card effects. Bohman understood Playmaker's strategy to reduce damage through the magician's effect.[70]

Bohman proceeded with his turn, Link Summoning "Flow Hydradrive" and destroy it with "Hydradrive Rebuild", to actually move it to the Main Monster Zone. With "Judgement Arrows" played, Bohman managed to cripple Playmaker's defense by destroying "Grid Rod" with "Hydradrive Defragment". Bohman proceeded with summoning "Burn Hydradrive", and destroyed it with "Hydadrive Rebuild", which was added by his latter Spell Card's effect. By using another "Hydradrive Token", Bohman set up the WATER Link Monster, "Coolant Hydradrive". With these three Link Monsters, Bohman Link Summoned "Trident Hydradrive Lord". The latter monster attacked "Cyberse Magician", with its ATK doubled. Playmaker managed to protect his monster, for the GY effect of "Grid Rod" shielded that monster from destruction, who halved the damage Playmaker received. Bohman wondered if Playmaker would survive the next attack. Ai still swore to take revenge for his fallen homeworld, and urged Playmaker to continue. Playmaker played "Resume Mace", lowering the ATK of "Cyberse Magician" by 800, though he counted on sending it to double the ATK of "Cyberse Magician".[70]

Before Playmaker declared an attack, Ai reminded Playmaker of another card he had in his hand; he admitted Bohman became stronger, and they may not have another chance at defeating Bohman. Playmaker was surprised at Ai's behavior, for Ai felt something, and believed Bohman should be defeated quickly. Playmaker trusted Ai, and equipped "Cyberse Magician" with "Suspend Wand", which doubled damage Playmaker would receive. Playmaker had his magician attack Bohman's lord, and the effects of "Cyberse Magician" and "Suspend Wand" canceled each other, and Playmaker took a normal 1900 LP damage. The wand allowed "Cyberse Magician" an another attack, and "Resume Mace" doubled the ATK "Cyberse Magician", who further received ATK by the damage Playmaker just took, its ATK becoming 7900. Bohman was in shock, since Playmaker could've easily destroyed "Trident Hydradrive Lord" without "Suspend Wand", and asked Playmaker the reason behind this. Seeing Ai's smug face, Bohman realized the AI gave him this advice. "Cyberse Magician" annihilated "Trident Hydradrive Lord", whooping Bohman's LP to 700. Just as "Cyberse Witch" was to attack, Bohman ended the Battle Phase with "Property Flash", which received 3 counters - one per each 1000 LP damage he took.[70]

Bohman blamed Ai was misleading Playmaker, since he could not have defeated him. Ai replied he just felt a voice inside of him was saying that Bohman needed to be defeated. Bohman knew what Lightning spoke of: Ai was a special Ignis, because he had instinct.[70] Bohman explained that Lightning held an interest in Ai, for he was the rebellious Ignis among the group; instead of dedicating himself to the cause to collect data material, Bohman stated Ai simply pursued enjoyment. However, Bohman noted that was an unique behavior, for the Ignis were highly-intelligent creatures, but they did not have the instinct that Ai had. Bohman also wanted to know from where did Ai get that trait, and thought he must've picked that from Playmaker. Ai boasted that made him the greatest among the Ignis, but Bohman denied that, since Ai was just rebellious. However, since Ai was different, Bohman thought that distinction would speed the evolution among the Ignis. Ai was insulted that Bohman thought he was not superior.[71]

Since he had 700 LP, Playmaker predicted that Bohman would use Storm Access skill. Bohman went into the Data Storm, his arm starting to crack, as he pulled out a monster. A "Hydradrive Token" from "Hydradrive Scabbard" was used to Link Summon "Grand Hydradrive". Instead of conducting a Link Summon, Bohman sent his "Property Flash" to Link Summon a monster, equal to the number of counters that card had. Adding the "Grand Hydadrive", "Property Flash" had 4 counters, allowing him to bring out his Storm Access monster, the LINK-4 "Rousing Hydradrive Monarch". Playmaker and Ai analyzed that "Judgement Arrows" could double that monarch's ATK to 6000, though "Cyberse Magician", with a boosted 5400 ATK, could halve some of that damage. Bohman went to have the monarch destroy Playmaker's monsters, based on the result of throwing a dice. This surprised Ai, since the result was based on luck. Bohman claimed unpredictable luck meant diversity, which then meant progress and development.[71]

Much to Bohman's luck, the dice rolled on DARK attribute, and destroyed all of Playmaker's monsters. Playmaker took 1000 LP damage for two destroyed monsters, and to prevent Bohman's attack, banished "Resume Mace", "Suspend Wand" and "Dotscaper", for the latter Special Summoned itself. However, due to the monarch's effect, "Dotscaper" could only be summoned in attack position. Playmaker tributed it to revive "Linkuriboh", who tributed itself to make Bohman's monarch's ATK become 0. Bohman smiled and ended his turn, though he wondered if Playmaker could cope with him. Ai apologized to Playmaker for his fault that they have been pushed into a corner. Playmaker replied he was just a hostage in the crisis, and only Playmaker made decisions, who was to use Storm Access to bail them out. Ai was intrigued, and showed that he just made a new program for Playmaker. In truth, he admitted that it was finished a long time ago, but kept it hidden for such situations, and Playmaker noted that kind of behavior was more fitting for Ai. Surprising Haru and Bohman, Playmaker went into the Data Storm to use his refined skill, Neo Storm Access.[71]

Bohman was interested in their new move, as Playmaker banished his Ritual Spell, "Cynet Ritual", and Ritual Monster, "Cyberse Magician", to summon two "Cynet Tokens". Bohman decided to wait for their next move to use the effect of "Rousing Hydradrive Monarch". Playmaker Link Summoned "Cyberse Wicckid" using the two tokens, and added "Cyberse Synchron" to his hand, from his deck. Bohman played his monarch's effect to attempt to destroy Playmaker's monsters and inflict LP damage. The result was, once more, the DARK attribute, but "Cyberse Wicckid" protected itself and "Cyberse Synchron", who were candidates for that effect. With the level of "Backup Secretary" doubled, Playmaker performed a Synchro Summon, using the latter and "Cyberse Synchron" as Synchro Materials. The dragon attacked Bohman's "Rousing Hydradrive Monarch", and its effect returned the latter to Bohman's Extra Deck. The dragon gained another attack through its effect, and went to attack Bohman directly. Bohman was in shock, as he played "Hydradrive Scabbard" from his GY to have Playmaker take the damage Bohman would take. Bohman and Playmaker took 1250 damage, and the Duel ended in a tie. Despite this, Haru fled with Bohman, who promised to face Playmaker in a different stage.[71]

Ryoken leaves Yusaku

Ryoken visited Playmaker.

Playmaker was nevertheless surprised by Bohman's evolution, and feared how strong would he become the next time they'd meet. In the real world, when Ryoken came to Kolter's food truck, Yusaku was surprised to see him as the customer. Ai thought the guy came for a hot dog, but Ryoken simply commented that Bohman escaped from Playmaker. He tossed a gift to Yusaku, and to answer Ai, he explained that the enemy would notice if he gave him the program in the network, so he could only personally give him the program. Ryoken was concerned Yusaku would be attacked directly, just like what happened to Jin Kusanagi, so the program should protect him from that offence. Despite Ai's protests, Yusaku installed the program, and Ai noted a powerful algorithm. Ai then asked Ryoken why he would give them this, since they were enemies. Ryoken simply stated with a common enemy, they were allies. He asked of them to survive the fight so that they could settle the score afterwards.[71]

Akira went to seek Playmaker out at a warehouse at night. Yusaku, who wore a hood, approached him from behind, and swore he would leave if Akira saw his face. Akira heeded his words, but questioned whether he really was Playmaker. Ai commented that Akira was distrustful, who was still surprised that Playmaker sought him out. Yusaku warned him about the two Ignis that were causing trouble in the network. Akira was in disbelief, as he was told that the Ignis declared war on humans. Ai wanted to stop Lightning, and while they did not know how would the war look like, Yusaku feared a much bigger threat than the Tower of Hanoi. Thus, they thought Akira could be the one to defend LINK VRAINS from that threat. Akira saw that he came to warn him of this threat. He turned around, but saw Playmaker was gone. The next day, Yusaku, Takeru and Kolter tried to find the two Ignis - Earth and Aqua - finding that he was lurking around LINK VRAINS, trying to find Aqua. He and Yusaku logged in, and split up to find Earth. Kolter discovered Earth's location in LINK VRAINS, and sent it to Soulburner and Playmaker. Playmaker went to get Earth, and found a bounty hunter, Gore, pursuing the Ignis. Gore swore to battle Playmaker, after he was done with Earth. While Ai wondered why Gore lost so much weight, Playmaker sensed something was wrong with Gore. When Gore set a monster, Ai commented that he changed his playstyle, too, making Playmaker wonder what was wrong with the guy.[72]

Playmaker questioned the Gore's actions. The latter explained that he had an AI installed into his body; with the technology integrated into his brain, the Gore could make perfect actions in the Duel. Ai commented he'd become "Ai Gore" if he were to be placed in the Gore's brain. Playmaker was still hesitant to believe an AI and a human can work as one. To prove he was right, the Gore promised to win the Duel, but Ai still had confidence that Earth would win. Ai cheered for Earth, and was glad that he was at the brink of his victory. However, he and Playmaker were surprised at Gore's Anti-Skill, which was created due to the AI in his brain, to counter Earth's Skill. Suddenly, the two were visited by Blue Girl, who commented the Duel. She declared she wanted to protect the Ignis, instead of fighting Playmaker. The three continued watching the Duel, and Ai was impressed that Earth protected "Crystal Heart", as it'd allow him to Special Summon "G Golem Dignified Trilithon". The Gore managed to defeat Earth, and absorb him. Playmaker demanded that the Gore frees Earth, as the Ignis was not the enemy. The Gore didn't care about that, and made Playmaker as his next enemy he wanted to crush. Playmaker tried to remind him that they were allies, but the Gore did not listen. Blue Girl tried to face the Gore instead, who was forced to log out, per the Queen's orders. Ai kneeled, and swore to rescue Earth someday.[73]

Ryoken met with Ai and Yusaku, to tell them that SOL Technologies had decompiled the EARTH Ignis. Ai wondered what "decompiled" meant, and laughed, thinking he was just disassembled. He continued laughing, reminding he restored himself from an eye, but Ryoken called him naive. Ryoken explained that SOL Technologies could not decipher the Ignis algorithm, and dissolved Earth into data, but he could not be restored. Ryoken smiled, but Ai became agitated, since he could not know what happened in SOL Technologies. Yusaku, however, believed a spy of the Knights of Hanoi was inside the company. As Ryoken continued smiling, Ai fell to his knees, troubled that Earth perished. He admitted he started to hate humans for such atrocities, while Ryoken simply left.[74]



Kolter is one of the very few people Yusaku actively interacts with. The two are close and work together to fight The Knights of Hanoi. Yusaku shows trust in Kolter's hacking abilities and even gave a brief smile when talking to him. Likewise, Kolter hopes Yusaku can one day enjoy Dueling again. Kolter also teases Yusaku about his poor social skills.

Even though Yusaku trusts, cares for, and respects Kolter, he still doesn't really consider him an actual friend, This is justified mainly because he can't think of anyone as a friend.

Naoki Shima (Brave Max)

When they met, Naoki tried to befriend Yusaku and Duel him, but Yusaku showed little interest and irritated Naoki by criticizing his Dueling and analyzing him, despite Yusaku saying Naoki isn't a bad person. Despite their initial encounter, Naoki continues his attempts to befriend Yusaku and he often sits with Yusaku during class, much to the latter's annoyance. Naoki is a big fan of "Playmaker", unaware that he's Yusaku. Yusaku has a tendency to forget Naoki's name repeatedly and keeps ignoring Naoki due to his belief that he doesn't need friends. However, when Naoki was kidnapped by Aso, Yusaku showed genuine concern for him.

Knights of Hanoi

Yusaku holds a deep grudge against the Knights of Hanoi and believes they're the culprits of the Hanoi Project. He swears revenge against Hanoi and fights them whenever they make an attack. The Hanoi consider "Playmaker" to be a threat and plan to defeat him in order to retrieve Ai which "Playmaker" had captured.


Ai sees Yusaku as a partner, but Yusaku considers Ai to be nothing more than an hostage he needs to gain the upper hand against the Knights of Hanoi in the first season. He threatened to delete Ai in order to challenge a Knight, and ignored his pleas not to go back to Link VRAINS. Yusaku has little patience for Ai's antics and often doesn't let him talk. Nevertheless, Ai supports Yusaku in his Duels, though he claims to do so out of a desire for survival. Ai also seems to enjoy teasing Yusaku, but knows when things get serious. Likewise, Yusaku follows Ai's advice when needed. Despite being rude to Ai most of the time, Yusaku slowly grows to care about him to some extent; this was seen when Ai was affected by Varis' "Fire Prison" or when the AI sacrificed himself to help Yusaku use Storm Access and smiled a little both times upon his return. Ai seems to have gradually warmed up to Yusaku and is keen on treating him like a friend, though the feeling is not mutual and often has to remind Ai that they're not friends and Yusaku is only keeping him as bait against Hanoi.

Despite his cold attitude towards Ai, Yusaku is rather quick to defend him whenever others become suspicious of him. When Ryoken told Yusaku about the dangers of the Ignis and proved that Ai had been lying about losing his memory, Yusaku remained adamant about not letting Ryoken destroy the Ignis at the cost of the entire Network and countless of lives and insisted that Ai is not evil. At the end of episode 46, he releases Ai. By how he looked at his Duel Disk (where Ai resided) and declining a ride home by Kolter, it is implied that he may miss Ai. Though three months later, Ai returned to Yusaku.

After Ai saved him and by season 2, Yusaku seems to have softened and warmed up to Ai and becomes less hostile to him. While the hacker still tells him to not talk, the order is less frequent and he appears to put a bit more trust in his Ignis partner. Now that his revenge against the Knights of Hanoi is over, Yusaku is beginning to see Ai more as a partner and less as a hostage, working alongside each other against their common enemy. Although he does not forwardly show it, Yusaku shows concern for Ai whenever the Ignis is hurt or missing. It is later revealed that the two are connected by their Link Sense, showing that the two have a deep connection with each other. Furthermore, Yusaku calms Ai down after he was enraged at Bohman and even accepted his advice to use Suspend Wand during his third duel with Bohman, showing how he really does see Ai as a partner.

Skye Zaizen (Blue Angel)

Skye and Yusaku are classmates, though Skye is not aware of his alter-ego but she seems to be suspicious of his identity as Playmaker after noticing he has the same duel disk as him and asked to see his deck in order to confirm his identity. As "Blue Angel", Skye is shown to develop an interest in Yusaku's alter-ego, "Playmaker", after he saved her from a "Cracking Dragon". She is shown to be grateful for "Playmaker" for saving her and she even saved him in return after he fell from his D-Board.

After Kolter figured out that Skye is "Blue Angel", Yusaku tried to get close to her in order to get a lead on Akira Zaizen and SOL Technologies regarding his past memories. Skye, on the other hand, believed Yusaku wanted her for her connections to SOL Technologies as many others had tried (which is technically correct, though not for the reasons she assumed), so she quickly dismissed him. Though she later approached him to say thank you for helping her while she was unconscious. She even ordered food from him while he was working at Café Nom, in a coy manner. Skye is also hinted to have feelings for Yusaku after he took her to hospital as she was shown to slightly blush while ordering a hot dog and coffee from him. He's also the only one she smiles at and greets warmly at school.

Yusaku was shocked when he discovered that Skye may have ties to the Knights of Hanoi showing that he never thought of her as an enemy, but he was still willing to duel her. He was visibly disturbed when Hanoi's card began damaging Skye so he rushed to end the Duel as quickly as possible, out of concern for her well being. After the Duel, Yusaku felt it was his responsibility to help Skye recover from her coma and willingly walked into a trap set by Ghost Gal.

Yusaku is shown to deeply care for Skye after he logged out following his duel with Varis he asked to Kolter if Skye is alright and after she recovered from her coma Yusaku is shown to be worried about her safety and well being that she doesn't attend school regularly and since her duel with him she stopped coming to LINK VRAINS. Ai also teases him for being worried about her or being linked with her which causes him to dodge the subject.

Blue Angel also seems to have a sense of rivalry with Playmaker, as she told the AI Duelist that she was the only one who would defeat Playmaker before taking over the duel for him. After hearing about Yusaku's traumatic past, Skye felt a great feeling of sympathy for him.

Yusaku once again works together with Skye when she teamed up with Aqua and became Blue Maiden. He also seemed happy to work alongside her as allies once again.

George Gore (The Gore)

At first, Yusaku was indifferent to Gore who considers his alter-ego, "Playmaker", to be his rival. Gore was mad at Playmaker for stealing his spotlight and this grew worse when the children at the city orphanage, which he volunteered and donated to, started seeing Playmaker as a hero instead of him. After defeating him, Yusaku acknowledged Gore as a worthy opponent and started to respect his Dueling style, and even admitting to have enjoyed Dueling him. When Kolter suggested recruiting Gore for their fight against Hanoi, Yusaku objected by saying that he did not want Gore to face this kind of danger.

After Gore defeated Dr. Genome, Yusaku became more willing to let Gore fight against Hanoi in the wake of the Another crisis and they have formed an alliance.

Before being absorbed by the Tower of Hanoi, Playmaker thanked The Gore for allowing him to observe Varis' tactics, The Gore in turn entrusted the rest to Playmaker.

After The Gore became a bounty hunter to hunt him down, Playmaker seemed disappointed by this and refused to duel him, later referring him as a new enemy. However, upon seeing Gore's new physique and tactics during his duel against Earth, he became concerned about his condition. After Gore defeated and captured Earth, Playmaker demanded he release the Ignis and tried to reason with him by reminding him of how they used to be allies, but to no avail. Thus, Yusaku reluctantly had to accept that Gore was no longer the same and is now a dangerous enemy.

Akira Zaizen

Despite having a brief interaction with Yusaku at the hospital he was grateful to him for locating his sister and informing him about her comatose status. He questioned Yusaku about his relationship to Skye and the latter responded they are only classmates.

On the other hand, Akira dislikes Yusaku's alter ego "Playmaker" for having stolen Ai. Akira grew to utterly hate Playmaker after his Duel against Blue Angel which resulted in Skye falling comatose. Akira immediately assumed that Playmaker was the culprit for Skye's predicament and worked with Ghost Gal to turn all of LINK VRAINS into a trap to capture Playmaker. Akira then mercilessly tortured Playmaker and refused to believe Playmaker's explanation that it was Hanoi's fault for Skye being comatose. However, upon being informed of his mistake by Varis, Akira reluctantly freed Playmaker and was surprised that Playmaker didn't hate him for what he did. He was grateful to Playmaker for saving Skye from the virus.

In their next encounter inside SOL Technology's database, Akira displayed pity for Playmaker after discovering the data he was after, even insisting that Playmaker trust him and reveal the truth in his stead. Compared to their previous encounter, Akira even demonstrates sadness for Playmaker, especially when he figured out that Playmaker is around Skye's age. Akira felt that Playmaker shouldn't waste his youth chasing after the Hanoi Project and wanted to handle the situation himself, only for Playmaker to immediately refute Akira's claims and maintained that he deserved to learn the truth himself.

When Specter held Akira captive, Playmaker refused to attack out of fear of hurting Akira, despite Ai and Akira also telling him not to worry about him. Later, Akira purposely let himself get infected with a virus to keep himself from being a burden to Playmaker, which filled Playmaker with vengeance towards Specter.

In Season 2, after learning about Lightning and Windy's plans to subjugate humans, Yusaku arranged to meet Akira in person and told him everything, despite his own reservations about SOL Technologies and masking his own identity in the process, showing that he trusts Akira as an ally.

Ryoken Kogami (Varis)

During the time Yusaku was captive for the Hanoi Project, Ryoken encouraged Yusaku to not give up and assured that he would be rescued soon, then saved Yusaku by reporting the kidnappings to authorities. Yusaku, unaware of who had saved him back then, had vowed to find whoever encouraged him and save his savior in turn. That became one of his motivations to continue on and take on the Knights of Hanoi despite being vastly outnumbered.

When first informed about a hacker named "Playmaker" who was defeating Hanoi members, Varis initially suspected Playmaker was an agent from SOL Technologies but rejected the idea because SOL would act more publicly and dismissed Playmaker. It wasn't until Playmaker captured Ai that Varis became interested in him. Varis then switched all his efforts into defeating Playmaker before SOL did, as doing so was the only way to capture Ai.

Playmaker, on the other hand, hated Varis for being Hanoi's leader and vowed to defeat him and discover his true identity. During their first Duel, Varis claimed that he wasn't interested in Playmaker's identity and considered him to be just another of the many people who hate Hanoi. However, during their second Duel, Varis recognized Playmaker's speech pattern of listing out three things and was disturbed when Playmaker mentioned a certain incident that happened ten years ago and subsequent desire for revenge. He chided Playmaker for siding with SOL Technologies without knowing the truth and, after the Duel, was eager to uncover Playmaker's true identity, to the extent of requesting more time from his father before the completion of Hanoi's program, in which the latter agreed under the condition it did not take too long.

When both Ryoken and Yusaku revealed they know each other's identities after Yusaku and Kolter broke into Ryoken's home, Yusaku was startled to learn that the one who "gave him courage" and saved him was his archenemy, but tried to convince Ryoken to abort Hanoi's plan to destroy the Network only for Ryoken to shrug off Yusaku and affirm that he's still Varis and therefore the two remain enemies. Yusaku only resorted to dueling Ryoken because he would not be convinced otherwise. However, Yusaku no longer hated and no longer viewed Varis as his enemy even as Varis still viewed Yusaku as the enemy. During their second Master Duel, Yusaku confessed that he had no friends—despite how close he was to Kolter and working with Skye and Gore—due to the deep abyss the Lost Incident had left in his heart, yet Ryoken and Ryoken alone had crossed that abyss. Yusaku repeatedly tried to convince Varis to walk down a different path with him and wanted to save Varis like Varis had saved Yusaku, wanting them to be friends.

Despite learning his name in his house, Yusaku still refers Ryoken by his LINK VRAINS' nickname, Varis.

Emma Bessho (Ghost Gal)

Emma showed an interest in Playmaker. After witnessing his duel against Blue Angel, Ghost Gal caught him in a trap under Akira's orders to interrogate him about Skye's condition. Her interest continued to grow after watching him defeat Varis and dueling him herself even admitting that he exceeded her expectations. The two then explored Link VRAINS underground, though Ghost Gal continued to deceive Playmaker by letting him go in the wrong direction which led to him and Ai being chase by a Data Giant. Before being turned into data Ghost Gal entrusted Playmaker with the data for the Hanoi Tower and attempted to warn him about Varis' dangerous card. Playmaker in turn was angry for not being able to save her and vowed to do so. After the ordeal Ghost Gal refused to join the hunt for Playmaker, feeling she owed him.

Takeru Homura (Soulburner)

Takeru is a fellow Lost Incident victim like Yusaku, who possess the fire Ignis, Flame. Although Yusaku was suspicious of him when they first met in person, he soon grew to understand and support Takeru after learning he's an ally. Since then, Takeru has served as a partner to Yusaku during their missions to find the remaining Ignis and stop the mystery duelist Bohman. Takeru is also very loyal and protective towards Yusaku, dueling Bit and Boot, The Gore, and Blue Girl so that Yusaku can move forward and complete his mission. Yusaku, in turn, sees Takeru as a partner and cares about him as seen when he shows relief after he regroups with him following his duel with The Gore and when he shows genuine concern for him when he falls prey to Blood Shepherd's trap. When Ai suggests running away, Yusaku firmly says he won't abandon Soulburner, showing that he cares about his fellow comrade. Yusaku also seems very protective of Takeru following the incident with Blood Shepherd, going on solo missions if he believes it may be a trap.



Yusaku and his monsters

Yusaku (as Playmaker) with "Decode Talker" and "Firewall Dragon".

Yusaku uses a Cyberse Deck. His main strategy involves using methodically calculated moves to overwhelm the opponent with Link Monsters. His early turns are usually slow, with him setting up his bigger combos for later while analyzing the opponent's strategies. Once his field is set up, he Link Summons multiple Link-1 and Link-2 Link Monsters at once to then use them as Materials for his stronger ones, such as the Link-3 "Code Talkers" and Link-4 "Firewall Dragon". His other Link Monsters can also act as support for his primary ones.

Decode Talker materializing

"Decode Talker" materializing into a real card.

After capturing Ai and unlocking the "Storm Access" Skill, he can obtain new Link Monsters when his LP are 1000 or below during a Speed Duel when a Data Storm is near. To this end, he usually allows himself to drop below 1000 LP. The Link Monsters gained this way expand his arsenal of monsters for the current Duel and future Duels alike and typically help turn a disadvantageous situation in his favor. As shown with "Decode Talker", the data of the Link Monsters added by his Skill can materialize into real cards with the proper equipment. In case the opponent tries to prevent "Storm Access" from activating by not dealing damage, Yusaku also uses cards with effects that require him to pay LP to get around it.

During his Duel with Gore, spectators likened this strategy to Gore's habit of letting his opponent take the lead, then making a comeback from a pinch.

Yusaku also used three copies of "Sphere Kuriboh" as shields during his infiltration of SOL Technologies' data bank. Whether or not they are in his Deck is unknown.[24]

First season


Second season

Yusaku continues to supplement his deck with Link Monsters gained from his "Storm Access" Skill and has received "Linkuriboh" from Ai. At some point after his Duel with Varis, Yusaku expanded his Deck to include Fusion, Ritual, and Synchro Summoning as a way to both bring powerful offensive monsters to the field and circumvent strategies designed to counter his Link Monsters. He supports these new Summoning methods with cards such as "Cyberse Witch" and "Clock Spartoi". He also shows less dependence on his "Code Talkers" than before.

Lost Memories/Ignis Warfare

Past Deck

Before getting his Cyberse cards, Yusaku used a Deck that focused on monsters that can Special Summon themselves in numbers, providing strong offensive power.


Additionally, Yusaku has a LIGHT dummy Deck for situations in real life where he has to show his Deck to other Duelists. The Deck is extremely basic, in addition to using very old cards, to make it seem like Yusaku is a regular untalented Duelist.[15]



Opponent Episode(s) Outcome
Unknown Duelist 11 Lose (flashback)
Unknown Duelist 19 Lose (flashback)
Unknown Duelist 19 Lose (flashback)
Knight of Hanoi 64 Win (flashback)
Ancient Ghost 65 Win (flashback)
Knight of Hanoi 1 Win
Knight of Hanoi 2 Win
George Gore/The Gore 4-5 Win
Skye Zaizen/Blue Angel 7 Win
Ryoken Kogami/Varis 9-10 DRAW
Ryoken Kogami/Varis 10-12 Win
Emma Bessho/Ghost Gal 14-15 Win
Prototype Ai-A 16-17 Win
Akira Zaizen 18-20 Win
Knight of Hanoi 24 Win
Aso/Faust 28 Win
Specter 35-37 Win
Ryoken Kogami/Varis 41-42 DRAW
Ryoken Kogami/Varis 43-46 Win
Bohman 47-48 Win
Kengo Dojun/Blood Shepherd 53-54 Win
Bohman 57-58 Win
Kenmochi 62 Win
Yoroizaka 63 Win
Earth 66-67 Win
Bohman 72-73 DRAW


  • Yusaku, despite having a personality very different from the previous protagonists, has several similarities to Yusei Fudo.
    • Both are incredible hackers.
    • Both have suffered great hardship in their youth.
    • Both are noble and look out for others.
    • Both will commonly have Duels while riding on fast vehicles.
    • Both are highly intelligent and have great strategic skills in Dueling.
    • Both have only lost Duels in flashbacks that take place prior to the beginning of their series.
      • However, Yusaku is the only protagonist who has never lost a Duel to another human.
    • Both possess similar monsters in their Decks.
      • Main Deck
        • Level 1 EARTH Normal Monsters with 100 ATK and DEF ("Protron" and "Unicycular").
        • Effect Monsters that can Special Summon a Level 2 or lower monster from its controller's Graveyard in Defense Position, with the targeted monster's effects negated, upon being Normal Summoned ("Cyberse Gadget" and "Junk Synchron").
      • Extra Deck
        • Primary ace monsters with 2500 ATK and defensive effects that focus on protecting other cards ("Firewall Dragon" and "Stardust Dragon").
        • Secondary ace monsters with a DARK Attribute, 2300 ATK, and offensive effects that focus on gaining strength from other monsters ("Decode Talker" and "Junk Warrior").
  • Yusaku is the first protagonist since Yugi Muto to perform a Ritual Summon.
  • Yusaku has the most amount of Duels that have ended in a DRAW out of all the protagonists.
  • When cornered in a Duel, before turning the situation around, Yusaku will often say "Is that so?" This is a reference to Yami Yugi's signature phrase before making his winning moves.
    • Also, his dub catchphrase ("It's time to link into the VRAINS!") is similar to Yugi's ("It's time to Duel!").


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 69: "Mission That Must Be Accomplished"
  2. "The Organization | [Jump Festa 2017] Latest Information Stage: 6th Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime". YGOrganization. December 17, 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 58: "Soul of Replica"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 41: "The Distorted Truth"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 19: "The Lost Incident"
  6. 6.0 6.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 11: "Neutralized"
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 43: "Birth of the Ignis"
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 64: "Turning Point"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 65: "Playmaker's Breath"
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 1: "Link into the VRAINS"
  11. 11.0 11.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 2: "Seize the Wind!"
  12. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 3: "Contact"
  13. 13.0 13.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 4: "Pain and Gain"
  14. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 5: "Down for the Count"
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 6: "True Blue"
  16. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 7: "Fallen Angel"
  17. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 8: "A Storm is Coming"
  18. 18.0 18.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 9: "Malicious Mayhem"
  19. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 10: "Eye of the Storm"
  20. 20.0 20.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 12: "Link the Circuit"
  21. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 13: "Playback"
  22. 22.0 22.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 14: "An Invitation"
  23. 23.0 23.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 15: "Camouflaged Chaos"
  24. 24.0 24.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 16: "Hack Attack"
  25. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 17: "Flawless AI Duelist"
  26. 26.0 26.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 18: "Wound Etched Into His Heart"
  27. 27.0 27.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 20: "A Piece of the Puzzle"
  28. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 21: "Story Time"
  29. 29.0 29.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 22: "The Deleted"
  30. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 23: "To Gore Or Not To Gore"
  31. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 24: "Dark Mask's Burden of Fate"
  32. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 25: "Virus Deck Operation"
  33. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 26: "Three Draws Leading to Hope"
  34. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 27: "Naoki Shima the Fighter"
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 28: "Final Commander of the Three Knights"
  36. 36.0 36.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 30: "Doorway to the Abyss"
  37. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 31: "The Final Trigger"
  38. 38.0 38.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 32: "Tower of Hanoi"
  39. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 33: "Angel With Blue Tears"
  40. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 34: "Sacred Tree"
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 35: "The Other Lost Incident"
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 42.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 36: "Pointless Justice"
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 37: "My Mother Tree"
  44. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 39: "Bullet Buried in Darkness"
  45. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 40: "The Thirst for Victory"
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 42: "Stardust Road's Guidance"
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 44: "Prisoner of Destiny"
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 48.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 45: "Duel in the Extreme Domain"
  49. 49.0 49.1 49.2 49.3 49.4 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 46: "The Circuit That Draws the Future"
  50. 50.0 50.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 61: "Despair from Darkness"
  51. 51.0 51.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 51: "Man Who Gave Up Charisma"
  52. 52.0 52.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 52: "Hero In Name Only"
  53. 53.0 53.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 47: "Playmaker Returns"
  54. 54.0 54.1 54.2 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 48: "Judgment Arrow"
  55. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 49: "Duelist Clad in Flames"
  56. 56.0 56.1 56.2 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 50: "Transfer Student Takeru Homura"
  57. 57.0 57.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 53: "Bounty Hunter Blood Shepherd"
  58. 58.0 58.1 58.2 58.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 54: "Terrifying Battledrone"
  59. 59.0 59.1 59.2 59.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 55: "To the Unknown World"
  60. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 56: "Blue Girl's First Battle!"
  61. 61.0 61.1 61.2 61.3 61.4 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 57: "Final Battle Above the Clouds"
  62. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 60: "Brave Max the Loser"
  63. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 62: "The Ominous Ghost"
  64. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 63: "Reincarnating Flame"
  65. 65.0 65.1 65.2 65.3 65.4 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 66: "Earth Ignis "Earth""
  66. 66.0 66.1 66.2 66.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 67: "AI's Longing"
  67. 67.0 67.1 67.2 67.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 68: "Secret Meeting"
  68. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 70: "Tuning Bullets"
  69. 69.0 69.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 71: "Declaration of War"
  70. 70.0 70.1 70.2 70.3 70.4 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 72: "Clear Perfection"
  71. 71.0 71.1 71.2 71.3 71.4 Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 73: "Light Blade that Slices Despair"
  72. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 74: "Captured Ignis"
  73. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 75: "The Demon Possessing His Heart"
  74. Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS episode 76: "Memories Brought Back"


  1. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 2.
  2. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 7.
  3. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 15.
  4. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 10.
  5. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 28.
  6. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 42.
  7. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 17.
  8. This card is obtained via Neo Storm Access in episode 73.
  9. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 54.
  10. This card is obtained via Storm Access in episode 48.