Ride 2

"Go, Garmore [power: 21000]! Attack the enemy Gold Rutile [power: 10000]! Silver Wolf Slash!" Garmore attacked the enemy vanguard with tears of brilliant light imitating claw marks. The robotic samurai Gold Rutile was unable to endure the attack, and fell in the line of battle.

Scarlett – Person

3 –hand- 1

3 –soul- 2

4 –damage- 6

2 –counterblast- 0

Gareth, Beaumains -left column- Mr. Invincible, Tough Boy

Charjgal, Garmore(VG) –central column- Gold Rutile(VG), Oasis Girl

Silver Fang Witch, Battlefield Storm, Sagramore –right column- Empty, Empty

Winner- Scarlett

Before my opponent left the table, he left some disappointing words, "Man, that chick is strong for being a rookie."

"Hahaha! Three wins in a row! I'm on a roll!" I shouted out loud in laughter. I've been at the card shop all afternoon, playing a couple games of Vanguard. I've been having a good day so far. "Hey, Markus, wanna be my win #4?"

"I'd love to, but I'm still on shift." Markus replied behind his cashier counter.

"Ah, come on. You're always on shift!"

"Yeah, it's called "working," Red. I can't just take a break whenever I want."

"But you're the boss." I replied. "Can't you, ya' know, take a break whenever you want?"

"Still, my verdict stands."

"I'll be your opponent-" a short, weird kid stood in front of meat the other side of the table. His short rosy red hair combed to the side, thick rimmed glasses, and white button-up shirt and red tie shouted "I'm King Dork of this shop!"

"Who are you?" I asked him.

"My name is Belvedere Lockhart," He said with glee, "but you can call me "Billy." Everyone does. And who might you be? You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen."

Normally, I would take that as a compliment. From any other guy. But coming from this kid- I'm sort of crept out now.

"Erm, my name is Scarlett." I said uneasily. "That compliment is really creepy coming from a 5th grader."

"I'm not in the 5th grade; starting next fall, I'll be in the 9th grade." He replied. "But anyways, I couldn't help but hear you're on a winning streak. You wouldn't mind if I break that streak, would you?"

I just laughed at that terrible threat of his, "Kid, I'd like to see you try. Once I get a streak going, I don't intend on losing it!"

"Getting a little ahead of ourselves, I see. Pride comes before the fall, I guess."

"Well then, I'll just make you win #4 in the meantime. Markus will have to be win #5."

"Oh, and Scarlett," Markus began to mention, "Billy isn't like the other fighters you fought earlier. He proactively goes to tournaments and other competitions. Don't say I didn't warn you."

"He's right. Compared to the others you fought, I am a super genius when it comes to Vanguard." He said as he repositioned his glasses.

"I don't care if you have a Nobel Prize!" I shouted. "All this talk is making me bored. I just want my fourth win."

"Suit yourself."

The field has been set for us to start our fight. We both laid our starting vanguards on the field, and we both drew a hand of five.

"Let's make a deal- if I win, you'll be my girlfriend." He proclaimed.

"What? No. Only someone like you could get girlfriends like that!" I rejected his deal.

He gave off a heavy sigh, "Oh well, I tried. At least I can use you as practice. But I feel bad for you; you don't know the dangers my deck holds." Belvedere remarked.

"All I know is- you're going to lose this fight!" I flipped my vanguard face-up before he did. "Stand up, Vanguard! Grassland Breeze, Sagramore [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 0/power: 5000]!" I revealed.

"Stand up, Vanguard! Megacolony Battler C [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 0/power: 5000]!" He revealed.

I was appalled by his vanguard, which is a giant cockroach wielding a dagger; "Eww, you play with bugs?! You're a cockroach inside and outside the game!"

"Oh these aren't just any bugs I'm playing with, my lady. The Megacolony Crime Syndicate is full of insect criminals ready to take their prey by surprise. Even though you're only playing a trial deck, I won't be going easy on you."

"I guess I'll just have to exterminate your bugs, then! I draw!" I was given the first move. "I ride Evil Slaying Swordsman, Huagan [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 1/power: 7000]! I end my turn."

"I draw. I ride Karma Queen [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 1/power: 7000]. Battler C's effect activates from the soul- When I ride a Megacolony unit on top of it, I can move it from the soul and into an open rearguard circle. I move it behind Karma Queen."

I was astonished to hear its skill, "Huh? There are cards like that?"

"Oh dear, I didn't realize how much of a rookie you really are."

"Scarlett, starting vanguards that can do that are called Forerunners." Markus commented. "They're helpful in the sense that they increase field presence without using cards from your hand."

"Anyways, with a boost from Battler C [power: 5000], Karma Queen [total power: 12000] attacks Huagan [power: 7000]!"

"No guard!" Billy checked for a trigger, and revealed- Hell Spider [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 3/no trigger]. Karma Queen spread a volatile powder with her wings, which ignited Huagan into a fireball. "I check for a damage trigger-" I revealed Sacred Guardian Beast, Nemean Lion [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 2/no trigger]; "I didn't get a trigger."

"That's because your triggers are scared of the horror that is my Megacolony." Billy stated. "It's perfectly understandable, really. Everybody gets nervous facing Megacolony for the first time. Hehehe."

Scarlett – Belvedere

5 –hand- 6

1 –soul- 0

1 –damage- 0

0 –counterblast- 0

Empty, Empty –left column- Empty, Empty

Empty, Haugan(VG)- central column- Karma Queen(VG), Megacolony Battler C

Empty, Empty – right column- Empty, Empty

Dang, he's in the lead for damage, IThought to myself. I need to ramp up my next turn so I can be ahead of him. "I stand and draw! I ride Charging Chariot Knight [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 2/power: 8000]! Next, I call Knight of Elegant Skills, Gareth [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 1/power: 8000], and Knight of Superior Skills, Beaumains [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 2/power: 10000]! Take down his vanguard [power: 7000], Beaumains [power: 10000]! Attack!"

"Heh, I don't guard." He revealed Violent Vesper [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 3/no trigger].

"With support from Gareth [power: 8000], Chariot Knight [total power: 16000] attacks Karma Queen [power: 7000]! And since I have fewer cards in hand than you, Chariot Knight gains power +3000 [total power: 19000]!"

"I won't guard that attack either." I revealed Precipice Whirlwind, Sagramore [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 1/no trigger] for my damage check. Karma Queen shrieked in pain when she met the sharp sting of Chariot Knight's javelin.

"Oh dear, you're ahead of me now. I underestimated your power there, my lady. I never expected a newbie to be this strong."

"Serves you right; now I'm gonna have that victory in no time!"

Belvedere pushed his glasses back up to his face, "However, you are dealing with a Vanguard child prodigy. Your chances of beating me are currently only 35%. And that is my generous hypothesis. And it's about time I apply that hypothesis. I stand and draw! I ride Bloody Hercules [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 2/power: 10000]! His bee queen vanguard transformed into a giant Hercules Beetle wielding a pair of machine guns. "I call another Hercules, along with a Phantom Black [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 1/power: 8000]. Phantom Black [power: 8000] attacks your Chariot Knight [power: 8000]."

"I guard with Weapons Dealer, Gwydion [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 0/draw trigger/shield: 5000]-" Phantom Black managed to defeat Gwydion, but his attack was too weak to reach Chariot Knight.

"In that case, with support from Battler C [power: 5000], Bloody Hercules [total power: 15000] attacks the vanguard."

"No guard." Belvedere initiated his drive check, and revealed Raider Mantis [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 0/draw trigger].

"Draw trigger activated. I give my standing Hercules +5000 power, and I draw."

"Damage check-" I revealed Sleygal Double Edge [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 3/no trigger].

"But before I attack again, I'm going to activate Battler C's skill- I counterblast 1, move Battler C into my soul stack, and then you can't stand Gareth on your next stand phase!" Bloody Hercules shot a grenade filled with paralysis powder at Gareth; when it exploded, and Gareth breathed in the fumes, He had a difficult time trying to stand up.

When Billy declared the effect, I saw my Gareth card spark up violently. "What did you do to Gareth, Billy?!"

"I stunned him, Scarlett. This is a common ability amongst the Megacolony clan. They prevent enemy rearguards from standing on their owner's next stand phase. Meaning they are utterly useless for that turn!"

There are abilities that make your enemies units completely useless? I thought to mself nervously. I need to be more careful of this guy if he can do that.

"And now, my standing Bloody Hercules [total power: 15000] attacks your vanguard [power: 8000]!"

"I won't let it through! I guard with Silent Punisher [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 0/critical trigger/shield: 10000]!" The blue ninja boy Silent Punisher appeared from nowhere and took a barrage of bullets for Chariot Knight.

Scarlett – Belvedere

3 –hand- 5

2 –soul- 2

2 –damage- 2

0 –counterblast- 1

Empty, Empty –left column- Phantom Black, Empty

Gareth, Chariot Knight(VG) –central column- Bloody Hercules(VG), Empty

Empty, Beaumains –right column- Bloody Hercules, Empty

"Becoming a little intimidated, are we, Miss Scarlett? That's alright, not everyone can handle the pressure Megacolony produces. Because of Gareth being stunned, I'd say your chances of victory are now 28%."

"Never tell me the odds! I don't care about the odds, because I know I will still find a way to beat you!" I shouted.

"Someone sounds determined. Go ahead, then. Beat me. But will you be able, knowing now of what my Megacolony are capable of?"

"If you love your bugs so much, why don't you just marry them? It's my turn now, so I stand and draw!" He may be right; right now I might not be able to beat him. But that'll change this turn! "The glistening wolf appears in my time of need! His prideful roar unites his allies! Shine forth, my avatar- Great Silver Wolf, Garmore [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 3/power: 10000]!" A brilliant light engulfed Chariot Knight, and dissipated to show the proud Garmore. "I counterblast 2 to activate Garmore's skill- Prideful Howl! When he appears in the vanguard circle, I can search my deck for a grade 2 or lower Gold Paladin unit, then superior call it; I superior call Silver Fang Witch [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 1/power: 5000] from the deck! And when Silver Fang Witch is called in such a manner, I can soulblast 2 to draw a card!" I removed Grassland Breeze Sagramore, and Evil Slaying Swordsman from my soul stack to draw a card.

"Looks like you know how to use your Garmore card. But since your using a trial deck, your deck leaves no surprises for me."

"Maybe this will surprise you- I support Beaumains [power: 10000] with Silver Fang Witch [power: 5000], and attack your vanguard!"

"No guard." Belvedere revealed Transmutated Thief, Steal Spider [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 2/no trigger].

"Then I attack your vanguard [power: 10000] with Garmore [power: 10000]!"

"I guard with Shelter Beetle [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 0/critical trigger/shield: 10000]. You'll need 2 triggers if you want to pass."

"In that case, I do my twin drive! First check-" I revealed Battlefield Storm, Sagramore [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 3/no trigger]; "second check-" I revealed Fortune Bell [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 0/stand trigger]; "I got a stand trigger- I stand Beaumains and give him +5000 power! Now I attack with Beaumains [total power: 15000] against your vanguard [power: 10000]!"

"I won't guard that." He revealed Megacolony Battler B [Clan: Megacolony/ Grade 1/no trigger] as damage.

"Hah, now I'm in the lead!" I gloated.

"Indeed you are, but do you think I didn't want that to happen?"

"What do you mean?"

"Allow me to show you." He replied. Markus stopped what he was doing, and watched out game closely. Belvedere lifted his arm high with a card in hand, chanting- "O evil ruler of insects, don your black armor, and show your enemies that the King of the Colony means business! I ride Martial Arts Mutant, Master Beetle [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 3/power: 11000]!" Bloody Hercules was replaced by a giant sword wielding Stag Beetle, known as Master Beetle.

"What is that thing?!" I shouted. "It's horrendous!"

"This is the strongest unit in my deck- Martial Arts Mutant, Master Beetle." He answered. "You can even call it my avatar. With this unit, your chances of winning dramatically drop to 16%."

"Just stop with the statistics! You're telling me them like you've already won! If you haven't forgotten, I'm in the lead by just 2 damage."

"Ah, but I already have won, my lady. You just don't know it, yet. I move Phantom Black back, and call Violent Vesper [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 3/power: 9000]. When I call him to the vanguard or rearguard circle, he lets me reveal the top card of my deck. If I reveal a Megacolony unit, I can call it to rearguard." He reveals the top card, it was- Stealth Millipede [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 1/power: 6000]; "Perfect. I call this Stealth millipede behind Master Beetle. I attack Garmore [power: 1000] with Bloody Hercules [power: 10000]."

"I guard with Precipice Whirlwind, Sagramore [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 1/shield: 5000]!"

"With a boost from Stealth Millipede [power: 6000], Master beetle [total power: 17000] attacks Garmore [power: 10000]. But not before I activate Master Beetle's limit break! Gravity Aura-!" his vanguard card glowed a sickly green aura.

"What? What does it do?"

"If Master Beetle attacks while I have 4 or more damage, I can counterblast 2 and choose up to 2 of your units, and those units can't stand on your next standphase; sorry Beaumains and Gareth, but you aren't standing next turn!" When he counterblasted, both Beaumains and Gareth's cards sparked erratically.

"No way; now I can't boost Garmore or attack with Beaumains!"

"That's exactly the point! But that's not all- when Stealth Millipede boosts a Megacolony vanguard while all of my opponent's units are rested, Master Beetle gains extra +4000 power [total power: 21000]!"

"Rrgh-" I looked at my hand- all I had to guard with was: Nemean Lion [shield: 5000], Fortune Bell [shield: 10000], and a Haugan [shield: 5000]. I need to use practically all of these to block that attack. I think I'll hold onto these for now. "No guard."

"Twin drive check. First check-" he revealed Iron Fist Mutant, Roly Poly [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 2/no trigger]; "second check-" he revealed Sharp Nail Scorpio [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 0/critical trigger]; "Bad idea not guarding that- now I give Violent Vesper +5000 power, and Master Beetle keeps the extra critical." Master Beetle raised his sword, and violently struck Garmore down with a swift action.

"I check for a damage trigger. First check-" I revealed Battlefield Storm, Sagramore [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 3/no trigger]; "second check-" I revealed Knight of Elegant Skills, Gareth [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 1/no trigger]; "no trigger."

"That's too bad. If you pulled a trigger, you would've had an easier chance of surviving this next attack. With support from Phantom Black [power: 8000], Violent Vesper [total power: 22000] attacks your vanguard."

"Rgh, I guard with Fortune Bell [shield: 10000], and Nemean Lion [shield: 5000]!"

Scarlett – Belvedere

3 –hand- 4

3 –soul- 3

4 –damage- 4

2 –counterblast- 3

Empty, Empty –left column- Violent Vesper, Phantom Black

Gareth, Garmore(VG) –central column- Master Beetle(VG), Stealth Millipede

Silver Fang Witch, Beaumains –right column- Bloody Hercules, Empty

"What's wrong, Scarlett? What happened to that confidence you had earlier? You had me convinced you'd beat me." Markus taunted while he fixed his glasses. "Oh well, I guess it's just bloated arrogance new players get very often."

"I'm figuring out a way to beat you, as I promised!"

"Oh, so now it's a promise. I gotta admit your hot-headedness suits you as much as your beauty." This kid still insists on creeping on me?

"Anyway, it's my turn. Stand and draw." With his Master Beetle's limit break, he greatly hindered my attacking ability. But I think I can fix his stun with a stand trigger; his abilities only prevent standing on the standphase. It's worth a shot. "I call Evil Slaying Swordsman, Haugan [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 1/power: 7000], and Battlefield Storm, Sagramore [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 3/power: 10000]! I support Sagramore [power: 10000] with Haugan [power: 7000] and attack your vanguard power: 11000]; I counterblast 1 to give Sagramore +3000 extra power [total power: 20000]!"

"I don't guard." He revealed Paralyzing Madonna [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 1/no trigger] for damage.

"Now I attack Master Beetle [power: 11000] with Garmore [power: 10000]; then Garmore's limit break activates, giving him +5000 extra power [total power: 15000]!"

"I guard with Raider Mantis [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 0/draw trigger/shield: 5000], then intercept with Bloody Hercules [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 2/shield: 5000]. Two triggers to pass."

I know it's a little risky, but I need to check a stand trigger. "I do my twin drive! First check-" I revealed Sleygal Sword [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 2/no trigger]; come on, next one needs to be a stand! "Second check-" I revealed Sleygal Dagger [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 1/no trigger]; "No trigger." I said disdainfully.

"Oh, I see what you were planning- you were planning on checking a stand trigger to stand your Beaumains. You clever girl!"

"Look, my plan failed, okay? Just take your turn already." My total defense accumulates to 15000; if I play carefully next turn, I may have a chance of winning.

"I gotta say, my lady. This is the most interesting fight I had with a noob. Sadly, this is where it ends. This is my hypothesis- I assume one of the cards in your hand is a grade 3, seeing how you couldn't guard with it my last turn. If that's the case, then you only have 15000 total shield to defend with." I might as well actually show him my hand, since he hit the nail right on the head. "Stand and draw. I'll make sure to drain every point of shield you have. I call Tail Joe [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 2/power: 8000], and Megacolony Battler B [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 1/power: 6000]. With all of your units resting, Tail Joe gains +3000 power [power: 11000]. I combine Battler B's power with Tail Joe's [total power: 16000] to attack Garmore [power: 10000]."

"I guard with Sleygal Dagger [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 1/shield: 5000], and intercept with Beaumains [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 2/shield: 5000]!" Both the knight Beaumains and the dagger wielding wolf Sleygal were slain by the giant millipede Tail Joe.

"With a special boost from Stealth Millipede [power: 6000], Master Beetle [total power: 21000] attacks Garmore [power: 10000]; but not without activating Master Beetle's limit Break!" Here it comes, I thought to myself. "I counterblast 2 to prevent Gareth and Sagramore from standing; Gareth and Sagramore, be crushed by Gravity Aura!" As Belvedere commanded, Gareth and Sagramore were enveloped in a malevolent gravity aura, preventing them from standing.

"I don't guard!" If he pulls a critical trigger now, I'll be done for!

"Of course, I know you can't. Let's take a look at the twin drive. First check-" he revealed Phantom Black [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 1/no trigger]; "Second check-" he revealed Bloody Hercules [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 2/no trigger]; "no trigger that time."

"Then I'll do my damage check." If I can pull just any trigger, I can defend against his Vesper's upcoming attack. I revealed Precipice Whirlwind, Sagramore [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 1/no trigger] as damage. My felt dropped instantly at its sight.

"Oh well, that's too bad. Now you can't defend against Vesper's attack. With a boost from Phantom Black [power: 8000], Violent Vesper [total power: 17000] attacks Garmore [power: 10000] for the win. It's pointless to declare a guard now."

No, it can't be. My winning streak can't end like this. Not to the likes of him. Since I had to take that attack, I had to check damage. "D-damage check-" I anxiously picked up the top card of my deck. I slowly turned it around, revealing Elixir Sommelier [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 0/heal trigger]. "Alright! I pulled a heal trigger! I heal one point of damage!" I said as I took 1 facedown card in my damage zone, placed it in the drop zone, and replaced it with Sommelier.

Scarlett – Belvedere

2 –hand- 4

3 –soul- 3

5 –damage- 5

2 –counterblast- 5

Haugan, Sagramore –left column- Violent Vesper, Phantom Black

Gareth, Garmore(VG) –central column- Master Beetle(VG), Stealth Millipede

Silver Fang Witch, Empty –right Column- Tail Joe, Megacolony Battler B

"I'm surprised you pulled a heal trigger. Now you have one last turn to beat me" He said. "However, you're not going to get a single hit through this turn. Your chances of winning are now officially 0%."

"You haven't won it, yet! This is where I pull out all my stops, and attack you full force! Stand and draw! I call Sleygal Double Edge [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 3/power: 10000]!"

"Huh, so that's the grade 3 you were hiding."

"Every time I draw this card, I keep this in my hand until I feel to give one last push in the game, and here's why; when I counterblast 1, he gains +2000 power as long as I have four or more other Gold Paladin rearguards. So, I counterblast three times, to give him +6000 power [total power: 16000]!"

"You're right, that card is good for the final push."

"Garmore [power: 10000] attacks Master Beetle [power: 11000]; with limit break active, Garmore gains +5000 power [total power: 15000]!"

"I guard with Sharp Nail Scorpio [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 0/critical trigger/shield: 10000]." The yellow scorpion appeared in front of Master Beetle, blocking Garmore's attack. If Garmore would receive 2 trigger bonuses, he can get past the defense.

"I check my twin drive! First check-" I revealed Battlefield Storm, Sagramore [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 3/no trigger]; "second check-" I revealed Silent Punisher [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 0/critical trigger]; "I got a critical! All the effects go to Sleygal Double Edge [total power: 21000/crit: 2]!" Sharp Nail Scorpio disappeared from the battlefield, successfully guarding its master. "Now with a boost from Silver Fang Witch [power: 5000], Sleygal Double Edge [total power: 26000/crit: 2] attacks Master Beetle! Just try guarding against this!"

"With pleasure; I perfect guard- Paralyzing Madonna [Clan: Megacolony/Grade 1/shield: 0]."

"Huh? "Perfect guard?" I don't get it, it has 0 shield. How is that going to block my attack?"

"I'm glad you asked- see, if I guard with a perfect guard, I can drop a card from my hand to render one of your attacks useless against my vanguard." When Billy dropped Bloody Hercules from his hand, Madonna spread a paralyzing powder across Sleygal, preventing it from hitting. "Your attack is nullified."

"What? No way!"

"You underestimated my hand size when you attacked. My hypothesis has now become a true statement- you have a 0% chance of surviving this turn. I stand and draw. Master Beetle [power: 11000], accept the power from Stealth Millipede, and strike Garmore [power: 10000] down!" Master Beetle's sword came crashing down on Garmore and defeated the Gold Paladin opposition. Nemean Lion [Clan: Gold Paladin/Grade 2/no trigger] was revealed for my last damage.

Scarlett – Belvedere

3 –hand- 4

3 –soul- 3

6 –damage- 5

5 –counterblast- 5

Haugan, Sagramore –left column- Violent Vesper, Phantom Black

Gareth, Garmore(VG) –central column- Master Beetle(VG), Stealth Millipede

Silver Fang Witch, Sleygal Double Edge –right column- Tail Joe, Megacolony Battler B

Winner- Belvedere

"I…I can't believe I lost to you. I was so close at winning, I almost tasted it." I said in shock.

"Hey, my deck was built for competition. Your deck is built to play out of the box. Of course your deck was going to lack some power to beat mine." Billy replied. "And now, since you lost, you'll have to be my girlfriend."

"Hey! No! I didn't even agree to that deal! Let it die already! And besides, I don't date anyone shorter than me."

"That's saying a lot, since you're only 5'5." Markus remarked from the register.

"I'm actually 5'6 now, Markus!"

"Don't worry, my lady. I was only joking the second time." Billy chuckled out loud. "If you want another rematch from me, you'll first have to rebuild your deck. It's no fun playing against a highly predictable deck."

"Why can't we just rematch right now?"

"Because playing rookies takes a lot out of me. In fact, you've tired me out for the day. I hope I'll see you soon." Belvedere left the card shop. Finally he left; he was starting to bug me.

"Hey, Scarlett, could you come here for a sec?" Markus asked from the counter.

"What is it?"

"I have something to tell you." I was curious about what he wanted to say, so I went over to the counter. "I watched your game with Belvedere."

"Is that all you have to tell me?"

"Not quite. I noticed you were really obsessed with winning. I think that's probably why you lost."

"Oh, come on, that's ridiculous! If you even watched, you would know that he used one of those perfect guard thingies on my last turn. That's why I lost."

"True, he did draw it a few turns early. But do you know why he drew it?"

"Pure luck?" I answered.

"Well…yeah. But it's more complicated than that. The way I see it, the deck is an extension of its fighter. It reacts to its fighter's emotions and ambitions. You wanted to win very badly, but your ego was bloated because of it. Something the Gold Paladins cannot deal with. They distrusted you from winning."

"Pfft, whatever. You can make up whatever you want, Markus. It's not gonna make my loss feel any better." I grunted in my arms.

"But Belvedere was also right about your deck not having enough fire power to beat him. I mean, his decks were built for competition after all."

"Yeah, well, I don't have the cards to customize my deck. So what am I to do?"

"I'd recommend you buy a booster box." He suggested. "That could give your deck some added fire power. Maybe even enough to beat Belvedere. All you really need to do is switch one card out with another, and your deck suddenly works differently."

I immediately slammed about $70 onto the counter, "Fine, I'll take a box!"

"Whoa, how did you know they cost that much?"

"I didn't. I just thought this was enough to buy at least two."

He looked at me questionably then sighed, "No, one box costs that much. But oh well, I'll see what I have." He looked through the shelf of boxes behind him for the right one. "So, Scarlett, did you watch the tournament yesterday?"

"Hmm? No, it was about over when I turned on. I only saw the last turn or two. A weirdo used a Narukami deck, and some emo used Dark Irregulars, or something. Narukami guy won."

"That guy is Kenneth Madison." Markus remarked. "He actually comes from this immediate area. Ah, here it is-" he pulled a booster box from the shelf. "I believe this is the right one."

"Breaker of Limits?" I asked puzzled.

"Yeah, this has some Gold Paladin support that you might need. I assumed you specifically wanted their perfect guard, and this box has it. I'm not guaranteeing you'll find one, though."

"I bet you I will find one." Markus handed me the box.

"Oh, and Scarlett, just try not to obsess over winning. I get you're excited to win matches for a change, but that just sucks the fun out of the game."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah; I'll do my best." I left the card shop when there wasn't anything else to do. I'm still not used to hanging out with people like that, yet.

I opened the box when I got home. Pack after pack, I searched for a perfect guard. But I couldn't find one. I went through all of the packs, but not one popped up. Man, why are they so hard to find? I thought to myself in frustration. I practically wasted $70 for nothing. I only wanted a perfect guard.

I examined The Gold Paladins that I did manage to get. I managed to pull some extra criticals, a new starting vanguard, and some cool grade 3's. That kid Belvedere called my deck "predictable?" Let's see how predictable it is when I'm finished customizing. Then I'll beat him for sure.

For the entire day, I spent a lot of time thinking about which cards to keep in my deck, and which to switch out. At times I was getting headaches, because I must've been thinking too hard sometimes. Plus, these cards cost $70; no way am I letting that go to waste on these things. By the time I finished, my head felt like it was gonna burst!

There were cards sprawled all over my desk. I was so exhausted I couldn't keep my head up. My eyes felt heavy. I couldn't fight the sleepiness

"Finally…it's finally done…" I said in a fatigued tone. "My deck is finally done. Now I…can finally beat…that guy. I'll teach him…not to break…my winning streak…" I couldn't fight the sensation anymore. My head immediately dropped like a rock onto my desk. I closed my eyes, and slept right on my desk.

I never knew card games would take up so much time and energy.