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A Deck Built for Two


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August 30th, 2013

Just after dinner

Claremont Academy, Games Room

Tona Baudin sat on the couch, huddled into herself, stealing looks at the women across the table from her. The young archer was wielding unfamiliar tools, weapons which she had never considered until today. She felt the stares of the other three young females, and glared daggers at the only thing left for her to choose.

"I don't see why we can't both be ninjas," she said, for the third time. She looked at Sam Vance, who was already shuffling her two decks of cards. "We both like sneaking. Why can't we both be... sneaky people?" She looked at the cards already in her hand, the Pirate deck. She had chosen it mainly because the pictures looked a bit more real than on the other cards; and now she was staring at the Alien deck. She knew she had to have two decks, but the combination reminded her uneasily of her trip to Sanctuary.

Tona's eyes shifted to Kristen and Jennifer, looking for support. She didn't really know the two other Claremont students very well, but apparently they were also dating, and Jennifer had a yen for board games. The idea of the four girls bonding over pieces of cardboard was evidently normal for this dimension, because Sam hadn't reacted oddly to the suggestion. Which was why Tona was here, feeling -- oddly enough -- quite at sea.

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"We only have one ninja deck," Sam points out. "Should've gotten up earlier, if you wanted first pick," she teases, shuffling one-handed with her long, pianist fingers. Always was a weird rule to the game, but hey, rules are rules.

Today, Sam sports a long-sleeved white blouse, on the poofy end, with the cuffs loosened a bit; she isn't sure yet if this card game's supposed to be anything goes. In the last couple months, she's let her pixie cut grow out into something more stylishly scruffy, and a little spiky. From her ears hang long, dangly, silver chain earrings that would be the worst idea in the world in a fight, secured on one end at the earlobe, and the other at a newer piercing in the upper ear.

"Don't worry, we'll change things up next game. Besides, you can do crazy stuff with aliens. Haven't seen how they go with pirates, but they're both pretty sneaky decks."

She does, however, know how her ninja fairies will go. She smirks devilishly, only miffed that somebody had to knick her wizards before she could make everyone cry with wizard fairies. Still, this can sow enough evil upon the other ladies. She knows Kristen and Tona quite well after all this time, though not so much about Jennifer. What better way to get to know her than to kick her butt in a card game?

Edited by Blue Rose
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Jennifer looked at her own set of cards, the wizard and steampunks decks as she shuffled the two. She had originally suggested they play Pandemic but Sam had suggested this card game instead and always being up for learning a new game, she agreed. She had really wanted to bring Star Trek Cataan but the game tended to take too long to teach to new players.

Watching her girlfriend shuffle her own cards, she noticed the modest ring she had bought the girl for her birthday and absently touched the matching ear cuff. "I just hope Steampunks and Wizards mix nicely, though I blame my little brother for my picking these two. James just won't stop going on and on about this high fantasy steampunk game he's working on," the African-American girl said.

Edited by Azuth65
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Kristin smiled sympathetically at Tona's discomfort as she shuffled her own decks, wondering exactly how Dinosaurs and Zombies might get along. "Don't worry Tona," she said with an easy grin. "I have no idea how to play either so we'll get along just fine looking silly together okay? I figure we should all just gang up on Sam seeing as she's the expert. Hopefully the dinosaurs let me drop a T-rex on her or something." 


The little Australian redhead glanced over at her girlfriend and her grin broadened as she caught the older girl playing with her ear-cuff. "Just don't make a bet with Jen here," she cautioned, her expression turning into one of mock-seriousness. "She's seriously devious when it comes to choosing stakes, you never know what you might find yourself doing."


After favouring Jennifer with a trademark cheeky grin Kristin held up her newly shuffled cards. "So how many cards do I start with on my quest to rule the world with prehistoric undead?"

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Tona made a flat noise of disapproval in her throat and reached out for the Alien deck. She dextrously shuffled it into her Pirate deck and looked over the rest of the table. Three spots dominated the center of things: an insect-like Hive with mantis-looking creatures covering its sides, a Supercomputer with a malicious grin carved from LEDs, and a ninja Dojo wreathed in mist and fog. Tona pointed at the dojo with one hand, still shuffling with the other. "If we blow up the dojo," she asked, "does the ninja deck still work?"

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"You would all gang up on little old me? So cruel," Sam responds in an overdramatic tone. "And gambling would be against school policy. It would make the game entirely too interesting." The coy edge to her tone, however, says 'bring it on.'

She draws her hand, then sets about explaining things. "Okay, so, everyone starts with five cards. The way each turn goes is, you can play one minion on a base," she gestures at the three cards in the middle, "and play one action. Then you draw two cards and it's the next person's turn. The rest is written on the cards, and they do all kinds of special stuff. You win by breaking bases. No, that doesn't stop decks from working. It gets you points. We all play minions on bases, and every minion has some strength number in the corner. When all of those numbers for all minions on a base adds up to the breakpoint on the base, it breaks at the end of the turn, and everyone with minions on that base gets victory points based on who had the biggest total on that base. There's a number for winner, runner-up, and third place. Normally, it's decreasing, but if you look at ninja dojo, second place gets more points than the winner. But the winner gets to kill a minion somewhere, because that's the ninja dojo's special thing." She points at the text on the card. "When a base breaks, we draw a new one and discard everything on the old one. First person to fifteen victory points wins."

She lets out a breath. "I'll start to show you how it goes. So, I play a minion..." She lays down a Leprechaun on the Secret Grove, the one with all the bugs. "This one has a power. If another player a weaker monster here, the Leprechaun kills it." Of course, the leprechaun is pretty powerful, so not a lot can go there. "Now, I play an action." She lays down a Flame Trap on the evil computer. "With this, the first time another player plays a minion here, that minion's killed and I discard this trap. Normally, I'd end my turn here, but this base," she points at the Secret Grove, the one with the bugs. "Says you can summon an extra power 2 or less monster there each turn. So I put a Ninja Acolyte there and end my turn." She draws two and looks at Tona, having pretty much locked down two out of three bases for now.

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Jen gave her girlfriend a wink, "I can't believe you still won't fess up to using your powers on that last pin. I've run the numbers, it is physically impossible for that hit to have knocked over the pin let alone have taken the other one." At the other girls' looks the scientist gave a somewhat embarrassed shrug, "Sometimes long flights are a good place to run physics equations.  I can't really practice messing with gravity while tens of thousands of feet in the air."


Setting her now shuffled deck on the table and holding her hand out over the stack, the African-American closed her green eyes and concentrated.  After most of a minute the topmost cards began to haltingly move upwards into her hand, as if the cards couldn't tell if they wanted to move up or down.  "Still working on that trick," she said, taking her starting hand and letting the extras fall back onto the pile.

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Kristin chuckled slightly at the accusation, then shrugged her shoulders at Tona and Sam. "She scientifically analysed our first date," she complained in her best attempt at an exasperated tone, then paused. "Well, second date. But not only that, she scientifically analysed it to accuse me of cheating to lose. See what kind of crazy I have to deal with here?"


That it was true wasn't the point.


With her innocence properly protested the Australian girl watched the gravity trick with interest while she gave her own cards one last shuffle, resisting the urge to one-up Jennifer by performing the task with telekinesis. "You're getting the hang of that pretty good now!" she noted as she drew five cards of her own, then regarded them critically. "If I don't have an action I just play a minion then draw two, right?" she asked with a raised eyebrow, then dropped a raptor on the remaining unoccupied base. "That can go there for now until I work out how to deal with mister leprechaun over there."


With her turn played she drew two cards and regarded them thoughtfully.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tona drew a card and looked at her options. She couldn't place something THERE because she didn't have anything powerful enough, and she didn't feel like being the one to sacrifice a minion to defuse Sam's trap. She ended up putting a Buccaneer down on the only empty Base on the table, the Ninja Dojo. That card would at least be impossible to destroy, since it just moved around instead.

"First date was interesting," Tona said, drawing a card and reshuffling. "Think it was... Mmm, crazy German lady making drugs. And there was dancing."

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Don't forget the part where I summoned the Freedom League. Because I'm awesome."

She hums cheerily as she lays down a tiger assassin, murdering the war raptor. Because ninja-style assassinations are the traditional means of dealing with velociraptors.

"Second date, Tona went car surfing," she adds, leveling the slightest gaze at her girlfriend. She's not about to let her live down a reckless move like that. "Also, milkshake."

With that, she drops an extra minion on the garden, an option closed off to the other players, bringing a gremlin onto the field. She ends without an action, as her hand's shrinking fast enough.

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"First date quickly devolved into a fight in the middle of Saint Geogre's Cathedral thanks to a bunch of jerks trying to steal some holy relics they have stored there.  Second date was a lot more normal, just bowling with a couple wagers to make things interesting," Jennifer said as she placed the escape hatch action card to cancel out Sam's flame trap before she placed an enchantress next to it.  Drawing her card from the minion and putting the minion back in her hand she reached for her two cards to finish her turn.


Leaning back in her seat she smiled, "Car surfing does sound pretty awesome.  Usually, when I'm not driving one I'm working under it."

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Kristin grinned quietly as the conversation moved on without anyone pressing her on the issue of whether she actually had cheated to throw that bet, then shook her fist at Sam in mock outrage as her poor 'raptor bit the dust. "Hey! No fair!" she protested. "You better watch out, those hunt in packs!"


Without another War Raptor in her hand to prove the point she set about starting the zombie invasion in earnest. A walker went onto the Evil computer base, and a Tenacious Z went into her discard pile, then she played a 'They keep coming' to drop another walker next to it before depositing a second Tenacious Z in her discards as well. "Can I use Zombie actions to bring dino-minions back from the dead?" she asked with a glance at Sam, unsure about the rule but grinning at the idea of a zombie-raptor.


With her turn finished she glanced over at Jen, blushing just a little. "I'm still embarrassed about that church thing you know. I can't believe I was so oblivious that I willingly got undressed in front of you like that!"


With another grin she explained for Tona and Sam's benefit. "Vicky bullied me into wearing a dress, see." She said. "And obviously I couldn't fight in it when the explosions happened, so Jen here says "You can borrow my spare clothes" and lets me get changed right there in front of her. "So sneaky she is! Although it might have helped that I'm a bit slow and I hadn't caught on that we were supposed to be on a proper first date..."

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"Milkshake was more dangerous," Tona said, completely straight-faced. "Led to kissing. Car surfing only lead to four, five days recovery."

She glared at her cards, trying to make them be better by force of will, as she considered the board. She moved slowly, placing another Buccaneer on the table, directly on top of Sam's fire trap. "Trap goes off," she said, craning her neck to read the card's text. "But he doesn't die. He goes over... here." The pirate relocated to the Grove. "And so the Ninja kills it. But it doesn't die, so it goes back... here." She tapped the computer. "And now, no more flame trap."

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Sam stops in the middle of considering her next move to look at Kristen, about to ask when the follow-up explanation comes. "Sneaky. I like it." She casts a conspiratorial to Jen, "So you got her in a dress, did you? Howdja do it? I still can't get Tona in a skirt." She flashes a cheeky grin and adds, "Let alone back out."

Her ninja acolyte uses its ability to swap into a significantly more powerful brownie from her hand, then she drops the acolyte back on the one base she doesn't have anything on. Then, she plays a delightful little card called Take the Shinies. Everyone who isn't her has the honor of discarding two cards, at random.

"Zombie stuff works fine on dinosaurs, and my tiger assassin only kills when I bring her out, not all the time." She directs the second part at Tona.

Her attention goes back to Jen. "Y'know, I think I'm in a pretty good spot. How interesting can you make a game, for someone feeling brave?"

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"To be fair Kris, I was a little busy struggling into my body armor to stop and take in the show," Jen replied to her girlfriend with a wink.  In reply to Sam gave back a similar grin.  "It was one part dress code for where we were going and another part of this Vicky friend of hers.  I understand threats of being teleported sizable distances were involved but when I asked Kristin just gets this sulky look on her face and says," Jen's voice puts an approximation of her telekinetic girlfriend's accent, " 'I don't want to talk about it'."


Jen allowed Sam to pick two cards from her hand after she shuffled them, losing a pair of steampunk cards.  The young woman then played her enchantress again and drew a pair of cards to end her turn.  "That depends Sam.  My last bet involved driving lessons in my Benz against a kiss.  That particular wager just isn't feasible for this game," she answered before continuing with well disguised false confidence, "But if you were thinking of a cash bet..."

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"You suck." Kristin informed her girlfriend flatly, although she couldn't manage to keep the amusement out of her tone when she did. "Vicky did threaten to teleport me a couple of times, but the kicker is that she's also very good at twisting arms. And I mean that literally. I will admit though, I don't mind how that dress looked once she got me into it. Was pretty cute."


The two discards from her hand turned out to be another War Raptor and a Walker, and she grinned in anticipation at the ever increasing size of the discard pile. It was nearly time for a proper zombie-dinosaur invasion. The talk of betting was getting a bit out of hand though, and Kristin delivered a light smack to Jennifer's shoulder. "No! Bad Jen bad! No betting for money with my school friends," she said with mock severity. "Even when you are pretty much just donating to them. Which you would be. And no betting Mercedes-rides either, else Tona's going to end up car-surfing on the back or something."


She played her cards, an uneventful turn with a walker and no action, biding her time in preparation for springing a major turnaround.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"There you go. Find someone who can throw me across the city. Then I'll wear a dress." For a challenge like that, Tona probably would go far enough to wear a dress. Not without complaining, of course, but she'd wear it.

The cards certainly seemed to be turning against the young archer. She drew a steady stream of Alien Invaders and fed them into the claws of Kristen's dinosaurs and the blades of Sam's ninjas. She managed to get a Wench down and secure a spot, but her deck was feeling colder and colder. She sat back and fixed Sam with a glare. "I am not betting against you, unless it's under a spot-light."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sam's face positively lights up and, as if on cue, a light shines down on the team from above. Well, the other three girls get brainomanced into thinking there's a light shining down. And not even all that well; Sam's not exactly using her A game on being silly.

"Sorry, I think you just did." While she's busy being smug, she shows Kristen the card Disenchant, which blows up an ongoing action. Then she taps on They Keep Coming. Best to try and avoid a zombiesaur invasion, non?

"So, Jen." As she turns her attention, she lays down another bit of meat to the table and draws. "Gravity powers. Those seem handy. Think you could chuck a fifty kilo weight four miles?"

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  • 4 weeks later...

"Sorry Sam but not really.  My powers aren't much to write home about compared to yours or Kris'.  I can alter my personal orientation with gravity allowing me to walk on walls like they were the ground or to jump fifteen feet straight up."


Playing an action card allowing her to draw a pair of cards she added, "Still, I've been experimenting and pushing my limits on what I can do but no, I can barely lift a handful of cards without sending the whole deck into the ceiling yet.  Sending fifty kilograms over six kilometers is a bit beyond my reach.  Though, give me twenty minutes in Radio Shack and I can have said weight pulling donuts in the soccer field."


After playing a minion and drawing the two cards to end her turn she leaned back and gave a playful grin, "No Benz rides?  What about the Tesla?"

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