“The Arsenal Trading Card Game, one of the newest and most popular competitive card games to hit the market. With an easy to understand rulebook and easy to read card text, the game quickly became a sensation among card game enthusiasts and new players young and old. And with the impending release of the new Arsenal Holo-Suit, the game was set to become more real than ever before, with convenient health and power level counters built into the machine and holographic projections of weapons, armor, and spells to create an intense battlefield situation with every game.”
Ryan stopped reading the paragraphs on the webpage aloud as he finally reached the Store Locator. He had never played a card game or been to a local game shop, so he needed to find where one was. A few clicks and some typing later, he had an address, and he grabbed his wallet, keys, and jacket, running to the beat-up Camaro Super Sport his grandfather had given him on his seventeenth birthday. The car started on the third try, and soon was pulling out of the suburban driveway and onto the road into the city.
The four door Super Sport had just recently been repainted, the clean navy blue paint hiding many of the scratches in the old paint job almost perfectly. The car’s interior had seen better days, but Ryan had been steadily cleaning it out with the help of his father, though anything under the hood he knew next to nothing about fixing. But the car was serviceable, and that was what mattered to Ryan. As long as it worked, it could get him where he wanted to go.
When he finally reached the game store he smiled at how there was no line outside the door, like he’d seen at more than a few game releases. He parked the car and walked up to the building, zipping up his jacket against the early spring air as a slight breeze ruffled his dark brown hair. Once he was inside he spotted the counter, rushing over.
“Little late today, aren’t we?” The clerk asked, smiling as he looked Ryan over, “You’re here for the Arsenal Holo-Suit, correct?” Ryan nodded, looking at the boxes on the wall.
“Well, we’re all out of the standard suits, but we’ve got the deluxe models still.” The owner said, picking up one of the boxes, “Comes with a special pre-constructed deck using the two new card sets, plus a few boosters to help you customize it.” He set the box on the counter, and Ryan looked at the price.
“I didn’t come all this way to not get the game.” Ryan said, holding out the cash, “I was thinking of just buying packs, but if it comes with a deck and boosters then I’ll take it.” He had just enough after the tax, and the store owner smiled.
“Most of the players getting suits had their own decks and cards, so they didn’t need the deluxe box. There’s a rules insert and instructions for the suit inside.” He said, handing the box over to Ryan. Ryan smiled, taking the box and nodding. Then he saw a girl walking in with a suit already on.
“Please tell me there are going to be more players coming in.” She asked, putting her blond hair back behind her shoulders and adjusting one of the arm straps. She was wearing a black jacket over a navy blue tank top and black shorts, with black Converse sneakers, and with one look at Ryan holding the Deluxe box he could feel the disappointment mounting in her.
“You’re a newbie aren’t you?” She asked, looking him over. He wondered just how obvious it was, and he tried to look more experienced. She didn’t buy it in the slightest, but since he was the only one there, she sighed again.
“Well, newbie or not, I need to test my deck. Want to play a quick game outside?” The girl held up her deck, and Ryan considered it for a few moments before nodding slowly. She smiled, grabbing him by the arm and dragging him outside, opening the box for him and handing him the suit.
“You won’t need the instructions, I know how to get it on and off, and I’ll help you.” Within seconds she was putting the projectors on him, nearly knocking him to the ground in her rush. She was wicked fast, and Ryan wasn’t given any time to protest it before suddenly the whole ordeal was over and he was wearing the full set of projectors. His forearm projectors and the screens on the inside for tracking his power level and health fit snuggly, his chest sensors and deck holder ready and waiting, and even the leg mounted projectors were a perfect fit.
“Wow… How’d you do that?” He asked, looking over at her. She smiled, pointing out the suit she was wearing.
“Timed myself in case I had to rush to a duel. Now come on, get your deck ready.” She said, tossing him the box with the deck and boosters. Ryan quickly opened the main deck, figuring it would be enough to start out. She arched an eyebrow, but said nothing, as their suits linked up to prepare for the duel. Both of them shuffled their decks, cut the other’s, and slid their decks into the slots on their chests.
“I’ll go slow so you can understand me.” She said, smiling as he drew his opening hand. She had the first turn as the challenger, so he would watch what she did to understand how the turns worked. The health counter set itself to one hundred, and the power level counter displayed a big red zero, which Ryan took a few seconds to look at each and to look at the cards in his hand to understand what he had to do. A small ding from the girl’s suit snapped him back to attention, as the duel at last began.
“So, I’ll show you a little bit of how it works, since you’re a newbie and all. Each turn we get three actions, and we use those actions to draw cards and play them, and to attack each other. So for my first action, I’m going to draw a card.” The girl did so, putting the card with the others in her hand, “And then I’ll play an equipment card, Iron Lance.” A large knights lance appeared on her arm as she put the card in a slot on her suit. She then picked up another card from her hand, holding it out for him.
“And now, I’ll use the spell card Fireball to deal five damage to your health directly.” She said, putting the card in her discard slot and firing a ball of flame at him. It was just a hologram but he could imagine the heat as a ball of pure fire slammed into him and exploded. He watched his health meter tick away five points, and he looked to her and waited.
“Now it’s your turn.” She said, as the sound of a small bell rang from Ryan’s suit. He quickly looked at his hand, wondering what some of the cards did. There were yellow equipment cards, blue Magic cards, and some sort of Red card that had the word Reaction in its type block. He decided to draw a card first, looking through his hand again.
“I play the Equipment card Soulbound Saber.” He said, slipping it into his equipment slot, smiling as the blade appeared in his hand. It was a gleaming silver blade, and it raised his Power Level by three. The girl looked confused, but she began to smile again, making him a little uneasy.
“And I’ll also play Sword of Fire!” He put the card into the slot, but the hologram didn’t materialize. He tried removing and putting the card back in, but nothing happened. The girl began to laugh, and he scowled.
“What’s so funny?” Ryan demanded, wondering why his card wasn’t working and why she was laughing at him. He couldn’t believe he’d made a mistake already.
“Soulbound equipment removes any other equipment and prevents you from equipping anything but other Soulbound equipment.” This strange girl replied, chuckling, “You really are a newbie, everyone knows those cards are useless.” She smiled as her suit made a noise like his, indicating it was her turn. She drew a card for her first action, smiling as she looked it over.
“I cast the spell Minimize! It’ll cut your Power Level by half, giving me the advantage.” She said, putting the card into her discard slot. Ryan looked at her, wondering what would happen, before suddenly feeling very strange. He felt his stomach drop, and his body began to feel an immense pressure, squeezing on every part of his body until he shut his eyes as his joints began to ache. After several minutes, he could open his eyes again, looking around. Everything seemed to be changed somehow, larger and more detailed. He finally looked over towards his opponent, and suddenly realized the magnitude of the situation.
Standing before him was the girl, who had run over while his eyes were closed. But it wasn’t how close she was that concerned him. What did concern him was the fact that she now looked twice as big as before. In fact, everything looked bigger now.
“What have I done?” She asked, horrified with what she was seeing.