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 Under a piercing blue sky, a strong wind caresses the skin of those it faced.
 Wind tunnels created these gales in between the high-rise structures. Typically, people walking down the streets would grimace, squinting their eyes or holding down their clothes against the gusts.

 However, standing there today is a bespectacled young boy who goes by the name Winr, a member of the debug team. His hair streaked with golden highlights flutters, and he seems to revel in the breeze that threatens to sweep his slight frame away.

 He finds comfort in the breeze, likely because it was associated with the rustling of greenery. Winr ponders as he stands in an area of Lacuna known as the Invasive Forest City of the Emerald Coast, a place resembling an Earth where humanity had gone extinct. Buildings are overrun with flora, their walls adorned with grass and trees that whisper in the wind.
 While it is easy to dismiss this as mere virtual reality, the sight of these all-too-realistic ruins evoke a sense of humanity's insignificance, sowing a sobering perspective.
 Winr is slightly away from the lively central area that functions as the tutorial zone and is usually bustling with beginners. He much preferred the surrounding quiet of this area.

"Be careful, Winnie, you might get blown away!"

 Interrupting the silence, a high-pitched voice mixed with a faint buzzing sound approaches from behind Winr.
 It is a small Digimon whose body is yellow with dark brown stripes, unmistakably bee-like. The rounded limbs and round eyes give the Digimon a plush toy cuteness, but its sharp stinger is a clear sign that its warning stripes are not just for show.

"You need to take shelter when the wind gets strong. You're so small after all, Winnie."

 The Digimon expresses genuine concern, causing Winr to frown and adjust his glasses.

"You're the one who can't move. You have to hide behind little old me, FunBeemon."
"Can't help it. I get blown away easily, and you'd have a hard time finding me."

 FunBeemon buzzed back somewhat boastfully, which made Winr sigh.

"Why are you sighing? If you're so bored, I can leave," FunBeemon scolded.

"No, it was you that said we should come here, FunBeemon," Winr shrugged. He had been led here to Emerald Coast by his partner without really knowing why.
 Yet, at his words, FunBeemon cocked its head, puzzled.

"No, no, it was you, Winnie. Don't try to paint me as the fool."

 As they stared at each other dumbfounded, the green-tinted wind blew past them once more.

DEBUG.2-1 Winr

"Because you've been looking all sulky and lost in thought today, Winnie!"
"Yeah, I'll admit that. And?"
"And while I was watching you, you were looking at the Emerald Coast map and mumbling to yourself."
"I may or may not have been mumbling, but yes, I was definitely looking at the map."
"So I thought, surely Winnie has some important business in the Emerald Coast, so I suggested we go."
"See, you were the one who suggested we come here."

 And so, after a lengthy back-and-forth over who had suggested the trip, the modest debate ends with Winr claiming victory.

"But, Winnie, your face lit up when I suggested we go."

 Winr shakes his head at FunBeemon's persistence. Yet, his typically unexpressive face softens slightly.

"Well, I was certainly thinking about coming here. So, thank you, FunBeemon."

 FunBeemon is a very perceptive Digimon. It can pick out the desires and intentions behind others' words and actions like extracting nectar from a flower. Then, it usually proactively and amiably attempts to help out.
 For an 11-year-old boy like Winr, who is often seen as difficult and moody, FunBeemon's companionship sometimes provided a significant relief.
 Since meeting FunBeemon, his life has changed significantly. He has become slightly more proactive in forming connections with others, which he had previously considered a futile endeavor.

 So, he is always grateful. The gratitude infused in Winr's words caused FunBeemon, who had looked somewhat disgruntled, to hide its discontent and twitch its antennae shyly.

"So, what were you thinking about, Winnie?"

 “I guess I got a little ahead of myself.” Winr thought as he opened the menu screen so FunBeemon could see.

"So, I heard this from Yuuki..."

 Yuuki is a member of the same debug team as Winr and has been his friend since the beta test. She is a rare ally and friend for Winr, who doesn't have many.
 Her partner, the snarky Impmon, gets along well with the considerate FunBeemon. Even a year after the service launched, they often find reasons to talk.
 It was Yuuki who first approached him. Initially, Winr was bewildered and overwhelmed by her cheerful and intense personality, but gradually, he began to share his tips on gameplay and knowledge about Digimon with her.
 Eventually, Yuuki started calling him Teacher despite them having a similar number of years of experience with the Digimon Card Game. She is also nearly a decade older than him. Winr doesn't mind the nickname, so he has never asked her to stop using it.

"Remember I told you before? About Yuuki finding that strange card."

 FunBeemon nodded. Yuuki and Impmon obtained an unknown Digimon card from a rogue NPC and then used it to win in a rematch. This sparked lots of curiosity among their teammates due to its mysterious nature.

"Yuuki got so pumped after defeating that rogue NPC and foolishly decided to try her luck in the main scenario battle."

 The main scenario is the core content of Digimon Liberator, where players can enjoy a story unfolding across Lacuna through conversations and battles with NPCs.
 While unnecessary for those solely focused on PvP, many players are drawn to the grand narrative involving the fate of Lacuna and the exclusive rewards from story missions.
 The debug team is no exception. Battles against rogue NPCs can risk data corruption upon defeat. Typically, it would be reckless to immediately dive into such a mission with a new deck assembled from unfamiliar cards.
 Adjusting one's deck and testing one's skills in the main story and other standard battles is common practice.

 However, it seems Yuuki and Impmon did precisely the opposite.

"And so, she went all pumped up to the Emerald Coast’s ruins..."
"And then?"
"She got utterly destroyed by the boss's Tlalocmon."
"Oh dear."

"'Seriously, it was a total wipeout! Tlalocmon came out, and just as we were trying to understand its effects, bing, bam, then boom! It was all over!'"


"That's what she said as Impmon dragged her off for a scolding." Winr recounts.
"I can picture it..."

 Even from Winr's brief explanation, one could vividly imagine the boisterous exchange between Yuuki and Impmon. FunBeemon chuckles. Some things about them hadn't changed since they first met.

"So, are you thinking of challenging the opponent Yuuki lost to, Winnie?"
"Yep. That's the plan."

 FunBeemon's eyes sparkle at Winr's response.

"Are you looking to avenge her?"
"Absolutely not."

 FunBeemon blinks in surprise at Winr's quick response.

"Oh really? I thought you were planning to take revenge on her behalf."
"I don't engage in such pointless actions." said Winr.

Even if he defeated the opponent, it wouldn't make Yuuki feel better. In a way, card games are a battle with oneself. Moreover, since the opponent is an NPC that can be challenged repeatedly, overcoming it with her own crafted deck and strategy would be the best way to gain a sense of accomplishment.

 “But,” Winr added, "If it's an opponent that's defeated Yuuki, I think it's a good opportunity. I don't like the idea of her always being the center of attention... And I also want to test out my new deck."

 Saying this, he navigates the D-Storage on his waist, opening his library. Over the past year the considerable allowance negligently given by his hands-off type parents had allowed him to amass an impressive collection of cards.
 Yet within that collection a few cards stand out distinctly. Seeing them, FunBeemon's eyes lite up.

"Ah, those are the new cards, aren't they!"

 Shortly after Winr and FunBeemon heard about the peculiar cards Yuuki and her team had acquired, they were on a routine mission where they subdued a rogue NPC and Winr received a strange notification on his D-Storage.

[You got an ability item for a Tamer Card.]

 It was the same sudden acquisition of an item Yuuki had told them about.
 Though he had heard about it, experiencing it firsthand was perplexing.
 Naturally, as a member of the debug team, he had a duty to investigate. However, as a player Winr's interest was piqued by the item's unusual text.

[Main: By suspending this Tamer, digivolve 1 of your Digimon into a face-up Digimon Card in your security stack. If this effect digivolved, you may place 1 Digimon Card with the [Royal Base] trait from your hand on top of your security stack face down.]

 This could bolster the strategy employed by Winr's deck—a strategy considered unusual even within the debug team.

 Placing cards in the security stack face up. When he first demonstrated his deck in front of Yuuki, he remembered her blinking in confusion.

The security stack consists of face-down cards. This serves as a defensive barrier that protects the player. If attacked when there are no cards in the security stack, you lose the game.
 Some cards have effects that activate when flipped from the security stack, influencing how and when one should attack. These are crucial tactics in the Digimon Card Game.
 But ordinarily, that's it. There should be no reason to place cards face up in the security stack.

 However, for the Digimon of the “Royal Base" such as FunBeemon, the security stack is more than just a protective shield.

"Hm? What's up?"
 Approaching, FunBeemon peers over Winr's device, eyes widening.

"Winnie, this card... It says 'Royal Base'!"
"Yeah, if this phenomenon is the same as what Yuuki mentioned..."

 Interrupting FunBeemon, Winr opens his card list.
 As expected, unfamiliar cards had been added.
 Checking the effect section, they also contained text regarding face-up cards placed in the security stack.

"Could this be..."

 Winr stares intently at the new cards as if trying to communicate with them and understand them better.

"Ah, I see," Winr murmurs.

FunBeemon looks up, eager to hear his thoughts.

"FunBeemon, I have great news. Thanks to these cards, our strategy is complete. A hive needs a leader. It's so obvious, I wonder why I didn't see it before."
Winr muses, turning to face FunBeemon.
"FunBeemon, would you become the 'Queen' of our 'Royal Base'?"

 Building a hive...

 Back at the Emerald Coast, Winr sighs as he gazes at the brand-new deck he had assembled while chatting with FunBeemon. Sensing the change in his expression, FunBeemon peers into his face.

"What's wrong, Winnie? Getting nervous before the battle?"

"Not at all. I chose the main scenario as a testing ground to ensure there's no need to fear," Winr murmurs. "But still," he continues, "this deck and the strategy you spoke of, it's all uncharted territory. Honestly, I don't know what will happen. It would be quite a letdown if the cards that strangely appeared turned out not to be strong, right?"

"Hmm..." Watching his expression intently, FunBeemon's face suddenly brightens. "I see. Winnie, you're really confident with this deck!"


 Caught off guard by his partner's unexpected words, Winr's eyes widen. He blinks as his face showed a rare childlike innocence.

"Because it's your masterpiece, you're worried about whether it will work, and you're all jittery, eager to give it your all. It makes me happy to see you this excited about the deck we built together."


"But, if you keep worrying, you might not win. You're always so calm and collected, Winnie. That's what makes you so strong, so there's really nothing to worry about."

 With that, FunBeemon buzzes closer, facing Winr squarely.

"So stay the strongest, Winnie. You are the 'Strategist' of our Royal Base!"

That title sounded all right. Contemplating this, Winr adjusted his glasses.
"Understood. Thank you, FunBeemon. I'm fine now."

 He lifts his head again, looking forward. As he walks, the scenery around him transforms. A lush, vibrant jungle dotted with pyramids and stone structures reminiscent of ancient Central American ruins stretches before him.
 The rainforest is teeming with life, unlike anything seen just moments before. The vibrant life and noise of the jungle's creatures felt incredibly real, but he no longer heard the clamor.
 His focus is solely on the NPC standing before him and the battle about to unfold.

"The game starts now. Let's build an unbeatable hive together."
"Leave it to me, Winnie!"

 Exchanging words with his partner, Winr places his hand on the D-Storage.

To be continued.