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 From post-apocalyptic landscapes to districts lined with traditional Japanese homes, diverse green vistas dot the Invasive Forest City of the Emerald Colonies.
 Among them, the ruins replicating a rainforest during the monsoon season stood out with an unusual, lush vitality in this otherwise tranquil area.
 The deeper greens and the calls of birds and animals heard from out of sight would make anyone unaware that this is a virtual reality space. Such is their realisticness that one can't help fearing a jaguar might emerge from the towering trees above.

 In any case, there's no use being paranoid about things that don't exist.

 Winr wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand, his expression unchanged as he focused on the battle unfolding before him.
 Facing him in front of a vine-entangled stone pyramid reminiscent of ancient Central American civilizations stood an NPC dressed like a priest, ready to perform a sacrificial ritual.

 Appropriately for their appearance, the NPC was using a multicolored deck.
 Already on the playing field were two formidable level 6 creatures.

 One is Eldradimon, a colossal turtle adorned with a fortress on its back.
 The other is SaberLeomon ACE, an ancient beast with gleaming fangs.

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 In these battles in Lacuna, where one can see the Digimon at scale, the awesomeness of these two mighty Digimon felt greater than their actual specs.
 "No, not yet," Winr thought. "This isn't the end. There's more to come." It was that kind of tension he felt.

 It was then a hot wind swept through the jungle. SaberLeomon and Eldradimon were enveloped in intense light.

"DNA Digivolution, huh...!"


 A sudden squall pours down on Winr, whose gaze stiffens just slightly behind his glasses. In this virtual reality, you can't physically get wet. Yet the intensity of the downpour almost made him want to take cover, so overwhelming was the deluge.

 Beyond the curtain of rain appeared an embodiment of rain and thunder— a Digital Monster both serene and fierce, gathering the faith of all creatures of the land in its presence.



 As Winr murmurs, the ground beneath him expanded. It was to be expected that a god is always accompanied by its guardians.

[Tlalocmon's Effect]

 Summoned from the depths of the Earth were Jagamon and ShogunGekomon.

 It was a forceful move, assertively disregarding cost. This must be the "bing, bang, and boom" that Yuuki had talked about. Facing them for the first time, it makes sense that she was caught off guard.
 The squall whips Winr's cheeks hard. Facing a deity in such a location, it felt as though he was the villain encroaching on thriving nature. With its agitated atmosphere, the jungle itself seemed allied against him.

"Stay cool, Winnie."

 A familiar voice calls from above him. His partner is always perceptive of his emotions. Winr offered a slight smile and raised his voice.

"I'm all right, FunBeemon. I mean, Vespamon. You are to become the queen of your hive. Leave the details to me and watch your army come together."


 Winr wasn’t just watching his opponent’s moves passively. He had been steadily using the effects of everyone in Royal Base to add cards face up to his security stack and in combination with the Tamer Card had built up a strong nest.

 The NPC, wary of unfamiliar tactics, attacked the security stack and Winr's essential Digimon. Undaunted, the giant ForagerBeemon and the knightly Vespamon, equipped with a lance and beam shield, thwarted them.

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 But that wasn't all. Other Digimon like Waspmon and CannonBeemon also darted about, provoking the opponent.

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 Above Winr, the key element he was betting on grew gradually larger.
 The smallest units were tiny hexagonal prisms. Seemingly meaningless on their own, each was carefully guarded, collected, and assembled... Sometimes at the cost of a life.
 This is their headquarters and home—the aerial beehive called the "Royal Base."

 All right...

 Winr pushes back his rain-drenched hair. Despite having momentarily lost his composure under pressure, a second glance showed the battle situation wasn't bad at all.
 In fact, the construction of the hive was going smoothly. The opponent, cautious of his unpredictable actions, had made the first move. From a general viewpoint, they had the upper hand.

"The more unpredictable the opponent's deck, the more you need to push through your moves without panic, Yuuki."

 Winr said to himself as if criticizing and taunting his absent friend. And with that, he fully regained his composure.

 Now, it was his turn.
 There were four face-up cards in his security stack.

"It's time."

 At Winr's snap, his partner was enveloped in light.

"All right! Winnie, watch me as I become a queen!"

 A light soared toward the pinnacle of the Royal Base, where there stood a golden royal throne. Adorned with bee motifs, it was an independent structure equipped with arm units and six multi-functional limbs.
 Emerging from the light was QueenBeemon, her six iridescent wings fluttering as she was welcomed onto the throne.

 The ruler and architect of the Royal Base settled gracefully into her place.

"Whoa! Hey, our armor's getting thin over there! Hey, you, provide some backup! And you over there, haven't you been resting at all? That's a recipe for disaster. Take five!"

Why is she standing on top of the throne?

 Winr looked up at QueenBeemon with a mix of amusement and exasperation. It may be because the Royal Throne was oversized. Still, QueenBeemon was bustling about on top of it like a performer on stage, furiously managing every corner of the vast base, issuing commands, and occasionally, in what might be fan service, winking at the worker bees.

"Hey, QueenBeemon..."
"Ah, sorry, Winnie. It's just such a great view up here, and I got a bit carried away."

 “Caring, maybe too much,” Winr thought, recognizing all too well the qualities of his partner. Perhaps this was its way of embodying its role as a queen.

"Seriously, we're in the middle of a battle, my queen."

 Winr's lips curl into a gentle smile as he speaks to his partner.

"We've prepared our path to victory. The command is yours to give."
"Right, right! Everyone's worked so hard to get us here."

 Clearing its throat, QueenBeemon unfurls its fan, its green eyes sparkling beneath its mask.

"All right then. Everyone, to battle once more! Let's show them our strength!"
"Let's go, QueenBeemon. Attack."

 First, an attack from the queen to begin the offensive.
 Its target is the opponent's security stack, but...

"Your queen commands you, come forth."

 Reducing the security stack was as important as activating QueenBeemon's attacking effect.
 The queen's ability calls forth a Digimon in the Royal Base from the security stack.


[When Attacking: (Once Per Turn) You may play 1 Digimon Card with the [Royal Base] trait from your face-up security stack with the play cost reduced by 8.]

 Responding to her command, a beam of light burst from the beehive. Responding to her command, a beam of light burst from the beehive. Descending onto the battlefield was a knight clad in golden armor, a member of the bee army's Royal Command: TigerVespamon.
 Thanks to QueenBeemon's effect, the play cost was reduced to 4.


[On Play/When Digivolving: Suspend 1 of your opponent's Digimon for each face-up card in your security stack. Then, all of your opponent's Digimon can't unsuspend until the end of their turn.]

 With TigerVespamon's deployment, three face-up cards remained in the security stack. With fluid movements, the knight managed to overwhelm Tlalocmon, ShogunGekomon, and Jagamon, pinning them down.
 Next turn, those Digimon would remain immobilized.

 Thus, the battle is no longer in the balance; it is now tipped in Winr's favor.

"All according to plan..."

 Unnoticed, the buzzing of bees had overtaken the murmur of the jungle.
 The hive is impregnable, and the soldiers gathered to protect it. From the queen at the apex to the single worker bee, their thoughts were synchronized.
 The swarm for the hive, and the hive for the swarm— That was the golden principle that the bees upheld.
 Whatever moves the opponent made next, they would parry and hit back twofold.

"I won't let anyone break my bond with Winr or my Royal Base!"

 “That's right.” Winr affirms QueenBeemon's declaration.
 He'd never thought about fighting hand-in-hand with anyone. Yuuki was the first to reach out, and afterward, FunBeemon took his hand.

 “This isn't so bad,” he thought.

"Hehe, what's up, Winnie?"

 QueenBeemon, calling down from its throne, seemed to see right through him as if to say it knew all along. Winr purses his lips as if to hide the emotions behind his glasses.
 Until the win was wrapped up, he wanted to remain composed. And so, he made a statement:

"I've seen the path to victory, the game's over. Good game, thanks for playing."


 Trust in your friends should be expressed through a clear declaration of victory.

"Still, when you think about it,"

 FunBeemon mutters pensively as they stroll back from the ruins, discussing various uses for the item the NPC dropped.

"What is it?"
"Wasn't today's battle essentially revenge for Yuuki?"

"I've told you it wasn't. I didn't come here to do such a pointless thing." Winr replied with his usual stern face, his words sincere. It wouldn't make Yuuki happy to have someone win on her behalf.

"Hmm, I thought your face said otherwise."
FunBeemon cocks its head, puzzled by its rare misjudgment, while Winr just shrugs.

"But Yuuki and Impmon are probably done bickering by now, and starting to revise their strategy for a rematch."
"That sounds likely."
"But I don't think they'll be able to perfect it. Not without help."
"You're quite sharp, aren't you, Winnie?"

 It was a familiar cycle. Yuuki and Impmon were predictable, and even without FunBeemon's keen observational skills, one could guess what was happening.

"When she gets stuck, she'll definitely come crying to us."
"That's why I need to be ready. It won't be a good look as a 'teacher' if I'm clueless, right?"

 Though he tried to sound casual, Winr's ears were a telltale shade of red, betraying his embarrassment— a detail FunBeemon noticed without needing to focus.

"Whoa, what is it?!"

 Overwhelmed, FunBeemon hugs Winr tightly, making him cry out in shock.

"What's up with you, FunBeemon?"
"Hey, Winnie, can I ask you one more thing?"

 His eyebrows are knitted warily, but Winr nods. FunBeemon's eyes gleam with happiness.

"Why did you come to Lacuna?"

 At that question, Winr tilts his head, seemingly perplexed.

"There are lots of reasons. I want to test out the cards I buy. I'm curious to see how the main scenario pans out, and I have assignments for the debug team. And even if not for that, Yuuki makes a fuss if I don't log in."
"Ah! Right, right!"

"Wh-what do you want me to say?"
Winr responded, caught off guard by FunBeemon's enthusiasm.

 "I don't really want to stay at home. Mom and Dad are always fighting."

 A year ago, Winr answered the same question that way. FunBeemon wondered if he remembered.
 Before coming to Lacuna, he used to kill time at cram schools or arcades to stay away from home. He had met Yuuki during the beta test, but even then, he made sure not to get too close to anyone. He knew all too well how easily bonds between people could break.

 "Even I worried whether we would manage to get along..."

 Perhaps, for him, this place was an escape. As a digital being existing only in Lacuna, FunBeemon is worried about being unable to truly help Winr.
 But he was indeed starting to change, bit by bit, through his interactions with Yuuki and Impmon, and his friendship with his partner.
 A year ago, he was an intelligent and quick-learning boy, but he couldn't have managed a deck that required overseeing everything and cooperating with teammates like he did today.

 It was undeniable that Winr had become able to connect with others. That made FunBeemon very happy.

"FunBeemon...you can let go now."
"Hehe, sorry."

 Still smiling, FunBeemon returns to his side.

“Winnie, are you going to log out when we get back?"
"No, I felt good about this deck. I want to battle with it a little more. I'll find someone to play against."
"That sounds good! We need to show everyone just how great you and I get along!"
"What? Were you even listening to what I said..."
"Come on, let's go!"

 FunBeemon buzzed and sped away.

"Hey, wait!"

 Although FunBeemon was always playing the role of a helper, maybe it was simply following its own desires. With that thought, Winr hurriedly started giving chase.

 The breeze of the Emerald Coast carried the spirited voices of the boy and his digital partner, scattering them into the sky.

To be continued.

*These cards are still under developement. There may be differences with the finalized product.