"JACK SHIMANO, REPORT TO THE FIGHT ROOM IMMEDIATELY." The small crowd waited in anticipation to catch a glimpse of this fighter.
"JACK SHIMANO, PL-"
"I told you a million times that is not my name!" a voice cried out in the distance. Everyone looked around the room to try to find where the voice was coming from. Makoto may have been the first to spot him. He was a small child, possibly younger than Hanako, sitting on a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. How he got there, no one really knows.
"I am the shadow that haunts your nightmares, the Copycat Fighter!" The boy leapt from his perch and landed on the ground on all fours. He wore a mask and hood that made his head appear much larger than it probably was. It concealed his true identity, so that no one would know what Jack Shimano actually was.
"So who's my opponent?" the masked boy asked the crowd, "Who is brave enough to face off against the Copycat Fighter?" As he said that, he made a clawing motion that intimidated much of the crowd.
"That would be me." A hand shot up in the air. Her name was Andrea. Her last name was unknown, as she preferred to be known as simply "Andrea". She qualified for the tournament on her merit of finishing in the top 4 in the Euro League. Jack qualified on his merit of being the American champion. Both characters had a mysterious aura about them. Destiny, however, was not focused on them. She was staring at Makoto, Asahi, and Agrise.
"They say he's never revealed his face," Agrise told the others.
"I heard that he knows his opponent's strategies better than they do," a voice agreed from behind her.
"Chōchō-chan!" the voice, now known to be Ryo, responded, "How's it going, sweetie?"
"Don't call me that," Agrise replied, "Besides, didn't you get eliminated from this tournament?"
"... I don't want to talk about it..."
"Can't expect anything less from the inferior Megacolony fighter," Agrise continued, "Try to get some advice from the hundreds of people who played the exact same deck in the past, Kawanami-san, Kishida-san, you know." Makoto and Asahi began to laugh. Ryo was getting upset fast. Only the start of the fight could stop him.
"Stand Up! Vanguard!"
"Ooo! The fight's starting!" Ryo exclaimed, "Maybe when the fight's over, we can have a nice romantic dinner..."
"Impatience is a sin, Kanzaki," Agrise answered, "There may yet be a girl who's interested in your... uh... taste. I'm not her."
Ryo turned to the two boys. "Don't get too jealous, you two, she's taken," he said to them before he got slapped with a paper fan.
"I told you a thousand times I'm not interested..."
"That's the first vanguard I use..." Andrea suddenly became uncomfortable, seeing Whiteness Rabbit on her opponent's board. "How did you..."
"A master never reveals his secrets," the Copycat answered before Andrea could finish, "Make your first move."
"Uh... I ride Moonlit Princess, Kaguya," Andrea responded, "with skill, I can call a rabbit token to the field."
"Rabbit token?" Makoto asked, "Never heard of it."
"It's a new mechanic they just came out with," Agrise replied, "Rabbit tokens are grade 1 with 8000 Power."
"And since I put the token behind my vanguard, I get to Soul Charge. Over to you."
"I get it," the Copycat said to his opponent, "You're looking down on me...
"Just like everyone else who told me I'd never make it as a pro..." The Copycat's words made Makoto recall his conversation with Reiji.
"The pros would eat you up if you came to a tournament with that kind of attitude."
Makoto answered back, "Eat me up, huh..."
"Yeah. You have no chance to make it to the pros. You may as well give up."
"Well I'll show you... I'll show all of you!!! Ride! Moonlit Princess, Kaguya!"
He really is using the same deck as her...
"Superior call one rabbit token, then Soul Charge. Call! Two Dusk-dawn Rabbit! Soul Blast, then superior call two more tokens!"
"He's already filled up his board..." Agrise observed.
"It's always a tough situation facing a rush of rabbits like that," Asahi agreed.
"Dusk-dawn Rabbit attacks your vanguard!"
"Guard!" Andrea acted quickly.
"My vanguard attacks yours now!"
"I'll make you regret saying that," the Copycat answered, "Drive Check, Critical Trigger! Power to the remaining Dusk-dawn Rabbit, critical to the Vanguard!" Andrea did not check any damage triggers.
"Guard!" Andrea was already down to four cards. So was the Copycat. "Stand and draw," she then said, even though everything was already standing. "Ride! Maiden of the Moon, Kaguya! Call a rabbit token to rear-guard. Call! Maiden of the Moon. Their skills give them 5000 Power for each rabbit token on the field. Let's do it! Attack the vanguard!"
"I'll guard that!"
"My vanguard attacks!"
"Drive Check, Critical Trigger!" Andrea responded, "All effects to the vanguard." The damage was now 2-2. The Copycat checked a Draw Trigger. Once again, both fighters had four cards in hand.
"Stand and draw," the Copycat said as he began his turn, "I'll also ride Maiden of the Moon, Kaguya!"
His deck is exactly like mine... But... How???
"Superior call one rabbit token, then call Duskblade Deer over a Dusk-dawn Rabbit. Skill activate. Add 3000 to Deer and Kaguya for each rabbit token on the board, then Kaguya gains 5000 for each token as well."
"That's 49,000 Power," Agrise observed, "and Duskblade Deer would have 29,000..."
"That's a lot for just being on grade 2," Makoto added.
"That's not even the end of it."
I don't have nearly enough to block that... "No guard!"
"Drive Check, no trigger that time..." the Copycat said with a sigh. "You got lucky."
"Damage Check..." Andrea said nervously. "YES! A Draw Trigger! Power to the vanguard and draw!"
"Grr... Duskblade Deer attacks your vanguard..."
"I'll guard that one! Dusk-dawn Rabbit! To me!"
"Grr... I end my turn..." the Copycat seemed to give up. He had four cards in hand. Andrea had four as well.
"I stand and draw," Andrea began, hoping to finish off the Copycat before he could figure out her strategy, sweat rolling quite visibly down her face. It was tough trying to shake off her opponent in a flash. She was never sure how much of her deck or strategy he knew. Only one thing could be certain...
"My avatar, come to me! The harvest moon rises tonight! Queen of the Moon, Kaguya!" Andrea quickly pulled out a Protect I marker. "Let's rally the troops! Attack!"
"My vanguard, attack the impostor!"
"No guard," the Copycat said. It couldn't be seen, but behind that mask, he was smiling.
"Twin Drive!! The first, Critical Trigger! Power to the Maiden, Critical to the vanguard. The second, Critical Trigger! The same with this one!" The Copycat checked his three damage. The first two were nothing of note, but the third was a Heal Trigger.
"Looks like you couldn't pull it off," the Copycat answered.
"I still have one more attack!"
"No guard then... Damage Check, oh lookie here! Another Heal Trigger!" Andrea had seven cards in hand. The Copycat had three. The damage was 3-4. The crowd was in shock. It seemed as if Andrea finally had an advantage. She was ready to end the game next turn.
"Listen," the Copycat began to taunt his opponent, "No matter what you hit me with, I'll hit back twice as hard! Now watch my mastery of your deck!"
This can't be...
"This is bad..." Makoto observed.
"Ride! Queen of the Moon, Kaguya! With that comes an Imaginary Gift: Protect I! Call! Moonlit Princess, Kaguya! Maiden of the Moon, Kaguya! Duskblade Deer! Double Soul Charge!"
"Wait..." Asahi began, but...
"Here it comes..." Agrise interrupted.
"Here comes what?" Makoto asked.
"Queen of the Moon, Kaguya's skill. Soul Blast 5 to draw two cards and give five of my units 5000 Power and +1 critical! As well, Duskblade Deer's skill. Counter Blast to give itself and my vanguard 3000 Power for each rabbit token on the board. Finally, Maiden of the Moon, Kaguya gets 5000 for each rabbit token on the board!"
"That's 32,000 and 33,000 and 33,000," Agrise observed, "and every unit in the front row has an extra critical."
"I attack your vanguard with Queen of the Moon, Kaguya," the Copycat said as he began his attack formation.
"Perfect Guard! The Protect Marker!"
"Twin Drive..." the Copycat responded, "It looks like a double critical!"
"My front row rear-guards each get 10,000 Power and an extra critical! Attack!"
"42,000 and 3 critical..." Agrise observed.
"Better hope Andrea has another Perfect Guard in hand..." Makoto added.
"No guard..." Tears began to roll down Andrea's face instead of sweat. Andrea was now at five damage.
"Look at your hand, Andrea," the Copycat said, his mask looking somehow more intimidating than before, even though its expression cannot ever change. "Tell me what it is you see."
"It's all grade 2s and 3s..."
"This is why no Vanguard fighter is better than me! Attack!"
The fight was over. Andrea fell to her knees, tears streaming down the sides of her face. She had lost, certainly, but even worse so, she had lost to her own deck. She didn't know how. She didn't know why. She lost to her own best cards. The Copycat walked away from the fight table and issued a challenge to the crowd.
"All of you should forfeit this tournament right now!" the Copycat shouted at the top of his lungs. "I know all of your decks by heart. There isn't any strategy in Vanguard that can overcome my superior intellect! Not even Reiji Midorihara could defeat me!"
Reiji walked into the room as soon as his name was called.
"I think I heard someone say they could defeat me..." The Copycat Fighter turned around to see Reiji standing there.
"I did!" The Copycat was loud and proud in his confession. "And if you want to avoid that pain, I suggest you forfeit!"
"I won't forfeit," Reiji answered him, "I won't stop until I achieve perfection... But if you want to prove you can beat me..." Reiji then pointed at the front of the crowd, exactly where Makoto was standing. "Beat him in a Vanguard fight..."
The Copycat Fighter looked right at Makoto. "Him? Ha! I don't get what everyone sees in him, to be honest. Sure, he's got some fancy cards. I've got the exact same cards in my binder! I could beat him with one hand tied behind my back!"
"Prove it then..." Makoto said quietly.
"What was that?" the Copycat asked sarcastically. "I couldn't hear you over the crowd of people cheering my name when I win the Tournament of Champions!"
"There's a word for people like you in my community," Makoto answered, "Netdecker."
"Netdecker? Me? No, never... I just..."
"Pretend to have exactly the same cards as everyone else? True. But this..." Makoto pulls out the Starburst Dragon card. "This card is the rarest of all Vanguard cards. I'd like to see you get a copy of this without getting yourself arrested."
"Oh yes," the Copycat observed, "That was your father's special rare card, wasn't it? Doesn't look all that special to me. It looks like a loser card some loser would have used in his loser deck."
Agrise could notice Makoto was getting tense. Asahi was the first to speak though.
"He's what, ten?" Asahi asked, "Makoto, don't let this kid get to you. This is his strategy: make his opponent uncomfortable so he can take advantage of the situation and win."
"You're right..." Makoto agreed, before turning to the Copycat and saying, "But I'm still going to defeat you!"
"I'd like to see you try!"
And so it was. Even though the two fighters wouldn't meet for a while, they were absolutely driven to fight one another. It almost seemed like fate, something that Destiny began to take note.
Tournament of Champions (First Round)
Jack Shimano (Copycat Fighter) vs. Andrea (Jack wins)
The remainder of the First Round (won't be shown)
Two Second Round matches (won't be shown)
Makoto Sakaki vs. Agrise Attorns (Regina Stratos)