Chapter 48
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Chapter 48:

  I lay in bed tracing Menma's spinal chute up and down with my fingertips, amazed as ever to find myself with complete rights to another person's body. Tonight was her night to be together with me and we'd already made love, so now I was just keeping her from getting to sleep.

  "I was thinking." I said quietly, staring at the amazing curvature of a girl's back which was so unlike a man's.

  "Mmm?" Meiko replied, relaxed and readily accepting my ministrations.

  "If none of my healers can resurrect the dead, how did they bring you back to life?" I mused.

  "Isn't it because undead are only mostly dead? And mostly dead means partially alive." Menma quoted the Princess Bride, which of course I'd watched together with her since we'd lived together for 90 years now.

  "I guess if someone were turned into a zombie I would expect a cure spell to work -- actually there really was a zombification status in Final Fantasy which the white mages could cure, so the same should be true of ghosts, huh?" I admitted. So had Rosa been Menma's savior, and not Orihime like I originally assumed?

  "I should thank the hospital crew again for saving me. They let my childhood dream come true. I said I loved you in the 'I want to marry you' way, but then I just floated off to heaven. Here on Eden though, I got to marry you after all. And now we even have seven children." Menma turned over to stare into my face with a smile of blissed fulfillment.

  I smiled back at her. "The girls I brought back from the dead are the ones I can always count on to have my back. The girls I stole away from perfectly fine lives that were just getting started, like Nico, can stack up a giant list of complaints against me. But when you're already dead and have nothing left to look forward to without divine intervention. . ."

  "I'm easy to please." Meiko agreed. "Just being here is a miracle, so I've never wanted anything more."

  "But that's no good." I condemned myself. "When I rely on the sweet girls' sweet temperaments they always get lost in the shuffle. I want to make the girls who didn't sign the petition because they're overly nice happy too. Menma, what is it you want?"

  "Hmmm. . ." Menma seriously studied the question as we lay face to face nude in bed together. "This reminds me of when you were trying to send me off to heaven by granting all my wishes, and it turns out there was nothing special I wanted. I think it's more like. . .I'm happiest when we're all getting along together. . .both back then, before Eden, and now. And of course I'm happiest when I'm with you, just like this, here and now."

  "So another communal event like our AI barbeque. . ." I considered my options.

  "Oh, I also like playing games together, like when we were kids. So maybe a virtual reality raid where we all have to cooperate to bring down the boss?" Menma suggested.

  "But we've already done that before," I objected. "How about a trading card tournament instead?"

  "Oooooh." Menma's eyes lit up. "Old school!"

  "We can have Siri mass produce all the Magic: The Gathering cards we need, and have all the wives make their own decks. Then, let's see. . .to make it a team event like we used to share with Naruko and Poppo. . .we'll split up into teams of five. If your deck wins 2 out of 3 games, you beat your opponent on the other team. If your team wins 3 out of the 5 matchups, you advance to the next round. Eventually a team champion will emerge with the officially best designed decks. What should the reward be for the best team?" I asked Menma.

  "A trophy?" Menma gave her best guess.

  "Keeping it simple, huh?" I laughed. We all lived in an age of infinite material abundance, where Siri could manufacture anything we wanted for free, so meaningful rewards were hard to come by.

  "I have just the right team members for our squad. All the nice, retiring girls who never get any attention. You, me, Sora, Mumei and Levy. I can kill four birds with one stone and make some good memories for all of you." I enthused.

  "So even when you're explicitly granting my wish the polygamy seeps back in." Menma rolled her eyes at me.

  "101 wives requires a certain level of juggling efficiency." I defended myself.

  "It's fine. I'd love to hang out with Sora too." Meiko reassured me. Cute-sama's magic always came in handy for situations like these.

* * *

  The first couple weeks were spent teaching my waifus the rules and playing mock games with them with some preconstructed decks so they could get a sense for the value of things and correct play. I realized in the back of my head what Menma meant when I saw all my wives together looking over the pretty art on all the cards Siri had made for us, talking to each other about which colors they preferred and who they should pick for their five man squad. Even though all these girls had busy lives raising their seventhborns and going to work, they had gathered together at the dinner table to play endless rounds of Magic with me and each other. All I had to do was arrange for the babysitters, give them a Mayoral dispensation work vacation, and the whole crew was gathered together under one roof chatting again. It was like magic. Magic was magic.

  When I told Hozumi, Levy and Sora that they were going to ride with me and Menma to the top they clapped their hands together with delight.

  "If you've gone so far as to select me, nothing short of the championship is acceptable." Mumei said excitedly. "Teach us everything you know about deck design so we can get a leg up on all the other newbies."

  In response I gathered my squad of five together and talked a long time about the mana curve, the need for all the cards in your deck to work together towards a common theme, and the advantages of monocolor vs. multicolor. Sora was diligent enough to take notes, hanging on my every word with the respect due an oracle. Though she had never played Magic before, once she agreed to do something she would always do it at 100%.

  I asked Cute-sama to be the rules judge during the tournament since she was omniscient and she readily agreed. To her Magic was no fun because she already knew the perfect deck design and what cards everyone had in their hands and library at all times. Asa and Yoru were required to play as one so that the teams were nicely divisible by five.

  Preparations were complete, so I gave all my wives one week to design their own deck. Everyone had to come up with their own deck design without knowing what their teammates' decks would be or getting any input from anyone else. That would only rob people of the fun of creation and become too focused on winning. I also banned overly obnoxious cards like Force of Will in addition to the standard banned and restricted list. The tournament would begin the next Saturday.

  As for myself, my deck centered around my favorite theme -- tribalism. Every creature in the deck belonged to the same tribe and contributed something exclusively to other members of the tribe. In short, the fascist ideal in miniature. Fascism always beat everything, in life or in play, and I intended to prove it.

  The deck's name was 'Allies,' because it relied on the Ally creature type. It was green-white and absolutely vicious. In the early game I got out bigger creatures than anyone else and aggressively attacked. In the late game I gained life to foil the opponent's strategy while becoming unblockable to finish them off. There was no escape from Allies, no defense or offense worked against me.

  When the big day arrived, I asked my teammates to reveal their deck designs.

  "I thought, wouldn't it be nice, if I could raise people from the dead, so I went with 'Reanimation.'" Sora showed off her deck. It took all-powerful, super expensive creatures from her library and hand and put them in the graveyard, then brought them back to life on the battlefield for the ridiculously cheap price of two mana, after which the game was basically won. With the aid of Dark Ritual she could even manage to win on turn one, before the opponent had a chance to put down their first land. Sora did things at 100%, and this deck was a terrifying testament to it.

  "These enchantment permanents reminded me of Fried's glyphs, which I've always been fascinated by." Levy explained as she layed out her deck in front of me. "So I decided to build an entire deck using nothing but enchantments. It's named 'Enchantment.'" The deck used an enchantment to turn all other permanents into enchantments, and then another enchantment to turn all enchantments into creatures. Because one of her enchantments could 'destroy target enchantment,' it now read as 'destroy target anything.' Another of her enchantments said 'remove a creature from the game,' but now that even enchantments were creatures it could be used to kill anything or protect any of her other enchantments from enemy attack. It was a multilayered death trap that could do anything. Levy's genius could be seen through and through.

  "The point of this game is to lower the enemy's life total to zero. But I discovered that with the poison mechanic they can die with just 10 damage instead of 20, so obviously the best strategy is this half price victory. I call the deck 'Infect,' after the mechanic on the card." Mumei spread out her cards proudly. "If things line up right I can win on turn 2." Her killer instinct had combined cheap poisonous creatures with cheap Giant Growth type cards that ballooned her damage up to lethal instantaneously. The most vicious aspect was the two free spells she could use to pump up her creatures at no mana cost at all. The game would be over before it began if she were lucky enough to draw those. Her killer instinct seemed to be alive and well, even if her fighting days were long over.

  Menma jumped up and down with her arm raised. "Me, me, ask me what's in my deck!"

  "How did your deck turn out, Menma?" I asked encouragingly.

  "Its name is 'Eon Hub,' after the signature card in the deck. You see, I found this land that prevents all damage to me, except over time it costs you too much life and you have to sacrifice it. It's called Glacial Chasm. It's sort of like how when I was a ghost I was alive yet nevertheless fading away. Anyway, if you combine that with Eon Hub, which says skip the upkeep phase, you don't have to pay any life to the Glacial Chasm anymore, so it stays there permanently. Sort of like how I am now. After that, since I'm invincible, I just wait until the enemy runs out of cards in their deck and loses by default. There's also lots of counterspells to protect my Eon Hub so to the very end there's nothing they can do. Christopher, are you sure this deck is fair?" Menma bragged.

  Blue always felt cheap and underhanded, but this was even more underhanded than usual. One of her counterspells was free to cast, but read 'you lose the game during your next upkeep.' Of course with Eon Hub out that upkeep would never arrive, so the spell was free and had zero drawback whatsoever. And that wasn't even the sickest combo. The worst was that she had an artifact that could search for any land, and a land that could search for any other card with a 0 mana cost, and a spell that could search for any artifact -- so inevitably, at all times, she would be swimming with Glacial Chasms, Eon Hubs and the free counterspells to protect them. The deck was frustratingly simple, 'nyaah nyaah you can't hurt me,' and yet dizzyingly complex. I looked at Menma, who had always loved playing games with me, with a new level of profound respect.

  "Girls, these decks are amazing. With this, not only can we take the trophy, we could take Moscow if we wanted." I patted each of them on the head in turn as they beamed up at me and gave a united warcry for victory. The rest of the field had no idea what was coming.

* * *

  We went two rounds 5/5, two rounds 4/5, and in the championship round a scary 3/5 against the evil Da Capo squad whose decks were totally unfair. I don't know which was the best part, getting to loft the trophy in all our hands together over the assembled tourney-goers or sticking my tongue out at Nemu and mocking her when their team fell just a step short.

  But after a month of pure Magic: The Gathering gaming, our collective wife enterprise came to an end. Menma and I celebrated our victory with a kiss, and amidst the general festival of noise with streamers falling from the rafters she whispered "thank you," in my ear.