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Literature / Card Force Infection

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Card Force is the world's most popular trading card game. Able to bring cards to life with magic, it's won the hearts of people the world over. But young Fletcher Aldaine soon discovers some darkness behind the magic. When a group called The Peppermint Knights recruits him to help save people in need, will they be able to unravel the game's mysteries?

Card Force Infection is a Web Serial Novel by KiraHeartilly36 on FictionPress. Inspired by Yu-Gi-Oh!, this story takes the "card games are Serious Business because magic" concept to its logical extreme by having the central card game publicly acknowledged in-universe as a work of magic from the very beginning.

Contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Yuu Akimoto is said to be the best Enforcer around, is a skilled chess player who once beat a Grandmaster, has seemingly supernatural levels of luck, and has literal gods on the defensive. When he finally gets the chance to play a game of Card Force, he wins against twelve opponents at once before they can even touch him.
  • Alice Allusion: The Wonderland theme is an obvious reference to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, containing such cards as Mad Hat, White Rabbit, Mimsy Borogove, Cheshire Cat, and of course the Queen of Hearts.
  • All Therapists Are Muggles: Subverted. Fletcher wants to talk to the school counselor about his issues, and while he's waiting he works himself up into a frenzy trying to figure out how he's going to gloss over the infection and the devil and all that — only for Mrs. Waldemer to reveal that the Akimoto family has looped her in on the whole thing, specifically so the Peppermint Knights have someone to talk to.
  • All There in the Manual: The full details of how any given card works will be glossed over in the story in favor of the immediate effect on the game state, but the author maintains a list of every card and their full rules text.
  • Artifact of Doom: Infected cards break the power curve, but mess with their owner's mind, causing them to act unnaturally hostile. Concerningly, nobody seems to know where they come from — they just seem to show up in people's decks out of the blue. The Peppermint Knights seek out these cards and win them in duels so they can destroy them. The Blade of the Nephilim prefer putting the infected players into comas. Prior to the rise of Card Force, cursed items like this took the form of random objects like necklaces and diamonds.
  • Author Appeal: The author notes at the top of chapter 36 that they like referencing the work of their friends, which is one of the reasons for the sudden uptick in Worm in an Apple motifs — a friend of the author was the trope's sponsor on TLP. For the same reason, chapter 23 made a brief reference to "rock floating in space game", an extremely unfinished Idle Game by the same person. Chapter 46 also introduces a card called Thunderbolt Octopus, a shoutout to that person's Miraculous Ladybug fanfiction.
  • Auto-Revive:
    • Shadow Chain attaches to and lets you revive your opponent's cards. The trick, of course, is to pick a card you can destroy repeatedly, draining your opponent's Energy through the unit's Bond.
    • Lich Empress Disastra can revive itself on death by removing a Dead Unit from its owner's discard pile.
    • General Sardine can automatically revive itself on death.
  • Back from the Dead: As expected, there are cards that can bring units back from the discard pile.
    • Wonderland Roses allows the revival of any Wonderland unit.
    • Cherry Blossom Rebirth has no type restriction, but is a higher Tier card and so harder to cast.
  • Bait-and-Switch: A certain location is described as being full of "adult businesses". Not strip clubs or porn shops, but "a tax center, a used car dealership, and even a furniture rental store".
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Fletcher has a crush on Erica, but he can't bring himself to tell her for fear that it could somehow ruin their lifelong friendship. He also has trouble telling Naota that he reciprocates their crush because he's worried that he's subconsciously taking advantage of them. He has occasionally almost worked up the courage to say something, but something always interrupts him.
  • Captain Ersatz: Thunder Mouse is a yellow mouse with power over electricity. As the narration admits, "The inspiration was obvious but the differences were pronounced enough to keep any angry lawyers at bay."
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Yuu vs Specter ends in one turn with Yuu removing every single card from Specter's hand and deck, then forcing him to draw. This results in an automatic loss for Specter.
  • Deal with the Devil: Yuu made a deal with some sort of supernatural entity to bring Naota Back from the Dead after a car crash. The cost is that the two can't be around each other very long.
  • Death or Glory Attack: Wonder Mushroom is an attachment card that lets a player flip a coin as combat begins to either double the attached unit's Strength or Defense on heads, or halve both on tails.
  • Driven to Suicide: One possible result of the infection.
    • Jimmy attempted to commit suicide, but was put into a coma by Veronica instead.
    • Hector commits suicide after his father becomes emotionally neglectful.
    • It's revealed that in her backstory, Hikaru's friend Montana committed suicide.
  • Duels Decide Everything: Justified when it comes to infected players; part of the curse of the infection is that they must accept, and they and anyone they play against will be magically compelled to abide by any terms of victory declared before the match. Even if they don't have their deck on hand, the curse will summon it for them. Even if they're so far gone that they're stabbing people, they'll be forced to sit down and play. It's mentioned that this would work with any game, not just Card Force, but that has undesirable side effects that Card Force seems arbitrarily immune to.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Several cards allow the user to draw at the cost of allowing their opponent to draw. Greed's Shadow is the most common, allowing the user to draw three cards and their opponent(s) to draw one.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real:
    • A running gag has various characters learning that narwhals are real.
      • When it starts raining on Naota and Fletcher, they buy an umbrella with cartoon narwhals on it. Fletcher comments that narwhals are one of his favorite fantasy animals, though Naota quickly corrects him.
      • During a parody of The Newlywed Game, one contestant mentions that her girlfriend once had to write an essay about her favorite animal for school, and got marked down because the teacher insisted that narwhals weren't real.
      • While Maxwell is exploring an aquarium, a random bystander can be heard questioning the presence of the narwhal exhibit, which has only videos and a statue, because narwhals can't be kept in captivity. Her companion explains this, not realizing that the woman's primary worry is that "children might end up thinking narwhals are real, and they'll get really confused". "Narwhals are real, dear."
    • When Manfred plays the card Condylura Cristata,note  it freaks out Rita, who wonders how the card designers could possibly come up with something so grotesque. Specter informs her that these things are real.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Kelvin Gaumond is working for the Devil due to, among other things, a belief that Yuu's patron deity plans to destroy the world if he wins, while the Devil only plans to conquer the world. The fact that this is one of the Devil's thralls does call into question the honesty of both the character in question and whatever source they got their information from.
  • Exact Words: "Send X to the graveyard" is not the same thing as "destroy X". The owner doesn't lose Energy equal to the unit's Bond, and it doesn't trigger any "when this is destroyed" or "when this destroys X" effects.
  • Expy Coexistence: The prologue to Part 2 mentions that Yu-Gi-Oh! not only exists in this universe, but was just as much inspiration for Card Force in-universe as out.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Some cards have eyes where they shouldn't be. Revel has a few such cards.
    • Void Arm is a giant arm with an eye on its palm.
    • Lost Wings is a card composed of five wings, each with an eye in the middle.
  • Faceless Eye: Glare Gazer is a giant eyeball surrounded by white tentacles made of light.
  • Fake Relationship: Fletcher and Naota get a hint that there's an infection victim in a nearby amusement park which is holding a "free admission for couples only" day, so they pretend to be dating to investigate.
  • Fan Community Nicknames: In-Universe, players of Card Force are called Enforcers.
  • Flower Motifs: Irises are said to represent hope. Within Card Force, there are many Iris cards that allow the player to draw new cards, giving them a chance to draw a better card they need. Crystal Iris is the most common, allowing players to draw a single card, representing the hope of drawing a better card.
  • Four Is Death: Cherry Blossom Rebirth is Tier 4 in reference to the association of the number 4 with death.
  • Freudian Threat: Theodore threatens to cook Fletcher's testicles.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Eloise and Daphne, despite their names, are both cisgender males. Though the author states that "all names are technically gender neutral".
  • Genre Savvy: Fletcher makes a point of establishing a backstory for his Fake Relationship with Naota, specifically because he hates it when movie characters don't bother with this pretty basic preparation.
  • Grandpa God: Yuu's patron deity isn't the Christian God, but he is masquerading as that being, and he takes on the "bearded old man" look for that reason.
  • Hidden Villain: The source of the infection is unknown, but it's been determined that it's definitely an intelligent and malevolent entity (as opposed to something like a law of nature). Since nobody knows who this is, they just call them "the devil" for now. He does indeed turn out to be a Satanic Archetype when they meet him.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Naota assumes that their crush on Fletcher is doomed to go nowhere, since Fletcher's Facebook profile lists him as straight, and Naota is a boy half the time. Fletcher falls for Naota anyway.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Naota loves Fletcher but believes they'll never be together, so they encourage Fletcher to pursue a relationship with Erica.
    • TJ likes Muriel, but she likes Carl, so TJ gets some tickets for Muriel so that she and Carl can go to a concert together.
  • Light Is Not Good: Revel uses a Strange Light deck filled with otherworldly monsters, like glowing beings, strange visitors from other dimensions, and strange glowing things from beyond the void.
  • Literal Metaphor: Being around Yuu makes Naota sick. It's not that his presence is upsetting, but there's a curse that makes Naota physically ill around Yuu, because they're magically forbidden from being near him.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Naota has crushes on Fletcher and Yuu — Yuu definitely reciprocates but is both currently dating Aron and magically cursed to stay away from Naota, while Fletcher might reciprocate but also definitely has a crush on Erica, and Erica might be interested in Fletcher or Arc but doesn't seem to really know how she feels though she later admits that she did indeed have feelings for Fletcher the whole time and just could not spit it out because of gender roles. Polyamory is brought up as a possible solution, but Fletcher has a bad case of Cannot Spit It Out and even after he finally does, Erica is willing to consider it but not yet ready to date two boys at once.
  • Lucky Charms Title: The in-universe musician "Hazuki/Zer0", pronounced "Hazuki over zero".
  • Magical Girl: The Mahou Shoujo theme is all about magical girls, naturally. They tend to have effects reminiscent of The Power of Friendship, either directly growing stronger with each Mahou Shoujo card in play, or else buffing every Mahou Shoujo card with an added effect.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Akimoto family is known to have magic. They've also accomplished many amazing things. Other than Card Force itself, it's unknown how much was achieved with magic and how much was achieved without it.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Very subtly — when explaining why he made Fletcher wager his entire deck as stakes for a duel, Maxwell says he had to act decisively because "people like us don't just give up easily".
  • One-Hit Kill: Naturally, there are cards that can instantly destroy other cards without regard to Strength or Defense. Off With Her Head is a Craft card that allows its controller to destroy any Unit once per turn.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Someone acting unusually is a good sign that they've picked up an infected card.
  • Poke the Poodle: After getting infected, TJ commits the heinous crime of... holding Erica's manga ransom. Alicia finds it utterly hilarious, calling it "G-rated villainy".
  • Power Equals Rarity: The game doesn't seem to have a formally-defined rarity system like real TCGs usually do, but certain very powerful cards are printed in incredibly low numbers. It's rumored that there are ten or less of Dark Vortex Dragon in existence.
  • Prophecy Twist: A girl asks a fortune-teller if she'll ever find love. The fortune-teller gives her an address and tells her to go there the next day. It turns out to be a back alley behind some bar's dumpster, obviously no place to meet a future significant other — but she does find an abandoned kitten that she takes in. After all, she never specified what kind of love.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: A Unit needs a Tower of a certain height (the unit's Tier) to be summoned. Since Towers are built from Crafts, and can support only one Unit each, a player has the choice between building many short Towers so they can summon many weak Units, or building fewer tall Towers so they can summon bigger Units.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Adoraborb, whose name is short for "adorable bird orb", is exactly what its name makes it sound like.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: Discussed in the context of infected cards — since they're created by the infection, they're technically unauthorized, but the question is raised as to whether they can feasibly be banned for that reason, or if the devil would just laugh.
  • Shoot the Dog: Destroying an infected card doesn't remove the infection from the person, only stops it temporarily. Given this, the Blade of the Nephilim opt to put infected players into comas to take them out of action indefinitely. Whether this is a good or bad thing is a major point of contention.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One chapter after the author's notes mention picking up Undertale, a player appears with a fish-themed deck whose signature card, General Sardine, is an undying fish warrior.
    • One chapter is titled Dark Ritual Part 1: All Fright No Enchamtnment.
    • Rita's Color deck is a hurricane of shoutouts, spelled out by the author in the end notes: Rouge Fox and Purple Tiger reference Miraculous Ladybug characters, Silver Snake references Legends of the Hidden Temple, Black Frog references Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Pink Lion references Steven Universe, Green Owl references Duolingo, Red Robin references Batman, and Pink Elephant references CORDYCEPS. note  Later Color cards are also references — Blue Hedgehog referencing Sonic the Hedgehog, Pink Alpaca referencing Centaurworld, and Green Cat referencing gothicprep's green cat.
    • Swole Toad is a Frog-type card noted for being buff and buffing the player's other cards. One could perhaps call it a Buff Frog.
    • The card Bone Stealing Witch is a reference to an infamous incident of a Tumblr user stealing human bones for their witchcraft.
    • The card Divine Composer depicts a blond teenager with a disdainful smirk.
  • Smart People Play Chess: When a nightmare wakes Yuu up at night, he relaxes by playing a game of chess online. He also plays Shogi in another tab. Along with multiple other variations, all at the same time.
  • Stolen Good, Returned Better: Not long after Maxwell takes Fletcher's entire deck for winning their first duel, the deck is returned with several powerful new cards added, including a rare Tier X card. This turns out to be a prelude to recruiting Fletcher for the Peppermint Knights.
  • Surprise Checkmate: Yuu and Chaud play a game of chess with a special rule, each player is allowed to come up with a special movement rule for any piece they want, and may reveal this rule at any time. Yuu uses his rule move his own king into checkmate. Chaud is caught completely off guard.
  • Synchronization: All summoned units have a Bond stat representing their link to their summoner. If a unit is destroyed, its summoner loses Energy equal to the unit's Bond. Powerful cards tend to have a high Bond.
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: Fletcher has used "the same" deck since he first got into Card Force shortly after his parents divorced, though numerous little changes over the years mean that it doesn't actually have any of the same cards it had then. Losing it to Maxwell is directly compared to "sinking the Ship of Theseus".
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: Not just an eclipse, but a double eclipse — a comet passes between the Earth and Sun at the same time as the eclipse, and the four celestial bodies align perfectly. First mentioned as a plot point in the in-universe Card Force anime, but astronomers predict that it will also happen in the real world.
  • Touché: Erica tries to reassure Jimmy that he bears no responsibility for Fletcher losing his entire deck trying to defend him because "We chose to get involved." Jimmy counters that if they can choose to get involved, so can he. Erica gives in, admitting she can't argue with that.
  • Trumplica: The "Worthless Politician" card is a "strange man with orange skin and a bad suit". In case it's not obvious, this is one of the negative depictions of Trump.
  • Worm in an Apple:
    • Richter shows that he can manifest card subjects in real life by summoning a Sinner's Apple and giving it to Donovan... but after he bites the apple, Richter manifests his cursed card, Worm Infestation, in the apple, to Donovan's disgust.
      "Tell me, what's worse than biting an apple and finding a worm?" Richter asked as he slapped his card onto the table.
      "Biting an apple and getting kicked out of paradise?" Donovan suggested. A squiggling worm crawled out of the apple, wiggling as it broke free. But it did not come alone. More worms poked up all over, breaking through the skin of the apple. Dozens crawled out. Donovan felt sick, even knowing that they were a new addition. He dropped the apple to the floor and watched it turn to dust. The worms all crawled away before turning to dust as well.
      "Biting an apple and finding an infestation."
    • On a more lighthearted note, during the Tournament Arc, one of the food vendors sells caramel apples with gummy worms in them. Fletcher buys one, but he finds that the tastes don't blend together very well. Later chapters suggest that they're a big Love It or Hate It flavor.
    • Alicia and Thuy encounter a painting of Adoraborb pecking at a worm in an apple. Yuu begins analyzing the painting, coming up with a bunch of nonsense to keep Alicia and Thuy distracted while Aron escapes undetected.
    • When Dion plays the card Revapplenote  to resurrect Powcreatur Rivormnote , Rivorm first materializes inside the apple, briefly mimicking the worm in an apple motif.
    • One opening to the In-Universe anime Card Force Rebellion features a scene with several rotting apples, all filled with worms.
    • Aron at one point has a nightmare where he is dining with the Devil. The Devil offers him an apple, which turns out to be filled with worms.
    • The Wormy Apple card is a simple worm in an apple.
    • Apple Worm Hydra, a much stronger card that draws its power from Wormy Apple, is a giant apple that sprouts more worms the stronger it gets. Each new worm makes the card stronger and allows it to make one more attack each turn.