Playing to Win

By midnightchan

>Not all disasters are created equal

>2020 pandemic? Paradise for a gamer like me. Shut my door, load up SF5, grind out matches in prep for EVO

>The current monster portal bullshit? Army better get on that one. Me? I'm out in the sticks. Yawn.

>Internet goes down.

>THE FUCK ARE MY TAX DOLLARS PAYING FOR? REEEEEEEEE!!!

>Time for plan B

>head down to my local arcade

>damn it's good to be back here again

>high five the owner, we go way back

>Wait, there's a purple-haired chick with cat ears behind the counter. Did Tumblr revive or something?

>She's your WIFE bro? When? How?

>ahh, catgirl. That explains the smug grin too, huh? Well, uh, congrats.

>down to business: it's tourney time!

>500 bucks prize to beat me, 20 to enter. I'll even play as Dan. Won't stop me from slaughtering the scrubs

>Day of the tournament

>prepped the cabinets, checked the fighting sticks, put in a fresh drive for the event cams

>see some of my buds, some kids looking for action, about what I expected

>start playing, kicking ass and taking names, in the zone

>who's next?

>Holy shit, there are monstergirls out the door

>look for some explanation

>ask the owner, he's as confused as I am

>his wife burst out laughing

>check the sign outside

>thanks to some strategic vandalism it doesn't quite say 500 Bucks anymore

>that fucking cat

>Consider backing out. No way in hell you'll let some half-furry chick tie you to the old ball and chain

>But damn, you can't do that to your bro, he'd be out thousands of dollars even if the crowd doesn't riot

>Welp, time to man up and show 'em how a real pro plays

>Four hours later

>crowd is thinning out, most of them need to git gud

>up against a robot chick

>Golem? No, automaton she says

>whatever, let's play

>She picks Ken. Damn good with him, using shot, countering with uppercuts when I go high

>down to a third health, the girls are alternately cheering or screaming at her

>start to sweat a bit

>see if I can bait her, figure out what her game is

>she just keeps creeping forward, trying to corner me. wait.

>I recognize it now. It's the damn MK Walker!

>get over here!

>feint a jump, just far enough to be out of her upper range

>she does it anyways. Bitches don't know about my hitboxes

>kick her as she lands, then get behind her

>flustered, she doesn't know how to recover. Tries to adapt in the second round but she lacks experience

>you could say she's a noob saibot

>slam down a Monster to recover my energy, then wipe the floor with her

>just like old times

>Eight hours later

>down to a real tournament bracket now

>also downed three Monsters, and not the girls. I am literally caffeine right now

>one of my buds got knocked out of the runnings by the automaton

>they're playing Ikaruga together. Damn she's good with the flip timing

>me, I'm up against some cat-bat-scorpion thing

>manticore, a little goatgirl informs me as she sips her drink

>wait, who the hell gave her a Heineken?

>shit, game's starting!

>Manticore's playing Poison

>lady, you really oughta read the lore!

>she's good, keeps up the tempo, which is the right choice for Poison. That whip is damn nasty

>still can't outrange my shots though. I play distance and chip away

>she's growling with frustration as I win the first round

>second round starts, she goes quiet

>glance over

>she's greening even as I trip her character

>wha-oh no!

>see her tail angling towards me

>OH HELL NO!

>caffeine-augment gamer reflex go!

>grab tail by the base of the bulb, point it AWAY from me

>she's too surprised to react

>spikes shoot out and hit some furry snake girl at the edge of the crowd

>manticore tackles me

>holy fuck. I'm in trouble

>Only thing saving me are the other thirsty monstergirls still in the game

>big one, minotaur, pulls her back

>manticore's still almost winning against like four other girls

>Bro's catgirl wife walks over and whispers something to the manticore

>bitch goes pale as a sheet and slinks away. huh

>hate to win by forfeit, but fuck her, after that I deserve it

>Tournament ends with me undefeated

>You thirsty scrubs couldn't even beat Dan Hibiki!

>still a bit shaken by that whole manticore thing.

>as an apology, owner gives me a cut of the entry fees. ka-ching!

>This time in two weeks? Sure. IF you don't pull that shit with the sign again.

>get in the car, speed home like a bullet. Feel like I'm being watched, but no more monstergirl trouble

>Over the next few months events keep firing

>a lot of the monstergirls keep coming back even once we clarify the terms

>forget about fake gamer girls, they really just like to play

>does wonders for male participation too, might even match school football game attendance soon

>kinda nice like this, was too wrapped up that first night to just appreciate the crowd and chill

>if I've got one complaint it's that I'm seeing less of my buds now outside the arcade

>One hit it off with the automaton. They've been playing all the classic SHMUPs, from Axelay to Zanac

>when he found out she could install shipgirl parts he got a little weird about it but she seemed flattered

>Lost another a couple months in when we opened up the tourney modes for other games

>that furry snake, bunyip they call her, was a huge Nintendo fan

>shows up with a custom "Wanna Smash? ⊕" T-shirt barely covering her huge knockers

>still was too shy to make the first move, but he wasn't

>now she runs events for younger kids whose parents want some personal time, have to admit it's pretty cute

>even roped me into helping out a few times, training the new generation and all that

>Last one folded just last week

>he was the Soul Calibur guy when we opened things up, not my thing so I mostly ignored it

>then he got DESTROYED by a salamander chick, playing Nightmare of all characters

>she was trash talking worse me at that event and it really got under his skin

>dragged our whole group to help him with his moves, don't know how much I helped but damn, I tried

>even took time off from work so I could do it without losing my edge in Street Fighter

>finally comes the big showdown, the two of them trading insults back and forth

>he plays as Taki, huge reach disadvantage but his footwork is impressive as hell

>blocks, rolls, and counters to pull off the win with the tiniest sliver of life left

>he turns, expecting her to be chastised, and to be fair so did I

>instead, crazy lizard pulls him in for a wild kiss

>then tells him that's just the first part of his prize and walks out swaying her hips

>yeah, he didn't make it back to the arcade that day

>Still, all this is distracting from Street Fighter, and EVO is coming up soon

>'net came back in the meantime, so that's something

>thing is, now it feels kinda sad

>no cheering audience, no snack bar, and while the pros are pros, the commenters are a bunch of assholes

>Talk with the arcade owner

>going to have a blowout. Up the prize to a full grand, split it into leagues so noobs can win something

>owner puts out some ads, I buy some of my own plus hype it on my Twitch

>Finally the day is here

>90 fucking degrees, thank God the arcade has AC

>whole place has big dick energy

>lot of locals, lot of monstergirls, lot of spectators

>even see a couple lower-tier pros hoping to snipe me while I'm playing Dan

>good luck, motherfuckers

>event starts

>matches coming fast and furious, everyone's who's stayed on has upped their game

>guess I have too. Dust two of the pros without breaking a sweat, the damn minotaur playing Rose was better

>catch a tanuki scalping pro gear under my bro's nose

>cat wife sets her straight with a little help from bunyip

>has to pay a cut to the house like other vendors

>also has to sell, and wear, a "here for da nookie" T-shirt

>keep playing

>keep winning

>check the rankings

>#1, baby!

>wait, #1 TIED?

>monstergirl just wiped the floor with the other half of the bracket

>knocked out two pros

>hoof it over there, this could be trouble

>hear a voice I recognize, the best pro here today besides me, joking "You've got rookie eyes"

<They're transplants

>the girl in question answers without missing a beat, giving him pause and me a good chuckle

>short cyclops chick with a bob cut

>er, a cyclops except for the bunch of extra eyes she has on tentacles. Dodecaiclops?

>One of them sees me

>she turns and gives me a smile

>don't know whether to call it cute or intimidating, those teeth are sharp

>and she does this all while in a match

>check her opponent

>Best pro who came today besides me. Playing Akuma. And she's pushing him back with Menat

>okay, so definitely intimidating

>her playstyle's pretty standard, just very good technically

>bud tells me she's called a gazer

>can see why

>got a gut feeling this is the gal to beat

>Two hours later I'm right

>she walks over with her own own fighting stick

>the glowing yellow eyes pained onto the punch and kick buttons are a nice touch

>wish her luck

>she chuckles

<Against Dan? Won't need it.

>alright, it is on

>Round 1, Fight!

>try to use my shots for zoning but she's good with blocks

>try to bait her into an uppercut, she doesn't bite

>slowly pushed back while trying not to leave openings

>fuck, she's close enough that reach works for her now

>start throwing a shot, cancel, and upper her drill kick. take that!

>try to rush in low to chain it

>she anticipates it, corners me with some major damage, aaand that's it

>Round 2, Fight!

>go full aggro from the start, surprise her and combo for half her health

>back off when she recovers, my win by decision if she doesn't push me

>watch like a hawk for openings, one more combo and she's done

>see one and take it

>she cancels and steps back. The hit lands but pushes her out of range

>aaaand gave her level 2 V. fuck

>don't have time to react as she counters, then juggles me to death with glowing purple balls

>Okay, you known what, I'm not even mad. That was a legit good match.

>see her grinning, offer my hand. Satisfied?

>she doesn't take it

<Are you? After all, I heard through the grapevine that this is for EVO. Surely that's not with Dan?

>girl you already got a grand, where are you going with this?

>she gives an alluring giggle

<Why not have a real match, anything goes? Win and I'll pay your trip.

>and?

<If I win, I get the original prize.

>Life has those rare moments where you're standing at a crossroads and you know it

>This is one of them

>Tonight I could walk away risk free, pay my own way to EVO, and that would be the end of it

>Except.

>Except what kind of gamer would I be if I backed down now?

>You play the game because you want to, because it's fun. If you're playing for the prize you're fucked

>You play the game to win, to master yourself and your foe. You can't win if you don't play and sometimes lose

>Most of all you play because it lets you feel alive in a world with all too few chances to do that

>And right here, right now, a girl is asking you to do just that

>How could you refuse?

>It's just her and me, this time for real

>lights are blazing

>crowd is screaming

>AC is faltering

>Speakers are blasting Balrog's Theme from SF4

>that damn cat's singing "We don't fuck Obama!" along with it like a bad karaoke

>okay, time to do this

>strap on my fingerless gloves for grip and take a long draught of cold Monster

>the girl smirks at me and takes off her oversized Slayer tee

>which is the only thing she's wearing

>holy shit

<Like what you see?

>nod dumbly, too distracted to make a snappy comeback

>don't know what I'm cursing more, her for playing dirty, or the black goo on her skin for keeping it PG-13

>no, gotta keep it in the game

>Load up Ryu

>Gazer loads Juri!? The fuck happened to Menat?

>and don't you dare give me puppy eyes after pulling that shit, especially that many of them!

>pick Brazil as the stage as a minor

>Round 1, Fight!

>don't know how she'll play, keep range and assume a standard Juri

>she's got the blocking down but shots still chip away at her

>working, until she rushes in for a light hit that evens things up

>keep it up as the timer's running down, we're both tense

>building my EX meter

>see a gap in her defense and go alpha strike on her

>block, hit, hit, and finish!?

>the last one doesn't land. see her grinning.

>she V-Triggers to steal my ex, then juggles me to death with fire kicks

>Take a breather

>damn she's good

>damn is it hot

>get a devilish idea

>wipe my forehead with an exaggerated sigh

>take a long drink

>take my shirt off and throw it behind the bar

>that's right, turnabout it fair play

>it's working too, don't think I didn't see it when your grin wavered back there

>Round 2, Fight!

>she's guarded now, playing it safe

>need to change it up

>rush in for a kick, rush back, repeat

>third rep, predict her fire kick, take the far hit on purpose

>her mouth opens in shock as I V-Trigger the hell out of her. Block this, bitch!

>She tries and the guard break gets her I go full aggro and get a stun for the win

>Another short break

>crowd is quiet now

>tension's so thick in the air you could cut it with a knife

>Gazer walks up to me as I take my seat

>dead serious, quiet voice, no sass

<Play to win, alright?

>I don't even know. Like I wasn't when I agreed to this

>Round 3 Fight!

>from the getgo she's fucking nuts

>guarding? what's that? I'll just dodge and counter everything

>damn fire kicks don't let me respond in kind

>at least I manage to duck out of a juggle and start blocking

>hurt bad, quarter health but that's still alive

>use some light hits to try to lull her into eating an EX fierce

>looks like she's going for it, and-

>she avoid it

>damn, it's like she can read my mind

>wait

>spare a quick glance to the side

>costs me a hit, but I see it

>she's watch me with her extra eyes

>she sees me look

>thinking fast, I get a slide kick, then go full back

>flip my arcade cabinet so it blocks her view

>immediately land an uppercut next time she tries dancing in towards me

>get her blocking now, which adds up. One more big hit and she's KOed

>still, between her speed and renewed caution it won't be easy

>wait for her to move in

>good, she's jumping the shots. one more...

>uppercut and miss by mere pixels, she let herself jump straight up

>Keep going. I can't get in past her kicks, she can't get through my shots and uppers

>alright, she's trying the same jump trick, I can read the frames

>upper, then cancel it into a hadouken

>Aww fuck, she's kicking in! She predicted the cancel!

>watch in horror as Ryu flies back into KO pose

>Huah-huah-huah!

>crowd goes nuts

>for a minute it doesn't even feel real

>Then the full weight of what's happening hits me

>I mean this is me

>the guy who spend pandemic year like a fucking vacation

>the guy so hopeless that he couldn't get laid at a fucking college frat party

>it's not even that I don't want to have a girlfriend, it's that I didn't think I could

>and let's be honest, I also never thought a girl as good as the one across from me even existed

>so what the fuck happens now? 500 is not a small number

>Future me can answer that. I grab my drink and wander out back in a daze

>only to be lifted up into the air from behind

>a familiar spiny bulb snakes into view

<Thought you could make a damn fool out of me, did you? Well I've been watching. I know you're alone.

<And I'm going to fuck you so hard you'll never give me lip again

>bulb opens up lick a fucking facehugger

>fuck no

>no time for pride now, scream and struggle

>it only succeeds in arousing her more

>she runs a single claw against my chest, then licks the blood off

>really wish I had my shirt now

>feel a spike in my thigh, then a rising boner

>manticore shreds my pants

>and then nothing

>I turn and there's no resistance

>and see her go flying into the wall hard enough to crack the bricks

<You were warned, cat

>see my savior from the corner of my eye

>It's the gazer, eyes all glowing with purple energy

>huh, guess that explains her mains

<Anon, are you alright?

>Other than an intense urge to ravish everyone in front of me? Just peachy

>she walks up to me, gently turns my head to face her, and melts away the last few bits of black goo

<There. Now there's no problem.

>Talking things over later, we agreed that was both the best and worst way to lose your virginity

>After that, everything else seemed easy

>turns out the she'd had her eyes on me from the start, but had her doubts

>some other guy'd been a fucking dick to her before, what won her over was me helping build up the arcade

>meanwhile, monstergirls can somehow sense if you're, er, taken, and even manticores respect that

>Romance does come with a learning curve, but it's true what they tell you, communication is key

>pretty easy with a gamer girlfriend, after the tourney "rookie eyes" became our own injoke.

>sure there were fuckups, definitely on my part, but when you play to win, a mistake means "do better"

>And this was a relationship we were definitely playing to win.


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