• Published 8th May 2013
  • 4,280 Views, 333 Comments

Po-Ni-Oh!: Rise of the Heroes - flawlessvictory20

Follow the exploits of young pegasus named Star Driver as he sets out to become the next King of Games.

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Chapter 03 - The Tournament Begins

Early the next day, the train bound for the tournament sped down the track. With the Crystal Empire only a few minutes away, the participants began to prepare themselves for their upcoming matches mentally. While most of them were silent, two energetic ponies were too excited to remain in their seats.

“I can't wait 'til we get there! This tournament is going to be so much fun!” exclaimed Pinkie Pie.

The energetic mare's attire was now a light blue tank top with a white undershirt, white fingerless gloves with bright blue trim, and blue pants. As Pinkie moved about excitedly, she turned to her ochre friend.

“Aren't you excited, Star?” asked Pinkie Pie.
“You bet, Pinkie! I wonder who I'm gonna duel first!” chimed Star.

The ochre stallion's attire had changed to a black shirt with a white jacket trimmed with black accents, and blue pants.

“Ooh, what if it's me? Wouldn't that be funerific? We make it an epic clash between two friends,” she said, as she bounced with excitement.
“Yeah, and then it would come down to the last move, and we both would give it our all! Ooh, why won't this train hurry up! I'm itchin' to duel!” he replied.

As the two continued their energetic conversation, their friends that sat across from them couldn't help but laugh at their display.

“Those two sure are lively ain't they,” Applejack chuckled.

The southern belle's attire was a white shirt complemented with a light brown jacket, light brown pants, and her trademark brown stetson.

“Yeah, it's kinda funny to see them talk with such energy,” replied Fluttershy.

She has changed her attire for the tournament. She was now sporting a white tube top with a green vest, and white pants. Twilight then looked up from reading her book little annoyed.

“Well, couldn't they be a little quieter? Some of us are trying to finalize our strategies,” said a bemused Twilight.

The studious mare wore a white collared shirt with a butter yellow sweater vest (which had an emblem of her cutie mark on the left breast), a brown skirt, and black stockings.

“Come now, darling. They're just anxious about the tournament,” chimed Rarity.
The fashionista's apparel was a red silk turtleneck shirt with a black jacket and black pants with a gold chain belt.
“Yeah, but Twilight's right, though. We're not the only ones on the train,” Rainbow Dash motioned to the other passengers.

The prismatic maned mare's duds were a dark blue sports vest with light blue trim and light brown cargo shorts. As Rainbow was prepared to call out to the rambunctious pair, a voice bellowed from the front of the car.

“Why don't you dweebs pipe down already!” yelled the voice.
'I know that voice!' Rainbow thought to herself.
The two turned saw it was an annoyed griffon glaring back at them. She wore a white tank top with a brown pilot jacket, lilac pants with a yellow belt, a silver pocket chain, and black biker boots.
“Oh, hey Gildie!” smiled Pinkie.
“It's Gilda!” bellowed the annoyed griffin.
“I know, but Gildie sounds cuter,” replied Pinkie Pie.
“Whatever, just keep it down. Some of us real duelist are trying to prepare for the tournament,” mocked Gilda.
As she returned to her seat, Star began to walk to the front of the car.
“What do you mean by real duelist? What makes you think we aren't?” asked Star.
As he stood in front of the punk rocker with his arms folded, he awaited her response. However, his arrival was met with a snicker.
“You're kidding, right? Just take a look around,” she motioned to the other passengers.

Star saw the majority of the passengers were silently reviewing strategies, while others were merely shuffling their decks.

“Unlike you and Ms. Party Pony over there, the rest of us are taking this tournament seriously,” explained Gilda.
Star took offense to the griffon's statement.
“So just because Pinks and I are having fun and not being a stuffed-shirt duelist like you guys, we're not real duelists?” asked Star.
“I knew a novice like you wouldn't understand?” scoffed Gilda.
With that comment, Star's anger began to rise.
Who're you calling a novice?!” exclaimed Star.
“That would be you, dweeb! I bet you won't make it past the preliminaries,” mocked Gilda, as she looked out the window.

At that moment, something inside of Star snapped. There were not many things could make him upset, but being called a 'novice' was one of them. His left eye began to twitch as he felt his anger reach its peak slightly. Before he could reply to her rude comment, Pinkie Pie rushed over to Star and covered his mouth with her hand.

“Sorry about that, Gildie. He can get a little passionate when it comes to dueling,” Pinkie said with a nervous smile.
“For the last time Pinkie...it's Gilda!” stated the griffon, still looking out the window.
“Right, we'll try to keep it down okay,” smiled Pinkie Pie.
“See that you do!” huffed Gilda.

As the two friends made their way back to their seat, Star removed Pinkie's hand from his mouth. Once free to speak, he exclaimed,

“Well, I guess it's for the best. I mean who better to advise on dueling than duelist who fought so hard only to lose the final match to...who was it again? Oh yeah, Twilight Sparkle,” he said in a condescending tone.

It was then he noticed that she slightly flinched at his statement. Now that he knew he had her attention, Star proceeded to mock her further.

“I mean can we possibly match her knowledge of dueling prowess. I mean she fought so hard but was all for naught. I don't think the match even lasted only one round,” scoffed Star.
“It lasted all three rounds, and you know that Star,” yelled Twilight from the back of the train.
“Umm, Star. Maybe you shouldn't provoke her like that,” warned Pinkie Pie.
“No worries, Pinkie. It not like she's a real threat or anything,” he replied.

At that moment, Star felt a sharp tug on his tail. He looked back to see Gilda stood behind him with his tail firmly in her talons.

“Oh my, Gildie. Hit a nerve, did I?” he said, with a smug smile.
“You think you're real funny?! Don't ya, kid?!” Gilda spoke through her gritted teeth.
“Well, I do have a stand-up I perform at Sugarcube Corner every Friday,” he answered, with a heavy dose of sarcasm.
Gilda to spin Star around. She proceeded, grabbed him by his collar, and lifted him in the air.
“How 'bout I leave you in stitches?!” she bellowed.
“Geez, Gildie. Can't you take a joke?” chuckled Star.
“Why you little-” she shouted.
Just as she was prepared to deliver a punch to Star's jaw, and a voice rang over the P.A. system.
'Attention passengers! We’re now arriving at the Crystal Empire! Please exit in an orderly fashion,' the voice stated.
Taking that as her cue, Gilda threw Star to the ground.
“Consider yourself lucky, kid. I'll let you go this time, but the next time you won't be so lucky,” huffed Gilda, as she walked back to her seat.
“Ooh, I'm shaking in my hooves,” mocked Star.

As she chose to ignore his comment, Gilda grabbed her belongings and headed for the exit. Just as she was leaving, she bumped into a mare. As the cobalt mare fell to the ground, her cards spilled on the floor. She was a timid looking earth mare — her shocking blue mane with dark gray highlights which was in a bob style. Her bangs slightly covered her aquamarine eyes which hid underneath her frame-less glasses. She wore a maroon hoodie, a black skirt, and black and red striped stockings.

“Oh, dear. I'm so sorry. I didn't watch where I was going,” the mare spoke softly, as she knelt to gather the cards.
When she looked up for a brief moment, she saw the menacing glare of Gilda.
“Well, watch where you're going next time!” barked Gilda, which caused the mare to flinch.

As the train came to a stop, Gilda stormed out the door. The other competitors also made their way off the train, and none stopped to aide poor the earth pony. As she began to sniffle lightly, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up to see the caring smile of Star Driver.

“Need a little help?” he asked.
“Y-Yes, thank you...” she timidly spoke.
“No need to worry about her. We're not all like Ms. Ruffled Feathers,” he said, as he began to pick up her cards.

She lightly blushed as she continued to pick up her cards. Before she knew it, two other mares were helping out as well.

“Hope y'all don't mind. But we figured you could use a little help,” Applejack said with a smile.
“Oh...t-thank you...” she replied.
“Hi, there. What's your name?” asked Pinkie Pie, who suddenly appeared only inches away from the mare.
GAH!” said the mare, as she fell backwards in shock.
“Oops, sorry. I didn't mean to startle you,” Pinkie said, as she offered to help her up.
“Th-That's okay...” she said, accepting her gesture.
Back to a sitting position, Pinkie Pie extended her hand.
“I'm Pinkie Pie,” she smiled.
“I-I'm Phantom Heart,” said the mare, as she shook Pinkie's hand.
“Pleased to meetcha!” grinned Pinkie Pie.
“L-Likewise...” Phantom Heart replied.
“Ah'm Applejack,” she said, tipping her stetson.
“And I'm Star Driver, the next 'King of Games!'” he said, with a confident smile.
This earned him a playful punch to his arm.
“Ow! Applejack, what was that for?” he said, as he rubbed his arm, pretending to be hurt.
“Don't get ahead of yerself, Star. It could be any one of us,” answered Applejack.

He playfully stuck his tongue at Applejack, causing the other two mares to laugh. After a few moments, all of Phantom Heart's cards were gathered.

“Thank you all so much,” she smiled.
“Don't mention it, sugarcube,” said Applejack.
“It was my pleasure,” chimed Star.
“You're welcome,” grinned Pinkie Pie.

As the group exited the train, they're greeted by Twilight and the others.
“What took you guys so long?” asked Rainbow Dash.
“Sorry, we were just helping out our new friend here,” answered Star.
As she heard the word 'friend', it caused a small smile to appear on Phantom Heart's face.
“That's cool I guess,” said Rainbow Dash.
She extended a hand to Phantom Heart.
“The name's Rainbow Dash!” grinned the pegasus.
With a timid smile, she shook Rainbow Dash's hand.
“I-I'm Phantom Heart. It's nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” said Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow looked behind her to see Spike was walking up to the group. The drake donned a purple sports vest with a horizontal white stripe in the center, black wristbands, dark gray fingerless gloves, purple pants, and white sneakers. In his arms, he was carrying various sweets and pastries.

“Hey, Spike. Where ya been?” she inquired.
“I was in the dining car getting us all snacks,” he said with a smile.
“Why thank you, Spike. I was getting a little hungry,” replied Twilight.
“A gentledrake like always,” chimed Rarity.
“Well, I try,” Spike replied with a blush.
As he handed out the snacks, he noticed the new addition to the group.
“Hi, there! I'm Spike!” he said, extending his claw.

Phantom Heart quickly hid behind Star when she saw the purple dragon. This action left the group somewhat confused. Seeing their confusion, she explained herself.

“S-Sorry about that. I'm just a little scared of dragons,” she nervously spoke.

The caused them all to chuckle lightly. Still hidden behind Star, Phantom Heart felt a hand placed on her shoulder. She turned to see Fluttershy warmly smiling at her.

“I know how you feel, but you don't have to worry. Spike's a good dragon,” she stated.
“R-Really?” asked Phantom Heart.
Fluttershy merely responded with a nod. With Fluttershy's encouragement, she felt a little braver and walked toward Spike. He once again offered his claw to her. Timidly she shook Spike's claw.
“See, I'm not such a bad guy,” smiled the drake.
“Y-Yeah...” she softly smiled.
“There are my other participants. We all have been waiting for you,” spoke an approaching voice.
They turned to see Pegasus greeting them with a smile.
“Why are you all just standing around? If you don't hurry, you'll miss the opening ceremony. And we wouldn't want that now, would we?” he said, as he guided them to the station's exit.

Before they could reply, Pegasus had already forced them off the platform and onto the large caravan that had the other participants of the tournament waiting for them. Without a word, the convoy departed for the Crystal Coliseum.

As they traveled down the crystal street, Star couldn't help but marvel at the crystallize city. Never before had he seen roads reflect so beautifully from the sun to display so many vibrant colors. Not to mention all of the crystal ponies, all with their coats that seemed to shimmer with the brilliance of rarest of diamonds. Also, he gleamed at all the various banners and decorations on the buildings and street signs to commemorate the tournament. Like a foal on his first field trip, Star moved about the caravan pointing out almost everything that caught his interest. While some of the passengers laughed at his behavior, others were not too amused. One such mare spoke up.

“Do you mind? Trixie isn't in the mood for your childish antics?” huffed an annoyed unicorn.

When he heard the voice, his child-like enthusiasm vanished, and his expression quickly went sour as he knew it was the so-called “Great and Powerful” Trixie. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw her look of annoyance. She was short-sleeved light blue miniskirt dress with a navy blue corset, her iconic purple cape, and hat with starry patterns, and blue stockings. As he turned to her, he quickly reverted his face to a warm smile.

“Pardon me?” smiled Star.
“You heard Trixie. Trixie doesn't need to repeat herself,” scoffed the boisterous mare.
“Really? I thought you love to hear yourself talk?” he quipped.

The whole caravan erupted with a collective 'ooh'. Trixie's face displayed a light blush.

“What was that?” she shouted.
“Oh nothing,” Star said, as he took his seat which was in between Phantom Heart and Fluttershy.
The rest of the trip was spent with Star talking with Phantom Heart and Fluttershy.

Within minutes, the caravan had finally reached the arena. The Crystal Coliseum was a sight to behold. The dome shimmered like diamonds as the sun reflected off the roof. The entrance gate was a blue crystallize arch with two pillars on either side. Atop the arc was a statue of Princess Cadence and Shining Armor holding the Crystal Heart high above them. The gate was filled with all manner of beings (griffon, pegasi, earth ponies, unicorns, etc.) from all over Equestria. As they exited the caravan, Star let his inner foal take over once again.

“Wow, there are so many ponies here! And just look at that stadium. This is where we are going to be dueling? It’s so...so...AWESOME!!” he exclaimed.
“He's a little excited, isn't he?” chuckled Fluttershy.
“Ah guess you can say that,” replied Applejack.
“Alright, everypony. If you would be so kind as to follow me to the Duel Field. The opening ceremony is about to begin,” Pegasus motion the group inside.
As they made their way through the gates, the group heard a voice call out to them.
“Twily!” shouted the voice.

Twilight instantly knew who it was. She turned to see her big brother Shining Armor running to greet her, with Princess Cadence not too far behind. Cadence wore a light purple crew-neck sports sweater with lilac trim, her golden crown, and white pants. While her husband donned a white V-neck shirt with a red jacket and white pants. As he reached his beloved sister, Shining Armor, warmly embraced her.

“Twily, I've missed you. How was your trip?” he asked after he released his embrace.
“It was...eventful to say the least,” she answered, giving Star a sideways glance.
“So, are you ready for the tournament?” asked Cadence.
“Ready as I'll ever be!” she said, with a confident smirk.
As he saw the fire in his sister's eyes, Shining Armor couldn't help but chuckle.
'Same old, Twily.'
“If there are no further interruptions, could we please make our way to the Duel Field. The princess is waiting for us,” said Pegasus, in a slightly annoyed tone.
They picked up on his tone, and then followed Pegasus into the arena.

Meanwhile, inside the arena, the crystal stands that encompassed the field were filled with fans that were eager for the tournament to begin. In the middle of the stage on lay quartz cylindrical pillar, attached to the roof, which held four crystal screens that magically displayed the action. On the field, which was a see-through emerald platform with white lines to mark the dueling area, Princess Celestia prepared to begin the opening ceremony. The regal alicorn's apparel was a long sweetheart neckline dress with her Cutie Mark on the lower right hem, her golden regalia (necklace, crown, bracelets, and belt), and lilac arm warmers.

“Fillies and gentlecolts, I welcome you all to the 15th Annual Equestrian Dueling Tournament!” she spoke elegantly, with a microphone in hand.
The crowd exploded with cheer.
“Today, we shall have the first round of the preliminary matches to determine who will move on to the quarter-finals.”
She motioned to the corridor at the north end of the arena.
“Please join me in welcoming the winners of the qualifying rounds.”

As if on cue, the sixteen participants walked out of the corridor toward the field, with Pegasus close behind them. As they walked to the field, the group waved to the cheering crowd. But none waved with more enthusiasm than Star Driver. As they all reached the field, Princess Celestia continued.

“It is my pleasure to introduce the participants. First, we have Rainbow Dash.” spoke the regal mare.
Rainbow Dash responded to the roaring crowd with a fist pump. This was greeted by her adopted sister, Scootaloo, cheering with all her might.
“Then, we have Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie.”
The two mares waved to the crowd.
“Next, we have Rarity and Applejack.”
Their names are met with loud applause. But the two mares could hear each of their sister’s cheer over the roar of the crowd.
“Also, there's Spike and Star Driver.”
As the crowd erupted, the two friends drank in the applause.
“Plus, we have Derpy and Phantom Heart.”
The two mares the emphatically waved to the cheering crowd. Derpy's attire was a white short-sleeved shirt with bubbles on the front, a grey jacket, black shorts, with light gray stockings.
“Let's not forget Big Macintosh and The Great and Powerful Trixie.”
As the two greeted the crowd, Trixie fed off the applause. Big Macintosh's clothes were a brown vest, tan wristbands, and blue jeans with a black belt.
“Also, we have Gilda and Lightning Dust.”

Their names are met with a mixed response. While some did cheer, others merely booed. Lightning Dust wore a cream short-sleeved V-neck shirt, light opal jacket with blue trim, blue jean shorts, and white stockings.

“Then there's the Crystal Empire's princess and prince...Shining Armor and Princess Cadence.”
The crowd's reaction blew the others out of the water. It felt as if the roof would crack from the noise.
“And last, but not least, we have the reigning champion. Let's hear it for the 'Queen of Games' Twilight Sparkle.”
Though the cheer was loud, it wasn't like the one before it.
“These participants fought hard to make to this stage. And now without further ado, let the tournament begin!”
Now the crowd was excited to see who would be dueling in the first match. As Pegasus made his way to Celestia, a devious smile appeared on Pegasus face.
'It's all coming together. Soon she shall be free!'
As he reached Celestia, his expression changed back to a gentle smile. Handing him the microphone, Celestia retired to the royal box to view the tournament.
“Alright, ponies. Let's see who will be dueling first in these preliminary rounds. Please direct your attention to the monitor on the north end of the stadium,” stated Pegasus.
As instructed, everypony turned to the monitor. After a few seconds, the faces of all the competitors appeared on the screen.
“Now, let's give this roster a shuffle!”
The images then flipped over to reveal the Crystal Empire logo. After a brief shuffling animation, the matches were set.
“There you have it ponies! Now, who will be the first competitors to duel?” said Pegasus.
The first two cards then flipped over to reveal Spike and Rarity.
“And the first match will be Rarity vs. Spike!”

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