• Published 30th Apr 2016
  • 9,140 Views, 967 Comments

My Little Pony: Friendship is Numerous - Monty Eggman



Based on the Equestria Girls movies and Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, this series tells the story of Sunset Shimmer in her quest to locate a series of dangerous cards that corrupt those who find them. It's time to Duel!

  • ...
10
 967
 9,140

Chapters Next
RANK 1: Friendship is Numerous:

Author's Note:

Welcome to the first episode (or Rank) of Friendship is Numerous! I started working on this series at the same time I was writing Mega Pony, and is one that I also had a lot of fun writing. I wanted to try to do something involving the Equestria Girls universe for some time, while also finding a way to include one of my other fandoms. Anyway, whether you're a Yu-Gi-Oh! novice or expert, I do hope you'll enjoy what I have to offer. Anyway, read on and enjoy!

RANK 1: Friendship is Numerous:
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Infinity upon infinity...

There is a theory amongst our greatest minds, that our universe, as expansive as it may be, is not the only one. They believe that there may be an infinite number of other universes out there: Some are slightly different from our own, while others vastly deviate from ours.

As a result, these "alternate realities" may play out similar events differently from another reality. In one such case, in one universe, a great battle between two worlds took place: The war between the Astral World and the Barian World, with Planet Earth as the stage. In this war, one world sought to eliminate the other to increase the power of their own. During the battle, fragments of power from both sides were scattered across Earth, and the two worlds clashed in order to reclaim this power, in the form of the mysterious "Numeron Code". In time, the war ended with the Astral World's victory, and peace was brought to the universe once more.

However, in another universe, the story of this battle took on a slightly different variation; like before, this war would determine the fate of the universe. But how it started and who got involved resulted in a much more different retelling of the tale...

This is the story of a young teenage girl, who is seeking to do good in her life to make up for many past mistakes. On this day, however, a certain event will soon take place that will change the lives of both her and those around her forever...

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Rural area, outside Canterlot City: Time 12:54 p.m.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

It was a bright and sunny Sunday; a perfect time for people to spend the day outside. For many, including the residents of the bustling city of Canterlot, that day would be spent outside of the metropolis, at the large-scale flea market that was open to the public every weekend. Many people attended the flea market - either as merchants selling their wares, or as customers checking out all of the various goods. All in all, it saw a lot of business each week, and everybody left the market with content smiles upon their faces.

In the parking lot, a pair of vehicles pulled into two parking spaces beside each other. One of the vehicles was a large, red pickup truck. There was a bit of caked-on mud along the bottom of the truck, which suggested that it was often used for various forms of work as well as for transportation. The other vehicle was a bright pink Volkswagon Beetle, which was heavily decorated with all sorts of fun-looking stickers. On either side of the vehicle, the word "PARTYMOBILE" was painted in many bright colors. On the back bumper, there was a bumper sticker that read, "Honk if you like parties".

The passenger side door of the red truck opened first, and out of the vehicle stepped a young teenage girl. She had yellow skin, swirly red and yellow hair, and aqua green-colored eyes. She wore a black leather jacket overtop of a purple shirt with a picture of a red and yellow sun on it, an orange skirt with yellow and purple stripes, and a pair of long, black boots, each with a purple flame pattern on them.

The driver's side door of the truck opened next, and another teenage girl stepped out of the vehicle. She had orange-colored skin, with yellow freckles under her bright green eyes. She had long blond hair tied up into a ponytail underneath her brown cowgirl hat. She wore a white shirt with green towards the top of it, a blue jean skirt held up with a brown belt with an apple-shaped buckle, and a pair of brown cowgirl boots that each had a picture of three apples on them, arranged together in a triangular pattern.

The orange-skinned girl wiped some sweat from her forehead after leaving the pickup truck. "Whoo-ee, it sure is hot today!" she said, commenting on the sunny weather. Looking over towards the yellow-skinned girl, she asked her, "How come you ain't gettin' warm from wearin' that black jacket, Sunset Shimmer?"

"Not sure, to be honest." the yellow girl answered. "I've had this outfit since I first came here, so I guess I've just gotten used to it..." The girl's name was Sunset Shimmer, and although she appeared to be an ordinary person, she had a secret known only to her and her close friends: She was actually from another universe entirely, a world that was populated by ponies. Long ago, she had used a magic mirror to travel from her world to this one, and had been living here ever since.

Sunset glanced over at the bright pink vehicle next to the truck and stated, "I guess everyone else decided to carpool with Pinkie Pie..." She then asked the orange-skinned girl, "Is it just me, Applejack, or does she seem to have more decorative stickers on her car every day?"

"It ain't just you, Sunset." the girl named Applejack replied. "Ah've noticed that too. What Ah'm really wonderin' is where she keeps gettin' more stickers; Ah'm startin' t' think that she must have a whole garage full of those things..."

"Wow! How'd you know about my secret sticker garage?" asked a bubbly, cheery voice. "I've never told anyone about it!" The voice had come from a grinning, pink-skinned girl that had come out from the driver's side of the pink car. She had poofy hair that was colored in a darker pink color, and had bright, baby-blue eyes.

She wore a dress that was white on the top and magenta on the bottom; the top of the dress had a pink heart shape printed upon it, while the skirt portion had a picture of three balloons (two blue and one yellow). The dress was held together with a purple band around the waist, and overtop of it, the girl wore a small blue shirt. The rest of the ensemble consisted of two blue bracelets and a pair of blue boots, the latter of which were tied with a pink ribbon on each.

"Wait, you actually have a garage with nothin' but stickers in it?" asked Applejack. The pink girl vigorously nodded yes to answer her. "So then..." the orange girl then inquired, "where do y'all put your car?"

The pink girl giggled and replied, "Where else? The garage!"

"So wait: You have more than one?"

"Nope. Just the one."

Applejack was about to ask another question regarding how she could possibly fit a car in a garage that was supposedly completely filled with decal stickers. But in the end, she just sighed and decided not to try and inquire her about it any further.

Sunset chuckled a bit at the conversation between the two before saying to the pink girl, "Hey, Pinkie Pie... I see you're just as silly as you were yesterday."

"Really?? Only JUST as silly as yesterday?" asked Pinkie, a bit disappointed. "Aww...and after I try my darndest to be sillier every day!"

"Um, I didn't mean it like that..." the yellow girl told her. "I'm...I'm sure you'll find a way to top yourself sometime today." The pink girl smiled, happy to hear that. Just after Sunset made that comment, the other three occupants of the pink car stepped out onto the pavement of the parking lot.

The first one, coming out of the front passenger's side door, was a girl with pure white skin and dark blue eyes, topped with blue eye shadow and large eyelashes. She had long, swirly hair that was violet in color with a jeweled barrette on top. Her dress was light blue on top, and the skirt was of a similar violet color to her hair with a picture of three, four-sided diamonds printed upon it. The dress was held together with a purple belt with a blue buckle, she wore a pair of gold bracelets on her wrists, and she wore a pair of purple boots, each one emblazoned with a shiny, blue gem on the top.

The second one, coming from the driver's side back door, was a cyan-skinned girl with magenta-colored eyes, and scruffy, rainbow-colored hair. She wore a white shirt with a rainbow-colored lightning bolt printed upon it, with a cobalt blue shirt overtop of it. She had on a pink skirt with white stripes (with black shorts worn underneath), two rainbow-colored wristbands on her wrists, and large blue shoes that seemed to be a cross between boots and sneakers, based on their appearance.

The last of the passengers from Pinkie's car came out from the other back door. She also had yellow skin, but it was slightly lighter in color compared to Sunset Shimmer. She had bluish-green colored eyes with pale pink eye shadow, and long, elegant-looking pink hair with a butterfly-shaped barrette worn off to the side. Her sleeveless dress was white on the top, while the skirt portion was colored a light green with pink and white frills on the bottom of it and a picture of three butterflies printed on the front. Her boots were also colored green, with white soles on the bottom, and white frills at the top. She also had on a pair of pink socks with white polka-dots.

The violet-haired girl looked up towards the sky while shielding her eyes from the bright sun above. "Oh dear...it certainly is warm today..." she commented. "Had I known that, I might have dressed a bit lighter." She then reached into a purple purse that she was carrying with her, pulled out a pair of pink sunglasses with pink lenses, and put them on her face. "There...that's a little better..."

"Rarity's right," said the rainbow-haired girl next, waving her hand in front of her face in an attempt to cool herself down, "it is pretty hot today; I'm already startin' to sweat." She then asked the pink-skinned girl, "Hey, Pinkie! You wouldn't happen to have-"

"Refreshments?" Pinkie Pie interrupted, finishing her friend's question. "Of course I do, Rainbow Dash!" She then unlocked the back trunk of her car, opening it to reveal a large cooler inside. Pinkie then opened the cooler, inside of which were all sorts of different kinds of drinks in plastic bottles. Pulling out a bottle of spring water, she then said, "Here ya go, Dashie! Think fast!"

The pink girl tossed the beverage over to Rainbow Dash, who smirked as she easily caught it in mid-air. "Thanks, Pinkie." she told her, popping the top off of the bottle and gulping down some of the water inside.

"Mineral water for me, if you don't mind." Rarity requested.

"Alrighty-righty, Rarity!" Pinkie responded, getting out the drink that the violet-haired girl wanted. After that, the pink girl gave the rest of her friends the drinks they wanted, with Applejack getting a bottle of apple juice, the pale yellow girl having some fruit punch, and after that came a pair of Colta-Cola cans: One for Sunset and one for herself.

"Alrighty then...if we're all ready, then let's get a move on before all the good stuff's taken." Applejack then suggested. The other five girls nodded and followed her to the entrance to the flea market.

The six teenagers strolled through the gigantic open market, taking in all of the sights and sounds. People from all over the city and the suburbs had come to get the best deals on all sorts of different things, and there were many booths set up, each one selling unique wares. There was so much going on, it was almost impossible to see it all in just one day. "So, where should we go first?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Not really sure." Applejack responded. "But whatever we do, we can't dilly-dally fer too long. We need to get to the main buildin' by 2 o' clock fer the big Farmer's Auction. Ah heard there's gonna be all sorts of neat antique farmin' equipment up fer grabs, and Ah don't wanna miss mah chance at gettin' some!"

"Don't worry, we'll make it on time." Rainbow assured her. "We all know how much your family likes collectin' old farm stuff." She then said, "Until then, if anybody needs me, I'll be lookin' around for some new sports equipment. Later!" The cyan-skinned girl then sped off to do some browsing of her own.

Applejack then asked Rarity, "What about you, Rare? What'll you be doin' fer the next hour or so?"

"I think I'll see if the big clothing booth has anything interesting to purchase this week." the white-skinned girl replied. "I could always use a new dress or something to change my style every now and then..."

"I think that stand is right next to the pet supplies booth..." the pale yellow girl then chimed in, speaking in a very quiet tone of voice. "I need to go and see if there's anything I can get for the animal shelter... Perhaps I could come over there with you...if that's okay with you, that is..."

"Of course it's alright, Fluttershy." Rarity told her. "Let's go right away." As they walked, the violet-haired girl then added, "If I could make a suggestion, perhaps you could get something to pacify those hamsters of yours so that they don't go crazy again..."

"Now, now...they were just being playful." Fluttershy informed her. "They didn't mean to upset you..."

After the two of them left, Applejack then turned over towards Sunset and Pinkie, saying to them, "Looks like it'll be just the three of us fer a while, huh?"

"Seems like it." Sunset replied. She then asked, "So what should we do first?"

"Ooooh! Ooooh! I know!!" shouted Pinkie excitedly. "Why don't we go and see if we can finally find something at the market that Sunnie might like?"

"Uh..." was all that the red and yellow-haired girl could utter.

"That sounds like a mighty fine idea t' me, Pinkie!" stated the orange girl.

"Um...do we really have to?" asked Sunset, not sure why they decided to focus on her right now.

"Well...it's just that Ah couldn't help but notice that y'all come with us to the flea market every week, but y'all never get anythin'." Applejack noted. "Now Ah know you don't exactly have a place of yer own right now, but it still seems kinda weird... Not t' offend or nothin', mind you. It's just that Ah would think you'd have at least some cash saved up by now..."

"Don't worry about it. I understand what you're saying." Sunset told her. "Money's not the issue here, really..." She then went on to say, "The truth is, I'm just saving up for something really special, that's all."

"Special how?" asked Pinkie curiously.

"Well," Sunset began to explain. "When I first came here...I was quite possibly the worst kind of person imaginable. I hurt a lot of people, especially you guys..." Letting out a sigh, she then told them, "But thanks to all of you - and Twilight of course, the old Sunset Shimmer is gone and she's never coming back. I've become a much better person on the inside, and for the first time in quite a while...I'm finally happy. You guys have done so much for me, despite what I did to all of you and others, and I want you to know that I truly appreciate it..."

"It was our pleasure, Sunset." Applejack responded with a smile.

The yellow-skinned girl then added, "So, because of that, I wanted to find some sort of memento; something to symbolize my fresh start in life. Something that will remind me every day to be the good person that I should be and want to be."

Pinkie sniffled a little upon hearing those words. "That's so beautiful..." she replied. "Up to now, I never thought that I could cry and be happy at the same time."

Applejack was also happy to hear what Sunset had told them both. "That was well said, Sunset... Ah'm happy to know that you believe that and are doin' your best to be a better person." The country girl then told her, "And after hearin' all that, Ah'd be honored t' help y'all find that special somethin' that yer lookin' for!"

"Me too!!" chimed Pinkie.

Sunset smiled and told them, "Thanks, girls. That means a whole lot to me." Putting on a look of determination, she then declared, "In that case, let's go and see if we can find that thing today!"

"Yeah! Let's go!" Applejack and Pinkie Pie shouted in unison. With that, the trio then began strolling around the various stands to try and help Sunset find the special thing she was looking for.

Several minutes passed by since then; it was nearly quarter to two, meaning that there were only fifteen minutes left until the Farmer's Auction that Applejack wanted to get to was scheduled to start. Unfortunately, the trio didn't have much luck finding that special something that Sunset wanted.

"Oooooh! What about that, Sunnie?" asked Pinkie Pie, pointing to a fancy-looking dress that was being sold by a light-peach colored woman with light-blue hair.

"...Nah, I already thought about getting a new look." Sunset told her. "I was actually thinking about going with something that was light-blue in color, as a matter of fact."

"Well, y'all can't go wrong with a cute li'l plush toy." suggested Applejack, picking up a small stuffed animal that just so happened to be a pony with a yellow coat. "How 'bout this one?" she then asked.

"Uh, that's okay... I think I'll pass." the yellow girl told her. "No offense, but the ponies in your world look kinda weird." She then chuckled and added, "But then again, I guess you'd say the same to me if you saw any of the ones from where I came from." Applejack chuckled back as she put the stuffed toy away.

Pinkie sighed a little and told her friends, "That's just about all the booths here...and we still didn't find anything superly-special for Sunset yet!" Frowning a little, she said to the yellow girl, "Sorry we couldn't help you out..."

"Aw, don't get too bummed out, Pinkie." Sunset told her, patting her on the shoulder. "Maybe we can try again next week."

Suddenly the three of them heard a deep-sounding female voice from nearby. "If something special is what you all seek, then why not come here and take a peek?" the voice said to them.

The three of them looked around, trying to figure out where the voice came from. "Uh, who said that?" asked Applejack.

"Over there!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, pointing over to another booth.

The others looked in the direction that their pink friend was pointing in. There, they saw a stand that sold some rather... unique items. The objects on display consisted of many strange, ancient-looking artifacts that appeared to have been gathered from all over the world.

The woman in charge of the stand was also quite unique herself: Her skin color was mostly light grey, with several dark grey stripes and blotches dotted all over her. Her black-and-white hair was done up into a stylish mohawk, with some hair draped behind her head. She had cobalt-blue eyes, and wore what appeared to be a dress made out of animal skin (or at least it looked as though it was made out of it), colored in tan and dark green stripes, held together with a belt that had a swirly spiral design on the buckle. Her footwear was of a similar color to her dress, meaning that it was likely made from the same material. The woman also wore several bracelets on each of her wrists, large earrings on her ears, and several gold bands around her neck.

"Who's that?" asked Sunset Shimmer, having never seen this woman before.

Applejack looked at the woman closely and finally recognized her. "Hold up...Ah know who she is!" she exclaimed. She then asked the woman, "Ain't you Zecora, the woman who runs the curio shop in town?"

The woman nodded yes and told the country girl, "Your words, they are indeed true; selling unique artifacts is what I love to do."

"Unique artifacts, huh...?" Sunset Shimmer said to herself as she looked at all of the different items that Zecora had for sale. Needless to say, the collection was quite impressive. "Wow...these all look so neat! Where'd you find them all?" she then asked the woman.

"It is my life's work, to travel far and wide," Zecora began, "to look for items that others would buy. Once every year, I go on a trip; by plane, or train, or even ship. Once I arrive, I look around...to search for things that have never been found."

"Really?" asked Sunset, becoming interested.

"Yep!" Pinkie chimed in. "Every time Zecora returns from one of her big, long trips, she comes back with all sortsa superly-duperly neat stuff! Rarity thinks some of it is creepy, but I think it all looks so COOL!!"

"Wow...that must be a really exciting life for you, Zecora." the yellow girl then told the worldly woman. "Y'know, to be able to see all sorts of neat places, people, and things. It sounds like something somepo-er, somebody would really enjoy."

"I must admit, I have no regret." Zecora said with a nod, She then asked them, "So, now that the introductions are out of the way, tell me: How can I help you three today?"

"Well, Sunset here's tryin' to find somethin' real special fer herself, and we're helpin' her look for it." Applejack replied. "Y'all think one of them li'l trinkets might be what she's lookin' for?"

"It's quite possible, so please look around. I promise you won't leave here with a frown." stated the woman.

The three of them scanned her table and looked at all of the unique objects on display. The items included jewelry, pots and statues made from mud and/or clay, and even some clothing that had a tribal-like appearance to them. The trio looked around, but nothing seemed to really catch their eye.

Then, all of a sudden, Sunset noticed one item on the table that immediately got her undivided attention. "What's this?" she asked as she picked the small object up. The item was an arrowhead-shaped piece of gold with a very pointy end on the bottom. The object was shaped like an arrowhead, but it didn't have the typical appearance of one; there were small gaps on either side of the item after the pointed end, preceding a small bar above it. A second set of gaps was in between that bar and a second bar that was put all the way on the top. The pointed part contained long creases on the front and back, along the very tip and on all the connecting bars. The top of the item was adorned with an aqua green jewel and a small, diamond-shaped piece connected to that.

"Wow...lookit that..." said Applejack as Sunset Shimmer held the item between her thumb and index finger.

"It's so pretty..." commented Pinkie Pie, eyes sparkling. "If Rarity were here, she'd so totally say that the jewel matches your eyes perfectly!"

"I have to say, it DOES look pretty nice..." the yellow girl commented. She then asked Zecora, "Where'd you find this thing?"

The woman hummed a bit to herself before telling her, "It is quite bizarre, even I must say... Its origins I haven't found to this day..."

"Wait, yer tellin' us that even YOU don't know where this came from, Zecora?" the orange-skinned girl asked in surprise.

"I tell you the truth; I never lie." the woman answered. "I spotted it as I walked by. It was high up in the mountains, far from any city... And let me say, the trek there was quite nippy." Zecora shivered a bit, just thinking about her travel up in such a cold region.

"So you found it in the mountains?" asked Sunset. "And you don't think it came from there?"

"Oh, no, no, no...I don't think so." Zecora replied. "No person could survive and live in such a harsh place... I was there for mere moments when I thought frostbite covered my face... Someone must have dropped it; who, I am not sure. But I knew it was special, so I pocketed it, nothing more."

"Woah..." Applejack then glanced over at Sunset Shimmer, who was still looking at the mysterious object, and told her, "Ah've got a bad feeling 'bout this, Sunset... Ah mean, y'all heard Zecora; even SHE don't know where that doohickey came from... Perhaps we oughtta just keep lookin' and find somethin' else for ya."

"I don't know... I'm not getting that kind of feeling from this thing." the yellow girl informed her friend. "To be honest, I think it looks really neat, and that's not just because of its appearance. It's like Zecora told us: she thought that it was really special...and, quite frankly, so do I." Looking at it some more, she then added, "Y'know...looking at it a bit closer, it kinda looks like...a key, doesn't it?"

"Ah guess it does..." Applejack commented.

"Maybe that's what it could mean to me...a key: A key that opens the door to a new and brighter future for me..." Sunset then told them all.

"Yeah, and maybe it could be like, REALLY super-huge and covered with big, long chains and a face with BIG sharp teeth and glowing eyes- OOOH! And maybe it could even talk, too!!" Pinkie Pie said with massive amounts of enthusiasm.

The others just gave their hyper pink friend an odd look, not sure how else to respond to that. Sunset Shimmer then cleared her throat and asked Zecora, "Anyway...how much? For this item?"

"I am pleased to hear how much that item means to you." the black-and-white woman responded. "So here is what I think that I shall do: I believe it is destiny that you would find this here, so I will sell it for half price, my fellow peer."

"Wow! Thanks, Zecora!" said the yellow girl happily. She then pulled a wallet from out of a red purse that she was carrying with her, took out some money, and handed it to Zecora in exchange for the key-shaped item. Although Sunset Shimmer did not have a place of her own, she was able to land a part-time job to help support herself.

Zecora nodded and told them, "Come again... And tell your friends!"

After taking the object, Sunset then asked, "Hey, Pinkie...can you lend me a piece of string from your string collection?"

"Sure!" the pink girl replied, reaching into her poofy hair and pulling out a long, thick, black string. "Here you go!" Sunset thanked her friend as she took the string.

It was about five minutes before the Farmer's Auction, and people were already making their way inside the building where it was being held. Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Fluttershy were already inside, sitting down and waiting for the rest of their group. "So, um...what did you get, Rainbow Dash, if you don't mind me asking...?" asked the pale-yellow girl shyly.

"I got some great golf supplies for practically nothin'!" said the cyan girl, showing off a large golf bag full of clubs, irons, and other various items such as tees and golf balls.

"Golfing?" asked Rarity, curiously. "I never would have pegged you to be interested in golf, Rainbow Dash."

"Well, since I pretty much excel in most other sports already, I figured I'd give this a try." the rainbow-haired girl told them. "How hard could it be?" She then asked them, "What about you? What did you guys find?"

"Well, I've found this lovely new ensemble for quite a low price." Rarity answered first, showing off a pink and white dress, along with several jewel-encrusted bracelets and a necklace. "I cannot wait to try this one on when I get home!"

"And I found some fun new pet toys for the animal shelter." Fluttershy then chimed in. "I even found some new laser pointers as well! Oh, the kitty-cats just love playing with those things! I just loving making all my animal friends happy until they get adopted..."

"Speakin' of friends," Rainbow then spoke up, "where's Sunset and the others? They were supposed t' meet us here."

"We're right here." said Sunset's voice from right next to them as she, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack finally came in and sat down next to the others. Almost immediately, they began to take notice of the red and yellow-haired girl's recent purchase.

"Wow, did you just get that necklace, Sunset?" asked Rainbow Dash, pointing to the item that was around her friend's neck. Sunset had taken the key-shaped trinket that she had purchased from Zecora's booth and turned it into a necklace, using the string she borrowed from Pinkie Pie.

"Yep. I got it about a minute or two ago." stated the yellow-skinned girl. "What do you think?"

"I think it looks absolutely darling on you!" Rarity complimented her. "That jewel at the top matches your eyes just perfectly!"

"Didja hear that?!" Pinkie spoke up. "I totally called it!!"

"Where did you find it, Sunset?" asked Fluttershy.

"We found it at this stand run by Zecora." the red and yellow-haired girl answered. "She sold it to me for half price, saying something about it being meant for me..."

"She probably said that so you'd buy it from her..." Rainbow stated.

"Well, I think looks very nice on you, Sunset." Fluttershy told her. Sunset Shimmer smiled upon hearing that from her.

"Okay, let's quiet it down a bit, gals; the auction's 'bout t' start." Applejack informed them all. The other five girls got the message and stayed silent so that Applejack could pay attention to the auction, which was ready to get rolling almost immediately.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Later that night, some time after their trip to the flea market, Applejack was getting ready to go to bed. She took a quick shower, brushed her teeth, and changed into some lime-green pajamas. After she was done, Sunset Shimmer then entered the bathroom next to do the same, changing into some fuchsia-colored pajamas after she was finished. Normally, the yellow-skinned girl took up residence at a homeless shelter (after all, she wasn't from this world, so she didn't actually have a home for herself), but she and her friends had worked out a deal that, every Sunday night, as well as any night that preceded a major holiday, Sunset would sleep over at a friend's house instead.

Tonight, Sunset Shimmer decided to spend the night at Applejack's. She enjoyed spending time with the orange-skinned girl's family - which included Apple Bloom, Applejack's younger sister, Granny Smith, the grandmother who also worked at Canterlot High School as a lunch lady, and Big Macintosh, the older brother. Some of the things she did with them included playing games with Apple Bloom, talking with the older members of the family, and of course, sitting down for a hearty and healthy family dinner.

In the normally-empty guest bedroom, Sunset Shimmer was sitting on the bed while looking through the few belongings that she had brought with her from the homeless shelter. Among those things was a small, red plastic box. She opened it and pulled out a small deck of cards, with each one having a swirly, vortex-like, brown design on the back. She looked through each of them, humming to herself at the same time.

Just then, Applejack knocked on the door before asking, "Hey, Sunset! Are y'all still awake?"

"Yeah, I am." she answered. "Come on in."

The door then opened and the freckled farm girl strolled inside, carrying an extra blanket. "Here's the blanket y'all wanted me t' get." she told the yellow-skinned girl, setting it down on the floor. Noticing that the gold key was still around her friend's neck, she then asked, "Uh, you're still wearin' that thing?"

"Yeah, I didn't bother to take it off yet." Sunset replied. "In fact, I might just leave it on all night, so I don't forget to take it with me when I leave."

"Suit yourself." Applejack said to her, shrugging. She then walked to the bed and glanced over at what Sunset was doing. "Ain't those your Duel Monsters cards?"

"Just some of them." answered the yellow girl. "The rest are safe in my storage space at the shelter; I decided to bring my Deck with me to look over before I went to sleep for good tonight."

"Ah see..." hummed the farm girl.

"I still remember how you and the others got me into it." Sunset Shimmer told her. "I still remember that day... It was on the night of my-" Sunset then coughed a little. "...my little temper-tantrum, shall we call it?"

"Well, Ah wouldn't call it, 'little', but sure." Applejack commented. The "temper-tantrum" that she was referring to was when Sunset, in a moment of pure rage, had actually transformed herself into a terrifying, demon-like creature using Twilight Sparkle's magic crown. She had done some damage to the school, but after she was turned back to normal, she was forced to fix everything she had wrecked.

The yellow girl chuckled awkwardly a bit before continuing. "Anyway, after I had to fix up the front entrance to the school, I was pretty exhausted... And it was really late by the time me, Snips, and Snails were finished. Then, as I slowly walked downtown to get to the shelter, I passed by Sugarcube Corner... And that's when Pinkie Pie invited me to come inside to see all of you."

"Yeah, Ah remember that." stated the orange girl. "Pinkie spent almost the whole night putting together her...'Turning-the-Meanest-Girl-in-School-into-a-New-Friend Party'... Ah think I got that all right." Applejack then added, "Ah still remember how awkward it was after you showed up... None of us really knew what t' do with somebody that had practically ruled the school with an iron fist..."

"Yeah...we were all just sitting there, staring and saying nothing for about five minutes." Sunset stated. "I remember that, for a while, the only sounds we could hear were the long, sucking sounds we were making from drinking our shakes." Holding up her cards again, she then added, "Good thing Pinkie decided to break the ice when she got out her card collection to show me."

"Ah'm still not sure how she managed to fit forty-seven binders in her backpack like that..." the farm girl commented.

Sunset then continued, saying, "She showed me all of the different cards that she had collected, and even taught me about the card game. After that, she helped me build my first Deck, and we all played a couple of rounds with each other. It took me a while, but after a couple of games, I finally got the hang of it... I even managed to beat all of you eventually."

"Yeah, y'all sure picked up on it quite fast, Sunset." complimented Applejack. "Ah also remember that it was the first time Ah saw ya havin' such a pleasant smile on your face."

"Yeah, I know... I remember that we were all having such a good time that night, that - for a brief moment, I had forgotten about what had happened earlier." the yellow girl informed her friend. "Up until then, I never thought that I'd ever want to make any friends... But you were all willing to give me a chance and help me to be a better person." Looking at her Deck again, she added, "Who would've thought that it would all start with something as simple as a friendly card game?"

Applejack chuckled a bit. "Ah know what ya mean." she told her friend. "Ah sure didn't see it comin' either. But when ya think about it, when you're tryin' to make a new friend it helps to start with somethin' small and work your way up from there."

"I suppose that makes sense." Sunset said as she put her cards away and picked up the blanket that Applejack had brought with her. "Well, it's getting late... We'd better get to sleep so that we can get up early for school."

"Yeah, good idea." the farm girl agreed, heading for the door. "G'night Sunset."

"Good night, Applejack." After the orange girl left the room, Sunset gave out a deep yawn as she pulled the blankets over her body and switched off the small light sitting on the small table next to her. She then closed her eyes and fell asleep...

About two hours later, though it seemed like an instant to her, Sunset Shimmer's eyes opened wide, but when she looked around, she saw that she wasn't in the guest bedroom of Applejack's house anymore. She appeared to be standing on a large cliff, with a long, narrow path that extended out from it, zigzagging ahead into a dark, cloudy haze.

(Where...where am I?) she asked herself in her head. Looking down, she noticed something else strange. "Wha-what am I wearing?!" she asked when she looked at the outfit that she was now donning: They appeared to be some sort of ceremonial robes from an ancient society - all white in color, with a long cloth draped over the front of the skirt that had an emblem printed upon it. Sunset was surprised to find that the emblem looked just like the item that she had bought from Zecora, which she was still wearing around her neck.

"What's going on here??" she then asked. "What is this place?" She looked around, glancing at all of the emptiness around her.

"...Come...come..."

Sunset's head jerked forward when she heard a strange voice ahead of her. "Who said that??" she asked, getting a bit worried. "Who's there?!"

"...Come...come..."

The voice just continued to speak to her, and Sunset figured out that if she was going to find the source of the voice, she'd have to go and see it for herself. Still not sure if she was making the right decision, Sunset Shimmer carefully walked along the narrow path, following the voice into the dark fog ahead of her. When she got to the end of the path, she looked up and gave out a slightly terrified gasp...

Right there in front of her, there was a giant double-door gate that seemed to be taller than any skyscraper in Canterlot City. Large chains wrapped tightly around the doors, and an eerie, evil-looking face was emblazoned upon it, having glowing yellow eyes and one large mouth with many, many sharp teeth in it. On the center of the gate was a small hole, which had been put on the top of the door face's mouth.

"Sweet Celestia..." said the young teenager, mouth agape. Noticing the way the door looked, she then asked herself, "How does Pinkie guess these things right on the dot...?"

"You have finally come, I see..." said the low, booming voice, which appeared to either be coming from behind the door...or possibly from the door itself. "I have been waiting for you... You who holds the Emperor's Key..."

"Emperor's Key...?" asked Sunset. Holding up the trinket she was wearing, she then inquired, "You mean this thing?"

"Yes..." the voice replied. "I have waited long for this day to come... The day that I am opened at last..."

"Woah, hold on a sec... You expect me to OPEN you?" asked the girl. "Sorry, buddy...but whenever I see large doors with big demon faces on them, I tend to stay as far away from them as possible."

"Then listen to this..." the door told her. "I happen to know what it is that you desire the most..."

"What I...desire most?" asked Sunset. "What do you mean?"

"I know many things that you wish to have..." the voice answered her. "And I can grant you those wishes... All you have to do is open me with the key around your neck..."

"Are...are you telling the truth?" asked the girl.

But the voice did not answer the question and simply told her, "Come... Open the door... Do it, and you'll gain new strength... However, you'll lose what you hold most important...!"

Sunset wasn't sure what it meant by that. "New strength...?" she asked herself. "Lose what I hold most important...?" She then chuckled weakly and thought, (Okay...now I KNOW I'm dreaming... I get it now; I probably have to open the door in order to wake up. The only thing I'll probably lose is a little sleep, that's all... At least, I hope that's the case...) Sunset then said to herself, "Well...I guess I don't have much of a choice... Dream or not, I'll probably never wake up unless I do this..."

The yellow girl then walked towards the door as it told her, "Do it... Open the door...and fulfill your destiny!"

Sunset took the necklace off and put it into her right hand. She then pulled back her arm and said to herself, "I really hope that I'm not doing something stupid right now..." Without wasting another moment, she thrust her hand forward and shoved the key into the hole in the door. Once she did, a bright light shot out of the hole as the chains around the door disintegrated.

Sunset trembled as she took her arm out of the giant keyhole and watched the double doors slowly open. As they did, an even more intense light began to emerge out from behind the gate. Before long, the area around the girl was bathed in the most powerful flash of light she had ever seen...if she COULD see anything at the moment. It was so bright, that it was impossible to make out anything in front of her.

Luckily, the light faded away as quickly as it came, and Sunset was able to open her eyes. When she did, she saw that she was now wearing her normal outfit instead of the strange robes she had on earlier. But that wasn't the strangest thing she saw: Sunset looked around herself and saw several small, square-shaped lights surrounding her in a large sphere. "What are these things...?" she asked. "There's so many... There must be about a hundred of them...!" She then reached up to touch them, but before she could make contact, all the light squares suddenly flew away from her, disappearing into the black void that she was floating in.

"Huh?? What just happened?!" she then asked, trembling a little. "What's going on?!? Someone explain what the hay's going on here...!!!!" she yelled, eyes closed tightly and her fists clenched.

Sunset Shimmer then opened her eyes again and gasped; she was now sitting upright, on a bed in a guest bedroom. She then realized that she was now back in Applejack's house. (Huh...? What happened...?) she asked herself. Looking around, she could see that she was indeed in the bedroom that she was staying in tonight. The area around her was quiet, with only the chirping of the nighttime crickets outside providing any sort of sound at all.

Holding her head, she then thought, (Woah. That...was WEIRD.) Turning the small lamp back on, she then added to her soliloquy, thinking, (What kind of whacko dream was that...? Maybe it was from the jumbo-size strawberry milkshake that Pinkie got for me at the flea market...) Just then, a small blinking light was caught by the corner of her eye. "Huh?" she asked out-loud, looking over towards the source of the sudden light.

The light was coming from the top of a small-sized antique writing desk. Sunset Shimmer walked over to the desk to see what it was. She then saw that the object was rectangular-shaped, but that wasn't all; the object seemed to be a card: A Duel Monsters card, based on the back design. But when the girl picked it up, she saw something peculiar about it...

"Huh? What the... This card's blank...!" she noted, looking at the image-less card she was holding in her right hand. "There's nothing on it... Why is that??"

Just then, a shadowy mist appeared around the blank card, which then surrounded Sunset Shimmer. When that happened, she began to feel very strangely. "Urk! Wh-what's going on...?!" she asked in distress. "My head...it hurts...!"

A voice, similar to the one that came from the door in her dream, began to speak to her in a menacing tone...

"Yes, Sunset Shimmer... Yes... Let the Number take hold..."

The girl heard the voice, but the sudden pain in her head kept her from thinking too much about it. "Who...who was that...? Where did it come from...?!" As she strained, a bizarre mark began flashing on the back of her right hand, which somewhat resembled the number 33.

The voice then spoke again, repeating, "Yes... Let the Number take hold..."

"Who is that...?!" she asked as she groaned. "What are you talking about?! Get outta my head...! Get outta my head!!"

After that last scream of hers, the necklace around her neck began to glow. As the glow began to get brighter, the mark that was appearing on her hand began fading away until it was gone completely. After that, the shadowy cloud went away as well, as did the intense migraine that Sunset had gotten. In but a few seconds, the bizarre phenomenon was over.

Sunset Shimmer began breathing heavier than ever, trying her best to recover from what had just happened...as well as trying to actually figure out what happened. "...What was THAT all about...?" she asked herself, completely perplexed. She then glanced at the card she had picked up earlier, and saw something that shocked her: There was now an image printed upon what was once a blank card. The card now had a black-colored frame, and its picture showed what appeared to be a floating fortress.

"Huh?? I could've sworn that this card was completely blank when I first saw it..." Sunset noted to herself. "Where did this picture come from?" She then read the name of the card, which was printed at the very top, above the artwork. "Number 33: Chronomaly Machu Mech..." she uttered. "Never heard of it..."

Just then, the girl could hear a knock on her door. "Sunset? Hey, Sunset!" shouted Applejack's voice. "Is everything okay in there?"

Upon hearing her friend's voice, she then said, "Uh, yeah! Everything's okay...!" As she did, Sunset quickly went to her backpack and grabbed her red deck box, opening it and putting away the card that she was holding inside of it.

"Are ya sure...?" asked Applejack. "Not t' pry, but Ah could've sworn I heard screamin' in there."

"Oh...uh...I...I had a bad dream, that's all!" she told her. "Nothing major...!"

For a moment, no one said anything. Then, the orange-skinned girl said, "Okay then...just wanted t' make sure y'all were okay, that's all... G'night, then."

"Uh, yeah... Good night, AJ." Sunset replied. As she climbed back into her bed, she continued to think about her bizarre dream, as well as the equally bizarre card that she had found... As Sunset Shimmer laid her head down on her pillow, something told her that this was only the beginning...

---------------------------------------------------------------------

The next day came and progressed just like any other day: Sunset Shimmer and her closest friends made their way down the streets to get to Canterlot High School to attend another day of classes. As Sunset strolled down the hallways of the school, people took notice of her new piece of jewelry, complimenting the yellow-skinned girl on how nice it looked on her. Sunset appreciated the comments; it was definitely a nice change from what she had gotten from people several months ago, when the only looks she got were looks of pure contempt.

The day progressed normally for Sunset as she attended her classes for the day. This included Science class, where Applejack helped her to grow a beautiful flower using a special growth serum, and Home Economics - where today, a substitute teacher had to fill in for the day, and the substitute just so happened to be Pinkie Pie's mother. To this day, Sunset, along with her other friends, were unsure as to how Pinkie could have possibly come from a family like that, as Pinkie's mother - along with the rest of the family, were so very different from the hyper pink girl.

The school day eventually came to a close, and Sunset was just finishing up with Gym Class, the last class she had for the day. After a thorough shower, she changed back into her normal outfit and draped her new necklace around her neck after she was finished. She then sat down on the seat in front of her gym locker and reached into her purse, out of which she pulled her red deck box. She opened it and pulled out one of the cards inside: It was the card she found last night, the one that had previously been blank, but now had a picture upon it.

Taking a closer look at the card, Sunset Shimmer saw that all of the text was written in a bizarre language. She had remembered that, back when she was still the personal student of Princess Celestia in her own world, she had studied all sorts of different languages, many from lost civilizations. But the thing she found odd was that, although she had never seen such a language like the one that was on the card in her life, she could read it as if it were written in plain English.

"What's the deal with this card...?" she asked herself. "I know I've never seen writing like this before, but somehow, I can read it perfectly..." She then flashed back in her mind the events of last night, when she first found the card. "And what was up with that weird headache I got after I picked it up? It felt as if someone...or something, was trying to get into my head for some reason..." Looking at herself, she then added, "But...I don't think anything bad happened to me; I still feel like myself, both inside and out..." She then thought to herself, asking, (I wonder what my friends would say if I told them about it...? I'm not sure if-)

But Sunset's thoughts were interrupted when she heard the sound of the locker room door opening. She quickly hid the strange card back in her deck box and put everything back in her purse, moments before she saw her friends walk inside to see her. "Hey, Sunnie! Hey Sunnie!!" cheered Pinkie Pie, hopping her way over to the red and yellow-haired girl excitedly.

"Oh, uh...hey guys!" said Sunset, trying to hide her worried feelings from her friends. "What are you doing here?"

"Well, it's been five minutes since the final bell, and you didn't come outta the locker room yet..." Rainbow Dash told her. "We were beginning to wonder if you got locked in the shower again..."

The red and yellow-haired girl huffed and told her cyan friend, "I'd appreciate it if you didn't bring that up again, Dash."

"Oh...er, sorry..." the rainbow-haired girl responded, rubbing the back of her head.

"Anyway," Applejack butted in to try and quickly change the subject, "just t' let y'all know, Sunset, everybody else is already out in the yard. We just didn't want ya t' miss out on what everybody's doin' out there."

Sunset's head perked up upon hearing that. "Oh, yeah! I almost forgot!" she exclaimed, grabbing her purse from the bench that she was sitting on. "C'mon, girls, let's get going! We don't wanna miss out on the fun, do we?"

"Miss out on fun?" asked Pinkie Pie rhetorically. "Not a chance! Let's go!" The six of them then headed out of the locker room towards their next destination.

The six teenage girls made their way outside to the schoolyard after they each stopped by their lockers to grab their bags and other belongings. As they looked around, they saw many students standing out in the open fields in pairs. Every pair of students were facing each other and wearing some sort of silver-colored compact device on their arms. The device resembled a computer tablet, but in addition to a touchscreen mounted onto the arm, there was a tray coming out of the side of it with five blue and white spaces with red, downward-pointing triangles on each space. Underneath the tray was a small slot, and in the slot was a deck of Duel Monsters cards. Each student also wore a small lens over their left eyes that was placed upon their ears.

"Seems as though we've arrived just in time." said Rarity, looking around.

"Yep, looks like it." added Applejack. "Now that classes are done fer the day, everybody's already out duelin'."

"Awesome!" said Sunset, getting pumped up. "Time for me to get in there and show 'em what I've got!" She then looked around and asked, "Now...who's gonna be my first opponent...?"

"How about him?" asked Pinkie Pie, pointing to a teenage boy with jet-black skin and greyish-blue hair, in light and dark stripes. Like everyone else, he was wearing a similar device on his right arm.

"You mean Thunderlane?" asked Rainbow Dash, looking over at the boy.

"Yeah, I think he'll do just fine." said Sunset. She then walked over to Thunderlane and called to him, "Hey! Thunder!!"

The boy turned around to face the red and yellow-haired girl and asked, "Sunset Shimmer? What's up?"

"You don't look like you're doing anything right now." she noted. "You wanna duel me?"

"A Duel? Sure." Thunderlane replied with a slight smirk. He then took his Deck out and added, "I've gotta warn ya, Sunset, I've gotten better since the last time we've dueled."

The girl smirked a bit herself as she got out her own device (which was yellow in color as opposed to silver) from her backpack, along with her Deck and a lens similar to the ones that the others wore over their eyes. "You have, have you?" she asked him. "I suppose we'll see soon enough." Sunset Shimmer then placed the touch screen-like device on her right arm and said, "Activating Duel Pad!" Upon saying that, her device then deployed the same type of tray that had jutted out of the other students' devices. Next, she took the lens that she was holding and placed it over her left eye while saying, "Duel Gazer, activate!"

After both Sunset and Thunderlane put on their lenses, a haze engulfed the area around them for a brief moment. Everything around them still looked the same, except that the area had a slight greenish tint to it, and small colored screens were scattered all over the field. A computerized female-sounding voice then said, "AR Vision Link established."

Shortly afterwards, all of Sunset's friends got out their own lenses to place over their eyes. "We'd better get our Duel Gazers on so that we can watch Sunset's Duel." Applejack told them all. The five of them did just that, placing the gazers over their left eyes and switching them on.

"I must say, these devices are quite remarkable." stated Rarity. "They make the game look so realistic, it's beyond astounding!" The five them glanced around, switching their Gazers to different frequencies so as to take a peek at the other students' Duels as well. Warriors on horseback charged through the fields, kicking up divots in the ground,... Gigantic dragons flew across the skies... Powerful magicians casted all sorts of mighty spells... And for a short moment, a small, brown fluffball with green claws and large eyes floated right past Fluttershy, whose eyes sparkled upon seeing how adorable it was.

Sunset smirked and asked her opponent, "You ready to get this started?" she asked him.

"Born ready." Thunderlane simply replied. The two of them each drew their opening hands and shouted in unison:

"Let's Duel!"

Meanwhile, inside the high school, a faint but pleasant melody flowed from out of the Band Room. Inside the room were two students, who were among the few that weren't dueling outside. One of the students was sitting on a small stool, playing a cello with several blank music sheets in front of her. She had sepia-colored skin and long, dark brown hair that flowed down as far as her hip area. She had violet-colored eyes and wore a plain, white, buttoned shirt with a violet vest worn overtop of it, topped off with a pink bowtie. She wore a light pink skirt that had a picture of a lavender treble clef on it, along with a pair of black shoes and long, white socks.

The girl's name was Octavia Melody. Every day, after classes were over, she went over to the Band Room to work on new compositions. Usually, she went to the room by herself, but every now and again - such as today for instance, she would bring her friend Vinyl Scratch over to accompany her.

Vinyl had white skin, and wild, electric-blue hair in stripes of light and dark colors. She had red eyes, though most of the time, she wore a pair of black sunglasses with purple lenses over them, so they weren't always visible. She wore a white fleece jacket overtop of a shirt that was colored in white, blue, and cyan, complimented with a short, white skirt with a black beamed eighth note printed upon it. Under the skirt, she wore short pants that were magenta-colored with several purple lightning bolts decorating them on each leg. She also had on a pair of sneakers that were mostly blue, with teal stars on the fronts of the tongues, white velcro straps, white soles, and other markings that were either purple or teal in color. She also wore a pair of fingerless gloves on each of her hands, and had a pair of white and teal headphones around her neck.

Octavia played a few notes on her cello at a slow pace before stopping and jotting down the notes on the blank music sheet in front of her. "Hmmm...yes, I think that would sound very good..." she hummed to herself.

Vinyl, who was slumping down on the seat that she was sitting on, groaned and asked in a whining tone, "Taaaaaviiiiii...! How much longer is this gonna take...??"

The sepia girl sighed and told her, "If you continue to complain about it, Vinyl, it will be much longer than it needs to be... Now would you stop whining and let me concentrate?"

"But I'm BOOOOOORRRRRRED!!! And HUNGRRRRRRRYYY...!!" the blue-haired teen complained, groaning even louder.

Octavia grumbled a bit under her breath, clearly becoming more frustrated by her friend's griping. She then asked her, "Well then why don't you go and get something from one of the vending machines for us both instead of sitting here and moaning?"

"Ugh, fine... Anything t' get out of here for a while..." Vinyl responded. She then got up and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.

Octavia sighed and asked herself, "Why do I even bother bringing Vinyl here...? All she ever does is whine and complain while I'm trying to do my work." Taking another deep sigh, she added, "At least I'll have a few minutes of peace while she goes to the vending machines..." She was then about to go back to playing her cello when she noticed a small piece of blank paper on the ground nearby where Vinyl was sitting. "What's that...?" she asked, getting up and walking over to it. Looking at the paper closely, she then groaned a little and hypothesized, "Must be a piece of trash or something... Vinyl probably left it behind, I'll wager; she seems to conveniently forget how to use a refuse bin every so often."

Octavia then picked up the paper, and felt something weird about it. It was made of too sturdy a material to be a candy bar wrapper, though it wasn't as tough as say, cardboard. Rather, it was somewhere in the middle. "Odd..." she muttered to herself again. "Where could this have come from...?"

Just then, a shadowy cloud appeared around the piece of paper, which then surrounded Octavia herself. She gasped and began to hold her head while groaning in pain. "Uuuuugh...what...what's going...on?" she asked, straining, "Why am I getting such a bad headache...?"

The sepia-skinned teen then heard a sinister voice inside of her head. "Yes, Octavia..." it said to her. "Let the Number take hold..."

"...N-Number...? What are you-?" But before she could finish her sentence, the shadowy cloud around her grew bigger. She then let out a scream as the fog dispersed all over the room, eventually dissipating. Octavia fell to her hands and knees, breathing heavily after the whole ordeal. However, several things had changed: The blank paper now had an image upon it, showing a black frame with a picture of an armored man wearing a purple cape.

That wasn't all; Octavia then slowly opened her eyes - which now looked somewhat empty, and instead of having their usual violet color, they were now bright red. She also seemed to be scowling a little, as if something or someone had angered her. As she growled a little to herself, a mark then appeared on the base of her neck, which looked similar to the number 80.

Just then, Vinyl had returned, carrying a cherry soda and a bag of chips for herself, and a granola bar for her friend. "I'm back, Tavi..." she said to Octavia as she set the food and drink items down on a nearby desk. Pulling up a chair next to the desk, she then sat down backwards on it and groaned, saying, "Alright, let's get this overwith already... I wanna do something that's a lot more interesting sometime today..."

Octavia's glowing eyes shifted towards Vinyl, then over to her cello. "Oh...you do not believe that my music is interesting at all, do you, Vinyl?" she asked in a low, slightly menacing tone.

"Sure don't." the blue-haired girl answered. "No offense, but I'd rather watch paint dry instead."

The sepia-colored teen then chuckled softly and replied, saying, "Well then, in that case...perhaps I might know of a way to make things...a lot more interesting for you..." She then grabbed the neck of the cello with both hands and picked it up, all the while keeping that sinister look on her face...

Back outside, the Duel between Thunderlane and Sunset Shimmer was still going on. Thunderlane was doing pretty well, but Sunset was doing much better (Thunderlane: LP 1,000) (Sunset Shimmer: LP 1,300). The jet-black teen sweated a little, wondering what his opponent was going to do next.

"My turn. I draw!" said the red-and-yellow girl as she took a card off the top of her Deck. She then looked at it and said, "Here's where it all ends, Thunder! I Summon Chronomaly Crystal Skull from my hand in Attack Mode!" After playing her card, a large, shiny human skull appeared in front of her (Chronomaly Crystal Skull: Level 3 / ATK 900 / DEF 600), sitting right next to another of her monsters, which appeared to be a shiny skeleton, minus the head (Chronomaly Crystal Bones: Level 3 / ATK 1300 / DEF 400).

"Lookit that!" said Applejack, pointing to the field. "Sunset's got two monsters with the same Level on her side of the field!"

"Alright!! She's setting up her favorite move!!" cheered Pinkie Pie, nudging her head in between Applejack and Rainbow Dash. "Go for it, Sunnie!!"

Sunset Shimmer looked over at her pink friend and nodded to say that she would. She then declared to Thunderlane, "I overlay my Level 3 Crystal Skull and Crystal Bones to create an Overlay Network!" After she made that announcement, her two monsters then transformed into a pair of bright yellow lights that flew into a red, spiral-shaped portal. "I Xyz Summon Chronomaly Crystal Chrononaut!!" she said, finishing her move.

Out of the red portal, a flash of light suddenly burst out, revealing itself as a human-like figure clad in purple armor with wings on its back and a single mirror on its chest area. Swirling around this new monster were two yellow balls of light (Chronomaly Crystal Chrononaut: Rank 3 / ATK 2100 / DEF 1000 / OLU 2).

"A-an Xyz Monster?!" stuttered Thunderlane, knowing that he was in trouble now.

"Alright! Sunset got that special monster of hers onto the field now!" noted Rainbow Dash with a smirk.

"She used those two Level 3 monsters of hers to call out an Xyz Monster with an equal Rank from her Extra Deck." Rarity added. "Now she has a much more powerful monster to fight with."

"And best of all, those two monsters she used to Summon it don't get sent to the Graveyard right away!" Pinkie Pie chimed in. "They instead become Overlay Units that help support her new monster!"

Sunset Shimmer then smirked and shouted, "Go, Crystal Chrononaut! Attack him directly!!" And with that order, Sunset's Xyz Monster leapt forward and delivered a devastating punch straight towards Thunderlane.

"ACK!!!" the boy grunted as the punch knocked away his remaining Life Points, ending the Duel in Sunset's victory (Thunderlane: LP 1,000 - 2,100 = 0) (WINNER: Sunset Shimmer).

"Yeah!!! Way to go, Sunset!!" cheered Rainbow Dash, throwing a few air punches.

"Way to go...!" Fluttershy meekly added.

The red and yellow-haired girl gave a hearty thumbs-up to her friends before glancing back over to Thunderlane. "Looks like I've won again, Thunder." she told him. "But it was pretty close; it could've been either one of us."

"Eh, you're just sayin' that." the boy replied. "You whupped me and you know it." He then got up and told her, "But it ain't gonna happen next time! I'll be back with an even better Deck, and I'll duel you again!"

"Heh. I'm looking forward to it." Sunset told him as he left the area.

Sunset's friends then ran up to her to congratulate her on her victory. "Very well played, Sunset." Rarity complimented. "That was a most excellent victory!"

"Yeah! Thunderlane didn't even know what hit him!" added Rainbow Dash.

"Whaddya mean, Dashie? Of course he knew what hit him!" Pinkie Pie argued. "He got hit by a big, purple fist!"

"Ugh, that's not what I meant by... Oh, never mind." the cyan girl said, not wanting to get into another confusing argument with Pinkie.

Sunset Shimmer chuckled a little and said to her friends, "Thanks, girls. I really appreciate the support." Looking at her Deck, she added, "Especially since it was thanks to all of you that I was able to finish this Deck. I don't think I would've been able to complete it all by myself."

"It was our pleasure, Sugarcube." stated Applejack with a smile. "It took a real long time t' get all the cards needed for it, but Ah think it was well worth the effort, don't y'all agree?"

"Sure do." agreed Rainbow. "I mean after all, Sunset hasn't lost a Duel ever since she started usin' that Deck!"

"So, um...who are you going to play against next?" Fluttershy then asked the red and yellow-haired girl.

"Well..." Sunset began as she looked around for a new opponent. But before she could say another word...

"...AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!"

The six girls suddenly heard someone screaming nearby. "What was that??" asked Rarity.

"Sounded like it came from over there..." Applejack replied, pointing towards the soccer field.

The other girls looked over and saw someone running towards them, flailing her arms hysterically. The girl appeared to be another student. She had pale yellow skin much like Fluttershy, and had medium-length, dark red hair. In her hair, she wore a rose flower off to the side, and her eyes were green, matching the color of her dress.

"Isn't that Roseluck?" asked Fluttershy.

"Looks like her..." said Rainbow Dash. "What's got her all worked up this time?"

"Let's go and see." Sunset suggested. The group ran over to the screaming girl to see what was going on.

Once they got in front of the apparently terrified student, Applejack waved her arms to try and get her to stop. "Hey, Roseluck!!" the farm girl shouted. "Over here! Stop!!"

The scared girl immediately noticed the people in front of her and stopped in front of them all. "Applejack? Is that you?" she asked.

"Yeah, it's me." the orange girl answered. "What's up? Y'all look like you've seen a ghost..."

"Well, it wasn't a ghost...but I was scared of something." Roseluck told her. "That's why I was screaming and running as fast as I could: To get away from it...!"

"What do you mean?" asked Sunset Shimmer, walking up. "What's 'it'?"

"Well..." Roseluck began, "I was walking down the hall after taking care of some things in the Agricultural Department... I passed by the Band Room when I heard something inside; it sounded like something crashed..."

"Crashed?" asked Rainbow Dash.

Roseluck nodded before continuing her explanation. "I went to look, but before I could, I could hear someone screaming, 'No! Stop! Don't hurt me!' Then after that, I heard more crashing sounds! I was so terrified by what I had heard, I ran away as fast as I could... But I know that something horrible is happening in there!!" The scared girl then ran off, continuing to distance herself as far away from the school as possible.

The other six girls looked at each other, a bit shocked by what they heard. "What do you suppose could be going on in the Band Room?" Rarity asked her friends.

"It's probably nothing..." thought Rainbow Dash. "Roseluck freaks out over almost everything, though not as much as Lily does... I'm pretty sure it's nothin' to worry about."

"Well, we should go and see, just to be totally sure." Sunset recommended.

"Sounds good t' me." Applejack agreed. "Let's go!" The six girls then left the yard and ran back into the school to see what had scared Roseluck so much.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

The group of friends zigzagged their way through the halls in search of the Band Room. "There it is!" shouted Pinkie Pie, pointing at the door ahead and to the right of them. Once they got in front of the door, they could indeed hear smashing sounds from inside.

"Did y'all hear that, gals?" asked Applejack. "Somethin's getting smashed in there...!"

"Or maybe even someONE..." added Dash.

"Oh dear..." Fluttershy whimpered, trembling a little. "I-I don't think I want to know what's going on in there..."

Just then, a scream was heard from behind the door. "No!! Stop it!! Cut it out!!!" it shouted.

"That voice!" exclaimed Sunset. "That was Vinyl Scratch! She must be in trouble!" The red and yellow girl didn't hesitate for one second before opening the door. But nothing could prepare them for what they saw next...

On the floor, beside several knocked-over chairs, was Vinyl (minus her shades), trembling and displaying a look of pure fear. In front of her was her friend, Octavia...but you wouldn't be able to tell that they were friends if you hadn't seen them before now. In Octavia's hands was her cello, but she was holding it by the neck, hoisting the larger end of it into the air. There were some scratches on the instrument - which, along with the way that she was holding it, safely suggested that she wasn't using it for music right now.

Octavia, with a crazed, angry look upon her face, swung her cello down, aiming it straight towards Vinyl, who dove out of the way just in time to avoid it. "Tavi!! Stop it!!" she pleaded. "What're ya doing?! Have you gone crazy?!?"

The sepia-skinned girl glanced at her with eerie red eyes and told her in an intimidatingly low voice, "What's wrong, Vinyl...? You wanted my music to be more interesting, didn't you...? I'm just granting your wish!" She then swung the instrument again, missing Vinyl by a hair.

"This ain't what I meant by that!!" the blue-haired girl screamed. "If this is about me bothering you while you're working, I'm sorry already!!"

"You had your chance to be sorry..." Octavia told her in a menacing tone. "Now, you're about to be sorry for a whole different reason!" She then raised her cello up into the air to strike Vinyl again; the blue-haired girl looked for a way out, but couldn't find one. "Now...tell me, Vinyl..." the sepia girl began to ask, "do you think my music is boring NOW?!"

"No!! Don't!!" the poor girl pleaded, closing her eyes and raising her hands to shield her face as Octavia swung the instrument down.

THUD!

Vinyl whimpered with fear before she realized that she hadn't been struck. "Whuh...huh??" She then opened her eyes and moved her hands away. When she looked up towards Octavia, she gasped when she saw why the musical instrument-turned weapon didn't hit her: Sunset Shimmer had quickly stepped in-between the two of them and caught the cello in mid-swing. "S-Sunset Shimmer?!" she asked in surprise.

Octavia growled a bit when she saw the red and yellow girl in front of her, preventing her from doing the unthinkable.

Sunset glanced down at Vinyl and asked her, "Are you alright? Are you hurt?"

"No, I'm fine... Thanks to you." the blue-haired girl told her.

Sunset's friends were flabbergasted by what had happened in front of them. "Okay...just t' be clear here: Y'all saw what Ah saw, right? My eyes ain't playin' tricks on me, right?" asked Applejack.

"If they are, then all of our eyes are playing tricks on us, then..." Rarity informed her.

"Y'know what?" began Pinkie Pie. "You can keep that from happening if you just walk around with your eyes closed for a really long time. Your eyes can't play tricks on you if they can't see anything, right?"

"Wait, what...?" asked a confused Applejack.

Getting back to the topic on-hand, Fluttershy then asked her friends, "W-what's going on...? Why is Octaiva attacking Vinyl like that? I thought they were friends..."

"Yeah, they're supposed to be!" added the pink-skinned girl. "I mean, sure; they argue a whole lot, but it's been specifically established in the fandom that Vinyl and Octavia are besties!"

"What? 'Fandom'? What're you talkin' about...?" asked Dash, scratching her head.

Sunset then posed a question similar to Fluttershy's to Octaiva. "Octavia, what on earth are you doing?!" she asked her. "Vinyl's your friend! And last time I checked, using your cello as a club to attack her isn't something that a friend would do."

"This is none of your business, Ms. Shimmer..." snarled the sepia teen. "This is between me and Vinyl, so make yourself scarce right this second!"

"Not gonna happen." the red and yellow girl told her. "When somepon-er, somebody starts attacking someone else for no reason, it kind of becomes my business... So I'm not budging from this spot anytime soon!"

"You annoying little..." Octavia growled. She then groaned and held her head in pain. As she did, the 80 mark on her neck began glowing again.

Sunset noticed the mark and thought, (What's that...? I've never seen that mark on Octavia the last time I saw her... Yet, why does it look so familiar?)

Octavia then began to hear strange voices in her head. "...Duel... Duel..." it said. "...Take the Number..."

The voice, as well as the sudden migraine, suddenly vanished from the sepia-skinned girl, who stared straight towards Sunset Shimmer with a fierce expression on her face that was complimented by her glowing red eyes. "Well, it seems quite clear to me that you won't leave no matter what I say to you, am I wrong?" she then asked Sunset. The red and yellow girl shook her head no to say that she wasn't moving an inch. "In that case, perhaps we can settle this dispute in a different manner..." the cello-wielding teen suggested. "How about we have a Duel?"

"A...Duel?" asked Sunset, a bit surprised.

"Indeed." Octavia confirmed. "If you win, I'll leave Vinyl alone. If I win, you are to leave immediately."

(She can't possibly be serious about this...) thought the girl in the black jacket. She then looked at Octavia again and added to her thoughts, pondering, (Something doesn't seem right here...besides the fact that Octavia's attacking her best friend. It kinda feels like there's something else to all of this...) As she pondered, the strange symbol on Octavia's neck began glowing again. (And I'll bet that mark on her might have something to do with it...)

"So...what will it be?" asked the sepia girl with a sneer.

Sunset grumbled a little, but figured that she had no other real options right now. (I could just go and tell Principal Celestia or Vice Principal Luna about this...) she thought, (but I don't wanna leave Vinyl here alone with her...I guess I'll have to take her up on her offer, then.) The red and yellow girl then shouted to Octavia, "Alright, then. I'll agree to your terms. But don't expect an easy win, Octy!"

The sepia-skinned girl put her cello aside and chuckled, saying to her adversary, "Accepting my challenge will be your last and greatest mistake, Sunset Shimmer..."

But Sunset paid no heed to Octavia's threatening words as she prepped herself for another Duel. "Activating Duel Pad!" she shouted as the device on her arm unfolded its card tray once again. Sunset then got her Duel Gazer and put it over her left eye and said, "Duel Gazer, activate!"

Octavia smirked wickedly as she activated her Duel Pad and Duel Gazer. "AR Vision Link established." said the computerized voice as a digital copy of the surrounding area projected in front of the eyes of everyone wearing a Duel Gazer, which, at this point, was everyone in the room now. Everyone watched as the two girls began their battle, not sure what would happen after it was all over...

-- To Be Continued...

Chapters Next