• Published 30th Apr 2016
  • 9,302 Views, 976 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!

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RANK 10: The Return of Twilight Sparkle:

Author's Note:

Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions comes out this week (as of writing this comment), and I'm pretty interested in seeing it. Hopefully, it will be good, but I'm not too worried.

Anyway, this Rank continues directly from where the previous one left off, and two more characters' Decks will be introduced. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

RANK 10: The Return of Twilight Sparkle:
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THE STORY SO FAR...:
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In Canterlot High School, every student is wild over the world's most popular trading card game: Duel Monsters! Every day, players of the card game, known as "Duelists", go head-to-head to see who among them is the best around. Among the Duelists in attendance at CHS, one of the best is a young teenager named Sunset Shimmer, a girl from another world...

Approximately one day ago, Sunset Shimmer and her best friends paid a visit to the mysterious Zecora, who had sold the otherworldly girl a strange, key-shaped necklace. What Sunset and Zecora didn't know was that the necklace seemed to hold special powers connected to a dimension known as the Astral World; the world that the dangerous Number cards were believed to have come from. Though Sunset and her friends have learned a great deal of information, they still had little to no knowledge concerning the Numbers, the Astral World, or the necklace.

However, that following night, while Sunset Shimmer was asleep, a strange light had come from out of her necklace, making its way to Canterlot High School. From there, it found the dimensional passageway that connected Sunset's current home world with her former home world, the pony-populated country of Equestria. The light then transformed into a card, which was then found by Twilight Sparkle, not knowing that it was one of the Number cards. Fortunately, this Number, known as "Utopia", did not desire to control Twilight. Instead, he was seeking her help to locate the remaining Number cards.

Once Twilight discovered that Sunset Shimmer was also trying to collect the Numbers, the Princess of Friendship made the decision to enter the magic mirror portal and assist her. Currently, both she and her baby dragon assistant, Spike, have successfully made the jump back into the human world to meet up with the people that they know there...

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"No way..." Applejack said, totally surprised.

"I don't believe it...!" added Rarity.

"Is... is that...?" stuttered Fluttershy, not sure if her eyes were playing tricks on her or not.

"It... it is...!!" Sunset told them. She was the most surprised of all by what they saw.

Standing there at the door to Sugarcube Corner was a lavender-skinned girl with long, violet hair with pink and purple streaks running along it. She had deep purple eyes and wore a blue shirt with a pink bow on the front of the collar area. She also wore a purple skirt with a pink, six-pointed star emblazoned upon it, a pair of violet-colored socks, and small, black shoes.

The girl smiled as she looked towards the others in the room and said to them, "Hey everyone... Did you miss me?"

"TWILIGHT!!!" cheered the six girls happily as they ran over to their old friend and gave her a group hug to welcome her.

The purple-skinned teen chuckled a little and said to them, "I guess this means you did."

"Of course we missed ya, Twi!" Applejack told her. "It ain't too often that y'all come by these parts!"

"Oh, it is so good to see you again, Twilight dear!" added Rarity. "It has been way, WAY too long!"

"Rarity's right..." added Fluttershy. "After all, it's been months since you helped us at the Battle of the Bands..." She then asked the purple girl, "Um... did you bring... did you bring Spike with you...?"

At that moment, a small, purple puppy poked his head out of Twilight's backpack. It was none other than Spike; whenever he traveled through the magic mirror portal, he transformed into a puppy instead of a human. "You bet she did, Fluttershy!" the puppy spoke to the shy teen. Fluttershy squealed a little out of happiness as she picked Spike up and out of the backpack and began hugging him.

Twilight then looked off to the side, noticing that her old friend Sunset Shimmer was approaching her. Turning around to face her, the purple-skinned girl then told her, "It's good to see you again, Sunset."

"Ummm... yeah, same here, Twilight." the red and yellow teen replied in a slightly unsure tone. She then asked her, "But... I have to ask: Why did you come here to this world again? Is there something wrong?"

"Well, nothing that I can think of..." Twilight answered, "but there is a reason I came by here."

"And that is...?" Sunset inquired further.

Twilight then reached into a backpack that she was wearing and pulled out a small box. She then opened it, took out the item inside, and showed the item to her human world friends, asking, "Do you happen to know anything about this?"

Sunset and the other girls gasped when they saw what was in Twilight's hand: It was a Duel Monsters card; more specifically, it was the Utopia card that had entered Twilight's home world to meet up with the young Princess. When they saw the strange writing on the card, as well as the red 39 imprinted on Utopia's left shoulder, they knew what it was right away.

"Oh no!! Twilight has a Number card!!" exclaimed Pinkie Pie.

"It's true!!" Rarity cried out. "She does!!"

Twilight, of course, had no idea why they were acting so distressed. "Um... girls...?"

Rolling up her sleeves, Rainbow Dash put on a fierce look and said, "Don't ya worry, Twilight, I'll get that card away from you! I ain't gonna let that thing take over your mind!"

"Wait! Hold on, Rainbow Dash!" Sunset suddenly told her while putting her hand up, performing a "stop" signal.

"Huh? Sunset...?" the cyan teen began to ask, confused as to why she was asked to stop.

Putting her arm back down, the red and yellow teen then stated, "I don't think Twilight's possessed by that Number card... Just look at her: She doesn't seem to be acting any different than how we're used to seeing her."

"Yeah... now that y'all mention it..." Applejack chimed in, "she seems perfectly fine. She certainly ain't actin' weird or crazy or whatever..."

"I know..." added Rarity. "She most certainly isn't acting the same way that I did... Perhaps Sunset is right; perhaps Twilight is NOT possessed by that card..."

"But... how...?" asked Fluttershy, still petting Spike.

Twilight still had no idea what the others were talking about. "Okay... could somepony - excuse me - someBODY please explain to me what's going on??"

"Um, it's kind of a long story, Twilight," Sunset Shimmer said to her purple friend, "but I'll be happy to fill you in on the details."

"Um... okay. Thanks..." Twilight replied.

"No problem." the red and yellow told her with a smile. "And don't worry about the whole somepony/somebody thing; I still mess it up every now and then." The purple teen chuckled a bit as the whole group walked over to a nearby table.

For the next several minutes, Sunset and her friends told Twilight and Spike about everything that had happened to them recently. They told her all about the strange dream that Sunset had, the appearance of the Number cards, the people that were possessed by them, as well as what they had learned from Zecora yesterday concerning the mysterious realm known as the Astral World.

"...Okay, let me see if I've got all of this right:" Twilight Sparkle began, trying her best to piece together everything that her human world friends had told her. "So you're saying that a bunch of trading cards from another dimension suddenly showed up here in your world and are brainwashing everyone that comes into contact with them? That sounds pretty intense..."

"Oh, it is, Twi." Rainbow Dash stated. "I didn't believe it at first until I saw it with my own eyes."

"Basically, what happens is that when somebody picks up a Number card," Applejack said to Twilight, "they start actin' completely outta their mind! They do things that they would never normally do, and they don't seem to be able to stop themselves." Turning over to Sunset, she then added, "All except fer Sunset here; for some reason, the Number cards don't affect her at all, but we ain't sure why yet..." Glancing back over to Twilight, the farm girl then asked, in a slightly suspicious voice, "You sure you ain't actin' funny or anythin'...?"

"I... don't think I am." the purple teen answered in an uneasy tone. "I still feel like myself... on the inside at least."

"I don't think we need to worry about Twilight, girls." Sunset told her friends. Looking back at Twlight, she then stated, "I'm pretty certain that Twilight isn't being controlled by the Number card that she has..." Rubbing her chin, the red and yellow girl pondered, "Still, this does raise a few more questions: First off, how is SHE also immune to the Numbers' power? And how did she get a Number in the first place? As far as I can remember, Duel Monsters cards don't exist in Equestria... Care to elaborate, Twilight?"

"Well, I'm not really sure about your first question, concerning why my Number card hasn't caused me to go crazy or anything," Twilight began. She was then ready to say something else, but then stopped her thought for a moment when another thought suddenly came to her. "...Wait, hold on... Now that I think about it, maybe I actually DO know why that is..."

The other girls leaned in closer to listen to what their OTHER otherworldly friend had to say.

"Last night," Twilight started, "when I was walking around the castle, I noticed this card on the table in the meeting hall. I didn't know what it was at first, because there wasn't a picture on it. But all of a sudden, after I touched it with my hoof, there was this crazy light show... and after it was done, the blank card turned into what it looks like now."

"Just like with all of the other Numbers..." Sunset interrupted. "They all start out as blank cards until somepo- er, someBODY touches it. Then, it goes under some sort of transformation or something." Having finished her comment, she then allowed Twilight to continue speaking.

The purple girl then continued telling them about how she got her Number card. "The next morning, I brought my Ponyville friends over to come and see the card, along with Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. Unfortunately, they didn't know much more about it than I did. Then, as we were all talking, the card began floating in the air..." Looking at the card, Twilight continued, saying, "and this large, gold warrior, the same one on the card, emerged from out of this huge vortex that looked just like a galaxy..."

"Are you serious?!" asked Rarity. "You mean to tell me that your Number card Summoned ITSELF?! Without the aid of a Duel Pad?!"

"Actually, it is quite possible." Sunset told her fashionista friend. "With all of the magical energy that freely flows in Equestria, there is a good chance that the Number was able to Summon itself, considering that it's supposed to be from some other dimension." She then asked Twilight, "But why did it appear in front of you? What purpose did it have?"

"Well, according to Utopia," the purple girl answered, "he said he came looking for me because he needed my help."

"Your help...?" asked Fluttershy. "With what?"

"Well, he told me that several others just like him had been pulled out of their world, and he wants to return back there with all of them before somepony - excuse me - somebody tries to take their power and use it for evil purposes..." Twilight replied. "And from what you all have told me already, it appears that he was quite right about it, since his story and yours seem to match up perfectly."

(Evil purposes...?) thought Sunset Shimmer, feeling a bit worried. (But the only other person I know that's collecting Numbers is that Doctor guy. And I know for a fact that he's not trying to use them for evil at all...) She began to wonder just who else could possibly be after the Numbers and what their intentions were.

"So after Utopia explained everything to me, he then asked me to help him find his friends so that they could return home." Twilight continued to tell them. "Of course, I agreed to do just that, so I packed my things, stepped into the mirror with Spike, and well... here I am."

"So he didn't force you to do anything for him?" asked Rainbow Dash. "He actually asked you for permission?"

Twilight nodded. "And I think that's why he hasn't tried to possess me or anything like what you told me." she then stated. "Because he knows that he needs my help. At least... that's what I think it is right now."

"Well, Ah suppose that explains why your mind's still one hundred-percent okay." Applejack spoke up. "But what Ah don't get is how this Utopia guy knew to come and find you all the way over into the world that ya live in..."

"Well, actually... he told me how he knew all of that." the purple girl answered. "He told me that he came looking for me on someone else's behalf. Because someone here really wanted my help..."

"Whoever could that be?" asked Rarity.

"...It's Sunset, isn't it?" Pinkie Pie suddenly said, answering the purple-haired teen's question in an unusually quiet and serious voice (well, unusual for her). The other girls, except for Sunset, gasped a little after the pink teen said that.

Twilight nodded yes and said, "That's what he told me." Turning over to the red and yellow girl, she asked her, "Isn't that right?"

Sunset sighed and sheepishly answered, "...Yeah, that's right. I really did want you to come and help us out, just like you did before with the Dazzlings. But... well I, ...I just didn't want to-"

But the purple girl smiled and interrupted her by saying, "You don't need to explain anything to me, Sunset... I know that you didn't want to pull me away from my Princess duties. But I'm not just any Princess, Sunset; I'm the Princess of Friendship... And helping others in need, especially my friends, ARE what my duties are all about. So I have no problem coming all the way here to this world to do just that. No matter what world they come from, I would NEVER abandon my friends when they need me the most."

Sunset Shimmer said nothing at first as she began to process everything that Twilight had just said to her. Just then, she formed a smile, gave out a small chuckle, and replied, saying, "You're right, Twilight... I should've known that you'd always be happy to help us out... Please forgive me for thinking otherwise. You know as well as I do that I'm still getting used to the whole 'friendship' thing."

"It's okay, Sunset." Twilight replied, smiling. "And I do appreciate that you were being considerate of my feelings by what you were trying to do, or rather what you WEREN'T trying to do. But in any case, I'm here now, and I'm ready to do whatever I can to help resolve all of this and make sure that everyone here can live in peace once again!"

"Well, if that's what you really want, Twilight, then there's no way that I can say no." Sunset told her, deciding that it was a good idea to have her help out after all. The two of them shook hands to say that they were both okay with the decision.

"Well, it's good to know that we'll have somebody else to help us figure out all of this business concerning the Number cards." Rarity stated, feeling better knowing that their friend Twilight was here to lend them a hand. But just then...

"Wait!! I just realized something, everyone!!" Pinkie shouted. "Didn't Sunset just say that there aren't any Duel Monsters cards at ALL in her world??"

"Wait, she's right!" gasped Applejack. "Which means that Twilight doesn't know anything about it! And that also means that she doesn't know how to play the card game, either!"

"What are you girls talking about?" asked the purple girl.

"Um, well..." Rarity spoke, after clearing her throat a little, "to put it simply, Twilight dear, in order to obtain a Number card from somebody that has one is defeat them in a game of Duel Monsters... The problem is that, if you don't know how to play it..."

Twilight then gasped, realizing what the purple-haired teen was getting at. "That means... that I won't be of any help at all...!"

"Now calm down, everyone. No need to get worried." Sunset told her friends. "I've thought about that problem, and I have already come up with a solution to it." Folding her arms in front of her, she then stated, "Since Twilight here doesn't have any knowledge of the Duel Monsters card game, the obvious answer is that someone here needs to teach her how to play it. And I've decided that I'll be the one to teach her."

"Y-you'll teach me how to play it?" asked Twilight, a bit surprised. "Really?"

Sunset looked at her purple-skinned friend and told her, "Twilight... you've done so much for me in the past few months; you've helped me to completely change my whole outlook on life and made me into a better person. Not to mention that you've lent me and the rest of my friends a hand when the Dazzlings tried to brainwash everybody in school... You've helped me so much, that I think it's only fair that I should return the favor and help YOU out for a change."

"Wow... thank you..." Twilight replied. "I'm so glad to hear you say that."

"You said it was your duty to help friends out when they needed it," the red and yellow teen told her with a warm smile, "and I feel that it should be my duty as well." Putting her hand on top of Twilight's hand on the table, she then added, "With my knowledge and your determination, I promise that you'll be ready for anything out there!"

The purple-skinned girl was still astounded by what she was hearing; Sunset had certainly changed a lot since the day they had first met. In fact, she seemed to be even more knowledgeable on the concept of friendship than she had been since the Dazzlings incident. Twilight was certainly happy to know that Sunset Shimmer was truly taking to heart everything she had learned about being a good friend.

Smiling, Twilight told her, "Sunset, if only Princess Celestia could see you right now... I know that she'd tell you how proud she is of you. Because I certainly am."

Sunset Shimmer felt happy hearing that from her. The red and yellow girl then glanced over to her friends and told them, "I'm gonna go and take Twilight to my apartment and help her learn how to play Duel Monsters. However, I'd like all of you to lend a hand as well."

"How so?" asked Fluttershy.

Sunset reached into her purse and pulled out her wallet. Taking out some of the money inside, she then handed it over to Rarity and told her, "Here... I want you to use this to..." Sunset then began whispering the rest of her instructions in the fashionista's ear so that Twilight wouldn't know anything about it. Once she was done, she then asked, "Did you get all of that, Rarity?"

"Every word of it." the violet-haired teen replied. "You can count on me!"

Turning over to Fluttershy, Sunset then whispered more instructions to her, asking her to lend Rarity a hand with whatever she was asked to do. The shy yellow girl nodded yes to say that she would do just that.

"What about us?" asked Rainbow Dash, pointing to herself, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack.

"I'll let you guys know what I need you to do tomorrow." Sunset responded. "But I will tell you this: I'll need you to bring your D-Pads and dueling Decks with you, so make sure you have them ready to go."

"We won't let ya down, Sunnie!" Pinkie Pie told her enthusiastically.

"We'll all help ya out with whatever ya need us fer." Applejack added, tipping her hat to Sunset.

Twilight wasn't sure what was going on. "Um... what was that all about, Sunset?" she asked.

"Don't worry about it for now, Twilight." the red and yellow girl told her. "We've got a lot of other work that we need to do first, so come and follow me back to my place."

"Your place? You have a home now?" asked Spike, popping out of Twilight's backpack. "Since when?"

"I'll fill you in along the way." Sunset told both him and Twilight. "Let's just get going for now." And with that, the seven girls left Sugarcube Corner and headed back for their homes while Sunset and Twilight headed for the apartment building on Jump Street.

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Later, in the early afternoon, Sunset unlocked the door to her apartment and switched on the lights. Once Twilight and Spike got a look at the huge room that they were in, they let out astonished gasps. "Oh wow...!" said the purple girl. "This place is amazing!!"

"Yeah! It's so big and everything!" added Spike, running on all fours and hopping onto the plush L-shaped sofa. "It's almost as nice as the castle back home!"

"Yeah... I know..." Twilight responded, still amazed. She then asked her friend, "And you said that your world's Luna just GAVE it to you??"

"Apparently." Sunset answered. "She and Celestia told me that it was a reward for all of the good things that I've done lately, including saving this year's Fall Formal from becoming a total disaster."

"I suppose that explains this photo you have here..." Twilight stated as she looked a framed picture on the wall. It was a picture of Sunset, her friends, and the two principals, taken on the night that Sunset had been unanimously elected to be that year's Fall Formal Princess. "I didn't think you'd ever go to a Fall Formal again after... well, you know."

"Not at first, but the others talked me into it, and I'm glad they did." the red and yellow teen replied. "And based on the fact that everybody at school voted for me to be the new Fall Formal Princess, I don't have to worry about anyone hating me for my past mistakes anymore."

"I'm glad to hear that, Sunset." Twilight said to her with a smile. "I can kind of understand how uncomfortable you must have felt, knowing that everyone around you was treating you like an outcast..."

"Well, I brought it on myself, so I kinda had it coming. But I know better now, so there's no chance of that happening again." replied the red and yellow girl.

At that moment, a thought came to Spike as he perked his head up. "Hey, Twilight! I just realized: Where are ya gonna stay while we're here in this world??"

"Urk...! I didn't think about that!" Twilight began to sweat a little as she said in a panicking tone, "The first time I was here, I slept over in the school library! Then the next time I came by, we all slept over at Pinkie Pie's house! I didn't even begin to consider what my living arrangements here would be this time!! Oh no... what am I gonna do?! I'll have to look at all my maps to find all of the possible places to live, and then I'll have to get MORE information from my charts and graphs in order to make sure that each location could meet the needs of both Spike and myself, and then after that-"

But before Twilight could say another word, Sunset put her hands on each of her friend's shoulders and told her, "Twilight! Calm down...! You don't need to get all worked up over this!" She then smiled and added, "I've already come up with a solution to that problem."

"You... you have?" asked the purple teen, easing up a little bit.

Sunset nodded yes and asked, "Why don't the two of you just stay here with me?"

"Huh? With you?" asked Twilight, not expecting to hear that.

"Of course." the red and yellow girl answered. "Think about it: It's only the most logical choice. You won't be far away from me or the rest of our friends, you won't have to worry about any expenses, you'll have all the space to move around that you could ever need, and well..." Sunset's voice began getting a little softer, as she started to feel a little shy about what she planned on saying next. "...To be honest," the girl continued, "I could use the company; it gets kinda lonely here, living all by myself..."

"...I can imagine..." uttered Twilight as she glanced around the apartment. "If I didn't have Spike around to keep me company, I'd feel the same way about living in my castle..." Smiling, the young Princess then looked back at her inter-dimensional friend. "Sunset...?"

"Yeah?"

"...I think I'll take you up on your offer." Twilight told her.

"You will...?" asked Sunset, wanting to make sure.

The purple girl nodded to say that she had made her decision. "I will." she replied.

"ALRIGHT!!" cheered Sunset Shimmer excitedly. Then, realizing that her sudden outburst wasn't in her mind, she quickly regained her composure, cleared her throat, and said, "I mean... alright then. I guess that settles that." She also let out an embarrassed chuckle.

Twilight giggled a little to herself as well as she set her things down. She then asked her inter-dimensional friend, "So, what should we do first? In regards to teaching me how to play this Duel Monsters game, that is."

"Well, the first thing we have to do is to help you build your first Deck." Sunset told her. "You can't duel without one, so we need to make sure that yours will be strong enough to handle almost anything." She walked over to a nearby closet and opened it, revealing several large, white, cardboard boxes were inside, along with a few binders as well. The red and yellow girl then motioned Twilight to come over to her, which she did. Handing her a box, Sunset told her, "Here, take a box and follow me over to the round table."

"Um, okay." the young Princess replied, doing just as she was told.

After about a minute or so, Twilight and Sunset moved all of the boxes and binders over to the large table in the living room. The two girls then sat down as the red and yellow girl then opened one of the boxes, revealing that there many Duel Monsters cards sitting inside of it. Twilight let out a gasp as she saw just how many cards her friend had managed to collect. "Wow... are all of these really yours?" she asked her inter-dimensional friend.

"Yep." answered Sunset Shimmer. "I started collecting Duel Monsters cards a while ago; to be more specific, it was a little while after Luna forced me to fix up the school's front entrance."

"Really? It was that long ago?" asked Twilight.

Sunset nodded yes. "Pinkie was the one who got me into it, actually." she explained. "She wanted to help break the ice between me and the others when I met up with them all that night after the Fall Formal."

"I'm not surprised to hear that; the Pinkie Pie in my world is the same way." Twilight told her. "She always knows how to help anypony feel better and have fun, even those that felt very uneasy coming in."

"That sounds like the Pinkie I know here." stated Sunset. "If there's one thing about Pinkie Pie that we can be sure of, it's that it's impossible to stay sad or angry whenever she's nearby."

Twilight nodded to yes to say that she agreed with that statement. Changing the subject, she then asked, "So, Sunset... can you tell more about these Number cards? Utopia said that you had collected a few so far..."

Sunset nodded yes and pulled out her red deck box from her purse. She then pulled out her Deck and placed the ten Number cards that she had gotten so far onto the table in front of Twilight. The otherworldly Princess saw that, just like the card that she had, all of Sunset's Number cards had the bizarre writing upon them as well. Spike hopped over from the sofa for the moment so that he could look at them too.

"Woah..." the little dragon-turned-puppy began. "They sure look weird..." He then glanced over at two of the cards in particular - Number 13: Embodiment of Crime and Number 31: Embodiment of Punishment - and shivered a bit. "Not to mention creepy..."

"So you got all of these by winning games, Sunset?" asked Twilight.

"Not all of them." the red and yellow girl responded. She then picked up Number 33: Chronomaly Machu Mech and Number 36: Chronomaly Chateau Huyuk and explained, saying, "These two here are ones that I found myself, when they were still blank cards, much like how you got your Utopia card. The other eight, however, were owned by other people until I defeated them in Duels."

"I see..." Twilight replied, understanding everything.

For the next several minutes, Sunset told her the stories behind each of the other Number cards that she had. She also told her about what their former owners had done while under the control of them, such as how Octavia was spurred into attacking her best friend Vinyl Scratch, how Photo Finish nearly became a peeping tom, how Manny Roar almost became more of a tyrant than a landlord, and how a bullied student developed a sinister and sadistic personality brought on by constant torment. However, Sunset told Twilight that the most upsetting moment came when Rarity fell victim to Number 52: Diamond Crab King and almost ruined the Fall Formal until Sunset stopped her. The red and yellow girl also mentioned to her friend to not bring that event up in front of Rarity, as she still felt bad about it, despite that she had no control over herself at the time.

"Wow... I don't believe it..." stated Twilight, amazed by what had been told to her. "Utopia was certainly right about the Numbers being dangerous."

"I'll say." Spike chimed in. "Whod've ever thought that a few little cards could cause so much trouble?"

Sunset Shimmer sighed a little and said to her friend, "I hope what I just told you won't deter you from helping us out with all of this..."

"Quite the opposite, actually." stated the young Princess. "Now that I know just how dangerous these cards are, I'm more determined to help you guys out and prevent them from causing any more problems."

"...I knew you'd say that, Twilight, but I just needed to make sure." Sunset replied, happy to hear her friend say that. "And I promise to make sure you'll be ready out there." Putting away her Deck for the moment, the red and yellow girl then said, "Now, let's get right into it and help you get your new Deck together."

"Of course. Let's get started." the purple girl responded. As was her nature, she was always ready to learn about something new.

"Now," Sunset began her instructions, "as with any card game, it's important to have a good balance of different types of cards. Fortunately for you, I've got LOTS of different cards right here, and I'm willing to loan you some of mine to help you out." Twilight smiled, pleased to see that Sunset was being so generous right now.

"Of course, while having good balance in your Deck is important," the red and yellow girl continued, "what's most important is to pick out the cards that you like the best and build something around them." Pushing the box over to Twilight she then said, "Go ahead and choose the ones that look the most interesting to you."

"The most interesting...?" asked Twilight. "But... how do I know which ones are the best to choose? I've never seen any of them before..."

"Don't worry about that." Sunset replied. "Just page through them all and put aside the ones that seem good to you. After you do that, I'll get out some other cards that will support your choices the best."

"Oh, I see... I think I understand now." said the young Princess. "Okay... here goes." Twilight decided to look through one of the binders first. As she flipped through the pages, one card immediately caught her eye: It had a picture of a young wizard in a navy blue costume with an orange flame-like pattern decorating it in several places, and a long, shiny chain encircling him. Liking how it looked to her, she picked that card out and put it aside.

Sunset seemed pleased when she saw Twilight do that. (Not bad for a first pick...) she thought. (Even though this is her first time ever seeing these cards, I know that she'll make some good choices...)

After Twilight had picked out a few more cards, both from the binders and the boxes, Sunset looked over them all to determine what sort of strategy could be used with them. Once she figured out the best type of Deck to include them in, Sunset began rooting through the rest of her collection to find some good support cards. As she did, the red and yellow girl explained to Twilight exactly what she was including and why, as well as explaining most of the basic rules of the game. Naturally, Twilight had no problem with retaining it all; every bit of information, no matter how small, was picked up by the young Princess and stored in her brain.

After gathering together every possible card that she felt would help her friend out, Sunset then began arranging them all into a suitable Deck, making sure to include as many of Twilight's previous choices as possible. As she built the Deck, Sunset remembered the day that her friends had helped her to build her first Deck, as well as all the fun they had dueling each other. And now she was going to do the same for Twilight.

"Thirty-seven... Thirty-eight..." Sunset Shimmer counted as she put the last few cards into Twilight's Deck. "...thirty-nine... Forty! There we go!" Presenting the neat pile of cards to her friend, like it was an award, she told her, "Twilight Sparkle, I present to you your first dueling Deck."

The purple girl smiled as she took the Deck and looked through all of the cards inside. "Wow... this looks great!" Twilight said to her friend, "I just hope it will be strong enough to help you and the others find those Number cards."

"I'm sure it will." Sunset assured her. "After all, you picked out some very good cards in the beginning, so it wasn't hard to find others to help support them. With that Deck, and with the help of everyone else, you'll be a great Duelist!" At that moment, Sunset then recalled something else and said, "Oh! I almost forgot..." Handing her a few more cards, she added, "Here's your Extra Deck. I put in some good Xyz Monsters that will assist you in your Duels as well."

"Thanks." the purple teen replied politely. "I'll make good use of them." She then took the cards and put them and the rest of her Deck into a pink deck box that Sunset also had given to her to store her cards in. Looking at the now-closed box, she then stated, "Now all I really need to do is to try and play a game, now that I know what all the rules are..."

"You've got it." Sunset replied. She then glanced over at her clock on the wall and gasped a little when she saw how late it was. "Sweet Celestia! It's already past ten?! Wow, we spent lot more time putting your Deck together than I thought!"

"Yeah, I can't believe it either!" added an equally-astonished Twilight Sparkle. "Pinkie Pie was certainly correct about time flying by when you're having fun." She then glanced over back to Spike, who had moved back over to the sofa some time ago. Twilight saw that he was resting peacefully on the comfortable cushion and snoring. "Looks like Spike's already fallen asleep..." she said.

Sunset let out a deep yawn and stated, "Well, he's got the right idea... I think we should get some rest too. We've got a lot more to do tomorrow."

After the two of them washed up and changed into suitable sleeping clothes (Sunset had just today picked up some new pajamas for herself and Twilight on the way over to her home), the two walked over to the super-large bed to go to sleep in. Twilight glanced over to the writing desk and noticed an old-looking book sitting on it, recognizing it as the magic book that Sunset could use to communicate to her while she was in Equestria. She also saw a newly-framed picture above the desk; it was the photo of Sunset and Princess Celestia that was taken back when they had visited an amusement park a long time ago.

Sunset pushed back the covers on the left side of the bed so that she could climb in. Twilight then did the same thing on the right side and got into bed as well. "Sunset...?" she began to ask.

"What's up?" asked the red and yellow girl.

"I... just want to say that... that I'll do my best to help you and the others." the young Princess replied. "I just wanted you to know that..."

Sunset smiled warmly and told her, "I know you will, Twilight. I have total confidence in you. Princess Celestia chose you to be a Princess because she knew you'd do a good job... And I know you'll do a good job here as well, just like you always have." Sighing sadly a lttle, she added, "If only I'd been the kind of student you were back then..."

Sensing that her good friend was feeling a little down, Twilight put her arm around her shoulder to help comfort her.

"Twilight... I'd like to ask a favor from you." the red and yellow girl began to say.

"Anything. What is it?"

"...I'm not sure when, but... one day, either when you're here or when you're back in Equestria..." she told her Princess friend, "I might ask you to let me through the mirror portal for a little while, so that I can have the opportunity to personally apologize to Princess Celestia for the horrible things I said to her before I left and came here... And when I do, I'd really appreciate it if you could be there to give me some support."

"Of course I will, Sunset." Twilight said, accepting her request. "And I think you know as well as I do that Celestia would be happy to see you again." Leaning in closer to her friend's ear, she whispered, "Don't tell her I said this, but before I got here, she asked me to make sure that you would be safe from whatever is going on right now with these Number cards; I just thought that you should know that she still cares about you, even after all this time."

Sunset smiled a little; she was happy to hear that, even after how badly she treated Celestia, the Sun Princess still cared for her well-being. "Thanks, Twilight..." she told her. "I really needed to hear that."

"Anytime." the young Princess replied. Yawning and laying down, she then said, "Good night, Sunset."

"Good night, Twilight." the red and yellow girl replied, turning the light off. The two of them then went right to sleep in order to prepare for the next day. As they did, Sunset continued to ponder something else in her mind. (Twilight said that Princess Celestia still cared about me, even after what happened in the past...) she thought. (But if that's so, then... why didn't she follow me into this world and convince me to come back?) This was a question that had always been on her mind for a while, but she could never figure out the answer, but she always told herself in the end that there must have been some reason for it. Whatever the reason, Sunset knew that she wouldn't be able to figure it out right now, and pushed those thoughts out of her mind for the moment so that she could get to sleep.

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The next day, at around 7:45 in the morning, both Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle got up out of the queen-size bed, ready to start their day. The red and yellow girl turned on the TV, switching to the local news while she went into the kitchen to prepare breakfast for not only herself, but also for Twilight and Spike. She cooked up a nice meal of blueberry waffles with buttered toast and orange juice for them all to enjoy. And enjoy it they did; the young Princess was certainly impressed by how good of a cook Sunset was.

After the two of them changed out of their pajamas and put on their outfits for the day, Sunset, Twilight, and Spike (who had hopped into the purple teen's backpack, as usual) left the apartment and departed from the city to the suburbs. As they walked down the sidewalk, several of Sunset's classmates passed them by and greeted both her and Twilight.

"Hey, Sunset! Hey, Twilight!" said a passing Vinyl Scratch. "How's it goin'?"

"Pretty good, Vinyl." Sunset replied. "How's your new song coming along?"

"Should be finished with it soon." the music-lover answered her. "When I'm done, I'd like it if you could give me some input; y'know, to make sure it's perfect and stuff."

"You just let me know when and where, and I'll be there." the red and yellow girl promised. Vinyl smiled and nodded before continuing on her way.

"Hi, Sunset!" said another girl's voice. It was Roseluck, who was busy carrying a beautiful rose growing out of a flowerpot.

"Hey, Roseluck. How are you doing today?" Sunset asked her

"Just great! I wanted to thank you and your friend Applejack for the fertilizer you brought over to the flower shop last week." the flower-loving girl told her. "My plants have never looked healthier than they do right now!"

"Hey, no problem at all, Rose." stated the red and yellow girl. "Just wanted to lend a hand, that's all."

"Well, I certainly appreciate it. Thank you very much!" Roseluck told her before heading on her way.

Twilight felt very pleased after hearing all of the nice things that people were saying to her inter-dimensional friend. "I've got to say, Sunset," she began to tell her, "it certainly feels refreshing to see that people are treating you a lot better than they were the last time I was here."

"I know; I feel the same way." Sunset responded. "I have to admit, it feels a lot better having people like you because they WANT to like you. I just wish I knew that when I first came to this world."

"Better late than never, I suppose." stated the purple teen. She then asked her friend, "So, where are we going, Sunset?"

"We're meeting up with the others at the school." the red and yellow girl answered.

"The school?" asked Twilight in a confused tone of voice. "But... isn't today Sunday? I thought that schools close during the weekends."

"We're not going IN the school, Twilight; we're heading for the soccer field behind the building." Sunset informed her. "From this point on, I'm going to continue with your lessons on Duel Monsters."

"Continue with my lessons?" repeated Twilight. She then began to ponder in her mind about what Sunset had planned for them both today.

The two girls eventually reached the familiar horse statue that stood proudly in front of Canterlot High School. Though the building was locked up for the day, the students that attended the school often congregated there to chat or just to simply hang out. Some even went to the open fields in the back to play sports or duel each other.

Sunset and Twilight walked around the building, with Spike poking his head out of the backpack to see what was going on around him. It wasn't long before the three of them saw their friends Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Rarity sitting on the bleachers, chatting with each other while they waited for them to show up.

Fluttershy glanced over and saw their other friends coming their way. "Oh! Everybody...! Twilight and Sunset are here...!" she informed them all.

The other four girls looked over to see Sunset and Twilight walking towards the bleachers that they were sitting on. "Alright! Y'all made it!" Applejack called over to them.

"What took ya so long?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Rainbow Dash, be polite; It IS a long walk from the city to here." Rarity informed her cyan-skinned friend. The fashionista strolled over and said to Sunset and Twilight. "Good morning to you both. How was your stroll to the school?"

"Pretty good. It was no trouble getting here." Sunset answered.

"How did things go last night with Twilight?" Fluttershy asked. "If you don't mind me asking..."

"I think I'm starting to get the hang of things..." stated the young Princess. "Sunset helped me build a Deck and taught me about some of the basic rules so far."

"She's picking up on it almost as quickly as I did." Sunset added. "Of course, given how smart Twilight here is, I'm not surprised. I think she'll do very well as a Duelist once we're through." The purple-skinned girl blushed a little after hearing the compliment. The red and yellow teen then asked, "Oh! Speaking of which: Rarity, did you and Fluttershy find that thing that I asked you to find?"

"We most certainly did, Sunset dear." the violet-haired girl responded, pulling out a box from a blue reusable shopping bag that she had with her. Showing the box to Twilight, she then told her, "This is for you, darling."

"For me?" asked the purple girl. "What is it?"

"Something that you'll need in order to play Duel Monsters." Sunset answered. "Go ahead; open it."

Twilight nodded and took the box from Rarity. She then slowly opened it as Spike watched from over her shoulder. Inside, there was a violet-colored tablet and a pink-colored lens that was designed to fit on one's ear. "Uh... what are those things?" asked the little purple puppy.

"Yeah... what are they?" Twilight asked as well.

"A little gift from me to you." Sunset replied. "It's your new Duel Pad and Duel Gazer."

"My new what and what?" asked Twilight, not understanding.

"It's a super-special-awesome device that allows you to play Duel Monsters anywhere and anytime!" Pinkie Pie told her. "But the BEST part about it is that it makes it look like you're Summoning REAL monsters right in front of you!"

"Really?" asked Twilight. She then looked over at Sunset and asked her, "Is that really necessary to play a simple card game? It seems a bit over-the-top."

"Maybe, but it does make the game a lot more interesting." the red and yellow girl told her. She then added, "I asked Rarity and Fluttershy to pick one out for you yesterday and gave them some of my money to purchase it for you."

"Really? You went and did all that for me?" asked the young Princess.

"Of course, Twilight dear." Rarity replied. "Keeping up with my generous nature, I feel that there is no expense spared when it comes to helping out a friend." She then reached into her purse and took out a small amount of money before telling Sunset, "Oh, before I forget, here is your change, Sunset."

"Eh, that's alright. You can keep it, Rarity." the red and yellow girl informed her. "Think of it as a thank-you to both you and Fluttershy for helping us out." The fashionista smiled after hearing that, thanking her friend before evenly splitting the change with Fluttershy.

"So... how does this device work?" asked Twilight, looking at the tablet curiously.

"Here, I'll help ya set this thing-a-ma-bob up." Applejack said, offering her assistance. She helped switch on the device and worked together with the young Princess to put in all of the necessary information into the tablet. After all of the work was done, the Duel Pad displayed a main menu of sorts in front of a colorful background. Twilight immediately noticed that the symbol on the background resembled her cutie mark.

"So, what do you think of it, Twilight?" asked Sunset.

"I think it looks really nice." the young Princess said, looking at it after strapping it onto her left arm. "Thank you very much for getting it for me."

"It was our pleasure." stated the red and yellow girl. She then told her friend, "Now that we've gotten all of that taken care of, it's time to move on to the next part of our itinerary."

"Intiner-what?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"She means what we are going to do next, Rainbow." Rarity informed her athletic friend. The cyan girl nodded to say that she got it.

Walking over to Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack, she then told them, "Now that Twilight has a good grasp on the game so far, I think it would be best if she saw how a real Duel goes for herself." Pointing to her orange and pink-skinned friends, she told them, "Applejack, I'd like you to duel against Pinkie Pie."

"Huh? Me against Pink?" asked the country girl, wanting to be sure that she heard Sunset correctly.

"Oh wow! That's great!!" cheered Pinkie Pie. "Now I'll finally get to see your new Deck, AJ!!"

Sunset nodded and told Applejack. "I think that it would be a big help to Twilight if the two of you did this. What do you say?"

"Hmmmm... well, if it's to help out Twi, then Ah suppose it's okay with me." the country girl said. "Besides, Ah've been pretty curious t' see what Pinkie's been workin' on lately; she's been pretty tight-lipped about her Deck other than the fact that she's been makin' a new one." She then asked the silly pink girl, "So, y'all feel like lettin' us all in on what yer new Deck is, Pinkie?"

But the pink teen shook her head no and told her, "Sorry, AJ! You'll just hafta see what it is when we start dueling!"

The orange girl sighed and said, "Fine, have it your way..."

"Hey! What about me??" asked Rainbow Dash. "I haven't gotten a chance t' help Twilight out at all yet!"

Sunset put her hand on the cyan girl's shoulder and told her, "Don't worry, Dash: I've got something real special planned that I'll need your help with later on. For now, just be patient a little while longer."

"Ugh... fine." Rainbow responded with a sigh.

Sunset then took out her Duel Gazer and placed it over her eye. She then then told Twilight, "Alright, take that lens out and put it over your left eye; you'll need it to see what's going on during the Duel."

"Um... Okay, I see..." the purple girl replied, taking the lens out of the box that her Duel Pad was stored in and fitted it over her eye, resting it on top of her left ear. The rest of the girls did the same thing.

Pinkie Pie and Applejack stood at opposite ends of the soccer field, strapping on their Duel Pads and sliding their dueling Decks inside. "So, Pink... y'all ready fer this?" asked the country girl, clearly pumped up and ready to take her friend on.

Pinkie Pie giggled and answered her, saying, "I'm ready if you arrrrrre!!" It seemed that she, too, was excited to duel. Stretching her left arm out, she then shouted, "Duel Pad, activate!!" At that moment, the pink and blue-colored device's card tray slotted out and unfolded.

Applejack did the same thing with her brown-colored Duel Pad as she activated it. She then clicked a button on the side of the lens she wore and said, "Activatin' Duel Gazer!!" As she did that, Sunset then motioned to Twilight to press the button on her Gazer in order to switch it on while she and the rest of her friends did the same.

"AR Vision Link established." said a computerized voice as a digital copy of the soccer field projected around them all. Twilight, while not making any sounds at all, was certainly impressed so far by the advanced technology this world appeared to have.

Spike, of course, couldn't really see anything, since he didn't have a Duel Gazer like the others. "What's going on??" he asked, looking around the area. "I can't see anything!"

Just then, Fluttershy pulled out a small item from out of her purse: It was a smaller Gazer that appeared to be dog-sized; likely, it was custom-made, since a regular dog would not normally have a need for one. "Don't worry, Spike... I didn't forget about you." the shy animal-lover told him. "I got this one while Rarity and I were shopping for Twilight's Duel Pad."

"Aw thanks a lot, Fluttershy!" the puppy exclaimed, happily taking the lens and putting it over his left eye so that he could watch the Duel.

"Alrighty, Pinkie..." Applejack began to say to her friend/opponent, "don't expect me t' go easy on ya just 'cause we're friends..."

"That's okay, AJ! I don't want you to go easy on me!" the pink teen responded with a cheerful giggle. "Gimme your best shot! Otherwise, the episode won't be very interesting to read at all!"

"Uh, sure... whatever ya say." Applejack told her. The two of them then shouted, in unison...

"LET'S DUEL!" (Pinkie Pie: LP 4,000) (Applejack: LP 4,000)

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After a quick coin toss, it was determined that Pinkie Pie would make the first move of the Duel. Both she and Applejack drew their opening cards and gave them a good looking-over in order to figure out what their strategies would be. As they did, Sunset and the others continued to explain the rules to Twilight and Spike. The red and yellow girl reminded her Princess friend that, at the beginning of the game, both Duelists would draw five cards, and that the player that made the first move was not permitted to draw a card or battle on their first turn. Twilight nodded to say that she understood as she and Spike continued to watch the Duel.

"Alrighty, Pink... let's get this Duel goin'!" Applejack told her, ready to get started.

"Ah-ah-ah... be patient, AJ..." Pinkie told her friend while wagging her index finger. "A good strategy requires a LOT of thought." Looking over her opening hand some more, she then said, "Okay! I've got it!" Taking a card out of her hand and placing it into her Duel Pad's Spell & Trap Zone slot, she then declared, "First, I'll place one card face-down!" Taking another card out of her hand, she then added, "And neeeeext... I'll Normal Summon Madolche Mewfeuille in Attack Mode!"

After playing her Monster Card, an enlarged digital copy of the card appeared in front of Pinkie Pie. Then, from out of the card came a small, pink cat with blue eyes, wearing a long, brown, belt-like garment around itself. It seemed to look more like it was a stuffed toy, based on the stitchings that appeared to encircle the bottoms of its four paws (Madolche Mewfeuille: Level 3 / ATK 500 / DEF 300).

"Huh? A Madolche monster?" asked Applejack, sounding a little surprised.

"Huh... I shoulda seen that one coming..." Rainbow Dash commented. "That Deck type suits Pinkie perfectly."

"Next," Pinkie started, continuing her move, "since I Normal Summoned Madolche Mewfeuille, his special effect activates! So now I get to Special Summon ANOTHER Madolche monster from my hand!"

"Another one??" asked AJ.

"Yeppity-yep! Mewfeuille just hates being all by itself, you know?" Pinkie informed her opponent. "And luckily, I already have his best friend right here to join him!" Taking out another card from her hand, she then shouted, "I Summon Madolche Messengelato in Defense Mode!!" Her second monster was a small-sized human boy who was dressed like a mailman. He carried a large, green bag full of letters while also holding one envelope in his gloved hand (Madolche Messengelato: Level 4 / ATK 1600 / DEF 1000).

"Wait, hold on... I'm confused..." Twilight muttered before turning over to Sunset to ask her a question. "Sunset, I thought you told me that you could only Summon ONE monster per turn."

"You're almost right." the red and yellow girl answered her. "You can only Normal Summon or Set a monster once per turn... However, in the case of a Special Summon, you can do that as much as you want every turn, provided that you have effects that allow you to do so."

"Oh, I see..." the purple teen replied, understanding.

Pinkie, continuing with her move, then stated, "Now I'll use the effect of my Madolche Messengelato! Since I Special Summoned him, and I also have a Beast-Type Madolche monster on the field with him, I can now take any Madolche Spell Card or Trap Card out of my Deck! And I choose to take Madolche Chateau!" After she said that, her Duel Pad automatically shuffled her Deck; when it was finished, the card that she chose was left sticking out of the Deck Zone slot so that she could put it into her hand. After she took it, Pinkie Pie then shoved the card into her device and exclaimed, "And now I'll go right ahead and play my Field Spell Card right away!"

Upon playing her card, Pinkie's side of the field began to change. In an instant, a large castle appeared behind her. The building was quite... unique, to put it lightly; it appeared as though the entire structure was made out of sweet foods such as cake, cookies, flan, pancakes, and more. The ground underneath Pinkie's feet changed as well, creating a jigsaw puzzle-like design, which also appeared to be made of sweets.

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Madolche Chateau:
(Field Spell Card)

When this card is activated: Shuffle all "Madolche" monsters in your Graveyard into the Deck. All "Madolche" monsters on the field gain 500 ATK and DEF. If a monster(s) in your Graveyard would be returned to the Deck by the effect of a "Madolche" monster, you can add it to your hand.

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Pinkie Pie giggled and said to her opponent, "Now all of my monsters are much, MUCH stronger!" (Madolche Mewfeuille: ATK 500 + 500 = 1000 / DEF 300 + 500 = 800) (Madolche Messengelato: ATK 1600 + 500 = 2100 / DEF 1000 + 500 = 1500)

(Just great...) thought Applejack. (It's only her first turn, and she's already given herself a major advantage!)

"Hmmmm... well, I don't think I'll be able to do anything else just yet, so I'll end my turn." said the silly pink teen in a casual tone of voice.

"Alright then, get ready Pinkie Pie..." stated the orange teen. "Ah'm gonna show ya that you ain't the only one that can make a good move on their first turn!" Applejack then drew her first card and looked at it. "Not a bad start..." she said to herself, happy with what she managed to draw. "Ah'm gonna go and play the card Ah just drew! Go, Sylvan Charity!"

"Ooooooo... that's a really good card, AJ!" complimented Pinkie Pie.

"Well, thanks... Ah think so too." Applejack replied with a smile. "Especially since this card lets me draw three new cards from mah Deck!" After she did that, she then added, "Of course, there is a small price: Ah have t' take two cards from my hand and put them both on the top of mah Deck in any order. And Ah'll choose these two: Sylvan Lotuswain and Twilight Rose Knight!" After putting her two cards away, she then said, "Next, Ah'll set a card face-down, then I'll play mah own Field Spell Card, Mount Sylvania, from mah hand!"

Just as how Pinkie's side of the field became different when she played her Field Card, Applejack's half of the field also changed dramatically. When the light show was over, a large rainforest appeared behind the country teen, with a gigantic mountain overlooking it all.

"Now they both have one of those Field Cards out..." noted Twilight, making sure to learn everything she could from what she saw.

"Yep." stated Sunset Shimmer. "In the past, the rule was that only one Field Card could be in play at a time, no matter who played it. But recently, they changed that rule so that BOTH players could have one out."

"Either way, it's so amazing how it all looks..." said an impressed Spike. "These Gazer thingies really DO make it all look so real! It's so cool!"

"I have to say, I certainly agree with you, Spike." Twilight told him. "I used to think that magic didn't exist in this world, but it seems I might have been mistaken..."

"I thought the same thing the first time I put on one of these Duel Gazers..." Sunset stated. "Now I can see that magic isn't always just spellbooks and incantations: It seems that every world has its own kind of magic just waiting to be discovered."

Back at the Duel, Applejack then told Pinkie, "Now Ah'll activate the effect of Mount Sylvania! Ah'll send Rose Lover from mah hand to the Graveyard, which allows me t' place any Sylvan card in mah Deck on the TOP of mah Deck! And Ah think that Ah'll choose to move mah Sylvan Hermitree." After doing that, she then took out one more card in her hand and stated, "Lastly, Ah'll set a monster in Defense Mode to end mah turn." After placing her card onto the tray face-down, she then nodded to Pinkie Pie to say that she could go ahead and take her turn.

"Okie-dokie-lokie! It's my turn!!" the silly pink girl said as she happily drew a card from her Deck. Although she seemed quite happy with her draw, she decided to save her new card for later in the Duel. Placing another card onto her tray, she stated, "I'll Summon a monster in Defense Mode, change my Messengelato to Attack Mode... and then I'll go ahead and move onto my Battle Phase!" Pointing ahead, she then ordered, "Go! Messengelato! Attack AJ's monster!!"

The others watched as Pinkie Pie's mailman monster ran towards Applejack's hidden card. Once it got close enough, it swung its mailbag like a club and struck the card. The country girl's monster revealed itself as a short, firey mushroom holding a staff (Sylvan Komushroomo: Level 2 / ATK 100 / DEF 2000).

"Ha! Ah was hopin' y'all would do that!" shouted Applejack with a smirk. "By attackin' mah Sylvan Komushroomo and flippin' it faceup, you activated its ability! Now Ah can harvest up to five cards from the top of mah Deck!"

"Harvest...?" asked Twilight.

"She means Excavate." Sunset informed her Princess friend. "It's when you take cards off of the top of your Deck and show them to both Duelists. However, whenever AJ does it, she likes to call it 'harvesting' for some reason."

"I suppose it's okay..." Fluttershy commented. "After all, if it helps her enjoy playing the game, it can't be a problem."

After thinking about her next move, Applejack then decided, "Okay... Ah think I'll harvest three cards from mah Deck." She then took the three cards, revealing them to be Sylvan Hermitree, Mount Sylvania, and Sylvan Flowerknight. "Not bad at all..." She then told Pinkie, "Now listen up: After Ah harvest mah cards, Ah have t' send all of the Plant-Type monsters that Ah get to the Graveyard. So Ah'll ditch Hermitree and Flowerknight... After that, Ah'll put the Spell Card that Ah got on the bottom of mah Deck." Once she did that, Pinkie's monster then finished its attack, eliminating the small mushroom monster.

"Earlier, Applejack used an effect to put a card on the top of her Deck..." stated Rarity. "So why did she allow it to be thrown out so easily...?"

"I know..." Fluttershy began to answer her. "It's because the Sylvan cards all have effects that activate if they're excavated and sent to the Graveyard by card effects... I know because I played against her Deck before the Inter-school Duel."

Twilight pondered to herself after hearing what the shy teen had said. (Wow... it sure sounds like there's a lot more complexity to this game than I first thought... I just hope I can keep up with it all...) she thought to herself.

"And now Ah'll activate the effects of the two monsters Ah sent t' mah Graveyard!" declared Applejack. "First, Ah'll use Flowerknight's effect to move another Sylvan Hermitree to the top of mah Deck. Then, the effect of the first Hermitree that's in the Graveyard lets me rearrange the top three cards of mah Deck in whatever order Ah want them t' be!" And she did just that.

"Hmmm... you're clearly setting up something big, AJ." Pinkie observed. "So I'd better beat ya fast before I have to worry about it! And I'll start by having my cute little Mewfeuille attack you directly!" The pink girl's tiny kitty-cat then pounced towards her friend/opponent and slashed her with its claws.

"Aaaaaack!" shouted Applejack after taking the hit (Applejack: LP 4,000 - 1,000 = 3,000). Sighing, she then smirked and asked, "That all ya got, Pinks?"

"Yep. At least for this turn." Pinkie answered with a smile. "Your turn!"

"Alrighty then, I draw!" the country girl then drew her next card. Of course, she knew exactly what it was, since her earlier card effect let her freely rearrange her Deck. She then told Pinkie Pie, "Ah now activate the effect of Rose Lover in mah Graveyard! All Ah gotta do is banish it, and that lets me Special Summon any Plant-Type monster that Ah've got in mah hand!"

"Oooooooohhhhh... so THAT's why you wanted to rearrange your Deck, isn't it?" asked the pink girl.

"Right on the dot, Pinks." confirmed Applejack. "So now Ah'll bring out my mighty Sylvan Hermitree in Attack Mode!" Her next monster was a gigantic tree with red and green leaves and a large face upon the tree trunk. Above its eyes was a large, red jewel, which began glowing brightly (Sylvan Hermitree: Level 8 / ATK 2700 / DEF 1800).

"Amazing!" said an astounded Rarity. "She set things up so that she could easily Summon a high-level monster when she needed it the most!" Twilight continued to pay attention to every move made in order to learn the advanced tactics of the game.

"Now Ah activate the effect of Sylvan Hermitree!" declared Applejack. "Once per turn, Ah can harvest the top card of mah Deck, and then if it's a Plant, Ah have t' send it to the Graveyard." She then pulled out the top card and allowed both her and Pinkie Pie to see it. "Alright! It's mah Sylvan Cherubsprout! That means Ah can send it to the Graveyard!" She then placed the card in the correct slot and added, "And not only that, Ah can draw one more card with Hermitree's effect!" After drawing her card, she then told her opponent, "Next, since Sylvan Cherubsprout was sent t' the Graveyard after bein' harvested, its ability lets me Special Summon a Level 1 Plant-Type monster from out of mah Deck! And Ah'll select mah Sylvan Snapdrassinagon!"

Placing her next monster in Defense Position, her newest creature appeared to be a small human-like creature with a scarf covering its face. On its head were many pink flowers, some of which were still in the process of budding (Sylvan Snapdrassinagon: Level 1 / ATK 900 / DEF 400).

"Even though she's ahead of Pinkie right now," Sunset stated, "it seems that Applejack is still trying to plan some bigger plays for later on. Unfortunately for Pinkie, the Sylvans' effects make it very easy for their user to have almost total control over the cards they get."

Twilight stayed silent, though she kept on thinking about everything she had been told, as well as what she had observed from the Duel so far. As she saw, the young Princess could tell that this game wasn't too much different from the strategy games she had seen in the past, in the fact that victory almost always favored the player who could think several moves ahead of their opponents.

"Now Ah think it's time for me t' take control of this game!" shouted AJ as she played her next card. "Ah summon Copy Plant in Attack Mode!!" Her next monster then grew out of the ground in front of her, appearing to be nothing more than a mass of brown vines wrapped around itself (Copy Plant: Level 1 / ATK 0 / DEF 0). "Next, Ah'll use the effect of Copy Plant: By targeting one other Plant-Type monster on the field, Ah can alter Copy Plant's Level to match it! And Ah select mah Level 8 Hermitree!!"

After the order was given, Applejack's Copy Plant began to grow wildly, altering itself to look like a vine-covered version of her Sylvan Hermitree (Copy Plant: Level 1 > Level 8).

"I know what's comin' next..." Rainbow Dash spoke up.

"So do I." Sunset responded. Turning over to Twilight Sparkle, she then instructed her, "Pay attention to this move, Twilight: You'll need to know about it once you start playing." The young Princess nodded and watched the next move carefully.

"Ah now overlay mah Level 8 Hermitree and Copy Plant and create an Overlay Network!!" shouted the farm girl as her two monsters turned into a pair of lights; one red and one green. The two lights were then drawn into a red portal that formed in front of Applejack. "Great Guardian of the Sylvans!" she chanted. "Let loose your mighty roar and drive away those who would harm your blessed forest! Xyz Summon!!" Taking a card from her Extra Deck and placing it onto her card tray, she then finished her chant, saying, "Appear now, Guardian! Rank 8!! Alsei, the Sylvan High Protector!!"

Applejack's new monster emerged from out of the red vortex with two swirling yellow lights surrounding it. The monster appeared to be a large, white lion, only instead of hair, its large mane appeared to made of bright green grass. It also had two branches extending out of its head like horns, with a pair of earring-like pieces of jewelry attached to them. Around its neck was a collar with a large bell, and its size easily dwarfed all of Pinkie Pie's monsters (Alsei, the Sylvan High Protector: Rank 8 / ATK 2300 / DEF 3200 / OLU 2).

"So that's an Xyz Monster..." said an astounded Twilight.

"Th-that thing's humongous!!" added Spike, trembling a little.

Pinkie Pie wasn't scared, despite the fact that she was staring down an incredibly powerful monster. In fact, she was happier than ever. "Oh wowee!!" she cheered. "That guy sure looks super-tough! Great job, AJ!!"

"Well, don't go thankin' me just yet, Pink." the country girl told her. "After all, you're the one who's gotta fight it. But first things first, I'll use the first effect of Alsei, the Sylvan High Protector. Now Ah declare one card name, then Ah harvest the top card of mah Deck. If Ah get it right, I get t' put it in mah hand. But if Ah don't, Ah have t' toss it in the Graveyard."

"That's crazy...!" said Twilight. "There's no way that Applejack could guess the top card of her Deck like that!"

"That may be true, Twilight dear," Rarity replied, "but I don't believe that Applejack will be trying too hard to guess correctly."

"My thoughts exactly." Sunset agreed with a nod.

Placing her middle and index fingers on the top of her Deck, the farm girl then said, "Alright... Ah'm gonna guess that mah top card is... Sylvan Hermitree!" She then pulled the next card and looked at it. Letting out a sigh (but still smiling), she said, "Aw crud... It's Sylvan Flowerknight! Looks like Ah got it wrong..." Of course, from the tone of her voice, it was obvious that she was faking her "disappointment". After placing it in the Graveyard, she then told Pinkie, "Course, that does mean that Ah can put any Sylvan card Ah want on the top of mah Deck, like mah Sylvan Sagequoia!"

"I see... she guessed wrong on purpose in order to use the effect of another Sylvan card, right?" asked Twilight.

"Uh huh..." Fluttershy answered, nodding yes. "Applejack has a very tricky Deck; I should know... it took me about five games with her before I was able to beat it..."

Taking a card out from underneath her Xyz Monster, Applejack then declared, "Now I'll ditch one of Alsei's Overlay Units! In exchange, Ah can use its second power t' send any card on the field back to the bottom of its owner's Deck! And Ah'll choose your Madolche Messengelato!"

"Uh oh...!" said Pinkie Pie, getting a little worried.

The large, lion-like beast opened its maw and devoured one of its swirling orbs (Alsei, the Sylvan High Protector: OLU 2 - 1 = 1). After taking in the energy that it needed, Alsei belted out an incredibly loud roar that forced everyone but Applejack into covering their ears. Pinkie Pie's mailman monster couldn't take the scary noise and made a run for it, retreating to the bottom of Pinkie Pie's Deck.

"Looks like your little messenger won't be deliverin' any mail to Mount Sylvania for quite a while." noted Applejack. Throwing a forward air punch, she then shouted, "Alright, Alsei! Attack her little kitten!!" The beast roared once more as it leapt forward and stomped right on top of Pinkie Pie's Madolche Mewfeuille.

Pinkie Pie sighed sadly a little after taking the hit to her Life Points (Pinkie Pie: LP 4,000 - 1,300 = 2,700). But she smiled once more and said, "Nice play, AJ! But I'm afraid it's not over yet!"

"Come again?" asked the country teen.

"Since my Madolche Mewfeuille was destroyed," the pink teen continued, "he gets shuffled back into my Deck... Orrrrrrr that WOULD have been the case, if not for my Field Spell, Madolche Chateau! Thanks to my Chateau, my little kitty-cat gets placed back into my hand instead!"

"Crud... that means that you can just keep bringin' it back as much ya want, no matter how many times I destroy it!" noted Applejack.

"That's riiiiiiiight!" Pinkie giggled as she took her card and put it back into her hand.

"Then I guess that's the end of mah turn then." the farm girl replied. She then thought to herself, (Knowing her, she'll probably use that cat to summon more than one monster on her turn... Ah'd better be ready; even though Ah've got a tough Xyz Monster on mah field, there's always the chance she'll whip out somethin' even stronger... Luckily, Ah planned some moves in advance, just t' be on the safe side...)

"My turn!" cheered Pinkie as she drew a card. She looked at it and got excited, "Alright! That's just what I wanted to get!!"

The others watched on, wondering what the pink girl's next move would be.

"Once again! Madolche Mewfeuille in Attack Mode!!" shouted Pinkie as she summoned her cat monster once more (Madolche Mewfeuille: ATK 500 + 500 = 1000 / DEF 300 + 500 = 800). "And now I use his effect to summon another Madolche from my hand!" Taking the card she had just drawn, she added, "Madolche Anjelly! Let's have some fun!!"

Her next monster was an adorable little angel girl with long brown hair, a pretty white dress, and small little angel wings. In her hand was a small spoon. At the moment, there appeared to be some red gelatin in the utensil, which Anjelly immediately put into her mouth, letting out a content sigh from how good it tasted (Madolche Anjelly: ATK 1000 + 500 = 1500 / DEF 1000 + 500 = 1500).

Fluttershy and Rarity immediately took notice of how cute Pinkie's new monster was. "Oh my! It's so precious!!" Rarity shrieked happily. "I just want to go over there and hug it!!"

"Me too...!" added Fluttershy. She, too, was quite taken by Anjelly's cuteness.

Applejack had never seen Pinkie's new monster before, so she asked, "What's that little sprite supposed t' do?"

"Oh, she has a REALLY strong power!" answered the silly girl. "By releasing her, I can Special Summon any Madolche monster that I want from my Deck!"

"Wait, ANY one y'all want?!" asked the farm girl, startled a little.

"Uh huh! So I'll trade her out for my Messengelato!" Pinkie responded. Anjelly then sang a short, but beautiful song. After she vanished, Pinkie Pie's mailman monster reappeared on the field (Madolche Messengelato: ATK 1600 + 500 = 2100 / DEF 1000 + 500 = 1500).

"No way... Ya brought him back out??" asked Applejack.

"Yep!" answered the pink girl. "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor giant, scary lion/plant monsters will keep him from his appointed rounds! And thanks to his ability, I can now take another Madolche Spell or Trap Card from my Deck! And I choose my Madolche Ticket!" After getting her next card, she played it onto the field right away.

"Now what're y'all up to?" asked Applejack, not sure if she really wanted to hear the answer.

"You'll see..." Pinkie told her with a smirk. "But first, I'll Flip Summon my Madolche Marmalmaide and put her in Attack Mode!" After flipping her facedown monster face-up, it was revealed to be an orange-haired girl wearing a maid's outfit. In her hand was a book titled, "Madolches' Manners" (Madolche Marmalmaide: Level 4 / ATK 800 + 500 = 1300 / DEF 2000 + 500 = 2500).

"Now Pinkie has two Level 4 monsters out!" said Rainbow Dash. "She must be planning to summon an Xyz Monster, too!"

"You've got it, Dashie!" shouted the pink teenager. Putting her right arm up into the air, she shouted, "Messengelato! Marmalmaide! It's Overlay Time!!" After she said that, the two monsters in question turned into a pair of orange lights that flew into a red portal in front of the poofy-haired girl. "When this queen comes to power, you KNOW something sweet is around the corner!" the pink girl chanted. "Xyz Summon!! Sweet Queen of Treats! Rank 4!! Madolche Queen Tiaramisu!!"

From out of the red portal came a large and beautiful throne. Sitting on that throne was an even more beautiful woman. She wore a crown on top of her lilac-colored hair, along with dazzling robes of gold and chocolate-brown that draped to the ground. In her hand was a long scepter that shimmered in the sunlight. Swirling around her were two orange-colored orbs of light (Madolche Queen Tiaramisu: Rank 4 / ATK 2200 + 500 = 2700 / DEF 2100 + 500 = 2600 / OLU 2).

Once again, Rarity and Fluttershy had stars in their eyes when they saw Pinkie's new monster. Rarity was taken in by the beautiful outfit that the queen wore, already thinking about trying to make a similar dress in the real world. As for Fluttershy, she liked it simply for how cute and pretty she looked.

"Dangit..." sighed Applejack. "Ah was hopin' t' win this Duel BEFORE she got that card out...!"

"If you like Tiaramisu right now, then you'll love this!" said Pinkie as she pulled out a card from underneath her Xyz Monster. "By removing an Overlay Unit from her, I can have her send one Madolche monster in my Graveyard back into my Deck!" After she said that, Tiaramisu raised her scepter and drew one of her orange orbs into it (Madolche Queen Tiaramisu: OLU 2 - 1 = 1). Pinkie then used the effect to send Anjelly back into her Deck. "Not only that," she then told her friend/opponent, "but now her power lets me shuffle one card on YOUR side of the field back to YOUR Deck!"

"Say WHAT?!?" exclaimed Applejack.

"Sorry, AJ... but I gotta send your big, scary lion back to your Extra Deck! Bye-bye!" And with those words, Pinkie Pie had her Xyz Monster send Applejack's off of the field, leaving only one monster left on the country teen's side to defend her.

"No way... Pinkie just did to Applejack what she had done to her last turn..." stated Rainbow Dash, impressed by her pink friend's move.

"Wow... it's amazing how control of the game can change so easily..." noted Twilight. "It's hard to tell who will win this one..."

Pinkie then continued with her turn, telling Applejack, "Now for the best part! Now that I used my Madolche Queen to put Anjelly back in my Deck, the effect of Madolche Ticket now activates! So now I can Special Summon another Madolche monster from my Deck in Attack Mode! So here comes my Madolche Cruffsant!" And in a flash, Pinkie summoned another monster onto her field, bringing her to three monsters. Her new creature was a small puppy with a brown and white coat. It wore a collar with a bell on it, along with a tiny, yellow hat (Madolche Cruffsant: Level 3 / ATK 1500 + 500 = 2000 / DEF 1200 + 500 = 1700).

"Not bad at all..." Sunset said to the others. "While Applejack plans her moves ahead better than Pinkie does, Pinkie has one thing on her side: The element of surprise. She always keeps her opponents guessing as to what her next move will be, and often does something completely different to catch them off guard... And right now, it seems as though it's working..."

"Indeed..." Rarity agreed. "Pinkie is in quite a good position: If she can attack successfully with all three of her monsters, she'll win the Duel." The girls (and puppy) watched to see what would happen.

"Alright! Time for my Battle Phase!!" cheered Pinkie Pie. "I attack Sylvan Snapdrassinagon with Madolche Mewfeuille!" The pink kitten pounced forward, easily disposing of Applejack's only monster on the field.

Letting out a slight grunt out of frustration, Applejack then shouted, "Ah activate Snapdrassinagon's effect! Ah harvest mah top card, and then send it to the Graveyard, since it's a Plant-Type monster!" After doing that, she then added, "And since Sylvan Sagequoia was the one that got sent to mah Graveyard, his effect lets me put any Sylvan Spell or Trap Card in mah Graveyard back in mah hand! And Ah pick mah Sylvan Charity!"

"Nice move, but I'm afraid that it won't help you now!" Pinkie told her country girl friend. "Because I'm not done attacking yet!" Pointing forward, the pink teen then ordered, "Tiaramisu! Attack Applejack directly!!" The regal queen then stood up out of her throne and held up her scepter, drawing in enormous amounts of energy in order to prepare for a powerful attack.

"Uh oh... looks like Applejack's not going to win this game..." Twilight stated.

"...Don't count her out of this just yet, Twilight." Sunset said to her. "I have a feeling that she's got a backup plan all ready for it..." She then pointed her finger at the face-down card that the orange teen had sitting on her side of the field.

Applejack chuckled a little and shouted, "Sorry, Pink! But Ah ain't about t' let y'all win this Duel THAT easily!" Tapping her Duel Pad's touch screen, she then declared, "Ah play mah Trap Card: Sylvan Blessing!!"

The others gasped a little when the country girl flipped her card face-up... except for Sunset Shimmer. "I thought so..." the red and yellow girl said, "I didn't think she'd leave herself wide open like that..."

Applejack then explained what her Trap Card's effect did: "Thanks to this card," she told Pinkie Pie, "Ah can send one card from mah hand to either the top or bottom of mah Deck." Applejack then took a card from her hand (the Spell Card Reasoning) and placed it on the bottom of her Deck. She then told her friend/opponent, "Then, in exchange for that, Ah can then Summon a new Sylvan monster from either mah hand or mah Graveyard!" After thinking about it for a few seconds, the farm girl decided to Special Summon another Sylvan Komushroomo from her hand in Defense Position.

"So, does that mean that Pinkie's queen monster now has to attack that mushroom instead?" asked Twilight.

"Correct." Rarity answered. "Pinkie originally initiated an attack on Applejack directly. But before the attack could be completed, Applejack summoned a monster to defend herself with. The rules state that, if the number of monsters on your opponent's field change after you declare an attack, the Replay Rule goes into effect. Now Pinkie has to choose to either continue her attack with Tiaramisu and target the new monster, or abandon the attack altogether."

"Hmmmm... I see. Sounds pretty tricky." stated the young Princess.

"It took me a while to figure it out too, don't worry." Sunset admitted.

Pinkie sighed a little out of disappointment. "Awwwww...! That stinks! Now I can't win the Duel on this turn!" Sighing a second time - this time to regain her composure - she added, "Oh well, not much I can do about it, I suppose..." Pointing towards AJ's new monster, she shouted, "Tiaramisu! Attack Sylvan Komushroomo!" Of course, the queen had no problem defeating the tiny mushroom as she let out a powerful shot from her staff and blasted it off of the field. "And now, I attack directly with my Madolche Cruffsant!"

The little brown and white puppy barked loudly as it ran towards Applejack and bit her in the leg. "Yeeow!!" she screamed after taking some damage (Applejack: LP 3,000 - 2,000 = 1,000). "Get offa me, ya flea-bitten mongrel!" she shouted. After she said that, the country girl then looked over towards Spike and told him, "Uh, no offense there, Spike."

"None taken." the purple puppy replied.

"Hmmm... looks as though she still took a bad hit there..." noted Twilight.

"Perhaps," Sunset replied, "but more importantly, Applejack didn't lose the game. She may have lost a monster and all but a quarter of her total Life Points, but she still has one more turn to fight back." Turning over to her inter-dimensional friend, she then informed her, "That's something you should always remember, Twilight: If it comes down to a choice between losing some of your Life Points or losing all of them, always pick the lesser of two evils."

"That makes sense." the purple teenager responded, seeing the logic in it.

After her last attack, Pinkie Pie then said, "Well, I guess the only other thing I can do is this: I'll activate the special ability of my Madolche Cruffsant! By sending my Madolche Mewfeuille back into my hand, I can increase Cruffsant's Level by one and its attack power by 300!" The silly girl then took her kitten monster off of the field, allowing the puppy to gain even more power (Madolche Cruffsant: Level 3 + 1 = Level 4 / ATK 2000 + 300 = 2300). After that, she then ended her turn.

"I see what she did there..." Fluttershy said to her friends. "She did that so that Applejack couldn't attack her Mewfeuille during her turn."

"Yeah, I see..." Rainbow Dash chimed in. "Smart move, considering that her cat was the weakest monster that she had out."

Twilight then said, "Well, I'm not too surprised, to be honest; if your world's Pinkie Pie is anything like the one from mine, then it's safe to assume that she's a lot more intelligent than she makes herself seem..."

Sunset Shimmer nodded yes to say that Twilight's assumption was quite correct. "Pinkie's a very tough customer when it comes to Duel Monsters... In fact, she's only ever lost once, and that was to me."

Twilight was a bit startled after hearing that. "Really? You're the only one that ever beat her?"

"Yep, and even then it took me about nine games before it finally happened." the red and yellow girl stated. Turning back to the Duel in progress, she added, "Applejack's going to have to pull out all the stops if she's planning on winning..."

"For her sake, let us hope she does..." Rarity commented.

Applejack smiled as she stared down her friend/opponent, saying, "You're still as tough as Ah remember, Pink... But if y'all think that I'm gonna surrender now, then you're even crazier than I think you are!"

"Believe me, AJ," Pinkie replied, "you have NO idea how crazy I can get." Putting on a fierce look (but still smiling), she shouted, "Gimme your best shot! I can take it!"

"If y'all say so... I draw!" The country girl then drew her next card and looked at it closely. Putting on a huge smile, she cheered loudly, shouting, "Ah don't believe it! I drew EXACTLY what Ah needed!" Playing her new card right away, she then declared, "Ah Summon Lonefire Blossom in Attack Mode!!"

Applejack's next monster began to grow out of the ground, sprouting several small, purple leaves from its stem. A flower then bloomed at the top of the stalk, revealing what appeared to be a beige, spherical bomb (Lonefire Blossom: Level 3 / ATK 500 / DEF 1400).

"Huh? What's that do?" asked Pinkie Pie.

"Ah'm glad ya asked, Pinks..." the farm girl replied. "See, by releasin' one Plant-Type monster on mah field, mah Lonefire lets Special Summon any Plant-Type monster from mah Deck!" The pink teen gasped after hearing that; now SHE was the one that had been caught off-guard for once.

"But... she doesn't have any other monsters out..." noted Rainbow Dash. "How's she gonna use the effect?"

Twilight thought for a bit... and figured it out. "I know how..." she told everyone. "She's planning to release Lonefire Blossom itself to do that!"

The others gasped in surprise; both out of Applejack's brilliant play, and from the fact that the young Princess had figured it out all by herself. (Impressive...) thought Sunset Shimmer. (I didn't even have to tell her about that trick...) Turning back over to the Duel, she then pondered, (Since Lonefire Blossom's effect doesn't exclude it from being part of the Tribute cost, to Applejack, that card is basically a free pass to any monster she wants.) She then glanced back at Twilight and smiled, proud of her for being able to figure out that move as easily as she did.

"Alright, Lonefire Blossom!" shouted Applejack. "Ah release you from the field!" Upon saying that, the bomb at the end of Lonefire's stem exploded, creating a large cloud of smoke all over the field. "And with its effect," the farmer girl continued, "Ah choose t' summon Sylvan Sagequoia from mah Deck in Attack Mode!!" Once the smoke cleared away, a large tree could then be seen in front of the orange-skinned teenager. It had healthy, green leaves growing on its branches and a large face on its trunk. On that face were a pair of small glasses and a beard made out of vines (Sylvan Sagequoia: Level 7 / ATK 2600 / DEF 2100).

"Um... are you REALLY sure you wanna do that, AJ?" asked Pinkie Pie. "After all, he's not strong enough to defeat my Tiaramisu..."

"But I ain't quite through just yet, Pinkie." Applejack told her. Taking her last card out of her hand, she then declared, "Ah also activate mah Sylvan Charity again! So now Ah get to draw three more cards!" Looking at her Deck, she then thought to herself, (If Ah'm gonna beat Pinkie, Ah'm gonna need t' draw that card next... C'mon Deck, don't fail me now...)

Everyone watched as Applejack drew her next three cards, wondering what she would do next. "What do suppose she is hoping to draw?" Rarity asked.

"Maybe something that will support her Sagequoia...?" asked Fluttershy. The others could only wonder what the orange teen's plan was.

Applejack then took a peek at her new cards... and smiled. "Yes!! Ah drew it!!" Taking two of the cards that she drew, she then told Pinkie Pie, "Ah'll now place these two cards back on top of mah Deck!" After she did that, she then stated, "Next, Ah activate the effect of Sagequoia, which allows me to harvest the top card of mah Deck! And as y'all know, Ah can send it to the Graveyard if it ends up being a Plant monster!"

"And since Applejack just placed two cards back on top of her Deck," began Twilight, "that means that she must have put something there that will activate another effect once it gets discarded!" Once again, Sunset was happy to see that her friend was able to figure that out.

Applejack then sent the card that she pulled from the top of her Deck straight to the Graveyard, knowing full well that it was a Plant-Type monster. After she did that, she then said, "The monster I just placed in mah Graveyard was mah Sylvan Princessprout! And when it gets placed there after bein' harvested, Ah can Special Summon it and alter its Level from anywhere between one and eight!"

"Uh oh! That doesn't sound good!" Pinkie replied, sweating a little.

"As y'all can probably guess, Ah choose to bring Princessprout back to the field as a Level 7 monster!" the country teen informed her friend/opponent. After doing so, a small girl decked out in colorful, leafy robes appeared on the field and sat down on her knees (Sylvan Princessprout: Level 1 > Level 7 / ATK 100 / DEF 100). "And now Ah overlay her and mah Level 7 Sagequoia to create an Overlay Network!!"

The rest of the girls gasped as they saw both of Applejack's monsters transform into a pair of lights - one yellow and one green - and entered a large summoning portal. "So this was her plan!" Rarity exclaimed. "She was planning another Xyz Summoning!"

"Winged deity of Mount Sylvania!" Applejack chanted. "Spread your wings and unleash the fury of nature upon my foe! Xyz Summon!!" The portal then exploded, unleashing a column of red light that erupted from out of it. "Soar to the heavens! Rank 7!! Orea, the Sylvan High Arbiter!!" the country girl shouted, finishing her chant and playing her Xyz Monster.

The others could only watch with astonished looks as a pair of golden-yellow wings emerged from either side of the red light. After that, a white-colored head that resembled that of a bird poked out next. On top of its head were many red flowers that were meant to resemble feathers. Its large, white body was decorated with a necklace of red flowers and a silver medal around its neck, and several long, red, rope-like objects draped behind its back.

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Orea, the Sylvan High Arbiter:
(Xyz-Effect Monster/Plant-Type/DARK/Rank 7/ATK 2800/DEF 2500)

2 Level 7 monsters
Once per turn: You can send 1 Plant-Type monster from your hand or face-up from your side of the field to the Graveyard; look at a number of cards from the top of your Deck equal to the Level that the sent monster had in the hand or on the field, then place them on top of the Deck in any order. Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; choose a number from 1 to 3, then excavate that many cards from the top of your Deck, send any excavated Plant-Type monsters to the Graveyard, and if you do, return up to that many cards on the field to the hand (min. 1), except this card. Also, place the other cards on the bottom of your Deck in any order.

*******************************

"There it is..." Sunset told everyone. "That's Orea; the strongest member of the Sylvans..."

"I didn't even get to see this card when I dueled Applejack..." Fluttershy noted, staring at the magnificent creature before them. "It's so beautiful..."

"Yeah, and I'll bet it's got some super-tough powers, to boot..." Rainbow Dash chimed in.

"Wow..." was all that Twilight could say as she was nearly mesmerized by the impressive bird monster that Applejack had summoned.

Pinkie was also quite taken in by the impressive creature. "Wowee..." she said in a slightly quieter tone. "I guess you're done messing around if you decided to bring THAT guy out, huh?"

"Ya got that right Pinkie..." the farm girl told her. "Just like you, Ah plan on winnin' this Duel, and Orea's gonna help me do just that! And I'll start by activatin' its ability!" She then took one of the cards underneath her Xyz Monster and sent it to her Graveyard in order to use her monster's power (Orea, the Sylvan High Arbiter: OLU 2 - 1 = 1). "After gettin' rid of one of its Overlay Units," Applejack continued, "Ah can choose t' harvest up to three cards from the top of mah Deck!"

"And then what...?" asked the pink teenager.

"Well, for every Plant-Type monster that Ah harvest and then send to the Graveyard," the country girl explained to her, "Ah can then send up to equal number of cards - other than Orea itself - on the field back to a player's hand!" Pinkie Pie gasped in shock after hearing that.

"So that's her plan..." stated Rarity. "She's going to try and send all of Pinkie Pie's monsters back into her hand so that she can attack with her Xyz Monster directly!"

"Uh huh, that's right." confirmed Sunset.

"That means if Applejack can harv-... excuse me - excavate at least two Plant monsters from her Deck, she'll win the game!" Twilight figured out. It was clear that the young Princess had grasped a good amount of knowledge on Duel Monsters so far.

Applejack smirked as she said, "Alrighty then... Ah'll go right ahead n' havrest THREE cards from mah Deck!" She seemed pretty confident as she pulled her top three cards. But her smile faded once she saw them all. "Aw CRUD!! Ah only managed t' pull ONE Plant monster!!"

Pinkie Pie let out a sigh of relief, happy that she wasn't going to lose the Duel now.

Grumbling a little, Applejack took the one Plant that she did manage to excavate and said, "Well, since Ah WAS able get one Plant monster, that means Ah can send it to mah Graveyard..." She then pointed forward towards Pinkie's Xyz Monster and added, "And that means Ah can send one card you've got off of the field, like your Tiaramisu!"

The regal queen monster let out a cry as she was whisked off of the field and returned to Pinkie Pie's Extra Deck. In addition, its remaining Overlay Unit was sent to the Graveyard as well.

"As for the other two cards Ah harvested," the country girl continued, "Ah must place them both on the bottom of mah Deck in whatever order Ah want." After she did so, she then added, "Next, since mah Sylvan Lotuswain was harvested n' sent to the Graveyard, its effect lets me return up t' five Sylvan cards in mah Graveyard back to the bottom of mah Deck!" She then selected the cards that she wanted (two Sylvan Hermitrees, two Sylvan Sagequoias, and her Sylvan Flowerknight) and placed them back in her Deck. Once she finished with that, Applejack then shouted, "Alright, Orea! Go n' attack her little mutt!! Rainbow Feather Storm!!"

The large bird let out a piercing cry as it whipped up a fierce gust of wind. As it did, it shed several of its colorful feathers, sending them into the gust and firing them like bullets. The feathers struck Pinkie's Madolche Cruffsant, destroying it and inflicting some damage to his controller (Pinkie Pie: LP 2,700 - 500 = 2,200).

"I use the effect of my Field Spell, Madolche Chateau!" the pink teen announced. "Which means that Madolche Cruffsant returns to my hand instead of getting sent back into my Deck!" After taking her card back, she then added, "Next, since a Madolche card was sent back to my hand by a card effect, my Madolche Ticket lets me put Madolche Chouvalier into my hand from my Deck!"

"Not bad, Pinks... but you're still in a heap of trouble:" Applejack told her with a smile. "Mah Orea's the strongest monster in mah entire Deck! Ah'd certainly like t' see how you'd get outta of this one..."

"You would, AJ?" asked Pinkie Pie. "Well, okay then! I'll go and do just that, since you asked for it!"

"Uh... Ah was bein' sarcastic." the farm girl responded in a low tone.

But Pinkie wasn't listening as she drew her next card and looked at it. "Huh?" The silly girl looked at the card she drew carefully, thinking deeply about it for some reason. (Madolchepalooza?) she pondered. (Talk about déjà vu... It feels like I've seen this card already, but from where...?) Suddenly, her eyes widened as she let out a small giggle and lightly slapped the side of her head, as if she had come to a sudden realization. (DUH!! Of course! I remember now! I had one right at the beginning of the Duel! Silly little me!) Giggling some more, she then said to herself, "Well, better late than never I guess."

"What're y'all talkin' about, Pinkie...?" asked Applejack, slightly confused.

Not answering the question, Pinkie Pie tapped her Duel Pad's screen. After she did so, the face-down card that she had on the field revealed itself. "I activate Madolchepalooza!!"

"A Trap Card?!" exclaimed the farm girl.

"Oh dear...! I forgot that she had set a card during her first turn!" Rarity gasped.

Fluttershy gasped as well, remembering something about it. "That card... She used that to beat me when I dueled her...!" the shy girl informed her friends.

"You serious?" asked Rainbow Dash. "What does it do?"

"Well... if I remember correctly..." Fluttershy recalled, "it allows Pinkie Pie to Special Summon any Madolche monsters that she has in her hand for the rest of this turn."

"No way! She can bring out any monster she wants?!" asked Twilight.

"MonsTERS." the pale yellow teen repeated. "She can Summon more than one if she wants to..."

"That doesn't sound good for Applejack..." stated Sunset. "With that kind of power, Pinkie could try almost anything..."

Taking out two cards from her hand, Pinkie then told her friend/opponent, "I'll use my Trap to bring out these two Madolches!! Come on out, Madolche Puddingcess and Madolche Chouvalier!!"

Pinkie's first summoned monster was a young, blonde-haired girl with greyish-colored eyes. She wore a diamond-studded tiara on her head, there was a large cherry entwined in her hair, and her clothes appeared to be a fusion of both a royal dress and a sweet cake with its frosting-like design (Madolche Puddingcess: Level 5 / ATK 1000 + 500 = 1500 / DEF 1000 + 500 = 1500).

The second monster was a blonde-haired boy wearing what appeared to be a French-inspired army uniform, colored black with a piano-key design along the bottom, and topped off with a black hat that was decorated with a large, red feather. In his hand, he brandished a sword that seemed to be made out of a candy cane. The boy rode on top of a light blue pony with a light green-colored mane and tail that was as cute as a button (Madolche Chouvalier: Level 4 / ATK 1700 + 500 = 2200 / DEF 1300 + 500 = 1800).

"What're ya plannin' on usin' those two for??" asked Applejack.

"Uh uh uh! Can't ruin the surprise, AJ!" Pinkie told her, wagging her index finger. Taking out another card from her hand, she then announced her next move, saying, "Now I play the Spell Card, Instant Fusion!!"

"Instant Fusion?!" exclaimed Sunset. "She actually has that ultra-rare Spell Card?! I had no idea!"

Pinkie Pie giggled as she told the country teen, "Now with this card, I can Special Summon any Level 5 or lower Fusion Monster straight outta my Extra Deck! And it only costs me 1,000 of my Life Points to do it!" (Pinkie Pie: LP 2,200 - 1,000 = 1,200) Taking out a card from her Extra Deck, she then declared, "Now I summon Flower Wolf from my Extra Deck!"

Pinkie Pie's third monster was a large, navy blue wolf that had several pink flower petals growing out of its body. It let out a snarl as it jumped into the battlefield (Flower Wolf: Level 5 / ATK 1800 / DEF 1400).

"Ohhhhhh... I get it now..." Fluttershy said to herself. "THAT's why she wanted to trade with me for that card... Now I understand..."

Applejack was slightly puzzled by Pinkie's move. "Ah don't get it: Flower Wolf ain't very strong at all, and it's got no special effects. Not only that, it can't even attack me because of your Spell Card's effect. So what was the point?"

"I could tell you," the pink girl said to her, "but maybe you should check your Duel Pad and see for yourself!"

"Huh?" The orange teenager did just that, tapping the images of all of her friend's cards and looking at all of their information. Eventually, she let out a gasp when she finally figured it out: "No way...!" she said loudl. "Two of her three monsters are both Level 5!!"

"So that's it!" Twilight exclaimed. "She wanted to bring out enough monsters to do that X-Y-Z thing again!"

"Correct." Sunset responded. She then informed her Princess friend, "And by the way, you're not actually supposed to say each letter individually; you pronounce it all as one word: Xyz."

"Oh... sorry." the purple teen replied, rubbing the back of her head and blushing.

"Don't worry about it, Twilight." the red and yellow girl said to her with a smile. "Lots of other people get that wrong too."

"Alrighty then! Time for an Xyz Summon!" Pinkie Pie cheered. "Madolche Puddingcess! Flower Wolf! It's Overlay Time!!" After shouting those words, both of her chosen monsters transformed into a pair of orange lights and flew into a newly-opened red portal. "She's cute, she's yummy, and she's ready to party!!" the pink teenager chanted. "Nobody can stay bored when this little princess is ready to have fun! Xyz Summon!! A royal treat! Rank 5!! Madolche Puddingcess Chocolat-a-la-Mode!!"

A tiny figure then jumped out of the large, red portal. As it turned out, Pinkie's Puddingcess had returned to the field, putting her hand on her hip area and striking a cutesy pose in front of Applejack. The girl's appearence was slightly different, however; her tiara was replced with a fancy, brown crown, and her mostly-white dress was now a deep chocolate brown. In addition, a pair of orange orbs swirled around her.

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Madolche Puddingcess Chocolat-a-la-Mode:
(Xyz-Effect Monster/Fairy-Type/EARTH/Rank 5/ATK 2500/DEF 2200)

2 Level 5 EARTH monsters
You can also Xyz Summon this card by using a Rank 4 or lower "Madolche" Xyz Monster you control as the Xyz Material. (Xyz Materials attached to that monster also become Xyz Materials on this card.) Once per turn: You can target 1 "Madolche" card in your Graveyard; shuffle it into the Deck. While this card has "Madolche Puddingcess" as Xyz Material, when a "Madolche" card(s) in your Graveyard is shuffled into the Main Deck (except during the Damage Step): You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; Special Summon 1 "Madolche" monster from your Deck in Attack Position or face-down Defense Position.

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"What the hay is that?!" asked Applejack. "There's ANOTHER Madolche Xyz Monster?!"

"Yeppity-yep-yep!!" cheered Pinkie Pie. "Chocolat-a-la-Mode is my newest and strongest card! And thanks to my Field Spell, she's even stronger!" (Madolche Puddingcess Chocolat-a-la-Mode: ATK 2500 + 500 = 3000 / DEF 2200 + 500 = 2700).

"Th-three thousand a-a-attack points...?!" the farm girl stuttered. "That's strong enough to take down MY monster!"

"Sorry, AJ... but I gotta play to win!" Pinkie then ordered, "Chocolat-a-la-Mode!! Attack her Orea with Choco-Boot Kick!!" The tiny little princess then jumped foward towards AJ's Xyz Monster. Though Chocolat-a-la-Mode was practically one-fiftieth the size of the Applejack's giant bird, she showed no fear as she delivered a power kick right in Orea's face, destroying the creature in the process (Applejack: LP 1,000 - 200 = 800).

"Now, Madolche Chouvalier!! Attack her directly!!" Pinkie then announced, sending her second monster into battle. The young soldier then slashed his candy cane sword at the farm girl, taking out the rest of her Life Points.

"Urrrgh... dang it..." sighed Applejack as she fell down to one knee. "Ah lost..." (Applejack: LP 800 - 2200 = 0) (WINNER: Pinkie Pie)

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Pinkie Pie walked over to Applejack after winning against her and asked, "Um... are you gonna be okay?"

The country girl sighed a bit and did her best to smile, despite having lost the Duel. "Ah'll get over it, don't y'all worry about me." Putting her hand out, she then said to her friend, "Great Duel, Pinkie; Ah have t' say, you certainly earned that victory."

Pinkie Pie giggled as she shook the orange teen's hand. "Thanks, AJ!" she told her. "You did really super-good, too! I actually thought I was gonna lose at one point!"

"Yeah, Ah thought fer sure that I had ya there with Orea's effect." Applejack told her. "But Ah guess that ya can't always plan for everything, can ya?" The two of them laughed a little, happy that they could have such a wonderful Duel with each other.

"That's so nice..." Twilight commented as she and the others watched the scene in front of them. "Even though Applejack lost the game, she still seems like she enjoyed herself... And Pinkie is even complimenting her for how well she played, too."

"That's what I always wish to see after a Duel." Rarity told her purple-skinned friend. "With both players being friends with each other, despite who won and who lost."

"Same here." Sunset added, smiling and nodding. "I believe that the most important thing that a Duelist should remember is to always enjoy themselves when they play, no matter who comes out on top. After all, if somepon- er, somebody can't even enjoy winning against someone else, then that's just sad..."

"Can't argue with that." Rainbow Dash chimed in. "I feel the same way out on the soccer field. Of course, I try to win, don't get me wrong, but I always have fun first."

Sunset then turned over towards Twilight and asked her, "So, now that you've seen how a real Duel goes, what do you think? Give me your honest opinion."

"Well, I have to say, after seeing something like that for the first time," the young Princess started, "I have to admit; I'm a little nervous about it... There are so many possibilities and variables to consider with every move you make, and just one little mistake could cost you everything..." The purple teen then smiled and added, "But... even knowing all of that, I'm also excited to try playing it! This Duel Monsters game really does look like something that I could get into! I can't wait to play a game for myself!"

"Well, I'm glad to hear that you're that interested, Twilight." the red and yellow girl replied, smiling. She then got up out of her seat and told her inter-dimensional friend, "And I think I might be able to help you get into the action right away."

"Y-you do...?" asked Twilight, not expecting that response.

"I do." Sunset then walked over to Rainbow Dash and said to her, "Rainbow, I'm sure you've been wondering what it is that I'd like you to do in order to help out Twilight, huh?"

"Yeah, so far I'm the only one who hasn't gotten a chance to help out yet..." the cyan teen reminded her. "Why is that?"

"Because you have the most important job of all." the red and yellow girl answered. "I'd like you... to be Twilight's first opponent!"

"WHAT?! Me versus TWILIGHT??" asked Dash in surprise.

"Hold on...! I-I-I have to fight RAINBOW DASH?!" Twilight inquired, getting nervous again.

"Exactly." Sunset Shimmer told them. "I really think that it would best if you two paired up and dueled each other. The experience would do nothing but benefit you both."

"But... are you sure that I can do well against her...?" asked the young Princess.

"...Who wins and who loses the Duel isn't what's important here." Sunset told her. "What does matter is how much you can learn from it."

"I... I'm not sure..."

Sensing that her friend was a bit nervous, the red and yellow girl then came up with an idea, "How about this: Try not to think of this as a Duel... Try to think of it as a... as a... a pop quiz! Like the ones Princess Celestia probably gave you in the past."

"A... a pop quiz??" asked Twilight, snapping out of her timidity. Gasping out of happiness, she then said, "Of course!! A pop quiz!! That's all that this is!!" Shaking Sunset's hand, she told her, "Thanks for saying that! I think I can relax now!"

"Uh, glad to help out, Twilight." the red and yellow girl responded with a chuckle.

"Pfft, figures..." Rainbow began to say. "Only eggheads like Twilight and Sunset would be excited over a pop quiz..." Shrugging, she then added, "Ah well, at least this means that Twilight won't be shaking in her shoes the whole time." Getting her blue and red Duel Pad out, as well as her deck box, she then said to her purple friend, "Alright then, you ready to get this game going, Twilight?"

"I guess we'll see soon enough..." the young Princess told her athletic friend. Although Twilight was still a little nervous about taking on an experienced player like Rainbow Dash, she was determined to do her best anyway. She knew that her first Duel would be her most important one, and she was ready to learn as much as she could from it.

-- To Be Continued...

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