• Published 30th Apr 2016
  • 9,323 Views, 977 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 14: Eve of the Engine of Destruction:

Author's Note:

This chapter introduces a new character, as well as a monster that many of you might already be familiar with. Just what do I have planned involving this newcomer? You'll just have to find out.

And if you do manage to figure it out, don't post spoilers in the comment section; send me a note instead. :raritywink:

RANK 14: Eve of the Engine of Destruction:
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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...

Although the battles against the Number cards and the Duelists that hold them are growing more difficult, Sunset and her friends still continue to fight the good fight. Now supported by their friend Twilight Sparkle, a Princess from another dimension, they have been able to deal with several of the Numbers' owners, which recently included a young boy named Shining Spoon, whose obsession with being a perfect chef created his Number card, Number 59: Crooked Cook.

Now, twelve of the Number cards have been collected between Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer. However, Sunset knows that there are others out there seeking the dangerous cards as well, such as the Number Hunter, also known simply as, "The Doctor". Luckily, he is collecting the Numbers for the purpose of saving others, just as Sunset and her friends are doing.

But now, a new player in the war of the Number cards is about to emerge, and what their intentions are for collecting them is not yet known...

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It was a slightly cloudy day on another Friday morning in Canterlot High School. It was pretty cool outside, so many students were wearing coats to shield themselves from the chilly air. Walking down the sidewalk together were Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer, chatting with each other as they made their way to school.

Stretching her arms, Sunset let out a content sigh, saying, "T.C.I.F., am I right, Twilight?"

"You bet, Sunset." the purple teen responded. "As fun as studying in school is, there's just something about the upcoming weekend that just... well, makes you feel good inside." Taking out her Deck and looking at it, she continued, saying, "Of course, part of that reason might be because of that Duel I won earlier in the week. And because I did, we're one more Number card closer to stopping this problem with them all."

"I have to say, I'm impressed with how skillfully you played that Duel." the red and yellow girl informed her. "If there's one thing you're really good at, it's that you can pick up on things fast, such as how easily you were able to adjust to becoming a human. It took me a bit longer than two days to get accustomed to it."

"Well, don't sell yourself short, Sunset. You're one of the brightest individuals that I know, and I'm glad that I'm your friend." Twilight told her.

"Thanks, Twilight." Sunset responded with a slight blush.

Twilight then looked ahead and changed the subject, saying, "Not that I don't enjoy walking, but I wonder why Pinkie Pie didn't show up to take us to the school?"

"She told me that she had something important that she had to do right away, and that she didn't have the time to come and get us." Sunset answered. She then looked ahead and saw Pinkie Pie, sitting beside CHS's horse statue, writing something down on a piece of index paper. "There she is, over there." the red and yellow girl added, pointing to her. Twilight looked over in the same direction before they both ran over to say hello.

The pink teenager glanced up when she sensed that someone was nearby. "Oh! Good morning, Twilight! Good morning, Sunnie!" she greeted them with a big smile on her face. "Sorry that I couldn't come over to pick you guys up, but I had something REALLY super-important to do today!"

"We understand, Pinkie." Twilight told her. "Besides, it's good to go out and stretch your legs out, even if you only have two of them." She then asked, "So what was it that you had to do? I'm a little bit curious, actually."

"Just writing a little letter to my pen pal, that's all." Pinkie answered.

"I didn't know you had a pen pal." Sunset told her. "Who is it?"

"The only person that truly understands me, inside and out." the pink teen replied. She then paused for a moment to write down the last little bits of her letter before putting it in an envelope. Once the letter was sealed away, Pinkie Pie then took the envelope... and pushed it against one of the mirrors on the horse statue, causing the letter to phase through it and enter the portal that Twilight used to come to their world.

This sudden action caught both Twilight and Sunset off-guard, as they weren't expecting it. "Did... you just send that letter into the magic portal?!?" Sunset Shimmer asked, not believing what she had just seen.

"Yeppity-yep-yep-yep!" the silly girl responded as if it was nothing.

Twilight then pondered this action in her mind, along with what Pinkie Pie had told them earlier, coming to a sudden conclusion. "Wait a second..." she began. "Then... are you saying... that your pen pal is-?"

But the pink teen interrupted her, saying, "Ooop! Hold on! I'm getting a response right now!" The three girls looked at the portal and saw a pink envelope coming out of it and falling to the ground. Pinkie then quickly took it, opened the envelope and read the letter aloud: "Dear, Pinkie Pie (the human one)... Thanks for the letter you sent! I'll definitely have to try that new cake recipe that you just sent to me! I'm sure Mr. and Mrs. Cake will love it! Hope to hear from you again! Signed... Pinkie Pie (the pony one)."

Twilight and Sunset just stared at Pinkie Pie, then at each other, not making any sound at all. Finally, the red and yellow girl spoke up and asked, "So... are you saying that you're pen pals with the other you from my home world? How long's this been going on?"

"Since after the Battle of the Bands." Pinkie Pie replied. "I... kinda snuck a letter to me - um, her - in Twilight's backpack before she left, to tell the other me that we should write to each other."

"So that's it... I was wondering where that envelope came from..." the young Princess pondered. "But how'd Pinkie learn how to use the portal...? And how's she been using it without me knowing about it...? Hmmmm..." Instead of answers, all that Twilight and Sunset could come up with were more questions concerning this strange event.

But their thoughts were interrupted when a familiar voice greeted them, saying, "Howdy, girls! Glad t' see ya!" The three of them turned around to see their friend Applejack, who had just parked her pickup truck into the student parking lot. Noticing the weirded-out looks that Twilight and Sunset had, the country girl asked them, "Um, are y'all okay? What's up?"

"Um, nothing really, AJ." Sunset replied. "We just found out who Pinkie Pie's pen pal was."

"Ya did? Who is it?"

"Um... we'll tell you about it later." Twilight responded, rubbing the back of her head.

Applejack wasn't sure what the deal was, but decided to worry about it later. "Well, anyhoo, did y'all hear the rumors about what's happenin' today?" she asked her friends.

"What rumors?" asked Twilight.

"Well, word 'round the school is that we're gettin' a new teacher today." the orange teenager replied.

"A new teacher?" asked Sunset. "Now that sounds interesting. Who are they?"

"Alls Ah know is that the teacher's a woman." Applejack told her. "Other than that, nobody here knows anythin' else about her."

"I just hope she'll be just as super-fun and cheery as Mr. Cranky-Doodle!" Pinkie Pie replied.

"Um... super-fun?" asked Applejack, confused. "Are ya sure we're talkin' 'bout the same Mr. Cranky?"

Twilight smiled a little and said to her friend, "Wow... a new teacher. You guys sure are lucky! I wonder what she's like..." Gasping in pleasure, she then asked, "Oh my! I wonder what she'll teach?! What will her lessons be like?! What kinds of homework would she give out?!? Oh my, I can't wait to see her!!"

"Calm down, Twilight. I'm pretty sure we'll all get to see this teacher soon, whoever they are." Sunset informed her otherworldly friend. "Believe me, I'm just as anxious to see what she's like, and I'm certain that we'll know who she is at some point today."

"Yeah, I guess so." the young Princess responded, taking a deep breath to calm herself.

"Speakin' of teachers, we'd better go and meet up with ours before the bell rings." Applejack suggested.

"Yeah! Let's get going, girls!!" cheered Pinkie Pie as they all walked into the school together.

As the four of them entered the school with their classmates, a lone figure standing beside a nearby tree watched them from out of their eyesight. After the girls went inside the building, the figure walked off on its own, heading for a destination that only it knew of.

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A while later, after 1st Period, the voice of Vice Principal Luna was heard through the school's PA system. "Attention all students! Attention all students!" she announced. "Please make your way to the Assembly Hall immediately! I repeat: Please make your way to the Assembly Hall immediately!"

In but a few minutes, the school's Assembly Hall was fully occupied by every student in CHS. Naturally, Sunset and Twilight sat together with their friends. Two rows behind them, Flash Sentry sat down to converse with the male classmates that he was friends with. In that same row, Derpy Hooves sat next to one of her friends, Golden Harvest (a.k.a. Carrot Top by her close friends, including Derpy). As the two of them chatted with each other, the grey-skinned girl looked at the rows ahead of her, specifically the row where Sunset was sitting. Ever since the red and yellow girl had her Duel with The Doctor, of whom Derpy was an assistant to, the grey teen was instructed by him to observe Sunset and learn more about her. She wasn't yet ready to meet with her directly, but knew that she would have to talk with her one-on-one sooner or later.

On the stage, Principal Celestia rose up from a seat that she was sitting on and moved over to a podium in the center, preparing to speak to the entire student body, along with the teachers and staff that were all in attendance as well. "Attention, everyone! Attention!" she said, urging them to quiet down so that she could make her announcement. Once the students were silent, Celestia spoke to them, saying, "Thank you. I have called you all here today to make a wonderful announcement: As I'm sure you've heard, we are receiving a new member to the CHS family today, and I feel that it would be proper to give her the praise and attention that I feel she deserves. So please give a warm, Canterlot High welcome to our new history teacher, Mrs. K.!!"

The students applauded as a young adult woman walked towards the podium. She had very light-peach skin, silvery-blue hair that came down as far as her waist, and aqua blue-colored eyes. In her hair, she wore a barrette with eight yellow-colored jewels on it. She wore a tan-colored blazer and skirt, the latter of which had a square-patterned design along the hem, along with a silver pendant with small dragon wings around her neck. On her feet, she wore a pair of blue, high-heeled shoes with buckles on the ankle areas. The woman had a mysterious, but pleasant aura around her.

Celestia stepped to the side to allow Mrs. K to approach the podium and speak. "Thank you, Principal Celestia." she told her in a calm voice that was pleasing to the ears. Mrs. K then turned towards the students and said to them, "And thank you all for your generous applause. I must say, I am happy to see that the students of Canterlot High are as nice as I have heard. Although Canterlot High will be my first school in my new career as a teacher, I am sure that many of you might already know that I am a skilled historian and archaeologist. I have uncovered many amazing finds during my lifetime, and have chosen to come to your school in the hopes that I can present to you the fruits of my efforts."

"She's a historian...?" asked Twilight quietly. "That's really interesting..."

"Indeed..." Rarity whispered. "Mrs. K is quite the accomplished woman; though she has not been in her profession for very long, she has uncovered all sorts of amazing information, much of which has completely changed what we know about history as a whole...!"

"They say her knowledge of history is quite impressive... almost as if she was there to witness it all herself..." Fluttershy chimed in.

Mrs. K then continued her speech, telling the students, "As for why I have chosen CHS as my first school for my teaching career, it is actually quite simple: I am also aware that this school has a great interest in the game of Duel Monsters; after all, your Principal and Vice Principal were very accomplished Pro Duelists." Celestia and Luna blushed a little after hearing that comment about them. "Much of the discoveries that I have made in my work as an archaeologist have links to the modern-day card game that you play today. Of course it is common knowledge that Duel Monsters's origins lie in the ancient Shadow Games of Egypt, but since that discovery, many more details and findings have been unearthed to tell us more about what took place concerning these games, as well as the supposed crises that emerged from them. More information is needed to prove or disprove these theories, but we hope to find out more someday.

"But for now, let us move onto the matter at hand." the new teacher continued to say. "I will begin my lectures starting next semester, and anyone who is interested in attending my class is more than welcome to sign up. And I can promise that you will be very interested in what I have to teach, and I am very anxious to meet all of you individually." After she finished her speech, the students applauded as Mrs. K returned to her seat, sitting beside Vice Principal Luna.

Principal Celestia then returned to the podium and said to the new teacher, "Thank you, Mrs. K. I'm sure many of our students here will be very interested in the knowledge that you have to offer them." She then turned towards the students and announced to them, "On that note, for those of you who wish to attend Mrs. K's class next semester, please come and see either me or Luna at the soonest possible time so that you may sign up. This will be on a first-come, first-serve basis, so if you wish to attend, do not hesitate to come and see either of us, or you may miss your chance." Once she made that announcement, Celestia then finished things up, saying, "That is all for today; please make you way to your 2nd Period destinations for the day, and do not forget to come and see us if you wish to be in Mrs. K's class." The students understood what she had told to them, and after everything was said done, they all filed out of the Assembly Hall to go to their next class.

Over an hour or so later, by the time that Canterlot High's students had gone to either their 3rd Period classes or to the cafeteria for lunch, Mrs. K was in Principal Celestia's office, speaking to both her and Vice Principal Luna. In the few short minutes between 2nd and 3rd Period, there had already been a lot of students that had come by to sign up for the new teacher's class. "Well, I must say, you certainly won't have to worry about being short on students for your class next semester." Luna told Mrs. K. "We have met with many students so far that were interested, and I am certain that many more may show up... even though we have already reached the maximum quota allowed for your class."

"Indeed..." Celestia said with a heavy sigh. "I'm certainly not looking forward to having to tell anyone else that we won't be able to place them in your class; I'm certain that they'll be quite disappointed..." The principal then managed to form a smile and added, "On the brighter side, I have never seen such enthusiasm from our students for attending a new class."

"I agree, Principal Celestia." Mrs. K responded with a smile of her own. "It is obvious that many of your students are quite passionate about learning something new."

"That or it might be because you mentioned about how your lessons will supposedly relate to Duel Monsters." Luna pointed out. "That's probably the main reason that you have received so many requests in such a short time."

"Possibly." the blue-haired woman replied. She then asked Celestia, "Speaking of which, have either Luna or yourself arranged a list of who will be attending my class yet?"

"We have, as a matter of fact." the principal answered, pulling out a paper that she had printed out earlier, before speaking with the new teacher. "Here, you may take a look at it, if you wish to."

"Thank you." Mrs. K politely responded before taking the paper. She then looked over the list, which had the names of twenty-eight students that had signed up for the new history class. After looking through the list, one name caught her eye. "Hmmmm... interesting..." Mrs. K hummed. "This student here; Number 6... She wouldn't happen to be THE Sunset Shimmer? The one that I've heard is your school's strongest Duelist?"

"That's correct." Celestia confirmed. "She has certainly gained a reputation here at CHS; one that I'm sure she's actually proud to have. And it is not just here that she does well; Sunset has competed in many major tournaments here in the city, including the one that she had won last summer."

"Yes, I know. That is how I have heard of her." Mrs. K informed them. She then asked, "I... don't suppose you have a photo of her that you can show me, by any chance? I only ask because, while I have heard of Ms. Shimmer, I actually do not know what she looks like."

"Hmmmm..." Luna pondered to herself, thinking about the blue-haired woman's request. "A rather unusual request, but I do not see why not. After all, she will be in your class next semester, so it would do you good to know what she looks like... What do you say, Sister?"

"Well, I suppose it is okay." Celestia answered her younger sibling. The white-skinned woman then walked over to a secured file cabinet that was nearby her desk. Celestia then used a small key to unlock the cabinet and opened one of the drawers. Inside were files containing the permanent records of each student in Canterlot High School. "Let's see... Rover... Scootaloo... Scratch... Ah, here are are! Shimmer!" said the principal after searching through the files and locating Sunset's permanent record. Opening the folder, she then pulled out a large-sized photo of Sunset; it was one that the red and yellow girl had taken recently, evidenced by the fact that her smile was much more pleasant-looking compared to her previous picture, not to mention that this photo showed her wearing her key necklace.

"So this is Sunset Shimmer..." Mrs. K commented, looking over the photo. The woman then noticed something that made her gasp and nearly do a double-take. (What's this??) she thought to herself. (That necklace...! How did SHE come across the Emporer's Key??)

Noticing the slightly-startled look that Mrs. K appeared to have, Celestia asked her, "Is something wrong? You seemed surprised at something when you looked at that picture..."

"Hm? Oh! I-it's nothing." the blue-haired woman replied. "It's just... my friend's daughter, Bumblesweet; she has similar hair to this girl, that's all. Apparently, they seem to go to the same hairstylist. That's all. Nothing that important." Mrs. K then handed the picture back to Celestia.

"Okay then." Luna said to the new teacher as Celestia put Sunset's file away and locked the cabinet up tight. "My sister and I have some more work to do, concerning where your classroom shall be. We'll let you know as soon as we work things out."

"Very well then." Mrs. K replied. "Have a good day, and give my thanks to the school board for allowing me to have a class here."

"We'll let them know." Celestia informed her. "You have a good day as well." The new teacher nodded and got up to leave the office.

Hours later, the final bell had rung, signalling to the students that school was done for the day. Mrs. K was walking over towards her car, reading a book that she had with her when she heard a voice from nearby. "So, did you sign up for Mrs. K's class, Sunset? Because I did!" asked the voice, which belonged to Twilight Sparkle.

"Hm?" The young woman stopped walking upon hearing Sunset Shimmer's name. She glanced behind her and saw that Twilight, Sunset, and the rest of their friends were chatting with each other as they left the school building. Mrs. K stayed by her car and listened to what they were saying.

"I sure did, Twilight." Sunset Shimmer said to Twilight, answering her question. "I think it'll be interesting to see what she has to teach us." The red and yellow girl then asked the others, "What about you, girls? Did any of you sign up, too?"

"You bet I did!" Pinkie Pie answered with her usual enthusiasm. "I just know it'll be great!"

"Dash n' I signed up fer the class, too." Applejack told Sunset.

"We were actually the first ones to get to Luna's office." Rainbow Dash commented. "So I know for a fact that we'll get in, no prob!"

"Fluttershy and I decided to take the class, too." Rarity chimed in. Fluttershy simply nodded to say that what her violet-haired friend had said was true.

"This is great!" Twilight spoke up. "If all goes well, we'll be in a class together! I couldn't ask for anything better than that!"

"Me neither." Sunset added. "I can't wait for the next semester to start so that we can all see what the class is like together."

As the seven teenagers talked with one another, Mrs. K continued to watch and listen. As she did, the woman couldn't help but notice something about them that she couldn't really explain, as if there was something to them that set them apart from normal humans. That feeling was reinforced by the key necklace that Sunset Shimmer wore.

"So, whad'ya guys wanna do tomorrow?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Weeeeeeeeeell..." Pinkie Pie began, "I did hear that there's a new card store in town! Maybe we could all go check it out!"

"You mean that one down on Maiden Street?" asked Sunset. "I've been wanting to take a look inside, but I never found the time."

"Ah dunno..." Applejack began to tell the others, "Ah've heard some things 'bout that place, and they ain't good things. There's some rumors floatin' around that there's some crooked things goin' on in there."

"What kinds of crooked things?" asked Twilight.

"Nothin' that's been proven, mind you, but I heard rumors that people came outta that shop only t' discover that they ended up purchasin' counterfeit cards." the orange-skinned teen replied. "But again, that's just what Ah've heard."

"Oh my... that doesn't sound good at all..." Rarity commented.

"Um... then... maybe we shouldn't go there then..." Fluttershy recommended.

"Well, let's not jump to conclusions just yet." Sunset responded. "Just because there's rumors about something, that doesn't mean that they're true. I say we go over to that shop anyway, and if it ends up that we don't like it, then we don't need go back there anymore. What do you think?"

"Makes sense t' me." Dash responded, agreeing with Sunset, as did everyone else.

"Alright, then Twilight and I will see you all at the apartment building tomorrow." the red and yellow girl stated. "Let's say... um... no later than eleven?" The others nodded in agreement.

"Then I guess we'll see each other tomorrow then." Twilight said. "Have a good day, all of you."

"Same t' you two as well." Applejack replied with a smile. The seven of them parted ways, heading for home.

After the girls left the school, Mrs. K then thought to herself, (I have heard about those rumors as well... I wonder if they're true...?)

"I tell ya, I don't know what's wrong with it!" said the voice of a male teenager nearby. The new teacher glanced over and saw two boys walking out from the school's front entrance. The boy that had spoken earlier was Thunderlane, who was holding a Duel Monsters card in his hand. The boy that was with him was Flash Sentry. "I tested this card out on my Duel Pad, but it couldn't Summon the monster right!" he then added.

"It couldn't?" asked Flash.

"Nope. It couldn't." the jet-black teenager replied. "I know there's nothing wrong with my Duel Pad; I ran a test on it with some of my other cards, and they worked just fine! So why just this one??"

"Hmmmm..." hummed the yellow-skinned boy as he thought about the situation. He then asked his friend, "Where'd you get that card from?"

"This one?" asked Thunderlane. "I got it at that new card shop. Y'know; the one on Maiden Street?" When the boy said that, Mrs. K let out a slight gasp, as that was the same store that Sunset and the others were talking about earlier.

"...Could I see that card for a second?" Flash requested.

"Uh, yeah. Sure, Flash." the other boy replied, handing his buddy the card. "Here ya go."

Flash Sentry then took the card from Thunderlane and looked at it very closely. As he did, Mrs. K continued to watch the scene in secrecy. After about ten seconds or so, Flash returned the card and said, with a slightly solemn-looking facial expression, "I'm... sorry to tell you this, Thunder, but... I'm afraid this card's a fake."

"Huh?! Are you sure?!"

"I'm certain of it..." the yellow-skinned boy answered. "See, the color of the card frame is much paler than usual, the text doesn't seem to be written in the same font, and the hologram on the bottom-right corner doesn't look right... In fact..." Flash paused for a moment and used his pointer finger to scratch the hologram on the card, and was able to easily peel it off. "...just as I thought. The hologram shouldn't come off like that."

"I don't believe it! How could I not have seen that?!" asked a distressed Thunderlane. "Rrrgh!! Wait 'til I get my hands on that Smooth Talker guy! It's guys like him that give honest collectibles stores a bad name!"

"Now don't rile yourself up, Thunder. It won't do you any good to get this angry about it." Flash told him. "There's always the chance that he may not have known it was fake either. I'm sure if we went there and told the guy about it, he'd understand and give you a refund."

"...Yeah, I guess you're right." Thunderlane replied, calming down. The two of them continued down the sidewalk together, still talking about what had happened.

Mrs. K, however, was a bit suspicious after having heard the whole thing. (Perhaps there may be some merit to those rumors after all...) she thought to herself. (But what can I do about it?)

At that moment, a sudden force compelled the woman to reach into her purse and pull out a small white box. "Hm? What is it?" she asked, seemingly talking to the box. "...Mhmm... I see... I see... Very well then. I shall look into this matter tonight." She then put the box back into her purse, entered her car and drove away from the high school.

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Later that night, in the middle of town, the owner of a small shop had just finished serving its last customer for the day. This was the shop that Sunset and her friends had talked about visiting the next day, the card store that was on Maiden Street. A young girl and her mother had exited the store after making a purchase for some Duel Monsters cards. "Thank you very much, Mister!" the little girl said, waving good-bye to the shop owner, who was an adult man with light grey skin, dark-green hair that was slightly spiked, and wearing a pair of tan overalls.

"You're very welcome... Please come again." he said to her in a slightly strained voice. But as soon as the mother and daughter had left, the man put on a sinister-looking smirk and said to himself, "Heh heh heh... another day, another sucker..." Walking over to the nearby cash register, he opened it and stared at all of the money that he had made during the day today. As his eyes sparkled with greed, he continued to say, "Those newbie collectors'll pay any amount of money for one of these cards when they think it's rare and valuable, just as I expected."

Keeping that mean-looking grin on his face, the man then continued to gloat to himself, saying, "Little do those morons know... those cards that they've been buying here aren't genuine; they're merely bootleg cards that I've made myself!" Taking out a card from out of a pocket in his overalls, he told himself, "I knew sooner or later that I'd make some profit out of those printing machines that I've 'borrowed' from the police station evidence lockers... Thanks to my buddy on the inside, I've been able to make use of those old bootleg card printers..." Looking at his card again, he then finished his monologue, saying, "But the real help came when I found this card, and got the whole brilliant idea in the first place! And thanks to this, I'll be even richer than Filthy Rich!!"

Just after he finished his bragging, the shop's front door opened up, indicated by the ringing of the bell placed above said door. "Hmmm??" the man grunted as he quickly pocketed away the card that he was holding before turning around to face the door. "Hey! We're closed already! Come back tomorrow!"

But the shop's visitor did not listen to the owner's words as they stepped into the shop and gently closed the door behind them. Once the figure stepped into the light, they were revealed to be none other than Mrs. K. Only this time, her pleasant smile was gone, replaced with a serious look that told everyone around her that she meant business.

"Hey!! Didn't you hear me?!" yelled the man. "I said we're closed!!"

"I heard you just fine." Mrs. K responded to him. "But I am afraid that the matters that I have to discuss with you cannot wait until tomorrow."

"Matters? Discuss? What're you talking about?!" asked the shop owner.

"I'm referring to matters that I'm sure you cannot afford to let leak out to the general public, Mr. Smooth Talker." she answered him.

"Huh?! How'd you know my name?!" asked the shop owner. "And just what do you mean by that?! Start making some sense!!"

"As you wish." Mrs. K then told him, "The matters that I mentioned earlier are two-fold: The first one has to do with your business here. You set up this little shop of yours only a few months ago, more specifically during the month of September... Yet, in that short amount of time, you have made an unusual amount of profit, and have moved an incredible amount of product from here, more than what would be expected from a small-time card and collectibles store..."

"So what's your point?" asked Smooth Talker, not sure where she was going with this.

"My point, is that I suspected your shop of conducting questionable business, a theory that a few others in town seem to share." the young woman explained to him. "I did some research of my own on your store, and have come across something peculiar: Your store has sold several Duel Monsters cards, and yet, there seems to be no record at all of Industrial Illusions commissioning any product deliveries here... It seemed suspicious to me, so I decided to check things out for myself. And it seems that my theory about you and your operation were correct."

"Um... uh..." Smooth Talker tried to come up with something to say, but he couldn't. He was beginning to get nervous.

"...Just as I was about to open the doors, I couldn't help but overhear something you said after you attended to your last customer..." Mrs. K continued to say to him. "Something about you obtaining 'bootleg card printers' and 'someone on the inside'...?"

(Urk! What?!) thought the crooked man. (How did she hear all of that?! These doors and windows are totally soundproof!! There's no way that she could have heard me!!)

A faint glow could be seen coming from out Mrs. K's purse as she continued to speak, telling him, "As for the second matter, it has to do with that card you have; the one you keep in the left pocket of your overalls."

"What the-?! How'd you know about-?!" Smooth Talker said angrily as he reached into the pocket in question, pulling out the Duel Monsters card that he was looking at before.

"How I know about that card, as well as your counterfeiting operation are the last things you need to concern yourself with." Mrs. K informed the shop owner. She then put on a fierce look and told him, "I challenge you to a Duel, and you will ante that card on the outcome. And if you refuse this Duel, I will make sure that the public knows what is REALLY going on here."

Smooth Talker was incredibly frustrated by what was currently happening; his entire scam was about to go under, and he didn't many options to get himself out of his situation. (I don't believe this...! How did she discover that I've been selling bootleg cards from my store?!) he thought to himself, sweating even more. Looking over at Mrs. K, he snarled and continued to say in his mind, (I can't let this woman leave here knowing my secret, or I'll be completely ruined!!) He then yelled at the woman, "Very well, then...! I agree to your terms! But if I defeat you, then I'll take more than just your cards! You won't leave my shop alive..."

"Hmph... your empty threats do not frighten me." Mrs. K told Smooth Talker calmly. "I can sense that it is you who is afraid... and it shall be your fear that will be your undoing. Now prepare to pay for those that you have cheated!" Mrs. K then pulled out a silver-colored Duel Pad from out of her purse with her Deck already loaded into it. The card tray then unfolded, revealing that it was shaped similarly to a large dragon wing. In addition, a red, wing-shaped mark appeared over her left eye, which now had a darker-colored blue than it did earlier. The crooked man on the other side prepared his Duel Pad and Duel Gazer, activating them both.

"LET'S DUEL!!" shouted both combatants as their game began (Mrs. K.: LP 4,000) (Smooth Talker: LP 4,000).

The two Duelists drew their opening hands, ready to begin their battle. As they did, the room began to darken slightly, but neither Smooth Talker, nor Mrs. K seemed to notice, or at least did not make any reaction to it. The young teacher then said to her opponent, "We shall flip a coin to determine who makes the first move." The shop owner then began to reach into his pocket, but the woman stopped him, saying, "Don't bother. I know that coin in your left pocket is double-sided. I was planning to use one of my own."

"Grrr, have it your way then..." Smooth Talker grumbled, wondering how she knew that.

Mrs. K took out a half-dollar coin from her skirt pocket and tossed it into the air. After catching it and placing it flat on her palm, she told her opponent, "I believe it is tails." She then moved her hand, and revealed to both herself and Smooth that she had guessed correctly. "I suppose that means I get the first move." Mrs. K stated.

"Fine, whatever. It won't help you anyway." the crook responded rudely.

The woman looked at her hand and played a card from it, saying, "I'll start with the Spell Card, Trade-In. By discarding one Level 8 monster from my hand, I can draw two new cards." She then took one of the other cards in her hand (which had a yellow-colored frame) and placed it into her Graveyard. Afterwards, the D-Pad allowed her to draw her extra cards. Taking one of the new cards that she had drawn, Mrs. K placed it onto the card tray and told her foe, "I'll set one monster in Defense Mode." She then took out a second card, Dragon's Rage, and placed it in her device, adding, "I'll also place this card face-down. That will end my turn."

"Very well, then it's my turn!" Smooth Talker declared, drawing his first card. Placing it in his hand, he then took out a different card and told his enemy, "I Summon Golem Dragon in Attack Mode!" The man's first monster was of a large dragon with a brown, stone-like body and red eyes (Golem Dragon: Level 4 / ATK 200 / DEF 2000). "But that's not all:" Smooth continued. "I'll also send my Level 8 Darkstorm Dragon to the Graveyard. This lets me Special Summon my Hardened Armed Dragon to the field in Attack Mode!!"

The shop owner's second monster was another dragon, this one having a very skeletal-like appearance. Its wings and body were very bony, it had visible muscles and bright green eyes. It let out a piercing screech as it took the field.

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

Hardened Armed Dragon:
(Effect Monster/Dragon-Type/EARTH/Level 4/ATK 1500/DEF 800)

You can Special Summon this card (from your hand) by sending 1 Level 8 or higher monster from your hand to the Graveyard. If you Tribute this card for the Tribute Summon of a Level 7 or higher monster, that monster cannot be destroyed by card effects.

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

As the two dragons stared Mrs. K down, Smooth Talker snickered and told her, "You made a foolish mistake challenging ME to a Duel... You don't have a chance at defeating my Deck full of rare and valuable cards!!"

"...Cards that I'm certain you cheated out of people." the woman said, showing absolutely no fear. "If this is your best attempt at intimidating me, then it is you who is the fool."

"We'll see about that!" shouted the man. "I overlay Level 4 Golem Dragon and Hardened Armed Dragon to create an Overlay Network!" In that instant, the two dragons transformed into a pair of orange lights that flew into a galaxy portal that emerged in front of him. "Now prepare yourself for certain defeat!! I Xyz Summon... Number 82: Heartlandraco!!"

With that declaration, the summoning portal exploded into a flash of light, leaving behind a light-blue 82 mark on the ground. Then, from above, a winged toy ball, half salmon-colored, half light-peach, appeared on the field, surrounded by two orange orbs that orbited around it. The ball then began to unfurl, revealing its true form as a large dragon with maroon-colored eyes, four yellow horns on its head, a wind-up key where its bellybutton would have been, and a large, pink heart to the side of the key. Printed upon the heart was the same 82 symbol that appeared earlier, when the monster was Summoned.

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

Number 82: Heartlandraco
(Xyz-Effect Monster/Dragon-Type/EARTH/Rank 4/ATK 2000/DEF 1500)

2 Level 4 monsters
Cannot be destroyed by battle except with "Number" monsters. While you control a face-up Spell Card(s), this card cannot be targeted for attacks. Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; this turn, this card can attack your opponent directly, but other monsters cannot attack.

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

Mrs. K stared at the crook's Number card with that same confident look on her face. "So, it is true..." she muttered. "You DO possess a Number."

"Heheheh, that's right, lady." Smooth confirmed. "I found this card a couple of months ago, and thanks to it, I got the idea for this whole scam! A scam that will continue going on forever, because I'll make sure you won't blab about it to anyone else!"

"Your false bravado is not going to scare me." the young woman informed him, still not showing any fear. "Instead, we shall allow the cards to tell us how this Duel will end."

"Yeah, whatever! Just keep flappin' your lips while I beat you into the dirt!" the shop owner yelled as he removed a card from underneath his Xyz Monster. "I activate Heartlandraco's effect! By removing one of its Overlay Units, I allow him to attack you directly!!" The beast then absorbed one of its orange orbs into the heart mark on its belly, powering itself up (Number 82: Heartlandraco: OLU 2 - 1 = 1).

"Oh no...!" gasped Mrs. K, not expecting that sort of move.

"That's right! I don't need to attack your monster!" Smooth Talker shouted to her. "I'll just go right over it!" He then ordered his monster, "Heartlandraco! Attack her Life Points directly!!"

The large toy-like dragon then opened its mouth and shot out a blast of flames from its maw, bypassing Mrs. K's face-down monster and hitting her instead. "URRRRRGH!!!" she cringed as she took the hit (Mrs. K.: LP 4,000 - 2,000 = 2,000). Once the flames dispersed, the woman still managed to stay on her own two feet.

"Yeah, that's right... keep that pathetic display of confidence..." the crook taunted. "It'll just make it all the more devastating when I crush you into dust!" After saying that, the room began to darken a little more.

But the young teacher was not afraid. "I do not fear you." she told him defiantly. "Your intimidation tactics are pointless against me. I have no reason to be afraid of someone such as yourself, for I can see you for what you really are."

"Peh! Listen, lady; I don't care WHAT you think! You'll lose to me, and my operation will keep on going without your interference!" the man cackled. Taking out another card from his hand, he then told her, "But just to make sure that you DON'T win, I'll play this Spell Card: The Dark Door!" After the card appeared on the field, a shadowy cloud surrounded it. "Thanks to this card, we're only allowed to attack with one monster each turn!"

(Hmmmm... I admit, that will make things more difficult.) Mrs. K thought to herself. (But that card alone cannot stop me from attacking his Number card next turn... There must be more to it than that.)

Chuckling to himself, Smooth Talker then told his foe, "Alright, let's see if you can get yourself out of this one. It's your move."

"Very well. I draw." the woman then drew her next card and looked at it closely. (This will do fine.) She then told her opponent, "Now... since you obviously were too afraid to attack my monster last turn, I shall reveal its identity to you this turn."

"T-too afraid?! That's a lie!!" yelled the man.

"We'll see..." Mrs. K said to him calmly. "But first, allow me to tell you this ancient legend from long ago; one of many that I have learned about during my time as an archaeologist."

"Huh??" asked Smooth, not sure what she was doing.

"In ancient times, there lived a young woman who wandered the harsh wilderness alone, with only the clothes on her back." the young teacher said. "But though she was physically weak, her spirit was quite remarkable, and her trials and hardships strengthened that spirit into a force that could not be matched. This strong spirit protected her from those that would do her harm; virtually invincible, very few have faced this awesome power and lived to tell the tale."

"What're you talking about?!" shouted the shop owner as the room grew darker. "What's this got to do with this Duel?!"

"You will see." Mrs. K told him. "I now switch my face-down monster to Attack Mode. I Flip Summon... my Maiden with Eyes of Blue!!"

After the monster was revealed, it presented itself as a young woman that looked almost exactly like her controller: Long silver hair, a mostly tan outfit (though the Maiden's was more ancient-looking in appearance), and stunning blue eyes (Maiden with Eyes of Blue: Level 1 / ATK 0 / DEF 0).

"Maiden with Eyes of Blue...?" asked the man, confused. "What kinda card is that?? I've never heard of it!"

"Next, I shall play this Spell Card." Mrs. K stated, taking the card that she had drawn this turn. "It is called Rush Recklessly. Now for the rest of this turn, this card will increase my Maiden's attack points by 700." After playing her card, a red aura surrounded the young lady on the field (Maiden with Eyes of Blue: ATK 0 + 700 = 700).

"That's still less than my Number card!" shouted Smooth Talker. "Just what're you trying to pull?!"

"You will see. And then you will lose." Mrs. K informed him. "I powered up my Maiden with Eyes of Blue not to overpower your monster, but to awaken her strongest power. By targeting her with a card effect, I can now Summon her guardian spirit to protect her!"

After making her declaration, the young woman's monster got onto her knees and began praying. As she did, a bright light surrounded her and shot up into the air above. "Wha-what's that??" asked the shop owner, getting a little nervous.

"It is the instrument of your defeat!" Mrs. K told him with an assertive voice as she took out a yellow-colored card from out of her Deck. "The ultimate engine of destruction!!" Reaching her hand into the air, she shouted out, "Descend now!! Blue-Eyes White Dragon!!!"

From out of the dark clouds above, a white lightning bolt shot down to the floor, giving off an incredible amount of energy that caused Smooth Talker to flinch and step back a little. Then, the light began to form into the shape of a gigantic dragon with large wings, shimmering white scales, and bright blue eyes. It let out a roar that actually managed to frighten Heartlandraco, causing it to hunch down, cover its face, and tremble (Blue-Eyes White Dragon: Level 8 / ATK 3000 / DEF 2500).

The man was in total shock: It seemed that, out of all the monsters she could have Summoned, this was the last one he ever expected to see. "N-n-n-no w-way...!" he stuttered in fear. "That's... that's impossible!! How could you possibly have that card?!?" Growling, he then pointed right at her and yelled, "You must be cheating!! There's only one Duelist that owns that card, and that's Seto Kaiba!! That card has to be a fake! There's no other explanation!!"

But Mrs. K remained calm and told her opponent, "Hmmm... a very bold and interesting theory. But, not surprisingly, you're wrong." She then said to him, "My card is quite real, and all the evidence I need to prove that is right in front of you."

"What?" asked the clueless crook.

"As you can see, my Blue-Eyes White Dragon was able to appear on the field after I Summoned it." the teacher explained. "If your claim about my card being counterfeit WAS true, then my Duel Pad would not have recognized it. And if that was the case, my dragon would not have appeared on the field. Did you forget that both Industrial Illusions and Kaiba Corp have designed their recent products so as to prevent counterfeit cards from being used in a Deck, therefore preventing any possibility of cheating?"

"Urk...!" the man grunted, as he did indeed forget about that.

"But since my card DID appear on the field, I suppose this disproves your assumption about the legitimacy of my cards." the woman told him. The mighty dragon then gave a low snarl to tell the man that it was for real.

Smooth Talker still couldn't believe that the Blue-Eyes White Dragon in front of him was for real, but eventually figured that arguing about it anymore wasn't going to do him any good. "Fine, have it your way... it's not like it matters anyway!" he told Mrs. K.

"And why is that?" she asked him.

"Your dragon may be powerful, but not even the Blue-Eyes White Dragon can defeat a Number card in battle!" he answered. "Not only that, but because I have my Dark Door Spell in play, Heartlandraco's effect prevents you from attacking it!"

"Hmmm... I see." the woman replied calmly. "I figured as such. But that will not be enough to save you from defeat." She then pointed to her Maiden and added, "Now I shall reveal the other power of my Maiden with Eyes of Blue!"

"OTHER power??" asked Smooth.

"Indeed." she replied. "You see, in addition to having the ability to call the Blue-Eyes to the field, she also happens to be a Tuner Monster."

"A TUNER?!" exclaimed the man. "You mean-?!"

"I do! And I will!" Thrusting her hand into the air, she shouted, "I tune my Level 1 Maiden to my Level 8 Blue-Eyes White Dragon!!" The young lady on the field outstretched her arms as she was bathed in pure energy that shrunk her down to a small ball of light that shot up into the air. It then came back down as a Synchro Ring. However, instead of being the usual green color, this ring appeared as pure white as it surrounded the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, turning it into eight smaller lights (Level 1 + Level 8 = Level 9). Mrs. K then chanted, "Almighty engine of destruction! Bathe yourself in holy light and evolve to your most supreme form! Synchro Summon!! Annihilate! Level 9! Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon!!"

The eight balls of light and the single white Synchro Ring were then engulfed into a larger sphere of white energy that began to shimmer like silver. Once the energy dispersed, a bright, silver-scaled dragon appeared, looking very much like the Blue-Eyes, but bigger. Its eyes shone like bright blue jewels as it let out a powerful roar and thrashed its twin tails (Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon: Level 9 / ATK 2500 / DEF 3000).

Smooth Talker, now trembling in his shoes, cried out, "That... that Synchro Monster...! I-i-it looks... just like the Blue-Eyes!!"

"Very observant." Mrs. K told him. "The Maiden's faith in her guardian spirit allowed it to evolve into a more powerful form. And soon, you shall be the first to bear witness to its great power. For now, however, I shall place Azure-Eyes in Defense Mode and set one more card from my hand face-down."

The crook then began to take his turn, but began trembling a little. (Who is this lady...?) he thought worriedly to himself. (I thought she was just some meddler, poking her nose where it didn't belong... But... something about her ain't normal... And what's more, how on Earth did she get those Blue-Eyes cards??) As those thoughts spun around in his mind, the room began to get even darker around both him and Mrs. K. (Calm down, Smooth Talker... you've got this in the bag...) he urged himself. (I just have to use Heartlandraco's effect one more time, and I'll beat her!)

"It's MY turn! I draw!!" he shouted as he drew his next card and placed it into his hand. "I now activate Heartlandraco's effect once again!!" (Number 82: Heartlandraco: OLU 1 - 1 = 0). Once the last Overlay Unit was gone, the man then shouted in a crazed voice, "Now!! Attack her Life Points directly and end this Duel!!"

The woman didn't flinch as the powerful Number card prepared to deliver the final blow. It then fired its flame breath directly at her. Just before it struck her, one of Mrs. K's face-down cards flipped face-up.

The flames fired from Heartlandraco caused a mighty explosion that shook the room. "Hahahaha!!!" Smooth Talker cackled. "You say that I'M a fool?! You say that I'M scared?!? Who's scared NOW?!?!" The man then continued to laugh, confident that he had vanquished his opponent. But after the smoke cleared, his laugh suddenly stopped when he saw that his opponent was still there (Mrs. K.: LP 600). "WHAT?!? You're still standing?!" the man shouted. "HOW?!?"

"Once again, your fear has caused you to make a mistake." Mrs. K told him. "You were so caught up in trying to end this Duel quickly, that you failed to notice my face-down cards... such as the one that activated before your attack struck me: My Gift of the Mystical Elf!"

"No!!!" protested Smooth, sweating a bit more.

"This card grants me 300 additional Life Points for every monster on the field." the young woman explained. "As there are two monsters on the field - my Azure-Eyes and your Heartlandraco - I gained 600 more Life Points (Mrs. K.: LP 2,000 + 600 = 2,600). Which means that your monster's attack power was not able to eliminate them all." (Mrs. K.: LP 2,600 - 2,000 = 600)

"Urrgh... you little-!" snarled the crook.

"Of course, that is not all that has happened:" she continued. "Now that you have used up both of your monster's Overlay Units, it can no longer strike me directly. Which means that my Life Points are safe."

"Rrrgh... that buys just one turn! Just one!" Smooth Talker shouted. "So take your turn already!!" Once again, the room got a little darker after that outburst.

"Hmmm... You don't seem to realize that you are becoming your own worst enemy." Mrs. K stated. "But I will make that clear to you soon enough... Now I draw." After placing her new card into her hand, she then said, "Now that it is my Standby Phase, I can activate the effect of Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon. It allows me to revive any Normal Monster in the Graveyard." Taking a card out of her Graveyard slot, she then added, "And of course, the monster I choose shall be... my Blue-Eyes White Dragon!!"

The man gasped as a dark purple portal appeared on the field. Afterwards, the mighty three thousand-attack point dragon came out of the portal and returned to Mrs. K's field in Attack Position. "No!! Not again!!" yelled the man. Grumbling, he then told his foe, "Y-you still can't defeat me! My Heartlandraco's other ability is still in effect! As long as I have a Spell Card in play, you can't attack him!! So my Life Points can't be touched!!"

"That is only partially true." the woman told him. "While I cannot attack your monster, your Life Points are far from safe." Taking out a card from her hand, she then announced, "I activate the Spell Card, Tremendous Fire!"

"Aack! Not that!!" the man cried out.

"While this card does cause me to take 500 points of damage, it will ALSO deal 1,000 points of damage to you!" the young lady explained to him.

"Maybe so," the man began to her, "but that move'll take you down to just 100 Life Points! Which means if I can land just one more solid blow, you'll lose!!"

But Mrs. K stayed calm and told him, "You still are unaware of what danger you put yourself in. But this card will show you that this is no ordinary game." She then played her card, causing a deep fissure to appear in the center of the field. Before anyone could say another word, flames began to erupt from the fissure, spitting out at both Duelists and causing them damage.

However, when the fireballs struck Smooth Talker, something peculiar happened. "AAAAACK!!!! So hot!!! AHHHHH!!!" the man screamed as the damage was done (Smooth Talker: LP 4,000 - 1,000 = 3,000). Of course some of the flames hit Mrs K as well, and while she did let out a slight painful grunt, she made no other reaction to taking the damage (Mrs. K.: LP 600 - 500 = 100).

Breathing heavily, Smooth Talker tried to process what had just happened. "What was that...?!" he asked in an exhausted tone. He then looked at himself and gasped when saw that there were what appeared to be burn marks on his skin. "No way...! What happened?! How could those flames ACTUALLY hurt me?! They're just an AR special effect!"

"I am afraid that isn't the case in this Duel." Mrs. K told him. "I told you this was no ordinary game of Duel Monsters... And if you need any proof of that, then remove your Duel Gazer and see for yourself."

(Grrr... NOW what's she talking about...?) he asked himself. Despite that he had no idea what his opponent was getting at, he did as she said and took of his Gazer. But when he looked at the field, he gasped in complete shock. "No! What's going on?!" he asked in fear. "I took off my Gazer... but I can still see all of the monsters on the field!! What kind of trick is this?!?"

"...While it is not something I particularly enjoy doing," Mrs. K began to explain to him, "I am afraid that, in the case of someone as despicable as you are, there was no other alternative. For your crimes against your fellow man, the only suitable punishment... is a Shadow Game."

"A what??" asked Smooth, sweating a little.

"In ancient times, the Shadow Games were used to test the hearts and souls of whomever participated in them." she informed him. "In those days they battled using monsters and magic, just as we are doing right now. However, back then, the creatures and spells were very much real, as were the consequences of those who lost those games. The punishments ranged from losing their minds... to losing their souls."

"L-l-losing their s-souls...?" asked the man, now getting very scared. However, he then shook his head and, trying to hide his fear, shouted at her, "Th-there's now way that could be true!! You're just making all of that up!!"

"...You continue to deny the obvious, despite that all of the evidence is right in front of you." Mrs. K stated. "I can tell that victory shall not shine upon a heart and soul as weak as yours." She then started straight into his eyes and told him, "I'm afraid that, at this rate, your only chance to spare yourself of a horrible fate is to surrender to me now. So... are you going to concede this Duel and save yourself?"

But the man only let out an insane-sounding laugh in reply. "Me? Surrender??" he shouted crazily. "You're even crazier than I thought you were! I have thirty times more Life Points than you do! I have my Number card on the field to prevent your monsters from attacking me! If anyone should surrender, it should be you! So quit tryin' to bluff your way out of this one!! Because I'm the one who will win!! And you'll be the one to suffer a 'horrible fate!! Hahahaha!!!"

Mrs. K seemed disappointed by the man's response, even though she knew that he probably wasn't going to forfeit the Duel. "I gave you one chance to save yourself..." she told him quietly. "I showed you more mercy than someone as cruel and as pitiful as you deserves... But you chose not to listen to reason, and I am afraid that will be the one mistake that will cost you everything!"

"Just clam it already!" Smooth Talker yelled at her. "Is your turn over or not?!"

Mrs. K did not answer his question with words. She then took out a card from her hand and shoved it into her Duel Pad's Spell & Trap Zone slot, saying, "I'll place one card face-down and end my turn."

"Then it's my turn...!" the crook said, preparing to draw a card from his Deck. His fingers began to tremble as he pulled his next card. Looking at it with worried eyes, he then gasped and cackled loudly, saying, "HahahaHA!!! Perfect! Just what I needed to pull!" Showing his enemy the card he drew, he then declared, "I activate the Spell Card Dark Core!"

Mrs. K gasped a little, but showed no other reaction to her opponent's move.

"Now, after I discard one card from my hand," Smooth Talker explained, "this Spell can banish any monster on the field, taking it out of play for good!! And I think I'll choose your Blue-Eyes White Dragon! Once he's been banished, you won't be able to bring him back with your Synchro Monster's effect anymore!!" After playing the card and paying the activation cost, a pitch-black vortex appeared in the sky, ready to whisk the powerful dragon away.

"Not so fast! I activate a Trap Card!! Shift!!" Mrs. K announced, revealing her Set card.

"AACK!!! No!!" protested the man.

"With this card," she began to tell her opponent, "I can change the target of your Spell Card to another monster on my field. So instead of my Blue-Eyes White Dragon, I'll have your Dark Core take away my Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon instead!!" And just as she told him, the vortex sucked away her Synchro Monster instead of its original target before vanishing from the field. (Forgive me, Azure-Eyes...) she said mentally.

Grumbling that she had thwarted his plans, Smooth Talker then yelled, "So what?! I STILL got rid of one of your monsters! And once I dispose of your Blue-Eyes, you'll have no way of bringing it back to the field!! This doesn't change a thing!!"

"You still don't seem to get it." Mrs. K told him in her usual calm demeanor. "Don't you realize that your fear of losing everything is what will cause your demise in the end?"

"You're STILL goin' on about that?!" he yelled at her. "I told you, I don't believe in that stupid junk!! You're just bluffing in a lame attempt to scare me!!"

"I don't need to bluff. You're scared enough as it is without any help from me." she rebutted. "I can see the fear in your eyes, and your fear is what strengthens the dark clouds around us."

"D-dark clouds...??" the crook asked. He then looked around and finally noticed that everything around them both was darker than the night sky. (What the-? How'd it get so dark in here so quickly?!) he thought to himself.

"This shadowy fog is the manifestation of your fears, Smooth Talker." Mrs. K informed him. "The more frightened you are, the darker they become, until they are strong enough to swallow one with a weak soul such as your own. The only ways out of this situation are either to defeat me, or surrender to me. So this is your last chance: Back out of this and admit to your weaknesses, or I promise that you will come face-to-face with them the hard way."

Now trembling all over, Smooth Talker wasn't sure what to do. For a second, he contemplated about forfeiting the Duel, but his pride and fear were too overwhelming. "I-I-I-I ain't surrendering to nobody!!" he responded with a stutter. "I... I switch Heartlandraco to Defense Mode and end my turn..."

"So you've made your decision." Mrs. K told him. "I'm afraid that you chose poorly; now you have no choice to witness the fate in store for you." She then drew her next card and added, "Now to finish the job that my Azure-Eyes started."

"What're you talking about this time...?!" asked the crook, a bit worried about what her answer would be.

"Thanks to Azure-Eyes, I was able to spare my Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and set the stage for my final move." she replied. Taking another card out of her hand, she then declared, "I activate Silver's Cry! This Spell allows me to Special Summon one Normal Dragon from my Graveyard to the field!"

"But you don't have any!!" Smooth protested. "Your Blue-Eyes is already on the field!!"

"...As usual, you are wrong." she informed him. "But then, I can't blame you for thinking that, after all... you never SAW the card that I discarded when I played Trade-In."

"What?!" the man gasped, as he had forgotten all about that. "Then... does that mean...?!"

"Exactly! When I played my first card in this Duel, I sent a high-level monster to the Graveyard." Mrs. K told him. "And with Silver's Cry, I can now bring it to the field!" Taking the card in question out of the Graveyard, she placed it onto her tray and shouted, "I summon a second Blue-Eyes White Dragon!!" And in an instant, a dark-purple vortex appeared behind her, and out of it came another large dragon, just like the first one.

"T-TWO Blue-Eyes White Dragons...?!?" the man said, quaking in fear.

"Indeed." the young woman confirmed. "Not even your Number card will survive my next move. Your fear and worry will soon lead you to the fate that was destined for you."

"Wh-wh-why do you think I'm afraid of you?!" yelled Smooth Talker, doing his best to hide how scared he was.

"Because I can see it from your Number card, that's why." she answered.

"M-my Number card...?"

Mrs. K then told him, "From what I have learned, Number cards all start out as blank cards. After someone picks one up, it shapes itself based on the nature of that person's soul." Pointing at Heartlandraco, she then added, "In the case of your Number card, it reflects your true personality: Someone who tries to appear powerful and intimidating, but in reality is a scared young child, reflected in the way that your Number has the appearance of a toy dragon."

Smooth Talker tried to say something back, but the words couldn't come out.

"You try to hide your fear from everyone, and especially from yourself." the young woman continued. "You keep telling yourself that you'll be rich and powerful, and that your plans will work forever, to convince yourself that you're fearless. But you couldn't possibly make your cowardice any more apparent than if you hung a sign around your neck."

"Wh-what are you saying...?" asked the man, getting more worried by every word that came out of her mouth.

"I'm saying that you will not be able to hide your true form any longer." Mrs. K informed him with pure confidence in her voice. "You shall lose this Duel to me, and you will have no choice but to confront your deepest fears."

"D-d-deepest fears??" stuttered the crook.

Placing a hand on her chest, the young woman then told him, "And now, since you were so generous to show me your Number card... Allow me to show you mine."

"What?! What did you just say?!?" shouted Smooth.

"I overlay the two Level 8 Blue-Eyes White Dragons to create an Overlay Network!!" shouted Mrs. K, thrusting her hand up into the air. Afterwards, the two mighty dragons transformed into a pair of bright yellow lights that were drawn into a massive galaxy portal that formed overhead. "Appear, Number 46!" the woman chanted, holding her arm in the air as high as she could. "The thunder roars. The lightning flashes. Manifest yourself, my golden dragon!! Xyz Summon!! Descend now, Ethereal Dragon! Rank 8!! Dragluon!"

After her Summoning Chant was finished, the portal exploded, revealing a bright yellow 46 in the dark skies above. Then, the shadowy fog on Mrs. K's side of the field began to disperse as a large object began to appear. It seemed to have the appearance of angel of some sort as it radiated a pure, bright light, joined by a pair of small yellow lights swirling around it. Not long after it showed up, long rays of light began to shoot out of it, forming a long tail and body, a pair of gigantic wings, and a large dragon head with light red eyes and a blue gem upon its forehead. The beast let out a loud roar that shook the entire store as it surrounded Mrs. K with its extremely long body.

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Number 46: Dragluon
(Xyz-Effect Monster/Dragon-Type/LIGHT/Rank 8/ATK 3000/DEF 3000)

2 Level 8 Dragon-Type monsters
Cannot be destroyed by battle except with "Number" monsters. Once per turn, if you control no other monsters: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card, then activate 1 of these effects.
* Special Summon 1 Dragon-Type monster from your hand.
* Target 1 Dragon-Type monster your opponent controls; take control of that target.
* Dragon-Type monsters your opponent controls cannot activate their effects until the end of your opponent's turn.

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The man shook in both fear and awe at Mrs. K's mighty Number card. "No way..." he said, eyes widened with amazement. "She has... a Number card too...!"

The woman stared down her opponent with a serious look that made Smooth Talker step back a bit in fear. "This Duel shall soon be over..." she told him. "You will be defeated, and you will pay for all those you have cheated out of greed..."

"...D-d-don't try to fool ME into thinking you've got some advantage over me!" the crook snapped back. "You may have a Number card, but you STILL can't attack my Heartlandraco, thanks to his special ability!! Saying you'll defeat MY Number card?! Stop talkin' crazy talk!!"

But the woman simply closed her eyes and told him, "I said would defeat YOU. I never said anything about defeating your Number card."

"Wh-what's that mean...?"

"Your Number card is just an innocent victim of your greedy, selfish desires." Mrs. K answered him. "It wouldn't feel right to me to destroy it just because you want to hide behind him like a coward. So I plan to spare your Number card of any further pain and humiliation... You, on the other hand, shall not be as lucky."

Smooth Talker tried to reply, but he was too scared to say anything. He began to realize that when this woman made a threat, she was more than capable of backing it up.

"I activate the power of Number 46: Dragulon..." she began to tell him as she took one of the cards underneath her Number card and sent it to the Graveyard. "By removing one of its Overlay Units, I can use one of three abilities; abilities so strong, they can only be used if Dragulon is the only monster on the field."

"W-WHAT?!" the man yelped. "Th-th-then you let me eliminate your Synchro Monster on purpose... just so you could use your Number card's power?!?"

"Indeed. Though I am afraid that you are too late to stop me." she informed him. K then then explained, "Dragulon has three special powers, only one of which I shall reveal to you. With that power, I am now permitted to target one of your Dragon-Type monsters on the field and take control of it!!"

"NO!! But that means-!"

"It means you cannot postpone your defeat any longer, for I choose to take control of your Heartlandraco!!" Mrs. K announced. And with that, Dragulon bathed itself in a bright light as it absorbed one of its floating orbs (Number 46: Dragulon: OLU 2 - 1 = 1). It then roared loudly and surrounded Smooth Talker's only monster with the same bright light. Heartlandraco's eyes then flashed white as it let out a small growl. Afterwards, it then turned to face his former master and glared at him angrily. Smooth could only look on as his Number card flew over to his enemy's side of the field, leaving him with nothing left.

"Now that your Number card has come to my side of the field, there's nothing that can save you from defeat now." Mrs. K told him.

"N-n-n-no! You CAN'T!!!" Smooth Talker protested feebly.

"I can! And I shall!!" the woman shouted. "Dragulon! Attack his Life Points directly!! Divine Fire Blaze!!!" And with that order, Dragulon then let out a blast of flames from its maw, sending them straight towards Smooth Talker.

"AAAAAAAACCKK!!!!" screamed the crook as the flames finished him off for good (Smooth Talker: LP 3,000 - 3,000 = 0) (WINNER: Mrs. K.). He then dropped down onto his knees, still in total shock, both from the intense attack and from the fact that he had lost. As he fell to the floor, his Number card fell down beside him, before vanishing in a flash of light.

Once the monsters and other cards vanished from the field, Mrs. K looked at her hand and saw that Heartlandraco's card was now in her possession. (I see... so the rumors are true.) she thought to herself. (In a battle between Number users, the loser must give up their Numbers to the winner.) She then decided to think about it another time as she put the card away in her deck box, along with the rest of her cards. She then walked over to her opponent and said to him, "You have lost, Smooth Talker... and unfortunately for you, the rules of the Shadow Games insist that a Penalty Game must be inflicted."

"P-p-p-please! Don't hurt me....!!" whimpered the fallen man. "I'll do anything!! I'll go legit!! I'll be honest from now on!! I swear!!!"

Sighing, the woman then said to him, "How pathetic... As I thought, your bravado was all just an act to hide your fear... But do not worry. I am not a murderer; you shall be spared of the worst agonies that have befallen many others that have lost a Shadow Game." She then clutched onto her dragon necklace and added, "And as for those promises of yours to become more honest.... I can assure you with certainty that you WILL keep them."

"Huh...?" the crook responded, not sure what was going to happen.

At that moment, the necklace that Mrs. K wore shone brightly; almost as bright as the light that Dragulon had unleashed earlier. Eyes shining, the woman then pointed at Smooth Talker and yelled, "PENALTY GAME!!!! Mind on Air!!!"

"AAAAAHHHHHH...!!!!" the man screamed as a brilliant flash of light surrounded him. It was so intense, Smooth Talker ended up fainting and fell flat onto the ground.

Mrs. K then stared down at her unconscious opponent as the shadowy clouds began to disperse. She had a look of disgust on her face, but not from thinking about the man's previous actions, but from what she herself had done to punish him. "Forgive me, master..." she said to herself. "Playing these dangerous games and inflicting such punishments is normally something that I would not do... but this man could not be allowed to continue his evil ways, and I had no other alternative."

The woman then turned towards the door to leave, but then stopped right in front of the doorway to turn around and look over at Smooth Talker once more. "When you awake," she began to tell him, "for the next few days, you will be compelled to reveal yourself. You will tell everyone exactly what has been going on, and how you have been cheating your customers since you opened up. No doubt, the proper authorities will hear of it and arrest you, along with your 'inside man' that supplied you with those illegal card printers... Hopefully, some time in jail will help you to reflect on your misdeeds." And with those last words, Mrs K. then opened the door and left the store, satisfied that her work was complete.

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The very next day, at 10:55 a.m., Sunset, Twilight, and the rest of their friends were walking down Maiden Street. They were searching for the card shop that they had talked about the day before. Despite the rumors that the shop was involved in some shady business, the seven of them decided to go check it out anyway. "How much further away is it?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"Just one more block." Sunset answered, looking at a map of the city on her phone. "So not much further."

As they walked down the sidewalk, Rarity then glanced over towards Applejack and asked her, "So, what are you hoping to find for your Deck?"

"Well, Ah suppose Ah could use more copies of Orea and Alsei for mah Extra Deck." the farm girl answered. "Maybe even a Synchro Monster 'r two, seein' as how Ah've got Copy Plant in mah Deck." She then asked her friend, "What about you, Rare? Anythin' in paticular you're lookin' for?"

"Oh, absolutely!" the fashionista replied. "I heard about this Gem-Knight monster that I simply MUST add to my Deck! I believe it was called Lady Brilliant Diamond."

"Well, hopefully, we'll find something new to add to our collections today." Twilight chimed in. "Of course, I'm still relatively new to this game, so-"

"Don't worry about that, Twilight." Sunset said to her. "We'll help you find something good for your Deck as well."

But when the seven girls finally got to the store's address and looked at the building, something was amiss. The doors were locked, and the inside of the shop was dark inside. "It's... closed?" asked Fluttershy. "Did we... did we arrive here too early?"

"Maybe, but that don't make a lick of sense..." Applejack responded, scratching her head. "All the other shops n' stuff are open already, so why's this one still closed up??"

"Maybe the owner's late?" asked Twilight. "That's all I can think of..."

At that moment, another person approached the group of seven and asked, "Oh... what are the seven of you doing here?" When the others looked towards the source of the voice, they saw that it had come from none other than the new teacher at their school, Mrs. K.

"Mrs. K?" asked Sunset Shimmer, not expecting to see the new teacher so suddenly. "What are YOU doing here?"

"I was just running some errands when I saw all of you." the young woman answered. Looking over at the closed shop that she had visited on the previous night, she then asked them, "So I suppose that none of you had heard about what happened here yesterday night?"

"What happened?" asked Fluttershy. The group all looked at each other, wondering what the woman was talking about.

"Well, according to the news," Mrs. K explained to them all, "they said that the owner of this store was running some illegal business here. He was printing out fake Duel Monsters cards using old printing machines that had long ago been confiscated by the police. He then sold them to unwitting customers at inflated prices, either for cash or for other cards."

"You're joking!" exclaimed Rarity, in shock from what she had heard, as were the others.

"She's not joking, Rarity..." Pinkie Pie told her. "Trust me: I can tell."

"Indeed." Mrs. K confirmed. "They say that he had been running this counterfeiting operation since mid-September; the only reason that this became known was because the owner suddenly came to the police station and confessed to his crimes. According to the authorities, he actually seemed like he was begging the police to take him in, but they don't know why."

"Woah..." Sunset responded. "So I guess that means the rumors about this place were true?" She then also pondered something else: Mrs. K had mentioned that the shop owner had started making counterfeit cards in September, which happened to be the same month that Sunset Shimmer had her dream in which she released the Number cards from the giant demon-faced gate. She wondered to herself if the events were related.

"So, great... That means we walked all this way for nothin'?" asked Rainbow Dash, clearly annoyed.

"Yeah, I suppose we did." the red and yellow girl replied, turning her attention back to her friends. "Sorry, girls."

"Don't beat yourself up over it, Sunset." Twilight told her. "You didn't know what happened here, and neither did we. It's nopo- er, nobody's fault."

"Yeah, Twi's right." Applejack added. "An' besides: It ain't like this is the only card shop here in town. We'll just go t' one of our usual spots and get some stuff there."

"In fact, I believe there is one just two blocks away from here, if my memory is correct." Rarity chimed in, pointing down the sidewalk ahead.

"Yeah, you're right." Sunset said, her spirits lifting up a bit. "No point in getting distressed over a minor setback like this. We can still hang out somewhere and have a good day together anyway!"

"Now THAT'S more like it, Sunnie!" Pinkie Pie stated in a cheerful tone. She then pointed ahead with her right hand, put her left hand on her hip, and said, with a proud look on her face, "So what're we waiting for?! Let's get out there and have ourselves a super-duper, fun-filled day!!" And with that proclamation, it was impossible for any of the other girls to argue with her on that. They began walking down the sidewalk, with Pinkie leading them all.

Just then, Mrs. K suddenly asked, "Um, before you go, Sunset... I have to ask: Where did you get that necklace of yours? It... it looks very nice on you."

The group stopped for a moment after hearing the new teacher's question. Sunset looked at her key-shaped necklace and replied, saying, "Oh this? I got it from Zecora at the flea market. But if you're hoping to find one for yourself, I don't think she'll have another."

"It's fine. I was just curious, that's all." Mrs. K responded. She then asked, "Do you happen to know anything about what it is or where it came from?"

"...Why do you want to know?" the red and yellow girl inquired, not sure why the woman would ask such a thing.

"Well, she IS a history teacher..." Rarity mentioned. "It would only make sense that she would want to know about it."

"I suppose that's true..." Sunset replied. "But, the truth is, I'm not completely sure myself about what this thing really is. I've only heard rumors; nothing concrete yet. As for where it came from, Zecora said she found it somewhere in the Himalayan Mountains, I think. But whether it was there to begin with or if it was dropped there is something neither of us know... So, I'm afraid that none of us really know much yet."

"...I see." Mrs. K replied. "Well, then I won't pry any more into the matter if you truly don't know anything else. If there is any other information about it, I suppose we'll know in time. Who knows? With my experience as an archaeologist, perhaps I may find something new about it. And if I do, you shall be the first to hear of it."

"Oh... well, thanks I guess." Sunset replied. "Glad to know that." She and the others turned to leave as the red and yellow girl told the woman, "I'll... see you next Monday, then."

"Very well." Mrs. K replied with a smile. "Have a good day, all of you."

As the seven of them walked down the sidewalk, Twilight then asked Sunset, "What do you suppose that was all about? Why did she want to know about your necklace?"

"...Not sure." the red and yellow girl replied. "I don't know why she would suddenly ask me something like that."

"Well, Ah wouldn't worry about it too much right now." Applejack told them both. "It's like Rare said: She was just probably interested because she's into all'o that ancient history stuff."

(Maybe...) thought Sunset Shimmer, (but I have a feeling that there's more to that woman than what she appears to be... And I've also got a feeling that we're going to know more about her sooner or later...) For now, the red and yellow girl pushed that thought out of her mind for the moment so that she could enjoy the day with her friends.

As Mrs. K watched them leave, she then thought to herself, (So... she is not yet aware of what power that lies in the Emporer's Key... And it appears that her friends also do not know about it...) She then turned around and walked in the opposite direction from Sunset and the others. As she did, she then pulled out the Number card that she owned, Number 46: Dragulon, from out of her Deck and said to herself, "When I found this card, I learned everything that I needed to know... About myself, and about the power of the Astral World."

Stopping and turning around, Mrs. K then watched Sunset and her friends before saying to herself, "I also know that a great war will soon take place here in our world... And in order to win this war, we will once again need the power of the great Diak Ums of years past." After saying those words, the mysterious woman then pocketed her Number card (placing it beside the one that she had obtained from the crooked shop owner last night) and left for a destination that only she knew of.

-- To Be Continued...

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NUMBERS OBTAINED:

Mrs. K: (2 Numbers total)

- Number 46: Dragluon
- Number 82: Heartlandraco

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