• 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 38: The Harmony Numbers:

Author's Note:

Directly following the last episode, Sunset and her friends are about to learn more about the Numbers, the Astral World, as well as a few things about themselves that they could have never imagined...

A special thanks to ArcanaMaverick7 for coming up with the collective name of those special Numbers owned by Mrs. K.:pinkiesmile:

RANK 38: The Harmony Numbers:
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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...

At the Pranceton Museum, Mrs. K (a.k.a. Kisara) had invited Sunset Shimmer, Twilight Sparkle, and all their friends to come and see a new exhibit on display. But when they arrived, they witnessed Dr. Caballeron - a disgraced archeologist who turned to a life of crime, trying to steal the valuable artifacts from that very exhibit. However, A.K. Yearling (a.k.a. Daring Do) stopped his plans short... and then the villain revealed that he had one of the Number cards in his possession. He then fought a Duel against Mrs. K, using a Deck that he had lifted from Daring Do that same day.

Despite his best efforts, the stolen Deck did not grant Caballeron victory, and he lost to Mrs. K's Blue-Eyes White Dragon Deck. She then used her mystical powers to plant an illusion into his mind and render him completely harmless. By that point, Sunset, Twilight, and the others were very curious as to who their teacher really was, due to the fact that - among many other oddities about her, she also held Numbers of her own. Luckily, Mrs. K revealed the truth of herself to them - such as her true name, as well as her mission: To locate the reincarnated members of the ancient Order of Astral and reunite them to combat a great evil...

And based on everything that they had learned, Sunset has come to a shocking realization...

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At the Pranceton Museum - in the office of A.K. Yearling, Sunset Shimmer, Twilight Sparkle, and all of their friends had learned some very interesting things from their new history teacher, Mrs. K. One was that her real name was Kisara, and that she was actually a reincarnated soul from over 3,000 years in the past. They also learned more about the Astral World, as well as the Order of Astral - a clan of priests and priestesses that devoted themselves to finding that world. But after comparing clues that Zecora had given to them prior to now, Sunset came to the most important and most shocking revelation ever...

"I think what Mrs. K is trying to tell us is that... is that WE'RE the people in that painting!" she exclaimed. "WE'RE the Order of Astral!!"

This statement elicited a gasp out of all her friends, as well as A.K. Yearling, upon hearing it. "You've gotta be kiddin'!" exclaimed Rainbow Dash. "You're sayin' that's supposed to be US in that picture?! There's no way!!"

"I must admit, it seems far-fetched to me as well, Sunset dear..." Rarity told her. "How could that possibly be all of us? I know they LOOK similar to us all, but... it just couldn't be...!"

"...But... what if it is?" Fluttershy asked sheepishly. "N-n-not to disagree with either of you, but... we don't know for sure that it COULDN'T be us in that picture..."

The others were a bit surprised that Fluttershy seemed to think that what Sunset said could be true. Whether they really believed it or not, they knew their shy friend had made a good point. "I suppose that makes sense..." Twilight stated.

"Yeah..." Yearling chimed in, looking at the picture herself. "After all, we don't really have any evidence that could dispute it all... So it could really be possible."

"...Hang on a sec!" Applejack suddenly said. She then asked Kisara, "Mrs. K, what about Sunset n' Twi? They're not from our world, so how could they have ancestors - or whatever those are, here?!"

The young teacher calmly replied to the farm girl, stating, "I know that Ms. Shimmer and Ms. Sparkle are from a universe parallel to this one, similar to how the Astral World is parallel to it as well. While I do not know the exact nature of how the reincarnation process works - despite that I have gone through it myself... it can be safe to assume that - because the Astral World transcends all other worlds, it is not always a guarantee that a soul will be reborn in the world it originated in." Looking over at the two otherworldly girls, she added, "Perhaps a governing force in the Astral World saw it fit for the two of you to be reborn elsewhere for a greater purpose."

"I was wondering about that..." said Pinkie Pie, tapping her chin. "Good thing I was patient enough to wait for the exposition to pop up in the story on its own!"

"I... guess that makes sense..." said Sunset, rubbing the back of her head. "But how can you be sure that we're those people in that picture? I have to agree: Even though I made the hypothesis, it's still hard to believe that the seven of us were really alive over thousands of years ago..."

"I don't blame you for your skepticism, Ms. Shimmer." said Kisara. "I can imagine that all of this is quite a shock to you, and to your friends." Closing her eyes, she continued, telling her, "But I am certain that you are indeed the Order of Astral reborn in the modern era. I knew it from the moment that I saw the Emperor's Key that you wear."

"...Emperor's Key?" asked the red-and-yellow girl. "You mean my necklace?" Hearing that allowed Sunset to recall something else important. (Hold on...) she thought, (I remember; I heard it called that before... When I had that weird dream. There was a door that beckoned me to open it...)

Sunset then took a closer look at the figures in the picture - specifically the one that bore a resemblance to her, and saw that it wore what appeared to be priestess robes, all colored white. (That's right! I was also wearing robes just like the one in the picture! Both in my dream... and also when I saw that Doctor guy's memories! And not only that...) Sunset then shifted her gaze over to the eighth figure in the picture. It didn't look like her or any of her friends, but it DID look almost exactly like The Doctor. (Does this mean that he's involved in this Order of Astral thing, too?) she asked herself.

Kisara then continued to speak to Sunset and her friends, explaining more and more about the Order of Astral. Showing them one of the pictures that she presented to them yesterday at the school (the one with a carving shaped like Sunset's necklace), she told them, "The Emperor's Key was the symbol of the Order of Astral. The High Priest who led the order was said to have discovered the symbol the first time he witnessed the Astral World. Thus, he - as well as his seven High Priestesses, wore the symbol upon them, believing that it had a significant connection to the Astral World. When the order vanished, so did the Emperor's Key... But now it has found its way back here to this world, in your possession, Sunset. That is when I knew for sure who you were."

"You really think so?" asked the jacket-clad teenager.

"You should know yourself if it is true or not." Kisara responded. "After all, you hold Number cards, just as I do. You are able to control them without being controlled by them, unlike with what you saw concerning Caballeron."

"Yeah... that's right." said Sunset, looking at her necklace again. "On the night the Numbers first appeared, I found one and picked it up. After that, I could feel it trying to take over my mind. But then, my necklace began to glow at that moment and a second later... I was just fine."

"But... then what about me?" asked Rarity, still confused about something. "A while ago, I found one of those Number cards and it took over my mind! If that's the case, how could I be a part of this Order of Astral if I can't control a Number card??"

"A very good question, Ms. Rarity." Kisara told her. "And one that I may have the answer to." Taking out her three Number cards (Dragulon, Heartlandraco, and the one she had just gotten: Pair-a-Dice Smasher), she explained to them, "As you know, the Numbers are extremely powerful cards, with powers far beyond that of other cards - even other Xyz Monsters. And as you also know, many who have obtained a Number card fell under a great and terrible power that commanded them into performing reckless, even evil acts. Ms. Rarity... You may think that it was the Number card's power that overwhelmed your mind and caused you to act out... But it wasn't."

"What?!" asked Sunset. "Are you saying the Number wasn't the reason Rarity acted the way she did?"

"...The Numbers are a by-product of the Astral World's power, though I currently do not know exactly what their purpose is or what brought them into being." Kisara said to her. "But I do not believe that the Numbers' powers are malicious in any way. After all, the Astral World is said to be an absolute perfect realm; one without fear or evil. Because of that, I do not think that the Numbers themselves are to blame for what has happened involving them so far."

"...I think you might right about that, Mrs. K." Twilight said, agreeing with the young teacher without hesitating.

"What makes y'all say that?" asked Applejack. "You've seen just how those cards make people go outta control, haven't ya?"

"But not all of them are like that, remember?" the Princess of Friendship inquired. "After all, Utopia's been with me ever since I came here to help you, and he's never tried to force me into doing anything I didn't want to do. I know for sure he's not even the least bit bad!" Utopia himself felt happy hearing his owner say that.

"Oh yeah, Ah forgot 'bout that." the farm girl responded, realizing she had a point.

"And that's not all:" Sunset spoke up. "When Bon Bon and I encountered that Windmistress person, she used a Number card against us as well. But the card didn't seem very happy serving her. At the end of the Duel, Bon Bon managed to take control of the card without any side-effects... And for a brief moment, I could sense that the Number card felt relieved to get away from that woman. So I think Twilight and Mrs. K are right about the Numbers not really being evil."

"But... if the Numbers aren't really doing all of that bad stuff..." Fluttershy began to ask, "then what is? I-if you don't have a problem with telling us, that is..."

"...I'm not completely certain of it," Kisara began to answer, "but I do have a theory." She then asked them all, "Do you recall the card shop that closed down?"

"The one on Maiden Street?" asked Rainbow Dash. "What about it?"

"As you recall," Mrs. K replied, "the owner was arrested for making and selling counterfeit cards at the shop. What you didn't know... is that he was holding a Number card himself."

"He had a Number?" asked Sunset. "But how do you know that?"

"Because I confronted him after hearing the rumors." Kisara continued to explain, holding up Heartlandraco's card as she did. "I dueled him and obtained his Number after defeating him. After I took the card, I could sense a powerful energy surrounding it." Putting the card down and picking up Pair-a-Dice Smasher, she then told them, "The same was true for this card as well: I could sense the mystical energies of the Astral World within it. But... I also felt a different kind of energy in the card as well: A darker one..."

"Darker...?" asked Twilight.

(I thought so.) said Utopia. (After I held the Number cards that we had won through our Duels, I could sense some sort of malicious energy inside them, if only for a second. This was especially the case when we obtained Number 98: Antiopian from your dark side.) Folding his arms, he added, (But... now they don't appear to give off that energy anymore.)

(So you're saying that - after we got the cards, we somehow... purified them or something?) Twilight asked him mentally.

(I believe so.) Utopia responded. (I suspected it was the case, but your teacher's words have confirmed those suspicious: It is safe to assume that someone, or something... has tainted the Number cards with an evil power.) Twilight was surprised to hear him say that.

Mrs. K had just told everyone else the same thing herself. "I am not sure how or why the Number cards are being consumed by evil," she said to them, "but it does appear to be a sign that the Order of Astral was needed once again in order to combat this force, just as they had done 3,000 years ago." Looking at Sunset, she then told her, "When I saw the Emperor's Key around your neck, I felt that you may be one of those reborn souls, but I had to make sure of it first before I revealed what I knew. So I gave you a test - that day at the Spirit Festival."

"Spirit Festival?" asked the red-and-yellow girl. Gasping, she remembered that day and asked, "Wait, so that Mana girl that I dueled was working for you?"

"In a way, she was." said Kisara. "I asked her to duel you at the festival to test you, to see if you truly were who I thought you were... Of course, she was very happy to know that she would get a chance to play against you. So she wasn't lying when she said that she had always wanted to duel you."

"I see..." was all that Sunset could respond with.

"When you emerged victorious in your Duel with Mana," Kisara continued, "I knew for sure that you were one of the reincarnated Priestesses. Turning over to Twilight, she told her, "And you, Ms. Sparkle... The evidence I needed was right in front of me, when I watched your Duel with Ms. Mulia Mild."

"It was?" asked the young Princess.

"Yes." Mrs. K replied. "You hold Number 39: Utopia; also known as Hope, King of Wishes. Although he is a Number card, he has not controlled your mind or your actions. Do you know why that is?"

"...N-not really, no." Twilight answered. "I asked Utopia about it one time, but he said he didn't know why either." Coming to a realization herself, she then asked, "Wait... are you saying YOU know what the reason is?"

Nodding yes, Kisara answered her, saying, "As I have told you, there is some sort of evil power that is corrupting the Number cards... However, it seems there a few Numbers that cannot be tainted. Numbers that have been blessed with the light of harmony, and as such, no amount of evil can corrupt or control them. In fact, they have the power to dispel the Numbers' corruption. And your Utopia is one of those Numbers."

"I see... so that's why." said Twilight, looking at the ghostly form of her Number.

"So what are these other 'Harmony Numbers', Mrs. K?" asked Pinkie Pie.

"Harmony Numbers?" asked Rarity.

"What? They oughtta have some kind of name that we can call them by, right?" the pink girl pointed out.

"I'm glad you asked, Ms. Pie," Kisara answered her, "because I happen to have them right here with me."

"WHAT?!?" exclaimed the others in complete amazement.

Reaching into a pocket on her shirt, Kisara pulled out seven Duel Monsters cards from out of it and spread them out on A.K. Yearling's desk. "When I found Dragulon, I also obtained these cards with it. But as you can see, they all remain blank."

"Yeah, an' not only that," Applejack said, "but the artwork areas are all colored in!"

"That's right!" Rainbow Dash chimed in. "I remember a while ago, when I saw a blank Number card for the first time, it was all white in the picture. So how come these have different colors?"

"And what's more," Sunset began to ask Kisara, "why are they all still blank? If you've been holding them all this time Mrs. K, they should have already awakened by now."

"That was a mystery that - once again, was solved the day I first saw you and your friends." the teacher answered. "When I first got the cards, I wasn't told of why I had them or what to do with them. But then I came to the conclusion that the reason they haven't awakened yet was because they were not meant for me to use."

"Lemme guess:" Pinkie Pie began to ask her. "You're gonna say that these cards are supposed to be for all of us, right?"

"I believe so, yes." Kisara confirmed with a nod. "I know this because some time ago, I had a visitor come and see me... His name is Dr. Hooves; a.k.a. 'The Number Hunter'."

"The Number Hunter?" asked Sunset in surprise. "You've met with him?"

"...So you know of him as well." said the young teacher. "Interesting." She then told her, "Yes, he did meet with me. He intended to obtain my Numbers in order to further his goals. But when he came to me, I told him everything that I have told you just now and assured him that my goals involving the Numbers are just. After we talked, one of the blank cards began to react to him... That was when I knew that he was part of the Order of Astral as well. Once I knew that, I gave him the card in the hopes that he would unlock its true potential... And I suspect he has done just that."

(So he really is involved in this whole thing...) Sunset confirmed to herself. Speaking to Kisara once more, she asked her, "So... what about us, then? What are we supposed to do with these Number cards?"

"You all must do as The Doctor has done, Ms. Shimmer:" the teacher answered her. "You must unlock the Numbers' powers... And you must do it soon. For I already suspect that the evil force that is collecting and tainting the Numbers is on the rise."

"But how...?" asked Twilight. "There's still so much we don't know about the Astral World or the Numbers..."

"Then perhaps we should move on to the main reason we came here to the museum." said Kisara, standing up. "We will go and see the exhibit that displays all of the relics that are believed to be connected to the Order of Astral." She then turned to A.K. Yearling and asked her, "Will you lead the way?"

"Of course, K... I mean, Kisara." the archeologist replied. She then told the rest of the group, "Come and follow me, everybody!" The others formed a line and followed both Yearling and Kisara to the room they had visited earlier to see the priceless relics that could give them a clue about the mysterious Astral World...

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When the large group returned to the room where Kisara dueled Dr. Caballeron, they saw that - in the short time since they were in Yearling's office, the setup crew had replaced the ancient relics to their original places. Mrs. K and A.K. Yearling then led the group of students through the room, hoping to help them figure out what they needed to do next.

"Wow... they sure did a good job cleaning this place up..." noted Spike, looking around.

"I most certainly agree..." Rarity stated. "It almost makes you forget that a criminal was just here mere moments ago."

"My clean-up crew does a pretty bang-up job when it comes to emergencies like this." Yearling noted. "In fact, it seems like they also did a pretty good job of escorting Caballeron out of the building."

"I still can't believe that jerk's actually a real guy." said Rainbow Dash. "Or that you're the real Daring Do... Does that mean that all of the stuff you did in your books really happened?"

"Well, I do jazz up the stories a little bit... but ONLY a little." the author/archeologist told her. "I base my books on all of the things I discover, the people I meet, the challenges I face - everything." She then turned to Kisara and added, "However, when I told Mrs. K about all of these relics a while ago, she requested that I not tell anyone about them right away; especially not in the form of another novel. At first, I wasn't sure why, but with everything that she's been saying today, I think I'm starting to see why."

"And I thank you for doing that for me, my friend." Kisara said politely. "It is highly important that these relics - and the information that they provide, does not end up in the wrong hands." Stopping in front of a large stone tablet, the young teacher then said to the group, "This is what I want to show you first."

The seven teenage girls (and one puppy) looked at the tablet; it was the one that they had seen on paper before, showing the Emperor's Key symbol in the center of a large, white circle, surrounded by eight smaller circles - each one a different color. Sunset then noticed something else about them. "Hang on..." she began to say. Turning over to Kisara, she asked her, "Mrs. K, can you show us those blank cards again?"

"Of course." the teacher complied, pulling out the seven blank Numbers once more.

"I knew it... the colored-in spots of those cards..." Sunset started to say, "they're the same colors as the circles on that tablet!"

"What? Are you sure??" asked Rarity. Stepping closer, she inspected the tablet and the blank cards more closely. "...I-it's true! They're almost exactly alike!" she then exclaimed.

Twilight was next to look at the tablet with more attention to detail. Like Sunset and Rarity, she also saw that the colors of the cards and the circles on the table matched up nearly perfectly. But that wasn't all that looked familiar to her. (Wait... these colors...) she thought. She then glanced at the blank cards that Kisara was holding onto. (...Blessed with the light of harmony...) she continued to ponder. (...Could it be...?)

"So what does all'o this mean, Mrs. K?" Applejack then asked. "What do those circles on the tablet stand for?"

"These circles represent the governing force within the Order of Astral; those who led their followers to a path of peace and enlightenment." Kisara explained. Pointing to the brown-colored circle, she then said, "It is believed that this circle here represents the order's leader, seeing as how it was placed far up at the top." She then moved her pointer finger to show the two circles just below it - one colored yellow and one colored a dark pink. "It is said that the leader - a High Priest, was assisted by his two faithful High Priestesses, who were personally trained by him."

"He personally trained them?" asked Twilight. That reminded the girl of how Princess Celestia had done the same for both her and Sunset Shimmer, when she had them as her personal students.

"And who was this priest?" asked Sunset. "Is there anything you can tell us about him?"

"Only that he was once an ordinary young man who wandered aimlessly through the world..." said Kisara. "He journeyed through many lands, never staying in one place... He sought for a place to live that was without fear, pain, or wickedness... But he could not find such a place. Everywhere he went, he could only see the maliciousness of man and became disheartened... And so he continued his journey, completely alone..."

"That sounds so sad..." noted Fluttershy.

Looking at the tablet once more, Kisara continued her story, telling them, "According to manuscripts, it is believed that one day - when it seemed to him that his journey was meaningless and without purpose, he wandered into a desolate land, void of any sign of life. He rested there, thinking that he would never find what he had been searching for... And then, something wonderful happened..."

The others moved in closer to hear what she had to say.

"He didn't know if it was real or if it was a dream," the teacher told them, "but that night, in the middle of that wasteland, he saw something truly breathtaking: He saw a beautiful world, a glorious world... It was pure, untainted by human failings, a place where not even a speck of evil existed. The last thing he heard before this vision disappeared... were the words, 'Asutoraru Sekai'."

"Hey! Ah remember hearin' those words before...!" Applejack pointed out. "Zecora told us that when we saw her last, remember?" Indeed, the others did remember that (except for Twilight; she wasn't there at the time, so Sunset explained what Applejack was talking about to her).

"When he regained his senses, the young man could not stop thinking about that beautiful world from his vision." Mrs. K told them next. "He then came to the conclusion that this world - which he came to call the Astral World, was the place he was searching for: A perfect utopia. The ancient text goes on to say that he devoted his life to finding a way to enter the Astral World, as well as seeking out other people who could help him reach it. Thus, the Order of Astral was formed."

"So that's how it all started...?" asked Sunset.

"So, how does someone get to be part of the Order of Astral?" asked Rarity. "What must they do?"

"Those in the Order of Astral must train themselves in mind, body and spirit and rid themselves of their negative emotions: Jealousy, anger, greed... all of the most wicked thoughts in a person must be dispelled for one to bear witness to the Astral World." Kisara explained. "Those who can do that are considered to have 'Ranked-Up' their very spirit, and have achieved a higher state of being. The leader of the Order of Astral eventually perfected this training upon himself and obtained this state. And from there, he decided to grant this knowledge to any others that truly wished it. He allowed anyone to come to him and become part of the order: Race, religion, financial status... those things and others did not matter. All that the High Priest was concerned with was the strength of their spirit."

"That sounds so wonderful..." said Pinkie Pie. "And to think; we were part of something like that!"

"Now don't get ahead of yourself, Pinks..." Rainbow Dash told her. "We haven't proved anything 'bout that yet."

"Yeah, but ya gotta admit;" the pink girl told her friend, "Sunnie's key necklace that looks like the picture on that tablet... The blank Number cards... The people that look like us on that picture... If all of that's just one big coinky-dink Dashie, then this is gonna be a pretty anti-climactic story!"

Scratching her head a little, Rainbow then told her, "Yeesh... you're a tough one to argue with, Pinkie; mostly 'cause I don't know how t' respond to that."

Looking over at the girls, Kisara then told them all, "I know some of you are still skeptical about all that I have told you today, but hopefully, you will come to fully believe my words in time." Holding up the seven blank cards, the young teacher then walked over to Sunset Shimmer and told her, "I entrust these Numbers to your care, Ms. Shimmer."

"You're... giving them to me?" asked the red-and-yellow girl. Looking at the cards for a moment, she hesitated, remembering the Number cards that had been planted on other people, such as on Vinyl Scratch and Mulia Mild, as well as the attempted possessions on both Twilight and Sweetie Belle.

Sensing her uneasiness, Kisara told the girl, "There is nothing to fear, Ms. Shimmer. These cards do not posses any evil intent... I'm sure you can sense it yourself."

Hearing that, Sunset held her Emperor's Key necklace up to the cards. The key began to glow for a moment, but other than that, nothing else happened. "...You're right..." she said. "These aren't like the others that I've seen. I can't feel anything bad coming off of them." Convinced that the cards were not evil, Sunset held out her hand, and Kisara placed the blank Numbers in the teen's palm. Sunset then looked at the cards and asked her teacher, "So... now what? How do I awaken these cards?"

"That I cannot say." Kisara told her. "What I can say is that the Numbers will reveal themselves soon enough."

"Oh boy, it's one of these 'when the time comes, you'll know' deals..." said Pinkie Pie.

"For now, though," said Mrs. K. "hold onto those cards and tell no one else about them. That goes for the rest of you as well." The girls nodded to say that they would keep that promise. From that point, the rest of the day was spent looking around the Pranceton Museum. But even as they casually enjoyed their day, each of the girls thought about what their history teacher had told to them about the Order of Astral and what might be expected of them in the future...

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Sometime after they had gotten back from their field trip, Sunset, Twilight, and their friends all decided to spend some more time together to discuss what had happened that day. They all agreed to meet up at Sunset's apartment to talk about everything and what they should do next. When they arrived at the building and entered Sunset's home, the seven girls all sat down at the dining table to talk with one another. Spike popped out of Twilight's backpack and seated himself on the table itself, right next to the young Princess.

"I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say that I certainly didn't expect anything like what we saw and heard at the museum." stated Sunset.

"Y'all can say that again, Sunset." Applejack agreed. "Even I'm havin' a hard time believin' that any of it's true 'r not."

"Yeah, I mean when's the last time anybody's ever heard that they had a past life all the way back three thousand years ago?" Pinkie asked.

"Not often, I can imagine." Rarity replied. "To think that we've all lived full lives here once before... It doesn't seem possible..."

"But what if it IS true...?" Fluttershy inquired with her usual meek attitude. "I mean... all of those things Mrs. K showed us... those ancient drawings that look just like us... It all seems to fit perfectly... Oh, I hope you don't think I'm crazy for thinking any of this..."

"Hey, it's no big deal, Fluttershy." said Rainbow Dash, giving her a calming pat on the back. "I'll admit, I didn't believe it at first... But to be honest, I kinda hope it's all true. It's cool to think that we were part of somethin' big in the past."

"But if it IS all true, and we are all reincarnated souls like Mrs. K said," Twilight began to say, "then why is it that Sunset and I were sent to Equestria and not this world? I'm sure there's some reason, but I can't even begin to think about what it could be..."

"Well, the important thing is that we're all here now, Twilight." Sunset pointed out. "And that means we can figure this all out together. No matter what we were or what we'll be later on, we'll always help each other out one way or another."

Twilight smiled and nodded, saying, "You're right, Sunset. We'll figure this all out somehow. Just like with my friends back in my own world, we'll get through this as a team!" That statement - particularly the part where she mentioned her Equestrian friends, caused Twilight to gasp in surprise. "Wait! I've got it!"

"Um, got what exactly?" asked Spike.

Looking back over to Sunset, she asked her, "Can you pull out those cards that Mrs. K gave you?"

"Uh... sure, Twilight. Here." said the red-and-yellow girl, taking the blank cards out of her Deck Box. She then spread them out onto the table so that everyone could see them.

After looking at the cards again, and recalling the tablet that Kisara had shown them back at the museum, Twilight was able to figure something out. "Just as I thought...!" Turning over to her puppy assistant, she asked him, "Spike, do you notice anything... familiar about the colors of these cards?"

The dragon-turned-dog inspected the cards and hummed a little. "Well... now that you mention it, it does seem like I've seen these colors already, but from where?"

"I'll tell you:" said the Princess of Friendship. She then cleared her throat and told everyone, "Back at the museum, Mrs. K told us that the some of the Number cards were immune to being corrupted by the evil power that had already consumed some of the other Numbers... She said that these Number cards were 'blessed with the light of harmony' - such as my Utopia card, and that prevented them from becoming tainted like the other cards. And then when I saw these blank Numbers, it all came together for me."

"So spill it: What'd ya figure out?" asked Rainbow Dash impatiently.

Twilight then crossed her arms in front of her chest and said, "These cards are the same colors... as the most treasured items back in Equestria: The Elements of Harmony!"

This caused everyone in the room to gasp in shock. "The Elements of Harmony?!" asked Sunset. "Like the crown that I... um... brought here, so to speak?" Twilight nodded yes in response.

"So... what you're sayin' is that these cards are... They're supposed to be like those Element-things back in your world?" asked Applejack.

"That's what I've come to believe." stated the purple girl. "And if that's true, then not only does Mrs. K's story about us have merit, but it also means that I know exactly who each of these cards belongs to!"

"Wow, you're serious?!" asked Rainbow Dash. "That's awesome!!"

"Well, what'd you expect?" asked Spike a bit smugly. "Twlight's the smartest one I know. Who else but her could figure it all out so fast?"

Sunset seemed just as impressed by how her friend managed to come to such a brilliant deduction like it was nothing. But when she looked at the cards again, she asked her otherworldly friend, "Hold on... According to Princess Celestia, there are only supposed to be SIX Elements... But Mrs. K had eight of these cards. One of them went to that Dr. Hooves guy, and we're left with these seven..."

"Exactly." Twilight told her. "But if my theory is correct, I'll know to whom six of these cards will go to. Which means that whichever card is left afterwards is likely to be yours. A simple matter of process of elimination."

"I guess that makes sense to me." the red-and-yellow girl replied, seeing the logic in her friend's words.

"So... um... not to rush you or anything, but..." Fluttershy began to say, "which cards do we get?"

Picking up the orange-colored card first, Twilight said, "This card is colored just like the Element of Honesty. That means it goes to you, Applejack." She then presented it to her orange-skinned friend.

"Sure, I'll believe that. Thanks, Twi." Applejack said, taking the card from her.

Twilight then looked for the red-colored card and picked it up off the table. "This card has the same color as the Element of Loyalty." Presenting the card to whom she believed was its rightful owner, she told her, "Rainbow Dash, this card's for you."

"Thanks. I'll take it!" said the cyan-skinned girl, quickly taking the card.

"Rarity, I think this card is yours." said the Princess of Friendship, placing the violet-colored Number in front of the purple-haired teen. "Its color is similar to that of the Element of Generosity."

"Um... thank you, Twilight." said the fashionista, looking at the card in front of her.

Picking up the pink card next, Twilight then turned over to Fluttershy and told her, "I think this card is for you; it has the same color as the Element of Kindness." The yellow girl said nothing, but smiled as she received the card from her friend. Twilight then reached for the blue-colored card and stated, "And this card is colored the same as the Element of Laughter."

"And I'll bet it's for me, right Twilight?" Pinkie guessed.

"That's right, Pinkie." the young Princess confirmed, handing the card over to the silly pink girl. Taking the magenta-colored card next, she said, "This one's color is like the Element of Magic, so I'm pretty sure that it's for me." After placing the card in her deck box, she then took the yellow-colored card and said to Sunset, "Which means that - since this is the only card left, this one must belong to you." Sunset took the card into her hand and stared at it, thinking about the different virtues that each of her friends' cards supposedly represented. She then wondered what hers was supposed to symbolize...

"Hey, what gives?" asked Rainbow Dash, looking at her card with a puzzled look on her face. "Why ain't this card doin' anything? I thought the Number cards're supposed to fill in all the blank parts after someone holds it!" She tried shaking it a bit to try and get it to work, but nothing happened.

"Yeah... doesn't this kinda contradict what's already been established in the story so far?" asked Pinkie. "Including what this is all based off of?"

"Well, don't forget..." Rarity began to explain. "Mrs. K had all of these cards for some time, and they haven't activated in her hands either. I think that... that we probably have to fulfill some other requirement first before these cards take on any sort of form..."

Noticing something, Applejack then asked the fashionista, "Hey, Rare... how come y'all haven't touched that card yet?"

"Who, me?" asked the purple-haired girl. "Um... well, it's just that I... um, well... I..."

"...Is it because of what happened with your other Number card?" asked Fluttershy.

Rarity gave out a sigh, feeling a little too embarrassed to admit it. But she sighed as she looked down at the card, telling her shy friend, "...It is."

"...I'm... I'm sorry if I made you feel bad, Rarity." the shy girl apologized. "I just..."

"It is alright, Fluttershy dear..." the fashionable teen told her. "I know you didn't mean to make me feel sad... But it's true: Ever since I was possessed by that Number card at the Fall Formal, I've... I've sort of become... afraid of those cards... I am so mortified by it all..."

"Hey... it's alright, Rarity." Sunset told her. "You don't have to feel bad for feeling that way. I can only imagine just how horrible it was for you when you got taken over by that card. I don't blame you for feeling even a little bit scared of them after something like that..."

"Thank you, Sunset..." Rarity told her. "That makes me feel a little better. Even so, I still blame myself for doing something so foolish by picking up that card in the first place... I know you've told me that what happened at the Formal wasn't my fault, but I still feel like I'm to blame for at least some of it..." Everyone felt sorry for Rarity for what had happened to her. For a while, no one said anything.

After a while, Spike - who always deeply cared for Rarity (any version of her), walked over to her and said, "I know how ya feel... I'll admit, I've... I've done a few things I'm not really proud of either; stuff that I never thought I could forgive myself for. Like one time - on my birthday, after I got a few nice presents from my friends, I started getting greedy... Before I knew it, I ended up with so much stuff, I didn't know what to do with it all... In fact, it got so bad, I ended up turning into a monster."

"A monster?" asked Rarity. "As in you started taking things from others and you couldn't control yourself?"

"Well... that and I also LITERALLY turned into a monster." he told her, sweating a little. Twilight then explained to them how, in her world, greed causes a dragon to grow in size and power. Spike then continued his story, telling Rarity, "I almost destroyed all of Ponyville... But someone helped me snap out of it. That someone was you... as in, the you from my world."

"Really, Spike?" asked the fashionista, a little surprised to hear that.

The little puppy nodded and told her, "I felt really bad about the whole thing, about how I acted. For a while, I hated myself for causing all of that trouble." Looking over at a smiling Twilight, he added, "But my friends understood how I felt and helped me get through it all. In one way, I'm kinda glad that it all happened... Because now that it has, I've learned to be an even better friend - and a better person as a result."

"Spike makes a pretty good point, Rarity." Sunset spoke up next. "After all, I'm sure you remember just how bad I used to be in the past, and how I used to hate who I was because of it all. The point we're trying to make here is that if we can forgive ourselves for our past mistakes, so can you. Otherwise, that fear and self-loathing might cause you problems later on. We know you too well to dwell on something like what happened at the Formal forever, Rarity... I know it'll be hard, but you've got to try and get past it. Otherwise, it'll haunt you for the rest of your life..." As she said that, her necklace began to glow a little, but no one noticed it.

The purple-haired girl thought about everyone's words for a while, smiled, and said, "I truly appreciate what you said to me, and I will do my best to try and overcome my issues." Looking at the Number card, she then added, "Still, I don't feel comfortable taking this card yet..."

"I could hold onto it for you, if you want." Spike suggested.

"Are you sure about that, Spike?" asked Twilight.

"No problem!" the little puppy assured her. "The Number card hasn't reacted to anyone yet, so I'm... pretty sure I'll be okay!" That being said, when he looked at the card, he hesitated a little before slowly bring his right paw down. In an effort to get it over with, he quickly slammed it down onto the card, closing his eyes and sweating a bit. After he noticed that nothing had happened, Spike slowly opened his eyes and looked at the Number, still blank. "S-see? What'd I tell you?" he said, still sweating a bit.

Twilight giggled a bit and picked up the puppy. "Spike and I will hold onto your Number card for now, if that's okay with you." she told Rarity.

"That will suffice, I suppose." the fashionable girl replied.

Just then, Rainbow Dash heard a faint buzzing sound coming from the table in the living room; the one in front of the TV. Looking over, she saw that the noise was coming from a cell phone that had been placed there earlier. "Uh, Sunset?" she began to say, "I think your phone's ringin'."

"My phone?" asked the red-and-yellow girl, a bit surprised. "Odd... I wasn't expecting a call today. Better not be another one of those stupid robo-calls, I swear to Celestia..." Sunset then walked over to the table and picked up the phone, looking at the name that the Caller ID showed. "Hm? Hold on... This call IS from Celestia...!"

"Celestia?" asked Applejack. "What's the principal callin' ya for, Sunset?"

"Usually she calls to check on how I'm doing here at the apartment, since she and Luna are helping cover my rent." she answered. "But she usually only does that on a Monday, and that was yesterday. So I have no idea what she wants."

"Well, answer it and find out, then." suggested Rarity, curious as to why CHS's principal was calling.

Sunset nodded and swiped her finger across the phone to accept the call. "Principal Celestia? It's me, Sunset..." she spoke to her. "...I'm doing fine, just as I said yesterday. So what's up? You usually don't call me at this time... Hm? You need my help with something?"

"What is it?" asked Rainbow Dash. "What're ya talking about?"

"Hold on, Dash..." said Sunset, raising her pointer finger to tell her friend to wait a moment. She then asked Celestia on the phone, "Do you mind if I put you on speaker phone, or is this something personal...? Okay, cool. Just give me a minute." The red-and-yellow girl then tapped her phone a few times before setting it in the center of the table where she and her friends were sitting. Sunset then asked, "Can you hear me, Principal Celestia?"

"I can hear you just fine, Ms. Shimmer." said the principal's voice on the other end.

"Hi, Principal Celestia!! It's me, Pinkie!!" said the enthusiastic pink girl. "How are ya?!"

"I'm doing just fine, thank you." said Celestia with a slight giggle. "How did you enjoy your trip to the Pranceton Museum?"

"Well... I can say that we'll never forget it anytime soon." stated Fluttershy.

"How are things on your end?" asked Twilight. "By that, I mean the repairs at the school?"

"Don't worry, Ms. Sparkle. Everything went just fine." the principal stated. "My sister had told me that the repairs to the water pipes went perfectly, so we'll be able to open our doors tomorrow."

"That's great!" said Twilight, happy to hear that the school would be open again.

"Yeah, woo-hoo..." Dash chimed in, but not sounding nearly as ecstatic about it as her friend did.

Clearing her throat a little, Sunset then asked, "So, um... Principal Celestia? What was it you needed from me? You said that you wanted me to help you with something...?"

"I did." Celestia answered. "And it's a very important matter." She then told everyone, "As I'm sure all of you know, next month, Canterlot City will play host to a major event: The Duel Monsters World Championship Qualifiers."

"The WCQ's?!" exclaimed Rainbow Dash. "No kidding? Our city's holding it this year?!"

"You kiddin' me, Dash?" asked Applejack. "Ah'd have thought y'all would've known about it already! It was only the biggest news on the Internet!"

"I was busy the whole week, AJ!" the cyan teen rebutted. "I was helping Scootaloo get used to the new scooter that Cheese Sandwich gave to her."

"I didn't hear about it either..." Fluttershy admitted. "The nature park we were at didn't have Wi-Fi outside of the main office, so I wasn't able to read about it..."

Not sure what they were talking about, Twilight asked her friend, "Um, Sunset...? What's a World Championship Qualifier?"

"Well, Twilight..." the red-and-yellow girl began to explain to her, "The Duel Monsters World Chamionship is the biggest tournament of the year, where Duelists from all over the world compete with each other to determine who is the greatest... at least for that year, of course. The World Chamionship Qualifiers - or WCQ's for short, is a three-day, invitation-only event where Duelists compete for a chance to represent our continent at the World Championship."

"Sounds like a pretty big deal, huh?" asked Spike.

"To be admitted to compete in a tournament that determines the best Duelist in the whole world... It certainly IS a big deal, Spike." Sunset told him.

"Have you ever gotten to compete in one of those Tournaments, Sunset?" asked Twilight.

"Actually, I did get into the WCQ's last year after I won the Regionals." Sunset answered. "But it was pretty tough, and unfortunately, I only made top eight."

"That's still not bad, considering that you were up against a lot of other skilled players." Twilight told her. "I doubt I'd be able to get that far at my current level."

"Hey, don't go sellin' yourself short, Twilight!" Pinkie told her purple friend. "You're an amazing Duelist! You even beat Trixie, remember? She was in the Regionals too, and you managed to win against her like you've been playing Duel Monsters your whole life!"

"I guess you're right..." the young Princess responded, blushing a bit.

"Pinkie's right." Rainbow Dash said next. "Even when we dueled, I could tell that you had some serious skills, even though ya didn't win against me. I think you'd do awesome at a WCQ Tournament if ya gave it a try!"

"You might be right..." Twilight told her. "But right now, I just want to focus on Dueling to get those Number cards back."

"Fair enough." said Sunset, understanding her friend's feelings. Looking back over to the phone on the table, she then asked, "So, what is about the WCQ's that you need my help with, Principal Celestia? What does it have to do with why you called me?"

"It has everything to do with it, Ms. Shimmer." Celestia told her. "As I've stated before, the World Championship Qualifiers begin next month. But this month, we will be hosting a tournament this weekend to determine who will represent Canterlot City at the WCQ's."

"A tournament?" asked Sunset. "To choose a representative for the WCQ's?"

"So basically, it's a qualifiers for THE Qualifiers, right?" asked Pinkie with a giggle.

"I suppose that's what it could be called." said the principal. "Industrial Illusions sent out invitations to all of the other Duelists competing in the WCQ's. All of the invitations had been issued out... except for one. That one is meant to given to someone in our city, but they hadn't yet figured out who it will go to."

"So that's it..." Rarity figured out. "That's what this tournament is for: To find out who will get that invitation!"

"That's correct, Ms. Rarity." confirmed Celestia. "In fact, the idea for this 'qualifier qualification' tournament came straight from Industrial Illusions themselves: I was contacted by them through email yesterday, since they knew that I was a former Pro Duelist that lived in the area."

Sunset then recalled that Vice Principal Luna had mentioned that Celestia had some "other important work" to do that prevented her from supervising the repairs at the school. The jacket-wearing teen figured out that this must have been what Celestia was doing at the time. "So, what does this have to do with me then?" she then asked the principal. "I still don't understand what this is all about... I mean, if you wanted me to join the tournament, that won't be possible: Since I competed last year, I can't go to the WCQ's this year."

"Sunnie's right!" Pinkie then told her. "I mean, I don't know how WCQ's work in any other world, but that's how it is in this one!"

"I'm well aware of that. However, I'm not asking you to join the tournament as a contestant, Ms. Shimmer." Celestia told her. "I want you there... as an official Judge."

"A-a-a-a... A JUDGE?! Me?!" asked Sunset in shock.

"No way!! Is that true?!" Rarity inquired. "You want Sunset to be the Judge for the tournament??"

"I do indeed." Celestia told them. "I spoke to the person who contacted me about the tournament, and I recommended you to him to take the Judge Certification Test. And he agreed to give you that opportunity."

"Wow... that's incredible!" said the red-and-yellow girl, not believing what she had heard. "Me... an official Judge! Me!"

"Um, what's a Judge?" asked Twilight.

"Well, t' put it in the simplest way," Rainbow Dash began to explain, "a Judge is sort of like the referee at sporting events. Their job is to enforce the rules at official tournaments and make sure that everybody's playin' fair."

"Oh, I get it!" said the Princess of Friendship, understanding the idea.

"The Judge is usually there t' do all sortsa things at a tournament." Applejack said, continuing the explanation. "Things like settlin' disputes over what cards do what, as well as helpin' set up an' organize a tournament."

"And if necessary, they also have the authority to disqualify anyone that they believe have knowingly broken the rules of the game or the tournament guidelines." Rarity chimed in.

"Wow... it all sounds pretty important..." said Spike. "So how do you get to be a Judge?"

"You have to take a test, both online and with an official." stated Sunset. "I've heard the test is tough, and it requires you to have extensive knowledge of the card game, among other things."

"I know first-hand that the Certification Test isn't an easy one, as I have taken it myself during my time as a Pro Duelist." Celestia told her. "However, I feel that you will have no trouble passing it. You have become a fine Duelist, as well as a fine person overall, Ms. Shimmer."

"I guess I have..." said Sunset. She then asked, "But, Principal Celestia... if you're an official Judge, then how come you want me to take the test and be the Judge for this tournament instead?"

"Well... there is ONE reason why I asked this of you." the principal told her, sounding a bit more somber in her voice. "This tournament will attract a lot of Duelists from in and around the city... And there is a possibility that some of those Duelists might be holding Number cards."

"You really think that could happen?" asked Twilight.

"I'm almost certain of it." stated Celestia. "And based on what we've witnessed so far, if a Number user were to enter the tournament, I fear that person could end up causing a disaster for the other competing Duelists."

"...I understand." said Sunset, figuring it all out. "That's why you want me to be the tournament Judge. So if someone with a Number DOES show up, I can deal with it... Is that right?"

"It is, Ms. Shimmer." said the principal. "I know I am asking a lot out of you right now, but I truly need your help in order to make sure that the tournament goes smoothly. If something went wrong - depending on how bad it is, there's a chance we may never be able to host another major tournament ever again. To put a long story short, the reputations of this city and the people in it are resting on your shoulders, Ms. Shimmer. Knowing all of that... I don't blame you if you refuse my request, as it is quite a hefty one. But I will ask: Will you take the Certification Test and be the official Judge for the upcoming tournament?"

Even after hearing everything that Celestia asked of her, the decision was easy for the otherworldly girl. "Of course I'll do it!" Sunset answered. "I'll take the test and become an official Judge!"

"You serious, Sunset?" asked Rainbow Dash. She and the others were a bit surprised to hear their friend come to a decision like this so quickly.

"You bet I am, Rainbow." the red-and-yellow girl told her. "You heard what the principal said: This city's depending on me to make sure the tournament goes without a hitch. And if a Number user gets involved, I have to be there to deal with them. This is something that I have to do... AND want to do!"

"That's right, Sunset!" Twilight said, supporting her friend's decision. "I'm with you all the way on this! I know you'll pass that test and become a great Judge! And I know you'll make sure that everyone in the tournament will be able to compete without any worries!"

"That goes for me, too!" Spike told her with confidence in his voice.

"Same for us!" said Pinkie, as she and her friends agreed to support her as well.

Happy to know that everyone in the room had so much faith and support for her, Sunset wiped a small tear from her eye and said, "Thanks everybody... Seriously, thank you all. With all of you by my side, I know I won't let anyone down! I'll pass that test and become the tournament Judge!"

"Thank you very much, Ms. Shimmer." Celestia told her in a pleased tone. "I'm very proud of you for taking up such a big responsibility. Tomorrow, after school is done, I want you to come to my office; there, the official from Industrial Illusions will meet with you, and you can begin the test right away. Do you understand?"

"I understand, Principal Celestia." Sunset replied. "Don't worry; I'll be there."

"Then I will see all of you tomorrow." said Celestia. "Until then, have a pleasant night, everyone."

"You too." said the red-and-yellow girl. "Goodbye." She then tapped on her phone to end the call. Sighing a bit, she then said to her friends, "Well, I guess I'd better get started studying for the Certification Test... Think you could help me with it, Twilight?"

"Help you?" asked the young Princess. "But you know way more about Duel Monsters than I do; what could I possibly help you study for that you don't already know?"

"I'm sure you'll be able to help me, Twilight." Sunset told her. "Admittedly, I just really need someone to be there with me while I'm knee-deep in my study sessions. Seeing as how you're one of the most organized people I know, you'd be great at helping me out with all sorts of things... Like helping me focus, arranging all of my information neatly, stuff like that."

"I see." Twilight replied, understanding everything Sunset told her. "Don't worry, I'll help you out as much as I can. In fact, it might be good practice in case I get to have a personal student like Celestia did with me."

"Exactly! It'll be a learning experience for us both!" Sunset pointed out.

"Sounds like y'allre gonna have quite a busy night." stated Applejack. "In that case, we'd better take our leave so y'all can focus better. We'll see ya at school tomorrow."

"Yeah, see ya guys later!" Rainbow Dash said as she and the others got up out of their chairs, preparing to go to their respective homes.

"Oh! Before you leave," Sunset spoke up, "I'm just curious: Are any of you thinking about joining the tournament?"

"Um... I'm not sure yet if I want to join, to be honest." Rarity answered her. Fluttershy said nothing, but hummed a bit to herself in deep thought.

"Yeah, neither am I." Pinkie added. "Don't get me wrong: I'd love to give it a try, but there's a chance that someone else would really, really, really, really want to be a part of it, and I wouldn't want them to miss out on it."

"I ain't really into big competitions, really." Applejack admitted. "I'm more of what ya call, a 'casual player'."

"And I need some more time to practice with my new Formula Athlete Deck a few more times." said Rainbow Dash. "So, for now, I think I'll pass..."

"Well, if any of you do enter, I'd like to hear about it." Sunset told them.

"We'll let ya know if we do." Applejack promised her. "Y'all have a good night, then."

"Good night to all of you, too." Twilight told them. "We'll see you tomorrow." The other girls nodded and left through the door. Once they left, the purple girl then turned to Sunset, smiled and told her, "Alright, we'd better get started, Sunset. We've got a lot of studying to do if you're going to pass that test!"

"Right. Let's do it!" said Sunset, eager to get started.

For the rest of that day, Twilight and Spike helped their friend study for the Certification Test as best as they could. They looked over all of the necessary information and quizzed each other on said information. By the time they had finished, it was just a little past 11 o ' clock, and the three of them decided that they had better get some rest so that they would be recharged by tomorrow. Spike remained on the living room couch, while Sunset and Twilight went into the bedroom to get some well-deserved Z's.

Even as they both slept peacefully, their minds were still functioning. In fact, as Sunset snoozed away, images began to appear in her mind. The same was true for Twilight as well...

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

The sun had just risen on another brand-new day. However, it was not in Canterlot City. In fact, the area that had just received the light of the sun was not a city or a town at all: It was a large temple hidden away in the mountains, far away from most civilizations. However, that didn't mean that it was deserted; far from it. Many people - young and old and clad in white robes, could be seen everywhere; Walking, talking, laughing and playing. Everything about this place and the people in it was soothing and peaceful. Such was the nature of the temple that was home to the Order of Astral.

Stepping out of the temple was a young teenage girl with purple skin and hair: Her name was Spakah, one of the Order of Astral's High Priestesses. She stepped out in front of the temple entrance, her gold crown bearing the Emperor's Key symbol shining in the sunlight. Spakah looked around at all of the people outside and smiled. "This truly is a beautiful place..." she said to herself. "A true utopia: No fear, no hatred, and no pain... I hope that one day, we could spread such serenity throughout the whole world as well."

Spakah then looked around a little and noticed something peculiar. "...Strange... Where is Sun'Et...?" she asked herself. "I thought that I would have seen her by now..." Glancing around, she then noticed a girl that was her age walking by; she had grey skin, blonde hair, and yellow eyes, and she wore a white, toga-like robe. Recalling that this girl did some work in the temple, she wondered if she knew anything about her friend. "Excuse me...!" Spakah called out as she ran over to her. "Have you seen Priestess Sun'Et? I have not been able to find her today."

"Priestess Sun'Et?" asked the grey-skinned girl. "Oh! Yes I have! I... I think I saw her heading to the fountain!"

"The fountain?" asked Spakah. "I wonder why she went there...?" Smiling, she then told the helpful girl, "In that case, that is where I shall go. Thank you for your help."

"You're welcome, Ms. High Priestess!" said the grey teen, waving to her.

Spakah spent the next minute or so walking to the spot that the grey girl had mentioned. Eventually, she came to the large, grassy clearing where the fountain was. The fountain was made up of a small pool of water, which came out of a spout-like structure that was erected in the center of it. Along the sides of the fountain pool were what appeared to be words written in Astral Glyphs - the language of the Astral World. Spakah looked over to the side and - sure enough, her friend and fellow High Priestess Sun'Et was there. The red-and-yellow girl was kneeling in front of the fountain, looking at her own reflection in the rippling water.

"S...Sun'Et?" Spakah asked sheepishly, wondering if her friend was busy with something.

Hearing the voice, Sun'Et looked behind her and saw who it was. "Spakah? What are you doing here...?" she asked her.

"I was... looking for you, actually." the purple girl answered. "Am I interrupting anything?"

"...Not really, no." Sun'Et responded. "Just thinking about some things..."

"Like what? Could you tell me?"

Sun'Et thought for a few seconds about her friend's request. After that, she smiled and told her, "Sure. That's okay with me." Getting up off her knees and sitting on the edge of the fountain, she then requested her friend, "Come. Sit here next to me." Spakah smiled back and did just that. For a few seconds, neither one of them said a word to the other. Then, Sun'Et spoke up and said, "It's been two days... Two days since Master Daviten gave us that request of his."

"I know, Sun'Et..." Spakah replied. "Soon, we'll be travelling around again, just like when he had asked us to locate that temple some time ago. And our goal will be to enlist new members into the Order of Astral; people with souls as powerful as ours and our Master's, to be trained as High Priests and High Priestesses..."

"I am not sure why he asked us to do this," the red-and-yellow girl admitted, "but if that is what our Master wishes, then I am certain that it is only for a good reason. And for that reason - whatever it may be, we must do our best for him." Sighing a little, she then said to her friend, "This reminds me of when we underwent the training to become High Priestesses ourselves... It was during that time that we had first met."

"I remember, Sun'Et." Spakah said, removing her crown and staring at it. "I remember that Master Daviten chose me to undergo the training at the request of my mother and father. They had told him that I was exceptionally brilliant for my age, and feared that my gift would go to waste if I were to remain in my birth town."

"That was the same for me." said Sun'Et, looking at her Emporer's Key necklace. "For a long time, I knew not of how he was aware of how smart I was and how he knew where to find me... Perhaps he may have foreseen our destinies within the order, and that is why he knew to send for us?"

"Perhaps that may be so..." the purple girl said, agreeing with her. She then added, "What I do know is that after we were brought here to the temple, our training began immediately. That was when we first met each other... Unfortunately, things between us back then were... rough, to put it mildly."

Sun'Et sighed a bit, saying, "I know... During our training, we were far ahead of all of the others. But I was always one step behind you. I am ashamed to say it, but... I began to harbor feelings of jealousy towards you at that time. No matter what I did, I wasn't able to surpass you. To think that I actually despised you over something as trivial as that..." Spakah put her hand on her friend's shoulder to help comfort her while she talked about her past troubles. "My envy towards you began to affect my studies, and I began to start falling behind..." the red-and-yellow girl continued. "Our Master noticed this and told me of it, which only made me even more frustrated..."

"I remember..." said Spakah. "I overheard what our Master said to you after our lessons that day, and after we left for our quarters, I rushed over to you and asked if you needed help with anything... And then-"

"I know..." said Sun'Et, interrupting the purple girl's words, as she felt that she needed to say this herself. "When you spoke to me, I snapped at you... I said some things to you that... well, I would rather not repeat what I said for a number of reasons. I then ran off in frustration, thinking that you were being condescending with your words... But that wasn't it, was it?"

After a brief pause, Spakah then said to her, "If it makes you feel any better, I wasn't hurt by what you said to me. Startled, maybe... but not hurt. It was then that I knew what was going on... and I knew that I had to help you somehow. So I followed you, and I found you sitting right at this very fountain, with the saddest face I had ever seen..."

"When I saw you walking towards me, I went on the defensive again and tried to keep you away." Sun'Et told her. "But as you spoke to me, and told me that you really wanted to try and help me improve on my studies... I then realized that you weren't trying to outdo me during our training. You weren't even aware that I was envious towards you. You were just doing your best, like all of the others... And like what I should have been doing..." Wiping a small tear from her eye, she finished, saying, "I guess deep down, I always knew that, but my pride got the better of me..."

"But then things got better, remember?" asked Spakah. "After that talk we had, we started working together more closely. We became the most accomplished students out of everyone else. And after that, Master Daviten had us both officially recognized as High Priestesses together."

"And I owe it all to you, my friend." said Sun'Et. "Even after the way I had treated you, you still wanted to help me pass the training. I would never have become a High Priestess if it wasn't for you."

But Spakah shook her head and told her, "You made that come true on your own. It was you who realized that we in the Order of Astral must work as one to achieve our ideals. None of us are in this all by ourselves; something that I also realized that day as well. Up until that point, I never thought I needed anyone's help to become a High Priestess. But through working together with you, we both did much better than either us could do on our own. And I think that was what our Master was trying to teach us during our training..."

"I think so too, Spakah." said Sun'Et, managing to smile after all of that. "Because of our support for each other, we finally became High Priestesses... But more importantly, we got to become friends. And I believe that's even better."

"You really think so, Sun'Et?" asked the purple girl, feeling warm inside just hearing her say that. "Because I feel exactly the same way. And I hope that we'll be able to find other people that will do just as well as we did and pass that training. And with the bond we have together, I know we will make Master Daviten proud!"

"You're right, Spakah." agreed Sun'Et. "We must do our best to help the Order of Astral become stronger, so that we can continue to help those who need it, and create the world our Master always wished for. It may seem like a tall order, but we can do it!"

Spakah nodded in agreement, happy to see her friend in a better mood. She then asked her, "So... I must ask: Is that the reason you came to the fountain, Sun'Et? Because our Master's request for us brought back those past memories?"

"Well, that was one of the reasons." the red-and-yellow girl told her. "But I was also thinking of something else..." Her friend listened to hear what it was that Sun'Et had on her mind. "Spakah... do you recall one of the lessons our Master taught to us? About the nature of the souls that reside in the Astral World?" she then asked.

"Yes..." Spakah replied. "Which one exactly?"

"According to our Master," Sun'Et began, "when our physical bodies perish, our souls move on to the next life. He says that those who have sufficiently Ranked-Up their spirits will enter the Astral World. From that point on, they will reside there for all eternity." She then looked at her necklace again and added, "However, there is also the chance that souls within the Astral World could very well return to the living world, reborn in new bodies if the powers that be will it to be so for one reason or another."

"That's right. Our Master did say that." Spakah stated. "However, even he is not completely sure exactly how it works or why it happens, if it happens at all."

"...Back when I was jealous of you... back when I harbored hatred towards you during our training..." the red-and-yellow girl continued, "those are feelings that I never want to have in my heart... However, if what our Master says is true, and we can be reincarnated... I fear that those feelings could very well return and haunt me once again." Clenching the Emporer's Key in her fist, she then turned over to Spakah and asked her, "I want you to promise me something, my friend..."

"Promise something?" asked the purple girl, unsure of where this was going.

"If... if we do come back to this world in the future," Sun'Et told her, "and if those feelings of darkness threaten to lead me astray again... Do whatever it takes to lead me back into the light. WHATEVER it takes."

"...Of course I would do that, Sun'Et." Spakah told her. She then asked, "But... but if we are reborn, will we even remember that promise?"

"I'm not sure, to be honest..." the red-and-yellow girl admitted solemnly. "But I hope that we will... somehow..." She then asked her friend, "In any case... will you do that for me? Will you try to help me stay on the path of light?"

"I will, my friend. I promise I will." said Spakah with a nod. The two smiled at each other and gave the other a comforting hug to cement their promise.

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Present Day:
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The next morning came with both Sunset and Twilight waking up as usual. But other than getting dressed and having breakfast, they didn't have much interaction with each other. In fact, neither of them had said a word after greeting each other a good morning. As Sunset poured some cereal into a bowl in front of her, she glanced over at Twilight and thought, (...Should I say something...?) Humming for a while, she then shook her head and said to herself, (No... not right now. I probably should wait for another time... Still, what was up with that dream last night...? I was at a fountain... and I was looking at myself... But was it even me? She looked so much different, but also the same...) Thinking more about the dream, she then added, (And then... I saw someone who looked... who looked and sounded just like Twilight... I just don't get it: How could someone be alike and different at the same time...?)

She wasn't the only one having such confusing thoughts running in her head: Twilight had some of her own, as well. Looking over towards Sunset, she asked herself, (What should I do...? Should I say something...? If I do, what do I tell her? How could I possibly put into words what happened in that dream last night...?) As it turned out, Twilight had the same dream as Sunset, the only difference was that it was from a different perspective. But just like in her friend's dream, she saw people that looked and sounded almost EXACTLY like the two of them, sitting and chatting at a fountain. However, neither of them knew that they had such a dream, because neither of them was willing to discuss it.

Watching from the sofa nearby, Spike began to feel a little worried after seeing both the girls sitting and eating their breakfast without hardly a word spoken between them. (Aw man... they've got that look on their faces...) Spike said in his mind. (I know that look: It's the same one Twilight gets when she has really deep, worried thoughts... Does this have anything to do with the stuff we saw and heard at the museum yesterday?)

Finally, Twilight decided to break the awkward silence (and get her mind off of the strange dream she had), saying to her friend, "Um, so... you said that you'll taking that Judge test today, right?"

"Hm? Oh! Yeah, I am..." the red-and-yellow girl responded, also trying her best to think about anything else. "After school's over, I'll be going to Celestia's office to take it with a rep from Industrial Illusions. So, because of that, you'll have to stay a bit later at the school, since you haven't yet gotten your own key for the apartment. So...um, I'm sorry in advance for the inconvenience."

"Oh, it won't be inconvenient at all!" the young Princess assured her. "I can just hang out at the library until you're done. It's no problem!"

Chuckling a bit, Sunset then said, "Oh yeah. I almost forgot who I was talking to for a moment." Twilight giggled a bit herself as well. "Anyway, thanks again for all of your help yesterday." she then told her friend.

"You're welcome Sunset." the purple teen replied. "Believe me, it was my pleasure to help you study for that test. And I know you'll pass it for sure!"

Sunset smiled, happy to know that her friend believed in her so much. Looking at the clock in the room, she then told her, "It's almost time to head out, Twilight."

"Okay." the young Princess said. Looking back at Spike, she asked him, "Are you ready to go?"

"I sure am!" the dragon-turned-puppy replied, hopping into Twilight's backpack.

In no time, the two of them made their way from the city to Canterlot High School on Sunset's new Duel Runner. Luckily, it was able to support two people, and Sunset had previously gotten Twilight her own helmet to help protect her during the ride. When the two of them arrived at school, many of the students at the front doors got their first look at the advanced motorcycle. Some were impressed upon seeing it, others a bit jealous. Either way, Sunset's vehicle became a major topic for discussion at that time.

"Well, lookit the two of you, comin' here to school in style." said Applejack as she and the rest of her friends walked over to greet both Sunset and Twilight.

"Yeah, you know everybody here's gonna be talkin' about your Duel Runner for at least the rest of the week." Rainbow Dash commented.

"That's a good possibility." said Sunset. She then turned over to Pinkie and said to her, "I hope you're not sad that we won't be car-pooling with you as often as before."

"Aw, don't worry about it, Sunnie!" the pink girl told her. "Dashie and Fluttershy rode up here with me today, so it wasn't like I was all alone. Besides, you have such a cool new Duel Runner, it'd be a waste for you NOT to drive it here!"

"Well, as long as you're okay with it, I'll keep using it." the red-and-yellow teen responded.

"So, are you ready to take that test to become an official Judge, Sunset dear?" Rarity asked her.

"As ready as I'll ever be." Sunset answered. "Twilight and I studied all night to make sure I'd be prepared, no matter what."

"I don't think she's going to have any problem at all." Twilight informed the others. "She'll pass with flying colors, no doubt!"

"We'll be rooting for you too, Sunset...!" Fluttershy told her. "D-do your best out there."

"I will. Thanks, everyone." Sunset replied. "Just watch me: I'll pass that test and become an official Duel Monsters Judge!"

"And when you do," Pinkie began to say to her, "just prepare yourself to have people calling 'Judge!' to you over and over again for the rest of your life." Sunset chuckled a bit at the comment and nodded to say that she understood. The seven of them then walked into the school building together to go to their respective classes.

Throughout the day, things were relatively normal for Sunset, Twilight, and the others during their classes. Though when they walked into their new history class for the first time, they couldn't help but to look at Mrs. K a bit differently compared to how their other classmates saw. After all, they knew her secret identity of Kisara. However, they kept their promise to her and did not say a word about it or their meeting at the museum yesterday as the young teacher taught her class. They acted just as the other students did as to not attract any unwanted attention to themselves or Mrs. K. The history class ended on time just as normally as when it started, without any major issues.

Once the school day was done, Sunset was ready to take her Judge Certification Test with Principal Celestia and the representative from Industrial Illusions. After saying goodbye to the others for the day, Sunset made her way to Celestia's office while Twilight and Spike went over to the library to pass the time until their friend was done. The red-and-yellow girl stepped up to the door leading to the main office, pausing for a moment to collect her thoughts. (Well... here goes nothing...) she thought as she opened the door.

Sunset was immediately greeted by Principal Celestia, as well as a brown-haired man in a jet-black suit and red tie; assumedly, this man was the representative from Industrial Illusions, sent to oversee Sunset's exam. "Ah, Ms. Shimmer! Right on time, as I had hoped." the principal said to the young girl as she walked in.

"After all of the late-night studying I did with Twilight yesterday, I wasn't going to miss it." Sunset informed her.

Nodding, Celestia then gestured over to the man beside her and said, "This is Mr. Jay Dunstan. He works at Industrial Illusions and is in charge of overseeing and organizing all official Duel Monsters Tournaments, including the WCQ."

"Um, p-pleased to meet you, sir." the red-and-yellow girl greeted him, a bit nervously.

"So you are Sunset Shimmer." Mr. Dunstan replied, shaking her hand. "Your principal has told me a lot about you, and your accomplishments as a Duelist. After what I've heard, I agree that you would make a fine Judge for the upcoming tournament. That is, IF you pass the Certification Test."

"Well, I certainly don't plan on failing the test when I came here to take it." she told him. "I promise that I'll pass it and prove that what Celestia told you is true!"

Chuckling warmly, the man said, "You have quite the determined spirit, Ms. Shimmer. If Mr. Pegasus was still here with us, he would most certainly be impressed by your confidence." Stepping aside, he then asked her, "Shall we begin?" Sunset nodded and followed the two of them to Celestia's office so that she could start taking that test.

About nearly an hour had passed since Sunset met with Principal Celestia and Mr. Dunstan. During that time, Twilight and Spike had spent their time in the school library. They were mostly alone, aside from the staff that worked there, as well as Lyra and Bon Bon - both of them studying for a big project together. All in all, the library was mostly quiet (as any good library ought to be).

As Twilight finished reading a stack of books she had put aside, she looked at the clock on the wall above and hummed a bit. "I wonder how Sunset's doing...?" she asked herself. "When I saw her taking the practice test on her computer, I looked at the questions they were asking; a lot of them were pretty tricky, even by my standards..."

"I'm sure she's doing just fine, Twilight." Spike told her. "Sunset's practically your equal in terms of all of that smarty-pants-related stuff. Do ya really think this test will be any more challenging than some of the others I've seen you take?"

"I guess you have a point, Spike..." the young Princess told him. "I suppose I shouldn't be that worried for her, but I just can't help it, though; she's my friend, and I just want to know that things will be okay for her."

"I get what ya mean, Twilight." her young assistant told her. "I get that feeling myself every now and then, too. But really, Sunset'll be just fine. You just gotta keep tellin' yourself that." The Princess of Friendship nodded to say that she understood what he meant. Spike then said to her, "Anyway, try not to think about it too much, Twilight: Think about something else... Like maybe all of those cool dragon cards that Mrs. K used on that Caballeron guy!"

"Yeah, I guess they were pretty neat, weren't they?" said the purple teenager. "Up until now, I never thought I'd actually see the Blue-Eyes cards in action, since that Kaiba person was the only one to ever use them!" She then hummed a bit and asked, "I wonder where she got them... They can't be fakes, since Sunset told me that the D-Pads are equipped to only recognize genuine cards, so where did they come from...? Does it have something to do with her having a past life, or something like that?"

"Hey, I don't care where she got 'em from!" Spike told his friend. "It was just so awesome watching them take that jerk down like they did!" Twilight nodded to say that she felt the same way too. After all, watching the Blue-Eyes White Dragons on a DVR recording was nothing compared to seeing them in front of her own eyes.

Just then, the two of them heard the front doors of the library opening. When they saw that it was Sunset Shimmer walking in, they wasted no time to get over to her and find out how things went. "Sunset! You're back!" said Twilight as she and Spike reached her. "How did the test go??"

With a smile, she told them, "It went great! I passed it! Check it out!" Sunset then presented them with a sheet of paper that had recorded her test score.

"Woah, check it out! A near-perfect score!" Spike commented, impressed to see that 98% mark printed on the top with a green circle beside it (the circle meaning that she had gotten a passing score).

Twilight Sparkle then read the text under her test score, saying out-loud, "This document states that Ms. Sunset Shimmer of Canterlot City has passed the Official Duel Monsters Judge Certification Test. As of now, Ms. Shimmer is officially acknowledged as a Tournament Judge for any and all Official Duel Monsters Tournaments." Smiling, she told her friend, "That's so great, Sunset! I'm so happy for you!"

"Thanks, Twilight." the red-and-yellow girl responded. "I mean it: I don't think I would have passed that test if you and Spike hadn't helped me study for it."

"So, what happens now that you're a Judge?" asked Spike.

"Well for now, it means that I'll be able to act as the Judge for the upcoming tournament." she answered him. "I can't wait to be there for it! In fact, I can't wait to get back to the apartment and tell all our friends about it!"

"I'm sure they'll be pleased to know how well you did." Twilight said to her. "I certainly am." Getting an idea, she then asked her, "In fact, why don't we all have a party to celebrate you passing the test?"

"A party?" asked the red-and-yellow girl. "You think you could put one together right now? It's kinda last-minute..."

"I can't, but Pinkie probably could." the young Princess reminded her.

"Oh yeah... that's true." Nodding and smiling, Sunset told her friend, "In that case, I'm all for it!" With their minds made up, the two of them left the school building, with Sunset calling and telling all of their friends about the good news and if they wanted to celebrate the accomplishment. Naturally, they all agreed, and Pinkie was more than pleased to put together a quick party at the apartment. It seemed that everything was going quite well for them all...

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But far away, in the run-down remains of Skyes Academy...

"Hmmm... so Caballeron turned out to be a disappointment..." said the voice of Chrysalis as she sat down in front of an old-looking vanity with a broken mirror, staring at four cards set in front of her - one of them being Number 70: Malevolent Sin. "Oh well... there's more where that came from." she said with a rather passive attitude. "I have other methods at my disposal, so losing him won't be much."

"...Mistress Chrysalis?" said a boy's voice. "I have come as you asked..." Hearing the voice, the wicked woman looked at her reflection in the mirror, noticing that the yellow mark imprinted on the side of her face was visible. Quickly, she got out some of the beauty supplies stored in the vanity's drawers. Using a special cream that was roughly the same color as her skin, she plastered some of it over the yellow mark, hiding it from sight.

Once that was taken care of, Chrysalis then said, "Come inside." The source of the voice walked inside, his appearance concealed by the shadows in the room. After reaching the center of the room, she then asked him, "I assume you remember why I have asked you to come to me, correct?"

"...I do." the figure answered in a low tone of voice.

"...There is a tournament that is about to be held in Canterlot City, where Sunset Shimmer lives." the woman told him. "You are to enter that tournament."

"...Do you wish for me to win this tournament?" asked the voice.

"That won't be necessary." she told him. "Your main objective is to find any Duelists there that could make good candidates for one of my blank Numbers. You may win the tournament if you so wish to, but do not forget your primary goals... Understood?"

"I understand, Mistress Chrysalis." the boy responded. "I will do as you ask..." After that, he then left the room. Not long after, another figure entered Chrysalis's room: It was none other than Windmistress, the vicious Harpy-user that Sunset and Bon-Bon had encountered once before.

"I see you have returned, Windmistress." Chrysalis said to her. "Did you do as I asked this time?"

"...I have, Mistress Chrysalis." said the dark-grey girl. "It was difficult, but I found the three people you asked me to find. When I informed them of why you wanted to speak with them, they showed no hesitation in coming back here with me."

"Very good." stated Chrysalis. "You are quite close to making up for your previous blunder during the last mission I entrusted you with... When you have fully repaid me, I will trust you with my Number cards once more."

"I... I understand, Mistress Chrysalis." Windmistress told her. "I promise you, I shall not make such a mistake again." As she turned to leave, she then thought to herself, (And more than that... I will make certain that Sunset and her despicable little friends pay for my humiliation...! In fact - with the added assistance of the people Mistress Chrysalis asked me to find, I may very well make good on that threat...)

-- To Be Continued...

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