• 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 41: The First Round Rumble:

Author's Note:

And now the tournament begins! For real this time!

This episode ended up being a little shorter than what I usually come up with, mostly because I was still trying to figure out exactly how to write these tournament episodes. In any case, I hope you all enjoy this pre-Thanksgiving treat.

RANK 41: The First Round Rumble:
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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...

Just now, Canterlot High School became the site of the highly-anticipated WCQ Qualification Tournament: A Duel Monsters competition held by Industrial Illusions to determine who would be invited to the World Championship Qualifiers. The tournament was headed by Mr. Jay Dunstan, a representative of Industrial Illusions who was in charge of setting up and overseeing major Duel Monsters tournaments. Judging the tournament was Sunset Shimmer, who had passed the Judge Certification Test earlier in the week. The announcer and MC for the competition was a high-spirited girl named Megan Williams, who knew a thing or two about getting an audience pumped-up.

Before the tournament officially began, the audience and the sixteen competing Duelists were treated to a very special exhibition match between former Pro Duelists; they were none other than Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna. After having been requested by Sunset to come out and Duel for the crowd, they put on quite the show for everyone. The pair fought a white-hot Duel, giving the competitors a small taste of what dueling was like in the Pro Leagues.

Now that the Duel between Celestia and Luna was over, the competition was ready to begin. Right now, the Duelists for the first round were about to be determined...

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Everyone's eyes were on the big screen monitor as the faces of the sixteen Duelists competing in the WCQ Qualification Tournament cycled rapidly like the reels on a slot machine. On that note, an animated, chibi-fied version of the monster Slot Machine stood in-between the two picture frames shown onscreen.

"I wonder who'll be first t' Duel..." Applejack pondered. Sitting next to the young farmer girl were her other friends: Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie. All four of them remained silent as the Duelists were selected. Sunset Shimmer, Twilight Sparkle, and Spike also watched without saying a single word, and the sixteen competitors stared at the screen, some of them sweating a little as they did so.

The announcer, Megan Williams, spoke into her microphone, saying, "And the first two Duelists to compete will be..." Then, a few seconds later, the reels finally stopped, and the first two Duelists were revealed. Megan then finished her announcement, saying to the crowd, "...Ember and Indigo Bolt! These are our first two Duelists for the first round!" The two Duelists in question then glanced at each other, neither one saying a word to the other yet.

"Hmph... Guess we'll hafta wait a little while longer to get in there." Gilda stated, a bit disappointed that she didn't get to Duel first. Fluttershy and Gabby, however, breathed a slight sigh of relief, as they didn't want to be picked first.

"Alright, Ember and Indigo! Take your places in the arena and prepare to Duel!" Megan declared with lots of enthusiasm.

As the pair walked into the arena, Sunset then said, "So Ember's going first... I guess now I'll get to see just how much she's improved. Knowing her, she'd only compete in this tournament if she knew she was ready for it."

"What kind of Deck does she use?" asked Twilight.

"A Dragon Deck."

"Dragons, huh?" Spike chimed in. "I like the sound of that... How powerful are they?"

"Pretty tough, as a matter of fact." Sunset told him. "Her Deck doesn't really follow any particular archetype, but her cards support each other very well nonetheless. She puts a lot of focus on Summoning high-Level monsters as much as possible, like most Decks that are themed around Dragons." Looking ahead at the field, she added, "And now she's going up against Indigo, who uses Amazonesses and was the only one to score a One Turn Kill during the Prelims... So if Ember has improved her dueling like she told us yesterday, now's the time for her to show it."

Just then, the red-and-yellow girl noticed something peculiar: She saw Sonata Dusk - a member of the Dazzlings and one of the competitors, speaking with her sisters Adagio Dazzle and Aria Blaze. Then, the three of them suddenly left the outside arena and walked through a open doorway to the areas under the stands. "Hmm... what're they up to now?" she asked herself.

"Something wrong?" asked Twilight.

"Uh, nothing yet," Sunset responded, "but I just saw the Dazzlings leave the arena together... I'm not sure why, though."

"Maybe they just had to go to the bathroom?" asked Spike. "Or get a snack? There are a bunch of food stands under the stadium."

"Possibly..." Sunset replied. "But all at the same time? And just before a Duel is about to start? It may just be me, but I'm already a bit suspicious... Luckily, even while I'm here judging the Duel, I can still keep my eye on those three..." Tapping the side of her Duel Gazer, she spoke into the microphone and said, "Snips? Snails? Can you hear me?"

"Loud n' clear, Sunset!" Snails responded, sitting in the stands with his short and chubby buddy, Snips.

"Listen up: The Dazzlings just left the arena together, and I think they're already up to something." the inter-dimensional teen told them. "They just went into the tunnels below the seating area; I need you to follow them in secret and try to see what they're up to. Remember: Keep a low profile and don't arouse their attention, understand? Pretend you're getting food or something if you think they're onto you."

"Roger that!" Snips replied. "We won't let ya down!" The two of them then got up from their seats and ran off to look for Adagio and the others. As they left, two of the other Duelists - Steel Shadows and Night Switch saw them leaving the stands, but didn't seem to know why.

"Well, let's hope they can find out some things..." Sunset said to her friends nearby. "For now, I need to focus on regulating the Duel." She then looked up towards the arena to watch over Ember and Indigo's Duel, but kept the link to Snips and Snails open in case they discovered anything.

"Good luck out there, Sunset." Twilight told her. "We know you'll do a great job as the Judge." Spike nodded to say that he felt the same way.

Sunset smiled and gave a thumbs-up before walking to the center of the field, where both competing Duelists were waiting for her. "Now, Duelists...cut and shuffle your opponent's Deck." she said to both Ember and Indigo Bolt as soon as she approached them.

As the two of them mixed up each other's cards, Ember told her opponent, "I've gotta say, that's quite the elaborate costume you've got there... You sure it won't get in the way of your dueling?" She was referring to the toga-like outfit that the young girl was wearing to Duel today.

Bolt chuckled and told her, "You just worry about yourself out there." Handing her Deck back to her, she then told Ember, "As for the costume, I'm wearing it out of respect for my fellow sisters out there."

"You have sisters?" asked the Bloodstone Duelist as she also returned Bolt's Deck back to her.

"In a manner of speaking..." the younger girl replied. "In any case, you don't need to concern yourself with my well-being. Considering who you're up against, you've got bigger things to concern yourself with!"

Ember gasped a little, and then chuckled. "You're pretty tough for a kid; I can respect that. But even so, don't expect an easy win." she told her. Bolt nodded as they each took their Decks back from each other.

"Now that your Decks are shuffled, we will now determine turn order." Sunset then told them. Taking out a coin, she then said to Ember, "Call it in the air."

After Sunset flipped the coin, the blue-skinned teen shouted, "Heads!" After that, the coin fell back down, and Sunset caught it in the air. Placing the coin on the back of her other hand, she then revealed coin flip result. Ember grumbled a little when it came up Tails.

"Looks like I'll be going first." said Indigo.

"Yeah, looks like it." replied Ember as they both left for their respective sides of the field.

"Alright, we're now ready to get this Duel started!" said Megan. "Ember...Indigo...we wish you both the best of luck! Now draw your cards and come out dueling!"

The pair nodded as they both drew their opening hands. "LET'S DUEL!!!" they shouted, ready to battle (Indigo Bolt: LP 4,000) (Ember: LP 4,000).

The fans in the seating area cheered loudly, ready to see some more dueling action. Among the people in the audience, there was a large dark blue-skinned man sitting there, wearing a pair of sunglasses, a hat, and a trench coat. Although he wasn't cheering like the people around him, he seemed very interested in the Duel that was about to commence...

The two of them looked at their first five cards in order to figure out their first moves. When Indigo looked at her opening hand, she was a bit surprised by what she had gotten. (Woah...! That's incredible!) she thought. (I drew Amazoness Archers and Ojama Trio already! And I even have my Amazoness Queen, too! Now I can pull of my OTK trick and win this Duel right away!) Despite her excitement, Bolt did her best to keep a good poker face so as not to give away her strategy.

"So, who d'ya think's gonna win?" asked Rainbow Dash. "Got any idea, guys?"

"Well, based on what took place during the Preliminary Rounds," Rarity started, "Indigo seems to be the most likely. That being said, I am not sure just how strong this Ember person is. It's just a feeling...but I suspect that she might be a lot stronger than the computer Indigo dueled against yesterday..."

"Well, Sunset told us that she's a strong player." Applejack pointed out. "And she doesn't just say that sorta thing 'bout everyone. An' lets not forget that she's s'pposed t' be the daughter of an ex-Pro Duelist, so she's gotta have had some serious trainin'!"

"But don't forget, Indigo's got that super-cool OTK trick that she used yesterday!" Pinkie reminded them. "If she gets that to work again, she'll win, hands-down!" She then hummed a bit, wondering if that could really happen a second time.

Indigo Bot felt the same way, even after drawing all the pieces of her combo on her first turn. Still, she figured it was at least worth a try. Facing her opponent, she then shouted, "Alright! Let's get started!" Taking a card from her hand, she said to Ember, "First, I'll reveal the Amazoness Queen in my hand! That lets me Special Summon my Amazoness Spy from my hand in Defense Mode!" Right away, her first monster appeared on the field, taking a defensive pose, arms crossed in front of her (Amazoness Spy: Level 3 / ATK 800 / DEF 1200). "But she won't stay out for very long!" the toga-wearing girl then said. "I'm releasing her in order to Tribute Summon...the Amazoness Queen!"

Everyone watched as Indigo's first monster vanished from the field and was instantly replaced with the more powerful ruler of the Amazons. Her large build and powerful sword certainly put on a fierce first impression (Amazoness Queen: Level 6 / ATK 2400 / DEF 1800).

"She already got her ace monster on the field..." Sunset said to herself. "Is she planning to do to Ember what she did during the Prelims...?"

"Woah!" exclaimed Spike. "It's only her first turn, and she's already got a super-powerful monster on the field!"

"It sure seems like it..." stated Twilight. "The Duel only just begun, but Indigo seems to have already taken the lead."

(Perhaps, but I would not count her opponent out yet...) Utopia spoke to her. (Based on what Sunset had told us concerning her, she might have a plan to deal with the situation already in the works.) The young princess agreed with him, figuring that this Duel was only getting started.

Smirking, Bolt then took another card from her hand and said, "Of course, a queen is nothing without a proper kingdom to rule over...so I play my Field Spell, Amazoness Village!" After activating her field card, the scenery around them transformed from the holographic coliseum setting...to the middle of a thick jungle-like environment. In the middle of the flora was a dirt clearing, with several thatched roof cottages scattered around them. The only part of the scene that didn't change was the seating areas, which still took the form of stone benches.

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Amazoness Village
(Field Spell Card)

All "Amazoness" monsters gain 200 ATK. Once per turn, when an "Amazoness" monster is destroyed by battle or card effect and sent to the GY: You can Special Summon 1 "Amazoness" monster from your Deck with a Level less than or equal to that "Amazoness" monster in the GY.

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"With the power of my sisters' homeland strengthening them," Indigo began to say, "they will be unstoppable!" (Amazoness Queen: ATK 2400 + 200 = 2600) Taking the last two cards from her hand, she placed them into her D-Pad and said, "I'll wrap up my turn by setting two cards face-down. It's your turn."

"Alright, I draw!" shouted Ember as she pulled off the top card of her Deck. After looking at it, she wasted no time in playing it. "I start with Pot of Desires! I banish ten cards off the top of my Deck and draw two more!" After she did so, she then looked at her rival's field and thought, (Indigo Bolt...I was kinda hoping I'd get to duel you first... After all, you're the only person who managed to get a One Turn Kill during the Prelims.) Thinking a bit, she then said to herself, (Hmmm...two face-down cards...and Amazoness Queen... Could she be...?)

Sunset seemed to have the same thoughts herself. (I remember this... I'm willing to bet my whole collection that Indigo's trying to pull off the same trick she used yesterday... By using Ojama Trio with her Amazoness Archers, she can force her opponent to attack her Amazoness Queen... And because the Ojama Tokens have zero attack points, they'll get wiped out by her, and the opponent would be defeated... But...would that even WORK on Ember...?)

"I activate the Spell Card, Terraforming!" the Bloodstone Duelist declared. "With it, I can add any Field Spell Card from my Deck to my hand. And I choose to take my Dragon Ravine and activate it immediately!" And just as she said, she then played the card she added to her hand as soon as she got it. Now her side of the field changed to that of a steep cliff with a deep ravine running below. And just as the card's name implied, several dragons could be seen flying in that very ravine.

"So you're going for a home field advantage too, huh?" asked Indigo.

"I am." Ember said. "And now that I have Dragon Ravine out, I'll use its effect!" Taking a card from her hand, she continued by saying, "I'll discard my Darkblaze Dragon to send a Dragon from my Deck to the Graveyard. And I choose my Felgrand Dragon!" Her Deck then auto-shuffled, leaving the chosen card sticking out. Ember then took the card and placed it into her D-Pad's Graveyard slot.

"She just sent a high-level monster to her Graveyard, so I'll bet she's plannin' to Special Summon it to the field!" Vinyl figured.

"There's just one problem, Vinyl..." Octavia informed her companion. "Felgrand Dragon's effect states that it can only be brought back from the Graveyard if was sent there from the field. But this Ember person sent it there from her Deck, so she can't re-Summon it."

"So...what was the point then?" asked the young DJ. "She ougtta know that, so why'd she dump it into the Graveyard?"

Octavia figured that there was some point to her move, and now Ember was ready to reveal it. "I Summon Guardian of Felgrand in Attack Mode!" she shouted. After playing the card, a man with a large body covered in armor appeared on the field, wielding a mighty axe in his right hand. His weapon and armor shone brightly in the sunlight around them (Guardian of Felgrand: Level 4 / ATK 500 / DEF 500). "Now I use my Guardian's effect:" the girl continued. "After he's Summoned, I can then equip him with any Level 7 or Level 8 Dragon monster from my hand or my Graveyard!"

"From your hand or Graveyard??" asked Indigo Bolt. "Does that mean-?"

"That's right." Ember interrupted. "I'm equipping him with the monster that I just put there: My Felgrand Dragon!" At that moment, a transparent version of the white-and-gold colored Dragon emerged onto the field and it fused itself with the Guardian's axe, making it much more powerful. "And as an added bonus," she continued, "my Guardian gains half of Felgrand Dragon's attack and defense points!" (Guardian of Felgrand: ATK 500 + 1400 = 1900 / DEF 500 + 1400 = 1900)

"So that's why you sent him to your Graveyard..." Bolt figured out. "And you'll probably try and bring back the other Dragon you discarded to pay the cost of your Field Spell. But I'm afraid you won't be getting much use of either of them once I do this! I activate Ojama Trio!" As soon as the card was flipped face-up, three little creatures - one yellow, one green, and one black, hopped onto Ember's side of the field (Ojama Tokens (x3): Level 2 / ATK 0 / DEF 1000).

"You were right, Pinkie..." said Rainbow Dash. "She's tryin' to make that Ember chick fall for the same trick the computer did durin' the Prelims!"

"It would seem so..." Rarity added. "But...I think Indigo may have been a tad bit too anxious with her Trap Card."

"Whaddya mean?" asked Pinkie.

"...If Sunset's remarks about Ember are true," the fashionista explained, "then I'm certain that she was expecting Indigo to do that. Not only that, I think she made a mistake playing that Trap Card too early..."

Ember looked at the three monsters that Indigo stuck on her side of the field and thought to herself, (So...I was right: She IS trying to beat me in one turn... But by playing it now, she might have just cost herself this Duel...) Looking at her opponent, the Bloodstone girl told her, "I know what you're trying to do, Indigo...but if you think I'll fall for that as easily as that A.I. Duelist did, you have no idea who you're dealing with!"

"Huh? What do you mean?" asked the toga-clad girl.

"You'll see." Ember told her. "I now activate the other effect of my Guardian of Felgrand! By releasing it and one other monster, I can bring back any Level 7 or 8 Dragon from the Graveyard! So thanks for the free monsters."

Indigo gasped, realizing what was happening. "Oh no...! She's going to release one of the Ojama Tokens to use her monster's effect! And my Trap Card only prevents her from releasing the Tokens for a Tribute Summon!"

Just as Indigo had predicted, Ember disposed of her Guardian and the yellow Ojama Token on her field (this in turn, sent the card that was equipped to her Guardian to be sent to the Graveyard as well). Taking a card from her Graveyard, the blue-skinned girl then said to her opponent, "Now, from the Graveyard, I Summon...Felgrand Dragon!!" Everyone gasped as the mighty, shimmering Dragon made its second appearance on the field. Only now it wasn't merely a spirit like it was before; now it was in full physical form and ready to strike (Felgrand Dragon: Level 8 / ATK 2800 / DEF 2800).

"Huh?? How'd she do that??" asked Indigo, not sure about what had just happened. "That monster wasn't in her Graveyard when she used her monster's effect, so how could she Summon it to the field??" Turning over to Sunset, she then asked, "Can she actually do that?"

"Actually, she can." the red-and-yellow girl explained. "Here's the deal: While it is true that Felgrand Dragon wasn't in her Graveyard when she activated her Guardian's effect, it DID go there after he was released. Now, if she didn't have a proper target in the Graveyard for his effect when she chose to activate it, she wouldn't have been able to use the effect, even though doing so would have provided her monster with a target. But in THIS case, since she had Darkblaze Dragon in her Graveyard before she used the effect, she WAS able to activate it. And since Felgrand Dragon went to the Graveyard after that, she was legally allowed to Summon it, despite the fact that it wasn't in her Graveyard at the beginning."

"Uh...I still don't quite get it." said Rainbow Dash, trying her best to figure out Sunset's ruling.

"Well, Ah got the gist of it all." stated Applejack. "And it makes sense t' me. Not noly did she use her Dragon Ravine Field Card t' put Felgrand Dragon in her Graveyard, but she was also settin' up for this move with her Guardian's effect, by sendin' that OTHER high-Level Dragon to her Graveyard!"

The ruling made sense to Indigo as well, though now she was facing one of Ember's most powerful monsters as a result. But before she could think about her situation any more, Ember then said to her, "Now for Felgrand Dragon's effect! After being Special Summoned, I can increase his attack points by two hundred times the Level of any monster in my Graveyard! And of course, I'll choose the one with the highest Level: Darkblaze Dragon, Level 7!!" Instantly, the teen's newly-Summoned monster gained even more attack points, putting it far higher than the Amazoness Queen (Felgrand Dragon: ATK 2800 + 1400 = 4200).

"F-forty-two hundred attack points?!" exclaimed Indigo, sweating a little.

"And if you think that's impressive," Ember told her, "...well, just wait and see what else I have ready for you in this Duel. I promise you haven't seen anything yet!"

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Meanwhile...far, FAR away from Canterlot High School... and the universe it occupied...

In a small house floating amongst various other strange things, Discord - a mischievous draconequus and master over the powers of Chaos itself, was working on quite possibly one of the most difficult tasks ever given to him. He hummed to himself as he looked over several pictures and papers on his writing desk (which, naturally, was built onto the ceiling of his Study). The pictures he was looking at were the ones that he himself had taken, when he found a strange doorway within Sunset's mind. The picture showed what appeared to be a rather large and unusual ship-like vessel, along with close-up shots of its more intricate parts.

Discord wasn't the only one there looking through the photos: He was joined by both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. They decided to go over everything involving the photos after the incident involving Twilight fighting against her dark side some time ago. Since that Duel, the draconequus hadn't paid a visit to Twilight or Sunset in their dreams, but he hadn't shirked off the duties given to him by Celestia.

"So you say that you found this...thing in Sunset Shimmer's mind?" asked Celestia. This was the first time that both she and her sister had seen these pictures. "What was it doing in there? Was it always there?"

"That I'm not quite sure." stated Discord. Taking off his reading glasses...and then swallowing them down his throat, he then said, "What I do know is that it is most certainly linked to those Number cards that both she and Twily have, as you can see from these glowing symbols on the ship's gears."

"Indeed..." Luna spoke, using her magic to pick up one of the photos, which showed a gear with a glowing red 39 imprinted upon it. "I recognize the symbol here: It is most certainly the same one that we saw upon that armored creature."

"The one who called himself Utopia, correct?" asked Celestia.

"Yes, sister."

"I haven't paid a visit to either Sunnie or Twily since the whole mess with Midnight Sparkle." Discord told them. "But during that time, I've been busy trying to make heads or tails of what I've figured out so far. And besides that, neither of them had much knowledge as to why that ship was there. Even Sunset herself didn't know anything about it, and I found it in HER mind."

"Then in all likelihood," Luna hypothesized, "this vessel you discovered may be within her sub consciousness, if she was not initially aware of its existence."

"That seems to be a strong possibility." stated Celestia. "And it may also be possible that my former students may have learned more about the Numbers and the Astral World since your last visit. If I know them well, they have probably been as hard at work on this mystery as we are, maybe even more. Perhaps if you were to take another look into their minds, you might find some more information regarding this whole thing."

"I was just thinking the same thing myself, Cellie." said the draconequus. Making a pith helmet appear from out of nowhere and placing it on his head, he added, "That's why I'm going to go and pay another visit to their minds and see if anything new has developed. With any luck, I might even help them figure out something they haven't yet!"

"Perhaps, but just promise to be careful, Discord." Luna urged him. "After all, you said that some sort of force expelled you from the room where this ship was located, so obviously someone or something in there doesn't want you meddling around inside. So try not to disturb anything, for the sake of both Twilight and Sunset, as well as your own."

"Of course, Luna!" he assured her. "I'm a draconequus of my word! Cross my heart, hope to fly and all that jazz..."

"Very well then." said Celestia. "Continue to monitor Twilight and Sunset, and above all, make sure that they remain safe." Looking around, she then asked, "Now...how, exactly do we leave this place?"

Chuckling, Discord answered her, saying, "Oh my, Cellie...! You needn't ask me that; you're already back home!"

"But we're not-" But Celestia cut her remark short when she saw that - somehow, she and Luna were already back in Canterlot Castle. Sighing a bit, she told her younger sister, "Honestly, I'll never quite understand him..."

"No offense to him, dear sister," Luna began to say, "but I speak for all us when I say that he is most certifiably crazy."

"Well, he insists that his mother had him tested for that." the Sun Princess told her.

"I doubt he HAS a mother, honestly." the dark-blue Alicorn replied as they both walked down a hallway together.

Back in the strange pocket dimension that Discord resided in, the draconequus looked over the photos and notes he had one last time, saying to himself, "I swear I'll figure out this mystery sooner or later... Though it won't actually involve swearing; I don't need Standards and Practices on my tail about it... Hmmm...wait, does that even count considering this is a fan work...? Eh, best not risk it. In any case, I had better prepare for my journey immediately! But since I'm in a rush, I'd better pack ONLY the essentials."

Rushing up a flight of stairs (which was also built onto the ceiling of the room), Discord made his way up into the room above. He then made his way over to a large cardboard box sitting out in the open. "Let's see... where is it...? Where is it...?" he muttered as he rummaged through several items inside. Among them was a large weight with the words, "Heavy Lourde" printed in white text and what appeared to be a peanut with a red-colored face, as well as orange pipe cleaners stuck inside of it to look like arms and legs.

"Hmm...what's this...?" muttered Discord as he pulled out a glass bottle with a paper sticking out of it. Pulling out the paper, he then read it to himself: "January 20th, 1985... Super Bowl..." Turning the paper sideways, and then upside down, the draconequus looked at the message with a confused look on his face. "...What's a '49er'...?" Sighing as he crumpled up the paper and tossed it aside, he said to himself, "This might take a little longer than I thought...especially if I have to root through all of these potential references..." Discord continued digging through the box to find what he needed for his next trip...

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Back at CHS's football stadium-turned coliseum (and also part-Amazon Village and part-ravine), the Duel between Ember and Indigo Bolt had gotten more intense. Ember had already figured that her opponent would try to use the same trick she used to defeat the computerized opponent during the Preliminary Round. However, the Bloodstone Duelist pulled off a trick of her own and managed to use her opponent's move against them in order to Summon her mighty Felgrand Dragon.

"Woah...! Did you guys see that?" Rainbow Dash asked her friends. "Indigo looked like she was ahead, but that Ember chick turned it all around!"

"Yeah, I guess Sunnie wasn't kidding when she said that Ember was tough!" Pinkie noted.

"Sure looks that way..." said Applejack. "Now Ah ain't so sure who's gonna win this one... Bolt could still try t' use that OTK move, but Ember pointed out that she knew it was comin'... Ah bet a barrel o' beans she's already got a plan t' stop it."

"I most certainly agree with you, Applejack dear." Rarity told her. "One thing is for certain: This Duel has only just begun, and we're sure to see more of the same intensity throughout this match."

Elsewhere, in the audience stands, the man in the trench coat was still watching the Duel intently through his dark sunglasses. He hummed to himself after Ember pulled off her move with Felgrand Dragon, scratching his chin as he did so...

Looking over the field, Indigo sweated a bit as she thought, (Okay...maybe this won't be as easy as I thought it would... I never would've expected her to use a move like that. If I had known about that ruling, I definitely wouldn't have played Ojama Trio so soon like I did...) Looking at the monsters on her opponent's board, she added to her thoughts, saying, (Still, she has two Ojama Tokens left, so if she tries to attack my Queen now, I can still use my face-down Amazoness Archers card to win the Duel...) Even knowing that, the toga-clad girl was still unsure that her trick would work.

Ember glanced towards her opponent and told her, "Still thinkin' that you'll beat me in just one turn? I told you: I'm not fallin' for it. I know how your Archers card works: It switches all of my monsters into Attack Mode and weakens their attack points, including the Tokens you stuck on my field. Then it forces me to attack with all of them, even if they're too weak to defeat your monsters." Taking a card from out of her hand, she then added, "But that Trap Card can only activate if I attack your Amazoness monster first... So instead I'll play this Spell Card: Stamping Destruction!"

"Aw no!!" shouted Bolt, knowing she was in trouble now.

"This card allows me to destroy any Spell or Trap Card on the field - even face-down cards, while I have a Dragon-Type Monster on the field!" the blue-skinned Duelist explained. "So I'll wipe out your only card left in your back row: Amazoness Archers!" The card then flipped face-up, revealing that it was indeed Amazoness Archers before it shattered to pieces.

"My Trap Card!" shouted Indigo Bolt. "She destroyed it before I could play it!"

"But that's not all." Ember continued. "Adding injury to insult, my Stamping Destruction also hits the destroyed card's owner for five hundred points of damage!" Bolt could only grumble as she took the effect damage (Indigo Bolt: LP 4,000 - 500 = 3,500).

"So Ember had a plan to stop her strategy and even deal her some damage to boot..." Twilight pointed out. "Was she really thinking that far ahead? If so, then I've gotta say; that's pretty brilliant."

"Yeah, and now that other girl's wide-open for an attack!" Spike added.

Wasting no more time, Ember shouted to her monster, "Go, Felgrand Dragon! Attack her Amazoness Queen! Ray of Grand Light!!" The dragon then fired a powerful stream of white light at Indigo's only monster, striking it hard. The Bloodstone Duelist then told her opponent, "Your monster may survive the attack, but you'll still take the damage!"

"Rrrrrgh!!" grunted the toga-wearing girl after getting hit by Ember's attack (Indigo Bolt: LP 3,500 - 1,600 = 1,900). "Don't start celebrating just yet, Ember..." she then told her, "We Amazons show our true power when our backs are up against the wall! I still have a few tricks up my...erm, sleeves!"

"Well, if you still wanna beat me," Ember informed her, "then let's see these 'tricks' of yours." Taking a card from her hand, she placed into her D-Pad and said, "I'll place one card face-down and end my turn."

Sitting and watching the Duel from a pair of reserved seats in the front were Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna. After wrapping up the Duel with each other, the two of them were invited to watch the rest of the tournament with everyone else. While Celestia had her purse with her, as she always did, Luna also seemed to have brought a backpack with her. "This Duel has been quite interesting so far..." Celestia told her younger sister. "Now that Indigo's strategy to defeat her opponent in one turn failed to work, she'll have to come up with a new one quickly."

"Apparently so, sister." the dark-blue woman replied. "Her opponent seems to have a great degree of skill. Yet I can't help but feel that I've seen such a style of dueling before... What do we know about her?"

"From what I've heard from Sunset," the elder sister answered, "her name is Ember. She comes from the neighboring town of Bloodstone, and is the daughter of a former Pro Duelist."

"Bloodstone, you say?" asked Luna. "And you say that she is related to an ex-Pro...?" Humming for a while, she then said, "Hmmm...then there is only one person it could be..." She then glanced up towards the audience, trying to find anyone that looked familiar to her. Eventually, her eyes fell on the man in the trench coat and sunglasses, who was sitting far in the back, to the left of where she was. Getting up, she then told her sister, "I'll be back in a while."

"...W-where are you going, Luna?" Celestia asked her.

"...Let's just say I'm going to see a familiar face." the vice principal told her before walking off. Celestia wasn't sure what her sister was talking about, but decided not to pry into the matter any further. She was also curious as to why she had that backpack with her as well, but Luna wouldn't say anything about that either...

Indigo then prepared to draw her next card. As she did, she contemplated her current situation. (That Ember person wasn't bluffing when she said she knew what I was planning. I put Amazoness Queen in Attack Mode to lure her into attacking me so that I could trigger my Trap Card, but she destroyed it before I could use it... I knew I should've put her in Defense Mode; at least then I wouldn't have taken so much damage...) Despite the setback, her desire to win was far from crushed. (But I'm not giving this Duel up just yet! I've still got some moves left to try, and I'll fight 'til my last Life Point is gone!)

Drawing her card and looking at it, Bolt said to her opponent, "Get ready, Ember! You have yet to see the true power of my sisters in battle! And once I unite them together, there'll be nothing you can do to stop them!"

"Is that so?" asked the blue-skinned teen. "Then let's see just what you've got, then! But just know this: Whatever power you use against me, I'll fight it back with even MORE power! Now let's finish this!"

"Oh, believe me; I plan to finish this Duel pretty soon." Indigo then adjusted the card she had on her D-Pad's tray, saying, "First, I switch my Amazoness Queen to Defense Mode. That way, you can't touch my Life Points so easily, since my Queen cannot be destroyed in battle!"

"...Or so you think." Ember said to her. "Just because your Queen is powerful enough to survive a battle, that doesn't make her COMPLETELY invincible!" Tapping her D-Pad's screen, she shouted, "I activate the Trap Card, Burst Breath!" Her opponent gasped when she revealed her Set card.

"What does that card do?" Spike asked Sunset.

"It's a pretty solid card, Spike..." the red-and-yellow girl answered him. "While it does force Ember to release one of her Dragons, it also destroys every monster on the field with defense points that are less than the released monster's attack points."

"So, if she releases her Felgrand Dragon - which has 4,200 attack points," Twilight figured out, "then that would wipe out every monster on the field!"

"Correct." Sunset told her friend. "Amazoness Queen is immune to battle destruction, but card effects are a whole different story. She won't be able to save herself from this..."

As predicted, Ember chose to release her Felgrand Dragon for the cost of her Trap Card. After she did so, it turned into a massive gust of wind that was shaped like a dragon. The gust then blew over the entire field, blowing away every monster there. "Looks like your Amazoness Queen has been dethroned." the Bloodstone Duelist told her opponent. "How the mighty have fallen."

"Rrrgh...maybe, but don't forget:" Indigo told her. "That card also destroyed both of the two remaining Ojama Tokens on your field. That means you lose six hundred of your Life Points (Ember: LP 4,000 - 600 = 3,400)! And that's not all: By destroying my Amazoness Queen, my Field Spell activates its effect, allowing me to Summon an Amazoness with an equal or lower Level to the one that was destroyed!" Giving it some thought, the toga-clad girl made her choice and said, "I select this one! My Amazoness Princess!"

The next monster to appear on the field was a young girl with snow-white hair and tanned skin with various red markings. She appeared to be in her late pre-teens to early teens in terms of age. Her outfit - like most of the Amazoness monsters in Indigo's Deck, didn't consist of too much: She wore a headdress on her head with a red-and-yellow triangle pattern and a pair of horns, a red bra top with a skull-like motif in the center, a brown loincloth with a sash overtop of it made up of purple fur, and several braces on her arms and legs made up of bandages in metal frames. She also wore some beaded jewelry, and carried a short spear with a curved blade on the end of it (Amazoness Princess: Level 3 / ATK 1200 + 200 = 1400 / DEF 900).

"How appropriate for a princess to follow after the queen falls..." Ember stated.

"Indeed, and now that she's here," Bolt continued, "I can use her effect! After she's Normal or Special Summoned, I can take any Amazoness Spell or Trap Card out of my Deck and add it to my hand. And I choose my Amazoness Call!" After she got her chosen card, she then added, "And now that I have my Amazoness Call, I'll activate it! Now I can use its power to add another Amazoness Queen to my hand!"

"Is that all you've got?" asked Ember, not sure what her opponent had planned.

"I'm just getting started." said Bolt. "Next I'll use my Pot of Desires to draw two more cards after banishing ten of them!" She then removed the top ten cards of her Deck and pulled two more. After she got a look at them, the Amazon Duelist grinned a little and said to herself, "Just what I needed..."

(Now what's she up to...?) wondered Sunset. Everybody else waited to see just what Indigo managed to draw.

"Ember," she told her opponent, "I said earlier that my Amazon sisters were unstoppable once they were united... Well, you're about to see just what I meant by that! I activate the Spell Card...Polymerization!!"

"What?! Polymerization?!?" exclaimed Ember in surprise.

"I'll use my Spell Card to fuse my Amazoness Princess on the field and the Amazoness Queen in my hand!" stated the young girl. Immediately, her two monsters appeared together and jumped into a large red and blue-colored vortex in the sky. "Queen of the jungle," she chanted, "receive power from your beloved daughter, and build an empire that rules over everything! Fusion Summon! Appear, Level 8! Amazoness Empress!"

Everyone watched in shock and awe as a new figure emerged from the red-and-blue vortex. It was a very tall, very muscular woman with white hair just like Amazoness Princess. Her headwear was much more intimidating, as it was made out of the skull of a very unlucky beast. Animal skulls were also used for her shoulder pads to add to her imposing appearence. Her bra top was mostly green, with some gold trims here and there (plus a skull in the center), her loincloth was brown in color and mostly in tatters (and again, there was a skull decorating it). On her back was a long, red cape, and she also wore braces similar to Amazoness Princess, with the addition of a few decorative gems. Her weapon of choice was a massive sword with a curved blade and spikes, designed to destroy the enemy painfully and brutally.

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

Amazoness Empress
(Fusion-Effect Monster/Warrior/EARTH/Level 8/ATK 2800/DEF 2400)

"Amazoness Queen" + 1 "Amazoness" monster
Other "Amazoness" cards you control cannot be destroyed by battle or card effects. If your "Amazoness" monster attacks a Defense Position monster, inflict piercing battle damage to your opponent. If this face-up Fusion Summoned card is destroyed by battle, or leaves the field because of an opponent's card effect while its owner controls it: You can Special Summon 1 "Amazoness Queen" from your hand, Deck, or GY.

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

"Oh...my..." said Fluttershy, staring at the powerful Fusion Monster that Indigo Bolt had just Summoned. She tried to say more, but she just couldn't find the words.

"I gotta admit, that was a pretty sick move she made." Gilda said. "She means business now, no doubt about it."

"So it's true: Amazonesses DO have Fusion Monsters..." Sunset said to herself. "I've never seen any of them in action before, but judging from how that monster of hers looks, It'd be safe to assume they're incredibly strong..."

"No joke..." Spike added. "I mean, just look at that sword of hers... That thing looks like it could slice a mountain in two!"

"Yeah, and the rest of the mountain range along with it...!" added Twilight.

Ember was also quite impressed by her opponent's last move. "Not bad, Indigo." she told her. "I have t' say, I didn't expect you to whip out a Fusion Monster so quickly. You're even stronger than I thought; I knew it'd be fun to fight you in the tournament."

"Thanks for the comment, Ember." replied the Amazon Duelist. "And the best part is, I'm not even done yet!" Taking a card from her hand, she then told her opponent, "After Special Summoning my Amazoness Empress, I can ALSO Summon this monster to join her! Meet my Amazoness Baby Tiger!" Her next card was a tiny, adorable pink tiger cub with big, blue eyes, black stripes, and a golden collar that looked way too big for its neck. After it appeared, it gave out a tiny roar (Amazoness Baby Tiger: Level 2 / ATK 500 / DEF 500).

"AWWWWWW!!! It's so CUTE!!!" said a starry-eyed Sweetie Belle. "Eeeeeee!! I just wanna go over there and hug it so much!!"

"You're...fighting me with a...a kitten?" asked Ember, not sure what her opponent was planning this time.

"Don't you know the best part about babies?" asked Indigo. "They grow up fast! Thanks to her effect, she gains another one hundred attack points for every Amazoness card that's in my Graveyard! And I count a total of six! So that means she gains six hundred attack points! And not only that, my Field Spell also powers up both her and my Empress!" (Amazoness Empress: ATK 2800 + 200 = 3000) (Amazoness Baby Tiger: ATK 500 + 600 + 200 = 1300) Smirking, she then asked Ember, "So, what do you think of that?"

"I've gotta say, that was pretty impressive." the blue-skinned girl admitted. "Your two monsters combined have the power to wipe out all of my Life Points..." But then she smirked as well and told her, "That is...IF I didn't have this ready in my hand."

"Huh?" Indigo had no idea what she was talking about, but got an ill feeling in her gut after hearing those words.

"I activate the effect of a monster in my hand!" shouted Ember. She then took a card from her hand and placed it into her D-Pad's Graveyard slot before saying, "I Special Summon Dragon Ice from my hand in Defense Mode!"

Everyone watched as a geyser of freezing-cold water burst out of the ground in front of Ember, reaching high into the sky. When the geyser stopped, a powerful beast was floating in the area where it sprung forth. It appeared to be an icy-blue dragon creature, but also appeared to have some human-like qualities to it, in the fact that it had well-defined abs, and muscular arms and legs. The parts of it that weren't human were its head, which was covered with a bone-like armor, its large, black wings, and its long tail (Dragon Ice: Level 5 / ATK 1800 / DEF 2200).

"Huh?! How'd you Summon a monster while it was still my turn??" asked Bolt in total shock.

"I could tell ya," Ember started to say, "but I believe that's Sunset job to do that; she is the Judge after all."

Getting the message, the black jacket-clad teen walked over towards Indigo, saying, "When you Special Summon a monster outside of the Damage Step - such as when you Special Summoned your Amazoness Baby Tiger, Dragon Ice's effect activates. That allows Ember to discard any card from her hand to Special Summon it, even if it isn't her turn."

"Rrrgh...so you had a defensive move all set up just in case I came out with a powerful monster, huh?" asked the Amazon Duelist.

"Exactly." the blue-skinned teen confirmed. "That means you can't wipe out all of my Life Points this turn."

"Maybe not...but I'll still do as much damage as I can!" Bolt shouted. "Go, Amazoness Empress! Attack her Dragon Ice! Sword of the Empress!!" Her mighty Fusion Monster then lifted up her powerful blade and jumped up into the air towards Ember's only monster. She then slashed her sword so hard, it created a blade-like shockwave that sliced the blue beast in half. "You may have escaped taking a ton of damage from my Empress," Indigo told her opponent, "but her effect still hits you for some damage!" (Ember: LP 3,400 - 800 = 2,600)

"So that chick's monster can do piercing damage, huh?" said Gilda. "That's pretty ruthless... I like it."

"And now Ember's out of monsters," stated Fluttershy, "so the next attack will be on her Life Points..."

And just as the animal-lover predicted, Bolt's other monster - Amazoness Baby Tiger, pounced forward and literally took a bite out of Ember, dealing some more damage (Ember: LP 2,600 - 1,300 = 1,300). Even after taking the hit, the blue girl smirked and said, "Not bad... But I'm still in this Duel, Indigo."

"Maybe...for now." the toga-wearing girl replied. "But unless you can do something on your next turn, I'll have you beat next turn! So go ahead and make your move!"

"We'll see who has who beat..." Ember said as she reached for the top card of her Deck.

Meanwhile, back in the audience seats, the trench coat-wearing man with sunglasses smirked a little to himself as he watched the Duel. Then, all of a sudden, a voice next to him spoke, saying, "You know, Torch...if you're attempting to keep a low profile, you'll have to do much better than that."

"Huh?! How did you-?" But when the man saw that the person who spoke to him was Vice Principal Luna, he got the answer to his question right away. Huffing, he removed his hat and sunglasses, revealing himself as none other than Torch - Ember's father and former Pro Duelist. "Luna..." he said in a tone that suggested that he wasn't too pleased to see her. "You're still here in Canterlot, I see..."

"My sister and I were invited as guests for the competition." the dark-blue woman told him. "Anyway, it has been a while since we have last seen each other, Torch."

"...I suppose it has." the large man responded.

"...I don't suppose you are still bitter about what happened between us years ago, at the National Tournament?" Luna then asked him. "I'd heard rumors that you quit dueling shortly afterwards..." At first, neither of them spoke regarding the subject. Then she added, "Look: I had no idea that you would take losing that Duel so hard... For what it's worth, I'm sorry."

At first, Torch said nothing to what one could only assume was his bitter rival. But then said, "I don't need your pity, Luna... However, I do appreciate the comment." Looking back towards the Duel in progress, he told her, "Besides, that's behind me now. Right now, my focus is on Ember down there."

"I see, so I was right:" Luna figured out. "She's YOUR daughter. I could tell; she shares the same style of dueling as you once did. And from how she has been playing so far, it's clear that you have taught her well."

"What you've seen so far is minute compared to what she has accomplished with me during her training exercises." Torch said, finally forming a slight smirk. "Just see for yourself...as my daughter wins this Duel!" Luna nodded and sat down with her former dueling rival to watch the rest of the match.

Looking at her Deck, Ember thought to herself, (Okay...this is pretty much my last shot at winnin' this Duel... If I don't draw something good now, I'll be out of the tournament. But there's no way I'm letting that happen! I trained for weeks to up my game so that the next time I fight Sunset, I can give it my all!) Placing her fingers on the top card of her Deck, she added, (Dad...at first, you were against me being a Duelist... But now you've helped me become even stronger... Thanks to you, I know I've become an even better Duelist. And I'm not gonna let all that training of ours go to waste!)

Sunset watched Ember as she prepared to start her turn. As a Judge, she wasn't allowed to play favorites to any of the competitors. However - in the back of her mind, she wanted Ember to win, so that the two of them could hopefully have a proper Duel between each other.

"It's my turn! I draw!" the Bloodstone Duelist shouted as she finally drew her card for the turn. She then looked at what she got and said, "Perfect...!" Looking over towards her opponent, she said, "You put up a great fight, Indigo...but now this Duel's about to end!"

"E-end??" asked the younger girl. "How? What did you draw?"

Chuckling a little, she revealed the card she drew and said, "I play Return of the Dragon Lords!"

Gasping, Indigo said, "No way!! You actually drew that card?! Now, of all times?! That's unbelievable!!"

"Well, believe it!" said Ember, placing the card into her D-Pad. "Thanks to this card, I can bring back any Dragon from my Graveyard that's either Level 7 or Level 8!"

"A-are you gonna use that to bring Felgrand Dragon back?" asked Indigo, getting a bit nervous.

"Yes and no." stated the blue-skinned girl. "The monster I'm bringing back is a different version of my previous monster; to be more specific, it was the card that I discarded when I brought out my Dragon Ice." Taking the card in question from her Graveyard, she then placed it onto her field and shouted, "Now! Return from the grave! Divine Dragon Lord Felgrand!!" Instantly, a dragon that looked similar to her previous big monster - but with an even more brilliant shine, came from out of a dark-purple vortex in the ground, taking its place behind its master (Divine Dragon Lord Felgrand: Level 8 / ATK 2800 / DEF 2800).

(So she had a plan to defend herself during my turn AND set up to Summon a really powerful monster on her next turn...!) Bolt realized. (Was she thinking that far ahead when she used Dragon Ice's effect??)

Ember then looked at her D-Pad's screen; there she saw a list of the cards in her own Graveyard, including the Spell Card that she had just played. She then recalled that it was one of her father's favorite cards, which may have spurred her into getting a copy of the card for herself. She then glanced behind her and saw Torch sitting in the stands (although he was in disguise, she knew he would be coming to see her Duel; he never told her directly, but figured it out after hearing he had suddenly taken the weekend off). Although the large man still had a fierce look on his face, he was also smiling, apparently proud of his daughter for her good move.

Smiling back to him and nodding, she mentally thanked him for all of the support he had given to her before turning her attention back to the Duel. "Now I activate the effect of Divine Dragon Lord Felgrand!" she declared. "When it's Summoned from the Graveyard, I get to banish any one of your monsters! And I choose to banish...your Empress!"

"Aw no! Not her!!" protested Indigo. But it was too late: Ember's mighty Dragon roared as it shone an even stronger light, forcing everyone (except Ember) to shield their eyes. Amazoness Empress tried her best to resist the beast's power, but in the end, she fell victim to it and disappeared without a trace. "My Amazoness Empress!" the toga-wearing girl cried out. "She's gone!"

"And because she is," the Bloodstone Duelist told her, "Felgrand gains an additional eight hundred attack points: One hundred times the Level of your Empress." (Divine Dragon Lord Felgrand: ATK 2800 + 800 = 3600 / DEF 2800 + 800 = 3600)

"...When Amazones Empress is removed from my field due to your card effect," Bolt told her, "her effect brings Amazoness Queen back from my Graveyard in Defense Mode." Just as she said, her Queen reappeared on the field (Amazoness Queen: ATK 2400 + 200 = 2600), but from the tone of Bolt's voice, she knew that she wasn't going to win now. Especially because Summoning Amazoness Queen weakened her other monster (Amazoness Baby Tiger: ATK 1300 - 100 = 1200). Looking over at her opponent, she told her, "It's over... Just...just get on with it."

Ember hesitated at first, feeling a bit sorry for her opponent. Even so, she knew that she had to finish the Duel properly; holding back out of sympathy for her opponent would only serve to harm both their spirits in the long run. Making her last move, the blue-skinned teen shouted, "Divine Dragon Lord Felgrand!! Attack Amazoness Baby Tiger!!" The Dragon then charged up its most powerful attack in its mouth, taking aim at Indigo's only Attack Position monster. "Go!! Divine Grand Light!!" The white-and-gold Dragon fired its ray of light right at the tiny tiger, creating a massive explosion.

Due to Amazoness Queen's effect, the tiger survived the attack...but it didn't matter: The blast was enough to wipe out Indigo's remaining Life Points, ending the Duel in her defeat (Indigo Bolt: LP 1,900 - 2,400 = 0) (WINNER: Ember).

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

"This Duel is over!" shouted Sunset, raising her right arm and pointing over towards Ember. "The winner is Ember!"

"And that's all she wrote, ladies and gentlemen!" Megan spoke into her microphone. "In this Duel between Amazons and Dragons, Ember has come out on top! She now advances to the Quarterfinal Round!"

Concerned, Ember walked over to her opponent, Indigo. After the Duel ended, the young girl slumped down to her knees, feeling thoroughly defeated. Ember could even see some tears in her eyes as well. "Um...are you okay, Indigo...?" she asked her.

"...How can I be...?" the toga-clad girl asked. "I lost...I just don't know where I went wrong..."

"Yeah, I know a thing or two about those situations..." Derpy noted, over hearing the conversation and feeling a little sory for Bolt.

"I thought that I had everything planned out perfectly..." Indigo said, feeling really down about the whole thing. "Am I just not good enough for something like this?"

Recalling that her father probably had similar feelings after he had been defeated years ago, Ember then said to her, "Of course you're good enough, kid!"

"Huh...? What...what do you mean...?"

"Listen:" the blue-skinned girl told her. "So what if you lost one Duel? That doesn't mean you're not good enough to be a Duelist! Everyone gets beat sometimes; heck, even Yugi himself hasn't won EVERY Duel he fought. But just because you lost a Duel, it doesn't make you a complete failure; it only means you've still got more to learn. In other words, you should take your defeat not as a set-back, but as stepping stone to become an even better Duelist! I know, it's a bit cliché, but I'm only sayin' it 'cause it's true!"

Wiping her eyes, Bolt then asked her, "Do...do you really mean that?"

"I mean it, all right." Ember responded. "Believe me, I've been through it myself. After I had my first loss, I felt crushed at first... But after thinking about it all some more, I began to see weaknesses that I never knew I had. And once I did, I worked hard to overcome them. It's a bit weird to say it, but losing that Duel might have been the best thing to ever happen to me, because now I've gotten even stronger as a result of it. And now...you can try and do the same." Reaching her hand out and smiling, she then said, "Now get up and cheer up, Indigo. After all, I don't think it'd be proper for an Amazon Warrior to cry after a loss."

Looking at the hand in front of her, Bolt did nothing at first. But after hearing what her opponent had said to her, she felt a lot better, smiling as she took ahold of Ember's hand. "You're right, Ember... Believe ME: I'm not about to quit Dueling just because of one loss. I'll work on my Deck and strategies and try to figure out what my weaknesses are... And once I get a bit stronger, I'm comin' back for a rematch!"

"I'm lookin' forward to it, Indigo." the Bloodstone teen replied. Then, without warning, Indigo gave a friendly hug to her opponent, which elicited an exasperated sigh out of Ember. "Yeesh, again with the hugging..." she groaned. "Haven't these Canterlot people ever heard of a simple handshake?"

From the stands above them, Torch had heard every word that his daughter had said. Between that, as well as remembering his loss to Luna years ago, he took a deep sigh and said to the woman, "Luna... Earlier I said I didn't need you to apologize for beating me at the Nationals..."

"Yes, I recall that you said something to that effect." Luna responded. "What about it?"

Struggling to admit it, the large man said to her, "Well...you may know it already, but...I suppose the reason I said that was because...well...I'M the one who should be apologizing to YOU."

"Hm? Is that so?"

Torch nodded and said, "After you handed me my first defeat, I couldn't believe it. I was so frustrated and angry, that I didn't know how to process my emotions. The only thing I could think of was to quit dueling and try to hide my loss from everyone else... But recent events have shown me that it was a most foolish thing to do... I still can't believe I tried to ban my own daughter from dueling just because I was so bitter about that day." Sighing again, he added, "To think, my own daughter is much more mature than I ever was..."

"...Maybe... Maybe not." Luna spoke to him. "But you should give yourself much more credit: You've clearly learned from your errors and are working hard to become a better father figure towards your daughter. I daresay, you may have learned more from your loss at the Nationals than you may think you have. And on that note..." The woman then removed her backpack and set it in-between her and Torch.

"What's in there?" the large man asked.

"...When I heard that the daughter of a Pro Duelist from Bloodstone was entering the tournament, I had a hunch that you would show up to watch her duel." the vice principal told him. "So...just in case you did, I brought this with me." She then opened the pack and pulled out a shiny, silver object.

"Wh-what is this?" asked Torch, despite that he had a feeling that he already knew what it was.

"The second-place trophy." Luna answered. "From the National Tournament. You ran off before they could award it to you."

"...And...you've been keeping it all this time?" asked the man, a bit surprised.

The woman nodded. "I was waiting for the perfect moment to give it to you. And I can think of no better time than now." she told him. "So go on and take it, Torch... I'm certain you've been wanting to fill that empty spot in your trophy case back home for some time."

At first, Torch wasn't sure if he should take it or not. But when he looked up from the trophy and towards Luna, her face told him that she was serious. Sighing contently, he took ahold of the trophy and said, "...Thank you, Luna. This means a lot to me."

"You're very welcome, Torch." the dark-blue woman said. "By the way, I also put a little extra something into the trophy cup." Getting up to leave, she added, "Assuming you still have your Red-Eyes Deck, perhaps you could try it out next time you Duel someone...assuming you can find the free time; I know how busy the real estate business can be sometimes."

Torch then reached into the cup and picked out a card that was sitting inside of it. Staring at it for a while, he then looked at Luna, smirked and said, "I might have some free time right now."

"Hm...? Is that a challenge, Torch?" asked the vice principal. Of course, she knew the answer to that question...

Back down in the arena, Sunset walked over to both Ember and Indigo. "Great dueling, both of you." she congratulated them. "You two were amazing out there!"

"Yeah, that was so awesome!" complimented Spike. "The way that big dragon showed up and shot that big light out of his mouth; that was the coolest thing ever!"

"Yeah, well I can't take all the credit." Ember replied. "My dragon did a lot of the work."

Twilight then asked Indigo, "Are you...going to be alright? You seemed a little down after you lost..."

"I'll get over it." the toga-wearing girl replied. "I fought my best out there, and I got the chance to take on a great Duelist like Ember here, so it wasn't a total bummer." Facing her rival, she told her, "Ember, like I said earlier, I want to take you on again after I've gotten a little stronger. When I do, will you accept my challenge?"

"Of course I will." the blue teen replied. "I'd be happy to take you on again someday." She then turned to Sunset and said to her, "And I hope you haven't forgotten our promise, Sunset."

Shaking her head, the red-and-yellow teen told her, "I haven't forgotten, Ember. Once this tournament's over, you and I will have our Duel, assuming you do well enough in the competition." The Bloodstone Duelist nodded, satisfied with that answer before she and Indigo parted ways, heading towards the competitors' seating area to watch the rest of the First Round matches.

"The next pair for the First Round will be announced five minutes from now!" shouted Megan. "So get ready, Duelists, in case your name is called!"

Looking over at the seating area for the competing Duelists, Sunset could see that some were anxious to compete in the next match. Others - such as Fluttershy and Gabby, were still a little nervous about it all. The one thing that the inter-dimensional girl DIDN'T see...was Sonata; she had vanished some time before Ember and Indigo had their Duel. (That's weird...) she thought, (she still not back yet... If she was going to the bathroom or getting something to eat, she should've been back by now...) Clicking a button on her Duel Gazer, she spoke into it saying, "Are you still there?"

"Yeah, we're still here, Sunset." said Snips's voice on the other end.

"Have you found Sonata and the other Dazzlings yet?" she then asked him.

"Uhhh...not yet." Snips told her. "But we're lookin' everywhere. We'll let ya know if we find 'em."

"Good. Keep the line open and let me know anything that you guys find out." Sunset told them before cutting the line.

"Still nothin' about those Dazzling girls yet?" asked Spike.

"Nothing yet..." the jacket-wearing teen answered, "but the fact that they were gone during the entire Duel is pretty suspicious... But I'm not going to just wait for them to cause trouble for everybody here. I'll figure out just what they're planning and make sure that they don't carry it out. But if they are on the level, then I'm fine with that too. But I highly doubt that'll be the case."

"Maybe..." Twilight responded. "For now, all we can do is wait and see what happens next..."

"Mhmm..." Sunset hummed, nodding her head as she did so. The inter-dimensional teen was still unsure just why the Dazzlings were here and what they were up to, but she was determined to make sure that any attempt at revenge on their part would not disrupt the tournament for those watching or competing. For now, she had her duties as a Judge to worry about, so she put aside her thoughts concerning the Dazzlings for the moment in order to focus on the task at hand. She - along with the competitors and audience members, waited to see who would be paired up to Duel next...

After five minutes had passed, Megan spoke into her microphone, saying, "Alrighty, Duel Monsters fans! It's now time to announce the next two Duelists competing in Round 1! So let's begin the selection! Duelist Slot Machine, GO!!!" Everyone watched the spinning reels as they cycled through the remaining Duelists, wondering who would be picked next. As the reels slowed down, the MC said, "And our next two Duelists arrrrrrrrrre...Slid Diamond and Steel Shadows!!"

The audience members looked around at each other, not sure who either of them were (since they weren't from around the area). But they would soon know after both two Duelists in question walked out into the arena. It had only been a little while since Indigo and Ember had finished their Duel, but the action was about to heat up again...

Meanwhile, outside of the arena, a small crowd was gathering to see another Duel take place: Standing opposite from each other were Luna and Torch, who had strapped on their Duel Pads, preparing to fight each other. After having shuffled their Decks and slipping them into their devices, the dark-blue woman looked up towards her rival, saying, "I've heard that it has been a while since you've dueled for real, Torch...I hope for your sake your skills haven't diminished any..."

Chuckling a little, the large man said to her, "That's where you're wrong, Luna... After all, who do you think my daughter has been sparring against during her training?" After the card trays from their D-Pads unfolded, he then added, "If you expect to beat me as easily as you did all those years ago, think again!"

Smiling, Luna then told him, "I was just joking, Torch; I'm more than certain that you've improved since you've started training your daughter. Besides, as long as we can enjoy ourselves, it won't matter to me which one of us wins or loses."

"I suppose that is true, Luna." Torch simply replied. As their own personal audience continued to gather around them, the two of them drew their opening hands, ready to start a friendly match with each other for the first time in years...

"Let's DUEL!!!"

-- To Be Continued...

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TOURNAMENT RESULTS (Round 1):

1. Indigo Bolt vs. Ember [WINNER: Ember]
2. ??? vs. ???
3. ??? vs. ???
4. ??? vs. ???
5. ??? vs. ???
6. ??? vs. ???
7. ??? vs. ???
8. ??? vs. ???

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