• Published 30th Apr 2016
  • 9,479 Views, 993 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 49: The Quarterfinals Begin!:

Author's Note:

Yes, FINALLY this episode is finished! We're now moving on to the next round of Duels, where I have a lot of ideas I wish to try out. Also, at the request of some people, I'm going to have some different "side stories" running along with the main plot, which even include more Duels with other characters.

Anyway, enjoy the latest episode!

EDIT: I want to thank Aerodragon2 for pointing out a small, but noticeable error in the Duel. I believe that I managed to fix it without any further issues.

RANK 49: The Quarterfinals Begin!:
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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...

The Duel Monsters tournament taking place on Canterlot High's campus has just now reached the climax of its first round, with Sweetie Belle - a Duelist in-training, having managed to overcome Zecora's Witchcrafter Deck with the help of her Crystal Beasts. Now she moves onto the Quarterfinal Round, along with seven other Duelists. They include Ember (daughter of former Pro Duelist Torch), Steel Shadows (a nomadic Duelist), Gilda (the strongest Duelist at Griffonstone High and granddaughter of a former Pro), Fluttershy (a friend of Sunset Shimmer who had faced Gilda in the Interschool Duel), Sonata Dusk (one of the Dazzlings, whom Sunset suspects is up to no good), Bright Mind (a Duelist that was an expert strategist), and Octavia Melody (a skilled cellist and friend of Vinyl Scratch). Who among them will get to move onto the Semifinal Round?

Meanwhile, in the Duel Monsters Spirit World, Mana (a.k.a. the Dark Magician Girl) was on a mission to locate the mysterious Dark Sage, Torunka. Along the way, she met a travelling companion in the form of Sparkman, one of the Elemental HEROes. The two made their way to a massive junkyard and met two more friends: Junky and Speedy. The pair explained that a massive dragon made of trash had been terrorizing the junkyard with no one to oppose it. Despite the odds against them, Mana and Sparkman elected to help them fight the creature. At first, it seemed like things wouldn't go well for them, but after Junky managed to repair and activate a mysterious engine, he ended up merging with Speedy to become the Junk Warrior, who managed to slay the once-powerful dragon.

What does fate have in store for our heroes this time? Read on and find out...

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The dingy, smoke-filled scrapyard had been the setting of a great battle, pitting Mana and Sparkman against a massive creature known as the Scrap Dragon. The dragon had once been the scourge of the junkyard, attacking and frightening everyone and everything that it could see. But now its reign of terror had ended: Two residents of the junkyard, Junky and Speedy, used the power of a mysterious engine-like device and ended up combining their energies together. The result of the union was a powerful fighter named Junk Warrior, who used his new power to defeat Scrap Dragon with a single punch...and lived to tell the tale.

"J-Junky!! I-I-I mean Junk Warrior! You're okay!!" cheered Mana, happy to see that he was alright.

"That's good to see..." said Sparkman, sighing out of relief. "For a second there, I thought...well, who cares? You're alright, and that's what matters." As he and the magician girl walked over to meet him, the superhero then said, "That was a pretty sweet move you pulled there, knocking that guy down with just one punch. How'd you do it?"

Looking at the hand that delivered the mighty blow, Junk Warrior then answered, saying, "My powers are still relatively new, so I can't say for sure how I did it... All I can say is that, as I was readying my attack, I could...'feel' the spirits of my friends..." He glanced over at three other creatures - a pink bird, a hedgehog with bolts instead of quills, and a small ladybug with a star on its back, and continued to say, "I could feel their hopes, their dreams... That feeling seemed to become a strength all in its own. It defies all scientific thought, but...I know this to be true..."

"Hmmm...I think I get it." Mana spoke up. "You somehow managed to turn those feelings that you mentioned into power, and that's what allowed you to overcome that dragon and defeat it."

"You sure about that?" asked Sparkman.

"Pretty sure, at least." she answered him. "Trust me: I know a thing or two about how powerful friendship can truly be." She then turned to Junk Warrior and said to him, "In any case, thank you for everything. Now this junkyard doesn't have to worry about that monster coming back ever again."

"It is I who must thank you, Mana." Junk Warrior told her. "It was because of you and Sparkman that I - or rather Junky and Speedy, gained the courage to help you. I would not be who I am now had it not been for the two of you - quite literally in fact, and for that, I owe you a great debt."

"Hey, no problem." Sparkman replied casually. "Helpin' people is what we do best."

Junk Warrior then asked, "I almost forgot to ask, considering the situation we were in earlier... Why have the two of you come here? What brought you to our junkyard in the first place?"

"Hmmmm... Oh! I remember!" Mana exclaimed. "Sparkman and I were on a journey to find the legendary Dark Sage."

"The Dark Sage, you say?" asked the spectacled warrior.

"You've heard of him?" asked Sparkman.

"I've heard some things," Junk Warrior answered, "such as how he is known as one of the oldest residents of the Spirit World, and has extensive knowledge of our world as well. Tell me: Why are you seeking him?"

"I have a question that only he could possibly know the answer to." Mana explained. "My master sent me to look for him some time ago."

"And I tagged along to help keep her safe during the trip." Sparkman chimed in.

"I see..." said Junk Warrior, thinking. "In that case, perhaps I may be able to help. We can all return to my home and rest ourselves. Afterwards, I can check my computer database for information regarding the Dark Sage. I - and by that I mean Junky, have compiled large amounts of information regarding all sorts of things. Perhaps something pertaining to the goal of your journey might be among that information."

"You really think so?" asked Mana. "That's great! If this works out, we might have a better idea of where to look for the Dark Sage!"

"That would be a big help." said Sparkman. "That is, assuming that he does have the info we're lookin' for."

"We will see soon enough." Junk Warrior responded. "For now, we could all use a rest. Follow me back to my home, and I will do my best to help in any way I can." The others nodded and followed the warrior back to his underground dwelling.

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Meanwhile, back in the "real" world, the final Duel of the Qualifier Tournament had just concluded: Sweetie Belle, Rarity's younger sister, managed to come from behind and win her Duel against Zecora, another formidable player. After Sweetie called out her final attack, she managed to drop Zecora's Life Points to zero, claiming victory. "This Duel is over!" declared Sunset Shimmer, the official Judge of the tournament. "Sweetie Belle is the winner! She will move on to the Quarterfinals!" This announcement was followed by a massive amount of cheers from the audience.

"You heard it here, everybody!" announced Meghan Williams, the tournament MC. "Sweetie Belle, one of our youngest competitors, is moving on to the next round thanks to her impressive finishing move! She'll now join our other seven winners in the Quarterfinal Round!"

"Yeah!! Way to go, Sweetie Belle!!" cheered Rainbow Dash from the stands.

"Did you see that?!" Rarity asked a nearby audience member sitting behind her. "That's MY little sister down there! Isn't she just the best Duelist EVER?!" The other person just smiled and nodded in response, a bit startled at having been asked such a question out of the blue.

Sweetie Belle just simply stood there, eyes wide and mouth open; it seemed even SHE didn't believe that she managed to win the Duel. "I...I won..." she squeaked out. "I...actually won..." Once the realization came to her, her eyes sparkled with delight as she began jumping up and down repeatedly, shouting, "I won! I won!! I actually won!! I can't believe it! I won!!"

"Yes, indeed you have done very well." said the voice of Zecora as she walked up to her opponent. Putting her hand out to offer a friendly handshake, she then added, "Congratulations, Sweetie Belle."

"Uh...thanks!" the younger girl responded, accepting the handshake. "You were really, really good too! I almost thought you had me a few times."

Chuckling, the tribal woman spoke to her, saying, "Ahead of you, there is still a long road. But if you believe in yourself, you can overcome any foe." And with a friendly smile, Zecora left the stadium, happy to have faced such a strong opponent.

Sunset, Twilight, and Spike then approached Sweetie Belle to congratulate her as well. "Great job out there, Sweetie." Sunset told her. "That was an impressive victory."

"I'll say it was!" Spike commented. "The way you cleared out Zecora's entire half of the field was amazing!"

Giggling and giving the dragon-turned-puppy a pat on the head, Sweetie then said, "Thanks! I just hope that I can keep that up in the next round, too!"

"I'm sure you'll do just fine." Twilight assured her. "Just stay confident in yourself and remember that we're all right here rooting for you." Sweetie Belle nodded to say she understood.

At that moment, Meghan then made another announcement, saying, "We will now have a fifteen-minute intermission before the Quarterfinals begin. Duelists and spectators, use that time to refresh and prepare yourselves!"

As most of the audience left their seats to take care of matters (such as getting food, going to use the bathroom, or just simply stretching their legs out), Sunset then told Sweetie Belle. "Okay, you heard the MC: Take this time to figure out what your strategy will be for the next Duel. Did you remember to stack your Side Deck with plenty of helpful cards?"

"I sure did!" the young Duelist responded. "And I'll make sure to pick the right ones for my next Duel!" She then ran off to find a nice, quiet spot to work out her strategy for the next round.

"Side Deck?" asked Spike. "What's that?"

"It's a set of cards that are initially placed separate from the Main Deck and Extra Deck." Sunset explained to him. "During a best-two-out-of-three Match, or during a tournament, Duelists are allowed to swap out cards from their Main Deck and/or Extra Deck with whatever cards they have in the Side Deck."

"Hold on," the purple puppy began to point out, "I thought you told us that players couldn't change their Decks during the tournament."

"You're almost right, Spike." the red-and-yellow teen told him. "That rule only forbids people from swapping in cards outside of their Main Deck, Extra Deck, or Side Deck; THAT is illegal. But swapping out with Side Deck cards is perfectly fine."

"Oh, I see." Spike replied. "So why would someone want to change cards in their Deck?"

"Because unlike the first round matches, the Duelists are not randomly paired." Sunset answered him. "Therefore, everyone knows who their opponent is before they have to fight them. Because of that, they may want to swap for cards in their Side Decks so that their next match might be easier."

"I get it." Twilight spoke up. "Because they know who they'll be facing, a player may decide to alter their strategy according to whoever their opponent is. For instance, they may be able to include cards that might work specifically against the opponent they're fighting against."

"Exactly, Twilight." Sunset confirmed. "Often times, a tournament Duel or even a standard Match can be won or lost depending on what a Duelist includes in their Side Deck. And that's what may even decide the outcomes of these next few Duels: Everyone knows who they'll be fighting; they just have to figure out HOW to fight them."

Shortly after explaining all of that, two boys ran up to where Sunset and the others were; they were Snips and Snails, Sunset's former henchmen from back when she terrorized the school. This time, however, the two boys were helping Sunset and her friends gather information on three other individuals that were involved in the tournament: Adagio, Aria, and Sonata (the latter of which actually participating in the competition), collectively known as the Dazzlings. "Sunset! Sunset!" Snips called out to the jacket-wearing teen.

Recognizing the voice, Sunset turned to face them and said to them, "Oh, it's you two! Have you found out anything yet?"

"Well...uh... Lemme see..." pondered Snails, trying to recall what he and his buddy had learned so far. Suffice it to say, he was having some...trouble remembering it all.

"Ugh...! Don't you remember?!" Snails asked his friend. "We were tailing those Dazzling chicks and trying to figure out what they're up to!"

"And...? What did you find out?" Sunset inquired a second time.

Snips then spoke up, telling them all, "Well for a while, we kept an eye on them without them seeing us, but they didn't act weird or anything... But sometime after Sonata finished her Duel and after she left the arena, we couldn't find her."

"She just vanished?" asked Twilight. "But why?"

"We don't know." the short, chubby boy answered. "But we DID see the other two talking to each other while watching the rest of the Duels. But again, Sonata wasn't anywhere near them."

"That does seem kinda weird..." thought Spike. "I thought they were always in a group together..."

"Indeed..." hummed Sunset. "And there's also the fact that Sonata may not have been watching the rest of the first round Duels, either. There is the possibility that she was watching the tournament from somewhere else, but why would she leave Adagio and Aria just to do the same thing that they were? Why was she even away from them in the first place...?" She then asked the boys, "Did Adagio or Aria do anything else while you were watching them?"

"Nope." said Snails. "They just sat there, watching the screen..."

"Yeah, what he said." Snips confirmed. "If anything, they seemed to be watching each of the Duels really closely... But I didn't find that unusual, really..."

Sunset hummed for a while, thinking about everything that Snips and Snails had told her. After pondering for a while, she then smiled and told them, "Thanks for your help. I'm sure what you've found out will be a big help to me. Why don't you two head up into the audience and watch the rest of the tournament? I'll take care of things from here."

"Okay! Good luck, Sunset!" Snips replied.

"Yeah! Good luck!" Snails repeated. The two boys then ran off to join the rest of the audience.

"So?" Spike began to ask. "Did you figure out what the Dazzlings are up to?"

"No, nothing yet." the jacket-clad teen answered him. "But what Snips and Snails told me so far is enough for me to figure that they ARE up to something... I just need to find out what that is. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like we'll have any answers to that question just yet."

"Don't worry, Sunset." Twilight reassured her, putting her hand on her friend's shoulder. "I'm certain that, if the Dazzlings are trying to do something bad, you'll figure it out and stop them. You're one of the smartest people I know in this world, so I know you'll make sure that whatever they do won't ruin the tournament."

"Twilight's right!" Spike chimed in. "We've battled so many bad guys by this point, we know it's only a matter of time before they slip up and make a mistake."

"You're both right." Sunset replied. "I should be satisfied just knowing that they are up to something; there's no need to rush to try and find out what that 'something' is. I'll just keep a close eye on them and hope that, sooner or later, they'll tip their hand and reveal their true motives. They don't know about the information that Snips and Snails told us just now, so they aren't aware that we know that they are indeed up to something. So for now, we'll just play like we're completely clueless to their agenda, whatever it is."

"Got it." said Twilight and Spike with a nod.

Looking at her watch, Sunset saw what time it was and exclaimed, "Oops! Only two minutes before the Quarterfinals start! I'd better get ready!"

"Do your best out there, Sunset!" said Twilight. "We'll be right here if you need us."

"Yeah, go for it!" cheered Spike as he offered his support as well.

"Thanks, both of you." said Sunset, shaking Twilight's hand and Spike's paw before they parted ways; Sunset returned to the arena's center, while Twilight and Spike sat back down on the bench that they had been using during the first few Duels.

During the next two minutes, all of the audience members, as well as the remaining Duelists in the tournament, returned to the main arena to begin the next series of Duels. Once everyone was accounted for, Meghan switched on her microphone and spoke into it, saying, "Alllllright, Duelists and spectators! Are you all ready to see some more dueling action?!"

The audience cheered loudly in response, getting pumped up for the next round.

"That's great to hear!" said Sunset, speaking into her own microphone. "Because now we're ready to begin the Quarterfinal Round of the Canterlot City WCQ Qualification Tournament!" Then, for a second, she covered her mic and said to herself, (Wow...that was certainly a mouthful...) Clearing her throat, she then said, "Unlike in the first round, matchups will not be randomly determined! Therefore, everyone participating in this round will know who they will duel against! During the intermission, they all had time to prepare their Decks, using whatever was available in their Side Deck in hopes of standing a better chance against their next opponent!"

Continuing the announcement, Meghan then said, "Our first Duel will pit Ember - daughter of former Pro Duelist Torch, against the wandering Duelist Steel Shadows!" The two Duelists in question looked over at each other with fierce, battle-ready eyes; no doubt, the first Duel of this round would be an intense one with competitors such as them.

"The second match will be between Gilda of Griffonstone High and Fluttershy of Canterlot High!" Meghan continued. "This Duel will be quite interesting, as both of them had previously fought each other right here at this school during an inter-school competition!"

"O-o-o-oh my...!" squeaked Fluttershy. "Our Duel will be coming up soon..."

"Hey, don't get so worried, Flutters." Gilda said, trying to calm her down. "If you get too nervous, then we won't be able to give this audience the best Duel we can give 'em! Trust me: You've got what it takes to get this far, and I want you coming at me with everything you've got!"

Happy to know that Gilda thought so highly of her, Fluttershy calmed down a bit, saying, "You're right... I can do this...!"

"For our third Duel," Meghan said next, "Dazzling member Sonata Dusk will face off against the intelligent and shrewd strategist, Bright Mind!"

Upon hearing Sonata's name, Sunset glanced over to where the eight quarterfinalists were standing, spotting the blue-skinned, ponytail-wearing Dazzling immediately. (Looks like Sonata's still here, and she's with the other two as well...) the red-and-yellow teen thought to herself. (Just what are you three up to...?)

"And for the final match of this round," Meghan said, wrapping up her announcements, "the musical Duelist, Octavia Melody will do battle against the young - but strong, Sweetie Belle!!" Octavia and Sweetie looked over at each other, saying nothing as they both smiled and shook hands, as a way of saying good luck to each other.

"And now, Duelists and spectators..." Sunset began to say, "let the Quarterfinals begin!!" The audience cheered loudly once more, itching to see the next round of Duels with great enthusiasm.

"And on that note," Meghan began to say, "will our first two finalists enter the main arena now?"

On cue, both Ember and Steel Shadows left the group consisting of the other competing Duelists and walked towards the field in the center of the stadium. All the while, the crowds cheered loudly, eager to see what these two competitors would be capable of. They weren't the only ones...

(So...I'm fighting that Steel guy and his Six Samurais, huh?) thought Ember as she looked at her opponent. (According to his last opponent, Slid Diamond, this guy won the big Duel Monsters tournament in Baltimare. There were supposedly a lot of strong players there, too...and he managed to defeat them all. No doubt he's a strong Duelist with credentials like that...) Looking at her Deck and D-Pad with a look of determination and confidence, she then said to herself, (Still, that doesn't mean I can't win this! I entered this tournament in order to take my first step to becoming a Pro Duelist, just like my dad! And so that I can give Sunset Shimmer the Duel I should have given her when we first met! So sorry, Steel...but I'm NOT losing to you!)

Steel Shadows was also looking over at his competition, thinking to himself about what he was going to face once he and Ember would begin their Duel. (Ember...) he pondered, (daughter of former Pro Duelist Torch... I've seen how powerful he used to be, and it's safe to assume he trained you well. After all, you managed to defeat the one Duelist who scored a One-Turn-Kill during the Preliminary Round. I joined this tournament to face worthy opponents, and I am certain that you are one of them. As such, I will not hold anything back!)

"Are both Duelists ready?" asked Sunset Shimmer. When both of the contestants gave a confirming nod, she then shouted, "In that case, let the first Quarterfinal Duel begin!"

"LET"S DUEL!!" shouted both Ember and Steel as they drew their opening hands (Steel Shadows: LP 4,000) (Ember: LP 4,000).

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Elsewhere, in the Spirit World, Mana, Sparkman, and their new friend Junk Warrior were taking a short rest in the underground chambers following their climactic battle against the Scrap Dragon, who had once terrorized the place. Now that the dragon was no more, everyone could finally rest easy. While Junk Warrior went to his makeshift lab to look up some information, Mana and Sparkman were enjoying a hearty victory meal. The three smaller creatures that were with them - the pink bird, the bolt-covered hedgehog, and the large ladybug, were sleeping soundly in a corner of the room.

"BUUUURRRRRRP!" belted a sound from the dining table, were all sorts of good food could be found. The belch came from Sparkman, who most certainly enjoyed his meal.

Mana, blushing a little out of embarrassment, said to him in a sort of "disappointed mother" tone of voice, "Really...? Did we ALL have to hear you when you did that?"

"Aheheh... sorry 'bout that, Mana." the superhero apologized. "I just can't remember the last time I had food this good!"

"Well, if you keep burping like that, it's gonna be hard to forget about it anytime soon!" she responded. Taking a small bite of a slice of ice cream cake in front of her, she then commented, "I do agree though: This IS pretty good...considering the fact that Junky made it using what was once a broken-down old stove."

"What did ya expect?" Sparkman asked rhetorically. "The dude's a genius. I mean, after fixing that weird engine and turning into that big warrior, cooking a big dinner is probably as easy to him as walking is to us." Glancing over at the neighboring room, he then asked, "Speaking of that guy, it looks like he's still holed up in that lab of his... What's taking him so long?"

"Well, he IS trying to look up information regarding the Dark Sage," Mana answered him, "a person that almost nobody knows where he is. So it doesn't surprise me that it's taking long for even someone like him to find anything about the sage's location, or even anything about him."

"Yeah, I guess you're right." Sparkman admitted. "I guess we really shouldn't expect even a smart guy like him to come across something just like that." He then snapped his fingers to emphasize his point.

Just then, Junk Warrior rushed out of his lab and into the room where Mana and Sparkman were. Though his face showed no visible expression, his voice and actions spoke loud enough. "I've done it!! I've come across something!!"

A bit surprised, Sparkman then commented, "Or...maybe we SHOULD have expected it."

Mana was also surprised that Junk Warrior had found something so soon. "Is it true? Have you found out anything about the Dark Sage?!"

"Well, no...but also yes." the purple-armored warrior answered.

"Uh, it's either one or the other, buddy." Sparkman told him, not sure what he meant by that.

"Allow me to explain:" Junk Warrior began. "While I wasn't able to find any direct information regarding the Dark Sage or his whereabouts, I do believe I have found a place that may carry the info that we need to locate him."

"And where is that?" asked the magician girl.

"Come with me, and I'll show you." Junky Warrior told them, motioning his hand to the pair to follow him into the lab. Curious, Mana and Sparkman did as they were told. After they walked inside, Junk Warrior seated himself in front of a large computer screen (which, like most of the things in the home, was built out of various pieces of scrap) while his two guests watched from behind his chair. Pulling up a window onscreen, Junk Warrior showed the two of them a picture of a vast area dominated by series of large, interconnected buildings.

"What...is that...??" asked an awe-stricken Mana.

"Is it...some kind of a city?" asked Sparkman.

"It certainly has that sort of appearance, doesn't it?" Junk asked them. "What you are looking at is the prestigious Gagaga Academy."

"Gagaga Academy??" asked Mana. "THAT'S Gagaga Academy?!"

"You've heard of the place?" Sparkman then asked her.

"There's not a magic-user in the entire Spirit World that doesn't know about it!" the magician girl answered him. "It's one of the biggest schools known, catering to Spellcasters and Warriors alike! There, they learn all sorts of skills to use in battle, not to mention developing their individual skills. If I could compare it to something, it's sort of like schools back in Endymion..."

"It also sounds a lot like our training centers back in Hero City." noted Sparkman. "From what you're saying, it could be both of those things... But why are you showing this to us, Junk Warrior?"

"Because Gagaga Academy is known for more than just its schooling system:" the purple warrior told him. "It's also known for collecting and preserving all of the known information throughout not only the Spirit World, but in other worlds as well. To put it in simpler terms: If they don't have information about the Dark Sage, no one will."

"So you're saying we need to visit Gagaga Academy to find out what we need." Mana figured. "I guess it's best move we can make. But how long will it take us to get there?"

"I will admit, it will be a long journey." Junk informed them. "But seeing as how I have been unable to find any information on the Dark Sage myself, we may not have much of a choice in the matter."

"Then I guess that settles it." Sparkman spoke up. "If Gagaga Academy is were we need to go, then we're going there."

"I agree." Junk Warrior said with a nod. "But for now, I think it would be best for us to rest ourselves before we head for the academy. After all, that battle with Scrap Dragon tired us all out."

"Wait, 'we'?" asked Mana. "Are you saying that...you want to come with us?"

"I do." Junk confirmed. "You helped save my home from that dragon. The least that I can do is offer my services and help you both on your journey."

"Are you sure?" asked Mana. "I mean, I not saying that I would refuse your offer, but what about your little friends? Are they going to be okay while you're away with us?"

Junk Warrior nodded, saying, "If you recall, the main threat to them and everyone else had been from Scrap Dragon. But now that it is no longer around here, they should be safe, especially if they stayed down here. I have made sure that they will be able to live comfortably during my absence: They will have all the food and other necessary items they need. Trust me when I say that they will be just fine, Mana."

Mana was still a bit iffy on the idea of leaving the three smaller creatures to take care of themselves, but Junk's words were enough to sway her to believe that they would be fine. "Well in that case...we'll be happy to accept your help on our journey." she told him.

"Same here." agreed Sparkman.

"Thank you...both of you." Junk Warrior told them. "I will do everything in my power to ensure that you see to the end of your mission successfully. But for now, let's rest for a while: We can begin our travels tomorrow." Mana and Sparkman nodded in agreement before leaving the lab, heading back to their meal. They would make sure they well well-rested and ready for whatever tomorrow might bring...

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Back in the "real" world, the next Duel of the tournament was already underway. Both Ember and Steel had drawn their opening hands and were looking over them, each trying to come up with the best strategy that they could. "So..." the Bloodstone Duelist started, "you ready to start this thing, or what?"

"Quite ready, Ember." Steel responded, Taking a card out of his hand and playing it. "I will begin by activating the Continuous Spell, Six Samurai United."

(That's one the cards he used in his last Duel...) noted Ember. (It lets him draw more cards if he gets counters placed on it... Looks like he's still using the Six Samurai strategy.)

"Next, I will play Temple of the Six; a Field Spell Card." her opponent continued, transforming his half of the board into a massive Japanese-style castle. "And just like my previous Spell Card, it too, gains a Bushido Counter every time a Six Samurai monster enters the field. And for every counter it has, your monsters lose 100 attack points."

"So you plan on weakening my monsters as the Duel goes on, huh?" asked Ember.

"That's part of my plan, yes." Steel answered. Taking out two more cards from his hand, he placed them face-down on his field, saying, "To finish my turn, I will Set a monster in Defense Position, and place a card in my back row. It's your move."

"Then it's my turn! I draw!" Ember then drew the top card of her Deck and looked at it. She then took a card out of her hand and placed both it and the card she drew for her turn into her D-Pad. "I'll set two of my cards face-down on the field!" she declared. "Then I'll Summon Alexandrite Dragon in Attack Mode!" In an instant, a massive, jewel-encrusted Dragon entered the field, ready to fight (Alexandrite Dragon: Level 4 / ATK 2000 / DEF 100).

"So...a high-attack monster right away, I see. You plan to overwhlem my monsters with sheer attack force, am I correct?" asked Steel Shadows.

"...That's part of my plan, yes." Ember said, repeating words that he had said to her earlier. Taking another card from her hand and playing it, she then said, "And now I'll play my own Field Spell Card: Dragon Ravine!" Her half of the field then turned into a gigantic canyon with a beautiful setting sun.

"Dragon Ravine... I should have expected as much, seeing as how you're a Dragon user." Steel told her.

"Then you can probably guess what I'm gonna do next." the blue-skinned girl said with a smirk. "I'll discard this card from my hand in order to activate one of its effects!" She then sent a card from her hand to the Graveyard, which showed a picture of small-sized dragon with red eyes and silvery-white armor-like scales. "Now I'll send Arkbrave Dragon from my Deck to the Graveyard!" And that's what she did.

"I'll bet she's planning to Summon whatever Dragon she just sent out of her Deck at some point in the Duel..." Twilight figured.

"I just hope it's as cool and awesome as those other Dragons she used in her last Duel!" Spike excitedly responded.

Still smirking, Ember then said, "Now that I've gotten all of that out of the way, I'll go into my Battle Phase and attack with Alexandrite Dragon! Attack with your Radiant Burst!" The powerful and beautiful-looking Dragon then took aim at Steel's face-down monster and fired a sparkling-white stream of energy at it, revealing it to be a ninja-like warrior with a purple-blue outfit and a tattered red scarf (Secret Six Samurai - Fuma: Level 1 / ATK 200 / DEF 1800). A second later, it was destroyed and sent to Steel's Graveyard. "Take that!" shouted the Bloodstone Duelist.

"I will take it...and then you will take this!" he responded. "After Secret Six Samurai - Fuma is destroyed, his effect allows me to Special Summon any Six Samurai monster from my Deck to take his place, and I choose to Summon my Secret Six Samurai - Genba in Defense Position!" His next monster was of another ninja-styled warrior that was packing some explosive weaponry: a large supply of cylindrical bombs draped over the front and back of his body (Secret Six Samurai - Genba: Level 2 / ATK 500 / DEF 2100).

"I see...so you wanted me to attack, correct?" asked Ember.

Nodding yes, Steel then told her, "And with Genba's Summon, I place a Bushido Counter on both of my active Spell Cards (Temple of the Six: Bushido Counters: 1) (Six Samurai United: Bushido Counters: 1). This in turn, means that my Field Spell now weakens your monster's attack strength." (Alexandrite Dragon: ATK 2000 - 100 = 1900).

"Yeah, well that's just my opening play, buddy. So don't get too high and mighty yet." Ember warned him. "So go and make your move, then."

"Very well. I draw." After he drew his top card, he placed it into his hand and took out another. "I Summon Legendary Six Samurai - Kageki in Attack Mode." And with that, his lightning-spitting warrior leapt out onto the field, ready to show his power (Legendary Six Samurai - Kageki: Level 3 / ATK 200 + 1500 = 1700 / DEF 2000). "As a result," he then added, "my Spell Cards each gain a counter, so your monster now grows weaker." (Temple of the Six: Bushido Counters: 2) (Six Samurai United: Bushido Counters: 2).

Ember could only grumble a little out of annoyance as her monster lost even more attack points (Alexandrite Dragon: ATK 1900 - 100 = 1800).

"Now I use the effect of Kageki, the monster I Summoned." Steel continued on. "After he is Normal Summoned, I can play any Level 4 or lower Six Samurai monster to the field alongside of him. And I choose my Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan." His next monster was one clad in black armor with gold trims. "And since I control two other Six Samurai, Kizan gains and additional 300 points for attack and defense." (Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan: Level 4 / ATK 1800 + 300 = 2100 / DEF 500 + 300 = 800).

"Yeah, and your Field Spell gets another counter that powers down my monster." Ember then said to him in a less-than-thrilled tone of voice (Temple of the Six: Bushido Counters: 3) (Alexandrite Dragon: ATK 1800 - 100 = 1700).

"That's right. And speaking of counters, I can now use the effect of Six Samurai United since it now carries two Bushido Counters." he then told his opponent. "Now I send it to the Graveyard and draw two more cards from my Deck." After he did that, he then said, "Now I tune Genba - a Level 2 Tuner Monster, to my Level 3 Kageki!" After he said that, his explosive-carrying warrior got out a pair of bombs that exploded in his hands. But instead of injuring him, the resulting explosion coated him with a bright light that caused him to split into to smaller light that flew up into the air, returning as a pair of green rings that surrounded Kageki (Level 2 + Level 3 = Level 5).

(A Level 5 Synchro Summon...) thought Ember. (And I'll bet I know which one it is, too...)

"Great warrior spoken of only in legend," Steel Shadows chanted, "manifest yourself before me and bring with you the fires of doom! Synchro Summon!" At that moment, Kageki transformed into three smaller lights before they, as well as the green rings, were engulfed in massive column of light. "The Legendary Six Samurai, Level 5... Shi En!" After his chant was finished, his powerful Synchro Monster, clad in red, gold, and dark-purple armor entered the field with his mighty sword raised into the air (Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En: Level 5 / ATK 2500 / DEF 1400) (Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan: ATK 2100 - 300 = 1800 / DEF 800 - 300 = 500).

"Figured you'd go for your Synchro Monster after seeing that Tuner show up..." said Ember.

"Naturally." Steel replied. "And with his Summon, I add a fourth Bushido Counter to my Field Spell, weakening your monster even further." (Temple of the Six: Bushido Counters: 4) (Alexandrite Dragon: ATK 1700 - 100 = 1600) After saying that, he then took another card from his hand and declared, "And now I shall Summon my Grandmaster of the Six Samurai, in Attack Mode!" His next monster was an older man in armor with silver-white hair (which included a short beard), an eye patch over his right eye, and a single sheathed katana in his hands. The stern, stoic look on his face suggested that he had seen many battles in his long life.

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Grandmaster of the Six Samurai:
(Effect Monster/Warrior/EARTH/Level 5/ATK 2100/DEF 800)

You can only control 1 "Grandmaster of the Six Samurai". If you control a "Six Samurai" monster, you can Special Summon this card (from your hand). If this card in your possession is destroyed by an opponent's card effect: Target 1 "Six Samurai" monster in your GY; add that target to your hand.

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"Now that my Grandmaster is on the field, I place yet another counter on my Field Spell." Steel then informed his opponent (Temple of the Six: Bushido Counters: 5) (Alexandrite Dragon: ATK 1600 - 100 = 1500). "In addition," he then told her, "I now once again have two other Six Samurais on my field, which means that my Kizan gains 300 attack and defense points." (Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan: ATK 1800 + 300 = 2100 / DEF 500 + 300 = 800)

"Woah...that Steel guy's got two monsters with 2100 attack points, and one with 2500...!" stated Flash Sentry.

"Not only that," Rarity chimed in, "but his Synchro Monster has the power to negate any of Ember's Spell or Trap Cards each turn! If there's a way out of a situation such as this, I'm not sure what it is..."

"No kidding..." said Rainbow Dash. "If he attacks her now with all of his guys, this game's over!"

"Hmmmm...is it?" asked Pinkie Pie, suggesting that something different might happen instead...

Thrusting his left hand out, palm open, Steel then said, "I enter the Battle Phase! My Shi En will attack your Paladin! Death Flame Katana!!" His Synchro Monster then unleashed his thin, but powerful blade, which was cloaked in a dark-purple fire. The warrior then flew towards Ember's monster using the wings on his armor and slashed his sword at him. After having been so heavily weakened by Steel's Field Spell, Ember's monster wasn't able to take it and was destroyed.

"Urrgh!!" grunted the girl as she took a big hit to her Life Points (Ember: LP 4,000 - 1,000 = 3,000). Even so, the Bloodstone Duelist refused to give up now. "I Special Summon a monster from my Graveyard!"

"Your Graveyard...?" asked Steel, unsure what was happening.

"Since you destroyed one of my monsters," Ember began to explain, "I can activate the effect of this card and Summon it to the field! I play Omni Dragon Brotaur in Defense Mode!" After saying that, Ember then brought forth a small dragon with silver scales, blue wings, blue eyes, and a blue jewel-like decoration on its chest (Omni Dragon Brotaur: Level 1 / ATK 0 / DEF 0).

"When Ember used the effect of her Dragon Ravine Spell Card," Sunset started to say, "she had to discard a card from her hand; I'm certain that monster she just Summoned was the card she discarded."

"So that's how she got it into the Graveyard!" said Spike.

"Yep." Twilight replied. "She was setting up for this defensive move, while also searching out an important card in her Deck. Very skillful play there, I must admit."

"Hmmm...so I see you had a defense ready for my attack, is that right?" asked Steel Shadows.

"Yeah, you could say that." Ember told him. "But I ain't through yet! Because I happen to have another monster in my hand that can be Special Summoned when any of my monsters are destroyed and sent to the Graveyard! So here comes my next monster! Interplanetarypurplythorny Dragon in Attack Mode!!" Her next monster was of a deep-purple dragon with blood-red eyes, and fiery blue "mane", and was covered in spines.

"What a move!!" said a surprised Meghan Williams. "Ember looked like she was in deep trouble, but now she's managed to bring out two monster to defend herself: Omni Dragon Brotaur, and...um...Interpurple-...um, Igneous- no, that's not it... Um... Impydimpy...Something-or-Other...! UUUUGH!!! What's with that ridiculous name?!?"

"Yeah, Ah agree..." said Applejack. "That monster's name is certainly a mouth-ful, ain't it?"

"If furr ifz!!" said the muffled voice of Pinkie Pie, who had a mouthful of her own: A mouthful of popcorn.

"Pinkie, darling...don't talk with food in your mouth." Rarity reminded her. "It's rather uncouth."

The silly pink girl nodded to say she understood and (somehow) managed to swallow the massive amount of popcorn down in one gulp. "Better?" she then asked.

"...It's...um...not worse, I suppose." the violet-haired teen replied with slightly narrowed eyes.

Looking over at both of the monsters that Ember had Summoned on him, Steel Shadows then said to himself, "Why did she put her second monster in Attack Position? She should know that my Field Spell weakens it, just as it did to her Paladin..." (Interplanetarypurplythorny Dragon: Level 5 / ATK 2200 - 500 = 1700 / DEF 1100). He was slightly suspicious of what his opponent had planned for him, but knew he had to try and attack while he had the chance. "I continue my Battle Phase and have my Grandmaster attack your...*ahem* Interplanetary-purply-thorny Dragon." he then declared, saying the name of her monster slowly so as not to trip over his words. And with that order, his next monster rushed in to attack.

"Not so fast!" shouted Ember. "I activate the Trap Card, Dragon's Rebirth! Now by banishing any Dragon that I have on the field, I can bring out a new Dragon from either my hand or my Graveyard! And I target Omni Dragon Brotaur on my field to be banished!"

"You should know that won't work." Steel told her. "My Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En's effect permits me to negate any Spell or Trap activated by my opponent. An effect that I activate right now!" At that moment, his monster began to radiate a deep purple aura around himself.

"Aw man...! Why didn't she know that?!" asked Spike. "Now her Trap's gonna be destroyed!"

"She DID know about Shi En's effect, Spike." Sunset told him with a smile on her face. "I know Ember too well to believe that she'd make such a bad misplay like that."

"You mean...she was planning on it to happen?" asked Twilight.

"Exactly." the red-and-yellow teen answered her. "Just watch and you'll see what I mean."

And as if on cue, Ember then shouted, "I chain THIS Trap Card to Shi En's effect! I activate Breakthrough Skill!!"

"No...!" said Steel Shadows, not happy to see that card played on him right now.

"I use the effect of Breakthrough Skill to negate Shi En's effect!" Ember declared. A powerful yellow light then surged out of the card and surrounded Steel's Synchro Monster, suppressing its abilities. As it did, the artwork on the card's hologram turned to greyscale, signifying that its effect had been negated. "So I'm afraid that means his effect DOESN'T negate my first Trap Card, so my Dragon's Rebirth card can now resolve its effect! I banish Omni Dragon Brotaur and call up a Dragon from my Graveyard! I Summon Arkbrave Dragon!!"

Everyone watched in amazement as a bright white-and-gold dragon flew out of a large column of light that emerged from the spot where Omni Dragon Brotaur previously stood. The dragon appeared to have not one, but TWO pairs of wings, with crystal-like spines and claws all over its body, along with braid-like appendages coming out from the back of its head. Its mighty roar told everyone that it was as powerful as it was beautiful (Arkbrave Dragon: Level 7: ATK 2400 - 500 = 1900 / DEF 2000).

"Woah..." said a very-impressed Spike. "That's one bright-looking dragon she just played..."

"You said it..." agreed Twilight. Sunset simply smiled, seemingly knowing what her rival from Bloodstone had in mind for her opponent.

Staring in awe at the powerful creature Ember Summoned to the field, Steel said to himself, (Just as I thought: Another powerful Dragon, just like in her Duel during the first round... But just what is this one capable of...?)

"If you recall from my last match," Ember began to tell him, "my best Dragons become more powerful AFTER they're brought back from the Graveyard! And my Arkbrave Dragon is no different! After it's revived, its effect allows me to banish every face-up Spell or Trap you have on the field, and then Arkbrave gains 200 attack and defense points for each card it wipes out! So kiss your Field Spell goodbye!"

Steel looked over at the large holographic image of his Temple of the Six Field Spell...just a moment before it vanished without a trace. (No...!) he thought. (Without my Temple of the Six, Ember's monsters are now back to their full power!) He then turned back to see both of Ember's mighty Dragons, no longer hindered by his Field Spell (Arkbrave Dragon: ATK 1900 + 500 = 2400) (Interplanetarypurplythorny Dragon: ATK 1700 + 500 = 2200). Not only that, but Arkbrave's effect made it even more powerful than it was before (Arkbrave Dragon: ATK 2400 + 200 = 2600 / DEF 2000 + 200 = 2200).

"Now, Interplanetarypurplythorny Dragon! Counterattack his Grandmaster!!" The Dragon with the very long name roared and fired a bluish-purple flame at the monster that had tried to attack it. Steel's monster was wiped out immediately, his attack now falling just short of Ember's Dragon.

"Urrrgh..." Steel grunted as a small amount of the flames hit him, reducing his Life Points a little (Steel Shadows: LP 4,000 - 100 = 3,900). Furthermore, with one less Six Samurai on the field, his Kizan lost some of his power as well (Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan: ATK 2100 - 300 = 1800 / DEF 800 - 300 = 500). "Incredible..." he said to himself. "She seemed to read my move perfectly... She knew I would try to use my Synchro Monster to halt her Spell and Trap use, and set up the perfect countermeasure to stop it." Looking at his Synchro Monster on the field he then said, "At the end of this turn, Shi En will regain his effect, but with her new Dragon at 2,600 attack points, it won't survive the next turn..." Sighing a bit, he then nodded to his opponent and said, "It's your turn."

"Sounds pretty good to me." said Ember, drawing her next card. She then looked at it and thought, (That'll do just fine...) She then immediately played the card she drew and said, "I Summon Herald of Creation in Attack Mode!" Her next monster was of an adult woman with blond hair wearing beautiful robes and a helmet with a veil covering her face. She wore nothing on her feet and carried a long, golden staff with a large ring on the top of it (Herald of Creation: Level 4 / ATK 1800 / DEF 600).

Sitting on the sidelines, Gilda said to Fluttershy, "Now that his Field Spell's gone, this is that Ember chick's chance to get rid of the rest of his monsters." Fluttershy simply nodded to say that she understood.

And attacking was exactly what Ember did next. "Now for my Battle Phase! I attack Kizan with Interplanetarypurplythorny Dragon!" Her purple Dragon then fired another stream of flames, eliminating Steel's monster and damaging his Life Points (Steel Shadows: LP 3,900 - 400 = 3,500). "And now... Arkbrave Dragon attacks Shi En!" Ember shouted next. Her second Dragon then fired a bright beam of light at his Synchro Monster and wiped it out as well while damaging Steel further (Steel Shadows: LP 3,500 - 100 = 3,400). "And last but not least, my Herald of Creation attacks you directly!" Her final monster then raised her staff, gathering light energy into it before unleashing a powerful blast that reduced her opponent's remaining Life Points even more (Steel Shadows: LP 3,400 - 1,800 = 1,600).

"...Yes...!" said Ember under her breath, happy that she managed to get control of the Duel this turn. (Just a little bit more to go...and then, once I win this, I'll be able to have my rematch with you, Sunset!)

Sunset Shimmer watched on, happy to see her friendly rival managing to get ahead of her opponent. However, she mentally urged her, (Don't get too complacent, Ember... There's still a lot of Duel left to go, and I have a feeling we haven't seen any of Steel's best moves yet...)

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

Outside of the stadium, in the parking lot where several people who had come to see the tournament gathered together, a sounds of revving engines could be heard off in the distance. The people in the lot looked over towards where the sound was coming from and saw what appeared to be a pair of motorcycles; one with a fiery design - driven by a woman, and the other with a white and navy blue pegasus motif - driven by a man. Their riders were in full racing gear, including helmets which obscured their identities.

The two riders drove their motorized bikes into the parking lot, looking for somewhere to park their vehicles. Pointing ahead towards a large mobile home, the male rider said to the other, "Over there. I think that's his." Nodding the female rider drove ahead with the male following her, stopping their bikes nearby where the mobile home was.

Getting off of her bike, the female rider said to her companion, "You DO know that he's probably not in there, right? After all, he is a competitor in the tournament that's going on here." Her tone of voice suggested that she was a bit of a tomboy at heart.

"Yeah, I know." said the male. "But it'll be easier to take care of...other matters once we find him and come back here. Trust me, I know what I'm doin'."

"If you say so." the female replied. "Let's just go and find that Steel guy, wherever he is."

The male had just retrieved what appeared to be a navy-blue Duel Pad from his motorcycle and turned it on. Tapping on it a few times, he then said to his partner, "Well finding him's gonna be real easy; he's in a Duel right now. I pulled up the live stream of the tournament and found out from there."

"That's cool. So we don't have to waste a whole lotta time lookin' for him." said the female. "Of course, we'll have to wait 'til he's done with his Duel before we can do anything with him."

"Eh, not a problem." the male told her. "At least we'll get to see if he's as good as the rumors say he is first-hand. If anything, it's a good thing that he's in the middle of a game right now. Anyway, we've wasted enough time out here; let's go inside." The female rider nodded and they both entered the stadium together to find Steel Shadows for reasons known only to them...

Back in the stadium arena, Steel had just survived an attack by three of Ember's most powerful cards, though now he was down to just 1,600 of his Life Points and had no monsters out to guard him. "Amazing!!" said Meghan Williams. "Ember completely turned things around! Now she has a lead on Steel Shadows in both monsters and Life Points! But will Steel be able to recover from this?"

(I most certainly will.) Steel thought to himself. He then said to Ember, "As I expected...you are a very formidable Duelist. To have pushed my back against the wall this much... I must say, I'm very impressed."

"Heh, thanks." Ember said with a smirk. "And there's more where that came from."

"...But this Duel is not yet over, Ember." he then told her. "And I can assure you; I don't plan on giving you a chance to show me any more of what your Deck is capable of. Now watch, as I draw this card..." After taking the top card of his Deck, he then looked at it before revealing it to everyone watching. "I drew my Pot of Desires. I banish ten card from the top of my Deck face-down and draw two more."

Ember watched as her opponent did just as he said he would, wondering to herself, (Now what's this guy up to...? I've got a feeling that he's still got something left up his sleeve... But what?)

After drawing the two cards his Spell allowed him, he gave a slight smirk. "...Perfect." Playing one of the cards he drew, he declared, "I play my Mind Control Spell Card. It permits me control of any one of your monster for the duration of the turn. I select your most powerful monster: Arkbrave Dragon."

Ember gasped in shock as her mighty Dragon suddenly flew over to her opponent's side of the field. "You do know that you can't attack with my Dragon or release it, right?" asked Ember, though her facial expression suggested that she knew that he knew that already.

"Attacking with your monster was not my intention." Steel told her. "Nor was releasing it. But it will leave the field this turn." Playing another card from his hand, he then said, "I activate Shien's Smoke Signal, which lets me add any Level 3 or lower Six Samurai from my Deck to my hand. I choose the Level 1 Tuner Monster, Secret Six Samurai - Fuma, and then Summon him to the field." His next monster was - like most of his Secret Six Samurai, dressed more like a ninja than a samurai, especially since it carried a pair of large shuriken (a.k.a. throwing stars) as his primary weapon of choice (Secret Six Samurai - Fuma: Level 1 / ATK 200 / DEF 1800).

"No...a Tuner...!" said Ember in distress. "Now I see what he's planning..."

"He's going to Synchro Summon again..." Sunset told both Twilight and Spike, "using her monster as one of the materials."

"Uh oh... This doesn't look good for Ember..." said the concerned Spike. Twilight kept on watching, waiting to see what Steel had planned for his opponent this time, and if it was enough for him to claim victory.

Ember knew that her opponent was going to use her monster in order to bring out one of his own, but unfortunately she had no way of stopping it now. Taking a card from out of his Extra Deck Pile, Steel Shadows then said to her, "It has been a long time since I have used this card in a Duel: The first card I ever owned. It has been beside me throughout my entire dueling journey. And now I shall call upon its power to win this battle as well...!" Thrusting out his right arm, he then said, "I tune Fuma, Level 1...to your Arkbrave Dragon, Level 7!" Fuma then clasped his hands together, assuming a fighter's stance as it transformed into a single ball of light that flew up into the air, returning as a green ring that surrounded Ember's Dragon, transforming it into seven smaller lights (Level 1 + Level 7 = Level 8).

"Giant fighter from a distant future, appear in our era and crush your foes with your tremendous strength! Let nothing escape your mighty fist!" Steel chanted as the skies above grew dark with storm clouds (not real ones, of course) "Synchro Summon!!" At that moment, a powerful bolt of lightning then shot down onto the green ring and seven small lights, energizing them with even more power. The lightning bolt then formed into a large sphere of bright light that radiated all over the stadium, forcing some people, including Ember, to shield their eyes.

"Oh my goodness!!" exclaimed Rarity. "What enormous strength!"

"Just what in th' hay is that guy bringin' out?!" asked Applejack.

"Somethin' tells me we're about to find out...!!" Rainbow Dash answered.

Just then, as the light began to fade, a pair of massive arms covered in pearl-white armor. This was soon followed by a pair of equally-massive legs, also bearing the same kind of armor. Then, the rest of the being's body emerged from out of the light, revealing itself as a gigantic human man whose size practically dwarfed the height of even his controller. Several green and blue jewels adorned the pearl-white armor he wore, and over his eyes was a green visor, giving the giant an overall futuristic appearance. "Come unstoppable force, Level 8! Colossal Fighter!!" shouted Steel, finishing his summoning chant.

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Colossal Fighter:
(Synchro-Effect Monster/Warrior/DARK/Level 8/ATK 2800/DEF 1000)

1 Tuner + 1+ non-Tuner monsters
Gains 100 ATK for every Warrior monster in any GY. When this card is destroyed by battle and sent to the GY: You can target 1 Warrior monster in either GY; Special Summon that target.

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"Incredible..." said Gilda, awestruck by Steel's last move. "Colossal Fighter...one of the first Synchro Monsters ever created. That card is beyond rare nowadays... Who'dve thought that guy would have one in his Deck?"

"Oh my... I-it certainly looks very strong..." said Fluttershy, trembling a little. It certainly seemed that everyone watching was astounded and surprised by Steel's last move.

All except for Ember; her facial expression suggested that she knew he would go for that monster, though nobody knew just how she could have figured that. "I had a feeling you would have THAT card." she told her opponent. "I gotta say, I respect you for really going all out on me here."

"And you have my respect as well, Ember..." Steel told her. "After all, you are among the very few that have actually forced me to use my Deck's most powerful monster. Unfortunately, that ALSO means that your chance of victory has now passed. With my Colossal Fighter, I will win this Duel and move forward in my future as a Duelist!"

On the sidelines, Twilight and Spike were still in shock at seeing such a powerful monster Summoned to Steel's side. "I-i-incredible!!" said Spike. "Th-that guy looks almost as big as Ember's Dragons! Maybe even BIGGER!!"

"It certainly does, Spike..." Twilight responded, feeling nervous seeing it, even though she wasn't even fighting it. Turning to Sunset, she asked her friend, "Just...how powerful IS that Colossal Fighter thing?"

"Quite powerful, actually." the red-and-yellow girl answered her. "Colossal Fighter starts with a base attack of 2,800... However, he gains an additional 100 attack points for every Warrior in the Graveyard... And that even counts any Warriors in Ember's Graveyard as well."

"You're kidding me...!" said Spike. He then asked, "So...how many of those kinds of monsters are in the Graveyard right now?"

"If my math is correct," Sunset began to say, "seven Warrior monsters are in the Graveyard right now; all from Steel's Deck. That gives Colossal Fighter 700 more attack points." (Colossal Fighter: Level 8 / ATK 2800 + 700 = 3500)

"That's amazing..." said Twilight. "But...I have a feeling that can't be ALL it does."

"You're right, Twilight." her Judge friend confirmed. "Colossal Fighter can also revive any Warrior from the Graveyard if it gets destroyed in battle. It can even bring itself back with its own effect. That's what makes that card truly powerful."

"Aw man...how's Ember gonna beat that?" asked Spike. "There's just no way!"

"I guess we'll see if she CAN beat it, Spike..." Twilight told him. Sunset looked on, wondering if her rival from Bloodstone could defeat such a powerful monster.

"It's time, Colossal Fighter!" shouted Steel Shadows. "Attack her Herald of Creation now with Megaton Impact Punch!!" Steel's monster then pulled his fist back, summoning up the energy needed to make such a powerful-sounding attack. Then, with a mighty battle cry, the massive monster then threw a mighty punch aimed straight towards Ember's Spellcaster monster. The Spellcaster did her best to block it, but there was no blocking such a powerful attack, and she was wiped out instantly the mighty blow even caused shards of stone to fly out and hit Ember directly, causing her considerable damage (Ember: LP 3,000 - 1,700 = 1,300).

"Aw man..." said Vinyl Scratch. "she barely survived that..."

"Yes... One more blow like that, and she will lose this Duel." stated Octavia. "She'll need to turn this around next turn, and the odds are certainly not in her favor..."

Grunting a little, Ember stared down her opponent and told him, "I'm still standing, buddy... This Duel isn't over yet, got it?"

"Perhaps it's not, but with this card I'm about to play, your chance of victory will escape you for certain." Steel informed her. "You said earlier that your monsters become more powerful when they return to the field from the Graveyard, such as in your last Duel, as well as in this one when you used the power of your Arkbrave Dragon... But I cannot allow you a chance to use that sort of power again. So I activate the Spell Card Soul Release!"

"Aw, crud..." groaned Ember, not happy to see that card pop up.

"This card allows me to banish up to five card from my and/or your Graveyard." he explained to her. "And I choose to banish all three of your monsters in the Graveyard, plus the Breakthrough Skill and Dragon's Rebirth Trap Cards you used against me earlier." Ember just growled a little under her breath as she removed the five selected cards from her D-Pad's Graveyard slot. "Since I had seen your strategy earlier," Steel continued, "I made sure to move this card from out of my Side Deck before our Duel."

"Clever move..." said Sunset. "Now Ember doesn't have any monsters in the Graveyard to Summon back even to defend herself. She can't even use Breakthrough Skill's Graveyard effect to help her either."

"That doesn't sound good for Ember..." Twilight stated.

"How is she supposed to fight back now?" asked Spike.

"Not sure," Sunset answered, "but if there is a way, I'm sure Ember could figure it out."

Far off in the sidelines, the two motorcycle riders that were apparently looking for Steel Shadows stayed out of the crowds to observe the wandering Duelist's game. "Quite an impressive comeback, huh?" asked the male rider.

"Sure was." replied the female. "After seeing that, I'm not annoyed anymore about coming out all this way just so you could find this guy." She then asked, "So what's the verdict? Is this guy as good as you thought he was?"

The male simply hummed a bit to himself in response, not yet giving an answer to his friend's question...

Ember wasn't very happy with her current situation, as she was now facing an incredibly powerful monster, and all she had out was her long-named Dragon monster (Man...I hate to admit it, but this guy is real strong...! Maybe even tougher than my Dad was...!) she thought. (He plays each and every one of his cards so precisely and barely leaves any openings for me to exploit... Now he's got me backed into a corner, with almost nothing to fight back with...ALMOST...)

Ember then looked at her Deck and continued to think to herself, (Even though my chances of making it out of this mess are pretty close to zero as they'll ever be... As long as there's even a slight chance, I'm not giving up! I made it my mission to win this tournament, start my career as a Pro Duelist, and above all, get my rematch with Sunset and give her the Duel I didn't give her when we first met! For those reasons, I'm not giving up this Duel!)

Seeing the fierce determination in her eyes, Steel smiled a little, saying, "Even against overwhelming odds...you have not lost your will to battle on. You truly are a worthy opponent, Ember... I look forward to seeing how you can overcome me, if you can."

"Oh I can, buddy." said Ember with a smirk. "So keep an eye on me and don't blink: Or you might miss it when I turn the tables on ya! I draw!" She then swiftly drew her next card as the audience watched, wondering if there was any way for her to get out of her predicament.

Looking at the card she drew, she kept that smirk on her face and said, "Well, look at this: It's the same card you drew on your turn."

"The same card as me...?" asked Steel. "You drew Pot of Desires?"

"You've got it!" she confirmed, playing the Spell Card right away. "So just like you did, I'll banish the top ten cards of my Deck and draw two more." Once she removed the first ten cards, she then pulled the next twi and looked at them closely. (Hmmm...Lord of D. and The Melody of Awakening Dragon...) Thinking about it for a while, she then glanced over at the only other card she had in play besides her monster: Dragon Ravine. (Wait a sec...) she then pondered in her mind, (if I do that...get that...and then do that...) Gasping, she then said to herself, "Yes...! I think it might work!" Taking one of the cards she drew, Ember then announced, "I activate The Melody of Awakening Dragon! After I ditch a card from my hand, I can add any two Dragons from my Deck with an attack power of 3,000 or more, and a defense power of 2,500 or less!" After discarding her Lord of D. card, she then made her choices and put them into her hand.

"Hmmmm..." hummed Steel, wondering what she was up to.

"Next, I think I'll use the effect of Dragon Ravine." Ember continued. "I'll discard Soul Drain Dragon - one of the cards I got from my previous Spell Card, in order to send Darkstorm Dragon from my Deck to the Graveyard." And she did just that.

"Now she's got monsters in her Graveyard again..." said Fluttershy. Turning over to Gilda, she then asked her, "Do you think she'll try to use another card to bring them onto the field...?"

"That does seem like that's what she's tryin' to do..." the roughneck Duelist answered. "But Darkstorm Dragon's not powerful enough to beat Colossal Fighter, and Soul Drain Dragon has a Special Summoning condition, so she can't bring it back from the Graveyard."

"So...are you saying that she ISN'T going to try and bring them back?" asked Fluttershy. "If so, then...what IS her strategy...?"

"Beats me..." Gilda replied. In fact, no one seemed to know what Ember's plan was besides Ember...

Before continuing with her turn, Ember then told her opponent, "I don't say this to just anybody, but I will say it to you: You're one of the toughest Duelists I've fought, and it was a real big honor to duel you here in the tournament."

"...Likewise." said Steel. "The Duels I fought in this competition were truly invigorating, and I'm happy to have been a part of it."

"Same here." the Bloodstone girl responded. "And that's the reason I'm not giving up on this Duel!"

"Hm...?!" hummed Steel, not expecting to hear her say something like that.

"I came to this tournament to prove to myself and everyone else that I have what it takes to compete with the best of them!" she then continued. "And that dream's not going to die here!" Taking three cards out of her Graveyard, she then said, "I banish these three monsters from my Graveyard: Lord of D., Soul Drain Dragon, and Darkstorm Dragon!"

"She's banishing them?!" exclaimed Pinkie Pie. "But why??"

"Yeah, what's she tryin' t' do??" asked Rainbow Dash.

Down on the field, Twilight and Spike were equally shocked by this play. "After all that trouble to put those cards in the Graveyard, she's just gonna ditch 'em?!" asked the dragon-turned-puppy.

"I...I can only guess that it must be a cost for a big play," Twilight figured, "but what kind of play?"

(...Wait!) thought Flash Sentry in the stands. (Could she have...THAT rare card?)

Sunset thought the exact same thing as Flash. (There's only one card that I can think of that has such a steep cost... Does Ember really have it in her Deck?)

Taking a card out of her hand and placing it onto her D-Pad's tray, she then said, "From between the worlds of light and darkness comes a new, unknown power! Appear in this world and unleash your chaotic fury!" At that moment, a violent storm appeared overhead, made up of white and black clouds. Every now and again, a neon-green bolt of lightning would strike the field in a random spot, causing those nearby to instinctively flinch. Ember then finished her chant, saying, "Lend me your power now!! Chaos Dragon Levianeer!!"

After she finished speaking, a massive bolt of lightning struck the ground behind Ember and remained there for a while. After some time, a pair silver wings came out of the bolt, with parts of it glowing in the same neon-green color as the lightning bolt. Next, a pair of silvery clawed feet came out, followed a massive dragon head with a neon-green horn on its head. Finally, the rest of its silver-and-green body emerged, and the creature let out a massive roar as a show of its power (Chaos Dragon Levianeer: Level 8 / ATK 3000 / DEF 0).

"I-I-INCREDIBLE!!" exclaimed Bright Mind. "It's Chaos Dragon Levianeer!! One of the most sought-after Dragons in the game! And she Summoned it to the field!!"

"Wowee... I'm glad I don't have to fight that thing right now..." said Sweetie Belle, who - like most of the people watching, was a bit intimidated by this all-powerful creature.

"Rrrgh..." growled Adagio. "This could be...a bit problematic." Aria and Sonata were also not too happy to see this powerful monster either. Whatever they were trying to do during the tournament, they knew this monster would be a major road block in their plans.

"Chaos Dragon Levianeer..." said Sunset. "I should have figured that Ember would have such a powerful card in reserve."

"Woah...that thing's humongous!!" Spike commented. "So THAT'S what Ember was setting up for!"

"Yeah... And if she was willing to banish all those other monsters just to Summon it, it has to have extraordinary powers..." Twilight added.

Even Steel Shadows was shocked to see such a rare and powerful monster Summoned in front of him. "A-amazing...!" he said. "I...had no idea you had such a card in your Deck...!"

"I managed to get this card just before the tournament was announced." Ember explained. "Cost me quite a bit as you can imagine... But soon, that investment will be worth it if it carries me all the way to victory in this tournament!" Thrusting her hand into the air, she then shouted, "Now, Chaos Dragon Levianeer! Activate your effect!!"

Everyone watched as the dragon roared once more, glowing even brighter as it did so. Then, everyone watched as three beams of light - one yellow and two purple shot out of the ground and into Ember's new monster. "Now what in the hay's goin' on??" asked Applejack. "What're those beams all about?"

"To explain things," Ember started, "Chaos Dragon Levianeer has three different effects; which one it uses depends on what monster Attributes I used to Summon it. Since I used both DARK and LIGHT-Attribute monsters for the Summoning cost, I can use Levianeer's third effect, which allows me to destroy any two cards on the field!"

"What?!" exclaimed Steel.

"So she'll use the effect to destroy both of the cards that her opponent has on the field, including that Colossal Fighter." Twilight correctly assumed. "So THAT was her plan..."

"And even though Chaos Dragon Levianeer can't attack when it uses its effect," Sunset then explained, "she can still attack with her other monster and win the Duel."

"You mean the really long-named one, right?" asked Spike. Sunset nodded yes in response.

Pointing towards her opponent's side of the field, Ember then commanded, "Go, Levianeer! Destroy both of his cards!" The massive Dragon monster then shot out rays of blue-green light from the glowing portions of its body striking both Steel Shadows' Colossal Fighter and his face-down card. In no time at all, his field was completely empty.

(No...my monster...) thought Steel. (It was destroyed... And because it was destroyed by a card effect, I cannot bring it back with its own effect. And my face-down Musakani Magatama only works if I have a Six Samurai monster on the field...) Knowing that defeat was unavoidable at this point, Steel simply smiled a little and said to his fellow competitor, "A well-played Duel, Ember..."

Nodding with a smile of her own, Ember then shouted to her other monster, "Interplanetarypurplythorny Dragon, attack him directly and wrap this up!" Her dark-purple monster then fired off a stream of blue-violet flames at Steel reducing his Life Points completely. Steel simply stood there, not flinching even a little bit as he took the full brunt of the attack (Steel Shadows: LP 1,600 - 2,200 = 0).

"This Duel is over!" shouted Sunset after making her way back to the center of the field. "Ember is the winner!"

"And that's it, Duel fans!" announced Meghan with her usual pep. "It was a hard-fought Duel, and there was no telling who would come out on top! But in the end, Ember of the town of Bloodstone has won the Duel and will move on to the Semifinals!" The crowds cheered loudly in response to her announcement.

On the field, both Ember and Steel approached each other and shook hands with each other. "Congratulations, Ember." he said to her. "You fought well and earned a magnificent victory. I have no doubt you will win this tournament and get your chance to compete in the WCQ's."

"Thanks, buddy." Ember replied. "But I'll admit: You sure didn't make it easy for me. When you got that Colossal Fighter of yours on the field, I actually thought I might've lost that one... Only for about a second, but still." Chuckling a little, she then added, 'But seriously, you're a really good Duelist, and I'm sure you'll make it big someday."

"...Or perhaps he'll make it big TODAY." said a male voice from nearby.

Everyone heard the voice, but no one knew where it came from. "Who said that??" asked Ember. Turning to Sunset, she then asked her, "I...know this might be a bit of a stupid question, but...did you say that just now?"

"Not me." the jacket-clad Judge answered.

"I didn't say anything either." Meghan stated.

"Don't rack your brains about it, everyone." the voice spoke once more. "We'll come out so you can see who we are." At that moment, two individuals - the man and woman that had earlier arrived at the stadium on motorcycle (and still in their riding gear) walked out onto the field. Of course, it was still unclear who they actually were, since they still had their helmets on.

"Um...who are you two?" asked Meghan. "I wasn't informed of anyone other than us or the competing Duelists making an appearance in the tournament."

"That's cause we're not here for the tournament." said the woman. "But we do have a very good reason for being here." She then motioned to her companion, who then walked over to Steel Shadows.

"Your name..." the mysterious man began to ask him, "It's Steel Shadows, correct?"

"Um...yes it is." Steel answered. "May I ask why you wish to know...?"

The man paused for a moment and then said to the young Duelist, "There's something that we need to discuss..."

-- To Be Continued...

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TOURNAMENT RESULTS (Round 2):

1. Ember vs. Steel Shadows [WINNER: Ember]
2. Gilda vs. Fluttershy [WINNER: ???]
3. Sonata Dusk vs. Bright Mind [WINNER: ???]
4. Octavia Melody vs. Sweetie Belle [WINNER: ???]

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