• Published 30th Apr 2016
  • 9,121 Views, 967 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 6: Courage Clear as Day:

Author's Note:

This episode will be the first one in which Sunset does NOT duel in, as well as showcasing another well-known MLP character that has yet to receive an EG makeover. The risk of humanizing a character is that there's always the possibility of an official EG design showing up later, but in this case, I felt it was worth the risk, as I liked what I eventually came up with. Anyway, enjoy the latest installment of MLP:FiN!

RANK 6: Courage Clear as Day:
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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...

Sunset Shimmer's dueling skills have been put to the test time and time again during her battles against the mysterious and dangerous Number cards. The cards have the ability to possess almost any Duelist that finds them, and alters their personalities to make them more malicious. However, Sunset's powerful Chronomaly Deck, along with her strategic mind, have seen her through many tough battles. Now, she currently owns six Number cards and has been able to prevent many of the disasters that came as a result of the Numbers' dark power.

Sunset says that she owes a lot of her success in Duel Monsters to the support that her friends have given her; they had taught her how to play the game, they have helped her construct her Deck, and they offer her plenty of good vibes when she participates in a Duel. But now, she and the rest of her friends are about to give some much-needed support to another up-and-coming Duelist...

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It was late afternoon on a Wednesday in Canterlot City. That meant only one thing for Sunset Shimmer and her best friends: It was time for them to practice their music. Besides playing Duel Monsters, the six of them also liked to play in a band together called the Sonic Rainbooms (a name that Rainbow Dash came up with because of how cool it sounded). They had formed the band some time ago, months after last year's Fall Formal. The thing is, every time that they really got into their musical numbers, it would have a bizarre effect on them; the six of them would end up forming pony ears in place of their human ears, and their hair would grow extra-long ponytails. In addition, both Rainbow and Fluttershy would have wings growing out of their backs. It began happening so often whenever they played music, that they began to call the phenomenon, "Ponying Up".

Today, however, there was little chance of that happening, since all that the group would be doing was to practice their sets, both together and individually. Still, Sunset Shimmer kept an eye out in case if any of them changed physically; one day, she hoped to try and figure out what really triggered that strange magic...

The group regularly met together in the music room to practice their songs. Each of them had a different role to fill in the band; Rainbow was lead guitar, Applejack was on bass guitar, Rarity played on a keytar (a sort of piano-guitar hybrid), Pinkie Pie played the drums, and Fluttershy had her tambourine. Sunset was lead vocal for the band, though sometimes she would also play backup guitar.

The doors to the music room opened and in walked Applejack, Sunset, Pinkie, and Rarity, each holding their respective instruments (or, in Pinkie's case, her favorite drumsticks). Rainbow Dash had already entered the room before all of them, and was casually sitting on top of the large speaker that her guitar was hooked up to while having a rather bored and impatient look on her face. "Yeesh, FINALLY!" she groaned, getting off of the object she was sitting upon. "What took you guys so long??"

"Sorry, Dash..." Applejack apologized. "We would've been here sooner, but... well, we've got a teeny-tiny li'l problem..."

The athletic teen sighed and asked, "Lemme guess: Fluttershy, right?" The other four girls nodded their heads yes. Sighing again, Rainbow then asked, "Is she STILL all worked up over what happened earlier today?"

"Probably..." figured Sunset. "She hasn't left Homeroom since the final bell rang. I'm starting to get worried about her."

"Well, you can't really blame her for it..." Rarity told her friends. "I mean, it was pretty sudden when the Principal made that announcement..."

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3 Hours Earlier...
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Every student in Canterlot High filed into the auditorium for a major announcement. It was for an event that had been on everybody's mind for the past few days. Everyone in attendance calmly took their seats, with Sunset and her friends all sitting together, like they always did.

After a few minutes, Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna walked onstage, stopping behind the podium in the center. "Students of Canterlot High," Celestia spoke over the microphone, "may I have your attention please?"

The students immediately quieted down upon hearing her request.

"Thank you." The light pink-skinned woman then told everyone, "As you know, this Friday, there will be a major event coming up that I know many of you are very excited for: It's our annual Inter-school Duel with our neighbors at Griffonstone High School!" The students cheered loudly after she made that announcement.

"Woo-hoo!!!! Finally!!!!" cheered Pinkie Pie, throwing her arms up and waving them erratically. "I've been waiting so super-long to see it!!"

"Um, girls? What's Principal Celestia talking about?" asked Sunset Shimmer. "What's Griffonstone High School?"

"One of our rival schools, besides Crystal Prep Academy." answered Applejack.

"You see, Sunset," Rarity began to explain to her, "every year around this time, our school and their school compete with each other in a Duel. We each pick a Duelist to represent us, and the winning school gets to display the Inter-school Duel Trophy."

"Sounds interesting to me." the otherworldly girl replied. She then asked, "So, what's this other school like? Griffonstone, I mean..."

"To be honest, I personally do not think too highly of them." the fashion-forward teen told her.

"Why's that?"

"Well, Sunset..." Fluttershy began to say, "they've been known to be pretty ruthless, especially when they Duel... I'd be really, really scared if I ever had to fight one of them..." The timid girl trembled a little just thinking about it.

"They're really that tough?" asked the red and yellow girl.

"Oh yeah." replied Rainbow Dash. "SUPER tough. Especially this one chick they've got over there. Her name is-"

But at that moment, Pinkie Pie covered her athletic friend's mouth and said to her, "Sorry, Dashie! You'll have to wait 'til later for the big name reveal! The Principals are about to say something!" The cyan girl pushed her silly friend's hand away from her face before she and the others turned their attention back to the main stage.

"Now," began Vice Principal Luna, "Griffonstone has already selected their representative for the Inter-school Duel. Today, we will have to submit our representative as well. And I am pleased to say that we have already made our decision on that very matter."

"We have made our selection based on your recent Duel records, according to the listings submitted by Kaiba Corp.," Celestia explained, "which, as you know, is the company that produces the Duel Pads and Duel Gazers that you use to play Duel Monsters. All of your Duels in the recent year are electronically recorded and transmitted to your records on the company's computer, recording things such as the Decks you most often use, as well as your win ratios."

Sunset Shimmer then glanced at her Duel Pad and thought, (I see... So that's how they figure all of that out...)

Luna then took out an envelope, in which was a small paper that had the name of the student they chose. "My sister, the rest of the school staff, as well as myself, each took a vote, and we have made our choice." Opening the envelope, she then announced, "The student who will be representing us will be..."

Everyone was on the edge of their seats, wondering who it would be. But nothing prepared them for the name that Luna gave out...

"...Fluttershy!!"

There was a collective gasp amongst the entire student body. No one expected that Fluttershy, of all people, would be chosen to participate. "Really? HER??" asked one of the female students. "What were they thinking??"

"We're gonna lose the trophy for sure, now..." a male student chimed in.

Suddenly, all eyes were on the timid yellow girl, who was now more scared and nervous than she had ever been in her entire life. "Ohhhh... oh my..." she whimpered, quickly getting out of her seat and hiding underneath it...

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"Yeah, that sure was a real shock to her, and everyone else." noted Applejack as she tuned her bass guitar while recalling what had happened earlier. "Ah'm sure Ah'd be as jittery and as nervous as her if Ah were in her shoes right now."

"Not to sound too boastful or anything," began Sunset, "but I'm honestly surprised that I wasn't chosen to represent the school for the big event. I mean after all, I've been dueling really well lately."

"I think it might be because you have those Number cards in your Deck that you weren't chosen, dear." Rarity reminded her friend.

"...Oh yeah. I forgot about that." the otherworldly teen responded with a sigh. She then told her friends, "Of course, had I been chosen to duel, I would've taken them out of my Deck first to be fair."

"We know you would've." Applejack assured her. "It's not like you to give yourself an unfair advantage over your opponents."

"Besides," chimed Pinkie, "Sunnie can't duel in EVERY episode! Ya gotta give someone else a chance to be in the spotlight for once!"

"Uh... yeah." the farm girl responded, not really understanding what the pink girl meant by that. Turning back to the others, she then said to them, "Anyhoo, gettin' back on topic, we've gotta do somethin' about Fluttershy; she can't hole herself up in the classroom forever, ya know."

"But what are we to do, Applejack?" Rarity inquired. "She's so distressed over the whole thing, that she does not want to talk to anyone, not even us."

"...I'll go and talk to her." Rainbow Dash told them, offering to try and help the timid girl.

"Really?" asked Applejack. "You think you can get through t' her?"

"Fluttershy and me have been friends since Elementary School." the cyan girl told them. "If anyone can snap her out of being all depressed and stuff, it'll be me."

"That makes sense." replied Sunset. "If you think you can help her, then go for it." The black jacket-wearing teenager then told Rainbow Dash, "And by the way, grammatically speaking, it's supposed to be, 'Fluttershy and I'."

"Yeah whatever, Grammar Police." the athletic teen grumbled as she put down her guitar and headed out the door.

As Rainbow Dash left the music room, Rarity then said to everyone else, "Well, it's up to her now... Let us hope that she is successful in helping Fluttershy." The others nodded in agreement, hoping for the same.

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Rainbow Dash made her way to the classroom that served as Fluttershy's Homeroom class at the end of each school day. The athletic teen peered through the glass window on the door; sure enough, the shy young girl was inside, still sitting at her desk with her face buried in her arms.

(Well... here goes nothin'...) Dash thought to herself. She then took a deep breath, raised her hand to the door, and knocked on it. "Hey, Flutters!" she called out. "Are ya in there?"

"Go away!!" the timid girl cried out. "Just leave me alone!! ...If that's okay with you..."

"Well, t' be honest, it's NOT okay with me." the cyan teen told her. "Look, me and the others are really worried about ya... Can we just talk for a little bit?"

There was a long silence that followed after Rainbow Dash made her request. Then, finally, Fluttershy answered, saying, "...Fine... you can come in if you want to." Rainbow smiled a bit, now that she knew that her best friend was willing to talk about the situation. It was a small step forward, but a step forward nonetheless.

The athletic teen opened the door and walked inside. After shutting the door behind her, Dash pulled up a chair and sat backwards on it in front of Fluttershy. "So..." she began, "how've ya been, Fluttershy?"

"Just AWFUL..." the poor girl whimpered. "Ever since Luna announced that I was going to represent us at the Inter-school Duel, everyone's been giving me nasty looks..." She sniffled a little and added, "Now I know how Sunset felt when everyone did that to her... Let me tell you: It's not a pleasant feeling..."

"Yeesh... I'm sorry to hear about that." Rainbow told her friend, sympathizing with her.

Sniffling some more, Fluttershy continued, saying, "Everyone thinks that I'm going to lose... that I'm going to disappoint the whole school..." Nearly beginning to cry, she then added, "And quite frankly, I think they're right..."

Rainbow Dash felt really sorry for her best friend, but she wasn't going to let the other students' low expectations of her put her down like this. She then suddenly stood up out of her chair, which startled Fluttershy a little. "Flutters, that's not true!" she told her. "None of that junk is!"

"Wh... wha...?" the timid girl replied.

"You can't let those guys get to you that easily!" Rainbow then told her, in an attempt to lift up her spirits. "They don't know you as well as me and the rest of our friends do! I know something like this SEEMS scary, but you can get through it, no problem!"

"...Easy for you to say, Rainbow..." Fluttershy said with a sigh. "You've never been afraid of anything ever... Unlike me..."

"...Well..." Rainbow began to say in an uneasy-sounding tone, "that's actually not entirely true..."

"Huh?!" gasped the timid girl, not expecting to hear something like that. "Wh-what do you mean??"

The athletic teen sighed and responded, saying, "Fluttershy, you and me have been friends for a really long time; to be honest, I feel like you're the only one among our friends that, well... that I can talk to about anything, if you know what I mean: Stuff that I wouldn't say to Rarity, AJ, Sunset, Pinkie, or even Twilight."

The pink and yellow girl listened carefully, wondering where Dash was going with this.

"So... that bein' the case," the cyan girl continued, "I'm gonna tell ya something that I've NEVER told anyone. Something that I'd never admit to the others or anyone else... So promise me that you won't blab about it to anybody, okay?"

Fluttershy nodded yes and said, "I promise."

Rainbow Dash then cleared her throat and told her, "You see, Fluttershy... I wasn't always the super-tough, super-confident chick I am now... Long before we met, I was actually a lot like you."

"Y-you were??" asked the timid teen, surprised to hear that.

"It's the total truth, Flutters." the cyan girl confirmed. "I was shy and scared and didn't really want to be around anyone else at all. Not only that, everything that I tried to do only ended in failure, and the other kids made fun of me for it." Sighing again, she then told her friend. "Back then, I never thought that I'd ever be good enough to do anything, and I felt real down just thinking about it."

"Oh my..."

"Then one day," Rainbow Dash continued, "My mom and I were at the grocery store, pickin' up some things for dinner. I had some of my allowance with me, but I didn't know what to do with it. That's when I spotted a pack of Duel Monsters cards near the registers. I decided to buy the pack, and when I opened it..." She then reached into a pocket in her skirt and pulled out a card from inside of it as she spoke. "I found this card was inside..." She then showed her friend the card that she was talking about...

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Clear Wing Synchro Dragon:
(Synchro-Effect Monster/Dragon-Type/WIND/Level 7/ATK 2500/DEF 2000)

1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters
Once per turn, during either player's turn, when another Level 5 or higher monster activates its effect on the field: You can negate the activation, and if you do, destroy it. Once per turn, during either player's turn, when a monster effect is activated that targets exactly 1 Level 5 or higher monster on the field (and no other cards): You can negate the activation, and if you do, destroy it. If this card's effect destroys a monster, this card gains ATK equal to the destroyed monster's original ATK until the end of this turn.

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Fluttershy let out a loud gasp when she saw her friend's shiny Duel Monsters card. "Oh my!" she said in astonishment. "You actually have Clear Wing?! That card's really, REALLY rare! How did you find it??"

"I just told ya: It was in that first pack I bought when I was little." Rainbow Dash reminded her. "And yeah, I was just as shocked as you were when I first got it. But not because of its rarity; I actually didn't know just how rare it was back then." Looking at the card's artwork, she then told her best friend, "Y'see, once I got a good look at the dragon on this card, I was immediately taken in by how powerful it looked; to me, this guy looked like he wasn't afraid of anything, and that he could take on any challenge or danger that came to him! And that's when I thought, 'Why can't I be like that?' I wanted nothin' more than to be as strong and as confident as that dragon. So that's when I made up my mind that, no matter what, I would give a hundred-and-twenty percent of myself every day, and do my best at whatever I set my mind to! And, well... the rest is history."

"Oh, wow..." said the yellow girl, impressed by her friend's story. "So that card gave you the confidence to be at your best at just about everything?"

"Not quite, but you're on the right track." the cyan girl answered her. "This card didn't GIVE me any more confidence in myself than I already had. But it did help me learn something about being at my best: It taught me that, no matter what people might say about you, or what low expectations they might have towards you, you have the power to get out there, do your best, and prove the naysayers wrong. You've gotta take everything they throw at ya and bounce it right back at 'em! All that matters is what YOU think of yourself; not what other people think of you... Do you understand?"

Fluttershy was completely silent after hearing what her friend had said. She had never thought about her situation that way before, and it was beginning to make her start to re-evaluate herself. She sighed a little and said, "...I do, Rainbow Dash, and you're absolutely right: I... I can't let what others think of me get in the way of doing my best... Like it or not, I was chosen to represent the entire school... And I have to make my school proud, no matter what!"

"So... does this mean that you're-"

"Yes, Rainbow." the now-no-longer-timid girl interrupted. "I'm going to go through with this Duel. And I'll fight my hardest out there and show everybody my true strength, just like you do every day!"

"I'm really glad t' hear that, Flutters." the athletic teen said with a smile. She then held out the card she had shown her friend and told her, "Here... I want you to have this."

Fluttershy gasped. "Y-you what?!" she exclaimed. "I-I-I can't take that from you! It means so much to you!"

But Rainbow Dash shook her head no and told her, "You and the others mean a WHOLE lot more to me. In fact, you were the first friend I ever had ever since I got my Clear Wing card. Like I said, all this card did was show me that I had the power to do anything I set my mind to, and you and the rest of our friends have shown me so much more. Clear Wing did its job helping me see all that, and I'll always be grateful for what it did... But I also know that I can't depend on it forever, and that I'll have to let him go. So that's why I want you to have it; maybe it might be able to draw out that spark in ya like it did for me."

The animal-loving teenager stared at the ultra-rare card for a long time, still shocked that the cyan girl was really just giving it to her. Still skeptical, Fluttershy then asked, "Are... you really sure about this, Rainbow...?"

"VERY sure." the athlete answered. "At least twenty percent more sure than ya think."

The pink and yellow girl blushed a little, pleased by how kind Rainbow Dash was to her right now. Now confident that her friend had made up her mind, Fluttershy nodded and said, "O-okay then... I'll take it." She then reached out and took Rainbow's Clear Wing Synchro Dragon card from her. She then stared at the valuable card for a while before telling her, "I promise that I'll take very good care of it, Rainbow..."

"Heh, you'd better." the cyan girl replied with a chuckle. "Now c'mon... let's go and meet up with the others."

"Okay..." Fluttershy said with a nod. As they headed towards the door, the yellow-skinned girl then spoke up, saying, "R-Rainbow Dash?"

"Yeah?"

The animal lover then gave her best friend a hug and told her, "Thank you... You said a lot of things that I really needed to hear... So again, thank you so much..."

"No prob, Flutters." the cyan girl said in a casual tone. "That's what friends do for each other." The two of them then left the classroom and made their way to the music room to meet up with the rest of their friends.

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About an hour or so later, Sunset and her friends left Canterlot High School after they were finished with practicing their music. The others were happy to see that Fluttershy was beginning to feel better since she had been selected to participate in the Inter-school Duel against Griffonstone High School. The pink and yellow girl was still nervous about the whole thing, though, and it was quite apparent to her friends.

"So, you're really gonna go through with this, Sugarcube?" Applejack asked her timid friend.

"Mhmm..." Fluttershy responded, nodding her head. "I'm still not sure how well I'll do, but at the very least, I have to try."

"That's a good attitude to have, Fluttershy." Sunset told her. "After all, you'll never know if you can or can't do something without making an attempt at it; that's something the Princess taught me back in Equestria."

"Are you sure you'll be okay for it, though?" asked Rarity out of concern. "After all, you're trembling even more than usual..."

"Yeah! You're shaking even more than Mrs. Cake's chocolate shakes!" Pinkie Pie chimed in. "And that's saying something!"

"Well, to be honest," the shy girl told them, "I don't know if I'm really ready to take on anyone from Griffonstone... After all, they have..." She then gulped a little out of nervousness. "...they have quite the reputation, if you know what I mean."

"Yeah, they can be pretty brutal, I hafta admit..." stated Rainbow Dash. But she then put on a smile and told her best friend, "But you've got something that the other guy doesn't have: You've got all of us t' help ya out!"

"R-really?" asked Fluttershy in a hopeful tone.

"Of course." Sunset Shimmer informed. "We've all agreed to give you all the help and support you'll need to be at your best when you compete in the Duel on Friday. I promise you: We'll make sure that you're completely ready for when you go out there."

"Oh, that's so nice of you all..." the shy girl said, feeling better about herself.

"That's what friends do for each other, Fluttershy." Rarity told her. "On that note, I have a most EXCELLENT idea of how to boost your confidence, and I am going get to work on it immediately!" She then ran off and added, "I'll see you all tomorrow, girls! I have a lot of work to do, and not much time!" Everyone else stared at Rarity as she left the group and headed for who-knows-where.

"Huh... Anyone know what's on Rarity's mind?" asked Sunset Shimmer.

"Not sure," answered Applejack, "but if Ah know Rare as well as Ah think Ah do, Ah've got a feelin' that her sewin' machine's gonna be involved in all'o this." She then said to Fluttershy, "Anyhoo, we'll do our part in helpin' ya out too, Fluttershy. We'll be practicin' 'til we're blue in the mouth!"

"Oh thank you... thank you all so much...!" the shy teen replied, happy to know that her friends would support her in her time of need.

Several minutes later, Fluttershy met with Sunset Shimmer in her apartment. The otherworldly girl brought her friend to her home in the city so that they could have some one-on-one time in preparation for the upcoming Duel. Once Sunset unlocked her door (and after waving hi to the landlord, Manny Roar, as he passed by), she and Fluttershy sat down at her dining room table, across from each other, so that they could get to work.

"So, um... what should we do first, Sunset?" asked the animal lover.

"Well, I think the first thing that I'll do is to take a look at your Deck, and see if I can help make any improvements to it." stated the red and yellow girl.

"Oh, I understand..." Fluttershy said as she grabbed her backpack and pulled out a bright yellow deck box, in which was her Duel Monsters Deck. "Here you go." she said as she handed her cards over.

"Thanks." Sunset replied. She then carefully opened the deck box and pulled out Fluttershy's Deck. She then examined the cards carefully, one at a time. "Hmmmm..." she hummed to herself as she evaluated her friend's cards.

"So... um..." Fluttershy began to say, "Is it any good...?"

Sunset placed the Deck onto the table and told her friend, "Fluttershy... this Deck... I have to admit, it's very well-made!"

"I-it is...?"

"Totally." the otherworldly girl responded. "You have a very good balance of different types of cards and some really good combos, too. Quite frankly, it's one of the best Decks that I've seen, and I don't just say that about everyone."

"Oh, well... thank you, Sunset." the shy girl replied. "Quite honestly, I wasn't sure if my Deck was good enough for something like the Inter-school Duel..."

"Well, if it'll help you feel a little better, think about this:" Sunset Shimmer began. "Remember what Princes-er, Principal Celestia said earlier?"

"Um, what exactly?"

"She said that they selected you out of EVERYONE in the school, based solely on your dueling records." the black jacket-wearing teen told her friend. "The fact that you were chosen for it meant that you must have been doing something right!"

"Oh wow... I never thought about that!" Fluttershy responded with a gasp after realizing that.

"Well don't feel too bad about it; apparently that fact was lost on everyone at school, too." stated Sunset. "But all that means is that it'll be all the sweeter once you go out there and prove them all wrong!"

"You really think I can win?" asked the pink and yellow girl.

"I know you can, Fluttershy." said the otherworldly girl. "And that's why I want to help you as much as I can." Getting up out of her seat, she then told her friend, "And the next thing we'll do is to research some cool combos that you can use in your Deck. Follow me over to the computer, and we can start right away."

"O-okay!" Fluttershy replied with a nod as the two of them walked over to Sunset's computer to study up on different tricks and combos that could be applied to the animal lover's Deck.

Some time later, Fluttershy left Sunset's apartment and continued her training with her other friends, starting with Rainbow Dash. The cyan teen had recently finished her new Deck and wanted to try it out, so she and Fluttershy had a sparring match with each other so that they could both refine their skills. During the Duel, Rainbow taught her best friend to always go with her gut when making tough decisions, and that she should always take any opportunity she could get to take control of the game. The pink and yellow girl took those lessons to heart, and in the end, they actually helped her win their little match. Normally, the competitive Rainbow Dash didn't like to lose at anything, but since the purpose of their game was to help out a friend, she didn't mind and was actually quite proud of Fluttershy for how well she did.

The shy girl then headed for Pinkie Pie's house next, and just like she did with Rainbow, Fluttershy would have a Duel with Pinkie as well. During their game, the silly pink girl taught her friend to always keep her opponents guessing, and not to let them predict your next moves. Unfortunately for Fluttershy, she didn't fare as well against Pinkie as she did with Rainbow Dash, as the party-loving teen had managed to beat her, albeit by a small amount.

Taking off her Duel Gazer, Pinkie said to her friend, "Sorry, Fluttershy... But ya gotta play to win, you know?"

"It's okay." replied the shy girl. "I had such a great time dueling you, that I'm not depressed about it at all."

"That's so good to hear!" the party girl said to her friend. "The most important thing about playing Duel Monsters is having a great time when you're playing! That's even more important than winning! Don't get me wrong; you try to win of course, it's just that-"

"I think I understand, Pinkie Pie." Fluttershy interrupted. "Thank you very much." Pinkie smiled and giggled a little in response.

Later on, Fluttershy made her way over to Applejack's farm for dueling advice, as well a chance to play against her friend in some more sparring matches. After playing a few rounds, the two took a quick break, though the farm girl continued to offer her advice. "One important thing t' remember when y'all are duelin'," she told the shy girl, "is to always act like you've got the upper hand, even when your opponent's in the lead."

"Why is that?" asked the pink and yellow girl.

"Because that'll make yer opponent feel uneasy n' stuff." Applejack answered. "They'll think you've got somethin' planned for 'em, and that might make 'em second-guess their next move. Then, sooner 'r later, they'll make a mistake, and that's when y'all can swoop in and take the lead for real."

"But... it sounds a little dishonest, especially coming from you..." noted the timid teen. "If you... don't mind me saying."

"Ah get what yer sayin'," the orange girl replied. "But it's like they say: 'Alls fair in love n' war.' Duel Monsters is a game of the mind, so there's a lotta psychology n' stuff that goes into it. And besides, there's a good chance that your opponent might try t' do the same thing t' you, so you have t' make sure that y'all don't show any fear in front o' them, got it?"

"...Got it." Fluttershy said with a nod. Standing up, she then asked, "Um, Applejack? Can... can we play one more round? I'd like to practice trying to perform what you taught me, if that's okay with you."

"No prob, Sugarcube." the country teen responded, readying her dark-brown Duel Pad. Fluttershy activated her light green-colored device as well, and the pair began to play another game with each other.

The next day at school, Fluttershy walked down the hallways towards her first class. She did her best to ignore any stares or snide comments directed towards her. Her thoughts of her friends helping her out was all that she needed to keep her spirits up. When she turned a corner, she was surprised to see her friends nearby the door to her classroom. "Oh! What are you doing here?" she asked. "I thought you'd already be in class by now..."

"We've got plenty of time." said Rainbow in her usual casual tone, putting her hands behind her head. "Besides, we all want to be here for your big surprise."

"Sur-surprise?" asked the yellow girl. "What kind of surprise?"

Rarity then stepped forward and told the animal lover, "This kind of surprise, darling." The fashionista then took out a yellow, rectangular present tied up with a shiny, pink ribbon from out of her backpack. "Here. This is my contribution towards helping to boost your confidence before tomorrow's Duel. It took me almost all day yesterday to make, but it was all worth it to help you out."

Fluttershy took the package and opened it slowly. The others watched, still wondering what it was that Rarity had made. The pink and yellow girl gasped when she saw a well-made outfit inside. The outfit consisted of a short dress, jacket, and long pants, along with a pair of gloves. The clothes were colored mostly white, with several green and pink stripes decorating it. The gloves were of a light bluish-grey, with a pink stripe along the top. The jacket also had a pair of small, metal shoulder pads on it, and the skirt portion of the dress was held together with a belt that had a butterfly-shaped buckle upon it. A pair of light-grey boots (which were seperate from the items in the package) with pink soles and black on the tops completed the ensemble.

"Oh... WOW...!" replied an amazed Fluttershy. "It's... it's wonderful!"

"So awesome!" commented Rainbow Dash. "This is the coolest thing you've ever made, Rarity!"

"Yeah, it looks like it came from the future!" Pinkie Pie chimed in. "Or at least an upcoming series."

"Thank you all for your comments, girls." stated Rarity. "I think it's one of my best works yet, if I do say so myself." She then went on to explain, "I've always believed that, every now and then, a nice change of clothes helps to change one's inner self as well. I guarantee you, Fluttershy, once you put this outfit on tomorrow, you'll feel ten times stronger than ever before!"

"That's very sweet of you, Rarity. I like it very much." Fluttershy told her friend as she held her new clothes. "Thank you."

"My pleasure, darling." the violet-haired girl replied, giving the shy girl a hug. She then asked the others, "So, how did things go with her yesterday while I was busy?"

"Pretty well, as a matter of fact." Sunset answered. "I think she's ready to win that Duel tomorrow, for sure."

"Yeah, Fluttershy's gonna beat that other guy, no matter who it is!" Rainbow added. She then said to the pink and yellow girl, "Just remember everything that we've taught ya, and you'll do great out there!"

"I will, Rainbow Dash. I'll do my best." Fluttershy said. "Win or lose, I'll make the whole school proud!"

Sunset and the others gave out looks that told each other that their once-timid friend was more than ready for whatever challenge that awaited her tomorrow. They knew that she'd give the whole school a Duel to remember for years to come.

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The very next day, in the large soccer field out in the schoolyard, the bleachers were filling up fast with students from both Canterlot High and Griffonstone High. It was now time for the big event: The Inter-school Duel. Just about everyone from both schools attended the event, eager to see the competition duke it out.

On the soccer field, Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna greeted the principal from Griffonstone before the Inter-school Duel began. The man seemed to be in his senior years, as he was very much older than either of the two women. He had grayish-pink colored skin, with a few dark-colored spots, including two large ones around his eyes. He lacked a bit in terms of hair, having only dark-grey strands growing on the back of his head, just above his neck. On his head was a burgundy fez hat with a light yellow stripe and tassel. His outfit consisted of a dark grey coat over top of a grey undershirt, complete with a light grey tie. His slacks were of the same color as his coat, and his leather shoes were a very deep black color. On the right side of the chest area on the coat, there was a golden-yellow emblem that appeared to look like a Griffon, a mythical creature that combined the traits of a lion and an eagle.

"It's good to meet you again, Principal Gruff." said Celestia, shaking the much older man's hand.

"You as well, Ms. Celestia." the other principal, named Gruff, replied. "And a hearty hello to you as well, Ms. Luna."

"Hmmm. Indeed..." the vice principal told him. "Just do not expect this year to end like last time, Mr. Gruff. This year, the trophy will be in OUR school."

"Peh, we'll see about that." Principal Gruff responded with a smirk. "As you know, I've selected our best young Duelist to take part in the festivities; a student that, up to this point, remains undefeated. I hope that fact doesn't dampen your school's confidence any..."

"I don't think we'll have to worry too much." Celestia told him in her usual relaxed manner, pretty sure that things would turn out well. "Just don't expect an easy win, Mr. Gruff."

"Hmph." the old man huffed. "Let us just make our way to the center of the field; this Duel isn't going to start itself, now is it?" The other two principals nodded and the three of them prepared to make their way over to the microphone stands that were set up in order to make the opening announcements.

Clearing her throat, Celestia then spoke into the mic, saying, "Everybody, may I have your attention, please?" Everyone quieted down after the Canterlot High principal spoke to them. "Now then," she continued, "I, Principal Celestia, my sister, Vice Principal Luna, and Principal Gruff from Griffonstone High School, all wish to thank you for coming to see our annual Inter-school Duel!"

The crowds from both schools cheered loudly, eager to see the big Duel.

"Now," spoke Vice Principal Luna, taking the microphone from her older sister, "as you know, the competition has been quite fierce over the past few years that we've held this annual event. The Inter-school Duel Trophy has moved back and forth between our two schools, which shows just how much both Canterlot and Griffonstone have grown in strength over the years. So I can say, with complete confidence, that this Duel will be filled with excitement and unexpected twists like none we've ever seen before!" The crowds cheered even louder after Luna got them all pumped up.

"I have to admit, your sister knows how to get the students excited." Gruff told Celestia.

"Well, she's always told me that, if she weren't a vice principal, she would most definitely have done well as a motivational speaker." the light pink woman replied with a chuckle.

Luna then smiled and said to the crowds, "Without further ado, let us begin the Inter-school Duel by introducing the first competitor!" Gesturing her hand over towards the gymnasium's back doors, she then announced, "Representing Canterlot High School, I am proud to present a Duelist that, at first glance, doesn't seem like the type that would be suitable for a major competition such as this. However, numbers do not lie, and they have shown that this competitor has had an extremely impressive track record with her Duels. Therefore, my sister and I are proud to present our Duelist for the Inter-school Duel... Ms. Fluttershy!!"

The students from both sides watched as the first set of double doors opened. Canterlot's students weren't expecting much, since they still didn't think that Fluttershy was a good choice for the big competition. But when the pink and yellow girl stepped out of the building, there was a sudden and collective gasp amongst the audience when they got a good look at her...

Fluttershy was wearing her new outfit that Rarity had made for her, and just as the violet-haired girl had told her friend, the animal lover definitely felt more confident just simply by wearing it. In addition to her new clothes, Fluttershy had also styled her hair differently to better match her new look. It had a more modern-looking appearance, with the length of her hair on the left side of her head positioned above her forehead, and some of the hair on the top of her head cascading down just slightly over top of it.

"Woah... Is that really Fluttershy?" asked one of the Canterlot High girls in slight astonishment. "I almost didn't recognize her... And not just because of the outfit."

"Duuuuuude... Has she always looked that good...?" gawked one of the male CHS students.

Following Fluttershy from behind were Sunset Shimmer, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie. They still had their usual outfits on, with the addition of light-green coats worn over top. On the left side of the chest area on each coat was a small emblem of three pink butterflies, and on the back of each coat were the words, "Team Fluttershy".

"Who are you supposed to be?" Principal Gruff asked the shy teen's friends.

"What does it look like?" Rainbow asked rhetorically. "We're the cheering section!"

"Cheering section??" The old man then asked Celestia, "Is that even allowed...?"

"As long as they don't give her any direct advice during the Duel, it's fine by me." the light pink woman answered.

"We won't need t' feed her any info." Applejack then told the adults. "She's already got everythin' she needs to win this!" She then turned over towards Fluttershy and asked her, "Ain't that right, Sugarcube?"

"Um... I guess so..." the animal-loving teen replied meekly.

"Do as you wish..." Gruff told them all. He then walked over and took the microphone from Vice Principal Luna so that he could introduce the other competitor. "Students, may I have your attention please? Representing Griffonstone High School, we have brought with us, our school's best Duelist! She has competed in many major competitions throughout the high school and elsewhere, and to this day, remains totally undefeated!"

"Oh my..." muttered Fluttershy, getting a bit worried.

"So now, without further ado, I bring you our other competitor!" Gruff announced. "Presenting Griffonstone's pride and joy: The warrior woman! The fierce female! The girl who takes no guff! The-"

"Oh, C'MON already!!" shouted a tough-sounding voice from nearby. "You're borin' everyone t' death, old man!"

Everyone turned to look towards the source of the voice and saw a teenage girl standing there. She had golden-brown skin and long, messy hair that was colored a very light grey and looked feather-like in appearance. She had deep yellow eyes, with blotches of grey around those eyes, and a look that told those around her that she wasn't one to be messed with.

Her clothes had a rugged appearance to them that added to her tough-looking personality: She wore a black leather jacket over top of a grey shirt that had the same Griffon emblem on it that Principal Gruff had on his coat. The shirt was torn along the bottom; whether it happened naturally or not remained to be seen. Her jeans were dark blue in color, with similar torn bits at the bottom of each of the leggings, and held up with a black belt. She also wore a pair of black boots, each fastened with a pair of buckles, and on her wrists were two gold bracelets. On her right arm was a Duel Pad, but it had a slightly different appearance compared to the ones that Sunset and the others wore. It was brown in color, and seemed to resemble a wing of some sort.

The girl walked onto the field and snatched the microphone away from Principal Gruff before telling him, "Since you're CLEARLY not gonna get to it anytime this century, I'll introduce MYSELF, Pops."

Gruff grumbled a little and said, "Fine... go ahead." He then walked off, muttering to himself. "Kids these days... no respect... I remember in my day..."

The tough-looking teenager then spoke into the microphone, saying, "Griffonstone, you guys already know me pretty well... But for those of you from Canterlot High, I'll introduce myself to you. And I promise to use small words and talk reeeeeal slowly so that you can understand what I'm sayin'."

That insulting comment spurred CHS's students into booing her. "What's THAT supposed t' mean?!" shouted Scootaloo, who was sitting next to her friends Apple Boom and Sweetie Belle.

Chuckling a little to herself, the Griffonstone girl then cleared her throat and said, "As for who I am, the name's Gilda: Best Duelist in Griffonstone High!" She then glanced over at Fluttershy and added, "And after I whup Ms. Flashy-Pants over there, I'll soon become the best in the whole city!"

Upon hearing the girl's name, Rainbow Dash grumbled a little. Sunset noticed her friend growling and asked her, "Dash, is something wrong?"

"Maybe..." the athletic teen. "It's just that I should've known that they'd pick HER to be Fluttershy's opponent..."

"Don't tell me that you actually KNOW that ruffian, Rainbow dear?" inquired Rarity, surprised.

"Yeah, I do." Dash answered. "Gilda and I used to be friends back in Middle School... and I emphasize the words, 'used to be'."

"What happened?" asked Applejack, wondering why the two of them weren't friends anymore.

"Well, back then, she and I were beasts out there when it came to sports and stuff." Rainbow Dash explained to her friends. "Nobody could beat us, and we knew it." She then sighed and continued, saying, "The problem was that, because we were so good at physical stuff, Gilda felt like that was enough of an excuse to make others do whatever she wanted them to do. She'd rough 'em up in order to make things go her way... I didn't believe the rumors until I caught her in the act one day. When I scolded her for it, she got all mad and, well... that was it."

"Woah..." Sunset said with a gasp. She then felt a little sick to her stomach, as what Rainbow had told them all reminded her of how she used to act.

"Oh dear..." Rarity responded in a worried tone. "She sounds like nothing but a common brute... I hope Fluttershy will be okay out there..."

At that moment, the Griffonstone girl, named Gilda, walked over to Fluttershy and the others. As the shy girl's friends gave her nasty looks, the roughneck then said to the pink and yellow teen, "So you're the chick I'm Duelin' against..." Snickering, she then told her, "You look like you're scared just to be standing here, let alone having to take me on."

"Don't y'all even start, gal..." Applejack told her sternly. "We're not just gonna let ya badmouth our friend like that, so just get t' your side of the field n' clam it!"

"Pfft. Like THAT'S gonna make me flinch." Gilda responded in an uncaring tone. Glancing over at her ex-friend, she then told her, "Looks like you haven't changed a bit, Dash; Back in Middle School, you and I could've had anything we wanted... but you decided to go soft and weak. And I don't got the time to deal with weaklings."

"Yeah? Well, I don't have time to deal with bullies that pick on other people for the fun of it!" Rainbow Dash rebutted.

"Oh, you've got the 'fun' part of that right." Gilda replied. "And I'm gonna have a blast taking your wimpy little friend down!" Turning around and heading back to the field, she then told her opponent, "So good luck; it STILL won't be enough t' save ya." And with that last remark, the girl from Griffonstone made her exit.

Fluttershy was now trembling even more than she was earlier, but she stopped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. "Eep!" she shrieked, looking over at the hand, only to see that it belonged to Rainbow Dash. "R-R-Rainbow...?"

"Listen, Flutters," the athletic teen said to her, "don't let Gilda get to ya; she's always acted like that. But don't worry about anything she tells you; her bark's a LOT worse than her bite, believe me."

"I... I don't know..." the animal-loving teen responded, still slightly intimidated.

"Look, Gilda thought I was weak just because I didn't act like her and bully other people to do whatever I wanted." Rainbow explained. "She thinks that being kind to other people also means being a wimp. But she's wrong, Fluttershy: Being kind to others makes us stronger, not weaker. After all, we've given you plenty of help and support for this Duel, and now you're stronger than ever! And you need to prove that to Gilda by beating her right here, right now!"

Fluttershy was still a bit nervous, but she knew that Rainbow Dash was right. Putting on the best look of determination that she could, she nodded and told her friend, "I'll do my very best."

"That's the spirit, Sugarcube!" cheered Applejack.

"You've no chance of losing, darling!" added Rarity. "With all of us supporting you out there, you can do anything!"

"Except flying." added Pinkie Pie. "You can only do that after Ponying Up... But other than that, Rarity's right!"

"Now you go out there and show her what a real Duel is all about!" Sunset told her.

Fluttershy nodded and ran over to the soccer field, taking her place on the side opposite from Gilda. Holding out her left arm, she shouted (in a slightly quiet tone), "Duel Pad activate...!" After her device unfolded its card tray, she then took out her Duel Gazer from a pocket on her skirt and placed it over her left eye. "Duel Gazer, activate...!" Gilda then did the same, putting on her lens and activating her Duel Pad which, after it completely unfolded, looked much more like a big, brown wing, with each of the five, large, feather-shaped plates containing a Monster Zone.

"AR Vision Link established." said a female-sounding computerized voice as a digital copy of the schoolyard formed around everyone.

"Let the Inter-school Duel between Canterlot and Griffonstone begin!" announced the three principals in unison.

"Let's Duel!!" shouted both Gilda and Fluttershy (Fluttershy: LP 4,000) (Gilda: LP 4,000).

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Fluttershy's best friends (who, like everyone else, had switched on their Duel Gazers) sat down on a bench in front of the bleachers where their fellow CHS students were sitting as the normally-shy teen began what they knew would be a very tough Duel. As they watched the competitors draw their opening hands, Rarity then said to the others, "Well... we've done all we can for Fluttershy... The rest is up to her now."

"Ah just hope she'll be able to do well against an opponent like that Gilda person..." Applejack noted. "She seems like the type that doesn't hold nothin' back, even on somebody like Fluttershy."

"Got that right." Rainbow Dash agreed. But she then smiled and added, "But I know Fluttershy can beat her! No doubt about it!"

"Same here." Sunset chimed in. "She just needs to keep a cool head, and not let anything that Gilda says get to her."

On the field, Gilda sneered and asked her opponent, "Well, are ya gonna make a move already? I'm getting impatient, and I wanna get t' kickin' your butt sometime today!"

The shy girl trembled a little, but kept calm as she thought about her strategy. After figuring out what to do first, she then took a card from her hand and placed onto the Duel Pad, saying, "I-I place one monster face-down in Defense Mode... and then place one face-down card... Then, I end my turn."

"Pfft... about time you did somethin' other than quake in fear." the rude Duelist responded. "Now let me show you how this game is REALLY played. I draw!" After drawing her first card of the Duel, Gilda then declared, "I'll start by placing two cards face-down..." After setting her two cards (including the one she had just drawn), she then pulled out one of her Monster Cards and added, "and then I'll summon this guy in Attack Mode! Go! Raidraptor - Vanishing Lanius!"

The Griffonstone girl's first monster appeared to be a large, mechanical bird. It was strengthened with all sorts of strong body armor that consisted of many different colors, including green, blue, and silver (Raidraptor - Vanishing Lanius: Level 4 / ATK 1300 / DEF 1600).

"What kinda monster is that?" asked Applejack. "Ah've never seen one like that before."

"I think she called it a, 'Raidraptor'..." Sunset answered her. "Must be a new archetype or something. Right now, all I'm worried about is what they can do..." The rest of Fluttershy's friends nodded in agreement.

Gilda then continued her move, saying, "By Normal Summoning Vanishing Lanius, I can activate his effect: It allows me to Special Summon a Level 4 or lower Raidraptor monster straight from my hand!"

"A-another one??" asked Fluttershy, surprised.

"That's right!" confirmed the roughneck. Taking out another card from her hand, she then shouted, "So now I'll bring out Raidraptor - Sharp Lanius to the field in Attack Mode!!" She then played her card, calling up another robotic-looking bird to her side of the field. This bird was mostly covered in red armor that, true to its name, consisted of pieces that were almost as sharp as any sword (Raidraptor - Sharp Lanius: Level 4 / ATK 1700 / DEF 1000).

"But that ain't all!" Gilda continued. "Next I play the Continuous Spell Card, Raidraptor - Nest!"

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Raidraptor - Nest:
(Continuous Spell Card)

If you control 2 or more "Raidraptor" monsters: You can add 1 "Raidraptor" monster from your Deck or Graveyard to your hand. You can only use this effect of "Raidraptor - Nest" once per turn.

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

"I'll use the effect of my Spell Card to take Raidraptor - Fuzzy Lanius from my Deck and put it in my hand!" Gilda informed her foe. Her Duel Pad then auto-shuffled her cards, leaving her chosen card sticking out of the top of her Deck after it was done. She then took it out and added, "Next, I'll Special Summon Raidraptor - Fuzzy Lanius straight from my hand, since I control a Raidraptor monster other than Fuzzy Lanius on my field!"

Everyone from CHS gasped when the roughneck summoned her third monster this turn. Her newest monster was yet another mechanical bird, this one covered with body armor that was colored mostly in dark blue and violet (Raidraptor - Fuzzy Lanius: Level 4 / ATK 500 / DEF 1500).

"Did she just summon a bunch of monsters in one turn?!" asked Pinkie Pie, astonished. "Isn't that against the rules?"

"Um, no... it isn't." Sunset told her. "Only one of those was a Normal Summon; the other two were Special Summons."

Pinkie seemed a bit disappointed. She huffed a little and said with a sigh, "Oh well... I guess the whole funny line about money doesn't really work in this situation anyway."

Fluttershy shook a bit after she watched Gilda summon her three monsters to the field. The Griffonstone girl then smirked and told her enemy, "Now let's do the math here: I've got three super-strong monsters on my field, and you've got just one measly monster on yours... By my count, you're about to take a ton of damage on just my first turn!" Pointing straight towards the shy teen's face-down monster, Gilda gave out her order: "Go! Sharp Lanius! Attack her monster!!"

In an instant, the red armored bird flew towards Fluttershy, slashing apart her face-down monster and sent it to the Graveyard (Naturia Cherries: Level 1 / ATK 200 / DEF 200).

Chuckling, the rude Duelist then told Fluttershy, "And now I can go for your Life Points next..."

But the shy teen told her opponent, "Um... actually, you can't."

"Say what?"

"By destroying Naturia Cherries, you've, um... activated its special ability." Fluttershy informed Gilda. "It lets me Special Summon two more copies of it from my Deck in Defense Mode." Her Deck then gave her the two other Naturia Cherries that she had on her. After taking them both, she then placed them face-down on her Duel Pad.

"Why you little..." grumbled Gilda, knowing that she wouldn't be able to inflict any real damage this turn. Huffing a little, she then said, "Fine, have it your way. I'll just tear those two monsters apart instead! Attack, Fuzzy Lanius and Vanishing Lanius!!" And with that order, the roughneck's other two monsters eliminated the other two Naturia Cherries that Fluttershy had just summoned.

"Not a bad move at all." noted Rarity. "Fluttershy just saved herself from taking any damage to her Life Points this turn."

"Yeah, but that Gilda chick's still got three monsters on her field." Applejack reminded everyone. "She's still not quite out of the woods yet."

"C'mon, Fluttershy!" shouted Rainbow Dash. "Those three monsters aren't nothin' ya can't handle! So go out there and give 'em a pounding for us!"

"O-okay." the pink and yellow girl replied. Facing her opponent, she then said, "It's my turn... I draw." She then took her next card and began to think of what to do next. She then tried her best to remember everything that her friends had taught her, starting with Pinkie Pie, in that she needed to do something that her opponent wouldn't see coming. Getting an idea, she then announced (in her usual quiet tone), "I'll set another card face-down... and then... um... I'll Summon Naturia Cliff in Attack Mode."

Fluttershy's new monster was a large slab of rock with two beady red eyes, as well as red grass on the top of it that was meant to resemble hair (Naturia Cliff: Level 4 / ATK 1500 / DEF 1000).

"Hmph. You finally Summoned a decent monster for a change." noted Gilda. She then smirked and thought, (But if you try to attack, I'll have my Trap Cards ready for ya...)

But the shy girl surprised everyone by saying, "I... end my turn."

Gasping, Sunset asked everyone, "She isn't going to attack?! But her monster could easily take out two of Gilda's!"

"Is she scared of Gilda's facedown cards, perhaps...?" inquired Rarity.

"I wouldn't jump t' conclusions just yet, guys..." stated Rainbow Dash with a smile. "I think Flutters knows what she's doin'."

The Griffonstone girl grumbled a bit. (Your wimping out saved you this time...) she thought to herself. She then shouted, "Fine! If you won't attack, I will!! Now I draw!!" Picking up her next card, she then declared, "I activate the Trap Card, Icarus Attack! By releasing a Winged Beast-Type monster that I've got, I can destroy any two cards on the field!"

"Uh oh... that sure don't sound good..." noted Applejack.

"So I'll release Fuzzy Lanius," Gilda started, "and destroy your monster, along with the facedown card on your right!" After making that declaration, Fuzzy Lanius was bathed in a bright light that expanded itself into a much larger light that looked like a mighty bird. It then dove straight towards Fluttershy, intending to take out its targets...

"I'm sorry, but... I can't let you do that...!" said Fluttershy, tapping her Duel Pad. "I activate the Counter Trap, Exterio's Fang!"

"What?! A Counter Trap Card?!" exclaimed the Griffonstone girl.

"Awesome!" cheered Dash, pumping her fist into the air. "Gilda sure didn't see that one comin'!"

"I'll say." stated Sunset. "Counter Traps are among the most powerful type of Trap Cards out there, because only another Counter Trap can respond to one."

"Now," began Fluttershy, "Exterio's Fang has the power to negate your Trap Card and destroy it, as long as I control a face-up Naturia monster."

Gilda growled a little. "So that's the REAL reason you put your monster in Attack Mode..." she deduced, realizing her opponent's plan.

"That's correct." the shy Duelist confirmed. "So now I negate and destroy your Icarus Attack...!" After she said that, the light energy from her opponent's Trap Card dissolved into the air, vanishing completely. After doing so, Fluttershy then sent one of the cards in her hand to the Graveyard, due to the other part of her card's effect.

"Yes!" cheered Rarity. "Fluttershy got her opponent to waste a very powerful card, along with one of her monsters! She's off to a very good start!"

Gilda didn't seem to be as happy about it, considering that she was the one who ended up paying for it. "Well, I suppose a wimp like you might be able to make ONE good move every now and then... But let's be realistic here: You don't stand a chance against me, and I'm gonna make that painfully clear to ya!" Placing another monster onto her Duel Pad's tray, she shouted, "I Summon Battlestorm in Attack Mode!!"

Gilda's next monster was a tall, tough-looking human man with fiery orange and silver body armor, metal gloves with talon-like fingers, a pair of gold-colored boots, and a pair of pitch-black wings on his back (Battlestorm: Level 4 / ATK 1700 / DEF 1000).

"Thanks to Battlestorm's effect," the Griffonstone Duelist continued, "he gains 100 extra attack points for every Winged Beast-Type monster on my side of the field! Since I've got three of them, that's an extra 300 points (Battlestorm: ATK 1700 + 300 = 2000)! But that's not all! I'll activate his other effect as well!"

"Wh-what does that do??" asked Fluttershy.

"It's pretty simple to figure out, even for you." Gilda told her. "Since I have three Winged Beasts on my field, his other power lets me destroy one Spell or Trap Card that you've got on the field! But since you only have one, I'll go for that!"

The others could only watch as Gilda's new monster slashed its claws and destroyed the pink and yellow girl's only face-down card. Fluttershy instinctively put her hands in front of her face to shield herself from the impact.

"Heh, so much for whatever secret plan you had for that card, wimp." the rude girl said with a sneer. "Whad'ya got to say to that?"

"Um... actually... I was... kind of hoping that you would do that..." Fluttershy told her.

"Wh-what??"

Taking the card that Gilda had destroyed out of her Duel Pad and showing it to her, the animal-loving teen explained, saying, "The card that you destroyed was Miracle Synchro Fusion... When it's destroyed while it was face-down because of an opponent's card effect, I can then draw one card from my Deck..." And she did just that.

"You've gotta be kidding me!" exclaimed Gilda, not expecting that.

"Woah, did y'all see that?" asked Applejack. "Fluttershy even made Gilda's move work out in her own favor!"

"But how did she know that Gilda would attempt something like that?" Rarity inquired.

"It's 'cause she decided to trust her instincts." Rainbow Dash told them. "That's somethin' that I taught her back when we were helpin' her out. I'll bet that she figured that Gilda would try to destroy her Spell and Trap Cards at some point, so she decided to set a decoy to trick her."

"Well, that sure seemed to work out." Sunset chimed in. "Let's just hope that Fluttershy can follow that up with some even better plays next."

Gilda was getting a little annoyed by how easily someone like Fluttershy was able to trick her. (This little wuss is REALLY beginning to tick me off...) she pondered. (But I ain't gonna let her win this! I'll make her pay for tricking me like that!) The Griffonstone Duelist then yelled, "Time for my Battle Phase!! I attack Naturia Cliff with Battlestorm!! Go! Razor Talon Slash!!"

Fluttershy braced herself as Gilda's powerful monster slashed its claws across the target monster's stone body. Afterwards, it was reduced to nothing but rubble, and the impact caused some slight damage to the shy Duelist (Fluttershy: LP 4,000 - 500 = 3,500). But Fluttershy stood her ground and gave out her best look of confidence towards her opponent.

"Wh-what's that look for??" asked Gilda, confused. "I just wiped out your monster! And five hundred of your Life Points!"

"Maybe so..." the pink and yellow teen told her, "but by destroying Naturia Cliff, you activated his special ability."

"Grrr... what NOW??" asked the rude teen, not too psyched to know about what her foe was going to do next.

"When my monster is sent from the field to my Graveyard, its effect permits me to Special Summon a Level 4 or lower Naturia monster from my Deck to replace it..." Fluttershy explained. Taking out her chosen card, she then announced, "I choose to Summon Naturia Dragonfly from my Deck in Attack Mode...!" She then placed the card on her Duel Pad, causing an adorable-looking dragonfly with big, blue eyes to fly out in front of her (Naturia Dragonfly: Level 4 / ATK 1200 / DEF 400).

"So what? My Raidraptors'll devour that bug in no time." Gilda told her enemy, not caring in the slightest. "Especially since its attack points are so low."

"Well, not really, actually." Fluttershy rebutted. "Because of its effect, Naturia Dragonfly gains 200 more attack points for every Naturia monster that I have in my Graveyard..."

"Huh??" asked the Griffonstone girl.

"I currently have five Naturias in my Graveyard, including the Naturia Beans that I sent there after using Exterio's Fang, so Naturia Dragonfly gains an additional 1,000 attack points..." the shy teen told her opponent (Naturia Dragonfly: ATK 1200 + 1000 = 2200). "That means its attack points are higher than any of yours..."

(Why that little...!) Gilda grumbled in her mind. (I don't get it! I've got more monsters on my field than she does! I've destroyed four of her monsters so far! I've even damaged her Life Points! But somehow, I'M the one at a disadvantage!) Huffing, she then told her foe, "Make your next move, already!"

"Just say you're ending your turn!" Rarity scolded Gilda. "You do not have to be rude about it!"

"...Whatever." the roughneck sighed.

"It's my turn... I draw!" Fluttershy then pulled her next card and placed it into her hand, then took out a different card and placed it on her Duel Pad. "I Summon the Tuner Monster, Naturia Vein...!" she shouted (quietly). Her new monster appeared to be an imp of some sort that was made completely out of bright green leaves (Naturia Vein: Level 1 / ATK 200 / DEF 300).

"A Tuner??" asked Gilda, having a good feeling about what her opponent would do next.

"Oh yeah... With all that she's done so far, Ah almost forgot..." Applejack began. "Fluttershy's Deck is pretty heavy on Synchro Monsters."

"Well, this is probably the best time for her to get a powerful monster on the field, since Gilda used up most of her strongest cards so soon..." Sunset Shimmer noted.

"Go for it, Fluttershy!" cheered Rainbow. "Teach that jerk a lesson about how a REAL Duelist does things!"

Fluttershy took a deep breath and then declared, "I now tune the Level 1 Naturia Vein... to my Level 4 Naturia Dragonfly." Her newly summoned monster then glowed brightly as it transformed into a single ball of light that hurled itself into the air. It then came back down as a green ring that surrounded her Insect-Type monster, causing it to glow as well. "Blessed forest, give me your strength!" the shy girl began to chant. "Call forth the beast as green as the trees to protect the creatures that dwell within it! Synchro Summon!"

After her chant, Naturia Dragonfly turned itself into four smaller lights within the green ring before both were engulfed by a column of bright green light (Level 1 + Level 4 = Level 5).

"Hear my call! Level 5! Naturia Beast!!" Fluttershy shouted, finishing the Summoning Chant. At that moment, a large creature emerged from out of the green light column, revealing itself as a massive, green-colored tiger that appeared to be just as much a plant as it was an animal. It gave out a ferocious roar that caused everyone, even Gilda, to cover their ears (except for Fluttershy) (Naturia Beast: Level 5 / ATK 2200 / DEF 1700).

"Woah! I didn't know Fluttershy had that card!" said one of the male CHS students. "That thing's super-strong!"

"You think she might actually win this now...?" one of the female CHS students asked another.

"...Maybe..." replied the other girl, still not completely sure about it.

Gilda was the most surprised; she did not expect someone like Fluttershy to have such a strong card in her Deck. Grumbling a little, she thought to herself, (Apparently, this wimp's a little tougher than I thought she was...)

The normally-shy girl then took the card that she had just drawn and said, "I now play the Spell Card, Leodrake's Mane, from my hand."

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Leodrake's Mane:
(Normal Spell Card)

Select 1 face-up "Naturia" monster you control. Its ATK becomes 3000, and its effects are negated, until the End Phase.

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

"I use the effect of my Spell Card to increase Naturia Beast's attack power to 3000!" Fluttershy announced.

"I know what you're tryin' to do, but I'm not about t' let my Raidraptors take that big of a hit!" Gilda informed her foe. "I activate the Trap Card, Raidraptor - Readiness! Which means that, this turn, my Raidraptors can't be destroyed in battle!"

"Well, in that case," the pink and yellow girl began to say, "I'll have my Beast attack Battlestorm instead." (Naturia Beast: ATK 2200 > 3000) She then pointed forward and softly shouted, "Go...! Naturia Claw Strike!"

Fluttershy's powerful Synchro Monster then pounced towards Battlestorm and slashed at him with its powerful claws, destroying it and sending it to the Graveyard. In addition, the force of the attack also struck Gilda, depleting some of her Life Points as well (Gilda: LP 4,000 - 1,000 = 3,000).

"No way..." said a male Griffonstone student in the audience. "She actually damaged Gilda?? That never happens!"

Mr. Gruff seemed to be just as surprised when he saw his star Duelist take the heavy hit. Celestia then asked him, "So... it seems that the outcome of this Duel isn't quite so clear now, is it?"

"Hmph... not quite, Ms. Celestia." the elderly principal told her. "Gilda's just getting started with your student; In fact, much like a wounded animal, my little rising star is about to show you and her just how vicious she can truly be..." Luna and Celestia looked at one another, getting a little worried by what Principal Gruff had told them.

After making her only attack so far in the entire Duel, Fluttershy then said, "I now end my turn, which means that the effects of Leodrake's Mane are over now." (Naturia Beast: ATK 3000 > 2200)

Now Gilda was beginning to get angry; she couldn't believe that she had just taken damage from Fluttershy. Snarling, she then told her enemy, "Alright, I have had just about enough of you, girl... Up to this point, I was goin' easy on you because I thought you were a total wuss... But now you're starting to annoy me!!"

"Oh... my..." was all that the timid girl could respond with.

"You'd better get ready, you wimp! 'Cause I'm not gonna just stand here and let you make a fool outta me!!" Drawing her next card, Gilda then shouted, "I use the effect of Raidraptor - Nest, and pull another Raidraptor out of my Deck!"

But Fluttershy told her, "I'm sorry... but I have to stop you from doing that..." Taking two cards off of the top of her Deck and placing them into her Duel Pad's Graveyard slot, she then declared, "I use the effect of Naturia Beast...! By sending the top two cards of my Deck to the Graveyard, I can negate your Spell Card and destroy it."

"WHAT?!?" screamed the Griffonstone Duelist as, once more, her opponent managed to stop her move and eliminate her card.

"Yeah! Nice one, Flutters!" shouted Rainbow Dash.

"She stopped her again!!" cheered Pinkie Pie, hopping up and down on the seat they were sitting on, causing it to shake rapidly. "She's doing so superly-super well!!"

"Pin-n-nkie!! Sto-o-op sha-a-aking the ben-n-nch!!" shouted Sunset.

The silly pink girl immediately stopped hopping excitedly, sat down, and responded with, "Sorry. My bad."

Gilda grumbled again and thought, (Crud... I forgot that her monster could do that!) The Griffonstone girl was so flustered from what had happened to her so far, that she couldn't think straight right now. Looking at her hand, Gilda continued to ponder, (I don't have any other monsters in my hand... Just the two that I've got on my field...)

She then looked straight towards her foe and put on an angry face. (I knew I should've used Sharp Lanius's effect or Raidraptor - Nest earlier on, but I didn't think I'd need to use them against a weakling like her...!) Growling a little, Gilda then thought, (Even so, I've still got ONE card that she WON'T be able to stop, no matter how strong she thinks she is!)

"Alright then, Butterfly or Bumblefly, or whatever your name is..." the Griffonstone student told her opponent, "you've gotten this far, but your beginner's luck ends right now! Just remember: You FORCED me to do this!"

"Um... oh dear..." Fluttershy responded, getting even more worried.

"Now I overlay Vanishing Lanius and Sharp Lanius, both Level 4!!" yelled Gilda as her two monsters transformed into a pair of dark purple lights that were sucked up into a large portal in front of her.

"Uh oh... she's performing an Xyz Summoning!" Rainbow Dash commented.

"Oh dear... You don't think she has a Number card, do you??" asked Rarity out of concern.

"I sure hope not..." said Sunset, clutching onto her special key necklace.

After her two monsters were drawn into the summoning portal, the Duelist from Griffonstone began to chant: "Formed from pitch-black darkness, to fight those foolish enough to oppose it with its treacherous fangs! Xyz Summon!" The portal then let out a powerful explosion of dark energy, which began to form into a monstrous shape. Two large, spiky wings emerged first, followed by clawed hands and feet, then the rest of its body, which included a dragon head on a very long neck. "Appear now! Rank 4! Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon!" Gilda said, finishing the chant.

The entire creature was indeed a dragon, colored mostly black, dark-purple, and dark grey. Its chest area had several red lights glowing on it, and its long tail had a pair of claw-like spikes at the end of it.

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

Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon:
(Xyz-Effect Monster/Dragon-Type/DARK/Rank 4/ATK 2500/DEF 2000)

2 Level 4 monsters
You can detach 2 Xyz Materials from this card, then target 1 face-up monster your opponent controls; its ATK becomes half its current ATK, and if it does, this card gains that lost ATK.

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

The students of Canterlot High, including Fluttershy and her friends, gasped at the sight of Gilda's super-powerful monster. "Ah don't believe it..." said Applejack, astounded.

"She has THAT Xyz Monster?" asked Rarity. "That extremely rare dragon??"

"I thought it was just a myth..." added Pinkie Pie, who for once, didn't have that usually-happy look upon her face.

"I've only heard about that powerful card;" noted Sunset. "I've never actually seen it before..." She then sighed a little and added, "But at least it's not a Number card; in comparison, that would've been a whole lot worse."

"Maybe so," Rainbow Dash chimed in, "but that thing on Gilda's side of the field is still pretty tough..." She then thought in her mind, (Don't get scared, Fluttershy... You're gonna need every bit of courage you can muster if you wanna take THAT ugly thing down!)

Fluttershy, of course, was shivering at the sight of Gilda's Xyz Monster. "Oh dear... this isn't good..." she said to herself. "Now how am I going to win??"

"You won't." Gilda answered with a sneer. "Dark Rebellion's my ace card, and nobody's ever been able t' beat it! And d'ya wanna know why that is?" Chuckling, she then added, "Well, maybe I'll just SHOW you what I mean..." The rude Duelist then shouted, "I activate Dark Rebellion's effect!"

Everyone leaned closer to the edge of their seats, wondering what was going to happen next...

"First, I remove BOTH of his Overlay Units!" Gilda started, sending both of the cards underneath her Xyz Monster card to her Graveyard. As she did, the two purple lights that were swirling around it phased into the two large orbs on both of its wings (Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon: OLU 2 - 2 = 0). Afterwards, the monster then shifted parts of its wings, revealing a pair of smaller orbs that unleashed several bolts of purple lightning. The bolts shot towards Fluttershy's Naturia Beast and constricted it like ropes, causing the giant tiger to roar in pain.

"Wh-what are you doing?!" asked the pink and yellow girl, getting scared.

"Dark Rebellion's effect allows me to target any one monster you have on the field and cut its attack power in half! (Naturia Beast: ATK 2200 ÷ 2 = 1100) But just so those attack points don't go to waste, my monster then takes those points and adds them to his own, making him even more powerful!!"

"It can WHAT?!?" shouted Fluttershy's friends in unison upon hearing that.

All the shy girl could do was watch in horror as her monster was weakened significantly, while Gilda's Xyz Monster grew even stronger than it was before (Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon: ATK 2500 + 1100 = 3600).

"This ain't gonna be pretty..." noted Applejack. "Her Synchro Monster's done for!"

"Oh dear... I can't watch!" Rarity chimed in, covering her eyes.

"Now, Dark Rebellion!! Attack that wimp's Naturia Beast!!" ordered Gilda. "Go!! Revolt of the Lightning!!!" And with that order, the powerful dragon then spread its sharp wings, which began glowing a bright blue. It then flew forward, charging up electrical energy into the spike on its chin and then stabbed it into Fluttershy's Synchro Monster, destroying it and causing a massive electrical explosion.

"AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!" screamed the pink and yellow girl as she took heavy damage from the assault (Fluttershy: LP 3,500 - 2,500 = 1,000). She was thrown to the ground as a result of the impact.

"Oh no! Fluttershy!!" shouted Pinkie Pie.

"You alright, Sugarcube??" asked Applejack, concerned.

The timid girl struggled, but was able to stand straight up. Physically, she was okay, but mentally, she was devastated. A tear began to well up in her left eye as she trembled even more.

"Oh dear..." said Sunset. "She took a heavy hit there, and I don't just mean to her Life Points... That attack probably shook her confidence and is making her too afraid to go on..." Looking up at the rest of CHS's students behind them, she added, "And it's not like the rest of the students here are any help... I don't think they believe in her one bit..."

Rainbow Dash growled to herself and got up out of her seat. She then turned towards her fellow students and shouted to them, "Hey! Are you guys just gonna sit there or what?! Fluttershy's in a tough spot and she needs our support!!"

"What's the point?" asked a young girl with silver-grey skin and glasses. "She's just gonna lose anyway, so why should we even bother?"

"Because if she does lose, it'll be all YOUR fault!!" the athletic teen told them in a scolding tone.

"And what is THAT supposed to mean?" asked a girl with blue skin and striped hair that was colored an even lighter blue. "Trixie demands an explanation!"

"You want an explanation?" asked Dash. "Then I'll give ya one: The only reason that Fluttershy is nervous and scared out there is because none of ya believe that she can do it! You don't think she can win, and that's not gonna help her out there!"

The rest of the students gave out blank stares as Dash told them all exactly what she thought about their negative attitudes right now.

"I don't care how tough Gilda's cards are!" the rainbow-haired teen continued. "I don't care how many Duels she's won! And I don't care what Fluttershy's actual odds are against her! I know Flutters can win this, because she has my support! And she's also got the support of the rest of my friends as well!" She then gave the audience a piercing stare and told them, "And if you guys have any respect for her or our school, you'll give her your support as well! Do I make myself clear?!"

The shy teen gasped a little and thought, (Clear...? Wait a minute...)

The other CHS students were dead silent after Rainbow told them off. Now they began to feel really bad about how they were treating Fluttershy. At that moment, Scootaloo stood up out of her seat and said, "Rainbow Dash is right! Like it or not, Fluttershy's representing our school, and she's fighting her hardest out there for all of us! She's always been so good and kind to every one of us, and this is how we're gonna repay her? By making her feel like she can't do anything?!"

"Ah'm with ya, Scoots!" said a young girl with yellow skin, orange eyes, red hair, and a pink bow. She also wore a green shirt and blue jeans, along with a pair of yellow boots. "If Fluttershy's gonna beat that Gilda jerk, she needs t' know that we're behind her all the way!"

"I agree, Apple Bloom!" said the voice of a girl equal in age to both the pink bow-wearing girl and Scootaloo. She had white skin, green eyes, and pink and purple hair done up in swirls. She wore a pink and white-striped top and a long, yellow skirt, with a hot pink coat worn over top. She also had on a pair of long, pink boots. The girl stood up and shouted, "You can do it, Fluttershy!! You'll beat that meanie or my name's not Sweetie Belle!!" Pausing for a moment, she then asked her friends, "Wait... if she doesn't win this, does that mean I'll have to change my name?" That comment elicted a groan out of both Apple Bloom and Scootaloo.

After Rainbow's speech, and after the comments given by the three young girls, the other students finally realized that they had to support Fluttershy and help her feel like that she could win, despite the apparent odds. "Go get 'er, Fluttershy!" shouted one of the boys, who just so happened to be Flash Sentry.

"You've got this one in the bag!" shouted the voice of Lyra Heartstrings next.

"Same here!" added Bon Bon.

"I don't usually support anything even remotely violent..." added a hazy, female voice, coming from a green-skinned girl with braided, orange hair, "but I'm, like, totally with everyone else here... So I'm gonna, like, send every last one of my good vibes your way..."

Before long, Fluttershy began to finally hear cheers coming from her fellow students. Now they were finally supporting her in her tough battle instead of making her feel nervous. For the first time since the Duel began, the now-no-longer-timid teenager smiled warmly and said, "Thank you... Thank you everyone..." No longer feeling scared, she then gave her opponent a glare and told her, "I'm sorry, Gilda... but you're not going to win this Duel!"

"You've gotta be kidding me..." huffed the girl from Griffonstone. "A buncha your wimpy classmates become your cheering squad and suddenly you feel like Wonder Woman? Pathetic."

"I'm sorry you feel that way, Gilda." the pink and yellow girl told her. "But I suppose you probably wouldn't understand; after all, I'll bet no one's ever wanted to cheer for you when you Duel, right?"

The rude girl grumbled and said, "Just make your stupid move already... I'm getting impatient."

"Very well then..." Fluttershy then prepared to draw her card. Before she did, she closed her eyes, and did her best to "feel" the positive attitudes of everyone from her school, wishing her the best of luck. Opening her eyes, she then shouted, "I draw!!" Taking her new card and looking at it, she was pleased by what she had gotten. Placing the new card in her hand for the moment, she then said, "First, I summon Naturia Stinkbug in Attack Mode!"

The animal lover's next monster was a large, green beetle. It had small roses at the end of each of its antennae, and its folded wings appeared to actually be leaves (Naturia Stinkbug: Level 3 / ATK 200 / DEF 500).

"You kept me waiting this long just t' bring out THAT wimpy little bug?!" yelled Gilda. "Are you trying to be as pathetic as possible in front of everyone here??"

But Fluttershy kept her confidence and ignored Gilda's rude remark. Taking the card she had just drawn, she then announced, "I now play this Quick-Play Spell Card from my hand! I activate Naturia Soothing Aroma!!"

"What??" asked the Griffonstone Duelist. "What's that card do??"

"Well, since I control a face-up Naturia monster on my field," the pink and yellow girl explained, "I can make the attack power of all of your monsters become their original attack power once more."

"Say what?!" asked Gilda.

"That means that your dragon's attack power returns to what it was when you Summoned it!" Fluttershy then told her.

Her Spell Card then gave out a sweet-smelling aroma that was enjoyed by everyone around them. The audiences from both schools, the three principals, and Fluttershy's friends all happily smelled the wondrous odor that surrounded them. "Oh my..." said Rarity with a pleased sigh. "What a WONDERFUL smell..."

"Ah have t' admit..." added Applejack, "it's quite intoxicatin'..."

"I could just sit here and smell it all day..." Sunset Shimmer chimed in.

Gilda grumbled as she looked at her Xyz Monster. Upon smelling the aroma, its urge to fight began slowly ebbing away (Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon: ATK 3600 > 2500). Scowling, she then told her foe, "You think a little stink cloud like that'll stop me?!"

"It will be a start." answered the animal lover. She then told her opponent, "After my Spell Card is finished, its other effect lets me draw one card for every monster that was affected by it..." She then drew one card from her Deck and placed it into her hand. "And with that, I end my turn."

"My turn then! I draw!!" Gilda then drew her next card and thought, (Even though her dumb Spell Card weakened my monster, it's still powerful enough to destroy her Stinkbug and take her Life Points down to zero...) But when the rude girl looked at her foe, she saw that she still had that newly-gained look of pure confidence on her face. (But wait... she should know that too... So why isn't she scared right now??) For probably the first time in her dueling career, Gilda was beginning to second-guess herself, and wasn't sure about what to do.

"Woah... check out Gilda, everypo- er, everybody..." Sunset said, pointing to the person in question. "She seems to be having a hard time making up her mind."

"That's 'cause Fluttershy is givin' her a real mighty stare." Applejack informed the otherworldly girl. "She's keepin' a confident look on her face to make her opponent feel like she's up t' somethin'."

"Heheheh, never thought I'd see the day that Gilda would actually BE intimidated by anyone." Rainbow said with a chuckle.

Gilda then began to worry that everyone was going to think she was actually scared of her opponent. Shaking her head, she then blurted out, "Dark Rebellion!! Attack her Naturia Stinkbug!!!" The rude girl's powerful dragon then flew in to attack once more.

"Gilda!! Don't do it!!" shouted Principal Gruff, instinctively trying to warn her. But it was too late to take it back now.

"I knew you would do that, Gilda..." Fluttershy then said to her. She then declared, "I activate Naturia Stinkbug's effect!!" At that moment, the green beetle on her field turned its back to Gilda's dragon, and let out a cloud of the worst-smelling odor that anyone ever experienced. And unfortunately, EVERYONE got a whiff of it.

"Ewwwww!! That's disgusting!!!" complained Diamond Tiara, coughing a little from the smell.

"I can hardly breathe...!" gagged the silver-colored girl sitting next to her, sticking out her tongue.

"Oh man...!!" complained Rainbow Dash. "That was NASTY, Fluttershy!!"

"What a horrid odor!!" added Rarity, holding her nose. "Just what kind of smell is that?!"

"I'll tell ya what it isn't:" Pinkie replied. "It's certainly not fresh-cut spring flowers spewed across a babbling brook with a hint of lemon..." She then looked ahead and added, "And yes, everyone... the whole point of this scene was to make a reference to Ed, Edd, n' Eddy." Of course, none of her friends knew what she was talking about.

Once the smell was finally gone, Gilda then asked, "What was THAT for?! Did you just cut one in front of my monster?!"

"I'm really sorry, everyone..." Fluttershy apologized, "but I had to do that in order to use Naturia Stinkbug's effect. Since you attacked one of my Naturia monsters, in this case, the Stinkbug itself, I can send it to the Graveyard. Then, not only does it negate your attack, but it also ends your Battle Phase automatically."

"Hmph... so you bought yourself another turn, so what?" the Griffonstone girl said in an uncaring tone. "You're just delaying your defeat, that's all." Taking the card that she had just drawn out of her hand, she then told her enemy, "And just to make certain that you WON'T beat me, I'll play this Spell Card from my hand! Poison of Lost Souls!!"

"P-Poison of Lost Souls?!" Fluttershy said in surprise.

"I take it that you know what it does?" asked Gilda. "All I have to do is banish any number of DARK monsters out of my Graveyard, and for each one that I get rid of, I can hit you for 200 points of damage!"

"Hey!" shouted Rainbow Dash. "Don't forget, that card also damages you, too!"

But Gilda huffed and told her former friend, "As if I really care about that!" She then took out some cards from her Graveyard slot and said, "I'll just banish all four of the monsters in my Graveyard, and then we'll both take 800 points of damage!"

Fluttershy gasped as a dark purple portal appeared in the center of the field. Out from the portal came a black mist that flowed towards both her and the Griffonstone Duelist, inflicting damage on them (Gilda: LP 3,000 - 800 = 2,200) (Fluttershy: LP 1,000 - 800 = 200).

"That jerk..." grumbled Rainbow. "That was such a cheap shot!"

"If Fluttershy doesn't do somethin' on her next turn, she's done for!" Applejack noted.

"All the more reason that we need to cheer her on and bring her to victory!" Pinkie Pie told them all. "Because that TOTALLY makes all the difference!"

"I agree wholeheartedly!" said Sunset.

"Same for me!" added Rarity. She then shouted, "You can still win this, Fluttershy! With all of us behind you, there's no way that you can lose!!" The rest of their classmates gave cheers of their own as well.

Fluttershy nodded, still feeling strong despite what she was up against. She then faced her opponent and said, "Do you hear that, Gilda? With my friends and my school backing me up, I have no more reason to be afraid of you!"

"Oh, can it already..." Gilda told her. "You're gonna make me throw up... Just make your move and lose already!"

"I'll make my move..." the pink and yellow girl began, "but I won't be losing! I have too many people depending on me to just let you walk all over me! Maybe you would understand that if you had friends of your own, Gilda..."

"...Touché." the Griffonstone Duelist replied. Even she had to admit that her opponent had a point there.

"It's my turn now... I draw!!" said Fluttershy as she swiftly pulled her next card. Once she got a good look at it, she let out a surprised gasp. "N-Naturia Pumpkin...! I remember this card...!" she said to herself. She then thought, (Sunset told me about a really good combo that I can use with this card... One that will allow me to Summon a even more powerful monster... But which one should I bring out...?) After looking over at her friends on the sidelines, particularly Rainbow Dash, the decision wasn't hard for her. "I'll do it..." she said to herself. "I have to do what Rainbow Dash told me; I have to trust my instinct... and take any chance that I have to win this Duel...!"

Placing her newly-drawn card onto her Duel Pad, Fluttershy shouted, "I Summon Naturia Pumpkin to the field in Attack Mode!!" The new monster was a sleepy little green pumpkin holding a small, yellow flower (Naturia Pumpkin: Level 4 / ATK 1400 / DEF 800).

"Pffft... that thing's nothin'." Gilda told her. "My dragon'll chew that thing up and spit it out!"

"I don't think so!" the pink and yellow girl rebutted. "Because I'm activating my monster's special ability! It allows me to Special Summon any Naturia monster from my hand if you control at least one monster! And I choose to Summon the Tuner Monster, Naturia Rosewhip!" She then placed the card horizontally on her card tray, causing a flowering plant to grow in front of her. Once it was fully-grown, it then formed a rose flower on its head, sported a pair of red eyes, and brandished a pair of thorny whips, all the while giving out a toothy grin (Naturia Rosewhip: Level 3 / ATK 400 / DEF 1700).

"A-another Tuner Monster?!?" asked the brown-skinned teenager.

"She's gonna Synchro Summon again!" said Applejack. "But what's she gonna bring out this time?"

Rainbow then looked at the Levels of Fluttershy's two monsters closely... and then let out a gasp, followed by a chuckle. Sunset, noticing this, asked her athletic friend, "What are you laughing at...?"

Rainbow chuckled a little more and answered, saying, "I think I know what she's planning to do..."

But Gilda didn't have any idea what her opponent was planning. "What could you possibly be tryin' to do NOW?!" she asked in a frantic tone. "You don't got anything left to fight me with!!"

"I have plenty left, Gilda." Fluttershy told her sternly. "Thanks to the help and support that my friends have given me, I have everything I need to defeat you and make my school proud!" Raising her hand into the air, she shouted, "I tune Naturia Rosewhip, Level 3, to Naturia Pumpkin, Level 4!!"

Everyone watched in anticipation as Rosewhip lashed out its namesake weapons and began to glow brightly. It then transformed itself into three small lights that flew into the air and came back down as a trio of green rings. The rings surrounded Naturia Pumpkin, causing it glow as well (Level 3 + Level 4 = Level 7).

"Spread those wondrous and beautiful wings and strike down your enemies at the speed of light!" chanted the animal lover with pure confidence in her voice. "Synchro Summon!" And after she said that, her Pumpkin turned itself into four small lights that were soon engulfed in a tower of bright, blinding light. "Appear now! Level 7! Clear Wing Synchro Dragon!"

The pillar of light soon faded away, and out of it came a ferocious dragon. Its body was mostly colored blue, white, and black, and it had large, clear blue wings growing out of its back that almost looked mechanical in appearance. Its large hands each had six, long claws growing out of it, and its long, striped tail had a large spike at the end of it. Its bright eyes let out a shimmering yellow color as it roared into the heavens above (Clear Wing Synchro Dragon: Level 7 / ATK 2500 / DEF 2000).

Needless to say, everyone was shocked by Fluttershy's new Synchro Monster; out of all of the cards they expected to see in her Deck, that was the LAST one they thought that they would see. "Th-that's NUTS!!" said one of the male CHS students. "Where'd Fluttershy get a card THAT rare from?!?"

"Trixie has never seen such a mighty dragon before!" said the blue-skinned girl. She then grumbled and added, "Some people just have ALL the luck..." After saying that, she gave a passing glance towards Sunset, still grumbling a little.

Even the principals seemed to be astonished by the appearance of the extremely rare and powerful monster. "Wh-wh-what is that thing...?!" asked Principal Gruff, almost at a loss for words.

"Sister..." Luna began to ask Celestia, "did... you know that Ms. Fluttershy had that rare card? More importantly, where did it come from??"

The light pink woman thought about it for a while, trying to figure that out. A thought then came to her as she glanced over at Fluttershy's friends, praising her for her awesome move. She then smiled and thought, (I think I might know how Fluttershy obtained that dragon...) She then silently thanked Rainbow Dash and the others for giving their friend the help and support that she needed.

Gilda was dumbstruck by what had just happened. "...You... You've gotta be kidding me...!" she stuttered, still not believing what she was seeing. "How'd this loser get such a rare card?? I've never even seen it before, much less know what it does!" She then growled and added, "That chump totally lucked out!"

Fluttershy, who was anything BUT shy right now, stared straight at her opponent and told her, "Since my Clear Wing's attack power is the same as your monster's, I won't attack just yet. So I'll end my turn."

"Pfft... and here I thought you'd stopped bein' a complete wimp. So much for that." the Griffonstone girl told her mockingly. Even so, she knew that she had to try and get rid of the Synchro Monster. But she still had no idea what it was capable of doing, and Gilda was getting more worried just thinking about it. "I-it's my turn! I draw!!" When she pulled her next card, she let a out a gasp and began to chuckle loudly. "Ha! Perfect!! Just what I needed to end this once and for all!"

Fluttershy braced herself for anything that Gilda had planned, but she kept her brave attitude.

"From my hand," the brown-skinned girl began, "I play two copies of Overlay Regen!!"

"Uh oh..." noted Sunset, getting a little worried. "After that Spell Card is played, it then becomes an Overlay Unit for one of Gilda's Xyz Monsters. But since she's playing two of them..."

"It means that her monster gets back BOTH of its Overlay Units at once!" Applejack said, finishing her friend's comment. "And that's all that it needs t' use its special ability again!"

"Does that mean that Fluttershy is in trouble right now?" asked Rarity.

"Not a chance." Rainbow Dash told them all. "She'll be just fine!"

Pinkie then gasped a little and said, "Hold on! I almost forgot! That card used to be yours, right Dashie?" The cyan teen nodded yes in response.

"Are you saying that Fluttershy has a way of getting out of this after all?" Rarity inquired next.

"You got it, Rarity." Rainbow responded. Pointing towards the soccer field, she then told them, "Just keep an eye on the field and don't blink."

Gilda then told her foe, "Now that my monster has both of its Overlay Units again, I'll wipe out that dragon of yours before you can do anything with it!" (Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon: OLU 0 + 2 = 2) Pointing ahead, she then shouted, "I activate Dark Rebellion's effect once more! I target Clear Wing Synchro Dragon and steal half its attack points!!" Immediately after that, the giant, dark-colored dragon absorbed its Overlay Units (Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon: OLU 2 - 2 = 0), and fired many bolts of lightning at Fluttershy's new monster.

"Fluttershy!! Watch out!!" shouted Scootaloo from the audience.

But the animal-loving teenager told her opponent, "I'm afraid that won't work a second time, Gilda!"

"Say what??" asked the Griffonstone girl, taken completely off-guard.

"I activate the effect of Clear Wing!!" shouted Fluttershy as she raised her hand into the air. In an instant, her Synchro Monster then let out a roar as its wings began to glow bright green, creating a circuit-board like pattern upon them. It then put up a powerful shield of green-colored energy around itself. When Dark Rebellion's energy bolts struck it, the shield deflected them all, and prevented them from causing any damage.

"What the crud just happened?!" asked Gilda, shocked. "Why didn't his effect work?!?"

"I'll explain..." Fluttershy began. "Clear Wing's special ability activates when you target a Level 5 or higher monster on the field with another monster's special ability. And since you targeted Clear Wing itself, who is Level 7, then not only does it negate your monster's effect, but it can also destroy your dragon and take its attack points for one turn!"

"WHAT?!? NO!!!!!" screamed Gilda upon hearing that.

After all of the purple lightning bots were dealt with, Clear Wing deactivated its shield and prepared for its next move. "Now, Clear Wing! Destroy Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon!" ordered Fluttershy. The massive creature roared as it fired large green rays at Gilda's monster, exterminating the menace once and for all (Clear Wing Synchro Dragon: ATK 2500 + 2500 = 5000).

Everyone gasped when they saw that Gilda's so-called un-defeatable monster... was defeated. "What... just happened...?" asked one of the female Griffonstone students, completely flabbergasted.

The three principals were also shocked by what they saw, especially Mr. Gruff. Still in a state of shock, he thought to himself, (That... can't be... No one has ever been able to defeat her Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon before...! Who IS this young lady...??)

Of course, the one that was most shocked by what happened was Gilda herself. For the first time since she showed up to the competition, her attitude had completely changed: No rude comments, no snide smirk on her face; she just stood there in total disbelief, eyes wide with a blank stare, and her mouth not making any sounds whatsoever.

Fluttershy, a bit surprised by Gilda's actions (or rather, inaction), asked her, "Um... Gilda? Are you okay...?"

The once-rude girl let out a long, sad-sounding sigh. She then looked up towards Fluttershy and told her, "...I've got nothing left... So just finish me off and get it overwith..."

For the first time, the pink and yellow girl actually began to feel sorry for her opponent, even though Gilda had given her such a hard time. Still, she knew that she had one more thing to do before the Duel would be over. "It's my turn... I draw." Fluttershy drew her next card and shouted, "Now! Clear Wing Synchro Dragon!! Attack Gilda directly!! Whirlwind Dive Slasher!!!"

Fluttershy's dragon then roared as its wings began to glow again. It then took flight, sheathed itself in a mass of green energy, and hurled itself like a meteor straight towards Gilda. The Griffonstone girl stood her ground, not flinching even once as she took the hit. And with that, the Duel was over (Gilda: LP 2,200 - 2,500 = 0) (WINNER: Fluttershy).

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"The Inter-school Duel is now over!" announced Principal Celestia. "Fluttershy is the winner!"

The entire audience was shocked by the end result of the Duel. Canterlot's students were surprised, but excited that Fluttershy had won the Duel. Griffonstone, however, couldn't believe that their best Duelist had actually lost.

"Way to go, Fluttershy!!" creed Rainbow Dash. "You won!!"

"I knew you'd do it, Fluttershy!!" Pinkie screamed enthusiastically. "I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!!!"

"That was an incredible victory, darling!" Rarity chimed in.

"It may've looked bad every now n' then, but you managed to pull through in the end!" Applejack then told her. "Congratulations!"

"Thank you... thank you everyone..." said the pink and yellow girl, smiling and wiping a happy tear from her eye. "I couldn't have done it without all of your support... So again, thank you very much...!"

"You're welcome, Fluttershy." Sunset told her with a smile of her own. "That's what friends do for each other."

Back on the other side of the soccer field, Gilda still couldn't believe that she had actually lost the Duel. "I... I don't get it..." she muttered to herself. "I didn't do anything different than before...! I dueled just like I always did in the past... And yet... I lost... Why??" The girl then looked ahead and saw Fluttershy's friends congratulating her on her victory. But instead of getting angry about her loss, she actually began to ponder about the scene in front of her. "No one's ever cheered that much for me whenever I won a Duel..." she noted to herself. "At least... not lately..." Thinking about it some more, she then sighed and told herself, "Now I get it... Now I can see how she won..."

The Griffonstone girl then walked over towards her opponent and her friends, which caused them to stop their cheers once they saw her coming. "What do YOU want?" asked Rarity, a bit miffed.

"...I... I just wanna talk." Gilda answered. "Is there a problem with that?"

"Kinda, seein' as how nothin' you've said so far to us or to Fluttershy here has been real nice." Applejack told her with a stern voice. "Maybe y'all are just better off turnin' around and-"

"Applejack, no..." Fluttershy interrupted. "Let her speak."

"Fluttershy? What're ya sayin'?" asked the orange-skinned girl, surprised.

"If she wants to say something to us, she can." the pink and yellow girl replied. "Just because she's been rude to us, that doesn't give us the right to be rude back to her." Applejack sighed, knowing that her friend had a point. Fluttershy then said to Gilda, "Okay... go ahead. Just tell us whatever is on your mind."

The Griffonstone girl paused for a moment, letting out a deep sigh. "...Look... Fluttershy...?" she began, feeling a bit uneasy. "This... this isn't real easy for me t' say this, but... well..." Sighing again, she then finally told her, "I... I'm... sorry..."

The others were surprised when they actually heard the once extremely rude girl actually apologize.

"I'm sorry... about what I said to ya..." Gilda told them. "If it makes ya feel any better, I really didn't mean any of it... I was just frustrated and stuff, and I was just taking it out on you..."

"Being frustrated is one thing." Rarity told her. "Being mean to someone is another."

"I know that..." the brown-skinned girl told her. She then told them, "But... the reason that I was frustrated was because... well, I was kinda jealous of all the support she had during the Duel... No one's ever given me that kind of praise in the past." She then looked over at Rainbow Dash as she continued to speak. "After Dash and I ended things between us... things... hadn't gone so well for me since then..."

"Whad'ya mean?" asked the athletic teen, curious to know what was on her former friend's mind.

"Back before we stopped bein' friends," Gilda continued, "I became so tough, that I thought that that's all I needed to excel in the world... That I didn't need anyone's help to make it out there... So I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that, by bullying them and forcing them to do anything that I wanted them to do. But then I lost you as a friend, Dash..." Sniffling a little, she then told them, "After that... I had virtually nothing left..."

The six girls listened to the Griffonstone student's story carefully. As she spoke to them, they were actually beginning to feel sorry for her, due to her past troubles.

"Dash... when you stuck your neck out for the guy I was roughing up, I felt like you betrayed me by looking out for someone weaker than we were..." Gilda told her ex-friend. "But now I realize that I was the one doing the betraying; both to you and myself. I thought that in order to be powerful, you had crush everyone that stood in your way and force them into respecting you..." Turning over to Fluttershy, she then said to her, "But you're different, Fluttershy..."

"I-I am?" the shy girl asked.

"You're a very strong person, but you didn't use it as an excuse to be cruel to other people... Not like me. And because of that, you got all these friends to support you..." the Griffonstone girl explained. "What I'm saying is that... well, the better person won today. And now I realize that you can be strong and kind at the same time... So again, for what it's worth... I'm sorry..."

Fluttershy thought about Gilda's words for a while. In the end, her kind and forgiving personality could not allow her to be mad at her. Giving her opponent a comforting hug, she then told her, "Apology accepted..." The Griffonstone girl then returned the hug, a tear welling up in her right eye as she did. Fluttershy's friends then agreed that this outcome was probably the best one, and they finally decided to forgive Gilda for her actions as well.

Gilda then looked over at Rainbow Dash and asked her in an uneasy tone, "Say, uh... Dash? I was wonderin'... Do ya think that... well... that we could, y'know... start over...?"

The smile on the cyan girl's face told everyone all that they needed to know. "I wouldn't have it any other way, Gilda." she told her, giving her a comforting hug as well. "To be honest, I was kinda hoping that we could make up and be friends again."

"Same here." the Griffonstone girl told her. "And I promise that I'll be a much better friend this time." Dash and the others smiled, knowing that Gilda was going to change for the better.

Just then, the seven of them heard sounds of someone blubbering behind them. They turned around to see none other than Principal Gruff making those crying sounds, "Oh, Gilda...! That was real beautiful of ya! I've been waitin' a long time to hear ya say all of that!"

Gilda rubbed the back of her head and told him, "Yeah, I can bet that ya have been..." She then apologized to him, saying, "Sorry that it took this long for me to figure that out, Grandpa."

The other six girls gasped when they heard her say that. "Wait a sec," began Applejack, "Griffonstone's Principal is your grandfather?!?"

"Yep." answered the Griffonstone Duelist. "He had to take over when the last principal was forced to retire. In fact, Grandpa here was the guy who taught me how to play Duel Monsters."

"Really? Your grandpa taught you?" asked Rainbow Dash.

"It's not really that unusual, Dashie." Pinkie Pie told her. "Grandpas teaching their grandchildren how to play card games is a lot more common than you might think. In fact, I think it's kind of a tradition, actually."

At that moment, Principal Celestia and Vice Principal Luna walked over to the group to say some things of their own. "Ms. Fluttershy, on behalf of all of us here at Canterlot High School," said Celestia, "my sister and I wish to congratulate you for your amazing victory!"

"Thank you, Principal Celestia." Fluttershy replied with a slight bow. "And thank you both for choosing me to represent the school."

"You're very welcome." Luna replied. She then said to her, "I'm sorry if this experience was frightening or stressful for you..."

"I have to admit... this was probably the scariest thing that I've ever had to be a part of..." the shy girl admitted. She then turned over to her friends and added, "But with the help and support of all of my friends here, I was able to find the courage I needed to go through with it." She then pulled out her Clear Wing Synchro Dragon card, smiling as she stared at it. She then said to the Griffonstone Duelist, "Gilda... thank you for being my opponent. It was an honor to Duel someone as strong as you..."

"Same here, Fluttershy." Gilda told her, shaking her opponent's hand. "You're a tough chick, and I respect ya for it." She then smirked and told her, "But just 'cause we're friends now doesn't mean that I'm gonna forget this loss. I can guarantee that we'll duel each other again someday, and by then, I'll be even tougher than before!"

Fluttershy smiled and told her, "I'd be more than happy to duel you again. And I promise that I'll be stronger, too." The two of them shared a friendly laugh as they cemented their new-found friendship/rivalry.

"Well, Ah'm glad t' see that everythin' all worked out in the end." stated Applejack.

"Yeah, with all of us being friends after everything's all said and done." Sunset chimed in. "I don't think we could've asked for a better outcome than this."

"I most certainly agree, Sunset." Rarity told her.

Gilda's eyes widened a little bit upon hearing the otherworldly girl's name being mentioned. "Wait, hang on: You're Sunset Shimmer?" she then asked her.

"Um... yeah, why?"

"Well, word around Griffonstone is that YOU'RE actually the best Duelist in Canterlot High." Gilda told her.

"Well, I do my best, I suppose." Sunset told her, trying to remain modest. She then asked, "Why did you want to know?"

"I was hoping to, well... ask for your help with something; though if we didn't make up and become friends after all this, I kinda doubt that you would've helped me. If I had I known you were Sunset, I probably would've been a LOT more polite to you and your friends..." the brown-skinned girl told her.

"Eh, don't worry about it. That's all behind us now, so let's just forget it and move on." the red and yellow girl then asked, "What do you need my help with?"

Gilda answered her, saying, "Well, you see... there's some weird stuff going on in Griffonstone; stuff that's even got ME creeped out by it."

"What kind of stuff, exactly?" Rainbow Dash inquired.

"I don't have enough time to tell you all now..." Gilda told them as she looked over at her fellow students, who were all getting ready to leave. "Listen," she then began to inform them, "meet me over at Griffonstone's front entrance tomorrow at noon, and I'll tell ya everything about it. Until then, see ya..." And with that, the no-longer-rude girl left to join the rest of her classmates on the trip back to their own school.

Sunset and her friends were still puzzled by what Gilda had said before leaving. "What do you suppose she was talking about?" asked Rarity.

"Dunno..." Rainbow answered her. "But it sounds pretty serious if she's asking somebody for help; she almost NEVER does that."

Sunset still wasn't sure what Gilda wanted her help with, but she suddenly began to get an unsettling sense of déjà vu. She then clutched onto her key necklace, already having a feeling that things were going to get even more crazy and perilous for her and her friends...

-- To Be Continued...

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