• Published 21st Mar 2018
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Duelists of the Friendship Cup - DrakeyC

Friendship Games is retold, but with less academics and athletics and more card games.

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Patrician of Darkness - Celestia vs Sombra

Duelists of the Friendship Cup

Patrician of Darkness - Celestia vs Sombra

Sunset slowed her motorcycle to a stop in an empty space in Canterlot High’s parking lot, turned her key off, and flipped down the kickstand. She climbed off the bike and looked down at her duel disk. Here we go…

The morning was slightly chilly as Sunset approaching the field behind the school. Celestia and Luna were sitting at a large table with a deck reader and a laptop. Two rows of collapsible metal stands had been set up, one for each school; CHS’s was rapidly filling up. The display boards had been erected from the tennis court, but the dueling field remained beneath the concrete.

“Sunset!” the girl turned her head and saw her five friends waving at her, sitting on a bench beside the tennis court. She waved back before approaching Celestia and Luna.

“Here for registration.” She offered her deck to Luna.

Luna took Sunset’s deck, ran it through the deck reader, and then held the deck back once the cards were scanned. “Standard tournament rules apply, no usage of cards not registered in your deck.”

“I know.”

Celestia smiled. “Good luck, Sunset.”

Sunset paused, and then returned the smile. “Thank you.” She turned and walked up to her friends. Flash was sitting not far away and looked up at her to give her a small nod.

“Crystal Prep’s duelists are due here any second,” Rainbow said. “Feeling confident?”

“Yes… no. Maybe?” Sunset scrunched her face. “There’s only so much that practice and preparation can do before the real thing, you know?”

Rarity nodded. “Indeed, which is why there’s no further use fretting over such things. We’ve done our best to prepare, now we duel our best and see how we do.”

Sunset began to respond when Rainbow stood up and pointed. “Here they come!”

The students of Canterlot High turned their heads.

A black limousine turned the corner down the street and drove towards the school. Behind it came a school bus. The limo turned into the parking lot and stopped with the back door aligned with the stairs leading down to the field. The school bus stopped on the roadside and opened its doors.

Students clad in purple and blue uniforms filed off the bus and walked to the empty stands opposite of the CHS students and sat down. More than a few dirty looks and a couple obscene gestures passed between the opposing student bodies. Sunset saw a few of the Crystal Prep students glance at her and her friends, but no remarks or gestures were directed at them. It was then that she noticed something odd about each of them.

“What kind of duel disks are those?” Sunset asked. “They don’t have card trays.”

“Crystal Prep gets funding grants from all kinds of dueling institutions,” Rarity replied. “Their duel disks are the most advanced consumer models on the market. They use cutting edge hard light hologram technology to project holographic card trays.”

“Wow.” Sunset looked down at her own disc, red and orange, the card tray curled up in a horseshoe shape around the main body with her deck and touchscreen. And to think this was advanced technology to me when I first came here.

Once all of Crystal Prep’s students were seated, the door to the limo swung open. Sunset turned her head.

A tall man with pale grey skin in a dark grey suit and a red ruffled shirt stood out of the limo. He took a moment to adjust his jacket and then turned to offer a hand to a lavender-skinned woman stepping out behind him. She took the hand and stood up, a silver briefcase in her other hand. Pale blue hair fell over her shoulders and a dark blue suit. She smoothed out her pink pencil skirt and smiled at the man, then stood beside him.

Now more students came from the limo. The first was an older boy with blue hair and pale skin. Sunset thought he looked vaguely familiar but couldn’t place him. Behind him came five more Crystal Prep duelists, all girls.

When the sixth girl stepped out of the limo and stood up, Sunset’s breath caught in her throat.

It can’t be.

Dark purple hair with a streak of pink and purple. Lavender skin. Purple eyes.

“Is anyone else seein’ what I’m seein’?” Applejack whispered. Sunset nodded.

The seven students walked down the field, the man and woman following them. They stood in a line in front of another bench and took their seats, the girl that looked like Twilight Sparkle on the end. Sunset continued to stare in spite of herself. The girl noticed and turned her head to stare back, her eyes narrow.

The mutual look was broken when the man stopped at the bottom of the stairs and stood between them, his hands clasped behind his back.

“Principal Sombra, Vice-Principal Hope.” Celestia approached him and extended a hand. “Welcome back to Canterlot High.”

“Thank you, Principal Celestia, Vice-Principal Luna.” Sombra took the offered hand and shook it twice, then turned it and bowed to briefly press his lips to the back of it. “You are looking well.”

“Thank you, and you as well.” Celestia held her hand out towards Sunset and her friends. “Allow me to introduce our chosen duelists for this year. This is Flash Sentry, Rainbow Dash, Rarity Belle, Fluttershy Breeze, Jacklyn Apple, Pinkamena Pie, and Sunset Shimmer.”

Sombra looked down at Sunset. She felt a chill go down her spin as his eyes locked on hers.

“So, this is the Sunset Shimmer I’ve heard so much about.” Sombra turned his full body towards her, his hand returning to behind his back. “I’m pleased to see you finally deigned to compete in the Friendship Cup. I’ve wondered what Canterlot High’s long-running champion can offer our students in terms of competition, and now here you are.”

Sunset swallowed heavily. “I… just wanted to represent my school.” Any confidence she had drained away the moment Sombra chuckled softly.

“Of course. That is why we are all here, is it not?” Sombra turned away and Sunset felt like collapsing to the grass. He extended a hand over the row of Crystal Prep duelists. “Allow me to introduce our duelists. Our current champion and 1st ranked duelist in the school, Shining Armor. Accompanying him, Sour Sweet, Sunny Flare, Indigo Zap, Sugarcoat, Lemon Zest, and Twilight Sparkle.”

This world’s Twilight… Sunset bit her lip. What were the cosmic odds that she would be here, today, on the opposite side of the tournament. Sunset leaned back to look at the other Twilight again. Her hair was tied up in a bun and she wore glasses and a Crystal Prep uniform. But it was Twilight Sparkle. Is that what Celestia meant by getting in contact with her? Did she know she would be here?

“Shall we?” Celestia turned her body to indicate the field.

“Quite.” Sombra nodded and followed her, Luna and Hope behind them. The four walked up to the table Celestia had set up. Hope set the briefcase in her hand down on it, then sat down behind it next to Luna. Celestia picked up a microphone from the table.

“Students of Canterlot High and Crystal Prep Academy, welcome to the 25th annual Friendship Cup!” She paused to allow the students to cheer before continuing. “For twenty-five years, this cross-school tournament has been held in the spirit of friendly competition, to unite our schools in their love for the game of Duel Monsters and their drive to better themselves and be the best.

“For those who have not attended the tournament before, I will briefly explain the rules. Duelists will be randomly matched and hold a single-elimination duel. We will hold four duels today and three tomorrow. In the event of a tied score after all seven duels have been held, an eighth tie-breaker duel will be held with each school allowed to choose their duelist secretly.”

Celestia turned her head. “And now I will hand the microphone over to Principal Sombra.”

Sombra took the offered microphone and cleared his throat before raising it. “Good morning, students and duelists of Canterlot High. Today, your chosen representatives will face the seven best duelists that Crystal Prep Academy can offer. Disregard your school’s history in this tournament or our school’s reputation. As each pack is a chance to acquire a coveted rare card, and each duel is a new opportunity to better one’s understanding of the game, so is this tournament yours to lose, or win, if you are good enough. There can be no doubts or hesitation moving forward. There is only what is to come, and how we each, as schools and as individuals, handle it.

“But for now, before we begin, there is another matter. Being that this is the 25th year of the Friendship Cup, to mark this auspicious occasion, Principal Celestia and I have decided to do something different.” Sombra placed the microphone back on its stand on the table.

The watching students began to murmur as Celestia reached under the table, and Sombra walked up to the silver briefcase Hope had placed down. Sunset peered closer as Sombra opened it and reached inside. He withdrew a Crystal Prep duel disk, colored dark grey with red details, and slid it on his wrist. Celestia stood from the table with a gold and white disk on her arm.

“Oh boy,” Fluttershy whispered. The two schools cheered loudly as the two principals walked out onto the grass and turned to face each other.

“An exhibition duel,” Sunset said.

The display boards lit up with Celestia and Sombra’s portraits and field displays. Celestia raised her arm and turned on her duel disk, the card tray’s three parts sliding together and extending out. Sombra lifted his arm in front of him, a holographic tray of red light projecting from the outer edge of his disk.

“This duel will use the Expert ruleset of the tournament, but will have no impact on tournament standings,” Hope announced on the microphone. “Without further ado, begin the duel!”

Once more the schools cheered. The word ‘DUEL’ flashed on the display board in large letters before sliding to either side.

-Celestia Life Points: 8000-

-Sombra Life Points: 8000-

Celestia’s portrait lit up. “The first turn is mine.” Celestia picked up her opening five cards and spread them out. She smiled and slid one of them into her duel disk. “I activate the Spell card ‘Cards From The Sky’. I banish ‘Harvest Angel of Wisdom’ from my hand in order to draw two cards, but I’m forbidden from Special Summoning this turn.”

Celestia looked at her new cards and held one of them out. “I activate the Continuous Spell Card ‘The Sanctum of Parshath’.” A large marble temple sparkled into place behind Celestia, a large flight of stairs leading up to an altar depicting a winged warrior with a shield and sword.

“With my Spell in play, all of my Fairy-type monsters gain 300 attack points, and my face-down Spell and Trap cards cannot be targeted or destroyed by card effects. Next, I summon ‘Shining Angel’ in attack mode.” A beam of light shined down in front of Celestia. An angel in a white robe with large wings descended in front of her, crossing his arms (1400/800 → 1700/1100). “I then set one card and end my turn.”

Sombra’s duel disk beeped and ejected a card. He picked it up and slid it into his hand, and looked over his array. After several seconds of silence he raised his eyes to Celestia. “I activate the Continuous Spell card ‘Dark Contract with the Gate’.” A swirling dark portal appeared on the ground in front of Sombra. A black claw emerged from it, a scroll sealed with black wax held in its grasp. The wax broke open and the scroll unfurled to reveal glowing red scripture.

“This card affords me the right to add a ‘D/D’ monster from my deck to my hand each turn. In exchange for this benefit, I will take 1000 points of damage during each of my standby phases.” A card slid out of his deck. “I will invoke this power now, and add to my hand ‘D/D Swirl Slime’.”

“D/D?” Sunset asked.

“Different Dimension monsters,” Fluttershy whispered.

“They’re supposed to be really tough,” Applejack said. “But as Ah hear it, they’re pretty pricey to try and put together a deck of them.”

“Not that the head of Crystal Prep cares about money,” Sunset finished. The others just nodded.

Sombra pulled two cards from his hand. “I now activate the effect of D/D Swirl Slime. Using cards in my hand including Swirl Slime itself, I conduct a Fusion Summon! I fuse together D/D Swirl Slime and ‘D/D Lilith’!” A swirling vortex appeared behind Sombra. A green and red woman with a vine-like body, and a green slime with green claws, appeared before the vortex and were drawn into it. Sombra clasped his hands together and bowed his head, his eyes closed. “Demon of slime and demon of petals, combine your powers and invoke the form of a blazing demon king!” Sombra raised his head and opened his eyes. “Fusion Summon! Awaken, Level 6, ‘D/D/D Flame King Genghis’!”

A fireball shot out of the fusion vortex onto Sombra’s field. The flames burned away to reveal a knight in deep purple and blue armor, a massive red shield and sword in his hands. He stood up tall and snapped his sword out to the side, flames bursting around it (2000/1500).

Sombra lifted a card in his hand and thrust it onto his card tray. “I now summon ‘D/D Berfomet’.” A demonic humanoid yellow eagle rose from a portal in front of Sombra, eyes glowing red (1400/1800). “I then activate the effect of D/D Lamia in my hand. By sending my Dark Contract with the Gate to the Graveyard, I can Special Summon Lamia, but I must remove her from the game when she leaves the field.”

The hand in front of Sombra lowered into the ground. Above it a portal opened and a woman with the body of a red and blue snake slithered out, coiling in front of him (100/1900). “I activate the effect of D/D Berfomet. Once per turn I can select another D/D monster on my field, and change its level to anything I wish between 1 and 8. I change D/D Lamia to Level 3.” Lamia lit up with red light.

Sombra held his hand towards Lamia. “I feel it is imperative that at this time, I call attention to the fact that D/D Lamia is a Tuner monster. With that known, I tune my Level 4 D/D Berfomet with my Level 3 D/D Lamia!”

“Oh no!” Pinkie cried.The students of CHS booed.

Berfomet turned into four clusters of light while Lamia burst into three green rings and floated to encircle the clusters of light. The rings began to rotate, and a pillar of light shot through them.

Sombra spread his hands out. “Demon of feathers and demon of scales, align your powers and invoke the form of a storming demon king!” He brought his arms together and drew the card from his duel disk as it ejected. “Synchro Summon! Arise, Level 7, ‘D/D/D Gust King Alexander’!”

A knight in pale grey armor with a green cape emerged from the pillar of light, a long sword in his hand. Blue lights on his armor lit up as he held his sword up and sent a gale of wind up into the air (2500/2000).

“The effect of Flame King Genghis activates. Since I just Special Summoned a D/D monster, I can Special Summon a D/D monster in the Graveyard. I choose D/D Lilith.”

Genghis pointed its sword out and fired a bolt of red energy at the ground, creating a ring of fire. A woman with her lower body trailing into a mass of green vines spiraled up from the flame, arms crossed (100/2100).

“Reviving Lilith activates her effect, returning D/D Swirl Slime to my hand. Further, it so happens that my Gust King Alexander also has an effect, very similar to Genghis’. Since I summoned a D/D monster, I can revive a Level 4 or lower D/D monster. Return to me, D/D Berfomet.” Alexander held up its sword and conjured a whirlwind above it. Berfomet flew out and landed beside it.

“And now, I overlay my D/D Lilith and D/D Berfomet. Using my two Level 4 monsters, I construct the overlay network!”

Rarity’s jaw dropped. “Impossible…”

“That’s a heck of a combo,” Applejack muttered.

Sunset just stared. Around her the boos and gasps of the Canterlot High student body had given way to stunned silence.

The two monsters turned transparent and slid together, orbs of blue light emerging from within to orbit around them. Sombra held a hand out in front of him. “Demon of petals and demon of feathers, unite your powers and invoke the form of a crashing demon king!” He clenched his fist and brought it back. “Xyz Summon! Come forth, Rank 4, ‘D/D/D Wave King Caesar!” The light burst out in a flash of blue. A knight in thick blue and purple armor stomped out, a massive sword in its hand (2400/1200).

Celestia gaped at the three monsters standing in front of Sombra. “I… I’ve never seen such skill. Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz in one deck? On your first turn?”

Sombra smiled. “You see? This is why Crystal Prep wins year after year after year. Because we always strive for an absolute victory. Nothing less will satisfy us, and so we duel with nothing less than our absolute best. Behold the pinnacle of our dueling!” Crystal Prep’s students cheered as Sombra pointed across the field. “D/D/D Flame King Genghis, attack!” Genghis swung its flaming sword and sent a wave of fire across the field.

Celestia looked away as Shining Angel exploded. She turned her head back and tapped her duel disk’s screen. “When Shining Angel is destroyed in battle, its effect activates, summoning a Light monster with 1500 or fewer points from the deck in attack mode. I call forth ‘Nova Summoner’!” A fairy in the shape of a glowing orange and green ring with white rings appeared in front of Celestia (1400/800 → 1700/1100).

“It will not be here long. D/D/D Gust King Alexander, destroy it!”

Alexander twirled its sword and sent a slicing blast of wind across the field. Nova Summoner split into three parts and exploded.

“Nova Summoner’s effect activates now. I summon a second Nova Summoner, in defense position!”

“And it will meet the same fate as the first. D/D/D Wave King Caesar, attack!”

Caesar slammed its sword into the ground and sent a wave of water out. Nova Summoner tumbled back and shattered as the wave hit it.

-Celestia Life Points: 6900-

Celestia smiled. “Now I invoke the true power of Nova Summoner! While my Sanctum of Parshath is on the field, I can treat it as the Field Spell ‘The Sanctuary in the Sky’. And since that Field is in play, Nova Summoner allows me to summon ‘Airknight Parshath’!”

A glowing portal appeared behind Celestia. A centaur in shining gold and blue armor leapt out, ornamental wings wrapped around his torso. A shield shaped like four outstretched wings was mounted on his left wrist and a sword held in his right hand (1900/1400 → 2200/1700).

“Hmph. Not bad.” Sombra folded his arms. “I end my turn. It is your move, Celestia.”

“Thank you.” Celestia drew. “I’ll start my turn with the Trap card ‘Reckless Greed’. I can now draw two cards, but I must skip my Draw Phase for my next two turns.”

Celestia held up one of her new cards. “I activate the Spell card ‘Trade-In’. I discard the Level 8 ‘Lightray Gearfried’ from my hand, and then draw two cards. Then I summon ‘Lightray Grepher’.”

A man in a white and blue uniform stepped onto Celestia’s field from a portal, a slim sword in his hand (1700/1600).

“I activate Grepher’s effect, and discard a Light monster from my hand to banish a Light monster from my deck. I discard ‘Freya, Spirit of Victory’ and banish ‘Meltiel, Sage of the Sky’. And now, I offer my Airknight Parshath as a tribute, to Special Summon ‘Neo-Parshath, the Sky Paladin’!”

A flurry of white feathers burst around the knight and spiralled around it and up into the air. With a flash of light, the feathers scattered, revealing a larger knight with the lower part of its body tapering off into large white wings. An even longer sword and a reinforced shield were mounted on its arms, and a ring of gold and blue metal circled the air behind it (2300/2000 → 2600/2300).

“My Graveyard currently contains Shining Angel, Nova Summoner, Freya the Spirit of Victory, Lightray Gearfried, and Airknight Parshath. So the stage is set for these.” Celestia smiled and held up the two cards in her hand. “Since I have five Light monsters of different names in the Graveyard, I Special Summon ‘Lightray Diabolos’ and ‘Lightray Daedalus’!”

The ground shook as two large portals of light appeared behind Celestia. From one of them came a large white and blue serpent, coiling through the air like water before coming to a rest (2600/1500). The second portal unleashed a massive silver dragon with blue wings, light coursing along silver and gold armor on its limbs (2800/1000).

The crowd of Canterlot High applauded wildly. Rainbow Dash pumped her fist “Yeah, you show ‘em!”

Applejack nodded. “She’s got three hefty monsters in play, and Sombra’s got nothin’ face-down to protect his.”

Sunset turned her attention to Celestia’s opponent. Sombra’s face was calm and impassive as he watched Celestia thrust out her hand.

“Lightray Diabolos, attack Wave King Caesar!” Diabolos opened its mouth and summoned a field of light orbs to its jaws.

Sombra reached down to tap a prompt on his duel disk screen. One of the blue orbs circling Caesar sparked and dispersed.

Diabolos’ attack fired, a large orb of pure light. It struck Caesar and the monster exploded into blue energy.

-Sombra Life Points: 7600-

Sombra reached to his deck. “Since Wave King Caesar has been destroyed, I can add a Dark Contract card from my deck to my hand. I will take ‘Dark Contract with the Swamp King’.”

Celestia nodded. “As you wish. As for me, next is Lightray Daedalus! Attack Gust King Alexander.” Daedalus snapped its mouth forward and fired a ray of light across the field. Sombra didn’t even flinch as Alexander was pierced and exploded.

-Sombra Life Points: 7500-

“And then, Neo-Parshath the Sky Paladin! Destroy Genghis!” Neo-Parshath floated across the field in a shower of feathers, arm raised. The sword descended and cleaved through Genghis, its sword falling to the ground as the demon bisected and shattered.

-Sombra Life Points: 6900-

“The effect of Flame King Genghis activates when you destroyed it, letting me return the Dark Contract with the Gate that’s in my Graveyard to my hand.” Sombra calmly took his card as it ejected.

“The effect of Neo-Parshath activates since it dealt damage to you, letting me draw a card. And then, I have one more attack, from Lightray Grepher!” Grepher charged and swung its sword at Sombra. He pulled back with a small grunt as the holographic blade went through his body.

-Sombra Life Points: 5200-

“Also, now that your Life Points are lower than mine, the effect of Neo-Parshath is active. It gains attack points equal to the difference in our Life Points.” Neo-Parshath hummed as the ring circling it glowed gold (2600 → 4300). Celestia looked at her drawn card and slipped it into her duel disk. “I set one card and end my turn.”

Three pillars of light in blue, red, and green colors erupted in front of Sombra. Celestia inhaled sharply. “What?”

Sombra held up his arm, the Graveyard slot on his duel disk glowing. “Did I forget to announce I had used Wave King Caesar’s special ability when you declared your attack upon him? My apologies, how rude of me. Permit me to explain now.”

The three pillars of light began to pulse as he spoke. “By detaching one of Caesar’s Xyz materials, I set a condition on the field where, at the end of your battle phase, all of my monsters that have been destroyed this turn can return to the field. Observe.” The three pillars faded, revealing Sombra’s three monsters glowing before him.

Celestia grit her teeth. “I thought I had destroyed them.”

“You did, and with a well-executed move on your part, Celestia.” Sombra drew his card. “I begin my turn, and there is the matter of my bargain to resolve.” The monsters in front of Sombra lit up red. “The effect of Wave King Caesar demands offering, in the form of 1000 Life Points for each monster its effect restored. A small and worthwhile sacrifice.” He closed his eyes and grunted as sparks flew around him.

-Sombra Life Points: 2200-

Celestia frowned. “With your Life Points so low, Neo-Parshath yet again gains attack points equal to the difference in our points.” Neo-Parshath glowed and grew larger, the feathers on its wings spreading out (7300).

Sombra folded his cards into his hand and gave a short clap. “I am sincerely impressed by the technique you’ve shown today, Celestia. You’ve proven yourself to be a duelist worthy of this school. I truly mean it when I say that you should feel no shame for what is about to happen.” Sombra drew his hand back and placed two cards on his duel disk.

“I activate the Continuous Spell cards ‘Dark Contract with the Swamp King’ and Dark Contract with the Gate.” Two more contracts rose in front of Sombra, clutched by demonic hands. “I invoke the power of Dark Contract with the Gate, and add to my hand from my deck ‘D/D Nighthowl’.”

Sombra thrust his hand out. “And next, I invoke the power of Dark Contract with the Swamp King! Once per turn, I can conduct a Fusion Summon! I fuse together D/D/D Flame King Genghis and D/D/D Wave King Caesar!” The two demons were drawn into a vortex in front of Sombra.

“Demon of flame and demon of tides, combine your powers and invoke the form of an indomitable blazing demon king!” Sombra’s card ejected from the far end of his duel disk, purple light shining from it. “Fusion Summon! Awaken, Level 8, ‘D/D/D Flame High King Genghis’!”

The vortex flared out a giant plume of flame, a shadowed form within. The flames swirled around a fixed point and were drawn into the blade of a gigantic orange sword, held by a towering demon in black armor set with red and blue bands. Three other hands held a pair of daggers and a large red shield. The demon crossed its four armaments together and sent a wave of red light over the field (2800/2400).

“I summon ‘D/D Nighthowl’ and activate its effect to revive a D/D monster in the Graveyard. I choose D/D Berfomet.” A large pair of jaws with a small pair of yellow eyes on the top appeared in front of Sombra (300/600). It turned and fired a ray of red light at the ground, D/D Berfomet rising from the earth.

“Seeing as my D/D Nighthowl is a Tuner monster, I shall now Tune my Level 7 D/D/D Gust King Alexander with my Level 3 D/D Nighthowl!” Nighthowl turned into three rings of green energy that rotated around Alexander, a pillar of light rising to obscure it.

“Demon of fangs and demon of gales, align your powers and invoke the form of an indomitable storming demon king!” Sombra smirked. “Synchro Summon! Arise, Level 10, ‘D/D/D Gust High King Alexander’!” Alexander’s sword sliced through the light, revealing a massive green blade held by a demon in shining silver armor, a large green cape fluttering behind it (3000/2500).

“Since I have summoned a D/D monster, I activate the effect of Flame High King Genghis to Special Summon a D/D monster in the Graveyard. I revive my original D/D/D Flame King Genghis.” Sombra held a card out, pointing it at Berfomet. “I activate the Spell card ‘D/D Level Modulation’. I can select two D/D monsters I control with Levels, and make them equal. I will raise the Level of D/D Berfomet to match Genghis, Level 6. With that done, I overlay my D/D Berfomet and D/D/D Flame King Genghis. Using my two Level 6 monsters, I construct the overlay network!” The two slid together as blobs of blue energy.

“Demon of feathers and demon of flame, unite your powers and invoke the form of an indomitable crashing demon king!” Sombra thrust his hand into the air. “Xyz Summon! Come forth, Rank 6, ‘D/D/D Wave High King Caesar!” The blob of blue burst to reveal a larger, bulkier demon in dark purple armor, a massive club with yellow spikes swung over its shoulder (2800/1800).

Fluttershy whimpered. “He’s unstoppable…”

Rarity bit her lip. “How can one deck achieve such levels of power with so few resources? His hand is still full of unused cards!”

Sunset looked at Sombra’s hand to confirm Rarity’s observation, and let out a small growl when she did. He’s not dueling at his full power. He’s toying with her.

“Now that I am done with my summonings for the moment, I will invoke the powers of D/D/D Gust High King Alexander. Since I control at least three ‘D/D/D’ monsters, Alexander gains an additional three thousand attack points!” Alexander’s cape blew out behind it. An orb of wind encircled it and was drawn into its sword, the green metal shining (3000 → 6000).

Sombra looked up at the towering form of Neo-Parshath. “Your Neo-Parshath has gained considerable power from the difference in our Life Points. But it is only one card. Your other monsters are far more vulnerable!” Sombra pointed across the field. “D/D/D Flame High King Genghis, attack Lightray Grepher!” Genghis held up its sword and ignited it in flame, then ran forward.

Celestia reached to her duel disk. “Since you just declared an attack, I activate ‘Lumenize’!” The card moved in front of Lightray Grepher and flipped up. “My Trap card negates your attack, and now Lightray Grepher—”

“A Trap card, you say?” Sombra interrupted. “I will save you time explaining your card’s effect, by explaining my own. Once per turn, Flame High King Genghis allows me to negate and destroy a Spell or Trap card!” Genghis slashed down, cutting through the Trap and Grepher standing behind it. Celestia looked away as Grepher exploded in a burst of fire.

-Celestia Life Points: 5800-

“Next, Wave High King Caesar, attack Lightray Daedalus!” Caesar charged forward and jumped, gripping its club with both hands. It brought it down on Daedalus’ head. The serpent convulsed and shattered into shards.

-Celestia Life Points: 5600-

“And finally, Gust High King Alexander, strike down Lightray Diabolos!” Alexander rose up into the air and summoned wind into its sword. It descended in a typhoon, its sword held out. The blade struck Lightray Diabolos in the head and burst out the bottom, wind exploding from the wound. Diabolos lit up in gold light and exploded.

-Celestia Life Points: 2400-

“I set one card and end my turn.”

Celestia’s portrait on the display board lit up to indicate her turn. She looked down at her deck.

Sombra reached to his duel disk. “Now that your turn has begun, I will activate my Trap card ‘Contract Laundering’. This allows me to dispose of the two Dark Contracts on my field, and for each of them I regain one thousand Life Points and draw a card.” The demonic hands in front of Sombra descended into the ground, the contracts in their hands burning away.

-Sombra Life Points: 4200-

Sombra looked up at Celestia’s field. “With your Life Points now lower than mine, your Neo-Parshath gains no further power but that afforded by your Spell card.” Neo-Parshath shrank down behind Celestia, its golden aura dimming (2600).

“You’re not out, yet!” Rainbow called, cupping her hands to her mouth. “You’ve still got a good monster out! You can turn this around!”

“No, she can’t.”

Rainbow and the group turned their heads. Sunset clenched her hands on her tights. She closed her eyes and shook her head. “It’s over.”

“Well? Will you not draw to begin your turn?” Sombra pressed a hand to his forehead and scoffed. “My apologies, how foolish of me to forget, the effect of Reckless Greed forbids you from drawing a card for two turns. Such a shame seeing as your hand is empty right now. An aptly named card indeed.”

Celestia swallowed and lowered her arm. “I end my turn.”

“You’ll not even switch your monster to defense? As you wish, then. It will save me time declaring superfluous attack commands.” Sombra’s eyes flashed as he pointed over the field. “D/D/D Gust High King Alexander, destroy Neo-Parshath the Sky Paladin!”

Alexander ran forward and jabbed its sword, a slicing spear of wind shooting out from it. Neo-Parshath raised its shield in front of it. The spear of wind tore through the shield and engulfed the angel, its wings snapping back. Celestia closed her eyes as it exploded in a flare of light, feathers falling over her.

-Celestia Life Points: 0-

Sombra’s portrait on the display grew larger to fill it, encompassing Celestia’s. The holograms of his monsters faded. He gathered his cards from his duel disk and turned it off. “That was invigorating.” He put a hand to his chest and bowed. “Thank you for the duel, Celestia.”

Celestia said nothing, standing still with her eyes closed. She took a deep breath and then reached down to pick up her cards from her disk.

The silence was broken by the cheers and whistles of Crystal Prep’s audience. Sombra nodded in their direction before heading to the table. On the other stands, Canterlot High still stared.

Sunset watched Sombra calmly unstrap his duel disk and place it back in the briefcase on the table.

Is that the kind of duelist I’ll have to face in this tournament?

Movement caught Sunset’s eye. She looked over at the bench at Crystal Prep’s seven duelists. Only six of them were sitting, and one was standing and applauding.

If Sunset didn’t know any better, she would think she saw satisfaction in Twilight Sparkle’s eyes.

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