• Published 16th Feb 2019
  • 588 Views, 71 Comments

Equestria Girls: Duel Monsters - Night-Quill



Twilight Sparkle's crown, the Element of Magic, has been stolen. She must now pursue the wayward Sunset Shimmer into a new world. A world where a dark magic lurks beneath the notice of its inhabitants, within a most peculiar game unlike any other...

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Duel #7: To Win the Crown: Twilight's Gauntlet

Snips’ scream of defeat continued on until it petered out into a pathetic throaty squeal, looking like he’d frozen in place in his cowering posture assumed on Thunder Unicorn’s game ending attack. Snails idly walked up to his partner in crime, staring at him in his absent manner, proceeding to prod the buck-toothed boy, to which there was no response.

From the bleachers, Twilight smiled triumphantly at the display between Pinkie and Fluttershy, crossing her arms in content when she observed Pinkie bounce over to Fluttershy to hug her.

That’s four of them mended,” she thought. Now all that remains is for Applejack to patch things up with Rainbow.

I must say, the mental voice of Priestess resounded in her mind, spotting the spirit seated just a few rows above hers, her long legs stretched over two, “you take to dilemmas at an astounding level of adaptability. First you reunited the two broken lovers by calling out to their shared emotions with the one card treasured by the both of them. And now, you got the distrusting pink one to accept the aid of the shy one.

Twilight glanced over at the spirit, presenting a small, somewhat devious smile, “I’ve had my share of dilemmas to conquer back home just the same with my friends. Here it’s all the same as in my home. These five, they will always be stronger together than apart, just as I’m stronger with my friends.

And I believe they will be all the stronger with you as their friend as well,” Priestess nodding approvingly. “If you permit me; I can see why you are deemed worthy as a Princess.

It’s not something I’m entirely certain about, but… Thank you.

“Uh, Twilight? You’re spacing out again,” Spike’s paw prodded at Twilight’s leg.

Twilight turned to Spike, “Sorry, Spike. What is it?”

Spike stared up at her with a look of worry, “Is everything okay? I’ve seen you just stare at nothing at random moments today. Did you get enough sleep last night, or what?”

Twilight looked back apologetically, “I’m sorry. I-”

“Heeey Twilight!” Pinkie’s sporadically shouted, having appeared sitting right next to Twilight on the bleachers.

Twilight and Spike both yelped from the spontaneity incarnate that was Pinkie Pie.

“Sorry. You just seemed very into talking with your dog,” the pink girl grinned.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” Fluttershy interjected, “I talk to my pets all the time.”

“Oh, right. Uh, congratulations on winning,” Twilight smiled back awkwardly. “I see you two are now at least on speaking terms at least.”

Pinkie sputtered her lips, “Well duh. It’s not like we just weren’t forced to co-operate together in a high-stakes card game with all my hard work on the line.”

A pang of guilt struck Twilight, sending a shudder racing down her spine at the probability of what might have happened should Snips and Snails emerged the victors. It may as well have proven a possibility at the start. Although, Twilight did have a valid counter-argument;

“I’m sorry I jeopardized your work, truly,” Twilight replied, looking ashamedly at Pinkie. “I just didn’t know what else I could have done since Fluttershy asked me to help her. But seeing as the two of you decided to work together, despite whatever grievances there might be between you two, you overcame the challenge before you.”

It was almost the truth. Almost. Though Snips’ lockdown had ostensibly removed Pinkie’s contributions from the duel for an extended number of turns leaving Snails free to destroy Fluttershy’s deck, it was also due to their inability to effectively work in synch that caused their downfall. With Snips’ field spell leaving a potentially stronger monster on Snails’ field vulnerable which allowed Pinkie to rebound, added with Fluttershy using an opportunity to make the end a more straightforward power bout.

“I don’t really have, well, any grievances with Pinkie, just to be clear,” Fluttershy remarked.

Twilight responded with an understanding nod towards Fluttershy, crossing a leg over her knee, “So, Pinkie; would you be willing to share with us more specifically what happened between you and Fluttershy?”

At Twilight’s urging, Fluttershy joined the two on the bleachers. Pinkie, in the meantime, proceeded to yank on her front tuft of hair, accompanied by the odd sound of rubber stretching before releasing it with an elastic snap. In response a phone puffed out of her messy pink head, complete with a resonant ‘ding’, which landed on her awaiting palm.

“Well, when I said that Fluttershy called off my plans for the animal shelter adoption extravaganza, patent pending, she sent me this e-mail,” Pinkie stated. After a little while of searching, she presented Twilight and Fluttershy her smartphone (complete with a pink casing, to no-one’s surprise), showing them a message. “But now I’m just confused…”

Twilight squinted her eyes at the small text on the screen, when, due to years of self-imposed perusal of fine print, she spotted something off, “‘Flutteryshy’?” she asked.

“What?” asked Fluttershy, trying to peer at the screen.

“You e-mail address; ‘flutteryshy, all lower case, at B-mail dot com,’” Twilight replied.

“That’s not my e-mail: It’s just ‘fluttershy’, one word, at B-mail dot com,” she cleared.

“Wait, what?” Pinkie asked, taking her phone back, looking down at the sender’s e-mail with squinted eyes. Upon realization, Pinkie exhibited an uncomfortable, sheepish smile, as she inserted the device back into her hair. “Boy is my face red…” she muttered, tapping her index fingers together, chuckling awkwardly.

“It’s always wise to triple check the spelling,” Twilight remarked, though in retrospect she thought it might have come off slightly smug. “Sorry…”

Pinkie shook her head, looking forlorn. She leaned forward, bracing her forearms against her thighs. She sighed, “Two years Pinkie. Two years of being a grade-A meanie, and at Fluttershy of all people…”

Twilight looked from Pinkie to Fluttershy, whom stood up to move and sit next to Pinkie. She put a comforting arm around the pink girl’s shoulders, “It’s okay, Pinkie. Though I at the very least wish you’d have spoken to me first.”

Pinkie returned the physical gesture, seeming slightly less downtrodden, “Yea, I really should have. It’s been kinda lonely these past two, well, technically three school years. And don’t get me started on that one time I had it real bad where I threw a party for myself. I mean Gummy’s great company and all, and Boulder is a real riot, especially when Maud’s around, but, no joke, one time I was talking to a bag of flour.”

Twilight could not help but shudder, thinking back to her Pinkie’s fall into temporary insanity shortly before the time of the Grand Galloping Gala.

Pinkie looked at Fluttershy with a hopeful expression, “You forgive me for being a rotten silly-billy?”

“Of course, I forgive you,” Fluttershy replied, the two of them hugging each other.

“Though there’s just one thing…” Pinkie stated in the midst of the hug. “Who is ‘Flutteryshy’?”

The two of them separated, Pinkie scratching at her chin in though as Fluttershy answered, “Well, we’re not a hundred percent certain, but we did have a debate over it possibly being Sun-”

Pinkie’s head perked up in realization, “Quick! Fluttershy! Are you absolutely certain you don’t have an evil doppelganger?!”

Fluttershy looked at Pinkie with pursed lips, “Pardon?”

“It’s like in this one manga I read… Well, not so much ‘read’, since shonens are basically the same thing, just ‘kaboom, kaboom, kaboom’ from start to finish, but there was this character who looked exactly the same as the main protagonist who made it his life’s work to take the place of the protagonist as part of his evil plans…” Pinkie paused, humming in thought, “… Or it could’ve just been a troll.”

They have trolls in this reality? Twilight wondered, listening to Pinkie’s ramble.

“Then again, why would a troll specifically go after me, let alone know exactly what I was gonna do, but…”

“Well, actually, it’s more than likely it’s someone from school,” Fluttershy chimed in, smiling awkwardly, Twilight thinking as if she’d seen a massive droplet appear on the side of her face.

Pinkie shrugged, “That was my third guess. The question is…” her eyes narrowed at nothing in particular, “who is it…?” she slowly turned to look at Twilight.

Twilight held up her hands indignantly, “What?! It wasn’t me, I-” she suddenly found Pinkie’s arm around her shoulders and tugged against Pinkie, whose sunny smile had returned to her visage.

“Awh, I’m just joshing ya!” she guffawed. “You just arrived here, the awkward, mysterious girl righting wrongs… And your little dog too.”

“I, um, I’m wholeheartedly of the stance that it might have been Sunset Shimmer,” Fluttershy managed to finish before any further interruptions.

Pinkie rolled her eyes, “Mm, as if it could be anyone else,” she remarked dryly, shrugging.

“I understand you were the previous contender against her last year,” Twilight inferred.

“Sure as bubblegum!” Pinkie replied, smiling eagerly.

“You wouldn’t happen to recall how-”

The door to the gymnasium suddenly opened, “Ah, there ya are!” came a familiar southern twang.

Applejack and Rarity walked in through the door and approached the three up in the bleachers.

“Hey, you two!” Twilight beamed, albeit she restrained herself when she recognized the distinct lack of a certain rainbow-haired girl. “Did you manage to sort things out with Rainbow Dash?”

Applejack went to sit next to Twilight, Spike hopping onto Twilight’s lap, to whom Rarity sat beside. The farmgirl gave off an uncertain expression, “We couldn’t find her.”

“Couldn’t you just call her?” Twilight inquired, seeing as the smartphones the people of this world seemed quite fixated on made long-distance communication so easy.

Applejack inhaled through her teeth, “Yea… Ah kinda-sorta deleted her number…”

“I still had her number from before, so I tried to call her. Unfortunately, no answer,” Rarity added with a pout.

“Her phone is likely on silent,” Fluttershy offered.

“True. Though I’m certain the vibration would have gone off,” Rarity replied.

“Just trying to remain optimistic,” Fluttershy chuckled sheepishly.

A throaty gasp emanated from above and between Rarity and Applejack, eliciting everyone’s attention to turn towards the source, which was none other than Pinkie. The party girl leaned forward from the seat one layer above Rarity and Applejack, an expression of barely restrained glee plastered on her visage as she looked between the two.

“Oh my gosh! Rarity? … Applejack?” her smiled broadened to a width that teetered on impossibility.

“Uh… Heya, Pinkie,” said Applejack in greeting. “Ya’ll right there?”

“Did you and Rarity get back together?!” Pinkie blurted, looking in between the recently reunited couple. “And without telling me?!”

Rarity smiled pleasantly at Pinkie, “We did, just today, in fact.”

Applejack glanced towards Twilight, casting her a playful smirk, “An’ Ah see you and Fluttershy are back at least on speaking terms Ah reckon?”

Pinkie threw her arms around the two, pulling their faces against her cheeks, complete with an uncanny squeak sound, “You betcha! Sure, I was all ‘Fluttershy? Who’s Fluttershy?’ like a colossal jackass, but while I was out getting more helium, Snips and Snails had come to tear down my decorations, until Twilight Sparkle suggested we duel over the fate of the fall formal midterm duel party! And Snips and Snails were totally owning me, but then Fluttershy made the save and we started kicking their butts and were perfectly in synch! It was so much fun!”

Applejack chuckled, despite Pinkie’s steady increase in volume ringing in her ear, “So that’s two for two, huh?”

Pinkie snorted, “Well duh, we… Wait? ‘Two for two?’”

Rarity finally managed to escape Pinkie’s overly affectioned embrace, patting in any stray hairs of her elegant curved coiffure, “Yes, it was Twilight who helped work out our issues… That is to say, help us see past the jest pulled on us.”

Twilight suddenly found Pinkie sliding in one fluid motion next to her, looking over her as if there was something unusual about her, “Seriously? Was I actually right? Are you a magical girl? Or an angel? (Your hair does kinda look like wings.) An alien bent on spreading love and happiness to our world?” Pinkie suddenly narrowed her eyes in suspicion, “You’re not gonna turn us into witches, are ya?”

“Uhh…” Twilight was not in the least bit certain what to say. “Witches?”

“I see Pinkie’s still into manga,” Fluttershy noted. “Oh! Have you been reading ‘Utagawashi Senshi Mahou Shoujo’ too?”

“Girl, you know it,” Pinkie stated with a rev of her neck.

“Ooh! I love that one! Even if it gets really startling later on, and my favorite character kind of died…” Fluttershy continued.

Twilight leaned closer to Applejack, “What are they on about?”

“Oh, just some comics Ah know nothin’ about,” Applejack shrugged.

“I’ll admit, I did read ‘Mutinous Gal Cimeterre’ on occasion,” Rarity piped up.

“Ain’t that one of them girl-on-girl pornos?” Applejack asked, raising a daring brow, to which Rarity blushed.

“Why, Applejack; just because it might go on the more risqué at times doesn’t mean it isn’t teeming with raw emotion,” the fashionista dramatically swept a hand across her brow. “And besides,” she said, her tone increasingly sultry, “I always did see you as my Cimeterre…”

Listening to the four girls conversing, now with at least part of their qualms sorted, a sense of warm familiarity came over Twilight. Four faces that were both unfamiliar, yet also so familiar simultaneously. Just yesterday she’d felt the longing to get back to Equestria, the human world having felt unnaturally distant and divided, while undeniably amazing with its breathtaking advances in the realms of technological prowess and innovation.

But now with the four counterparts to her friends, with the unfortunate lack of Rainbow Dash, Twilight likened the newly ignited camaraderie back to when she first arrived in Ponyville.

It’s like the day Princess Celestia sent me away to Ponyville during the Summer Sun Celebration. How I met everypony who I’d come to call my closest friends. These girls are all so alike. It may be a different world, and there’s some differences, but… It almost feels like I’m back to that very day.

In her nostalgic reminiscence, Pinkie pie fished for her phone through her hair. When she seemed to snag something, she retracted her hand, only to find it was a rubber chicken. Setting that aside, she went back in and rummaged around longer. Her hand seemed to have gotten stuck. She forcefully yanked, resulting in a sharp inhale through gritted teeth as she pulled out what looked to be a disheveled ball of confetti, streamers and bits of pink hair. Fighting back tears of pain, she unravels the mess, finding her phone in its midst.

“I should really clear the space out…” she hissed, stuffing the rubber chicken back inside. “Just leave it to Pinkie! I’m sure Rainbow will listen if it’s me calling her.”

“Maybe try a text first,” Fluttershy recommended. “I think she might have class right now.”

“Will do,” Pinkie sing-sang, her fingers beginning to tap rapidly against the screen.

“Twilight, if I may,” Rarity called out across from Applejack.

“What is it?” Twilight leaned forward to look over at the fashionista.

“I just wanted to say one more time of how grateful we are for your intervention. And, well, hearing Pinkie say it; the way you just came up and were dead-set on helping us, all of us, you really are like an angel,” said Rarity, Applejack affirming their shared sentiments with a firm nod. Twilight smiled warmly at the two, genuinely touched, further seeing and feeling the similarities, if not outright kindredness with these girl’s dimensional counterparts. “If you ever need anything, you’re more than welcome to ask the two of us. We owe you so much.”

Twilight, glanced to the side in contemplation, I suppose this is the best time if ever. “Well, actually there is something I-”

A sudden tune began to sound in the gymnasium. “Oh! Ooh! Rainbow’s calling me!” Pinkie shouted, bouncing in her seat, making the obstructions under her shirt jiggle, something which Twilight could not help but find unsettling, yet she just couldn’t look away. The party girl pressed the pragmatic device to her ear, “Heya, Rainbow!” she spoke quite audibly into the device.

Everyone watched as Pinkie slapped a palm over her lips, blushing from embarrassment before offering a more leveled, “Sorry” into the phone. “I’m just sooo happy to hear from you! It’s been like, what? Two years.”

Twilight exchanged glances with Applejack and Rarity as Pinkie fell silent for a moment.

“Listen, Dash, I have some super exciting news for ya… No, I didn’t get the party cannon yet. I think it’s still in shipping. It takes a really, really long time with all the paperwork and credentials. You know, standard live ammunition stuff and whatnot… Where was I again? … Oh! Also, me and Fluttershy are friends again! We just had a super-duper exciting duel for the fate of the fall formal decorations and… Oh, right! Sorry, again. Applejack and Rarity were looking for you so I figured I call you and… Uh-huh! Yea, Applejack just wants to… Say what?”

Now everyone was looking at the party girl with uncertainty as her eyes diverted in the direction of her phone, the eager smile replaced with concern.

“But… Rainbow, we just… But… I… Oh… But then…?” Pinkie’s lips drooped into a frown, her brows inverting downwards. “Okay… Bye…” Her hair seemed to slightly limpen. Not deflate, but just noticeably seemed to bunch up, albeit still puffy.

A silence fell over the gymnasium, made all the dourer with Pinkie’s downcast change in demeanor.

Applejack was the first to speak, “So… What did she say?”

Pinkie pouted, stuffing the phone back into her slightly limpened hair. She grunted in frustration when the device almost slid back out, having to shove it much further than her hair’s dimensions and length of her forearm could have possibly coincided. “‘It’s been two years Pinkie,” she started, adding a slight rasp into her voice akin to Rainbow’s more coarse tone, “I know we were friends once, but things change. I’ve moved on. I know you just want to do what you think is right, but this is not like those shoujo you read. No offence, but for your own sake, you just need to accept it and move on yourself. See you around.’” She crossed her arms and pouted.

Twilight felt hear heart sink in her chest, a sentiment Spike announced himself with a whine. The rest of the girls seemed evenly dismal at what Rainbow had said over the phone. Applejack leaned forward, hand to her forehead as she groaned in disappointment, to which Rarity leaned in closer to her, placing a comforting arm on her shoulder. Fluttershy sat quietly, fumbling with her hair, while Pinkie simply frowned.

Twilight tried to think of something. As much as her subconsciousness nagged at her that not all worlds could possibly work on the exact same as hers. Yet at the same time these five girls in question had been friends, until Sunset Shimmer came in and shattered the bonds between them, estranging them from one another, setting them into specifically tailored groups. It was as if the time before the founding of Equestria, with the three pony tribes divided, unable and unwilling to work together. Perhaps not on an evenly grand scale, and there were no windigoes, as far as she knew anyway…

We needed Rainbow Dash in order for me to gain traction among her representative part of the student body for the finalist position. I have Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie together now, but will that even be enough? And will they even be willing to help me? I’ll just end up sounding like I was using them…

“Somethin’ wrong, Twi?” came Applejack’s voice beside her.

Twilight sat up straight, looking over to the farmgirl, “Uh, no. I’m… I’m sorry that Rainbow Dash couldn’t be persuaded. It’s just that I… I promised your sisters and Scootaloo that I’d try and help mend your bridges and-”

A gentle hand touched her shoulder, “It’s fine, sugarcube. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle got nothin’ to worry about us gettin’ between them and their friend. If Rainbow’s goin’ to have a problem with it, well she’s just goin’ to have to take it up with me. As civilly as possible, don’t ya fret.”

“Maybe Rainbow needs more time to think it over,” Fluttershy offered. “I’ve known her the longest and she can be needlessly difficult.”

“She does have a point,” Rarity nodded in agreement, looking to Applejack. “Let’s just give her some time. Maybe she’ll come around.”

Applejack sighed, before visibly affirming her half-hearted acceptance with a shrug, “Ah guess that’s all we can do fer now.”

“Now…” Rarity looked past her girlfriend towards Twilight, “was there something you meant to say, Twilight?”

Twilight quickly considered her words, “Well, yes. There is…” She glanced between her left and right, to her four new friends. “During these past two days; I know it might seem crazy, but I’ve decided that I want to run as the contender for Duel Queen for the fall mid-term.”

Silence befell the gymnasium once again. This time, however, the girls, sans Fluttershy, were looking at her with varying expressions ranging from surprise to outright disbelief. Rarity seemed unable to make a concrete decision on the subject. Applejack was looking away, seeming to be thinking hard about something. Whereas Pinkie… looked absolutely flummoxed about the prospect.

Fluttershy upon looking upon everyone from her end of the row, raised a forearm, “I’ll vouch for you.”

“Uhm, that’s, uhh…” Rarity stuttered, “Listen, Twilight, it’s fine for you to get into the spirit, what with you just transferring, but…”

“That sounds absolutely, positively, undeniably, impossibly… amazing!” Pinkie quite literally screamed. “The new girl, righting wrongs, suffering a devastating defeat against her good-looking rival slash love-interest...”

Love-interest?!
“rising to the occasion to take down the big bad.” Pinkie beamed eagerly. “… You’re the new girl, Sunset Shimmer is the big bad.”

“I figured that, yes,” Twilight affirmed, still flummoxed about this notion of her being in anyway interested in a boy she just met, let alone someone she barely knew outside of how he looked, the fact he played guitar and had a warrior deck.

“Well, you see, not to demean you or anything, darling,” Rarity chimed in, “But you’ve just transferred and, well, you have no dueling record and…”

Pinkie hissed through her teeth, “You kinda did lose to Flash Sentry though…”

“And if I’m to be perfectly frank,” Rarity looked away her expression turning cold, “I would not pass the chance to get a jab at Sunset Shimmer, especially now…”

Pinkie shrugged, “Mm, I went last year. I figure I give someone else a shot. Not that I really, really wouldn’t mind figuratively tearing Sunset Shimmer a new (Eff!)ckhole either. But, that’s democracy for ya!” Twilight cringed at the strange sound she thought she’d heard in the midst of Pinkie’s sentence.

“You’re being very quiet all of a sudden, Applejack…” Fluttershy remarked, diverting everyone’s attention to the farmgirl.

“Oh, sorry. Ah’m Jus’ thinkin’. See, Twi was pretty deadset on duelin’ Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo back when she was stayin’ with us. Those four went on fer hours, an’ even after it was gettin’ late they did a few more without gear. Ah’ mean, Ah’ was glad to see those three take a shine to her an’ all. But…” she looked keenly at Twilight, “Was all of this… I mean, did ya plan it like this?”

Twilight sighed, bringing a hand to the back of her neck. Applejack had finally caught on, “It was, yes. I just felt that I should do something, for the school, and hearing what the girls told me, it made me want to help them most of all, and by extension, I wanted to help all of you.”

“So, getting me and Applejack back together? Pinkie and Fluttershy? Rainbow Dash? All of this was for your chance at Duel Queen of the fall formal?” Rarity inquired.

“I trust Twilight,” came a steady declaration from Fluttershy. Everyone’s focus diverted to the shy girl, who did not flinch this time, a look of assertive determination expressed on her delicate features. “Gosh…” her features suddenly softened, “I can’t remember the last time people actually listened…” she shook her head, resuming her air of assertiveness, “I think what Twilight is doing is for the better. I can attest. I mean, just look at us: She reminded us how much we meant to each other, even more so between you two,” she indicated Applejack and Rarity. “I don’t like how things have changed ever since we started high school. Sunset Shimmer’s dominance over everyone and starting this everyone versus everyone dynamic: If Twilight managed to bring us together, I… I want to think that maybe she could bring the whole school together.”

Fluttershy sighed, slumping ever so slightly, “I rest my case.”

Applejack turned to Rarity, “What do ya think, darlin’?” she asked, addressing her with her more intimate term of endearment.

Rarity appeared to think about it for a moment, “Well… I do see Fluttershy’s point. Ever since high school things have been awfully distant. As much as I’m iffy about this whole affair, but…” she clutched at Applejack’s forearm tightly. “She did help us. And she’d just met us. Much as I would want retribution on Sunset my own way but… Maybe we should help her make it in return.”

“If Rarity thinks so, then…” she looked to Twilight as she clutched a hand atop Rarity’s, “maybe ya can work another miracle.”

“Do you have a plan, Twilight?” Fluttershy looked expectedly at her.

“Well, I did speak to Principal Celestia about this, so-”

“If you permit me,” Rarity interrupted. “Way I see it there’s only one way for you to garner any support this late into the term. You need to defeat the school’s top brass.”

Twilight nodded, “Which is all of you.”

“Quite right. So, if we could somehow put on a convincing enough display…”

“No,” Twilight shook her head. “Not convincing: The four of you: You have to duel me. At your best. Nothing held back; you must be determined to defeat me.”

“But Twilight, you’ve only had your first duel so far!” Fluttershy replied concerned.

“Wait, her first-?!” Rarity retorted, when Applejack softly placed a finger over her lips, the fashionista blushing ever so slightly.

“Correction,” Pinkie chimed in. “First duel in school!”

“Oh, right…” Fluttershy blushed. “Your training with Apple Bloom and the girls…”

“But do you think it will be enough?” Rarity inferred levelly. “I mean Sweetie Belle is admittedly very talented…”

“Hey, if she can go up against Apple Bloom, Ah’ say she’s about as ready as can be right now,” Applejack noted with a hint of pride.
“But even if we were to duel, how can we ensure the entire school will see?” Fluttershy asked.

Twilight rubbed her chin in thought, “That is true. I mean I’m guessing everyone who saw my display yesterday against Flash might not be as inclined to-”

Twilight yelped as she, and Fluttershy, were both pulled into a sideward embrace by Pinkie Pie, “You just leave that to your pal Pinkie!” she declared. “I’ll make sure that absolutely everyone comes to see the epic boss rush, or my name isn’t Pinkamena Diane Pie! Now the first thing we need is… Oh shoot…”

“What’s wrong?” Twilight asked, continuing to be distracted at those confounded obstructions on the Pink girl’s chest. How big can those things get?!

“I still need to finish decorating the gym,” said Pinkie with much less enthusiasm, in bizarre paradox given her passions. “If I only had that party cannon right now so I could decorate everything super-fast…”

“No to worry, Pinkie; we’ll all chip in. I’m sure we can save some time if we-” Rarity was interrupted when the double doors to the gymnasium opened.

In walked a girl, someone whom Twilight did not recognize as a dimensional counterpart as she seemed almost bound to encounter throughout her time in this world. Barring perhaps Flash Sentry, though even him she’d at least thought to have seen somewhere before in Equestria. Her skin was a muted grey with a head of greyish violet hair, with very simplistic flat-cut bangs at the front while the rest of her hair fell just above her shoulder in a geometrically perfect line around the rest of her head. Her eyes, currently half-lidded, casting a dull, almost emotionless looking expression, were a shockingly contrasting turquoise. She wore a simple bluish grey frock with a dark grey belt and very simple, albeit heavy, looking boots. She was pushing a rather hefty looking wooden crate atop a furniture dolly, atop of which lay a crowbar.

Pinkie immediately leapt down from the bleachers and rushed over to the newcomer, Twilight and the rest following suit in a more orderly fashion. “Heya, Maud!” she said eagerly, giving the girl an affectionate hug. “What’s in the box?” She suddenly gasped, “Did you uncover a dinosaur skeleton on school grounds and are bringing it here for safe keeping?!”

The newcomer, Maud, blinked, which seemed strangely slow and deliberate, “Hello, Pinkie. Dad asked me to bring you this. It seems to be the party cannon you ordered. He and Mom thought you might be able to try it out, what with you decorating the gymnasium,” she said in a quiet, most deadpan tone if Twilight had ever heard one.

The name Maud, however, sounded vaguely familiar. Twilight recalled the Pinkie Pie of her world having an older sister named Maud. She hadn’t met any of Pinkie’s family yet, the only previous knowledge being from the words of Pinkie herself, along with some photos she’d kept in her room in the Sugarcube Corner.

Pinkie let out an enthusiastic exclamation, grabbing the crowbar and what seemed with very little effort, sent the top of the crate flipping over, to which the entire assembly splayed out, revealing what looked almost exactly alike to her pony counterpart’s trademark party cannon. Underneath the barrel was a box marked “party munitions” in bright, colorful letter against a glittering magenta background.

“You mean people actually manufacture these things?” Twilight asked the closest person, Applejack, in sheer amazement, to which she simply shrugged.

Pinkie bounced in utter joy before hugging her sister again. “Thank you so much, Maud! You just saved me a lot of time!” she said cheerfully, Maud not even flinching. “Oh! Even better! Do you think you could ask Mom and Dad to bring over a batch of my cupcakes?! We’re holding a little pre-fall formal event and we’re going to need cupcakes!”

Maud did not outwardly move, “Of course. I’ll ask Dad when I return him the furniture dolly. How many do you need?”

“About two thousand,” Pinkie replied very casually. “Tell ‘em to use the emergency stash in the party shed.”

“Will do,” Maud confirmed.

“Oh! And bring one extra for my new friend, Twilight Sparkle here,” Pinkie emphasized, giving Twilight a hearty pat on the back.

Maud looked at Twilight, her face remaining unflinching. Twilight grinned sheepishly, uncertain how to approach this Maud.

“Uh, hi! Twilight Sparkle… And you are…?”

“I’m Maud. I collect rocks, minerals and silicates.” She blinked. “Those are rock-forming minerals.”

“Oh. So, you’re a geologist?” Twilight asked.

“Actually, I’m a student here. But yes; I do seek a career in geology. I already have a scholarship at the Canterlot Geological Institution set up post-graduation,” said Maud. “Anyway, I better get going. It was very nice to meet you.”

“Likewise!” Twilight replied with as much enthusiasm as she could fake.

As Twilight watched the confoundingly deadpan Maud exit the gymnasium, courteously closing the doors behind her, most likely given the sort of cargo she was transporting for her sister. Turning to her quartet of new friends, she watched as Pinkie, like a foal on Hearth’s Warming eve, was excitedly opening the ‘party munitions’ box that came with the cannon, Applejack looking on in slight apprehension, whilst Fluttershy was reading the manual for the party ordinance.

“‘Congratulations on purchasing your new Bee & Miller mark thirty-six festivities launcher (or party cannon). Before operating the Bee & Miller mark thirty-six festivities launcher, make sure you read and comprehend this manual thoroughly to ensure fun, and explosive, but safe results in using the Bee & Miller mark thirty-six festivities launcher. Bee & Miller Inc. will not be held responsible for the mishandling, accidents, injuries and slash or deaths as the result of the improper use of the Bee & Miller mark thirty-six festivities launcher…’”

Pinkie Pie pulled the manual from Fluttershy’s hands and began to read it… For a good five seconds before haphazardly tossing it away, “Aw, who’s got time for that?” she bent over to rummage through the glittering box, producing what looked to be a miniature cannon shell, albeit with a mostly cardboard construction, helpfully labeled ‘high school prom’ on the side.

“Uh… Pinkie?” Applejack watched in trepidation as Pinkie opened the back hatch of the party cannon, “Ya absolutely sure it’s safe fer ya to be usin’ that thing?”

Pinkie let out a snorted giggle as she inserted the shell into the cannon’s bore, “Silly Applejack. Have I ever scared you wrong?”

Applejack’s mouth lined, “Yes. Several times, in fact.”

Pinkie shrugged, “Eh, worth a shot.” She then directed the party cannon at the left-side bleachers, adjusting it to an upward angle.

Twilight watched on in uncertainty, seeing as this version of the Equestrian Pinkie’s party cannon seemed much more intricate, and potentially dangerous, what with the full-on ordinance. Rarity edged closer to Applejack, putting her arms around her significant other.

“If something bad happens,” she stated, “I always loved you…”

“Fire in the hole!” Pinkie cried out as her hand slammed down towards the big red trigger button very helpfully labeled “Fire!”.

-

Sunset Shimmer jerked in the midst of her stride when a muffled boom reverberated through the school corridors. Surveying her surroundings, with a few other students occupying the hallway, giving a wide berth of her, just the way she liked it, also looking about wondering the cause of the noise.

-

Much to Twilight’s, and no doubt everyone else, excluding Pinkie’s, amazement, the results were… Downright amazing, to say the least. The smell of black powder, and the bit of tinnitus notwithstanding.

The left-side bleachers’ frames had been almost perfectly entwined in glittery autumn colored streamers, a color scheme most fitting, what with it being the fall formal. A few streamers had missed the mark in, what one could assume was from the cannon’s spread, whilst a miss-shot banner reading ‘rocking prom’ lay stretched out over the seating rows.

“Well Ah’ll be…” Applejack muttered in disbelief, Rarity still clinging tightly onto her form. “So these things actually work.”

“But how does a cannon manage such perfect results with the streamers?” Twilight wondered aloud.

Pinkie opened to a seemingly random page on the previously discarded manual and read aloud, “‘The function of the Bee & Miller mark thirty-six festivities launcher is a copyright of Bee & Miller Inc.’ So hush-hush.”

Rarity, after just a moment longer spent clinging to her significant other, finally urged herself to let go, patting out the wrinkles in her top, “Regardless; this will save us much time then, for whatever it is you’re planning, Pinkie.”

“Ya got that right,” confirmed Pinkie, in the process of opening and reloading a new shell into the bore. “Just gotta do the right-side, a little Pinkie adjustment and this formal’s good to go!”

“Of course,” Rarity nodded. “Though how about we step out while you finish your business here?”

“Why?”

“Well…” Rarity trailed off, diverting everyone’s attention to Fluttershy, who stood in a slightly hunched pose, not having budged since the cannon went off. Entirely motionless, her arms held close to her chest, her pupils had shrunk into pin pricks in the midst of her wide-open eyes.

“Oh… Whoops…” Pinkie said with an apologetic grimace. “Just, uh… Computer lab. ETA, oh, gimme ten minutes. Fifteen tops.”

-

“So, uhh, Snips… What do we do now?” asked Snails, him and Snips having vacated the gymnasium.

“I dunno! We screwed up bad, and you know how Sunset gets if she doesn’t get her way!” Snips retorted, accented with a hint of chattering teeth.

“Oh yea. She’s gonna kill us, right?” Snails asked in an absent manner, when the slightest hint of focus entered the dopey youth’s eyes. “That’s not good.”

“Oh! I got an idea!” Snips beamed abruptly.

A moment later the resonant metallic thud of a closing locker emanated in the hallway.

“We just stay in here until the heat’s off!” came Snip’s muffled voice from inside the locker.

“Great idea, Snips!” replied Snails. “… Uh, wait; what if I gotta pee?”

An exasperated groan followed. “Well go to the bathroom and get back!” Snips retorted.

A futile rattle followed, the locker door shaking slightly, but otherwise refused to budge.

“Uh-oh…”

-

Twilight looked about the ‘computer lab’ as Pinkie had referred to it. It was a larger than average classroom, of sorts, only instead of desks it was lined with rows of long tables, from left to right, an aisle left between the rows for easy access. Atop them were lined with the same computer units as she’d seen in the library. A few students had taken up places amidst the computers, sitting as apart from one another as possible, barring two students who seemed to have additional pieces of technology with them, perhaps parts of an associated clique.

Rarity was seated by the computer closest to the wall near the entrance, Twilight having taken a seat beside her, whilst Applejack was leaning against the wall adjacent from Rarity and Fluttershy, having overcome the hint of shellshock on the way there, had shakily settled next to Twilight.

“I’ve been meaning to ask,” Twilight spoke up, to which all attention was diverted towards her. “Since Sunset Shimmer is the school’s top duelist; doesn’t everyone know her ins and outs by now?”

“By ‘ins and outs’ ya mean…?” Applejack inquired.

“I’m saying, shouldn’t everyone know her deck type, her style of play, summoning preferences, tactical inclinations and whatnot?”

“I recall her using spellcasters during her first championship. The display was rather painful to witness though…” Rarity shifted in her seat. “See, shortly before then, she had just broken up with Flash Sentry. And he was her opponent at the time.”

“Oh…” Twilight felt a strong tinge of remorse, thinking back to how polite Flash had been during their first encounter, even despite her abysmal performance on the dueling field.

The thought of Sunset Shimmer being in relationship with him, and not just by the implications of interspecies congress, and what she’d been told of her activities, and mental state for that matter, sounded so very wrong. To top off the unnerving presence that she emanated since seeing her in the human world for the first time, especially those striking orange eyes that Twilight had witnessed during that chance encounter with her.

“But since then,” Applejack continued on Rarity’s behest. “She’d been usin’ that chess deck of hers.”

So Sunset Shimmer had abandoned the one I now have. “Chess… deck?”

“Archfiends. Ugly sons a bitches. Hits ya fast and hard before ya get a chance t’ do much of anythin’. Get past the first five turns an’ she low-blows ya with a vengeance,” she sighed deeply. “Ah swear, sometimes she’s just messin’ with ya just for the hell of it.”

“So, on the off chance I do get to face her, I’ll need to be vigilant,” Twilight confirmed.

“Twilight, darling, trust us; you’ll need more than vigilance,” said Rarity, her expression belying a sense of uncertainty.

“Like what?”

Rarity looked back at Twilight in defeat, “Well, that’s just it. I don’t know…”

Just then the door to the computer lab opened, in stepping Pinkie Pie, with a stray streamer hanging off her shoulder and confetti sprinkled in her puffy head of hair.

“Well, that’s as decorated as that gymnasium’s gonna get!” she emphasized with a pleased grin, before shaking and sputtering like a dog to ruffle off the stray bits of décor. She stretched out her hands at the ends of her fingers, a display Twilight found oddly unsettling, before the pink girl wiggled them idly. “May I?”

Twilight relinquished her seat to Pinkie who subsequently grabbed hold of the computer’s mouse. Upon moving the device, the black screen changed to the familiar background as on the library computer. Opening a program dubbed “Microsponge Word”, the screen changed to one taken up almost completely by a blank white space, looking like an A4 sized piece of paper, with a series of peripherals and tool functions accessible atop that. This was the closest to the typewriter analogy Twilight had gleamed as Pinkie began typing on the keyboard, her flexibility with her digits making the process infinitely faster than Twilight back when she first tried.

“So, what exactly is your plan, Pinkie?” Twilight inquired as she watched Pinkie work.

Pinkie soon sat back from the computer, rubbing her chin in a dramatic fashion, accented with a contemplative hum. What sounded like a dinging of a call bell emanated from seemingly Pinkie’s very being, when she fished out her smartphone (with no tearing of her hair this time) and without prompting took a snapshot of Rarity, Applejack and Fluttershy. She then held the phone away from herself, putting on a broad, pearly white smile and holding up her free hand with her two foremost fingers help up in a V, before darting the phone at Twilight to snap an image of her.

After fiddling with her phone for a moment, she returned to the computer where she once more showed off the convenience of this world’s technology when she was able to transfer the images from the phone onto the computer. With a few more alterations, Pinkie looked over what she was working on.

Twilight and the rest of the girls peered at the screen. Written in bold, dark purple letters, accented with a diagonal image of the back of a Duel Monsters card behind the text was; “Epic Duel Monsters Boss Rush. Underdog new girl Twilight Sparkle versus school pros. Location: CHS soccer field, 3pm sharp.” At the top in a line were the very unassuming photos of Applejack and Fluttershy, Pinkie in her cheerful pose and Rarity who had seemingly in the blink of an eye taken a pose akin to blowing a kiss at the camera.

Applejack looked at her girlfriend, “You’re such a tease. Ya know that?” to which Rarity playfully winked at her.

Beneath the text was the equally unassuming image of Twilight, underneath that in black letters with pink highlighting read “Attention: Free cupcakes!!!”

“And ‘boop’,” Pinkie clicked on a few series of functions. After a short moment a hefty machine in the corner on the opposite side of the room whirred to life. Like a miniaturized printing press, the machine began to slide out A4 sized pieces of paper into a neat stack.

“So… Fliers?” Twilight asked.

“Yup! Now we just put these up around school where people are just bound to see ‘em, and we’ll have our own little mini tournament all set,” said Pinkie, traipsing up to the printing machine to pick up the stack of fliers.

“Pinkie, I appreciate your enthusiasm, really, I do. But I’m not so convinced that people will be willing to watch me play after last time,” Twilight remarked glumly.

“Oh, I know that,” Pinkie replied unnecessarily nonchalantly. “What do you think the free cupcakes are for?”

“Ya know; she has a point…” Applejack chimed in. “Them’s good cupcakes.”

Just like my Pinkie’s, Twilight thought as Pinkie handed Fluttershy, Rarity and Applejack a share of the fliers. She sighed, watching as her new quartet of friends went over their shares of the workload, encouraging herself to smile for how they were already willing to do so much for her sake. If only she could have told them the entire truth about herself. When the time finally came that she would have to leave this world behind, she began to feel a conflicting ache about having to also leave them behind…

Author's Note:

A bit of non-card game drama before getting back into the swing of things.

Can you spot all the references? :pinkiehappy:

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