• Published 15th Aug 2019
  • 1,105 Views, 115 Comments

Duelist Team of Canterlot High - Brony-wan-kenobi

Six students will represent Canterlot High in a childrens card game tournament. And none of them are the main seven!

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Sticking Up for a Teammate

“Holy shit!” yelled Lightning, her voice no doubt echoing through the library. Hunter couldn’t help but frown as he looked around nervously. While school had ended about a half an hour ago, there were still a couple of students within the large room as well as teachers to oversee it. Just from what he could see there were several students sitting at tables with their books out, turning their heads towards the duelist team gathered around him and shooting them icy looks.

Scratching the back of his head in annoyance, Hunter turned his attention back to the four members of the team who were standing before one of the long tables in the library looking awestruck at what they saw. For on the table were several long, thin boxes that were designed to hold one thing: Duel Monster’s cards. Thousands or perhaps millions of cards that had once belonged to Hunter’s brother, Chaser, sat there waiting to find a new owner. They had been organized by both type and archetype, separated by card dividers which helpfully labeled each of them for easy searching. There was even a section for what Hunter considered generic support cards: spells and traps that didn’t belong to any one archetype and could be splashed into multiple decks.

“Keep it down,” said Moondancer as she placed a pencil behind her ear. She sat at the table with a math book and notebook laid out before her, a finger placed on an equation as to not lose her place. “Some of us are trying to study.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Lightning muttered as she waved this off, slowly approaching the boxes as she did so. There was a hungry, almost primal look on her features as she eyed the treasures before her. “So we can take whatever we want, right? I mean, that’s what you called us here for.”

“You can,” said Hunter before Lightning dived towards them, searching through everything quickly. The other, however, showed far more restraint. They looked at the boxes longingly but also with traces of guilt.

“Are you sure about this?” asked Autumn. “It feels sort of wrong to just…take them. We could trade for them tomorrow or something. Or we could trade funny stories or jokes. I know this really good one about a priest who took part in a cruise safety drill that always brings a smile to my face.”

“Ah, no thanks,” replied Hunter who honestly didn’t know how to respond to something like that. “I just thought that since we’re doing this and there’s not a lot of time before our first match, we’re going to need all the help we can get. The best place to start is to improve our decks as much as possible.”

“Found them!” Lightning all but shouted again, drawing their attention back to her. She stood there, bent over the table looking from card to card as she mumbled aloud. “Got it. Crap. Crap. Got thre- OH MY GOD!” From where Hunter was standing, he could see Lightning’s face light up with joy almost to the point where stars were forming in her eyes. Quickly she pulled out three copies of the card she had been looking at, causing the cards behind them to be pulled up slightly. Upon seeing these her face lit up even more so, grabbing more and more cards until finally she stood up straight while fanning them before her with both hands. “I can’t believe you have these cards! I’ve been busting my ass looking for these since they came out!”

“Lightning,” hissed Hunter as he looked back towards the front. Already he saw that they were getting dirty looks from some of the other students. One or two were already gathering their things, either to leave the library or just move further away in hopes that things would be quieter. There were even a few, he noticed, that were moving towards them along the bookshelves. Perhaps doing so to find out what was causing all the noise or taking the roundabout way to tell them to keep it down.

He hoped things did not get worse. When Hunter had first thought of the idea of improving their decks, he had first considered doing so in a more private setting. Like his aunt’s apartment where they could as loud as they wanted to be. But he didn’t know their afterschool plans or to put pressure on them. He also regularly brought his cards here for trading anyways. Asking them to come and meet him here seemed like the best idea. Now he was having second thoughts. He had permission from the school to do his trading here on the condition that he didn’t disturb the other students. If someone reported them to one of the teachers that privilege would be gone.

As for the others, Lightning’s announcement caused their lingering doubt to vanish. Almost as one they approached the boxes, scanning the dividers for the cards they needed. As Lightning sat down at the table and pulled out her deck box to make adjustments to her deck, the others began to look over the various cards. Pharynx, Hunter noticed, moved more towards the generic support cards and stopping to look at the field spell cards he had starting with Plasma Zone: a card that offered a power boost to dark monsters and weakened light ones. As for Autumn and Wallflower, they had already found their archetypes and were quickly looking them over.

“Oh look,” said Wallflower as she held up a card to Autumn. “Isn’t this the cutest thing? And look at it’s effect. I always wanted to add it to my deck.”

“It is cute,” admitted Autumn Blaze as she took the card. Hunter watched as her eyes slowly traveled down the text of the card before frowning. “But isn’t it a little on the weak side? At most you’ll only get to use it’s effect once before your opponent easily runs it down. Something like that might cost you your match.”

As Wallflower was handed back the card, the green skinned girl frowned. “You really think so?” she asked, her shoulders slumping slightly. But only for a moment before she vigorously shook her head causing her hair to go flying around for a moment. “No! I know this would be a good card to add. I just need to make some slight adjustments to my deck and it’ll do a lot!”

“Well, if you’re set on it, how about we look over your deck together,” suggested Autumn, much to Wallflower’s shock.

“Y-You really mean it?” she asked. Autumn nodded before going back in to look for cards for herself.

“Just give me a couple of minutes,” she said. “Then we’ll see if your deck can use that card or what you need to do to make the most of it. Two heads are better than one. I mean, that’s what friends do for each other, right?” Wallflower stood there, staring at Autumn for a moment in disbelief before her eyes went wide while the biggest smile Hunter had ever seen in his life appear on her face.

“This card looks promising,” muttered Pharynx as he held a card in one hand. His free hand was slowly brought to his chin as he began to ponder aloud in a soft voice. “With a card like this I can shut down most decks people use these days. But will I be able to draw it? If I remember correctly it’s limited to one and not a lot of ways to search it out. Might not be-” He stopped suddenly and turned his head to look at a nearby aisle. “We’re being watched.”

Surprised, Hunter turned to look as well. At first he didn’t see anything in the direction that Pharynx had been focus on. Then his eyes were drawn to movement heading back towards the front. Due to all the books that were in the way Hunter couldn’t make out who the figure was, just that the person’s hair reminded him of flames. Not the red and orange flames that belonged to a person like Sunset Shimmer, but rather the flames of a candle. A light orange color in the center with a darker shade outwards.

“Probably nothing,” said Moondancer, drawing Hunter’s attention back to them. Her focus was now on the homework before her, quickly solving math problems as she spoke. “We have been making a lot of noise. Probably just someone who was curious.”

“I thought so at first,” replied Pharynx as he looked towards the front of the room. “But she was watching us for awhile. I think she might have been spying on us.”

“Do you think it was someone from Appleloosa?” asked Autumn. “Trying to check out our decks? Or maybe to put in some parasite card that they could then activate, turning all of our monsters into bugs so they could gain some kind of advantage?”

“Not unless Spitfire transferred there without anyone knowing,” replied Pharynx, ignoring everyone else’s confusion as to what Autumn had just said. But that confusion was quickly shaken as a loud slamming noise echoed through the room. Everyone turned to its source seeing Lightning with both her fists against the table and a look in her eyes that said she was out for blood.

Luna’s attention was pulled from the work on her desk by a sharp knock on her door. Before her was all the paperwork needed for the duelist team’s match. It wasn’t just ensuring that all of her student’s decks were legal, but also getting them a bus, fuel, a driver, and sending out emails to the parents or legal guardians to get their permission. Her own deck was also there off to the side, waiting for her to inspect it herself before her own match. It was curious to be receiving a knock on her door at this time. School was out and most teachers wanted to finish up their own work before heading home.

As soon as Luna gave permission to enter, the door swung open to reveal Spitfire who marched in front of her desk before bringing both arms behind her back. The girl stood there rigid, wearing an open blue jacket, matching pants, and a white shirt with a firebird in the middle as she stood at attention waiting for the conversation to start. Something she had been doing since she began her freshmen year. Perhaps it was because she came from a strict military family or because she had planned on joining the military when she graduated.

“What can I do for you?” asked Luna as she leaned back in her chair.

“Ma’am,” said Spitfire as she looked on intently. “I just overheard something that suggests that Canterlot High is forming a duel team and that Lightning Dust was made a member. I wanted to confirm this.”

Luna paused for a moment, holding a pencil at both ends and spinning it, as she considered how to answer. Right now they did want to keep this a secret so she could just deny it all. But the fact that Spitfire had mentioned a member of the team by name told the older woman that the teen before her knew at least some of it. Perhaps a little bit of the truth wouldn’t hurt right now and she could implore Spitfire not to go spreading this around just yet.

“You are correct,” said Luna as she set down her pencil. “We are forming a team, but nothing has been set in stone just yet. Once the team has been officially formalized both me and Principal Celestia will be making a formal announcement to the entire school. For that reason, I hope you will keep this between us.”

“Not a problem ma’am,” replied Spitfire almost instantly. “But I must argue against making Lightning Dust a member of this group. It would be a mistake letting her join. You will recall that I was the captain of the soccer team when she was a freshman. When I noticed her reckless behavior and lack of concern for others wellbeing was hurting the team I spoke with Coach Iron Will about it. In the end she was dismissed from the team and since then she has been kicked out of every team she has joined. Her behavior is a constant source of trouble, not just for her but for everyone around her. Vice-Principal, it would be a mistake to allow her to be a part of this team.”

Once again, Luna paused as she thought about what to say. “Thank you for your opinion,” said Luna at last, doing her best to choose her words carefully. “Similar concerns were brought up when Miss Dust was considered to be a part of this team. However, it was decided to give her this chance.”

At this, Spitfire’s stance broke. She quickly brought her hands in front of her and, for a moment, Luna thought she would slam her palms on the desk! Instead she seemed to be frozen there with a look of disbelief on her face. The teen did eventually recover, her face morphing into a more stern expression without resuming her previous stance.

“Vice-Principal Luna, don’t you understand what might happen?”

“Yes,” replied Luna sternly. “I am well aware that she might belittle her teammates, become overly rude to them, or shame them. We can be thankful that unless she finds a way to make any damage inflicted during the duel real that is all she can do. Until she does something that can be considered un-sportsman like to either the other team or her own, there is nothing I can do. I cannot kick her off based on what she might do.”

For a moment, Spitfire stood there, looking at Luna before finally nodding. “I understand. Sorry for bothering you.” And with that, the girl left without another word leaving Luna alone with a feeling in her gut she didn’t like.

Lightning Dust stomped down the hallways, her eyes moving to look down every corner as if expecting a figure to jump out and grab her. The girl’s fists were clenched tightly, so much so that her knuckles had turned white. The look on her face was no doubt so ferocious that even an angry dog would run away at the sight for her. But she didn’t care at all how she looked at that moment or what people thought about it. She certainly didn’t care what her new ‘teammates’ thought about her as she stormed out of the library. All that mattered was finding Spitfire.

Spitfire. Just thinking about that girl’s name caused Lightning’s blood to boil with rage. The only other one in the school who could even compare was Rainbow Dash. She could still remember that day back in her freshmen year all the way down to the scent of the wet grass. She remembered how she had been called down to the locker room, her shoes stained green from the grass. She had been smiling, which faded when she saw Rainbow Dash standing at the entrance of the locker room with her duffle bag over her shoulder. But she wasn’t alone because both Spitfire, Coach Iron Will, and several of her teammates were there. Before she knew what was happening, Spitfire told Lightning she was off of the team with the Coach nodding in agreement followed by asking Rainbow not to leave the team. It didn’t take her long to find out the whole story.

Maybe she could have let it go and move on with her life if the same thing didn’t keep happening. It didn’t matter what team she joined, there was Rainbow Dash and Spitfire. Both of them ready to talk to Iron Will and getting her kicked to the curb. Twin backstabbers that she thought where her friends, people she thought she could trust that kept twisting the knife in her back.

Lightning blinked and suddenly she found herself in the hallway halfway between the library and the school offices. And there, standing in her way, was the orange-haired bitch herself. Spitfire was just standing there, looking at Lightning like she was something vile she had found on the bottom of her shoe. Something that Lightning did her best to match and then some.

“So, you’re now spying on me?” snarled Lightning, her fists shaking as she did so. “Let me guess, went to talk to whoever to get me off the team like before? Bet you recommended the great Rainbow Dash to take my place.”

“I wish,” grumbled Spitfire as she stared back at Lightning. “Don’t know why, but it seems like they’re willing to give you a chance. Not that you deserve one.” Lightning was, honestly, taken aback by this. So much so that her anger faltered. She wasn’t being kicked off the team just like that? They were giving her a real chance.

“So if they won’t do anything then I will,” said Spitfire, catching Lightning’s attention again. “I’m going to talk to ‘your’ team so that they know everything about you. Once that happens, we’ll all go and talk to Coach Iron Will in the morning. Once he’s on our side I’m sure we’ll be able to talk some sense into Vice-Principal Luna or Principal Celestia.”

“Like fuck I’ll let you do that,” snarled Lightning. “Besides, how the hell am I going to hurt anyone?! This isn’t a contact sport or anything. Why don’t you go back to the track field or tennis court or whatever and leave me alone!”

“Not a chance,” spat Spitfire. “Back then, those girls you hurt were my responsibility. I won’t let you do anymore damage to anyone else as long as I’m here. Because your still the same reckless, irresponsible brat you’ve always been.”

“Fine! I’ll duel you to stop you right-” She reached back for her deck box only for her eyes to widen. It wasn’t there! She must have left it back at the library! Feeling like a trapped animal she turned her attention to Spitfire breathing hard as she did so. She could feel her heart pounding in her ears as she looked at that face, that face she hated so much. There was no way Spitfire would stay here and let her get her stuff. The moment her back was turned, fireball hair would take off to turn everyone against her! Now only one way to stop her and that was by force. She knew if she got into a fight then it was over. She would be off the team followed by a suspension. But if she just let her pass, she would convince the others to get her kicked out followed by seeing Rainbow Dash replacing her. Honestly, she didn’t know what was worse.

“Lightning,” came a voice from behind her. Both girls turned their attention to behind Lightning, finding Pharynx walking towards them with his duel disk on. It was a custom model, bright green and shaped like a beetle. “I’ll duel her for you.”

“W-What?” asked Lightning, her eyes wide.

Spitfire frowned. “You don’t know what’s going on Pharynx,” she said as she crossed her arms.

“You’re right, I don’t,” admitted Pharynx with a shrug. He then paused, feet spread as he held up the arm with his duel disk on. “At least not everything. But I do know that you were spying on me and my teammates. Then, when I follow Lightning after she ran off in a rage, I hear her demanding a duel with you. Kind of hard when you forget your stuff.”

“Look I’m only trying to-” began Spitfire but Pharynx held up a hand to silence her.

“I honestly don’t care what you were trying to do,” he said as the ‘shell’ on the back of his duel disk opened up to reveal card slots. “But I’ll give you this chance: beat me in this duel and I’ll let you explain yourself. But if I win then you leave us alone.”

“Hey!” shouted Lightning as her arms shook. “I can take care of myself!”

“I know you can,” said Pharynx, surprising Lightning. “I’ve seen you duel before and you could wipe the floor with her. But I think we both know that she’s not going to give you the chance to run back and get your stuff.” Both noticed Spitfire frowning deeply at that, but saying nothing to defend herself. “So just let me help you this once. It’s what teammates do, right?”

Lightning’s eyes widened at that, taking a step back until her back was against a locker. She could feel a tightening in her throat that kept her from talking as well as a stinging sensation in her eyes. That too she fought back for she did not want to appear weak. Not like the situation already didn’t make her feel that way.

“Fine then,” said Spitfire as she pulled out her our duel disk. It wasn’t as fancy at Pharynx’s was, but it was painted bright orange. Quickly she put it on her arm before inserting her deck into it. “I won’t back down from doing what’s right! If I have to beat you then so be it. Just remember, I was in the top eight at the Autumn Crown. Do you really think you stand a chance?”

-Pharynx Life Points: 8000-

-Spitfire Life Points: 8000-

Turn one: Pharynx

“We’ll see,” said Pharynx as he drew his cards (hand: six). Scanning his opening hand, Pharynx frowned in a way that Lightning had seen many times before. It was the same look she had seen on her opponents when they had a bad hand. Glancing across to Spitfire, the former captain of just about every team in school was looking very sure of herself. Something that didn’t sit well with Lightning, not at all.

“I’ll place two cards face down before summoning Steelswarm Caller in attack mode,” declared Pharynx. After two face down cards appeared in front of him, a very odd looking creature stood between him and Spitfire. It looked like a hunched over man covered in a shiny black suit that reflected the lights above them. Only this was no man. It’s way was too wide and looked deformed with large compound eyes that didn’t look like they could close. And it’s wings reminded her of a moth or something else like it she had seen in biology class. (1700/0) “I end my turn.”

Turn two: Spitfire

“Bad hand?” she asked while drawing (hand: six). “Too bad. I’ll step into attention with my Machina Gearframe!” Appearing on the field was a mostly orange android with white along its legs. Its hands were bulky, like they had weapons hidden within them, too bulky to be held on arms that thin. It looked at Pharynx with its single green eye that blinked over and over. (1800/0) “Modern warfare never had it this good. See, when this card is normal or special summoned I’m allowed to add one Machina monster from my deck to my hand. So I’ll be adding Machina Fortress.”

“Next I’ll discard my level 8 Machina Megaform to special summon Machina Fortress!” Grinning, Spitfire slid one card into her graveyard slot as a new monster rolled onto the field. It was a bright blue machine that was very tank-like. It came in on three treads, two large ones that ran up its sides and one in the middle that was smaller, with a large cannon next to its head. Sticking out of the treads were long arms with metallic fingers coming out. (2500/1600) “Next I’ll give my soldiers a boost with the spell card: Solidarity! As long as I have only one type of monster in my graveyard then all monsters on my field gain 800 additional attack points.”

“Now to battle! Machina Fortress, attack his Caller with Ion Cannon Stream!” Machina Fortress (3300/1600) began to lower its cannon as it began to glow a whitish blue, redirecting it towards Steelswarm Caller. Lightning clenched her teeth before closing her eyes and looking away. It was just too hard to watch. Her future was about to come crashing down. At least before she could have done something other than standing on the side lines like some helpless little girl.

“I activate my trap card,” announced Pharynx causing Lightning to look at the field once more. “Escalation of the Monarchs! This card allows me to tribute summon a monster once during either your main or battle phase! So I’ll tribute my Caller to bring out Steelswarm Mantis!” Everyone there watched as Caller began to dissolve into golden light, starting from the head down, before another monster stood in its place. It was a tall creature with the same black armored skin except around the chest which had a stream of blue running up from the waist to the neck area. It didn’t have hands, but instead claw like blades similar to its namesake. And on its back was a long swishing tail that seemed to be attracted to Pharynx. (2200/0)

“A monster with only 500 more attack won’t save you,” stated Spitfire with a frown. “Even Gearframe could mow it down.”

“Good thing I’m not relying solely on attack points,” said Pharynx with a ghost of a smile on his lips. “See, my monsters have some really interesting effects. When Caller is used a tribute summon for a Steelswarm monster, then I’m allowed to special summon one level 4 or lower Steelswarm monster from my deck. So I’m summoning another Steelswarm Caller in defense mode.” A dark, spiraling portal appeared on the field moments before the second Caller flew out of it and taking a knee when it landed “Then there is Mantis’ effect. When he is tribute summoned by tributing a Steelswarm monster then I can pay 1000 life points to special summon a Steelswarm monster in my graveyard. Meaning I can special summon my Caller back in defense mode.” As soon as Pharynx finished saying this, the end Mantis’ tail opened up like some sort of multi-toothed circular jaw. All eyes widened at this while the tail made something of a hissing noise right before it latched itself onto Pharynx’s side. The teen winced a little as Caller was returned to the field in a kneeing position.

Pharynx Life Points: 7000

“So, called in reinforcements,” commented Spitfire as Mantis’ tail released itself. Lightning could see the former captain looking over at the three monsters before her, examining the change in the field. “Fine then. I’ll redirect my attack to Mantis!”

“Not before I activate my other face down: Infestation Tool!” yelled Pharynx as his other card was filled face up. “Now I can send one Steelswarm monster in my deck to the graveyard in order to boost the attack points of one face up Steelswarm monster I control until the end phase. So I’ll boost my Mantis by sending my Steelswarm Moth in my deck to the graveyard.” From the trap, a bolt of lighting struck Mantis to raise its attack (2200 -> 3000) just before Fortress fired. But even with this power boost it was still no match for the fire power of the blue machine. Fortress’ attack left a large hole in Mantis’ chest right before it exploded.

Pharynx Life Points: 6700

Spitfire then let out a sigh. “Gearframe, take out one of his resurrected Callers!” Gearframe acted at once, raising both arms right before the fists shot out like rockets to destroy Caller. As the rocket arms returned, Spitfire’s frown became more visible. If Lightning had to guess why it was because she had expected to do a lot more damage that turn. “Alight, before I end my turn I’ll use the ability of Gearframe to equip itself to my Fortress.”

Lightning watched as Machina Gearframe raced to get behind Fortress, looking like he was getting into a mounted position to help aim the cannon. This was something Spitfire was well known for: union monsters. Monsters that could equip themselves onto other monsters, granting the equipped monster a bit of protection as well as sometimes giving an additional effect.

Turn 3: Pharynx

“I expected you’d do something like that,” said Pharynx as he drew his card (hand: 3). “Good thing I prepared for that.”

Spitfire continued to frown. “You’re bluffing,” she stated in a matter of fact tone.

“I’ll show you starting with this card: Recurring Nightmare. With this I can select 2 dark monsters in my graveyard with 0 defense and add them to my hand. So I’ll take back my Caller and Moth.”

“Oh, I see now,” said Spitfire as Pharynx’s duel disk spat out two cards from its graveyard slot. Lightning watched as Spitfire then pressed a button on her duel disk, looking up info on the two monsters her opponent had added. “You used that trap card as a Foolish Burial, sending a monster in your deck there so you could then add it to your hand. A decent move. But too bad for you Moth isn’t strong enough to destroy my Fortress. Even if it did or has an effect to destroy it, Gearframe will keep it on the field.”

“True, but destroying things isn’t the only way of getting them off the field,” said Pharynx as a grin. Both Lightning and Pharynx watched as Spitfire was visible surprised, taking a step back before turning her attention to the small monster remaining on her opponent’s field. “Let me show you: I tribute Steelswarm Caller to bring out Steelswarm Moth!” Caller quickly vanished from the field, being replaced by a larger but very slender monster. Like Mantis, its skin was like skinny black armor with exposed parts, but these areas were green instead of blue. Another thing it had in common with Mantis was its tail that was eerily close to Pharynx. Its wings were draped around it like a cloak. (2400/0)

“When summoned by tributing a Steelswarm monster its effect activates,” continued Pharynx right before Moth’s tail opened up and latched onto him. The teen looked like he was about to be knocked down but maintained his ground as he looked at Spitfire. “I give up 1000 life points to target two cards you control and send them back to your hand! So I’ll target your Fortress and Solidarity.”

Pharynx Life Points: 5700

“It’ll cost you more than some life points,” shouted Spitfire. “When Machina Fortress is targeted by my opponent’s card effect, I get to look at your hand and then discard one card from it.” As soon as she finished saying this, three holographic cards appeared before her floating in mid-air. She looked at them for a moment, before pressing one of them. “I’ll choose The Monarchs Erupt.” Nodding Pharynx slid the card from his hand into the graveyard as Moth spread its wings. Once fully extended a bizarre pattern appeared there and began to move about like a kaleidoscope. Fortress then turned around to face Spitfire, quickly moving its treads and knocking off Gearframe who landed onto the ground. As Gearframe shattered into a thousand pieces, Fortress returned to Spitfire’s hand as well as Solidarity.

“Don’t forget that there’s another effect going off,” said Pharynx as he began to go through his deck. “Caller lets me call forth a level four or lower Steelswarm monster. So I’ll bring out Steelswarm Sting!” Another portal appeared on the field and out came a black humanoid bee like monster with evil, yellowish eyes (1850/0).

“Now I attack you directly! Steelswarm Moth, you’re up first!” yelled Pharynx as he pointed at Spitfire. Moth bent its legs before launching itself towards Spitfire. When it landed in front of Spitfire, Moth wrapped its tail around her waist as it raised its hands next to her head sending supersonic waves towards her head.

Spitfire’s Life Points: 5600

Pharynx waited a moment, waiting to see if Spitfire could do anything after being attacked directly. When nothing happened he ordered Sting to attack. The second Steelswarm monster flew over to Spitfire, several needles shooting out of its stinger before being quickly replaced. Those projectiles hit the ground around her until one hit Spitfire in the chest, causing Lightning to grin and pump her fist in the air.

Spitfire’s Life Points: 3750

“I’ll set one card face down and end my turn,” finished Pharynx.

Turn 4: Spitfire

“My draw,” said Spitfire (hand: 6). The former captain looked at her card…and smiled. “Not bad, you managed to push me back a little there. But I’m far from done! I summon Machina Soldier in attack mode!” Landing on the ground in front of her was a large human shaped machine. It’s metal body was mostly green with its left hand replaced with a large blade. (1600/1500) “When Machina Soldier is normal summoned, and I have no other cards on my side of the field, he calls in the reinforcements from my hand. So Machina Fortress gets to roll out onto the field once again!” With that, Spitfire’s tank returned to the field.

“Next, I’ll give them both the backup they need by playing my Solidarity once more to increase their attack points by 800!” Spitfire smirked as sparks began to run over the bodies of both her machines, empowering them with the strength they didn’t normally possess. “Now I’ll get some payback at that Moth. Machina Fortress, let’s show him how we deal with bugs! Ion Cannon Stream!” Lightning watched as the blue tank’s cannon began to power up, locking onto Steelswarm Moth.

“I activate the effect of my trap card: Escalation of the Monarchs!” announced Pharynx. “And I’ll use it’s effect to tribute my Moth for Steelswarm Girastag!”

“You can’t!” Spitfire shot back. “I saw that card in your hand, remember? It’s a level seven monster meaning you’ll need to tribute two monsters!”

“Not if I use a Steelswarm monster as the tribute,” countered Pharynx as Girastag appeared where Moth had been standing. It was bigger, bulkier than both Mantis and Moth to the point where it took up most of the hallway. Like before it’s body was black only its exposed areas were orange. It also had a cannon in place of a left hand which the right was stroking in a loving fashion. As for its tail, it instantly opened up and attached itself to Pharynx. (2600/0)

“Giving up more life points for another edge?” demanded Spitfire.

“No,” replied Pharynx with a grin. “Girastag is different from most monsters in my deck. When tribute summoned using a Steelswarm monster, he sends one card you control to the grave and then gives me 1000 life points. And I’m getting rid of your Solidarity!” Lightning smirked as she saw the look of surprise on Spitfire’s face as Girastag pointed its cannon arm at her spell card. From it came a black, sticky looking tar like substance the reeked of rotten eggs which flew across the field before coating Solidarity. The card sank into the ground, ending its effects.

Pharynx Life Points: 6700

“I…I redirect the attack to Sting,” Spitfire said through gritted teeth as Fortress’ cannon turned. Within seconds it fired, blasting a hole right through Sting.

Pharynx Life Points: 6050

“I’ll set one card face down and end my turn,” finished Spitfire.

Turn 5: Pharynx

“Then I draw!” announced Pharynx. (hand: 2) “Prefect. I play the spell card Allure of Darkness. This card allows me to draw two cards and then banish one dark monster from my hand. But if I can’t then my entire hand is banished.” Two cards slid out from the top of his deck, which he took and looked at. “Ok, I’ll banish my Caller for cost. Then I’ll play my copy of Recurring Nightmare. Now I can bring back two more dark monsters to my hand as long as they both have zero defense points. I think I’ll take back one of my Caller’s and Moth.” Calmly, Pharynx took the two cards from his graveyard slot before adding them to his hand.

“Now I summon back to the field Steelswarm Caller in attack mode.” As Caller appeared on the field in front of Girastag, Spitfire gave it a look of loathing. “Now to battle. Girastag, send that tank to the scrap yard!” The large monster grinned at the command, showing off his sharp razor-like teeth. He raised his weapon hand up at Fortress and fired, sending more of the tar like substance at it. All three teens watched as the substance began to melt and eat away at the armor until it exploded.

Spitfire’s Life Points: 3650

However, that wasn’t all that happened. Shooting from the explosion was a metal orb that pulsated with whitish energy. When it landed on the ground there was a metallic clacking noise along with a crack as it rolled over to Pharynx’s side of the field.

“If my Fortress is going down then its taking one of your cards with it!” announced Spitfire as she trusted her hand forward. “When it’s destroyed by battle and set to the graveyard then I can target one of your cards and destroy it as well. Escalation of the Monarchs, say good bye.” With that, the orb exploded right under Pharynx’s trap card. The explosion pushed the teen boy back a bit while his card’s holographic form shattered into thousands of bits.

“I still have an attack left,” said Pharynx. “Steelswarm Caller, take out that tin soldier!” Caller didn’t need to be told twice. Using its wings, it buzzed across the field as its nails grew longer and began to drip a purple liquid.

“I activate my trap card: Roll Out!” yelled Spitfire. “Thanks to this card, I can equip one of my monsters with a union monster resting in the graveyard. So Gearframe, help out Machina Soldier!” Bursting from the ground appeared Gearframe, looking a little worse for wear but still in one piece. It placed both of its hands behind Soldier as if to help brace for the attack that was still underway. Caller’s nails slashed into Soldier’s chest, leaving melted scar marks that shot out sparks. But instead of being destroyed, Gearframe raced in front of it and began to give parts of its own armor in order to keep it on the field. When it was finished, both machines gave each other thumbs up before Machina Gearframe vanished.

Spitfire’s Life Points: 3550

“Alright then,” said Pharynx as he looked at his hand for a moment. “I’ll set one card face down and turn it over to you.”

Turn Six: Spitfire

“Then I’ll draw,” she said (hand: 3) Spitfire looked at her card before looking up at her opponent. “I have to say, never expected someone like you to be so tough. It’s been a while since anyone has pushed me this far into a corner. And with no extra deck monsters to boot. Not too bad.” Pharynx didn’t say anything, only nodding in response as Spitfire continued. “Just a pity who you’re doing all this for. What she’s done.”

Lightning clenched her fist again. While she was glad that Spitfire had been keeping her word and not saying anything, she knew what that jab was meant to do. To peak Pharynx’s curiosity. To make him wonder or even doubt if he was doing the right thing. Maybe even to get him to ask what she had done to earn such ire for Spitfire.

“I know all about what happened,” replied Pharynx with a shrug. Not being able to miss the shocked expressions on both girl’s faces, he continued. “Or, at least, the official on-the-books version. Remember I’ve worked with Bon-Bon nearly everyday since freshman year, getting complaints about Lightning all the time. I heard all about what happened freshman year.”

Spitfire looked at him, looking utter confused. “B-But if you know all that, then why not let me tell the others?”

Once again, the teen boy shrugged. “Plenty of reasons I guess,” he said in an offhanded tone. “She’s a member of my team so I’m looking out for her. It’s like with my brother. I might not get into all that touchy-feely crap he’s into and he’s too nice for his own good at times. We might not always see eye to eye but that doesn’t mean I’ll just sit back and let others bully him! So until she actually does something to hurt the team then I’ll stick up for her.” He then paused for a moment, making a face as he did so. “Oh and if she does get kicked off the team right now we might not be able to find someone else to replace her. Then I’m stuck going to one of those saccharine retreats.”

Lightning looked at Pharynx, feeling something odd in her chest. It felt…different from the anger she normally felt. The last time she felt like this was when she had first met Rainbow. When she had first found someone who she could connect with, someone she felt was on her side. Like a friend.

“Well soldier, normally I’d respect an attitude like that,” commented Spitfire. “Heck if you were a member on any team back when I was a captain of, I’d be proud to hear something like that.” At her words, Lightning clenched her fists once again while grinding her teeth. “But Lightning; she’s no good. And I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that the rest of the members on your team know that. Even if it means taking you down.”

“Funny, I could say the same about you,” replied Pharynx. “I take the security of this school very seriously so there is a part of me that admires how far you’re willing to go to keep people here safe. But on the other hand, this feels more like a petty grudge or something.”

Spitfire just shook her head. “Once this duel is over, you’ll understand everything,” she said. “I play the spell card, Monster Reborn, to bring back Machina Fortress!” Just like that, her tank returned to the field. “Next I’ll play the spell card: Iron Draw! If I have exactly two machine type monsters on my side of the field and nothing else then I get to draw two cards. However, I can only special summon one more time after this.” Calmly, Spitfire drew her cards. “Now I will normal summon Machina Sniper to the field in attack mode!” Appearing on her field in front of Fortress was a tanned colored android with an almost coned shaped head and rounded shoulders that carried a weapon that looked more like a light up toy than something for war. (1800/800)

“Planning on bringing out your decks big boss?” asked Pharynx. Lightning knew exactly what he was talking about. Machina Force. A monster with 4600 attack points…and nothing else with all the set up required to bring it out. It’s only effect was that it cost Spitfire 1000 of her own life points to attack.

“Can’t,” replied Spitfire with a shrug. “Don’t have the rest of the pieces in my hand. But what I do have is this: Limiter Removal.” She picked the card out from her hand, holding it up with a grin on her face. “You know what this card does, right? It doubles the attack of all machine monsters on the field until the end of the turn. Then they’re all destroyed.”

“Yeah, that’s why I activate my trap card: Lost Winds!” replied Pharynx quickly as his card was flipped face up. “This card allows me to select one card on the field that was special summoned and halve its attack points. Oh, and as an added bonus; its effects are also negated. Since Machina Fortress is the one who was special summoned then it has to be my target!”

“Doesn’t bother me,” smirked Spitfire as she played her spell card. As soon as she did, her monsters began to fidget while sparks began to fly from their joints. To add to it, Soldier and Sniper grew twice their normal size so that their heads almost touched the ceiling. “Soldier, attack Steelswarm Girastag!” Machina Soldier (3200) raised its bladed arm as it leapt into the air, its weapon vibrating so much that it could be felt in Lightning’s teeth. As the machine began to return to earth it stuck out its blade right before impaling it into Girastag’s chest.

Pharynx Life Points: 5450

“Now Sniper, take out his last bug!” shouted Spitfire as she pointed at Caller. Machina Sniper didn’t leap through the air, but instead took a knee as the lights on its weapon began to glow. Brighter and brighter it became until a solid blast of light shot out of it which hit Steelswarm Caller so hard that it was thrown back several feet and destroyed before it ever hit the ground.

Pharynx Life Points: 3550

Spitfire was now grinning broader than ever as she pointed to Pharynx himself. “Machina Fortress, attack him directly!” The attack was swift, so much so that the teen boy didn’t even have time to raise his arms to shield his face.

Pharynx Life Points: 1050

“With that, I’ll end my turn,” said Spitfire as her monsters began to explode around her. Still, Lightning got a bad feeling about all this. Spitfire just gave up all of her monsters without any spells or trap card to protect her for the next turn. So why did she look so calm? The answer came very quickly. As the smoke cleared around her, a new monster rose up from the ground behind her. Due to the tight space they were in, the holograms couldn’t show everything. But due to the amount of room it was taking up, Lightning knew it was big. The thing looked like a larger Machina Fortress, only it had long arms that reached across the field and its cannon looked like it was meant to shoot the moon.

“Meet Machina Megaform (2600/1500),” said Spitfire as she gestured to the machine behind her. “This big guy has an effect where I can special summon him from the grave when Machina Fortress is destroyed. All it costs me is removing that Fortress. Well, lets see you deal with this.”

Turn Seven: Pharynx

“I’ll find a way. Draw.” (hand: 2) He looked at what he had drawn for a moment before setting in on the field face down. “All I can do for right now is place a monster in defense mode and end my turn.

Turn Eight: Spitfire

“Well you did your best,” said Spitfire as she drew (hand: 2). “I summon to the field Scrap Recycler in attack mode.” Appearing on the field was a monster that could best be described as a motorized trash can. It moved about on two large wheels, spewing white smoke behind it as two claws felt around for litter on the ground (900/1200) “This guy has two effects. First, when its summoned I can send one machine from my deck to the grave. For that I’ll send Machina Force. Next, once per turn I can return two level four earth machine type monsters back into my deck to draw a card. So I’ll recycle my loyal Soldier and Sniper.” After returning the cards, her duel disk shuffled up her deck before a single card on the top was ejected. Spitfire took it before looking a little dejected. “Hmm, not the card I wanted. Oh well. Megaform, destroy his defense.”

The arms of Megaform began to move so that its hands were on either side of Pharynx’s face down creature. As if it were meant to keep it from escaping as it lowered its cannon towards the ground. There was no build up this time, just an instant plasma beam that hit the ground so hard and fast that Lightning didn’t have a chance to see the monster explode. All she knew was that the backlash of the attack pressed her against the wall.

“Now Scrap Recycler, attack him directly!” Scrap’s attack was not as big, flashy, or as powerful. It simply opened up a mouth between its wheels before bits of scrap metal were flung at Lightning’s teammate before Scrap went around to pick it up.

Pharynx Life Points: 150

“Now it won’t matter if you do manage to summon out one of your tribute monsters,” said Spitfire as she crossed her arms under her breasts. “Not enough life points to do anything. Go ahead and make your final draw.”

Turn Nine: Pharynx

“We’ll see. Draw!” announced Pharynx (hand: 2). As he drew his card, the floor before him began to crack horribly before a head burst out. It was small and black, looking back and forth with large goggles on its head. It then jumped out of the ground where it then took a knee, crossing its arms across its chest as it did so.

“Where did that thing come from?!” demanded Spitfire as she looked at it.

“From the graveyard,” explained Pharynx. “You destroyed Steelswarm Scout last turn. And he has this nice effect which says that if I don’t have any cards in my spell and trap card zones, then he can be special summoned. Something that helps me out with this card I just drew: Inferno Reckless Summon! Since a monster with less than 1500 attack points was special summoned to my side of the field, I can bring out as many as I want from my hand, deck, or even the graveyard. Well, as long as you control a monster. Which you do. It’s only down side is that you can search your deck as well and summon any copies of either of your monsters.”

“Crap,” swore Spitfire as she looked at her deck, making it clear she only had one copy of each of her two monsters. As Lightning let out a sigh of relief, two more copies of Steelswarm Scout appeared in defense position on Pharynx’s side of the field (200/0)

“I end my turn,” finished Pharynx.

Turn Ten: Spitfire

“That was a lucky draw,” said Spitfire as she drew her card (hand: 3)

“I won’t argue with that,” replied Pharynx with a shrug.

“Well, that luck won’t help you out much longer because I summon Red Gadget in attack mode!” declared Spitfire as her monster appeared on the field. It was a red, bulky thing with a large silver gear on its back (1300/1500). “This monster has the effect to add one Yellow Gadget to my hand when its summoned,” continued Spitfire as her duel disk spat out the card. “So next turn I know I’ll be able to take you out. ALL MONSTERS! DESTROY HIS FIELD WITH AN ALL OUT ATTACK!” What happened next was swift as well as destructive as each attacked Pharynx’s monsters. None survived, not even the one who was hit upside the head by Red Gadget’s large gear. “I end my turn.”

Turn Eleven: Pharynx

“Then I draw,” said Pharynx as he drew (hand: 2) while his three mini Steelswarms burst out the ground happily before taking a knee. “I play a copy of Allure of Darkness to draw two cards then banish one dark monster from my hand.” Lightning watched as Pharynx looked at his deck, his expression unreadable from where he stood. But she could guess. She had seen plenty of duelists in the past look at their deck, pausing for a moment as they did so. They were hoping for that magical draw that would help give them the win, that one card that could turn it all around. But, Lightning had to wonder, what card could help him get out of this jam?

Eventually he took the two cards, brought them up to his face, and grinned. “I banish Steelswarm Moth for the cost of Allure of Darkness,” he said before pocketing the monster. “Next, I tribute all three of my Scout’s to summon my decks big boss: Steelswarm Hercules!” At once, all three Scout’s were struck by red lightning while the ceiling of the hallway began to darken with black mist. Then a face appeared. It was huge. Black and yellow, with merciless red eyes that looked down at the field with a sense of giddiness that did not sit well with either of the girls. And coming form behind Pharynx was another tail, but one that looked like it was about to swallow him whole. Still it latched onto him, molding onto his back almost perfectly. (3200/0)

Spitfire let out a whistle as she looked up. “Damn, that must be a big sucker. Almost makes me wish we were dueling outside to get a good look at it. So, what does this one do? Force you to give up life points till you only have one and add them to himself?”

“No,” said Pharynx as he braced himself. “Hercules has the effect that, by paying half of my life points, he destroys all other cards on the field.

Pharynx Life Points: 75

The teen boy’s body jerked backwards as his life points were sucked away, drained to feed his monster. As it did, red lightning began strike the ground in an almost random pattern. Slowly, one by one, each of Spitfire’s monster’s were hit and exploded instantly. Finally, Spitfire stood there alone facing Steelswarm Hercules.

“Now I’ll play my last card: Sword of Dark Rites,” finished Pharynx as he slid the card into the spell and trap card slot. “I can equip this card to Steelswarm Hercules and he gains 400 attack points. Just enough to give me the win!” Spitfire only had enough time to look shocked as a single bolt of red lightning struck her cheek, knocking her down to the ground.

Spitfire Life Points: 0

Winner: Pharynx

Grinning, Lightning approached Pharynx not knowing that, in the shadows, someone had watched the entire thing.