• Published 15th Aug 2019
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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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Appleloosa High

Luna sat within her seat on the bus that had been on the road for the better part of two hours. This wasn’t the fancy buses or limos provided to the students at Crystal Prep, with heated personal seats or music coming out of the speakers. No, this was a standard school bus that normally had two to three students sharing the patched up seats. This was a bus with poor heating and everyone inside bounced at least a foot whenever there was a bump in the road. Thankfully not all of the buses that the school had were this bad, but it was the best Luna could get. All of the other buses were in use, either dropping students home or taking them to other events.


Thankfully the ride was just about done as they drove through historic Appleloosa. Glancing out the window, Luna looked out at a town had a vast western movie feel to it. With long boardwalk like areas were several ma and pa businesses with the buildings having a similar appearance to them. Homes they passed had an old colonial or Victorian feel to them, all in good condition with massive yard space between them. At first glance, a person passing through this town would think that it was stuck in the past. However, Luna had been here plenty of times in the past seeing the apartment complexes (which also had an old fashioned appearance to them despite having all the modern convenience of everyday life) as well a few gated communities. The reason for choice in aesthetics was due to the populace’s desire to honor the town’s history. Appleloosa had been a major trading hub back during the old pioneer days. It started off with people bringing with them fur pelts, metal ores, and various livestock to trade in the busy hub until folks just started setting down their roots in the surrounding area. As time went by and more trading towns popped up, Appleloosa kept people coming to them with their yearly events like horse races and rodeos which were still held to this day.


As they drove deeper into the town, Luna began to see signs of that famous Appleloosa pride. Large banners had been erected over stores and across light posts, cheering on the school’s duel team. People were walking towards the school with their faces painted in the schools colors of brown and red while carrying blankets. Some were even pulling coolers with them as they chatted with friends who had with them large brown bags no doubt full of snacks. Searchlights were active, lighting up the area where the school was.


Seeing that they would soon be nearing their destination, Luna turned in her seat to look upon her charges. All six students were scattered across the bus with only Hunter and Moondancer sitting next to each other. Both were reading books, but from what Luna could see Hunter’s leg was bouncing up and down in a nervous fashion. Autumn Blaze had her headphones on as she listened to music from her Ipod seeming lost to the music for the time being. Wallflower had sat in the seat across from Autumn. Every time Luna had looked upon the bus she had seen Wallflower either shooting nervous glances at Autumn or looking like she was trying to muster up her courage to sit next to her. Neither seemed to have happened. Pharynx was sitting with an open bag sitting next to him, reaching in to pull out a sandwich. Then there was Lightning Dust, sitting by herself as well with her arms crossed.


As she looked at the former athlete, the events of earlier that day returned to the Vice-Principal.


flashback


“Baseless accusations!” could be heard around the door leading to Vice-Principal Luna’s office right before the door opened. Standing at the threshold was Coach Iron Will, the blue man’s head looking inward as his hand gripped the door handle. Veins were clearly visible on his bare arms while his teeth gritted with clear anger. “The nerve of it all! You can be sure that I’ll be taking this up with Principal Celestia!” With that said, Iron Will walked out of the door and closed the door with such force that the glass rattled in its frame.


Much to her credit, Luna did not flinch or show any sign of fear. Not when the door slammed or even during the heated talk. She had had too many dealings of such things from heated students and angered parents to keep her expression stone worthy. It was only when the door had fully closed as well as the loud talk of indignation coming from the coach that Luna allowed herself to sigh while placing a single hand on her forehead. It was a shame. When their talk had begun less than a half an hour ago the tone had been met with friendly professional courtesy.


Ever since Spitfire had come into her office and the duel between her and Pharynx a few days ago, Luna had spent the following three days trying to uncover more about what had happened with Lightning Dust. Most of what she had found that had not been documented were simple rumor and hearsay. Normally that alone wouldn’t have raised any mental alarms with the Vice Principal. Yet when added together with the things that weren’t done when dealing with students like Lightning Dust caused her to worry. Normally when a student’s behavior on a team becomes a problem, it was the coach’s duty to speak with the student followed by his or her parents if the problem continued. But as Luna dug through the last few years of documentation, there was nothing. No notes detailing a meeting or even warning slips to Lightning. There was simply nothing.


Thus the reason she had gained today’s headache. Luna had decided to give Coach Iron Will the chance to set the record straight. Perhaps he had forgotten to submit the forms to the appropriate office or had gotten lost. At first he had claimed to not remember since it had been a while. Yet the more Luna had pressed, the more Iron Will seemed to squirm under her questions until finally he had exploded in a rage.


For a moment, Luna sat there with her fingers folded upon her desk while she collected her thoughts. Something had happened, something that a person in Luna’s position should have been on sooner. She did not dismiss her guilt by claiming that Lightning had never approached her or her sister with this issue, but she did think that Lightning should have. Nor did this grant Lightning instant forgiveness for her past actions towards other students in the hallways. It might even be too late to really do anything about, save for taking steps to ensure that this never happened again.


The ringing of her phone pulled Luna from her thoughts. Looking down, she saw that it was Celestia. “Hello, sister,” she said on answering it. “How is the conference?”


“Fine,” came the slightly out of breath answer. Luna frowned a bit. Why was Celestia out of breath right now? Her wondering on the matter didn’t get much further as Celestia continued. “But I did just get a call from Iron Will. He seemed pretty upset, thinking you were trying to take over the school or something.”


“Guess he couldn’t wait,” sighed Luna as she shook her head. “Don’t worry, your job is safe. Something just came to my attention about what happened a few years ago and wanted Iron Will to answer a few questions.”


“Oh?” came the response. “Mind explaining?”


“Maybe when you get back,” replied Luna as she glanced at the clock. Seeing the lateness of the hour she mentally swore to herself. Standing up, Luna reached across the desk for her deck. “We’ll discuss this more when we’re face to face. I have to be leaving. The duel against Appleloosa is tonight.”


“Right,” said Celestia slowly, a note of understanding in her voice. Luna could practically see her sister smiling as if she were right in front of her. “Well then, good luck to you and your team. I’m sure that-” Celestia was suddenly cut off as the sound of a door loudly opening behind her was heard followed by loud, festive music. Music that involved steel drums mixed in with the laughter of many people.


“Hey Celestia,” came a loud, slushed voice in the background. Luna’s eyes narrowed as she pulled her phone back to glare at it. “You just disappeared. Missing the luau! Come on, I saved you a couple of drinks!”


“Ah,” was all Celestia had to say, very clear panic in her voice as Luna brought the phone back to her ear.


“Sister,” she said in an icy tone. “It sounds like there’s a party going on. I thought you were at the Leaders in Education conference. Six days of non-stop boring lectures if I am not mistaken.”


“Well I am,” said Celestia loudly over a sudden increase in voice. It sounded like she was now surrounded by a large group of laughing party goers, the volume of the music rising more and more. “It’s just that this year it happens to be in Hawaii. I told you that, right?”


Luna could not frown any deeper if she tried. “No. No you did not,” she said as she took a deep breath that was meant to calm her. It, however, failed miserably. Had she known that little tidbit of information, she might, no, would have gone to the conference when Celestia had made the offer. Heck, her big sister had totally misrepresented it. In fact, how many of these out-of-state conferences had she told Luna were boring just so she could go alone. With the press of a button, Luna hung up on Celestia while making a mental promise to not take this lying down.


end flashback


“I’ll find some way to get you back for that, sister,” swore Luna under her breath as the bus took a sharp turn. Glancing up through the front window, Luna spotting their destination right ahead. A long brick building that did not have the same western or old fashioned appearance like all of the other buildings. Not as modern or flashy as something like Crystal Prep, but it did have large fields surrounding it for various physical sports. In the school’s parking lot, food vendors had set up stands and large BBQ pits had been created for this night. Students, parents, and perhaps many of the locals had all gathered here in a sort of community celebration. Much like they did with every home game or event.


“Alright everyone, we’re here,” said Luna as she stood up, taking hold of her seat to keep balance as the bus slowly moved through the parking lot. She paused for a moment to allow everyone’s attention to shift towards her, speaking again once she believed she had it. “Remember, while this still isn’t an official team outing; I expect all of you to act accordingly. If I see any ill behavior or rule breaking there will be consequences when we return. Is that clear?” A muffled response soon followed as the bus came to a complete stop. Figuring this was as good as she was going to get, Luna coughed in her closed fist before speaking again. “Well then, since we have a little bit of time before the match starts, how about you all look around and get something to eat if you haven’t already. I’ll send you all a text message when it’s time to report to the duel field.”


With that, her students began to rise and file out of the bus. Luna watched each of them as they left, but always making sure to keep an eye on Lightning. Part of it was because she feared the aggressive girl might start a fight or get into some sort of trouble. However, that might have been an unjustified fear since this was her big chance to actually be on a team. The other part being desire to sit down and talk to her. It was an internal battle she had been having ever since she had started looking into what had happened back in freshman year. Right now she wanted to talk to her, find out what happened from her point of view as well as just talking to her. Maybe saying something that might help her feel better or just something to let her know she wasn’t alone. But was this really the best time? When she was still trying to sort stuff out of her own end? Then, just like that, Lightning was off the bus.


“Well howdy there stranger,” came a very familiar and loud welcome. Looking out the open bus door, Luna spotted a man whom she had known since she and her sister were very young: Silverstar. It was almost like looking at an older version of Star Hunter, only Silverstar had blue eyes instead of Hunter’s unique yellow ones with slits for pupils. He also had a long, thick black mustache. The man wore a pair of dusty jeans with a light blue, button up shirt as well as a dark blue vest which had large silver buttons on it. To complete his rugged outdoor appearance the man had a dirty red handkerchief tied around his neck. He grinned broadly at Luna while extending a hand to help her out of the bus.


“Silverstar,” greeted Luna as she accepted the hand. “So good of you to welcome me.”


“Always a pleasure ma’am,” replied Silverstar as Luna stepped into the open air. The scent of the food around her being cooked hit her tenfold. The wonderful odors bringing thoughts of fairs or backyard barbeques she had been to when she was younger. “Glad ta see ya making your rounds in the Duel Team Circuit. Are ya the dueling coach or is there some other fella on the bus?”


“Just me,” replied Luna with a slight shrug. “Celestia is off at that conference-”


“In Hawaii, I know,” interrupted Silverstar with a playful eye roll. “Every time Thunderhooves was in the teacher’s lounge he just had to bring it up. Never pegged the man for the sun and surf lifestyle, but there you go. Hopefully they’ll be doing whatever they do at those functions. Never went to one myself, but I hear the talking part is awfully dull.” The man shook his head. “But hey, we can still have a good old time. How many years has it been since you an’ me had a good throwdown with cards?”


“Too long. If memory serves, it was when we were all at Camp Everfree,” said Luna with a smile right before her stomach growled. Not just a soft one, but a loud gargling noise that brought a rosy color to the woman’s cheeks.


“Can’t have that before a big duel now can we?” said Silverstar with a hint of a laugh in his voice as he offered Luna his arm. “Come along now, it’ll be my treat for our special guest. We can spend some time catching up as we chow down on my famous baby back ribs. Make them myself before every event and they run out like hot cakes in the winter. But no drilling me for information on my team, ya hear?”


“Wouldn’t dream of it,” replied Luna as she accepted the arm. As her arm connected with his, the Vice-Principal noticed something out of the corner of her eye. It was only for a moment, but she was sure she had seen a flash of yellow as well as a rainbow off in the crowd. She stood there for a moment wondering if it was who she thought it was. Or, was her mind just playing tricks on her.


“Something wrong?” asked Silverstar looking into the crowd with a frown on his face. His eyes became sharper as he searched for any signs of something wrong.


“No,” said Luna slowly as she gestured for them to continue. “Now, how has this school been treating you? Last I heard you were teaching High School Law.” As they walked Luna decided she would let it go and enjoy her time before the big duel. Just spending time with an old friend, reliving old time and eating a full slab of baby back ribs! If what she thought she saw was correct then she would deal with it then. Harshly.


“How is this place still standing?” muttered Pharynx as the students from Canterlot walked together in a group. Hunter eyed the only other guy in the group curiously as his head was turning this way and that, as if to scan everything in sight. “The fire pit is way too far from any of the fire suppression equipment. Heck, what I’ve seen there’s barely enough for a single fire. If multiple ones start up then this place is screwed royally. And the food stands! They are completely open! All it would take is one nut job to spike the food and drinks with something and-”


“You’re a little paranoid, aren’t you,” commented Autumn as she walked near him with her arms behind her back. “Come on and just relax. We’re guests here so we should enjoy ourselves. Look, they have those elephant ears over there. You want one?”


Hunter looked in the direction that Autumn was looking and, indeed, there was a stand selling the carnival favorite. Not that it was hard to miss with its yellow and red colored banners with pictures of buffalo’s on the windows. But not just elephant ears with tons of powdered sugar sprinkled on top. They were also selling things like caramel covered apples, deep fried pickles, deep fried twinkies, chicken on a stick, corndogs, and so on. Plenty of stuff to warm you up from the inside on a cold night like this. Glancing at Pharynx, he saw that the teen was shaking his head.


“No thanks,” said Pharynx as he turned to his side and folded his arms.


“Suit yourself,” said Autumn as she suddenly turned around to take a hold of Wallflower’s hand. The green skinned girl looked almost shocked at this, as if she had expected them to forget that she was there again. Her cheeks began to burn red as Autumn pulled her towards a stand not too far away. “Lets get some of that pulled pork! It smells delicious!”


“O-Ok,” was the only thing that everyone heard Wallflower say before being dashed towards one of the lines.


As the group watched, Lightning let out a hum before shaking her head. “You know, I think we’re all sort of getting used to that ghost girl. No longer surprised when she pops up behind us or just appears to the side or whatever.” Slowly she placed both hands behind her head, sticking out her chest a bit in the process. “Well, whatever. I’m going to grab me some carbs before the matches start. See you losers later.”


Hunter made no response as Lightning walked away, noting only briefly that she shot a brief glance back at them. It was only for a moment as if she expected them to tag along behind her or to call out to her for something. Once the moment had passed he saw her arms return to her sides and her stride having less energy than normal in it. Hunter didn’t mull over it for very long. Since accepting being part of the team, Hunter had seen her act like this plenty of times. Perhaps her aggressive front was beginning to weaken.


As he felt Moondancer pulling on his arm to get something to eat as well, Hunter felt the hair on the back of his neck begin to rise. He felt like a pair of eyes were boring into his back causing him to skid to a halt. As Moondancer looked at him to ask what was wrong, Hunter began to look around. At first nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Most of the people around them were either walking about and talking or sitting in groups as they ate their meals. Laughter was everywhere as well as excited talks about the matches that were about to happen, nearly all of them signaling that Canterlot didn’t stand a chance. A few passerby’s were giving him, Moondancer, and Pharynx questioning looks but seemed to move on with their lives fairly quickly.


Then, Hunter spotted him. It was a teenage boy around their age with gold colored skin, sitting on a bale of hay with a masked expression on his face as he stared fixated at Hunter. Once he saw that Hunter had spotted him, he did not try to look away or even pretend that he hadn’t been staring at him. Instead he rose to his full height of seven feet tall, towering over most people and proceeded to walk towards him. He wore dusty cowboy boots along with a pair of jeans, a white button up shirt, and a brown vest. His hair was mostly hidden underneath his Stetson hat, but Hunter could make out a yellowish color as well as amber around the sides. On his belt, a deck box was firmly attached with a red apple sticker placed firmly in the middle.


As the teen moved towards him, Hunter felt like he had seen this guy before. But how? He had never been to Appleloosa before. Not even passing near it. And it was too far out of the way for them to have bumped into each other at places like the mall. Maybe he had seen him on TV or something?


Finally the teen stopped in front of Hunter, looking down at him and the others. “Howdy,” he said.


“Ah, hi,” replied Hunter as the teen before him crossed his arms across his chest.


“Pardon my rudeness for staring at ya’ll,” continued the teen as he then leaned to the side, shifting his weight onto his left leg. “But I couldn’t help it. Are you, by chance, related to a rattler by the name of Star Chaser?”


The words hit Hunter like a ton of bricks as a wave of dread washed over him. Yeah, it had to be something like that. This was the reason he didn’t want to be here.


“I’m his brother,” said Hunter, watching the other teen’s eyes narrowing at him in clear dislike. It was clear that Chaser had left his usual bad impression on him. “Look, whatever he did-”


“I dueled him at regional’s a few years back,” interrupted the teen with bitterness in his voice as he placed his hands on his hips. “Down to the top six when I faced him. Mighty proud of how far I got till then. Never got to make a single move, over and done with thanks to that burn damage. Would have been ok with that too if he didn’t spend the rest of the night rubbing it in my face, talking about how great he was and what an ‘honor’ it was to be beaten by someone like him. Then I hear tale about how he likely cheated the entire time!” Now the teen had moved much closer, causing both Hunter and Moondancer to take a step back while Pharynx stood his ground. “Cheated me out of more than a single match. Now I’ll never know how if I could have placed! No time machine to fix that mess. So understand that dueling against his brother don’t sit right with me.”


“Hold on,” said Moondancer as she stepped forward while Hunter hung his head low. “You can’t blame Hunter for something his brother did!”


The teen side stepped Moondancer, his gaze fixed on Hunter. “Some rotten apples fall mighty close to each other,” he spat. “When I look at you, all I see is him! So I’ll be keeping an eye on you and if I see any funny stuff then your entire team is out of here.” With that, he turned and walked away.


As he did, Moondancer stomped her foot into the ground before pivoting around to look at her boyfriend. “Hunter, what was that? Why didn’t you defend yourself?”


“It wouldn’t have mattered,” replied Hunter with a shrug. “Chaser is an ass and pissed off a lot of people back when he was dueling. They want another shot at him, to take him down a peg hoping it will make something in the past better. Since he’s now in jail for a very long time they’ll never get that chance. So instead they’ll go after his brother. That corruption that they’re feeling, I understand it completely.” With that Hunter turned and began to walk away in the opposite direction the teen came from. “Besides, it’s not like I don’t see Chaser every time I look in the mirror.”


“This is going to be so good!” cried Autumn as she fought to contain herself. She and Wallflower where in probably one of the longer lines, whiffing in the scent of the pulled pork as Autumn bounced on her heels. With each step they took, that scent grew stronger and more mouth watering. Watching people ahead of them Autumn could see them walking away with their delicious prizes in hand, dripping with BBQ sauce and bits of onion. As for Wallflower, she was pressing her fingers together in a nervous fashion as her stomach growled.


Finally they reached the front of the line where the scent was the strongest. Literally steams of odor flew into both their noses, causing them to inhale deeply. As the two girls exhaled they mirrored the same dreamy expression while slumping forward a bit. Neither girl seemed to care if the rest of the world judged them at that moment as they stumbled towards the man behind the counter.


“What can I get for ya sweetheart,” he asked in a chummy fashion.


“I’ll take two of those pulled pork sandwiches with extra sauce and a cola,” said Autumn as she quickly pulled out the money.


“And I’ll have-”


“Coming right up,” interrupted the man, cutting off Wallflower as he turned around to make the sandwiches. When his back was turned, Wallflower hunched over a bit more while a more depressed look came across her face. Sighing the green girl placed a hand on the top of her head before slowly bringing it down.


“Hey, don’t look so glum,” said Autumn with a nervous laugh. Calmly she wrapped an arm around Wallflower’s shoulder to help her stand upright. “Maybe he just didn’t want to get bogged down with orders or something. I’m sure once he’s done with me he’ll take our order.” Not even a moment later did the man turn back around with two wrapped sandwiches and an off brand soda that looked cold to the touch.


“There you go,” he said before glancing around both girls. He brought a hand up to his mouth, ready to call on the next person, but Autumn raised a hand to get his attention. The man slowly lowered his hand before looking at the lion haired girl questioningly. “Something wrong with your order?”


“No,” replied Autumn, earning a frown for the pulled pork man. “But, you see, you missed my friend here.” As she said this, Autumn gestured to a glum looking Wallflower who wasted looking at the vendor. The man did a bit of a double take at this.


“I didn’t see her there before,” he said confused. He seemed to think about it for a moment before shaking his head. “Sorry kid, but no line cutting. Back of the line and wait your turn like everyone else.”


“Ok,” said Wallflower with a sigh. But as she moved to leave, Autumn placed a hand on her shoulder to hold her in place. At the same time she kept her gaze on the man before her.


“I said you forgot my friend,” repeated Autumn more firmly feeling anger beginning to build within her. “She was standing next to me the entire time. Heck, she even tried to say something when you turned around to get me my meal. So why should she have to wait through this line all over again!?”


“And I said I didn’t see her there!” repeated the man, his voice rising slightly. “One moment she’s not there and the next moment, poof, she’s there standing next to you. I don’t serve line cutters. This is supposed to be a fun night ok. Just go to the back, wait your turn, and you’ll get your sandwich.”


“Autumn, it’s fine,” said Wallflower as Autumn Blaze began to grind her teeth. “I’m used to this. Let’s just go somewhere else.”


Autumn stared at the man who just stood there, arms folded while jerking his head to the side. The message was clear: Take a hike. Behind her, people were beginning to complain. Shouts could be heard telling her to get out of the way. But all Autumn could do was stand there as her anger began to ignite within her. It was not ok, not by a long shot! When someone stands this long in a line they deserve to be served! Plus given the fact that he didn’t notice Wallflower the first time, what’s to say that the same thing wouldn’t happen again! It could happen again and again in some sort of endless loop. Not to mention that they were both hungry and the food was right in front of them!


Feeling the heat rising inside her, Autumn reached for the can ready to throw it in the guy’s face. But the moment she took a hold of the can, as well as realizing what she was thinking about doing, she froze. Glancing to the side, she could see her teammate fearfully looking back. So, closing her eyes, Autumn took a deep breath. When she finished, Autumn put on the fakest smile she had. Judging by everyone’s reaction, they probably thought she had gone crazy.


“You know what Wallflower, let’s go someplace else,” said Autumn as she let go of the drink. In a flash she grabbed her money back from the man who looked on in alarm and surprise. “Someplace that knows how to treat its customers.” With that, she led Wallflower by the arm away from the stand.


“A-Are you ok,” asked Wallflower as the man began shouting at them. But already his words were being drowned out by the crowd as they moved further and further away, their stomachs rumbling as they did so.


Autumn didn’t answer right away, instead glancing this way and that. Scanning the place for- AHA! Wordlessly she jerked Wallflower towards a large steel bucket full of water, ice, and soda cans floating at the top. Around it, people were reaching in, only to quickly jerk their hands out due to the cold, waving them around as if doing that in the cold air might somehow warm them. not that Autumn cared about that. She just zoomed in on the bucket as she marched over to it. Once she was in front of the steel bucket Autumn got down on her knees before dunking her entire head into the water and screaming at the top of her lungs. When she pulled her head up, the first thing she heard was people cheering at what she had just done. The second thing she heard was the chattering of her teeth.


“S-S-Sorry a-about t-t-that,” she managed to say as somebody handed her a towel. “Sometimes I lose my temper at the silliest of things. I just needed to cool off.”


“Ah,” began Wallflower as she leaned over to the side, her gaze shooting towards the cold water. “Do you normally dunk your head in freezing cold water?”


“N-No,” chattered Autumn as she began to rub the towel against her hair. “Normally I go behind the school or an empty restroom before screaming my head off with plenty of cursing. So m-much better than keeping it all inside until I burst into flames. But that’s only when I’m at school. Everywhere else, I just keep it all tucked inside till I get home.”


“…What happens then?” asked Wallflower slowly, as if she were afraid of the answer.


“Oh, I ask my dad to spar with me,” said Autumn with a shrug, tossing the towel back to the person who handed it to her. As she did so, she noticed Wallflower letting out a sigh of relief for some reason. “He’s teaches a couple different martial art classes at the local gym. Even put some mats in the basement so he could practice while at home. When I feel stressed or if the anger is starting to get to me, we head down there and I get tossed around like a ragdoll until I finally calm down.”


“Oh, I didn’t know you like fighting as much as the theater,” said Wallflower in surprise. Autumn quickly shook her damp hair.


“It’s not about fighting,” she said as she waved a hand. “All the stuff my dad teaches are about finding your focus point and finding inner balance. Without that, you’re like a wildfire destroying everything around you. But once you do have it, you’re more in control of your body and emotions. During those sparring sessions, my dad helps me find the source of what caused me to lose my inner balance in the first place. Getting knocked around is just a little extra motivation to find it faster.” Autumn then placed a hand right above her eyes before scanning the area. “Plus all that training does help me with the theater! Helped improve my lung capacity and my hand-eye coordination. Ohh, burgers. And the line is short!”


“Hello APPLELOOSA!” echoed a voice through the PA system, the last words being stretched out almost like a howl. His words echoed through the football field and carried up through the large bleachers that looked massive enough to host a professional game. The people packed into the stands, wrapped in their blankets as they sipped hot cider and chocolate, took a moment to echo the same cry so loudly that it was carried on the winds of the night. All eyes slowly became fixed on the field as some began to hold up signs in order to cheer on their favorite home team duelist.


“Let me hear it again! Hello APPLELOOSA!” cried the announcer. He waited a moment for the crowd to return the howl, which they did only much louder this time. “Well thank you all for coming out to see our dueling team. Tonight they are facing off against Canterlot High for the first time! So let’s show them what we’ve got!” As the crowd burst into another loud cheer, Luna looked across the field to where the Appleloosa duelists were situated. Silverstar was standing in front, miming that she still had some of the sauce from their meal together around her mouth. Blushing with embarrassment, Luna moved to quickly remove it before anyone else saw it.


“Now before we begin rightly, let’s introduce the TEAM!” cheered the announcer. As he finished, the crowd began to make noise in complete unison. Together they stomped their feet on the ground twice before clapping once. “First up we have our team captain: BRAEBURN!” From behind Breaburn waved to the crowd. She knew a little bit about this teen; that he’d been a part of several major dueling tournaments in the state, never winning any of them but coming close. However, what deck he used she could not recall.


“Next we have the girl with so much spirit that is just bursting to get out,” continued the announcer. “You’ve seen her at the talent shows, you’ve seen her duel, it’s SPARKLE SUNSHINE!” Music blasted over the noise the crowd was making, Japanese music by the sounds as a girl jumped out from behind Braeburn. She was about a couple heads shorter than he was, with light blue skin and long black hair tied into twin tails. The odd thing about her was how she dressed. It was a bright pink skirt and blouse, both cut short to reveal her stomach as well as to barely cover her nether region. Luna found herself frowning at this since such things at her school would have been considered highly inappropriate! On her arms and legs were black stockings that exposed her fingers while on her head was something like a pink nurse’s cap with white wings. In one hand she held a staff of some kind with a yellow star at the top. Was she one of those performing duelists Luna had heard about?


“Now save some of those cheers for duelist number three,” said the announcer, causing Sparkle Sunshine to pout. “He maybe down on his luck most of the time, but your luck will fall faster than your cards! It’s TROUBLESHOES!” Standing tall alongside the teen captain, Luna saw that Troubleshoes was built like a giant but slightly bent over. There were rings under his green eyes from perhaps a lack of sleep and had a face that screamed depression. His dark hair was unkempt, falling all the way down his brown neck. He was dressed in a blue shirt with black triangle patterns on it, ripped jeans, and a jean jacket on. A few people cheered for him, causing Troubleshoes to sink a little deeper.


“Next up is a true salt of the earth woman! Let’s give it up for the mighty LITTLE STRONGHEART!” Standing tall was a girl wearing something like a Native American poncho, decorated with purple beads. Underneath, the tanned skinned girl was wearing a yellow shirt with jeans. Raising a hand into the arm, Luna could see that she had an arm much like Applejack’s; muscular without looking too intimidating. Clearly she worked out a lot. Many people in the stands gave a loud cheer for her.


“Parents, you might want to cover your children’s eyes when this guy draws his first card,” continued the announcer. “Because once he starts dueling, screams are sure to follow. Lets give it up for QUICK STRIKE!” Quick strike was the smallest of them all, looking no bigger than some of the freshmen at Canterlot High. He wore a black hooded sweatshirt which concealed most of his face. But Luna could see those wide eyes underneath as well as she sickening green skin that made him look…unwell.


“And last but not least, the lady of the stars and stripes herself: LIBERTY BELL!” Liberty waved to the crowd with her black fingerless gloves over her steel grey skin. Luna found the girl’s attire akin to a biker with her leather vest, bright red shirt, and ripped jeans. On the top of her head was a bandanna with the stars and stripes on them, with her long silver hair flowing out down her back. As she turned, Luna could see that on the back of her vest was emblazoned a metal eagle with exhaust ports coming out of its wings.


“Can they compete with the challengers Lightning Dust, Autumn Blaze, Star Hunter, Pharynx, Moondancer, and…wait a names missing. Hold on a second.” For several seconds the sound of paper rustling could be heard over the speakers. Fighting the urge to roll her eyes, Luna turned to look at her charges. They were all there standing behind her with Wallflower lowering her head more than normal. “Ah, Wallflower Blush. Sorry about that. Don’t know how I missed it.” The announcement let out a cough. “But before that, can we have our very own Mr. Silverstar and Vice Principal Luna take the field for the opening duel?”


Taking a breath, Luna began to walk out into the field with her duel disk attached firmly to her arm. The people here had marked the area where she was to stand on the grass, giving plenty of room between the two. This also meant there would be plenty of room to give their monster’s plenty of room to breathe, to show them off in all of their glory. With each step they took, the crowd continued their stomping and clapping until both stood in their assigned area.


“Well then Luna,” said Silverstar with a grin. “Let’s have some fun.”