The Psycho Ponies
By Baron Von Zakary
The Legal Bit: All rights to any characters, devices or other media mentioned belongs to the respective company, including (but not limited to) Hasbro, Saban Entertainment etc. This short story is written purely for parody, not for profit.
Any OC ponies, devices etc are copyright of Von Zakary, not to used without his permission.
So long as there is good in the world to inspire ponies to greatness, so too will there be evil to take their hearts. - Old proverb
A cool mist drifted low off the storage units, adding an air of macabre to the lab. Inside the air was cold and sterile. The only sounds were the low hum of fluorescent lights powering up, the slow bubbling of various concoctions and that of the doctor rising from his desk.
He stumbled round, checking on experiments he'd started last night, as he did every morning. He used the word morning sparingly, time was more concept than reality in here. The laboratory was hidden deep in a mountain cave and sealed tighter than the royal vaults. As such, natural light never reached it. The occupants woke when the lights came on in the "morning" and went to bed when they cycled down exactly sixteen hours later.
Slumping into a chair, the doctor wiped the sleep from his eyes and looked over a screen connected to a set of cyro-storage units. As the lights flickered on one by one, his features were thrown into sharp relief.
The first glance at Doctor Danios showed that he'd once been a fine young unicorn. Any further glances saw that over ten years had passed since then and that life hadn't overly kind for any of them.
He was tall, with a steel blue coat. His mane had been a light crimson, but a slip of the hoof years ago had robbed him of that. A few limp strands still poked through the blistered skin.
Dents in his front leg showed where a piece of flying debris had clipped him, while a charred spot over his flank was testament to a generator overloading less than five paces away. As the eye travelled, a tapestry of other minor injuries made themselves clear, each vying to tell their story.
Eyes flickering over the display, Danios smiled to himself. "Almost complete, only a little longer." He crooned to the nearest capsule.
"Danios!" A voice barked out of the shadows. "What have I told you about getting attached to them?"
The doctor jumped. "Of course, it won't happen again." He said, half bowing, half cringing in fear.
"I thought you would have learnt after the last time," The figure paused thoughtfully. "Whatever happened to the prototype that escaped?"
"What, the grey one?" Danios was bent over his desk again, leafing through a stack of papers. Opening a draw, he pulled a heavy file out. "It could barely see straight, probably died in the mountains." He said dismissively.
"So cool about it doctor?" A mocking laugh rang out. "I thought you were fond of that one."
He forced a smile, already wishing that he could just be left to his work.
"My focus is on the current generation, previous batches hold no significance to me."
Apparently content with this response, the figure walked off, silence falling across the lab again. Danios felt relieved as the silence descended. He hated that voice. It was natural, in much as it came from vocal chords, but all similarity ended there. It was devoid of any warmth. It wasn't in the flesh, it was something else.
Hours slipped by, marked only by a small clock and the quiet bubbling of his experiments. Getting up to stretch, Danios looked around, then opened his desk and rummaged under the folders. He pulled out an old photo and gazed at it for a moment.
A cough and hoof-steps marked the return of his master. Danios quickly replaced the picture and shut the draw. Looking up, he could see an outline in the gloom, it lent against a console and let lose another bout of hacking coughs. Dreading what might come next, he rose.
"Everything alright my lord?"
"No, this body is failing. You said this flesh would be stronger." How could such a flat voice hold so much anger?
"I tried, truly I did." His voice wavered, "What's the damage this time?"
A hoof was extended into the light. At first, it looked like it had been badly burnt below the knee, but a closer look showed that it was slowly spreading up the leg. The skin and muscle was just dieing.
"It's the same problem as last time, you're too powerful to hold for long. Only a true host can contain you properly. This is just temporary until we reclaim one."
"Temporary? It's been three years Danios, three years!" A pair of eyes lit up, a pale blue glaring out of the dark.
"Three years trapped in your feeble efforts, watching those mewling experiments die, just like these bodies. Give me results Danios, NOW!"
The eyes extinguished, leaving just a vague, unsettling feeling. Despite this, the doctor smiled.
"Results? Oh yes, I have results." Pride dripped off every word.
Trotting over to a console, he worked the keyboard. The ice on the nearest capsule cracked as the glass retracted. Inside was a pale pegasus, slowly her eyes opened and she stepped out. With the heavy limbs of someone who's spent months in suspended animation, she walked to Danios.
"Wha... what is my purpose?" The voice was thick and sleepy.
"Stunning Danios! What's her next trick, drooling on you?"
"Just a minor effect of the stasis, soon fixed."
Taking a needle and a bottle off a rack, he measured out a dose and injected the young mare. Instantly the eyes grew sharp, the drunken slouch vanished. She looked powerful and alert.
"State your name and number."
"I am Soaringfury, 4-001-P"
"Certainly better than the last batch Danios, so what can she do? How does she compare to the other one?"
"An improvement in every way my lord. Whatever the host can do, Soaringfury can do better and beyond. Watch this."
His horn glowed briefly, a beaker lifted itself out of a cupboard and onto a shelf at the far end of the lab.
"Soaringfury, break that without moving."
She glanced briefly at the beaker and then returned to looking dead ahead. A second later, the glass split neatly in two, perfectly cut.
"You see," He said in an excited voice, eyes glimmering. "For years, it's been assumed that the horn was the source of our magic power, and therefore was exclusive to the unicorns. But it's really hidden deep within our genetics, the horn is just some strange quirk of nature. With a pure sample from a powerful being such as yourself, I can induce magic into anypony."
A laugh rang out, it bypassed the hairs of the neck and went straight for the gut. It was like an icicle appearing in your stomach.
"Finally doctor, you live up to your promises. Tell me about the others."
A look of surprise flickered over Danios's face, it had been a long time since he'd been paid a compliment.
"Well, Soaringfury was the test model for the fourth generation. Her magical abilities are more powerful than the others will be, but physically she won't be as robust. From time of creation she's only a month or so ahead of the others. Because of the growth accelerators, she's really a standard year older. I think, baring complications with the induced learning process, we should have the complete set ready in a week."
The eyes were gleaming out the dark again, examining the pegasus.
"How did you fake the cutie marks?"
"I didn't, cutie marks," His face contorted slightly on the last two words. "Are more or less predetermined. It's all down to a hormone we produce, something about stumbling onto a special talent that sends the glands wild. In this case, I just gave them an artificial dose and the marks appeared a couple of days later."
"Perfect, Soaringfury step forwards."
She trotted forth a few steps and looked into those glowing eyes.
"You will go to Ponyville, tonight and perform your duty. Make them suffer, make them regret."
"I obey" Her voice was surprisingly soft. With a hop, her wings opened and she flew towards the far end of the lab. There was a hiss as the doors opened. As Soaringfury vanished down the tunnel, the doors clamped shut again, leaving only a faint smell of fresh air.
Time affects everywhere differently; The towns will expand, forests grow taller and mountains crumble. Ponyville however, seemed to be the exception to the rule. Over three years had passed, barely a day of it showed on the village's face. The Quill and Sofa shop now also stocked piccolos, popular mane-styles were different, but that was about it.
So it wasn't a surprise to anypony who knew the town, to see it on the verge of total disaster.
This time, a large area of the Everfree forest had caught fire and was threatening to burn Ponyville to the ground.
"More rain quick!" Twilight shouted up to the weather pegasus as they flew past carrying arm loads of clouds. She was running to make sure the earth ponies were pulling their weight. After her expert handling of the winter wrap up fiasco, she'd been made the unofficial marshal for all emergencies that occurred. A rough job, but nothing beyond her abilities.
On cue, a dozen cart loads of sand came bouncing down the road. Big Mac was leading the procession, with Applejack and indeed most of the Apple family trying to match his titanic pace. Twilight side stepped to avoid being trampled and ran on, to check on the town. As the last of the carts passed, Twilight sighed and threw out a hoof to stop Applebloom.
"And where are you going?"
"Ah was goin' to help put out the fire." She said innocently, nodding to the pint of sand she had in a saddle bag.
"Applebloom...good effort, but we really don't have time for this now. Please, go back to Ponyville where it's safe."
"But," Applebloom wanted to complain, but saw the look in Twilight's eyes and knew to give. "Alright, Miss Sparkle. Good luck with the fire 'n all."
Twilight watched her trot off towards town. The fire line had been broken before it hit the outer ring of buildings, it was the forest that needed to be tended to now. Galloping back she could see that they were winning, but it was a narrow lead.
"Come on everypony, we're almost there! Rainbow Dash, step it up a gear!"
"I'm giving it all she's got Twilight!" Dash shouted back, bouncing up and down on a dark cloud, trying to liberate every last drop.
Shame Pinkie Pie can't fly, she'd be great at that.
"Bombs away!" A jocular voice rang out.
Speak of the devil. Twilight thought as Pinkie Pie came swooping in on her pedal-copter, a huge bucket of water tied to the underside. She passed fast and low, emptying the load in seconds.
Twilight tried not to think about how a small filly could lift several tons of water, it was another of those things Pinkie could do, but concentrating on it hurt your brain. Instead she focused on her magic, trying a freezing spell she'd read about the other week.
Once more, through team work, good effort, (and the usual amount of good fortune) Ponyville was safe again. After escaping the pink one's "Super Fire Fighting" party, Twilight had gone home to enjoy a bubble bath. She'd drawn the shower curtain so she could dictate her letter to Celestia to Spike from the tub and so that he couldn't see her wearing a handle-bar moustache made of foam.
"Dear Princess Celestia
Today I learnt that in desperate circumstances, it's important to keep focus and not get stuck down by the little details. I also think that some-pony learnt today not to play with fire,"
"Or in indeed, some dragon." She added playfully.
"Hey, that was one book, not a forest!" Spike said defensively.
"I know Spike" She laughed. "Now where was..."
Twilight was cut short by a knocking on the library door. Spike excused himself and went to answer it. A moment later he returned.
"Applejack's downstairs, says she need to talk to you about something important."
"Applejack?" She never calls this late.
"Well, get her some refreshments and then you can turn in Spike."
"Yes mam!" He mock saluted and ran off to the kitchen. Twilight quickly dried herself, fixed her hair and then trotted downstairs.
Applejack was sat on the sofa, she turned as Twilight entered, her usual cheery look replaced by one of disbelief.
"Applejack? You ok?" Twilight asked, a note of concern entering her voice.
"I dunno Twi, I feel ok, but," She paused and gazed into her drink for a moment. "Ah've seen things on our adventures, things that most other ponies wouldn't see in a month of Sundays. But..."
She shook her head a little, as if trying to buck a thought out of her mind.
"Have y'all ever seen something, something you wish you just could unsee?"
"Not since that night when we grabbed the wrong bottle from your cellar and had a full gallon of Big Mac's home-brew."
A smile cracked Applejack's serious look for a moment. "That was one hay of a night, who'da thought that Dash could dance like that!"
"Or that Rarity would insist on digging out that karaoke machine?"
A grin passed between them. The image of Rarity, normally so prim and proper, drunkenly slurring "Trotting Queen" was clear in their minds. All too soon however, the memory passed, and AJ's face fell again.
"What's on your mind Applejack?" Twilight asked in what she hoped was a soothing voice.
Taking a deep breath, she looked Twilight in the eye. "I think I know who started the fire today. I think it was Fluttershy."
Levitating the pot, Twilight poured out two cups of tea. With a slightly shaky hoof, she pushed one to Applejack and took a sip of her own. They sat round the kitchen table. Applejack still looked like she was hoping to wake up any second and Twilight was shooting glances at her between sips. Deciding that the silence had gone on enough, she spoke up.
"Now Applejack, I wouldn't normally doubt you, but this, well its, just..."
"I know how it sounds Twilight, and believe me, I wish I didn' have to say it. But I know what I saw." She sighed deeply.
"I was just minding my own business, tending to mah apple-trees. Then I saw smoke comin from over the Everfree forest. So I came a runnin, and it was then I saw Fluttershy running out the forest."
"Of course, she was running away. She was probably scared half to death worrying about her animals." Twilight said, in a calming manner. "It doesn't mean that Fluttershy's an arsonist."
"No! You ain't understanding me Twi." Applejack pleaded. "When I saw her running, she was grinning like a gator! I ain't never seen Fluttershy smile like that before, 'n its been worrying me ever since."
Twilight looked carefully at Applejack. It wasn't like when she'd taken on Sweet Apple Acres by herself a couple of summers ago. She didn't look worn out, Applejack looked miserable. Setting down her cup, Twilight gently took Applejack's hoof.
"Alright, stay here tonight, and we'll visit Fluttershy in the morning. If anything seems amiss, we'll stick around and keep an eye on her."
Applejack seemed relieved. "Thanks Twi, y'all don't know how much that means to me." She slumped back in her chair and drained her cup. Twilight smiled and poured her a fresh one. With a large yawn, she stretched and looked at the clock.
"The room on the lefts good for a night. Oh, and if you hear somepony moving about in the night, it's just Owlowiscious working his shift."
Applejack nodded, taking a large slurp of tea. Twilight trotted off to bed, head filled with thoughts about what had been said.
What if Applejack's lost it? What do you do then?
Shut up, she hasn't lost it. She thought back to one particularly snide voice, fluffing up her pillow.
Then what does that say about Fluttershy? The voice got in as she drifted off.
The following morning saw a notable calmer Applejack and Twilight enjoying breakfast. Spike was flittering round the kitchen clearing up the eggs and toast, while Owlowiscious snored gently in the corner.
Sitting back in her chair, Twilight took a moment to appreciate the happiness that only a full meal can bring, Applejack looked similarly contented. Taking this as a good time to bring up last nights conversation, Twilight waited until Spike had left for his morning jobs.
"Applejack", She coughed quietly. "Do you still want to, you know, check on Fluttershy?"
She looked critically at Applejack, Applejack face fell a notch.
"I still don't know Twi. After a nights rest, it does seem a little far fetched. It might just have been somethin in that smoke, Celestia knows what grows in that forest. But I still would feel better if we went to see her"
Twilight smiled politely "Sure, we'll walk over in a moment." She banged on the ceiling with her hoof. "Spike! You better not be sleeping up there!"
"Not any more I'm not!"
Taking the scenic route, the two fillies trotted round the edge of the Everfree forest. Applejack was deep in her thoughts, Twilight was looking over the scorched tree line. Given the damage done yesterday, it was regrowing at an amazing rate. Already the foliage was re sprouting and the trees looked barely touched.
Rounding a corner, Fluttershy's cottage came into view, a hint of music wafting out of the window. Fluttershy was practising with her birds again. As they crossed the bridge, Angel looked up from the roof of his hut, and then laid down again. Knocking, the birds silenced, a moment later the door opened a crack. A blue eye peeped out at them before the chain scraped back and Fluttershy opened the door properly.
"Hi Twilight, Applejack. Come in, if you want to, that is."
"Hey Fluttershy, sorry to drop in like this, we just thought that after the fire you might have extra animals to care for. So we came round to help."
"Oh, that sounds wonderful."
Thankful that Fluttershy had bought her story, Twilight and Applejack stepped in. Applejack went to shut the door and held it a moment as Angel Bunny hopped in after them. While Fluttershy went to her birds, the two fillies sat down.
"Ok, we'll meet again next week, good job everyone." The birds took off through the window and Fluttershy busied herself fixing a plate of sandwiches for the three of them.
"I don't want to disappoint you, but I don't actually have any extra patients. All the creatures in the forest were extra careful. But you could stay for lunch, if you're not busy or anything." Fluttershy said, bringing in a tray bearing tulip sandwiches, a jug of barley water and Angel's afternoon carrot. A twitch of whiskers later, the bunny himself was down the stairs.
"Sounds great, we'd love to." Twilight replied, giving Applejack a small nudge under the table when she said nothing.
AJ nodded, but still said nothing. She kept looking at Fluttershy, as if expecting to see her to start laughing manically and pull out a blow torch. Fortunately Fluttershy was too preoccupied making sure that Angel ate every last bite of his snack to notice this.
As the bunny reclaimed his independence by hopping off with a half a carrot under his arm, Fluttershy turned back to them.
"I'm so glad to see you all coped without me yesterday. I wanted to help with the fire, but Rarity had a panic attack when she heard. So I had to help her move all the dresses down into the cellar. By the time we were finished, everypony was heading over to Pinkie's party."
Fluttershy tilted her head quizzically.
"Why weren't you there Applejack? If that's not too personal a question I mean.”
"Well, I was..." Applejack was unsure of what to say next, she was saved any embarrassment however, by the door flying off it's hinges. Reality flickered for a nano-second as Fluttershy seemingly vanished.
Framed in the doorway was Pinkie Pie. Blissfully unaware that she'd just kicked through a solid oak door, or the fact that 3 jaws had just hit the ground, she marched in. Reaching under the dresser, she pulled out a terrified Fluttershy.
"Why did you do it Fluttershy?"
Twilight and Applejack were dumb-struck, Angel Bunny looked like he was about to have a fit. Ignoring them, Pinkie Pie grabbed Fluttershy with both hoofs and shock her.
"Just give the bits back, and maybe we can go easy on you. I’ll put in a good word."
"W-wha..." Fluttershy stammered.
"I don't why you'd do that to a friend, but a friend is still what you are to me. Now come on before the cozzers get here!"
For what it was worth, she may as well have spoken in Mandarin. Oddly enough, as distressed as Fluttershy looked, Pinkie looked worse. Her mane was notably less puffy, and the corners of her eyes were watery.
Pinkie made to drag Fluttershy off and would have done if Twilight hadn't intervened. Her horn glowed a light purple, and Pinkie suddenly found herself unable to move. Fluttershy pulled free and hid behind Twilight.
"Lemme go, I’ve got to get this sorted out before Fluttershy’s banished forever!" Pinkie Pie squealed as Twilight held her firmly in place. Angel bounced over and started to rap Pinkie on the head with his hind legs. She broke free long enough to brush him off before Applejack jumped over and restrained her as well.
AJ had every faith that Twilight could hold her own against most ponies, but Pinkie and the laws of physics had a passing acquaintance at best. If she really kicked off, Celestia knew what might happen.
"Pinkamina!" Twilight cried out, helping Fluttershy to her hoofs. She was still shaking like a dragon had just flown in. "I don't know what kind of joke this is, but you've taken it way too far!"
"Huh, joke?" She suddenly stopped wriggling and looked straight at Twilight.
"Fluttershy just robbed Sugarcube Corner and tried to burn it down. You think that's a joke?"
A stunned silence filled the room. Applejack stopped wrestling with Pinkie and stared at her. Twilight tried to process this, her brain blue screening and with a small eep, Fluttershy fainted.
"Pinkie, that's... not possible. Fluttershy's been here all morning."
Now Pinkie looked confused, "But I was just there, I saw everything."
Applejack tended to Fluttershy, moving her into a chair whilst Angel grabbed some smelling salts. Twilight kept her eyes on Pinkie, she seemed sincere, but with all the madness over the last few days, who know what might happen.
"I don't know what the hay is happening" Twilight said slowly, a note of panic edging into her voice. "But we're going into Ponyville to sort this mess out."
On the road into town, the four of them walked in pairs. Applejack was keeping an eye on Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy was sticking much closer to Twilight than she normal would. Angel had been able to bring her round, but she'd fainted as soon as she saw Pinkie Pie.
It'd taken 2 more attempts and some reassurances that she wouldn’t be jumped again before she could stay conscious. Even now she looked paler than usual. Pinkie on the other hand, seemed much happier now that they were talking.
"Ok, say it again, slowly this time." Twilight asked.
"I was in my room, giving Gummie a bath and thinking about how awesome it would be if I could walk on walls. You ever thought about how much fun that would be? I could fit like a gazillion more guests into my parties!"
"Focus Pinkie! What happened next?"
"I was getting to that. So, I'm looking for Gummie's toothbrush when I hear this crash from downstairs. I was about to apologise for it, then I realised that I was upstairs, so I couldn't have caused it.
So I peep down the stairs to see what's occurring, and then I see Fluttershy. The windows are in pieces, Mr Cake is on the floor and Fluttershy has her hoofs in the till! She grabbed a bag of bits, picked up an oxygen cylinder, throws it into the oven and then runs out the door!"
"Why didn't you stop Flutter...I mean whoever it was?" Twilight asked, trying to be methodical.
"Well I wanted to, but if I hadn't got that cylinder out of the oven, Sugarcube Corner would have blown!"
"Why do y'all even have an oxi-gin cylinder anyways?" A confused Applejack asked.
"Oh that was left over from my space race attempt, Twilight stomped that dream out really quick. Mrs Cake just uses it for her crème brulee torch now." Pinkie said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"As soon as I got it out, I came running to the forest. I knew the other ponies in town would be mad, so I wanted to get to Fluttershy first and make sure she got a fair hearing. I just wanted to look out for my friends."
A tear appeared in Pinkie's eye.
"Ah, come here sugar," Applejack gently hugged her. "You were just looking after Fluttershy the whole time huh. Why didn't y'all just tell us that in the first place?"
"She was just being Pinkie," Twilight said sagely.
"Now we need to focus on the important things. We need to find this pony who looks like Fluttershy, and bring them to town. That way we can clear her name."
From above came the sound of wings. Twilight looked up hoping to see Rainbow Dash.
That's all we need, another pony after Fluttershy for mad reasons
But it wasn't Rainbow Dash, it was somepony else. Flying out of the sunshine, the pony circled round and landed in front of them. All four gasped; The filly before them was very familiar, from the light pink mane to the butterflies on her flank. She didn’t look like Fluttershy, she was identical.
"You are Fluttershy, confirm!" She even had Fluttershy's voice.
"Twi, what's happening" Applejack asked in a quavering voice.
"I have no idea."
My lord, contact has been made, permission to engage?
In his lab, Danios was preparing a mixture. Carefully he tilted a vial and let a few drops of olive green liquid dribble into tube. Placing the tube onto a rack, he got up to retrieve a bottle.
A shudder ran down his spine, and a voice sounded in his head.
My lord, contact has been made, permission to engage?
He paused, that voice was Soaringfury's, she was talking to them via telepathy. That meant that the master had heard as well. Sure enough, that voice rang out, not through words but through their minds.
"Who, what are you?" Applejack asked hesitantly.
"What am I?" There was no doubt, it was Fluttershy's voice, but she'd never sneered like that in her life.
"I am the result of the two greatest minds in Equestria working together."
She reared up, standing tall and proud. "I am Soaringfury, the last pony you'll see in this life."
Good, now destroy them all
The words slipped silkily into her mind. Soaringfury could feel the presence of her master, she was watching through her eyes.
Pinkie bounced her way towards Soaringfury before anyone could say anything.
"So you're like Fluttershy's sister? But Fluttershy is really nice, and you're just a meanie! And a thief! No parties for,"
She was cut off abruptly as Soaringfury made her first move. There was a yellow blur as her hoof struck out. With a gasp, she was sent flying back towards the group. At the last minute, Pinkie somehow managed to back flip and land smugly on her hooves.
"What the hay is your problem?" Applejack shouted, clearly enraged.
"My problem, is that you are still breathing." Any more spite in those words, and her spit would have gone through sheet steel.
Applejack tried to decide on a course of action. One the one hoof, they were all mature mares and should be able to talk this out reasonably. On the other hoof, Soaringfury had just attacked Pinkie for the crime of getting near to her.
As Soaringfury started to walk towards them, Applejack came to a snap decision. If she wasn't giving mercy, she wasn't going to get any back.
She lowered her head and charged. Her speed putting even Rainbow Dash to shame. Just as she was about land a doozy of a skull bash, Soaringfury made her move. Fast as Applejack was, Soaringfury moved faster. Side stepping, Applejack ran straight past, a leg flicked out and she was sent sprawling face first into the dust.
"Applejack!" Fluttershy cried, peaking out from behind Twilight.
"There you are, face me Fluttershy!" Fury shouted patronisingly
Her eye's lit up, a faint red glow surrounded Fluttershy. Before Pinkie or Twilight could react, she was lifted off her feet and slammed into a tree. With a whimper, Fluttershy collapsed in a heap.
"Pathetic, I expected better of my source material." She rounded on the others. "Who's next?"
Pinkie Pie looked wildly between her unconscious friends and Soaringfury. With a faint hiss, her mane deflated, the hairs straightening. Glancing at Twilight, she muttered "Lets do this."
Just as Applejack had done, she too charged in. This time, Twilight was ready to help. Her horn glowed a deep purple, she wasn't performing a spell, she was just channelling raw magical power at Fury.
Laughing, Soaringfury meet Pinkie head on. Swinging a hoof, she punched her square in the gut. With a cry of pain, Pinkie flew across the path and landed in a tangle of legs. As she blacked out, she saw Soaringfury moving in to strike again, when Twilight's attack hit her. This time she was sent flying, hitting the ground hard.
But within seconds, she was back on her feet. Smiling, Fury turned on Twilight.
"Magic? I was born of this!"
Her eyes started to glow again, as Twilight's horn lit up. For a moment they glared at each other, raw hatred battling the element of magic. Then it was over, Twilight reeled as if hit by a sledge hammer and laid still on the grass.
This darkness is quite nice, there’s no evil here, or pain. But my friends aren't here either, or my animals. Plus this endless void is a little scary, perhaps I'd better open my eyes.
These were Fluttershy's first thoughts as the throbbing in her skull brought her round. Slowly opening her eyes, she recoiled at the sight before her. All three of her friends were out cold.
This Soaringfury was leering over Twilight. Enough was enough.
"How dare you?" She cried, rising to her feet. "HOW DARE YOU!"
Soaringfury turned slowly. "So you do have some fight, this might be fun after all."
Fluttershy locked onto her doppelgänger and instinct took over; her eyes opened wide and stared.
The effect was instant, Soaringfury was rooted to the spot, caught by the full fury of the stare. With obvious effort, she tried to take a step forward, but fell onto one knee.
"That's..better." Even talking was draining her under Fluttershy's rage. "Let...me, try that."
With a massive will, Soaringfury's eyes snapped open. Ruby red staring into cyan ones. The air between them became thick and distorted. Tiny sparks flew from the centre. Neither could look away, neither could even move. Both were entirely focused on staring down the other.
Something else was happening. Normally when Fluttershy stared, she temporarily imparted part of her own psyche onto the recipient. That helped to calm them, made them more compliant. Now Fluttershy knew what it was like, a torrent of images and feelings forced themselves into her head.
She saw the inside of a tube, unable to move, feeling only the crippling cold. Knowledge being mass dumped into a nearly blank mind. A laugh ringing out that made her want to be sick, and hate. A creature born to hate her.
"I'm so sorry" Fluttershy whispered.
"Hay seeder!" Coming out of no-where, Applejack bucked Fury in the ribs with a sickening crunch, breaking the connection between her and Fluttershy. With no-one to properly control it, the magic in the air detonated, sending the three of them flying again.
"Danios, Soaringfury needs aid!"
The master had charged into the lab full force, just as Danios had felt a massive surge of power coming from beyond the mountains.
"The rest aren't ready yet, they need at least another day."
"I don't care, finish them later!"
With a flash of blue, the doors were ripped off two pods, the inhabitants spilling out onto the floor. Putting his complaints aside, Danios ran round with a syringe already in hoof as they started to stir.
Applejack looked round her as the smoke settled. Pinkie and Twilight were still out, Fluttershy was laying there, she looked like she was locked solid. A groan revealed Soaringfury, she was on her knees, one hoof clutching at her chest. A trickle of blood ran down her side.
"Just you 'n me now, if you want help with them busted bones, you'd better tell me whats goin on here"
Fury looked up, unbelievably, she was still smiling.
"Looks to me like you need the help."
There was a burst of light, then a blow caught Applejack on the back of the head. With a grunt she fell to the floor. As her vision faded, she got a glimpse of hoofs. One pair blue, the other cream.
"You're lucky, our orders are only to retrieve Soaringfury, you get to see another day."
The voice was oddly familiar. But before she could place it, Applejack slipped into the black.
End of chapter 1
The Psycho Ponies
By Baron Von Zakary
The Legal Bit: All rights to any characters, devices or other media mentioned belongs to the respective company, including (but not limited to) Hasbro, Saban Entertainment etc. This short story is written purely for parody, not for profit.
Any OC ponies, devices etc are copyright of Von Zakary, not to used without his permission.
"Oh Rainbow Dash, you honestly expect me to believe that?" Rarity asked with a laugh
"I'm telling you, it's all over the town. Fluttershy looted SugarCube Corner yesterday!"
"And I supposed that Twilight turned herself into a newt as well?"
"Whatever Rarity, we'll see when we get to..."
Rainbow Dash trailed off at the sight before her. Applejack was limping towards the library, Twilight under one arm, an unconscious Pinkie Pie under the other. All three looked like they'd been through the mill. After a moments stunned pause, Rarity and Dash ran over to help her.
"Applejack? What the hay happened to you guys?"
"Save it till we get inside Dashie, it's quite a story, and I'd hate ta collapse before y'all hear it."
"You mean to say that there's a Fluttershy copy out there, who wants to destroy all of you?" Rarity had a look of horror on her face, even Dash was too appalled for words.
Having left Pinkie and Twilight to slump in their chairs, Applejack had run back to get Fluttershy. Flutter-statue might have been the better name right now. Ever since the battle with Soaringfury, she'd seized up like a rock. Unsure what quite to do, Applejack left her standing to the side of the room whilst she told their tale.
"It's worse than that. I recon I saw another two of em before getting the seven bells knocked outta me again."
"Man, if only I was there, we could have kicked some serious flank!" Rainbow spoke with her usual bravado, punching the air. Applejack shook her head solemnly.
"Nah, if you'd been there Dash, y'all would have been scuffed up like us. Them ponies just ain't natural. Look what they did ta Fluttershy if you don't believe me."
She was still standing where Applejack had left her, a look of horror frozen on her face. Twilight sat in the chair next to her, various spell books open in front of her. Every couple of minutes, her horn would glow dimly, before she flicked on a few a pages.
"Nothing works, this is beyond normal healing magic." She said sadly, closing the dusty tomes and replacing them on the shelves. Rainbow poked Fluttershy while Spike handed out mugs of hot chocolate. She swayed for a moment and then stabilized, unchanged.
"We need Princess Celestia, she'll know what to do." Twilight continued, "Spike, take a letter, tell her that we need urgent..."
"Rainbow Dash!" Rarity cried scoldingly.
"What I do?" She protested, looking round. With a small jump as she noticed, Dash removed the mug from Fluttershy's head and moved it to the table. Eyes downcast, she quietly muttered "Sorry".
"Urgent assistance." Twilight finished. "Put "Code: Lunar" under the seal Spike, that should ensure a swift response."
"Don't think we'll need that Twilight," Spike called over. He'd been looking for more books on curse breaking, and had paused when he'd passed the window. "She's coming up the drive now."
"What?" Twilight cried, jumping to her hooves. Sure enough Celestia was just outside the door, two royal guards trotting behind her. Years of protocol kicked in automatically. Ignoring her injuries, Twilight bolted for the door and opened it just as the first knock came.
"Your Highness, what an unexpect..."
She was cut off mid sentence by the Sun Goddess pulling her into a hug. Twilight winced slightly as she grazed against her mentor, but said nothing. Celestia always had a calming warmth about her, and in her arms now, Twilight felt completely at peace.
"My dear Twilight Sparkle, I'm so glad to see you're alright."
Breaking apart, it was a shock to all present that a tear was running down Celestia's face, even the guards seemed concerned. Letting off a doubtable cough, she wiped her face, everypony else suddenly finding something interesting on the walls to look at.
As the moment passed, Twilight looked back. Celestia was still a little dewy eyed, but otherwise back to normal. A great many questions flickered through the young unicorn's mind. Finally she
"How did you know to come?"
Celestia smiled gently. "I know your magic, and when I sensed a burst like that, I knew something was wrong. It was the second magic I felt that told me I had to come at once."
"Please, wait outside gentlecolts," She spoke to the guards, they silently stepped back as she shut the door. "There are important things to discuss, and we need to keep it between ourselves. But first,"
Her horn glowed a pure white for a second, the same light appeared around Twilight, Applejack and Pinkie Pie. Looking at herself, Twilight saw that all her cuts and scrapes were healed, she felt revitalised. With a soft ping, Pinkie's hair poofed out again, tripling in volume as her eyes snapped open.
"Where am I? I don't remember getting here. Did we beat that Soaringfury meanie and party till I passed out?" Evidently her energy had returned too, if her speech speed was anything to go by. Pinkie looked round. "Oh, Hiya Celly! Did you come to celebrate as well?"
Applejack cut her off abruptly via a hoof in the mouth. "Ah think what she means to say is, thank you, your majesty."
A smile slid over Celestia's face. "That's quite alright Miss Applejack. She's, how do you put it in your letters Twilight? Just being Pinkie Pie."
Walking over, she knelt by Fluttershy. Placing her hoofs on Fluttershy's temples, the white glow returned, and she started to mutter quietly. Slowly, Celestia started to subtly twist her hoofs, it was like she trying to crack a safe.
"Yes, this is evil magic indeed. A different caster, but the same result. All this time, and still no new tricks, that will be the undoing."
With a gasp, Fluttershy reanimated. She wobbled on her hoofs, taking in the kindly face before
her. She tried to speak, but only let out a hoarse speak before falling down. Celestia lifted her with ease and placed her onto the sofa. Fluttershy slowly opened an eye, the effort clearly draining her. She mouthed something and passed out.
"Rest now, you've done so much already." Celestia whispered soothingly, running a hoof through her mane. As she comforted the filly, tiny spheres of magic fell from the tips of her hoofs onto Fluttershy's head.
"She'll be fine, just needs to get her strength back. Please, sit down."
Celestia waited as Twilight and Applejack parked themselves.
"As some of you already know, all magic has a signature. An imprint left on it by the caster. If you know the unicorn, you can lock onto this imprint and sense their magic whenever they use it.
That's how I knew that Twilight was in trouble, it was like a distress flare to my senses. That's also how I knew where the other party got their power from. Tending to Fluttershy confirmed my fears. Nightmare Moon has returned."
If there had been "silence" when Pinkie Pie had accused Fluttershy mere hours ago, that was a full scale riot accompanied by Vinyl Scratch playing her favourite Alice Hoofer remixes, compared to this silence.
Finally Rainbow Dash broke it.
"But we destroyed Nightmare Moon years ago, we gave her twenty thousand volts of harmony remember?"
"Yes, and no. Our problem isn't Nightmare Moon we know, for she was just one of a line of pawns. This is the work of the original nightmare."
Everyone in the room looked thoroughly confused, Celestia took a second to draw a deep breath before continuing.
"Luna and myself have been the guardians of Equestria over a millennia now, carrying on the ancient tradition of the our family. The royal bloodline has watched over all pony kind since we first harnessed our magical abilities many eons ago.
But as long as that bloodline is, there are forces in this world that pre-date even our noble ancestors. Texts in my personal library speak of a pair of elemental forces that have existed since the dawn of time itself.
In the simplest terms, these forces are good and evil, although such words will never do truly them justice. Scholars across the ages have written theories on them, it is widely believed that they were a kind of magical field, covering the entire world. Omnipresent, and almost sentient in their actions, these fields shaped the earliest destinies of our people."
She paused, taking a sip of the coco Spike had thoughtfully provided. Thoughtfully provided here being code for, being nudged an inch at a time towards the kitchen by Twilight until he got the hint.
"The good magic entered the hearts of the those fledgling ponies and guided them into the light. As they began to prosper and thrive, the evil tried to undo what would become the first pony empire.
But for a twist of fate, we might have been undone that day. It seems that whilst the evil could easily make the mountain winds bitter or the forest sprout in darkness, it could not simply enter the souls of steeds. It had to be invited in, through their thoughts and actions.
So the darkness claimed the lay of the land, and the good claimed the life upon it. Those with a touch of the virtuous became the first artists, poets and speakers. They spread a message of peace and tolerance across the land.
In return, the darkness wrecked ruin upon the world. Foul weather plagued the harvest seasons and the ground became hard as the hydra's hide. Despite these hardships, few succumbed. Instead pegasus took to the skies and shaped their own patterns, while the earth ponies dug in their hooves and endured.
Those who gave in became avatars of destruction, seeking only to bring new miseries and pains. Thankfully their magically abilities were servilely limited, powerful compared to the unicorns, but little more than tribal shaman compared to what we can do now. Between this and extremely low numbers, they were hunted down to a foal. Some repented and drove the evil from their hearts, the rest were imprisoned for life. As each year passed, fewer ponies would fall, until finally it seemed that the threat was gone."
Celestia paused again, allowing the tale to sink in. All of them looked at her in wonderment, Twilight was sat on the edge of her seat, eyes like saucers. It wasn't surprising, few outside of the royal family knew the story any more. She wondered briefly why she hadn’t told Twilight it sooner. The thought had occurred to her during their many sessions together, but a sense of forbodding had always stilled her tongue.
This time when she spoke, her tone was somber. The invisible breeze that fluttered her mane seemed to die down a little.
"After countless years of peace, a new avatar was created in Luna. Born from her false belief that she was under appreciated, Nightmare Moon was the single greatest threat Equestria had ever seen. With the limitless powers of an alicorn, an endless age of darkness loomed. I knew what would happen if unopposed, and with the greatest regret, took action.
Now we leave the facts of history and enter into speculation. I sealed Luna in the moon she loved so much, and sealed the evil away with her. I believe that during that time, something changed. Never before had the darkness been trapped in one form for so long. It learnt how to maintain it and be able to interact directly with our world. When Nightmare was released, I'm sure her original plan was to continue with a reign of terror, but after you defeated her, she went into exile.
It seems that she wasn't idle over the last three years. Nightmare may have masked her own magic to hide from me, but she trained a protégée who isn't so cautious. The rest of the story, you already know."
Snow was falling over the mountains. Had somepony been passing with a sharp eye, they might have been puzzled by the fresh pair of hoof prints and half a dozen dog ends outside a small cave mouth. But no one ever went walking in those mountains, the fierce weather and rumours in the local villages of a vengeful spirit that cursed the peaks were enough to turn anyone away.
Deep inside the cave, Danios shocked the ice from his coat and punched a sequence into a panel on the wall. With a hiss, the door slid open and he trotted back into the lab. Soaringfury sat on a chair, her chest wrapped in gauze. Meanwhile a cream unicorn hunched over a chess board, clearly plotting her next move and a cyan pegasus snored gently as she slept on a mattress under one of the work benches.
"Feeling any better Fury?" He asked, walking over to her.
"Much." She replied flatly. "Given that five of my ribs were broken and my lung punctured."
"Well be grateful that I gave you all accelerated healing. That sort of injury would take a normal pony months to treat, you'll be fine again by morning."
Unravelling the gauze, Danios took a look at her chest, gently prodding at the ribs.
"Mind you, it'll probably knock a few years off your life expectancy. It's too early to tell how tuning your metabolism that much will effect you in the long term." He speculated idly.
"I'll bear that in mind when asking Nightmare about my pension plan."
Looking up in surprise, Danios paused in his examination for a moment. "Do my ears deceive me, or was that a joke Fury?"
Fury gave a small smile. "Don't look so surprised doctor, we're not total robots. You should know, you created our learning program afte, DAMMIT!" She jerked back in her chair and nursed her chest.
Danios withdrew his hoof and handed the gauze roll back. "The third one is still healing, same for the fourth. Take it easy tonight, and I'll check again in the morning. Get some sleep in the meantime."
"How can I sleep, knowing that she's still alive?"
"Well Sprint manages ok," He nodded towards the snoring pegasus. "I doubt if she'll just drop dead overnight, you'll get another go. If you really have trouble, then take one of these."
He slid a bottle of pills over to her. Fury caught the bottle and trotted off to one of the back rooms. Danios turned back in time to see the unicorn levitate a piece across the board before kicking the mattress.
"Check, your move."
With yawn, the pegasus rose and stared blankly at the board. "Why do you make me play this game, we've only been active a day and already you've beaten me twice."
"Because it trains the mind, even one as flabby as yours." A cold voice rang out.
With a click of hoofs, the three of them stood to attention as Nightmare walked in. The sight of her wasn't much better than her voice. Her current body had once been a copy of a young mare from Canterlot with a delightful sunset yellow coat. Then Nightmare had spent a month in it. Most of her was black and withered, in places it had worn through to the bone. The flesh over her face had vitrified, the skull leering at them behind sunken eyes.
"When we've defeated the element bearers, Celestia and the other traitors will fall soon after. Then we will take our campaign to the four corners of the world. Danios will create the army, and you six will lead them. To do that, you will need an IQ greater than your hoof size.
Danios, have you collected all relevant fighting data from Soaringfury?"
"I have my lord." He mumbled, eyes fixed firmly on the floor.
"Then see to it that the others know. The more information we have on them, the quicker you can destroy them. Awaken the rest as well, tomorrow you will all go to Ponyville and finish what Soaringfury started. If she put up a fair fight against four of them, then the six of you should take them out with ease. And start making another body Danios, this one is nearly finished."
"It will be as you command."
Without a backwards glance, she went back into her quarters. Danios walked over to one of the benches and started mixing chemicals together as the others turned back their game.
A different sort of silence had settled over the library now, no one knew quite what to say after Celestia had finished her incredible story. So they sat round and slurped their coco.
"So, if these ponies get their magics from Nightmare, ah recon that we can beat 'em with the Elements of Harmony. If we drive that evil out, they'd just be normal folk again, wouldn't they?" Applejack finally mused aloud.
"A logical deduction Miss Applejack, but incorrect I fear. The elements removed the shadow of Nightmare because Luna was truly sorry, she didn't want that power any more. She rejected it. These ponies are infused with her magic. It might not even be possible to separate them."
"Then what do we do, they could be back at any moment." Twilight said, a twinge of fear in her voice.
"Twilight, there's no easy way to say this. You will have to fight back, you may even have to destroy them. Otherwise, they will destroy you." Celestia said sadly.
"No, there has to be another way!" Twilight cried, almost pleading. "There has to be a peaceful solution."
"No, there isn't." A quiet voice made everypony look round. Fluttershy was awake again. Sitting up, she looked at them with watery eyes.
"Soaringfury, I saw into her mind, I've seen what they come from. They can't be reasoned with, they were created to destroy us. It's all that drives them. It's all they know. We have to fight, it's the only way to help them."
"Fluttershy dear, can they really be that bad?" Rarity asked, astounded that she would say such a thing.
"Yes they are. I only got a tiny glimpse into her life, but I saw enough. Believe me Rarity, being destroyed is far better than going back to what they came from."
"I more than anypony wish we had another choice, but you are all going to have to fight if we hope to save Equestria. That's why I brought this." Celestia focused for a moment, her horn shining. An ornate wooden box appearing in front of her, the lid bearing the royal seal.
Opening it, there was a collective "oh" round around the room. Inside were seven, things. Made from thin strands of silver, they twisted together to form an elegant cage. Set into each cage was a brilliant gem, and as Celestia lifted one out, they could see a leather clasp on the back. It was clearly meant to be strapped onto the leg.
"Fabulous as they look, how are these supposed to help us win fights?" Rarity voiced what everypony was thinking.
"These Miss Rarity, are relics from old Equestria. In the beginning of my rule, we were at war with a nearby kingdom. They were grim times indeed. We were almost equal in troop numbers, technology, magic and it soon turned into a war of attrition. It seemed that the only end was when both sides were dead, or we surrendered into slavery.
I wept for my kingdom, and in my grief I wandered into the wilderness. I can't say what made me do it, just that it felt right. After walking as far as a pony can walk in a day, I came to a cave. I was amazed, inside I found seven statues. They had obviously been formed by the rock eroding, yet each was clearly a pony in armour. In front of each statue, as if discarded by fate, was a gem stone.
I gathered these stones and ran back to the palace. There I summoned my generals and had them each set a gem into their armour. The following day they lead the armies of Equestria into battle and stormed across the fields of war. It was incredible, the gem bearing unicorns unleashed magic attacks of untold might, pegasus flew at incredible speeds and earth ponies split battle plate with the mildest blows. After a single day, we broke their line and morale. The following morning saw a messenger bringing a letter of surrender to my door.
For many a year now, both I and the University of Canterlot have studied these gems. It's clear that they contain deep magic, magic that we don't yet fully understand. What we have learnt from them, we combined with other sciences to create these. These are the latest word in portable armour and equipment. Twilight, please choose one."
Looking over the strange devices, Twilight picked out one set with an amethyst stone and strapped it to her left front hoof.
"Now place your other hoof on it and will it to activate."
Twilight looked perplexed, but did as the princess instructed. Placing her other hoof onto the cage, she gazed at it.
Erm, activate, please?
Brilliant streams of light shot out of the gem, obscuring Twilight for a second. The light faded, and a second round of "oh" s sounded.
She was completely enveloped in a suit of armour. A helmet covered her head and horn, with battle plate covering her shoulders, back and torso. A boot adorned each hoof. The metal was a rich, velvety purple, while a lighter purple fabric sealed the gaps in-between the parts. The chest plate bore the gemstone in the centre, intricate gold symbols inlaid all around it. A five point star made from what looked like polarised glass formed the helmet's visor.
A light shone from behind the visor for an instant, and a mirror appeared in front of Twilight. She gave a little twirl, checking out the armour in all its glory.
"What's it like Twilight?" Rainbow Dash asked with barely controlled awe.
"Unbelievable." She said simply. "I feel, so focused. It's like I can do anything."
As she looked round, a display flared into life on the inside of the visor. It picked out items of interest, labelling her friends and other little pieces of information. Looking at Applejack, it read.
Applejack - Earth Pony
Origin - Equestrian, Ponyville
Power - 7000
Abilities - Superior Physical Strength, Element of Honesty
Notes - Powerful Buck Attack
With a thought, she shut the display down. "How do I get out of this?"
"Just will it to power down."
With another flash of light, Twilight stood before them again. She looked at the innocuous piece of jewellery strapped to her hoof. "This has to be the most incredible thing I've ever seen."
"I wanna go!" Pinkie Pie wailed. "Can I have one, can I, pleeease!"
"Of course, I want each of you to chose one" Celestia said, with a small chuckle at her eagerness.
The others gathered round the chest, each taking their own. Only Spike remained seated, watching intently. Having strapped them on, the room filled with light as five ponies transformed at once.
Everyponies armour was a little different to their friends. For starters they were all different colours, and the visors were different shapes. They all also had their own unique features.
Applejack's was a sunburst orange, with an oval visor and notably more armour round the hind legs and flanks. Pinkie's was, not surprisingly, pink. A light matt pink, her visor was a pair of rectangles, one on top of the other. The sheets of her armour looked thinner, like it was made for a pony who moved around a lot.
Similarly, Rainbow Dash's sky blue armour was made for greater manoeuvrable, her wings encased in aerofoil, complete with what looked like thrusters at the end. Her helmet sporting a lightning bolt shaped visor. Rarity arguably had the best looking set. Armour of purest white, with the gold inlay spreading all over like veins. Her helmet had a triangular visor, with various types of lenses built in.
Finally Fluttershy looked over her lemon yellow suit. Unlike Dash, her wings got only a basic fabric covering. Instead, her helmet was nearly all visor, the entire front half made of the polarised material.
As her friends fawned over each other, Twilight turned to Celestia.
"What's that one for?" She asked quietly, nodding to the seventh device. It didn't have a stone, instead a smooth, pebble shaped piece of metal floated in the centre of the cage.
"One of my generals fell in battle that day, in honour of his sacrifice, he was laid to rest in the cave where I found the gems. When the university wanted to use the stones as part of their experimental armour units, we used what we'd learnt to forge one of our own rather than disturb him or risk losing a real one. But ever since that day, we've never had seven heroes rise again. Lots of threes and the odd five, so we just used it as an experimental model."
"I can't wait to test these bad boys out!" Rainbow Dash's voice cut across the room. "I bet that I could Sonic Rainboom in my sleep with these!"
"Now Miss Dash, these aren't toys. They're made for combat, and I dare say that the research department would like to get them back in one piece as well,"
She stopped mid flow as there came a knocking on the door. It opened a crack, and one of the guards poked his head round.
"Terribly sorry to interrupt your highness, but time is pressing on. You have lunch with the Mayoress, then an afternoon with the foreign delegates followed by,"
"Yes, thank you. I'll be out in a moment."
The guard bowed himself out, Celestia sighed and composed herself.
"Duty calls. I will do as much as I can to help you from my end, but keep your wits about you. I fear this will get worse before it gets better." She looked over at Fluttershy. "Don't worry about the townsfolk. I will speak with the Mayoress, you won't be hearing anymore about what happened at Sugarcube Corner."
Twilight ran over and held open the door as the princess made to leave. Celestia pulled her into another brief hug, and then was gone, the door shutting behind her.
Twilight, can y'all hear me?
She looked around, startled. Applejack hadn't spoken, she heard that in her head.
"How are you doing that?"
"Ah've been workin this display thingy. I found a communicator option, seems like we can all talk to each other via these gizmos. Y'all just imagine who you want to talk to, and then think the message."
"That is useful. Ok everyone, how about we go about business as usual and if anyone sees, or thinks they've found those... them, then use your unit to contact us."
There was a mumour of agreement, the room flashing again as they decloaked. Excitedly talking about their new found powers, and what they might be able to do with them, the five slowly made their way out. Twilight pulled Fluttershy aside for a moment.
"Fluttershy, are you alright?"
She seemed to retreat behind her mane a little, but less than normal. "We have to be cruel sometimes, to be kind Twilight." With those short words, she left as well.
Despite Twilight's fears of imminent attack, the rest of the day went peacefully as any other in Ponyville. Pinkie Pie seemed especially happy at her new found ability to talk to them regardless of location, to the point that Rainbow Dash had threatened to return her unit to Celestia personally.
With the sun setting, the young unicorn settled down to salad for dinner as Spike nibbled on an emerald. She was surprised, the dragon had been amazed as the rest of them earlier on, but since then had been unusually quiet.
"Spike, do you want to talk about anything?" She asked cautiously.
"No, not really. Well," He gave her a look that said everything. "Promise me that you'll be ok Twilight. Can you do that?"
She ran over, and held him in that way that only mothers can hold people. "I promise everything thing will be alright." She held the embrace, gently rocking them back and forth.
After a few minutes, Spike piped up "Twilight, you can let go now."
Wriggling out of her arms, he sniffed loudly. "I wasn't worried or anything, I know you can handle anything, you're Twilight Sparkle after all." She might have believed him, if he'd said it as gruffly as he intended.
"That right, I am. Now you'd better get to bed, it's been a long day."
He nodded in agreement, finishing his emerald in a single gulp. As he ran upstairs, Twilight thought about going up to tuck him in, but instead made a mental note to do something nice when all this was over. Perhaps she could convince Rarity to spend a day with him.
Polishing off the last piece of lettuce, she looked over the shelves. Sadly the library was lacking in books on what to do when homicidal ponies came after your blood. There was one, but after a week of being unable to sleep, Twilight had wiped her own memory, leaving only a reminder never to pick it up again. Levitating her things out into the kitchen, she stifled a yawn. Quickly coming to the conclusion that the washing up could wait until tomorrow, she ascended and jumped into bed. No snide voices plagued her tonight, just blessed sleep falling like a curtain.
That morning as the sun rose, it shone down on a light mist rolling out of the Everfree Forest. With a small crack and a flash of blue, six silhouettes appeared in the gloom. They looked out over the fields surrounding Ponyville.
"So this is where they live? What a waste of good space, I could had contained a population like this in a single hab block." One voice said.
"We're not here to admire the scenery Star, we've got work to do. How do we lure them out?"
"Calm down Fury, you'll get your fight." Another voice smirked. "This should bring them running."
A light appeared in the fog, a sphere of pink floating over somepony's hoof. With a flick of the wrist, it flew off into a nearby field. It burrowed into the ground for a second, and then exploded, throwing up a great cloud of dirt.
"Wake up everyone, some things going down in North Ponyville."
Rainbow's voice smashed through Twilight's dream like a jack hammer. Rubbing her eyes, she looked out the window. In the distance, she could see a plume of something rising out one of the far fields.
"I see it too Rainbow Dash, listen up everypony, lets meet up in the town centre and go investigate."
"Okey Dokey Lokey!"
A few minutes later, they'd all arrived and started to walk out into the fields. The conversation was limited, most of them were sleep lagged. Normally only Dash was awake at this hour to get a start on the weather, and Pinkie because, well she had no reason to be up. Twilight sometimes theorised that she didn't actually need sleep and was in fact fuelled by some cosmic event beyond all known understanding. Clearly none of the other pegasus were up yet, the fog was rolling in thicker and thicker.
"Hey, I found something."
Dash had flown on ahead a little. As the others gathered round, they could see a large hole in soil, like a bomb had gone off. Half formed vegetables laid scattered the crater.
"What in tarnation did this?" Applejack voiced, her inner farmer clearly annoyed at the loss of stock, but grateful they were at least three fields from the nearest apple trees.
"We did." An all too familiar voice came out the gloom.
A shape materialized in the fog, Soaringfury casually walked towards them.
"So you're the fake pony that's been causing all the trouble round here." Dash shouted menacingly.
"Fake?" A cool voice replied as a second shape appeared in the mist. "Oh we're very real Rainbow Dash, but you'll learn that soon enough."
It was with a considerable amount of self control that Dash's jaw didn't hit the dirt as the second pony emerged. She had known that Soaringfury would look like Fluttershy, but she wasn't ready to see herself coming through the fog.
"Enough with the games. Come out where we can see you." Applejack said impatiently.
"As you wish." A new voice came from somewhere in the murk. A breeze suddenly sprang to life, the fog rolling off to the side. Four more outlines faded in, and then became solid. There was a quiet gasp from everyone as they came into focus.
It was like looking in a mirror Twilight thought. Except, there was something wrong, the longer she looked, and it felt like an eternity, the more it became like a spot the difference contest. Just as their armour sets were slightly different, each of their counterparts had some defect that set them apart from the original.
"And who are you supposed to be?" Rarity asked with an air of disgust, eyeing her copy much the same way she would eye a pair of flared trousers.
"We're the Psycho Ponies." Soaringfury said proudly. "We're smarter than you, stronger than you."
"But we're evil." Fake Twilight butted in. "I'm Mourning Star."
"Well charming as this is," The one called Curio spoke, her voice a mockery of Rarity's high class accent. "We all know why we're here, shall we get down to it?"
"Yes, I think we've talked long enough." Mourning Star said to no pony in particular. From her tone, she might have been talking about the weather.
As they started to walk across the field, Dash, Rarity and Fluttershy huddled closer to the others.
"Well, time to find out if these really work." Dash said shakily, more fear in her voice than she'd ever admit to.
With a blaze of light, the six of them activated their units, the armour appearing as before. The Psychos paused, clearly this was something they hadn't expected.
"You never mentioned those things in your report." Curio shouted angrily at Soaringfury.
"They didn't use them last time," She shouted back. "What difference does some fancy metal make? We'll still destroy them with ease, charge!"
The Psychos broke into a run, glee etched onto each of their faces. The speed was amazing, and yet it seemed to residents of Ponyville that they were running in slow motion. Whether the visors were displaying them like that, or if her senses had been radically enhanced Twilight couldn't tell.
She watched with a mixture of wonder, fear and a tweak of, excitement? Looking closer, she saw the fine haze of an aura round her opponent. She was channelling magic to increase her psychical strength, it was incredible. Undoubtable had they meet under different circumstances, they would have had a great to deal to talk about, theories and ideas to exchange.
The lines clashed, everypony pairing off against their opposite. Mourning Star reared up onto her hind legs, swinging round a hoof. The move was impressive, the charge momentum transferring into the punch with minimum loss, and perfectly balanced. But today, it looked weak and predictable. Twilight saw it coming with what seemed like minutes to spare. Turning to face Star side on, she brought up her own hoof to block it.
They collided, a shower of sparks flying out from where Mourning touched her armour. Twilight had enough time to note a look of anger cross her face before the blow slid off and another came fast on its trail. With her next block, Twilight flicked out her leg, catching her prey off guard.
As Star stumbled for a second, Twilight tried a punch of her own. Moving faster than she would have believed herself capable of, she struck just below the neck, feeling solid resistance against her hoof. Star fell back a pace, but seemed unconcerned. Twilight knew just from that fleeting contact, that even without her magic Mourning Star would have been strong enough to give Big Macintosh a fair fight. This was going to take more than a lucky blow.
A routine began to establish itself, Mourning would unleash a torrent of blows, Twilight would block most of them and then land a few of her own. Whenever she did get hit, Twilight barely felt it. It was more than just metal surrounding her, some kind of magic shield was dampening the strikes to little more than gentle shoves. This was hardly the time for metaphors, but at a push, Twilight would have said it was like being on the receiving end of one of Fluttershy's angry kicks.
Around her, her friends were locked in similar patterns. Applejack was going hammer and tongs at Peardrop, more than holding her own. Jumping backwards, she swung round in mid-air, landing on her front legs and kicking out with her hind legs. Peardrop barely had time to jerk out the way, a thin scratch appearing across her side as the very tip of a hoof grazed her.
Above them, Dash and Sprint fought on the thermals. Almost as if scared of what might happen if they strayed too far, the pair of them floated round, keeping to the barrier formed by the fog. Without gravity to bother them, they fought with all four limbs. Punches mixed with kicks and dives as each sought out any weakness in the other. Of all the Psychos, Chromatic was the most obvious forgery.
Where Rainbow's mane and tail was bright and colourful, Chromatic's was a purple. Seven stripes on her mane, fading from palest violet, to an inky plum so dark it was nearly black. It swayed in the breeze as they traded attacks.
Back on the ground, Rarity and Curio circled each other, waiting. Like master swordsmen, they slowly paced, and then striked without warning or mercy before circling again. As such, less than a dozen blows had taken place. In Curio's case, she was enjoying the fight against a skilled challenger, and Rarity was scared that she might break a nail if she struck too hard.
Meanwhile a pair of pink blurs was all anyone could see of Pinkie and Fuchsia, even with their new-found abilities. Clearly whatever allowed Pinkie to bend the universe had been passed onto Fritter. In the rare moments that they slowed down enough to be seen, it was clear that Pinkie was having the time of her life, overjoyed that she'd found someone that could keep up with her. Normally Rainbow Dash filled this void, but she had her limits. If anything, Fuchsia looked a little out of breath, it didn't seem like she'd landed a single punch.
Soaringfury and Fluttershy were having a strange kind of fight. Fury was still filled with rage from her defeat and turned that into flurries of punches, but she seemed very unwilling to expose her chest and turned down some riskier moves that she'd normally do. Fluttershy on the other hoof was trying to keep to her word and help Fury in anyway possible. Looking her in the eyes again, it was much harder to keep up, and she'd mainly sticked to defending herself.
The sun rose higher, wearing down the fog banks and illuminating the fight. Wild as it appeared, Twilight knew that they weren't fighting at full strength yet. She was beginning to wonder when the Psychos would step it up a gear when Mourning Star jumped back out of range and shouted to the others.
"Play time's over, Psycho Barrage. Now!"
The rest of the crew jumped back to gathered round her. As one, their eyes glowed and the air rippled for a split second. Then a wave of lightning shot forth from them, smashing into their targets before they could react.
As it hit home, Twilight recognised the huge power behind the attack before she was thrown through the air, explosions appearing all over her armour where ever the lightning struck. Hitting the ground hard, she felt pain for the first time that day, the wind knocked out of her. Wheezing, she got back to her feet, only to be struck down again by a second wave. Pinned under a storm of magical energies, she could see that the others were being mowed down as well.
"You entertained us Twilight and friends," Mourning called to them over the thunder cracks. "We will honour you with the most painful deaths."
Suddenly as it started, the storm ended. Looking up, they saw the Psychos glowing a light blue.
"No, it's too soon!" Mourning manage to shout, before with a bang, they vanished.
To be continued
The Psycho Ponies
By Baron Von Zakary
The Legal Bit: All rights to any characters, devices or other media mentioned belongs to the respective company, including (but not limited to) Hasbro, Saban Entertainment etc. This short story is written purely for parody, not for profit.
Any OC ponies, devices etc are copyright of Von Zakary, not to used without his permission.
The room was lit, but barely. It was the kind of light that let you see a foot in front of your nose, but the rest of the world didn't exist until you stepped into it. This fact didn't weigh too heavily on the residents, when anypony walked in, the lights turned themselves up automatically.
But had somepony been in the room, and had decided to keep the lights off, they would have seen a wonderful sight. Thousands of beads made from navy blue light appeared in the centre of the room, like the night sky of a tiny universe had been captured within these walls.
There are a few colts at art college who would have given their right hind leg to see such a sight, thankfully there was no-one in the chamber. For as soon as they appeared, the stunted suns went into supernova, flooding the room with a blinding flash of cobalt. From the blaze, six ponies stepped out, wreathed in shifting energies.
As the light died out, metal poles rose smoothly from the floor to encircle them. There was a crack as a plume of raw magic shot from Fuchsia to one of them. The power needed to move a single unicorn short distances on flat ground was great. The power needed to shift six ponies at once, accounting for height difference, natural resistance of stone and the like was incredible.
With a final fizzle, the excess bleed off, some unseen mechanism pulling the poles back into the ground. Mourning Star walked briskly off without a word as soon as the rods levelled, leaving the others to chat amongst themselves. Striding down the corridor, she passed Danios's door and made straight for the lab.
Nightmare sat, watching over a tube holding a half formed foal. The deterioration was getting worse, what little colour had been left in her coat the previous night was gone. Whatever life Danios had conjured into the shell before Nightmare took it was spent, only her twisted will kept it going.
She felt Mourning coming, sensing the spark within her next to her own inferno. A patter of hooves followed the filly into the room. Nightmare didn't turn, simply continued to watch her new form take shape. Mourning waited for a moment, before anger over whelmed her fear.
"Do you think you call me back like some dog? We had them all, in the palm of our hooves before you interfered!"
She didn't seem to hear. Mourning opened her mouth, another bout of venom resting on her tongue, when a faintest flicker of azure came off Nightmare. The effect was instantaneous. Mourning fell to the floor, twitching like her mane was full of spiders as the others caught up. They hung in the door way, silenced in their master's presence.
Slowly Nightmare turned, her gaze like a pair of black holes. Regarding Mourning with an air of boredom, she motioned with a leg. Still jerking uncontrollably, Star rose into the air and hovered before Nightmare's face.
"Learn your place." She said coldly, staring into the clone's eyes.
Under Nightmare's scrutiny, her convulsions deepened. As Mourning's jaw began to work frantically with the sound of creaking tendons, she was released. Falling into a heap on the floor, Nightmare walked over her to address the others.
"Does anyone else feel wronged?"
With a whisper of no, all five fell respectfully to one knee.
"Good, now do any of you know why I called you back?"
No one spoke without permission, they were barely even breathing. Star was still wheezing quietly, struggling back to her hooves.
"I have had a change of heart, death is too simple a dish to serve to such adversaries. I want those Ponyvillian's to suffer, to know the wrath of Nightmare. You will destroy them, slowly. Let the fear grow, let them dread the clopping of your hooves. When I deem the time is right, then and only then will you finish them.
Now, tell me how the fight went."
The girls glanced at each other, and then Curio stepped forwards a pace.
"As predicted my lord. We lured them out with ease and fought at reduced capacity to test their capabilities. Since Soaringfury engaged them, they've obtained suits of armour. Similar to that of the royal guard. That increased their resilience, but should pose no threat in the long term."
"Armour?" Nightmare stroked her chin thoughtfully. "Were they set with any jewels?"
"Yes, they seemed to use bracelets to summon the armour. It was clearly advanced unicorn magic."
"So she's brought out the Soul Stones again, you really have stirred up the nest."
"Soul Stones?" Peardrop said questioningly, she winced slightly as Nightmare looked straight at her. Mourning was still struggling back to her hooves.
"A memory, one of the last I got from Luna before we began to separate. Celestia has many weapons and magical contraptions to defend her realm, the Soul Stones fall into this category.
They contain elemental magic. Normally we cannot directly interfere with lesser lifeforms, merely give them little nudges in the right direction. We found that by binding a fragment of our magic into objects, they could utilize it as their own to great effect. Celestia doesn't know it, but those stones are amongst the most powerful magical items in the world."
"Although what Celestia doesn't know would fill several books." Nightmare muttered darkly, almost to herself. "She still believes that there are only two elemental forces in the world. As if all that power could be trapped in only two forms. She has no idea that each side of the elemental battle has hundred of members, each made from different emotions and ideas."
"If you aren't the only dark elemental, then what are you formed from?" Peardrop voiced again with a tone of wonder.
Nightmare paused for a moment, and then smiled slyly.
"I'll leave that to you to work out. Now tell me more about how Celestia's chosen operate."
"They seem to work well as a unit, Twilight leads them and they follow without question. Each is predictable in their actions, using their "special" talent to enhance what little fighting skill they have. Overall they show potential, but could be far better."
"Twilight Sparkle!" Nightmare spat out the words like a viper hawking venom. "Of all those pathetic ponies, she is the worst. She alone foresaw the return of Nightmare Moon, and she robbed me of my revenge, my ultimate victory and the most powerful form I ever took. She shall have the worst fate of all.
When the others are destroyed, she shall be brought before me. I will teach the meaning of regret personally."
"I don't get to destroy her?" Mourning Star asked, anger rising in her voice.
"What did I say about second guessing me?" Nightmare snapped irritably. To her credit, Star didn't flinch, but continued to glare at her. "Twilight's death is mine to inflict and mine alone. You may fight her, wear her down, but not finish her. Have I made myself clear?"
Mourning looked like she had some very choice words, but swallowed them. "As crystal my lord." She said bitterly.
"Good. Now leave, all of you. I have work to do."
Bowing out, all six left and made their way down the corridor.
"This should be a fun assignment, we know that it only takes forty percent of our power to defeat our counterparts, we get to toy with them until then." Chromatic laughed.
"Speak for yourself, that Pinkie is no slough. We may need to keep an eye on her." Fritter replied, a little grumpily.
Settling into their chairs, Curio set up the chess board while Peardrop turned on a small television. Star ignored them and made straight for her quarters. Slamming the door, the lock was heard clicking shut.
Twilight rose with a quiet groan, shaking the dirt from her visor. Strangely she didn't feel hurt anymore. The Psycho's last attack had been shocking in it's power, no single unicorn would have been able to do a thing like that. But it hadn't touched her, just bounced round the suit. The only real damage seemed to have come from being thrown through the air.
Back on her hooves, she removed the armour with a thought and went to help Fluttershy up. Applejack was up again, similarly aiding the others.
"Is everyone ok?" Twilight asked quickly.
"Think so sugar-cube, those fakes pack a mean punch, but nothing we can't handle."
"Gah!" Rarity screamed, everyone turned to look at her. "Some thing's different! That lightning changed me, I can feel it!"
"What?" Everypony looked at her in panic, with a flash of brilliant white, Rarity's armour vanished. A soft gasp sounded.
"Oh my." Fluttershy said quietly.
"What is it!" Rarity cried shrilly.
Twilight's face twitched, she was trying to hide something. Rarity stepped towards her, intent on getting answers when Rainbow Dash burst out laughing. Rounding on her instead, Rarity saw her reflection in Dash's visor and screamed again.
Her coiffure had changed from being long and sleek. Instead every hair had curled and she was now sporting a three foot wide indigo afro. As Rarity stared in horror, Rainbow Dash fell to the floor, clutching her sides from laughing so hard. Behind them, the others were suppressing giggles with varying degrees of success.
"I hate static." Rarity uttered under her breath
"Don't be so frowny Rarity." Pinkie smiled at her. "Now your mane is nearly as stylish and bounce-afric as mine."
"Hey, does anyone else feel that?"
Twilight glanced over at Applejack. "Feel what?"
"Dunno, just something here don't feel right, y'all know what I mean?"
Twilight closed her eyes and stretched out with her other senses. For a moment there was nothing but the smell of mud, then she felt it too. It was in the air, traces of magic, powerful enough for even an earth pony to feel.
Clearing her mind, Twilight probed deeper. She'd never really looked into magical aura's before, and had no real comparison, but this magic just felt wrong. Sensing it poked at some ancient part of her brain, made her want to run and hide.
"It's coming more strongly from over there." She said, more to herself. Without opening her eyes, she wandered across the field, tracking the energy. Most of it was tiny, the remains of spells bleeding back into the universe, it'd be gone in moments. However there was something bigger on the edge of the field.
"Where's she going?" Fluttershy whispered to Applejack.
"Ah'll be a son of a parasprite if I know, but she seems to be onto something. Best not to interrupt her."
They watched as she meandered. Stepping over a small fence, Twilight kept walking on, when she stumbled and fell to floor. Applejack ran over, the others followed right behind her.
"What happened Twi, you ok...whoah nelly!" As she crossed the fence, Applejack saw Twilight was laying next to a group of hoofprints that looked like they were burnt into the ground. Further burn marks lay around them, like small fires had been set all over the place.
It wasn't that which made her exclaim though. It was the feeling as she'd gotten close, same as she'd first noticed, but stronger. It'd felt like an icy finger had run down her spine, and Applejack wasn't too sure if that finger was attached to a body.
"I'm fine AJ," Twilight said with a sigh as she got to her hooves yet again. "It was just a shock sensing that unprepared. This must be what Celestia felt when Soaringfury first attacked us, this is Nightmare's magic."
"How disgusting," Rarity pouted. "If I ever feel this again, it'll be too soon."
"Again? That's a brilliant idea Rarity." Shutting her eyes, Twilight began to breath deeply. After a second, she opened them again.
"I think I've got their scent now, I'm new to this, so it won't be perfect. But I should at least be able to tell if they do any magic within Ponyville's limits."
"Hey Twilight, not wanting to spoil the mood or anything, but I'm gonna be late for work again. Sooo, I'm gonna head off now."
"Don't want to be late for your morning nap do you Dash?"
"I stick by my story." She could almost hear AJ grinning behind her back.
"Sure Rainbow, I think we're safe for now. Unless Rarity's mane decides to unite with Nightmare as well." Twilight smirked.
"The hair jokes are now off limit."
"I think you mean your hair's over the limit!" Pinkie added offhandedly.
Five ponies exploded with laughter again, Rainbow gave Pinkie a hoof bump while Rarity looked decidedly sour.
"That's it, I'm going home before anyone else see me like this."
Rarity started to trot off back into Ponyville, AJ waited until she was out of earshot and motioned the others in close.
"Celestia help them psycho's when she realises how much mud she's got on her fetlocks!"
They all giggled as Rainbow Dash took to her wings.
"Catch you guys later, those clouds aren't going to move themselves."
The four of them watched as she flew off, then started to walk back towards town themselves.
Slipping through the village square, Twilight cut into the library's back garden. With a levitation spell, she floated up onto her balcony and quietly tapped the dirt off her legs. It was still early, she could get back in without Spike knowing that she'd been out.
Apart from a small click as she shut the windows behind her, Twilight was completely silent. Her levitation was wearing off, but it still gave her an amount of lift, no hoof-steps were going to give her away.
Drifting into bed again, Twilight listened, but heard no noise to suggest that she'd disturbed Spike. Snuggling down under the covers, she closed her eyes and relaxed.
You've missed something you know.
Twilight frowned, her snide voice was back again.
"And what have I missed then?" She thought back.
You'll figure it out
"If you can't say anything helpful, then don't say anything!" Twilight thought, with the mental equivalent of snapping.
Waiting to see if anymore pearls of wisdom were coming, Twilight reflected that it would probably be considered weird that she was arguing with herself. The voice was probably just a splinter of her personality, perhaps part of her younger self, but that didn't make it any less annoying.
Apparently content that she was sufficiently ticked off, the voice didn't make a comeback. Rolling over, Twilight tried to drift off, but sleep was beyond her now. Instead she laid there, trying to work out what those words meant After a couple of minutes spent drawing blanks, she sat up again.
"If I can't sleep, then I'll study instead."
Slipping out of bed, Twilight tip hoofed her way out the room and down the stairs. Taking a book off the shelf, she sat at the table and lit a candle. As the tiny flame burst into life, she opened The Bumper Book of Magic and began flicking through it when a small cough made her look up again.
If Twilight hadn't been so keen on catching up with her reading, she might have noticed that the table was already laden with breakfast things. Bowls of cereal lay next to the milk jug and a rack of toast. Butter and honey weren't far away, and at the other end of the table sat a small, tired looking dragon.
Suddenly she realised what the voice was trying to tell her. It had been silent in her room, but Spike was a dragon. Despite various herbal treatments from Zecora and three quietening charms, he still snored like a hydra gargling hammers.
"You've been fighting, haven't you?" He said simply.
"Yes." There was no point in lying to him.
"Did you win?"
"No, but we didn't lose either. There were more of them this time, one for each of us."
"More! Did they hurt you?" Spike growled angrily, but Twilight caught the slight wobble in his voice.
"No, I'm fine, see." Standing, she gave a quick spin and sat down again. "Princess Celestia knew what she was doing, giving us these devices. What are you doing up anyway Spike?"
"I heard you sneaking out the window and couldn't get back to sleep." His eyes downcast slightly. "If only I was bigger, I could have helped, given them the old left hook!" He jabbed at the air like a boxer.
Twilight giggled, her mood definitely lightened. "I'm sure that one day you'll be the most powerful dragon in Equestria, but for now I'm happy that you're my Number One Assistant."
Spike looked up at her, but still seemed a little down.
"I think this toast needs warming." She chided gently
His frown cracked and a small smile sprouted. "You know where the microwave is."
"Yes, but it's not quite the same is it?"
"Ok, ok Twilight, stop twisting my arm." He laughed. Spearing a piece, he let off a burst of flame and plonked it onto her plate.
Taking a bite, Twilight artfully arranged her face into a look of appreciation, ignoring that she'd just ingested a mouthful of charcoal. While Spike busied himself making his famous quintuple decker raspberry jam and ruby breakfast supreme (with an emerald kicker of course) she flicked the cremated piece into the bin and poured out a bowl of muesli.
Soon the kitchen was filled with the sound of content chewing and as the sun shone in through the window, a sense of calm fell over the table.
"Sure I can't tempt you? They're really good."
"Sapphires in blueberry sauce isn't a meal Spike, and putting it on pancakes doesn't make it breakfast food either. Didn't you read that book I gave you?"
"Erm, I think I left it at Pinkie Pie's."
"Spike! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you want to grow up big and..."
"You ok Twilight?"
"Sorry, lost my train of thought for a moment. So, if you want to grow up big and strong, you need to eat right, exercise..."
This was lie. Twilight waited until Spike's eyes had glazed over, before imagining her friends faces to communicate with them.
"I just got a twinge of magic, might just be my imagination, but keep an eye open just in case."
"Dash is on the case!"
"Twilight, could you, not think so loud please. I just got the bunnies settled down for nap time."
Across Ponyville, four mares wore an identical expression of disbelief for a second.
"You hear all that Rarity?" Rainbow Dash asked.
"Miss Rarity, how did you get so filthy? Did Applejack make you help work the fields again?"
"Something like that, more bubbles please darling."
Sitting in the giant bath at Ponyville's Spa, Rarity felt herself again. To think that she'd had to walk all the way home with that ridiculous manestyle, only to find that she was covered in mud as well. It was practically barbaric.
"And I must say, this bracelet, it's simply divine."
"Why thank you Lotus, it's something new from Canterlot." Rarity smiled, allowing for a modest pause before adding, "From Princess Celestia herself."
That set the mood for the rest of her session. Never one to shy away from attention, Rarity was quite happy to be pampered and endlessly told how beautiful she looked. The gossip that she'd received a personal gift from Celestia herself was the icing on the cake.
"Thank you again for fitting me in at such short notice, ciao till next time dears." Rarity called over her shoulder, strutting out like a new mare. Her mane was restored to it's former glory and her coat was glimmering in the late morning sun.
I should probably get started on that order....although it is a lovely day, be a shame to keep such beauty locked up indoors.
She giggled a little at her own thoughts, deciding that the dress could wait for now. A coffee, with something sweet was the civilised thing to do now.
"I hope you didn't have to pay for that." A voice drawled from behind her.
Rarity turned, her best disapproving glare at the ready. She'd been so wrapped up in thoughts of new designs that she hadn't seen the pony leaning against an alleyway. A pony with a light cream coat and purple mane.
"As it happens I got this one on my loyalty card, Curio, was it?" She said curtly.
"That's correct, but I must say I'm disappointed. All of those resources, and that's the best they could do? I would have done better with wire wool and an old tin bath."
"Really? Well I doubt that you came here for a job in health and beauty, I suppose you want to fight me again, don't you?"
Curio shrugged, lazily brushing some dust off her shoulder.
"That's about the size of it. You should feel honoured Rarity, I wasn't ordered to do this. I decided to give up some my free time, just to play with you."
"I doubt even Applejack's family would "play" as roughly as you do."
"Well none of the Apples are here, or your other friends. No one to interrupt our fun."
She rose off the wall and stretched her front legs. Rarity hastily placed her hoof on the unit, a flash of white ringing out as her suit appeared. Curio just laughed, before sprinting forwards.
Hunching as she ran, Curio sprang upwards at the last minute. hoof tensed, ready to strike. The lenses in Rarity's helmet whirred before displaying a suggestion onto her visor, the word "duck!" appearing in large letters. She crouched, low enough that Curio soared over her back, yet somehow high enough that she didn't get dirty again.
Curio bounced off a wall and landed hard. Snapping back up to her hooves, she circled round Rarity, daring her to attack. Rarity took the bait, throwing her punch towards Curio's chest. An ugly smile crossed her face, as she threw a counter of her own.
This time however, she was too slow. Rarity followed through, knocking Curio across the street and into the side of a dustbin. Without missing a beat, Curio lunged, launching rapid blows, her legs blurring with speed.
They clashed, both on hind legs, each reading the other like a book. Rarity would watch as each strike came towards her, and then counter in kind. To them it looked like a dance, Curio leading with Rarity following and changing the routine. To anypony watching, it was two mares going at each other throats.
Switching from quick step to a mock tango, Rarity found herself more and more on the backhoof. She might have been faster, but Curio was stronger and it was only a matter of time before she broke through. As she neatly brushed Curio's hoof aside, Rarity smirked a little at the look of rage on her face before taking her shot.
Curio tried to hit her in the visor, as Rarity had known she would, having blocked it four times already. Side stepping, Rarity put her whole weight behind a single kick. Air whistled off her hoof as it powered through Curio's hasty guard and into her stomach.
With her eyes bulging, Curio had just long enough to let out a cry of pain before she was sent spinning through the air again. Skidding to halt, she glared at Rarity, before laughing loudly.
"You're good sport, I'll give you that Rarity. Lets see how you do in the big league though."
A soft glow surrounded Curio and warnings started flashing all over Rarity's visor. She smiled cruelly, and vanished into thin air. Rarity looked round, startled. She couldn't see Curio any where, and her sensors weren't picking up any trace of her.
Tense seconds passed, and the street remained quiet. Letting out a breath she didn't realised she'd been holding, Rarity dared to believe that it was over. Curio had probably fled back to where-ever those psycho's lived, she reasoned.
"Boo." A voice whispered behind her.
There was nothing that could have been done. A blaze of light blue shot from Curio's horn, striking Rarity head on. As the light faded, the spells effect was obvious, Rarity was still standing exactly as she had been, encased in ice.
"You didn't see that one coming, did you?" Curio gloated, taking a walk round to better admire her work.
Warning, extreme cold detected. Heat spell activating, this will take 10 seconds to prepare. Rarity rolled her eyes at the message, as if she was going to get that long to wait.
"Don't look so worried, this isn't the end for you." She continued to mock, easing into a fighting stance, hoof drawn back. "But it is going to hurt."
10,9, a little counter clicked down, but Rarity knew it was too late. Curio tensed, and threw her punch, every muscle flexing. Rarity just closed her eyes, and waited for the pain to arrive.
There was a thump, and the sound of two bodies colliding at speed, but when Rarity opened her eyes, she was still trapped in the ice, unharmed. Curio, and what ever hit her had rolled outside her field of view. Rarity strained her neck, but still couldn't move.
"You!" Curio sounded shocked.
"Me? Oh yes, me. Do I know you?" The voice was familiar, and Rarity groaned a little.
Of all the ponies, she's saving me?
With a deafening crack, the ice split under a sudden surge of heat. Whipping round, Rarity saw Curio locking eyes with a grey pegasus, a pegasus wearing a Cloudsdale Express saddle bag.
"You're meant to be dead, how did you survive the mountains?" She asked curiously, harmful intent stopped for the moment.
"Dead? The last delivery wasn't that difficult. Why are you being mean to Rarity?" Ditzy replied cheerfully.
"This party's getting crowded, we'll finish this later. Ciao Rarity." With a twinkle of blue, Curio vanished into thin air again.
"Ditzy, get out of here before she freezes you too!"
"On no, that's just a teleport spell, couldn't you tell?"
"That was a..., hang on, how do you know that?"
"I just know these things, you seemed stressed. Do you want a muffin?"
"But she knew who, muffins, wha?"
In the lab, Sprint sat sprawled in front of the tv, apparently watching intently despite the grainy picture. Fuchsia and Peardrop looked down occasionally from their game of cards, but seemed largely uninterested.
As Curio teleported into an adjacent room, they all turned to see what caused the flash of light. Still crackling slightly, she walked in and slumped into a chair.
"So, how'd it go?" Fuchsia asked, pushing a stack of chips across the table.
"Decidedly average. Freezing spells seem to be effective, but I didn't learn much else." She suddenly sat up, eyes lit like a filly with a secret. "Where is Danios?"
"Out." Sprint muttered, not breaking contact with the screen.
"What do you mean out? We're at the top of a mountain."
"Like out, out. You know how he likes his walks, doesn't want to be couped up in here too long. Whatever it is, you can tell it to us."
"I met one of his rejects today." Curio said in a low voice, not wishing to be discreet, just adding a touch of dramatic flair.
"Seriously?" Peardrop asked, looking round. With one hoof, she added another pile to the pot, with the other she turned down the set.
"I was watching that!"
"Quiet, this is business." Her tone made it clear not to push the point. "What happened?"
"Not much, crazy mule crashed onto me during combat. Didn't even seem to remember this place or the doctor." She trailed off, one eye falling onto the screen. "Has Gold'leaf gotten back together with Marey?"
"They tried," Sprint said, sounding a little choked. "Then Bee Balm showed up."
"But she's supposed to be on a cruise!" Curio pulled up a stool, Peardrop glanced at Fuchsia and they both shook their heads disapprovingly. As Pear pushed the rest of her chips into the middle of the table, Fuchsia looked at her hand, and threw it down in disgust.
"Fold. We need another player, go wake Fury up."
"You must be joking, she took three of Danios's sleeping tabs. We'll be lucky if she's up before Friday."
"Well get Mourning then."
"Still sulking in her room, I'd leave her well alone if I were you."
"Just deal 'em then."
The sound of five jaws hitting the ground is something not to be missed, but it went under appreciated this time.
"So one psycho turned up out of the blue, but didn't want to destroy you, and then Ditzy saved you." Twilight said slowly, as if hoping that somepony would jump in and correct her.
Having suffered what Rarity would later describe as a emergency brain shutdown, brought on by stressful circumstances, she'd taken Ditzy back to the library. The others arrived soon after, and one story later, were stunned as well.
"That's exactly what happened, thank goodness she showed up when she did, I might have been hurt." Rarity gasped "I might have chipped a hoof!"
"Didn't have you down as a fighter, must have got the Cloudsdale spirit after all." Rainbow Dash said proudly, giving Ditzy a slap on the back. She just smiled politely back.
"So what happened Ditzy?" Spike asked, handing her a glass of water.
"I was just flying past on a delivery when I saw Rarity put on that new suit and play around with her friend. So I stopped to watch, by the way, nice outfit Rarity, but I'm not sure if metal is you. Try fabric again, you were doing so well with that.
So they started playing, and then it became serious. So I flew down for a closer look, but my wings went out of cycle and I crashed into Rarity's sister. She took off pretty quick afterwards, did I offend her?"
"No dear, that wasn't my sister, that was a clone."
"Clone?" A discomforted look crossed her face for a moment, like something had been disturbed that was better left alone. Then Ditzy's usual cheery smile returned. "That's a funny word, why did this clone want to hurt Rarity?"
"Well somepony made copies of all of us, gave them the power of Nightmare and set them loose. Then Celestia showed up and gave us each a magic stone thingy to help fight back." Pinkie recapped quickly.
"That sounds awful, is there anything I can do to help?"
"Not unless you've got one of these." Dash said before Twilight could open her mouth, waving her bracelet in front of Ditzy's face.
"Actually, there is something she can do. Are you serious about this though Ditzy? You might get hurt."
"Is blueberry the best flavour of muffin?"
Twilight looked confused.
"Of course it is, and of course I'll help you."
"Thank you, that means a lot. Spike, get the royal chest please."
While the young dragon went upstairs to retrieve the chest, Applejack turned to face the mail mare.
"Are you really sure about this sugarcube? Them Psycho's pack a mighty wallop, and not to look a gift horse in the mouth or nothin, but we ain't exactly had much to do with each other before now."
Another weird look crossed her face before the smile returned. "I don't know, it just feels like the right thing to do. Beside, what kind of pony would I be to turn down a friend in need?"
"Here it is." Spike announced, bringing in the wooden box. Twilight took it off him and removed the seventh device from it's slot.
"Celestia gave us these the first time we were attacked, she said that they've been the weapons of hero's across the ages. Attach it to your leg, place a hoof on it and activate it with your mind."
Ditzy placed the bracelet on her leg, and after a few seconds burst forth with silver light. Twilight hadn't mentioned that this was the experimental unit, she'd been a little curious to see what it was like. As the light faded, she got her answer.
It wasn't that much different from their own armour. The style of the plate looked older, and there was a lot of extra metal work that had been omitted from the later models, but that was about it. The colour was a gun metal grey, similar to her coat, and a V shaped visor adorned the helmet.
"This is nice." Ditzy said happily. "I see why you do this now. Fighting in these must be such fun."
"It's, not all bad." Twilight admitted. "I can't wait to tell Princess Celestia that we've found another to fight for our cause. Thank you again Ditzy, I'm sure now that we'll have no trouble defeating those Psycho's."
"Why Twilight, your turning into quite the little general, giving speeches like that." Rarity tittered, Twilight just blushed a little.
"Hey, there's seven of us now, you know what this calls for?" Pinkie exclaimed, bouncing in her seat.
"I couldn't think." Dash said sarcastically.
"A party silly, imagine not being able to think of those! I'd better get back and start the fun, Sugercube Corner, 7 o'clock, be there or be square!"
Before anyone could object to this plan, a pink blur shot out the door. They all looked at each other for a moment as Ditzy removed the armour.
"Twilight, I still have deliveries to make. How will I know when to help you?"
"That's easy enough. You'll hear my voice in your head, can't miss it."
"That's nice, you have a lovely voice. Anyways I'd better make tracks, bye everyone."
"Bye Ditzy." They all shouted after her as she flew out the door, narrowly missed the house across the street and disappeared from view.
"Well, now that's sorted, I simply must get an espresso before I die!" Rarity proclaimed, lounging back to optimise the effect. "Care to join me Fluttershy? My treat."
"Oh, well, I suppose I could."
"Marvelous." With that, Rarity left. Fluttershy thanked Twilight for having her, and followed Rarity towards the town square.
"Well, I'd best get back to the orchards, can't have Big Mac getting ahead of me." Applejack laughed, rising out of her chair. "Later Twi."
As she left as well, Dash drained her glass and stood up. "And I've got to, wait, no I'm done for the day." She lent in close to Twilight. "I worked up some seriously fluffy cloud earlier, I'm napping like there's no tomorrow! See ya!"
There was a blur of cyan as Rainbow Dash made her usual speedy exit. Twilight shut the door after and looked quizzically at Spike.
"Could this day get any stranger?"
"You had to ask didn't you?"
There is a little known fact that Celestia, and when available Luna, play games with their subjects on a near daily basis. Their favourite involves a unwitting pony somewhere in the kingdom, and some careful magic.
Having chosen a subject, they subtly alter one tiny aspect of their lives. A single sock might vanish from the laundry, or a book long thought lost might re-appear on their bedside table that evening. After the caper, the royal sisters would watch on to see how it played out through the day.
This game is harmless enough, and has little impact on the grand destiny of ponykind. It does however have an unexpected side affect; by changing somepony's future, they usually end up in just the right position to comically answer any vague questions or ironic statements made that day.
Quite why this happens, neither sister can answer. But it does go someway to explain why the next pony to enter the library was a embarrassed stallion dressed in only a fedora hat, and shaved bare, save for the insignia of a nearby university.
Following that, the rest of the week was completely normal, even Pinkie's party falling into that category for once. As a fourth day passed Twilight and Spike found themselves sat in the living room, arguing a much worn point.
"For the last time Spike, you can't just dismiss any program with an inch of depth!"
"We've been over this Twilight, I don't do any girly nonsense. Why do you even watch that puerile drivel?"
"I'll remind you of that the next time that cartoon about the cards is on. My soaps may not be as action packed as you like, but they have real characters, and believable plots. Spike, doing the "I'm gonna throw up" mime, you wore that into the ground years ago. Spike?"
Cheeks puffed out like a hamster, he opened his mouth to let off a blast of emerald flame. The fumes congealed and a roll of parchment fell into his outstretched claw. Clearing his throat, Spike unfurled it and read aloud.
"My Dearest Twilight Sparkle
I am delighted to hear that a seventh warrior has emerged, this is surely a sign that the tide is turning in our favor.
However at this time of joy, I must ask for help again. I fear that Nightmare or her followers might try and strike at Canterlot, in particular, I fear for Luna's safety. They took her once, and I will do everything in my power to see that it doesn't happen again.
To this end, I would like you and two of your friends to come to Canterlot Castle for a few days. The three of you will protect her whilst we finish negotiations with the Eastern boarders, after which she can come to stay in Ponyville with you.
A carriage will arrive in the town square at 6pm to collect you all, please don't be late. (The guards are getting snippy, something about not being a taxi service.)
Looking forward to seeing you again.
"Nice, free holiday in Canterlot!" Spike laughed, bouncing up and down in his seat.
"Not quite Spike, but it will be nice to be back for a while." A happy look flitted onto her face. "Celestia must really believe in me, if she trusts me enough to protect Luna."
"Well she's always believed in you Twilight, ever since I was a hatchling." Spike's muffled voice called from the cupboard, seconds later he re-emerged, pulling out a suitcase. "So who are you going to take with you?"
"That's "whom" Spike, and I don't know yet. I guess I'll just ask at lunch today and see which pony volunteers."
"Lunch? What time?" His ears perked up.
Twilight glanced over at the clock. "About now actually, you carry on packing, and don't forget my copy of Magical Melodies."
"But, what about lunch?" A practised look of cute slid over Spike. His pupils started slowing swelling to the edges of his eyes.
"Nice try, but this is going to be a girly lunch, you'd be bored to tears. Better keep on packing."
"But, I wouldn't really, and she's gone again. You and your big mouth Spike."
"But then his nerve gave out, and he just ran from my shop."
A peal of raucous laughter spilt from their table and off into the street. The six of them sat outside The Pit and Cart, enjoying one of their casual get togethers.
"So after walking all the way from Trottingham just to meet you, he bolts like Big M when Granny gets the soap out?"
"Well I think he had something other than fine tailoring on his mind, if the bouquet of roses were anything to go by." Rarity told them with exuberance, finishing her sentence with a sly wink, causing another outbreak of laughter.
"But enough about my weekend, didn't you have some important news Twilight?"
"Celestia has asked for myself and two of you to come to Canterlot for a few days. Is anypony free, we're due to leave this evening."
"Aw man, I've got to show some newbies the ropes tomorrow morning!" Rainbow whined loudly. "So not fair."
"Why did you mention this earlier, I could have used the packing time Twilight!" Rarity pouted, only half joking. "Now, should I take evening wear, or just smart casual?"
"Take what you think is appropriate, just limit it to one saddle bag, we don't want the guards putting their backs out."
"Just one bag?" She pouted again, as Fluttershy quietly spoke up.
"I'm sorry Twilight, but Hummingway sprained her wing, she really needs looking after, if that's ok with Celestia."
"She'll understand, Pinkie what about you?"
"No go, Twilighto. I've got a huge order to fill, and then I get to try out my new baking tin. Ever wondered what a ten gallon cupcake would be like? Well after tomorrow, you'll need wonder no more!"
"Well, good luck. Applejack?"
"Ah, why not? Mac went over yesterday on business, I'm sure he'll be happy to see a familiar face. What time we leaving?"
"A carriage is coming at six to pick us up from the town square."
"One bag and only five hours to pack? You will be the death of me Twilight Sparkle!"
"And to think, Nightmare put so much effort into her plan." Twilight said dryly, looking over the menu. "Now, has anypony tried the roast vegetable platter here yet?"
As a suit clad stallion came out to take their orders, the conversation descend firmly back into the trivial. The sun continued to beat down on them, the meal passing with all the usual pleasantries that good friends bring.
"So I said that I'd never heard of a pony getting a cutie mark from eating shortbread, but it was worth a go. So we looked up the Equestria record, and started mixing up a batch..."
Leaning back into her chair, Twilight rolled her eyes as they all waited for the pudding to arrive.
She looked round, the word had slipped almost silently through her mind, and just for a fraction of a second, she'd felt cold. Like the void of time had pressed down on her.
"Did anyone else feel that?"
"Well of course we felt it, anypony would felt a sugar-rush after that much shortbread!"
"Is that why y'all came marching down the street in a kilt, playing them baggy pipes?"
"What can I say, I felt patriotic."
"But, you've never even been there."
Thinking for a moment, Twilight dismissed it as a breeze and instead focused her attention on the tray of sweet crackers and cheese being placed before her.
"Spike! I brought back some quartz, get it while its hot!"
Placing the bag on the table, Twilight flumped onto the sofa, wishing that she could loosen her coat a little sometimes. It was just occurring to her that perhaps she should cut back on the cheese board, or at least join Fluttershy for yoga from time to time, when she realised how quiet it was.
Looking round, there was no sign of him. With a sigh reluctance, Twilight got back to her hooves and began trotting upstairs. There was a half packed suitcase on the bed, and a great deal of books on the floor, but still no Spike.
Scratching her head thoughtfully, Twilight back down the stairs again, wondering if he'd gone to pick up a fresh pack of quills. Walking over to cupboard, she turned as something caught her eye. There, on the table was a roll of parchment with her name on it.
Levitating it before her, Twilight read the neat script, eyes widening with every line.
While you were out, I paid a little visit and borrowed Spike. If you want him back, you'll find us at Star-rise Spire at 1am.
Come alone, and tell no-pony. If I suspect foul play, then Spike will be destroyed before you even set hoof in the spire.
As she collapsed onto the sofa again, Twilight felt a sickness that had nothing to do with food. How could this have happened on her watch? What in Celestia's name was happening to Spike right now? No, This was not the time for wallowing in regret. Sitting up, her eyes narrowed.
"No-pony takes Spike away from me!" She shouted, before placing a hoof on her soul stone.
Hey AJ, Rarity, something important came up, so Spike and I won't be joining you for the coach ride. We've sent a letter to Celestia already, so just go on ahead and we'll meet you later.
If you say so sugahcube, catch you later.
Shall I save your ticket for the Canterlot opera?
No, Applejack can have mine.
Oh happy days.
That night when Luna raised the moon, she decided to put a little extra twinkle into the stars and as Twilight walked along, she was grateful for the light.
Star-rise Spire was a monument built long ago in a valley far to the South of Ponyville, she could have just teleported there, but the distance gave Twilight time to think. With each hoof step, she thought of spells that might be useful and tried to remember the layout of the tower.
As midnight passed, the spire finally came into view. Made from black and grey stone, it cast an imposing silhouette over the valley walls. Looking up, Twilight saw a tiny gleam of light coming from one of the topmost windows.
With a small nudge, the oak doors swung open. As quietly as she could, Twilight walked in and looked round. The entrance chamber was modest; a circular room with faded paintings of alicorns on the walls. More importantly, she noticed, were the disturbances in the dust leading up the grand staircase.
Up and up she walked. Finally the endless flights of steps gave way to another circular chamber. Moonlight spilt in from a balcony, while a torch cast flickering light over the glass cage next to the window. At the sound of her hoof-steps, a form turned over behind the glass and looked at her.
"Twilight!" The relieved voice of Spike came through the air holes.
"Spike!" She called back, running over and casting her eye over the cage. "Are you ok?"
"Fine, aside from being stuck in here." He said happily, watching her examine the lock. "Mourning moved us every couple of hours, then finally dumped me here and left."
"She probably didn't want me locking onto her magic and turning up earlier." Twilight muttered. "How did she know to do that?"
"Because she thinks like you do." A cold voice rang out from the balcony, and Mourning slowly walked in. "I figured that you might have learnt how to trace magic by now, clearly my efforts to mask it weren't in vain after all. Not that it matters overly, tell me, do you know where we stand?"
Twilight shot her a quizzical look, but couldn't resist answering. "Star-rise Spire, originally built in honour of Princess Luna. After a yearly visit, the locals decided that she needed a grander location to raise the night, so they built this tower."
"Correct, but do you know the facts that some historians chose to forget? This is where Nightmare Moon rose the eternal night, and, regrettably, it was here that Celestia defeated her. I thought that you might appreciate that before I destroy you."
"I didn't know that, but I'm not planning on leaving this spire without Spike either. Why did you take him anyway?" Twilight asked, anger rising in her tone.
Mourning smiled slightly. "Nightmare forbid me to destroy you, she wanted to do something special, but why should she get all the fun? Spike is my ticket back, his kind are almost impossible to study normally. Imagine what Danios could do with a live dragon to research at his leisure. Only one of us is leaving here tonight, and I plan to leave with Spike."
"Over my dead body." She snarled.
"Then we are agreed." Star smiled back. She raised her hoof as her horn started glowing gently. Outside dark clouds began to gather, blocking out the silvery glow of the moon. Pointing her hoof at Twilight, there came a crack of thunder from outside. The room suddenly filled with light as a bolt of lightning curved in, aimed straight for Twilight's heart.
Just before it hit, she glanced at the surge of energy, sending it bouncing back out. Mourning looked irked, and twitched her hoof, horn glowing brighter than ever. Three more bolts charged in, but were deflected at the last second again, pinging off a shield of pure thought.
"Dodge this then!" Star shouted, the light spilling from her horn like a river. With a crack like the cough of a giant, the roof splintered into rubble as one colossal blast rained down. Spike flinched to the back of his cage, and Mourning squinted as a plume of dust rose up.
As the last fragment of stone clattered to the floor, Star sent a gust of wind into the room. Slowly, the form of Twilight cut through the gloom, standing unharmed. She idly looked down at the the perfect circle cut into the floor around her while Mourning cursed under her breath.
"Magic truly is your forte," Mourning spat, her usual calm slipping. "But let's see how you fight without friends to cover your back."
Twilight said nothing, just summoned her armour and stared defiantly. Star cast her eyes upwards and then back, the shriek of tortured metal calling through the still night air as a piece was torn from the ceiling. Holding the jagged bar tightly in a telekinetic grip, she gave it a test swing.
I need a weapon. Twilight thought desperately.
As a new display sprang up on her visor, there was a brief flash and something appeared in front of her. Grabbing it, Twilight looked at the sword she was now holding. The blade was made from the same deep purple as her armour and set with a black star hilt.
They swung, broken steel meeting smooth alloy in a shower of sparks. The blades ground against each other as their masters forced them on, squealing loudly. Finally Twilight gave and drew back, swinging low as Mourning tried to press the advantage.
As they parried, moonlight shone through the hole onto them. With a crash, like the anvil of a world forge, they locked again, Mourning stared into Twilight's visor, and she stared back. It was still shocking to see such hatred coming from her eyes.
"Why are you doing this?" She shouted, hoping to catch her off guard.
"Because I know what I like, and I like what I know!" Mourning grinned back, blocking the hasty blow aimed for her neck. "But let me ask you something. Did you ever waltz with Celestia under the synodic glow?"
"What does that mean?" Twilight shouted back, angling her sword before she lost a leg. As she lowered the blade, Mourning swung hers like a bat, catching Twilight high on the helmet. The sound of shattering mixed with a cry of pain followed by a heavy thud as she hit the wall.
"It doesn't have to mean anything, I just like how it sounds." Mourning gloated, walking slowly over as Twilight struggled back up. Her visor was split, while large cracks wormed across the metal. With a groan, she removed the helmet and threw it aside.
"That's better, face to face." Mourning raised her sword, Twilight was still leaning against the wall, panting. "Don't worry, I'll take good care of your Spikey Wikey."
She swung, the blade hissing through the air. Just before it made contact, Twilight's blade sprung from the floor and knocked it aside. Swinging wildly, she drove Mourning back a few paces.
"This. Ends. NOW!" She bellowed, her eyes flooded with rage. Metal tasted metal as she battered at Mourning's defenses, perhaps it was the adrenaline, but she could have sworn she saw a flicker of fear on the clone's face.
Streaks of purple littered the air as Twilight struck harder and faster. Stumbling back, Star hoof landed not on solid floor but on debris. As she slipped, her focus waned and with an almighty clang, Twilight knocked the blade from her grasp. Flying across the room, it embedded itself in the wall.
Mourning flung herself backwards, narrowly avoiding being skewered. Twilight came hot on her heels, sparks flying as her sword skimmed off the granite. Finally, they reached the edge of the balcony, Mourning breathing heavily as Twilight rested her blade onto Star's collarbone.
"Yield." She said quietly.
"This isn't over yet, if I die, you go with me Sparkle!" She snarled back, letting off a blast of horn light. The mortar beneath them vanished, and in a shower of bricks, they plummeted over the edge.
Wind rushed past as they fell, cold night air stinging their eyes. Leaning forward, Twilight sped after Mourning, sword raised. Closing in she made to swing, when a bolt of lightning sounded in the distance. Faltering for a second, Mourning leveled the playing field by kicking her in the stomach.
With a gasp, Twilight let the sword drop from her mental hold and punched her square on the jaw. Instinct took over, and she let lose a rain of blows onto Mourning, striking every inch that she could reach.
Sadly gravity cares not for the trifles of unicorns, this was made evident by the floor bounding up to meet them. At the last moment, their blows connected, throwing them apart. What came next was two soft thumps, followed closely by a sickening crunch.
Both Twilight and Mourning had cast dampening spells, with the result that the last few feet felt like falling through marshmallow. There was nothing in place however to slow the sword that had been falling with them.
Limping over, Twilight felt a little sickened by what she saw. Mourning was laying flat on her back, the hilt sticking out the side of her chest. With a rattling breath, she pulled the blade out and collapsed again.
Taking her weapon back, Twilight lent in close. The wound was reasonably clean, a clot already forming. But it was with obvious effort that Mourning opened an eye and looked at her.
"Finish me, I won't stop till it’s over." She rasped, breathing heavily.
Twilight hovered the blade over her heart. It was so easy, and yet she found herself hesitating. Mortal enemy or not, she deserved better than this.
Go on, kill her! A voice sounded in her head, a voice that sounded worryingly like Pinkie Pie's.
No, sometimes you just have show a little kindness!
Wrestling with her thoughts, a new idea came to life. It'd worked before, could such a simple plan work again?
"No." Twilight said, casting her sword to the ground. "I have something for you Mourning Star, a gift."
Kneeling down, Twilight took Star in her arms and gazed into her eyes.
"Take this, three years worth of my happiest memories. All at once, all for you!"
A tiny purple spark passed between them, Mourning's eyes widening as she started to convulse.
"What is this? What have you done to me!" She cried, let out a louder wail than when she was stabbed. Without warning, a shadow of purest black jumped from her wound, pitching Twilight off her. The shadow turned to them, a vague face forming before it shattered into nothingness.
To be continued
Sorry that this chapter took so long to release. Between bouts of depression, being homeless for three weeks and then Christmas, it's been hard to find time to write. I hope that it was worth the wait, and hopefully the next chapter will be out a little sooner.
Thanks for sticking with it. Now if you'll excuse me, I haven't seen any new episodes since Sisterhooves Social, so I'm going to watch like it was going out of style. =)