Twilight flinched backward, rubbing her head. She was back in Rarity’s apartment, and it looked as if nothing had changed, save the poem having disappeared from the countertop, and a wriggling Drammatica struggling to free herself from the ropes and binds that constrained her on the floor.
“Don’t hurt yourself. Let me help,” Twilight said. I’ll worry about it later... right now, I need to figure out what to do with her. Hmm... She got a serrated kitchen knife and cut Drammatica’s gag off, though she kept most of the bindings intact.
“W-Well?” Drammatica asked, though she had a brief stammer as she recovered from her near-death experience. “I have places to be, Magic.”
“I know, I know,” Twilight shrugged, grinning slyly.
Drammatica exhaled, resting her head on the floor. “Fine, then. What do you want?”
“First, a thank you, for me getting you out of Arrogance’s realm,” Twilight replied.
“Psh. You had no control over that situation and you know it,” Drammatica sneered.
“...Fair enough,” Twilight admitted. “Second, I want an apology for what you did to Applejack this morning.”
“I did nothing to harm her,” Drammatica scowled.
“Yes, you did, indirectly. You tricked me into showing Applejack her brother was dead in the worst light possible,” Twilight said, gritting her teeth and trying to hide her embarrassment.
“I refuse,” Drammatica growled. “My actions do not merit remorse, and they never will. Not for you.”
“Then I refuse to let you go,” Twilight stated, sitting down on a nearby couch.
“If you hold me against my will any longer it will be qualified as unlawful imprisonment, and I can have you jailed for such an offense,” Drammatica threatened, craning her neck to look up at Twilight.
Twilight rolled her eyes. “Fine, then. At the risk of being sent to jail, I guess I better just, well, set you free without any explanation as to why you have a grudge against the Elements of Harmony. Specifically.”
“You’re so clueless,” Drammatica hissed, though Twilight heard real pain in her voice. “It’s only fair that you and your friends are suffering. You’re oblivious to everypony’s pain save your own.”
“Drammatica, just tell me what’s going on,” Twilight pleaded, rubbing her eyes. “I’d like to understand your position, all I need you to do is tell me what it is! I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time understanding just why you’d go around screwing up Equestria just because something unfortunate happened! I’m sorry about Saphira, I really, really am, but that can’t be the sole reason you set out to end us!”
“You wouldn’t understand. You can’t understand, because you aren’t in my situation, and you likely never will be,” Drammatica said quietly. “When I heard that the Elements of Harmony had liberated the Dreamscape, I nearly broke down with joy. I finally had my family back again. We could finally rebuild our lives.” She paused for a moment, taking a shaky breath. “Can you imagine how I felt when both my husband and my daughter were among the twenty or so not to make it?”
Twilight pursed her lips. ...I guess I really do feel awful for her. Maybe. She shook her head, trying to sort through her muddled thoughts. At least, I would, if she wasn’t trying to split Equestria in two. I’ll save my pity for after we defeat Vengeance. After that, Equestrian politics won’t really matter all that much anymore. At least, they won’t to me. But until then...
Seeing Twilight remain unconvinced, Drammatica added, her lower lip trembling, “Can you fathom how I felt when I found out that the Element of Honesty had killed my daughter, the filly I gave birth to, the filly I raised? Do you think such a crime is oh so easily forgiven?”
Twilight exhaled. “Fine. Just keep in mind, I’ve lost a lot of friends during this war, too,” she argued, “but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go around creating problems instead of fixing them.”
“What I’m doing is trying to enlighten the public as to why the Elements would not make satisfactory leaders,” Drammatica growled.
“We don’t want to be leaders!” Twilight exclaimed, exasperated. “All we want is to defeat Discord and then live the rest of our lives in peace. Is that so hard to understand? And you have some funny methods of ‘enlightening’ the public, Ms. Tabloid,” she hissed.
“If you don’t like my reports, then perhaps you should write your own,” Drammatica replied cooly, her voice dripping venom. “I wouldn’t be able to make you seem in the wrong if you all weren’t so secretive.”
“Well I’m sorry, but I just don’t like the idea of making all our plans public information!” Twilight countered.
Drammatica laughed. “Does it matter? Vengeance’s spies have thoroughly threaded themselves in Equestrian government. The Sans Sucre has already caught half a dozen of them red-hooved. My apologies, but your plans are anything but secret at this point. Who knows how many spies are still sniffing around in your business?”
Twilight found she had no rebuttal. She rubbed her forehead. “What a mess,” she moaned.
“I believe this is the moment when you untie me and we both go on our merry way,” Drammatica suggested.
“No,” Twilight said quickly. “First, I need to let you know something. Consider it the latest ‘scoop,’ or whatever. After Dash’s wings are fixed and Fluttershy is back on her hooves, we’re going straight to Vengeance. If we lose, we die, and if we win, the war is basically over. Vengeance is the only pony in Equestria that can stand a chance against our combined forces.”
“This is relevant how?” Drammatica asked, irritated.
“We need a month, at most. Drammatica, can you, out of the goodness of your heart, please call off your thugs and allow us to send ourselves to our deaths? On our own terms? We’ve made it out of some bad situations; there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to beat Vengeance if we’re all together. And if we don’t, then we’re out of your mane forever. All we need you to do is please stop trying to have everypony hate us. For a month. Is that so much to ask?” Twilight pleaded, leaning down to Drammatica’s level.
“...I could do that, perhaps,” Drammatica began, nodding slightly as she formulated her plan, “but don’t expect a complete cease of my reports. The citizens of Equestria will need something to keep them pacified until you embark on your mission. I will do what I can to keep that to a minimum, though.”
“Do I have your word?” Twilight asked seriously.
“For what it’s worth, yes,” Drammatica answered. “Now would you kindly release me?”
As Twilight cut the rest of Drammatica’s bonds, Rarity walked in through the door, carrying a large and heavy-looking bag of newly-bought clothes. She still looked sleep-deprived, but not as bad as she had when Twilight first saw her. She blinked upon seeing both Twilight and Drammatica standing in her apartment.
“...It’s a long story,” Twilight sighed.
“I have time, darling,” Rarity said, setting her bag on her couch. She didn’t look completely coherent, and she was a bit clumsy. “Can I offer you two anything to drink?”
Drammatica glanced at Twilight, probably wondering how the two of them came to an agreement so quickly. “I appreciate the offer, but I have somewhere to be,” she said before swiftly exiting the apartment.
“And you, Twilight?” Rarity asked, not skipping a beat.
Twilight sighed and eventually said, “Just some grape juice, please.”
“So, the bargain you struck up with her is, essentially, by the end of the month we have to go and either defeat Vengeance... or die trying?” Rarity asked, nursing a glass of white wine. They were both sitting at Rarity’s kitchen table, and according to a nearby clock, it had only been fifteen minutes since Twilight left Sweetie’s abode. The clock was ticking slowly today.
Twilight nodded as she sipped her fruity liquid.
Rarity slammed her forehooves down on the table in a rage, almost spilling both their drinks. “Are you CRAZY?!” she shouted.
Twilight didn’t appear to be fazed. “Probably. But it was all I could think of, and, to be honest, a month is a ways away. I’ll discuss it with Luna and see if we can’t push Drammatica any further. Either way, our fate is sealed.”
“Well, when you put it that way, I suppose I’ll just jump right onto the merry little bandwagon you have here,” Rarity growled, taking another sip. She rested her head on the table and moaned softly. “Ohh, I’m too tired to deal with this right now...”
“Then why are you drinking?” Twilight inquired.
“Because I’m too tired to deal with this right now,” Rarity answered, levitating some of the liquid out of her glass to her lips. She did so clumsily, however, and some of it spilled onto the table.
“Oh, sure, rub it in,” Twilight grumbled, feeling the ivory patch on her forehead. She awkwardly picked up her glass and took another sip. “You know, Rarity, I was hoping that you, me, and the rest of our friends would be able to go out to dinner with Sweetie. But if you want to stay stuck in your gloom and doom, I might as well join you... I’m not feeling up to anything either, to tell you the truth.”
“Oh, is it because of what happened in the meeting?” Rarity asked. She didn’t pick her head up from the table, but one of her ears swiveled in Twilight’s direction.
“Did Applejack tell you about it?” Twilight asked.
“No, although I did see her rushing past me earlier today. She didn’t even stop to say hello. I asked Luna what happened in the meeting, and, well... I suppose her reaction is reasonable, all things considered,” Rarity stated. Her glass was nearly empty, and Twilight watched grumpily as she levitated a nearby bottle to fill it.
“Rarity, she gave Guilt a black eye and then bucked him into the wall,” Twilight said.
“Like I said, reasonable,” Rarity repeated. After she took another sip, she got a compact out of her saddlebags and applied some blush, once again using telekinesis in the process.
“Will you stop that?” Twilight asked irritably.
“What?” Rarity asked, in the middle of applying lipstick.
“Using magic,” Twilight said.
“Oh! Sorry, darling. I didn’t realize,” Rarity said, hastily putting her beauty kit away. “I just wanted to look my best for when we go out.”
“But we’re only going out with friends. It’s not a date or anything,” Twilight said, confused.
Rarity chuckled, standing up and finishing her glass in one swig. “Twilight, on average I have been getting around four hours of sleep a day for the past week or so. The makeup is to make me look normal, not pretty.” She chuckled again, slightly delirious.
Twilight examined Rarity for a moment, wondering whether or not to say something, then decided better. “Umm... if you say so,” Twilight said, standing up as well.
“You drive,” Rarity told Twilight as they both walked out the door.
“Drive what?” Twilight asked, confused.
“Oh, never mind. Shall we?” Rarity asked, as she locked her apartment and put on a light coat. “It’s been too long since I’ve seen Sweetie.”
Twilight arched an eyebrow as she watched Rarity amble off down the hallway. I hope that was wine she was drinking...
“Oh, and Twilight? Before I forget, there’s something I want to ask you,” Rarity began.
“Sure,” Twilight said. “What is it?”
“Well... it’s about Scootaloo,” Rarity said, biting her lip. “Do you remember how Luna cast that spell on all of us to let us know whether or not one of us died?”
“Yeah...” Twilight began, before it suddenly dawned on her. “You’re right! The spell hasn’t activated yet!”
“It’s just a thought. I wouldn’t get my hopes up,” Rarity said quickly. “I’m sure Vengeance could remove the spell if she truly wanted to.”
Twilight sighed. “I guess... Still, it’s something.” She shook her head, disappointed, before remembering something and asking, “Rarity?”
“Yes, darling?” she replied.
“...Tell Sweetie that I won’t be able to make it to the dinner. I still need to talk to Applejack about what happened this morning. It wouldn’t be fair of me to go out and enjoy myself before I know she’s okay. So can you just take Pinkie with you instead?” she asked hopefully.
Rarity sighed. “Alright. I understand.”
Applejack’s apartment was right above Rarity’s. Twilight silently pondered what she was going to say, to try and make her actions seem at all reasonable, but in the end she knew there were no excuses for what she had done, so she simply pushed open the door to Applejack’s apartment and silently stepped in.
It was mostly dark, save a few candles burning on the living room table around an old photograph of Big Macintosh. He was holding the newly born Applejack in his forelegs in the picture. On the couch sat Applejack herself, looking much older and wearier than she had just this morning. She wore a simple black dress, which was unusual for her, and was silently cradling herself as she mourned her big brother.
For a while, Twilight stood in silence, wondering if Applejack had noticed her entrance. She slowly closed the door and walked over to her friend, expecting the worst, expecting her to violently turn on her like she had with Guilt. However, that wasn’t the case. As Twilight sat down, Applejack gripped Twilight’s hoof in hers, holding it tightly as if she were fighting back tears.
“There was nothin’ ya could’ve done,” she said quietly. “Ah... Ah don’t blame ya. You didn’t have all that many chances ta tell me.”
Twilight bit her lip. Isn’t this the part where I feel better? she asked herself. But again, that wasn’t the case. Applejack’s soft forgiveness made her feel several times more guilty for what she had done. “Applejack... it is my fault. Big Mac deserved better than this. I’m a terrible friend for not telling you as soon as I could.”
“Well... when was that?” Applejack asked, turning to look at Twilight. “Twi, be honest with me. Was there a good time?”
“Even if there wasn’t, I should have told you,” Twilight argued, though she found herself squeezing Applejack’s hoof tighter as her own tears rose to the surface. “It wasn’t right of me to keep it from you.”
Applejack pulled her hoof away from Twilight’s. “Twi... Even if ya did ta tell me, you know jus’ as well as Ah do that Ah woulda had the same ol’ nasty reaction Ah did with Guilt. So, now that it’s over... well, whaddaya want me ta do? Hit ya?”
“I just want to make you fe-feel better,” Twilight cried. “I’ve t-tried so hard to do the right thing, b-but I just can’t. I’m not even sure wh-what the right thing is anymore!”
“...None of us do, Twi. Not on our own,” Applejack said. She sighed, turning away and picking up the picture frame. “Twi, yer tryin’ ta do this ‘n that all on yer lonesome when ya have friends ta help. It’s wrecked ya. You can see it just as plainly as Ah can.”
Twilight’s tears were rapidly replaced with an angry frustration. “Okay, then. What do you want me to do?”
“Quit actin’ like you can do everythin’,” Applejack mumbled, setting the frame back down and turning to her friend. “Twi, it’s over. We can’t go on like this. Not when the Elements of Discord have us at every turn. Not when we’re puttin’ all our friends and family’s lives at risk jus’ by bein’ related to ‘em.” She turned back to Twilight. “The one thing Ah fear more than anythin’ else in Equestria... is gettin’ to the point where Ah jus’ don’t have anythin’ left to lose.”
Twilight stood up angrily. “So you just want to let the Elements of Discord take over Equestria?”
“If that’s what it takes,” Applejack said simply. She blew out the candles. “Now siddown. Ah don’t wanna argue with ya, Twi. Ah’m jus’ seein’ what’s written on the wall.”
Twilight didn’t sit down. “You’re seriously considering giving up?” she asked in shock.
“If that’s what it takes,” Applejack repeated steely, glaring up at Twilight. “Ah don’t know if you’ve realized, but the Elements of Discord seem ta have it out fer me. One by one, the Apple family’s bein’ picked off because Ah’m involved with this war. An’ you want me to be selfish an’ jus’ continue tryin’? When Ah know it’s hopeless?”
Twilight gritted her teeth. “It’s never hopeless. Don’t you ever say that, Applejack. Now that we have Guilt on our side, we have a better chance of winning this than we ever did before.”
Applejack’s lower lip trembled. She turned to her picture of Big Macintosh. “...Ah guess now I know how much his life meant to ya.”
Twilight exhaled. “You know that’s not what I meant. Stop twisting my words around!”
“Don’t yell at me,” Applejack mumbled, turning away, too hurt to continue. She wiped her eyes again, and said, her voice choked with defeat, “Twilight, We’re on the fast track ta gettin’ everypony we love killed. Ah jus’ don’t think ya understand. Ah don’t think any a the others’ll understand, either. They still all have families.”
“Applejack, that isn’t true either. We know what you’re going through. Rarity’s almost lost Sweetie Belle twice or more, and just the other day I found out Spike’s defected over to the side of Discord,” Twilight argued. “Everypony in our old home had to evacuate because it was burnt to the ground!”
“Yeah,” Applejack sniffled, “but they ain’t dead.”
The words struck Twilight like a mallet. Her argument staggered, then collapsed. She sighed, sitting down, and said quietly, “...I guess you’re right. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. There’s no reason to,” Applejack said, patting Twilight on the back in an effort to calm her down. “But Ah’m done. Forever. Ah’m not gettin’ myself involved in anythin’ yer doin’. Ah’m not goin’ out and killin’ myself against Envy or Arrogance or Vengeance. Ah jus’ can’t. Not when Ah know they’ll hurt the little bit a family Ah have left.”
Twilight took a breath. “Applejack... there’s something I want to communicate with you. It’s important, so listen closely. Well, actually, two things, but anyway...
“The first thing is that, well, the Elements of Discord aren’t going to just let you go. They’re going to hunt you down just like the rest of us. And when they find you, they’re going to kill you. Once the rest of us are gone, then they have no reason to keep you alive. If that’s a finality you’re willing to accept, then... you’ve changed, Applejack. You’ve changed a lot,” Twilight said sorrowfully. “The second thing is that we need you, Applejack. Without you, the Elements of Harmony can’t exist. You’re the Element of Honesty, and our team wouldn’t be complete without you in it.”
“Tell me one thing Ah did ta save ya’ll. Jus’ one thing Ah did ta help,” Applejack challenged. “Be honest, Twi.”
Twilight thought she had an immediate reply, but she faltered, and had to think long and hard. She had to comb through all their experiences together, as Elements. But as she did so, she realized something, something important.
“No,” she said finally, shaking her head. “I’m not going to. You can do that on your own, Applejack, if you’re honest with yourself. But it’s not my place. Do you know why?”
Applejack folded her forelegs. “Well?”
“We’re Elements of Harmony, Applejack. I think... I think that Luna, Celestia, Verba... I think they’re all confused when they talk about the Elements, and how powerful we are on our own, and how we’re supposed to be able to beat the Elements of Discord in one-on-ones if we’ve realized our Potentials. But... That’s not the case. Because the Elements, what each of us stand for... we’re meant to share them.
“When we realized our Potentials, it was always for something greater than ourselves. Pinkie’s saved all of us from certain doom at the hooves of the Daymare. Dash’s saved an entire city from the same fate. Rarity saved her sister, Dash and Olly in one fell swoop. And Fluttershy’s saved us all from destruction at the hooves of Hate. Sure, they gained power in the process, but they all used it to help their friends. Luna was right about one thing: Potential is realized only when there’s something to be saved. Only when Harmony itself is under threat.
“I... I guess part of the reason we’re always losing is because we’ve always been fighting only using our own powers. Even when we’re all fighting together, we’ve been fighting only using own own strengths, not the strength of our friends. And when we do work in unison, we demolish whoever we’re fighting... but only until we switch back and start fighting as individuals again. That’s how we were able to beat Nightmare Moon in the first place; it was our very first lesson as Elements! As soon as we began to think anything different, that’s when we started to fail. You can’t have five-sixths of Harmony and be able to defeat the Elements of Discord. You either have it... or you don’t,” Twilight finished simply. She looked at Applejack seriously. “Applejack, no matter what you say, and no matter how worthless you feel, we will always need you. And that’s the honest truth.”
“But... what if Ah’m jus’ not strong enough?” Applejack asked, turning away from Twilight and looking at the floor.
“Then you’ll have my strength. And Pinkie’s, and Dash’s, and Fluttershy’s, and Rarity’s. It’s not enough to work as a team... we have to work as one.” She shook her head in amazement. “That’s why we’ve been having so much trouble. Because everypony has it backwards. For five-thousand or more years, Harmony couldn’t truly shine. All of our victories have been either given to us outright or have been completely accidental. If we keep doing what we have been, we’ll run out of Potential, and then what?”
“We’re... done,” Applejack realized.
“That’s right. We’re done. Permanently,” Twilight added. She laughed slightly, inciting a small laugh out of Applejack. “We were so brainwashed by Luna, Obsidian, and the Elements of Discord that we never found that out for ourselves. It’s mind-blowing, don’t you think?”
“No. It makes sense, sorta,” Applejack said. “We’ve only been real Elements fer a little over a year, now. Back when we were gettin’ advice from Luna, we didn’t have anythin’ else to believe. Ah’m not even sure if she knew the truth or not. And as fer Obsidian n’ Verba, well, they’re pretty darn old. Who says the Elements haven’t changed since then?”
Twilight grinned slightly. “...That means all the Elements. Not just Harmony.”
Applejack sighed, glancing at her picture for a moment, then back to Twilight. “Yeah. Maybe... Maybe them, too.”
Twilight pulled Applejack into a hug. “Thank you, Applejack. I couldn’t have figured this out without you.”
Applejack squeezed Twilight back. “Ah guess Ah’m useful after all, then,” she joked.
“You know, if we hurry... we might still be able to make it to dinner,” Twilight said, pulling away from Applejack and motioning toward the door. “Our friends’ll be there, and I’m sure they’d like to hear what we just figured out.”
Applejack nodded, smiling brightly for the first time that day as she followed Twilight out of her dimly lit apartment.
“...An’ that about sums it up,” Latte told Dash. He was in her hospital room, lying down on the couch relaxedly. Dash was finishing up her book when he had arrived to introduce himself and tell her the news, though whether it was good or bad was yet to be seen.
“So Guilt’s going to fix my wings tomorrow morning?” Dash summarized.
“Yeah. I dunno the specifics, but that’s about right,” Latte nodded. “That, an’ there’ll be a few doctors watching Guilt’s methods. Takin’ notes and such. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lot they could learn from him, but...” he shrugged.
“But what?” Dash asked.
“Well... I guess I’m jus’ a little uneasy about this entire, well, idea. I mean, I don’t know Guilt as well as you all seem to, but there’s still this little itch in the back a my mind that tells me that somethin’ just ain’t right with how all a this went down in the first place,” Latte said, scratching the stubble on his chin.
“Well, sure it isn’t fair, but I guess that’s just something we’re all gonna have to live with, y’know?” Dash asked.
“Yeah, yeah...” Latte sighed. He stood up and turned to the door. “Pinkie should be here in a few minutes or so. Nice meetin’ you, Miss Dash.”
Dash nodded. After he left, she relaxed for a few minutes in bed, poking her now-lifeless wings. How could anypony ever restore those? They’re a wreck...
“Can I come in?” Pinkie’s voice sounded from beyond the doorway.
“Yeah,” Dash replied.
Pinkie exploded from the entryway and launched herself onto Dash, hugging her fiercely and nearly choking her. “Dashie! Don’t you ever scare all of us like that again! That was scarier than that time Twilight drank a full cider mug, and scarier than that time when I woke up from a nightmare inside a nightmare, and even scarier than that time I found out where milk comes from!”
“Pinkie--!” Dash grunted. The pink pony was nearly crushing her abdomen.
“Dash, I will never look at milk chocolate the same way again,” Pinkie whispered intensely.
“Get off!” Dash exclaimed, pushing Pinkie to the side of her bed and scooting over so that the thin mattress could accommodate them both. Once she had breathing room, Dash noticed something shocking about Pinkie: her scars. There were about a dozen of them stretched across her torso, and one particularly deep one across her left cheek. “Pinkie...” Dash gaped. “What happened to you?”
“Oh, these? Aren’t they so cool?” Pinkie exclaimed enthusiastically. She glanced down at her chest and pointed at various patterns the scars made. “See? This one’s a chocolate bar, and this one’s looks almost exactly like Gummy!”
“Pinkie... I don’t think you get it,” Dash began. “You’re going to have those things forever.”
“Well, if I wanted them gone, I guess I could always ask Guilt,” Pinkie said. “I’m sure he can get rid of some itty-tiny lines. He’s going to make entirely super-duper-new wings for you! It’s like being a doctor and having a crayon that can draw things and make them real!”
Dash sighed. “Well, I guess... sorta. I’m still pretty nervous, though. I mean, what if Guilt turns on us?”
“Then you’ll have me to beat ‘im up!” Pinkie said, raising her hooves in front of her face in a mock battle stance and taking a few fake swings. “Why I oughta...!”
Dash giggled. “Yeah. Thanks.”
A nurse stepped in. “Pinkamena? There’s a visitor here to see you. She said her name wa-”
“Rarity!” Pinkie shot past the nurse like a bullet, causing a whirlwind as she went. After the nurse finally stopped spinning, she adjusted her glasses, picked up her clipboard, and took a note. “Bringing the dose down to point five milligrams...”
Then, without warning, Pinkie shot back in again to hug Dash. The poor nurse was sent sprawling.
“Stay safe!” Pinkie said as she constricted Dash like an angry, loving boa.
“All--right--!” Dash choked.
And with that, Pinkie vanished in a puff of smoke, travelling at speeds Dash’s eyes couldn’t even comprehend. But as the nurse further lowered Pinkie’s dosage to .25 milligrams, Dash couldn’t help but notice a faint whiff of blue energy trailing out of the room.
Scootaloo sat on a cloud high above Equestria, staring at the sunset. It was chilly, but she was still numb to the cold. She had more important things on her mind. She had to make a decision.
There was a sound of wind whispering through pines next to her, and Scootaloo turned to see a shadowy pony manifest by her side. It sat down quietly, not saying a word.
“What am I supposed to do?” Scootaloo asked softly, not looking at the pony. Her voice was scratchy; she hadn’t had anything to eat or drink yet that day. “What do I have to do to... to...” She couldn’t bring herself to speak her mind.
The pony shook its head. When it talked, it was nearly silent, as if whoever was speaking was very weak. “There isn’t any way. Ponies have yet to walk in the realm of the dead and return unscathed.”
“Then what do I do now?” Scootaloo asked. She didn’t cry. The pain was locked inside her, chained to her heart so strongly that it caused a dull ache whenever she moved, as if it were weighing her down. “I can’t go back. Not now.”
“You decide your own limitations, Scootaloo,” the pony murmured. “You know the option I have offered you. The road has forked, and now it is time for you to choose which path to take.”
“But... will I ever be happy again?” Scootaloo asked.
“It depends on what you decide to do,” the pony whispered. “I can’t promise that I will succeed without your help. I can’t guarantee that everything will go as planned. But tell me, Scootaloo... what is it you really want?”
Scootaloo didn’t answer. She kept staring at the endless sunset.
“I can’t offer you revenge, Scootaloo, no more than I can offer you a second chance,” the pony said softly. “I can only try my best to make things right.”
“Justice... I want you to promise me something,” Scootaloo said softly.
“Yes?” the spirit named Justice asked.
“I think... I think the reason I’m in so much pain...” Scootaloo began, though her voice was choked with sorrow, “is because I never got to tell my friends how much they mean to me before they were gone. I never got to tell them how much I care. I never... I never got to say goodbye. It sounds stupid, but...” She shook her head. “I want you... I want you to give my friends a chance to say farewell, and good luck. I don’t want them to have to live thinking they could have done something to save me.” She looked down. “I don’t need saving. I don’t have anything left to give them. So there’s really no reason for me to stay.”
“I promise, Scootaloo,” Justice said. “I swear it.”
“...Okay,” Scootaloo nodded.
“Shall we begin?” Justice asked.
“...No,” Scootaloo said. “I... I want to keep looking at the sunset. Because before I go... I want to feel warm again. Just once.”
“You forget, Scootaloo,” Justice said, wrapping a hoof around her and hugging her close, “that you do not have to do this by yourself. I’ve tried to put the entire weight of sacrifice on my shoulders and mine alone... but it didn’t work.”
“...It never does,” Scootaloo sighed, leaning into Justice’s pelt. She mumbled something drowsily before curling up into a tight ball and falling asleep in Justice’s lap.
Justice cradled Scootaloo for a few minutes before resting her on the cloud and turning to the sunset. I had hoped you would have changed, as we have, she thought, shaking her head, but it appears that you are still just as foalish as you were five thousand years ago. Fine, then. I accept the challenge, she thought, raising her head toward the sky. Your existence... is what I am here to correct.
[Note]: I do not own anything in this story that already belongs to someone else.
This story takes place BEFORE season two, but AFTER season one.
Please let me know if a link doesn’t work.