“Absolutely not!” Rarity insisted. “Even if she is a descendant of one of my closest friends, I won’t be finishing what my friends started with a creepy, crazy pegasus!”
“I’m afraid I can’t go against orders,” the not-Pinkie insisted right back. “Even if I have to strap Surprise to you with ‘silly string,’ you’re not leaving this factory without her. Besides, the road to New Canterlot is dangerous. Surprise knows how to handle herself outside these walls, but you don’t even know how the Land has changed after a millennium. Besides, she could be useful to your search.”
“How could a pegasus like that possibly be useful to my search?!” Rarity inquired angrily, shooting a look at the odd pony. Surprise was currently blowing bubbles out of her mouth, each of which was a different color and floated haphazardly through the air. Had she swallowed a gallon of multicolored soap or something? Or was that just more of her weird ‘gift,’ if you could even call it that? “She looks completely insane!”
“She is, regrettably,” Pinkie’s imprint confirmed, uneasy. “It seems that Pinkie’s gift always came with a touch of madness. In Surprise’s case, her strong inheritance of the gift seems to have resulted in a nearly total separation from reality.”
“But not even Pinkie Pie was that…distracted,” Rarity pointed out. “And although I appreciate you taking Pinkie’s orders seriously, I honestly think that Surprise would only slow me down. No offense to you or Surprise, but I don’t want my completing of what my friends started to be waylaid by an inept pegasus.”
“Oh, she’s far from inept.” The pink shade smiled knowingly, as if to say ‘if only you knew.’ “In fact, she’d be quite the valuable asset if you were to be ambushed.”
“Ambushed?” Rarity echoed, now uncertain.
“It is true that the bandits mainly rove out on the Sands like your companion claimed,” the imprint explained. “But there are plenty of dangers on this side of the Walls as well. MMMs, the Contagious, and even a few haywire Sparkle drones don’t exactly make The United Lands of Equestria as safe as they were in your day.”
“MMMs? The Contagious?” Rarity repeated, raising an eyebrow. She was almost certain these ‘dangers’ had been made up for the sole purpose of getting her to bring Surprise along. “And what in the world is a Sparkle drone?”
“MMM stands for Magically Mutated Monster,” Pinkie’s imprint told her. “They’re a result of the factories polluting the lands with magical waste back in the earlier centuries of your friends’ companies. Unfortunately, Pinkie Pie’s Party Supplies were no exception. After the green laws were passed, the pollution stopped, but the creatures affected by the pollution continued to breed and develop entirely new monstrous species. As for the Contagious and Sparkle drones… Well, you’ll find plenty of those in New Canterlot. Just try not to get bitten by either one. Or even attract their attention.”
Rarity was now decidedly less sure Pinkie’s mental shadow was making this up. The white unicorn was about to make another protest, casting a sidelong glance at Surprise, but sighed and finally turned back to Pinkie’s imprint.
“I suppose it would be wise to bring along a native to this, er, time period,” Rarity conceded. “But if she gets in the way, I’m leaving her in New Canterlot.”
“Good.” The imprint smiled. “It’s settled, then. I have your supplies ready and waiting. Are you ready?”
“What, we’re leaving now?” Rarity asked, incredulous. “But it’s almost nightfall! You said the way was dangerous, and I certainly don’t want to be stuck out facing monsters in the dark!”
“The journey to New Canterlot isn’t a long one,” the incorporeal clone said. “You should be there before sunset if you hurry.”
“Wait a minute!” The white unicorn stopped short, realizing something. “Why are you even sending me to New Canterlot in the first place? I know I’m looking for the Disks my friends left behind, but you said the company was raided five hundred years ago. How do you know there are any Disks in this ‘New Canterlot’? And what even IS New Canterlot? What happened to ‘Old Canterlot’?”
“There was a magical incident in Old Canterlot about a century after you went to sleep,” the artificial ghost answered. “Nopony knows what set it off, but there was a large explosion, and most of the city was destroyed. New Canterlot is built on the ruins of the old city. You’ll even see the new on top of the old when you start your journey. As for the Disks, I have no idea where any of them are.
“However, Twilight’s imprint over at Sparkle Technologies does, and her business is based in New Canterlot. I alerted each of the companies to your awakening as soon as I met you, and Twilight’s imprint wanted me to send you to her as soon as possible. She claims she has a spell that’ll help you find the Disks.”
“That would be most helpful,” Rarity sighed, thankful that this ordeal wouldn’t be as much blind searching as she had thought. “But why didn’t she simply send the spell here, then?”
“She insisted on giving to you herself. She claims that only she can cast the spell, but I have a feeling that she just wants to meet you. She’ll probably have her own supplies to help you on your journey as well.”
“I do suppose I need all the help I can get,” Rarity conceded, though she was getting a bit annoyed at all these perceived setbacks to her actually starting her search. “Very well, let’s be off then.”
“Excellent.” The imprint smiled. “And feel free to stop by Pinkieville anytime during your travels, if you ever happen to come this way again. As a friend of my creators, you have a lifetime supply of free gimmicks whenever you want them.”
“Thank you.” Rarity smiled back. All these imprints may be needlessly prolonging her journey, even if they did only mean to help, but at least it was good to have one friendly face on her side in this frightening new time. Wait a minute, ONE friendly face? Celestia and Luna! In all the (much unwanted) excitement, she had almost forgotten about her rulers. Whenever she got to New Canterlot, surely they would supply her with all the resources she could ever need to complete her search. Pinkie’s imprint was nice and all, as were all the free supplies, but seeing somepony who had actually been alive in her own time would be priceless. It would be so good to see faces that truly remembered her when she’d been awake, and the fact that those faces belonged to immortal monarchs didn’t hurt either.
With luck, the white unicorn would be seeing her beloved rulers within the day.
The sapient portrait’s tongue darted out again to eat both Rarity and Surprise before spitting them out back in the front lobby where the white unicorn had first entered this crazy company. Rarity shook herself off a third time, trying to appear as dignified as possible as she worked the artificial saliva out of her coat. With a wave of the not-Pinkie’s hoof, two sets of saddlebags appeared around the white unicorn and her new travelling companion. Surprise continued to say nothing, not having spoken since her informative outburst back on the factory floor. Rarity, though, thanked the new friend she had made and trotted back into the raining streets of Pinkieville.
It was sad to think that the only new friend Rarity had made in this new time was nothing but a shade of her real friend, long dead and gone. But she was a friend nonetheless, and besides, the white unicorn had other friends to look forward to. The Princesses were less than half a day’s journey from here if Pinkie’s created countenance was correct.
It seemed that the white unicorn’s earth pony travelling companion had already left with his cartload of free gimmicks, as Oscar was nowhere in sight. Surprise, though, more than made up for the absent amalgamation of animals by gleefully jumping into a puddle of chocolate milk and drenching Rarity all over again. The white unicorn tried her best to maintain her composure, but it wasn’t easy. The pegasus continued to leap and skip through the puddles in front of her, weaving her way around Rarity in circles before dashing ahead again. Though Surprise seemed to have grasped that she was supposed to be travelling with Rarity, the frizzy-maned pegasus still didn’t seem to have the slightest clue as to what else was going on. Rarity was seriously beginning to regret her decision to bring Pinkie Pie’s descendant along.
The white unicorn and her happily skipping (and sometimes flying) pegasus companion trotted out of Pinkieville and into the wide world beyond. After a good while of traveling, Rarity began to wonder why Pinkie’s imprint hadn’t sent them in a train or called for a royal escort via airship or pegasus-drawn carriage. She got her answers all at once when the trees they had been walking through so far finally thinned out to reveal what had happened to the space between the cities that had once been Ponyville and Canterlot.
A train wasn’t proposed because the train tracks weren’t there anymore. Well, they might have still been there, but a towering white wall obscured them from view. Rarity trotted over to inspect them more closely.
“I wouldn’t do that,” Surprise said suddenly, startling the white unicorn just as she was reaching to touch the wall. Rarity halted her hoof just before it came in contact, turning to eye Surprise curiously. This was the first time the pegasus had said anything normal, though she still looked as zoned-out as ever as she watched Rarity’s hoof.
“Why ever not?” the white unicorn inquired.
Surprise looked up, and Rarity followed her gaze, laying eyes on a rather sizable sign.
“Warning,” she read. How had she not seen that earlier? The sign was large and looming, written in blocky red letters. Small silhouettes of ponies with shock markings around them and glowing skeletons littered the lower half of the sign. “High-powered shock-spells in use.”
“What’s behind these?” Rarity inquired, hastily drawing her hoof back and backtrotting away from the wall. “And why are they built around the old railroad? Are these those Walls that everypony keeps talking about? Are the Sands behind here? I hadn’t thought they would be so close.”
“Those Walls and the Sands are far away,” Surprise said, shaking her head. “They use these walls to keep the two-legs separate from the rest of us.”
“Two-legs?” Rarity echoed. “What in Eque…The ULE is a two-leg?”
“I dunno.” Surprise shrugged. “I’ve never seen one.”
Sensing that she wasn’t about to get anything else from the pegasus, the white unicorn turned to follow the progress of the wall, intent on seeing how big this containment for the ‘two-legs’ was. It turned out to be a lot longer than she had expected. The wall ran across the plains, flowing over the foothills to finally climb the mountains where Old Canterlot had once sat. Whatever the two-legs were, they apparently needed a LOT of space. This wall practically halved Equestria down the middle if it continued on past New Canterlot.
“It doesn’t continue past New Canterlot,” Surprise said, interrupting Rarity’s thoughts. The white unicorn jumped as the pegasus spoke, not because she had spoken but because of what her words implied.
“How did you know—”
“And there’s another wall on the other side of the train tracks,” Surprise went on as if Rarity had said nothing. "It’s like a tunnel with no roof, except there is a roof because an invisible force field blocks the two-legs from the sky. It’s called The Walled Road; it leads from New Canterlot to the gated compound where they keep the two-legs most of the time.”
The white unicorn simply stared at Surprise with a mixture of confusion and slight fear. Had Surprise really been able to tell what she was thinking, or had it just been a good guess based on what Rarity had been looking at? Potential mind-reader or not, though, what Surprise said was just as much of a shocker. Apparently these ‘two-legs’ were dangerous enough to be kept behind strongly enchanted walls, but if they were so dangerous, then why did a walled road lead all the way from their compound to the royal city? Why did New Canterlot need a special connection to the ‘two-leg’ prison? And what in Eque—The ULE was a ‘two-leg,’ anyway? Rarity mentally filed the question away for later; if the answers wouldn’t be in the book on equine history that Pinkie’s imprint had lent her, then surely all would be explained once they reached New Canterlot.
New Canterlot, though, was a surprise in and of itself. Rarity could see what the not-Pinkie had meant by the Old and the New being right on top of each other. It was more literal than she had anticipated. Even at this distance, the white unicorn could see towering ruins of what used to be pristine shops, buildings, and even the royal palace itself. Not a single structure wasn’t fragmented in some way; even at this distance, Rarity could see that debris littered what wasn’t blasted from existence entirely.
“What happened to Canterlot?” Rarity whispered to herself. Seeing what used to be the most beautiful city in all Equestria turned to rubble and ash brought a tear to her eye. It was almost like losing a friend. As long as the white unicorn could remember, the royal city had always been there, watching over Ponyville from afar. But now, both of those settlements were gone forever. Where Ponyville had simply grown into Pinkieville, though, Canterlot had been completely destroyed.
Well, not entirely. Rarity’s eyes followed what she had at first taken to be the skeletal remains of blasted buildings up to a sight that made her jaw drop. Standing on towering stilts above the remains of Old Canterlot was a metropolis twice as large and magnificent as anything that had existed in Rarity’s real time. It soared above even the clouds, many of which it was creating as pastel-colored smog belched out of smokestacks.
The answer to the white unicorn’s second and third questions about transportation were answered as a great shadow fell across the land. Rarity looked up, expecting to see a dark cloud, but instead witnessed the largest creature she had ever seen. It was truly massive, larger than even New Canterlot. The strangest thing of all, though, was that the creature was FLYING. And it didn’t even have wings!
The only thing Rarity had ever seen that came anywhere close to what the creature looked like was something she had only read about in books. They were supposedly the largest creatures in the world, even bigger than the biggest dragons, but they were supposed to swim in the ocean instead of fly through the air! And they weren’t supposed to be green!
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Surprise jerked the white unicorn out of her bewildered contemplation again. “I always love watching the skywhale migration.”
“Migration?” Rarity echoed. “You mean there are MORE of them?!”
Surprise simply nodded, not taking her eyes off the floating mountain of blubber slowly undulating as it swam through the air high overhead. Turning to see which direction it had come from, the white unicorn saw another, and another, and another! The things swam over the horizon and just kept coming, blocking out even the Sun for moments at a time as they flew in front of it.
The strangest thing of all, though, was how the so-called ‘skywhales’ seemed to be swimming in what was roughly a straight line. They were far from single file, but the floating behemoths wove in and out of each other like a living river.
That definitely explained the reason why no means of travel by air had been provided. Flying through THOSE things, let alone near them, would be a death sentence. Even if they weren’t aggressive (Rarity had read that oceanic whales generally weren’t, but who knew what skywhales were like?), a simple absentminded flick of a tail could flatten entire city blocks.
“They’re not… dangerous, are they?” the white unicorn wondered aloud. The skywhales were far overhead, but Rarity couldn’t stop thinking about the analogy of a hawk spying a tiny field mouse far below and diving for dinner. Just one of those things could gulp down all of old Ponyville. They could easily make quick work of two tiny ponies who currently had nowhere to gallop off to and hide. “Surprise?”
But Surprise was no longer there. In a panic, the white unicorn frantically looked around for her travelling companion. Finally, an idea hit her and she looked up, and shrieked.
Surprise was soaring up towards the leader of the skywhale pod. Rarity tried to call her back down, but the errant pegasus either couldn’t hear her or was ignoring her. Doing a loop around the giant creature, Surprise then landed daintily on the airborne leviathan’s nose, leaning down to look it in the eye.
“What is she DOING?!” Rarity screamed. “She’s not crazy -- she’s stark-raving mad!”
But whatever the state of Surprise’s mind really was, what happened next was the last thing the white unicorn had ever expected. It was also something that she would remember for the rest of her life.
Rarity of course couldn’t hear the white pegasus from this distance, but it looked as if Surprise was actually talking to the flying blubbery monolith. Was that a glimmer of…understanding the white unicorn saw in the creature’s eye?
Surprise quickly flew back down after the skywhale blinked in what might have been a confirmation of some kind. The pegasus was about halfway back to Rarity, smiling like an idiot, when the skywhale opened its massive maw.
“Oh, no! It’s going to eat her!” Rarity cried.
Rarity had bee expecting teeth, but what was revealed inside the skywhale’s mouth appeared be something akin to harp strings. Thousands, no, millions of them. All of which began vibrating to create a dull whirring sound in the air.
Rarity raised an eyebrow at this, uncertain of what was going on. If this was some kind of predatory preparation to eat ponies, it certainly wasn’t like anything the white unicorn had ever seen.
The silky-strands of the skywhale increased the vigor of their vibrations, causing a rising whine to echo across the foothills below. Then, as if finally striking the right chord on a very difficult instrument, a wave of sound blasted forth across the land. One clear, ear-shattering note that rippled and danced and shook through the air as it washed over the trees and grasses and streams below as well as the other skywhales above.
Tears welled up in Rarity’s eyes. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever heard. And it was only the beginning.
The other skywhales quickly took up the note, each adding their own variation to the chord until the entire pod was singing a wordless aria. The lilting tunes rose and fell, laughed and cried, fought and made peace. It was like the anthem of the universe, and though the white unicorn couldn’t understand a word of it, just hearing it was all the description she needed. Life awakened in this song, and also died before being reborn. Stars burst into being and then exploded. The world turned, and the ponies and dragons and gryphons and even other forms of life Rarity hadn’t even heard of danced along the course of history before making way for the future.
Rarity stood there, just listening to the wordless wonder, for she didn’t know how long. Time and space seemed irrelevant; just listening to that song was life enough. By the time it finally ended, silent tears were rolling down the white unicorn’s cheeks as the last of the skywhales swam over the horizon.
The white unicorn didn’t want it to end, didn’t want to see them go, but as the last notes finally died in her ears, she shook her head as reality came rushing back. How long had she been standing there?
Rarity looked up and gasped to see that the first stars were already peeking out of a dark blue sky. The Sun was setting already?! She must have been there for hours! The white unicorn quickly looked around to see where Surprise had gotten to, and found the white pegasus staring at her a few feet off. Surprise was still grinning that lackadaisical oblivious grin, her eyes unfocused.
“I have just two questions,” Rarity spoke to her new travelling companion. “First of all, what…what WAS that?”
“Skywhale symphony,” Surprise replied. “They’ll sing for you if you’re real nice. I thought you’d like to hear it, since you haven’t before. Fluttershy Fabrications always makes sure to only release the best singers into the wild after they’re done being genetically engineered in the factory.”
“Which brings me to my second question,” the white unicorn began in a hiss. “WHY IN THE WORLD DID YOU WASTE THE REST OF THE DAY?! WE SHOULD’VE BEEN IN NEW CANTERLOT BY NOW!”
Surprise frowned, looking confused.
“New Canterlot?” the pegasus asked. “Why would you want to go there? It’s crawling with the Contagion and Sparkle drones and smoke and other nasty stuff.”
“But that’s where Pinkie’s imprint is sending us!” Rarity exasperated. “Didn’t you hear that?! You were right there when she explained all this to me!”
Surprise looked to be deep in thought for a moment.
Finally, the pegasus smiled again and said “You know, you kind of look like a marshmallow.”
Rarity looked dumbfounded for a moment before scowling. If there had been any doubts before, there were none now. Surprise was undoubtedly completely insane, just as Pinkie’s shade had claimed. The white unicorn just hadn’t thought the pegasus would be THIS insane.
“Well, this is just GREAT!” Rarity growled. “NOW what are we supposed to do?! We’re miles from civilization of any kind, and supposedly there’s acronymic monsters and sandy bandits and nasty contagious ponies and Sparkle something-or-others out here!”
“I know!” Surprise piped up. “We could make a fire and tell ghost stories! They always make me laugh. I love to giggle at the ghosties.”
Rarity was about to launch into another furious rant, but stopped when she realized that Surprise was too detached from reality to even recognize when somepony was angry with her. As for Surprise’s suggestion, the white unicorn wasn’t about to spend the night outside in unfamiliar territory if she could help it. Besides, even if they did make camp for the night, they would certainly have to take turns being on watch. Rarity definitely wasn’t going to trust Surprise not to mess up that job too; the puzzled pegasus would probably just fly away looking for talking rocks or something and leave the white unicorn to the hungry jaws of anything that came across her.
Rarity looked up, seeing the lights of Canterlot burning brightly through the night. They were certainly a lot more vibrant than in the white unicorn’s true time. How could anypony up there sleep with all that light? Sure, it was beautiful to behold, but didn’t seem to be very practical.
Whatever it was, though, the lights were still far away. It would at least take until midnight to reach them, and who knew what hungry monsters or cutthroat bandits could overtake them by then?
Then again, simply standing there and waiting for something to find them wasn’t very appealing either.
So, of course, that’s when something DID find them.
Rarity leapt in the air and screamed at the top of her lungs, almost drowning out the bellowing roar that had caused her fright. The white unicorn whirled around to come face-to-muzzle of what she saw to be, by the lights of New Canterlot and the Moon, what might have once been a timberwolf. The wolfishness was still there, but it was buried under the countless eyes peeking out of the bark-like flesh and the monstrous size of the thing. Root-like claws snaked in and out of the ground in search of nutrients while massive branches grew from the creature’s back, their tips chiseled into razor-sharp points.
This could only be one of the Magically Mutated Monsters the not-Pinkie had told her about. And it looked ferociously hungry.
Green vines covered in thorns and what looked suspiciously like mouths of Venus flytraps suddenly burst from the monster’s flesh and lunged at Rarity and Surprise. The white unicorn ducked, whirled, and twirled around the thrashing vines, narrowly dodging the writhing thorns. A fierce and fiery determination burning in her eyes, Rarity leapt forward, ducked under a swinging thorny branch, swirled around, and bucked the creature’s face with all of her might. The white unicorn both heard and felt the crunching of wood as her hooves buried deep into the abomination’s rough flesh and glowing eyes. It bellowed in pain.
As Rarity smirked in satisfaction, happy to know that she could defend herself in this new time better than Pinkie’s imprint had thought, a memory flashed in her mind. The first time the white unicorn had gone on an adventure with her friends, Rarity had delivered a very similar kick into the face of an enraged manticore. That monster had been less than half the size of this monstrosity, yet Rarity remembered that her buck had served only to make the manticore all the more furious.
The white unicorn gulped and suddenly experienced a strange and particularly vivid sense of déjà vu. A thorny vine lashed out from the creature’s new wound and encircled Rarity as fast as a strike of green lighting, causing twice as much pain as any electrical bolt would have as the thorns dug into her flesh.
Rarity cried out in pain, her horn igniting and her telekinetic grip latching onto the vine in an attempt to wrench herself free. This proved both fruitless and unnecessary, as a split second later the mutant timberwolf lifted her into the air and threw her at the ground. Rarity turned her magical focus to herself, holding back the force of inertia to land her softly on the dirt road.
The white unicorn was now twice as frightened of the beast before her and three times as determined to defeat it. Rarity picked herself up off the ground from where she’d fallen, painfully, but thankfully it wasn’t as painful as it could have been. As she rose, she winced and cried out in agony as the multitude of wounds screamed in protest.
Rarity glanced over to where she’d last seen Surprise, hoping that the pegasus hadn’t fared as badly as she had. To her surprise, the white pegasus was just sitting there! Where was all that ‘she’ll be useful in an ambush’ talk Pinkie’s imprint had told her?!
“Surprise!” Rarity called. “Help me! We have to stop this thing!”
“Why?” Surprise asked. “He’s just a cute and cuddly puppy!”
Rarity was vaguely reminded of how Fluttershy had been the only one who could defeat the manticore so many centuries ago, and then only by using that exact same mindset. Somehow, though, Rarity didn’t think pulling a thorn out of this mutant timberwolf’s paw would solve anything. After all, when you thought about it, the creature was nothing BUT thorns!
She conceded that she would be getting no help from Surprise, and told her to fly away before she got hurt. Rarity then turned her attention back on the monstrosity of plant life and magical mutation before her, preparing herself to dash forward and buck it from a different angle. As soon as she moved, however, Rarity cried out in pain all over again. The wounds that the thorns had inflicted were deeper than they looked, and she wasn’t going anywhere unless she had time to heal.
Time, though, was obviously something Rarity didn’t have. The mutant timberwolf was already crouching to pounce, fury in its eyes. With an ear-shattering roar the abomination leapt forward, Rarity just barely able to hop out of the way with tremendous effort. This caused the creature to (rather ironically) smack against a tree with enough force to tear through the wood and send the towering trunk crashing down on top of it. The monster howled in pain, trapped.
Taking advantage of the precious moments given to her, Rarity crawled away from the creature’s lashing vines and opened one of her saddlebags. Pinkie’s imprint had to have packed some kind of healing supplies, hopefully of the stronger magical variety. The white unicorn thrust her hoof into the bag, surprised at how deeply it went in before realizing that, of course, these bags were enchanted to be larger on the inside than on the outside. Leave it to Pinkie’s ignorance of physics to make such a thing possible.
Rarity shifted her hoof around the pile of supplies inside the bag, tossing out one item after the other in hopes of finding something that vaguely resembled a healing potion. Potions didn’t seem to be a product produced by Pinkie’s Pie’s Party Supplies, though, as the white unicorn found nothing but processed candies in individual wrappers.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Rarity huffed. “Well, ONE of these has to work!”
The white unicorn pulled out a gimmick at random, praying it had something to do with healing. It was a small cylinder of plastic that presented bright, flashily printed labels.
“Sugar Rush,” Rarity read. “Need a boost? Then you need a ‘sugar rush!’ This looks as good as anything else, so I might as well try it.”
Rarity magically unscrewed the top of the can and lifted it to her mouth. With her luck, it would probably be something like those ‘go-away gravity gummies’ she’d seen in use earlier. Those would be nice to escape the mutant timberwolf with, but they wouldn’t heal her, and Rarity was losing blood fast. The white unicorn gulped as she ingested the sugary powder inside the can, hoping they weren’t some kind of miniature ‘pop rocks.’
Rarity tasted a strong sweetness as the sugary substance poured over her tongue. Sure, it was decent candy to say the least, but the white unicorn didn’t see how it was useful—
Rarity’s pupils shrunk to an almost invisible size as her eyes widened. One eye began to twitch violently, and Rarity’s front right hoof began to stamp the ground with increasing ferocity.
‘What is IN this stuff?!’ Rarity thought to herself as her body began to buzz all over. She felt more awake now than she ever had in her life. She felt like she was energized enough to win The Running of the Leaves a thousand times over and still be ready to beat a million Rainbow Dashes in a million iron pony competitions.
And the energy was still building. It filled every inch of her being, threatening to burst out of her if she didn’t expend it. She had to do something, had to exercise, had to leap, had to kick something, had to run, had to run run run run run run—
And so she did. In a streak of white and purple, Rarity ran. Her hooves didn’t even seem to make contact with the ground. It was like she was flying just as she had when she and her friends had gone to Cloudsdale to cheer on Rainbow Dash in The Best Young Fliers Competition. Only this time, she wasn’t slowly floating on the breeze thousands of feet in the air amidst clouds and pegasi. This time, trees rushed past her as she zoomed along the ground, as did wide open plains and foothills and then mountains and then ruins of a building and then—oh, look, was that New Canterlot overhead? And then—
And then the ‘sugar rush’ wore off.
The fierce feeling of adrenaline was cut off from the white unicorn all at once. Rarity’s hooves, having moments ago felt like the ground was nothing to them, suddenly began to make pattering contact with the rubbish-covered cobblestones beneath her. The white unicorn tried in vain to plant her hooves firmly, but inertia carried her forward, sending her sprawling and tumbling over all kinds of overturned carts and piles of garbage and the thick mud coating the street.
Finally Rarity came to a halt, landing on her back after a painful tumble. Where just moments ago Rarity had felt like she had enough energy to take on the world, now she felt as if she didn’t have enough energy to take on a dandelion sandwich. The sensations of her body, of her labored breathing, of her burning muscles, of the screaming pain of her still-bleeding wounds, began to fade away and grow numb.
“No!” Rarity tried to shout, but all that came out was a whisper. “I have to get back to Surprise, have to save her from that thing… have to… have…”
But doing anything would have to wait, it seemed. The last thing the white unicorn saw before darkness enveloped her was what appeared to be a brilliant spotlight shine into her vision as ponies descended on ropes from the towering city above.
. . .