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The others could only watch, still held back by the princess’s barrier. They watched Big Macintosh quickly gain the lead as the two charged at the empress. Being the less run down of the two, Mac obviously had more energy left in his reserves. He was clearly using them now as he barrelled for the dark ruler.
“You dare approach me?!” she screamed, as her horn began to emit the red glow of the ruby of loyalty. “I should burn you alive! Just like the other one!” She flung her horn towards the approaching stallion furiously; the point seemed to cut through the air, tearing through reality itself. The tear began to become a solid mass as it sped towards the approaching Macintosh.
“Mac!” Applejack cried, reaching out for her brother in a vain attempt to stop him as he shot past.
“Hold!” Discord yelled over his shoulder at her.
“But he’s gonna get hurt!” Applejack retorted angrily, taking a step towards him.
“AJ! Hold her still; we’ve only got one chance!” Disc shouted, the other pony reluctantly did as she was told. Applejack tried to push her away, but the other ponies grip was too strong.
As Mac charged, he didn’t even bother to avoid the mass of magic approaching him; he simply lowered his head and continued running. Surely enough, his faith paid off. As a large bolt of purple magic shot out from behind him and ploughed into the dark empress’s magic. Though not strong enough to neutralise it, the magic was enough to change the twisted attack’s trajectory.
As the blast shot away, and obliterated Derpy’s now blazing house with a single ear splitting explosion, the empress stared behind the stallion. There Shining Armour stood, his horn glowing softly against the darkening thunderous skies. Him? He was able to dislodge one of her attacks? How was it possible? He looked as though he was ready to collapse at any moment!
As the empress stared in disbelief, she lost focus on the prominent danger. Macintosh threw himself with all his might at the empress. His head connected hard with her jaw, as his shoulder dug deap into her chest just beneath her breastplate. With the wind knocked out of the unsuspecting empress, she collapsed to the ground with Big Mac on top of her.
“NOW!” Discord yelled, seizing the moment of distraction he had waited for. As commanded, Princess Celestia dropped the barrier, and the group spread out quickly. From left to right stood: Rainbow, Dashie, Fluttershy, Applejack, AJ, Twi, Twilight, Pinkie, Pink, Rarity and spike. Celestia stood beside Discord, just behind the group.
Immediately the local ponies clenched their eyes shut, envisioning their friends and how much they meant to on another! Slowly, lights began to shimmer around them, little dots of miniscule magic began to gather around the group. Twi gasped at the sight, and tried to back away, terrified that this would cause another overdose. “It is alright little one!” cooed a soft voice from behind her.
Twi turned to see the princess smiling at her, “If anything is safe, it is the elements, you need not fear.” Twi nodded, turning back to face the empress. The empress screamed, as she threw the huge Big Macintosh to the side, finally regaining the upper hand. Macintosh skidded into a nearby tree, the force he was thrown at, brought on by the empress’s unnatural power caused the trunk to snap.
Applejack stared in horror, all thought of friendship disappearing from her mind. “Big brother! NO!” but with a flash of light, brought on by that explosion of sibling love. The magic around her collided against her neck and shone intensely before fading into the form of a single golden necklace.
“That’s one!” Discord shouted happily, turning to Shining Armour. “By us some more time!” He ordered, but already the captain had shot off to save his ally. ‘Time to repay the favour!’ he thought, gritting his teeth against his aching limbs.
“Armour no!” Twilight cried. Her heart shattered at the sight of him heading off against their enemy. She needed the elements, now! To save Armour! Twilight’s head spun from friend to friend, checking on the progress of their elements. A lot of them were nearly complete; Applejack’s was the only ready one though. Twilight glanced up at her own sparks of friendship, they were nowhere near forming, she needed the others first! Only with the full elements of harmony, could they access the final one of magic!
Armour sent a bolt at the empress who was in the process of standing. She caught a glimpse of the spell, and with no time to deflect it, she rolled away allowing it to pass by easily. Armour staggered slightly in his slightly slower approach than Mac’s. The empress cackled.”LOOK AT YOU! You can barely even stand! You can’t even lift that horn of yours again can you?!” She stared at his damaged body, his many crack and scratches on his armour. “I suppose I should be grateful that my commander did something right at least before he died!”
Amour’s knees buckled, he fell to the floor hard, only just keeping himself from passing out. Holding his body up as high as he could with his forelegs, he saw the empress’s silver hooves dance into view. “Shall I make it quick? Please tell me what you’d prefer, I’m open to suggestions.” The wicked ruler giggled hideously. Slowly, armours highlighted mane glimmered under the light of a single bolt of lightning that streaked across the dark sky above. Beneath the thunder the empress heard something.
Suddenly his head snapped up to reveal the noise to be the captain’s laugh. His horn glinted as it fired a bolt of purple wild fire into the face of the empress. With a shocked screech, she reeled away, only just clearing the magical flames in time. “I think...” Armour said hoarsely getting shakily back to his hooves. His legs wobbled threateningly, suggesting he’d fall yet again. “Or I’d PREFER...” He corrected, as he looked into the empress’s red eyes. “If you were going to kill me, just shut up and do it! Don’t play around when you have a chance!” He jumped into an offensive stance ready to attack again. “Because you’re not going to get another one now!”
Pinkie’s necklace had now formed, as had Fluttershy’s with the help of her new friend Dashie besides her encouraging her on. As Twilight watched her platinum friend, she saw her dragon assistant lean over her, smile and kiss Rarity on the cheek, whispering something under his breath. Whatever the words were, they were what Rairity needed to hear! With a flash of light, her necklace formed, leaving only Rainbow Dash left.
The white sparks danced around the cyan Pegasus’s neck but refused to inch that last inch closer to form her element. Her eyes were clenched shut as she concentrated. ‘Rarity, Pinkie, Fluttershy, Twilight, Applejack! Rarity, Pinkie, Fluttershy, Twilight, Applejack! Rarity, Pinkie, Fluttershy, Twilight, Applejack!’ she kept thinking their names and faces over and over again. Her friends needed her, they needed her to be there, to be loyal, to be ready to help them without the slightest hint of doubt.
And yet there was doubt in her heart.
How could she be there for them all? She had failed to remain loyal as soon as this empress had arrived! She killed Flutt! Rainbow’s newest friend, and she had the Pegasus had done nothing to save her! What kind of loyalty was that? If she was really the element of loyalty, she would have shot in there and saved her friend without fear or falter! Dash’s eyes peeped open as she gazed at the empress before them, distracted by Twilight’s brother. How were they meant to fight against this powerful enemy? How were they ever going to have a chance at victory?
“Oh come on!” An echoing voice cried out scornfully. “You can’t be chickening out can you?” Rainbow’s eyes opened fully, she looked to her right. The yellow pony Pegasus was looking back at her, as was every other pony as they waited for her to summon her element. But Fluttershy’s mouth was curled into a smile, not a sneer. Her eyes were kind, not sarcastic, and yet Rainbow was sure it had been her to speak.
“Wrong one there pal!” The voice laughed, it echoed loudly though there were no walls for the sound to bounce off of. More importantly, it seemed none of the others had heard it. They all just carried on staring at her expectantly. A soft pat on her left shoulder revealed somepony to be behind her.
Her head snapped around to see who it was, and her heart soared for a moment, but then fell as she noticed the smaller details. Her sparkling coat, her nearly transparent body, her unbelievably shining eyes, they all told Rainbow that while she could see her, Flutt couldn’t be there for real.
“Are you gonna keep staring, or are you going to finish this?” The stubborn faced ghost said flatly.
“B-but... I... I didn’t...” Rainbow stuttered in sorrow, her eyes misting for the first time that day. She had filled the sudden gap left by her death with fighting, the moment she had felt it, Rainbow tried to fill it with anything, just to postpone this. This misery, this guilt!
“B-b-b-b-but NOTHING!” Flutt mimicked angrily. “You think you’re to blame? I tried to throw myself at the bitch without a plan or a chance!” Flutt’s form seemed to ripple as if merely a reflection in water as she shouted. “You have a chance!” She said simply, her anger fading slightly, replaced with a small smile. “I’m fine Rainbow, end this! End this once and for all! Send this bitch packing, and then we’re even! If you feel as if you’ve got some kind of debt, consider it paid...” Flutt took a step towards her. “If you end this now!”
Rainbow’s mouth hung open, speechless. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing, Flutt! Here, with her!
“Rainbow!” shouted Twilight from behind in a terrified tone. Dash glanced back and saw them all, her friends, waiting for her. Twilight’s tiara hadn’t formed yet... Darn it! She needed Dash! She needed her element to complete the five and bring on the sixth!
“Right!” Rainbow shouted, her face growing strong again. She gave a small smile as she took a deep breath, her friends smiled at the sight of their beloved Rainbow returning to her old self.
With a glance at the ghostly Flutt who still stood by her, Rainbow said slowly. “This ends now!” and with a flash a brilliant white light, the beads of magic slammed into each other in an explosion of magic. When the light cleared, the ruby encrusted necklace lay on her neck. She smiled down at it, and it twinkled back at her.
Almost as though it had been waiting for the final one to appear, Twilight’s elemental magic exploded into life, forming the golden tiara almost instantly as soon as Rainbow’s final element had come into view. Twilight’s pupils exploded from a purple and black mix, to a single shade of dazzling white. They began to shine as the power taken from each element flowed into her own and was channelled into her receptors in her brain.
In these moments of power, Twilight felt like a god. The power to do anything, to save, to create, to destroy... to defeat anything! Unlike the previous times, where Twilight’s magic had lifted her and her friends into the air as she couldn’t control the power, she was now able to keep them all planted on the ground. She was getting used to this power of the elements and each time found it easier to control and manipulate.
As Twilight gathered her magic for one final attack, Discord stood tall. He looked to Celestia. “You know...” He said, catching the alicorn’s attention. “It was nice... fighting beside you, being beside you again after so long.” Celestia’s brow furrowed.
“Can you... are the same... do you know everything that happened here?” Discord simply nodded.
“Same mind, throughout each reality, to create the perfect chaos, one needs to break all the rules. Even those thought unbreakable by reality.” He winked, I always knew there was a reason I stopped you from leaving!”
Without another word to the fair alicorn, Discord turned to face the empress, still unaware of what was happening.
“You think you can challenge me?” The dark empress laughed at the captain of the guard. “You think you stand a chance at defeating something a thousand earth ponies have failed to do before you?” Armour only laughed, his eyes glinted knowing he had done his job. She had been distracted.
“Oh no. Not me...” He jerked his head to his right, “Them!” The empress’s eyes fixed on the group of ponies, those tiny insignificant ponies. Only now they seemed more powerful than anything she had ever seen.
Her vision scanned each one; the local’s were drawing on the elements! Fine then, she would use her own to face them! She then registered the purple unicorn not of this world; her horn was beginning to shine brighter than any other creature’s she had seen before. W-was she... was she about to offload that amount of magic? That was impossible! No little unicorn should be able to do that!
She saw the dragon, leaning hard against one of the female creatures. His eyes seemed to shine with hatred. As she watched, he took in a deep lungful of air, his chest expanding wide as he did. She saw the flickers of light as he lit the contents, ready to fire at her. And finally she saw herself, or more accurately, her other self. Standing ready beside the chimera who’s hand was raised, his fingers lit by the light of some unholy green flame he summoned with his magic. The princess’s horn began to glow white hot. Ready to fire.
This is too much!’ a voice inside her head screamed in fear. ‘I can’t stop all that!’ not even with all I’ve acquired!” She unfurled her wings ready to fly away; she’d head for the rupture and escape, no fugitives were worth this! “Fire!” The chimera screamed, and in response the entire artillery of magic the group had summoned was shot at once, bombarding the empress as she soared into the sky. The green fire of Discord’s magic encased her wings making them freeze in place. The empress fell back to the ground in a heap, through bloodshot and horrified eyes. She watched as the purple unicorns spell streaked towards her.
The wave of pure energy didn’t knock her back, but simply passed over her. The sensation was excruciating! The empress let out a shriek of pain as the magic burned at her skin. Or was that the dragon’s fire? She hadn’t seen him expelled it, but through the haze of magic and fire, the empress could see he was panting for breath, no longer holding in the dreaded fire.
The waves of attacks ceased suddenly, leaving a broken alicorn in their place. Her fur smoked as it slowly burned with the green hew of the dragon’s fire. Her eyes seemed to burn in their sockets after such a barrage of attacks. As she knelt there, unable to move without each muscle screaming in protest, the breastplate that clung to her body, snapped. The element’s gems fell to the floor and scattered across the dirt floor. The empress reached for them, if she could catch them she could still put up a fight before they-
As her eyes darted to the group, scanning how much time she had, she saw she had none. The local purple unicorn’s eye’s shine was now rivalling that of the sun behind the clouds. They all looked so strong, so powerful, how? How could they be stronger? They hadn’t even released the elements yet! That first wave was merely the fighters who had none of their own! If that was the first wave, then what this one be like?
Twilight reached out and took hold of Twi’s hoof. The other unicorn looked at her in awe, unable to believe it was her eyes behind that veil of white. Applejack took AJ’s, who was simply looking at the one who had taken her brother from her with contempt. Rarity held Spike even closer as her eyes and the others’ began to gleam with the same brightness as Twilight’s. The Pinkie twins clung to each other’s hooves. Pink smiled at the one who had caused her friends so much grief and torment. Glad to see her go. Dashie took Fluttershy’s hoof softly and smiled to her, who even with so much power flowing through her looked terrified still.
And Rainbow looked to her right; the ghost of Flutt gave an approving smile, as she began to fade away, her light diminished by that of the elements. Rainbow tried to call out to her, but the power flowing through her seemed to glue her jaw in place. Rainbow reached out, but her hoof simply passed through her friend’s body as though through water. Flutt smiled and shook her head exasperatedly. “You couldn’t honestly have thought I was really here did you?” the yellow mare smiled.
With that she began to flap her wings. At the same time, from Twilight’s tiara exploded the usual rainbow of the element’s colours. The stream of magical energy shot into the air, following the image of the yellow mare soaring into the storm cloud filled sky. Flutt reached the cloud line just as the rainbow met her flank. The rainbow seemed to repel the dark stormy sky, expelling the dark clouds outwards as the elements summoned the light of the equestrian sun back into the world. And with that light covering her entire body in one last glimmering moment of flight and warmth, the ghostly Flutt dissipated into the air.
“No...” The empress muttered, seeing the rainbow curl in the air high above, angling itself towards the empress. “No!” She shouted as it came ever closer, she tried to stand, but her muscles wouldn’t respond after the magical bombardment she had received only moments before. The rainbow surged to her feet. It seemed to bounce back into the air, and began to revolve around the empress.
And just like every foe the friends had met before them, a tornado of blurred vibrant colours grew to engulf the empress. He reared her head back, just glancing over the lip of the swirling mass, to see the bringers of her downfall, those damned ponies! The local and visiting copies of each other, all stood watching.
Pain shot through her horn as she fell the magic of harmony attack it. with a final ear splitting screech she let out one final “NOOOOOOOOO!” as the colours coiled tightly around her slowly trapping her, until nothing but the magic was touching her deplorable body. The burning sensation she had felt previously began to return as her yell morphed from words, to simple blood curdling shrieks. The light of the elements wielders’ eyes all built to an astounding climax, until their light blotted out all other sight from the surrounding landscape.
Armour, who had rushed to help Big Macintosh out from under the tree, held his hoof to his eyes, unable to look upon such brilliance. Big Mac –unable to move his hooves- clenched his eyes shut, though that did barely anything, as the light fought to seep in through his lids.
Twilight called off the assault. Giving the usual command -as always- that the elements had done their job. As the element of magic commanded, the necklaces of the other ponies melted into the light that surrounding them. As they faded away, so did the light of their joint magic. Leaving the scene before them, clear for all to see.