It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. This was not (as Twilight Sparkle had first assumed) the first sign of a coming totalitarian regime intent on crushing the spirits of all ponies who lived in Equestria, but instead a sign that the workponies who had been commissioned to repair the clocktower had messed it up again.
From the ivory-white towers of Canterlot, Twilight Sparkle stared out across the rolling plains of Equestria. Below her she could see ponies going about their daily business, frolicking in the fields or carrying out important work for the Princess. She could feel the shirt collar around her neck tighten as she grimaced at the scenery below, another reminder of the totalitarian prison she found herself in.
Years ago, before living memory, Equestria was different. She had read it in an ancient book tucked in a cobweb-covered corner of Canterlot library. Ponies were free to be who they wanted, feel how they wanted. Then came the war, and the Princess took control. Ponies had rolled over, bent to her will, let her reshape society in her image. Soon, Equestria had changed completely, totally and forever.
She felt her hoof grind hard into the stone floor, the pain reminding her that she was alive, that she could think. That she alone had not succumbed to the iron hoof of Princess Celestia and the all-controlling Party. Each day the fleeting thoughts of revolution against this cruel overlord came over her in waves, stronger and stronger, every day-
Twilight turned, guilty at her seditious thoughts as a familiar voice called at her shoulder. Putting on the most genuine-looking smile she could manage, she straightened her tie and gave a small nervous laugh. “H-hi Rarity, just looking out of the window, taking in some air, I’ll be back at my desk soon!”
“Nonsense! Take as long as you like Twilight, we’re all friends here!” Rarity fluttered her painted eyelashes in a nonchalant manner, sweeping a hoof back across an impeccably coiffured mane which matched perfectly the sparkling saddle-and-frock number she was wearing. “Also you realise that this is a non-uniform day Twilight, you don’t have to wear that dreary thing!” She gave a disapproving tut at Twilight’s grey tie. “Remember, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are casual work wear! And also every alternate Monday!”
“I know,” Twilight snapped back, pulling her precious tie away. “It’s a reminder of the fascist despotic authoritarian state which keeps us chained as nothing more than slaves!” she wanted to cry, but instead managed a pathetic “I like it.”
Rarity rolled her eyes and trotted back to the plush open plan office they shared. “Twilight darling, you should let me take you shopping! I don’t see why you should keep wearing those mangy old clothes, especially when Princess Celestia abolished all money in place of a system of mutually agreeable trust!”
At the sound of the princess’s name, Twilight felt her stomach contract in anger again. The princess who thought she knew how to run ponies’ lives better, who sought to control every aspect of life. Almost automatically her eyes moved to the huge poster that dominated the far side of the room. It was peeling in the top corner slightly, as Rarity had not been able to reach high enough to blu-tack it securely in place, and Twilight had refused to help her. It was a simple design, just a large image of Celestia’s smiling face, with the legend ‘CELESTIA IS WATCHING YOU’ emblazoned above it.
Below, in similarly large letters were the words: ‘SOMETIMES. UNLESS YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING PRIVATE OR DON’T WANT TO BE WATCHED. THEN SHE IS NOT.’
Twilight scowled as she sat down at her desk, settling down in the comfortable swivel chair and munching on the contents of the complementary fruit bowl that all workers at Canterlot Castle were provided with. Before her was spread the reams of paperwork that made up her existence. Every day more and more pages came in – be they news articles that were about to be published, or books that had sat on library shelves for generations. All these pages had to be fact checked and corrected if they were found to be misleading in any way shape or form.
“Rarity!” Twilight hissed from across her desk, shuffling the reams of paper that sat on it to appear busy as she spoke. Rarity looked up from her own desk, which was spotless save for one sheet upon which rested a quill.
“Twilight? Why are you whispering?” Rarity frowned slightly. “You’re allowed to talk you know!”
“I know, but…” Twilight peered about again. The office was spacious, with around a dozen ponies diligently working away, but sound did travel. “But… Big Brother is watching us…”
“He is?” Rarity perked up, her face curling into a smile and waving at a pony who was standing by a coffee machine. “So he is! Hi Shining Armor, coo-ee!” She called across the office in delight, and the larger pony waved back, and was about to trot over when Twilight leapt from her chair and pulled Rarity’s hoof down.
“No Rarity, this is between us!” she hissed urgently. “I can’t take it anymore, I can’t!”
“Twilight, this is uh… if not unexpected then a bit inappropriate…” Rarity coughed nervously. “I’m flattered and everything but I’m seeing somepony else and…”
“No! No!” Twilight corrected Rarity, and then her words finished fully processing. “No! I mean… all of this Rarity! I can’t take it anymore! Living like this, under the iron hoof of the princess! Does it make you happy Rarity, really? Living in idle luxury in a utopia where your every whim and desire is catered for, where everything you could ever want is free, and where every pony is encouraged to be content and fulfilled! Does that really make you happy?”
Rarity struggled to extract herself from Twilight’s grip. “Uh, yes?” she ventured.
Twilight shook her head. “But what about freedom, Rarity? We are kept downtrodden under this totalitarian hoof which demands we live our life based on a system of love and tolerance.” She pulled herself closer to Rarity, her heart racing as she spilled out the sedition which had been building inside her for so long. “But what if we don’t want to be happy, Rarity? To be truly free, what if we want to irrationally hate?”
“Twilight, are you…” Rarity gave a concerned twinge “…unhappy? Is it work? You can always apply for another job you know, you’re not forced to stay here! I’m taking evening classes in fashion, for example! And you should come out on the work socials sometimes, it’s not healthy for you to coop yourself up all alone!”
“No, I’m not unhappy, I’m not!” Twilight said this a bit too loudly, forcing her face into a rictus grin in case anypony else was listening. They weren’t of course, their colleagues were all busy politely getting on with their work. Twilight couldn’t take the risk though. She knew that any ponies deemed unhappy were taken to Room 101 in the Ministry of Love. The very thought sent shivers down her spine.
Rarity’s next words were drowned out by the bell that rung out across Canterlot. At once, all the ponies in the room stood up and started to file out of the room. All apart from Twilight and Rarity - who was still pinned down by her friend.
“Come on girls!” Shining Armor called across the room with a smile. “It’s time for the Two Minute Love. Unless you’re busy of course!” He gave a knowing wink.
Rarity quickly shuffled out of Twilight’s hooves and scampered out the door to join the other ponies, leaving Twilight to quietly curse and trot along behind. She had played her cards too early. Would Rarity reveal her antisocial nature to her friends? Would she find herself dragged off to Room 101?
Years of careful ruminations had been wasted by one thoughtless outburst. With a grim determination, she followed the others downstairs.
The conference room of their castle tower was bustling with ponies when Twilight entered. It would be a similar picture all across Canterlot and Equestria itself. At the same time every day, every single pony (unless they didn’t want to) gathered for the Two Minute Love. She tried to carefully push her way through the throng towards Rarity and perhaps find out if her friend was about to reveal her nonconformist nature to all, but she could not locate her in the multi-coloured crowd.
Twilight found herself clumsily bumping into a pony as the lights in the room dimmed and the flickering projector started to play. Across the screen flickered black and white images of pegasi flying in the air, all saluting the crowd. Princess Celestia never liked to appear to be worshipped on screen, it was all part of her plan to make the people unconditionally love her by being humble, of that Twilight was sure.
“Ponies of Equestria!” the screen announced. “The workers of Equestria salute you! Happiness quotients are up to record levels and to celebrate, Princess Celestia has commissioned a brand new range of delicious chocolate, to be given out for free at the end of this presentation!” Twilight could hear the crowd cheer, inwardly scowling at the blatant popularism of the princess.
The screen suddenly changed to a nightmarish depiction of a black alicorn, flashing through the sky, blasting lightning from her horns. “The enemy!” the screen boomed. “Princess Luna, known as Nightmare Moon, twisted into evil, hating every pony and wanting to bring about eternal darkness.”
Twilight wanted to shout at the screen, to hurl abuse at the evil creature upon it, but instead a cheer rose from the crowd. “We love you!” one pony shouted. “We forgive you!” cried another. Soon the room was full of cries of love and tolerance and forgiveness.
Finally, Princess Celestia appeared on the screen, resplendent in a simple white robe belying her immense power and influence. “Sister!” she sighed, her voice tinged with sadness. “If you ever hear this message, know that I do not hate you. You are my sister and I love you. Perhaps your complaints are valid, I would be honoured if you would join me and sit down to work out our differences together.”
“No, strike her down!” Twilight wanted to cry. “Banish her to the moon!” She found herself caught up in the passion of the crowd though, and soon began to join in the happy cries. “Make peace!” Twilight called out at the image of Nightmare Moon that once more filled the screen. “It’s okay to be how you are, we love you too!”
As the film stopped and the lights came up, Twilight gulped heavily, feeling her legs shaking hard. The words that came out of her mouth were not her own, she had once more joined the crowd. To be free, to be truly free, she had to be individual, she had to rail against this state-enforced freedom and love.
At the edge of the room, several ponies in chef uniforms lined up with trays upon trays of delicious looking chocolate. The gathered crowd began to line up politely to take the free chocolate. Twilight was about to grudgingly join the queue so that she could secretly hate the state by eating the chocolate, striking a tiny victory for personal liberty, when she tripped over the hooves of a pony trying to move around her.
“Stupid bitch,” she heard the pony hiss. Her pupils went wide in shock as she looked up to where the voice was coming from, to come eye-to-eye with a blue, silver-maned pony. The pony gave a quick guilty gasp, offering a hoof to help Twilight back up. “I… I mean I said ‘whoops, sorry’!” she grinned sheepishly to Twilight before trotting off.
Twilight’s mouth hung open at the departing foul-mouthed pony. Feelings welled up within her that were foreign and unfamiliar, that she had only ever read about in books. Here was a pony who had in an instant sparked up emotions that were forbidden.
Here was a pony that Twilight disliked.
“Hi Twilight!” a familiar voice trilled in her ear. Twilight’s mouth slammed shut as Rarity sidled up beside her, holding two chocolate bars in her horn’s magical aura. “I got you some chocolate, if it’s nice we can go back for seconds, isn’t that wonderful!”
Twilight ignored the offered chocolate, and instead stared after the departing blue pony. “W-who is that?” she whispered urgently to her friend.
Rarity frowned, rubbing her chin in concentration. “I think I know her, she came to one of the bowling nights. Works in the ‘entertaining sick fillies in hospitals’ department. Yes, that’s it! Trixie! She’s called Trixie!”
Twilight watched the pony as she left. Somepony in this world she did not love. Somepony she could hate.
The afternoon seemed to drag on forever. Twilight was only half-glancing at her work; somehow it mattered even less than ever before. Idly she scribbled a line across a manuscript and wrote “Equestria has always been at peace with Griffonia.” She knew that this was probably untrue, that there was a brief period two hundred years ago where a slight diplomatic incident over a scalding apple pie had resulted in a small upset, but that barely seemed relevant now. She had somepony she could dislike, some way of solidifying her forbidden rebellion into a physical form. She had to get in touch with Trixie, hate her face to face.
She opened her desk, sifting through the mountains of quills hidden there. Her last act of rebellion had been to take all the new quills from the stationary cupboard and stash them away. She had calculated that in approximately 2.4 million years her quill hoarding would bankrupt Celestia’s regime and cause anarchy from which a new, better Equestria could form. She would not live to see it of course, but just knowing that revolution against the oppressive tyranny was coming gave her a tiny amount of satisfaction. She had tried to rope Rarity into her scheme, but Rarity would only take one extra quill as a spare. Still, even one hidden quill was a blow against the heart of the tyrannical dictatorship.
Quickly taking out a quill, Twilight scribbled out a hastily written note. She stared at it for a moment, half stunned that she had managed to put down in words her revolutionary intent. Here was evidence that could be construed as plotting against the ‘utopia’ that Celestia promised. If found, she could find herself in the dreaded Room 101. Her resolve hardened – she had to contact Trixie; a brief moment of true freedom was worth a hundred years of enslavement.
She sealed the letter in an envelope, carefully writing “TRIXIE” on the front. Licking her lips, she looked around the busy office, her mind ticking away, wondering how to get it to Trixie. Escaping the prison she called her workplace would take all of her ingenuity. Gathering her resolve, she picked up the letter, slipped it carefully into her mane so only a slight corner was sneakily poking out, and began to trot to the door. “I’m just going to the toilet!” she shouted loudly to every pony in earshot. “I might be some time!”
“That’s fine!” Shining Armour called out with a friendly wave. “Take your time Twily! Oh, and can you pick us up some doughnuts, I think we all deserve a treat!”
“I love your new hairclip!” Rarity called. Twilight winced at the corner of paper sticking out of her mane. “It’s a lovely style, you should show us all how to do it when you come back!”
“That’s a great idea!” Shining Armor seemed to get a degree of inspiration. “It suits our paper-based office! Perhaps when you’re back Twilight, you can show us how to make paper hair decorations and then we can all have the afternoon off!”
The office erupted into a cheer as Twilight marched out, allowing her face to darken as she left. Soon she would be free of this nightmare, if only for a brief moment.
The next night and day stretched on for an eternity. Twilight had not been able to find Trixie, and had instead been forced to hand the letter to an intermediary. Straight away she realised that this had been a huge mistake, that she could have given the letter to a Party agent, that it could be read by the wrong pony and she would be taken to Room 101. The fear gnawed away at her, sending her into an even grimmer mood than normal.
It was during an impromptu mid-morning conga session that she got her reply. As Twilight watched her colleagues happily dancing around their desks, oblivious to the true evil that dominated their society, she felt a small prod at her hindquarters. Convinced that it was Party officials come to capture her and take her away, she immediately yelped out, grabbing the first object that came to hoof – in this case, an ornate statue of a winged Pegasus representing anarcho-socialist values that she liked to keep on her desk – and brought it swinging down on the head of her attacker.
Unfortunately it wasn’t a pony about to carry her away, but a small red-maned filly who cried out in pain. “Thtop!” she squeaked in a daze as she crumpled to the floor.
“Sorry!” Twilight gasped, helping the small filly up and trying to brush off the bruise that was quickly growing over the pony’s forehead. “I thought you were a tool of the cruel state machine here to oppress me.”
“No I’m from the fillies’ hothpital!” the small pony lisped. “Don’t worry I know the way back.” She held up a shaking hoof, clutching a familiar if crumpled envelope. “"I wath tathked with the mithion of delivering thith methage to you, mith.”
Twilight eagerly snatched the envelope, ripping it open, her eyes widening with unsuppressed joy. She read her familiar words.
DO YOU LIKE ME
[ ] YES
[ ] MAYBE
The large cross scrawled beside the ‘no’ confirmed her deepest desires to be true. A pony who could admit her dislike for another! She had found a kindred spirit, a fellow revolutionary! She no longer had to be shackled by the societal norms of this oppressive state! She sipped at the delicate blend of imported coffee which she had received last week for winning the office award for ‘Being Pretty Awesome’. She was sure Rarity had rigged the vote though, just another indictment of the corrupt social system which imprisoned the helpless ponies of the land.
Turning the letter over, she scanned her eyes over the words that had been added to the back. It was an address, directions to an unfamiliar cottage down in one of the small villages dotted around Canterlot Castle. There was also a date and a time. Her elation suddenly fell – the date and time was tomorrow! Surely there was no way she could escape from her office prison without arousing suspicion. She had got lucky once, but twice would be impossible.
Or would it? A sneaky suggestion crossed her mind. As the office conga line continued to dance, she suddenly leapt onto her chair, gave a cry and hurled herself to the ground in a faux faint. “Oh, oh!” she wailed. “Oh I have a terrible headache!”
The conga line stopped, all her colleagues looking on in shock. Shining Armor stepped forward, face one of sincere concern. “Twily!” he gasped. “You’ve fallen on that small filly!”
Twilight picked herself off the ground, which had felt suspiciously soft when she landed on it. Sure enough, a small filly struggled out from underneath her muttering “Thorry!”
“It’s okay.” Twilight looked at the crushed filly, then at her colleagues. “I think she knows her way to the hospital.” She then flung a hoof to her forehead once more. “Oh. Oh yes, also I have a terrible migraine, I had better take tomorrow off!”
“Oh darling, you look dreadful!” Rarity rushed up to her with a tender hug, but not so much as to potentially pass on any infection. “Your mane is a mess and you have bags under your eyes!”
“What? I mean yes…” Twilight stammered. “I’m really really ill.”
“In that case Twily, take the week off!” Shining Armor trotted over in concern as well, looking over his little sister. “Don’t worry, we can take care of things here.” He glanced over to Twilight’s desk, which alone in the office was tottering with mounds of paperwork. “I guess we can all work overtime to manage the workload.”
At this a cheer went up, and Twilight slowly made her way out, coughing loudly to keep up the clever pretence, but inwardly congratulating herself on her clever ruse.
The directions on the back of the letter took Twilight far outside the bounds of Canterlot. She had attempted to avoid the main gates and clamber down the dangerous steep wall but had got stuck half-way down. Luckily some of the guards had found her and helped her to the bottom, before patting her on the back and giving her a free ice pop for being so brave.
Twilight munched on the popsicle as she trotted across the lush fields of Equestria on her mission. Raspberry wasn’t her favourite flavour but she forced herself to enjoy it, knowing that every lick deprived the state of a portion of one of their instruments of pleasure. Perhaps if she found a way to eat all the popsicles, she could strike a decisive blow for freedom! That or get brain-freeze.
Stumbling along delightful rural paths, Twilight eventually found herself on the outskirts of a village known as ‘Ponyville’. She felt a thrill run up her spine – she had never been this far outside Canterlot before, it felt naughty, like doing something dark and forbidden.
It wasn’t forbidden of course. Princess Celestia encouraged all her subjects to take time off work and spend days wandering about Equestria and learning about other ponies and their lifestyles in order to discover what suited them best. Twilight preferred to sit in her room and stare at the ceiling, the ultimate act of rebellion against the oppressively permitting state.
Finally she reached the destination as indicated on the letter, a small cottage nestled amongst a variety of picturesque trees with a babbling brook winding its way in front. It was almost like a picture postcard, but to Twilight, it was something more. It was freedom!
Barely hiding her enthusiasm, she bounded up to the front door, rapping on it urgently with her forehoof. “Trixie! Trixie!” she hissed. “Are you there? It’s me, Twilight Sparkle!”
A panel on the door slit back and a pair of angry lavender eyes glared out of the hole. “What’s the password?” a voice from within hissed.
Twilight was taken aback. “Password?” she squeaked, staring at the letter again. There was no indication of any password on it. “I don’t know!” she eventually acknowledged, before venturing: “Please?”
“That’s stupid! You’re stupid!” The door was flung open and a familiar blue hoof lanced out to grab Twilight and jerk her inside, before slamming the door again.
Twilight’s eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light of the cottage. Like the outside it seemed to be a pleasant, rural habitat, full of inoffensive soft furnishings and with shelves covered in china cups and various knickknacks. She was uncomfortably aware of her mysterious companion standing very close indeed, breathing heavily. “It’s… very nice…” she began, unsure of how to break the ice in this unfamiliar situation. “Is it yours?”
“No!” The blue pony snarled, whirling Twilight around. “It’s rubbish! But it will do! Trixie found it abandoned, so uses it when Trixie wants to get some peace and quiet!”
“But...” Twilight’s mouth gaped open as she tried to process this. “I thought you were Trixie?”
“Yes,” Trixie nodded firmly. “Trixie is Trixie.”
“Oh, you talk in the third person,” Twilight realised. “That’s dumb.” She clapped her hooves to her mouth as a tantalising thrill ran over her. She had never called another pony names before! Under the rule of Princess Celestia, every pony was so nice, so kind, but this pony…
“No, Trixie thinks you’re dumb!” Trixie snapped back. Now Twilight could see better in the dim light of the cottage she finally could get a better look at her new ‘friend’. She was a unicorn like herself, but held herself with a lofty arrogance which rankled at some primal part of her nature. “Trixie hated you from the moment she saw your fat flank getting in her way.”
“This is amazing!” Twilight gasped. “I mean, terrible!” She made her way to the nearest soft cushion and flopped herself down. “All the love and peace and tolerance that Princess Celestia and her Party teach… it’s too much! I realised that to be truly free, a pony had to be able to irrationally hate! But nopony else seemed to want to join in, they were all too nice! And when I tried to protest I was given a government grant to aid in my ‘revolution project’!” She buried her head in her hooves. “And now I’ve finally found someone who understands my revolutionary ideals!”
“No,” said Trixie, pouring a drink. “Trixie just thinks you’re stupid and have a stupid face, but Trixie likes that she finally has someone to hate her. Every day Trixie works to cheer up sick fillies, every pony loves her unconditionally, and she is showered in genuine gratitude and praise wherever she goes. Does that sound like a fulfilling life to you, Twilight Sparkle?”
“No!” Twilight bobbed her head up. “No Trixie, no! To defy the ruling oligarch we must defy the all-encompassing love that prevails! Outside might be a totalitarian utopia, but in here we are free to hate!” She paused, and then quickly added: “you bitch!”
Trixie filled up a glass with water and then threw it over Twilight’s face. “No, you are!” she shouted back. “Trixie hates that stupid stripe you have in your mane, what are you, five?”
As the water splashed over her face, Twilight felt another forbidden thrill. Nopony had ever assaulted her before! She knew such actions were frowned on by the princess, and perpetrators could be subject to a strict telling off. But here, here she was free to do whatever she wanted without reprisals. “It takes one to know one!” she shouted back, slightly incoherently as she picked up a cushion and threw it at Trixie’s head where it exploded in a flurry of feathers. “This was a rubbish idea; I bet you’re a rubbish entertainer!”
That was it! Trixie leapt at her, hooves swinging as she knocked Twilight to the ground. “You mule!” she crowed back. “Trixie doesn’t have to take that from you!”
Twilight struggled as Trixie tried to pin her down, rolling hard to the right to topple her off, and stumbling into a bucket of water, flung the entire contents over Trixie. “That’s just the sort of unimaginative insult an ignoramus like you would come up with!”
“Trixie doesn’t even know what that means! You’re just shouting out words you know!” Trixie retorted as she toppled a bookcase in Twilight’s general direction. “Trixie hates you!”
The fight went on for a good hour, the two mares sparring verbally and physically, neither gaining the upper hoof until finally both were sprawled out on the floor, panting with exhaustion and staring up at the ceiling.
“Wow…” Twilight gasped. “That was brilliant.” She blushed slightly. “I… I’ve never done anything like that before.”
“I-it was Trixie’s first time too…” Trixie admitted, lying atop a mound of ripped furnishings. “Trixie thought you were really good. For a pony as dumb as you.”
“Do…” Twilight ventured, feeling her heart racing at the dangerous thoughts. “Do you want to do this again sometime?”
After that day, Twilight’s work colleagues noticed a change in her. There was a spring in her step every morning. She would come in to work early and get down to business without a single complaint. She would even tag along on many of the extracurricular activities that were organised. Everypony was delighted and thought she had finally become happy and learnt how to make friends.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. Twilight had been spurred on by her new-found hatred for Trixie, and every evening and weekend, snuck off to the cottage on the outskirts of Ponyville for more vitriol-filled argument sessions with the blue mare. If there was a spring in her step, it was due to the constant knowledge that she was the ultimate rebel, defying the system in ways no others could even conceive. She spent spare moments at work thinking of Trixie, devising new insulting words to call her and ways to express more fully her dislike.
Once, she had come across a copy of ‘Nightmare Moon’s Book’. This was a copy of the thoughts and teachings of the rebel Nightmare Moon. Twilight had taken it to Trixie in the cottage that evening in the hopes that they could read it together and defy the system even more. After calling her stupid, Trixie had revealed she also had a copy of the book, in fact they had been given away free that morning in the Canterlot market by order of Celestia. She had decreed that every pony should have an opportunity to be exposed to other methods of thinking just in case hers was wrong, and that then all ponies could judge for themselves what was best.
“That’s just the sort of thing Celestia would do,” Twilight had scowled. She wasn’t fooled by the Princess’s openness and generosity one bit.
As it happened, the book had been really long and pretty boring; they had both fallen asleep halfway through the first page.
Day after day, week after week, month after month Twilight and Trixie came to that cottage to grasp their blissful moments of mutual dislike. It was too good to last.
One bright summer’s evening, Twilight had turned up to the cottage as normal, eagerly awaiting her time with Trixie. Her earlier paranoia had relaxed somewhat, she felt entirely comfortable with the situation. Trixie had greeted her with her usual barrage of insults, and then Twilight proudly presented her with a gift.
“It’s for you!” Twilight chirped, holding out a snow globe. “It’s a present just for you!”
Trixie glared at the snow globe, shaking it. The snow inside had congealed and was stuck to the top. “This is horrible!” she cried, hurling it at the window which shattered.
Twlight clapped her hooves together happily. “I knew you’d hate it!” she smiled, before quickly adding “you ass.”
A tear dripped down Trixie’s eye. “That’s so thoughtful Twilight, you know Trixie hates snow and globes and especially snow globes…” She trailed off. “You fat-head!”
“Mudhooves!” Twilight spotted a small corner of the once immaculate cottage that the two ponies had not trashed, and carefully making her way over the broken crockery, picked up an antique chair and hurled it at Trixie’s head. “Show-off!”
“Nerd!” Trixie deftly ducked as the chair shattered into splinters against the wall. “You are the worst pony Twilight Spackle!”
Twilight hopped over a broken sofa and grasping a light fitting, swung over to Trixie, landing on the blue mare’s back. “That’s not very original, though I’d expect it from such a dunderhead!”
Trixie winced as Twilight yanked on her mane, tipping over to dislodge Twilight, the two mares grabbling with each other in the mess of the cottage, their faces pressed up against each other in anger as they continued to trade insults.
They froze. The last utterance had not come from either of them. Hearts stopping, they turned as one towards the open doorway in shock. Standing with open mouth was a yellow Pegasus, a large rucksack slung over her back, looking at the shattered mess that was the inside of the cottage. “W-what have you done to my house?” she squeaked.
Twilight swallowed hard. From the size of the bag on the pony’s back she had been away for some time. She and Trixie had become too complacent, too relaxed and paid the price. They had been caught. “It’s like this…” she began, then looked at Trixie. “Hoof it!” The two ponies leapt towards opposite windows, scurrying out of the cottage in a shower of glass.
Twilight kept running. She didn’t look back.
Twilight staggered back through the main gates of Canterlot Castle an hour later, mane caked in sweat. She didn’t know where Trixie had run to but hoped she had escaped. Actually, she hoped she had got captured, she really hated that pony. The guards at the gates just smiled and waved at Twilight; obviously the message about her rebellion had not reached them yet. She was running out of time. She knew the hoof of Celestia reached far, soon there would be no place for her to hide. If she could get back to her room though, collect her emergency satchel that was full of maps and rations and various survival implements, perhaps she could hide out in the wilderness, eke out an existence on the boundaries of civilisation.
Her hopes were dashed. As she raced towards the living quarters she saw a group of guards whispering to each other and staring at her. She slowed to a trot, and started to smoothly walk in the opposite direction in the hope that she was mistaken and could slip away.
She had no such luck. With a cry of “Hey Twilight, stop!” the guards started to run after her. With a squeak of terror, she bolted as fast as she could towards the only other place in Canterlot she could call home.
“Shining Armor, help!”
Every head in the office turned as Twilight bolted in the door, her mane frazzled and eyes wide as she turned to push a desk in front of the door. “They’re after me! The oppressive state is finally showing its true colours! A hoof stamping on a pony’s muzzle forever!”
The door bulged violently as the guards slammed against it. Twilight shook her confused brother. “Please, you’ve got to hide me; I don’t want to be taken to Room 101!” She gibbered as the weight of the guards finally pushed the desk out of the way and they piled into the office.
“Twily, I’m sure we can sit down and talk about this…” Shining Armor looked at his sister with deep concern, trying to pat her on the shoulder. Twilight was having none of this, slapping his hoof away as she backed towards the window.
Her face wrinkling in agony, Twilight gazed at her ineffectual brother and the guards ready to take her away. None of her colleagues, her 'friends' raised a hoof to help her. She swallowed hard, her vision blurry as she felt the walls closing in. There was just one thing to do.
"Run, goodness know where!" she started to croon in a warbling voice to a half-remembered tune. "I'm a poor refugee and I might as well be on the moooooooon!"
One of the guards looked more than concerned as he leaned in to Shining Armor. "Holy Celestia, is... is she singing? Why is she singing?"
Shining Armor nodded grimly. "I'm afraid she is. She does that sometimes."
Hot tears started to trickle down Twilight’s cheeks as she clambered onto the windowsill. They would not take her! They could not break her! "Still, why should I care?" she belted out. "I had it all in one grand afternooooooon!"
Her solo finished, she leapt out of the window to her doom.
Shining Armor and several guards popped their heads out of the window to peer down. Twilight looked up at them half a metre below, tangled in a large mesh net and feeling quite silly. “I’m glad I didn’t take that net down,” Shining Armor muttered to himself. He had always been quite worried about his little sister.
“Fine!” Twilight slowly clambered back in through the window, shaking off any helpful hooves offered to her. She glared darkly at the guards and then to all the on looking ponies. “This proves everything though. We are slaves to Celestia! I’ve done nothing wrong, committed no crime, and now they’ve come to take me away! My only crime was to dislike another pony, and for that they will deny me my liberty!”
“Uh, actually that’s fine, you’re not in trouble for that.” The head guard looked at Twilight with a puzzled expression. “W-why would you think that?”
“Oh. Well then.” Twilight coughed, then looked even more angry. “See, he admits I have done nothing wrong, yet here they come to arrest me!”
“No, we’re here because you vandalised Fluttershy’s cottage.” The guards exchanged glances then turned their attention back to Twilight.
“Ah. That.” Twilight crossed her hooves in embarrassment, feeling her cheeks redden. “I-it was a casualty in the fight for liberty!”
The head guard pulled out a rectangle of card from the pocket of his armour, passing it towards Twilight. “Also we’re not here to arrest you Twilight, Fluttershy isn’t pressing charges. She did want to give you this though, she thought it might help if you got… help.”
Twilight looked at the card with dumbstruck horror. This was worse than being arrested, worse than death even. This was the one thing she had feared above all else.
DEAR TWILIGHT SPARKLE
YOU ARE INVITED TO A PARTY!
PLACE: ROOM 101, THE MINISTRY OF LOVE
TIME: TONIGHT 8 TIL LATE!
She looked grim. There was no escape.
Refusing an invitation was really, really rude.
The Ministry of Love was not a difficult place to find. It filled the entirety of the north tower of Canterlot Castle; the whole tower was painted bright pink and festooned with balloons and bunting. Twilight knew that if she entered she was doomed, but to refuse a Party Invitation was just unthinkable. Steeling herself, she marched inside.
Almost immediately her senses were assaulted by a blast of music. Hundreds of ponies were milling about the reception which was decorated like a beach, for some reason. The air was filled with laughter and chatting, and various nibbles were laid out on tables scattered around.
Twilight’s head jerked around in surprise as she spotted a familiar pony sipping juice from a coconut shell. “Oh Rarity!” she sighed in despair. “They got you too!”
“Hmm?” Rarity blinked, motioning Twilight to come over and offering the purple pony a flowery garland. “Oh no, I just dropped by for a hoof polish, you should try it some time.”
Slapping the garland away, Twilight’s vision focussed on a huge wooden doorway at the far end of the room. “No time Rarity. The totalitarian dictatorship has discovered my desperate revolution, and I have been summoned to Room 101 where their best interrogators will do their best to break me. But I will not break Rarity, I will resist, and so will you!”
The effect was spoilt somewhat as Rarity reached the bottom of her coconut and started making loud sucking noises. Twilight smartly saluted Rarity and marched towards her destiny.
“Hello?” Twilight poked her head through the forbidding door to Room 101. Inside was silent, pitch blackness. Her mind raced with the horrors that she would find, that had been haunting her nightmares for so long. “Hello? I-it’s me, Twilight Sparkle. I… I didn’t bring a bottle b-because I’m a rebel…”
There just darkness. And then an unfamiliar voice.
“We’ve been expecting you Twilight Sparkle!” it called out in a sing-song tone. “Come in, come in!”
Heart thumping, Twilight slowly trotted into the room, hooves stumbling in front of her at every step in case she trod in some terrifying trap. All she could hear was her own ragged breathing, desperately casting her eyes about for any flicker of light with which see by. There was none.
Suddenly the room exploded in light and colour and music, and blinking, Twilight found herself in the middle of a room festooned in party decorations and balloons, with a huge central table full of cake and ice cream and jelly. Sitting beside the table was a strange frizzy-maned pink pony with a huge grin on her face and wearing a sparkly party hat. “SURPRISE!” she cried.
Twilight’s full shock was saved for the sullen looking blue mare who was also sitting at the table. “Oh Trixie!” she cried. “They caught you as well.”
“Who do you think told them where to find you?” Trixie spat. “Trixie was not about to face this alone!”
Twilight was slightly taken aback at this. “Bitch!” she shouted.
“Idiot!” Trixie called back.
“Now now girls. Now now!” The pink pony waved her hooves to silence the two arguing unicorns. “Let’s sit down and try to work through your issues! Pinkie Pie’s the name and parties are my game!” She motioned for Twilight to sit, which she did grudgingly, before continuing. “When my good friend Fluttershy came back from a long holiday she was really sad! She doesn’t mind anypony using her cottage, that is why it is always unlocked, but she was upset that you broke everything!”
“That was her fault!” Trixie pointed at Twilight. “She started it!”
Twilight was about to defend herself when Pinkie Pie carried on talking. “So Fluttershy said to me ‘hey Pinkie, these two ponies are obviously upset, perhaps they need a party to cheer themselves up,’ and I was all ‘well I am in charge of parties so perhaps I will put on an extra special private party for these ponies and see what all the fuss is about, because you can fix everything with a party!” She stopped to catch her breath.
“It won’t work you know!” Twilight started to munch on a nearby cream doughnut covered in sprinkles. “You won’t break us with this torture, we’ll escape and overthrow this tyrannical dictatorship! Free healthcare? Free education? High standards of living? Jobs for all? Pah! These are just meaningless fickle things to help cement Celestia’s lust for power!” She thumped a hoof down onto the table, dislodging a stack of scones. “Change! That’s what ponies want! The freedom to be wrong, the freedom to say that two plus two is apples!”
Trixie glanced across at Twilight. “She’s an idiot,” she explained to Pinkie Pie.
Pinkie Pie looked slightly puzzled, slurping on a large strawberry milkshake. “But Twilight, in last year’s annual election, everypony voted for Princess Celestia to be ruler, in fact…” she trailed off, rifling through several reams of paper which suddenly appeared in front of her “… every single pony in Equestria bar one voted for her!”
“Well I didn’t!” Twilight snapped, before looking at Trixie quizzically. “Wait, only one pony voted against her?”
Trixie shrugged. “Trixie thinks she has excellent social care policies.”
“You know Twilight…” Pinkie Pie passed Twilight a bowl of jelly, which Twilight grudgingly accepted. “Maybe revolution isn’t the best hobby for you. Have you tried magic? Or friendship? I bet you could make loads of friends!”
“I don’t have any friends.” Twilight munched on her jelly accusingly. “I know what you’re trying to do Pinkie Pie! You’re just a tool of the system!”
“Sure you have friends!” Pinkie Pie vanished beneath the table and popped up behind Twilight and Trixie, pushing the two together. “You have each other! What wonderful friends!”
“What?” Twilight spluttered, half choking on jelly. “I hate Trixie! Our mutual loathing is what drew me to her!”
“Agreed!” Trixie cried. “Trixie enjoys hating Twilight every evening for the past few months. Trixie would not know what she would do if she couldn’t hate Twilight’s stupid fat face!”
“It’s funny, but…” Pinkie Pie pulled an exaggerated quizzical expression. “Usually if a pony doesn’t like another pony, they just ignore them! They don’t go out of their way to spend every available moment with them.” She started to stroke her chin. “So… do you two call each other names?”
Twilight and Trixie slowly nodded.
“Do you…” Pinkie thought for a bit. “Do you pull each other’s manes and chase each other round and round?”
“Yes!” Twilight yelped out triumphantly. “See Pinkie, see how deep-rooted our loathing for each other is! We get into little wrestling matches and slap each other’s hindquarters and all sorts of stuff that proves our dislike!”
“Also sometimes we have sleep-overs and stupid Twilight snores!” Trixie lamented. “And she leaves half of the breakfast I cook for her the next morning!”
“That is because it’s always burnt!” Twilight exclaimed in annoyance. She stopped her next tirade in mid-sentence however, as both ponies noticed Pinkie Pie smiling and laughing with glee.
“So cute!” Pinkie grinned, clapping her forehooves together. “Calling names and pulling manes, that’s just what little foals who like each other in the playground do!”
“Don’t be absurd! I hate Trixie!” Twilight grumbled. “Just the other week it was her birthday, and I spent hours picking out a present I knew she’d be sure to hate! And she did!” Trixie joined in, nodding smugly.
“And I bet she was happy that she hated it!” Pinkie sidled up to Twilight. “Hey Twilight, what about this? Eh?” Twilight flinched as Pinkie whipped something out. It wasn’t some sort of state torture device though, but instead a slice of cake on a plate.
“This cake…” Pinkie began, “is the last remaining slice of the most delicious cake ever baked. The sweetest sugar! The candiest candy! It even has those little silver ball things, but on this cake, they’re edible!” She held the cake up, and Twilight could feel her taste buds starting to water at the very sight.
“W-what do you want?” The sweat began to prick on Twilight’s forehead. She look between Trixie and Pinkie and then back to the cake, confused. “I-is this some sort of torture?”
“No, silly! You can have it!” Pinkie started to offer the cake, with its scrumptious looking jam and scream and icing, and then she paused. “But if you eat it, that will be the last slice of cake and nopony else will have any more. Just you Twilight.”
Twilight started to tug at her mane. The cake was being offered to her without any catch. Despite the richness of party food on the table, she knew in her heart that the cake was sweeter and more delicious than anything else, than all of it put together. And yet…
“No,” she croaked out. “I don’t deserve the cake!” She felt a tear start to trickle down her cheek. “G-give it to Trixie! Give Trixie the cake, she deserves it more than me! She’s such a wonderful, special pony!”
Trixie looked at Twilight dumbfounded, her mouth agape. “T-thank you!” she half-wept, holding out a hoof for the cake. “Thanks the nicest thing anypony has ever done for Trixie!” Her hoof froze halfway towards the cake. “No! Twilight Sparkle should have the cake! She has been such a good friend to Trixie and Trixie never realised it before today!”
The two unicorns looked into each other’s eyes for what felt like the first time.
Meanwhile Pinkie Pie, her own resolution broken, quickly and guiltily scoffed down the last slice of cake.
Two weeks later, Twilight Sparkle sat in the middle of a bustling café in the middle of Canterlot. Outside the birds were singing in a brilliant blue sky, and all around her was the laughter and chat of a happy populace. She slowly sipped her coffee with contentment.
A cry went up from the doorway and a blue pegasus barrelled in, his mane unkempt and eyes excitable. “Peace!” he cried. “Peace in our time! Princess Celestia has made up with her sister! They both sat down and settled their differences and agreed to rule together in a transitionary government until a new election can be held!”
The cheer from the ponies surrounding Twilight was as loud as it was instant. Twilight found herself putting down her cup to cheer as well, only this time it came from a deep, genuine sense of happiness. “That’s nice!” she thought to herself. “Families are so important, it’s wonderful that Princess Celestia has finally managed to sort everything out!”
“Here’s your stupid muffin, you won’t believe how hard it was to find this dumb flavour.” Twilight turned with a grin as a sullen blue mare sat beside her, passing over a raspberry and chocolate muffin.
“Oh Trixie!” Twilight leant over to kiss Trixie on the cheek with a contented nuzzle. “You say the nicest things.” Life was good. She was finally happy. She had been so caught up in worrying about how the state affected other ponies' lives that she had forgotten to live herself. Sometimes, there really was nothing to rebel against.
Twilight had won the battle against herself.
She loved Trixie.