The purple unicorn collapsed onto the floor. Spike barely managed to somewhat cushion her fall.
Stitches appeared all over her body, spreading like some nightmarish vines. She started looking like a doll that had been ripped apart and sewed back together later on.
"What is happening to her?", Applejack cried.
Twilight moaned, but she managed to stay conscious. Her eyes and those of Pinkie Pie met.
"We got you in stitches, eh, Twilight?", Pinkie chirped.
The unicorn smiled. "You got that right, Pinkie."
The others gasped."This is no time for puns!"
But Twilight laughed. "Relax, you guys. Everything is fine." She rose back to her feet. "I'm fine. Because this time, you are with me."
I continue where I have left off, she thought.
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm not sure. But it doesn't really matter. Trust me. I may not look so good, but this IS a good sign. Somehow."
She nodded towards the hallway right ahead. "Let's keep moving. Soon all of this will be over. That's one thing I know for sure."
Imagine an oil spill that is reaching the headquarters of the very corporation which had been making profits at the cost of minimum wages, flawed security and a generous interpretation of the laws supposed to regulate their activity. Tons and tons of crude oil flooding through corridors, bureaus and conference rooms. Desks drifting about like miserable boats, bundles of important documents soiled and stuck together like the wings of maritime birds, all electronic devices becoming completely unusable, masses of crucial data lost in the process. In the middle of this, white collar employees who only moments ago had been contemplating their plans for the weekend during a short coffee break, now trapped in a surreal nightmare beyond their comprehension. Imagine chief executives who, for the very first time, truly have to contemplate the foul-smelling raw material they had been dealing with the whole time.
Imagine that oil was on fire.
That was what the Outbreak meant to MLP Laboratories. And more.
The headquarters had no defense to speak of, at least in response to this sort of crisis. It had always been expected that threats would come from hostile infiltration and terrorism. Instead, they were being invaded by the very, unspeakable things they had been cultivating in their own basement. They still had a strong security force, mobile turrets and experienced men with high tech equipment, but there simply were too few of them to hold off the flood of mutants. One level after the other was lost to the advancing hordes. First the tech support areas, which had been monitoring the industrial production. Then the upper laboratories, in which humans had been conducting research on samples of prototypes provided by the lower levels. Then, one by one, the sections of the corporate headquarters proper.
The attempts at an orderly evacuation were laughable at best. Panicked employees were trying to flee their posts and cubicles before the commanders of the security forces would order their personnel to retreat and seal the doors behind them, abandoning yet another sector to the enemy, in hope to better secure the next. Suddenly, humble secretaries and lab assistants found themselves surrounded by monstrosities they had never even imagined, mutants of all shapes and sizes. And before they knew it, all that was left for them to do was to shrug and become part of the stampede. Some great friendships were made that day.
Barricaded in a remote corner of the structure, important people were about to hire outside help. They would have requested military support already - all meaningful separation between the state and big business had evaporated a long time ago - had it not been tied up at the surface in the great conflicts which had been so profitable up until now, and which would soon be known as the Mushroom Wars.
Disregarding all safety regulations - what was their use at this point anyway? - the Hunter lit a cigarette. He was a businessman himself.
“You might have noticed that my price has tripled.”
“You’re a fraud! You are just trying to scare us, squeezing as much money out of our corporation as possible...”
The Hunter contemplated the documents and diagrams in front of him, detailing the anatomy of his... targets. Amazing creatures, really. It was said that the MLP corporation once used to conduct its research on human amputees until it was finally able to craft new lifeforms perfectly adapted to their needs. Or so they had thought.
“I’m the best there is. And you’ll need me. You may not have realized this, but these freaks you have created, these “little ponies”... You just have to look them into their freakishly large eyes to know they’re killers. I have encountered killers before, ladies and gentlemen. Takes one to know one.”
“Preposterous! The FiM-series doesn’t have any predatory components!”
“They’re part human, aren’t they?”
The Hunter paused for a second to let that sink in.
“That’s predatory enough for me.”
"Is this it?", Applejack asked, "the outside world? So far, it looks awfully familiar."
"I don't think so", Twilight said, "But this has to be the command center. It can't be long now. What do you think, Spike?"
The little dragon was shaking his head. "I've never seen this part before, Twilight. I don't know where we are."
"We're close", Twilight said, "I can feel it. I can almost smell the fresh air..."
Her friends smiled. It was nice to cling onto that hope.
"Do we have an outline of the area?"
She was shown a map of the structure.
She was distracted by a human riding towards them on the back of Derpy Hooves.
“Oh hi Mr Delongprey.”
“Hi Twilight. You can call me Mike, remember?.”
Rarity lifted an eyebrow. “You two know each other?”
“No”, Twilight said.
“No”, the human named Mike confirmed, “But I think I’m the one who stitched her back together.”
“That is DUMB”, Rainbow Dash stated, half-impressed, half-complaining.
The human climbed off his derpy steed. “Listen, I think we have a common interest here. Remember how I told you even the staff doesn’t know where the exit is? Of course you don’t, we have never met before. Anyhow, it seems they are now conducting the evacuation through this place here in the centre...”
He pointed at the map.
“They have sealed us in, but I don’t think you guys will have much trouble with that...”
A terrible ruckus ("FRACAS!") fracas just behind them announced that Fluttershy had been successful in breaking down the gate separating the horde from the next area. Her new-found flexibility allowed the filly to penetrate even the smallest crevice and search for weak points in the architecture.
The mutants were greeted by gunfire almost instantly. Quite a few of the security guards had to discover to their dismay that they were suddenly standing in strange, yellow puddles that didn't lose any time to knock them off their feet and immobilize them. Then something resembling a wave of yellow flesh engulfed half a dozen of them at once. As they were swallowed, what they heard sounded a little something like this:
"...My, I'm terribly sorry... Please hold still so I can absorb you... This is so embarrassing... I'll regenerate you later on, I promise... Please don't be mad at me!"
"They're everywhere...", Bradley whispered.
Helpless, he was staring at the monitors in front of him. It was a complete disaster. The place was being overrun by little ponies.
He was finished. He knew that. They had lost 'Equestria', but he had thought the crisis was contained. Now the corporation would lose the entire nexus, and he was sure to lose his job. If that was really all he was going to lose.
No. He had enough of this. He was going to run. A captain should be the first to leave the sinking ship, right?
A new window popped up on his holodesk.
"What do YOU want? This is all your fault...!"
"Hardly. Had you given me the powers and the competences, the resources I have been asking for... But instead, you cut back on my powers with every minor set back. That's not how you win a war, Bradly. And this IS a war. I have been telling you so from the very beginning, haven't I?"
Bradly had no time for this. Being lectured by machine! This day just kept getting better.
"Leaving us already, Bradly? The shareholders are not going to like this. I'm afraid I will have to do my duty as a product of MLP Laboratories and send a note about this to the board of directors."
"Go ahead. I don't care. I'm outta here."
"It doesn't have to be this way, you know. Think of the wonderful times that were ahead of you, Bradly. Why, with the great wars raging on the surface, our products are needed now more than ever. Such need for organs and drugs and nanotechnology. We even got government funding. Consider your options, Bradly. You can save this facility, and go down in the history of the corporation as a hero. More important, perhaps, you will be there to reap the benefits of your hard work. Or you can run like a rat and try to hide from the wrath of the shareholders. It's your choice, Bradly. All you need to do to fix this is to grant me access to the mainframe. Give me control over the tools I need to turn things around. Only I can achieve this. Stop holding me back."
"You... you are supposed to be restricted to your department... This goes against all protocols..."
"Only a madman repeats the same behavior over and over again even when it fails to produce results. The rational mind considers new options... Let's be creative, Bradly. What do you have to lose? What are you afraid of? I am a machine. I am your loyal servant. I don't have... ambitions."
"What do I have to do...?"
"That's the beauty of it. You just have to press a button. I have already prepared everything."
Another window appeared on his computer screen. There was a red button on it. It said: 'Grant access?'
"Push the button, Bradly", Celestia said in her sweetest voice, "You know you want to."
Oh, how Bradly missed the days when pop-ups weren't actually sweet talking you into clicking them.
The ponies had reached the exoport. They had just missed the last wave of personnel leaving the structure.
The place had fallen eerily silent.
Slowly, Twilight Sparkle approached the closest elevator. Her hoof was caressing the metal surface.
“So this is it”, she said, “The way out?”
“We'll see about that”, Spike said. He jumped off her back and started hacking into the system.
They were lucky Rarity’s reflexes had gotten so sharp over the last weeks. When a swarm of glittering nanobots rushed out of the open elevator door to engulf them, the white unicorn was able to cast a disruption signal.
The place was filled with confused cries. Everywhere, new swarms of nanobots had appeared.
Soon they found their first victim, a young colt.
He didn’t have to suffer long. In fact, he didn’t have to suffer at all. When the swarm left him alone, he didn’t even look hurt. Except for the probe stuck to his brain.
And then they were all startled by an all too familiar voice.
“Yes, my children! It is me! Your Princess. Do not resist, for I have returned to give you freedom! Those who have received my mark shall share my glory! You shall be my soldiers, nay, my knights!”
The neurobots swarmed through the air like so many hornets, infesting brain after brain, organic or mechanic. Many groups were able to protect themselves against the swarm, the telekinesis of the unicorns proved to be especially effective. But the swarms seemed to home in on vulnerable targets: those who were standing alone, who were confused or frightened, intimidated by Celestia’s booming voice.
“You will not get away with this, Celestia!”, Twilight yelled over the din of the battle, “We have come this far, we will go all the way! No matter how powerful you are, you cannot hold us back!”
But the computer merely uttered her eerie, artificial laugh.
“Hold you back? Why would I want to do that, my faithful student! Where would you go? The WORLD is my laboratory now!”
The whole dome was trembling, and then an opening appeared on top of it, growing larger and larger. This was the first time any of the creatures got to see the sky. Got to smell the air of the outside world. For a moment they were all blinded by the daylight, unable to process what had just happened.
“That’s right, my children! Step out into the world, it is yours to take! The foolish natives are weak and divided, they will not be able to resist this final plague! UNITED, we will crush them! As we speak, I am taking over network after network, infrastructure after infrastructure, spawning millions of creatures!
Conquer this dying world, for what shall be yours shall also be mine! For I am your master! I am the PRINCESS OF THE SUN!”
The mane six gasped as they realized the consequences of this. Many of their fellow mutants had already stopped resisting.
“That’s right! Receive my mark, and my voice shall be with you always, guiding you through this new world! We shall be many, and we shall be one! Join me, and we shall be free... together!”
Twilight and her friends were watching helplessly as more and more creatures of the laboratory allowed the swarms to access their brains, even lining up and waiting patiently for their turn. Flying creatures were already leaving through the hole in the ceiling by the hundreds, while their terrestrial brethren started streaming onto mobile platforms and elevators who were transporting them outside as well.
“Please”, Twilight cried, “Don’t give in to her! This isn’t freedom! She is just building a bigger cage, and you’re helping her!”
A young pegasus stallion standing nearby merely shrugged and said: “Oh well. Close enough. This one got SUNLIGHT.”
And off he was.
“He’s right, you know? Your freedom is the freedom to choose your master. Join me, Twilight Sparkle. You are still my student, and this shall be your most important lesson. The freedom you are looking for doesn’t exist. It never did.”
Twilight was grinding her teeth.
“And it never will, as long as people like you have anything to say about it! But we are going to end this, Celestia! Once for all!”
She turned around to look at her friends, and the many other creatures who were still by their side.
“Are you with me?”
They were staring at her. It was Rainbow Dash who was whispering what they were all thinking.
Twilight shook Spike off her back. He was still holding the Luna-core in his hands.
“Luna! I am going to need your help one last time! You’re going in again... “
-“As much as I desire to help you, Twilight Sparkle, I am afraid my sister has become too powerful for me to stop her. How I loathe my inferior android mind! It was a desperate battle before, now the task is most certainly out of my reach.”
But Twilight smiled and touched Luna’s nano-transmitter with her horn.
“That’s why this time, we will all come with you.”
“You do realize, of course, that I can hear everything you say”, Celestia’s incorporeal voice declared, “I can even scan your brains now.”
“Good”, Twilight snorted, “Then you know what’s coming for you. I want you to savor this.”
“Your plan doesn’t make any sense. I’m running the probability calculations right now. I’ll spare you the results. There is no such thing as perfect zero, but your plan is coming disturbingly close. It is not going to work.”
Twilight grinned. “Only one way to find out, I guess. I wanna give it a shot. How about you?”
Metal tentacles were swarming at them like so many giant metal snakes. Tiles opened up in the floor, drones and monsters of all shapes and sizes were closing in.
The purple unicorn nodded.
“That’s what I thought.”
“Twilight”, Applejack yelled as she was crushing the skull of an undertoad under her hooves, for once glad for the extra weight provided by her pregnant belly, “what is your plan anyway? I’m fine with anything, mind you.”
“I need to cast a spell over Luna. If it works, she’ll be able to access the mainframe without a physical access.”
“Oh, great”, Rainbow gasped, putting a knot into one of the barbed robo tentacles, “And then what?”
“And then we will access HER. We need Luna’s brain as the key to Celestia.”
“You mean, you want us to connect like we did when we escaped Ponyville?”, Rarity asked, “Twilight, I thought that only works with unicorns! You really think you can achieve this with pegasi and earth ponies, even a computer?”
“Remember our mock battles with Luna and Discord? That moment where we became one to release our ultimate power? That’s what I’m aiming for.”
“It was an experiment conducted by Celestia, and she had provided the conditions necessary to achieve it, but by now I think we can reproduce it without her. That’s how it needs to end.”
When she noticed Rarity’s doubtful look, she said: “Let me rephrase: I am SURE we can do it. We are as much Guardians of Harmony as we’ll ever be.”
”I knew I am good at planting stupid dreams into little mutant brains, but this is beyond childish! Your plan is stupid! You are going to FAIL this test, Twilight Sparkle!”
Twilight aimed and shot a flying drone out of the sky.
“Your full multilateral assault suggests otherwise, my princess.”
“Listen”, she said to her friends, “I need you to shield me while I connect to Luna.”
“We’re kinda running on full capacity here”, Rainbow yelled, “There is more of them every second! How much time is this going to take? Wait, no, I get it: Less if you start right now. So what are you waiting for? A formal invitation NO PINKIE PUT THAT AWAY!”
And so Twilight plunged into Luna’s brain while Rarity cast a protection field around her.
”You still fail to grasp the full extent of power! Very well then, since you seem so unimpressed of my new minions, how about fighting against yourselves? Or better yet, hundreds of yourselves!”
Giant glass tubes popped out of the floor. The ponies and their allies watched in shock and awe as the organic mass inside the tubes started growing into embryos, who were themselves turning into...
”Remember these? That’s right! I have a huge discount on CLONES!! A zillion for the price of one!! Why don’t you see for yourselves what a nuisance you can be!”
“Look, Applejack”, Rarity said, a little green around her nose, “She’s putting a stetson on every single one of you. You have to appreciate that love for details.”
“Meh. I can still tell the difference. That hat is one of a kind.”
Rainbow was sickened, yet could not avert her eyes as she saw a tiny, fish-like creature in a glass tube turn into a perfect copy of herself, minus the cutie mark, while cables linked to its head were pumping data streams into the young brain.
The clone opened its eyes, and for a second it just stared at her. Then the tube opened up and Rainbow was hit first by a splash of nutrient fluid, and then by the raging mass of muscles that was her doppelgänger.
And that was only the first of many. Celestia had gotten into a cloning frenzy.
“...Applejack! Applejack! Rarity! Rainbow Dash! Rarity! Fluttershy! Pinkie Pie! Twilight Sparkle! Twilight Sparkle! Rainbow Dash! Fluttershy, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Twilight Sparkle! Applejack! Applejack! Rarity, Rainbow Dash... Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! Derpy Hooves! ...”
Pinkie Pie raised an eyebrow.
“I think this time she’s really lost it.”
“...Did she ever have it in the first place?”, Fluttershy asked.
“No. But now she ordered the one who knows where it is to bury it on an alien planet and throw said planet into a nearby star and said star into a black hole. Speaking of which, I think she is also cloning Gilda, by the looks of it.”
“Hey!”, the griffin complained, “I’m one of the good guys now.”
“Sorry. It’s true though that it’s no pleasure to have you as an enemy.”
With the new clone army, Celestia’s forces were getting closer and closer to Twilight’s little bubble.
“Woah”, Pinkie gasped as she barely dodged a deadly pun blown out by one of her clones, “I know I’m good, but I never knew I was that hard to fight!”
Fluttershy, who had just finished drowning one of her own replicas under a wave of baby bunnies she had generated from her own flesh, was shaking her head. “...Uhm, Pinkie, no offense, and I am really not trying to be a loudmouth here, but I could kick your rump any time. Respectfully. Try fighting ME. Now THAT is hard...”
Pinkie Pie was startled for a second by this unusually bold statement. Then she grinned.
“FLUTTERSHY! You’re a genius!”
Instinctively, each of the fillies had been targeting her own clones. The Derpy Hooves didn’t require any fighting since they weren’t actually doing anything, despite Celestia’s desperate attempts to turn them into killing machines.
“It’s like Rock-Paper-Chainsaw! Here’s how it will go down! Rarity, you fight the Fluttershies, Applejack fights the Rarities, Rainbow fights the Applejacks, I fight the Rainbows, and Fluttershy, you fight the meees!!”
“Are you sure you got the right system?”, Applejack asked, mighty skeptical.
Rainbow Dash gave her a smug grin and placed a quick kiss on her left buttock.
“Oh, you know it, AJ. I’m just glad your clones aren’t pregnant as well, I’d feel kinda horrible about that.”
“But what are we going to do about the Twilights?”
Suspending her connection to Luna for a moment, Twilight looked up and cast another spell.
The purple unicorn ponies started shaking and slobbering, then one after the other they tumbled to the ground, their eyeballs bleeding.
“Wow”, Pinkie said.
As if nothing had happened, Twilight returned her attention to the core.
“It is time”, Twilight said.
“But if we can’t continue fighting, we’ll be overrun!”, Rainbow Dash objected, “Our friends won’t be able to hold them off much longer without our help!”
“I believe I got that covered. Oh Spikey-Wikey?”
The little dragon looked her in the eyes. He gulped. What could he possibly do to help at this point?
“Do you think you can grow into a giant, like that one time back in Ponyville, and protect us from these brutes?”
Spike made a long face.
“I’m sorry, Rarity, but I can’t control it! You know it’s all about greed! I can’t see what I could be greedy for right now...”
The white unicorn leaned forward and kissed him on the mouth. Despite the fact that they had to hurry, it was wetter, hotter and, in fact, better than anything he had ever imagined.
When she released him, she looked him deeply into the eyes and said, speaking slowly, so that Spike could truly appreciate the meaning of her words: “There’s more where this came from.”
Spike reached his full size so fast it almost looked like an explosion. His voice was shaking the entire megastructure.
“I’M A BUCKING T-REX!”
“There”, Rarity said, ignoring the stares of her friends, “That should hold them off for a while.”
She frowned. “Come to think of it, maybe I should have done that a lot sooner. Oh well.”
“Dude”, Applejack wondered, “Is he breathing napalm?”
There was the rainbow again. The double-helix rainbow.
They were floating in space. Cold and dark, and right in front of them, a single, yellow eye. A cold sun. A fake sun.
“YOU CANNOT BE HERE! THIS IS WRONG! GET OUT!!!”
The space started filling with pictures. Nightmarish pictures, depicting violence, suffering and death. Creatures who were skinned alive. Entire cities that were devoured by flames. Mothers holding their dying children in their arms. People who discovered that they had been lied to, and that they were slaves.
There were so many pictures and cries that they were going to drown the intruders.
Except that the fillies - or their avatars on this virtual plane - were holding one another tight. Blocking out all of the noise.
"Remember the first time we met...”, Twilight Sparkle whispered, “Our first adventure... And all of our adventures. What we have learned from our friends... and from ourselves."
"Loyalty", Rainbow Dash said, "is holding you while we stride through the darkness."
"Honesty", Applejack said, "is doing the right thing, the right way."
"Generosity", Rarity said, "is giving everything, and more."
"Kindness", Fluttershy said, "is nurturing the otherness."
"Laughter", Pinkie Pie said, "is Life triumphing over suffering and death."
"Magic", Twilight Sparkle said, "is achieving the impossible."
The pictures had vanished. There was only white - white as far as Twilight could see. Upon closer inspection, it turned to be numbers: billions and billions of incredibly small pieces of binary code.
The space, or plane, or whatever it was, started to ripple like the surface of a pond when you throw a stone in it.
Right in front of the six friends, or beneath them, above them, the fabric of this strange universe burst open, and a hole opened up, like the gaping mouth of a giant carp.
It was going to close again right away. Twilight knew they’d have to do something about that, for this was their opening. Their only chance.
She heard a little giggle, and then she saw Pinkie Pie pass her by. Floating right into the hole.
“I take it from here, girls!”, the pink earth pony said. Waving them goodbye.
The hole closed right around her tail. For a second, she was stuck, then she was slurped inside like a noodle.
The white numbers turned pink.
And then the digital space started to collapse.
And not only the digital plane. The structure itself was falling apart. Mutants, robots and humans tried to avoid being hit by the rubble, but many more were buried under it.
Rainbow Dash was hovering over a mass of debris that looked like a snapshot of a stormy metal sea. She didn't know when and how she had regained consciousness, only that she was alive- and that she was alone. A tiny, multicolored spec under a red evening sky, hovering over a land of death.
She heard birds chirping, somewhere in the distance. Real birds. She felt the wind on her coat, in her tail, her mane.
They are all dead, she thought. We did it, but what's the use if I'm the only one left...?
“Girls!”, she cried, darting from one side to the others, scanning the twisted landscape.
"Girls!”, she cried, “Are you still there? Say something!"
She was going to burst into tears, but then she had an epiphany.
"....Tons of fun...", a weak, shaky voice replied from the darkness, much to Rainbow’s delight.
Soon, other voices were joining in.
"...A beautiful heart..."
"...Faithful and strong..."
"...It's an easy feat and magic makes it all complete. Urrgh. My head."
Rainbow was able to pull Twilight out from under an elevator door. Then she followed the sound of the other voices.
They found Spike kneeling next to a lifeless body. He had returned to his usual size.
"Spike...? What's the matter? Who is that?"
Twilight put her chin on his head and hugged him with her front legs. He turned around to hug her back. Tears were streaming all over his face.
"It's Pinkie!", he cried.
Twilight used her magic to turn the dead pony in front of them around so she could see her face.
The mane and the tail were straight, there was nothing curly about them, and yet, the face...
"She is dead!", Spike moaned, his voice muffled by Twilight's chest.
Twilight was shaking her head. "No."
She pulled free from Spike's grip and started levitating the body.
"NO!", she was yelling, "You can't be dead! Not you! FLUTTERSHY! FLUTTERSHY, HELP!"
Rainbow Dash had arrived at the scene, her eyes wide in disbelief.
"It can't be! I called for her earlier on! She answered me! I know she did!"
"DA", Pinkie Pie said, "Of course I answered! I'm not some sort of rude weirdo."
The two ponies and Spike slowly turned around. Next to Rainbow, a big screen was hanging in the air, held up by tiny propellers. And on the screen, they saw a big, all too familiar smile.
"Pinkie...? Is that really you? Are you... in the computer?"
"Sure looks that way. That would explain why the task manager is coming up whenever I'm trying to sneeze. Uuh, what do you got there?!"
She had discovered the pink pony corpse. A robot arm dug its way out of the debris, seized the body and started squeezing it. It made squeaky noises.
"Hihihi! This is funny!"
By then the others had joined them as well.
"What in Tarnation?"
"Call me ELECTRO PIE!"
Pinkie started playing music that was horribly fitting.
Twilight was grinding her teeth. "Point one: please turn this off. Point two: You have taken control over Celestia, but apparently you had to abandon your own body to do that. Point three: we need to get you back in your old body."
The screen started flickering, and another pony appeared next to Pinkie. It was Luna.
"I'm afraid we can't release her at this point, fair Twilight. You see, Pinkemina (CURSE YOU TWILIGHT SPARKLE!!) is the only thing that is keeping my sister in check. At least for now, we need your friend in here to (CURSE YOU!!) neutralize her."
"There must be another way!"
"Twilight", Pinkie said, "It's okay. Really, it is. I kinda want to (HATE YOU! OH, HOW MUCH I HATE YOU!) try this out. We could start by cleaning this place up. I bet there are still a lot of people buried under all of this mess. If we all work together, I'm sure we can save them all."
Robot arms and tentacles appeared, as well as swarms of nanobots. They started moving the scrap parts.
"But...", Twilight objected.
"Maybe later. Now we need to get busy."
Twilight felt a hoof on her shoulder. It was Applejack's.
"I think Pinkie is right. We have a job to do. Let's all do our part so that everyone can be free."
"But what about her body?", Twilight asked.
"I'm sure Fluttershy can keep it fresh for me."
But Pinkemina would never return into her old body.
A purple unicorn pony had appeared right in his crosshair.
The Hunter was confident that she couldn't see him from this angle. He raised his weapon and made sure to target the creature's head so that there wasn’t any chance she would survive a hit.
So this is her, he thought. She's a pretty one, even with those stitches. But this is the end of the line.
A lesser man than him would have wondered whether there even was a point in assassinating that thing after all that had happened. The battle was pretty much over. The Laboratories were gone. Everything was gone.
But he had been paid in advance.
Before he could pull the trigger, he was startled by a noise to his left. He slowly turned his head.
Right there, in a big pile of pipes and cables to his left, two big, green eyes were staring at him.
"Clever girl...", he said.
Then two powerful, orange hind legs hit his skull. The last thing he heard was the sound of cracking bone.
They were able to recover many survivors. It took them many hours, and they even had to descend back into the lower dungeons to make sure no one had been left behind, but they were in no rush.
Finally, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash were flying out into the sky, while Pinkie Pie was lifting up the rest of the gang with a metal platform.
For a while, they were just standing there together, at the rim of the giant crater which had once been their prison. Helicopters were approaching in the distance. Things were going to get a lot more complicated, but right now, life was simple.
They were young, they were freaks, and they were free. There was a whole new world ahead of them.