67w, 3dAlicorn Twilight
63w, 3dTwilight is Best Pony
64w, 4dTwilight Sparkle
- Show All Groups
62w, 5dThe Hero... Nightmare Moon?
63w, 1dDaymare Sun
51w, 5dAlicorn Twilight
42w, 4dThe Usual
31w, 18hSt. Xavier Bronies
10w, 1dMLP: Motherhood is Magical
4w, 5dEpic Quality Fics
17w, 2dCompleted Story Compendium
13w, 4dX Becomes An Alicorn
12w, 6dthe creation center
“Princess!” Twilight Sparkle nudged her newly-discovered mother's cheek with her muzzle. “Please wake up... please... please mom...”
The anger seared as it left her body and the one voice in the world - no, in the universe - that mattered called for her once more.
Slowly her eyes opened, magenta focusing on the violet of her long lost daughter. The world seemed to stop. Her daughter.
All this time she had been with her, feeling guilty of wishing Twilight was hers, that this wonderful filly could be her own flesh and blood, and not just her beloved student... slowly tears streamed out of her eyes.
All this time she could have called her 'daughter.’ All this time she could have been the mother she had always felt she was and never fear to be crossing the invisible line between students and mentors when it came to affection; for it was different to treat a pony as if they were your child... and treating that pony as you would treat your real child. She would have spoiled her so much.
Twilight's eyes were also brimming with tears as she looked at her mentor and mother. “Prin-” she shook her head and said more firmly, “Mom. Welcome... welcome back.”
“Oh, Twilight...” with her forelegs, Celestia pulled the unicorn into an embrace. Then she noticed something worrying. “W-what... what happened to your horn?”
Twilight chuckled weakly. “Um... I... was resurrected and it wasn't part of my body anymore...”
Celestia's eyes were wide. “The cambro had enough energy to bring you back, but not completely... Oh, Twilight... I'm so sorry, the whole thing was unnecessary but... I didn't know back then that we could bring down the assassin's guild...”
“There's so much that we need to talk about...” Twilight agreed, smiling softly as she held her mother close. “About the assassins, about you and me...” she sighed. “There's so much I don't understand... how did the cambro work? Why could it bring Trixie and me back?”
“Trixie?” Celestia blinked. “Clearly I also need to find out about a great many things.”
“About my horn...” Twilight ventured uneasily. “I know that Twilight Spark has it.”
Celestia cringed. “I'm so sorry, Twilight... when I thought I had lost you... I- I couldn’t carry on. Even if I had forgotten you were my biological daughter... I couldn’t think of you as anything other than that. From the little filly unicorn that I took under my wing, to the proud...” she smiled, “pegasus that you have become...”
Twilight chuckled as she buried her face in her mother's flowing mane.
“I always thought of you as my daughter... I just wish I had known.”
“I always thought of you as a mother,” Twilight stated. “And now, it's true... and I was blessed with three parents instead of two...” She frowned. “Which reminds me... about that--”
A crash and a roar interrupted their conversation. The whole area around them started shaking as a they looked around wildly.
“Twilight!” Celestia slowly stood, stumbling a bit with the shaking beneath her hooves. “What's happening?!”
Suddenly they could hear it in their minds.
You dare! A completely alien language that rumbled like thunder all around them, and somehow they understood. I have let you pathetic beings all crawl over my world for thousands of years, and now you refuse my due! I will rid this world of all of you and feast on your life energy. I will torture your souls for eternity.
“It's the Guardian!” Twilight gasped.
“The Guardian! Nightmare Moon explained it to me... he's the one responsible for turning alicorns into Nightmares! He somehow feeds off of them! She was hoping that, by releasing you from Nightmare Flare, he would show up!”
“Nightmare...” Celestia shook her head. The memories of her time as Nightmare Flare were fogged... still there but she had to struggle to remember. “Ugh... now I know how Luna felt...” her eyes widened. “Oh... oh no- Twilight... I... Lyra!”
Twilight closed her eyes and lowered her head.
“Twilight, I let one of my guards get killed! I-”
The word broke the Princess from her guilty ramblings.
“Mom... there's nothing we can do about it right now other than finish this.”
Celestia nodded, taking a deep breath. “I have been acting like a victim too much for my liking...” she said soberly. “Regardless of my feelings I must be strong... I must save Luna from the Nightmare... then, then I'll... I'll deal with what I have done.”
Twilight nodded. “We should join the others.”
“Yes. Let's go.”
Most of the ponies that remained in the plaza had frozen in place. They had been looking for family members, friends or simply bemoaning the horror of what had transpired in Canterlot. Now, as the beast approached, they froze in fear, a few screaming out here or there, while the more cowardly and able ponies had abandoned the rest to their fate.
The four alicorns observed their surroundings with interest. Clearly they had never seen the city before.
One of them, Winter, watched as Nightmare Moon drifted down and landed in the street a few feet in front of her, while several other ponies gathered around the black alicorn. The action seemed to snap the frozen crowds out of their stupor and soon the plaza was a cacophony of confused shouts and screams from panicked ponies trying to flee the area.
However this was nothing more than white noise now, all but lost in the background as the fighters stared at the new arrivals.
Winter narrowed her eyes as she took in Nightmare Moon's form, then glanced at the black alicorn’s cutie mark. “You... you are not Luna. Who are you?”
“Nightmare Moon.” The black alicorn smirked and nodded slightly. “It has been close to two thousand years since you four were destroyed. The world has changed a great deal.”
Another alicorn, with a green mane, yellow coat and a single, white daffodil cutie-mark gasped. “Two thousand years?”
A rusty-red alicorn with a large brown leaf for a cutie-mark glanced around the semi-destroyed plaza. “It has changed indeed. Structures such as these did not exist when we ruled the four stations.”
“We have missed so much,” the last alicorn, cyan-blue with a thundercloud cutie-mark lamented. She looked at the others. “It was several centuries at least when I saw you last, Winter.”
The white coated alicorn with the electric-blue mane and ice-crystal cutie-mark arched an eyebrow.
“Moon?” Soarin' asked after a moment, “Are those alicorns for real?”
The Nightmare sighed, “Yes.”
“Well, the Great and Powerful Trixie is at least grateful that you have a plan,” Trixie said, her customary illeism. covering up her shock. “Because trying to win this fight without one would be a bad idea.”
Nightmare Moon fell silent for an uncomfortable amount of time.
As the immediacy of her previous comment faded, Trixie coughed. “You do have a plan, right?”
The black alicorn's wings slumped. “No. I really did not expect this to happen.”
“N-Nightmare Moon!” a voice yelled out, all the ponies turning to look at Celestia as she slowly made her way towards them with Twilight Sparkle supporting her. The Sun Princess's majesty was severely diminished by her dull, limp mane.
Behind her, Jade helped Big Mac limp toward them, while Twilight Spark levitated Applejack.
Cinnamon, Daisy Sprout, Fluttershy, Golden Cross, Paper Craft and the Cutie-Mark Crusaders also approached them from the other side, abandoning the relative safety of distance in favor of being closer to family.
Nightmare Moon shook her head dismissively. “Now is not the time to argue, dear sister,” she said, glancing up at the Guardian, who watched silently, all sixteen eyes shining malevolently, “We have bigger issues to deal with.”
Celestia's eyes were hard. “My sister-”
“Is fine.” Nightmare Moon interrupted as she looked at the two Twilights. Her gaze went to the purple pegasus. “I see you haven’t been able to get your horn back yet, my niece.”
Twilight shook her head while Spark took a nervous step back.
“Celestia... you've changed.” Summer said, looking at the Princess in awe. “I'm sorry I didn't get to stay longer and-”
She was interrupted as the air around them thickened with energy. Everypony gasped, all ponies save Celestia and Nightmare Moon falling to their knees as if the weight of the world was slowly crushing them.
“What are you doing?!” Spring demanded, as she and her sisters looked in anger at the Guardian.
The voice of the Guardian echoed in their minds. We don't need distractions, and this respite has lasted long enough.
“Celestia!” Nightmare Moon shouted, horn already aglow as energy gathered around her.
The Princess of the Sun was equally fast; as the pressure around them exploded, a shimmering dome of white light and darkness formed around the group of ponies.
Outside the protective dome, all sounds died immediately.
It took several seconds for the Princesses to decide it was safe to lower the dome. The group stared in horror at what awaited them behind the dissipating spell that had protected them.
The guards who had been helping the injured stood frozen in place, along with the ponies they had been trying to help and even the few remaining ponies trying to flee the plaza, all of them turned to stone.
The whole city had dulled, taking a grayish hue under the dark skies, and there was an unsettling feeling of something lurking just outside their perception.
“W-what‘s happened to them?” Misty stammered out.
“Are... they just frozen? Like when a basilisk or a cockatrice stares at you?” Fluttershy asked fearfully.
“They...” Celestia choked.
Nightmare Moon growled. “They're dead.” She whipped around to glare at the Guardian as the behemoth hissed in mirth. “You killed them!”
Why, my little Nightmare, the Guardian chuckled, his words a hissing threat. You seem to have developed a soft spot for these useless beings.
“Silence!” the black alicorn barked, drawing a disbelieving stare from Celestia. “I'll tear you to pieces!”
“You won't be alone!” Trixie proclaimed, standing next to the Nightmare, albeit looking more than a bit nervous. “Trixie shall lend you her magic!”
“And you have us,” Soarin' added, as Misty and even Gilda, who had been checking up on Rainbow Dash, nodded their assent.
“And me as well,” Jade said marching forward, her eyes assessing the four alicorns and the Guardian. Her voice drew a gasp from several of the ponies, who turned to stare at the assassin as though she had grown another head.
“J-Jade!” Sweetie Belle gasped, “You talked! But-”
“Don't forget me,” Twilight Spark interrupted, not looking at them, preferring to center her attention on the Guardian. “I have a good deal of pent-up aggression to rid myself of.”
“And you have me as well, Nightmare Moon,” Celestia finally said, walking up to stand next to the Nightmare, the sun princess's mane already returning to its wavy glory. She stood strong and firm as she glared at the Guardian. “There is much to discuss between us, but there are more dire circumstances to deal with right now.”
Nightmare Moon smiled at her sister and eyed the behemoth before them.
“We're all with you, Moon,” Jade added.
The monstrous snake-like being hissed and its eyes glowed brighter.
The four alicorns that had risen from the ashes of the Guardian’s shadow chimera howled in pain as their bodies were wracked by a malevolent energy. Slowly their legs elongated and their faces shifted becoming slightly longer. Their eyes turned reptilian as the rest of their bodies grew to a stature similar to that of Celestia and Nightmare Moon.
We will see how far you get! the Guardian hissed angrily. With a wave of one of his several arms, the ponies were blasted by an invisible force as Celestia and Nightmare Moon, struggled in the powerful telekinetic grasp of the creature's powerful magic.
The alicorns watched in horror as their friends, family and allies were flung into the the city.
Go! Kill them! the snake-like monster ordered the four new Nightmares, who shot up into the air and flew in different directions.
“Let us go, reptile!” Nightmare Moon ordered.
“Guardian, stop this now or we shall put a stop to you!” Celestia’s voice joined her sister’s.
The Guardian's monstrous form rumbled with confident laughter, its amusement sending a chill down the alicorn’s backs.
Gilda glared at the dome of gray energy that covered all of Canterlot and then sighed as her eyes drifted down to the cyan pegasus beside her. She had managed to fight the force of the Guardian’s throw and had quickly caught the unconscious pegasus, flying down into the city to hide and recuperate inside one of the evacuated buildings.
They had ended up in, from what Gilda could tell, some sort of office building. Wooden desks sat buried in papers emblazoned with various company logos. She had dragged Dash into a large office on ground level with a large window that overlooked the street. The air was thick with dust, as if the building had been abandoned for several years, despite the fact that it would have been only mere hours since everypony had left.
The Guardian's magic was strange... it left her feathers tingling and her muscles tense. There was a pervading sense of wrongness in the air. It was only the sight of the pony beside her that kept Gilda from giving in to the urge to fly away.
“Really, Dash, you get me in the worst kinds of trouble,” the griffon chuckled, her claw carefully brushing aside the chromatic mane so that she could look at the pegasus' face. “I haven't seen you passed out like this since we went bar hopping after Junior Fliers. That was so cool!” she laughed quietly. Her chuckles slowly died until all was quiet again. “Why did you tell me to go away, Dash?” She sighed. “You could have asked me for help... I've learned a lot since I got kicked out of Ponyville. Don't get me wrong, I'm still too cool for your lame-o pony friends though.” She glanced down at the calmly breathing pegasus. “Not that you’re awake to appreciate it right now.”
She looked out of the window to the streets outside. Everything seemed duller, as if the life had literally been sucked out of everything, even the paint of the buildings. Trees that had been green that morning looked a muted brown, colorful banners and textiles looked like they had hung for years, bleaching in the sun.
“Haven't ever seen anything like this before...” she spotted a couple of statue ponies that had been running away from the Guardian, frozen permanently in the middle of the otherwise untouched streets of Canterlot. Gilda shook her head. “So. Completely. Messed up.”
As her eyes strayed upwards towards the distant rooftops, she froze. Fall was flying low, searching the streets carefully. Gilda carefully slid back further into the office, just in case, and watched from the shadows as the alicorn flew past.
After a few tense moments of eerie silence, she risked another look. No sign of the rusty-red alicorn. She sighed.
“You know Dash... I would really like to start over again. What we talked about earlier... it got to me in a big way. So much that I couldn't just leave you. I had to help.” She lay down next to the pegasus. “Dash... thank you for saving me and forgiving me... I was a wreck after I left Ponyville... it took me months to realize why I was acting like that, and then even longer to come to grips with it and the fact that you were now out of reach.” She smiled and chuckled a bit. “That all changed with that crazy Kung-fu pegasus bringing that letter. She still had to beat me up to make me take it but... Dash... I-”
Gilda stopped and looked down at the still unconscious pegasus.
“I...” She slowly lowered her head until she was able to nuzzle the pegasus sadly. “I wish I was cool enough to say it,” she finally said, sliding down to simply lie there.
The air rushing around her, Trixie tried with all her might to hold on to her beloved hat, her cape whipping about in the wind. She could see the ground rapidly approaching. She wasn't going to merely hit it.
No. First she was going to smash into the side of a building, then her broken body would tumble down to the street below... or perhaps she would hit it hard enough that her corpse would slide down and leave a bloody smear down the building. Either way, she had to figure a way to quickly change her fate and fast.
Complicating matters was the fact that she wasn't alone, and the earth pony's screams were distracting her.
Applejack was falling along with to her, screaming her lungs out as she kicked her hooves wildly.
She couldn't blame the earth pony. After all, she seldom had her hooves off the ground herself. However...
“Oh, Hooorseaappleeees! Celestia dang it!”
The apple farmer looked over at her, eyes wild with fear.
“We'll be fine! The Great and Powerful Trixie won't let anything happen to either of us!”
The earth pony managed to grab hold of Trixie and shook her wildly. “In case ya haven't noticed, WE’RE ABOUT TO CRASH!”
Trixie sighed in exasperation and pointed towards her horn.
The orange-coated mare simply blinked at her. “Oh.”
Blue energy gathered around her horn and suddenly, a dense mattress appeared on the wall of the building. Both mares crashed onto it with an “oof!” the force of the impact decreased considerably. It was still painful and disorienting as they bounced off of it, but Trixie quickly spotted something else to use. Another flash and a stray cart in the street turned into a mattress right under them as they landed on top of it in a heap.
“A m-mattress...? Why a mattress...” Applejack groaned.
The blue unicorn simply shrugged. “They're comfy.”
Slowly the pair crawled off the mattress and stared around them. The architecture of Canterlot proper was very different from that of the castle.
Celestia's home was, and had always been, designed to reflect the magic and might of the alicorn-goddess: spires, careful curves, perfect white walls... the almost random coloration of the turrets.
The city, on the other hoof, was a mixture of styles, the many decades it had taken to build it having brought with them ponies of varied architectural visions. Although none of the buildings could be mistaken for quaint, and the structures were mostly masonry, several sections of the city itself were defined by the buildings in them.
“What in tarnation...” Applejack growled as she stared up at the buildings.
Trixie looked around. The tall buildings, the ornamentations and stonework, the complex designs, arches... “I see that neo-gothic is not your style.”
“Neo-what-ic?” the apple farmer asked. “That why all these buildin's here look so creepy?"
Trixie merely huffed in response, taken aback by the farm pony’s apparent ignorance. “Just look at the play of light and shadow, the intricate stonework, the magnificent gargoyles! Look at how the buildings seem to reach for the heavens themselves as if trying to grasp Celestia’s sun itself! How can you possibly call such masterworks ‘creepy?’"
Applejack gave the magician a deadpan look as Trixie panted from her outburst. “Ah think ya just answered yer question, sugarcube.”
Trixie looked away, mumbling something rather crude under her breath.
“Well, we should git goin’...” Applejack said, stretching her legs with a slight grimace. “Ah think Ah saw somepony fallin’ a few blocks from here on the way down.” She pointed towards the east.
“Sure.” Trixie sighed. She started walking, but stopped when she heard a pained moan and a muffled thump. She looked back and her eyes widened. “Applejack!” She ran towards the orange mare, leaning down to take a look at her. Damn it! I can't let Macintosh’s sister die!
She noticed the deep gash on the orange mare's shoulder and grimaced. “How could Trixie have missed that?!”
“Ah... ah don't know, sugarcube.” Applejack chuckled. “But, if it makes you feel any better, Ah forgot ‘bout it mahself. Spark healed it a bit ‘fore we all went flying.”
“How could you forget about something like that!?” Trixie asked, horrified, looking around. “Trixie thinks that the landing probably reopened the wound.”
“Whatcha lookin’ ‘round fer?” Applejack asked slowly, feeling suddenly tired.
“Something to bandage you with!” Trixie answered.
“Can't you magic up something?”
“It's not that simple,” the showmare sighed, “I can transform small objects with my magic, but after a while they will become what they were originally. Look.” She pointed to where the mattress had turned back into a cart with a puff of blue magic. "I can perhaps heal you partially with magic, but I'm afraid healing spells are hardly my speciality." Trixie's horn glowed and blue pinpricks of magic flashed on Applejack's cut. The blood flow slowed down until the injury had completely stopped bleeding. However, unlike Spark's hornwork, the wound was still open.
"You could go root around in one of them buildings and-"
“No.” Trixie shook her head as she sat down next to the apple farmer. “One of those alicorns is probably going to come for us, or the Guardian will, or something else.” She shuddered at the thought. “I can't leave you alone like this and I don’t think using my magic to move you around will help much while I search.”
Applejack smiled and closed her eyes , swaying a bit. “Ah don' know, sugarcube. If y'all don' get a bandage...” A ripping sound made her open her eyes.
The farm mare stared as blue magic ripped two long, wide strips of fabric from the bottom of Trixie's cape, then ripped them again so that she had four long strips of the blue fabric.
Carefully, the unicorn levitated Applejack just off the ground and then started bandaging her shoulder. The farmer couldn't stop staring as the soft blue material firmly wrapped her wound until it had been bandaged completely.
“T-Trixie.” She looked from her shoulder to the unicorn. “You... yer cape...”
The considerably shorter cape barely even covered her flank anymore, but the unicorn shook her head.
“Here. Let me help you up.”
The orange mare kept silent as Trixie accepted some of her weight. They started walking slowly towards the east again, Applejack favoring her healthy foreleg and only using the injured one to keep balance.
“Thank you Trixie,” the apple farmer said after a moment. “Ah honestly can't say ah ever thought you would do anythin’ like this.”
The unicorn chuckled. “The Great and Powerful Trixie you once knew would have never done this.” She looked down at the street, a bit sadly. “The Great and Powerful Trixie was a bit of an idiot. But... I'm just Trixie right now... nothing Great and Powerful about me at the moment.”
“Ah don't think-”
“I know how I treated you and the others,” Trixie interrupted, “And you weren't the first. Or the last. After Ponyville, I kept doing it. I thought I had to, even more so than before. When I did it to you and your friends, I did it as 'part of the show.’ I never stopped to think how I might have been hurting ponies doing it. After the Ursa Minor, it was to prove to anypony that I could best them in anything, and if I could, then maybe I really could do all I said I could.”
“Why... what made you change?” Applejack asked softly, noticing the pained look in the showmare's eyes.
“Twilight Sparkle,” Trixie said. “At first...” she added quickly when Applejack raised her eyebrow. “Just a little. She found me a few months after Ponyville. I was about to try and challenge her to combat, but... she brought my cape, hat, notes and books with her. She said she had read some of them...” She smiled softly.
“That's our Twilight, alright.” Applejack chuckled.
“She seemed to be impressed with my magical technique... I couldn't stay angry at her... at least not to her face. We talked for a long time. We parted on... favorable terms... Although I still saw her as my rival.” She sighed. “When I found the Guardian, I thought it could make me more powerful than ever... that I could go back to Ponyville and... I don't know, challenge Twilight to a friendly match or something.”
“And how would you go about doing that?” Applejack asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Oh, I'm sure we would have found a way.” Trixie said after a moment. “I mean, there are formal challenges for titles and such. We could have devised a series of complicated tests of skill to find out which of us is the most talented and powerful only to eventually realize that we are almost equal in power.”
The apple farmer laughed. “Sugarcube, you really think you could have matched Twilight test for test and even win?”
“Of course.” Trixie snorted. “I would have won some and maybe lost some!”
Applejack chuckled and shook her head.
“W-well, and, that was before Trixie knew that Princess Twilight was an alicorn!” the showmare added defensively.
“Besides,” she said, her tone more somber, “the Guardian killed me.” Trixie shook her head as she thought back to it. “Funny how that monster was more helpful to me than anypony ever was. I knew the only pony that could help me was Twilight. So I got a kid to etch a small rune on my wagon and used my magic to get to Ponyville.”
She nudged Applejack, who had slowed down, and they started walking again. “Why do you say that the Guardian did you a favor?” the farmer asked after a moment of silence.
“Trixie... I was alone. I had nopony to show off to, nopony to talk to. I only had time to think as I made my way and...” she looked down, a rosy tinge on her cheeks, “that’s when I met Big Macintosh.”
“Ah was wonderin' how that happened,” Applejack said.
“Big Mac was very helpful... just by being there... he was all that Trixie was not,” the showmare continued. “He was kind. He was humble. He listened. He offered to help without expecting any recompense.”
Applejack smiled as the unicorn talked about her brother.
“I had never met anypony like him. Under other circumstances, I might have thought he was simple... but he's considerate and careful. He never rushed and...” Trixie coughed, “he's pretty nice to look at.”
“Whoa there, Sally!” Applejack said, giving the unicorn a glare in mock anger. “That's mah brother yer talkin’ ‘bout!”
“He's amazing,” Trixie replied with a smirk, which melted into a warm smile as her eyes looked at something beyond Applejack. “And I never want to be away from him. Ever.” she looked away. “Thanks to him I was able to make it this far without despairing. I was able to face my family... and discover how much I had missed because I by being an obnoxious brat.”
The apple farmer took a deep breath. She had seen how much her brother cared for Trixie... and this... this mare standing in front of her was not the unicorn whom she had honestly hated. This Trixie was... likable. Genuine. And, if Applejack was any judge of character, being completely honest.
“Ah can tell mah brother loves you, Trixie,” she said eventually, “'For the life of me, ah couldn't figure out why... ’Til now.” She leaned a bit more against the unicorn sisterly fashion. “Ah can't rightly say that I think things will work out or that we’ll even survive this... but fer now, and as long as ya don't raise yer hoof or magic against mah kin... ah welcome you to th' Apple family.”
Trixie stopped and stared at the orange mare, eyes shining hopefully, and, yet, part of her was a bit reserved, looking at the apple farmer to see if this was any sort of joke.
Applejack smiled through the scrutiny and had to hold back her own tears when the showmare choked on a laugh, her eyes becoming watery. “Thank you, Applejack.”
“Call me AJ, sugarcube. All my friends do.” The orange-coated mare smiled. “Now, come on. We need to find the others.”
They walked in silence for a time, eyes searching for any clue as to the whereabouts of their friends. Trixie noticed that the apple farmer had a distant look in her eyes.
“Something bothering you... AJ?”
The orange mare started, then looked at the blue unicorn. “Ah...” she sighed, “Ah'm just comin' to grips with everythin' that's been happening.”
“You mean the Guardian?”
“Everythin'!” Applejack exclaimed. “The Guardian ah can deal with. It's just a Big Nasty, but we've taken down nasties before. He’s just a mite bigger than the usual...” The earth pony shook her head. “No, it's everythin' else that's botherin' me. Twilight died an' came back t' life... an’ now she's Princess Celestia's daughter!” She chuckled. “Ah always did think that that mare was actin' like a filly tryin' to impress her mama every time she panicked ‘bout the Princess visitin' or when she was late with a report.” She shook her head. “It's a bit much tah take... one of mah closest friends was forced away from her mother an', when they were together, neither of them knew...”
Trixie was silent for a moment. “I saw what happened... how much Celestia hated doing what she had to to protect Twilight,” she sighed. “I never really understood the value of family until... well, until I died. Before that it was all about myself, my dreams, how far I would get doing what I wanted. I left my parents behind after a nasty fight with my dad... I just concentrated on being ‘The Great and Powerful Trixie.’” She sighed. “I never imagined the pain my family went through after I left, or how worried they were for me...” Her eyes teared up a bit. “I never knew until they could no longer see me, or touch me, or hear me, that I had a sister, and that I was her hero.” She sighed. “It is ironic that the worst had to happen for me to be the happiest I have ever been in my life.” Her eyes sought out Applejack's. “I know that Twilight must be hurting horribly from her parents' death. And she must be confused and scared regarding what will happen to her now... but I can hope that she will get some respite with the good things that have come out of this.”
Applejack smiled sadly and nodded. “Ah hear ya.” She looked up and her eyes widened in fear. “Sugarcube, we have to hide! It's one of ‘em alicorns!”
Trixie blinked and looked around wildly. “There!” She pointed to an open doorway. “Hurry!”
Both mares galloped as quickly as they could, the earth pony wincing every time her forehoof made contact with the the street as pain shot through her bandaged shoulder. They dove through the doorway just as the alicorn turned their way. The pair did their best to hide under a large dinner table, barely registering that they had run into a restaurant. They didn't even dare to breathe, looking at the doorway and expecting to see a resurrected goddess step into the building, hunting after them. After a tense moment with nothing happening, they exhaled in relief.
That is, until the wall was blown apart, revealing amongst the falling debris the form of an amber red alicorn, eyes glowing with malice.
A vicious and twisted smile spread across Fall's face as she looked at the two ponies.
“You two are so dead.”
Gilda shifted uncomfortably on the floor, keeping an eye on the still unconscious pegasus. Rainbow Dash was showing no sign of recovery and it was starting to worry the griffon.
“Just how long are you going to be out, Dash?” she asked after several minutes of waiting. “Don't quit on me now, you dork! It's the worst possible time!”
She sighed, looking out the window at the desolate streets. At least there had been no sign of the alicorn for a little while now.
She glanced down at the pegasus. “So...” she looked away. “What you told me earlier... sisters, huh?” A self-depreciating chuckle escaped her beak. “When you told me that... it was weird. I felt kinda happy, but it also...” The griffon flexed her talons idly, still not looking down at the pegasus. “I thought it was obvious... and I thought... maybe...” Gilda shook her head. “Not that it’s bad, being your sister. Or rather being thought of as your sister...” she smiled. “You would have made an awesome griffon, Dash. It would have been easier for us to be sisters then. Clan sisters, at least... It's still possible to be blood sisters. You've certainly proved yourself a true warrior today...” She shook her head.
When she heard the explosion and felt the ground trembling slightly, Gilda jumped to her feet. She watched the windows shake as a shiver ran down her back.
“Guess the party's started,” she said, looking out at the city. She could see a cloud of dust rising from the west. “It's pretty close.”
A shuffling behind her made her turn around. Golden eyes met rose-colored eyes as Rainbow Dash looked up at her silently.
“Dash!” Gilda quickly made her way back to the pegasus. “You're okay!” She hugged the filly tightly. “Don't ever scare me like that again!”
“Hey, Gilda...” Rainbow Dash grinned. “I'm just glad I managed to save your hide.”
The griffon snorted. “I could have handled it myself.”
“Yeah, right.” Dash chuckled.
“I'm... I'm just glad you're alive.” Gilda said nonchalantly, her eyes betraying her worry.
“Hey, I'm okay...” the pegasus said, weakly punching Gilda's arm with her hoof. “I just can't get up. Or fly... or laugh... probably.”
Gilda blinked. “How do you know you can't laugh?”
"I just have a feeling that'd really hurt... feels like somepony stuck a lamppost through my chest," the pegasus confessed.
There was a moment of silence as both stared at each other. Then both started talking at the same time.
There was an awkward pause. The griffon motioned for the pegasus to speak first.
As Rainbow Dash was about to speak, another explosion shook the windows. “The hay was that?!” the pegasus squeaked.
“Damn! Forgot about that,” Gilda muttered. “Dash, when we those shadow monsters and brought down Nightmare Flare, this huge thing called the Guardian appeared and sent everyone flying in different directions. I think that's some of your friends fighting the alicorns right now!”
“Wait, they’re fighting the princesses now?”
“No! The Guardian made four alicorns!”
“He did?! He can do that?!”
“Yeah!” the griffon said. “Listen, I managed to hide us earlier, but I think they are hunting us now!”
“We gotta go help them!” Rainbow Dash yelled out as she struggled to to her hooves, legs trembling as she hobbled a step before subsequently collapsing back down to the floor. “Damn it!”
“Dash...” Gilda placed a talon on the pegasus back, keeping her from getting up again. “You rest. I'll help your friends.”
“No way! They need me!” Rainbow Dash said, struggling against the weight of Gilda’s talon.
“Dash, I will make sure they are okay. “Gilda shook her head. “You can’t even lift my claw. Please, trust me.”
The rose-colored eyes met Gilda’s golden ones and slowly gratitude settled in. “Thank you...”
"You just wait here while I go save your lame-o pony friends from certain doom," she quipped. "You ain't gonna do me any good rushing it and getting yourself hurt more."
Rainbow Dash chuckled weakly. “I'll be there in ten seconds flat. Just you wait.”
“I'll be counting,” the griffon replied, smiling as she made her way to the door.
Rainbow looked at the griffon in the eye. “I... know that a 'sister' isn’t exactly what you wanted...”
“No,” the pegasus interrupted. “Let me finish, Gilda. I... I was awake for a while... I heard what you said.”
“Oh...” The griffon looked down at the floor.
“I feel like an idiot for not noticing...” Dash sighed. “And I regret now that we never talked about it... I... just lost somepony I probably never really had recently, so I dunno if I feel differently about you, knowing how you feel about me... but I’d like to maybe find out.”
The griffon's eyes widened. “Do you mean...”
“I mean you'd better stay in one piece until I get there to save your tail feathers again. Then we can figure all this out,” Rainbow Dash said tiredly. “I can't promise anything, but... I think we have a lot to talk about.”
Gilda's eyes slowly warmed as she nodded. “Fine. I'll see you soon then. Don't leave me hangin’!”
“Hey!” Dash shouted as Gilda jumped into the air. “That's my line!”
Scootaloo flapped her tiny wings as hard as she could. She had managed to grab onto Sweetie Belle, who had grabbed onto Apple Bloom, who had grabbed onto Daisy Sprout. She had then tried to keep them aloft, but the combined weight was far too much for her still developing wings; she could hardly manage to keep herself afloat, much less the combined weight of four fillies.
Close by, she could see Misty struggling to right herself as she tumbled through the air. The force of the throw had slowly receded and both pegasi had been able to at least think coherently enough to attempt rescuing the others.
Below them she could see a street lined with stores and cafes. It promised to be a very painful landing..
Scootaloo suddenly landed on Misty’s back as the pegasus flew under her taking the weight of the other fillies of off her, before passing under the other crusaders and Daisy Sprout, managing to catch them all. The others were still too scared to do or say anything, but Scootaloo’s gaze quickly turned to Jade and Cinnamon.
Jade's horn lit up and several decorative banners, table cloths and tarps were ripped from their homes, stretching in front of her and Cinnamon, each absorbing some of the momentum as the pair hit one after the other, ripping through the fabric until both landed heavily, alive and uninjured, on the street.
“That was some quick thinking!” Misty shouted as she landed next to the recuperating unicorns before letting the fillies slide off her back to stand on their own hooves.
“Mom!” Daisy Sprout shouted, running into Cinnamon’s waiting embrace.
“Jade!” Sweetie was soon to follow, tackling the assassin to the ground.
Misty blinked, while Scootaloo and Apple Bloom stood next to her. “She knows the assassin?”
“Assassin?!” Cinnamon squeaked in horror, flipping around her embrace to stand protectively in front of Daisy Sprout.
“I think we do too...” the younger pegasus frowned, looking at the white unicorn with an inquisitive stare. “I know her voice from somewhere.”
Apple Bloom nodded. “Yeah, me too!”
Jade looked at both of them, her blue eyes measuring. “I'd rather you not say anything until this is all over.”
“What’s the plan, Jade?” Misty asked after a moment.
“I don’t know,” the unicorn replied, looking around at the stores. “I can get us back to the plaza but...” she paused to look at the fillies and at the trembling Cinnamon, “I’m not sure that’s the safest place for all of you to be.”
“My husband is there...” Cinnamon said, her voice a bit shaky. “I don’t think I could stay behind.”
“And we came all the way here to find you and the others!” Scootaloo added.
“Ah can’t stay here!” Apple Bloom exclaimed nervously, “Ah need to know find out where mah sister and brother are!”
“You might not get that chance,” a voice said, drawing the groups attention to the air, where a white alicorn, covered in a frosty sheen, hovered silently, looking down at them. “If you have something to say, it might be best if you do it now, while you can.”
A collective shiver ran down the spines of all present.
Winter's eyes never wavered, her tone never turned angry. She seemed, if anything, indifferent towards them. But there was something about the intensity of her gaze that put everypony on edge.
“Come to do the Guardian’s bidding?” Jade asked, eyebrow arching.
“I am here of my own accord, I assure you,” the alicorn replied. “As for the Guardian... our interests have coalesced in this instance.”
“It’s not as if he couldn’t erase you at a moments notice,” Misty quipped from where she stood next to Cinnamon, Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Daisy Sprout, the flier placing herself between the alicorn and the rest.
Winter leveled a look at her. “It doesn’t matter as long as I do what I want.”
“Sweetie, go stand with Cinnamon and the others,” Jade said, taking a couple of steps forward. She was soon joined by Misty, who stood at attention next to her. The assassin didn't look at the pegasus, keeping her eyes focused on the alicorn before them. “Are you in fighting condition?”
“I'm well enough,” the pegasus replied eyeing the alicorn angrily. “I have a lot of frustrations to work out anyways... besides, can't just let you go it alone.”
The unicorn nodded, her eyes not leaving the alicorn as she slowly landed a few feet in front of them. The tension grew as the pair faced Winter. “There are ways to kill an alicorn,” Jade whispered to Misty, who looked at her with a bit of trepidation. “But none of them are easy or even a guarantee... let’s hope some of my tricks work.”
“Things have changed indeed, if a pegasus and a unicorn think they can stand up to my power all alone,” the alicorn noted. “If you lay down and surrender, I will quickly freeze you to death; it will be a most beautiful end.”
“Oh, please, like we would simply give up! We’re Wonder-” Misty coughed, looking down at the uniform then at the unicorn. “I mean, I’m a Shadowbolt and she’s an assassin, we don’t give up!”
Winter narrowed her eyes. “Shadowbolt? Never heard of them.”
“Ever hear of the Wonderbolts?” Misty ventured.
“Were they around over two thousand years ago?” the alicorn asked.
“Uh... no, I don’t think so...” the pegasus shifted. “I- I think we started roughly five hundred years ago?”
“Well then, I wasn’t around, was I?” Winter tilted her head, ice-blue mane leaving a trail of snow behind. “Why would I know of some relatively new group of pegasi?”
“Oh, um... sorry?” Misty shifted uncomfortably.
“Don’t be.” the alicorn assured her. “I was deep in slumber inside an infinite void where there was no heat, no sound or light... it was bliss.”
“Aha.” Misty slowly turned to look at the assassin with a worried expression. “Jade,” she whispered. “She’s buckin’ crazy! She’s freaking me out!”
“I know,” the unicorn whispered back.
“I grow tired of this,” the alicorn stretched her wings and looked down at them. “If you truly are to fight me we should get it out of the way,” Winter said.
“Don't let her cast anything too powerful,” Jade instructed in a whisper. “If she gathers power interrupt her, no matter what. Smaller spells we can dodge. We’re both fast enough.”
“Got it,” the pegasus whispered back.
The pair exploded into action, Misty taking to the air as Jade launched herself with incredible speed at the alicorn, her hidden blade springing from its sheath as she stabbed at the powerful creature's chest.
Winter did not move, but as soon as Jade was within striking distance, the unicorn felt a blast of cold smash against her. Gritting her teeth, she ignored the sudden pain in her muscles and lunged forth, until her blade clashed with an invisible shield. When frost started to immediately creep up her blade, Jade kicked back off the shield, rolling away and gasping for air, looking in horror from the sphere of almost invisible ice that encased the alicorn to the frozen blade on her hoof. It had been close.
Her eyes went to the pegasus as Misty performed a fiery stunt overhead, dragging flames behind her as she struck the shield herself. The pegasus screamed as her forehooves were suddenly encased in ice-crystals; it was only Jade's quick thinking that saved her, as she was grabbed by the unicorn’s magic and yanked away before the frost could reach her muscles.
Winter did not move to counter, she just looked at them. “Are you ready to surrender? You have no chance of defeating me.”
Jade gritted her teeth under her mask. “Her shield is too strong for me to breach on my own...” she muttered under her breath. “Misty, I have an idea...”
Winter watched silently as the two ponies whispered to each other. Her eyes turned to the other unicorn and the four fillies with her. “Will you surrender now and depart painlessly?” she asked of the group.
“You leave them alone!” Cinnamon shouted, stepping forward to shield the fillies. “We've done nothing to you!”
The alicorn ignored her, igniting her horn as she formed a large icicle just above her floating form before flinging the icy spire at the mare. Cinnamon's eyes widened as the ice speared towards them at an incredible speed. She barely managed to shout in horror before the spear smashed into a shield spell right in front of them.
“How?? Winter blinked, feeling like she had missed something. A sudden widening of the eyes of her targets alerted her to an impending attack.
With a flash, several icy spears shot towards Jade who weaved through them, easily pulling her hoof back, the metal of the blade flashing as the unicorn stabbed forth.
Again the tip barely got to within few inches away from the alicorn before it suddenly stopped as it encountered the shield. The tip sunk into it, but both mares knew that Jade did not have the strength to push it through
That was when the Pegasus flew into them, tackling the unicorn forward. The blade broke through as the unexpected force broke the alicorn's concentration and it connected, although at an awkward angle, the sharp tip tracing a bright red arc over Winter's chest as the white alicorn staggered back in surprise.
“What?!” Her eyes flashed as her face contorted in anger. “How dare you touch a goddess?!”
With a sudden burst of power both, Jade and Misty were in the telekinetic clutch of the now enraged alicorn. With an angry shout, Winter threw Jade aside, flinging her straight at a jewelry store. The unicorn smashed through a window and into several counters inside, smashing into them painfully as the glass cut into her flank. She crashed against the far wall of the store, where another, larger counter collapsed on top of her.
The alicorn then turned towards Misty and with a flash of her horn started using her to bat objects out of the street. Trash cans, tables, windows, the pegasus body was used to break or smash anything the alicorn set her eyes on. Winter laughed malevolently at the cries of pain from the pegasus.
Misty felt bones snap as her jaw smashed against something. She could feel it break, darkness swimming before her eyes. Winter continued to pummel her against any surface that looked solid enough, but every time she faded out, a jolt would wake her up to the pain.
“Oh, you are not escaping this particular experience, little pegasus,” Winter growled, “I’m still punishing you.”
As if to prove her point, she slammed the pegasus hard against a wall, holding her there and putting more and more pressure on her.
“You made a mistake, challenging me,” Winter said, her eyes fixated on the former Wonderbolt. “Had you accepted your fate, you would have been resting now instead of suffering.”
Shaking her head, she flung the pegasus like a rag doll towards the remaining ponies. Misty's body flopped limply as it rolled to a stop at Cinnamon's feet. The unicorn mare recoiled in horror.
“And now...” the corrupted alicorn grinned, “To finish this task...” her head lowered as her eyes took in each of them. “This brings back memories... during the cold nights of winter, I would entice young fillies and colts to seek adventure... they would walk through the snow as I slowly made the world around them colder and colder until they would close their eyes...” Winter chuckled. “A slow and painless death that will be denied to you, but I will make sure you beautiful creatures never decay...”
Trixie and Applejack rounded another corner at a mad gallop, the showmare losing her balance in the sharp turn. She smashed painfully into a wall before forcing herself to catch up with the injured apple farmer.
A second later the same corner exploded into pieces, courtesy of a magical blast of energy from a madly cackling red alicorn.
“Come on! Come on!” Fall shouted after them. “Why the panic? Why run? You know there's no way of saving your sorry asses other than fighting!”
“Trixie loathes the way the obnoxious alicorn speaks,” the showmare muttered through clenched teeth, following Applejack around another building and into an alley.
“Never mind her!” the earth pony gasped, wincing. Each time her hoof struck the ground, burning pinpricks of pain shot through her body. “Jus’ focus on running!”
It was then that the wall to their right exploded as the aforementioned alicorn burst through it just in front of them.
“Peek-a-booo! I see you!” she laughed gleefully. The two mares stumbled in surprise and fell face first to the ground. “BwhaHAHA!” Fall cheerfully shook out her mane, scattering bits of rock and debris all around her. “Fantastic! You two are my bitches now!”
“What is she talking about?” Trixie growled. “We are ponies, not dogs!”
“Or wolves!” Applejack added.
“Trixie hates wolves!” the showmare said, looking truly offended. She narrowed her eyes at Fall. “Are you calling The Great and Powerful Trixie a wolf?”
Fall stopped laughing and simply stared at them, dumbfounded. “Insults must have changed a lot since I was last here...” she murmured. “Well, no matter! You're my bitches now, because I say so!”
“No. Trixie refuses to be a dog or wolf or anything canine,” Trixie declared, her hoof striking the ground in anger. “And Trixie is also tired of running away from the obnoxious alicorn!”
“Oh?” Fall's grin grew. “And whatcha gonna do about it... bitch?”
Trixie opened her mouth to answer when a gargoyle statue twice the size of a pony crushed the alicorn.
“Wow.” Applejack coughed as she slowly and painfully stood up. “Ah didn't know you had it in you, sugarcube.”
“Trixie... didn't...” she looked up as a griffon swooped down from the tall building where other gargoyles decorated the rooftop.
“Ah, I do so love Gothic architecture.” Gilda said as she landed next to the two ponies. “Lots of statues to toss about.”
“You... You're Gilda!” Applejack's eyes were wide. “Ah, saw you earlier, but I couldn't believe mah eyes!”
“That's right!” the griffon smirked. “And you owe me your ass.”
Applejack blinked. “No, I don't. He only works at the farm on Tuesdays, and I don't really own him...”
“I'm not talking about your bucking donkey!” Gilda smacked her face in frustration. “You know what, never mind. Let's get the hay out of here. You ponies have been too sheltered your whole lives.”
The two mares nodded. “Where are we going?” Trixie asked.
“To meet with Rainbow Dash, she's-”
Her words were drowned out when the floor exploded around her. With a painful shriek, she was slammed and held by invisible bonds against a wall.
Laughter filled the air as the dust settled and they could all see Fall floating over a hole in the ground. Her coat was ruffled and she had several scratches and a cut on her face. Blood poured out of the corner of her mouth.
“That was a nasty surprise,” she growled. “But now it's payback time, pussy cat.” Whatever was holding Gilda in place pushed her through the wall as Fall smirked.
Gilda glared at her as she slowly stood up from the debris. “Bring it on, bitch!”
“But she ain't a-”
“Shut up!” Both Gilda and Fall shouted, glaring at Applejack before turning their attention back to each other. With a leonine roar, the griffon slammed into the alicorn, both of them crashing painfully against the wall across the street.
“Time to teach you a lesson, pussy cat!” Fall shouted as her hoof sent Gilda tumbling back. “And before you die you will have it memorized! You. Do Not. Mess. With. Fall!”
Gilda's claws raked the alicorn's shoulder, forcing her equine opponent back a bit. “Two words, you pest: breath mints!”
“Trixie feels dirty just listening to those two,” the showmare confessed to the apple farmer as they watched the pair trade blows and insults.
They winced as Gilda was sent sprawling into the street. The red alicorn strode past them without even looking at them. “Have you memorized it yet?! You. Do Not. Mess. With. Fall!”
Gilda coughed up blood. The alicorn was hardly pulling her punches and in this fight. She knew this was a fight she couldn't win by simply punching back harder. Not that she actually could anyways.
Fall smirked as Gilda moved the fight into the air, her own wings batting down to send her up after the griffon.
“Trixie, we have to help her!” Applejack said worriedly. “She's tough, but she ain’t gonna last long against an alicorn!”
“Trixie knows!” the blue unicorn retorted, then took a deep breath. “Let me think...” Her eyes moved around the streets, searching for an idea or an inspiration. Finally they settled on something laying atop an abandoned food cart. “I... might have a plan.”
Above them, Gilda was desperately in need of a plan.
Although she was one of the best fliers around, griffon or pony, she was no match for the alicorn, who could simply stop the griffon in the middle of any maneuver, be she upright or upside down, and levitate there only to grab the griffon in a telekinetic hold for some punishment.
“Going somewhere?” Fall asked, grinning like a mad mare as Gilda struggled to free herself. “Have you learned your lesson yet? You. Do Not. Mess. With. Fall!”
Each word was punctuated by a hoof slamming into Gilda's forelegs, torso and shoulders, pain shooting from each cruel blow. She could feel how each of her bones were about to snap with each hit and realized that the alicorn was pulling her punches, after all.
Finally, she broke the hold, just as Fall's latest hit smashed into the back of her skull, and spiraled down, exhausted, to land in the middle of the street. The red alicorn looked upon her with a large smirk on her face.
Gilda spat blood and gingerly touched the many places in her body where the alicorn's hooves had impacted. “Damn it all...”
“Gilda!” Applejack called, running towards her with Trixie close behind. “We have a plan!”
“About bucking time...” The griffon shook her head as her vision grayed out for just a second, but she shook it off.
Applejack looked at her worriedly. “Hold on, sugarcube, if this works you can rest all you want...” she gave Gilda an apple. “All you have to do, is force her to eat this.”
The griffon shook her head dazedly and stared at the apple. “I- she must've hit my head harder than I thought... I could swear you just told me to feed her an apple.”
“That's the plan...” Applejack said, half-smiling, half-wincing. “Trust me. If you can do it, it'll work.”
“But you have to do it soon,” Trixie said. “Or-”
“Enough talking, you idiots!” Fall’s voice echoed in the street. Suddenly, in the middle of the group, a sphere of light materialized.
Trixie's eyes widened. “Everypony, run!”
Gilda reacted immediately, picking a pony in each arm, her wings propelling them out of the way just in time. The light exploded, pushing them all further into the air before landing heavily on the ground .
Trixie and Gilda looked at Applejack as the earth pony shouted in pain. Her shoulder wound had finally opened again and her leg hung uselessly at her side. She struggled, but couldn't get up at all.
“Are you coming up, kitty?” Fall taunted. “Or do I have to go get you?”
Gilda clutched the apple in her claws. Her eyes focusing on it while she did her best to ignore the pounding in her head.. “Are you sure this will work?” she asked Trixie.
The mare nodded.
“Good. If... if I don't make it and you do... tell Dash I'm sorry I broke my promise,” Gilda said as she jumped into the air once more. “I'm coming for you, you useless bag of manure!”
The alicorn grinned. “Give me your best shot!”
Gilda’s first swipe was vicious, her second less so. The alicorn didn't even bat her wings, she simply dodged out of the way each time the griffon tried to land a hit, until with a sigh, Fall took hold of Gilda's body with her magic.
“I'm getting tired of this, canary.” she said with a small frown. “It was fun while you were well enough to put up more of a fight but now...” Fall grinned as her magic broke one of Gilda's hind legs with a dull crack. The griffon howled in pain, barely able to hold on to the apple. The alicorn chuckled. “Now it's time to finish this shit so I can maim those two mares down there sufficiently before killing them. That was always the difference between Celestia and I!” she cried jovially, enjoying the pain she was causing as she snapped every bone in Gilda’s tail. “She was always a defender of life! Me? I don't give a damn!”
Gilda took an instinctual swipe at Fall's eyes, actually managing to scratch her face and forcing her head to the side. The red alicorn's eyes focused angrily on the griffon.
“Bad move, bitch!”
The alicorn's horn was glowing with angry red magic. Fall slammed the semi-conscious Gilda against a wall and dragged her along it with her magic, leaving a bloody smear behind her. The crazed Nightmare laughed as she used her bloodied opponent to paint a red line across the entirety the wall. Finally, she levitated the griffon up to eye level.
“You really should learn the difference between a fight you might win and a fight you can never even hope to put up,” the alicorn remarked as she floated the both of them higher up into the air. She leaned in until her muzzle was almost touching Gilda’s beak. “It would have made your short life much simpler. Do you want me to repeat the lesson that you should have learned or did you memorize it already?” She forced Gilda's look at her. “Well?!”
It was then that Gilda slammed her claw into the alicorn’s mouth, ramming the apple down Fall’s throat and leaving the Nightmare choking to death.“Yeah, yeah, same thing you've been blabbering about.” Gilda managed to growl, spitting more blood. She smiled at the alicorn. “But, you know what? I don't give a damn!” she shouted in the alicorn's face.
The alicorn struggled to get it out. What?! An apple... what the fuh-
Gilda watched in awe as she fell alongside alicorn chunks and the gargoyle statue that used to be the apple to the streets far bellow. “Cool...”
Her eyes closed and she felt everything go dark, missing the light blue aura that wrapped around her.
Cinnamon gulped and stepped in front of the fillies as they huddled together fearfully, watching as Winter conjured a frigid wind to sweep all around them. The unicorn gritted her teeth as she looked from the fallen form of Misty to the the broken window the assassin had been thrown through. There didn’t seem to be any way to escape, and rescue was unlikely.
She turned to face the alicorn, a resolute look in her face. She would do what she could to protect them.
“Girls...” she said softly, but loud enough to ensure they would hear. “When Winter and I start fighting, you have to run away, okay?”
“Mom...” Daisy Sprout looked fearfully from the alicorn to her mother.
Winter took a menacing step forward, but then stopped, startled, as a line of red appeared on her cheek. Blood began to drip from the paper thin cut.
She snapped around, dodging an almost invisible projectile that had been flying toward her eye. The object instead cut off a section of her mane, the clean cut lock floating to the ground.
Her eyes flashed back to look at the store into which she had thrown Jade, from where another miniature missile shot out.
This time the alicorn was ready, and the small object found a shield in its way... which didn’t stop it. Winter staggered back as her leg bled. “That’s impossible!”
“No, it isn’t,” a voice emerged from the destroyed shop, followed soon by a figure. “Shields are designed to stop many things, but there is a trick around them... Assassins have grown clever and bold over the years. I'm certain Celestia and Luna would know of this loophole... but you... you were not around to learn of it.”
Apple Bloom gasped. “Is that...” She stopped, gasping as she and the others watched as hundreds of gems seemed to levitate out of the store and chain together, snapping and crisscrossing around the unicorn as she stepped out from the broken window.
The assassin’s black outfit was tattered, her fur matted with blood; her knife holster had been torn cleanly from her foreleg and the left half her mask was missing, the rest dangling loosely beside her chin.
“Sis...” Sweetie whispered.
“If you think fancy gem tricks will be enough to defeat me, you’ll find you’re sorely mistaken,” Winter warned, although her voice trembled.
“Oh,” Rarity smiled, moving her green-dyed mane away from her face with a hoof, “These are not tricks... there are many ways to kill an alicorn, just not many ponies who know how. And you are a lot less experienced in fighting assassins than Celestia or Luna, not to mention weaker than either...”
Like a whip, the gems snapped out, arching in a glittering curve of death. They cut through Winter’s shield like butter, slicing into the alicorn’s side. She tried to jump out of the way, but one of her hooves was stuck in a crack on the floor. A tingling sensation on the back of her neck made her shudder as she pulled herself free.
She jumped to the side as the left gem-whip snapped the area where she had just been, cracking the floor with the force behind it.
Her wings batted down, trying to lift her up. However, Rarity’s right whip lashed out, wrapping around the alicorn’s left wing, digging into it painfully. The left whip smacked her on the back and withers, leaving bloody trails where they struck.
The alicorn blasted Rarity back with cold air, which sealed the ground around the fashionista in ice. The assassin would have surely frozen to death had somepony’s warming spell not saved her.
“What?!” Winter was about to turn around to search for the unicorn responsible for foiling her when one of the whips wrapped tight around her neck, digging into her coat and muscle with a sharp pull from Rarity’s magic.
A blast of power sent the gems flying, only to come back together at the white unicorn’s call. Winter jumped, and as she fell back, conjured a miniature blizzard which whipped around Rarity, the sleet and winds both cutting her and breaking her concentration.
Winter again had the feeling that something was not right, but she ignored it, concentrating on the deadly unicorn before her. Angrily stomping a hoof on the ground, she sent a freezing wave of water and ice towards the assassin.
Instead of retreating, as her numerous opponents in the past had, the white unicorn galloped towards the ice and jumped up at the last second, letting the icy water pass bellow her, freezing everything. Landing on the ice with more grace than the alicorn expected, the assassin slid forward towards her, both whips lashing out in complicated patterns.
“How are you able to do that?” the alicorn demanded.
Rarity smirked as one of her whips drew blood on the furious alicorn with a painful sounding snap. “We’ve been wrapping up winter without you for many generations! It’s practically a celebration these days!”
Winter recoiled, the words stinging her pride. “You believe you can wrap up MY winter? You foal!” The alicorn jumped into the air, barely avoiding Rarity’s whips as they smashed into the ground. “Don’t you dare make little of me!”
A cold blizzard whipped around Rarity, pushing her back. Although the assassin could feel somepony’s magic trying to keep her warm, she couldn’t stop shuddering as the winds pressed her back.
“I am Winter, I revel in the freezing air devoid of warmth!” the alicorn shouted in anger. “I will seep the heat out of your body until even the marrow in your bones is completely frozen!”
And, for the first time, Rarity truly believed it. Her concentration broke as she sought to warm herself with her magic. The gems clattered to the ice-covered floor as the assassin found her attempts to keep herself from freezing almost completely useless.
Nightmare Winter grinned manically, her calm facade completely gone. “Feel the cold sap away your will to live! Die knowing the folly it is to challenge a goddess!”
Rarity gasped, falling to her knees, her breath clearly visible as it was swept away by the freezing wind.
She could hear Sweetie and the others shouting her name in horror, but there was little she could do... her eyes felt heavy...
Winter started laughing as she saw the assassin start to give up. “Die you little upstart! I’ll-”
She was interrupted as something slammed into her back, and smashed her into the ground face first, horn scraping painfully on the concrete at the side of the street. Batting the weight off of her with her wing, she turned around, spitting out a tooth to look at her attacker.
“Impossible!” she shouted as her eyes grew wide.
Misty panted painfully, her body covered in blood and bruises, but very much still alive and standing if only barely.
“I broke each of your bones!” the alicorn struggled to get up. “How did you?!” her eyes darted to the small group of fillies and the one adult unicorn. “You!? But how?”
She felt a shiver as she saw the eyes of the ponies widen in surprise and horror, most of the group turned away in anticipation. Winter snapped her head around at that, just in time to see Rarity’s hoof, enveloped in a glowing, gem-made dagger, plunge into her chest and through her heart.
Rarity stared into Winter’s eyes as the shock and anger slowly faded, leaving behind sad ice-blue eyes.
“Thank you...” Winter whispered to the unicorn as polluted energy seemed to evaporate around her and her body returned to its original shape. “It- it’s good to see you little ponies have come so far without us...” she coughed and looked at the assassin with hard eyes. “Bring that bastard down...”
Rarity nodded slowly. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be... my time has been done for a while... finish it.” Winter closed her eyes as her horn flashed.
The assassin hesitated before closing her eyes. Her horn lit anew with magic as the gems embedded inside the alicorn tore through her in all directions. What was left of Winter’s body fell to the floor before Rarity’s hooves.
Misty’s breathing slowed as Cinnamon ran up to her, horn alight as she cast a simple healing spell.
Rarity sighed, her hoof going into a small pocket in her uniform that had somehow survived Winter’s attacks. Pulling out a small purple sphere. The small object glowed in time with the unicorn’s magic, and slowly began changing color into jade-green as Rarity’s hair shifted back her usual purple hue. As she dismissed the spell that kept her hair green, she slumped down, with a sigh.
She was suddenly mobbed by Sweetie, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom. The latter two were crying in both horror and relief.
“Sis! Are you okay?!” she heard Sweetie ask as she hugged the fillies back.
“For now, Sweetie... we’re okay,” she whispered, closing her eyes as the fillies cried into her coat and mane. Something cold landed on her nose and she opened her eyes. Small specks of white fluffy snow fell all around them as the remains of Winter slowly dispersed into the wind.
“That... that was horrible...” Scootaloo said, barely able to stop shaking. “And... gory...”
“How did you do that?!” Sweetie asked in awe. “I didn’t think anything could break an alicorn shield!”
Rarity gave her sister and odd look. “If you infuse the gems with an air-vacuum spell, it activates on touching the shield and sucks the magic into the gem... in other words, you send it through the shield, but you are not breaking it, really.”
“Did mah sister know who you were all this time?” Apple Bloom asked.
“Not until very recently,” the unicorn chuckled as she stood and looked at Misty, who was struggling to also stand. Cinnamon and Daisy Sprout were helping the pegasus as best they could, but the injuries were still fresh and she could hardly keep her balance.
“We have to go back... the others might be fighting these monsters too... and the Princesses will be fighting the Guardian,” the fashion designer/assassin said after giving them a moment to collect themselves.
The former Wonderbolt nodded, her legs shaky, but her eyes steady. Cinnamon however, looked a bit dubious. “But what about...” she motioned towards the fillies.
Rarity cringed, but sighed. “They have to come with us... at least to the plaza... while we were in the air I managed to look around a little, everything here is surrounded by the Guardian’s magic... I doubt they could make it out even if they reached the edge.”
“But...” Cinnamon shifted uncomfortably; she was a mother, not a warrior. “The Guardian...”
“I know,” Rarity sighed. “I don’t want to bring them but... can’t you feel it? Whatever the Guardian did to Canterlot, it wasn’t just to make it look abandoned and decrepit. There’s something lurking here... it feels as if the city itself is waiting to pounce on us.” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before looking back at the worried mother. “Cinnamon, I’d rather Sweetie and the others were near us just in case.”
The mare looked down at her daughter.
“Mom... Trixie will be there,” Daisy Sprout said. “She’ll protect us.”
Releasing a long breath, Cinnamon nodded slowly, with a tiny smile. “Let’s go find your sister.”
Rarity nodded. “This way, we’ll cut through Old Town.”
Rainbow Dash slowly stood up. Her whole body ached, and she couldn’t help but wonder if she had broken anything.
Taking a deep breath, the cyan pegasus slowly walked towards the door. Although she needed the rest, the urgency of her friend’s need and the fact that the silence was starting to freak her out, were good enough excuses to get her going. Each step, although painful, was in itself a relief. She could still walk and as soon as she got out of the building she would feel much better. She looked back at the desks. The shadows stretched away from them, in the same position they had been before. However, she couldn’t shake the feeling that they were somehow creeping up on her.
She nudged the double glass doors open with her head and sighed. The street was a bit better than the inside of the building but not by much. The shadows still made her feel leery and the air seemed thick with anticipation. For what, she could not tell, but it made her feathers fluff nervously.
The voices startled her. Rainbow Dash quickly turned around, immediately recognizing Applejack’s voice. The sight that greeted her was unexpected. Trixie was pulling a cart down the street. Inside it, Applejack was focused on holding something with her hooves.
“Careful, Trixie! She ain’t doing so well!”
“Trixie- I know!” the showmare replied. “I’m trying to keep it steady but it is a cobblestone street! It is bumpy by definition!” The unicorn looked up and locked eyes with Rainbow Dash. “We’ve found her!”
“Really?” Applejack looked up at Rainbow Dash. The earth pony felt a rush of joy to see her friend alive.
“Applejack!” the cyan pegasus started walking slowly towards them. “I’m glad to see you... I thought... Gilda went out to find you and-”
“She’s here, Dash...” Applejack interrupted, the thought of the griffon stealing the smile from her face.
Rainbow Dash felt her blood run cold at Applejack’s suddenly somber look. Almost forgetting just how much her body hurt, she galloped to the cart, running around it until she could see inside.
“Oh, Nightmare Moon help us...” Dash whispered in horror.
“Sh- shouldn’t that be, ‘Ce-Celestia’ help us?” Gilda hacked up blood, but somehow managed to smile.
“Gilda... what the hay did you do?!” the pegasus asked, carefully nuzzling the griffon.
Rainbow Dash immediately stopped nuzzling her. “Sorry...”
“Dash I-” Gilda coughed again, spitting more blood. “I- I’m glad that I got to see you once again...” she trailed off, her breathing sharp for a few seconds as she seemed to stare past the pegasus. With a slow shake of her head, she focused back on Rainbow Dash. “Dashie I... would be honored if you would... if you would...”
“Anything, Gilda...” The cyan mare carefully took Applejack’s place as the earth pony and the unicorn stepped away to give the pair room.
“... Dashie...” Gilda’s talon slowly came up until she was holding the pegasus’ front hoof.
Rainbow bit back a sob. The strain was evident in her friend’s body, she could barely feel any strength in the deadly talons. She was loosing her.
“Dashie...” Gilda repeated softly, her eyes warming as she looked up at the pegasus. “You’re beautiful... I- I want you to be my sister... that’s all we can be now, so close... now that I’m leaving you...”
“N-no!” The pegasus couldn’t hold back the tears this time. “I just got you back! It’s not fair!” She stopped when she noticed the griffon had closed her eyes. “Gilda! GILDA!”
Very slowly, weakly, the eyes slid open, only half focusing on Rainbow Dash. “... Geez, Dashie... you- you don’t have to be... so loud...”
“I’m sorry...” Dash slowly held the griffon tighter, but Gilda did not protest.
“Wha... was I sayin’?” Gilda asked, her head slowly leaned to the side, resting on Rainbow Dash’s chest.
“Y-you wanted m-me to be... your sister-” the pegasus managed to choke out.
“B-blood sisters.” Gilda said with a minuscule nod and a decisive smile. “I’ve plenty... of... of blood, y’see...”
Rainbow gritted her teeth as her friends’ words slurred. “I- yes... I can’t wait to see how the other one ended up...” the pegasus forced out the joke, knowing the griffon would appreciate it.
She wasn’t disappointed. “H-hah... yesh- yeah... well y’vta pick up her... pieces y’see she... exploded...”
Dash simply closed her eyes and nodded.
“Do you love me?”
“Be my sister then...”
“... it will be my honor.”
From a few feet away, Applejack and Trixie watched as Rainbow Dash used the Shadowbolt pin to slash her front leg and pressed it against an open wound in Gilda’s chest. The words they whispered were too quiet for them to hear, but they could see Rainbow Dash listening carefully and nodding from time to time, answering twice, always staring directly into the griffon’s eyes. Finally, she separated the open wounds and gathered her broken sister into her forelegs. It took them a moment to realize that only Rainbow Dash was moving at all, her body shaking violently.
They walked up to them until they stood silently behind the pair. Rainbow Dash leaned against the side of the cart, eyes closed tight, teeth clenched as her hooves held Gilda’s body against her; the griffon’s head resting back on the pegasus’ shoulder.
They didn’t say anything.
Rainbow Dash cried..
A/N: I would really like to thank my many friends who helped me write this chapter and continue to support me. And I say friends because calling them mere ‘editors’ doesn’t do them justice... so, UnderstatedHyperbole, Fifth Alicorn, Stephen Cawking, Magical Trevor, Orpheus, NAGU360, Dragryphon... thank you all for your constant help and patience!
And also thank you, readers for your patience and support too! I hope you enjoyed the new chapter!