It was dawn.
The Elements of Harmony were at the edge of the barrier. The edge of safety; the edge of civilized life. The edge of the place they needed to protect.
We’re going straight into the heart of evil in order to stop it in its tracks, Twilight thought as she looked at her small strike force. You’d think there’d be applause, or ponies begging us to stay. But everypony is asleep. A quiet morning with a quiet departure.
“Are you absolutely sure you want to make this journey?” Rarity asked Sweetie Belle.
“Positive,” Sweetie Belle affirmed. “If you get hurt, who’s going to help you?”
“I just don’t want you to get into trouble; you’re so much safer here. Please, stay in Fillydelphia,” Rarity begged.
“No,” Sweetie Belle said forcefully. “I’m going, and that’s final. Sorry, Rarity, but I want to save Scootaloo and Apple Bloom.”
Rarity sighed and turned away. She still doesn’t believe Apple Bloom is dead. Oh, poor Sweetie Belle.
Pinkie walked over to Olly. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Butterflies?”
“Um, no, more like writhing snakes,” Olly chuckled nervously. “Still, I’m glad to be a help, and besides, Envy still owes me one memory, and I’m determined to collect.”
“I guess we set off now,” Luna said excitedly. She was antsy from anticipation, and it showed in the way she hurriedly rushed from place to place.
“Can’t you just, y’know, teleport us there?” Dash asked.
Luna shook her head. “No. Magical flow can be interrupted, and it doesn’t function very well around evil energy. However, it shouldn’t prove to be a problem because our journey is relatively short.”
Dash nodded, and without fanfare, without celebration, the Elements of Harmony left on their conquest.
Soon enough, they landed at their first checkpoint, Stalliongrad. However, they spent much more time there than they originally intended for one reason and one reason alone.
Stalliongrad was a boneyard. Bleached skeletons, all of them about three years old, littered the streets and pavement of what had been the third-biggest city in Equestria, next to Fillydelphia and Canterlot. But what was most horrifying was their number; they were literally everywhere. They were lying in the streets, sitting on benches, and even strewn among the trees. Thousands of skeletons for thousands of ponies.
Fluttershy stared down at the city, having glided high above the group to look for danger. This is unspeakable, she thought, her jaw slack. Why? Her necklace was a dull shade of copper.
The grounded Elements were in utter shock and dismay at the entire situation.
“All these ponies,” Applejack breathed. “Ah can’t… Ah can’t even understand…”
Twilight stared at one particular skeleton. It was only the front half of a pony, lying right up against a building. She looked up and jumped back in shock. The back half of the pony was at the top of a skyscraper, hanging perilously off the edge. It must have been cut in half!
Pinkie’s energy flared. Should I be angry? Or sad? Eventually she settled, and stared blankly at the carnage, her mind losing all capabilities of thought.
Olly stared at the carnage blankly. “An entire city turned into a graveyard just like that,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. That I remember, at least, but still.”
Luna sat down near the center of the city by a skeleton of a filly, and did something nopony would ever expect her to do. She began to cry.
“This was the first city hit by the Daymare,” she said, tears falling down her face. “Arrogance’s power combined with Celestia’s. The strength of such a villain is unfathomable. Never before has Discord killed so many ponies so quickly.”
Dash’s mane ignited in anger. “That monster,” she growled. “She did this! All of it! When I get my hooves on her I’m going to tear her to shreds!”
“The Rule of Evil,” Twilight murmured, reciting an article of scripture that was particularly memorable to her. “A heart so black crows cannot caw, a soul that disregards the law, a void that swallows all in its maw. A being that has no moral bounds, a demon that makes its dreadful rounds, a spirit that is neither lost nor found.” She shuddered slightly. That poem’s given me nightmares even as an adult.
“A God from whom you can’t forefend, a beast which good can never mend, an essence that begins again,” another voice said.
Twilight and the others whipped around to see Lyvia sitting on top of a two-story building.
“You know your poetry,” the mercenary observed.
“Why have you come here?” Luna asked menacingly.
“I’m here to deliver a message,” Lyvia said. “Not usually my job, but…”
“Say it and leave,” Twilight commanded.
“Okay, miss bossy-hooves,” Lyvia snickered. “Scootaloo is still alive and well. However, if you come to Canterlot and attack…” she shrugged. “That may change for the worse.”
“Coward!” Dash said. “If you want a fight, you’re asking for one.”
“I dare you,” Lyvia laughed.
Happy to oblige, Dash ignited her wings and leapt at her adversary. However, the battle was over so quickly that none of the others had time to help her.
It seemed like it was happening in slow-motion. Lyvia leaped off the rooftop and cut Dash just below the neck, then did a backflip to kick her up into the air. Finally, she flew up and did a frontflip, kicking the dazed Dash down into the pavement.
Laughing while Dash’s friends went over to help her, Lyvia hovered above the group. “Man, I knew you were weak without an entire city backing you, but come on. Toodles, and good luck putting the last nail in your coffins.”
Lyvia flew off.
Scootaloo examined her cell. It was early morning, and the sun just barely creaked in through the dingy window opposite of Scootaloo. It was nearly pitch-black, but gradually brightening. Scootaloo couldn’t sleep, so she was scanning her cell for signs of weakness. She didn’t expect to find anything, but she didn’t have anything better to do.
Saphira was probably still asleep, so now would be the best time to make an escape. The orange pegasus spotted a rusty hinge on the cage, and she kicked it. To her surprise, it made a dent.
Can I really...? Scootaloo paused. She backed up, took a running start, and slammed on the cage. The front bars snapped off and fell to the floor with a loud clang.
Scootaloo stepped out of her cell. This... This is really lucky. I have to get out of this castle, pronto.
Silently sneaking out of the jail, Scootaloo ducked behind cover every chance she got and looked left and right for signs of danger. The ruins showed obvious signs of dust and age because nopony had walked the corridors for a long while, and the Daymare didn’t care about the cleanliness of any part of the city except for her throne room.
So, as it were, the hedges had either outgrown their surroundings or were strangled by the vines that turned the entire royal garden, and the great majority of the city and castle, into a mesh of organic wiring. Any stone that hadn’t turned to dust and blown away in the wind had to have been magically enhanced, which led to the walls and ceiling of city buildings being perfectly fine, but the stone floors were cracked and fading into dust and dirt. Any artistic integrity the city used to possess was nonexistent now.
Scootaloo quickly made it to the edge of the castle before bumping into Saphira. She stared in fright at her, and the blue earth pony returned the frightened gaze.
“Wh-What are y-you d-doing here?!” Saphira hissed.
“Escaping!” Scootaloo retorted, looking behind herself to make sure nopony was sneaking up on them. Quietly, she said, “Don’t get in my way!”
“If they f-find you, th-th-they’ll....” Saphira stuttered, unable to form the necessary words.
“I don’t care; anywhere’s better than here!” Scootaloo said, taking wing and beginning to fly off.
“Wait!” Saphira yelled.
Scootaloo cringed, but stopped. “Not so loud!”
“Sorry, but if you take to air, th-they’ll find you for sure!” Saphira said. “I kn-know the city; you have to follow me.”
“You honestly expect me to trust you?” Scootaloo scoffed.
“I-If you don’t, y-you’ll be executed, or worse, added to the D-Dreamscape,” Saphira explained urgently, forcing herself to speak. “P-Please, take me with you. If you th-think you can escape, then m-maybe I can, too.”
Scootaloo examined her options. She’s right; I really have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going, but if I follow her, I’m leaving myself open to any trap they might have planned. “Fine,” she finally decided, “but you follow me.”
“I’m afraid there will not be any following of any sort,” another voice said.
“E-Envy!” Saphira shrieked. “I-I-I-”
“Save it,” Envy sneered, dark energy beginning to swirl around the Daymare’s assistant. “I harbor neither traitors nor fugitives. Prepare to die.”
“C’mon!” Scootaloo yelled, grabbing Saphira and taking off down the street, heading for the edge of the city. Saphira rapidly picked up the pace and they weaved through the ruins on hoof.
“Hmph. Run all you want, it can’t save you from your fate... as much as I hate to admit it,” Envy muttered, summoning Trixie with powerful magic. “They’re spirited young mares, aren’t they, hmm?” She glanced back at the blue unicorn. “Would you kindly put them to sleep for me, Trixie?”
Trixie nodded sadly. Her chains began to vibrate as they extended and sapped her life force. Trixie paled and grunted in pain as the chains began to seek out their targets.
A chain soared over Saphira’s head and she yelped as it almost impaled her. Instead, it sunk itself two meters into the ground.
Scootaloo had to land, otherwise the chains would have tangled her in midair. Panting, she narrowly dodged a few more chains that tried to trip her or turn her and Saphira into a kebab.
“We need to find cover!” Scootaloo yelled.
Saphira nodded. “O-Ov-Over-” she screamed as a chain cut her leg. Scootaloo ducked under another chain and quickly picked up Saphira, though she was significantly weighed down by the smaller earth pony.
“Hmm? They’re working together, are they?” Envy asked, overlooking the scene from a nearby building. She looked at the nearby Trixie, an evil grin plastered onto her face. “Stop this. I’ll take care of it from here.”
Trixie was surprised for a moment, but she nodded gratefully, and the chains gradually receded back into her ankles.
Noticing that the chains were gone, Scootaloo set Saphira down in an alleyway and wiped her brow. “Where’d they go?”
Saphira sniffled and wiped the blood off her leg. “We have to get to the edge of the city. Hurry!”
Envy warped to the exit of the alleyway, blocking their path. “Let’s make this interesting,” she smirked, her horn glowing.
Scootaloo felt the joints where her wings connected to her torso pop. When the orange pegasus tried to take to the air, she found herself grounded, unable to move her wings. She was more clever than Envy gave her credit for, however. Leaping up and grabbing a clothesline, she swung herself over her adversary. Saphira rapidly started to climb the building despite her wound, her joints seemingly nonexistent as she bounded up the sides of the buildings. It looked like she was made of rubber, but she took an ordinary gallop once she was at the top.
Envy laughed, turning to face the fleeing Scootaloo. “You’d better run,” she chuckled.
The edge of Canterlot was now in sight. Scootaloo ran up to the border, but slammed against an invisible wall, as did Saphira.
Scootaloo felt the shimmering barrier. “B-But... No!” she screamed. We were so close!
Envy ambled up behind them. “I suppose it would be a bad cliché to tell you to ‘say your prayers.’”
Scootaloo glanced at the panicking blue teen beside her. No... I’m not going to let another pony down! She grabbed Saphira and took off running.
“Oh, please,” Envy complained, rolling her eyes and stopping Scootaloo and Saphira in their tracks with a line of fire. “Accept your fate.”
“Never!” Scootaloo yelled. She turned around and tried to run the other direction, but with the exact same result.
“You just don’t know when to quit,” Envy laughed. “Please, continue. It’s amusing.”
Something inside Scootaloo burst. She plowed toward Envy and ducked at the last second, propelling herself forward. Envy was surprised, but not because Scootaloo had escaped. It was how Scootaloo escaped.
Scootaloo was skating along the ground as if it were an ice slick, with Saphira following close behind.
Envy raised an eyebrow, making no attempt to pursue them. “...Interesting. She may make a good host after all.”
Scootaloo hurriedly ducked into a building and hid Saphira and herself in a jar of a sticky substance.
A few minutes later, they heard hoofsteps. Scootaloo tried to make herself as small as possible while remaining silent inside her vat, and she had no doubt Saphira was doing the same.
A beam of light made its way onto Scootaloo’s face a few moments later, and her heart nearly stopped.
“And in an herb shop, no less,” the irritated voice of Lorey muttered.
“Lorey?” Saphira asked, tentatively looking up at him. “Wh-What are you d-doing here?”
“You have to hide,” Lorey warned. “The Elements of Harmony are about to storm Canterlot, and I don’t believe they’ll be any more merciful to you than to me. And take Scootaloo with you; if the Daymare can’t find her, she can’t use her as leverage.”
“What do you mean, leverage?” Scootaloo asked. “And why do you care? You should be turning us in.”
“I don’t like wasting lives,” Lorey explained, “and by leverage, I mean that Envy and the Daymare are going to use you against your friends.”
Scootaloo stared. That’s why I’ve been kept alive all this time, and why they didn’t want me to escape!
“However, if you act fast, you can hide and flee when they come,” Lorey said. “You must leave now, however, before the Daymare or Envy finds you, understand?” He looked urgently at them. “Hurry! Go!”
Lorey charged up a teleport and vanished.
Scootaloo went to leave, but Saphira grabbed the orange pegasus’s sticky shoulder.
“What? Didn’t you hear him?” Scootaloo asked. “And why the sudden change of heart? Why are you following me?”
“Scootaloo, I-I think that... I th-think...” she trailed off, having difficulty finding the words. “I want to join your side. I’ve been t-thinking about it, and to be honest,” she swallowed, “death is a better option than a life of murder.”
“...Okay, Saphira,” Scootaloo said hesitantly. “Let’s go.”
“Wait!” Saphira exclaimed, pointing to Scootaloo’s flank. “Y-You... You ha-have...”
Scootaloo looked at her flank and paused in shock. A mark had appeared on it; a pair of roller skates.
The Elements of Harmony arrived at the ruins of Canterlot.
Luna had applied a potion to Dash’s wounds, and the blue warrior had leapt back into action a little later. Lyvia’s going to regret the day she crossed me, she thought angrily as she walked onward.
Everything was crumbling; there was not a single building that was unaffected by three years of wear and tear. As they walked through the ruined city, the Elements could only wonder what awaited them, and what awaited the world.
I just want Sweetie Belle to be safe, Rarity muttered to herself as she glanced worriedly at the young mare beside her. As long as we make it out of this alive, I think I’ll be okay with whatever happens.
That Lyvia mare needs a kick in the hindquarters for calling me ‘sweetheart,’ Applejack muttered to herself, and Lorey’s going to get a good beating for impersonating my sis, too. She shifted her hat to make sure a bright red bow was inside.
Where are you, Scootaloo? Dash looked up toward the ruined castle, pleading for her young companion to be safe. If she’s been hurt, I’ll never forgive myself. Please, Scootaloo, please be alright!
Pinkie glanced at Rainbow Dash, whose wings were ignited in fury and worry. She spread a little of her energy to the pegasus in order to calm her down. Anger isn’t what we need to be feeling right now; we all have to be in tip-top shape for the final battle, she thought. Why do all my friends look like they’re about to do something mean?
Fluttershy stared in awe at the castle, and suddenly felt apprehensive. We’re supposed to go in there and fight the Daymare? I wonder if we’ll ever make it out... No, I won’t think like that! We have to win! And... um... then what?
Twilight wanted to end the conflict. Too long has this gone on without us noticing. We need to put an end to it, once and for all. If that means giving up my life, then I can die without regret, because I know I’ve saved the world. That’s enough for me. But... making it out alive would be nice too, I guess.
I finally get to avenge Equestria and give Envy his just desserts! Luna thought excitedly. I’ve let far too many ponies die. It’s time to finish this. Envy and Arrogance will pay.
I wonder if Scootaloo is okay, Sweetie Belle thought to herself. And Apple Bloom, too. I hope her sickness isn’t bothering her too much. Maybe this can end well after all. Then we can go back to being the Cutie Mark Crusaders again.
This is it, Olly thought. The moment of truth. Either we win, or we don’t. And I, for one, am very excited to see how this all turns out.
[Note]: I do not own anything in this story that already belongs to someone else.
This entire storyline takes place BEFORE season two, but AFTER season one.