Metropony City! Mighty skyscrapers towering over the millions of ponies going about their lives on the streets below! Working, playing or just taking in the weather, Metropony bustles as only the big city can. But! All is not well in this equine metropolis! Below the streets lies a threat - a threat to the happiness and friendship of good ponies everywhere! And the name of that threat is Luna, the exiled Princess who has returned with vengeance in her eyes! With the aid of Her villainous helper Trixie and her army of terrible Lunatrons, She will stop at nothing to destroy the pony way of life! Standing against her, however, are two heroic mares, known only to the citizens of Metropony as...
HARPFLANK AND SWEETS: EPISODE 37 (SEASON FINALE PART 1)
“Today. I end it today.”
Luna blinked. Usually when Trixie entered Her throne room there was grovelling, recriminations, and the promise of future successes. But today, Her servant had cut straight through the preamble and stridden purposefully to the foot of the throne, so full of energy that she was practically vibrating.
“YOU SEEM... DRIVEN, MY SERVANT.”
Trixie scoffed, showing none of the fear or respect she usually afforded her mistress. Something was very different.
“Perhaps, my Lady. I finally know my purpose. I confess that I have perhaps not devoted the full extent of my abilities to your cause until now. But my eyes have been opened. This city must burn.”
Luna nodded, pleased with Her servant’s vehemence. There was a fire in Trixie now, a fire She had never felt before. Victory had never felt closer. But deep within her, a worm of doubt began to gnaw.
“TRIXIE, KNOW THAT DESPITE YOUR FAILURES, YOU HAVE BEEN A WORTHY SERVANT TO US. GO NOW. END THIS.”
Trixie bowed, a deep and honest bow.
“I go, my Lady. Harpflank and Sweets shall die, and Metropony with them.”
She turned smartly to leave. As she neared the throne room’s threshold, Luna called to her.
There was a pause as Trixie waited, not facing her mistress. Luna hesitated, struggling to form the words She wished to speak, having been so long in exile with no need for words such as these.
“DO NOT... DO NOT DO SOMETHING WE WOULD REGRET.”
Trixie stood for moment, half-ready to turn and face Luna. The silence continued for what felt like eons.
And then she left.
Lyra tapped her hoof impatiently as Vinyl Scratch moved the scanning device along, around, across and over her.
“Come on, this is taking forever! Do the suits need checking up on that badly?”
Lyra and Bon-Bon stood in Vinyl’s personal work area in the centre of ExTech, an island of calm in the frenzied activity that characterised their organisation’s research and development division. Vinyl and Octavia had called them in for what Vinyl had referred to as “essential suit maintenance,” but seemed to consist solely of the pair of scientists taking interminable readings from their nanotechnology creations while Lyra and Bon-Bon sat there wearing them. For hours.
The glow of magic from Vinyl’s horn winked out and the scanner dropped to her desk. She tutted and gave Lyra an uncharacteristically stern glance.
“Yes, Lyra, they do. Haven’t you noticed? These things have been glitching like crazy.”
Bon-Bon spoke from her position a few feet away, where Octavia was sitting at a computer hooked to the red suit with gleaming electrodes and typing rapidly.
“Don’t you remember when that giant butterfly attacked Celestia Tower? You couldn’t move for an hour!”
Octavia looked up from her typing, adding,
“The Cloudsdale incident. The vitals readings were most unusual.”
Vinyl turned to face Lyra again.
“And that’s not even mentioning that thing with the dragon. There’s not even an anvil program in there!”
Her face softened, and her happy-go-lucky charm returned.
“So yeah, we gotta check up on your suits. We’re pretty much done though. Just gotta do some tests and repairs on the suits themselves that you don’t have to be there for.” She quickly added the last as Lyra groaned obnoxiously in frustration.
She stood back, and Octavia hit a final key before addressing the two heroes.
“Commence nanosuit removal.”
Lyra and Bon-Bon performed the routine they had performed many times now, extending a foreleg and willing the suits to remove themselves. The red suit glowed faintly and began to flow across Bon-Bon’s body and down her leg, pooling on Octavia’s desk before reforming into its default shape. Lyra also extended her leg, but nothing happened. There was an awkward pause.
Vinyl made “hurry up” motions.
“Uh, Lyra? The suit. You have to think it off. You know this.”
Lyra shook her leg, frowning.
“I’m trying! Look, this is me thinking!” She screwed up her face as if to illustrate the sheer degree of her thinking-ness.
But still nothing happened. Bon-Bon and Octavia trotted over, looking confused. Lyra was shaking her leg more frantically now, annoyed at the suit’s refusal to leave her body.
“Seriously, what is this thing’s problem?”
Before anyone could answer, a familiar alarm blared into life, drowning out Lyra’s irritation. Vinyl and Octavia exchanged worried glances.
“Lyra, I don’t know if we’re cool with letting you leave with that on...”
Lyra shook her head, about-facing and running for the door.
“Doesn’t matter, we got a robot to fight! Come on, BB!”
Bon-Bon hesitated, then followed her partner, calling back over the alarm,
“I’ll keep an eye on the suit, Vinyl! Keep mine, Lyra can cover me!”
Vinyl began to respond but Lyra and Bon-Bon had already galloped from the room. The shrieking klaxon quietened to an endlessly repeating alert announcement as the base prepared for support and clean-up. Vinyl turned to Octavia.
“Okay, babe, I want to check out Bon-Bon’s suit. Could you run comms for this mission?”
Octavia nodded and left through the Head Office’s heavy door, shooting back just before it closed behind her,
“Don’t call me babe.”
Vinyl grinned mischievously and refocused her attention on the red nanomachine barding in front of her. She magically lifted the scanner again and went to work. After making another brief scan, she craned her neck to see the readings on the terminal Octavia had been using. Just below her field of vision, almost imperceptibly, the suit twitched.
The two heroes were, as usual, taking the rooftop route to the coordinates they had been given. Bon-Bon began to lag behind as Lyra’s suit-enhanced muscles pushed her forward. She called forward over the wind.
“Lyra! Slow down! I don’t have a suit, remember?”
Lyra’s head snapped round and Bon-Bon was surprised to note a look of annoyance flash across her face before returning to her usual casual smile.
“Sorry, BB! Guess I’m getting a little carried away! Just can’t wait to get rid of whatever Trixie’s cooked up this week!”
She slowed, though not by much, and Bon-Bon still had to push herself hard just to keep pace. Strange thoughts began to surface as they ran. Lyra had been worrying her lately, for at least a month. She seemed less concerned with defending the city and more eager to destroy Trixie’s creations. Even more unsettling was that she had apparently stopped worrying about their encounter at the fair the previous week entirely. When Bon-Bon had questioned her a few days after Trixie’s wholehearted denial of their offer of friendship, she had shrugged and brushed it off as a return to the status quo.
Not only that, but she seemed more aloof, more cocky in general. Lyra had always been confident in her own abilities, but more recently it felt like she had stopped entertaining the possibility of defeat at all. She was using magic more, too. If a problem could be solved with her hooves, Lyra would try her horn first. Bon-Bon had used to consider her the least magically-oriented unicorn she knew but now... She was changing. And not necessarily for the better.
Bon-Bon shook herself free of her thoughts. There was time enough for that later. For now, she took comfort in having a goal and the tools to accomplish it. She was wearing the utility saddlebags she had worn before the nanosuits. Vinyl had kept updating it even as it became obsolete, insisting that one day she might need it. Bon-Bon smiled as she thanked the specialist’s foresight.
Looking forward to her bounding partner, she noticed something... off. Something strange about Lyra’s movements. She narrowed her eyes and realised that the suit was moving slightly out of sync with Lyra’s body. The effect was unsettling, as if the suit was trying to emulate the movements of the pony that wore it but hadn’t gotten it quite right. She made a resolution there and then to confront Lyra about her behaviour and drag her to ExTech as soon as this mission was over. There was something going on, and she was certain the suit had something to do with it.
Octavia tapped away at her terminal array, streams of text flashing before her. Lyra and Bon-Bon were en route and as of yet needed no guidance, so she was taking the opportunity to investigate the data that had been gathered from the nanosuits. Her head flicked from side to side as she took it all in, hooves almost blurring as she put her genius to work collating the research they had done on the suits so far. There was a pattern emerging in the nanosuit AI, something that felt familiar but she just couldn’t place.
She stopped, mouth open as she recognised a line of code that she would always remember. This was very, very bad. On the screen before her, a single innocuous series of green characters nested in a sea of the same, was the identifier for the Lunatron central AI unit that she and Vinyl had cannibalised the nanosuit concept from.
She realised that she was sitting in silence. Between the explosions of failed experiments, cries of triumph when something actually worked, and Vinyl’s pleasant but penetrating voice, their department was never silent.
Very carefully, she eased herself from her chair and crept over to the small gun rack in the corner. Lifting a pistol in her mouth, she moved quickly and quietly over to the door, pressing her ear to it in an effort to hear. Nothing. Gripping her weapon tightly, she reached for the door release, and stepped back into cover as it ground open.
Silence. Heart pounding, Octavia leapt out of cover, ready to fire. She gasped at the scene before her, dropping the pistol.
ExTech was a wreck. All around lay unconscious researchers and smashed machinery, the destruction both random and precise. It seemed everything that could be destroyed had been, but the damage itself was all clean, sheer lines, as if some incredibly sharp blade had been swung about the lab. Thankfully, none of the fallen ponies seemed to be hurt beyond whatever had rendered them inert.
Something hissed, a low and guttural sound. Behind her. Octavia whirled around just before she remembered her weapon now lay at her hooves. Standing directly in front of her and bathing her in crimson light was the nanosuit, expanded as though a pony was wearing it. Whip-like nanomachine tendrils grew and dissolved at random and the sickly glow pulsed like a heartbeat. Crying in surprise, Octavia fell back, the shock overwhelming her usual taciturn demeanour. The red beast hissed again, a strange sound that seemed too organic to have come from its metal throat. Its snaking limbs grew rigid and visibly sharpened, poised to strike.
Scrabbling for her weapon, a discarded piece of technology, anything to avert her impending demise, Octavia’s thoughts were only of Vinyl and what had happened to her. The creature struck.
Just before the barbed limbs reached her, it stopped dead. It began shaking, as though fighting to control its own actions. As the suit shuddered and twitched, Octavia looked into the blank red expanse that passed for a face. Where its mouth would lie, a barely visible line emerged along with a tiny voice, hoarse with effort. Somepony was wearing it.
“Told you... never gonna...hurt... anypony...”
The suit reared in what looked like pain, screaming with a harsh buzz of static. It clutched its head for a few moments then galloped from the room, slicing the reinforced door in two effortlessly.
Octavia sat stunned for a moment, the horror of what she had just experienced filling her thoughts. Vinyl was in there, and she was alive. Her analytical side kicked in. Though Vinyl had obviously been fighting the suit’s control, she was just as obviously fading fast. With ExTech destroyed, there was no anti-nanomachine technology left in the base, and the suit was strong enough that any attempt to destroy it would invariably involve Vinyl going with it. She tried every angle in her mind, but... There was no way to save her.
Collecting herself, but still shaking, she stood. Following the rampaging suit into the corridor, she marvelled at its speed. It had already moved out of sight, further into the base. She began tracking its progress by following the gashes where its wildly flailing tendrils had scored the walls. The screams of ponies and the electronic screech of the suit reached her ears. She galloped towards them, dreading what she might find.
Rarity Square was empty, devoid of even the usual bustling Metropony citizenry. Lyra and Bon-Bon looked around in confusion. The journey here had been strangely quiet too, even factoring in their rooftop path. Not even the birds could be heard. An area several miles wide was totally and utterly empty of life. Something was very wrong. Lyra pranced impatiently.
“Where is she? Shouldn’t there be a Lunatron stomping around or something? I thought we were here to fight!”
Bon-Bon waved a placating hoof at her friend.
“I don’t know, Lyra. Something about this worries me. Where is everypony?”
A familiar voice replied, seeming to come from all around them.
“They have been removed, Harpflank and Sweets. Or should I say ‘Lyra and Bon-Bon?’”
With a puff of smoke and fireworks, Trixie appeared in the centre of the plaza. Her face was smug, with just the faintest hint of the bitterness within.
“My Lady’s army has transferred the denizens of Metropony to a safe, but secure, location underground.”
Bon-Bon narrowed her eyes in suspicion.
“What are you going to do with them, Trixie?! If you hurt a single pony-”
Trixie’s derisive laughter washed over her, cutting her off. The villainous unicorn waved a hoof nonchalantly, pacing back and forth as if on stage.
“Oh Bon-Bon, so righteous. Of course they won’t be hurt! How can my Lady Luna come to rule if there is nopony to rule over? No, they are merely being... protected. From the coming storm.”
Lyra pawed the ground aggressively, barely able to contain her desire to leap at Trixie.
“Who cares? Bring out your robot or whatever so we can blow it up!”
Trixie laughed again.
“You seem very anxious to attack, Lyra. But we both know you’re not going to fight me.”
She turned to look Lyra directly in the eye. Lyra saw something in Trixie’s gaze that felt somehow familiar and, deep in her heart, something cried out for attention. Her suit, ever so faintly, began to glow.
“You’re going to join me.”
Octavia rounded the corner at a run and skidded to a halt in the next corridor. She had barely been able to keep up with the red suit’s rampage as it moved with deadly purpose towards the Commander’s office.
The base was a mess, worse than it had been during the Lunatron attack so many weeks ago. Gaping wounds lined the walls where the suit had randomly slashed with its weapons, and everywhere lay unconscious ponies. It seemed what was left of Vinyl was keeping the suit under enough control to stop it killing anyone, at the expense of the rest of the base. Broken glass crunched underhoof.
A door burst open and Nurse Redheart leapt into view, grabbing the suit around the neck and attempting to wrest the suit from Vinyl’s body with her teeth. Octavia gasped as a writhing tentacle coiled around the nurse’s waist and tossed her almost casually across the corridor, slamming her into a wall with enough force to knock her out. This was getting worse by the minute. She grabbed a communicator from a fallen guard and frantically activated the emergency frequency as the suit continued its unstoppable advance.
“Commander Hooves, come in. Come in Commander Hooves!”
After a few seconds of static, Derpy’s voice emerged from the device.
“This is Derpy. Situation?”
Octavia quickly explained how the suit had gone rogue and, based on its programming, was most likely heading straight for Derpy’s office. She reached the point she had been dreading.
“Suit has control of Vinyl Scratch. She is fighting, but... “ She took a deep, harrowed breath. “All anti-nano tech has been destroyed, and the suit is too strong to destroy without... Removal is impossible.”
Derpy was silent. When she replied a few moments later, her voice was solemn.
“Roger that, Octavia. Deploying Bubbles, with your permission.”
Octavia closed her eyes, wracking her brain for any solution other than what the Commander was suggesting. But with ExTech in the state that it was... nothing came.
“It has to be done, Commander. The suit is too dangerous.”
“Celestia bless your sacrifice, Octavia.”
The communicator cut out and Octavia continued to follow the suit, heart heavy.
She reached the main corridor just after the suit did. It had been slowed by a surprisingly effective barricade set up by some enterprising guards but their small-arms fire had been unable to even reach the suit’s body, deflected by repulsor fields and dexterous tendrils. Those same guards now lay sprawled behind the suit as it walked onwards, jerking unnaturally and letting out garbled static roars. Octavia prayed that the Commander was ready.
Before she could finish the thought, the Commander’s door opened in the distance, quiet hiss inaudible at the other end of the vast thoroughfare.
Inside was a sight that nopony had seen for many years. The back wall of Derpy’s office had retracted, replaced with two enormous metal brackets in a secret compartment. What they had held currently filled the length of the room, from the threshold to the extended back wall.
A huge rifle, almost ten feet long, was strapped to the Commander’s desk, a heavy stand reaching from the mid-point of the barrel to the floor to steady it further. The barrel itself was thick, several inches wide, and covered in strange clear pipes through which flowed a bright blue liquid. Heavy wires extended from the trigger housing into a magically-infused fusion generator that, Octavia realised, had always lain unobtrusively in the corner of the office. The scope was a mass of electronics that culminated in a pair of sleek goggles, feeding targeting data straight into the eyes of its wielder, Derpy, who stood poised in a tense firing stance. Inscribed on the gun’s stock were the bubbles of the Commander’s cutie mark.
She activated her communicator again as the suit screeched and began to charge down the corridor towards her.
“Bubbles is ready, and the suit is a confirmed triple-S threat. I’m taking the shot. I’m... sorry.”
A single tear rolled down Octavia’s cheek.
“Make it quick.”
Derpy shifted her weight, settling into position. The fusion generator rumbled as power, electrical and magical, flowed from it into the gun and the barrel began to glow as the accumulating energy began to heat it. The liquid coolant in the pipes bubbled, struggling against the raw magical potential straining within the weapon’s mechanisms.
“Don’t worry, Octavia. Back in the day, I was known for two things. My eyes...”
She hooked her foreleg around the trigger, so large it was essentially a lever.
“And my aim.”
When asked to recall the event later, Octavia swore that she saw the next instant in slow motion. With a deafening roar, Derpy and her colossal rifle were thrown back into the wall as her impromptu securing of the the gun proved insufficient. Even as it crashed to the floor with its owner, the rifle hissed with steam as the coolant automatically pumped itself through the workings of the gun.
The bullet streaked along the corridor, trailing a line of white fire as it ripped through the air. The shockwave it left behind it shattered windows as it passed and ripped doors from their housings. A bowed spectrum began to form around it as it travelled at unimaginable speed. Halfway to its destination, the spectrum burst. A disc of rainbow light exploded outwards. The very walls of the corridor ballooned outwards as the irresistible force of the sonic rainboom crashed into them, leaving a perfectly spherical depression several rooms across.
The suit brought up a repulsor field. Even as the the glimmering wall appeared, the bullet passed straight through, space itself seeming to warp slightly as the projectile’s insane velocity largely ignored the gravitational inversion.
And then, just as Octavia’s brain had registered the bullet’s passage, it reached its target.
Bubbles never missed.
It was Bon-Bon’s turn to scoff.
Trixie gave her a pitying look, as if she were a filly who had answered a question wrong in class.
“Yes, join me. You wouldn’t understand, Bon-Bon. You could never understand what it means to be trapped in a world of lesser ponies who don’t respect your greatness, or power, for what they truly are.”
She turned back to Lyra, who was staring at the ground, lost in thought.
“You know what I mean, don’t you, Lyra? I have seen you perform magnificent feats of magic beyond a pony’s wildest dreams! That cello, indescribable! And yet here you are, still tagging along behind Bon-Bon and her other ‘friends’. I can feel your power in the air, as we speak, and you are constantly reined in by your pathetic organisation for the sake of a million ungrateful whelps who don’t even know your name.”
Bon-Bon charged, enraged that Trixie, whom they had tried so hard to befriend, could turn so quickly back to such a villainous course. But she was stopped short by a voice that, for all its hesitancy, hit her like a physical force and chilled her to the very core.
“... I think she’s right, BB.”
Bon-Bon slowly turned to face her friend, unable to believe what she was hearing. Lyra was looking at her strangely, unable to meet her eye but unwilling to look away.
“What did you say?”
Lyra took a deep breath and faced Bon-Bon fully.
“I think she’s right. I am powerful. Really powerful. And... I never got anything out of it.”
Bon-Bon’s mouth dropped open, and she sputtered as the full impact of what her friend was saying hit her.
“But... But we defend the city! You get... the citizen’s happiness! The knowledge that we’ve kept the city safe! That justice has bee-”
“And what good is that?!”
Lyra cut her off with a shout, feelings welling up inside her that she could no longer deny and was forced to take out on her closest friend.
“Every week, every week, we fight Trixie. Every week, we destroy some ridiculous robot and save the city from certain destruction. Every week, we almost die for the sake of these ponies. And what happens? We do it again the next week. And the week after that. And do you know what? We’ve never even seen Luna in the flesh. We just fight Trixie, all the time. We’re still at their first line of defense. We’re never going to win, BB.”
Bon-Bon desperately tried to find a way to reply, but her partner’s anger was unstoppable, an emotional tidal wave that smothered all thought. Lyra’s suit was incandescent now, bright blue light streaming from her body.
“We’re never going to win. And for that short period every single week where we think that maybe, just maybe, Trixie won’t come back, nopony knows it was us. Everyone just keeps on trotting on, safe and secure knowing that they don’t have to do anything worthwhile with their lives. ‘It’s cool, Harpflank and Sweets will save us!’”
Her voice was quiet now, but determined. She met Bon-Bon’s gaze.
“Well, maybe I don’t want to be Harpflank anymore. Maybe I want to be Lyra. And maybe I want people to know that name.”
She walked towards Trixie, Bon-Bon falling to her haunches as her friend moved further and further away. Lyra reached Trixie’s side and turned to face Bon-Bon again as the caped unicorn smiled in triumph.
“I think I’ve been on the wrong side, BB.”
Bon-Bon could do nothing. She tried to speak, but the shock of Lyra’s betrayal had shut her down completely. She just sat and watched as Trixie pulled a control panel from thin air and pressed a button.
She stared as the ground splintered beneath the two unicorns and an enormous Lunatron began to rise, larger even than that which had been destroyed by the megacello, carrying them upwards.
Her empty gaze followed it upwards as it cast a shadow over the city and a pair of enormous hatches opened on its back, sending a swarm of missiles spiralling into the sky to come crashing down to the abandoned Metropony, explosions tearing through the streets and ripping skyscrapers apart.
Atop the metal colossus, Trixie began to laugh, a rich, full laugh of final triumph. Lyra felt disgusted at Trixie’s delight in destruction, but accepted it nonetheless. As twisted as she had become, Trixie was right. This city was soft, weak. It didn’t understand power, or those that had it. The only way to rebuild the place into something worth protecting was Luna’s Empire. She took one final look at Bon-Bon, a pale cream dot fading into the distance far below, obscured by the smoke of the burning city. For an infinitesimal moment, despite the distance, their eyes met. Lyra whispered something, her words lost in Trixie’s laughter and the sounds of the crumbling metropolis.
“I’m sorry, Bon-Bon. I’m so sorry.”
She turned away, armour shining like a blue star.
[ Credits roll. ]
Coming soon: Episode 38 - Season Finale, Part 2!