Chrono Reflect

by Valkyrie Sandora

Standard: Real Strength

Standard – Real Strength

play song

Rarity felt bad leaving Twilight like this, but when they arrived back in Medieval she was asleep. Applejack and DASH-379 offered to stay with her while Wizard Twilight began working on the antidote to cure Twilight's poison.

This left Rarity and Fluttershy, who decided to head back to Standard to enact Rarity's plan.

Truth was, Rarity didn't need anyone to come with her, but she didn't feel right going back to Standard by herself. Also, she knew it would be the end of the school day when she got there, and she still didn't want to be alone. She missed Twilight fiercely, but this was a good chance for her and Fluttershy to spend time together. Twilight wouldn't mind, she was sure.

After they arrived back in Standard, she saw a number of students rushing out of school, happy to see the day ending.

“Fancy runnin into you here, hon,” Applejewel said walking over to Rarity and Fluttershy.

“Hello Jewel,” Rarity said. She and Applejewel hugged, but then Applejewel saw Fluttershy and frowned slightly.

“Um… this is one of the alternates, right?” Applejewel asked. Rarity giggled.

“Yes Applejewel, this is an alternate Fluttershy I'm traveling with. Don't worry though, this Fluttershy is extremely nice,” Rarity explained. Fluttershy got close to Applejewel and sniffed, smiling.

“You have pleasant scent,” Fluttershy said, “Smell like citrus.”

Applejewel giggled, “Well thank ya kindly. It's my aunt's special fragrance, based off of the scent of oranges.”

Oranges? Right, Applejack had an aunt and uncle named Orange who were aristocratic. This must have been what Applejack would have been like had she stayed with her relatives rather than move back to the farm with her immediate family.

It's so hard seeing Applejack act so… frivolous though!

Rarity was caught off guard by a crash. The three of them looked and saw Standard Fluttershy fussing at another student who apparently bumped into her. Rarity couldn't make out what she was saying, but it sounded violent.

Fluttershy on the other hand, looked at her alternate self intently with an odd expression. Applejewel sighed and was about to say something, but a beep behind her caught her attention. She turned to look, and smiled seeing a white and orange limo by the school waiting for her.

“Looks like my ride's here,” Applejewel said, “Y'all two want a ride? No reason ta walk back home, ya know?”

“You know, that would be lovely,” Rarity said, “Fluttershy, you don't mind, do you?”

Fluttershy was shocked by Rarity's voice, but shook her head. Applejewel clapped her hands happily.

“Splendid. Come along, y'all. Today, you get ta ride with a super star.”

Rarity laughed awkwardly, “That's wonderful, Applejewel. Thank you so much.”

The limo was really nice and spacious. Rarity was surprised to see just how rich Applejewel actually was. Apparently, she alone was worth almost one million dollars, and was destined to inherit her Uncle's business and funds one day.

Talk about loaded.

“So… what's going on with your Fluttershy?” Rarity asked, “Has she caused Dashie any trouble?”

“Not in the slightest,” Applejewel said, “But it's kinda hard ta get close ta Dash since she's always hangin with the basketball team. She's now officially datin the captain, an' the rest of the team adores her. She's quickly becomin almost as popular as yours truly.”

“That must drive Fluttershy crazy,” Rarity said, Fluttershy now turning her attention to their conversation.

“It does. Most of the school's startin ta stand up to her, so she's losin power fast. So ta compensate, she's jus' bein real nasty ta everyone. She got detention jus' yesterday for startin a fight with Octavia, an' all she did was look at her.”

“Geez, what is it going to take?” Rarity said, more so to herself than to anyone else.

“Why don't ya jus' let it go?” Applejewel asked with a shrug, “By now, ya jus' have ta admit it. She's a bad seed. Nothin like this absolute gem though,” she said taking Fluttershy's hand. Poor thing looked so confused.

“I just can't do that,” Rarity said, “She's the Fluttershy that I grew up with, the one that I originally called my best friend. She just had to grow up without me. Jewel, that's still Fluttershy to me, and she will always be my best friend.”

Applejewel sighed, “Ah don't get it, Rarity. Ah really don't. Ah mean, sure she's Fluttershy, but she ain't your Fluttershy. Sides, ya have a perfectly good Fluttershy right here, an' she ain't a complete bitch. Why can't ya leave it alone?”

“Because that's not my style,” Rarity said, “I've never turned away from Fluttershy, and I won't start now, whether she's my Fluttershy or another Fluttershy.”

Applejewel took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of her nose, “Ah suppose there's no stoppin you. You're a good person, Rarity. Too good, I might add, but that's better than not bein good enough.”

Rarity smiled at Applejewel in response to that. After arriving at Twilight's place and saying their goodbyes, Rarity and Fluttershy went inside, using the extra key that Twilight gave Rarity just in case. She really hoped her parents didn't surprise visit, otherwise she'd have some serious explaining to do.

end song

After taking their showers, both girls got in bed together. They had to once again borrow more of Twilight's pajamas, as Fluttershy didn't have any other clothes and Rarity refused to let her sleep in Twilight's bed wearing that. With the only other solution being Fluttershy sleeping nude…

Yeah… Rarity had already seen Fluttershy naked enough to last her a life time. Not that it was unappealing, it was just so awkward for her.

As they lied on the bed, Fluttershy spooning Rarity and holding her from behind, Rarity found herself still unable to get to sleep. Maybe she missed Twilight more than she thought. She had thought about her a lot. Having to find an excuse for Applejewel didn't help either.

She was also thinking about the Fluttershy of this world. As things stood, she was just going to fall even harder. This wasn't like with Sunset Shimmer, where Rarity could shoot a magic rainbow at the problem and it was gone. Rarity had to actually try and change her herself, but so far it seemed like nothing worked.

“Rarity? Awake?”

“Huh?” Rarity asked, “Yes darling, I'm still up. Lately, I just can't seem to get any sleep.”

“Girl that look like me, she is… bad person? I… am bad person?” Fluttershy asked slowly.

play song

“No no no, not at all,” Rarity said turning to Fluttershy, who looked really upset, “Neither you nor the other Fluttershy are bad people.”

“But… she hurt other people… and I still put village in danger…”

“Fluttershy, you were doing what you felt was right. Remember, the wolves were just using Lavos as an excuse to keep the women of your village captured,” Rarity looked away somberly, “As for the Fluttershy here, she lost someone important to her. That person was her rock, and without them… she fell.”

“That person… you?” Fluttershy asked.

“Yes actually. Remember how Twilight and I are from different versions of this world? Well, this is a world where… I died ten years ago. The Fluttershy here is the same as my friend, but she had to grow up without me looking out for her. As such, she went in a bad direction. You see, she's not a bad person, she's just suffering. This doesn't excuse her behavior though. Someone needs to talk to her.”

“I talk to her?” Fluttershy asked.

“I don't know if that's a good idea Fluttershy,” Rarity said, “Honestly, I'm not sure what's a good idea anymore. Nothing else seems to work…”

“Then I talk to other me,” Fluttershy said grasping Rarity's hand, “I talk to other me, and save her.”

Rarity did have to admit, that method worked on Rainbow Dash. That was different though. Dashie needed to talk to someone who represented who she could be. Fluttershy here represented something that as far as Rarity knew, Standard Fluttershy hated.

Still, not like things could get any worse.

“I don't know how you'll get close to her, but I trust you,” Rarity said, “Just… try not to make a scene, alright?”

“Everything fine now,” Fluttershy said closing her eyes, “Other me learn lesson this time. I make sure of it.”

And just like that, Rarity was terrified now. She knew it. Fluttershy was going to make a scene. Well, maybe Pinkie Pie could tape it and get another video on youtube. That would be a bonus, right?

play song

While Rarity went to school, Fluttershy began stalking her alternate self. She was easy to find, because of an odd scent. She herself smelled fine, but those white things she kept smoking left a very bad smell to her.

Fluttershy hated that, but it made it easy to track her.

Her alternate self seemed to keep getting into arguments, yelling at everyone around her and shoving people into walls. Despite what Rarity said last night, it looked like she and this Fluttershy didn't get along too well. That was unfortunate. Rarity really wanted to be close to her friend, so seeing her act so mean had to be hard.

After a little while, Standard Fluttershy stormed toward the back door of the school, bumping into another student on the way and knocking him down. She didn't even acknowledge that it happened. She just walked through the back doors into the back alleyway behind the building.

Fluttershy didn't like that.

She followed her alternate self into the alleyway, where she saw her lighting another one of those white sticks that smelled funny.

end song

“Bullshit,” Standard Fluttershy said, “I fucking hate this place. I hate everyone here.”

“That not nice.”

Standard Fluttershy turned to the entrance, meeting eyes with Fluttershy. Standard Fluttershy backed a way looking really freaked out.

“So first Rainbow Trash meets some weird robot that looks like her, and now this? Some freak that looks like me from the stone age or something?” Standard Fluttershy asked harshly. Fluttershy frowned looking at her other self intently, trying to find something, “Well? Have something to say, freak?”

“Why you push boy to the ground?” Fluttershy asked, “Not even apologize.”

“Apologize to that shrimp?! He should have fucking watched where he was going! Anyone who gets in my way I just shove out of my way!”

She was so full of anger, and hatred. But that wasn't all. There had to be something else. A reason.

“You… shove out of way,” Fluttershy repeated, “Why not just wait, or move out of way yourself?”

“Why should I have to move out of the way? I'm the one with someplace to go! He's just as worthless as everyone else in this fucking place! Thinking they're so important, when all they are is a bug under my boot!” she gave Fluttershy a sneer, “I'm the one on top here. Everyone else in that school just forgot who their queen is. But I'm going to remind them. I'm going to remind all of them.”

“How?” Fluttershy asked tilting her head to the side. Her Standard counterpart laughed.

“By humiliating that bitch Rainbow Trash, that's how. She thinks she's so great, now that everyone in the school thinks that she's this super cool and awesome chick who hangs around the basketball team. But once they see what I have in store for her, she'll never be able to show her face in this school again. And then everyone will remember who the real queen of this school it!”

Fluttershy still couldn't find what she was looking for, but she find something. Something that she really hated.

“You disgust me,” Fluttershy said with a scowl. Standard Fluttershy was wide eyed for a second, but then narrowed her eyes in anger.

“What did you just say to me?” Standard Fluttershy asked.

“You think you are Queen, that you are strong, but all you do is push people around and make them small. You only hurt weak. That because you are weak.”

“You think I'm weak, huh?” Standard Fluttershy seethed, “What makes you so high and mighty, hm?

“I not high or mighty. I strong. Strong for real. Not fake strong like you.”

Standard Fluttershy laughed, “You can't even finish a sentence correctly, and you're saying you're strong?! What, strong in the real way or some bullshit like that? You're a joke!”

“If you strong, prove it,” Fluttershy said getting in a fighting stance, even pulling out her daggers, “We not talk with words. We talk through battle. Show me strength.”

play song

“Oh, you are pissing me off, bitch!” Standard Fluttershy said, surprisingly getting in the exact same stance and pulling out two small knives of her own, “Even if you have my face, I'm gonna enjoy wrecking it!”

The two Fluttershys charged at each other, and a violent fight began, both Fluttershy's slashing, kicking, blocking, doing everything in their power. Fluttershy was impressed with the skill her Standard counterpart had. They truly were the same person at their cores.

But something was off. Something separated the two.

Standard Fluttershy got in a lucky kick knocking Fluttershy to the side, but she flipped to her feet. Her Standard counterpart rushed at her screaming, slashing wildly with her knives and forcing Fluttershy to have to work harder with her blocks.

“You talk big, but so far all you've done is block!” Standard Fluttershy shouted, “Where's that strength you were talking about so much?”

The only reason Fluttershy wasn't fighting back was because she still needed to learn something. She still hadn't seen it yet, the thing that she was looking for. If she won the fight before then, all of this would be for nothing, and Rarity would still be sad.

Fluttershy didn't want Rarity to be sad.

Realizing that she'd have to push a little harder, Fluttershy kicked Standard Fluttershy off her and then went more offensively. Now she saw it a little. Standard Fluttershy was beginning to have a tough time, but she was still determined. But determined to what? What was she fighting-

That was it. What made them different. She herself was fighting to prove a point, but her other self was just fighting to win.

The two of them slashed with their daggers again, this time actually clashing blades. Standard Fluttershy spun around and did a spin kick, but Fluttershy bent all the way down out of the way and then did a flip kick knocking Standard Fluttershy back a bit. When she rose to her feet, she saw her Standard counterpart breathing heavily, a look of pure hatred in her eyes. Something inside of Fluttershy cried out when she saw that.

She pitied this girl so much.

“Stop that,” Standard Fluttershy said through gritted teeth, “Stop looking at me like that…!”

Wait, what? What did Fluttershy see just now? Was that…?

“I said…” she was trembling, “Stop… LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!!!”

Standard Fluttershy completely lost it and rushed at Fluttershy, this time slashing without technique, without reason. Yeah, it was time now. She won this fight.

As such, all Fluttershy had to do was sweep her foot to the side, knocking Standard Fluttershy to the ground. She rolled to her back just in time to see Fluttershy lift her leg into the air. Standard Fluttershy screamed and moved to the side just as Fluttershy went to drop kick her.

Standard Fluttershy rose to her feet and braced herself, but Fluttershy already rushed over to her, spinning around and slashing with her daggers. Standard Fluttershy tried to block, but she lost grip on her knives. Fluttershy then charged in with her daggers, going in for the finishing blow.

end song

“NO!!!!!” Standard Fluttershy screamed helplessly. Fluttershy stopped, her dagger right at Standard Fluttershy's neck, the poor girl trembling now, “P-please stop…! No more…! No more!”

Fluttershy backed away, and Standard Fluttershy fell to the ground. Fluttershy sheathed her daggers and looked down at her other self.

“You see now?” Fluttershy asked, “Not real strength. You weak, helpless, just like people you attack.”

play song

“I KNOW THAT!!!” Standard Fluttershy screamed, now crying, “I know I'm weak…! I've always been weak…! I hate being like this…! I know everyone hates me…! I hate myself…! But… but if I don't get them first… they'll get me!”

“Who will get you?” Fluttershy asked kneeling before her broken self.

“EVERYONE!!!” Standard Fluttershy cried, “Everyone there will hurt me! Make fun of me! If I don't make myself someone they're afraid of, they'll know that… that I… that I'm scared… of them

“I was bullied so badly when I was in elementary school… They made fun of my voice… Teased me because I cried a lot… and that I liked animals so much… The first person to ever be nice to me was… Rarity… She fought the bullies for me, made them stay away from me, but then she… she…” Standard Fluttershy broke down completely, probably crying harder than she had cried in years, “SHE DIED!!! SHE LEFT ME HERE ALONE!!!”

Fluttershy placed a hand over her heart. She could feel the intense pain this girl had. Years of this sadness and grief finally being let out. It was almost too much, but she knew that she had to stay.

“I had to be strong…” Standard Fluttershy continued, “So when I returned to school, and I saw the bullies… I was determined to make them leave me alone… So I attacked them! I beat them! Every single one! Rarity couldn't protect me, so I'd just protect myself from now on! I'd hurt all of them so they wouldn't hurt me every again!”

“But now… you hurt yourself,” Fluttershy said, “You push everyone away, and no have no one.”

“This is better!” Standard Fluttershy sobbed, “This way, no one can leave me like Rarity left me! It hurts too much… making friends and then losing them! I'd rather have no friends at all if that's the case!”

“No, that not true,” Fluttershy said, “You want friends. Lonely, sad, afraid, want someone to be there for you, right?”

“N-no! That's weak! I don't want to be weak anymore!”

“Accepting friends isn't weak. Crying in front of friends isn't weak. That takes strength.”

“What happens… when they leave me?” Standard Fluttershy asked, “I… hate that…!”

“Friends come, and friends go. I have friend. Very special friend, but I know she leave me one day. When she leave, I cry. But friend hasn't left yet. I enjoy friend now, so when she leave, I have no regrets. Also, I make more friends. Lots of friends from all over,” Fluttershy took Standard Fluttershy's hands, “You make friends too, Fluttershy. Lots and lots of friends. Friends hold you when sad, friends laugh with you when happy, friends calm you when angry.

“But you have to be true self to have friends. No more hurting people, calling names, and saying mean things. Hurt people, hurt yourself. You not bad person. You kind, gentle person, just afraid. Okay to be afraid, that what friends for.”

“Friends…” Standard Fluttershy looked down, “I don't have any friends… not anymore. The one person who probably would be my friend hates me now…”

“No, not hate,” Fluttershy said, “Probably waiting for you. You apologize, then you friends again.”

“You make it sound so simple,” Standard Fluttershy looked into Fluttershy's eyes, “Maybe… it is that simple, huh? I'm… sorry if I… upset you.”

Fluttershy shook her head, “Not hurt me. I know truth from beginning.”

“H-how though?”

Fluttershy smiled, put her Standard counterpart's hand on her chest, and then placed her own hand on her other self's chest.

“Because… we are same person. You Fluttershy, I Fluttershy. Fluttershy not bad person. That what… special friend say.”

Standard Fluttershy gave Fluttershy a soft smile, “That friend… must be really special,” she then pulled Fluttershy into a tight embrace, “Thank you… Fluttershy.”

“You welcome… Fluttershy.”

Fluttershy waved goodbye to her Standard counterpart as she walked back into the school, and then leaned against a wall thinking to herself.

“Rarity happy now. Save other Fluttershy, so now Rarity smile,” Fluttershy looked up at the sky, “One day, you leave. Sad when you leave, but… that okay. Even when you leave, we still friends,” she held her hand to the sky, letting her tears flow freely despite her smile, “Best friends forever… Rarity.”

As she stood there, she felt a new power grow within her. Something she could share with her friend, and everyone she loved.


play song

Rarity didn't see Fluttershy anywhere after homeroom. The only class she had with Fluttershy besides that one before lunch was History, so if she decided to cut class, she wasn't going to see her for a bit. Rarity wasn't too sure if that was bad news though.

Things felt lonely without Twilight, but Rarity was determined to enjoy her lunch with her friends. She hadn't forgotten her other reason for being here though. She needed to find Vice-Principal Luna at some point. Her best bet would be to find her after school though, as long as her schedule remained the same as well.

“I hope Twilight's okay,” Pinkie Pie said as they all sat down in the library for lunch.

“She's going to be fine,” Rarity said, “It wasn't anything too serious, so I'm sure she'll make a full recovery.”

I hate lying like this, but if I tell them the truth…

“So, Jewel, you met the other Fluttershy?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Sure did,” Applejewel said, “She was an absolute doll. Why, Ah wish our Fluttershy was that adorable.”

“She really is nice,” Rarity said, “I do hope she's staying out of trouble though. She has a habit of getting into trouble when left alone for too long.”

They stopped when they heard the door to the library open, and all got the shock of a lifetime. Walking into the library, going right over to them…

Was Fluttershy.

She stood over them for a few seconds, everyone looking up at her, nervous about what she was going to do or say. She met eyes with Rainbow Dash briefly, and then turned to Rarity. Their eyes met, and then Fluttershy did something equally shocking. She walked over to the far end of their section, and took a seat.

Naturally, everyone was still staring at her. After a second, she looked up at them.

“What?” she asked harshly.

“Um… can we help you…?” Applejewel asked, “This is kinda our spot ya know.”

“Yeah, I know,” Fluttershy said, “I can sit and eat here if I want to though. You don't own this place,” she caught herself and closed her eyes, “That's… wrong of me to say. I… apologize… if me being here upsets you.”

“You just didn't want to eat alone, right?” Rarity asked. Fluttershy looked at Rarity in shock, and was greeted with the kindest smile, “Personally, I say the more the merrier.”

Fluttershy's expression softened. It took a second, but soon lunch resumed as normal, only now with a new member. One that as time went on, Rarity found sitting closer and closer to her. Oddly this time, she didn't seem to mind.

After lunch ended, they all went their separate ways for the most part, however Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy stayed with Rarity as they had the same class coming up.

“So… you met one too, I'm guessing?” Rainbow Dash asked Fluttershy, who looked away slightly.

“Lucky bitch, yours was a robot. Mine was some freak from the forest,” Fluttershy said. Rarity rolled her eyes smiling.

“Well, I'm just happy she was able to help you,” Rarity said, “And that she's going to be in one piece when I go back to her later.”

“Hey, stop for a second,” Fluttershy requested, stopping everyone.

“Um… we don't want to be late for our next class,” Rainbow Dash pointed out.

“I don't care about that. This is important,” Fluttershy backed Rarity up against a locker looking her dead in the eyes, “The day I met Rarity is a day I'll never forget, and she said she'd never forget either. She made a promise to me. What was that promise?”

Realizing what she was doing, Rarity closed her eyes smiling calmly, “I promised that as long as I was alive, I'd protect you from the bullies, just like a knight in shining armor.”

Fluttershy took a deep, shuddering breath, and then turned away from Rarity.

“I know you can't stay here, but… it's really… um…” Fluttershy was cut off by Rarity's sudden hug.

“It's wonderful to see you again too, Fluttershy. And for the record, all is forgiven, as long as you continue to be nice to Dashie and everyone else here.”

Fluttershy snickered to herself, “I can be nice to Dashie, Applejewel, Pinkie Pie, hell, I'll even be nicer to Twilight when she gets back. I make no promises for everyone else though.”

“I suppose if that's the best I can hope for, then I'll take it,” Rarity said. Rainbow Dash looked behind them and gasped in shock.

end song

“Um… problem,” she said nervously. Rarity and Fluttershy released one another and looked to see Vice-Principal Luna glaring at all three of them.

“Shouldn't you three be heading to class?” Vice-Principal Luna asked.

“Yes! That's what I was saying!” Dash said, “You two need to listen to me more.”

Fluttershy gave Rainbow Dash a deadpanned look and shook her head, “Don't push your luck, Skittles.”

Rainbow Dash sighed, “I guess change doesn't happen over night.”

“Rarity, come on,” Fluttershy called out once she realized Rarity wasn't following them. Rarity was looking at the Luna of this world, reading her. She could feel it. The thing that Applejack and DASH-379 were saying they sensed.

“Is there a problem, Rarity?” Vice-Principal Luna asked.

“Not at all, Vice-Principal Luna,” Rarity said, “I'll be heading to class now.”

“See that you do,” Luna said before walking off. Rarity caught up with her friends and they walked to their next class.

“What was that about?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Something I needed to investigate for my mission,” Rarity said, “It would be too complicated to explain, but I needed to see Luna face to face.”

“This is about another version of her, isn't it?” Fluttershy asked, “Like, one of her selves is an evil witch or something?”

“If what I felt was correct, darling, then not just one of her selves is an evil witch. More like all of them.”

Rarity knew they were confused. Honestly, she was confused too. She didn't know how it was possible, but she could tell by her eyes. Somehow, in someway, Vice Principal Luna… recognized her.

And based off that glare, she wasn't too happy to see her.

After returning back from school, Rarity and Fluttershy gathered their things and went back to Medieval. Applejack had told all the knights to let them through the second they arrived, so they were able to go right inside the castle. Rarity rushed to Twilight's room, worried about whether her friend was okay.

When she reached the medical area though, she was horrified to see that it was empty.

“T-Twilight…?” Rarity asked looking around. Her hands were shaking as she walked to the bed which was now empty, “No… I can't be…” she was alerted by a side door opening. She looked and saw a sight that brought tears of joy. Walking out of the room…

Was Twilight.

play song

“Hey Rarity,” Twilight said with a soft smile, “You did it.”

Rarity's breathing picked up, and she looked at Twilight wide eyed, still shedding tears of absolute joy. She slowly walked over to Twilight, but then ran to her embracing her tightly.

“You're alive!” Rarity sobbed, “I was so… worried!”

“You were…?” Twilight asked, a shocked and touched expression on her face.

“YES!” Rarity looked into Twilight's eyes, “While you were hurt, I realized just how much you truly mean to me! Not having you next to me, healing me, holding me when I'm unable to stand, it was too much! I can't do this without you, Twilight! I…”

“Shh…” Twilight placed a finger of Rarity's lips, “I understand, Rarity. I'm… I'm so happy…!” now she was shedding tears of joy, “All while I was sick, I was worried about you! I kept thinking, what if she's crying? What if she's scared? I can't be there to hold her! But you're here! You're here, and you're okay!”

“Promise me, that you'll never cease being my light,” Rarity said.

“I promise, Rarity,” Twilight said placing a hand on Rarity's cheek, “I'll be your light, always and forever.”

The two of them touched foreheads, laughing happily as they were in each other's arms. Now Rarity felt whole again. While Fluttershy was her best friend back home, Twilight here had been with Rarity since the beginning of her journey. At first she was worried about bringing her along, but now she couldn't imagine Twilight not being there.

She was going to make sure she'd stay safe, no matter what.

As they held each other, DASH-379, Applejack, and Fluttershy all walked into the room smiling at them. DASH had an arm around Fluttershy's shoulder while Applejack sat down on a nearby chair with her arms folded.

“Now this feels right,” Applejack said, “You two must really love each other.”

“I do,” Rarity said looking into Twilight's eyes lovingly, “I love her so much.”

“I am just happy that our team is back together,” DASH-379 said, “Seriously, having to go so long without your healing magic is nerve wracking. I cannot fight as well as I want.”

“You know there's a remedy for that, right?” Twilight asked, “You could try to dodge a little more when you fight.”

“That takes too much extra work, having to focus on fighting and dodging. Why do that when I have the best healer backing me up?” DASH asked.

“Since was dodging a separate program?” Applejack asked tauntingly. All of them laughed, Rarity laughing the loudest of all of them. She felt almost at peace being with this group. It felt almost like she was surrounded by her actual friends.

I know… it's not really them.

But please… let me have this illusion for a little while.

play song

“So, were you able to find the Luna in Standard?” Applejack asked Rarity, who nodded. They decided to just stay in the medical room, DASH-379 and Fluttershy standing close to the door keeping watch.

“Yes, and based on how she looked at me, I think she did recognize me,” Rarity stated.

“You don't really think that Luna is connected to Lavos, do you?” Twilight asked, “I mean, Vice-Principal Luna has always been a little scary, but evil?”

“But we've seen alters of other people before,” Rarity pointed out, “Remember, we've seen Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie, and none of them feel like they're the same person exactly.”

“I can concur with that statement,” DASH-379 said, “When I met the Fluttershy from Standard, the only similarities I could detect were in their DNA. Beyond that, they were completely different people.”

“What about Luna?” Fluttershy asked.

“With both the Viceroy and the Chief, I detected an odd energy signature. It was causing me to register them as the same person in my database,” DASH explained.

Twilight looked down thoughtfully, “You know, I think I sensed something similar. Not with Luna though.”

“With who then?” Applejack asked.

“With… Celestia,” Twilight said, “When I met the Seer from Forest, she looked at me as if she recognized me, and something inside of me felt like I was talking to the Celestia from home.”

“Come to think of it, the Celestia from Standard felt an awful a lot like my own,” Rarity stated, “When I first arrived there, she was the only person who felt remotely correct.”

“What if… Celestias from worlds are same person?” Fluttershy asked.

“That can't be possible,” Applejack said, “I mean… could it?”

“If both Celestia and Luna have some sort of temporal connection with their alters, then it is possible,” DASH-379 stated, “It might explain how both Seer Celestia and Queen Celestia are capable of receiving visions.”

“Like some sort of telepathic communication among their inter-dimensional counterparts?” Rarity asked.

“Affirmative,” DASH said, “The Celestias and Lunas are sharing information among one another. It is possible they have been monitoring our movements for quite some time.”

“Hold on then,” Applejack asked, “DASH, do you think that one of the other Celestias would know where my Queen is?”

“That is definitely a possibility,” DASH-379 stated, “But for safety reasons, we would have to find a Celestia that is not under surveillance by Luna.”

“That means the Celestia from Forest is out of the questions,” Applejack said, “The Chief might be using her position to keep the Seer under watch.”

“By that logic, we can't count on the Celestia from Standard either,” Rarity said, “They're co-workers after all.”

“What about Celestia from DASH's world?” Fluttershy asked, “We not ever meet her.”

“True, but we can't be certain that she's not being watched by Luna already,” Rarity stated.

“What if… Celestia is in hiding?” Twilight asked, “And we spoke to her without even knowing it.”

It took a second, but Rarity, DASH-379, and Fluttershy all gasped in shock.

“Solaris!” they all cried at the same time. Twilight nodded before continuing.

“Here's the scenario I propose. Mind you, this is only a hypothesis, but it makes the most sense,” Twilight stood up and paced around the room, “Medieval Celestia is captured first. She's still in contact with her other selves, so she warns them to be wary of Luna. Machine Celestia manages to go into hiding, but Forest and Standard Celestias get caught by Luna. Both of them are in positions where if they vanished suddenly it would cause a red flag.”

“So Luna just stays close to them,” Applejack said, “Making sure they don't do anything too crazy.”

“Exactly,” Twilight said, “If we assume that they've been waiting for Rarity, who's this Chrono Trigger or whatever, then once she appears before Standard Celestia, she warns the others.”

“Seer Celestia makes sure to send us to Machine, where the only free Celestia is currently,” Rarity said, “It's there that she helps us learn about Lavos,” Rarity gasped, “Twilight, Seer Celestia told us that Lavos is the key!”

“Yep, she also told us that we'd find DASH in the next world, and she had a gate key prepared for us,” Twilight added.

“The gate you used must have been an unstable one,” DASH-379 said, “If you use a gate key on an unstable gate, it sends you directly to the world of the gate key's origins. Forest Celestia knew where the key would take you.”

“It really sounds like our best bet is to go to Machine and speak to the Celestia there,” Applejack said before shuddering, “Which means traveling to another world. Great…”

“Then I say we get going now,” Rarity said, “Before you-know-who warns her Machine self.”

Rarity and her team slowly made their way out of the castle, as usual Fluttershy and DASH-379 taking the lead to watch out for Viceroy Luna. Nothing was for certain yet, but it was better to be safe than sorry. Once they were out of the castle, they ran as fast as they could to the warp gate, heading right to Machine.

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“Damn it…” Luna said watching them leave from her window, “I can't have them moving too much without me knowing. Pinkamena, come to me.”

Pinkamena stepped out of the shadows and bowed.

“You called, Mistress?” Pinkamena asked.

“I want you to head to Machine. That's the only place not under my full watch. I will watch them from Forest and Standard,” Luna commanded.

“Yes, Nightmare Moon,” Pinkamena said the a sinister smile, “I will do as you command.”