Adventures on the Friendship Express

by GreenS21


Interstellar Finale, Pt. II

AQUARIUM PARK

Upon exiting the ring, the fox found that he had been right; everyone was standing on a path in a new area of the park that looked like a mix of Eastern culture and what lay under the sea. “Now what’s this place called?” Shining was asking.

“The Aquarium Park,” Sonic replied. He turned to Tails as the Warp Ring shrunk down and landed in the fox’s hand and asked, “Why’d you pick here, Tails? Why not, uh, Planet Wisp or even the Sweet Mountain?” He glanced in Pinkie’s direction as he finished, sure that the pink pony was all ears at the mention of that name.

Tails rubbed the back of his head with his free hand as he tucked the ring away, “Sorry. I was trying to set the ring for Planet Wisp, but then I thought of Sweet Mountain and when I heard that announcement about the space pops, I thought of Aquarium Park instead.”

Fluttershy asked, “Why did that make you think of this place, Tails? Did something bad happen here?”

The fox groaned, “Yeah, one of the worst experiences I had here…”

Before anyone could ask, they heard Eggman’s voice again, “This exotic aquarium contains many rare and endangered species. Enjoy them with a delicious soy glaze at the Bucket O’ Sushi restaurant.”

Sonic stuck out his tongue and groaned, “Ugh. I had to wait until after we were done up here and back on Earth to find a decent sushi joint, especially after Tails stopped at that place.”

Applejack looked at Tails, “It was bad, huh?”

The fox replied, “I said it before and I’ll say it again: his cruelty knows no bounds.”

Shining said, “Okay, so even if we hadn’t eaten lunch or had managed to lose it while we were at the Asteroid Coaster, the Bucket O’ Sushi would be off the list.”

Twilight looked up and asked, “Is this in some kind of dome? It looks like there’s water outside.”

Sonic nodded, “Yeah. We got in here by falling down a long tube that was connected to the entrance. Probably a good thing we skipped that part.”

Spike looked at Rarity and asked, “Are you feeling better, Rarity?”

The white unicorn answered, “I think so, Spike.” She looked at the others, “Can we walk around here for just a little bit? Applejack and I should start feeling better soon.”

Sonic said, “Sure. Let’s just stay out of the water. Don’t need either of you getting seasickness on top of space sickness.”

As they all started walking, Twilight looked at him and asked, “You’re also saying that because you can’t swim, right?”

Sonic replied nonchalantly, “Partly. I’m also saying it because there are fish ‘bots in the water and, uh, I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like getting ‘chummy’ with a shark today.”

Shining noted, “That’s definitely not something I had on my list of things to do. Like, ever.”

EXOTIC AQUARIUM

While walking, they heard Eggman’s voice over another loudspeaker, “Welcome to the exotic aquarium! Any water you may notice on the floor is the result of our diligent housecleaning staff’s mopping and not evidence of a dangerous leak in the… oh, heck with it! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!”

Cadance looked at Sonic and Tails and asked, “Did you notice any leaking water last time you were both here?”

Sonic replied, “I didn’t, and I ran past a bunch of water tanks while looking for the generator here.”

Tails nodded, “I didn’t notice any problems either, and the Wisps sent it back along with the other planets after Eggman was defeated.”

Fluttershy asked, “So, um… all the planets we’ve been to so far were all taken by Dr. Eggman?”

Tails thought for a moment before saying, “Well, I don’t know about the Starlight Carnival. I think that might’ve just drifted off into space after it was cut loose.”

Rainbow said, “Imagine if it drifted off into the Asteroid Coaster.”

Before anyone could reply, they all heard another announcement, “Water you waiting for? Climb aboard the exotic aquarium for a boatload of- argh, who writes this drivel?”

A voice that Sonic and Tails recognized piped up a few moments later, “You do, boss.”

Eggman spoke up again after another few moments, “Oh you’re right, I do! Ha ha, I’m hilarious!”

Sonic grunted, “Glad he’s so proud of his terrible attempts to be clever.”

Tails countered, “Hey, you make jokes like that all the time, Sonic.”

The blue hedgehog replied, “Yeah, but at least I’m not reading off a script. None of my puns are planned in advance.”

Tails said, “I guess that’s true.”

As they continued on, they all looked at the buildings built along the sides of the path, Spike and the ponies noticing their oriental architecture. “These are very interesting building designs. I’ve never really seen any built like these before,” Cadance commented.

“They look very similar to the buildings we saw in Chun-Nan. Was Dr. Eggman trying to diversify the park?” Twilight wondered.

“Probably not,” Sonic shrugged.

Before Twilight could respond, a loudspeaker blurted out, “Arr, mateys! Experience the honest denizens of the seven seas in Captain Eggman’s amazing underwater aquarium! …This is really embarrassing…”

Rainbow spoke, “Wow. He thinks he’s embarrassed? That was embarrassing to listen to.”

Spike shrugged, “Hey, at least he admitted it.”

Tails said, “It’s also embarrassing because there aren’t really any pirate themes here. The Egg Pawns here were dressed as samurais.”

Shining stopped, as did everyone else, and turned to the fox, asking, “Dressed as what?”

Tails repeated, “Samurais.” He received blank looks from Spike and the ponies. “Eastern soldiers?” he tried, receiving more blank looks in response. He sighed, “Yeah, all right, ninjas.”

A collective “Ohhhhhh!” rose up from everyone staring at him, followed by Rainbow asking, “So does that mean they’re able to do what Espio can do?”

Tails replied, “Well, I think they were able to be teleported in, but other than that, no. I’m pretty sure Eggman couldn’t design a robot capable of what Espio can do by himself.”

Pinkie suddenly popped up between Sonic and Tails and hugged them with her forelegs as she said, “Great! Then there’s nothing for us to worry about!” She started trotting forward again, “Let’s go! I want to see the town!”

After a moment, Tails added, “And he DEFINITELY couldn’t make a robot that could do that.”

A short while later, they passed through a gate and began walking through the streets of the town. As they walked, Eggman interrupted the silence with another announcement, “Enjoy the rides, and remember, in case of an emergency your seat cushion may be used as a flotation device. It won't actually float, but you can use it as one.” Nobody felt there was a need to comment on what he was saying and continued to look around. A little later, they heard him again, “Remember to try out the new and improved waterslides, now with twenty percent less raw sewage!”

Rainbow perked up at that. “Hey, he stole that from me!” she exclaimed.

Sonic looked over at the pegasus with a raised eyebrow, “What are you talking about, Dash?”

Rainbow turned to him, “That twenty percent thing! That’s my line! He’s using it in his announcements without my permission, and the worst part is that someone like him is even using it, not to mention for something like this park!”

Tails shrugged after a moment, “Okay, so… what are you going to do, Rainbow? I think it’s a little too late for a lawsuit; the park was already destroyed before this whole mess started, so it’s not like any guests would actually hear it.”

Before Rainbow could respond, Rarity spoke, “Rainbow darling, enough! Applejack and I are feeling much better now, so we don’t have to stay here much longer. Let’s just see a little more and then we can go.”

Although she was still a bit annoyed, Rainbow agreed to drop it and followed the others as they continued on. Before she did, though, she looked up at the loudspeaker and muttered, “You just watch yourself, fat man. Next time I see you, we’re gonna have some words.” She hurried after the others as she murmured, “Catch me off-guard like that… Well, it isn’t gonna happen next time!”

OBSERVING MARINE LIFE

Shortly after exiting the town, the road they were on came to an end and they found themselves looking down into a deep, long pool of water. Beneath the water’s surface they could see various types of fishes, corals, and sponges, all as they would look and act as if they were in their natural habitat and not a part of an evil genius’ scheme. “Oh my… This is so amazing… So beautiful…” Fluttershy breathed.

An announcement snapped her out of the moment, “The mighty ocean, cradle of life, trivialized for your amusement at Eggman's Incredible Interstellar Amusement Park.”

After a moment, Cadance said, “Well, trivial or not, this isn’t something that everypony gets to see.”

Twilight looked at Sonic and asked, “Are all of the viewing tanks like this?”

The blue hedgehog replied, “There are some others too, mainly the ones where you look through the glass at the fishes.”

Rarity said, “Ooh! Let’s look at some of those before we go.”

Applejack groaned, “Rarity, do we have to?” Now that she was getting over her space sickness, the orange earth pony was feeling reluctant to continue indulging the fashionista’s requests.

Rarity turned to her friend, “Oh, come now, Applejack. You heard what Princess Cadance said; this is a rare opportunity for us, especially since we’ll never get to see this park and appreciate its nicer points again. Let’s do what Rainbow suggested before and see as much of the park as we can before we leave.” Although she felt that they were wasting time that would be better spent setting things right again, Applejack reluctantly agreed.

After making their way over the water and going through a few short areas, the group eventually found the tanks they were looking for. The glass holding the water in was clean and was made of a clear material, making it easy for them to see the marine life living in the tanks. As they walked and looked, they heard Eggman’s voice again, “Please avoid breaking the glass, as it is the only thing between you and ten million gallons of freezing wet death.”

Twilight flatly remarked, “Subtle.”

Shining nodded, “Yeah. If he had to follow the rules, there’s no way he’d be allowed to say that. So many parents would have a fit.”

Pinkie called from ahead, “Ooh, look in this one! Octopuses!”

As they all made their way over, Twilight corrected, “I believe the correct term is ‘octopi’, Pinkie.”

As they all peered into the tank, another announcement came, “To avoid embarrassing hickies, please refrain from arm wrestling the octopi.”

Applejack said, “Someone would have ta be nuts ta jump in there and wrestle with one o’ these things. Did he really think that was going ta happen?”

Tails shrugged, “Well, maybe if an octopus got out. They’re pretty notorious for that.”

Rarity looked at the fox and asked, “What else is there left to see in this park, Tails?”

Tails replied, “Well, the only place in the park we haven’t been to yet is the Tropical Resort. It’s supposed to be the first stop for all of the park visitors, but we’ve ended up managing to avoid needing to go there this entire time.”

Applejack sighed, “Well, let’s go and fix that so we can finish our ‘tour’ and figure out what else we need ta do ta get back on the road.” She glanced at Rarity as she added, “As long as that’s okay, RARITY.”

The fashionista glanced at the farmer and ignored what she was implying as she replied, “Of course, Applejack. I’ve had my fill of this beautiful aquarium. We can move on.” Tails quietly breathed a sigh of relief as he brought out the Warp Ring and set it for the Tropical Resort, everyone walking into it once it was ready.

TROPICAL RESORT

Upon coming out on the other side of the ring, the group once again saw the blackness of space above them, but now it wasn’t as empty as Starlight Carnival and Asteroid Coaster had been. Around them were brightly lit buildings and straightforward paths that were either made of stone, glass, or metal. Above them, fireworks were going off and to their sides was a pair of rectangle-shaped reflecting pools, and even from where they were standing, they could see palm trees and carved wooden faces.

“Ooh! This is the Tropical Resort? This looks so luxurious and relaxing!” Rarity said.

Pinkie bounced over to the pool on her left and looked down at her reflection. “Ooh! Look at this pretty, shiny water!” she said.

An announcement caught everyone’s attention, “Please refrain from throwing coins, trash, or small children into the reflecting pools.”

Cadance made a face at the last part. “Who would throw their child into a pool?” she asked. Sonic just shrugged in reply.

Twilight looked at him and Tails, “So this is where Eggman wanted tourists to start their outer space vacation, regardless of whether they came up on their own or because he controlled them to?”

Tails nodded, “Yep. It’s a real paradise here. Breathtaking views from the giant Ferris wheel, amazing deals at the shopping mall, and, of course, constant risk of bodily harm.”

Sonic started walking as he added, “Funny that he never mentions the view here. For me, it’s the best part.”

As he and the others followed after him, Shining asked, “What view?”

Sonic pointed ahead as he looked back, “Over here.” He stopped a little further up and looked up and off to the left, everyone doing the same. They instantly saw that he was looking up at Earth, the Tropical Resort offering a perfect view of the blue planet. Unsurprisingly, the Equestrians were amazed by their first proper look at another planet.

“Whoa…” Rainbow breathed.

“So this is what it’s like to see another planet like this…” Twilight murmured.

Sonic spoke, “I did like the Tropical Resort for this view and all the green here… as long as it was the right type of green.”

Applejack looked at him and asked, “What other kind o’ green is there, Sugar-hog?”

An announcement from Eggman answered her question, “We here at Eggman's Incredible Interstellar Amusement Park consider ourselves the universe's first fully green amusement park… although the green is from all the nausea and vomiting, but still, green is green.”

Applejack looked back at Sonic, “Oh.”

Tails said, “Again, I don’t know how that could be the case when the park was never open to the public, unless Eggman tested things himself and got sick.”

Sonic nodded, “Yeah, I don’t think robots can puke. I think they can only get puked out.”

The group soon started moving again and passed under a large lit archway that said ‘WELCOME’. As they continued, Rainbow asked, “So aside from the Ferris wheel, shopping, and getting beat up, what passes for fun here?”

Once again, an answer came via an announcement, “The following rides are closed for repairs: the ‘Free Money Ride’, ‘It's an All-You-Can-Eat World’, and ‘Pick a Car, Any Car’.”

Applejack rolled her eyes, “Huh, Ah can’t imagine why the first one would be closed.”

Sonic chuckled, “I wonder if the ride is like a money shower. Just a bunch of different kinds of bills just coming out of the openings.”

Tails shuddered, “I would hope it’s that and not something like silver dollars instead, but this is Eggman we’re talking about.”

Pinkie whined, “Aw! ‘It’s an All-You-Can-Eat World’ sounds like the best ride ever!”

Rarity said, “Oh, don’t worry, Pinkie. I’m sure there are plenty of other rides that are still in order. There’s bound to be something almost as fun.”

Another announcement came from a loudspeaker, “Enjoy every moment in the luxurious grounds as if they might be your last, ESPECIALLY if you’re a meddlesome hedgehog, or his fawning sidekick.”

Tails uttered, “I think ‘fawning’ is a gross overstatement…”

Twilight said, “I’m sure if he knew us, he would’ve singled us out as well.”

Rainbow smirked, “Yeah.” She then tried to imitate Eggman’s voice, “Also if you’re a nerdy bookworm, her dragon-breath assistant, an awesome Wonderbolts recruit, an apple-selling earth pony, a shy animal-loving pegasus, a drama queen, or an overly excited party planner.” She noticed some of her friends giving her dirty looks and shrugged, “What? It sounds like something he’d say, doesn’t it?”

Applejack admitted, “Yeah, Ah guess, and Ah guess it’s kinda funny. Still, Rainbow…”

Another announcement cut her off, “Would Sonic the Hedgehog please report to the security office? Sonic the Hedgehog, please report to the security office. We found your... uh... YOUR KEYS! Yes, that's it, we found your keys. No need to be ready for a trap, since we only want to return your keys!”

Pinkie popped up next to the blue hedgehog, “Ooh! We’d better go get your keys before they disappear forever, Sonic!”

The blue hedgehog looked at her with half-lidded eyes, “Pinkie… I don’t even carry my keys with me. How could I lose them?” Pinkie’s expression changed to a thoughtful as though she was seriously considering his question. “I’m sorry I asked…” Sonic muttered after a moment.

As they continued exploring, Shining noted, “Hey… it’s been a while since we’ve seen any Egg Pawns.”

Fluttershy helpfully offered, “Maybe the ‘constant risk of bodily harm’ that Tails mentioned is something Dr. Eggman made up for fun.”

Sonic shrugged, “Well, his sense of fun is pretty weird, so… why not?”

They soon heard another announcement, “Would the owner of white hovercar shaped like an egg please report to the front desk? Your car has been broken into. Repeat, would the owner of a white hovercar shaped like an egg please report to the front desk? Your car has been broken in- Wait a minute, what the heck?!”

Tails gave a laugh before saying, “Oh yeah, there was another announcement somewhere about it being okay for visitors to leave their valuables in their cars since there’s chance that they’ll be broken into. Guess even Eggman isn’t exempt from it.”

After a little while, Rainbow spoke, “We haven’t seen anything for a while now. Maybe we should just leave now.”

Pinkie piped up, “Aw, I want to at least get a ride on the Ferris wheel! Can we, can we, can we?!” Before anyone could say anything, she suddenly let out a loud gasp and she felt numerous pinches in her knee, the leg shaking as a result.

Noticing the way her leg was shaking, Tails carefully asked, “Are you doing that, Pinkie, or is that…?”

Pinkie looked at him gravely, “Something scary is about to happen…”

THE BIG EVENT

A loud crackling sound suddenly filled the air, quickly becoming louder and more frequent as a purple light began to shine from above. Looking up, everyone saw that four large towers that had purple electricity running up and down them had spread out from the space elevator, a purple ring of energy forming at the tops as they began to shine brighter. Every single light in the Tropical Resort then went out as four more towers along the resort’s circumference rose up, channeling their purple electricity into the ring and causing it to expand outwards.

A few seconds later, an explosion sounded from near the top of one of the inner towers, the explosion traveling downwards and destroying the tower, part of the Tropical Resort (which the group could see was far ahead of them, thankfully), and the outer tower across from it. The destruction of the two towers sent streaks of purple energy flying off into space, one of them hitting and spreading out over the Moon. The group’s focus, however, was on the purple black hole that was growing where the ring of energy had been and the purple energy that was leaking out due to the destruction, the park’s power source soon draining away to nothing.

Twilight, Cadance, and Shining’s horns all lit up with light to counter the darkness, Twilight asking, “Is everyone all right?!”

Applejack answered after checking to make sure everyone was still present, “Ah think so, Twi’! What the hay just happened?!”

Tails answered, “This is the start of the destruction of Eggman’s park!” He looked over at the burning section of the Tropical Resort, “So that’s how it happened. Somehow, one of the cannons exploded, releasing Hyper-go-on energy.”

Sonic asked him, “How come we didn’t notice ANY of this before? We were there and all we felt was the ground shaking; we didn’t even see this place go dark!”

Tails replied, “Um, now’s not the time to be sweating the details.” He looked up at the black hole again, “Now’s the time to be getting away from THAT!”

TIME TO BAIL... AGAIN!

A loudspeaker that was floating by seemed to agree with him, “CRITICAL SYSTEMS FAILURE! Repeat, CRITICAL SYSTEMS FAILURE! All attraction access is temporarily suspended. Please evacuate the park via the emergency exit ahead. THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!!!”

Pinkie grinned weakly at the others, “I guess we can skip the Ferris wheel…”

Rarity looked at Tails, “Please tell me we still have our emergency exit, Tails…”

The fox nodded, “Coming right up!” In one quick motion, he pulled out the Warp Ring and threw it behind him, the ring expanding to its full size after a second. Sonic and Tails ran over to it and grabbed it, the latter saying, “Come on, everybody!”

Everyone tried to move towards the ring, but the black hole was already starting to get bigger and its power was growing along with it. Bits of the ground started getting pulled up into the blackness, causing Twilight, Shining, and Cadance’s concentration to waver and their lights to go out, making it harder to see what was breaking away.

Suddenly, Spike let out a cry as he felt himself getting pulled up off the ground. “Spike!” Twilight cried as she leapt up for him, the black hole starting to pull her up as well. Seeing this, Sonic let go of the Warp Ring and leapt up, using his Boost to shoot through the air and grab them both, Twilight under his left arm and Spike against his right shoulder.

SPEEDY ESCAPE

He began to feel weightless a few seconds later, the black hole starting to pull him up too. Realizing this, Twilight relit her horn and looked around. She soon spotted a palm tree that wasn’t far away, the trunk and leaves shaking as its roots, for the moment, kept it from getting pulled up. Working quickly, she used her magic to uproot it and get it under Sonic’s feet, the blue hedgehog using it to Boost again, shooting for the ground while the tree was pulled up into the black hole.

Sonic managed to slam his feet against the ground and turned to see that the Warp Ring was still open, though judging by the two magic auras surrounding it, Cadance and Shining were trying to keep it from getting pulled away as well. He shot towards it, seeing Rainbow, Shining, and Cadance helping Rarity, Fluttershy, and Pinkie through the ring while Tails kept it open. He reached the ring after the three ponies made it through and quickly threw Twilight and Spike through the portal too. The five of them looked up for a moment when they heard the sound of a firework going off, seeing the shape of Eggman’s face illuminated in purple against the stars, before they all scrambled into the ring, Shining and Cadance going first with Sonic, Tails, and Rainbow squeezing in after them. Without the magic hold on it, the ring started getting pulled up towards the black hole, but it shrunk down and disappeared before it could reach it.

________________________________________

FINAL TRIALS CLEARED

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as they rested on and along the sides of the train tracks, happy to be surrounded by near-complete whiteness rather than near-complete blackness with purple coming ever closer from above. “Well, that was a close call,” Spike breathed.

“Uh, yep. Ah certainly didn’t expect to have a close call like we did with that cave at the start of our trip. What else is there?” Applejack asked.

Tails was checking his radar at the moment as he sat up, checking everything carefully to make sure he wasn’t seeing it wrong. He then spoke, “Uh, guys? I’ve got some good news. I’m not picking up any of the four portal signatures, so this confirms that the similar readings were due to them all connecting to the other planets in the amusement park. By going on that tour, we basically closed them all at once!”

Everyone perked up at that. “Really?!” Shining asked.

“Yep! And if I’m not mistaken, there’s nothing else open up ahead! At the moment, we have a straight shot to Canterlot!” Tails said.

Rainbow spread her wings and flapped them so she was hovering over everyone. “Well, come on, then! Everybody back on the train! Let’s go before anything else slows us down!” she urged. Everyone agreed and quickly got up and ran back to the train, Tails and Pinkie taking the engine while everyone else headed back to the passenger car, hoping to recover a bit from the ordeal before they arrived.

While Pinkie took control of the train again, Tails turned around and pulled out the Warp Ring, holding it in the palm of his right hand as he looked down at it. The ring looked like it always did, but Tails could see that what he thought he saw earlier was true: the luster it usually had was gone, which meant it was running low on energy. Using it anymore would probably drain it completely, and while that wouldn’t make it completely worthless, it would surely make it unusable for a long time.

The fox kit thought to himself, “I should probably give it a quick recharge with one of the Chaos Emeralds. It might not be as much of a gateway as it is now once we stop that monster, but this is still a rare instance where we’ve been able to get our hands on one of these. It could still be useful to us, so…

His thoughts were interrupted when Pinkie called, “Chugga-chugga, choo-choo! Canterlot, here we come!” Tails turned to look at her and saw that she had somehow gotten her pilot’s hat and neckerchief back and was standing on two legs again as she manned the controls. Turning back to the window, he walked over to it and peered out, seeing the city getting closer by the second and no sign of anything that could keep them from reaching it.

As he continued to look out the window, Tails slipped the ring back into one of his namesakes and thought, “Better keep it hidden the way it is for now. It wouldn’t be good if that creature got a hold of it, and I can just give it a quick recharge if we find ourselves in a situation where we need it. I’m sure I’ll remember that.” He nodded to reassure himself and kept looking out the window, watching as their final stop started to come into view…