From Far Beyond

by Jade Dawn

Chapter 1: Vanishing Act

From Far Beyond

A “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” Fanfiction

Written by Jade Dawn

“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” is owned by Hasbro. I own none of the characters except the ones I have created for this story.

Chapter 1: Vanishing Act

Fizzlepop Berrytwist, also known to some as Tempest Shadow, formerly the right hand of the Storm King and the terror of the lands outside Equestria, couldn't for the life of her remember the last time she had been to Manehattan. For that matter, she couldn't remember the last time she had been on a train, either. And on top of all that, she was pretty certain she had never found herself sitting right next to an actual princess of Equestria before.

And yet, here she was, doing all three simultaneously.

She took another look out the window, watching as the towering skyscrapers of Equestria's largest metropolis continued to loom ever taller as the train grew closer. She was able to pick out some of the more iconic landmarks, like the Crystaller Building and the Mare Statue, almost instantly, having looked them up in a travel brochure that she had read earlier. Beside her, Princess Twilight Sparkle, the mare who was the sole reason for Equestria's continued existence, and the reason for Fizzlepop's redemption in the first place, continued to read and re-read the letter that had urgently summoned them to the city. Apart from the two mares, there were few other ponies in their car, which seemed a little unusual (although Fizzlepop had her suspicions).

"Did the mayor say why he wanted us to come here?" Fizzlepop asked, trying to break the uncomfortable silence that had persisted since they first got on.

"He didn't say a whole lot," Twilight replied, looking over the letter once more. "He just wrote that something big has come up, and they need some 'assistance' from somepony whose an expert in magical anomalies."

"I take it they meant you?" Fizzlepop asked, gesturing to her companion.

"I guess," Twilight shrugged. "Although I can't understand why they didn't call up somepony like Princess Celestia."

"Well, I suppose it's because you're the Element of Magic. It kind of signifies a bit of experience in that field. That, and I guess they can't call Celestia because of..." her voice trailed off. "Well...because of me."

She felt a pang in her chest as the events that had brought her to this point played in her mind: her assault on Equestria in the name of the Storm King, her subsequent betrayal by him, her rescue by Princess Twilight...even after the two months that had passed since her attack, redemption, and forgiveness by Twilight and her friends, it still felt like an open wound that would never fully heal.

Twilight put a hoof on Fizzlepop's shoulder. "Fizzlepop, that part of your life is over. You've made it very clear that you regret what happened, and that you want to change. You don't have to let it rule your thoughts."

Fizzlepop smiled a little bit, but only a little. That was another one of those things that kept whirling through her head: that the very mare that she had hunted and captured to have her magic forked over to an insane despot was also the very same pony who had repeatedly gone to bat for her in the recent months, whether it was against disgruntled critics, or even politicians and nobles.

More amazing still was how readily Princess Twilight had asked her to become her student. Her previous one–some mare named Starburst or Starlight or something like that (she honestly couldn't remember her name)–had graduated and moved to the Crystal Empire prior to the invasion. There was apparently a vacancy that Twilight felt Fizzlepop could fill, and her friends seemed to agree.

She remembered how shocked she had been when Twilight pitched the idea to her. Her jaw had almost dropped in disbelief when she heard it. "But you know full well I can't do magic," she had said. "How am I supposed to be the student of the Element of Magic when I can't do it in the first place?"

Twilight had smiled reassuringly and said, "There's more to this world than magic, Fizzlepop. It took me a little while to learn that, but eventually I did. And I know you can too."

Fizzlepop never forgot those words.

If only I could forget the other parts, she thought unhappily. The "other parts" were few in number, but very much impactful upon Fizzlepop's life; her past, her reputation, her shattered horn, her cutie mark...

Oh, yes. The cutie mark. Or rather, the lack thereof. She'd never really thought much of it when she was serving the Storm King. It was just another childish setback that ponies held so frustratingly dear. But those had been Tempest Shadow's thoughts. Now she was Fizzlepop Berrytwist, and her lack of a cutie mark had become rather problematic, to say the least. She'd almost been too embarrassed to take off the Storm Army armor that she had worn for so long, for fear of further ridicule. Much to her relief, though, the Elements hadn't harped too much upon it. It was just another thing that they'd work out in time.

Fizzlepop was abruptly pulled away from her self-reflection by the sound of Twilight's voice. "Are you doing all right? You've been very quiet for most of the trip."

Fizzlepop pulled herself away from the window. "Huh? Oh. I was just...admiring the scenery, I guess."

Twilight nodded. "It is pretty spectacular to look at."

"Do you come here often?"

Twilight shook her head. "Not much. Usually for official business. The last time I was here, me and the girls were helping Rarity set up a shop here. Kind of a long story."

Fizzlepop nodded. "But why me?" she suddenly asked.

Twilight looked a little surprised. "What do you mean?"

Fizzlepop paused before explaining. "It's just that...every time you've had to go out of Ponyville for something lately, you always bring me along. I mean, I get that I'm supposed to be your student now, it really necessary for me to come along for everything? Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset about it or anything. I'm just curious."

"Well," Twilight began. "For the one, most of my other friends have other obligations right now. Rainbow's off with the Wonderbolts practicing for a show, Applejack is helping with cider season back on the farm, Rarity and Pinkie have their businesses to worry about, Fluttershy's got her animal sanctuary, and of course Starlight moved out..."

"What about Spike?"

"He wanted to stay and help Rarity. You know how he jumps up to help her like he does," Twilight said with a slight giggle.

"Yeah..." Fizzlepop said, smiling a little at the thought of the young dragon's crush on Rarity. "But, uh, getting back to the other thing?..."

"Oh. Right. be honest, I'm really trying to get ponies used to seeing you around. I figure if they see you in my company, maybe they'll grow more accepting of you."

" figure they'll trust me more if they see that you trust me first?"

"Yeah. I suppose so."

Fizzlepop let this sink in. "I mean...I get that you're trying to help, still isn't the best feeling when we're going somewhere and I see them looking all of this," she said, gesturing to her horn. "Seeing them watch me, hearing their whispers...sometimes I wish I had just gone with Grubber and Capper and the pirates. You know, just sail away from it all, make a new name for myself in some other land...if there are lands we didn't touch yet..."

Twilight sighed. "I know it's been hard. But we've been making a lot of progress. Most of Ponyville's certainly warmed up to you, and I know that–"

Their conversation was cut abruptly short by the sound of the train's brakes, and the conductor announcing their arrival at Manehattan's Central Station.

Twilight stood up from her seat. "We'll talk some more later, I promise. Right now, let's see what the mayor is so upset about."

They met the Mayor by the front doors of the train station. He was a middle-aged, light brown stallion with a black mane that showed a hint of grayness, some kind of legal document for a cutie mark, and wearing a suit and tie. He was pacing back and forth near the exit, biting his lip in an apparent fit of anxiety.

Upon seeing the Princess emerge from the train, he perked up quite rapidly, and practically bounded across the distance between them to meet her. "Princess Twilight! Oh, thank goodness you and–" he stopped short as soon as he saw Fizzlepop. "Oh. Um...I-I didn't think you were bringing anyone else..."

Fizzlepop strained to keep a frown off her face. That's not it. That's not it at all...

"Well," Twilight explained. "I don't really travel alone all too often. You know, Princess of Friendship and everything. I think you've already met my new student, Fizzlepop Berrytwist," she added with a gesture to the aforementioned mare. "Well, not really met her, I mean read about–er, what I mean, forget it. She's my student, and I brought her along to see a little bit of how the Elements and I handle problems. So...yeah."

Beside her, Fizzlepop gave him a nervous little smile. "Um...hello?"

The Mayor nodded slowly. "Yes, I, hello to you too, ma'am." His unease was becoming a rather obvious at this point.

Not wanting to linger upon the identity of her companion any longer, Twilight spoke up. "So, you wrote that there was an emergency down here. Something requiring an expert in magic. Would you mind explaining what it is?"

"Oh! Yes, of–of course. You see, your Highness, there's been an..." He hesitated, as though what the occurrence he was about to reveal was too horrible to be spoken. " abduction."

Twilight and Fizzlepop both looked surprised. "An abduction?" they said simultaneously.

"I'm afraid so," the Mayor affirmed. "You know what? I've got a carriage waiting for us outside. Perhaps we can discuss it on the way?"

Twilight shrugged. "Fine by me. Come on, Fizzlepop," she said as she began to follow the Mayor, her student coming up not too far behind.

"Mr. Mayor?" Fizzlepop asked. "With all due respect, isn't this a job for the police to handle? I don't really see how we could be of any help."

"Yes, you'd think so. You see..." he paused as they went through the large, ornate doors of the station. "Well, perhaps you'll understand a little bit better once you see it."

"Incidentally, do you know the name of who was abducted?" Twilight asked.

"Yes. Somepony named Coco Pommel. A Bridleway dressmaker, if I recall correctly."

Twilight did a double take. "Coco Pommel?" she asked, a surprised tone prevalent in her voice.

"You know her?" Fizzlepop inquired.

Twilight nodded. "She's a friend of Rarity's. She runs one of her stores up here. I can't imagine why anyone would want to kidnap her, though."

"What makes you say that?"

"She's just a dressmaker, and not a very wealthy one at that. I mean, it's not like she's on welfare or anything. She's doing all right financially, from what little I know, but not enough to warrant a ransom or anything like that. I just can't see the point in abducting her. It's very strange."

"Oh, believe me," the Mayor said. "That's not the strangest part of this whole mess. Not in the slightest."

The first thing that Twilight and Fizzlepop noticed as they neared Coco Pommel's apartment building in the Bronclyn District was the group of police officers surrounding the building. There were about eight or nine of them all together, and all the entrances and exits to the building were sealed off with yellow police tape. A few pedestrians stopped to look, only to be shooed away by the cops.

"You put the building on quarantine?" Fizzlepop asked as the trio stepped out of the taxi carriage.

"Yes," the Mayor replied. "Given the, um, sensitive nature of this case, we thought it best if we isolate the crime scene until further notice."

"Does the press have any knowledge of what's going on?" Twilight questioned.

The Mayor shook his head. "We thought it best if we keep it under wraps for now. The last thing we need is for the entirety of Manehattan to erupt into a panic. Believe me, we're already spooked enough as it is." He said a few words to one of the officers near the front entrance of the apartment building, who nodded and took down the tape for them to enter.

As the made their way up to the upper floors where Coco's actual apartment was located, Twilight couldn't help but notice the unusually empty hallways. "Did you have everypony move out of the building?" she asked in concern.

"Only temporarily," said the Mayor. "We've put them in some vacant hotel rooms around the city. We plan on having them move back when we have a general idea of what happened."

A kind of unease was beginning to fall upon Twilight's conscience. The fact that the Mayor had summoned her, a known expert in magic, to a crime scene that would ordinarily call for conventional police work was becoming more and more disturbing as she kept thinking about it. The whole thing was unsettling, to say the least.

You're overreacting, Twilight tried to assure herself. You and the girls have been through much worse. Chaos lords, timeline changes, parasitic shadow demons...this'll be easy compared to all of that. And yet, no matter how often she told herself that as the trio climbed the stairs to the apartment, Twilight still couldn't shake that feeling of anxiety.

She was suddenly drawn back to reality by the sound of the Mayor opening the door to one of the rooms. "Um, Princess? We're here."

They entered the apartment. For the most part, it reminded Twilight a lot of Rarity's place back in Ponyville, with the same kind of stylish furniture, materials and the occasional mannequin here and there. The only signs of the alleged abduction were the fact that the bedsheets were piled up on the floor, as though the bed's occupant had been pulled out and had dragged the sheets a little ways, and the fact that the doors to the outside balcony were wide open. Closer examination that the lock had been crudely picked, the door handles bent slightly.

"Did anyone actually see her get taken?" Fizzlepop asked as she looked around the room.

"No," the Mayor answered. "A few of the neighbors said they heard a scream, but by the time someone came in to check, she was already gone. And that's when they called in."

"Any hoof prints or anything like that?" Twilight asked.

"None whatsoever. It's completely thrown off the detectives."

Twilight thought for a moment. "Did anyone think of trying a locator spell?" she asked.

Fizzlepop was confused. "A what?"

"Uh, yes, a few of the unicorn detectives tried it. And we also brought in a couple of specialists from Canterlot to give it a go. But, you see..." he bit his lip nervously. "That's actually the part where we got thrown off."

"Do you mind if I try it?" Twilight asked.

The Mayor shrugged. "Help yourself. I'm not sure that it'll do much good, though."

"On the contrary," Twilight responded as she searched the room for something to cast the spell on. "It could prove to be very helpful." She finally spotted the sailor collar and tie, and the flower-shaped hairpin that she knew Coco Pommel often wore lying on a table beside the bed. She focused all of her concentration onto the hairpin, and her horn began to shimmer, with the pin wrapped in the same aura.

"I don't mean to be a bother," Fizzlepop asked. "But what exactly is a locator spell?"

Remembering that Fizzlepop had little to no actual experience with advanced magic, Twilight began to explain the spell. "It basically tracks the magical essence of a pony, using an object that they commonly use as the starting point. You see, ponies naturally leave a kind of magical imprint on the things that they interact with, kind of like a hoof print. But it usually takes a very advanced magic user to be able to detect that." She paused for a moment, letting her aura continue to wash over the pin, occasionally turning her head a little bit to one side or the other.

"I'm sorry, am I breaking your concentration?"

"No, no, it's fine. Just modulating the spell a little. Anyway, long story short, this spell will allow us to see where Coco Pommel has been. But I'm also modifying it a little to show us where she went."

Fizzlepop's face lit up with sudden understanding. "So it's basically a tracking beacon?"

"Yes, that's exactly right," Twilight said.

"Huh." Guess it was kind of obvious from the name, Fizzlepop thought.

"Aaaaaand...I think that does it."

Rather suddenly (so much so that Fizzlepop actually jumped back a little), a bright, pulsating blue light trailed off from the pin and spread across the floor in a wild, erratic web, tracing everywhere that Coco Pommel had traversed the room over the course of the past few days.

Twilight and her companions followed the trail as best they could around the room. It led right up to the bed, made a few tiny loops, and then suddenly went careening off across the floor...

...and toward the balcony doors, where the light line suddenly shot straight up into the air.

"They took her out the balcony," Fizzlepop deduced. "And then they must have climbed up to the roof, and..."

"...made their getaway," Twilight finished. She spread her wings, ready to fly out the window and follow the spell that way, but then stopped and folded them again. "Sorry. Shall we try the stairs?"

"Fine with me," the Mayor said.

The two mares bolted out of the apartment and made their way toward the stairwell, the Mayor puffing behind to keep up. "So once we get a good idea of where the trail leads," Twilight said as they ascended. "We'll be able to figure out what happened from there."

"Maybe," The Mayor replied. "But I don't think it'll be much different from before. You'll see why in a moment."

"Don't worry, Mr. Mayor," Twilight said as she threw open the door to the roof and caught sight of the locating spell's trail. "Between the two of us, Coco Pommel is going to be in good...hooves?"

Twilight skidded to a halt, and the other two stopped next to her. She was staring at the still pulsating spell trail, her eyes wide with confusion and concern.

The trail just stopped in midair. No fade-out, no nothing. It just quite simply stopped.

The Mayor shook his head. "Just like before," he muttered.

"Does this mean that she's..." Fizzlepop paused, as though not wanting to consider the possibility. "...dead?"

Twilight shook her head numbly as she stepped around the trail's cutoff point. "No. The light would go gray if that was the case. We could still detect the imprint, even if the subject is dead, but this..." She continued to shake her head in dismay as she stared at the failed results of her spell.

"One of the cops said it was like she just didn't exist anymore," The Mayor said. "Like she was ripped away from the world."

Fizzlepop gave Twilight a nervous look. "What does it mean, Princess?" she asked. "What's going on?"

For a moment, Twilight was silent. Then, finally, she said, "I...I don't know. I have no idea."

Fizzlepop's face fell. This wasn't good. This wasn't good at all.

Because when Twilight Sparkle, Equestria's savior too many times to count, Celestia's star pupil, and one of, if not the top magic expert in the country, had no clue what was happening... knew you were in trouble.