Applejack sat there, the whole situation was unlike anything she had to deal with before. This Twilight, her Twilight, the Twilight all of them have spent all these years living with, was not the original. Her eyes tracked Princess Celestia as Cadence led her into the meeting room.
In a way, she was a copy, same as the mirror clones but made with Celestia’s magic. If Celestia had not admitted it right in front of her, Applejack would not have believed it. But she was also not lying about saying it was the only way to save Twilight.
There was a lot of pain between the two princesses that much was clear.
As soon as the door closed on the meeting room, Rainbow Dash rushed to the door, pressing her ear to it. She threw her hooves up in annoyance. “They’re using that sound bubble again.”
“Oh bubbles, I like bubbles,” Pinkie said.
Giving Pinkie a sideways glance, Rainbow Dash shakes her head. “Anyway, I really don’t like how this is going,” she said with frustration, “I mean seriously. Who does that to someone? Slicing and dicing their soul? I know I wouldn’t want that done to me.”
Applejack looking slightly miffed at the outburst, “Now hold up a gosh darn minute, Celestia already told us it was to save her life. She didn’t know any other way to save her.”
“Be that as it may darling, do we really know that to be true?” Rarity said, her face showing she didn’t want her friends fighting.
Applejack nods her head “I do know she at least believes it to be true. I can’t say one way or another whether there were other options though. I don’t know anything really about what’s possible with your guy’s horns.”
Rainbow seemed taken aback for a moment. “So, you really believe that it was an emergency surgery?”
Fluttershy spoke up. “ I know if I were in her position, I wouldn’t have wanted one of my animals to die. I would do surgery if possible to save them.”
Rainbow’s agitation faded for a moment. “Yeah, ok, I’ll give you that, but we aren't talking about stitching somepony back up after they get a cut. She went and basically created a Frankenmare soul out of the children of the original Twilight. That just doesn’t feel right. I mean you don’t go and kill five other foals to save one. You don’t even do that if six foals are dying.”
Fluttershy “Actually there are organ transplants, we kind of do.”
A slight look of horror on Rainbow’s face “Ok, I didn’t know that. That’s kind of freaky.”
Applejack raised her voice slightly. “Alright listen guys. If she didn’t do what she did, then we would not have Twilight at all. That much I do know. Now what we do have is at least the Twilight we do know. The only thing we can really do is be there for her.”
“It’s too bad old Twilight never got to come to any of our parties but isn’t the new Twilight still our friend?” Pinkie said, doing her best to look on the bright side even now.
“Of course Twilight is still our Friend,” Rainbow stated wings flaring.
“Darlings, where would the world be without Twilight? Nightmare Moon, Discord, Starlight and Tirek. Just think of the mess they would have made of things?” Rarity said in her most serious tone.
“You think she did the right thing?” Rainbow accused.
“What do you think any of us could have done against them without Twilight, without the Elements.”
Rainbow bristled, “We could have taken them.”
Applejack thought back to all their adventures, all the times they had saved Equestria. All the times Twilight had led them, guided them, helped them. She remembered all the trouble her stubborn streak caused before Twilight got her to accept help. When Twilight had brought them back to their senses after Discord had messed with their minds. The world needed Twilight. She thought.
Applejack looked at Rainbow. “You’d give a might good try… but do you really think you could win Sugercube?” She could see her friend wanting to say yes, but the lessons she had learned caused her to hold her tongue.
Rainbow looked down, the look on her face admitting defeat.
“Even I don’t remember the ‘original’ Twilight. I was too young when it happened. I think Shining Armor would remember though.” Spike pipped up. “That being said, I don’t think it’s really the question you guys are getting at.”
Fluttershy pipped up, “Spike is right. It isn’t ‘is she our friend’ it’s how do we feel about what happened to her and how does that change what we feel about Celestia? I think that maybe what Celestia did was needed. But what she didn’t do is where she was in grave error.” She sees the look of confusion on her friend’s faces and continues, “She didn’t tell Twilight and she should have. Had she known then, she wouldn’t be mad at Celestia for messing with her mind now.”
Several glances among the gathered friends showed that they were considering her words and it took all of five seconds for them to agree. Nodding Applejack said, “Then if we are going to help heal the rift between them, then we need to get Celestia to see that she was in error and want to make right by her.”
Seeing no disagreement from the others, she continued. “Thing is, with as old as she is, she might be just a tad resistant to change. Not that I don’t have my own experience with that. I’m sure she thinks she is well justified in her actions and honestly, she might be, even if it doesn’t sit right with us emotionally. But talks need to be had or the rift will not heal. What do guys say? Have a sit down with our Solar Princess?”
Rainbow, looking excited at the prospect of settling things, “Yeah that sounds good. We can just ambush her on her way out.”
“Really Rainbow? We wouldn’t be pouncing on her. Just insisting that we sit down and talk.” Said Rarity.
Sometime later, Applejack sat calmly waiting. There were things she could do on the farm, but being here for Twilight was more important. The conversation was over and now each of her friends were killing time in their own way.
Rainbow was a ball of restless worry, constantly in motion.
Rarity was sketching new designs, taking a glance, Applejack could see some of them were for Little Star.
Pinkie Pie kept running off and returning. Last time she came back with a tray of snacks this time she now had a board game set up. As always, her friend was so random.
Fluttershy just lay still, her mane concealing her thoughts from the rest of the world.
The hum of a magical aura announced that finally, the doors to the meeting room opened. Applejack looked to them, noticing in the corner of her eyes how Rainbow was now hovering, her endless flying back and forth paused.
Cadence left the room first, smiling. She nodded warmly to Applejack and the rest of the Elements before turning down a hall heading deeper into the Castle.
Less than a minute later, Celestia left the room turned towards the elements and made her way towards the exit.
Rainbow looked into the room where Twilight sat snuggled under Luna’s wing. Applejack could see Twilight eyes tracking Celestia for a moment before her magenta aura closed the door blocking Rainbows attempt to enter who grumbled in annoyance.
Applejack got to her hooves and blocked Celestia’s path “We need to talk Princess,” she said in a firm tone.
“Certainly, about Twilight I assume?” Celestia’s tone was calm and friendly as she moved to gracefully settle down near the rest of the elements.
In a blur Rainbow as muzzle to muzzle with Celestia. “Why the hay did you do that to Twilight?”
Rarity’s reproachful glance gave Rainbow enough of a pause to allow the Princess to answer.
Celestia took a breath, “As much as it saddens me, it was truly the only viable way to save any of her from what was very likely an almost successful assassination.”
Rainbow almost dropped from the air, almost.
Applejack could feel the eyes of her friends upon her. She nodded, confirming that there were no lies hidden there. Only viable, what other options were there? She thought still with some suspicion. Remembering that Twilight had accused Celestia of creating her as a tool.
“Who would try and assassinate a little filly,” Fluttershy asked. Looks of horror flashing across the Elements' faces.
Celestia’s calming voice answered, “There are many threats to Equestria that would have prefered if the Elements of Harmony were never restored.”
“Only viable option? That implies there were other ways. What other ways were there?” Asked Applejack
“Few that would barely have had a chance of saving anything of who Twilight was. I used the one that let me save most of who Twilight was. The pieces that she was rendered in to would have disintegrated in days at most, seconds at worst.” She paused a sadness crossing her features. “And it was the only way that would have protected Equestria.”
Again Applejack knew that Celesta was speaking the truth. Rarity seemed to grimly accept its necessity. Pinkie's mane deflated slightly at seeing Celestia sad. Fluttershy was surprisingly calm.
“Fine! Why the buck didn’t you tell her? If you had then she wouldn’t be an emotional wreck right now and sitting in that room hating you.” Rainbow Dash almost yelled.
“Now calm down a bit Sugercube, let her talk.” Applejack admonished.
“Thank you Applejack,” Celestia said, bowing her head in thanks before continuing in a sombre tone. “I had planned to. After she had a chance of living as close to a normal life as possible. I wanted to let her live without that hanging over her head at least for a while. I had things set in motion for her to find out in about ten years.”
“Ten years from now? You should have told five years ago.” Rainbow said more incensed now than she was before.
“To what end? For her to know she wasn’t completely whole? To know that she is a prime target for assassination, having her constantly worrying about that? You saw how she was when she thought she was behind on friendship reports. Can you imagine what she would have been like if she had potential assassinations to look out for? How could she have been expected to make friends if she was always fearing for her life like that?” Said Celestia.
Rainbow just looked at her with narrowed eyes for a moment. “She was an alicorn five years ago. She wouldn’t have been nearly as vulnerable as when she was a unicorn. Besides she would have gotten over that with our help. We were already her friends. All that’s beside the point anyway.”
“How is all that besides the point? Am I missing something here?” Questioned Celestia.
“Apparently you are.” The frustration on Rainbow Dash’s face still showing. “It doesn’t matter what reasons you had to not tell her. By your own laws on life-saving procedures, she had the RIGHT to know. That isn’t something a doctor can withhold from a patient.”
Rainbow pressed closer to Clesistia “It was something done to her without her consent. Yeah, it saved her life, but by your own law that you put in place, you were obligated to tell her. I can understand waiting until she’s knowledgeable enough to understand, but you can’t say that as an alicorn she didn’t know enough to understand.”
Celestia held up her hoof pausing Rainbow, who folded her forelegs impatiently. “Twilight’s family were told, everything they were allowed to know by law. That Twilight was in a magical incident and I had to save her life. That she had learned forbidden magic and the knowledge had to be sealed away. If the seals failed, by the laws she would have to have been imprisoned or banished, two things I did not want to happen to Twilight.”
“Ok, fine, that validates not telling her while she was a unicorn. All those restrictions vanished when she became an alicorn though. The day she ascended you were still legally, and at least in my opinion, morally obligated to tell her. And had you she wouldn’t be in there still hating you for what you did to her.” Rainbow said, looking around and noting that all her friends were nodding in agreement with her sentiment.
“And that’s why I was going to tell her when she had settled into her new role. I honestly believed she would have been happier in the long run without that knowledge had recent events not happened.” Celestia stated with honest regret.
“That being said, I understand your point about the legal side and your point that if I had, she wouldn’t be in the emotional state she is now.” Celestia said and she lowered her head. “So how do we proceed from here? I would sincerely appreciate any help in making things right with Twilight.”
“I reckon you should write a friendship report,” Applejack answered with a friendly smirk on her face.