Chapter 30: The Mane Event
When the Elements of Harmony and Lezard arrived at Tartarus's gates, the sun was just beginning to rise. They took the chance in Nextus to get a few hours of sleep, and when they woke up, they were back in the world of time. Thankfully when they arrived the gates weren't opened yet. They received quite a surprise though, when they saw the two ponies waiting for them.
"Princesses?" Fluttershy asked for all of them. Both Princess Luna and Princess Celestia were wearing beautiful suits of armor. Celestia's was golden and red, and she had two broad swords at her side. Princess Luna was wearing silver and dark blue, and she had a small glaive with a crescent moon for the blade. They looked magnificent.
"Glad to see you decided to join us," Luna said.
"We were worried you would be late," Celestia said.
"Um, pardon my rudeness, but why are the two of you here?" Lezard asked. Celestia laughed.
"You didn't think we were going to sit by and let you do all of the fighting, did you?" she asked.
Rainbow Dash looked around at everyone as if they were thinking the same thing as her, "Um, yeah, sort of."
"As my sister explained to me," Luna said, "This is our world as well. We aren't going to sit still and watch when Equestria needs all of us.."
"Besides, my student is in danger," Celestia stated, "I feel that I am responsible for this."
"Ya ain't no more responsible than the rest of us," Applejack said. Celestia nodded with a soft smile, but Luna looked around in confusion.
"Apple Bloom isn't with you?" she asked.
"Applejack didn't want her to die, so we left without her," Pinkie Pie said brightly, as if it were nothing.
"You left without the Master of Harmony?" Celestia asked in shock.
"Mah sistur's seen too much," Applejack said seriously, "Ah know she's gotta be steamed at me, but mah fear of her diein got the better of me. Ah'm sorry if Ah seem like Ah'm bein silly, but..."
Celestia closed her eyes as if considering what she heard. It was obvious that she didn't like it, but she seemed to understand as well.
"Well, I'm sure it'll work out," Celestia said with a sigh, "We're not leaving Tartarus without Twilight."
"Now all we can do is wait for her to open the doors," Luna said looking up at the door with Celestia. Fluttershy looked over at Spike, who was standing by himself with his eyes closed. He looked like he needed a friend, so she walked over to him.
"What's going on with you?" Fluttershy asked somewhat teasingly.
"Just getting myself ready," Spike said, "This is the most serious fight I've ever been in," he opened his eyes and looked at Fluttershy, "You know, you seem a little different."
"Really?" Fluttershy asked. She truly didn't notice it.
"Yeah, you stand a little straighter these days, you speak with more confidence, and your walk is different. A little bit like Rarity's, actually."
"Oh, I see," Fluttershy said, suddenly feeling flushed. Had she changed that much?
Spike laughed, "But it's good to see that you're still Fluttershy. So what happened? Did you attend another Iron Will seminar?"
"No," Fluttershy shook her head quickly, showing how much she hated his seminars, "I just decided to go for what I want, and be the pony I always wanted to be," Fluttershy sat down on the ground, "Did you know that I was always a little envious of Rarity?"
"Really?" Spike asked sitting down next to her.
"She's outgoing, she's proud, she's sexy," she noticed Spike nod in a way saying he agreed with that last statement, "she's not afraid to put herself out there. She's everything I always wanted to be. Truth is, I sort of resented her a bit."
"Wait," Spike looked at her like she was an alien, "First of all, you resent somepony?" Fluttershy laughed loudly at that, "Second of all, aren't you and Rarity best friends?"
"Yes we are," Fluttershy said smiling at Spike, "That never changed. I love Rarity. And also, I actually held in a lot of my emotions, which is why ponies thought I was so nice. I never voiced my feelings. My feelings toward Rarity were just me wanting to be like her, I just never thought I could."
"I don't know," Fluttershy shrugged, "It seems silly now. I could have, I just didn't think I was pretty enough."
"You're right, that was silly," Spike stated, "The thing I always loved about you was how naturally beautiful you are. You don't need make-up to be beautiful, you just are."
"Thank you Spike," Fluttershy said kissing him on the cheek. She noticed that he smiled a bit, but he didn't blush, which sparked a question, "Why are you so attracted to Rarity? You said I don't need make-up, but Rarity wears it all the time."
"Do I hear a hint of jealousy?" Spike taunted. Fluttershy just glared at him, making him laugh, "It's funny, I really don't know why I'm so attracted to her. The first time I saw her, I just knew that she was..."
"The one?" Fluttershy finished for him. Spike thought for a second, and then nodded.
"I guess so. Funny, before I thought that it was just a crush, but I wonder if I was actually in love with her. I also wonder if she actually loved me as well."
"I... think she did," Spike looked shocked when Fluttershy said that, "She talked about you a lot, especially after you gave her that heart shaped gemstone."
"You're really special to her. I think she just didn't know how dragons matured. Who would have thought, right?"
"Yeah, I knew I could grow from greed, but to grow from love. I don't know how..."
"You're a special dragon," Fluttershy said leaning into Spike, "Rarity saw that, that's why she gave you the Element of Generosity."
"Rarity..." Spike said smiling, "When this is done, I'm going to tell her how I feel. Who knows, maybe she and I will become as close as you and Macintosh. I hear you spent the whole last two days with him."
"Aaaaannnnnnd that's where this conversation ends." Fluttershy said getting up. Spike laughed and got up as well, and the two of them walked over to the door to Tartarus. When the sun fully rose, there was a tremor through the canyon. A few minutes later, the large stone door slowly began to open, revealing a red and black portal.
"This is it," Applejack said.
"Twilight is on the other side," Rainbow Dash said.
"If we don't win here, then we fail her," Pinkie Pie stated.
"Not just her, but all of Equestria," Fluttershy said.
"We're going to win," Spike said, "With or without the Master of Harmony."
"Twilight," Celestia said, "We're coming to get you, honey."
"If everyone is ready, we should proceed," Luna said.
"Agreed," Lezard said, "Applejack?"
"Right," Applejack took a deep breath, and then stepped forward, "Let's go team."
The seven ponies and dragon walked through the portal, disappearing from Equestria.
"So you did come," Twilight said from her tower in the center of Tartarus, "Well then, let the end... begin."
She sent a red wave from her horn, calling all of the monsters she could to meet her enemies.
"Ah knew she'd try somethin," Apple Bloom said to Sweetie Belle pacing in front of her, "But ta leave without me!"
"Don't worry," Sweetie Belle said, "Once Scootaloo gets here we'll catch up."
No sooner than when she said that did they see something really fast riding up to them. It looked like a bike of some sort, and it was pulling a chariot.
"Sorry I'm late!" Scootaloo called out riding up to them, "I had to make sure I knew where we were going."
"Scootaloo, Applejack and the others already left!" Sweetie Belle said as she and Apple Bloom galloped over to her.
"WHAT?!" Scootaloo called out.
"Applejack must call it protectin me," Apple Bloom said angrily.
"Don't worry, cause with this baby," Scootaloo tapped her bike, "We'll get there in no time. Besides, they can't finish the fight without you anyway, right?"
"Right," Apple Bloom said seriously.
"Is this chariot for us?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"Well, I figured it's a step up from the wagon we used to use," Scootaloo said, "So you guys getting in?"
Apple Bloom smiled and jumped in the chariot with Sweetie Belle. She remembered the years riding in the back of their wagon while Scootaloo used her scooter to drive them around Ponyville. It felt like the same thing, only instead of a scooter, they had a magical bicycle, and instead of a wagon, it was a chariot.
That feeling came back. Being with her friends, it was almost like old times.
"Girls, are ya sure ya want ta do this?" Apple Bloom asked.
"Of course," Sweetie Belle said hugging Apple Bloom, "We started together, and we're going to be together until the very end."
"This is your last hurrah," Scootaloo said, not looking Apple Bloom's way, "And we're determined to make sure that it's epic," after wiping her eyes (crying?) she turned to Apple Bloom with a confident smile, "What's better than arriving fashionably late?"
Apple Bloom felt a pain in her chest, remembering what was happening to her today, but she nodded all the same. Scootaloo looked forward and activated her bike.
"This is it girls!" she shouted.
"The fate of Equestria rests on us getting Apple Bloom to Tartarus!" Sweetie Belle proclaimed.
"Alright then, who are we?" Apple Bloom asked, on instinct knowing the answer.
"CUTIE MARK CRUSADER HEROES OF EQUESTRIA!" all three of them shouted in unison before they charged toward Tartarus, and Apple Bloom's destiny.
The inside of Tartarus was scary. The sky was apocalyptic red, and filled with black clouds. The ground was barren, much like the canyon they were in before. Not too far away, but still a good distance from them, was a large tower.
"Think that's where Twilight is?" Rainbow Dash asked.
"Positive," Applejack stated seriously. As they began making their way to the tower, they heard Fluttershy gasp, "What's up?"
"Something's coming!" she cried out, pointing to the sky. They then saw an army of small demonic bats flying toward them.
"That's not all!" Spike said pointing to the side, "Looks like someone's here for payback!"
They looked and saw a Grendal walking over to them, whether it was the same one as before or not they didn't know.
"You all need to get to the tower!" Celestia said, using her magic to draw both swords, which were now floating at her side.
"We will keep them off of you!" Luna said magically drawing her glaive, which magically grew to the size of a staff.
"I'll join you," Lezard said as a spell circle appeared at his feet.
"Are ya'll sure?" Applejack asked.
"Like I said, I will NOT let Equestria fall!" Celestia said, "While here in Tartarus, think of Luna and I as allies, not royalty!"
"Do not worry about us! Save Twilight Sparkle!" Luna urged. Applejack looked at Lezard, who just nodded.
"Everyone, let's go!" Applejack commanded, leading the rest of the Elements of Harmony towards the tower. It was a long gallop, and monsters were still chasing them. Some of the monsters looked like monstrous lions and other creatures in Equestria, and some even looked like ponies turned into monsters.
A large minotaur monster walked in front of them, blocking their path. It even looked like it was ready to charge.
"Don't even think about it!" Spike shouted flying ahead to the minotaur. He slashed the minotaur with his spear, and then thrust it forward, summoning his spirit partner, who tackled it to the ground and began stomping on it.
"Good job Spike!" Applejack called out as they galloped onward. Spike looked up at the spirit with a smile for a second, and then flew after the others. The spirit whinnied loudly before vanishing.
This time they were forced to stop as lasers fired at their feet. The five of them looked up and saw the bat like monster firing red beams out of theirs tails at them.
"I got this!" Rainbow Dash said before flying up to the monsters, egulfed in electricity. She then actually dispersed into multiple bolts of lightning and began knocking the monsters out of the sky. While that went on, Pinkie Pie ran forward and then fazed out of sight. Next time they saw her, she continuously appeared over the bats and kicked them to the ground, working with Rainbow Dash.
The fight ended quickly, Rainbow Dash landing at the same time as Pinkie Pie fazing back on the ground next to her. They continued their run to the tower. When they reached the foot of the tower, black beams hit the walls next to them. This time, the shadow ponies were galloping to them.
Fluttershy flew in their way, got up on her hind legs and thrust her forelegs forward, sending a gust of wind forward pushing them back. At the same time she used the wind to close the doors to the tower. That would slow them down for a little while.
As Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Apple Bloom approached Tartarus' Gates, they saw Twilight's army of undead ponies rising out of the ground a few kilometers from the gates.
"Those are Twilight's soldiers!" Sweetie Belle shouted.
"Yeah? No shit!" Scootaloo called back sarcastically.
"Ah thought she wusn't gonna attack Equestria!" Apple Bloom shouted.
"You guys need to learn how villains talk!" Scootaloo said activating her flame thrower, "She said she would wait for the Elements of Harmony! She didn't say anything about her men not attacking in the meantime! Apple Bloom, take my flame thrower! We'll take these guys out before they get to Ponyville!"
"Can you work that?" Sweetie Belle asked as Apple Bloom pulled the flame thrower off Scootaloo's armor (it surprisingly detached easily).
"Ah'm a tool master, do the math," Apple Bloom said examining the weapon, "Sweetie Belle, you sing defensive songs! Scootaloo, keep drivin! Leave the attackin ta me!"
"Right!" Sweetie Belle said.
"Got it Bloom!" Scootaloo said.
They began driving all around the canyon, Apple Bloom firing the flame thrower at the soldiers hurting them. Any attacks heading to them were blocked by a shield made by Sweetie Belle, who was singing a powerful song all while Scootaloo drove them in circles around the soldiers. This went on for a few minutes.
In the distance, they saw something white flying over to them. That turned out to be Canterlot soldiers flying to help them, lead by Shining Armor and Cadence.
"Scootaloo!" Apple Bloom called out.
"I see them, and it's about damn time!" Scootaloo replied back.
"Sweetie Belle, don't stop singin! Yer doin great!" Apple Bloom said to her friend. Sweetie Belle nodded to Apple Bloom, not missing a single note.
The Canterlot Soldiers now in the fight, it seemed a lot more even. Even Cadence was fighting, using magic to blast bolts of pink energy at the soldiers while Shining Armor stayed close to her slashing with his sword and making shields to defend her. Most of the Canterlot soldiers were using swords like Apple Bloom normally would (Apple Bloom: that's a good technique actually), but the unicorns were using magic to attack (Sweetie Belle: why can't I do that spell?) while the pegasi used acrobatics much like Rainbow Dash would and were mostly hoof to hoof (Scootaloo: I can do that blindfolded).
"Girls, get into Tartarus and help the others!" Shining Armor commanded.
"Whut about ya'll?" Apple Bloom asked.
"We'll be fine!" Cadence assured them, "We won't let them get to the town!"
"Apple Bloom, we need to go!" Scootaloo said, "Let's leave this to them!"
"Alright," Apple Bloom said, hating the fact that she had to leave them, "Sweetie Belle, sorry, but can ya keep singin till we get through the gate?"
Apple Bloom could have sworn Sweetie Belle smiled gleefully as she nodded. She must enjoy singing now, Apple Bloom thought.
They continued their approach to the gate, Apple Bloom looking back at Shining Armor and Cadence and shedding tears as she remembered she would never see them again.
Take care of each other...
Inside the tower was a spiral staircase that went straight up. Twilight had to be at the top. Nothing stood in their way as they climbed the stairs, but when they finally reached the top they met three of Twilight's undead soldiers in front of a large black door.
Applejack stepped forward, her hoof engulfed in a bright flame as she activated her Element's power. She jumped up and then dashed past the soldiers engulfed completely in fire, and landed behind them. The soldiers fell instantly.
As they approached the door, Pinkie Pie pressed her ear to the door, shocked by what she heard.
"Guys," she whispered, "I hear crying."
Everyone listened closely, and they heard it. It sounded like Twilight.
"She's so alone in there," Spike said sadly, "It has to be hard."
"Abandoned by her friends, her teacher, her own brother," Rainbow Dash said softly.
"And then the one pony she knew she could count on was killed trying to protect her," Fluttershy said looking down.
"Well, we're here now," Applejack stated, "An' we ain't leavin Tartarus unless we leave tagether."
Everyone nodded, and Applejack slowly pushed the door open.
Inside, Twilight was heartbreaking to watch. She looked inconsolable, her head hanging low as she sobbed quiet yet intense sobs. Her sadness had to have been so great right now.
"Twilight, we're here," Applejack said softly.
"You're all here?" Twilight asked, almost sounding like herself as her voice was singular.
"Yep yep," Pinkie Pie said hopping forward, "We're here to save our friend."
"I'm... so glad you came..." Twilight said through her sobs, but when she looked up a black aura surrounded her and she gave them a sinister smile. "That way I can kill you..." the double voice was back, the second voice sounding deep and demonic.
"I don't know what you did to our Twilight, but you let her go RIGHT NOW!" Rainbow Dash commanded.
"But Rainbow, I am your Twilight," Twilight said walking over to them, "This so called monster you see is what I've been reduced to," she laughed evilly, "This is all that's left of me now."
"I don't believe that," Fluttershy said, "Not with the way you grieved over Trixie."
"That, was just last of my light dying, making way for the darkness that I longed for," she moaned as if the feeling were orgasmic, "If only you could feel how wonderful I feel right now."
"Does it really feel that wonderful?" Spike asked seriously, "Honestly, it doesn't look that fun to me."
Twilight laughed, "You wouldn't understand, Amethyst Dragon," Twilight said, confusing Spike a bit, "Do you know why you alone were able to mature from nobility and love while all other dragons grow from greed?" Spike slowly shook his head, "You're a special breed of dragon that's able to mature one of two ways. One being through normal dragon means, and the second being through the love of a pony."
"Rarity..." Spike said looking at his armor.
"Princess Celestia must have thought my love would make you grow, but instead it was Rarity's love. Apparently I wasn't good enough for you," Twilight finished.
"But I do love you Twilight," Spike said, "Like I said, you're like a sister to me. It's just, Rarity is..."
"I don't care anymore," Twilight said, "It's too late anyway. Once I get done with you, I'll go out to Equestria and destroy the rest of the ponies who shunned me and called me a monster."
"None of them think yer a monster, Twilight," Applejack said, "Half of 'em don't even know what's goin on."
"NO! They turned away from me... Even though I protected them from the monsters of Tartarus... My own brothers and sisters... I was cast away... they hate me... everyone hates me... everyone HATES ME!"
"We don't!" Fluttershy cried out, "That's why we came here!"
"So I can throw you a big welcome home party and we can all be friends again!" Pinkie Pie said.
"SHUT UP!" Twilight shouted angrily glaring at them, "I don't need anypony anymore! All I need is the darkness! It alone will never shun me! It won't lock me up in a dark room! It won't draw a sword at me! It won't ever die and leave me ALONE! I can count on the darkness! All friendship ever did for me was open the door to all of this pain and misery!"
"There! Ya said it!" Applejack shouted, "Yer in pain! Let us help ya Twilight! We've always been there fer ya before!"
"Yeah, we survived an army of demons for you!" Rainbow Dash stated, "We are NOT leaving without you!"
"Why... won't... you... LISTEN? I said it's TOO LATE!" as she screamed she was egulfed in darkness, "You said you're not leaving without me? Well you aren't leaving at all! I originally planned on killing you quickly, but now I think I'll make your deaths slow, and painful!"
"This is it ya'll!" Applejack said engulfed in fire, "Do whutever it takes! No matter whut we gotta reach Twilight!" Beside Applejack, Rainbow Dash was sparking, Pinkie Pie was fazing in and out like a mirage, Fluttershy was surrounded by a small gust of wind, and Spike had cold air surrounding him while his unicorn spirit stood over him stomping the ground, "Elements of Harmony, CHARGE!"
"Die... die... DIE!"