by OrphiusOlyandra

Chapter 2


It is just as I had feared, dragon DNA consists of the same base pairs as that of ponies. So where to now? That one question has been plaguing my mind for the past three months, and even now, I still have no response. The only real course of action I have left is to wait and see if the various university departments come up with a breakthrough. For now though, I shall continue my studies into alicornian DNA in an attempt to unravel its intricacies, though I have no hopes in this endeavor. Even for me, it is far too complex, and unfortunately, I am unable to devote my full time to this endeavor.

There is still hope, for there is still plenty of time before Luna's return. Until then, I won't stop working and I won't stop trying. Luna, I promise you, you shall return, and Equestria shall love your night like they should.

Time Till Death: Five days, twenty-two hours, thirty-two minutes

"So this is Aviana," I whispered, mainly to not aggravate my headache, rather than any sense of awe. After all, it was just a pure blanket of white as far as the eye could see. Considering it barely made it past my ankles, it was nothing compared to what I had to deal with back home. "It's a shame it's winter,there’s some truly fascinating fauna I've always wanted to study."

"Yeah, yeah, come back in a couple of months. I just wish it wasn't winter, because cleaning up our tracks is going to take forever," huffed Dash.

A couple more months? Sure, if I'm still alive by then. I woke up this morning expecting to be completely and utterly fine, with no headache to speak off, and surprise, surprise. Instead I woke up feeling as though I had emptied out a bar last night. Itook two pills to no avail, and it was only after I took another three that they had any effect. A month ago, two pills would have lasted me a day.

A low chuckle caught our attention. "And this is why you're still a green recruit." Zipping up into the sky, Spitfire came down with a fluffy white cloud. "I seem to recall you and your friends being in Cloudsdale once. Cast the cloud walking spell and then there’s no more need to brush out our hoofprints."

"Why didn't you mention this before!" I winced at Dash's yell.

"Just wondering how long it’dtake you to realize. So? Hop on."

Throat suddenly dry, I looked from the cloud to Dash, then back to the cloud. The continuous pounding of my headache served as a constant reminder of my limited magic use. Spitfire had been watching me all day – I think she caught me taking the pills in the morning – and I wanted to avoid all conversation involving why I had them on me. There was a reason I was banned from playing poker, and it had nothing to do with counting cards.

From the way they were looking at me though, there was no way I could slip out of this one. With a sigh, I channeled magic into my horn and resisted the urge to whimper as the base of my horn burned. My legs buckled and shook, threatening to give out from under me as the pain wormed its way into my mind. That time I got burnt by Spike's dragon fire was nothing compared to this. Though it was a basic spell, keeping my focus through the pain was near impossible.

Then, with a final gasp, the spell took hold and the burning faded away to a light shimmer.

"Twi?" I looked up at Dash's concerned eyes. "You alright?"

"I'm fine. Those two teleports today just took more out of me than I realized," I replied with a smile as I scrambled onto the cloud. "Off we go then."

"Now you'll finally get an idea of what it feels like to fly!" Dash was immediately behind me, pushing the cloud into the air as Spitfire directed it. "And geez, have you put on weight? You weigh a tonne."

"Shut up," I muttered as my ears folded back. It wasn't my fault being Archmage meant so much desk work!

"We might actually end up covering less distance this way," said Spitfire as she looked at the setup before gazing out at the horizon. "And if any gryphons are flying, they might see us."

"Faster than having me clean up the hoofprints, which would definitely have been seen," replied Dash with a shrug. "Maybe there's some invisibility spell or something?"

Both of them looked at me curiously, but I merely shook my head. "Invisibility spells work on a set location, if the object moves outside of that zone, it needs to be recast. So far, nopony has been able to actually enchant an item to stay invisible no matter where it's placed."

"Great." Spitfire began angling the cloud further up. "Let's get it higher up then. Hopefully most gryphons will pass underneath and not notice or bother to look up."

"Some plan," I grumbled under my breath. Spitfire was meant to be the captain of an elite unit, and she comes up with useless things like this. Seriously, it was almost as though she didn't want to save Celestia!

I blew a lock of mane out of my eyes as I let the magic flow into my horn. The burning immediately began anew, but this time I could feel it rolling out in waves. With my eyes closed, ears laid back, and nothing distracting me, it was a simple matter of ignoring the message that my body was sending to my brain. To ignore the message was to ignore the pain after all.

"What the?Twi, are you doing something?"

That one simple question from Dash shattered my flimsy concentration and let the pain back in.

"Yes Dash, I'm reducing the drag so that we can move faster." Was I speaking at a normal volume? I hope I was. Then again, considering how much it pained me to speak at all, it was impossible to tell. "Now please, leave me alone. I need to concentrate."


If she said any more than that, I didn’t hear her, I was already settling back down. Using the deep breathing exercises Princess Celestia had taught me as a filly, I felt my mind slowly sink lower and lower, until the sound of the wind was gone and my migraine was nothing more than a dull throb. Then, from the center of that calm, I cast the spell once more. The great Beethooven once commented that casting a complex spell was like hearing a song he composed being played for the first time. For me, it was like holding the very essence of Harmony within my hooves and synthesizing the greatest masterpiece the world had ever known. Each piece had a specific location. Each section had its own unique function. Everything had its place in the grand scheme of things and nothing was due to pure coincidence. And from all that careful planning, a spell would be born.


"Gah!" I wasn't sure what made me jump, the fact that Dash was inches from my face, or the pain that split my head open. Try as I might, I couldn't help but whimper as blades embedded themselves into my fragile brain. Even the mere act of looking up at the red sky caused me my head to throb.

"You alright?" asked Dash.

"Magical drag." Stepping gingerly off the cloud, I winced with each step I took. "How much ground did we cover?"

"More than enough." Spitfire landed next to us and I looked away just in time to hide a grimace. "I suggest we rest here tonight. We've got good tree cover and there's a lake just to the east of here that looks perfect for bathing in. Think you've got enough juice left to set up a magical parameter?"

"Give me some time to recover." I closed my eyes and took a deep breath of the crisp air. "I think I'll take a bath first. Will you two be able to set up camp without me?"

"Camp?Real funny egghead. Two heat crystals and munching grass straight from the ground isn't much of a camp you know." Dash gave me a gentle shove. "Go and bathe. You look like you're about to die."

"Yeah, about to die," I chuckled softly, ignoring the bitterness in my mouth. "Wouldn't want that happening now would we?"

"Of course not!" The chromatic pegasus slung a foreleg around my neck. "We need some pony to keep things interesting when we're not busy saving the world!"

Did she have to talk so loudly?

"Hey Dash, mind keeping an eye on our bags here? I think I'll join Twilight in that bath of hers."

Oh crap. Please say no, please say no, please say n-

"No probs, Spitfire."


"Come on Twilight, I'll show you the way." Spitfire immediately took the lead and moved through the woods without disturbing the trees, despite how dense they were. "Look, I know this is hard on you since Princess Celestia practically raised you and all, but you need to slow down alright? You're an important part of this team, and you need to keep your emotions in check so that you can play your part."

With a sigh, the Wonderbolt rubbed her temples while somehow avoiding all the roots. "By the stars, I hate things like this. What I'm trying to say is that I don't want Celestia to die. In fact, if it weren't for her I'd still be some drug addict living in the backstreets of Manehattan."

Whatever else she had to say was lost in the haze of red as I tried to focus on just keeping one hoof in front of another. She thought I was stupid, that I didn't notice, but I saw. I saw how her eyes darted to the corner of her eye every so often to check up on me. I saw how her muscles tensed every time I so much as twitched. I saw all that and more.

Coming out of the dense forest, I immediately brushed past Spitfire and stepped into the cool lake, and just gazed up at the starry night sky. Was Luna making it brighter to guide us?

“Dear Luna, this is cold.” I could hear her chattering teeth from where I was standing. She dunked her head under the water, before she scrambled out and began shaking the water out. “How can you just stand there like that?”

“It’s not that bad,” I muttered under my breath, but I knew the truth, even if I didn't want to admit it to myself. How much longer before the degradation reached my central nervous system? Or before I became paralyzed?

Was this... was this really worth it? Even if I don't die from this, I'll probably end up with permanent nerve damage, maybe even paralyzed. Unable to move, unable to go to the bathroom without any help, unable to even have fun with my friends. That is... if they'd even want to spend time with an invalid. Would I even be allowed to perform magic anymore? Or partake in scientific enquires? Even if I didn't die, would it be a life worth living?

Ducking my head under, the biting cold was a soothing relief from the constant burning.I only pulled my head out after I felt like I was drowning. Sure, it hurt, but now it was just a dull throb, and that was far better than anything else I had experienced so far. After three more repeats, I crawled out of the water and began shaking the water out like a dog. All the while, Spitfire watched me with a hooded gaze.

"We need to talk." It wasn't a suggestion or a statement, it was an order.

"About what?" I put on my most innocent expression, but her cocked eyebrow told me she was not buying it for even a second.

"You and your drug problem."

"What?" I hissed. "I do not have a drug problem."

"Could have fooled me with the way you downed those pills of yours."

"I am not a drug addict," I replied with a low growl in my voice.

"Don't lie to me!" I was violently thrown against the tree, her forelimb across my throat making breathing difficult. "I was a drug addict once, and I help others around Canterlot on a daily basis. You are an addict whether you wish to admit it or not."

With a snarl, I slammed my knee into her stomach. The grunt of pain was like music to my ears as she stumbled back.

"Or maybe, just maybe, I'm taking those pills because I need to medicate my pain," I replied. "I am not an addict. I am merely managing it as best as I can."

"Ha! Real funny, you should become a comedian." Spitfire brushed a lock of mane out of her eyes. "You've been taking those pills ever since the Manehattan event, and need I remind you, that was the same event where you were pumped full of pain medication? You have an issue, and you will deal with it, and it will not impact our mission. Got that? And as soon as this mission is done, you will go on a detox program even if that means I have to dragyour purple ass across Equestria to do so!"


"What the buck is going on here!?" Dash stood between us, her wings outstretched as she snarled at Spitfire. "And what in the name of Tartarus is your problem?"

"This was a private discussion," I snapped at Dash. "Now if you'll excuse me, I need to take my medication before this headache kills me."

Shoving past the two mares, I began my journey back to the camp. Dash didn't even wait for me to be out of earshot before she began ranting at Spitfire. Maybe I should have gone back to smooth things over and make sure this wouldn't affect their friendship or our mission, but you know what? Buck that. As long as it didn't affect their performance, then who bloody cares! Some pills and a quick nap and then everything would be perfect.

My stomach grumbled.

And food. Can't forget about that now, can we?Even if we were eating off the ground. But first things first!

Reaching into my backpack, I pulled out my medicine and immediately downed three pills at once. As much as I wanted to take another one, I had to make sure it lasted till the end of the journey. I eyed the wet, muddy grass beneath my hooves before sighing. It sounded like such a great idea at the time. Food will just slow us down! Eat off the ground like our forefathers! Bleah. It was no wonder they invented things like fire and cooking, it tasted horrible. My cooking tasted better than this, and that was saying something, considering it was even worse than AJ's baked bads. I bet Dash's cooking tasted better than this.

Nonetheless, I forced it down with a shudder. Hopefully I won't get some disease from this, that'd just be stupid. I turned my head to the side, entire body shuddering as I began coughing. Doubled over and on my knees, each cough coated the snow in a fresh layer of red. After almost an entire minute, I lay there in my own fluids, panting heavily.When I heard the others approaching I scrambledonto my hooves to brush some snow over the patch of red. Taking the largest bite of grass I could stomach, I began chewing the disgusting thingin an attempt to look busy.

"I'm turning in for the night. Dash, you've got first watch," ordered Spitfire as she grabbed one of the heating crystals. Within seconds her snoring filled the air.

"I should probably do the same," I said with a yawn.

"Wait, Twi." A hoof was placed on my shoulder. "We need to talk."

"Not you too," I groaned.

"Not about your medication." She gave me that easygoing smile of hers. "For what it's worth, I believe you."


"No worries, Twi. I've always got you back." Dash sat down next to me. "But what was up with your questions yesterday? I mean, is there something you're not telling me?"

"I-" I licked my dry lips and saw the concern in her eyes. "I'm fine."

As much as I wanted to break down and confess everything, I couldn't do that to Dash. I still remembered what Discord did to her, and the mere thought of forcing her into another impossible decision made my heart ache. That day still haunted my nightmares.

"You sure?"

"Yeah." Once more I found that fake smile plastered all over my face. "I was just asking because I came across it in this fascinating ethical textbook I found in the library was all. It was actually on the Elements of Harmony, and went through what each meant, how they applied to everyday life, how to live life according to th-"

"Yaaaaaawn." Rainbow Dash smirked at me, though her eyes still bore into mine. "You are such an egghead."

I smiled weakly. "Thanks Dash."

"For what?"

For more than you know. For everything.For being my friend. For being there when I needed you, and even when I didn't. There was so much to be said, but even a single word would have resulted in her finding out the truth about my condition, and that was something I could not allow. I wanted so badly to thank her for everything she had ever done. For every smile and laugh she had gotten out of me. For every memory she gave me.

Thank you, Rainbow Dash, for all that and more.

Instead of saying all that though, I simply gave her a genuine smile and said, "For being the awesomest pony ever. Equestria would be dreary place without you."

"Ha! You got that right." She flexed her muscles before nudging me. "Go get some sleep. You look like you're about to fall over dead any second."

"As if, it'll take more than a bit of a run to kill me," I replied. "Night, Dash."

"Night. Sleep well, Twi."

With a final glance at Dash, I lay down on the ground and hugged the heating crystal close to my heart. Perhaps it was as simple as Dash made it out to be. Everypony relied on Celestia, and her loss would be a greater blow than mine could ever be. Being loyal to Equestria, to everypony, meant I had to do this. I had to go through and push myself as far as possible. Plus, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't do everything in my power to save Celestia.

I just hope I can actually do this. That I can follow through with my actions.

12/31/10: Entry 634

Has it truly been eight years since my last entry? I have not been able to spend as much on this endeavor as I have wished. Despite this, I have managed to make some minor advancements. Firstly, I have been spending time trying to understand the mechanism behind the degradation of normal pony DNA when alicornian DNA is inserted in. Originally, I thought it was to do with the extra bases, but so far, all my experiments have turned out to suggest the contrary. In an attempt to figure out the answer, I have studied the chemical composition of the bases in excruciating detail, but so far I have failed to find anything of importance that could act as an identification signal. I shall continue my exploration into this uncharted area in the hopes of solving this mystery. If I can somehow figure out the mechanisms behind this defensive response by the cell, then I should be able to turn it off.

I am also beginning to question my very existence. The majority of these past eight years was spent analyzing DNA from a variety of species in the vain hopes of finding a creature with the same genetic composition as my sister and I, but so far, nothing. How was it then, that we came to be? We did not know our parents, nor have we ever seen another alicorn in our travels. Our earliest memories involve waking up on this cold, cracked floor with glass littered on the ground all about us, and these relics of a forgotten past surrounding us. Tubes made out of glass and metal, weird consoles displaying a language of a dead race, and a voice speaking to us through the thin air. She told us our names, taught us how to read and write, and explained the wider world to us. And then, she sent gave us the Elements of Harmony and told us to defeat Discord.

So how was it we came to be? From whom were we born? Did somepony create us in much the same way I am attempting to create a second alicorn? If so, how did they manage it? There must be a solution somewhere; I have just failed to look in the right locations.

But now is not the time for an existential crisis. For now, I shall turn my attention to the two extra bases present within alicornian DNA, but I doubt I will ever be able to figure it out. Luna was always the better biologist, and this complexity is beyond me. Stars guide me.