The group watched as the last of Manglanosa’s forces left through the portal. The portal closed, as the last soldier went through. Ace’s thoughts drifted back to the battle, how everything seemed to take a turn for the worst. When he lost Pinkie, he didn’t let Manglanosa’s forces have any mercy. When Pinkie came back to life…
Ace took a look at the Taurus in his hand, as it dawned on him. How far he was willing to go because he was robbed of his family. How far he had gone, because Pinkie had died. He killed many people. True, they were nazis, but they were still people, with families, and friends. They had lives outside of their jobs, and now, they have none.
The pistol in his hand dropped to the ground. "...What have I done?" Ace spoke, as he stared off into space in shock. As all eyes focused on him, Ace looked over to Pinkie, tears welling up in his eyes. "Pinks...I've done things...I...I don't deserve to live with you in my lab." Ace fell to his knees, bawling his eyes out. "I don't deserve to live at all!" He shouted.
Pinkie suddenly wrapped Ace up in a hug, not knowing what to do about his outburst. She began shushing him, as their foal cuddled closer to them both. “Acey, why would you say things like that about yourself? Tell me what happened.”
Ace began confessing the shocking events of the battle in intricate detail. Pinkie and the group listened closely to Ace’s story, as he recounted his sins. At one point, he had to stop and breathe because of the difficulty he had processing the fact that he was able to be so cruel. When he finished, he was kneeling, and looking down at the ground in a mix of sorrow and guilt. “That’s who your husband is, Pinkie.” He said. “That’s what kind of monster I am.”
For a moment, the group was stunned. In the time it took for the battle to take place, he had played Judge, Jury, and Executioner for dozens of unarmed prisoners. Any way you look at it, he would be a criminal. Pinkie looked at Ace, strolled over, and kissed his forehead. Surprised, Ace looked up at Pinkie. “Pinkie?” He asked.
“It doesn't matter, Acey.” Pinkie said with a comforting smile. "The fact that you feel bad about it is proof that you regret it. And if you regret it, then you're gonna make up for it."
Ace remained unconvinced. "But I've done so much…” He said, gritting his teeth. “I can't be forgiven for so much, can I?"
Pinkie grimaced, and her ears folded back. "I admit, it's a lot to forgive…” She began, causing Ace’s shoulders to slump. “But as long as you work at making things right, then you can be forgiven for it.” Ace looked up at Pinkie’s smile, a hopeful expression on his face. She then took her hoof, and poked Ace in the chest. “You gotta forgive yourself, too. But I forgive you, so that's a start."
Ace shook his head, trying to process this. "No. No, I'm a villain, Pinkie. I'm not sure I can be forgiven. When you died, I...I just snapped. I couldn't stand the thought of living without you. I'm afraid if you're ever gone, I'll turn into that monster again, and...I might hurt someone who doesn't deserve it." Tears began to stream from Ace’s eyes again.
Pinkie suddenly caught Ace in another hug. She stroked her muzzle against the side of her face, and calmly said "That's why me and Chocolate will be there. We'll stick around to make sure that never happens again."
Ace sniffled. "Promise?"
Pinkie looked at Ace comfortingly, before raising her hoof in preparation to go through the motions. "Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." Another word was not said. Ace grasped Pinkie in a hug, and their foal giggled between them.
Deep in the ruins of an ancient structure, six ponies stood, encircling a pit. They all spoke a dark chant in an ancient language, except Midnight, who seemed to be speaking an incantation. With every word, a mist of dark energies in the pit writhed and lashed out, getting more and more frantic. Midnight’s words grew in intensity, and a bolt of lightning shot from her horn into the pit, charging the black mist with magical power. The chant ended, and a low rumble shook the ancient locale. A mist shot upwards, taking the form of a pony-like alicorn spirit with red eyes, and a disembodied voice shouted out. “I...am...free!”
At once, all six ponies bow down, and speak as one. “All hail the return of Equestria’s true master!”
The spirit turns it’s attention to Midnight, and the voice speaks again. “You have served me well. Now you must continue your service, and help me regain my power! Tell Manglanosa that he is no longer needed.”
Midnight rises. “Manglanosa’s men have been forced to leave Equestria, master. The human has failed his task.” She said, unflinching.
The spirit seemed to look off in the distance, narrowing it’s eyes. “It does not matter. The human has served his purpose. Now, all the pieces are in place. I will extend my influence, and use these newcomers to regain my full power!”
Midnight voiced a concern, tentatively taking a step towards her master. “What of the Elements? They will try to stop you, master.”
The spirit turned its attention back to Midnight. “They will be of no concern. Now that the ritual is complete, not even the Rainbow of Light will be able to banish me again. I will have my revenge! All shall fear me, and no one, not even the so-called Element of Harmony, nor their human pets will be able to stop me!”
Life resumed as normal. Ace recovered from his ordeal, but still overwhelmed with shock, behaved a bit differently. He became more aloof, more serious. But living with Pinkie and their new foal, Chocolate, gave him all the comfort he needed. So long as he had his family, he could not foresee any bad happening.
The princess was informed of only parts of the battle for Ghastly Gorge, as it came to be known. As far as anyone was concerned, Ace was a war hero, who succeeded in saving Pinkie’s life again (and earning the respect of Ponyville, who absolutely loved the mare,) and driving a hidden threat from Equestria. No one knew the truth of that battle. It was an absolute secret, shared by two humans, and three ponies. They all became closer, hanging out more and more often.
On the outside, the Sorou family lived happily ever after. But every night, Ace would wake up in a cold sweat, haunted by the day he became a monster, and fearful of the day when it happens again. It was only Pinkie’s comforting attention preventing it, reassuring Ace that he would never become that monster again.