Chapter 20 Define: Veracity
Twilight looked around, everywhere she stared was another ride that defied reason, logic, physics, and any rational safety protocol such a place should have. To her left was the ‘Death Up’ a cruel twist of the death drop that LAUNCHED its riders up in the air. Flinging them to Celestia’ knows what fate. Next to that was some form of ferris wheel, whose riders seemed to go missing as soon as they got to the top, a merry-go-round where the riders were the horses. The entire place seemed to defy imagination. Yet the customers/victims all seemed too happy to get on, no two were alike, or even of the same species. Several she could identify from Equestria: griffons, lizards, dragons, ponies, and changelings just to name a few. Others were not from her world, or any world that Twilight knew of.
Rainbow turned back to Discord, “So… are you Chaos?”
Twilight thought about it, she supposed it was possible, but weren't all the gods bound by the two vows they swear too? Tartarus seemed insistent that he could not do anything that broke them. If Discord was Chaos, Twilight could name of a hundred violations of vow two, not to directly interfere with mortals.
“Rainbow, you are too kind, but no, I'm not Chaos.” Discord looked at the rainbow mare with a slight grin on his face. Rainbow seemed to accept this answer and turned away from the draconequus.
‘I sense a ‘but’ coming on,’ Twilight thought. Like the flying flanks that flew over his head were not a dead giveaway.
Rainbow turned and faced the draconequus, “but what?”
“I did just come from meeting with him.”
It was Twilight’s turn to talk, “Where is he?”
“Relax, dear princess, he knows why you are here and he is more than willing to give you what you want,”
‘Here comes another one.’
“But, he can’t meet with you two jussssttt yet. There are some matters that require his, shall we say, personal touch.” Discord slowly started petting a putty cat that magically appeared in his arms. “He didn’t want to leave you two without anything to do; as such he put on this carnival just for you!”
“How long will he be?” Rainbow asked.
“Oh he shouldn’t be more than,” Discord paused and examined a clock face on the side of a mountain several thousand miles in the distance, one that was missing any form of hands or numbers. “About an hour.”
Rainbow sighed, if Chaos was anything like Tartarus he would have his own sense of time, and hour would be a day. “Great. Well Twi, looks like we got a day to kill.”
“By all means friends, step up to the ticket booth.” Discord snapped his fingers, teleporting behind a brand new ticket booth that appeared next to the entrance of the carnival, “Hey there princess, step on up, step on up and have a wonderful time at Pandemonium, the greatest place you will never be.”
Twilight let out a very loud sigh, whatever was going on they really did not have a choice, Chaos would meet with them when he was ready. Ignoring his ‘gift’ or being rude would not speed the God up. If anything, he might take back his offer of help.
Rainbow was actually a little excited, she went over to Twilight and head-butted her on the flank, “C'mon Twi, it’s not like we've got anything better to do, and besides, some of these rides look like fun. The ones that are not suicidal that is.”
Twilight looked around, Rainbow did have a point, some of these rides did look like fun, it seemed for every ride that looked as if it would kill you, another looked enjoyable. “Alright Rainbow, let’s try it.”
“That’s the spirit ‘princess’, way to get in the mood.” Discord commented.
As the two ponies stepped up to the ticket booth, Discord handed them each a complementary ‘ticket’, one being a banana peel, the other a half-eaten tangerine. “Courtesy of your most generous host, don’t lose them, you will need them to leave.” As the two turned away and went to enter the park, Discord shouted out behind them, “Have fun on your DATE, you kids!”
Twilight and Rainbow both stopped dead and looked at each other, blushing heavily. Then as one, the two turned back to yell at Discord, “IT’S NOT A-” He was already gone. No sign remained of the Spirit of Chaos.
Fuming, Twilight turned back around and headed into the carnival, disappointed with herself for letting Discord ‘once again’ get under her fur. Rainbow stared at her mad friend, quickly realizing that Twilight was about to leave her behind, “Hey, wait up!” Rainbow took off, quickly catching up with the purple princess.
It took Rainbow a minute to calm Twilight down, but eventually, the two were soon able to enjoy themselves, taking in some of the rides (avoiding the suicidal ones) and even a few of the food stands. It seemed Discord was right about one thing, Chaos had indeed put this whole spectacle on just for them. Every ride they went to had no line, every food stall was the same, and none of them wanted the slightest bit of compensation. It was not long until Twilight actually found one that she wanted to go through, a ride called: “The House of Truths.”
“Good pick, my little ponies!” Discord appeared behind the two, causing them both to jump up in shock.
“Discord!” Twilight yelled.
“What? I just saw what a wonderful time you two were having and decided to say hi, isn’t that what 'friends' do?"
Twilight sighed, ‘He keeps trying to use friendship as a weapon, maybe I can turn the tables?’.
“Yes Discord, yes it is. However friends also tell each other the truth. Have you been truthful with us?” Twilight wanted to know if Chaos would actually give up his portion of the Occulous, what she got was something totally unexpected.
“Hmm… you ponies want the truth, huh? Well I tell you what, go into this funhouse and it will reveal to you three truths each.”
Twilight stared in disbelief at Discord. Her mind not comprehending this development.
“See aren’t I such a good 'friend', princess. Triple what you expected, huh?” at that three Discords appeared, each holding up three hands with three fingers on each hand.
“C'mon Twilight, lets try it out!” Rainbow pushed her friend to the door. Twilight sighed, ‘It seems I have no choice’, she started heading to the door with her friend.
“Ah, sorry Rainbow, the entrance for golden wing ponies is around back.” Discord appeared right in front of Dash, pointing a claw at a sign that had not been there before. One that specified golden wings ponies around back. At that, Rainbow looked like someone had just killed her tortoise.
It was Twilight’s turn to comfort her friend, “C'mon Rainbow, it'll be alright. I'll go with you.”
“Sorry princess, only golden wing ponies can enter that way, you enter this way.” Sure enough a new sign appeared above the other one, “Mandatory Entrance for Princesses of Equestria.”
“Oh wipe that look off your faces, you will meet in the middle, that’s the fun after all!”
Rainbow sighed, “You want to still do this, Twi?” After a moment though Twilight nodded, it was too golden an opportunity to pass up.
“Alight Twi, I'll see you inside.” She took off in a dash, running to the other entrance, seeking to reunite with her friend as soon as she could. ‘Lets see, the entrance should be around here somewhere. Looking up she saw a big neon sign with a figure pointed at a hole fifty feet up the wall. ‘How did I miss that?’
Rainbow flew up and in, the entrance disappearing before she knew it. Dash found herself in a fun house, mirrors off all shapes reflecting her image back to her. Not her current image, in almost all, she was her normal cyan-blue self, no sign of the hilt on her back. She paused and admired herself in each one. In this one she was Captain of the Wonderbolts, flying high and leading her team in another successful performance. In that one she was waving her foal off for its first day of school, crying next to her husband Soarin. ‘That's weird, I never thought of him like that before.’ The next one had her playing with all her Ponyville friends… no she was not playing. She was FIGHTING them… why? Why was she seeking to hurt her friends like that, she would never! Rainbow moved on quickly, barely pausing to look at any more of the mirrors, afraid of what she would see.
However, there was no way out of this room. Every twist and turn ended with more mirrors, in some she was with her friends, in some she had a family, in some she was a mother, a teacher, a baker, a lover, a stallion? That was slightly disturbing. Dash started panicking. Each mirror showing her something that never was, or something that could have been, or worse, things that might have been.
After her third trip around the room, she stopped. A realization hit her like ton of bricks. None of these mirrors had Twilight in them. Rainbow began losing it, no longer caring what the mirrors showed of her; she wanted to find one with her friend in it. "No that’s just me raising Scoots, no that’s me 'involved' with pinkie, no that’s me killing Celestia, no, no, no, no, no, no, WHAT THE BUCK!”
She paused, in the mirror down at the end of the hall, her reflection was missing and instead Applejack's was staring down at her. A vicious smile over her normally friendly face. “That’s not Applejack.”
“Of course it isn’t, dear Dashie.” Discord appeared in the mirror with the farmer, lazily floating around the orange mare. “But, who better to reveal the truth to you then the pony who was the bearer of the Element of Honesty.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“What’s wrong Dashie? I thought you liked it when your friend called you Dashie?”
“Discord get this through your skull, I'm not, nor have I ever been, your friend, you are a friend of Fluttershy and she is my friend. We have only EVER been acquaintances at best. You know it, I know it. Lets not insult each other by pretending otherwise.”
“He, he, and I reckoned’ I was the honest one.”
“Don’t let it talk, Discord.”
Discord looked at Rainbow with a smile all over his faces, which were just now coming from every mirror in the room. “Sorry Dash, I'm just the Spirit of Chaos after all, when the God of Chaos makes something happen, well there's nothing I can do about it.”
The AJ in the mirror continued grinning at her friend. “Well sugar, I reckon it's time for you to know a few truths.”
Dash’s world went black.
When Dash came too, she was back in Celestia’s Throne Room. She had seen this before, she had lived it before, Celestia and Luna were both in the room. The two were waiting for their guests to arrive. Right on schedule a huge set of double doors opened, allowing two ponies to walk into the room, a purple alicorn, and a cyan-blue pegasus. This was the start of the Princess Summit, Discord had teleported her back in time.
“Twilight, it’s a trap!” Rainbow yelled; it was no use, they could not hear her.
“Tisk tisk Rainbow, we can't change the past, now can we?” Discord appeared in the stained glass window to her right.
“Discord, why am I here?”
“To witness something.”
“I've seen it.”
“Oh not that, I have little doubt Tartarus would have made you witness Twilight's victory over his pet reaper, but that’s not what I want you to see. Something happens in a minute, something that no one noticed. Something you get to see."
Rainbow tried to relax; whatever Discord wanted her to see, it would happen soon. There was nothing she could do about it. She doubted that Discord lied about not being able to change the past. If he could, he would have stopped the princesses from ever defeating him in the first place.
So Rainbow watched and waited, she watched as Twilight and her old self greeted the princesses, she watched as one of the ‘guards’ came up and informed Celestia and Luna of an emergency. Distracting the two, Rainbow watched as Twilight asked Rainbow about her time in the Wonderbolts. She was forced to watch as her old self decided to show off a little of what she had learned. She watched as Chrysalis revealed herself by blasting a hole straight through her old self’s stomach. She did not want to watch the next part.
“Rainbow, this is why you are here. You have to watch this.”
Rainbow had a ringside seat as Twilight’s heart broke. Twilight collapsed next to Rainbow’s prone form. Her face was blank, a river of tears flowing down from Twilight's eyes. Rainbow watched as her pupils collapsed in on themselves, leaving only the white, Rainbow started crying. The hurt Twilight had suffered at that moment, it was worse than any pain Rainbow had ever experienced in her life, but she would not turn away. Even if it did nothing for Twilight, there might be a chance that by sharing this pain, it might be able to lessen what Twilight was going through. If there was even the slightest chance that was the case, Tartarus himself could not tear her from that spot.
“Look closely Rainbow, this is important.”
She saw it… she could not explain it; she doubted even Twilight would have been able to. In the physical plane, nothing happened. Rainbow’s vision had moved beyond the physical, she did not know if it was something Discord had done, or if it was a side effect of the trauma the alicorn in front of her was suffering. A bridge had formed, connecting two powers that were never meant to be connected. Twilight accessed a reservoir of power never meant for mortals. It was a power sealed away inside Twilight, it was never meant for her full use, she would have only been able to access the smallest fraction of that power, even as an alicorn. This power flooded the alicorn's body. Imbuing her with the full power of a God.
Rainbow awoke. She was back in the room of mirrors, save this time, there were no reflections staring back at her. This time Discord was floating over her.
“You saw it?”
“Yes… thank you for letting me know.”
Rainbow lashed out with her wings, slicing the draconequus in three sections.
“OWW! What the hell!” Discord put himself back together, glaring angry at the black pegasus that had actually managed to hurt him.
“WHERE WERE YOU?! Where were you in all that?! You saw what happened. The pain she went through. It broke her! You could have stopped it! So I ask one more time, where were you?” The anger coming of the mare was palpable.
Discord shrunk down, he felt as small as a mouse, and as such became the size of one. “I’m sorry, Rainbow.”
“What was that?!” More anger radiated off Rainbow Dash, all of it sent to Discord.
“I said I'm sorry, I knew the bug queen was up to something but, when I finally figured it out, it was too late. She had activated those accursed magic dampeners. I tried to stop it, you may not believe it, but I did try.”
“Magic dampeners?” Rainbow was confused, nopony had told her about those.
“Cursed objects designed by the most annoying unicorn ever, Starswirl. He built ten of the things; they were his fallback plan to defeat me. Naturally the princesses finding the Tree of Harmony made them moot so he hid them. Chrysalis found them, I… I'm sorry.”
For the first time in her life, Rainbow believed Discord. She did not forgive him. After what she saw, after the pain Twilight had gone through, THAT could never happen. However, she did believe him. The emotion on his face was true, he really was sorry about letting it get that far. As a way of response, Rainbow lowered her wings, no longer threatening the draconequus.
“Now you know the truth, you know the power she has, with such power comes benefits, and drawbacks. Take some time Rainbow and really consider what those mean for her, and you.”
With a snap of his fingers, he was gone. Leaving the black mare alone; considering his words.
The mirror in front of her shattered, each piece evaporating in an instant before it hit the ground. ‘At least I can finally leave this room.’
The next room looked a lot like the first, however, instead of possible Dashes reflected at her, this one showed all of her friends. All of her POSSIBLE friends. There was Rarity, the lead fashion designer in Equestria, in the next, her face covered in cat scratches, and she had a heart brand over her chest. Pinkie, planning her fifth son's birthday, Pinkie, cooking Rainbow and making her into cupcakes. On and on it went, each of her friends revealed to her at their very best, and very worst. Possible and impossible… no, improbable alike. She stopped at one mirror, this one got Dash’s attention not because of what it showed, but what it didn’t show. There was nothing in it, not even her reflection.
“Ok Discord, what's this one going to show me?”
“How should I know?”
“Yeah right, c'mon I want to find Twilight.”
“Why?” Discord asked.
“Why do you want to find Twilight so bad?”
“What are you talking about? She's my friend."
“Your friend huh? Like her?” at that Pinkie appeared in the mirror, her smiling face glaring at Rainbow. “Or her? Or her? Or her?” each of Rainbow friends took a turn in the mirror.
Rainbow did not get it. “Yes, they are all my friends.”
“But Rainbow, you have never gone to this length for ANY of the others. When was the last time you let Fluttershy cry on your shoulder.” With that several images of Fluttershy crying with Rainbow nearby flashed through the mirror. In each one the yellow pegasus had needed her comfort and in each one it was denied. “Now if that isn’t harsh I don’t know what is.”
“I don’t do the touchy feely thing and she knows it.”
“Really, lets keep looking.” The images changed to the events over the last few weeks. All the times Twilight had sought comfort from her, she had given it to her, willingly. “That’s different.” Rainbow said sheepishly.
“I couldn’t feel anything during it.” Rainbow knew that was a lie and Discord called her out on it.
“Now, now Rainbow, lets not insult each other by lying.” Discord said, mirroring a version of her own words back to her.
The rest of her friends began speeding through the mirror, each in a similar position to what Fluttershy had been in, and in each one Rainbow had refused to drop her guard. Unlike what she had done with Twilight.
“Twilight is special.”
“Oh you don’t have to explain it to me Rainbow, its someone else that you need to convince of the truth.”
The mirror flashed once more, revealing the pony that needed to be convinced of the truth.
Her reflection stared back at her, her true reflection, black coat and all.
The mirror shattered, leaving Dash alone with her thoughts yet again.
Rainbow did not hurry into the next room, she had a lot to consider. Mainly no longer hiding her feelings from herself. She expected another room full of mirrors, another room full of hard truths. There was only one. One mirror at the end of the room. This one made her happy. This one had Twilight in it.
“TWILIGHT!” forgetting herself, Rainbow ran up to the mirror. When she reached it, it dawned on her that this was yet another ‘trick’ from Discord. She enjoyed it anyway, taking this opportunity to look at her friend. Really look; she examined Twilight's coat, her white eyes, the unique cutie mark that adorned her flank. It all made sense in the context of what she had learned. No wonder Twilight had always been good with magic, what had she said earlier ‘even a fraction of a God's power is still a lot’.
“It's good to see you Twilight, even if it's not really you.” The events of before weighed heavily on Rainbow's heart. This mare, Princess Alicorn Twilight Sparkle, she had suffered, and more so than any other pony Rainbow knew of. Rainbow would gladly throw herself into the pits of Tartarus if it would stop Twilight from ever feeling that way again. The knowledge that Rainbow had indirectly caused that suffering, by leaving her friend like that, even if there had been nothing she could have done about it. It broke her heart.
“I promised you once Twilight, and I renew that promise now,” she crossed her heart and stuck a hoof in her eye. “I will never leave you again.”
“I love you, Rainbow.”
Rainbow stared up at Twilight's reflection; she knew it was not real. She knew that this was nothing more than a reflection of Twilight. At that moment, it did not matter. Hearing Twilight say those words, Rainbow was the happiest mare in the world.
“I love you, Twilight.”
The mirror shattered.