Chapter Two: Gloom’s Return
“At last! We got it to work!” one of the Diamond Dogs announced with obvious delight.
The three Diamond Dogs were standing with the rest of the Legion of Gloom in a large cavern, surrounding a large green fire burning in the center of the room. It resembled the dragon fire Spike used to send and receive messages from Princess Celestia, and in fact it was a variant of it – while Diamond Dogs possessed little knowledge of magic (and zero ability to perform it) they did have some ancient knowledge of the properties of magical fire. Eons ago they were able to use it to craft the crude armor and weapons some Diamond Dogs possess to this day, and while the collective knowledge of how to do it has been lost to time with the decline of Diamond Dog civilization, the three Diamond Dogs of the Legion of Gloom had, through much research and hard work, finally managed to create a simple teleportation fire. And now they were ready to use it.
“Alright, then!” another Diamond Dog hollered. “What do we all want on our pizza?”
“The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie demands mushrooms and roasted peppers on her pizza!” The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie yelled back, lounging on a couch nearby.
“I’ll take one with anchovies,” Gilda said, not bothering to glance up from the magazine she was currently thumbing through.
“Hmph,” Prince Blueblood hmphed. “I’ll only accept the finest ingredients on my pie: fresh alfalfa sprouts, sun dried tomatoes, capers, basil leaf, a sprinkling of rosemary, and the finest quality ricotta known to ponykind.”
“I, Photo Finish, would never stoop to eat such garbage!” Photo Finish cried dramatically, waving her hoof with a flourish. “However, I vill accept a Greek salad.”
The third Diamond Dog finished scribbling the order down along with the number for the credit card tied to Prince Blueblood’s secret Equiss bank account before crumpling the piece of paper into a ball and tossing it into the fire. A moment later a sheet of paper with ‘THANKS FOR YOUR ORDER’ printed in large words next to a smiley face floated out of the fire. The largest Diamond Dog snatched the paper out of the air and read over the order details.
“30 minutes or it’s FREE!” he cried, bouncing up and down with delight. The other two Diamond Dogs joined in while everyone else in the room ignored them.
It had been over a month since The Author had teleported them to this small network of caves beyond the Everfree Forest, which had been already furnished when they arrived and had magical protections which prevented it from being detected, and the cavern was already showing obvious signs of their presence. Dirty plates and glasses were sitting on nearly every flat surface, a garbage can nearby was overflowing, stacks of half-read books and magazines were perched precariously on the edge of the dining table, the floor was in need of sweeping, and a bad smell had been emanating from the kitchen for the past few days. Prince Blueblood, who normally would have been horrified by these living conditions, was too lazy to do anything about it himself and his previous attempts to goad the others into cleaning up the place had been a dismal failure, so he had given up and resigned himself to living in squalor.
And the living conditions weren’t the only things that had downgraded for the Legion of Gloom in recent days – relations between the members, which were already iffy to begin with, had soured considerably given the lengthening period of time they had lived in close proximity to each other. Gilda was spending all her days as far removed from the other members as possible; Photo Finish was constantly at everyone’s throats; the Diamond Dogs stuck to themselves; Sir Lints-a-Lot, Madame LeFlour, Mr. Turnip and Rocky spent all their time sitting in a corner; and the relationship between Prince Blueblood and The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie, so steamy a month ago, had cooled somewhat lately.
Still, there was something for them to look forward to, and if weren’t for that fact they probably would have killed each other by now. Last week a new ally had made contact with them and was now acting as an operative in Ponyville. The plan they hatched together was brilliant – taking what they had learned of fan fiction from The Author, they would wait for twisted versions of Twilight Sparkle and her friends to come into this world (their ally had assured them that they would come), and their operative would see to it that these fanon versions stayed in place while the Legion of Gloom made their move. Now it was just a matter of waiting for the right moment.
There was a sudden ‘woosh!’ as the teleportation fire doubled in size, its green flames rising into the air almost high enough to lick the ceiling. Several pizza boxes materialized out of the flames which were neatly caught by one of the Diamond Dogs. He was about to dig into the first pizza when he noticed an envelope on top of the stack of boxes. He ripped it open and looked at the letter within.
“Hey! It’s a message!” he said. “From our friend in Ponyville!”
“Give me zat!” Photo Finish yelled, snatching the message out of his hands. But just as she was about to look at it the message began to glow softly and was levitated into the air.
“As royalty, The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie is entitled to be the first to read this message!” The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie announced, using her magic to draw the note toward her.
“In which case, I should be the first to receive it!” Prince Blueblood cried, using his magic to freeze the note in mid-air. The two unicorns struggled over it, engaged in a tug-of-war with their magic.
“Grrrff…mares…first!” The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie grunted.
“I…have…seniority!” Prince Blueblood panted.
“Oh for crying out loud,” Gilda scoffed, swooping in to snatch the note out of mid-air before quickly glancing it over. “Legion of Gloom, I have put our plan into effect, the Elements of Harmony are divided, blah blah blah, time to act,” she read aloud before tossing the paper onto the ground. “Alright, time to move out!”
“But what about the pizza?” The three Diamond Dogs cried simultaneously.
“Forget the pizza!” Gilda shouted. “We’ve got work to do!”
“But I purchased that food and I intend to consume it!” Prince Blueblood hollered.
“Yes, The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie was looking forward to that pizza…” The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie murmured.
“Akph…but…we…you…” Gilda stammered. “ARGH! Fine! We’ll eat the stupid pizza!” she finally relented.
Ponyville was in chaos. But not the kind of chaos that normally hits Ponyville, where there was panic and shouting and generally a lot of mad galloping around by the local denziens. No, this was a rather controlled chaos, but chaos none the less, as everypony in the village seemed to be entrapped in their own little world, oblivious to what was going on around them.
Everypony that is, except for six ponies walking down the main street taking it all in. The League of Fanons looked on at the scenes before them: Scootaloo was jumping around clucking loudly. A purple earth pony with a bunch of grapes for a cutie mark was stumbling down the street, clutching a wine bottle in one of her hooves. A blue unicorn with a blue and white striped mane was sailing through the air on a giant toothbrush (what the means of propulsion for the toothbrush were remains a mystery to this day). Sweetie Belle was standing nearby with her mouth open in an unrealistically large oval while her eyes pointed in opposite directions. An adorable black filly with glasses was trotting happily down the street. There seemed to be an unusually high number of ponies wearing socks. All this while Equestria was still experiencing what could only be described as strange solar behavior.
But amidst all this, there was one sight that drove one pony over the edge. DJ Pon3 could see Big Mac sitting under a tree clutching an old ragged doll with button eyes and short curled bunches of horse hair for a mane. But it was the way Big Mac held on to that doll with obvious love that pushed the DJ pony to do what she did next.
“Alright, that’s it!” DJ Pon3 cried, galloping towards Big Mac. “I’m going to put an end to at least one of these stupid shipping tropes.” She reared up and smacked Big Mac across the face, who, caught unawares, dropped to the ground.
“Geez, I didn’t mean to hit him that hard…” DJ Pon3 said somewhat guiltily. “But at least I can get this away from him…” she leaned over to pull the doll out of Big Mac’s grasp.
“Hi! My name is Smarty Pants and I love you!” the doll suddenly said.
“What – It talks?!” DJ Pon3 hollered, now holding the doll at arms’ length. The other members of the League of Fanons approached.
“Oh, it must be one of those magical talking dolls!” Lyra cried. “You know, enchanted with unicorn magic to say cute things. I hear they’re all the rage with fillies in Canterlot.”
“My name is Smarty Pants and I want you to love me too!” the doll said.
“Psht. Fat chance, dolly,” DJ Pon3 muttered.
“My name is Smarty Pants, and I think you’re tardy!” the doll continued.
“Yeah well my name is DJ Pon3 and I think you’re annoying,” DJ Pon3 spat at the doll in her hoof.
“My name is Smarty Pants, and I think I’m going to fail you,” the doll uttered.
There was a long silence following this statement. “This…is a toy for children of your world, right?” the Doctor asked awkwardly.
“My name is Smarty Pants, and I’m going to kill you.” At this the doll’s button eyes started to glow red and the curls of its mane began to levitate in the air. DJ Pon3 squealed in horror, flinging the doll to the ground. Before the doll could clumsily pull itself off the ground Octavia drew her bow/sword and in one clean motion removed the doll’s head from the rest of its body. It lay on the ground, looking pathetic as stuffing leaked out the hole on to the grass.
DJ Pon3 shuddered violently. “Okay…so we have disgusting shipping and psychopathic inanimate objects. Sometimes we have those two things together at once. This is just my regular life now, isn’t it?”
“Okay Doctor,” Derpy said. “Lay it on us, how bad is this?”
“Very bad,” the Doctor replied.
“On a scale of one to seven?” Bon Bon asked.
“…Seven?” the Doctor responded, looking confused. “Why seven?”
“Well, you know…seven,” Bon Bon said. “You know? Four hooves, two wings and a horn? Seven?”
“You ponies use a base-7 number system?” the Doctor cried in delight. “How wonderful!”
“DOCTOR!” Derpy shouted. “Forget the numbers and just tell us what’s going on!”
“Oh, right,” the Doctor muttered. “Well, as I said, our friends – and indeed all of the ponies in Equestria by this point it seems – have been replaced by some fanon version of themselves, pulled into this reality from their own. But all these versions of themselves in one place are inherently conflicting, and the resulting paradox should be destroying this dimension. So why isn’t reality collapsing around us yet?”
There was a long silence at these words as the League of Fanons considered the implications of what the Doctor was saying. Finally Octavia spoke up. “What about us, Doctor? Why haven’t we changed yet?”
“Well, strictly speaking, we’re already fanon characters, so we shouldn’t have much problem. Although we may experience one or two small…err…side effects,” the Doctor said, emphasizing the last two words with a false cheeriness.
“Side effects?” Derpy said, raising an eyebrow. “Such as…?”
“Well, such as maybe, maybe… Octavia and DJ Pon3 developing romantic feelings for each other,” the Doctor said.
“I KNEW IT!” Lyra squealed enthusiastically.
“Ooh, maybe it’ll be just like Allegrezza!” Bon Bon said, stars shining in her eyes.
“Forgive me if I withhold my enthusiasm,” DJ Pon3 muttered.
“Tell me Bon Bon…” Octavia said, throwing the pony a stern glare. “Who is the person who wrote this Allegrezza story?”
“Oh, that would a brony named CoffeeGrunt!” Bon Bon said cheerfully.
“Then mark my words,” Octavia growled. “If DJ Pon3 and I wind up kissing before this is over, I am going to kill that brony in his sleep.”
“Anything else?” Lyra asked the Doctor.
“Well…” the Doctor mumbled, rubbing his front hooves together anxiously. “Derpy might experience some…err…”
“Extra derpiness?” Derpy chuckled, sticking her tongue out. “No sweat, Doctor. I think I can handle it.”
“Well, yes, there’s that…” the Doctor muttered. “But there’s also…”
The League of Fanons jumped at the sound of a small, squeaky voice coming from right behind them. They turned around to see a small gray unicorn filly standing there, staring at Derpy.
“Hi Mommy!” the filly said happily. “How was work today? Did you deliver lots of mail?”
“M…Mommy?” Derpy stammered, looking at the filly.
“Oh, silly!” the filly said cheerfully. “I’m not Mommy, you’re Mommy!” She bounded up to Derpy and nestled herself against the pegasus, rubbing her head against Derpy’s leg. Before Derpy could pull back, say anything or even begin to truly comprehend what was going on, the filly had climbed up onto the pegasus’ back. “I’m tired, Mommy…” she mumbled before curling up to sleep between Derpy’s wings.
Lyra and Bon Bon had their mouths covered in horror. DJ Pon3 and Octavia were staring at Derpy, their mouths open in shock. The Doctor only looked at the gray pegasus with a sad expression on his face. Derpy stared at the filly for a long time before turning back to the other members of the League of Fanons. Her crossed eyes were brimming with tears.
“Derpy…” the Doctor mumbled softly. “…I’m so sorry…”
“Wh…wha…” was all Derpy managed to say. She tried to form the words, but she just couldn’t. She felt she should have been able to say something, anything – that this filly must be mistaken, that Derpy didn’t have a daughter or that this was all one big misunderstanding…but the expressions from the other fanons – the Doctor in particular – told her that this was no mistake. And so all she could do was cry. Whether it was for her or for her daughter that she had never met she wasn’t sure, but cry she did.