It's so dark and foggy, Ah can't see a thing. Where am Ah?
"Yer asleep, Apple Bloom."
"Applejack? Is that you?"
"But ya sound just like her."
"Ah was an Applejack."
"Dreams are weird."
"Ya might be asleep, Bloom, but it ain't right ya think this here is just a dream. Ya might be sleepin' in yer bed, but this is very real."
"That doesn't make sense!"
"Ya ain't in the dream world, what happens to ya here, happens fer real. But explainin' it all ta ya ain't the point of ya bein' here."
"If yer not Applejack, who are ya?"
Then, like a snap of Spike's fingers, Ah was layin' face up on my bed, Ah couldn't move. It was just my bed, the smoky darkness was still all around.
Then Ah was looking at an Alicorn lookin' down at me, but she wasn't an Alicorn. She had eyes like a dragon, and her coat had a dark orange tone to it. Her magic mane reminded me of a sunset. Her bardin' was all reflective and silvery with green jewels all over that looked like her eyes, her armor covered her wings too. Ah moved my eyes and saw her cutie mark was three green apples with red leafs. She was wearin' pa's hat, just like Ah wore Ma's ribbon.
"My name is Nightmare Mirror. Ah was a pony named Applejack until Ah decided to stop smiln' and noddin' every time somepony lied through their teeth rather than face the truth. Ah'm not from yer world. Mine disappeared a long time ago."
"But, but, Applejack! If you just wanna help ponies be honest, why are ya a Nightmare?!"
"Ah told ya, Ah ain't 'Applejack' no more. Ah don't deserve to be called Applejack anymore. Stop cofusin' me with yer sister. And because Ah wasn't gonna take 'don't upset the applecart' for an answer."
"But didn't ya get possessed by the Nightmare Forces?"
"There is no 'Nightmare Forces.' And even if they did they can't make real Nightmares. That's just a lie they made up so Luna and Fluttershy could move along without ponies botherin' 'em. The spirits of black magic can't 'control' anypony against their will, they just service ponies who WANT to become monsters to change the world, they can't influence ponies' choices in the least, and they ain't got one say in what ya do after. They're just the benefactors fundin' a Nightmare's plans. Ah'm a Nightmare, Luna became a Nightmare, Fluttershy became a Nightmare, and it's all our own rotten fault, and everythin' we DO as monsters is our own rotten fault!"
"Ah'm Nightmare Mirror, Ah only speak the truth. An' here's another truth, 'Bloom. Ah've stuck 'round here too long as is. Yer world is 'bout to change, and not for the better. There are those whose names don't matter that hate seein' ya ponies' always comin' out smellin' like a rose whenever somethin' rotten happens to ya all. There about ta fill the world with lies that are twisted up with the truth until they'll become the truth. And ya'll think them lies have always been the truth, and the world's...the world's gonna become somethin' horrible."
"But, Applejack, if yer a Nightmare, Ah thought that meant ya were...I dunno, evil?"
"Nightmares are monsters. We throw out everythin' inside us except one bit of us. And we're crazy...But ya know how in comics sometimes a bad guy sees somethin' so evil even they think it's horrible? Now's one of those times." Her horn glowed red, and a drop of some silverly stuff stopped floated into my view. "I'd tell ya who, but the truth is it won't change what's gonna happen, and ya'll just panic."
No, it ain't some 'stuff', it was...the Truth.
"Brace yerself, Ah ain't got no clue if this'll hurt or not." Suddenly mah eyes weren't moving no more, and her magic pulled on my right eyelid.
"Ah'm gonna do this whether ya say yes or no, but yer gonna say yes. Even though ya don't want ta lose yerself. Ah'm doin' this, so ya can pierce the lies that fill the world. And yer gonna see how ugly and horribles lies really are. Like Ah did. And when it's all over, yer gonna remake the world yerself. Because ya'll want to. Nightmares are hypocrites, and when it's over, ya'll won't just champion the truth, at the end darlin', ya'll MAKE THE TRUTH! Ya'll be the one!"
"H-How do Ah know ya ain't the one behind the world turnin' bad? Did you make that weird magic fog?"
"Ah swear on Ma and Pa's graves, Ah ain't, nor are any of my friends, cohorts, partners, or whatever else ya might call 'em, are behind that fog, or had anythin' ta do with that fog comin' about. We're as connected as Nightmare Moon is responsible for Twilight Sparkle bein' born. It ain't no plan of ours. But yer gonna be part of stoppin' it. And for that, Ah need to do this. And ya know why, Bloom?"
I felt so small, everythin' she said, it held, I couldn't call any of it fake. "W-why?"
"Because if Ah didn't, ya'll won't notice the world changin', and ya'll be twisted up inside into just another gritty dark piece of trash that's a mockery of everythin' yer supposed to be...and so will everypony ya love. Or ya can do somethin' to save yer friends, yer family, yer neighbors, yer classmates, and yer princesses from an army of lies. These here are the words of Nightmare Mirror, who only speaks the truth!"
"...Ah wanna help my friends."
"Found, found, found, you Applejack! Am I interrupting interrupting interrupting anything?"
Yikes! What the-?! NIGHTMARE PINKIE PIE?!
"Ah'm just about done here, Pinkie Pie. Tell RD Ah'll be back in a tick."
"Okay okay okay AJ! I'll be sure sure sure to tell Dashie! Be hurry back back back! We've a got a lot do..."
"Ah know." She looked me in the eye, Ah couldn't move my mouth now. "Ah hope we don't meet again, Bloom. Ah'd say Ah love ya more than anything, but that'd be a filthy lie, 'cuz Ah love truth more. Down this here path, yer gonna lose the right ta call yerself a filly....Maybe ya already lost that. Ah don't want ya to forgive me, ever," She let the drop of the truth fall in my eye. It did hurt.
"YEOW!" Ah screamed, sitting up in bed, in my room. Ah had a headache, and my right eye was throbbin' something fierce! Like somepony stuck a hot poker in it! Ah brought my hooves to my face, Ah didn't feel anythin' there, but dang it hurt!
Ah went to the bathroom...Mah eyes looked fine. No fancy glowing stuff. No fallin' into myself or nothin', at least the pain was fadin' fast. Ah looked out my window. No monsters. No z-zombies. No Mare In the Moon. No chaos monster. Just more of that dang fog!
Maybe it WAS all a dream?...Ah can hope, can't Ah?
Huh? Look at the clock, oh no Ah'm gonna be late! Rush down! Eat breakfast, say good mornin'! Got gotta do my mornin' chores before even gettin' ready for school! Can talk with AJ and Miss Twilight 'bout this later!
Okay, so after a rush through everything, Ah was on my way to meetin' up with the others, and now with time to spare. Funny how things work out, ain't it?
"Scootaloo," Ah asked. "What's with the braid?"
"Oh this? Didn't want a mane cut, but still had to keep it out of my eyes."
"Apple Bloom, Winona gets along fine with the rest of your animals, right?" Sweetie Belle asked glancing at her saddle bag.
"Yeah, she knows not to bother the cows for their bridge game, leaves the sheep alone for their poker night, and we made sure she knows not to get herself hurt botherin' the pigs."
"The pigs? Shouldn't they be more scared of her?"
Ah told Sweetie Belle, "Pigs are NOT harmless, and they are NOT docile if ya invade their pen. They're animals, they're dangerous. Especially the males."
"Come on, Apple Bloom, we helped feed your pigs once, remember? Blech. They weren't...that bad," Scoots said.
"And I..." Silver Spoon spoke, "Had a dream where I got pushed into a mud hole with pigs at the train station with Diamond Tiara."
"Scootaloo, Ah have a cousin who ended with broken ribs and had to go to the hospital because she wandered into a pig pen thinkin' she could just play in the mud with the pigs and they didn't like 'er invading their space. They knew we were brin' 'em food and not invadin' their turf. But ya get 'em upset, it's not pretty. Pushing another filly into a pigpen puts 'em in DANGER! Ah'd never do that."
"Oh it wasn't you in my dream, Apple Bloom. I imagined you had a cousin from Manehatten called Babs Seed who did it. And she didn't push us, she scared us, I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest and...Apple Bloom?"
Ah'd stopped dead n my ah track. "Wha...what did you just say?"
"I said I dreamed up you had a cousin in-"
"Manehatten? Babs Seed?"
"So? It was just a dream and-"
I grabbed her and looked her in the eyes. "But that's impossible!"
"AH DO have a cousin in Manehatten! Her name IS Babs Seed! But Ah've never even met 'er! Ah've never even mentioned her to any of ya! Have Ah?" Ah looked at the others who shook their heads. "Silver Spoon! How can ya dream of a cousin Ah never told ya about?! You dreamed this last night?"
Her eyes went wide. Almost scared.
"N-N-no! It was before the wedding! It...reminded me of things I wasn't proud of."
"Don't know things you should, knowing things you shouldn't. Whaddaya think that means?" A creepy voice said.
"WAAA!" We startled at the little colt that just popped out of nowhere between us.
"Oh, heheheh, sorry." He gave us a sheepish grin and brushed the back of his head. "Scaring ponies is my special talent." He showed us his flank: a jack-o-lantern. "I' kinda let it slip sometimes, I'm Phobia, nice to meetcha!" he exclaimed, giving a smirk and offering a hoof.
We didn't recognize him, but that wasn't weird. Foals transferred in and out of our school all the time. We each politely shook his hoof and introduced ourselves.
"I"m Sweetie Belle."
"Ah'm Applebloom, ya new in town?"
"Naw, just unnoticed."
"Sounds like Button Mash," Scootaloo said. "I'm Scootaloo."
Okay, I'm stepping in. Apple Bloom can't appreciate this next part, as a pegasus who was scared she'd never fly, I can. She knows Earth Pony Magic better than a lot of grown-ups, so the idea of not having what makes her tribe special just isn't something she knows.
I noticed first this brown colt was a pegasus like me...but his wings were broken. My own wings pressed against my hard, Dash said it was rude to stare but I couldn't take my eyes off 'em. Any pegasus reading this will know exactly how I feel!
Phobia followed my look to 'em.
"It's alright, I don't mind," he said casually. "Life isn't fair. Crud happens...that's the truth...but it's also the truth that life is something worth fighting for...funny thing about truth? Ponies say things they think or want to be true, and if enough ponies THINK it's true, it's said to be true. Does that make it true?"
"NO," Apple Bloon said sternly.
"True, but remember, that truth you just spoke, isn't everypony's truth, and most ponies have no clue what they're saying not be true, they're just going by what they know. And they aren't bad for it...but the one spreading the lies might be..."
"Ahem, that is enough for now." Burr, that voice is frosty. Where did she come from? It's this really pale blue unicorn lady, is she his nanny or grandma? She's wearing this hood-cloak thingie, and I can't see her eyes...
My turn, it was never as bad as with Scootaloo, but I was beginning to think I'd never be able to do magic before the wedding. Phobia's nana had a broken horn. I ran a little magic through my own horn without thinking.
"Oh sorry! Got to go! This is Void! Don't worry, she's not as bad as she makes everypony think she is."
"Oh, storytime. The story is 'Something Wicked This Way Trots'."
"Uh...my sis don't let meh read that one, she said it was too scary for foals."
"Oh, it is scary, but I love scary. And it's also a delightful story about how love can conquer evil and the pursuit of love can lead you out of the darkest of times. I think we can all learn from that, don't you?"
"Is yer pa a publisher?"
"Move right now," Miss Void said sternly.
"Seriously, nice to meetcha! See ya later!"
Then...uh, I'm not really sure, I think they teleported, Miss Void must be really good if she could teleport with that cracked horn, I think her magic color was black or really dark gray. Or the fog suddenly got so tick we couldn't see them. I really couldn't tell.
Fog? Yeah. Scootaloo was flapping her wings a lot just to get it away from her. And it was getting thicker. Like, the sky was whiter than my coat!
After we talked with Phobia I was worried that we were gonna be late, but the public clocks showed we still had time to spare.
"Hi Sweetie Belle!" Who was that again? Oh right, Button Mash, he too young for Miss Cheerilee, and didn't care about his cutie mark. Maybe he changed his mind? He happily trotted over to me and put an arm around my shoulder. What? "How are ya doin' today?" He smiled.
"Uh, I'm fine," I said, trying to be nice as I tried to gently slip his hoof off me. The others were looking at us weird too.
I didn't like how he looked hurt. He pressed his ears against his head. "Um. Are you still mad about me getting brain freeze on our date and making a scene? I...I really am sorry and...you did call me still cute so I thought..."
"What are you talking about? I've never been on a date with you." I asked. Was this a game? Or was there another Sweetie Belle in Ponyville...? Who looked like me? Was there a changeling going around pretending to be me?
Now he looked like I had just kicked him in the stomach. "Sweetie Belle I..." His eyes misted over as he sniffed. "I'll, talk to you later?" He ran ahead to school.
"Did you two have a fight?" Silver Spoon asked.
"What?" I looked at Silver Spoon, she was being completely honest. "I've never been on a date with him in my life!"
"Sweetie Belle, that's not nice, I know he's a lunk-head but he really does care about you. You shouldn't just brush him off after everything."
I shook my head. Was I dreaming? I check. Nope, I still have my fur and mane. "Silver Spoon, I'm not joking. I've never dated him before!"
"Sweetie Belle are you sick?" Silver Spoon put a hoof to my forehead, "No fever. Sweetie Belle listen to me, you and Button Mash have been coltfriend and fillyfriend since last year! Diamond and I teased you about it!"
"Silver Spoon, Ah don't remember any of that." Thank you, Apple Bloom!
"I don't either." Scootaloo shook her head.
Silver Spoon looked at us. Looking a little hurt herself. "What are you saying? That I told Button Mash to pull a prank on you? Girls I know what I remember!"
I look at my friends. And they didn't even know what to say.
"Silver Spoon I...I don't think you're lying, but...I know what I remember too," I said.
"But that makes no sense! We can't remember things THAT differently. And girls, I swear, I didn't have anything to do with Button Mash!"
"I think we're gonna have to save this mystery for a bit later! Don't forget we've got class!" Scootaloo said.
Silver Spoon reluctantly nodded. And I had the worst sense of being left out...I didn't like I had hurt somepony's feelings, but why would he and Silver Spoon think we were special friends? Did Chryssy's magic mess with my head more than I thought or something? But...that doesn't make sense if Apple Bloom and Scoots both remember it the same way!
Ruby Pinch and Orange Top were outside the school house waiting for the first bell to ring.
"Button Mash ran into class crying, Sweetie Belle what did you do to him?" Ruby Pinch asked.
"I didn't do anything!" I blurted out.
"Well, you are his fillyfriend, and I heard you were embarrassed on your latest play-date so-"
"We're not special friends!"
Ruby and Orange looked at each other, looking shocked. Ruby said, "It was THAT BAD huh?"
"No no no, you don't understand, there wasn't any date."
"He stood you up? I guess he likes his video games more than you after all." Ruby sighed. "Colts."
"He didn't stand me up because there wasn't any date!" I felt like I was going crazy! Apple Bloom and Scootaloo gave me a hug. Now I felt like crying.
Ruby and Orange looked a little scared of me.
Not knowing what else to do, I went to my desk inside...but...my stuff wasn't there...it was...in a desk next to Button Mash who looked miserable and had his head buried in his video game, the 'game over' jingle beeping out over and over.
Okay, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo knew this wasn't right, but why did Silver Spoon and everypony else seem to think it was? If this was a prank, I really didn't get the joke. Not even Silver and Diamond at their worst would've done something this cruel. And poor Button really did look heart broken! Who was the prank even on?!
"Twist? Ya okay, why aren't ya with Truffle?" I turned my head, the others were talking to Twist. I hadn't noticed with this weirdness but...Twist was sitting by herself, she looked lonely. And Truffle, was sitting on the other side of the room with a happy Tootsie Flute draping one of her forelegs around him. Neither of them were even looking Twist's way.
"Why would I be?" Twist asked.
"Because you two are special friends, duh," Scootaloo said.
"That's not funny Scootaloo!"
"Huh?" Scootaloo tilted her head.
"Wait, you're not..." Apple Bloom looked like she had a little headache, I know how those are. "Not Truffle's special friend?"
"Of...of course I'm not, Tootsie Flute is, she has been since last Hearts and Hooves day, maybe you were too busy giving Miss Cheerilee her giant heart to notice but...yes, she is. I'm not."
Apple Bloom's headache looked like it was getting worse. Why was she covering one eye? "But...that ain't true."
"Bon Bon," Lyra said, "I have something to confess."
"I'm really, SECRETLY A CHANGELING!" Green flame, and Lyra revealed her true form.
"What? But I'M secretly a changeling!" Bon-Bon shifted into her changeling form.
June Bug stuck her head through a window, "Well that's a surprise! Cause I'M secretly a changeling too!" And she revealed herself as such.
Moth looked at her family, feeling very confused and conflicted. "Why did none of you bring this up before?!"
A royal guard walked into the room set aside for the slowly recovering Neatly Spell, with Prince Blueblood there along with Arcane Spell for her morning visit with her healing sister.
"Prince Blueblood, a Miss Twinkle Sharkle is here to see you, she's wondering why you've constantly avoided appointments with her."
Prince Blueblood's brain threaten to shut down at the combination of words that came out of the guard's mouth. "Twilight Sparkle wants to see me?"
"No no no sir, Twilight SHARKLE."
"Dear I'm not going to be jealous, it's just business," Arcane Spell said.
Prince Blueblood felt dizzy.
Dinky hadn't arrived at school yet. She was still in her home's kitchen. She was sitting at the table, looking between two identical pegasi. Neither one about to let their precious muffin off with an 'impostor' who was clearly a shape shifting plastic pony in disguise.
"Muffin, it's me! Your mommy! Ditzy Doo!"
"No Muffin! I'm me! Your mommy! Derpy Hooves!"
"Muffin you can tell right?! It's really me!"
"Muffin, don't listen to her, I'm me!"
"Okay, joke's over, I opened the TARDIS and found gardening tools inside and the inside as big as the outside, so where did you girls move my real- GALLOPING GALLIFREY!"
"DOCTOR! LOOK OUT! SHE'S AN ALIEN! Quick! Zap us both! Hey!" They shouted together.
"Dear, we're hom-" said a third walleyed grey Pegasus and a second brown Earth Pony walking in. These ones the opposite gender of their counterparts.
"...Since when did I have a daddy?" Dinky asked.
There was a heavy slamming on Fluttershy's door that morning. If a pound could sound angry, that's what it would have sounded like. Fluttershy pulled herself from bed, ugh, was her mane longer?
She opened the door to find an angry bear in a vacation shirt looking very cross with her. "So what's the big deal?! I trust you and Rainbow Dash to look after my cave, while I'm playing volleyball at the beach and collecting sea-shells, and you never show!"
Then ANOTHER BEAR pushed the first one aside and said, "Hey! No! They were gonna watch my house while I was while I'm playing with seashells at the beach and collecting volleyballs, and they never showed!"
"Who do you think you are?"
"No, I'm Harry!"
The Flutters fainted.
Applejack, had finished her workload for the minute, and turned things over to Big Mac (her big brother and her had come to the compromise after AJ's workaholism nearly made her work herself to death, practically poisoned plenty of ponies, overpropelled a pegasus, and terrorized bushels of brand-new bouncing baby bunnies).
Their tenant flocks had already produced this month's quota of wool and milk, and Fleece and Daisy Jo were asking for their cut of the profits. AJ didn't want to think about what new lopsided contracts Flim and Flam would have written up for the flock and cows if they'd gotten Sweet Apple Acres. If they'd actually bothered to keep them on, since the brothers seemed to be in it for the money on apples, not on wool and milk.
AJ took a minute to read through the magically self-updating copy of the Foal Free Press.
AJ hadn't wanted to see the little school paper ever again after the misery it had caused her family before, but...they had been given a free test drive of the paper, and a quality control promise that everything that was printed in the paper was true. And Cheerilee asked ponies not to judge the NEW foals in charge of the paper for the trouble caused by the foals who were no longer working on the paper.
Applejack's eyes bulged as she read the articles. "This...this here is all hogwash! This makes what 'Bloom and her friends printed look like a love letter to everypony in Ponyville! Why Ah outta! This is...this is like somethin' out of some trashy horror movie RD would watch! Who wrote this slop? Ah'm gonna pull 'em by their ears and tell their parents what big fat liars they are!...But...that there's impossible, uuuugh."
Applejack lowered the paper, feeling sick to her stomach. Her eyes laid eyes on several empty bottles of hard cider of the table she knew hadn't been there a moment before. Her head was spinning, she felt her brain drowning in booze. Her legs fell out from under her as she fell on the floor.
"B-Big Mac!" She cries out, the world above her wouldn't stop spinning.
Her big brother rushed in. "Oh no, ya over did it again." Applejack knew she couldn't have heard him right.
"N-no, not again, it's not-"
"Shush, ya just relax AJ, let me just lay ya on the couch...and ya can just sleep this off."
"N-no, can't, don't wanna-" AJ felt herself fall into a whirl pool of unconsciousness.
Vendetta Mask (he changed his name and cutie mark regularly) knew it! He knew he knew it! He had been right! He had always been right! So what if Mr. Rich had fallen under the sway of the conspiracy and refused to let him share the truth with his daughter? It was clear her believing the truth was why the Alicorn had her silenced! They likely had the stallion eliminate her himself to prove his devotion. So what if only one little foal's news paper was the only one who'd print the truth? He was finally getting his message out there! Ponies were finally reading it!
He did wonder what the pink filly without a shadow or reflection was doing in his apartment (he always kept his doors and windows locked and teleport proofed). She looked very very familiar, but for reason, his mind couldn't connect with who was standing before him, with what he was trying to remember.
"You've done a very good job at speaking your message, it's been an honor for the Foal Free Press to spread your theories."
"They aren't theories! They're the truth!"
"Yes...yes they are...and, I actually am sorry, but you see, like most conspiracy theorists, you forgot to ask yourself one important question."
"If the nation we live in, is so corrupt, so ruthless and without moral, and perfectly willing to silently remove anypony who opposes their will...how have you been speaking this message in public for years?"
A dozen literally-faceless identical unicorn mares in black suits promptly busted down the door and dogpiled him, and began hitting him with door knobs.
"You were an intense teacher," she said, "Too bad you could never accept ONE theory."
"That you could possibly be wrong. But don't worry, you're completely right now. Enjoy being right."
"You know Apple Bloom," Ruby Pinch said helpfully, coming over to the farm filly, taking her attention away from Twist. "My mom got help with her problem and is better now, maybe your sister should get help too."
"What are ya talkin' about?" It took all of Apple Bloom's maturity not to say 'the hay' in there.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I know it's not nice to talk about it," Ruby Pinch said sounding genuinely apologetic. "But if they could help my mommy, maybe they can help your big sister."
"Ruby, Ah honestly, don't know whatcha mean."
Ruby looked left and right, then leaned in and whispered, "Uh, ya know, about your big sister, um...liking cider way too much?"
"Say wha'?" Apple Bloom felt her brain break.
"Apple Bloom, you shouldn't pretend, I did, I know it's hurts but...but mommy got better and so can she," the other filly pleaded.
"My sister doesn't have a cider problem!" Apple Bloom shouted a little bit too loud. She looked around, seeing foals looking at her with pity. Except for Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle who were as confused as she was.
Twist and Silver Spoon sadly shook their heads.
"No," Apple Bloom whispered.
"Hey, Dash has never said anything about Applejack drinking too much cider."
"And whenever Rarity complained about Applejack, she never mentioned that either."
"Yer sister complains about my sister?"
"Uh! For a long while she hasn't!" Sweetie Belle said quickly.
"Apple Bloom, over half the town knows it," Silver Spoon said.
"That's dumb! How could...how could Applejack be like that if she's managin' the farm?!" Apple Bloom felt her blood pressure rise.
"Doesn't your big brother take care of it?"
"They work together! Ah work with 'em! We're a family! The farm is a family effort!"
"Apple Bloom, calm down," Silver Spoon said. Ruby Pinch politely took several trots back, recognizing now WASN'T the time to talk about this.
Apple Bloom growled. This wasn't right!...Like...Like Sweetie Belle and Button Mash.
Had their time traveling had some time-delayed effort? Or did they slip into some parallel universe again and this universe's versions of them into theirs? Were they having a shared dream? Maybe they were in some buggy virtual reality machine like in that play?
Scootaloo noticed it first. She fluttered over to Archer, "Hey, mind if I borrow that?"
"Sure, I was about done anyway."
Archer hoofed Scootaloo her copy of the Foal Free Press.
Scoots fluttered back over to her friends (a part them distantly thinking it was odd the school bell STILL hadn't rung).
"Brace yourselves." She showed it to the others.
If Apple Bloom was a flower and her bow her petals, it would had fallen off from wilting from what she read.
"This is nuts," she whispered.
APPLE-FARMER CAN'T HOLD CIDER AGAIN
"Let me guess, none of you remember that either," Silver Spoon said reading their faces. She wondered if her friends had been hit by an false-memory spell or something...she couldn't help feeling her friend's predicament felt familiar. Where had she seen something like this before?
"'Cause it didn't happen," Apple Bloom said this time keeping her voice down.
There was another article titled:
TOOTSIE FLUTE AND TRUFFLE, REAL LIFE HEARTS AND HOOVES DAY SPECIAL FRIENDSHIP
Apple Bloom saw the paper was printed today. "Twist, did you read the Foal Free Press today?"
"No," Twist replied.
There was also a whole bunch of guest articles talking about evil conspiracies keeping stallions and earth ponies down, but they all went over Scootaloo's head. They reminded her of the horseapples the Changelings had used to justify what they did.
Scootaloo caught a look at Rumble the pegasus colt, normally the colt was the best little athlete the school had, now he looked a little pudgy, staring into space. There wasn't any article about Rumble. But Scootaloo shuddered about an article about his BIG BROTHER Thunderlane. It was titled:
'How Many Mares Can A Stallion Do In One Night If A Stallion Could Do, Would Do, Mares?'
Scootaloo wondered what that meant, and decided she was better off not knowing and didn't read further.
There seemed to be a similar article about Alula's big sister Cloud Kicker on the next page, Scoots didn't even look!
"Anything in there about me having Button Mash for a special friend?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"...No." Scootaloo then felt a bad thought and skimmed again. "And there's nothing about me tying up part of my mane either. Girls..." Scootaloo felt sick to her stomach. "You need to see the by-line for these articles at the bottom."
The colt Lickety-Split was not at school. He was holding his head, ignoring the pounding of his mother's hoof on his locked door. To him it sounded distant, muted. Dulled.
Besides him was the free copy of the magical Foal Free Press.
On one page, was a picture of a mare known to Ponyville mostly as Barking Mad on one side, and a poorly done doctored photo of a were-beast version of the same mare on the other.
His bedroom, and that of his mother's as well, now had claw marks on the walls. He couldn't help feeling scars on his skin trying to exist.
'It's not true. It's not true. It's not true. It's not true. Grandma was recovering. Grandma was recovering. The doctor's said that she was on the road to being herself again. Miss Fluttershy was helping her! Grandma RECOGNIZED ME when me and mom last visited! This isn't. This isn't. This isn't! Grandma isn't a monster! This isn't. This isn't. Celestia help please!...'
Zecora felt herself suffering one horrible headache after another this morning. And she had found the strangest of items in her collection, there were her leeches yes, but also eye of newt, zombie-powder, toadstools, and timber wolf fangs.
She found herself cackling at the thought of the undead ponies of Sunnytown and what they had done to innocent ponies. And why did she look like herself from when she dressed up for last Nightmare Night?! (Her first one welcomed in Ponvyille). And felt hungry at the idea of foals in her, oh Celestia!
"She's an evil enchantress,
Who does evil dances.
When you look in her eyes, she'll put you in trances.
And what will she do?
She'll cook up an evil brew,
And gobble you up in a big tasty stew, sooooo
Pumpkin Cake and Pound Cake brawled their eyes out as they were pulled further and further apart. Pumpkin with mommy and Pound with daddy, the toddlers not understanding why their parents were going in different directions with sad looks on their faces. Pumpkin Cake wailed and her horn glowed, the Cakes were teleported back together. There! Now everything was alright! No! Why were they walking away again?
Doctors suggested against using a seal on a baby foal's horn to deal with magic surges, saying it could cause side effects on their long term magic growth. Otherwise the Cakes would have put one on her.
"It's...it's okay Pumpkin, you'll, you'll see your brother again soon, we're just...going out for some new treats." Mrs. Cake lied as the two adults looked at each other sadly.
The broken couples' thoughts echoed each other. 'I don't know what went wrong. We were so happy. They're still the only pony I could ever want as my very special somepony. Why did this has to happen?'
"Lock me in here!" Princess Celestia commanded in the Royal Canterlot Voice. "And ignore all orders to release me! That is a order from your Princess!"
The Solar Guards looked at each other confused.
"PLEASE!" Fear in the voice of the most powerful pony in the world. "Do not let me out or anypony enter, especially Twilight Sparkle! IGNORE ALL MY COMMANDS UNTIL THE FOG PASSES! OR I'LL BANISH YOU TO THE MOON!" Horrible images swelled up inside Celestia's mind, feelings rising like a tide threatening to drown her. Each more obscene and deprived than the last! She felt like she was drowning!
'Dissy...' She found herself thinking as her guard numbly obeyed her commands. 'Is this what it felt like for you? When Discord devoured you? Wiped you away? Pulled you under where all you could do was scream?' She dived into her bathroom and gave herself an Arctic frigid cold shower, struggling to maintain self-control for a little bit longer.
She magically created several golden chains with the density of a dwarf-star that she anchored to the floor and placed around herself, but she feared even this wouldn't be enough. That was when her chains were reinforced by a shape of magic she hoped to never seen again. She did not know who it was, but she knew what it was.
As she felt her clarity slipping, and impulses not her own infesting her flesh and blood brain, she called out. "Why help me?"
'Believe it or not, I hate those flank-clowns too. And I respect you wanting to stay loyal to your subjects. Loyalty is all I am.'
Celestia barely got a 'Thank you," to the enemy of her enemy before she gave out a last shudder. She duly looked at the chains holding her, feeling they were not a part of this reality, she casually tried to break them, but found they would not. This was kinky, but not the kind to enjoy by herself with.
She called out to her guards in a sultry voice, "Guards! Forget everything I just said. Bring Twilight Sparkle to me at once for some of our private lessons!"
No! Please! Don't! Twilight!
The obedient guards were about to comply, when like chains around their necks they were reminded of their Princess' orders to keep their princess within and not to let any inside, and that it would not be the loyal thing to disregard her warnings.
Princess Celestia was not pleased that her guards were not obeying her. Oh well, she began to rub herself against her bindings, thinking of Twilight Sparkle and her other sweet ones.
Please...my little ponies...survive…
Pipsqueak wasn't going to school. He was at home with his parents. Moonlight had shown up to walk with him to school, when she had fallen on her side and began convulsing. Pip's family realized in dismay they had no idea where Moonlight's family lived.
Moonlight knew, how everypony in town knew her as the foal who was Pip's best friend, a little strange perhaps, but that was all she was. She didn't have any Alicorn-like powers, that would be just silly. Yes. She was just Pip's friend, nothing more. No!
In Princess Luna's room, a Windigo wailed about the lack of hate around to feed it.
And there was an Alicorn the size of a normal pony with a blue mane devoid of stars...Every time she tried to form thoughts, her emotions and mind turned to how mean and unfair her big sister was, and how she had kept her imprisoned against her will ever since coming back to keep all the power to herself and had banished her to keep her quiet about Equestria sordid past, and she just kept crying and crying and crying in-spite of herself.
"But that's impossible!" Apple Bloom shouted, "That's not truth at all!" Her eye felt like it was on fire.
The other students shushed them.
"This is a really bad joke right?" Sweetie Belle whimpered reading the by-line.
"We didn't write any of this!" Scootaloo snarled in righteous fury reading the name at the bottom.
"It's a lie, it's all a lie!" Apple Bloom said to herself. Apple Bloom raced up to her teacher. "Miss Cheerilee!"
"Apple Bloom class is about to-"
"This is all fake! We didn't write any of this!"
"Your names aren't on there."
"Yes it is! Gabby Gums!"
"You'll have to ask the news club after school Apple Bloom, I didn't pick the name."
"But everypony's gonna think we did write all this! This is horrible! You can't let this happen!"
"Apple Bloom you're causing a disruption. I understand why you're upset, I truthfully am as well, but I promise I had no idea about this and wouldn't have approved, now PLEASE calm down, you're causing a scene, and it won't get a recant done faster."
"How about right now?"
"Class is just about to start! None of the news club have come in today."
"YES THEY HAVE! There's...where's...Tootsie? She was just here!"
"She said ...something about...being sick, I think..."
"Miss Cheerilee are you okay?"
"Just a headache. And I'm sorry, but she's already left."
"Yes it is, I'll be sending a note to her family and the families of the other club members and see who this morning has been using school equipment. Now PLEASE sit down! Or I'll have you sit down."
= School Days -Persona 1 =
My eyes were taken off Apple Bloom and Cheerilee when I noticed a colt and filly both Pipsqueak's age going through my saddlebag! That was a gift from Dash you jerks!
"Hey!" I said, I tried grabbing my bag back back but the filly slipped through my hoof like she made out of Pinkie Pies. "That's mine!" I said.
"It is yours," said the foal plainly standing aside not doing anything. "And it's against the rules to take things that aren't yours."
"But it's got lots of interesting stuff in it!" The white and red haired filly giggled rummaging through my stuff. They were both Earth ponies, but she kept hoping out of my grip like she was the one with wings.
I looked around but nopony else seemed to notice two kindergarteners in the class room, or me complaining.
"And it's my stuff!"
"Are you sure it's your stuff?"
"Yes I'm sure!"
"Are you really really really sure?" She smiled at me straight in the face. She reminded me of Pinkie Pie when she first met a pony in Ponyville. Almost annoyingly happy just to meet somepony.
"Yes I'm really really really sure!"
"Including this?" She pulled out the pinecone, and fuddled with it like it was a new toy.
"Be careful with that!"
"So it's really important?"
"You shouldn't play with things that aren't yours," said the colt. "It's against the rules."
"Okay, you play with it," No! She tossed it to her friend who caught it easily.
"So why is this important to you?"
"Because it's a reminder of a friend."
"Just a friend? Only a friend?"
"Okay! I guess she's family too! Kinda! It's complicated!"
"Feelings are always complicated, it's what makes them special."
"No they aren't! Sometimes it's just a matter of what you feel! And I feel that's important!"
"Good. Then you should be careful not to lose it," He, stuck a hook-eye on it and slipped a little bit of thread through it faster than I could move and hopped right onto my back, ugh! And he placed it around my neck.
"If it's really there for somepony you care about, then you shouldn't take it off except for them," said the colt said. The filly closed in on the pinecone again, I pulled it out of her hooves as she tried to grab it. I had a strangest feeling of being given a taste of our own medicine on our night of Fluttershy looking after us.
"I bet there are lots of nice feelings in that pinecone!"
"I'm not letting you break it open to find them!" I said.
"Oh silly filly! You don't need to break something open to get the feelings inside!" She grinned at me.
"Who are you calling silly?" I asked, though I admit, what she said made me have flashbacks to the whole Wedding mess and the Changelings learning that.
"Everypony's silly sometimes! Except the really silly ponies who are always serious!" She gave a giggle to the colt.
"I am not always serious, I have a sense of humor."
"I know! Meant like some of your friends!"
"...That is true."
I felt my head hurt.
"But you shouldn't take that pendant off unless it's for the pony it's important for," the colt said.
"If you're sure yer feelin's are real!"
"Yes, they are!"
"Then you oughta remember those feelings," the colt said, "Real feelings can't be faked, real feelings don't just go away. On the other hoof, feelings don't care how they got made, it's your choices that make those feelings real."
"Even if the world is remade, what's inside hearts don't just go poof!" The filly said. "True feelings can pierce anything!"
I tilted my head. "What? That makes even less sense."
"Feelings make their own sense." The filly smiled so annoyingly at me. She gave me my saddlebag back. There was nothing damaged or missing inside.
"You didn't break anything?"
"No way! That'd make you sad."
"The rules say we oughta be going now," said the colt, "We aren't in this class."
"Aww!" cried the filly. Then she smiled at me. "It was nice to see you again!"
I blinked. "We've met before?"
She giggled like the adults at a play seemed to when there was some joke I was too young to get happened. "You wouldn't remember, it was a long time ago. Bye-bye!"
The colt's expression hadn't changed once as he politely bow and trotted out the door while the filly hopped out the window...which I didn't even know could open!...Maybe she was related to Pinkie Pie?
"And that's why Princess Celestia is really Rainbow Dash's mother. Scoots? Are you even paying attention?"
"Wait, what?! Silver Spoon! As awesome as that would be, I know it's not right! I've seen pictures of her family, Celestia's not in it!"
"She's obviously adopted."
"Then why does the dad in the picture look like her?!"
"You said dad, not mom. Scootaloo calm down, you're getting worked up, I thought you'd think it would be great your idol is a demi-goddess."
"Because I know it's not true! Just like everything else that we've heard today!"
"Scoots, I'm not trying to trick you!"
"...You're our friend, right?"
"Of course I am, why wouldn't I be?"
"...I just had to check....nothing has made sense all day..."
"Like you heroically saving Sweetie Belle from a wicked witch and getting your cutie mark and learning to fly all the same time? And when did you put on that pendant?"
"I mean nothing makes sense like...things I know are right aren't right...it's more like when we ended up in that other Ponyville, it's like this isn't the same Ponyville we went to sleep in last night..."
Her question finally hit me. "Oh...you didn't see the little foals?"
"Well there's you, me, Sweetie-"
"I meant the preschool herd!"
"No. What other Ponyville? Scootaloo, are you girls feeling okay? Maybe you all caught a fever or something? Maybe you should all go home for the day." Silver Spoon put the back of her hoof to my forehead.
"Silver, don't you remember? Cutie Mark Crusaders time travelers? The other Ponyville? That crazy dead universe ruled by that D__t guy?"
"Oh right! I REALLY try not to think about that one."
"Well right now I feel like I'm in something like that...Like we just stepped into some bizarro world...Can you honestly say that sounds weirder than anything that's already happened to us?"
"No. But it wouldn't be the first time you came down with dementia."
"Dash's cooking has improved a LOT since then! And if it WAS that, then why would me, Apple Bloom, AND Sweetie all have the exact same hallucination?"
"Please don't hate me for this but...ever heard of Folie à deux?"
"Uh...one of you went nuts, and drove the other two nuts?" Silver Spoon offered meekly, not wanting to upset her friend further.
"And when would we have had the CHANCE to do that? We only saw each other for the walk over here before we noticed any of this crazy stuff. The only other time we all saw each other was yesterday, and you were with us, were we acting crazy then?"
Silver Spoon shook her head. "This is kinda more articulate than I'm used to from you, Scootaloo."
"Ugh...sorry, all this craziness is making me have to be logical!...And Silver, somepony is using the Gabby Gums' name in the paper...I agree with Apple Bloom. If nothing else is wrong, that IS something for the three of us to worry about...what if they think we've gone back to being Gabby Gums? Even if we are just hallucinating or something, that IS something for us to worry about!"
Silver Spoon shivered. "You're very right about that."
"Silver, I don't know what's going on, but I don't like it...You have to admit, there's something fishy about Cheerilee letting somepony use the name Gabby Gums in the school paper AGAIN after what happened. That's not like her, is it?"
"Maybe she just didn't see it until now? I didn't."
Applebloom nodded remembering Miss Cheerilee had said.
Silver continued. "And she's just waiting until after class to deal with it so it doesn't become a big deal and she didn't want you three to worry?"
Sweetie finally picked up on the conversation. "But why didn't she watch them more closely? After what happened with Diamond Tiara, I thought she was going to keep a closer eye on the paper."
"Would you think Featherweight, Shady Daze, or Alula would ever do anything like this?" Silver asked.
Cheerilee made a brief cough. "Apple Bloom, now I think you, Scootaloo, and Sweetie are quite upset. Please go outside for some fresh air until I come for you. You can share notes with Silver Spoon, Twist, and...whatever notes Button Mash might take...please."
Silver looked concerned to her friends. "...Maybe it'd help clear your heads...or figure out whatever's going on," she said, somewhere between a lie to make them take good advice and genuine fear just maybe there was something wrong with her and not them. With all the craziness that had happened, the silver filly couldn't entirely just discount her friends' worry or her own.
AK Yearling had come to Ponyville, getting an unmarked letter saying that the Golden Oak's Library had a deceptively diverse collection of books, including original prints penned by Walter Trot himself, the original adventure story novelist. AK Yearling's clubmates had said how Walter Trot colored history far too fancifully to its hard realities, but Yearling felt there was nothing wrong with that...it showed ponies how those times SHOULD HAVE been. What was wrong with romanticizing things a little bit? Wasn't that part of what made fiction so well liked? That it didn't NEED to be true to life?
She intended to meet up with Rainbow Dash once there. It wouldn't be too hard, from what she'd heard Ponyville was a place where everypony knew everypony. But after arriving off the train she had fallen ill and had checked into what just vaguely passed for Ponyville's only Bed and Breakfast (with how small a town it was, she was surprised it had such a thing at all), not feeling serious enough for a trip to the local hospital. Even if it was home to legendary holy healer Redheart, the descendant of the divine holy healer Sweetheart. Both who could heal with a touch.
One thing was for sure, looking out her window, she wasn't going anywhere flying in this fog. Not unless she wanted a broken wing like Daring Do in the Sapphire Statue (she unfortunately wasn't so able to handle such an injury). At least she had the newest Daring Do to read.
"Awkward Kindness Yearling."
Yearling turned and yelped at the pony with the maze cutie mark suddenly in her wrong.
"Awkward Kindness Yearling. I'm afraid you won't be reading Walter Trot today."
Yearling didn't feel as shocked she should have. "You again...I met you on the train to Canterlot...before the Royal Wedding."
"Yes...and I made you a promise...your heart and belief will be needed soon. But right now, you need to be a 'nobody' a little longer, sleep, so those who now hunt protectors of the world look over you."
Yearling fell back asleep on her bed, cuddling her Daring Do book.
"Sweet dreams...I wish I could say a brighter day awaits you when you wake up..."
Nurse Red Heart's head hurt, but she couldn't let that get in the way. She had an important job. She had inherited her ancestor's healing touch and she intended to use it.
Something without scent, sound, mass, or shape slunk towards her, rumor of a nurse who drugged and mercy killed her own patients, who kept a handsome stallion prison in his hospital bed, trying to worm inside the nurse, to follow the first one that already had. A Pegasus's green hoof landed on her shoulder.
'Choose you own fate.'
For a moment, Nurse Red Heart rippled, a green magic field forming around her before it became transparent. The No-thing tried to slink into her, but bounced off unseen like a fly hitting a window. A green hoof stomped down on it, silently obliterating it.
Red Heart blinked, turning to the panting stallion next to her. He was a green pegasus with a mohawk, his Cutie Mark chains breaking. From the look of it, he'd been run ragged today.
"Are you alright sir?"
The green stallion looked out a window, only his eyes seeing more of the No-Things beyond counting. And too many ponies, and only one of him. He was surprised Red Heart hadn't been at the top of Umbra Breeze's list.
"Oh! Me? Yeah... I have an important job to do and been running here and there to get it done in time. Gotta help some ponies nopony looks at." 'It's why they CAN help.'
More things unseen swarmed on her, bouncing off her like rain.
"Do you need help?" Remembering drunk off he flanks Applejack running around town after Discord telling ponies what they needed to hear, wait did that even make sense?
"Nah, just a little winded," he replied, catching his breath.
"Maybe you should take a break. I have a dear friend who nearly worked herself to death once."
"I can't, I'm the only one who's...special talent can do this," the pegasus panted, wiping sweat off his brow. "If I don't do it, it won't get done...and it's kinda something important to a lot of ponies. Including me."
"...As a healer, I can appreciate that."
"Gotcha...So you like being able to heal ponies?"
"And you'd want healing hooves whether you had them or not?"
"It's what you choose?"
For a moment, Red Heart felt like any fog in her brain was lifted. For one moment, she felt a sense of complete clarity and freedom. "Yes, I would."
The pegasus gave a tired grin. "Good...do what you choose to do...now if you excuse me, I gotta jet...places to be."
Red Heart blinked, seeing the Pegasus dash out. "I hope he'll be alright...I think he was beginning to show signs of mana drain."
"Hey Phobia, thanks for that Alpha Gold Banished Or Alive. I told other ponies about how a good game story always has a chance for the heroes to win."
"You're welcome. And thank you Button. But I think you hurry on home to your mother now."
"But I can't just ditch class."
"I'm sorry Button. You're a good kid. But you really should go home to your mom right now."
"But I really should go home to my mom right now." The colt stuck his game back in his bag and ran out of the room.
"I'm sorry Button." The broken-winged pegasus trotted out as well, unnoticed by all.
Ruby Search of Sunny Town in the Everfree, felt it, something in the very air had changed. In her thousand years as a ghost, trying to bring her family back from their madness that had turned them into murdering monsters, she'd only felt something like this once before: when The Chaos Bringer was up and about. But this was worse, chaos was SOMETHING, this felt like, NOTHING masking it's scent as something! The very magic of Everfree itself shuddered.
And her neighbors and friends, thanks to Miss Fluttershy and others hard work, had begun to recognize their sins, they felt it too. Something in the very magic of Everfree itself had shuddered at a wrongness in the world.
It was as if the world itself was rejecting something, and failing.
Inside the school basement, Shady Daze and Featherweight looked at each other in stun faced horror. They looked at the stories that had been sent out to the readers this morning...
"Did you takes these pictures?"
Featherweight shook his head. A feeling of dread went through his mind when it occurred to him that he'd not LENT his camera to anypony either.
"And I know I didn't do the layout for these stories!"
"GOOD MORNING EVERYPONY!" Tootsie Flute trotted in, looking like it was the most bright and happy day in history.
"Tootsie!" Shady Daze said, "Did you see what got sent out this morning?! It's horrible! Somepony used the Gabby Gum alias and printed stories that...I don't even GET half of them!" The young colt said, his innocence gratefully shielding him from the truly worst of the worst pieces. "They're awful!"
Feather Weight took a pencil in his mouth and wrote a question.
'Do you know who the new Gabby Gum is?'
"Yeah! This new colt or filly isn't just nasty, I think they're crazy! The first Gabby Gums wasn't this mean!"
"Colt or filly?" Alula laughed as the pegasus filly trotted in behind the unicorn filly, sharing the unicorn's gleeful expression that made the scene all the more surreal. "Don't be silly Shady Daze, everypony knows Gabby Gums is THREE ponies!"
"A unicorn!" Tootsie said still smiling.
"A pegasus." Alula said.
Shady didn't believe what he was hearing. "Alula, you...you . .. YOU WROTE THESE with Tootsie?! How could you? You're...you're not a bad pony! Neither of you! We've been FRIENDS ever since you came on board! Was it all an act? Don't you know Miss Cheerilee is gonna suspend you for a year when she sees this?! And you remember how the town reacted last time! WHY Alula? Why Tootsie?"
"We ARE friends." Tootsie giggled. "We're just taking the Foal Free Press to it's ultimate greatness!" She struck a pose.
"And they've done so very well. Very well indeed." Umbra Breeze trotted in, looking like a pegasus through the eyes of Featherweight.
"You! We're gonna tell Miss Cheerilee on you!" Shady Daze declared. "You can't think what they printed is good! Alula! Tootsie! Whatever you think you wrote wasn't what got printed! You two would never write stuff this mean!"
Umbra Breeze said nothing, only looking at the foals without a trace of empathy, looking down on them like they were not even people, like they were animals. His shadow began to spread through the room, the feathers lengthening and twisting like tentacles.
"Buried deep in every ponies are nasty little things they WANT to do," Alula said, "But the rules say they can't. But if everypony agrees to do those nasty little things, are they nasty anymore? Or just fun things the stiff rules wouldn't let them do before? The Foal Free Press is gonna help ponies see they don't need to hide or lock away those little things they all want to do!"
"Alula! Are you even listening to yourself!?" Shady Daze said, there wasn't any anger in his voice at all. It was dismay, dread, and a trace of empathy. "That's all nonsense!"
"Please, call me Princess Animatia Erroria."
Shady and Featherweight's jaws dropped.
"Don't worry, Shady," Tootsie said, "I didn't get it either at first. But our new Editor, Alula, and Mr. Umbra Breeze explained everything. Everyponies believes what they want to believe. And giving ponies what they want is a good thing, that's what it means to be a pony. But we've got lots and lots of work left to do!"
"I'm telling Miss Cheerilee right now!"
"You'll have to wait a little bit." Alula said, "There's somepony VERY IMPORTANT that I need to introduce you to first."
No one noticed Featherweight trot back with ninja like silence to one of the windows, that only his skinny frame could really fit through. He hated leaving Shady Daze...but a feeling of dread and fear in the back of his mind told him if he didn't escape, what needed telling wouldn't either.
"Who?" Shady Daze heard himself ask.
"Shady, remember?" Tootsie said, "Gabby Gum is THREE ponies. A pegasus, a unicorn, and an Earth Pony. Well, part Earth Pony!"
"It's a time to celebrate!" Alula said as she, Tootsie, and Umbra Breeze all politely stood aside as a third filly entered the room possessing both horn and wings. "Because our true editor-in-chief has returned."
"Okay, crazy and rotten stuff happened to us, so why are we the ones who got sent out of class?" I asked my feathers ruffled.
"I wanted out of there," Sweetie Belle said. "I couldn't stand looking at that paper OR Button Mash! It was like whoever wrote it just wrote the most horrible things they could think of!"
"Yah mean like we did?" Apple Bloom asked, pinning her ears.
"But...we weren't THAT bad!" Sweetie Belle whimpered.
"Okay, look," I said. "We're not Gabby Gums this time, and something REALLY weird is going on...and considering we just got back from saving the world from shapeshifting bug ponies, that's saying something."
"Please don't call them bugs."
"Not now, Sweetie," I pleaded.
"What you choose to call them is meaningless, they are, what they are, what names you label upon them will not change what something is. A rock will always be a rock." Whoa! Did it just get chilly? Hey.
"Miss Void?" Sweetie Belle said, looking at the old mare, her hood still up, she wasn't even looking at us, she was looking at the ultra-foggy sky. I mean, everything was foggy, burr! We should have worn scarfs today! Makes me wish Sweetie still had hers! I had to flap my wings just to keep from walking into the stuff!
"That is the name you call me by," she said, her voice was more chilly than the fog, but at least it felt like it BELONGED.
"Where's Phobia?" Sweetie asked.
"Doing whatever he wants, like the brat always does, no matter how I try to discipline him."
"You sure he'll be okay? With...you know, those wings?" I asked, trying to be respectful. I was a pegasus. If there was ONE thing in the world I know was a touchy subject, that was it.
"You shouldn't worry about him. Listen to me and understand, and know what I say is truth." And just like that, everything she was saying was being stamped into my brain like facts! "The world is about to be undergo a terrible unnatural change. You have already seen the forerunners:
"Things you know not to be true, are now reality, and all others remember only as things are now. Be brave, when you see again those you know and love, they will not be who you know and love. They will be monsters. Remember their words and actions are not their own, they do only as rumors dictate to them. They are only puppets on strings, and none suffer more than they.
"This is not the will of creation nor this world's chosen path. This world would end before its time. Entering a flux from which no true world can be born. This is intolerable.
"This flux was never intended in fate's paths, it is an infection. Rumors have become like a virus, distorting everything they touch. You will learn more as you require it."
"WE GOTTA TELL APPLEJACK! ZEOCRA! AND TWILIGHT! AND PINKIE PIE! AND RAINBOW DASH! AND FLUTTERSHY! AND RARITY! THE PRINCESSES!" Applebloom screamed. We all agreed.
"They were infected first, before the forerunners even appeared. If you went to them now, their twisting would only come faster."
"NO!" Sweetie Belle screamed. I was struck dumb. Applebloom didn't argue, her entire body was shaking.
"NOT AGAIN! IT'S NOT FAIR!!!" I...I can't remember which of us shouted it.
"And you would be twisted to silence you..." We literally couldn't ague. "If this infection could be stopped now it would be, but it would be the silencing of this world. Only after being brought to a head can it be undone."
I wasn't crying. I wasn't crying. I wasn't crying. I wasn't crying! I wasn't crying!
"SILVER SPOON! WE"VE GOT TO-!"
"She is already infected," she told me. "You can not help her, yet."
"W-wait!" Apple Bloom cried out. "Ya have ta tell us! H-how do we fix things when it's all messed up?! Why us?!"
Now she DID look right at Apple Bloom, I actually stepped closer to Apple Bloom, if the lady did something nasty to her, she'd zap me instead. "You can't know where to properly set a broken leg until it is broken, as for why you...only those of ability and unrealized potential may alter fate, even a fate most unnatural."
"...Why can't we just be foals again?" Sweetie Belle asked, whimpering. "We just got back from having to save the world."
Miss Void looked at us. "Your foalhood innocence should not have ended so early, but it is a necessary evil. A normal foal could not withstand what you are about to experience. And a foal is necessary... The moment you lose all hope, is the moment any hope for this world dies. Believe that you can clean away the grim darkness. You need to."
= 'The Conception' Megami Tensei Nocturne =
There was a rumbling worse than any the I had ever heard, this was no earthquake. The whole world felt like it was shaking apart.
Faces formed in the fog as it twisted around us, coiled around everything and everypony, and it was like only the we noticed.
Like a field of flower blooming in reverse, fog creeped up and gulped up Sugar Cube Corner, Golden Oaks Library, one reached up and gulped up . . . mine and Dash's house, Carousel Boutique, Sweet Apple Acres, Canterlot, portions of Everfree, Fluttershy's cabin, many others, trapped like snow globes in their own balls of fog, other buildings and houses seemed to just dissolve. Some balls of fog expanding, some shrinking, all beginning to move and float like there was no more ground as they vanished, blending from view in the fog.
I KNEW there was no way we should have been able to see all of this from where we stood, but we were, like the ground was no longer the shape it used to be.
Then our school was engulfed in a reverse white flower of fog. The sky became almost visible as it faded to a sickly pink.
There was a sense of wrongness to all this. Like the world itself was unraveling and being knitted into a nightmarish quilt.
This wasn't like . . . when the world got remade before . . . I remember spending the entire time inside playing with Sweetie Belle . . . there was never this horrible feeling.
We hugged each other, wishing beyond wishing this was just a nightmare. Miss Void knelt down to us.
A tidal wave of what could only be called distortion rippled out from somewhere in Ponyville, I didn't know where.
Moments before it hit, Miss Void took off her cloak and put it around us. I suddenly felt slightly detached from the world, calm, serene, like a frozen ocean. The shock wave hit Miss Void, she cried out hurting. For a moment it was like the shock wave was tearing her apart. Next it like a weaver having to turn a damaged piece into something else. Her broken horn dissolved. Her blue fur faded to gray, her white mane turning a grayish violet, the black whirl pool of her cutie mark becoming a black diamond, she fell on her side, blue eyes gazing at us.
The wave passed over the us and weren't hurt I think thanks to the dark cloak, I mercifully passed out.