"That's enough," Flutternice said sternly.
Flutterbat, Flutterdragon, Fluttergriff, and Flutterfly dove down into the Scootaloo army, and plowed through them, flinging orange fillies through the air right and left.
The Detachments weren't hindered at all by the filly fighters, speeding every possible direction, taking fillies out of the fight by the dozens per-second!
"LEAVE THEM ALONE!" I shouted, chains flying from my body lightning-quick, wrapping up the Detachments who simply BROKE THE CHAINS with their concept killer rods a moment later and continued attacking the Scootaloos.
"Don't be a hypocrite," Flutternice shouted coming straight at me. "They're using violence against us and that's okay, but we can't use violence against them to stop them from hurting themselves with all this fighting?"
Hearing that voice saying that word had a funny effect on me. It was like standing in an endless echo chamber.
I made a small laugh, followed a few sad chuckles, smiling. All while trading blows against Flutternice.
"Auntie Manacle? Why are you laughing? You're making foals be the concepts pawns!" Her voice was like sugar water squeezed through clenched fangs.
"It's just...heh...being with you Niece Nice...I might as well be standing in front of a mirror. Only my reflection's turned inside-out."
In her confusion, Flutternice slowed her attacks slightly. "Auntie... I don't know what you mean," she said.
I stopped laughing. "I mean to say...here I am -- a villain who desperately wishes she was a hero, and here you are...'the hero'...or at least that's what your momma would like to believe...who desperately wishes she was a villain."
Flutternice froze up for a second, like an outed criminal, but she was still able to dodge a kick from me. "M-me? AUNTIE! A villain? That's the LAST thing I want! I PROMISE! I'm being better than my nature! I promise!"
"Come now on Niece Nice. I was the one who TAUGHT YOU to be loyal to us and to betray everypony else! Those nine hundred years your mom spent ruling half the planet until 'Auntie Eclipse' told you we had to 'reset' everything or we wouldn't able to keep good old Discord 'under control?' Those nine hundred years we spent teaching you to hate a father who'd die for you if given the chance? Who WANTED to turn himself in? How his heart shattered when you told him 'Fluttercruel is dead' and stabbed him in the leg, as he begged you to realize you and your mom were being lied to? Guess what? He was telling the truth."
"RAINBOW DASH THAT IS A ENOUGH!!!" Fluttershy's voice boomed like angry thunder, I caught the lightning bolt that struck from above and I smacked Flutternice in the flanks with it like a paddle.
"AUNTIE!!!! YOU'VE GONE MAD! You'd NEVER say bastard Discord lies were true if you were yourself! You're nuts, you...er...you're unwell in the head," she finished in 'kinder,' more 'sensitive' and Fluttershy-approved tones.
"Not anymore! The Elements saw to that! Which means I can APPRECIATE all the garbage I did to innocent ponies after nag Eclipse cut out pieces of my soul!"
"Auntie Manacle! How can you talk about Auntie Eclipse like that?!" Flutternice gasped.
"I have a lot more to say but you and the Scootaloos are present!"
The blow to the head I took from her made my head spin, but she didn't press her attack.
"Did that break the evil mind-control the gods minions have on you Auntie?" She asked.
"We AREN'T brainwashed niece Flutternice," I sighed. "Not anymore. All we did was trade one brainwashing lunatic for another."
"STOP TALKING ABOUT AUNTIE ECLIPSE LIKE THAT!"
"Don't listen to them dear, they're just sick right now. Just forget everything they just told you. The trick Auntie Eclipse showed you whenever Auntie Mirror made you cry, just take a deep breath and toss it out the window and forget you ever heard it."
"O-okay! Thanks mommy!" She grinned. "There! All forgotten! I don't remember a thing!"
I face hoofed.
I lost a tooth and got a black eye for my troubles, I slashed with a lightning scythe at Flutternice who blocked it with the black rod she was using and kicked me, several times, in the stomach before knocking me down.
"That savage beast, still inside you Flutternice? You never tamed it. Only caged it. No wonder it's so savage when you're forced to let it out." I sighed, feeling strangely calm and serene looking up at her flatly as Scootaloos helped me up. Good girls.
"I can't hear you auntie!" Flutternice snapped a loud bloodcurdling snarl.
"All that time we spent help yer mom 'fix' you, saying it was for your own good? I got my revenge on MY Fluttercruel through you since she was in Oblivion. Even when MY Rarity and MY Pinkie Pie WANTED her CURED. Until Nightmare Whisper introduced you to us all as Flutternice, you were just a rag doll I could beat up without an ounce of guilt."
"Those monsters' evil magic is MAKING YOU SAY THAT! You did it all to HELP ME! You'd never hurt me! You've never hurt me!" Flutternice huff, she'd forgotten to keep attacking. "Mom's done so much to rehabilitate me."
"If your mom's rehabilitated you, WHY are you scratching at the bit to hurt somepony? I guess I'm a hypocrite for blaming you for that too, after all, I HELPED her do it."
Flutternice was shaking her head in fierce denial, and yet the beginnings of a guilty smile were creeping up her face. It was like I'd uncorked a champagne bottle right under an alcoholic's nose.
"I KNOW! I KNOW I FAILED! I'M EVIL BORN FROM EVIL! BECAUSE I'M FILTH BORN FROM FILTH! Though mommy tells me I'm not so I'll feel better! I'm a monster who stole my mother's body from her and tortured so many little ponies for my and bastard Discord's sick games! A coward who used empty words when those she couldn't bully fought back to try and make them feel guilty for giving me my due! But mommy loves me even if I'm an ugly wretched piece of sewage! That's what makes her the best mom in the world! And what makes you the WORST mommy in the world for making all the poor innocent Scootaloos I've been looking after fight against their will! They're just foals!"
"Ya wanna know the truth Little Flutter?" Mirror voice boomed with the Royal Canterlot Voice. "THESE 'FILLIES' ARE MORE GROWN UP THAN YA! THEY'RE YER OPPOSITE! THEY'RE HEROES IN THE BODIES OF FOALS! YER STILL A FILLY IN THE BODY OF A MARE! That makes yer ma the hypocrite!"
Pinkie Pie startled...her eyes widened to impossible size, and her eyes became pin pricks. Oh no...don't tell me her Nightmare Granfalloon personality is back! We can't fight two Nightmares at once! It's...she was crying?
She blasted bull horns in all directions to give herself room.
"Fluttershy. I understand why you're doing this. Why you have to do this. Why you're too scared to do anything else...But...Nicey...she isn't...she won't...Oh!
"Pound. Pumpkin. Fuse Box. Bomb Pie. Powder Cake. Fire Cracker. Grenade Pie. Little Hex. Short Fuse. Hatchet and Latchet. Spring Dew. Morning Light. Bubbles. Stormy Night. Apple Sauce.
"Mommy is sorry! Mommy is sorry she made you all hate laughing! Mommy wishes she could go to Nowhere Land and tell you how sorry she is! When she became Nightmare Granfalloon, she couldn't BE sad, she couldn't BE unhappy, it was all just a big game, even you. Mommy is so so sorry! She forgot you as Granfalloon! At least as Angry Pie she loved you. She's sorry. Mommy...mommy wishes she could fix it all and make you all be here and make it all better with a kiss and hug! Mommy really truly wishes!"
"Pinkie Pie..." Mirror sighed. "Ya...ya can't help'em right now. But we've got a lotta foals here do need help."
Pinkie Pie gave Mirror a sad smile and nodded, hitting a giant star-spider construct in a face with a cream pie as she at the same time. "Al-alright." They nuzzled.
Raazaroo whispered sadly, "I think I finally GET why concepts are allowed to feel remorse, but not regret."
Razzaroo and Granfalloon wanted to help me and the Scoots with Flutternice looming over us, but the Detachments were so close to the many fillies that they couldn't fire a shot without risking hurting any of the Scootaloos.
And Spike was still stuck in a stalemate with big Nightmare Whisper. His teleport fire breath countering her despair breath.
Whisper's voice echoed to the fillies as Nice's Detachments continues to knock them down. "Now just stop this fighting, and go back to the orphanage, and go back to bed. And this can all be just a bad dream. We'll have warm milk and cookies,"
But the Scootaloos, bless them all, were having none of it.
"Sweetie needs me!"
"I'm never going back there!!!"
"I'M NOT LEAVING RAINBOW DASH, SO GO BUCK YOUR-!!!"
"Language, little filly!"
"Leave her alone!" It wasn't me this time who'd spoken that time. It was...Mayor Mare? She tried to grapple with Flutterfly when she pinned her Scootaloo down, leaving an impression in the ground. Flutterfly responded by slamming Mayor Mare across the face with her rod, breaking Mayor Mare's glasses and maybe her jaw as she fell down.
Meanwhile, Fluttergriff found Bon Bon and Lyra had decided to stop standing around being scared and take action against her and ganging up on her suddenly and violently respond by clawing them.
Maternity screamed wildly as she kicked Flutterdragon in the gut leaving an imprint, the teenager-sized dragon retorted with fire breath, that her Scootaloo shutted-up with a kick to the jaw even if she was now bleeding.
"S-s-stop! W-what you doing?! STOP! JUST STOP! STOP! My filly is helping stop the fighting! Stop!" Whisper screamed at the Ponyville ponies.
"Don't worry, Rainbow Dash, we're not out of surprises yet," Starlight said, helping me up, oddly pleased as she blocked another hit from Flutternice.
"Now that you've rejected this world, Nightmare Whisper's grip on this pocket reality is loosening. And now everypony is properly awake and ready to accept the truth, just like you!" Razzaroo cheered charging up her spell book for something.
"And because you've unconsciously weakened all the barriers and security measures that Nightmare Whisper doesn't directly control, I can call in extra party guests to help!"
Starlight flew next to Razzaroo, drew her sword, and the pages of Razzaroo's spell book flipped like crazy, covering Starlight's sword in stardust. Then Starlight...flew as fast she could away from the fighting...Huh?
She flew right over Sweet Apple Acres, and dove down. Eyes that were better than a hawk's saw her touch down in front of the Cutie Mark Crusader's clubhouse. She kicked her sword right into the base of the tree, and suddenly I was able to tell there had been a hole in that part of the tree this entire time that went way further inside than it should have.
"Sweetie, 'Bloom, sorry." She twisted her sword.
And the tree and the ground and the surrounding air around them both cracked. Like a hoof pressed upon thin ice, the cracks spread rapidly in an spiderweb pattern.
Then everything that was cracking gave up the ghost and shattered, revealing a twisted slush of colors covered by rusty chains. Then the chains shattered and the slush dissipated like fog, showing a sea of stars.
There was no sudden gravitational pull as everything was blown outside into a vacuum; the exit was simply there, offering itself. But this exit was also an entrance.
"Password time. Ahem. 'Bon-Bon's baking cookies girl, better run on over!'" Starlight shouted.
"The clubhouse wasn't part of any of the puppet's routines from what little were able to glean from the outside," Razzaroo explained, encasing some of the Scootaloos who'd been injured worst in magical bubbles, then floating them over next to Applejack.
She continued explaining to me, while applying healing magic on the wounded Scootaloos, as though determined to make up for all their deception and tight-lipped secrecy in one straight go. No, I knew that look in her eyes. She wasn't doing this out of obligation or just duty, she was doing this, because Scootaloo was her friend! This was loyalty! I actually felt a twinge of guilt.
"We put a perception filter in place to keep real ponies from noticing one of the crannies had a cover over it. We couldn't risk being discovered until Nightmare Whisper lost control, or she'd just beef up security and we'd be out of sane options. So picking the spot we'd sneak in and set up as the exit was a real pain," Starlight added, bisecting a giant falcon construct as she zoomed back to help.
"Are ya girls gonna help, or are ya gonna talk the bad guys to death?" Mirror snarked. "The jibjab's gettin' distractin' from the action!"
"Rainbow Dash wanted a full explanation, didn't you?" Razzaroo asked.
I sighed as I headbutted Flutterdragon. Ouch. Even as a Nighmare, wearing a champron, not bright to headbutt a dragon. "So where's that surprise already?"
But then Flutternice came at Starlight from behind, stabbing at her quick as a machine gun, making Starlight dance as she spoke. "Almost, Applejack. Fluttershy's 'emergency temporal shift' trigger will still pick up concepts and Thestrals, but you can always count on your friends."
- 'Misterioso' Madoka Magica Rebellion -
Four winged mares with the figure of earth ponies came shooting like lightning out of the hole Starlight had made in the fake Ponyville. All of them had sword belts like Starlight's.
An aqua mare with an orange mane and yellow eyes; her cutie mark was a pink note book with a blue pen.
Next was a peach-colored girl, her mane was pink, and her eyes yellow, her cutie mark was a crisscrossed patch of cloth.
Number three was pink, with both blue eyes and mane, her cutie mark was a microphone with music notes and stars around it. The pattern of her wings reminded me sheet music.
The last girl had a purple coat and a pink mane with eyes to match, on her rear was one big and one tiny four leaf clover.
"Bright Eyes, Patch, Melody, Clover!" Starlight greeted each of them, likely for my sake. "Glad you could make it!"
Patch dove four hooves-at-once straight into Flutterdragon knocking her into the sky.
"I hope you don't mind us dropping in." said Clover. She moved with such grace, it was like the battle was a ballet, only tapping Fluttergriff with her sword and avoiding her claw slashes. It was actually adorable.
Melody quipped, "Please don't think we're stealing the spotlight!" She was striking hard and fast with Futterbat, making more noise with her strikes than a rock concert. Banneret's eyes were drawn to her...don't ask me why.
Bright Eyes commented as she kept Flutterfly and the other Detachments from attacking as a group. "But I do believe you're won't mind concentrating on helping my twice-removed-self, rather than calming down her poor foal having a tantrum."
"This is our chance to be awesome too!" Patch cheered.
Whisper's voice exclaimed. "Since when are you all reapers?!"
Melody smirked. "Oh we're not sworn in, more like deputized."
Clover said, "We're just messengers."
More allies. No pony would see me complaining. At least they were being pleasant.
Now with the Detachments off their backs, the Scootaloo Army Alliance of Awesome was back to ripping the constructs apart and smashing open the puppets. And more and more of the Ponyville ponies were fighting back now too.
Starlight, meanwhile, was dueling Flutternice single-hoofedly, while Banneret was grappling against Nightmare Whisper.
"Coming, big guy!"
Energy is energy, and even a Nightmare has limits to theirs, and she was now having to pour more and more of hers into constructs to just keep Scootaloo's army from overwhelming her with sheer numbers and experience!
Watching Starlight and her buddies fight...it was like us, me, Twilight, and the rest of us. These girls weren't just teammates, they were friends. They could trust each other. Could always count on each other.
It lifted my spirits to a high place, just to see it from afar.
"Sing, Ace!" cried Melody, and her sword blade split in two, now resembling a tuning fork. It sent out a wall of sound that had Flutterbat covering her ears and screaming.
"Slay, Buddy!" Heh, Patch's sword changed shape into a dragon-slayer's sword, with a crown at the top, and when it made contact with Flutterdragon's black rod, the concept-killing weapon began to freeze over!
"What?! That's absurd!" Flutterdragon exclaimed attacking with her tail, rear claws, and wings and jaws at the substitute reaper.
"I know! I wanted a flaming sword! But Bright Eyes told me that wasn't good for fighting dragons!" Patch said, falling back, every body part her weapon connected with froze that spot on the Detachment.
"Shine, Slipknot!" Starlight's sword turned into a large white scythe keeping Flutternice at bay way with the distance blade weapon, using her hooves when the demi-draconequus tried to get in close.
Flutterfly cheated and used the Utter Flutter all by herself. "Flutter, Lance!" Bright Eyes' sword turned into a swarm of gold butterflies that blocked the Utter Flutter.
"You won't dare hurt your spiritual great-grandmother!"
Flutterfly halted. "...Granny?"
Shock reveals in the midst of battle, left the enemy more disoriented than a poetry slam from Discord. Too bad it was an old hat for us.
"If you are me then you should know why I'm doing this!" Fluttershy's voice shouted as Longma constructs attacks Bright Eyes from behind and front.
"I do! And that's why I volunteered to help stop you!" Bright Eyes shouted.
Bright Eyes' sword reformed in an eye blink. She slashed; the Longma blocked, Bright Eyes' sword turned to butterflies just as they would have clashed, then reformed into a sword once it was past the Longmas's claws, scoring an impossible strike that cut it in half. She stabbed backwards at a Longma coming at her from behind, only for her sword to turn to butterflies again and reform pointing back into the second Longma. She wielded her blade with skill, thanks to those gripping hooves of hers. I had to learn how to do that with my own hooves. It was way too useful not to.
Flutterfly got over herself and attack again, only for Bright Eyes' butterflies to grab her hooves, and wings. "Bad filly."
"Dance, Dandy!" Oh right. Maybe Clover's sword was...a dancing sword? A fancy segmented whip-sword? Maybe a really, really, really long rapier? Or one of those big thick giant swords?
It changed into a blade on each of her four hooves, looking like weaponized ice skates.
Fluttergriff halted. Stared. Then held a claw to her chest and burst out laughing, pointing at Clover who blushed. "That is so lame! Are you gonna dance me to death?! You have zero reach with those! And why do you keep wasting time shouting out names?"
Clover blushed more. "... Well, it's rude to ask for a friend's help without saying their name first and how you want them to help."
Fluttergriff looked between Clover and her sword with sour incredulity. "...Try LIVING friends, lady. Even back in my bad old days, I didn't name my weapons."
Clover returned the look. "He TOLD ME his name."
Lightning struck each of Clover's blades, but instead of electrocuting her, the lightning crackled INSIDE the blades.
"NOW, CLOVER!" Razzaroo shouted having just cast the spell from the nearby spa's rooftop.
With fury like that of old Angry Pie, Clover, in under a second, cut-apart Fluttergriff eight ways from Sunday.
"Anything to help my little sister."
"WHAT?! Meadowlark?! Is that you!? But-"
"I'll explain later, Minty!"
"Wait, did you talk about this before Starlight?" Clover called to her friend.
Out of nowhere a giant Ursa came in roaring, facing Clover with thoughts of dinner in its eyes. A smiley-faced cannonball sent the construct Ursa crashing to the ground.
"Go, Minty! I mean Clover!" Granfalloon cheered spreading her wings wide and her horn glowing from the library roof.
"Pinkie Pie! It is you! You ARE REAL NOW!" Clover called.
"Yes, yes, yes!"
"That's my line!" Razzaroo shouted smiling.
Pinkie's cheer was real. Not-insane, just bubbly and pure. On one hoof, this wasn't the first time that 'Minty' had been mentioned by Pinkie Pie/Angry Pie/Nightmare Granfalloon. I'd gotten the whole story out of Granfalloon. She'd grieved for Minty through time and the tangled knots of worldlines.
I'm not proud to admit: once I knew who Minty was, a part of me felt resentment in the back of my mind whenever my pink friend brought her up. As though Pinkie were a stepsister of mine, lamenting the death of her real sister.
How was I supposed to make things better for Pinkie? How could anypony compete with a fallen friend's memory?
If Pinkie had to choose again who she'd save, we all know it wouldn't be the old me.
But seeing Granfalloon and Minty's other-self's joyful reunion blasted those old resentments to dust. Pinkie had closure at last, that was what mattered.
I know Pinkie will happily look forward to Minty-Clover's visits when this is over and we serve our time.
I might too.
I plan on asking Granfalloon to put in a good word with Clover for me. I...wanna be friends too.
"Scootaloos!" Razzaroo shouted at the army. "Clear a way to the clubhouse! Everypony who's a part of Ponyville! Get to the Cutie Mark Crusaders tree house at Sweet Apple Acres! It's the way out of the fake Ponyville! Those who know the way, help those who don't!"
"Do what she says, Scoots!" I shouted.
Razzaroo then used her spell book to create several glowing arrows in the sky pointing the way towards freedom. I saw Bon Bon help up a bleeding Lyra.
"Rainbow Dash and her friends, me and my friends: we'll all make sure you get out safely!" shouted Clover. "We have friends on the other side waiting for you! You won't be hurt! YOU'RE ALL GETTING OUT OF THIS ALIVE!"
All the while, Razzaroo was zapping any puppets or constructs that got past the Scootaloo Army Alliance of Awesomeness and conjuring up extra signposts.
And I saw Patch, oy! She was swinging from a rope from nowhere shouting, "Tally ho!" Swinging her sword like an idiot.
Flutterdragon zipped past and cut the rope, Patch did a summersault and spread her wings and blocked each of Flutterdragon's attacks as she tried to hit and run the substitute reaper, probing for weakness in Patch's offense-trumps-defense fighting style. An attack that would have gotten in was blocked by a wall of gold butterflies.
Bright Eyes shouted as they landed on the top of the Sofa and Quill's store. "Less grandstanding, Patch, more focus!"
"No offense Bright Eyes, but I've got WAY more experience than you," Patch said, facing Bright Eyes on her back legs with a hoof on her hip, dueling Flutterdragon with her other forehoof in a flurry of afterimages not moving any other part of her body not even looking!
I don't know if that's nuts or cool.
"If you think you're going to trot out one of your adventure stories again, right in the middle of-"
"No, no, I promise!" Patch waved her hooves defensively, ducking under Flutterdragon as she dived at the opening, and got a face full of angry butterflies from Bright Eyes.
Flutterbat screamed using sonic attacks on AJ's mirrors, but Melody released a counter-wave with her sword and pretty voice.
Flutterbat then dove at the healing Scootaloos, but was caught off-guard when a reflection of Applejack -- pre-Discord Applejack -- punched the batpony in the face. "Don't you know it ain't polite ta pick on those smaller than you? Yer ma's ashamed Ah bet!"
Nightmare Mirror didn't say it, but I knew her well enough to understand that her 'reflection' was still her, which meant if either body was hurt, so would the other. Of course Mirror wasn't so suicidally honest as to go blabbing that when Whisper might've forgotten.
Large bat constructs flew to aid Flutterbat, but Melody chipped in, cutting them apart and brawled with Flutterbat and her concept-killer rod. Mirror fought bare hoofed again her. Melody's movements were hard and fast.
"Yer pretty good! Ah guess Rarity's stronger than she look, no matter her incarnation."
"How did you-"
"Eyes of truth, darlin'!"
AJ's reflection bucked away Flutterbat back into the air.
"Don't go telling Spike, please, Applejack?"
"Wouldn't be right to turn down a friend's request."
I agreed. Spike as a sane dragon wouldn't want Rarity to see him like this.
Melody met the bat pony in the air. Flutterbat was using her tail like a fifth hoof to hold her concept-killer taking relentless stabs at Melody, and countering with a sonic attack of her own if Melody tried to do the same.
Melody flew in a circle around the Detachments, her sword seemed to turn back to normal, but now there were bright metal rods around her. Flutterbat braced herself for the rods to come at her all at once.
Instead, Melody began hitting them, each one giving off a vibration as she did so that only got louder and higher pitched the more she struck.
"W-what?!" Flutterbat screamed. Glowing cracks appeared in her body.
"Everything has a sympathetic harmonize, including you!" Melody said.
"You are so immodest!"
"I'm an entertainer, I can't afford to be modest."
Flutterbat screeched and shattered.
Patch laughed. "Ponies of the Tales, Third, and Fourth generation fighting side-by-side! Too bad Firefly isn't here, or our fans would be wonking out!"
Bright Eyes sniggered. "Heh, who you think is with Wind Whistler ready to lead in an army of Paradise Ponies in case we fail?"
"HEH! Well, too bad for Firefly, cause we're not gonna!"
The first of the ponies were finally making to the way out. But little and not so little yellow and pink star spiders began webbing up the entrance, while the hole was getting smaller as the barrier healed.
"OH NO YOU DON'T!"
Butterflies verses spiders?
Bright Eyes' butterflies flashed, but instead of becoming her butterfly sword again, they turned one big huge gigantic glowing golden butterfly that squished the spiders! I noted it was missing two legs.
"HOW DARE YOU!" The barrier continued to seal up.
"I dare because I care!" And Bright Eyes' giant monster butterfly wedged itself into the hole, and spread its wings, and forced it to stay open, pushing back against Nightmare Whisper's will!
I think 'cause Fluttershy and Bright Eyes had the same soul, the barrier thought that Whisper was giving the command to stay open, while the same time telling it to close up, so the dang thing was stuck in loop! Good for everypony!
"Sweet Heart and Bon-Bon are gonna be sorry they missed this adventure!" Patch cheered.
"They'll do their part for the living once they're outside the barrier! They're counting on us to do ours!" Starlight said.
"Reapers saving lives, will wonders never cease," Bright Eyes whispered to herself.
Lyra and Bon Bon managed to be the first ones through. One of the falcon constructs dove in after them.
"Protect Teddy!" I heard a voice echo on the other side, there was a loud banging noise an the construct went flying out, a shield with a big heart in the middle sticking out of the hole for a bit before going back inside.
I kept zapping and blast the giant Nightmare Whisper, but she kept absorbing anything I threw at her like a dry sponge.
Patch jammed her sword into Flutterdragon's mouth just as she was about to breath fire on the apparently unarmed Bright Eyes. The dragon froze solid, and Patch shattered her.
The dragon's body broke down into chaos magic, a small light flew out of her and back into Fluttercruel.
It was smaller than a normal light of existence, and was yellow instead of white.
"I can still defend myself, Patch." Bright Eyes said, showing she hadn't used all the butterflies at her command while creating a butterfly sword.
"Just helping a friend."
"Everypony! Focus on Flutternice!" Starlight ordered as the others all cornered the filly I'd watched Fluttershy raise for countless thousand year cycles.
"All of you against me? That's not fair!" Flutternice said.
"This is a battle, not a fencing match!" Melody shouted back.
From where she was bound, Flutterfly gave out a gasp and a similar light flew out from her body, which dissolved into raw chaos magic. The butterflies that had been holding her flew off and became an extra leg for the giant butterfly.
"Mama always says if the world isn't fair, THEN MAKE IT FAIR!" Flutternice detached her limbs again, and her Detachments all respawned as her parts grew back. The reapers were stunned.
I don't know if Flutternice's chaos magic recreates new concept killing rods for them or just teleported their old ones to them.
"HEHEHE!" Fluttergriff grinned and chuckled. Flutterbat hissed a laugh, Flutterdragon growled one. Flutterfly chortled.
Melody groaned. "Oh right, can't just cut off the branches need to take down the trunk too!"
"ROUND TWO!" Fluttergriff cried and the reapers and Detachments fought again. The Detachments just a bit more reckless and aggressive.
Starlight went for the root of their problem. Her scythe and Flutternice's own concept-killer gave off sparks as they struck each other.
"You know Discord rubbed it in Eclipse's face that one version of Fluttercruel had escaped her grasp. I guess he never knew you did too."
"I am not Fluttercruel," answered Flutternice. "I was born broken but mother healed me. It was the first thing she did when she became a Nightmare."
"Sorry. So what did it feel like when your mother lovingly destroyed your personality and reprogrammed you like a machine?" asked Starlight.
"SHUT UP! She-she only did it because she loves me!" The Detachments became less focused.
"You mean like how you mutilated how-many innocent ponies because you thought that was your best way to express love?"
"I SAID SHUT UP! Mom made me better!"
"You mean violated your soul like Discord violated her soul?"
In spite of how much Fluttercruel needed a therapy lesson, I couldn't help feeling confused why Starlight seemed intent on casting what Whisper did to her daughter in such negative light.
Then I caught sight of the ring on her hoof...She'd said she got married in Heaven, right? Geez, I guess I'd be clopped off at a mom doing this to her foal if I died before I could get one.
SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP!" Fluttenice said, in tears. The Detachments were now the ones on the defensive as Starlight's two pronged attacked distracted their trunk.
"You know if your mother trusted you to fully learn your chaos magic, I don't know if we'd stand a chance. True, you don't have the power boost that Fluttercruel had when your father chose to give her your grandfather's essence and his own power rather than feed on her to heal himself. And you never underwent the rite to become a complete Nature's Fury, so you're like a big caterpillar that never became a butterfly. Not very natural for a mother who believes in nature."
"AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!" Flutternice screamed, snarling, hissing, growling, and whatever other sounds her animal parts could make.
There wasn't a bloody thing cathartic about it, this wasn't my Fluttercruel, she never been my Fluttercruel, and I wasn't Nightmare Eclipse, and I wasn't going to be!
Starlight was blocking her mad attacks easier now.
"Mother protects me from my taint! My soul is tainted! My cutie mark is tainted! Discord's evil is inside me! Mother makes sure it never wins! She taught me not to use that evil magic unless she says so!"
"I never said your soul was tainted, dear." Whisper's voice spoke. "But it was cruel and wrong for Rota Fortuna to give you such an awful and horrid cutie mark."
"Cruel? Wrong?" Starlight asked as one of Flutternice's attack hit her in the gut, then one on her back sent her smashing to the ground. She got back up, checking her wings for breaks as Flutternice, crying and screaming attacked. "You know my special talent isn't astronomy or navigation. It's a star that guides through the night. Guiding students to a future, guiding friends to peaceful way to settle problems. And if your cutie mark is evil, why isn't there blood on the blades?"
"HUH!?" Flutternice froze like a statue.
"If your swords symbolize hurting others, why aren't they bloody? If it's evil, why is it shaped like a heart? Maybe you have a talent for bladed weapons, but tell me, are you any good at sword dancing? Expressing your feelings through dancing is something only the greatest dancers can do. Maybe your cutie mark isn't evil. Why would Rota Fortuna give you an EVIL cutie mark?"
I remembered the Fluttershys' daughters across the worldlines. Those who became Elements of Loyalty, or Kindness, who decided to save the world FROM their father, ones adopted by Cadence and raised to be a Princess, those who Discord himself raised to be kind and warm mares like their mothers (Eclipse was sure to 'tape over' that), and so many of them with that same cutie mark. And I never realized it.
"A stage pyrotechnic who thinks her cutie mark is for arson," I whispered. We'd been treating it like a drug addiction. No wonder our 'treatments' hadn't completely worked.
The Detachments suddenly stopped fighting back. Melody and Bright Eyes didn't waste the chance, and the four lights flew back into Flutternice.
"I-I-I-" Flutternice's entire body was shaking. Looking like a confused and hurt little filly.
"Don't listen to her, dear. She's trying to trick you. Don't worry. Just listen to mommy and everything will be just fine. Just don't listen. That's the key to resisting evil after all. Just don't listen to any quibbling doublespeak or obfuscating sophistry, and evil can never affect you! Just believe in what mommy's taught you and their silly equivocations can't hurt you!"
Starlight's jaw dropped. I get the feeling that went against everything her own cutie mark embodied.
"And you bad ponies brought this on yourselves," Whisper continued. "Nice, you have mommy's permission to use the special paddle."
"T-t-thank you, mama!"
"FLUTTERNICE, NO! NOT LISTENING IS NEVER THE ANSWER!" Starlight shouted, except Flutternice wasn't listening anymore, like a good daughter.
"I had to at least try," Starlight sighed resigned. "For Bright Eye's sake."
Flutternice tossed aside her rod and took out a paddle. Oh horse apples.
"Pretty please put them to sleep, Iron Will."
'Iron Will' was a double-ended, double edged, buster (horse-killer) sword with each blade the length and with of a pony, made of solid 'iron.'
"That's a concept-killing weapon!" Bright Eyes exclaimed the obvious.
"But there wasn't enough left of Tirek, Luna's chariot to make that!" Melody declared.
"They're called time loops, dearies," Whisper said, pleasantly. "We Nightmares have been making use of them for a long time, now."
"Will's really good at keep away pesky gods who want to burgle Auntie Twilight's house, and annoying angels who wanted to meddle with papa's rehabilitation." One of Flutternice's eyes twitched.
She let out a Draconequi war cry and moved faster and more furious than ever before, like she had been wearing weighty chains the whole time, swinging her weapon like it was made of styrofoam.
That's what ponies call you. Why?
'Cause they all die."
Flutternice looked like speed was that she could keep up with all five of them. Her magically animated afterimages might have had something to do with it too!
She was knocking away the others, and trying to corner Bright Eyes even to where she took a slash from Starlight's scythe to try and skewer Bright Eyes on her horse-killer.
"Everypony guard Bright Eyes!" Starslight shouted.
"'Nice must figure she's the easiest to knock off!" Patch said.
It was worse than that. Flutternice knew Bright Eyes was the only thing keep the gateway open.
I flew to help them, but turning my back on Nightmare Whisper was a mistake. She grabbed me. I sent enough lightning through her to knock one of Tiamat's head unconscious. She didn't even flinch. Huh? I tried sending electricity through her motor nerves so she'd involuntary let me go. Still nothing? That made no sense! Even as Nightmares, our bodies were still based on the biological rules of flesh and blood creatures!
"With this song, I save their lives.
You act if kidnapping from paradise makes you noble ponies.
That a fact?
Well you're~ big~ dumb~ meanies~!"
"Part of yer Draco name is Gens, it means tribe!
Your mother's advice isn't the only you should subscribe!" Melody sang back.
'Nice spun her weapon like it was fan blades, somehow blocking Melody's attack sound with it. An afterimage of Flutternice kept up the block while the reason one zipped around and attacked Melody. Erasing a flew locks of mane of existence and nearly making Melody be born without a head.
Nice slashed down with full force with her weapon, only for Clover to catch the big thing with her four hoof blades.
"You cannot crack my sword, so go ahead and kick those hooves like you're in the right, it's such a bore. You think you're the heroes? Oh~ Please!~"
Then Nice realized Clover wasn't just blocking, she was holding the horse-killer in place.
Starlight ordered Bright Eyes stay back as Nice was made to dodge several scythe slashes. Then she DISCONNECTED the hilt, using one of the huge swords on its own to overpower Starlight and swinging Clover clear off her weapon.
She reconnected the weapons in a moment. She easily knocked another of Melody sonic attacks.
"The dream shall be eternal.~ Fair thee well to all things external. Gifts of mother to help me. Reapers, I'll~ be~ your~ graves.~"
"The Dream shall be eternal
Exorcism has come, reapers~!"
The girls were being all knocked away from the sheer FORCE of Flutternice's sword swings.
"Minty!" She flew towards the fight. No! Pinkie! Don't abandon-
A sea-serpent construct burst its head out of the library roof and began to wrap around Mirror to break her concentration! The constructs must have burrowed through the basement!
Razzaroo had to abandon being the heavily artillery the Scootaloo Army needed, in order to save Mirror. I could already see the fog beginning to rise, the mortal ponies' actions beginning to slow as the fog began to pull them in.
Razzaroo shot every element in the book at the seapony, but a murder of yellow crows construct flew in and used themselves as a blockade.
Granfalloon about-faced and slammed a giant mouse trap on the construct seapony's head, putting it on a giant crack and pulling it off AJ. She quickly sealed up the hole, but first dropping an anvil down it as a surprise for whatever was coming up next.
AJ began using her mirrors again, and the fog was burned away again.
"Razz!" I shouted. "Stop anything else from below!"
"The Scoots will handle the Ponyville ponies!"
Razzaroo didn't argue. "Alright, Rainbow Dash."
That was when Patch's sword shot out a stream of fire.
Nice was flambéed in her surprise. "But you said-"
Patch said, "I lied. Ice and fire magic are both two-thirds heat transference."
Feathers fell off Starlight's wings that quickly regrew, all of them turing into Egyptian scythes swords that flung at high speed at Flutternice, as she tried to block or dodge all of them, Patch kept going for a second course of demi-draconequus Barbecue. Clover was being an indestructible, impassable wall to keep Bright Eyes safe. And Melody was drawing a breath.
"Welcome to the show, this is a number from a friend of mine!" And began a wordless vocal, a sonic attack that double for distracting Flutternice and Nice now having to worry about different style distance attacks from three different ponies.
"You all stop!" Flutternice screamed.
And all around the winged mares, the 2-D forms of floating, familiar looking, staring eyes glared at them from every possible direction.
And in an instant they were all paralyzed. Discord's the only one I've ever seen be immune to the stare, even Inserts who resisted those eyes ended up drooling vegetables.
"This...this is different from how Fluttershy's described the stare!" Starlight said.
"You forced me to use the evil version of mom's power! You, big, dumb, meanies!"
"I've met ponies with your power before, it ISN'T evil! Your ancestor Sir Squire never killed with it! He was a hero!" Patch gasped out.
"You see? When ponies devote themselves to a good cause, believing in themselves, and never ever give up, they can overcome even death itself five times over! Unlike brain-dead stooges like you who blindly follow orders of heartless, incompetent, jerkish, high-and-mighty lazy gods!"
Melody stood and ran towards her enemy.
"You're one to talk about blindly following, dear. We weren't ordered, we VOLUNTEERED!"
But that wasn't-- she had her eyes closed!
"You-but that's cheating!!! There's no way you could have-"
Melody struck the ground with her sword, creating sound waves. Like a radar.
Melody slashed in the general direction of the demi-draconequus. Forcing Flutternice to block, but the Stare held power.
"I watched over my new self! A part of me even fused with her when she became a goddess! Rarity was your mom's best friend! She knows the Stare's telltale signs that even Fluttershy didn't know!"
Flutternice attacked back.
Thankfully, something that big and heavy like Nice's horse killer made a lot of noise, letting Melody dodge just in time.
The Stare crackled and faltered slightly.
Clover's entire body shook, looking ready to rip her own muscles apart trying to move her body.
Then Melody used her sonic attack again, putting so much force behind it that it made Flutternice's ears bleed.
Flutternice slashed in a fury, creating a maze of 'never born' if Melody made one wrong move. Melody flew back then dove down, then flipped on her down back, skidding along the ground, and stabbed Flutternice nice in the leg. Then unleashed her sonic attack inside her.
Flutternice screamed, the stare broke.
"FLUTTERNICE!" screamed Whisper. "YOU MONSTER!!!"
I felt my throat clench as Flutternice grabbed Melody wrist and broke it, stomping one of her foot onto one of Melody's hooves to keep her in place, and reared up her sword to bisect her.
...Flutternice had been so much nicer, so less threatening and pleasanter to deal with, when she'd just been a twitchy-eyed girl kept on a short leash and had good behavior drummed into her by her pacifist mother. How could we have been so stupid as to help Whisper do THIS? All we'd done is cage a beast until it was chomping at the bit to get out!
Then I remembered all the ponies who were counting on us, and refocused myself.
The others flew towards her, they weren't going to make it in time. Then a pouch of a something hit Flutternice, and green smoke burst out, allowing a black and white blur to enter with a flying kick to Flutternice's face, and send her and her oversized sword skidding along the ground.
Zecora landed gracefully on two back hooves.
"Forgive me for presuming who here has good will,
But you, strange Fluttershy, are the one trying to kill."
She helped up Melody.
"Forgive me for being late,
I did not think I had a due date."
Melody opened her eyes and looked at Zecora like she'd seen a ghost.
A strange calm fell over everything. It was like the gears of reality had just been knocked out of place.
I don't think anypony planned for her arrival.
"Sweet mother of mercy,
Everything gone to heresy.
I knew something was strange,
But this is all deranged.
I came down,
I came to check on ponies,
But I can't tell this from macaroni."
"Thank you, Miss Hac-, Miss Zecora," Melody breathed. Zecora helped her up.
"If I understand this plight,
"This Ponyville is completely trite?"
"It's a lot more complicated than that."
Zecora looked at the Scootaloo Army that was still protecting the escaping Ponyville ponies, there were more than I remembered who had been sealed inside puppets.
"That I can see,
But you're here to set us free?"
"Yes, I promise that's the case," Melody said.
"We all promise," Starlight said flying next to Zecora. "We all came all this way to help you. You're all equine-beings. And...and a lot of you are dear to us in ways you can't imagine." Starlight looked like she wanted to hug Zecora then and there.
The other winged mares looked ready to bow to Zecora. Geeze, I'm missing a big part of the story, again, aren't I?
Flutternice exploded out of the fake blue shed of Doctor Whooves she had crashed into. "CHEATER!!!!!"
She sounded like a clopped-off five year old foal, and trust me; there is nothing more cruel than a foal.
Starlight looked at the infuriated little demi-goddess. "The rest of you go help fight Nightmare Whisper, Zecora and I will take care of Flutternice."
Clover gasped. "Starlight! You can't be serious! There's no way she can-"
Starlight glared at her the way only a leader can. "She'll be enough." She looked at the witch doctor. "That is, if you want to!"
"There's no time for debate,
I'll help carry your weight."
Flutternice was busy having a tempter tantrum while Starlight and Zecora had their heart to heart.
The other four flew towards where I was still feeling the grip of the giant Nightmare Whisper's oh-so-loving vice-like embrace.
"It's nice to be besides you again." Starlight said with a tear.
"Again? What you mean friend?"
"In another life, you were my teacher."
Looks like Pinkie Pie isn't the only one getting a happy reunion today.
"I see. Then let such be."
Flutternice started now that she got a good look at who had sucker-kicked her. "A mortal zebra verses a demi-draconequus? Go home. You'll get hurt!"
Zecora with one swift motion, kicked up a familiar concept killing rod from the debris in front of Zecora. The 'master copy' that Flutternice had tossed aside when she had bought out her big toy. Flutternice hadn't noticed it due to the green smoke from Zecora's first attack still hanging on the ground.
"You won't be wearing my fur,
You fight like an amateur."
"Zecora, that weapon, if you kill somepony with it, it'll be like they were never born."
"Thank for the red flag before I gave this a whack.
I suppose I'll just have to hold back."
Flutternice's jaw dropped. "YOU ARROGANT LITLE ZEBRA! I SQUASH YOU FLAT! THEN YOU KNOW TO BE POLITE!"
"While you appear an adult,
You inner-self is no grown-up.
I am banking,
You need a spanking."
"ZECORA! Don't you dare think you can discipline my foal!"
Fluttershy's voice boomed.
"Your friendship Fluttershy,
I do not wish to say goodbye.
But she is your foal,
Know that she does not seem whole."
More versus!" Flutternice shouted as she made the first attack.
- 'Got To Win' Sword Arts Online-
You won't believe me when I tell ya, but Starlight and Zecora didn't fight Flutterrnice like a pair of strangers.
In this place where souls remember, they fought alongside each other like old friends who've partnered together for hundreds of missions. Their fighting styles complemented each other perfectly.
I think Melody's attack from the inside damage Flutternice a lot more than you can see with your eyes. She was definitely not at 100% anymore. Her afterimages were a lot more sluggish and clumsy as Zecora and Starlight began cutting them down. She quickly stopped using them when she figured out it was draining her more than helping her!
She flew upwards, right out of Zecora's reach.
"Too bad for you, you're the only one here who can't fly!"
Without missing a beat, Zecora leapt onto the blade of Starlight's scythe and the magic of leverage sent her speeding upwards. Flutternice didn't expect that! She cried out when Zecora grabbed Flutternice's batwing and mane, using her body as leverage dislocated her wing.
"You'll get no breather,
Now you can't fly either!"
Flutternice crashed back to the ground, Zecora on top and rolled off her enemy grabbing the concept killer rod again.
"You are not quite mature,
That is why I call you an amateur."
Flutternice responded with a horizontal slash of her sword, Zecora leapt and landed right on the flat top of the blade. Jabbing Flutternice in the torso with her rod.
"Your weapon is scary to the eyes,
But its double size is where its weakness lies."
Nice twisted the blade, but Zecora impressively merely balanced on the edge too. Then Nice slashed upwards, but Zecora did a back flip landed perfectly and swept Nice's legs with the rod, Nice instinctively spread out her wings to balance herself, and cried out in pain from her dislocated wing. Using both her perfectly functional wings, Starlight did a double buck to Flutternice's stomach, sending her back again.
She came back spinning her weapon like helicopter blades, Starlight responded in kind with her scythe, the blades sending off sparks. Starlight then used reverse rotation and CAUGHT the weapon with her own. Nice began to overpower her, Starlight changed her scythe back into a normal sword, Flutternice's slammed into the ground sending up dust, but I heard Starlight slash into Flutternice's side as Nice cried out holding her side as the dust settled.
"A long range blade weapon in close quarters melee isn't very bright," Starlight admitted. Zecora took the chance to again begin jabbing Flutternice with the rod's end, before backing off as Nice tore her double-ended sword out of the ground.
Zecora and Starlight flanked Nice, who disconnected her weapon into two blades blocking both of them.
Both retreated at once and Starlight took Zecora up to the air.
"I didn't mean to falsely claim victory,
I'll give an apology to the referee."
HEH! Nice burn, Zecora!
Nice growled and detached Fluttergriff who flew straight at them, weaponless.
"OH. NO. YOU. DON'T!" Starlight shouted.
Zecora introduced her hoof to Fluttergriff's beak, it was a smashing meeting.
Starlight's sword became a scythe again and she bisected the yellow griffin whose light flew back into Nice and the body fell apart into chaos magic.
I'm guessing Nice's running on empty after that last one!
"You might not be having this problem if you hadn't CUT OUT your Element of Chaos!"
"It was evil!"
"An Element only reflects the Bearer."
Another murder yellow of crow constructs crowded around Starlight and Zecora, forcing them back to the ground. Whisper's not a neglectful mother.
"Nice! Retreat! You're getting hurt!"
"No! I'm going to win! I won't give up! Not now! Not ever! I'm going to kick their plots! There's no way I'm gonna lose!"
"Nice! I'm telling you-"
"Believe in me, mom, like I believe in you!" She moved like a freight train at the pair. "I am done with you!"
"Same here, little filly!" Starlight shouted.
Nice flung herself at the pair, the two disconnected swords slashing in a whirlwind trying to delete my...my friends.
Zecora blocked with her rod, only for the impact to send her flying. Nice slashed with both swords together, and broke Starlight's scythe in two.
Starlight backed up, only for a yellow mole to dig out a hole right behind her, making her fall.
Starlight rolled out of the way of the slash, only to stop just as the other sword struck down where she'd have been if she'd kept moving.
"Other pegasi never could leave mom alone!" She looked about to rip Starlight's throat out with her fangs.
"I am an Earth pony!" Starlight with her back to the ground pushed herself up with her forelegs, kicking Flutternice in the stomach. "Of the Age of Wonders!" She rested her entire right foreleg against the side of Flutternice's left sword for a split second. And she lifted it up, like Spider-Pony, the blade sticking to her leg and ripping it out of Flutternice's clumsy fetlock grip.
I'd sparred with AJ enough times to recognized what happened next as Starlight channeled her earth pony magic right through the concept-killer, rising up and attacking in the same motion.
Flutternice counter-attacked without even thinking, the two identical weapons met, force and vibration traveled through them and both shattered!
Flutternice looked in bewilderment as the pieces of her swords scattered, like in slow motion, the two's eyes met, and Starlight's eyes now had the killer instinct.
Flutternice screamed in panic, and tried balancing herself on her back draconequus-style to kangaroo-kick Starlight.
Zecora caught her friend and, in a liquid motion, let her slide onto the ground, and caught Flutternice by the tail with her rod and smacked Flutternice face-first into the ground like the head of a hammer.
Flutternice was up in an instant and charged fangs, claws, hooves, and teeth, all bared, Zecora pulled back on her staff and Flutternice slammed into it. Nice gripped it trying to pull it away from Zecora. The zebra held on, but didn't resist the pull as she used Flutternice's own strength to power her kicks, and slip the weapon out of Nice's momentarily weak grip.
Flutternice used every limb on her body to attack Zecora with, whipping with her claw, stomping with her hooves, goring with her claws, biting with her teeth, everything in turn.
Zecora moved with experience and precision, the end of the black rod hitting Flutternice repeatedly but never in the same place and never with enough force to cause damage as far as I could tell, but also giving her space to retreat and dodge Nice's attack, never trying to simply block them. It was like a dance.
Flutternice thrust with her griffin claw right at Zecora's eyes, as Zecora struck her in one more spot and...she froze like a statue.
"W-what...what kind of magic..."
"That's always my itch,
I am not a witch!
Stabbed your pressure and mana-points with this thing,
I did bring."
Zecora held up the concept killer rod.
"I do not wish to scoff,
But in layponies' terms, your magic and movements, are turned off."
Zecora struck on the side again with the rod, and Flutternice's entire body went limp.
"Now please stay filly,
You're now as weak as a lily."
Nice tried to detach again, but nothing happened. Guess that was tied into her magic as well.
Starlight picked up her broken in two scythe, held the pieces together, and it turned back into a sword with a thin discoloration along the blade.
"Zecora..." Starlight said.
You'd look better if you smiled." Zecora told her with a small smile of her own.
"It...it was a honor to fight alongside you. I'm sorry I couldn't meet you in a better time and place...you're a wonderful pony, er, sorry, Zebra, no matter what your name or face are. Oooh! There's so much I never said! There's so much I never got a chance to say! I was never there for you! When you've always been there for me!"
From where I stood, quietly listening to all this had a fun, wry moment imagining Starlight being born into Zecora's tribe of zebras, and sporting one of their mohawks.
Zecora put a hoof on Starlight's shoulder.
"Child, do not fixate on what you could have had.
It shall drive you mad.
You are here now,
that I can avow."
Starlight cried and hugged her. "Thank you!"
Zecora lovingly patted her on the back.
"Forgive me if things are not as they seem,
but I do believe I've seen you in a dream."
Zecora took a moment to throw some sort of powder in the face of a Timberwolf construct coming behind her, making it act like it'd had a run in with a skunk.
"Y-Yeah, maybe..." Starlight cut a construct behind her in half.
"I believe I was a teacher in a school long ago,
many classes I did sow.
In it you were a pupil dear,
who learning did now fear.
To be a teacher you wanted to be,
and to see that I was proud as could be.
Was this just a dream that did not last,
or a memory of life past?"
I normally would say dialogue in the middle of combat wasn't a good idea, but these two could clearly watch their own backs. I watched just in case Fluttershy gave Flutternice a free cheat-code, actually putting her down was next to impossible.
"...I...that...that's one way to put it..."
"Then Starlight do not fear,
I am proud of you my dear."
Starlight started crying at that. "But I..."
"If for something you feel regret,
do not fret.
If guilt for it you do feel,
then I believe that guilt is real.
For as much as I now live,
I do forgive."
They hugged. Good for them, I guess...
"We had better get her to the portal. Demi-goddess or not, she might not be safe here if this place collapses after we subdue Fluttershy," Starlight said.
A nasty looking ring of animal constructs formed around the two friends and they stood back to back.
"You hurt my baby!"
"She was trying to kill us!" Starlight shouted.
"Don't lie to me! You both need to learn some manners!"
Zecora shook her head.
"So yet another parent,
Turns a blind eye to their foal's problems, apparent."
The army of constructs came at them from every direction, Zecora and Starlight weren't exactly fresh with cuts and bruises aplenty. But I had every confidence they'd make it, no way they were going down now!
And I know Fluttershy. Even as a Nightmare she wasn't a killer, and wasn't one after her mind was healed by the Elements.
Meanwhile, back with me...remember me? I'd actually got myself freed soon after the fight between Zecora, Starlight and Flutternice started. It wasn't like the rest of the world froze while they were fighting.
The puppet of Mr. Cake pulled a member of the Scootaloo Army, (loop #30,001 for the record) inside itself with its puppet string, and Scootaloo PUNCHED HER WAY OUT FROM THE INSIDE!
One of them punched a hoof into a puppet and let loose some energy from Element of Loyalty INSIDE it. Yeah, a few had Elements of Loyalty, what did you expect? I dare you to find a more loyal filly. And I was proud of her.
Being a Bearer is a tough job? Duh. That SOME version of you out there HAS TO have become a Nightmare? That so?
Let me tell you something. One thing I noticed through the world lines? Those few 'normal and safe' ponies who weren't Element bearers in ANY worldline? They have NO HEART!
To not be an Element in ANY world line you have to be heartless in every worldline! It's proof there's a spark of goodness in you!
I saw Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom being flown to the portal by their Scootaloos.
"But Scootaloo! I wanna help! I don't care what she's sayin'! She's my sister! She's gotta be!" Apple Bloom shouted.
"And I'm not leaving without Rarity!" Sweetie Belle squirmed.
"...Apple Bloom I'm sorry, but you can't help. There are lots of way you can help your sister. There's lots you're good at. But galloping straight into the middle of a fight between demigods ISN'T one of them! You'll just be a target!" Scootaloo pleaded.
"But yer gettin' tah help!...A lotta yah are!"
"I know, but I don't know HOW I know how to fight this well! How WE do...it's like a part of me knows how to fight even if I don't! But it also knows you don't...you're healers not fighters..."
"But you...and you, and you...all of yous, you're... you're all fighting. What makes you different?!"
"...I'm sorry, Apple Bloom, but...my body remembers, my heart remembers, even if my head doesn't want to remember. Remembers fighting...so much fighting."
"Well, maybe Ah just need to remember some fancy stuff too Ah can't remember if yer suddenly a super-battle-pony, maybe Ah-"
The look in Scootaloo's eyes, heh, like Granny Smith, like my own grandparents, somepony who had lived so long, and carried so much, and lost so much. "No Apple Bloom. Not here. Not like this. All I know is if you remember it, you'll be hurt. No. Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye, no!"
"Aren't you gonna say something?" Sweetie Belle asked the Scootaloo who was carrying her.
Scootaloo nuzzled her. "I have nothing I can say Sweetie. Because I know Rarity would do the same for you."
"Then let me go!"
"I can't! You're...you're all I have left."
"What do you mean?!?!" Sweetie asked in horror as they dodged the constructs trying to stop them from reaching the portal.
"...Just know I want to keep you safe because you're my friend and I care about you...that's all you need to know right now."
"We're saving EVERYPONY here, Sweetie Belle. If Rarity's here, then she's coming with us! And SHE'D WANT YOU SAFE!!!"
"...Alright." Sweetie Belle said in a little voice.
Sometimes super senses suck.
Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, part of me would've liked to explain this personally, but good fillies like you should stay away from Nightmares:
Know when to fold them.
Know when your loved ones are gone. Know enough to sense when you're in over your head and to bail out instead of going down with the ship. Know when things are beyond your control. Know when it's time to let go. Know how to embrace a new life, a new path, new friends.
Life's too short, even when you're NOT mortal. Sometimes it's healthy to forget. There's a difference between loyalty and chaining yourself.
Wanna hear more of the goings on I got through my super senses? Wow. Not trying to be egotistical, but that's kinda taking a detour off of my story.
Well, since you insist.
There was a pair of earth pony mares with wings on the other side of the portal.
One had a rounded figure with a yellow coat and purple mane, and blue eyes. Her cutie mark was a big piece of wrapped candy. She was holding a journal and pen.
The other one had a white coat with a pink mane and purple eyes. Her cutie mark was a big pink heart with a few smaller hearts around it. She was holding the big shield I saw refuse that construct the door before. Oh, and apparently she had a halo. That was odd, I think Apple Bloom's spirit was the only one I'd ever seen have one at all.
Lyra and Bon Bon came through first, the bleeding on the two living mares and life long pair had stopped.
Bon Bon blinked, looking from the yellow mare to herself like she was looking in a mirror. Lyra was looking between them.
"What are your names?" The mare with the yellow coat asked.
Bon Bon and Lyra stiffened a bit and the words came from their mouth unbidden.
"My name is Bon Bon Sweetdrops."
"My name is Lyra Heartstrings."
The yellow mare write down their names in her journal. "Bon Bon Sweetdrops, Lyra Heartstrings, you exist."
And Nothingness had no claim.
Then the white gently touched each of them over the heart. "Bon Bon Sweetdrops, Lyra Heartstring, you're alive." All of Lyra's injuries healed right on the spot.
And Death had no claim.
"My name is Bon-Bon too by the way." The yellow mare said. "It's nice to meet you, Bon Bon."
"Are you me from the distant future?"
"I'm your great ancestor."
"Wow...were you a great warrior or healer or something?"
"No...but I was a model. And I cooked."
"Uh, Bon-Bon, there are lots of ponies behind them," the white pony said like she was Fluttershy.
"Oh. Sorry, Sweetheart. Please wait behind me."
Next was...the puppets of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, with most of the pieces broken off, showing two ponies inside.
Sweetheart gently took off the heads of the puppet shells and the other pieces.
"What are your names, little ponies?"
"Snips Puppeteer." "Snails Mage."
"Snips Puppeteer. Snails Mage. You exist."
"T-thank you." Snips whimpered.
"Don't worry, no pony is going to hurt you now," Sweetheart said as she used the same ritual she used on Bon Bon and Lyra to heal the poor boys.
Next was Nurse Redheart. After Bon-Bon wrote her name down, she looked to Sweetheart.
"You...are you an alien using Saint Sweetheart's image to calm me down so I won't freak out over your tentacled form?"
"Actually, I am Saint Sweetheart." Sweetheart hugged her. "And I'm so proud of my family and you Redheart." Redheart, meanwhile, fainted.
Bon Bon and Lyra helped move Nurse Redheart past the 'medical' and 'records' spot.
The next I'm told was...a pink pegasus. She had a pair of puppet shell wings.
"What's your name?"
After...Sweetheart gently, like they were bandages, took off Cupcakes' wings.
"It's okay, you're going to be okay now, Cupcakes, you're alive." And in that moment, Cupcakes had her wings back. I'm told she was more happy than you can imagine. And there was a lot of tears of joy.
"D-Do I get to keep them this time? Are they...are they finally real?"
"Yes. They're as real as the ones you were born with."
It took five minutes to get her to stop hugging Sweetheart. I couldn't stop smiling.