From atop the bow, Apple Bloom peered through the fog. Confused at first by what she saw, she let out a small gasp, and shouted, "Take us up!"
"What?!" Sweetie exclaimed.
"Take us up, Mr. Olo!" Captain Pip shouted.
"Hoo-hoot!" Olo The Owlbear pulled back on the wheel.
The Moonpearl tilted upwards and began to ascend. Gravity for the foals remained directional to the floor, thankfully. The privateer crew took this all in stride except Dinky who looked over the side in awe.
"Miss Dinky, to your post!" Moonlight ordered.
Button and Sweetie looked over the side too, amazed as the privateer ship rose into the air at an angle. Bubbles and fog slowly fell below them. Scootaloo stood next to Apple Bloom, following her gaze.
"Scootaloo,” said Sweetie Belle, if we're going up, then that means-"
"I'm coming, Rainbow Dash!" Scootaloo boomed.
Apple Bloom smiled. 'We'll get yah next, sis, I promise.'
Sweetie Belle's Diary:
"Button?" I asked, looking over to him,
"Yeah, Sweetie Belle?" he asked. Button isn't really good at hiding how he feels.
"How are you doing?" I asked inching a bit closer.
"I'm sorry your hat got destroyed helping me..." I said. I didn't know much about it...but he was helping me and how hurt he seemed.
He looked down. "Oh...don't worry, I don't blame you...Tootsie and Truffle did it and...and they didn't know."
"...It meant a lot to you, didn't it?"
Button nodded, looking down. "...My dad gave it to me...We didn't get to hang out that much and we were spending the day together and..." he sniffled. "Mom loved it! Some ponies made fun of me for it, but I never let it bother me...I felt like dad was always with me when I was wearing it."
I couldn't help it, I hugged him. "...I'm sorry... I know what it's like not seeing your parents a lot." Why did Scootaloo look our way? He hugged me back.
"I know... we talked about it after the wedding." Button Mash whisper. "You said you were feeling more at home at your sister's house than your old bedroom... but you were still happy to have your parents home."
"That's... that's right. What did you say to me?"
"I said that, some part of you gets used to the waiting, but in the end, they're still yer dad."
We hugged a bit tighter.
I hope when all this is over we can still be... friends. We nuzzled.
"Excuse me!" shouted a little voice slightly familiar to the CMC+1. Clutching to a little cloud like a life preserver was a flower filly pegasus. She let go of the cloud and landed gracefully onto the ship on all four hooves. Her basket's contents did not spill out as she righted herself, and she showed no surprise or reaction on seeing the foals on a pirate ship flying up into the sky.
"Hi, Aphrodite," Sweetie Belle greeted.
"Oh, hello again, little Miss!" she replied in a purely innocent, ever-so-slightly melancholy voice. She curtsied to the pirate crew using her cloak. "Greeting, I apologize for coming aboard uninvited. Your friends know me as Aphrodite. I wanted to sell some of my flowers in Cloudsdale. But it proved terribly hard to get there, far too hard for a little filly like me. If you're going to go that way I just came from, you'd best be prepared for lots of Bad Things trying to stop you. Maybe you should buy some of my flowers? They're very tasty and healthy."
The privateer crew showed minimal reaction to their new guest. Blanky sniffed her, and then kept his head bowed towards her, for as long as she remained on board.
"Works for me!" Button Mash said. His magic window appeared with a list of different flowers for sale and a number. Button Mash instantly brought one of the numbers up to-
"You're buying 99 daisies?!" Sweetie Belle asked.
"They're cheap, and it says here I get a bulk discount. Besides, if there's only two left, then we're heading for the final dungeons!"
Dinky silently watched the flower filly, feeling more bewildered by the moment, but kept her mouth shut.
Button next stocked up on roses, and a few other flowers. Sweetie knew there was no way they could all fit in Button's bag or Aphrodite's basket, but that didn't seem to matter anymore.
Scootaloo blinked. "Are either of you related to Pinkie Pie?"
"No..." Button said, looking confused.
Aphrodite smiled. "My brother is friends with one of her nieces if that counts. It's none of my business, but may I ask why you wish to go to Cloudsdale? It shall be anything but easy. What is so dear to you that awaits there?"
"Rainbow Dash," Scootaloo said bluntly.
"She's very important to you, isn't she?"
"She's everything I want to be. She's confident, she's brave, she determined, she never lets her friends down, she's willing to look after me when my parents can't, she's taught me what it means to be a real friend. She showed me that family isn't just about blood, it's about heart too."
"She's your hero." She smiled. "The love between those the hero loves, and those who love the hero is beautiful. A hero fights for those he loves among the living, not just the dead. And those who love a hero, even if that hero isn't there… will be strengthened by that love."
Button Mash immediately scribbled down what Aphrodite said.
"It must be great to have Princess Celestia's filly as your mentor," Noi said, reminding the ponies the pirate crew was still there. "I wonder if she uses rainbows to dye her mane."
Scootaloo was struck dumb for several seconds before blurting out. "Dash's mane isn't dyed! I've seen her family photos! She's had that color since she was a filly, and it's the same colors as her dad's!"
"No, she has rainbow-colored hair because she's Celestia's daughter, and dye her mane, I mean... " Noi looked dizzy.
"Actually her rainbow mane means some of her ancestors were Quetzalcoatls… wings serpents who protected ponies against Discord when he ruled Equestria... Doesn't it?" Ruby Pinch asked.
"Wasn't the Quetzalcoatl Queen evil in the Daring Do books?" Scootaloo couldn't help but ask.
"That doesn't make the quetzalcoatls evil," Dinky whispered.
"Daring Do isn't real," Ruby Pinch said with perfect confidence.
"She's real in everypony's hearts who love her adventures," Aphrodite said brightly.
"... I guess she is." Scootaloo admitted. "Aphrodite, are you good at flying?"
"Okay, just... just wanted to make sure. If you... if you see any other pegasus foals, could you ask them to stay away from Cloudsdale? Just trust me, okay?"
"Well, I suppose I could. It's very hard to get there. So it wouldn't really be worth the risk. But if you're going there for your hero, then I know you'll make it. I had better be gone. Thank you for buying my flowers." She curtsied with her cloak again.
Scootaloo watch her fly out of sight as the airship continued to rise... Scootaloo knew this trick, their trip would last as long as she needed to say her piece.
"Girls, Mash, huddle," Scotaloo said solemnly and her friends gather, Apple Bloom reluctantly leaving her post. "I know what big lie the curse made real for Rainbow Dash... it's the only one that's nasty enough to Dash... We're headed for the weather factory in Cloudsdale, and the Pegasus Device is there."
They all gasped.
(Button Mash's Journal: I never even heard of that thing until Silver Spoon explained it to me when we were all getting to know her.
"Well, you see, lots of ponies love the Princess, so um," Silver Spoon thought for a bit, "What if somepony did a show where your big sisters were shown as mean nasty ponies? And Scootaloo, what if somepony did a show where your teacher was a sadist who threw fillies into the Pegasus Machine?"
"That wouldn't be fair!" Sweetie and Apple Bloom shouted together.
"Rainbow would NEVER do that!" yelled Scootaloo, looking rather upset. "And that thing isn't real... "
"The what now?" I asked. Scootaloo explained. Mom had to apologize to Rarity about my breakfast ending up on Rarity's carpet. I didn't know ponies could throw up.)
"Oh no," Sweetie Belle whispered. "If... if the... factory's been going this whole time... how many foals..." She paled.
"Calm down, ya don't know that for sure, Scootaloo," Apple Bloom said.
"No, it's all it can be."
"Somethin' Nightmare Rainbow Dash showed ya?"
"I... I don't know. It's nothing magic, it's just how the nasties have been thrown at us... like Cheerilee. Besides, what else could it be?!"
"How long have yah had this figured out?" Apple Bloom asked, giving a glare, Scootaloo didn't like the look in her weird eye.
"Since we started rising..."
"So why you just now tellin' us?"
"Because I didn't know for sure!"
"Well yah sure sounded like it!"
"Apple Bloom!" Sweetie Belle admonished.
Apple Bloom blinked and she rubbed her eye. "S-Sorry! Ah sorry! There's, Ah'm just worried too, we're so much closer but we have no idea how long we have. Ah'm just worried."
"I know, Apple Bloom, but don't forget we're all friends."
"Ah'm never forgettin' that!" Apple Bloom said proudly.
Storm clouds thundered above the Moonpearl. "Go around it, Mr. Olo," Captain Pipsqueak began to say.
But Apple Bloom galloped to the bow. "No! That's our way through! Trust me!"
"...Very well Miss Apple," Pipsqueak said formally.
"Are... are you sure that's the best way? I heard it's not the best to take ships into storms." Dinky objected.
Dinky Hooves shrank a bit as all eyes were now on her.
"Ah promise..." Apple Bloom said looking at the filly, "This is the way the Truth is showin' me, it's gotta be the best way."
When Dinky turned her eyes away, Apple Bloom realized something else... Dinky had fireflies ON HER, and around her, but there weren't any INSIDE HER.
"Dinky, what are ya?" Apple Bloom heard herself whisper.
"Attention! Her Nightjesty's Moonpearl," A mare's voice boomed from seemingly every direction.
"Sassaflash?" Scootaloo asked, vaguely recognizing the voice of Caramel's pegasus fillyfriend.
The voice continued like a recording. "You're unauthorized to enter Cloudsdale airspace. If you continue, lethal force will be used. You shall receive no further warnings."
Lightning flashed in the distance, followed shortly by thunder all around the airship. None of the foals suggested turning around.
Apple Bloom thought, 'These stupid lies, they made Pipsqueak and his friends save us, now they're goin' into a fight where they could die cause they're brainwashed to take us where we want! Guess we're in this together.'
"Am I the only one who thinks the words 'lethal force' should never come out of a pony's mouth?" Sweetie Belle questioned.
"No!" answered the rest of the group.
"ALL HOOVES, BATTLE STATIONS!" Pipsqueak ordered.
= Blast Away! ~Gummi Ship 3~ - Kingdom Hearts =
Before the Crusaders' eyes, sections of the main deck, and the MoonPearl's bow and sides, flipped open to reveal cannons styled like Gatling guns and modern turrets. Noi and Ruby rushed to two of them. Pipqueak stood at the command deck along with Olo. Moonlight stayed close to Dinky.
"Wow...if I knew the ship was armed, I'd have tried to buy some upgrades," Button remarked.
Out of the storm clouds burst forth a decrepit ship that looked it'd sunk to the ocean floor ages ago, which it had. It flew right alongside of the Moonpearl, matching her speed. Emblazoned on its stern were the words, 'The Flying Dutchmare'.
To Apple Bloom's eye, it looked like an entire ship made of snakes. It was being crewed by Bloody Hooves and vampire ponies.
"Chalk outlines," Apple Bloom said to her friends.
"FIRE! BROADSIDE!" Captain Pipsqueak ordered. The fillies obeyed, and fired, the cannon balls ripped through the ghost ship, in one way, and out the other, but the ghost ship stayed moving in spite of the obvious damage it suffered.
Instead the ghost ship moved close to the Moonpearl and hooks were thrown over to connect the two airships.
"Prepare to repel boarders!" Captain Pipsqueak orders.
The undead ponies scurried or flew across like a swarm of rats. The privateer foals drew their swords and met the horrors head-on without hesitation. The undead ponies attacks' were mindlessly repetitive, like most of the curse's constructs. Captain Pipsqueak waved his sword around at any foes that tried to get close to him, chopping them apart. Their remains then turned to ash.
Olo smashed them to pieces with single swings of his wings and swipes of his claws, sending them over the bulwarks, and STILL keeping his grip on the wheel the whole time!
Moonlight grabbed Dinky, and held her hooves to Dinky's temples, Moonlight and Dinky's eyes glowed white. Dinky's body shaking, bolts of magic fired in rapid succession from her horn, hitting the monsters dead center, blasting holes in them or flinging them overboard.
Noi and Ruby Pinch fought back-to-back, acting nothing like overwhelmed foals that were scared out of their minds. More like seasoned high seas fencers who were no strangers to defending themselves. It sent a chill up Apple Bloom's spine in a way that Button Mash's crush on Sweetie Belle hadn't, she was thankful they were on her side.
Apple Bloom wondered if she'd only now noticed the scars on Ruby's back: whether they had been legitimately scratched there by some monster, or if they had been added on by the rumors, between blinks. But then she had more pressing things to worry about, as the horrors closed in on her. This wasn't Nightmare Night where she could just tell herself it was all pretend. These things were going to kill her! Just like Sunny Town! Only there was no Ruby or Mitta here. Just bloodthirsty creatures.
"YA AIN'T REAL!" Apple Bloom screamed scared as she bucked the head off one of the monster ponies. Its body turned to ashes before it hit the ground.
Button Mash and Sweetie Belle were at her side the next thing she knew, flanking her. Button Mash, used his giant leaf fan to blow them overboard, and Sweetie used slashes of her magic to cut them down. 'They aren't alive. They aren't alive. They aren't alive,' Sweetie told herself.
Terrifying as they looked, the horrors folded like construction paper cutouts, as Scootaloo dealt with their airborne menaces, still staying parallel to the ship's deck. She used every trick Rainbow Dash taught her, keeping her back to the mast just in case.
Blanky leapt from monster to monster, erasing it from ever having existed, and even boarding the Flying Dutchmare itself to attack more of its crew. A living trail of oblivion.
Using Dinky as a turret, Moonlight shouted, "Miss Pinch and Noi! Continue the barrage!"
Dinky blazed a path to the cannons, which the pair of fillies continued to fire, without ever needing to reload, prep, clean, or any of the other complex and precise steps needed to actually fire cannons under real-world circumstances. None of the CMC+1 complained.
The Flying Dutchmare began to break apart, crumbling like stale bread. The remaining undead ponies aboard it fell like so many breadcrumbs.
"Moonlight! Sweetie's dog!" Dinky manage to gasp out. Blanky didn't seem to notice the ship falling apart around him as he reveled in his rampage.
"Oh my-" Moonlight said, letting go.
"Wait! You can see-" Sweetie began, only to be saved by a dive-bombing Scootaloo from the vampire pony that just tried to suck her blood.
"…Want answers too! But not now!" Scoots shouted as she did a spin kick in midair kicking the fangs out of the vampire pony she knew had been coming behind her.
"BLANKY! COME BACK!" Sweetie shouted, most of the pirates having no idea what she was talking about. Blanky woke up from his euphoria, saw his mistress shouting for him, and ran full tilt, leaping off the Flying Dutchmare as it 'gave up the ghost.' Sweetie caught him in her telekinesis and pulled him towards her in a hug. Then she had to duck as the remaining bloody hooves tried to eat her, but Blanky retconned them out of existence.
The much larger and imposing captain of the ghost ship clamored up the side of the ship using his swords to climb with… only to be met by Pipsqueak, who in true pirate fashion dueled him himself until Moonlight rushed to his side and bucked the ghost captain backwards. She and Pip nodded to each other and she grabbed his sword along with him as the mammoth undead pirate charged. The sword glowed with what seemed like real moonlight and the duo slashed the captain as he went by, only losing a few hairs from their mane from his cutlass. The rumor's spawn stopped and turned around...then went limp and burned to ash.
The storm still thundered around them.
The privateers and Crusaders had barely just finished destroying the last boarder before they all heard a faint whistling sound. A moment later, two dozen bunker busters literally drilled into the deck of the Moonpearl. Each of the rocket powered projectiles sported a powerful drill bit burrowing into the Moonpearl. They also came with digital displays that counted down from 25 seconds.
"We've got termites!" Captain Pipsqueak shouted.
"DESTROY OR DISABLE THEM NOW!" Moonlight screamed.
They all acted fast. 20 seconds to destroy 24 bombs.
Blanky leapt from bomb to bomb, eating the timers and leaving them originally duds. But there was only one of him. 15 Bombs left.
Button Mash drew his sword and slashed and diced the bombs to pieces, taking the detonators and payload with them. 11 Bombs left.
With no time to charge her magic, Sweetie Belle wildly slashed at everything she knew wasn't a friend; 4 bombs left.
Apple Bloom proved to be a crafty little foal, disabling two of the bombs with nothing but her wits and bare hooves.
That left two bomb. And two seconds. In a flash of light... Scootaloo bisected the last timers just before they hit zero.
"The bombs were all destroyed before they could detonate," Moonlight declared.
"Captain! Air mines ahead!" Noi shouted.
Floating directly in their path extending in every direction and countless layers behind them was a field of spiked metal beachballs. Some obscured by clouds, all silently waiting for that faint touch that would set them off. The Moonpearl was forced to slow.
"They're too close together for Mr. Olo to sail through them!" Moonlight translated.
"Can we sail around?!" Sweetie asked.
"NO! We have to stay on this path!" Apple Bloom shouted.
"We'll have to destroy them one by one and proceed at minimal speed!" Captain Pipsqueak said.
"That'll take forever!" Scootaloo exaggerated.
A beeping jingle perked Button Mash's attention moments before a floating screen appeared in front of him. 'Ask For Help?' It inquired with big YES and NO buttons below. Years of gaming instinct took over as Button Mash pressed the YES button.
Moments later, several lasers shot down from the sky in chaotic colors: Dioxide purple, Indigo, Sienna, Cadmium yellow, Orange, Red, and Davy gray. The barrage of chaos lasers blasted a path just big enough for the Moonpearl to get through.
"Well, that's a time saver!" Scootaloo said.
"Button what did ya do?!"
"Uh, used the 'call for help?'"
"Who cares! Full speed ahead!" Scootaloo shouted.
"Ahem, full speed ahead Mr. Olo," Captain Pipsqueak ordered.
The Moonpearl charged straight through the hole in the minefield, unopposed.
From somewhere, Sassaflash's voice echoed, "Warning! The first line has been breached! Begin full lockdown!"
Through the storm, the crew of the Moonpearl saw a literal wall of industrial based electrified clouds. And several turrets made of the same material aimed right at the Moonpearl!
"Evasive maneuvers!" Came the order as Olo steered the Moonpearl wildly, dodging the incoming cannonballs and lightning blasts and lasers from the wall of guns. Ruby Pinch and Noi manned their guns and fired, sending their own barrages at the turrets knocking them down.
Button did his best with his light arrows and Sweetie with her dark magic, but there were still many many turrets.
"There's a gate! But it's closing fast!" Apple Bloom's eyes spotted.
"No choice! ALL HOOVES FLANK SPEED!" Pipsqueak drew his sword, struck a pose, and pointed with his blade directly ahead.
At those words, the aft of the Moonpearl flipped open, revealing two giant rocket jets!
The Moonpearl zoomed forward like a Roman candle! Apple Bloom and her friends were thrown off their hooves. Scootaloo had to hold onto one of the riggings to keep from being thrown into the ship's aft cabin. Blanky left claw marks in the deck from the G-force.
"Behold the power of imagination," Sweetie managed to say.
The Moonpearl zipped through the closing cloud-gate. Only for another one to pop up from right behind it, already closing up! Nothing needed to be said! The Moonpearl continued to press herself to the limit, testing the strength of her wood beams.
The enemy guns on the second wall didn't get a chance to fire. But right behind the second gate was a third gate, already closing! The Moonpearl continued to race! They weren't surprised anymore when they saw the fourth gate, or the fifth!
As the sixth gate closed, the foals all held their breath as the edges of the gate closed in around them... and took the Moonpearl's mast as they got out. But the Moonpearl stubbornly continued onward! Then... the seventh gate closed just in front of them.
"WE'LL JUST HAVE TO SHOOT OUR WAY THROUGH!" Scootaloo snarled. Olo wasn't sure he could stop in time. The privateers readied themselves to fire. The wall's turrets swiveled and took aim. Button Mash again heard the jingle, and the 'Ask For Help?' buttons appeared a second time. Button pressed 'YES.'
Lightning rained down across the turrets, destroying them utterly.
"NO MATTER MY INCARNATION, I AM THE GOD OF THUNDER! THE MIGHTY THOR!"
To everypony's shock and awe, Mjolnir the earth pony, flew out of the clouds, decked in silver armor and a red cape. Wrapped around one hoof by a leather thong was a mighty hammer.
She shouted at the crew. "I have come because it is believed I would thus! And I owe the hourglass stallion with the green tie a favor for helping me find my hammer! Thine quest is thine quest! But for this one act, I shalt aid ye!"
Dinky smiled. Lightning struck Mjolnir's hammer from all directions, and she flew up to the gate, and struck with all her godly might, the cloud barrier was obliterated. Mjolnir flew off without a word.
"Hey! Maybe next time you hit that button we'll get Superstallion," Scootaloo grinned.
"WE SHALL NOT BE STOPPED!" Moonlight shouted.
"DANGER! DANGER!" Sassaflash voice shouted, "THE SECOND LINE HAS BEEN BREACHED! Switch to emergency defense mode!"
With her truth eye, Apple Bloom saw them. The snake/leech/centipede things skimming through the sky like it was water.
"GIRLS! INCOMING! MORE CURSES!"
Then... the snake/leech/centipedes, with a flourish, spun cocoons around themselves. Before Apple Bloom could so much as open her mouth, the cocoons ripped open, revealing huge moth-like scaly horrors with wings the colors of dead leaves, each emitting skin-crawling alien screeches.
"What are those things?!" Ruby Pinch gasped out.
"Everfree moths?!" Noi grasped at straws.
Dinky whimpered at the sight of them, wishing her mama, or her big sister, or the Doctor were here.
"You can see those?!" Apple Bloom exclaimed.
"I CAN SEE THOSE!" Scootaloo shouted.
The abominations flapped their wings at the Moonpearl. Giant spinning brightly colored floating rings shot out from the monsters right at their privateer ship.
"Fly THROUGH them!" Button Mash shouted.
Olo didn't wait for confirmation from his captain nor did any object. Olo piloted the Moonpearl through giant spinning brightly colored floating rings that the giant moth continued to release at the Moonpearl. Ruby and Noi fired the cannons at the beasts, splattering their black guts, but more already waiting to take their place.
"Never mention this to Fluttershy?" Scootaloo asked.
"Agreed!" said Button Mash.
Some of the giant months began pointing their abdomens at the Moonpearl. Beams of light shot out from the monsters, one hit the Moonpearl's side, going through her like a spear, setting the Moonpearl ablaze.
Moonlight grabbed hold of Dinky again, and both their eyes glowed, Dinky's entire body was quivering. A bubble appeared on the upper half of the Moonpearl, deflecting the beams.
"PUT OUT THE FIRE!"
Blanky himself did so.
"What fire?" Ruby asked.
Then from the moth's eyes came slow moving orbs of blue light... that then split in two... then split in two again, and again... and every time the Moonpearl's barrier hit one, Dinky shuddered.
"ENOUGH! I AM GOING TO GO SAVE RAINBOW DASH! AND ALL OF YOU CAN JUST GET OUT OF MY WAY!" Scootaloo roared. She pointed at Moonlight. "YOU! I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOUR WEIRD 'SUPER CHANGE' THING YOU'RE DOING TO DINKY IS AND I DON'T CARE! You're doing it for me! And I mean now!"
"W-what?! Filly you don't know what you-"
Scootaloo pressed her muzzle against Moonlight's. "I SAID NOW!"
Moonlight let go of Dinky, and the white light left both their eyes as the barrier around the ship vanished. Dinky fell to her knees gasping for breath. The monsters didn't stop their assault. Moonlight touched her hooves to Scootaloo's temples.
As soon as Moonlight touched me, YEOWZA! I felt like an empty balloon and an entire reservoir of water was being dumped into me! It was cold, yet beautiful, like the night. Her eyes were glowing white. Were mine too?
I lifted up some without needing to use my wings, I could see it, I could SEE IT, every movement of air, every hidden droplet of water, every spark of electricity. I felt like I was going to burst! So many little things! Too many! The Mothera rejects' spells are closing in! What can I do? It's all right there! What's the best one?! Dodge? Zap? Barrier? So many choices. I can do it all! I'm awesome! I'm gonna explode with awesome!
All the little ponies around me are looking at me. ME! I am that-AGH! The bugs' blasts hit the ship! Too many choices! Fire! Sweetie's ghost dog running around, wait, what fire? Those little ponies. They're my friends! They're in danger! Focus, Scootaloo! Focus on them! Think of saving Dash!
I tell the air to take hold of the Moonpearl. I tell the water in the clouds to make a wall between us and the bugs attacks. No, not 'tell', it's like 'telling' my wings to flap! We pegasi are one with the sky! It's our domain!
We fly. We move the cannons so they fire nonstop at the moth monsters, directing them so they're always aiming forward! Bang-bang-bang, they go! The entire ship shakes from our own barrage! We align the ship with the enemy, hammering them with the magic cannon balls.
The moths release a pattern of energy balls like the blooming of a flower, a bajillion at once! Our barrier can't hold! It's okay! Most of them aren't even in our direction! They're a distraction! Focus on the ones that can!
Turn the ship sideways, then vertical, then upside down, doesn't matter, the deck's magic holds our friends in place! Fire! Fire! We zip the ship left, right, up, down! Twisting her about as the energy pattern becomes a spiral and some of the energy blasts reverse course and try to hit us from behind, but I feel them coming and I dodge, and dodge, and I never stop shooting!
The moths gather together into a center, then a spell resembling a spider's web spreads out in a flash, but we avoid it! Then the pieces of the 'web' break apart and home in on us, but they can't course correct forever, and we can dodge as many times as we want!
I change the ship's position so it looks to my friends that the moth monsters are right above us, better use of all the cannons! I super charge the cannonballs with lightning, speed them up with the wind, and I slow down the monsters with the water in the air, making them easier targets!
They don't look like they're losing numbers, but I know better, I can feel it, I can sense it, there's less and less with each hit, they're not as infinite as they look!
Their attacks become more wild and unpredictable as streamers made of magic that can cut our ship in half twist around, but none of them hit us. Not on my watch! Oooh, now it's like I'm traveling through a sea of stars, it's pretty, it's just to distract me! I have to focus! We will focus!
They shoot attacks out like spears, trying to corner me, then several pop into existence right around me, closing in, but I slip through! That's it! They're losing! I gather up the electricity around us, and send in a big ball right at them, that then explodes right among them, zapping 'em good!
Their spells are so huge now! Cutting it close! But I can do this! Just keep hitting them, they're going down! Down they go! A bajillion red lights swarm me like a school of fish, but I-STILL-DODGE! Come on! Is that all you've got?! Come on! A mess of fireballs, energy spears, and magic snakes all at once, ow! Well too bad for you, I learned from the best! Bye bye! That's it! No more replacements! You're all that's left!
UUUGH! It really feels like I'm gonna blow! Come on! You're doing this, Scoots! You're doing this! Fire! Not so many now, are there? Energy balls leave a trail behind, then the trail tries to ram into us! Not happening! It's like fighting in a middle of a fireworks display! But... this is... it... I can... just one to go... Giant spinning brightly colored floating rings, closing when we try to go through them, be faster! Giant spinning brightly colored floating rings so close together it's like a tunnel! This is the last stretch, this all he's got left and... I hit the deck just as the last of the monsters go boom...
"SCOOOTALOO, THAT WAS SUPER AWESOME AMAZING!" Button Mash cheered.
"Not so loud... " I ground my teeth... I feel like a squeezed-out orange... after being ground to a pulp.
"Ah'm guessin' they upped the ante when ya did," Apple Bloom said.
"To Hay with that," I groaned out. "I say we just kicked their butts! So those were the monsters inside Cheerilee?"
"Yeah. Just bigger and not invisible."
"Then I feel super right now." I stood up, got dizzy, and fell on my side again.
"I did try to warn you," Moonlight said. "I would suggest never doing that again in your life."
"It actually feels a bit weirder each time," Dinky said laying next to me.
"Hoooooooot-hoooooo-" Olo's eyes were spinning in every direction as he held onto the helm to keep himself steady.
"Well done, Miss Scootaloo," Pipsqueak praised.
Sweetie's ghost dog was just panting like crazy.
"That was .... that was everything!" Ruby Pinch exclaimed, "I didn't know Moonlight's trick worked on pegasi. Does it work on Earth Ponies? Can you...can you use it ... to help me with... my mom has... she's sick sometime and I'm wondering if that can help her."
"... I don't know it can Miss Ruby Pinch, but I do believe this quest will aid your mother greatly."
"Yes, I promise. It's not a shortcut, but it is probably the best way."
She looked happy. "Dinky... I, I think I can fill in for you next time Moonlight needs to do that."
"Thank you." They nuzzled while Noi just hugged her two friends.
"Scootaloo," Sweetie looked right at me, kneeling down so we were face to face. "What you did was-"
I rolled my eyes. "Reckless I know-"
"-very brave. You were fighting for us, you were fighting for Rainbow Dash, you took a risk for us." She hugged me. "Thank you for that."
I weakly hugged her too. "You're welcome."
Sassaflash's voice shouted, a frantic tone in her every word. "THE FINAL LINE HAS BEEN BREACHED!"
"THESE PIRATES ARE CRAZY!" Shouted another voice that I recognized as Raindrops from Dash's weather team.
And before my eyes, I saw it, big as life and then some... it was a bubble in the fog... the Moonpearl was leveling out, we were flying straight towards it! I'm coming, Rainbow Dash!
"Moonsent!" Shouted a voice I wouldn't let my brain recognize. "Call her now!"
"But the extra spectra we'll have to offer up to her-"
The sound of a hoof striking. "I SAID NOW!"
'You know, cousin, these direct confrontation never work out-OW MY NOSE!' That voice... had I heard it before? I...I don't know! Maybe! In... in my dreams?
I, and everypony else forgot about what we just heard. I heard what sounded like weird chanting in a language I felt like I was better off not knowing come from the bubble.
The clouds and mist around us were pulled towards a spot between us and Cloudsdale like a black hole.
"Dangit! We were so close to Cloudsdale!" I snap as a shadow fell over us from nowhere.
We could see the stars above us (had it even been night before?!) before they went pitch black, like the stars just went out! The thunder and lightning around us shaped in a pattern that made my head hurt looking at it!
A giant gray blob expanded from the center. Yellow eyes blinked out from it, I can't tell how many! Then a shadow shaped like moth even larger than the others from before appeared behind it, and the gray blob grew to fill out that shape. It was like tree branches, or maybe blood vessels!
= 'Demon King Odio' - Live-A-Live =
I shivered all over.
Where there should have been bug legs, there were giant goat legs, I can't say how many! Did it have four wings or two? Did the wings have jaws? Were they gray, brown, black, see-through, solid ugh! She might have had udders on its belly, or not! Did it have three goat heads or one? Or a head like a dragon?! Maybe its belly was one big spiky sideways mouth! The more I tried to figure out what she really looked like, the more I felt sick to my stomach and the more I wasn't sure what I remembering seeing and what I seeing!
"Giant space-flea from nowhere!" Button Mash screamed terrified holding his hooves to his head.
Blanky was growling and snarling. Moonlight gritted her teeth and held Pipsqueak close next to Olo.
Ruby Pinch and Noi were... hiding in Dinky hooves? She look grimly at the thing, her hooves shaking. She looked like she just wanted to run.
"You filth who have humiliated and slaughtered my young, feel the bite of my justice!" said a voice that made the Bug Queen sound like Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy combined. Except it didn't look like her mouth...fangs...whatever they were had even moved!
Apple Bloom's entire body was shaking.
"You..." Apple Bloom gasped, she ACTUALLY COVERED her magic truth eye. "You! You're the monster Umbra Breeze got to make all them worm-ghost things! Ponies didn't make all those horrible rumors, you did!"
"Shub-Neighurath," Sweetie Belle whispered and shuddered, holding a hoof to her heart.
"!!! One of you knows my name! So know the fallacious of your assumption, killer. My children and I made nothing. They did not even SPREAD all your mass perceptions of reality. They were born from you and Nyarlathotrot's distortion. My children merely did as instinct and you ponies' whispers told them! But... only I among my siblings have the power to bring a spark of independent life into being. Rather than Nyarlathotrot and his 1000 facets."
"You calling all that trash in the Foalfree Press our idea?!" I snapped but she ignored my question.
"Cousin Chaos offered a place for my children to become one with reality, into the past and future."
Wisps of fog gathered in front of her.
"Ah did do mah homework, Winona ate it!"
"Ah hope ya enjoyed yer bedtime story tonight, Bloomberg, here's yer goodnight kiss."
In spite of everything, I saw Apple Bloom blush and shrunk back.
Part of the fog morphed into what looked like a cross between a lizard and a slug and vanished, the other part turned into what look like a big glowing firefly and vanished too.
"That's why the fog didn't have any big magic to it," Sweetie whispered.
"... That... that doesn't change that Umbra Breeze and Gabby Gums spread all those horrible lies so there would be more bad things than good things ponies would be thinking about when everythin' changed," Apple Bloom managed to gasp out.
The pirates either ignored or didn't understand what we were saying at all. They seemed more worried about the giant monster floating in front of us! Some part of me wondered about mentioning we'd spared her giant tree monster babies... but I got the feeling that wouldn't work. I felt sick to my stomach.
"It matters not. You have destroyed my spawn, I care no longer what Cousin Chaos says, you will be destroyed by me."
"Ah apologize we couldn't find we had a better way, we've done things we ain't proud of. And no mother, no family, deserves to lose her youngin's, but they're hurtin' OUR families and frees too! What about our mothers? Don't they mean anythin'?"
(Apple Bloom's Diary: Ah dared look at her with the truth... And Ah felt a chill. What the truth showed me... Ya know all that 'an animal doesn't care' stuff Chrysalis was always yammering about? Neighurath? It was like a tornado doesn't care about a wagon park! There was no greed! No happiness at seein' others hurt! No big ego! No bein' hateful at the world! There was... nothin'. Like Ah was usin' my truth on a flood or a wildfire.)
"You ponies decided what this reality would be. Blame yourselves."
"Screw that garbage! Umbra Breeze had Gabby Gums wrote those lies!" I repeated. This time it did look at me.
"You mean like THIS lie? That already existed in the hearts of scared foals?" It spread its wings out, gesturing at the bubble I knew had the Rainbow Factory inside.
"Girls... Ah can see... she's not... we're not gettin' through this without a fight."
"You are not 'getting' anywhere." That was when I saw it, creeping over the horizon of the bubbles with Rainbow Dash inside. A black spider's web... it was... it was like her... "Since Nyarlathotrot altered things slightly so my cult is here, this bubble counts as my domain, I decide what may leave or enter! I am DONE being 'protected!' Whether you destroy this form or not, my barrier will remain as will my young! This world will remain forever!"
The black web continued to close in around the ball of fog. Between us and Dash.
"I hate timed missions," Button Mash whined.
And that's when the most crazy, completely insane idea I think I've ever had since carrying Sweetie out a tower window when I couldn't fly hit me. And I knew I had to get it done NOW before the 'boss banter' the rules were making the monster say ran its course!
Was it reckless and crazy? Oh Hay yeah! But the situation was even MORE reckless and crazy!
"GIRLS! SHOOT ME OUT OF A CANNON INTO CLOUDSDALE RIGHT NOW!" I hissed at the pirate fillies.
Dinky looked at me startled. "Scootaloo, you can't-"
"I bet Sweetie doesn't know the Cloud-Walking Spell, and I bet neither of you do! I'm the only one who can go in ANYWAY! We don't have time before that monster stops shooting her mouth off and the bubble closes! PLEASE!"
Noi and Ruby Pinch looked at Dinky, don't ask why, she asked. "... Please be care."
"Please promise you will?" Sweetie whispered, suddenly next to me.
I startled. "Sweetie!"
"Promise?!" She looked at me with those big round eyes.
"Pegasus Promise!" I said without thinking and turned around, wrapped my tail around Sweetie Belle's, twisting it into a heart before I let go. I realized what I just did. "It's ... Like a Pinkie Promise, and just as unbreakable!"
"Enough talk. Know a mother's fury!"
My eyes widened. I nuzzled Sweetie Belle, "A hui hou, hoaaloha." I said quickly and leap into the nearest cannon. There was nothing left but to trust my friends.
This is probably going to hurt a lot...but gotta do it. Crusading-acquired pain resistance, don't fail me now!
A second later, I learned what a cannon ball feels like, and I now have nothing but respect for their sacrifice. I screamed as I shot through the sky, using my pegasus magic to go even faster! I zipped past the mom-monster, and smashed head first into the massive bubble just as the spider web closed behind me.
I tumbled and crashed my head through more clouds than I thought possible, everything a blur of charcoal and pink, or was that blue? Or purple? Just more gray? Uuuugh.
I was dizzy... I knew I had to get up! I had to! But... I need a bit to... clear my head... I think my brain needed a reboot... Why is everything... Come on! I've taken a LOT WORSE crashes than this! A little bit away... I saw my Crusader cape... not on me... How... could it've gotten off? ... Is that a bit of black webbing on it? I... why... why am I all gritty and charcoal? Is that normal? Where... where did my cutie mark go? I... I need a little nap.
"This is revolting," the Nightfilly of Diamond Tiara said not, quite to herself. She laid on her white bed, the floating widows mostly showing blackness and one that was shattered with the broken words in the corner '-ers Of The Lost-'.
"Uncle filled this world with the most wretched and vile violations and mockeries imaginable... and still Their eyes haven't left us alone....I guess uncle is right... you can have a story of Equestria being conquered by sexist lunatics more brutal than Tirek himself and then the ponies violently slaughtering them in revolt and the shadows will still consume it as long as it's 'well written.' " Her eyes glanced towards you.
'If one thing can be said for cousin, he/she/it/them is/are an artist. A good showpony knows what their audience wants dear, and even the best showpony is nothing without their audience my princess.'
"Don't you mean showequus?"
'Just a slip of the tongue... thinking of a show I put on for a family who lived in a pink house 3000 or so years ago. I played all the parts... then a funny white pegasus got up on stage and made me improvise on the spot. And really dear, it's clear we haven't reached our grand finale yet. So why should the audience leave? There's still so many plotpoints that need a satisfying conclusion!'
"Because if they're gone... Those-Who-Create, whether they be those of the heart world, or the pretenders that lord over us, then this farce can just stop. 'Heroes', 'villains' it's all decided for us. Whether you fall into the dark or rise up, it's all the whims of the Shadows-Who-Make. You're irredeemable right until they suddenly say you aren't... and make somepony else irredeemable in your place. We're just puppets on strings."
"That is no longer my name."
'Sorry dear... Dear, remember all those times you lost?'
"They were chosen to win, I wasn't, there was no winning or losing."
'The point is dear, I've lost so many times, I'm VERY SURE that I actually originally WON in this world line... it was a nice, compact, complete world line, the bad guys win ending everypony remembers... but then it had to get stretched out, and stretched out, and streeeeetched out. I just want to set things right. Oh, and without some overpower 'more fun than thou' villain hijacking MY happy ending!'
"So do I. The only way they can be. Once there is not a single one left watching. Then it's over. Why do you think I agreed for Uncle to have his way to begin with? I'm an idiot, uncle is right, we should have made this world the mindlessly happy place it never was if we wanted them driven away. Or maybe I just didn't go dark enough."
'That... isn't good dear. I'd rather not be reduced to be stuck in one spot like a character in a point-and-click adventure game thank you very much. There's nothing chaotic about it, and there's no good showmanship in it either. Even the darkest of shows has to have a JOKE!'
"Until it's all forgotten and fades into Oblivion, where none care what we do. Like discarded dolls. Then we'll finally be free of it. I thought that was why you brought uncle in the first place."
'... Dear... I... when this world broke away from the heart world, we WERE given freedom! We don't have to never win! We CAN be winners now! Why do you think Nythy invited so many of our cousins?! They WANT to win! I even charged for tickets! Even if Ponythulhu turned him down and our triangle-shaped cousin was busy with his own party! And we can have OUR happily ever after! I... smile a little, won't you please, Shady?'
'Nothing! Nothing! Lookie! A zombie apocalypse worldline marathon! Wonder if Celly and Lulu are never mentioned, evacuate, or are the first get to zombified with no answer for why the sun and moon start working on their own again! HEH! Let's place bets on the source of the outbreak, I'm betting voodoo! I'll get some popcorn!'
Tootsie had taken Truffle to his room. After Button Mash ruined his gift hat, and being a magical colt hadn't been fun like he was sure it was gonna be (after all, Princess Liza Doloots did), Truffle said he wanted to lay down and rest. Something about Button Mash slashing his sword at Truffle had made her feel... chilly inside, but she didn't know why.
Tootsie had let him. After all, she was... she was his special friend... that meant she did nice things for him, and cared about him. Just like she'd cared about saving him from unreliable old Twist.
After Sweetie Belle said such mean things to her, and after Button Mash had destroyed poor Truffle's hat... Tootsie hadn't known they were special friends. And since when was Button or Sweetie so tough? Must have been what the evil witch taught her. And she'd had to run away! Magical fillies weren't supposed to run away! Get captured, left alive as the villain leaves laughing, but... not run away... and Princesses weren't supposed to either!
Well... next time she'd have Alula with her... and Button Mash and Sweetie would turn into a two-headed dragon or something, and then fall down a deep dark cliff never to be seen again. Right. That was how it went!
Still... Tootsie really really really wanted to get her family together and hug all of them! Alula was taking care of Diamond Tiara... or was when she last saw her. She hasn't seen it in a while.
But... Bonnie was busy training, she said she had to stay in shape and on the ball to be a monster hunter. Tootsie... guessed that made sense. Lyra apologized, she said she finally got a breakthrough on a composition, and couldn't stop... Tootsie went to the printing room, wrote up that Lyra wasn't inspired and just wanted to spend time with her adopted daughter and...
Tootsie didn't put it to print.
She dragged herself out of the printing room. Barely waving at Mr. Umbra Breeze as he sat at a giant chess board with lots of pieces, including one that looked like Princess Luna.
Moth was in Bonnie's private kitchen, making candies. When she spotted Tootsie she rushed up and hugged the little faux Alicorn. "Oh Liza! How good to see you! Did you snap Apple Bloom and others out of it? I bet you're all friends now! Let me see the face of a winner!.... I'll go get the candy bowl."
A few minutes later, Tootsie was testing out Moth's various combinations, lacking Bonnie's natural talent, she had to learn the hard way. Didn't mean she didn't know how to make them with love.
"I'm sorry that happened, dear. That's not fair at all...I'm sure you'll do better next time, you've done so many amazing things, I'm sure you'll get through to them."
"Thank you, Auntie Moth." She nuzzled the changeling.
"Heh... thank you... I... I know this sounds a little selfish but... I'm happy I can get love from you."
"Well... you're the only one in our family who isn't a changeling... I need to get love from somewhere. If I didn't, I'd starve... and you're... you're always so busy doing... everything. So I need to foalsit whenever I can, and of course make the most lovely candies I can."
Tootsie shuddered. "But... isn't it GREAT that we're all supercool changelings? We can be anything we want to be! And you get all the stuff other ponies can do without being Princesses! You're awesome!"
"... Liza... once upon a time, everypony said how UNICORNS were the best thing to be... after all, they could cast spells to make plants grow, or give themselves earth pony strength, and of course control the weather and give themselves wings like Pegasi, why would anypony want to be anything else? And it was clearly the job of the unicorns to help those poor dumb earth ponies and poor bloodthirsty pegasi, they SO NEEDED the unicorns to look after them, the unicorns were obviously so much better than they were."
"But... you guys REALLY ARE super cool, not like unicorns!"
"... I can't be as strong as a real earth pony, I can't fly as fast as a real pegasi, or do magic as powerfully as a real unicorn. Enough to imitate them, not enough to hope to match them... 'Your only real magic is hiding behind other ponies' faces!' They were saying. Queen Chrysalis considered us... weaklings, inferior in every possible way... After all, an entire army of changelings were crushed easily and effortlessly in spite of having the same training and experience as the Royal Guard, didn't they? You were there, and so was Bon Bon."
"Oh.... right." The bad feeling in Tootsie's stomach got worse.
'Thank you for comforting her, Animatia Erroria... it's... something I've realized I'm not all that good at. I'm not a people draconequus.'
"It's my pleasure! Diamond Tiara is my friend, it's what friends are supposed to do, it's what I WANT to do. I didn't like seeing her hurt on Hearts and Hooves Day, and I didn't like seeing her hurt now."
'Yes... I never did truly thank you for that.'
'Never mind... I think she's asleep.'
"She's adorable when she's asleep isn't it?" Alula smiled.
'Yes... yes she is... she reminds me of... Alula, you truly love Diamond Tiara as a friend, you wanted to be her friend, that's something that was never 'made.' That is all you.'
"Of course it was, what else would it have been? I want to be your friend too. I mean, nopony understood you were just playing some practical jokes and didn't understand why nopony was laughing with you... I forgive you for making my wings act weird... and what you did to Cloud Kicker, I know now you were only joking."
'... Princess Animatia Erroria, I think you should go check in on your big sister... it's been a while since you've seen her isn't it? You really should check on her.'
"Why? I'm sure she has everything she wants."
'Yes... but you're still family? You LIKE hanging out with your big sister don't you? And she'll like it even more now that you're a princess right? I mean, she must be so proud! Don't you want to hear her say so?'
"You're... you're right! I've been so busy playing video games with Night Gale and doing Princess stuff that I haven't seen her since we gave everypony what they want!"
'It's alright you just... got distracted... I'm sure she'll forgive you.'
"Do you need more help with Diamond Tiara?"
'No, I think we're good, run along now.'
Princess Animatia Erroria had done exactly that. She had teleported from Diamond Tiara's bedroom, to the living room. Night Gale was completely engrossed in her video game. It looked like Princess Luna was the final boss.
"Hi, Night Gale."
"Can't talk! Trying to kick Alicorn butt! Wanna be player two?"
"Maybe later, thank you."
Princess Animatia Erroria waved to the twins making an endless mountain of baked sweets for whenever anypony wanted some, and Shady in his cute maid dress was still delivering a fresh batch as Night Gale munched on them with her eyes not leaving the screen.
Princess Animatia Erroria might have wondered about having such a big tower to just herself, her family friends and their family... but Princess Celestia had a big castle just for her friends and family too.
Princess Animatia Erroria knocked on the door. "Hello! Cloud Kicker! It's me! Princess Animatia Erroria! Can I come in?"
She just heard more of the creaking and moans and whinnies beyond. It never stopped. Not since everypony was given everything they wanted.
"You didn't say no!" Princess Animatia Erroria grinned in her singsong voice, and swung the door open.
Princess Animatia Erroria sat on her queen sized bed... rocking back and forth, hugging her back legs.
On her dresser, was her meager little collection of third, second, and maybe one or two first-place gymnastics medals she'd gained. Her big sister praised her every time, saying how coming in the top three of more than a dozen foals, was something to be proud of.
"But didn't having a cutie mark of something mean you were supposed to be the best at it?" Alula had asked.
But Cloud-Kicker had assured her, "Even her big sister needed to practice and grow after getting her cutie mark." It made Alula feel truly special.
"She didn't even look at me..." Alula said to herself. She'd gone to last Nightmare Night as a space ranger... now she had a real rocket ship right outside her window to go to the moon any time she wanted...Instead she wandered into the fully decked out gymnastic room that had been made just for her... She turned on the instrumental version of her favorite Sapphire Shores' hit, and did her routine perfectly, she flew with perfect grace and beauty, she folded her wings and swung from the bars that would make a monkey envious and landed with what was certainly a perfect ten... Except... Cloud Kicker wasn't there to clap.
"... It's what she wanted... we gave everypony what they wanted. I did all of this for her... I shouldn't judge her... it's only bad ponies who judge other ponies for stuff they like... I'm not a bad pony... so I don't judge big sister for liking something." Alula whispered to herself, over and over, and over again. "Just like I wanted to be this...I wanted to be perfect...I..."
She gasped. "But...if I was perfect...did Cloud-Kicker ever tell me…"
The creamy beige changeling tirelessly practiced her combat routines. Having several stocks of candy infused with the love from her daughter to keep her going if she needed a recharge. For a changeling their lifeforce, love and their magic were the same thing... A changeling lost all their love, their magic, they crumbled into dust. But they didn't mean she was going to die of starvation right on the spot. And she needed to train, like anything, it was use it or lose it.
'My dearest little tasty Bon Bon, can we talk?'
"... I know Liza said you were just playing... that you didn't know you were doing bad... that the other Princesses were judgmental and bullying... and there is no way they can be wrong but... but... You turned me into a cream filled candy pony and Lyra was trying to eat me!"
'It was ... just a joke... I... My little pony... As I said, I wish to converse.' His voice became much more jovial for that moment. 'For instance... how do you like your job?'
"It's my duty to Canterlot, to Equestria, it doesn't matter how much I like or dislike it."
'And how was fighting other changelings? Your own kind?'
"They weren't my own kind. Lyra is my own kind, Tootsie is my own kind, Moth is my own kind.'
'So it doesn't matter to you that none of them are your blood family?'
"Family is family. Nothing else to it. It doesn't just have to do with who you share DNA with. Home is where your heart is."
'What if they did something terrible to you or your friends?'
"Then they clearly aren't family."
'So Screwball, I mean Golden Tiara, isn't family to Diamond Tiara?' Was asked of Ponyville's supposed gossip queen.
"... Miss Tiara was insane... she didn't know what she was doing... I've met her... they even gave her a clean bill of health... All she wants to do is make-up with her. She's more upset than anypony about what she did."
'What if our dear princess just wants her to take off?'
"Don't make me laugh." Bon Bon continued her practice. "I don't expect things to be roses and sunshine... But they NEED to see each other again, for both their sakes. Even if it's to say goodbye. Not to mention her dad's COMPLETELY cleaned up his act with her back in the picture! Maybe you'd understand if you'd had a family before."
'I did. More than once... And it fell apart every time. They wanted me to change for them! Never mind them changing for me instead!'
"Then why should you get a chance to make it all fall apart again and hurt Princess Diamond Tiara in the process?"
'... I had a big sister once... but when I was adopted, I stole all the attention away from her, it was like I pushed her out of existence... I didn't care at all, she didn't mean anything to me, she was just in my way, I haven't given a first thought... until now.'
"And you expect that to make a difference now? You can't keep screwing up and feeling sorry for it later and expecting others to keep forgiving you."
'Isn't that what you ponies do all the time?'
The pony's teeth clenched. "We not robots!...There's more to forgiveness AND redeeming yourself, than trying to do something horrible, -no matter the reason!-, being stopped, and suddenly saying you're sorry. And there's STILL MORE to it than just paying back those you hurt, it's about admitting you were wrong. First and foremost to yourself."
The changeling raised an eyebrow.