The twins continued to laugh, powerful magic aura’s combining into one as they floated higher into the sky.
“W-what did they do?” asked Applejack.
“They… they stole Discord’s magic,” Twilight replied slowly.
“Hold on!” Rainbow said. “Wasn’t the whole deal with Tirek that he couldn’t take the magic of creatures stronger than him? He wasn’t able to steal Discord’s magic until he had drained over half the ponies of Equestria. How could those two little squirts have stolen his magic with just that tiny little sliver he gave them?”
“Discord’s power isn’t like Tirek’s. Tirek could steal magic, but Discord could alter it. The same way that he took away our horns and wings when we first fought him the twins took away the source of his magic.”
“Again, Discord is way more powerful than them, so how-”
“Regardless of how, it happened!” she replied firmly. “Discord’s magic is specifically designed to cause chaos, and magic theft definitely fits the bill, no matter how little of his magic they had. They put Discord to sleep before they attempted it, so he couldn’t exactly fight back.”
“So now what?” asked Fluttershy, watching the twins holding hooves and spinning in a circle.
Twilight turned to the others. “We have no choice. If the twins have become corrupted with power we only have one option: we’ll knock Discord’s magic out of them with a shot of Rainbow Power.”
“WHAT!” Pinkie yelled. “What are you saying, Twilight?” She shook her friend, tears streaming down her eyes. “Do you want to kill them?”
“Kill them?” Cup Cake said in shock.
“Of course not!” Twilight replied, shaking her head. “Get a hold of yourself, Pinkie. Rainbow Power, just like the Elements of Harmony, isn’t an offensive power. It’s a purifying magic that removes the darkness in one’s heart and purges evil magic out of their system. Princess Luna and Sunset Shimmer were just fine after they were hit with it. Even Tirek only lost the magic he had stolen and became smaller again.”
“All of them were adults, with sturdy bodies. The twins aren’t even seven yet. What if their bodies can’t handle it?”
“This is for their own protection, Pinkie. The Elements and Rainbow Power are about the power of harmony and unison. It will follow our will. The twins won’t be harmed if you don’t want them to be."
Pinkie’s face was scrunched up. “No! I won’t do it! The twins aren’t evil! They’re not! I won’t fight them. They’re like my own kids. How are they going to feel knowing I attacked them?”
Pound let out a cry before slipping down and out of Pumpkin’s hooves. Pumpkin summoned a soft pillow for him to land on and he landed unharmed.
“Are you alright, Pound?” Pumpkin asked with concern.
He panted a little, grabbing his stomach. “F-fine,” he muttered. “It’s just like the first time we got the magic. Our body needs some time to adjust.”
Almost as soon as he mentioned it Pumpkin felt an all-consuming pain that drove her to her knees, her stomach burning.
You are aware of Tirek, are you not?
The voice from earlier rang through their ears.
“Y-yes,” Pumpkin stuttered out.
When he would drain a pony he would grow. That was both a symbol of his growing power, as well as a mechanism to stop his body from breaking under the strain of trying to contain all the magic he was absorbing.
“A-and what does that have to do with anything?” Pound asked.
Your bodies are far too small to be able to absorb all of Discord’s magic. You must have your body grow to an appropriate size so that the great magic you took in has room to circulate.
“Pinkie, look at them!” Twilight said desperately. “They’re hurting. If you truly-”
Before she could finish Pound and Pumpkin’s bodies both began to grow at a rapid rate until they towered over Fluttershy’s cottage, halfway up to the clouds.
The pain grew considerably more bearable. They both let out sighs of relief.
“Oh… oh my!” Fluttershy gulped as she looked up at the now giant children.
“Hey, what’s that?” asked Applejack, pointing with her hoof.
“What’s what, darling?” said Rarity, unable to take her eyes off how tall the twins were.
“Look! There! At their hooves.”
Pinkie looked, her head tilting. “What is that?” she muttered.
When Twilight looked she gasped, her stomach clenching. “Oh, no! This is bad!”
“Wait, wait!” Carrot said anxiously. “What’s bad?”
“Their hooves have turned plaid, just like Discord’s magic.”
“And?” Pinkie asked urgently.
“I don’t quite know what it means, but their tiny bodies just absorbed a ton of magic. Their bodies might not be able to contain it all.”
“Maybe they’re just doing it to show off their victory?” Rarity suggested.
Twilight wasn’t sure she bought that. She still had a nagging feeling deep inside that something bad was going to happen. She continued staring at their plaid hooves. She wasn’t sure if she was imagining it or not, but it appeared to be ever so slowly rising up.
She turned to Pinkie. “We should try and talk them down, if you’re not willing to use Rainbow Power.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Applejack said, getting in between them. “There’s no way that’s gonna work.”
“Why not?” asked Cup Cake.
“Those little tykes deliberately took Discord’s magic fer more power. Ya think they’re gonna give it up simply because ya order them to? If it was that simple they wouldn’t have done it in the first place.”
“So then what do you suggest?” asked Fluttershy.
“We humor them until they get tired and fall asleep.”
“Encourage them?” Twilight asked in mild disgust. “Reward their bad behavior?”
Pinkie, Cup Cake, and Carrot Cake seemed to be in agreement with Twilight.
“Ya got any better ideas?” Applejack responded. “When we first fought Discord he was only toying around with us. We only beat him because he was so overpowered he had a good reason to be overconfident. If Pound and Pumpkin have that same kind of power then we can’t beat them with raw force or magic. If they get suspicious they might take away our wings and horns just like Discord did.
“Yer the bookworm, Twi. We need to outsmart them. They may have power but they don’t have the intelligence to go with it. They’re still just kids, after all.”
Twilight nodded after a few seconds. “I guess you’re right.”
The twins had altered their bodies to look like monsters, roaring and stomping on buildings they were creating.
“Hey, guys!” Twilight called out to them.
Pound stopped his hoof, looking down at her like she was beneath him. “Yes?” he said in an innocent voice. “Do you have a problem?”
“You guys have gotten pretty big. Literally.” She gave a little laugh.
The twins looked at her suspiciously. “Is that a fact?” Pumpkin asked.
“So what are you going to do now that you’re so strong?”
“Anything we want.” Pound began to flex.
“Exactly!” Pumpkin stomped a hoof, causing the ground to shake. “We’re tired of being little kids. Now we have the power to change the world!” She waved a hoof, and rainbow colored flowers bloomed before their eyes.
Despite herself, Fluttershy couldn’t help but smile. They were so beautiful.
“And… what do you want to do with that power?” asked Twilight.
“We’ll be the new heroes of Ponyville! Soon everyone will know our names.”
“Yeah, Twilight. You just sit back, and we’ll take care of everything. Any trouble or danger that comes to Ponyville we’ll just beat it up.”
“Is that all you really want?” asked Fluttershy. “To use your power for good?”
Pound nodded. “That… and a little bit of fun.” With a snap of his tail everyone else but Pumpkin grew long mustaches and beards.
The twin’s laughs boomed over them.
“That’s great!” Pumpkin slapped hooves with Pound.
Rainbow Dash laughed at how ridiculous they all looked. “Come on, guys,” she said, playfully rolling her eyes.
“Alright, alright,” Pound said with a wink before turning them back to normal.
“That’s pretty impressive. Why don’t you show us some more of your talents?” said Cup Cake, seeing that Applejack’s plan was working.
Pound and Pumpkin beamed. “Well, if you insist!” Pumpkin said eagerly. They began to show off much as they did before, doing the wackiest things they could think of.
Even though the others knew they were only supposed to be feigning enjoyment they slowly lost themselves in the twin’s antics.
They became so lost in the fun that it took a while for them to notice. Twilight was the first one to notice it. Her blood turned cold, and all of her anxiety returned.
“G-guys, look!” Twilight said apprehensively.
“L-look at what?” Applejack replied with a laugh as she observed a tree brought to life juggling .
“What about-” Applejack gasped as she noticed. The plaid pattern had completely covered up the twins legs and was starting to rise up their body.
“It’s the magic! It has to be. We don’t have time to play around anymore.” Her head turned to her friend. “Pinkie, please! We can’t let this go on!”
Pinkie’s stomach clenched. “No, Twilight! I-I can’t. There has to be another way.”
Twilight let out a soft growl. That kind of power could only be used willingly. She was going to have to speed things along.
Going up to the twins she said, “Hey!”
“What is it?” asked Pound, all smiles.
“Discord is going to be okay, right?”
He rolled his eyes. “Of course.” With a snap of his tail Discord’s head molded back to his body. “We left him with the same sliver of magic he gave to us. It only felt fair. After all, if we took all of his magic he’d die without a head, obviously.”
Discord’s eyes fluttered open. He felt weak. He hadn’t felt like this since Tirek had attacked him long ago. He saw the twins towering above him.
“Aww, wook at da widdle Discord,” Pumpkin said in a baby voice. With a snap of her mane he appeared in a bib and diaper. “Not so amazing without all your magic, are you?”
“It was you?” he cried out, growing angry.
“Your powers went to the better ponies,” Pound said as he stretched. “We left you just a teeny-tiny bit. Now you know he we felt.” An edge came to the colt’s voice.
“Hmph.” Discord snapped his claw, and the bib and diaper disappeared. “Give it back now!”
“I don’t think so,” Pound replied, a strange echo in his voice.
“I’m through with you, Discord.” The distortion was even clearer when Pumpkin spoke, as the echoing voice was male.
Putting their hooves together there was a distortion of space, and once more Pound and Pumpkin were fused together into one pony. The twin’s eyes looked a little glazed over. “You’ve grown very boring lately, and I’m tired of it.”
Carrot looked strangely at his kids. “That… isn’t really them, is it?”
“It… doesn’t sound like it,” Cup Cake responded.
“Discord, what’s going on?” Twilight asked.
“Twilight, Twilight, Twilight,” the voice said, forcibly turning her head toward Poundkin. “Don’t you know it’s rude to interrupt? You could have just asked me.”
Twilight couldn’t fight the magic holding her head in place, so she turned her body to face him. “Fine, then. What are you?”
“I’m Discord’s magic.” A plaid flash came to their eyes, Poundkin now floating gently up and down. “I don’t have a name, for I have no need of one.
“For the longest time we were partners, engaging in chaos and anarchy. But ever since he met you guys he’s changed. We don’t get to embrace the chaotic philosophy as we did in the old days. It’s most unsatisfactory. But when a piece of me got a new host, namely these two little darlings, life felt renewed again. They’re suitable hosts that will breathe fresh air into the dull, ordinary days you’ve gotten used to.”
Rarity’s eyebrow went up. “Hold on. This is a joke, right? Magic is magic. It doesn’t have a consciousness.”
Poundkin’s horns glowed, and a magical screen came up, revealing Luna’s creation. “Look familiar?”
“The Tantabus!” Twilight exclaimed.
“That was the thing Luna created ta give herself nightmares,” Applejack said.
“And then it grew too strong and escaped her control, forcing us to work together to stop it.”
Discord walked forward toward the twins. “Look, I-” There was a flash, and Discord went flying backward, leaving a hole in the cottage. Fluttershy gasped, going to check on him.
“I’m not interested in your excuses. Chaos shall reign in Equestria just like before. That is final.” Their body glowed, their hooves going outward as Ponyville returned to the chaotic state if had been in when they had first confronted Discord.
“Power!” Poundkin lifted a hoof, their two faces wearing an unnatural smile. “Marvelous. I have my own body now. I don’t have to wait for my ‘master’ anymore.”
Pinkie growled softly, her eyes narrowing. “What do you mean ‘your own body?’ You STOLE it from them!”
He looked dismissively down at her. “And? If they hadn’t been greedy and ungrateful then I wouldn’t have been able to do this. Kids are so impressionable, aren’t they? But I don’t intend to keep control of them indefinitely. I’m interested to see what other things they’ll do with this power. And not just them. I’ll give everyone in Equestria a share.”
“What? Why?” asked Rainbow Dash.
He giggled. “Isn’t it obvious? Chaos is a beautiful thing. Differences between other ponies are mostly held in check by power, or the lack thereof. But what if everyone had the power to alter reality? With that kind of power, with everyone being on the same level, they’ll eventually succumb to the urge to overpower others for their own gain. Ponies might travel through time, or cause earthquakes. The entire world will rip itself apart in destruction, and a little piece of me will be in every pony, watching it all.” His booming laugh echoed over the land. “Won’t it be spectacular?” Sadistic glee rendered Pound and Pumpkin almost unrecognizable.
Discord walked up to them. “Please stop this! You can’t do that!”
“Sure I can!” The twins eyes flashed, and Twilight reflexively cast a shield spell. She felt an impact hit it, but didn’t see the actual attack.
He began to laugh again. “Nice work.” Rainbow Dash flew up near Poundkin’s face. “What’s this? Do you want to fight?”
“Heck no!" said Rainbow, "If you’re giving out free power then I’m in!”
“Rainbow Dash!” Rarity cried out in shock. “How could you?”
Rainbow shrugged with a click of her tongue. “What? Forget you guys. If the world’s gonna be changing I’d rather join the winning side.”
Horror and disgust crossed all their faces, but Twilight was looking thoughtful.
“So let’s go!” Rainbow said excitedly. “Hand it over! I saw how the twins got faster with that power. I could pull off a SUPER sonic rainboom with that kind of power.”
“Well, that was fast,” he said. “Abandoning your friends like that. Sure.” Their hooves raised, and a ball of energy appeared.
It shot toward Rainbow Dash, who flew in place, anxiously waiting for it. When it touched her she howled in pain as an electric shock jolted her, sending her plummeting to the ground, just barely being saved by Twilight.
“Rainbow!” Fluttershy called out, flying over towards her. “Are you alright?”
Rainbow groaned, rubbing her stomach as she sat up. “W-well, that didn’t work. It was worth a shot.”
“Oh, come on!” he said derisively. “Did you really think that I’d buy that you’d just throw your friends away for a little power? You were just hoping to level the playing field a bit.”
Twilight turned to Pinkie. “Come on! Still not yet? We need you!”
Pinkie just shook her head rapidly, her eyes closed in despair at the thought of having to fight the twins.
Poundkin bowed down until his head was near hers, letting out a big breath that sent them flying. Twilight threw up force fields for all of them to help them land safely. “I’m getting bored. I let you keep your horn just because you wouldn’t be a challenge without magic, but I’m still not satisfied. I need more chaos! More destruction! You six are the only things in the way of my plan, so let’s take care of that, shall we?”
With a flash all of them turned into earth ponies, forced into a tiny circle. He raised his hoof, and much like before the sky grew dark with clouds. Lightning bolts shot out of the clouds, not fading away, effectively creating a cage. The lightning rotated in a circle, slowly closing in on them.
“Soon! Very soon! I will have true freedom! I won’t be left behind again! I won’t be forgotten. Everyone will know me, and everyone will fear me, as they did before.”
Twilight turned to Discord, whispering, “You still have a tiny sliver of magic left, right? Can you get us out of here?”
He concentrated, then shook his head. “I can barely feel my magic. The best I could do is possibly stall for a little time.”
Once more she rounded on Pinkie. “Come on, Pinkie! Equestria is at stake here! Your life is at stake. OUR lives are at stake. Are you just going to sit there and do nothing and let us all die? Let the twins be corrupted by that force enslaving their bodies? We NEED your cooperation.”
“Pinkie, I understand how you feel, but we have to do something,” Fluttershy said as she looked around at the shrinking cage.
“Pinkie, please!” Mrs. Cake said, tears in her eyes. “Help to protect our children.”
Pinkie felt her heart breaking as all of them encouraged her to do the one thing she didn’t think she could ever do. Was that really the only way to proceed? To attack her niece and nephew? The lightning around them was still approaching at a steady pace. She could see Discord straining to hold it at bay, but he would give out sooner or later.
She had to make a choice. Would the twins be able to withstand a shot of Rainbow Power? She just didn’t know. If she refused to take the chance then all of them would die. Was the only option open to her to attack the ones she had sworn to keep safe, those that she would easily give up her life to protect?
No… maybe there was another option. It was a slim hope, but it was better than nothing. “Pound… Pumpkin!” she called out to them in a tender voice, ignoring the cruel gaze smirking down at her. “Do you remember when you ran away from home? After we finally got you back I made a promise to you. I… I told you that I would love you forever, no matter what happened. I Pinkie Promised that even if you turned evil that I would still love you, and I would do what I could to bring you back to the side of good. I’ll never give up on you, no matter what happens, because I know you’re still in there.”
He rolled his eyes , chuckling under his breath.
Her eyes narrowed a bit. “I believe in you! I always have! You have the chance to be heroes for real! Not just pretend. Your true strength isn’t in magic and power. It’s the strength of your hearts that’s important. Pound, you especially have always been protective of those you love. Are you going to give all that up? Abandon it? Are you going to kill me? Kill your parents? Is that the kind of thing you want to do with your power? I know you can hear me, so WAKE UP!”
Everyone was getting antsy. They were quickly running out of room. Seeing no other course of action they began to chant their own support and belief.
“It’s useless, you fools!” he yelled out. “They’re gone until I release them from my command.”
The lightning suddenly stopped, inches from them.
Pinkie looked around, slightly dazed, and then she grinned. “You were saying?”
He laughed in her face. “It would be terribly unsatisfying to just kill you. I wanted to crush your spirits entirely by giving you some hope of success. Now I think it’s time we bring this charade to a close. It may be boring to repeat a trick, but it’s such a delicious way of ending you that I can overlook it.” His hooves rose, and clouds grew in size, the section right above them growing a bright gold. “Then again, it’s still a little different because there’s no tornado. Bye-bye!”
With a loud bang lightning erupted downward, engulfing everything inside it. “Game over,” he said contentedly.
As the smoke cleared he gasped. They were all covered by a shield and were unharmed. “How?” he mumbled to himself. “They have no magic.” He felt a pull, and suddenly he found himself growing smaller.
Pinkie’s head shot up as she heard the familiar voice. “Pound,” she cried out, tears coming down her eyes as she saw his had returned to normal.
“A-Auntie Pinkie?” He looked down at her, ashamed. He waved his hoof, and the lightning and clouds disappeared. “I-I’m so sorry.”
“Me too!” said Pumpkin, the two of them crying as their bodies separated.
Pinkie went to run over to them, but the twins fell to their knees, rocking the ground. She could see them struggling. “Come on, you guys. Fight it! Fight him!”
The two of them were panting for breath as they felt Discord’s magic vying for control again. “I… I don’t think I can,” said Pumpkin, one of her eyes plaid again.
“You can!” Twilight said fervently. “You did it once before! You protected all of us! You can do it again! Believe in yourself, as we believe in you.”
Once more all of them threw in their encouragement.
The words meant a lot to the foals, but they could feel it. They were only prolonging the inevitable. It was too strong. It was taking everything they had to keep it from taking control of their bodies again. Once they let up just a little it would take over them again.
Pound and Pumpkin looked at each other, scared. Inside them was a force that wanted nothing more than the destruction of all they loved and to turn the world into the opposite of everything their family and friends stood for. They were as bad a threat right now as Nightmare Moon or Tirek. They had unleashed it by being bad and greedy.
The two of them held onto each other, more afraid than they had ever been. There was only one way to protect the ones they loved now. The threat was inside of them. While they still had some control there was one last thing they could do.
Looking tearfully down at everyone Pound said, “G-g-goodbye, Auntie Pinkie.”
“T-thank you for b-believing in us,” said Pumpkin.
“H-huh?” Pinkie’s heart began racing as she saw how bad they were trembling. “W-what are you going to do?”
The two wrapped their hooves around each other, and with a pop they returned to their normal size. Pain assaulted them, forcing them down onto their sides as Pinkie watched in horror.