"ʻanoʻi Ceestia," Scootaloo said.
"Not even close, sorry, darlin'," Nightmare Mirror said.
Sweetie Belle took a trot back from the Nightmare, her dark magic slowly charging (there was a lot more in the air than normal). Button stayed close to her.
Apple Bloom just shuddered and pressed herself into Nightmare Mirror's embrace. The burning inside and out had faded, but wasn't forgotten. Slowly, carefully, and somewhat reluctantly, Nightmare Mirror gave Apple Bloom to Applejack's embrace. Apple Bloom barely noticed the exchange, she just pressed herself into her sister's side.
Applejack eyed her Nightmare self carefully. All eyes slowly drifted to the Nightmare's color-inverted cutie mark.
"Ah... Ya just stopped somethin' awful from happenin' to my baby sister... so Ah know ya ain't all bad... but what are ya doin' here, Nightmare Mirror?"
'Only name Ah've got a right to here.' "Stoppin' Apple Bloom from making a mistake Ah helped her make." She sighed.
"But, me an' Orangejack beat ya!"
Mirror resisted facing hooving. "Not this again. Ah wasn't THAT Nightmare Mirror, Ah'm a purer breed," she explained with no pride in her voice.
"Ya do look more together than the last one Ah tangled with."
The foals concluded 'rumors curse' based on what they were hearing. "Ah know Nightmares, and Ah know worlds, no way ya just came here out of the blue... What's yer stake in this?"
"Ah meant besides that. And if yer here, Ah can put two and two together... YOU infected Apple Bloom with the truth, didn't ya?!" Applejack asked with venom in her voice.
"That's only the tip of the iceberg. If ya knew the whole story about me, ya'd hate me too much to accept my help, and ya can't afford that, them's the truth. And yah know me well enough tah know Ah mean that when Ah say it. If Ah hadn't given Apple Bloom the Truth, she'd be monster food or a monster herself by now."
"Ya think Ah can't tell when Ah'm not givin' the whole truth?" Applejack hissed.
"Ah gave'er the Truth to help her cause she'd NEED it... but Ah also gave to 'er, cause Ah knew givin' Truth to a little filly in a place like the world's become was a straight road to becomin' my replacement. And Ah told 'er that point blank when Ah gave it to her!"
Applejack would have kicked Mirror in the face. But she was holding Apple Bloom, and she was so drunk she'd likely hit herself first. Her brain was on fire just trying to keep focused. If there was one thing she could thank Chrysalis for, it was building up her endurance to this kinda thing.
"But then Apple Bloom got her friends along with her, friendship always did have a way of holdin' back the Nightmares... Ah figured that scheme was kaput... turns out Ah was dead wrong. And it finally hit me what Ah was REALLY doin'."
"Y'know, Ah've never seen a Nightmare have a change of heart."
"Ah'm only a Nightmare on the outside."
"... Ya ain't lyin', which makes what you did to Apple Bloom worse!"
"Ah told ya! She needed the help! And...Yer right, Ah'm sorry."
"Applejack!" Granny Smith called from the kitchen. "If yer gonna talk ta yerself, quiet down!"
The Nightmare and pony looked at each other. Practically against their wills, both broke into a slight giggle.
"... An Apple accepts a sincere apology... and Ah know that there's no way ya ain't sincere... and Ah'm an Apple to the core."
Nightmare Mirror bowed. "Thank ya kindly."
"Also... if yer Applejack on the inside, then dagnabbit, start ACTING like it! Is this scheme REALLY what ya would've done with yer Apple Bloom?!"
"Ah don't deserve to call mahself Apple-"
"Golden Tiara don't think she deserves her name, but is she still actin' like Screwball?"
"... No, she ain't."
"Applejack..." Apple Bloom whispered, barely opening one eye, hesitantly.
"Yes, little sister?" Applejack's full attention was on her.
"Ya know what Ah see when Ah look at 'er?" She looked right at the Nightmare. "Ah see you, hurtin' on the inside."
"Ah...Ah think this mess is TRYIN' tah mess with the truth side of my eyes..." Applejack muttered; it was taking a lot of her determination just to speak straight. "...So, Mirror, tell the truth, why yah hurtin'?"
"... Ah told ya, if ya knew, ya'd hate me too much to accept my help, and ya can't afford that. Don't make me repeat myself more. Yer better off NOT knowin'."
"Oh! I think I know!" Button Mash pipped up.
(Scootaloo's Diary: Just in case he did, I smacked him in the face with one of my wings before he could spill the beans on something. I can't remember every last detail of my dream Princess Dash gave me... It took every trick my parents taught me with three apple eating lie detectors in the room to tell what happened on our adventure to Applejack without telling stuff I know Princess Dash wouldn't want me to give away.)
"So... yer Spike beat up that monster from the memories in my head? Ah was hopin' it was all fake," AJ said, looking at the metal foreleg.
"Ya know Spike. No matter the reality, he'll always care about Rarity. But yah should be thankin' the kids, they're the ones that ruined his proper way into the world and made most of that fake. Abandon never got 'properly born' so tah speak thanks tah them. Spike just cut his temper tantrum short."
Apple Bloom, who was still keeping one eye barely open said softly. "And ya can thank 'Cousin Surprise' when ya see 'er."
Nightmare Mirror's ears perked. "Ah'll try. Ah'm just gonna say it, Apple Bloom, Ah kept naggin' that ya ain't my Apple Bloom, but there Ah was, tryin' take make ya more like me... when it's the last thing yer Applejack would ever want. Ah, Ah'm sorry."
"Yer bein' honest, and an Apple accepts a sincere apology," Apple Bloom said, trying to sound adult, which naturally made her only sound more childish.
"Thank ya kindly, Apple Bloom. Hearin' ya say that... And Ah'll tell ya the truth. Ah just don't want to shame the family. That's why Ah don't call myself AJ no more 'except around my friends."
"...We're willin' tah forgive Diamond, Alula, and Tootsie for their part in all this, Ah'm... sure we can forgive yah for what yah did..." Apple Bloom replied, her friends nodding.
Mirror looked in her own wings. "...Yer right...and that's why yer better than meh and mah friends were. And Ah MEAN that. Applejack... There's somethin' Ah wanna say."
Nightmare Mirror leaned in and whispered to Applejack. "What did ya learn when ya, Liarjack, Orangejack, and the rest beat up that Nightmare Mirror?"
"...Ah learned that Ah could have been as happy in Manehatten after all. And Orangejack, wasn't a bad pony. Princess Luna said Ah gotta accept a contrary truth or Ah'd end up like you. And Ah did accept it." Applejack whispered back.
"... Ya learned somethin' important, AJ... ya really did... but Ah won't force ya. Ah know how stubborn Applejacks are. Ah'll just ask, do ya wanna see the bigger truth to that? Ah promise it won't turn ya into a Nightmare or the like or whatever."
"Cross mah heart, hope tah fly, stick a cupcake in mah eye," the outer Nightmare replied, even doing the motions.
"Ah can't promise Ah'll understand much when Ah can barely move my body right."
"It'll be good enough. It'll just be a tick fer ya." The outer Nightmare whispered. And opened her wing and showed AJ the reflection within.
It wasn't another trip through Truth, yeah, Ah can hear how disappointed ya are. Anywho, what Ah saw instead was somethin' else. The six of all were all still friends, we all still lived in Ponyville, we still saved Luna from herself and beat Discord and Chrysalis... but... we were different.
Ah had a diamonds cutie mark and was makin' dresses. RD was flying takin' care of animals with butterflies on her butt. Rarity had RD's mark and was movin' the clouds around. Fluttershy had Pinkie Pie's mark makin' little foals laugh. And Pinkie Pie was workin' the farm with Big Mac. Twilight was still Twilight though.
But then... somethin' happened, Ah didn't see what... and all our cutie marks were back to normal... except... Ah couldn't farm worth nothin'. Rarity's poked herself with the needles more than the dresses. Fluttershy's animals looked ready to eat her. Pinkie Pie's jokes were all Apple related and had the audience throwing apples AT her. And Rainbow Dash was shockin' herself with the weather clouds.
Thing blurred again, and all our cutie marks were back to being mixed up... but... they were... we were... happy and relieved. And spent a long time talkin' 'bout how we got to live in each other's horse shoes for a while. Something else happened... but it all became a blur before Ah could WHAT!
The vision ended. And Ah was back in this ugly twisted insult to my home and family. And my leg was replaced with a metal one again.
"What was that?!" Ah gasped.
Nightmare Mirror leaned in close and said lowly. "Destiny is what ya make it. As a Nightmare, Ah could never accept it, and Ah hate acceptin' it now. Ah wanted everythin' set in stone. Ah can't stand how liquid some things are across the world lines. THAT is the bigger truth, DESTINY, IS, WHAT, YA, MAKE, IT!...There's always a choice. Don't let anypony ever tell ya different. Ah know that all sounds just like common sense, but sometimes it gotta be said...and Ah can't be that. Ah still want a world without germs, instead of ponies having to get sick all the time to have the best immunity, so to speak in fancy metaphor. And Ah know... that's gonna lead to misery somehow... "
"HEY! We're the heroes for this adventure! Let us in on what you're talking about!" The Button kid said to us whisperin'.
Scootaloo rolled her eyes and smacked the kid in the face with her wing again.
"See, Sweetie Belle? That's what you do when your coltfriend puts his hoof in it," Scootaloo said matter of fact.
"No, that's what you do," Sweetie Belle said without a hint of spite.
"We do have somethin' tah settle with my family, but..." Mirror said. "...Ah snapped when one family member got hurt by a lie, here yah are with ALL your family hurt by a million and still haven't so much as called the Spirits of Dark Magic...yah looked the truth in the eye and it had tah blink first...So the honest truth? Mah Rainbow already said this tah herself, and it's true: Applejack...yer just plain better than meh."
"... Ya say it's better that Ah don't know what happened. Ah'll trust ya on that. But if we're Applejack, Ah'm guessin' ya just didn't have help when ya needed it to save ya from yerself. That doesn't mean it wasn't yer mistakes... but still... yer an Apple."
Ah managed to stand a bit better, but the world still spun around every time Ah tried to so much as twitch a muscle. Ah was still usin' my metal leg as a cane. "If there's always a choice: Then that means, Ah'm free. And so are you, Applejack."
'Nightmare Mirror' started... then bowed her head, and took her Pa's hat off her head and over her heart. "Thank ya kindly, Applejack."
Ah nodded, then Ah lifted up Apple Bloom's little head. "Open yer eyes, Apple Bloom, both of em... look..." Ah felt woozy. The poison wasn't leavin' my veins. "Look into mine."
She slowly did. And Ah saw The Truth in her, in her eye, spreadin' like an infection through 'er. It wasn't as bad as just before 'Nightmare' AJ showed up, but it was still there. Ah still smiled at her. After everythin' she told me she'd gone through, Ah was proud of her for not givin' in, Princess Luna told me how close Ah was to becomin' Nightmare Mirror before.
"Apple Bloom, Ah just wanna say, Ah'm so proud of ya. Ya and yer friends have helped so many ponies this time. Ya might have had help, no shame in that, goodness knows Ah had tah learn that the hard way. But none of it would have happened if ya weren't there to shine the truth on everypony. Ya were braver than ya've ever been. Even when the curse got ya, ya fought yer way back tah the truth. Even when these nasties remade it so even history is screwed up, ya still helped everypony see the truth beyond truth... Dang Ah sound like Twili'. Ah've never been prouder." Ah hug her tighter and nuzzled 'er.
"Shucks... t'weren't nothin'," Apple Bloom said with a slight smirk. "Ya helped talk sense into all the ponies in Ponyville after Ugly Disco-Board hurt everypony. Ah was just folowin' in yer hoofsteps big sister." She nuzzled me.
Ah looked at her friends. "Girls, if ya've come this far, and gotten so many ponies to snap out of it, then Ah know ya can get little Tootsie and Cloud Kicker's sister back to their senses too. And... don't ya worry none about Diamond Tiara. Me and my friends are old pros by now at gettin' Nightmares back to normal. She'll be back with her folks in no time. Ya just get this curse broken, and we'll take it from there. Ya'll of done enough."
Ah knew that look they gave me back, what worried me more was that they weren't even tryin' to hide it. They were in this till the end of the line. Dangit. Well, cross that bridge when we come to it.
"And if that no good stinkin' apple-thievin' slimly, slithering, rat-faced, snake-in-the-grass Discord is part of this... don't believe a thing he says. He'll tell ya lies, half-truths, brutal truths, ANYTHIN' to get ya ta break. He won't hurt ya straight up, there's no FUN in it. Twilight gave ya those enchantments against mind magic, Ah don't know how well they'll stack against draconequus magic opposed to changeling magic, so be on guard. Stroke his ego. And believe in yerself." Heh! Ah'm half drunk and speakin' all big and fancy like is the others' department. RD said the same thing once? Ah'll be a monkey's auntie!
The foals all smile and nodded, gettin' that whole 'eye of the tiger' look on their faces.
"By and by," Other Me said with a smile. "If ya get some extra bits this year, ya outta invest in jewel polish, trust me, it'll be a good investment."
Ah was gonna ask what she meant, when somethin' awful rattled through me like a shockwave.
Other Me fell down to her knees. She looked sick, she blurring in a way that had nothin' to do with the hard cider inside me. It looked like her teeth were grownin' fangs like the Nightmare Night version of Nightmare Moon.
"Dagnabbit, Ah knew this would happen!" Nightmare Me shouted. She was... she was turnin' dusty pink with a charcoal lines... it was like the orange was pushin' back, she was as stubborn as me, and we both had the truth... but Ah knew it was a losin' fight.
Ah felt new memories tryin' to force their way in.
Meanwhile, Other Me was gettin' bigger and meaner-lookin'.
Sweetie's eye widened. "She knows! Diamond Tiara knows you're here!" She said. She grabbed a copy of that dang newspaper off of the table where Big Mac left it for me. When our parents died from demons, he always supported me, and Ah learned not ta show mercy. "So shocked at finding another Nightmare... she knows who's been helping us now!"
"That didn't happen with Spike!" Scoots shouted.
"He already had an excuse for how he got big!!" Apple Bloom gasped.
'Meddling Nightmares Shall Be Punished' read the headline on the magic newspaper: An evil and feral Nightmare from another dimension here to destroy the world, slain by demon hunter Applejack, left in critical condition.
And Ah saw a Nightmare, in some dadgum good need of some slayin'. Dangit! Ah pushed Apple Bloom away. "Get away from us!"
"But we need tah save yah!" Apple Bloom called back gettin' up.
"Blue blazes, there ain't no time to argue! Ah've got a Nightmare ta slay!"
Nightmare Me was lookin' bigger and scarier than before. She looked at us, then focused on me, then she seemed to be lookin' behind me and pointed a hoof.
"UH! Do ya think Granny forget to feed Winona?! She might be really hungry for fillies if she did!"
We all knew what they meant and we turned to see... just the back end of the livin' room. Ah felt somethin' trail down my back.
"Ah thought yah..." We looked back and Other Me was...gone.
"No Ah didn't forget to feed Winona II sillies fillies! Ah don't want 'er eatin' Sweetie Belle before moonrise, don't worry, it'll be real soon Sweetie Belle."
And without a Nightmare to slay, Ah felt wobbly, Ah wasn't sure what to do with myself.
Sweetie ground her teeth angrily, then shook er head. "Diamond Tiara, she can't sense where Nightmare Mirror is anymore. She's NOT happy. She knows you didn't kill her, she's not letting that mistake happen again. And she's on the look out for more 'rivals'. I... I don't think we can count on their help anymore."
"Can't we catch a break?!" Scootaloo asked.
"We're at the end of the game..." Button lamented. "Things are SUPPOSED to be challenging and tough during the endgame!"
Ah don't know where she ran to, but that was 'bout the smartest thing she coulda done. My body caught up to my brain and Ah fell onto the floor again, the room spinnin'. At least stayin' drunk meant Ah didn't have tah worry about the hangovers. Ah don't think Ah'll be able to touch hard cider ever again after this, least Aunt and Uncle Orange will be proud. And layin' there on the floor, Ah felt hooves stompin'.
"Don't ya worry none, Applejack!" Ah knelt down lookin' my big sister Applejack in the eyes. "We're gonna cure yah, and ya'll be back to yerself in no time, and so will Big Mac, Granny Smith, Winona, and the whole farm! If Ah can't see the curse in ya, we'll just have'ta get ya to see just how plum stupid they are! Yer not a killer! We don't do traditions just cause! And ya ... okay ya fight monsters but ya never lost yer arm cause of it! And...yeah, yah fought Nightmares but ya never killed any!"
Ah'll admit, Ah was trippin', Ah'd just nearly... Ah'd just nearly turned into exactly what Nightmare Mirror warned would happen eventually when she gave me the Truth. No, Ah still don't hate 'er, the Truth saved my friends' flanks way too many times for that. But... Applejack was a sucker for tradition, she was a mighty tough pony, and she and her friends did fight monsters... what was the part that WASN'T Applejack?
"Apple Bloom!" big sister gasped out. "Ah know! Ah know! But-but!" She shook her head, Ah saw The truth in her eyes fighting back against the sludge in her, her eye turnin' their real green for a second. "Ah! AH AIN'T the one with the lies' roots in me! Ah'm NOT THE GATE KEEPER!!!"
Ah heard us all gaspin'.
Ah fell on my flank. Everythin' in my head spun out of control at once. Big Sister not the gate keeper?! How did that even make sense?! All the Elements of Harmony were the gate keepers right? Right? But-but... then... me nearly bein' turned into a monster... us havin' to sneak past that monster of Winona... it... it was all just a waste? No! No, that couldn't be!
"But then who is?!" Scootaloo shouted buzzing her wings and flying up, her cape flapping in her wind.
"Ya three never CAN stop makin' noise, can ya?! Even with two cutie marks, ya somehow make three times as much noise! How's anypony supposed to work? Ya cause so much trouble it's wonder ANYTHIN' get done 'round here."
Ah turned. There in the entry way... it was... it was Big Brother Big Macintosh...
Ah saw what the others didn't... Oh Applejack, are ya seein' this too? He was bloated with lies, like Miss Cheerilee, a skin sack full of snakes. The look on Big Mac's face... he looked at me, at us, like he would at a mad timber wolf that had to be put down... Or a plague of angry apples moths.
Mah brain flashed back to Pinkie Pie's bubble...When Ah had the root in me and Ah saw myself full of those things...
= Battle Realms - Lotus theme Dark Homily =
Big Mac had always been big and strong, he was the biggest and strongest pony Ah've ever known! His shadow began to spread out and cover the whole room!
Applejack... she just... she just fainted dead away, like she'd just plain run out of juice...Applejack, stubborn determined Applejack run out of juice... Ah heard her mumble like she was readin' a script, "What was Ah sayin' again?"
Ah felt ice go through my heart at hearin' that.
Then ... the whole living room change... Applejack vanished... so did all the doors and windows... the furniture changed into crates and barrels. The wallpaper and pictures fell away to show just brick walls. The wood floors became stone. The ceiling was filled with spiderweb and was raw wood. The entry tilted up and dug upwards, showin' that ugly pink sky before slammin' closed with a clang.
We were in the cellar, in the blink of an eye. The livin' room had transformed into the apple cellar.
Cloth gags flew in our faces like Nightmare Night ghosts, and wrapped themselves around our mouths. Ropes sprang from behind us fast as cobras! Our rear and front hooves were all tied together behind our backs. We fell to the ground like sacks of flour. It all happened so fast. We didn't have time ta think! And Big Mac... he just loomed closer and closer. Next to 'em was a tool box full of knives more rusty than Granny would ever let 'em get. All of 'em pointed and edging towards us like live monsters that couldn't wait to dig in.
That skin sack of my brother with all those black snakes inside said, "All Ah want is a quiet life, without all ya Cutie Mark Crusaders runnin' round the place, making with the noise. When Ah'm finished with y’all, there gonna be no noise from ya ever again."
Everythin', like the Truth was still gettin' stronger a bit, and Ah saw... everythin', covered in black snakes, even the gags and ropes... black snakes... everywhere...
Big Mac looked at poor Button Mash. "And ya and yer ma are moral busybodies, always buttin' on my family's business, she as annoyin' as Rarity. Then again, least Rarity has a brain her head."
Button Mash's eyes bulged, and he wriggled like a worm on a hook, futilely trying to spew out some angry words Ah couldn't make out.
"Yer ma wouldn't approve of that language. Ah'll just have'ta clean it out with battery acid."
Applejack and her fiends weren't comin'. Phobia wasn't comin'. Aphrodite wasn't comin'. Nightmare Applejack and her friends weren't comin'. Pipsqueak and his crew weren't comin'. Blanky wasn't here to save us. Doctor Whooves wasn't comin' to save us. Spike wasn't here. And Button Mash, he was as tied up and gagged like us.
"Ah'm gonna take off the gags, and the first one to scream get their tongue cut out. But keep screamin' if ya want, Ah wanna have fun with Applejack for that injury before Applebuck season while Ah'm at it too."
"'Ou an', ''ari'ice 'lue moon." Sweetie muffled out.
Big Mac didn't miss a beat. "We'll just use that Firelock unicorn filly instead... Ponyville's full of noisy foals. Granny Smith won't mind."
He went over to the tool box and took out the big rusty knife. There was nopony comin' to save us. We were on our own...
= X-Men Theme - 1990s cartoon =
Button Mash usin' his nose opened up his menu, summoned his sword and cut his ropes in two! Ah looked at the ropes, and Ah saw the truth of the where they were strongest, and weakest, burin' mah hide 'n' muscles and Ah scuttled my way out of 'em! Sweetie Belle's horn glowed and usin' her telekinesis pulled the ropes apart. Scootaloo's wing edges glowed blue and she used that wing blade of hers to slice the ropes off!
Big Mac's expression didn't change. His shadow just moved through the room like the tentacles of squid. "Ah ain't impressed. Ya girls' parlor tricks can't save ya from me. Ya ain't got no hope!"
Then the ropes... they became whole again and turned into locks and chains, and just like that, we were tied up again.
"Now where were we?" Big Mac said soundin' annoyed.
"... Being not-at-all impressed by you!" One of us shouted, maybe me, maybe the others, IT DIDN'T MATTER!
Button Mash used an item that read 'Master Key', and usin' his mouth, undid the lock on his chains. "Knew buying this from Pipqueak would come in handy!"
Sweetie Belle charged her black magic and cut the chains apart. And some of the floor, but that ain't our concern right now.
Ah channeled every last drop of Earth Pony magic Ah could, Ah saw where the weak link the chains were, and slammed them into the stone floor, breakin' em.
Scootaloo charged up her wing blade spell... and vibrated her wings with the buzzin' she could always do... and before my very eyes, she BUZZSAWED THROUGH THE CHAINS!
"Ya retarded, filthy, greedy, noisy, stupid, selfish, slutty little rats. If ya wanted it all at once, ya just had to ask. Maybe ya'll won't be totally borin' after all, maybe... Nope, yer still pieces of meat for me to dump my horse apples in and stick my knife into!" He pointed the rusty blade at us.
None of us dignified this thing usin' my brother's face with a response. Not that we actually UNDERSTOOD half of what he said.
"Don't hurt 'em too bad! That's still my brother in there!" Ah said.
Big Mac's eye widened and his mouth almost dropped the knife. "YOU?! HURT ME?! YA REALLY ARE RETARDED!" Big Mac looked redder than usual. Then he laughed. "Bad joke! Now shut up and die!"
Each foal gave Big Mac a look that could have killed. United together, they were a herd.
=Ultimate Metal Crusaders - Kil vs. Stone McKnuckle =
Big Mac, big brother to the Element of Honesty, a crimson giant among stallions and an unstoppable force when he set his will to it to even give some Alicorns pause, empowered by the flow of fate itself and a thousand rumors all focused and rooted inside him. He charged like a knife-wielding locomotive against the four, tiny foals, two of them blank flanks and three of them unarmed. And they were held back by the fact this stallion had been changed by a reality twisting curse, wiping who he had been from existence, but still clinging to the hope that that stallion could be brought back to life. So they held back their strength against Big Mac whose strength equaled that of some younger dragons.
To call it a fight would be an overstatement. Slaughter was too kind a term: it was total annihilation. To give details would be a waste of space. The outcome might as well have been decided before the 'fight' even began.
"AGH! STOP! STOP!" Came the scream from the basement. "NO! NO!" It came again. "IT CAN'T END LIKE THIS!" Followed soon after by, "MERCY! PLEASE! AHHHH!" and "HA! I KNEW YOU'D COME TO HELP! WE'RE GOING TO WIN NOW!" and, "NOOOOOO!!! IMPOSSIBLE! BUT-! BUT-! BUCK YOU! BUCK YOU ALL THE WAY TO TARTARUS YOU LITTLE HORSE APPLES! BUCK-UGHAGH!"
"Sorry 'bout that, Big Mac," Apple Bloom apologized as she stuffed the gag in her big brother's mouth, his beaten, bruised, and battered body tied up with ropes and chains (gotten from Button Mash's inventory of course that somehow refused to break even under Big Mac's weight).
Scootaloo stretched her muscles. "Geeze... I was almost worried there for a sec' when all those ropes and chains joined together and turned into a land-squid." She kicked one of the severed tentacles aside.
"After fighting Hound of Tindalos, it wasn't THAT scary," Sweetie Belle said. "I think the curse forgot it was supposed to make sense."
"Sweetie! Did you see that super-mega-ultra-combo I did?! And it was all with the flat of my sword, I promise Apple Bloom."
"Ah believe ya Button Mash, and Ah'd say we all saw ya."
"What about when 'He Who Walks Behind the Trees' showed up?" Scootaloo asked.
"Never saw that holy water coming," Applebloom replied. "Or that cider could be flammable. Or that HE was flammable. Don't know why he thought we NEEDED 'em tah bring fertility to the farm either."
"Was that another eldritch abomination or just a rumors thingie?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"Hard tah tell, weren't a pony though. His shadow ran away though."
Big Mac screamed and cursed with bloodshot eyes at the foals.
"Hey don't take this personally," Scootaloo said. "We've done this thing five or seven times already. You didn't stand a chance."
"Anypony need a healing potion?" Botton Mash offered.
"Naw Ah think we're good," Apple Bloom said.
Big Mac kept screaming through his gag harder than an angry toddler.
Scootaloo knelt down, putting one foreleg on the knee of her back legs, striking a sea-goer nose. "Seriously, after Rainbow Dash, Cheerilee, Zecora, whatever the heck was up with Pinkie Pie, that had to be the STUPIDEST reason to kill us we've seen! Because we were making too much noise?! Seriously! I sure hope Alula didn't write this, I expect a member of the Rainbow Dash fan club to be a lot better at writing scary stories than this! Kohu 'ole."
"And seriously, after all the twists with Zecora's masks-"
"-the school's death traps-" Scootaloo shuddered.
"-and Abandon-" Sweetie Belle shuddered too.
"-And what happened to me at Pinkie Pie's." Apple Bloom shuddered as well. "And plus havin' a bajillion bad Twilights inside Twilight when we were just startin' out BEFORE we joined with our other-selves? Havin' to face that big shadow monster you was just recyclin'."
"AND Dash being the head of the Rainbow Factory and having an ARMY?"
"While the rest of us fought Shub-Neighurath?" Sweetie added.
"And had to go back in time to make a cosmic alignment happen to weaken an unholy super-monster at a specific time while fighting her in an imagination powered flying pirate ship," Button added. "Oh, and having to fight evil demon worshipers who...might have been your ancestors without killing or badly hurting them so we didn't cause a time paradox to do it."
"Yeah, we've kinda outgrown the 'helpless foals' role," Scootaloo said. "No thanks."
"We've come a long way big brother, we're gonna save the world, and we ain't gonna be stopped OR lose who we are to the likes of what twisted you into this. Ah'll get ya healed, and then we can save the world," Apple Bloom said lovingly.
"WE ROCK!" Button Mash cheered, hopped in the air and clapped his back hooves together waving his sword around like an lovable idiot. Sweetie stopped him before he cut himself and hugged him and nuzzled him. Scootaloo then hugged them both.
"CUTIE MARK CRUSADER HEROES! YAY!" They all cheered.
Apple Bloom looked at the red sack of snakes in the shape of her brother. She narrowed her eyes. "Alright, my turn...Big Brother, Ah know ya don't talk much, but how ya act speaks loud enough. Ya've always been here, even when Applejack couldn't... And Ah'm here for ya now!"
The look of rage and hate in those bloodshot eyes didn't change. Apple Bloom looked into them with the Truth. She took off the gag. And his eyes were focused on hers.
Apple Bloom's diary:
"Big Mac... ya gotta know somewhere in there, that none of what yer doin' makes sense. Yer ways smarter than anypony ever give ya credit for! In yer own way ya see things clearer than Applejack sometimes! And yer way too smart to do somethin' this awful for somethin' so dumb!"
"Maybe this is a side of myself ya just haven't seen. Ya know what they say 'bout the quite ones."
"Ya ain't quiet! Ah said yer actions speak loud enough for ya. The Big Mac Ah've grown up with? The one Ah've gotten to know? He'd NEVER do anythin' like this! Ya put up with practically RAISING ME yer whole life! Includin' through them 'terrible twos.' Granny Smith's shown meh the pictures enough times tah know that weren't easy! And we've been LESS noisy 'round the farm since we got Applejack's clubhouse!"
"Ever heard of the straw that broke the camel's back?"
"Heard nothin', Ah've SEEN AND LISTENED TO IT! When we went too far with Gabby Gums, ya didn't hesitate to tell me and my friends how much we screwed up! Ya banished us from yer sight! Ya always speak yer mind, sometimes with words, sometimes with what ya do, but ya don't just hide it away lettin' it boil over. If we were bein' too loud, yah'd have TOLD US FIRST! And what about all the times WE MADE NOISE TOGETHER?! ... Yer not that stupid or that petty!"
Ah saw the crack. Ah heard the snakes hiss and cry out as they withered away inside 'em.
Ah struck home, now Ah wasn't gonna stop 'till Ah stamped out every last one of these nasty snakes! Just me, Big Mac, and the Real Truth!
= Undertale - SAVE the World =
"Applejack's no drunk! She's a dang workaholic! She'll work herself to the bone if she's gotta! How could she have done any of that if she's drunk all the time?! She'd have lost a leg from an accident before she lost it fightin' monsters! A drunk doesn't get half the orchard harvested by herself workin' day and night! Does she?!"
"And Applejack could NEVER be a war criminal!"
"Cause ya love 'er so much?"
"No! Ah do love 'er that much! But that ain't why! Applejack's always held onto her principles! Her own rules! Her own morals! Even to the bitter end and when it works against her!"
"She changed 'er principles when she accepted help for Apple Buck Season!"
"Yeah, but there's a difference between changing for the RIGHT reasons and suddenly bein' the BAD GUY!"
"Who's the bad guy changes on whose side yer on."
"No." Sweetie? "Hercules was a good guy, even when working for Chrysalis, and Lone Ranger was a bad guy, even if he was doing what he was doing for Equestria," Sweetie said sadly.
I shot back in. "And besides, here's a question: if there was a war, who the heck was it AGAINST?!"
"That ain't an answer! Enemies don't exist just to be an enemy! Even these things we've been fightin' had a REASON for what they're doin', even if it's a plum rotten one! That dang changeling queen said it herself! Equestria's the land with more love than anywhere else she's seen! What makes Equestria strong is how good we are at MAKIN' friends!" Ah knew Ah was channelin' some of the Truth in me, but I wasn't losin' myself this time, Ah was savin' Big Mac, Ah was savin' my friends and family, Ah focused on THAT! Ah didn't let it use me! The strongest truth was that Ah loved my family! "We're friends with the griffins, the minotaurs, and the dragons! What did the 'enemy' want? What did we want?! What was so bad we couldn't work it out?! So can ya tell me one thing about this dang 'enemy' that was so awful Applejack did awful things to!? A name? A species? A reason? A COUNTRY? Anythin'?!"
"Here's another question! How the heck can we be Demon Hunters that makes demons never-heard-from-again when we're worshippin' one for a good harvest?!"
"Takin' care of rivals, duh."
And the truth flowed straight through me. "How can a house squabblin' against itself do anythin'?"
And Big Mac couldn't find any words, Ah didn't give him time to look!
"Cousin told us how Equestria already has a whole section of the Royal Guard devoted to fightin' monsters! And Applejack's too busy on the farm to train for bein' a monster hunter too!"
"She had time to learn how to give first aid from Doctor Red Heart, and train for and go to the Equestria Rodeo."
Ah chuckled. "Then don't that mean she had LESS time tah learn tah be a demon hunter?! Besides...why did she need to be a demon slayer in the first place? Ponyville's home to Saint Sweet Heart's descendant! Ah'm pretty sure they're a lot more scared of her than some fancy demon killin' equipment! If Applejack wanted tah put down a demon, she'd just need tah ask for some holy stuff from her!"
Ah...honestly couldn't help thinkin' THAT was somethin' Ah wished would stay when we fixed things. Red Heart was doin' a lot of good there.
"And Ah saw a book in Twilight's library titled 'Banishing Evil Spirits For Dummies!' Where do yah think we got the idea tah splash 'He Who Walks Behind the Trees' with Holy Water from?! Us bein' some secret sect' makes no sense! Everypony knows what an evil spirit is, it bein' secret makes as much sense as AIR bein' secret!"
Ah've chopped away at the branches, now it was time to go fer the root! Get rid of this one, and the rest will go with it!
"And here's the last one! Our family would NEVER plan to make Sweetie never-heard-from-again by offerin' her up to some evil spirit just to get a good harvest! We've got way too much pride for that!"
"A little help never hurts. Isn't that what Applejack learned?"
And Ah blew. "YA TAUGHT ME FRIENDS ARE FAMILY TOO! YA TAUGHT ME PONYVILLE'S A FAMILY! EQUESTRIA'S OUR FAMILY! AND WE'D NEVER DO SOMETHIN' LIKE THAT TO FAMILY! We accept help from FRIENDS, we don't TRADE help in blood to do the work for us! Well, except cracked and bloody hooves from a hard day's work! We're Apples! We're not that weak!"
"Ya sayin' spirits can't be friends?"
"No! Ah'm sayin' ya give somepony somethin' to SHOW yer friends, and a friend who asks for blood of another pony as a gift isn't a friend Ah'd want to have!"
"What if it was just a test to show how much ya were willin' to give up?"
"Then why ain't we havin' FAITH that's the case instead and he'd save her than bein' willin' tah kill her and givin' it as an excuse? Besides that...don't the Harvest Moon belong tah LUNA? Not some crazy demon? Come tah think about it..."
Ah didn't take mah eyes off him, but Ah motioned tah mah friend. "Who did we bless that Holy Water in the name of?"
"Princess Luna," Sweetie Belle replied.
"And Saint Sweet Heart," Button replied looking at the item description in his inventory. "Just for good measure."
We woulda used Princess Celestia, too, but the world said somethin' rotten about her, and would probably associate her with Unholy Water or something'.
"If this demon cares so much about the Harvest Moon, then why did somethin' blessed in her name burn it! And how could Applejack ever look Rarity in the eye if Applejack sacrificed her little sister? No way no how!"
Ah blinked, seein' somethin' in there. "...And if yah have feelin's for somepony, how could yah look 'em in the eye if yah murdered three little fillies? Could you Big Mac?"
His entire body shook like he was gonna explode. Out of his mouth came a tiny whisper, "... N... n... nooope."
And rainbows exploded from him. We all got knocked back on our flanks.
The rainbows went right through the walls. And Ah got the big BIIIIG feelin' that it kept goin', through the farm, through that wall of fog, all the way across Equestria. Ah could imagine, Applejack, Twilight, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Pinie Pie, Fluttershy, all looking up and knowin' SOMETHIN' had happened. Ah imagined Fluttercruel, Phobia and Maud Pie lookin' sick for a moment for some reason too. Ah imagined that rainbow bein' in the sky of every one of these crazy bubbles. And Ah didn't need to be Sweetie Belle to imagine the looks on Diamond, Umbra Breeze, and Discord's faces when they saw it from the top of their tower. Ah smiled, mah eyes never leavin' my big brother.
The entire place shook, but nothin' fell outta place. A white light then exploded next from big brother... and it spread over everythin' and everypony in the farm! Ah didn't stop lookin'. The light burned away the snakes... turnin' to ashes that was blown away to nothin'.
And when the light cleared... the colors, and the style of the world was back to how Ah remember it, except for some things bein' brighter and darker instead of things havin' the same colors no matter the light.
Big Mac looked at me, and Ah saw Big Mac, the real Big Mac. Ah let out the biggest squeal of joy Ah could and hugged 'em!
Ah heard my friends clappin' and cheerin' behind me!
"Yer free!" Ah cried.
"Yep!" He smiled. Above his head... a green jewel set in gold shape like his cutie mark appeared, it was covered in grim that then got washed away as soon as Ah saw it. It sparkled. And Ah heard somethin' unlockin' far away.
"Hey! New trophy!" Button Mash rambled.
"APPLE BLOOM!" The door slammed open. Applejack looking like Applejack, all four flesh and blood legs, stared down at us, and sober as rain. "ARE YA OKAY? BIG SISTER'S HERE!"
"Ah'm right here, Applejack!" Ah waved my hoof. "We won!"
Applejack looked at everythin' with her Truth, Ah could tell now, and she ran down and hugged me and Big Mac. "THANK YOU CADENCE!!!" She shouted.
We all took a step back and nuzzled again. We were just happy everythin' was back tah normal!
Then Ah remembered something. "Uh, sis?" Ah asked.
"Our apple cellar might be a tiny bit scorched, we kinda had to burn an evil demon thing that tried tah kill us."
"Eeyup, it was possessin' meh and Granny," Big Mac explained. "Kids took care of it," he said, rubbing mah mane. "Like how you saved Winona from that alien thin' by getting her to gobble its mind up before it could do it to her."
Ah blinked, so did AJ. Oh well! Winona was back tah bein' Winona!
Applejack looked at my friends. "Ya girls did great! Ah'm sure yer big sisters and my beloved/best friend/just friend/dear friend/dearest one/special somepony, Rarity/Twilight/Rainbow Dash/Pinkie Pie/Fluttershy are all proud of ya too!" Applejack's eye momentarily spun in opposite directions. Applejack shook her head. "Dang... Ah guess that hasn't gone away." She shivered. "Those little fillies need to learn the difference between 'just friends' and JUST ACTUALLY FRIENDS. Celestia's Rainbow's ma? Well at least that might explain the hair."
"Ya okay Applejack?" Big Mac asked.
"Just shakin' off some bad headaches," AJ said.
Ah guess the crazy mixing up rumors weren't going away, even if at least AJ knew it was all lies.
"And Apple Bloom," Applejack said smilin'. "You and Ah, and yer Big Brother, and Granny Smith, are gonna have a looong talk about that dang earrin' Zecora done gave ya."
Big Mac finally noticed the little thing on my ear. His eyes narrowed. "Eyup!"
Ah swallowed. Oh boy.
She hugged me. "But fer now, let's get some grub in ya girls! And Big Mac... let's get ya untied and to bed. Yer a mess."
Oh! Right! Heheh! Oops!
"Sorry we had tah rough yah up so much Big Brother," Ah said. "That demon put up a big fight."
"No worries, sis. Ah'm just glad yah got it out of meh," he said, giving me a nuzzle.
We then heard a bark and Winona came into the cellar. She then gave a happy yip and ran over, licking my face. The Truth showed she was full of fireflies now, but Ah could tell she was our dog.
Watching the bushel of Apples hug, Sweetie Belle whispered. "Is anypony else confused Big Mac had an Element of Harmony inside him?"
"Video game logic." Button Mash offered.
"Maybe he's back-up Honesty? Like the Green Lamp? Comic book logic?" Scootaloo asked. "Or Nightmare Mirror gave him the truth too and he's just better at handling it?"
"Then again, maybe it's just the world's gone crazy and leave it at that." Sweetie rescinded. "If there's one thing Trixie showed us, it's that we can't go wrong with more Element Bearers around."
After Apple Bloom finished the hug (and getting dog kisses) she came back to her friends and the four hugged one another.
"Three to go," Sweetie Belle replied, smiling. The group had no intention to stop saving ponies just because they'd finished saving the six.
"Girls?" Button asked. "I just want to say...thanks for being my friends. I hope no matter what happens, you're my best friends and I hope it stays that way!"
The girls hugged him tight and nodded in agreement.
The brave and cunning Daring Do could really use a break.
"Okay... that creepy foal knocked the orange filly clean out of Cloudsdale... he gets me to stay because 'I'll only get hurt' so I don't get caught in the crossfire... then he suddenly changes his mind and tells me to fly for it like I was going to do in the first place! I run into a buncha foals dressed up like pirates with an invisible dog. I have to help them fight this big black ink monster, THEN have to stop a gang of monkeys in green uniforms from hurting them and getting them safe to Cheerilee's school."
Daring Do did another flying spin and delivered a spear kick to the 'face' of the Dark Spawn in trying to molest her, making it fall over like timber.
"And THEN I have to save that uppity, spoiled pop star Countess and her nice and friendly manager from a gang of evil singing fish pony monsters who wanted to make her more of their kind... And getting THEM to Cheerilee's school safely, (the foals sure liked her showing up)."
Daring Do flew circles around the horrors as another tried to stuff her in its mouth. In doing so, she tricked one into inadvertently running into another's 'mouth'.
"And THEN, when I make it all the way back to this spot that I KNOW that orange filly and her friends were at this whole time, I get stuck having to fight a bunch of evil walking fleshy trees monsters... No pony said this job was going to be easy. And now I'm talking to myself. Great. And what the heck were those evil corn stalks about?!" she finished, back hoofing a Dark Spawn in its 'face'. She saw the farmhouse in the distance on the other side of the orchard.
"I am the Glue-Maker! Beware my evil!"
"Oh come on!" Daring Do groaned. "Enough already!"
The nightmare of Diamond Tiara, a blank diamond, teleported into the printing room, Pharaoh of #43/#15 scowling over the battle map of Canterlot as Umbra Breeze continued to furiously write on his typewriter.
A dark-colored crystal pony, Obsidian Zephyr, stepped towards to the little inner circle of the villains.
The Night-filly began to furiously write on a sheet of paper.
"The last barrier's gone. Father, it's time to pull the plug on this game. What we were planning may not be done in time. This is our safer bet. I'm writing a historical article on how Megan The Golden Savior was killed when she defeated Tirek. Without her there to help the early ponies to defeat the old villains, the Elements of Harmony will never exist and without her brother there the Gizmonks will claim the Rainbow of Light as their own or it will remain lost in the Glass Desert. Your original reign will never be thwarted. You're a CONCEPT father, you're IMMUNE to paradoxes, so there should be no trouble for you."
'So are Luna and Celestia, and look at how it 'didn't' effect them.'
"The story doesn't mention you directly, father, so it shouldn't affect you."
Obsidian Zephyr crossed his forehooves while standing his hind legs. "I hate to admit it, little filly... but that may be our best now, nip it in the bud. I'm going to have to start from scratch on all the tragedies... but those brats have ruined most of my favorites as is now... and I want them to suffer for that. They'll BEG ME for the tragedies they saw before when I'm done with them. They'll wish they were never blocked from the rewrites in reality."
'I'm afraid I have put a pin in all that my dear. I mean I'd have to deal with all the trouble makers Megan took care of, I didn't mind when I was outside the mortal world but now that I'm living it, they'd be cramping my style. Especially Grogar and his BLECH perfect order!'
She kept writing. "You think any of those insects would be a bother to you?"
'Lavan, Squirk, and Grogar all together would be VERY ANNOYING for me. And then there's Lilith, assuming someone causes the witches enough trouble to let HER out of her prison. I'd rather NOT have to deal with that. And my little abomination... if all that happened... you wouldn't be here.'
"So?" She kept writing.
'And neither would Alula, Tootsie, or Silver Spoon.'
Her magic flickered and she dropped the pen.
'Besides, trust me, altering major events of history has an unpredictable ripple effect, unless we plot it out far more closely than my attention span will permit, it could just as easily blow up in our faces. Butterfly of Doom and all that. Trust me, I AM the Butterfly of Doom! We could end up in a timeline where Derpy is the supreme empress of Equestria!...Okay, that one might be fun, but we could just as easily end up in a 'Baby Ponies' spin off series.'
"You're a coward Discord!" Obsidian Zephyr snarled.
'I prefer the term conscientious objector cousin. Besides, isn't there a foal in Ponyville who LOVED spreading stories about the brave and powerful Megan the warrior maiden or some delicious nonsense? And with all the conspiracy fun spread, him being never heard from again would make ponies believe it more.'
"And I told him nopony wanted to hear old outdated myths," Blank Diamond said thinking back to her first time as editor.
"I'll deal with him soon enough!" hissed Obsidian Zephyr. The shadows of the pieces of The One Who Was Many began to contort like tentacled monstrosities.
'No really, there's no need to-'
"But I've wasted enough time with this prattle! If one of you is too weak and the other too cowardly! If you want to just WAIT HERE for defeat to come to our doorstep, go right ahead. A true dragon lets the hero wear himself out on his minions early, then meet him halfway to the castle and burns him alive. I've had enough these games ruining """"""""""OUR ART!"""""""""
In Canterlot, Princess Luna, Guard Flash Sentry, short haired Golden Tiara, Sunny Day, and Philomena continued their brave fight against the horde of Nyarlathotrots.
Princess Luna blasted a blob of golden tentacles dead-center, forcing it back.
Golden Tiara somehow managing to survive fighting in hoof to hoof combat with the pitch black fur less, mane less pony and using her martial arts to throw it over the balcony.
Philomena's fire burned back the ghostly skeletal dogs and the army of fleshy tree monsters, and burning clear out of the sky a giant hovering red veined jellyfish, though it would simply rise again.
Flash Sentry had managed to bury the two-headed bat pony under a tower and pin it to the ground with some wooden stakes that sadly weren't enough to kill it (though Flash's armor had been mostly torn apart in the process).
Sunny Day shoot arrow after arrow into the morbidly obese unicorn mare on tiny legs with a fan, while blasting fireballs at the faceless sphinx and quite the opposite of trying to hold back as she scorched the air with her fire magic, and if the castle wasn't restored when all was saved, then the castle cleaners would have a lot of burn marks to clean off.
And more just kept coming!
"Hey, babes! And gent! Let me play ya a tune!" And the ordinary looking zebra stallion carrying a saxophone rode on the back of a wolf with a red hood and landed on the balcony and began to play his horn. His music was maddening, haunting, and confusingly captivating all at the same time. Weakening the heroes without having to lift a hoof.
Flash Sentry, however, saw their salvation and pulled from the war cabinet an axe! A blessed silver-strung axe guitar to be precise.
"With all these storms clouds around, there's plenty of LIGHTNING to spare!" Flash Sentry said, charging up the electric guitar, and began to play his own written song 'Love In A Flash'.
Golden Tiara and Sunny Day thought the pegasus' shredding was kinda cool. Philomena and Luna wondered whose music was worse. At least it was an effective counter.
The zebra snarled. "AGH! That metal trash?! Ya'all call that music?! Have at yee suckah!"
And the two musicians began a musical duel, blasting melodies back and forth with the might of two endless tidal waves crashing into each other. Even the ponies below for whom the battle was invisible, stood and listened to this two-pony battle of the bands.
"New age hack!"
The two shouted at each other as they played their music with their hearts and souls. Given Flash Sentry was going up against a tireless avatar of an Outer Concept, he caused ripples just by being to PUSH BACK the zebra's irresistible jazz.
Rock and Jazz slammed into each other, making both sides cover their ears as the volume and force of the music increased. Flash Sentry was not giving up! He will would not break! He was NOT losing to ANOTHER musician who was a magical monster in disguise! This time he had this mind clear! This time he knew who was he REALLY fighting for! For his friends! His squad-mates! For First Base! For his Twilight! He wouldn't give up!
All at once, All of Nyarlathotrots incarnations drew in a sharp breath, and just, vanished, in the blink of an eye, no flash of light, no smoke, just there one moment, and gone the next. The dark storm cloud surrounding the tower slowly dispelling.
The heroes stared around, sensing magically that their enemy had indeed withdrawn. Shock, confusion, and awe filled them.
Except Flash Sentry, who continued to intensely play his guitar like a stallion possessed, like. The perverted ponies below continued to watch one of the royal guards play rock and roll on Princess Luna's balcony (something certainly never before or since seen).
"Uh, Flash, they're gone, you can stop now," Golden Tiara said.
"Oh! Heheh." He blushed. "Sorry, gut a little carried away..."
Sunny Day however asked excitedly, "Can you do eighties rock on that thing?!"
"Maybe, been a while since I've done requests. Did we win?"
Princess Luna spoke. "We did not lose. And that tis a better outcome than we had hoped for. While your, creative tactics, did indeed halt the enemy's advance, the final outcome was yet undecided... while it means there is now a greater threat to their plans than ourselves, we fear for whoever has drawn the full attention of the Crawling Chaos."
The group panted and collapsed. "Ugh...true...but...at least we didn't die," Flash pointed out. "And considering we were fighting an army of alien monsters, I consider that a win in my book."
Luna smiled. "...Thank you, my little ponies...what you've done was certainly worthy of a rest, at least for a few moments."
Sunny Day sighed, putting down the bow. "'Tabloid Reporter, Protective Mother, Royal Guard, And Princess Luna Fend Off A Horde Of Eldritch Abominations Out Of Hoofcraft...' even making it sound like a tabloid article title doesn't make that easier to believe."
Golden Tiara nodded. "If I didn't know for sure I was sane, I'd assume I'd gone crazy again."
"The boys back home are never going to believe this," Flash said. 'Not that they probably would any of what's happened to me.'
The group laughed as Princess Luna quietly collected the holy weapons again. She smiled as she felt her room become just lightly cold, like an icy wind passing through it.
However, before the group could rest much longer, Philomena called and pointed in a direction.
"Huh?" Flash asked. "Timmy's caught in a well?"
Philomena facewinged and pointed to the sun with her other wing.
Luna blinked. "...She wants us to save my sister."
Flash gave a sigh. "...Didn't think it'd be that easy...But we've saved one Princess, why not make it a double?"
The other two didn't need to question it. Saving their beloved solar diarch from herself? What was there to question?
"But how are going to find the way without Triangle Crown?" Golden Tiara asked.
Philomena squawked and pointed a wing to herself.
"Just as 'Triangle Crown' could lead you to me through distorted space, Philomena can lead us to my sister!"
"Works for me!" Flash Sentry said, "How about we get movin' in case the monsters decide to come back! Uh! That is!" Guard Flash Sentry bowed. "By your command Your Nightjesty!"
"Very well! Let us save our sister!"
The herd ran to the doorway after Philomena...and found a pack of wolf-ponies and extra-large-fanged bat ponies waiting in the hallway.
The group prepared for battle...until The Night Princess stepped forwards, causing the monsters to bow and part.
"Uh..." Flash said in confusion.
"I believe the stories said 'Nightmare Moon' was their queen..." Sunny Day admitted.
"Tis odd, we thought wolves were Fate's domain..." Luna muttered. "Let us not tarry!"
The foals and Apples and dog emerged from the apple cellar. The bright colors were all as they were supposed to be and it made Apple Bloom more happy than she thought it could! The farm now had bright light and shading like the ponies, but to Apple Bloom it looked like the farm was now somehow MORE the farm than when she left it that morning when this all began, like when Scootaloo freed Cheerilee. There were no whips, the cows were spreading gossip, the sheep were debating philosophy and the weather, and were all looking very much alive. And best of all, unafraid of the ponies.
The littlest Apple smiled, tasting the air and smelling the breeze and feeling the dirt beneath her hooves. She might not have been fantastic with Earth Pony magic, but it felt so much more alive.
She breathed in, taking a moment to drink it all in. All that was left now was to head for the World Tower, and use the printing press to fix this evil curse once and for all.
Apple Bloom's heart felt so light.
And she couldn't wait to weight herself down with a mountain of apple treats from the kitchen! Haha!
Her friends all smiled with an inner light all her own.
Sweetie Belle's eye dilated. She was quivering.
"Applejack! Big Mac!" Sweetie Belle shouted. "Get the cows and sheep inside the storm cellar! And Winona too! And Granny Smith! Stay inside until we're gone!" The mare and stallion looked at her stunned. "NOW!"
A black storm cloud twisted into being above them, the spurs looking like tendrils, it spread until it covered the whole blue sky. Thunder rumbled. A terrible chill wind began to blow.
The clouds felt like they they'd feel right in any of the other bubbles but were just WRONG in this one. They weren't the pink color of the rest of the corrupted world, but they didn't have to be to FEEL like all those bubbles mixed together.
Winona snarled at the clouds and barked a warning.
"Big Mac, you and Winona do as Sweetie says! Ah'll be along in a bit! Hurry! Ain't no time to explain!"
"... Come on, Winona!" The dog barked and followed the red stallion.
Applejack then added under her breath. "... if Ah'm able."
"Applejack you have to go too!" Sweetie warned. "You can't fight this!"
"... No." Applejack said stubbornly.
"Sweetie! Talk to us! What's coming?!" Scootaloo asked. "If it's something nasty we need to run for it or Apple Bloom's farm could be toast!"
"He's already here," Sweetie said. "He was the moment I felt it."
"Who?!" Apple Bloom asked. Then shuddered. "D-Discord?"
Sweetie shook her head.
"You microscopic moral busy bodies! How dare you violate my masterpieces!" Came the booming voice from inside the storm, no, it WAS the storm speaking!
A red light like an eye formed in the center of the terrible storm.
"I know that voice," Sweetie Belle whispered.
"Umbra Breeze," Scootaloo said.
"These childish games are OVER! And so are you." The Black Storm boomed.
Button Mash hugged Sweetie Belle, sword in his mouth and her horn glowing. Scootaloo and Apple Bloom ground their teeth and braced themselves.
Apple Bloom now knew how Sweetie Belle had felt with Rarity at Abandon's appearance. Applejack calmly looked up at the terrible tempest.
"Ya hurt my friends, my family, my home, and ya made it so Ah couldn't protect my baby sister who's still in buckin' grade school... get lost while ya still can."
To Be Continued...