Fallen Rainbow Dash, Nightmare Manacle, Princess Loyalty, or whatever the heck ya wanna call me... I know all about kicking flank... but after all this time I still haven’t quite figured out what I've been fighting for. My friends? The Scootaloos? Ponyville's refugees? Twilight's TRUE golden world? Loyalty is complicated. You can't expect easy answers. And Fauna Luster didn't have time tah teach me what it means to BE Loyalty instead of just loyal. Maybe what I've been asking myself is, 'Who am I supposed to be loyal to?' My ex-Nightmare friends? My Twilight? This world and its ponies? ... If I leave Shining Armor and the Half-Lights as they are, am I betraying my Twilight? If I put them back together, am I betraying my Twilight's wishes AND them?
"Rainbow Dash... " I looked at Razzaroo. "Now that... uh... you've calmed down... and... you want to listen... I... I think I have something for you."
She took out an old cowboy hat. I gasped and snatched it with my magic and pulled it towards me.
And.... AJ's voice echoed through my head... her thoughts... I felt... I felt as she felt her soul being shattered... but... she wasn't afraid.
'Dash... Ah don't know ya'll ever hear these thoughts of mine or not. Ah'm about to do somethin' crazy to save Applejack, Apple Bloom, the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle. Here's hopin' it works. Dash, stop this nonsense here and now. All this is gonna do is make a lotta ponies unhappy, including you! Ah'm sorry Ah didn't tell ya sooner... yer my FRIEND, RD! And Ah didn't want to lose that friendship by tellin' ya this truth! Discord knock to his senses and our friendship are the only good things that came out of Nightmare Dusk's mess. Point is... just stop. Ah know ya think this'll help ya move on... it won't, NOT like this! Ya can't FORCE these things, Dash! Sorry Ah have ta go. But it's to save the world. At least this world's Applejack helped me along to call myself an Apple again before the end, so ya owe her! Ah'll always love ya as my friend, and Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Spike! Be the pony, the goddess, the Alicorn Twili' wanted you to be. Ah believe in ya doin' the right thing RD if ya just see clearly. That's my final truth. See ya 'round, Rainbow.'
That was it.
The Shadowbolt looked as stunned and bewildered at me... so many Rainbow Dashes BEFORE I ever came along... and I carried their heart...so many that got erased AFTER me... and the Rainbow carrying their heart was helped beat us and saved the world.
So many what-ifs, so many things I'd change, so many things I could change, so many things I couldn't change... And I could change ONE OF THEM right here and now... I could finally FIX one of those unfairnesses ... I... just needed to betray... not what made 'Rainbow Dash', Rainbow Dash... betray what made Rainbow Dash a pony WORTH being a pony... what made a real friend.
"...I can't do it." Princess Fidelitas admitted in her heart of hearts and the world. "It's not worth it, Applejack, that's my answer...No regrets. That was then. This is now."
And it was like a hundred thousand weights fell away from her at once.
Rainbow Dash exploded twice.
The first explosion wiped away the shadows of existence, the runes, the shackles, and the chain barrier. Whether the shadows were washed away or washed into her no pony could tell.
Then Applejack saw them. A pink mare with blue hair with a two light bolt cutie mark. The FIRST General Firefly. A unicorn mare with a rainbow mane, wearing a small set of glasses and a white coat. A beautiful earth pony with an absolutely dashing mane and darling grace. And... a familiar tomboy pegasus. They hugged each other.
And the second explosion happened. Her twisted, broken 'snake eating its own tail' Element of Loyalty shattered, then was reabsorbed into her entire body. When the smoke cleared... they didn't see Rainbow Dash... they saw a white 'statue' of an Alicorn, that Applejack realized looked like it was made up of white hands.
She also saw a small herd of foals in mourning dress, politely bowing and backing away. The 'statue's' 'skin' shattered.
Her long rainbow mane shined and shimmered like it was a literal rainbow rather than just hair, moving in an unseen wind. Her coat gleamed like the blue sky. The centers of her eyes were color of prefect ruby-rose. Her figure and stature were those of a true Alicorn Princess. Her wings shined with a silver lining.
Her barding was golden, and her horseshoes shaped like Roam-Mare wrappings even if they were solid metal and had a lightning bolt pattern to them. Her peytral vaguely resembled a Roam-Mare's barding, a prism jewel at its center, with a circle on of tinier stones on either side. Her wings were edged with gold armor. Her golden crown, had no less than seven jewels set into it, each a different color, shaped like a bolt, and with a winglet on each side. All in all it was much more elaborate than the average princess.
Her cutie mark was a single lightning bolt with no clouds, but it was composed of the seven different parts of the rainbow.
"All Concepts carry two conflicting sides to them," she spoke in understanding. "That balance is what separates us from the Nightmares. I'm both the idea of loyalty, and the idea of breaking cycles: Tarot Of The Ace Of Swords."
Princess Fidelitas Moksha Equestria.
"And so you pass."
"You did it, my little light in the dark." Maud Pie gave the ghost of a smile.
"Maud, why'd you say that?" Pinkie Pie asked.
"... I don't know."
"Razzaroo?" Princess Fidelitas looked around. None of the ponies, firebird, nor wishing star spoke, it was like they were only witnesses now to a grand event. Out of Princess Fidelitas' shadow came another Razzaroo... Except this Razzaroo had a star behind her present cutie mark. The first Razzaroo gasped, staring in shock.
"You've passed your Trial. You are no Devil, no Fallen Alicorn, and no Demi-Fiend either, you are a Concept." The other Razzaroo tossed aside the executioner's scythe only now Princess Fidelitas realized she'd been holding.
"Yes... I understand!" Princess Fidelitas said in awe of herself. "Even if I can't forget the lives I ended. I should never forget the lives I've saved."
"You truly are a goddess of breaking cycles. Your finally broke your own cycle with Nightmare Eclipse."
Princess Fidelitas looked to everycreature present, then quickly hugged the Half-Lights, Pewee, and Applejack, the flew down and hugged the bewildered Starlight and the native Razzaroo.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You guys are the reason I could pass my Trial! Oh! Oh! I guess I outta explain! Wait! Should I wait until my friends get here?"
"Wait until what?" asked a perky pink voice.
The ponies looked up to see Spike flying down, down to his more manageable adult dragon size rather than his Ryujin mountain-size, carrying Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy in his claws. Only now the ponies looked to see 'Mt. Spike' was no longer there.
Another verbal bedlam followed as the ex-Nightmare tried to take in every sight. Namely;
-Starlight was missing her wings and now had a glowing gold scythe.
-There were two Razzaroos with the one next to Rainbow having a star on her cutie mark.
-The spell runes were gone.
-The Half Light were free and up and about.
-And Rainbow Dash had transformed, looking more like a princess.
"Dashie! Did the cute Mommy Celestia rumor get you?" "Oh! Oh my! Starlight your wings." "Isn't there a rule about two versions of the same goddess meeting or something?" "R-Rainbow, what happened to the runes, where's Twilight?"
It took five or ten minutes to explain everything up to what had happened before the ex-Nightmares arrived not even getting to what Princess Fidelitas ACTUALLY wanted to explain to her friends. Then Princess Fidelitas dropped the bomb shell on her friends.
"... Well..." Pinkie Pie said calmly. Then practically melted in place. Scratch that, she LITERALLY melted (this was Alicorn Pinkie Pie). "THAT'S a relief! Thank goodness that's over! I'm never being so careless with Pinkie Pie Promises ever again, Cross My Heart Hope to Fly Stick a cupcake in my eye. AND YIPPIE, DASHIE! YER A GODDESS! I HAVE SO GOT TO MAKE A GIGA-SUPREME-DIVINE PARTY FOR THIS!!! And we didn't need to erase anypony again! Yippie! We are better! We're free!"
"We dodged a bullet on that one. Applejack, Razzaroo, Starlight-" Spike the dragon bowed his giant head at them. "-thank you! I'm happy SOMEPONY got Rainbow Dash to listen to reason!"
"It's the only thing Ah COULD do. Somepony had to make sure she was bein' true tah herself after all," Applejack said proudly, smiling at the giant dragon. "Nice to meetcha for the first time, Spike."
"A pleasure to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too, Jackie!" Pinkie Pie hopped.
Some soft sobs stopped the chatting. They saw... Fluttershy was crying. "I... I don't understand... we didn't get Twilight back but..." The alicorn shook her head in confusion. "I feel happy somehow."
Applejack flew up and placed a hoof on Fluttershy's shoulder. "Because ya didn't want Rainbow to do somethin' this awful. Ya wanted Twilight back, but you were hopin' it wouldn't actually happen... because yer way too kind to see this happen to the sisters or Shinin' Armor."
"We're sure taking this whole, 'we almost got deader than dead' thing pretty calmly," Noon observed looking at her sisters.
"Everything worked out, that's a reason to be happy," Dusk said.
"If you can call it that."
"I choose to," Dusk said.
"I'm just happy that Brother Shining Armor wasn't made to go away forever," Dawn said, nuzzling the still sleeping unicorn.
"Somepony outta take him back to Cadence before she wakes up," Noon said.
"ON IT!" Pinkie Pie said. At Pinkie Pie speed she took the unicorn, zipped to the Rainbow Falls bubble, put him back in bed, ate the fake letter on the desk (it tasted like blueberries), and brought back the life-sized Shining Armor plushie. "For you Dashie!"
"Uh... I think I'm over that, thanks."
"Okay!" Pinkie Pie hugged the life size plush toy instead. "All's well that ends well!" Pinkie then promptly hugged Star Razzaroo. HER Razzaroo. "Hi, Razzaroo!"
"Hi, Pinkie!" Star Razzaroo replied.
"I'm so happy you came!"
"I couldn't help if I just waited my turn." Razzaroo hugged her back.
"...I'm so glad we're still meeting as, as friends."
Star Razzaroo returned the hug. "So am I, Pinkie Pie....Yes, yes, yes!"
Fluttershy told Starlight. "I'm sorry you had to lose your wings... does this mean they're gone forever?"
Starlight thought. "I don't know... I think Death would let me back in if I asked. I know Slipknot will go on for as long as I want. But I... I feel like I'm free... like I've paid my share... I never actually kept track of many souls I've helped ... but I just feel like the weight’s been lifted off me now."
Peewee fluttered down to Starlight, looking up at her, then at the Half-Lights, then back at Starlight.
"And it looks like Slipknot and I have someone new to take care of," she managed to smile.
The star-marked Razzaroo asked her double. "Nothing to say? Nothing to ask? I have so much I could tell you. So much I could share with you."
"I know." Razzaroo nodded. "But... it doesn't feel so important anymore... I have to find those answers on my own if they're going to count."
"Well, -I- have a question," Twinkle Wish said. "Is it my fate to get stuck to Razzaroo's flank? We're close, but I don't want to be THAT close forever!"
"... Every concept needs their angel."
"Oh, okay then, that works for me! So are you a goddess yet?"
"It's against the rules for two versions of the same goddess to meet because it can damage reality. Thankfully I can cheat since this is the reflections world, not the mortal world."
"Come on Dashie! Get with the exposition, I mean big reveal! What's the big thing you wanted to explain?" Pinkie Pie hopped, fluttering her wings, her horn giving off fireworks.
Princess Fidelitas took in a deep breath, and slowly let it out. "Turns out my Trial never stopped. My entire Trial was what we did here. I passed by choosing NOT to blend Shining Armor and the Half-Lights together."
"That's the Trial Fauna Luster picked for you?" Fluttershy asked.
"No," said Princess Fidelitas. "I chose it for myself. The moment I entered Fauna Luster, this was the test I made for myself, even if I wasn't consciously aware of it."
"And I was on standby to make sure she didn't hurt anyone in case she fail. No offense, Fidelitas," Said star-Razzaroo.
"Were you really hanging out in my shadow the whole time?"
"I had to. I can't predict the future, I couldn't be sure when you'd make the choice. Whether I liked it or not."
"... Thank you. I almost destroyed Twilight's family... Seriously, thank you."
"Do you have any regrets?"
"I don't feel any." The Concept stood proudly.
"How does it feel to be free of your regrets?"
"... I was afraid I was going to be empty without them, that I'd have no heart, but instead I feel more whole WITH them gone. And I'm glad I can still feel GUILT...which feels weird, but not bad at all. Funny how things work out, isn't it?"
"Do you understand WHY you had to let go of your regrets, and your grudges to become a concept?"
"... If we felt regret, we'd screw up the universe trying to 'undo all our mistakes.' I had to face this choice to be free. And as for grudges... I've seen already that grudges don't just hurt those you hate. And it just makes it harder for those who are genuinely trying to make amends."
Razzaroo looked at Starlight.
"Do you understand WHAT you are now? At last?"
"My concept, my domain, my IDEA isn't just breaking cycles. It's also loyalty. The concepts all have yin-yang traits. That's what it means to be free. ... I am not an entity, not anymore, I'm a force, a law, I am a concept."
=Zoids Chaotic Century 'Final Ending Credits' (Japanese)=
"Little ponies, I present to you, Concept of loyal and breaking cycles. Tarot Of The Ace Of Swords. Princess Fidelitas Moksha Equestria!"
The assembled ponies, star, and bird applauded and stamped their hooves.
"By the way, girls," Princess Fidelitas said. "Fauna Luster already pardoned us for all the pain given to her. The pain given to her children is another barrel of fish, but in light of our selfless and tireless work here to protect the good and oppose evil, our punishment is we aren't allowed to leave our own universe or plane of existence until we finished building it."
"Well... that's a lot nicer than I thought we'd get! I figured banished into oblivion at most!" Pinkie Pie joked.
"She really is the goddess of ponies," Spike said.
"I hope I'm still allowed to take care of Flutternice."
"You are, don't worry."
Star Razzaroo smiled. "She's waiting for you too, Fluttershy. Yes yes yes!"
"Oh, thank Celestia." Fluttershy looked up to the trio of Interviewers. "I'm sorry...The only reason any of this happened was me...I'm sorry I wanted to turn you back into Twilight too...I was just so..."
The trio flew, leapt, and teleported right to the mare and hugged her. "We forgave you before we were even born," Dawn replied happily.
Fluttershy cried again, this time laughing and eagerly hugged back.
"I want to apologize too." Princess Fidelitas flew down and bowed her head. "Twilight was a friend I loved dearly. But there's selfless love, and there's selfish love, and Rainbow Dash was experiencing way too much for the latter, and it almost destroy you, AND Shining Armor. I'd have done something that can't be forgiven. I have no regrets, but I apologize."
Noon gave Fidelitas a swat on the cheek with her wings. Then Noon grinned. "Apology accepted."
Fidelitas grinned back. "Thanks!" They high hoofed.
Applejack flew up so she was eye level with Banneret. "So...yah saved Rarity?"
The massive drake nodded. "Yeah...kicked Abandon into the dirt...just seeing him violate Rarity like he did...how he wanted to..."
"Ah know how yah feel. It's why Ah literally kicked Nythy's sorry flank out of the universe!" Truth replied. "...Thank you."
"You're welcome...sorry for the whole...this."
"All's forgiven." The mare smiled.
"Thank you Applejack. How I acted, makes me feel like-" The dragon shrank down, to pint size, his wings vanishing and his neck shortening. "-I'm still the assistant doing whatever he's told," the baby dragon said in his young voice.
The farm Alicorn narrowed her eyes. "No sad face right now, ya hear?" Applejack spread her wings letting Spike look into them. "What do yah see?"
Little Spike stared at himself. "...A Ryujin... who chose to swallow his pride to do the right thing."
Veritas hugged him, forelegs and wings. "There yah go, that's the truth." Spike grew back to his adult size and hugged Applejack with a pinky claw.
The former reaper turned to see Razzaroo trot up. "Yes, Razzaroo?"
"...Thanks for being my friend...my pony friend, even Twinkle Wish has other friends who are stars. No offense Twinkle Wish."
"None taken. You should meet Polaris some time, he knew Magic Star. He's been wanting to meet the ghost-pony I'm friends of a friend with."
Starlight smiled. "Maybe it's about time I did." The three hugged. "...Razzaroo, you're the only pony from our creation I've ever gotten to know personally in the flesh outside of that trial... we wanted to give you everything but instead you lost everyone. My friends had moved on, being your friend was the only I could give you from myself and them. I'm only happy it could make your life a little bit better."
"And what is it that YOU want Starlight Angel?" Twinkle Wish suddenly asked.
Starlight was silent for a minute and looked off into the distance. "...That somepony would finally show that mare who took my name...that she doesn't have to be so afraid to let anypony in and she doesn't have to do what she's doing...She reminds me of me and colts: until I died, I was so hurt I refused to let any of them in...so afraid of getting hurt... I wanted to 'fix' the world... so I wish... that somepony show her the light before it's too late."
Razzaroo opened a book and wrote down a note. "I'll get on that...might take awhile, yes yes yes."
Starlight hugged her. "That's enough for me, ponies don't change overnight."
"Girls. And Spike," Princess Fidelitas said, loud and clear as she landed on top of the tree. "I just want to say, I'm sorry I roped you all into this. I was only thinking about Twilight. "
"RD, we did all this with ya of our own free will. Yer sorry, ya stop before ya did anythin' that can't be undone, and yer gonna take your medicine like a mare, that's enough," Princess Veritas said. "Think Scoots wants you to beat yourself up?"
Princess Fidelitas wiped a tear from her eye. "Thanks, AJ."
The others all cheered as the two hugged. Granfalloon gave Dawn a few Pinkie Pie exclusive horsey rides. Twinkle Wish decided to entertain the firebird chick with stories of other stars she knew (especially some in the Phoenix constellation). And Princess Fidelitas turned to the three mares she’d tried to kill.
"Dawn, Noon, Dusk... please, tell me about Princess Amicitia."
Applejack turned to see Starlight. "Howdy. Good tah fight alongside yah."
"Same here...By the way...I've got a message for you...one I didn't think I'd be able to give you unless you had a near death experience."
Applejack blinked. "Yeah?"
"They're proud of you."
"Your parents...and so are Sweetheart and Applejack the First," the former Reaper gave a smile. "They told me if I ever got the chance to talk to you before them...to tell you they're proud of you. Apple Bloom and Big Mac too...they love you all, Applejack."
Applejack was silent for a few moments. "...Thank yah...So...what's Heaven like?"
"...I haven't integrated, only see and touch ... you have to see it for yourself to really know," Starlight replied, giving a smile. "But it doesn't look a thing like the StableMark cards. If I had to put it to words...imagine the best place you can with everything important to you whether you know it or not...then multiply it by infinity. I think cause we're good-hearted is WHY it's paradise for us. Your parents made it. And Applejack, about what you learned about Sweetheart from Crawling Chaos-"
"She's still a saint to me. She spent her whole life helpin' sick ponies and died helpin' 'em. That's what makes 'er a saint in my book."
Starlight hugged her. "She'll be happy to hear that!"
While everypony knew what was going to come next, no pony was really in a hurry. Now that disaster was adverted, Applejack wanted to get back to Apple Bloom... she knew what everypony would still see her as good old AJ... but now that the adrenaline rush had worn off and the power high from her ascension long behind her, thinking about going back into the fog was choking... it wasn't like Nightmare Whisper's fog... not in the least.
And as fate would have it, then again, even Fate herself may not have had a hoof in what happened. Fluttershy nuzzled each of the Half-Lights, and they nuzzled her in return. At the same time, The Princess, and Applejack gave each other a bro-hoof and a hug, the latter panting a bit.
Fluttershy looked into the Half-Light's eyes, Twilight as a filly, a mare, and an old pony... not anymore, they were their own ponies.
And The Princess looked into Applejack’s eyes. And sighed "It's a little bit creepy ya know, don't take it the wrong way. I know you have her memories, her magic, her point of view... but I know you're not my Applejack."
"Reminds ya too much of Twilight and Nightmare Dusk?"
The Princess nodded. "Sorry, AJ... we just met and you've already been a true true friend."
"But no two friends can ever be exactly alike... and they shouldn't be, at that," Applejack said placing a hoof on her shoulder. "Ah just wish she could be here too."
And Fluttershy said at the same time. "I...I still wish there was a way you and Twilight could somehow both exist without one of you having to stop...I'm...I'm not going to TRY, I just...wish, you know?"
Twinkle Wish glowed. The native Razzaroo gasped.
The image of Zipzee and the Earth Pony Rainbow Dash for a moment overlapped with those of their current selves... Twinkle Wish shot a light into the reflected sky that released a fireworks-like blast that rained down little stars.
"Wish . . . Granted," Twinkle Wish stated.
Then the stars all shot into the native Razzaoo, who lifted off the ground, her eyes glowing white... then a ghostly image of a horn and wings appeared on her. Her mane and tail began to sway like they were blowing on an unfelt wind, but a ghostly image of a much longer, glimmering mane and tail overlapping her own.
"Concepts live outside of time... we do not kneel to past, present, or future... time is an ocean, and we trot upon its waves..." Her voice echoed. "Wishes and miracles are timeless... and so am I... I remember the wishes I granted... before the first wishes I granted... that I granted after the first wishes I granted...Yes, yes, yes!"
The glowing Razzaroo set down on all fours, the ghostly wings and horn shining bright.
"I am, Princess Jiniri Miraculum Ponyland. Tarot Nine of Cups. Alicorn of Miracles and Wishes. I remember when I was touched by who I am now. Nice to see you all again."
"WAIT! You really CAN bring Twilight back?!" Fluttershy gasped, daring to hope.
"Not how you're thinking, no ... But I can give something else you REALLY wished for... both of you." She looked at Fluttershy and Applejack. "Your redemption."
If Rainbow Dash's ascension to Alicornhood had left everypony speechless and still, this struck all the world silent. Starlight was her knees and bowing, as a loyal Reaper would even if she'd shed her powers, eons of training and discipline didn't vanish. Twinkle Wish did the same, but remaining by her side. She WAS her angel after all.
Peewee acted like a statue. Spike and Pinkie were just witnessed.
Star Razzaroo... merely bowed and took several steps back, keeping her eyes to the ground, making sure NOT to make eye contact or to touch the native Razzaroo physically or magically.
"Wishes are belief given form, miracles are faith at work."
"Wait a second... I know what this is!" Princess Fidelitas gasped.
"Then you understand WHY this couldn't be done before?" Razzaroo asked, in a wiser and more experienced tone.
"... I wouldn't have ACCEPTED it before if you'd hoofed it to me on a silver platter. I had to let go to have." Princess Fidelitas bowed her head. "I was selfish and I admit that."
"Uh... won't you get in trouble for granting wishes for ponies from other universes?" Fluttershy asked. "Union rules or something?"
"Applejack is a native of this world. And so is Shining Armor... so his sisters and the soul she became one with are intertwined with this world's fate... it's a loop hole combined with the liquid state of the world... But first... could somepony fetch Shining Armor?"
"Oh right!" Pinkie Pie rolled her eyes in annoyance, did her low key reality twisting, replaced the plushie for Shining Armor again, thankfully Cadence wasn't awake yet... and brought back the still sleeping stallion. Good thing she was an Alicorn or doing all this might make her tired... maybe, she's Pinkie Pie, though she hadn't had her recommended daily dosage of sugar yet.
= Sweet Sweet Sweet - Sonic Hedgehog 2 =
Noon asked. "Okay, somepony fill US in, what's the cosmic mumbo jumbo that's 'kinda sorta' going to bring back mom?"
The Half-Light looked at each other bewildered and unsure.
"Your universe must have a concept of magic, that's simply a fact of reality... you were born from her, and so was Shining Armor... " She looked at Star Razzaroo, also making sure not to make eye contact. "In a world where Spike was... ahem.... made to fill in for Rarity for a time when they lost her... a wish was able to give part of his essence to birth a Rarity with the love he'd forged with Rarity's kith and kin so both could continue on... something akin happened with Nightmare Mirror ... they wished to be able to move on but for their loved ones not to lose the one they held dear... Fair warning... it hurts like The Bad Place."
"She's tellin' the truth," AJ said.
"She means it hurts like Pony Hell," Spike said unconsciously touching his chest.
"Will you help grant Princess Fidelitas' wish the right now?"
The Half-Lights nodded without hesitation.
"What about Shining?" Dawn asked.
"These are things he is better off NOT knowing, and he's been hit with more cosmic secrets than anypony ever should," Dusk said. "But I KNOW that he'd agree to this... because if he didn't... he wouldn't BE Shining Armor."
"That's true too," AJ said, looking at the sleeping stallion with her wings extended.
"Then I'll grant The Princess' wish."
"WAIT!!!" Princess Fidelitas shouted. "If you're doing what I think you're doing... then... she'll need a body to live in... or she'll be just born a ghost. Just like... our Twilight... could never enter the mortal universe without a vessel... There's... there's something we've been kinda keeping in cold storage... and... I kinda think it's time to put it good use... Spike... take out, IT."
"What's that issue of Superstallion got to do-"
"THE OTHER ‘IT!’"
"... Oh... OH! You sure?"
"... It's for a good cause. About time it did some good."
"Alright." Spike breathed his green fire... and materialized...
"NIGHTMARE ECLIPSE?!" Several ponies gasped.
A large dark purple Alicorn body with a flaming mane lay on the ground in white armor, empty and staring at nothing. Reaper powers or not, Starlight still knew souls... and this body was alive... but was just an empty husk. Kept on magical life support. From her perspective, it was like looking at an intact home who's family had abandoned it.
"What's going on!?" Starlight demanded, and knew the native Razz' would too if she was herself at the moment.
"... Our Twilight... did a Princess Luna... she kinda was using an avatar, kinda... when she got knocked back to her senses... we kinda... well, she had her body magical set to be on life support until her spirit came back... looks like it's time. She never came back for it after she came to her senses."
AJ gave The Princess a glare, since the avatar part didn't NEARLY do what happened justice (she prayed Wind Whistler could rest in peace knowing her poor body wasn't going to be used by another monster), but unlike Nightmare Mirror, kept her trap shut.
"Uh... " Pinkie dared speak. "Is it SAFE to put her in a mare's body?"
"Let me worry about that," Razzaroo said.
Applejack trotted over and looked the living body in the eye with both her own eyes and her wings. "There aren't any nasty 'in case Ah lost while Ah ain't home' curses on it."
"We could have told you that," Noon said flatly. She looked at Starlight. "Alright let's do this," Noon said. None of the Half-Lights looked happy to see the hollow shell body of their dead mother at he worst right before them. "Hey Flutters, keep BBBFF in Dream land okay? Closest thing to anesthesia we got."
Fluttershy squeaked, nodded, and summoned her fog around Shining, trying not to look at the empty body.
Razzaroo summoned her scythe... and struck all four in one motion before they could react. Shining yelled the loudest, though his eyes stayed closed as he hit Dusk in the head out of reaction.
He'd later wonder why he'd dreamed of being a mare getting a c-section and consider it weird even by his quite broad standards.
"Soul surgery!" Razzaroo boomed.
Lights of different colors streamed out of all four ponies... coming together on their own... like shards of a shattered glass statues finding their way back to each other. Unlike what Nythy had tried to do to Applejack, this looked far more refined and beautiful.
-Xenogears - Small Two of Pieces Restored-
The light glowed larger and brighter, pieces of crystal rainbow raining towards a single point as they bled from the siblings. The shards took on the shape of Twilight Sparkle's cutie mark... The image of Twilight the First, Clover, Minty, and Twilight Sparkle hugging each other as ghosts was visible for a moment... and the light slowly began to sink into the body... Then show a bajillion Twilights hugging.
The Princess of Loyalty gasped as one briefly floated off and looked at her.
"Twilight...I'm sorry..." she managed to gasp out. "I forgot what I was fighting for..."
The Twilight nuzzled her. "It's okay, Rain'...I forgive you."
The new Princess didn't bother holding back tears as the specter rejoined the collective hug, filling in the last puzzle piece.
Shining Armor would also wonder why he dreamed of his baby sister exploding, but being perfectly unharmed after she blew up the house... at least that dream made sense.
The explosion of light, magic, and power knocked everypony, star and bird off their feet, sans either Razzaroo.
Nightmare Eclipse's armor lay in shattered pieces like Luna's old barding as Nightmare Moon. The body didn't turn to ash like Chrysalis' had, instead, it went through its life in reverse, the wings and earth pony strength fading as it entered foalhood, then went further... until it became a newborn pony.
There was a faint glow of magic... and a diaper appeared on her bearing her symbol along with a similarly personalized pacifier. A blanket formed and wrapped around the sleeping infant unicorn. Nopony had seen if she already had her cutie mark or not.
"I give you the newborn goddess of friendship."
There were large comical 'white x' bandages on the bellies of Shining Armor, and the Half-Lights.
"Uh, how is he going to explain that to Cadence?" Pinkie asked.
"Knowin' Shinin', he'll just roll with it," Applejack admitted. "His life's pretty darn weird anyway."
Dawn inched towards the sleeping foal, then gently scooped her up. "Her name... is Half-Light Midnight."
Nopony challenged her.
Rainbow Dash trotted over and smiled down at her. "...She's cute..."
"Spike," Dusk said. "... You should raise her."
The dragon was thrown loopy. "ME?! ME!? I can't! I'd be terrible! I'd fail right away! I'd-"
"Ya practically fed, washed, and changed Twilight long after she stopped feeding, washing and changing you!" Noon declared.
While there had been jokes about Angel taking more care of Fluttershy than vice versa, it was generally agreed that taking care of Twilight, had ironically fallen upon Spike more often than not.
Without fear or hesitation, and kissing the baby on the forehead, she placed the infant into Spike's giant claws. The dragon managed to be as gentle as any parent would despite the massive size difference.
"She never has been, nor ever will be your Twilight Sparkle... Understand that. She is her own pony. She is your redemption," Razzaroo said.
"Don't worry, that I understand now," The Alicorn of Loyalty and Ending Loops said.
Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy flew up to Spike's claws to look at the filly, so did Rainbow.
"She IS so cute!" Fluttershy exclaimed, excitedly as one would expect.
"Don't worry... Midnight... I'll make yer grandma proud," Spike said.
"She'll make great friends with Flutternice! I'll give her a zero birthday party when we get home! We can have it with Flutternice's cute-ceañera," Pinkie Pie cheered.
The Princess of Loyalty smiled, feeling content at the sight of the infant foal.
"I promise to help too Spike," Fluttershy said, her redemption had found her.
Starlight just stared, sitting on her rump, and so did Peewee... "I've witnessed the birth of a goddess... I think I'm the first mortal soul ever to do that... wait till I tell the girls back home. Melody isn't going to believe this."
Razzaroo slowly turned towards Applejack. "Are you ready?"
"As ready as Ah'm gonna get. Ah had Apple Mirror's memories of other ya doin' this before... yer right about how painful it is."
"Are you sure? You'll have to give up what she gave you. Everything. Your sister needs all the help she can get to save the world."
"A mortal Alicorn of Truth can't recharge in a world of lies, and Ah've given 'er all Ah've got already ...So hurry up and do it before Ah chicken out from bein' turned back into somethin' so small."
Razzaroo nodded. "As you wish."
"By the way."
"Ah just figured out somethin'... The Elders themselves couldn't do this... take the essence out of a concept who absorbed the essence of ANOTHER concept and RESTORE that essence and concept as their own rule, even if they aren't exactly the person who got absorbed... Even the Elders can't restore Destruction and Curris, so they created a goddess who COULD!"
"... So clever for such a silly pony.... and I'm not just granting your wish... I'm granting the other Applejack's as well."
Before Applejack could reply, Razzaroo struck with her scythe, and Applejack screamed her lungs out like a little colt for what felt like the second time.
Applejack felt like she was crushed, halving the larger parts of her stripped away, being somehow PUSHED BACK DOWN... being made something simpler, like she was a 3-D being crushed into a 2-D picture. She felt the wings and horn fade away and had a few moments of phantom limb as she even forgot HOW she'd done much of what she'd done with them... that power, knowledge and skill had been a gift she'd given up to give to another. And now... she felt so small... so terribly small!
All in all, it was an infinitely worse experience than her memories of Nightmare Mirror having part of her essence taken. She blacked out.
Applejack woke up with the bandage on her... and shaking, and hugged herself. "So small... so small... so small... so small."
She felt Fluttershy embrace her with her wings. Applejack slowly calmed down, and pushed her body up. She looked down at herself. Four good legs. They'd gotten her this far... "Ah'll climb up the mountain again, this time, with my own strength...not somethin' that was just given to me... there ain't no short cuts to enlightenment. I'll get those wings and horn back, just you watch."
"I know you will, Applejack," Fluttershy said. "After all, you're the most dependable of ponies, right?"
Then she looked around, and saw an infant Alicorn version of herself. With her Alicorn cutie mark on he diaper and pacifier.
Native-Razzaroo flew to where Rainbow had standing during the battle and retrieved a familiar stetson. "Here's your hat back little one." She flew back and placed the rather oversized hat on the filly's head, it instantly covered her sleeping face.
"Why... why'd she come back as a filly?" The Princess of Loyalty asked confused standing over her like the rest of the ex-nightmares.
"That was her wish." Razzaroo said.
"Ah'm STILL doin' stupid horseapples cause Ah think the pay off is worth it," AJ said to Cadence. "Reset me when Ah get back, pass or not. I want this idea out of my head!" The recorded voice echoed as Star-Razzaroo flipped through the pages of her book.
"Wow! I still owe Celestia and all her family that apology cake!" Pinkie Pie said.
"Wait, where did HER body come from?" Applejack asked.
Razzaroo smiled. "You absorbed it when you transformed, I merely reformed it. I couldn't do that with Midnight because Amicitia's body was used to MAKE their bodies."
"... Ah just hope... this doesn't make Old Nyhty right, 'bout us ponies. Not able to live through anythin' bad."
"Would you WANT to keep borrowed powers and leave Mirror lost JUST TO SPITE HIM?"
"It's ain't that, it just, like it makes it like it never happened."
"She sacrificed everything she was, her beliefs, her personality, her experience, her insight... ask any concept, and resetting is close to death as they can come. The Nightmare Mirror who sacrificed herself STILL sacrificed herself. Apple Mirror is like the Half-Lights... or Kifuko...And like Kifuko, she wasn't a Concept yet. This isn't a simple resurrection, Applejack...think of it as reincarnation. And, it's inspired you to become an Alicorn on your own hasn't it?"
"Ah understand...and..." Applejack said. "Ah've got... Ah think... at least... one bit of her memories..." Her mortal brain was far too small to hold millions of years worth of knowledge and she wasn't a magically enhanced super mutant like Tirek and the Sirens either... Losing those memories was perhaps a greater loss than the wings and horn. "NO! Pinkie Pie! Ya can't be her mama!"
"RD?... Ah know what she'd want... she'd want YA to her mama!"
"Me?..." Princess Fidelitas asked... then looked at the sleeping infant. "... Fine AJ... if that's what you want... I'll raise you to be the honest truth you wanted to be... I promise." She gave the sleeping orange Alicorn a gentle nuzzle.
"Applejack," Native-Razzaroo said, "Before I leave my mortal self... I'll get you back to the real world... I remember that's what I did when I was mortal Razzaroo... so that's what will happen. Self-fulling causality is too confusing for you to NEED to think about right now. I don't know if you reach your sister to help her or not."
"Fine by me." Applejack said determined. "Ah might not be up for another deity brawl, but Ah still got MacGillacuddy and Kicks-McGee tah help with!"
Razzaroo turned to the ex-Nightmares. "And... I remember that I gave all of you a message from Rota Fortuna... you can't do anymore good here thanks to the Rumors Curse created explicitly to target you that hasn't been destroyed yet... your disguises won't protect you anymore now that SHE is watching for you. And as foreign gods, your very presence will damage reality if you enter undisguised anyway, and reality is being stretched to near breaking already. Especially Fluttershy because of what she is now... Rota Fortuna... wants you, and the Half-Lights, and your foals... to leave now and return to your own reality. Without delay. This minute. Both for the sake of this universe...and so if the worst DOES happen another universe doesn't risk having deities negatively affected too. This is what I remember telling all of you."
"Fate never did like us that much," Noon rolled her eyes.
Dawn stammered, looking VERY sad. "But! But I haven't said goodbye to-"
"Now," Razzaroo sighed.
"Hold on," Applejack said. "Just so everypony here is on the same page, what did Fate say?"
"For the Nightmares in body, and the Interviewers, and the my other self... to leave this reality."
"Okay," Applejack said looking at The Princess. "You heard her."
Princess Fidelitas sighed dramatically. "I guess you're right... Applejack... good luck on saving the world."
Dusk was comforting Dawn as the portal opened. Starlight meanwhile took Slipknot and bowed to Razzaroo. "Good luck, I'm just a spirit now... I have no right to be here without my status as a reaper... Good luck to everyone."
"...I hope next time we see this world on Fate-net, it's back to the golden world mom wanted..." Noon said.
Dusk simply nodded. "Have faith in them Noon...like mother did when she made this world."
Peewee and Dawn shared one last hug and kiss. And Peewee flapped to Starlight's shoulders.
The Star-Razzaroo went through the portal first. Followed by the ex-Nightmare Herd, and the Half-Lights.... "See ya around." Princess Fidelitas said as she stepped into the portal's threshold.
Then... Applejack was swept up in a shower of star dust, and into one of the library's windows... which acted as portal ... She found herself in the real world outside Twilight's library... She wished she could stay and chat, or at least tell Twilight she was okay... she also found she had a lantern that chased away the fog at her hooves.
She looked around but saw no pony... until she spotted a cloaked Razzaroo and Twinkle Wish besides her. No glowing ghost horns or wings, only her.
"Hello... that was... I don't know how to describe it... "
"Ah know what ya mean... Why don't you check in Twili'? Ah think ya look like ya need a rest... Me? Ah got a little sister to find...And pleast tell Twili' Ah'm okay fer meh."
Princess Fidelitas' Notes:
Rota Fortuna believes every world line should solve its own problems... which Discord and Diamond Tiara ultimately ARE now that Nythy and his relatives are kaput (and banished from our section of the multiverse for the next eight billion years). Except Dagon, but the seaponies will take care of him then he'll be joining his family in exile.
Rota told the Half-Lights they need to accept this world line needs to solve its own problems, and it has its own Amicitia eventually to look over it. Rota said the universe is nearly tearing itself apart just trying to stay stable and can't support them being here any longer...us either.
Good thing I'm not the element of honesty... I'm not a Nightmare in body, nor am I an Interviewer!
Don't worry, Razzaoo understood, so did my friends. Fluttershy will keep an eye on AJ till I get back. And to honest? I think Fauna Luster WANTS ME HERE. No no no, I don't mean egotistical, it's just... in my gut ya know? My part isn't done here.
I'm a goddess of breaking cycles... I'll break the cycle that started with Morning Star then to Discord, then to Diamond Tiara. Even if I can't help now. I'll help before the end, you can bet on it! Till then, this is the Concept of Loyalty and Breaking Cycles, Tarot Of The Ace Of Swords."
Princess Fidelitas Moksha Equestria.
P.S. (Interviewer's Notes (Noon): Ya wanna know something funny? Rota Fortuna said 'go away'... heh... she didn't say STAY away! HA! See ya later!)