The CMC+3 emerged from the fog wall.
They tilted her heads up, and up, and up, straining their necks.
"That's... a lot of floors," Scootaloo remarked.
"Final dungeons are normally big, but don't worry, I bet we won't have to climb all those levels. I bet we somehow end up skipping a lot of floors on the way up," Button Mash assured.
The World Tower... all the quests, all the facing their friends, big sisters and mentors, bringing them back to themselves... it was all for this. So they could enter. This was it.
It vaguely resembled a pillar, but at the same time, when evenly divided up, made for one nonsensical section after another of… what was that term? Oh right, 'organized chaos.' One section looked like Pegasopolis crammed into a garbage chute and then slid out. The next was a mountain of wooden clockworks, cakes, dolls, spider webs, and chess pieces glued together. Another was blackened bones and skulls the size of houses with glowing eyes carefully arranged to look like a spiral. Another was playing cards of every game imaginable carefully stacked together with Hearth Warming Eve Lights strung about... and they only got stranger from there.
Until, at the very top, was a little happy hamlet with what the foals swore was a theme park with a rollercoaster and a great castle of a house, with one section adored with garish glittering colors, and another lifeless and barren in design in basic white shapes with diamonds glittering from it and another that just look comfortable and cozy. It crossed Daring Do's mind to question how the massive tower was even STANDING, but...well, Discord.
"So..." Scootaloo said. "No more stupid sicko mockeries of everypony, we just fight or sneak our way to the top, write a retraction, and everything is alright."
"Oh no," Button Mash said. "If this is the last dungeon, then we're gonna be facing nasty surprises every five hooves. Be ready for boss rushes. Possibly even of baddies we’ve fought before."
"Expect nasties surprises inside nasty surprises every step of the way," Spike said. “I'm betting clown robot dragon ninjas, if Discord's at the bottom of this.”
"More like top of this," Apple Bloom said looking up.
"... The motel I was staying at was turned into part of the top of the tower... I barely got out alive flying down and away, flying up is suicide. We're going to have to go through the inside."
"So no dungeon skipping here," Button Mash said.
"And I'm guess teleporting is out too," Spike said.
"I'm betting so, yeah," Button answered.
“Plus I don't know how,” Sweetie lamented.
"Be happy that at least we're at full health," Daring Do said.
There was no paved road leading up to the world tower, merely a ring of barren dirt and random rocks, then a ring of apple trees, then a ring of large beautiful gem stone formations, followed by a ring of soft grass and simple flowers, next was a ring of pillars and arches covered in Wonderbolt posters, finally finishing in a ring of bookshelves.
The heroes proceeded cautiously, but nothing tried to stop them or ambush them.
"Be careful. I saw some nasty big guards waiting outside the Tower before," Daring Do warned.
Finally, they came to a tall, unexceptional beige stone wall with no obvious hoof holds or other ways to climb it and was completely smooth on the sides and top in a gentle arc.
And scrawled on the wall was graffiti with message like, 'Celly's Breath Smells!' and 'Lulu Eats Cheese' 'Cadence Plays Roller Derby!' and 'Cadence and Shining Armor will name their first foal something really stupid.'
"Don't try to fly over, you'll just make yourself a target," Daring Do advised, putting a hoof on Scootaloo's shoulder.
The heroes noticed a large iron door nearly as big as the wall, baring Diamond Tiara's symbol, with a face of a pony engraved on it.
"The face is gonna attack us, isn't it?" Scootaloo said.
"You think?" Button replied.
The heroes crept up to the door, and the metal face opened its eyes and spoke.
"If you wish to gain entry to the world tower, present to me three keys from the corners of the world."
Scootaloo's response would have gotten her mouth washed out with soap.
Button Mash looked at the distraught expression on Sweetie Belle's face, and sighed.
Button Mash marched up to the door... and pulled out three keys, each with a skull on it. And began to insert them into the keyholes at the bottom. The metal pony's jaw dropped for a moment.
"CHEATER! CHEATER! You can't use a magic key for an event lock!" The metal pony face shouted.
"There's nothing that says I can't, the item description says 'use to unlock any door' and that's what I'm doing!" Button Mash said determined as he turned the keys to the sound of unlocking, hearing his friends cheer behind him.
"I would have just pounded on the hinges until they came loose, and you fell over, so you're getting off easy." Scootaloo told the face.
"Why do you have THREE skeleton keys?!"
"Didn't know if they were one use items or not," Button Mash said strangely distant as he turned the last key and the solid metal gate swung inward.
The giant door pouted as best it could. “Killjoy...”
Button Mash made a gentlemanly 'after you' gesture at Sweetie Belle.' Smiling, Sweetie made to prance in when she stopped dead in her tracks. The ground under the ponies quivered.
"Button Mash! Look behind you and run!" Scootaloo shouted.
Button did so, and pulled the door closed. “Wait, don't do that! I'll give you candy if you open me back up!”
The heroes made a hasty retreat, the door was slammed off its hinges into the ground face first, as various monsters, all empty constructs, chased after them, literally flooding out of the main gate like blood from a wound, the metal face's muffled complaints lost in the din.
"Draw them out and pick off the front row!" Daring Do shouted.
Timberwolves, giant spider, giant bats, haunted suits of armor, Bloody Hooves, miniature ursas, and various other things came at the poor foals, Spike and Daring Do like moths to a flame.
Button Mash took out his zapper and began blasting monsters even as he ran, then tripped. Sweetie wrenched him back up with her magic and deposited him on Daring Do's back without missing a beat as Button Mash kept shooting. The horde pursued them with reckless abandon, with yet more simply flooding out of the entry door.
Spike breathed fire into the face of a robot dragon ninja, burning its metal flesh and knocking it back. “Called it!”
'Dear, did you put ALL the random encounter monsters behind the front gate?'
"Most of them, Father."
'Perfect! Oh I worked so hard on some of those!'
"Tootsie?” Tootsie looked over through the crystal ball. “Apple Bloom and the others are at the World Tower's outer gate."
"...I... I don't want to fight anymore."
"No pony ever does. But I need a little more time."
"Are... are you sure... all this... is the only way we can free the world from theirthem?"
"It's the only way. Will you help?"
"... Yes... Diamond Tiara."
Tootsie Flute's Diary
I'm... I'm a fan of all the Mare Do Wells... Applejack, Twilight Sparkle, and Pinkie Pie. Fluttershy? Oh right she wore the costume for a fly-by but... I'm sure she counts as a real Mare-Do-Well, since she didn't do any stuff heroic as Mare Do Well. I... I know she's helped as an Element of Harmony... and... I know that... oh right, she admitted she wasn't possessed... well, Princess Luna said she wasn't and... Princess Luna wouldn't lie about that right?
I... I wanted to get an autograph from each of them signed now to my new name, Princess Liza Doolots... I .... I STILL like that name... and I'm still changing to it when I get my cutie mark.
...As I was saying, I wanted to get NEW autographs from all the Mare Do Wells, but... I never got around to it. I was so excited at everything. I was a princess I'd wanted to be ever since Diamond Tiara showed me that world in her magic mirror's reflection in her dream world when she was still recovering from almost being turned to stone.
And I rescued Truffle from being the colt friend of such a heartless filly like Twist... I was so caught up in everything... that I never got around it. No, I never wanted them to sign an autograph in the different colors of their cutie marks and Elements of Harmony.
And there's no time for that now. I was never Truffle's real special-friend. And I'm not a hero. I never was.
And Diamond Tiara... she's told me and Alula the REAL reason she's been doing all of this, what her real... what would Bon-Bon call it? Oh right, 'end game', what her real 'end game' is.
I didn't think anything so horrible could be true, but Diamond Tiara Pinkie Promised it was. And how she was going to save everypony from them. I don't know if she's lying about that part anymore or not . . .
My parents would hate me if they found out what's really happened, and that I helped bring it about. Captain Pipsqueak and the rest of the crew would hate me. Miss Cheerilee and all my classmates would hate me...everypony would hate me...
This is all I have left.
I trot outside on one of the lower levels onto a balcony. I draw my bow, and begin taking sniper shots at Apple Bloom and her friends... PLEASE, Apple Bloom, just turn around and leave! Huh?! Is that, DARING DO!?
"As if we didn't have enough problems!" Scootaloo shouted as familiar energy arrows forced her and her friends to zigzag while a monster horde charged behind her!
"Guess she's feeling better," Sweetie Belle said. No pony needed to guess from whom the arrow shots from high up the Tower were coming from.
"I have a feeling I missed some of the plot here!" Daring Do said.
"YOU AND ME BOTH!" Spike shouted.
Button Mash used a rope to grab a robot clown werewolf and hold it up to block a few arrows when Daring was distracted by that before throwing it back into the monsters.
"And these books belonged to Paradise The Pegasus herself, of Paradise Estate!"
Lickety-Split had no way of knowing that in the original reality, those books sold to his family had been fakes. But now that reality was based on beliefs, not only were the books real, but they had always been real. As such, the preservation magic on them was the only reason they'd not rotted into dust after 5000 years.
"Was Paradise the owner of Paradise Estate?" Twist asked, actually a little curious about the fairytale books. She wondered if Paradise had gone to the south pole herself for these books, they did read, 'Published By Penguin Books Inc.' She wondered what the mysterious 'Random House' was where she'd gotten others according to first pages of the books.
"No, but she was a story-reader for the Baby Ponies. She wasn't as physical as most pegasi, she was in love with fiction, and preferred to take short cuts to keeping the Estate in top shape."
Lickety-Split also had no way to know, that due to a paradox of his family believing themselves to be right and wise in their knowledge of paradise estate, but Megan being from outside their universe, instead of their misconceptions about the Paradise Ponies being made correct, their knowledge changed to suit.
"And as I was reading, 'The giant went boom-boom!'" Just as Lickety-Split said that, the ground began to shake in a swift rhythm.
The ponies all looked at each other and ran to the windows. Outside, they saw suits of armor trotting in perfect lockstep. The armors were obsidian with silver trim, all suited for large stallions. They carried maces, and axes made of the same material and shields with tower emblems. There were sixteen of them, marching in two rows of eight. Their shields and armor were decorated with eight diamonds in a ring pointing outwards like an octagon.
They stopped in front of Lickety-Split's house like clockwork and spoke in a mechanical echo. "Give us Silver Spoon. Or we will destroy you and then take her. So commands the true rulers of the world."
Shiny Star thought, 'Somepony needs to tell these knights opening with a death threat isn't how to begin a request. Let alone imply they have Silver's best interests, and that emblem doesn't belong to any Princess I know.'
Before anypony could stop her, Shiny Star came out. Post Haste was a teenager, the others were foals, but she, herself was an adult. She was trained on dealing with unwanted guests. Big rule she learned from the Riches, make your position sound important enough.
"I am Shiny Star, Seneschal of the Rich Family Co-Founders of Queen Celestia's Granted Town of Ponyville. Who are the 'true rulers' on whose authority you want Silver Spoon?"
"Grand Napkin Discord, and His Princess."
Well, that settled that.
"Where are you taking Silver Spoon? To Minimal Bleach Discord?"
"No. To the other side of the planet."
"Her existence is a threat to the existence of the world."
Shiny Star's jaw dropped. "What does that even mean?!"
"That is not for you to know. You will surrender Silver Spoon, or you and this house and everything in it will be destroyed, and so shall you," the suits of armor replied like they were playing back a recording.
"Silver Spoon! Needs a minute to get ready!"
"Sixty seconds and counting. If she is not outside by that time, you shall be all destroyed. But that was ten seconds ago. 50, 49-"
Shiny Star ran back inside. "Is there a back door?!" she asked.
"They're not going to hurt her, maybe Silver should-"
"Maybe I should," Silver Spoon said, starting towards the door.
"They want you as a PRISONER! A hostage!"
"You grab the story books! You grab the piece of Dream Castle, you grab-"
"Lickety-Split, we can't carry-"
"They gotta be slow in that armor! We don't have time to argue!"
"I... nopony notices me, I can get her away from here safe," Featherweight offered, even if his body still had bandages.
"They'll never-hear-from-again all of you!" Silver Spoon said.
Something in Post Haste snapped and his resolve was tested. "I'LL DISTRACT THEM!" He shouted crazily. "WHY SO SCARED? THE WORST THEY CAN DO IS KILL US ONCE! THIS MUST BE DESTINY!"
"You'll delay them for two seconds!" Shiny Star strained picking up Post Haste in her telekenesis as he tried to run out the door. "Feather, get Silver out the back window, everypony else take what they can!"
"THEY WON'T EXPECT A LONE PONY TO FIGHT THEM! THEY ARE SLOW AND DIM WITTED! I SHALL DEFEND YOU ALL!"
"Zero." The black suits of armor began to march towards the house.
They got one trot before a mix between wolf and pony howled, she leapt out of the fog from behind, and began wildly clawing the helmet of one of the knights in the back row. The knight tried to hit the wolf, but its mace and struck itself in the head instead as she leapt to another target.
"MOM!" Licket-Split screamed, all reason forgotten, only seeing his mother, and ran for her. Feather Weight tackled him, the colt was stronger than he looked. "LEMMIEGO! MOM!"
= Gravity Falls Soundtrack - Shacktron Battle =
Above them, a flying dinghy dropped out of the sky, crashing into the suits of armors, but not before six foals and an owlbear, leapt out of it.
"By Her Nightesty's command, begin Operation 'Protect Plan B'!" Captain Pipsqueak ordered.
"AYE AYE, SIR!" The foals shouted, including one crystal pegasus wearing a cloth over her mane.
Shiny Star accepted these foals fighting, after all, they were Princess Luna's privateer crew weren't they?
The entire battle quickly descended into chaos. Pipsqueak began jabbing and parrying a black knight whose weapon was bigger than Pipsqueak was, and yet held his footing.
Moonlight touched Ruby Pinch and Dinky Doo's backs. All their eyes glowed white, and their horns let loose beams of light that knocked every knight in their path off their feet.
Olo The Owlebear ripped one knights' foreleg off, revealing nothing but black smoke inside, toss the arm away, and began bashing the rest with the knight's own mace.
"For the glory of Rainbow Dash!" Noi shouted, wearing rainbow colored war paint. She was a member of the Rainbow Dash fan club and proud of it! She struck a knight who struck back, she blocked his axe with her sword, but the force sent her flying, but she was caught by Featherweight.
"!!! Since when can you-"
"DODGE!" shouted Featherweight as the knight fired his fist at the pair! Featherweight cringed as he felt his wounds reopening, just from moving around.
"Try some free samples!" shouted the crystal filly, pulling some flowers hidden from under her cloth and tossing them straight to Featherweight's mouth who opened and swallowed on reflex. Instantly he felt his body mending.
Shiny Star was still keeping Post Haste from recklessly throwing his life away. And Featherweight then realized to catch Noi he had to let Lickety Split go!
And the colt still tried to make a mad dash to his feral mother.
Twist was doing the only real intelligent thing she could do and keep her head down and staying inside. She didn't expect Silver Spoon to not do the same and instead raced after and tackled Lickety Split instead.
As one, the knights marched towards their target, which also meant they were marching towards Lickety Split who she was on top of. Mama Lickety-Split snarled and jumped from armored head to armored head before landing in front of her son (and incidentally Silver Spoon), and growled at the knights who didn't even pause at her.
The nearest suit of armor only rose its mace to bash the wolf-pony's body in, and swung empty air, because it never had a mace. Which made sense since it never had an arm to swing the nonexistent mace with. The knight was poorly made since its body was covered in design flaws that looked like claw marks, those flaws caught up with it as it fell apart. In fact, several of the knights were also shoddily put together, and the intensity of the fight now caused them to fall apart.
"Good doggy," the crystal pegasus said at thin air.
Mama Split whined and nuzzled her son. She then pick him up and tossed him inside the front door, then leapt onto one of the remaining knights and began trying to claws its visor only to be blocked by its shield.
'Element of surprise used up. Five left.' Moonlight thought. She spotted Silver Spoon just standing there caught up in the moment. "GET AWAY, YOU IDIOT!" She shouted at the glasses filly.
Featherweight remembered their original plan and took hold of Silver Spoon and tried to sneak her out of the fight. But stealth didn't really work when the enemy had their eyes glued on you at the time and your talent wasn't being truly invisible, just unnoticed.
And with their prize right in front of them, the knights forgot about 'kill the rest first' and focused on 'steamroll anything that gets in our way' instead. Ruby and Dinky's beams this time were blocked by their shields. Pipsqueak's opponent simply turned to charge surprisingly fast at the foals. Blanky was actually kicked away by their high-paced march.
Olo was able to hold one back with sheer brute force. And Noi managed to trip up another one making it fall flat on its face. The remaining three kept up the relentless charge.
Twist's mind raced with the insane idea of dressing up like Silver Spoon since they both had glasses and were both fillies, except they didn't have any make up or wigs or any time to prepare for such a trick. The filly felt truly powerless, seeing the former bully in danger.
The crystal pegasus filly tore open a pack of seeds, put them in her mouth, and flew up. She flew after the heavy armored terrors and with a pea shooter spat the seeds into the suits of armor. A few seconds later, green vines with thorns grew out of the chinks in the armor, slowing them down, until at last, roses bloomed, and the armors were torn apart by the vines.
'Fourteen down, two to go,' Moonlight thought.
Shiny Star's magic gave up, and Post Haste ran for the suit of armor Olo was wresting with and picked up an axe. The earth pony managed to pick it up only from the strength of mania and chopped the axe into the armor's back.
Dinky and Ruby's charged up beams hit the damaged knight in the back, causing its torso to break apart, its head and limbs falling to the ground.
"I HAVE SAVED YOU ALL! I AM A HERO!" Post Haste shouted.
Mama Lickety Split, Captain Pipsqueak, Noi, and Olo, all descended on the last suit of armor.
Featherweight and Silver Spoon were safely out of the fight... or so they thought, as a suit of armor twice as big as the others marched out of the fog wielding a sword with a dark pink feather on top of his helmet. Red lights glowed from inside the helmet. The foal ran straight into him and bounced off him harmlessly.
"You are mine." The knight reached for Silver Spoon.
"HEY! ACHILLES! AH SEE YER HEEL!" shouted a farm pony. Applejack came galloping out of the fog, a lantern in her mouth. Her eyes zeroed in on the ankle of the titan's back legs, which she bucked. The titan ignored her and grabbed Silver Spoon. That was when the cracking became audible, and the knight turned confused to see its back leg covered in cracks just as it fell apart, throwing the knight off-balance. Applejack didn't hesitate to kick the next leg, and the next. The giant knight fell to pieces, losing its grip on Silver Spoon who was caught by Featherweight.
"Dang! That hurts more when yer not immortal," Applejack remarked, looking back on herself at a bleeding rear hoof.
Applejack then looked at the pair. "Hey kiddo, wish Ah had time for pleasantries, but yer kinda needed elsewhere. Good news, Umbra Breeze is banished and imprisoned where he's been banished to. Bad news, ya need to be braver than ya've ever been before."
Apple Bloom thought, 'This is like an upside-down game of Snakes and Apples, except the 'snake' doesn't lose when they cross themselves, and it's game over if this apple get eaten!'
Really, the random monsters weren't that tough. Button Mash's zapper, Spike's fire, a pegasus blade to any that got close, Sweetie's black magic, and even Apple Bloom's crab apple barrage were quite strong. But it was a fire hose against a wave of lava!
The random monsters kept mindlessly chasing the heroes, leaving a 'trail' of their own kind behind. Like a paint brush dipped in 'monster' colored paint was following the ponies.
"Are supposed to just fight these things forever?!" Scootaloo snapped, lacking a way to fight at a distance. 'Wish I'd bought that mini-storm-cloud!'
"This is a game, remember? There has to be a way to win!" Apple Bloom said.
"Maybe they only seem infinite and there's really just a really, really big lot of 'em!" Button hoped, firing his zapper wildly. “Either that or we're in one of those games where they’ll keep respawning until we reach a certain area!”
"I don't think we have that kinda time," Sweetie said as she ate another magic-enhancing candy. She was getting tired of the flavor. "I'm sure we don't."
"Maybe we're just meant to find another way in!" Daring Do said, grateful apparently this 'game' didn't have a stamina meter as Daring continued to carry Button Mash on her back and others she could fit.
"Maybe we're supposed to reason with the monsters?" Sweetie asked.
"DIE. DIE. DIE. DIE. DIE. DIE."
"Forget I said anything."
Apple Bloom had a thought. "Spike... yer gonna have'ta do somethin' ya really don't wanna do."
"Fine. Throw me over the wall, I'm sure I can-"
"No. Ah think... ya better get greedy."
Memoirs of Master Kenbroath Gilspotten Heathspike VII,
Spikezilla is my second worst nightmare. Though what Queen Bug Face and whatever was inside Twilight did to me are big competitions. My true worst nightmare? Twilight abandoning me... Whatever paperwork says, we're family.
Apple Bloom knew what she was asking me to do. And I could see she didn’t like it any more than me. Dang. Heroes are supposed to fight big monsters, not turn into them! But I think about what options we have, like Twilight always does. We really don't have any.
Then I heard a screech just inside my dragon hearing range that rattled my bones. The others didn't notice. But when I looked up, my friends followed suit.
= Reach for the Stars Instrumental - Sonic Colors =
"For her Nightjesty!" Screeched a Night Guard mare, leading an armored bat-pony cloud (yes that's the right term, I looked it up!), flying straight down. The bat ponies army dove straight into the monster army, taking down monsters left and right! It was kinda creepy seeing ponies, even bat ponies, be that brutal.
"Do you think that's ALL of the Night Guard?" Button Mash asked.
"... Maybe," said Daring Do.
The monster army wasn't expanding anymore, the thestrals were taking them out as fast as the door could spit them out.
"But... But Maud Pie said the Princesses all got corrupted first!" Sweetie Belle gasped.
"Remember at Lickety's house? Spike said he only remembered Princess Celestia being a bad pony!" Apple Bloom said. “And they said Princess Luna was the one who took out those Nightmare things!”
"I'm right here ya know," I said.
"Get'em! Get'em! Whoo-hoo!" Scootaloo cheered punching in the air.
"Brave warriors!" The girl bat-pony shouted to us, foals, one brave awesome dragon, and the 'fictional' adventurer. "We shall clear a path for ye! Onward!"
Yeesh. These are The Princess' guards alright.
"You heard her, kids!" Daring Do shouted.
Princess Liza Doolots Tootsie Flute's Diary
'Egads, Lulu! What is with you? I made you the hyper sympathetic filly all your fans wanted, and you can't even accept it as a gift. Then you blow up Nythy's big super weapon thing designed to give you the excuse to be that!'
"Tootsie, change targets."
I'm no Princess. I'm a monster. This is all me, Alula, and Diamond have left. I'm sorry.
I aim and shoot one of the bat ponies. My glowing blue arrow turns into a net, wrapping around the bat-pony and she falls to the ground with a cry. I cringe. I fire off several shots in a row, like my forelegs and horn are on automatic: pull, point, release. Pull, point, release. Pull, point, release. Pull, point, release. Pull, point, release. Trapped in my nets, nopony ... will... not have to fight anypony. I know you still don't like me. That makes two of us. I don't like me anymore either.
Then a big fast dark silver shape flew in the way of one of my arrows. The energy net broke apart when it tried to wrap all the way around him. It was this super big changeling I'd never seen before. His body was all shiny. He had two horns sticking foreword like a fork. I shoot him some more, even a buncha arrows couldn't wrap him up. He had glowing eyes and a mask or something covering half his face.
I tried to shoot some more of the bat ponies, but he was fast and managed to keep catching them himself.
"My response is not printable," Diamond said calmly. "Alula, go."
Alula flew right off the balcony like a bullet (whatever that is).
"Halt, child! This is no place for nym-" The big changeling didn't get to finish as Alula did a glowing diving double-kick right in his stomach, cracking his armor and sending him tumbling down.
Alula turned and curtsied to us, and got hit by globs of changeling slime in every direction at once. She dropped like a stone.
"ALULA!" I shouted and without thinking leapt down. Pressing my white wings that Diamond Tiara had given me harder than I've had to before, I zoomed and caught her with my magic. Changeling slime came from every direction, I streaked back the way I came, gripping Alula with my hooves and deflecting more slime that came my way with my magic before landing back on the balcony.
"Tootsie... thank you," Alula said.
"Yes, thank you, Tootsie."
I hugged Alula tighter. "You're welcome! " Then I realized... I couldn't un-hug Alula, we were both kinda stuck together from the changeling slime. Oh, and I noticed an entire swarm of changelings coming down to help the bat pony army and the big changeling from before was up and fighting again. And they were cool.
"For Princess Royal Sweetie Belle!" The big changeling called out.
'Even deader than dead, Chryssy still cramps my style! Okay, Lulu's pets at least I can get! But what are Rosedust's brats doing here?! They've always been a buncha bungling whimps!'
In the crystal ball, I saw a movie track marked 'news reel' and 'changeling hive' appear. It opened up on its open and the frames began flying by.
'Can't be Big-Bug-Boy-Pants out there's wife and foal! They'd have been retroactively changed by the curse the same as everypony! So what little worm wiggled through the net! WHAT?! That head-up-his-flank smug little-!'
I was surprised, but confused. In the film frame was Mr. Time Turner’s blue shed. But what was it doing in a big grassy field with a cave with changelings about? And... who was that stallion with the fez next to Lemon Heart? And what was she doing there? And why was she talking to the big changeling?
'Didn't we take care of that nuisance?'
'We did! Much better than Chryssy, I might add. His time machine never existed! It was always just a blue shed! That dirty little cheat. No wonder everything's been messing up! He always has to meddle in everything, Mr. Perfect! Time to enact Plan B!'
"What's Plan B?" Alula asked.
'Just something to keep the good doctor busy.'
Somewhere and somewhen else, Doctor Whooves strolled along humming the theme to Super Ponio Brothers. Minuette said, "Good thing old evil me had a spare TARDIS lying about, eh? With a chameleon circuit that WORKS, I might add."
"I could get my girl back to herself! We're closer than close!"
"How do you convince a shed that it's not supposed to be a shed?" Mineutte rolled her eyes.
"Because she's mine, as much as I am hers. You never did have any appreciation for your own stolen TARDIS' feelings, after you murdered the Chancellor for it, did she, Doctor?"
Time Turner eyes widened in horror. "Impossible. You can't be here. You're just another glorified animatronic created by Umbra Breeze's magic!"
"The body is, but I, myself, am just as real as you. Let's begin," said the Valeyard.
'Bon-Bon, Lyra, Moth, your little filly and her friend have gotten themselves covered in changeling slime by some annoying changeling trouble makers, could you be a dear and help get them out of it?'
Bon-Bon stopped attacking a punching bag, and Lyra put down her composition quill and Moth... stopped twiddling her hooves in the corner. Being a former changeling spy, she'd held jobs before, hadn't she? But she'd always been more of a helper than a doer by herself... and neither Lyra nor Bon-Bon really looked like they needed 'help.' She spotted a chance to be useful for once in her life.
"It's okay sis, Lyra, I'll take care of it," Moth said to the other two changelings and flew out of the duel room that had been created that morning for them so they could work out and compose side by side.
"We need to finish this final Gabby Gums article now. After you two are cleaned up, meet me in my room."
"Alright, Diamond," Alula said.
"Sorry we couldn't help more."
"You may help more than you think."
. . .
'Yes...help me set up the true finale, little ponies.'
The pony's teeth clenched. "We not robots!...There's more to forgiveness AND redeeming yourself, than trying to do something horrible, -no matter the reason!-, being stopped, and suddenly saying you're sorry. And there's STILL MORE to it than just paying back those you hurt, it's about admitting you were wrong. First and foremost to yourself."
The changeling raised an eyebrow. "What are those?" She asked.
'They're flowers. Roses, to be precise. I hope you like the flavor,' Discord's voice growled.
"... What do they do?"
'Taste good, I presume. I'll admit I don't have a taste for flowers myself. I have the head of a pony, my tongue is...I THINK a dragon...or a snake...or a lizard. Something forked. You can get that checked, but it requires paperwork for a DNA test and I hate paperwork.'
"What happens to me if I eat them?"
'Well, if you eat nothing but roses you'll have an unbalanced diet.'
"No growing a second head? Breaking out in spots?"
'No. The roses are just roses. Didn't see that coming did you?'
"... I can eat them... but I won't actually GET anything from them... changeling, remember?"
'Fine. See this locket? Change into the pony in the picture, and feed off me.'
"YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING!"
'No actually, unexpected isn't it? I told you I've had a family before. Change into her, and munch-munch.'
'I'm chaos, since when do I need a reason to do anything? After all, what's the POINT of Chaos if it has a REASON?”
“Trick question! Chaos doesn't HAVE a point! Which is the point!...I made Lyra munch on you, now you can munch on me. Call it recompense, call it compensation, or call it Susan, I don't care. I'm offering free food. Just like this morning when I gave that orphanage the world's biggest pizza.'
Bon Bon's changeling senses picked up something she'd never expect from Discord... sadness?
"... Fine. But I'm not going to drain your love dry, if that's what you were hoping for."
'’Fine’ back at you.'
Bon Bon's looked intensely at the locket, and in a burst of flames, changed into a reasonable facsimile of the mare in the locket. "Now tell me how much you love me."
As Bon Bon fed, she felt something else, Discord was HOLDING BACK his hatred, he was purposely avoiding food poisoning her when he could have easily.
The clacking of a typewriter echoed through the room.
'I don't blame you for being upset with me, dear.'
"I thought you were trying to undermine our own plans. And you hurt Alula." Her voice was perfectly even and cool, like the calm before a storm.
'Did you think I was trying to make them like you?'
"We wouldn't be speaking if I did," she said matter of fact.
'We've just been doing what's necessary.'
"I was going to say that."
'Dear... do you think ... all I've taught you, all I had you experience. Everything I've helped you become... is meaningless now?'
The typewriting didn't halt. "No. Thanks to you, my mother is sane again. And she didn't have to take my place thanks to you, you've done more for her than my other father did. You've saved my mother twice. How could any of what I've sacrificed be worthless?
"After all, isn't that what you offered me from the beginning father? Back when this was all still just about ponies moving past how you hurt them with your games? Maybe that never changed."
'... I admit... the two of us were already more alike than I ever imagined... and it doesn't fill me with the fun it used to.'
"I'm saving my mother, even now, I'm saving her soul with every sin I commit.”
'You know that's a question I've always meant to ask Father, but...well, 'can never go home again.' Does it count as a sin when you're doing it for a good reason? I've always been perplexed by that...'
"Silver Silver, you must never know I never put you in that red house as revenge. If I still had a heart I might be sorry, if I was still mortal I might feel regret, if I was sane I might sad, but no pony can be allowed to fill the void where my heart was, for my mother.
"As one of our family's most loyal servants, Shiny Star, I know you'd understand if you knew. But nothing can be allowed to fill the void."
Daring Do And the Cutie Mark Crusaders by AK Yearling
I got worried when Night Guards began dropping out of the sky, I kept telling myself, 'Focus, Daring, get inside, they're doing their job so we can do ours.' I saw the worried looks on the kiddos' faces as they kept glancing up.
"Tootsie, stop!" Sweetie shouted, but I don't think the sniper heard her.
Then things went up and down like a yo-yo.
First the giant mutant changeling from the changeling occupation of Canterlot showed up, and began blocking shots. Then an alicorn filly with a glowing white horn rocketed him in the gut, then she got blindsided by changelings, and another alicorn filly, this one with glowing white wings, swooped in and grabbed her and retreated before the changeling could slime her too and the arrows stopped. There was something familiar about that second filly, hadn't she been in Canterlot the day the REAL wedding happened?
"I don't get it! Didn't the curse make all changelings helpless?" Sweetie looked at the changelings fighting in her name in confusion. She was blushing.
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth! Maybe it was the same ponies who saved Princess Luna!" Scootaloo shouted.
True to form, a big monster suddenly appeared in front of us...and the big changeling blew a hole straight through his chest with a massive beam from his weird worked horn. Big guy had good range and accuracy.
The bat ponies and the changelings were proving an effective force together. Changelings changing into monsters, attacking another type of monster, and making the monsters attack each other in some spots. While the bat ponies were being true to their word and plowing a road for us through the monster horde.
The bat ponies flanked us all the way to the front gates, the big guy had used himself as an artillery cannon to take out any big monsters that decided to pop us in front of us. No, he never got away from the main fighting. Anypony who tried to fly over the wall quickly thought better of it as any number of nasty things that went boom, zap, bang, and bye-bye were fired up at them.
"Think those things are gonna be aimed at us when we get in?" Apple Bloom asked.
"Naw," Button Mash said. "That's just a game play wall so we don't break sequence."
"Hooray, video games," I rolled my eyes.
We ran through the opening, stepping on the iron door.
"Your mother wore horseshoes, and your father ate hay! Why can't I have better dialogue?!"
Though the bat pony and changeling armies were both keeping the monsters occupied, it was bewildering to have the flood of monsters just, stop once we got on the other side of the wall, and no sign of where the barrage that had nearly blown off my wing when I escaped had come from.
The space between the wall and the giant tower itself was nothing but barren dirt. I saw the stairs leading up to large double doors with that eight diamond logo on it and nonsense engravings on one door, and nightmarish scenes on the other that looked like it'd been pummeled with water balloons filled with paint recently. And everything looking like charcoal drawn on faded pink.
We got in formation and began trotting forward. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle kept their eyes and horn on full sensing for traps, but Discord and his Nightmare minion it seems were done being sublime.
From literally out of nowhere they fell, landing squarely on the ground and sending up a dust cloud. It was the two guards I'd seen on the ground before when I ditched this place.
=Ornstein and Smough - Dark Souls=
"'Olua nui," Scootaloo said, craning her neck up.
"You can say that again," I heard myself say.
They were wearing gold armor, or were they MADE of gold armor? Either way, they didn't look friendly, with their metal faces frozen in menacing scowls. A bipedal wolf with curves, with a red plume on the back of her head like a mane-pony-tail holding a golden sword as tall as she was, and they were bigger than some trees.
The other one was an owl, with long sharp metal feathers. It's going to shoot its feathers at us isn't it? I'm not sure the big thing can fly. It had a pair of rubies for eyes, and its insides... I heard parts turning and clicking, but its torso and limbs looked like glass jars (or was that windows?), filled with a starry night sky connected by gold joints!
On both of them was the diamond crown of chaos. And both were right between us and the front door.
They didn't wait for an invitation, they began marching towards us, well, the owl more waddled, but that's a lot less funny than it sounds when the thing waddling is death on legs.
"Think we can just get 'round 'em?" Apple Bloom asked.
"What if they’re holding the key to the door?" Button Mash asked. “I’m betting they are!”
"Doesn't look locked to me," Scootaloo said looking at the big doors.
"Trust me, that doesn't prove anything," Button Mash said.
"Apple Bloom? Are they alive?" Sweetie Belle asked.
The yellow filly cringed. "My eyes hurt just lookin' at 'em!"
"I'll take that as a no!" Sweetie charged up her horn with black magic and a green slash went right at the owl. I'll admit, it's scary that I'm next to a little girl with the power to bisect a pony. I know she's a good kid, but I just hope she's taught a lot of self-discipline before she hits her teens!
The owl's beak meanwhile fell open with a click, and the slash of black magic got sucked into it.
Sweetie's jaw dropped. "That's never happened before."
"Aim for the wolf!" Scootaloo called out.
Sweetie did so, except the bolt veered off course and got sucked into the owl's mouth anyway!
"It's okay, Sweetie!" Scootaloo said. "If we can't blow 'em up we'll just knock 'em down! They're big and slow as-"
The wolf dashed forward like she was on rocket skates. She struck her sword down bringing up a cloud of dust and we split up to avoid being cut in two.
"There's still six of us and two of them! We can take 'em!" Scootaloo shouted.
Right on cue the slower owl pointed its wings at us, and its feathers shot out right at us, being replaced as fast as they were used. We scattered like roaches.
"Knew it," I muttered.
The wolf wasn't napping either; she swung that sword around like we were grass that needed mowing.
Was it safe to fly(?): safer than staying a target on the ground. I took off. "Stay below the second floor and I think we'll be fine!" I said. Scootaloo nodded and took off as well. Now the giants had two levels of targets to think about.
The giants looked a bit confused before the owl began shooting at me and Scootaloo and the wolf focused on everypony still in the ground. At least they can't pincher us anymore.
Button Mash used his zapper, but the owl just vacuumed up the lasers too.
"Hey no fair, that's not magic!!"
Apple Bloom took an enchanted seed bad she'd gotten from Button Mash's purchases and threw them at the feet of the wolf. The bag exploded into vines that wrap around the wolf's body, but just as suddenly vanished and Apple Bloom was the one covered in vines.
"Debuff reflection!?" Button exclaimed.
Scootaloo did more than talk and zoomed in and cut the vines with her wing blade and scooped up Apple Bloom into the air before the wolf's sword struck where Bloom had been.
Sweetie Belle's horn glowed. This time instead of offense she did her best impersonation of a barrier spell, around Spike as the wolf targeted him next, but the sword went through her magic like it wasn't even there! Then that freakin' owl just sucked the barrier up! But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was when the giant sword managed to graze Spike, and the poor kid cried out as he started bleeding!
"And it ignores all defense base stats and buffs!?" Button rambled and tossed Spike a baked bad that he opened his mouth and swallowed with one gulp, and against all logic made the large cut on his back heal up.
Spike took his chance and began breathing fire at the legs of the wolf, heating up the metal.
Of course, Spike was fire proof, so breathing fire on a monster that reflected back what happened to it didn't hurt him at all. The wolf let out what, I could only described as a RECORDING of an agitated snort and kicked Spike away with its scalding hot leg. Spike gasped out in pain from the kick a lot more than that hit had any right to make him!
The wolf now seemed focused on ground targets, while the owl was focused on me and Scootaloo.
We took advantage of that, and drew the owl's fire towards the wolf, some of the feathers actually sticking into the gold wolf, black smoke leaking out of the armor.
Sadly, it didn't make them fight among themselves. Darn it!
The wolf's metal mouth fell open, and a voice played that again sounded more like a recording than a person. "I may be but a simple guard. But even I can see you are selfish, blind hypocrites who refuse to admit when they are wrong. Why else would you slaughter innocent children?"
"WHAT?!" Scootaloo said.
There was a clicking sound of gears turning and then the voice played back. "You slaughtered Shub-Neighurath precious, innocent dear children. How can you be anything but evil?"
Scootaloo startled, and looked incredulous at the wolf. "You're crazy! They were brainless leech monsters that turned into brainless moth monsters for crying out loud! You might as well call Fluttershy a murderer for killing germs when she clean a hurt on-" I had to pull her out of the way of a slash of the wolf's sword.
"Don't listen to a thing it says!" I shouted.
Click click, and play back again. "Ignoring reality is a sign of-"
I dive bomb kicked it in the head, and there was the sound of a tape-head being pushed off the track.
"You ignore your subjects' real problems-you treat Spike like a servant-you didn't try hard enough with INSERT HERE their pro-pro-" I did a cork-screw to avoid that sword again, and a dive and rise to avoid the owl's feathers. At least they were focused on me for a minute.
Scootaloo flew behind the owl and using her pegasus blade began cutting at its glass jar torso. Smart girl. Then the damn thing began to suck away Scootaloo's flight field! As a fellow pegasus I know these things! The girl only just got away before she would've crash!
"It eats up INATE MAGIC?! This is cheating!" Button Mash said, the most we could do was just keep our distance.
Then the same stupid click-click noise came from the owl as a masculine voice began back playing. "You are the cheater." Click click. "Using powers that are not even yours." Click click. "You are nothing without them."
"Don't listen to that thing! You're imaginative, lively, determined, and kind Button!" Sweetie shouted.
"You're right Sweetie he's just a ---------------. I mean and the wolf is just ______________. HUH!?"
I tried to say what I thought about these mechanical monsters, but all that came out was silence.
"We can't even smack talk them back?!" Apple Bloom snapped.
What kinda immature, oh right Discord, or his sidekick.
Apple Bloom then actually got a hit in when she began using her crab apple shots right at the owl's glass belly! This got their attention! Okay, so physical attacks can still hit 'em.
Then Button Mash got clever and summoned that magic window of his, and combined a bag of pop-rocks candy with a soda-pop can, and the menu chimed 'combined items!' The result appeared in his hooves that he threw at the wolf. The combined can exploded on impact. As the smoke cleared I saw cracks in the wolf's body. And-
"It's on fire?! How does that work?"
"It just does, trust me," Apple Bloom said.
The cracks in the wolf's body sealed up as the fires went out. I realized the holes the owl had accidentally made in the wolf had vanished too. Dang it!
"And regenerating HP?! I wanna complain to the developer!"
"Ya'll get yer chance don't worry!" Apple Bloom glared at the top of the tower.
"E-everypony!" Sweetie shouted. "Take out the owl first! Then we can all fight against the wolf!"
Smart kid. Good plan.
Button Mash made another grenade and threw it right at the owl's glass stomach, while Apple Bloom launched more crab apples at the same spot. Scootaloo and I kept the wolf distracted. Before the smoke even had a chance to clear Spike charged in, and began clawing again at that one spot. Not even trying to breath magical fire on it. "Don't worry about me! Keep going!" Apple Bloom and Button Mash complied, emptying their caches, Spike could take the splash damage.
The owl let out a mechanical screech like gears breaking, and all the 'star matter' inside exploding out of its body. Its head and limbs falling to the ground empty as its glass torso shattered. ... Then all the star matter flew into the wolf, being sucked in through the edges of her armor. The wolf grew even larger, and her sword stormed with lightning. She took one swing at us, and the entire area was blinded by lightning strikes. I felt my body being pierced by lightning worse any pegasus should have, then-
We managed somehow to lure the wolf away from the owl. While we tag teamed in keeping the owl distracted. We struck her with every raw damage attack we could, crab apples, dragon claws, bombs, pegasi technique, and... finally, FINALLY the wolf staggered. The cracks big enough for us to get at the pitch black insides as black smoke leaked out.
Then the wolf, ever so slowly like it couldn't accept such a humiliation, fell to the ground. Then in the blink an eye, its inside turned hollow and clattered apart, because all of had been sucked as fast as lightning into the owl's waiting mouth. It golden part began to shine like the stars too, its ruby shining blindly. The owl began to suck in everything, I felt my pegasus magic, my emotions, anything that could be even vaguely be defined as 'magical' being pulled out of me like a leech does blood. Everything fell to-
And just like that, I wasn't electrocuted, and I wasn't a hollowed shell. We were still fighting.
Future visions, alternate timelines, simulation of what could be, I didn't give a flying feather!
'Pick your witch weed, huh?' I thought.
I'm Daring Do, so of course I chose, NONE OF THE ABOVE!
Okay, Daring, think fast! Sigh. I hate days like this.
"If we take out either one, the other powers-up and will kill us!"
Spike asked, "How do you-"
"Saved game, magic vision, who cares?! We're in crazy town! You kids get to the Tower, I'll take'em down myself!"
The giants weren't about to let us just chat and us pegasi had to zigzag the owl's fathers, while the earth-bound had to duck a swing of the wolf's sword.
"That's crazy!" Apple Bloom snapped. "Ya should all-"
"No chit-chat! I'm Daring Do! Winning against the odds to save a buncha kids is what I do! ... I'll be fine. You don't have time to argue."
None of them looked happy.
"No! I oughta-" Button started to say.
"GET YOUR BUTTS IN GEAR!"
I shouted in a tone that left no room to argue. If the door was locked we'd know soon enough. Kids ran for it. Good. Of course I win against the odds in MY books... not when I'm a cameo in somepony else's story.
Okay, Daring, you've always been good with puzzles, and that's all these creeps are! These things would have followed the kids forever, with me here they have a target to focus on.
Hey, wolfie! Who told you you could leave the party?! Ka-pow!
That goes double for you owlie, lookie, lookie, here I am!
If try to fight the owl close I'm kaput. Keep my distance! The owl can shoot me though! No use whining! I saw the owl can damage the wolf. So I'm betting vice versa works too! Up and up I go! Can't fly can you tubby! Yeow! Shooting spears?! They're big! Good!
Here, little wolfie! Here! Here! Kids gotten away? Perfect. At least I know they got through. Okay Awkward Kindness, this' for all your marbles!
Both have their eyes on me! This'll take perfect timing! Not sure if I'll live through it. But what's adventure without real danger!
Click. Click. They echo. "Y-you're pretty strong... f-for some clown who thinks she's Daring Do."
"I am Daring Do!"
I think I got a magic surge...or I have some sort of 'against the odds' special ability...or both, because I really sped up.
I dive between the two! Spear fired, sword swinging down right at me! And-DODGE!
They pierce each other at the same time! In the next instant, they exploded, with me right in the middle.
I was shot out like air between a clap! Smoke and heat pounded me while shrapnel peppered me. I hit the ground skidding, half my body feeling on fire. And I lost my hat. I think I'm bleeding... in... I'm not sure... hard to think when your ears won't stop ringing.
Wish the world would stop spinning too.
Ugh, hopefully that cracking sound in my chest was my glasses in my pocket.
I spend a while trying to breath without pain. The coughing wasn't great either. Not sure if there's blood, hope not. Dangit, I think I need ... a nap. Here's hoping I... wake up.