by Alex Warlorn

Tower of Nil And Chaos


The CMC+2 ran through the straight hallway as fast their legs or wings could carry them. Behind them, a giant, invincible slice of toast gave an inequine roar as it relentlessly followed, determined to squash them into jam.

All five just managed to slide under the lowering wall ahead of them as it snapped shut (it sped up once Apple Bloom was through). The giant piece of toast slamming into the wall leaving a visible impression on the other side.


'Poor Xanthor.'


'Okay, so that level is based on MY save file from Fate-Net's game section.'

"Why were you playing that anyway?"

"Well somepony told me making toast can't be exciting and you know me when I get told ‘something CAN'T be something.’"


"All in favor of never speaking of the most humiliating near-death ever?" Spike asked.

"Aye!" The foals all raised their hooves.

"If the next monster is an angry side of hash-browns I quit," one of them said.

= SMT Nocturne OST - Kagutsuchi Tower (2nd Movement) =

To the relief of everypony, the medieval style castle hallway didn't lead to another bloodthirsty part of a balanced breakfast, but that might've been less strange.

The room either had pitch black walls, or went on forever. The floors were now varnished wood. On the far side of the massive room was a straightforward staircase going up. Spotlights beamed down on a plethora of objects.

A kitchen chair painted orange. Three blank canvases next to each other.
A rock. A featureless inner room with the light switching on and off. Ten reeking tin cans filled with something stacked on top of each other. A pile of broken TVs stacked on top of each other (not that the youngsters knew what those were). An unmade bed. A splattered artist's apron. And countless other things. There was also a number of objects that might've been smashed... but it was hard to tell.

Blank Diamond's symbol was nowhere to be seen. A standard stood near the entrance the CMC+2 had just come out of. When Apple Bloom looked close, the threads were like tentacles woven together. It showed an upside down black pyramid with a inequine green eye, with countless eyeless pony faces melted together behind the pyramid.

The little heroes kept away from it subconsciously like it was a barrel of toxic waste, adverting their eyes.

"WHAT IS all this junk?" Scootaloo asked.

"This a landfill?" Apple Bloom wondered.

"Blech! It's worse than that!" Spike made a face. "I've seen stuff like this in the Canterlot galleries." Is what Spike should have said. Instead he said, "It's modern art."

Button Mash stared dumbly, his eyes focusing on what looked like a smashed-up chariot. "I don't get it," he said, his eyes glued, trying to figure out the work's inner meaning. He took out a magnifying glass and looked closer but still didn't see anything.

"There's nothing to get! It's a lazily uninspired heap of randomness," Sweetie belle said. "A travesty!"

"Ya qoutin' Rarity again?" Apple Bloom asked.

"You could tell?" Sweetie replied innocent. "Chryssy burned a buncha of it in the castle gallery."

"What did the Princesses do when they found out?"

"I think they sent Kifuko a thank you card. Rarity too."

"Welcome to Master Umbra Breeze's personal art gallery, with great works gathered from across worlds. I am Technophilia Modernism," welcomed a new voice.

The speaker was a cream colored unicorn mare, strawberry blond mane, and green eyes. Her cutie mark was a geometry curve that only Spike and Apple Bloom didn't get a headache just looking at. Had she been there before?

"That's a relief, if ALL this junk counts as art in Equestria, then it hurts the argument to changelings we're intelligent individuals with our own minds." Is what Spike was GOING to say. Instead what came out of his mouth was. "He really had deep and thoughtful taste, and it's inspiring to know art even among aliens invaders is so universally great." Spike smiled and nodded.

"HUH?!" Sweetie grabbed Button Mash's foreleg and made him quickly checked his window to make sure Spike wasn't listed as 'charmed' or something. He wasn't. And as Spike had said, he was listed with mind control resistances through the roof. "Spike, you actually like this stuff?"

"How can anypony not like it but the elitists, the ignorant, and the blind?" Technophilia Modernism said.

"What she said," Spike smiled and nodded.

"But this is all just junk... " Sweetie said.

"Life has no meaning that you don't give it. These works of art are completely meaningless except for the meaning the audience gives. Why should the artist try to put any meaning into them when he can let the audience do the hard work of thinking for him?"

"What she said. My life was meaningless when I was hatched. All your lives were meaningless when you were born," Spike smiled and pointed.

Apple Bloom admitted she didn't know art, but she knew what she liked, and this wasn’t it. "Ah get what's goin' on! Sweetie, when did Rarity say all that stuff you said?"

"... When she was talking about some of the art in Canterlot... she said she went there after reading a whole buncha great reviews, but said seeing it... she said it didn't have any real imagination."

"... So that means, that a whole buncha ponies read that review, and read what those critics said without seein' the art themselves... so the curse is makin' Spike agree it's great." And the curse, wasn't mind control, it changed how the world was! "Scootaloo! Maybe you can make another of them pendants you gave Cheerilee and you can use that for protection instead of your cape and give it to Spike!"

"You've got a zillion spare ribbons." Scootaloo brushed the one in Apple Bloom's mane. "Does that mean you can just 'make another' ribbon that your mom wore?"

Apple Bloom's ears wilted in shame.

"You girls are being such whiners. You're just not grown up enough to appreciate good art," Spike said. "Everypony says this art is good, so then it's good."

"I don't get it," Button said.

"And you're just too glued to your video games."

"Hey!" Both Sweetie and Scootaloo defended.

The foals felt out of their depth. Sweetie had some verbal water wings, but even she wasn't sure how to fight back. She thought of her big sister.

"Rarity says that even if you're daring in your art, you still have to make sure ponies understand it."

"You're saying all art should be identical and mechanically perfect?" Technophilia Modernism and Spike echoed. Freakin' the CMC out.

Scootaloo thought of Rainbow Dash.

"The stunts I pull with my scooter are NOTHING like the stunts the Wonderbolts do, but I try really hard on them, just like they do!"

"Fluttershy's made lots of pretty stuff from her knitting that's nothing like the fancy statues in museums, but she taught us you can't be LAZY when expressing yourself!" the others looked at Button Mash. "What? Mom took away my Gamecolt so I had to pay attention when Fluttershy was showing us how to knit. She said it was part of my punishment for getting Fluttershy addicted to virtual pets."

"Critics have dozens of years of experience, you should respect their opinion because they're more well versed than you," the mare said.

Apple Bloom gave a sigh and facehoofed.

"Life has no meaning except what you give it. Life has no meaning except what you give it. Life has no meaning except what you give it. Life has no meaning except what you give it," Technophilia Modernism repeated like a broken record.

"THAT'S A BUCKIN' -LIE!-" Apple Bloom snarled. "Ah didn't give my life meanin', it CAME with meanin'! The legacy of every Apple alive and who came before meh gave me meanin' before Ah was even born! They support me, and Ah support them!"

"Every hero alive, every hero who's ever lived, they gave it all meaning BEFORE I ever came along! To follow the trail through the sky they blazed, it's our responsibility!" Scootaloo added, remember what she read in a Daring Do book.

"My big sister, my parents, I meant something to them before I was born too! Life has meaning on its own!" Then a Sweetie that was larger than Sweetie for a moment spoke. "And no matter where we are, or who we are, there's somepony out there who's fighting for us! We can give it MORE meaning, but it DOESN'T start out meaningless!!!"

The Nightmare of Diamond Tiara gasped and grasped the empty spot where her heart should have been. She FELT that!

Spike looked VERY confused.

"My my my my, how adorable, don't you all sound so grown up? It's like books. Things only have meaning when they eventually end. Books are built to last. Therefore, books make knowledge meaningless. Therefore, the only way to give knowledge meaning is to destroy knowledge. So burning books is the only way to give the stories in them meaning. Only because something is finite does it have meaning. Therefore your lives are only given meaning when they end, therefore, you live only to die, therefore, you exist only for me to kill you. Just kidding. There are some nooses over there you can use." A new spot light turned on, she gestured over to a gallows that had a set of nooses prepared just the foals' and baby dragon's size.

"Okay," Spike said. Apple Bloom and Button Mash grabbed his tail and pulled him back, Spike continued to walk towards the gallows like a wind-up toy with a smile that wasn't out of place shopping for groceries.

Sweetie said, "Actually, the legend of the last unicorn is that she'll have meaning because she'll be the last beautiful thing in the world after everything else has decayed. Guess what I'm saying is... death doesn't give life meaning... life gives death meaning."

"LIFE gives life meaning! Every day you're alive gives your life meaning, not the moment it all ends!" Button Mash said quoting a Last Fantasy game.

"We don't give life meaning, life gives US meaning! Thats... that's why... that why... that's why we gotta live before we die and go to pony heaven... or that's what my parents say," Sweetie admitted.

A realization hit Apple Bloom from what Sweetie Belle said. "If life had no meanin' on its own... then we'd all go straight to pony heaven without ever being born. It'd be a waste of time. Just like these pieces of junk."

Spike stopped... and broke into conniptions. At the same time, Technophilia Modernism sputtered and twitched.


"Yer not a pony! Yer a mouthpiece!"


"Uh, shouldn't Spike be back to normal now?" Sweetie asked.

"Ah... Ah don't think causin' one robot to trip itself up counts as gettin' all the art fans in Equestria to agree this stuff is no good," Apple Bloom admitted awkwardly.

"Maybe we jut need to blow it up?" Scootaloo asked.

"Ya mean the art, right?"


Apple Bloom looked back at the robot. "Taking it out ain't gonna change ponies' opinions. And trashin' this stuff ain't gonna do that neither."

Of course, nopony brought up the option of simply leaving Spike alone in a dungeon where everything was trying to kill them overseen by DISCORD.

Button looked through his menu. "Dang it, why isn't this one of those games with a special phone or something?" he asked.

Sweetie gasped in realization. "Spike! Rarity says art having imagination and passion behind it is the important thing! And doesn't she ACTUALLY know more about creativity than anypony you know?"

Spike paused, blinking.

"Since when has some random stranger's opinion meant more to you than Rarity's?!"

Spike, "Of course Rarity likes it, everypony likes it."

"Me, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Button Mash all know she doesn't."

"We do?" Button Mash asked, then Sweetie kicked him in the shin.

"And I don't see anypony else right now thinking about it one way or the other, do you?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Just because they aren't here, doesn't mean they don't exist," Spike said simple, with a smile again on his face as he began walking to the gallows again and girls having to physically stop him. "Just because you're the only ponies with opinions here doesn't mean you're the only ponies with opinions in the world."

"Girls, we're bein' fools," Apple Bloom realized. "How many ponies knew Spike's opinion on new-age fancy art stuff? Or knew he had one?" The collective belief of four foals, was not enough to influence the curse. "This curse... it ain't a vote... not exactly... I think ya gotta have enough ponies to think it for it to matter. Otherwise we'd have fixed up our friends just by thinking about it."

"It's a blessing if it lets me appreciate all this wonderful art." Spike reminded them he wasn't deaf. "Pity Hoity Toity and Praiser Pan don't."

Sweetie translated. "Big name ponies in Canterlot who make a living giving opinions."

"Out-dated traditionalists who look down upon the truly creative," Spike and Modernism echoed.

Button Mash used his leaf to blow the pony into a wall, leaving an indent...but she just got out and trotted back over. "Ugh, invincible NPCs are only fun when they let you go nuts on bad guys without hurting good guys!"

Apple Bloom breathed in deep, and thought about it. 'Okay Apple Bloom, what's the truth here? Don't be scared. What's the point here? To say this art is bad? Or to get Spike from hangin' himself?' "Spike... you don't see Rarity killing herself to make her dresses more important do ya?"

This one actually made Spike startle. And made Modernism begin to freeze up, "But-if-but-if-but-" The foals ignored her.

Apple Bloom thought about more and spoke. "If dyin' IS what gives life meanin', shouldn't HOW ya die be more important than JUST dyin'? And if it's NOT what gives life meanin', and life is what gives dyin' meanin', then just dyin' ain't got a point? Dyin' here ain't got a point. Rarity ain't believin' it, and EVERYPONY doesn't either or they'd of killed themselves already!"

Spike began to shudder again. Then Apple Bloom went in for the kill.

"Yer a dragon, Spike! Dragons don't let nothin' go, remember?! Especially their friends! What kinda dragon throws away their LIFE?!"

Spike's eyes twitched out of sync at irregular intervals, doing his best Derpy impersonation, then rapidly went into body poses that would make a chiropractor cringe, then stood perfectly straight up. Then slapped his claws on his head. "The robot! She must have used an evil mind control ray on me!"

"Good and evil is a matter of perspective," said Modernism having rebooted again.

Apple Bloom opened her mouth... then closed it. Then she said, "Let's move on."

"Huh?" Her friends looked at her.

"There's no lock on the door, Ah don't see any traps, if the robot's gonna stop us, let's see 'er try."

"Good and evil is a matter of perspective, therefore, all actions are good and evil," said the robot.

Apple Bloom stopped Scootaloo from replying. "There ain't no point. Let's go."

"What do you mean no point?"

"She ain't attackin' 'cept with 'sticks and stones,' and arguin' with her’d just gonna eat up time we ain't got... we shoulda just ignored her and kept goin' on our way to begin with."

"But-but, she used mind control-"

"And she isn't gonna do it again, let's go Spike." Sweetie Belle led him along. Apple Bloom trotted away, as did Button Mash. Scootaloo followed her friends.

"A is A. Helping others is futile. Altruism is a lie invented by the lazy. Only once all ponies act in their own best interest can society progress. Ponies' selfishness and individuality will spell the end of civilization. Unicorns and pegasi should have their magic negated to prevent abuse over earth ponies. Faith is witch weed fed to the masses! Religious devotion and intelligence are inverse proportions of each other!" Modernism went on, as though reading down a menu listing.

The foals didn't turn to look back at her as they climbed up the stairs.


"Hey, girls!" Button Mash said looking at his window. "According to the to map, we've just entered in the intermediate levels!"

Apple Bloom hugged her friends who hugged back. "We're gonna get there, girls. We freed Applejack, Zecora and the others one by one. And we're gonna get to the top of this tower in time the same way, one floor at a time. Because we're together."

"Together," her friends relied and the girls gave her a nuzzle.

Spike and Button Mash broke out of the hug first. Then Spike politely added. "Claw bump?"

The foals looked at each other, then smiled. "Claw bump." And brought their claws and hoofs together.

The next section was all bolted metal sheets with ceiling fans and hanging lights. The place was just one big rectangular room. In the floor were three large glowing light panels. An open passage was on the opposite end. What might have been Discord's 'logo' were engraved on the panels.

"Is it my imagination, or do these security measure not seem to have a lot to do with anything?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"This place is Discord's," Apple Bloom said.

"And final dungeons generally tend to have a much more mishmash design," Button Mash added.

= Megami Nocturne Random Battle Music =

Light flashed, and something not unlike a eyeless yellow wyvern with a horn appeared out of nowhere and unleashed a sonic blast at Button Mash, who leapt over it and bisected it. It broke apart into pixels and vanished, and XP and GP gains flashed after.

At the same time, a thing with the lower body of a snake, but the upper body of a pony with a cobra hood appeared and spat acid at Scootaloo; she barrel rolled out of the way, and then zipped back it, cutting it in two, and it fell apart into pixels, netting her XP and GP. Her royal guard wing blades got a fresh shine to them.

Also was a three armed, three legged thing with three eyes on its side and its mouth on top that threw rocks at Sweetie Belle; a blast of her black magic and it was no more with the same bonus gains. But also a piece of pretty jewelry appeared on her.

Before the foals had time to think about this, new monsters appeared where the old ones had fallen.

This time an incredibly skinny dog with saggy fur and glowing red eyes that took a bite at Button Mash that he took down in one hit with similar results.

A red bug ant pony with six legs, four of which held weapons hissed at Scootaloo. "I'm gonna lay my eggs in yer belly!" Scootaloo deftly dodged the slashing of its weapons and kicked it in the head. In addition to the GP and XP, her guard wings got some extra length to them.

Something that looked like a mass of black cloths draped over an invisible pony appeared in front of Sweetie Belle. "I shall drain your life!" Sweetie blasted it with a flash of light, dissolving it and rewarding her. A pretty ribbon appeared in her mane.

Next Button Mash fought something like a cross between a gorilla and a beetle. Sweetie Belle burned up a big green troll. Scootaloo turned an evil tree into logs.

Button Mash beat a giant... floating... aquatic... turtle-crab thingie with its mouth on top and its claws on its rear. Sweetie took out a large, armored worm with a hot glowing point at the end. And Scootaloo fought a pile of vines and thorns that wanted to eat her.

Button Mash destroyed a gang of skeletons on rusted armor. Scootaloo beat a small lizard that tried to zap her with lightning. And Sweetie Belle beat this big floating shadow.

Next came a large spike of rocks with a giant mouth, one eye and tentacles that Button harvested for XP. While Scoots defeated a giant white centipede breathing ice at her. Sweetie destroyed a giant floating spider with a wolf's head.

Then a giant purple worm appeared that they wailed on together.

Next for Scootaloo was a four-legged fungus with a giant mouth and no eyes, armed with what could have been gatling guns, with a long hooked tongue. Sweetie defeated a bloodthirsty owl-bear. Button Mash fought a three legged thing that really stank with a mouth and had its eyes on one tentacle and two other spiky tentacles.

At this point the foals were laughing as they took down one monster after another, a new one appearing to take the place of each other.

Sweetie cheered. "Button Mash, tear 'em apart!"

Button Mash did several motions like a dance. "Flying through space, having adventures, the armory, the armory, of invincibility!"

The squid headed pony that wanted to eat Button Mash's brains was hit by a giant suit of armor that fell from the sky and squashed it flat.

And the monsters just kept appearing. By now, Sweetie was covered in ribbons, jewelry, and pretty hats. Scootaloo's wings were covered in weapons like something out of Warhorse 40 Carrots.

"I'm bored," Spike said with a half-lidded gaze.

"Too easy," Apple Bloom said with a frown on her face.

"You call this easy? They keep coming!" Button Mash said and took out a Royal Guard in black armor.

"Not that I'm complaining!" Scootaloo grinned as she cut up a giant evil cube of jelly into pixels.

Meanwhile Sweetie defeated a rabbit with a sign that read 'I'm evil' around its neck.

"Girls! Aren't we supposed to be avoidin' fights? Like we did at the wedding?" Apple Bloom asked.

"That's when we were weaklings and couldn't do anything! Now we're totally badflank!" Scootaloo shouted, launching missiles at a floating squid with one eye.

"We don't need anypony to help us beat these things!" Sweetie cheered.

"Girls, maybe we should move on," Spike asked.

"Why?! There's still monsters to fight! We can't move on!" Button Mash said, cutting up a green toad monster to be replaced with a blue toad monster.

"The door's open!" Spike pointed.

"We can't turn our backs on them!" Scootaloo said. "You two go ahead. We'll take care of 'em!" She blew up a goblin.

Sweetie destroyed a hobgoblin and got a diamond necklace. "Come on, I bet one of them has an emerald necklace, Rarity would say it goes with my eyes!"

Apple Bloom narrowed her eyes. "Button Mash... how much has yer 'experience stuff' gone up?"

"LOTS! Can't ya tell?"

"... How much is it at exactly? ... Can ya show me?"

"Huh? Sure! It's... what?!" the giant iron bull Button Mash was fighting caught him off guard and stuck him through the chest... except...

"My HP.. it... didn't go down at all?" It was like Button Mash hadn't even been hurt. "My level... is still the same?"

"This here's a honey trap!" Apple Bloom shouted. "And we're the bugs!"

Spike caught on and breathed fire on Sweetie's trinkets. "My jewelry! Spike how... how could... you?" They weren't damaged at all. Meanwhile, the giant gray hulk monster with a dozen yellow eyes seemed to be... just politely waiting for her to blast it.

Apple Bloom leapt in front of Scootaloo as she unleashed her ever growing arsenal between her and the giant three eyed fish monster... Apple Bloom was blown to pieces. Scootaloo gasped in horror.

... Except... Apple Bloom wasn't.

Spike dragged Sweetie away from the politely waiting monster... all the jewelry and fancy clothes she was wearing dissolved into pixels... just like the monsters she'd beaten to claim them.

Apple Bloom did the same with Scootaloo, and her new super arsenal vanished.

"This dang place was here just to waste our time!" Apple Bloom said.

Sweetie's ears wilted. "Sorry." Button Mash and Scootaloo nodded too.

"Eh, I might've fallen for it if there was more spots, maybe," Spike said politely.

"Reminds me of games dad hates; no end or high score, just fighting monsters forever. Then you can't stop."

"Sounds more like a con than a game," Apple Bloom said.

"I can't BELIEVE I let myself get suckered like that!" Scootaloo stamped her hoof. "I'm not weak! And I'll get stronger with Dash, my friends, my family, with myself, and everypony else!" She panted.

"Got it all out?" Spike asked.

"... Yes. Let's get out of here."

"Right ahead of you guys." Button Mash said, they simply walked around the pixel monsters.

The monsters then blinked, looking to each other...and simply stood there mindlessly waiting for somepony to attack them.

But right in front of the stairs, another Sweetie Belle appeared in the blink of eye. She looked angrily at Button Mash, pointed at him.

"Hey, Sweetie! How'd you get in front of me?" Button Mash looked back as if he couldn't see the real Sweetie behind him.

"Button Mash! I saw how you got us suck into that stupid game! Is that the friend I have to look forward to? You're lazy! You're a loser! You'll never get a job! You'll be leeching off your parents your entire life! You couldn't support me or any family we had! You'd embarrass me in front of everypony! You're stupid! You don't know anything about the real world. You're a slob! Your mother will be picking up after you when you're forty! You're going to be repeating first grade when I'm in high school! You are the most worthless, good for nothing waste of space in the history of-"

Button Mash cut the fake Sweetie Belle right down the middle mid-sentence without a word, it fell apart into black magic.

Button Mash looked back at the real Sweetie Belle, now able to see her. "Please don’t take what I just did the wrong way. I know the real you would never say those things."

Sweetie silently nodded and nuzzled him. "I understand."

"You think Discord could come up with new material!" Spike shouted at the ceiling. "For chaos, you sure aren't original! You suck, Discord!" Spike shouted, and then hugged Sweetie Belle.

"That one might have been Diamond Tiara's... and maybe... " Sweetie whispered. "...Maybe it's because the only thing that can really destroy a friendship... are the friends, themselves. Friendships can't truly break from the outside? Maybe?" 'Like when Diamond hurt Silver... what's your secret Diamond, who hurt you?'

"Hey, Mash?” said Scootaloo. “Nice job... not breaking down like a crybaby."

Button Mash smiled. "Hey, I know you, and you all know me, way too good to fall for a trick like that."

The others sincerely nodded. "Right!"

"Let's keep moving," Spike said.

The little heroes raced up the latest set of stairs.

"Wish this timed mission came with a countdown!" Button said.

"Them's the breaks." Spike sighed.

Button examined his map, "Looks like there's only about a few big rooms to go for the intermediate floors."

"At least they aren't adding new floors as we go," Scootaloo said.

"Don't give 'em ideas!" Apple Bloom warned.

= 'The Factory' - Super Mario RPG 7 Stars =

The little heroes came to another disjointed room. Everything was that ugly black charcoal on pink paper style. In the center was a boxing ring. Ringing the room was countless audience seats, all of them empty. Stagelights hung from the ceiling.

Scootaloo sighed and began to trot in. "Fine. Let's get started."

"Never really a fan of wrestling games," Button Mash remarked.

"Dash doesn't mind it so much," Scootaloo remarked.

"Sometimes I see Mrs. Cheerilee looking at some pictures of a wrestler," Sweetie Belle said.

"Stand back, ladies, the mighty Spike will take care of this one."

Rather unsurprisingly, the moment the foals had all entered the room, a swarm of pixels appeared and assembled themselves into a large green troll wearing a wrester's mask.


"I can't beat! AAAAAIR-MARE!" Blared lyrics from the speakers.

"Really? You couldn’t? Air-Mare was never that tough," Button Mash said.

"Well looks like it's gonna be a tough one for these little ponies, Brad!" spoke a random handsome voice.

"You got that right, Mark!" responded an identical voice. "Which little pony, or dragon, is gonna fight this big bad nasty? Will their friends stay here for them or leave them behind? Oh! The suspense is killing me, Mark!"

"Me too, Brad!"

"COME ON!" Shouted the masked troll.

The CMC+2 looked at each other.

"On three?" Apple Bloom asked.

"THREE!" Her friends replied.

Apple Bloom built a slingshot out of the material she'd bought, and used Spike as a projectile; the little dragon skull bashed the masked troll in the head, making little LOLs symbols dance around his head. Without missing a beat, Button Mash rolled out one of his big bombs right in front of the troll. The kids hit the floor with their ears covered and their mouths open. The explosion sent the troll up towards the ceiling. Spike was also blown away, but much more used to this sort of thing having lived with Twilight Sparkle. Scootaloo buzzed by the troll before gravity pulled him back down. The troll's mask split open with a slash of Scootaloo's wing blade, showing only static underneath instead of a face.

Sweetie caught Spike with her telekinesis.

The troll landed with a thud. He stood back up, glitching, touched his face, "My mask! Is gone! Gone! I am shamed! Shamed!" And exploded back into pixels.

"Wow the troll really has those kids on the ropes, Brad!"

"He sure does, Mark!"

"He's unstoppable!"


"They don't stand a-"

Button Mash zapped the speakers.

"Thank you," Spike said.


"NEXT!" Scootaloo shouted and up the stairs they went.

"They sure cut corners with all these rooms," Button Mash said. "I bet there was a secret passage along the way up that we didn't see."

The next floor was... surprising.

"What's all this?" Sweetie Belle asked stepping in the circular room. The floor was engraved not with Diamond Tiara's symbol, but theirs, but with the color choices reversed. A blue pony on a gold shield.

But that wasn't what really caught the girls' attention. It was the newspaper clippings completely covering the walls.

"These are... these are all the Foal Free Press..." Sweetie Belle said. "They're... these..." She recognized every article, every gossip, every scandal, every half-truth and blatant lie with only Silver and Twist spared. "These are our articles! These are Gabby Gums!" She'd certainly be lying if she said she didn't feel shame at seeing them all.

Scootaloo shouted at the ceiling. "So what's the game this time, Diamond Tiara?! You expect us to come back and work for you because these papers say we do?! We wrote in our retraction that we were Gabby Gums all along! And all of Ponyville knew it already! A swing and a miss for you!"

"I already forgave Sweetie Belle for what she wrote about mom!" Button Mash shouted.

"I... And I've forgiven them already for what they said about Twilight!" Spike added.

There was no response.

"Girls! Your shadows!" Spike pointed. The CMC looked, and saw their shadows stretching before them, pulled like they were taffy, and reached for the center of the room. At the same time, the words from the news paper clippings melted off the pages, and ran like water down an aqueduct to the room's center, where they mixed and congealed with the girls' shadows. The dark mass rose from the floor, and congealed into a teenage Alicorn wearing a familiar red bow.

Her coat was a pale yellow orange. Her eyes muddy brown. Her mane was a reddish violet white a lighter streak running through it, that was mostly curls with a few strands out of place. Her cutie mark was a shield surrounding a familiar little crown.

"I'm Gabby Gums, Diamond Tiara is my totally awesome best friend! Ah will protect 'er like family! You'll swear your loyalty to her greatness, or know despair!"

Sweetie cringed. "Uh. Hi. I'm Sweetie Belle. This is Apple Bloom, and that's Scootaloo... Uh, we're your parents."

"Do you have ANY idea how weird that sounds, Sweetie?!" Scootaloo hissed.

Sweetie ignored her. "Look... you were just born... obviously from a lot of bad things we did, and from the darker side of us... but I accept we did bad things, so we accept you, so there's really no reason for us to fight. We're fighting to save Diamond Tiara too, so we want to help your best friend. And we don't want to fight you, because we'd just be fighting ourselves. And-" Sweetie yelped as she ducked a blast of black colored magic from Gabby Gums’ horn.

"You have been given your options! Submit to her will, or be destroyed!"

Apple Bloom said, "Don't worry girls, she's just a blob of dark magic and bits of us!"

"Darkness beyond dusk, light beyond dawn-"

Sweetie shouted. "She's going to use THAT spell!"

Apple Bloom kicked several crab apples at Gabby Gums, who DODGED them.

"Hey! I can't dodge while casting that!"

"-By you who both sits upon and are the Throne of Naught, With my hate that freezes, my anger that burns, my desire that grasps!-"


Button Mash drew his zapper and began zapping, but Gabby Gums avoid his shots. Spike charged claws and fangs bared, the Alicorn side stepping him as well.

"Let meh guess, if she shoots it she's not going to blow a hole straight through the entire building like Sweetie would?" Apple Bloom questioned.

Scootaloo said, "Been there, done that, NEW GAME!"

As fast as Scootaloo could, she dive-bombed Gabby Gums. The Alicorn still dodging Apple Bloom and Button Mash, and Spike, turned just in time to see Scootaloo attacking her from above, and the filly kicked the Alicorn in the horn. Crying out in pain, the Alicorn's head lowered and accidentally struck the ground with her horn. The stored up magic detonated, leaving a sizable crater. Spike was thrown back by the blast, but was unharmed. The foals shielded her eyes from the black light. The Alicorn emerged, her feathers ruffled, her coat singed, and her now a mess.

Button Mash blinked. "Critical fumble."

And Sweetie Belle took her opportunity and pounced on the Alicorn from behind, hugging her.

There was a green flash of light, and when it cleared, Gabby Gums was missing her horn, and was now only a few years older than the CMC. Her coat and mane were also less pale and had lost the stripe. She looked at herself in confusion and alarm, and took a few trots back.

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo grinned.

Then Gabby Gums pulled a boulder-sized apple of nowhere and kicked it into a roll towards the little heroes. Button Mash used his sword to slice the apple in two, then time seemed to slow down as he cut it up into neat little apple slices that he gathered up in his inventory.

"Thanks! Maybe throw a golden apple next time?" he quipped.

"Don't mock me!" Gabby Gums replied.

Sweetie Belle caught Gabby Gums’ legs with her telekinesis, but Gabby's pegasus flight-field and earth pony strength shattered Sweetie's grip. Spike might have been nearly indestructible but he wasn't fast, and his attempts to grapple the two-thirds Alicorn didn't go so hot.

Gabby still had Scootaloo's agility and Apple Bloom's endurance and still easily dodged both their attempts to hug her.

"Surrender to Diamond Tiara losers! It's fer yer own dang good!"

Button Mash used his giant leaf to blow a gust of wind at Gabby Gums who countered using her wings to blow the wind back at him using pegasus magic and earth pony strength, Button Mash brought up his shield to block it. Scootaloo repeated her trick of trying to catch Gabby Gums from above, but this time Gabby saw it coming and dove low. She dove up as Apple Bloom jumped up to grab her, and was then blind sided by a bolt of magic from Sweetie Belle. Gabby faltered and flew back to get distance above them keeping her eye on Scootaloo. Spike then seemed to leap through the air and grabbed her from behind... he'd used his claws to climb up the side of the room.

Scootaloo took the chance Spike gave her and rushed in and hugged Gabby Gums. There was a flash of blue light, and in Gabby Gum's place was another Apple Bloom.

"Oof!" cried both Spike and Gabby Gums as the now flightless Earth Pony fell to the ground.

Gabby Gums blinked confused and looked around innocently.

"Hey... " Apple Bloom said calmly trotting up her. Her friends all ready for any surprises. "Hug?"

"Okay." The two Apple Blooms hugged, and in a flash of light, only the original stood there.

Scootaloo grinned at the ceiling and said simply. "Nice try."

"Don't get cocky," Apple Bloom said. "We still got a long way to go."

"Remember we still have Alula and Tootsie to worry about, not to mention Diamond Tiara and Discord." Sweetie said the last with a shudder.

Scootaloo whispered, "Don't worry, it's just trash talk," She said louder. "Nice move there, Spike."

"It was nothing." Spike grinned. "Guess it's good for you I'm here." They all hugged.

Button checked the map. "Okay, one last floor, room, whatever for the Intermediate Floors, then it's on to the Upper Floors... so be prepared for something extra nasty. Or maybe we'll get a new chance to save and new nice stuff."

"Only one way to find out..." Apple Bloom said.

Up the next set of stairs they went.

It was the same ugly grim pink and black... but this room... felt different. Apple Bloom wasn't sure how to describe it. A part of her felt like she'd stepped out of an apple orchard and into an orange orchard.

The stairs were different too... this was the first time there was an actual barrier in front of it: A ghostly white door with three indentations in it. The engravings were shaped like the cutie marks of Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Silver Spoon.

"Do we need to go all the way back down and get Silver Spoon now?" Spike groaned.

Apple Bloom tilted her head. "This feels kinda arbitrary. Does she want to see Silver Spoon?"

"... No, she... it's... that's the last thing she wants," Sweetie Belle whispered.

"Well, I've got an item that lets us teleport right out of a 'dungeon' back to the entrance. So at least we don't have to go all the way back down." Button Mash offered.

Before the discussion could go further, a stone with their cutie mark engraved on it appeared before Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo... a third one flickered about as if confused before appearing in Spike's claws.

"Huh? Why are they just giving us the keys to go forward? This is too weird." Scootaloo knew the basics of video game keys.

Apple Bloom felt a burning in her truthful eye.

She saw them... the leech/snake/centipede things, they rushed towards her friends.

Silver Spoon held her left forehoof against the stump on her right shoulder, at least the bleeding had stopped. The pony in the hockey mask had attacked her, as she'd tried to reach her friends, trying to reach the type writer on her own to help save Diamond Tiara. With the laws of spacial relations dead, she'd wandered hundreds of miles in the span of a couple hours.

Now she wandered in the shattered and broken remains of a black crystal castle. Flags of an equal sign were strung about, as were the withered remains of something that looked like a cross between a flutterpony and a windigo except it looked to be made of shadow and smoke.

She also found a red horn... glowing with an inner light.

"Hello, child."

"Wha-... w-who are you?" Silver Spoon stuttered at the voice coming from the horn.

"Who are you?"

They exchanged identities... and she learned about the king of shadows and smoke who had lost everything he held dear.

"I had so much power... but for what? What did I gain? What did I lose? I had no goal. No purpose..."

"I have a goal... a reason... a purpose... but I have no power... to change anything."

"Not even to save the one you care for most?"


"Then perhaps... we are alike somehow... perhaps, we both have what the other was missing all this time."

Silver Spoon willing and knowingly put the horn upon her head, and was enveloped in shadow and smoke. She emerged with a new black crystal foreleg. And upon her head was the red horn. She had discarded her glasses, her eyes now the eyes of black magic, green replacing her whites and red her irises. "I will make a world where Diamond Tiara is happy... where I'm happy... where everypony is happy without the meddling or opinions, everypony will be the queen of their own little world... as we already are... "


Scootaloo looked at her friends. Then she looked at her forgotten friends. Baby Hana-Looloo. Toola-Roola. Star-Song. And the others she'd seen Glitter Glide, Fiesta Flare. All in the past, All forgotten, all swept aside for the sake of the 'new' and 'better' world... no better than what had happened to this world... why... why shouldn't they restore their world? Their reality?

"Come to me. I'll keep you all safe." Scootaloo stood on her rear legs and spread out her arms, letting the shadows come to her. But she wasn't done. All the shadows, everywhere, who had been erased with the death of the old world... they flew to her like a beacon, flying into her, combining with her, their faces emerging on her as she grew into a mare, her wings spread large, showing the faces of those forgotten who wished to exist again.

She'd bring them back, and her new friends could be made to fit paradise. And any that got in her way... she'd do what needed to be done for her friends.


"BLANKY!" Sweetie Belle cried, holding the bleeding wolf pup in her forelegs. "How could this have happened?!"

She looked up to see the Blank Hound looking rather pleased with itself. "You big bully!" Sweetie nuzzled Blanky. "It's okay... " She hugged him tight. He licked her face. "We'll..." The black magic flashed in Sweetie's eyes, calling upon her feelings of loss and anger. "We'll be together forever!" Both were covered in a green pillar of changeling flame. When it cleared, there was a creature that resembled a cross between a pony and a wolf, as large as an adult. It leapt at Blank Hound, overwhelming it with power and fury, then... she/he ate the Hound's heart, ripping it from the Hound's chest, and grew larger still.

"!!!thE poweR tO remakE thE worlD, we'lL usE iT returN ouR WorlD tO thE hearT worlD, alL deviationS anD inconsistencieS wilL bE eraseD !!!alL thaT stanD iN ouR waY wilL bE devoureD"


Apple Bloom stood in the room, each of her three friends have surrendered to the temptation to remake the world in their image... now each of them held one of the three stones needed to move forward. Politely waiting as video bosses would, for her to challenge each one to a fight to the death, and she would, for her own world without lies.

In Apple Bloom's artistic eye, she saw,

Apple Bloom was ready to face her friends, and fight them to the end in this vicious battle royal to claim the prize of racing Diamond Tiara and taking the type writer for themselves and deciding how the new world would be. Becoming the goddess of the new world.

She then, by chance glanced at Zecora's earring still on one of her ears... and it clicked, this was all just another rumor that was affecting them all! She would use all her power, all her will to bring her friends back to themselves and be free of these rumors!

What both her eyes saw ... was the rumor worms trying to enter herself and Button Mash, only to ricochet off her friends like unhappy bullets! Trying again and again, only to be knocked away each time with no progress made, mindlessly attempting the same act over and over.

Sweetie shivered. "They're around us aren't they? Shub's curse carriers?"

Apple Bloom nodded. "Yeah... but.. Ah think this curse is... out dated... it's targetin' us but... doesn't have a thing for Button Mash or Spike... and it thought Silver Spoon would be here with us... "

Sweetie Belle blushed. "I guess nothing's gone exactly to plan."

"Nothing ever does," Scootaloo said with a smirk.

"Don't tell that to Twilight!" Spike laughed.

"Dad always said that drove his friend Graffer crazy whenever they played Oubliettes and Ogres!" Button giggled.

Apple Bloom's Diary

Ah calmed down a good bit, these things couldn't do a thing to us.

"Well come on, girls," Scootaloo said. "Let's put these rocks in place and hurry up!"

Scootaloo fluttered open and put her rock in the door.

Placed The Naught Stone Came the message on Button's magic window.

Sweetie used her magic and set the next piece into place.

Placed The Beast Stone

"Okaym Spike, now you," Scootaloo said.

Spike kept looking at the pebble.

"Spike, I don't think eating it is a good idea," Sweetie said.

Spike was shaking.

That's when Ah noticed what was happenin'! All them curse monsters that kept tryin' to get inta us?! As they got knocked away, Spike was gettin' caught in the cross fire! They were gettin' flung into him! NO!

Ah could see'em worm their way into Spike! His eyes got more thin and green like than they normally are, and he hissed out his tongue like a snake.

"I've... I've got a chance here to make it so I'm old enough to be with Rarity, so everypony will be okay with us living happily ever after, I can make it so we live happily ever after! I can make her a dragoness! I can make it so everypony takes me seriously! I can make it so the Element of Loyalty worked when Twilight made me The New Rainbow Dash! I can fix Twilight's stupid discomfort around tacos! I can fix EVERYTHING! Spike... WANT!"

And Spike grew.

"Have you gone nuts?!" Button Mash shouted.

"It's the curses! They went for 'em instead!"

Spike kept growing.

= 'Reason Battle' - Megami III Nocturne =

Scootaloo paled. "Girls! No offense! But if he grows to full size Spikezilla, then our chances of ever being heard from again are nothing to less than nothing!"

"He could bring the whole tower down! Remember when he went through Ponyville?" Sweetie asked. "And that'd include the typewriter!"

'What if he does bring down the tower?'

"Less work for us then, obviously," Diamond said without feeling.

'Ah! Right!'

"We're gonna free him! We did it before with the computer brain, and we'll do it again!" Ah said defiantly.

"We couldn't snap Spike out of being Spikezilla before," Button Mash said.

"That was before! We're true friends now!" Apple Bloom shouted boldly.

"Think a heart song can cure him?" Sweetie asked.

"That worked when he was corrupted by an outside lie, now he's got four inside 'em!"

"Whatever we're gonna do we better do it now!" Button Mash said, his eyes huge pointing at a Spike now as big as Big Mac!

"Give Spike stones!"

"We already put them in the door!" Sweetie shouted.

Spike turned and bolted for the door.


"No ya don't!" Scoots flew above Spike and dropped her rear hooves hard on top of Spike's head. Spike's eyes bulged as he grunted. Sweetie grunted too as she grabbed Spike's tail with her magic. Sweetie yelped as Spike actually dragged HER along through sheer strength!

"Not supposed to work this way!" Sweetie shouted as she dug her hooves in, feeling like her horn was going to be torn out. "How does this even work?!"

"Don't worry Sweetie, I'll save-" Button selected an item from his inventory, but-

"Spike want!"

The item vanished from his inventory. "Hey!"

Button tried again with the same result.

"Spike want!"

"He keeps stealing items!"

"Keep it up. It's distratin' him!" Apple Bloom shouted.

"SPIKE!" One of the girls shouted. "It's okay to be greedy!" This somehow actually got the big Spike's attention. "You're a DRAGON! Being greedy is a part of you but... but... but you've got FREE WILL! You decide if you're going to do greedy things or not! You've never wanted to do something that would hurt your friends!"

Spike startled. "Not... give... happy ending... Rarity..."

"The happy ending YOU want! Not the happy ending SHE wants!" Apple Bloom shouted.

That threw the huge Spike for another loop. But then he snarled, "Yes... Spike! Want!"

'So that's it? There's no way to win? No! If these's game rules, that means there's gotta be a way to win!'

Apple Bloom ran in front of Spike.

"Yer 'wants' aren't all ya are! Yer good at cookin', ya can play the flute, the piano and the drums! And yer a great narrator and announcer!"

Spike tried to swat Apple Bloom away, Button Mash took the blow instead with his shield and was sent flying.

'A friend ain't just what they can do.'

"Ya learned puppy dog eyes from me, after I learned it from Sweetie Belle. Ya freed Twilight from the curse when we could just hold on! Yer ALWAYS bein' there fer Twilight! Ya fought a zillion times to get Smarty Pants back from Big Mac for Twilight! Ya were a jerk to Silver Spoon after she was a jerk to Twilight!"

Spike tried to splat Apple Bloom, but Scootaloo pulled her out of the way.

'A friend ain't just what they've done.'

Spike roared.

'What does all that stuff Ah said MEAN about Spike?! It ain't about all the fights we had with the baddies!'

"SPIKE AH KNOW WHAT YER GOIN' THROUGH! A piece of ya that ya didn't ask for! But it ain't goin' away! It just keeps growin' and growin'! Until it feels like it's gonna eat ya alive! It FEELS GOOD doesn't it? Just lettin' it become ya! It's wrong yet so right! But it isn't all of us!

"Yer greedy Spike, but yer generous too! Ya take care of Twilight but ya ain't her servant! Ya like Rarity but ya feel more than that! Ya read comics and books! Ya ain't scared of sharin' what ya think but yer polite! Ya and Silver are both livin' fer somepony else but ya know when to step in for her sake!"

Apple Bloom looked up at him.

"... Bein' greedy, and bein' honesty isn't all we are! Ah'm MORE than truth and apples! And yer MORE than greed and likin' Rarity!! Spike the Friend! Spike The Knight! Spike The Kid! Spike The Fancy! Spike The Dragon! Spike The Son And Little Brother! There's an ARMY of different Spikes inside ya! And they're more than a match for one greedy dragon!"

Spike stopped. His eyes widened, his pupil dilated.

A shockwave of rainbow colors sprang from Spike, freeing the room of the ugly dust pink and ash gray. At the same time, Spike shrank back down to his baby dragon size.

The friends looked at each other, Button Mash finishing a healing potion, and rushed to the baby dragon's side. "SPIKE!"

= I'll Face Myself (Another Version) - Persona 4 =

They all hugged.

"S-Sorry, I-I was ... I'm better than that... I'd never..."

"Shush, it's okay Spike, nothin' to forgive, it wasn't ya."

"And nothing that a healing potion or two won't cure anyway." Button Mash grinned, trying his best to make a joke, and failing.

"That... that was the curse, wasn't it." Spike said, it wasn't a question. "I saw stuff I know didn't happen... you, and you, and you... no stuff about you Button Mash... and... This is the curse's nest right? That means there's lots of 'em."

That was when the disturbing reality hit the foals at about the same time.

'We ain't got Razzaroo no more to write down stuff that happens... meanin' Spike bein' cured of the curse isn't written down in her magic book anywhere... that means... the same thing can happen to Spike again... and again...'

When the foals didn't respond, Spike knew what their answer was.

"So that's how it is, huh?" Spike remarked calmly.

"N-now, hold on, Spike!" Scootaloo said. "Them monsters are running out of magic for the curse! This curse was a left over! There's nothing to say there's gonna be more of 'em!"

"... And... there's nothing to say there won't be more."

"We could send a message to Razzaroo!" said Sweetie Belle.

"One issue with that: I don't have Razzaroo's 'address', so to speak."

That was when a very bad thought crept into Apple Bloom's mind whether she wanted it or not. 'There was already more... we freed Spike already in the gallery, and before that in Twilight Sparkle's library... what... what'll be next?'

A flash of pain went through Apple Bloom's eye.

Apple Bloom looked around with the truth, her gut instinct telling her to. And she... she could see them now... eyeballs with batwings... mindless... soulless manifestation of a scrying spell, but she didn't know that detail. But she did figure what they meant well enough. 'Diamond Tiara and Discord, they've been watchin' us the whole time. Meanin' they've seen twice Spike affected by the rumors while we weren't.' She whispered. "Button Mash, give me yer raygun."

"That's not really what it's-"

"Now. The walls got eyes." Button complied.

With the accuracy of her truthful eye, Apple Bloom zapped each of the invisible flying eyeball monsters, bursting into pixels as she did so.
'Hey! That's no fair!'

"Nothing's lost, father, we just need to cast the spell again."

'Yes but it's annoying! And actually finding where to send them takes EFFORT! And you know how much I hate EFFORT!'

"Apple Bloom, what was that?" Scoots asked.

"My Truth kicked it up a notch, Ah could see we were bein' spied on, ya can guess who. Took out the peepers." Apple Bloom gave Button Mash back his zapper. And that settled, Apple turned her eyes back towards Spike.

'There's gotta be somethin', maybe Ah can make somethin' like Scootaloo's pendant she gave Cheerilee? But... if makin' 'em was that easy... wouldn't Maud Pie and her friends of made 'em and given 'em to Applejack and her friends after we freed 'em? If we could even make one, wouldn't they have given it to Princess Luna? Or Princess Cadence or Shinin' Armor?'

Spike took in a deep breath. "It was fun while it lasted. Button Mash, that fancy item of yours... the one you said that could teleport us out of here ... can one dragon use it?"

The foal gasped having Spike say it plainly. "... I... I think so... maybe? I've never tried it like that before... maybe... if you were in your own party?"

"You're really... just giving up?" Scootaloo asked.

"Picking my battle... Remember? I wouldn't ask you girls to swim naked in lava to rescue something," Spike shuddered. "This isn't easy for me either. So let's do this before I change my mind! Punch Discord in the face for me. And tell Diamond Tiara to stop being a big stinky butt for Silver Spoon's sake!"

The girls and boy gave Spike all a separate hug.

"If we don't win..." Sweetie started.

"You WILL," Spike replied. "I have faith in you."

"...All the same," Sweetie said with a smile. "Take care of Twilight."

"What have I been doing all my life except for a few years she took care of me?" Spike joked. "...Of course I will, she's my family."

"Scootaloo, you're the bravest filly I know. But don't be just a clone Rainbow Dash. Remember how cool your scooter is."

"Don't worry, I'm not. And I will."

"Sweetie... it's great to have you as a friend. I know what it's like to have firepower you gotta keep a lid on. Button Mash... Don't believe anypony who calls ya a wimp. And Apple Bloom, ah what the heck! You know how I feel! And it's not like we're not gonna see each other again!" Spike hugged them in one big-little dragon hug. "See yah WHEN the world's safe again."

With misty eyes, Button Mash gave Spike a small flute. "Just... just blow on it, nothing else it."

"Gotcha. Been fun, girls! See ya at the victory celebration! And BE CAREFUL without me to watch your backs."

"Good bye, Spike," Sweetie Belle said. The others repeated.

Misty eyed himself, Spike blew on the flute, and vanished into a glowing blue whirl wind.

The foals hugged one another again, and left the middle levels behind them.


"So Razzaroo, what did you mean by- SPIKE?! Where did you come from?! Are you okay?! Are you hurt?"

"Heh... heh.. hi Twilight... I'm back. Hey, Razzaroo. Hey, wanna hear some stuff ya wanna write down?"