Rainbow Dash grumbled in frustration, "Ugh, where did he go?"
Rarity's hooves hurt from days of walking, "I don't know. Can we please take a break? We haven't stopped for hours!"
"Come on, Rarity, he can't be that far ahead, surely?" AJ reasoned, trying to maintain Rarity's morale.
"And let's not forget the fate of Equestria rests on us!" Pinkie gleefully bounced.
Rarity sighed, "How do you still have so much energy, Pinkie? Honestly."
Rainbow hovered above the ponies, scoping out the landscape and keeping an eye on the others. She noticed Fluttershy lagging behind, "Come on, Fluttershy. Keep up!"
The exhausted little pegasus panted, "I'm trying." RD swooped down, picking up Fluttershy and carrying her ahead of the group.
Rarity moaned, "She has wings! Can't you carry me instead?"
RD placed Fluttershy down several yards in front of everypony else, "I can't carry everypony!"
"What about that one time at the Young Fliers' Competition? You carried me and the Wonderbolts to safety!"
"Yeah, but I hadn't travelled across the whole of Equestria and beyond when I did that. I'm exhausted, too!"
Rarity groaned. Pinkie's ears tingled as a strange noise quietly penetrated her ear, "What's that?"
AJ was confused, "What's what?"
"Shh, shh, shh, shh!"
RD's ears were the next to twitch, "I hear it. What is that?"
Fluttershy cowered, "A-are we too late?"
AJ grunted, "No, we can't be! There's no way!"
RD flew off ahead to scout the area. After a few seconds of near supersonic flight, she approached a nearby cliff face. Over the edge, below in a deep valley, she observed Sunburst and the towering walls of Tartarus crumbling to dust. "Oh no, no no no no no." she whispered to herself before shooting off back to the group.
Rarity looked up to the skies, "Did you find out what that ghastly noise was, Dashie?"
"Yeah. We're in trouble. It's Sunburst; he's destroyed the wall!"
Fluttershy gasped and squeaked in terror. She hunkered down to the ground and shook in fear. AJ snorted, "Darn it! Come on, everypony, we gotta stop him now!"
Fluttershy poked her head up from between her hooves, "We need Twilight!"
Applejack grabbed Fluttershy up from the ground, "Forget her! If it weren't for Twilight, none of this woulda been happening!"
Rarity turned to AJ in shock, "Applejack!"
"Well it's true!"
"Maybe? She downright abandoned us! Our own Princess! In our time of need!"
"She didn't abandon us, Applejack. Twilight would never do that!"
"Well whaddya call runnin' off when Sunburst went all loopy? We could have contained him there and then!"
"I'm sure she had a good reason."
"Rarity, he destroyed the Crystal Heart! The entire Empire was consumed 'cause of her!"
Rainbow's anger had slowly increased as Applejack and Rarity's exchange continued, "Guys! Stop arguing! We need to focus now! Sunburst is over there unleashing all the demons in Tartarus upon Equestria!"
Fluttershy cowered once more, "W-what if Tirek gets out?"
"I think Tirek will be the least of our worries if all of Tartarus gets out. Now come on!"
Though tired and weary, the five ponies pushed on. The final stretch of their journey took every last ounce of energy they had, but eventually they reached the edge of the cliffs overlooking the gate of Tartarus where they witnessed scores of monsters rushing out from behind the broken wall. Minotaurs, Hydras, Dragons, Zombies, Vampires, Goblins and many more abominations and evil-minded creatures were all among the crowds. It was disorganised chaos, and many attempted to flee into the surrounding forests. A powerful beam of electric blue magic shot high into the sky, cascading over the entire scene, creating a protective shield and sealing the demons, Sunburst and the ponies inside.
Sunburst elevated himself high above the crumbled wall and a trickle of sparkling magic descended down his throat. "Denizens of Tartarus," Sunburst's voice boomed throughout the area, loud and clear enough to be heard clearly by everything within the confines of the protected area, "I am Sunburst. I am your new ruler." The crowd erupted with waves of jeering and anger.
Sunburst saw the dissonance and would not tolerate it. He picked out a group of creatures and magically dragged them towards him. Several large hydras, about a dozen dragons, and a small group of manticores were lifted into the air. Each creature was engulfed in their own bubble with a trail of magic leading from their temporary prisons back to Sunburst's horn. Without the slightest hint of effort from Sunburst, a surge of magic shot through the trails to the bubbles of the captive demons, it instantly destroyed each one and turned them into vaporised corpses. The ponies looked on with a mixture of fear and anger, and grit their teeth as they looked on.
The bubbles burst, the giant shield dropped, and the dusty debris of the bodies drifted along the breeze and scattered across the faces of the beasts below. "You will obey me, lest you suffer the same fate." The crowd fell mostly silent. "Tonight we take this world for our own. Tonight we will topple cities and destroy Gods! Tonight we march onto Canterlot and Celestia shall answer for her tyranny... with her life!" The crowd erupted in cheer.
The cheers were interrupted, however, by the familiar call of a rainbow-maned pegasus, "Not so fast, Sunburst!" Rainbow Dash flew up from the cliff, confronting Sunburst. "We're here to stop you!"
Sunburst cackled, "You're outnumbered by - what? - a million to one? Go home you fools!"
Applejack shouted quietly, "Rainbow! What are you doing? Get back down here!"
RD turned her back on Sunburst, which would be her undoing. Before she even had time to open her mouth, Sunburst had seized the opportunity and trapped Dash within a tight, metal cage, throwing her violently into the pits of Tartarus. The other four ponies were taken by surprise, and in unison "Rainbow!" they cried.
Sunburst floated towards them from the distance, "My magic far surpasses anything ever seen by mortal creatures. Even your precious Elements stand no chance."
Pinkie was the first to react to Sunburst's approach, "Run!" she screamed, immediately attempting to flee.
She was the next to go. Sunburst captured Pinkie and locked her inside a magical orb and sent her barrelling into Tartarus. Three remained. "Who's next?"
Rarity angrily stomped her hooves on the ground, "You're a monster, Sunburst!"
Sunburst chuckled as a beautiful blue ribbon of magic flowed through the air towards Rarity. It glided gently over her body and wrapped itself around her hooves before materialising as shackles, locking her in tight. Sunburst smirked as he lifted her high off the ground and flung her into Tartarus.
Sunburst turned his attention to Fluttershy who was now crying on the floor. The moment he did, however, Applejack leapt between the two of them, snorting and grunting, ready to pounce. Her confidence in being able to defend Fluttershy was misplaced, of course, as Sunburst extended a magical rope, lassoing AJ and using the rope to throw the orange Earth pony through the gates.
Only Fluttershy remained. Sunburst quietly and gently descended to where she trembled. He reached out a hoof and lifted her head from the ground. He stared intimidatingly into her eyes. The petrified pegasus couldn't keep eye contact. "Shh," he whispered to her, "it'll all be fine." He smiled as his magic slowly began to turn Fluttershy's body to stone.
"Why are you doing this?"
Sunburst grinned slyly as blue flames roared inside his eyes, but the question fell on deaf ears. "Send my regards to Tirek!" he bellowed as he disposed of her into Tartarus.
Sunburst turned to the crowd one final time, pointing a hoof in the direction of Equestria. "The Elements of Harmony have been disposed of. You have nothing to fear. Now... we march!"