• Published 12th Sep 2013
  • 4,103 Views, 105 Comments

Millennium Wake: Part II - notMurphy

After a thousand years of magical slumber and a trip halfway around the world, what else is in store for Rarity?

  • ...

Chapter 1 (25)

Red, the entire world had turned red. Rarity was reminded of the time Twilight Sparkle had tested a spell for boiling water. Pinkie Pie predictably interrupted Twilight, causing her to miss her intended target. Instead, the spell struck a tomato with enough magic to flash boil a pot of water. Spike had insisted on listing the results as a new spell, Detonate Tomato.

The viscous red mess currently spraying everywhere was neither as harmless nor humorous as the atomized tomato had been. The sound of Fluttershy's screaming voice, punctuated with a gargled choking, did not help matters. The purple-maned mare reminded herself that it was not her dear friend, but a twisted copy that corrupted all life it came in contact with. The living wooden walls shook, rippling and buckling as they tore apart, spraying meat, all manner of fluids, and plant matter. The previously white unicorn was not having a good day, even by the standards of the nightmarish future world she found herself living in.

Surprise, the deranged blonde pegasus, blinked several times before pointing a hoof past Rarity's head, "Heartburn!" she cried. At times like this it was entirely believable she was the umpteenth generational descendant of Pinkie Pie. At other times it was hard to believe she was even a pony.

The time-displaced mare grit her teeth, "Surprise, this is absolutely the wrong time to be making some sick joke about–" Rarity stopped, noticing that both Megan the two-leg and whomever was in charge of Firefly's body at the moment were staring the same direction the … usually white pegasus pointed. With some trepidation she turned to see what all the fuss was about.

A fountain of iridescent liquid with a golden-tangerine hue sprayed up through the hole they had torn escaping from the factory's stomach. "Heartburn is where stomach acid spills up the esophagus, there's a ... valve-thing that normally prevents that, or something." Firefly spoke without moving her eyes from the bizarrely beautiful spectacle, even as some of the more unfortunate chimera were unmade by the onrushing hyper-corrosive juices. The former fashion pony noticed that some of the pegasus's original coloring was starting to show under the blue fur dye… where her fur wasn't a soggy crimson red at the moment. Random muscles in the pegasus's face twitched, the external sign of the furious battle taking place in her psyche between her brain's native-born personality and a magically implanted copy of Rainbow Dash's mental imprint. A reminder that this was another pony Rarity wasn't able to do anything for.

Half of the remaining chimeric monstrosities seemed content to either stand motionless or to collapse where they stood. There was no time to comprehend their behavior, for the remainder had decided to destroy Rarity and her friends at all costs, correctly identifying them as the source of their tragedy. One chimera fought on their behalf, Sapphire, the half-dragon half-pony. Supposedly his genetic structure was a mixture of her own and Spike's. She had never had a chance to sort out her feelings for the one-time baby dragon, whose devotion to her was obvious when one considered that he spent the remainder of his considerable lifespan guarding Rarity's sleeping form during her thousand year slumber.

Thinking on that, the white unicorn turned to watch … her son? Who and what-ever he was, she watched the blue dragon-pony fight side by side with her allies. 'Of course, the monsters saw him destroy the tree's heart, so he's in as much danger as the rest of us.' As much as she wanted to attribute better impulses to a being she was related to, it was not a conceit she could afford to make. Her instincts were often at odds with the way things worked in the 'United Lands of Equestria'.

Megan was pinned by an ox with octopus tentacles ending in razor-sharp crab claws. "A little help, please, Rarity!?" she shouted, ducking as the monstrosity tried to take her head off. Glittering razor sharp knives flickered in her hands, slicing off tentacles that regrew as fast as the human could strike.

The former fashionista narrowed her eyes, blasting the oxoctocrab –'Nice name!' Surprise's voice echoed through Rarity's head, surpris … startling her. 'Not now, Surprise' thought the white mare, once again reminded of how abnormal the pegasus was– away from the human, into a patch of panther-shark-goats, and off the rapidly dwindling non-acidified ground the group desperately defended. Memories of being swung like a weapon burned in the back of her mind – she would have a reckoning with Megan later, but this was neither the time nor the place to worry about such things. 'Wait, what was that about–'

"Rarity we need–" maybe Firefly began...

"Mother, you need to get out of–" interjected Sapphire, before...

"It's getting hard to breath in here–" Megan commented.

"Jinx!" cried Surprise, giggling as she lobbed explosive candy shells at mutant monstrosities.

"Hey! Stop trying to talk over me–" the split pegasus shouted

"There isn't time for this–" growled the dragon-pony.

"Oh, for crying out loud!" Megan snarled, habitually snapping her fingers in order to freeze the annoying and aggressive amalgamation in time and space by means of the same technological marvels that let her create matter from stored energy. Sapphire glared at her, but otherwise nothing very much happened. The human groaned, beginning to wonder what the point of having godlike techno-powers was if every blasted magic user in this world could counteract everything her computer could do, "The only thing we all agree on is that we need to get out of here. Alright?" Getting the last word in was some small comfort.

The blue draconic hybrid moved toward his surviving genetic donor just as the white pegasus made to pick her up. Sapphire opened his mouth to speak, and was knocked flat by a ten foot tall snail with a rhinoceros horn. A moment later a beam of coherent rainbow turned it into the world's second largest dish of escargot. "Really? What was the first one?" Surprise asked, apparently speaking to herself as she hoisted the white unicorn onto her back. "*Ksshht*, this is Marshmallow One, we are clear for takeoff."

Rarity did her best to tune out the blonde pegasus's prattle, instead calling on the band's dubious new ally, "Sapphire, can you clear us a pathway to the closest outside wall?" The dragon-hybrid nodded, unleashing a torrent of blue fire ahead of the four friends, which managed to take down most of the chimeric fliers in their way. The remainder had traded maneuverability for armor such as iron-plated butterflies, bat-winged molluscs, armadillo armored arachnid wasps, and stone skinned rocs, all of which were slow enough to be avoided.

A quick glance at Megan and Firefly was all the purple-maned mare needed to see that they understood the plan: concentrate their fire on a single point in the wall and, hopefully, break through.

Rarity's tail twitched a few times, but otherwise behaved it's horrid self, for now. Aside from losing her friends, family, and hometown, what she resented most about the future was the loss of her tail. The twisted imprint of Fluttershy had tried to twist the white mare into a monster, and had succeeded in making her tail an abomination that required continuous effort to keep from harming anyone around her.

The unicorn hadn't recovered enough energy to unleash another round of annihilation magic like she had when facing a false Sweetie Bell earlier, but she could still contribute more conventionally offensive spells. She shied away from how easy it had been to rain destruction upon the hateful impostor. True it had been an insult to her real sister's legacy and had relentlessly tried to destroy Rarity's psyche, but… she shook her head, there was no time to even think about it yet.

The group's efforts met with more success than they had expected, the connective tissues of the tree degenerating rapidly with the loss of the gargantuan structure's vitality. Nevertheless, they had to blast through three fleshy wooden walls before reaching blessed daylight and relatively fresh air.

A stupendous swarm of confused conglomerate creatures crowded confoundingly beyond the bark barrier. The beasts didn't seem to be doing anything so much as helplessly watching their creator and homeland expire horrifically. Rarity shook away the sense that she and her friends had just destroyed an ecosystem – for it had been a horrible monster that wanted to warp and destroy everything it touched while reaching out to touch everything. The white unicorn used her magic to fling monsters out of their path with, perhaps, more force than was strictly necessary.

In an action that was becoming far too routine, Surprise unceremoniously dumped her equine cargo into the flying life-raft Megan's marvelous technology created. The former fashionista frowned, her awareness returned to the never-ending task of staying alive just a little longer in the ULE. Firefly grabbed the ropes on the front of the craft that would let the pegasus pull the vessel and everyone inside. The exhausted unicorn took a moment to marvel at the Rainbow-Tech machinery that had replaced the flying pony's original organic wings. The new, jet-like wings seemed like a metaphor for this brave new world: amazing wonders at the cost of what used to exist naturally.

With a loud groan the gargantuan treelike monstrosity's branches began to buckle under their own weight, dropping leaves that could have covered whole city blocks to plummet where they would. And a great many of them would have landed on and crushed the fleeting friends.

Rarity called on her dwindling remaining energy reserve to catch incoming leaves with telekinesis, shoving them to the side. Overhead, Sapphire incinerated more of the leafy menace, the largest leaving behind ash, the smaller leaves vanishing in puffs of magic smoke that were achingly familiar to the unicorn. For a moment she imagined the leaves arriving over Princess Celestia's desk, burying her under enough mulch to cover Ponyville fifty feet deep, twice over. She couldn't help snorting at the absurdity. Surprise shot her a bemused look, but didn't say anything.

What felt like hours later, Firefly made a skipping, stumbling landing. The boat vanished in a flash, depositing the passengers rudely onto the ground, none of whom bothered to get up for several minutes. Rarity watched as Surprise bounded to her hooves and began a vigorous stretching routine. The pegasus's renewed energy was more unbelievable than her once again sparklingly white coat.

Something nagged at the back of the unicorn's mind. "Er, Surprise, dear, what has you up and moving again so quickly?" She had the most terrible feeling the pegasus would say something–

"...about going back to the base of the Fluttershy Fabrications Factree to retrieve the pink book that my great to the umpteenth grandmare Pinkie Pie wrote? That's a super-good guess, Marshy, how'd you know?" there was a distinct edge of sarcasm to the bubbly winged pony's voice, for all that she sounded upbeat and bouncy.

"You can't be serious, darling. I don't ever want to see that horrible place again…" despite her words Rarity struggled to her hooves, groaning.

Surprise watched the white unicorn struggle, her expression softening a little. "Marshy, stay down. Ya' don't have to come with me, even if you did promise to help me find it. I'll be ok on my own."

"Ever since I awoke in this time I have been pushed, pulled, prodded, and generally flung about by the whims of fate. I've barely been able to help myself, and have continuously failed the few ponies… and other," Rarity nodded at Megan who tipped a non-existent hat in return. "That I have managed to befriend. I am tired of failing to meet my own expectations, let alone those of others. So if you would be so kind as to not condescend to me, I believe I shall be ready to accompany you in a moment." Huffed the mare with a purple mane, taking deep breaths.

Despite her speech, she was surprised to see the others slowly standing as well. She bit her lip to keep from saying anything sappy or cynical, let alone insulting her friends by suggesting they stay behind when she wasn't going to. If their show of solidarity didn't involve going back to the steaming, liquefied remains of the most horrid place Rarity had ever been, she'd have said said she felt encouraged.

By general agreement the party made their way back by land. A trip that had taken twenty breathless minutes of flight out became a two hour hike the other way.

Fifteen minutes into their walk, Rarity couldn't contain herself anymore, rounding on the human. "Megan, we need to talk about what you did to me."

The biped nodded, not quite making eye contact, "so talk. Explain to me how trying to save everyone's lives was a bad thing – I'd love to hear it." She folded her arms over her chest, frowning.

"There were other options, and you deliberately made me use that… that thing." Unfortunately, mentioning her tail seemed to waken it from the relative quiescence it had enjoyed recently. Still the unicorn was becoming accustomed to restraining it's alien impulses. The segmented length of it writhed, causing the sharp stinger at the end to slice through some of the underbrush they navigated. Thankfully none of it seemed to crystallize.

"What were these 'other options' you're talking about, huh? You'd just spent a huge amount of energy frying a copy of your sister– as a matter of fact, what was up with that?"

"I do beg your pardon. What. Was. Up. With. What?" The unicorn's eye twitched as she enunciated each word.

The biped counted off on her fingers. "There's adequate force, and then there's overkill, and then there's what you did to destroy one filly."

"That was no filly – you saw what they did in the 'Hall of Life', I'm glad that blast was enough."

"Rarity, you vaporised half the horde of chimera and part of the chamber we were in, in addition to the little monster."

"You don't understand, she made me not want to live anymore. If I hadn't needed to get you, Firefly, and possibly Surprise out of there, I would have let them kill me in that moment." The white-coated unicorn realized she was shouting when she noticed the others staring at her. She began again, in a hushed tone, "I thought my own sister had died despising me, only to be reborn as a spiteful abomination of everything equine. And that it was all my fault."

The human female nodded, wiping sweat from her brow. "Yeah, I know a bit about guilt." She made a noise part-way between a chuckle and a sob, "And that's exactly why I'm going to tell you to GET OVER IT!"

The unicorn stopped, unaware that her tail had risen behind her, remarkably like the threatening posture of a scorpion. "What? You dare to compare the absolute massacre you committed to anything I have done?"

Megan felt her heartbeat and adrenaline rise, but this had to be addressed, "Yeah, I guess you're right… in my case I was thinking about the fate of countless other people, whereas you're wallowing in a personal tragedy and only thought about the rest of us as a burden and an excuse to do what you wanted."

"Oh? Ohh? What I wanted? The only thing that I have left in this blasted heath of a world is the ability to chose my own course of action." Rarity spoke in a very quiet, deliberate tone. "So I find it rich that someone who… violated that so thoroughly feels qualified to talk about misuse."

"Rarity, that is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard you say. Are you going to tell me you've never done something to someone 'for their own good'?" Megan waved in the general direction of a moderately-sized flying white horse-like creature.

"That isn't even–

"YOU BLEW A HOLE THROUGH THE TREE, Rarity! How can you claim you're worried about the sanctity of life or whatever piety you're spouting when you were willing to fry everything in sight because you 'had a bad day'. What do we do if your ex-boyfriend shows up and one of us is in the line of fire – dive for cover and hope for the best?" The human threw her hands up in disgust.

"You are grossly over-exaggerating the situation, and that has nothing to do with you making me use that horrid sting. What that does is unspeakable, robbing living things of their free will and turning them into slaves! And you MADE me do it."

"Your little tantrum has everything to do with that. If you had not gone nuclear you could have been helping us. Failing that, if you had aimed your sparkly blue death ray, maybe you could have taken all the monsters out. Instead you did something hugely wasteful, and then proceeded to whine about providing any help that would have actually made a difference."

"First of all, I would never do that. I suppose it's good that I discover now that you think I'm a blithering idiot, rather than thinking I can depend on you for anything. And secondly, as hateful as killing someone who wishes me harm is, I rate that as far better than robbing them of their free will. I would rather be dead than someone's mindless puppet."

"Are you deliberately ignoring my point? I don't know how your horsey hoo-doo works, but I have known enough unicorns to recognize that you guys are using up some sort of energy reserve. When your freak-out drained you… right when the rest of us were having trouble –

"I wasn't having any trouble *mfffm*!" Surprise's outburst was quickly muffled by Firefly.

"...When we could really have used your help, you wasted the resource you depend on for your 'better choice'. So, you weren't going to be able to blast any of the baddies, and if we got caught we were going to be mutated into … what did you call them, mindless puppets? Yeah, well if it's either me or the other guy who's going to go down, guess who I'm going to chose?"

"I could have found another way!" Rarity shouted, frustrated that the human didn't seem capable of seeing her point.

"There was no more time for delaying or hand hoof wringing. Look, I'm not happy that I had to do something that made you feel bad, but I didn't see any other choices. And if the only good choice is the 'least bad' choice, well it seems better than laying down and dying. I will not apologize for that, and if you don't seem better able to manage yourself, I won't promise not to use the resources available to keep my friends and myself alive."

"How very pragmatic of you." The mare spit the word like something distasteful.

"Thank you." The human smiled, as though receiving a compliment.

"Could you really not–

The noise that followed could best be written as *BLOORP!*, however, this completely ignores the resounding resonation of the sound, which could be felt near as much as it was heard. An onrushing wind brought a sour smell and a sting in the air, reminiscent of the aggressive acid that had menaced the travelers earlier. The hikers became aware of their surroundings, barren topped hills, the undulating outlying roots of the deceased dire tree crumbling around them. The fallen leaves had begun to break apart into a chunky loam-like substance, with the occasional plate of waxy surface and long strands of veins like discarded plumbing. With the dust kicked up into the sky obscuring the heavens, everything was brown, brown, brown.

"Well that was–

A rectangular mass the size of a pony's head crashed down, steaming slightly. Closer inspection revealed it to be a bound in a particularly pink leather.

"I don't believe it!" Surprise cried, jumping into the air and pouncing on the improbable publication. "Well, actually, I kinda do, but that was amazing! It was all 'bloop', 'fwoop', 'wham'." The prancing pegasus gently nudged the massive tome before picking it up and spinning around in midair, coming to rest on the ground she held it over her head for a moment, before frowning. "Hey, Marshy, how're you going to carry this thing? It's not exactly light reading."

With a growing sense of dread, Rarity realized what the skyborne book must be. "This is the 'Pink Book'?"

"Well duhhh, what else would it be? Oh! Unless you mean we should call it the 'Orange Book' so that nopony will know what it really is – wow, you're a really clever unicorn, aintcha?"

The purple-maned pony contemplated the mass of paper. 'If I were truly clever, I would figure out how to get rid of that horrid thing.' It would probably be fairly easy to levitate, but being around that much dead flesh was hardly an appealing proposition. She was about to speak when another, much quieter, sound caught her attention.

An liquid hiccupping noise, barely audible even in the sudden calm was coming from behind a small hillock. Megan raised an eyebrow at the white unicorn. Rarity frowned, mouthing the words 'this isn't over yet' before nodding and heading around the opposite side of the mound. Firefly and Surprise were silent as they floated cautiously over.

Rarity couldn't believe her eyes. One moment she saw a small blonde wood sapling blooming out of season, the next her brain filtered some of what she was seeing and the unmistakable outline of a nature-loving pegasus. 'Or, more accurately, the horrid twisting of an impression of my dear departed friend.'

The figure stopped, turning a distinctly pony-shaped muzzle to scan her surroundings with flowery eyes. "H-hello? Is… is somepony there?" stammered a voice that managed to replicate the shy pegasus's voice with an even breezier tone.

The unicorn stepped forward, blue sparks shivering off her horn. "I will give you one sentence to explain why I shouldn't burn you to ash this instant." Rarity spoke with neither fear nor malice. She was tired, just plain tired of the violence, the unreason, the mutilation, and the killing.

The faux pony took in her potential assailant's appearance. "R-rarity!?" the tree-pony's expression lit up, and then she seemed to crumple. "Oh... ohh no, what did I do?" Tears ran down her face, although they were a translucent amber color and ran like sap. "This is unforgivable… I'm… I'm already dying, but if it helps you at all, go ahead, I deserve it for this, and everything else she made me do."

Rarity hesitated. 'Is this a trick? She can't be serious.' But, there was a sense of sincerity and remorse being expressed that the white mare found unlikely to be faked. "What do you mean 'already dying'?"

"I h-had to separate my self from the f-f-factory. That's how I became free of the corruption. But… I can't last long like this..." The sapling shivered, several pink leaves from her 'mane' falling away.

"Corruption? You mentioned a 'she' earlier as well. What are you claiming? Who is She?"

"I … please, before I go, I would like to do one truly kind thing." The imprint shivered, a large lump traveling up its throat. She spat out a seed the size of a peach pit. "*Hughh*, there… that will undo the alteration of one life-form, restoring its original form, mind, and heart. I can't possibly apologize enough for what was done to you, but this will at least let you return to what you were."

A field of shimmering blue light enveloped the small object. Rarity contemplated it for a moment, wondering how in the ULE she could possibly evaluate this fake's claims. She wanted so badly to believe the imprint, but…

"Thank you, for the gesture if nothing else. But please, while there is still time, who? WHO made you become the monster I had to confront? I can't possibly believe you if I don't know."

The impression of Fluttershy turned her head aside, leaking more sap. "She isn't Pinkie Pie, not anymore."

"Pinkie's Impression? That's preposterous, you are trying to tell me that the one genuinely helpful entity I have met in this world has been plotting my corruption or destruction the entire time? Why should she be the evil one, it doesn't make any sense."

"N-not, it… Pinkie's impression was the first to fall. She… got to the rest of-of us." The tree pony had shed nearly all her leaves, and was beginning to pale, her bark 'skin' crackling and sap escaping in several places.

Rarity bit back her next question. She had read enough dramatic novels to know what came next, she would demand the name of the real culprit, and the impression would die with the name on her lips, never able to reveal the dastard. It would be such a waste. And there had already been far too much of that.

"It's okay. I … I … forgive you." The unicorn nearly choked on the words, but if it could give this passing life one last moment of peace, it was worth the struggle.

"Th… thank y–" the remainder of the impression seemed to not so much dissolve as dissipate into the very air.

The others, who had been staying back not to interrupt the conversation, came forward. Surprise stepped up and began examining the pile of dust left behind, before sticking her hoof into it and licking a bit off. Rarity was about to scold her when Firefly spoke up.

"Can… how can we possibly trust anything it said?" The still mostly blue pegasus frowned, clearly remembering the treachery of another impression.

"I have no intention of taking her word for any of that. I am going to ask Pinkie's Imprint if any of it is true."

"Hold on, you're going to ask the supposed mastermind if she's gone bad? You don't see any problems with this plan?" Megan raised an eyebrow, trying to find the logic in this idea.

"If I do not, I must either assume she is a threat and lose a powerful ally, or place blind trust and potentially set myself up for a horrible fate." Rarity frowned, considering what the three 'mad imprints' had tried, to varying degrees of success, to do to her.

"Are you going to eat the seed?" Surprise asked.

"No, I am not." She levitated the seed, moving it toward, "Firefly, if there is any chance this will work, I want you to have it."

"Rarity! I couldn't possibly, I mean what about your tail and the eyes, and …"

The white unicorn smiled, though it didn't reach her eyes, "I can live with what's been done to me. Your affliction is eating you from the inside out. How could I possibly stand to watch you die, just for a few… mere… cosmetics?"

Tears ran down the split pegasus's muzzle, "you… wow. That is the most generous thing I think I've ever seen somepony do. I wish I'd had a friend like you." The blue-ish pegasus crouched, Rainbow Tech revving as she leapt, "Sayonara su–

*SNAP!* The pony froze, not ten feet off the ground, completely immobile, down to the last hair. Megan chuckled, running her fingers through her hair. "Still got it…" she gloated.

Rarity nodded at the human, once again levitating the seed, this time placing it out in front of the fleeting pony. She rotated her head so as to catch Surprise's attention while not losing the potential cure-all. "Surprise, dear, will be kind enough to catch Firefly in a moment? I doubt she will be in any condition to land safely."

The blonde mare nodded, "on it like a bonnet."

The unicorn hid a grin, 'goodness, where does she come up with these silly phrases from?' Everything was in place, "NOW!" she cried.