• Published 23rd Nov 2013
  • 4,150 Views, 190 Comments

A Kingdom Divided - Samey90



For many years, Elements of Harmony were responsible for keeping peace in Equestria. But sometimes, magic of friendship is not enough...

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7. Apple Bloom

Someday, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do a service for me.
The Godfather


An ant was crawling slowly through the layer of dry leaves, completely unaware of a small filly lying on the ground in front of it. Apple Bloom was panting heavily, watching the ant carrying a pine needle. Somehow, its indifference toward the surrounding world impressed her. For a moment, she considered staying there and watching the ants for a few minutes.

Which, in her case, basically meant “for the rest of her life.”

Around them, the flames were roaring, engulfing the remains of the tents, the trees and bushes, slowly cutting off all the escape routes. Apple Bloom was sweating, trying to get back on her hooves, with Sweetie moving frantically on her back, trying to shield herself from the sparks. She was screaming, obviously, but Apple Bloom, her eardrums shattered after the bombs had exploded only few feet from her, couldn’t hear that. Once more she looked at the ant, carrying its load peacefully, and an image of Applejack appeared in her mind.

Letting out a powerful scream, she raised, and darted forward, Sweetie holding her with her remaining hooves. She ran through the wall of fire and collapsed on the ground again, smell of a scorched fur filling her nostrils. Next to her, Sweetie rolled on the ground, trying to quench her mane. Apple Bloom looked at her – where her hind legs once were, two wounds reopened, she was also covering one of her eyes with a hoof. Scratches and burn marks were all over her body, and Apple Bloom suspected that she looked much the same – her mane was sticky from the blood from her severed ear, her hooves were trembling, and she felt dizzy. Limping, she approached her friend and tried to lift her on her back.

“Don’t worry, Sweetie, we’ll make it,” she whispered, dragging her away from the fire. Somewhere behind them, a tree fell, forming another obstacle for them. Apple Bloom started to look around, but there was nopony there to help them. Sweetie caught her hoof, her lips moving, tear forming in her good eye.

“We’ll make it…” Apple Bloom repeated, collapsing on the ground. She could barely breathe, fits of coughing shaking her small body.

“We’ll make it… Ah’ll just… gather some strength…”

She looked around. Flames were spreading everywhere, a wave of hot air, almost devoid of oxygen, reached her, drying the blood and sweat. Her throat also went dry and she had to close her eyes when they started to itch.

There was no way of escape other than running through another wall of fire and then run away from the spreading blaze, hurt, exhausted, with Sweetie on her back. She buried her face in leaves, swallowing her tears.

“Ah can’t give up now… Ah must run…” she whispered, barely hearing her own voice. She crawled to Sweetie, who was trying to get on her front hooves, dragging her body behind her. After making only a few steps she collapsed, face first, in a pile of leaves. The flames were slowly crawling to her, but Sweetie made no attempt to move or defend herself.

“HELP!” Apple Bloom shouted, “Anypony!” she started to cough, her throat dry and aching. Her vision started to blur, she could no longer see Sweetie, only the orange haze of flames, and a tall, dark silhouette in the distance.

“Is there anypony out there?” her voice was quiet and raspy. A mysterious creature approached them, walking through the flames as if they weren’t there. Apple Bloom blinked rapidly to get rid of tears, and saw a pair of mismatched legs in front of her.

“D-discord?” she exclaimed, looking up. She could see his lips moving, but couldn’t hear anything. Discord made an understanding expression, and snapped his fingers.

Apple Bloom’s ears started to itch, something growing in them. She looked on her hooves to see small scratches and burn marks disappearing.

“I guess this’ll make conversation easier,” Discord said, snapping his fingers once more. Flames moved back, forming a circle around them.

“Ah… Ah can hear ya… how…”

“Oh, Apple Bloom, that was easy. The cells in your body divide constantly, my job was only to poke them. She, however…” she looked at Sweetie Belle, who was lying lifelessly in a puddle of blood from the remains of her hind legs. Only occasional, shallow breaths were indicating that she was still alive.

“Sweetie Belle!” Apple Bloom shouted, running to her. She tried to lift her, only to find out that her body was limp. She turned back to Discord:

“Do something!” she shouted, “Ya’re the spirit of chaos, y’all surely can do something! Or can ya only bring chaos?”

Suddenly his expression changed to solemn, which made him look much older.

“As you can see, my little Apple Bloom, we’re in a world where a spirit of chaos is no longer needed,” he said, pointing around with his paw. “The ponies became quite good in creating chaos themselves.”

“But ya can at least try to save her!” She bursted into tears.

“Apple Bloom, Apple Bloom…” he sighed. “It doesn’t work this way. I saved you from the fire, gave you back your hearing, even recreated your ear, all for free. Don’t you read fairy tales? Ponies in them always have to pay for favours…” For a moment he hid his face in the shadow. “And I don’t think you know how to bring Fluttershy back to life.”

“F-fluttershy?” Apple Bloom stammered.

"She's dead now! Haven’t you seen that?” Discord snapped. “No more friends for me, yay. What, is that tears? Is that possible, my little Apple Bloom? A chaos god crying because of a dead pony?"

“Ah don’t know,” Apple Bloom said.

“Death…” Discord rested his chin on his claw. “So chaotic in its nature… the young ones, the old ones, all have to watch their bodies fall apart… Have you heard about entropy, Apple Bloom?”

“No,” Apple Bloom stated simply, looking at Sweetie Belle, who was trying desperately to catch another breath. Large patches of her white fur were missing, one of her eyes was closed, but by the burns around it she could guess that it didn’t look well.

“What do they teach you in school?” Discord rolled his eyes, suddenly appearing on the other side of her, whispering into her ear.

“This is entropy,” he said, poking Sweetie Belle. “Harmony of a living thing slowly turning into a chaos… Maybe I should leave it that way… During my long life I learned many things about loss. You should also get used to it…”

“Please!” Apple Bloom cried, “Ah’ve already seen too many ponies dying today. Ah don’t want Sweetie to…”

“Oh, Apple Bloom, Apple Bloom…” He shook his head. “Just like your sister, so hard, yet so easy to break… So fragile…” He disappeared and appeared in front of her again.

“Tell me, filly… Would you do anything to save your friend’s life?”

“Yes,” said Apple Bloom, looking directly in his eyes.

“A quick answer for such a young pony… Would you jump into the Ghastly Gorge if I asked you to do that as a payback? Would you kill Princess Celestia? Or your sister?”

“Ah’d do anything to save mah friend,” said Apple Bloom, her voice cold and emotionless. She stood up firmly, with a determined look on her face.

“Well then, I guess we made a deal. Let’s see what can I do…”

He took Sweetie Belle from Apple Bloom’s hooves and put her carefully on the ground, examining her wounds. She sighed and opened her good eye, looking at him. When he snapped his fingers, a golden halo engulfed her body, lifting her into the air.

“What’s happening?” Apple Bloom asked, watching in fear, as the shape of the halo started to change. She heard some moans and cries of pain from it, as well as an unpleasant sound of snapping bones.

“I don’t know exactly,” said Discord, “Chaos magic is often capricious – you tell it what to do and it finds its own way.”

An orb of light landed gently on the ground and dissipated, revealing Sweetie Belle. Apple Bloom’s jaw dropped, while Discord’s curious expression soon changed into a wide grin.

“Well, if you’re going to go somewhere, I’d rather advise not to show up too much with her,” he said.

“Yeah… Ah think ya are right…” Apple Bloom nodded, watching her friend.

Sweetie Belle’s amputated hind legs were replaced by prosthetic limbs made of metal, powered by hydraulic cylinders. Most of her body was covered in silvery plating, exceptions being her front hooves and head. Some wires were visible between the elements of the plating. There were also solar panels on her back. She was making small movements, as if she was trying her new body out. When she turned to Apple Bloom, she noticed that her burned eye was replaced with an electronic one, its green iris resembling a diaphragm of a camera.

“Hello, world,” she said, her voice sounding a bit artificial.

“Oh, Sweetie…” Apple Bloom exclaimed, hugging her. “What happened to you?”

“As you can see, my formerly organic body had been damaged beyond repair, and thus was replaced with a better, cybernetic form.”

“Don’t ask, it’s not me…” said Discord quickly, noticing Apple Bloom’s stare.

“By your reaction I assume that question you asked was rhetoric,” Sweetie Belle explained, her artificial voice carrying some trace of shame.

“Don’t worry, Sweetie…” said Apple Bloom, “Ya are alive, it’s the most important…”

“Affirmative. I’m functioning, and waiting for your orders.”

“O-orders? Whaddya mean? Ya are mah friend, Ah can’t give ya orders…”

“I must follow the laws of robotics. One: a robot may not injure a pony, or through inaction–”

“I’d suggest a zeroth law,” Discord interrupted her, sitting on a trunk of a fallen tree and conjuring a bag of popcorn. Something clicked underneath Sweetie’s plating.

“Zeroth law implemented: a robot may not harm ponykind, or, by inaction, allow ponykind to come to harm. Actualising remaining laws in progress…” she said.

“What should Ah do with her?” Apple Bloom asked, shaking her head in disbelief.

“Well, I’m sorry to interrupt your cute reunion, my little Apple Bloom, but now it’s time for your part of the deal…” he smiled maliciously, looking at her.

“What am Ah suppos’d to do?”

“Well, Apple Bloom, sorry to say that…” he said slowly, watching as she trembled in fear, “I don’t know yet. Don’t worry, one day I’ll find you and you’ll be able to pay me back… Who knows, maybe it’ll be something useful…” He stood up, gave her a bag of popcorn and disappeared.

“Wait!” Apple Bloom shouted. “Where did he go?”

“My scanners can’t find him,” said Sweetie Belle emotionlessly. “But if you want, I can run a more detailed search and…”

“Oh, come on! That was a… ya know, that ‘question Ah don’t want an answer to’ kinda question.”

“A rhetoric question.”

“What are you, a dictionary?” Apple Bloom started to look for any tree to hit her head against. She noticed that the fire stopped to escalate, leaving them in the middle of a scorched clearing.

“I have a built-in dictionary, and I’m fluent in over six million forms of communication…”

“Sweet Celestia! Ah wish Scootaloo was here…”

“Should I scan the surroundings for Scootaloo?”

“No. Ah know where she is…” her voice trembled.

“Your eyes are leaking…” said Sweetie Belle.

“B-because… she’s dead… they’re all dead… and you…” Apple Bloom, unable to hold emotions for any longer, collapsed on the ground. A green light in Sweetie’s artificial eye faded slightly.

“I’m sorry,” she said, trying to copy Apple Bloom’s hug from earlier. “As far as my new body possess the ability to feel something, I feel regret because of Scootaloo’s deacti… death.”

“Oh, Sweetie…” Apple Bloom wiped her tears and sat down, an idea appearing in her head. “Can yer fancy scanner find our sisters?”

“Wait a minute. Processing request. Localizing Rarity. Canterlot, Equestria, sixteen miles to the east. Considering the terrain and my current battery level, four hours of walking.”

“How about considering me? Ah’ve been bombed twice and had to make a deal with Discord today…”

This time processing was a bit longer.

“Six hours of sleeping and then ten hours of walking.”

“How about food?”

“We have popcorn here, and logically, you don’t have to eat now. After we find Applejack and Rarity, we’ll have food.”

Apple Bloom rolled her eyes.

“With yer fancy logic, Ah’m gonna starve to death halfway through…”

“Impossible. An average pony can survive up to two weeks without eating if there’s a fresh water source… But, if you really must…” Sweetie’s mechanisms started to buzz when she noticed Apple Bloom’s expression. Apple Bloom only sighed and started to walk.

“We need to find some safe, warm place to have a rest,” she said. “Can ya think of any?”

“Well, that clearing was warm… but not safe. My sensors however say that there’s a small, abandoned hut nearby.”

The hut was indeed abandoned, at least a hundred years ago. A thatched roof decomposed, and wooden walls were almost completely eaten by bugs, but it still stood, leaning slightly to one side.

“Who lived here?” Apple Bloom asked, entering it. The remains of the furniture, along with some more modern items, like empty cans, were scattered around the floor. The air had a faint scent of decay.

“No information found.”

“How am Ah suppos’d to sleep here?”

“There are fallen leaves everywhere, and my new body is rather warm. I guess it takes a dual radiator to cool all those mechanisms,” said Sweetie, lying on the pile of leaves she had gathered.

“Well… Ah guess ya wouldn’t mind?” Apple Bloom asked, resting her head on her friend’s back. The metal plating was indeed surprisingly warm.

“Of course not. Entering power-save mode,” said Sweetie. Apple Bloom, trying to ignore rumbling in her stomach, closed her eyes.

Soon, an image of Scootaloo appeared in her mind. She was looking for something frantically, but soon she changed into Applejack, walking through some deserted wasteland covering her face with her hat, then Rarity, staring at her reflection in a dirty window, and finally into Twilight Sparkle, lost in her thoughts over a big map. Suddenly, everything erupted into flames. Apple Bloom jumped back, but then she saw that Twilight changed into Princess Luna.

“Fear not, Apple Bloom,” she said, standing in front of her looking at her, as if she wanted to stare into her soul.

“W-what was that?”

“We don’t know exactly. Maybe past, maybe future. Maybe just a dream.”

“That’s all ya haveta say, Princess?” Apple Bloom asked, feeling blood rushing in her veins. “One of mah friends is dead, the other is some Discord-damn robot, and now Ah’m havin’ some weird dreams about Applejack and others… And it’s all your fault!”

“Don’t judge too hastily, Apple Bloom. If you trust me, we can always change the future together…”

“Change it to yer liking? Or maybe ya just want me to do ya a favour, like Discord?”

“I am not Discord, and despite what my sister says, I am not evil,” said Luna, “Think about it, and, if you ever want to help me, just contact me in your dreams.”

The dream faded, and before it disappeared, Apple Bloom saw another scene: an unknown white mare lying in a hospital bed.

She opened her eyes to see the sky and trees above her, along with the hut’s rotten walls and a barrel of a gun held close to her head.

“What the–”

“G’d mo’nin,” said somepony with a high-pitched voice.

“Wrench, leave her, don’t you viddy, that she’s only a lost, unarmed devotchka?” said much lower voice.

“Yeah, seen such ‘devotchkas’ kickin’ flank o’ stallions yer size,” said Wrench, sounding as if she was about to throw a tantrum.

“This pooshka doesn’t work anyway,” said Wrench’s companion calmly. Wrench sighed and lowered a gun, turning to Apple Bloom.

“Ok, let’s make a deal: we’ll take dat piece o’ junk ya’r sleepin’ at and leave ya ‘lone, right?”

Apple Bloom sat down, watching the perpetrators. Wrench was a skinny, pale yellowish filly, not much older than her. Her coat and mane were covered in grease, and her half-closed eyes made her look slightly annoyed. Her companion was a large, brown donkey, watching the world with the constant, bored expression. He was wearing something resembling a dirty and ragged uniform of the Moon Army.

“Who are ya?” Apple Bloom asked.

“We’re scavengers,” said the donkey. “Ya won’t believe how dorogoy is metal these times. Army malchiks destroy each other’s toys and leave lots of it here. By the way, name’s Scrap Yard, and this here ptitsa is called Wicked Wrench.”

“Your parents had a sick sense of humour.”

Everypony, including Apple Bloom, turned to Sweetie, who just woke up, and was observing the duo of scavengers, apparently scanning them with her cybernetic eye.

“It… it talks…” Scrap Yard gasped.

“I am a lady, darling, and it is not necessary to point out the obvious things.”

“Sweetie, why are ya talking like yer sister?” Apple Bloom whispered.

“While I was deactivated, the organic part of my brain started to affect the cybernetic part. Soon I’ll probably have more traits of my old personality.”

“What da fuck is dat?” asked Wrench, listening to Sweetie, confounded.

“Dat’s some kind of military technology, they ran away from old Celly’s labs…” Scrap Yard whispered, leaning closer to Sweetie and examining her carefully. “Maybe she shoots lasers from her glazzs…”

“Ya know? Fuck it, an’ let’s go back to Cant’lot, Firefly’s probably waiting for us…” said Wrench, and they both went outside, to a large cart, filled with various pieces of destroyed machinery.

“Wait!” Apple Bloom exclaimed running after them. “Are y’all going to Canterlot?”

“Umm…”

“Can ya take us with ya?”

They said nothing, looking at each other unsurely. Meanwhile Sweetie ran to their cart and jumped on it, hitting the large radial engine block and knocking it off.

“C’n we keep ‘er?” Wrench asked.

“Ah don’t think so,” said Apple Bloom, and noticing their disgruntled stares, she added, “But we can help ya with yer loot…”

Author's Note:

Thanks for TheSheepMaster for helping me with the Discord part. Really, the first version of it was just bad...

Also, while writing this chapter I noticed that it's basically "AKD's chapter in reverse" – dark stuff happens at the beginning, while the ending is more light-hearted.