• Published 2nd Dec 2013
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Adventures on the Friendship Express - GreenS21



Spin-off story to "Sonic Generations: Friendship is Timeless", taking place during the train ride to Canterlot.

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The Alpha and the Omega Pt. I - Station Square (a)

Both the ocean and the sky were a gorgeous blue color, flocks of Wingull flying in the sky in tight circles both near and far from dry land. While flying in flocks was not unusual for this species of Pokémon, they normally did not circle over one area. Much like seagulls, this odd behavior was often done to alert others to some sort of danger or event. A casual observer might not think there could be anything wrong on a beautiful day like this, but Pokémon were greatly in tune with the balance of nature. If something was wrong, most would be able to sense it, and right now, something unusual had happened that could endanger the world of Pokémon if it wasn’t resolved.

Far to the west of the largest island in this region of the world, Lucario and Pikachu saw the flocks of Wingull circling as they continued on their way. They were currently sitting on the back of one of their friends and allies as she carried them across the ocean. The Pokémon, which looked like a light blue sea creature with a long neck and a gray shell on her back, was known as Lapras. Like other members of her species, she was known for carrying others across the sea, but she was a little different from other Lapras. She was a guardian of sorts, being one of only a few in this world who knew how to get to where she was heading, and it was not information she liked to make known. In fact, Lucario and Pikachu were the only normal members of their Exploration Team, Team Defenders, that she would allow on her back for this trip. They had saved this location some time ago and, along with one of the Legendaries on their team, were the best choice for this particular mission.

Lucario looked to his right at the back of Lapras’ head and asked, “Are you doing all right, Lapras? I’m not slowing you down, am I?”

The Transport Pokémon looked back at him and said in a soft voice that had a hint of amusement in it, “I’m just fine, Lucario. The size of your evolved form is not a hindrance to me. You’re as easy to carry as when you were a Riolu.” She returned her attention to the ocean in front of her after she finished speaking, paying attention to where she was going.

Lucario felt a poke against his left knee and turned his head to see it was Pikachu, the Mouse Pokémon smiling up at him. “What’s wrong, Lucario? Are you worried that the Aura training you’ve been going through has been causing you to pack on some extra weight?” he asked cheekily.

Lucario gave him a perturbed look as he answered, “What? No, of course not, Pikachu! I was just asking because I’m worried. Yes, we’ve been to the Hidden Land before, but this is the first time we’ve actually been summoned there. That alone cannot mean anything good.”

Pikachu crossed his arms and closed his eyes, tilting his head downward as he spoke, “That’s true. Even though we’ve met a number of Legendary Pokémon, they usually don’t call for us. We’re usually the ones who do that, and it’s usually only when we need help with our missions.”

Lucario nodded, “Exactly. The world’s been in danger before, and each time there have been Pokémon and/or humans who have been able to resolve it. For Dialga to be summoning us to the Hidden Land, the only thing I can think is that time must be in danger again, but what sort of danger could it be?”

Lapras glanced back, “You won’t have to wait much longer to find out. I’m heading in.” Both Pikachu and Lucario looked forward at that. Suddenly, it seemed as if Lapras began to gain speed as she swam, going faster and soon lifting out of the water, seemingly flying! The two leaders of Team Defenders were not surprised by this, though. They could tell by the blue surrounding them and the disappearance of the ocean and sky that they were in the Sea of Time, which marked the entrance to the Hidden Land. Lucario and Pikachu sat still, slightly gripping Lapras’ shell as the blue shot past them.

After several seconds, they exited the blue tunnel. Now they appeared to be in the sky, yellow-brown clouds as far as the eye could see. In the middle of all the clouds, they could see what appeared to be a floating island that was mostly covered with green trees and grasses. It was the Hidden Land, and floating in the ‘sky’ beyond it was Temporal Tower. Even as far as they were from the tower, Pikachu and Lucario could see that the damage it had sustained some time ago had been repaired. The quest to stop the tower’s destruction and the stopping of time had been one of Team Defenders’ greatest adventures, though for the two, it was also one that brought back sad memories.

As Lapras approached a small piece of brown, rocky ground that stuck out at the edge of the Hidden Land, they all saw a figure that looked like a large dog standing not far from the edge, waiting for them. It stood on four legs, had light blue fur with a few diamond-shaped patches of white fur, a white underside, blue hexagonal diamond shape atop its forehead, a long purple mane that constantly flowed backwards like the wind was blowing through it, and two white streamer-like tails that constantly blew forward.

After Lapras landed on the edge of the outcropping, Pikachu called, “Hi, Suicune!”

The large Pokémon replied in a neutral tone, her voice a bit deep but still sounding feminine, “It’s about time you got here.”

As Lucario and Pikachu slid off of her back, Lapras replied in an amused tone, “I swam as fast as I could, Suicune.”

The Aurora Pokémon looked at her and said, “I know you did, Lapras. I know you take your responsibilities seriously. I simply did not know when Lucario and Pikachu would be leaving Treasure Town.”

Lucario stood up straight and adjusted the strap on his Treasure Bag before patting Lapras on the side of her neck, smiling when she turned to look at him. He then stepped forward with Pikachu next to him and asked, “Now that we’re here, I assume we’re off to Temporal Tower, then?”

Suicune replied, “No. There is no need to go up to Temporal Tower for this. Dialga and Palkia will meet us at the temple where the Rainbow Stoneship is instead.”

The two Pokémon were surprised at this. “Palkia is here too?” Pikachu asked. Much like Dialga, the two had had experience with the Pokémon deity of space in the past, and even though the two seemed friendlier now, the two deities still had a bit of a rivalry between them.

Suicune nodded, “Yes. From what I can tell, it’s not just one or the other that’s in danger this time. They both are.”

Lucario said, “I see… You’re right. We should get going.” With that, the three set off into the Hidden Land, making their way to the temple in the Hidden Highland.

________________________________________

Spike and the girls save for Fluttershy were clustered outside one of the rooms in the sleeper car, all of them looking to the left and clearing the way when they saw Cadance approaching. The pink alicorn stepped into the room, holding up a damp washcloth in her magic. She went over to the first lower bunk bed on the right, which Tails and Shining were standing next to. Sonic was on the bed, the blue hedgehog lying on his back with his eyes closed and the covers pulled up to his chest.

Shining and Tails looked up as Cadance approached and held out the washcloth as she said, “Here you go. I couldn’t find Fluttershy in the back, but I was able to find and wet this washcloth while I was there.”

Tails sighed, but took the washcloth from her and replied, “Thanks, Cadance.” He folded it over once and placed it on Sonic’s forehead, “This should help a bit.”

From outside the room, Rarity asked, “Is he doing all right?”

Shining answered, “His forehead’s really warm. It’s like he’s running a fever.”

Rainbow shivered, “I can’t blame him. That water got rid of the stinging in my hooves, but that’s probably because it was so cold! Definitely not something you’d want to take a bath in.”

Twilight asked, “What do you think, Tails?”

The fox replied, “Well, it could be a fever. The only other thing it could be is he finally hit his limit. Suddenly, his napping when there’s nothing going on makes all too much sense.”

Cadance sighed, “I guess it’s true what he said. He really can keep going in the long run, but even he has to stop at some point. Eggman Nega finally pushed him to that point.”

Shining nodded, “Yeah, between him and everything that went on in those storybook worlds, he hasn’t really had a chance to rest on his laurels. It’s amazing how much of a difference that makes.” Rarity began to feel a bit guilty about her earlier massage at that.

Tails crossed his arms, “At any rate, I think it’s safe to say he’s down for the count right now.” He looked at the others, “I think we should just let him sleep for the rest of the trip, let him recover as much strength as he can.”

Cadance nodded, “That’s a good idea.” Suddenly, Sonic raised himself into a sitting position with a loud groan, the washcloth falling onto the sheets and everyone jumping back a bit in surprise.

“Aah! He’s possessed!” Pinkie cried at the sight of his half-lidded, slightly baggy eyes as he stared straight ahead.

After regaining his composure, Shining said, “Geez, you startled us, Sonic. We thought you were asleep.”

Sonic looked over at him with a wry smirk, “Yeah, well, it’s kind of hard to stay asleep with all the noise in here.” Everyone glanced at each other nervously at that. A moment later, Sonic lifted the sheets up with his left hand and swung his legs out from under them, dangling them over the edge of the bed and scooting forward.

Upon seeing this, Shining moved forward and put his hooves on Sonic’s shoulders while saying, “Whoa, hold up there, cowboy. What do you think you’re doing?”

Sonic looked up at him, “We’re still far from Canterlot, right? Much as I wouldn’t mind a nap right now, this isn’t really the time. It can wait.” He began to push himself up.

He was halted when Shining pushed his hooves down on his shoulders. “No. It. Can’t,” he said firmly, pushing down a bit harder on the last word, easily pushing Sonic back down on the bed. He stepped back and spoke, “You see that? I easily pushed you back down. You’re in no shape to go anywhere right now.”

Sonic groaned, “Aw, come on! You think that actually means anything? If so, how about best two out of three?”

Cadance’s eyes narrowed a bit, “This is not a game, Sonic. You passed out on us back there. Regardless of your ability to swim or not swim, you definitely needed Tails’ help to get out of the water. Imagine if he hadn’t been able to reach you in time. We can’t have you passing out like that again.”

Applejack added, “Ah don’t think other ponies always know what they’re talkin’ about either, but Ah ain’t gonna deny that Ah worked mahself past exhaustion when Ah was takin’ over for Big Mac for Applebuck Season. Trust me, it ain’t good when you’re noddin’ off and not doin’ things ya know how ta do.”

Sonic shook his head and asked, “Seriously?” Looking around, he could tell what their answer was by the looks on their faces, and it wasn’t the one he wanted. He let out a loud sigh and grunted, “Fine.” He pulled himself backwards while holding up the sheets and swinging his legs back underneath them, followed by him grabbing the washcloth and placing it on his forehead, this time lying down on his left side and holding the cloth in place with his left hand.

Although they were a bit surprised by how easily he gave in, nobody could deny that it was better than arguing with him about it. “All right, everyone, let’s clear out and give him some peace and quiet,” Cadance said. She, Shining, and Tails walked out of the room, moving back towards the front of the train with the others doing the same.

Before following the others, Rarity poked her head into the room and asked, “Would a bedtime story help you sleep, Sonic?” The blue hedgehog’s response was to raise his right arm and point it straight down his body, his index finger raised. Normally Rarity would’ve been irritated by such a gesture, but as it was, she simply took the hint, slid the door closed, and walked after the others, feeling bad like the rest of them. After they all left the sleeper car, the car’s back door slid open ever so slowly and quietly and Fluttershy poked her head around it to look into the car.

The group soon arrived back at the car where their usual seats were and found it to be empty. “Fluttershy’s not in here either,” Spike said worriedly, looking around the car.

“Where did she go? You said she wasn’t in the back o’ the train, right Cadance?” Applejack asked. The pink alicorn nodded in response.

“Seriously, what’s gotten into her? Sonic’s injured right now! This is the kind of thing her cutie mark tells her to do! She should be by his side even after being told to leave!” Rainbow groaned, her worry apparent even underneath her frustration.

Tails glanced back at everyone as he said, “It would be nice to have some idea of what’s going on with her. I was hoping Sonic would be able to shed some light on that for me. Of course, he’s in no position to do that right now, so…”

Shining caught onto what he was saying and sighed before saying, “I did say we’d talk about what happened when we had a quiet moment, didn’t I? Well, I’m not going to go back on my word, Tails. I’ll tell you all about it.”

Before he could begin, Cadance placed a hoof against his chest and looked at Tails as she said, “Actually, Tails, I think we’d better go make sure the engine is, ah, still warm and then talk. I can help with that, and I think Twilight would like to be present as well.”

Twilight looked at her, surprised at being brought up. “Huh? Me?” she asked.

Shining looked at his wife and said, “Cadance, honey, I don’t think we should be going anywhere while we’re talking about this. I’m the one who made the deal with him; I should be the one to tell it.”

Cadance looked back at the stallion and replied, “I’m aware of that, Shining. However, I think I can tell him what happened in less time than you would need. I think I can also avoid inserting too many editorials, ‘Mr. Exploding Polo Mallet’.”

Shining gave her an annoyed look at that, hearing a few giggles around him. “It DID happen!” he argued. Cadance gave him an impish smile in response while Tails raised an eye in confusion.

Cadance turned to Twilight and said, “Come on, Twilight, we’re going to the front of the train with Tails.” Although she was still confused, Twilight nodded and followed behind Cadance and Tails as they started walking to the engine. Shining’s annoyed look eased off, him and the others knowing that Cadance wanted Twilight to know where some of her injuries came from.

After they stepped into the engine, Cadance turned around and slid the door shut. “There. We should be away from any sugarcoating and listening ears, at least for a little while,” she explained as she turned back to Tails and Twilight.

The latter sat down and asked, “Okay, so what is this about, Cadance?”

The pink alicorn answered, “Because this is something you need to hear too, Twilight. I know you’ve noticed everypony else’s odd behavior as much as Tails has. You were out for a while after Terios attacked you and Smithy. I’ll tell you what he tricked us into doing…”

While she started explaining everything to the two, near the back of the train, Fluttershy was quietly peering through the glass into the room Sonic was resting in. She looked at him with a sad expression, noticing he was sleeping so his back was facing her. In her mind, she wondered if he knew she was standing there and didn’t want to look at her, even in his sleep. It was a disheartening thought, and worse, it was an opportunity for the presence in the back of her mind to drag her down further.

Look at him lying there, so weak and defenseless. I wonder if he’s on his deathbed,” it communicated in Terios’ voice.

Fluttershy’s eyes widened slightly. “N-No, he couldn’t be. He wouldn’t be sleeping so… peacefully if he was dying. And the others wouldn’t just leave him alone if that was the case,” she said.

Terios’ voice taunted, “Death happens to be a very sweet slumber, and yes, the others would know, but how would you? You’re the animal expert among your friends, and where were you while they were making a big fuss over him? That’s right, you were hiding out and leaving them high and dry when they could’ve used your help, just like always.

Fluttershy shook her head, “He’ll be okay! I… I can tell just by looking at him that he’s going to be all right…

Terios’ voice came back, “He could be bleeding internally. Are your ‘angry eyebrows’ capable of seeing that?

Fluttershy asked, “Why are you doing this?

Terios’ voice replied, “Because you sicken me more than the rest. You honestly thought I would ever allow myself to be written off as an inferior clone because it would make other people happy. You foolishly allowed yourself to get close to me and had to be saved by him because you were too stupid to realize I was about to kill you. Well, here’s what your show of kindness has gotten you. You’re stuck with me, he’s badly injured because you interfered with him, and your ‘friends’ don’t trust you.

Tears began to fill Fluttershy’s eyes, “No, they wouldn’t… They wouldn’t stop being friends with me because I made a mistake… would they?

Terios’ voice answered, “Why wouldn’t they? I’m in your mind, so I can see your memories. They’ve had to put up with your cowardice for a long time now, but nothing like this has ever happened. None of them have ever been pushed to the brink of death because of you until now. One of your newest ‘friends’ has suffered and could’ve drowned because of you, but it wasn’t cowardice that has resulted in this. Do you know the reason?” Fluttershy had no answer, so he went on, “Can’t quite think of it? I guess that would imply you ever thought at all. I’ll tell you. It’s because of your lack of faith.

Fluttershy’s eyes widened further at that, tears beginning to slide down her face.

Yes, you lost faith in your own deluded ideals because you didn’t bother to learn what he really did when he pulled you away from me. And thanks to that, you’ve continued my work for me. How long will it be before you stop deluding yourself into believing the others still want you around and you get them killed as well?” Terios taunted further.

Fluttershy’s body began to shake, the shy pegasus backing away towards the back of the train.

Soon…

“Yikes. That’s… I guess I can see why all these little details weren’t mentioned earlier, and why you wanted to get away from the others before you told us, Cadance,” Tails was saying. The pink alicorn in question had just finished going over the entirety of the encounter with Terios that she had been present for, particularly mentioning the encounter with the dark imposter’s voodoo doll-like copies of Twilight and Smithy. She nodded in reply.

Twilight shook her head before asking, “Is that why Shining keeps stopping short before he says my name? Because a fake version of me didn’t like being called ‘Twily’?”

Cadance replied, “That would appear to be the case, Twilight. I suppose it is kind of like when Queen Chrysalis was pretending to be me, how she acted nothing like me and made you think I had grown out of our special chant. He might be thinking that, despite that not being the case, that that dark version Terios created was a reflection of how you felt deep down, much like how he himself was all sorts of things Sonic has undoubtedly worked a long time to not become.”

Tails looked off to the side and murmured, “That sounds about right, all things considered.”

Twilight asked, “So Spike and everypony else is acting the way they are because some of this is from them defeating that dark version?” She gestured to her bandages and patched eye as she spoke.

Cadance lowered her head a bit as she said, “Well, I won’t lie to you, Twilight. I’m also partly responsible for some of the injuries you and Smithy suffered. I… I admit, I got angry like the others when I realized he was trying to use Smithy and my favorite filly against us, which only got worse when I realized he did in his own twisted way.” She looked up, “But at the time, we didn’t know, first that it wasn’t you and second that we didn’t know you would feel it to a certain degree. Believe me, if he’d made sure you felt the full extent of everything that hit that doppelganger, you would be in much worse shape right now. I don’t feel comfortable having to tell you all of this, but you have a right to know, and I hope… I just hope you can forgive me and everypony else for not knowing.”

Twilight sat quietly for a moment before reaching her right hoof forward and placing it on Cadance’s. The pink alicorn looked down at the hoof for a moment before looking back up at Twilight, the unicorn saying, “I don’t think there’s really anything that needs to be forgiven in this case, Cadance. It really is just like with Chrysalis. No one knew she’d replaced you, and Shining being under her control didn’t help matters. There was really no way to expose her under those circumstances until you were found. Even if you did notice her not behaving the way I would normally…”

Cadance interjected, “I did notice the way she carried herself, even before she snapped at Spike. I tried to talk to her about it, but she started acting flustered and didn’t want to.”

Twilight continued, “Even so, how would you have known it wasn’t actually me? We didn’t see any changelings in the Grand Kingdom, and we certainly didn’t know the Underworld army had developed the capacity to produce disguises and mimic voices like that. Merlina and the Knights of the Round Table really are going to be busy if they’re going to keep trying that. The point is, I accept your apology, but really, there’s nothing to apologize for. If anything, it’s more my fault for getting caught off-guard in the first place, and even if it was impossible to get away from Terios, I really should’ve done something different at the time.” In the back of her mind, she thought to herself, “Again.

The thought was banished when Cadance smiled warmly at her and wrapped her forelegs around the unicorn, hugging her. It was a hug Twilight was eager to return. Tails smiled softly at the scene, but after a few moments, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned to his right to look out the engine window and very briefly saw something light pink fly past it. He ran over and stuck his head out the window, seeing Fluttershy for a moment before she disappeared from his view. “Hey!” he cried.

Twilight and Cadance broke their embrace and looked over at him, the latter asking, “What is it, Tails?”

The two-tailed fox kept looking out the window as he said, “That was Fluttershy! She flew on ahead by herself!”

Cadance and Twilight’s eyes went wide at that. “What?! Why would she do that?!” Twilight asked.

Tails pulled his head back in to look at the two as he replied, “It’s gotta be about what happened with the fake Twilight! She must be taking it really hard!”

Cadance shook her head, “That couldn’t be it. She was the only one who didn’t fight back against either of the imposters. It was when we were fighting Terios that she tried to fight back.”

Twilight held a hoof to her chin, “The way she’s been acting since near the end of our time in Camelot, and that whole thing that happened while we were dealing with Eggman Nega and his Metal Sonic robot… Could that be what drove her to fly away?”

Cadance replied, “That’s probably it, Twilight.”

Tails pulled out his radar and flipped it open, looking at the two screens as he said, “We have to get her back. Let me see what’s ahead of us. I haven’t checked since we got back, so let me see if there’s a straight shot to Canterlot now” He went silent for a moment before saying, “Hm… Looks like there’s another portal open up ahead, but there’s something off about these readings. I wonder if it’s not stable…”

Twilight stood up, “Let’s go tell the others. If she went in there and there’s a problem, then we need to get her back as soon as possible.” Cadance and Tails nodded in response, Cadance standing up and the three of them exiting the engine.

Back in the passenger car, the air had become tense around the others as they waited for Twilight, Cadance, and Tails to return. While everyone else sat, Spike was pacing up and down the aisle. “What’s taking so long? What are they doing up there? How is Twilight taking everything that happened? The engine hasn’t exploded yet, but that doesn’t mean she’s taking it well,” he uttered nervously.

Rarity watched him pace, wanting to comfort him but knowing it would be in vain. She didn’t feel she had any right to do so when she was also responsible for her own share of Twilight’s injuries. Looking around the car, she saw that everypony else had similar expressions of worry and grief. Pinkie was chewing her hooves nervously, Shining was looking at the door with dread, and even Rainbow Dash, who was lying on her side on one of the benches, wasn’t looking too confident at the moment. The wait was getting to them all, but they knew better than to interrupt and try to cover up for themselves.

Suddenly, the door slid open and Tails, Cadance, and Twilight quickly stepped into the car. As soon as she heard it, Pinkie turned to look at the door and cried, “I’m sorry! We’re sorry! We didn’t mean to hurt you, Twilight!”

Shining raised a hoof, “T-Twilight, I know you’re really hurting, especially on the inside right now, but…”

Tails interrupted, “This isn’t the time for this!”

Twilight spoke, “Fluttershy’s gone!”

This statement halted everyone in their tracks, their attempts to placate Twilight dying as they processed this information. “WHAT?!” Rainbow cried. She spread her wings and leapt up from the bench she was on, landing in front of Twilight and wincing as a bit of the pain from earlier came back. “What do you mean she’s gone?!” she asked.

“Tails saw her fly past the engine window!” Twilight said.

Rarity gasped, “You mean she flew out on us?!”

Applejack was about to snap at the fashionista, but Tails said, “Well, she was sure going somewhere in a hurry, I know that much.”

Shining shook his head, “She can’t be in her right mind right now. She wouldn’t do something like this normally, would she?”

Rainbow replied, “Of course not! I’ve known her longer than anypony here, and while she’s run off in tears before, flying off into danger is my style, not hers!”

Cadance spoke, “That’s why we came to let you all know. Whatever’s hurting her right now, only her friends can help her get through it. Tails said there’s a portal open up ahead, so that’s most likely where she went. You’ll have to find her and get to the bottom of what’s troubling her.”

Applejack said, “We oughta take the Elements of Harmony with us fer this. Havin’ the Element of Kindness in her hooves oughta remind her of who she is and help her open up. They brought us together after all.”

Spike spoke, “Well, let’s get going, then! Let’s go find Fluttershy!” He started forward, but Cadance raised a hoof and pressed it against his chest, pushing him back. He looked up at her questioningly.

Lowering her hoof, she said, “Wait, Spike. Let Tails and the girls find her. Stay here with me and Shining.”

Both Spike and Shining were surprised by this. “What?! Why?!” Spike asked.

Cadance explained, “With any luck, Fluttershy just needs to be brought to her senses before she’ll come back, and perhaps the portal issue will resolve itself. Tails said there may be some instability in it. If they can’t back through it wherever they go, hopefully the Warp Ring will be able to get them back here. I think the three of us should stay behind to make sure Sonic doesn’t go anywhere, especially after all the shouting just now.” She looked at Tails, “He wouldn’t be able to stop himself from trying to help if he knew, would he?” Tails shook his head to confirm her suspicion.

Shining sighed, “I understand your reasoning for the separation, Cadance, but I insist on going with Twilight and her friends. In case this isn’t a simple search and rescue, I want to be there if it suddenly becomes more complicated.”

Cadance looked back at him for a moment before relenting, “All right, Shining, you can go. I think Twilight would like that too.” Shining looked at Twilight uncertainly at that, unsure of how she viewed her BBBFF after he, in a way, beat her up like a schoolyard bully. Twilight gave him a small smile and a hopeful look, though, as she levitated her saddlebags over and set them on her back, her magic feeling stronger now. Without another word, Tails and the ponies moved towards the front of the train, leaving Cadance and Spike alone.

Outside, they headed past where the portal leading to Coral Cave had been, finding the portal off to the side of the tracks further up. As Tails had suspected, it did not look as stable as some of the others they had seen, the image on its surface flickering and unclear as it shook in midair. Despite this, they knew Fluttershy had to have gone through it, especially since Rainbow flew farther on ahead and found no trace of her, so they leapt into it to search for her.

As soon as they touched solid ground, everyone looked around. They had landed on a piece of a highway, the road coming to an abrupt stop on both sides of them. Beyond the strip of road were the ruins of a modern city and, when they moved to the side of the road, water as far as they could see. The water had submerged the roads below them, various signs and pieces of the smaller buildings floating on the water’s surface. The larger buildings, though they were still standing, had suffered damage from what was no doubt a massive flood. Windows were blown out and water was pouring out of the top floors of some of them like a waterfall. Some pieces of highway that had not sunk to the bottom had abandoned cars sitting on top of them. Overhead, thick gray clouds, almost like floating steel, filled the sky, blocking out the sun.

Shining looked around as he asked, “What happened here? Where are we?”

Rainbow looked at one of the tilted buildings, “Hey… Doesn’t this place seem kind of familiar?”

Applejack nodded, “It does, Rainbow, but why?”

Tails spoke, “I think this is Station Square, after Perfect Chaos flooded it.”

Twilight said, “That’s it! That- What we saw when we found Fluttershy, Cream, and Cheese! We saw Perfect Chaos and the ruins of this city, Station Square!”

Rainbow pointed a hoof at the unicorn, “That’s right, Twilight! I remember that now!”

Rarity asked, “What’s Perfect Chaos? It sounds like something that ruffian Discord might say.”

Tails explained, “Chaos is… I think he was once a Chao, but now he’s a creature made almost completely out of water. He’s remembered as a God of Destruction, but he’s really a protector of the Chao and the Chaos Emeralds. Eggman freed him once to help him take over the world, but Chaos eventually turned on him and took the Chaos Emeralds for himself, using their negative power to become Perfect Chaos.” He gestured to the city, “Station Square was the only place he attacked before he became nice again, but as you can see, he really did some damage, to put it mildly.”

Pinkie said, “He sure did! This isn’t the fun kind of chaos, it’s just awful!”

Shining asked, “He became nice again? What do you mean by that, Tails?”

Applejack spoke, “Like he told us, Chaos is actually a peaceful sort. But Knuckles said that his tribe angered Chaos long ago, and he held onto that anger for all the time he was sealed inside the Master Emerald. Bein’ defeated as Perfect Chaos was apparently what it took to make him good again.”

Twilight looked around nervously, “I hope we don’t have to deal with him while we’re looking for Fluttershy…”

Pinkie looked around, “It seems pretty quiet right now.”

Tails nodded, “It does. Everyone in the city was moved to shelters following Chaos’ defeat. The water eventually receded, but obviously there was still all the damage caused when the flood hit. City Hall and other parts of the city have been rebuilt since then, but they’re still recovering.”

Rainbow shivered, “The silence here is making me nervous. Let’s find Fluttershy and get out of here.”

Rarity asked, “How are we going to find her? She could be anywhere in this city! It could take hours to find her!”

Tails spoke up, “Maybe not.” Everyone looked at him and saw that he had pulled out his radar. He fiddled with it as he explained, “I have an idea. When we pass through the portals, I think we, briefly, pick up particles that make them up. If I can get my radar to focus on those particles, we might be able to narrow down where to look- Whoa!” The fox suddenly felt himself lifting off the ground due to a magic aura around him. He was carried over to Shining and dropped on the stallion’s back, Tails looking at him afterwards.

Shining looked back at him and said, “Keep working on that. If you can shorten our search, that would be great, but we really should keep moving.” He faced forward, “We can stick to the areas we can easily reach for now and then start to spread out until you’ve fine tuned that thing.” Tails nodded and returned to messing with his radar while the ponies began to move through the ruins of Station Square.

________________________________________

Cadance looked through the door window at Sonic, watching him roll over onto his back in his sleep. Fortunately, the earlier commotion hadn’t roused him, making her and Spike’s job of keeping him on the train much easier for the time being. She noticed the washcloth had fallen off of his head and was resting on the sheets next to him. Ever so carefully, she quietly slid the door open and used her magic to pick the cloth up and levitate it over, keeping an eye on him the whole time.

Behind her, Spike whispered, “Is he…?”

While still focusing, Cadance whispered back, “No, he’s still asleep, Spike.” When the cloth reached her, she pulled her right hoof out of her shoe and touched it. She put her hoof back in the shoe and turned to Spike afterwards, whispering, “I think we should rewet this. The warmth should help him stay asleep.” Spike nodded and the two started moving towards the train’s caboose. The sound of the door opening at the back of the car made Sonic twitch a little, but he didn’t stir.

At the moment, Sonic was completely immersed in the world of dreams. In the dream, he was in the Green Hill Zone as a slightly younger version of himself, running past the hills and stomping on Crabmeat, Buzzbomber, and Newtron Badniks, just like old times. As he made his way through the zone, though, Sonic couldn’t shake an odd feeling in the back of his mind. He was aware that it was a dream, but something about this situation felt so… familiar. He couldn’t place it, though.

Eventually, he ran through a corkscrew loop and found himself back on the green grass, running along the flat ground past waterfalls and cliffs. As he was running, though, he suddenly felt the ground shake and came to a stop, surprised. He looked up and to the left and right, but he didn’t feel any more tremors or see anything out of the ordinary. He tilted his head and held his right hand up against the side of it with the crook of his elbow in his left hand for a moment before shrugging and starting to run again. He didn’t get far, however, before he heard a noise above and behind him and stopped, turning his head up to look.

Up in the blue sky, he saw a dark purple hole, much like the one he’d seen when the party his friends had prepared had been ruined. It hung in the air as he stared up at it, turning his body to look up better. For a moment, nothing happened, but then suddenly the head of a large, shadowed dragon-like creature emerged from it. The head soon turned down to look at him, letting out a hum when it saw him. It snorted a moment later and then lunged down straight at him!

Sonic let out a snort as he came back to the waking world, his dream ending so abruptly. He looked up at the bottom of the bunk above him, taking a moment to remember where he was. His eyes moved across the bottom of the bunk for a moment, wondering if something was wrong before his eyelids slid closed again and he tried to doze off again. Before he could, he heard the snort he’d heard in his dream and his eyes opened partway, feeling a bit exasperated. He heard it again a moment later and he sighed, sitting up as he started, “All right, whoever’s crashing in here with me, would you mind keeping it…?” He stopped as he looked over at the other side of the room.

On the top bunk across from him, he saw a green dinosaur with a big snout, big eyes atop its head, brown shoes, and a white front sleeping on its side atop the sheets. He heard a hum come from its mouth and realized where the sounds in his dream must’ve come from. Sonic stared; he couldn’t tell if it had a row of fins or a red saddle on its back, but he recognized the dinosaur. “Yoshi? Where did he come from?” he wondered. Looking down, he saw that another surprise guest was using the room as well.

A young human boy with blonde hair and pointy ears was sleeping on the bottom bunk, sitting atop the pillow on the bed with his back pressed against the wall. He wore predominantly green clothes, sporting a green floppy hat on his head and a short-sleeve green tunic that had a red belt around his waist and a brown strap that ran up and over his left shoulder. He also wore a pair of brown boots that went partway up his bare thighs. Sonic couldn’t help but think of an elf as he looked at the boy’s attire. Looking down at the floor next to the bed, he saw a small sword and shield suited for a child, the sword resting in a blue scabbard against the shield, which was made of metal on the outside but had wood on the inside. Sonic saw a line of markings running across part of the shield’s inside, but he couldn’t tell what they meant.

He looked up again when he heard the child beginning to stir, no doubt due to the sounds Yoshi was making. His eyelids parted slightly before he closed them again, stretching out his arms and legs as he moaned. He then relaxed a little, raising his left hand to rub the sleep from his eyes. Once he did that, he turned his head to his right a little groggily, soon seeing Sonic looking at him. The boy’s eyes snapped open almost immediately as he looked at Sonic, his blue eyes meeting the hedgehog’s green eyes as they stared at each other. The boy’s mouth was hanging open a little bit, but neither seemed to know what to say to the other.

Just as Sonic was about to try saying hi to the boy, a bright orange-red light began shining from the back of the room, a loud noise accompanying it. Their shared gaze was broken as they both turned to look at it. They both saw a bright, glowing yellow circle on the floor, an orange-red vortex swirling within it and colored lines rising up out of it. Both Sonic and the boy leapt up after a moment, Sonic kicking the sheets off of him and getting up on one knee while the boy pushed himself onto his knees and leaned down, reaching for the sword and shield on the floor. He wrapped his left hand around the scabbard and grabbed the shield with his right hand, holding the shield up in the direction of the light as he sat up on his knees. As they watched, they began to see something beginning to emerge from the vortex…

Cadance and Spike were coming back from the train’s caboose, being just one car away when they saw the light shining out into the hallway. The two shared a glance before they started running towards it. They quickly reached the room, but as they started to peer inside, the light suddenly became much brighter, forcing the two to shield their eyes and look away, Spike dropping the washcloth on the floor as he did so. The light continued to shine brightly for several moments before it began to die down. Spike and Cadance looked a moment later and saw three figures they’d never seen before at the back of the room, between the bunk beds.

Lucario straightened up as he knelt down on one knee, looking around and noticing the room they were in. “This doesn’t look like a Mystery Dungeon…” he uttered as he looked to his left, confused. Pikachu and Suicune tapped him and he looked forward to see that the team was not alone, the boy, Link, still holding up his shield as he looked back at them.

Cadance and Spike stared at the three Pokémon for a moment before turning their heads to look at Sonic, the blue hedgehog still kneeling on the bed. He soon looked over at them and, upon seeing their stares, said, “Don’t look at me. I didn’t invite anyone in here.”

Pikachu stepped forward and spoke, “Pika, pika pika! Pika pi, Pikachu! Pika pika pi! Pikachu, pika!”

His words were met with confused stares. Spike looked around, noticing Link for the first time as he shrugged and asked, “Am I the only one who didn’t understand any of that?” Sonic, Cadance, and Link all shook their heads in reply.

Pikachu groaned and cried, “Pikachu! Chu, pika! Pi pika! Pika, Pikachu!”

Sonic looked at the yellow mouse and shrugged, “Seriously, we don’t know what you’re saying! It sounds like bunches and bits of ‘Pikachu’ to us!” He looked up at Lucario, the Aura Pokémon having stood up after Pikachu’s first outburst, “I understood what you said a minute ago, though.”

Cadance nodded, “So did I.” Spike and Link nodded as well.

Suicune suppressed an outward exasperated sigh, instead doing it in her head as she thought, “They must not be able to understand our tongue. I suppose that’s why Lucario recalled being so surprised when he first met Pikachu. Hopefully this will work; otherwise he will have to be the one who does all the talking for a change.” She closed her eyes and focused for a second before opening them and communicating, ~Can you understand this?~

Spike, Cadance, Sonic, and Link all looked around in surprise at that. “What was that?” Spike asked.

Sonic looked at Suicune, “Was that you?” Suicune nodded; Sonic looked at Spike and said, “He’s communicating with telepathy, Spike.”

Suicune gave him an annoyed look, ~I am a female.~

Sonic blinked and rubbed the back of his head as he said, “Oh, sorry. Your voice sounded kinda deep, so… well, this is awkward.”

Link heard some shuffling above him, so he pressed his hands down against the mattress he was on and stuck his head out, twisting it around to try to see what was above him, everyone else soon noticing what he was doing and looking up as well. On the top bunk, Yoshi was finally stirring from the commotion, blinking his blue eyes several times before he pushed his hands down against the bed and pushed himself up, rolling onto his rear. He smacked his lips a few times as he blinked drowsily, humming “Hmmm…” when he was done. Looking down, he could see Sonic from where he was and waved as he sleepily said, “Yoshi…? Yoshi. (Huh…? Oh, hey Sonic.)” Sonic raised his right hand and waved back awkwardly.

Cadance cleared her throat, grabbing everyone’s attention. “Okay, I think we should all take a step back and follow the example Tails set earlier and have someone explain just what’s going on here.”

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