• Published 12th Dec 2013
  • 9,230 Views, 559 Comments

A Friend In Need - sopchoppy

Something has happened and Twilight finds herself in a strange and dark new world. The Bipeds here have strange magic, advanced technology, and a lot of problems. She needs a few friends, and they just might need her. WORM crossover.

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5 - Friends

As Skitter spoke quietly into the phone Twilight first dissipated then instantly recast her shield spell so that it now followed the contours of the brick room and thus included Skitter inside of it. Skitter paused and looked up at Twilight suddenly as the change happened. Twilight gave her a nervous rictus of a smile and the bug talking human went back to speaking into the phone. ‘There. Not as efficient as a dome, but now no one can sneak up behind her like..No, no I’m not going to think about that.’ Instead the Unicorn let her mind drift to a safer topic and pondered the meaning behind Skitter taking off her mask.

She had been in this world two weeks and the human notions on privacy and trust still befuddled her a little. The idea of hiding your identity in pony society where clothes were worn only at formal events or special occasions was somewhat ludicrous. Who you were, what you looked like, and your special talent were always on display to everyone around you. Humans were different. They wore clothes all the time and changed them for every activity. Some of them, mostly the magic wielding ones, had multiple names and you had to be careful to call them a particular name based on what they were wearing or they got very upset. At first Twilight thought this was something like the formal ranks and proper procedure of the royal guards, this did seem to be true for some of the members of the PRT and Peacekeepers, but the rules for the “Parahumans” seemed more subtle and complex.

After discarding the notion that they were analogous to ranks She thought maybe the “costume names” were like the human version of cutie marks. Since humans went clothed all the time any mark would be covered. So instead when you discovered your special talent you chose a name that symbolized that talent. That didn’t quite fit however, because so very few humans cast magic and surely the vast majority of their population were not still searching for their purpose. Then it had been made very clear that the non costumed names and faces were a secret not to be revealed, that the wards telling her their non talent names was a sign of trust and friendship.

Which was bizarre. Costumed or not Twilight could have picked any of the humans she had met out of a crowd. Since they could not sense the magic field, Twilight understood that they couldn’t see the unique interactions each of them made in it, but were human noses so much worse that they could not recognize an individual’s smell? Could they not hear the the uniqueness of each other’s voices? Were they so face oriented that they ignored all the other body cues that spoke so constantly to Twilight saying “This is who I am.” Twilight was still a little confused sometimes when it came to interpreting the body language of humans since they lacked the tail and mobile ears of ponies, but her lack of understanding didn’t mean that the cues that were there were no less unique and readily seen.

Twilight supposed that some of those thoughts had to be true, otherwise their customs made no sense at all. So what did it mean exactly that Skitter had shone her face to Twilight, but had not shared her non talent name? A measure of trust? Some sort of middling intimacy? Given the conversational cues and Skitters actions Twilight guessed that might be right. It was hard for her to think that way though. Everything about you made you who you were and proclaimed it to the world. Not just your name, or your face, or your talent, but all of that together with your actions, your friends, and everything else. The idea of sectioning yourself up and saying, “These parts are one me, Those parts are another,” didn’t seem right nor particularly good for someone. Still she tried to respect the intent of the gesture that the wards and now Skitter had shown her even if it was culturally strange and in practice meaningless to her. It meant something to them, and there were probably many subtleties in it that she was missing completely. Regardless it was nice to see Skitter’s face instead of the vaguely threatening mask she wore.

After another few minutes Skitter stopped talking and closed her phone. She gave Twilight a small smile before she spoke.

“Okay, it’ll take them a little while to get here and make sure they are not followed, but help’s on the way.” Twilight fidgeted nervously at the idea of more people and Skitter seemed to pick up on it. “Don’t worry they’re smart and are used to solving problems without attracting attention. Between all of us we’ll think of something.”

“I hope so. I thought I was good at solving problems, but everything here is so..” She trailed off not quite sure what word would suffice to finish that sentence. Twilight shook her head and then sneezed when it dislodged some of the dust in her mane. She looked over herself with a bit of disgust at the idea of meeting new people in her current state. She wasn’t a particularly vain pony but her parents had instilled the idea that it was politeness to be presentable when meeting new ponies. Besides like the mystery of the mask, it gave her something to think about that wasn’t what she wasn’t going to think about, no not at all. “I..I think I’m going to clean up a little before they get here.” Skitter looked around the barren room and then back to Twilight.

“Um, how? I’m not sure if this place ever had plumbing to begin with.”

“A little bit of magic.” Twilight said with a little genuine smile. The idea of casting some magic for something as mundane as getting cleaned up instead of trying to suss out dimensional travel or a life or death situation felt good, felt right. “Um, I’m still working on getting my control back so if I catch fire or glow, don’t worry ok?” Skitter looked highly skeptical of this last statement but nodded anyway. Twilight’s horn began to glow and purple fire did erupt around her hooves before the glow enveloped her and she blinked out of existence only to reappear a few feet to the right of where she had been. A small dirty shadow of Twilight stood for a second in her original location before collapsing and swirling away.

She looked over herself again. Better, but her mane and fur was still unkempt and stained in places. Not Acceptable. Horn glowing brighter, she concentrated. Unlike her teleportation, pulling this off would really test her. After she had surprised Princess Celestia with her ability to transmute a paper and quill she had given her a much more complex pattern and encouraged her to learn it, saying that it was one of the most useful applications of magic she would ever learn. Like so many things Celestia said Twilight was never sure if she had been serious or simply been testing her in some way. Flames rushed up her body and her eyes went briefly white as she completed the spell and a dull snap echoed off the brick walls.

Twilight walked over to her creation and then eased down into the Alicorn sized tub filled with steaming water whose rim rested just above the dirt floor of the room. As her mane spread out over the surface of the water Twilight let out a sigh of bliss. She would never doubt Celestia again. She dunked her head then resurfaced and opened her eyes. Skitter was looking at her with wide eyed shock. Had she done something wrong? Another taboo or custom she didn’t know about? Before she could descend into fretting Skitter snapped out of it.

“That was amazing,” she said sincerely. “I mean there have been a few rumors on the boards about what you could do, but nothing concrete, and nothing like that. So not only a mover and a blaster, but a shaker to? Well I guess the forcefields would be classified as a shaker ability, but I have never seen someone do something like you just did.” Twilight couldn’t help but be pleased, it felt nice to have someone recognize a skill she had spent such a long time practicing. She was also a little confused. Mover, blaster, shaker? She wasn’t sure if she was getting the right translation here and she was sure even with as difficult as transmutation was there had to be some human magicians capable of the task. Maybe Skitter just had not met them?

“Um, thank you. When did you realize you had a talent for speaking with insects?” A dark look overcame Skitter’s face for a moment but Twilight missed it as she was struck by the memory of a yellow pegasus with three pink butterflies as her cutie mark. A warm feeling that had nothing to do with the water temperature settled into her chest. “I think I knew someone that was good at talking with animals and insects. She was…shy? I think with ponies, but she loved animals.” Skitter let out a breath a gave what might have been a smile.

“I found my power earlier this year. I’m not sure you could call it love in my case, but I guess affection. It’s hard not to get at least a little attached to them when they help me out as much as they do.” Skitter looked like she was going to elaborate but Twilight heard something and stilled in the water and her tension must have been apparent because Skitter went still as well. One of Twilights ears rotated around to angle behind her and after a second she spoke quietly.

“A car is coming, a bigger one.”

Skitter nodded and said just as quietly, “Thats probably my friends, let me check.” She stood up and pulled her mask back on her face then pulled her phone back out and pushed a few keys. A moment later a soft chime sounded and Skitter nodded. “It is them. I’ll go meet them at the window and bring them back here. Ok?”

Twilight didn’t like the idea, no not at all. And in a moment she was out of the tub and only slightly damp. She walked up next to Skitter and contracted the shield until it was only a little bigger than the area they took up.

“Lets go together.”

When they got to the smaller room with the un-boarded window Twilight concentrated and as her horn brightened a series of translucent purple planes appeared forming steps up to the sill. A matching set descending to the ground outside materialized a moment later.

“That’s convenient.” Skitter said as the noise of a car engine approached and then shut off. “I’ve got some bugs directing them in the right direction, they should be here in a second.” Twilight fidgeted nervously again and backed away from the open window so that she was partially standing in the hallway, without really thinking about it she expanded the shield that was surrounding Skitter and herself to accommodate the new distance. A few minutes later the most unique human Twilight had yet seen came through the window and walked down the steps. His bright orange coloration and dark red mane was a color combination that wouldn’t have been out of place in Canterlot and a long prehensile tail trailed behind him. It made her think of home. Combined with the easy smile on his face Twilight’s anxiety eased a bit. She remembered Director Piggot saying there was only one human race as ponies defined the term, but clearly she was mistaken. While his coloration wouldn’t change that estimation, possessing an extra appendage certainly qualified. Interestingly he did not wear a mask and only a minimum amount of clothing which made Twilight wonder if people of his race had customs more similar to hers than the humans she had met so far.

The orange human looked over the both of them and declared, “I’ll be damned. Didn’t think you could get more conspicuous than me.” He stretched one arm up and made a beckoning gesture with his hand and a woman climbed up and inside quickly followed a small figure in a hooded robe. The woman’s clothing was strange. It was like someone had taken a Peacekeeper’s set of armor, modified it in strange ways and then put a dress on. She looked around the room like she was marking everything about it into her memory. She had the same kind of look that someone of the older royal guardsponies had. Professional. Cautious. After a moment she spoke.

“Ok, just to get the formalities out of the way. I’m Faultline, this is Labyrinth,” she gestured beside her, “and that’s Newter. Two more of my team are just outside. Gregor won’t fit through the window and I don’t want to waste time or draw attention by widening it. Skitter’s t..”

“Um, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to leave anyone alone outside. If it wouldn’t bother you or Gregor I could do a quick teleport and bring him inside?” Twilight offered hesitantly. Faultline considered this and then nodded.

“Gregor, Ms. Sparkle wants to teleport you inside. You ok with that?”

A deep voice came from just outside the window. “This would not bother me.” Twilight took a deep breath and then dismissed her shield spell, leaving the only remaining illumination in the room as the soft glow of the steps she walked up. She saw both Faultline and Newter tense slightly at the sudden change and Skitter moved her arms in what Twilight had learned was a calming gesture for humans. When she reached the sill and could look out she saw the other two members of Faultline’s team.

It was apparent who Gregor was immediately as only one of the two people outside would have any problem with the window. His pale skin shone in the soft moonlight interrupted occasionally by dark patches, like a inverted night sky. Twilight walked down the stairs and nervously looked around the area before speaking. She noticed Faultline observing from inside the window.

“Ok, um,” she looked blankly at the shorter female who interjected.


“And I am Gregor.”

“I’m Twilight Sparkle. The stairs will probably disappear once I start the teleport, so you may want to go ahead.” Twilight said as she nodded towards Spitfire. The red and black dressed human looked up at Faultline and then proceeded up the steps and into the room. Twilight went ahead and dismissed the steps and turned to Gregor while speaking loud enough for the people inside to hear. “Ok, there may be a little flame, and a bright flash and then we’ll be inside in the corner farthest from the window.” Gregor nodded and Twilight lit her horn and began to power the spell. Once again flames appeared around her hooves and Twilight had to shove the dismal thoughts about her shattered control to the back of her mind as she concentrated on the teleportation. Her horn grew brighter and then with a flash they were standing inside with everyone else. Gregor reached out with one arm and steadied himself against the wall. At the worried look from Twilight and Faultline he spoke.

“I am alright. It was disorientating but no more than that.” With this confirmation Faultline picked up where she had left off.

“Skitter’s told us a few things.” Twilight shuddered as that sentence brought her mind back to what they were all doing here. “I apologize for brining up what I must imagine is a very bad memory, but we need all the information we can get before we can tell you if we can take the job.”

“It’s..” No it wasn’t ok. “I understand. Job?” At the question Faultline shot a look in Skitter’s direction who spoke up quickly.

“Twilight. Faultline and her crew are my friends. They are good people, but they’re not like the Wards or the Protectorate, they don’t get money from the government. They have to get paid for the work they do.” Twilight looked despondent at this.

“I don’t have any money. Certainly not any human money. I’m sor-“

“Skitter told us that would likely be the case,” Faultline interjected. “Once we know the whole story, if I think the risk level is acceptable and we can help I’m sure we can settle on a non-monetary price.” Twilight looked confused by this and Skitter again hopped in to translate.

“You’re pretty powerful Twilight. What Faultline is talking about is you doing some favors for them.” Twilight brightened back up again at this before being brought down by Faultline’s next words.

“Tell us what happened.”

Twilight couldn’t force herself to start with what they really wanted to know. Instead she started at the beginning of the day. She told them about how she had been working with Dragon to try and figure out where Bakuda would place her next bombs and where she could be hiding. For fifteen or Twenty minutes she rambled on, her words meandering but inevitably bringing her closer to the worst moment in her life. When she got there she had built up enough momentum that she was able to continue. She hardly noticed the tears pouring down her face as she spoke.

“I was so scared…and sad..and confused…How..How could someone do that..act like that? He kept talking, talking so calmly about auditions and plays…he said I couldn’t ask the PRT or Protectorate for help, he said something about penalties…about other members auditioning?…I..was, something, slipping…I…lost..something..saw… something..a crystal…when he was talking.” Twilight sobbed and purple flames traced up her legs and something dark flickered into existence on the wall behind her. A palpable aura of fear filled the room and suddenly Labyrinth was there and hugging Twilight around her neck. The hug and Labyrinth’s body was stiff, almost mechanical, but it helped, it helped a lot. The overwhelming fear faded from the air and the wall returned to normal. Twilight spoke again as Labyrinth continued her embrace.

“I..lost control..my emotions @#$%@# the magic field, it fed back on itself. I..was..anger is not enough to describe…It was awful…black..evil. I didn’t have much..sense of…myself, but I did..something..I turned all of that darkness..collected it…told it to strike Jack. I..was..not quite..there, but I remember enough…I shattered his body into a million pieces…and I did it on purpose.” Twilight sobbed against Labyrinth’s shoulder and for a while the room was silent except for her tears.

“..ck me.” Newter said quietly before Gregor rested a hand on his shoulder and spoke gently in his deep voice.

“I am truly sorry. To go through that, it is terrible. I see it pains you, this taking of life. It should, everyone should feel such pain when a life is taken. Jack Slash did not, and that is what made him a monster. He spoke calmly and lightly because the suffering of others, the taking of lives, these things he did not feel at all. I am sorry that you killed him, for the hurt that it is causing you. I am not sorry at all that he is dead. Nor do I think you would find anyone that is.” Twilight looked up from Labyrinth’s shoulder and at the gentle face of the huge man. She..couldn’t accept that. At the same time his words, his understanding, had made her feel a little better. Faultline cleared her throat and spoke in her professional voice, tempered now with a little softness that was absent earlier.

“Alright. First, the Slaughterhouse Nine are in town. Thats about the worst news there is and they are way out of our league. If you were looking for someone to fight them, I’m sorry but no bounty in the world is enough for that risk.” Twilight shook her head side to side. “Here’s what we can do. We have a…meeting tomorrow with some of the other non-Protectorate capes in Brockton Bay. We were going to discuss the ABB and Bakuda and likely talk about joining forces to help the Protectorate run them down. If you remember any of your research we can pass that along to them and hopefully take care of that problem. We can also warn them about the Nine, and there are some powerful people that may be able to stop some of them, possibly between them and the heroes that will be coming to town it will be enough. Given the Nine’s interest in you the most important thing is to keep you hidden from them. We can find you a safe house, someplace nicer than this. Food, power, water, supplies…”

She trailed off as she focused on Labyrinth still hugging the unicorn.

“..company. We might find a discrete way for you to get in touch with the PRT, let them know you’re alright and share information. Basically hunker down, help where we can, and weather the storm. Would that work for you?”

Twilight thought for a moment, Labyrinth’s body still in the exact same position around her as it had been at the start of the hug. It didn’t feel right, the idea of leaving others to fight such a horrible thing. At the same time, she wasn’t sure she could face someone else like Jack. And if she did, and if she lived, she wasn’t sure she would be able to face herself. This was better than that. She shifted her eyes to Faultline.

“Thank you, someplace safe, sleep. That would be good.”

“Ok, everyone lets move. Twilight, if you would?” The glowing planes of force reappeared leading up to the window and Faultline bent down to whisper in Labyrinth’s ear who slowly and with that same mechanical feel released Twilight. When everyone was outside except Twilight and Gregor she turned to him.

“Are you ready?”

“I am.” With a flash of light they were outside standing next to the others. Faultline pointed to a run down van, that if Twilight had not known they had driven here, would have sworn had been sitting abandoned in this very lot for years. They were about halfway to it when it exploded.

Everyone flinched and crouched away from the blast as fire spread out rapidly from the wreck in every direction. Twilight saw Faultline unholster a pistol and use her other arm to begin to draw Labyrinth behind her when a fireball detonated in the middle of the group and split it in half. Faultline, Labyrinth, Spitfire, and Newter where flung to one side while Gregor, Skitter, and Twilight were hurled to the other. In the middle of her uncontrolled tumble Twilight saw a figure rise out of the flames where the blast had hit. The flames illuminated a girl’s face pockmarked with ugly circular burn scars.

Just as Twilight was sliding to a stop over the rough gravel of the lot she saw the figure in the flames raise both her arms and flames followed the movement and shot out towards both groups. Gregor threw A glob of something which intercepted the trail of fire that was headed in their direction. Bugs seemed to fly in from every direction towards the girl in the red dress standing in the flames. The girl flinched as something stung her and flames sprung up around her before being flung outwards again. Gregor threw more slime, but Skitter was grazed was knocked to the ground her costume smoldering as she rolled along the ground.

On the other side Faultline had ducked out of the flames path and dragged Labyrinth to the ground with her, Newter had leapt up and to the side in an amazing feat of athleticism. Spitfire who may have been the blast’s true target hadn’t reacted fast enough, was knocked off her feet and landed on her back engulfed in flames.

Twilight couldn’t believe this was happening again, this couldn’t be happening again! Any progress she had made reigning in her magic had been undone in the last twenty seconds, purple flames enveloped her entire body as she lay in the gravel and watched the horror unfold in front of her. The pyrokinetic turned to face Twilight more directly, her face lit by the flames around her, she had a look of apathy that somehow scared Twilight more than anger would have. As the girl raised her hands towards her Twilight heard Labyrinth yell.

“Mimi Don’t!” The girl hesitated at the scream and then vanished into the flames just as a series of gun shots rang out. She reappeared directly behind Faultline and seemed to cause an explosion in her hands that sent the mercenary flying, costume aflame and gun careening into the darkness. Newter picked up a brick with his tail and flung it hard at the girl, and she staggered as it hit her in the shoulder but the move hadn’t left him enough time to get out of the way of another blast and he was sent reeling into the dirt trailing flames.

Gregor threw two huge globs of slime and covered both Faultline and Newter, smothering the fire hugging their forms. The girl turned towards Labyrinth who was now only a few feet away and just started to say something when she was tackled from behind by Spitfire. As she was falling to the ground the girl disappeared into the flames beneath her and sprung back up directly behind Gregor. Twilight watched as the girl compressed heat between her hands and violently sent Gregor to the ground where he did not move.

A vast swarm of bugs descended into a cloud so thick around the girl that Twilight could no longer see her before they were burned away in a huge eruption of flames. Skitter was kneeling about 15 feet away from Twilight holding what her peacekeepers had described as a weapon that delivered an electrical shock. As the cloud of bugs was burning Skitter pulled the trigger and Twilight saw the girl convulse for a second before recovering and raising her arms in Skitter’s direction.

All control gone Twilight was now pulling so much magic that she no longer resembled a pony of fire, but rather a purple star to bright to look at directly. As she had done unconsciously when watching Panacea heal Aegis her perception of time sped up, but unlike that time it kept speeding up until the world seemed frozen in place. Frozen in a scene verging on horror. These people had tried to comfort her, that had wanted to help her. No one was dead yet, but Twilight knew that was about to change. She could see it with a certainty that bordered on precognition. She didn’t want to see it. Twilight had seen to much, felt to much since arriving here. Equally as frightening was the idea of trying to grasp the power that was swirling around her. Vivid memories of the murder she had committed and the crystal landscape of fear she had left behind swirled in her head.

She might have laid there forever in that frozen slice of time had she not felt the ghostly touch of a wing draping over her back. The world faded away and she burst into tears, turning and sobbing into the now fully solid alicorn laying beside her. For an long time she simply cried, cried until she felt empty. The wing stroked her back slowly, tenderly, familiarly.

“Oh Princess Celestia, I’ve tried to be brave, to make you proud, but I only made things worse. I’ve done such awful things and I’m so scared. Scared of everyone, scared of myself. Nothing is right anymore. Please, please take me home. I’m so sorry, whatever I did, please take me back to Equestria, please.” Twilight trailed off into renewed sobs, utterly defeated as the huge winged unicorn continued to stroke her back.

“Oh Twilight, my Twilight, my faithful student, I have never doubted your bravery and you have always made me proud. If I could somehow spare you this know that I would. You are not being punished and you have not failed me Twilight. You are in danger though. You are extraordinarily talented and powerful Twilight, our being here in this place is proof enough of that.” That caused Twilight to pull her head up and glance around. Twilight and Celestia appeared to be laying on a dim bed of stars, around them a blue nebula. Beyond the nebula an ominous darkness like storm clouds at sunset encroached. “But if you lose yourself, lose faith in yourself, faith in your friendships, and in those you love, you could become the monster you fear in truth. I have already had a loved one travel that path, I do not know if I could bear it a second time.”

A fractured memory flickered, almost as if it was tangible in this place and the stars around them brightened as Twilight remembered.

“Nightmare moon! She was Princess Luna, she was your sister, and I, we..used…the elements, the elements of harmony to heal her! ….Generosity, Kindness….Laughter….and….and…” As she tried to remember a bejeweled tiara resting on her head fazed in and out of reality as a deluge of broken memories and feelings flooded her being. The landscape quaked and thunder rumbled from the darkness.

“We don’t have much time. Twilight, the elements did heal her, but when my sister fell she did damage that even after a thousand years still haunts Equestria and her heart. You must not walk her path, ” Celestia’s body turned translucent for a moment before re-solidifying. The stars were growing dimmer, going out. Twilight panicked and threw her hooves around Celestia’s neck.

“No, please don’t go. Don’t make me go back, please!” Celestia brought her head down and laid her head over Twilight’s neck.

“Twilight, all beings, even ones such as you or I must, at the end, answer to time. Our time here in this place must soon come to an end least we damage it and all the places connected to it. I have faith in you Twilight, you were always a good student. You must remember your lessons.” Twilight lost her purchase as Celestia turned transparent, the stars were disappearing rapidly now.

“Please Princess! I don’t know what to do, what do I do!?” Twilight sobbed as she tried to hold onto the now ghostly form of Celestia.

“I love you Twilight, your friends love you. Remember your lessons, trust your heart.” Before Twilight could respond she felt the world lurch and she was back in the abandoned lot. The fire girl’s arms were now fully extended towards Skitter and a line of flame was crawling glacially through the air towards Skitter. Tears trickled down Twilight’s face. What had just happened? A hallucination? No, no she had been there in that other place, Celestia had really been there, but now she was back and her heart twisted in her chest. Back in this awful place. This Awful place with these nice people that were going to die for her, how could such an awful place have such nice people, how could they endure, how could they stay true to themselves?

She needed to find out. If she lived through what she was about to try, she would have to ask them.

Anyone who knew Twilight Sparkle knew that worry, anxiety, researching, testing, retesting, checking and double checking were so much a part of her that they might as well have been etched into her DNA. She had channeled these things into mostly positive aspects of her life, but all of the violence and danger and horror she had experienced had caused her to freeze up while her magic spiraled out of her control. There was no way to act quick enough to check things even once. There was no way to research enough to know that right course of action before hand.

What she was about to do went against almost everything she had ever learned about magic, and all of her rational instincts. ‘Trust your heart.’ Twilight always had trouble with that, but she trusted Princess Celestia and she trusted her friends and now she remembered. She wept tears of joy as she remembered events both world altering and mundane that had spun the threads of their lives together. If she didn’t remember everything, she remembered the most important things. Friendship, love, and harmony were higher magics, magics that were constrained only by the limits of a pony’s heart.

She looked around at the scene in front of her with new eyes and saw more. She saw the connections, the friendships and the ties binding these people together and though she hardly knew them she saw the tentative and fragile ties that connected her to them as well. Even the fire girl was tied to them by a bond to Labyrinth. It was beautiful and awful and wonderful and terrible and amazing. Twilight suddenly understood. Her special talent was magic, and in an indescribable way these connections, these friendships were magic. Magic without end. Glowing like a star Twilight stepped directly into the path of the frozen trail of flame. She pulled every good thought close to her heart, she held her memories of friends both old and new there, and directed the swirling uncontrolled potential surrounding her to that place that was both in her and somehow outside as well, that was connected to everything, and let it go.

Stretching across dimensions she felt five connections sing, a harmony of hearts and friendship, and purpose. A tiara settled on her head as a wave of rainbow light spread out from her. Time resumed and the fires ceased. Scraggly patches of weeds and grass and vines in the abandoned lot grew tall and spread, until the gravel was covered in a thick soft carpet of vegetation. A sapling struggling to hang onto the rough embankment where the lot met with the creek burgeoned into a mighty oak whose limbs stretched wide over the water and dipped under their own weight to touch the ground and rise back into the air around them.

Wings shifting on her back Twilight stepped forward and hugged the unscarred face of weeping girl in front of her.