• Published 12th Dec 2013
  • 9,589 Views, 562 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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4 - Villains

If there was one thing that Twilight had figured out in the past few days it was this: conference tables were not built for ponies. Nor were the rooms that they tended to be found in, nor did there seem to be anything useful accomplished while seated at one. Like all such rooms she had been in since her arrival it seemed designed to hamper communication rather than help it. The long narrow room and table insured you were always stretching your neck or readjusting your position to see and hear who was speaking. It forced the creation of unspoken hierarchies based on seating location, which in turn gave more authority to the words of some and inhibited others from speaking at all. If the idea was to facilitate dialog and the sharing of ideas to solve problems Twilight thought you would be hard pressed to find a table and room design more antithetical to that goal. When added to the white undecorated windowless walls and the human conceived torture that was the endlessly humming florescent lighting Twilight silently vowed then and there that all such rooms would one day cease to exist.

Twilight was halfway through what she thought would be a well received proposal to eliminate the vile things and the wasteful processes that surrounded them before the last few people that were attending this preposterously pointless procedure arrived. Her eyes twitched when she flicked her gaze toward the clock and noted it was 5 minutes past the scheduled time. In short Twilight was stressed and annoyed and in no mood for shenanigans after the day she had yesterday. Especially if said pointless shenanigans couldn’t even be bothered to happen on time. Piggot was here as she always seemed to be, as well as lieutenant Matthews, Armsmaster, Director Costa-Brown, Dr. Yamada, and a few people whose visitor badges said “State Department.” One seat at the table had a small monitor on a swivel that clicked on to show what looked like an artificially rendered and animated face of a human female. A small plaque under it declared her to be “Dragon.”

Twilight cocked her head in puzzlement, she knew by now that some humans, usually the ones with a magic ability, took on nicknames but this was the closest a human name or nickname had come to having a direct translation close to something that existed on her world. There were interesting implications to that and she made a quick note to look up human references to dragons and ask someone about this particular “Dragon.” She would have introduced herself but Director Costa-Brown chose that moment to clear her throat from the head of the table

“Now that everyone is here we can begin. Ms. Sparkle, let me first say that the PRT appreciates your assistance yesterday, the capture of two villains is no small thing and the aid you rendered the wards on scene was admirable. However your actions did cause concern for a number of people in this room and around the world. The PRT and the UN peacekeepers on hand have assumed responsibility for your safety and.” Twilight’s eye twitched at this and Dr. Yamada gave a very slight shake of her head. The Director paused mid-sentence and Twilight interjected.

“Yes I’ve gotten the distinct impression from just about everyone in the building that they are unhappy with my actions. You say you appreciate my help like a mother might tell her foal thanks for helping cook after destroying the kitchen. What you are really saying is ‘Thanks - don’t ever do that again.’ I’m a full grown mare, the personal student of Princess Celestia and one of the most powerful magicians on my planet. I have accepted no oaths from guardsmen or knights nor am I bound to your government. No one has responsibility for my safety but me. I am not the most social of ponies, and we do things differently than humans, but I know when I am being managed and condescended to - that apparently is universal. I have tried to be understanding in light of the assistance you have given me, and the strange circumstance we all find ourselves in. I was trying to be polite and accommodating to the customs of your people but in retrospect it was foalish of me to tacitly accept the knights and guardsmen’s presence without both parties understanding each other and their duties fully.”

Twilight paused and turned to address Lieutenant Matthews directly. “Lieutenant I would like to apologize again, I know my actions put you and your team at risk and jeopardized the duty you took on to protect me. I hope we can put it behind us and reach a better understanding of each other, but I also do not regret my actions and would and will repeat them if a similar situation arises where I think I can help.”

Twilight turned again to face Director Costa-Brown. “The wards are my friends and have helped me during what is one of the most stressful times in my life. Friends help each other and I will help them if I am able. If this cannot be accommodated, if my freedom of movement cannot be guaranteed, if some rule or custom foreign to me forbids you from allowing me this then I will have to, with regret, take my leave and hope in the future I can repay the hospitality you have shown me so far.” Twilight paused and let out a slow breath. Realizing she was more stressed than she had even realized. ‘I can’t believe I just said all that! It all just bubbled over, even the nicest of them tend to talk down to me for some reason I can’t figure out and it’s just so frustrating! What if I crossed some major social taboo for them? What if they get angry? Did I just cause an interplanetary incident? Where will I go if I do have to leave?!?’

Once it was clear Twilight was done speaking for the moment Director Costa-Brown spoke again. “Ms. Sparkle let me apologize to you. While some changes and adjustment in expectations will have to made on both our and your side I assure you that you will not need to seek other accommodations. There has been miscommunication on both our parts and I believe your translation spell may have masked some deeper cultural differences between our worlds that have exasperated these errors. If we each show patience I am sure our understanding of these differences will grow and we can continue to help each other to the best of our abilities. We have a few other things to discuss, but if you are willing to meet with Lieutenant Matthews and I afterwards I am sure we can work out some new arrangements in regards to what we just discussed?” Twilight nodded her ascent and the Director shot the State Department officials a look before continuing. “Very well, lets move on. I believe Director Piggot wanted to ask you a few questions about the bank robbery.”

“Yes,” Director Piggot spoke after clicking a small button on the table that brought up a series of images on the wall screen. The panel showed the giant dogs being flung off of Aegis, running into a shimmering purple wall, and being being contained under force domes. “Ms. Sparkle can you describe the abilities you are utilizing here?”

Twilight blushed a little in embarrassment at the simple utilitarian display. “Um, really that’s all just telekinesis,” she lifted the small glass in front of her. “Like I demonstrated for you before. It’s basically the simplest application of magic there is, but I was concentrating on applying pressure to Aegis’s wounds and I didn’t really have time to think of anything else.”

“I see,” she clicked the button again and an image of the dark cloud showed on the screen, litter and rubble tumbling out of it the image froze once Vista followed. “And here?”

“That was a little more complex. When I first arrived I was briefly caught inside the darkness and I noticed that it was applying several effects besides the negation of light propagation. One of the effects being applied was a reduction in gravity. I didn’t think I had time to come up with a proper counter-spell, but it’s much easier to augment an existing effect. So I reduced the gravity in the field even further causing anything inside to be ejected.” Armsmaster and Dragon started talking quietly to each other and both Director Costa-Brown and Piggot focused more intensely on her. Director Piggot followed up.

“So if I am understanding you correctly you can sense what an ability is doing and enhance or negate its effect?” Twilight frowned in thought for a moment.

“Probably? Maybe? It’s a little more complicated since however it is that humans interact with the field it is very different from how I do it. As I mentioned counter-spells, or negating abilities to use your terms, are much more difficult to construct and take a lot more time. Also gravity manipulation is pretty simple, whereas more complicated or delicate applications of magic would take time for me to study and understand before I would feel safe attempting either.” More murmurs and note taking followed this as Piggot Continued.

“Lastly, on the way back to PRT headquarters you seemed to have some sort of episode and didn’t respond to attempts to communicate with you.” She clicked the button again and the back of the transport she had been in yesterday was displayed with Twilight standing in the aisle, eyes blazing white, mane fluttering, and random objects orbiting her. Twilight gasped and blushed in embarrassment. ’That’s why they were all acting so weird!’

“Oh I’m so sorry about that. It wasn’t intentional. I got so caught up in !#!$!#@$% Panacea’s application of healing transmutation, and oh! I really need to speak with her. What she did was the most amazing feat of magic I have ever seen! The implications of such a thing..” Piggot cleared her throat and Twilight blushed again. “Sorry, but it really was amazing. Anyway I got so focused on Panacea’s magic that I guess sort of unconsciously @%&@%$@ magic to myself to help me #!#$!#$% the details better. I’m sorry if I scared anyone. I know it can look a little disturbing to ponies, which is why I am usually very careful not to %^@$%^@$ so much magic at once.”

Director Costa-Brown spoke up as the others continued to take notes. “Thank you Twilight, and don’t worry we will explain to the Wards and Panacea that it was a harmless lapse in concentration and nothing they need to worry about. I think thats all we need for the moment, If you want you can head up to your room or swing by the wards lounge and later today we can go over what we discussed earlier in more detail.” Twilight nodded but before she could hop off her stool the screen labeled "Dragon" spoke.

"I'm sorry we didn't really get a chance to speak, before you go I wanted to introduce myself. I'm Dragon and I'm with the Protectorate as well. Armsmaster has shared some of your notes with me and if you have time later I would love to talk with you about them." Twilight smiled at the friendly and sincere tone and nodded.

"I would like that." She looked around the room once more then hopped off her stool grateful to leave, Matthews trailing after her.


Twilight took a deep breath of the salty night air as she walked slowly beside Vista, her hooves clopping lightly on the wooden boardwalk beneath them. If the friendly stroll was somewhat marred by the three guardsmen trailing them and the matching set in front it was still better then driving herself insane staring at her whiteboard for the third straight night. It had been four days and this was the first time she was exercising her negotiated freedom. The slight thaw in her relations with the guards had turned instantly chilly again once she told them she planned to accompany Vista on her patrol tonight. While she understood the guards viewpoint, the city certainly seemed to be getting more dangerous every day that passed, it pained her that in order to support and build her friendship with the wards it seemed she would have to hurt her chances of building one with her guards.

It was ridiculous anyway! She highly doubted that any of them would be content to stay confined to a room in Canterlot palace had their positions been reversed. This was an alien world! Twilight Sparkle was going to do more than just read about it in books, though she fully intended on doing as much of that as possible as well. Twilight let the happy thoughts of exploration and books subsume the less happy ones about unreasonable guards as she glanced down at her new accessory, given to her just before they left the PRT building. A light silver necklace bounced in time with her steps against her neck. Armsmaster had apparently made it sometime over the last three days and it had one of those wonderful wireless radios built into it so she could talk to her guards or call someone at PRT HQ. It was a sensible precaution, practical, and went well with her coat color. The image of a white unicorn nodding her head in approval surfaced and lingered long enough to bring a smile to Twilight’s face.

“What are you smiling about?” Vista asked seemingly in good spirits, Twilight had been around the wards enough now to notice that Vista seemed to be a little more cheerful in her company and took that as an unspoken compliment.

“A couple of things, but the big one is that I think my memory is slowly coming back. I think I have a friend, a pretty white unicorn, that would like this necklace.” Twilight said as she nodded to the functional jewelry. “I’ve had a couple of flashes of different ponies that I am sure are important to me, but this was one of the clearest and It came with hints about her personality and tastes.”

“Thats great Twilight!” Vista said as she slung an arm in a half hug over the unicorns neck. “I’m sure the rest of it will come back too.”

“I hope so, it’s very frustrating to know that these were some of the most important ponies in my life, but remember so little about them. Like I wonder how I became friends with the white unicorn. The impression I got was that she was classy and fashionable, which isn’t like me at all. How would I have even met somepony like that, let only become close enough friends with them that I know in my bones we were very important to each other.”

Vista smiled and stood up straight again as she and Twilight continued to walk down the boardwalk, letting one hand trail through Twilight’s mane. “Maybe you met on some grand adventure where you saved each others lives and broke through whatever social barriers stood between you in the process! Or maybe you tripped and accidentally pushed her into a fountain? That could actually be kind of fun, whenever you remember something about one of the ponies you cant recall clearly we should come up with stories on how you met them. Then when you see them again you could show them all the ideas and laugh over how close or far away you were.” Twilight laughed at the thought and liked the confidence with which Vista spoke of her seeing her friends again. Maybe she would do that, it might even help her remember them faster.

They were almost at the end of the street where they would be meeting a van that would take them back to PRT HQ. Twilight wondered exactly how much of a patrol this was for Vista when the entire route had probably been scouted and cleared by the various Peacekeepers in advance, and she also suspected that Vista’s patrol route had been changed to what looked like a nice section of town after she said she would like to go along. Vista didn’t seem to mind however, and at least for now Twilight was willing to accept it with good grace.

Twilight felt a the magic field suddenly shudder to the west a few seconds before a low frequency rumble made its way through the air and Twilight’s hooves. She froze and stared in that direction, concentrating on the magic and remembering the deal she had made with her guards and Director Costa-Brown. It hadn’t felt like someone casting magic really, not even the weird way humans cast, more like something had shoved the field indirectly somehow. She tapped the open comm button with magic and spoke on a channel that sent to her guards and PRT HQ.

“This is Twilight Sparkle, I just sensed..something…about 350 meters west of my current location. It um, felt like…something….For lack of a better word it felt..bad.” She pulled out a notebook and flipped to her notes on the procedures they had outlined for her. “Um, Requesting permission to investigate with Vista and the Peacekeeper group night shift.” She hated wasting precious seconds while people could be in trouble but it was part of the deal she had made and she would stick to it, unless it was absolutely necessary that she not.

“Twilight Sparkle this is PRT Command, wait one.” Twilight groaned as more precious time disappeared. “Twilight you are cleared to proceed with caution with Vista and group night shift, backup in route from Protectorate ETA 2 minutes.” Sighing in relief she looked at Vista who nodded and started sprinting towards the end of the block, the guards unholstering their weapons and settling into an easy run around the two of them. When they got to the end of the block and turned west Twilight noticed a section of the street and some of the buildings on the right hand side seemed to be glittering in the street and moonlight. A small breeze picked up and the air it carried from the west was cold.

“This is Khan, visual of incident looks like ice covering part of the street and a few buildings. Proceeding on foot, van to follow a short distance behind and be ready for evac.” Vista halved the distance between the group and the glittering section of the street and suddenly they were close enough for Twilight to get a good look at what was happening. At the slowly expanding edge of the effected area water vapor was condensing then freezing mid air leaving a glittering frost on the roadbed, as Twilight looked closer towards the buildings she noticed foggy pools slowly getting larger and columns of air falling towards them.

“Everyone back up!” Twilight shouted as she herself walked slowly backwards away from the expanding frostline. “The edge is cold, but a little ways in so much heat has been forced out that the Nitrogen and Oxygen are condensing out of the air.” Vista gave a grim look towards the apartment buildings in the center of the effect and Twilight’s brain did a quick and entirely unwanted calculation of how many people possibly lived there. She gave herself a second to shove the giant part of herself that wanted to break down in tears and scream deeper inside before she continued. “We need to evacuate everyone on the block outside of those three buildings.” Twilight pointed to the buildings in the center of the effect. “Closest ones first and fast, I think I can stop the effect but its going to take me a little while and I’m not sure how much area will freeze before I’m done.” Vista gave Twilight a reassuring hug.

“Thats a good plan.” She said softly, before she could continue Khan spoke in a loud clear voice.

“Alright, you heard her. Daniels your with me covering Twilight, everyone else start going door to door on the nearest buildings hallways closet to the effect first, pull the fire alarms, it starts getting too cold you get out of there pronto.” He paused and pushed a button near his ear before continuing. “Command, were going to need boots on the ground for an evacuation of the block - police, fire department, PRT. Also medical personnel and supplies for hypothermia and frost bite. Advise all responders not to approach closer than 50 feet of any visible frost.”

“Command copies, Assault and Battery are less than 30 seconds from your position, more help is on the way, good luck.”


Two hours later enough heat had reentered the area that the okay had been given to start searching inside the buildings that had been closest to where the “freeze bomb” had detonated. Twilight watched as stretchers started being carted out with black bags strapped to them. Big bags, small bags. She had overheard, they hadn’t meant for her to, but she had. Someone had done this on purpose, someone had done it because they were angry that Lung had been caught.

All those people were dead because of her.


Twilight was staring intently at her wall sized whiteboard as though shear focus could force an answer from it. All of her equations had been scrubbed off, in their place was a meticulously precise street map of Brockton Bay and its suburbs. Multi-colored “X”s dotted the map with no discernible rhyme or reason. Piled around her on the bed were notebooks filled with everything she had been able to get the PRT to tell her about the ABB, Bakuda, and Lung. Scattered all over the room were crumbled balls paper, the effort of three days and nights of theories and patterns found and discarded, of some lives saved and many more senselessly lost. Her responsibility and her failure to live up to the standards Princess Celestia set for Twilight and the ones she had set for herself.

A screen that had been installed two days ago clicked on and Twilight’s frazzled mane turned to see Dragon’s animated face appear on it. “Twilight you have to get some sleep.” Dragon spoke in a gentle and concerned voice. “Dozens of people, myself included, are working to find and capture Bakuda. None of this is your responsibility or your fault. Dr. Yamada told me you wouldn’t talk with her when she came by this morning, please you need to sleep and afterwards you need to talk to someone about this.” Twilight flinched a little at the words and the look Dragon was giving her. Dragon had perhaps been the most understanding of anyone these past few days. She had provided Twilight maps and information when others had refused her. She had reviewed Twilight’s patterns and debated and refined them with her late into the night. If Twilight could bring herself to find any humor in the world she would have laughed at how someone she had never even seen or met had so quickly become one of her best friends.

“Oh Dragon, how can I sleep when something so horrible is happening? When my friends are out there risking their lives? When all this started because I showed up? It’s so hard to remember, but I know solving crisis is something I’m supposed to do. Something Princess Celestia entrusted me to do. I failed somehow, and now I’m failing again.” Twilight trailed off miserably as a another couple of notebook sheets were crumpled and tossed in the floor telekinetically. It was hard to read the animated expression Dragon had, but Twilight thought that she might have gotten a hug had she been there in person. It wasn’t as nice as an actual hug, but it did help a little.

“You sleep because you know that no matter how smart or powerful you are, the worlds problems are bigger than any one person or pony. You sleep because you trust your friends to watch over you. You sleep because if you fail your friends will be there to catch you. So trust Vista, Aegis, Kid Win, Gallant, and me. No one of us is going to solve this, but we’ll help each other and together we’ll stop Bakuda.” Twilight took a deep breath pressing a hoof against her chest and then slowly letting it out.

“Okay, ok. I trust you. I just know there is more I could do if I could remember it. Maybe sleep will help, can you take a look at my latest notes? Maybe you can see something I missed?” Dragon nodded and Twilight got up and levitated a stack of notebooks beside as she walked to the door and opened it. Without leaving the room Twilight directed the notebooks down the hall to a small bin at the guard station labeled “Dragon.” Shutting the door again she dodged around the piles of paper and hopped back up on her bed. Giving a final baleful glance at the whiteboard she turned to Dragon again.

“Thank you, I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been there for me these past couple of days. Your a good friend.” Twilight yawned as she settled into her bed and a small purple glow surrounded the light switch and flicked it off. Leaving Dragon’s glowing screen as the only illumination in the room. Dragon smiled.

“You are to Twilight, get some sleep and I’ll call you in the morning.” Twilight nodded and her eyes were halfway closed when suddenly Dragon yelled. “Twilight! Cast your strongest shield spell! A sphere centered on you! Right now!” Jolted out of the half doze she had been about to drift off in she cast the spell on instinct. A purple sphere with a twenty foot radius snapped into existence around her.

“Dragon what?”

“Twilight I’m on my w-”

Then the world turned white.


Twilight’s ears were ringing, something was dripping into her left eye and all she could see out of her right was a cloud of debris being held back by a shimmering purple shield. Her head pounded as she looked around the 30 foot circle inside the dome of her shield. A double yellow line was painted on the pavement she was standing on. ‘A street?’ Twilight’s thoughts refused to order themselves and she winced as a deep rumble more felt than heard traveled through her hooves breaking her fragile concentration. ‘I had been…In my office! Yes I had been in my office trying to discern some pattern. Pattern to what?’ Suddenly the swirling smoke outside her shield whirled and shifted to reveal a mass of broken concrete, metal and wires piled up outside the purple field and cut cleanly where they touched it.

Twilight gasped as the sight jogged her memory. ‘The Bombings, they wouldn’t let me do search and rescue with the wards so I was trying to find the most likely places to be attacked next.’ A deep feeling of dread descended on Twilight as she looked out at the rubble beyond her shield and knew there was a location that in hindsight should have obviously been at the top of her list. ‘PRT Headquarters! My guardsmen!’ Shoving her headache and her worry over her eye towards the back of her mind she glanced around but saw nothing but a few hints of rubble through the debris laden smoke. She couldn’t start looking for them until she had a better idea of what was beyond the purple field. Her face scrunched up in pain as she took a few breaths to center herself before readying a spell. The unicorn’s headache spiked as her horn glowed brighter and a wind stirred outside the dome, slowly gathering strength and clearing the smoke.

Twilight had worked out that PRT HQ had been bombed, but her concussed mind had not put that together with the fact that she was standing on a street. Horror mixed with the blood dripping down her face as the summoned wind allowed her to take in her surroundings. In front of her was a scrambled pile of smoking concrete 20 feet high ending at what was vaguely recognizable as the bottom few floors of the PRT building. Everything above the second floor had been violently sheared off, the remains of which she was standing in the middle of. Behind her the face of the building that had been across the street from PRT HQ looked like it had been mauled. A smear of red among the grey concrete resting against the purple field drew her eye before she turned to the side and threw up.

Closing her good eye she breathed deep as she tried to force the image of the cleanly bisected human thigh from her head. Whoever that had been was beyond any help she could give, but there might be other people still alive in there. Shuddering she looked back at the debris pile in front of her, and now that she could see that nothing was threatening to fall on her she let the shield drop. A small amount of rubble slid into the clear space around her and she coughed as dust filled smoke swirled around her. If there was anyone still alive she would need to find them first then find a way of navigating the wreckage safely. Sluggishly her brain came up with a plan.

Walking up to the edge of the rubble she tilted her head forward and rested her horn against it. Coughing and wincing she lit her horn and a subtle purple glow spread out from it and into the remains of the building. Her head felt like it was going to explode as Twilight processed all the information the wave of magic was returning. Keeping the complex 3D map of the debris in her head while it felt like someone was driving an icepick into her brain was testing Twilight’s limits. Two excruciating minutes later she stopped with a pained sigh. Of the dozens of bodies she identified in the rubble, only three were intact enough to still be alive. Twilight was sure she would have nightmares from the mental images she had constructed, but that would be later, right now there were people she could still save.

Two of the people were together in a small pocket of clear space framed by broken support beams while the third was pinned near the top of the pile close to base of the tower. With no way of knowing their condition well enough to choose Twilight decided to excavate the two that were closer to her first. Not trusting her concentration enough to teleport to the top of the rubble she formed a field beneath herself and slowly lifted it to a stable position on top of the pile. Broken spires of metal and glass lit by dim sunlight filtering through the cloud of smoke above jutted up from the remains of the building. Carefully Twilight Formed a force sphere around the people to prevent debris from shifting into the area and began to lift multi-ton girders and concrete columns off the pile and set them gently down behind her.

A few minutes later Twilight slowly lifted the bloody pair of humans from the hole. A PRT officer wearing a black combat vest and an office worker in what might have been a sun dress were hugging each other tightly, both with dozen of small cuts all over their bodies, but alive. Relieved, Twilight set them down next to her. The female PRT officer slowly stood up then gently pulled the other girl to her feet. The office worker leaned against her to avoid putting weight on what looked like a badly swollen lower leg joint. The officer slowly looked around in shock before glancing back down at Twilight.

“Bakuda?” Twilight Nodded, “Thank you for rescuing us. I’m Sergeant Williams, and this is Jessica.”

“I mean I think it was Bakuda, no way to tell for sure yet. If you’re both ok there is one more person we need to dig out as soon as possible.” Sergeant Williams took a deep breath and looked around grimly before responding.

“Only one, you’re sure?” Twilight sniffled a little as she nodded.

“Okay, lets go get them.”


Thirty minutes later Twilight was gently lifting chunks of concrete away from the base of the building under the direction of Williams while a couple of squads setup a triage tent nearby. One of the medics had washed and bandaged Twilight’s eye and the image of a Pink pony laughing while speaking like a pirate had briefly surfaced from the muddled sea of Twilight’s mind. Bakuda had apparently set off bombs all over the city, and while the Protectorate was responding to them Oni Lee had sprung Lung from imprisonment. The bank robbery had shaken Twilight badly and caused her to suspect that she was in a much darker world than Equestria, but the last week had surpassed that day’s bleakest thoughts by an order of magnitude. Now all her guardsmen lay buried in the rubble behind her and she would never have the chance to make up with them.

Twilight was snapped out of her meandering train of thought by a Sergeant Williams falling roughly to the pavement beside her. Twilight started to reach out with a hoof thinking the Sergeant had maybe tripped when she noticed the expanding pool of blood forming beneath Williams. Hyperventilating, she quickly turned Williams over and screamed as she saw the large cut that traversed the sergeant’s whole neck. Reacting to a feeling deeper than conscious thought she teleported 10 feet away and spun to face where she had been. A man with a neatly trimmed beard was holding a pair of knives and standing over Sergeant Williams’ body, behind him more bodies littered the ground around the trauma tent.

“Ah Ms. Twilight Sparkle. The moment I saw you on TV I just knew I had to introduce myself, extend a personal welcome to earth-bet. Bakuda has done her best, a nice opening act, good enthusiasm but an amateur’s lack of style. A dignitary like yourself deserves the best we have to offer.” He swept one arm out in a flourish and did a half bow. “My name is Jack and I know a little girl who is just dying to meet you.”

Twilight stared at the bodies in horror. Some she had dug out of a bombed out pile of concrete not half an hour past. As Jack continued to talk it seemed like a yawning bottomless pit was opening inside her chest, threatening to pull everything she was inside.

“…In my opinion the best shows all involve audience participation..”

She didn’t understand. She didn’t understand anything anymore. She had dedicated her life to understanding, but she didn’t want to understand this.

“…omising we might consider it an audition. As I mentioned there is a certain little girl I know that would love to have you join our troupe..”

Was this punishment for whatever failure had caused her arrival here? Some unknown level of Tartarus, some dark limbo or nightmare where hope and friends only existed to be snuffed out?

“…Each have chosen their parts in this play…”

From that chasm in her chest a memory floated, a dark crystal, fear, despair, anger.

“….of course they have their own understudies to test….”

Something was slipping inside of her, picking up pieces of herself as it tumbled towards the darkness.

“…Seek help from the PRT or Protectorate I’m afraid there will be penalties…”

A malevolent violet glow started to flicker at the base of her hooves and horn. Twilight’s ears popped as the pressure dropped and a strong breeze started to swirl around the block. High above formally white clouds darkened and grew rapidly. Pieces of rubble and massive chunks of concrete rose into the air and began a slow orbit around the unicorn. Along the ground and against nearby buildings crystalline formations seemed to phase in and out of reality. Jack’s speech slowed down and a curious look overcame his face as Twilight seemed to stare though him, beyond him.

“Are you listeni…”

The avalanche inside her soul knocked loose something vital, chains of self control that Twilight and Princess Celestia had spent so many years carefully crafting since her entrance exam, snapped.

From the sky a brilliant bolt of purple lightning descended and a deafening boom echoed as concrete, cars, and debris were hurled away from the point of impact. The only non anchored thing not moved by the blast was Twilight. Eyes glowing a dark purple and without conscious thought she stood as the dust cleared. Where Jack had been only a pile of shattered amethyst colored crystal remained. Somewhere at the edge of her hearing, a juvenile scream.

Time had no meaning, but at some point a new noise intruded on the scene and Twilight turned her glowing eyes towards a large bipedal machine as it landed about thirty feet from her. A jagged wall of crystals had grown in a rough circle around her. Some unimportant part of her noted rain and a wind strong enough to make her mane snap in it. A vaguely familiar voice came from the machine, incomprehensible, unimportant, annoying. Simmering anger stirred.