• Published 13th Mar 2012
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Inner Glory - Erindor

A utopian society cannot exist without the corpses of the revolutionaries.

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Chapter 29: Retribution

Chapter 29: Retribution

“Of course we can stand against you! Element or not, Harmony will always overcome Dissonance. We have the record to prove it.”

“Do you? Let's think about that for a moment, shall we?” Lustrous looked around the room, still floating from her arcane preparations. “I'm in no rush to get you back to the prison, and the citizens of Moon Pool should have no trouble handling the pesky griffons, now that their leader is out of commission.

Lustrous Revolt coughed, continuing her monologue as Twilight racked her brains for a plan. “You've overpowered a confused and weakened Goddess. Hardly even a challenge. Your life was most in danger by the physical heights between you and her than her works of darkness. You've outsmarted a few dumb animals who were looking at you as breakfast and nothing more. You conquered Discord, which I'll admit is impressive, but his fall was too easy. We've felt his presence in this world; he's still a threat. If anything, I think you helped him. Then there's the changeling army. They were scattered abroad, and I don't think I need remind you that it was not by your hoof. So your 'record' of victories is somewhat laughable.”

Twilight glanced at Gilda, who was stalking around to Lustrous' blind spot. Gilda was moving so slowly Twilight had only now seen it. She had to buy time and keep Lustrous Revolt occupied. “You're forgetting this most recent one.”

Lustrous' arrogant smile dropped in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“I was able to contact the griffons and get them here before the execution.”

“That was you?” Lustrous let out a disbelieving scoff. “Impossible. Their arrival was coincidence.”

Twilight shook her head. “Not impossible. Difficult, yes, but not impossible. I'm certain you've heard of Telepathy?”

“Mental communication, yes. I certainly hope you don't mean to imply you achieved it?”

“Oh, much more than that.” Twilight smiled. Lustrous was on the defense now. “I was able to create a network bigger than any ever recorded.”

“Explain yourself.”

“All in good time. I've listened to you babble, allow me a turn.” It was nice to see Lustrous squirm. And as long as she was squirming, she'd hopefully forget her plans to harm the friends.

Twilight began pacing for dramatic effect, drawing Lustrous' attention away from the encroaching griffon in her peripheral vision. “You see, when the Metaspectre spoke to us in Reality, I realized two things about telepathy. First, telepathy can be focused on an individual, or sent to anypony within range. Secondly, though telepathy is traditionally only achieved by the grandmasters of magic –and even then it requires massive concentration– the Metaspectre seemed to be having absolutely no trouble with it. I thought on that for a while, and realized it must have gone beyond just being a strong magic user.” In truth, the revelation had come when Twilight had reviewed the book on alicorns the night before. A key phrase that changed Twilight's perspective on magic. Revealing it might be foolish, but if the friends didn't get out of here, now, their struggle thus far would be pointless. Twilight took a deep breath and continued.

“The power of magic does not come from the strength of an individual, but a complex chain of relationships. Even the alicorns must draw power from their creations. An individual can only do so much; even the most trained sorcerer has distractions. By contacting a single griffon in the camp, I was able to start a chain reaction, asking each griffon to cry out in prayer. It created a telepathic pulse so powerful that every griffon within a hundred miles heard it. This attack is no accident. It's a rescue mission.”

“Some rescue mission. Their leaders lie dead on the floor.”

“Yet they're not defeated. Out there, the fighting rages on. Their commanders aren't the only thing driving them. Their will to live, to thrive, is greater than any commander's battle cry. They're united in purpose. All my life I've relied on my own power. And I've definitely grown stronger because of it. Yet I've always been my strongest when I'm standing with others. It's why we were able to defeat our foes, despite what you say. And it's exactly why we'll beat you now. You are alone. And trust me, I know what that's like. Not fun. You have your associates in this world, but where are they now? Don't you see? Even if you return us to the prison camp, we've still won. Pinkie's here, which means Pinkamina has given up. Our friendship finally overpowered her. And I hear several other of our reflections are at the tipping point as well. Your plan is crumbling around you.”

Lustrous Revolt snarled in anger. “You wear my patience thin. I stand alone because I am strong enough to do so. I do not weaken myself with friendships because all they do is distract you from your goals and sap precious resources. One day, Twilight Sparkle, sooner than you realize, you will have to make a choice. A choice to save yourself or to save the friends you've relied on so much. We'll see how strong you are then. In the mean time, I wouldn't count on such childish methods to save yourself.”

It took Twilight a moment to realize what her reflection meant. Lustrous whipped around to stare at Gilda, who was poised to pounce onto the imposing and long-winded enemy. “Down kitty. Don't give me an excuse to kill you. Execution's not my thing, but I'll do whatever is necessary to see my plans through.”

Gilda was lifted into the air in a magenta telekinetic aura, placed softly next to Dash. Twilight sighed. Of course Lustrous had noticed. It would have been too easy.

“Now, are you going to march with me back to the prison like good little ponies? I need to clean up this battle and then the blood on my floors.”

“The time for falsities has passed, Revolt.”

Lustrous frowned darkly. “You want me to be direct? Fine.”

She reached out a hoof, eyes glowing with arcane power, an arc of light shooting from the point. Each of the friends bent over in pain as the attack hit them, pure sensation coursing through their bodies. “You need not be conscious for the trip back. If I happen to kill a few of you, so be it.”

Twilight couldn't see straight. The spell was unlike any she'd experienced. It had no purpose but to cause pain in its most basic form. Every nerve was firing at once, and her brain couldn't make sense of it all. She felt herself being overloaded, the darkness around her vision closing in. She couldn't go back to the prison. She couldn't lose now. Most importantly, she couldn't watch her friends get hurt any longer.

But the pain clouded her mind. She couldn't think properly. The spark. The spark of friendship. It had worked with Nightmare Moon. Twilight tried to remember all the hard times the friends had pressed through. The shards of the shattered Element scattered around the room shuddered, but her plea wasn't enough to repair such catastrophic damage. Twilight cringed as another wave of pain racked her body, causing strange and brilliant colors to flash across her field of vision.

A shield. Twilight's magic had been recharged, thanks to the Element's back draft. She tried to throw up a barrier, but it fizzled out before it came into being. Revolt's attack was too strong, and Twilight was simply too disoriented.

Twilight dropped to the ground, her saddlebag spilling off of her as her frenzied mind tried to comprehend her situation. Her friends had already fallen. It was just like her nightmare. They were going to Blink, because of her. Because she wasn't strong enough. Her gaze fell on her toppled saddlebag. The humming crystal from the Metaspectre's altar taunted her with its dark and peaceful void. The end was near, it seemed to say. Twilight slowly closed her eyes in defeat, immersing herself in the exquisite agony. She had failed.


Not this time. The end was near, but not for her.

Sudden clarity flooded Twilight's mind as adrenaline flooded her bloodstream. She jumped to her feet, her instinct-driven body impervious to the deadly arcs tracing her body.

Revolt turned her attention to this new development, confusion and fear overtaking her smug look. “What?! Impossible!”

Twilight couldn't hear her dark double's words. Her thoughts were not intelligent, nor were they civilized. She had given into the most basic of instincts; survival. In one fluid motion she ripped the crystal out of her bag, leaped into the air and pressed it into Lustrous Revolt's attack. The world seemed to hang in a careful balance for a moment, all going silent except for a barely audible 'clink' as the crystalline surface pressed against the terrified pony's hoof.

Then the library exploded.

As did the rest of the town. The crystal collapsed upon its own mass, compacting with a sickening crunch. The massive amounts of energy trapped inside were let out in a single ring of sheer power. Everything caught in its path was vaporized in the glorious aura. Fights-in-progress around the city were frozen then annihilated, griffon and pony slaughtered alike. The heat melted the snow for miles around and instantly incinerated the sparse plant life. A flash brighter than midday blinded the surrounding fauna that was fortunate enough to escape the blast. Then came the fire raining from the heavens, an odd peace settling on the valley.

Far away, a smile lit upon a dark face.


The Metaspectre turned his attention back to Luna. Yes, everything is coming together nicely.

{- - -}

Twilight groaned in confusion. It was snowing, she noticed, as she struggled to lift her eyes open. She stuck out her tongue to catch one of the flakes. In disgust she spit it out immediately. That wasn't snow. It tasted like ash.

Twilight struggled to her hooves, her head swimming and begging her to lay back down. She stood resolutely, forcing her eyes to focus. She blinked a couple of times to assure herself what she was seeing was real. There was not a building in sight. She stood at the center of massive smoldering crater, the platform she and the unconscious Elements were lying on the only untouched ground as far as she could see in the thick smog. The sun tried vainly to illuminate the destruction, but only managed to cast a faint and eerie light over the wasteland. With horror Twilight realized the ash cloud above her was her work. There was an unnatural silence over the land. There was not a sound besides her panicked breathing. She had killed. Not just Lustrous Revolt. Not just her captors. Every. Living. Soul.

She ran over to her friends, ignoring her own pain. Each was breathing, she saw with relief. But all had burns tainting their coats. Spike and Gilda fared a little better in that department, though they were just as unconscious as the rest.

Twilight fell to her haunches, her chest heaving. She didn't know what to feel. Her friends were safe. But at the cost of an entire city. At the cost of her allies come to save her. At the cost of transforming her into a mass-murderer.

Before, she hadn't known if she were strong enough to save her friends. Now she knew she wasn't. She sobbed in terror in the calm of the storm, a wind far above powered by remnant energy driving even more ash into the air, blotting the sun out completely. The world went dark.

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