• Published 4th Jan 2014
  • 6,586 Views, 448 Comments

Our Voices Carry Through The Hills - Surry



Twilight wakes up to find that she has lost her voice completely, and even worse, her magic. All the while, Ponyville is being absolutely annihilated by a unicorn that looks exactly like her.

  • ...
25
 448
 6,586

As My World Crumbles


"Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them."
-Nathaniel Hawthorne

As My World Crumbles


Thump!

A small tremor in the earth violently shook the foundation of the library, abruptly stirring Twilight awake.

Her eyes fluttered open irritably, still not quite fully rested, as she caught rays of the orange morning sun flooding her bedroom. She hugged the blankets around her even tighter and looked over at the clock on the wall. It was 10:37.

What the heck was that?

She couldn’t understand how it was so late in the morning, yet she still felt so tired. Sleeping in definitely wasn’t one of her daily habits.

Lazily, she leaned up and glanced over at the smaller bed across from her own. Empty.

I wonder where Spike is. There’s no way he would’ve let me sleep in this long.

She was about to call out for him, until she decided against it using her better judgement. A bit frustrated at herself, she slammed her head back down into the pillow and stared at the wall in front of her.

Why do I feel so tired too? I even went to bed early last night.

Not wanting to bother with her thoughts any further, her eyes gradually began to close once more. Silence again filled the room, save for the sound of the ticking clock.

Thump!

Her window frame loudly rattled this time, startling her from her light snooze. She nearly fell off the bed from the sudden quake, as it caused the entirety of her room to violently jostle around.

Sensing that something was not right, she threw off the covers and slackly arose from her bed. Her legs felt somewhat wobbily beneath her, but she managed to find the strength to get up and walk to her door. An immediate dizziness hit her hard, and she paused for a moment to regain her composure.

Ugh…What in Equestria could possibly be shaking the library like that? And why am I so disoriented? Maybe… Spike knows? Yeah, that’s it. I’ll ask Spike what’s going on.

When she came upon the door she tried surrounding it within her magic… but her horn remained unresponsive. She scrunched her eyes together, trying to focus all of her concentration on just removing this one obstacle.

However, it remained firmly shut.

As she failed time after time to open the door, she became increasingly distraught. This day was already off to an absolutely horrible start. Embittered at her defeat, she forcefully pushed the door open herself.

With uncertainty now running through her mind, she approached the staircase and tried calling out to Spike, but what came out of her mouth instead sounded like the squeak of a dying mouse.

She tried to call out again, but ended up only silently mouthing his name… ‘Spike’.

With even more tension building within her than before, Twilight took in a deep breath and tried to scream as loud as she possibly could… and yet, she could just barely make the tiniest of squeaks with what remained of her non-existent voice.

She began to hyperventilate frantically. Panic started to set in. Something was terribly wrong with her and she had to act now. She rushed down the staircase in a great hurry as her adrenaline started pumping.

Why is this happening? Why can’t I speak?! Why can’t I use my magic?!! This has to be some kind of nightmare!!

When she reached the ground floor her eyes began to dart around the large room, looking for her little dragon assistant... but he was nowhere to be found. She stopped for a moment, letting the past few events sink in. None of this was making any sense at all, and confusion began to claw at her rapidly diminishing sense of hope.

NO! This is not the time to panic! I just need to find my friends and tell them what’s going on! But wait a second… how do I tell them?

Her gaze averted to the front door.

It doesn’t matter! I have to get somepony’s help! NOW!

She galloped across the library as fast as she possibly could. As much as she tried not to panic, her worry kept itching at the back of her head like some overgrown tick. The tension was making her sweat. It wasn’t so much the fact that couldn’t speak or use magic that bothered her, but that there was no explanation at all. How was she supposed to fix her problems if she didn’t know what caused them in the first place?

I could always try a book, but what’s the point if I can’t cast any spells?!

She finally reached the door and shoved it open with a great thrust. Still tired from before, she stumbled out onto the grassy lawn in front of her home awkwardly.

Suddenly, this terrible smell assaulted her nose.

It was the smell of something burning.

Trying to focus her eyes on what was going around her, she became aware of some faint distant screaming, far off in the background. When she looked up, she immediately saw the cause.

Immense pillars of smoke, reaching high up to the heavens, clouded the skies above Ponyville, quite nearly threatening to blot out the sun.

No! What’s going on--

Thump!

Twilight felt the impact in her chest immediately. A heavy pulse of hot air hit her with devastating force, causing her to fall helplessly onto her back.

Large tree branches hanging over her lurched side to side from the sudden shockwave as a bright purple plume accompanied by equally blinding violet flames erupted upwards just a few blocks away. The flames gradually turned to smoke, and funneled upwards into a neatly symmetrical mushroom cloud… directly over the heart of Ponyville.

“AAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaahhh!!!” A mare’s distant scream wracked Twilight’s ears fiercely.

She slowly staggered to her knees, trying to shake off some dust on her back. Her vision swirled and doubled, making it take even longer for her to focus.

She could only be sure in one thing at this point… Ponyville was being attacked, and it was her sworn duty to help.

This can’t be happening! This has got be some kind of nightmare! I'm sure of it now!

She got to her feet, and suddenly felt a sharp crippling pain in her chest.

“Hhhhuhhhhh…” she desperately gasped at the intense cramping in her sternum.

That last shockwave had definitely hurt, and the pain had only been amplified by her still fatigued body. It was like somepony had sucked the life right out of her.

She nearly collapsed, right then and there, but she had to help. Her benevolent nature simply would not let her quit. Her eyes teared up from the agony in her chest.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaahhh!!!” Yet another terrible shriek plagued her ears.

This pain was becoming too extreme, but the sight of her hometown burning, the distant screams, the loss of her voice, the loss of her magic… it all forced her back to her feet, despite her body’s agonizing protests.

She slowly began to stumble awkwardly towards the sound of destruction, with the smell of smoke still looming heavily in the air. Tears fell freely from her face now as she perilously fought against the pain inside of her. She had to help at any cost and fight the invading forces.

Is it a dragon? That’s the only thing that could make flames that high. Oh no! What if it’s Spike going on a rampage again?! But… that wouldn’t make sense. That’s not the color of fire he breathes. Is it another dragon?! Why would they be attacking now?! Maybe it’s Discord? No that couldn’t be it either. His actions aren’t usually so violent and destructive.

Twilight finally reached the side of a home and leaned her full weight against it, allowing herself a moment to let the pain in her chest recede.

THUMP!
FWOOSH!

Another dense heated airburst collided with the side of the building, coinciding with the sound of even more ear-piercing screams.

Her mane was blown clear behind her head, as the hot air rushed by her weakened frame and continued on down the road. She briefly retreated, using the house as a shield from the explosive force, and when she looked above her she saw only the dark clouds of black ash rising even further, signaling yet even more senseless destruction. The home beside her felt as though its entire foundation swayed heavily underground, gently pushing back against her.

What could possibly be doing that?!

A sudden cry of ponies in peril started to advance upon her. She needed help more than ever right now, and this might be her only chance to seize it. With great difficulty she stumbled away from the house and attempted to wave at the distraught group approaching her.

“We have to evacuate now!!” shouted a male unicorn to another.

“But where will we go?! What if she follows us?!” his companion replied.

She?... Who’s she?

A female earth pony tailing close behind them suddenly stopped. “NO!!” she cried.

Her companions halted as well, looking to see what had so deeply frightened her. Her lower jaw dropped agape in sheer terror as she pointed a hoof offensively at Twilight.

“IT’S HER!!!! RUUUUUUNNN!!!!”

The mare’s screams cut through Twilight’s ears harshly, causing her to reel back in utter shock.

What?!! Me?!!! Why?!!! What did I do?!!

One of the unicorns started running off down another street. “C’MON!! THIS WAY!! BEFORE SHE KILLS US!!” he yelled.

Taking his lead the other two ponies frantically followed, galloping as quickly as their legs would allow. Twilight saw only fear in their eyes as they ran, no offering of help, no longer any comradery between her fellow ponies, no anything.

Kill them? Why would I ever kill any of them? I love everypony in this town… and I thought they loved me. I would never do anything to hurt any of them.

With tears still trickling down, she continued her slow laborious trek to the center of town. Each step was growing more and more difficult as she trudged down the dirt road. A scream could be heard now and again, but it was gradually dying off. The explosions and fire however kept plaguing her senses relentlessly.

A cascading wave of purple flames erupted here, a godlike surge tore through the earth there. Surely there was no being other than a dragon who could do such a thing. But if that was the case, then why would the other ponies be so afraid of Twilight’s presence? Nothing made sense to her anymore.

The streets were becoming increasingly barren and loud as everypony in town hurriedly channeled themselves out of the path of destruction, while the quakes continued to rattle buildings.

Fighting through the awful sounds and tremors, and after several agonizing minutes, Twilight found herself only a block away from the epicenter. Homes drenched in violet flames swarmed like dying flies around her, making every deep gulp of air hot and dehydrating. She could feel her mouth painfully drying out as she treaded over singed and tattered piles of splintered wood and broken rubble.

It was like walking into an oven… but this was supposed to be her home.

THUMP!
FWOOOSH!!!

The familiar wall of heated air impacted directly into her chest, nearly sending her to her knees. But she braced herself this time, and stood firm. A once quaint home just a block away imploded in on itself, shooting forth another bright spherical cloud of flame and smoke, pluming furiously skyward. The structure noisily collapsed into a great tumultuous heap, filling the nearby streets with more falling ashes.

Where did that blast come from? I don’t see what could’ve made it.

Twilight propped herself over a pile of twisted rubble, desperately searching around for the cause of this utter hell. She scanned the rooftops and the streets around her, but still came up with nothing. It seemed as if whoever was causing this could be in two places at once. Either that, or they could just simply move incredibly fast.

This is a nightmare.

Twilight could feel her mind faintly starting to slip. The twisting fire wrapping around the landscape was sapping her strength even further.

And then… it hit her from where she least expected.

THUMP!
CRAAAASH!!

The erupting flames fiercely slammed into her side like a freight train, absolutely crushing her body.

She toppled over like a domino, forcefully impacting with the dirt road as fire, dust, and debris broke over her like energetic ocean waves, heavily shrouding the surrounding air. Her eardrums nearly burst from the unbearably loud blast.

It took a few seconds for the last of the building’s thrown about pieces to settle down, and the smog ever so slowly began to lift and recede.

Twilight limply picked up her dirt covered cheek off of the ground. She could not see anything going on around her, but decided to brave the storm, and get up anyway. Her sternum wilted unevenly as she pushed up off her bruised front legs. Every muscle in her body screamed at her to stop, but she continued to push. Tiredly, she came to a seated position and patiently waited for the dust to dissipate… but then she heard something else.

It was the sound of footsteps, light footsteps… and they were approaching her quite calmly through the cloud of dust.

Who’s there? A pony?

The footsteps continued to advance and Twilight looked in the direction they emanated. Suddenly, the footsteps just stopped.

She couldn’t quite make out who was there, but the dark silhouette against the dusty violet background was certainly pony sized.

“Hmmm… another victim?” said the shrouded figure.

Wait!! That voice! IT’S MINE!!!

CLAP!

A strong burst of wind abruptly and forcefully blew away the dusty cloud plaguing the surrounding atmosphere.

Twilight’s jaw dropped. She simply could not comprehend who she was looking at. She had wondered why Spike would just leave her at home, why her friends hadn’t come to see her, and why the other ponies ran in fear just at the sight of her.

But it did make sense now. It was like looking into a mirror, for the pony that stood in front of her… was her exact copy, her absolute doppelganger.

No… it can’t be! It’s… me?!

Her clone looked quite shocked to see her as well.

“WHAT?! How are you even able to move?! You should still be asleep right now!!” her double shouted angrily.

Twilight simply retreated back in fright, not able to say a word. It was so odd hearing her voice come from somepony else, somepony who was hostile.

Her copy smirked devilishly. “Oh yes, I forgot… you can’t speak. You know, I almost forgot to thank you for that, and for this power anyway. Not that I needed it though. To be quite honest, I thought you’d be too drained to get up for weeks. Hahahahahaha!”

Who is this?! A changeling? I thought they fed off of love though?! What love is there in completely destroying Ponyville?!

Twilight clumsily staggered to her feet, angrily preparing to fight her doppelganger with every ounce of willpower she could muster.

“Now now now… do you really think that’s a good idea, Ms. Sparkle?” her copy asked tauntingly.

I DON’T CARE! I’M GOING TO STOP YOU!

Twilight closed her eyes and began concentrating, forcefully gritting her teeth and trying to conduct within her horn any residual power lying dormant within her body. The tip of her horn weakly flared up with a small violet spark, but it would not grow. With her body sweating profusely due to overexertion, the faint light started to waver.

“Well, I’m impressed,” her clone commented, “I didn’t think you had it in you, Ms. Sparkle. But, just like always you exceed everyponys’ expectations. Even when I thought I took away everything from you, you give me more.”

SHUT UP!!!

Her horn sputtered, faltering under her extreme stress. It took only a few moments, but her spark slowly glinted out of existence and was finally extinguished. She released her hold and desperately gasped for air. With sweat and tears languorously falling to the ground below, Twilight knew her body was about to give out on her.

“I want you to see something, Ms. Sparkle. Observe.”

The clone calmly pointed her horn at an untouched home off in the distance.

Wait, what’s she doing?!

Her horn, her weapon of choice, suddenly surged to life with a great swelling of crackling and swiveling electricity. Violet flames poured freely out of the corners of her eyes and down her cheeks in curtailing twisting wisps. A tight sphere of densely concentrated violet energy began to form at the tip of her horn.

Twilight saw her true intent and panicked, trying in vain to lunge at her, anything to stop her… but it was too late.

NO!! DON’T DO IT!!!

SHHOOOOOOM!!

Her clone could not hear her silent pleas, and fired her blast of heavily compacted hot energy like some explosive cannon.

The beam traveled swiftly across Ponyville in the blink of an eye, and violently collided with its target. Like an immense bolt of lightning, it tore through walls, wood, glass, and stone as if they just weren’t there. Blazing a path of utter carnage, the beam disintegrated the front surface of the house, proceeded to atomize the central structure, and plowed through clear to the other side.

With everything completely burned away and turned to ashes, the debris cloud promptly lifted, and there stood now only an empty space where the home used to be.

Twilight weakly tackled her adversary, sending them both tumbling onto the dirt road amidst piles of cooking rubble. They tussled and fought angrily, with neither of them quite being able to take an advantage.

Just when Twilight was about to get some leeway over her clone, she suddenly teleported away through a loud flash of lightning right out of her clutches.

More tired than ever after their little wrestling match, Twilight laid sprawled out on her back hopelessly, in a fruitless attempt to catch her breath. The violet flames and sound of collapsing buildings haunted her mind once more.

Where did she go? More importantly, where are my friends? I hope she didn’t hurt them. What would they think? Would they really believe that I caused all of this?

Her breathing slowed considerably as she felt herself on the precipice of passing out. Her eyes were shutting, almost fully closed… when she felt her presence again. She snapped back to reality, staring at the familiar face hovering over her. There were so many things she wanted to scream at her reversed reflection, but then again, how could she? This was the pony who stole her voice, stole her magic, stole her home, and possibly stole her friends.

The only thing she could do now was glare at her coldly, and grit her teeth.

“Aww…why the long face Ms. Sparkle? Oh, by the way, I just love using your voice to scare other ponies. It’s soooo priceless.”

Just shut up and get this over with already.

“I bet I know what you’re thinking too! Who am I? Is that what you want to know?”

Twilight kept bearing her hostile scowl as her doppelganger oppositely smiled with glee.

“Well, as far as the ponies in this town are concerned, I am you. You should’ve heard their screams! ‘Twilight’s gone crazy’ this and ‘Twilight’s destroying Ponyville’ that! HAHAHAHA!... As I said before, priceless.”

In her already defeated state, Twilight couldn’t bear to hear that everypony now thought she was insane. Her heart caved in on itself, her whole world was falling apart right before her eyes, and she couldn’t help herself from crying even more.

No… it can’t be true… it just can’t be!

Her previously adverse expression turned to one of utter distraught, grief, and finally pain. She began to sob and whine to herself silently in words that only she could hear, staring in destitute up at her own reflection and the colossal tower of smoke and ash reaching ever higher into the sky.

“Oh, and one more thing before I send you to your doom. I just wanted you to know that I won’t stop here. No, in fact I’m not going to stop until you’re the most hated pony in Equestria and everypony knows true pain!! HAHAHAHA!”

Threateningly, her clone aimed her horn right at the center of Twilight’s forehead. The familiar sound of magical buildup made Twilight’s eyes widen in terror. Electricity crackled in the air as she poured more heated multi-colored energy into her spell.

NO!! PLEASE DON’T!!

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to kill you Ms. Sparkle, but when I get through with Equestria, you’ll certainly wish I had. Now… I suggest that this time you don’t come back, for your own good.”

The impostor suddenly whipped her head around in a full circle, and without any hesitation unleashed her spell upon the poor unicorn beneath her. The swirling purplish-magenta aura engulfed Twilight’s still struggling body.

Fully encased in a rapidly twisting cocoon of hot energy, she found herself falling out of reality and into a space where only the whitest of lights existed.

She knew this feeling all too well, she was teleporting… but this time against her will and to a location she did not know.

FWOOSH!

After her impostor’s magic stopped flowing, the spot where Twilight lay just seconds ago was now a smoldering crater. Now with her one obstacle out of the way, she could continue flattening Ponyville to the ground.


Rainbow Dash flapped her wings again even more forcefully, nearly reaching her maximum velocity. She had to find her friends at all costs, and surely they would have all evacuated Ponyville by now. Was this really happening? Was one of her best friends really destroying her home?

“Why is she doing this?! It’s like she’s gone crazy or something!” she cried to herself.

As much as she would’ve liked to stay and fight, the safety of her friends was priority number one. She rapidly approached the nearest place outside of Ponyville’s walls where they might still be able to hide, Sweet Apple Acres.

Tucked away in the rolling hills, just far enough from the sounds of screams and the columns of smoke, she desperately hoped this place would offer refuge and she would find at least Applejack and the rest of her family. As she made her descent on the farm, Rainbow could definitely tell there was somepony working the fields this morning. Not wasting any time, she swooped down and hastily applied the brakes, greatly reducing her speed and allowing her to come to a calm collected stop right outside the farm’s trademark red barn.

She galloped the remaining distance to the front of the building and came to an abrupt stop. It struck Rainbow as being odd that the right front door was left so wide open. Usually it’s kept completely closed off, or maybe just slightly so, to air out the interior. Carefully she peeked her head inside, looking around for any signs of life.

“Psst! Rainbow, over here,” came a faint voice.

She turned to see three large bales of hay placed inconspicuously near the back of the barn, and saw a familiar orange hoof signaling for her to come on over.

“Applejack!” she yelled.

Angrily, her friend stuck her head out and glared at her.

“Would ya pleeease be quiet?! We’re trying to hide over here…” she harshly whispered.

Rainbow cautiously made her way inside, attempting to obey her friend’s order as best as she could. Silence hung in the air, save for the sound of her quiet footsteps.

“Is it only you in here, AJ?” she softly replied.

“Not exactly,” she added.

Rainbow glanced behind the bales and was deeply relieved to see both Pinkie Pie and Applejack huddled together, still okay and well.

“How are you holdin’ up Dash?” Applejack asked.

Before she could even respond, Pinkie without warning hopped up and wrapped around her friend in a tight, sorrowful hug. Somewhat startled, but nonetheless happy to see her, Rainbow reciprocated with a hug of her own.

“Umm… hey Pinkie. Are you alright?” she asked.

Her unusually quiet friend began to weep over her shoulder. Never before had Pinkie felt so helpless and unable to help anyone. The screams of her fellow townsfolk absolutely crushed her fragile soul. No amount of humor could ever be found in her current situation, which is what she futilely clanged to in moments like these.

She sobbed ever so softly. “T-twilight… destroyed… ‘sniff’… Sugarcube Corner. It’s just… gone.”

Rainbow felt a strange aching in her chest, so deeply saddened by her friend’s loss. She was sincerely grateful that her own home lied outside of Ponyville’s perimeter, and silently mourned for the loss of everypony who actually did live there.

“I’m sorry, Pinkie,” she quietly responded, “We’ll fix this, don’t worry.”

“’Sniff’… okay. If you say so,” Pinkie whispered.

They calmly separated and sat down behind their hiding place in a semi-circle.

“So, can I ask why you left the barn door wide open?” asked Rainbow.

Applejack itched the back of her head. “Well, in case Twilight shows up, I figured it’d be best to make it look like no pony’s in here. If I shut the doors then it might look kinda obvious where we’re hiding.”

“I hate to burst your bubble, but Twilight seems to be destroying buildings pretty indiscriminately,” she retorted.

Applejack felt her blood boil. “Indiscriminately?! Why is she blowing up any buildings at all?! She’s supposed to be our friend, and now she’s turned into some loco-pony maniac!”

“But… why?" Pinkie asked through teary eyes, "That’s what I want to know.”

“Whoa whoa, first things first,” Rainbow interrupted, “I know we all want to figure out why Twilight’s doing this, but we have to get everypony to safety.”

Applejack lifted her head higher. “You’re right… we have to get those fancy pants Royal Guards to come to Ponyville, STAT!”

Rainbow nodded back towards the entrance. “We might not have to get them, AJ. Did you see that huge cloud of smoke? Ponyville looks like the top of a volcano for pete’s sake. I have no doubt that everypony in Canterlot has already seen that we need help.”

“Wait a second,” Pinkie uttered, “What if she goes to Canterlot? What if she tries to hurt everypony there?”

“With Princess Celestia and Princess Luna there? How could she?” Rainbow asked rhetorically.

Suddenly an idea came to Applejack. “That’s it! The princesses! Maybe they can figure out why Twilight’s gone all crazy-like on us!”

Her two friends sat silently for a minute, considering their options. Usually the three of them were part of Equestria’s first line of defense against any attack… but that was when they had Twilight on their side. Without her they really had no choice but to get the help of the princesses. What were they supposed to do when their greatest ally was now their enemy?

“It’s a good point,” said Rainbow, “But how exactly do you plan on getting there?”

“What about the train?” chimed in Pinkie.

“Fat chance. No train’s going to stop in Ponyville if there is no Ponyville to stop at,” she replied bluntly.

Applejack let out a lengthy sigh and mustered some courage. “Then we’ll just have to run,” she surmised.

“Run?! B-but… that’ll take forever!” Rainbow yelled.

“I think you’re forgetting, Rainbow, that Pinkie and I are both earth ponies. Running is what we do. Unless… you want to go to Canterlot yourself?”

“N-no… I can’t,” she muttered glumly.

Applejack was a bit troubled by her odd response. “What do you mean? You are the fastest out of any of us. You could make it there by the end of the day, easy.”

“I know, I know. It’s just… I don’t know... I want to talk to her,” she replied hesitantly.

Pinkie stood up uneasily. “Twilight?! She’ll blast you to smithereens! Please, you can't be serious Rainbow!”

“That’s just it though Pinkie. I’m too fast for her. She won’t be able to hit me at all, at least I think. Besides, maybe I can get through to her somehow, like... snap her out of it or something.”

“And what if you can’t?!” Applejack yelled.

Rainbow retreated aback at her sudden outburst, knowing in her heart as though that was not a decent enough answer.

“I-I’m sorry AJ, but I’ve gotta try. It’s the least I can do. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but—“

“No,” Applejack abruptly cut her off, “I’m sorry Rainbow. I… I didn’t mean to snap at you. I’m just under a lot of pressure right now. That… and I don’t want to lose another one of my best friends.”

Seeing her eyes start to well up, Rainbow placed a reassuring hoof on her friend’s shoulder.

“It’s alright AJ, but I really have to know what’s going through Twilight’s head right now. If there’s even a slight chance I can change her back to normal old Twilight, I swear I’m going to find it.”

Filling with a new sense of hope, Applejack smiled warmly at her pegasus friend.

“You’d better. Cuz I’m gonna be real sore if I have to come back here and get ya myself,” she replied jokingly.

“Ha, don’t sweat it,” Rainbow brushed off her comment with a laugh.

It took her a moment to realize it, but Pinkie Pie still remained unconvinced. She couldn’t help but weakly sniffle and cry at the thought of her closest friend going to confront Twilight by herself. She desperately wanted to help her, but what good would she do?

She began to softly whisper through her tears. “P-please don’t go, Rainbow. Don’t face mean old Twilight. Don’t be a hero this time. Just come with us to see Princess Celestia. Pretty, pretty please.”

Her concerned words weighed down heavily on Rainbow’s heart. This time, in an extraordinary show of tenderness, she was the one to give her the first hug. All Rainbow wanted was to have everything go back to normal, and she decided that she would start with her surprisingly distraught friend.

Pinkie had often wondered what it would take for Dash to give her any sincere sign of affection, considering that most of the time she just avoided her. Pinkie knew now that the only thing that would make her seek the absolute comfort of her friends… was the moment she lost one of them.

“I’m sorry Pinkie, but I have to see her for myself. If only to make sure that she’s really turned against us. Otherwise, I’m going to hold onto a sliver of hope.”

“And if she’s changed for good?” Pinkie asked softly.

“Then I’ll be right behind you.”

“Pinkie Promise?”

“Yeah, I Pinkie Promise.”

“Stick a cupcake in your eye?”

“Heheh, yeah. Stick a cupcake in my eye.”

Now, with both of them smiling, they calmly broke their gentle embrace. Rainbow wasn’t exactly showing it, but she was horrified about confronting Twilight. The only thing keeping her from saying so was the fact that she didn’t want her friends to lose hope. If anything, she would want them to be brave and go on without her should she fail.

“Where’s the rest of your family, AJ?” Rainbow asked.

“I told Big Macintosh to take Applebloom and Granny Smith as far west of here as possible. Sure they objected at first, but I told all of em that I had to stay and fix this mess. Twilight was my friend after all, and she’s my responsibility as such.”

“S-speaking of friends…” said Pinkie. “Have either of you seen Rarity or Fluttershy?”

“Not today, sugarcube,” Applejack replied gloomily.

Rainbow shrugged her shoulders. “Sorry Pinkie, but they both live on the opposite side of town. I couldn’t risk going there first.”

“Well, can we please find them before we go Applejack?” Pinkie asked.

“Of course, although they probably ran out of here as fast as their darn legs could carry em’… or wings.”

“Then it’s settled,” Rainbow announced, “You guys go find them and start heading for Canterlot to ask for the princesses' help, and I’ll go have a little ‘chat’ with Twilight.”

Casually, she stood up and made her way for the door, trying to appear as confident as possible. If she should show the slightest sign of fear then her friends would surely be upset as well. She only made it about halfway when she felt Pinkie’s familiar embrace around her neck one more time, stopping her in her tracks.

“Remember, you Pinkie Promised.” she said quietly.

Rainbow sighed. “I know, I know. Don’t worry about it, I’ll be fine.”

Still not entirely satisfied, her friend reluctantly let her go.

The sunlight broke dimly through the dark hanging clouds, down unto Rainbow’s face as she opened the other heavy barn door. She stepped out onto the grass and prepared for takeoff while her friends remained close behind, wishing she didn’t have to go on her dangerous mission... but nothing they could say was going to stop her now.

“Dash,” called Applejack.

Rainbow glanced back at her. “Yeah?”

“Bring our friend back,” she ordered.

Rainbow smiled in return. “I’ll try, AJ. I’ll try.”

Glad to have the last words of encouragement, she turned back to face the ash plume hanging high over Ponyville. She dug in her back hooves and pushed off of them while simultaneously thrusting her wings downward. With a powerful flap, she became airborne and quickly ascended.

After only a few seconds she appeared to them like a bird, flying off into the distance for the ravaged town they all called home.

Already missing her friend, Applejack removed her hat and placed it against her chest.

“I hope she knows what she’s doing,” she told Pinkie.

More tears started to well up in her friend’s eyes. “Well, she is Rainbow Dash. If anypony will come through for us, it’s just got to be her.”


With raging fire blanketing half the town, Ponyville had been nearly wiped completely off the map.

Most buildings lay in tattered crumpled heaps of their former selves. The sound of twisting flames and crackling wood filled the air. The streets remained barren except for an occasional pile of wreckage here and there. The sky had been virtually blacked out by the colossal plumage of smoke, shrouding the city underneath in near darkness.

Rainbow stayed low beneath the cloud layer so she could see where she was headed. Before long a twinkling of a flashing purple light caught her attention. The flashes traveled from to rooftop to rooftop instantaneously. Rainbow had a hard time making out the culprit, but she could make a pretty good guess of who was causing the display.

She descended furiously upon the town.

“Maybe I can catch her off guard,” she said to herself.

The flashing light continued to progress towards her direction until coming to a stop on top of one lonesome house. Rainbow knew this was her target as she proceeded to slow down, not wanting to startle the unicorn who had just winked out of a teleportation spell.

“Twilight!!!” Rainbow yelled angrily.

The unicorn spooked and scanned the area for what made the sudden noise. It took her a second to realize the pegasus hovering right behind her. She turned around slowly with a calm indifference.

“Twilight! What are you doing?! This is ridiculous!!! Don’t you see what you’re doing here?!!” Rainbow shouted.

“HAHAHAHA!!” she replied maniacally, “Like I care… everypony must pay for what they did to me!!!”

“What did they ever do to you Twilight?!! These are innocent ponies you’re hurting!!”

“Innocent is a very strong word,” the unicorn bluntly stated.

“C’mon Twilight! What’s wrong with you?! It’s me, Rainbow Dash!! Your best friend!!” she yelled louder.

The unicorn prepared to fire a magical spell at her, as her horn began to flare up with fiery power. She smirked in a quite twisted way.

“I don’t need friends anymore. Goodbye Rainbow!!!” she cried.

She fired her unbelievably wicked blast straight at the pegasus, making the surrounding air sizzle under the intense heat. The violet beam approached rapidly, but with Rainbow’s quick thinking she simply nosedived and the unicorn’s attack connected with nothing. While she was plummeting to earth, Twilight fiercely launched a rapid succession of hot energy bursts at her direction, but with subtle alterations to her flight characteristics, the attacks easily breezed by and Rainbow remained unscathed.

She pulled up and ascended sharply once more.

Surprised that Rainbow had avoided every one of her shots, Twilight fell back onto her bottom, as Rainbow landed on the rooftop and madly advanced upon her.

“No more games Twilight!!!” she yelled.

The unicorn fell even further onto her back, as Rainbow was nearly on top of her now.

“W-wait, Rainbow!!” she stammered frightfully.

Her friend obeyed for a second, eager to hear what she had to say.

“I-it’s me, the old Twilight! I swear! Please listen to me!” she frantically pleaded.

“Is… is it really you… Twilight?” Rainbow’s hopes were starting to lift. This was exactly the response she wanted to hear out of her. Maybe things really could go back to normal, just like she had planned.

“Yes, it’s me,” Twilight’s smile began to turn into a grimace, “You idiot.”

Her horn flared brightly and Twilight promptly fired a violet halo shaped blast which latched around Rainbow’s neck like a dog collar.

Feeling herself suddenly choking, she reeled away from the unicorn in immense pain. This time, Rainbow fell onto her back, trying to scream as loud as she could, but only garbled sounds escaped.

“You… tricked… me…” she somehow managed to squeeze the words out of her lungs.

“Well yes,” agreed Twilight, “You were pretty gullible too. It’s unfortunate that it had to be this way between us Rainbow. You could’ve just left and went on your merry way… but no. You had to come back for some self-righteous reason because you think you’re better than everypony else. Well, would you like to know what I think would bring you down to size? C’mon, I want to hear your guess.”

Rainbow remained motionless. Tears began to stream down her face as she felt her breath fading away. Was her friend really that far gone? Even threatening her now?

“Aww, I thought you’d at least try to guess. But whatever… it’s your wings. I just don’t think you need them anymore. How about you?”

“No…” Rainbow weakly choked against Twilight’s magical grip.

The unicorn deviously grinned in delight and fired yet another wicked spell at her.

The magic vortex spiraled around her body vigorously and she could tell she was already losing the feeling in her wings. Twilight commanded the spell to stop, causing the swirling energy to dissipate, and when Rainbow fell once again onto the roof her wings hung limply at her back. She struggled in vain to move them even an inch, but they would not budge.

“Excellent, now you can’t fly away like the pest you are. Oh, but I almost forgot! I can’t leave you here in Ponyville. There’s just too much destruction and well, you know how bad that is. So, instead what I’m going to do with you is send you very far away! How does that sound?” Twilight asked cheerfully.

Rainbow continued to choke on her collar, struggling with every bit of drive she had left. Meanwhile, Twilight carelessly wrapped her up in a sphere of fluctuating energy.

“I’m not going to teleport you away, Rainbow. No, that would take all the fun out of it. I think it would be much more entertaining for everypony if I just threw you like a big ball!!”

Her screams were even more muffled inside the rotating sphere as Twilight consciously let her rise up into the sky. Once she had seen true terror in Rainbow’s eyes, she flicked her horn aggressively, and simply sent the huge ball of magic flying away at blazing speeds.

FOOOOOMM!

Trapped helplessly and still choking, Rainbow began to lose consciousness as she traveled past Ponyville’s city limits, past surrounding forests, and over distant hills.

“This… can’t… be… happening…” she mumbled breathlessly inside of her prison. With only a few seconds of alertness left, she started to lose what little remaining hope she had clung to.

“I… guess… she really… did… change.”


The furiously burning shell surrounding Twilight commenced to break away as she finished teleporting. The support underneath her back released and she plummeted to the mossy ground below.

Following the abrupt impact, she let her situation slowly sink in. Somepony was making everyone think that she was the one destroying Ponyville, she never found any of her friends, not even Spike, and now the one who had ruined her life roamed free and sent her away to face her doom. Perfect.

Now I know how Princess Cadence felt on her wedding day. Although, this is much worse. She, or it, is actually physically hurting other ponies this time. But why…?

Twilight pushed herself up anemically, trying to gauge her new location. She was in some kind of forest, densely packed with tall trees. Sunlight broke through the top canopy layer, letting bright pockets shine down here and there. She could faintly hear a stream of water running in the background.

Wherever she was, it was certainly more peaceful than Ponyville right now.

I have to find out where I am. I have to get moving, though it probably doesn’t really matter anymore.

She staggered to her unstable legs, and began to walk. She decided it would best to follow the sounds of the stream, for it could possibly lead her to a larger body of water. Her number one priority was figuring out where she was.

An hour or so passed and her legs were becoming increasingly weak, but she kept on fighting past the pain, surging on ahead, confident that her goal was near.

There’s gotta be something at the end of the stream. Where else would it go?

After another half hour passed, she finally saw a clearing of trees off in the distance. If she could’ve laughed, she would have at the sight. There it was, in all its glory… a serene lake.

Being the intelligent unicorn she was, she deduced that at the clearing she would be able to determine a landmark to help her find her way, whether it be some mountain, Cloudsdale off in the far sky, or even worse still, possibly the cloud of smoke over Ponyville. And yet, she would take any help she could get at this point.

She passed the tree line and nearly collapsed from exhaustion, but the beautiful sight lifted her spirits. The stream ended at the edge of the forest, into the vast expanse of the deeply blue lake. Twilight had never been here before in her life. She was obviously far away from home. There were some mountains miles and miles away… but that was it. Cloudsdale was nowhere to be seen, in fact there were no clouds at all. The sky all around her remained completely desolate, yet sunny.

No. How can this be?! I’m totally lost?! Where did she send me?! Some random place?!

With her hope receding again, she collapsed onto her front legs and started to sob quietly. The stagnant surface of the lake provided an equally silent background, although the stillness of the air offered her little comfort.

What am I going to do?

BOOOOM!

Twilight shook herself out of her daze. That sound was all too familiar, but she wondered how it could be all the way out here.

She looked back up to the sky through her tears and saw a massive orb of hot energy crashing towards the earth. It passed far over the trees and then suddenly winked out of existence, however, there was something inside that fell out. A smaller object that was contained within the orb dove towards the center of the lake with extreme speed.

Twilight squinted her eyes and came to a horrible conclusion. The object… was actually a pony, and it looked like it was unresponsive.

She felt a knot form in her chest seeing the pony descend so rapidly. If the pony was unconscious then it would surely drown. Knowing this, Twilight jumped into the stagnant indigo colored water as the meteoric pony collided heavily with the cement-like surface of the lake, sending a large wave rippling across it.

She waded helplessly out towards the center, requiring every last bit of strength she had to stay afloat. Luckily the unconscious pony had crashed going towards her direction and was already moving her way.

When Twilight nearly reached her, she dove down underneath and clumsily placed the pony’s weight on her back.

The sudden realization hit her heart abruptly, as she finally saw who it was… Rainbow Dash.

Her dear friend had dark bruises along her frame and a deep red ring around her neck as if she had been strangled. Her breathing was faint and Twilight knew she would have to work fast. She paddled and paddled harder with each lengthy stroke, getting slowly closer to shore each time. With Rainbow’s weight placed over her back, this was becoming exceedingly stressful on her body, but at the same time, she was so elated to finally have one of friends with her.

Her bottom hooves finally touched onto the rocky shore and she placed her friend down gently on her back. She propped her head up, allowing her to breathe. Rainbow appeared to be exhausted, almost as if she was just fighting for her life, which deeply worried Twilight.

She sat and tried to coax her awake, but to no avail. Rainbow was out cold, so she decided to wait for as long as she needed to for her friend to come back to her.

Hours passed, minutes ticked by, and still nothing.

Rainbow continued to remain unresponsive to everything Twilight tried, and as the sun began to go down she feared the worst. They would have to stay here by the lake for the entire night and leave in the morning if she didn’t wake up soon.

Reluctant to leave Rainbow by herself, Twilight ventured into the woods regardless to find firewood for the night. Fortunately for her, there was a bountiful supply of loose driftwood brought in by the stream that was caught within clay outcroppings at the water’s edge. Even better, the various branches and loose twigs had dried out considerably, making for perfect kindling. Although it was admittedly difficult for her not being able to use magic, Twilight had managed to procure a respectable amount that would ensure their fire would last all night.

Now, with the sun passing over the horizon and darkness settling in, Twilight wondered how she could even ignite the kindling.

If I could only make a spark… that’s all I’d need. I don’t need to make a huge flame, just big enough for me and Rainbow.

She glanced over at her unconscious friend who was still only barely breathing. The mark around her neck made Twilight’s heart sink into her stomach.

I’m so sorry Rainbow. Why did she have to hurt you of all ponies? You probably tried to stop her, being the hero you usually are.

She casually picked up a branch and held it in her hoof studying it. With only a few minutes of fading sunlight left, Twilight began to concentrate.

I know I can’t really perform any spells, but maybe for you Rainbow… just maybe I can make a spark, and light this fire.

Her cheeks curled upwards and she clenched her eyes shut, funneling every last drop of magic she could pull from within her being. It was such an insignificant amount that at first it seemed she was making no progress. No energy passed through her horn at all… but she continued to fight anyway.

I’ll do it for you, Rainbow!

The most subdued of magical vapors gradually climbed to the surface of her mind. A tiny wisp of a gentle, magenta aura inched its way up her horn. As it made itself apparent near her tip, it coalesced into the smallest of pink bright spheres. Occasionally the magic would trail off like a web but it somehow maintained its shape. Twilight could only compare this energy manipulation to something like balancing a stack of ten books on her head at once.

Ever so carefully, she grabbed the smallest and driest stick she had and held it up to her wincing spark. Then, to her amazement, the stick caught fire.

She pulled it away from her face abruptly, marveling at her meager yet immensely significant achievement.

YES!! I CAN MAKE A FIRE FOR US NOW!!


Rainbow’s eyes weakly pried themselves apart and she gazed nauseously at the starry night sky above her. The last thing she remembered was fighting against Twilight’s choking collar, and then passing out shortly after. It devastated her heart to know her friend had nearly tried to kill her.

Still struggling to get a full breath of air, she cried silently to herself.

Something caught her attention however. She noticed a rough gravelly surface pressing against her back and this constant heat brushing by her face like a warm breeze. Lazily, she leaned her head over and saw the small campfire only a few feet away, and past that, the surface of a lake. She also became aware that her own coat was slightly damp.

“Did… I fall into the lake?” she faintly whispered.

Tromp.

She heard something behind her sounding vaguely like the footstep of a pony. Startled at the noise, she rolled her head over to face the opposite direction.

A chill ran down her spine when she saw the familiar menacing unicorn approaching her. Sheer terror made her weakened frame stir, but she couldn’t put up any resistance. It seemed that Twilight had decided to finish the job and get it over with. She had decided this was Rainbow’s last day.

Rainbow was so stunned she couldn’t even speak, as Twilight gleefully smiled and lunged over her. She felt her legs wrap tightly around her neck, almost as if she was trying to choke her with her own hooves this time.

With what little breath she had left, Rainbow let out an ear-piercing shriek.

“GET OOOFFFF OF MMMEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!”

She thrashed about wildly as forcefully as she could, sending Twilight reeling onto her back. Absolutely horrified and with tears welling in her eyes, she backed off.

Was this really happening to her? Had her friend been actually convinced that she was evil?

No Rainbow!! It’s me!!

Twilight pointed to her throat, attempting to show Rainbow something… but she was to blind with her own fear to pay attention to what she was doing. Anger built within her towards Twilight, as she awkwardly rose to her feet.

Rainbow lumbered in her direction absolutely ready to lay her life on the line for Equestria and the friends she had left. Now afraid for her own life, Twilight darted off into the woods as fast as her tired legs could carry her. Her tears returned, falling to the mossy earth below.

Rainbow gave chase after her, though she wasn’t quite as nimble-footed as her former friend. She was obviously still feeling the effects of being knocked out for so long.

“Your game’s not going to work this time Twilight!! I won’t fall for it!!!” she yelled.

Suddenly, Twilight’s hoof got caught in a loose tree’s root and she tripped onto her stomach. She could hear Rainbow rapidly gaining on her.

With her eyes so glossy with tears, she couldn’t even see where she was going.

Why is this happening to me? Is this what my life is destined to be now? I’m so sorry, Rainbow. Please, believe me...