• Published 23rd Jan 2014
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Across the Multiverse - dramatic_spoon



Big Mac's alternate universe offspring search for answers

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Hello Cruel World: The Old Man's Back Again

“Get up, it’s time.”

Gem stirred under her Spartan bedding. The mare sat up, rubbing her eyes.

“Who’s there?”

“It’s us.”

Pulling her hooves away from her eyes, Gem found Oscura, Pumpkin and Golden Sweet waiting for her.

“Well?” Pumpkin asked, “Come on.”

Gem rolled off of the bed, landing on her hooves. The mare joined the group, and followed them down the hall.

“Who’s coming with us?” Gem asked.

“Gilda, myself and Pound for sure. She might have gotten Wild Fire and maybe Bonbon.”

“…Seriously?” Gem rolled her eyes.

“The end of the world as you know it does strange things to ponies.” Pound shrugged.

The group stopped near the ladders where the others waited for them. Gilda, Pound Cake, Bellona, Fantasia, Temporal, Stratos, Rhapsody, and three newcomers waited for them. The first of the newcomers was an amber pegasus, her dark brown mane cut short. The mare’s wings were tattered, with large portions of them replaced with metallic replicas of feathers and metal sheets. Strapped to her forehooves was a pair of metallic gauntlets. The second was a light cream colored earth mare, her blue and fuchsia mane cut very short. A low hum radiated out of the mare’s prosthetic left leg, and a large mace rested on her back. The last of the ponies was another earth mare, this one light amber in color. The mare’s cyan mane was tied back, and she had several heavy looking satchels on her back.

“Right then, that’s everyone,” Gilda motioned towards the three mares, “Kids, that’s Wild Fire, Bonbon and Coco. Girls, that’s Golden Gem, Golden Sweet, Bellona, Oscura, Fantasia, Temporal Spectrum, Stratos and Rhapsody.”

“You’re bringing a foal?” Bonbon stared at Rhapsody, “Gil, I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“I don’t have a choice,” Gilda responded, “Flutters wants them out of here, and you know what she does with ponies that don’t listen.”

“…Take her.” Wild Fire responded, her voice raspy, “Be safer.”

“…I have no real opinion,” Coco shrugged, “As long as someone is able to keep an eye on her at all times.”

“I’ve done a fairly good job so far,” Stratos added.

“…So what exactly are we doing, Gil?” Bonbon turned her attention back to the griffon.

“Alicorn hunting.”

“…Seriously?” Bonbon cocked an eyebrow, “What makes you think this time will work any better?”

“Because I have a contact in the Everfree who’s been watching.”

“New thing to know,” Wild Fire cut in, “How long?”

“A while really. Remember that group we had contact with in the Everfree?”

“Yes. We got reports that it was demolished, wasn’t it?” Coco cut off Bonbon’s response.

“Mostly. One of them survived.”

“…So let me see if I got this straight,” Bonbon paused, “You want us to help you go to the Everfree, find a survivor that we might not even know exist, to look for Pound’s hallucinations, so that you can send a bunch of kids that Flutters hates somewhere else.”

“About right.” Golden Gem nodded.

“…Still in.” Wild Fire rasped.

“…I volunteered, so I’ll stay.” Coco nodded.

“…Oh what the hell, Fluttershy already has me on her shit list.” Bonbon shrugged.

“Then let’s go,” Gilda motioned towards the ladder, “Fire, you and Bonbon out first.”

The ponies nodded. Bonbon began making her way up the stairs, as Wild Fire flew upwards. Oscura and Golden Sweet began towards the stairs, only for Gilda to hold out a hand.

“No, let them see if it’s safe first.” Gilda shook her head, “Make sure it’s-”

“Safe.” Wild Fire’s voice bounced down the tunnel.

“Alright, go.”

The two ponies quickly climbed up the ladder, and pulled themselves into a building. The two quickly scanned the area: ruined furniture, scattered dishes and bird feeder littered the floor. Bonbon gripped her mace in her mouth, while Wild Fire glanced out the window.

“You two. Watch here.” Wild Fire motioned for them to take her place at the window.

“Where are we?” Golden Sweet asked.

“Was Fluttershy’s cabin. Abandoned now.” Wild Fire responded as the returned to the trapdoor, “Send next up.”

After a few moments, Temporal and Golden Gem pulled themselves up from the trapdoor and looked around.

“…They attacked everywhere didn’t they?” Gem looked at the tattered remains of a sofa.

“Yes.” Wild Fire responded, “Send rest up. Safe enough.”

“How do you know there aren’t any changelings in here?” Oscura asked.

“Cleared out by us. Left chemical that repels them here.”

“…If you leave something that repels them here, wouldn’t they notice something is up and try to figure out a way around it?” Temporal asked.

“Too stupid to.” Wild Fire grinned as the others continued out of the trap door. After Gilda crawled out, the griffon shut the door, and pushed the ruined couch over it.

“…Wait, isn’t the Everfree further away from here?” Stratos asked.

“Kid, without ponies maintaining the land around it, the forest grew.” Gilda looked out the window, “Alright, let’s go. Fire, you, Bonbon and Oscura lead.”

“Where exactly are we going?” Bonbon asked, her voice muffled through the mace.

“The River.”

===

“...So let me get this straight,” Lyra started, “We’re relying on an alternate universe version of the Flim Flam brothers to get us to where we need to go?”

“Basically,” Time Turner shrugged.

“We’re really supposed to trust them?” Lyra continued on.

“Oscura is technically King Sombra’s daughter, and you had no problem with her,” the stallion countered.

“That’s different, He didn’t threaten me. They threatened to put Mac out of business.”

“And we did too,” Time Turner reminded her, “Not exactly our best moment.”

“…Eeyup.” Lyra admitted.

A horrific screech, followed by the sounds of splintering wood, shattered glass, and broken chimes echoed through the room. Time Turner turned white and rushed out of the room, to the showroom. Lyra shot a nonplussed look at Big Macintosh who simply shrugged. The two entered the other room and were greeted with a scene of carnage: a bulky, six-wheeled carriage with a massive engine bolted to the front sat amid the shattered remains of clocks. A swarm of tubes, chutes and nozzles sprouting from the engine, snaking their way around the different parts of the carriage, filled with bizarrely colored liquids and steam spewed out of a hastily patched chimney. Time Turner stood dumbstruck as the doors opened, releasing a cloud of white smoke and steam. Snake and Gypsy stumbled out, coughing, their protective goggles smeared with soot.

“Told you it wouldn’t work,” Gypsy coughed.

You told me?” Snake snapped back, “If you had picked up the liquid Rainbow like I asked…”

“MY CLOCKS!” Time Turner shrieked, “Out of all the brain addled places you could park that infernal contraption, you put it in my STORE!!?! A pair of brain-dead, bot-infested, gelded knackers would know better!”

“Oh do shut up,” Snake rolled her eyes, “We barely use this thing, our driving is a bit rusty.”

“THAT’S NOT THE IMPORTANT PART!” Time Turner continued his rant, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH IT COST TO MAINTAIN MY EQUIPMENT?!? You at least get funding, I have to scrape up whatever I can and whatever the stupid bureaucrats think is enough for my budget.”

“Oh, so we don’t have to deal with bureaucrats, do we?” Snake snapped back, “Well next time I need to negotiate the budget, how about I just send Shimmer to talk to you?”

As the two continued to yell and screech at one another, Gypsy pulled her goggles off and went up to Big Macintosh and Lyra. The mare beamed.

“Hi there, you must be Rhapsody’s parents.” Gypsy held out a hoof, “I’m Gypsum Oyl, but most ponies call me Gypsy.”

“Big Macintosh. But I reckon you knew that already.” Mac took the offered hoof giving it a shake.

“Of course,” Gypsy’s grin grew, “I’ve met with the king before, and I must say that his temperament is a wonderful counterpart to Queen Umbra’s.”

“Um…thanks?” Big Mac frowned a bit at her statement.

“And you must be Lyra Liverrope then,” Gypsy turned her attention to Lyra.

“It’s Heartstrings,” Lyra corrected.

“Ah, right right, my apologies,” Gypsy shook her head, “You wouldn’t happen to know a Sammu Mandolini, do you?” Gypsy chuckled slightly at Lyra’s confused look, “I take that as a no. Well once Snake is done yelling at Time Turner, we can go.”

“…Miss Gypsy, if you don’t mind can I ask you a question?” Big Macintosh cautiously ventured.

“Sure, as long as it’s not about my coltfriend.”

“You and your sister are the counterparts to the Flim Flam brothers, right?” Mac continued on.

“So we’re told.” Gypsy shrugged, “I’ve never actually met them, outside of Universe two-one-five-one-eight.”

“Which are you suppose to be?”

Gypsy blinked, “Hmmm.” The mare craned her head to the side as she scratched her chin, “…You know, I never thought about that. If I had to guess, I think I’m Flam. I liked Flam-two-one-five-one-eight better than Flim.”

“…And stop whining!” Snake yelled at Time Turner, “Anyway, Mister Macintosh, Missus Heartstrings, as my sister has hopefully told you, I am Snake Oyl, and if you walk this way, we can get going.”

“You sure we can all fit in that thing?” Big Macintosh frowned.

“Of course. The E.D.A.M.A.M.E uses patented Shire technology, so that it’s bigger on the inside than the out,” Snake assured him.

“…E.D.A.M.A.M.E.?” Lyra asked puzzled.

“It’s an acronym. Stands for Extra Dimensional Access Machine And Mobile Engine.” Gypsy beamed, “Perfectly safe, I assure you.”

“….Alright then, let’s go.” Big Macintosh nodded.

“Alright, you two get the back seat, no backseat driving.” Gypsy beamed as she trotted back to the E.D.A.M.A.M.E.

===

“Why didn’t you tell us there were still monsters here?!?!” Golden Gem leapt backwards, dodging the snapping jaws of a timberwolf. Around her the others continued their own battles with the pack: Oscura’s saber decapitated a timberwolf, spraying the mare with sickly green sap. Bonbon’s mace slammed down onto another one, splintering its back. Behind them, Stratos slammed his armored hoof into the face of one of the wolves, snapping its snout off. Gilda raised one of her pistols, only for it to click empty.

“Pommel!” Gilda tossed the gun aside, as Coco yanked another one out of her satchels and tossed it to the griffon. The earth mare dodged a lunging timberwolf, as Wild Fire flicked a switch on her left gauntlet, deploying a straight, double edged blade. The mare stabbed the blade between the timberwolf’s eyes, and quickly withdrew the blade. The wolf hobbled for a bit, and collapsed. With the last wolf’s collapse, the remains of the pack scattered, leaving their wounded and dead behind.

“….What made them so violent?” Gem asked.

“We don’t know.” Gilda responded as she reloaded her pistols and checked her ammunition, “Coco, I need more shot.”

“Alright.” The mare rummaged through her satchels, pulling out a small cloth bag, “This should be the right one.”

Wild Fire shook the blood off her blade and sheathed it. The mare turned her attention to Stratos, Temporal and Rhapsody.
“All good?”

“How come you talk funny?” Rhapsody asked. Temporal rolled her eyes as Stratos slapped his forehead.

Wild Fire smiled, “Injured. Hurts to talk much.”

“Anyway, are we almost there?” Oscura turned her attention to Gilda.

“My contact should b-”

There you all are!” a female voice called out.

The group turned to see a raggedy looking earth mare, pull herself out of the river. The mare’s tattered clothes sagged around her legs and her satchel dripped muck-colored liquid. The mare reached up to remove her soaked cap and goggles, revealing her cerise mane. Cheerilee flashed the group an embarrassed smile.

“So, I have good news and I have bad news, what do you want to hear first?”

“Is this really the time to be playing a game?” Bonbon snapped.

“You’re going to have to find both of them out eventually, so you might as well play along,” Cheerilee rolled her eyes, “so good first or bad first?”

“Good.” Rhapsody, Stratos, Bellona, Pound and Gilda responded.

“The good news is that I found the alicorn, and I think it’s gonna come here soon.”

“What makes you so certain?” Pumpkin asked.

“That’s the bad news. You know why I had such trouble contacting you all before?” Cheerilee’s smile returned.

“Right.” Coco nodded.

“Well, most of the settlement was destroyed in a hydra attack,” Cheerilee paused.

“….Oh goddammit…” Gilda drew both pistols again.

“The bad news is that it has my scent and is, sort of, kind of stalking me.” Cheerilee’s smile vanished.

The mare’s next words were lost in an ear splitting scream, as a massive, eight headed monstrosity erupted from the woods.

“Stratos, please pull back with Temporal, Golden Sweet and Rhapsody.” Oscura instructed, “Fantasia, please keep an eye on Miss Gilda. Bellona, Gem you probably should see if you can procure a firearm from Miss Coco.”

The mare’s blade flicked out of its scabbard.

“ ‘Farewell happy fields where joy forever dwells: HAIL HORRORS! Hail infernal world!’ ”

The princess threw herself forward at the beast with a demonic smile and her blade raised high.

“…Scary.” Wild Fire commented as one of the hydra’s heads lunged at Oscura, only for the mare to dodge the attack and stab it in the cheek.

“Eeyup.”

===

Big Macintosh trotted around, looking at the sleek, white interior of the E.D.A.M.A.M.E. Pictures of cheerful scenes featuring kittens, puppies, fillies playing, sunsets and other pleasant scenes plastered the walls, and Big Macintosh couldn’t help but smile at them. In the middle of the room, Snake and Gypsy argued over the control console.

“No, look, if we adjust that, we’re going to get stuck traveling at the unnecessary speed.” Snake argued.

“Well if we had hired the Quantum mechanic like I said we should, we wouldn’t be having this problem, now would we?” Gypsy shot back.

“Oh please, that hack wouldn’t have known the difference between a difference engine and a PME,” Snake rolled her eyes, “He wanted to make it in Jigawatts, this need zettawatts to function, if we ran it on jigawatts, we wouldn’t have made it outside of our plane of existence, let alone this one!”

Gigawatts, not Jigawatts. Just because Professor Zeitron pronounces it that way doesn’t mean you have to.”

“Oh now this is turning to my pronunciation, is it?” Snake grumbled, “This is coming from Miss pronounces-it-as-po-tay-to.”

“It is pronounced po-tay-to. Only those hicks out on Dodge call it Po-tay-ter, and those stuffy morons in Manehatten call it po-tah-to.”

“Oh never mind, go check on the fuel rods.” Snake huffed.

Gypsy rolled her eyes and turned away from the panel.

“Oh, hello there Big Macintosh.” The unicorn beamed, “Everything alright? Interdimensional travel can be rough on people if it’s the first time.”

“No, I’m alright,” the stallion shook his head; “Just wonderin’ though, why aren’t there any windows?”

“Interdimensional space is really scary,” Gypsy paused, “It’s not something you really want to look at if you don’t have to.”

“How long is it gonna take to get there?”

“Not sure.” Gypsy shrugged, “A lot of this is guesswork…that is not the answer you wanted to hear, was it?”

“It’s one I’m use to.”

“…” Gypsy sighed, “As much as I hate to say this, Golden Gem has the most interdimensional travel experience. There are a few cases where ponies were able to do so via magic, but those all are either the Element of Magic, alicorns or got help from Discord. But none of them have that much experience.” Gypsy paused, “Look, she’s been to your universe, Stratos’ universe, and several others now. Some of them are easy to get by in, others not so much.”

“You’re basically telling me that she’s important now.”

“Oh yessss,” Gypsy drew out the end of her sentence, “very important.”

“So what can you tell me ‘bout this universe?” Big Macintosh changed the subject.

“Universe two-one-four-nine.” Gypsy grimaced, “Our probes tell us that the Changelings were able to grow in numbers, intelligence and strength, thus allowing them to use much more cunning strategies. All the Princesses and nearly all the Elements of Harmony were killed in action. With the death of the Changeling Queen, the changelings have turned feral.”

“….That does not sound safe.”

“It most certainly is not."

===

Stratos dragged the wounded Bonbon back towards the makeshift bunkers. The mare swore as the shattered remains of her prosthetic leg sparked, and the broken off hydra tooth in her leg shifted.

“Sorry, sorry!” Stratos apologized.

“Well this is great, what are we going to do now?” Temporal muttered as she surveyed the scene: out of the original attackers, only Gilda, Golden Gem, Pumpkin Cake, Oscura and Fantasia remained. Bellona carried a badly beaten and bleeding Wild Fire towards another hastily built shelter, where Pumpkin continued to fire at the Hydra. Golden Sweet and Coco managed to drag a barely conscious and blood splattered Pound Cake towards Temporal’s position.

“ ‘I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end’.” Oscura’s smile grew even larger as her aura shot out, pulling up Bonbon’s Mace, “ ‘And I shall strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers’.”

A hydra head lunged at Oscura. The mare leapt backwards, dodging the initial attack, and counters stabbing her blade into the head’s left eye. With a swing of the mace, she drove her blade deeper into the beast’s eye, forcing it to reel backwards in pain and terror. As it began to scream, the horrifying noise vanished.

“What the…”

Where the hydra was, stood half a dozen, small horrified lizards that quickly scampered off in different directions. The entire group looked up at the bridge, to see a single pony standing there, covered in a patchy black cloak and hood that hid the pony’s features.

“That’s it.” Cheerilee pointed, “I told you I found it.”

Without a word, the pony turned around to leave. Golden Gem broke off from the group and rushed over to the bridge.

“Wait,” Gem called out, “I need to speak to you.”

The pony ignored her and began to slowly walk back into the forest.

“Dammit!” Gem’s horn flared as her aura grabbed at the pony’s cloak and hood, “I have crossed ten dimensions, broke Celestia knows how many laws, and I might be stuck in this hellhole of a universe, I am not going to be ignored!”

The mare pulled, ripping the cloak and hood off the pony. The pony froze as everyone else stared in shock. A massive pair of feathered wings were mounted on the pony’s back. In the middle of the pony’s mane, a single horn protruded. Grimacing the pony turned around to face the gathered group.

“You wanna talk to me?” the pony spoke, “Then let’s talk.”

Gilda blinked, and quickly rubbed both eyes, ignoring the blood, gunpowder and soot on her talons. As she looked again, her voice cracked.

“Mac?”

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