• Published 3rd Feb 2014
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TiM: The Truth in Meanings - Twidashforever



TiM #1: If you had the power, how far would you go to save a friend, and would they hate you for it? Would you hate you for it? Actions have consequences and we are not always the ones who pay the price.

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Define: Catastrophe

Chapter 17 Define: Catastrophe

Canterlot

Every step of the path hurt, it was not a physical pain, but a mental one, Twilight could barely look anywhere without being reminded of this horrible situation. Even looking forward, her peripheral vision would linger on the graffiti. She had not imagined that it would be this bad. Never had she considered that time might flow differently in Hades, or that she would be gone for over two weeks. What had they missed in all that time? How had this happened? If this... this was occurring here, what was happening elsewhere?

Twilight did not even notice when they had reached the palace, her mind was running a mile a minute with all the possibilities that played out before her. It was only Rainbow’s presence that allowed her to keep moving; sadly she could do nothing for Twilight’s mental state. That was a hell of her own making; she was the judge, jury, and prison guard. Her mind had no intention of letting her out with good behavior any time soon.

As the two walked into the palace, a gentle rub from Rainbow manage to snap Twilight out of her funk, it seemed her jailor would let her out for Rainbow. As she looked around everything looked normal. She did a double take, and then a triple; everything was normal inside. Somehow, that made Twilight feel worse, not better. Almost like those who lived here where isolating themselves from the reality of what was occurring outside. Almost as if they were sticking their heads in the ground not wanting to face the world. Hoping it would just go away on its own. The thought was ridiculous of course. Naturally the palace would still be well kept, no one would vandalize these walls. It was absurd to even think she might see something like that here. However, the conflicting nature of what was occurring outside and what the palace looked like on the inside still rubbed Twilight the wrong way.

To her credit Rainbow did not even flinch, truly Twilight did not know if this was due to her stubborn nature to simply not worry about things she could not control or if Rainbow simply did not understand the implications of what this all meant. As Rainbow walked on, squeezing Twilight tightly with her wing, Twilight chose to believe the former. Rainbow would not let something like this get her down, she was a mare of action and if she could do nothing about a situation then she would not worry about it.

Rainbow was VERY worried, if this was happening here, what about Cloudsdale? What about Ponyville? Were their friends alright? A million such questions ran around her head. She wanted to leap up and go check on them all. With her speed she could make it to both locations and back before Twilight got done with her meeting. One look at the alicorn under her wing was all she needed to immediately discount that idea. Twilight needed her here; She needed Rainbow by her side. Such things were never said out loud. Truly Rainbow doubted that Twilight even knew, however, that did not matter. Rainbow knew, and she would never leave her friend behind, she would never leave Twilight behind. As such, for Twilight’s sake, Rainbow adopted her usual persona; Rainbow would play the strong one. She would be Twilight’s pillar of strength. She may not be able to do much in this situation but she could do that for Twilight.

Before long their escorts stopped them in front of a large set of double doors leading to the council room. Twilight looked nervously at Rainbow, she simply nodded at Twilight, giving her the reassurance that whatever happened in there, however bad it might get, Rainbow would always be there for her, Twilight released a breath that she did not realize she was holding.

After a few minutes they were announced and could enter, this was the official Council of Canterlot after all; they would not disrespect a Princess of Equestria by failing to give her the proper respect that she deserved.

“Presenting her Royal Highness, Princess Twilight Sparkle!”

With that, the two made their way in the council room. As Twilight expected, it was just as chaotic as the last time she found her way her. She briefly thought, ‘maybe this is why Tartarus said we could find the entrance to the Realm of Chaos here.’ She dismissed that idea, while it was ironic. Twilight still did not quite believe that the entrance to the Realm of Chaos was located in the heart of harmony.

Between the two of them they made quite the spectacle. A pure black pegasus with golden wings walking side by side with the newest alicorn, one with pure white eyes. It would have been perfect for a stain-glass window, maybe for another time when this was all done. Fortunately, for her reputation Rainbow had removed her wing from around Twilight for this, Twilight was once again sad for its loss, but it would have sent the wrong message to these ponies. She needed to be a princess here. Not a scared pony hiding behind her friend. However much she might want too.

Twilight made her way to the center, there were four thrones set up, all unoccupied. One for each of the princesses, while it was true Cadance no longer ruled here, being an alicorn meant that she would always have such a place of respect in this room, one of the small privileges of royalty. Twilight walked right to her throne, the newest one in the room, but one she had gotten familiar with over the past few years. Without missing a beat, Rainbow walked to the right of Twilight’s throne and sit down on her flank. She was unsure what the protocol was for this; however, she could not give a buck less. Twilight needed her here, and she knew that nopony could dislodge her from that spot. Not if Rainbow did not want them to. Twilight just nodded gratefully to her friend. Yes it got a few stares from the other ponies in the room, but she did not care, she wanted her friend with her and as Luna said, being a princess had some perks.

“Fill me in on what has happened during my absence.” Twilight spoke to nopony in particular.

A stallion stepped forward, truthfully Twilight did not know his name, but it seemed to be his position to give such reports. “Yes your highness, after your departure fifteen days ago, Princess Luna left for our neighbors in the south. On a diplomatic mission to ensure that foreign relations do not deteriorate. As you well know our trade agreements with them are mutually beneficial to both nations,” he cleared his throat. “And with events how they are, our ‘mutual defense’ pacts could be in jeopardy”

Twilight knew what he meant, Celestia had spent a long time ensuring that Equestria’s relationship with their ‘southern’ neighbors were strong and healthy. In no small part due to their sizable military.

“Has there been any communication from her?”

“Not yet your highness, there has been no word. Although she did say that if something happened and she required ‘aid’ she would let us know by raising the moon in the west.”

That made sense; nopony would dare actually harm her, as the entire world needed the sisters to keep night and day going. As such, if they tried to kidnap her and use her as a hostage, they would still let her raise the moon. Twilight once again found herself remarking on how clever Luna could be at times.

“And what of Celestia?”

He paused, a little unnerved. “After hoof picking the ponies to run this council, Celestia has been making her way around Equestria, your highness. Trying her best to keep everypony calm. Its… Its not been easy.”

“Which leads us into what’s happening to her city.”

“Yes, that… that started shortly after you left. At first a few reports made their way to us. Celestia has always been watchful of the next generation, attempting to make things better for each, as such she left instructions at the hospitals to report in ANY problems that may arise. We believed she was always looking for any virus, contagions, or possible abuse. Well reports started arriving, at first one or two at a time but then the numbers grew. It seems that every foal from that point on was stillborn.” If it wasn’t for a black hoof that reached out and grabbed her own, Twilight would have broken down right then and there.

“We did our best to limit the access to this information. However, it was occurring everywhere, in all towns and cities across Equestria, and we can only guess but across the world too. It was not long until ponies began gathering in the streets. They wanted answers, and soon a peaceful demonstration became anything but. We were able to contain it without any serious injuries…” he seemed hesitant to go on.

“Please continue good sir, I cannot help if I don't know how bad it has gotten.”

“That was not the last riot, there were ten separate incidents afterwards. We, we have lost the trust of the people, your highness. I honestly cannot blame them. If we can't keep our children safe what good are we?” He started crying at that point.

Twilight waited for him to compose himself. She did not begrudge this stallion for his behavior; truthfully, several tears started falling from her eyes as well. She had an advantage he did not, one that came from her friend sitting by her side. After a few minutes he seemed to have composed himself enough to continue.

“Thank you good sir, I do need to know how it is elsewhere.”

“Like Cloudsdale, and Ponyville!” Rainbow interjected.

“Ponyville seems to have weathered this crisis well, all on the hoofs of a Miss. Pie? She seems to be keeping that town together all on her own.”

‘Of course’ Twilight thought, if there was one pony in all of Equestria who could keep everyone smiling through any emergency it was Pinkie. Still, even she had her limits.

“Cloudsdale is doing ok for now, that was Celestia's first stop. She knew the importance of keeping Cloudsdale operational for the weather; we cannot afford to lose an entire year worth of crops. The death toll would be astronomical afterwards. Other towns are in varying stages of panic. The best we can tell is that Celestia's influence is having the desired effect of calming nerves and temperatures in the towns she visits, but not even Celestia can be in every place at once.”

A unicorn mare walked up, “Your highness, we await your command, we've done what we could but this council has reached an impasse, we have ideas but too many and not one that is assured to work.”

Twilight thought about this for a minute, a world full of grieving adults, and dead children. This train of thought took her nowhere good, all she could see is her jailor opening up the prison in her mind, welcoming her back. A black hoof stopped her from entering. A glance at her friend told her everything she needed to know, ‘You can do this’.

“I applaud you all for your quick thinking during this crisis, Equestria has never known such an emergency and you have all done wonders for trying to keep everypony safe. However, it was a mistake to try and hide the truth. The populace was already suspicious of what has occurred and hiding the facts only confirmed their beliefs. When the guards came out, that verified it. The ponies must be told the truth. Not in a group though, such action would only breed mob mentality and more violence. As such, I decree the following provisions are in order:"

“One: each household will be briefed individually on the situation at hoof. Come up with a system that allows each one to be informed in less than a month time. Each will be briefed with a team of counselors, specialists, and only ONE guard. Just to ensure that nopony comes to any harm. Under no circumstance is this process to be rushed, do so under the knowledge that I will be VERY upset if one such report reaches me.” They all nodded at that, unsure what such a promise actually conveyed, but nopony was willing to risk making a princess angry.

“Two: Any such household that needs more time than practical will be ASKED to seek specialized counseling. Free of charge at the expense of the crown.”

"Three: Any family that have lost foals will be cared for at the full expense of the crown, ensure that they have priority above all others. They are victims in this and are to be treated as such.” It was not said but Twilight wanted to add the words 'of my own stupidity' to that statement.

“Seek to keep everypony helping their friends and neighbors. Enlist the Wonderbolts to help and any other celebrities we can, get the most inspirational ponies working to inspire the masses. Keep everypony focused on getting everyone through this crisis as one. We need friendship to prevail, not hatred. Also, ensure everypony knows that any crimes that did not harm anypony committed during this crisis are forgiven.”

“Your will is our command, princess. However, when they ask what do you want us to tell them about why this occurred?”

Twilight thought about this, this was her punishment for what happened, there was no point trying to hide from it. “Tell them… tell them the truth, the good, and the bad. Tell them what I did, tell everypony that I'm currently turning over the gates of Tartarus seeking to fix it, and will not rest until I do. Then tell them that when this over, anypony who wishes it of me, that I will spend the rest of my life ensuring that I EARN the forgiveness of those so drastically affected by my mistake.”

Twilight was staring at the black hoof that held hers; it squeezed her hoof tightly at that last remark. She looked up at Rainbow, the look told her everything. Rainbow would be there throughout it all. She would work with Twilight and set this right. No matter how long it took.

With that matter temporarily settled, the council went into other business. They set about creating committees to ensure that Twilight's commands were carried out in the most ‘politically efficient' way possible, or in other words the most least efficient way possible. But, that was politics, and trying to change that would disrupt the only system of government they had.

Rainbow quickly grew bored. She wished that she could just take a nap. Sadly that option was no longer open to her. Out of instinct she tried to preen her wings. Magic wings did not need preening. Yet another option cut off from her. Looking at Twilight she could tell the alicorn was not paying any attention either. With a pleading look in her eyes she whispered, “Can we go?”

Twilight simply stared at her, “it would be rude to leave in the middle of a meeting.”

“Do we really have time for this, Twi? The mission?”

Twilight eyes grew wide; they did still have to find the portal. “Oh!” she said that little louder than intended, gaining the attention of everypony in the room.

“If you gentleponies would excuse me, I have several more important events to get too.”

Several ponies just scoffed at that, it was against protocol for a princess to leave a meeting before it was over, but they all knew better than to try and stop her.

Rainbow wanted to facehoof. For Twilight sake she held back, ‘I can’t believe the egghead got so distracted by all this that… that she forgot'.

After the two left, Twilight forced open Rainbow’s wing and snuggled up underneath it. It had quickly become her home away from home and she did not care if anypony saw.

“So Twi, how long will all that work.”

“How long will all what work?”

“You know, princess. Your ‘decrees and junk', you think that will have any real impact?”

“I honestly don’t know Rainbow, a pony is smart and intelligent, however, in a group they are anything but. I've read several books on mob mentality. It seems like the longer we can put that off the better chance we all have.”

“So how much time do you think you bought us?”

“If I had to guess, a few weeks to a month, tops.”

“I thought it was brilliant to be honest with you.”

“Rainbow.”

“No seriously, the worst thing for any pony in a time like this is the feeling that they have nothing they can do. Sitting around during such an emergency? We could never do something like that and you know it. Even if it is just busy work, by enlisting the average pony to help take care of their neighbors and friends, by giving them inspiration. That will give them all a purpose and direction. It will help them feel like they can actually do something that matters. Something that will help. What I'm trying to say Twi, you are one hell of a princess.”

Twilight was blushing as she looked at Rainbow. Those few words made all the difference in the world to the young alicorn. “Thanks Rainbow.”

“But…” Twilight stared at Rainbow, she had not been expecting the preverbal ‘but’ from her friend. “ If you even consider taking on all that responsibility by yourself after this is over I will never forgive you, we are all with you on this. DO NOT try and do it by yourself.”

Twilight looked taken aback by that, she did not want to put anymore of this on her friends then she already had.

“I mean it Twi, we will all be there for you when this ends, and none of us will be happy to hear about you trying to kill yourself fixing this when its all over.”

“Ok Rainbow, I promise”

“Not good enough and you know it, Twi.”

“Cross my heart and hope to fly stick a cupcake in my eye.”

That sealed it, nopony breaks a pinkie promise. Nopony that knew Pinkie that is.

Rainbow seemed satisfied with that, “Ok, lets get back to our mission, the entrance to the Realm of Chaos is not going to find it self.” Rainbow sighed inwardly, "There’s a phrase I never imagined saying.”

Author's Note:

Act 3 starts off with, well not bang per say.

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