• Published 8th Apr 2014
  • 8,426 Views, 688 Comments

The Outsiders - Arania



Twilight is accidentally catapulted into a world she never knew existed, and is forced to work with the inhabitants of this strange world to stop an inter-universal war.

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Rabbit Hole

Twilight groaned in pain as the air was forced from her lungs, her back pressed uncomfortably against cold metal by the crushing weight of... herself. She struggled to extricate herself from under her duplicate, unsuccessfully.

The pendant emitted a chime that could only be described as 'cheerful', the green glow fading from around the rim. Her duplicate nickered, expression shifting from exasperation to abject horror.

"I am so dead."

"Sorry." Twilight offered again, smiling sheepishly

"Stop apologising."

"Sorry."

"Augh!"

"Sorry."

Her duplicate leaned in, nose almost touching Twilight's. "Shut. Up."

"Sorry."

A glare silenced any further apologetics, granting time for her duplicate to pull herself away from Twilight and raise to a standing position. Granted a reprieve from the crushing pressure, Twilight rolled over, taking the opportunity to examine the room into which she had been deposited.

It was bright. It was cold. It was very unfamiliar to the bookish unicorn, who had spent most of her time inside structures constructed of brick, wood and stone, lit by lanterns and sunlight. The floor was a silvery-grey metal, lined with strips of a black, grippy material Twilight couldn't identify. The walls were constructed of a similar material, curving upwards from the floor to meet the ceiling far overhead, where numerous small recesses shone with a sterile, almost clinical white light.

Twilight felt her breath catch in her throat as she realised there were no doors.

"Where have you taken me?" She breathed, on the verge of panic "Where am I?"

Her duplicate didn't respond immediately, looking around the room with a look of confusion.

"Odd. It doesn't usually take them this long."

Twilight gaped. It was as though she wasn't even there. Panic gave way to indignant anger. She opened her mouth to speak, only for a voice to echo throughout the room, cutting her off before a single syllable had the chance to form.

"Unscheduled Beacon Activation. Security Team Alpha report to Gate Three."

Twilight squeaked and covered her ears as a series of cracks echoed throughout the room. She tried to make herself as small as possible as the yelling started, holding herself to the floor and covering her head protectively.

"Identify! Now!"

"Sparkle, Twilight. Echo. Team Three-Eight." Twilight heard a clink of metal on metal as something fell to the floor. "Beacon Clear. No Contamination."

Twilight peeked her head up, staring at her duplicate who had sunk to the floor, forehooves behind her head, horn pointed up and away in a display of nonthreatening submission, her pendant lying on the floor next to her. Three other ponies surrounded her, clad in suits of dull grey armour and brandishing an assortment of what she assumed were weapons.

A fourth guard approached Twilight, a blocky rectangular device held aloft in their magic, pointed at her.

"You! Identify!"

"Twilight Sparkle?" she offered hesitantly

The guard continued to glare at her, clearly unsatisfied with the response.

"Um... I'm a student at Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns?" She continued "My parents are Night Light and Twilight Velvet? I... uh..."

"Stop talking," The guard growled

"Okay," Twilight whispered

"Sparkle Echo," the guard began, still glaring at Twilight. "Who is this?"

"She spotted me." 'Echo' replied in an even tone. "Chased me through half of Canterlot."

"Is she hostile?" The guard barked, impatiently. "Analysis said that Room's disposition was friendly!"

"Analysis can go suck horseapples." 'Echo' replied, bitterly. "She's an Insider."

The guard stepped back in surprise, lowering the device he had aimed at her.

"You brought an Insider to the Exterior?" he asked, quietly "Echo, that's Rule Number One!"

"No, she followed me." 'Echo' corrected. "And got caught in the backwash when I Exited. Like I said, Analysis are complete featherbrains. That cell was not supposed to have another Sparkle."

"Analysis has never been wrong before."

"Suuure..." 'Echo' replied sarcastically, gesturing at Twilight. "Explain this then."

"Excuse me..." Twilight interrupted, raising her head slightly. "But where am I? What's an Insider? What is going on?"

"Can we just send her back?" the guard asked, nervously. "Would that work?"

"Possibly" 'Echo' replied "Though knowing my luck she'd find a way back here now she knows about us. She is a Sparkle."

"Have I ever said how much you Sparkles annoy me, Echo?" The guard sighed, leaning his head to the side and muttering something into a black, fuzzy protrusion sticking out of his suit.

"Okay, enough," Twilight stated, rising slowly to her hooves and igniting her horn. "This day has been entirely too weird for me, and you all keep ignoring me. I want answers!"

The guards backed up, levelling their weapons at her. The closest guard, the commander, Twilight assumed, was frantically muttering into the fuzzy stalk.

"Security Teams Beta and Gamma report immediately to Gate Three. Intruder Alert!"

"I wouldn't," Echo warned. "You might be a Sparkle, but these colts are quite good at their jobs."

"What in Celestia's name is a 'Sparkle'?" Twilight demanded, levelling her horn at Echo.

There was another series of cracks from behind her. She yelped as a yellow-tinged magic field surrounded her, lifting her off the floor and shorting out her own magic, droplets of purple dripping off her horn and dissolving into the aether.

"Let. Me. Go!" She demanded, struggling futilely against the field.

"Oh dear. Now this is bad." came a male voice, regal and measured. "Shoot her."

"Wait! No!" Twilight yelped as one of the guards levelled their weapon at her. "Stop! Don't!"

"Hold," came a different voice, a female this time. "She's not a threat to the Exterior, not where she came from. Her cell was about as far from the Ruins as it's possible to get."

"How can you be sure?" Came a third voice, another female. "This wouldn't be the first time somepony from the Ruins had tried to escape by infiltrating the Interior. Not to mention the Falls, one of them could have discovered us and sent her here."

"She's not from the Falls," the second voice replied, spitting the word 'Falls' like it was toxic. "None of them even know who we really are, let alone have the capability to attack us here."

"You can't know that as a definite," The first voice challenged. "The Bureaus-"

"Are far too focussed on their own little campaign to even notice Outsiders." The second voice interrupted. "We're secure. This breach, through unique, does not threaten the integrity of the Exterior. Guards, you're dismissed. I will deal with the Insider."

The guards teleported away one-by-one, cracks echoing throughout the room as they departed, eventually leaving only the mysterious voice, and Twilight, suspended in the air.

She drifted slowly to the group as the field dissipated. The sound of hoofsteps echoed throughout the room as the owner of the unknown voice walked into her field of view.

"Princess Celestia?"

The Solar Princess gazed down at her, fixing her with a gaze that was equal parts amusement and disappointment, a strange combination that Twilight had witnessed on many different occasions. Despite the familiarity, Twilight knew this was a different Celestia to the one she knew, a fact given away by the distinct lack of golden regalia that typically adorned the Princess' neck and head, and the slightly pinker hue of her coat.

"Twilight Sparkle." Celestia replied. "I apologise for the zealousness of my guards. They are trained to deal with threats considerably more aggressive than yourself."

"I understand." Twilight lied.

"I hope you are not unduly stressed by the situation," Celestia stated soothingly, flashing a disarming smile. "I assure you, this is all an accident of celestial proportions."

Twilight chuckled at the joke.

"I understand, Princess," She replied, bowing in deference. "You don't need to explain yourself."

"Just Celestia, please Twilight. I'm no princess. Never have been," Celestia replied. "Besides. I am not even the Celestia you know, though I suppose that much is obvious, given the lack of..."

She gestured to her missing regalia, drawing an understanding nod from Twilight.

"I am what is called an 'Outsider'. So is everypony else who lives here." Celestia gestured to the room, before stopping herself. "Not in this room, obviously."

"Your speech, it's so..." Twilight trailed off, trying to find the right word.

"Strange?" Celestia offered

Twilight nodded.

"Like I said, I'm not the Celestia you know," She continued. "I'm not even the only Celestia that lives here. I am one of six, actually. We all have our little quirks that set us apart. I'm a bit more pink than the others, for instance. I am officially Celestia Alpha, owing that I was the first recorded Celestia to arrive here, though many of the ponies here have elected instead to call me 'Pinklestia' instead"

Twilight snorted, trying to hide it behind a cough.

"Go on, laugh, it helps to ease the tension, trust me."

"Um, Princ... Celestia?" Twilight began, hesitantly. "I would very much like to go home."

"Ah," Celestia answered, slowly. "I was afraid you were going to ask that. Honestly I was hoping you were going to take longer to get to that question, though I can see why it would be foremost in your mind."

Twilight merely stared, waiting for a response.

"I'm afraid you cannot go home." Celestia explained. "Not permanently, at least."

Twilight gaped, unable to form a response.

"You see, you're an anomaly to us," She continued. "No Insider has ever, ever in the history of everything managed to get here. It's never happened before, and by all rights, it shouldn't ever happen. It's not something we even have contingencies for."

"I don't understand," Twilight replied, apparently still processing the fact that she wasn't going home.

"I don't expect you to. This is a lot to take in at once." Celestia sighed. "Ten minutes ago, you didn't even know this place existed, let alone what it implied."

Twilight took a deep breath, taking stock of her situation in as close to a level-headed fashion as possible.

"You're taking this rather better than I expected you to, Twilight."

"I'm not going home?"

"No. Not until we discover what your presence here implies for us."

"How long will that take?"

"I don't know. Maybe a few hours, maybe entire years." Celestia admitted, glancing nervously at the floor. "Maybe never."

"Oh."

They sat in silence for a moment, the larger alicorn regarding the small purple unicorn with an air of concern.

"I'm sorry. I can only begin to imagine how you must be feeling." Celestia said, trying her best to console her. "I'm sure you will see your friends again, once we sort all this out."

"Don't have friends." Twilight corrected flatly

"Oh? What about your companions, the Elements of Harmony? Did you have those where you came from?"

"I don't know what that is."

"Have you ever heard of a pony called Nightmare Moon?"

"No."

"Spike?"

"No."

"Discord?"

"No."

"Princess Cadance?"

"No."

"...Shining Armor?"

"That's my brother. But I don't see him much anymore."

"Your family?"

"Don't see them much either. My studies take up most of my time."

"Being the personal protégé of the Princess would do that..."

"I'm not her protégé." Twilight corrected. "You're thinking of Sunset Shimmer. I'm just a student at the school."

They both stared at each other for a moment.

"How unique," Celestia pondered. "Forgive my bluntness, but you seem so alone there. Why are you so eager to return?"

"It's what I know," Twilight explained. "I don't know anything about here. Or even what 'here' is."

"Well!" Celestia explained, getting to her hooves. "What say we change that, then? How about a tour? With the excitement over, It should be quite easy to show you around."

"I'd like that."

Author's Note:

Thanks to everyone who's upvoted and faved this, and to the people who PM'd me offering editing work. I never expected this to become anywhere near as popular as it did (let alone get in the popular stories list. *is proud*).