• Published 21st Jun 2014
  • 2,383 Views, 68 Comments

Would You Like To Play Again? - Doccular42

What would you do if you died and discovered that your whole life was a game? That you were someone else's pawn? That the entire world was run by a guy named Phil? And what if you could try again? Would you? Button Mash would.

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Chapter Two

Chapter Two

Button Shine walked across his room to look into the mirror hanging above his dresser. His multicolored mane hung about in knotted locks, betraying his recent sleep. He rubbed his eyes, trying to wipe away his tired. He shook himself as a grin spread over his face.

“Woo, yay, it’s today!” He hopped up and down, thinking about his upcoming test and hopeful success.

Sick rhyming skills, brah. Button stopped mid leap, falling to the floor and barely landing on his hooves.

“W-who said that?” He asked, his voice barely a whisper. But no answer came. He stopped for a moment, looking around. Who could that have possibly—

“Buuuuutoooon! Time to get uuuUUUppp!” His mother’s singsong voice drifted into the room, breaking his concentration.

“I’m up mom!” He shouted in reply, opening his door to see her smiling face.

“Oh, you always are so punctual,” she said as she wrapped him up into a big bear hug before grimacing suddenly. “Ew. But very stinky. I think your brother is out of the shower. Your turn now, and I’ll have some blueberry pancakes ready for you once you’re done.” She held him at arms length, but gave him a sweet pat on the head. “You both have such big days today! Oh, I’m so excited!”

Button followed her out into the hallway, making his way to the small bathroom. His family may not be monetarily rich, but they kept what little they had taken care of, and they smothered their little house with love. Button smiled as he knocked at the door.

“Just a minute!” A voice croaked from inside. Button’s grin widened.

“Shiny, your voice is doing that thing again!” He giggled at his brother’s breaking voice.

The door swung open, and a teenaged colt’s front hooves sprang out, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck. The other pony jerked Button inside, putting him into a headlock and swiftly applying a playful noogie.

“Shiny! Stop!” Button roared with laughter as the young stallion stopped his noogie just long enough to begin a swift tickle attack which had his adversary rolling on the floor.

“Never! The Royal Guard never surrenders!” Shining Armor said, pinning his foe to the ground. Not that it took much effort. The young colt’s laughter was a far more effective immobilizer.

“I-I-I’ll stop you…” Button managed between laughs and breaths. He tried to pull himself together and stand up…

And suddenly his mind filled with the sound of rolling dice and a deep voice...

You make a Will Save versus Immobilizing Laughter. You roll a three (plus four). Save failure.

Button didn’t even have time to think about the voice he had heard, since he was laughing so hard. “Shiny, please,” he said, but to no avail.

“Avast, ye pirate dog! Ye should have ne’er tangled with the Captain of the Royal Guard!” Shining cried triumphantly.

“Pirate?” Button asked. “I’ll show you pirate!”

The dice rolled again, and the voice returned.

You make a Will Save versus Immobilizing Laughter. You roll a seventeen (plus six). Save succesful!

Button leapt to his hooves, making a mighty counter attack!

You roll to grapple target Cadet Shining Armor. You roll a natural twenty. Automatic critical success!

Button grabbed his brother’s neck, taking him completely by surprise. The tables turned, Button now commenced his own special tickling attack. “How does it feel, lawful landlubber! Taste your own medicine!”

You roll a Tickle Attack versus target Shining Armor. You roll a seven (plus one). Low effectiveness.

Shining wheezed, “‘Thine,’ Button, not ‘your.’”

“Oh. Sorry,” Button recovered quickly. “Taste THINE own medicine!”

You roll a Tickle Attack versus target Shining Armor. You roll a fourteen (plus one). High effectiveness!

Shining rolled around, howling with laughter.

“Boys!” A deep voice shouted from downstairs. “It’s time to get ready! You’ll have plenty of time to play tonight!”

“Okay Dad!” The colts shouted down the stairs.

“You win this round, Captain Smarty Pants, but I shall triumph, come nightfall!” Shining boomed as Button offered him a hoof to help him up.

“Oh, Captain Armor. How wrong you are…” Button replied before they both let out a stream of very un-stallion-like giggles.

“Hurry up! Pancakes are cooking!” Mom said.

Shining raced away to his room, and Button hummed as he turned on the hot water.

Combat complete. Victory! Forty-two experience points awarded.

Button cocked his head to the side. “That’s weird,” he muttered. And yet, something about the voice just felt… Right. I didn’t seem to worry him at all. In fact, it probably hadn’t even been there in the first place.

Button Mash, I have turned off Game Master voice to your character’s mind. Now, only you, the player, will hear it. But he can still hear you.

Oh, sweet!

“Huh?” Button Shine said as he stepped into the shower. He could have sworn that he’d heard something…


Button jumped into his chair down at the breakfast table, a grin plastered across his face. He grabbed a fork and knife while his mom slid a steaming pile of blueberry pancakes in front of him.

“Oh, wow mom. This is rad! We should, like TOTALLY do this more often!” Shining Armor said, stuffing his face from his own plate.

“Uh uh! Not until we say grace!” Night Light chided, lowering his newspaper.

All four ponies bowed their head, until Shining blurted out, “Grace!”

“Shining…” Twilight Velvet said.

“Fine… Thank you Faust for this food, and for my wonderful mommy who cooked it. Amen,” Shining said, looking to his parents for approval.

“Better,” Night Light smiled. “Remember, the saying of grace is a great tradition going back centuries, as is the belief in Faust the Creator. Regardless of the truth of the tradition, it is a great way to express thanks to those who served you, and to—”

“Keep you humble. Yeah yeah, I know, I know,” Shining grumbled, digging into his pancakes.

“Maple syrup or strawberry, Button?” Twilight asked, levitating both containers over.



Button cocked his head to the side in confusion.

“Did you say strawberry?” Twilight asked, pushing it toward him.

Influencing your character using your prior knowledge or preferences requires a roll, just like any action your character makes. Your skill in doing so will grow in time. You roll an influence check. You roll a seventeen (plus zero.) Success!

“Actually, I think I’ll have maple this time, Mom,” Button said, reaching for the brown syrup. He poured a bunch of it over his pancakes before following his brother’s example and brutally attacking his food.

Oh, yeeeeaaaaaah…

“Mmm, good!” Button said, syrup dripping from the corner of his mouth.

“Button, mind your manners! If you’re accepted into the School, you’ll have to be on your very best behavior,” Twilight chided.

“And it’s better to start sooner rather than later,” Night Light agreed.

“Haha, glad I’m not going to some fancy-schmancy school!” Shining guffawed, putting his pancakes into his mouth with his hooves.

“Young stallion, if you are accepted into the JROTC program today, the expectations will be even higher for you.” Night Light handed his elder son a napkin and a fork. “You will eventually be an officer of the Royal Guard, and you will be the public face of the Princess. And the public face of the Princess eats his food with utensils.”
Button stuck his tongue out at the abashed colt, who replied in kind.

Thirty minutes later, the family walked out of the house to the taxi outside that had been awaiting their arrival. Button shrugged his shoulders, readjusting the saddlebags stuffed with his supplies and one super-secret hidden stuffed doll.

Aww, Smarty Pants is so cute! He reminds me of Gandalf, my stuffed elephant back home!

Button smiled. The voice seemed odd, but something about it was just so reassuring.

“Where to, folks?” The driver asked.

“First, off to Cer B. A. Blueblood Highschool, then… To Princess Celestia’s Palace!” Night Light replied, beaming down at his two smiling colts. “Big days for both of them! Shiny here is going to a one day basic training for his JROTC, and Button is taking the entrance exam for Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns!”

“Well, that’s mighty fine, sir! You must have some gifted youngsters there!” The driver took off at a slow trot once the family had piled in. “Gives a bunch of hope to a new father like myself!”

“Oh, just had your first little one?” Twilight asked.

“Yes, ma’am! My wife just gave birth to our little ray of sunshine last week! Why, just this morning, she managed to undo her gate with her magic, and started flying herself around the room! It was the cutest thing! It was so sweet that my wife…” The driver continued on, but Button’s mind was elsewhere.

Woah, this is so WEIRD!

The Summer Sun Celebration. Button remembered standing there, seeing her raise the sun. That moment, the time that had inspired him to study magic. And he remembered all the moments after, the long nights of joyful studying, the days spent with his nose in a book while Shiny was busy playing with his friends.

A grin spread across Button’s face. Today. Today, his dreams would come true. Hopefully.

Pfft, we got this in the BAG!

Button smiled at the reassuring words, even if he was the only one that heard them.

Hey,uh… Just so you know, you’re not crazy. There’s a reason for me being here, and I should probably ex—
The voice stopped suddenly, and Button creased his eyebrows at the oddity. The voice didn’t return for a while…


They dropped Shining off in front of the school park. He said his goodbyes quickly, and from there left to join the veritable herd of other young stallions standing about waiting for their orientation. Button gave his brother a hug and watched him go, but his mind still dwelled elsewhere. He didn’t even notice when the drove off, heading right for the palace.

The palace. Just the thought of it sent shivers down Button’s spine. Excitement? Fear? Button couldn’t tell.

The city seemed to zoom by, and before he knew it, they parked at the very entrance to the imposing structure.

“Well, good luck in there little stallion! I’m sure you’ll do great!” The driver gave him a kind smile, and Button nodded numbly in response. Night Light settled the bill and passed a rather large tip while Twilight and Button made their way into the entranceway.

A sign pointed them deeper into the castle, but they waited for a moment until Night Light caught back up with them.

“What a nice stallion,” Twilight Velvet said.

“Very. I do enjoy it when we get the good drivers. We’ll have to watch out for him again,” Night Light agreed.

“Ah, visitors!” A pony with a dignified business suit said as she walked toward the family. “Welcome! Are you here for the tour, or for the School testing?”

“The testing, ma’am,” Night Light said.

“Oh, you don’t have to call me ma’am. I work for a living.” The mare giggled. “I’m Jiffy Floo, and I work for the school’s board. If you’ll follow me, we can get your little one all ready for the tests.” She knelt down to Button’s eye level. “You don’t have to be afraid, cutie. The tests aren’t scary, and the administrators are some of my best friends, and you’ll never meet gentler ponies.”

“See Button? It’ll be just fine,” Twilight reassured.

Button nodded. Hey, I can talk again! Dude, you don’t need to worry. You’re INT score has to be soooo high, because you know stuff that I could never figure out back in Po— The voice cut out once more.

“This way please!” Jiffy said happily, leading the three ponies deeper into the castle. Eventually, they came to a roped off section marked ‘Testing in progress. Please be respectful!’ A long line stood along the soft velvet rope. There had to have been at least thirty other unicorns here… And Button knew that the only class each year only took ten ponies… And more ponies were coming up behind him.

Button gulped. Maybe it wasn’t as much of a sure thing as he’d thought…

“Okay, if you’ll get into line, they’ll have you fill out some paperwork, and then the testing will begin. I have to go back to greet more ponies now, but there will be another guide to help you when you get to the desk!” Jiffy gave Button another smile. “Good luck!”

It took half an hour to reach the front of the line. As the other foals and their parents entered the room, another would exit. By Button’s count, there were six stations, since it took six ponies entering for the same pony who had entered earlier to exit out the other side. And every pony who had exited left with slumped shoulders… Or tears streaming down their face. Button’s nervousness only increased.

Finally, they came to a smiling mare sitting behind a desk. “What’s your name, little one?” She asked.

“Button Shine,” he replied shyly.

“Ma’am,” Twilight whispered to him.

“Uh, Button Shine, ma’am,” Button corrected while blushing.

“So polite!” The mare gave him another sweet smile. Actually, all the adult ponies were smiling very kindly… But that didn’t seem to help the sobbing fillies and colts who were exiting the testing area.

“Here’s a name tag for you,” she said as she gave Button a sticker with his name on it. “And we have your paperwork right here! Now, if you’ll go into the first room, your parents will be able to fill out the paperwork while you take the first exam!” She gestured them into the first room.

Button opened the door with a trembling hoof and stuck his head into the doorway. The room was well lit, and within it were several chairs and an elderly mare sitting behind a desk. She smiled and waved them closer. “Over here, young stallion.”

Button took a seat at the chair across the desk from her. His parents sat at the chairs behind him and began filling out his paperwork.

The mare pulled out several sheets of paper and set them down in front of Button. “So, Mister Shine, is it?”

Button blushed. “No, I’m just Button, ma’am.”

The mare scribbled something down on a notepad. “Very well then Button. Now, you have taken an aptitude test at school before, haven’t you?” When Button nodded, she continued. “That’s all that this is. The questions aren’t very hard to start with, but they continue to increase in difficulty as you go. Please, get started.” She slid a pencil across the table to him. When he reached for it with his hoof, she stopped him. “No, use your magic.”

Button swallowed and concentrated. He put all his effort into his magic and…

You roll a Spellcast Check. You roll a two (plus ten). You succeed!

Wow, success on a two? Aww yeah, min-maxxing, here I come!

Button lifted the pencil with a sigh and started the test.

Five minutes later, he wiped sweat from his brow as he finished the last question.

“Well, that was fast!” The mare said. “It usually takes a good bit longer than that!”

“I’ve always been good at tests, ma’am,” Button replied. He gave a weak smile, some of his fear abated. If it’s just tests, it’ll be fine. He was good at tests.

So THIS is what being smart feels like! Heh, kinda makes me wished I’d played less video games before— And just like that, the voice disappeared yet again.

Button smiled at the voice, which the mare misunderstood to be directed at her. “Well, I’m glad you’re feeling more comfortable.” She scratched something more into her notebook. “Just remember, the fact that you are here means that you are special. You’re already a winner.”

Night Light put his hoof on his son’s shoulder. “She’s right, Button.” He smiled at the instructor.

They left the room, but had to wait for the pony in the next room to finish before they could proceed. “I don’t agree,” Button muttered.

“What was that?” Twilight asked.

“What she said about already being a winner. I don’t think so… I think that if I had already won that I’d be okay with failing, and I’m not. I want to win.”

“Button, it’s not a competition,” Night Light chided.

“It is, Dad! There are at least forty of us, and only ten spots, so we have to compete for them! If I think that I’ve already won, then I won’t try as hard, and then somepony else will try harder, and then they’ll win!” Button’s sides heaved. “And I NEED to win this!”


Twilight sighed. “Button. You don’t ‘win’ by being the best. We love you, so you’re already a winner.” She kissed his head. “Just enjoy it, Button. It’s an amazing opportunity.”

Button began to reply, but the door opened just then to allow him into the next part of the exam.

Almost an hour later, Button stood before the door to the final test room. His parents stood beside him, just as they had in the puzzle test room, the spell memorization test, and the mental agility course. Button thought that he had past all of them with flying colors, and his parent’s huge smiles seemed to agree. But still, a sliver of doubt remained.

Finally, the doors opened to him, and he saw a large open room that seated several judges. He stepped inside, and fear rushed over him.

He walked into the center of the room, looking at the three judges. These didn’t smile even a bit. He gulped, looking from side to side. His parents gestured for him to smile, so he did. A scared and rather forced one, but a smile nonetheless.

Another door opened, and Button jumped slightly. A stallion wheeled in a wooden cart that held a small pile of hay and a spotted purple egg. No, a spotted purple dragon egg. Button bit his lip, looking at it and then at the judges.

“Well, Mr. Shine?”

Button looked at them, then back at the egg. He laughed nervously, and the judges immediately whipped out notepads and scribbled furiously. Button broke into a cold sweat, his lip quivering.

Oh crap. Even I know that dragons are tough to affect with magic… Duuuude…

“Well, Mr. Shine?” The judge repeated. Another coughed before returning his gaze to the nervous unicorn.

Button turned back to the egg. He focused himself completely, steeling himself to cast the spell…

You roll a Spellcast Check. You roll a one. Automatic Failure.


Button’s spell fizzled out. He tried with all his might, but he… Just… Couldn’t…

One of the judges yawned. The other, the one who had spoken, looked at her watch. “We don’t have all day,” she said derisively.

Button felt panic threaten to overcome him. He tried. And tried. And tried…

You roll a Spellcast Check. You have a Destiny penalty of minus fifty to this roll. You roll a nineteen (minus forty). Spell failure.

Dude, no way! What is this junk?

Sometimes you have to fail to succeed…

No matter what he did, Button could not do anything to the egg.

He gathered all his reserves for one final attempt, but…

You roll a Spellcast Check. You have a Destiny p—

Yeah, yeah. Penalty, fail. Whatever.

...But to no avail. He collapsed to the floor, his energy spent. He raised his head with slumped shoulders. Dejected. Beaten. Loser.

“I’m sorry I wasted your time…”

The judges scribbled onto their pads as he knelt ashamedly. But then, the sound of a great explosion ripped through the air. Magic suddenly filled Button, and his horn glowed with an intense power. Pain ripped through his body, and a beam of pure magical energy shot into the egg. It rose into the air, glowing with a bright light, and then…

You roll a Spellcast Check. You have a Destiny bonus of plus fifty. You roll a four (plus sixty). Critical Success!

It opened, revealing a baby purple and green dragon. Button screamed from the shock, his eyes widened, and everything went white. Purple energy and bolts of magic shot out from him, filling the room. He lifted the judges, transformed his parents into plants, and somehow made the baby dragon full sized, causing him to smash half the tower open.

The magic continued to arc out from Button until he felt a hoof on his shoulder. He controlled himself well enough to turn, only to see—

Princess Celestia. The shock and shame of having her see him like this broke the magic’s hold over him. The judges fell to the floor, his parents returned to their proper shape, and the dragon became a baby once more and immediately began sucking on its own tail.

“Button Shine…” The Princess began.

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” Button stammered. “I didn’t m—”

“You have a very special gift,” Celestia continued. “I don’t think I’ve ever come across a unicorn with your raw abilities.”

Button’s jaw dropped. “Huh?”

She isn’t mad? Dude, we blew up half the castle! Why isn’t she mad?

“But you need to learn to tame these abilities through focused study,” the Princess said earnestly.


“Button Shine, I’d like to make you my own personal protege here at the school!”

Buttons eyes widened in complete shock. His mouth gaped, and he looked right into the Princess’ eyes.

“Well?” She asked, smiling.

He turned to his parents. They nodded excitedly, and his dad even whinnied slightly.

“YEEEEEEEES!” Button yelled leaping into the air.

Celestia chuckled. “And one other thing.”

Button’s eyes went wide as saucers. “MORE?” He fell to the ground and laid sprawled out before the Princess. She pointed a hoof to his flank, drawing his eyes to his cutie mark.

His cutie mark.

“My cutie mark?”

Our cutie mark?




Okay, I think that’s enough…

You roll an influence check. You roll an eighteen (minus fifteen.) Failure.

Oh, what? But a seventeen succeeded last time!

Yes, but last time your character was indifferent. This time, he is passionate about something. It’s his cutie mark. Let him have this one.

Oh, alright. Oh, do I get to keep the dragon?

Phil chuckled. I guess you’ll have to wait and see…

Author's Note:

Well, this segment went WAAAAY longer than I wanted. I had hoped to get further into the story than this, but about 4k words is about the limit of what I want to post per chapter. Hopefully I'll have another chapter up tomorrow or the next day, since it is a part that I am very excited about writing. Thanks for reading, and tank you for keeping the story on the popular list pretty much since it was published! Rock on guys!