• Published 16th Oct 2014
  • 2,386 Views, 1,750 Comments


The finale of the Pony POV Series is here. Discord and Nightmare Diamond Tiara's end game is here. The Mane Six. Trixie. The Cutie Mark Crusaders. All have roles to play. Can they bring back the truth? Or will lies rule? Can hope pierce despair?

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Return of the Cutie Mark Crusaders

Uhhh, what...what happened? Hey, I remember this, I was with Chryssy when the changelings took over Canterlot! This it the royal ballroom! There's Chryssy looking like Princess Cadence, there's Applejack, and there's me and Spike!

Sweetie Belle commanded, "You just rest now, Spike, and relive your favorite memories and dreams of my big sister as much as you want."

A grin slowly spread on Spike's face as he sat down like a lump.

Sweetie then spoke with the other brainwashed pony in the room.

"Don't feel so bad, Applejack, since you're brainwashed, you don't have to feel embarrassed or ashamed. You don't have to worry about ponies think of you. You can play the fiddle and nopony will judge you for it.

"I command you: tell me honesty, am I wrong?"

"N-no, yer not," AJ said sincerely.

"There. That wasn't so hard, was it?" Sweetie gently patted her on the side.

"Ah can't say," AJ said, confused, "What yer doin' is wrong, Lady Sweetie, but Ah can't say Ah don't feel a little less heavy for that."

"That's enough, Applejack."

"Yes, yer Majesty."

"You really need to be nice to them, Chryssy."


"Rarity, Applejack and Rainbow Dash are nice to Opal, Winona, and Tank, oh, those are their pets. They're their masters, but they're still nice to them."

"Why bother? They obey either way."

"Maybe, but if you're nice, it helps you be friends."

"Friends? Why? They're property."

"So are pets. But you should still keep good care of them. Besides, the goings gets rough, you always want as many friends as you can, I didn't have any friends once, it was horrible...Chryssy, would you like to dance with me?"

"W-what?" Chrysalis took a trot back. The monster blushed.

"We have the whole ballroom to ourselves."

"Well, not exactly alone,” Chrysalis whispered, pointing to her guards and cattle.

"Don't worry Chryssy, if they really respect you, you having a little fun won't change that."

The witch rubbed the back of her head. "Well, it's just it's been… a while."

"All the more reason to." The filly witchling smiled. Then gave the pout face that had worked on Rarity so often. "Please?"

"A-Alright," the queen awkwardly took Sweetie Belle's hoof. "But I think I'm a little big for you."

"You can fix that, right?"

"Oh...oh yes." Chrysalis in a flash of green flames became a filly Sweetie Belle's age.

Heh, Chryssy was so adorable like that! I know now Chryssy did awful things, but why couldn't anypony see but that awful things weren't all Chryssy did?"

"...Sweetie Belle, would you… please dance with me?"

Sweetie make a awkward formal bow. "Of course Chryssy, I mean, Your Majesty!" The way Sweetie Belle laughed the last part, devoid of any seriousness.

Applejack played a peaceful tune, and the fillies danced.

Chrysalis slipped and fell. "OW!"

The disguised changeling guards moved to help their queen, Sweetie Belle beat them to it. Chryssy looked up to see Sweetie Belle offering her hold. She helped the other filly back up.

"Sorry, Sweetie Belle."

"It's okay, Chryssy, Rarity tells me that it takes time to get back into practice with something. But you have to believe you can get it back."

"Sweetie Belle, thank you."

The scene changed.

Where is this? That big view of Canterlot! There's Chryssy, with lots of bottles around her! There's Princes Cadence, and Shining Armor. There's Twilight and her friends. Hey! I don't remember this! Was this when they used the Elements to fix up Chryssy?...I...I recognized her when I saw her as Cadence...I didn't think about it before, I just knew it was her...But how can I remember this when I wasn't even here?

"So the ponies have overcome my final defense, and now are here to murder me," Chryssy slurred, then her eyes focused on Twilight and Princess Cadence. "You there Twilight Sparkle? I guess fate wouldn't allow me to change that. Cadence? I told my changelings to keep you away. So, everything turned out the way it did before after all."


Huh? What am I doing here?!

"Sweetie Belle? What are you doing here?! You shouldn't have come here!" Chryssy sounding like Rarity when she talked to me about trying tiger taming. "You!" She pointed at Rarity. "How could you bring her here?! You shouldn't have her here!"

"Believe me it was not my intent at all!" Rarity shot back. "Sweetie Belle, I told you to go back! You abandoned Spike and the others! Why don't you ever listen to any of us?! You are in serious trouble young-"

"Chryssy you can still stop this!" Sweetie Belle ignored her big sister.

"Sweetie Belle I gave my answer! It's too late to stop any of this! I've sacrificed too much to not see this through to the end! Listen to your big sister and LEAVE!"

"NO!" Sweetie Belle stomped her hoof. "You don't have me under mind magic anymore, so I don't have to do what you say!"

"...I...I'm sorry Sweetie Belle...I guess fate can't let me even pretend to be happy."

"YOU'RE LYING!" Sweetie Belle snapped. "YOU WERE HAPPY!"

"...So let's hear it. The elongated speeches, the moral grand standing, the tough-mare trash talk, the derisive one liners, I'm a very busy mare and I haven't got all day."

"You're gonna have nothing but time when you're collecting pigeons alongside Discord!" Rainbow Dash snapped.

When Chrysalis turned her head Rarity grabbed Sweetie in her telekinesis and pulled her back. Sweetie Belle's horn glowed and broke Rarity's grip. She bounded towards the queen, who crept back like the filly was a bomb.

"Stay back Sweetie Belle! You meant nothing to me! You were only a pawn! You're no use to me now! Get away! I was only using you!"


"A monster is all you want to see her as!"

"THAT'S BECAUSE SHE IS! She's trying to bucking suck the love out of all of Equestria and turn everypony into zombies! HOW MUCH MORE OF A MONSTER DO YOU WANT TO GET?!" Rainbow Dash exasperated.

"Dashie has a point," Pinkie Pie admitted.

"You're right...she is a monster . . ." She looked back at Chrysalis. "The worst kind. A lonely one. It really IS awful not to have any friends isn't it Chryssy? Please, just stop you said you had the power to tell fate it couldn't tell you what to do. If you keep doing all this, aren't you doing more of what fate wants you to do?"

Chrysalis lowered her head, limp. "I'm sorry Sweetie Belle...I'm sorry I can't be this Chryssy you want me to be. It's not fair to you at all...I tried so hard, and I got so far, but in the end, it didn't even matter. No matter what choice I make, I'll always be fate's puppet. Fate has declared me the villain, and the villain is always destine to lose...if you came here...to this place...at this time...I promised myself that I was done playing, I was done trying. But I was scared-"

A force field formed around Chrysalis' legs and wings.

Cadence had freed Shining Armor from Chrysalis' mind control.


Twilight simply teleported Sweetie out of the way...except...Sweetie's own magic interfered with the simple spell, consciously deflecting it.

Rainbow Dash zoomed in to try and simply push the filly out of the way, she temporarily blinded RD with a flash spell.

"Oh for crying out loud, back down, Little Miss Stockholm Syndrome!" Fluttercruel snarled.

"...Sweetie Belle, I once had a vision where Maua took the power from me to save me, and it turned her into a monster instead...I realize now what went wrong. Her soul, wasn't the same as mine. I was afraid the same would happen to you...now I understand...just as I surrendered everything I was to Cadence in one world and it didn't destroy her...Sweetie Belle, I give you all my love."

Sweetie Belle's eyes widened. "Chryssy! No! Don't do-"

Chrysalis nuzzled Sweetie Belle. Light flashed.

When it cleared...Chrysalis' lifeless empty carapace lay on the floor. And Sweetie Belle, looking at herself in confusion, and a pair of Alicorn wings on her back. And a cutie mark on her flanks. A large eighth-note with a small crown centered on the stem of the note.

Chryssy...why did you . . .

The next thing she knew, Hercules was declaring.

"The queen is dead, long live the queen!"

This is...what would have happened, if I'd been there?

Sweetie's first command had been to quickly tell the changeling army to stand down.

They were quick to obey. She was Her Majesty's successor, to defy her will was treason. She was a foal, but Her Majesty was not to be contradicted.

And Twilight and Princess Luna had been searching her mind for any trace of Chrysalis and finding none. They found a non-presence, but they didn't feel any hostility, or anything.

Changelings were already saying that Pitcher Plant, Chrysalis' ward back at the hive, should be legally made Acting Regent immediately until Her Majesty came of age, while Princess Sweet Belle undergo proper metamorphosis at once (since having a non-changeling as queen they argued was madness). But the senior Alicorns had presented the logical argument that since Alicorns embodied all tribes, Sweetie Belle was already part of the changelings tribe.

"She made royalty before I did," Rarity said to herself in awe.

A shadowless filly cringed in pain as the fusion took place, toppling off the side of the building into an alleyway, love filling her.

"Huh?! What was that?!"


Ah'm sittin' in Ponyville's new movie theater.

The movie screen showed:

-The Following Preview Has Not Been Approved For All Audiences, Viewer Discretion Is Advised.-

Ah don't like the sound of that, but Ah can't get up from mah seat, and Ah can't look away.

"Ah'd ask if ya'd like some popcorn, but ya ain't gonna have much appetite soon."

In the corner of my vision Ah saw sittin' in the next seat over-

"-Nightmare Applejack!"

"Nightmare Mirror, Nightmare MIRROR, for Pete's sake, Apple Bloom!"

"But ya ARE honestly Applejack, aren't cha?"

"...Just keep callin' me 'Nightmare Mirror,' pretty please? It'll just give ya heartbreak, otherwise. Now pipe down, Apple Bloom. Ya'd wanna miss seein' this preview, but it's for Equestria's own good."

"Don't ya mean fer mah own good?"

"E'nope. Well... insofar as yer part of 'Equestria...'"

Ah saw the fog, Ah saw it sweep through everything and everypony like they weren't even there. It wasn't just Ponyville, though that's where it started. It...it spread out everywhere...over Equestria and past that, and reachin', reachin' up past the moon! Mah heart was hammerin' in mah chest!

The view switched around like a slideshow... some fancy camera trick. Ah...Ah saw the fog sweep straight through Miss Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Spike, Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, Miss Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Sweetie's parents, ponies and changelings Ah didn't know, Granny, Big Mac, all lookin' surprised an' confused, then, they were so scared, and finally...poof, it was like there was a completely different pony on the inside. Everythin' changes with 'em, Ah know it's the same place, but it ain't the right place!!!

Ah see Miss Rarity, she's holdin' a picture of herself and Miss Cheerilee as fillies along with... Ah think it's Ruby's mom. Ah didn't know they were friends as foals. Then the fog sweeps through her, she isn't holdin' the picture, she was never holdin' the picture, she's hurt, why is she smilin'?

Ah see Rumble's big brother, Thunderlane, and Alula's big sister Cloud Kicker. And Ah thought Big Mac was shy around girls, these two look like they can't even look each other in the eye. Then the fog, and here are lots of mares around Thunderlane, and lots of stallions around Cloud Kicker, what? Where are they? They sure are actin' super nice with everypony, uh, maybe a little too nice, huh, what are they-

Silver Spoon! Twist! They're just trottin' through the fog, like they don't care 'bout anythin', like they're cogs in some machine. Was that me and Scoots and Sweetie all asleep they just walked by?! They didn't even look at us! They're trottin' towards some place Ah don't know with lots of red lights.

Ah see Diamond Tiara's ma in Canterlot as everythin' twists about, and also some odd-colored royal guard Ah don't know. Ah don't get to see 'em twisted or nothin', Ah don't wanna! Ah don't wanna see any of this! Is that Clousdale?! Rainbow Dash's house?! Cloud-Kicker? Rainbow Dash? Ah can't tell! What's happenin' to it?! No no no! Ah don't wanna see more, please-

The movie suddenly ended, the movie screen went blank.

"What? How did-WHISPER!!!" Nightmare AJ shouted behind me.

Ah could turn my head now and Ah looked to see the projector unplugged, with the cord in Fluttershy's mouth. Well...a Fluttershy with butterfly wings and a horn and dragon eyes and a inside out cutie mark....Where the heck did all these Nightmares come from!??!?!

"I'm sorry Applejack, but I just can't let you subject Apple Bloom to any more of that."

"She's gonna face this garbage sooner than later! Best she get over the shock NOW instead of when she might die 'cuz she panicked!"

Die?...I remembered Sunny Town.

"All the same, I can't stand by and let you traumatize her in good conscience."

"Sure! Let's not give her some nightmares she's gonna have anyway when she this is over and instead lessen our chances that she gets through this in one piece!"

Ah thought...Ah thought of all the rough things Applejack had done to me, for me over the years.

"Ya do care about me," Ah said. The two big Alicorns just looked at me.

Nightmare Applejack spat air. "This ain't how yer world is supposed to be. Never was. Ah'm sick of it. Ah've been sick of it fer a real long time. Ah'm the Nightmare of Truth, Ah hate lies more than anythin', but Ah still hate the flank-hole-pit Discord turned the world into. And Ah'll be damned before Ah ever let yer world end up as bad as that again."

She didn't look like Nightmare Moon, neither did Nightmare Fluttershy...they didn't look mean. Instead, they looked sad.

"Miss Fluttershy...can ya plug the projector back in? Ah...Ah wanna see the rest of the preview."

Applejack sighed ruefully. "Sorry darlin', but the opportunity's slipped by. Yer about ta wake up again." She glared at Nightmare Fluttershy who wilted a bit. "'Bloom, please, Ah can see in yer eyes. Please don't feel sorry fer me. You and yer friends, be careful."

Ah reached out ta hug 'er, but that was when Ah woke up.


The Nightmare's Gallery

"Bloom was supposed to think Truth was the only way tah stop this whole mess and become a Nightmare, or better yet go out the other side as an Alicorn. But so long as she clings tah her friends, she ain't callin' the Spirits of Dark Magic at all."

"So Jackie, … ya gonna gonna gonna nudge things along so so so...Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle get separated form Apple Bloom?"


"Huh huh huh? But you love love love the truth more than anything!"

"Yep. Even if she did go Nightmare, Ah knew that she'd put stoppin' this big cruel lie above 'convertin' her friends and still help 'em save the world. If she went all the way and became an Alicorn? Then Ah know she wouldn't have abandoned them. The truth is that Ah gambled and didn't win. Are yah upset about that?"

"Nope nope nope! Just surprised...you can be really...what's the word? Pragmatic sometimes...no offense."

"Thought so...Now let's see if we can make it so we don't lose and Discord doesn't win."

"I got Trixie and her imaginary friend all set up in Trottingham and Dashie helped Celestia stop herself from...doing things before things got settled."

"Good. And Fluttershy and Spike?"

"She's trying to spread some kindly lies and kinda sorta lies to counter the nasty ones, but there are just so many! Spike's getting tired just running around trying to keep ponies from dying before the fillies can fix this. But-but we can be everywhere Jackie!"

"...Good thing we can still be a well oiled machine even if Nightmare Eclipse is gone."


Blanky climbed out of the saddlebag Sweetie Belle had been holding him in. Blanky, the strange 'puppy' that Sweetie Belle had adopted that only she could see.

The pup looked at the three still-sleeping fillies. Shadowy snakes were slithering towards them, driven by instinct towards the ponies who were the targets of the rumors that spawned them.

Blanky growled at them in disgust. They were not like the shadows who inhabited the living wasteland outside existence...those shadows were imprints, empty hoofsteps. Blanky could SMELL it on them, how much these things less than that.

When he bit and snarled at them, they dissolved back into the lies they were made of. More came towards Sweetie Belle, and the wolf howled, giving the No-Thing snakes pause a moment too long as he tore them to pieces. The fillies sleeping like chicks in their nest, oblivious to the things around them coming from all directions, the puppy moved like lightning, pieces going this way and that.

Blanky before had held himself back to avoid harming that which belonged...

Blanky saw a pony's shadow of existence slip out of the fog. The wolf pup bared its teeth, ready to send it back where it belonged. But... the shadow was eating the snakes? Blanky tilted his head. The snakes themselves acted if they couldn't even see or feel the shadow desperately gobbling them up.

What was it trying to do? Echoes could not create new lights of existence for themselves; it was as riduculous as holes trying to fill thesmelves. A echo of existence that was 'rescued' from Oblivion would still be an empty shell, it could not 'develop' a new light of existence, that was the fantasy of the desperate.

The shadow finally looked up from its gorging, saw Blanky, let out a soundless scream, and fled back through the fog.


'Ya and yer friends wanted ta enter the world of adults, Scootaloo? Welp, here ya are. And ya can never leave. Ain't it just peachy?!'

I hear Applejack, but-not-Applejack's words echo in my head. I've just had the longest dream of my life. It felt like it took months for that dream to end. What is UP with that?!...Except I get the feeling it wasn't quite a dream...First I remember a fairytale life I used to have because I refused to trust Twilight after she used me for her rescue scheme that backfired...now...now I get told...Is anything real?

There really are a bajillion other Scootaloos out there? But...none of those Scootaloos are 'me' me.

I wish I could say everything that happened before that dream was just a dream too, that it was just the quadruple-alarm chili I ate last night...except what Miss Void said was Absolutely True. No two ways about it...I'm scared.


The three fillies lay still together as their minds returned from the dreaming world, feeling a peace so deep it was like nothingness. The fillies resisted fully awakening as they snuggled into the cloak Mis Void had placed on them.

But when they woke, the foals felt that cloak break apart and change shape, wrapping itself slightly around their necks. They all looked around, seeing each other first, Scootaloo experiencing a stronger relief than the others at this. Their eyes focused just in time to see the cloak, now broken into three, finish changing colors and form into,

"Our Crusader capes?" Apple Bloom asked. "But hadn't we left 'em at the clubhouse?"

Scootaloo tilted her head. "Mis Void's cloak turned INTO them?"

All thoughts relating to WHY this was happened or how were swiftly pushed aside when Sweetie Belle gasped as the 'doggy' leapt to Sweetie Belle's forelegs, politely accepting her nuzzle. "I told you not to come out of my saddlebag, Blanky."

"Blanky?" Apple Bloom echoed. Closing one eye, then the other, she was feeling a headache.

Sweetie looked up. "You can see him?"

"Of course Ah can, well," Apple Bloom shook her head, "Ah can see 'im in one eye. It's like half mah brain knows he's there, but the other half doesn't! I know that don't make sense!"

Scootaloo looked at Sweetie Belle, for one moment it was like she was holding thin air, then a canine-shaped ghostly shimmer faded into view. And, in that shimmer she saw eyes that focused first on her new mane braid and then on the pinecone pendant around her neck.

Blanky growled at Scootaloo. Likewise a part of Scootaloo told her this mutt was just Bad News and she flattened her ears and her tail twitched.

"That's not nice, Blanky. Scootaloo is a friend," Sweetie Belle said, and the pup stopped growling, but continued to eye Scootaloo with what could be called contempt. Scootaloo returned the look. "But," Sweetie asked. "How can you see Blanky? Only I could see him before."

"See 'im?" Apple Bloom asked. "Sweetie Belle, you know this wolf?"

"He's not a wolf, he's a doggy, and he followed me home yesterday. He's got a weird trick: any stuff he eats, everypony forgets it was even there!"

Scootaloo experienced a chilly feeling in the pit of her stomach and took a trot back.

"Sweetie Ah've seen timberwolves and farm dogs like Winona enough to know the difference between dogs and wolves. That there critter's a wolf. And what do ya mean anythin' he eats everypony forgets?"

"Just what I said! And not jus that! He can make ponies forget about stuff, I broke a vase the other day, but then Blanky just fixed it and Rarity forget it was ever broken!"

"He fixed it himself?"

"I dunno, I looked away, and it was fixed when I looked back."

"Sounds REALLY useful!" said Apple Bloom, looking at Blanky with bright eyes. "If something comes up, could Ah borrow him from ya?"

"Guys, we've got bigger problems." Scootaloo injected, the first to take in their surroundings.

"Where's Mis Void?" Sweetie Belle asked, first to notice that the mare was gone. It crossed the other two Crusader's minds that their benefactor was missing, remembering they had seen her painfully changed into somepony completely different. They shuddered. So many new and strange things were happing so fast to the fillies they couldn't keep up.

But even Sweetie Belle put aside poor Miss Void's fate as she and Apple Bloom looked around them.

In Scootaloo's memories from before she was born, the filly remembered an outdoor cafe she had worked at as an older pony wearing roller skates on her back-hoofs and seamlessly carrying objects with her front hooves like Pinkie Pie could. She remembered a darkening sky, the world turning gray, and not even noticing the place she'd served milkshakes to her friends vanishing.

Once upon a time, Scootaloo's parents had taken Scootaloo to Clouddale's hospital for a checkup, she had gotten bored in the waiting room and snuck off. In one room she looked in, she saw a pegasus asleep. But he looked too still, too quite, the sound of machines in the room hooked up to him beeping and bubbling making her stomach turn, she never looked back as she ran back to the waiting room to her parents who scolded her for wandering off.

Now Scootaloo felt like the whole world was hook up to those machines, and everything had that same faded feeling of the home from before she was born, of something important just missing but she couldn't tell what!

Sweetie Belle felt the ghost of an echo of an nightmare she couldn't remember and hugged Blanky tightly.

For Apple Bloom a much simpler comparison come to mind; she was back in Sunnytown discovering Ruby's corpse.

The sky was a completely dirty faded pink. The fillies couldn't tell if the circle of light in the sky was the sun or moon. The sky was either clear or overcast. It made their heads hurt, it was just so blank.

Fog covered the ground like a blanket, making it harder for Scoots to move through the mess. Everything faded in the dirty pink distance. The trees, the schoolhouse, the ground, everything was grittier, dirtier, detailed in all the wrong places, and lines not being as sharply defined.

No, not everything.

"Everything's changed but us," Apple Bloom said, looking at her friends, Sweetie Belle's puppy and saddlebag, and and their Crusader capes. Their bright colors stood out garishly in this faded and gritty world.

The fillies felt a spinning in their heads that went down to their stomaches looking at themselves and their surroundings. It was like they were wrong for the world.

"Rarity! Mom! Dad!" Sweetie Belle gasped. "Do you think they're okay?!"

Her friends had no idea how Sweetie thought they'd have an answer. Apple Bloom cringed when she remembered her dream, ponies, including Sweetie's parents, being twisted into things that were ponies and yet not ponies.

Scootaloo's eyes widened. "Cheerilee!" She gasped. "And Dash! Silver! Spike! Everypony inside! We gotta see if they're okay!"

Apple Bloom's heart crawled into her mouth as she thought of her family.

The fillies ran straight into the school.

The CMC stopped dead in their tracks, their mouths hanging open. If not for Miss Void's absolute words they'd truly believe they'd gone crazy or been transported to another reality.

Their classmates and teacher were like the world, more gritty and dirty, details in places there shouldn't have been details, moving about on their hind legs just a little bit easier. They fit in perfectly, they were a part of this altered world. They were talking among themselves with words just a little bit more 'mature' than they ought to have been. The whites of their eyes was more intensely white than the fillies had ever seen eyeballs get.

Was Snails wearing make-up?

Their classmates looked at them causally, not noticing anything outstandingly different about the fillies. Their attitude of normality sent a chill up Apple Bloom's spine. And bright red crayon drawings she knew she hadn't drawn with her initials on them at her desk . . .

Blanky crawled into Sweetie Belle's saddlebag, feeling conflicted. His instincts told him to eat everything he saw, but also he couldn't eat the ponies who he also had to eat; Blanky's head hurt. Everything belonged but didn't belong!

"Silver Spoon, Twist... they're not here," Sweetie Belle whispered.

"Well, Sweetie Belle, they do have special permission to be absent today, since they have responsibilities for Ponyville's community."

"Cheerilee!" Their sharp-eared teacher had been completely remade by the world, but they still recognized their teacher. She had a teal lilly in her hair.

"That's 'Miss Cheerilee,' Scootaloo. Please be polite," their beloved teacher said warmly.


"That's quite alright. Now girls, I didn't ask you to come back in."

"We're sorry Miss Cheerilee," Sweetie said, "But we were worried about you, when that big fog wall hit."

"Big what now?"

"...Never mind," Sweetie Belle lowered her head.

Ironically, it was Sweetie Belle who noticed first that the school clock was ticking, but it wasn't moving forward.

Apple Bloom wasn't speaking. She wasn't moving except for shaking in her horseshoes. Her eyes were glued to Miss Cheerilee like a deer in the headlights. Bile rose in her throat. Pain pounding her skull like a rail spike.

"What's wrong, Apple Bloom?" Her teacher asked kindly.

In one of Apple Bloom's eyes, she saw the same Cheerilee her friends did. In the other she something that might have been Cheerilee once. It was like a magenta pony-shaped skin sack with Cheerilee's cutie mark, filled with snakes wiggling and writhing underneath. The thing/Cheeilee turned its/her head towards Apple Bloom and hissed/spoke a mess of sounds squeezed together/softly as she always did with her beloved students. "Apple Bloom, you don't look well. Why don't you lie down? You need to be in top form for the play."

As it/she opened its/her mouth to speak, Apple Bloom saw several serpentine shapes looking at her from within.

Apple Bloom screamed her lungs out, and she ran out of the schoolhouse her eyes wild with fear.
At their friend's hysterical retreat, fear and confusion dancing in Sweetie and Scootaloo's minds, while their classmates were paralyzed with befuddlement.

"Apple Bloom! Get back here! Don't worry dears, I'll have a word with her sister over her behavior." Cheerilee put a hoof on Scootaloo's shoulder.

"RUN, LITTLE SISTER!" Shouted a young voice in Scootaloo's mind.

Scootaloo heard herself scream, her legs galloping before she could tell them to, her entire body reacting to the voice's plea, every instinct in her body telling her to escape. She barely had wits enough to go in the same general direction of Apple Bloom, "RUN! RUN! RUN!" She heard herself shouting.

Having seen her world turned inside out, having dreamed about things that hadn't happened, and seeing the world so drastically changed into something else except for her and her friends, Sweetie Belle's brain was paralyzed. Her friends wouldn't scream and run without a reason. Was the world getting to them? Why was she just standing here like a good student getting ready for the class play? Sweetie quivered like somepony struck a long bowstring with one end wrapped around her heart.


The headline flashed in Sweetie's mind like she read it before her eyes. Then a photo of Cheerilee grinning over her flower garden, ripping out a white and lavender flower by the roots, followed by a red and yellow flower, and a purple and orange flower...and tossing them all into a bonfire.

She had to stay in class, it was what she was supposed to do, it was what she was meant to do, it was what she needed to do. Prepare for the play. Show up for the play. It was needed, it was necessary, it was her purpose.

"NO!" Sweetie Belle finally screamed and ran after her friends, her tail barely missing a grab by Miss Cheerilee as she tried to stop her.


Sweetie Belle didn't stop running. Tears streamed from her eyes. Her legs screamed at her to turn around and go back to class this instant, her fear screamed louder. In her imagination there were thousands of hands grabbing and pulling at her, and every tense muscle made her imagine this harder. Green slashes of magic flew from her horn in every direction, attacking the indifferent fog. Noises, not words, like those of a panicking horse escaping her throat.

Blindly, Sweetie Belle banged head first against two other thick skulls, her horn thankfully missing. Falling on her rump, she dizzily saw four fillies looking at her before her vision righted itself.

The three fillies looked at each other speechless and confused, they had each come from a different directions, and now lay smarting in a circle. Hadn't they all run the same way?

Once upon a time, Scootaloo would have felt shame for leaving Sweetie Belle again and instead disloyally listening to fear. But instead she felt she had heeded a warning from somepony dear. Instinct was telling her if she hadn't run, she wouldn't have been able to help at all. She gripped her pinecone pendant.

Sweetie only felt relief for her friends, and Apple Bloom focused on the here, now, and soon to come, not the before.

The fillies spoke all at once, words spilling out unbidden, words coming a mile a minute and none of them hearing the others.

"-told me to run-" "-burning flowers-" "-leech-slug-snakes!-"

Their attempt at gathering their wits was shattered by a bestial roar.

Had the Crusaders known him personally, they might have recognized the necktie-and-headset wearer as Iron Will...if Iron Will's boisterous larger-than-life catch-phrase spouting was replaced with a savage look of insanity you'd see on a raging minotaur berserker from two-thousand years past. This was a monster, not a motivational speaker.

It came at them red eyed and with horns lowered.

The fillies screamed and ran together, having no chance to outrun the monster. They tried to move out of its path, but against the laws of psychics its path kept adjusting to keep them right where they'd be gorged and mauled. Scootaloo tried to fly with her friends, but her wing muscles went rigid as soon as she thought of it. Sweetie tried to use her magic but it came out as lifeless sparks.

Sweetie Belle tripped but Bloom without missing a beat took her up on her back and kept running for their lives.

Apple Bloom should leave her behind, better to have Sweetie Belle delay the monster for a few moments so her friends could get away.

"NO!" Apple Bloom shouted.

Though the monster was coming right at them, it was like time itself was slowly down, drawing out their suffering.

Apple Bloom considered bucking something, anything at the monster to slow it down, but there wasn't a single thing in their path. Bloom couldn't even see what Sweetie Belle had tripped over looking back.

Then there were many things in their path, big enough to obstruct their futile fleeing, but at the same time, not the right size or shape for the little Earth Pony to use in self defense.

Apple Bloom always was weak compared to the rest of her family, no wonder she wanted to get a cutie mark, any cutie mark, as long as it was her ticket out of doing farm work till the day she died.

Apple Bloom shudder. 'That's a lie!'

The foals all fell into a ditch and were completely defenseless against the rampaging minotaur coming straight at them like he had a personal vendetta against them. The fillies tried to climb out of the ditch but the earth crumbled when they tried to climb. It was coming closer. This was their death. Apple Bloom's eyes searched.

"There's a drain pipe!" Bloom shouted.

"Where?!" Sweetie shouted.

"Right there!" Bloom pointed.

"No there isn't!" Scootaloo shouted.

"THERE IS!" Apple Bloom snapped. Using her earth pony strength for all it was worth, she grabbed her friends and pushed them into a solid wall of dirt, smoothening them. She'd gone mad, and-

Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle looked around confused when they were suddenly face first in a storm drainpipe, just big enough for the foals to trot through. Apple Bloom quickly followed.

"HUH?!" Scooctaloo said, completely confused. It was like the day of chaos.

The minotaur bellowed, mindlessly reaching in trying to charge through the far too small pipe like an automaton. The fillies fled down the pipe's path.

Did Ponyville HAVE a drainage system? It was an old and traditionalist town after all, and- the fillies screamed again as an alligator came through the suddenly much larger pipe with jaws wide. The fillies found themselves between a rock and a hard place.

"GO UP! GRATE!" Apple Bloom shouted.

The muscles in Scootaloo's wings screamed like they were being ripped apart as she flew upwards. Taking hold of her friends, using her tactile-kinesis all pegasi had she burst through the grating, ending up with lumps and bruises.

Before they could breath the alligator climbed out of the grate jaws wide. The fillies just ran, the beast moving impossibly fast after them on dry ground.

The fillies hear singing, the voice wrapped around them like black tentacles, coming from a hundred directions at once. The voice oozed dark triumph.

You hear the monsters start to growl
You think you hear a werewolf's howl!
You know the tragedy starts now!

A hybrid between a pony and a wolf leapt from a roof, snarling at the fillies who ran another way as it snarled snapping its jaws after them.

And it's terror time again!
Unholy horrors fill your sight!
It's terror time again!
Just try running with all your might!
It's a terrifying time!

Sweetie Belle ducked as a half empty hard cider bottle shattered on a wall behind her. A drunken Berry Punch slurring profanities at the foals.

I hear the beating of your heart
I love this song right from the start!
And that's not even the best part!

A freakish mishmash between machine and pony popped into being right in front of them, glasses and buck teeth barely visible on the nightmarish mix of flesh and machinery. Wires sprung out of its body and struck right at the foals as precise and lightning fast as cobras. With a splitting headache like her horn was going to shatter, Sweetie's horn flash blindly in the horror's face, stuttering and twitching as it rebooted.

And it's Terror Time again!
Oh what horrors will fill your sight!
It's terror time again!
This tunnel doesn't end with light!
It's a terrifying time!

The fillies ran into the nearest building. It looked like Ponyville town hall on the inside, but there was lots of leather stuff around like bridles and shackles, and it had a bad smell to it. And there was red punch spilled in places. They saw Mayor Mare, who looked at them, looked at her day schedule, and shrugged and tossed it over her shoulder. Sarah Tailin was next to Mayor Mare with lots of booboos. Mayor Mare moved like a tiger through the underbrush towards them, and looked at them like one too. The Mayor's characteristic compassion for all in her town nowhere to be seen. This time the fillies ran as one.

Hear all of the world moan!
Medleys of sorrowful groans!
Crescendos of fulfilled crimes!
And all set to terror time!

The fillies ran into the next door building, blindly hoping for safety. What they found instead was the ponyville spa...except...it wasn't right next door to the Town Hall, what happened. Aloe, Lotus, and Vera were politely waiting to serve customers. Each one wore a glowing gem on their foreheads. Sweetie Belle couldn't help feeling like all three of them looked a little younger and prettier than they should. The sign on the desk said, 'You'll Never Want To Leave.' Shadows shaped like screaming ponies crawled along the walls, cast by no pony. The indoor red roses and the plastic water-can smelled metallic. Scootaloo heard the front doors swinging closed, they got outside before they could be trapped within.

And it's terror time again!
No hope to make it through the night!
It's terror time again!
But please try with all of your might!
It's a terrifying time!

The fillies ran blindly through the fog.They imagined every front door as hungry mouthes. The desire united in their hearts was for Princess Luna to appear and tell them this was all just a bad dream. Each one wanted to be hugged by their big sister and told how dreams couldn't hurt them and the world and everypony hadn't been turned into some hideous mockery vomited up by some monster's sick mind. The girls looked behind them and saw rabbits the size of bears with fangs storming in pursuit. The girls wished they could run faster. The girls zigzagged through the fog, the monsters hot breath on their backs one moment and gone the next.

Sweetie Belle swore she saw their own backsides running through the fog ahead of them, their manes gray and worn. Scootaloo saw herself and her friends laying on a front porch laying limp with buttons over their eyes and their muzzles sewn shut.

And it's terror time again!
Just keep on looking for the light!
It's terror time again!
You won't find any in your sight!
It's a terrifying time!

Sweetie Belle wished they'd run into another monster over what they saw next.

Lilly, Rose Luck, and Daisy were all crawling on the ground like broken puppets, covered in both blue dots and a patchwork quilt of cutie marks. Only moans escaped their lips. Their eyes darting this way and that in fear and agony as they cried rivers.

New cutie marks appeared on them like boils even as the fillies watch. Daisy tried reaching to the fillies, her foreleg twitching in every way except the one she wished it to go. The desperation in her eyes made Sweetie Belle's heart crack. Scootaloo pulled her back just before they could touch. The pain in Daisy's eyes never wavered. Daisy tried to stand up, her foreleg twitched so erratically Sweetie Belle heard a snapping sound. The fillies experienced what could only be irrationally described as a silent scream. Apple Bloom looked at the familiar blue dots, and the cutie marks multiplying like bacteria on the bodies of the the crying mares inching towards them.

"Ah'm sorry!" Apple Bloom cried out grabbing her friends running away from the plague carriers over their protests.

The death bells begin to tone
Joining the chorus of moans
In this symphony of mine!
Can't you see it's terror time?!

Bloom's two friends broke free of her grip, but there was nopony there when they looked back into the fog. All debate was forgotten as their eyes fell on something that made their hearts skip a beat.

"But that's not... impossible," Scootaloo whispered. It was the schoolhouse.

"How did we, how did we go in a circle?" Sweetie Belle asked, looking back the way they'd ran.

Apple Bloom whimpered. "We didn't."

She tried to retrace their steps in her mind's eye. But the more she tried, the more her head hurt. The more their path felt less like a path and more like a pretzel. They then felt like they were being pulled by shackles around her their necks towards the school house door...Cheerilee was waiting for them . . . Individual thought was forgotten as the miniature herd stampeded away from the school into the fog in blind panic.

Equine shadows ran indistinct in the fog.

The foals found themselves stampeding towards the school. Rejecting the confusion of it they turned around and ran away so hard their had a stitch in their sides, their breathing haggard. It didn't matter, they never turned around, always had their backs to the school, but saw the school appearing out of the fog again, and again, and again, AND AGAIN!

Looking down, the group saw their own hoofprints intersecting the same place over and over again. Like one big spider web.

And it's terror time again!
The worst lurks still just out of sight!
It's terror time again!
Just waiting to snuff out your light!
It's a terrifying time...

The voice faded. Something in the foals burned out. The foals fells on their knees. The nightmarish parodies of those they loved, the fog that mocked ideas like 'here' and 'there', the sickening grimy rose color to everything: it was all too much, the foals vomited, and kept vomiting until they began to heave bitter yellow liquid.

Scootaloo gritted her teeth. "It's like... it's like the whole world is rigged!"

Scootaloo thought of...what seemed like a lifetime ago, before the wedding, before Discord, where she wished life could be a bit more exciting and less girlie. This wasn't an adventure…this was filth for filth's sake.

"This isn't a nightmare! It's a cheat!" Apple Bloom yelled as if that would make the world play fair. The world didn't dignify her with a response.

The Crusaders had each endured more than their share to know they lived in an unfair world, now they realized they hadn't known the meaning of the word.

"I wanna go home," Sweetie Belle cried, her eyes watery. Then the horrible thought spawned in her mind. 'Even if I find home. It won't...it won't be my home or my...or my...Does that mean I'm an orphan?'

Blanky popped his head out of Sweetie's saddle bag and nuzzled his master.

The world was completely messed up, and they didn't have a clue on how to fix it.

Apple Bloom wanted to go back to musing about how awkward it was to go back to doing choirs and school after helping save the world. How did you fight the world?

Scootaloo hadn't seen the looks on her friends' from the outside before. But even if it had been three years, she recognized the sound of their hearts wilting from losing everything. She didn't hesitate to hug her friends, she was crying too, and so was Apple Bloom, they hugged her back, and they just cried into each other's manes. The fillies huddled together crying. They didn't know for how long. Any pony shapes that passed by in the fog gave the tear stained foals no mind.

It was like the fog wanted to invade them, violate them, twist them, warp them, remake them, rip them apart and glue them back together into something that was them only in appearance and manner. Like every wisp of fog was a tentacle want to slither inside. Apple Bloom shook her head at another headache flash.

They wanted to go to an adult and admit were in over their heads, except the memory of Miss Void's Voice reminding of the Truth: that Twilight, their big sisters, the Princesses, were all targeted first by this, this evil.

No adults for them to go for help like foals should be. It just felt...wrong. This wasn't how their world was MEANT to work...no, like this wasn't their world at all. They were an infection to this world's purity.


The girls started, Blanky's ears perked. One of the girls had shouted, but none was sure who.

"Be brave, when you see again those you know and love, they will not be who you know and love. They will be monsters. Remember their words and actions are not their own, they do only as rumors dictate to them. They are only puppets on strings, and none suffer more than they.

The moment you lose all hope, is the moment any hope for this world dies. Believe that you can clean away the grim darkness. You need to."

Miss Void's absolute voice echoed through the filly's heads, beating back the filth.

"We're still here!" Scootaloo shouted, flapping her wings like mad taking off the ground. "We're still here! We still believe in friends!" Sweetie Belle shouted.

"Not this here garbage!" Apple Bloom shouted louder.

"We still believe!" Sweetie Belle shouted, "We still believe! In Rarity! In the Princesses! In all our friends and family! In rainbows, smiles, sunshine, hugs and kisses! Bedtime stories, singing, cupcakes, flowers, happiness and love!"

"In Loyalty! In Rainbow Dash! In the good guys beating the bad guy and saving the day!" Scootaloo added. "That friendship kicks flank!"

"Them's the pony way and that's . . ." Apple Bloom stopped. "And that's . . ."
Ah felt somethin' flicker inside, like the flint of a fire. No, like a bud tryin' to bloom. My head is hurtin' again! Ugh! Come on! Ah've almost got it! Somethin', somethin' so simple. No big deal. So why is my head hurtin' somethin' fierce?

Ya can pierce the lies that fill the world, Apple Bloom.

Nightmare Applejack...the look in her eyes...it was like whenever Granny Smith is thinkin' 'bout stuff she doesn't wanna talk about in front of me...she looked...She looked so old. She wasn't a monster. She's an old mare inside. Tired and hurtin'. Ah ain't scared of 'er. She's just like how big sister used to be: won't let me help with the applebucking, and she's actin' like she's got all of Ponyville on 'er shoulders. What's that got to do with anything? Maybe nothin', maybe everythin', Ah don't know.

No. Not nothin'. Maybe she showed sometimes there's a truth within truth, or somethin' like that. Fancy words are Sweetie's department. Ah just know what Ah know. And everythin' me and my friends just said?

"That's the truth."

And my flower opened. And I could see. Just to make sure, Ah closed the eye the other Applejack put the truth in, my other eye just saw the fog. This wasn't one of the mean tricks the fog had been playin' on us, it was the truth.

"Girls...the fog...I can see the path through it."

"What path?" Scootaloo asked.

"Ah can see it. Plain as day. Trust me. Just follow me. We're gettin' outta here."


Scootaloo and me looked at each other, worried about Apple Bloom, but we didn't have any better ideas. If Apple Bloom said she could see a path through the fog, she probably did. It was better than nothing. And they believed me about Blanky's magic. So Apple Bloom led the way, Scootaloo's wings beat away the fog, while I lit our caboose. Scootaloo and me held onto Apple Bloom and Scootaloo's tail just in case.

It was all the same gray fog to me, but at least we weren't winding up back at school and a big huge monster wasn't trying to kill us or...or...

I saw the look in Scootaloo's eyes, she wanted to say something about the crazy turns Apple Bloom was taking, but we'd gone in a straight line and ended up back where we started, might as well try the twisty-turny way right? I looked at Blanky, he's sniffing every which way for trouble. He wasn't pointing into another direction or anything. Dogs are supposed to tell when something bad is happening, right?

When will I get a chance to help out big?...I know I convinced Tick he should think real hard about how the changelings saw ponies but... Eh? It was only cause I was there that the good bits of Chryssy's soul got saved? And I was the one who had the magic to break the geass of all those ponies...I guess you're right. It's not about how often or how much I help my friends, the point is that I help WHEN I can, and help HOW I can. Thank you.

Apple Bloom seemed to be just following wherever her invisible trail led her. She stopped all of a sudden and we stuck our heads out forward to get a look at why.

It was an earth pony stallion. His pelt looked dyed, and his cutie mark might have been a sticker. He was covered in bruises shaped like doorknobs, he had cuts like he'd jumped through a window. He was crying, turning over in the dirt, talking to himself.

He was crying, turning over in the dirt, talking to himself.

"It wasn't supposed to be this way! Earth Ponies would realize the truth and grasp freedom with their own four hooves, NOT THIS!"

Blanky didn't even bother to look at 'im. Apple Bloom began to inch around him, I guess in case he turned into a monster or something... I couldn't blame her.

I stopped. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo looked at me confused when they felt the tugs on their tails. I looked at him. Boring, one-sided, self-contradicting lectures that went on forever, waiting to see momma or Rarity afterwards.

I said, "Girls. I recognized him. But I've never seen him before. It's like somepony else recognizes him so I did. Like when I sing on a high note and it makes Rarity's crystal quiver. Sorry. I dunno."

"Believe it or not I get what you're saying," Scootaloo said.

"The Queens have unleashed their final scheme, and twisted the world into their own personal cesspit of depravity! Why didn't any of them listen?!" He didn't look at us, he didn't seem to even hear us!

"His name's Masked Agenda, and Vendetta Mask, he has a lot of names," I explained this knowledge I knew by unknowable means. "He teaches that mares bully stallions but the stallions don't notice, that everypony bullies earth ponies but pretend they're fair, and that the Princesses are the biggest bad guys in the world."

"That's stupid. Sis doesn't bully Big Mac, the Princesses were just plain nice when Ah met 'em with AJ! And AJ says the only time anypony's looked down on her is cause she's from Ponyville and not a big city, bein' a earth pony doesn't mean anythin'!"

"And wasn't the point of that whole Hearth Warming Eve play that ponies don't do that anymore?" Scootaloo asked.

I nodded. "I didn't say it wasn't."

"Why didn't they listen sooner? Why?" He just kept talking himself. "The Alicorns! The unicorns! The pegasi overlords! The mares! Why didn't earth pony stallions even realize they're slaves?! All is lost!"

We all felt really awkward, I could tell. Blanky was tryin' to ignore 'im like he was a parasprite.

"Girls. We're taking him with us. He's hurt," I said, sounding and looking as 'in charge' as I could, while Blanky gave me a look of incredulity.

Apple Bloom just looked at him confused with one eye closed.

"I dunno, Sweetie Belle, in all the ghost stories Dash told me, ponies like him always get never-heard-from-again first."

"Which is exactly why we're going to save him." I said sternly. "Apple Bloom, keep leading the way, Scootaloo, help me carry 'im."

"Sweetie maybe Ah should help carry 'em, Ah got more muscle."

"It has to be us, Apple Bloom." I said in Rarity's 'no-arguing' tone. As Rarity would say, this was the pony way.

The symbolism was important, you see. I wanted to prove Mr. Mask wrong by pointing out that three of us different ponies bore an equal share of his weight.

Apple Bloom looked at me a bit longer, opening and closing one eye, then nodded. "Alright."

Scootaloo sighed. "Alright."

"Here, lemme have yer saddlebags at least. Be easier on ya." Apple Bloom offered. I couldn't argue her logic and floated my bags over, Blanky's eyes never left me.

"Hold up. Let's at least do this right." Scootaloo said, and reaching into my saddle bag without needing to ask, and taking out the first-aid kit, (never start a crusade without it!) Scootaloo fixed up his cuts as best she could. He looked at us like he couldn't even figure out what we were (like when I explained to others changelings had babies, not cloning). Using my telekinesis for extra lift, Scootaloo and me got on either side of the hurt stallion and pushed him up.

"They've come to remove my brain!"

We didn't say anything, but continued to carry him through the fog, wherever Apple Bloom's invisible road was taking us. The ground was a dirt road one minute, then grass the next, or covered in leaves, I couldn't make out where we were. The white light in the sky never moved an inch.Huh? You're right. I didn't notice before, nothing attacked us since we started on Apple Bloom's path.

Apple Bloom stopped so suddenly we nearly crashed into each other. We were looking at the sign for Ponyville Hospital. A little further ahead, the hospital itself had become like everything else. Grimy. Ugly. Chipped paint, vines mingling with the shadows to where you can't tell 'em apart. Like somepony had mixed the hospital with a haunted loony bin out of my nightmares etched with black ink on pink paper.

My heart beat a little weaker looking at it.

My heart beat a little weaker looking at it. Blanky turned his head from his spot in my saddle on Apple Bloom's flanks, wanting to know why we had all stopped. He didn't growl at all, he just tilted his head, looking confused. At the same time, Scootaloo flattened her ears and gritted her teeth. Apple Bloom... I couldn't understand how she could stand there being so calm, she didn't even look scared. Vendetta Mask didn't seem to notice we'd stopped.

"...Come on, girls, let's get 'im inside," Apple Bloom said.

"What?!" We both gasped, nearly dropped him.

"He's hurt, he needs a doctor, and I didn't get one when we tried to earn our cutie marks for medicine when we checked-up Snips and Snails."

"Apple Bloom, that's nuts!" Scootaloo exclaimed. "Every time we've gone in-doors ponies have been trying to hurt us. What makes you think this'll be any different?"

"Because the truth showed me the way through the fog. We found him, and we wanted to help him, and now that 'way' has brought us here."

"Exactly! Isn't that too good to be true? Maybe he got put in our way just SO we'd go in!"

"The truth gave us a safe path through the fog, we didn't run into anything nasty like before, non-stop, so why would it lead us to someplace bad now?"

"Maybe the fog just put it in our way."

"The truth would have lead us around it."

"How can you be so sure? We don't know how your new superpower works!"

"Because...this was given to me by somepony who'd always want me to me safe, who'd never hurt me." Apple Bloom insisted.

The three of us walked into the entry of the hospital. But the inner doors didn't open. Instead, gas filled the room. When we covered our mouths we were shot in the flanks by darts.

Everything went dark. When we woke up, we were strapped to tables. We squirmed like worms on hooks.

Nurse Redheart looked at us with a glint in her eye as she revved up a chainsaw, laughing and raised it above our heads. She brought it down on our necks.

"We can't go in there! We'll die!" I shouted.

The others all looked at me.

"I saw, right now, in my head, if we go in there, we'll get gassed and tranquilized, then tied to tables, and Nurse Redheart will cut our three heads off with a chainsaw!" I shook.

Scootaloo shuddered and folded her wings. Apple Bloom shuddered too, but she looked me in the eyes, something about one of her eyes making me uncomfortable.

"The three of us? What about Mr. Mask and Blanky?" Apple Bloom asked.

I stopped. "They...they weren't there."

Apple Bloom hugged me. "Sweetie Belle whatever ya just saw wasn't real. This fog's messen' with our heads. Just like Princess Gaia's fog but it's mean instead of nice!"

Scootaloo's eyes widened at Apple Bloom's words as though something had clicked in her head. "Okay, let's peek inside, and just start running again if something bad happens."

"What if the hospital's now a monster that'll eat us when we go inside?" I asked fearfully.

"Ah just can't bring mahself ta believe mah new gift would lead us here just to be eaten."

I looked at Blanky, he just kept staring at the hospital, like he was didn't know what to make of it. I looked at Mr. Vendetta Mask.

"Well… he does need help… unless that was the whole reason he got put in our way to begin with."

"H-how d-dare you! I'm not part of any of your schemes! I'm a free stallion!"

I asked, like it was the most natural thing in the world. "Don't ponies like you say it's those who don't know they're being used are the biggest problem?"

"Not 'like me!' I'm an individual! Don't you DARE take me to a Government hospital, Diamond Tiara! Stop questioning ME and start questioning everypony else!"

"Diamond Tiara?" Bloom and Scoots gasped together.

"Do you know where she is? Is she okay? Is she hurt?" I asked.

"Your father paid for me to teach you lessons, but you never listened."

Scootaloo shifted his weight on her back. "I guess Diamond Tiara wasn't so dumb after all."

I felt another twang. 'Actually her grades weren't really bad,' I thought.

"STOP!" a voice suddenly shouted at us. "Don't go in there! It'll be your death!"

We all looked at the source. It was an earth pony mare; yellow fur, red mane in a familiar style with a bow. She wore a red cloak over big fancy armor covered in symbols for Equestria and had really big shoulder pads. The armor was so thick and bulky I wondered how strong she had to be to move around in it. She stopped and knelt besides us pleading. "You have to come with me! While there's still time! Hurry!"

"Who are you? And where'd ya come from?" Apple Bloom asked.

"I can't say who I am or it might cause a paradox! To the rebel base! Hurry! You are the ones destine to lead the war against the evils that have corrupted and enslaved Equestria! The old world is lost! You must gain great strength if we're to destroy our enemies!"

"Destroy?" I whispered.

"All that they were is dead, only monsters using their bodies remain! You'll do the noble thing by destroying them!"

I thought of Chryssy's, 'rules of nature.'

"I can't do that! Not to Dash! Not to anypony!” Scootaloo shouted.

Apple Bloom glanced at Scootaloo, looked like her eye hurt for a second, then she looked kinda sad.

"You mustn't cling to false hope! Otherwise you'll be doomed and all the hope of Equestria will be doomed with you!"

Apple Bloom said, "If they've really now monsters, then nopony is hurtin' more than them. Weren't ya always sayin' how Queen Chrysalis was lonely and hurt inside Sweetie Belle?"

I paused, I had said that.

"Then put them out of their misery! Don't be stupid! It's your survival or theirs!"

"I'm gonna help Dash or bust!" Scootaloo shouted.

"You can't afford to die! Everypony will depend on you!"

"...Yer right, we can't," Apple Bloom sighed.

Scootaloo looked back at the hospital and at the mare. "So that's it after all."

"Hurry before they get here!"

Apple Bloom squared her shoulder. "Okay, lady. If that's how it's gotta be, Ah think mebbe we oughta start with ya, then." And she bucked the strange armored mare in the eye.

"Ayeeee-carumba!" She screamed.

At this point, I noticed, her armor didn't have any symbols for any of the Princesses.

"Yer empty inside! Like a costume! Ya don't have a heart!"

"So?" The yellow mare covered her face where Apple Bloom had bucked her.

"What's the POINT in surviving if we becomes as heartless as the bad guys?! We'd be dead on the INSIDE, like you!"

"We don't ever give up on our friends!" Scootaloo shouted and stomped her hoof.


The yellow mare with the red mane's hoof fell away from her face. Parts of her face fell away like they were porcelain.

"You should have just become my new existence el mena! Grittiness, darkness, sex, kill or be killed, ripping apart everything Equestria stands for, is all those in charge care about! Nopony cares about just happiness anymore!" She said in a Mexicolt accident.

"F-Fiesta Flaire?" Scootaloo whispered, her eyes widened, shivering, she looked pale.

"Huh?" I asked looking at her. So did the mare.

"Only her impression."

Blanky sniffed the air and growled at the mare. She took a trot back from him. She was shaking like a leaf. She ran away without a look a back.

"Thank ya Applejack," I might have heard Apple Bloom say under her breath.

"W-what? Was that?" Vendetta Mask choked up, reminding us he wasn't a sack of potatoes and totally confused. "I don't understand! How does this fit? It's nonsense! Madness! Please stop it!"

"Scootaloo how...how did you know her?" I asked.

"She...she reminded me of somepony I used to know...but, she had a heart. She loved music and she owned a stage-theater." Scootaloo sighed. "But... it's in the past now. Let's move on."

"No it isn't! If she got twisted up like everypony else, then we're gonna save 'er too!" I said, feeling determined. I hadn't been able to think of anything brave to say to Scootaloo's friend, but I could say something brave for her.

"Y-yeah, you're right." Scootaloo said surprised at me, I was surprised too.

Apple Bloom had this weird look in her eye but didn't say anything.

"And hey! We just beat one of the bad things the world's throwing at us! That's progress, right?" I asked, trying to be encouraging.

They both nodded.

Scootaloo said gritting her teeth, "Now let's get in the hospital fast!"

"I thought you were worried about going in there too," I said.

"Not anymore! I got it. This is a horror movie!"

"It... is?" I asked.

"That's what we've been stuck in since we woke up! The monster chases! All this nasty stuff! Not being able to get away from where we wanted to get away from until Apple Bloom found a hole in the 'set?' And then Fiesta-, that mare shows up? Creepy movies do their darndest to lure ponies AWAY from safety! Not danger!"

"What if that armored mare trying to lure us away from the hospital is really the movie making us realize she was luring us away from the hospital so we'll go in the hospital?!" I asked.

"Don't overthink it!" Scootaloo replied. "Horror movies aren't that smart!"

"Hey, Mr. Scary Movie Director!" I yelled out, not actually expecting an answer, and not getting one. "Could we 'cut' and take a quick break? I need a moment to freshen up in my trailer!"

"Sweetie Belle! Don't go crazy!" Scootaloo shouted, looking ready to shake me silly if we weren't carry Mr. Mask. "I don't mean that way! I mean whatever turned the world upside down made everything happen like we were in a scary story!"

"Ya mean like when we wrote look-alikes of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon as the bad fillies who got never-heard-from-again in that ghost story we wrote for class last year?" Apple Bloom asked. For the record, Miss Cheerilee had us rewrite it.

"Exactly!" Scootaloo said.

"Vote's three to two, let's go!" Apple Bloom said. Right away a big dark spiral storm formed above the hospital.

"Maybe it's warning us to stay away?" I shivered.

Scootaloo looked at me. "Since when do creepy movies GIVE warnings to the characters?"

"I dunno! Rarity doesn't let me watch them!"

"They don't!" Scootaloo shouted. Appleblom led, Scootaloo and I carried Vendetta Mask.

"B-but what about when the ghost in the haunted house in ghost stories says 'Get out!' and nopony does?"

"That's when outside the haunted house is safe! WHY would we start being given warnings NOW when we weren't for any of the places before?!"

"Leave the arguin' ta us Sweetie Belle!" Apple Bloom said as we moved.

Author's Note:

Pony POV Series
Finale Arc Part 16
Return Of the Cutie Mark Crusaders
By Alex Warlorn
Edited By Louis Badalament


Pharaoh of Rule #43/#15, "We shall see. Run little mice in my maze, there is no escape. Squirm, know there is no way to win. Your hope exists only to prolong your suffering. This hour belongs to the grim dark! THIS STORY BELONGS TO ME NOW!"


Next Chapter:

First Chapter: http://alexwarlorn.deviantart.com/art/Pony-POV-Series-Fluttershy-FlutterCruel-Pearls-260092460

Cover by iguanodragon done by request.

The Pony mod of 'Terror Time' from Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island is a commission by Kendell2.

Please help keep the trope page up to date and from getting lonely please. I part of how I know I inspired readers. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/FanFic/PonyPOVSeries

FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE check out the ton of recursive fanfics of this fanfiction series. A lot of heart went into them! They also answer a lot of unaswered questions. http://mlp-pony-pov-series.deviantart.com/ For heaven sake they rock! Kendell2 and Oracle Mask and Richforce and Ardashir and Jawmax and Persona22 and Dragon of Twilight and ItsFromPeople and all the rest!!! http://alexwarlorn.deviantart.com/journal/Pony-POV-Series-Fanworks-fanmedia-By-Category-332817406

MLP:FIM Copyright Hasbro

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