• Published 27th Oct 2014
  • 1,333 Views, 30 Comments

Silver Star Apple and the Search for More Money, Love, The Meaning of Life, and Magical Cards - SilverStarApple



He arrived in Canterlot a few years ago with a sack of bits, good eyes, and a greater vision. Now he's the sixth-richest, third strongest, and most handsome. But when even gold loses its lustre, Silver must embrace friendship and- WOAH, MAGIC CARDS?

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6 - The First and Final Sentence

“Silver, I’ve been meaning to ask...”

It was a cool and pleasant evening in Ponyville, and Twilight was still internally giddy over Silver showing up at her house for a second time that day, and inviting her to a mystery location. She was a thousand feet in the air... Literally! She was flying next to him, right now, only slightly pushing herself to keep pace with his Extreme Gear as they left Ponyville behind and flew to some last-minute reservation one of his restaurants had made for him just moments ago.

This wasn’t a date, they were finding an appropriately secluded and secure location to discuss their plan for dealing with the whole ‘Magical Cards’ situation.

This wasn’t a date, this wasn’t a date... She repeated that to herself, again and again, but every few flaps of her wings, she had to stop herself from gleefully performing loop de loops.

He was so close to her. And with the wind ruffling his spiked mane, he looked so cool!

She’d never really had much interest in seeking out stallions, as she’d always been too busy with studies, or saving the world, for the kind of committed life-long relationship she wanted. But now, the most intelligent, handsome, and rrrr pony in all of Equestria seemed to be interested in her. Her!

Sure, she was a princess now, so that might have been a contributor to his interest in her.

Some small part of her feared that he wouldn’t even give her a second glance if she wasn’t an Alicorn, if she wasn’t the Princess of Friendship, if she wasn’t as big and important as him.

“We’re here,” Silver suddenly announced with pride.

“We are?” Twilight asked curiously.

“Yes, we’re out of their range!” He declared, and a near-instant flash of blue light from his horn, but it was different from usual. She felt as if the unquestionable grip of space itself had protectively curled a clawed limb around them and prepared to yank them forward in a single instant, but it was over too fast. Her suddenly-different surroundings were all that told her the spell hadn’t failed, and yet, her instincts and sixth magical sense her were both telling her she hadn’t moved...

Incredible. It was as if she’d been moved thousands of miles in what felt like half an instant, or perhaps even less. And she didn’t even feel it!

Looking around, she could tell one thing: She definitely wasn’t in Ponyville any more.

Yellow brick roads lined the ivory-white street as bright red and gold Neighponese-style buildings here and there, and the scent of foreign spices filled the air. Two constant single-file strings of ponies on either side of the street ran on their two rear legs like ostritches, their forehooves stuck out straight behind them for balance. But these ponies weren’t what she was used to seeing. These were ponies with unusually spiky manes and unusually pointy eyes, like the manestyles and eyes of Manga characters. Twilight was pretty sure she’d seen one pony of this subspecies before, back when she was a foal in Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, but to see so many of them in one place... It was shocking.

And every so often, in the two streams of ponies, a big, fluffy, black and white panda could be seen, rolling around with the strangely-running ponies like it was no big deal.

Twilight looked up, and high overhead, she saw a trail of illusionary cobalt crows with golden eyes and orange trails flying overhead, and she could instinctively tell: They were created by his spell, carrying their respective temporarily-stolen magical signatures far away from here.

Silver grabbed Twilight with his magic and pulled her away from the center of the road, out of the way of a black and golden Dragon-themed Extreme Gear hoverboard with an Eastern Dragon logo on the head, ridden by some kind of purple-maned blue-scaled half-Eastern Dragon half-pony hybrid.

“Why are we in Neighpon?” Twilight asked, recognizing where she was.

“I don’t want anypony listening in to what we say to each other, while we discuss what to do about the Magical Cards,” He explained, and he took her right forehoof into his own, shocking her. “Now let’s get something to eat.”

“I already ate today,” Twilight admitted, blushing.

“You haven’t eaten until you’ve eaten at Katsukami’s.” He said, leading her by the hoof into one Neighponese restaurant that looked pretty normal, really, aside from the chef. The place didn’t have a front door, or a front wall. Instead, long and thin flaps of paper lined the top of the entrance the missing front wall made. The building itself was made with wooden frames, long and wide pieces of paper serving as walls. Eight sets of wooden tables, two benches with backs on each, were placed along a path straight to the door outside and to the kitchen, where one strange chef took orders, and presumably also delivered food to the customers, since Twilight didn’t see any other workers here.

Only a few beings were eating in this place: A Tigress on her lonesome at one stall, eating some expertly-rolled Sushi with chopsticks, a family of two Eastern Dragons and a tiny Pony Pegasus colt who was probably adopted, each one eating from their own bowls of dumplings, and one Neighponese Pony slowly consuming what looked like a Sandwich Sub-sized Burrito, only filled with Neighponese stuff.

Who was the chef? Oh, just a floating green-eyed cherry-red mare who somehow had the upper body of a Unicorn, complete with two forehooves and a horn, but instead of a normal pony rear end, her equine upper body was mounted where the head should be on the green-scaled lower body of a snakelike Eastern Dragon, with four thin and tiny draconian limbs and a lizardlike tail, which ended in a kunai-like triangular barb.

Twilight tried not to stare at the curious creature, which was even more noticeable than somepony staring at her. The dragon-mare smiled like she was used to this treatment, but her eyes narrowed when she saw Silver.

“Silver,” She spat.

“Katsukami!” Silver greeted cheerfully.

“Silver!” She roared.

“KAT-su-KAMI!” Silver shouted right back.

“Siiilveeer!” She screamed, throwing her yellow apron to the ground, hopping over her counter, and marching right at him until she loomed over him.

Despite the size of this beast, and the size advantage she had over him, he wasn’t even a little intimidated. Instead, he smirked up at her, daring her to strike. “Katsukami.”

Twilight forced a nervous smile. “...Twilight?” She guessed.

Katsukami’s tail whipped out and stretched across the restaurant, striking a gong in the corner before whipping back.

Silver reared onto two legs and let out a roar of “ORAORAORAORAORAORAORAAA!!!” as he punched any limb of hers that tried to strike him, his hooves glowing orange as they absorbed the shock of every blow.

“MUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDA!!!” She cried, delivering a flurry of blows, kicks, slashes, tail whips, each one batted away or absorbed by his impregnable defense.

She stared into his eyes, he stared right back, his horn flashed, and it was over for her.

Her pupils dilated, and...

The world became a sharply-drawn masterwork painting of sharp lines and blocky black shadows.

Silver pounced on the dragon and bit her pony neck as she flew into the sky, ripping a hole in her restaurant’s paper roof. In the air, the dragon and her new passenger spun and spun until he passed out, and she flew at the ground, ready to slam him into the dirt.

But in the point of impact, with a loud “Blip!”, he awoke and cast a spell that formed a blue hexagonal shield around him, bouncing himself off the ground like a rubber ball thrown at it, only better, because he was travelling upward with double the force, dragging her along with him. It was easy for him to spin around in the air, wrap his forelegs around her draconian hips and his rear legs around her equine neck, and stretch one of her backs against the other. “Beast with two backs!” Silver announced the move’s name as the two rocketed towards the earth.

They both hit the ground, but in the moment of impact, she dispersed outwards as flames as he vanished in a puff of smoke. What looked like the real Silver descended from the heavens, flexing atop a steamroller that landed upon the Dragon’s flames, seemingly pinning them. But the flames broke free and converged above his head, landing on it and slamming his head into the top of the steamroller, but he was an illusion who burst into smoke, which meant his steamroller was, too. Katsukami fell through the steamroller and stuck her limbs out, the air screeching like the open road as she ‘slammed the brakes’ in the air and stopped.

And then Silver fell from the heavens, and right when he was about to land on her back...

“Blip!”

Silver knocked the Dragon into the ground, bouncing into the air with a fifth of his momentum angled directly upwards, having forced her to take the rest of it in its proper direction.

“Point!” The Tigress in one stall declared, and continued to eat her sushi.

Silver respectfully waited in the air until after Katsukami had gotten back up and rolled over, out of the way, and then he landed.

He scratched his right flank with his tail as he casually watched the Dragon-mare circle around him, walk ahead of him until she was ten steps in front of him, and lower her head.

“Ka... Me... Ha... Me...” The Dragon roared, charging magical energy around her body and into her equine forehooves, where it became a ball.

“Ha Ma Naaa... Ha Ma Naaa...” Silver stood on two hooves and mirrored the motions of her forelimbs, magically crafting a ball of energy with his horn and floating it over to rest between his hooves.

“HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!” Both roared, shoving their hooves and balls at each other, each ball blasting a thick beam of magical energy at each other. The beams collided and clashed against each other, like swords.

They both struggled and grunted and screamed and made increasingly angry faces at each other, the violently-sparking point between the two beams travelling back and forth every few seconds like the knot in the middle of a rope that found itself used to play Tug of War.

And this kept going for an hour, until they were both out of energy. And then they transformed into bigger-haired glowier forms to get more energy.

“Eikō No Densetsu Saikyo Saikō Tora Taka Kame Ryu Hīrō Katana Sosen No Sora, Ten’nō No Tochi, Uchū No Kokoro!” Katsukami declared, summoning what was basically a regular-sized golden and katana, only scaled up equally in length and width. The handle was white, the blade was a pale blue-green, and a pale blue energy violently throbbed around its blade. A chunk was missing from the blade’s edge, an inch from the tip, as if a heart-shaped cookie cutter had been stick into the sword to make that missing section so perfectly heart-shaped.

“I Summon: Supernova War!” Silver called, summoning a weapon of his own, a bright orange broadsword with two golden metal triangular spikes on one of the blade’s ends, forming a cross, and a black magically-synthesized snakeskin handle on the other. On the handle’s base, like a tri-coloured eraser on a pencil, there was a chunk of white diamond embedded in a yellow topaz, which was embedded in a red ruby. The weapon engulfed itself in a pale white corona of energy as the blade lit up with magical and bright crimson and golden flames.

The two charged at each other, and time seemed to slow to a crawl as the two rocketed past each other, each striking the other with their swords as they flew past each other and landed in dramatic poses.

“Omae wa mou shindeiru,” The dragon-mare said solemnly. “Baka.”

“I diagnose you with dead,” Silver solemnly said. “And I’m afraid it’s terminal.”

They both exploded, their weapons vanishing with them, because they were both fake copies.

“Wait... What?” Twilight asked in confusion.

“Daga kotowaru!” The Dragon-mare declared, appearing behind Twilight with a mouth full of flames.

“Nothing personal, kid!” Silver announced, appearing behind the Dragon mare with his Spellblade out.

“Daga kotowaru!” The Dragon-Mare declared, appearing behind Silver with a mouth full of flames.

“Nothing personal, kid!” Silver announced, appearing behind the Dragon mare with his Spellblade out.

“Daga kotowaru!” The Dragon-Mare declared, appearing behind Silver with a mouth full of flames.

“Nothing personal, kid!” Silver announced, appearing behind the Dragon mare with his Spellblade out.

“Daga kotowaru!” The Dragon-Mare declared, appearing behind Silver with a mouth full of flames.

“Nothing personal, kid!” Silver announced, appearing behind the Dragon mare with his Spellblade out.

“Daga kotowaru!” The Dragon-Mare declared, appearing behind Silver with a mouth full of flames.

“Nothing personal, kid!” Silver announced, appearing behind the Dragon mare with his Spellblade out.

“Daga kotowaru!” The Dragon-Mare declared, appearing behind Silver with a mouth full of flames.

“Nothing personal, kid!” Silver announced, appearing behind the Dragon mare with his Spellblade out.

“ Daga kotowar-”

Silver reared up, his mane’s spikes gripping onto her face as he flipped over and slammed the back of her head into a table.

And then, something about the world changed, and became more real. “Ow.” The Dragon-mare said, getting back up. “Match Point, I’m done!”

“Good game,” Silver said, helping her back up, to the clear confusion of Twilight Sparkle, who’d just seen him stare into her eyes, diluting her pupils into she suddenly ran over to one table and smacked her head on it. “You almost had me with that first thing.”

“I know. How did you know how to beat my Bōryoku-tekide shizukana sōshitsu no kage technique?”

“Elementary, my dear dragon abomination!” Silver declared confidently, to buy him time as he tried to remember what that was and what she probably imagined him doing to beat it. “I fought some poser a few years ago, he tried something similar. He kicked my butt with it the first time, because he had more magic than me, so he could teleport more. But the second time we fought, I jumped back and put his head through a brick wall.”

She frowned. “What is, ‘Poser’?”, She asked.

“It means ‘Faker’,” He explained, and she smiled and nodded in understanding. “He was a loser who pretended to be cool. But he was terrible at pretending. So he looked very, very lame and uncool. By the way, where are my manners?”

“Crying in shame,” She giggled, and he forced himself to convincingly laugh encouragingly, because she didn’t joke in his language often.

Silver wrapped a hoof around Twilight’s back, near the neck. “Katsukami, this is Twilight Sparkle, smartest mare in Equestria, Bearer of the Element of Magic, Alicorn Princess of Friendship, the real power behind Princess Celestia’s throne, and current candidate for Equestria’s Sorceror Supreme. Twilight, this is Katsukami, somepony who could kick both of our butts if she got serious.”

Katsukami laughed.

“Is it cool if I tell her your tragic backstory?” Silver asked.

“It’s very cool!” She grinned at them, conjuring some menus from green flames and passing them to the silver Unicorn and lavender Alicorn.

His eyes skimmed the menu, and he smiled. “I’ll have two strawberry milkshakes, extra whipped cream and sprinkles, a plate of four brownies, with two scoops of Rocky Road Ice Cream on top, one fifteen-inch Totally-Not-A-Burritos full of fried chicken and Totally-Not-Pasta Sauce, and... One of whatever she’s having.”

Twilight laughed, expecting him to be joking.

“I’m not joking,” Silver admitted cheerily, used to that reaction. “You don’t become a powerful archmage on a diet of rice and grass!”

“Maybe a diet would do you some good!” The Dragon-mare chuckled.

“Hey, my second form burns up a lot of calories,” He said defensively. “At least I’m not one of those Earth Mages who run around covered in dirt and mud they try to use as ammo in duels.”

Twilight ignored that and read the menu, and she was glad she read that book on translating Moon Runes into Equestrian that one time, many years ago, when she was a bored but studious little filly. “I’ll have... a Medium bowl of Jiku Shippu Senko Rennodan Zeroshiki Odango, and a Medium Ageta ika no agemono.”

“Try their Totally-Not-Burritos, too,” Silver encouraged, “They’re great, and you’re hungrier than you’re letting on.”

Her stomach growled. “How did you-”

“Coming right up!” The Dragon-mare cheerily announced, whooshing off into the air and through the ground, phasing right through it like a ghost. Though muffled by the dirt layer between the surface world and what must have been some kind of basement, they heard the sounds of slamming, mechanical whirring, fires burning, metal striking metal, a cat’s pained meow, and suddenly, she was back, plates of everything they ordered upon one extra-wide plate held by her tail.

“Great,” He said, taking the plates with his magic. “We’d like to visit the Private Booth.”

She breathed a stream of green fire at them, teleporting them away.

Deep underground, beneath miles of dirt and privacy enchantments, the two ponies and their food appeared in a magically-cooled room fit for an eastern ruler of some kind. Fancy red and gold stuff Silver couldn’t pay attention to was all over the place, but he didn’t care, he sat on some nice golden bench with plush red seats and set his food down on the masterwork glass table before him and started to lick up the whipped cream and sprinkles atop his strawberry milkshakes. Twilight took her own eat on a similar bench, and started to eat her own Totally-Not-A-Burrito.

Smiling at his food with hungry eyes, his horn lit up as he broke the brownies down into a gooey crumby mess that flew into one glass, his ice cream turning into a semi-solid mass as it, like the brownie powder, drilled through the layers of cream and infused itself into his milkshakes. Proud of this, his magic held both drinks aloft, and he grinned. “To magic!” He toasted. “And to friendship!”

Curious, and eager not to seem impolite, she copied him. “To magic and friendship!” Twilight toasted enthusiastically.

They ate in silence for a while, and Twilight was shocked at how good this Totally-Not-A-Burrito was.

“Let’s get to know each other, before we talk about plans and backup plans. I’m sure we have a lot of questions for each other, so let’s take turns,” Silver decided after about a minute of eating. “You ask one, and then I’ll ask one, and then you, and then me, and so on. And if one of us asks multiple questions in a row, that’s fine, we’ll count them and make up for them later. So, first question, what is your favourite colour?”

“Purple. What’s yours?”

“Blue,” He answered, “Are you single?”

Twilight blinked in shock, and when he mirrored her expression, it was genuine. “Um...” She said uncertainly.

“WHAT WAS THAT?!” One Silver inside his head screamed, getting up from his desk in the office building inside his head, screaming at the Silver in the cubicle next to him as the heads of other Silvers around the room met their desks. “WHAT IN EQUESTRIA WAS THAT?”

“SHE'S SO BEAUTIFUL AND I WANT HER TO LOVE ME!” That Silver screamed back with teary eyes.

Silver punched a hole in the cubicle’s wall and walked through it, grabbing that Silver’s documents with his magic and waving them in that Silver’s face. “DO YOU SEE THE DOCUMENTS HERE ON HOW TO TALK TO MARES?”

“YES, BUT WE DON’T HAVE ONE FOR ALICORNS!”

“JUST GO WITH A MIX OF ‘RICH MARE’ AND ‘SMART MARE’, MOSTLY SMART MARE, DUH!”

“Yes,” Twilight admitted in reality. “I do like Stallions, I swear. I just... don’t have a lot of time to date, between saving the world, studying, and dealing with monster attacks.”

“Despite my reputation, it’s the same for me,” He admitted. “But I have the added pressure of never being able to tell when any mares are truly interested in me, or my money. Sure, ponies are naturally genuine creatures, so even the worst ponies in pony society are rarely THAT bad, compared to some absolute ANIMALS I’ve seen in other worlds, but... ‘Canterlot, City of Fakes’... That should be on a postcard. Has anypony ever tried to date you to get to your money?”

“No.”

“Oh, thank goodness!” Silver sighed in relief.

“Excuse me?” Twilight asked.

“I mean, that is to say...” Silver stalled, and thought of something. ”I’m glad fate decided not to put you through that ordeal. I know how hard it can be. ...Wait, I just asked a question. Okay, your turn again.”

"Why did you cast an illusion spell on that Dragon Mare?"

"Because as much as I love fighting and rebuilding towns after big fights, I would rather not get into a six-hour spar with somepony that dangerous. For the sake of everpony here, of course. Her control over her legendary power is not exactly... Well, legendary."

“That makes sense. Why do you like visiting and exploring parallel universes so often?” Twilight asked.

“The concept has always fascinated me,” Silver admitted. “Sure, there’s some terrifying existential horror in the idea of finding a world where you never existed, or mattered, because the world ended up turning out just fine without you, perhaps even better, but there’s also something about knowing that there are infinite yous and infinite mes and infinite everyponys out there, living their own interesting lives, that’s just so... Beautiful.”

“Poet Name said the existence of an infinite multiverse would make the life in each one matter less and less for each universe in which copies of that life existed.”

“Poet Name was a loser,” Silver said, and Twilight gasped. “In every world where you never existed, because your parents never met, or their grandparents never met, or their great grandparents married the wrong ponies, there are opportunities to introduce yourself to your new friends. In every world where the beating of a butterfly’s wings in one country created Civilization-ending tornadoes everywhere else, there are opportunities to sell things to the survivors as you help them rebuild. And in every world where tyrants rule and made their evil law, there are foes to face. The darkest timelines are there so that you can bring light to them! That’s what I think, and my poetry book on the multiverse and reality and the meaning of life sold more copies than his, so I’m pretty sure I’m right. Would you like to know which parallel world is my favourite?”

“Which is it?”

“This one. There is no Prime Timeline, no central lychpin universe all other universes have split away from. The central point for multiverses is the first one’s beginning of existence, but nothing that happens in that one will damage any other timeline. No individual Parallel World, or Alternate World, is more or less real than any other. Except for Parallel Universes out of Q-P-U Alignment are fake universes, those things are just fake echoes of real ones.”

“I read the book you wrote on this,” Twilight admitted, “But could you explain the differences between the three and the concept of QPUs to me again, anyway?”

In his own voice? Surely, that had to be a good sign. “Any time. You see, Parallel Worlds are worlds in Parallel Universes, universes where the choices we, our parents, or our ancestors made turned out differently. Or universes where we, our parents, or our ancestors made different choices. It depends on the universe, really. An Alternate Timeline is something similar. It branches from our world, in the form of an additional Parallel World created artificially through the use of time travel. They continue to exist, even when the damage to the main timeline is corrected, but they can be ‘Pruned’ and collapsed back into the main timeline if a time traveller desires, and is willing to fix everything that went wrong in that timeline until a world indistinguishable from our own is created, and one can safely and quietly merge into the other. Of course, if the ponies in said fixed timeline are too different from ours for any merge to happen, their timeline will persist. An Alternate World is something else entirely, a world that could have everything but one thing, or even nothing at all, in common with our own, without having to be a result of any particular point of divergence. Rather than a branching path on the tree of history, an Alternate World is an entirely different tree in the forest of the Multiverse. If you’re on a planet where Rabbits evolved to develop wings to flee from terrestrial predators, you’re in a Parallel World. If you’re on a planet where Rabbits evolved wings for no apparent reason, or even in spite of good reasons to not evolve wings, you’re in an Alternate World. As for QPUs, imagine that the multiverse is set up in a grid-like pattern that extends infinitely in all direction, a sphere for each universe, each in perfect alignment with the spheres in front of it, behind it, beside it, above it, and below it. Every four Parallel Universes in any given direction, you get another True Parallel Universe. The universes between them are blends of the two universes, proximity determining how much of one universe bleeds into the other, and if you teleport yourself into the space between two Parallel Universes, you’ll end up in a pseudo-existent plane, a mere echo of a true universe. While some Universally-Misaligned spots, as they’re called, are stranger than others, due to the presence of reality-warping and extradimensional beings that like to roost in these places and make their homes there, most Universally-Misaligned spots are simply worlds that are like mostly-invisible replicas of the nearest Parallel Universe.”

“The multiverse really is amazing,” Twilight sighed.

“DON’T SAY ‘SO ARE YOU’!” Silver shouted at another Silver inside his own head.

“I know.” Silver said with a self-satisfied, slightly-punchable smile.

“THAT’S EVEN WORSE!” Silver screamed inside his own head. “YOU’RE BLOWING THIS!”

“I’ve noticed that sometimes, you have duplicates of yourself running around, aiding you, or fighting for you, or talking to others for you. How is this possible?” Twilight asked in reality.

“Well... You’re familiar with that spell, Mirror Image,” Silver said, and it wasn’t a question, it was a statement.

She nodded. “Arcane spell, Level 3. Creates three simulacrums, three magically-constructed replicas of yourself, with your memories and just enough basic artificial intelligence to determine friend from foe as they repeatedly cast one spell for the brief period, typically around ten seconds, they spend existing.”

“At a young age, I modified the spell to my own ends.”

“Really? How young were you?” She asked, and took a sip of her Squid Juice.

“I think I was... Eight.”

She choked on her own drink, and without asking for permission, he cast a spell that allowed her to breathe through her skin for around thirty seconds, aiding her as she coughed.

“Metamagic has always been easy for me,” He explained as she regained her standard breathing rate, ignoring that outburst. “I might not have any great dedication towards any particular field of spell, or any natural talent for them, but my mastery over the fundamentals granted me a great deal of flexibility in what I learn and when. More flexibility than you’d expect for somepony with the magical reserves and sheer brute force I can throw around. Not as much as you, I’m sure, but while I prefer to use a handful of useful spells in creative ways, I’ve developed quite the arsenal over the years.”

He folded his forehooves behind his head and leaned back, using them as a pillow as his magic brought his milkshakes to his mouth. He took a smirking sip, and resumed bragging. “Sure, I might not throw fireballs as quickly as a fire mage, I might not throw icicles as hard as an ice mage, and I might not be able to move as much air or earth as an air or earth mage, but I have yet to meet one that can even approach the number of powerful spells I’ve memorized and mastered in my lifetimes, or what I can turn those spells into with the power of Metamagic. Fire mages don’t do well when heat-magnetized dirt rains from the skies, ice mages don’t like it when I summon Salt Golems in the form of falcons or wolves, and the remaining air and earth mages can’t do much against summoned spirits who seek to possess them, and have the ability to phase right through any offense or defense they might mount. In addition, air mages cannot avoid or evade magical alterations to their form, and earth mages... Well, I own a construction company. It’s just me, the many spells I have for reshaping, destroying, and creating land.”

“Lifetime’s’?” Twilight asked.

“That’s at least two questions in my favour, but you can owe me. It’s a long story, so get comfortable,” He said, and she shifted a little in her seat. “My spell creates duplicates of myself. Thanks to how hard I min-maxed this spell, they don’t disperse until something makes them disperse. I started with a modified Mirror Image spell and worked from there, disassembling the three-copy programming and rewriting it in another, more modern language. I can create all the copies I want, though the more copies I create, the more magic costs. And creating three copies with this spell costs more magic than it would take to cast the original Mirror Image spell. Of course, with increased magic comes increased perks. Intelligence, for one. Genuine intelligence, if I pour in the proper amount of magic needed to create one, and a simple artificial framework of orders and conditions if I put in half the magic. I call the copies created by this spell... Silver Spares.”

“That’s incredible!” Twilight declared.

“Indeed, and that’s not all! I added some Limitations, so the Replicas cannot harm me or act against me, basic stuff. This slightly increased the spell’s potency, which I redistributed into efficiency. There’s an Immunity spell in there, to protect my clones from spells with the ‘Grow Power’ effect. If a foe used some kind of spell that became magically better at harming a certain species with every member of that species it harmed, destroying a few of my Silver Spares would not cause that spell to become stronger. Finally, a simple Return charm, linked with Magic and Thought, programmed with a Good Exclusivity Limitation, and programmed to trigger only when the Spares are vanquished. A considerable Minmax boost, there, as my Spares are only considered ‘Destroyed’ in the final moment of their lives. This helped reduce the spell’s cost to a less prohibitive level. When my Silver Spares are defeated, the magic I used to create them, and the memories they gained in their lives, return to me. And due to how hard I min-maxed them and their primary statistics, they get defeated quite easily. Each Spare has an exact copy of my current mental and magical attributes, all of my physical attributes, and a remaining amount of energy and magic that matches my own before each instance of the spell is cast. However, each Spare is less durable than a wet paper bag.”

Her eyes widened. “Does that mean you could form ten copies of yourself, and-”

“That’s at least three questions, but I could form fifty copies, and each copy would be as formidable a foe as I was the second before they were born. Defending me as I recover my stamina, perhaps several miles away from the battlefield after I’m teleported away by one of them and replaced with another Spare, would be an easy task for them. If I then made ten more copies of myself with this spell, they would have the remaining magic I had just before I created them; less than the magic I had when I created their predecessors. Though this spell hardly makes a dent in my now-prodigious magical reserves, which is bolstered by the magical batteries in my horseshoes. In addition, skimping on the magic when it came to their toughness made this spell a very easy one to cast and Overcharge. A.O.E. Hard Counters them, in the sense that Area Of Effect spells are harder to dodge, which means those Spares will have to expend actual effort in forming magical shields, teleporting out of range, Reflecting offensive spells and curses, or dodging rain if they feel like it.”

Twilight tried to imagine what an army of Silver Stars could do... and she forced herself to stop a second later. This pony’s wildly-varied skillset made just one instance of him hard to predict, and she didn’t even know the full extent of his abilities. For all she knew, he could have a thousand other secrets just like this one, a thousand other tricks up his black-suited sleeves.

“As I only gain the positive magic and memories from my clones, any attempt to corrupt the magical energies that might make up a spare won’t harm me, and I won’t be harmed by any mental attacks on my spares, either. In addition, as I gain all information my Silver Spares learn once they are ‘Popped’, so to speak, I am able to read many books at once, and gather all the information from them in an instant.”

Her eyes widened in shock. Sure, she knew a spell that allowed her to instantly learn all knowledge within a book, and she only read for the pleasure of reading traditionally, but the idea was still impressive to her. “That has to be the best spell anypony has ever made.”

Eyes downcast, he spoke lowly. “Usually, but not always. Have you ever experienced your own final moments, and your own death, a hundred times over in a single second? It isn’t fun.”

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to-”

“Just kidding!” He said with what had to have been a forced grin, with how bright and cheery it was. “It doesn’t matter how my copies die, the second they get even slightly hurt, they pop open in a flash of blue magic, and return to me. I can even have them bite their own tongues to pop faster, if something that won’t pop them on impact is coming towards them. And even then, thanks to the Good modifier, I don’t get any bad memories from my copies, only good ones. And any attempts to infect a clone with Dark Magic or any kind of magical virus will always end in failure.”

“That seems like an oddly specific defense mechanism,” Twilight admitted.

“It pays to be prepared,” Silver confidently quoted his own biography. “Now, you’re definitely beyond three questions, so you’ve got three more before I start asking mine and evening the score.”

“How do those enchantments on your horseshoes work?”

“Through the power of simple storage runes and incredibly hard magical gems, they store energy, and can convert it from one type of energy to another. Kinetic, magical, even elemental or any given type of spiritual. They can also leave marks on objects, marks only I can see. When I choose, the stored energy in these marks detonate in whatever manner I see fit. If I wanted to, I could form spears of kinetic energy within an Anti-Magic Shell and throw them at whatever was creating said shell.”

“What’s that Dragon-Mare’s backstory?”

“You know those cults that try and summon stuff? Sometimes, they successfully summon monsters. But not all monster-summoning cults want destruction and mayhem for the world. Sometimes, the monsters and their summoners fall in love, and use magic to have freaky mutant foals. That dragon mare thing was supposed to destroy the world, but I showed her the world was beautiful and something to protect, and I set her up with this restaurant, so she’d have a place to stay and something to do with her life when not fighting, training, or reading.”

“Why do you gallop differently from everypony else?” Twilight asked.

“It’s scientifically the most optimal and efficient way for a pony like myself to run,” Silver explained, clearly believing that.

Twilight didn’t buy that for a second, but she let it slide. “I heard there was a certain test all Unicorns have to pass when they apply to enter the Royal Canterlot Academy of Magical Duelling. How did you do that?”

“I did something very, very clever,” Silver said, “But I’m not sure the time is right for me to say what.”

“Why’s that?”

“They still use that test,” He explained, “And I’m really not supposed to tell ponies how I did the impossible there.”

“That sounds fair. Even so...”

He smiled ruefully. “You’ve always had a theory on how I passed a test designed to be impossible, and you wanted me to confirm or deny it, right?”

“Yes,” She admitted.

“Go ahead,” He said. “Guess, and I’ll count this as question number six.”

“Nopony had tampered with the tests,” She recited from memory, “As magical experts, including the creator of the test, confirmed. You didn’t magically modify the test in any way. You also didn’t have any sort of blackmail material on the examiners, or the magical experts who examined the examiners, and the test, and they all testified under a truth potion that they didn’t know you, accept a bribe from you, or bend or break the rules for you. Nopony found any magical effects that altered or enhanced you, either. Not even one of those magical time loop spells that magically gifted ponies often use to eventually get a perfect score on tests through trial and error. And the test is impossible, by definition, so... You magically altered the memories of your current judges and everypony in the room to make them think you completed that test by being impossibly lucky and impossibly good at whatever that test tested you on. And if your trick was discovered, they were so impressed that they offered to give you the world’s first passing grade if you promised to never tell another soul.”

His eyes widened. “Out of all the theories I’ve heard, that one’s definitely the smartest.” He said, and she grinned, making that cute little squeaky-toy noise only a pony could make. “But no,” He said, and, surprised, she made that noise in reverse. “They remembered to check for that, as well, and they found nothing. I really did take that test, and succeed. I didn’t perform any trickery outside of the test, or inside it. I was just... myself.”

And darkly, he added, “In more ways than one.”

“Come again?” She asked, not sure what that last part meant.

“If I ever explain how the test went for me, and what it was, you’ll realize how clever what I just said was. But until then,” He said casually, and sipped his drink.

“Great,” She said graciously, but internally, she felt like saying it sarcastically. Her one theory had been shot down, her only chance to guess at the truth was gone, and she doubted he’d ever tell her the answer to that mystery, one that had kept many ponies, especially former Duel Academy and Celestia’s School students, awake at night. “What would you like to ask me?”

“How did your first day in Ponyville go?” Silver asked.


Meanwhile, in Ponyville...

“Pinkie, I’m preparing a nice surprise for Twilight somewhere else, how quickly can you throw an emergency party in Applejack’s barn, the one we partied in not long ago, and get one of everypony in town except Twilight to show up for it?” Silver had asked Pinkie after entering Sugarcube Corner, and then she... Did something.

Something strange.

It was as if they were characters on a stage, viewed from the side, and she grabbed the board behind them that made up their background and flung it to the side, revealing that they were in Applejack’s Barn all along, and so was everypony else in town, each pony in various levels of confusion at their displacement.

“How did you just...” Silver whispered, blinking a few times, trying to make sense of this.

“Party!” Pinkie yelled, stretching her forelimbs to pull a Party Cannon from somewhere outside of his field of vision, blasting it into the air and filling the room with party decorations, streamers, balloons, all that good stuff. It even, somehow, caused cheerful music to start playing, and everypony started dancing because they were used to this from her.

Silver didn’t think he could ever get used to this... Anomaly. Not until he understood how she worked.

He’d heard stories of beings like this, and they always had some kind of rules to how they worked. Something you could use to make sense of the seemingly nonsensical.

He decided to think of this like it was some kind of rules-based magical effect she gained from a spell somepony cast upon her, to make sense of it. She had to pull the Party Cannon from somewhere outside of his field of vision, she couldn’t just clap her hooves and make it appear in a puff of smoke and multicoloured confetti. She had to take it from a location that theoretically could exist. But at the same time, she just... She warped space, like it was nothing. She put every pony in this town in one location, like it was no big deal. And he didn’t see an army of Silver Spares surrounding him, so either she knew about his multi-Silver spell, or she only wanted one of every pony in this place, and she could bring every instance of him into one location if she wanted.

How... how did that make sense?

She couldn’t conjure one simple object in front of him, but she could alter the locations of over fifty different ponies in a single instant, herself included?

What rule, what rule could possibly make such a thing possible?

‘Ah, forget it’, he decided. His original self was getting to know Twilight elsewhere, his other selves were preparing a nice surprise for Twilight, and he could stand to loosen up a bit and have a nice time.

He shrugged, and decided to start breakdancing, heading to the dance floor and swinging his limbs around on one hoof at a time.


“Summon: Spike The Dragon,” Silver stated clearly outside of Twilight’s home, his horn glowing with a bright blue light. When Spike appeared in a flash of blue light, holding a spoon full of tiny gem shards and milk, the bowl he was eating from missing, he gasped and dropped the spoon.

Without giving the Dragon a chance to say anything, Silver spoke. “Hey, buddy! Let’s hit the best arcade in Equestria!”

He disappeared in a flash of blue magic, taking the small dragon with him.

And just like that, Twilight’s castle was empty.

That Silver Spare formed fourty copies of himself, and they stood perfectly still.

Watching the castle. Waiting. Thinking.

“Got it,” One Silver Spare was the first to say, and the rest cast a spell that caused blue lasers of their own magical power to shoot from themselves into that Silver Spare, invigorating and empowering him.

His horn aglow with a mighty blue glow that stretched into the sky, twice the size of his horn, he crafted ten Silver Spares, each with the same magnificently-glowing horns, and with the momentum stored in their hooves, they moved like roller-skaters. Incredibly fast kleptomaniacal roller-skaters hopped up on caffeine, who rocketed into the house, some sliding along the ground and some skating up walls, each one teleporting everything they saw into a dedicated corner of their Pocket Dimension.

They plundered her house, taking everything that wasn’t nailed down, like the plumbing. And then they took the nails, and then they took everything that used to be nailed down, but were no longer nailed down. Like a swarm of magically-powerful magpies hopped up on a lifetime’s worth of sugar, they pocketed books, fridges, food, tables, chairs, the crystal kitchen sink, a leftover shard of the old tree library Twilight said she used to live in, a magical fridge that magically created its own food using the power of the castle, and more.

And Silver had a great time doing it, because before destruction, comes theft.


Silver’s eyes locked on to the pinkish mare with a purple mane with pale greenish highlights and a Cutie Mark of a falling star. He recognized her. He doubted there was a pony alive who wouldn’t.

Silver began to rush forwards and his horn lit up as he leapt, and he teleported. He reappeared in the air just behind Starlight, his forehooves grabbing the back of her head and pulling it down as his horn’s magic destabilized her front legs by pushing them apart, slamming her face into the crystal ground as he landed beside her. He turned and glared at the screaming mare while his horn blazed with blue magic, a flick of his horn’s power tossing the mare up and flipping her over twice in the air before letting her fall on her back, the angle and point of rotation calculated to rotate her head and inner ear as much as possible for the effort the move expended. First, a modern Pegasus’s takedown aided by magic, the kind Gold Standard’s troops practiced, and then a more traditional Unicorn guard’s magical takedown executed admirably, though the force was somewhat excessive. With her dizzied, and certainly not able to cast any spells, he put a hoof on her throat and pressed down threateningly. “Stay down or get put down,” He growled.

The ponies around the room gasped, and somepony stopped the music player with a sudden record needle scratch. “Hey, Rainbow Dash! Why is this collectivist law-breaking brainwashing CULTIST here, EATING CAKE with us?” Silver loudly asked Rainbow as he continued to glare down at the cultist Unicorn, his horn’s glow as steady and dangerous as the merciless look in his eyes.

Rainbow Dash charged through the air and flew into him, hoping to tackle him and get him off her, only to crash into him like he was made of pure titanium, falling to the ground. “Wait, she’s reformed!” Rainbow Dash explained.

“She’s ref- She’s a reformed cultist? A reformed dictator? A reformed monster?” Silver asked incredulously.

“Yes.” Starlight whispered.

“Ssshhh...” Silver shushed softly, pressing just a little harder on her throat for a moment. “Don’t speak. Not yet.”

And then, he turned to Rainbow Dash. “Mind if I check if you’re brainwashed?”, Silver asked.

“Go ahead,” Rainbow Dash said through grit teeth, uncomfortable with the idea of a pony going through her head.

His horn lit up, and he stared into her eyes as a long and thin orange ghost emerged from his horn and jumped into her head to look around. It didn’t hurt, it didn’t feel weird, and the ghost actually felt a little too slow and considerate as it looked around her head. That made it even weirder for her.

Meanwhile, his spell was just one of many ways he could read her. Light blue numbers and lines appeared in his sight and he saw her heart rate, the size of her pupils, her pulse, her brain activity, and if she even twitched a little, anywhere on the body, a subconscious muscle contraction that would tell him she would be about to move or lie, he would know. “I don’t see any magical brainwashing or mind-control spells, so far,” Silver said, “But magic can’t detect the old-fashioned methods. I heard you and your friends were in her brainwashing room for a long time. Do you want to protect her?”

“I’m fine.” Rainbow Dash grumbled.

‘Yes, yes, yes, yes,’ His analysis of her face and microexpressions told him in an imagined echoing variant of her voice.

“Do you remember what she told you in her brainwashing room?” Silver asked in a calm and mildly curious ‘Therapist’ tone of voice.

‘Yes, yes, yes, yes,’

“Yeah, but I’m not just gonna mindlessly accept it!” Rainbow insisted.

“Do you think that what Starlight Glimmer did was wrong?” Silver wondered.

‘Yes, yes, yes, yes,’

“Yes, but she’s trying to make up for it.”

“Do you feel that bad deeds can become good deeds, if they have good intentions behind them?” Silver wondered.

‘Yes, no, yes, no,’

“It really depends on what those things are-”

“What intentions can possibly justify what she did to the ponies under her care?” Silver wondered.

“I can explain!” Starlight gasped fearfully. Silver looked down at the mare, and raised his hoof from her throat, keeping it raised above her head, where he had it threaten to strike her face if he didn’t like the answer. “My best friend from my foalhood got his Cutie Mark one day before me, he was sent to Magic School and he left me behind, and losing that friend hurt a lot. I thought that losing a friend hurt more than anything, so... I thought creating a world where nopony would ever have a friend taken away by his or her Cutie Mark would make things better for everypony.”

“Oh.” Silver said softly, blinking a few times. He took in a slow, deep breath. And then, he smiled, and removed his hoof from her throat. ”Yeah, I can see the logic behind that.” Silver admitted cheerfully, seeming to cheer up now that the mystery was solved. To add to the illusion, he used his magic to turn the record player back on, swing music filling the air once again as ponies resumed their conversations, and his horn stopped glowing. “All this time, I thought you were nothing more than a psychotic dictator hurting others for personal gain, but that actually does sound rather sweet.”

“Now can you apologize for throwing Starlight around like that?” Rainbow asked angrily.

“Yeah, I suppose I was a bit harsh. And hey, we’ve all done bad things before, am I right?” Silver admitted, his heart rate increasing, though his tone was polite. He found it strangely thrilling, to find himself this passionate about something. Sure, he’d taken monsters down before in other worlds, and he’d seen some nasty foes, but this one was HERE, on HIS home turf, hurting REAL ponies in HIS world. Sure, those other worlds were also real, but this one felt MORE real, because it was his home. He hadn’t gotten this mad over anything since he’d learned the secret to inner peace at that one place in Pandaland. He’d missed the feeling of finding yourself absolutely furious at a monster’s evil, rather than simply recognizing and acknowledging it on a purely intellectual level. “Starlight, right? I think we got off on the wrong hoof, I’m Silver Star. It’s actually quite fascinating that something like your village could exist in this world. I’m actually impressed that you pulled that off. Besides, we’ve all made mistakes. I’ve got a long list of ponies that hate my guts, too. How many ponies did you brainwash?”

“At least seventy-two.” Starlight said, somewhat embarassed. Silver was sickened at how casual she was about this, as if she still didn’t fully realize what was wrong about all of this, as if it was all only about as bad as an incredibly dumb prank you pulled or a dumber dare you carried out at Magic School that ponies still talked about for some reason you didn’t understand. No, COULDN’T understand.

“Wow, my third favourite number!” Silver cheerfully chirped, and he noticed that something was... off. As angry as he was, he didn’t feel as angry as he should be. He felt as if... Now that he’d made himself look bad in front of those who liked her, there wasn’t any further point in remaining angry. The longer he spent around this pony, the more he felt like there was a wall inside his head, keeping his rage away from the controls. Or, to put it another way, it felt like something was dampening his anger. Slowly draining and regulating it. “Tell me, what happens to a pony when you artificially remove their Cutie Mark?” He asked, hoping she’d say something that could make him angry enough to attack again, no matter what the other ponies present thought or said.

“Everything that makes that pony special leaves with it, rendering them no more fast or powerful than the average pony, no matter what their physical condition was before a major source of their body’s magic was removed.” Starlight explained.

“Wow, you know a lot about this subject. How long did you spend studying this subject and preparing for that little cult misadventure?”

“My whole life, if you can believe it.” Starlight admitted, chuckling.

“Starlight’s trying to move on from all this stuff, maybe this isn’t the best-” Rainbow began to say.

“Who was it that said ‘You can only truly hate what you do not understand’?” Silver wondered. “You should own up to your past, and own it! I want to learn more about this, I’d like to get to know the Starlight Glimmer of today, and not just the Starlight Glimmer that mentally and emotionally tortured ponies until they broke- Wait, Starlight, can you take a stolen Cutie Mark and put it on yourself, and gain its power?”

“Yes. And since the magic of the marks have stabilized - since they all came from bodies that have gotten used to them - they won’t force their bearer to carry out whatever talent the Mark makes them better at, like the accelerated marks made by a Cutie Pox victim would. I actually planned on using all the Cutie Marks from my town to power up my magic, once I had enough, so I could force my ideology on anypony that wouldn’t just convert when everypony else did, and defend myself and my town from any attackers.” Starlight admitted. “But when I got Twilight’s Cutie Mark, that kind of power really sped things up.”

“That’s so messed up!” Silver laughed, and she laughed with him. While they laughed, Silver began to slowly walk over to a corner of the building, body language and a friendly smile suggesting she follow, and she did so, while Twilight watched the two with a small proud smile. “You took a whole town and took something from it they can never get back, that is a whole new level of messed up! Hey, did you have any plans for Celestia or Luna? Or Cadence and the Crystal Ponies?”

“Hey, aren’t supposed to call them ‘Princess Celestia’ or something?” Starlight wondered, smiling.

“Aren’t you supposed to not torture ponies?” Silver asked back with a grin, and he laughed as if that joke was something hilarious, prompting her to do the same. She did so.

Outside the barn, two Silvers appeared in twin flashes of blue light. “Something’s wrong. Why can’t we get properly angry at this monster?” One Silver asked the other as their horns lit up with blazing blue lights, one scanning the room and everypony in it while the other scanned for energy readings and the presence of any energy waves.

“It’s Glimmer, she’s one of THEM,” The second Silver realized.

“One of what? I’m from before you were born, he didn’t know whatever you know now when he made me.” Silver reminded him.

His horn lighting up in blazing blue, he started to work on fine-tuning a spell to deal with what he saw, and he talked while he worked. “She’s one of those strange anomalous life forms, with the ability to unconsciously warp reality around them. Almost as if reality itself is favouring her. She’ll be able to do the impossible, not because she does it with more skill or determination than anyone else, or in some new and unexpected way, but instead, because it’s her, and the impossible doesn’t want to say no to her and hurt her feelings. No one being will be allowed to get mad at her, and nopony that gets mad will be allowed to stay mad at her, unless he or she is the bad guy in this character’s ‘Story’, either temporarily or permanently. Her backstory will make little to no sense, as if she just popped out of the blue one morning and made something up on the spot when questioned. It’s like reality is a game of Walls and Warlords, and the Dungeon Master made her own character, and gave her the coolest – and most sympathetic – backstory she could think of, plus infinite stats in everything that matters to the writer. As if the writer is doing that thing where rather than establishing things about the character, or influencing the character and his or her goals and worldviews, the backstory exists to impress potential fans. Long-lasting relationships will dissolve and romantic partners will treat each other awfully or die, all for her benefit. Miraculously powerful items will violate whatever normal cycle of inheritance they would normally have and fall right into his or her lap. Impossible abilities, impossible improvement rates, all with no justification. It’s as if this anomalous entity emits some kind of mind-altering field that forces others to react how the anomaly wants. The universe loves her, and can’t give her an adventure that doesn’t paint her in the best light possible, even if it seems unnatural, even artificial. This being doesn’t follow the rules of her own universe, and problems will be generated around her with obvious solutions a child could think of. If she walked into the castle of Celestia herself, the Princess would suddenly become a petty foal with the emotional maturity of wet lettuce, so she could fix Celestia’s issues in under a few minutes. And if she wanted to conquer Equestria, she would only need to enter the country before Celestia herself was warped into an unrecognizable tyrant her loving citizens have suddenly always secretly loathed and longed for freedom from. It’s like the being itself is a lie, a lie others are forced to believe in, a lie that damages the universe the longer it is allowed to exist. And I’ve seen what happens to universes where beings like this are allowed to exist, running around and eroding away the fabric of the universe with each subtle act of warping reality. Many cultures across the multiverse have names for this concept, and I remember selling some gear to a group that hunted these beings for sport, and to maintain the stability of the multiverse. They called these beings Anomalies on paper, but they had some unpronounceable nickname for these beings, it was mare... Something, but my own name for this type of impossible breed of eldritch creature is... Outlier.”

There was a brief pause.

“Sure would be a shame if that eldritch status was torn out of her, eh?” Silver suggested, a grin forming on his face.

“Indeed,” The Silver with a glowing horn announced, and unleashed a field of sparking blue energy from his horn that harmlessly passed through walls and through everypony at the party, clearing away the effects of any mental manipulation, followed by a jab in the mare’s general direction, his hoof extending an orange energy beam visible only to him, pushing her ‘Outlier’ Status out of her body, through a wall, and out of the building. It slowed and stopped when it was a blue ball of visualized metaphorical energy, floating in the breeze like a big bubble.


“Um... Anyway, if the Princesses didn’t stand down and let me equalize them when their townspeople demanded it, I’d take their marks myself after beating them in a Magic Duel,” Glimmer decided.

Silver chuckled. “Yeah, and it’s not like the ponies of Canterlot would have any loyalty to those who helped Ponykind prosper for this long. And it’s not like a few thousand years of life and a few trillion books read and a few hundred years of using magic to discreetly listen to radio broadcasts of mixed magical arts matches during boring meetings could possibly prepare them for your overwhelming magical power, not when you can just throw mountains at dissenters.” Silver said merrily and semi-sarcastically. “I mean, removing Cutie Marks... I didn’t even think that was possible! You must have spent what, five, ten years working on that spell?”

“Twenty years, actually.”

The swing music resumed.

A magical wave washed over them, and suddenly, Silver smiled for real, able to once again feel proper, unbridled anger, and truly enjoy it. Ponies around them, however, reacted like they’d just noticed they left their stove on and that their flies were down for months. Though many present might not have understood the latter, as many were nudists. However, the shocking realization here that prompted this realization... was that a monster was in their midst. “A full twenty years! You spent twenty years preparing for your cult’s rise to power, stage one of your planned assault on Cutie Marks and the very concepts of talent and self-discovery themselves,” He said in surprise, a little too loudly, attracting the attention of a few ponies around him, who turned to look at him. ”With no distractions, not even a stallion or mare or slime monster to keep you company?”

“No, I focused on my research the whole time.”

“Woooooooow. Hey, what happens if you take a Crystal Pony’s Cutie Mark?”

“I’m... not sure.” Starlight admitted, realizing that she’d never thought of that. “Probably the same thing that happens to anypony, but with the long lives and weird memory stuff of Crystal Ponies, I’m not sure. I’m also not sure what effect it’d have on their magic-conductive bio-crystal bodies.”

“Huh. Hey, what happens if a pony dies after you take their Cutie Mark?”

She was a little surprised that he could just say a horrible Bad Word like that, but that made him a bad boy, which clearly excited her, and made him, in her eyes, somepony she wanted to impress. “The Cutie Mark stays alive, and you can give it to whoever you want. But only if you take it off before they... um... end up destroyed.”

“Oh, that is EVIL!” Silver stage-whispered in approval, clenching his own throat to force down the rising bile as she giggled and agreed with him like they were two bratty foals discussing ways to squeeze extra treats out of their parents.

“I know, right?” Glimmer laughed, and a few ponies around her grit their teeth and tried to remember Twilight telling them to treat this ‘Reformed’ pony as if she’d done nothing wrong, so she could get used to the idea of being a good pony, rather than an evil one.

“Hey, you know how when ponies get really depressed, they turn grey?” Silver asked. “Did any ponies in your village end up like that?”

“Of course! But I forced them to pretend to be fine in public, because being sad over losing your Cutie Mark means not believing what I say hard enough, and we can’t have that, can we?”

Silver choked on something in his throat, and when he recovered, he forced a smile. “No, your world just wouldn’t be able to handle a fate like that. You might lose control over those ponies! And then who would be around to make decisions for them?”

“Exactly,” She agreed.

“Your little village was around for a long time, and I heard you had far more Cutie Marks than you had Villagers, so I have to ask... Did any of them turn so grey, they turned to dust and died?” He asked curiously, trying to sound as if it was something casual one friend asked another.

“Yes, but they started to fill up my Cutie Mark Vault after a while, so I made sure their sacrifices weren’t in vain.”

Hope drained from his face. “You consumed the magic of the Cutie Marks the oldest Dusted ponies left behind,” He stated. “To make room for new ones.”

Glimmer laughed. “Hey, it would only go to waste if I didn’t.”

“...Oh.” Silver replied numbly.

She... She bullied ponies into suicide, many ponies, and... and...

He couldn’t even begin to describe how wrong this was.

How? How could a monster like this exist in this world, warping what should have been a cheerful pony world where the worst foes were big, dangerous monsters with terrible maws and terrible jaws and terrible teeth and terrible claws, this was a world where food grew on the ground and ponies made ovens to bake cupcakes, this wasn’t...

What planet was this abomination from? What disgusting creature had injected such a crime against this world into this world, to commit more crimes?

“But really, I have to ask... What happens if changelings attack your glorified gelding village, and nopony can save them besides the magical equivalent of a violent brute who’s no more invulnerable to mind magic or meteors or having her love drained than any other pony, regardless of magical power?” Silver asked pointedly, his polite mask slipping as the swing music in the room seemed to gain a metallic undertone. He internally kicked himself as he realized he was showing his hand a bit too much, but that just made him even more furious. This MONSTER brought out such incredible feelings of hate within him... What a fascinating experience this was!

“Well, I...” Starlight began, realizing she hadn’t thought of that.

“Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no,” Her face repeated to him in that moment.

“Also, if the town baker can’t even bake muffins without burning them horribly, and nopony else can cook any better, how is your town’s builder supposed to build anything worth talking about?” Silver suddenly threw out an easy question, the swing music returning to normal.

“Oh, we didn’t have a builder, my townsponies built those homes together.” Starlight answered, glad to have the subject changed.

“Let me guess, they did the heavy lifting, despite losing everything that made them strong, and you oversaw development, despite still having a Cutie Mark?”

She seemed confused. “What’s wrong with overseeing development?” Starlight asked.

“Fair point, I oversee development often enough.” Silver chuckled, and he relaxed. ”Hey, did you have any good books in your town?”

“No, I kinda ordered all the books that didn’t agree with what I told them or suggest that it was was right to be thrown in a pile and burned.” Starlight admitted like she was a mare nervously admitting she’d never seen one of the greatest books in a popular series she claimed to be a fan of, and Silver’s hatred of her grew just a little bit more, something he didn’t realize was possible, but in retrospect, seemed obvious and entirely plausible, since he had lines she’d already crossed and plenty of lines she hadn’t yet gotten around to crossing. “Cookbooks are allowed, since they look big, but every page more advanced than Muffins is blacked out, and the Muffins page itself gets its recipe altered. Wouldn’t want somepony to feel accomplished after making something complex or delicious, and regain her Cutie Mark! Books on magic and science are banned, nopony really needs to know that stuff in a truly equal society.”

“I take it weapons are banned, too?” Silver asked.

“Of course!”

“Of course, of course, nopony would need a weapon with a living weapon like you to protect them, whether they like it or not,” Silver finished for her, and she nodded in approval. “How about fiction, what were your general rules when it came to censoring fiction?”

”Books where the main characters go about their lives and nopony becomes a hero are allowed, but books where the hero rebels against authority, or wins a contest, or survives a disaster, or violently slays a demon, or a giant, or any other monster, they get burned. Of course, I kept a copy of most of the banned books. But only the ones I might need, like books on animals and first aid! I kept them in a locked safe in my basement.” Starlight confided to him gleefully, like they were two old mares sharing delightfully devlilish pranks they’d pulled at the local home for old folks this week, and Silver’s hatred of her grew just a little bit more, something he didn’t realize was possible until now, though in retrospect, seemed obvious and entirely plausible, since he had plenty of moral lines, and it would take some serious effort to cross all of them. Of course, she’d crossed most of them so far. Theft, from innocents. The exploitation of innocents. Lying, for a bad cause. Creating a cult. Hypocrisy. Repeated and intentional malicious alteration of the timeline, creating who even knew how many bad alternate timelines full of ruined lives and likely-dead ponies who should have lived. The destruction of not just any Equestria, but HIS Equestria, more than ten times in a single day. And an insufferable, selfish, arrogant little ‘I am smarter than you, only I am right, only I know what is best for all, and any who seek to oppose me are wrong’ attitude. With a heaped tablespoon of ‘I am what I am and wanting me to change that is wrong’, with salt and ‘Tee hee hee I love being evil, it’s so fun to be bad’ to taste!

He wouldn’t mind the arrogance so much, if she had a reason to BE arrogant. But aside from her status as an Outlier and the magical power she stole in a manner that was basically like Tirek’s way of stealing magic but with more steps, more cruelty, and more permanence, she was nothing. She wasn’t intelligent, she wasn’t cute, she wasn’t funny, and she wasn’t a pleasant pony to be around. The egotism of this spiteful little overgrown and mentally-underdeveloped foal made his skin crawl, and the pony part of his mind was screaming at him to give this animal enough Magical Friendship to make a small crater where she used to be.

“You know, you’ve said a lot of interesting things to me, today,” Silver said, “And I’d love to write them down in a book some day, I’m sure it would be a great seller. It’d be a great book. Just... The best book, ever. I’ll write it a few days from now. But I have to ask... how is an Equalized teacher supposed to teach a classroom full of foals without any talent to speak of?”

“I’d teach the foals everything they need to know.” Starlight said, and Silver felt his anger build.

With a detached curiousity, he wondered what would happen if somepony like him became ‘Too’ angry. He’d seen plenty of monsters before, sentient and otherwise. With sentient ones, he’d coldly set up tricks and traps and clever schemes to part them with what allowed them to hurt others, and he’d used violence only as a last resort. Well, a last resort when violence wasn’t the quickest, simplest, and cleanest solution to a problem like ‘There are Cattle Rustlers here’ or ‘There are poachers here’ or ‘There are henchponies here’. With those who couldn’t think, he liked to remove their ability to harm others with a rather different and permanent method. If it couldn’t be blamed for being evil, he’d turn it into something that could have the evil trained out of it, and if it couldn’t be helped, or saved, he’d abuse some broken spells and show off. He’d never found himself angry enough to violently lash out at another thinking before, but he was finding it hard to remind himself, and remind himself again and again, that this mare was sentient, which meant she deserved the tricky treatment, not the meteor treatment.

“And what do the ponies of your town ‘Need to know’?” Silver wondered.

“That the world’s a better place when it’s equal.” Starlight admitted.

“Oh? So you don’t think it’s your ideology that hurt ponies, but rather, its implementation?” Silver asked.

“Definitely. How can an ideology that wants to make the world more equal ever be bad? My mistake was trying to force it on ponies, but if I convince ponies to peacefully convert to it and support it, things will go a lot smoother.”

“That’s what they all say, but alright. By the way, I’ve always been curious, so do tell me, HOW IS YOUR EQUALIZED TOWN’S DOCTOR SUPPOSED TO CURE ANYPONY THAT GETS SICK?!” Silver roared, suddenly shouting, and ponies who’d been pretending not to listen in whipped their heads around to look at him in shock. A pony stopped the music, and a quick glance at the reflective surface of Starlight’s shocked eyes told him that it was Pinkie Pie, and she was eating from a bowl of popcorn she... suddenly had.

“I-” Starlight began, and then realized that she hadn’t thought of that, either. She soon found an answer. “I can look in a book, and find out what it is, and-”

“And what if it’s a new illness, something only spoken of in books too new to have made its way to your town and get on your ‘Approved reading’ list? What if it’s a new illness the books haven’t written anything about yet? What if it’s an illness that’s supposed to be written about by a foal who should have been a doctor, but, thanks to your Equalism, became another nopony in your herd? Diseases grow and evolve, what gives you the right to stop other ponies from doing something that all living things are meant to do?” Silver demanded. “To grow and evolve and improve is the very essence of life itself, what gives you the right to stamp that out? What gives you the right to put the world at the mercy of sickness and genocidal monsters and, worst of all, Tirek?”

“I... I was going to...” She stammered.

“You were going to sentence the world to a slow, horrible death, all in the name of your crusade against the very concepts of talent and ability themselves. What, you don’t think word got out about WHY you brainwashed ponies, WHY you created a town full of slaves in body and mind? GO ON, TELL EVERYPONY HERE WHY!”

“Why ask me if you already know?” She demanded.

“I WANT TO HEAR YOU SAY IT. These ponies NEED to hear you say it. I want confirmation that you actually are what they say you are.”

“Fine. Everypony?” She announced, sarcastically crafting an illusionary metal fork and wine glass suspended in her horn’s glow, tapping the fork on the glass to create a bell-like sound, then dropping the illusion and letting the glass and fork fade out of existence. The ponies around them, who were already watching, grew more irritated by the insultingly emphasized gesture. “I took over a town and took everypony’s Cutie Mark away from them, and I brainwashed ponies into liking it. And when ponies said they didn’t like them, I shamed them for it, I turned everypony else in my cult against them, and then I locked them in my brainwashing room, where they were forced to listen to me tell them to love Equalism for hours and hours. And when Twilight stopped me, and freed all my ponies, I got mad at her. So I stalked her until I heard about the most important day in her life, and then I went back in time to stop Rainbow Dash from performing the Sonic Rainboom over and over again, creating multiple alternate timelines that got worse each time I blasted Rainbow Dash as a filly, or turned her to crystal or, talked her and everypony else into giving up on competition forever, or blasted her out of the sky. Twilight told me to stop. She told me the fate of Equestria hung in the balance, but I didn’t listen. And I was willing to keep on ruining Equestria until I got too old to keep doing it, because Twilight JUST WOULDN’T LET ME WIN!!!”

She turned and glared at Silver. “There, happy?” She asked bitterly.

Silver’s face was blank. He wasn’t even sure what facial expression would be right here.

“Happy... Am I happy?” Silver quietly asked himself. “Well, let’s see. You created a world where Sombra took over the Crystal Empire, enslaved its Crystal Ponies, and forced them to attack Equestria, creating a war so lengthy and brutal that by the time Rainbow Dash was an adult, she had LOST ONE OF HER WINGS. You created a world where 99% of Ponykind had been devoured by Changelings under Queen Chrysalis, and nothing was left of Equestria besides a tiny resistance force barely one hundred ponies strong, led by Fluttershy and Zecora, hiding in the Everfree Forest. You created a world where Nightmare Moon took over, and sentenced the world to eternal night. You created a world where Discord was free to run around, toying with Celestia and Luna, who he turned into helpeless fillies after driving everypony else to madness and erasing what was left of them with a snap of his claws once they’d stopped amusing him. You created a world where the Flim Flam Brothers gained the resources necessary to plunder the world dry, and did so. You created a world where Tirek won. You sentenced a world to eternal night under Nightmare Moon. You created a world where so much went wrong, Celestia had to become one with the sun and move it closer to the earth for a few weeks, burning away everything and turning this planet into a ruined wasteland. And even though you threw Twilight into ruined timeline after ruined timeline, and even though she told you what you were doing to Equestria when you spitefully travelled through time to specifically ruin her life, you didn’t believe her because you still thought you were doing the right thing, even after all of that. All because when you were a filly, your best friend got his Cutie Mark and was sent off to Celestia’s School, leaving you alone.” Silver finished. And then, rage built on his face. “Right?

Glimmer rolled her eyes. “Yes, that too. Are you happy now?”

All was silent for a moment, save the sound of Pinkie Pie eating popcorn.

“Wow... Really?” Apple Bloom wondered.

“Seriously?” Scootaloo asked.

“I think it’s kinda sad.” Sweetie Belle admitted, feeling bad for the mare.

“Yeah, in a bad way.” Scootaloo pointed out. “This is like a way lamer version of that comic where Filli-Second accidentally changes history and messes everything up and Reverse Filli-Second won’t let her change it back.”

Murmurs of “THAT’S her reason?” and “I knew she was bad, but she really messed with time?” and similar utterances shared between groups of friends filled the room, and Silver felt an odd sense of satisfaction.

Silver blinked a few times, and grew angrier. “And now that I say this out loud, I realize fully just how horrible you are. You ruined the timestream over seven times, you enabled dictators and monsters almost as awful as yourself to conquer the world in your stead, and you did all this because you were JEALOUS OVER YOUR BEST FRIEND GETTING A SPOT IN A SCHOOL YOU WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH TO ENTER?! Yeah, don’t you just hate when your best friend leaves you? That’s totally a good justification for creating alternate timelines in which thousands, if not millions die, all to spite the pony that SHOWED YOU HERSELF that your dumb fallacious Equalist ideology is wrong!”

There was a pause, as this sunk in.

“Wait a minute... No it isn’t!” Pinkie protested.

Silver’s rage left him for a few brief moments. “I know, it was sarcasm.” Silver explained casually, before going back to glaring at Starlight.

“Oooooohhhhhh... Ok.” Pinkie shrugged, and ate more popcorn.

“You know, Starlight... I follow a comic series named ‘Vitreous and Fern’. It prominently features an evil background character who’s supposed to be evil and utterly pathetic. He’s supposed to have a hilariously shallow to perform evil acts, such as stealing his town’s garden gnomes, and deflating every inflatable in town, and trying to block out the sun. And every time, he’s stopped by a heroic secret agent, a Platypus. He’s supposed to be a joke, and yet despite everything he’s done and tried to do, you’re worse than he is, and you have less of a reason to do any of it. You’re more pathetic than Doctor Daydreamsmiles! But while that fictional loser is written to make me feel sorry for him, you... you make me sick! Heck, why am I bringing up fictional characters when I could bring up Sombra, or better yet, Tirek! The ponies of this town remember Tirek, right?”

Townsponies shouted their affirmation, a few looking back at their Cutie Marks to make sure they were still there.

“Tirek drained magic from ponies to make himself stronger, because he wanted to rule over all as the only being with magic, and the only being able to be strong! Starlight, you stole Cutie Marks from ponies after brainwashing them into thinking Cutie Marks are bad, because you wanted to take those Cutie Marks and rule over all as the only being with magic, and the only being allowed to be strong! How is what you did any different?! What makes him deserve an eternity imprisoned in Tartarus, when you get to pal around with the Princess?” Silver demanded from his foe, and the townsponies agreed with a loud ‘Yeah!’. “Starlight Glimmer... You think Equalizing the world is a good thing because you think it makes the world fairer, right? Well, objectively speaking, you are a worse pony than Tirek, you are more evil than Tirek, and you have done worse things than Tirek, and I don’t think it’s ‘Fair’ or ‘Equal’ that he rots in tartarus for being what he is, an evil monster born evil, while you get to pal around with somepony that’ll protect you because she can’t see what everypony else can!”

“Yeah!” The townsponies agreed again, and visible rage began to build within Starlight Glimmer.

“Don’t you think I know that?” She snapped, tears welling up in her eyes.

“Oh, good, you’ve FINALLY figured out that it’s wrong to steal Cutie Marks and outlaw free thought and torture ponies.” Silver semi-snarked and semi-snarled. “Or maybe you’re just upset because ponies are getting mad at you for doing it. Who can tell with fakers like you? Are you sorry for doing evil, or sorry for being caught? Where were those tears, where was that remorse, when you were giggling to me about what a devious and successful evil overlord you thought you were? Oh, if only you figured out that being good is good, and being evil is evil, before you DEDICATED YOUR LIFE TO MENTALLY ABUSING THE PONIES OF EQUESTRIA TO FILL THE VOID YOUR ONE AND ONLY FRIEND LEFT BEHIND WHEN HE MOVED ON AND YOU DIDN’T.”

“Twilight showed me that friendship is better than hate! She showed me the magic of friendship!” She insisted.

“And you spat on it! You smirked at it, stepped on it, and spat on it! Twilight gave you new friends to latch on to, AND YOU BRAINWASHED THEM, because when you wanted to ‘Chill out’ with them and they suggested better ways to chill, when they criticized your bad ideas and offered better alternatives, you got mad! Because they weren’t just blindly doing what you say, like the cult ponies did! You were mad because they were better at chilling than you! Honestly, I have to wonder, if Twilight grows stronger than you, or if a foal beats you in some multiplayer arcade game, will it make you freak out and go on YET ANOTHER rampage against the concepts of talent and ability themselves?”

“No, I-”

“Oh, good, you’re all rampage’d out. I guess that means the fillies and foals in this town can sleep easy, knowing you won’t torture them, their parents, or their heroes again! We can all just ignore what you’ve done, because you’re so certain you’ll never do it again! You’re CERTAINLY not going to relapse again and mind-control ponies for speaking out against you- Wait a minute, isn’t that what you did to Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, and Applejack for DISAGREEING WITH YOU, AND SUGGESTING BETTER WAYS OF DOING THINGS when Twilight said you had to ‘Chill out’ with them? She wanted you to learn how to be a good pony, but you can’t! You see redemption as a checklist, but it doesn’t work that way! You don’t get to pick and choose when your penance ends!”

“Can you get over that already?!” Glimmer demanded.

Silver roared and punched the ground, the shockwave shaking the ground itself and sending a spiderweb of cracks out through the ground. He closed his eyes. “Inner peace, inner peace,” He furiously and urgently repeated to himself, ”I am a leaf on the wind, and I am the wind, I am the tree and I am all things, and they are me, find the center, the golden ratio from which all things spiral...”

When he’d seemingly finished calming himself down, he opened his eyes again. “You disgusting hypocrite,” He growled.

He cleared his throat, and put on a smile. “I mean, are you serious? YOU’RE asking ME to get over something? Get real! Couldn’t YOU get over your only friend moving on from you?”

“No!” Glimmer shouted, and she groaned, like a teenager whose mother wouldn’t let her go to the wild teen party happening tonight, the one all the cool ponies were going to. “Shut up, already! Twilight redeemed me! What I did is in the past! It’s over, so stop whining about it.”

Right as his smiling mask started to slip again, he decided to just stop trying to pretend he was calm. “Redeemed?! REDEEMED?! Ponies do not redeem other ponies, ponies redeem themselves! In attitude, and in deed. You claim you’re redeemed? You could have fooled me! Laughing about your crimes with what seems to be a fellow monster while wondering why nopony’s willing to – OR ABLE TO - fully forget the tortures you put them through isn’t something a ‘Good pony’ does. You don’t want to be redeemed, you don’t want to redeem yourself, you just want ponies to forget about unpleasant facts, like the crimes against ponykind and the universe you’ve committed in the name of an ideology that doesn’t even work.”

Silver seemed to calm down. “Look, I know I’m not the nicest pony on the planet. Not a lot of ponies ever called Silver Star nice. I beat the evil out of bad guys, more than I really have to. Most are still trapped in stone, or cards, and the rest are still in the hospital. If I go to a fancy restaurant and the food is bad, I make it a policy to teleport away and leave them with the bill. But, even a jerk like me... can spot true evil when he sees it! Ponies don’t just call me a hero because of my charity work, they call me a hero because I channel my appreciation for destruction and ruination constructively. I hunt down the rich and powerful and politically untouchable, and I ruin their evil plans and take everything they have, to make this world and other worlds into better places. I’ve seen some ponies get away with things they shouldn’t, and I’ve done bad things to worse ponies to take them down and protect the good ones. I throw most of the money I take to the victims of the monsters I stole it from. When I said we’ve all done some bad things, that’s what I was talking about. And you? I’ve taken on thieving outlaws, thugs, con artists, bankers, white-collar criminals, golden-collar criminals, crime syndicates, loan sharks, phony future-seers, evil alternate universe versions of great heroes, Changeling co-conspirators, art thieves, underworld kingpins, and more tragic monsters than anypony would expect, and never before have I seen anypony so EVIL, or PATHETIC!”

”QUIET!” Starlight roared, her face contorted with fury, a vein bulging in her neck, shocking most of the ponies around her.

Silver’s glare could have melted steel. ”No.”

She was taken aback, and Silver pressed on. “Some say those who are truly evil... Are those who prey upon the weak and commit atrocities without any consideration for their victims. Some say those who are truly evil... Are those who commit atrocities without realizing it. And some say those who are truly evil... Are those who commit atrocities and pat themselves on the back for it, because they think they’re doing what’s best for everypony. They think they know better than anypony else what the world needs. And that is exactly what you are, isn’t it? Thanks to your little ‘Outlier’ gimmick, you get to hide from your victims, the law, and the consequences. That’s why... I will judge you myself!”

Starlight Glimmer laughed and laughed like a crazy pony. “Oh, really? You’re going to judge me? Some fancy-pants Canterlot rich-boy who’s never worked a day in his life?”

“I didn’t inherit this money, you idiot.” Silver growled. “What, do you think my father gave me a small loan of a million bits, and I got lucky on where I invested it? No, my parents were farmers, and so was I! I worked the fields, I farmed crops, and I fertilized them myself! When I was a young colt, I fought Cattle Rustlers with my own bare hooves and a horn that could only cast three spells! And when I got older, I made my own vehicle and rode it from my hometown to Manehattan, where I got a job at an antique store. I saved my money, so I could take a taxi to Canterlot, where I EARNED my spot at The Royal Canterlot Academy for Magical Duelling, and I studied harder than anypony else in that college ever did! I didn’t whine about how unfair destiny was to make some ponies into magical dieties and make others into farmers! I took destiny into my own hooves and I made it give me what I wanted, and what I wanted was a better life, and a place where I could give others better lives, and do more good than I could as some Frontier Town’s Sherrif. And now I run the biggest company in this corner of the Multiverse, ponies in sixty worlds grow up WISHING they were me, I made my own place at the top and I earned it.”

That shocked a lot of ponies. But one’s reaction was pretty much what Silver expected.

“Yeah, right.” Glimmer said, rolling her eyes.

Silver rolled his own eyes in turn. “Wooooow. Of course, of course, of course. If that’s your response to hearing information you find hard to believe, well, I guess that’s one of the many differences between us.”

“What do you mean?” She narrowed her eyes in suspicion.

I find it hard to believe that an adult pony could remain so disgustingly foalish, even in her adult years, but I still engaged you in open discussion to find out the root cause of that. And I must say, your ‘Justification’ for destroying the timestream more than seven times in one day and trying to destroy Equestria before that... I’m not impressed. In fact, I’m impressed at how much rage you’re able to inspire within me, and that’s it. FOALS get sad when their friends move away, and whether it takes a few days or a few weeks, they eventually GET OVER IT.” Silver explained. “But YOU... you blamed his departure on Cutie Marks, and you let that hate inside you grow and consume you until you wasted your whole life searching for a way to take revenge on the very idea of Cutie Marks...” He smirked. “When you know in your heart that if he cared for you as much as you cared for him, he would have turned that offer down and stayed with you.”

Glimmer punched him in the face, but it was like punching a titanium sculpture. Even the area she’d touched seemed to have been transmuted to metal by some kind of spell, though only temporarily. She chipped her hoof, and screamed.

“I’m invincible when I’m angry,” He explained. “Old Pandarian secret. Did I tell you about the time I skipped my Magic College’s Spring Break party in Las Haygas to study magical secrets all over Neighpon and Pandaland? It’s one of a few neat little tricks I picked up, while learning how to control my rage, so it doesn’t control me. I used to have some issues with that. Here’s another one.”

His horn lit up, and with the accuracy of a Sherrif, he fired a brief, sharp laser at one of the balloons. It pierced right through, but instead of popping the balloon, it remained whole, as if it was a watermelon somepony had shot a laser through. The two holes on either side of the balloon spun and turned black, peeling off the balloon like stickers, leaving unharmed blue rubber behind, and flying through the air like thrown shuriken, before curving and flying at Glimmer. She flipped over a table full of food and used it as a shield, and the holes stuck themselves onto the table, becoming real holes once again.

She sighed in relief.

And then, far faster than before, before she could even react, they turned black again and shot straight at her, sticking to her like the icy hands of death itself and crawling across her body like scuttling insects, until one rested on her right Cutie Mark and one rested on the side of her horn.

“All I have to do is think it, and those fake holes turn into real ones,” Silver explained. “The technique in question is called Eye Of The Needle, a technique from a magical martial arts style the Pandas invented. Some might think it’s a useless ability, when Unicorns can always just use magic to make holes wherever they want, but I find the ability to move holes around has proven itself to be quite useful, in practice. The magical martial art in question? It’s called The Spin, and you wouldn’t believe how long it took me to master it. Well, I say ‘Master’, but I’m really only sixty percent done learning it. So, don’t make any sudden moves, alright? I might slip up, and let one of those black spots drill a hole through something important.”

Nervously, Glimmer nodded her head. She could feel the holes on her, two deathly cold circular patches of spiralling black.

“Now, let’s make this a proper debate. Instead of a series of monologues, where we each preach our respective ideologies, let’s have a dialogue, where we talk to each other, and we see who’s right. So, Glimmer... Why do you think eliminating the differences between ponies will make the world a better place?”

“If there are no differences between ponies, nopony can bully another for being different.”

“So you’d rather bully all differences out of ponies.” Silver said flatly.

“Well, when you say it like that...” Glimmer began.

Silver cast a truth spell on Glimmer.

“Yes, I would like to use group psychology, public shaming, and the threat of getting locked in a Punishment Room to force all ponies to conform for fear of upsetting me and the rest of the herd. Ponies should hide what makes them better or worse than others so everypony can live in perfect equality.”

“That’s pretty awful,” Silver admitted. “What if the differences between ponies are differences in ability?”

“I’d like to intimidate more talented ponies into staying quiet, so they won’t upset less talented ponies. And shame those who do. And I’d like to use magic to rip the talents and abilities from ponies, to make an example of them, so they HAVE to follow the herd like good little fillies and foals!”

“Why?” Silver asked.

“Because upsetting ponies is wrong!”

“But you don’t think forcing a system onto ponies that terrifies and terrorizes them for every minute of every hour of every day is wrong?”

“Not if it forces ponies to be good!”

“It doesn’t force ponies to be good, it just takes something good away from Equestrians! Ponies are naturally different from one another. So are Diamond Dogs, and Griffons, and more. Twilight Sparkle is different from Rainbow Dash, and she’s different from Mrs Cake, and she’s different from Princess Celestia. And ponies like these ponies. Ponies like being who they are, which means being different. I like being different from other ponies. I hated it for a while, when I was younger, but then I learned to appreciate the unique things that made me who I am. I could do things they couldn’t. Why would you want to take those abilities away from me and others?”

“Because where there is inequality, there is unfairness.”

“So you’re just planning to police reality and artificially force the world to conform to your idea of equality, is that it?”

“Yes! Most ponies might be good, but many ponies are spiteful bullies. If they have nothing to bully other ponies other, they’ll HAVE to be good.”

“That isn’t how it works. They’ll bully ponies for other things, like their body colours, or eye colours, or size, or shape, or manestyles, or age, or any other thing you can’t change without casting a spell that’ll turn every life form on this planet into a samey grey blob, unable to do anything differently from anypony else, or say anything different, or even think anything different. How about, instead of wanting ponies to be ‘Equal’, you instead start wanting ponies to be ‘Good’?”

“But ponies aren’t good! They’re only as good as their situation allows them to be. For every six good ponies, there are thousands of panicky animals who’ll sell their family out in a heartbeat!” Glimmer insisted. And then, the truth spell compelled her to add, “At least, that is what I believe! And I believed that ever since the other ponies around my hometown made fun of me for not getting over my lost friend!”

“That’s wrong, and also really pathetic. THAT killed your faith in Ponykind, and made you want to create a world where no pony could dislike or like another samey pony enough to form real bonds with another pony?”

“I... guess?” Glimmer was forced to say, the truth spell rendering her unable to deny it.

“Oh, so that’s how it works?” Silver asked in disgust. “A foal can’t chew solid food, so I’m not allowed to have it either?”

“Well if you’re going to act like a foal,” She commented, and Trixie obnoxiously “Oooh!”ed at him.

Nopony else reacted in the same way, though, because Glimmer’s reality-warping aura was gone. Ponies stared awkwardly at her as they wondered how Silver could be considered the one acting foalish here.

That made her nervous. She quickly looked around and showed off that strange facial expression of hers. A big, fake grin, with nervous eyebrows. The face of a cowardly manipulator trying to look like a nervous pony who was trying to look cheerful, a silent beg for leniency.

“A lying terrorist who shot a filly to maliciously ruin the timeline over seven times in one afternoon, dooming Equestria to a world of war with a Sombra-dominated Crystal Empire, a world full of feral Changelings, a world of eternal night, a world charred and burned away, AND WORSE, all because her crush left her, is calling me a foal?” He chuckled in disbelief. A few ponies gave out “Ooooh!”s of their own, and a few other ponies were saddened at the mention of these alternate timelines, and the reminder that they were all still suffering. Well, except for the burned world. The suffering was finally over for that one. “Look, Glimmy, could you drop the childish insults and address the points I make in my argument? And can you stop trying to weasel your way out of having to defend your views in the first place? You don’t see me insulting you, and believe me, Time-Breaker, I have a lot to work with. But please, tell me: In what way am I, in your words, acting like a foal?”

“Well, you aren’t debating in good faith.” She explained. “That’s what I believe.”

“And that means?” He asked pointedly.

“You don’t think my ideology is worth anything. You’ve already made your mind up, and I can’t change that, so-”

“So you suck at this.” He interrupted, to the surprise of a few ponies. “If you can’t have a proper debate over the merits of your ideology, it either lacks merit, or you don’t have enough faith in its merits, which means you should stop buying into it. And you certainly had enough faith in it before, when you tried to force it upon all of Equestria. You sure seemed to have faith in your ideology when you were stopped, and you were offered redemption, and you instead chose to stalk her and figure out what important moment of her life to ruin when you went back in time to destroy Equestria and make it easier for you to conquer. What, are you scared that if you get into a debate, you’ll lose and have to admit you were wrong all along? Come on, you and me, one on one. No items, no prep time, mature arguments only, this is the final destination.”

“But if we can’t agree on who’s right, what’s the point?” She asked.

“We can’t agree on what’s right, Glimmer.” Silver retorted. “You think a society that lets ponies try and fail is immoral, and you think it’s the responsibility of ponies everywhere to create a society where that can’t happen, right?”

“Right,” Glimmer agreed.

“And I think freedom is good. Having the freedom to fail and the freedom to succeed is an integral part of freedom. Yes, there should be a safety net so failing doesn’t hurt you too much, so you can get back up and try again. And you shouldn’t use theft and shame to try and turn that safety net into a spiderweb of sloth that encourages everypony trapped in it to sit around and never try to get out! I think you should be able to own things and farm things without having to worry about others stealing them, and I think you should be free to trade your property and services for the property and services of other law-abiding citizens. And I think it’s the responsibility of every law-abiding citizen to aid in the defence of law-abiding areas, either through having a way to defend your home, property, and town from Outlaws, or helping out those who do in some other way. Maybe through taxes. I’m not a fan of taxes, but paying the local Militia or Sheriff or national army for protecting the town is one of the few taxes I can personally get behind. But here’s the thing, we can’t agree on who’s right because we haven’t properly debated your ideas against mine. I think your ideology is a giant cart of horseapples, and you don’t, that’s why we’re having this little disagreement over the validity of your ideology.” He explained, and a few younger ponies sniggered over his choice of language there, their waning attentions returning, their parents covering the ears of their foals in shock. “That’s where disagreements come from, ponies who think differently from one another. You think you’re right, I think I’m right, but if we never talk this out like rational adults, we’ll never find out who’s really right. Now, let’s discuss how wrong you are.”

“Why can’t we talk this out as equals?” Glimmer whined.

“Because we aren’t equal! I’m an unconventional hero, you’re a common criminal with too much power and nowhere near enough common sense. Your ideology brought your town and all of Equestria to ruin many times over, my ideology is the ideology that evolved through natural selection of ideas, the apex predator of governmental systems, the foundation that the most ethical and free society possible was built upon. But fine, let’s keep debating. Earlier on, you said you want to steal gifts and talents away from ponies, so they don’t bully others for lacking those gifts and talents. Speaking of taking stuff away from Equestrians, what do you think of my wealth?”

“I hate it. And I hate you. I want all your excess money taken away from you, so you’ll be left with nothing but the scraps you need to survive.”

“Hm, like what I had when I was just another young Frontier foal, before my rise to fame and fortune. But isn’t stealing wrong?”

“Not if it’s done to bad ponies, like you.”

Silver chuckled. “I’ve taken down white-collar criminals, golden-collar criminals, evil nobles, evil Kings and Queens, even evil Princesses. I’ve taken down monsters who tried to feed virus-infected meat to the world, so their friends can sell cures at a premium. I’ve even made life considerably harder on unethical businessponies who use Planned Obsolescence to sell marginal upgrades to pointless devices at high prices, without actually taking them down properly, because what they were doing was unethical, but not really an offense punishable by a ruined career. I’ve saved multiple Equestrias, including this one. I’m a hero. So what, in your eyes, makes me a bad pony?”

“You’re rich, and that’s wrong. Rich ponies are greedy, because they hoard wealth and resources. You should all be forced share them with everypony else.”

“Really? But if I sell ten apples, and make twenty bits, why should I share some of those bits with the ponies to whom I sold the apples?”

“Because it’s the right thing to do.”

“Why?”

“Because sharing is good!”

“So I should be forced to ‘Share’ what I earned, for fear of imprisonment or worse?”

“Yes.”

“That’s theft.”

“No, rich ponies steal from everypony else by being rich! And the worst ones are businessponies, who get rich off the labour of others, and pay those working-class ponies pennies! You should be forced to pay all your employees a cut of your profits!”

“Hmm... Earlier, you mentioned that I should share my wealth with everypony. Does that mean I should share my wealth with my customers and give them a cut of the profits, too?”

“Yes!”

“That isn’t how it works.”

“I believe that’s how it works!”

“See, first of all, Wealth, and Value... These aren’t finite resources that just exist in the world, until they’re taken from the world by ponies, or donkeys or diamond dogs, or whatever. The first ponies to evolve in Equestria certainly weren’t the richest ponies who ever lived, even though they had more of the world to themselves, and fewer ponies to share it with. They had less than what the ponies of today have, because farming tools, mining tools, rope, the printing press, books, tables, torches, and so much more just hadn’t been invented yet. Sure, they might have had more trees around their homes, but without the knowledge on how to turn those trees into houses, or the tools to have an easier time doing it, those trees were less valuable than trees are today. The more ponies there are in the world, the more thinkers there are to think of new ways to use the natural resources the planet has. I certainly wasn’t the one who thought of using Corn Syrup as a power source for magi-electrical generators, and with how many lives that pony improved and how many beautiful lights in Las Haygas he helped light up, I’d say that pony deserved to get rich.”

"What's your point?" Glimmer asked angrily.

Silver sucked in a deep breath and prepared to respond.

"Got any twos?" Apple Bloom asked the rest of the fillies and foals in Ponyville, playing a card game with them to pass the time.

"Go Fish," Scootaloo said, and the camera went back to the argument between Glimmer and Silver.

“I’m rich." Silver said. "Which means, if I felt like it, I could hire a construction company from Manehattan, and pay them all a lot of money to make a big hotel in this town, and I could pay extra to make them do it quickly. And then I could hire ponies in this town to work at my hotel. And because I’m rich, I would always be able to pay the ponies who work for me, even on slow months, where not a lot of ponies feel like paying me to stay in my new hotel. Even when owning this hotel and paying ponies to clean it and cook for it and work as bag-movers and room-cleaners and elevator repairponies and hundreds of other jobs ends up costing me more money than it makes, I’ll be rich, so I’ll still be able to pay these ponies what they’re owed, and no more. And when my hotel becomes a success, getting ALL of the profits it makes... Well, all of the profits that don’t go to the Shareholders who financially supported me, helped me fund this hotel, and helped me make this hotel-running dream of mine a reality... Those profits will be my reward for making this hotel, creating new jobs, improving this town’s economy, and bringing money from outside this town... into this town. And even if my reasons for making that hotel were purely selfish, and any good I did in the process was a side benefit, would that really change the good I would do with that hotel? Is Economic Self-Interest, the Quest for More Money, somehow inherently less noble than Political Self-Interest, the Quest for More Political Power? Business owners now are a lot more moral and helpful to the world than your thought-policing Commissars would be.”

“Nonsense! If everypony in Equestria shared their wealth, we’d have no need for businesses or workers or anything!”

“Really? No businesses, no jobs, no workers, not even any farmers? Yep, that sounds like a typical Marksist heckhole of a country, an awful Failed State full of poverty and food shortages, right there.”

“Marksist?” Glimmer asked.

“Yes, Marksist. You know, the name of the ideology you keep calling Equalism. I’ve known ponies who called it Communialism, Communism, Togetherism, Fascism, Leoninism, Stallism, and Trotskiism, but they’re really just the same thing. A fundamentally flawed vision of utopia and togetherness and other good words make up the carrot, an all-powerful government to make up the stick, and a list of demands and rules to force upon the rules. Bad ponies get the stick. You think Harmonism and Free Market Capitalism are bad because you compare them to imaginary, impossible systems of government. And you think you’re doing the right thing because you think, one day, you’ll create a world with unlimited carrots for all. But tell me, who farms in your Cutie Markless society of Marksism?”

“The volunteer workers whose turn it is to farm.”

Silver hammed it up, confusion clear on his face. “The Volunteer workers... whose turn it is to farm? You don’t see a contradiction there?”

“Let me be clear, ponies can volunteer to temporarily work for the good of all ponies whenever they want, but they’ll have turns to farm, turns to bake food, and turns to build houses.”

“Oh, you rotate labour, like a bunch of roommates sharing chores. That sounds good on paper, but it doesn’t work large-scale at all, especially not when you have more lazy roommates than non-lazy ones. What happens when it’s the turn of lazy, unfit, incompetent, or unhygienic ponies to farm, or attempt any other form of hard labour? What happens when it’s the turn of clumsy ponies to sew? And what happens when EVERYPONY decides to stop working solely for the benefit of lazy non-workers?”

“I... uh... Nopony’s going to do that!”

“Yes, they are. It’s happened in Equalist countries before, and let me tell you, it’ll happen again. Every Equalist supports free lunches because every Equalist thinks they’ll be the ones getting free lunches, not the ones making them. It’s why life sucks so much for under-paid, barely-paid, and entirely-unpaid workers in Equalist countries. Quick, anypony in this crowd, tell me, if you had the option, would you quit your job and move to some terrible town so you can spend the rest of your life performing hard labour, so the fruits of your labour will be ‘Redistributed’ to the benefit of the snootiest, stupidest, most high-nosed lazy jerks from Canterlot?”

“No!” Many ponies in the crowd shouted.

“Thank you,” Silver said, turning back to Glimmer. “But tell me, the farm tools, how do you get those?”

“They’re owned by everyone! We all share them.”

“Publically-owned farming tools? What happens when you need one, but someone else is using it? And what happens when you need one, but someone who borrowed it broke it and didn’t feel like telling anypony because that would mean taking personal responsibility, something your society encourages through punishing workers for working and rewarding non-workers with free meals?”

“Nopony will break the farm tools!” Glimmer insisted.

“On purpose. But what happens when some Equalist idiot breaks the farm tools?”

“We fix it, or make new ones!”

“With what? You won’t exactly have a booming steel industry, and a cashless society can’t exactly buy it from some Frontier town’s skilled and experienced Cutie Mark-bearing Blacksmith!”

“Well, maybe our Equalist country won’t HAVE to be cashless!”

“It might as well be, with how little your Equalist-Bits will be worth to the rest of the world,” Silver noted. “By the way, what happens when somepony’s toilets need unclogging?”

“A member of our volunteer worker force unclogs that toilet.”

“What happens if he doesn’t want to unclog that toilet? What if he thinks the owner of the toilet should unclog it, but the owner of the toilet thinks the worker should unclog it, and they both refuse to touch the thing until the situation is magically resolved for them?”

“Well, I’ll fix it myself.”

Ah, Personal Responsibility, good. But what are you going to do when you run a country and this happens in a different town every few weeks, are you going to go from door to door, cleaning gutters and unclogging toilets and performing all the jobs nopony wants to volunteer to do?

She groaned in exhaustion. “Could you stop over-analyzing everything?”

“Stop over- Stop over-analyzing the ideology you want to force on everypony?!” Silver snapped.

“I don’t want to force Equalism onto everypony!” Glimmer insisted. “...Any more!”

“Then why don’t Equalist towns and Equalist countries let their ponies leave? Or think freely and consider leaving? Or talk freely to others and perhaps convince their friends to leave with them?” Silver asked. “Oh, that’s right, because if the workers go, there isn’t anypony left to work for the benefit of the non-workers. The wages of the workers and the fruits of their labour get taken away by the state and ‘Re-distributed’ into the pockets of those who didn’t earn it and don’t deserve it, and when they stop producing, there’s nothing to redistribute. Your ideology wants to create a utopia for you and a dystopia for those you deem beneath you, where a whole caste of your society will voluntarily enslave themselves for your benefit, working hard on the farms so they can spend their free time feeding you the grapes they grew. And the second workers get tired of this, either you force them to go back to their slave labour, or you and everypony else starves. I don’t want to live in a society where that could happen to me, or my friends, or their friends, or anypony else. Even if you offered me a spot in your country’s government, where I could do whatever I wanted to Equalist idiots who aren’t allowed to complain about the government or anypony who works for it, I still wouldn’t want that. Even if I’d never have to work another day in my life, and even the job came with all kinds of nice perks, I still wouldn’t want that. I wouldn’t wish life in a country like that on my worst enemy.”

He leaned to the side, and purred to a friendly green mare in the audience he didn’t recognize, “And if you knew what I’d done to my worst enemies, you’d realize what a statement that is.”

She blinked in surprise.

And as if he didn’t just do that, he continued to talk. “I don’t care if it’s at the top or at the bottom or anywhere in-between, I don’t want to live in a society that’ll violently and spectacularly collapse the second enough farmers realize how bad Equalism has made their life. Your whole ideology... It’s like sneaking into the Apple Family’s home, eating all their food, and when you get caught, saying that if they don’t farm more food for you soon, everypony on the farm starves. And when the cops show up to arrest you for thievery, you claim it’s alright because the Apple Family oppress you by refusing to share their apples with you for free.”

“But... Rich ponies do the same thing through taxes!”

“That’s how you think taxes work?” Silver asked in open surprise. “Wow, they really need to teach better economics lessons in schools. Here’s how taxes work: A farmer farms, a dressmaker makes and sells dresses, and a bookseller sells books he bought from publishers, who bought manuscripts from writers, who bought and ate food while they were writing. Every business-owner in Equestria sends a small fraction of the money they make to their local governments. Mayor Mare, in this town’s case, and she spends it where it’s needed most. A new roof for Town Hall? New books for the town’s school? New roads, and the maintenance of existing roads? Perhaps, even subsidizing local farms, should this be necessary! She decides where the money goes, because she’s closer to the ponies here than Celestia. Speaking of Celestia, Mayor Mare then keeps most of that tax money around for emergencies and throws a fraction of that tax money to Celestia, who collects these fractions of taxes from towns and cities all over Equestria. Celestia then spends it on funding Equestria’s infrastructure, country-wide education standards, and military. She also presides over Equestria as the absolute ruling authority, and while she grants local authorities autonomy, she also keeps them in line. Now, to cut costs for the regular townsponies of Equestria, she’s shrunken her country’s military force into what you’ll see in Canterlot, her practically-ceremonial Royal Guardsponies. Because, in the event of any real disaster, random ponies with good magic and the power of friendship can save the day, and in the event of war, she can always remilitarize the country and train up some magic-sword-carrying magic-armour-clad warriors to defend Equestria and allow its ponies to farm and cook and sew in peace, their taxes funding the soldiers as they fight for everypony’s futures and continued safeties.”

“And what about the rich ponies who steal from us?” Glimmer asked.

“Name some. Name some rich ponies who oppress you, and I’ll take care of them. Because I’ve read equalist books, and it sounds like the ‘Oppressive’ thing about rich ponies you hate most is that you can’t be them under Harmonism, or Free Market Capitalism, or any other form of government that isn’t Equalist.”

Glimmer remembered something she wished she brought up earlier in the conversation. “What about that thing where some rich ‘Noble’ ponies get paid just for being high-society fancy idiots?”

“They’re the descendants of ponies who died to save Equestria during its darkest hours, it’s a government scheme Celestia set up a few thousand years ago to make sure the families left behind are looked after properly. If Harmonism was as inherently bad as you say it is, politicians wouldn’t be trying to get rid of that system, so they can be haggled down to imposing a generational limit in addition to its recently-added child cap!”

“Child cap?” Mrs Cake repeated in confusion. That certainly didn’t sound nice.

Silver had almost forgotten other ponies were in the party barn with him. “Soft child cap. You only get paid regularly for the first fancy noble foal a fancy noble couple has. You can still have other foals, you just don’t get free money for them every month.”

Well, that sounded better. That’s what many ponies around the room seemed to think.

“Shut up, shut up, shut up!” Glimmer shouted, her rage overtaking her as she lit up her horn and removed the truth spell. “Who cares if the money goes to the foals of dead heroes? It also DOESN’T go to EVERYPONY, which makes it unfair!”

Silver paused for a moment, and took in a deep breath. And then, he sighed. “You think things are better your way, aren’t they?” He asked.

“Yes!” Glimmer insisted.

“Two thousand, two hundred and seventy six. Your way is better than the pony way, is it?”

“Yes, also, what are you doing?”

“One thousand, five hundred, and seventeen. This might sound strange, but after you beat down as many unrepentant and incurably evil villains as me, you start to hear the same bad, fallacious justifications for evil actions over, and over, and over again... And, you start to hear the same ways to gloat about being evil over, and over and over again... So, I decided to make a little game out of it. I count how many times I hear a certain fragment of a villainous mindset announced, such as ‘Others cannot be trusted to make the right choices, so I had to choose for them!’, or ‘I had to do it, because only I can do it! I am blameless because I was chosen by fate!’, or ‘But this is the only solution to the problem at hoof I can think of!’. After all, villains aren’t particularly unique or interesting.”

He’d called her a villain before, but this time, something about it made her even madder. Maybe it was how he looked down on her like she was just another mad dog, another wannabe tinpot tyrant who needed to go down. NOPONY looked down on her! “Are you saying I’m a villain?!” Glimmer demanded furiously.

“I’m saying you’re a really boring villain. I mean, really, come on. Look at you. Put all the supposedly-reformed friend-backstabbing evilly-gloating stuff aside for a moment and look at you. You aren’t some brilliant free-thinking visionary. You aren’t some overly-idealistic, tragically deluded wannabe-hero. You’re just another run-of-the-mill god-wannabe who wishes she could change the world to better fit her vision of what reality should be. Just another idiot too dumb to see anything wrong with her own idea of a perfect world, and too much of a jerk to consider taking advice from somepony who knows more than you. At the end of the day, putting aside the power you stole from those you lied to and Dusted... You’re just another Marxist.”

“Oh? And what are you? Some out-of-touch rich billionaire, hoarding all the world’s money and resources to himself?”

Silver burst into laughter. “Again, you say billionaire as if it’s a bad thing! My parents farmed dirt. And I studied hard at home, because no school was willing to train me as hard as I was willing to work. I have created over seventy five thousand jobs in my lifetime! I run the largest Magitech company in the world, and we’re releasing a new type of Extreme Gear this fall. I revolutionized the shipping industry not long ago, with my Extreme Gears! I’ve improved the lives of countless ponies across Equestria, and do you have any idea how many criminals I’ve brought down in this world’s Canterlot, and in countless others? I would assume that I’ve saved more ponies in my lifetime than you’ve killed in one day during your stint as a timeline-ruining bitter harpy who’s just mad because Twilight dethroned you and freed your slaves... but I don’t know, because I don’t think anypony knows for certain how many ponies died in the timeline where Equestria was forced to war with the enslaved Crystal Ponies of a Sombra-dominated Crystal Empire, or the timeline where Changelings enslaved more than 99% of ponykind, let alone the timeline where all life on the planet was wiped away by Celestia’s sun in her final act of mercy to a world you destroyed, or any other timeline! What have I done? I’ve made Equestria greater, what have YOU done? I’ll tell you what you’ve done, you’ve outdone Tirek! You’ve outdone Sombra! You enslaved ponies on a level even Chrysalis couldn’t, and when Twilight freed your slaves, you killed more ponies in one day than a whole species of parasitic insects put together could over the past decade! You made world of darkness and chaos and suffering after world of darkness and chaos and suffering so well, Discord is probably impressed! Or disgusted, I don’t know, I haven’t met the guy.”

“He... Never brought it up.” She said.

“What, did he not want to make Fluttershy mad by bringing up how you reacted worse to having a friend move away than he reacted to spending a thousand years trapped in stone?” Silver asked.

“Would you shut up about me?” Glimmer snapped. “What’s important is that Equalism secures Equality for all!”

You’d think it would, but it doesn’t.

“Yes, it does! Equalism stops big ponies at the top from exploiting little ponies at the bottom!” She insisted.

Silver sighed. Stupid Equalists... “Heirarchies don’t naturally make those at the top hurt or oppress those at the bottom. Corrupt jerks who choose to hurt and oppress those beneath them are exactly that: Corrupt individuals who CHOOSE to be jerks. Pretending it’s a flaw inherent in the system means pretending their jerkness isn’t their fault, but is instead the fault of freedom itself. And that’s wrong, because they’re jerks, and you should resent them for that, instead of making excuses for them and blaming their actions on personal freedoms you want removed, like the right to think differently and speak freely and question ideas. Dominance heirarchies are a part of life. Even in the Elements of Harmony, there is inequality! And do you know what? That inequality doesn’t matter, thanks to Harmony. They don’t treat each other differently based on who’s more useful to the team than who. And when it’s time to fire some rainbow lasers, they all do their part. As for the rest of the world... Sure, in any system where living beings are given the freedom of choice, some will choose to be bad. And in any system where the rule of law is respected, there will be systems in place to safely and equinely detain, contain, and punish those who break that law, which should exist to secure the safeties and freedoms of the system’s ponies, not the peace of mind of some dumb propagandized losers who’ll never grow or think or learn or evolve because they’ll never have their dumb ideas challenged. The only bad thing about an efficient and functional system ruled by a benevolent and competent ruler is that those on bottom can’t say they’re on top.”

“But with Equalism, nopony’s on top!” Glimmer insisted.

“Except you,” Silver noted. “And the Soldiers you’d need to defend your country in the event of a war with countries who want to liberate your enslaved people or simply steamroll your heckhole country and take its land. And the Enforcers you’d need running around and enforcing your will and your laws across the territory once your ideology expands beyond your ability to run it all personally. Oh, and the ponies who manage the guards, and make sure they follow the laws you created for them, to separate them from the common folk. Oh, and the ponies who manage those guards. Oh, and of course, all the ponies who manage the mandatory monthly redistribution of wealth. And you certainly can’t forget the ponies who manage the creation of, and redistribution, of food, clothes, medicine, books, everything else you’ll need produced en masse to feed and clothe a country. And every other pony who isn’t forced to be a talentless and lifeless low-class worker-slave for life. They’re on top, because they get to abuse their power and hurt ponies who aren’t allowed to criticize the government or speak up about it, for fear of upsetting Marksist losers like their neighbours and you. They’re lower than you, but higher than the layabouts who do nothing and get fed just for living in an Equalist society. And they’re higher than the worker-slaves, who have no rights, no freedoms, and are not even allowed to keep what they farm or trade it before it’s snatched away from them and given to the higher-class layabouts who didn’t earn it or contribute to it in any way. Sure, freedom might let some ponies choose to be bad, and then get judged and punished for it, just like freedom lets ponies choose to be good and then be rewarded by pony society for it. But a system that removes the freedom of choice is inherently bad.”

“Why?” She asked.

“Because free will is good.”

“Why?” She asked.

His hoof met his face. “Well, you heard it here first, folks. Starlight Glimmer doesn’t know why free will is good. And as she said before, she thinks it should be stepped on and restricted, because according to her beliefs, where there is free will, there is the potential for ponies to choose to be evil, so free will is evil.”

The crowd booed her. Trixie opened her mouth to defend her, but a well-thrown rotten tomato thrown by an orange-maned azure-blue Unicorn filled her mouth and sent her into a choking fit.

“Look, Glimmyglam, I get that you have good intentions,” Silver explained as he wrapped a hoof around her back and punchably closed his eyes while leaning closer to her. “But the ideology you want the world to follow just doesn’t work. If you write it down, some say it can work, some say it won’t, but when you try it out, you don’t get results. Or, to be more precise, you don’t get the results you want. So you try again, and you aren’t the only Equalist I’ve seen this behavior in, believe me. I’ve been to alternate worlds, I’ve overthrown dictators, and you would not believe how many of those dictators rose to power using Equalism. Some genuinely believed they were doing the right thing, some were just using the ideology and the idiots who think it can work, but the end result was always the same: Corruption and incompetence at the top, and an equal share of suffering and powerlessness at the bottom. Every time, it failed. It failed every time. And every time it failed, a few years later, ponies start wondering if maybe, it could work if they tried again. Some tried variations on your ideology, some took power and then turned everypony who didn’t like Equalism into fruit. Some jerks threw everypony who didn’t like Equalism in special extra-terrible jails called Gulags, where propaganda was shouted at trapped ponies by magical record players. One jerk took power, using Equalism. And then he threw everypony who didn’t like Equalism into Gulags. And then, a few years later, he threw everypony who helped him take power into Gulags, leaving behind foals, which he lied to. He told them the world had always been Equalist and could only ever be equalist, he told them he had absolute power no living being could question, he told them he worked so hard for his country that he burned off incredible amounts of energy, meaning he never had to poop, he told everypony he could read minds and smell disloyalty, he even told everypony a giant monster would awaken and consume the world if the new Equalist peasants ever rose up against him and ‘Reduced the amount of Equality in the world’. His power base was unquestionable. He even had this thing called an ‘Intelligencariat’, an artificially-created Upper Class made out of supposed intellectuals who were paid – through extra meals, as this was a cashless society where food became the new cash - to sit around and pretend to think all day. The argument for that thing, was that these ponies would think of new technologies if they were paid to do so, but the thing is, they didn’t have good ideas, because they didn’t have to. And the thinkers were afraid of being seen thinking non-government-approved thoughts, so they gave stupid, but safe answers whenever they were asked what they were thinking about. They’d say they were thinking of ways to make this or that better, but they weren’t really. And why would they? It wasn’t as if they’d be rewarded for thinking of good ideas and letting it be stolen by the ruler. And the ruler said no to most of the actual ideas the ponies had, anyway. Anyway, moving on to the rest of his government, the guards were once ponies, but he used magical helmets to turn them into unthinking, unfeeling golems with no free will and no desire to abuse their power while carrying out orders to abuse the populace. He ate like a king, and his thugs and goons ate pretty well, too. And yet, he still failed to feed his ponies and uphold the values his ideology said it could give the world, until eventually, even under the threat of the ultimate giant monster attack, ponies freaked out. Some broke into zoos and ate the food of animals, some magicked the animals into food and ate them, some gave that treatment to each other, some magicked themselves so they could exist on a diet of nothing but snow and other liquids, and some overthrew the Equalist government and its evil dictator ruler and ate his food. The whole place descended into anarchy... No, it ascended into anarchy, because even anarchy isn’t as awful as Equalism. It took MONTHS for me to get the place safe, civilized, fed, functional, and free again. Well, I say months, but what I mean is, it took me months of work before I could get the country into a state that was good enough for me to feel alright about giving control of the situation to somepony else. What do you say to that?”

“Well, if the jerk threw Equalists into jail, it wasn’t real Equalism.” Glimmer decided, and Trixie finally spat out the rotten apple caught in her throat. “After all, Equalism is about equality, not throwing ponies into jail.”

“Oh, yeah? Then what do you do with the thieves?” Silver asked doubtfully.

“There won’t be any thieves under Equalism, because nopony will need to steal.” She insisted.

“Uh... huh.” Silver doubted audibly, and repeated in the same tone as before, ”But what do you do with the thieves?”

She chuckled. “You can’t steal property if everypony owns it.”

“Water, air, land, forests, airspace... Believe me, it’s possible. It used to belong to everypony, and then somepony takes it, because it becomes valuable, and it becomes worth taking, and using. But let’s pretend you create that Equalist utopia you dream about at night. If nopony needs to steal, what do you do with the ponies who do anyway?”

“Rehabilitation!” She decided. “They’ll be rehabilitated, like all criminals under Equalism.”

Silver pretended to smile approvingly, and made a noise of understanding. “Hm, like you tried to rehabilitate Twilight and her friends?”

“Exactly!” Glimmer beamed, glad he finally seemed to be ‘getting it’. Surely, his hatred of her and her Equalism came solely from a position of ignorance, and if she kept this up, she would eventually educate him on how good equalism REALLY was, and always would be. Then they could stop arguing, and become friends again! After he apologized for embarrassing her with this argument in public, of course.

Rainbow Dash’s forehooves swiftly met her face, and her friends did the same, with one hoof each. Except for Fluttershy, who covered her eyes with her wings, no longer able to watch. And except for Twilight Sparkle, who wasn’t there.

Ponies who’d heard about Twilight’s adventures – That is to say, every pony present in the room – Booed Glimmer like she’d personally wronged each and every one of them. Cries of “Monster!” and “Thought-Policer!” sounded out, and Silver enjoyed them for a moment, and then made himself look good by gesturing for the booing to end.

“Boo, you stink!” Some stallion shouted out from in the crowd, a little late but certainly angry enough to make up for it.

“Glimmy, Glimmy, GlimmyGlimmyGlimmyGlimmyGlimmy,” Silver began. “I get that you think Equalism can save the world, but it can’t. What you want to do, and what all Equalists want to do, is take away a significant part of every pony. Their individuality, their identity, their ability, their capability to take pride in themselves and the good they do for the world, all so things will look equal to you. And that’s bad. It’s like pulling a pony’s face off and replacing it with a mask. There are still individual ponies under those masks, and they’ll eventually take the masks off unless they’re shamed and brainwashed into keeping them on, by Equalist leaders. And then they’ll still take the masks off around their close friends and family members, unless you convince them they can’t trust anypony enough to take their masks off around them. A sense of individual identity is necessary in the development of a healthy and functioning growing pony, along with a sense of where you come from and where you’re going. You can’t take that away from ponies without hurting them. And that’s so obvious, there are even some Equalist leaders who know that.”

Glimmer was absolutely seething at this point. “What do you mean?” She asked through the clenched teeth of a fake smile.

“Well, some renamed minor variations of Equalism do this thing, this particularly annoying thing, where they encourage and enforce mindless obedience to the ideology’s dogma, and then fulfill each member’s repressed instinctive need for individuality by encouraging them to artificially emulate pre-approved design elements and fake personality traits to put on and exaggerate to give each member the illusion of being an individual cog in a greater machine...” He paused, and considered his audience. “I mean, some versions of Equalism – which have different names but are still Equalism when you take away all the fancy-shmancy double-talk and triple-talk - do this thing, this really annoying thing, where they encourage their followers to think the same and talk the same and act the same. And be the same. But life forms aren’t meant to be the same, and if they were, evolution wouldn’t exist. But, so Equalism’s blind followers can still feel like they’re still unique free-thinkers with their own opinions and views, and so Equalism’s followers can feel like they’re all cool individuals in a diverse group full of different people who all came together to fight for what they think MUST be right if so many different beings like it, the Equalism books and Equalism preachers say to act weird and dress up in stupid clothes and call themselves stupid things, so followers of Equalism can pretend they’re cool smart individuals who all agree with each other, and not just interchangeable, mindless and soulless drops of rain in a flood, or falling snowflakes in an avalanche, ruining things for everypony else.”

“But... But they’re just changed versions of Equalism, not the real thing!” Glimmer insisted.

“Those who made these changed versions saw faults not with the Equalist ideology, but with its methodology, and changed their dogma to be more palatable. It’s still Equalism, it just offers slightly different lies and speaks in a way that sounds more appealing. It’s still a faulty ideology preached by liars and spread by cultists who want power and slaves, no matter the cost. Tell me, have you seen Equalist clubs in Manehattan, where Equalists like yourself compete to see who can be ‘The Most’ Equalist? Bullying and harassing each other and excluding each other for the slightest of imagined infractions against Equalism, all to cultivate an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty to force each other to keep believing, and keep being SEEN believing. They bully each other for not seeming to believe in Equalism enough, because nothing is ever Equal ENOUGH for these lunatics. I’m going to go there soon, and I’m going to tell them why Equalism doesn’t work. I will talk them out of the confused loops of circular logic they have talked each other into, and I will set their minds free of the Equalist bear-trap that’s clamped down on their brain, and yours. I will cure them of this illness.”

Glimmer gaped. “You can’t say that! You can’t just call ideologies illnesses!”

Why not? The Equalism pathogen makes ponies unable to think clearly and function as healthy adult ponies. It turns ponies so crazy, they end up thinking it’s perfectly justifiable to attack somepony they perceive as one who stands in the way of Equalism. They end up thinking it’s perfectly justifiable to attack that one, or ruin that one’s life, or even travel through time to ruin that one’s life before it really began, ruining the world for everypony in the process. Look, Glimmy, that shrivelled ball of hate you call a heart is ALMOST in the right place, but your brain isn’t. You need to get your brain out of your butt and back where it belongs: Your head. Use your head and realize how dumb this ideology is. I don’t resent you for thinking your ideology can work out if you just work hard enough to force this anti-hard-work ideology onto the world, but it just doesn’t work. It’s like forcing a square metal bar into a round hole: You ruin the hole, because it doesn’t fit, no matter how hard you wish it would.

“No,” She said quietly. “NO!” She snapped furiously, starting to cry. “That’s not true! It can work! I can make it work!”

“Let me guess: Every time Equalism didn’t work, it’s because it wasn’t REAL equalism, right?” He sarcastically offered, punchably waggling his eyebrows.

“Right!” She agreed.

“And every time an Equalist government failed its people and the ideals it claimed to fight for and represent, the right ponies just weren’t in charge, right?”

“Right!” She agreed harder.

“Of course the right ponies are never in charge of an Equalist government: They’re Equalist!” Silver declared, and laughed. “Equalists make Donkeys look wishy-washy!”

Starlight Glimmer gasped. “You can’t say that! That’s offensive to Donkeys!”

Cranky Doodle Donkey spoke up. “I thought it was funny!”

“That’s because it was!” Silver agreed, taking a small cobalt-blue rectangle of paper and throwing it to him. “Here, buy yourself something nice.”

Cranky caught its corner in his mouth, rotated it up into his field of vision, and quietly read it aloud. “Silver Star’s Sundries: 2 for 1 on Selected Items. Cheapest Item is free. Restrictions Apply.”

“But really, think about it,” Silver began. “To believe in Equalism, you have to be willing to ignore all the arguments against it, all the explanations on how it doesn’t work, all the testimonials on how it doesn’t work from Ponies and Griffons who’ve survived under it, and whatever tiny voice inside one’s head is responsible for wondering if perhaps, one isn’t really ‘All That’, and perhaps, as they say in the vernacular, one’s farts really do stink. To believe in Equalism, you have to be willing to ignore all the bad your ideology does, plans on doing, dreams about doing, gloats about doing, and has done in the past. To believe in Equalism, you have to be utterly detached from reality, cause and effect, and the populace you want crushed under your hoof. You need to be willing to ignore objections from ponies who haven’t yet lived under Equalism, ponies who survived it, the ghosts of ponies who didn’t, and ponies who are surviving under it right now. You have to be absolutely certain that you know best, and only you and those who think exactly like you, are worth listening to. Those aren’t exactly the qualities of a good leader. But how else could you fool yourself into thinking a fundamentally faulty government system could work if enough ponies were forced into it and enslaved by it? Idiot.”

“I... I’m not an idiot! And I didn’t enslave anypony!” She insisted, tears welling up in her eyes again.

“No, those ponies gave up their lives, Cutie Marks, dreams, and identity because they WANTED to,” Silver chuckled as he looked around the room, his eyes silently asking everypony he looked as if they could believe this mare. “I’m sure your lying, cultish propaganda, and shaming tactics didn’t affect their judgement in the slightest.”

”Why are you acting like Harmonism is any better? Harmonism enslaves ponies, by making them work for a living!”

“Oh, really? Well, let’s ask some hard workers in this town for their view on things.” Silver decided.

Another Silver walked out from behind him. “You know, because you aren’t one!” He declared.

“I think everypony got that, but thanks anyway,” Silver said, hoof-bumping the copy of himself and dismissing it in a puff of wispy blue smoke. “Hey, Applejack!” The remaining Silver shouted suddenly.

Her muffled voice called from somewhere in the crowd. “Eeyup?” She asked as ponies moved aside to give her a clear view of Silver, and give everypony else a clear view of her.

“You farm a lot, right?” He asked.

“Eeyup,” She said, not sure where this was going.

“It’s hard work, isn’t it?” He asked.

She figured out where this was going. “Eeyup,” She agreed with a warm smile, ready to say some nice-sounding stuff about the importance of hard work, how great your muscles felt after a day of honest work, and how even though the sun was a bit too hot sometimes, and even though her hooves and hips ached after a long day at the farm, it was worth it because she was feeding her family, feeding the world, and helping the beautiful country of Equestria in her own important way.

“If you could get away with it, would you trot over to some school for young foals, make up a fake cultish political ideology called Foodism on the way there, and preach it to them while calling Harmony evil and Foodism good, to trick everypony who’ll listen to you and trust you into giving up their goals and dreams while giving you all their money and clothes and everything else they own, so they can move to your farm and wear ratty old rags and live there forever in return for free labour almost all day, every day?” Silver asked. “Would you then bully Foodists into remaining on your farm and continuing to work, while making books full of lies that call Foodism the best ideology ever, while encouraging readers of these books to force their local governments to become Foodist-controlled giant farms where Foodists farm and non-farmers and non-Foodists are thrown in jail and all you have to do is supervise your Foodists and eat the literal fruits of their labour for free?”

That wasn’t even remotely where Applejack thought that was going! She was absolutely disgusted by the thought, as were many others in the room. “Nnnope!”

Good, because that makes you a better pony than Coal Marks, the bitter, lying founder of Communialism, a movement that would go on to rename itself Marks-ism, Socialism, and, eventually, yes, Equalism. It changed its name and nothing else, nothing that truly matters, because it’s fundamentally a faulty solution to a problem Coal Marks imagined up and exaggerated for the sake of propaganda and scaremongering, a problem Ponykind already solved on its own Millennia ago. Marksism refuses to admit this to itself and the world because if ponies realize Marks-ism doesn’t work, has never worked, and can never work, they won’t want to put Mark-ists in positions of power. And if Mark-ists don’t get positions of power, they can’t abuse their power to force Marks-ism onto others.

The black spots on Glimmer’s horn and right flank faded away into nothingness, because this debate was pretty much over, so the need to keep Glimmer from doing anything stupid had passed. That’s what Silver thought, anyway.

Glimmer looked up at her horn, and back at her flank. And then, Silver Star spoke.

“Honestly,” The Unicorn said as if it was obvious, as he lined up the final blow and prepared to strike. “You keep saying hierarchies are unnatural fake social constructs, but hierarchies can be seen in all natural societies across the world, across the multiverse, even in animals. Wolves, Monkeys, Rabbits... Even Lobsters have hierarchies.”

She smirked, confident that she’d gotten him. “So you’re saying we should organize our society along the lines of the lobsters?”

Silver closed his eyes, and smiled. The party grew quiet. The world grew quiet. Birds in mid-chirp paused, as did their natural predators in mid-pounce. The crackling flames of the sun continued, but grew quieter anyway. The air thickened with tension as Silver prepared for the roast to end all roasts. He was about to end this mare’s whole criminal career!

“I’m saying even Lobsters are too smart to be Equalist,” Silver remarked.

Screams of awe flooded the room, and Silver grinned victoriously as he found himself lifted up by crowds of cheering ponies as they collectively lost their marbles. Across the world, birds, cats, dogs, squirrels, rabbits, cats, dogs, howls and meows and screeches and rabbit noises could be heard worldwide. Underwater, dolphins, sharks, and sea monsters cheered, bubbles flying from their mouths to the surface, a bubble popping above the ocean blue every few seconds to unleash the sound of cheering sea life. Even the sun grew a temporary face, just so that it could scream.

Starlight Glimmer was horrified as a town full of ponies who had clearly still secretly resented her all along celebrated and hooted while he grinned and grinned and practically drank her tears.

Tears spilled from her eyes in thick and heavy streams, and she screamed.

A sickly green glow erupted from her horn and engulfed her whole body, and she flew at Silver, rocketing at him with enough force to break something as she prepared to charge right at him and all the ponies holding him up. He didn’t seem mad now, so he was helpless!

He seemingly knew what she would do, and he didn’t flinch. A corona of orange energy flared up around him and spread outwards, accelerating as it engulfed the barn and slowed everything. It felt like she was pushing through some kind of weird dough, something soft that grew tougher and harder to move through every second, and it caught her form before she could touch him. He casually glanced at her immobilized body, her horn, and back at her, savouring the shock and confusion. Her horn’s magic felt like it was sucked away, in the way that heat gets sucked away by the touch of cold things, and though the light around her body went out, she didn’t fall.

Nopony could move freely, except for him. Nopony could cast magic, except for him.

With a great deal of effort, he grinned, and through grit teeth, he spoke. “Twenty years,” He tried to say, revealing that this spell also made it harder for him to move, it just affected him less. He hopped down from the ponies who’d lifted him up, landing on four legs. “It took you twenty years to create a spell that shouldn’t exist because you were salty over your crush getting his life together and moving on from you. It took me two hours to perfect a spell that I felt like experimenting with because I was bored. Here, try this new buff.”

A warm wave of empowering blue magic shot from his horn to her body and washed through it, though the pleasant tingle in her muscles was strangely offset by a tightening sensation in her core. “What did you just cast on me?” Glimmer demanded.

“Just a little something I’ve been working on.” Silver shrugged casually, and then a wide grin broke out on his face as his eyes grew cold and his breathing grew deeper and slower. “Something to make this a little more equal.”

The orange aura he’d unleashed faded away.

Glimmer opened her mouth, and a metal ball the size of a boulder shot up from the ground, striking Glimmer in the jaw, slamming her jaw shut on her tongue.

Rainbow Dash’s eyes widened in shock. ‘I didn’t even see his horn glow!’ She thought.

His front hooves swiped her front hooves out from under her as his leaping rear hoves sent him into a quick spin, landing on his forehooves and sending a quick right kick into her face while his tail gripped her neck and swung her around his body, working with the momentum and tossing her into the ground in front of him. Her body was spotless and completely unharmed, thanks to his spell, but the pain she felt was worse than anything she’d ever felt before.

His horn flashed, and a massive tornado of blue magic burst from his horn and spread out to keep the two separated from the rest of the party.

“You’re a loser,” Silver said to Glimmer.

And then, the blue tornado burst outwards in glittery blue sparks of Mind Magic, affecting everypony. The Mind spell that had once appeared to be the blue tornado was an illusion all along, it seemed, with a delayed effect for everyone that was looking at it when it went off. Everypony suddenly felt like watching the fight and cheering it on, even Fluttershy, who cheered the most brutally in her adorably soft voice.

A long, clawed limb of orange energy formed around Silvcr’s right forehoof as he stood on his hind legs. He used it to grab her and throw her out of the barn, and he chased after her, running like a Fox.

She recovered and shot lasers from her horn, and with quick jumps to the left and right between each clawed hoof strike at the ground, he dodged each one. She might have been able to outshoot and outfly an amateur duellist or two, even an absurdly powerful one used to overpowering her foes when the chips were down, but Silver, he was used to facing stronger foes and taking them down anyway.

His horn flashed, and he suddenly teleported away in a flash of blue light.

Glimmer sensed a pony teleporting behind her, and she turned in time to see Silver standing there, a long sword in his mouth. “Nothing personal, filly,” He muffled around the blade’s handle.

She blasted a rock-drilling spell into his face, and the beam shot right through his illusionary head as she was struck in her rear with an apple-bucking kick. “Psych!” He announced playfully as she flew through the air like a football, and was caught by another leaping Silver and held upside down as he descended. He brutally slammed her into the ground, head-first, and vanished in a puff of blue smoke.

“Pull!” Silver called out.

Another Silver punched the ground, launching a clawed fox paw of orange momentum energy from the ground beneath her, a giant palm strike that launched Glimmer into the air, where she was struck in the back by a cannonball, and sent flying.

A tree sprung up from the ground in under a second, and she crashed into it face-first, collapsing. She slowly started to get up, and Silver leapt out from the foliage, on his side, landing on her and slamming the horse-elbow of his right forehoof into her with all of his body’s weight behind it. She screamed, and another Silver, a standing one, summoned another cannonball into his hooves and threw it like a basketballer aiming for the net. The cannonball arced gracefully through the air and landed on the back of her head, slamming it into the dirt, muffling her screams.

When the cannonball vanished in a puff of blue smoke, she pulled her head from the ground, miserably spitting dirt and grass in disgust.

“Point,” Silver chuckled, waiting for her to get back up. “I have to say, that spell of mine, the one that converts almost all physical damage to mental and emotional damage, it’s pretty great. I love not having to hold back! Well, I guess I’m holding back, in the sense that I’m not kicking you into a portal that’ll spit you out into space, thanks to a portal I set up on something I physically threw there, but hey, I’m not holding back physically.

As soon as she’d gotten back onto her hooves, he flipped through the air and landed on her head, on two hooves, his forehooves stuck out to the sides. He got off her, summoned a metal table, and slammed her through it face-first, breaking it in two. And then he summoned a ladder, and a table, slamming both down onto her horn hard enough to dent both. 典he best part is, no matter how hard I hurt you, it’ll never be enough! You’ll always deserve worse. Oh, the things I could do to you... Do you think, when Twilight comes back, she’ll question it when I tell her you went on a journey to find yourself? Do you think anypony in town will question it when I sell a new cow to some farmer on the other side of Equestria? Or, perhaps, I’ll turn you into a Parasprite. Those things only live for a week, you know. Or I could turn you into chocolate, and eat you.

He punched the ground, and his enchanted hooves sent her sliding across the ground, scraping her face through the dirt. “Then again,” He chuckled, “Maybe not. Now get up, I didn’t hurt you that bad.”

“You dragged me through the dirt!” Glimmer snapped, getting up, perfectly unharmed.

“See?” He asked, and punched her in the face. “Come on, your ideology supports the idea of harsh punishment for thoughtcriminals, people who commit supposed criminal-level acts when it comes to thinking the wrong thing or not loving the right thing. Just admit your ideology is wrong and you were wrong, and the beating will stop.”

“Never!” Glimmer spat defiantly.

“You’re such a loser,” Silver said in disgust. ”You buy into your loser ideology because you think it’s the world’s responsibility to coddle your feelings and let you do things that make you feel better about yourself. You want to make thinking you’re a loser illegal, and that just makes you a bigger loser.”

“I want to help ponies!” Glimmer snapped like a rabid animal, getting up and firing a sweeping laser beam at Silver, which he dodged by floating upwards, his hooves glowing orange as he straightened his body.

He flipped over in the air, and suddenly rocketed towards her, rear hooves-first, striking her in the face. “Dive kick!” He shouted, and the moment of impact made him bounce back a little. It also sent her flying like a stone skipping across the surface of a big lake, rolling head over heels and getting hurt worse every time.

Huffing and puffing, she got up, her horn lighting up with a sickly green glow.

Silver reared up onto his rear legs, and folded his forelimbs while staring down at her.

“What are you doing?” Glimmer asked.

“You’ll see.” Silver said, launching a blue bolt of magic from his horn into the air, where it split apart into a rain of sparking blue arrows that slightly homed in on their target. She ran to the side to dodge, and he teleported to where he predicted she’d be, slamming a hoof into the side of her jaw and sending her stumbling back into the rain. Each electric arrow sunk into her body with a painful zap, and she screamed, collapsing.

She got back up, flew into the air, and violently swung her head down, launching a brutal spinning drill laser at his face.

He didn’t try to dodge. Instead, with a loud ‘BLIP!’, he formed a blue hexagonal shield that bounced the laser right back at her, where it struck her horn and made her scream. A smoky green trail was left leaking from her horn, and tears started to well up in her eyes.

“I can’t believe an idiot like you managed to fight Twilight Sparkle to a standstill!” Silver chuckled, trotting over to her, grabbing her with a clawed paw of orange energy and throwing her into the air. And despite his apparent cockiness, he was sure to keep a close watch on her. Glimmer was certainly a magically powerful foe, and if he played fair, and played her little game of firing lasers and taking turns dodging them, she’d get a lucky hit sooner or later, which meant it was his goal to keep her off-balance. HE decided what game they were playing, HE dictated the pace of the fight, and HE decided who would win. ”Was she holding back, for fear of hurting you? She had to be, that’s the only way she could have trouble giving a shallow thug like you what you deserve.”

Silver casually walked beneath her falling form and, waiting for the right moment, he jabbed his glowing horn up at her, a powerful short-range electromagical current rushing through her body as she screamed and flailed, jolting her back into the air. This time, when she arced back down, she landed in a beaten and battered heap of limbs.

Not even giving her the chance to get back up, Silver teleported Starlight Glimmer twenty feet into the air and watched her fall towards the ground. When her horn started sparking, trying to get a proper light going, he used an Earth Wall spell to bring up a three-foot-tall earthen block to strike her falling form in the ribs, knocking the wind out of her and getting rid of her pesky magic.

“Get up!” Silver shouted. “Get back up, monster! Don’t you want to see my final form? Don’t you want to experience the power I worked hard for?”

Glimmer shakily got back up and slowly a green shield around herself, her unsteady, abused horn squirting out green sparks and glowing, sizzling green liquid. “I wanted Equality! I wanted to help ponies!”

Smirking, Silver slid up to her and formed his blue hexagonal shield before dismissing it again and again, each loud ‘BLIP!’ like a hoofstep in a stampede that trampled over her will, body, mind, and soul. “You wanted the whole world to be ‘Equal’, alright. Equally beneath your hoof!” Silver yelled in disgust over the sound of his shield’s own ‘BLIP!’ing.

The pressure this rapid shield attack put on Glimmer’s mind and body was intense, and she got the feeling that if she let the shield drop, even for a second, an even worse pain would be in store for her. “You can’t understand-” She tearfully shouted.

“I understand everything,” Silver said, tearing a hole in her weakened shield with a laser from his horn, leaping through the hole to shut her jaws with an uppercut that cancelled her spell. While she was stunned, he gripped her horn with a crab-like claw of orange energy that formed at the end of his hoof, clamping down hard. She screamed and even though the spell he’d cast on her transferring bodily damage to her mind and emotions, cracks started to form on her horn. Green, glowing cracks. He could have shattered it, and it would have taken six whole months to regrow properly, but he decided to use her horn as a handle and throw her to the ground.

“Nah,” He decided, walking away.

“What... You aren’t going to finish the job?” Glimmer growled. “I thought you said I was evil! Where’s that bravado? Where’s that wannabe heroism? What, are you just gonna walk away from this, you coward?”

Silver took twenty steps away, and looked off into the distance.

“You know, something’s been bugging me,” Silver admitted to himself, as a magical copy of himself teleported to his side.

“How much this pony’s been allowed to get away with by an idealistic amateur with good intentions and an overwhelming desire to not admit to Celestia that she can’t save this pony, even though learning not every life can be saved is the hardest lesson you can learn?” The second Silver asked, and two Silvers appeared behind him, one with an orange baseball bat coated in blue flames.

“Besides that,” The first Silver said as a copy appeared on his other side, armed with a big blue sword topped with serrated orange edges. “In every alternate timeline Glimmer’s evil actions created, things got worse and worse as the residual but ever-increasing evil of the new timeline’s creator sent Equestria into downwards spiral after downwards spiral... But at no point did Twilight ever encounter a timeline in which Glimmer won!”

“Perhaps it’s because her ideology is flawed, regressive, cruel, and stupid?” Silver wondered.

“Ah, but it tells anypony who’ll listen it’s only being cruel to be kind!” Silver noted mockingly.

“Indeed, and it tells its followers they can’t be trusted with rights or freedoms.” Silver reminded him.

“It would seem followers of this ideology certainly can’t!” Silver chuckled, horn flashing blue as he formed ten copies of himself. “Give them the right to free speech, and they’ll order you to take it away from them!”

“Perhaps that’s why they consider having your rights removed something you should love your Equalist leader for!” Silver offered, as more and more clones started to teleport themselves in, until a whole army of Silvers a hundred strong surrounded Glimmer.

Some Silvers let out a furious combined yell, rushing at Glimmer and delivering kicks and magical lasers and arcing magical blasts into her curled-up body. Those who couldn’t get close enough to see her cast spells and hexes and curses to weaken this monster more.

And despite how many Silvers attacked, there were still more left around Glimmer to watch her suffer, and talk to each other while it happened.

“Perhaps that’s why Equalist leaders promote Equalism: They want to be loved and granted absolute power over their idiot wannabe-peasant fans.” Silver suggested.

“And perhaps that’s why Equalist fans love it so much: They want the right to make their own decisions, and the responsibility to make good decisions, taken away from them by an unquestionable monarch,” Silver concluded.

“Monarch? If a King or Queen tried to commit even half of the atrocities Equalist and Marksist governments have given their worlds, it’d be curtains for the whole royal family!” Silver chuckled.

“Perhaps that’s because with Monarchy, all of a country’s woes can be blamed on a singular all-powerful entity you can rebel against. And with Capitalism and Harmonism, a country’s problems can be blamed on politicians you can oppose and ideas you can freely argue against without fear of punishment. But with Equalism, the problems truly are inherent within the system. You can fix a few of the worst things wrong with Equalism, to make it work as intended: A lie the corrupt use to take power and keep it. But you can’t make this broken ideology good, and its supporters have no real interest in trying. Equalism says Equalism is good and pure, according to Equalism. Equalism says those who don’t love Equalism are on the wrong side of history, according to Equalism.”

Another Silver chuckled. “The wrong side according to who?”

“Equalists, and only Equalists. Which is why Equalists hate non-Equalists so much, and why they often try to take over schools, where they can teach impressionable foals to think on the ‘Right’ side of Equalism, so the foals won’t get on its bad side. Isn’t it arrogant that they all think they’ll be the only ones ruling the world in the future, deciding for the world what is and isn’t allowed to be said and thought, writing new history books while burning the old, grinding all life beneath their hooves while calling their new world perfect?”

“Hey, if they weren’t arrogant jerks, they wouldn’t believe in an ideology that says all sentient life forms are worthless idiots who can only live peacefully without exploiting each other if an all-powerful Equalist ruler takes charge and handles the exploitation duties for them. What losers.”

“Loser,” One Silver paused in mid-kick to chuckle, before continuing to kick Glimmer, harder.

“Loser!” Another Silver enthusiastically agreed, filling the mare with deadly golden lightning that sent her body twitching.

“Loser! Loser! Loser!” They chanted together, beating her down even harder.

And then, one Silver grabbed Glimmer and tossed her into the air, and the rest lit up with orange flames of raw momentum, flying through the air and spiralling beautifully around her like swarms of orange butterflies, before turning violent and drilling into her from the top and bottom, each clone bursting on impact into clouds of blue smoke after it delivered its velocity into her body with punches hard enough to hurt and detonate themselves. “SILVER STAR TEN-K ARMAGEDDON!” The crowd roared.

It was a violent move that could be seen for miles around, colossal twin orange twisters violently crashing into a single point.

When Silver seemingly ran out of clones willing to fly, the twisters dispersed, letting the bruised and battered Starlight Glimmer fall to the ground.

“Are you ready to give up on your evil ideology yet?” Silver asked.

“Never!” Glimmer shouted.

“Shame,” Silver said cheerfully, horn lighting up, a metal wall forming behind her and spiking its foundations into the ground, and he turned around and bucked his rear hooves into her like she was an apple tree and it was time to harvest. She sailed through the air, into the metal wall, and created a starlight-shaped impression on it, almost like she’d stuck her face and body into clay that was about to be baked.

Starlight Glimmer fell from the wall to the ground, and Silver looked down at the defeated Unicorn before him, circling her like a shark. “So, do you feel like

Her eyes snapped open, burning with rage.

“That is IT!” Starlight shouted, her horn glowing.

And then the metal wall behind her slammed down on her.

She screamed and magically obliterated the metal wall, and he dismissed it in a flash of blue magic before its scattered steel shards could hurt anypony.

“That is IT!” Starlight shouted, her horn glowing. Her mind went through the list of combat spells she knew, but only one seemed like it was enough to end this. She beat herself up often enough - once every few months or so, and thinking about what she’d done any more than that seemed pointless - so she didn’t need some rich jerk from Canterlot doing it for her! Her horn lit up with a sickly greenish glow, she put down her head, she spread her hooves, she grit her teeth, and she fired the spell that would strip him of his Cutie Mark.

Silver’s horn flashed, and the ground beneath Starlight’s hooves rotated suddenly, the end of her beam fizzling as she lost her focus.

“Oh no, one-directional highly-telegraphed beam spells, my one weakness.” Silver snarked sarcastically, using an earth spell to send a head-sized chunk of the ground off to her right flying right into her face like a strong hook, the impact turning the earth to dust and knocking her head away, following it up with a second earth strike that knocked it back toward him, and the earth beneath her head moved out of the way for a flying chunk of deep-earth rock to strike her in the jaw, sending her body flying into the air like a ragdoll.

“You don’t think the world knows about you getting your crimes pardoned by its newest and most inexperienced leader? You think it’s just ponies obsessing over the past? They’re disgusted by what you’ve done. They’re disgusted by what you ARE, Glimmer!” Silver shouted up to her as he followed the spiralling, sprawling, screaming pony’s inelegant path back to earth. “The ponies that hate you have good reasons for hating you, and the ponies that like you... Well, either they see something within you that isn’t there, or they can relate to sucking half as much as you do. Or, perhaps, they wish they, too, could be forgiven as often as you. I don’t know, I’m not really an expert on psychology.”

When she landed on the ground, she seemed quieter, and weaker, and less bitter. “I’m making up for what I’ve done!” She sobbed.

“Oh, you’re making up for your crimes?” Silver asked, amused, and then he snapped. “HOW?!” He roared. “What are you doing to make up for everything you’ve done? Do you hunt down ponies worse than you, if you can actually find any? Do you use your magical brute strength to fight monsters? No, you’re dancing around with your new best friend, some pathetic charlatan, the only pony who sucks almost as much as you, while-”

“Don’t talk about my friend like that!” Glimmer

As if he was catching a sword with two hooves, Silver grabbed Glimmer’s face and slammed her into the dirt, cancelling her spell. “NEVER!” He screamed, lifting her up and slamming her down again, face first. “INTERRUPT! ME!” He shouted, punching her hard where her jaw met the upper part of her head.

“Now,” Silver said in a calmer manner, “As I was SAYING... No, you’re dancing around with your new best friend, some pathetic charlatan, the only pony who sucks almost as much as you, while disappointing the only pony on the planet too optimistic and idealistic to see when a criminal needs to answer for everything she’s done, AND too powerful and beloved for the silent majority to feel like it’s time to call her out on that blatant favouritism. The universe made it easy for you, because you’re an Outlier. The universe loves you so much, it will warp its own reality to drop tailor-made problems in your lap for you to solve, threatening its own operational stability in the process, and you STILL can’t redeem yourself! Because you don’t want to redeem yourself! You just expect forgiveness from everypony, because you’re used to getting it. I’m tempted to wrap your horn in cold iron and just portal you into one of the MANY, MANY towns where you’re considered an outlaw and wanted dead or alive. Better yet, forget the metal. I could kick you through a portal fourty feet in the air, hogtied, horn cracked and covered in mud, and nopony would guess that Silver Star had anything to do with it.”

A metal dome of steel slammed down over both of them, and his horn lit up. He sat on his haunches, grabbed her horn with a hoof, ignited his horn, grabbed her teeth with his magic, and forced her jaw down while holding her head still, and his eyes stared into hers, cracks starting to form along her teeth. “You’ve crossed a line. You and your plans for putting this world beneath your hoof, and destroying it if you can’t have it... you’ve crossed lines you can never uncross. And if you ever try to lie to anypony about what happened here, if you EVER try to selectively omit information to LIE about how much you deserved this, you’ll have to tell them that you tried to take my Cutie Mark away from me, and you’ll have to admit to everypony that you haven’t changed at all. You aren’t sorry for your crimes, and you’re not even trying to make up for them. You’re sorry for getting caught. The very second you thought you met somepony as vile as you, you laughed about your crimes, like they were something to be proud of. And you did it again, when you met me! Do you know what’s something to be proud of? Leaving stability where you found anarchy. Uplifting a civilization of animals into sentient beings where that isn’t illegal, so you can build a long-lasting empire where it’ll never become illegal. Starting with nothing, and taking everything from those who didn’t deserve it. Not just becoming one of the most influential ponies in the world, but using it to help the world wherever it’s needed.”

Glimmer couldn’t respond, and her terrified eyes begged him to stop.

“Do you see, Glimmer? If you tell anypony about what happened here today, you’ll have to admit that you’re a monster. And a monster like you... I could send you to an underground facility in another world, where statues that used to be monsters are repurposed for the good of Equestria and used as batteries. I could transform you into a monster incapable of speech, coated in uncontrollable tentacles, nerve endings enhanced to make every spell and arrow thrown your way hurt even more than today, and I could claim you did this to yourself to gain more power because your unstable foal mind couldn’t handle being told you were wrong. I could say that when I smacked you in the face again and again with cold, hard reality, you snapped. Ponies would believe me. I could claim you tried to blow yourself up to kill me after I gave you the upcoming ultimatum, but I was a Silver Replica the entire time, and the real me was watching somepony with barely ten percent of my strength use strategy to beat you down while eating from a bowl of summoned popcorn until I saw you blow up and leave nothing behind but a small crater. Or I could just take you to the nearest Changeling nest and watch you meet the fate you would have eventually forced upon everypony in Equestria. But you don’t want to live in those alternate timelines, do you? You’d much rather be more than a monster that gets eaten by a bigger and better hero who eats monsters, right?”

He nodded her head. She didn’t nod her head, he moved her head like she was a puppet in his hooves.

“Good girl.” He said condescendingly. “Maybe there’s a place for you in this world, after all. Maybe you’ll find other, more constructive uses for your horn’s strength and your Cutie Mark talent for negative magic. I can hook you up with some contacts, I know a group of Unicorns that owes me favours. Maybe you can find some friends and help them with their lives. Maybe you can start a career as a magical duellist. I'm sure that wrestling-inspired one would love a new villain to hate. But whether a mare like you has a place in this world or not, I do know that it isn’t here, in this town, hurting these ponies. Got it?”

She blinked in shock, and two Silvers grabbed her from behind, holding her still. The one on the left cast a spell in a blue flash of magic, removing her damage-redirecting spell.

Hoof glowing with a dangerous orange light, Silver punched her in the face so hard, he punched the highlights out of her hair and punched the stolen magic out of her body. He summoned an orange crystal chunk to store the violently-swirling rainbow ball of stolen magical energies that flew out of her back. He noticed that the seemingly-sentient magical energy had dragged some of her magical energy out with it, and he stored that with the rest, and dismissed the crystal in a flash of blue light, leaving behind Starlight Glimmer, who was now weaker than she’d ever been before.

Suddenly, those two Silver Spares went from restraining the mare to holding her up. Their horns lit up, transferring magic to the Silver that stood before Glimmer, giving the magical might needed to cast a spell that was normally far, far out of the businesspony’s league.

“Final Sentence,” Silver spoke aloud, his horn glowing and firing a laser beam that painfully burned and painted a black copy of his Cutie Mark between her eyes and around her horn. “This spell will prevent you from breaking any of the seven rules I’m about to set up. If you try, I’ll know, and I’ll make what this Curse will do to you until I track you through the sound of your soul’s screams look like a reward. Rule One: You will not harm an innocent pony ever again, or, through inaction, allow an innocent pony to come to harm. Rule Two: You will not cast a spell on another innocent pony, or do anything to an innocent pony, without that pony’s clearly-stated consent. Rule Three: You will never lie again. Lies through omission, lies through grammar tricks and that ‘Exact Words’ nonsense, and half-truths are also forbidden. From now on, you can only tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Four, you will never seek to act against me, or the ponies of this world ever again. You can not attack Silver Star, Twilight Sparkle, or any other innocent pony. Five, you will never return to this dimension again. Six, you will never say anything good about your worthless and debunked Marksist ideology again. It’s evil, like you, and it should be recognized as such by all. And Seven, you will become a good pony. You WILL spend every second of every minute of every day trying to improve the lives of other ponies in ethical and logical ways sentient life forms consent to, and you WILL repair the damage you’ve done to this universe’s alternate timelines and others, and make up for it in my eyes. And now, for a designated Escape Clause: This Curse can only be broken through the Power Of Completion. Only when you have fixed every bad parallel universe, bad alternate timeline, and bad alternate world in the infinite multiverse can you rest. This is my Final Sentence, Starlight Glimmer.”

“The Sentence Is Witnessed!” The two Silver Spares holding her up spoke in unison, their horns flashing to add their own magical signatures to her black mark, and with that, it faded away.

The main Silver leaned close to her face, and whispered as his horn started to ignite once again, his copies matching his light. “If I ever see you again, nopony will ever see you again. Get out of my town, get out of my country, and get off my planet.”

A blue portal opened up behind her, to a bleak world of drab greys and ponies fighting on a miserable mountainous battlefield under a sky coated in black clouds, and he forcefully spun her around, forcing her to look at it.

“You see that?” The Silver on the left whispered in her ear. “That’s one of the realities you ruined for everypony, out of petty spite.”

“You’re going to go through each one, and fix each dimension.” The Silver at her right ear explained. ”Not your way, with mindless brute force, but the good way. The Pony way. And as soon as you step through that portal, your Curse will activate.”

“Consider this the first day of your quest to redeem yourself in my eyes, the only eyes you have to care about from now on,” The main Silver finished, and he walked away, like she was nothing more than mere garbage left to rot and decay in the sun. His clones vanished.

A hole opened itself up in his metal dome for him, allowing him to leave, and Glimmer stood there, shaking.

She thought he was going to throw her in. Or even kick her in.

But instead, he just left her there.

She turned and watched him leave, shaking, crying, and mentally breaking.

What was he thinking? Didn’t he realize that if his Final Sentence only activated once she left this universe, nothing was stopping her from remaining in it?

She could violate every law he set for her. Every rule, and every limit.

And she could have revenge.

Or, she could turn around, walk through that portal, and try to fix the messes she’d made.

She could accept a lifetime of penance, or try and get revenge.

A lifetime of rules and suffering and stuffy good-guy nonsense, or revenge.

Yeah. Glimmer knew what she was doing today.

The spell took longer to charge, and it was so, so much harder to cast with her new, weaker power level, but there was no way she would just let Silver walk away after what he’d done to her.

Even as the magical energies burned inside her, like red-hot vomit rising through her body and pooling within her damaged horn, she kept charging, and when her rage and hatred were at their peaks, she threw away the last of her energy and fired, right at the seemingly unaware Silver.

He sensed the magic beam, and turned around, absolutely furious. “GLIIIIIIIIIIIIMMEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!” He roared, unleashing a beam of his own from his horn, a 120mm-wide column of blue energy that overwhelmed her magical beam and blasted her own energy, and his, into her, engulfing her and knocking her through his portal.

The portal sealed up, the metal dome vanished in a flash of blue magic, and he sighed. He was sweaty, exhausted, and gasping for air, and he collapsed.

“Wow, that was an ordeal,” He groaned.

As he caught his breath, and allowed his elevated heart rate to return to normal, he thought about the gem, the orange gem. His gem. The gem of Silver Star. The gem that now, thanks to him, contained an absurd level of magical energy. Energy he’d stolen from Starlight Glimmer, who stole it from ponies she’d... devoured. Yes, that was a good way to put it. Her ideology was like a vicious, rabid, predatory animal, feigning weakness until you showed weakness, and then, it would strike, and kill you, or weaken you and your country so some other monster could. It infected others, when it snapped, too.

He thought of the stuff he’d said to Glimmer, about how good ponies with lots of money can do good things for the world.

He was a good pony, with a lot of money. And he was thinking of setting up a hotel in this town, just to prove that he could.

But power...

Glimmer had been stronger than him. And if he hadn’t purposefully dominated her for so much of that match, she might have ripped his Cutie Mark away. She almost came close to doing that, at one point, after all.

So... he’d beaten Glimmer, both literally and metaphorically, and kicked her out of his universe. He would never see her again, unless he ran into her during some multiversal adventure.

Could she turn her life around? He doubted it, but he’d been wrong about assuming the worst in ponies before.

Then again, that pony hadn’t been anywhere near as evil as Starlight Glimmer.

She was a monster.

A monster he defeated.

And that gem, the orange gem, his gem, the gem of Silver Star...

The gem that now, thanks to him, contained an absurd level of magical energy, energy he’d stolen from Starlight Glimmer, who stole it from ponies she’d killed and plundered dry. So dry that they turned to dust when she was done with them.

Was this fate? Was that gem, and the boost to his magic it could provide, his reward for ridding this world of another monster?

Part of him wanted to bring that gem back out and absorb the magic from it, and put it to better use than Glimmer ever did. With that kind of power, he could defeat Twilight Sparkle, if he had to. He could also use it to defeat evil versions of Twilight Sparkle he encountered in alternate universes through sheer power, instead of having to cheat them out of fair fights with trickery and underhanded gimmicks.

He’d helped himself to the ‘Spoils of war’ before, when taking down rich, corrupt monsters. And he had quite the collection of Villain Cards.

So... Why did some strange and strong part of him feel so disgusted at the idea of taking the magical energies from that gem?

If he became stronger, he could take on stronger foes he’d been forced to overlook and save for later, elsewhere in the multiverse. If he became stronger, he could do good more often... right?

So why did the idea of getting stronger in that way feel so wrong?

Horn lighting up, he summoned something.

A black can of some orange energy drink, which he opened and gulped down on the spot.

When the dangerously potent mixture of energy potion and vitamin-laced caffeine-infused sugar-filled drink infused his body with energy, he screamed in exhilaration.

Better. That definitely made him feel better. He dismissed the can, but...

He kept thinking.

If he wasn’t going to absorb the magic from that gemstone, what could he do with it? He couldn’t just put it on a shelf somewhere in his pocket dimension as a trophy of his victory. If he put it there, it would just gather dust forever, the spirits and wishes and everything else that made up a pony’s magic trapped within it screaming silently for the rest of eternity.

Perhaps...

Perhaps there was another way.

Some way to use that gemstone, not for personal gain, or for personal gain that would help others, but for some other purpose. Something that would universally benefit all good ponies in Equestria.

He just had to figure out what it was.

And he was quite sure that, given enough time, he’d think of something great.

After all, he was a genius. One whose genius was enhanced with hard work.

That’s what he believed, anyway.

With that settled, he got back up, and trotted back to the party.

Along the way, he formed a Silver Spare, who teleported himself outside of the barn to grab the Outlier status he’d punched out of Glimmer, absorb it with an orange gem, send it back to their pocket dimension, and vanish. And another Silver Spare, who teleported over to Twilight’s house, to deliver a certain something.

When he returned, he saw every pony in town besides himself and Twilight waiting outside the barn, staring at him.

They’d watched the fight, he realized.

Silver decided to end the Mind Magic he’d cast on everypony to stop them from stopping his fight with Glimmer.

And as soon as he did that, the atmosphere changed.

A cheer erupted from the crowd as they ran over to him and lifted him into the air, and lifted others into the air so they could lift him higher, and every pony celebrated, except for one.

Trixie was left behind, all alone in the corner, and she was quietly looking down, thinking clearly for the first time in what felt like forever.


“Hey, guys!” A Silver Spare shouted into a blue megaphone he summoned, stopping the herd of Spares as they magically reconstructed Twilight’s home. “I just got something we can use for the house!”

“You what?” The Silver Spare closest to the aforementioned spare asked.

Wanting to keep it a secret to everypony besides himself, the Silver Spare formed another Spare through magic, and then, that copy bit his own tongue, vanishing in a puff of magic and giving all of them the knowledge and memories of the Silver Spare currently smiling at all of them, who was charging up magic for a summoning spell.

Many Silvers murmured “That’ll work”s and “We could do that”s, but one groaned openly.

“Great, so much for putting an open-air hot tub in the crystal tree’s leaves and making it look like a bird’s nest on the outside,” He grumbled.

“Don’t our plans already include a hot tub room?” Silver asked.

“Yeah, but this one would be open-air, and that’s way cooler!” Silver insisted. “Now we’ll have to put it above her house somehow. Maybe mounted into an invisible magically-hardened cloud, enchanted to sustain an illusion spell around the hot tub.”

“What if we rigged the place to work as a weather-controller? Then the cloud wouldn’t look so out-of-place.”

“If we’ve got some spare magic left over, let’s make that an optional feature.”

“Good idea!” Silver agreed. “Twilight is going to love what I’ve done with this place! Quick, somepony, summon a camera, I want to record her when she sees it.”

Comments ( 7 )

This was a cathartic chapter, well done.

This was so very satisfying.

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Thanks! Share it with your friends, especially those who don't like Glimmer.

I'm afraid I have to disagree with most people on this chapter. While I agree with silver's ideals (communism is a horrible thing), I found myself rolling my eyes halfway through the story. If I wanted a lecture on politics, I could go watch Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, or Gavin McGinnis. Also, while I get some people hate starlight glimmer, I'm personally indifferent to her character, and this chapter did not feel like her character at all (ooc). It felt like you were beating on her for no other reason than you hate her, and that's something I can't get behind. I read this chapter hoping to see a continuation of silver's story, and instead I got an unneeded political lecture (I knew all that already), and a brutal fight. This whole chapter could've been condensed into 2000 words, and it would have been just as good. Don't get me wrong. I love your writing style, and I like the crazy adventures, but the fun and enjoyment I normally get from your stories was absent here. It felt like a rant rather than a story.

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I understand. Sorry if it went too far, I figured adding in all that "how economies work", "how wealth works", "how rich doesn't inherently equal evil" stuff would make this scene better than the usual anti-commie "This bad guy wants everyone to be the same and that is wrong" stuff.

I already held back a few paragraphs on Specialization and The Division of Labour and how important that stuff is and how communism also kills that, because I felt it was getting too long.

Luckily for me, the next chapter is all-awesome, no-politics. Time to see the fruits of Silver's extreme redecorating adventure! Because that's the kind of kickass action this story will have from now on. ...Just kidding, after Silver shows off Twilight's new house, the mane six and silver go and stop a bank robbery and kick some butt. And we finally see our next Card!

What will it be? It's time to find out!

Now I want to see a fanfic where starlight goes through every universe and become reformed.

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