• Published 18th Dec 2014
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Double Trouble: The Flaws Within - Masterius



Two Twilight Sparkles are not better than one, especially when each are stranded in the wrong world! With the Crystal Mirror broken, is there any way for them to find the way back to their respective homes?

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Chapter 10

Chapter Ten

Once Spike had satisfied himself that the visitors were, indeed, just that—guests rather than intruders—he was ecstatic, frisking about with evident joy. Everyone came in for their fair share of sniffs and licks, and the poor puppy seemed almost overwhelmed by the cornucopia of choices.

Pinkie Pie had ordered several large pizzas, along with two‑liter bottles of assorted soda pop and some sort of gooey chocolate dessert confection. While they waited for the food to arrive, Wiz Kid and Velvet Sky continued delving deep into the material found in the main ‘bedroom’ laboratory. Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Twilight felt a bit awkward, as there was literally no place to sit except for the chairs the kids were using, Wiz Kid having purloined the living room desk chair for his own use in the lab room.

“I feel like Ah’m in Grandma Rich’s parlour,” Applejack clucked, shaking her head as she looked around. “Y’all were afeered t’ brush up against anything and disturb it.”

She nodded in understanding. It really did feel like the mausoleum‑museum Pinkie Pie had—in her own unique and inimitable fashion—called it. Perhaps this environment might have, once, been a comfortable one for Twilight, but after the last few years, this felt…barren. Cheerless. Soulless. This wasn’t a home, someplace to live; this was lifeless, sterile, someplace to work.

Nothing was in disrepair, and it was not as if it was furnished in second‑hand make‑do. But the prioritization of furnishings was glaringly obvious: anything that dealt with comfort came a very clear second to that of functionality and research. Homeyness was not even in the running.

Actually, Twilight realized, she had never been this bad. That might have been because Spike would never have permitted her sinking this deeply into asceticism, or perhaps Princess Celestia had seen to it that Twilight had not ever descended that far. It was probably a combination of the two, she considered.

Yes, she had kept to herself. And, yes, she had turned down every offer to socialize that had come her way. And, yes, research and study were her world. But, even then, she had had a comfortable bed, even a cozy bedroom. She had had vases of fresh flowers (thanks, Spike!). Snacks and drinks. Nutritious and tasty meals. Yes, she had had books or study articles with her on those infrequent occasions she had gone out, but she had also enjoyed being outdoors and feeling the warmth of the sun against her coat while she read or studied. She had even gone on occasional day shopping or field trips to Canterlot. Granted, Princess Celestia had usually needed to drag her out of her studies, kicking and screaming—sometimes quite literally; Twilight blushed in memory—but, once she had actually bowed to the inevitable, she had actually enjoyed her times out and about.

Somehow, Twilight sadly thought as she slowly gazed around the room again, she didn’t think this Twilight was so fortunate. This Twilight was driving herself, and hard; utterly mono‑focused, with an intensity she found disturbing.

Suddenly she gasped, fingers flying up to her mouth. “Is something wrong, Twalaight?” Applejack asked, sounding concerned.

“No, no. I’m OK. Nothing’s wrong, I just thought of something.” At least she hoped she was being honest and that nothing was wrong. Her eyes wandered around the room again, and shivered as she wondered what a person this driven might do…

…when they had all the power of an alicorn at their beck and call.


The pizzas were almost gone when Velvet Sky and Wiz Kid trudged into the kitchenette. “Oh, good!” Wiz said. “I’m starving.”

Velvet nodded as she vainly looked about for plates. “Me, too.”

“Well, why in tarnation didn’t y’all grab some slices and take ‘em with you?” Applejack asked.

Wiz shrugged, tapping Velvet on the shoulder and handing her a cheap paper plate, as he replied, “Didn’t want to make a mess in her lab, or take a chance on spilling sauce or soda on her papers.”

“Where’s Pinkie Pie?” asked Velvet, as she slipped a slice of green pepper, onion, mushroom, and black olives onto her plate, being careful since it was rather flimsy.

“She took Spike out for a walk,” Twilight replied. “I’m not sure who actually was walking who: Pinkie Pie or Spike,” she grinned.

Wiz and Velvet sat their plates atop the kitchen counter, using it as their table, then they each found some foam cups, adding ice before filling them with their preferred soda. As eager as Twilight was for news, she kept quiet, wanting to give them time to eat in peace.

“I hate cold pizza,” Wiz grumbled.

“Really?” Velvet replied. “I love cold pizza. Especially for breakfast!”

Wiz made a gagging sound as he stuck out his tongue. “That’s really gross, Vel.”

“Plebeian.”

“Barbarian.”

“Neanderthal.”

“Philistine.”

“Jock.”

Wiz clutched his chest with a fist. “That’s just mean!

Applejack gave Twilight a look, and then the two of them smothered grins.

The two techies tore through the remaining slices like Spike through gems. Towards the end, they looked apologetically at Twilight, but she just smiled and waved them on. Finally, though, they finished off the final piece, splitting it between them. Refilling their cups, they crumpled up the plates and tossed them in the trashcan underneath the sink before washing up. The wadded paper towels they dried with joined the plates, and at last, they were ready to report their findings.

Such as it is, they warned. And then they began.






“So that’s it, Twilight,” Wiz concluded. He and Velvet Sky exchanged glances before they both turned their focus back to Twilight. “I know we have reputations for being techno‑geeks,” he said. “But what we’ve managed to read so far, with just the papers and documents we found on her desk and workstations, is way above our heads.”

“I—well, the both of us, actually,” Velvet clarified, “understand the basics of what this Twilight was working on. But this is really advanced mathematics and theories.”

“It’s like knowing algebra really well, and then trying to make sense out of calculus, having never even seen calculus before or knowing that it even existed.”

“Gets even worse,” Velvet warned. “It very much looks as if she’s inventing an entirely brand‑new branch of theoretical physics.”

Taking a sip of soda, Wiz continued. “An even bigger problem is that all three of her laptops, as well as her desktop, are password protected. The desktop looks like it’s hardwired into the university network, too.”

“All the really important, very critical data, is probably stored in the school’s mainframes.”

“So unless we can crack her passwords, all that information might as well be on the moon.”

Velvet nibbled her lower lip, looking very unhappy; as did Wiz, for that matter. “We really hate to tell you this, Twilight,” she said, “but I don’t think there’s very much we can do at this end.”

Twilight felt a ball of lead forming in her stomach as Wiz Kid forlornly concluded. “If there’s any help coming, we’re afraid it’s going to have to come from their side.”


It was very quiet. Too quiet, to be honest. Twilight really wished Pinkie Pie had not described here as a mausomuseum because, right now, she had the uncanny, shivery feeling of being in a tomb.

After Wiz Kid and Velvet Sky had unhappily given their report, a somewhat funereal gloom settled on the group. When even Pinkie Pie dejectedly sighs, you know it’s bad!

Twilight just felt…lost. Absolutely, incredibly, one hundred percent lost. She always had a plan for anything and everything. Heck, she even had plans for making plans!

But, not this time.

She did not have her magic. She knew very little about this world. Other than her friends and classmates, she had no resources she could call upon. She was, quite literally, completely dependent on others, a state of affairs that was both uncomfortable and frightening to her.

She had no direction. The two times she had traveled here with a purpose, she had a very clear idea of what was needed. The first time had been to recover her stolen crown from Sunset Shimmer, and the second time had been to break the spell the Sirens had cast on her classmates, and then see to it that they could never do so again. But, this time, she had no goal.

Well, figuring out a way home was her goal, true. Except she had no idea how to do that, and possessed absolutely no skills to achieve that…even if she had any ideas how to do so!

Applejack had helped her drag the cot out from the closet and into the living room before she’d finally left for the evening. Which is where she was currently sitting, Spike happily curled up on her lap and enjoying the gentle stroking. Just the idea of sleeping in the restricted, closeted space where the bed—generous description that was—had been placed had been enough to give Twilight the willies, and she’d finally broken down and almost begged her friend to help her wrestle it out somewhere more open.

Silent tears slowly trickled down Twilight’s cheeks as she gently petted the wriggling dog. From the moment she had seen that fractured statue base, something inside of her had realized a terrible fact: she was stranded here, and very likely for good. Without being arrogant, Twilight knew she was her generation’s paramount magical researcher and practitioner. In fact, she was very likely the most powerful unicorn ever in both those respects, save only their Royal Highnesses Celestia and Luna.

Well, at least concerning pure research, anyway; her actual Mastery still had a lot of room for improvement (granted, Twilight would always see room for personal improvement no matter how well she achieved something) regarding experience and skill. She might have a greater potential than even Starswirl the Bearded, but she certainly had not achieved his expertise!

But all that raw potential, all her prowess, meant nothing in this world, the only Equestrian magic here being the residue of what she had left behind on her first visit, the power that manifested whenever she and her friends played music.

Always before, she had consistently known what she was going to do, always known what direction to go. She might not have been able to completely ensure success, but that had never stopped her attempts. From the moment when, as a foal, she had seen Princess Celestia raising the sun during the Summer Sun Celebration, Twilight had known what her calling had been:

Magic.

She had bent all her focus toward that: Reading; Studying; Practicing. All of that, at first, had been on her own, for she had been considered far too young to attend any practical school of magic at the time.

That had not deterred her at all.

But she’d never realized just how much she’d managed achieving because of the support structure she’d always taken for granted, an epiphany that she’d only just now been gifted with, and one which was making her feel very small and ungrateful.

First, there were her parents. They had always been there for her—and still were, for that matter—a silent presence that Twilight had always presumed. Fresh tears welled up in her eyes as she realized just how important a part they had played in her life. And yet, had she truly ever told them that? Told them how just knowing they were there, ready to stand with her no matter what, whenever she needed them, had been so powerful? That that awareness had allowed Twilight to face anything on all four hooves?

Then there was her brother, Shining Armor. Her big brother, and her very best—actually, at the time, her only—friend. Her parents may have been the ones to give her four strong hooves to stand on, but her brother had been the one to give her wings with which to soar.

And then there was Princess Celestia, her—albeit, former—teacher. But she’d been more than a mere teacher—far, far more: she’d also been her mentor, and, yes, her friend. In more than a few ways, she had been more a second mother to Twilight than “just” a teacher; she’d learned far more ‘life lessons’ at the hooves of Princess Celestia than anywhere else.

And she could never—would never—forget Spike. Yes, he was her “Number One Assistant”. But he was far more than that: at times her conscience, at times her anchor, and at times her confidant. But no matter what, he’d always been her friend.

She had never truly taken any of them for granted. But she had always, subliminally, counted on their reassuring presence, knowing they were always there if, and when, needed.

Only now…they weren’t.

A lump formed in her throat. Twilight very badly wanted nothing more at this moment than the reassuring presence of her father; wanted nothing more than to feel his strong, vigilant body as she pressed against him, feeling his chin resting atop her head as he sheltered, protected, and comforted her.

Spike stopped wriggling. He softly whined as he squirmed about to look at her. Twilight paused in her stroking and Spike shifted about, lifting up a bit and resting paws against her chest as he gently licked the tears from her chin. Tremulously smiling, she gave the endearing dog a hug. No, he wasn’t her Spike, but he was comforting all the same.

She needed that comfort at the moment. Quite badly, in fact.

When they had made plans earlier this afternoon, Twilight had not really thought about the—not‑so‑little, as it was turning out—fact that she would be staying, and sleeping, all alone. She had not done that ever; Spike, at least, had always been nearby, usually within earshot.

It had been an uncomfortable atmosphere after Wiz Kid and Velvet Sky had rendered their disclosures. They had felt as if they had failed Twilight, and both of them had very good ideas what that failure was likely to mean for their friend’s future. Applejack and Pinkie Pie had fared no better and, in some ways, had coped even worse, for they had no real contributions to offer other than moral support…which was actually worth a great deal to her, to be honest.

Matters had then shifted to the more practical ones of mundane logistics. For instance, where was Twilight intending to stay?

The last two times she had visited here for longer than a day, she either had stayed in Canterlot High’s library or had overnighted at Pinkie Pie’s. But, this time, unless she was very, very lucky, she wasn’t going to be here for “just a day or two”.

Staying in Canterlot High School was, of course, out of the question, as it was closed for the summer, while staying with Pinkie Pie, Applejack, or any of her other friends’ homes for more than a day or two would be problematical at best. It was one thing to have a friend visit for one or two days—say, perhaps over the weekend—and quite another to explain away a lengthier visitation.

Besides, Twilight was not at all comfortable about leaving Spike alone except for brief visits to fill his bowls and go for walkies. From what she had observed during their explorations, the other Twilight doted on her dog; which meant Spike would pine, and possibly sicken, if left alone for long periods. Because of that, she had decided it would be best if she simply stayed here, even though that meant she would be far beyond simple walking distance of her friends.

Speaking of walking distance, there was the not‑so‑simple matter of how her friends would be returning home. Pinkie Pie had been the one to point out there had been two sets of keys on the ring, and, after a bit of exploration outside, had discovered the small, two‑door economy car that also belonged to this Twilight. Much like her furnishings, the vehicle was a spartan, bare‑to‑the‑bones car, yet kept scrupulously neat and meticulously maintained. After a bit of discussion, it was decided that Pinkie Pie would “borrow” said car for the duration. It did Twilight no good, after all, since she had no idea how to drive…even if she did have a license to do so.

So Pinkie Pie drove Velvet Sky and Wiz Kid back to their homes, with Applejack riding shotgun. They had promised to return as soon as they had dropped the two off, but, even with that promise, watching them drive off and leave her alone had been an extremely uncomfortable, unsettling sensation.

True to their word, they had not been gone very long. But when she’d opened the door to their knock, she realized they hadn’t simply gone straight back–and–forth.

“C’mon, Twalaight,” Applejack said as she passed through the door with several paper grocery bags in her arms. “Didja think we were gonna let you starve?” Pinkie Pie grinned as she skipped along behind, several plastic bags dangling from her hands.

They had brought milk, juice, cookies, bread, peanut butter, various jams and marmalades, microwavable oatmeal, herbal teas, and hot cocoa mixes. That came from Applejack’s bounty. Pinkie Pie’s, on the other hand…

Grinning ear to ear, Pinkie Pie started removing items from her bags: three small desk lamps, several battered paperback novels of potentially–dubious genres, an enormous quilt, two pair of pajamas, and a pair of alligator‑shaped slippers.

“Sorry we don’t have more,” Applejack apologized. “T’morrow, though, Pinkie Pah and Ah’ll stop by mah place and pick up a coupl’a chairs and stuff. Help make this a bit more homey‑like.”

Before they had left for the night, they had stocked her larder and helped shift some furniture about to give her more open space in the living room. Applejack showed her how to use the telephone, and also gave her a slip of paper with the names and phone numbers of her friends, reminding her that Rarity and Rainbow Dash were away on vacation or summer camp and could not be reached at those numbers until they returned. Pinkie Pie removed the car keys from the keyring, handing it back to Twilight since it held both the mobile lab van keys as well as her door key. They hadn’t, as yet, determined what the remaining keys were for. Pinkie Pie also handed back Twilight’s ID card, otherwise she would be locked out of the building when she left to take Spike on his walks.

Both seemed reluctant to leave. Twilight felt just as loathe, but finally gave them each a hug before sending them on their way, profusely thanking them once again for their thoughtfulness and generosity.


She had had a meal of peanut–butter–and–grape–jam with a big glass of milk, then had fed Spike before taking him out for a final walk. Thankfully, Pinkie Pie had also explained what “walking a dog” entailed, so she was prepared for the certain eventualities that had occurred.

But now it was late at night, and there wasn’t anything to distract her from the crushing sense of loneliness that was pressing down on her like a smothering concrete blanket.

A harsh, rasping buzz had her squeal and jump, her motion startling Spike, who slid off her lap and onto the floor. “Shhhh!” she hushed, holding a finger to her lips as she’d seen her friends do—mostly to Pinkie Pie—to quiet Spike, frightened as he gave a sharp bark. Twilight shivered, recalling the sinister gleam to this world’s Sunset Shimmer’s eyes as she had threatened to have “her” dog taken away if he was a disturbance again.

Standing up, she looked around, puzzled and confused. Just what had made that sound? It seemed to have come from over near the front door, so she slowly started heading that way, carefully examining things.

When it buzzed a second time, she just flinched, surprised again. This time, though, she made out the source of the coarse sound: a palm‑sized square of brushed stainless steel attached by four screws to the wall alongside the door, the left side perforated by a pattern of small holes while the right side had two vertically‑placed pushbuttons, one larger than the other.

She was bending over and scrutinizing the curious object when it buzzed again. This time she did squeal, jerking back and almost landing on her rump. “Just what is this thing, Spike?” she muttered, approaching the noisy fixture. Reaching out, she prodded the larger of the two buttons. It made a buzz, too, just a lighter, gentler version of what she had been hearing.

“Huh,” she muttered again. “That’s weird.” It had not seemed to do anything, and she simply could not deduce its purpose. “Let’s try this one,” she said to herself, suiting action to word as she then depressed the smaller of the two. Doing so simply had the plate make staticky sounds. “This world has some really str‑aange things, Spike,” Twilight muttered.

The only reason she did not jump and squeal when there came a tap at the door was that it was so soft and light she did not think, at first, it was her door being knocked upon. Straightening up from her useless investigation of that pointless device, she quizzically gazed at the door. It was only because Spike had trotted over there that Twilight realized that, yes indeed, it had been her door after all.

Opening the door a crack, nervous about just who might be wishing admittance, she was astonished to discover…

Fluttershy?

Fluttershy cutely squeaked in surprise, not having seen the door cracked open. “Ummm…Hi?” she timidly said. “I…I do hope I’m not interrupting anything? Or being a bother?”

Twilight opened the door wide and motioned for her to enter. Spike took one look at Fluttershy and started frisking about, tail wagging as he gave little leaps. “Oh my!” she enthused. “What a cute little doggy!”

Not wanting to draw any attention—unwanted or otherwise—from anyone, Twilight quickly ushered her friend inside then quickly closed the door. Fluttershy was already crouched down and giving Spike the tummy‑rub of his life. “Who’s a good little boy? You are! Yes you are! Yes you are!”

“Fluttershy, ah…what are you doing here? Not that I mind!” she hastily added, seeing her face fall. “I…I’m just surprised is all. I wasn’t expecting anyone.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be here earlier,” she apologized, her voice so soft Twilight was having a difficult time hearing her. “I didn’t find out about things until a couple of hours ago,” she explained. “And the bus only runs once an hour this time of night. Pinkie Pie said you were staying here, mostly to help keep Spike company so he didn’t get lonely,” and she gazed up at Twilight with eyes of guileless veneration. “So I thought you might like some company, too.”

Only now did Twilight notice the rolled‑up sleeping bag that Fluttershy had carried in with her. “If…if you don’t mind, that it,” she timidly whispered, ducking her head so that her hair fell across her face, as Twilight’s silence only increased her timorousness. “I…I can always go home if you do.”

She started shrinking in on herself, as Twilight remained silent. “I…I’m sorry. I guess I shou—”

Twilight simply dropped to her knees alongside her friend, reaching out and grasping Fluttershy in an embrace so tight it made her squeak. Burying her head against her startled friend’s shoulder, Twilight started quietly sobbing, holding on to her for dear life.

Author's Note:

Updated and revised 02/08/2020