• Published 24th May 2015
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My Little Pony Bizarre Adventures - Part 1: Ponyville Central - LateBronyWriter



One Thousand years ago, the saints Celestia and Luna drew upon the power of the Red Stone of Aja to defeat the demon Discord. Now one thousand years later the Stone is destroyed, beginning the tale of six ponies and their quest to redeem the world.

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Chapter 30-Bastion-Take 2

Bastion-Take 2:


“……..What you do now is you tell us everything that you know!” Lightning Dust slams her hooves into the table as Twilight flinches from the impact. “The reports that got almost fifty of our men killed and caused fifteen of our best Stand Agents to wind up missing came from your little hideout!” Lightning Dust slams her hoof into the table again. “Not only that, but you seem to have recruited some ‘bodyguards’ to help your little operation in these parts. Your actions have been suspicious from day one; even the Princess can see that!”

For the past thirty minutes it had been like this for Twilight. The moment she had arrived in the police station where the Royal Guards had currently made their base of operations, she had been tossed in her bare, smooth-walled cell and had an anti-Stand collar placed on her that suppressed her magic. The room was a combination interrogation chamber and bunking room with its bed locked against the wall, and had a single table nailed to the floor that Lightning Dust was in the process of reducing to scrap metal. The chairs were cold and uncomfortable, probably on purpose, making it difficult for Twilight to focus on the details of Lightning’s words.

Her brother’s words had been reassuring, and she knew that at least she had friends working to get her out of this mess. Zecora was probably updating the Princess on the status of the Corpse Twilight recovered from the Everfree, Trixie was taking care of her friends, and her brother - if nopony else - was probably working frantically to free her from her cell. And then there was Lightning Dust, who had been drilling her for any information that she could, egging her on to slip up and reveal the slightest hint of incriminating evidence. However, Twilight if anything was used to pressure; all she had to do was keep her cool, answer any questions as simply and truthfully as possible.

“And I am telling you that I don’t know what you are talking about,” Twilight says calmly and confidently. Yet even she has to admit she is beginning to crack under Lightning Dust’s pressure. Calmly the unicorn composes herself as she waits for help to arrive. “Look, I did receive some reports of Stand users dispatched to several towns. But I never had access to that many files, and the files that I did receive never left my specially-designed magical safe. They were perfectly secure.”

Lightning Dust sneers as she throws a heavy file on the desk. “Well this file fresh from the Princess’ desk says otherwise. It says that you requested several highly classified files from several ‘questionables’, and the fact that you say your safe was so secure makes it even more likely that you’re the leak. So, If I were you, I’d work on a better story than ‘I don’t know’ or you’ll be up river without a paddle so fast you’ll be begging the Princess to grant you leniency by the time she arrives tonight.”

“Then the file is wrong,” Twilight states with certainty, pushing the fact that the Princess will arrive soon into the back of her mind. In her heart Twilight hopes that Celestia will arrive soon to bail her out of this mess, but on the other hoof that would mean confronting her knowing what she has been doing for the past one thousand years. ‘Keep cool Twilight, don’t think about Celestia, you just need to hold out a little longer,’ Twilight thinks to herself.

Lightning Dust as if expecting Twilight’s response rolls her eyes. “Oh then excuse me, I didn’t know that the immortal monarch of our land was prone to making mistakes of this magnitude. My apologies, I should have known that you were completely innocent and all this evidence is completely circumstantial. I’ll go get the keys so we can let you out of this nice little cell, and you can be on your merry way.”

Twilight sits unfazed by Dust’s nagging sarcasm. “You know that isn’t what I meant.”

Lightning slams her hooves into the table, grabbing the unicorn’s collar. “Then cut the garbage and tell us what we want to know or so help me…….”

“Lieutenant Lightning!” A loud authoritative voice causes Lightning dust to drop the unicorn immediately. “That is enough! Stand down!”

‘And good old Shining Armor. Right on time.’ Twilight breathes a sigh of relief as her brother strides into the room, an angry look on his face.

The mare snaps a sharp salute. “Captain Shining, I was just…..”

“Dismissed, Sergeant.”

“Captain?” Lightning dust asks, “But I was just about to….”

“I said DISMISSED,” the Captain utters in a tone that brooks no argument.

The mare considers arguing for a moment, but only for a moment, as she scowls and gets out of her chair, making her way out of the room. On her way out Lightning Dust leans in and whispers in her senior’s ear. “I don’t think she’s intentionally leaking information,” she murmurs, “but she’s still hiding something. I’m going to check on her other friends; they might be connected with Melodia and be extracting the information from her with a Stand power or other method.”

Shining takes a stern look at Lightning, letting her know that her normal roughhousing behavior will not stand, before giving her an affirmative nod. A brief smile crosses Lightning’s face as she salutes and trots out of the room, sparing Twilight one more cautionary glance.

The moment Lightning leaves the room Shining breathe a sigh of relief very similar to his sister’s, as he props up the interrogator’s chair and sits comfortably down in front of Twilight. “Sorry about that, I know that you’ve worked with Lightning before, but her behavior just now was out of control.” Shining looks at the two way mirror sadly. “We’ve lost a lot of good ponies to these gangsters and thugs, nowhere near our max number of guardsponies but it’s putting everypony on edge. But enough about me and my boring life,” Shining says as he turns to his sister. “Can I get you anything? Glass of water? Cushion? A good book perhaps?”

Twilight smiles, realizing her brother hasn’t changed a bit. “So…. good-cop routine?”

“No, Twilight,” Shining Armor states, “Big Brother routine.”

“Oh….”

“You better believe ‘oh,’ what were you thinking, Twilly? Going into the Everfree Forest alone? Forget these bogus allegations against you, that was stupid.”

Mustering all her little sister pouting abilities Twilight crosses her arms in feigned frustration. “I wasn’t alone, I had five very capable Stand users going with me; besides somepony had to discover what was going on with the Stran…… I mean what somepony was doing with the Corpse.”

Shining shuffles in his seat uncomfortably. “The Corpse?” Shining feigns, “What kind of corpse? Did you discover some application of the Red Stones in the Everfree? Is it some kind of ambient magic from the Everfree that’s affecting the Red Stones?”

The lavender mare’s eyes widen suddenly as a look of comprehension crosses her face. A look that she quickly suppresses as she continues on as if nothing ever happened. “Oh yes, a red stone. That’s why you were acting SO surprised when you saw that i was carrying a artifact which was my job to collect.”

Shining shuffles even more in his seat, rubbing the back of his neck. “Well you know, Red Stones are dangerous when not in the right hooves. I’m sorry that I overreacted like that; I didn’t mean to hurt your friend Dash either.”

“That’s fine, Shiny, Dash is a little impulsive sometimes; let’s just continue talking about some other surprising things.”

“Really?” Shining plays coy. “Like what, little sis?”

“Welllllll…… it was very surprising to see you waiting for me the moment I came out of the forest; I mean you’re Captain of the Solar Guard, and there are a thousand more important places you should be!” Twilight comments nonchalantly. “However, the most surprising thing I’ve found out lately would probably have to be Celestia’s Arcanum.”

As if the military’s stallion’s poker face couldn’t get any worse he begins to break out sweating. “Celestia’s Arcanum? Oh, you mean the circle she used on Nightmare Moon, right?”

“No, not that one, Shiny! I’m talking about the other Arcanum!” Twilight smiles and nods. “I was really surprised to find out that even after it was blown to bits Celestia’s Arcanum had saturated into the Corpse’s pieces giving them the power to displace harmful phenomenon. Though I shouldn’t be surprised, since the Corpse was used to perform that same magic for a thousand years straight.” Twilight’s piercing gaze cuts through Shining Armor, letting him know exactly how far his lies are getting him.

In less than half a second he somber expression on Shining Armor’s face gives way to a brief chuckle, as he realizes that any chance he had of downplaying his sister’s suspicions has failed utterly. “Heh, I can’t put anything past you, little sis. You could always read me like an open book.”

“So,” Twilight straightens in her chair as she tries to hide her own disappointment. “You knew. And you didn’t tell me.”

“Your orders were to get the Red Stones and address any abnormal issues in Ponyville. As long as you kept yourself safe and out of harm's way, you didn’t have to know.”

The unicorn looks up at her brother with a hurt expression in her eyes. “Did you really think that I wouldn’t find out? Am I really such a baby that you had to hide something so important from me? Shining, if you know me there is one thing I hate, and that’s being lied to.”

Shining sighs at his sister’s anger. “I know Twily. And that’s why I’m coming clean now.” Shining smiles reassuringly as he materializes a cup of coffee for her; pushing it towards her with his hoof. “I know that I haven’t given you a lot of reason to trust me, but I’m on your side.”

Twilight looks at the cup of coffee (Canterlot Black, her favorite) and her brother sitting right in front of her, and without a doubt Twilight knows that she can trust him. Taking a deep swig of the coffee the mare addresses the stallion in front of her. “Alright then, first question, just how long have you known about the existence of the Corpse?”

“That’s probably the easiest question that you’ve asked today,” Shining declares. “It was when I made Sergeant Major, just after I had perfected my Stand’s force field abilities. You were just a filly at the time and I had finished rising through the ranks when Celestia and a few higher ranked ponies in the military let me in on the real reason our country was so prosperous. The knowledge of the Corpse is known to all the ponies of Celestia’s inner circle: ponies sergeant or higher in the military, the Arch-Ministers of the Magic Academy, any high ranked ponies in the RSD and a few ponies in sensitive government positions like Stand Agents. At the time of our appointments we were all told the general idea that the Red Stone was used to bring prosperity to our country but at the cost of inflicting misery on others.”

Shining smiles as he tops off his sister’s coffee. “Then we were given the two options. Option one was have our memories wiped of this knowledge and keep our rank and status in whatever branch we were in. And option two was to take this knowledge to our graves and become part of Celestia’s inner circle of her most trusted ponies, using the power of the Corpse to insure prosperity for our country.”

“And?” Twilight asks her voice filled with skepticism. “How did you react to this knowledge? How did it make you feel when you found out?”

Shining rubs his forehooves together staring down at his strong muscular arms. “Well, to tell you the absolute truth, Twily, I felt the same way you probably feel right now. Betrayed, confused, surprised, you name it. It was way too much to take in. It still is.”

The stallion stops fiddling with his hooves as he tries to make sense of his own answer. “I mean, I had just been told that a dead body was responsible for upholding our country’s peace. And that this same body was stopping plagues and war by sending it in a package to whoever was outside our own country borders. And to top it off…….”

Twilight looks at her brother as she places her hoof on his own. “Shining. I’m sure all this is very interesting but you’re still not answering my question. You’re still not answering the question that I really need to hear, Shining.”

The stallion smirks. “And the million dollar question is?” Shining asks with his normal charm.

“Do you think it’s right?” Twilight asks sincerely, her voice both serious and tender at the same time. “Do you think that it’s fair to make others suffer so that we can live long, happy lives?”

The stallion looks up from his hooves, a funny look on his face as if he was unable to tell his own mood. But in time it quickly gives way to an even funnier response, serious smile. “Yes. Yes, Twilight. I believe what I’m doing is the right thing.”

If Twilight’s world could get any more chaotic she might have suspected that Discord came back from Tartarus just to mess with it. “WHAT?!” the mare sputters, “How could….. why… could…….. How could you say that, Shining?!”

“I never said that it was easy!” Shining Armor shouts, stunning his sister. “Nopony could be responsible for taking a life and just brush it off like it was nothing!” Shining grips the table as if he were a stallion clinging to a life raft in a raging storm. “But…..”

With the discipline instilled in him over years of combat experience Shining Armor calms himself, steeling his voice. “But I am a solder, Twilight. And as a soldier I am more often than not required to inflict harm on others to protect the ponies, and the nation that I love. Even if it means that other ponies have to suffer for it.” The stallion turns to his sister, frightening even her with his intense resolve. “I want you to know, Twilight, that this is not a decision that I made easily, but when Mom and Dad….. When they died I realized that ponies need someone or something watching over them.”

“Shining….” Twilight says as her eyes begin to tear up.

“It was how I got my cutie mark, Twily,” Shining says with a resolute look on his face. “I’m not trying to hurt others, I’m just trying to do my duty and make sure the power of the Corpse is used responsibly and not abused by the villains that I fight against every day.”

Shining brushes an errant tear from his sister’s eyes. “And believe me, Twilight, I don’t ever believe it is right to hurt others under any circumstance. But in order to protect the ponies that you love sometimes you have to make sacrifices. And if it meant someone else getting hurt so that my little sister could grow up……” Shining rubs the top of her mane with brotherly affection. “…..then I’ll fight for you any time.”

Twilight looks up at the stallion she most respects in her life, her admiration for Shining Armor just short of Princess Celestia herself. In her heart she wants to believe what her brother is saying is the right thing, and she does. Protecting the ones you love is part of being a pony, of being any living creature, but what happens when these living creatures have to fight and kill each other for their own happiness?

“If that was the case…..” Twilight states, her courage driving out her fear and giving weight to her words. “…..If peace had to come at the cost of the lives of innocent ponies, then I wouldn’t want it. If I were in your hooves, Shining, I would fight for a world where ponies wouldn’t have to sacrifice each other. That’s my desire.”

In the time it takes to blink, Shining Armor entire argument is matched by a single sentence. A single sentence spoken by his little sister had floored Shining Armor’s entire well-thought-out argument that he had honed over his entire life. Part of the stallion wanted only to reject such a simple answer and go back to his life of duty and protecting others at a cost. However the larger part of him could only smile at how grown up his sister had become.

“Well then, maybe you can make that kind of world a reality, Twily.” Shining grins back. “But if you were to try it you’d have to beat me, and believe me, Twilight, I’m no push-over.” Shining bends his bicep. “I’m strong like a bull, immovable as the mountain; I’m not going to help you with your crazy quest just cause you ask. Besides, Celestia would be pretty upset if I let you take the Corpse for yourself on the grounds that ‘you’re my sister’.”

Twilight chuckles at Shining’s comic display, no doubt an attempt to cut the tension in the room and relieve the distraught mare. However, something Shining says does give the mare pause. “And how does Celestia feel about this…. this, Corpse usage?” Twilight asks tentatively. “I still care about her, Shining, but…..”

Shining grins as he leaps from his chair. “Then when she gets here tonight you and her will have lot to talk about.” Shining gives his sister a genuine and encouraging smile “You just sit here like a good little filly and let your big brother handle this mess. I promise, Twily, it’ll all work out, just sit tight for a bit.”

“I will BBBFF. Just hurry up, will you?” Twilight smiles back. “You weren’t exactly known for your speed, and you have put on a little weight.”

Shining opens the door to leave, giving her one last smile as he turns back to face her. “Hey, I’m still in as good as shape as I ever was. I’ve just had to battle more paperwork than dragons lately.”

Both siblings give each other a small wave as the door closes behind Shining Armor. Twilight ceases her waving as she realizes she is once again alone, only the two-way mirror for company. Yet despite her situation the mare can’t help but be optimistic about her future. “Shining Armor, why you always have to have the last word?”

Looking over to her now opened cot the mare is surprised to find a thick tome laying on top of the bedding, ‘Indiana Colt and the Chamber of One Thousand Snakes’ to be exact. The mare squees at the appearance of the book and without wasting another second she jumps on top of her bed, snuggling into the covers of the prison cot as she reads the first page of a sequel she has been waiting for. “He he, Shining Armor you really are the best Big Brother Best Friend Forever……”

Her big brother Shining watches with joy as his sister snuggles in with a good book on the bed, all her troubles forgotten, lost in a world of literature. The stallion smiles at how such a simple gift could make her so happy. True, it had been a pretty big favor to get the newest Indiana Colt a month early, but the look on her face when she saw that he left it for her had been priceless. Brushing a single tear of joy from his eye the stallion tears himself from the heartwarming view before him as his gaze narrows to one of resolve.

“Now all that’s left is to get her out of there,” Shining states to himself as he trots over to his temporary offices just down the hall.

He opens the door to the plain white collar office inside, finding Zecora already going through several different files at once, looking for any signs and contradiction. “Shining Armor! Is Twilight holding up well?”

The stallion pulls up a chair. “As well as could be hoped, Zecora; she knows everything.”

The zebra stops, a single file dropping from her mouth as she gapes at the stallion. “Everything? What do you mean by everything?!”

Shining looks up at the zebra with a look of annoyance on his face “I mean everything, Zecora, the Corpse, Celestia’s Arcanum, one thousand years of peace. Everything.”

The stallion begins to look through the paperwork, completely oblivious to the zebra’s gaping mouth. “E-Everything? But how? Twilight is more intelligent than any mare I have ever met, I shall admit. But how ever could she found out about the ‘IT’?”

“Twilight is smart,” Shining states as he flips through more of the paperwork in front of him. “Other than that, I have no idea. But that doesn’t matter now. Now we just have to get Twilight out of there and find the real traitor.”

Shining looks up from his paperwork at Zecora. “Speaking of which, when will Celestia arrive?” asking the question that had been festering on his mind all day. “I’ve placed my Bastion around the Corpse so it’s not going anywhere, but I’d still like to know when she’s going to arrive. With Nightmare Moon still on the loose I don’t want to take any chances.”

Zecora coughs as she readjusts her mood. “I sent Flash Sentry to deliver the news personally, since scrying at the palace seems to be out.”

“Again?” Shining asks as he slams his hooves against the papers on the desk. “That’s the third time this week, ever since this whole mess started communications have been unreliable.”

“That is precisely why I sent a runner.” Zecora nods. “True, scrying is faster, however if there is any chance of our message getting out it is better to be safer.”

With a cautious glance the mare looks over across the table to the glass door which leads into the hall, as if half expecting an eavesdropper to pop out of the shadows. “Until we find this traitor, no news is reliable. And given the size of the Corpse that Twilight has recovered it is far better to make any news we send as safe as possible. Should news of a Corpse fragment this large escape, then I shudder to think of the danger that we shall be in.”

Shining stops looking through the papers as his head lowers in worry. “Yeah I know, Zecora. But right now I’m more worried about Twilight. She may have hid the Corpse fragments from Celestia, but I think it was because of her curiosity, not negligence. It’s not right to hold her like this on these bogus charges, can’t Celestia see that?”

Zecora places her hoof on the stallion’s shoulder. “I know. Her situation is not her own fault, but this traitor’s. This ruse is a petty attempt to draw attention away from himself and it means that we are close to finding this coward. I only hope that we are on the right path and that Celestia will arrive as soon as she can.”

“Don’t worry, Zecora, we’re doing the right thing,” Shining gives his assurances. “No matter what they may say, protecting ponies is always worth our efforts and time. Twilight is innocent and soon everypony will see it that way.”

With a deep sigh the zebra rises from her chair as she trots over towards the door. “You seem to have these reports in hoof, and greater progress will be made if we divide our work load. I shall check Twilight’s reports for discrepancies with the falsified reports as well as her alibis for times that these reports have been sent. Hopefully that should prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Twilight is innocent.”

“Good idea, Zecora, you stick with that. I had a copy of Twilight’s reports brought to the lower offices just in case.” The stallion taps his hooves to the multitude of files on the table. “Meanwhile, I’ll stick with these false reports, maybe I’ll be able to find out who this traitor really is by taking a look at how these confidential reports were disclosed.”

With a curt nod and a friendly smile Zecora leaves her friend to his troubles as the stallion stares at the mass of papers before him. “I only hope that Trixie is having better luck handling Twilight’s friends than I am with fishing out this leak………” The stallion remarks as he looks out the window toward the Golden Oaks Library in the distance.

…………….

WHACK!

The showmare falls to the ground from Rainbow’s sudden punch, her hat flying off her head from the force of the blow.

“Okay, The Great and Powerful Trixie Probably deserved that…..” Trixie says as she slowly rises to her hooves.

“No, that was just to make me feel better,“ Dash states as she picks up Trixie by her cape for another punch. “This if for betraying us.”

WHAM!

This time Rainbow’s hoof is stopped by Trixie’s quickly-manifested Stand which parries Dash’s blow with its hardened elbow. “Enough of this, Trixie grows bored of being a punching bag.” With two deft punches from her stand the showmare sends the pegasus sprawling to the ground, smiling as Dash tries to pick herself up again.

“I just hit you once, you arrogant jerk!” Dash exclaims as she rises to her hooves. “Unless you really would like me to turn you into a punching bag!”

Trixie readies her Stand, it’s cape bristling in the aether. “Bring it on, you windbag.”

The two mares stand in the confines of the library, all their friends looking on as Trixie and Rainbow Dash prepare to once again duke it out. However, this time the fight is cut off by Fluttershy waking between the two of them. “Both of you just stop it! We’re friends, we shouldn’t be fighting like this. Violence won’t solve anything, so the two of you just stop and talk things out like normal ponies or….. or I’ll have to use my Stare on you.”

Trixie and Dash glare at each other for a few more seconds before giving into Fluttershy’s pleading demands, Trixie quickly reverting back to her smug persona. “In case you forgot,” Trixie reminds the cerulean pegasus, “it was not Trixie’s always punctual reports to the Princess that got her arrested! It was the falsified reports that accused her of revealing her knowledge of troop locations and hoofing off Red and Strange Stones to a third party.”

Trixie takes a step towards the pegasus to make her point, causing Dash to fall on her rump. “Your anger would only get Twilight in more trouble, it wouldn’t help her in the slightest! Trixie’s decision to come clean and allow Twilight to go with her brother will insure that she is cleared of these audacious charges.”

Trixie laughs. “Or did you forget were it not for Trixie that you would be locked up in a cell with her instead of under house arrest?”

Dash jumps to her hooves defensively. “So what? You still lied to us and blabbed to everypony that would listen about our secrets! What, was your loyalty to Twilight and the rest of us so weak that you would sell us out at the first sign of trouble?” Dash spits off to the side “Some friend you are……”

“In case you forgot, Dashie,” Trixie says mockingly, “it’s Trixie’s job to send reports to the Princess. And if you were hiding something from her, like say the existence of the Corpse fragments, then it’s Trixie’s job to report it.”

The showmare lights her horn as she picks her hat off the floor, placing it squarely on her head. “And another thing, Trixie is not here to be your friend. Her loyalty to the Princess is greater than any loyalty she has to a hayseed like you.”

Rainbow is about to counter her argument when she is stopped by Applejack placing a hoof on her shoulder. Shaking her head signaling that it’s not worth it, the farm mare begins to speak.“That’s enough, Rainbow, Ah think that ya made yer point. But in case ya fergot, we still need ta tell her about the Corpse and all that stuff we went through in the Everfree.” Applejack looks over to the showmare. “Trixie seems ta know all bout government pro-ced-ures, and all that stuff so maybe she’d be able to help us clear Twi.”

Dash looks back and forth between Applejack and Trixie. On one hoof, she would probably rather eat dirt that work together with Trixie at this point. However, on the other hoof Twilight was in trouble and if there was a chance that this mare could help her……. Dash sighs. “Alright, Trixie, do you have any ideas on how to clear Twilight?” Dash asks, “cause you see Celestia was keeping this big secret! See the Strange Stones that we were collecting are actually part of this government conspiracy. So do you know if we can, like sue Celestia or something? You know, like when that hack of an author J.K. Yearling tried to rip off Indiana Colt?”

Trixie’s eyes narrow at the pegasus, her patience stretched thin by the pegasus’ grating behavior. “Explain.”

“Well you see….” Dash rubs the back of her head. “How do I put this? Well, Celestia used this Red Stone of Aja to make Equestria all happy and all that, but it was secretly making other ponies miserable and which was really not cool. So when the Red Stone exploded and everything, the pieces in the middle of the Stone that allowed the Stone to do that stuff rained down across Equestria along with the Red Stones.” Dash takes a deep breath drawing in the air needed for the rest of her rant. “And the reason that these Strange Stones could grant wishes and everything is because they were actually…….”

“….. pieces of the Holy Corpse, Trixie knows,” Trixie finishes with utter seriousness, causing everypony in the group to tare slacked jawed at the unicorn mare. “Don’t act so surprised. You forget, Trixie is a Stand Agent, a secret agent that answers directly to the Crown. Of course she would know about the existence of the Holy Corpse.”

“WHAT?!” Dash yells, “So you knew about the Corpse all this time? And you didn’t tell us?”

Trixie nods. “True, Trixie did not know the details of the Corpse’s power, such that it causes other ponies not in Equestria to suffer….. She was only told that it was key to Equestria’s security when she was inducted as a Stand Agent.”

Seeing that Dash is about ten seconds away from beating her to a pulp, Trixie tells the truth with a degree of caution. “However, that does not change Trixie's mission or the Corpse’s importance to Equestria. Without the Corpse’s power Equestria would quickly fall into ruin, its existence is tantamount to the safety of all ponykind. Therefore, even if it did cause others to suffer, and were Trixie given a choice in it’s use, Trixie would still use it in the same way that Celestia has used it for thousands of years.”

“Trixie….” Fluttershy says as her eyes slowly begin to water. “How could you….”

“What?” Trixie asks, oblivious to Fluttershy’s and the rest of the group’s previous conversations on this topic. “How could Trixie support using a power that kills others? It’s called survival of the fittest, Fluttershy. If it came down to it, any other nation would use a power like that like a weapon and probably kill billions for the heck of it. Celestia has used its power to give all of ponykind a future. Ponykind exists in the form it is in because of the Corpse, we survive because we possess something our neighbors do not.“ Trixie narrow her gaze on the pegasus “Or do you think it’s wrong for ponies to live a long happy life?”

Fluttershy shakes her head brushing an errant tear off her muzzle. “No, not just that…. Trixie, how could you lie to us like that…..”

Trixie looks at the saddened expression of Fluttershy and sighs heavily, as if the burden of telling an excited filly that Santa hooves isn’t real. “Fluttershy, I, Trixie Lulamoon, am a spy; I lie to everypony save my superiors. And to top it off I am a showmare, I make two livings off deceiving others, it is part of my job to lie.”

Trixie looks down at her hooves in shame. “I wish I could tell you that I regret lying to you and reporting your movements to Celestia. But I do not. I do what I do so that ponies like you can live in peace. I make the hard decisions that normal ponies can’t so that you live long happy lives oblivious to the dangers of the world,” Trixie states with a warm but stern tone as she straightens her hat. “So no, Trixie does not regret lying to you, nor does she think that the use of the Corpse’s power to ensure Equestrian’s prosperity is ‘unjust’. The ends justify the means, Fluttershy, so if Trixie can accomplish her mission by lying to you or if Celestia can bring peace by causing suffering then so be it.”

The group goes completely quiet from Trixie’s statements as the blue mare proudly raises her chin, confident that she has won over the rest of the group with her eloquent words and diction. Trixie is so engrossed in her own apparent success that she is unable to notice the disappointed looks on every pony’s faces as they are forced to stare at the pompous showmare before them.

“Well,” Dash says, rising to her hooves, “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m out.” Dash walks over to the library’s well-worn door.

Just as Rainbow Dash throws open the library door to leave, Trixie finally is able to respond. “W-Wait a second, you hayseed! You are under Trixie’s government-mandated protection. If you leave house arrest, Trixie will be in serious trouble. You can’t just leave me…….”

Stopping with a single hoof out of the door Rainbow turns her head and looks the showmare in the eyes. “Well then, sucks to be you…..” With a single majestic flap of her wings the prismatic mare rockets into the sky, leaving only a thin prismatic trail as proof that she was there.

“Well, Ah really don’t want ta get ol Trixie here in trouble…” Applejack says sarcastically, “But I figure after she just lied to us an reported all our little actions ta the police, I figure that Ah need ta get some shut eye in mah own bed and eat dinner with mah family.” Adjusting her Stetson on her head the orange farm mare walks out the library’s front door.

And straight into another pony, causing both of them to fall to the ground. Rubbing her head Applejack looks on at the pony before her who has already risen to his hooves and is apologizing profusely.

“OH! I’m so sorry!” The bulky earth pony stallion quickly bows low to the ground, brushing his dark brown mane out of his eyes as he apologizes. The stallion’s cutie mark, one of three blue horseshoes, contrasts well with his light brown, almost caramel-colored coat and gives him the impression of a young, hardworking stallion. Yet despite the stallion’s size being only slightly smaller than Big Mac’s, the stallion’s gaze was one of disconcerting appearance.

Before Applejack can even respond, the light brown earth pony stallion brushes the mare’s coat free from dust. “Excuse me, but I was in the neighborhood and I saw that this is a library so I was wondering if I could borrow a….” The smooth talking stallion’s attempt to get into the library is stopped by Applejack’s sturdy hoof.

“Library’s closed,” Applejack states with a sense of finality that stops the stallion dead in his tracks.

“Oh, my mistake then!” the stallion bows politely. “Well then, if the library isn’t open I really need to leave! Excuse me.” And just as quickly as he appeared the stallion disappears, running off into the distance with a level of speed one would not expect from somepony with as much bulk as he possesses.

“That was weird,” Applejack says, scratching her hoof right forehoof. “Anyways, Trixie, Yawl need ta adjust yer bad attitude. Heck that fella Shining Armor he had ta take Twi in, an even he had a better attitude than yawl do.” The farmer looks at the blue showmare with utter contempt in her eyes. “But what ya did, and the fact that ya don’t feel sorry fer it, means that there somethin real wrong with ya.”

Applejack tips her hat in a polite goodbye as she trots away, leaving the library even emptier than before. As Trixie’s mouth begins to gape at the accusations that the farmer leveled against her, her mind reals, trying to come up with a counter argument for a pony that isn’t even there.

Fluttershy dries her eyes and, having gained resolve after watching the actions of the two of the most resolute ponies that she knows, rises to her hooves and begins to make her way out the door. “I-I’m leaving too. I need to prepare for my veterinarian job in the morning…. excuse me….”

Trixie reaches out as if to hold the mare back, desperate to keep the yellow mare from leaving. “Fluttershy! Wait! Trixie does not permit you to leave!“

The butter yellow mare turns around to face the showmare as a final sorrowful tear falls down her muzzle. “Goodbye, Trixie Lulamoon….. and farewell……” The yellow mare leaps into the sky, flying away from the library as the blue mare is left alone.

An awkward silence fills the library as Trixie’s eyes water, a deep depression falling over the showmare as she watches powerlessly while Fluttershy vanishes in the distance. A depression that quickly turns to anger at the irritating sound of a mare tapping her hooves together.

Turning around, the showmare confronts the offending sound with all of her anger. “WHAT?! Who dares disturb the Great and Distraught Trixie?!”

Rarity taps her hooves nervously together. “Well, if it isn’t so much trouble, Darling. I left my best work just lying around in my boutique waiting to be finished.” The ivory mare turns her nose from the showmare in feigned indifference. “And even I have to admit that your actions in monitoring Twilight and the rest of us warrant a slightly more appropriate punishment. I think letting us leave would go a bit of a ways towards making up for your atrocious behavior.”

“Yeah Trixie!” Pinkie shouts, “I mean we’re all still your friends and everything. I mean at least I’m still your friend. And definitely Twilight since she still seems to trust you for some reason, and maybe Fluttershy too. But that’s beside the point how many friends you have now because spying on others is super wrong! I mean you were living at Twilight’s place this whole time you were spying on her! I bet you were watching her every movement, when she was eating breakfast, when she was reading a book, when she was alone in bed and thought no pony was watching her! I mean I know you’re like a super spy but even I’d have to draw the line at….”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie wasn’t spying on all of you all the time!” Trixie exclaims as a slight blush of embarrassment crosses her muzzle. “That would be far too creepy for a mare of class like Trixie. Trixie was only following her orders to spy on Twilight and keep you from discovering the truth about the Stones and reporting your actions to…. Mmmupttt!”

Pinkie places her hoof over the showmare’s mouth. “……But you really need to apologize and say that you are really sorry for spying on us, cause Dash and Applejack and the rest of us are really big on trust. Cause if you can’t trust what your friends say then they’re not really your friends, right?” Pinkie asks with her best cute and pleading eyes. “After all the surest way to lose a friend is to lose their trust. So if you want us to be good friends then you have to earn back some of our trust.”

Trixie is stopped by Pinkie’s pleas for a second as she looks at the pink mare, and thinks about the ponies that she has met in her time in Ponyville, as well as the effect her actions have had on them. For a moment, Trixie actually begins to question her place in the world, and what her job and her actions are really costing her. Suddenly, the memory of the bandaged Stand returns to the forefront of her mind and it all becomes clear. ‘What am I thinking? I’m not doing this for friendship, I’m doing this for Justice!’ Trixie reprimands herself ‘I’m doing what I do so that what happened to me doesn’t happen to others. I am called to a higher cause, and if they can’t understand that, then they are no friends of mine!’

In an instant her anger returns and she rips Pinkie’s hoof off of her mouth. “Well fine!” Trixie yells, “If you don’t care if Trixie gets in trouble and don’t respect her position enough to stay then…. then….. then Trixie is leaving too!” With a huff of anger the blue mare puts on her hat, and without another word she barges out of the door, leaving the other two mares in the library surprised in the wake of Trixie’s unexpected outburst.

Though the showmare put on a truly marvelous show of anger, fooling even a large part of herself, if one were to watch the flustered showmare storming out of the library and muttering dark curses under her breath they might be able to make out the small pitter patter of tears dripping down the mare’s face. And with her heart in as much disarray as her tear stained muzzle The Great and Powerful Trixie runs off into the distance, completely alone for the first time since she arrived in the small town of Ponyville.

………………………

Darkness has fallen across Ponyville, the beautiful sunset having given way to night over the course of Twilight’s return. Yet Shining Armor was dead right about one thing, in the dark of the night trouble that one could not place a hoof on stirred like a festering wound, seeking to accomplish its dark ambitions.

In the darkness, a figure wrapped in a black shroud trots down the darkness obscured street, its presence unnoticed to the entire world. Blending into the shadows as well as a wraith, the cloaked figure comes across a small inn on the outskirts of town on its silent gait down the dusty roads of the town. Glancing only once at the sign in the window to confirm that he has reached the right inn, the figure trots up to the doorstep of the well-kept but quiet building with the malicious aura of a predator. Reaching the door the figure places its ear against the grain for a few seconds, listening for anything out of the ordinary before trotting into the light of the building. Careful to make sure that its cloak obscures its appearance, and that the light of the room does not cut through the specially tailored shroud, the figure spies the inn around it. The small entryway and open desk accentuate the large roaring fireplace in the middle of the room and the cute mare watching the flames.

Sitting at the front desk is a tan-maned yellow earth pony, with a cutie mark of a dark blue bed and a rising sun behind it, tapping her hooves on the desk impatiently. Content that there are no major signs of danger, the figure allows the door to close, cutting of its exit as it walks up to the desk. As the doorbell on the front door rings the mare immediately snaps to attention, looking at the cloaked figure before her. “Welcome to the Pony’s Haven, stranger! My name is Early Riser! Are you looking for a room? Cause we’ve got a lot of those here seeing as this here inn’s almost empty right now! All our regulars sales ponies are out travelin so we’ve got plenty of soft warm beds! Da ya need anything?”

Ignoring the peppy pony in front of it the cloaked figure cautiously scans the empty foyer, its ears listening to the slightest sounds to be made. “Is there nopony else here?” the dark figure asks.

“Welllllllllllll,” The mare taps her chin cutely. “It has been a slow night here in Ponyville, there were a lot of guards that arrived earlier today. But they’re all staying at the Law Enforcement Center, they have a barracks there doncha know! I mean, my inn’s good but you can’t beat free! But that means we’ve got lots of rooms for tired travelers like yourself since there’s nopony else here today! In fact I could even give ya a special if you are staying for more than a week!”

The cloaked figure throws a bag of bits on the counter, causing the mare’s eyes to widen. “I was told,” The dark figure places its hooves on the counter. “That there would be a pony waiting for me in room seven of this hotel. Would I assume that statement is correct?”

The filly takes one look at the bag of bits before sweeping it under the counter. “Oh, so you’re that pony. Well then head on up! I’m not one to judge if you want a little ‘private time’ with your special somepony away from prying eyes! Don’t worry, I have good earplugs so I won’t hear a thing! You go on ahead and have a good night and if there’s anything you need don’t hesitate to ask!”

The cloaked figure shudders in rage at the oblivious tan-maned mare’s implications as it looks up the curling stairs that lead to the upper levels of the inn. “Very well, I’ll be on my way. In fact…” the cloaked figure states as if an afterthought “I do have a request; that is if you don’t mind.”

The mare smiles cheerily. “Anything, sir, you just name it! Extra pillows? A room with a view? Anything except alcohol, this isn’t a pub after all. In fact that’s probably why ponies don’t come here as often as they should. Maybe I should consider getting a bartender’s license.”

“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble…” the cloaked figure states clearly, “I would very much like you to hang yourself.”

“Alright then! Will that be….. um I’m sorry sir, did you say….”

“Hang yourself,” the cloaked figure states with a tone of annoyance. “I wouldn’t want anypony to know that I was having this little meeting, now would I? And since you were so nice to offer me anything I desired I would be a fool not to take you up on your offer.” The dark figure extends its hoof towards the now-frightened mare. “I should also like my bits back.”

The mare in front of the cloaked figure blinks as her eyes widen in terror. For a moment it looks as though she is torn between screaming, running for her life, and punching the figure in front of her with all her might. However, after a few tense seconds the mare extends her hoof under her counter and hoofs the bag of bits back to the figure. “Well sure thing, there. If yawl want your bits back ya can have them. Now about that hanging, what should I use for it? Do you want me to get a rope from the store or try and find one around here, or…..”

“Just use a bed sheet. I don’t really care,” the figure states as he places the bits back in his cloak.

“Bed sheet it is!” the yellow mare chuckles as she reaches under the front desk for a long and strong blanket. As if unable to believe her own body is obeying such a terrible command her hooves shake furiously as the mare twist the long blanket into an improvised but solid rope.

“That’s good, just keep it quiet and make sure you don’t make any unnecessary noise,” the dark figure states as he begins to trot up the stairs. “One more thing, destroy the guest registry before you conduct your final buisness. We wouldn’t want anypony to know that my friend was here, now would we?”

“No we wouldn’t!” The mare cheerily admits as she ties the noose with her hooves, her face dripping with tears as she tightens the end of the makeshift rope to a key hook beside her desk.

“Very good, my dear, you follow orders well, just don’t forget to smile on your way out, we wouldn’t want you to go out sobbing like that.” The hooded figure trots up the stairs as nonchalantly as a pony would if they were taking a walk, uncaring of the mare’s obvious suffering.

“O-Okay, w-whatever you s-s-say, mister…..” the mare states as she throws the large book in the fireplace, her face streaming tears as her body refuses to obey her. The dark-cloaked figure gives a soft and terrible smile as it watches the mare’s plight from the banister at the top of the stairs. The mare sobs to herself pathetically, doubtless crying out in her own mind for anypony to save her from herself.

Yet the cloaked figure is not there to help her; it came to this inn with a purpose and so it trots up the final few steps to the rooms above, uncaring of Early Riser’s last seconds of life. Trotting past room five and six the figure reaches door seven just as a sharp cracking sound fills the inn, giving way to an evil silence that signifies something being terribly wrong.

The silence of the building is forgotten as the dark-cloaked figure slowly smiles, its face the picture of contentment and happiness one might have after crushing a cockroach or killing a diseased animal. With a small chuckle the figure opens the door to the room, closing it behind them as the room is encased in darkness. With it’s dark malefic eyes, the creature searches for any sign of life as it takes in the spartan arrangements of the room. Bed, wardrobe, table and lamp are all that fill the room, and those are only visible due to the moonlight streaming in from the only window.

The figure sighs as it turns to the corner. “Are you always this paranoid, that you have to hide in dark corners whenever somepony enters the room?”

From the darkness of the furthest corner of the room a pair of beady green eyes opens, gazing upon the cloaked figure with unmeasurable malevolence. “Considering what has brought us here, being cautious is of the utmost importance,” the dark, grating voice of the figure states. “Though I am glad to see that you have arrived. Given your reputation I had suspected you might be foolish enough to try and betray me, and that this was all an elaborate trap.”

The cloaked figure chuckles darkly. “If I wanted to kill you you’d already be dead. Besides, I have no intentions of ending your existence. Are we not allies? Have I not given you all the information that was necessary for you to recover fragments of the Corpse?”

The dark figure in the corner narrows his gaze on the cloaked one. “I admit, your help has been... appreciated. Yet you yourself are quite untrustworthy, your motivations, your true Stand power, all a mystery to me, your most trusted ally.” The figure with glowing green eyes leans out of his dark corner to come muzzle to muzzle with his partner in crime “Tell me… why would you of all creatures betray your country and its ponies? Wealth? Power? Or do you just like seeing the world burn down around you?”

“That,” the cloaked figure states with no small amount of venom in its voice, “is none of your business.”

The green eyes monster narrows his gaze at the cloaked figure before him, gauging his reactions as a lion would gauge the strength of his prey. “So be it.” The dark figure backs off from the cloaked one. “You want to talk about business? Let us talk business.”

“Very well,” the cloaked figure states coldly, “let us convene, I have precious little time before those fools recognize my absence and I would prefer to keep this meeting as quick as possible.”

The dark figure with green eyes leans against the wall, unwilling to relax even the slightest amount in front of the cloaked figure before him. “On to our plan, then. We both know why we are here, to claim the Corpse and tie up some ‘loose ends’.”

The stallion in the corner comments, “However, due to your….” The pony clears his throat. “….position, you cannot blow your cover and must rely on my superior strength to recover the Corpse so that you might escape blame. I escape with the Corpse, Twilight and her friends take the fall for its disappearance, and the evidence insures that she is hung as a traitor, everypony wins.”

“NO,” the other voice booms with authority. “No more half-measures or loose ends. The Royal Guards, the pesky Stand users, but most importantly, Twilight Sparkle, put them all to the sword.” The cloaked figure states with a tone of ultimate finality, “Everything that happens tonight must be pinned on Twilight Sparkle’s dead body. She must die a traitor to her country so that I might operate freely once more.”

The cloaked figure looks out the window as the moon parts through the clouds on the horizon. “Still, I cannot believe that Twilight would hoof over the Corpse so easily. The fool,” the dark cloaked figure growls. “Giving up the infinite power of the Corpse all because she was afraid of a little bloodshed; how easily she has proven herself unworthy of being the vessel of Harmony. And how ironic that because of her pathetic attempts to avoid conflict that she has orchestrated the deaths of all of the ponies in this town.”

“All of them?” the dark figure in the corner asks skeptically.

“ALL of them,” The cloaked figure confirms. “Anypony that knows anything significant about the Red Stones or the Corpse must be dead by night’s end.” Reaching into the dark folds of its cloak the figure throws a paper scroll at the hooves of the stallion in the corner. “All the names, locations and Stand powers of everypony in town are here on the list. I trust you can swat a few flies without failure?”

The dark figure in the corner scoffs as he stuffs the scroll into the recesses of his dark, billowing mass. “You underestimate my power?”

“I underestimate your competency and your resolve. Were it not for my false information, Celestia would be here by now and the Corpse beyond our reach.” The hooded figure chuckles. “Given my ‘skills,’ it was a simple matter to send a false report luring her to a trap I placed in the deepest catacombs of the crystal mines. If all goes as planned, the monarch of the sun will be dead before she has a chance to raise her precious orb.”

The shadows surge as a deep red light illuminates the horn of the dark figure, revealing his beady glowing and purple-misted eyes. “I thought we agreed Celestia was mine!”

Undaunted by its counterpart’s sudden rage, the dark cloaked figure continues. “And upon delivering the Corpse to the preselected location, her bloody corpse will be yours in exchange for hoofing the Corpse over to me. You wanted her dead; don’t fret on the details of my plans, while yours remain unaccomplished,” the dark hooded figure snaps. “Celestia is out of the way and communications and reinforcements have been cut off from this town. All that remains is for you to recover the Corpse and eliminate the ‘competition’. If you can even call the trash that populates this town that.”

The glow from the horn of the figure in the darkness dies down as he smiles with vampiric teeth. “Taken care of. I already have two of my best-ranking Stand users in this town. Their talents are…… unique…… and they will be useful in helping me eliminate my foes and recovering the Holy Corpse’s power.”

“You mean OUR foes,” the hooded figure corrects. “Were it not for my information, you would not have known that Celestia had lost her possession of the Corpse. In addition, had I not revealed the movements of the army to you would have never acquired as many of the Corpse fragments as you did. For all your muscle and talk you are nothing but a powered thug, it is only thanks to me that this operation is possible.”

The room grows quiet, only the sound of rusty pipes and flowing water filling the room. Coming out of the darkness of the corner the charismatic yet grating voice speaks in a tone that implies underlying hostilities. “Your information has been beneficial to me, Traitor. And as we both share an enemy in Celestia and a desire for the Corpse, I have consented to working with you.”

In a single moment, far too fast for an eye to perceive in the darkness of the room around them, a grey hoof grabs the cloaked pony by the throat. “But do not dare to presume to be my better. And do not dare underestimate my power. What I do is not for your benefit; I am not one of your tools that is to be used for your own ends. And the moment that you betray me you will most certainly die…….”

Reaching out from the shadows a dark Stand of heart-chilling appearance takes form from its user’s twisted psyche. Adorned in the most desiccated roll of bandages that one could imagine, that stretch from hoof to head, the Stand appears to be the victim of agonizing torture that could never be spoken of. The rusted black nails sticking out of its body and bloodstained bandages only parts of a frightening whole. In addition to the jagged nails, several spikes of what looks to be red crystal seem to have sprouted from the Stand’s hooves and back, forming serrated spines that glint in the moonlight. And bringing the rest of the picture together is a red crystalline mask, devoid of any features save the fact that it is divided into two parts. This gap between the upper half of the mask which hides the face, and the lower one which protects the jaw, allows room to showcase the Stand’s impressive and sharpened set of teeth as well as its several serpentine tongues. The red crystal mask reflects the moonlight from the window, the dark figure smiling with a toothy grin as it squeezes the Traitor’s throat.

“….After all, nopony that has seen my Stand, Black Nirvana, has lived to tell the tale!” Releasing his hold on the hooded figure’s throat, the figure walks out of the darkness to bask in the moonlight streaming in through the window. The pale light glints off his sharply pinstriped suit jacket and the stallion’s serrated teeth gleam. The stallion grins at the moon outside his window as his smoky dark eyes and sharpened red crystal horn refract the moonlight. With malevolence to match his power, the stallion stares out his window at the town before him like a predator out for the hunt, anticipating the carnage that is to come.

“The ruler of the new world is me, SOMBRA! And nopony will change that!”

Author's Note:

Chapter END: status
Party: Twilight Sparkle was taken into Custody
Stardust Crusaders have been sentenced to house arrest
The Stardust Crusaders have lost faith in The Great and Powerful Trixie
The Stardust Crusaders have split up and returned to their own homes
Enemies: Boss of Melodia: SOMBRA
Stand: ??????
The Traitor: ???????
Stand: ??????
Allies: Captain of the Royal Guard: Shining Armor
Stand: Bastion
Princess’ Seritary: Shaman Zecora
Lieutenant: Lightning Dust
Stand: ??????
Lieutenant: Flash Sentry
Stand: ??????
Items Lost: Heart of the Corpse
Majority of the Corpse
MOVE TO NEXT STAGE!→

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