• Published 2nd Aug 2015
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Oskar Osäker: Your Worst Enemy - Legionary



The third entry into the Viral Unicorn series

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Chapter 5: Your Worst Enemy...

“So do we have a deal?” a bast diplomat asked while grooming the back of his paw.

“You drive a hard bargain,” Emerald replied smoothly, with a somewhat put upon sigh. “But yes, we have a deal.”

“Excellent,” the ocelot sized cat purred.

Emerald was currently back in the Heron Republic but not visiting the Channelers. No, she was purely here for business. She had been made aware of a large get together of sorts being held by the Republic with a great many League members invited. It was mostly a fancy networking party and Emerald was using the opportunity to flex her political skills.

“I'll have your varieties of fish flavored fruit ready by the time your trading ships arrive in port,” Emerald stated. “Be sure to get in contact with Princess Celestia later. We have a deal with Equestria so they handle most of the shipping and cargo loading.”

“Mmm, I look forward to the day they arrive,” the representative said with a lick of his lips before flouncing off, his many jewels and golden adornments glinting in the light of the room.

Emerald chuckled inwardly. A lot of people tended to get insulted by the bast due to their behavior. But they were cats, no matter how much smarter they were than the normal earth type. Cats did as they wished and desired to be pampered and tended to. It also made them exceedingly easy to manipulate when you made them feel superior.

'Well that's all my gold and brass reparations paid for,' Emerald thought before turning about and going on her way. That's what Emerald had been negotiating for; brass, gold and a few other precious metals. The bast weren't particularly great miners or builders, but they had a fine eye for jewels and various gold trinkets, which was good because their lands typically had quite a few large veins of gold and silver. Enough that some buildings were literally coated in the stuff at any case.

'Now... let's see who else I can con into paying for stuff?' Emerald thought as she took in the crowds around her, subconsciously casting aside herbivore reps from consideration. 'Ah, you will do.'

“Fair greetings,” said a large jackal like being who, along with his fellow jackals, gave a respectful bow at Emerald's approach. “And hopefully, fair dealings.”

“I'm certain our dealings will be generous on all accounts,” Emerald stated with a smile. It was rather true. If it wasn't for the League, she'd be charging much more for the fruit. “Any news from your neighbor, if I may ask?”

“Naught but grim tidings,” the gnoll like being said lowly with a wary glance towards the zebra Secretary General. “For what else can be the sight of refugees being caught and dragged back in bindings?”

“Zebrica is trying to keep people from leaving?” Emerald asked curiously.

“We can not say in certainty, only widen our gaze,” the gnoll said a little sadly. “And pray to the old bones that we may spy past their haze.”

“Hmm... let's move on to a more lighthearted topic, shall we?” Emerald asked, getting toothy smiles in agreement. “Tell me, what do your people mine in great quantities?”

Turns out the jackals preferred using a form of shamanism and makings gear and various weapons out of bones, using said shamanism to harden them far beyond the norm. However, the jackals did do some mining to trade the raw ores for what they needed.

'Alright, a bit of the copper, zinc and iron demands have been paid a bit more,' Emerald thought as she walked away from the jackals. 'I wonder if I can manage to get all my reparations paid for by other people from here?'

“Why hello!” the virus heard from behind her. Turning around, she saw several herbivore representative standing there. “Emerald Gleaner, newest member of this august body that is the League. We've been hoping to talk to you all afternoon!”

“Of course I'd be glad to speak with all of you.” Emerald smiled smoothly, inwardly sighing a bit.

“Well I was speaking with my compatriots about getting a newcomer’s perspective on the League,” the pony in the group stated, motioning to the varied other herbivores.

“Some of us have also been wondering if the Enclave has anything to offer the rest of the League?” said a llama. “Or if it's purely meat you have to offer on the table.”

“Well suffice to say, meat is going to be our biggest if not our only export,” Emerald answered.

“Of course, see?” A reindeer chortled to the others. “The Enclave only has meat and weapons. One we have no need of and other I'd doubt they'd part with due to their savage land.”

“Well-” Emerald began.

“Weapons!” the Saddle Arabian representative said in cheerful disbelief. “What a thing to base world trade on. Surely the only ones that would wish to buy such things in profitable quantities would be simple minded thugs.”

“Now that seems a bit-” Emerald started with a tone of disbelief.

“Oh hoh hoh hoh! It makes one wonder if the Enclave has anything to offer the herbivores of the world,” added another representative. “It seems like they as a nation are doomed to simply be the grocery store for the carnivores of the world.”

“The REAL question you should be asking is if any of you have anything the Enclave could ever want,” Emerald stated flatly with a stare. “Frankly, I could simply ignore that any of you exist and neither I or my people would suffer a loss.”

“How rude!”

“No arguments here,” Emerald replied before turning on her heel and striding away.

'And now I remember why I was so hesitant about getting involved in politics,' Emerald thought with a scowl as she stomped out onto a balcony, the aura of her anger and frustration causing all others on the balcony to quickly vacate. 'I just don't have the patience for all this. At least before, back in New York, I'd just be playing a part and not really have to pay any mind to it. I was there to sabotage, kill and then get out. Don't really have that choice here now, do I? I have to stand there and take their rhetoric and don't get to assassinate them afterwards. I mean I could do that, but... well it would be going against what I'm trying to stop doing...'

“Are you feeling well, my student?” Emerald heard come from behind her. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw Luna standing there in royal adornments. “You seemed to have lost your equilibrium rather quickly.”

“...” Emerald sighed and looked out over the scenic view of a heron city, the light of the moon glinting off the curving roofs. “I guess I'm taking a lot of emotional blows in the past while. Not as clear headed as I used to be.”

“Even so, I've bared witness to your political skill before, my young student,” Luna stated as she walked forward to stand beside Emerald. “You should have known to hold a frayed temper in check, to excuse yourself to refresh and prepare for another barrage of political challenges.”

“Yeah...” Emerald said with a shrug. “But I don't really see a point in playing nice with the herbivore nations, especially if they going to speak to me with the pure intention of insulting me and my nation. Plus it's not like they were ever going to buy anything from me. Any herbivore nation that also has a decently large minority population of carnivores would be going out of their way to butter me up.”

“Maybe so, but it's typically considered bad form to lose your unflappable stature,” Luna said. “However, I do concede your point on this matter. I shall simply advise you to... wait a time longer before you start being flippant with political adversaries. Wait until your already unassailable position becomes stronger still.”

“Ha, sure thing,” Emerald said with a small laugh, now feeling much better.

“Now on to an entirely different subject,” Luna continued. “You are my student, a student of the Night and yet you know not how to walk in dreams. I wish to tend to this.”

“Really?” Emerald asked with a raised brow. “That's actually a very interesting thing to learn. I'm going to be looking forward to the next time I come in to Canterlot for my lessons.”

“Good! I look forward to it as well.” Luna smiled. “Now, shall we return to the festivities?”

“If we must,” Emerald said with an exaggerated sigh and followed Luna back into the room.

ALPHA

Discord hummed absently as he carried a few handmade sandwiches from his kitchen to a basket in the living room. Being as skilled at magic as he was, Discord could have easily conjured the sandwiches into existence along with everything else he needed, but doing this way oddly felt more fulfilling.

The Spirit of Chaos' home was in a personally made dimension, a place of swirling energies, floating islands that seemed to individually obey their own rules and occupied by creatures of mismatched limbs and proportions. Discord’s own home, seemingly a modest cottage, also reflected the chaotic and mismatched nature of the realm it inhabited, having walls of different colors and materials along with randomly placed doorways and staircases.

'Now where are the crumpets?' Discord frowned thoughtfully as he returned to his kitchen. 'Did I remember to make the crumpets? Yes, here they are.'

Quickly wrapping up the plate of little treats, Discord brought them over to the living room where a picnic basket was and placed them in it. He was looking forward to the picnic with his friend, that much was obvious. Discord sometimes found himself a little bemused at the current state of events. Before, he simply lived for the chaos he caused among the peoples of the world and cared not for what they thought of him in turn. But now he did find himself caring for what one person thought of him. His one and only friend, Fluttershy, who he considered rather dear to him now. But he also was quick to shake off such musings. The current situation was enjoyable and he was happy with it.

'Hmm, should I pack some other- huh?' Discord thought before standing up straight. The Spirit of Chaos sensed another presence enter his realm. Normally this wouldn't be much of a cause for concern, as there were some entries others could use to enter this place. But this was different. Something had simply created an entrance themselves into this place.

'Who could it possibly be?' Discord thought as he focused his senses on the closing in presence. 'Could it be one of the Primals? No, it couldn't possibly be... what? That makes no sense... I can feel... myself?'

Suddenly the presence was at the door and there was a sharp knock. Discord found himself simply staring at the front door, his mind completely empty of all thought, no idea of what to do. This carried on for a long moment until the knock came again, this time more urgent or perhaps more annoyed sounding.

“I'm coming!” Discord called out and walked towards the door. His paw clutched the handle for a moment and he took a breath before throwing open the door. The Spirit of Chaos gasped in shock at the sight that met him as a blue glow shined over his features.

BETA

“Alright, and last one...” Emerald said as she clutched needle that was slowly being filled with blood. “There! That wasn't so bad, was it?”

“Can I have a sucker?” Diane asked as she rubbed the spot the needle had been.

“Sure!” Emerald said with a smile and quickly conjured a large strawberry sucker. “Here you are. Enjoy!”

“Thank you, Emmy.” Diane smiled as the virus healed up the puncture she made before getting off the couch she had been lying on. “I'm going to go finish setting up my house now with Flan, Whisper and Bluno.”

“Sounds like fun,” Emerald commented. “Don't let me keep you.”

“See you!” Diane called out as she left the room.

Once the clone had left, Emerald held up the needle full of blood to her eyes for a moment. She then got up off her own chair and walked over to a counter over by the side of the room covered with lab equipment. A refrigerated container held several other samples of Diane's blood which Emerald had collected in the past.

'Let's see if there are any changes,' Emerald thought as she placed the fresh blood into a vial and extended a small tendril into it. 'Hmm... Nope, no changes. I was rather worried that Diane would have some terrible side effects from being a clone, but I haven't seen anything so far. She appears to be as energetic as earth ponies are supposed to be, she doesn't seem to be any more fragile than anyone else and her aging seems to be no slower or faster than anyone else. Other than the fact she is supposed to be able to be “dispelled” with a single spell to be sent back to the mirror pool, she is no different from anyone else. Best to keep up some exams though, just in case there are actually some long term effects.'

Stoppering the vial, Emerald opened the small refrigerator and placed it in when the door to the room opened. Looking over her shoulder, she spotted Belvedere in his long coat entering the room.

“Hello Belvedere,” Emerald greeted. “What do you have for me?”

“Just some reports,” Belvedere replied as he took a seat on the couch. “The training for the specific dogs you requested is going well. Things were a bit rough at first, but they are taking well to their mounts after some time getting used to them.”

“Fantastic. I'm glad to hear that,” Emerald said with a smile as she took a seat as well. “This project has been two years in the making now. I'm glad the final stretch is going so smoothly.”

“I'm rather confused about why you only requested three instead of four, however,” Belvedere stated in curiosity.

“I'll show you the reason why when I get the new war room up and running in a day or two,” Emerald smiled slyly. “You'll understand then.”

“Hmm… very well. I shall be waiting, then.” Belvedere nodded and stood back, and moved to leave the room but stopped before the door. “Be sure to remember you have an important appointment today, Emerald.”

“I remember, but thanks for the reminder,” Emerald waved off and the Alpha nodded and left the room.

Emerald snapped her fingers and a book appeared overhead before landing on her lap. It was a thick book covered in a dark green velvet coat and stamped with a silver plate that had the title engraved on it. The title read Obscure Science and under that were the words Volume II.

'Twilight hasn't even finished the first book,' Emerald thought with a small smile. 'She'll definitely be overjoyed to have the second volume to look forward to.'

With that, Emerald teleported the book away and shifted into her pony form before teleporting back home to the library.

“Twilight!” Emerald called out from the main hall of their home.

“Emerald!” came the reply and Twilight quickly appeared out of the library. “Welcome home!”

“Happy anniversary, Twilight,” Emerald said and stepped in close to nuzzle the other unicorn.

“Happy anniversary, Emerald,” Twilight replied, embracing the virus. “So, any special plans for the two of us?”

“I was initially planning out a nice evening out at a classy restaurant,” Emerald began. “But while that sounds nice, it's not too terribly fun. Soooo... I figured I'd help you out with that project of yours in the basement, and we'd make a day out of that.”

“Really?!” Twilight gasped in delight. “Just the two of us putting our heads together and creating marvels of science? Oh this is going to be sooo much fun! Quick! To the basement!”

Emerald laughed in turn and quickly took after Twilight who had galloped to the basement door. Soon the virus was descending the stairs into the basement herself. In many ways, Twilight's basement was the same as the one in the old house. For instance, it was one large room and contained a vast amount of magical and scientific equipment, however unlike the old basement this one had walls of bricks and a concrete floor and the magical equipment was a bit more up to date and advanced.

'In hindsight, it was rather dangerous to have the room that would have potentially dangerous magical experiments be made of wood.' Emerald thought as she reached the end of the staircase. Currently, Twilight was busy gathering notes and darting this way and that, preparing the area for who knows how many hours of intense scientific work.

“So I know you are trying to make something based on the book I gave you,” Emerald said. “And that you are having a lot of trouble making a working prototype, but not exactly what you are trying to make.”

“Oh, well...” Twilight began as she quickly got some papers covered in diagrams together and started prepping the tops of various work tables. “I've been doing a lot of studying of the nanobot section of the book you gave me. I found the subject so very fascinating and started looking through some books on the subject of runes and magical circuitry in general. So basically I've been trying to build myself a working prototype of some nanobots.”

“What have you managed to make so far?” Emerald asked.

“Just these,” Twilight replied as she took several examples of past attempts out of cupboards.

Emerald walked over to the counter top. The first one was a series of several little balls with some penciled in drawing of what was going to be runic circuits on them. The next set were a bunch of two inch cubes covered in burns and scores, likely from failed circuits trying to fire. The next set were larger cubes that seemed to have had working circuitry, but glowed very weakly.

“So explain to me your thinking,” Emerald said, looking back at Twilight. “Why did each of these fail?”

“Well for starters,” Twilight began as she walked beside the balls. “These balls were too small and I couldn't figure out how to make the runes small enough to put on them, plus I realized having them round was making working with them a bit of a pain to work with so I moved to a cubic shape. The cubes went rather well, stayed where they were and were easier to draw rune plans on them. But it turns out they were still too small and I'm too new at rune drawing to make them properly at that size, so they fizzled and sometimes exploded. This last batch worked the best. The cubes were big enough for me to start making the proper circuits, so I just need to refine my circuits a bit to make them work.”

“Hmm...” Emerald hummed in thought as she considered the last and most successful batch of nanobots. “Not too bad. Just need some refinement like you said and then work on a control mechanism.”

“Thank you.” Twilight said as she brought up some building materials. “Now let's get to work!”

The two set to work then, spending many hours trying to get a working prototype of nanobots. Emerald could have set one up really quickly, but she would have used biomass to do so and the whole point of this was helping Twilight to make her project. Plus Emerald did enjoy trying to make something really advanced using only magic and some technical know how instead of “cheating” with biomass, and working with Twilight was always fun and interesting.

At some points Spike and Navi came down to visit them a few times, with Spike bringing down a tray with coffee each time. This did Twilight a lot of good as she stayed up later and later, bags beginning to form and eyes starting to get red, but she was so eager to work on this and get it done that she barely noticed, even without coffee. The hours passed unseen to Twilight and Emerald as they worked on the project. It was hours more before they finally appeared to be finished.

“Oh my gosh, finally!” Twilight sighed and wiped her forehead with her hoof. “That took a long time. I hope it actually works.”

“Well our math seems to add up,” Emerald said as she looked over some notes. “Really, the only thing we can do now is power it and try to get things moving.”

“Right.” Twilight nodded

Before them was a large block of wood completely covered in brightly glowing runes. The block was about the size of a washing machine and had some jury rigged jumper cables. Beside the large block was a pile of stacked up little blocks about two and half cubic inches each. Twilight walked up to the large block and telekinetically lifted the jumper cable and attached it to her horn. Closing her eyes in concentration, Twilight channeled magic into the cable.

The large block began to brightly glow and the smaller blocks started to glow and shakily lift into the air. Twilight's face scrunched up in exertion as she tried to command the blocks via the control block rather than directly. Eventually, the small blocks started to smoothly move through the air and placed themselves together to assume several shapes. A house, a dog, a bird and a cart before they dropped and settled to the ground.

“...” Twilight released a deep sigh before turning to Emerald with a wide smile. “It works! Well, barely, but it works. And it isn't exactly small enough to be called a nanobot, but it's a start. I just need to work on getting them both smaller. Oh my... how late is it now?”

“It would be about... six pm tomorrow,” Emerald answered after a moment.

“Tomorrow?!” Twilight exclaimed and seemed to suddenly realize just how tired she was. “If I go to sleep now, I'll be awake so early tomorrow. How am I going to stay up longer?”

“I think I have an idea of how I can help.” Emerald smiled slyly and teleported in the book. “Here's your anniversary gift, Twilight.”

“Oh my gosh, Emerald...” Twilight gasped as she took her book and gazed at the cover. “This is just... thank you so much!”

The unicorn darted in close and gave Emerald a kiss on the lips for a long moment before pulling away and starting to gush over her new book in earnest.

“Now you just have to worry about staying up too late,” Emerald stated with a smile and got a sheepish grin from Twilight. “Enjoy your book and don't stay up too long.”

“Thank you, Emerald. It was a wonderful anniversary.” Twilight smiled before frowning. “I... didn't get you anything.”

“You spent the day with me,” Emerald replied. “I'm rich and could buy anything. Being with you is all I really need.”

“You... you're really sweet,” Twilight said with a loud yawn. “Ugh, I really should go to bed now. I'm sure you're going off to do your own things again.”

“I am,” Emerald said and called after Twilight as she ascended the stairs. “Have a good day, Twilight!”

“You too!”

Emerald stayed a moment and quickly cleaned up the basement with her magic before shifting back into her human form. Then she teleported with a crimson flash back to the Enclave. The virus reappeared in a room filled with some construction lamps hanging from the ceiling. The room was the new war room she was designing. It had a wall covered in large - currently blank - LED screens, and facing this wall were many rows of computer consoles along with a large table that seemingly had a TV screen for the top.

'Normally I'd rather have my dogs do this,' Emerald thought as she lied down on her back and slid under the table to start tinkering with wires and circuit panels. 'But they are only still getting the basics of computer science and engineering. At least I don't have to do the teaching myself too much now, ever since I've hired some ponies from some start up computer companies. Course the issue with some of the dogs not liking ponies is still here. Don't have as many dogs in computers as I'd like, but at least we're getting a steady trickle of dogs from the independent packs who are willing to learn.'

'I could just make an extremely user friendly computer...' Emerald frowned in thought as she sealed up some panels and got up from under the table. 'But I don't want to do that. I want my dogs to understand how to make computers themselves and how they work. Still going to make them user friendly, just not to the point you'd expect an old person to feel like they were being babied.'

Emerald then reached over and pressed a button on the table and the screen started to flicker before lighting up. Suddenly a hologram leapt up from the tabletop. It was a depiction of the Surface area of the Enclave that included the surrounding ten miles as well as below the surface. The virus smiled for a moment until the hologram started to flicker and turn into static before finally flicking out, the table powering done with a loud, alarming pop.

'Right, let's get to work shall we?' Emerald thought before crawling back down under the table.

GAMMA

Whisper Wind pretended to take another picture with her camera as she scoped out an estate for a noble.

What the pegasus was up to was a “live fire” training operation. Emerald had given Whisper a high stakes training mission to help keep her skills sharp. She was currently in Canterlot early in the morning and disguised as a classy photographer, her coat and main dyed white and yellow respectively, with her cutie mark painted to look like an art palette.

'Let's see... got a lot of windows everywhere,' Whisper thought as she zoomed in with the special camera Emerald gave her. 'Looks like some basic locks... I hate picking locks. I'm probably going to have to pop them... huh? What's this?'

Looking a bit over, Whisper spotted a pony right under one of the ground windows. Said pony was an earth pony mare with a yellow coat and white mane. She was also wearing a black toque with a large, dark grey hoodie that covered her cutie mark, though it didn't matter to Whisper because she had a very strong feeling that said cutie mark was a dotted outline of a money bag with an exclamation mark within.

'Is that Clean Sweeps?' Whisper thought as she watched the mare begin to rapidly pick the lock on the window, opening it within mere moments. 'Yeah, that's gotta be Sweeps. She was awesome with all kinds of locks and could get into anything, but she was never that great at being stealthy.'

Whisper watched as Sweeps quickly slid into the now open window and considered what she should do. Sweeps had been her partner in crime before they got caught and had even got sent to the same prison, though they didn't end up being cellmates like they had hoped. But as happy as she was to see her old “business” buddy again, she was supposed to be doing something right now.

'Hmm... adapt to the situation, use new advantages as they appear and don't waste time mourning lost ones,' Whisper recited to herself. 'Aside for an awesome eye for expensive loot, Sweeps is a great lock pick. I just need to watch her and make sure she doesn't slip up and alert the inhabitants of the estate. Course the main issue is whether or not she'd want to work with me. If she doesn't want to work with me, wellI can't risk her alerting the inhabitants by accident or otherwise. I can work with pretending to be someone who saw a burglar and charged in to apprehend them. I don't like it and would be a bit tricky, but I can see how this would work.'

With that, Whisper flared her wings and quickly and quietly swooped into the air before darting through the still open window. She quietly alighted upon a lushly carpeted hallway floor. The walls were lined with expensive looking pictures and had equally expensive looking vases upon marble pedestals. Clean Sweeps was still visible and was only just down the hall, staring contemplatively at the vases before shaking her head and moving on, likely deciding to go after loot she wouldn't have to worry too much about breaking.

Whisper lifted off silently into the air again and flew towards Sweeps who was hefting her still empty loot bag. The Pony Warhound glided in silence until she was just over Sweeps, then let the air spill from under her wings and dived down. She fell atop Sweeps with a soft thump and quickly wrapped her up with her own limbs and muffled her mouth before she could release a shout.

“Shhh, shhh,” Whisper said into Sweep's ear quietly. “Clean Sweeps, it's me, Whisper Wind.”

“Whisper?!” Sweeps gasped as loud as she dared after Whisper took her hoof off her mouth. “Dear Celestia, girl, you almost gave me a heart attack!”

“I had to muffle you,” Whisper retorted with a knowing look. “You were always such a screamer, Sweeps.”

“Well darn girl, you don't have to be so rough,” Sweeps said with a laugh and got up after Whisper unwrapped her legs from her. “What are you doing here?”

“I was scoping the place out,” Whisper answered simply. “And to my surprise, saw my old partner breaking into this place without looking to see if there was anypony around to see her.”

“Well gee, Whisper, you were always a better look out than me,” Sweeps said sheepishly. “So whatcha come here to nab, huh?”

“I've come to get a book,” Whisper stated. “My boss wants it.”

“Boss?” Sweeps said in confusion before bouncing a little in place in some excitement. “That mean ya working for the Mafia, girl? Moving up in the world, fencing for the big bits! Gonna be a Made Mare, soon? I didn't even know they were going to set back up again so soon after the breakout.”

“Something like that.” Whisper smiled. “I know it ain't something glittery and glamorous, but you up with helping me with a heist?”

“Well sure thing!” Sweeps said, tucking away her loot back. “I already fenced enough loot for a week of groceries and some other essentials already, anyway. Come on, girl. Let's go nab us a book!”

Then the two were off. Since this was the inside of someone's home, all the interior doors were unlocked and therefore made Sweep's potential contribution a bit questionable, but it was best to place some controls on an unknown encountered during mission operations. Plus Whisper felt nice to be working with someone else again.

'I kind of wish I was included along with everyone else when the Invasion in Canterlot happened.' Whisper frowned in thought as Sweeps grumbled softly at encountering yet another unlocked door. 'I mean I understand the reasons I guess... don't have the scouts engage in heavy urban conflict. No time for light infantry to move ahead and recon the situation. But I feel like I just got to enjoy a vacation while everyone who might have needed me did the hard work. Bluno wasn't normal for weeks after...'

“So uhh...” Sweeps began quietly as she and Whisper crept down a hall. “Do you actually know where the book is or what?”

“It's somewhere in the center of the estate,” Whisper answered. “That's about as exact as it gets.”

“Eh, we did great on wor-”

“Shh,” Whisper said as she suddenly leapt onto Sweeps' back, wrapped her legs around her and covered her mouth. She then started to pump her wings and brought the two of them into the air towards the ceiling. A few moments, later two maids appeared around the corner looking half asleep but turning down the hall they had been walking up.

'People tend to not look up without a reason,' Whisper recited to herself as she watched the two maids walk past. Once the two had disappeared around a corner, Whisper set herself and Sweeps down.

“Don't know how I ever got by without ya, Whisper,” Sweeps said with an exhale. “Was always so super sneaky. I'm like an angry bull in a fine china shop.”

“Yeah, well, it doesn't really help when I end up making a racket popping locks,” Whisper replied as the two of them continued on their way.

“There is a fine art to lock picking girl,” Sweeps said as she scowled at yet another unlocked door. “Ya can't just stick a pick in there and start waggling it around, hoping it'll open out of pity. Not saying I'm gonna try and teach you again. Ya a lost cause, girl.”

“No complaints here. Now let's go a little faster,” Whisper said quietly. “We've got servants waking up and working. Got to get what we've come for and get going.”

“No probs.” Sweeps grinned back at her old partner.

The two continued on, Whisper having to occasionally pull Sweeps out of sight or keep her from making noise. Having worked with her before, she was used to it already and did it out of almost well practiced habit. Eventually, after several close calls with servants, they arrived in a large study filled with antique books with expensive looking covers. In the center of the room was a desk covered in scattered papers along with several books; some open, some not. Placed against a wall was a wooden case with a glass cover holding a highly stylized and thick book. Whisper closed the door behind them, locking the door while Clean Sweeps let out a gasp and darted forward.

“Oh, oh, oh!” Sweeps said as she hopped in a Pinkie-esque manner towards the case. “Please tell me this is the book! Look at that lock!”

“No, it isn't,” Whisper said as she moved papers around on the desk before picking up an open book filled with numbers and references. “This business ledger here is the target.”

“Awwwwwwwwwwww...” Sweeps groaned mournfully, now leaning against the case and giving it puppy dog eyes and a trembling pout.

Whisper shook her head in amusement and was about to tuck the book away and tell Sweeps to get ready to move when her eyes narrowed. She quickly turned in place and glared at the door just as the handle began to jiggle. As a confused muttering drifted past the door, Whisper's head snapped around to look at Sweeps who was looking around with wide eyes.

“Behind the desk!” Whisper hissed and quickly flew up to the ceiling as Sweeps darted for the desk and ducked down behind it just as the sound of a key being inserted into a lock filled the room.

“Hmm, odd,” stated a unicorn as he entered the study. “I am fairly certain I did not lock this room.”

The unicorn appeared to be the lord of the estate from the expensiveness of his articles of clothing and his own stature. He was a white coated unicorn with a well maintained blonde mane along with blue eyes. Said unicorn was now approaching the desk to take a seat.

“Ah, such a mess,” the unicorn tutted and shuffled his papers around a bit but did not put too much effort into organizing his work area. As he looked through several pages, Whisper, hovering silently above, could see Sweeps mere feet away from him, the edge of the desk being all that stood between her and discovery. Said lock picker was not taking the tenseness of the current situation well. She was on her back, forehooves pressed against each other and offering prayers to any and all otherworldly beings that could possibly hear.

This situation continued on for twenty minutes filled with nothing but the sound of a quill scratching against parchment and Sweeps looking completely freaked out from how close she was to being found. Eventually, there was a small knock at the still open doors to the study. Whisper looked over and saw that it was a maid at the door.

“My Lord Blueblood?” the maid said politely.

“Yes my dear?” 'Blueblood' replied while still writing down some notes.

“The CEO from New Paradigm is here,” she said from the doorway. “He is waiting for you in the main lobby, Lord.”

“Ah. Thank you, my dear,” Blueblood said with a smile and simply placed his new notes atop a pile of old ones on his desk.

“I wish you'd put your ledger away, Lord,” the maid said with a tone of concern. “Something so important and vital to your personal businesses and finances should be kept secure or at least out of sight.”

“Oh, it's not that vital,” Blueblood said with an easy going smile. “I have everything I could ever need about my finances and various businesses memorized in my head. The loss of this book would simply mean I'd have to spend the better part of a day creating another one.”

“Even so, Lord. Such a thing should be kept out of sight where only you can look at it,” the maid stated.

“Ah, what could I have ever done to deserve such bothersome servants?” Blueblood said with a false put upon sigh. “Very well. I shall endeavor to lock away this vulnerable tome post haste. Right this moment in fact.”

With that, Blueblood took the book and opened the drawer with the lock on it. Placing the book in the drawer, Blueblood then closed and locked it before raising up from his seat.

“Hmm... does the new owner of New Paradigm happen to be that detestable gold digger?” Blueblood asked with a frown as he approached the door.

“I am afraid so, my Lord,” the maid answered as she stepped aside to let Blueblood pass.

“How truly unpleasant,” Blueblood tutted with a sigh. “Very unpleasant. Ah well, business is business.”

“Of course, my Lord,” the maid said and closed the door behind him.

There was a long moment of Whisper and Sweeps simply remaining in place, listening to distancing hoof steps. Finally, they both relaxed and released sighs, though Sweeps' was more of an explosive exhale while Whisper let the breath out of her nose.

“Hooo... that was too close for comfort,” Sweeps commented before walking over to the front of the desk, Whisper lighting down beside here.

“Let's get the book and get out of here,” Whisper said.

“Aight, give me a second,” Sweeps said as she looked at the lock before pulling her picks out and starting to work. “This little piggy went to the market, this little piggy stayed home and this little piggy went click!”

With a happy little laugh, Sweeps pulled open the drawer and then took the book out before closing it again. Whisper took the book and tucked it away as Sweeps went to work with her picks again and locked the drawer back up.

“Alright, let's go,” Whisper stated. “Hopefully getting out of here will be easier than getting in.”

Whisper went in a direction opposite from the one she came. She probably should have returned in the exact direction she entered, but the whole point of this was to challenge and sharpen her skills. It was also the reason why she decided to break in, in the morning rather than at night. Of course, that brought up the question why Sweeps was there in the morning rather than at night, but the other mare wasn't so great when it came to planning heists.

Despite needing to fly up near the ceiling several times to avoid servants, Whisper Wind and Clean Sweeps managed to reach the outer corridors of the estate. Looking out the window, Whisper looked to see if the streets were too crowded or not. Thankfully it was still early enough that a lot of ponies were still at home or sleeping. Opening the window, Sweeps quickly slipped through the window along with Whisper. Closing the window after them, the two ponies quickly stepped into the street and started walking casually. Only when they were a block away from the estate did they grin at each other at a job done.

“That was sweet, girl!” Sweeps said with a wide, toothy grin and held out a hoof. “Still got the mad skills to pay them bills!”

“And you can still pop locks like no one’s business, Sweeps,” Whisper smiled at her partner. “It was awesome working with you again. We should do it again some time.”

Whisper began to walk away when she heard that nervous shuffling and muttering Sweeps always made when she wanted to say something but was wondering if she shouldn't.

“Something up, Sweeps?” Whisper asked after coming to a stop.

“Ya not going to lead me back to your boss?” Sweeps asked with a frown as she shifted from one hoof to the other. “I kind of thought... you know... we'd get back together again and have fun like we used to...”

“Sweeps... the boss really doesn't like it when strange ponies they don't know get into the headquarters.” Whisper sighed and, after a moment of thinking, added, “Look, because I really do like you, I'll talk to them for you, put in a good word. Hopefully things will go well and you'll get some work with us.”

“Uh, okay. I see how it is,” Sweeps said with a bit of a downtrodden look but was hopeful as well.

“Where are you staying?” Whisper asked. “If the boss wants to see you, I'll come get you.”

“Oh, it's at the same apartment complex downtown,” Sweeps answered, gesturing her head in the direction of her home.

“Seriously?!” Whisper said incredulously. “You're living in the exact same place as before? How in the world have you not been recaptured?”

“Well... it's not on the same floor ya know!” Sweeps flushed in embarrassment.

“How in the world have you managed without me for so long?” Whisper smiled softly at her old partner.

“... Not that well, Whisper,” Sweeps muttered a bit sadly. “I miss my old buddy, ya know?”

“I'll talk to the boss, okay?” Whisper said. “Hopefully I'll be back soon. In any case, I'll stay in touch, alright?”

“See ya soon... hopefully!” Sweeps shouted after Whisper with an eager wave.

“See you, Sweeps!” Whisper shouted back as she made her way back home and also mentally preparing herself to talk Emerald into taking on another criminal.

DELTA

'Please stop blowing out your capacitors,' Emerald mentally asked with a sigh as she took out yet another burned up piece of electronics. 'This should be the final thing to I have to do at least.'

Emerald was still in the new war room, trying to get it working and only now seeming to succeed after spending an entire night working on it. Getting up from under the holo table, hopefully for the last time, Emerald began to fiddle with the controls on the side when the door opened and in walked Belvedere.

“Looking rather high tech,” he commented as he walked over to stand beside Emerald.

“I was expecting you earlier,” Emerald said as she turned on the holo table and it projected a viewing of the Enclave's land.

“I was actually sleeping for once,” Belvedere answered as he took in the room. “Quite irritating, I know. Maybe you can solve that as well.”

“I'll throw it in with the next batch of augments,” Emerald answered. “So you wanted answer for why I needed only three dogs, right? Come over here.”

Emerald and Belvedere moved over to stand just before the currently blank LED screens. Emerald summoned over the remote and turned them on. Briefly, they remained blank despite being on but Emerald pressed another switch and the rooms they displayed lit up. Belvedere raised his brow at the sight of one of the rooms.

“Well now I know why you only needed three instead of four,” Belvedere commented.

Emerald simply smiled slyly.

EPSILON

“Are you ready to begin, my student?” Luna asked as she stared out towards the rapidly dimming horizon.

“I am ready as I'll ever be,” Emerald replied.

The virus was currently back in Canterlot, specifically in Luna's bedroom where her lessons in dream walking would take place. It was currently late in the evening and Celestia was just now lowering the sun to the other side of the world while Luna was bringing up the moon.

“Now that, that is out of the way,” Luna stated once the moon was fully up in the sky and walked into her room from her balcony. “Let us begin. First, let me conjure a bed for you to sleep in. Then we shall continue our lessons.”

“So how are we starting?” Emerald asked as she slipped into the bed the moment it was brought into existence by Luna. “It can't be as simple as just going to sleep, can it?”

“True, it is not,” Luna replied as she got into her own, larger bed. “One cannot enter the realm of dreams as I do even if they are a lucid dreamer. It requires a purposeful intent along with magic that is my own invention. It is also a spell best learned via experience and sensation. So I shall slowly cast the spell upon us, and you shall concentrate on how the spell feels. Normally I wouldn't be expecting success this early, but you have proven your ability to learn and master skills rapidly, thus I expect you to be quite qualified at this very quickly.”

“Right, no pressure I suppose,” Emerald replied before lying back in her bed.

“Of course.” Luna said with a bit of a smirk before a spell formed around her horn. It shot into the air, hovering for a moment before shooting down towards Emerald and impacting her in the head. The virus felt the effects of the spell immediately and, slowly but surely, she was beginning to fall asleep. She never lost sight of the end goal, however, and concentrated on what the spell was doing to her, doing her best to understand how it was working. A moment later, Emerald found herself standing before Luna in a misty plane.

“So can you replicate what I did?” Luna asked without preamble.

“I... maybe?” Emerald said and felt oddly nervous when Luna raised a brow in reply. “Just... let me wake up. I'll be right back.”

“Very well,” Luna stated and quickly zapped Emerald with another spell, causing the Blacklight being to disappear instantly. The Princess of the Night settled in to wait. After three minutes had passed, she was beginning to wonder if she would have to come back and get Emerald when said virus faded back into view a moment later.

“I made it,” Emerald said with a smile. “Figuring out a spell by feel was rather interesting. I've never actually done that before. I've always had a book and the spell matrix formula to study and reference if I had trouble.”

“While there is written material I could have given you, it would have honestly been harder for you to learn that way,” Luna explained. “There are many sensations that are described that is hard to understand in a written format. It's only when you begin to experience them that you realize how the spell begins to work.”

“Now,” Luna continued and turned about in place, stamping a hoof as she did so and causing many bubbles to suddenly rise up from the ground depicting many different scenes within. “Let us start our lessons together in earnest.”

“I thought there would be much more than this,” Emerald commented as various dream bubbles passed them by. “Or is it too early yet and these are just ponies early to bed?”

“Exactly that,” Luna answered as she lead the way through the bubbles. “Now, what I do as Princess of the Night is watch over the dreams of my subjects. A vast majority have happy dreams, but some end up having nightmares. Normally this is only a one off, but if it persists then there must a deeper problem and I often take the time to help them solve these issues. Most of the time I do my work from afar in the dreams and those who suffer the nightmares never learn of my involvement. However, there are a few rare times where I decide to interact with the pony in question.”

Emerald was listening but she also found herself staring into every dream bubble she passed by. Part of her felt like she was violating other peoples' privacy rather terribly. But she also felt incredibly curious about what other people dreamed about. She was once again reminded of how innocent and peaceful ponies were by how tame a vast majority of the dreams she saw were.

'Come on now, where are all the wet dreams?' Emerald thought jokingly. 'Seriously though, I don't expect to see anything like that here. HA! Imagine just how awkward things would be if ponies were as prone to perversion as humans? No doubt Luna would go to work every night seeing people having fantasies of her.'

“You are smiling rather widely, my student,” Luna commented with a happy expression.

“Oh I, uhhhh, just had funny thought,” Emerald waved off with a badly suppressed grin.

“It is wondrous to see you smiling so, my student,” Luna said. “Especially knowing that it's truly meant.”

“I don't fake my smiles,” Emerald retorted before frowning in thought. “At least not anymore... honestly I find myself being... more emotional than I am used to lately.”

“It is likely because you have been torn at your core, emotionally exposed and making all, whether it be insults or compliments, have that much more of an impact,” Luna stated and, before Emerald could do much more than furrow her brows in thought, switched subjects. “I am curious. Would you dean to allow me to hear of your life with your mother?”

“What?” Emerald blinked.

“I have seen your dreams and have been able to ascertain that your mother meant much to you,” Luna explained as she came to stop. “I wish to know more about you, my young student. What better than to hear about your mother, hmm?”

“Well... okay,” Emerald nodded after a moment, her eyes glazing over as memories surged forward unbidden. “My mot- Adela was a wonderful woman. She had never asked to be a single mother trying to start a new life in a country she had never been born in. But she never had any regret for becoming pregnant with me. She always felt that by having me she got far more out of that one night with my father then he did. I never really knew how the early years went for us. I was simply too young to remember, even as I am now. But my earliest memories have always been of that bakery my mother ran. Somehow she was able to start a business in only a few years and make it a success. We were never rich, but we never wanted for anything, either. Adela was an awesome mother and I... I just wish I... anyway. Is there anything else you want to know?”

“Hmm...” Luna hummed as she gazed down at Emerald thoughtfully, a hoof pressed to her chin. “Is there a reason why you refer to your mother by her given name?”

“I...” Emerald closed her eyes and took in a breath before releasing it in a deep exhale. “I don't deserve to call her my mother after everything I've done. All the people I've killed, the families I destroyed, the hurt and pain I've spread all in the name of self preservation. H-h-how could I ever think of her as my mother after that... I-I-I just...”

“...” For the longest moment, Luna simply stared down at Emerald with considering eyes, and in the virus' viewpoint they felt so judging. “Emerald?”

“Yes?” Emerald said as she averted her gaze.

“Look at me, please,” Luna asked, and when Emerald's eyes met hers, continued. “I want you to think about your mother, to really think about this woman with the will of steel, with a fortitude so intense she put her all into ensuring her child would not suffer or want. I want you to think on this and tell me that such a woman would care that you believe you don't deserve her as a mother anymore, that she would let you leave her behind. Look me in the eye and tell me that your mother, Adela, would stop loving you and abandon you.”

Emerald's face twisted in distraught. This was an incredibly sore subject for her, but she felt far more sad than she did angry. She soon found herself doing as Luna asked and started thinking about the mother she believed she betrayed utterly with her decisions. At first her thoughts were dominated by her own nightmares of her mother's face twisting in horror before turning her back on her, but it was hard to focus purely on that. So much of her life with Adela had been positive and happy, it was hard to bring up thoughts of Adela abandoning her without repeating herself and so very easy to lose herself in all the positive memories. Being that the positive memories felt far better then the memories of the nightmares that plagued her sleep, it wasn't a hard decision to make.

Quite suddenly, Emerald felt herself being picked up and opened her eyes wide to look around. She was back in the bakery, her mother's bakery. The smell of baking dough and freshly made icing filled the air, almost overwhelming her in the intensity. She looked down at herself to find she wasn't a she anymore, but a he. To be more specific, the virus now looked like her four year old self. Looking up at who was holding her found that person to be Adela looking upon her with all the motherly love she had known her for.

“It is a mother's duty to help their child learn and grow,” Luna said as she stepped into the kitchen herself. “With all that you have said of Adela, do you honestly believe she would give up on you?”

“Why are you doing this?” Emerald asked, her expression one of pure confusion and conflicting emotions. “Why are you trying to help me?”

“Because as your teacher, I care deeply for you, my student,” Luna answered solemnly before smiling softly. “And as your designated psychological healer, it is my job.”

Emerald was gaping at that declaration and anything she would have said after that was interrupted by her mother bringing her over to a chair before holding her tightly. Hundreds of happy memories flashed by through her mind simply by the act of hearing her mother hum an old lullaby.

“...Okay, you win...” Emerald said, voice choking a little as she leaned against her mother.

Luna smiled and stepped away from both the realm and the dream the bubble had managed to summon around Emerald. The Princess of the Night stayed a few minutes, watching as eventually Emerald and Adela left the chair and started to work together to bake some donuts together. Eventually, Luna had to move on. As much as she wished to celebrate a promising first session with Emerald, she still had a job to do.

Luna moved on from the freshly made dream bubble Emerald was now enjoying and started patrolling through the vast field of other dream bubbles. It was always so very easy to lose track of time in a dream and Luna found that there was now many dream bubbles compared to before when there was so few. Eventually, Luna found a dream that she immediately found rather concerning.

'Hmm, rather intense for a young filly,' Luna thought as she watched a little orange pony with small wings becoming terrified of her surroundings. 'This is the second time she has had a nightmare of this intensity. I rather wish Emerald was here to watch me work, but there is always another day to do so.'

With that, Luna stepped into the nightmare to help resolve it.

ZETA

“And this is one of the outposts we started building not too long ago,” Emerald said, waving to a large concrete fortification, whilst wearing her regalia and in her human form as well. “As you can see, we are almost finished with construction, with just some of the interior needing work yet.”

Emerald was back in the Enclave now. It had been a few days since that lesson on dream walking with Princess Luna. She had dream walked a few more times with her since then and watched Luna work. Eventually though, the virus had to return as a large amount of guests had finally arrived in the Enclave and she needed to attend to them. Before she had done so, however, she had gone to visit the grave she had made for her mother for the first time since making it. After paying her respects, she had found herself feeling like the other grave she had placed there didn't belong anymore. She hadn't gotten rid of it, but the feeling persisted after leaving.

“Is impressive work,” Mikhail said with nod as he looked over the bustling outpost manned by dogs in power armor and covered in heavy emplaced guns.

“Indeed,” commented the shorter, rather dour looking wolverine at Mikhail's side. “Though the fact that there is so little living quarters above ground paints a poor picture of the living conditions our mercenaries will have to put up with.”

“Bah!” Mikhail waved off dismissively. “Bad bunks is only encouragement for getting up early! A soldier up bright and early is good thing.”

“With all due respect, Ataman,” the other wolverine growled. “Learn to speak the local language properly.”

“I speak it well enough, yes?” Mikhail said to Emerald questioningly before turning back to his companion. “Will learn to speak it better when is more eloquent to hear.”

“Your wisdom leaves none wanting, Ataman,” the other wolverine growled sardonically

Emerald smiled at the two wolverines for a moment. She was about to speak to them further, namely getting down to the business concerning the force of wolverines coming to work for her, when a smoke cloud streaked towards her. The smoke coalesced into a scroll and she quickly grabbed it out of the air before opening it to read it. Written within was an urgent call for Emerald to come to the Palace as soon as possible for an emergency meeting. There was no other details to be had in the scroll, other than the call to Canterlot and that to come as soon as possible.

“Excuse me, but I have to be going,” Emerald said to the two wolverines. “There is an emergency I have to tend to. I'll be back later to settle the mercenaries into their quarters.”

The other, shorter wolverine simply waved her off as he got into a stance facing Mikhail, who seemed to desire a spar at this point. Emerald faced away from them and teleported in a crimson flash. She arrived in the palace an instant later and used her sonar to track down Princess Celestia. When she arrived in the hall the others were meeting in, she found that not only were most of the Mane Six there, so were Luna and Discord, along with Celestia.

“I got your message,” Emerald said as she approached the group with crossed arms. “So what's the emergency?”

“We are waiting for Rainbow Dash to arrive as so that we may begin,” Celestia said to Emerald with a serious look. “Once she is here, we shall begin.”

“Alright,” Emerald said and looked around at the group. Twilight and the others either looked really worried or deeply curious about what the emergency could be. Luna, Celestia and Discord, however, looked incredibly serious. This stood out even more with Discord as it was rare that he didn't have some sort of mischievous atmosphere about him.

“Well look at you, Discord,” Emerald commented. “You look completely serious... for once. It must be the end of the world.”

Discord frowned in annoyance and was about to answer when Celestia gave him a look. The draconequis looked incredibly conflicted for a moment before sighing and simply ignoring Emerald. Now the virus was really interested in knowing what the emergency was. Thankfully, that was the moment Rainbow Dash chose to arrive.

“Alright alright, I'm here,” Dash stated gruffly, swooping into the room wearing a Wonderbolts uniform. “What's so important I had to skip training at the academy and leave my only friend behind, huh?”

“Only friend?!?” Pinkie exclaimed with gasp that the others mirrored.

“Sugarcube, what in the world are you talking about?” Applejack asked with an expression somewhere between hurt, angry and confused. “Did something happen at that fancy academy of yours?”

“Yeah, something happened,” Dash retorted. “I realized who my true friends are! Look at all of you, siding one by one with this killer, this monster who killed my friend! Going out of your way to sweep under the rug what she did just so you can all be friends again. Well I see what's going on for what it is! What if it was me instead of Gilda that was killed, huh?”

“But-” Twilight tried.

“AND DON'T GO SAYING SHE WOULDN'T HAVE DONE IT!” Dash roared in fury, angry tears beginning to stream down her cheeks, her jaw clenched tightly and teeth bared at people she once thought were her friends. “She TOLD us herself that was her plan long after becoming our friend. She told us she planned to undermine all of us, to try to destroy the Elements of Harmony through us. Just because she decided not to go through with it, suddenly it's okay to forget that?! I bet if it was me that had been murdered, it would have been the same darn thing that happened. You all would have been unhappy with her for a while then kissed and made up.” Dash sneered at Twilight who looked incredibly shocked and hurt by the act.

Just as the others were about to speak, Emerald raised a hand and stopped them. She walked over to Twilight to comfort her with a hug before speaking.

“Just leave her be, alright?” Emerald said to the others. “She is very angry right now and hasn't been able to express that anger to any of us in months. More importantly, she has the right to be angry and the right to say these things.”

“SEE?! LOOK AT THIS?!” Rainbow Dash shouted angrily. “Why is the killer acting more like a friend then any of you?! Why are none of you siding with me, too?! How come I only have Lightning Dust as a friend? Why... why... why do I feel so alone in Ponyville...”

Everyone stared in silence as Dash averted her face from them, attempting in futility to hold back tears that refused to stop flowing.

“Now is not the time to be divided by uncertainty and the past,” everyone heard Discord say. They all turned to look at him, only to see him looking down towards the end of the hall. When they looked to see what he was looking at, they gasped and widened their eyes in surprise.

Walking down the hall towards them was... Discord.

Emerald quickly took in the two Discords, one next to them and other approaching them. The Discord that was approaching them had only one eye. The other was a glowing blue void, a horrid tear in his body. From the appearance of another glow from his back and lack of his other wing, Emerald correctly assumed he had another wound like that on his back. Running down his chest was a massive, ugly rope-like scar. But the biggest thing about this other Discord was his expression. It was harsh and gaunt, his one eye seemed to have sunk into his skull and glared out at the world like everything had personally wronged him. It reminded Emerald a lot of the looks people got in the Yellow Zone back in New York, especially more so in the Red Zone.

“Wha... what's going on?” Twilight asked in confusion as she looked between the two Discords. “Why are there suddenly two of you?”

“I shall explain myself,” the scarred Discord stated as he came to a stop before the group. “I am quite simply, Discord from another place and time. An alternate universe, if you will.”

“I am guessing that from the look of you, things didn't go so well,” Emerald said and got a sneaking, terrible suspicion of what the end result of this talk was going to be.

“Yes,” Scarred Discord answered. “I will begin my story now. Please do not interrupt as there is not much time left to explain much.”

“My universe had gone much like yours... at first,” Scarred Discord began as he looked up to the ceiling, his one eye glazing over. “Nightmare Moon was defeated and Luna returned to Equestria. All was well and everyone celebrated. Then the next day, Twilight Sparkle, bearer of the Element of Magic, was found murdered.”

“It was a horrific crime that had sent the community reeling,” the alternate continued, ignoring the shocked gasps of the others but staring Emerald in the eyes. “Both in Ponyville and in Canterlot. In the short time she had been in Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle become a celebrated member of the town thanks to her deeds. Many people who had only known her for a day had attended her funeral bright and early. Celestia would have done so as well, but in her grief her work had suffered and needed time to catch up before she could attend at the proper time. I do not know what would have happened had she been able to attend early like the others. Maybe it wouldn't have gone so horrifically. Maybe it would have been worse...”

“Let me explain that last part,” Scarred Discord said with a shake of his head. “The funeral was going along as expected, except for the part where Twilight Sparkle made her appearance seemingly alive and well. As you can expect, friends and family rushed to embrace her in happiness. Twilight then exploded into blades and spikes and slaughtered them all in an instant once they had done so. This action galvanized Celestia into action. She became harsher and determined to hunt down the creature that had murdered her beloved student.”

“Oskar, however, was one step ahead of her no matter what she did,” the alternate stated, causing the Mane Six to shudder when he mentioned Emerald's old name. “He created little zombie outbreaks here and there, nothing too major, leaving something of a bread crumb trail for Celestia to follow and track. He eventually created a massive outbreak in Vanhoover, leading Celestia to believe now was the time to face him. She left Luna back in Canterlot as she was still recovering her power… but this was what Oskar had been planning for.”

“He went to Canterlot while Celestia had gone to Vanhoover,” Scarred Discord continued. “He ambushed Luna in her room and absorbed part of her power and then became magnitudes more powerful as a result. It's uncertain what else happened at this point, but the end result was Luna nowhere to be found and the palace shattered.”

“With all the chaos happening in the capital, my prison weakened rapidly and I was released,” the maimed Spirit of Chaos said. “I had been confused and unsure what to feel of the bloodshed and destruction that was unleashed upon Equestria, and in that confusion fell back on the one thing I knew to do.”

“I taunted Celestia when she returned,” Discord said, an expression of regret and sorrow upon his face at mentioning this. “Offered to revive her sister and cherished Bearers of the Elements should she pledge eternal loyalty. Expecting to be defied and ignored, I was shocked when she accepted with little argument. I found myself a bit on the spot due to not having revived someone before. It mattered not in the end. Oskar had been watching us apparently and my offer forced him to action.”

“Long story short, he attacked me, gave me a negligible wound, absorbed my power then gave me this wound,” he said, motioning to the massive ugly scar on his chest. “In panic, I teleported away. The last time I saw Celestia alive, she was charging down Oskar with tears in her eyes and pure rage on her face.”

“Ironically, I sent myself to the moon for safety and to heal,” the alternate continued. “For weeks I watched on as beautiful blue and green gem that was our world turn black and red. Oskar, a living, world killing infection given form, spread across the world like a flesh eating cancer. Something changed in me during those two weeks I stood back and watched as he murdered countless millions. Suddenly I felt like I knew. I knew now that this was what true chaos was like, uncaring and snuffing out everything. I couldn't stand by anymore. The moment I was healed, I left the moon and went to face him a second time... I should have waited longer and prepared.”

“I was still so arrogant, still so sure of my power despite the evidence to otherwise having been literally torn into my chest,” the maimed being said, running a hand down the ugly scar on his chest. “Oskar had slaughtered the herons not a week before. He knew their power, their skills of manipulating the elements. But more importantly, he knew of their more esoteric skills. The ability to strike at the spirit of a being itself. When I had troubled the herons eons before, their attacks upon me had only stung. But with Oskar's might behind such blows...”

“Well the evidence is clear to see...” he said, motioning to the rents in his form, where his eye used to be and where his other wing had been. “I ran again, barely alive... my pride and arrogance torn out, never to return. This time I spent several months on the moon. Not healing, but attempting to get used to wounds that healed so slowly I may as well assume they were there to stay.”

“I knew then that my power was never going to be enough, especially now with my injuries.” The alternate sighed. “Once I had grown used to my crippling injuries enough, I traveled the ruined and diseased world Equus had become. I searched through ruins, talked to small communities Oskar never put much effort into annihilating for some reason. I looked the world over for magical artifacts and relics of great power, to find a means of defeating Oskar. Sometimes I found something useful, sometimes they were useless and sometimes all I found was torn up metal, Oskar having beaten me to it.”

“I built up quite the vast arsenal of magical relics on the moon,” Scarred Discord said as he walked over to the window to stare out at the sky. “It wasn't enough. I felt it was close, but not enough... I needed the true, undisputed power in the world to back me up. I needed the Elements of Harmony. But I couldn't get them. They were back in Canterlot where Oskar held them close and heavily guarded.”

“I had begun to despair that my goal was going to never be fulfilled, but then I stumbled upon something that gave me hope,” the maimed Spirit said, turning on the spot to face the group again. “The notes of Starswirl the Bearded. There were many interesting ideas and plans among them. He was truly a genius that comes once an age. One of his notes described the creation of a magical mirror that could breach the barriers of dimensions. Searching for yet more information, I found a book in the ruins of Ponyville about a magical pond. Using my own not insignificant mastery of magic, I managed to reverse engineer Starswirl's creation by using that pond as the mirror.”

“Once I had created my new Dimensional Mirror, I made as many runic protections around as I could to delay any pursuit,” Scarred Discord said and turned to face Emerald directly. “Imagine my surprise when I arrived and found Oskar's unmistakable power here as well? I knew I was in an entirely different world, therefore things must not be the same, but I had to be sure. I tracked down the local version of myself, for if I can't trust myself, who can I trust? But even with his words, I couldn't help the desire to stand back and judge you for myself, to be sure I haven't gone through all this just to make a horrible mistake. I am still not sure, but I am out of time... I have to go on faith now, the hope that I've not doomed this world as well as my own doubly so by combining the threats they faced.”

There was silence for the longest moment as the Mane Six struggled to take everything in. Emerald, however, was frowning over the last thing the alternate had said.

“You said you were out of time,” Emerald said, clenching her fists tightly. “Let me guess... I am going to be arriving very soon.”

“If I know my enemy, he should be breaching the final runes now and making his move through the pond about now,” the alternate Discord answered simply.

ETA

The cavern of the Mirror Pool remained the same since the alternate Discord had changed it and come through. The pool was still without its glow and left most of the cave in darkness... that did not remain the case for long, however.

Bright red lightning began to surge across the surface of the pool. Ripples appeared in the water and soon it began to churn and broil like boiling water. Wisps of red suddenly appeared in the water and grow and grow in number and intensity until the water was a deep, blood-like crimson before turning black. Finally, as the water started to calm again did the pool regain its iconic glow, but this time releasing crimson light through the cave. It was silent for a long moment before a ripple appeared in the water, then another, and another, and another...

Emerging from the waters of the Mirror Pool came a twisted mockery of a pony. Its flesh looked raw and torn, it had little to no hair on it's body. Massive, horrific rents lined its body glowing with orange bio-luminescence. Glazed, bloodshot eyes rolled erratically in their sockets as gasps and moans left its jawless mouth. Upon its rear was its cutiemark, almost mockingly untouched; the image of a basket full of flowers stood in stark contrast to the rest of its form. Other abominations emerged and all of them twisted in their own unique ways. A diamond dog had a grotesquely overdeveloped upper body, its immense muscle mass having broken its legs and forced it to crawl everywhere. A unicorn had dozens of twisted and spike like horns exploding deep from within the flesh of its head and out it's face. A pegasus was little more than a pair of wings and forelegs reduced to splintered bones likely used as claws, its lower body torn away.

The flow of abominations from the pool grew with every second, but one abomination in particular was having trouble getting out of the pool. It was a pegasus, its wings reduced to bones and one foreleg barely anything but bones and one muscle wrapped around it while the other seemed to be caught beneath the water on something. Its faintly yellow eyes rolled in their sockets separate of each other as it groaned in frustration. Suddenly it was sent flying into the air where it impacted the ceiling with a wet, meaty impact before crashing down to the floor below. It twitched for several moments before releasing a death rattle that sounded more like a relieved sigh.

A hand emerged from the waters of the Mirror Pool and grasped the shore, the rest of the being following shortly after. It was Oskar, there was no mistaking this person. He was the spitting image of Emerald before she had abandoned her male human form and name. He looked no different at all. His clothes were just as colorful and he hadn't had obvious viral growths on him like some form of corruption; he simply was.

Oskar took a look at the cavern that was rapidly filling with his infected and frowned when he saw the blocked up entrance above. Looking down, he spied the infected he knocked out of his way which was now dead. With the briefest of frowns, he pointed his hand at it.

The reaction was instant, the infected started to twitch and spasm as tendrils flowed and moved beneath its skin. Eventually, the light of life, the twisted mockery that it was, returned to its eyes. It rose back up with a deeply tormented wail, dragging its massive, tumorous right leg back up right. Blood flowing from its eyes, it began to shamble towards the ramp leading upwards.

'Hmm...' Oskar hummed aloud as Blacklight Brawlers leapt out of the mirror pool behind him, biting and clawing at lesser infected that came too close or just didn't shamble out of the way fast enough. 'Now where did you go?'

With that thought, Oskar pointed his hand at the ceiling and with a massive, deafening explosion, blew it clear away. Rubble and dust filled the air and beams of light shone down on the exposed Mirror Pool. Once that was done, Oskar leapt into the air, reaching cloud height in half a second.

'Doesn't matter where you are,' Oskar thought. 'I know where you would go.'

With a blindingly bright flash of crimson light, Oskar disappeared from sight. Below, his twisted hordes surged and grew as they rushed up from below like the Legions of Hell itself set loose upon an unsuspecting world.

-TBC-

Author's Note:

AN: Ah, I've been looking forward to this for so very long. I can't believe I can finally get to write this chapter. A few of you may remember I had mentioned already having planning out an “evil route” of sorts for Emerald some years ago. This is it, heh. Also I do believe a certain editor had said this once upon a time “From the looks of it, Oskar is dead. And from what I know of Legionary, which mind you is very little, I doubt he’s going to be making a comeback. But that’s just my opinion, so don’t hold that against me, ye of photographic memory.

EN: Well… damn. Way to throw my statement right back in my face there. Did not expect that, to be honest. I’m curious, though. How many people even bother to read these Editor’s Notes? And I’m thinking of making a slight game out of it. If I see five people acknowledge this, then I’ll continue making comments here. If less… then I guess it doesn’t really matter. Meaning if I see five people commenting about this, I’ll continue with the commentary. If not, I go silent. Up to you folks.

AN2: Aww, well I always enjoy your ending notes

EN2: Yeah, but you get to talk with me as I edit

AN3: True

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