Twilight Sparkle trotted down the road of Ponyville, completely invisible.
Well, all right, that wasn’t exactly true. For one thing, a small cone near the front of the invisibility spell allowed light to get through, allowing her to see and, from certain angles, providing a glimpse of her violet eyes. For another, this wasn’t exactly her Ponyville. Princess Celestia had been surprised when her faithful student managed to develop a harmonic transfer spell, allowing her to teleport to another universe; still, she allowed her to test it with some precautions, such as being invisible and avoiding her alternate. For the most part, this Ponyville seemed identical, although the ponies had a habit of simply stating what they were doing.
“Walking!” Twilight giggled to herself as she joined in. It was fun, in a nonsensical kind of way. So far this world seemed... well, fairly nice. She grinned as she saw the cutie mark crusaders walk by; those three were adorable in whatever reality they--
“I Am Just SayIng That The RaTiO Of SucCess In This VenTure Is OnLy 15 Out Of One HunDred.”
Twilight stared at Sweetie Belle. She had sounded... completely different. Even weirder was that the other two crusaders didn’t seem to notice.
“Oh come on, Sweetie Belle, don’t be a wuss!” Scootaloo gave the unicorn a friendly punch (and Twilight noted the odd clang) and looked around. “We’re bound to get our cutie marks in robot hunting!”
“Yeah! Mah sister has told me thay jus blow up in tha most awesome way!” Apple Bloom grinned like a maniac. “Well, she didn’t say like that, o course, but that’s what she meant.”
“But IDentIFyIng A RoBot Is ExTremeLy DiffICult,” Sweetie Belle pointed out as she whirred along. “WithOut CutTing Off Their Skin They Look And Act ExActLy Like Us.”
Twilight found herself following the fillies in a daze. Robots? Robots that looked and acted... was this Sweetie Belle a robot? How would Applejack know about robots exploding? Her thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of a cyan pegasus, skidding to a halt in front of the fillies.
“Hey you!” She pointed at the white filly that Twilight was absolutely sure was not Sweetie Belle. “I was just dashing round rainbows and I had this Rainbow idea that your sister could make me a dashing big hat so my dashes could be more rainbow but I can’t dashing find her! Where the rainbow is she?!”
“It’s VetErAn's Day,” the not-unicorn replied with a roll of her eyes. “She’s On The KitchEn Floor SobBing And UnABle To Do ANyThing.”
“Yeah, Ah know how that is,” Apple Bloom sighed. “Applejack always heads over to the destroyed schoolhouse and starts reciting her apologies tah the foals.”
“Hey, I’m lucky, I lost my parents in the war.” Scootaloo shrugged. “I don’t have to deal with that shit.”
WHAAAAT?!?!?! And where did Scootaloo learn such bad words?!
Rainbow shrugged. “Well, I guess I’ll have to wait then. Rainbow Launch!” She took to the skies, leaving three fillies and a flummoxed invisible purple unicorn to their fates.
So there was a war?! Did this have something to do with the robots, or, or, and Rarity and Applejack--? Twilight shook her head. No, she was an observer. She could read up on the world’s history later. No need to panic, a historical deviation was to be expected. Still, she couldn’t shake a horrible sense of dread. If she were home, she’d just talk to her friends... but here, she was alone, at least until she pulled the thread leading back to her world.
Still, checking up on her friends seemed like a good idea. And Fluttershy’s place was around here. It’d be nice to see the kind pegasus. With a confident smile on her invisible features, the unicorn set down the trail to Fluttershy’s cottage.
Huh. That was odd. None of the animals seemed that active. They were happy, obviously, but... not roaming, in the sense that most animals did, but instead with slow, deliberate and sluggish motions. And Fluttershy’s windows seemed rather... dark.
Hairs pricked up on Twilight’s neck.
Without thinking, she teleported to the other side of the door.... and stood, horrified, watching Pinkie and Fluttershy battle a horrible THING, all arms and tentacles and teeth and eyes. The most disquieting detail, though, was that the battle was completely silent. Even when the beast shattered through a table, or Pinkie cried out in pain at a gash, no noise reached her ears.
Observational integrity be damned, she needed to help these girls! Dropping her invisibility spell, Twilight built up a magical charge in her horn, formulating a banishment spell and aiming it at the abomination. The light shot forward, smacking the mass dead center; every part of the creature began to shimmer, before shifting into sparkling dust and imploding.
Every noise hidden by the battle burst into the air, fifteen minutes of sound packed into ten seconds. The ponies all winced at the screams and growls and splintering noises assaulting their ears. When it finally ended, they stood up, breathing heavily.
Fluttershy was the first to speak. “That.... was not lord Smooze.”
Twilight gave her a befuddled look. Lord who?
“Well, I told you gypsy magic didn’t work like that!” Pinkie shook her mane as though nothing had happened. “But noooooo, you had to try and summon your apocalyptic god with some ceremony that wasn’t even designed for it!”
“Gypsy magic?” Twilight asked, rocking on her hooves.
Fluttershy was beside her in an instant. “Oh Tw--I mean, Princess Twilight. Um, could you not report us to the magic police?” She smiled gently.
“Wha--” Twilight shook her head. “Oh, um, no! I won’t do that, Fluttershy.” We’re friends, right? she almost added, before remembering it might be bad to make assumptions about this world.
“Besides, it was all Fluttershy’s idea anyway,” Pinkie explained. She gave the pegasus a miffed glare. “I’ve already got my parents back, so I don’t need to do any more gypsy magic, but she just INSISTED. Oh that reminds me, I need to go change their diapers!” With a beatific smile, Pinkie hopped out the door.
“Are we just going to let her go like that?” Twilight asked, looking at the various scratches on her pink frie--on the alternate of her pink friend. She needed to go change her parent’s diapers...?
“There will be other sacrifices,” Fluttershy replied comfortingly. “Besides, we have an open hellmouth now. I’m going to try to find some lesser demons to feed to our fellow servants of Lord Smooze... well, um, unless you need me for something.”
The pegasus caught the absolutely terrified expression on the unicorn’s face.
“Oh don’t worry, Twilight! If you prepare them properly, demons can actually be quite tasty!” She giggled. “They’re even better when they’re still alive, but I wouldn’t ask that of anypony who didn’t want to take the risk.”
“Oh! Oh, ha, yes. Thanks, but... I need to go now, and check up on Spike.”
Fluttershy nodded in understanding. “You poor dear. Remember, not a word to the magic police! I’d hate to have to break your horn off.” With a happy hum, she trotted into the kitchen.
Twilight flicked her invisibility spell on and darted out of the building. The stormclouds above poured rain as her mind reeled. Pinkie and Fluttershy were opening portals to summon some... THING? Rarity and Applejack had PTSD from a war?! Secret robot spies were everywhere?!?! She needed to make sense of this world! And Fluttershy had called her a princess... maybe, maybe all the Elements were princesses, but then why were they not in their own palaces?!
She caught a glimpse of Applejack herding the CMC out of the rain. Sweetie Belle was spasming occasionally. “Now come on, girls, ya’ll can get into Rarity’s magical contact collection tomorrow, when she snaps out of her episode.”
Twilight shook her head, running toward the library. The same statements she’d regarded as amusing and nonsensical now seemed mocking and insane.
Finally she managed to reach the familiar yet strange treehouse that was her home. She paused briefly, using a spell to dry herself--an invisible unicorn dripping everywhere would cause questions--and darted in, her eyes scanning the shelves. History, history, history, history--AH! With a quick glance around she grabbed the book and dove into the basement.
A light appeared on the end of her horn as she opened it with caution. Her eyes scanned the first passage... then the next.... words merged into terrible images
...discovery of the robot valley was both a blessing and a curse to ponykind. While the robots had many powerful devices and magics in their possession, their insistence on trade as opposed to surrender was too blasphemous for the ponies to bear. Obviously, creatures without flesh could not have souls; with that in mind, princesses Celestia and Molestia ordered that the technology be taken by force. Thus began the great war...
“We... struck first?” Who was Molestia? The book associated her with the moon, but surely that was princess Luna’s domain?
...lesser races joined the robots in an attempt to overthrow their pony overlords. Obviously such action was foolhardy; Equestria allied themselves with the dragons, enchanting them into our service, and the opposing forces were eventually forced to surrender. However, the robots were discovered to have found a way to blend into pony society...
...to this day, sympathizers continue to hide robots in their own homes; the robots themselves do not realize their soulessness, which prevents them from going on a vengeful rampage. All dragons are carefully monitored by the royal draconic bondage service, in order to ensure their continued and unbreaking servitude to Equestria. Our former enemies now happily serve us in probation corrals, some of them even achieving working-class status. Truly, it is an age of prosperity.
Twilight shut the book, unable to take any more. Without a word, she tugged at the spell thread keeping her connected to her home....
“Ah, Twilight, my faithful student. How was your sojourn into the unknown?”
Twilight Sparkle managed to raise her gaze to Celestia’s face.
Then she broke down into tears, wrapping herself around the princess’s leg. “It... it was... it was horrible...”