• Published 29th Mar 2016
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Sunset Shimmer is MAD about EVERYTHING - Justice3442



Sunset Shimmer, practitioner of friendship, twice savior of Canterlot High, alicorn. She's offered to help Twilight's new student as the whole group travels to the Crystal Empire for a Crystalling. Should be a relaxing, stress free trip. Right?

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Chapter 20: … Burn Life’s House Down!

Author's Note:

For those wondering about the seatbelt last chapter:

Yeah... that's canon, bizarrely enough.

Chapter 20: … Burn Life’s House Down!


Four different colored beams of magic intersected in a torrent of energy as tiny shards of the Crystal Heart began to piece themselves back together. A scroll entitled ‘Somnambula’s Weather Abjuration’ and one entitled ‘Fixer's Crystal Cluster Conjoining’ both laid next to an open book next to four ponies. They continuously poured their rapidly depleting energy forth into the center point between them. The very ground shook below and the very sky boomed above, but Twilight Sparkle, Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, and Starlight Glimmer all stood fast.

A bit away from the ponies, past what once was a massive pink curtain that had now been mostly done in by the storm and on top of a platform under a massive heart-shaped arc, Sunburst held Shining Armor and Cadance’s baby as the two parents flanked the child. Pinkie Pie and Rarity stood next to Princess Cadance as Fluttershy and Applejack stood next to Shining Armor. Below the stage, the entire crowd of ponies hassled in front, the ponies attempting to quickly form some sort of long and wide line leading from the castle and out into the empire. A mixture of excitement and near pure terror gripped the crowd as they looked up at their rulers and the massive chunk of frozen storm that was heading straight for them.

In a spectacle of light sound and color that left the crowd looking up in awe, the chunk of ice suddenly exploded as a shockwave of rainbow flew past still rather large, but considerably smaller chunks. The light pink alicorn baby let out a mirthful cry of delight, first at the sight above, then at her parents who kissed her on her cheeks, and leaned their horns down to meet with hers. A golden glow surrounded the baby and it began to lift into the air, glowing as the nearby ponies watched with wonder. Rarity’s ocean blue eyes only glanced down at the magic surrounding the baby before they returned up towards the sky, her pupils drifting down as if tracking something. She presented a box to Sunburst and opened it revealing a set of crystals. Sunburst looked over the crystals and took one into a magic aura with a telekinetic, golden glow. Her task done, Rarity exclaimed a quick, “Good luck keeping the crowd safe!” and let the box drop, leaving the crystals to scatter to the floor as the white mare took off like a shot, off the stage and down to the frozen city below.

Rarity’s friends followed the white mare with their eyes.

“Did she just… leave?” Fluttershy asked in surprise. “I mean… I didn’t think that was an option…”

“No way!” Pinkie cried. “Rarity’s no yellow-bellied coward pony...Heh… No offense…”

“None taken,” Fluttershy replied.

Applejack glanced up, her eyes widening. “No. Ah think Rarity’s settling an old debt.” Applejack grit her teeth. “Get ready everypony. We’ve only got a little bit more time before things get rough…”

His eyes following Rarity briefly, Sunburst refocused his attention on the baby, Sunburst raised a foreleg and announced, “Citizens! May I present the newest member of the Crystal Empire!” Trepidatiously, he looked up at the broken wall of ice that still looked to be falling towards the Empire and added, “Hopefully not its last…” in a whisper.

The baby simply giggled and extended its massive wingspan as it hovered above its parents, the other ponies onstage, and the humongous crowd below.

Perhaps they were caught up in the moment, or perhaps the ponies present were still running off the excitement of Sunset Shimmer’s earlier speech, but the crowd mostly ignored the rapidly approaching death from above, murmured in amazement at the beauty they saw and bowed their heads low.

From the head of the crowd, a brilliant azure glow spread down streets over houses, clearing away snow and returning the Empire to a less frozen, if somewhat smashed state.

Sunburst telekinetically lowered the crystal he held to the ground and it began to glow with the same energy. Soon all this energy in the empire seemed to flow up in into the crystal. Sunburst suddenly turned and ran away from those ponies on the stage who were looking up at the sky frightfully. He galloped past the destroyed pink curtain and into the center chamber where the four ponies still poured forth their magic and he leapt, the energized crystal moving with him in an arc before it was thrust into the still shattered heart.

The heart suddenly began to pulsate with pink and then white light as it spun round and around, releasing a wave of energy that left every pony it touched translucent with faceted colors much like a crystal, and those closest to it with quaffed and tidy manes as well as the odd jeweled accessory here or there. Energy of all colors flew upwards from the castle into the ice above, further destroying much of the remaining frozen precipitation that still threatened to crush the city and ponies below.

For a moment, everything was calm and serene as the ponies bathed in the energies from the recently restored heart.

“WATCH OUT!” Applejack hollered as she leapt from the stage, hit the ground hard with a gallop and suddenly shifted sidewise. Applejack skid and slammed herself into a trio of ponies in the front, sending them reeling back. Almost immediately after, a giant chunk of ice hit the spot the three ponies had occupied moments before exploding into jagged chunks as it collided with the ground and the orange earth pony mare who had quickly move to save those in danger.

Those around the fallen pony gasped in alarm and those close friends of Applejack who observed from the stage above cried out in fear and distress as streams of red began to appear on their friend, flowing down her crystal coat and pooling on the ground below.

As the heavy thud of ice hitting the empty castle smashed and even seemingly tore the crystal structure, as more ice fell towards the ponies and smashed houses in the city below, slowly Applejack began to stir.

Amidst the relieved sighs and exhales from those holding their breath, Applejack got back to her hooves and stared up at the sky dotted with falling ice as blood flowed down from the top of her head down the front of her face and onto her muzzle. “… That all ya got?” she sneered.

The sensible thing to do when something large and heavy is rapidly heading towards you would be to get out of its way. Especially if that ‘something’ was a massive, temporarily airborne glacier that was bearing directly towards you. Sunset Shimmer and Spike, however, were not being sensible. In fact, with the day they had had and with the current situation, they were pretty much entirely out of good sense at the moment. This was made even more apparent as they were, in fact, doing the complete opposite of getting out of the way of the potential metropolis murderer. As Sunset flew closer to the rapidly descending ice chunk her horn glowed turquoise and she let out a torrent of clear liquid that fired off in a steady stream in front of her.

“LET ‘ER RIP, SPIKE!” she shouted at the top of her lungs.

“YOU GOT IT, ORANGE CRAZY!” Spike shouted from the back of his alicorn mount before he let loose with a jet of green fire.

Sunset furrowed her brow at her new nickname, but as the stream of liquid hydrogen in front of her ignited in a blast wave that almost sent her reeling to the side or even back to the ground she wasn’t sure she had a good counterargument. With a heavy flap of her wings, she turned Spike and herself back so they were facing straight up. As the steady stream of blistering hot fire made contact with the iceberg above and Sunset found herself flying towards a brand new ‘cave’ full of fire and steam, she couldn’t help but feel Spike had something of a point.

Still, against safety and common sense, Sunset steeled herself mentally and magically as she let loose a wild, untamed scream and flew upwards into the blistering hot cave. Sunset’s head had begun to ache something fierce as she maintained a spell to keep her from being fried or boiled and also a spell to provided Spike plenty of fuel to keep the pair boring a hole straight up. This was not the ache of frustration, though there was some of that plaguing her head as well, but an ache that let her know that she had used too much magic for far too long a time and that there would be a heavy toll on her body.

And yet, Sunset continued pouring out magic and beating her wings upwards with all the strength she could muster. To stop maintaining her fire protection meant a quick death by green flame and roiling steam, to stop fueling the fire likely meant there wouldn’t be enough fire to maintain the speed at which Spike and her were melting a hole towards the top, and to even slow her ascent could spell certain doom for those depending on her and Spike.

As pain dug into her brain like dozens of long nails being simultaneously hammered into her skull, Sunset Shimmer flapped all the harder and focused all the more energy into her spells, her vision completely filled by green flame as she simply flapped upwards. The fire blazed and danced with hissing steam in an oddly serene display as Spike held on tightly, never for an instant letting up on the constant beam of flame he shot forth.

As the ache in Sunset’s wings changed from nigh-unbearable to a searing sensation of suffering and the stabbing in her head simultaneously intensified beyond any physical pain she had known she let out one final feral scream and flapped with all her strength as she emptied the last ounce of magic and physical energy she had. Around her, the flames dance changed to a maelstrom of destruction as Sunset could start to feel the blistering heat, threatening to end her.

As Sunset briefly wondered if this was her final moments, her world of fire suddenly exploded into brilliant sky blue light as she felt herself continue to be propelled upwards into the open, free air on a geyser of fire and steam.

Spike let out a jubilant cry and even exclaimed a victorious “We did it!” as he and Sunset touched the sky. Still heading upwards, Sunset tumbled end over end without any control whatsoever.

Pain wracked Sunset’s body like she could not believe, so much so that it was nearly impossible for her to focus her magic or work her taxed and singed wings. Still, as Sunset Shimmer watched a blur of blue and rainbow color streak past her and Spike, said blur hollering with pure, adrenaline-fueled excitement, Sunset couldn’t help but smile.

“Uh, Sunset?” Spike called out in a worried tone.

Sunset felt her uncontrolled ascent slow as she looked around. Squinting, her turquoise eyes found the sun and, to her, it seemed like it shone for her and her alone.

“SUNSET!” Spike cried in a panic as he began to jostle Sunset as her eyes slowly began to close.

As pain and fatigued rushed in to claim Sunset’s consciousness, a thought of Sunset’s childhood, seemingly so long ago, echoed through her mind.

‘Mommy? Am I… Am I a good girl?’ A much younger Sunset Shimmer asked.

‘Yes, my little shimmering sunshine,’ came the soothing voice of Sunset’s adopted mother, ‘you are a very good girl.”

And then Sunset Shimmer fell.

>-ooo-<

Rainbow Dash sped downward, faster and faster in front of a rainbow trail which followed her as if it was trying, and failing, to catch up. Although she was mostly looking down at a large sheet of jagged ice, the entryway Sunset had left for her was pretty easy to find. In partly due to the fact that out of pairs of eyeballs in Equestria, like most things, Rainbow Dash has some of the best, if not the best. Easily top 10… no… top 1% in terms of eye-awesomeness.

The fact that the hole left for her had also erupted in steam and fire didn’t hurt, though. However, the other fact that the hole was still swirling with sweltering hot gas did make the prospect of flying through it seem even more dangerous than the idea already was.

So of course, Rainbow Dash flapped her wings all the harder and plunged straight down. The steaming walls of the cylindrical opening in the ice had already begun to crack and break. As a matter of yet another fact, the entire ice mountain seemed to be falling apart due to having a massive hole melted directly through its center. Though, there was still the problem regarding the chunks being a little too ginormous plus all her friends and the ponies back on the ground.

The wind pulled her lips back as Rainbow Dash grit her teeth, water streamed out of her eyes, mixing with the near boiling condensation that had already collected on Rainbow Dash’s coat. Her forelegs began to shake as she held them straight ahead of her and down, and all the while she picked up even more speed.

Suddenly, everything behind Rainbow Dash exploded into color and light as an ice mountain shattering KABOOM!’ filled the air, or at least, that’s the sound Rainbow Dash assumed it made on account of all the faster than the speed of sound she was currently going. The ice above suddenly cleared and the sky above her opened up. Of course, the ground was still a very real, unmoving, coming up very fast, thing full of houses, a giant castle, and, oh yeah, big spiky icicles that wouldn’t have any trouble impaling Rainbow Dash at this speed.

Rainbow Dash flapped hard and pulled upwards, but with all of the speed she was heading down with, ‘down’ was still the primary direction she was heading. On the plus side, there was now a bit more ‘sideways’ in relationship to the ground to where Rainbow Dash was headed and she had all these big ice chunks that were in the air to help slow her down!

… Okay, that second part wasn’t so great.

‘KABOOOOOOOM!’

And the ‘boom’ from the Sonic Rainboom and ensuing blast wave were maybe a few extra ‘bonus challenges’ to keeping alive Rainbow Dash maybe could have done without.

With a startled yelp and a hard flap of her wings which let their protest be known with sharp, shooting pain, Rainbow Dash banked away from a living room-sized chunk of ice that she also kicked off from, flinging herself off in a different direction. She had just enough time to right her body, scream, and flap her wings and kick again as she almost slammed hard and fast into yet another chunk of ice. Thankfully, Rainbow Dash’s quick reflexes made sure her face was only slightly completely clobbered on the left side of her face.

Woozily, Rainbow Dash took note of, surprise, a giant chunk of ice she was now careening towards. Positioning her legs in between her body and the ice block, Rainbow touched the ice hooves first, gently slammed into the side of it, then pushed off with her pained legs which also let Rainbow Dash know that maybe that wasn’t the best idea with all of the intense pain they were now in.

With another twist of her body, Rainbow Dash noted with some satisfaction that she was coming in for a landing roughly around where the Crystalling, or perhaps Re-Crystalling was taking place. Of course, at the speed and angle that Rainbow Dash was approaching, it was the sort of ‘landing’ that left a very colorful and messy crater.

‘It’s fine!’ Rainbow Dash thought as she flapped her wings to raise herself further and screamed out in pure agony. ‘You’ve got this!’ she added mentally as she once again positioned her legs that once again visited wave after wave of pure torturous anguish onto her.

Rainbow Dash touched ground hard, but at least mostly traveling the same direction as the ground instead of the perpendicular to it. Sure her entire body felt like it had been partially steam-boiled and slammed against a few rocks while she flapped with everything she got, but soon she would come to a nice, slow stop… Except… Oh yeah! The entire FREAKIN’ EMPIRE IS COVERED IN A SHEET OF ICE!

As Rainbow Dash slid forward at what was still a ridiculous speed, she took note of what she was heading directly towards. Oh! What luck! That smashed house with its broken and jagged crystal walls and icicle spears will stop me from careening out of control! Rainbow Dash noted to herself somewhat grimly.

Much to her surprise, something pony-sized and white suddenly galloped directly in front of the smashed house with all of its unappetizing death it seemed to be full of. Rarity slid to a halt, directly in Rainbow Dash’s path. Of course, Rainbow Dash was still traveling more than fast enough that both her and Rarity would end up crashing into the house made out of pain and sharpness. Still, Rarity was a smart pony! She had to have a plan!

As Rainbow Dash focused her amazingly awesome eyes forward and took note of Rarity’s frantic and panicky expression, it became clear to Rainbow Dash that Rarity had no plan.

Rainbow Dash screamed for Rarity to get out of the way, but at the speed Rainbow Dash was traveling and all the difficulty she had even working speech with her bruised and spent body, what came out was a garbled mess of wind-attacked speech.

Rarity glanced behind her, and for a moment, Rainbow Dash thought her friend would do the smart thing and get herself to safety. Much to Rainbow Dash’s surprise, a mattress, a couch, and several pillows and blankets were suddenly ripped from the crystal rubble in an azure blue glow. The mattress was placed behind Rarity, followed by the couch, as pillows and blankets where place here and there to further cushion what was now an inevitable blow.

In the split second before Rainbow Dash’s world turned white from smashing headfirst into Rarity’s coat, then black from her face being buried within her friend’s stomach, then surprisingly shiny and blue as Rarity suddenly turned see-through, then black again as she and Rarity flew into a mattress and a number of cushions that helped soften the blow from ‘complete and guaranteed annihilation’ to ‘fast, but yielding smash of incredible pain that smells oddly of freshly washed linen’, Rainbow Dash was sure Rarity’s expression shifted from a frantic, panicky expression to a hard face of determination that seemed to scream ‘Bring it on!’

-ooo-

As Twilight Sparkle broke her gaze from the recently repaired Crystal Heart, she also looked upwards and something became rather apparent to her. That ‘something’ was that the ‘Best Plan in the History of Plans’, was far from perfect. She mentally prepared a numbered list to highlight just a few of its flaws.

1. As high as the magically created glacier was at the start of this exercise, time and gravity had brought it much closer even as Rainbow Dash exploded it from the inside with a Sonic Rainboom.

2. Because of its proximity to the ground, this also gave Rainbow Dash no safe options for landing. Pulling up right after the blast meant Rainbow Dash had to attempt to dodge many of the ice chunks still in the air, but pulling up close to the ground meant dealing with houses and possibly the castle. Twilight wasn’t sure which option Rainbow Dash had attempted, but did note her friend came in for a rather lethal appearing crash landing which was hopefully mitigated by Rarity’s quick thinking which, again, hopefully, meant two of her best friends were merely injured instead of dead inside that smashed pile of furniture and destroyed crystal wall which had only gotten to enjoy less than a second of being whole again.

3. With the iceberg being so close to the ground upon its destruction, there were, now, many dangerously large chunks of ice that were still going to land alarmingly close or right on top of the group of ponies. Furthermore, much of the ice had likely just been blown upwards so that all ponies present were in for a rather extended bout of giant, crushing ice falling down on them. That was, of course, unless somepony did something.

As the castle above shook with the impact of very large, rather solid objects crashing into it, Twilight Sparkle decided she would be doing something. With a magenta glow of her horn and a flash, Twilight disappeared then reappeared below the stage, her eyes pointed squarely upwards.

At first, it seemed like Twilight’s quick teleport might have been unnecessary as a plum-colored barrier suddenly sprung forth from the stage above, her brother no doubt taking advantage of his newly restored energy to attempt to shield everypony from the onslaught of falling ice chunks. However, as quickly as the shield spread up and out over the crowd it was just as quickly battered with a barrage of ice chunks of all sizes that smashed into the shield, leaving behind spider-web cracks that spread until the entire barrier was covered. Shortly thereafter, the barrier faded away to nothing.

Twilight heard the heavy thump of a pony collapsing above, heard her sister-in-law shriek out Twilight’s brother’s name, and heard her niece wail out in alarm. Yet, she felt her attention drawn across the sea of ponies in front of her and the danger closing in from above.

As the many large and jagged chunks of tumbling ice fell, Twilight took aim at the closest one to the crowd and fired off a blast from her horn. As the ice crumbled into smaller pieces, Twilight moved her head and picked out another block, then another. She let massive chunks of ice crash next to her and into the stage wall behind her as she focused on those blocks that might injure or kill ponies in the crowd. Twilight let out a yell of fierce determination as she fired blast after blast, even as she felt her recently renewed energy deplete almost immediately.

Thankfully, a wave of shimmering, baby blue magic cascaded from the stage above and Twilight could feel her aches and fatigue abate as Cadance’s radiant energy seemed to permeate through her very being and even flow out into the crowd.

However, the ice chunks were still coming down fast and in quantities beyond what one pony could handle and Twilight quickly found herself firing off at distant block after block as her newly crystalline body was pelted with pebble then stone sized chunks of ice. As a pony sized chunk of ice fell down directly towards her, Twilight kept her eyes focused squarely out into the crowd, firing off one last blast before the ice above would claim her.

‘SMASH!’

Twilight glanced up in surprise as the ice above her suddenly exploded into much smaller, far less deadly pieces. She watched as one of the smashed chunks of ice that was on the ground suddenly took flight and hit another giant chunk of ice that was due to hit dangerously close and both exploded into a crumbly mist of ice and snow.

Applejack lowered her back legs to the ground and galloped up to another large chunk of ice on the ground. “Keep that magic going, sugarcube!” she exclaimed. “I’ve got you covered!”

Twilight felt her lips open up into a smile as she doggedly looked over the crowd and once again fired blast after blast, paying no attention to the heavy ‘cracks’ above her or the gentle falling ice that fell on top of her.

-ooo-

On the opposite, pony free, side of the castle, ice freely rained down upon empty houses with a few errant chunks falling directly on the castle unopposed by anything but the basic defense that the Crystal Heart provided for the empire. Unfortunately, in regards to those few massive blocks that struck close to home, or rather, directly onto the home of the Empire’s resident rulers, they still impacted hard enough that pieces of the recently restored crystal castle began to break and fall away. One of these pieces just so happened to be the central tower of the castle.

Starlight Glimmer looked past the dual, intersecting arcs of the castle above the crystal heart and sneered upwards at the crystal tower as it began to teeter towards the front of the castle, pretty much where everypony else was gathered at. “Oh, and it’s going that way, because of course it is!” She quickly galloped out and up onto the stage, her horn blazing electric blue as a similar glow enveloped the broken and falling tower.

At that point, if someone had told Starlight her horn had just exploded, she would not have questioned it. Somehow her body felt as if she was physically trying to stop the multi-ton tower. Agonizing pain stabbed into her head and seemed to flood every inch inside of it. Her vision immediately blurred as the world seemed to start spinning. She collapsed to the ground but kept her eyes focused on the tower that was still coming towards everypony far too quickly for any sort of escape.

As the shadow of the tower loomed overhead Starlight saw alabaster legs inside gold regalia step beside her. She soon found herself flanked on the other side with midnight blue legs in silver regalia.

“Sister…” Luna said as she looked upwards.

Celestia smirked. “Yes, Luna… It is time.”

If Starlight had the strength or ability to concentrate enough for speech, she would have asked. ‘Time for what?’ Though, her question was soon answered as both Luna and Celestia closed their eyes and turned their heads towards each other so that their long horns intersected. Starlight’s head suddenly and involuntarily pulled to her left and she felt her, rather tenuous, grip on the tower began to slip. The electric blue aura around it fading as the tower suddenly rushed forward.

Luna opened her eyes which blazed with brilliant white energy and Celestia opened her own eyes which shone with sparkling gold. As the tower raced to the ground and as Starlight struggled to even slow the massive column of crystal, a beam of midnight blue energy flew up in a spiral with golden energy. The twin beams and struck the tower no more than a yard away from the horns that had fired them. The tower was surrounded with bright, white energy and began to lift up and then upright. Soon, the tower was back in the position it had once held.

Starlight felt the pain and pressure on her head abate, but only for a moment. Soon, she felt the weight of the tower shift in her magic. Though it had been put back in place, it was still quite unattached from the rest of the castle.

Starlight’s head began to tremble, in fact, her entire body began to quake. “Can’t you-Can’t you fix it?!” she cried up at the two princesses above her.

“We are sorry, Starlight Glimmer…” both princesses answered simultaneously as their horns continued to blaze with magic. “Our magic is currently locked together in one single, unified act. We can do nothing else until our energy is spent.”

As Cadance’s blue energy began to flow around her, Starlight felt some of her energy return, and with it, her frustration and rage. “Because of course that’s how it works!” Starlight roared angrily as she got up to her hooves.

Sunburst suddenly bolted past Starlight and past the two princesses with a scroll held in in golden glow. He galloped up the flight of stairs to the stage and then to the edge, right up to Cadance, who was absolutely flooding the area with her own magic, Shining Armor, who was picking himself off the ground, and Pinkie Pie, who was once again cradling and attempting to calm the baby as it let out terrified wails.

“Prince Shining Armor!” Sunburst shouted as he skidded to a halt in held aloft the scroll. “You need to fix the castle! Hurry!”

Shining Armor rapidly raised to his hooves and looked at Sunburst, then up at the castle with its tower engulfed in magic but sitting atop cracks as more and more crystal crumbled away. Heart in his chest, he turned to look at his daughter and then his wife.

“GO!” Cadance shouted.

“But—”

Cadance quickly interrupted, “If that tower falls, it’s going to kill a lot of ponies no matter where it lands and if it destroys the heart, all of this will have been a waste.”

Shining Armor took one more look at his newborn baby in Pinkie’s hands and then his wife again, But—”

Cadance cut Shining Armor off with a quick, passionate kiss on the lips as she swiftly, but gently raised a forehoof up to caress one of his cheeks before she broke the kiss and locked her lavender eyes with his azure ones. “We’ll be fine! Our Empire needs you! Now go!”

Shining Armor closed his eyes, took a deep breath, then bolted directly for the Crystal Heart, Sunburst following close behind as the two stallions galloped down the stairs.

Shining Armor looked up at the ceiling above him as little pieces of crystal began to fall from cracks that were forming at rather an alarming rate. “Sunburst! I need that scr—”

Before Shining Armor could finish that thought, a scroll held in a shimmering golden glow suddenly flew in front of his face.

“Here!” Sunburst exclaimed.

Shining Armor scanned his eyes over the scroll and then his horn lit up with a plum glow that swirled and surrounded the entire castle starting from the bottom and heading up to the very top of the tower. His horn began to hum and vibrate, then squeal and shake as Shining Armor’s entire body quaked.

The cracks above slowed their spreading but did not cease and the entire castle continued to shake as if it might fall apart at a moment’s notice.

“It’s…” Shining Armor grit his teeth. “It’s too much… There’s just too much damage… I… I can’t fix it all at once!”

Sunburst eyes opened widely as he looked at Shining Armor, for a moment he glanced back at Starlight who was once again struggling with every ounce of magical energy to keep everything from falling apart. He felt a deep pit open in his own stomach as he considered his own helplessness. Slowly, his eyes drifted towards the two princesses, locked in a magical union as they combined efforts to keep the tower from crushing everypony. In fact, Sunburst thought, it seems the princesses are using Starswirl the Bearded’s Magic User Unification Spell to both borrow and bolster each other’s energy so— Sunburst let out a heavy sigh as he the answer to what needed to be done suddenly hit.

“Prince Shining Armor!” Sunburst said as he positioned himself directly in front of the Shining Armor and crossed Shining Armor’s horn with his own.

“Sunburst?! Wha—?”

Sunburst took a moment to adjust his glasses. “I do hope you’ll forgive the intrusion.”

“What are you tal—?” Shining Armor’s eyes suddenly exploded into silver light and, for a moment, he could see, feel, and understand every support, every collapsed wall, and every small, unwanted crack within and about the Crystal Castle and exactly how to fix each and every one.

Sunburst’s eyes blazed a fiery gold, and for a brief time, he felt power. Power the likes of which he had never known and a deep pool of magical energy to set right what had been broken.

Golden energy sprung forth from Sunburst’s horn and swirled around with Shining Armor’s plum energy and soon the entire castle was surrounded in shining white light as cracks began to mend, holes in walls began to close, and broken pillars suddenly righted, straightened and grew both up and down, knitting together to form one solid mass again.

Wearily, Cadance smiled as her energy continued to come off her and waves and she looked down the stage at her husband and her, or perhaps her daughter’s, new Crystaller.

A constant whistle that was increasing in volume caused her ears to perk up and Cadance’s face to point upwards with them.

As the massive chunk of ice fell directly towards her, Cadance wondered if her statement about her and her daughter ‘going to be fine’ was perhaps made in error.

“Ouch!” Cadance felt a quick pinch at one of her wings and then a sound she had grown to dread. The sound of her child sniffling and preparing to let out a sneeze. As Cadance hit the deck, for which of two potential life-ending threats, she wasn’t sure, Pinkie Pie stood tall on her hind legs above Cadance, baby held up in one forehoof, pink feather in the other.

The baby let out another sneeze and Pinkie Pie smiled widely and wild. “GAT-GAT, MOTHER BUCKER!” Pinkie shouted shrilly as a massive bolt of energy flew up from the baby’s horn and destroyed the ice.

As harmless snowflakes began to fall around her, Cadance let out a sigh of relief followed by a quick, “Thank you, Pinkie.”

Pinkie turned back and smiled down at Cadance, simply replying with. “See! I told everypony that watching the baby would help!”

Cadance just smiled and got back onto her hooves. She closed her eyes and reached out with her magic and feelings. Fear and panic had almost completely taken hold of the ponies in the land, that block of ice that nearly stuck her almost sending them over the edge. Not to mentioned their barely held together moods having to do without her magic. No… This will not do… Cadance reached out with her own emotions over the empire and tried to change fear into something else, tried to keep her people calm in spite of all that was going on.

But as fear slowly drifted away from everypony, Cadance felt something else bubble to the surface of the crowd.

Anger.

Raging, seething anger.

Cadance’s eyes shot open wide as a number of feelings and thoughts hit her all at once, flowing in and out of her as they spread through everypony present. Everypony in the entire capital.

What… What am I just doing standing here doing nothing?!

I… I can’t just sit here while my family is in danger. I have to do something… Anything!

Did… Did that ice ball just fall from the sky and try to kill our princess?! Did the sky just try to kill Princess Cadance?! BUCK THE SKY! I’M GOING TO KILL THE SKY!

All at once, magic beams of all colors and sizes fired up at the remaining chunks of ice, smaller chunks breaking as magic slammed into them, and larger chunks being sheared away as sheets and pieces ice were destroyed. These beams were soon followed by mad pegasi who took flight and angrily began to assault the blocks themselves, swatting and kicking up at the falling blocks as they continued their broken descent downwards. Finally, chunks of ice and broken crystal began, not to fall down, but to fly upwards as a legion of irate earth ponies picked up or bucked up whatever they could into the air at any ice big and solid enough to cause a problem.

Within moments, a great deal of the Crystal Empire was covered in snow once again.

Her breathing shallow and her teeth pressing hard against each other, Cadance closed off the emotional link and breathed in and out, trying to return her emotions back to something resembling ‘calm’ or maybe she’d settle for ‘exhaustion’… Yes… that felt much more likely.

“You did it, Cadance!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed.

Cadance looked up at Pinkie.

“You united everypony here in the Empire together! I mean… it was through anger and not, like, friendship… But still! You united everypony! So, like… that’s got to be at least a B, B+ job well do—”

Cadance’s lavender eyes suddenly opened wide as they locked onto something above Pinkie, rapidly approaching from the sky. “Ice! Ice! Ice! ICE!

Pinkie looked up and let out a couple startled yelps of alarm as a bowling ball sized chunk of ice fell straight towards her. She raised both the baby and the feather above her and attempted to tickle the baby’s nose. “Reload! Reload! Come on, baby! Reload!

Unfortunately for Pinkie and Cadance, the baby simply cooed out mirthfully as it swatted at the feather that was being waved in front of its face.

As the ice closed in, Pinkie quickly leaned down and handed Cadance the baby, throwing her forelegs open wide as she silently hoped that, whatever she was made of, it was elastic enough to survive a being smashed in the face with a heavy ball of ice traveling at terminal velocity.

‘Pchooo!’

With a sound that was almost more gentle sneeze then blast of magic, a lance of azure energy flew out and hit the ice ball, shattering it into much less deadly, albeit somewhat painful chunks that hit and bounced off Pinkie’s face.

Pinkie got back down onto her hooves and looked towards the origin of the blast. Her sky blue eyes lighting up as she inhaled as much air as her lungs could possibly hold. “Rarity! Rainbow Dash!” she shrilled as she dizzily attempted to gallop down the stage, instead, slipping and bouncing down most the way. As Pinkie rolled to a stop at the bottom of the stairs, she once again got to her hooves and broke into a gallop. Continuing on a path, mostly towards, though sometimes askew, of her friends. Pinkie frequently stopping and repeatedly adjusting her course as necessary.

Cadance watched as Pinkie ran off in something of a zig-zag, smiling to herself as she slowly pulled her baby close to herself and nuzzled it. The baby burbled gleefully in response. Cadance slowly and painfully rotated herself on her belly using her legs and wings. As she shifted, she noticed Celestia, Luna, and Starlight Glimmer all belly down on the stage, seemingly a similar state. “Erm… Everypony… uh…” Cadance paused as she thought of the best way to phrase the question on her mind, “… going to live?” she asked.

Princess Cadance and Luna let out pained groans in response.

“I… I think so…” Starlight murmured. “Uh… Princess Cadance?”

Cadance smiled. “Just ‘Cadance’ is fine.”

“Okay, Cadance… Is my horn still attached to my head, or did that get smashed into a million pieces with, like… a huge ice block or chunk of crystal that hit me in the face?”

“Your horn looks fine,” Cadance answered.

“… Oh, Good… I think,” Starlight replied.

“How’s mine?” Cadance asked.

“Uh… Looks pretty intact…”

“Oh… Okay! Um…” Cadance let out a pained grunt as she tried to rise to her hooves. “I… um… I can’t seem to be able to get up under my own power…”

“Yep!” Starlight simply replied. “A lot of that going around!”

“Shining Armor! Sunburst!” Cadance called out. “You two alive down there?”

Down by the crystal heart, two masculine groans drifted up the stairs and back up to the ponies present.

“A lot of that going around, too!” Starlight added.

Cadance felt searing pain shot through her head, and as she looked up she noticed her baby giggling and tugging on her horn. “You’re quite the headache, little one.”

The baby looked down and burbled with a smile.

Cadance took the baby into a warm, loving embrace as the baby cooed mirthfully. “But you’re my headache!”

>-ooo-<

Rarity and Rainbow Dash slowly limped down a crystal road, each with a foreleg draped over the other’s shoulders, one of Rainbow’s crystal wings dragging limply on the ground. With twin sighs of resignation, both braced themselves as Pinkie Pie clumsily flung herself at them, inadvertently taking all three mares to the ground as Pinkie did her best to hug them both with all the limbs at her disposal.

“Rarity! You saved us!” Pinkie cried as she enthusiastically nuzzled her nearly completely translucent crystal friend.

Rarity couldn’t help but smile even as Pinkie roughly rubbed herself against her face. “Well, I suddenly felt very angry at the sky and the ice in it, darling.” Rarity smiled and held out a crystal hoof in front of her. “At least I looked fabulous while attacking it…”

Pinkie Pie suddenly shifted her nuzzling to Rainbow Dash. “Dashie! You exploded the ice and saved us all!”

“Hah! No problem, Pink—”

“Except for the many, many, many, smaller chunks of ice that still fell and almost killed everypony!” Pinkie added cheerfully.

Rainbow Dash frowned grumpily at her bubbly friend. “Hey! I did the best I could! Twilight said to fly into an ice-hole, surprisingly hot and muggy, by the way, and blow up that monster iceberg! She didn’t tell me to somehow explode it with so much force it that it’d somehow disintegrate!”

Pinkie Pie paused for a moment as she looked at Rainbow Dash. Releasing her grip on both Rarity and Rainbow Dash, she slowly backed away before erupting into hysterical laughter that had her rolling on the ground. “AHAHAHAHAHA!”

“Pinkie!” Rainbow Dash cried in annoyance.

“ICE-HOLE! PFFFTAHAHAHAHAHA!”

“Pinkie Pie! It’s not fun—”

“HOT AND MUGGY! BWAHAHAHAHHAHA!”

“HEY! I…oh…” Rainbow Dash’s lips suddenly curled up into a smile. “HeheheAHAHAHAHA!” She soon joined Pinkie on the ground. “AHAHAHA! THAT IS FUNNY! AHAHAHAHA!”

Rarity simply looked down at the laughing pair and shook her head with a smile.

“Are you two alright?!” Twilight called out.

Rarity looked up as Twilight approached with Applejack, both shimmering in the bright, cloudless day. Applejack slightly less so on account of all of the caked on blood.

“We’re fine, for the most part!” Rarity called back. “A dislocated wing. Some sore muscles.” She looked back down at her crystal self. “Though, this crystal look always is a treat for the eyes.”

As Twilight and Applejack got up to the group Applejack took a good look around. “Uh… Anyone know where Fluttershy went?”

Twilight’s eyes widened. “Spike… Sunset…” she murmured as she pointed her eyes skyward. This was quickly mirrored by the ponies around her.

Celestia’s desperate plea suddenly echoed out across the Empire. “Has anypony seen my daughter?!”

“SUNSET!” Spike yelled has he leaned forward, placed his claws on Sunset Shimmer’s shoulders and did his best to shake her awake as she and Spike fell. The two spun and spiraled, doing aerial somersaults as they fell closer and closer to the ground. Sunset simply flopped about like an alicorn ragdoll, a sign Spike recognized as a pony who had completely drained themselves of any sort of magic or even physical energy to speak of.

Spike’s, or rather, Sunset’s seatbelt held tightly to Spike, at least keeping the pair together, but as Spike caught glimpses of the ground in between all the spinning and Sunset’s wings and legs flailing about, he noted that ‘accepting one's death for the greater good’ and staring that death in the face where two very different things and that the former does little to prepare one for the later.

Suddenly, something white and bright began to rapidly approach. Spike did his best to focus his vision on it, noting that some sort of wave of magical energy was racing up past the ice below towards him and Sunset.

Ah! They restored the crystal heart! Spike thought. Hey! Maybe the energy will wake up Sunset and she can fly start flying again!

Spike smiled at the self-assured thought of safety and grinned all the wider as the energy washed over him, turning his purple and green body slightly translucent as it did the same to the orange alicorn he was strapped to.

“Phew!” Spike said as he felt renewed energy course through him. “Well, that was close, huh Sunset?”

No response.

Spike looked ‘down’ at the alicorn she was riding. Sunset was now somehow wearing a fair amount of semi-translucent gold jewelry and her hair was now tied into a smart-looking bun, but she hadn’t stirred. She was still spinning and spiraling out of control with her limbs going every which direction.

“Uh… Any time now, Sunset!” Spike said.

He shook her once more, and again, received no response in return.

A sudden thought occurred to Spike that maybe Sunset wasn’t just unconscious and he momentarily forgot about the ground as he shook Sunset with everything he had. “SUNSET SHIMMER!” he cried as tears sprang to his eyes. For a moment Spike caught sight of the sparkling empire below and realized he would soon join it, fast and hard, and that there really wasn’t anything he could do at this point. Spike closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

‘Thump!’

Huh… Must have hit the ground so fast I barely even felt it… Erm… Feels like I’m… flying? Welp… Guess I’ve died and gone to heaven…

“Are you alright, Spike?!”

“Gee, angels sure have nice, soft voices…” Spike commented.

“Uh… erm… Wow… Thank you…”

Spike opened his eyes. “Fluttershy?! You’re an angel?!”

Fluttershy stared back at Spike, her butter-colored cheeks turning crimson. “Maybe now’s not the best time for this…”

Spike shook his head and patted his body. “I’m… I’m alive! HAHA!” He leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Fluttershy’s neck as he gave her a quick nuzzle. “You saved us!”

“Sure!” Fluttershy said with a smile. “I mean… Helping ponies up when they fall is about all I can do right now…”

Spike suddenly thrust his claws into Fluttershy’s crystal mane and pulled her face up close to his. “Sunset!”

“Umm… erm… Yes…” Fluttershy replied as her teal eyes stared into Spike’s emerald ones. “I have her, too… You’re on top of her… and… erm… You’re together pretty heavy? So…”

“We need to land, now!” Spike cried.

“Erm… Yes… I was just about—”

“Sunset stopped moving almost as soon as we made it out of that iceberg!”

“… Oh…” Fluttershy said simply, her face turning a lighter shade of yellow as she tilted her head past Spike to look down. Her eyes easily caught sight of the Crystal Castle, and Fluttershy began a quick, descent towards Cadance and the other ponies that had gathered up on the stage.

“Something’s wrong!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed. “Sunset isn’t moving!”

Tears seemed to shoot out of Celestia’s eyes, but somehow she was holding herself upright admits the other exhausted and almost completely drained saviors of the Crystal Empire. “Cadance! Sunset is going to need—”

“Already, on it auntie,” Cadance said as she slowly limped over to Celestia, one foreleg wrapped around her baby.

“Here, I’ve got her!” Twilight said. She grunted in pain as her horn glowed briefly, sparked, and went dim, then glowed with a dull magenta as she lifted the baby in a telekinetic aura. The baby simply giggled and cooed in delight as Twilight took her into a foreleg.

“Also,” Rainbow Dash began to add as her eyes opened wide, “Fluttershy doesn’t seem to be slowing down, like, at all!”

“Falling! Falling! Falling!” Fluttershy frantically repeated over and over as she rocketed down towards the group, her forelegs firmly wrapped around Spike and Sunset. Half a dozen hastily conjured, barely functional, magical nets of different colors went up and almost immediately fell apart as Fluttershy, Spike, and Sunset fell into and through them, each net slowing them down only a little. Thankfully, what they hit was not the ground but a battered and misshapen mattress suddenly put into place by Rarity and held there by Applejack and Pinkie Pie.

With one rough bounce, the three came to a stop on the mattress which was quickly swarmed by ponies. Spike unbuckled his seatbelt and scrambled towards Twilight and Rarity, throwing both his arms around their necks as the two began nuzzling him like they had never nuzzled him before. Dizzy, Fluttershy soon found herself pulled off the mattress and into Pinkie Pie’s embrace.

“HAH!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed as she reached over and ruffled Fluttershy’s crystal mane. “Maybe you should join the Wonderbolts! You know… once we work on those landings!”

“Erm… No, thank you…” Fluttershy replied. “I, um, really like the ground better…”

Applejack let out a snort of laughter.

And then, there was Sunset, unmoving and unresponsive as she laid in mother’s arms, her aunt and cousin standing over her. Cadance poured forth waves of magical energy, yet Sunset remained motionless.

“Come on, Sunset!” Celestia cried as she sat on her haunches and rocked the fallen alicorn in her arms. “Come back to me!”

Everypony present stopped what they were doing and turned to stare at Sunset. Only Cadance continued to work her magic as Luna stared down at Sunset and looked at her sister with grim seriousness.

“Say something! Anything! Scream at me!” Celestia pleaded. She buried her tear-streaked face in Sunset’s chest. “Just… Just don’t leave me!” With that, Celestia broke into sobs, her face still pressed into Sunset.

“… Auntie…?” Cadance said quietly as she leaned forward and gently rested a foreleg on Celestia’s shoulders.

“No… NO!” Celestia cried out in response as she shook her head back and forth.

Tears began to well up in the eyes of everypony and the one dragon present.

Luna leaned down to fire a glare at Cadance. “Leave her be, child. She’ll need tim—”

“Sunset is fine,” Cadance said, her gaze shifting towards Luna. “She’s completely, 100% fine.”

The sobbing paused and everypony’s gaze suddenly shifted towards Cadance.

Cadance continued to meet Luna’s gaze. “Can’t you feel it?”

Luna blinked a few times then closed her eyes, her horn glowing a dull midnight blue briefly. “Oh…” she uttered as her eyes opened back up. “So she is.”

Slowly Celestia, raised her head back up and lowered Sunset Shimmer onto the nearly destroyed mattress below and slowly, Sunset’s eyes began to flutter open and her turquoise eyes met the lilac eyes of her mother.

“SUNSET!” Celestia squealed in delight.

Like slowly poured molasses, the sides of Sunset’s lips curled up into a smile. “… Mommy…” she hushed out in a breathy voice. “Am I… Am I a good girl…?”

“Yes, my little shimmering sunshine,” Celestia said as took her daughter into a warm embrace, “You are such a very, very good girl.”

As she began reaching out to ponies with more limbs than what one would think a pony has at her disposal, Pinkie Pie let out an excited, “Best Crystalling ever!” and the silence that seemed to loom over everything suddenly fled as a metropolis worth of ponies all broke out in jubilation.

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