• Published 20th Jun 2012
  • 3,317 Views, 55 Comments

Troubled New Home: What's Old Is New Again - SolvableSphinx

A burned out Twilight Sparkle gets sent back to a different universe's Episode 1.

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Chapter 2

Twilight stared listlessly over the side of the carriage, watching as the landscape of Equestria zipped under her. At one point she may of dismissed it out of petulant disinterest, while at another she would marvel at the now magically untouched landscape.

Now though, that same sense of monotony, of sameness, as all the other times she viewed the landscape kept her from getting her spirits up.

“Come on, cheer up Twilight,” Spike said encouragingly beside her. “I’m sure that Ponyville will have lots of new ponies to meet.”

“Yeah, sure,” Twilight said in a droll tone of voice.

“Oh, being away from the library isn’t that bad, is it?” Spike asked.

“Why? I’m just going to end up in another one. My whole life’s a library. Whoop-dee-doo,” Twilight said with a noticible lack of cheer.

“What’s wrong, Twilight. Seriously. One moment you’re on a sugar high, another moment you’re down in the dumps. Is it… pony puberity?” Spike asked, with a sudden sense of dread. “Oh gods it’s pony puberty isn’t it?!”

“Spike, it’s not puberty. I’m… I'm... well I’m just too old for that sort of thing!” Twilight said, with a hint of tolerant frustration. She sighed, looking over at the baby dragon. “Listen, I’m sure we’ll be fine. We’ll probably meet all sorts of ponies, like you say.”

“So, who do you think you’ll meet?” Spike asked, expectantly.

“Oh, the usual sorts of ponies I guess,” Twilight replied. “Buisnessmare, farm pony, a quiet pony with a thing for nature… maybe a potentially creepy party pony and a service pony that’s too gung ho for his or her own good.”

“Wow, sounds like… ponies you know,” Spike said.

“You’re catching on,” Twilight said with a smile.

“And you’re acting creepy,” Spike replied. “But I guess creepy and happy is better than mopey and quiet.”

“That’s the spirit,” Twilight replied, as the carriage made it’s landing. Twilight stepped off the carriage with Spike, before turning back to the carriage. “Oh yeah, thanks guy. Ride was perfect.”

The two pegasus stallions gave satisfied knickers and smiles, before taking off and beginning their flight back to Canterlot.

“So, who do we see first…” Twilight asked herself.

“Security seems important,” Spike replied without prompting. “Maybe we should see those guys first and get directions around town?”

“Good idea Spike. I’m sure that…” Twilight trailed off, looking in front of her.

Spike followed where she was looking, noticing the empty space. There were ponies in the background, sure. But none in front of them.

Or anything else for that matter, besides mostly empty road.

“What’s wrong?” Spike asked.

“I think something was supposed to be here,” Twilight said. “Something or somepony.”

“Creepy and happy?” Spike asked, his inflection suggesting that he would rather have that right now.

“Creepy and happy!” Twilight replied. “So, who are the ponies in grey uniforms?”

“Probably the town guard. Maybe we should ask them who’s in charge,” Spike suggested.

“Good idea again, Spike. Excuse me, sir! Or… madam… as the case may be. I was wondering if you could answer a teeny-tiny question for me…”

~ ~ ~

The purple unicorn and her baby dragon assistant and little brother analogue stepped off the chariot. For a moment, she seemed… expectant. Almost suspicious. But soon enough she went on her away.

All the while, a straight haired mare that was pink save for the antiquated pastel clothes she wore made a note on her notepad.

Unknown pony from out of town. Unicorn. Party? Y/N

She thought for a moment, before circling the N. She then began to write again.

No party for her. Ask for direction. Prepare for prank.

And after letting down her pen, the pink mare giggled.

“Oh, we’ll simply have a marvelously good time!”
~ ~ ~
Twilight searched Ponyville with Spike, having a few false starts to finding the right pony, but eventually they made their way to the main camp. Along the way she was introduced to the horror of “C-rats”, which for some reason Spike seemed to love. The militia ponies seemed amused in a way that would spell misfortune for the dragon, but even with gentle prodding the dragon was still eating from the cans with a metal spoon as they followed their current guide.

“Oh, Lieutenant Belle is right over here, ma’am,” the rather helpful mail mare said. Twilight knew Derpy Hooves through her rather eclectic tastes in reading and frequent deliveries, though she’s never seen the mare quite like this.

Like the rest of the “Ponyville Guard”, Derpy Hooves was wearing a cadet grey military uniform. The cuffs and epaulets were lined with red velvet, with gold piping, buttons and insignias. She also wore a black beret with a small badge that looked like a sword with wings on the flat part, as well as a black eye patch over her well known lazy eye. She had three chevrons and three rockers in red on each of her sleeves, and centered within them was an embroidered red star.

“And what exactly is… Lieutenant Belle… doing right now?” Twilight asked.

“Most likely smoking Chief Heartstring,” Derpy replied with a deviant smile.

“Smoking?” Twilight asked suspiciously.

“Yes. You know, chewing out. Verbally chastising. Disemboweling them and stringing them up by their intestines while still alive… metaphorically, of course,” Derpy said all too assuredly.

“Of… course?” Twilight replied.

“Oh, don’t worried. I used to get yelled at all the time before loosing my bad eye in the war. And I yell at Lyra all the time while we’re in civilian life. And here we are now. Ooh, they’re just getting to the good part too.” Derpy said, all too pleased with herself.

Like the grey pony in the grey uniform said, they arrived at a tent.

“There’s one final matter I would like to discuss Miss Heartstring, before we get to the subject of warjacks,” a voice that was clearly Rarity said.

“Well I’m all ears, Ell-Tee. …metaphorically speaking. It’s not like that time with the ear monster I…” the pony who Twilight recognized as Lyra, another eccentric, said back. Twilight supposed that she could barge in, but she was curious and didn’t want to be rude.

“Of course,” Rarity politely interrupted. “Now, Sergeant Major Hooves has pointed out this form, which apparently you filled out.”

“… Well, looks like my hoof-writing. What about it, ma’am?” Lyra asked.

“You told the supply sergeant that the fourty millimeter anti-air dummy round was to be used for a training demonstration,” Rarity began. Twilight knew that tone of voice. It was all too nice and saccharine to hold anything good. Now she was glad that she was staying out of the tent.

“Well yes, I do remember that,” Lyra replied.

“And, since you’re my favorite discipline problem, you wrote down that the reason for checking it out was… ahem… as a romantic aid. Am I wrong?” Rarity asked.

There was an awkward pause. Twilight thought about it, and the thought was enough to elicit both a rather deep blush and mild revulsion. “Well golly gee ell-tee, it does look like that was written in the right box for that sort of thing, in my hoof writing.”

“Miss Heartstrings, how exactly were you going to use the fourty millimeter anti-air dummy round for both a training demonstration and a romantic aid at the same time?” Rarity asked.

“… well, ell-tee, the two aren’t mutually exclusive…” Lyra replied, although what that defense implied simply made Twilight blush harder.

“Miss Heartstrings, remember how you said that my warjacks would look very handsome with a coat of polish?” Rarity asked, in that same fake-sweet tone that she has been using. It then went flat, clearly giving an order to someone she was less than pleased with. “I expect you to personally apply that polish before the festival start. Am I clear, Warrant Officer Heartstrings?”

There was a sigh, before a mint green unicorn walked out of the tent. “Yes Lieutenant Belle,” Lyra said dejectedly.

“You’re career can take it, ma’am,” Derpy said as the unicorn walked pass. “Lieutenant Belle? I have the crown’s rep for the party.”

“Ah, yes,” Rarity said, quickly regaining decorum. “I truly apologize for letting you hear that.”

“Oh… uh… no problem…” Twilight replied. “I’m still trying to figure out the mechanics of that, though.”

“My dear, don’t worry about such things. You will find that there are plenty of things that nopony is meant to know. The ‘wacky hijinks’ of Miss Heartstrings are one of them. Now, what can I do for you?”

Twilight took the time to look over the pony that she recognized at Rarity, but was not her Rarity. She seemed different, more elegant yet much cooler , like an ancient masterwork sword. She had apparently forgone her long, luxurious locks for a much more practical style of a neatly kept bun. Here she wore her glasses, which she normally went without due to vanity, although they were black instead of orange.

Her clothes were of a much more militant nature then Twilight ever thought the fashionista would design, much less wear. It was an immaculate uniform of the same type and cut as the rest of the Ponyville guard. Instead of chevrons, her epaulets were of elaborately braided gold, the mandarin style collar having squares with embroidered leaves in them. A half cape completed the look, although why she was wearing it and nopony else was something Twilight was trying to figure out. Spike dropped his can of food, which Twilight quietly put into the category of ‘Spike being Spike’.

The most striking difference, though, was Rarity’s right foreleg. Twilight was never a mechanic, but she had come to appreciate well crafted machines. This was no different. It had all the appearances of a normal hoof, save for the fact that it was metal. Looking closely, she could see the hydraulics and other mechanisms that made it work. The fact that it was gilded also helped for it to stand out.

“Do you like my leg?” Rarity asked.

“I… what?” Twilight asked back.

“Do you like my leg?” Rarity asked again, before holding up the cloth covered metal leg for Twilight to inspect. “I normally do not like to brag, but this particular design was my own creation. Simple and elegant, it allows an amputee to turn their prosthetic into a fashion accessory. Granted, there’s a loss in sensation involved in the design… but I’m working on it!”

“I… how?” Twilight asked, almost offended at the fact that something was so radically different from the norm. “How the hay could somepony like you end up with something like that?!”

Rarity was stunned at the outburst. “I made it. The fact that I lost my foreleg is common knowledge. It was even in the Canterlot newspaper, much as I hated that when it happened,” Rarity replied, her mystified tone giving way to bitterness.

“Oh. Well… from your reputation…” Twilight said, trying to recover.

Rarity gave a demure laugh. “Oh, you mustn’t truly know my reputation then. The enlisted call me ‘Lieutenant Steelhoof’. The other fashion designers call me all sorts of nasty things behind my back, but it’s because they’re jealous of my success.”

“It’s a long story involving a dragon, romance and fabulous riches. Maybe I should tell you sometime,” Rarity replied, before giving Spike a look. She then went back to Twilight. “But we should go over the security situation first.”

“Oh… of course,” Twilight replied. “How is… the security? I feel weird saying that for some reason, but still.”

“I can understand why. Equestria’s supposed to be a peaceful nation, after all. But Ponyville isn’t Canterlot. The Everfree and the Old Capitol were abandoned for a very good reason, and the Gates of Tartarus are nearby. Not to mention the fact that we’re on the frontier, and most other nations… rather dislike us,” Rarity said.

“Why would they dislike us? We’re peaceful!” Twilight replied.

“Well, it turns that controlling the weather has consiquences that most ponies don’t realize. It’s only travelling abroad that one sees the full effect of what we do. Oh, as we’ve perfect the science of weather control the net effect has gone down, but it’s still a grievance that few are willing to forget.

“The biggest threat to Ponyville is, and always will be, monsters. The large numbers of ponies coming here are sure to attract attention, which is why the Ponyville Guard has worked in conjunction with the Royal Guard and the Gendarmerie in deploying all necessary assets to ensure that the roads, city and the surrounding homesteads will be safe for this event.”

“Well, that’s one thing off the checklist,” Twilight said with a sigh. “Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.”

“No problem at all. Not everypony can appreciate the beauty and grace which can be found in everything. I would hardly expect our Princess’s most faithful student of magic to appreciate warjacks beyond their utility, for example.”

“I’m sorry, but… warjacks?” Twilight asked.

“Oh, yes. Warjacks," Rarity said with a slight flourish, indicating that it was one of her typical canned presentations. "The technomagical marvels of arcane machinery that allow a single pony to fight with the full strength of Equestrian engineering know-how at her command. Some have dismissed those claims, but I will be more than happy to demonstrate to you what they do. In fact, we have a partially disassembled one that you could examine if you so desired.”

Twilight considered herself a mare far too old to squee. But she was being given the chance to look at something new, exotic, and most importantly not directly related to saving Equestria or tied to university funding for the next biennium period. So there was, indeed, much squeeing.

“I really should stop being mean to Heartstrings,” Rarity said to herself as the purple pony practically hopped in excitement to the new mechanical marvel for her to play with.

“So… uhh… dragons and romance…” Spike said awkwardly.

“You’re a bit young for my taste,” Rarity said, effectively dashing Spike’s hopes. “But that’s neither here nor there. Now come along and lets make sure that your mother figure doesn’t accidentally break something.”

“She’s not my Mom,” Spike muttered, before following the beautiful pony along. Even with the rejection, he couldn’t help but to admire what he considered the most beautiful pony he’s ever seen.
~ ~ ~
“No! I told you not to touch that!” Lyra yelled.

“But I’m not touching it,” Twilight said in a sing song voice.

“Using magic to float things around is still touching it!”

The surprisingly juvenile argument continued to go back and forth as Rarity and Spike watched the two. “Is she always like this?” Rarity asked.

“It may be an improvement,” Spike replied. “I don’t know. She’s been bouncing back and forth between happy and sad since this morning. I told the Princess about it, so this should be a bit of a break.”

“Well, I may not mind helping out Ms. Sparkle, but we do need to make sure that my Warjacks are not disassembled by a mad arcanist,” Rarity stated, thinking for a moment. “Hmm… What else do you need to do?”

“Well, we need to make sure that the food’s gonna be delivered on time,” Spike replied. “There’s also need to make sure the wildlife doesn’t hurt anyone. Something about a ranger…”

“Oh, Ranger Fluttershy is simply too busy right now. But I do know who’s in charge of supplying the catering and…” Rarity paused, noticing something that honestly left her at a loss for words.

Pinned to the ground by one of the functional light warjacks, a massive humanoid machine painted in grey and gold, was Lyra. Rather than trying to yell, she simply layed there, looking nonplus. The previously broken light warjack now had it’s head ripped from its neck as Twilight loosened the screws with her magic.

“Let’s see what’s inside of here…” she said, grinning to herself. “Oooh! Is it magic?”

“Very expensive techno-magic,” Lyra replied. “Ell-tee, help?”

“Ms. Sparkle, dear…” Rarity began.

“What’s it called?” Twilight asked.

“A cortex,” Rarity replied. “This is all very basic knowledge. Perhaps we can catch up later when…”

“Aww. Cortex has no wonder to it. Well, better than something pretensious, like ‘cogitor’. Must have been made by a practitioner then,” Twilight said, before her eyes glowed. “Oooh. I like what I see.”

Rarity was quiet for a moment. “And what do you see?”

“I have no idea. Which is great!” Twilight said with excitement. “I’m so sick of being the authority on everything magic. ‘Oh, Professor Twilight, how do we break the prophecy and stop the evil genericness from destroying Equestria?’ Pony the buck up! They should know that by now.”

“Miss Sparkle, do you not have other duties?” Rarity asked.

“Duties later. Science now,” Twilight replied. “Now, lets see…. Perhaps some destruction testing is in… eep!”

Very strong magic lifted Twilight in the air, holding her ten meters above the ground. Rarity, who Twilight knew to be a very specialize magic user in her own universe, was unusually strong now.

“Miss Sparkle, I would be remiss if I allow you to destroy Ponyville government property while you are neglecting your duties to the Princess,” Rarity said with all the calm poise she could muster. She twirled the pony around, pointing her in the general direction of Sweet Apple Acres. “The catering is being provided by Sweet Apple Acres. It would be… wise… if you left the security to those whose duties are such, rather than to an admittedly smart filly who has not served her conscription yet. You shall do your duty to Equestria, the Ponyville Guard will do it’s, and everypony will be very content with the results. Do I make myself clear, Miss Sparkle?”

“Yes! Crystal clear!” Twilight yelled, shocked at what happen. “Now could you please slowly, calmly, and safely lower me to ground level?!”

“Of course, dear,” Rarity replied. She did as Twilight asked, lowering Twilight to the ground. The purple unicorn mare shook blink a few moment, before clearing her throat.

“I’m… sorry about the display. I was a bit too excited,” Twilight began.

“I understand,” Rarity replied. “You’re the pony whose a magical genius unseen since the time of Starswirl the Righteous. But you should have more self control. Now run along. We can speak more after the festival.”

Twilight nodded, knowing well when to leave. “Let’s go Spike,” Twilight said, walking away. The baby dragon dutifully followed her.

“Umm… ell-tee? Still pinned down here,” Lyra said. With only a thought, the light warjack released the mint green unicorn from being pinned to the ground. “Thanks.”

“The least I could do,” Rarity replied, watching the unicorn go. Lyra stood beside her, watching the duo as well. “Chief, did you know that Twilight Sparkle is Celestia’s Most Faithful student. A student of magic, no less.”

“Who studies magic this day and age?” Lyra asked dismissfully. “You either do it, or you don’t. Simple as that.”

“Should be,” Rarity replied. “It’s still taught at universities, though.”

“Yeah, I took it in university. You have to understand the basic theory if you’re going to work on something like warjacks. The professor they have at Canterlot U was a right female dog if you asked me. Pretty sure she’s an expat from her accent,” Lyra stated. “Why?”

“Miss Sparkle claimed to be a professor of magic. Don’t you find that odd?” Rarity asked.

“You know what’s really odd?” Lyra asked. “She took control of that light warjack and pinned me to the ground like it’s nothing. Nothing! I’ve been studying steamjack engineering since conscription and I can barely move around our old laborjack.”

“Yes. Odd that they haven’t tapped her for the Strategic Academy. Such a gift would have manifested much earlier in life, or under conditions far more stressful than this one,” Rarity said. “Oh well. Consider yourself properly chastised and get a PFC or a specialist to find some privates to get the jacks polished. We’ve only got until tonight to get everything into position.”

“Yes ma’am,” Lyra replied. “Hey BonBon! Stop flirting and get some BOTtards to polish these warjacks!”