• Published 20th Jun 2012
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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 6

Luna landed in the old castle, disheartened by the sight. The site of her final battle against Celestia in her decade long insurrection was left for the nature to reclaim. And nature did try, but the magic worked within the stones, the doors, the seals and even the fabric made the process difficult. This castle was designed to withstand the worst of magical sieges, and it’s greatest siege was against the world itself.

There were holes in the roof. In the throne room, located on the upper floor, there were holes in the wall. Fabric, what were once proud weavings recounting Equestria’s epic history and proclaiming the great noble houses that were in court that day, were discolored and left to rot. Luna had half expected the Earth pony peons to have sacked what was once her home, but seeing it simply forgotten was somehow even more disheartening.

Luna dwelled in the throne room for a little while longer, before beginning to her trek to her old chambers. She felt tired and weak. Her armor felt much heavier then it normally would. Their enchantments were worn away by the freakish powers of the ponies that inhabited the village nearest to what Luna considered the True Capitol.

“I probably look like a pauper,” she said, sighing out in frustration and disdain. As she walked into the room, she came face to face with a silver backed mirror.

She screamed.

Looking back at her was herself. Yet much younger, much smaller, looking like a child playing warrior in their parent’s armor. Gone were the eitherial glow of her hair, and instead of a dark black her fur was a much lighter shade of blue.

“NO! YOU CAN’T BE THERE!” Luna yelled at the mirror. The reflection seemed to flinch, but stood her ground.

“I KILLED YOU! YOU CAN’T STILL BE ALIVE! IT’S BEEN A THOUSAND YEARS, YOU CANNOT BE ALIVE! YOU SHOULD BE DEAD!” she ranted. “I KILLED YOU! I RID MYSELF OF MY INSECURITIES! MY DOUBT! MY WEAKNESS! MY DIFFERENCE! YOU SHOULD BE DEAD, YET YOU STILL LIVE! DIE! DIE!”

In a moment of pure anger and frustration she pulled two rocks from the floor, sending them through the mirror and the wall that held it up. Yet she was still affected by the mage fire, and her burnt horn sent a stabbing pain straight through her head. Luna collapsed on the ground, sobbing in pain. It felt like hours she spent there. She did not know how long it truly was except that the sun was shining through.

The sun.

The infernal sun.

The source of all her suffering and doubt.

Luna looked up. A normal pony would be blinded, but she was no normal pony. She was consigned to be the embodiment of the lesser light of the sky, only greater than the stars. Her moon only shown near its fullest potential for but a few days each month, and even then that light was not truly hers. It was the sun’s.

It was Celestia’s. Luna's light and glory would always come from the sun, from what her sister embodied. It would never be her own. She would never have her own glory, or anything truly her own, until she was freed of her wretched sister.

Luna snorted. She was sure that, if she looked closely, she could see the image of Celestia burned into the sun. Screaming in pain. Or perhaps it was pleasure? Her sister was a weak willed and decadent sort, using ‘mercy’ to satisfy her own perverse urges.

No matter. Celestia received her just reward.

Luna sighed again, this time in exhaustion. Her old bed, miraculously, was still mostly preserved. It had been aged, no doubt it would be less soft yet firm then when the castle was inhabited, but it was mostly preserved. Luna had slept on worst while on campaign, and it would be better than sleeping on the ground.

She began to take off her armor. Soon all that were left where her under-garments, a white robe that covered most of her body. She carefully plucked out the steel shards that had embedded itself in her flank, staining the white robe a crimson red. It was almost enough to write a morbid poem.

Luna cackled to herself. Poems were for those who looked at dying. And she was going to live. Oh yes, she would live.

She embodied the lesser light, the light of the night. She could be subversive and sneaky, much more so than Celestia. Stabbing a general in the back while they sleep might be dishonorable, but winning the battle the next day would redeem the assassination and bring much more honor to her name. She could use her passive magic to dream up shades, sow the seeds of deceit and discord among her enemies.

Then she will defeat them while they’re separated and weak and claim victory. Then she will claim her rightful birthright, and her subjects will love her for freeing them from the weak sun tyrant forever.

And on that thought, Luna fell asleep. Even as the much younger pony looked at her from the shatter remnants of the mirror.
(*) (*)
The room was blurry. It was too well lighted. There were strange, blurry shadows which were moving at the edge of her vision.

“Scalpel,” one of them said.

Twilight was in pain. She felt too aware of her body, even if she wasn’t aware of her surroundings. Broken bones. Punctured organs. Leakage.

Shame. She rather liked this yonger body.

“Preparing to make incis…”

“Doctor,” another voice said.

“What is it Nurse Red… ah, I see,” the first voice replied.

Magic would fix her body. Magic would fix everything.

It was the only thing she was actually good at, after all.

The beeping seemed to go faster.

“Shit. She’s waking up,” a new voice said.

Magic would move her bone fragments back into place. Heal. Mend.

Grow.

“Preparing to inject point one ounces of ketamine dilute,” another voice said.

“Not now. She’s having a strong magical reaction to her injuries,” one of the voices said.

Ah, there’s the internal organs I was looking for. Oh, did the mean filly hurt you? Don't worry. Stay inside mama. Mama will make you nice and healthy and big.

Hmm… might as well include the external organs too. It would be unseemly to walk around without your skin covering all of the muscles that it should.

“Doctor! Her whole body,” a voice yelled.

“Stand back,” one voice said.

The beeping raced at a rate that didn't sound healthy. It needed to learn how to relax. Maybe read a book.

“We’re loosing her!”

“She’s glowing!”

“I’m calling in a Code Black. Start evacuating the patients. Nurse Redheart.”

“I’m here sir.”

Magic will make everything better in the end.

Always has. Always will.
(*) (*)
“Ugh… my head…” Twilight muttered, her eyes fluttering open.

She was in a familiar looking hospital room. It was the same one that Rainbow Dash was in after something or another that lead the pegasus to discover her love of reading. Twilight Sparkle wasn’t sure about the details, but the fact that she finally had another mare her age to talk about pulp fiction was the most important part of that particular journey anyway.

“An’ how the hay am I supposed to get th’ body? Ethics ain’t got nothin’ to do with that sort of science. Dead don’t care,” Rainbow Dash asked, wings flared in the sign of agitation common to pegasi. “I mean, I’m gonna get it. Hadn’t had a chance to look at one of them fancy unicorn cadavers after a magical reaction since we were merceneries in South Zebraca. Certainly not one as pretty looking. I ain’t keen on passin’ it up.”

“I’d image the letter would begin with ‘Dear Princess Celestia,’” Rarity said. “I’d be easier if you were an actual licensed coroner in Equestria instead of a lecturer. But I doubt you’ll get her body.”

“An’ why’s that,” Rainbow Dash asked. Rarity point at Twilight, and the pegasus visibly deflated. “Oh. She’s gonna make it. Gosh darn it.”

Twilight looked between the two. The cowmare pegasus and the military unicorn. She then summed up the situation quite perfectly.

“Everypony in this town is crazy, aren’t they?” Twilight asked.

“The Ponyville Sanitarium doesn’t help,” Rarity deadpanned.

“I see,” Twilight replied, before looking at Rainbow Dash. “And you wanted me to die?”

“Wha?” She asked, looking like a deer caught in the headlights. “Oh no. No no no no. Far from it. I just wanted ya’ for your body.”

The silence in the room was deafening.

“Ya’ know… for science,” Rainbow Dash replied. “Well… engineerin’ more like. I figure that if I could figure what makes a magical reaction like that, I could make a rig that’ll…”

“We’re glad you made it,” Rarity said, cutting off Rainbow Dash. “Even if you’re circumstances are now… odd.”

“Odd?” Twilight replied.

Rarity used her unicorn magic to float a mirror in front of Twilight. Looking back was not quite the Twilight she remembered. She wasn’t a regal as she was becoming back home, nor as blandly normal as the average unicorn. She was taller, with a different sort of build. More like one of the fashionable Canterlot nobles… or Princess Cadence.

“What… what exactly…”

“Twilight Sparkle, I want to inform you that you are not our prisoner,” Rarity began.

“But you’re going to ask me questions and hold me against my will if you don’t like my answers,” Twilight replied.

“Oh, I’m not going to hold you against you’re will,” Rarity replied, looking entirely too smug, “Prince Blueblood, on the other hand, will. Especially if it appears that you’re not cooperating.”

“Look, ah know we’re invadin’ you’re privacy an’ all, but with what happened to Canterlot we can’t be too careful,” Rainbow Dash said.

“What happened in Canterlot?” Twilight asked.

“Answer our questions truthfully and we’ll tell you,” Rarity replied.

Twilight looked again between the two. She knew the obvious set up. But right now, she wanted to know more about what was going on. Of course, there was still a way to twist this around for her own amusement, especially considering the personalities involved.

“Okay then,” Twilight said, making a show of acquiescence. “Ask away.”
“Who are you really?” Rarity asked.

“I am Twilight Sparkle. I am the Chair of the Department of Arcane Studies at Luna University. Except it’s not named after this Princess Luna. It’s named after my Princess Luna. I have found myself in this world, replacing my counterpart, who I am concerned about. Assuming this isn’t a dream,” Twilight stated. She wasn’t sarcastic, or dismissive, even though she said all this as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“Are you a crazy person?” Rarity asked.

“That is a very distinctly possible possibility,” Twilight replied.

“Ah don’t think she’s crazy. Or at least, she don’t think that she’s crazy,” Rainbow Dash said.

“Says the mare who wanted her for her body,” Rarity said.

“FOR SCIENCE!” Dash shot back defensively.

“That really doesn’t help your case, Dash,” Rarity replied.

“I’m also reliving this event, except everything is slightly different,” Twilight added helpfully.

“Oh really?” Dash said. “Let me guess, everyone here is less awesome then they are ‘back home’.”

“Not really,” Twilight said with a shrug. “You’re a lazy sloth who wants to get into the Wonderbolts but doesn’t actually put in the practice for the fundamentals. Rarity’s a dainty,shopaholic fashionista.. Applejack’s a prideful apple farmer who won’t modernize her production methods. Fluttershy’s is simply an antisocial, manic depressive animal caretaker. Pinkie Pie may be on drugs, or may actually be something else in a pony suit, we’ve never actually figured it out. But we’re all taller and over forty, and not dying anytime soon due to prolonged exposure to the Elements of Harmony, a set of magical artifacts which...”

“So you’re not crazy. You’re simply living in a planetary romance novel,” Rarity said drolly. “Good to know.”

“Well, I certainly was never a mercenary,” Twilight replied.

“It was honest adventuring. Right Dash,” Rarity asked her companion.

“Yeah, it was. There was that one time, when we fought with the fascist Gryphons for the lost Ark of the Testimony. And then fought the giant fireants that breathed fire. … after the ghosts melted the gryphon’s faces…”

“So you two live in a two hoofed pulp fiction novel. Good to know,” Twilight said.

Rarity got a look on her face. “You did not just throw that back at me.”

“I believe I just did,” Twilight said, grin on her face. “And I have been completely truthful. So, since I’ve cooperated, what the hay happened to Canterlot?”

The two ponies looked at each other. Rarity looked at Twilight. “You’re Princess Luna had razed half of it to the ground, after having to fight through most of the Class A Canterlot Guard, the Royal Guard, the Pretorian Carbiners and the faculty of the Canterlot Strategic Academy and the Princess.”

“Is Shining Armor alright? Are my parents alright?” Twilight asked urgently.

Rarity grimaced. Rainbow Dash caught the reaction. “What’s wrong? Seems like she’s wantin’ to know what happened to kin.”

“That’s just it,” Rarity said. “The commanding officer of the Equestrian Special Magic Service is…”

“Twili!” Shining Armor yelled, clearly happy to see her.

“Shining Armor!” Twilight yelled back.

She hopped out of bed, giving him a hug. She then looked at him. His horn was burned from mage fire, there were bags under his eyes, his dark blue uniform, which had a trim of purple common to magic, even his saddle bags, were dirty and smelled faintly of smoke. “You look like hammered manure,” Twilight said.

“Fighting a being powerful enough to a physical goddess does that to you,” Shining Armor replied with a jaunty grin.

“Sir, I must ask that you leave,” Rarity said. “We were in the process of interri… questionin… asking your sister about things.”

“I heard she fought Queen Luna and nearly won,” Shining Armor said, messing with his sister’s hair.

“Shining Armor,” Twilight said, embarrassed. “I don’t need you bragging for me.”

“You’re sister has been compromised. Sir, she also believes she some sort speculative fiction heroine,” Rarity said.

“She’s had a bad magical reaction to her injuries. A feeling of displacement and delusions of grandeur are commonplace. I’ve seen it happen myself,” Shining Armor replied. “I can take of my sister, Lieutenant. You need to get back to taking care of your city.”

“Sir, I am not authorized to leave the patient without orders from my commanding officer,” Rarity replied back.

Shining Armor used his magic to float a piece of paper to Rarity. Twilight couldn’t read the scribbled mouth writing on it, but after reading it Rarity took it, used her own magic to fold it up, and placed it in a pocket of her uniform. “Will that be all, sir?”

“For the moment,” Shining Armor replied. “I’m here to relieve you.”

“I stand relieved,” Rarity replied, giving him a quick salute that he replied. “Come on Dash. Let’s see where we’re needed now.”

“What happened?” Twilight asked, walking back to her bed and sitting down on it.

“I should be asking you the same thing,” Shining Armor said. “Twili, we’ve been worried about you for a while. But taking on that new royal… that’s insane.”

“Hey, you took her on too,” Twilight replied.

“That was with over three regiments worth of fighting ponies, the Princess, and the Strategic Academy at my side. Your backup was a company of territorial militia, a religious fanatic and a DJ. Even if you’re certifiably crazy, this isn’t you! You know better!” Shining Armor yelled.

“I HAVE SPARRED WITH LUNA MANY TIMES!” Twilight yelled back, her eyes magically whitened, speaking with the voice of a legion. “I HAVE USED THE ELEMENTS TO WIN AGAINST NIGHT MARE MOON, DISCORD, CHRYSALLIS, *, BOB, AND OTHER HORRORS YOU HAVE YET TO COMPREHEND! JUST BECAUSE THIS LUNA IS DIFFERENT DOES NOT MEAN I AND MY FRIENDS WILL NOT PREVAIL! AND JUST BECAUSE YOU LOOK MY BROTHER DOES NOT GIVE YOU ANY ROOM TO LECTURE ME!”

The two stared at each other for a few moments. To Shining Armor’s credit, he neither flinched nor looked away. Twilight was the one who blinked, laying on the bed exhausted.

Also to Shining Armor’s credit, he bit back his usual retorts. It’s one thing when the pony in question was genuinely mad and maybe a little evil. It’s another when that genuinely mad and maybe a little evil pony was your little sister. “Twili, what’s going on?”

Twilight sighed. “I don’t know. I don’t know how much to tell you.”

“I’m your brother Twili. You can trust me,” Shining ressured her, giving her a pat on the hoof.

“Not really,” Twilight replied. She looked back at him. “You accept that I’m a very powerful magician, right?”

“Of course I do. Our family’s one of the few that specialize in unicorn magic,” Shining Armor said.

“Okay. And it’s common knowledge that, in magic, things can go wrong,” Twilight said, looking up at the ceiling. “Horribly, horribly, wrong.”

“Twili, what happened,” Shining Armor said.

“Nothing at my end. I was going to sleep in the university library, then I woke up thirty years younger and in a world that barely makes sense to me,” Twilight replied. “I’ve been rolling with it so far. I thought it could be fun. But after getting my ribs kicked in… this place is too real. And more ponies are getting hurt then there has any right to be.”

Shining Armor looked at Twilight for a long moment. “So… you believe you’re Twilight… but you don’t believe you’re my Twilight.”

“And you’re not my Shining Armor,” Twilight said. “Whatever happened to yours, she’s not me. Hopefully she’s been displaced, or something, instead of killed outright. If she has… I’m hardly an innocent anymore, but…”

“Listen, Twili,” Shining Armor began. “I love you. You’re my crazy little sister. But I’m pretty sure you’re still you.”

Twilight chuckled a little bit. “I could prove you wrong… but I don’t feel like it,” she sighed, laying back down. “This must be what’s it’s like to age normally. I feel so tired.”

“Twili… no matter what happens, I’m still you’re brother,” Shining Armor said.

“And what if you’re wrong?” Twilight asked.

“Then if you’re anything like my Twilight, which you are, you will do the right thing in the end. Even if you have to exhaust all other possible actions to get there,” Shining Armor replied. “You’re my BLSFL. I’ve been through more then my share of magical mishaps. We’ll work through this.”

Twilight nodded. There was a comfortable silence once more, before she smiled. “So, you’ll support in everything that I’ll do?” Twilight asked.

Shining Armor looked at her suspiciously. “What are you planning?” he asked.

“The way I defeated Luna, or Night Mare Moon, or whatever she’s calling herself, before was to use the Elements of Harmony. We’ve never quite figured out what they are, but they can be used to purify the Princess Luna and bring Princess Celestia back,” Twilight replied.

“And you’re going to do that by yourself?” Shining Armor asked.

“Heck no. The Elements back home represented the cardinal virtues of pony society. Loyalty, Honesty, Laughter, Kindness, Generosity, all which unlock the hidden spark of the final element: Magic. There has to be at least six ponies, and I happen to know some good candidates.”

“So let’s say that you’re right,” Shining Armor said. “Do you do this alone, with your team?”

“The first time around was a bonding experience. Here, though, everything’s more… dangerous. A smaller team can move faster, but a larger team has more resources to deal with threats. My Night Mare Moon just wanted us to go away. This one… she might actually try to kill us,” Twilight said, the last part said with some uncertainty. She then quickened her resolve. “But I won’t let her. And everyone I knew on the other side, that I barely know here, each have some unique skillset to contribute that will help us survive.”

Shining Armor nodded. “Okay. So you’re not acting like normal, but this might be okay in this case. Are you sure that you can handle this?”

“Probably not. But what choice do we have?” Twilight asked.

“Convince me you’re ‘team’ can help, and I might be willing to let you do what you believe you have to do,” Shining Armor said.
“First up are Rarity and Rainbow Dash. They’re apparently experienced adventures and have access to heavy weaponry, so they’re going to be my security detail.”

~ ~ ~

Rarity looked at the old, modified laborjack that she seldom worked with anymore. It was a relic from her days of freelance adventuring. Such practice was allowed, as it let the officers and enlisted career soldiers gain experience and allowed Equestria’s movers and shakers to see what their true moral character actually are when away from the comfortable social norms of Equestrian society.

This time it was actually cleaned up. Painted in the familiar gold and blue of Equestria, save for the body itself, which was grey and gold. Rarity looked around, then sighed.

“Rainbow Dash,” she said, grating out the sounds.

“Howdy!” Dash replied, popping out from behind the mechanical monstrocity. She was in work overalls, covered in parts by the oil, soot and various other fluids that diesel and steam powered ‘jacks tended to accumulate.

“What do you do to Ol’ Rowdy?” Rarity asked.

“It can use a lightning wand now,” Rainbow Dash replied. “I also aligned the electrical conduits, and aligned the magical matrix for your spell work.”

“And is Ol’ Rowdy happy about that?” Rarity asked.

Rainbow Dash snorted. “Ol’ Rowdy ain’t ever happy ‘bout anything. But I’m sure he’ll be pleased as punched to get into an honest throw down.”

~ ~ ~

“Fluttershy has extensive experience in the Everfree Forest. She’ll be our guide.”

~ ~ ~

Fluttershy walked outside of the tree house hut, looking up at the sky. She was carry a small hoof gun in her mouth. Sitting down and letting go of the hoof gun, putting it into forelegs, she pointed it into the sky. Squeezing the trigger, a flare shot up into the sky.

She had to wait for a moment. Then another flair replied back. This one was a bright yellow, instead of the red that she used.

Fluttershy smiled.

~ ~ ~

“Pinkimena Dianne Pie is our local expert on everything Night Mare Moon. Weird religion or not, and as weird as it is to say it, she has got a good head on her shoulder.”

~ ~ ~

“No, no, no, NO! The Book of Laughing Crow is not canon for a reason! It was clearly forged by a propagandist. Just throw that away for now! Look in ‘Epistles Concerning the Nature of Divinity’ and ‘Book of the Regal Nativity’,” Pinkie Pie half yelled, half directed at the distressed scholars and military intelligence officers which had managed to crowd into her home.

“Why are we even here?” One of the Canterlot ponies asked.

“Snikerdoodles will be done in five minutes!” Vinyl Scratch yelled from the kitchen.

“Son, you have yet to taste a Pie’s baked goods, have you?” a grizzled old royal asked, mostly covered in an ancient rune armor. “It’s worth it. Even if they break into song, it’s still worth it.”

“o/~ The world’s in need of righteous mares, who wear the worker’s seal… o/~”

“Oh gods…”

“Trust me. It’ll be worth it.”

~ ~ ~

“The wild cards are Applejack…”

~ ~ ~

“Granny Smith, have you seen my typewriter?” Applejack asked, looking through her office.

“The one ya’ use to type your manuscrips, or…”

“The one I hid from Applebloom and the girls.”

“I hid it behind the liquor cabinet,” Ganny Smith said. Applejack walked in and gave Granny Smith a hug.

“Thanks Granny Smith.”

“Just don’t take mah Scotch!”

~ ~ ~

“… and whoever else ends up coming along for the ride.”

~ ~ ~

“You know Lyra, this could be our last day alive on this beautiful, green land we call Equestria,” Bon Bon almost purred.

“For the hundredth time, no. I won't do that with you because I don't feel that way about you,” Lyra responded with irritation. “And we’re on duty!”

“Hey lovebirds! Stop making out and get that cannon packed up!” Derpy yelled in the background.

“We’re not doing anything of the sort!” Lyra yelled, scandalized.

“As much as I may want to,” Bon Bon muttered.

“You know,” Derpy began. “You think you’re talking, but all I’m hearing is…” she began to make exaggerated kissing sounds.

Lyra was clearly less than pleased. “You are all the worst friends ever. Of all time.”

~ ~ ~

“But I’m pretty sure that’ll all work out,” Twilight finished.

Shining Armor was quiet for a moment. Contemplating what she said. “You seem to know what you’re doing.”

“I’ve had a lot of experience doing it,” Twilight replied. “I’m almost sure that the Elements should work the same here. I’m just not sure what would be in store for us.”

“I’m not for this,” Shining Armor said. “I’m not even sure you’re in your right mind.”

Twilight huffed. “I’m not some foal, you know. Just send it up to your bosses.”

“I’ll be sure to come along then,” Shining Armor said.

“Absolutely not!” Twilight replied, crossing her forelegs in an X. “No way, no how.”

“I have a lot more combat experience then you, Twili,” Shining Armor said.

“You’re also more visibly burned out then I am,” Twilight replied. “My magic isn’t one hundred perfect, I know that much. But your horn has mana burns.”

“… don’t you mean aether burns?” Shining Armor asked.

“… I have no idea what aether is. Doesn’t matter. You’re better at leading large groups of ponies. You don’t need magic for that. So protect Ponyville and Equestria while I go fetch the Princess, and get ready for if something goes horribly wrong. ...or horribly right..”

“Alright. But I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be approved,” Shining Amor said.

(*) (*)

“I can’t believe this actually got approved,” Shining Armor muttered.
It was a Motley crew of 9 ponies and 1 robot. The Pie sisters were arguing good naturely with each other over something or another. Derpy Hooves, Lyra, and Bon Bon were all wearing their militia uniforms, well armed and serving as an impromptu escort for their leader. Said leader was fussing at Rainbow Dash, who was fussing over a robot, which sat down and glowered at everything.

Applejack had some sort of gun mounted on one side of her saddle bags, a design Twilight began to associate with the military arms of ponies in this universe. It had a barrel and a drum like magazine on the side. She was moving around, mingling with the other ponies, but never quite settling down to one conversation.

Fluttershy was quietly standing a little too close to Shining Armor and Twilight.

“Are you going to be okay, Twili,” Shining Armor asked.

“I think I will be. I know my magical reserves are nowhere near completely full, but I should have enough for my basic spells,” Twilight replied.

“But it’s the Everfree,” Shining Armor said, almost pleading.

“There are things in the Everfree,” Fluttershy began. “Old things. Ancient things. Things which should not be, but are. They are the result of pony hubris, for the agents of Luna and Celestia had access to ancient, terrible magic. The Zone of Alienation is the result of that.”

“The Zone of Alienation?” Twilight asked.

“The place where those old things dwell,” Fluttershy replied.

“Twili, listen to the ranger,” Shining Armor said.

“You don’t support this?” Twilight asked.

“You’re my crazy little sister,” Shining Armor replied. "Even if you aren't ill, you're always in the madness place."

Fluttershy spoke up again. “Until you reach the Zone of Alienation, the Everfree is relatively safe. Improperly managed, but safe. Inside of the Zone of Alienation, besides myself and Zocora, your sister who is not your sister is the most prepared.”

Shining Armor raised an eyebrow. Fluttershy walked up to him and gave him a gentle hug, which he tried to back out of.

“You’re a good brother,” Fluttershy said.

“Fluttershy,” Twilight said. Fluttershy flushed, then walked away. “I’ll be fine. And I have to do this. And you have to take care of Ponyville for me. Understand?”

Shining Armor sighed. “Yes, Twili. I don’t know why I’m letting you do this…”

“It’s because I’m at least 20 years older then you,” Twilight replied.

“Hey, Sparkle! Are we going yet?” Applejack asked out.

“Coming,” Twilight replied, leaving her brother. Said brother watched apprehensively as his sister walked into the Everfree with the band that she managed to gather. He then turned around, and began walking back to where the relief efforts were being organized.