• 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 7

“So, what’s the plan?” Vinyl Scratched ask quietly as the ponies and one war machine made their march deeping into the forest.

“We meet up with Zecora and find out what’s going on,” Twilight replied.

“So… why is everypony gone?” Vinyl asked.

Twilight wasn’t sure what she was talking about. She was certain that everypony else was following behind her. Yet as she looked to her left, she spotted nopony. As she looked to her right, she noticed only the religious pony cum DJ. And as she turned around to look behind her, she saw nopony around.

“This… is not like last time,” Twilight said.

“Last time?” Vinyl asked. She then gave herself a light knock. “Oh, of course. The passages. How did last time go?”

“Well, we didn’t get separated,” Twilight replied. She then thought for a moment. “What passages?”

“Scripture. Talking about the seven bearers,” Vinyl replied.

“Seven?” Twilight asked.

“One mentor and the six virtues,” Vinyl replied. “Aided by the iron pony and their close comp… oh man I was so stupid. I honestly thought that part was allegory.”

“Okay… so it isn’t allegory. Does it tell you anything else?” Twilight asked.

“That this go around they would all be females, since the last go around they were all males,” Vinyl replied. She gave a shrug. “It’s just that everypony thinks they’re female because society went all matriarchal.”

“So what about the princesses?” Twilight asked.

“The go before that. That one was actually a mix of both genders. But three became one, another grew in wisdom and ability to act, and the last one fell to evil,” Vinyl replied. “Before that was the triumvirate, where the Elements embodied Wisdom, Courage and Strength. That was the founding of Equestria. As long as there has been an Equestria, there has been the Elements. And as long as there are the Elements, there will be an Equestria. And if we live up to the virtues they are to embody during our time of need, to correct where temporal society has gone wrong, then we shall be a peaceful nation of strength and virtue. That is the covenant of old.”

“The covenant?” Twilight asked.

“Old theology mixed with history. It’s hard to tell where the myth ends and the facts begin, but it makes for a heck of a story. Ask Pinkie how Equestria was made sometime. It’s a doozy,” Vinyl said with a grin.

“I think I will,” Twilight said, curious. She didn’t expect to learn so much from a DJ. Then something irked her. “I thought her name was Pinkimena?”

“It is. I was also born sixteen minutes before her, so I get to call her whatever I want,” Vinyl replied, the last part in almost a sing song voice.

“Okay…” Twilight said, before looking up. Despite the canopy, she could tell that hours had gone by. “Can I count you to take care of yourself?”

Vinyl’s grin stretched across her face. “Oh, I may speak like this when around your people now,” Vinyl began, before switching to what Earthlings may recognize as a South African accent, “But you will find, my larger than average Equestrian, that Zebras are hardly the only people who have mastered ‘esoteric forms of magic’.”

“Hardly the only surprise of the night,” Twilight said drolly. “Now… lets go find that hut.”

~ ~ ~

Fluttershy looked to the left. She then looked to the right. She then realized where she was, and gave a demure sigh.

“Not again,” she said quietly to herself.

Being transported to a strange part of the forest was not a particularly new experience for Fluttershy. Strange things happened in the Zone of Alienation, and teleportation was potential one of the most disorienting yet least harmful things that could happen. Yet they were far outside the Zone of Alienation, on the warded path to the last safe haven before the fabric of space, time and magic became unstable.

Which meant outside interference.

“Demons and evil spirits, be gone,” Fluttershy said quietly to herself.

“Demons and evil spirits, be gone,” Fluttershy said again, a little louder than before.

“Demons and evil spirits, be gone!” Fluttershy said again, much louder than before.

“DEMONS AND EVIL SPIRITS, BE GONE!” Fluttershy shouted. “I KNOW YOU ARE OUT THERE! SHOW YOURSELF!”

Three figures revealed themselves. They were pegasi, of the same shape and size as Fluttershy. Their fur and manes were of similar colors to Queen Luna’s, though most was covered by a purple and blue take off of the famous Wonderbolts costumes. Their eyes were covered by yellow tinted goggles, which to her own eyes did nothing to conceal the cat’s eyes they were trying to hide.

“Fluttershy, I presume,” said the pony in the center, who she presumed to be their leader. All three were uncomfortably androgynous, although the center pony’s voice sounded like a mare trying to sound like a young stallion. “We’ve been waiting for a pony like you.”

“You have?” Fluttershy asked.

“Oh, more then you can imagine,” the lead pony said. “We’ve been waiting for a pony as strong, brave and beautiful as yourself. Even in this rugged environment, even with what you are, you are truly the heir to Pansy’s legacy.”

“You know?!” Fluttershy asked, feeling panic. Even as her stress response went off, and her wings flared, she kept from closing in on the trio. She kept her distance.

“We know of your lineage. We know of your ancestor, Viceroy Pansy. We know of the magic that she partook in to save Equestria, the covenants made with ancient things of power… we know everything,” the lead pony explain.

“You know,” Fluttershy replied, crestfallen.

“We come with a modest proposal,” the other pegasus began. “Unlike those other ponies, we will not judge you. You would not have to live in fear under the reign of our kingdom’s rightful queen. No more glorious yet obscure jobs to explain away your talents. No more living in fear. No more second questioning yourself. Under Queen Luna, your line can live openly with it’s past, with the love, respect and power that it rightfully deserves. All we ask is that you simply not interfere. Do nothing, and you’ll get everything. How does that sound?”

“That’s too bad,” Fluttershy muttered to herself.

“How is that bad?” the pony asked, confused. “We’re offering you the basic decency that you deserve.”

“Oh, not that. That sounds nice. It’s just too bad that you know,” Fluttershy said to the three ponies.

“And why is that?” the other pegasus asked.

“Because now I have to kill again.”

~ ~ ~

“I don’t enjoy the thought of killing,” Pinkie Pie said quietly to her small cohort. “But if done righteously, it is just a chore. Like all the rest.”

The other three ponies nodded. At some point they got separated from the main group.

“I may be in the militia, but I hope I won’t ever be in the position to… well…” Bon Bon began, before quietly looking around.

“I never held a hoof canon, but I did call in artillery strikes,” Lyra said. The other two looked at her. “Radio was the big new thing then. I earned my rank during the Border War by being the best radiomare I could be. But Derpy… those are hard stripes.”

The trio looked at the company sergeant. She seemed to be sitting, starring into the darkness with her one functional eye. Her wings suddenly flaired, and she stood up, adjusting the saddle bag and single rifle system that she had.

“Look alive, colts,” Derpy said, right before a series of oddly equine-like screams were heard. Equine like, but still highly guttural.

“What’s that?” Pinkie asked, fear creeping into her voice despite herself.

“A bad day,” Derpy replied.

~ ~ ~

Rarity and Rainbow Dash were walking down the forested road. It seemed as though they were separated from their group, but this was hardly the first time. It would seem like a good idea for one of them to ride the mechanical monstrosity that they had brought with them.

“Why aren’t you riding Ol’ Rowdy,” Rainbow Dash asked.

It seemed as though somepony agreed.

“Old Rowdy has been less then happy with his conversion to diesel,” Rarity replied. “I suppose that it is good that the new engine and generator didn’t burn out his cortex like so many others, but there are times when I sense a… greater awareness.”

The two gave pause, looking back at the machine.

“Are ya’ alive, Rowdy?” Rainbow Dash asked.

The machine only glowered at her.

“Rainbow Dash, weren’t you one to lecture on how an intelligence, no matter how seemingly cunning, can’t be alive,” Rarity asked.

“Oh, not in the biological sense. If ya’ were feelin’ particularly liberal with the definition, I s’pose ya’ can say that Ol’ Rowdy metabolizes. But I ain’t yet seen a jack that can reproduce. Oh, there have been attempts. Complete self replication, cloning, things that don’t involve a factory line. Even some attempts at pseudo-sexual reproduction, which would be very interesting if…”

“Too much information, Dash,” Rarity replied.

“Right. So, two or more jacks can’t do the zero gravity two steps and produce a baby clank. Ain’t a species, ain’t got no inheritance. So, not really ‘alive’. But if it displays sentience, true self awareness and agency for its actions, then that’s a whole other kettle of fish.”

“You’ve been hanging around gryphons far too long, my friend. You’re starting to adopt their barbaric sayings,” Rarity said.

Rainbow Dash grinned. “Oh, thanks for givin’ me ideas on how to needle ya’. ‘God made all beings, but Gunhildt made all beings equal.’ ‘Killin’ two birds with one stone.’ ‘Like shootin’ fish in a barrel.’”

“Ugh. End me now,” Rarity said, rolling her eyes.

The machine vented steam, as though in agreement.

“Yes, I agree… and now I’m talking to my machine,” Rarity said, before the trio came before a river. “ This… might be a tad tricky…”

The entire river seemed as though it would normally be a flat, fairly subdued body of water. However, it was a roiling body of chaos now, waves coming up as high as a pony while illogically not breaking it’s banks.

“How does all the water stay in there?” Rarity asked. “It should be mud all the way up to your knees at least fifteen yards from the shore.”

“Not sure,” Rainbow Dash replied. “I’m guessin’ ‘weird Everfree magic’. Think Rowdy can ford it?”

“Not like that,” Rarity replied. “I don’t want to risk loosing him.”

“I’ll fly up for a bit then. See if something’s causin’ all this, or if there’s a way around it,” Rainbow Dash replied.

“Are you sure it’s a wise idea?” Rarity asked. “We’ve been separated from the group. Nothing will keep you from being separated from me. We need our numbers.”

“Rarity, you’ve got a walking death machine that I personally built half of. I’ve got wings. If anything else goes wrong, I’ll be like brave Sir Pansy the Eighth and bravely run away. An’ then you’ll kill it like you always do, and everythin’ ‘ill be all rainbows and puppies and shiny like in general.

“‘Sides, from what I read this sort of magic seems to be into the whole ‘not too difficult to overcome by yourself’ thing. I’m sure we’ll be able to stay together.”

~ ~ ~

Zecora sat in quiet meditation. Too long the forest had been silent. Too long had she waited for Fluttershy, and whatever party she was bringing with her. The supplies for Fluttershy’s trip into the Zone of Alienation were already prepared, and a nice meal was already cooking.

The meal was a big tasty stew, made of herbs, berries, and some canned juices and food that she had stored in her provisions. It was perhaps a bit simple for the supposedly more refined pallets of Equestrian ponies, but it had two things going for it. First was that it was well balanced meal that could be made in bulk. Second was that it wouldn’t be hard to keep heated, and would be a warm meal off the trail.

There was a frantic knocking on the door, which disrupted Zecora’s meditations. She slowly stood up on all fours, cricking her neck a little bit.

“A frantic knocking,
Another pony in need,
I go towards the door.”

True to her far western archipelago style poem, the zebra walked towards the door. She opened it, revealing an orange pony in fashionable (yet pratical) flapper wear, with a gun saddle strapped around her barrel.

“Are you the zebra in the forest?!” Applejack asked franctically.

Zecora responded with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh who am I kidding, I need anypony’s help! I was walking through the Everfree and everypony disappeared!”

“I hope my question seems not rude,
But who were these ponies in relation to you?” Zecora asked.

Applejack though for a moment. “Well, there were about four militia ponies, my sister Zap Apple, Ranger Fluttershy, a couple of Moonanites and a weird alicorn thingy. Also a giant walking death machine.”

“Why?” Zecora simply asked.

“Because we’re facing down a physical goddess and having giant death machines on your side is just be bee’s knees,” Applejack replied, before becoming cross. “Are you gonna’ help me or what?!”

Zecora sighed.

“Ask not what seems a simple thing, nor wonder if it’s worth selling,
Your group is interesting but still your motives are more telling.
I can help you find your friends, if malevolent forces don’t mean their end,
Assuming our timing’s right, and our tracking true,
But for now let quench and fire, and put away the stew.”

Zecora walked inside of the hut, leaving the door open for Applejack. Applejack just stood outside for nearly ten seconds, before poking her head inside.

“Umm… is it okay for me to come in, weird poetry zebra? Or should I just... hey, is that stew?”

~ ~ ~

Twilight looked around.

She was lost in the Everfree. Once again.

Greeeaaat.

“This one does not believe that you are lost. This one believes that you are mearly dreaming,” another pony said.

Twilight looked around again. Standing quietly under a small shelter made of rocks was what she recognized as a younger version of Luna.

“Princess,” Twilight asked. Luna visibly winced.

“Please do not call this one by that title. This one had renounced any right to it when she had plunged her people into war. Furthermore, this one does not deserve it,” Luna replied.

“Okay then… Luna. How are you…”

“This is a dream, which is one of the aspects of the lesser light. Night is when most thinking beings rest, with few exceptions. It is the way of things,” Luna replied. “This one lulled you to sleep. The decedent of one of her generals is guarding your slumbering body, but is very concerned.”

“Okay,” Twilight replied. For some reason this made sense. Twilight figured that it was dream logic. “So what do you need to tell me?”

“This one is not sure,” Luna replied. She looked down at the ground, her loneliness almost palpable. “This one has been so lonely. She isn’t even sure if she is real, or simply the twisted fragment of a shattered mind.”

Twilight walked over to Luna. Sitting down beside her, she gave the much smaller and physically younger pony a hug. Luna winced at the contact, but did not try to run away.

“The body this one inhabits is controlled by a jealous and wrathful shard. We share some faculties, but this one cannot act openly to defy her. This one is too ashamed,” Luna said distractedly.

“You have friends,” Twilight said.

“No. This one’s friends were either killed by her own hoof, or lead to their deaths by this one’s selfish desires. Your friends are still alive, but are not here, world walker. The other ponies you have befriended, their allies and champanions as well, must each be tested. It is the way of the Elements. Unearned power leads to corruption, and untempered and unprepared souls even more so. Even the wrathful shard controlling this one’s body is but a tool for They Who Rule All,” Luna said.

“That… sort of make sense. In a storybook sort of way,” Twilight replied.

Luna looked to the side. “This one remembers what she is to warn you about. You shall be ambushed soon. You will not be directly harmed. Constellations shall threaten you, but the stars can be your friends. Remember to call upon the hunters and warriors, and embrace your destiny on this world.”

Twilight gave Luna a puzzled look. Luna simply smiled.

“Prophecies are meant to be vague things until retrospect is upon us. The elements shall be found and wielded by those who embody the Cardinal Virtues the living generations need to be reminded and taught of the most. Those who need to be shall be redeemed. And you shall wake up, right about…”