• Published 13th Mar 2017
  • 8,028 Views, 208 Comments

Inoculation - Tumbleweed

"Every normal pony must be tempted, at times, to spit on her hooves, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

  • ...

Chapter 1

“Just so you guys know,” said Twilight, “I've decided to turn evil.”

As she watched open-mouthed expressions of bafflement cross the faces of her five best friends, Twilight began to wonder if weekly brunch was the best time to drop such momentous news.

“I'm sorry, Twilight.” Rarity picked up a napkin and dabbed at the corner of her mouth, where crumbs of cinnamon roll certainly had not tumbled out when her jaw dropped. “I must be going deaf in my old age. It almost sounded like you said you were going to turn evil.”

“That's what I said, yes.” Twilight nodded.

“Hold on!” Pinkie Pie held one hoof up, and then used the other to pour the better part of a carafe of orange juice into her mouth. This done, she reared back and turned her head to spew the liquid out in a steady stream before she looked back at Twilight, wide-eyed. “WHAT?!”

Rainbow Dash ducked beneath the spit-take (if barely) and then let out a titter of nervous laughter. “Ha ha. Good one, Twilight! Had us all going there for a sec. With your joke. Because that's just a joke. Right?” Her voice cracked. More than usual.

“I'm deadly serious.” Twilight said.

“Deadly?” Fluttershy murmured from where she took refuge behind her chair.

“It's just a figure of speech.” Twilight said.

“Turnin' evil is a figure of speech?” Applejack planted her front hooves on the table and tensed her shoulders for a brawl. “Ain't one I ever heard.”

“Oh! No, it's not.” Twilight said. “I meant the 'deadly' part of deadly serious. In fact, I'm turning evil in order to make sure nopony dies, or even gets hurt!”

Applejack squinted. “Now you're just talkin' nonsense.”

“It makes sense, I swear!” Twilight said. She pulled in a steadying breath, and leaned back in her chair. “Just hear me out, okay?”

“Oh man, supervillains love explaining their evil schemes!” Rainbow Dash squeaked. “Maybe Twilight really did turn evil!”

Applejack facehooved. “Rainbow. Think. Twilight's always liked explainin' things.”

Rainbow paled. “So you're saying she's been evil this whole time!?

“I'm not evil!” Twilight huffed. “Not yet, at least. That's the problem.”

“How is that a problem?” Rarity said. “A dearth of villainy sounds like the exact opposite of a problem, from my point of view.”

“That's what I thought, until recently.” Twilight nodded. “I mean, I've told you guys about Sunset Shimmer, right?”

“Oh, oh, oh!” Pinkie Pie held one hoof straight in the air, as if she were in class. “I remember! She's the pony who stole your magic crown thingie and then went through that magic mirror to weirdo hu-maan land but then you chased her and stopped her and saved the day!”

“That's right.” Twilight nodded, approvingly. “But that's not all of it. The important part is, even though Sunset Shimmer dabbled in dark magic, and nearly turned an entire school into her mind controlled minions, she got better after that, and went on to make friends and do a lot of good in that other dimension. She keeps me updated, through a magical diary that allows us to correspond across the planar barriers. And, y'know, for someone who once tried to take over the world, Sunset is actually doing really, really well. Also she may be dating the human dimension's version of me and I'm not sure how I feel about that.” Twilight furrowed her brow as she trailed off. “But that's beside the point.”

“And the point is?” Rarity said as politely as she could.

“In her last letter, Sunset mentioned getting a flu shot.” Twilight said.

“Ugh. Needles.” Rainbow Dash shivered, and pulled her wings tighter around herself. “You really are turning evil.”

“It wasn't the needle part that got me thinking.” Twilight's eyes took on a familiar, half-mad gleam. “It was the inoculation.”

“Twilight said a dirty word!” Pinkie Pie said with a blush and a giggle.

“Inoculation, Pinkie. Not … whatever you're thinking.” Twilight shook her head, and busied herself pouring a fresh cup of tea. “I'm talking about the practice of exposing someone to a weakened version of a disease, in order to grant them immunity from the greater form. It's actually a rather fascinating subject-- Princess Celestia herself made it a point to have herself immunized against ponypox when a scientist named Sawbones first developed the practice. Admittedly, Princess Celestia probably didn't need it, given her nigh-immortality, but she actually launched a fad amongst Canterlot's nobility where immunization became the most popular thing, to the point where ponies would wear the bandages over the needle-sticks as a sort of fashion accessory.”

“Now that's just silly.” Rarity mused. “White gauze doesn't go with anything.”

“Did everybody liquor up their mornin' coffee 'cept me?” Applejack looked down at her mug. “'cause none of this is makin' a lick of sense.”

“It will make all the licks of sense!” Twilight pounded a hoof on the brunch table, hard enough to set plates and cutlery rattling. “Once I finish explaining, that is. Because the important part is, once I got to thinking about Sunset Shimmer and immunizations in the same context, I had an idea.” Twilight settled back in her chair, and lifted up her teacup with magic. “What if the same principles behind medical conditions could be applied to psycho-magical ones as well?”

“Sorry Twi, that still sounds like crazy talk.” Applejack said.

“That's what I thought at first.” Twilight took a prim sip of her tea. “Until I started to really mull it over. I mean, there's Sunset Shimmer … but there's also Princess Luna. Or even Discord! Each one of them has menaced the whole of Equestria, and each one of them has turned away from such a dark path, and proven themselves a better pony for it. Or, uh, a better Draconequus, in Discord's case.”

“But that ain't everybody we've blastified.” Applejack said. “Whattabout that queen bug-lady? Or King Sombra? Or Tirek? Y'know, the big demon-centaur that blew up your house n' smashed you through a mountain n' tried to eat your soul? I don't see anypony invitin' any of them to Hearth's Warmin' Eve dinner anytime soon.”

“Aha!” Twilight smiled, teacher-proud. “That's a very, very good point. One that I kept in mind when I started kicking this idea around. But when you think about it, they might actually support my theory. If Evil is a disease, then the likes of Queen Chrysalis are when it becomes terminal. Which makes building up a resistance all the more important!”

“Resistance?” Pinkie Pie said.

“So, uh. You guys know I don't like bragging or anything, but on an objective scale, I'm … pretty powerful. Magically speaking, that is.” Twilight flared her princessy wings out, as if to prove her point. “And, uh, with my current course of study and learning, it's only logical to assume that I'm going to keep amassing more and more magical potential for quite some time. I'm not saying I'm going to be as powerful Princess Celestia or anything, but … um, I definitely have the potential to at least make it within a tier or two of her level. So logically, it's better that I turn a little bit evil now, in order to immunize myself against it, instead of running the risk of an exponentially more powerful future version of myself really going bad and tearing the fabric of space-time apart or something.” Twilight drank the last of her tea, and then set her teacup down on its saucer. “Which is why I've decided to turn evil. Starting this afternoon, I think.”

“And what, pray tell, has Spike said about this?” Rarity said.

“He's actually all for it.”

“Mwa ha ha ha ha!” Spike's laughed nearly drowned out the pitterpatter of his scaled feet as he dashed into the room. With his black top hat and cape, he looked as if he'd just come from the opera-- one where everyone died at the end, to judge by the way he twirled the ends of his glued-on mustache. “While you were having brunch, I rearranged the entire library! Now, everything is shelved by publication date, and not by subject or author's name! AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!”

The little dragon swept his cape through the air, and dashed off, cackling.

“See?” Twilight said. “It's better he get all this out of his system now, rather than in a century or two, when he's a couple stories tall. Can you imagine how much havoc he'd wreak if he were fully grown? If Spike really turned evil, he might forgo a cataloging system entirely!”

“Question.” Rainbow Dash said. “If Spike's already evil, and you're gonna do the same thing, does that mean the rest of us should go evil too?”

Applejack turned her ire onto the pegasus. “Rainbow, that's the dumbest thing you've ever said.”

“Is not!” Rainbow Dash huffed. “Besides, there's no such thing as stupid questions. Twilight told me that.”

“That's true.” Twilight said. “A healthy and unhindered sense of curiosity is essential to proper personal growth.”

“Besides!” Rainbow Dash said, “I'm supposed to be the Element of Loyalty, right? There's no way I'm gonna let Twilight go through an evil phase all by herself!”

“Thank you, Rainbow.” Twilight reached over and patted her friend on the shoulder. “I really appreciate that.”

“And when I go evil, I get a cool costume, right?” Rainbow Dash grinned in eager anticipation.

“Nevermind, that was officially the dumbest thing you've ever said.” Applejack grumbled.

“Like, something really cool and scary! With skulls! And spikes! And skulls on spikes!”

“Mmmm, I'm afraid I'll have to veto that, darling.” Rarity said.

“Thanks, Rarity.” Applejack didn't bother hiding the relief in her voice.

“You'd do much better with something clingy and form-fitting. Better range of movement, you know. Not to mention the sex appeal.”

What.” Applejack whipped her head around to glare at the white unicorn sitting beside her.

“If she's going to do it, she might as well do it correctly.” Rarity flicked a meticulously curled lock of hair out of her eyes. “Besides, this could be a rather interesting opportunity. Black is 'in' this season, didn't you know?”

“I didn't.” Applejack shook her head. “I can't believe y'all are just going along with this. I know I ain't the only one who thinks this is just a pile a' horsefeathers. Pinkie—”

“What?” Pinkie Pie said from the other side of the room as she pushed a large cannon into place. Somewhere along the line, she'd donned a domino mask and a black shirt with 'HENCHMARE' printed across it in large block lettering.

“Fluttershy.” Applejack looked over at the still-cowering pegasus. “C'mon. You're the nicest pony any of us know. Tell Twilight this is a bad idea.”

“Oh. Um. Okay.” Fluttershy grabbed the back of her chair for support, and slowly peeked up over the top. “Twilight, all this talk about evil and stuff is really scary.”

“See?” Applejack said. “Anythin' that's got Fluttershy that worked up has gotta be a bad idea.”

“That doesn't mean anything!” Rainbow Dash pointed an accusatory hoof at Applejack. “Fluttershy's scared of everything! Like, one time I saw her hide under the table because of dessert!”

“Only because it was on fire.” Fluttershy murmured.

“It was supposed to be!” Rainbow said. “That's what makes Bananas Foster cool!”

“Shouldn't that technically be hot?” Pinkie Pie scratched her head.

“All I'm saying is just because Fluttershy's scared of something doesn't mean it's a bad idea.” Rainbow Dash zipped over to Fluttershy's hiding place, grabbed her, and plunked her back into her chair. “It might even mean it's an awesome idea.”

“I don't think I wanna be evil.” Fluttershy said.

“I knew I could count on you, Fluttershy.” Applejack tilted her hat back slightly.

“But, um. If you need an army of animal minions, Twilight, I could help with that.”

“What?” Applejack said.

“Like, sharks? Every villain needs a bunch of sharks, right? Or how about weasels? I could get you a basket of flesh-tearing weasels in an hour, if you asked.”

“That. Is. Awesome.” Rainbow Dash stared at her friend with newfound admiration. “You sure you're not good at this evil thing, Fluttershy? Because, like, what if you got a bunch of sharks, and then I got a tornado, and--”

“And nothin'!” Applejack said. “I'm tellin' you, Twilight, this is a bad idea. You guys are the best friends a gal could ever have, 'cause you're all so nice n' stuff. Ain't right to just turn your backs on the things that make y'all such good ponies to begin with. I don't want anythin' to do with any of this.”

“Oh, Applejack!” Rarity's eyes glittered. “This is even better!”

“Huh?” Applejack peered at the unicorn sitting next to her.

“It's just such a delicious narrative! You, betrayed, alone, forced to stand against your five best friends as we walk down the path of villainy!”

“But only a little bit.” Twilight added on.

“Yes, that.” Rarity noted, and then launched back into her rapturous debate. “But think, Applejack! It'll be like one of the great stories of old-- two ponies, their hearts entwined, separated by circumstance! Perhaps your inner goodness will shine through and redeem us all … or perhaps I may yet tempt you to the proverbial dark side?”

“Tempt me.” Applejack said, deadpan.

“You know.” Rarity made a weapons-grade flutter of her eyelashes. “Perhaps with my feminine wiles?”

“That's it. I'm done.” Applejack shoved herself away from the table, and pulled her hat down over her eyes. “I'll be back at the farm. Y'all lemme know when you're done bein' dumb n' crazy.” She wasted little time in stomping out of the castle dining room, and slammed the door behind her.

“Oh my.” Fluttershy stared at the door Applejack had stormed through. “We made her really mad. Does that mean we're evil now?

“It's alright!” Twilight forced a smile. “I admit, this is one of my … wilder theories, which is saying something. And if Applejack doesn't want anything to do with it, that's her decision, which is perfectly acceptable. Plus, um, it gives us at least one data point towards a control group.”

“So now what?” Pinkie Pie said from atop a pile of ominously blinking machinery with 'M.A.S.S. DEVICE' stenciled in a military font down one side. “Because seriously I've had a bunch of this mad scientist stuff laying around for a while now and I've been waiting for the chance to use it! Like, I'm pretty sure I have a mega-laser in the basement somewhere-- we could use it to draw our faces on the moon! Wouldn't that be fun?”

“That's … tempting.” Twilight mused. “But remember Pinkie, we're only trying to be a little evil. So we should focus on something a little bit smaller.”

“Like what?”

“Well.” Twilight shrugged a little bit. “I thought we could start by taking over Ponyville.”