• Published 7th Apr 2017
  • 2,492 Views, 967 Comments

The Influence - GMBlackjack

Twilight Sparkle awakens in a mysterious room with a mysterious artifact - in a story where your comments influence the outcome.

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Author's Note:

[IMPORTING…][…Ponygood speaking. To the dream entity: Hello! We are people speaking to Twilight from behind a phone screen, if you know what that is. I, personally, would appreciate it if you didn't ignore Twilight's existence, and maybe not interrupt all of her dreams. I do have a few important questions. First, are there evil entities on this island that seek to use Twilight's magic to escape some prison and do terrible things to the world? Second, are you, the forest creature, and Alderan related to them? Third, how can we know to trust you? That's all I wanted to direct towards you, dream entity. I'm rubbing off on you, Twilight? Heh, all part of my master plan... to STEAL YOUR SOUL! HAHAHAhehehe, just kidding! Even if I could, I would have no interest in doing so. Hmm... Infinity might be a problem if she decides to pursue you in her quest for answers. She could very well be put in danger from her foolish desires. When you do eventually set off, constantly scan for any unwanted followers, both physically and magically. And as for speaking to Blackjack? It is possible to directly speak to him on his other stories, his profile page, and by Private Message. The only reason we can't speak to him here is because this is reserved for speaking to you. He did comment twice on this story, though; once to tell Akuma he spoke too late, and once to notify me that he corrected his spelling error. He says it like a computer program, though. Speaking of computer, in going to try something. [COMMAND: Help //(Lists all commands)] And as for why I call this an island? I reasoned that everything's technically an island, however large it may be. However, I can start referring to it as a continent, if you want.
That'll be all… …Why Glimmer? Why not Twinkle or Sparky? Why not Twilight Shimmer?... ...Spike! Don't be rude. I'm sure she...I...we. *sigh* Spikes right that is annoying. Anyway, I'm sure you have a reason behind the nickname.
Also, be careful around Infinity. While I'm pretty sure she's harmless there's just something about that pony that's raising a few red flags in my mind. Also to the 'pony?' Named Afizha. I found this strange eye thing some time ago at Princess Celestia's old castle that let me communicate with you. What's weird though is that a few weeks after Spike handed it to me I've started having these visions of the old castle and fire… …SWEEPER!! What do you want with Twilight anyway?! I get that this is your story, but you can't reeding do this!. Stop, Key, nothing came about from yelling. It's clear he wants answers. Answers to what? What could it possibly want from us? Look, Sw- Blackjack? I don't know what you want, but if it's Keywii, it created our Organization 15 years ago and then left a few months later, Nobody has seen or heard from him since he abandoned Jane in the Equestria general hospital. He didn't even leave us with any direction, just "watch over what you do and keep the ponies you steal safe" Please, just, leave this Twilight alone, I don't want to see what happened in the Asanta system again... Twilight, I...I want to share what's happened to the other ponies the Sweeper takes, but I don't want to upset you, I JUST got back to you to be helpful. Just, for now, gather as much information from it as you can, you might learn enough to get you back home… …Ponygood again. If you must know, Twilight, the Asanta solar system was found in another of Blackjack's stories called Wanderlost, in which an evil all-powerful star god related to the Tree of Harmony was imprisoned, released, and re-imprisoned. He was also indirectly the cause of the death of your planet, and directly the cause of Celestia's death. His name is Corot, but I like to call him Carrot… …Be careful Twilight. Something tells me that the being in front of you does not have any emotions and is only treating you and all those around you as nothing but a science experiment. A means to an end and not caring what happens in the process… …Why...WHY WOULD YOU JUST SAY THAT?! I WAS SPECIFICALLY TRYING TO REFFING KEE- KEY, You're going too far, your use of language is unacceptable, you're being commandeered for the time being. Sir! I don't care about that right now, how can somebody named ponyGOOD just provide sensitive information like that? His casualness with the death of one of Twilight's loved ones is unacceptable! You're taking a break, Key, go to the lounge immediately. You're not working in this state. Now, Ponygood, I suppose I cannot change the way you handle sensitive topics, but moving forward together means compromise, and our organization is built on the fundamental that tact should be exercized when necessary. Now I'll keep Key from snapping at you the best I can, but in return I ask that you try not to just provide any and all information that could cause anxiety as soon as the opportunity supplies itself. Thank you… …Akumakami64 here. Sorry I didn't get to you last time. I was painting and got another story/world. Long story short, Discord never went traitor and became Archduke of the Everfree. For reasons you might not understand, I'm very proud of that one already. Huh, so that's what the other commenters have been talking about. Well, Twilight, I think I know what this thing is, kind of. Dream Creature: Settle this for us. I know you are not the Sweeper the other keep going on about, but are you perhaps another version of that creature? As in a less destructive version of it from another universe relative to it? As for Information, I would gladly give some, but you need to be more specific. I know a Twilight who lives eternally by being reborn and changing the world with all the points she collects, I know a child that could consume entire universes, I know plenty of gods and heroes, even Eldritch abominations, and anything I don't know, I can research relatively quickly to you. Now,  if you want another question, here's this: Is this really the past? Oh sure, there's Celestia and Discord, but that doesn't mean a whole lot. The Sisters and the Draconequus are some of the biggest constants in all timelines of this world. So, was this ever this Twilight's past or are we in another timeline all together? Anyway, back to you Twilight. I'm actually surprised by how you handle Infinity. She reminds me a lot of you. But as for the rest.....When she says constantly shifting around, does she mean like a regular desert or something like Discord would do? Hard to tell, I imagine. And the Band.....i'm not saying go into, but get a look at that place. I have a feeling that may be important. Oi, the dogs....I have no opinion on that as I'm not sure what they're ultimately like a society- if it was mentioned, I'm sorry. Again, been a bit busy on my end. And tell Fluttershy I'm sorry for the panic attack I'm sure the others are putting you through right now. PS Dream Creature: Everything is true, it just depends on what universe you are in… …How many times am I going to say this? I am sorry. I just wanted to not leave any unknowns to Twilight, I saw an object that Twilight was ignorant of, and I didn't think for one second of the emotional consequences. I can definitely see how my philosophy and lack of emotional consideration can be problematic… …Giginss here. I think we all need to stop shouting, and try and focus on the current situation. Twilight, the entity you are currently speaking to is an unknown. Try to get as much information as you can out of it while not giving away as much as you can. Once we know more, we will be able to figure out what to do. Also, when you get back home, you should totally look up this in the history books, if this is really the past… …Josh here - not sure what you what information you're looking for, and just so key stops calling you the sweeper do have a name we could call you by? And ponygood if you're really sorry you'd do better next time… …Look, I get it, Ponygood, I really do, but even though I have a short fuse I still follow the three D's. Don't Discuss Death. it's a really sensitive topic that you need not blurt out. Otherwise, you need to wait for Twilight to specifically ask about other versions of her and their lives. I have a large wealth of knowledge of everything the Sweeper has done to her and her friends, but I'm waiting for her to be ready in order to handle it, it's not lunch time small talk. And Josh, I know the Sweeper has a name, it's GMBlackjack, but even if this dream entity is just a pale shadow of the real thing, it still acts in its place and I've always been uncomfortable using their names, there's an old legend that I don't believe in that if you call the Forerunners by name then they can steal your souls, obviously YOURS can do anything they want with you, but it goes that others can then steal you and use you for their sick games. And after 12 years following The Sweepers exploits, that's the last thing I want to have happen to me… …Very well. I will seek to better myself, and be more emotionally considerate. Just don't blame my if I forget to do that, though; I have a nasty habit of forgetting things. I didn't realize such a thing as the three D's existed… …Key, while i'm not doubting you, last time we talk to this thing it said "we have a case of mistaken identity" which means this is not the Sweeper, and from what you have said about the Sweeper and from how this guy is acting I have reason to believe he is working against the Sweeper… …Hmm... Oh, right, LeftMoss here, I was just really thinking about this, and still am, kinda. .........With the entity, try not to give away REAL important info, and I would have given you a suggestion for the one thing, but you can never be too sure about its capabilities. Apart from that, I have nothing to say, so I will be looking through these situations and provide advice for whatever goal you have in mind that I think is the best approach from now on (except for the parts where the entity appears, at least until we know its capabilities)… …Who keeps upvoting every comment?… …Also, Twilight. Be careful of who you trust with sensitive information. Not all ponies are as trustworthy as they look, as I'm pretty sure I don't need to remind you of the Flim-Flam Brothers. While I'm pretty sure Infinity is a friendly pony, she raises a red flag on how fast she knew it was you who made the sun move. Not only that but the way she kept hounding you with questions, it seemed like she was looking for either for a way to become an alicorn like you or find a way to render alicorns powerless. Before you leave, check on Wound Dream. That coughing fit didn't sound right. Afizha out… …Nickel again, looks like i managed a tenuous  connection during the time window despite my expectations.  heck yes our interface is loaded with bugs and errors, the bad entry mentioning years was nailed by an error message and i though it would be removed, just a typo on our end with no effect on yours.  as for contacting blackjack, while it is possible to make contact, there is no guarantee of a response and most of what we see from your primary is either from your end in reaction to us or error messages that don't make it to your side.  besides you wouldn't see any of the direct inquires until well after the fact assuming we got anything meaningful in response.  due to the interactive nature of this i doubt that even blackjack knows everything you want to know at this point.  but as usual i'm trusting things to work out with you making your own choices, any story can become boring if you have too much control over it after all, its why my enforcers nearly always took a power loss when it mattered, to prevent an instant solution from nowhere like they could have otherwise, power escalation got a bit insane among those i oversee.  but as a last bit, out of curiosity do you know the spell for the mirror portal?  if so or you can find the original then you may have a way back to your time after this is over with assuming you are still within your same timeline and universe and of course you aren't sent back by another method, time does seem to pass at a much faster rate in equestria as compared to the human world you are connected to at least when the gate is closed anyway… …This is Zen. Here we are faced with quite a conundrum.  This entity, it is implied, possesses considerable knowledge about the circumstances, worldly and otherwise, that you find yourself in.  Considerably more, i think it is fair to say, than any of us.  There is precious little which I can think of which I can tell it which it does not already know.  The only thing, in fact, is myself. So here we are.  But mark you, creature, a peak beneath the mask is all you're getting.  I am Zen.  This is short for Zendrelax, which I initially spelled with an 'x' at the front rather than a 'z,' because I was that sort of youth.  I have used the name Zendrelax in a great many places, and in many regards it has become a piece of myself.  But it is not the name I was born with. I do not know how much you are familiar with these particular circumstances, creature, and I know Twilight is not, so I shall elaborate. The circumstances by which I perceive and comprehend these events is couched in anonymity as a matter of course.  As, in fact, a matter of safety.  I have had it drilled into my skull, metaphorically speaking, that revealing personal details in any circumstances where you are not interacting with them in-the-flesh is a very dangerous thing. But here we are.  Hello, my name is Michael.  It is a distorted form of the question "Who is like God?" in another language, which was the name of the commander of a divine army, the Angelic Hosts of Heaven. It might be transliterated as "Mihail," or "Mikhail" in the script I am using.  My name is one of many variants created by being adapted into multiple different languages, and it is a very common name to give to newborns.  It would be customary for you to share some name in kind, but I will not ask for it. I feel considerable anxiety in this moment.  It is almost antithetical to how things work that I might share my name, even with it being so common, and even with it only being one of the three names which I was ascribed at birth.  and of those three being the least useful in identifying me.  This, Twilight, is why I did not share it with you from the start, even though it rationally makes little sense to feel this way.  I will not be apologizing for it, Twilight, as this is something One Does Not Do.  I hope you understand. Ah, yes, and it would make me deeply uncomfortable for any person now knowledgeable of that portion of my real name to use it to address me, so I would request that I still be addressed as Zen, or perhaps Zendrelax if you like.  I would honestly prefer you spelling either one with an x to addressing me by my real name. Now, entity, I would have my due.  It was a small morsel, but I feel I have explained the weight of a peek behind the mask.  Now, hear me and answer: How and Why was Twilight made to be where and when she is?  And if you lack the capacity to answer, give unto us the means by which we might learn…]

Twilight opened her eyes. "I hope you got something out of that."

The entity paid her no mind, but tingled with excitement from what it heard, sparking with energies Twilight could only describe as purple waves.

"Confusion," it said, "you all have confusion. Curious - it was meant to remove that. The purpose is not as intended... Perhaps you are correct, an exchange of information will accomplish more. You all speak of being unable to inform me of anything... And yet... Your discussions, your mere talks of Primaries, writers, universes, and abominations - that is what I requested. It comes as no surprise to me that the one I have the most questions about is the one you confuse me with - This Sweeper, G. M. Blackjack... The nature of this world in and of itself, and it's place among the apparent many, many others..."

Twilight cocked her head. "You... Want to find Blackjack?"

The entity, once again, didn't dignify her with even paying attention. "I, am not the Sweeper, the Primary, or anything of the sort. I am a being of this world, completely confined by the boundaries of the rules. I am Ine. In many ways, I am just another pawn in this game, like yourselves... The difference being I care not for the insignificants."

"Hey!" Twilight yelled.

Ine swirled around, looking at the Eye. "You know, you weren't even supposed to be here. You were supposed to be something completely different. An answer - not a pack of questions..." Ine moved back, flashing. "As a respectful gesture, I will answer your... questions as I see fit. But I will demand answers. I wish to know as much as possible about this G. M. Blackjack - and what threat it poses to my world as the Sweeper. I wish to know why this Twilight was chosen, why she was deemed the best for the role. And I wish to know of the exact process by which universes like my own are created - and how they opreate."

Twilight blinked - did this Ine really want those things? What point would they serve - Twilight had gotten a taste of it over the last few weeks, and it drove her rather crazy!

"As to your questions... I am indeed related to the other spirits you have seen, Alderan is, in fact, a being of a similar level to mine. That thing in the forest was so far beneath us it is inconsequential. You are, in fact, in the past - the past for the 'being' you are attached to. And as for you, Zen, who is like God... You are the closest - so your question. How the being arrived here... It was not my doing, I am only related to the Eye. A ritual was performed by Alderan at the order of another to bring her here, for a purpose of which I am uncertain. I do not think the reason is important - the flow of information continues regardless of the intention."

Twilight blinked - she was brought here on purpose. By that Alderan - and... someone else. Should she investigate? Could she investigate?

Ine drifted away. "You are the Influence - and you have been given a woefully inadequate tool by which to access this world. But the nature of the ritual insisted that the vessel brought forth would have been your choice - the one best suited. Why is that? I am not sure you know..."

And with that the dream ended. Twilight sat up in bed, a little sweaty, but not panicked. The sun was just barely rising, and Fluttershy was at the window, gazing out into the distance.

"...The dream creature came back. Apparently it's named... Ine." Twilight rubbed her head. "Ow..."

Fluttershy turned around. "Oh! You're awake - good. ...Did you learn anything?"

"Well... Ine really doesn't care about me, thinks I'm... beneath it. Like I'm not important and only the Influence itself is..."

"It may just have a different perspective. Plus, you don't have to listen to it," Fluttershy said.

"...I think I do. It's asking them a lot of quesitons, about how the world works, about Blackjack, about universes..." Twilight sighed. "I... Think I can handle those answers myself, but won't they be a bit... Distracting, I wonder?"

Fluttershy shook her head. "It's not something to worry about."

"It might, Fluttershy - there may be this giant Star out there by the name of Corot that could destory Celestia! Who knows what that'd do?!"

"...I don't know, Twilight. How about we just focus on trying to find our way back home first...?"

"Yeah... To the desert. Have to get out before Infinity finds us - they don't trust her either. Well... Actually Akumakira finds it confusing that we're avoiding her. Uh... Akumakira? It's because I don't know how they'll react to me moving the sun, to me being from the future, to all this mess... Diorite has already shown sucpicion, and... well I don't want to chance it." She walked over to her things, threw on the cloak, and looked at the map. "It's a few hours fly from here - the band - we'll have to prepare for it."

"I think we should to to Wound's place - have her help us get the supplies," Fluttershy said.

"Good idea... I should talk to them first though."

Fluttershy sat down. "Take your time."

Twilight took a breath and looked down at the Witch's Eye. "Well guys, here we are, preparing to set out on the next adventure. Some of you are messing with me, and some of you are trying to help. Thank you for all this trying - but, it's obvious now that Ine is not Blackjack. In fact I think... it? he? she? I... Nevermind - might actually be helpful. I don't think we can trust her - but I think she literally doesn't care about what we care about. Key, Ponygood... Both of you could stand to take a moment and think about your actions. Key, I don't mind what Ponygood told me - it hasn't happened here, and frankly, I've already got death on the mind far too much. Ponygood, you do come across as... Crass. Very crass. And well - I think some of you were having two to three conversations at once? That... Was pretty confusing at times, admittedly. I don't know if that's something you can fix or not..." She frowned. "What are upvotes?"

Fluttershy blinked. "...Voting upwards?"

"...Maybe? I don't know." Twilight shrugged. "There's a lot of weird things going on. And Twinkle? I'm going to call you Twinkle because that's the first thing you said - I had to come up with Glimmer on the spot. I was already using it, so... Yeah. It's here now. Sorry if it's confusing, but you usually call Starlight by, well, 'Starlight.' Shouldn't be too much of an issue. And Zen... Thank you for doing what you do, and being reasonable. Now..." She turned to Fluttershy. "I'm teleporting us to Wound's house. Prepare yourself."

They were gone in a flash - and appeared right inside Woudn's front door. Wound laying on top of a clockwork lizard, sleeping.

Fluttershy blinked. "...She looks tired."

"Clockwork can't be easy," Twilight said. "Hey, uh... Wound?"

Wound woke up like a spring - shooting up into the air elastically, panic in her face. "Not my eyes!"

"Uh..." Twilight said, backing up.

"Oh." Wound Dream relaxed the instant she saw them. "Just you. Okay... Sorry about that, I never get good sleep at all."

"You okay?"

"Eh, side effect of living in a house filled with off-time clockwork machines." Wound Dream shrugged. "...Why are you in my house?"

"Well..." Twilight bit her lip. "We're going to leave town, and we want to do so without Infinity chasing us down."

"Ah. I'll go find Prancey... What do you need?"

"Supplies for a journey, and... Well I think that's it, unless you can think of any other way to prepare us for the desert."

Wound Dream nodded. "Eh, won't be too hard to grab. Might even get it for free..." She walked to the front door, heading out.

"Wound?" Twilight said.


"Thanks. Really, you and Prancey have been really kind."

Wound smiled. "I try. Until then." She left the two mares from another time in her house. They spent the time listening to the tick tick ticking of clockwork.

Twilight took out the map. "There appears to be one large city on the edge of the Bands... Acket. We should probably head there. If we can't cross... It appears there's a pair of border towns, Onyx and Uler, over here. The road into the Lost Desert goes through the Moissan city of... Chrysocholla."

"That looks pretty close to that star there - their capital right?"

"Yeah.... Heildor. I only hope the dogs will let us through their nation." She looked closer at the Moissan nation - there were a few larger cities marked, and a couple points of interest - the Pillar of Lore, the Eternal Mine, Mt Pyre - but it was a lot less detailed than the areas of Peran. The Lost Desert was even worse - besides the band, there were only two places marked - a dot called Fosis, and a big question mark towards the upper end of the map labeled Estur. "Estur..." She frowned - that sounded vaguely familiar.

"Does that mean anything?"

"I don't know..." Twilight checked the map for other question marks - there was another on the complete opposite side of the map, in the southwest sea, labeled Frau. The name didn't sound familiar at all. "Why put a question mark on a map of the known world...?"

Prancey barreled in at that moment, dumping a pair of saddlebags on Fluttershy's back. "You have water, rations, and detailed maps of the bigger cities! Oh, and seventy yuan, just to get you started out there. Consider it payment for the powder you got me!"

Twilight blinked. "That was fast..."

"I'm a fast pony."

Wound Dream appeared in the doorway, panting. "No... Kidding..."

Prancey saluted. "Well, there you are! Off! Off into the night!"

"It's morning, Prancey," Wound said.

Prancey rolled her eyes. "Bah, doesn't matter. Get going you two!"

Twilight smiled. "It was nice to meet you. If I can.. I'll come back to visit. ...Ready Fluttershy?"


Twilight lit her horn - and they teleported to the outskirts of town. Twilight glanced behind them - and saw Diorite floating above the town, looking at them. Fear shot through Twilight - his eyes were narrow, and his expression untrusting. But her fears were put to rest when he nodded, and waved them off.

Twilight waved back with a smile on her face. She removed her cloak, spread her wings, and took to the skies, Fluttershy behind her.

There was no sign of Alderan or Infinity.


They left the plains behind quickly - the grass turned to dirt filled with various shrubs, a few of which moved on their own. They passed a few small towns overhead, a few ponies below noticing them, but not caring. A few dragons were in-flight as well, passing them by without so much as a glance. Most were the lung variety Diorite was - but there were a few interesting variations. One was simply a serpent without wings or limbs, while another had only wings. They varied extremely in size - though none approached the tremendous girth of Dragonlord Torch.

"There!" Fluttershy said, sometime after noon. "I see the desert!"

Twilight turned her head - sure enough, a few miles ahead of them on the horizon was an intense expanse of sand. Twilight saw dune after dune in the dry field, but no structures of any kind - she could see the city of Acket though, a semicircular set of structures, fixed around the edge of the desert itself, only a few long sections stretching into the sands - like a predatory claw tearing into the skin of some sandy beast. Dozens of dragons flew over the towers of Acket, and who knew how many others walked in the streets.

That wasn't their first stop though - they were going to check out the band.

Twilight frowned. "I can't see anything but normal desert..."

"The edge is pretty straight. That's not normal."

"Mmm..." Twilight and Fluttershy set down at the edge of the sand - only then could they see the band. From above, it just looked like another part of the sand dunes. But from the ground...

Twilight gawked. "What in the..."

The sand dunes they saw from above were resting atop of something completely different - a translucent magical forcefield that rippled with colors from blue to purple stood in front of them, several stories high. The field sparked with lights, but was otherwise substanceless, giving the sand the appearance of resting on nothing. Only, the sand wasn't resting - looking from the bottom, Twilight could see the sand particles dancing, rippling, and shifting with ever increasing energies. One sand particle interacted with a sparkling light directly - and transformed into a bolt of blue lightning that shot into the sky, spraying sand everywhere - sand that somehow didn't fall on the side of the band Fluttershy and Twilight were.

"What in..." Twilight took a few steps back. "What is this?"

Fluttershy gave her a 'don't look at me!' look.

Twilight's curiosity beat out her fear rather quickly - she inched closer to the band, looking down. The forcefield went far, far beneath the earth - the ground she was standing on had a sharp, flat edge. Far, far in the depths, she thought she could see complex circuitry, brimming with powerful magics.

"What in Equestria is this? What could it be FOR?" She shook her head. "Bizarre..."

"Now we know why it's dangerous. Random lightning bolts of energy from the ground."

Twilight bit her lip. "I think I could deflect them... But taking you over top with me could be risky..."

"Hmm..." Fluttershy said. Her eyes went wide the moment the Witch's Eye lit up.

"Oh." Twilight took a few steps back from the band and closed her eyes. "Here we go..."