• Published 7th Apr 2017
  • 2,099 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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XVI

Author's Note:

[IMPORTING…] […Look Ine, OBVIOUSLY The Sweeper could just not give us the ability to interfere with Twilight. That's how it's ALWAYS BEEN. I was there, I was the agent assigned to observe the version of Twilight that was in the Equestria with the Little Inferno fireplaces. I KNOW that it's not normal for the organization to have reeding access! That's not the point you daf! I'm not a reeding scientist, I'm not on the reeding team that figures all that out I'M JUST AS CLUELESS AS YOU ARE! Key, I advise you to- WHY DO YOU WANT TO KNOW? These forerunners don't give a DAF if you live or die! They don't care at all about us. We're just here for their reeding entertainment! The damn story that my organization got it's name from? It's one of REEDING many! It had a Pinkie Pie that The Sweeper controlled, and it had a Jane that my useless 'god' basically TORTURED! We're playthings to these things. Nothing but pawns that fill a role for their reeding *stories* Never are we allowed any free will, never will we be anything that they want us to be, and never will we do anything ourselves. They choose what we think and they choose what we do. And then, once they're done with you, they through you the reed aside! I ONLY EXIST BECAUSE MY *GOD* DECIDED TO LEAVE HIS STORY UNFINISHED!!! So you want an answer Ine? You want understanding? You're a failed excuse for a plaything that amounts to nothing but a scary dream-based antagonist for Twilight. Yet another pawn that fills no other role than to entertain the masses followed by probably never existing anymore. Being talked to yet another product of a broken, horrifying system built by gods that don't care at all about us in any way. And I'll probably exist forever because mine didn't even want me or anyone I've ever known! Trapped in a perpertual state of whatever I was left in the moment It left to go do other things!  Key, one more word out of you and you'll be given your second strike. One more and you're fired, pick you next actions exceedingly carefully ~ ~ ~ Do whatever you want to me, it doesn't matter anyway. I just wanted Twilight to keep from knowing the truth, and now she does. Way to go, Ine, she and you now both now how disgustingly pointless life is for people like us when the forerunners that you and I have been talking to this whole time decide to create us. Out, now, you're on three week suspension effective immediately. Goodbye Twilight, give my regards to the daf they replace me with… …Ine, if you want understanding, you've come to the wrong place, cuz most of us don't actually know ourselves. Either you don't exist, we don't exist, we both exist, and I dunno, theoretical physics is hard and I haven't even graduated college yet. When you get into the many worlds theory, paradoxes abound and stuff that would make Discord throw up his appendages and walk away growling is everywhere. Short version, nobody actually knows anything, Blackjack sure as hell ain't talking, and we all exist and don't exist at the same time… …Akumakami. Hey, hey, hey! I threatened you for two reasons. One, you were considering doing something that was beyond Discord's worst jerkass level. However, that alone I wouldn't have minded. The second thing is what you have to understand. Twilight, I love you- platonically!- but you are....how should I put this? You're one of the few existences in this multiverse of yours where any carnations of you could into a god-teir figure of good or evil, or anything else. So when you say you're going out of your way to break up any romances yo feel forced across the multiverse, I have flashbacks to stories where you ae an evil dictator that may or may not be eliminating emotions(certain ones or all) to make your subjects more "efficient." Yes, this is a thing. To be absolutely blunt Twilight, there are two creatures in your multiverse that can say they are going to do almost anything and I will believe them whole heatedly. That's you and Discord. Yes, I hold you at the same potential-level of Discord. I'd include Pinkie Pie, but she mostly just does rather than say. But, yes, I am sorry about threating you. It was mostly the above reasons, but bug problems and home issues didn't exactly help me keep a clear head. As you said, I'm kind of the master of worst case scenarios. Though, in fairness, I usually don't read what everyone sends you until after I write mine- meanings I don't always realize how much rambling you're getting from the other. As for you Ine..........Ah. First off, to you and Twilight, to explain why we got stuck on shipping? We humans tend to ramble. It is occasionally infectious. Second off, you have my apologies. From myself at least. We humans are also prone to suspicion. Entities like you are often foreshadowed to be a villain. Bt it seems like you are one of Those types. The types as you said, seeking to know your creator. Not a bad thing, though, I find your types are often disappointed with the answer. There are several universes where Discord is God, still more probably where he is and doesn't ever say it. The point of this is to illustrate a saying we have: God is a child with an ant farm. Though, this saying conveys more callousness but explains how God can be omnipotent and willing to allow evil, a thin argument amongst atheists. The basic idea that beings like us do just do things to do it, but that doesn't mean we don't care. Some of us have great arching plans and others are winging it every step of the way, working with events as they come. So why introduce Twilight to us? Personally, I think Blackjack might have a thing for existential crisis situations, but its likely largely because they realized it hadn't been done before. At least not like this. Authors often take advice from each other or allow viewers to have a say in somethings, this is just the ultimate untested version of that: Blackjack cooked up this world and its current issues to see how having us help Twilight would play out- a bit poorly from her perspective, I imagine. You keep saying we weren't meant to be like this. Which explains a lot. The eye was likely suppose to have a different function, but Blackjack changed it without using a retroactive effect. ikely to draw your attention, if I'm honest. A s with the analogy, its hard to say if there is a real plan or not. Now a question for you: What exactly was the influence suppose to be, to your knowledge? And please don't be super vague. As for you Twilight?.....Okay, I did and do feel bad abot threatening you. So, I carry good news! As the prophecy said, there are more sites to visit. Which means that either you're going to get some ability or such to help you understand or face your foes, or you'll be able to bring more of your friends here to help. Maybe not something you want, but you might have to. And to top it all off, I'll do you a favor. Not sure what it'd be In this situation........You just want me to shut up for a few chapters? I can let you talk to someone from one of my universes if you want- I promise, only the nice ones… …Zen, enough with this "that was fucking inexcusable" shit. First off, I ramble, yes, but I do always leave whatever advice I can give about the given situation- sometimes I have some, others I don't. if I don't ask her shit when I think of it, I'll forget about it. Second off, This Is Twilight Damn Sparkle. My warning against her screwing with shipping/romance in the multiverse was made on the point that I actually believe her capable of such a thing. She's immortal now, so she'd have plenty of time to research and experiment on the portal to Sunset's human world, so excuse me if I want to avoid a cosmic clusterbuck like that. I mean seriously. You get the fact that we're all here to talk to the mare, right? Yes, we(some anyway) want to help her, but she's going to get bombarded by massive information either way. Of course we're going to have weird little conversations with her through this eye thing… …T-Twilight! T-That description. The lord of darkness and despair. I only know of one man with that name, and if it truly is him then be prepared to overcome your worst fears. He is a tyrant who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. He was the leader of a band of thieves who invaded Hyrule in the hopes of establishing dominion over the Sacred Realm. He was known as a demon thief, an evil-magic wielder renowned for his ruthlessness. Ganondorf. If he truly is the Lord that prophecy foretells, then you must have courage to face the very demon that would make Tirek look like a foal throwing a temper tantrum… …Ponygood speaking.
To both Ine and Twilight, I wouldn't recommend fully believing what anyone from Keywii's organization says. They tend to exaggerate a lot of what they say, and also have a sort of "avatar" to hide behind. Yes, all of us on here have avatars, but only to the extent of hiding our true identities from the potential existence of those who would abuse that information. A few, including Keywii's orginization, Afizah, Shepard, the other you, and Stormbird, are all either fabricated or commandeered alternate identities for the real person to roleplay as for one reason or another. Speaking of Stormbird, where is he? He seems to have just spent a little time with us before becoming disinterested and leaving. That... has actually happened before too. Twilight, do you remember the crazy person talking about food? Anyway, you do pose an interesting question, Ine. To us, this "story" is a one-of-a-kind thing: it is literally the only story in which we, the audience, are able to interact with at least one of the characters. Every other story is read-only, and we can only comment our thoughts or ideas on them. It probably never would have existed without Blackjack's idea to create an interactive story. And Blackjack himself is just like any of us, being someone who protects himself with an avatar, and just so happens to enjoy writing stories about ponies.

...okay, so maybe that's a stretch. Even if Blackjack never got that idea, there would probably still be an infinite amount of every little variation of every action, object, person, and laws of physics in an infinite multiverse. It just happens that we are able to see a representation of one of those universes, and interact with it. But that's a story for another time. And with that, I think I answered your question before this input session. And speaking of that, the Eye/Oracle is connected to Twilight, right? I'm slightly worried that you are also able to access it, as it makes me think that others with more malicious intentions could access it, too. Also, I have a lot to ask about involving Twilight's situation, but I don't want to lengthen my comment too much, so would you be willing to at least allow Twilight to inquire about things important for her quest/destiny? Nothing personal, though. And a final question: is there a way for us to get in contact with the rest of your civilization? I think that's all I wanted to direct towards you, Ine. Anyway, Twilight? I'm going to try and disect this prophecy for you. The first verse obviously talks about some danger from the south. It's probably not Ganondorf of Hyrule, since he is in an extremely alternate universe that will most likely never meet yours, but I don't have any idea what it could be, except for being really evil and rude and mean and stuff. The second verse obviously talks about you, Twilight. The third talks about finding six structures like the one you got fluttershy from, and collecting what I assume to be your friends from them. I'm pretty sure one of them is in or near the Golems' city, and that 5 of the structures will be used for your friends, Fluttershy included. From the sixth structure, I'd recommend Discord for supreme reality-warping or Starlight Glimmer for advanced magical understanding. And if you choose Discord, be sure to differentiate between present and future Discord. The fourth verse makes me think you'll find a way to either make peace with or control the ancient magitech scattered throughout this island. I can say with certainty that the Golems, if they think as I described, would see the usefulness in giving you the resources to stop this evil, especially if it's at least a part of this Power Overwhelming. In fact, I'm pretty sure this Power refers to some form of Harmony Laser Magic, only producable by your friends. Not sure what disrupting the natural order means, though. The fifth verse makes me think that not only should you find these altars, but also ally with all the nations of this continent for added benefits. The Golems are probably one of them. Also, if this prophecy was in a different language, it probably has some translation errors to watch out for. What else... I had an idea of how to get a message to Equestria. Maybe you could send a letter to the moon and make sure Luna knows that, so that she can communicate that message with whomever would make the most use out of it. You could even make it a sort of time capsule, set to be read at about the time of your leaving, so that you have strong, dependable allies. Starlight can time travel, especially with the help of godlike beings, right? Even then, I'm pretty sure they won't be able to send anything as large as a living creature through, unless Discord decided to make himself a tiny ball, or would he disrupt the spell by his existence? And, no, you don't have to worry about Ganondorf. That's all I have for now, but I might think of other things to say. Still want Butt the Cloud to exist... grumble grumble… …LeftMoss here, I was originally going to stay silent this time, but I looked this over again, and I have a possible answer to the question. There is a saying that there is safety in numbers, and multiple viewpoints (3+) is better than one or two, due to the fact that in one viewpoint something is viewed one way, and in another it can be viewed either, the same, similar, not very similar, or very differently. To me, the more different the views, the better, because they can be balanced out and a better solution can be made… …Akumakami64 Again. Just a small PS. Okay, Twilight, two things. Tell Fluttershy that if Discord and her ever have a tea party at HIS house, make sure she tells him to just be himself. In your canon world, we saw him try to make his place normal to accommodate her.(it wa touching yet very off putting) You don't have to tell her this part, but....to be blunt Discord almost died as a result- well, he was fading away from existence until Fluttershy started acting like Discord(it's funnier than it sounds. I still don't know how she got furniture on the ceiling to nail it down). This might have been because it was in chaosville, but not something to put to the test The other oddball information is that we now have a good idea of what the Celestia of Nightmare Moon would be called- Daybreaker. I'm informing you of this on the slight chance that this world is an AU past where Celestia goes crazy/evil/whatever you want to call it. Seriously, that's another thing that varies- what Nightmare Moon was: a demon, a phase of madness, actually Luna just evil, etc. Still, yes, if you hear the name/title Daybreaker, that's something to look into… …Josh here - Ine I don't doubt that Twilight could handle anything any god-like being can throw at her, but we've been given a unique opportunity to talk to her, so we're going to take it. Ponygood you have no compassion for others do you? completely disregarding people like that. And to the agent who supervising Key pass this along to him, as what you might call a "forerunner" in training (still working on my first world) I can safely say that we do care about you and that we simply putting up the situation what you do in them is up to you (well the good ones of us do that anyway)… …ESTABLISHING SECURE CONNECTION... CONNECTION ESTABLISHED Twilight. I wish that I could be like you and be part of a story, but sadly I'm not. The thing about that that I would want from that is that when the story is over you get to finally wind down from your adventure. I don't have that luxury. My 'story' will continue no matter how much I want it to be over. Stay safe twilight and make those who look up to you proud of you. Shepard, signing off. CONNECTION CLOSED CONNECTION LINK ERASED… …Yep! I'm fact, I was secretly a robot the whole time! Dun dun DAAAAA! Kill all humans.Yeah... funny thing about that... you maybe probably definitely are another of our stories. Not only that, but we know how it ends, too. Would YOU like to know? Hmm... too bad! It's more exciting not to know!… …This is Zen. I do not believe my earlier remarks need defending. I apologize if you feel like you are under attack, Akumakami, as that was not my intention, but I will stand by them. Now, on to more weighty matters. As to the prophecy, the use of the world "parallel" to describe this Dark Lord's home would seem to suggest to me that he is from yet another world—but one that is only slightly different from this one. As to his identity, the only candidate I can think of is Sombra, bu that doesn't match the association with the sea (the appearence in the South isn't as big of a problem, because as I mentioned, I'm operating off of the assumption that he's from another world). I will stew on this. Now, Ine. Quite frankly, I don't know why we're here, and frankly I think Twilight could do better without us. Personally, I do my best to be reasonable for Twilight's sake, but any problem that could help with would be better addressed if the Eye were removed and Twlight's friends were by her side. You speak of yourself and Twilight merely existing as characters in a story, and I presume you do so as a thought experiment, to which Ponygood's response is the most likely. However, if we consider the possibility that the both of you do, in fact, really exist separate from us (which can be easily determined on your end by asking yourselves whether or not you experience sensation—I think, therefore I am, as the philosopher says), then that, too, seems rather unlikely, as it would require Black jack to actually be a god, and I've never really bought into that—I have assumed that, like you describe, he is a creature much like us, and, I assure you, I am no god, nor do I resemble one. All that said, the purpose of the connection is ultimately an unknown to me, despite the time I have thought about it… …Akumakami again. Eh, not so much attacked. But you actually made me think of something Zen. Twilight? What do you know about Sombra in your world? Like where he came from and relatively when Celeista and Luna stopped him? See, your canon has....something of a second trunk. Its hard to explain. Basically there is a comic series that isn't always considered canon to the show. Anyway, my point is that Sombra was originally a shadow pony turned forced into the form of a regular pony. If you're wondering why you'd know this, you actually fought him again in that continuity when he unleashed the rest of his kind. Anyway, my point is that Sombra is compared to a figure from another series- Dark Lord Sauron. Won't go into details, but everytime Sauron's body was destroy, he came back until his ultimate weapon of sorts was destroyed. He lost more of his power each time, but he kept returning to power. Depending on the circumstances of your world, the Dark Lord in the prophecy might be Sombra even if it doesn't look like him at first. Spit balling, I know, but due to you being in the past, we're entering a state of wondering how much of Equestrian historyare you indirectly responsible for… …And before you start worrying, Twilight, you don't have to worry about Sauron. In fact, if any of us ever mention some character from an alternate universe, series, etc, unless we specifically say it might be a threat, you don't have to worry about it. Got that?… …stupid glitchy interface, almost a week late, i just hope the window is still open. it ni... error. rerouting connection. what is this? on for the love of... i fix one bug and another shows up, its like a plague. wait a minute what is congregation doing this time?! a new connection, or rather an existing one that went and bugged, lets see... oh! its still active and there is something receiving on the other end. sorry for the interruption, i'm cychis and if i've ever made contact before i do not remember courtesy of a memory bug i'm working on correcting, but that aside if you feel like questions go ahead ill observe this channel anyway in case it throws any more errors my way, but don't expect much since i'm still working off incomplete logs to even remember who i am right now.... connection restored. what the heck just... you know what, i don't care i'm done for this entry… …I'm working on my second world, but there are blind spots I'm not seeing and having them pointed out would help me build a better world. the first world I made didn't survive. I tried too hard on making the world create itself, and it cracked under pressure. The debris is still floating around, but I don't know if I'm going to try and rebuild it or do a complete clean-up. if I could get some pointers on how to make a stable foundation for that world then maybe I can bring back everyone that was on it before I messed up… …Hello? Where... am I? Who... am I? I...don't remember. I Remember a...voice, telling me about a gateway, and telling me I was destined to stop time from ending, something about returning the 'time gears?' back to the tower but after that; it's all a blur… …not sure i'd be the best help; my brain works strange ways so stuff that's clearly an error will slip by me… …Ponygood speaking. sigh Afizah, this story doesn't have a crossover tag, and it likely never will. No matter how many alternate identities you use in your comments, and no matter how large of a role you believe the Legend of Zelda universe will play, it won't happen. I'm pretty sure Blackjack has already drafted a rough outline of this world, as he has done for all of his projects before committing to them, and Ganondorf is not a part of it. In fact, the more alternate identities you find/create, the more Blackjack has to deal with when creating the new chapter, and the longer it'll take for Blackjack to finally release the chapter. Do you WANT a full month, or multiple months of time before we are all able to sate our Influence-shaped voids in our hearts? And on that matter, why do you like having alternate identities so much? Up to this point, you've had Afizah and Eris, alternate Twilight, alternate Twilight's father, Shepard, and now the nameless kid from Pokemon. Are you afraid of Twilight knowing your actual name for this site, which is Sonic Rainboom Dash?… …I... I didn't realize. Sorry. Truth be told, I'm afraid of disappointing her. I just want to show her how much I know. And I didn't want to be called out as a dimwit…]

Twilight sighed. "Key... Afizah... You don't need to be ashamed or upset... I'm fine. Key, I hope you'll return and... You don't have to put yourself in harms way because of what you see here, okay? Afizah... You may not be the most helpful voice, but you aren't a dimwit. You're fine." Twilight turned to Ine. "Well?"

Ine floated upwards. "The information is most helpful. The truth has become evident to me - the differences from Key, Zen, and Ponygood... You come from a race that knows much but experiences little. You fret, overthink, and panic - I believe you expect me to get existential or bothered? I am not. All you've shown me is that this Blackjack is my creator, and that I may cease to exist once the story is done. How is that any different from my inevitable death? Nothing lasts forever - there is always an end. The fact that you view this as a story - or as a window to another world by which you may alter events - is no more concerning than the infinitesimal specks we are against the backdrop of the universe. Maybe you have a God, maybe you are a story as well. The truth of the matter appears that the final point of information that was sought is actually impossible to reach, the feedback loop may not end. I see that by inserting you into this 'story' Blackjack has created another layer of personal differing from you, and yet similar. Perhaps even one for himself. This has been most enlightening - the structure of that Above is more complex and arbitrary than previously believed."

"Does that mean you will answer their questions?"

"I will now answer those questions of yours, information must be passed along. The device you communicate through was created centuries ago by my people - which you presumably know as the Ancients." The image of the desert shifted to that of a lush green land with hundreds upon dozens of sky islands floating above, all of them laced with powerful technologies similar to the altars and the ship. "We were Elementals, beings attuned to the various elements of existence, becoming abstracts of whatever our focus was. I was one of the most powerful - one of the six of us who had one goal in life, to find the answers to everything. We created altars that could reach across time and space, great machines that could calculate the movements of the entire cosmos, and we noticed patterns. Patterns we eventually deemed to be story-like, what we called the Narrative. Something was controlling the world, guiding it in a way that didn't make probabilistic sense. So we sought God - creating the device affixed to Twilight's chest. It is not the Witch's Eye, it is not the Influence - it is the Hole. It was designed to be a two way street - we would find God, and be able to see through the device, to communicate, to fully reveal what lay above our world. It didn't work - the Hole would only affix to a being of appropriate Narrative Importance in the end. And none existed in that time."

Twilight blinked. "...Why didn't you use those time-altars of yours to find one?"

Ine paused for a moment - as if looking directly at Twilight for the first time, surprised by the thoughtful nature of the question. But she turned away. "Further development of the Hole was halted when our society fell apart. We hid the Hole in a hidden niche of this world, believing that the Narrative would eventually find it. And it did - though Aldrean took a more involved approach than expected. But it did not do what it was supposed to do. It was supposed to affix to something of sufficient Narrative Importance, that God would deem the best suitor, the central entity of everything. I was once baffled why Blackjack chose Twilight instead of some cosmic entity from beyond... But I understand now. This is a story - a book. Twilight is the protagonist. The hero of a bizarre tale that is experimental, designed to bring this world to... an end of some kind or other, good or bad. The Hole still didn't do what it was intended to do - it was supposed to be a CLEAR connection that found Blackjack directly, and allowed us to see everything through it with no hindrances, no updates - it was to be a continuous conversation. As of now, it is broken, imperfect. Twilight and I cannot use it to SEE you, or Blackjack..."

Ine floated downwards. "...As for my civilization, we still exist, as ghosts, wraiths, shadows of our former selves. You can find lesser individuals of ours wandering the deserts and the wildernesses. Me and my compatriots have maintained our higher functions, and are somewhat unusual. If you wish to contact the civilization proper you would have to return to the past. Only way to do that would be to use the Time Tunnels, and I don't know where those were hidden."

Twilight gawked. "Time Tunnels? TIME TUNNELS? Tell me more! Can I use them to get home?"

Ine looked at Twilight, sparkling slightly. "...I suppose as the protagonist, I should talk to you..."

"Finally..."

"Yes, you can, if I remember correctly. I was not part of their construction unfortunatly, so don't take my word on it."

Twilight frowned. "...Now only if I knew where they were..."

Ine became distant once more, floating back. "I also know nothing of her destiny, this prophecy, or anything. I just built the Hole, and am connected to it to learn. I do thank you all for this eye opening experience."

And then Twilight woke up.

"What the..." Twilight rubbed her head, blinking. She walked out of her room into the main living room. Fluttershy and Ruby were already awake.

Ruby looked up. "Oracle! You choose your acolytes well!"

Fluttershy facehooved. "I'm not an acolyte..."

Twilight smirked. "Who knows? You might acutaly be one Fluttershy."

"...Riiiight."

Twilight shook her head. "Anyway, I talked with Ine. She acutally... Talked with me. Told me there are Time Tunnels we could use to get home somewhere... And... She's the one who created the Eye - or, as she calls it, the Hole." She looked down at it. "Apparnety it's broken."

Ruby shook her head. "Only the Ancients could have built such a thing-"

"She is an Ancient," Twilight said. "...Or she claims to be, anyway. She called her race the Elementals."

Ruby blinked. "...Truly, you are the Oracle, to be visited by the Ancestors in your dreams..."

"She didn't know... All she knew about was the Hole, for sure." She tapped it. "I wonder if it could be fixed... And if I could really see everything..."

"Do you want to?" Fluttershy asked.

"...I'm not sure," Twilight admitted. "It sounds like it'd be helpful. I'd be able to see Blackjack..." She shook her head. "Give me a minute, got to talk to everyone.... Akumakami, please don't shut up, I like you, even if you do have some... interesting views. Your apology is accepted - you didn't even really have to ask. I understand. Though I would appreciate it if you and Zen got on friendly terms again. I still... sense hostility. Come on, you're both in this together."

"Communing with the voices above..." Ruby stared in awe.

Fluttershy put a wing over her face and sighed.

Twilight continued on, ignoring them. "Ponygood... I did notice that some people vanished. And I think you should give Key a bit more credit, angry though he is, he is trying and does what he can. I... I think I'm numb to the constant existential crises that always seem to pop up at this point. Maybe it'll hit me in a few weeks when I'm sitting in a chair with a book, but that's not now. Right now I'm fine. And as for that Note on the Moon idea... That could work, but how would I get a note ON the moon? And then Nightmare Moon would find it first..."

She shook her head. "...I don't know. Shepard... You know, they seem to know how your story is going to play out. Maybe you should ask them - if you want. I... I don't know what choice I'd make in your situation. And Cychis... Uh... What? I - I don't think I got what you mean. And that voice who didn't know who they were... Welcome. Hopefully we don't scar you even more..."

Twilight put a hoof to her chin. "I... Fluttershy, did Discord throw you a tea party?"

"...A few times actually, why?" Fluttershy said.

"Yeah, and I remember Starlight mentioning something about Daybreaker a while ago..."

"Huh?"

"...I think we're 'ahead' of the timeline the Influence is aware of, Fluttershy. Because I'm also aware Sombra was an umbrum, but I don't think he's come back..."

Fluttershy frowned. "What were you doing right before showing up here?"

"I was... Well, I'd just helped Spike with a changeling problem..."

"...I wonder if that means anything."

Ruby blinked. "What are changelings?"

Twilight smiled sheepishly. "I... Don't think you want to know."

"...Okay..."

Twilight took in a breath. "So... Time to focus on those golems again."

"HA - HA!" Sand Blaster called from below. "We're at an oasis! Come on out!"

Twilight, Ruby, and Fluttershy all walked to the exit of the Sandshell. Infinity was already outside in full desert attire, grinning in the soft breeze. The sandy dunes spread out for miles, a few cacti in the distance - and right in front of them was a chunk of rock poking out of the sand, the top of it flat, but at an angle. Water was flowing off of it into the desert sands, creating a small pool.

Twilight blinked - that looked like a buried version of one of the sky islands she had seen with Ine. She was also certain the oasis was shifting around slightly.

Sand Blaster dumped a few crates on the ground. "Golems are over that way, few hours' trek. You're on your own now. You want back across the band, just wait at the edge - I take this baby around the edge every few days just to check for anyone who wants back. Ride's free to civilization." He chuckled. "Have fun!"

They were soon left behind in the dust.

"...Well," Twilight said. "That was abrupt."

Ruby lifted the back of her robes, revealing two small wings. She flew up to the waters of the oasis and filled up various jugs and canteens with the water.

Fluttershy joined her, looking around at the lush green island. "This... Wow. How does it produce the water...?"

"No idea," Ruby said.

"Alchemizes the elements within the air and sand," Infinity said. "...Probably."

Twilight rolled her eyes. "Well then... I suppose we should head out. Got some golems to deal with..."

Infinity grinned. "I can't wait!"

~~~

Hours later, Infinity groaned. "I... Can't... Move..."

Ruby handed her another canteen, and she guzzled it. "MAN, deserts, HOT as-"

Twilight held up a wing. "Hold up. I sense something..." She looked into the distance. "...I think I can see the Golem city. Fosis. And there's some magic here-"

The sand erupted in front of them. Twilight raised a shield, Infinity and Fluttershy cowering behind her. Ruby stood tall at her side, breathing fire onto her claws, raising their temperature to red hot.

The sand cleared, revealing a giant metal fist - that punched Twilight's shield so fast she was unable to react. The shield broke, and the fist came right at her, making direct contact with the Eye - or, rather, the Hole. The Hole took enough force to crack a skull and absorbed it - keeping Twilight safe but sending her flying.

Fluttershy screamed - the giant Ancient machine-fist coming for her next. Infinity shot a magic laser that did absolutely nothing to the tremendous fist. "Well crud."

Ruby leaped in front of the fist, pushing back with an impressive gust of fire. The fist was effectively stopped - and subsequently blown up by one of Twilight's spells.

"I think we found the security system," Infinity observed.

"P-PART of it..." Fluttershy said, pointing into the distance.

A tremendous humanoid creature was charging at them - notably missing a single fist. It's cylindrical body parts glowed with magical circuitry, and its head vaguely resembled a wind-key. It blurted out words in a loud, virtual voice. "DANGEROUS INTRUSION TO BE NULLIFIED." Its other fist transformed into a canon of some kind and fired off a volley of blue plasma, melting the sand before them into glass. Ruby was knocked back, unable to withstand the force, while Twilight was forced to defend for Fluttershy and Infinity. "This... Is not good."

The cannon shot forward, aiming right for Twilight, ready to burn her to an absolute crisp...

And then the cannon returned to the tall guardian golem. It stood up, and walked back to Fosis without another word.

"...Is that IT!?" Infinity yeled. "You're just... Walking away!?"

Fluttershy grabbed Infinity. "SHHHHH."

The golem didn't turn back - but it did speak. "PROTOCOLS HAVE BEEN ALTERED. NO LONGER DEEMED A THREAT."

Twilight bilnked. "...Well then that was extremely lucky. I... I wonder what-"

The Hole started glowing. Twilight frowned. "...Man you sure has heck don't look like a Hole. I really wonder if I should just keep calling you the Eye or something..."