• 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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XLIV

Twilence held up a hoof. "Wait, Orchid, there's a lot to go through here." She read through the messages - skimming, but somehow seeing what was important anyway. Handy feature, that.

Her grimace kept growing the more she read. And then, suddenly, a laugh. "Vriska, you'll appreciate this." She played the audio file of Zen's video.

"Somebody better pick up that phone... Because I fucking called it!"

Fluttershy facehooved and Vriska chuckled. "I like him. Zen, you get points."

"Anyway... Thank you, all of you in the Influence, for bringing ideas. But I know EXACTLY what we forgot." She turned to her friends. "There is STILL a Star Cult active that is going to try to summon Corot. Summoning Corot at the altar was apparently an evil backup plan. It shouldn't be too difficult to take care of them with enough firepower - but you probably need to get there fast. So, Vriska, Aradia, after we're done here, that's where you're going."

"Whatever you say boss-lady!" Vriska mockingly saluted.

Twilence rolled her eyes. "RIght. Now, Mite, can you contact the Golems?"

"Maybe."

"Maybe? Is that a yes or no?"

"They might not listen is what he's saying," Orchid offered.

"Ah. Well try anyway, tell them to see if they can help fight Siron. I know they're fighting with Heildor right now but... Well maybe they could drag them into it as well?"

"Attempting," Mite said.

"Good. Though Motherboard is apparently an alternate universe version of M, and M is apparently a bit of a jerk... We'll just have to see."

Orchid rolled her eyes. "Golems ain't the angels you pretend they are."

"Sure. Creek, you have no idea how glad I am that you're back. I... I was really worried something was going wrong or was going to go wrong. But I think we have it under some level of control now. I knew a lot of that from Ponygood, but... Well you have more info now, that's good, and you're okay. And... I was trying to send you the link to what I think is the Spheres forum. Apparently, you aren't allowed to see it either..." She turned to Orchid. "What's with Starlight?"

Orchid glanced at the door. "If I put the spirits in now, she will appear in that instant. If you suggest we wait, we will, and she'll appear in the instant again."

"Where?"

"...Right there."

Twilence nodded. "Here's the plan. I'm going to hug her."

Vriska did a spit-take. "What the fuck?"

"Vriska, sometimes all you need is a hug. If she tries to kill me, you can kill her. I recommend taking all her luck. I... I don't want to kill her."

Vriska narrowed her eyes. "...Fine."

Infinity shivered. "This... Hooo this is a big moment. Mite, are you able to get inside the door?"

"Negative."

"Well... Guess we have to open it then."

Orchid nodded, producing the six souls. A grimace crossed her face. "...Sorry."

Twilence's eyes widened. "Orchid wai-"

Orchid slammed the six orbs of energy into the door. The colors of white, black, red, purple, blue, and green coursed through the lines on the door.

Everyone heard screams of agony and death come from the door.

Twilence paled. The spirits were being consumed. And Orchid had known this. And she'd been sorry about it. But she'd done it anyway.

She pushed the thoughts away - she was mad, yes, but she had other things to look at now. Starlight appeared in a flash of blue time magic right next to her, murder in her blue eyes.

Twilence embraced her and the murder vanished in an instant. Her pupils shrunk to pinpricks and her jaw hung slack. The light in her horn went out - she stood like a statue. She didn't even blink. Tears flowed out of her eyes freely.

Twilence was ready to create a magic shield if one was needed, but even Vriska could see Starlight's tears were genuine. The troll stood down. Nobody cared about the scan that came out of the door and approved them all.

Starlight, finally, hugged back. "Why... Why do you have to be this way?"

"Because that's my job. Where I'm from I'm the Princess of Friendship." She laughed. "If I didn't understand ponies, well then I'd be doing something wrong."

"...Where I'm from I'm the grand technologist..." Starlight said. "I spend all my time trying to bring new inventions to the world... Trying to push the boundaries..." She choked. "It was a happy world."

Twilence's eyes became sad. "...So was mine. ...What brought about your world?"

"Siron won," Starlight said. "...Then we fought back and defeated him. We used what he had 'built' to become more powerful than ever before..." She looked into the distance. "Sometimes suffering breeds strength."

Twilence sighed. "I'm... I'm sorry, we can't just stand by and let Siron win. He's our enemy."

"I know. That's why you're not supposed to act like this! You're my enemy!"

Twilence chuckled. "We... We're all just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Starlight sighed. "An eternal state of being..."

"Yeah. It is, isn't it?" Twilence paused. "...Care to come in with us? I... I don't think we can let your future take place. But who knows what lies behind these doors."

"Nobody," Starlight said, standing up on her own four legs. "O... Okay. Let's... Try this."

Fluttershy rushed her into a hug as well. "I'm sorry we can't do anything for you!"

Starlight blinked. "...Why?"

"I... I really wanted you to have a home. Everypony deserves one. Everypony."

Starlight shook her head. "Yeah, I do. But it looks like I'm not getting one."

"I - well I could let you stay in mine. There'll probably be another Starlight but..."

Starlight smiled softly. "That's assuming we can get your time back."

"...Yeah."

Twilence nodded slowly. "Yes. It might not be possible. But we're going to try." They entered the Time Tunnels.

For whatever reason Twilence thought the phrase "Achievement Get: Diplomat. Deal with Starlight without violence."

That made her uneasy and she didn't know why.

"Vriska, Aradia, cult. Now."

Vriska gave a thumbs up - and the two of them vanished into time.

Twilence, Fluttershy, Infinity, Orchid, Mite, and Starlight entered the Time Tunnels. Twilence turned to Orchid. "You killed them. All six of them."

"There was no other way into the Time Tunnels. And we need what's in here."

Twilence bristled - she knew there had been another way into the Time Tunnels, but that that path had lied with Lore Thirst. Now, Orchid was right. Extinguishing the spirits was the only way. "That doesn't absolve you."

"Of course not," Orchid said. "There's a reason I try to distance myself, Twilence. It's so when I do things like that I don't become compromised." She shot Twilence a tear-filled gaze. "Do you realize what you've done to me?!"

"Kept you from being a monster," Twilence said. "...I would have had to Dethrone you had you not."

"I... I..." Orchid sighed. "Right... Well, I'm useless now, more or less. I can see the future really well but I have no spirit powers. So I can dodge and stuff but... Well, let's just say things have been unpredictable lately."

Twilence shook her head. "Orchid..."

"I'm trying to cope, okay? I need to cope quickly. We're on a timetable, even with Aradia's time shenanigans. Mite, what do you have?"

"Dimensional."

Twilence blinked. "...Wait, I thought these were the Time Tunnels?"

"Yes."

"They can do dimensions as well?"

"Yeeeeeees."

"I guess Creek wanted to know about a dimensional portal... Looks like we're going to find one."

The group came out of a hallway into a tremendously large room. On all sides of the spherical chamber were mirrors that showed reflections that seemed slightly... off. Walkways lined the edge of the sphere, with six jutting paths that led to the center, where a series of complex controls surrounded a white glowing pillar. It shifted in and out of focus, the energy from it flowing down into the floor. A stairway led down.

"...What's this?"

"Temporal."

"What's down the stairs?"

"Apocrypha."

Twilence's eyes widened. "...The thing that can remove anything from all of time?"

"Affirmative."

Infinity raised a hoof. "I bet that's our weapon we can use to defeat the Dark Lord. The... 'power overwhelming'."

"...Negative?" Mite said, sounding confused.

"What else could it be?"

"Control." A few buttons on the console lit up. A holographic representation of the world appeared - and Twilence watched as the band itself rose from the desert.

"...Mite, what is the Band?" Twilence asked.

"Overwhelming."

"...How big of a scale are we talking?"

"Continental."

Twilence paled. "I... I see."

Orchid glanced at her. "You know what this means?"

Twilence looked at the Eye. "The reason that, in my future, I've heard of no Peran... Is because it was wiped off the face of the planet a thousand years ago."

Orchid nodded. "We have to use this thing to ensure your future."

Twilence shook her head. "Last resort only, Orchid. We're not letting Starlight have her future, we... we can't be hypocrites." She gulped.

Starlight stared at her in disbelief. "You... You're really giving your time up?"

Twilence glanced at Fluttershy. Fluttershy nodded slowly. Twilence turned to Starlight and put on a pained smile. "We... Yeah, we are. Unless of course, we can't defeat Siron without it. But something tells me if we use the Apocrypha right..."

"Time will change again," Infinity said. "If Siron never existed, well, how would the world we are standing in NOW fare?"

Twilence facehooved. "Why is this always so difficult..."

"Dimensional," Mite said.

"Oh yeah, we can access other dimensions." Twilence frowned. "I... I'm really not sure what to do here. We have access to 'power overwhelming' but we really don't want to use any of it now that we've found it. How wonderful..." She sighed. "I'm going to check in on the others, give me a second."

~~~

Tartarus was dark. Pinkie turned to Evanescence. "I assume we already have a defensive posture and some stealthy scouts sent out?"

"Yes. ...Why?"

"The Influence wants to make sure. We gotta be extra careful not to release anything into the surface world. Siron may be the biggest bad but there are plenty of other baddies in here! Gotta stay focused!"

"Of course."

"Now... can I give a motivational speech?"

Rarity facehooved. "Pinkie..."

"Oh come on, I can totally do it!"

Aradia shrugged. "I don't see why not."

"Because some of the troops have already been sent out," Evanescence muttered. "There's not going to be anyone listening."

"Aw, poo. I had a good one!" Pinkie said, shrugging. "Oh well." She drew her frying pan. "Which way?"

Evanescence gave her a copy of the map. "There you go."

"Righty-O!" She charged alongside hundreds of other dragons and ponies. She lost track of Rarity quickly - but she always saw Aradia. Probably because there were several hundred of her right now. That troll knew how to fight a war with time.

The army moved without resistance for a very long time. They saw a few Tartarus guardians - not Cerberus, but there was a giant Oroburos creature that saw them and nodded ever so approvingly in their direction before floating off somewhere else.

The guardians of Tartarus had one job - keep the inmates from escaping. They were beings of great power ranging from three-headed dogs to circular reptiles to spirits of power itself. Pinkie had no idea where they'd come from. She just knew Siron was going to dupe them.

But then the forces of Tartarus ambushed them. Demonic presences of all shapes and sizes attacked. Black formless things alongside piles of amorphous flesh. Dinosaurs alongside ancient pony necromancers. Psychic attacks coming from beings currently chained up, but still angry.

The Oroburos came to the army's aid, deflecting some of the larger enemies, ones whose size could not be comprehended by mortal minds, or those whose shapes inspired madness. But it could only take care of so many - the rest got through, and the fighting began. Rampant death was everywhere, and they would have been crushed very quickly.

But Rarity was well versed in raising people from the dead and not dying herself. The army surged back from a pile of corpses and responded. Dragons took on dinosaurs, mages took on demonic things, and Aradia took care of any troublesome abilities by freezing their users in time. She had actually drawn her whip and had a serious expression on her face. It occurred to Pinkie that Aradia wasn't really a fighter, not really. She has psychic powers, time powers, and a whip. She usually solved her encounters other ways...

...But she could sure as heck enjoy a good fight.

After all, death was beautiful.

Pinkie shivered - those smiles on the Aradias. They were creepy.

She dipped her frying pan in some of the blood and summoned one of her own demons - a snowflake creature that went through and froze several organ creatures. She leaped into a creature's mouth and tossed a party bomb inside. The explosion was both disgusting and satisfying.

Pinkie ended up near Evanescence. "Woo!"

"We can't keep this up," the unicorn said, blasting a three-winged eyeball from the sky. "They're far too organized. Siron's working on them. Commanding them."

Pinkie gulped. "Well... There may be help coming."

"...How so?"

And then a Golem ship appeared in the sky with a sonic boom. Several others appeared as well.

Evanescence grimaced. "Great. Orchid's friends..."

Pinkie rolled her eyes. "Get over it, we need them."

And then a few dozen yellow crystals appeared behind them. Evanescence paled. "...Heildor..."

One of the golem ships produced a loudspeaker.

"CRYSTALS OF HEILDOR, LET US CEASEFIRE AND FOCUS ON THE LARGER ENEMY. THE DEMONS OF TARTARUS AND SIRON ARE A GREATER THREAT THAN ANYTHING ELSE. WE CAN RESUME OUR WAR AT A LATER DATE."

The yellow crystals formed into a strange circular portal, through which what could only be the voice of Heildor itself rang out.

<I would have to be an idiot to refuse. I'm aware enough to know there's something bigger going on here. You have my aid.>

And then the ships and crystals started raining down mass destruction on the demons of Tartarus. Pinkie whooped. "Yeah!"

And then Pinkie was somewhere else. She blinked - she was sure she hadn't Translated. Something had grabbed her...

She was standing on a flat, rocky outcropping, a place where Tartarus prisoners were to be imprisoned. There were no chains here either, only a single, unassuming inhabitant. He was buglike - four arms, two legs, red carapice. He held a staff in one hand and looked at Pinkie with his four eye slits on his flat face. It was impossible to see an expression.

"Siron," Pinkie said.

"Pinkie," Siron said, sitting on the ground, drawing in the dirt.

Pinkie raised an eyebrow. "Why am I here?"

"Because you're the curious one," Siron said, looking out in the distance. The explosions of the war could be seen in the darkness, approaching their current location.

Pinkie hefted her pan. "I could take you out right now."

"You couldn't. There's a reason Tartarus was created for me. Damn hard to kill. I'm like a cockroach mixed with a flea and an extremophile."

"Instant death frying pan."

Siron chuckled. "Well, you want to play a game with that Frying pan then? Hit me. If I die, well, you have your reward. If I don't, then I get to hit you with it."

"No deal."

Siron pointed a finger at Pinkie, and her mind felt numb. "What was that?"

"No... Deal..."

"My, you have one of the strongest minds I have ever seen!" He pointed three hands at Pinkie. "I want to play a game, Pinkie. Do you accept?"

"N... No..."

"All you have to do is hit me with the frying pan." His hands became fists - Pinkie's brain started throbbing. "Come on."

Pinkie dropped the frying pan and punched him in the face with her hoof. "NO!"

Siron laughed. "I could probably condition you eventually. But, oh, look at this..." He levitated the frying pan into his hand. "Look what I have."

Pinkie twitched. Suddenly the frying pan was back in her hooves. She stuck it in her mane.

"...Ah, ladies and gentlemen, we have a cheater."

"I never agreed to the game in the first place, silly."

Siron laughed. "No, you didn't." He sat down again and cracked his neck. "Well, guess we'll just sit here and see what happens. Quite the impressive army you got there. Golems, ponies, dragons, dogs, crystals... Didn't expect that much." He chuckled. "I wonder how difficult it'd be to control that Aradia..."

Pinkie narrowed her eyes. "I won't let you."

"You have power, that is true. But you do not have enough po-"

Pinkie rushed Sion, touching his hand. They vanished in a puff of confetti, appearing in a field of wheat. Pinkie cackled. "Woo! I beat him! Go Pinkie! Go Pinkie!"

Siron blinked. "What did you do?"

"Translated! Welcome to another world! Nothing exists here but this field of wheat and a road I made a while ago. You're now sealed even further away than Tartarus! Who's the Pinkie, I'm the Pinkie, who's the Pinkie, I'm the Pinkie!"

Siron twitched. "...You can't Translate back right away."

"Ah, no, of course no-"

Suddenly Siron's hand was through her chest. Blood was pouring out everywhere.

Siron shivered. "You've managed to make me upset, Pinkie. What a dumb move. I have a new game..."

~~~

Vriska and Aradia arrived at the central room of the Cult. There were a few dozen cultists performing a ritual, to absolutely no one's surprise. Vriska was prepared to cut all their heads clean off.

Then Siron-Vriska showed up and pierced Aradia through the heart. "There we go... Heroic death, right? Trying to stop a cult from summoning a star-god."

Aradia looked at her. "H.. G..."

"I know you have copies, don't look so betrayed." Siron-Vriska tossed her to the side, turning to her other self. "Well, this is interesting."

"You're dead," Vriska said.

Siron-Vriska sighed. "I'd much rather not be. And I have an advantage over you." She coated herself in blood.

Vriska produced the infinite-sided die. "You think you have an advantage?"

"There's no way you have enough luck to use that effectively."

"There's no way you have enough luck either. I'm stealing it."

"Oh how curious! I'm doing the same to you!"

"Looks like when two Thieves of Light face each other... Luck is no longer part of the equation."

They both drew their swords and clashed, wings flying like mad. Neither could land a blow on the other. They both flew back at the same time, summoned their dice, and threw them to the ground. Both of their sets produced a machine that shot dozens of arrows, every last arrow meeting an opposing arrow and shattering.

"...This is ridiculous," Vriska said.

"No doubt!" Siron-Vriska agreed. "You have to admit, it is kinda fun."

"Eh, yeah. Fuck it." She took out the infinite-sided die and rolled. A rubber duck shot out and hit Siron-Vriska in the face.

Siron-Vriska laughed - giving Vriska an opportunity to stab her. The wound, while impressive, wasn't lethal because of a certain amount of blood magic being used to heal it.

"Hey! Not fucking fair!"

Siron-Vriska stabbed Vriska in the arm. "Totally fair. You had the rubber duck."

"Fuck you!"

"Oh, but of course." Siron-Vriska threw Vriska to the ground. "I know you can't die. If you die the timeline becomes doomed or something because the Tower likes you, for whatever reason. But you've suffered more blood loss than this and lived."

"I... Died that day..."

"And ascended to godhood. Plus, this isn't that bad of a wound. You won't bleed out. Just sit there while they summon a dark star god. Frankly, I'd rather they didn't but it's not like you can do anything to stop it."

"...Are you giving me hints?"

"Good Siron no I-" She grabbed her head. "Well, Siron's upset now, hold on a sec..."

Vriska smirked. "Thank you." She tossed her sword towards the cult instead of Siron-Vriska, severing a cult member's head and spilling blood all over the magic circle. Another cult member screamed. "THE RITUAL IS RUINED!"

Vriska grinned. "You bet your sorry asses it is. Corot ain't comin' to town. Not anymore."

Siron-Vriska shrugged. "And now Siron wants me to brutalize you. So..." Something made her twitch. "Wait, where is-"

Vriska stabbed her in the chest and tore her chest wide open. "Gotcha. Mind-control tends to scramble the brians."

Siron-Vriska stared at Vriska with betrayal. "He... He was gone..."

"Yeah, right, what are the chances he was just randomly teleported to another world?"

"...Fuck you..." Siron-Vriska said, experiencing a very Just death.

Vriska looked away from the sight of her own body and turned to the cult. "Okay, so, who wants to go next and who wants to renounce Siron? Tick tock!"

~~~

Twilence came back to herself, eyes wide. "Vriska won, but Pinkie... Pinkie's in serious danger we need to-"

"Twilence!" Starlight yelled. "I have to tell you something!"

"What?"

"I don't care if this causes a paradox but - I've already been in here! A past version of me! I'm going to show up and screw with the controls! You've got to stop me from doing-"

And then another version of Starlight appeared in the room, right on top of the controls. She cast a single spell.

"Crud," Mite said.

The Dimensional aspect of the time tunnels activated, creating a shimmering white portal.

Something very pink and red was thrown out of it. The form landed on the walkway with a sickening crunch.

Twilight's pupils shrunk to almost nothing. "...P...Pinkie?"

Pinkie didn't move.

Siron did. He walked out of the portal, laughing. The past version of Starlight had already left. The present version was crying.

Siron snarked. "I expect your Influence is about to call. Don't worry, I'll wait."

Twilence backed into a wall, receiving the first of the imports...

[POSSIBLE ENDINGS]
Bittersweet
Warmonger
Steam
Rebuilder
Forgotten
Adrift
Coward
Predetermined
Insanity

LOST ENDINGS:
Grimdark
Supernova
Tattletale
Earned

Twilence gulped. She had no idea what to do. She wasn't sure the Influence would know what to do. She knew Siron really was going to wait though.

This was his game.

...Pinkie...

~~~

Aradia frowned. The demon army had lost cohesion there for a second - but then the cohesion had returned. And they were suddenly fighting more viciously - and laughing more.

Something was very, very wrong.

She looked around - she couldn't find Pinkie. None of the others could find her either.

"I'm sure she's fine, dear," Rarity has said. Her expression said she didn't believe a word she was saying.

Aradia frowned - and returned to keeping weird demons in check.

She wasn't sure if the war was a good idea or not anymore, but she did know she was going to enjoy it while it lasted. Despite the foreboding feeling of doom.