• Published 7th Jul 2017
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My Little Academia: Friendship is Heroic! - Fullmetal Pony



Twilight Sparkle wants to be a hero. She didn't expect the most powerful hero in Equestria to lend her a hoof. She's now set on the path of legends, but it's not going to be an easy one. My Hero Academia Crossover

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Training and a New Friend

Hoofenbacker returned to Twilight’s house a few days later.

“Good morning!” he exclaimed when Velvet opened the door.

Twilight zoomed over to the door. She trembled with excitement. “Are we going? Are we starting?”

Placing a hoof on Twilight’s head to keep her stead, he said, “Yes, yes.”

“Now…” Hoofenbacker turned toward Velvet. “Before ve begin, vould you like a tour of ze facilities?”

“Well, that does save me time asking Shining to check into it,” said Velvet.

“Ah yes, your son, ze knight.” Hoofenbacker raised her eyes. “Quite odd how magic and genetics work, no?”

“Shall we get going?” Velvet asked.

“Ah, yes, of course.” Hoofenbacker spun around. “Come along zen.”

Velvet furrowed a brow. “No chariot?”

“I considered requesting one, but I was told valking vould be best,” Hoofenbacker answered. “Besides, I spend so much time in ze lab, a little morning air is good for me.”

Twilight stifled a giggle. Princess, you really like playing this role, don’t you?

Hoofenbacker did not respond.

Twilight’s ears drooped. Darn, I’d heard telepathy is an advanced spell, but I thought it was easier once a link is formed. I still have a lot to learn… Twilight grinned. But I’m learning with Princess Celestia! I’m learning with Princess Celestia!

Velvet broke Twilight out of her reverie. “Twilight, I know you’re happy, but other ponies are staring.”

Twilight realized that, in her excitement, she had risen up onto her hind legs and was pawing at the air, like a cat that had gotten one too many snips of catnip. Nearby, a couple left their cappuccinos floating by their muzzles to ponder what in Equestria Twilight was doing. When her eyes met theirs, they quickly returned to their drinks. The stallion raised up the paper to cover his face. Blushing, Twilight sank back down to four hooves.

“You are very enthusiastic, little pony, but you vill need focus for today,” said Hoofenbacker.

Right, thought Twilight. This could be on the level with Shining’s training, or even worse. Don’t worry, Princess Celestia, I’ve been practicing on my own too! I’m ready for anything!

~~~

A bit of sweat trailed down a yellow filly’s muzzle. Her horn sparked and fizzled. Just ahead of her floated a small wooden cube, but the spell holding it aloft flickered every couple of seconds. With each flicker, gravity plummeted the cube to the floor. The filly gave a huff, and her horn and the cube lit up once more, a fizzling spell tugging the cube back into the air.

Twilight watched the filly struggle with the spell from behind a pane of one-sided glass. Glancing down the hallway showed more rooms with windows. Ponies in lab coats went in and out of the rooms with fillies and colts in tow. Sweat collected on Twilight’s brow. She turned to Hoofenbacker.

Um, Princess Celestia? This seems more like Magic Kindergarten than training for the entrance exam.

“So,” Hoofenbacker said to Velvet. “As you can see, ve have both individual training stations and a group area. Ve chart our students’ progress and use it for our research, but as you saw in the contract, ve always ask for additional consent for anything more invasive.”

Velvet smiled. “Well, everything here seems fine then. She’ll be done by 5:30?”

“Normally,” Hoofenbacker answered. “Ve may run a little late today since it iz Twilight’s first day, but ve vill contact you if it looks ve vill run over an hour.”

Velvet nodded. She then bent down and pulled Twilight in for a nuzzle. “You be good today, Twilight. Some of this stuff may seem simple now, but don’t push yourself, okay?”

“Um…” Twilight glanced at Hoofenbacker, who smiled. “Yes, of course.”

“You’ll do great.” Velvet nuzzled Twilight again and then pulled back. “Tell me how everything goes tonight.”

Velvet turned and made her way back to the exit.

Once she was out of sight, Twilight turned toward Hoofenbacker. When she saw that he was pressed up against a wall and gasping for breath, she blinked. Braced against the wall as Hoofenbacker was, his lab coat was askew, revealing a bubbling beaker overlapped diagonally with a unicorn horn on his flanks.

“Oh,” he moaned, “thank Equestria I’ve done zat spiel so many times. Your highness, please do not ask zat of me again.”

A now-familiar warmth flowed from behind Twilight.

“I doubt I will,” said Celestia. “But you did fine, Professor.”

Going into a blinding twirl, Twilight faced Celestia. Her neck twisted back and forth, taking in Celestia and Hoofenbacker standing behind and in front of her. Celestia could not resist letting out a small chuckle at Twilight’s confusion.

“But I… you…” Twilight jabbed in Hoofenbacker's direction. “Him!”

“Forgive the slight duplicity,” said Celestia. “Professor Hoofenbacker here was kind enough to let me use him for my doppelganger spell, but I needed to conserve my magic for our training today.”

“Then, this place is real?” asked Twilight.

“I would find the paperwork, illusion spells, and guards in costumes more of a hassle than just telling your family you’re working with a program we already have in place. Plus, as a knight, you brother has access to enough resources to get curious if something seemed off.”

“And the fillies and colts?”

“All suffering from some form of disability that inhibits their magic.” Celestia looked through the panel to her right at the yellow filly. She had managed to move the block across the room and had deposited it within a red circle. Although the filly could not see her, Celestia smiled. “They are still trying their best though, and Hoofenbacker and his staff ensure they get the care they need.”

“Please, Princess.” Hoofenbacker waved a hoof. “We could not give such care without your patronage or Sir Mystic’s guidance.”

Celestia’s lower lip tensed for a second but then curved back up. “Well, Professor, it certainly has been quite a morning for you, why don’t you relax a little before getting back to work?”

“Vell, Sweet Tooth did say she had a new recipe she vanted ze staff to try out.” Hoofenbacker smiled down at Twilight. “Good luck, little filly!”

As Hoofenbacker trotted down the hall, Celestia lit up her horn. “Come by my side, Twilight. It will make the teleport easier.”

Twilight nodded and stood by Celestia’s left leg. She opened her mouth to ask about the day ahead, but immediately shut it when she saw Celestia’s eyes closed and her face taught.

“My apologies,” she said. “I must make sure the spell is accurate or we will not have enough to get back.”

“Where are w—”

A blast of golden light from Celestia’s horn cut Twilight off. Everything went white for a moment and then Twilight smacked into the ground. Shaking her head, she waited for her eyes to refocus before taking in her new surroundings.

Thin beams of light streaked through a canopy of branches and leaves above, leaving the area around Twilight dim. Beyond the dense cluster of trees, the morning sun shimmered down on a field that stretched to the horizon. The grass over there was tall, but yellow, and a few spots of cracked earth blemished the field.

Yet, the air in the forest was humid and the ground felt moist beneath Twilight’s hooves. The trees’ roots snaked across the damp soil, crisscrossing and forming a bumpy blanket over the forest floor. They also reached up to cover the boulders strewn around the trees. Anything not covered in roots was encumbered by a thick blue moss.

A cough drew Twilight’s attention to her side. Celestia wiped a bit of blood from her mouth, more glistened beside her hooves.

“Oh my gosh!” Twilight exclaimed. “Are you okay, Princess?”

“Fine, fine,” Celestia hacked. “Happens every time I teleport a great distance now. Do not worry, I’ll recover by the end of the day. Until then, we have training to do.”

Twilight smiled. “Right. So what are we doing?”

“You…” Celestia trotted over to a boulder and placed a hoof on it. “…are lifting these.”

“Huh?”

“Like this.” Backing away from the boulder, Celestia lit up her horn. Aura flowed over the boulder and lifted it off the ground. The roots connected to it strained against the spell and then snapped. A spray of blue gas hissed out of the severed roots. The roots still clinging to the rock then vanished in a puff of smoke.

The way the roots acted stirred something in Twilight’s mind. For some reason, it made a few of her hair stand on end, but she could not place why.

With a slight twist of her neck, Celestia flung the boulder through the canopy. A blast rang from high above a few second later. “I’m sure your brother has told you about the grunt work knights fresh out of the academy have to deal with.”

“They get sent to the edge of the Everfree for ‘trimming.’” The forest’s humidity had already coated Twilight in a sheen of sweat, but it now beaded out of her pores as frigid dots. She gulped. “We’re in the Everfree?”

“The edges are relatively safe.” Celestia coughed again. Steam pooled off her, and she shrank down to her emaciated form. “The Everfree has always been a nuisance and a den for countless dangerous beasts, but they are warry to venture past its borders. It’s also a habitat for many rare species of plants and animals, some of which are of use in medicine. So, as long as we keep the Everfree contained to a reasonable area, future guards are trained and the forest is left largely undisturbed.”

“Shining always complained about the nettles,” said Twilight.

“Yes, those are quite bothersome, so take heed while you’re clearing out this sector.”

“Sector?” Twilight repeated. More sweat dripped from her face. “Shining said it took a full squadron to clear a sector.”

“Well, you’ll start with just the rocks, then the saplings, and finally the trees.” Plopping herself under one such tree, Celestia leaned back and admired the way the sunlight filtered through the canopy. “I must admit, it’s quite nice to relax out in the open like this.”

“What about spells?” Twilight asked. “Or those Elements you mentioned? I couldn’t find anything out about them.”

Straightening up, Celestia took a breath. “Twilight, you’re familiar with the three types of magic, correct?”

“Earth, Pegasi, and Unicorn,” Twilight recited.

“Good, but how then can zebras sense below the earth? How can griffons fly? How can dragons do the same and also breath fire? Are these and other races’ abilities not magic as well?”

Twilight put a hoof to her chin. “Starswirl’s General Theory of Thaumaturgy suggests that world, down to the plants and rocks, is connected by a massive spell matrix that imbibes everything with a bit of magic.”

“You are quite the learned filly, but there’s a bit Starswirl left out of his public research. The Elements tap into that pure, unfiltered magic that flows through everything. They grant anyone that can wield them access to power beyond their wildest dreams.” Turning her head down, Celestia sighed, “When they were still individual relics, anyone with enough magic and the proper fortitude could activate them.”

“And that’s what you and Princess Luna did?”

“After years of intense training.”

Twilight’s heart sank. “Years?”

“Before I absorbed their power and they fused with my magic.” Celestia glanced up at her horn and then stared at Twilight. Her steely glare made Twilight tense up. “Now, activating the Elements is easier in the sense that the output and concentration required is less, but if a pony’s mana is too low, they will draw on life force instead. The Elements now must also be transferred. If their Bearer dies, the Elements go with them. I will not lie, Twilight, but I have searched for a successor ever since I was injured all those centuries ago, but you are the one who has finally inherited them and their risks.”

Twilight gulped. “What are those risks?”

Celestia clenched her jaw and cast a spell, plucking a flower off the ground. “There are two major risks. As I said, the Elements now draw on life force if you don’t have enough mana. So, if your stamina isn’t strengthened and raised…” The flower wilted and then turned to dust. “Your death will be painless since you’ll pass out from exhaustion first.”

The spell flickered out, and the dust floated to the ground. A wind kicked up and scattered it through the forest.

Twilight shuddered. “And the other risk?”

Another spell lifted a pebble off the ground. When Celestia grit her teeth, the pebble glowed bright.

“If you can activate the Elements, they can provide a great boost to you, their inheritor’s, natural skills. If, for example, a pegasus were to inherit the Elements, she could easily shatter the sound barrier, a feat only a few Wonderbolts have ever accomplished. For a unicorn, the most challenging of spells would be like foal’s play to summon and regular spells would be greatly magnified.”

“Is that how you raise the sun too?” Twilight asked.

“My connection with the sun is a bit more complex and doesn’t matter right now.” Celestia made her aura around the rock glow brighter. “A pony must have expert control of their magic in order to properly channel the Elements’ power through it. The Elements’ power, once activated, must go somewhere, and if it isn’t properly channeled…”

The rock exploded.

“Your horn will burst as your thaumic system burns from the inside out. Dismemberment from the internal backlash is highly likely. If you are lucky, the backlash will rupture a vital organ and finish you off quickly. There are few deaths I can imagine that are more painful. That is why you must train to strengthen your mana and familiarize yourself with basic spells until they are like breathing to you. I will instruct you in spells that are vital to heroics, but nothing beyond that, understood?”

The words sank into the Twilight. It felt as if they summoned up the Everfree's roots and anchored her to the ground. Yet, at the same time, her stomach roiled just imagining her horn glowing bright, only to suddenly turn pitch black and then explode. To add just one more kick of anxiety, her mind picked the ruined fashion district as the site of her gruesome demise.

Celestia strode over to Twilight and placed a hoof on her shoulder, quelling a small bit of her unease. “I would be more than happy to just give you some basic training if this is all too much. We live in a relatively peaceful time now, Twilight, so you need not bear this burden.”

A crow’s caw echoed through the forest. A bit of sweat still dripped off of Twilight, but all she could feel was the throbbing of her heart and the dense pit in her stomach. Then, the image of the rainbow beam came to her, how it felt to wield magic greater than anything she had ever seen or read about before. For a second, she stared at her cutie mark and then met Celestia’s steely eyes with a determined stare.

“I can do this. No matter how peaceful it is, there are still ponies out there that need help and the Elements may be the only way to save them. You said it yourself, right? When you lose your connection to the Elements, ponies are going to need somepony else to comfort them, I…” Tensing up, Twilight summoned the best smile she could, even with her lips trembling and her jaw unsteady. “I’m going to do it, Princess! I won’t let you or anypony else down!”

Celestia blinked. For a second, it appeared like Twilight’s cutie mark overlapped her pupils. With a smile, Celestia shifted her hoof around, pulling Twilight into a hug. “Fate works in mysterious ways, Twilight Sparkle.” She then pulled back. “That being said, you’re going to need to work on that smile a bit.”

Twilight blushed. “Sorry, the whole ‘die by fatal thaumic exhaustion or die by fatal thaumic backlash’ stuff has me a bit spooked. What if the Elements activate while we’re still training? I mean, I’ve gotten used to some spells these past few days, but to wield something like that…”

“You’ll be fine.” Celestia tapped Twilight’s horn. “Actually, your unfamiliarity with using magic is a boon in this case. Like I said, the Elements require a large outpouring of mana to activate and that requires intense concentration and a certain mindset. It would be much easier for a unicorn used to spell-casting to accidentally tap into the Elements.”

Tilting her head, Twilight repeated the phrase, “What about having 'a certain mindset?'”

“We can save that talk for closer to the exam.” Celestia moved back over to her spot under the tree and laid down. She then pointed at the nearby boulders. “For now, a royal decree: I command my faithful student, Twilight Sparkle, to clear this sector of the Everfree. You have until the end of summer.”

Twilight breathed in the swampy air, allowing the words to sink in. Rearing up onto her hooves, she spun around and faced a boulder about as big as her head. Casting a spell, aura flowed over her horn and then the boulder. She gave it a tug. The boulder held firm even though no roots clung to it.

Celestia leaned back against the tree. “And I’m sure your brother told you how everything the Everfree touches resists magic, right?”

Twilight steeled herself and her horn grew brighter. Celestia’s decree repeated in her head. Her back was to Celestia, so she dared to grin before she gritted her teeth.

Twilight’s first task as Celestia’s faithful student had begun.

~~~

Huffs and grunts filled the forest’s air. Twilight’s horn sparked and throbbed against her skull. She dug her hooves into the dirt and pulled herself forward. A boulder trailed along next to her. It raked through the ground and deepened a jagged rut that led to the edge of the forest. Several other trenches marked the earth under and around Twilight. Roots were already regrowing over the shallower ones.

With each lunge forward, Twilight gulped down air. When her hooves hit the ground, her horn glowed bright for a moment and the boulder inched ahead. Her legs were aflame, and the ache from her horn combined with the sweat dripping into her eyes to blur her vision.

Just a little more!

She felt the sun’s rays touch her left leg as she slammed it into the grass. A breeze carried fresh air to her muzzle. Steeling her muscles and her mind, she focused and dug deep into the earth and her willpower. Her horn pounded, but she concentrated and felt the spell that bound her horn to the rock tug at it like a coil of rope— an old one. The spell was frayed and snapped all over, so that it barely moved the boulder along.

Twilight clenched her jaw, sending bolts of pain down her horn and into her skull. The spell’s link reformed and tightened, causing the boulder to skid forward. As it rumbled past Twilight, it lifted a few inches off the ground. It flew into the field and crashed into a collection of other rocks strewn nearby.

With the boulder clear of the forest, any strength Twilight had left fled her. Her knees gave out, but a thin leg caught her.

Celestia smiled. “I think that’s enough for today.”

Twilight wiped her right eye and then stared at the stones scattered nearby. Counting little more than a dozen rocks— the largest of which was about as big as Twilight—she frowned. “I barely made a dent.”

“Canterlot wasn’t built in a day.” Celestia stood Twilight straight up and took a step back. Closing her eyes, she inhaled the late afternoon air. The space around her rippled and then sparkled. There was a flash, and Celestia once more stood tall over Twilight with a white coat, dazzling wings, and a flowing mane. “Not with all the arguments Luna and I had over whether to have marble or granite for the castle’s floors. Besides, Twilight, think of where you were just a week ago.”

“My room?” Twilight coughed.

“Twilight, I assure you, we will have you ready for the entrance exams by the end of summer, but results don’t come instantly just because you earned your cutie mark.” When Twilight’s ears drooped, Celestia’s lower lip tensed. “That being said, if you are still doubting how far you’ve come already, there was someone I wanted you to meet once we were finished up here.”

Twilight lifted her head. “Who?”

Celestia smiled and lit up her horn. “You will see in a moment.”

There was a flash and the world went white. A massive room with walls that stretched into darkened rafters replaced the forest. Light filtered into the room through a stained-glass window that reached up into the shadows. Colorful beams fell upon ancient tapestries. Priceless relics glistened atop stout marble pedestals. Rows upon rows of books from across the ages basked in the setting sun.

Twilight marveled at the blazing stars forged into the glass. Guidebooks always touted how they were made out of actual meteorites, but the pictures that accompanied such descriptions failed to capture the sheer majesty of the window. But, for most ponies, the guidebooks were the closest they could get as the glass resided in the tallest room in most guarded tower of the castle.

"Oh my gosh!" Twilight squealed. "This... this is your room!"

Celestia nodded.

“Princess?” a voice called out.

Twilight turned and caught a glimpse of something duck behind a couple of thick cylindrical pillows. Advancing closer, Twilight saw that the pillows were at the head of a ground-level bed stretched in front of a fireplace as wide as a cart. Whatever or whoever was hiding by the bed scurried out of Twilight’s sight. She could have sworn she saw part of its body glint with the glow of the fire.

A brow went up nearly past her horn. There was a fresh fire billowing smoke up the chimney. Certain she was only seeing the fire due to exhaustion from having worked in the forest’s muggy air all day, Twilight shook her head. The crackling of wood, forced her eyes back on the fireplace. A few embers spat out of the wood and onto the fireplace’s stone base.

“Does fire help restore your energy?” Twilight asked Celestia as she shrunk down.

Celestia coughed, wiping away a little blood, and then waved a hoof. “No, no. My… guest has a few peculiarities. Spike, it’s okay. You wanted to give your thanks, correct?”

“Is it…” A small dragon poked its head out from behind the pillows. Twilight tensed up. Even if the rest of the dragon’s features had softened and it now stood shorter than Twilight, its purple scales and green spines were unmistakable. “Twilight!”

The dragon crossed the bed in a blink. Its claws reached out. Twilight tried to jump back, but the dragon was quicker and wrapped its claws around her.

“I am so sorry!” it exclaimed. “I don’t know what came over me! If it hadn’t been for you and Princess Celestia, I…”

Twilight jabbed a hoof into its chest and pushed it away. She scuttled backwards and hid behind Celestia. The dragon stared at them, raised a claw, but then let it drop. The fins at the sides of his head drooped.

Celestia sighed and shook her head. “I doubt I could provide much protection to you now, Twilight, even if Spike was still a danger.”

“I said I was sorry,” Spike muttered and kicked at the air.

“So…” Twilight dared to move out from behind Celestia. She glanced at Spike. “It’s not dangerous anymore?”

“He,” Celestia corrected. “And no, he’s not. We’ve had difficulty piecing things together, but it seems Spike was living comfortably until something awakened his greed— an unfortunate curse all dragons bear—perhaps he stumbled upon a hidden treasure trove or a gem horde.”

“Everything from before is still a blur.” With his widened eyes and quivering frame, it was impossible to imagine that Spike was the same dragon who had towered over Canterlot. “I swear, I’d never take anyone else’s stuff normally, even if they had the most delicious gems!”

“Oh…” Twilight bowed her head. Seeing Spike standing beside himself stirred far too many familiar memories for Twilight. In most of them, Moondancer would come to her side. “I’m sorry, I’ve never met an actual dragon before. All the books I’ve read on them just say to keep a safe distance at the faintest sign you’re near a dragon’s hoard. There isn’t much else.”

“And drakes like Spike are often kept deep in their mother’s hoard,” said Celestia. Her eyes then sharpened. “Twilight, I’ve already gone over this with Spike, but you should know this as well: the spell we unleashed with the Elements is something beyond normal unicorn magic. In fact, it’s beyond regular magic in general. What we summoned was the Elements of Harmony in their purest form: a force of balance, able to purify creatures and the land of any imbalance that blights them. Were it not for that spell, I would have had to rely on my own magic to neutralize Spike.”

Twilight glanced at the faded sun on Celestia’s flank. The hairs on her neck rose up.

“I see you understand.” Celestia moved over to Spike and rested a hoof on his shoulder. “Since that is the case, Spike owes me very little, but he owes you much. A dragon’s debt is a rare thing, but a dragon’s friendship is even rarer. Plus, he’s become quite enamored with Equestrian society and could use a guide to help acclimate him.”

“Yeah!” Spike grinned. “All this hero stuff is really cool! Way better than just sleeping around my cave all day and digging for gems to eat.”

“So, you eat gems?” Twilight peered at Spike. “You don’t just guard them?”

“Well, I guard a few of them for days when I can’t find more, but ponies do the same thing with stuff like fridges, right?”

“Hmm, good point.” Grinning, Twilight drew a little closer to Spike. “So, what’s your den like?”

“Um…” Spike scratched his spines. “Like a cave? But with a small hole in the wall where I kept a few gems, I guess?”

“Spike,” said Celestia. “Didn’t you have something you wanted to show Twilight?”

“Oh, right!” Spike bolted over to a drawer and pulled out one stack of papers, and then a second, and then a third. After hefting all the stacks onto his arms, he lumbered back over to Twilight and Celestia. With a huff, he set them down by Twilight. Wiping his brow, he faced Celestia. “I triple checked them and everything, Princess!”

“Well done, Spike.” Celestia’s smile made Spike grin, and he puffed up his chest. Celestia focused back on Twilight. “Like you, Spike is quite the quick learner and has been helping me the last few days in drafting your summer training plan.”

“It’s in addition to the regular recommendations from the School.” Spike glanced to his side and muttered, “Though that guide is a little thin.”

“Self-study is one of the key traits of a good student.” Celestia laid a hoof on the stack. “You’re a unique case though, Twilight. I, the Board of Education, and the Hero Association make sure the entrance exam in both its written and practical portions are held to a high standard that requires utter devotion to preparation during the summer. And that is for regular unicorns. The plan Spike and I have developed is guaranteed to get you ready.”

Lifting the first page, Twilight scanned the table of contents. At first, she would turn a page, pour over its contents, and then move on. But, as she read more and more, her eyes moved faster and faster, widening with each page. At some point, she paused and looked up. “Meals, timesheets, sleep schedules… this is incredible! Thank you, Princess! And thank you too, Spike!”

Spike blushed. “Well, it’s the least I could do for a future hero.”

Twilight let the pages lay flat. The way Spike grinned. The way he added extra emphasis to the word “hero.” His entire demeanor strung a familiar string in Twilight’s heart, one that even Moondance could not pluck. The irony of having an actual firebreather kindle memories of Sunset— albeit a younger one, one that was still a blank flank— was not lost to Twilight. “You really like heroes, don’t you, Spike?”

“Of course!” Spike exclaimed. “I mean, I obviously owe you and Princess Celestia my life, but the way they use all their cool powers, the awesome fights they have…” Spike’s eyes glazed a little. “… the way those costumes look… it’s all so cool!”

Twilight grinned. “So, I guess you know about partnerships then?”

Spike furrowed his brow. “Like the Power Ponies?”

“They’re a pretty rare example. It’s hard to coordinate a team like like theirs.” Curving her lips up while trying to keep her voice steady, Twilight continued, “Buuuttt, it’s a lot more common for heroes, especially ones fresh out of school, to partner with another hero. Sometimes they stick together throughout their entire careers, and sometimes they go their separate ways, but if the partnership is strong, both heroes’ reputations increase. Plus, going solo from the get-go is only possible for the best of the best, and all the other heroes usually spend their first years on the job just pushing paper at whatever agency will take them.”

“And we're just talking about regular pony heroes, right?” Spike glanced at Celestia. “Are there even any dragon heroes?”

“There is one, but her situation is a bit complex,” Celestia answered. “Her hero status is part of broader effort to strengthen ties with the Dragon Lord, but I’m afraid dragons are still treated more like wild animals than the ancient and intelligent creatures they truly are. Although, having a dragon go through the normal education and licensing process could show ponies that dragons can be just as brave and heroic as themselves. Of course, that choice is entirely up to said dragon.”

“I hadn’t even thought about that.” Spike rubbed his chin and then snapped his claws. “Okay! I’ll do it.” He then turned back to Twilight. “Consider us partners!”

“A partner...” Twilight beamed.

Rushing over to hug Spike, a memory from a few summers after that first Celebration came to her.

***

A breeze rustled the leaves around Twilight. From behind her, the moon stretched her shadow and the trees’. She shivered and drew closer to Sunset.

With a snort, Sunset enlarged the flame sprouting out of her horn. “You really need to work harder, Twilight.”

“I know,” Twilight sighed. “But you’re so good at fire spells, Sunset. I’ll bet you get your cutie mark in that!”

“Heh, we’ll see.” Sunset came to a halt at a ridge.

Past the trees, Canterlot spanned outwards. All the buildings and houses were dark at this hour. Twilight imagined she and Sunset were the only ponies awake right now save for Princess Luna— although she was probably more of a technicality. She also hoped that her cabin’s counselor was still fast asleep.

Both Twilight and Sunset lifted their gaze from the city to the castle. Its grand spires rose up to touch the stars, and the moonlight shimmered off its gold and lilac tiles. Sunset’s hoof pointed toward its massive drawbridge.

“Someday, we’re gonna get in there, Twilight.” Her eyes narrowed. “Once you finally manage to get your horn working.”

Despite the harshness in Sunset’s tone, Twilight smiled and nodded.

“We’ll mingle with all the other top heroes.” A grin spread across Sunset’s face. “Maybe we’ll even chat it up with the Princesses.”

“Yeah, it’ll be great.” Another gust of wind sent goosebumps up Twilight’s leg. “Hey, Sunset?”

“Yeah?”

“I’ve, um, been reading some books lately.”

Sunset wrinkled her nose. “You should be practicing.”

Waving her legs back and forth, Twilight exclaimed, “I know, I know. It’s just…” She took a breath and steadied herself. “We wanna be the best, right?”

“Of course,” Sunset smirked.

“So we don’t wanna get caught just doing some agency’s grunt work and never seeing any action, right?”

The words made Sunset pucker her lips. “Never. Let some losers do that junk. We’ll be real heroes: out on the street, fighting villains, and making a name for ourselves.”

“Then…” The wind swirled around Twilight. Raising a hoof from the ground, she held out a leg. “Why don’t we become partners?”

Sunset stared at Twilight’s leg. Her jaw shifted around as if she were chewing on Twilight’s proposal. With a chuckle, she shot out a hoof and clasped Twilight’s leg. “Deal! But if you don’t shape up fast, Twilight, you’re just gonna have to be my sidekick.”

Twilight’s heart fluttered. She embraced the warmth and strength that flowed from Sunset’s leg, holding it tight. “Okay!”

***

“I got a partner!” Twilight exclaimed as she held Spike tight.

“Yes, a training partner,” Celestia mused.

“Uh… what?” Spike gulped. Twilight felt his scales bristle beneath her.

Celestia’s smile sharpened and sent a chill down both Spike and Twilight’s spines. “I think this will make training much more interesting.”

A little sweat dripped from Twilight’s face. “Maybe I should have just called you a friend.”

“Bit late for that, Twilight,” said Spike.

Author's Note:

Have I mentioned I'm an Oroboro fan?

Then again, Weekly Manga Recap has ensured that I can only imagine Bakugo with Kirishima. Heehee, lets see how that pans out with their equivalents.

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