• Published 19th Jul 2012
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The Best of All Possible Worlds - McPoodle

The philosopher Voltaire finds himself in the most-frustrating place imaginable: Equestria

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Chapter 38

The Best of All Possible Worlds

Chapter 38

With the sound of a thunderbolt, the goddess Genevieve landed upon the streets of Canterlot, accompanied by a small entourage. There was Her father, still reeling days after Her apparent return from the dead. There was the silent human girl Jenny, her wide eyes taking in everything around her. And there was Her “consort” Zody, who was busy drooling onto the pavement because he didn’t have enough of a mind left to know how to close his mouth.

With Her arrival, equines fled in every direction, but Genevieve’s attention was focused squarely on the blasphemer defiling Her sacred cathedral. With the slightest glint of Her eyes, everything that wasn’t nailed down in the building was teleported to Her presence.

Yup, I still got it, Voltaire thought to himself smugly, before he realized the change in his surroundings. He looked around him to see that a couple of folding chairs, the table, and the floating ring had accompanied them on their journey through the Horrifying Dimension That Shall Not Be Spoken of Again.

The holy book that he had been skimming dropped to the ground with a loud “thump!”, causing Voltaire to jump. With a sigh, he turned to face the Celestia-sized donkey before him. “So, is somebody unwilling to take a little honest criticism?”

Genevieve’s reply was a lightning bolt to the face.

Celestia and Blueblood rushed over to examine Voltaire’s twitching form.

He’ll live, in case you’re wondering,” Genevieve replied, her voice amplified and deepened.

Celestia looked up to examine her adversary. The goddess Genevieve had the long legs of an alicorn, but the brown color and facial structure of a fully-grown donkey mare. Instead of irises, Her eyes glowed a pure white. Seeing how She could do by pure willpower anything that a horn or wings might do, She didn’t bother with either.

“Were you even listening to a word he was saying?” Celestia asked. “Those were legitimate complaints, by and large.”

The opinions of humans I have found are completely worthless,” the goddess replied. “Present company excluded,” She added, waving a hoof at Algarotti.

“You make a poor choice in advisers,” said Blue Belle, “as you would see if you ever bothered to examine his ‘lying stick’.” She used her telekinesis to snatch the staff away from Algarotti and throw it at the donkey.

You dare to use unicorn magic against me?!” Genevieve caught the stick easily with Her magic and brought it to rest at Her hooves. Then, wondering at the name that Blue Belle had given it, She rested one hoof lightly on its bronze surface and looked up in shock and betrayal. “Francesco, why am I unable to hear My own thoughts when I am touching your staff?

“Ahhh....” the human stalled.

With a toss of the head, Genevieve laid Algarotti out with the same spell She had just used on Voltaire, blasting him back against a nearby wall. “I’ll deal with you later,” She said, before turning Her attention towards Celestia. “Sun Princess, I hold you personally responsible for allowing the corruption and discrimination that marked My mortal life to take hold. Having already taken away your power over the Sun, why should I stay your punishment for a single moment longer?

Celestia looked down at the prone Voltaire for a moment before standing up, fixing Genevieve with a defiant stare. “Because you could actually learn how to govern from somepony with the proper experience.” She gestured around her with a hoof. “These are elementary mistakes, the kind I made in abundance when I first became princess. But I learned from my mistakes, and while You are right that there was much wrong in my Equestria, it was better than it had been, and it was on its way to getting much better in the future. Voltaire here had made me aware of the problems that made Your life so awful, and I was working on some solutions when—”

Too little, too late,” Genevieve said curtly. “You had three quarters of a millennium after you banished Nightmare Moon. And in that time you failed to come up with a long-term solution to the dragons, and created a slow-motion disaster with the griffons.” It was clear that Genevieve had at least skimmed Equestria’s history, both public and secret, since Her apotheosis. “All while throwing dozens of ponies into the past in a vain attempt to save your sister.

Celestia’s fur visibly bristled. “You are mistaken, My Lady,” she said coldly. “All of those poor ponies sacrificed themselves by their own choice, not mine.” She looked at the ground in sadness. “It appears that the corruption and banishment of Luna are two fixed points in time, incapable of being altered.”

Genevieve formed a dark smile on her lips. “Yes, and every time traveler who visited the era had a greater and greater adverse effect on both of your minds, making the tragedy more and more impossible to prevent!” She thought for a few moments, as both Voltaire and Algarotti began to stir. “I could prevent that tragedy, you know. You deserve a proper reward for saving this land from Discord, and ‘fixed points’ are no obstacle to one such as I. How would you feel if I caused you and your sister to revert back to your mortal forms immediately after that victory? You could live out the remainder of your lives as national heroes, while the unicorns would be forced to take back their responsibility to govern the heavens. Perhaps with that responsibility, they wouldn’t become quite so loathsome.

Celestia shook her head, not allowing herself to be tempted for even a moment by this offer. “We would be back at Hearth’s Warming Eve again, but without the happy ending,” she said. “And besides, you could never give up your hatred for Blue Belle. Not after you’ve redefined your life around it.”

The alicorn gave a sad guilty look at the unicorn, who recognized it as her cue. “I just know it would be wasting your time to try to convince you that I am no longer the same unicorn who hurt you,” Blue Belle said gently as she approached the divine donkey. “But I have changed, and I’m willing to do anything to make amends.”

Will you die for me?” Genevieve asked, a spark in her otherwise expressionless eyes. “Slowly and painfully? And will you bring back My Zody to the way that I remember him?

The zombie-like Zody flopped his head to one side on hearing his name.

A look of utter despair came over Blue Belle at this sight, followed by determination. “So be it,” she said with a steely tone. “I will give You Your vengeance, and show You what Your vaunted ‘system’ has done to Your fellow equines.”

Having said this, she reached up a hoof and ripped the time pendant off of her neck.

“No!” cried Blueblood, who tried to rise to his hooves. He looked down to see Voltaire’s hand grasped around his neck.

Don’t look,” the human whispered, employing all of his enfeebled strength to keep the unicorn from seeing what was happening to his daughter. “For God’s sake, don’t look!

Blue Belle spread her legs and gritted her teeth as the bruises began to spontaneously appear all over her body, rapidly turning her pure white coat into a purple and blue mess.

Then her legs broke, and she collapsed to the ground.

Genevieve crept forward with a gleeful smile. “Yes, yes...

Blue Belle’s legs reset themselves in twisted angles. Then her ribs were methodically broken.

The unicorn’s cries of pain began gradually to change into whimpers and then hoots of joy.

My Lady!” Blue Belle cried out in a disturbingly happy tone as her face was caved in by the blows of invisible hooves. “How can I suffer for My Lady?

The donkey’s jaw dropped. “What’s happening?

“She’s undergoing a lifetime of growing up in Your Equestria, all in a manner of moments,” Celestia told Genevieve calmly. “Not only physically, but also mentally—she’s turning into Your Blue Belle, the pony responsible for this entire world of suffering.”

There is no suffering in my—

“What pony would possibly tell You that in Your face?”

Their thoughts—

“Thoughts can be hidden, especially when such a thought is so demoralizing all by itself that it’s best to pretend you never thought it.”

The crunching and squishing of Blue Belle’s injuries continued to build up.

No...” Genevieve moaned, trying to look away.

Yesssh...” Blue Belle hissed. Or a sound that could be construed as “yes”, as she lacked most of the apparatus for intelligible speech by this point.

An angry Celestia reached out with her magic to wrench the goddess’ head back around. “Face Your lesson like the superior being You are,” she lectured. “See how she still lives despite no longer even looking like a boned creature anymore. There is a talent in inflicting as much pain as possible in a pony without killing them. Discord was a master of it, but it became a lost art with His defeat. It appears that under Your ‘benevolent’ rule that Your subjects have recovered this knowledge. You’ve found the one way to get around the windigos’ ban on violence, by making the victims embrace their punishment!”

It’s too much, too much!” Genevieve cried out. She tried to use Her magic to heal Blue Belle, but for every fix, another five wounds would be inflicted. And when She tried to reach out to the unicorn’s mind, She discovered it to be even more horrifying than her body.

Ssssuuuffferrrriiinng!” Blue Belle burbled out blissfully.

Take her away!” Genevieve wailed.

“But I thought this is what You wanted,” Celestia said in mock confusion. “She took away Your love, Your art and Your dignity. You probably also thought that she took away my love for You as a loyal subject. Is this not fair recompense? That she willingly sacrifice herself to You as an eternal monument of pain?”

Genevieve looked at Her upraised hooves and then around Her at the curious ponies and other equines who had gathered around them. In the unicorns’ eyes She saw nothing but fear and self-loathing, and in the others saw only hate for the unicorns and simpering worship of Herself, a worship devoid of any genuine adoration, only fear that She would turn them into unicorns if they crossed whatever arbitrary laws She might come up with next. “What have I done?” She asked Herself, tears running down Her face.

“You have taken advantage of their nature,” Celestia calmly informed Her. “They are herd animals. They picked up Your worst traits and amplified them to make You happy.”

I don’t want it. I don’t want it!” the goddess proclaimed to the crowd.

They didn’t believe Her.

“Hurt Blue Belle more!” a watching pegasus urged. “Make her beg for mercy, and then deny it! Give us our justice!”

Justice!” screamed the blood-thirsty crowd in unison. “JUSTICE!

Genevieve hung Her head. “You win,” She said quietly to Celestia. “I’ll make you the Princess again. I’ll put everything back the way it was.”

The way it was?! Algarotti cried out to himself in outrage. Back to the old injustices? Back to when I was going to get arrested by that arse of a prince? No, no You will do no such thing, you mud-wallowing farmyard animal. I will preserve this reality, at any cost. Climbing to his feet with the help of the wall he had landed against, he pulled out the pistol loaded with the silver bullet, and pointed it squarely at Genevieve’s heart.

With a grimace, Voltaire tried to get up, only to find out that his legs were still paralyzed. He put his fingers to his lips and tried to whistle, but only a feeble sound emerged, causing the rubber ring to wobble slightly.

Algarotti quickly cocked the pistol, and fired.

At the same instant, a shrill whistle split the air from a spot on the other side of Genevieve from Algarotti.

The rubber ring zipped forward at incredible speed, striking the human in the back of one leg and causing him to fire wildly.

The pegasus who had been urging Genevieve to carry out Her vengeance was struck in the wing by the bullet, and plunged to the earth. (Being a pegasus, she survived.)

Voltaire and Genevieve both looked in shock at the source of the whistle, which revealed itself with a shimmer as being a unicorn colt.

“You’re welcome,” he said to his goddess, fixing Her eyes with a look of utter contempt.