• Published 22nd Mar 2018
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Pound and Pumpkin Tales 2 - Never2muchpinkie



The continuing adventures of the now seven years old Pound and Pumpkin

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6-13: Game over.

Pound let out a heavy breath before sitting down. “I don’t believe this.”

"We're trapped in Mayhem's dimension," said Pumpkin, slumping down next to Pound.

Tree Leaf curled up, holding his knees. “Well, this is just great. We manage to defeat one of the most powerful things in the world, and he still gets the last laugh in the end."

Masky tried to sound upbeat, but his voice quivered as tears came down his eyes. “H-hey, we protected Equestria, right? We saved our families.”

Peppermint started to cry as well. “From HIM, maybe. But all of them are going to wonder where we’ve gone, and we’ll never be able to tell them. We’ll be stuck here forever.”

Flurry felt despair creeping into the edge of her consciousness, but she had to hold it at bay. She sat down, using her magic to put them all in a circle, and extended her hooves. “We don’t know that we’ll be stuck here forever. Aunt Twilight is one of the smartest ponies ever. If anyone can figure out what happened it would be her.

“And even if we’re stuck here forever…” She hesitated a moment, disliking the possibility she had voiced. She pushed on. “If I had to be stuck somewhere for the rest of my life I’m glad it’s with all of you.”

For a few moments none of them responded, but eventually they all held hooves with each other. That simple action helped to settle all of them down a bit.

“Yeah,” said Masky. “We can’t give up hope.”

"If we do that then Mayhem wins," said Tree Leaf.

“We managed to beat an incredibly strong enemy by our teamwork,” said Pumpkin, “so I’m sure all of our friends will work together to get us out of here.”

“I have to bring this up,” said Peppermint. “Now that all of the danger is over I can finally focus on this, but I really feel like I’ve met all of you before. Do you feel that way too?”

Tree Leaf nodded hard. “I thought I was the only one that felt that way.”

“Me too!” said Pound.

“Same here!” said Pumpkin.

“I do too,” said Masky. “But if we were friends before all this then why can’t I remember it?”

“I think,” said Flurry slowly, “that it was HIM.”

“What?” said Pound. “How could he do that?”

“Well, as Masky said, have you looked around lately? He created this whole world, split himself into sixty four pieces… I’ve never seen a power like his before. Is it really that odd that he could mess with our memories as well?”

“I guess not,” said Tree Leaf. “But why would he do that?”

“No idea,” said Pumpkin. “Maybe he was jealous of our friendship. I mean, looking like that I’m sure he didn’t have many friends.”

“That doesn’t matter!” said Peppermint. “If he was jealous then he should have tried to make friends with us instead of making us forget about one another.”

“But... would you have wanted to be friends with him?” asked Pound.

“I think so,” Peppermint said with a little uncertainty. “I mean, I don’t think it should matter what someone looks like as long as they’re nice.”

“I think so too,” said Tree Leaf. “Imagine someone like that on our side. He’d be so much fun to play with. Before he threatened Flurry he sold me on the idea of playing with him some more."

“Mmm-hmm,” said Pumpkin.

Flurry looked up at the warmth of the heart still floating above them. In this empty world it's light and heat provided comfort to her.

Her eyes caught a blur quickly heading in their direction, and with a flash of her horn she teleported the group to a space about one hundred feet away.

Upon regaining their senses they quickly stood up to see what the problem was. “What is that?” asked Masky as he spotted the object heading towards where they had just been seated.

Flurry focused, and though it was hard to make out from the speed she felt a jolt of elation as she made out the form of Mayhem.

He didn’t seem able to stop himself, and she didn’t want to risk him dying when they needed him to get out.

She used her magic to slow his descent, and he only gently bounced off the ground before lying there unmoving.

Flurry ran over to him, the rest not far behind.

The baby draconequus looked like he was unconscious, but aside from some mussed fur he didn’t seem injured. She didn’t know how big his world was, but judging from just how long it took for him to land from their attack he had to have been sent to the “ceiling” of it.

She gave him a few gentle slaps to try to get him up.

Slowly, his eyes opened. As he recognized Flurry and recalled the events of the past ten minutes he gasped and scooted backwards to get some distance from her.

"Good. You're still alive," said Flurry.

“I… I lost,” the draconequus said weakly, looking flabbergasted. “But… b-b-but how? It's impossible! I knew everything you were capable of. You weren't supposed to be a threat to me.

"I… I took away your memories of each other so you couldn't use the power of unity against me. How could you possibly work together so well?”

“So all of us were friends.” Flurry approached him, an odd look on her face. “Throughout this adventure their faces… their voices… their actions…” She stopped in front of him. “All of them feel foreign to my mind. My brain has no idea who they are besides these past battles. And yet…”

She closed her eyes, memories of those battles passing through her. She saw Pound and the others protecting her, remembered the urge to stand between Mayhem and harm coming to the others. She thought of how they reassured her when her fears began to take hold.

She opened her eyes, staring down at Mayhem. “And yet… even if I can’t remember them here-” she put a hoof to her forehead “-I still seem to remember them here.” She moved the hoof to her heart. “Their hearts just seemed to call out to me, and without needing to think about it my own heart wanted to answer their call. I’m sure it was the same for them. ”

They all nodded.

Mayhem looked up at the heart still floating above them, and he started shivering. Their powers had been too strong. It shouldn't have been this way, but it was.

They really had done the impossible. No matter how much he pushed them he couldn't break the connection between them.

"I... I lost..." He couldn't seem to process it. "Me. I hold the power to change reality and do the impossible. I can't believe it."

Flurry couldn't let this chance pass her by. Mayhem seemed awed by his defeat, and she had to act now. This could be their only chance.

Standing up to her full height she extended her wings as far as they would naturally go, trying to look as imposing as possible. "We beat you!" said Flurry sharply. Mayhem winced as he looked over at her. "You lost the game, so take us home! NOW!"

A part of her realized that if he still had the strength to take them all home then it also meant he probably still had the strength to destroy all of them, but she had to take the risk.

Her heart was thumping hard. He might get angry at her attitude.

To her relief he lifted a trembling claw, and with a snap they were all transported to Pound and Pumpkin's room.

The twins looked around. "Hey!" said Pumpkin happily. "It's our room."

Peppermint looked out the window. "Now this is the Ponyville I remember."

"We're finally home," said Tree Leaf happily as he sank to the floor.

“What do you think we should do now, Flurry?” asked Pound.

“Me?” she responded.

He nodded. “You’re the princess here. Shouldn’t we hand him over to Princess Twilight?”

“Or… take care of him?” said Tree Leaf, though he said it with uncertainty. “He certainly didn’t mind threatening our lives.”

“Flurry,” said Masky. “Your faith in us allowed us to win. And all of us believe in you too.”

“That’s right,” said Peppermint. “So we know you’ll make the right choice on what we do with him.”

Flurry looked over at Mayhem. He was almost unrecognizable. He was still shaking slightly, looking at her with such fear in his eyes. He looked just like a child who had gotten caught by their parents doing something bad and was waiting for their punishment.

When he had been the one with the most power he had been smug and cold, but now that they had discovered a power that surpassed his own he didn't seem to have any fight left in him.

Flurry stared down at Mayhem. Her friends had all put it on her to decide what to do with him. If she ever did become a ruler she would have to make decisions like this.

For once in her life she didn’t feel afraid of this responsibility.

She closed her eyes, thinking back to her journey through Mayhem’s world. She focused on the fight with the fake Starlight. She remembered the feelings she had back then, when Starlight had told her the truth about her past. It had been so hard to believe at first, though she quickly got over it after a week.

Starlight’s words came back to her.

“When I saw the results of meddling with time it horrified me.

“I surrendered to Twilight, fearing the worst. She would have been completely justified throwing me in prison and leaving me to rot… but she didn’t.

“She helped me to see that I had been wrong. Rather than condemning me for my actions she chose to give me a second chance and allowed me to start living my life the right way.

“It was because of her mercy that I was able to reunite with Sunburst and find true happiness. I can never repay her enough for the kindness she showed me.”

Starlight’s abilities made her a huge threat. Being able to steal cutie marks and drain even the power of an alicorn anytime she wanted meant it was extremely dangerous to allow her to roam free.

Even knowing that, Twilight still gave her a home in her own castle, where she could easily ambush Twilight while she was sleeping. She saw Starlight's regret, and believed there was a good person beneath her anger. She trained Starlight in true friendship, and eventually let her move out and live at the Crystal Empire, trusting her not to return to her evil ways.

Twilight’s faith in her had been rewarded. It was because of that faith that she, Flurry, had gotten the coolest aunt ever. When Starlight used her powers for good she was a great teacher.

Flurry opened her eyes, looking at the creature before her. She held his life in her hooves, and now she had to decide his fate. Mayhem didn’t try to plead his case or make excuses. He just stared at the ground guiltily.

When Pumpkin had asked what kind of person would do such a thing as kidnap them and put them through such danger she, Flurry, had responded that it was another kid. Mayhem certainly seemed like a very spoiled child, only wanting fun with no work, and getting mad to the point of violence when he didn’t get his way.

He had way too much power than he knew what to do with. Without any limits it was no wonder he felt bored. She highly doubted that he had ever faced defeat before today. Without ever facing discipline how could he hope to improve his behavior?

Now he was cowering at her hooves, waiting for her to sentence him.

She knew his power was far more threatening than even Starlight’s. She knew that this was probably going to be their only chance to take him out. She knew that if he went rogue again that he really would take over the world this time. She knew that if it came to that that she would be responsible for that coming to pass.

She knew all that, but… but the idea of attacking someone who had lost the will to fight back repulsed her. The fight was over. She didn’t want there to be any more violence.

She didn’t believe that Mayhem was truly evil. It was simply his power that made him so dangerous. He was extremely playful in a dangerous way, but having met his match he didn’t stubbornly continue his assault out of revenge or pettiness.

Mayhem glanced up at her. She had been silent for so long he didn’t know what was going through her head.

Flurry felt some confusion. When Mayhem was being evil, and even when he had been so giddy about the idea of playing more games with them, she didn’t feel this sensation that was starting to course through her as she locked eyes with him again. “I don’t get it.”

“Get what?” asked Masky.

“What is… this feeling?” She stared deep into his scared eyes, the sensation growing stronger and stronger.

“What’s wrong, Flurry?” asked Pound.

A mental image passed through her mind, of Mayhem hugging her. Just like before, it only lasted a split-second, but that moment told her everything she needed to know.

She sat down, growing more and more certain. “My heart pulled me to these other ponies. It didn’t steer me wrong. Together we were able to unite and defeat you.

“Everyone, my heart… it’s calling out again. To him.”

“Why?” asked Pound.

Flurry ignored him, focusing on Mayhem. “You… you said that you took the memories of the friendship between the six of us. But… that’s not the truth, is it?”

“Huh?” said Peppermint. “But we all felt like we had a connection to each other. You said it yourself.”

“That’s true. I believe we had a friendship before this. My problem is with the number.”

“The number?” asked Pumpkin. “What do you mean?”

“It wasn’t just six, was it, Mayhem? It was actually seven, right?”

“Seven?” Tree Leaf’s eyebrow rose, and then a few seconds later his eyes widened. “Wait! You don’t mean…”

Flurry nodded. “Mayhem… you were one of our friends too, weren’t you?”

Mayhem shuddered, tears coming down his eyes as he nodded.

“We were friends?” asked Pound.

“It makes sense,” said Pumpkin. “That’s why he chose the six of us, and why he tried so hard to get us to stay in his world to just play forever.”

“But why?” asked Peppermint, crying. She was unable to hide the hurt in her voice. “If we were your friends then why did you do this to us? What did we ever do to you? Why would you take away our memories of our friendships and make us believe we were going to die?”

Mayhem hugged himself as he quietly sobbed, too ashamed to answer her.

Flurry’s feelings were blazing now, her heart’s call too strong to ignore anymore. She had already been leaning strongly towards a certain choice, but the knowledge of their former friendship wiped out the last of her doubts.

She gently lifted him to a standing position with her magic, and hugged him tightly. “I forgive you, Mayhem,” she said quietly.

Mayhem stared out into space, wondering if he had heard correctly. “Why? I did so many horrible things to you. I betrayed our friendship and tried to kill you!”

Starlight appeared in her mind again. “I know you made some big mistakes. Without my memories of you I don’t know if you brought us here because we did something personally to hurt you, or whether it really was just out of boredom, but what I do know is that you have the potential to be good.

"Just like Aunt Starlight, you can change your ways. You can become a better you, and move away from the bad you of the past."

“Are you sure about this, Flurry?” asked Pound, though he didn’t sound opposed to her decision.

She closed her eyes, thinking about the image of Mayhem hugging her that had popped into her head before. “All I know of you from this battle is that you were our enemy. But this is something that seems to go beyond memories. When I stop thinking and just feel… a part of me remembers who you were before this."

Her brow furrowed in concentration. “I feel… like… like at one point you saved me. Saved me from something huge. You, and all these other ponies, changed my life forever. I truly believe that in my heart. And that’s why, even if I can’t remember the friendship we used to have, I still want to forgive you.

“You used to be our friend. Wouldn’t you like to be again?”

Mayhem just began wailing. What had he been doing all this time? He had nearly destroyed all his friendships just for the sake of a good time.

Masky wasn’t sure whether he was ready to forgive Mayhem or not. He glanced up at the ceiling, and saw the mural on it. “Whoa! Is that… the world where we just were?”

“Where?” asked Pound. He saw the colt looking upwards, so he did too. “Oh! We… were in our ceiling the whole time?”

The rest of them looked up, to see them in the world of the decrepit Ponyville. On one side was Mayhem in front of his castle with a devious look, with the six of them on the other side in battle ready positions.

“That’s pretty cool,” said Tree Leaf. “Did you make that just now?”

Mayhem wiped his eyes, shaking his head. “N-no. As a birthday present Pound and Pumpkin’s parents let me redesign their room for them. Pumpkin asked for a superhero themed picture.”

“Mmm.” Pound shook his head. “It’s no good. Our birthday is too fuzzy. I guess that’s because all the rest of you were there.”

“But wait a minute,” said Pumpkin. “If you made this back when we were still friends then why aren’t you on our side?”

Mayhem got a guilty look on his face, letting out a humorless laugh. “You… asked that same question back when I first made it.”

“I did?” She looked back up at the ceiling. “And… what did you say?”

Mayhem rubbed his arm. “I… wasn’t a nice person when I first met you. My ‘daddy’ Discord gave the two of you some of his power, and you were able to do some of the things I can do. “

“Get out of here!” said Pound, wide-eyed. “Really?”

“That sounds so cool!” said Pumpkin.

Mayhem drew a box with a claw, and howed them some of the highlights of their performance, like Pound crash-landing into a dozen pieces, or fusing together and creating a lightning tornado to wipe out an army of Changelings.

All of them were in shock, Pound and Pumpkin most of all.

“That fake battle caused you to use up all the energy he gave you. He only gave you a tiny bit more, and you were mad about it. I talked you into attacking him and taking more of his power.”

The twins got guilty looks on their faces. “We… really did that?” asked Pumpkin.

“I guess we can be greedy kids too,” said Pound.

His eyes clenched shut. “Once you had most of Discord’s magic I was strong enough to take you over. I… almost killed everyone there. Your parents, Pinkie Pie… Fluttershy…”

They gaped at him. Pound and Pumpkin especially wondered how they had become friends with him.

“Back then… I lost to love. The two of you overpowered me when I went after them, refusing to let me hurt them. You nearly died stopping me until Twilight could use her Rainbow Power to force me out of you.

“That might have been the end of me, but Fluttershy saw something inside of me… just like you, Flurry.”

“Who’s Fluttershy?” asked Peppermint.

Mayhem snapped his claw, and a plushie of Fluttershy appeared. He hugged it to himself, nuzzling its cheek with his own. "She's... my mommy. Or at least I like to think of her as that."

Peppermint felt some of her reservations fading. He looked so childish right now, holding a stuffed animal for comfort. It… kinda made her want to hug him herself.

“Fluttershy is one of the Elements of Friendship,” said Pound. “She represents kindness.”

Mayhem gently swayed, still holding the doll close. “Back then I didn’t have a name. I didn’t think I needed one, but she told me that having a name was the first step towards having my own identity.

“She let me live with her, always giving me so much love and attention.”

“That sure sounds like Fluttershy, alright,” said Pumpkin. “She tends to see the good in everyone.”

“Then at Pound and Pumpkin’s birthday I met all of you. You were pretty mean to me, Flurry, calling me a mix-and-match freak.”

Flurry flushed. “I did?”

“You were in the midst of your fears. You didn’t want to be at the party when you could have been home studying, so you weren’t on your best behavior.

“It took us a little while, but we all bonded together.”

He looked up at the ceiling, guilt boiling inside of him. “The reason I created myself looking like that is because I believed in all of you.”

“What do you mean?” asked Masky. “How does being the villain relate to you believing in us?”

“I know what I did in the past was bad, but I was saved by Fluttershy’s love. What I made there was symbolic. If… if I ever went bad like before I… I believed that the six of you would be able to pull me out of the darkness again. I knew you would stop at nothing to save me, because that’s what good friends do for each other.

"No matter how bad I got, as long as it was the six of you, I knew you would be able to stop me."

“Aww,” said Peppermint. “You really believed in us that much?”

“That’s part of the reason I erased your memories. I wanted to be the villain, but I knew I couldn’t really play the part so long as you were fighting as my friends instead of as strangers.

“I thought… that friendships were only made of memories. Without that bond there couldn’t possibly be friendship. And yet despite that your hearts remained connected to each other, and that power beat me.”

“Mayhem,” said Flurry, “even if we really didn’t know each other before this fight you probably still would have lost.”

He glanced over at her. “Why?”

“Because the situation you put us in is ideal for forming bonds. With so much danger around our only chance of survival was relying on each other.

“Aunt Twilight was the same way. She didn’t know any of the other Elements of Friendship when she first went to look for the Elements of Harmony, but by the time she got to the castle she had felt connected enough to the others to use the Elements to defeat Nightmare Moon.”

Mayhem let out a quiet groan. “I see. I broke your friendships because I didn’t want to let you do the impossible, but I fell into the same trap Daddy did. When he fought Twilight he turned all of them against their true selves, but they all still remembered each other. In the end their friendship overcame his influence. I decided to go a step further to get rid of those memories entirely, thinking that would ensure my victory, but I still lost.

“The magic of friendship… it truly is a wonderful, powerful thing. Even with my abilities I couldn't overcome it.”

That made all of them grin.

The Fluttershy plushie fell to the ground, and Mayhem looked down with concern. His arm was disappearing.

“Whoa!” said Pumpkin. “What’s happening to you?”

He held up what was left of his arm. “I’m not ‘real’ like my daddy is. I’m just living magic. When it’s used up I disappear until I’m released from him again.”

Mayhem lifted his other arm, which hadn’t started vanishing yet. “My time is almost up, but before I go I can do one last thing for you guys.”

He snapped his claw, and six colored balls appeared, hovering in front of them.

Flurry stared at the ball. “What is that?”

“Just take it. It’s nothing dangerous.”

Pound was the first to reach out. As he took the ball in his hooves memories raced through his head. The rush of information sent him to his knees.

“Pound!” said Pumpkin with concern.

Pound was panting slightly, but he got up on shaky hooves, grinning. “I… I remember now. I remember everything about our time together.”

The rest of them eyed the balls, taking them in their hooves. Their reactions were the same as Pounds.

After a minute they had recovered as their bodies caught up with their minds.

Mayhem slowly rubbed his hoof in small circles on the floor. "I... I know that I said I destroyed your memories, but that was a lie. I kept them safe with me all this time. I always intended to give them back once I won."

"Mayhem, you never meant it, did you?" asked Peppermint. "You were never going to kill us, were you?"

Mayhem bit his lip. "I didn't want to. Most of it was all for show. But at the very end there..." He let out a quiet sob. "... I really did mean it. I was being stubborn and a sore loser. I should have won easily, but you kept denying me what I wanted.

"Flurry wouldn't surrender no matter how much pain I put her through, and then I got so mad when she pointed out that I didn't have any friends. Those feelings inside... reminded me of what I was doing to all of you, but I didn't want to back down.

"I tried something different. I tried to get you to betray each other to prove you weren't true friends, just allies of convenience, but you still wouldn't give up. I did everything I could to avoid it, but I wanted to win no matter what... even if it meant your lives.

"A part of me just couldn't stand creatures with so much less power than me triumphing over me. I felt I had gone too far to stop. If you hadn't awakened that heart power when you did..." He couldn't finish that statement.

“The game is over,” he replied. “And you won. Soon I’ll disappear.”

“Yeah?” said Tree Leaf. “And? Just get some more energy.”

Mayhem shook his head. “I lost the game, and so… I have to face the consequences. I told you that if you beat me I would let you go home-”

“Which you did,” said Peppermint.

Mayhem hesitated, feeling a pang in his heart. “But… that wasn’t all. I said I would return to Discord, and never trouble you again.”

“What?”

“Huh?”

“No!”

“Mayhem!”

Mayhem shut his eyes tight, tears coming down his cheeks. “I… did something unforgivable to all of you. I treated you like mere toys and nearly took your lives.

“I made Flurry suffer most of all, taking away her emotional support and returning her back to her fearful state before she met all of you. I used her fears against her by making her believe that Starlight had turned against her and killed the rest of you.”

“Mayhem!” said Flurry strongly. “I forgave you for that even before you gave my memories back. I knew there was more to you than just a villain.”

“If you feel guilty for what you’ve done then you can’t be all bad,” said Pound.

“That’s right," said Pumpkin. "We learned that lesson that everyone makes big mistakes, but you can make up for them.”

Mayhem had a blank look on his face. “That doesn’t matter. Even if you forgive me I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for what I put you through. So I’m going home… for the last time.”

“Mayhem!” said Peppermint, tears streaming down her eyes. “Don’t you get it? We knew that the friend we loved was still in there somewhere.”

“Even if you made us forget it,” said Masky, “we were never fighting to beat you. Our only goal was to save you.”

"All we wanted out of this was to get our old friend back," said Pound.

Mayhem looked at all of them, grateful tears coming down his eyes. “You did save me. And that’s why I’m going away... so that I can never hurt you like that again.

“Just… forget about me. You’ll be happier that way.”

Tree Leaf was shaking with rage, tearing up as well. “But we don’t WANT to forget about you! You’re one of our friends too, and now that we have you back we want to keep you with us!”

“We won’t leave one of our own behind!” said Flurry, stomping her hoof. “If you leave now then what was the point of everything we went through?”

Mayhem's eyes shone, a sad smile coming to what was left of his face. “It makes me happy… to have such good friends. But I’m sorry. It’s too late. It’s just too late now.”

“Please, Mayhem,” said Masky. “You don’t have to do this. Me and Flurry both know what it’s like to be lonely, and I know the pain of losing a friend more than any of them. Now that I’m living in Ponyville I don’t ever want to lose another of my friends.”

Mayhem looked up at the ceiling mural, taking off what was left of his arm. At this point he was just a floating head.

The arm flew up to the ceiling, dissolving into magic particles. Underneath the shot of them facing off against one another he made another one of the seven of them hugging him, all of them smiling.

“I got to end the greatest game of my life with the best ponies in the world. It’s… a good memory to go out on, and I couldn’t be happier that I lost.

“Thank you for everything, but this is goodbye. I… I love all of you!”

All of them were crying as he disappeared completely, hot tears coming down their eyes. Despite his small size, the feel of his absence in the room was immense.

Author's Note:

At last Mayhem has been brought to his senses, feeling the weight of his crimes. But what comes next?

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