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Vinyl and Octavia need to hug for eight hours – or the building explodes.

A commission for Dakastan, edited by MrNumbers. Special thanks to him, and to Crystal Wishes for the ornithological help.

Patreon. Ko-fi. Picture of me looking handsome

Chapters (9)
Comments ( 128 )



(Eagle-eyed readers will notice that this is clearly set before Episode 100 (so, in season 5), but Gauntlet of Fire (season 6) has already happened! This is because the timeline of the show is a bit wonky and ep100 kinda sits out of it? So I played with the chain of events a bit, since in my opinion it made for a much better story and it genuinely doesn't affect the reading experience unless you're so detail-focused you notice that tiny lil detail.

Still, transparency is a good policy! So, that's a thing. Just in case it bothered you.)

You're a madman.

How are you not dead!?

How am I not dead!?

Did you know that Aragorn's fics are a great way of taking the edge off of having your ankle in a cast?

MLP's timeline is "Don't think about it."

Holy carp. :twilightoops:

Almost anybody but you doing this would get a hard pass... but... damn. Onto the kindle in the #2 slot it goes.

Now that's an A+ description if I ever did saw one.

But more importantly, it was a smirk that meant danger, and many monsters threatening Equestria had learned this the hard way in the past. It was a smirk that meant, things are getting interesting.


“Nah, I’m the best.” Bon waved a hoof and winked at Vinyl, and she was brimming with so much confidence she almost made it work. Almost. “That’s why it’s high treason, instead of regular treason, right?”

I can't help but feel that isn't how it works.

“Oh, yeah, definitely. But they don’t do it for the nourishment. It’s purely for the entertainment value.”

You're making things worse.

“Every word that comes out of your mouth makes you sound more and more like a sociopath.” She took a sip of the coffee, cringed again. “By all means, go on.”

Can't help but feel that if you replace "word" and "mouth" by "fic" and "your account", this could be someone talking to Aragon.

“I might not be good, but I’m still the best.” Bon gave Vinyl another of her tuxedo winks, the ones that made you realize this mare could sweettalk your mother into burning your house down if she wanted to.

That worries me even more.

“Like, that wasn’t an euphemism. There is a scheduling error in the guarding of that backdoor gate. I keep telling you, we as a species are really bad at this whole thing.”

That is only slightly better.

“Oh, definitely. What could possibly go wrong?”

And then Luna offered Vinyl a hoof. “Also, hi! I am Princess Luna. How are you doing. My sister is terrible at security but I am also a Princess here now. We work well as a team. I am charmed to meet you!”

Well, this is going well.

“That is actually a very accurate description of them, yes!” Octavia said, nodding again, this time with more enthusiasm. “They are terribly maladjusted to modern society. Most ponies think they’re psychopaths. Just like you!”

“…You mean that I believe that, or that I myself am one?”

“I don’t know! I really don’t like your mane, so it’s hard to judge. But you sound very nice, too! So anything goes.”

Yeah that sounds about right.

“Mmm.” A nod. “I think I had already said that I’m… how was it?” Octavia tapped her chin. “Ridiculously aristocratic?”


“Psycho killers, yes! That’s what she said. I’m so good at remembering.” Then Octavia looked at Princess Luna and the dragon again, huge smile on. “So! This would be a great chance to prove her wrong! You can cackle more later if you want to. I might even join!”


Vinyl gave up and stopped struggling. She put her shades on again. “I hate you all so much,” she said. “So much.”

I've been there.

And in that moment, after Octavia had brilliantly introduced the dragon and solved every conflict in the room with her insane social skills, Vinyl Scratch just got very, very quiet, and very, very still.

Oh boy.

And that’s how Vinyl and Octavia found out about the bomb that would change their lives forever.

I beg your pardon?


"Well, they'll be very relevant soon if you keep struggling like that."

This made Bon Bon stop. She didn’t exactly lose her cool, but she did relax a little, and took off her glasses. “Because,” she said, matter-of-factly, “this is really boring. There is no way the hydras are attacking, and if I’m going to waste my entire day patrolling a completely empty place, I’d rather keep you by my side.” Then arched an eyebrow. “There. I just like you a lot. Happy?”

I, what?

Princess Luna cocked her head to the side. “Have you not been trying to do that for the last ten minutes?”

She has.

“Trust me, if I wanted to get Octavia off me, I would’ve done it already. She’s not exactly strong.” Vinyl rolled around so she would be laying on top, and held Octavia against her chest, too, shooting her a quick look. “Also, sorry for that. Was trying to bluff back there.”

Oh wow.

Luna nodded. She looked serious now. “That is not a very good threat,” she said, softly. She unfolded her wings slightly, and in that moment she looked bigger than ever. Stronger than ever. “I do believe that you will die in the explosion, Vinyl Scratch, but you would be foolish to think,” and she did not quite snarl, but she did show her teeth more than necessary when talking, and a fang showed, “that a mere bomb could hurt me.

Oh. She, has a point.

I am very good at murder.

So it would seem.

“Yes! But it is a great secret. We need to drink the blood of an innocent first, it is a hassle.”


Princess Luna arched an eyebrow. “I believe I have explained it already, at least in part,” she said. “I am teaching Mister Labcoat how to understand friendship without using murder or wanton violence.”

So I designed the bomb,” Labcoat added. “I wanted to see how hugs react to murder and wanton violence.


So Princess Luna heard it. And she did something funny with her face: she looked understanding, but also kind of uncomfortable. “Ah, well. Yes. I understand your plight, Vinyl Scratch. But I swore I would protect my sister at all costs when I came back. I simply do not care to risk her wellbeing, unfair as the situation must be.”

I, what?

I do not know. Does it count as murder?

If you're directly responsible for it, yes.

The outer wall of Luna’s study exploded in sudden burst of dust, glass, and rubble.

Beg pardon?

“Would you say we are under attack?”

I would say yes.

We have a problem.”

So it'd seem.




Wait, so...this takes place before episode 100...but Lyra already knows Bon-Bon's a secret agent?

Yeah! It gets explained later, so keep reading. I'm doing A Thing with that.

Ye gods. The opening section sold me on this, and everything onwards contrived to sell me harder.

Looking forward to reading the rest of this and enthusing at length when done. This is gold. :pinkiehappy:

The Bearers acting as a grease trap for the life lessons others fail to learn makes a disturbing amount of sense. And is disturbing in general.

And they were currently bursting with hydras and dragons fighting it out.


“Sure!” Dash grabbed the lever again, and took off—but she paused before disappearing. “Wait, do I talk to the hydras before dropping the boulder?”


“Well, I make sure that they tell me that don’t want to talk first,” Shy explained, looking down and pawing the ground with a hoof. “They aren’t really nice.” Then, spirit back up, she looked at Twilight. “But I’m sure not all hydras are like that! There must be one or two that are good, right?”

I sincerely doubt it. Also, even if they did exist, I doubt this one is.

Rarity popped from the same corner Applejack had turned minutes ago—but she was definitely not in a rush. She just walked with her usual delicate trot, and nothing else.

Of course.

This made Twilight frown, and approach Rarity. She looked at the necklace, but nothing rang a bell about it. “Odd. Did they say where the other half was?”

I, what?

Then, suddenly, out in the northern part of the Castle—an explosion. A hydra screaming. The entire Castle trembled, and the sound of rubble falling. The acoustics of the Gardens were so good that they could even hear some of the ponies inside screaming with high-pitched voices.

Goddammit Pinkie Pie.

Octavia’s voice sounded sympathetic enough to be frustrating. “Oh,” she said. “My apologies. Concussion not treating you well?”

Not one bit.

“I will! I will take a guess.” Octavia made a thinking face—like a pout, but more intellectual—and then hummed a little. “Hum hum hum. Some kind of terrible monster?”

Technically yes.

And Octavia smiled, and fluttered her eyelashes. “Oh, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

... Huh. Interesting.

You hug someone, and you feel their warmth, their heartbeat, and they feel yours. Hugs are special things. Hugs are powerful things.


“Yes!” Octavia nodded with enthusiasm. “And we caused very little damage, all things considered! Far from my intentions to toot my own horn, but the craftsmanship of this Castle is amazing! Don’t you think?”

I, what?

“We build things very quietly.”

... Dude, I don't know how you do it, but all your characters seem simultaneously very different, yet also the same, it's, kinda entrancing.

“I’ve actually suffered a lot of brain damage, let’s get out of here.”

Brain damage sucks.

“It does! Which is why I’m asking you to check it!” Octavia kept hugging Vinyl with one front leg, but took the other out and pushed Vinyl’s hoofs downwards. Towards her backside. “Just lower your hooves a little bit, gently lift my tail and go to town with—

OK, you are doing this on purpose!

“Oh?” Octavia snickered, cutesy, and then admitted: “In a sense! Building Canterlot Castle is not a small feat, right? So my family…”

“Is really smug about it?”

So it would seem.

“Riveting. Then again, I guess that when you’re as bad as Equestria at homeland security, at one point you just legitimately stop caring.”

I guess so, yes.

And Octavia made a face. “Ooof,” she said. “Yes, I suppose that’s—one a month?”

One a week sounds closer.

“I nuzzled you!”

Yes, but why?

“Not anymore! And that’s the important part.” Octavia nodded, both to herself and to Vinyl. “You were saying?”

... You scare me.

“Whatever, I said. I stand by it. Sounds like a plan?”

Not a good one, but a plan regardless.

“Really? I do?” Octavia immediately turned to Vinyl, and she light up like a million stars at night. The smile she put on crossed her entire face. “Oh, but you don’t have to say that, you sly, you!” She gently, playfully slapped Vinyl’s shoulder. “Come on, tell me the truth! I can take it.”

You're doing this on purpose.

“As long as you’re a bowl of soup yourself,” Vinyl added, glaring at the ridiculously tiny entrance to the dumbwaiter. “Which we are not, I gotta add. No way we fit in there.”

Not at all.

They couldn’t get in.

Surprising nobody. ANd even if you got in, your combined weight would break it.

“…Olive oil,” Octavia purred. Purred . It gave Vinyl shivers; if good or bad, she had no idea. “Vinyl?”

Oh boy.

“I think I know what we need to do now!” Octavia looked at Vinyl now, trickster smile on her face, showing just a tiny bit of teeth. It made her look like a little devil. “What do you usually do when you find a very tight hole?

... Get, lube?

Sure, it would deliver the bowl in time. The soup itself? Not so much.


The one thing that saved their lives—and their bones—was nothing other than engineering ingenuity: while the dumbwaiter on the dungeons had been designed to make it easier to take the bowls of soup out, the one in the kitchen had been made to facilitate placing the bowls in.

And out?

They simply got slingshotted out at supersonic speed.


“That was way more exciting that I thought it would be! And also terrifying. I almost died! Let’s never do it again?”

Good choice.

Octavia pointed with her head towards the left side of the room. “There seems to be a hydra there.”

That is a problem.

She skibbity bops.

I'd have said pronks.



By the time Octavia and Vinyl managed to catch their breath and try—and fail—to roll their way to Pinkie, the hydra was rolling on the ground, blind, deaf, tearing up, gasping for breath, and begging for mercy.

Sounds about right.

“You have no idea how bad are Rarity’s Little Talks!” Pinkie whined, jumping in place but in a very nervous-not-quite-happy way. “They’re terrible! She’s been practicing with Sweetie Belle for years! And Sweetie Belle is actually little herself!


“We do!” Octavia said. “It is pretty hard to live in Canterlot without knowing Pinkie Pie. She keeps saving the city! Or burning it down.”

It worries me that that sounds about right.

“Mind you, she never asked for permission.” Vinyl had her glasses on again, and they hid most of her face, but it was still pretty clear she was glaring at Pinkie. “She literally just started kneading us like that and then laughed a lot.”

She does that.

“It was terrifying and has literally done nothing but worsen our situation.”

She also does that.

Vinyl and Octavia were floating at an angle so they could both look at Twilight, which meant that Octavia got a perfect first-row sight at just how hard Vinyl flinched at this comment. “Oof,” she said. “Right. Did Destiny force the call on you guys?”


“Ah.” Pinkie blinked. “Aaaah. Then who’s the one who never learns?”



Octavia was looking at her with eyes the size of plates.

Oh no.

“That is a lot of information about explosives I was not expecting from an electronic musician.”

No idea what you’re talking about.”

You make a good point.

And Twilight grimaced. “Ugh. I need to talk to the Princesses about tightening our national security.”

Oh please.

“Don’t mention it. And…” Twilight gave them a stern look. “This goes without saying? But don’t go rediscovering the true meaning of friendship while we’re not looking, you two. That would put all of our efforts to waste.”

And to this last point, Vinyl Scratch replied with a cocky grin, and a smug look, and as much swagger as she could put in her voice. “Oh, don’t worry,” she said. “I am absolutely sure that is not going to happen.”

You are enjoying this.


...What sort of a benevolent leader employs an agency that so casually deals in souls?!

Vinyl Scratch didn’t like that corridor at all.

I can't imagine you would.

“Yeah, I see your point. That’s a lot of responsibility for a government worker. It’s just really useful, though?” Vinyl shrugged. “You sell a couple souls and things get done for you. Sometimes it’s the only way they can finish a job. You can’t really blame them for that.”

Not sure I agree on that last one.

“Yes, but damnation only gets you once you die. And hey, you can always sell souls to a slightly stronger demon so he frees the ones you sold to the old one, right? As long as you make sure everypony’s got their soul back before they die, you can keep the ball rolling. Especially if you’re good at haggling.”

I am impressed and disturbed. What happens when you hit to the top of the food chain though?

“Books are highly flammable!”

Point taken.

And it went straight into Vinyl’s nose, who then did the one thing no unicorn should ever do when focusing a lot of magic in her horn:

She sneezed.

Oh no.

“Also, it just registered you said you fear that we’re not dying! Which somehow only makes this situation even more terrifying.” Octavia couldn’t quite look around because she was under Vinyl, but she still tried. She looked downstairs, and let out a low whistle. “Oooh, we can’t roll down these. Not enough brain damage to think that’s a good idea.”

*nervous laugh*

“Which should not be possible, right? Physically.” And Vinyl’s expression clouded, but only a little. She was resting her head on Octavia’s shoulder still, and she was not looking at the banister anymore. “But I guess Destiny doesn’t really play by the rules most of the time. You don’t have to, when you’re the one who made the game.”

I suppose that is fair, what IS your point?

Then suddenly Octavia squeezed Vinyl so hard that Vinyl felt her ribs make a very particular noise, and lost the ability to breathe. “Dear Celestia,” Octavia whispered, and the passion in those two words would have set an entire forest on fire. “I am so sorry to hear this, Vinyl.


Vinyl nodded. Then she arched an eyebrow. “Want me to just pretend that you know while I tell you anyway?”

It'd be nice.

“Yeah.” Vinyl peeked up, just for a moment, just to make eye contact as she spoke before going back to snuggling again. “Up until two years ago, I was a member of the Equestrian Secret Service.”

So what happened.

Vinyl was at such a state of giving up that she just shrugged and snuggled harder. “You got it, girl,” she said. “All cards on the table, who cares anyway. I’ve sold so many souls to Hell, Octavia.”

“Wonderful!” Octavia’s voice was sweet like a cherry and fresh like peppermint ice-cream. “Wonderful. That is absolutely horrifying!”


“You sell the soul of a pony to wipe their memories out? That’s almost as bad as literally everything else that’s been said in this conversation so far!” Octavia’s eyes went wide. “And that’s a bold claim to make!”

You are not wrong.

“You’re such a great acquaintance.” Vinyl backed up the sass with some eyebrow-arching of the finest quality, but to be honest, a bit of a smile made it to her face. So she kinda looked like an idiot, when saying all this. “But, yeah, I was… miserable.” She closed her eyes. “Let’s leave it at that.”


“Octavia, you were born with more riches than I’ll ever see in my life.”

That is correct.

“We’ve already done it! Destiny wants us to get close to each other, but we already did it! Don’t you see it?” Vinyl squeezed Octavia tight; tight enough to almost hurt a little. “We don’t have to do anything! The true dodging of our responsibilities was the friends we made along the way!


Whatever happens from now on, I’m sure we’ll be just fine!”

Give it a second.

Then Vinyl frowned. “On the other hoof, you know,” she said. “I guess this is also a possibility.”

That happens when you're written by Aragon.


So...this WAS Celestia's plan all along, even though she specifically said it wasn't?

A wet sound came from Vinyl’s mouth and ate up her words. Wasn’t a pretty one.


Something red and hot started to drip down the side.

That's bad.

Of course you’re not in a hospital,” Daring Do replied, dryly. “This is the Castle’s infirmary. You wish I were that responsible.”


“Ah, hahah.” Octavia looked at Daring Do. “We’ve both got so many concussions.”

I can tell.

So, as far as Octavia was concerned, hey. That was a win. That’s the best thing about dumb dogs: you give them a treat, and they’re yours for life.

Or in the case of mine, throw him the ball.

“Hey!” Daring Do leaned harder on the bed, and she took off her hat to give her frown more emphasis. “Are you two ignoring me?”

They are. They super are.

“I—! That’s—!” Octavia blinked. Frowned. Fumed. “You’re on thin ice.”

What else is new?

“Oh hey, look.” Daring Do had a weird smile on her face, and she looked at Vinyl like a father looks at his kid after catching him with a cigarette. “She’s self-aware! Isn’t she cute?”


“Everything is going terribly, and we’re all gonna die. Also you’re not helping.”

Nothing new in Aragon's stories.

And suddenly Vinyl’s eyes were wide as plates, and she looked at Octavia with an almost pleading expression. “No!” she whispered. “Don’t tell her anything about that!”


Octavia cringed. “Oh, dear.”

I'm with you.

“Everything is going terribly, and we’re all going to die.”


Octavia was pretty much glowing with pride. “I am a purebreed Pianissimo! Very inbred!”

I can tell.

“Oh, but that’s the thing, Scratch,” Daring said. They turned a corner again. “You’re already involved. Think about it—something that can kill a dragon? That’s a lot of magical energy to store in a physical object.” She put the Can of Wyrms under her shirt again. “Made by the coltpixies? Ancient? That sounds like—”

Oh no.

Octavia fluttered her eyelashes at Vinyl. “I did! I suppose adoption is always a possibility, but that’s about it. I’m certainly not getting pregnant any time soon!”

I see.

“…She just what? Gently lifts your tail now and then?” Daring Do cocked her head to the side, looking at Vinyl. “Is this like a thing you two have got going or something?”

Not really.

It still stung, mind you—it would sting for a while after this—but she could move it. She did not have as much strength as earlier, but she would get it back. And most importantly, her shoulder wasn’t actually broken.

Dislocations hurt, but it can be fixed fairly easily.

“HNNG—” It took a moment for Vinyl to unstiffen, and then: “Octavia, I can’t even begin to describe the pain.”

I believe you.

“Oh, I know him! Good little Label.” Octavia nodded. “I could probably get you a meeting with him if you want to?”

That'd be nice.

And Octavia’s eyes went wide, and her ears perked up. “Oh!” she said. “Oh! My!

“I have absolutely no idea. I think she’s just trying to be cute.”

I think she's succeeding.

“I’m throwing myself out a window.” Daring shot them her most wonderful smile. “Mademoiselle?”

So it would appear.

“It was also really fun!” Octavia continued. “In a sort of, suicidal kind of way? We should do it again later!”


“Good afternoon, Daring Do. And good afternoon to you too, Octavia Pianissimo and Vinyl Scratch. I’ve been waiting for you.”

Of course you have.

And Daring Do clicked her tongue and said: “I really want to punch you right now, Princess. How’s it going?”

So the usual.

Princess Celestia smiled at her. “My kingdom is under attack, and I fear for the fate of my subjects, in spite of all my careful planning.

So the usual.

“That—what. What?” Daring Do looked at Vinyl. “I’m actively trying to save the world here! Do you really want me to waste time assaulting the princess just because I’m angry?”


So Octavia, wasting no time, pressed Vinyl’s face against her chest, and talked: “We do! We do want to punch her. I do wonder what will break first, my hoof of her cheek?”

Your hoof.

“It makes penitence particularly difficult, Daring Do.”

I suppose that's fair.

And Daring Do shrugged. “I punched a hydra.”

“And that was enough to convince her?”

“I punched a hydra really hard.

Perfect logic.

“Hah.” Daring Do’s expression was so cocky it could have sung at sunrise. “Happens often. Don’t sweat it.”

You're loving this.

“Man and to think Daring Do believed there was some kind of conspiracy here! How utterly embarrassing!

You're enjoying this a lot.

“I am absolutely not included in the plan whatsoever. I’m not going to play any part in saving the world today.”

Not today.

“It’s funny because she’s miserable!” Octavia said.

Thank you, Octavia.

And then, suddenly, everything made sense.

That happens.

“I somehow feel,” Celestia interrupted, raising a hoof in the air to catch their attention, “that we got sidetracked

That happens.

“And yet,” and it was Octavia who talked, and it was merely a whisper, but her voice still carried across the entire room and it seemed to echo against the walls, “you didn’t ask any of them before forcing Vinyl to follow her Destiny against her will today.”

Oh damn.

“—Impossible for the hydragon to ignore. Yes. I must admit, however, that the prospect of peace talks with the dragons also held a certain attractive quality. My sister is trying to teach them the merits of friendship.” Celestia looked up. “Luna has a wicked sort of wisdom, one that I sadly lack. I trust she might be on to something.”

She is not. Not by any means.

Octavia stopped nuzzling her, and stared at Celestia. “The hydragon was too dangerous for Twilight Sparkle—so you threw Vinyl under the bus?”


“Yes.” Celestia nodded, looking at Octavia, now. “I believed Vinyl Scratch would not be alone. She would be well-rested. She was properly trained, and she was the one Destiny would call first anyway.” She pressed a hoof against her chest. “I do not ask for forgiveness, and I understand that what I did was wrong. I hate that you have to go through this. But I would be lying if I said that I would not do the same again, if I had to.”


“I see.” Octavia looked away. “Then I suppose that explains why your sister betrayed you a thousand years ago.”

*inhales sharply*

And Princess Celestia looked at it. “Which means that now it is my turn to fight.”


“Ah would be really condescendin’ about it.”


“Did you two,” she eventually asked, vocalizing every word as carefully as possible, “just make up? Like that?”


And that was the end of this fight.

... Yeah, sounds depressingly accurate.

With a blink of magic, Princess Luna appeared right in front of the nobleponies, Vinyl, and Octavia.

She mad.

“It is always such a pleasure to see you are safe! I was ready to lose control and destroy everything in sight.”

You have that bad habit.

“Well.” Celestia had to stop and stare after this, the glory and quiet dignity of her posture stuttering somewhat. “That was unexpected.”

I imagine, yes.

“We already knew that, Sister.”

And, you didn't mention this earlier, why?

“Yes. Absolutely. But also.” Vinyl tapped the back of Octavia’s neck, causing her to look up. “I think meeting you has been the only good thing Destiny has ever done for me. I’m almost thankful for that. Thanks for everything you’ve done. For real.”


The sound echoed across the entire Ballroom. It was similar to the sound of a nail tearing through fabric, but much meatier, much wetter. Daring Do wasn’t hit squarely by one of the hydragon’s heads, but she did get grazed—grazed enough for there to be blood.

Well, she isn't dead.

It landed on the hydragon squarely, right down on its four necks.

SNAPPED. Wait, so, Hydras in this universe have the head regen thing?

The hydragon shrugged it away and threw it to the side.

Apparently it doesn't matter.

But that said, no matter how strong you are, an adult hydra charging at you from across the room by surprise is slightly hard to react to.

I'd imagine, yes.

And Celestia nodded at her. "You are right, Luna. I stand corrected." Then she looked at Bon Bon. "That sounds uncharacteristically and worryingly morbid for my subjects, Agent Sweetie Drops."

"The manager was a nouveau riche and this is Canterlot, Princess."


“Are you sure? That’s only a step away from total moral decadence!” Octavia patted Vinyl’s head. “We could almost turn you into an honorary noblepony if you do that!”

You worry me.

“I am charmingly naive yet childishly wise!”

Sounds par for the course.

Daring Do arched an eyebrow. “You tortured and brainwashed a hydra just for fun?”

“If it helps, we mostly did it in self-defense. It kept trying to eat us.”

“And it kept missing!” Pinkie added. “It was a whole process.”

... You terrify me.

“Sure! I’ve heard being humble can be great sometimes. Never felt the need myself.”

You too?

“It was that or having a nervous breakdown,” Vinyl said.

Fair enough I suppose.

“At this point I think it’s kind of their fault?” Bon Bon said, squinting. “But if I say that, Rarity yells that’s victim blaming, and then she hits me in the face with a rolled-up newspaper.”

Isn't that Sunset's bit?

“Go get whapped with a newspaper! Seriously!” Daring Do looked at Celestia. “Am I the only normal one here, Princess? Is everypony who works under you either weird or a total idiot or something?”


Princess Luna’s eyes were bigger than normal. They weren’t completely white, not yet, but the irises were paler; grey, rather than black. She took two steps forward, and the temperature of the room went down two degrees.

Oh dear.

“You are a graceful ruler, Sister. That is your burden to bear.” Luna kept on staring at Octavia. Her eyes grew paler still. “But I fell from grace once already. I do not mind doing it again.”

... I am stealing that line. I am actually stealing that line at some point.

“Hahah.” Pinkie Pie looked at Twilight, grinning. “Twilight?” she said. “This is where you say you’ve never done that.”

Twilight gulped. “Uh. Um.”


“That sounds like something we could do,” Vinyl said.

But you're not going to.

“It does not,” Princess Celestia said. “The Can of Wyrm, a pending friendship lesson…” She looked at Twilight, and Vinyl and Octavia. “The situation is looking more and more fateful, by the second.”

Oh joy.

Against a hydra? Hey. You might have a fighting chance. You might get lucky.

I suppose that's a good point.

Third hydra. It took Luna almost an extra second to grab this one while keeping the other two in the air. The monster almost made it to the nobleponies.

Monsters have no interest or appreciation for one liners.

“Oh, hey!” Dash caught one end of the curtain. Daring Do was still holding the other one. “We’re using something fancy as a weapon instead of for its intended use?”

As per usual.

Vinyl wasn’t reacting.

Oh, she is in full terror paralysis mode.

The hydra stopped, dead in its tracks, inches away from Octavia—and looked at Fluttershy.

I can't believe this is working.

“Oooh, yes.” Fluttershy nodded again, smiling at Octavia. “It is interesting. Did you know I have social anxiety myself?”


“Thank you! I have been working on it a lot. It’s a slow process, but I try.”

And you've been working very hard on it.

Octavia nodded. “Of course! It’s either that or have a breakdown myself, and we really don’t have the time for that.”

You really don't.

Bon Bon stood to attention, eyes perked up. A second hydra was approaching. “Fight first, talk later. How does Vinyl feel about explosions?”


“Oh, right, you were going to eat me!” And Pinkie’s smile got a little bit strained. “Hah. Hah, hah. Whoopsie.”

To say the least.

“Well, I don’t know! It’s why I’m asking. This sounds like the kind of thing a commoner should know about! You’re all very degenerate in your own way.”

I, beg your pardon?

“Ugh.” Daring Do swallowed, and closed her eyes. “You know, my plan of fighting hydras while bleeding out?”


“Not my brightest idea.”

I could have told you that.

“Hnng.” Twilight flinched, but she managed to get up with Celestia’s help. Her left leg was weak, so she had to favor the right. “Yes. Are we done with the fight? I really need to take a nap.”

Oh good, she's alive.

And then, with sheer horror, she heard the hydragon roaring. Right behind them.

Oh dear.

“Daring Do.” A familiar voice, and Daring Do blinked, only to see Bon Bon enter her line of sight. “You look worse than usual Please tell me all this blood is not yours.”

Gonna have to disappoint you.

“Ah, a perfectly safe assumption,” Celestia said. “But your necklace never pointed at them, did it? Even once it was complete. I would have never trusted Mister Labcoat with a piece of the Can of Wyrms. Too much power for someone with his curiosity.”

Wait, what?

“And the third one.” Celestia flashed her horn again, and cracked her crown in two. The largest gemstone in it—the purple one, roughly the size of an eye—came out. Celestia floated it towards Daring Do. “The third one was for the ponies. In my possession.”


Blue blood was tasty. Eating an Equestrian princess would be a stupid move, most of them were either omnipotent or really hardcore—but blue blood was tasty.

You magnificent BASTARD.

“It’s been almost exactly eight hours! Can’t you see it?” Vinyl shook her head, looked at the hydragon. “This was the plan from the start! We get shot out of the Castle and detonate the bomb, and we take out that thing from the inside out without destroying the whole Castle! And if we don’t do it now, the bomb will turn off, and we’ll have missed our chance!”

Aragon, you insane son of a bitch.

Hell is a very unpleasant place.

I'd imagine.

“My Name Is Forneus. Great Marquis Of Hell.” The demon talked, and its voice was like a million bees stinging your ears. He was difficult to describe—it had mouths, and horns, and tails, and arms. None of them were in the right place. “I Have Been Summoned.”

Oh, actually hell.

This made Forneus stop and think. The demon’s body language was not exactly easy to decipher, but Vinyl didn’t need to be a genius to realize that he was interested. “The Soul,” he said, “Of A Hero. But You Will Die.”

So be it.

“See! That’s the problem with secret agents! You’re so predictable! Something bad happens, and what do you do? You immediately summon a demon. Seriously, get better material, Scratch.”


“Not because I want you. I don’t like your type.”

Few do.

“Which soul?” she asked, dragon-slaying smile on her face. “Yours.”

*evil giggle*

Nopony tried to split them apart.



Benevolent leader doesn't mean clean hands. It means everything they do, they do to give everyone a better life than they otherwise would have had. :trollestia:


Better life? They're in a dystopian autocracy with no clue how awful things really are. Also one of their supreme leaders is a terrifying sociopath.

Yeh but it's like, played for laughs. So they're all happy n shit. Look at em go all chipper and cute.

“We’re not going to do that!” Octavia chirped, right before taking a third sip. “Oh wow this really is the worst coffee I’ve ever had.”

So why do you drink it?

“Right. Right.” Joe nodded again, took the bill out of his breast pocket, and placed it on the bedside table next to the other two cups of coffee. “I’m just going to leave.”


“Say,” Vinyl said once they were left alone again. “I heard his coffee machine got busted during the hydra invasion? I was afraid that his coffee would get better with the new one.” She flashed her horn, and one of the cups went floating towards her. She took a sniff, and her entire face crumpled. “I’m glad to see he hasn’t lost his touch.”

Why DO You drink it if it's so awful?

“Vinyl, I am angry, not stupid.”


“We have a corrupt government?”


Bon Bon frowned. She wasn’t wearing her suit or her sunglasses—although she was carrying saddlebags with her. “It’s not that easy.”

It really is.

“I used the Can of Wyrms to cauterize it.” Pause. Daring Do looked to the side. “Kind of. It’ll be okay—I can take care of it on the road; Sugar Song’s got first aid training.”

You're insane.

“It would, but that kind of thing goes to your head. I’d rather do things the old fashioned way and not risk going mad, with power.”


“I’m a musician!” Octavia said, pointing at her flank. “And I have been teaching Vinyl how to be decadent! The first step is to never work, ever.”

I see.

“Right,” Daring Do said. “The inbreeding, I take.”


Octavia arched an eyebrow, and looking at Vinyl. “That sounds awfully stupid,” she said.

That hasn't stopped her before.

Octavia licked her lips to get the last drops of coffee off her muzzle, and then she nudged Vinyl with her head until the later gave up and opened her arms. Once Octavia was comfortable—resting her back on Vinyl’s chest, Vinyl hugging her from behind and resting her chin on Octavia’s head—she talked. “Is this Lyra not a secret agent?” she asked.

She is not.

“Merchant family! Petite bourgeoise. I only like them when they stay in their lane.”

I, see.

And Bon Bon sighed. “I need to erase your memories. Anything related to the Secret Service, and Hell, and so on.”


“I’ll stop feeling guilty about leaving the Service,” Vinyl said, frowning at her shades. “It feels a bit like cheating.”

Take it.

“It’s convenient!” Octavia repeated. “I don’t think you will forget the trauma, but it’ll probably be easier on you if you just thought you were volunteering, yes?”


That is how hugs react to murder and wanton violence so far.


Vinyl was going to say something more, but Celestia interrupted them with a light laugh, one that brightened up the room. “Do not worry, Vinyl Scratch,” she said when she saw Vinyl looking at her and Octavia with confusion in her eyes. “It is refreshing, to know that some ponies are not scared of showing open hostility towards me. I should be held accountable for my actions, just like anypony else.”

I suppose that's fair.

I did not know that.” Labcoat nodded, writing something down. “Pony hugs are more powerful than I expected. I wanted to thank you. You have taught me valuable things about friendship.


Yes. We dragons have been suspicious of friendship for a long while. Since it kills us.” There was a weird glint in Labcoat’s eye as he looked at Vinyl and Octavia. “But you have taught me it can be used to kill many other things. Bigger things. Powerful things.” Labcoat stopped writing and closed his notebook again. “There is no need to study friendship through murder and violence. Friendship is murder and violence.

I, that is technically correct.

“Because I would not want you to unfairly accuse Mister Labcoat of something he did not do.” Celestia’s face was calm, but her eyes were intense. “I do not think that is fair.”


“In a way, it was,” Celestia said. “But while Twilight did appreciate my efforts to try to protect her, she did not like me doing it behind her back. She is not a little filly anymore, and she can take care of her own problems. She made sure to remind me of that.”

Best that can be hoped for.

“It’s too… elegant? Too clean. Was it really a coincidence that Daring Do was here to begin with?”

I choose to believe no.

“Indeed.” Celestia looked up, at her crown. It was complete again—big gemstone included. “Sometimes, when Destiny gets involved, everything tends to happen in a very specific order, Vinyl Scratch. But I was saying the truth when I told Daring Do that I had not taken her into account.”

You scare me.

“Gggh.” Vinyl shook her head. “Okay, I guess I haven’t been exactly subtle about this, have I.”


They both shut up, and perked up their ears. In the distance, they could hear something echoing through the hospital corridors—Rarity, screaming bloody murder.

So, nothing new.

Uncalled for, Octavia. A ruler is one who has to make hard, unkind, unfair decisions for the good of everyone - bearing the weight of those decisions is the burden that is the crown, and they're a tyrant if they don't feel it. Even at the expense of some. It would be evil if you refused to sacrifice one person to save the world, for instance.

Vinyl is wearing down Equestria's most powerful and last line of defense, at some point it's going to fail and every pony is going to die - and if whatever it is is strong enough to take down Equestria, the rest of the world is going to fall after it. If Celestia didn't make such a decision I'd have called BS. If you don't sacrifice, you're leaving it up to someone else to sacrifice for you, or someone to sacrifice you. Individual desires be damned if everything is at stake. Consent be damned if everything is at stake. Do whatever it takes and feel guilty about it afterwards. The lives and safety of everyone should not be dependent on morality, ethical considerations, and permission. Anyone feeling indignant about that has far too much unwarranted self-importance.

But, the emotions driving Octavia to say that are very strong, and very pure, so it's also understandable for someone to think that way. Also she's just adorable and this has been otherwise hilarious!


Isn't that because their souls are stripped from them to erase their memories?

I absolutely adore this story. Aragon keeps knocking them out of the park.

I don't think you're wrong, but let's remember that Vinyl is suffering from PTSD. She's honestly incapable of performing her duties adequately at this stage.

No— well, no because somepony else's soul is getting sacrificed— but also that's not the point. It's an absurdist comedy. It's like complaining about how dysfunctional Malcolm in the Middle is or getting freaked out by the M&M commercials where they eat other M&M's. If you don't like it that's fine, but it's a built-in part of the genre, not an objective problem.


Wait, M&M's eat each other?!

Sometimes. Ms. Brown set Red up to be eaten by a Celeb, Red threw Yellow under a bus, the Patric Warburton has them eating the non-talking varients... there's some weird stuff out there.

a dozen poniesy

Stray 'y' in ponies there. Can't wait to see Vinyl as uninvolved as physically possible.

“We don’t have to do anything! The true dodging of our responsibilities was the friends we made along the way!

This story is spectacular thanks.

“WHY!” dodge, punch, “WON’T! YOU!” dodge, punch, “DIE!”

Nanomachines, son.

reads description
Well, that sounds like a nice and silly little one-shot.

goes to read it

90k story.


Was it? I might've gotten it mixed up (edited this a lot; and eventually you stop seeing mistakes, especially when it's so long) but checking the previous chapter, I see a mention of Daring Do favoring her left side, implying she's hurt on the right.

For the record, both Vinyl and Daring Do get hurt -- Vinyl on the left, Daring Do on the right. If you or anybody catches a case where I accidentally say otherwise, please tell me! I am very dumb.

Not gonna lie -- while I appreciate and admire (and fear) the way you saw a 90k words long story and went 'fuck it, I'm going to read it in one go', and then proceeded to do that and comment on every chapter, and I think that's great? Having super long comments where you literally just quote a line or two and react with 'Hm' or 'what?' or 'Yeah' or other monosyllables is...

It's very, very spammy. Like I'm glad you liked it enough to do that. but I woke up to seven super long comments that make the comment section hard to navigate, and they say absolutely nothing. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I won't delete this because fuck having 9 deleted comments in a row, but this is super spammy, dude. Next time, quote only one or two things and try to say something, please? A simple 'I really liked this chapter! This bit was funny' or 'I didn't like this chapter as much! This bit was confusing' is much easier on everybody, including other commenters.


Ah, my bad, sorry, it's, I guess you could call it a force of habit. I'll try to stick to actual snark and commentary instead of monosyllabism (not sure if that's a word) next time.

Not gonna lie, I absolutely loved these characterizations. The story is epic and amazing and had that absolutely godawful pun in the dungeons and it's the best thing I've read for ages.

It super is.

This is made all the better/worse given how Celestia has the ability to suppress memories for decades in a recent comic.

No. I know the Princesses. They always do this, it looks dumb up until it doesn’t, and then it all wraps up nicely, and it always involves me.

Dragons are easy, hydras are hard.


In a recent comic, as part of the IDW 20/20 thing, there were some feline ambassadors visiting Canterlot and Rainbow performed a Sonic Rainboom during a thunderstorm. And everyone was wearing their Elements for some reason. The girls got flung back in time and met their past selves immediately after getting their Cutie Marks. All 12 of them met up in Ponyville and searched for the Elements so they could open a portal back to the present, and along the way the kid versions of the girls all became friends. When the adult versions left, Celestia suppressed the children's memories of the adventure to avoid a paradox, and set it so they wouldn't remember until just after they got back to their own time.

Holy crap the title is a pun.

Also, you have five hundred and one individual views and over forty likes. If that's your version of a bomb then I wish I could fail like you.

Welp, that's another story on the keep forever shelf. The only thing I'm still wondering is when do they decomission the agency if this has nothing to do with it, or is bon bon just a liar in episode 100 and the agency's still going strong.

Amazing. Like one of Celestia's plans or the Can of Wyrms, it's a pile of utter nonsense until it suddenly all comes together into something incredible. Thank you for one heck of an adventure that explores an Equestria that simultaneously feels nothing like the show and yet perfectly encapsulates it.


Ah, did she? I kept thinking of the story happening during s5 so I kinda brushed that to the side. In any case, it's not really a big deal -- while I was thinking of Starlight when I wrote that, I was also thinking on the general School of Friendship thing, and how seasons 6-8 have shown Twilight moving from student to teacher?

So it was more in the sense of 'yeah she's going to start recruiting more folks', plural, than a strict particular case of 'this is about Starlight'. Trixie, the Young Six, etc? Changed the wording of that bit a little in any case, to avoid further confusion. But yeah, not as much a mistake as me wording something wrong, tbh.

“Left! We have to go left. And one would think that, you know, reassuring me that I am indeed in quite good shape is the socially expected response?”

“Sure is.”

For a pony, Vinyl's doing quite a good job with those weasel words.

But the hydra was a total idiot and hadn’t noticed that the two ponies were covered head to toe with olive oil—and a lot of saliva too-

Just so we're all clear, are you saying they were covered in saliva the first time the hydra tried to eat them? As in, before they were in its mouth?
Because if so that's... that's some mighty impressive hugging those two are doing.

Comment posted by CrystalWaters deleted Jan 25th, 2019

Vinyl keeps dangling those tempting morsels in front of Fate's nose. It's almost like she wants to be the Big Damn Hero or something…

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