• Published 19th Aug 2019
  • 3,885 Views, 90 Comments

Midnight at the Crystal Library - Ninjadeadbeard

While on a study-vacation in the Crystal Empire, Sunset, Sci-Twi, Starswirl, and Starlight will have to literally confront their past mistakes if Equestria is to survive.

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Chapter 5 - Showdown at the Crystal Heart

At the very edge of the Crystal Empire, just after leaving the city and just before reaching the edge of arctic winter, many of the Crystal Ponies had taken up a bit of horticulture. Small gardens littered the ground, filling the landscape with a dazzling display of beautiful flowers and vibrant vegetables. But even some standbys and more ordinary fare could be found here, such as at the humble cabbage patch of one Jam Sea.

The older, light-brown earth stallion was wiping his forehead with his favorite green rag as the sun was beginning to lower in the sky. A long, hard day of weeding had left his cabbage garden looking absolutely stunning. He smiled with the tired, fulfilling sensation of a job well done, when he began to feel a rumble from beneath his hooves.

“Earthquake?” he mused to himself. He’d never felt one in the Crystal Empire before.

Jam did not have time to muse at all, as the earth around his garden began to jump and heave. He looked about in a panic as the cabbage patch began to bowl out and up, and then with a sudden explosive force the entire garden rocketed itself into the air. Bits of cabbage and dirt clods rained down around the hapless pony.

“My cabbages!” he cried out, falling to his knees.

But a new sight, just as surprising and unwelcome, emerged from the gaping hole that was once Jam’s prize cabbage garden. A pair of truly terrifying… alicorns? Oh my, alicorns, marched straight out of the hole and stomped through the ruins of Jam’s garden. And following them appeared to be the Elements of Harmony themselves, though a bit more disheveled since the last time they’d visited the empire. The last of them, the pink party one, bounced out of the hole carrying what almost looked like the princess Flurry Heart.

As the strange group passed him by, Jam sighed.

“Oh,” he said more to himself than anypony else, “We’re being invaded again.”

When they stopped to get their bearings at the top of a low hill, and adjust to the sunlight, two ponies in particular were taking in the sight of something other than the moon hanging in the sky.

“It’s…” Rainbow Dash was searching for the right words, “it’s so weird to see the sun again. After so long.”

Rarity nodded, she also drinking in the sight of a world beneath a sun, even a setting sun. “It really is as gorgeous as I remember. The sun, I mean. I’ve never seen the Crystal Empire…” her gaze lowered to the city itself. The way the spires caught the setting sun, the way the colors blended into one another without clashing, the way the great tower rose over all like a beacon of beauty in a cold world…

“It’s so… beautiful,” she whispered.

That wasn’t how Applejack would describe it. As she looked out over the city, she began constructing a mental image. Over there, where the confectionary shops stood, would make an ideal supply depot. One of those public parks was probably also good for military drills. Far away, at the base of Sombra’s palace, Applejack began measuring how many solid kicks would it take to break one of those support beams. Would probably need a whole siege unit to make a dent.

“It is beautiful,” she agreed. And it was. Crystal ponies were sharing cupcakes and treats at that confection store. She could see fillies playing in the park. There wasn’t a lick of Sombra’s foul presence anywhere, and it made ignoring the memory of that Twilight alicorn even harder.

Midnight Sparkle, on the other hand, had apparently decided enough was enough. “Come,” she said, “Our destiny, and your homes, await!”

The alicorns took the lead, followed by Applejack and Rarity, with Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy scouting above, and Pinkie bringing up the baby princess from behind.

As they marched down the boulevards and crystalline streets, Sunset Shimmer kept pace with Midnight.

“So,” she said at just above a whisper, “I take it you don’t know how to send these… ponies back to their homes?”

“Not yet,” answered Midnight, her eyes never leaving the horizon, “but then, should I care?” She stopped a moment, just long enough to blow back an armored earth pony charging out of an alleyway towards them. He went tumbling backwards, encased in fiery blue magic, through a wall, and did not rise again.

Sunset chuckled, “No, not really. This is where I wanted to go anyway, or just about.” She threw her demonic grin about as the group began passing by scared and panicking crystal ponies, “And I don’t care much for pawns.”

Midnight glanced to her companion, “Then we are of one mind?”

“I’ll help you take this Crystal Heart,” said Sunset, “and then you help me destroy Celestia.”

“I have no idea who that is.”

Sunset nodded, “Another alicorn princess. One who owns an entire library of secret magic.”

This, definitely, had Midnight’s attention. “Oh really? And… what happens then? When I have all the magic I want, and you have your throne?”

“Well,” Sunset paused to launch a bolt of magic up into the air, striking down three armored pegasi who had taken that moment to divebomb the approaching party, “it’s always been an Equestrian tradition to have two alicorn princesses ruling the land.” Three armored pegasi crumpled as they hit the street.

“I do enjoy a good partnership…”

Applejack couldn’t quite make out what the alicorns were saying to each other, but she didn’t like the vibe she was getting from them. She was reminded of the story about a pony who carried a snake across a river. Stories never ended well, she figured.

“So,” Rarity said with an unfamiliar amount of doubt in her voice, “you say your name is Applejack?”

Applejack looked to the pony at her side. “Yeah? You suddenly remember me?”

Rarity didn’t meet her eyes. “No, of course not! But…” she casually threw up one of her diamond shields just in time to block a bit of rubble thrown up by the alicorns’ blasting, “but I seem to recall, back in my filly days, knowing a few of the earth ponies in town. One of them may have been from that Apple ranch or farm, or whatever.”

“Oh, well I’m glad some version of you‘n me apparently bumped into each other once.” The mild annoyance in Applejack’s response was clear.

The unicorn seemed, shocked? Maybe just surprised that one of the ‘lower orders’ dared talk back to her?

“That’s not… darling, what is that thing on your head?”

“What thing?” Applejack felt the top of her head. “My hairnet? I gotta wear it in the factory.”

“But we’re not in the factory,” Rarity kept looking at the top of Applejack’s mane like it was going to bite her, “And besides, what happened to your hat?”

“I haven’t worn a hat in… HA!” Applejack pointed triumphantly in Rarity’s face, “You DO know an Applejack!”

“Oh fine!” she huffed, “I used to know a pony just like you. But under Nightmare Moon, fraternizing between different groups of ponies is forbidden, so I haven’t actually seen my Applejack in years.”

Applejack frowned, “Well, that’s just silly! If there’s one thing the war against Sombra’s taught me, it’s that everypony working together is better than any one of us working apart!”

“That’s the point, darling. If everypony joined together against Nightmare Moon, we might actually stand a chance against her… oh, to hay with this!”

Applejack was completely blindsided by a sudden barrage of combs and brushes. “What the- hey! What’re you-?”

“Just hold still!” Rarity swept her mane tools about via her magic with the practiced eye of a professional, “and… there! Done!”

Applejack opened her eyes, and started shaking her head. She naturally couldn’t see her own head, but just what she could see astonished her. Her hairnet was gone, replaced with a golden mane she’d nearly forgotten about. It was tied back in a poofy tail that swung around her neck like it was always meant to be. It was almost like back when she was a filly…

“Oh, wow!” was all she could manage, “it’s… it’s just like before…”

Rarity let the pride shine from her face. “I always did want to get into styling, darling. Maybe open a boutique… it was a dream I had as a filly.” She leveled a smirk at her old friend, “Besides, if you’re going to overthrow a government, you might as well look fabulous while doing so!”

Up above the procession of violence, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy maintained their scouting flight, despite the fact that anything and everypony who came in range of those alicorns were getting smacked down long before either Pegasus could have reasonably intercepted. It left a lot of time to talk.

Which Dash was blowing.

“So…” she began, “Fluttershy…”

“Yes, that’s my name,” the pink-haired Pegasus replied without inflection or emotion.

Dash winced. What was up with this Fluttershy? “Um… how’ve things been going with you?”

Fluttershy maintained her flight path like a pro while she turned her eyes, eyes devoid of the kindness and timidity Rainbow remembered being there, right upon her fellow flyer. “How have things been going? Well, last week I saw Roseluck getting dragged into the undergrowth by changelings. And the week before that, I trained a strike force of bunnies and owls to infiltrate a changeling compound to retrieve prisoners.” She turned her eyes forward again, “Almost none of them came back. As usual.”

What could you say to something like that? Rainbow Dash had nothing. She’d lived under an oppressive dictatorship for years, but she could hardly imagine the sort of total war this Fluttershy seemed to be terrifyingly familiar with.

She tried something else. “I… I really missed you, Fluttershy. In my world, we sort of grew up together back in Cloudsdale.”

“I remember,” Fluttershy took a moment to respond, “It’s just that, last time I saw you, you were a changeling infiltrator. So, sorry if I’m not giving you a big old hug right now.”

How was she screwing this up so badly? Only the composure of a military background kept Rainbow Dash together now, even as her eyes began to water.

“Fluttershy… I haven’t seen you in years. Not since,” she bit her tongue, “not for a long time. I… just didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”

They flew on in silence. In Rainbow’s mind, she begged and begged for Fluttershy to say something. Anything. It didn’t matter. She could tell Rainbow she never wanted to see her again. At least that would be closure.

“Rainbow Dash,” Fluttershy said, again without emotion, “What happened to me?”


“What. Happened. To. Me.” She turned back towards Dash, staring at her with a look of pure condemnation. “In my reality, you’re basically gone. And I’m not crying. But every time you look at me, I think you might.”

Rainbow Dash almost dropped out of the air as she said this, but kept flying in silence. Silent, but without breaking eye contact.

Fluttershy continued, “I see… that’s the difference between you and me, Dash. When something bad happened to me, and those I loved, I decided to try and fix it. You decided to join the bad thing, it would seem.”

Closure, Rainbow Dash was realizing with enormous regret, was overrated.

Finally, at the rear of the group, Pinkie hopped along with springing steps.

“Oh! We should try some of those!” Pinkie said as they passed by the cupcake shop. Her tongue lashed out and grabbed two cupcakes off the windowsill, and she helpfully handed one to Flurry Heart, who snacked greedily on the confection.

“Why did no one tell me cupcakes were so good!” Pinkie said through a mouthful of frosting, “I can’t believe I wasted so much time on rock soup and rock bread! Boy I feel silly. Is this how Pinkie Pies are supposed to feel?”

Flurry didn’t say anything. She just smiled.

Pinkie smiled back. “I gotta throw you a party once this whole thing’s over. It’s you and me, kid! You and me!”

Under the crystal palace itself, a true military force had assembled. Crystal unicorns, pegasi, and earth ponies in crystal armor set themselves into rows and ranks, readied for the clash they knew was coming. At the head, Flash Sentry stood at attention. He watched as Twilight Sparkle and Spike the… dog… gently took down the Crystal Heart and placed it into a satchel.

Twilight threw the bag around her body, then turned to her companions. “Remember, we only need to buy time for Starswirl and Sunburst to finish the spell.”

Tempest stepped forward. “But remember, Flurry Heart is our top priority. No harm is to come to the princess.” The Crystal Guard saluted at this declaration. Then, Tempest said more quietly to Twilight, “I should be the one to make the hand-off though. It could get messy.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Twilight said, a sly smile showing, “I have another idea to buy time…”

Midnight Sparkle and her allies finally met the main road to the center of the city. The haphazard attacks had stopped, which told Midnight that the guards were probably done slowing them down, and would be waiting for her at the palace. The fact they stopped also told her that they probably had a plan. She would need to be careful here, or at least be economical with how she sacrificed the pawns with her.

And soon, her suspicions were confirmed as they came within sight of the tower’s base. Dozens of guards stood ready to face them, with those ponies from the library at the forefront. Well, except for the old stallion and one of the weaker unicorns. It was too likely they were lying in wait to try some sort of counterspell.

“Keep a lookout for the old one,” she commanded her pegasi. They didn’t seem to complain, out loud.

“Midnight Sparkle!” a voice rang out from the assembled crowd. If Midnight didn’t know any better, it might have been Twilight herself. “Hand over Flurry Heart! This can all end peacefully!”

Midnight guffawed at this, and shook her head in pity. “Oh Twilight! Foolish girl. This was never going to end peacefully! Hand over the Crystal Heart, and I may allow you all to live!”

There was no response.

“I do indeed have the brat,” Midnight motioned for Pinkie to join her, which the… oddly exuberant pony did. “We would seem to be at an impasse. I have what you want, and you have what I want. The only difference is…” she motioned her horn towards little Flurry Heart, and allowed a pale blue crackle of energy to come dangerously close to the filly, “… I can destroy what I have, while you can’t lose either.”

Another voice, the broken-horn, cried out, “Don’t you touch her!”

“Then give me the Heart!”

From here, she could see Twilight Sparkle. So small, so insignificant. Midnight could only pity such a creature, even as a mote of that foolish girl struggled vainly inside her own mind. But there was something else there… yes! The satchel Twilight wore! The magical energies Midnight was so attuned to seemed to flow out of there!

“It seems I shall have to be the reasonable party then,” she called back to the heart’s defenders, “Bring the heart halfway to me, and I shall send the child halfway to you. We switch there!”

The ponies seemed to consider it, looking back and forth amongst each other. But as Twilight began to shoulder the satchel which contained the heart, Midnight raised a hoof.

“No,” she said in as regal a voice as she could, “not you. Her!” with a gesture she pointed to the one pony she knew could never be a threat.

Moondancer looked shocked. She glanced left and right, and then pointed at herself with incredulity.

“Yes, her!” Midnight shouted, “I want the weakest among you to make the exchange! It seems only fair, after all.”

Several tense moments followed. Nopony spoke, but they all seemed to gesture and silently debate the wisdom of this choice. Midnight knew they had no alternative, and in short order they proved her correct yet again. Moondancer hefted the bag, adjusted her glasses once more, and began to walk forward. With a modicum of control and solemnity, Pinkie did likewise with the filly.

Midnight turned her head slightly towards her chief pawn, Sunset Shimmer, “These ponies are so easy to manipulate. Why again did you have so much trouble?”

Sunset gritted her teeth, but kept quiet. Good, thought Midnight, she knows her place.

The walk was slow, and agonizingly tense. Everypony on each side watch with baited breath as Pinkie and Moondancer approached one another. Though fear was evidently in the forefront of Moondancer’s mind, and clearly displayed on her face, she kept a brave pace and did not waver as she walked towards the monster on the other side.

Pinkie… well, as solemn as her pace began, the long walk started to go a little funny. Midnight watched with growing trepidation as Pinkie’s steps began looking more and more like skips, and a certain… springing sound began to grow from the princess filly’s captor.

Something was wrong… and Midnight began doing math again.

Moondancer and Pinkie Pie met directly in between the two groups, and stood only a few paces apart. The sun finally settled below the horizon, and the last warm rays of light faded as the cool evening gloom took over, and the streetlights began to flare to life.

Moondancer glanced towards Flurry Heart, and a flash of joy swept across her features. She clamped down though, and hard.

“Flurry Heart for the Crystal,” she said in a somber tone of formality.

“Hmmm,” Pinkie Pie narrowed her eyes and began looking Moondancer up and down. “Well, I would…”

Panic sparked behind Moondancer’s eyes, “But, we agreed!”

“Well, yeah. Buuuut…” Pinkie hopped up and spun around, and then with a wave of a hoof she laughed back at the two alicorns, “I don’t work for you! So there!” and with another hop and a skip Pinkie bolted for the crystal palace, Flurry Heart cheering on her back, leaving a suddenly sputtering Midnight in their wake.

“BETRAYAL!” It was inconceivable! Unbelievable! Where did that pink fool get the gall!?

“Gee,” Sunset said with dripping fake compassion, “I guess these ponies aren’t so easy to manipulate, are they?”

“SHUT UP!” Another plan was needed. Another angle, another play. The Crystal Guard were charging, unicorns throwing bursts of magical energy hurtling towards them. She needed a plan. She needed a plan.

Sunset smirked, and decided to pat herself on the back, “Well, looks like there’s only one Queen in Equestria after all.”

Midnight didn’t scream or yell or… anything. She turned to face Sunset slowly. And it was only at the last possible moment that Sunset realized she should already have been running as fast and as far as she possibly could.

“I concur,” Midnight whispered, and unleashed a whirlwind of magical energy. The oncoming pegasi pulled aside as they approached, nearly blinded by the surge of light. The unicorns and earth ponies halted in their tracks just as they reached Moondancer, still halfway between the two camps.

The light pulsed and surged. It illuminated Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy as they looked on in horror.

A moment later, and a normal, if disheveled, Sunset Shimmer dropped from the rapidly condensing magical light. She hit the ground and crumpled immediately. She could barely raise her head.

“H-help…” her voice was almost a whisper, “help me…” tears streamed down her face.

The light faded, and in the air hovered a terrible sight. Midnight Sparkle, wreathed in electric blue fire which now replaced even her mane, rose slowly into the air, a mirthless cackle tearing from her throat as she surged with magical might.

“Now,” Midnight grinned wickedly, her voice empowered just like the royal Canterlot voice, “Where was I? Oh, yes…”

Pegasi fell down upon the dark alicorn, slamming her with every ounce of strength they could muster. A bubble of magic whirled around her, taking the hits like they were mere raindrops falling on an umbrella, until with another cackle she swept a dozen at once from the sky with a blast of her magic.

She descended, similarly blocking and redirecting dozens of energy blasts from the assembled unicorn guards. A concentrated burst roared up at her as she neared the ground, but with another wave of her horn she froze the magical attacks in place, and then threw them back tenfold. And as she landed, her shield itself swept forward, tossing guards aside like leaves in a windstorm.

All save Moondancer, who now found herself enveloped in Midnight’s shield.

“Child,” the alicorn pitied her latest victim, “Did you really think I’d forgotten about the heart? I think it’s time you handed it over!”

Moondancer gazed up at Midnight in… triumph? There wasn’t a mote of fear in her eyes at all. In fact, it was almost like…

“YOU!” Midnight roared in fury as the illusion fell away and Twilight Sparkle fired a monumental blast of magical energy directly into Midnight’s face. The blast carried the alicorn several yards backward before she suddenly absorbed it into her.

“Oh, I know you didn’t forget!” Twilight shouted back as her own Sunset, Tempest, and Starlight leaped to her side and began to charge their horns. “In fact, I WAS COUNTING ON IT!”

The renewed attack exploded around Midnight, who darted here and there, casting waves and sheets of electric flame about. She knocked aside guards and shrugged off blasts from the three unicorns who led the attack. She wasn’t going down, even as Tempest joined her thunderous magic to the fray, but she was on the defense.

Rainbow Dash could only watch in awe all the while, at least until a familiar face suddenly floated over to her.

“Alright Dash!” Flash Sentry called out to her, “It’s time for Round 2!”

Rainbow stared at the flying stallion for a moment, then turned and flew away.

Flash was surprised, to say the least. “Um… did I win?”

Rainbow landed besides Rarity and Applejack. Fluttershy stood nearby, but seemed to give all of them a wide berth.

“Okay,” she said, dropping her usual authoritative tone, “this is messed up, right?”

“Absolutely,” Applejack agreed wholeheartedly, “This is plum dunked in sour milk if’n you ask me.”

Pinkie approached, dragging a barely conscious Sunset Shimmer with her. She set the exhausted and drained mare down, and sat down with her.

Sunset gazed up at the five, eyes filled with tears and regret. “I… I have no excuse,” she nearly sobbed, “having all that power… I knew it was wrong but I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t see past- “

Applejack laid a hoof on her shoulder, and gave Sunset the closest thing she could to a gentle smile. “Hey there, sugarcube,” she said, “it’s all right. From what all I’ve seen today, everypony’s got something like this going on. It’s no shame unless you refuse to apologize for it, and try’n make amends.”

Fluttershy drew closer as Applejack said this, though none of the others noticed at first. She’d learned to be stealthy a long time ago.

“How can you forgive her so easily?” Rarity asked, not so much angry as perplexed, “I mean, I know we were all guilty of working with her, but she did seem quite villainous back there in the library, and in the caverns.”

“Yeah, I know,” Applejack sighed, “But seeing this world, and how much better everything is in it… it’s got me thinking that maybe they have the right idea around these parts. They’ve got another Sunset Shimmer over yonder, and she seems to be good friends with all themfolks! So, I’m thinking,” she reached down and hauled Sunset up to her hooves, “why not give it a whirl? Can’t be any worse that what we’ve been trying so far.”

Sunset Shimmer, for the first time in her life thus far, stood amidst another group of ponies, and saw them genuinely smiling back at her. She reached out and gave Applejack a hug, which got Rarity smiling, and Pinkie grinning ear to ear.

As Sunset stood back on her own hooves, she glanced towards Pinkie and finally noticed something.

“Uh, Pinkie? Where’s the baby?”

Pinkie scoffed and gave them all a smug smile. “What are you gals crazy!? I’m not bringing a baby to a battlefield! I left her back in the castle.”

Rainbow Dash stamped her hoof, “Well, regardless, we have to do something! They’re not beating that thing alone!” She pointed a wing at the blazing comet of dark magic that tore about the palace grounds, bouncing between banks of unicorns hemming it in with magical blasts, pegasi dropping rocks down upon it to keep its attention, and the small core of spellcasting unicorns from the library who continued to rain blows of magic energy at her. Midnight was clearly not slowing down, but every few moments another guard dropped from exhaustion or an errant hit. Flash Sentry had rejoined the ranks himself, seeing Rainbow Dash staying out of the fight.

Dash continued, “I know what it’s like to just give up and fall in line! I’m not gonna let that happen again!” She finally noticed Fluttershy at her side. The pink-haired Pegasus stared back at her friend, and allowed herself a soft, gentle smile. Something she’d almost forgotten how to do.

“Well that’s all good darling,” Rarity said, “But what can we do? None of us are a match for that thing!”

A gruff voice rang out away from the fighting, “Maybe you won’t have to!” and a tall grey stallion in robes of blue and a beard of silver and white strode into view, accompanied by an orange-maned unicorn who held up a scroll with his own magic, and the red-maned mare from the library who now carried a stack of similar scrolls with her.

Starswirl the Bearded glanced towards his companions, “Are you ready?”

Sunburst nodded, and then unrolled the first scroll while Moondancer began unrolling the next.

Calculations, calculations, Midnight thought as she whipped her power about in a frenzy. I need more calculations!

Earth ponies charged at her whenever she neared the ground. If they weren’t flinging rocks and spears, they were trying to kick her. Fools, of course, as each one who dared took a blast fully to the face and went sailing through the air. She was cutting down their numbers steadily enough, but the pegasi were keeping their distance, and many of them were excellent fliers, able to avoid her direct attacks. It was only whenever she let off a wave of energy that she seemed to hit any of the blasted things.

The unicorn guards were easy enough to handle. They mostly seemed concerned with hemming in her movements with their shields. She could land and scatter them about, but too many recovered too quickly for that to be a viable strategy.

And of course, Midnight couldn’t let her mind slip from the most important theater. Twilight Sparkle, Tempest, Starlight, and that other Sunset Shimmer were the big guns around here, she could tell. Despite Twilight’s childish nature, Midnight thought, she could still hit like a sledgehammer, and so could her friends. Tempest alone was such a dire threat that Midnight kept deliberately aiming for her, but the meddlesome creature was as fast and as durable as an Earth Pony. That just wasn’t fair!

The equation wasn’t looking good. Attrition would win the day, but she didn’t need that. She didn’t want that. How could the Princess of Magic fail to destroy such bothersome foes with ease!? She needed more magic. She needed that blasted heart!

But all her calculations were suddenly cast aside, thrown out in an instant, as Midnight Sparkle felt the magical energies shift around her. At her back, a yawning void tore open in the air, a void filled with darkness, green flames, and the ticking of a terrible clock.

“No!” she cried and attempted to fly away. She could feel Starswirl again, burning like a torch in her mind’s eye. This was his doing! But at that moment, the entirety of the unicorns arrayed against her pressed forward, magical beams uniting against her shield.

“Don’t let up!” Twilight Sparkle shouted, “Now is our chance! Push her back!”

Midnight threw her magical might against theirs, and flapped her wings with all the power she could muster. But it was no use, she was slowly inching her way back into the portal. A portal, no doubt, to send her back to where she came from. To the moment when…

“No,” she growled, “No… I am Midnight Sparkle! I will not lose! Not! To! YOU!” She opened her eyes despite the strain, and glared down hatefully at the little pony who led this assault. She focused right on that all-too-familiar face, those glasses, that look of defiance, that bag-

The bag.

With a final wrench of her magic, Midnight telekinetically gripped the stonework beneath Twilight Sparkle’s hooves and PULLED. The ground gave way, Twilight’s concentration cut and her magical blast suspended. But more importantly, as she tumbled forward, the Crystal Heart fell free from her bag. It skipped along the ground once, and then lit up with Midnight’s magical aura.

The heart flew up into the open arms of the Princess of Magic, and vanished in another blaze of light, and darkness.

The attack faltered. Gasps and cries joined the sound of battle. The portal remained open, as Starswirl still held his own concentration upon it, but the form of Midnight Sparkle no longer drifted closer to it.

Midnight Sparkle howled with triumph now. Nearly twice as tall as Starswirl or any of the real Princesses, her mane and tail were blazing fire, her wings like the darkness of the night sky, filled with stars. She reveled in her newfound power, absolutely enraptured with it and with herself. She set her hooves firmly to the ground, and towered over the guards who faced her.

Applejack snorted. “Well, I guess that’s that. It’s now, or never!”

“But what can we do darling?” Rarity asked, panic no longer in her voice, instead replaced with a slowly growing sense of the inevitable.

“We shove her in!” Rainbow Dash slapped her hooves together, “And we drag her back to wherever she came from!”

Pinkie frowned deeply, “But… if we go through that portal with her, will we remember any of this?”

Sunburst, still with the five girls, shook his head. “We made sure that with this spell, none of you would remember your time outside of your own reality.”

Moondancer cast her eyes at the ground. “I’m… sorry, but it was the only way to keep Midnight or… Sunset from messing with their own timeline once they were sent back.”

Each of the ponies stopped. Applejack looked to her friends, and each one looked back. In each of their eyes they saw something they had lost. Applejack and Rarity silently replayed the last time the sat in Cheerilee’s classroom together. Rainbow and Fluttershy saw one another as fillies in flight school, for a moment.

Pinkie and Sunset looked on. Sunset could only see the harm she’d caused these friends in another world. She wondered if she would be able to earn their forgiveness again, even if she couldn’t remember why she wanted it so badly. Pinkie saw, for perhaps the first time, the greatest party she could ever throw, and all the friends… she wouldn’t be able to invite once they did this.

One by one, they nodded to one another. There really wasn’t an option. Even if there was, these six friends knew what they would do.

There was nothing like it! Magic didn’t just flow through her veins, it filled Midnight Sparkle’s very senses! It was her body, her soul, her everything! She could feel the sun and the moon and the stars quail in terror as she howled with laughter.

“At last!” She cried out, “It’s mine! ALL MINE!!!”

The towering alicorn looked down with utter contempt and pity towards those who had defied her. They were nothing, not even ants in the grand scheme of things. At least, not her grand scheme.

“What should I do first, I wonder?” she laughed aloud, “Perhaps I should turn you all into fish? Or dogs? How about dogs!?”

A tiny, insignificant voice called up from the assembled fools, “Twilight! Stop this!”

Midnight glanced down towards the voice, and found… the little dragon? He almost looked familiar, but then, when you’re about to take ownership of the cosmos, the little people do tend to blend together.

“Ah,” she said, a human hand forming out of her blazing magical aura, “a volunteer!” And with a snap she commanded the magic of the world to transform the hapless little dragon into an even more hapless little dog. How wonderful! How exhilarating! How-

She paused, “Spike!?”

Spike the dog stared down at himself, and quickly fell back onto his haunches. “Well, so much for walking upright,” he sighed. But a dog was man’s, or in this case, high school girl’s best friend. He needed to do something!

“Twilight, please,” he begged, “Remember who were! Who you are! I’ve seen you beat Midnight Sparkle before, and you can do it again!”

For a moment, Midnight braced herself. That inkling of the old Twilight was… silent? She was definitely still there, deep within Midnight’s mind. But with all this magical power flowing through her, Midnight saw that she had completely suppressed the simpering schoolgirl.

“Tragically,” she laughed, “your Twilight cannot come out and play. Which is fine, because now I have to decide which of you will be destroyed first for defying me!”

From out of the crowd, a single, crystal orb hurtled through the air and struck Midnight Sparkle on the nose. A burst of blue smoke encased her head instantly.

Trixie, standing at the side of Starlight, Sunset, Tempest, and Twilight, punched the air with glee, “Yeth! Bulltheye!”

The smoke cleared, and Midnight Sparkle hadn’t even flinched. She turned her burning blue eyes to Trixie, and her mane began to spark and flare.

“On second thought,” her voice deepened with wrath, “I think I’ll destroy that one first. Then Twilight Sparkle. And then the ENTIRE CITY!”

Everypony braced for the impact, unicorns lighting up their horns, pegasi readying their wings, and earth ponies stamping their hooves. Even Trixie stood alongside her friends, fear replaced with a sense of friendship and unshakeable comradery.

But the blast never came. Midnight Sparkle had turned her attention elsewhere. She looked now upon six ponies who stood defiantly at her side.

“Are you still here?” she asked tiredly, “I thought you all got the message by now. I don’t care enough to send you back to your worlds. Unless you’re here to pledge eternal servitude to your Queen?”

All five of the time-displaced ponies stood in a line. Applejack took the central position alongside Sunset Shimmer, with Pinkie and Rainbow to one side, Fluttershy and Rarity on the other.

Applejack spoke first. “Nah yer highness, it ain’t like that.”

“Oh?” the mighty alicorn snarled, “Then what is it like?”

Sunset Shimmer raised her head, “We’ve made mistakes.”

“We’ve forgotten beauty,” Rarity loosed her hair and let it wave once more.

“And loyalty to others!” Rainbow Dash added.

Pinkie stepped forward, “We lost the joy in our lives.”

“And we gave up on kindness,” Fluttershy said next.

Applejack nodded once, and all six began to advance slowly. “We turned out backs on the truth.”

Midnight Sparkle could hardly contain her own pitiless laughter, “And what truth is that!? That Friendship will save you from being turned into salt?”

“Nope,” Applejack smiled like she’d caught a varmint red-hooved, “but thanks to you, and thanks to seeing all this and figuring out what we’ve been missing, we’ve re-learned what the real truth even is!”

The six ponies began to… to glow! Midnight had never seen such a thing. Was there yet more magic here? Did Sunset have something to do with this? These six ponies began to blaze with light, and color, creating a rainbow-aura about themselves.

What was going on? Calculations, Midnight needed calculations. She needed data. She-

“Light her up!” came a cry from the crowd, and instantly every unicorn in the entire courtyard reared back and let loose with all they had. Waves of magic smashed into Midnight, her shields only snapping into being at the last possible moment. Coruscating power ripped away at her, but to no avail! She would not fall this day!

But she was distracted, even if only for a moment.

The six leapt upon Midnight, Applejack getting a hold around her shoulders, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy her back hooves. Rarity and Pinkie had her forelegs in an instant, and Sunset a vice-like grip about her middle.

“Release me!” Midnight cried out, lashing them with magical fire. But it did not burn them. The crystal floor bubbled and melted, but the ponies were unharmed. And they were moving, pushed inch by inch, towards the portal.


Applejack gave a whoop like she hadn’t since bucking as a filly, “That’s it! We got her!”

“What are you doing!?” Midnight screamed. Her power did nothing to them. “How are you doing this!? WHY!? Don’t you know you’ll be throwing away your memories too! Your worlds are still doomed!!!”

“Maybe!” Applejack shouted with resolve in her voice, “But if it means protecting this world, and making sure that at least one place goes alright, it’ll be worth it!”

Rainbow Dash said as well, “We can fix our own problems! Even if we don’t remember this, our friendships endure!”

Midnight roared in defiance, “How are you doing this!? I am MIDNIGHT SPARKLE! I AM THE PRINCESS OF MAGIC!”

“And like we told ya, ya blasted varmint,” Applejack laughed, “Friendship is Magic! That was the truth all along! And if that means giving up our memories for our friends…”

All six ponies turned their eyes towards the others standing in the courtyard. They locked gazes with Twilight, with Starlight, Sunburst, the other Sunset, Spike and Trixe, Flash Sentry, Moondancer, Tempest, even old Starswirl, still concentrating on the spell, but now with something else holding him up. Perhaps it was pride, or perhaps it was something else he’d only just now realized was there.

The unicorns, seeing the friends they hadn’t known until now, took on an air of grim determination, and let loose with one final burst of magic.

The portal’s horizon approached. Midnight could feel the weight, the inertia of time itself pulling at her. These ponies, these confounded ponies were now blazing with light, a rainbow wrapping around all seven of them. She could feel it close like a vice on her magic, squeezing and squeezing until…

She began to shrink, magical energy sloughing off of her with every inch lost to the portal. The shifting rainbow lights finally snapped hold of her, and in an instant tore from her such power. Midnight could only watch as the Crystal Heart materialized before her, and drifted through the air, back to its place at the heart of the city.

It was all going away, all the magic, all the power. Midnight… Twilight could feel herself being stripped back down to what she was; a pathetic, friendless girl who’d just done something unforgiveable. Midnight’s impotent screams fell away into the background of her mind, and for the first time in a long while, tears streamed down her face.

Sunset reached up, and caught a tear with her hoof. “Twilight,” she said, “why are you crying?”

Twilight looked down at… these ponies as they passed into the portal.

“I… I hurt you. I hurt all of you… I did so many terrible things- “

“Yeah, and?” Pinkie smiled, “so what?”

“I told you, er, your worser half anyway,” Applejack said, “Friendship is Magic.”

Fluttershy smiled up at her, “And we think you’re pretty magical!”

“Darling,” Rarity managed as the portal entrance closed and the lights dimmed, “when you meet the... “us” of your world, I know they’re going to love you.”

“She’s right,” Rainbow said as the darkness crept in, “Because… well, if you’re the princess of magic, then you’re definitely the princess of friendship in our eyes!”

And for one, singular, infinitesimal moment as the sound of clocks ran down, the only light in existence was the rainbow light emanating from seven friends. And for just that moment, as they held on as tightly to their memories as possible, Twilight Sparkle hugged her friends, and hoped to see them again soon.

Author's Note:

More fanfics should end in sappy friendship hugs. Fact.

Nothing much to add. Just wish I could have added a cool villain song.