• Published 12th Feb 2020
  • 1,318 Views, 70 Comments

Chaos Runs Rampant - RK_Striker_JK_5

Discord escapes from his stone prison and wreaks havoc.

  • ...

Chapter Four

Applejack trotted through a large, open field. Green grass was spread out as far as the eye could see. Plywood apple trees were scattered about, while a cardboard sun, complete with a painted-on smiley face, hung from the sky on highly-visible wires. “Well, if this isn't the perfect setting,” Applejack remarked, shaking her head.

More and more trees popped up as Applejack continued walking. Hills started growing from the fields, forcing Applejack to continue down down an increasingly-narrower path. Every time she tried to deviate, a small mound of earth rose in front of her. She reared back and kicked at it, nickering and gnashing her teeth. “Okay, Discord! I'll play your game. Not for nothing I'm a five-time Ponyville pinochle champion!”

After a few more minutes, Applejack entered an open area. Trees-actual trees-were scattered about, apples hanging from almost every branch. She looked around, spotting what appeared to be some familiar faces.” Well, should've expected this,” she said, tipping her hat. “I'll give you this, varmint.”

Big Mac–or a being resembling her older brother–trotted up to Applejack. “Well, 'bout time you showed up,” he said, expression stern. He jabbed a foreleg at a copse of trees to his left. “Come on, AJ. We got trees to buck. Your family needs you.”

Applejack shook her head. “They do need me. They need me to stop Discord.” She started cantering around Big Mac. “Now if you'll excuse me? I've got to get going. Ponies to see, demons to seal up.”

Granny Smith suddenly appeared in front of her, looking even older than when Applejack had seen her this morning. “Applejack,” she wheezed out, “we need your help! The orchards are overflowin'!” Her eyes narrowed. “Ain't you gonna help your family?”

Before Applejack could say anything, Apple Bloom walked into her line of sight. She too was older, not quite a full-grown mare, but no longer a filly. She had long, almost gangly legs jutting out of a much rounder and filled-out torso. Every time she moved, a cutie mark flashed into view, albeit one that changed with every swing of her hips. “Applejack, you're here!” Apple Bloom cried out. “I missed you!” She slowed to a halt a foot or two from Applejack. “Where you been, sis? You've been missing out on everything!” She flashed her flank. “See? You even missed me getting my cutie mark!”

A voice sounded out in Applejack's ear. “Oh, my! What a shame, Applejack. All that Element nonsense, and there's so much you've been absent for! Moments and events you'll never get back. Like tears in the shower.”

Applejack nickered. “Moments that'll never come if you're loose, Discord! I know what you're trying to do!”

Oh, my. You've got it all wrong, Applejack! I'm showing you what you'll gain back if you stop chasing me. Give up on this and go home. They'll be there for you. I promise.”

“Yeah, that and ten bits will get you a cup of coffee at A'la Carte,” Applejack replied.

Oh, but this isn't all! Your family will be waiting for you back at Sweet Apple Acres... ALL your family.”

Applejack's ears wiggled back and forth. “What are you blabbering on about?” She waved a foreleg about. “All my family is here! What, are my extended clan Equestria-wide gonna... show...” her voice trailed off as two ponies walked out from behind a pair of apple trees.

They were both older than Applejack and her siblings, a mare and stallion that walked side-by-side in perfect harmony with each other. The stallion had a pale-yellow coat, flame-red mane and tail, and an achingly-familiar hat. The mare was smaller than her lifelong companion, with a pale-gamboge coat, an orange tail, and mane done up in pigtails. The stallion removed his hat and doffed it in Applejack's direction. “Well, bless my britches!” Bright Mac said. “It's little AJ, all grown up!” He looked to his right. “Ain't she a beauty?”

Buttercup looked up at her husband. “Shot up like a sapling!” She looked to Applejack, her expression falling. “Darling, what's the matter?” She reached out to her. “You look like you've seen the smooze or something!”

Applejack batted the hoof away. “You're not real!” she shouted, backpedaling away. She kept her eyes locked onto the pair. “You died! You died in the flood!” She reared back and kicked the air. “YOU DIED!”

Yes, they died. And wasn't it sad? Big Mac had to receive a hardship discharge from the military. Apple Bloom must grow up too fast. Granny Smith is spending her twilight years working her hooves to the pad instead of retiring to Silver Shores. And you must shelve your own dreams and desires. It's just not fair, Applejack–but I can make it fair for you.”

A whirling vortex of bluish-white energy formed behind Applejack. “Go ahead, Applejack. It'll be the easiest thing in the multiverse to do! Just turn around. You'll end up right outside Sweet Apple Acres. Everyone you see here will be there, alive and well.”

Applejack turned to face the portal. “You-you're lying. You have to be. How can the d-dead be raised?”

Oh, mere foal's play for me. Reanimating matter and sparking some neurons? A snap of my fingers. And no, I do not lie. After all, if I lie, then no one would take me up on my offers! And who would play with me?”

Buttercup trotted forward a bit. “It'd be awfully nice to see you again, sugarcube.”

Bright Mac nodded. “I hope you make the right decision.”

Rainbow Dash flew through a large room, much larger than what could be contained by the mound Discord had made. The ceiling was painted a bright-blue, with cloud-shaped bundles of cotton hanging from it. Lightning-shaped pieces of cardboard occasionally fell from the ceiling, barely missing Dash. “Lame,” she snorted. “I've seen school plays with better special effects. Hire the team doing the Daring Do series next time, Discord!”

A large mass of cotton appeared in front of her, small scale-model buildings and columns scattered about on it. Rainbow Dash slowed down, finally coming to a stop a few feet from the mass. She cocked her head to the side. “I think I built something like this when I was a filly.”

Discord's voice sounded out in Rainbow Dash's head, causing her to fold her ears flat against her skull. “Why thank you, Dashie! I'm so glad to see you approving of my hard work. However, if you go a bit closer, you'll see I've made some improvements and upgrades to the basic design!”

Rainbow Dash hesitated for a moment, but eventually flew closer to the mass of cotton. Her eyes narrowed as she picked out specks moving to and fro, specks that quickly resolved themselves into pegasi flying around. She quickly identified Wonderbolts flying in formation above the capitol building, former classmates of her time back in Junior Speedsters Camp. She chuckled slightly as one familiar stallion flitted into view. “Oh, my gosh! Zephyr almost looks cute at this size!” her head shot up and she looked around. “But do not tell that little creep that!”

My lips are sealed, Dashie! Although you might wanna take another look. You missed a pair of pegasi particularly prominent in your perceptions.”

Rainbow Dash groaned, but started looking over the miniature ponies once more. “Okay, so who am I... looking...” She trailed off as two familiar ponies, a stallion and mare, flew past. “Mom? Dad?” she said, as Windy Whistles and Bow Hothoof flew by. “Okay... very funny, Discord. Is seeing little toys of Mom and Dad flying by supposed to convince me to, what, not stop you or something?”

You're quite mistaken, Rainbow Dash. These aren't toys. What you're seeing really were the inhabitants of Cloudsdale.”

Rainbow Dash's ears twitched. Her head turned. “Wait, what do you mean 'were'?”

The miniature began shaking. The pegasi scattered about began panicking and flying in all different directions as buildings and columns collapsed. Windy Whistles and Bow Hothoof flew off, ducking and dodging around debris, sticking as close together as they could.

Rainbow Dash's eyes widened. “Mom! Dad!” She flew forward and reached out to them with her hooves... but they passed through them, the flying debris, and through the clouds up to Dash's elbows. “Hey, what gives?”

Well, this is a representation of Cloudsdale, Dashie. And well, you see, I just can't control my chaotic magic and rein it in properly with my attention so divided. I do wish I could spare Cloudsdale... but with having to contend with you and your friends?” Discord's tongue honked. “A shame, a shame.”

Rainbow Dash slowly pulled away from the miniature. She stared at it for a good, long minute. “So, what? I'm just supposed to fly off and save Cloudsdale from you?” She snorted. “And you'll just let me or something?”

Less let you and more reward you. If you leave me alone, I'll leave Cloudsdale alone. I'll curb my chaos directed up there so things become, ugh, normal. And you'll be seen as the big hero, too! It's honestly a win-win for you, Dashie.”

Even as he spoke, a miniature Rainbow Dash flew into the miniature Cloudsdale. Even as she touched down, the shaking slowed down, finally stopping. Windy Whistles and Bow Hothoof flew over to Rainbow Dash, hugging her and ruffling her mane. Others gathered around, some flying in with a large banner that read, 'Rainbow Dash is Awesome!'

Why, look at that! They're giving you a heroine's welcome! Not that you wouldn't deserve it, my dear Dashie. You did do the right thing, after all. Oh, and look! Aren't those the Wonderbolts you always go on and on and... on about?”

Spitfire and Soarin flew over to the miniature Rainbow Dash, a folded-up Wonderbolts uniform in Spitfire's forelegs. It disappeared in a puff of smoke, only to reappear on Rainbow Dash. The trio flew off into the sky, every other pegasi in Cloudsdale following.

Rainbow Dash stared at the scene, eyes wide. “That does look... pretty cool of them to do.” She shook her head, the Element of Loyalty jangling with the motion. “I mean it looks cool, but is it cool?”

Your dreams of adulation and acceptance are coming true, for the low, low price of flying back there to save Cloudsdale. Doesn't seem all that bad to me, Dashie! Now what do you say? Fly on and risk not only yourself, but your home and family, or fly back and be the hero you've always wanted to be. The choice is yours.”

Author's Note:

Thanks to the folks at Space Battles for their help.