• Published 20th Apr 2020
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Disharmony: Gods Among Ponies - Mr-Astounding

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Applejack

Chapter 11: Applejack

Things were tense within the Lunar Republic’s headquarters to say the least. Granted, Sweetie Belle did end up having a tearful reunion with both Rarity and Apple Bloom, though the latter had been confined to the infirmary for the time being: evidently, being in a medically induced coma for four-and-a-half years longer than Twilight had originally intended had resulted in the young Earth Pony being physically weak at the moment. That said, though, her fellow Crusader had volunteered to watch over her in the meantime. “You would do the same for me,” the young Unicorn had declared when the farm pony had asked her why.

It wasn’t all good news, however. For starters, Twilight Sparkle had stumbled upon Prince Blueblood’s last message to her and she...well, to be honest, she handled it pretty well, all things considered.

She blew up his lab after collecting the items that he had left behind for her.

Like I said, it could’ve been worse. Regardless...

...all of that paled in comparison to what Fluttershy had just revealed to them. “Please tell me you’re joking,” Princess Ember begged.

“I almost wish I was,” Fluttershy admitted. “By this time tomorrow, Canterlot and Ponyville will be toast, possibly literally if the Empress is feeling up to it...and then she’s going after your world.”

Little Strongheart couldn’t help but shake her head in disgust. “I knew she had gone off the deep end, but this…”

Rainbow simply snarled in reply. “Dibs on first crack at Celestia: nopony does that to Scoots on any world and gets away with it.”

“No,” Twilight rebuked, bowing her head in defeat. “I brought you here to help me get my mana siphon, and if what Blueblood said was true, that plan was flawed from the start. You’re all going home, and then I’m destroying the Crystal Mirror linking our two worlds.”

“Twilight, have you lost your mind?!” Soarin yelled out, Sunburst likewise shocked at what he was hearing. “You said it yourself: that wouldn’t stop Celestia from trying to enter their world anyways!”

“It’ll give them time to prepare,” the Lunar Republic’s leader said with a snarl. “I won’t force their world to die in my place the way I did with the Lunar Republic!”

Rainbow shook her head. “Twilight, I already said that I didn’t…”

“Granny Smith. Big McIntosh. Babs Seed. Limestone. Snips and Snails. Hoops, Dumb-bell, and Score. Neighsay. Trenderhoof. Thunderlane. Bulk Biceps. Trouble Shoes. Ivory Rook. Seabreeze. Steven Magnet. Former Dragon Lord Torch. Scorpan. Twilight Velvet and Nightlight. Prince Blueblood. Do you need me to keep going?” Twilight said with a snarl. “You might not blame me, but can you say the same about everypony else that bet on my organization winning this war only to be proven wrong in the worst possible way? Can you say the same about all the other creatures I’ve gotten killed?!”

“Twilight, you didn’t kill them.” Starlight gently replied.

However, the mare the former cult leader would gladly call her sister merely shook her head in response. “No. I just encouraged them to go up against Celestia. I know this won’t stop her, but it’ll give them time to prepare. Hopefully they’ll succeed where I failed.”

“Just for the record, you didn’t force Trixie, force any of us to follow you,” the showmare replied, nodding to Little Strongheart and Starlight Glimmer, who nodded back, knowing that if King Thorax or Sunset Shimmer were here, they’d say the same thing. “It was always our choice.”

A.K. Yearling/Daring Do and Spitfire nodded. “We risk our lives all the time to get the job done,” the former declared. “Why should this be any different?”

“You really shouldn't talk like that, Darling,” Rarity remarked, her counterpart nodding in agreement. “We’re here: we still have a chance.”

“It’s okay to be scared.” Fluttershy replied, her counterpart likewise giving the Republic’s leader a look of compassion. “But if you quit now, the last five years will have meant nothing.”

“It’s no fun if we just quit now.” Pinkie Pie said with a determined nod, her counterpart likewise not willing to give up just yet.

“My counterpart and Blueblood sacrificed their lives for this world,” Rainbow declared, Lightning Dust, Soarin, and Storm Chaser likewise showing their determination. “We won’t dishonor that by leaving.”

“Family sticks together,” Applejack said as her mind went towards Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, while also knowing that if her counterpart was anything like her, she wouldn’t be willing to lose the latter a second time. “And whether ya know it or not, the Republic has become part of yours. Ya can’t get rid o’ us that easily.”

Princess Twilight shared a look with Sci-Twi before giving a nod of her own. “Besides, we do still have one other option. We bring over our Celestia. Take the fight straight to the Empress herself.”

Despite all the earlier encouragement, Twilight Sparkle let out a snarl in reply. “We already have an Alicorn of the Sun, thank you very much.”

“She’s not like yours,” Princess Ember declared, her eyes full of compassion. “Don’t let your anger or fear make your decisions for you. Take it from me: it’s never a good idea.”

Before Twilight could reply, however, a nearby wall was taken out with a controlled explosion as multiple Empire soldiers burst into the room. One fighter within the group in particular quickly zeroed in on the Republic’s leader. “Yak smash Sparkle pony!” Prince Rutherford yelled out...only to be knocked to the side by a powerful kick from Applejack.

“Ya ain’t touching her.” the farm pony snarled out.

In terms of raw strength, Applejack and the Yak Prince were surprisingly evenly matched, but as we all know, strength isn’t everything in a fight. After all, biologically speaking, Prince Rutherford wasn’t too different from the cattle that Applejack dealt with on a daily basis back home. In other words, for Rutherford, when Applejack lassoed his legs, tripping him up and managing to knock himself out, it was the most humiliating defeat of his life, but for the farm pony, it was Tuesday.

Applejack just shook her head as she looked upon the Yakyakistan Prince. “Unwilling or not, Ah ain’t letting ya Solar Empire varmints near my friend.”

Before she could get a reply and/or help the others out, however, the farm filly soon found herself teleported to just outside of Sweet Apple Acres. “What the hay…?”

“I brought you here,” Discord declared. “With my power getting quite the boast with all the ambient chaos in the air, pulling you away from the others was easy. That said, contrary to what some might think, there is such a thing as too much power.” As if to prove his point, a tree nearby was literally reduced to ashes by his mere presence, causing him to groan. “As you can see, Celestia’s declaration of inter-dimensional war hasn’t helped matters any. It’s taking everything I have just to keep myself from tearing the land asunder. With that said, however, there’s an issue that’s cropped up that I simply cannot ignore, which is why I need your help.”

Applejack thought it over before nodding. “Mah friends can handle themselves without me for a bit, so Ah’m willing to listen.”

Back in the Lunar Republic headquarters, everycreature else was handling the intruders fairly well. Twilight Sparkle and her two counterparts were doing well to hold their own, though the native bearer of the Element of Magic still had some concerns. “We need to get the Crystal Mirrors out of here: if either one is damaged, odds aren’t very good of your return home.” With a unified nod, Princess Twilight and Sci-Twi made haste to move the mystical items to the last place Celestia would expect them to be: the Castle of Friendship.

Meanwhile, Applejack quirked an eyebrow in irritation. “Ah’m well aware that Celestia plans to attack Canterlot and Ponyville, but Ah’m not hearing why you needed mah help specifically.”

Discord nodded. “That concerns how she plans on doing it.” With that, he snapped his fingers, conjuring up an image of the farm pony’s Solar counterpart gathering up members of the Apple family to draft into the invasion force.

Needless to say, the Element of Honesty was shocked at this latest development. “Oh my Faust, no!”

The Spirit of Chaos simply pointed over towards the farm. “She’s over there, if you want to talk to her.”

“Ah believe Ah do,” Applejack said with determination, before looking towards the Draconequus with a curious expression, “though before Ah do, Ah need ta ask: did ya start working with the Republic before or after the Chaos became too much for even a fella like you?”

Discord simply nodded, having expected that question. “Definitely before. I like Chaos, but not like this: not this large-scale murder. That is a line I've always drawn, even before I befriended Fluttershy. Admittedly, it was because, if I made a habit of killing my enemies/playmates, I would eventually run out of beings to mess with, but still. In any case, the moment Twilight started her little rebellion, I was one of the first to volunteer to help.”

“Sometime after our world’s Rainbow Dash died, however, I began to notice that I was slowly losing more and more of a solid grip on the sort of Chaos that I did enjoy.” The Chaos Spirit went on to explain. “I’m still not completely certain if it was because the Element of Loyalty had lost it’s bearer or if it was a natural consequence of all the fear, anger, panic, and mistrust that was quietly going on behind the scenes, but I do know it's all due to a simple yet unavoidable flaw within the mission statement of the Solar Empire: they wish to eliminate all crime in Equestria.”

“But that’s impossible.” Discord declared. “A filly that eats a candy bar they forget to pay has technically committed a crime. A stallion who tries to force his way into his own house after realizing he’s forgotten his keys has technically committed a crime. A colt who defends himself against a drunk aggressor and accidentally ends up killing him/her has technically committed a crime. A homeless mare looking through somepony's garbage cans for something to potentially eat has technically committed a crime. As long as ponies suffer and/or make mistakes, crimes will take place, and not everypony who commits them is necessarily malicious in nature either. The good thing about most judicial systems, though, is that they try and take this into account...but the Solar Empire isn’t ‘most judicial systems.’”

“Every death, every bit of suffering, every attempt to maintain ‘order’...I felt them all,” the Draconequus said with a growl and a clenched fist. “You can’t control a living thing without destroying what’s alive about it...so the Empire's entire system is based on a lie. Ergo, therefore, and thusly, my powers won't become stabilized again unless this war is stopped. Celestia must be stopped, and I’m hoping that, as the Element of Honesty, you can help your counterpart to see that too.”

Before Applejack could respond to this, however, a low chuckle was heard, alongside a set of approaching hoofsteps. “Discord aids in the Republic’s endeavor,” Zecora declared as she made her approach. “As a strategist, he’s no Clover the Clever.”

Despite her malicious stance, however, the Element of Honesty couldn’t help but notice that one of the Zebra’s hooves was scratching at the dirt. In fact, it almost looked like she was...wait, she was writing something! “‘Help...me...be...free.’” Applejack read out loud before simply giving a nod, remembering what she’d heard from Rainbow about Flash Sentry, and knowing that this bout of “re-education” was just a touch stronger then what the Pegasus had undergone. Despite this, the farm filly just smiled. “Y’all wanted my help? All ya needed to do was ask,” she directed at both Discord and Zecora.

Needless to say, the fight that followed was a difficult one. Not only was Zecora the more well-rounded fighter, but unlike when Twilight had fought against Flash Sentry, the re-education the Zebra had undergone was of a more… complete variety, so Applejack couldn’t rely on Zecora fighting from the inside to get her out of this fight, unless of course you counted those subtle twitches her opponent would occasionally gave off as assistance.

Wait, are we counting those subtle twitches as assistance?

Well, they did end up causing Zecora to miss out on exploiting some obvious openings in Applejack’s defence whenever they showed up, so...maybe?

...Celestia’s kind of a jerk in this world, huh?

That she is, Pinkie. That she is. Anyways…

Applejack had quickly found herself on the defensive early on in the fight, but luckily for her, she had two things going for her. The first was that the land they were fighting on was still technically part of Sweet Apple Acres, and AJ had the home field advantage when fighting there in any world. The second was that while Discord couldn’t directly affect the fight for fear of accidentally killing somepony, that didn’t mean that he couldn’t indirectly aid the Element of Honesty every now and again. Case in point, it was no accident that when Applejack bucked a tree that Zecora had been standing under that one of the apples suddenly became the size of a small mellon when it fell on the Zebra’s head. Needless to say, that quickly took the shaman out of the fight.

Applejack simply sighed before looking towards Discord, gesturing to her fallen friend as she did. “Y’all have enough control to send her back to one of the Republic’s holding cells? Ah don’t feel comfortable just leaving her here.”

“That much I can still do without issue,” the Draconequus said with a nod. “Good luck dealing with yourself.”

“Thanks,” the farm filly said with a determined glare. “Ah think Ah might need it.”

Speaking of Applejack’s Solar Empire, though she was deeply conflicted with the latest development, continued to attempt to rally her family to aid into the coming attack...with understandably little success. Like the others, she knew this was wrong, but what other choice did they have? How else could she keep her family safe?”

“Stop right there, Sugarcube.” Applejack declared even as she revealed herself to...well herself. “Ya need to stand down. This ain’t right and ya know it, deep down.”

“Ah can’t do that,” Applejack said with a frustrated frown as she got into a fighting stance, not in the mood to be lectured by her counterpart in spite of her doubts. “Don’t y’all see? Canterlot showed us the truth, showed us the only choice we have: the only way varmints stay down is if ya force them to!”

The fight that followed very nearly ended in a stalemate. It seemed that for every punch, kick, and rope trick one version of Applejack would pull off, the other had the perfect counter to answer with. Luckily for the bearer of the Element of Honesty that hailed from the Equestria we all know and love, very few of the other members of her counterpart’s family weren’t content to just sit idly by while all this took place, and even fewer were willing to fight under the banner of the Solar Empire after everything that had happened. The irony wasn’t lost on Applejack that she eventually found herself restrained in no small part thanks to her counterpart getting assistance from the very ponies she had come to recruit to fight alongside her.

Applejack nodded her thanks to “her” family before turning towards “herself.” “Yer wrong: there’s always another choice.” Applejack said to the counterpart’s earlier statement as she struggled against her bindings. “Applejack, please: yer a good pony but yer making all the wrong decisions.”

“Shut...shut up!”

“Is this really what yer Ma and Pa would’ve wanted?!”

“AH DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO!” Here, Applejack couldn’t help but let out all the tears she had stored up over the years, ‘crying on the inside’ be damned. “Ah don’t know what else to do. Ah already lost Granny, Big Mac, Babs, and now Apple Bloom: Ah can’t lose any more of ma kin.”

“Ah seem to recall us once referring to Twilight as our kin: was that a lie?” Applejack simply nodded when her counterpart looked down in defeat. “Apple Bloom’s still alive, by the way.”

“WHAT?!” Applejack yelled out. “But Celestia said…” She then shook her head in frustration. “It was all a lie. This entire Solar Empire was built on a lie. How’d Ah not realize it sooner?”

“It promised to protect our family” Applejack immediately replied, “Even if it were a lie, we’d do anything to protect our kin. Ya and Celestia are the same in that regard...but Ah reckon there’s one small difference: we know when to draw the line on how far is too far.”

Applejack simply shook her head in frustration. “Ah just...Ah miss them, Ah miss them so much.”

“Ah know,” Applejack declared, letting her counterpart out of her restraints before bringing “herself” into a hug. “While Ah might not be from this world, Ah’m still an Apple, so Ah know better then anypony how important family is to ya...but this? Invading cities and other dimensions? That’s not the way to protect them, is it?”

“...no, it’s not,” this world’s Element of Honesty declared even as she returned the hug. “And it’s high time that we stop telling ourselves otherwise. Ah’ll bring the Apple family to Canterlot and Ponyville, alright, but if Celestia thinks she can burn them to the ground, she’ll have to burn us with them.”

Applejack simply smiled as she broke their embrace. “Good to have ya back, Sugarcube.”

Lunar Applejack just blushed in reply. “Good to be back.”

To be continued

Author's Note:

Okay, before we move on, I need to address the Elephant in the room: reforming Solar Applejack. As many of you have probably already guessed, the Element of Honesty is our resident Wonder Woman for this story, and for those of you who don’t already know the plot of Injustice 2, Injustice-verse Diana was never reformed. That said, I do think a case could be argued for Disharmony-verse Applejack turning on the Solar Empress as unlike her Injustice counterpart, she’s not just trying to help a leader they admire or pacify a few criminals: she’s trying to look after what little family she has left, since, let’s be honest: do you really think I named every character that died within the last few years with Twilight’s little rant earlier? I’ve got to leave the fates of some characters ambiguous for in case I decide to try writing the sequel, you know? ...and before you ask, there wasn't any particular reason I choose those names, other than they were the first ones that popped up when I wondered who would fight alongside the Lunar Republic and/or had been previously mentioned as a casualty of the war, you know? I'll go ahead and leave how they died up to you guys, though. ;)

In any case, once she’s remembered that her family is a lot bigger then she realized and/or that some of her kin isn’t as dead as she was lead to believe, it wouldn’t take too much to convince Applejack to try protecting her family the right way, particularly since she likely had been wavering in her choice to support Celestia since even before Mainline Twilight had been captured. Don’t worry though: this won’t derail the rest of the story too much and if I do try for a sequel, I already have a few ideas on how to make this alignment change work in regards to the overall narrative. Anyways, I hope that clears a few things up and that you’ll continue to enjoy the rest of the story.