• Published 24th Oct 2020
  • 3,970 Views, 1,561 Comments

Danganronpa: In Harmony's Wake - Dewdrops on the Grass



Trapped on a cruise ship with fifteen others, all with lost memories, Sunset Shimmer struggles to survive a killing game orchestrated by a mysterious being only known as Monoponi. Post Season Nine FIM. Now complete!

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Interlude 1

INTERLUDE

1

Canterlot, Equestria, two days later.

Life, Princess Twilight Sparkle decided, was pretty good. She leaned back in her new favorite reading chair, the third one she’d had to get this year, with the newest book on release from one of her favorite new authors, a pegasus living down in Baltimare who wrote the most thrilling adventures she’d read since Daring Do. She stretched out all six limbs to the fullest extent, almost whopping Spike in the face in the process.

“Woah, careful, Twilight,” he said, ducking under her outstretched wing. The dragon stood almost six feet tall now, his own wings almost as wide as hers. He’d grown up fast in the six years or so since she’d become Princess of all of Equestria, and was now able to meet her eye to eye.

Not that he was the only one who’d grown fast. “Whoops, sorry!” she said, blushing as she drew in her wings and rested them against her body. She was easily the size of Princess Luna now, and still wasn’t used to her new wingspan. At least her growth tended to come in sudden spurts instead of slowly over time. It was easier to deal with that way.

“Eh,” Spike shrugged. He hopped onto the nearby couch, his own book handy. “No biggie.”


“Haha, very funny,” Twilight said dryly. She turned her attention to her book, and just as she engrossed herself in the latest passage about the heroine’s brief love affair with a former enemy, there was a loud knock at her study door.

“Spike, could you get that please?” Twilight said, not looking up from her book. She was on break, darn it. Her duties as Princess could wait.

“Sure thing!” Spike hopped up from the couch, and soon returned bearing a box in his hands. “Huh. Just a postal delivery for you. Looks like it’s urgent.”

Twilight sighed and carefully floated her book down onto her chairside table. “Fine. Let me see it.”

Spike handed over the package, which Twilight took very carefully in her magic. The postal service for the castle was very good about sorting her mail, keeping her from being trapped under a massive deluge of fan mail, complaints, and the odd assassination attempt. Equestrians weren’t very good at them, being a peaceful species by nature, but that didn’t stop the occasional weirdo from trying.

But even so, Twilight insisted on performing her own magical scans of the package. Not because she was afraid of her own people--she wasn’t--but because of an incident that occurred several years ago.

Back when Twilight first became Princess of all Equestria, she’d had to lead a coalition of ponies and various neighboring species to defeat three powerful foes: the centaur Lord Tirek, the former Queen of the Changelings Chrysalis, and a pegasus filly turned alicorn named Cozy Glow. All three villains had been dealt with in the past, and had combined their powers thanks to Discord being rather silly in thinking she needed the challenge. In retrospect, she appreciated it more than she’d thought she would, now that it was years later. Probably because the destruction to Canterlot Castle meant she got to redecorate.

The three villains had been petrified in the process of stopping them, and for a time their statue had been placed--and securely monitored 24/7--in a new park built right outside of Ponyville. They remained secured there for a good four months. And then, they escaped. No one knew how. The guards on patrol at the time had seen no one, pony or otherwise, anywhere nearby other than the usual residents of the town. No magic signature was detected. She even had King Thorax come in with some of his best changelings to sweep the area, just in case any unreformed changelings were still around and had helped their former Queen escape.

It was all to no avail. There’d been no sign. Neither head nor tail had ever been spotted, in Equestria, in the Dragonlands, the Badlands, Farasia, Saddle Arabia, Mount Aeris… nowhere. They’d just vanished. Every few months Twilight took the time to cross over into the human world, but there’d been no sign of anything there either. No new enemies cropping up to wreak harm, no wild Equestrian magic turning yet another innocent person into a villain of the week.

Still, caution was necessary. New standards of security had been enacted at every major Equestrian governmental facility. There was more tension in the air in high-population density cities, such as Manehattan and Canterlot. Tirek, Chrysalis, and Cozy Glow were three of the worst villains ever to terrorize her people. Twilight wasn’t about to risk them suddenly reappearing and inciting more tribal violence or staging another takeover. She was certain they’d resurface.

At least, she had been, until they finally found them, one year ago. Or rather, what was left of them. They’d somehow ended up embedded in a glacier on the top of Mount Everhoof, their bodies trapped eternally in ice, locked in the death throes of combat. Tirek had used his horns to eviscerate Chrysalis even as she impaled Cozy Glow on her own horn. The sight had soured more than a few stomachs, including her own. What had caused them to fight like that, she doubted they’d ever know. They were dead now. She’d made certain of that herself. Their corpses were authentic. No trickery, no fakes. Sometimes she wondered if Discord had been behind it. He certainly spent a lot of time whistling nonchalantly after the discovery.

Everything seemed well since then. Sure, there was still the occasional issue she had to run into or send friends to deal with, but unlike the wild ride of the past few years or so since Twilight had first moved to Ponyville following Luna’s return, everything was peaceful.

But she’d grown used to the security procedures. Just because the original reason they were enacted was gone didn’t mean they weren’t still wise. So she took it seriously, just as she had every other mail delivery. She scanned it over several times. The package did possess a magical signature, but not a hostile or familiar one. Magic wasn’t inherently bad in a package, after all. It could be someone had sent her some brand new piece of magitek. She had been slowly but surely introducing a number of ideas she’d borrowed from the human world, and the benefits of new technologies being carefully introduced and adapted boosted the economy and made her people even more prosperous than before.

As such, after performing every scan she could think of, Twilight shrugged and opened up the package. The contents were not what she’d expected, to say the least. Baffled, she set the object inside on her desk. “Spike, is this what I think it is?”

“Woah!” Spike hopped back up from the couch where he’d been reading and with two quick flaps of his wings was hovering right by her desk. It was an old habit from when he first got his wings, when he was still so short he couldn’t even see the top. Of course he didn’t need to do it anymore, but whenever he got excited he did it anyway. Twilight thought it was adorable and chose never to say a word about it. “Yeah, I think it is!”

“But, why?” Twilight cocked her head to the side, her ears going flat against her skull. “I wasn’t planning on introducing this kind of device for a good ten or fifteen years to anyone.” Now more concerned than ever, Twilight floated the box over to check the return address. “No return address. Darn. Where did this come from?”

Twilight glared down at the offending object. It was a television set. And not just any kind of television set, but a plasma flat-screen TV, the same kind she’d seen Sunset shell out a couple months pay for just so she could play games on a larger screen. It was wildly advanced technology, full of integrated circuits and liquid crystal displays and various things even Twilight still didn’t fully understand. It was far in advance of anything she’d introduced to her people, and was entirely out of place.

Perhaps most concerning of all, it had come with a power adapter, to let her plug a human-world style electrical plug into an Equestrian style magitek outlet, like the ones she used for her desk fan and desk light. Considering the difficulties she’d had with the natural tendency of portals between the worlds to transform objects and people into local equivalents rather than pass through unchanged--one of the many reasons she hadn’t even bothered to introduce integrated circuits yet, let alone ones as complex as in this television--the very fact this existed had Twilight deeply worried.

“Twi, you think this might have something to do with---”

Twilight held up a hoof, and Spike quieted immediately. “No. I doubt it. If it was Discord, the television would’ve already exploded into a cream pie or something.” She chuckled wryly. “Fluttershy’s been such a good influence on him. He hasn’t even pranked me for a good few moons.”

Spike shrugged. “Want me to plug it in, then?”

Twilight nodded. “Might as well.” Twilight was pretty sure the magical signature she’d picked off the television was some kind of transmission. It wouldn’t pick up anything local, because there was nothing local to pick up, but still.

With a few swift movements, Spike hooked up the adapter and plugged the television into the outlet. The instant he did, the screen switched on, revealing a unicorn pony with one of the oddest coat and mane combinations Twilight had ever seen. He--for he was certainly a stallion, even if he was rather short--was black on one side of his body, white on the other, straight down the middle as if he’d coated one half of his body in paint. His eyes were a deep crimson, staring out right from under his horn with a cold, sadistic gaze that immediately sent Twilight's nerves aquiver.

And then the alicorn spread his wings, one feathered in white, one black and leathery, and Twilight knew something was very, very wrong. “Upupupu!” The stallion cackled, holding up a forehoof to his mouth. “Twilight Sparkle! It’s about time you received my package!”

Twilight took a step back, her horn lit up ready to summon up one of any number of types of shield spells. “Get behind me, Spike,” she ordered, and her adopted little brother hopped to it at once. “Who are you?”

“Moi? Oh, I’m so happy you asked, Twilight! I am Monoponi.” The stallion struck a pose, extending his wings out to their fullest as he stood up on his hind legs, in the process revealing his cutie mark, a jagged red lightning-bolt. “No one special, really. Just someone who has sixteen of your very best friends under his control.” He gasped, dropping onto his hooves. “Ooops. Did I say sixteen? I meant fourteen! Ahahahaha!”

“Spike! Get Gallus for me. Now!” Twilight cried. She raised up a sparkling purple shield covering the half of the room Spike was in, protecting him even as he bounded for the door. Turning her attention back to the television, she said, “What are you talking about? Who do you have?”

“You know, I was really hoping to show you before they started making a mess of things, but you know the Equestrian mail service. It’s always a little bit… derpy.”

Twilight’s horn sparked, spreading a small shield below her hoof even as she stomped it hard on the marble, preventing damage while still making a very loud crack! “I asked you a question! Answer me! Who are you?”

“Oho, look at the princess! Getting mad already, Twilight? You’re just like yourself, you know? Or is that other self? I don’t know anymore! Upupupupu!” Monoponi chortled, glaring straight into Twilight’s eyes and not backing down an inch.

Twilight wasn’t stupid. She’d grown over these past few years, not just literally in size, but in maturity as well. That’s not to say she was immature when she took power over her country; she was a bit childlike, but she was also still a very young mare at the time, barely into her twenties. Now, closer to thirty and with several years of proper governmental experience under her hoof, she had a bit more restraint. A bit less likely to go “Twily-nanas,” as Shining liked to put it.

Obviously, intimidation wasn’t going to work. So she relaxed her stance, opting to stand quietly and patiently, waiting for Monoponi to speak again.

Monoponi stood frozen for a few more moments before he suddenly threw up his hooves and groaned. “Ugh! You’re not nearly as fun this way! Fine. You want to know so badly? I’ll tell you!”

The screen switched to a picture of several individuals Twilight recognized immediately, and despite being prepared for someone, anyone to be revealed as prisoners of this evil stallion, she couldn’t help but gasp. Instead of ponies, there were humans on the screen. She shouldn’t have been surprised, really, given the television, and yet somehow it was still a shock. She recognized them all, of course. Sunset Shimmer, her own human counterpart, Rarity, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and… “Adagio Dazzle?” she muttered under her breath. “Why is she there?”

The screen changed again, revealing more. Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, Apple Bloom. Diamond Tiara, Trixie. Even Flash Sentry and Timber Spruce, along with someone with green hair and paler green skin she didn’t immediately recognize, though she seemed familiar. Wallflower Blush, maybe?

All of them were aboard some kind of ship. Twilight hadn’t had much experience with the ocean in the human world, as apart from the occasional visit to see Sunset and one particular trip they took together a few years ago, she’d never really ventured outside of Earth’s version of Canterlot. But it was definitely a ship, somewhere on the ocean.

“Look, Princess. Look upon your precious friends.”

The screen switched again, showcasing camera footage tracking Sunset and Rarity walking about the ship. There was audio this time, leaving Twilight even more confused as she listened to them introduce themselves, over and over, as if none of them had ever met. But that didn’t make any sense. Apart from that one she didn’t know, and Adagio, they were all friends, had been for years, some of them decades!

And sure, there was the occasional sign of recognition. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash still knew each other, and Applejack and Rarity knew their sisters, of course. But otherwise they were all acting like complete strangers!

“What did you do to them?” Twilight found herself asking. She couldn’t look away. She was utterly transfixed, as if the television itself had been imbued with a Want It Need It spell or something similar.

“Oh, nothing too bad,” said Monoponi as the camera footage paused, his image appearing as a smaller picture-in-picture in one corner of the screen. “I just took away their memories of each other! Ahahahaha!”

“But, why?” Twilight struggled to understand this action. It didn’t make the slightest bit of sense to her.

Monoponi held up a hoof to his mouth. “Upupupu, let’s find out, shall we?”

The footage played on, showcasing Monoponi’s debut. And as the explanation went on, and Twilight saw the nature of the game her friends were forced to play, her heart sank further and further into sheer terror, her eyes widening to the size of dinner plates, her whole body shaking like a tree branch in a hurricane. “No, nononononono!” she babbled, all sense of demeanor gone as she reverted back to the scared little anxious filly she’d always been inside. “Nonono! You can’t! You can’t do that! That’s insane! That’s horrible! What, why… why would you…”

Her heart thundered a million miles per hour as a realization came to her mind. She let out a loud, obvious gasp. “Wait… y-y-you said sixteen and then f-fourteen earlier… d-d-do you mean… no…”

Monoponi disappeared briefly from the screen as his laughter echoed over the speakers. “Upupupueyahahahahaha! You want spoilers, is that right? You want me to jump ahead? Well, I guess I can give you a little taste!”

The screen switched to a courtroom. Not one that Twilight had ever seen, but some kind of human style, set up with sixteen podiums in a circle. Fifteen were occupied by people. One… wasn’t. A part of her, a dirty, dingy, rotten part of her heart was glad it was Wallflower, whom she didn’t know very well, rather than someone else. The rest of her was disgusted at the very thought of feeling such relief.

Then it switched to another still shot, this one of Timber Spruce, strapped to a tree, staring in horror at an approaching chainsaw. The sight chilled Twilight to the bone, even as her instincts screamed it was time to start galloping away in sheer fright.

And then it switched right back to the footage it had been playing before, paused as ever. “I think that’s enough spoilers, don’t you?” Monoponi said, gesturing with a forehoof. “After all, I’ve got days worth of footage for you to watch. You’re really behind, you know?”

“Be...behind?”

“Everything you just saw a preview of, the trial?” Monoponi’s eyes flashed. “That was two days ago. That’s right! Two people, already dead, before you even knew what was happening! And more are soon to follow! Ahahahaha!”

The door to the room slammed open, and in strode Spike as well as Gallus, her brand new Captain of the Guard, a griffon that had once been one of her first, and most important, students at the School of Friendship. She’d chosen Gallus for her captain because of his loyalty, but also because he knew how to treat her like a pony and not just The Princess. Even in the few short years he’d been in the Guard, he’d distinguished himself well. “Captain Gallus, reporting as ordered, ma’am!” he said, snapping one foreclaw to his head in salute.

The spoken words of obedience helped throw a cold bucket of ice water on Twilight’s frazzled nerves, letting her summon up the courage to be Princess-like once more, rather than a scared little foal. “Gallus, I need you to put together a team. We need to track down where this package I just received came from. Make sure there are several unicorn experts at tracking spells in the group!” She pointed directly at the television. “There’s a live broadcast of some kind of signal being aimed at this thing, and we need to know where it’s coming from as soon as possible! Lives are on the line!”

“You got it!” Gallus chirped. He took flight and sped away, not even bothering to walk.

“Oh, you don’t think I’m going to make it that easy, do you, Princess?” Monoponi teased, his image taking up the whole screen once more. “You know this signal’s not coming from Equestria, riiiight?”

“That much is obvious,” Twilight snarled, surprised at the sheer amount of hatred in her voice. This stallion was getting to her. Bad. “I’m not stupid. I can see that for myself.”

“Twilight? What’s he talking about?” Spike asked, a concerned look spread across his draconic features.

“I’ll explain later, Spike. Right now, I need you to start documenting. Everything you see from this television has to be recorded, got it? No matter how bad it is, we need to keep a record.”

Spike arched a single eyebrow, but then shrugged and went for his writing supplies. He eschewed the usual quill and parchment for a typewriter instead, a decision Twilight whole-heartedly approved of.

Satisfied that her brother was up to the task, she whirled and pointed one hoof squarely at Monoponi. “As for you. Don’t you dare think for a single moment I’m going to let you get away with this!”

“Ah, there it is!” Monoponi practically swooned as he fell over for just a moment, before hopping back to his hooves. “That determination! That ferocity! That sheer belief in yourself that you have the power to stop me!” He bared his teeth, revealing jagged, cleaving incisors so unlike the usual flat pony teeth. “But you just don’t understand what you’re dealing with this time, Twilight Sparkle. This isn’t like the little games you used to play with your friends, where everyone was safe and no one ever got hurt. This time, blood has already been spilled. And more will be spilled in the future. More, and more, and more and moremoremoremoremoremoremoremoremoremore! Till every last one of your friends are dead!”

To his credit, Spike gasped, but kept typing away anyway, recording just as he was ordered even as disbelief plastered itself all over his face.

“No,” Twilight declared, sweeping one foreleg in front of her in a dismissive gesture. “Absolutely not. I don’t know who you are, Monoponi, but you won’t get away with this. I’m going to save my friends.” A few tears dripped from her eyes, but Twilight paid them no heed. “All of my friends!”

“Oh, Twilight, Twilight, Twilight… you still don’t get it, do you?” Monoponi wiggled his forehoof, tut-tutting before setting it back down. “If your goal is saving everyone’s lives, you’ve already failed! Maybe you should content yourself with what few might be left by the time you finally figure out where we are.” He shrugged, and his horn lit, pulling a large chair out from off screen so he could rest upon it. “I look forward to meeting you in person again. But for now, I think I’ll just bid you adieu, and let the footage play itself!”

Her eyebrows practically shot off her head, they rose so fast. “Wait, again?! What do you mean?”

“Ah ah ah,” Monoponi giggled. “Spoilers.”

His image vanished from the screen, replaced by the camera footage of the ship’s deck, resuming right where it had left off. As the conversation began to play, Spike cast Twilight a horrified look. “Twilight?”

Softly, quietly, Twilight took a seat next to him, and explained the situation. The further she got into it, the more furious Spike became, until she was worried he’d smash the typewriter apart. Though, if she were honest with herself, she felt pretty much the same, and wouldn’t blame him one bit. “So what’re we gonna do?” he asked once she finished.

“We’re going to do everything we can to find him, and stop him, before any more of our friends… die.” Just saying the word left Twilight feeling physically ill. It wasn’t that she wasn’t familiar with the concept of death. It was a fact of life, as true in Equestria as it was on Earth. But Equestrians just didn’t have the kind of violence that was so common in the human world. A variety of things humans accepted as just everyday criminal acts would be seen as monstrous, Tartarus-imprisonment-worthy offenses. Most of the villains she’d stopped in the past hadn’t killed anyone, and of the few that did, well… apart from Chrysalis, Cozy Glow, and Tirek, two others had paid the ultimate price. One, the Storm King, had basically done it to himself. King Sombra, however…

Sometimes, she regretted that. It had been in the heat of the moment, summoning the power of their friendship to defeat his magic. They were just trying to defeat him. It had been heartwarming, at the time. Inspiring. But it still erased him from existence. It still… killed him, ultimately, even if that was only because he wasn’t much more than a shadow, a spectre of a pony given flesh rather than a true pony with a true soul.

Maybe, if she was lucky, very lucky, she wouldn’t have to do the same to Monoponi. But somehow, in her heart, she already knew that was just as hopeless a wish as saving everyone. This was a monster who’d force her hoof and leave her with no other choice.

“Do you think we can?” Spike asked.

No, I don’t, Twilight thought, furious with herself for thinking it. So instead of answering with that, Twilight swallowed away the fear and shame she’d felt, and said, “I hope so, Spike. I hope so.”

Author's Note:

So this is our first little look into the reason why all of this is taking place. It's also a chance for me to inject a little bit of my own take on the future of FIM, after the Ending of the End. There are many reasons why I chose to age up the Equestria Girls characters, and this was one of them. Princess Twilight is key to this entire story, and it only works if it's done post FIM. And, also, from a plausibility standpoint, she's not going to sit around when so many of her friends are missing.

My apologies to anyone who thought I was going for something other than Princess Twilight with Monoponi's initial hint. That one really was as on the nose as it seemed, and I only included it because I knew this would post soon afterwards. :twilightblush:

Who is the villain behind Monoponi? Well it's probably not you think. That's all I'll say for now.

On Saturday, we'll start Chapter Two proper.

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