• Published 24th Oct 2020
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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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Chapter Three: A Maelstrom of Murder Part 9

Chapter Three:

A Maelstrom of Murder

Post Trial and Epilogue

Monoponi arose from his throne, clapping his forehooves together in a mocking display of false applause. “Bravo, bravo,” he cheered. “My lovely passengers, look at you all. You’ve done such a wonderful job!”

“Please don’t drag this out any further,” Rarity moaned, collapsed over her podium. “Can you just tell us if we got it right or not?”

“Upupu, very well then!” Monoponi lit his horn, and the tally screen on the display was replaced by a pair of spinning wheels, one decorated with butterflies, the other with balloons. Both wheels spun and spun until the pointers focused on Twilight and Trixie’s faces respectively. The word GUILTY exploded above both faces in a cascade of twin fireworks, one in purple, one in blue.

“Congratulations, idiots! That’s right, the killer of Fluttershy, the Ultimate Veterinarian, was none other than Twilight Sparkle, the Ultimate Researcher. And in a twofer, the killer of Pinkie Pie, the Ultimate Party Planner? It was indeed Trixie Lulamoon, the Ultimate Illusionist! Bravo!” He fell back on his rump and clapped his forehooves together several more times. “You idiots were this close to getting it wrong though! Trixie almost fooled you. But I knew Sunset could pull it off, in the end.”

“Oh shut up,” I grumbled, glaring at him in lieu of looking at Trixie. Out the corner of my eye, I could see her standing there, hunched over, face bowed, guilt written all over her face. Good. She should feel guilty.

Rainbow Dash collapsed onto her podium, letting out long, quiet laughs of relief. “I didn’t kill Pinkie Pie,” she muttered in between laughs. “I didn’t do it… thank god…”

“Ya still tried to blame it on Rarity and me though,” Applejack groused, fixing the athlete with a glare.

Rainbow shot up from her podium, holding one hand to her chest while the other stroked the back of her head. “Ahehehe, sorry?” she laughed nervously.

Rarity hummed, then spun her hand on her wrist in a dismissive gesture. “Oh, I suppose I can’t blame you, Rainbow Dash. None of us want to die, after all.” She drew in her hand, her expression darkening with disdain as she looked Applejack’s way. “Though maybe some of us should.”

Applejack held up one hand and extended a middle finger in the direction of the seamstress without looking at her. “Ah guess Ah can’t really be that upset about it either, to tell you the truth. Ah might’ve done somethin’ similar in your situation.” She glanced Trixie’s way. “It’s Trixie who we oughta be mad at. She tried to make you take the blame.”

“Yeah, Trixie, what the hell, huh?” Rainbow Dash cried, throwing up her hands. “What the hell’d I ever do to you?”

“Nothing,” Trixie answered, in a monotone voice. She refused to meet Rainbow’s gaze. “I took advantage of you. That’s all.”

Adagio leered at Trixie, a dark look of vindication on her face. “And so we see your true colors. The real you, beneath your stupid inability to speak like a normal person. I knew you couldn’t be trusted. I told you, Sunset. You never should’ve put up with her.”

“No. I shouldn’t have,” I agreed. The anger swirling about my mind right now was just like the storm clouds hovering above the ship: dark, dismal, depressing, and most of all, heart-breaking. Adagio, at least, I could’ve understood. She was a siren. She had a history of death behind her. I wouldn’t have been happy. I’d still be just as mad. But I could have understood.

Trixie, though… I didn’t. I didn’t understand that one bit. She’d always seemed so good inside. A bit egotistical, sure. Bombastic personality, definitely. A bit too quick to judge sometimes. But not a killer.

Or so I’d thought.

“Normally,” Monoponi said, drawing our attention back to him, “this would be where I’d show you all what Sunset got wrong this time. But once again, she somehow got everything right! It’s infuriating!” He waved one hoof disdainfully, and lit his horn. “I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied by making you all watch this instead.”

The display lit up once more.

~*~
The camera first focused on a quick montage of Twilight Sparkle. Pondering to herself in the library. Hatching her plan. Sneaking off into a corner of the library with a reference book and the logbook. Writing out the note one letter at a time. Discarding draft after draft till she got it right. Then she dropped off the note.

We switched to a view of the jewelry store. Fluttershy puttered about, examining bracelet after bracelet. “What do you think of this one, Pinkie?” she asked, holding up a golden one lined with rubies.

“Oooh, that’s pretty! Buuut maybe not my color,” Pinkie admitted. From our viewpoint we could see her backing up slowly towards a small box marked with red tape sitting out on a counter. As Fluttershy turned to put it back, Pinkie outstretched one arm and carefully scooped up the ring box.

“Oh, um, okay,” Fluttershy said, smiling. “You’re right. Let’s see… hmm…” She leaned back over, focused on the displays of silver and gold.

Quick as a flash, Pinkie trotted up on her toes and with one smooth motion slipped the box into Fluttershy’s pocket. She turned it into a casual tucking of her arm behind her head as Fluttershy looked over her shoulder. “Oooh, Fluttershy,” Pinkie said, “maybe we should get something matching!”

“Oh that’s a good idea,” Fluttershy replied, seemingly unconcerned by Pinkie’s sudden close proximity. She scanned over the displays some more, then picked out two sets of matching gold and silver cuffs, each festooned with a different gemstone.. “What about these?”

“Hmm…” Pinkie Pie took the silver set, placed one on, then the other, and jangled them. Her eyes lit up in a way they hadn’t since before Wallflower died. “I love it!”

“Yay!” Fluttershy cheered. She took the cuffs back from Pinkie and made her way to the register. “Let’s scan them right now.”

It was only afterwards, as Fluttershy left the shop and the klaxons blared, that we saw the dawning look of panic and horror on Pinkie Pie’s face.

The footage skipped to just after Fluttershy’s death, briefly showing us Twilight, then Pinkie. Twilight was stunned, depressed, and most of all, scared. But Pinkie…

Pinkie had fallen into true despair. The depths of sorrow in those eyes… there was no coming back from it. She knew what she’d done.

We saw another quick montage of Pinkie Pie retreating to her cabin, dosing herself up on morphine as she scrawled in her diary like mad, crying to herself over and over, before finally making the decision to purchase the other drugs. She flitted in and out of the pharmacy like a ghost in the night.

The footage skipped again, to the night of Pinkie’s murder, with Pinkie, twitching ever so often, as she stumbled her way down the access corridor. She threw open the door to the fitness center. “Hi Rainbow,” she murmured as she walked right up to Dash, who was busy pedaling on a cycling machine.

“Uh, hey,” Rainbow said sullenly. She kept pedaling, refusing to look Pinkie’s way.

Pinkie Pie’s lips trembled as she twiddled with her thumbs before abruptly jumping up on the cycle next to Dash’s. “Is… is it okay if I join you?”

“Sure, I guess.”

The footage switched to an interior shot from the sauna, as Pinkie and Rainbow Dash went to sit down inside. “Look, Pinkie,” Rainbow said as she shut the door. “I appreciate the, like, company and all, but you’ve obviously got something to say. Just spill it already.”

Pinkie Pie’s eyes misted up, her lips trembling as she held herself. Then she burst into tears. “I’m so sorry about Fluttershy, Rainbow,” she sobbed.

“Uh…”

“She was so nice and sweet and caring and one of the only people here who actually wanted to be my friend and it’s so sad she’s dea-he-heeeeead!”

“Pinkie,” Rainbow grumbled, tensing up.

“A-and the worst part is it wasn’t even her fault she didn’t deserve it it was that stupid big meanie Monoponi he never should’ve shot her not over a stupid ring it wasn’t her fault it wasn’t her fault!”

“Pinkie…”

“She should be right here with you she’s your best friend and she was taken away and--”

“PINKIE PIE!” Rainbow Dash shouted. “Stop! Talking!”

“IT’S MY FAULT!” Pinkie blurted. “I KILLED HER!”

Rainbow Dash fell back against the bench, her eyes the size of dinner plates. “What?” she gasped.

“I did it,” Pinkie said, her face falling into her hands as she wailed. “It was me. I gave her the ring.”

“You… you what?! What the fuck?!” Rainbow Dash jumped to her feet, looming over Pinkie as her whole body shook with unrelenting rage. “Why?! Why the hell would you do that? What is wrong with you? Why?”

“Huh?” Pinkie looked up, utterly baffled. “What… what do you mean, why?” Her face twisted up in anger. “You’re the one who gave me the note, Rainbow!”

“What?” Rainbow blinked, taken aback. “What note?”

“Your note, silly!” Pinkie barked, the sheer anger in her voice echoing in the small room. “You said it was okay to give her the ring! You said it was already bought! Why would you tell me that if it wasn’t safe, huh? It was your fault too!”

“My fault? My...fault…?!” Rainbow Dash squeezed her fists at her sides as she shook violently, her face so twisted up in fury she turned purple, veins throbbing on her forehead. “You fucking bitch!” Rainbow Dash let out a wordless cry and kicked Pinkie Pie in the stomach, knocking the wind out of her. As Pinkie fell back against the bench, she left the sauna, slammed the door shut, and turned the heat up to maximum. Then, still letting out screams she trudged down to the locker room and went inside.

Pinkie sat up, coughing and spluttering. “Ooow,” she murmured, clutching her stomach. “That wasn’t… I… “ she reached up and wiped sweat from her brow. “Phew! It’s so hot!”

The camera switched to a view from the corridor. Trixie popped open the door to the hot tub room, looked both ways briefly, then sped over and held the door closed by pressing her shoulder against it.

“H-hey!” Pinkie Pie shouted, looking out the window, wide-eyed with panic. “Trixie?! Trixie what’re you doing? Let me out!”

Trixie’s face was flat, neutral, no emotion whatsoever. Like a robot, or a golem. She refused to move or speak.

Pinkie slammed her fists on the door. “Trixie! This isn’t funny! Let me out!” Trixie didn’t respond. “Trixiiiie! It’s too hot! Let me out, please! LET ME OUT! IT HURTS!” Pinkie smashed her hands on the door again and again, harder and harder, grunting, screaming in pain as she begged and pleaded to be let out.

Finally, her eyes drooped. “Trixie… Trixie… let me… oooooo…” she trailed off and collapsed.

Trixie waited for a moment, then opened the door, recoiling from the sudden release of steam. She wafted a hand in front of her nose, her mouth twisting in disgust, presumably from the smell of Pinkie’s roasted-looking body. She knelt down and felt for Pinkie’s heartbeat. “Shoot,” she cursed. She quickly glanced back down the corridor, but Rainbow Dash hadn’t returned yet. She glanced back down at Pinkie, humming to herself. Then for a brief moment, she grinned.

The camera switched angles so we could no longer see Trixie's face. We could only hear her voice. Reaching into Pinkie’s pocket, she let out a little laugh of triumph as she pulled out three syringes. “Sorry, Pinkie,” she snickered as she popped the cap off each syringe, then pulled down Pinkie’s shirt. She held them up in her hand like a trio of daggers, and plunged them into Pinkie’s flesh. Pinkie’s body gave an involuntary jerk as Trixie pushed down the plunger on each syringe, then pulled them out, making sure to put Pinkie’s shirt back in place.

Trixie stuffed the syringes in her cloak and watched as Pinkie’s body twitched, thrashed, and convulsed, before abruptly ceasing. Trixie reached forward again, and checked Pinkie’s pulse, still chuckling, albeit half-heartedly.

Despite her apparent glee, as she stood up and faced the direction of the camera, I saw, for just a split second, a massive amount of guilt and shame cross her face, before she schooled it away. She cocked her head, hearing the sound of a door opening, and quickly ran down the hall the other way, towards the pool.

Rainbow Dash, no longer fuming, came back, turned down the heat, then opened the sauna door. “I’m sorry, Pinkie, I shouldn’t have--oh my god!” She was on her knees in an instant, running her hands over Pinkie, trying desperately to perform CPR. “No, no, no, no!” she cried even as she pumped on Pinkie’s chest. “Damn it, Pinkie, come on!”

But it was no use. Rainbow Dash fell back on her butt, crying tears of frustration. “Oh my god...Pinkie I didn’t… I didn’t mean to--I’m so sorry!” She cursed herself out over, and over, smashing a hand on the floor, then suddenly froze, her pupils dilating to tiny dots. “Oh no. Ohnonono, he’s gonna kill me. He’s gonna execute me! I gotta do something!”

She stood up, tapping her head. “Come on, Dash, think, think… wait a minute.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out the picture she’d found earlier that day. “Okay. Okay, this’ll… this’ll work. Craaaap. I don’t want to do this… I never meant for… damn it, no time. I gotta move fast. I can’t let anyone find the body!”

The camera switched to a quick montage of her setting up the fake picture, cringing as she smashed Pinkie’s head in, cutting her hair, and weighing down the body, dropping Pinkie in and watching her sink to the bottom. Then she planted the picture and Monopad by the fake scene in the weightroom. “Sorry, guys,” she said as she set it down. “Sorry… Pinkie.” She sighed, bowed her head, then left the room.

Switching again, the camera showed Trixie rushing out of my cabin, panic-stricken. We watched a montage of everything, from the pharmacy, to the pool, all the while Trixie panicked until she finally managed to drop off the syringes in Adagio’s kit. Only then did she relax.

The final shot of the camera focused on Trixie’s face as we discovered the body. For a moment, just a moment, instead of faux surprise, she bore an expression of guilt and sorrow.

~*~

As the display winked off, I found my stomach churning with a coarse, sour mixture of disgust, anger, and an unhealthy dose of depression. The depression gummed up the works till my stomach felt more like a twenty-ton rock weighing me down. It’d been one thing to discuss what Trixie did. To speculate. To describe it in words or see the aftermath. It was another thing altogether to watch her do the deed, to see the fear in Pinkie’s eyes, to watch her stab the needles in… as bad as watching Timber, Sweetie, and Fluttershy be executed, in some ways, this was far worse.

No. It was definitely worse. Because I had to watch someone I thought was my friend kill another person I considered a friend.

I never want to see something like that again for as long as I lived.

“Upupu, Trixie, you’re so brutal! Ahahaha!” Monoponi cried, laying on his back so he could fluff his belly with his forelegs.

Rarity stepped as far back as she dared from Trixie, scowling at the illusionist. “You monster,” she said. “I won’t shed a tear when Monoponi executes you.

“I think I’ll laugh, actually,” Adagio purred even as she cast Trixie a dark glare.

“Well you just might get that chance!” Monoponi cheered, standing up on his throne. “Because now it’s time to unveil a very special bonus game!”

His horn lit up, and a new image appeared on the display, showing a circle split in two sections, right down the middle. One section, with a ghostly image of Twilight’s star mark, was purple. The other was colored a light blue, with an equally ghostly image of a wand and crescent moon. “As you can see,” he said, gesturing grandly with his wings, “we have here a lovely little pie chart. One of these two despicable blackeneds will be executed, and you get to choose! Whichever one has the majority wins!”

“Good grief, it’s like a shitty game show,” Flash groaned, slapping his forehead.

“Oh, don’t describe it as shitty, Flash, you’ll break your captain’s heart!” Monoponi laughed. “Because you get to vote individually! You’ll take your turn one at a time, and declare who you’re voting for and why. Won’t this be fun? Ahahahaha!”

Twilight and Trixie locked eyes for a moment, then each looked away in turn. “So only one of us gets executed, then?” Twilight asked.

Monoponi shrugged. “Well, yes. But don’t worry! The other will still get punished. I’m not going to let someone off scot free just because there’s two of you! As for what that punishment will be? You’ll just have to see.” He giggled to himself. “So, who will go first…. Hmmm… hmmm… Well, why don’t we start with one of our blackeneds, hmm? Twilight! You get to choose first, then we’ll proceed anticlockwise from there. Feel free to vote for yourself if you want, upupupu!”

Twilight frowned deeply, bending over her podium. She stood in quiet contemplation for several moments, before standing up straight and saying, “I vote for myself. Pinkie never would’ve spoken to Rainbow Dash if I hadn’t written that note. So I’ll take the fall.”

Twilight’s section of the chart glowed for a moment as it grew, shrinking Trixie’s by the same amount.

“Well, well, well! Such nobility! Such self-sacrifice!” Monoponi pointed a hoof at Tiara. “Your turn, rich kid.”

Tiara snorted, refusing to rise to the bait. She glanced briefly at Twilight, shrugged, and then locked eyes on Trixie. Casually holding out a middle finger, she declared, “I vote Trixie. Because wow, what you did to Pinkie Pie was sick. And not in a good way.”

Trixie’s side glowed now as the chart shifted back to fifty-fifty.

Scootaloo didn’t hesitate when the choice came to her, a harsh glare directed at her target. “Trixie, definitely. Twilight’s was an accident, but you’re a dirty stinking murderer.”

Now Trixie’s side of the chart overtook Twilight’s. Every time the display shifted, the weight in my stomach grew heavier and harder to bear.

Applejack ran her thumb along the edge of her hat, working her jaw like she was chewing on a piece of straw. Or a cigarette. “Ah’m havin’ a hard time decidin’ here. On the one hand, Twilight’s right with what she says, about bein’ behind it all. And Ah can’t say I agree with her decision to try and teach Pinkie a lesson. But, Scootaloo’s right too. There’s a difference here. One of you’s dumber than a box of rocks, but the other’s a rotten snake. And Ah don’t care for rotten snakes.” She pointed at Trixie. “Ah vote for you.”

Rarity crossed her arms and shook her hair out of her face, using one hand to brush a few loose hairs into place. “I believe I’ve already made my feelings clear. If someone is to die today, let it be the one who actually took a life.”

Trixie’s side of the chart grew again, now taking up a good two thirds of the display.

But Trixie was also up next. She kept her head bowed, refusing to look at anyone, refusing to speak, until finally, after several excruciatingly long minutes, she raised her head long enough to say a single word. “Twilight.” Then she bowed it again, and I heard the sound of her sobbing quiet tears.

And now it was my turn. I closed my eyes to think. This whole process is agonizing, and sick. I knew Monoponi’d be messed up enough to make us vote. I don’t want to do this. I don’t. Forcing us to choose like this, it’s only going to create further division. Especially since it looks like Twilight’s probably going to make it out of this.

Well. I’d better make sure of that, then. Opening my eyes, I said, “For the record, Monoponi, you’re a complete ass for making us choose like this.” Firing off one last look of disgust Trixie’s way, I added, “I vote for Trixie.”

“Ohoho, so much for the magic of friendship!” Monoponi shouted, clapping his hooves together.

Rainbow Dash glanced back and forth between Twilight and Trixie. “You know what, I dunno who to vote for. Trixie, you had me convinced I’d killed someone. That sucks, you know? It’s a whole ton of guilt that eats away at you, like some kinda monster chewing on my guts.” She snorted and slammed a hand on her podium. “But on the other hand, Twilight, you stupid egghead, you’re the one who got Fluttershy killed in the first place! And if it was up to me, I’d vote for you.” She sighed, closing her eyes. “But I know what Fluttershy would’ve done, if she were here. She was nice, waaaay nicer than I am. She’d forgive you. I’m not saying I’ll forgive you, Twi, but I know she’d never forgive me if I voted for you. So I guess I vote Trixie.”

That was it. There was no chance for Trixie now. She’d lost. “Are we done now?” I asked.

“Nope!” Monoponi said, waving a hoof scoldingly. “Dear sweet Sunset, you know the rules. Everyone votes! No matter what.”

Shrugging, Adagio lazily shifted her weight from one leg to the other, leaning forward and holding up a single hand. A dangerous, predatory sneer spread across her mouth as she wiggled her fingers. “Say goodbye, Trixie. I’ll laugh when you’re gone. Idiot.”

“Aw man,” Flash muttered, rubbing the back of his head. Unlike the rest of us, he didn’t seem too inclined to spill his feelings in front of a crowd. So, with a brief glance Twilight’s way, he waved a hand at Trixie and said, “Guess I vote Trixie too.”

A loud burst of fireworks in Trixie’s shade of blue exploded over the graph as Twilight’s side disappeared altogether. Monoponi clapped his hooves together in one more set of uncomfortable limb-bending applause. “Ahhh, don’t you just love the democratic process? Voting makes you feel so good inside. You’ve contributed! You’ve made your voice heard! And look at what you’ve done. Congratulations, Trixie, you’re the winner!” His horn lit and fired off a bolt into the ceiling.

I expected, then, to see a set of chains descend upon Trixie, and cart her away. I expected to watch her die, in some ironic, cruel fashion, entirely one hundred percent deserved. Chains descended, all right. But they didn’t attach to Trixie. Instead, the metal collar clamped onto Twilight’s neck, cutting off part of her air supply as it held her suspended on her toes, still at her podium.

“What the hell?!” Rainbow Dash cried, throwing up her hands in panic. “But we voted for Trixie!”

“I don’t understand!” Twilight gasped, struggling, clawing at the collar in a vain attempt to take it off.

Applejack threw down her hat, raising both fists ready to fight. “You let her go and you let her go now.

Scootaloo ran from her podium and leapt to Twilight’s assistance, trying to remove the collar. “Don’t worry, Twilight!” she shouted as she strained and pulled at the collar. “I’ll get you out of---woah!”

Monoponi wrapped Scootaloo up in his magic grip and threw her back into her podium. Scootaloo slammed into the wooden rail by her stomach, doubling over and falling to the floor, wheezing for air. “No interference!” he said.

“Damn you, Monoponi!” I shouted. “Let Twilight go! She didn’t win the vote! Trixie did!”

“Exactly,” Monoponi said, with a snicker.

We all fell quiet, save for Twilight’s choking struggles as she tried to stay conscious. “What?” I whispered. “But--”

“I said, whoever you voted for won! I didn’t say what they won!” Monoponi held up both forehooves to his mouth and extended his wings to their fullest. “Eyahahah ahahahahahahaaha! Trixie won the right to stay alive! Which means Twilight Sparkle’s the one who dies.”

“You planned this,” I realized. “You intended this from the start! That’s why you focused so much on Trixie in the footage! You wanted us to vote for Trixie, because you were always going to execute Twilight, weren’t you?! ”

“Guilty as charged,” Monoponi said, shrugging. “What can I say? I can’t let such a wonderful opportunity go to waste! Besides, her mystery was awful! No creativity at all! That alone earns her an execution. She'd have also earned one for nearly causing me to break the rules, so really, she deserves this three times over!” He leaned down, his mouth splitting open in a sharp-tooth grin. “And we have you to thank for it, Sunset! If you hadn’t insisted that the note-writer was the blackened, I might’ve been forced to waste this chance. You’d better say your goodbyes now, because I won’t give you looooong!”

I hopped over my podium, at Twilight’s side in an instant. “Twilight, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean--”

“No, no, it’s okay,” Twilight stammered through gasps of air. “You heard him. He was going to kill me anyway, sooner or later. I’m sorry I stopped trusting you. I never should’ve stopped trusting you.”

Before I could say anything else Flash barreled his way in, pushing past me. “Twilight!” he said, reaching out to hold her as tightly as he could. “Twilight, I--”

“Flash. Don’t blame yourself,” Twilight said, using one suspended hand to stroke his hair. “You did the right thing. It’s Monoponi’s sick game. You’re just playing by his rules.” Despite the difficulty with breathing, Twilight managed a smile. “I love you, you big lug.”

“Now then, I’ve prepared a very special punishment for Twilight Sparkle, the Ultimate Researcher!”

Flash, great messy tears in his eyes, reached his head up and planted his lips on Twilight’s. “I love you too.”

“Let’s give it everything we’ve got! Iiiiiiiiiit’s punishment time!”

With a flourish of his horn, Monoponi summoned up the big red button and slapped down on it with a forehoof.

Immediately, I leapt onto Flash and pulled him to the floor, just in time to avoid a second set of chains lancing through the air. Large iron manacles grabbed Twilight by her arms. The sets of chains shot off like a rocket, carting Twilight along with them through the far doors and out of sight, leaving behind her glasses. The walls lit up once more with the display:

GAME OVER

Twilight has been found guilty.

Time for the punishment!

The chains soared along a track, carrying Twilight through a strangely smooth corridor, unmarred by protrusions. The corridor narrowed as she hurtled through, until she barely fit through an opening at the end. The chains released her as she fell into a large, open planned room with a dome shaped ceiling bedecked with fake stars. Large tables were scattered everywhere, covered in a variety of stereotypical scientist equipment, such as beakers, vials, alembics, and more. Most of the vials and philters were full of glowing substances in a variety of colors, adding an eerie glow to the room.

But the centerpiece was a metal display, like a six-pointed star, or a spoked wheel, standing taller than Twilight. Four of the six spokes contained a set of manacles. Before Twilight could do more than stand and take in deep breaths of air, the floor underneath her jerked her forward like a conveyor belt, hurling her into the display. She was spun around to face outwards as the manacles gripped her wrists and ankles, securing her to the wheel. Metal arms came down from the ceiling and deposited six diamond shaped different crystals on the end of each spoke, colored red, yellow, pink, blue, green, and purple respectively, with the purple on the spoke at the top. Long, narrow tubes descended and attached to each crystal, pumping in glowing fluid of the same color as the crystal, stopping right before reaching the crystal itself thanks to a small seal between the crystal and tube.

Twilight tried to free herself from the manacles to no avail. A deep laugh echoed all around her, low, feminine, and oddly familiar as a shadow floated into view. It was dark, indistinct, with a slender waist and hair rising up to the ceiling. Two large wings extended out from the shadow’s back as a ghostly horn and fancy glasses appeared on its face. It let out another sinister laugh as it raised its hands, index fingers extended, ready to point.

UNLEASH THE MAGIC

Ultimate Researcher

Twilight Sparkle

Execution: Executed

The shadow pointed at the red crystal, the seal breaking. As the fluid surged into the crystal, it shined with a sickly inner light, like something once holy twisted into a force of darkness. A surge of crimson-colored electricity streamed across the spoked star, surging into Twilight’s muscles. Twilight screamed in agony as she thrashed, all her muscles engaging and disengaging without her control. Then, all at once, the shadow drew the energy from the crystal into itself, and it shattered, the tube falling off the wheel.

As the electricity ceased, the shadow pointed at the green crystal, unleashing the fluid. This time, a curtain of green energy swept over Twilight, bubbling and popping like acid. It burned like acid too, leaving scorch marks on her clothes and burns on her skin. Tears of pain streamed down her face as she bellowed, struggling to get away from it, only relaxing when the shadow absorbed it.

Unleashing yet another cackle of glee, the shadow pointed at two gems at once, breaking open the seals on the blue and pink gems. A puddle of water flowing like a living being slid around all over Twilight like some kind of slime, cutting off her air before bursting like a bubble, leaving her soaking wet. She barely had enough time to take a breath before a blast of cold air washed over her, so cold it froze much of the water covering her into ice, before breaking into a million little shards, leaving her streaked all over with lines of pink blood. One particular furrow cut right into her left eye, half-blinding her.

The shadow chortled like a maniac, doubling over in mirth as it managed to swirl a finger in the direction of the yellow gem. This one unleashed a cascade of hundreds of pebbles, peppering Twilight with the force of a BB gun on steroids, or like a blast of buckshot. As each individual pebble fell to the floor it disintegrated into a small swirl of yellow light that whisked its way into the shadow.

Welts and lesions rose from Twilight’s skin, like a splotchy case of chickenpox, coating every part of her bare skin. Twilight’s chest heaved as she breathed ragged, sharp breaths, each one causing her to wince, squeezing her one remaining eye shut on each breath in and opening it on each breath out. She weakly tugged at her restraints, no longer having the energy to struggle properly.

The shadow leaned back and stretched out its lithe body, motes of light swirling within it in the five colors it had absorbed so far. A laugh burbled up in its chest as it raised both hands open and out, cracking open the last gem, the purple one. Unlike the others, this one didn’t have an effect on Twilight. Instead the magic flowed directly into the shadow’s body, a purple wave of energy that, as it was absorbed, gave the shadow definition and life, surrounding the shadow in a purple glow before being sucked into her skin.

The shadow had taken on the appearance of Twilight Sparkle, like some sort of bizarre corrupted version. She was clad in a sleeveless lavender corset that showcased her cleavage and a short cut skirt opened at the front. Mulberry leather boots with slender heels and random holes cut out of them completed her outfit. Her hair danced like fire as it stood on end, one section colored black like midnight.

A spark of recognition gleamed in Twilight’s eyes, widening in fear as she screeched the words “Midnight Sparkle! I remember now--mmph!” A piece of metal popped out of the spoked wheel and clamped about her mouth, cutting off her power of speech.

It didn’t prevent her screams of panic as Midnight’s hands rose, glowing purple energy charging up in her palms. Twin beams of light lanced forth, penetrating Twilight’s stomach like a pair of knives, eliciting a large spurt of blood. The beams intensified, glowing brighter, and brighter as Twilight cried out in agony, smoke rising from her skin. Then her stomach burst into purple flames. She bellowed louder than ever as the flames swept forth and enveloped her in an inferno. She howled as the fire slowly consumed her, leaving dollops of melted fat and skin dropping to the floor, soon joined by charred fragments of bone. The flames burned until all that was left was a pile of ash.

Midnight Sparkle unleashed one final full-forced guffaw as she exploded into a million tiny sparkles of light, fading away into the ceiling.

As the displays winked off and the lights returned, Monoponi leapt up from his throne with a mighty cheer. “Ooooh yeah! Now that’s what I call an execution! Such pizazz. Such intricacy! Such magical wonder! Upupu, do you think she was mad, because I killed her with magic? Probably. But do I care? Nope! Ahahahahaha! Ooooh it felt so good. Even if she wasn’t the real one...”

I found a weeping Flash Sentry holding onto me like a lifeline. I allowed him to hold me, stroking his back as he shook with his sobs. It didn’t take long before my own tears joined his in wetting the ground. Damn it, Twilight, you didn’t deserve that. That was beyond sick.

“Why?” Scootaloo asked, falling to her knees. “Why did she have to die like that?!”

“That wasn’t an execution!” Rarity cried out, holding a hand to her mouth. “That was senseless torture!”

“It’s like, everytime, Ah think Ah’ve seen the worst he can do, and everytime, Ah’m wrong,” Applejack breathed.

“That was supposed to be Trixie, damn it!” Tiara shouted, shaking a fist at the illusionist.

Rainbow Dash let loose a fusillade of curses, kicking and screaming into her podium over the injustice of it all.

Adagio, horror stricken, managed to walk over to me and help pull Flash and myself to our feet. “Did you see how much magic he used for that?” she asked in a harsh whisper.

I looked up at her through my weepy eyes, sniffled, and wiped my face. “Not right now, Adagio. Later, okay?”

She grunted and bit her lower lip, then nodded. She wrapped an arm around my shoulder and held me, giving me moral support. Flash, still in the middle of crying, reached out to take her other arm. Adagio hissed, rolled her eyes, and allowed him to hold her too. “Don’t get used to this,” she grumbled.

“I won’t,” Flash said with a watery smile.

“Ahem!” Monoponi’s horn crackled with thunder, grabbing everyone’s attention. “If you’re all done blubbering and moaning and whining your usual pitiful post-execution tripe, we have another matter to attend to!”

My breath quickened as I locked eyes with Trixie. “Trixie’s punishment,” I said.

“Yes, precisely,” Monoponi replied with a toothy grin. His muzzle spread wider and wider with every passing second, revealing more of his jagged teeth. “I can’t tell you how much your Captain would love to put Trixie through her own special execution. Pain is an art form, you see, and I’d like to think I’m quite the artist!” His smile disappeared and he drooped, bowing his head. “Buuut I can’t do that. We won’t have enough passengers left if I do.”

Trixie, who’d stayed completely silent and unmoving throughout this whole affair, finally raised her head just long enough to ask, in a shaky, fearful voice, “W-w-what’re you going to do to me?”

“Oh, don’t you fret, mon cherie, I have just the thing for you.” Monoponi twirled on one hoof, popped into the air, then crash-landed right in front of Trixie. With a single spell he had her floating in air, spread-eagle fashion. “Now… hold. Still.

Monoponi’s horn lit, shaping his crimson magic into a sharp blade. With one mighty swoop the blade descended, lopping Trixie’s right leg off just below the hip. The leg landed on the floor with a loud splat, bleeding all over the place. Blood oozed from Trixie’s stump, dripping onto the floor in a spreading puddle of pink.

Trixie went slack-jawed in pure, utter horror, stammering little noises as she gaped at her now separated leg, before suddenly letting out an ear-splitting bellow of pain. Tears streamed from her eyes as she thrashed in Monoponi’s magic grip, screaming obscenities.

I felt nothing as I watched her suffer. Not vindication, not satisfaction… but neither did I feel sympathy or regret. I felt nothing. The emptiness of despair threatened to drag me down into its depths once again. The sorrow and regret I’d felt while watching Twilight’s execution vanished into that pit, along with my ability to think. All I could do was observe.

“Oooooh, poor Trixie, did it hurt when I did that?” Monoponi mocked, grinning cheekily. “It did, didn’t it? Ahahahaahaha!”

Trixie’s movements slowed, her face turning pale as her breathing sped up, rapid and shallow. Her screams dimmed into moans, mumblings as she continued to bleed out. Finally, as Trixie slumped into unconsciousness, Monoponi’s magic soaked into her stump, sealing it up. I recognized the healing spells he used to ensure she didn’t suffer infection or, presumably, too much blood. High level healing magic. Very high level, beyond most unicorns.

Once done, he slapped her across the face, hard, ordering, “Wakie wakie, Trixie!”

“Huh?” Trixie mumbled as her eyes fluttered open. “Did… am I dead?”

“I wish, but no, you’re very much alive,” Monoponi replied. He set her down onto the floor, letting her lean against her podium for support. Twin crutches popped into existence before him before he floated them to her. “You’re going to need these from now on. No more running around for you! Ahahaha! I sure hope this doesn’t mean the end of your magic career! Ahahahaha!”

“My what? I don’t… my leg!” Trixie screamed in panic, slapping both hands to her head. The act caused her to slip on her one remaining leg, and she just barely managed to grab the podium. She slipped and skidded on the floor before steadying herself. “You took my leg!”

Monoponi stuck his muzzle in her face. “Yes. I did. You want me to take an arm too?”

“N-n-n-n-no…” Trixie whined. I saw a trickle of wetness form its way down her one remaining leg, the acrid scent of ammonia filling the air.

“Then stop whining,” Monoponi said as he backed off. “You stole a life. You were voted as a blackened. You should feel lucky you’re not burning to death like Twilight did!”

Trixie shrank back, nodding like a bobblehead. She wisely didn’t respond otherwise.

“Hmph,” Rarity spoke up, her eyes flashing with anger. “She deserves far more, if you ask me.”

“She really does,” Tiara seconded, harrumphing as she crossed her arms. “But this’ll do for now.”

Rainbow Dash flipped Trixie off. “Psh. I’d’ve taken both her legs.”

Monoponi clapped his hooves for attention. “All right, that’s enough of you idiots. Time for you to vamoose! Skedaddle! Get outta here.” His horn lit as if to cast his teleport spell, then he hesitated. “Oh, and one more thing. I’m sure you’d all loooove to get some sweet, delicious vengeance on the magic chick over here, but I’m forbidding anything like that until tomorrow at the earliest! This trial was long enough as it was. I’m sick of listening to you morons babble on.” His horn lit and he vanished in a flash of light.

No one offered to help Trixie as we all made for the elevator. We all refused to look at her, to even acknowledge her. She managed to figure out her crutches after a couple of moments, and slowly carried herself over. As soon as she entered the elevator, the doors slammed shut and we ascended.

As the elevator rose, I moved closer to Flash. “Hey, are you going to be okay?” I asked him quietly.

“Okay?” Flash laughed a bitter, mirthless laugh. “No. Not really.” He saw the look in my eyes and added, “I’m not gonna hurt myself or anything, though. Don’t worry. I’m not stupid.” A black hatred took hold in his eyes as he squeezed his fist tight. “I’m gonna live. I won’t let Monoponi win.”

I nodded, and left the man alone.

Once the elevator reached the promenade, we all left in a hurry, except for Trixie, who hung back, leaning against the wall of the elevator for support. “Sunset,” she said, as I turned to leave.

Sighing in frustration, I met Adagio’s gaze, told her I’d catch up, then turned back to Trixie. “What?” I growled in a harsh tone.

“...I’m sorry,” Trixie mumbled.

Those two little words caused my blood to boil, anger once again crawling itself out of the pit of despair. “Sorry? You’re sorry?” I spat, every word coated in acid. “Pinkie Pie is dead because of you. Twilight is dead because of you. What the hell makes you think I’m interested in hearing your pathetic apology?”

“I…” Trixie looked away, sniffling as tears streamed down her face. “I just wanted to protect you. I was so scared of what Twilight said about Adagio, that I… I didn’t want to risk losing my best friend.”

I walked right up to her, roughly grabbed her chin, and then slapped her across the face. “You already have.” I spun on my heel and left her to her pathetic, pitiful crying.

I needed to get as far away from her as I could. I made for my cabin, stopping just long enough to grab a sandwich from one of the restaurants. I waited till I was in my cabin to take a bite, finding Adagio waiting for me, sitting on the bed.

“Hey,” she said with a wave as I sat down next to her.

I took a bite of my sandwich, not even tasting it as I chewed. Out the corner of my eye I saw Adagio open up an arm, so I nestled into her grip, leaning against her. I sighed as I took another bite of sandwich. “Damn her,” I muttered after a few moments.

“Trixie?” Adagio inquired. At my nod, she said, “I knew she’d pull something like that, sooner or later. She’s pathetic. She clung to you because you showed a bit of decency to her.” The siren scowled. “She’s probably going to die soon. And then someone else will get executed for it.”

“Probably,” I agreed with a sad sigh. “Maybe I should’ve listened to you. I thought Trixie was a decent person.” My mouth twisted up into a disgusted sneer. “I was completely wrong about that.”

“Hmph. At least you’re dropping her like the bad habit she is.”

I took another quiet bite of my sandwich. “By the way,” I said after I finished swallowing, “thank you for not giving into the motive. When Monoponi presented it, I was kinda worried.”

“Oh please,” Adagio scoffed. “That motive was tailor made to taunt us into falling for it. I saw the trap. I’m no fool.” She stroked a hand through my hair slowly with a small smile. “Maybe if I didn’t have you, I’d be tempted. But I’ve lived too long to fall for this pathetic little mind game.”

“Good,” I said, stuffing the last bite of sandwich into my mouth.

We spent a few moments in silence as I let Adagio quietly stroke my hair. It was quite the loving gesture, really. More so than she’d shown in the past. She’s learning. Good girl.

Adagio suddenly spoke up again. “Sunset, about the magic issue--”

I waved a hand dismissively. “No, I really don’t want to talk about that right now.” With another sigh, I rubbed my forehead, trying to ease a massive tension headache. I pulled out of Adagio’s embrace and laid down on the bed, kicking off my shoes. “I need to sleep.”

“All right,” Adagio allowed, nodding slowly. She removed her own shoes, then laid back to snuggle up next to me. “Mind if I join you?”

“Not at all,” I yawned. I relaxed into her embrace, and soon enough I’d fallen into a deep sleep. No dreams, no memories, just blackness. And as I fell asleep, I heard one last thing outside my window.

A crackle of thunder and a drizzle of rain.

Author's Note:

Why the early post? Because I can. :derpytongue2:

Poor, poor Twilight. :twilightoops: She was doomed from the moment she set foot in this story. From the very beginning, Twilight was always on my list of blackeneds. The means and reason changed depending upon the plans I ran through, but she was never going to walk out of this story alive.

Meanwhile, Trixie. I said several parts ago that she sees Sunset as a best friend/older sister, with a bit too much attachment. And it showed, in her actions here. She made a truly horrific mistake, and is paying for it, and will continue to pay for it. She's not getting off lightly. This is far from the end of her journey in this story, however.

I won't lie: I was laughing my booty off at how many people thought Trixie was going to be executed. Oh my lovely readers, how you please me so. :heart:

Next time: We check back in with Princess Twilight.

Oh and one final thing: if you've enjoyed this work, and want to support it and future works of mine, I do have a Ko-Fi account. Eventually I will be opening up commissions, too, so keep an eye out for that. :pinkiesmile:

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