• Published 25th Oct 2020
  • 19,485 Views, 2,533 Comments

A Witch in Broad Daylight - Epsilon-Delta

Rainbow Dash sets out to defeat the legendary witch Twilight Sparkle and collect the five hundred million bit bounty on her head. The one thing she wasn't counting on was Twilight being less evil than she expected.

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Witches 2: The Witchening Continues

Before heading out, Pinkie stopped at a payphone to call her boyfriend.

“Hey, Babe! Yeah, uh—” Pinkie frowned at what the pony on the other end said. “Yeah, I actually got some yikesy news for you. See, I’m thirteen years old.”

Pinkie nodded a few times at her boyfriend’s reaction.

“I know! Those numbers aren’t even close! Huh? Well, I don’t think it was illegal at the time, but I have no idea what is and isn’t legal right now so maybe we shouldn’t see each other for a little bit?” Pinkie listened for a moment. “So you’re worried I might be a thirteen-year-old police officer who wears makeup to make me look old and then trick senior citizens into sleeping with me so I can arrest them? I gotta admit that’s a brilliant plan. They’d arrest so many ponies!”

Pinkie frowned, then hung up the phone.

“He got scared and hung up!” She shrugged. “You know, I really have no idea what age group I’m supposed to date now. Anyway, now that we’ve saved the PBI some time, let's 23 skiddoo!”

Pinkie started towards the woods.

“But you don’t know where we’re going,” Dash reminded her.

“Oh right!” Pinkie stopped and did an about-face to look Dash eye to eye. “It’s just usually off in the woods, you know?”

Or she almost got there. Pinkie was noticeably shorter than Dash now. She had to push up on her hooves to get to eye level.

“I’m gonna have to do the cold reading method to get the answer out of you.” Pinkie moved her hooves in circles around Dash’s head slowly like she was caressing a crystal ball. “I’m getting something that starts with the letter A. Or maybe a B? Or it could be C?”

Pinkie went through the letters one by one, saying them all slowly with little ‘woo’ noises in between. Dash wasn’t sure if the sound effects were necessary.

Dash tried thinking of the letters that would help her. An L or a T or W would all be relevant.

“Jaaaay-kkaaaay-eelllll—" Pinkie clapped her hooves together! “Nailed it! But what monsters start with the letter L? Lycanthrope? Lamia? Luminous spider?”

Pinkie was totally on the wrong track, but she picked up on that and frowned.

Pinkie trotted away from Dash, pondering the riddle, trotting back and forth. A gust of wind blew, taking a few leaves off the tree. Dash wished she could say something, but it wouldn’t work.

Yet even without a single word, Pinkie’s eyes went straight to the leaves. She smiled with a sudden burst of realization.

“Oh! A leaf!” Pinkie snatched one of the falling leaves out of the air. “You need to find a leaf, right?!”

Pinkie really was good!

“Yeah! That’s exactly it!” Dash discovered that she had more freedom if Pinkie already knew the answer.

“Then here ya go!” Pinkie handed her the leaf. “Gee that was easy!”

“No, it’s—" Dash gagged.

“Two leaves?” Pinkie tilted her head. “Oh! Or maybe it’s a special leaf you’re looking for! Did the witch say it had to be a specific leaf or just any leaf?”

Dash honestly didn’t remember. She assumed it meant the former.

“Yeah, I think I got it now! The old needle in the haystack condition! Gotta find the special leaf.”

“I—" Dash wasn’t gagging. “Yes! I think I can tell you as long as you already know.”

“That’s how they usually go. Here!”

Pinkie took a deep breath, eyes closed, then exhaled slowly before pumping her hoof forward rapidly. A wave of psychic energy spread through the forest, bending the trees slightly like a one-second hurricane.

“It’s like echolocation. Just wait a tick.” Pinkie waited with her ears perked. “And— got it! This way! 23 skiddoo!”

Pinkie pointed in the direction of the leaf, Dash following her into the woods.

With Pinkie along for the ride, the forest became less intimidating. After that battle with the banshee Dash felt like this pony could take on anything. With her youth restored, Pinkie's power rivaled that of her prime. Little could stand in their way.

Heck, maybe her psychic companion could beat Twilight herself! Then they could split the fame and rewards fifty-fifty. Though on second thought, there was no way it would be that easy.

“You know, the more I think about it the more okay I am with being a teenager again,” Pinkie said. “Oh! You still got one more of those gummies, right?”

“What? You want to be eight and go on the kiddie rides?” Dash asked. “Or you think it’d be slightly less weird if your bae was sixty?”

“First of all, he’s already fifty. I’m like a cougar! Rawr!” Pinkie swiped her hoof in imitation of a claw. “But no, I was thinking if you take it then we can both be teenagers and go hang out at the mall or something! Go to a malt shop, listen to Smooth Note, talk about how dreamy he is! The curse can wait till later.”

“Okay, nopony listens to Smooth Note anymore and nopony goes to the mall. They all buy stuff through those phone catalogs. I don’t think they even make malt shops anymore.”

“Aw, that’s too bad.” Pinkie looked up to frown at the sky. “I wonder if I’ll suddenly like the young people’s music. I have noticed a drop in how judgemental I am about the new generation and their talking movies, pinballs machines, and gizmos. We could do whatever it is teenage girls do in the future.”

“Hey, let’s get this curse taken care of first?” Dash walked ahead of her. “This is kind of an important thing we’re doing.”

Dash was never gonna get anywhere in life by hanging out at some mall!

If she wanted ponies to care about her, she needed to accomplish something for once in her stupid life. Hanging out with Pinkie would only reveal what a loser Dash was to one of Equestria's heroes. Pinkie would have all these amazing stories to tell and Dash only really had that time she blew up a septic tank.

And, well the one story she couldn’t talk about yet.

“Oh! Determination!” Pinkie nodded. “I can tell there’s something you really want! So what are you in the adventurer game for? Are you the vengeance type? The love and justice type? Greedy? Power-hungry? Overly curious? Bored? Those are the main ones.”

“Heck, yeah I’m determined!” Dash broke out into her rehearsed, confident smile. “Slayer is the most important job. Society can’t even exist without us protecting it from all the dangerous magic and monsters in the world. I’m determined to be the best at whatever I do!”

Pinkie’s expression turned from a smile to a frown. That expression told Dash that she saw straight through Dash’s bravado. Thankfully, she didn’t press it and broke right back into a smile.

“Heh! You know, I was the same at your age. Or I guess I will be.”

These age jokes were already getting a little old.

They were nearing the spot where Twilight lived. Was the key leaf this close to her own house?

Now they were by the river again. Fog surrounded them, getting thicker as they went east, towards Twilight’s house.

Pinkie kept smiling and humming happily enough. Did she not sense that they were near the strongest monster on the planet or something?

“Hey, Pinkie. You don’t sense any danger around, do you?” Dash asked after struggling for a moment to find words that worked.

“Hm?” Pinkie scanned the nearby forest. “No, I don’t sense any danger about. Why?”

Maybe Twilight wasn’t home? Or went somewhere? Or did being a shut-in meant you weren’t dangerous?

“Look—” Dash couldn’t say it outright. “Just be ready to run away if we have to, okay?”

The fog got even thicker, too thick to see more than a foot ahead. They were close enough now that Dash started to suspect this fog might be Twilight’s doing. She knew they were close enough that wandering around here you were liable to bump into the house at any minute.

Dash’s body locked up. She couldn't get any farther than this.

“I can’t.” The curse forced Dash to sit. No matter how she struggled she couldn’t seem to move from this spot.

Pinkie nodded, understanding, and went forward into the fog alone. A few steps in and Pinkie vanished into the fog.

A second or two passed with Dash sitting alone in a sea of white. Then, without warning, Pinkie returned only from behind.

“Huh?!” Pinkie looked at Dash, surprised. “How did you get ahead of me?”

“I didn’t move,” said Dash. “I think you’re looping around or something.”

“Okay! It’s one of those fogs where you gotta go left then right then—” Pinkie shook her head. “I don’t have the patience to find the right order! I’m just gonna try and grab that leaf from here! We’re really close!”

Pinkie closed her eyes and put her forehooves together with just a small gap between them. She concentrated hard for a good minute before pulling on her target. Something flew out of the fog with enough force to part it briefly.

“Haha! Got it!” Pinkie held the leaf up.

Dash’s body returned control to her and she stood up! That was the right leaf!

“Pinkie, I found Twilight Sparkle!” Dash blurted out as fast as she could.

“What?!” Pinkie turned to her.

At the same time, the fog began to dissipate. Twilight’s house came back into view in its clearing. Twilight was right here on her lawn, messing around with the pumpkins again. She looked up at the two, surprised.

“Pinkie she’s right there!” Dash pointed at her. “That’s Twilight Sparkle!”

“What?” Pinkie tilted her head.

“What?” Twilight took a step back. “You’re back already? It hasn’t even been a day!”

“Heh!” Dash closed one eye and pointed at Twilight. “Your first curse didn’t stop me so why would the second? No curse can stop the legendary Rainbow Dash!”

“I admit when it comes to breaking curses, you’re above average.” Twilight grabbed the brim of her hat and lowered it slightly. “But—”

Above average?! No one had ever called Dash above average before! Dash had to stop herself from smiling too wide! She struggled to hate Twilight.

“Haha! Yeah, well you know.” Dash blushed. “I could tell you the whole story if you want!”

Twilight groaned.

“Look, even if you can come back here why would you?” Twilight asked. “You’re not going to defeat me.”

“This won’t go like last time, because now I’m not alone!” Dash pointed at Twilight. “Go get her, Pinkie!”

“What? You brought some kid to fight me?” Twilight trotted up to Pinkie, looking down at her.

“Whoa, hey! I don’t know what’s going on here.” Pinkie waved her hooves. “This is seriously Twilight Sparkle?! Like the source of all witchcraft?!”

“Depends. If I say I'm not will you leave?” Twilight asked.

“But what about that curse?” Pinkie asked. “That contrived one that makes it so you can’t find her?”

“I broke the curse.” Dash shrugged. “Apparently, that’s the one thing I’m good at. See, I used a second calendar to—”

“Yeah, yeah!” Twilight dismissed her brilliant plan. “But how did you find that leaf so fast? I was sure right you'd never check right next to my house, especially since the curse stops you from going there.”

“Oh, I just found it with my ESP,” said Pinkie.

“That shouldn’t be possible! The level of psychic perception needed for that is outside the bounds of what a pony is capable of.”

“Oh, it’s because of pollution, actually,” said Pinkie. “See, super-radiation used to only come from meteors but then they invented toxic waste. Super-radiation makes ghosts stronger, meaning it makes psychics more common and more powerful too!”

“I have noticed a rise in the ambient background levels of super-radiation over the past hundred years,” Twilight noted. "Though it's also been decreasing recently."

“Oh, yeah. It's mostly the Toxco Corporation's fault. The witch Spatial Tear specifically founded it to try and cause enough pollution to make civilization collapse! They ended up dumping so much toxic waste into the ocean and so much smog into the air that Equestria declared war on the city-state of Manehattan and blew the whole corporation up in self-defense!"

“Yeah,” Dash added. “And now we’ve swung so hard the other way that failure to recycle can land you in prison. Happened to my dad.”

“If you were there, you’d appreciate zero-tolerance environmentalism,” Pinkie assured her. "When I was a kid, cities were covered in smog every day."

Twilight listened to this with her eyes closed, tapping her hoof, struggling to understand what they were walking about.

“City-state? Corporation? War? Recycling?” Twilight’s hoof taps became increasingly frustrated. “I didn’t get like ninety percent of that.”

“You don’t get recycling?” Pinkie gasped. “I know it’s not effective for paper, but recycling aluminum is very important! You see—”

“Guys, are we really going to talk about the efficacy of recycling?” Dash sighed.

“You’re right, maybe that can wait.” Pinkie pointed at Twilight. “Twilight Sparkle! You’re accused of unleashing untold terror into the world! How do you plead, buster?!”

“This again?” Twilight grumbled. “You’re the ones unleashing things on yourselves. We’ve already been through this.”'

“Yeah! But clearly you’re not getting rid of us that easy” Dash stepped forward. “I know you can get rid of the curse of undeath so how about this logic bomb? Getting rid of the curse would take you two months whereas we’ll continue to hound you forever and ever if you don’t do it. You’ll save more time in the long run, right?”

“Man, you ponies really are annoying.” Twilight tapped her hoof impatiently. “Maybe you’re right. I’d have to do the math. Though then again, there’s no guarantee you would actually leave me alone afterward.”

Twilight waved them away, dismissing the idea again.

“But what about the millions of ponies you could help?” Pinkie asked. “I know you’re an ancient evil, but do you really not care about them at all?”

“Millions?” Twilight looked skeptical of that. “You’re claiming there are millions of ponies? And you expect me to believe that?”

“Actually, it’s over a billion now,” said Pinkie. “How many did you think there were?”

“Like a couple hundred, maybe?” Twilight shrugged. “How big can that town be?”

“There’s more than one town, you know,” said Dash.

“There is?” Twilight’s ears twitched. “But wouldn’t it make more sense for there to be just one?”

“You just said you can’t fit a billion in one town, right?” Dash asked.

Twilight put a hoof on her chin, seriously considering this.

“What? Have you never been to a town before?” Dash asked, briefly surprised. “Actually, that makes perfect sense with everything else you’ve said.”

“You’ve seriously never been outside the forest then?” Pinkie gasped and ran forward, clasping a confused Twilight’s forehooves, immediately forgetting their mission. “But then there’s so much I could show you! You gotta come partying with me right now! I’ll take you to town, though we might need a fake mustache and a new hat to throw everypony off.”

“Go to— the town?” Twilight mouthed the words, finding them incomprehensible.

“Yeah! You know, you don’t seem completely evil to me. I bet you’re just unaware of all the bad stuff that happened because of the things you made. How about you come back to town with us? I bet seeing it all will melt your icy heart and then you’ll want to fix everything!”

Twilight’s ears pinned against the side of her head. She lowered the brim of her hat and looked away, nervous. Seeing Twilight afraid on any level felt like watching the laws of physics being violated.

“I can’t do that.” Twilight glared harshly at a nearby rock.

“Why not?” Pinkie lowered her head to block Twilight’s view of the ground.

“You people are my enemy! That’s why you came here, right?”

“Well it’s never too late to try new things or change your ways.” Pinkie jumped up to Twilight’s side. “I thought it was too late to eat tons of candy and soda because of diabetes and heart problems, but then I magically became young again! As long as you live in a whimsical world filled with multiple sources of improbability it’s never too late for anything!”

“I have lots of important things to do!” Twilight pressed her hat down as hard as she could. “I can’t waste my time with—”

Twilight became less tense, her nervousness melting.

“Wait.” Twilight realized something and become more serious. Her ears pinned back as she glared at Dash while asking her question to Pinkie. “You used to be older?

“Yeah! Until just this morning I was an old pony! Rainbow Dash helped me become young again!”

Uh oh!

“Hold on a second.” Twilight’s eyes narrowed. “How exactly did you become young again?”

Uh oh!

Dash flew over to be in Pinkie’s sight but not Twilight’s. She shook her head and ran a hoof across her throat, but it was already too late.

“Oh! I ate some magical gummies that make you younger! They were yellow but tasted like strawberry which was kind of weird.”

Twilight slowly turned around to Rainbow Dash, her look becoming a glare.

“Yeah! Each one makes you five years younger! Isn’t that great? Hey, where did you find those anyway, Dash?”

“Yes! Where did you find those, ‘Rainbow Dash’? Because I had a bottle of those I can’t find!”

“I mean—” Dash fake coughed. “I may have—”

“Do you have any idea how hard it is to make those? Well actually it only takes a few minutes, but still!” Twilight pointed an accusing hoof at Dash. “You come up to me telling me how horrible it is ponies steal my stuff and then you proceed to steal my stuff! Ponies like you are why I never go outside!”

“Hey! I left you one!” Dash took out the jar. “See? And I stole it for a good cause!”

“No! This conversation is over! I don’t trust thieves!” Twilight’s horn began to glow. “Curses clearly aren’t enough so maybe I’ll have to turn you both into stone!”

“Whoop!” Pinkie jumped back, lowering her stance into a combat position. “Maybe we shouldn’t have stolen stuff from the invincible witch?”

“In my defense, you’d be dead if I hadn’t done that,” Dash pointed out.

“Good point!” Pinkie nodded.

Magic chains appeared around Pinkie and Dash, closing in on both. Pinkie reacted immediately, blowing the chains apart into individual links the second they appeared.

“Hey! I didn’t steal anything from you!” Pinkie called out at Twilight. “What are you angry at me for?”

“No! I’m convinced no one from that town can be trusted! All of you are liars and thieves! I bet you’re lying about there being a billion ponies!”

“I can pay you for the gummies!”

“I’m already trying to make you pay!”

“Alright! Then I guess I have no choice but to get serious!” Pinkie’s eyes started to glow. “Maybe if I’m lucky your powers have just been exaggerated!”

Twilight shot another chain lightning spell at Pinkie. Pinkie narrowly dodged, rolling to one side. The bolt hit a tree, splintering it, then bounced back at Pinkie. Pinkie used her psychokinesis to pull herself out of the way of this one too.

The electricity bounced from tree to tree, exploding all of them as it redirected itself at Pinkie time and time again. Pinkie must have dodged a hundred lightning strikes in a couple of seconds.

Finally, Pinkie got an opening and punched the oncoming lightning with a hoof that glowed with psychic energy. One of her psycho waves erupted from her hoof, dissipating the bolt.

“Okay! I can’t possibly keep up with this!” Dash ran behind a rock and loaded her musket. “But I’ll take a cheap shot at her if one opens up!”

“Good idea!” Pinkie called after her. “I can’t hold back for this.”

“You actually are fairly decent,” Twilight admitted. “But I can already tell you won’t win. If you give up now, I’ll just turn you to stone for two years and let you go.”

“I’m not giving up that easily!”

Twilight tapped her hoof and a jagged pillar of rock erupted from the ground beneath Pinkie. Pinkie may very well have been impaled had she clearly not seen it coming and sidestepped at the exact right second.

As she did, Pinkie created a psionic shield for something else she saw coming. The pillar exploded shortly after, sending jagged rocks flying in every direction, but Pinkie was unharmed.

Pinkie swirled the debris around her, then began shooting small rocks forward at Twilight. Each stone shot forth so fast they might as well have been musket balls. The rocks blew holes in the trees and cracked larger stones nearby.

Twilight created a barrier that the makeshift bullets simply bounced off.

“Ding!” Pinkie reached into her bag of chance and pulled out a jar of nails.

She threw these into the air then fired them at Mach speeds. Clearly, these were going to hit a lot harder.

Twilight dropped the barrier and cast another spell instead. Every nail that came near Twilight turned into butterflies that instantly lost all their momentum.

“Okay!” Pinkie reached into her bag again. “Well if nails turn to butterflies then maybe butterflies turn into nails!”

Pinkie pulled out a jar with maybe five butterflies in it and threw it at Twilight. The jar crashed at Twilight’s feet, allowing them to harmlessly float around her.

“Aw. Well it was worth a shot, right?” Pinkie asked.

“Hardly.” Twilight cast another spell. A rush of water swept forward, completely covering Pinkie and all the nearby trees.

Another spell froze it all instantly, trapping Pinkie under twenty feet of solid ice.

It didn’t pin her for long. The ice trembled, then shattered from Pinkie’s psychokinetic force. Pinkie jumped up out of the hole she just created.

“Trapped under the ice?” Pinkie rubbed her head. “Okay, I know you can’t possibly be expected to know the significance of that, but it was still a low blow! I’m going all in!”

Pinkie backflipped, then used her psychic energy to boost a jump that sent her above the treetops. She held her forehooves over her head, blue psychic energy swirling around to form a spirit bomb once again.

Only this time it grew far larger than it had in the theater. The ball swelled to become four times bigger than Pinkie herself!

“Spirit bomb max power!” Pinkie shouted in midair.

She lifted one hoof and a ball of pure energy appeared over her head. The air swirled around and the ground shook yet the ball grew bigger and brighter. Twilight took this attack more seriously and lowered her head, horn ready and beginning to glow with a mystic power.

“This is so awesome!” Dash cheered from behind her rock. “The ultimate duel between psychic powers and magic powers! Though I guess those are kind of the same thing.”

“Whoa!” Pinkie suddenly dismissed her sphere of power and dropped back to the ground. “Those are not the same thing, Dashie!”

“Yeah. Psychic powers and magic powers are completely different,” said Twilight.

“They’re not even kind of similar!” Pinkie nodded in agreement.

“Psychic powers are generated entirely by the pony using them whereas magical powers work by distorting the magical energies that permeate all things,” Twilight explained.

“The things you do with them are completely different too!” Pinkie continued the objection. “Like you can’t do curses with psychic abilities and you can’t punch ghosts with magic.”

“Even things that look superficially similar, like levitation and shields, have entirely different kinetic properties,” Twilight went on. “The principle of energy transference only really comes into account when magic is involved.”

Dash looked back and forth between the tag-team lecturers.

“Look, can’t you just go back to shooting lasers at each other?!” Dash flailed her forehooves in the air. “That was awesome! I don’t care how this stuff works I just want to see it be cool!”

Pinkie and Twilight glanced at one another as if to doubt that.

“Alright, fine.” Twilight tipped her hat to Pinkie. “I admit I’ve never faced an opponent as strong as you are so I’m going to start fighting you for real. You’re the first pony I’ve ever used one hundred percent of my strength against. You should feel honored.”

Twilight’s horn glowed, but it was different this time! It wasn’t just her horn, but her entire body radiated a darker purple light than before, small bolts of lightning rippled across her magic field.

“Whoa! Do we really have to skip fifty percent?!” Pinkie readied a psychic shield. “I’d be honored with just fifty percent!”

Hurricane-force winds began blowing towards Twilight from all directions. Pinkie’s shield kept her stable, but Dash struggled to keep from being thrown into the air. She needed to grab onto a huge rock for dear life, even that didn’t look stable.

All of this went into creating a small ball of wind, like a concentrated, miniature hurricane, that swirled around just in front of Twilight. The air remained still for a moment, then Twilight threw the ball at Pinkie Pie.

On impact, it sounded like a bomb going off. The ground beneath her shattered, sending out rips in every direction. Entire trees were uprooted and thrown hundreds of feet into the air.

Amazingly, Pinkie managed to hold her place for a good two seconds before being thrown off out of sight, possibly into the stratosphere. The clouds parted as she flew past them.

“Blarg!” Pinkie screamed as she vanished from sight.

Even on the sidelines, the collateral damage crushed Dash. The secondary wind sent her, along with huge chunks of earth and trees, flying. Debris pelted Dash as she flew back, landing hard several yards away.

In the wake of Twilight’s attack was a crater where Pinkie stood. For what must have been four hundred feet in front of the unicorn, nothing but dirt and a deep hole where the ground had been ripped to shreds remained.

Immense pain shot through Dash's body! This was far from the first time she’d broken a bone, so she knew the sensation. One of her ribs, one of her wings and two of her legs were all broken. She struggled to even get up and look around.

“Huh.” Twilight looked down at her work, barely interested. “I guess that workout helped. It’s thirty percent bigger than last time.”

Twilight cast a second spell; debris flew back into the crater to refill it. Then Twilight tapped her hoof on the dirt and plant life grew back rapidly. The ground was a bit of an overgrown mess, but the scar on the land was gone.

Then the witch started trotting over to Dash.

This wasn’t good! Twilight had just defeated Dash without even attacking her directly! Dash had to do something!

She looked around for her bag, but all her things, including the musket, had been crushed under a rock by the blast.

Twilight stood over Dash with a nervous frown. She closed her eyes and let out a frustrated sigh, resolved towards her next step. Was Twilight going to destroy her this time?

She cast a spell and a bottle of a faintly green liquid appeared in front of her.

"Do you have any idea how hard healing magic is?" Twilight grumbled. "A potion like this takes thirty-seven years to ferment, you know."

With little ceremony, Twilight splashed the potion over Dash. The faint green turned bright, then vanished. And it took the pain along with it. Dash stood up and flexed her legs and wings.

"You. You healed me?" Dash asked.

Twilight muttered something.

"You just said that thing was super hard to make too."

“I didn’t mean to hurt you that badly!" Twilight looked away. “I just want you gone. Don't keep trying this. I don't have a lot of those. But now what am I going to do?”

Now that she thought about it, for a second time Twilight spared Dash, even after Dash had stolen from her. She doubted that spell killed Pinkie either. Likely it had only been intended to send Pinkie far away. For an ancient evil, Twilight was immensely reluctant to hurt anyone.

“I don’t get you,” said Dash. “You say you don’t care about other people suffering but then you can’t seriously hurt me or watch me suffer.”

“Well, I don’t get you saying you don’t want ponies taking my things and then taking my things!”

“Okay, look I’m sorry about stealing the thing. I thought I was helping. I understand if you never forgive me or whatever but everypony else—”

“No! Look, I’ve tried the whole ‘helping ponies’ thing before. Believe me when I say it doesn’t work.” Twilight put her hat back on. “My powers can’t help anypony. They don’t make ponies happy and no one ever appreciates it.”

“What gives you that idea?” Dash asked. “If you got rid of the zombies I’d be elated!”

“Yeah, for five seconds. Then you’d ask me for something else.” Twilight shook her head. “The only thing giving something to a pony does is make them want more. When they know I have the sort of powers I do, they just demand more and more from me. They never get satisfied and they never care about anypony but themselves and what they can get out of me. Why would I waste my time ‘helping’ ponies like that when I could be studying magic?”

Twilight looked down at the ground.

“You said yourself they’ve done nothing but harm,” said Twilight. “I don’t even disagree with you. That’s part of why I’m trying to lock myself away here where I belong.”

Twilight sulked back towards her house.

“Hey.” Dash stepped forward.

Twilight spun around and shoved Dash backward with her magic.

“I said no! You’re good at breaking curses, but you ponies lack sheer power,” said Twilight. “So try getting through this!”

Twilight’s house became surrounded by a magic barrier, then that one became surrounded by a psionic barrier, then a barrier of fire, then a barrier of electricity. Shields kept appearing one over another, maybe twenty in all.

The final shield glowed a bright white light. Just standing next to it, Dash felt her hair standing on end from some static effect. There no doubt remained in her mind that this was the strongest barrier Dash had ever encountered in her life.

One final layer appeared, a simple illusion covering up the whole thing so that a pony standing nearby would just see an empty forest, sans Twilight’s house.

“Yeah? Don’t think being completely unbeatable means you can beat me!” Dash shouted out into the forest! “Rainbow Dash never surrenders!”

Rainbow Dash looked around, only silence and trees surrounding her.

“Though sometimes she doesn’t have any idea what to do next.” Dash tapped her hoof impatiently.

Pinkie Pie fell out of the sky and landed hard next to Dash. Bruises covered the teenage and she bled slightly in a few places. But overall, she wasn’t too badly damaged by the attack. She got up immediately after landing and struck a pose.

“Don’t worry! Still alive!” Pinkie Pie trotted in place. “But boy was that one heck of a doozy! Oo! What’s this?”

Pinkie noticed the invisible barrier straight away. She tried poking it, only to be blown back by the shock.

“Yeah, there’s like twenty more barriers after that one too,” said Dash. “Twilight kind of freaked out and locked herself in there.”

“Hm.” Pinkie’s eyes glowed. She sent a wave of psychic energy at the first barrier, but it simply curved around. “You know, I’m not a hundred percent sure I can take her.”

“But now what do we do?” Dash asked, tapping the barrier only to get blown back. “Ouch. Talking to her almost worked. But we can’t do that again with this shield here.”

“I can tell you right now this shield is one heck of a doozy too.” Pinkie kept looking it over.

“We gotta go get the elite four, right?” Dash asked. “It’d take one of them to break this thing down and they’re our only hope of fighting Twilight if it goes there again. Do you think all of them together could defeat Twilight?”

“Maybe.” Pinkie folded her forelegs and frown. “But it ain’t gonna happen. I don’t wanna burst your bubble, but the elite four are just the ponies with the highest kill count. We don’t have brunch together or go on picnics. In fact, the current four hate each other’s guts! They’d only work together if it was literally the end of the world. Honestly, if we told them they’d probably try to take each other out first.”

“Well we can still get one of them to help us, can’t we?” Dash shrugged. “If that's the case, it'd have to be Starlight Glimmer. She's the strongest cause she's the only pony who's ever beat a witch one-on-one, yeah? And between her and all your psychic buddies we might have a chance."

“That is true.” Pinkie thought about it. “Starlight creeps me out, though. I'd rather go with Sunset or Nailbat. Hm. Actually, you know what?! I had a lazier idea!”

“I mean, the laziest idea is usually the best,” Dash admitted.

“So like— getting the elite four together would be the only legit way we could ever beat Twilight through sheer force.”

“So we sing them a song about how great friendship is?”

“No, I already tried that. They stopped answering my calls. My point is we can’t beat her with brute force. We gotta resort to shenanigans. Some ponies can do stuff none of the elite four can, they’re just all banished from society and stuff. We gotta go find a mad scientist. They’re the best at whacky hijinks and Twilight seems to have a huge technology blindside.”

“Wait, wait. A mad scientist?” Dash stopped Pinkie. “Isn’t it illegal to get help from those guys?"

“Nothing’s illegal if you have a good lawyer!” Pinkie promised. “You can borrow mine if we get caught. Come on!”

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