• Published 26th Oct 2012
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Simulacrum - OrphiusOlyandra



Twilight is dying due to using so much magic. Now she has to save Celestia from an illness

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Chapter 4

10/16/359

To think the construction of an amplification matrix would take such a long time. There were so many failures, but each one was a lesson in and of itself, and I learnt from them. The Elements were far more powerful than I expected and more than once all my hard work was undone by an explosion thanks to an accidental overload of the system. However, it is my belief that this time I have finally constructed something that will work. With a bit of luck, I will hopefully finally obtain a full mutation event. Even as I type this, the experiment is running in the background with Serenity supervising it.

Success!

While the results are far from perfect, I have finally achieved a total mutation event. While some bases are obviously mutated and some chromosome segments lost, it is now a mere matter of mutating some viruses to act as vectors and simply transferring my own DNA over in order to fix up sections. It only took over three hundred years, but I am closer than ever to my goal.


Time Till Death: Three days, eighteen hours, one minute

Dash paced nervously outside her old bedroom while Spitfire just sat there with her head in her hooves, snoring softly as she dozed the night away. With a frustrated snarl, the cyan pegasus bucked the thin air before throwing a series of quick jabs and kicks. What in the world was going on in there!? Twilight woke up half an hour ago – Dash was certain she had heard Twi's voice. But every single bucking time she went to go in, she was immediately shut out. Twi even threw a pot at her! Just as Dash spun around to buck the air once more, the door clicked open.

"Twilight!" Dash slammed into the door as Eurissa closed it behind her.

"I see you're still as zippy as ever," remarked the gryphoness with a chuckle. "But please, she is sleeping, her body needs to recover."

"So what's wrong doc?" yawned Spitfire as she cracked her wings and neck. "What's going on with Twilight?"

"It is... complicated." Eurissa ran a claw through the feathers on her head. "From what I can tell, she's lost sensation in her hooves and her body is very badly worn down. I think it's the result of multiple different things all acting together to cause her current situation."

"What do you mean?" Dashed gazed at the door with a worried expression on her face.

"Using too much magic tends to give headaches and from what you've told me about her magic usage these past couple of days, there is little doubt in my mind that's what her pain medication was for. But, pain is a way of the body telling us to slow down and Twilight did not heed her body's advice." Eurissa sat down and poured herself a glass of wine. "And then she's been running a lot and with the pain medication, I wouldn't be surprised if she injured herself without realizing. Throw in the fact that you've been travelling in the cold and sleeping without any covers, she might have gotten some parasite or gotten a bad cold. Has she been sleeping at all? Because if she hasn't been getting enough rest, then that would compromise her immune system further. I've done what I can, but all I can really recommend is for her to get some much needed rest."

The two pegasi exchanged a look.

"Other than that, there's not much I can do. Don't worry, I will be brewing up some potions to help dull the pain and hopefully flush out the more common parasites, but that's about it." Eurissa threw her head back and emptied the glass in one quick motion before shuddering. "If it wasn't because this is the only alcohol around, I would never have drunk it. Bah, stupid bars being closed. Night all."

And with those words, she leapt out the window.

"Is she always so..." Spitfire made a circular motion with her hoof as she tried to come up with the right word.

"Yeah, she is," replied Dash with a shrug. "You get used to it. Good luck trying to get anything out of her when she doesn't want to tell you though, she's got a mean poker face."

"Of course." Spitfire curled back into a ball on the coach. "Now I'm gonna go back to sleep. Wake me up when Twilight wakes up or in three hours, whichever happens first. I suggest you do the same, after all, we need our rest."

Dash paused and cocked an eyebrow at the sleeping mare. On one hoof, Spitfire wasn't yelling which was always a bonus, but on the other hoof, she also hadn't begun the interrogation. Torn between asking Spitfire what was wrong and sneaking away while she was still alive, a knock on the door made the decision for Dash.

"Lady Raidi-"

"It's Rainbow Dash.”

"My mistake Lady Dash, but there is a gryphon who wishes to see you. Would now be a good time? I believe her name is Gilda."

"You're certain about that?" At his nod, Dash shoved past and immediately began making her way down. "Tell her to meet me on the balcony. Don't worry, she'll know which one I'm referring to."

"As you command Lady Ra- Dash. "If the male's bow was mocking, Rainbow didn’t notice in her rush to glide down to the level below. With a buck, the double doors slammed open and she stepped into the cool night air.

"Gilda."

"Dash."

"How'd you know we were here?" Not once did the two move from the positions opposite one another.

"I've been here for a while, it was the only place I got get a decent job," she replied with a shrug.

Dash frowned.

"And don't even think about telling me you were worried. If you were, you wouldn't have tossed your best and oldest friend aside like a useless doll." She yawned and for the first time, Dash noticed just how thin and fragile she looked. "I don't need your pity or your concern."

"Why are you here?"

"I want my life back." Gilda looked Dash straight in the eye and a shiver ran down her spine. It was time like these that reminded her that her close friend was a predator. "I still haven't forgiven you, but my life is shit. Sticking with you is probably a better choice in the long run. You have pull with the high up's in Equestria. Plus, if you're here secretly then something must be up so if I help out then you owe me."

Dash sighed, but nodded, "Fine then. As soon as we get back Equestria I'll see if I can get something lined up for you. Don't you want to know what we're doing first?"

"Does it matter? You asked me to come along to begin with, so you must have thought I could handle it. It's not like you're going into the Crystal Desert or anything." There was a pause as Dash smiled awkwardly. "You are, aren't you? Fuck, you ponies are crazy. Can I at least get some sleep and food before we leave?"

"Sure," shrugged Dash. "Come on, might as well get you settled in and introduce you to Spitfire. I just know she's going to throw a tantrum over this."

"Over what?" as if on cue, an all too familiar and irritated voice came from behind them.

"This is Gilda and she's joining us," commented Dash.

"What!?"

"Oh shut up, this is my decision and I'm in charge of this mission," growled the cyan pegasus.

"Since when?" The two pegasi were face-to-face, foreheads pressed together as they fought for dominance. "This involves Celestia more so than Princess Luna."

"You're emotionally compromised," replied Dash with a low snarl. "You taught me that, remember? If the commanding officer is emotionally compromised, it is up to the second in command to assume leadership, using force if necessary. Out of the three of us, I'm the least compromised in this situation, so I am the leader."

Spitfire's mouth open and closed multiple times before she backed off with drooping wings and hanging head. No words were spoken as dragged herself back up the stairs into Dash's bedroom. Though the Shadowbolt took a step forward, but Gilda's claw on her shoulder stopped her.

"She obviously needs some time alone. Trust me on this, alright?"

"Al-Alright..." With one last lingering look on Spitfire's retreating figure, Dash sighed. "So, about that meal."

"Now you're talking!"


Time Till Death: Three days, sixteen hours, twelve minutes

The first thing I was aware of was small buzzing sound in the back of my head. It was annoying and made it difficult to think, but it was better than a pounding headache. With a small groan, I rolled onto my side and promptly threw up into a bucket.

"I see you're feeling better." Looking up, I could make out the blurry shape of a blue blob. "You really worried us, egghead."

With a sickly smile, I threw up yet again before collapsing back into the bed. "I feel as though I'm dying."

"Yeah well, you looked like you were dying." My eyes snapped up to the gryphon leaning against the door and I was immediately on my hooves, a dozen different spells jumping to mind. To my surprise, Dash was immediately between the two of us with her arms outstretched.

"It's fine Twi. Just relax, we're safe here."

I examined Dash's face closely and let my magic probe her for any signs of illusions or mind-altering magic. When I found none, I settled back down, and nodded.

"Wait, you're just going to trust her so easily?" grumbled Spitfire. "She's the freaking daughter of a gryphon noble! For all we know, she's secretly working with them or something."

I rolled my eyes and fixed Spitfire with my Archmage glare. "And she's also the Bearer of Loyalty. I highly doubt she'll betray Equestria in such a manner. Now, can somepony please tell me what is going on?"

The three exchanged a look, but in the end it was Dash who spoke up, "You woke up in the middle of the night whimpering in pain and coughing up blood." Her eyes darted down. "And now puking up blood as well. We didn't know what to do and you'd run out of pain medication so I brought you here for Eurissa to look at. She had to pump you full of pain medication before you fell asleep."

"And that's not an exaggeration," Gilda looked like she was rather proud. "That was some strong stuff and you took to it like a champ. Remind me to never get into a drinking competition with you."

"Gilda," snapped Dash.

"Hey, I'm just saying," she replied with a shrug. "Now, are we going or what? Thought you were on a deadline or something."

"Gilda..." I tiled my head to the side, trying to figure out where I had heard that name before. With a shrug, I turned my attention back to Dash. "So she's joining us on this mission?"

"Yep."

"Does she-"

"Nope,” replied Dash and out the corner of my I saw Spitfire mutter something under her breath before turning away. "But I owe her a favor and she can help out since she was born here."

Nodding, I climbed out of bed and swayed unsteadily on my hooves. Dash took a step forward, but I merely shook my head and pushed her back. Though my knees threatened to buckle and my entire body burned, I stayed on my hooves and began stretching my sore muscles. A quick glance out the window told me it was still night, and trotting up to the window, I looked up at the night sky. With the wind billowing through my mane, I gazed out at the Silverdale Ranges and their snow covered tips.

"We're leaving," I said as I tapped a hoof against my head. Absolutely no sensation, it seemed things were degrading faster than I expected. "We'll run to the base of the mountains and then I'll teleport us straight to the other side."

"She's joking. Tell me she's fucking joking," said Gilda. "Listen here, I don't care how powerful you are, but there's no bloody way a unicorn like you will be able to teleport across the mountain range, let alone carry others with you. That's just insane."

I couldn't help myself; I burst out laughing as though it was the most hilarious thing I had ever heard. Truth be told, it probably was. After all, what else do you call a mare that was deliberately, slowly killing herself? Maybe I wasn't Pinkie's brand of insane or Discord's, but I was still insane.

"Insane?" I managed to choke out between chuckles. "Last year's Grand Galloping Gala."

At that both Dash and Spitfire broke out into laughter. Well, Spitfire chuckled and Dash was on the ground, rolling around while clutching her stomach. All the while, Gilda just stood there looking at me curiously.

"O...kay...?" With a shrug of her shoulders, the gryphoness tossed my backpack at me. "I thought you said we should get going."

At the tinkering from within, I opened up my bag and peered inside. Pulling out a vial of red liquid, I held it up to the light and swirled it around.

"Oh that? That's your new medication." Dash slowly crawled back onto her hooves. "It'll probably taste like crap, but a mouthful should do the trick. Highly durable glass too, so it shouldn't smash at all."

“Oh… right…” Uncorking it, I took a large mouthful and fought back the urge to throw up. Dash’s cooking tasted better than this. “Time for us to go then.”

“Dude, did you just see that?” Gilda had a shocked expression on her face. “Does she lack taste buds or something?”

Dash could only stare at me wide eyed as though I had grown a pair of wings or something. Instead of walking towards the door, I simply threw open the window and climbed onto the ledge. I grinned back at them before jumping out, only to land on the balcony below. Momentum carried me up and over the railing, and in a flash, Dash was there, carrying us both to the ground. Instead of yelling at me though, we merely shared an adrenaline fueled grin and as soon as my hooves were back on the ground we were off again. Each step was like another hammer blow as I forced my sore body to move despite the very vocal protests it made. A quick glance over my shoulder told me the others were easily following. Though their wing beats were laborious, not once did they slow down.

Eyes narrowed, I focused on the mountain range that loomed before us. I ignored the pain, I ignored the others, I ignored everything except that mountain range and the image of Celestia in my mind. Of her tall and proud and regal, with her mane billowing through the air and her wings stretched. Of her leaning forward, one elbow on the table, the other hoof gesturing in the air as she gave a passionate speech to the other council members. Of her mischievous smirk as she planned yet another way of getting out of the Gala.

I will not let you down.


Time Till Death: Two days, twenty hours, forty-two minutes

“Alright, I’ve held my beak shut for hours now,” panted Gilda, “I want to see you teleport us to the other side of this mountain range.”

“Come on G, panting already?” Dash did a small backflip in the air. “I seem to recall you saying that the day you lose to a pony in an endurance race is the day you’re no longer a gryphon. I take it you won’t take me up on my offer to race you?”

“Shut up.”

With a shrug, Dash landed next to me and nudged me playfully. “Alright egghead, show us what you’ve got.”

Gilda snorted in amusement, earning her a glare from Dash.

"Stop playing alpha you two," snapped Spitfire. “Come on, the sooner we get this done the better. We need to make camp and settle for the night.”

“Hey! Are you calling me stupi-“

Gilda was cut off as I grabbed them with my magic and dragged them close. My lungs were burning, my limbs felt as though they were about to snap off, and I was dirty. Sweat, grime, dust, dirt coated my entire body from head to hoof. I was no Rarity, but even I had my limits. I took a quick gulp of the potion and grinned at them.

Keeping a tight grip on them, I opened the floodgates and let my magic pour out. For the first time in a very long time, I let myself completely go and lost myself in the gentle rocking of the waves. I could feel my mane lifting off my body. I could smell the static electricity in the air and feel the slight charring of fur. The pressure built on my body, compressing me from all sides as I kept the power locked up within me.

And then, I released it all at once.

One second we were on the grassy plains before the mountain range and the next, we were on a ledge overlooking a desert. I immediately collapsed onto the ground, deep heaving breaths shaking my entire body as I attempted to block out the pain. Once more I grabbed the potion and though it trembled in my magical hold, I managed to get it to my lips before my magic faltered completely. Draining it completely, I tossed it back into my bag and Dash knelt down next to me.

“You alright?” The way Dash’s face scrunched up in concern was probably one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

“I’m fine,” I replied with a small chuckle. “That teleport took too much out of me though. I think I drained myself dry.”

A low whistle interrupted whatever it was she was about to say and we all turned to face Gilda. “Damn, I didn’t think you’d actually do it. But I think subtlety was definitely lacking.” She pointed behind her at the magenta pillar that was slowly fading into nothing. “Every gryphon would have seen that. By Tartarus, they probably saw that in Canterlot.”

Spitfire shook her head and sighed. “Well it couldn’t be helped. Teleporting past that mountain range had always been our plan and we’re technically outside of gryphon territories now. Plus, it’s not like they can say who did it other than a pony.”

“Yeah, because all gryphons are idiots,” muttered Gilda. “Anyways, are we making camp here or what?”

They all glanced down at me, and with a sigh, I forced myself back onto my hooves. Or at least I tried to. With a frown, I tried again and though I managed to raise myself off the ground a little bit I immediately collapsed back down. Sweat rolled down my brow, and I bit my bottom lip until I drew blood, but no matter how hard I tried, I was stuck on the ground.

“Um… oops…?” I smiled sheepishly up at them. Dash just looked concerned and Gilda looked as though she was expecting it, but Spitfire looked down at me in disgust and annoyance.

“I thought I told you to not overdo it,” growled Spitfire as she rubbed her forehead. “Fine, we’ll make camp here.”

“So-“

“Don’t you dare apologize.” At the harshness in her words, I looked up at Dash in surprise. From the expression on Gilda’s face, I wasn’t the only one either. “You have absolutely nothing to apologize for.”

From the other side of the camp, Spitfire’s snort was audible.

“Oh shut it!” snapped Dash before she let her gaze drop down to me and they immediately softened. “Come on, Twi, let’s get you cleaned up and settled in. Can you walk? No? No problem.”

Before I had a chance to process what was happening, Dash had someone managed to get me onto her back and was now carrying me towards one of the more sheltered areas of the ledge. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Gilda’s slack jawed – slacked beaked? –expression and I buried my burning cheeks in Dash’s mane. Soon they were out of sight and Dash put me onto the ground as gently as she could manage. With her water bottle in mouth, she began pouring it over my face and chest to wash the grime away.

“Dash!” I tried to raise a hoof to stop her, but I barely managed to raise it an inch off the ground. “That’s for drinking, there’s no water in the desert. You need to save it.”

“Then stop me egghead.” Though the water in my eyes, I could just make out Dash’s cocky grin.

With a pout and whine, I was forced to close my eyes as she began scrubbing the dirt out of my fur. Sure, she didn't use a lot of water, but still! Stupid, stubborn Rainbow Dash. Eventually though, she must have figured I was clean enough for she sat down next to me.

"Wouldn't want you to get sick now, would we?" she remarked with a wry smile.

I simply nodded slowly and gazed out the expanse of purple crystals that lay beneath us. Out the corner of my eye though, I could see Dash looking down at me with an indescribable expression on her face. It was clear something was on her mind, but what? Probably just concern.

"Hey Twi?" she whispered softly.

"Yeah?" I turned my head to look her square in the eye.

"Um..." Dash suddenly turned away and looked down at the ground before her eyes slowly gazed up. "About that... um... private talk...?"

"Hm? Oh!" A sheepish smile appeared on my face. "I had totally forgotten about that. Sorry..."

"Don't sweat it, Twi." Dash gave me that self-confident grin of hers only to fall silent once more.

After a couple seconds of silence, I looked at the pegasus curiously. "Dash?"

Her eyes snapped back into focus as she blinked "Sorry, just zoned out there for a second."

"I thought that was my job," I chuckled weakly. "After all, I am the egghead."

To my surprise, Dash merely gave me a small smile and merely sighed in response. "Yeah... yeah you are..."

"Dash?" A frown creased my brow, and though she tried to put me at ease with an easy smile, it only served to increase my tension. "You know you can talk to me about anything. Right?"

"Yeah... Yeah, I know..." A sigh escaped, fogging up the air before us. Was it really that cold? Huh, I didn't feel a thing and I'm half wet.

Silence.

"It's just... you know I'm not good with feelings and these types of things." Her smile was caught somewhere between a grimace and a love struck one. "It's just, this entire journey has gotten me thinking. Do you ever think about love? Do you ever catch yourself thinking about what it'd be like having a relationship or even yearning for one?" Now her words spilled out in a torrent, each sentence getting faster and more agitated than the last. "I mean, all of our other friends have either found somepony or have dated somepony. But us? We're still single. Always have been and... I dunno."

Dash lay down on the ground, resting her head on her hooves as she gazed out over the desert. "I just wonder what it'd be like and if I'd ever find somepony to call mine. You know? Don't get me wrong, I'd probably be the worst mother in the world, but... I look at how happy they are and I want a bit of that. You know?"

All the response she got was a curious tilt of my head.

"I... suppose?" Each word was spoken slowly, allowing me to formulate my thoughts before voicing them. "I mean, I haven't really thought about it or anything. Love... Love is something I'm just not interested in, not really. All it does is get in the way of study and research, and it's not something I want in my life right now. There's no time for it and I see no need to have it."

"Just like friendship?"

I opened my mouth only to slam it shut again as I glared at the pegasus, but she was too busy rolling on the ground laughing to notice my glare. Damn it Dash! At least let me give you my glare, I put a lot of practice and research into perfecting it. Try as I might, I just couldn't stay mad at her; there was just something about her laughter that was so infectious. Not in the same Pinkie's joy could spread though. With Pinkie, you just couldn't help yourself, but when it came to Dash, it was as though you just couldn't see how silly and stupid you were being. Pinkie was all about laughing with friends, but with Dash it was all about laughing at yourself. Laughing at the absurdities and contradictions.

"Yes..." I smiled at her, even as the muscles in my face protested. "Just like friendship."

Once more we lapsed back into silence.

"Twi... Twilight..." It was only when I looked over at her that I realized she was holding my hoof in hers. "What I want to say, that is, what I need to say is... well..." She blushed and looked away.

No. Please, no. Not now. Not this. Anything, but this. Please.

"I was wondering if you wanted to go out with me some time..."

Mouth suddenly dry, I could only stare at her in shock before croaking out a single word, "Why?"

"Because you're cool. You're loyal. I mean, hay, you throw yourself into the most absurd situations where you could lose a limb or worse and you somehow get out of it every single time. You dive in head first, making up plans as you go and saving others without a second thought about yourself. Heck, you bought a bucking greed dragon down! And...well... I respect that. And admire that. You do things because it is the right thing to do and you don't let anything stop you." She got that far away look again. "I mean, sure, I'm the jock and you're the egghead, but... I'm willing to give it a shot. I think it could work."

And then she looked down at me with those rose eyes of hers and asked that one question I had been dreading. "So? Will you be my marefriend?"

"Dash..." I willed my arm to move so I could place a reassuring hoof on her shoulder, but all I managed to a small twitch. "Look, I appreciate you asking, but I don't really think this is the right time to be discussing this."

Her face fell and I could see the barest shimmer of tears along the corner of her eyes.

"I'm not saying no," I quickly added and her face immediately lit up with hope. It was like a knife to my gut and I quickly looked up to the night sky so that I wouldn't have to see that expression anymore. "But I'm stressed, you're stressed, everyone's stressed and stress is known to affect judgment. Can I tell you my answer once we get back? I'd like to look at this objectively."

"Of course Twi." Her breath tickled my ear and looking at her in surprise, my eyes widened further. Dash's head was resting on my shoulder and her entire body was pressed up against me with a wing wrapped around my body. When had that happened? I didn't remember her being so close, in fact I couldn't even feel her body next to me.

I stared down at my hooves, but no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn't move an inch. And it was only then that the truth dawned on me: I was paralyzed.


12/12/602

I have done it. A single alicorn filly with pink fur, purple eyes and dark violet mane with rose and gold streaks in it. No doubt Luna will find the color combination absolutely ghastly, but I am afraid any more tinkering will result in yet another failure and there have already been too many of those. For now I shall keep her mind asleep, allowing her body to grow, but nothing else.

For the longest time, I've dreamed of this moment, but now it's actually here, I find myself doubting myself. After all, this is a life I've created which makes me its mother, albeit in a non-biological sense. I've constantly thought of her as a body with no mind of her own to speak of, but now... How can I be so heartless as to look at this beautiful filly and say the mind that inhabits it does not have a right to grow? Of course, this is just a backup plan so it is not as though she will be used in such a manner, but still.

No. Luna matters more. Luna is more important. I must bring my dear sister back to me. Oh Luna, am I doing the right thing?