• 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 6

06/02/982

Even as I write this, my quill is shaking thanks to the amount of magic I have been forced to use. This morning, I was barely able to raise the sun and I fear that continuing this path will lead only to ruin.

But I cannot stop.

I managed to create a second alicorn foal, and by speeding up time, I managed to mature him to a suitable age before infecting him with the virus. Even with the precautions I took though, he succumbed to the cursed thing and died within the day. While I could infect myself with it in hopes of surviving long enough to obtain antibodies, I have a duty to Equestria that I cannot forsake, no matter how much I may wish to.

However, that is not to say the venture was a complete waste of time. I believe I have identified the relevant protein markers, as well as which cells the virus targets. Though I have limited evidence, I have a hunch that an alicorn-pony hybrid will provide the antibodies I seek. With alicornian genetics, the cells will hopefully have the receptor proteins necessary for the virus to infect, while the different antibodies present in pony will be able to stop the virus.

Or at least, that is my hope. I don't even know if it is possible to create a pony-alicorn hybrid simply due to the defense mechanism in alicorns, but really, what other hope do I have left? I have exhausted all potential avenues. Please, Harmony, let this work. I can't lose Cadence as well.


Time Till Death: Two days, seven hours, forty-one minutes

"Come on, Twi, wakey-wakey." Dash nudged the sleeping mare with her snout. "We need to get going now."

Twilight mumbled something unintelligible.

"Come on." Another nudge and still nothing. "Fine, be that way," she said as she took the sky. A second later, Dash was back with a raincloud. "Last warning, wake up or suffer."

"There is so much wrong with this," sighed Spitfire as she sipped her bottle of water. "When Rainbow Dash has to wake Twilight up, you know something is wrong."

"Tell me about it," grumbled Gilda as she rubbed her eyes. "First time I've seen her awake before midday of her own free will and with no assignment due."

"Hey! I'm not that bad." Two amused looks were directed in Dash's direction. "Alright, so maybe I am, but that's not the point. And she's still not awake yet, is she?"

"Nope," replied Spitfire and Dash tried to ignore the jealous look directed at her.

"Sorry Twi, but this has to be done." All it took was a single swift buck for the cloud to empty out all its water on the poor mare causing her to shriek out.

"What th- Dash!" A pair of violet eyes glared up at the pegasus. "I'm going to get you for that!"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever egghead," chuckled Dash as she bought the cloud down. "You over slept so now you're gonna have to eat on the go."

"I thought you were meant to wake me up," said Twilight.

"She didn't want to disrupt your beauty sleep," said Gilda, causing Dash to blush. "Plus, it's not like you actually have to run or fly or whatever."

"What they said." Spitfire trotted up beside the others. "We've still got some dried fruits and hay left." Behind her and out of sight, Gilda made a gagging action. "It'll last us another day or two, but that's about it."

"Alright, alright, let me cast the cloud walking spell." Her horn came to life, but instead of the strong glow, it spluttered and was barely visible under the morning sun. Sweat began dripping down her brow and a pained expression appeared on Twilight's face. After a couple more seconds, she collapsed onto the ground with a gasp. "That took far more effort than I thought it would. The magical interference is already making simple spells hard to cast. We need to adjust our plan."

"You had a plan? Could have fooled me." For that comment, Gilda got a smack on the back of her head from Spitfire. "Ow..."

"What's your suggestion?" asked Spitfire.

"A single teleport as far as I can get it," replied Twilight. "The further we go in, the harder it will be to cast magic and therefore, the less distance I'll be able to teleport. Therefore, to maximize distance, I should do one massive teleport now, and since we've got the cloud, we should still make decent time."

Spitfire frowned as she mulled it over. "Very well. Do you want to eat something first?"

"I'm fine," replied Twilight. "Hey Dash, help me onto the cloud will you? If everyone gets on it, I'll have a clear teleportation boundary and that'll make everything easier."

"Alright." Dash knelt down and draped Twilight's arm around her shoulders. With her wing wrapped around the unicorn to keep her stable and close, it was only a matter of time before Twilight was on the cloud. Rather than let go, Dash laid down next to her and the others soon joined them on the cloud. It was cramped, limbs were in awkward places and more than once, Dash felt something rub up against her flank far too suggestively for her liking.

"Everypony ready?" asked Twilight before smiling sheepishly and adding, "And gryphon."

"Finally! Do you know how ra-"

"We don't care," snapped Spitfire. "Sorry, I seriously need a vacation before I snap and kill some po- gryphon. What can I say? It's been a long week."

"It'll all be over soon," whispered Twilight before adding in a louder voice, "Everyone ready? Good."

Dash had seen Twilight perform a variety of miracles in the past, but she had never stood so close while the unicorn actually cast those spells. Dash had tamed storms, shattered tornados with a well-timed rainboom, and fought off blizzards, but none of that compared to what she was experiencing now. A pressure unlike any other pressed on her from all directions, she could feel an intense searing heat on her back and all she could see was white. Within the cornea of magic, the smell of electricity dominated everything.

At the same time, there was a sense of calmness. A loving whisper and caress as Twilight's magic wrapped her up in thick wool blankets on a cold winter's night. Here, in the center of the magic, it reminded Dash of being in the eye of a storm. Then she felt it. That split second before she performed a sonic rainboom, where everything seemed to slow down and come to a halt. A moment where a single second stretched out and everything could be seen in excruciating detail.

Then the explosion came. For the briefest of moments, Dash was blind to the world, then her sight slowly came back to her followed by her hearing. It took a couple more seconds before the cyan pegasus realized that she had fallen over at some point and a quick glance at the others told her that they hadn't fared much better. The only one that seemed unfazed by the whole ordeal was Twilight, who slowly drifted back onto the cloud while chugging another bottle. As soon as she was back down to earth, she closed her eyes and began to doze off.

"Um..." Spitfire and Dash exchanged a confused look. "Twi must be more tired than I expected."

"Looks that way," said Spitfire. "Come on, let's get this thing in the air. How far did we travel anyways?"

"Far enough that I can just make out the mountain range," replied Gilda as she squinted off into the distance. "Also, I think she burnt some of my crown feathers!"

"Since when did you care about your appearance?" asked Dash as she dropped behind the cloud and began pushing it up. "Also get your fat ass down here and help. Hey Spitfire, can you direct it from up front?"

All it took was a second for the switch around to take place and soon they were up in the sky, travelling along at a speedy pace.

"You know, I could have led," said Gilda with a grunt as she gave the cloud a hard shove. "And seriously, how heavy is this mare?"

"Yeah, but this way we can talk private," replied Dash.

"Yeah well, who says I want to talk to you at all?"

"Fine, I'll talk at you then! Damn it, that came out wrong. Just... listen, alright? That's all I ask." When Gilda didn't say anything or run away, Dash pressed on. "I just wanted to say sorry alright? You were my oldest friend and I ditched you just like that, and that was totally uncool of me."

There was a moment of silence where the only thing that could be heard was their slow, labored wing beats.

"That it?" said Gilda. "After nearly ten years, that's it?"

"You know I'm bad at this stuff," shrugged Dash. "Plus, you are getting a job out of this. If Twi helps, I could probably get you into the Shadowbolts or Wonderbolts. You'll probably have to audition, but if you still fly like you used to, you'll get in."

"...Whatever."

"Oh, come on," Dash sighed as they finally reached cruising altitude.

"A simple 'sorry' isn't a miracle word you know."

"I know!" The pegasus shook her head. "I just don't know what to say. I royally bucked up alright? Look, I know we're not on good terms, but I do want to be your friend again."

Hopeful magenta eyes met golden eyes and after a long second, Gilda broke eye contact. "Whatever dweeb, I'll consider it. If you can prove to me you're cool enough to associate with me."

"As long as it doesn't mean ditching my friends or acting like a jerk," came the immediate reply.

"Yeah, whatever."

Silence descended once more. There was no talking, only mindless flapping as the scorching sun slowly wore them down. Though it had been less than an hour, Dash's fur was already soaked with sweat and her mouth was dry. Even after a deep drink from her water bottle, her mouth still tasted like ash. The worst part was the reflections from below as the purple crystals sent the sunlight back up at them, making it difficult to see in the best of situations.

Eventually though, they were forced to stop for lunch and took turns resting on the cloud and eating before dropping back down and continuing. Not once did Spitfire look at Dash or even attempt to communicate with her. The Wonderbolt stayed up front by herself, barely tolerating Gilda when the gryphon decided to get a change of scenery, but considering everything was a uniform pale brown with splotches of purple, it didn't really make that much difference. Not once did Twilight stir.

Dropping back next to Dash, Gilda sighed. "Look, you're an idiot alright?"

"Wha-What!?" There she was, expecting Gilda to apologize or something, and instead the gryphon decides to say that?

"Just listen, damn it!" She ran a claw through her crown feathers. "You need to stop egging the unicorn on, alright?"

"No! You want me to tell her to stop trying and for her to be sad? What the buck is wrong with you? As far as I'm concerned, Twilight is doing the right thing," snarled Dash.

"Whoa, calm down lover girl." Gilda sighed and looked up at the sky. "Look, she's dying alright? The more she uses magic, the more she dies."

"Wha-What?" Alarmed, Dash looked over at the sleeping mare before growling at Gilda, "This is some twisted joke. Twi-"

"Just think about it for once in your life, you idiot!" If it wasn't because they were busy pushing a cloud along, there was little doubt in Dash's mind that a fight would have broken out. "I know that you like her, but come on! I thought you'd want to stop her from dying."

"Hey, it's genetic, there's no way to stop it."

Gilda snorted. "Yeah right. One second she could run and was perfectly fine and the next she can't even stand. Fucking Tartarus, the only way that could possibly happen so fast is if someone severed her spine. I mean, fuck, I've only been with you one day and I already know something's wrong with that unicorn. Think about it! One teleport and then she's suddenly paralyzed. She's fucking killing herself!"

"So what? I should take your word over hers? Come on G, neither of us paid attention in school and Twi is the smartest pony ever. Don't tell me Spitfire put you up to this. Seriously, that mare is going out of her way to make Twi's life a living Tartarus."

"Shouldn't you at least be curious as to why she's hiding something from you?" asked Gilda.

"Even if she is, she probably has a good reason to do so." If Dash wasn't so bone dead tired, she might have shrugged. "I'm Loyalty, remember? That means trusting others and them trusting me."

They continued in silence.

Finally, Gilda broke the silence. "So you know?"

"I know something's wrong, but I don't know what," sighed Dash as she turned a weary eye to her oldest friend. "And I don't want to jump to conclusions, you know? She's my friend and I respect her choices. All I can really do now is let her know that I'm there for her. I'd never leave her hanging, but it's not loyalty if I just force her to tell me, you know?"

"So you're fine with Twilight killing herself?"

"She's not killing herself!" The two stared at each other, completely oblivious to Spitfire's confused glance back or the stirring unicorn. "Twilight is not that stupid and she'd tell me if she was. I trust her."

"I doubt she'd tell you if she was," remarked Spitfire. "You are Loyalty so you'd probably stop her."

"I wou-" A frown creased Dash's brow.

"Not so simple, is it?" The mocking tone in Spitfire's voice made Dash growl. "Would you honor her decision or would you fight it? If you tie her up, how would Celestia survive? Loyalty to a friend versus your oath to a nation."

"There's a third option," said Dash after a couple seconds silence. "There is always a third option."

"Good luck finding it," replied the Wonderbolt.

"So what? You're fine with Twi just killing herself!?" Dash spun on Gilda, her eyes still filled with anger. "Both of you are perfectly fine with this!"

"Not my friend," replied Gilda with a shrug.

"I made an oath to Celestia and to Equestria." Spitfire paused before adding, "Plus, Twilight made her choice and I'd honor it."

Silence.

"You know, I used to look up at you," Dash spoke in the ghost of a whisper, "I used to think you were the coolest pony ever. I idolized you. I never thought you'd let a pony die just so you could get a shot at their marefriend."

Everything froze.

"W-What did you say?" said Spitfire as she stared at Dash's teary eyes.

"You heard me." Still that impossibly soft whisper, but so much rage just boiling beneath the surface. "You're willing to let Twilight die just so you can have a shot at me."

"Why- You- I- Tha- GAH!"

Next thing Dash knew, a pair of hooves connected with her chest. Flung back, her wings worked desperately to regain her balance. Just as managed to get her bearings, Spitfire slammed into her back, sending Dash towards the ground. In the blink of an eye, Dash felt hooves connect on her from all sides before she was finally pinned to the underside of the cloud. Blood filled her mouth as Spitfire smashed Dash's muzzle. Before the second blow could land, Gilda tackled Spitfire out of the way.

The cyan pegasus spat out the blood, hovering there while she clutched her side. Each breath sent a bolt of pain through her body and each flap of the wings was enough to make the corners of her vision blur.

"Fuck you," spat Spitfire, "and here I thought you were actually worthy of being a captain." After a second, she added softly, "And a friend."

"Spitfire..." Dash made to glide closer, but Gilda shook her head.

"Look, just- Do whatever it is you need to do," sighed Gilda. "I'll take care of this mess."

"Why didn't you stop her sooner?" asked Dash as she landed on the cloud.

"Because you deserved that." Not once did Gilda look the pegasus in the eyes. "You're a fucking idiot."

"Whatever," mumbled Dash as she began examining her wounds. Nothing seemed to be broken, but she'd bruise everywhere. With a groan she moved to the front and began dragging the cloud along while Spitfire and Gilda chatted at the back. Well, less chatted and more flew in silence, but at least Dash was safe from getting beaten up.

Even though they flew in silence, and even though Dash knew she was right, Spitfire's final words still echoed in her mind. It kept pounding on her head, a mocking reminder of her own stupidity. There had been no reason to say that aloud, even if it was true. Stupid Spitfire with her stupid, silly hatred that didn't make a lick of sense.

A light snore drew Dash's attention to the purple mare.

Was Twilight really killing herself? Now that Gilda had said it out loud, it kept haunting her thoughts, never giving her a second of respite. But then again, Twi had no reason to do that, and if she did, there'd be no reason to not tell Dash. Plus, Twi wasn't that stupid, and there was no reason to believe it wasn't genetic. It was just some silly story made up by Spitfire in an attempt keep them apart, that's all. Yeah, that was it! Spitfire was just jealous of their budding relationship and was coming up with all sorts of stupid and silly stories to keep them apart. Trust and loyalty were foundations in a relationship after all, so might as well undermine it now. Well it wasn't going to work. Dash knew what was going on now and she wasn't about to fall for it.

Half leaning on the cloud to support her weary body, Dash forced her wings to keep going despite the pain that each wingbeat brought with it. Add on the sweat and blood, and Dash was not a happy at all. Then again, she never became a Shadowbolt to be happy. She became a Shadowbolt to serve Equestria to the best of her capabilities. Her life was forfeit for the greater good, something that she had come to terms with a long time ago, when she first became the Bearer of Loyalty.

Whatever. She was going to trust Twi on this, after all, loyalty went both ways.

But...

Perhaps she should talk to Twi. If she was killing herself then... Then what? What in the bucking world could be done? Or rather, what should be done? Honor Twilight's wishes or act against her desires? Save Twilight or save Equestria?

"Dash...?"

For a brief second, the chromatic pegasus thought she it was merely a trick of the wind. It was only when she saw Twilight looking up at her with bleary eyes that Dash realized the truth and leaned in close.

"Hey there." A reassuring smile was directed at the sick unicorn. "Feeling better after that nap?"

"Yeah..." Her voice was weak, barely above a whisper. Although she looked straight at Dash, it felt more as though Twilight was looking past her or something. Kinda like what it felt like when talking to Ditzy. "Can I get some water please?"

"Sure." With slow, tender movements, Dash poured some water into Twilight's mouth. After a couple greedy gulps, Twilight pulled back and closed her eyes once more.

"Thank you," whispered the unicorn. "How long till we reach our destination?"

"Soon," replied Dash. "We're gonna need your magic soon, if you feel up for it."

Twilight gave the barest of nods. "Tomorrow. I should have enough magic tomorrow to dispel the illusion. We'll want to get as close as possible before I do so though, I don't think I'll be able to cover as large of an area as I first estimated."

"Whatever you say egghead."

Dash glanced up at the sky. "It's almost dinner time... Do you want to eat something now? You missed lunch you know." A frown creased her brow. "And breakfast now that I think of it."

"Not hungry," mumbled Twilight.

"Come on, you have to eat." Rainbow Dash never pleaded, but for once in her life, she was that desperate.

"Fine," sighed Twilight. "Mind passing something over."

"Um..." Dash looked over her shoulder, trying to figure out how to contort herself to make it work.

"You're really pathetic aren't you?" sighed Gilda. "I'll take care of this too. Damn it Dash, how did you manage to survive without me?"

"Shut up," snapped Twilight. "Don't insult Rainbow Dash."

"Whatever dweeb," replied Gilda as she dug out a bundle of hay. "Now do I need to feed you as well or can you do it yourself?"

At Dash's low growl, Twilight shook her head. "I'd prefer it if Dash fed me actually."

"Tsk. Fine." Hopping off the cloud, Gilda took the reins from Dash. "Your marefriend needs you."

"She's not my marefriend!" Twilight, and Dash yelled as one.

"Whatever, last time I try helping out," said Gilda as she passed the food over. "Just make sure she doesn't kill herself or something. We need her."

"Yeah, yeah." As soon as her hooves touched the cloud, Dash collapsed in a heap. Every single fiber in my body felt as though it had been tortured for days on end.

"You alright?" asked Twilight.

"Just sore," lied Dash. "Now open wide."

All she got in response was a flat look.

"Heh... alright, sorry." With a tenderness rarely seen, Dash began feeding Twilight. It took far longer than necessary and it was only when Spitfire began directing her glare at Rainbow Dash did the cyan pegasus finally stop doting on Twilight.

"Come on, we've still got a long ways to go," barked Spitfire.

"Yes ma'am," Dash sighed wearily. With a small parting smirk to Twilight, Dash dropped back and began pushing the cloud along once more. The only difference was, she was now doing it with Spitfire and she could feel the anger just rolling off the Wonderbolt. It was hard to tell which burnt more, the sun or the mad mare.


12/02/982

I have done it. Over two dozen failures, but I have finally created an alicorn-pony hybrid. I do not know how long she will survive so I must act quickly. Normally I would wait for her to mature before infecting her, but I fear waiting will result in her death like the last one. My only hope that my over-zealousness will not result in her death when waiting an extra day would grant me the cure I so desperately desire.

Though it pains me to use this purple unicorn in such a manner, I have no choice in this matter. I've already lost Luna, I will not lose another alicorn for as long as I live. Cadence... Cadence is special. Not only to me, but for Equestria as well. This way, if I were to die, there will would at least be a successor to the throne.