• Published 26th Nov 2012
  • 7,727 Views, 567 Comments

Rainbow's Parents: The Truth - Songbrony

Rainbow Dash has been living on her own since she was a filly. Nopony knows what happened. Until now

  • ...

The Crystal Empire

When we arrived at the station, Twilight left to take her test with Spike while the rest of us waited back at the station. We weren't really allowed inside the castle unless we had royal business, and my business ended this morning. So we sat down, talked, played some games, and waited for her to finish up.

"So, what do you think is going to happen?" Fluttershy asked me.

"Well...I think there's something bigger going on here." I said.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I mean every time something big happens, all of us are involved. Why would the Princess want all of us to be there if Twilight was taking just a simple test?" I said. I wanted to tell her that her and I were going to try and find her mom, but I remember what Celestia told me earlier.

"But if that was the case, wouldn't she have told us that in the letter?" she pointed out.

"I guess. Or maybe it was because it wasn't safe to say in the letter." I was trying to hint that we weren't going to be safe going wherever it was we were needed to go, but subtlety wasn't a strong suit of mine.

"So you think my mom may be involved?" she asked calmly.

"Well...yeah." I said. I looked past her and saw the Doctor looking at us. "And it looks like we've got company." I said, nodding towards him.

She looked behind her. "What's he doing here?" she asked.

"Because my assumption was correct." I said. "I'll be back. I need to stretch my legs." I said to the others. I walked away from the station towards the Doctor with Fluttershy right behind me.

"You weren't supposed to tell her." he said.

"I didn't. She figured it out herself." I pointed out.

"She only figured it out because you hinted at it."

"Well what was I suppose to do? Just say nothing and have her go face to face with her mom?" I said angrily at him.

"Yes. Because Clarrise may be following her and seeing if you know she's involved." he said.

"Then why hasn't she killed us yet if that was the case?" I asked.

"Because she wants a show. She doesn't want it to be quick and painless. She wants to drag it out as much as she can." he explained.

"So the Princess does only want us to go because we may be able to draw her out?" Fluttershy asked.

"Not exactly-" the Doctor started, but I cut him off.

"That's precisely what she wants. But once this last thing is over she promised me that we would be safe and she would be sure of it." I said.

"But...why couldn't she have somepony else do it instead of putting us in harm's way?" she asked.

"Because we're her last hope to do it." I said, glaring at the Doctor.

"Fluttershy, you know if there was another way, I'd do that in a heartbeat." he said. "But it's the only way to be sure we'll catch her."

"So if we find her, you'll stop her from doing anything to harm us?" she asked.

"Absolutely." he replied. "Oh, and by the way, you two might want to appear like you are fighting while you are there. It might make her feel like Fluttershy doesn't have anypony."

"So like not talk to each other and give each other mean looks?" Fluttershy asked.

"No, more like actual fighting. Rainbow Dash really needs to just be a jerk to you when she can so that way it can be believable." he explained. "In basic terms, make me think that you don't care what happens to Fluttershy anymore." he said, pointing to me.

I just stared at him. "What?" he asked.

"I can't just do a complete 180 on my feelings." I said.

"Oh, pish posh. It's not that hard. Look, right now, I'm happy to see you." he said, giving us a big grin. "Now, I can't stand seeing you." He gave a scowl. "See? Not that difficult, except you just have to add actions to your face."

"I know I can do it, but I don't want to hurt Fluttershy." I said. The truth was that I couldn't do it. I couldn't go from Fluttershy being the most important pony in my life to the lowest form of scum. That was her mother's rank.

"It's fine, Rainbow. Do whatever you need to do. I won't be upset since we'll be safe after this is done. Maybe then we can get a night to ourselves." she said.

"Are you sure?" I asked. "I don't want to hurt you."

"Rainbow, I lived with my mom and my dad. I think you can't do any more harm." she said.

I sighed. "Fine. I'll do it. But I really don't feel comfortable with it."

"That's the spirit!" the Doctor exclaimed. "Now, head on back to your friends. I think Twilight should be done talking to the Princess." he said and turned and walked back to his TARDIS. I still couldn't understand how ponies just walked past it without a second thought.

We walked back to the station and saw Rarity and Applejack playing tic-tac-toe. "There ya'll are!" Applejack said. "Where did ya' both go?"

"Just down to the local sweet shop. I wanted to see if there was a place that could compete with Pinkie's sweets." I said.

"Haha! No place makes sweets like me!" Pinkie Pie shouted. "I know every way there is to make a sweet sweeter and tastier than before."

"Twilight!" Applejack exclaimed. She ran over and hugged Twilight. "Did ya' pass?" she asked.

"Are we going to celebrate your awesomeness with Princess Celestia?" Pinkie asked as she pulled out her party cannon.

"Not quite." Twilight replied, sending Pinkie down from her excitement. "We're going to the Crystal Empire!"

We looked at each other confused. I had never heard of the Crystal Empire. "What's that?" I asked.

"I'll explain on the way." she said as we boarded the train.

We had been on the train for an hour already and we still weren't there. The entire time, Twilight explained all that she knew, which wasn't a lot. We had more questions than she had answers for. I looked at Fluttershy, who was watching the scenery pass. I laid my head back and decided to take a nap. If I was going to be fighting Clarrise, I wanted to be well rested.

Of course, I wasn't able to get to sleep due to Pinkie's bouncing. She couldn't sit still knowing she was going someplace new. It wasn't long before we got there though and I was able to stratch my legs and wings. It was freezing. I hadn't brought anything to keep me warm, so I was shivering a little bit. We walked out of the station while Spike carried all of Rarity's bags.

"And you all made fun of me for packing too many scarves." she boasted.

Mind sharing? I thought as a shiver ran through me.

"Twiley!" I heard Shining Armor exclaim. He looked kind of like a ninja with goggles. "C'mon, we don't want to be out here after dark." he said.

"Why? What's out here?" Twilight asked. I had the same question. What could survive out here in this freezing weather?

"I'm not sure. But the Crystal Empire isn't the only thing that returned." he said. We all looked at each other as we followed Shining Armor. "Something keeps trying to get in. We think it's the old ruler Sombra." he shouted over the wind.

I had trouble hearing Twilight over the wind, but I think she said something about being trapped in ice or something like that. I was higher up than them since I was flying, so the wind was a bit stronger. However, the next thing, I heard. There was a loud roar and I saw the group below start running. I flew hard against the wind, but it kept pushing me back as it caught in my wings. I looked behind and a massive black mass chasing us.

I don't scare easily, but this is the first time in a long time that I was scared for my life. I looked to Fluttershy who was putting all that she could into running. I was going to fly down next to her and help her, but then I saw the shield in front of us. Shining Armor stopped and turned. What in the hay is he doing? I thought.

He shot a bolt at the creature, but it went right through him and he regained his shape. The mass attacked him and engulfed him. It was the last thing I saw when I entered the shield. Everyone stopped and started to catch their breath and I saw Twilight look behind her. A few seconds later her brother came barging in with some weird black crystals formed on his horn.

He shook his head as his magic failed as it caught on the crystals. He led us to through the city, and it was really beautiful. I don't say that often about places. "Gorgeous! It's absolutely gorgeous!" I heard Rarity shriek. I rolled my eyes. It was typical of her to act like that. "There are no words!" she exclaimed, her eyes wide with amazement.

"Focus Rarity. We're here to help Twilight, not admire the scenery." Applejack said.

"Meh, I don't see what the big deal is. Just looks like an ordinary castle to me." I said sarcastically, just to rustle her jimmies. She started speaking gibberish and got right in my face saying how it wasn't just an ordinary castle.

I smiled and Applejack gave a short laugh. "Hehe, very funny." Rarity said as she realized what I did. We walked up to the throne room where I saw Princess Cadance sleeping. Or at least, it looked like she was sleeping. Her eyes were baggy as her head hung low.

"Cadance!" Twilight said happily. It brought her out of her stupor and they greeted each other with their exclusive little dance, shake thing. I looked out the window and saw the shield around the city falter a bit. In that short glimpse, I saw a dark black cloud. It didn't look very friendly, and something told me that that was what Clarrise was working with. I looked back to the others to hear what they were talking about.

"Cadance magic spreads love and kindness across the Empire. It seems to be able to hold the King back." he said. "However, it takes it's toll on her. She hasn't slept and barely eats, and with my protection spell being countered by King Sombra, I can't help her. With her being here and me looking for signs of danger in the Arctic, we haven't been able to gather much information from the crystal ponies." he said.

"Crystal ponies?! There are crystal ponies??" Rarity asked, ecstatic. We all looked at her like she had lost her mind, and giving where we were at, she probably had. "Uh...hehe. Continue."

"There has to be one of them that knows how we can protect the Crystal Empire." Shining Armor said.

"A research paper!" Twilight exclaimed.

"What?" her brother asked.

"That's why the Princess sent us here! To gather information from the crystal ponies and deliver it to you! And then I'll pass the test!" she explained.

"Hehe, yeah. Who doesn't?" I said, nudging Pinkie Pie.

"Oh oh! Let me guess! Is it Spike? No, Fluttershy! Rarity?" she said going crazy.

"Don't worry, big brother. I am really good at this sort of thing." Twilight said, reassuring her brother after Pinkie's little outburst.

We ran out of the room as we started looking for the crystal ponies. "Alright girls, everypony split up. We need to gather as much information as we can on the Crystal Empire. If you see a crystal pony, ask them questions. Meet back at front of the castle in 10 minutes." Twilight said.

"Should we really split up?" Fluttershy asked, looking at me. "What if that thing gets in?"

"Then meet back at the throne room. We'll cooridinate with Cadance and Shining Armor on what to do." Twilight said. We all nodded and took in our different directions. I flew a little to the left of Fluttershy so it would seem we weren't heading to the same area. When I knew we were far enough out, I flew down and landed in front of Fluttershy.

She gave a quick gasp of fright as I landed. "Oh, Rainbow Dash! It's just you." she said.

"Yeah. Sorry about frightening you. I didn't mean to do that." I said. "Fluttershy, we need to stick together." I said.

"Why? Didn't Twilight just say that we should split up and gather information?" she asked.

"Well, yes, but that's not the reason. We need to stick together in case your mom decides to attack you." I said. I was not comfortable leaving her alone here in a place neither of us knew much of.

"But the Doctor said that we needed to act angry with each other. You know, to make her think I was all alone." she pointed out.

"I know what he said, but it makes me way too uncomfortable to leave you alone."

She backed up a bit. "You need to be angry at me Rainbow. If you don't show that, then she won't do anything and we won't be safe." she said.

"But Fluttershy-" I said loudly before she cut me off.

"Rainbow Dash, why are you being so mean to me?" she said, her eyes tearing up.

"What?" I asked, confused.

"Just go away!" she shouted and flew in the other direction.

I stood there utterly confused. "What?" I said aloud again. This wasn't like her. I knew what we were supposed to do, but the fact that she completely shouted at me was unexpected. I shook my head and walked to a pony on the other side of the street. Well, might as well start. I thought angrily. "Hey you!" I shouted. The pony looked at me, startled. "Do you know anything that could help protect the Empire?" I asked.

"What?" she asked.

"A way to protect the Empire! You know anything about it or what?" I asked again.

"I wish I could help you, really." she said, walking away.

"Hold on! You gotta know something!" I said, annoyed.

"But I don't have any information." she said, walking away.

I groaned. How can you not know how to protect your Empire? I thought. I flew into the sky and looked for any other ponies to ask. As I did so, I saw a familiar pony running through an alleyway. What really caught my eye is that it wasn't like the other crystal ponies I had seen walking around. This pony was running like they had to be somewhere soon.

I flew down to the alleyway to see what was up. I was able to follow the pony pretty easily since she was being pretty loud. She didn't watch where she stepped so listening to where she was was simple. I followed her for a few minutes before I came upon a familiar blue box. "Of course." I said, figuring out who I had been following just then.

I walked inside the TARDIS and found the Doctor and Derpy looking at a monitor. "Nice acting with Fluttershy." the Doctor said.

"Acting?" I asked, before I remembered what I was supposed to do. "Oh! Right. Well, you see, it wasn't really acting." I admitted.

"What? You mean you actually hate her?" he asked, surprised.

"No! Are you crazy?" I exclaimed. "I wasn't trying to be mean to her. It was all her doing." I said.

The Doctor looked at Derpy. "And what exactly did she say?" he asked.

"Weren't you there? You knew we had talked." I asked.

"Actually it was Derpy who was listening in." he said, throwing her under the bus.

"Hey!" she shouted at him.

"What? You were." he said.

"But you said that we didn't want her to know that we were there!" she shouted.

"Well you should know what went down." I told her.

"But I couldn't hear it until Fluttershy shouted, and even then it was barely audible. I was a good distance away." she said, defending herself.

"Look, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that she was acting weird during the conversation." I said.

"I guess not." he said returning to his monitor.

"What are you doing?" I asked, actually curious as to what was so interesting on the his screen.

"Just doing a few wide range scans to triangulate Clarrise's location should she show herself. And when she does, we'll know right where she is." he explained.

"And then what's the plan of attack?" I asked, anxious to finish this.

"Well your plan is to act like you don't know anything and that you're here to help Twlight, which you are, while the Princess and I work together to find and nuetralize Clarrise." he said.\

"I hope by nuetralize you mean kill." I said. "And why can't I take part in fighting her?" I asked. "It's not like I won't have a reason to end her."

"True, but you need to act oblivious." he said looking away from his monitor. "Only then can we finish what she started."

"Fine." I said, grumpily. "I'll go back and find a way to stop Sombra." There was an uneasiness in the Doctor's face when I said his name. "What?" I asked.

"Nothing." he said quickly, returning his attention to the monitor. I looked at Derpy who seemed just as confused as I did. I walked over to him and moved the screen out from his face. I glared at him and he sighed. "King Sombra was one of Luna's students, much like how Twilight is Celestia's student. When he turned evil, he made a vow to end the rule of both the princessess and was encased in shadow and ice for a thousand years." he explained.

"And Clarrise is working with him?" I asked.

"I would think so. It would explain how he and the Crystal Empire returned." he said.

"So why is he attacking the Crystal Empire if he wants to end the Princessess' rule?" I asked. "Wouldn't it make more sense for him to attack Canterlot?"

"He's only shadow. He can't attack Celestia and Luna head on like that. He's strong, but still weak in this shadow state." he said.

"But then why didn't she come and finish him off?" I asked, trying to put the pieces together.

He looked at me solemnly. "Because she knows how important it is to you and Fluttershy that Clarrise be dealt with. Since they must be working together, she can knock both of them out with one stone."

"So Twilight deals with Sombra and we deal with Clarrise." I said.

"Exactly." he replied. "If Sombra takes the Empire, then he has an army, an army that can attack Canterlot and an army that can destroy you and Fluttershy."

"But why would Clarrise want to work with him? There seems to be no gain for her." I pointed out.

"It's possible that she made a deal with him." Derpy mentioned. "Maybe if she let Sombra free, once he took the Crystal Empire over she could get a small portion of the army and be able to kill both Fluttershy, you and your mom."

"Precisely." the Doctor said. "Which means you need to go out there and make sure that Twilight succeeds. If she fails, you lose your chance to finish off Clarrise." he said.

"Okay. I'll go now and work on that." I said with a new conviction. If stopping Sombra would stop Clarrise, I was all for it. I ran for the door and burst through it. The Doctor shouted something at me, but I didn't hear it. I was long gone and heading for the front of the castle. When I landed and told Twilight that I found nothing, it looked like we all had the same issue.

"One pony said somethin' about a library." Applejack said.

"A library?" Twilgiht asked, her mood taking a turn for the better. "Well why didn't you say so?"

"Um, Ah just did." she said with a small smiile. We followed Twilight as she ran through town searching for the library. We found it and ran in. As I looked around, I saw thousands upon thousands of books. It was incredibly huge, larger than Canterlot's library in fact.

"Can I help you?" I heard a pony ask us.

"Yes. We're looking for a book." Twilight said.

No duh, Twilight. I think she figured that part out. I couldn't help but thinking.

"We have plenty of those." she said, pointing to their collection.

"You do. You really do." Twilight said as she turned in a circle looking at what awaited her.

"We're looking for something that might tell us of a way to protect the Empire. Like a history book." Applejack said. "Do you know where we can find one?"

"I...I'm not sure. I don't know if I even work at the library." the pony said.

I groaned. "I guess we should start looking?" I asked, already knowing the answer. The others nodded and we began the long and arduous process of pulling every book we could find off the shelves. They were organized in some way, but none of us could make sense of it. It wasn't like the library Twilight lived in where everything was alphabetized. These books had letters with numbers on them. I found a math book with a 94.8 on the spine and a book on cooking with a 94.9. It made no sense.

We had to have been there for about half an hour before Twilight finally said she found it. I let out a breath of relief knowing we were done. As Twilight explained what we needed to do, I figured it would be a simple event.

"A Crystal Fair was a festival for the Crystal Ponies to celebrate and spread love and light to protect the kingdom. And everything we'll need is located in this book." she said.

"Well, let's get started." I said, enthusiastically. We raced back to the throne room to show Cadance what we had found.

When we arrived, Cadance looked worse for wear. I swear she looked like she hadn't slept in weeks and had aged a lot of years. The spell was really getting to her, so I knew we needed to get this done soon. I looked out the window again to see how the shield was holding up. It faltered every now and then as Cadance's magic grew weaker.

I looked at Cadance who didn't even acknowledge that we had found a way to help out. "We'll get started right away. Girls, follow me!" Twilight said as she rushed out of the room.

We set up the Crystal Fair in a short amount of time. Twilight had made a crystal heart for the fair since it appeared to be a key part in the festival. After Pinkie Pie announced it, we went to our stations. I was in charge of making sure everypony was enjoying themselves and for the most part, they were. They started to look more like crystals as they passed through the fair.

It kind of got me a little excited too. Almost as if things didn't seem so bad for me. I was treating myself to some crystal corn on the cob when I overheard two ponies talking about the Crystal Heart. "Do you really think they have it?" one of them asked.

"Of course we have it!" I exclaimed, rushing over to one of their sides. "Can't have a Crystal Fair without the Crystal Heart, right?"

"Of course you can't." I heard a pony say behind us. I turned to look and it was that mare from the library. "The whole purpose of the Crystal Fair is to lift the spirit of the Crystal Ponies so the light within them can power the Crystal Heart so that the Empire can be protected!" she exclaimed. "Ah! I do work at the library!"

"What's that about powering the heart?" I asked.

"I just can't believe you found it! King Sombra said he had hidden it away where we would never see it again!" she said happily. "I only hope that it will still be as powerful after all these years."

Crap. I thought as I flew into the air and grabbed a flag that was blowing in the breeze. Twilight happened to be right next to it when I covered the fake heart in the center with the flag "Why did you-" she started but I cut her off.

"I think we might have a problem." I said.

"What kind of problem?" she asked. "Everything is going perfectly fine. The Crystal Ponies seem to be having fun and King Sombra hasn't gotten in yet."

"Yes but this isn't the Crystal Heart." I said, pointing to it.

"What do you mean?" she asked, flipping through the book.

"That librarian said it needed to be powered up from light in the Crystal Ponies to protect the Empire. However, King Sombra hid it in a place where nopony could find it." I explained quickly.

"Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no!" she said frantically.

"Twilight we need to find it!" I exclaimed.

"I thought I found everything. Come on, let's go talk to Cadance and Shining Armor." she said, running into the castle. I followed her up the stairs and through the halls. She burst onto the balcony, startling them.

"Twilight! Great job with the Crystal Fair. It looks great!" Shining said.

"Except we're missing something very important!" she exclaimed. "The Crystal Heart. The book mentioned it, but it never said it was an actual relic." she said, turning through the book. I saw her eyes go wide as something caught her eye. "There was a page missing. How did I not notice?" she said.

I looked over the balcony as the Crystal Fair continued to go on. It was good that they were still having fun and not worrying about the Crystal Heart. As long as he stays out, we'll be fine. I thought. At that moment the shield fell. I looked back to Cadance who had collapsed from exhaustion. I looked back to where the shield had been and a black smoke started to move in. I saw what looked like a face pop out and move with the smoke. That's what we have to fight? I thought.

I looked back to Twilight to see what the plan was, but Cadance had gotten back up and raised the shield again. There was a roar of pain that I heard coming from the arctic. I let out a sigh of relief. Looks like we fight another day.

"No, you stay with Cadance. She needs you Shining Armor." I heard Twilight say. "I'll retrieve the heart." she said, running into the castle.

"Let's do this." I said following her. It felt good to actually have a chance to do something other than concessions.

"I've been trying to figure out how I'm meant to pass Celestia's test. Retrieving the Crystal Heart must be it." she said. "But there is something else you can do."

"Name it." I replied.

"You and the rest of our friends have to keep the fair going."

"What?" I asked surprised. "With that thing moving in on the Empire?" I didn't understand it. How can we keep them happy when a shadowy remnant of their old tyrant kingwas trying to break through and attack.

"The whole point of the Crystal Fair is to lift the spirits of the crystal ponies so they can activate the Crystal Heart." she said.

"Yeah. And?" I asked, still not understanding.

"If the crystal ponies find out that King Sombra is trying to take over the Empire again, their spirits are going to be anything but lifted." she said. I nodded my head. It made sense. If they were scared, frightened and worried, they couldn't activate the Crystal Heart and protect the Empire. "It won't matter if I find the Crystal Heart. They won't be able to make it work. You have to keep them happy here at the fair."

"Keep the fair going and keep the crystal ponies spirit high." I said as I flew off. "Done and done." I had a few ideas of what to do, but I needed to tell the others about what to do. I flew past Fluttershy as she handled the pies and went to Rarity who was making these weird looking hats.

I whispered in her ear what was going on and she let out a gasp in front of a bunch of crystal ponies. "Uhh I just learned they're doing face painting for the little ones." she said as I left to tell the others. I ran to Fluttershy and told her what was going on, but she seemed to have a glazed look in her eyes, so I just left to figure out what Pinkie was doing. I needed to keep these ponies happy, and I was still supposed to act like I was mad at Fluttershy.

I found her in a clown outfit with a flugle horn. I grabbed it off the table and was trying to get ponies to take one. "Who wants a flugle horn?" I asked to the ponies around there.

"I want a flugle horn!" Pinkie exclaimed.

Not now Pinkie. I thought. "Who else wants a flugle horn?"

"I want a flugle horn!!" Pinkie cried out.

I groaned. "Look Pinkie, we need to keep these ponies happy. So why not try to use some of your party tricks to make them laugh and smile?" I asked.

"Oh! Okay!" she said happily as she ran to another part of the fair. I was able to hand out a bunch of flugle horns and saw a number of the crystal ponies start to become a little more like crystals. After they all dispersed I flew over to the Crystal Heart to see how Applejack was doing.

I landed in front of it and tried to keep ponies back since Applejack was just standing there holding the cover down. I didn't want anypony near it. I saw a pony walking straight to the fake heart and quickly stopped him. "What are you looking at?" I asked as I got right in his face. I wanted to be a little hard here so they wouldn't think to come looking at it. He started to back away and ran toward a group of other ponies. "That's what I thought." I said.

I felt Applejack pull on my tail and brought me down to the ground. "Uh, Rainbow Dash, we're supposed to be actin' like nothin's wrong." she whispered to me.

"Exactly!" I said. I saw two more walking toward it and glared at them and they quickly bolted away.

"What I mean is maybe you should let me keep the crystal ponies away from the fake heart, while you go show off your joustin' skills." she said to me.

"Huh, seeing my awesomeness does have a way of putting ponies into a pretty good mood." I said, running towards the jousting arena. I was going to need help putting one together, and I knew just who to find. If I wanted to keep an eye on Fluttershy without seeming like I cared about her, having us run full speed at each other with metal poles seemed like the best way to do it.

I found her taking care of the yews in a little petting zoo. I started to push her towards the jousting arena. "C'mon Knight Fluttershy!" I said.

"Huh?" she asked confused.

"We're going to be jousting." I told her.

"What?!" she exclaimed. "Why am I doing it?"

"Because I need a knight to face off with me." I said.

"But, why not Applejack? She seems like somepony who'd be more up for it." she pointed out.

"She's busy with the heart." I said.

"What's wrong with the heart?" I heard her say. It was weird though. her attitude and character seemed to change when she said it.

"It's not the real one. Twilight's looking for it now." I told her.

"Oh okay." she said, sounding a bit relieved. We arrived at the jousting arena where we put our armor on and went to our respective sides. I was being cheered on by the crystal ponies and it felt great. I waited for Fluttershy to be ready and for Pinkie Pie to sound us off. She somehow got her hooves on another flugle horn but I wasn't going to worry about it right now. We had a show to put on.

As soon as she blew the horn, I sprinted towards Fluttershy. She followed suit, but as we closed the distance together, she hesitated and turned her body. I hit her and sent her flying away into a pile of hay. Sorry, Fluttershy. I thought. It looked like it hurt. I'll go a lot easier on her next time. I ran over to her to make sure she was okay.

"Isn't there...somepony else who can take over the jousting demonstration with you?" she asked, quivering in fear a little.

I wish. I thought. "The fate of an entire Empire rests on us making sure these ponies have a good time. But, you know, if that isn't important to you..." I trailed off. She whimpered a little bit and I felt really bad. "Okay, okay, I'll take it easier on you next time." I saw her give a smile when I said that. "But not too easy. I have a reputation to uphold!" I said. I wanted it to look like I wasn't going to give Fluttershy any slack. I walked back and she followed.

The second round ended the same as the first. And the third. But on the fourth round something changed. I don't know what, but she had this weird look in her eye. It was unnerving, to say the least, but I figured it was just her acting like she hated me. "Ready to go again?" I asked her.

She nodded her head and we raced off again. I was surprised that she was able to keep taking these hits. They weren't light. She knicked my leg on the third run and it might have left a bruise, but she was taking full on sprint hits to her body. She was a lot tougher than most ponies make her out to be.

As we got closer, I saw something I didn't think I would ever see in Fluttershy's eyes, at least not directed to me. I saw hate. Pure hatred. It worried me enough that I faltered and got hit hard, dead center in my chest. I landed on my back and gasped for air. She nailed a direct hit on my lungs, and it hurt.

She walked over to me with a worried look on her face. "You okay?" she whispered.

"Yeah." I gasped back. "Good hit. Didn't think you'd be able to do that. But good job." I said between breaths. She helped pick me up and smiled at me. I smiled back at her, but it quickly disappeared when I saw the shield faltering more than usual. "Fluttershy, we need to get to Cadance and the others." I said.

She nodded her head and we flew to the castle. The crystal ponies were running towards the castle in fright. Things were not looking good. We landed on the balcony where the others were standing around waiting for Twilight. "The Crystal Heart will be here any minute." Applejack said.

"I don't think they believe you." Rarity said.

"I don't think I believe me."

I looked to Fluttershy who just looked...normal. She didnt seem frightened or shocked or anything. And then the shield fell. I looked to see what happened to Cadance. Her horn had stopped glowing and she looked like she passed out in Shining Armor's hooves.

Come on, Twilight. I thought. It's not just the Empire. It's Fluttershy's and mine's lives as well. There was no sign of her and for the first time in a long time, I felt defeated.

"I got it! I got the Crystal Heart!" I heard Spike shout down from the top of the castle. I looked up and smiled as I saw him start to jump down to us. We almost had it, and then he slipped and began to fall.

"Spikey Wikey!" I heard Rarity exclaim. I was just about to take off and grab him and the heart, but Shining Armor beat me to it by throwing Cadance at it.

Thats...one way I guess. I thought as she soared towards the heart. Sombra had taken his full form and was close to getting the heart. Cadance was just a little bit faster though, and grabbed both of them out of the air.

"Yes!" I shouted. I couldn't help it. Cadance sent the heart to the center of the castle and it hovered in place as the crystal ponies kneeled in front of it. There was a giant wave that surged through me and I felt different. I noticed that all of my friends had turned into crystal ponies.

"Oh my stars! I can't believe it!" Rarity exclaimed happily.

I rolled my eyes with a smile and looked to Fluttershy. She was just as crystally as the rest of us and was still here with me. That's all I could have asked from this. We beat Sombra, and we beat Clarrise. We both breathed a sigh of relief and hugged each other tight.

"I can't believe we did it." she said.

"Yeah. It was close, but we did it." I said. We left the embrace and headed inside the castle to find Twilight. After we were sure that the Empire was safe, we returned to the train station and left the the Empire behind us. Along with our crystal appearance, which Rarity was a bit upset about.

"I do so wish it was permanent. Did you see how my mane just absolutely sparkled?" I heard her say.

"But some things are better when they're a Rarity." Applejack said with a wink. I couldn't help but laugh a little. If you need advice, Applejack, talk to me. I thought. I liked to Fluttershy who seemed a mix of happiness and sadness.

"You okay?" I asked, putting a hoof around her.

"Oh, I'm fine. I just found it strange that we didn't find my mom at all." she said.

"Well, according to the Doctor, since we beat Sombra, she should leave us alone." I said.

"When did he say that?" she asked.

"I bumped into him while he did a full scan of the city. He said if he found her, he'd deal with her."

"Okay. And did he?"

"I don't know. I haven't seen him since. But I'm sure it'll all be fine. We defeated her biggest ally, so she's basically powerless." I said reassuringly.

"I wouldn't count her out just yet." Fluttershy said quietly. I shrugged it off as we boarded the train. She had very good reasons to be worried about her mom, so I didn't think much of it. We were both exhausted, so I decided to pull her in close and fall asleep on the way home. For the first time in awhile, I could have sleep without fear of being attacked.

The train screeched to a halt and woke me up. Fluttershy was already up and moving around, along with the others. I yawned as I pushed myself up off the seat. My neck was stiff from the ride, but it was still a better sleep than what I was getting most nights. We walked out of the train and started to head home. "Mind if I walk you home?" I asked Fluttershy.

"Oh, no! Of course you can. I actually want to show you something. She said with a wink. I smiled as we walked to her house. Most of Ponyville was still gazing at the lights being emitted from the Crystal Empire. None of them had seen it before and it really was an amazing sight.

We arrived at her house and she opened the door. When I walked in she kissed me and pushed me to the couch. She closed the door and locked it. When she turned to me, her eyes were glazed over again and I jumped up. "Fluttershy!" I exclaimed before getting thumped on the back of the head and everything went black.