• Published 16th Jan 2013
  • 92,886 Views, 1,886 Comments

Hard Reset - Eakin



Twilight gives her life to stop a changeling invasion. Repeatedly.

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If at First You Don't Succeed...

If At First You Don’t Succeed...

Here’s the thing about pain.

Pain hurts.

Pain hurts a lot.

Most ponies don’t appreciate that I deal with this kind of thing frequently in my line of work. “Oh, Twilight Sparkle lives in a library and spends all her time with a nose in a book,” they probably say. “She’s a spoiled rotten little Princess’ pet,” they probably say. “She couldn’t possibly know what pain is. Not like us, we like to run into things and smash our faces into walls. What could hurt more than that?”

Well guess what? Unless those ponies have channeled the raw energies of creation through their forehead, and had it blow up in their face? They don’t know what the buck they’re talking about.

I groan. It’s the only appropriate reaction to the army of overweight earth ponies that have apparently decided to tap dance (poorly) around the inside of my skull.

“Well that didn’t work,” says Spike. My friend. My number one assistant. And right at this moment, my tormentor. All I can do is groan again in response.

I planned all of this out so carefully. I double checked all my calculations, then I triple checked my double checking.

The day started out so well, too. Back in Canterlot again, after too many years. Well, three years. Three too many, even if I’ve spent them in Ponyville making the greatest friends I could ever hope to know.

On the other hoof, how many of these books could I have read in three years? At least a couple thousand, easily. That’s why I’m glad to be back here in the Canterlot Library, suddenly finding myself with unfettered access to every single dusty old tome of ancient wisdom in the archives and restricted sections by royal decree. It’s only for a few days, but a part of me wishes it could last forever. There’s just so much new magic to try out here, and I want to test every single bit of it.

Come on, don’t tell me that if you had access to a spell that claimed to let you manipulate the flow of space and time, you wouldn’t try to cast it.

“I am never casting another spell that claims it will let me manipulate the flow of space and time.” I say, definitively as I can manage through the mana hangover. Because seriously, ow.

“Did it at least do anything before it exploded in your face? Or between when it exploded in your face and when it exploded in your face again?” Spike asks. He seems earnest. I’m never completely sure when he’s being sarcastic. A spell can’t explode in the caster’s face twice, obviously. Although if it could I bet it would feel a whole lot like this.

“I don’t think so, Spike. I don’t understand, Starswirl the Bearded was supposed to have personally crafted this spell for viewing alternate timelines but it doesn’t seem to have actually done anything,” I say. There’s no chance I got any detail of the spell wrong. That probably sounds a little arrogant. But I checked and double checked and even quadruple checked every element of this spell. From the circle of chalk that I drew around me, now faded and broken, to the finest details on each rune I inscribed, now wiped away by the torrent of arcane energy that I pointed, channeled, and directed through them.

Fine. It was an experimental spell. Hardly more than a working theory than anything even with all of the notes Starswirl left pertaining to it. You have to expect this sort of setback when you’re dealing with theoretical spellcraft, right? I just need to redouble my efforts, study even harder, forsake all material desires and comforts until I master-

“Uh, Twilight? I think it’s about time for us to grab lunch, don’t you?” suggests Spike. Silly dragon. Just because it’s... wow, 3:00 PM? Already? My treasonous stomach is rumbling, to an extent that I can no longer ignore. You win this round, biological necessities.

Spike and I leave the castle and go wandering through Canterlot. It’s an endlessly fascinating city, full of museums, history, and stories of the past.

It’s also full of other ponies. A long time ago I wouldn’t have considered them worthy of my attention. Now, thanks to my advanced friendship training, I can confirm that there is in fact a world outside of my own head. Most importantly at the moment, a few of those ponies can make an excellent rosepetal and daffodil salad with hay fries. There are maybe three establishments that know how I like it made, all conveniently within a half-mile radius of Canterlot Castle. What are the odds?

The odds are, in fact, 7.3 to 1 after you take into account Canterlot zoning ordinances and the economics of the surrounding neighborhoods. Don’t ask me whether I’ve done the math. I always do the math.

We’re in no real rush, so after a long meandering stroll we get our food from the furthest of the three, The Grassy Knoll, and sit down at a table out on the sidewalk. It’s a nice day, the salad is delicious, and there’s a cool breeze blowing through my mane. The grumpy mood I hadn’t even realized I was in is lifting. I glance over at Spike, munching away on a sapphire across from me. I’m reminded, yet again, that he knows me better than I know myself.

I lean over and give Spike a quick peck on the cheek. He coughs on a shard of gemstone and squirms. “Cut it out, Twilight. What was that for?” he asks. He’s so cute when he gets all embarrassed, it’s almost too easy.

“Just because. Thanks for all your help at the library today. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Now he’s blushing and mumbling something under his breath about mushy, sappy unicorns. I just chuckle and go back to eating my salad, watching the ponies around me going about their day to day business. Most of them are students or professors from one of the nearby universities, if I don’t miss my guess. They’re all wrapped up in their own thoughts and conversations, and there are plenty of near-collisions where neither party notices they’re on course to walk into one another until it’s almost too late. Not that I’m one to talk. I once walked into an open pit, complete with flashing lights and warning signs, just because I had my nose buried in a book.

In my defense, it was a really good account about the finer points of fungal reproduction.

Sure, today started out a little rough but now that I’ve got a full stomach and a little bit of perspective it’s looking up again. My friends are probably on the train from Ponyville right now, and they’ll be here in a couple hours. I’m not sure Mom and Dad are looking forward to having all five of them stay over for the night, but they say they’ve been wanting to spend some time getting to know them for a while so I’m sure everything will work out. Plus, Shining and Cadence said we could use their apartment while they were out of town so there’s extra space if we need it.

I tell myself to stop looking for problems to solve. Stop worrying all the time. I’m in the greatest city in Equestria on a gorgeous autumn afternoon with the whole rest of the day wide open to enjoy. It’s going to be great.

“Hey, Twilight? Do you hear that?” asks Spike.

I listen. Dragon ears are pretty sensitive. I don’t hear any... wait, yes I do. There’s a noise, an undertone, distinct from the regular sounds of ponies bustling about the city. A raspy, humming sound carried along on the crisp afternoon breeze.

“It sounds like something’s buzzing. What is that?” I ask. Looking up, I can see dark shapes moving in the sky between the rooftops. From down here they look like pegasi but the silhouettes aren’t quite right. They’re a little too angular to be ponies, and I can’t make out any wings. The way they’re moving is subtly off, too. They aren’t moving like ponies. I get the impression of an insect, no, a swarm of insects, though I couldn’t say why that particular word comes to mind.

Somepony a few tables over screams at the top of her lungs. The ice tea her waiter was bringing over a moment ago clatters to the ground. The waiter himself is halfway through a transformation, still partially enveloped in the glowing green field of magic passing through him. When the wave passes, what remains isn’t a pony at all, but a twisted mockery of one.

“Changeling!” shouts somepony at the top of her lungs. It takes a moment to register that it’s me.

The monster hisses and before the other mare’s scream has faded from my ears it bursts into action, catapulting itself towards her. She can’t even react before it slams into her and she falls over, upending the table she’s seated at as the changeling wraps its fanged jaws around her neck. The table topples over and blessedly obstructs my view of what comes next, but the way her scream degrades into a sick gurgling sound before it’s suddenly cut off for good leaves little to the imagination.

Her scream is replaced by others up and down the street as the swarm descends. This is impossible. There are least eight reasons why this should be impossible. First off-

“Twilight, We have to get out of here,” says Spike, derailing my train of thought. I nod and we turn to run. By unspoken agreement we head in the direction of the palace. If there’s one place in the city that will be well protected, that’s it. We gallop as fast as our legs will carry us, and I try not to hear the cries of desperation from the ponies around us as changelings fall upon them. A loose cobblestone flies over my head, only inches from my horn. I didn’t see who threw it but it strikes the front window of a boutique on the corner, which shatters and sends jagged glass flying everywhere. I don’t think I’m cut, but I don’t think I would notice if I was either.

We’re still a quarter mile from the castle gates when a half dozen changelings drop out of the sky and into our path, barring our way. They advance on the two of us cautiously, rather than trying to overwhelm us by rushing in. Do they remember us from last time?

Spike and I turn to retreat the way we came, but there are more changelings back that way. Some of them have finished off the ponies they had initially attacked and they begin turning their attention back to us, moving to block that avenue of escape.

“Twi, over there,” says Spike. He nods his head in the direction of an alleyway wedged between a grocery store and a bowling alley. From here I can’t see where it goes, or even if it dead ends a few yards in. But there aren’t any changelings between us and it.

“OK, on three, we make a break for it,” I say. In the corner of my eye I see Spike shake his head.

“No. You get to the castle and I’ll keep them from following you. Get to the Princess and... I don’t know. Magic something up. You’ll figure it out, you always do.”

“I’m not leaving you here.”

“Hey, I’m a dragon. They aren’t going to get me without a fight. In fact, I bet I can take the whole army by myself. You better hurry and figure out a solution to all this before I beat them all down with one claw tied behind my back, right?” he tries to put a brave face on it, but he can’t hide how scared he is.

I can’t answer right away, but I don’t have the luxury of time, either. Some of those changelings are getting pretty close. Everything about this is wrong. But that cold, logical, detached part of my mind tells me that he’s right. “I love you so much, Spike.” What else is there to say?

“I love you too, Twilight. Tell the others how much I love them too, OK? You know, in case I’m not done beating up changelings by the time they get here,” he says. I wish I could hug him, one more time, but those things would be on us in a moment if I did. I almost do anyway.

I bolt for the alleyway. Spike is screaming taunts at the monsters in the street. I feel a burst of heat from behind me and the whole world is colored green as he lets loose a burst of dragonfire. Almost there. An unpony shriek fills the air, but cries of pain and fear are universal and I know that the fire found its target. I can’t look back to confirm.

I round the corner and I’m in the alleyway. It isn’t a dead end, thank the Princesses. There’s a literal light at the end of the tunnel. I tune out the noises coming from behind me. I can’t think about that, not now. Have to get to the palace. Have to stop all this, somehow. Fix it. I burst into the street ahead and find...

A dozen more changelings, all looking at me.

They don’t hesitate like the last group did. One of them pounces before I can think of a new plan. A reflexive burst of magic knocks it back, but the others take the opportunity to surround me. I try to watch them all as best I can, but it’s only seconds before one tackles me to the ground. There’s an out. There has to be. I can teleport away, somewhere safe until I can figure out my next move.

I’m assembling the necessary components of the spell in my mind when a jolt of pain sweeps in and obliterates everything else. One of those things just drove their gnarled imitation of a hoof into my side and I swear I feel three of my ribs cracking, each one a distinct concerto of agony. Now it hurts to even breathe, and I’m worthless. It’s all I can do to look up at the palace, so close and yet impossibly far away. I can see the pegasi of the royal guard darting about, knocking changelings from the sky. The swarm is too thick. They’re falling back, slowly giving ground. It’s only a matter of time until they fall. Then my view is obscured as one of the changelings walks up to me, studies me.

It changes into me, or an imitation of me at least. It’s still studying me, trying to figure out my twitches and mannerisms when two more changelings step into view. One of them makes a dry heaving noise, and it takes me a few moments to realize that it’s supposed to be laughter. I want to blow them apart, to take some of them with me, but every single twitch I make is agony. I’m just not strong enough to fight through it.

I never expected my life to end this way.

Any fear the changelings had of me is gone now. I can’t see the ones biting at my flank, but I can feel their fangs tearing away. Through my fading vision, I can see one of them standing above me, until it lowers its head and I feel pressure tighten around my neck. There’s more pressure, then the worst pain I’ve ever felt, then everything is over.

------------

This isn’t fair, being dead isn’t supposed to hurt this much. My eyes are already closed, but I squeeze them shut even tighter. It hurts as much as having that spell blow up in my face earlier this afternoon.

Actually... It hurts exactly that much, no more, no less, and in exactly the same way. My throat and ribs feel fine, but oh Celestia my head...

“Well that didn’t work.”

That voice, I’d know it anywhere. I thought I’d never hear it again. I can ignore the pain for this. I snap my eyes open and sure enough there’s my number one assistant standing there, unhurt.

“Spike!” I half say and half moan. The word sounds slurred as it leaves my mouth. I’m pretty wobbly on my hooves, is that because of blood loss? But it can’t stop me from lunging for him and wrapping him in the biggest hug I can manage. It hurts but it’s worth it. “I love you so much Spike, I’m so glad you’re OK.”

“Geez, what did that spell do to you? I’m fine,” he says sounding mostly surprised and annoyed. How can he be like that after what just happened?

I take a good look around. I’m in the library. The restricted section, to be specific, exactly where I’d been a few hours ago when the spell blew up in my face. In fact, I’m standing in the remains of the circle I’d drawn up to cast it, still smoldering with occult power.

Did the spell work? Did it actually show me an alternate timeline where Canterlot gets invaded by changelings? I’ve used divination spells to try to see the future before, but I’ve never felt anything like that. It was so real...

“Twilight? Do you think maybe you could put me down now?” asked Spike. I comply, letting him back down onto the floor. I glance at the clock, which reads 3 PM. None of it was real, after all. I’m OK. It’s all going to be OK. I lower Spike to the floor and my stomach rumbles. I’m hungry again. Spike can tell. “Want to head over to the Grassy Knoll and grab a salad or something?” he asks.

“NO!” I shout more forcefully than I should. “I mean... let’s just grab something quick from the kitchen. No need to walk down into town.” I don’t want to admit the real reason I don’t want to go into town. It sounds ridiculous, even as I play it back in my head. I should tell somepony what I saw, probably. But not right now. Right now I don’t want to be away from Spike for a moment longer than I have to be. I think he’s noticed me hovering, walking a little closer to him than I usually do, but I don’t care.

It’s only a few minutes walk to get from the library to the kitchen. Chef Amuse Bouche greets me heartily, and asks what he can get us to eat. I let him know that we’re only looking for a few snacks to tide us over until dinner. He doesn’t have to trouble himself, I’m happy to make it.

He refuses, as he always does. I usually can’t stand being fawned over like this, treated differently just because I happen to be the Princess’ student (Maybe I make an exception when access to rare books is on the line. Don’t judge me). But it’s clear that the chef takes the greatest pride in what he does, and the idea of allowing merely ‘good’ food to be made in his kitchen by anypony appalls him to his core. It takes only seconds before two plates are ready. Emeralds embedded in a block of quartz for Spike, and a lily-and-azalea sandwich for me. I thank him, and even Spike looks up long enough to mutter something vaguely resembling ‘thank you’ through a mouthful of crystals before we move into the dining room.

The food is phenomenal, of course, and gone too quickly. There’s no rush to get back to the library though. After what I saw earlier I find that I just feel better about everything, like I just got a second chance. Colors are richer, music sounds sweeter, and all is right with the world. Spike and I sit and chat about nothing in particular for nearly an hour, and I’m hanging on every word.

Maybe that spell was the best thing that could happen to me. I’m like Palomino Scrooge from A Hearth’s Warming Eve Carol, given a dark vision of a potential future so I can better appreciate what I have. I’m so happy I don’t even care how overwrought and melodramatic that probably sounds.

There’s a deep rumbling, and the castle shakes to its very foundation. A plate vibrates its way off the table beside us and crashes to the floor, breaking into a dozen pieces. A concerned murmur is making its way through the other ponies in the room.

“Everypony, please remain calm,” the guard’s voice rings out through the room. “The situation is under control, but we need you all to remain here and stay away from the windows.”

The castle shakes again. Nopony believes the guard’s lie, but none of them know what to do either. I ignore the warning and head for the nearest window. Not knowing is worse than any horror that could be out there. The guards shout out to me to stop but they don’t move to restrain me.

I shouldn’t be able to recognize the dark shapes crawling along Canterlot’s streets from this distance, but I can. Changelings. Was that what the spell was supposed to be, a warning? Did I waste it? Could I have stopped this?

“Twilight,” comes a voice from across the room. I spin around. It’s exactly the voice I need to hear right now. The voice that can fix all of this. The voice that can do anything.

Standing there in the doorway, flanked by a squad of royal guard ponies on either side, is Princess Celestia.

“Come quickly, my faithful student, there’s no time to lose. We have to get to the Elements of Harmony if we’re going to stop this invasion,” she says. She turns to go without waiting for a response and begins to trot towards the center of the castle.

I spare just a moment to tell Spike to stay put before I follow her. This is what I should have done in the first place, gone to the Princess. Maybe she could have stopped all this before it happened. Everything will be fine now. Except...

“Princess, how are we going to use the Elements of Harmony without my friends? They won’t be here until later tonight, and by then it might be too late,” I say. For a moment, the Princess seems a bit surprised. I could have sworn I told her my friends were coming into Canterlot tonight.

“Astute as always, my faithful student. I’ve used the Elements on my own once before, and I’m sure with both of us here we’ll be able to cobble something together and save Equestria,” says Celestia. I suppose that makes sense. I can feel that the Princess is concealing something, putting on a brave face to avoid telling me and the guards around us that she’s just as surprised by this invasion as we are. That’s probably it.

The sounds of battle grow louder as we get closer to the vault. I even notice a few glimmers of magic from Celestia’s horn as we walk. She must be reinforcing the wards around the castle, bless her.

We’re almost at the vault's entrance when we hear a hissing sound from the ceiling behind us. The guards spin around before I can even register the sound in my mind, and a changeling drops from the ceiling. It doesn’t even reach the ground before it’s obliterated by blasts of magic from a half-dozen unicorns, leaving nothing but an ugly scorch mark on the rug behind us.

“The changelings are getting too close, Twilight. The guards and I will stay here and make sure you’re safe while you open the vault door. I did show you how to open it, didn’t I?” asks Celestia. I nod. After the last changeling invasion, Celestia showed both Luna and I how to access the vault in case she was ever incapacitated. There’s no time to waste. I dash ahead of my escort, and lowered my horn to meet the locking mechanism, ready to unseal the ornate door behind which the most powerful artifacts in Equestria are housed.

I hesitate.

Something about this isn’t right. Most of my mind is screaming at me to open the door to our salvation, but I can’t shake the nagging idea that none of this adds up.

“Hurry up, Twilight!” calls Princess Celestia from down the hall. She’s right, isn’t she? There isn’t time to waste with this nonsense. Unless...

“Actually, Princess, I think you should open the door. I’ll stay with the guards and keep an eye out for intruders,” I say. Surely, the Princess will gallop over and open the door, and all my fears will turn out to be a ridiculous flight of fancy.

“Twilight, I command you to open that door,” hisses Celestia. Or at least the thing that looks like Celestia.

“The real Celestia has never commanded me to do anything,” I say. It’s a soft and simple truth. The kind that can effortlessly cut through a thousand interwoven lies. The sort of fact that makes up the very bedrock of my own existence and self-worth.

Not-Celestia smirks. It’s an arrogant expression that doesn’t fit the face of the mentor I know and love. She nods to the ponies beside her, and all but one of them transform back into their true forms. More changelings. The one unfortunate pegasus guard who just thought he was protecting his regent is overwhelmed before he even knows what’s happening. All I can offer him is a quick prayer that his demise is relatively painless as I look away. “You really are a clever one, aren’t you, Twilight Sparkle?” asks Not-Celestia. “A pity. I could have saved a few hours if you’d opened this door for me. I’ve left plenty of other ponies alive for future snacking. You, I think, are too dangerous to join them. You seem annoyingly adept at seeing through my veils.”

“Queen Chrysalis, we meet again,” I say. Really? That’s the best line I can come up with? I chide myself and promise to do better next time. As if there’s going to be a next time. I was even given a warning that this was about to happen and I wasted it, couldn’t recognize it for what it was. I stopped Chrysalis from using me to open the door to the Elements of Harmony, but in the end I failed again.

“For the last time, yes. Lucky for you I’m too busy to stretch this out.” says Chrysalis. She nods to her honor guard and they charge. I’m pinned to a wall before I know it. By some unspoken signal the changelings stop. Maybe they can communicate on a frequency ponies can’t hear? Could be a useful avenue for future research, not that I’m likely to get a chance to pursue it. Chrysalis steps into the center of my vision, and the world is tinged green as she wraps a field of magic around my head.

“Goodbye, Twilight Sparkle,” she says. There’s a wrenching sensation as my head twists of somepony else’s accord, and the last thing I feel is the blood vessels inside my neck snapping and bursting before absolute darkness falls.

------

“Well that didn’t work”

The library. Again.

I get the feeling that my day is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.

I grab Spike in a magic field and yank him off of his seat and out the door, nearly bowling over an unfortunate librarian in the process. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if the Changelings are going to come again. I don’t know who to trust if they do. But right now I have to get out of there.

I know it’s the cowardly choice. So many ponies will die, but there’s nothing I can do that will save them. Maybe I can get word out to a military base somehow, and they can come reinforce the city. It’s a long shot, but I don’t know what other options I have.

Spike is shouting at me to slow down and stop as I drag him through the streets, ignoring the looks the other ponies are giving me. They don’t know what might be about to happen, and even if I had time to do so I wouldn’t take that innocence away from them. Besides, who knows which one of them might be another changeling in disguise?

The closest encampment I can think of is Fort Trottingham, about two and a half hours away in the town of the same name. Lucky me there’s a shuttle leaving in that direction in just a few minutes. I buy two tickets at the station, tossing a hoofful of golden bit coins onto the counter and running off without waiting for change. It’s only after I’ve boarded the train and collapsed into a seat that I finally stop.

I withdraw my magic and let Spike go. He’s not happy with me. “What in Tartarus was that about Twilight? Where are we going all of a sudden?” he asks. I wish I had a better answer than the truth.

“Spike, I just need you to trust me,” I say. The train shudders as it starts to pull away from the platform and I have a chance to glance around. It’s an awfully full train for the middle of the afternoon. That’s good. Fewer ponies who will have to endure the fate I’ve seen for this city. Ponies who don’t know how lucky they are yet.

“Did that spell do something to you? Here, let me check your pupils,” says Spike. He brings a claw up to my face but I swat it away. I know what spell madness feels like, and this isn’t that.

“No, I’m... the spell didn’t do anything to me, I promise. It just showed me what was going to happen. Not just showed me, I lived it. Changelings invaded Canterlot. Are going to invade Canterlot, in less than an hour. I tried to fight them off but they...” I trail off. I don’t want to remember those last couple minutes if I can help it. “...After they got me I was back in the library and I thought it was just a crazy dream. But then it happened again. It was different, I tried to make it different I mean, but it turned out the same and then I was back at the library again. It always makes me go back to the library.”

“Even if that’s true, we can’t just run away. Let’s tell the Princess what happens. She can help.”

“No, don’t you get it? They’ve already gotten to her! We can’t trust anypony,” I hiss under my breath, trying to keep myself under control. I glance around to make sure nopony else has noticed us, and when I look back at Spike I can tell that he’s evaluating me. No, why beat around the bush? He’s judging me.

“Look Twilight, I know that what happened at the wedding last year was pretty bad, but maybe we can talk about this rationally instead of-”

“I’m not crazy!” I shout, loud enough that the statement is counterproductive. There’s a clatter from the seat across from us, ceramic on ceramic. When I turn my head to see where the sound is coming from, I see two stallions and a mare staring intently at the spilled cup of tea in front of them. They’re focusing very hard on looking in any direction except mine. “We can talk about this more when we get to Trottingham. Let’s just... not... until then.”

I turn to look out the window rather than face Spike again just now. I can imagine what he’s thinking. It’s true that I’ve tended to overreact a few times before. Maybe more than a few times. But this isn’t like that. He’ll see that I’m right, of course, once it’s too late to do any good. Until then, I’d rather just stare out at the world going by than say anything.

The countryside is beautiful. Every tree is an explosion of colors, even as the flowers look to be getting ready to wilt away and die. They die every year, and then come back. Temporary and yet permanent at the same time. Funny how I’ve never noticed it before. I’ve always been wrapped up in my own thoughts. Now that I desperately want to be anywhere other than inside my own head, though, I find the world suddenly worth observing.

My newfound appreciation for the unexceptional doesn’t last for all that long. Soon enough we’re only a few miles from Trottingham. I’m busy running through arguments in my head trying to figure out the best way to phrase ‘help me save everypony from the hostile shapeshifter invasion' to the ponies I’ll need assistance from, when the interior of the train is suddenly bathed in a harsh and unforgiving light. A moment later the entire carriage vibrates as if something massive has just slammed into us. A dozen ponies, too curious to respect the social protocols that usually govern relations between passengers, climb over each other to cluster around the windows on the far side of the carriage. I don’t need to. Through their craning necks I can see a wall of white crackling fire and magical energy that seems to expand as it races towards us. Everything in its path disappears into the blinding light as it carves a path through the surrounding countryside.

I’m a scientist at heart. I don’t normally deal in hunches and intuition. But I somehow know, without any explicit evidence yet also without any doubt, that this wave of unfathomable power started in Canterlot. I also know that it won’t stop before it devours our train and all of Equestria beyond. I barely even have time to squeeze my eyes closed before it’s upon us, burning away everything I know and any hope I carried with me of changing the future.

Author's Note:

Special thanks to Skywriter for writing the Skin Horse story that inspired this in the first place.

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