• Published 6th Sep 2011
  • 19,721 Views, 537 Comments

Substitute Harmony - blayzekohime

Pinkie's friends disappear and Pinkie must find others to try to help her defeat their ponynappers.

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Chapter 4: Backtracking

Back to Day One

Twilight Sparkle’s head spun as Twilight Wish teleported her. The place where they arrived was dark, but was immediately lit as the later pony’s horn was aglow. Being teleported by somepony else wasn’t exactly a premium way to travel, so her legs felt ready to give way as soon as they arrived.

Still, Twilight was not a typical pony, so the experience didn’t cause her to collapse. She was looking about almost immediately. It seemed she was in what looked like the interior of an ancient ruin; it was very much like the Palace of the Royal Pony Sisters that she had once entered along with her friends.

The design was similar, but somehow it seemed older. There was lettering and symbols on the walls that she didn’t recognize as any form of language spoken by ponies, though it all seemed familiar, as if it were just an older version of what they now had. The air was stale, incredibly so, as if it had stagnated here for a long time without any circulation. Indeed, there was no sign of windows, so perhaps they were underground entirely; it would explain why she had never heard of a place like this.

Twilight took a deep breath of the musty air and gagged, taking a few moments to adjust to the stench. She covered her mouth with a hoof momentarily, and then turned to look at the other unicorn. She still had no definite reason to assume that she was mistaken in their identity; after all they had only teleported her, but one question was prominent on her mind.

“Wish, where are we? How did you even know about a place like this?” Sparkle carefully asked, taking a single step away. Wish had seemed clueless about most things in the world up to this point, asking questions about even the most basic things, such as why ponies were moving clouds around, so to suddenly find out she had knowledge of an incredibly ancient ruin was a stretch.

“I stumbled across the outer entrance one day while exploring in the forest, it’s a long way to this point, so I teleported us. There’s no time to explain,“ Wish shook her head, “All I can say is that you are in great danger. Please… trust me.” Wish gave Sparkle as serious an expression as she could, then turned and rushed down the hallway of the ruin.

Sparkle didn’t question her strange friend’s assertion, though she had other questions, “You found an expansive ruin and explored the whole thing without ever telling anypony?”

“Look, I was scared okay?” Wish called back, “Please just follow me? You’ll understand in just a few minutes.”

They walked from the room they were in, which was largely empty aside from a row of broken stone shelves on one side of the room. The hallway they emerged into was lined on its opposite wall with small rooms that looked as if they were temporary guest quarters. They looked as if they might have at one time been comfortable, but now fabric was rotted away leaving only the barebones of a cushion-less stone bed.

To the left were more rooms lining each side of the hallway At the end of said left branch there was a large room where Sparkle could not get a good look due to the darkness there. Down the hallway to the right, however, there was a large blue glow from the chamber at the end. It is this chamber that Wish led her to.

They arrived at a round chamber about twenty feet in diameter, pausing momentarily. There was a large blue pad in the center of the room, glowing with energy, a swirling blue vortex located directly above it. Sparkle immediately stared into it as if unable to pull her eyes away, but Wish used a hoof to turn her head away immediately.

“No! Don’t look directly into it for too long or you'll go insane,” Wish said, “Twilight… now this is important. Do you trust me?”

Sparkle looked at Wish, stunned as she spoke, “I do. You’ve helped me a lot over the past few weeks, but…”

“Then please do not question this,” Wish gave a deep sigh, pulling a blindfold from a bag that appeared to have already been placed nearby the portal, using her magic to move it and place it on Twilight’s head, “I am going to lead you…”

“Shouldn’t you be blindfolded too?” Sparkle asked curiously, not wanting her friend to sacrifice her own sanity.

“I am blindfolded now as well,” lied Wish, “But I know the way so I can still lead you; Now prop yourself carefully on me.”

Sparkle moved one hoof out to feel, finding Wish’s behind and propping herself up onto it so that she could be led. She heard the other unicorn let out a sigh of relief, but she couldn’t determine why. This was more than a little awkward for her.

Wish couldn’t be happier. She had half-expected Sparkle not to fall for her ruse, expecting a full on fight when she didn't. She had been worried that Sparkle would outmatch her even if she got in the first blow, as she suspected that this unicorn was dangerously powerful in a way she couldn’t match. She had heard enough stories of what Sparkle had done to be more than wary of her.

Wish having been able to spend so much time ahead of this with Sparkle had made it a breeze, as there had been plenty of time to gain her trusts with a few pretend sacrifices on her part, even going so far as summoning several slime monsters to attack Spike so that she could arrive and ‘save’ him. What’s more, it seemed to her that she was the first to arrive back at the portal, which would make her look better to Him when she arrived back with her captive in a neat bundle with barely a scratch on her.

She led Twilight into the vortex while keeping her own eyes closed. The space around them became chill as they were both sucked in, feeling as if their whole forms had been compressed for a moment and then released. For a moment they both felt paralyzed and neither of them dared to open their eyes.

Once on the other end, they arrived at a ruin much like the one they had left. Twilight, of course, did not see this.

“Should I take it off?” Sparkle asked, uncertain.

“Not yet. Please be patient,” Wish spoke in as kind a voice as she could muster, but her excitement couldn’t be easily hidden.

Twilight was led away from the blue vortex from which they had emerged, which looked very much like the one they had entered. Sparkle noted as she stepped down from the platform that it seemed to be similar height and shape as the other one, and assumed that this was a ruin of much the same architecture as well. However, if the smell was anything to go by, it had been recently cleaned up and inhabited. The clean smelling, warm air made it feel quite homey.

Sparkle was led forward, guided into what she assumed was another hallway. They paused after perhaps ten feet, at which time she heard the grinding of a metal door sliding open, clanging loudly as it hit its stop, echoing through the hallway.

Sparkle was then turned and led inside. Finally she noted her cousin coming to a stop and turning so that her own hooves slid off Wish’s behind and settled back to the stone floor.

“Now?” Sparkle asked again, “Look, Wish. I do not like this one bit, and if these are more ruins I really want to see them.”

There was no answer. Instead, there was the telltale sound of a horn glowing and the rattle of chains as all four of Sparkle’s hooves were suddenly champed tightly and pulled apart. She stumbled, yelping out loudly, the sound echoing through the dark stone walls. Another tight brace locked around her hips and shoulders to hold her tightly, still another choking around her neck to pull it upwards. The chains were flush to her skin, and felt so rusty that Twilight was afraid she would be cut. She was lifted up off the floor, still unable to see, her legs now kicking wildly.

“Wish!” Sparkle called, at first seeming to think that someone had captured them both. Her first instinct was to use her magic to pull the blindfold off, except that it didn’t work. When she tried to use her magic, pain trickled up through the chains that held her, as if they were stopping the magic from working or immediately draining any charge that she built up.

Wish used her own magic to tighten the blindfold harshly, knowing that Twilight couldn’t target her spells now without line of sight even if she did figure out a work around for the chains. A powerful unicorn might be able to make exception to this, but only if she knew the layout of the area she was in, not to mention the magical chains seemed impervious. Twilight heard the voice of her cousin in one ear, her breath causing her ear to flick about.

“You always were a bit naïve, ‘friend’,” a smirk was apparent in Wish’s voice, and it finally became apparent to Sparkle that the culprit was actually Wish herself

“You’re not my friend!” Twilight cried out. Her horn glowed, trying to tug at the chains that held her. She had no luck, as the anti-magical enchantment seemed to resist her efforts, each attempt only wrecking more pain through her, making her cry out yet again at the sudden intensity.

“Oh, and you’ve just figured this out!” Wish laughed, then could be heard trotting slowly back towards the exit, “Don’t bother with the chains, they’re magically bound and have held far more powerful ponies than you. So is the door. And I know how dangerous you are as a group, so I can assure you that your friends will not be kept in the same cell.” There was a grinding sound as the cage door slid shut again. “There are no books in there. Sorry; I guess you’ll just have a lot of time to dread your impending death.”

“Why would you do this?” Sparkle gasped, tears rolling down her face now. Being in danger herself was one thing, but now she had the sickening feeling that she had also endangered her friends.

“Because you are a monster,” Wish’s voice now sounded venomous, “As are all of the Favored Child’s followers. Don’t act like you wouldn’t do the same to me if your precious Princess commanded it.”

“No Wish, let’s talk,” Sparkle attempted, “Wish, you’ve gotten something wrong, just tell me what you’ve been told and I can straighten things out.”

The only answer was the sound of hooves leaving down the hallway towards the other end, the one opposite the passage that they had entered through.

“WISH!” Sparkle screamed in frustration, thrashing once again as the energy from her frustration only caused her to be jolted with pain again.


Later that day

Fluttershy woke up groggily from the sleeping potion. She wasn’t in as bad a place as Twilight had been placed, at least, either due to the difference in who placed them there or simply because Fluttershy was not considered as much of a threat. The stone bed she was on wasn’t particularly comfortable, having only minimal padding that was nearly rotted away, but it also wasn’t painful. She blinked awake to see the same yellow earth pony that she had met before at her home, who was leaned over the bed, trying to shake Fluttershy awake with a single hoof.

“Are you awake? Please wake up I need your help,” Posey spoke quietly, shaking Fluttershy.

Fluttershy immediately cringed at the sight of the pony that had brought her here, barely managing to speak, “Oh my… where have you taken me?”

“No chit chat!” called Firefly from outside the cell door, “Get her out here NOW! I think the rainbow one is dying. And not a WORD about my coat, either!”

Firefly glared angrily from outside the cell, her coat and wings singed noticeably, but fortunately for her not lethally so, perhaps not even enough to impact short distance flying. Still, ponies tended to take a lot of pride in their pastel coloring and Firefly was no different.

“I… Look I am sorry about before, but we need your help,” Posey spoke again, “You’re a doctor right? Well your friends are hurt badly and we need your help.”

Fluttershy gasped, immediately wide awake, “H-hurt? Dying?"

Fluttershy didn’t ask any more questions, standing up as quickly as she could and ignoring her dizziness. Posey moved to help her walk out of the cage door and into the long stone hallway, past an impatient looking Firefly.

“Move it you two before I decide to add you to the injured list!” Firefly barked out behind her, swiping a fore-hoof at Fluttershy’s behind.

She had intentionally missed, not wanting to hurt the doctor if frightening her was enough. It was, but Fluttershy was already hurrying as fast as she could after hearing that one or more of her friends were injured.

The cells looked as if they had been converted from more conventional guest rooms, the front wall of each torn to be replaced with bars long ago, bars which somehow seemed both old and unblemished, as if they had been enchanted to remain strong. One of the cells appeared to be occupied. Fluttershy spied the shadow of a unicorn that had been restrained by a number of chains and suspended in midair. They were shivering, trying to turn their head without success.

"Oh Celestia, no. Who's hurt?" called Twilight's voice from inside the cell, "Who did you say was dying?"

Fluttershy wasn't allowed to stop and check on Twilight, and she didn't have the heart to answer her friend. Instead she was pushed into another room near the end of the hall. Just before she entered, she glimpsed a swirling blue portal above a platform in the room at the very end of the hallway, but was too distracted to consider it.

As she entered the next room, a gasp of horror escaped Fluttershy. On the table closest to the door lay Rainbow Dash, lying on her left side. The pegasus was clearly in bad condition, having apparently turned her right side into an impact of some kind. Fluttershy had seen Rainbow Dash crash through roofs before and emerge without so much as a scratch, so she couldn't imagine how fast the pegasus must have been going when this happened. Her left wing was bent cruelly out of joint, probably having been saved from a worse break by having done so, but now was hanging limply by flesh. Serious bruising showed through her fur down the entire side of her body from shoulder to flank. Her hind right leg was broken so badly that bone could be seen protruding with a visible lump in the flesh.

On the next table away lay Applejack, who was visibly restrained to keep her from moving from her table. Her injuries consisted of a few impact wounds about her back and flank, but the right side of her head was swollen and bruised much worse. As an earth pony, she had more solid bones than her pegasus friend, so it didn’t appear any of her injuries were in danger of becoming lethal as of yet.

On the third table lay Rarity, restrained there on her side. She was breathing shallowly and had bruises around her neck, as well as scratches about her legs that she obtained during her struggle. All in all, she seemed in the best condition of the lot. There was another unicorn standing beside her who appeared to have the same cutie mark as her, but was obviously a very different pony. This unicorn glanced at the newcomers, but didn’t speak, appearing to be angry at the situation, perhaps at how clumsy some of her teammates had been in causing serious injuries to their targets.

On the final table… wait what? At first Fluttershy thought it was Applejack again. She then realized, however, that it was somepony that looked very similar with a slightly different cutie mark. She had impact wounds about her flanks and legs, plus a few other scratches, but no head trauma as the first Applejack that Fluttershy had seen. She wasn’t restrained despite being the only one on the tables that was fully aware and looking around.

Aside from the row of five rolling metal tables, one of which was empty, the room appeared to be some kind of a medical facility. There was an ancient shelf to one side of the room, stocked with fresh supplies that were carefully labeled and mostly unused. Along the back were a number of strange machines. One looked like it had a helmet and probes to be attached to a pony, which would have made Fluttershy stop and shiver had she not been more interested in helping her friend.

“Oh-oh no!” Fluttershy actually yelled out at the sight of her injured friends, “What happened?”

“Why do you even care what happened?” Firefly angrily shot back, “If any of these die, it’ll be both your heads on a platter!” Firefly wasn’t really angry at the two yellow ponies so much as she was angry at herself. She knew that when Twilight, their Twilight, or their 'master' found out how badly she had hurt Rainbow Dash, things could get ugly for Firefly. If any of the Element carriers died early, after all, their chance might be lost.

“Please… Fluttershy. We have to work together to save them, okay? My medical supplies are here along the wall, but… I’m afraid I don’t know how to use them very well,” Posey looked towards the shelves.

“Pah! You said you were a doctor!” Firefly snorted at Posey, “I sure hope she’s a better one!”

“I said I was a gardener and foal-sitter that sometimes took care of animals, and even those things I haven’t done in a long time due to… well you know the way things are,” Posey quietly pointed out, but then looked to Fluttershy, “But she will help, you’ll see.”

“A-actually I’m more of a veterinarian, but I will do everything I can,” Fluttershy squeaked as she moved to get a closer look at the tables.

Rainbow Dash looked to be the most seriously injured, so Fluttershy looked over to the supplies and ran over to get what she needed, flapping her wings to speed up her movements. She moved to get bandages, braces, salves, and anything else she could before heading back to Rainbow’s table. The amount of magically enchanted medicines was limited, so she took what she could find.

“This is a mess,” Sparkler complained, “I knew you were both clumsy but you idiots really outdid yourselves this time. I’m getting out of here; the stench of failure bothers me.”

“Wait!” Fluttershy called back, though she didn’t turn her head as she was carefully setting Rainbow Dash’s wing back into place, “You’re a unicorn; do you know any healing magic? Can a medical unicorn be fetched?”

“As if,” Sparkler called back before stepping into the hallway, as if healing magic was not shiny enough for her to have ever contemplated.

“I doubt it,” Firefly rolled her eyes at the question about the doctor, “Look. We’re not chancing any more trips into Ponyville than what we had to in order to get you guys. Now work faster!”

Fluttershy continued working even as tears streamed down her face, calling out to Posey when she needed more supplies. The two worked quite well together, in fact, certainly better than Posey could work with any of her own team. Once Rainbow was bundled up and medicated enough to be stable, they moved on to Applejack and Rarity. The former was bandaged about her flank and head and given a head brace. The latter given a neck brace to allow her to rest it, and given a look-over just in case. Surprisingly, at least to Firefly and Posey, Fluttershy also insisted on helping the other Applejack, bundling her legs and flank in Posey’s cute little bandages after medicating the wounds.

“Now stay off these legs for a while, okay?” Fluttershy smiled gently to the second Applejack.

This earned a confused stare from the patient, who stated, “Yeah I can’t promise that. You do realize who I am right?”

“Yes,” Fluttershy affirmed quietly. Fluttershy was naive, but she wasn't stupid; she had put two and two together based on what and who she had seen. “You’re the one that attacked Applejack, but that doesn’t change that you are hurt. Just... please don't hurt them again. I won't forgive you again...”

“Well whatev’,” Applejack glanced at the bandages, obviously not taking Fluttershy's threat seriously, “Wish we had something a bit less foalish.”

Firefly hmph-ed, "You're done, Flutter. It’s time to go back to your cage."

“But I should really see to the patients and make sure that they are okay,” Fluttershy started, "Especially Rainbow Dash, she's going to need constant looking after."

“I said back to the cage!” Firefly brought down a fore-hoof against Fluttershy’s face, slamming her so hard that she stumbled and her head hit the stone floor. The startled squeal she let out could have made the most macho stallion tear up, but Firefly seemed unfazed.

Posey gasped, heading towards Fluttershy, but was blocked by Firefly's outstretched wing. Fluttershy rose slowly to her feet, her face becoming slightly angry, but still looking down at the floor, "Just as long as you don't hurt my friends anymore..."

“Look we only need them healthy long enough to kill them properly,” Firefly rolled her eyes, "Posey, show her to her room and get any information you need to take care of Rainbow."

Fluttershy moved ahead of Posey, though the yellow earth pony was far gentler with Fluttershy. Fluttershy walked quietly back to her cell, moving to the bed and rubbing her new black eye softly. She quietly went over a few suggestions on how to treat Rainbow and the others, but at the end she paused.

"Um, where is Pinkie?" Fluttershy asked, realizing that she was the only one of the six that she hadn't seen.

"Already dead," said a voice from behind Posey; it was Twilight Wish. She gave a glare to Posey, silently warning her not to contradict the statement, then turned to Firefly, "Firefly. He wants to see you."

Absolute terror crossed Firefly's eyes and she looked like she was going to try to fly for it, but in the end she settled back to the floor and followed Twilight down the hall, past Fluttershy's cell and in the direction opposite to the medical chamber. Posey eyed Firefly with worry, glanced back to Fluttershy with guilty eyes, and then turned back to head towards the medical chambers.

And then the hallway was silent save for the quiet crying coming from Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle's cells.


Back with our heroes...

The group of ponies and griffon blacked out momentarily, and when they finally snapped out of it they felt as if they were literally slammed into the floor at their new location. It wasn’t a soft floor, either; it was rather obviously some type of metallic surface. When the six individuals looked about, they were in a completely dark area. There was a stagnant chill about the air, as if it hadn’t been touched by living creatures in a long time, and breathing the stale, cool air was difficult.

“Watch in AWE as the Great and Powerful Trixie defeats the darkness!” Trixie was, predictably, the first to speak, her horn glowing to light the room around them, “Behold, we have journeyed through time and space, complete in tact! Could any other pony perform such a feat?” Even so, not even Trixie could hide the surprise that they were all still alive that was in her voice.

“Can’t you just do something without announcing it?” Gilda rose to her feet, glaring at Trixie, but then looking around, "Or at least just say 'Hey I'm going to turn on the lights'?"

"The Great and Powerful Trixie cannot be referred to with lowly one-letter pronouns!"

It seemed they were in some kind of ancient ruin with stone floor and walls around them. There were strange etchings on the wall that looked like they belonged in another time, or perhaps another world entirely. The large chamber had a metallic blue platform in the middle, which appeared to be some kind of magical device. Whatever it was, it wasn’t turned on at present. Furthermore, they weren't able to see it very well, as Trixie’s horn began to flicker and dim.

“Hey wait,” Ditzy said, “We need the light for the letter!” She waved said letter towards the Pie sisters again, still more worried about her duty as mail mare than their present predicament.

“We do need a lot more light,” Pinkie stood up suddenly, an audible ‘sproing’ noise accompanying the motion, “Maybe we could have an escape party?” She was feeling slightly better, but not by much. The happiness that came with friends defending her was muffled by who they defended her from, or if they had even needed to.

“I think that will have to wait until later,” Inkie calmly stated, reaching out to take Ditzy’s letter, which appeared to be addressed simply to ‘The Pie sisters’, before tearing it open to have a look, “Right. It’s a letter from Dad. He says he’ll ground us if we don’t bring the balloon back in one piece.”

Gilda rolled her eyes, “Aren’t you a bit old to be grounded, dweebs?”

“That means something worse than what you’re thinking,” Pinkie informed Gilda with a nervous chuckle.

“So we’ll wad it up into a ball or something so it'll be in one piece,” Blinkie sneered, then looked over at Trixie, “Worn out I guess? We better get out of this cave as quickly as possible. Inkie do you see any weak spots in the walls?”

“Too many,” Inkie responded, neutrally, “If we break one, we might have the whole place come down on us.”

“Why’d we travel in time and space anyway?” Ditzy asked Trixie, hovering upside down next to her, eyes twirling in opposite circles as she hovered. “Wouldn’t just traveling in space be enough to escape?”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie never settles for half-measures!” Trixie shouted to Ditzy, echoing into the empty hall beyond the room and holding up her fore-hooves in her favorite pose. Unfortunately, the lightning that normally danced around her fizzled out; her magic was going to take a while to recover from her time-space trick. She added with as little humility as she could muster, “However, Trixie has decided that we should exit the premises. Trixie does not want her followers damaged in any way.”

“Whibbley wobbley timey whimey thingie!” Ditzy blurted out her typical non-sense in response, sounding very happy about it.

“Yeah let’s go outside,“ Gilda agreed, angrily, and started towards the only exit to the room, though it didn't seem that promising, “I need more light to smash Pinkie’s face in.”

“I already told you guys, I didn’t do it!” Pinkie spoke, immediately on Gilda’s heels, “Come on Gilda, you know how much I like Rainbow Dash!”

“Don’t remind me,” Gilda venomously shot an evil glare at Pinkie, seeming even more enraged by the reminder.

“Well upon reasoning, the Great and Powerful Trixie does not really see how the Pink One could have defeated the Twilight Sparkle,” Trixie agreed, galloping ahead of Gilda, insisting on being in the front, “Thus Trixie will give you the benefit of a doubt if you lead Trixie to the Twilight Sparkle so that Trixie may grace her with a proper beating.”

The others quickly filed behind, moving down the hallway. It was a long corridor with rooms on either side. Each time they passed a door, they would stop to look within it, but none seemed to be anything but dead ends.

The first room on the left looked like it might have once been some sort of medical room. There were five metal rolling tables set up with straps to keep patients down, as well as rows of shelves that looked like they could have once held supplies. Further down, there were a number of rooms that had been fitted with bars along their fronts, some of which also had chains hanging from the walls, glowing slightly against the dark. It all looked as if it hadn’t been used for a very long time, however, what little furnishing was in the rooms long having decayed away.

“So what’s the story with your cutie marks?” Ditzy asked, moving above Blinkie and Inkie. She still seemed perfectly fine with their present situation and had chosen to walk on the ceiling, flapping her wings to keep herself up there instead of taking up more room on the floor.

“I’m a miner,” Blinkie responded, rolling her eyes, “So you know, I blow things up. Everypony always assumes I’m some kind of dangerous criminal just because I have a bomb on my butt. I mean really, just because I specialize in explosives doesn't mean I’m going to blow up everypony I see… even when I am.”

“I break things,” Inkie answered more calmly, “I can see weaknesses in walls. It also helps in mining as well as breaking precious things out of rocks. Anyway, I figure I can use my breaking ability to break other things when the need arises. Does that bother you Derpy?” Inkie had heard Pinkie use Ditzy’s nickname already.

“Nah!” Ditzy smiled, “I think they’re great, I’m sure you are nice ponies!”

“Don’t set yourself up for too much disappointment,” smirked Blinkie.

They continued down the hall, passing a few slightly more comfortable looking cells with somewhat more dirty padding for prisoners to sleep on atop stone beds. They then arrived at the biggest room they had seen. The room was absolutely massive, a ceiling twice as high as the other rooms and walls that stretched out for at least a hundred feet per side. In the center was what looked like a lightly glowing dome of energy, bright enough that Trixie allowed her horn to rest it for a moment. It was difficult to see what was behind the force field, but several panels near their end of the room were the likely control points for it.

The oddest thing that stood out about this complex however, was that there was no exit at all. None of the rooms attached to the hall had any other exits aside from into the hall from where they had just entered. How were they supposed to get out?

“I have a feeling we shouldn’t touch anything,” Ditzy lost her ‘footing’ as the ceiling rose and started to hover, barrel rolling slowly in place as she did so.

“Ohhhhh,” Pinkie ignored the warning, moving right over to the brightly colored panel and looking at the glowing buttons.

“I think the mail-mare has a point; I don’t think we should touch those sister,” Inkie agreed with Ditzy.

“What harm could it possibly do? I mean we’re trapped in here otherwise, so it can’t exactly get us in much deeper,” Blinkie grumbled, “I mean it’s either this or I start throwing dynamite again, right?”

“Hey!” Gilda reached out her claw to smack Pinkie’s hoof away from the panel, “Are you trying to get us killed or some- oh never mind I don’t even know why I asked that. Of course you are.”

“Aw, I wanted to push the buttons. One of them might turn on the lights, or throw a party, or make me happy.” Pinkie spoke as she eyed them eagerly, but didn’t reach back as of yet.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie,” Trixie raised her voice, enjoying the way it echoed in this chamber, “has decided that we will use the consoles.”

“And since when do you get to decide for all of us?” Gilda glared at the blue unicorn.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is not ‘deciding’ for all of us,” Trixie rolled her eyes, “Trixie heard the vote, and it is clearly in Trixie’s favor. Even the Pink One agrees.”

“I thought it was a split vote,” Inkie pointed out.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie gets two votes, obviously,” Trixie retorted, “As she is the only unicorn who is present.”

“How’s that work?” Ditzy blinked.

“Trixie’s horn gets a vote too, obviously,” Trixie retorted, raising her nose up.

“Well I should be getting two votes too,” claimed Gilda, “One for me and one for my sanity, which apparently pastel ponies lack!”

“Now, now,” Inkie stepped between Gilda and Trixie, calmly trying to cut off their conversation, “Let’s not bring our horns out in public, or what’s left of our sanity for that matter. I’m sure we can solve this in a neutral manner.”

“We could just wait for Trixie to rest,” suggested Ditzy, “And then she could make another timey whimey ball!” Ditzy hadn't stopped spinning in the air during the entire conversation. She rolled faster and faster as time went on.

“The Great and Powerful Trixie regrets to inform you that she may or may not be able to perform such a task without a large source of exploding magic nearby to feed upon, such as Her Majesty,” Trixie spoke more quietly than usual, looking as if it hurt to admit that. She quickly added, “It is notable, however, that only the Great and Powerful Trixie could have performed such an amazing feat to begin with!"

Suddenly there was a buzzing sound. Magical lights glowed from the four corners of the room and the force field shimmered as if receiving a new jolt of energy. All eyes turned to Pinkie, whose hoof was on a large pink button.

“It was pink! PINK!” she pre-emptively defended herself, as if that was an irresistible reason for pressing it.

The force field shimmered again, blinking rapidly several times before shutting off completely. As one field lowered, there appeared to be another behind it. Each dropped in turn, layering inward towards the center like an onion. Finally at the center, a single restrained alicorn hovered, wrapped in at least two dozen magically bound chains. He was bound so tightly that only his eyes were visible. Even his horn had been locked tightly away, wings wrapped up and locked against his back; they couldn’t even tell what color his coat was.

The alicorn opened his eyes slowly, looking like solid red orbs glowing in the pits of his eye sockets. He stared at the group as if looking through their very souls.

“Aw man,” Ditzy sighed, ceasing her rolling and finally landing on the floor with the others, “I hope I didn’t just help wake up an unspeakable evil from another world, or from beyond time, or something like that.” She then added more quietly, "Again..."