• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf

What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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The Cutie Re-mark

I couldn't believe I was going to be spending Hearth's Warming like this.

I couldn't believe that yesterday even happened.

All I wanted to do was go back and change everything, but would there have been any point? Since then, all I've been doing is just locking myself up to a point where no pony could talk to me. It was like if I thought that everything would change if I just did nothing. But in reality, I wasn't sure if I just didn't want to mess anything up anymore, or if I just had completely given up already.

After yesterday, I had been left all alone. The castle seemed…just absolutely silent. I couldn't tell if I was the only one inside, but all I could do was just sleep. I really didn't want to spend Hearth's Warming like this, but what could I do?! I couldn't just go up to him and be like, "Hey, sorry! I was being super dumb yesterday! Please forget everything I said!"

Maybe this would blow over after some time, but it definitely wasn't going to happen today. All I could do was wait for something to happen without my involvement. Honestly…why did I even exist?

"Hello?" I heard a familiar voice outside. It was a feminine voice, and it definitely wasn't Twilight's or any of the other girls that hung around here. "Anypony home?"

I chose to ignore it, but for some weird reason this pony went straight for the door of the room I was locking myself in. The door shook a little violently, and then a knock was heard from the other side.

"Go away!" I exclaimed, not willing to deal with any kind of company right now.

"Aww." The mare outside said in a mischievous kind of way. "Is that Spirit? You're not going to treat poor old Starlight like that, are you?"

Starlight? What the hay was she doing here? I thought she left to go back to work with her band already…

I sighed heavily as I squirmed my way out from inside of the blankets and dragged myself over to the door. The sooner I can get her to
leave, the better. I already began revealing my foul mood as I opened the door. "What do you want, Starli—?"

A sharp gasp had taken over my words mid-sentence. The Starlight I saw at the door was definitely not the Starlight I had been expecting. In fact, at that moment, as I realized I fudged up, I wished it had been the other Starlight instead.

"Oh, it's so nice to see you again."

Twilight had just finished the presentation she had been tasked to give to upcoming magic students attending the School for Gifted Unicorns. She had been practicing this lecture during the previous days, but I could tell she wasn't entirely focused this time around. My only assumption was that the distraction in her head was about what happened last night. After all, I knew I couldn't stop thinking about it myself.

At the end of the lecture, Twilight and Spike shared a short conversation with their old friend Moondancer, whom had actually attended the lecture as well, before we headed off back to Ponyville.

"Haah…" Twilight sighed heavily. "That lecture could have gone a lot better than it did."

"What do you mean?" Spike replied. "Everypony really enjoyed it."

"I just wish I wasn't so…!"

"Distracted?" I finished for her.

"…yeah. I guess…" She worriedly turned to me. "What are we going to do about her?"

"About who? Spirit?" Spike questioned.

We had to explain to him why she had disappeared all of a sudden from making cookies last night, but we didn't go into details.

"Yes…" Twilight answered somewhat vaguely.

"I hope she's feeling better today." Spike earnestly expressed. "After all, it's Hearth's Warming! It's like the worst day to feel sick on."

Twilight only sent a glance towards me, seeing as how we couldn't really get too into our situation with Spirit without involving Spike in the mess. However, all of a sudden, Twilight stopped in her tracks. We turned towards her to find her staring at the chilly road. "That wasn't the only thing that distracted me today…" She remained silent for a moment before looking towards us. "I saw something up in the seats of the lecture hall I was speaking in. Or rather… I saw someone."

"What do you mean, Twilight?" I asked.

She placed a hoof to her head and adverted her eyes to the side. "It may have just been my imagination…but…did any of you two see Starlight Glimmer sitting up there with the other unicorns?"

As soon as I had recognized that name, I felt my heart skip a beat. "Starlight Glimmer? What would she be doing there?"

"I…I don't know." Twilight shook her head out of confusion. "I'm sure I saw her, but the second I had looked away and back again, she was gone! If I wasn't just seeing things…then I really hope she isn't up to anything."

"Isn't that the pony with the village full of other ponies with the same cutie mark?" Spike remembered. "Last I heard, she wasn't very happy the last time you saw her."

"Forcing everypony in her village to have the same cutie mark wasn't right." Twilight felt the need to justify her actions. "We had to do something!"

"So, do you think she's back for her revenge?" Spike asked.

"I…I don't know, Spike." Twilight admitted. "Like I said, I don't even know if I really did see her. I just…" Twilight sighed heavily and groaned out loud.

I couldn't quite believe that, out of everything else, Starlight Glimmer would be the one to imaginatively appear in front of Twilight during a time of stress. "Look Twilight." I comforted her as I held a hoof around her shoulder. "If it really was her, then we'll deal with whatever beef she's got with us. I mean, what's the worst she could do? If she was prepared to have her 'revenge', I would think she'd have it right then and there."

"Let's just get back home…" Twilight requested. "I'd like to distract myself with some reading or something to get my mind off things."

We walked for a little longer until we arrived at the castle. It was just as we had left it. Extremely quiet.

"Maybe I was just more stressed about that speech than I thought." Twilight said as they placed their things aside. I supposed she managed to have some time to think things over on the rest of the way here.

"Yeah. That sounds better than Starlight Glimmer coming back with an evil plot for revenge." Spike lightly joked.

"Well, when you say it like that, it does sound kinda silly…" Twilight returned as she opened the doors to the round table throne room. "Now, we just need to figure out what to do about her…" She muttered softly as we entered the room.

"I don't suppose you could be talking about her, could you?" We heard an unexpected voice and felt an unpleasant presence to boot. Our eyes instantly focused on something sitting almost lifelessly on top of the map table. It had been Spirit, and behind her sat a smug-faced Starlight Glimmer. It was just like Twilight said. She did see her! "Welcome home, you two!"

"Spirit!" I called out as I raced towards her, but before I could even get close enough, I felt a scorching spiking burn at my blindside. Whatever hit me had enough force to push me over and completely interrupt my rescue effort. The pain it inflicted continued to sear through me for some time.

"Don't even think about it."

Having had my eyes closed to deal with the aching result of the attack, I reopened them at the sound of the heartless tone. I spotted a figure that I had been unable to recognize for quite some time. It wasn't until I pinpointed the familiar and cold voice to a certain pony in my memories. "…you!"

"What are you doing?!" Twilight cried out anxiously. "Why are you here?!"

With a hefty laugh, Starlight Glimmer answered. "After what you and your little friends did back at my village, you think I was just going to let it slide?! You think I was just going to 'learn my lesson' and everything would be hunky-dory? Not in my book!" Starlight held up an ancient-looking scroll and casted a beam of magic onto it. Next, coming from within the scroll, the same magic struck towards Spirit and bled over the castle map. "Here, you can take her back." Starlight grabbed ahold of Spirit with her magic and flung her towards Twilight. Fortunately, she was able ensure a safe catch with magic of her own. "I've got everything I need from her anyway." She crumpled up the paper she had used to cast the unknown spell and threw it over the table. "Won't be needing that anymore."

Before we knew it, some kind of strange circular and wide-eyed vortex opened up straight above the map. Various ticking of clocks could be heard, and Starlight Glimmer only looked straight ahead as if she was planning to dive right in. However, it seemed she didn't have to do anything as it appeared the winds that had formed around the vortex only sucked her inside. After that, the vortex simply disappeared and there was no trace of Starlight Glimmer left.

"You!" Twilight threw her glare over to the one we'd always refer to as the 'Mysterious Stallion'. "What are you doing here?! What did you and Starlight Glimmer do?!"

"Well, excuse me, princess." He returned mockingly. "We must have simply lost track of time. Better yet, I'm sure checking out that piece of paper is a good place to start." He pointed towards the crumpled-up wad Starlight had originally used.

Twilight turned her head to see Spike already reaching for the object of interest. "Wait! Spike, no! Don't touch that!"

Before Spike could completely take in Twilight's warning, he had already done so. The same vortex opened up at the ceiling, and the next thing we knew, Twilight and Spike were forcefully being sucked in. I tried to reach out to them in order to hopefully somehow save them, but I had been kept back by dark magic.

"Oh, no." He held onto me as if I was some squirming child. "I've got something special for you."

It Never Changes

I found myself staring at the picture with the two of us again. Back before any of this had happened. Back before I was one of the ones to be drafted into this horrendous war. I never thought some place called the Crystal Empire would apparently pop up and wage war against us. Then again, the entire blame was supposed to be on one pony alone. King Sombra. A tyrant who forced all of the old inhabitants of the Crystal Empire to fight under his oppression.

Every time I'd hear the story about how the war started in the first place, I would always catch myself thinking the same thing over and over. Wasn't there anything that could have been done to prevent this war to begin with? Couldn't he have been stopped way before he managed to get his hooves on those crystal ponies? I never really did get any answers for those questions of mine, and it bothered me to no end that I had to fight without these answers.

"Again with the picture, huh?" I heard. I pulled the photo away from my face to notice Rainbow Dash at the doorway of my tent. She had a towel around her neck as if she had just finished showering. Despite that, I could never stop feeling a guilt-ridden tug inside my heart every time I saw her.

"It's the only one I have of us…" I softly excused. It had been Rarity and me on one of our last dates. That was…until we had to be separated away from each other because of the draft. "I just want all of this to end… I want things to be the way like they were before."

"So, does everyone else, but wishing ain't gonna do anything."

I placed the photo away for a moment, so I could give Rainbow Dash my full attention. "So…are you doing alright?" I asked, paying attention especially to her right ear…well…whatever was left of it.

"You don't gotta worry about me." Rainbow found herself staring at a mirror.

"How can't I…?" I stared sulkily at the floor. "If it wasn't for you…we'd be…"

I unexpectedly felt a pat on my shoulder. "Quit it. It's what we do for each other. No pony left behind, remember?"

I silently sighed and lightly nodded. No matter what she said, I didn't believe I was ever going to forgive myself for what she had to sacrifice in order to save my partner and me. It wasn't just her ear, but her left wing was completely mechanic to make up for the loss of her old one. If that wasn't enough, there was also a deep inscribed scar on her left eye.

"…right." I merely accepted.

"The Princess wanted to see you. T's already there waiting for you. Best not to keep them waiting."

I stood myself up and nodded my head respectfully. "On it, Ma'am."

I turned over the flap as I exited from my tent and searched around. It was certainly as silent yet busy as it had always been. For as long as I've been here, I've never once remember seeing a different kind of mood among the camp besides it's rooted solemn and depressive one. I knew that being in a situation like this didn't call for others to be doing things like horsing around and enjoying their stay, but did it had to be so morose like if there was no hope for a bright future? I guess it didn't help to see those you loved constantly being taken away from you, or, if they're lucky, find themselves in the med bay.

Speaking of the med bay, I heard a particular pony call me out from that site. "A! Over here, please."

"Yes, Nurse Redheart?" I approached her.

"Please, come in." She requested, heading inside of the medical ward. I followed her until we came across the area that held the majority of the equipment she used to treat others. "Forgive me for any inconvenience. I just wanted to check up on you, following your recovery for your recent injury."

I had been in pretty bad shape a while back, but thanks to Nurse Redheart…and Rainbow Dash… I was able to live another day with some rather minor setbacks. "Thank you, Nurse. If you don't mind me asking, how long do you think this is going to take? I was told Princess Celestia wanted to see me."

"Not long." She stated as she observed me for a moment and proceeded to perform the rest of the checkup routine. "Princess Celestia informed me that you'd be out in the field sooner than I expected. I just wanted to make sure you weren't in any kind of pain or restrictive state that would make it absolutely foolish to allow you to go." She placed on her stethoscope and planted the end on my chest. "Please take a deep breath." I did so. "…and exhale."

After repeating this for a few times, she placed away her tool and turned to me. "It sounds normal now. You're not experiencing any kind of negative symptoms like last time, are you?"

I shook my head. "No. I don't think so…"

She nodded and scribbled a bit on her notepad. "I'll let you be on your way now."

"Thank you, Nurse."

Before I could turn and leave, she called me one last time.

"A?" I found her staring at me with worried and wavering eyes. "Please… Take great care out there. I've seen too many ponies not make it back. I'd hate for you to be one of them."

I remained silent for a moment. Especially considering the last time I was out, there was no way I could guarantee anything. In fact, the only thing I could promise was that I would do everything in my power in hopes of making it back alive. "Thank you for your concern. I'll do everything I can."

She shared one last smile as she briefly placed a caring hoof on my cheek. "See you soon."

I headed towards the tent with two soldiers standing guard extremely attentively as always. I stopped and saluted as they took a second to identify me. Afterwards, they signaled me to go forward. Inside, I spotted Princess Celestia studying papers at her desk. One of the papers I could see was a large map of the area we resided in. To the side, there were figures to represent certain portions of our army for strategic purposes.

"Princess. A is here." I heard.

It was my blonde-haired and odd-eyed partner, T. It was still hard seeing her in this kind of environment with me. We had been inseparable since we were kids, but I never expected that to follow through when it came to something as dangerous like this. Even though I had heavily disapproved her decision, she voluntarily joined me and enlisted in Princess Celestia's army as well.

Princess Celestia stopped what she was doing and directed her attention to each of us. "I'm glad you two are doing fine. As you know, King Sombra and his army are closing in by the second. It won't be long before we'll have to give it everything we have. We might just be able to push them back. However, I've called you two in to discuss a matter of great importance regarding this war. You two might just be the key to ending this war once and for all."

"E-ending the war?" I almost choked out. "How is that, ma'am?"

"We've managed to make a certain…breakthrough when it comes to our tools of offense. I'm sure you're all familiar with Zecora?"

Zecora was a zebra who ended up becoming a great use when it came to medical remedies. She was able to brew potions that could either instantly cure somepony of something or at least immensely speed up the recovery. Honestly, if it wasn't for her, I'm not sure any of us would still be standing.

"Yes, ma'am." I nodded. "What about her?"

Princess Celestia looked to the side and lifted up a stable crate onto her desk. Inside the crate looked to be jars that held some kind of liquid. Shiny liquid with a bright interior glow that'd represent a different kind of color, even the full rainbow. "Together, we've managed to create something that just might change the outcome of the war yet."

"What are they, ma'am?" T leaned in forward, her curiosity still at its strongest.

"Magic." Princess Celestia explained. "Powerful magic, that is. They can be used against the enemy."

"What kind of magic?" I asked.

She lifted one of the jars that represented a strong red glow and twisted it around. "Alicorn magic. My magic."

"Huh?!" T and I both lurched forward in surprise.

"So, what you're saying is that we can supply each of our troops with this kind of magic to use on the enemy?!" T inquired about almost excitedly.

Princess Celestia solemnly shook her head. "I'm afraid not." She carefully aligned the separated jar back with the others. "You see… It takes a great deal of energy to supply this magic. I can only incorporate it into Zecora's brew-making so much. Just producing this amount proved to be tiring, and this was due to the course of several days."

"So…what are you planning to do with it?" I asked next.

"That matter has been settled." She confirmed with confidence. "You shall be utilizing them with our next and hopefully last battle."

T and I gasped together, and we exchanged looks of both anxiety and worry with each other.

"W-why us…?"

"Being our reconnaissance team, you have been assigned positions of most importance. As you two must have figured out by now, we're going to have to send out every soldier we have to fight against King Sombra's attack." She took an especially still pause to close her eyes and lean her head towards the desk. It was as if she was still working things out in her thoughts. "I worry…with the state our soldiers are in…that we may not even make it through this attack…"

T and I couldn't help but feel something gnaw at our hearts.

"However." She continued. "This is where you two come in, along with our newfound discovery. As you also know, King Sombra will be leading the charge, but his army will be ahead of him as a protective measure. Your duty will be to sneak past his army and attack King Sombra at his flank."

"Uh…!" T couldn't help but almost blurt out in surprise. "You want us to attack King Sombra?! The crazed tyrant and very one behind this entire war!? Excuse my outburst, ma'am, but how in Equestria are we to do that?!"

"The answer you search for is right in front of you." Princess Celestia replied with and directed our attention to the jars of magic gathered together. "This magic… I trust them in your hooves."

T and I sent each other an almost quivering glance before Princess Celestia spent a moment to go through our newly assigned arsenal. These jars varied through size and volume, due to the magical effects they produced. In other words, the larger the amount, the stronger the impact and effect of a certain spell. As Princess Celestia gave us an outline of each spell we had to use, she made sure to have us recognize the color of the spell, so we'd know which one to use when the situation called for it. The spells on hoof were not only used for offense. There was even a healing tonic that was supposed to instantly heal minor injuries or relieve substantial pain.

"Using these…" She presented a couple of small vials with a blackish-gray color. "…you will become shrouded from visibility, if not completely invisible. You should have enough time to reach King Sombra before any part of his army notices. After all, I'm hoping they'll be too focused on us, as we'll be providing a defensive position on the frontlines."

Even though this was Princess Celestia, I couldn't help but still feel worries and doubts lingering about with her plan. "Are you sure this will work, Princess? Do you think that King Sombra might have some kind of defense against this?"

She closed her eyes once more and pondered about it in her mind. "There is never a guarantee in any kind of plan, otherwise this war would have already either been won or lost. It is up to us to take any little chance we can get. After all, I believe you two would agree that any plan is better than no plan?" She opened her eyes to gather our reactions. The two of us only silently nodded. "From my understanding… King Sombra has always been a brute. He relies on pure strength and force rather than strategy. With these tonics imbued with my magic, I don't believe he'd ever expect a couple of earth ponies challenging him. Before, I was the only one who stood a possible chance against him, but to face him directly proved to be a challenge with his army, of course. However, if you can move in close, and subdue or perhaps even extinguish his very existence, we might just be able to end this war with one last battle."

"So, how do we use these?" T asked while analyzing the jars.

"If you're going to be attacking, you would preferably throw them from a distance where you wouldn't be harmed. If you're going to be using one the healing tonics, you simply drink them. Any of the other supportive spells should be thrown close to you so you may receive its benefits." Princess Celestia explained.

"Do we have enough to train with so we can practice for when we need to use them?" I asked.

There was a light shake of the head for a response. "I'm afraid I cannot provide you with a full-scale simulation, but I could possibly ask Zecora to make you some vials that will provide similar effects. They will, of course, be ineffective."

"It's better than nothing." I shared honestly. "I just…want us to be prepared, ma'am. Neither of us want to fail you."

During this moment, she surprised us when she managed to share a soft yet simple smile. "You two are very hardworking. I expect you two to do your very best, but I also want you to know that I am extremely proud and appreciative of your efforts for this cause. I am telling the truth when I say that you, along with every pony else make all the difference."

That evening, the two of us were given small vials to practice with by Zecora, as promised. Granted, they were solely for practice and visual effects, but anything to give us an idea on how to use our weapons for the real thing helps.

As Princess Celestia gravely foreseen, it would only be an extremely small amount of time before King Sombra's forces were upon us. It was time for us to give it our all. I wanted to go back to Ponyville with T and Rarity. I just wanted this one huge nightmare to end already. On top of the vantage point near our camp, Princess Celestia stationed whatever was left of her army and provided one last speech before sending her soldiers to the field.

"King Sombra's army is just up ahead." She informed, pointing her head in the direction of the marching ponies from the opposition. I wasn't sure if it was fortunate or not, but they weren't charging in our direction at all. Nevertheless, they were slowly but surely headed our way. "Ever since the start of the war, all of you have fought so bravely. Many of you have sacrificed so much for this cause. However, I ask that all you of fight with all your might. We cannot let King Sombra take our land. At the very least, we mustn't go down without a fight! Remember your loved ones. You are fighting to protect them and our very home!" Princess Celestia had been interrupted by a deep and echoing roar from the visible distance. "We shall not give up!" She signaled the pegasi to move on forward. "Onwards!"

Before leading the charge on the ground, Princess Celestia turned towards T and me. "Drink your vials. You must find and reach King Sombra before it's too late! Do not worry about his pawns unless you absolutely must fight them. If you manage to subdue King Sombra, use the signal that's in your inventory. Please, for the sake of Equestria and everypony else, capture King Sombra and do whatever it takes to finally end this war once and for all!"

Despite how nervous or scared we may have been, Princess Celestia's words touched us. She had been counting on us, and there was no way that we were going to give any less than our best. T and I stood straight and saluted her with gusto. She nodded and prepared to lead the ground ponies.

I turned towards T and grabbed the couple of vials that would keep us hidden from sight. She took one, and we crossed our right foreleg with each other and held the vial to our lips. "We've got this!" I stated with as much as confidence I could find in myself at the moment.

T nodded and we proceeded to drink the vials. Obviously, it would be a bad idea to go straight into the field, but there wasn't much cover to begin with. We were able to hide behind huge cliffs and rocks in case we wanted to increase the changes of not being spotted, but the area was mostly a dry wasteland. T and I decided to stick close where the battle had been raging out, but not too close where we'd bump into unwanted combat.

The only clue we had about King Sombra's whereabouts was that he'd be at the back of his army and leading others into the charge. Nevertheless, for some strange reason, we managed to see him reveal himself in the midst of battle. A few from Princess Celestia's royal guard immediately tried to run at him and capture him, but he simply opened up a giant wall of stone in front of him and knocked his attackers on their backs. In addition, he boasted with a roar of laughter as he had only been toying with the soldiers.

We suddenly heard hooves stomp the ground in front of us, causing us to quickly turn back ahead. We noticed two ponies from King Sombra's army, and they were staring straight at us for what felt like a long minute. It was bad enough that we couldn't see where their eyes were directly looking at, due to their robotic helmets. We held our breath until they seemed to unknowingly pass us.

Releasing a relieved sigh, T turned towards me. "King Sombra's behind that wall." She pointed towards the barrier from earlier. "We have to get around it before it gets bigger!"

She was right. The way King Sombra worked was that when he was able to get any kind of land for himself, he'd start putting up barriers and the like to keep it his. If we didn't hurry, we'd probably miss our chance to take him down. As soon as we galloped past the planned line for his wall, we had already positioned ourselves for combat. However, King Sombra was nowhere in sight.

"Where did he go?!" T demanded in a slight panic. "He's supposed to be behind this wall!"

"Looking for me?" We heard a hollow voice reverberate towards us. It wasn't hard to spot him fading in from wisps of darkness on the barren land. In fact, what caught our attention the most was that he had been able to see us way before we were able to see him. He must have noticed that we realized it since he roared in laughter once more. "My soldiers may have not seen you coming, but I surely did. You are just in time to see your wretched kingdom fall and be replaced with mine. As if two simple and little earth ponies could make any change in my plans."

"We're not going to let you take our home!" T shouted out for him to clearly hear. "Even if it takes our lives, we're going to do whatever it takes to stop you!"

King Sombra produced a chuckle that incited terror. "I beg to differ…" As magic surged through his horn, shards of stone began to protrude out from the ground around him. As soon as the first layer of shards were broken apart from the ground, his dark magic created a mist entirely around him. These shards began spinning and revolving around him at an insanely fast speed. If that wasn't enough, layers continued to accommodate behind him like a snake. "The rest of Equestria will witness this great power, and I'll begin with you two for refusing to surrender to it!"

No way. None of us had ever seen him do this before! Had he been saving this trump card until we were at our last stand?!

Before I knew it, his storm of shards began flailing towards us, causing us to immediately throw ourselves to the side to dodge it. I managed to find T at the other end of me. "It's now or never, T!"

"Got it!"

The two of us unsnapped our saddlebags and prepped our arsenal ready for use.

The most challenging obstacle was getting a clear shot of him. His dark magic had created a mist so thick that we couldn't exactly pinpoint his location inside the storm he created. The only option we could find at the moment was using Celestia's magic to break open an opening.

Finding him setting up for another charge specifically at me, I pulled out a jar with a fiery glow. As soon as he was only a short distance away, I focused my aim and proceeded to provide a firm throw. It was a direct impact, and fire detonated from the shattered jar, producing flakes that spilled out and created separate flames as if they used his dark magic as fuel. As the fire seared within, small openings of the central power were viewable from all angles. Due to the flames, the spinning of his stone shards massively slowed down, if not to a complete stop.

I noticed T move into motion as if she had a plan to enact on. Despite suffering through flames, King Sombra was still majorly aggressive. Although his defenses were shortened, he was probably making up the difference with his offense. Despite this, I had to hang onto his attention for T's sake. I pulled out slightly smaller containers that I planned to use just to distract him.

I had to sprint away from him as he chased me down, but at the same time, I had to keep one eye open to figure out when would be the right time to attack. When I felt I was ready, I attempted to throw the vials over my shoulder. I couldn't tell if they hit or not, but he still kept storming straight towards me.

After the previous flames seemed to have died out, he spun up the ammunition on hoof and immediately began shooting his stone shards towards me. I could hear every one of his shards penetrate the ground behind him, and I had no other option rather than to run. King Sombra must have taken notice of this because the next thing I found were shards landing in front of me. Having me turn around, I took notice of his massive storm. It was literally impossible to keep every one of his shards from hitting me, and I could only dodge so much. After taking a decent number of hits, I noticed T come to my rescue. She seemed to have been successful in using his stones to her advantage by climbing up to his level. As soon as she reached him, she wrapped her hooves around his neck and caused him to immediately cease his fire.

Honestly, it took me a while to realize the scorching pain around my body, so it was finally time to see if Zecora's tonics combined with Celestia's magic lived up to its hype. There was no time to waste, so I hurriedly searched through my pack and pulled out a healthy green vial and chugged it in seconds. Obviously, I didn't have any time to admire its restorative effects. T was holding King Sombra back, and I had to signal her that I was ready for her to take him down.

I focused my sight at T and shouted. "T!"

She pulled out a hefty container from her pack and smashed it onto King Sombra's face, being too close for comfort on whatever magical effects that had been released. Nevertheless, she immediately jumped off and countered my signal. "A, now!"

King Sombra had been unintentionally diving straight towards me, and the storm he had produced had minimized for the time being. Choosing from my cache wisely, I pulled out a spell just for the occasion. As soon as he crashed onto the ground, I threw it out towards him. Immediately afterwards, glowing strings of magic grew like roots of a tree and surrounded King Sombra. They then interweaved and tied him up, preventing him from performing any kind of major motion.

We didn't know how long this would keep him still, but we definitely had to take the chance in wearing him out as much as we could. Gathering as many as we could, T and I threw a variety of light jars at his captive body. Despite being pummeled with Celestia's magic, he still managed to find the strength to shoot out several shards of stone towards us from his prison. However, they were absolutely not as threatening as before, and we were easily able to dodge them as long as our focus didn't falter.

When his shackles appeared to be on the verge of breaking, T and I looked at each other. The two of us regrouped with each other and stood back to back.

"T! Let's do it!" I suggested.

"Got it!" She nodded.

We dug out perhaps the heaviest jar in our pack, and together, we lifted it and chucked it towards King Sombra. As a result, there was a massive explosion of lights and radial energy that surged through the targeted area. It was almost like a firework show, and we could see what even looked like lightning strike at his body.

His shackles broke, and he was able to immediately rise from up from the ground with his storm intact. Nevertheless, he appeared to have no sense of direction or control of his storm. It wavered around the field as if he was trying to put himself out of being in fire or if he had been completely blinded. Regardless of his best efforts, his storm eventually dissipated and we could see his body fall towards the ground.

We ran towards him but kept our distance in case he tried to surprise us. He appeared to remain motionless though. As much as I did not believe that the battle had been over, I turned towards T and advised our next move. "Let's tie him up again and signal the princess." She nodded, and we began to search our bags for the correct spell.

Just as my doubts suspected, the ground shook violently for a short moment before his body began to disappear in a mist of darkness.

"What's going on?!" T noticed and kept her eyes locked onto where the darkness had been emerging.

His ammunition of stone shards began being lifted up from the ground and surrounding where his body had been. It was only a moment of time where he now took the form of a kind of twister rather than a snake.

"I will never be defeated!" His voice bellowed out. "You insolent little ponies will be buried underneath my might!" Cracks had begun to form and scatter all over the battlefield. Before we knew it, King Sombra began to return the favor of our pummeling by launching boulders from the heart of his shadowy tornado as if it had been a catapult.

T and I had to scatter about, seeing as we couldn't risk being buried in the ground together. However, that definitely didn't put a break on our enemy's continuous assault. He continued to suck out boulders from the ground and catapult them towards us.

Having my attention focused on staying away from being crushed underneath the flying boulders, I hadn't even realized that King Sombra was horridly close to me. Before I could possibly think of doing anything against it, his sinister whirlwind had caught ahold me and violently swung me in a circular motion before throwing me further away from the field.

I desperately attempted to figure out or remember some kind of spell in my pack that would save me and take me back to T's side, but I had already been dangerously close to the ground.

"No!" I cried out as if it would magically turn everything around in my favor.

"Gotcha!" I felt my momentum towards the ground halt, causing me to look over to see a pony with wings carrying me to safety.

"Rainbow Dash! We gotta get back to T! She needs help!" I exclaimed out of desperation, even though I just had my own coat saved a few seconds ago.

"Don't worry! Cadets Diane and Maud Pie got her back!" She returned me to the field where we took notice of the two busting boulders by T. "And so do I!"

Having a little room of safety to think, I observed King Sombra's whirling hurricane and immediately felt a vague and possibly even crazy idea settle in my mind. "Rainbow! Take me over the middle of that!"

"Are you crazy!?" She followed where I had been pointing. "You'll—"

"Just trust me!"

Having no place to argue or refute, Rainbow followed my request. Once over the eye of the storm, I readied my weapon as I heard Rainbow Dash above me.

"You sure about this?!"

"Thanks!" I only released her grip on me and allowed myself to fall towards the heart where King Sombra had been controlling this massive storm. Despite how dangerous it actually was, I fell in headfirst and focused my attention to where I had planned to catch a grip on King Sombra. I suppose he hadn't been expecting me to come from above and rather paid attention to attacking the ponies on the ground.

As soon as I was close enough, I clung my hooves around his neck like Spirit had and held the jar of magic with my teeth. Before I had any more of my time to lose, I immediately crushed open the jar onto his face, causing him to lose control just like before. I fell out from his storm and back onto the solid ground. As I watched him flail out of control, I knew it was time for T and I to land the hopefully finishing blow.

"T!" I called out once more, grabbing her attention from a distance. I pulled one more jar out for this united attack. She took great notice of the rainbow-colored glow from mine and searched for the same in her pack. Once we both had them out and ready for use, I focused onto King Sombra's currently chaotic and mindless storm.

I took careful aim, but this time, I wasn't going to throw anything. Things were literally going to be shaken up now. Once the angle was right, I rapidly shook the container of Princess Celestia's magic and released it with as much force as I could by opening up the top.

Like bottle fireworks, streams of magic and light shot towards our intended target. I had to take great care and hold steady focus as each bullet of magic fired out. We weren't planning on wasting it on anything other than this dastardly tyrant.

With the combination of our efforts, the storm King Sombra once held lowered in size and eventually dissipated. His body had fell to the ground almost lifelessly like before. This time, T and I were quick to release our magic shackles for him to be captured in. Even while being tied up by this spell, Diane and Maud immediately stood guard by him and took it upon themselves that he wouldn't move from where he was.

Finally, Rainbow Dash landed on the ground by him and returned a severe glare. "You're finished, Sombra."

T and I nodded towards each other and finally released the signal that would notify Princess Celestia and bring her towards our position. A flare shot up towards the sky and emitted a bright glow. As we waited, we felt as if we finally had, at the very least, a short moment to catch our breath. The both of us fell backwards and earned our breaths as we stared at the showy flare in the sky.

"…is it finally over?" T asked between her gasps for air. "Did we do it?"

"I hope so."

I didn't know if his soldiers were still up and running, but I assumed the rest of Princess Celestia's army were handling them at the moment.

We noticed a distant figure in the sky, and it eventually grew bigger as it drew near us. As she revealed her presence to us, it almost felt like the beautiful radiance around her was enough to turn this world around for a different kind of future for us. She took a short moment to look over us, and I guessed it wasn't until she was sure that we were still breathing when she turned towards the fallen king. "Your reign of terror has come to an end."

"You cannot hold me captive forever, Celestia." Despite his current situation, King Sombra appeared to be widely sure of himself.

"I'll do whatever I can in my power to ensure you do not cause any kind of harm anymore." From there, Princess Celestia shut her eyes and summoned another spell to reinforce his chains. "It's only a matter of time before we search and find the Crystal Heart."

King Sombra lightly chuckled. "Good luck."

As Rainbow Dash and the others kept an eye on him, Princess Celestia made her way towards us.

"Absolutely well done." Princess Celestia congratulated with an earnest tone in her voice.

"Is it…finally over, Princess Celestia?" T asked. "Can all this fighting finally stop?"

She adverted her gaze and returned a slightly solemn look. "I'm afraid it isn't as simple as that. We cannot take King Sombra lightly, and we cannot be sure of this war until we find the Crystal Heart and use it against him. Until we do, I'm afraid it's not exactly over."

"What about his army?" I remembered. "What happens to them?"

"It seems the helmets they wear are forcing them to fight against us. Unless we can find a way to remove or disable them, then they will continue to attack us. However, the Crystal Heart may be the only way to save the Crystal Ponies from those helmets." Before I could release a stressful sigh, she placed a caring hoof on me. "Do not fret, you two. You have done a great service, and I absolutely commend you for it. Because of you and everyone's actions, we might just win and end this war yet very soon."

I allowed myself to lie back on the dusty ground and close my eyes. I had suddenly grown sleepy all of a sudden. However, I felt my hoof being clamped on by another. I opened my eyes and turned towards the one responsible for this. It was T, and she had been smiling softly at me. I was deeply surprised when I saw this. It had been so long since I saw her smile like this. I thought that she had perhaps been permanently scarred by this stupid war.

"Don't worry, Alex." She used the name back from before the war dragged us in. "I can feel it. Everything will turn out okay soon."

I didn't respond but only acknowledged it. Afterwards, I closed my eyes and just relaxed in my thoughts.

Soon enough, it felt as if everything just…faded away.

An Empty Husk

Morning. It was time to wake up. However, I had to admit that I missed feeling the sun's rays on my coat from the mornings in the past. Ever since we had to move into this dark and damp part of the forest, it's pretty rare to get a good sense of the sun. Although, the entire point of being here was to stay away from the one being that took the most important thing away from me…

I guess it was stretching the truth a bit since that thing wasn't completely taken away from me. That thing was somepony, and ever since that fateful day, she had never been the same again. In a way, I've managed to grow somewhat used to it, but I know I'll never forgive myself every day I see her like this…

I moved towards the other side of the bed and gently placed a hoof on her sleeping shoulder. "Wake up. It's time for breakfast." I said as gently as I could. Her eyelids opened slowly, but the eyes underneath were as hollow and lifeless as they've always been. Despite this sight, I had to force myself to smile. "I can make you some pancakes. I know they're your favorite."

She returned no kind of positive emotion whatsoever. Her eyes softly moved from side to side, but she made no major movement. I placed a hoof on her backside and brought her upright. She continued to stare blankly at the wall of the hut.

I grabbed her hoof and gently led her out of bed. I took her outside and in front of a pit we used for campfires. From there, I positioned a skillet overhead and lit the wood at the bottom on fire. Next, I proceeded to begin cooking a custom kind of mix that somepony else helped make me.

In the middle of making these pancakes, the same pony that had helped me approached me. "You need some help making those?"

It was Fluttershy, and ever since she had learned about the predicament between the two of us, she had appeared to be more than willing to stop on by to see if there was anything she could do.

"Oh. We're fine." I assured. "We don't want to trouble you or anything."

"Nonsense." She softly sat down and begin checking on the batter for herself. "After all, you always want the best for her, don't you?"

I turned back to my odd-eyed companion, and I stared at what used to be her beautiful glimmering eyes. To remember how much life and excitement used to be packed into those tiny little things, wounds that I had forcefully stitched up would break open again. For now, she only silently stared at the skillet in front of us.

"I do." I could only muster up before the waterworks would break out again.

I ended up being grateful for Fluttershy's involvement of today's breakfast. I wasn't sure if I would have been able to focus enough not to burn the pancakes I had been especially making for her in the first place. It wasn't only making the breakfast. I had to follow the usual routine of feeding the same breakfast to her. Even though she was technically capable of doing anything, she really had no will to.

That's what happens when you have every piece of your love sucked out of you.

"Thank you, Fluttershy." I expressed deeply. "Really, for everything."

"It's my pleasure." She stood up, appearing as if she was getting ready to take off somewhere. "I'm afraid I have to leave. I'm going on another morning patrol to keep a lookout for any changelings nearby."

I could feel my hoof tighten and clench to the point where I wanted to stomp the ground as hard as I could, but once again, I had to force myself to remain calm. "Right. Stay safe."

"Mm-hm." She nodded, but just before she left, I called out to her.

"Hey, Fluttershy…" I stood up and approached her. I looked into her eyes for a moment, feeling the pace of my heart beat faster.

"…yes?" She seemed to appear almost speechless, due to how physically close I had grown towards her.

There was so much I wanted to say, but more importantly, there was something I really wanted to do. I wanted to…move further with Fluttershy. Despite being in the sad state I was in, I believed I had fallen in love with her, and if I was any good at guessing, I believed she might have felt the same way about me.

So why was it so hard to just tell her?

I suppose it was because of her. To always have my mind on her instead of Fluttershy…how would she feel about that? Besides…my first love ended horribly to begin with. Fluttershy had been helping so much with caring for her, I wouldn't want to ruin that with some kind of other stupid mistake.

"Mmm…" I imprisoned my words, but my body did manage to surprisingly embrace her for several seconds.

When we pulled away there was a light blush hiding in her cheeks. "I'll be fine. Don't worry."

I could only nod and watch as she returned a soft smile before leaving off for her patrol. I turned back to see my emotionless longtime filly friend staring at her plate. I didn't know what it was that attracted me towards Fluttershy. Sometimes, I honestly felt it was because she reminded me of my first love.

After eating, I took her back inside the hut. There was really nothing else to do but to leave her someplace to be. I thought about putting her back in bed, but I decided to just leave her by the window. There were also times I wondered what exactly the situation was with her.

Ever since the incident, she always acted like if she was asleep with her eyes open, doing utterly nothing until I did something for her. But I honestly couldn't help but wonder if she was still in there. The real her. Deep down inside, did she still know who I was? Did she still know my name? Was the only thing keeping her back the loss of every feeling known to her?

Whatever it was, I could only hope and wish every day that she'd be back to her normal self, even if it was just bit by bit. However, watching these years go by, and not a trace of change come from her, makes me believe that it was most likely wishful thinking.

I usually stayed inside the hut with her for the most part, just so I could keep an eye on her. I didn't believe she ever moved unless I moved her myself. That being the case, I could easily go out without having to worry about her going anywhere. Still, even if I knew she wouldn't move without me, something inside of me wouldn't let me leave her completely alone.

After some time, I heard commotion outside. I poked my head out to notice the morning patrol coming back into the camp. However, something had been different from the other times. There was a pony among the group, along with what looked like a small dragon accompanying her. If that wasn't enough to provide disbelief, the new pony appeared to be an Alicorn if I was seeing things right. They both wore Zecora's salve, so they definitely weren't changelings. Still… An Alicorn and a baby dragon? What the hay was going on here? This peaked my interest enough to wander outside and approach Zecora.

"Zecora? What's going on here?" I asked. "Who are they?"

"Alex!" I heard unexpectedly from one of them. It was the Alicorn, and she almost tackled me without question. "There you are! What happened to you?!"

"W-what?!" In an alarm, I pushed away the winged unicorn from her tightened grip on me. "How do you know my name? Who are you?"

"Uh…I'm guessing he's the one from this timeline…" The small dragon accompanying her spoke, each of them completely sounding nonsensical.

"Oh…right…" Her ears flopped downwards from disappointment and sadness.

So many questions had been poking in my mind, but I immediately shook them all off when I realized how great this possibility was. "You're an Alicorn, right?" I questioned. "Then…maybe you can help me with something!" I turned over to Zecora to get the greenlight. "Maybe she can help her." I referred to the pony standing utterly still back home.

Zecora didn't answer right away. Instead, after a short while, she only seemed to give a light nod. Although, what mattered most was the possibility of a long-awaited reunion, so I rushed this Alicorn back into my hut.

"I was wondering…if you could help her." I stated as I directed her attention to the young mare at the window.

The purple Alicorn returned a light gasp. "…is that…?" She went on ahead to approach her at the window, leaning in to get a good look before she partially stumbled back from shock. "What happened to her?!"

"Queen Chrysalis." I almost hissed out through my teeth. "She…she sucked all the love out of her. Out of my…" The feelings of guilt immediately began resurfacing.

"Her love?" She repeated as if she couldn't quite believe it the first time she heard. "I'm so sorry…"

"Hey…" I lifted my head, realizing that I hadn't even learned this pony's name. "I should have asked before. What's your name?"

"Twilight." She answered and glanced over to the dragon accompanying her. He had been observing the silent mare with a look of disbelief as well. "And this is Spike."

"Well, Twilight." I stepped forward with a pleading look. "Can you do anything? Can you…fix what Chrysalis did?"

Twilight turned to take another brief glance at the patient and then turned back at me with a solemn shake of the head. "No. Not that I know of." Just before my hopes could completely break in the inside, she continued speaking. "But, I can definitely fix this."

"Huh? What do you mean?" I inquired about earnestly.

"Look." She took a moment to most likely gather her thoughts. "You're probably not going to believe me, but all of this wasn't supposed to happen. Equestria isn't supposed to be in danger of Queen Chrysalis. In fact, she was stopped by my friends and me. You're…supposed to be one of my friends. I may not be able to do something in this exact timeline, but I can…" She paused for a moment. "No, I will make things right. You won't have to deal with the kind of pain you have here."

"Time? What?" I couldn't quite grasp what she had been saying. She had been speaking at a reasonable speed, but all of this out of the ordinary information caused me to mentally stumble across her words.

"A pony back in my time changed the past to where it eventually led to this." She explained as she presented the scenery outside. "You and me… We were both Alicorns. A prince and princess to be exact."

"Me? A prince?" I almost staggered back from confusion. "No way. I'm nowhere near the level of a prince."

Twilight adverted her eyes to the side in still thought. "Yeah… You wouldn't know because what you did in Canterlot when the Changelings invaded never happened…" She turned her attention back to me and looked at me seriously. "You never unlocked your potential. And now that Spirit's like that, I don't think you can." She ended on a depressive note.

I had so many questions lined up, but the one that cut to the front of the line was to what she mentioned at the end while glancing towards the filly at the window. "Spirit? Are you talking about her?"

"Yes." She nodded. "Spirit's supposed to be your light. The light responsible for you being much stronger than you think you are now."

I shook my head. "You must be mistaken. That's not her name. And she definitely isn't a kind of 'light'. At least…not literally."

"What?" Twilight appeared to be puzzled. "She's not?"

I sighed heavily, seeing as the more I thought about the past, the more unwilling I was to talk. "…she's my sister, Twilight."

Twilight's eyes widened for some odd reason. It almost looked as if she had been petrified by my apparently shocking answer. After a brief moment of silence, she responded with another question. "You said Spirit wasn't her name… What is it then?"

There was a reason I usually tried to keep myself from saying her name. I never did get used to being able to call her without my voice being vulnerable to breaking apart. In summary, I didn't completely understand what Twilight had been talking about. Apparently, we were in a timeline that wasn't supposed to exist, and it seemed that whatever timeline she had been in, my sister wasn't broken like she was now.

If this pony wasn't a legit Alicorn, I probably would have brushed it all off as somepony with a few screws loose in her head. Nevertheless, despite how uncanny this talk of 'time' sounded, I could somehow feel like she was telling the truth. I guess it was the way she spoke. Or maybe it was because of this undying hope of a better life out there that grew once she notified me of the possibility.

I didn't know who this 'Spirit' was. I wasn't even sure if she was talking about the same pony, especially given her description of said pony. However, if she really can bring things back to normal, then maybe…she can make some use of my sister's name. I know all of this was confusing. Even I didn't understand much of what I was saying. To put it simply, if I somehow return back to the pony I'm apparently supposed to be, it can help with whatever confusion there is about this 'Spirit' and my sister.

Thus, I finally told her, and for good measure, I even tacked on the fun little nickname I loved calling her by. "…but I like to call her Nene."

"Wow…" Twilight merely reacted softly, her eyes drawn to the floor as if she had learned of a subtly shocking piece of information.

"Twilight." I faced her seriously. "Look. I'm putting a lot of trust in you. It's been a long time since I've last mentioned her name because every time I do, it brings back memories that only fill me with guilt that I already have enough of. You said that you can change things back to the way they were, and since you stopped Chrysalis, then I'm guessing my sister isn't in a position where she has to live her life the way she is right now. I don't understand anything about 'time' like you apparently do, but if it means that my sister can be her old cheery self, then I'm all for it."

Twilight unexpectedly brought me in for another tightened embrace. "I will! Don't worry! I promise I will! I've got a whole lot of ponies I care about, and you're especially one of them, believe it or not. It may not exactly be you, but we'll meet each other very soon, I promise."

There was nothing in my memories that gave the faintest clue that Twilight and I had ever been together in the past, but with the way she gave meaning to her words, I just had to believe we were as close as we apparently actually were.

"Thank you, Twilight." I expressed as we pulled away. "So…what exactly is it you need to do to for this 'time' stuff?"

"There's a map back where Zecora and the others found Spike and me. We need to get back there and use a certain spell so we can set things right again."

"I guess you should get back there as soon as you can." I suggested. "I don't know if Chrysalis and her army can make any use of it for themselves, but I don't want to take any chances of her keeping you doing what you need to do."

"Got it." Twilight nodded and faced her companion Spike. "Come on, Spike."

She was able to head out the door until I stopped her. "Hang on…" I know I said I wanted her to return as soon as possible, but I couldn't help but ask one question about something I was curious about. "Back in your time…uhm…was I with…Fluttershy?"

She stared at me for a few seconds before her lips broke out into a smile and soon a genuine chuckle. "Yes. You're dating her. In fact, I think you're just about ready to ask her to marry you."

I immediately scampered back from embarrassment. "What?! Really?!"

"Guess we'll find out!" She sung teasingly before skipping out the door.

I glanced back at my sister and mentally promised I would be back. If I could be any use to Twilight on her mission, then I'd want to accompany her to this map she spoke about.

Outside, there was this sudden shriek I didn't expect to hear. Three ponies had run through the thick bushes that helped keep our camp off the radar for Chrysalis and her army. However, the first thing to take notice was the lack of Zecora's slave on their coats, so we didn't know for sure if they were real ponies or not.

"Please! You have to help us!"

"The changelings attacked Ponyville! We barely escaped with our lives!"

Twilight had begun trotting over to these ponies as if she had recognized them. Were these the friends she had mentioned having earlier?

However, Zecora placed her hoof in front of her to stop her for good reason. "The only changeling attack I see is the one that come here looking for me!"

"It's taken quite a while to find you, Zecora." The last one from the group to speak stepped forward. It wasn't until I heard that sinister laugh that I figured out who this imposter had really been.

My heart began racing as I watched her transform into the disgusting vile creature she really was. At the same time, unpleasant memories began sprinting into and through my mind. The last time I had seen her was back when she took my sister away from me.

"What a lovely village you've chosen to stage your little resistance. It looks absolutely delicious!" She stated as she roamed her eyes around and finished with a wicked licking of her lips. It was only a matter of time when she'd realize I had been a part of the village. "Oh, what do we have here?" She began to slowly approach me. "Why, if it isn't precious little 'Alex'?" She mocked as she lifted up my chin. "I thank you for that absolutely splendid meal I had last time. It really hit the spot. However, it was a real shame I couldn't take the leftovers for home, but it looks like I might just be in for a really good dessert."

If I had any magic, I would have surely blasted something right in her face, but all I could do was aggressively slap her confronting hoof away from me. It was at that time that somepony bravely joined me at my side, holding the tip of a spear towards her neck.

"Back away from him, Chrysalis!" Fluttershy sternly ordered.

"Oh!" Chrysalis was rather joyfully surprised than intimidated. "Oh! I see this pony cares very deeply for you! Looks like I'm in for a very special treat! Originally, I had planned to only take Zecora hostage to the dungeons of Canterlot, but this spread is too good to pass up on!"

Every one of us took notice on how the skies soon filled up with many more changelings. There were too many, and that's because the queen herself had been with us! I quickly glanced behind me to find Twilight. If she wanted any chance of going back, she needed to leave now!

Zecora had been hushing something towards Twilight before she turned back to Chrysalis in an aggressive stance. Twilight returned a hefty nod before sending a quick glance over to me and rushing out from the hostile area.

"Try as you might, but we will not give up without a fight!" Zecora exclaimed out before signaling everypony to charge on ahead against our enemy.

Zecora was the first one to try to take on Chrysalis, but she had immediately been pushed towards the ground by the queen's magic. It was after this when Chrysalis turned towards me as she sinisterly licked her lips. All I could do was cautiously back away, seeing as I did not even have a weapon to defend myself with.

"Don't worry, my dear little pony. You will join your precious sister very soon! That way, you'll become the very twins you were meant to be!"

As she prepared herself to pounce on me, Fluttershy stepped in and shoved the stick of her spear through her teeth, preventing her from moving for a brief moment. "Alex! Hurry! You've got to take her and try to find someplace safe!"

"But I can't just leave you here! I…"

"Go!" Fluttershy shouted through her naturally tender tone. "You have to go!"

It was only a matter of time before Chrysalis was able to snap the spear in half by chomping through with her extremely sharp fangs.

"Face it! You'd have nowhere to hide, so you might as well give up now and face your doom!"

Fluttershy attempted to fend off Chrysalis on her own, but Chrysalis had been able to easily overpower her. "Why don't I start with you, hm? You've been quite a nuisance. You may as well be my appetizer!" Greatly inhaling any kind of scent Fluttershy must have had, she appeared to take a great liking to it. "Hahaha!" Chrysalis cackled. "I hope you've realized how much you meant to this pony, Alex, because I can smell a great deal of love from her! A love for you that is!"

"Go! Please!" Fluttershy stared at me with pleading eyes. It was almost as if she had already accepted her demise for my sake.

No… Not her. Not anyone. You've already taken so much from me Chrysalis! You can't do this all over again! You just can't!

"Stop, Chrysalis!" I begged, desperately grasping for any chance she might actually be willing to comply. "You can't do this! Not again!"

"Oh, when will you understand…" Chrysalis solemnly shook her head out of disappointment. "You should know by now that the more you cry, the more delicious your love grows!" At that point, she focused her eyes directly at Fluttershy. A green glow emitted from her horn, and soon Fluttershy was staring back at Chrysalis as if underneath hypnosis.

I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be scared at that moment, but I could only feel my blood boil and bubble throughout my entire body. "I said STOP!"

A surge of energy suddenly emitted through me and landed externally in the direction of Queen Chrysalis. From what I could notice through my unrelenting rage, Chrysalis had been staggered back and immensely taken back by surprise. "What?!"

Fluttershy was no longer within her grasp, leaving me a clear-cut target to release my pent-up rage against. "I don't care what I have to do, you're not taking someone else I love away from me!" I screamed.

Afterwards, everything became a blur. A rage-induced blur. I remember striking things almost randomly, and it felt as if my energy was limitless. It wasn't until I heard my name being called by a familiar voice when I began calming down.

Alex! It's okay! I'm here!

Nene…? Is that you?

It was definitely her! But how?!

Alex, calm down! I'm right here with you!

I could now hear my breathing slowing down, but it took a moment before things in my vision were beginning to clear up. Eventually, I was able to see who had been in front of me and holding me tightly. To my disappointment, it wasn't my sister. However, to my relief, it was actually Fluttershy, and by the way she acted, it was safe to say that she had been alright.

"Fluttershy…?" I stated weakly, suddenly feel my energy leak out at an alarming rate. "…what…?"

I took a look around me to notice ponies from our village attempting to recover from battle. There were a few changelings that had been knocked out on the ground. However, their army had been nowhere in sight.

With a slight limp, I could see Zecora make her way over to me. "Of all the things I've seen, I never thought I'd see such power against the queen."

"Power…? What…?"

I had no idea what happened, but I had been carried over inside to be tended to by Fluttershy. Those that suffered worrying injuries would be taken care of those who had sustained minor damage. It took a while until I finally heard from Fluttershy that we had somehow miraculously won the battle. I didn't believe it at first when Fluttershy told me I had grew a horn and wings and went on to relentlessly attack Queen Chrysalis.

It apparently wasn't enough to flat out destroy her, but she was shocked and shaken enough that she called for a retreat. My horn and wings had disappeared after the battle, and I really had no idea how to get them back if that was indeed what happened.

"They're gone for now…" Fluttershy mentioned as she tenderly brushed her hoof against aching parts of my body. "But Zecora believes it won't be long before they're back."

I sighed heavily. "I hope Twilight was right… I don't want to ever have to deal with something like that again."

Fluttershy didn't answer. Instead, she nestled her head against mine for a moment before she spoke again. "I told you to leave, but you didn't."

"I wasn't going to leave you out there." I responded honestly. "I already can't live with myself after what happened with her. Honestly, there probably wouldn't be any point in living if you ended up the same way…"

Fluttershy gazed at my eyes before she hovered her face over me and quietly planted her soft lips on mine. It was a good heartfelt moment before she lightly pulled away. "If we're not so lucky next time, then I want to at least have gotten that out of the way."

The two of us continued to stare at each other in silence before we unexpectedly heard a whisper by the bed I had been in.


It was my sister! She…she was actually talking?!


Shadow of the Night

"I love you, you know? So, can't you hug me for once?"

I simply sighed due to overwhelming frustration. If I hadn't been disciplined by Mother, I probably would have thrown an unnecessary outburst. "This is why Mother is always throwing you into the cell." I responded as I continued to wipe down my armor until I could clearly see my reflection. "You need to stop being so needy and learn to depend on yourself for a change."

"But, you're my brother, Alex!" My unfortunately disagreeing sister argued. We were literally different as day and night. "I've been feeling so lonely lately…especially when I'm thrown into the cell just for being the way I am. You didn't always be like this, you know? It wasn't until she came in and ruined everything!"

"Our Mother provided us a safe place to stay. She's the one who's protecting us from creatures like Chrysalis. You can't expect her to let us just do whatever we want. We're supposed to learn to fend for ourselves and make sure we make no mistakes in what she wants from us." I finally placed on my headpiece and prepared to stand guard by my Mother in the throne room.

"But did she really have to take out the day of our everyday lives? I'm telling you she's evil, Alex! She doesn't care about you! She's only using you for herself!"

I returned a stern look to her uncontrollable outburst. "You're lucky that I'm your brother. You speak like that around Mother and you'll find yourself inside the dungeon cell for another night. And I'm sure you know how even darker it is down there."

With an almost silent sigh, my sister looked away. I knew I was a changed pony, but it was for the better. I couldn't waste my time worrying about others' feelings. What was most important was getting things done.

I stationed myself by the left side of her throne and remained absolutely quiet. I was supposed to speak only when spoken to. The only thing on my mind was to keep watch.

"Was your sister giving you trouble again?" She asked.

"Do not mind her." I responded without taking my eyes off what was in front of me. "She simply does not understand the importance of your rule around here."

My Mother sighed in disappointment. "That one is so much trouble. In fact, she reminds me far too much of my sister. Perhaps I should just send her to the moon as well."

"I will straighten her out." I promised. "Whatever it takes, I will do it."

"I would absolutely love that. You were a little difficult to break in, but you managed to adjust yourself nicely. If only she was as keen as you are to do the same. After all, I had intentionally meant to have the both of you up here with me, rather than just you."

"In due time, that will be." I ended before finding a strange pony enter the room. For some strange reason, she immediately approached Rarity, who had been ordered to tend to the décor throughout the castle. "We have an unexpected visitor inside the castle, Mother."

"Who is it?" She asked, appearing to look unwilling to look for herself.

"I don't know, but I'm afraid this is no ordinary visitor." I mentioned, taking the details of this specific pony into account.

"And why is that?"

"Unless I'm mistaken, she is an Alicorn."

My Mother immediately threw her head forward and looked in the direction I had been facing at. "Now just what is this we have here?"

"I have to get back to the map so I can stop Starlight from changing the past, because every present I come to is worse than the last!" Her voice echoed.

"Time travel, you say?" My Mother raised her voice so that her presence would be known. "Now that's something I would like to see." After a robust laughter, she found the matter interesting enough to engage it from outside her seat. I continued to give a silent but an extremely focused watch. "Tell me how you came by this magic to travel through time."

"The princess asked you a question!" Rainbow Dash, another member of Mother's royal guard exerted rather loudly. "And unless you wanna end up in the dungeon, you'll tell her what she wants to know!"

"Nopony in my kingdom but me should possess a magic powerful enough to change time." Mother asserted.

"Your kingdom?" A small dragon that seemed to accompany this Alicorn for some reason felt brave enough to ask. I wonder if it was just some runt she picked up in the Everfree Forest. After all, even dragons weren't exactly safe from my Mother's power.

"Who else?" Mother demanded as if she took great offense to that.

"Um... Celestia, of course!" He pointed out with a hint of hesitation under his voice.

Even her very own royal guard appeared frightened of the possibility of Mother releasing her might right then and there, but she only cackled loudly in a boastful manner. "My sister has been imprisoned in the moon for years! But it is no less a fate than she'd sentence me to! Now, reveal to me the source of this time magic!"

"...Alright." This pony submitted quite easily under my Mother's orders. However, being an Alicorn, I wouldn't be so swayed by her words.

"Twilight, no!" Her accomplice objected.

"We have no choice, Spike." She returned her reasoning. "I can take you to it, but you'll have to get past the timberwolves."

This pony was surely a jokester. She might just fit in as Mother's jester.

"I am the ruler of all of Equestria. Do you think I can't deal with timberwolves?"

"No. I know you can."

"And if you were thinking of trying to escape..." Mother grabbed ahold of the dragon and chained him up tight with her magic. "...it would be very unfortunate for your friend." It was then when she turned her head in my direction and introduced another order. "Alexander, come! You will be accompanying me on this trip. That is, unless you are afraid of some weak measly timberwolves?"

"Hm." I could essentially laugh at that little piece of her humor. Having been officially relieved of my current duty, I walked on ahead and joined my Mother by her side. The Alicorn had noticed me, and she stared at me long enough for me to find it annoyingly questionable. "Move." I ordered.

In the forest, I was given the task of handling these wretched wooden beasts. A simple touch of magic was enough to scare them away. However, there was no mercy for any caught within my sight. Since I would be busy in keeping watch out for any other intruders, my Mother kept her hold onto the dragon.

I didn't know what her reasoning was, but she didn't have another pony keep a direct watch over the dragon. I was more than willing to do it, but I suppose her pride didn't agree with that idea. We were taken to a table that appeared to have a map. This immediately caused my Mother to probe this Alicorn for questions.

"How does it work?"

"A pony from my time used this spell to travel back and change the past."

"And now you will give this spell to me! With it, I will ensure that the Elements of Harmony are never found and my reign lasts forever!"

"But it won't." This Alicorn was surely brave enough to risk harm towards her apparent friend. I was almost encouraged enough to warn her about her disrespectful attitude.

"What?!" My Mother faced this pony in anger. It seemed she had had enough.

"In my world, my friends and I found the Elements and used them to defeat you! And I will do everything in my power to bring that world back!"

As soon as I noticed the Alicorn disappear from sight, I immediately began charging up a magical surge that swelled up to my horn. I had to admit, not only was this pony brave, but she was quite skilled as she was able to free her dragon in mere seconds before reappearing on the table. She wasn't to be taken lightly, and I didn't plan to let her go.

Right before she was allowed to fire another spell, I struck her down with my own. She had been knocked off the table, allowing my Mother to begin working up another spell to hold her captive. However, she quickly avoided it by the use of teleportation and disappeared into the forest.

"I've got this." I volunteered. There was no way I was saying this out loud, but because of Mother's pride, she had almost gotten away.

"I will stand watch here. Do not fail me, Alexander." She ordered with an almost intimidating tone. I supposed her mood had been quickly spoiled by the slip up. "I need this magic."

"I understand. As long as she's in the dark, she has nowhere to hide."

Usually, that would have been a strange and absurd thing to hear back when there was still day. However, being a shadow of the night certainly had its perks.

Having followed her scent, I was able to appear out of the shadows just like magic. She had been searching frantically around with her dragon. She was possibly trying to catch her breath and figure out a way to escape, but I was sure she didn't expect to see me so suddenly.

"Running off like that won't help." I heard her gasp as she quickly turned in my direction.

"Alex, please!" She pleaded, knowing my old shortened name for some reason. "Let me go!"

"Why should I?" I paid no mind to it. I supposed she knew me from the timeline she had apparently been in.

"I'm trying to fix things! You or anypony else in that castle isn't supposed to be there."

"Listen…" I decided to wrap things up. I couldn't keep Mother waiting for too long. "I'd love to keep listening to how things aren't supposed to be and stuff, but if I keep my Mother waiting too long, she's going to get really impatient. Besides, even if I let you go do what you need to do, it's like you said, you and your 'friends' stopped Nightmare Moon. My Mother. And if that's the case, then I must be pretty vulnerable back where you're from."

"Yes, we stopped Nightmare Moon back where I'm from, but you're not vulnerable at all! In fact, instead of Nightmare Moon, you have a caring mother who loves you to death. Believe me!"

I sincerely wanted to laugh in disbelief. "Sorry, but I don't think I can believe a pony who's desperately trying to weasel her way out of some trouble. You'd say anything to get by."

"It's the truth!" She persisted.

"Whatever. You're coming with me whether you like it or not."

As I moved a step forward, she immediately hovered a hoof in front of Spike. "Get back, Spike!"

"You really think I'm after your dragon?" I asked. "Right now, my only interest is you."

"I don't want to fight you, Alex." She returned a serious look.

"It's either that or come quietly." I offered. "No surprises this time. Your choice." I gave her some time to make that choice, but all she could do was stare back at me in silence. It was pretty clear that she wasn't intending to give up so easily. "Fighting it is."

"No!" I heard and immediately felt somepony grab ahold of me. I was about to forcefully throw this pony off until I realized who it was. It had been my sister.

"What are you doing?! Get off of me!" I ordered.

"No!" She exclaimed. "If it means we can have a better life than this, then I won't!"

Had she been eavesdropping on us the entire time!?

"Get off or I'll have no choice but to—!" I suddenly felt the both of us become enclosed inside a tight space. As I looked back, I apprehended that we had been trapped inside a magic barrier. "What?!"

Outside, Twilight approached the bubble. "I'm sorry, but I have to do this! I promise to turn everything back to the way it was!"

"No!" I exclaimed in frustration and attempted to use my dark magic to get out, but it wasn't any use. The barrier made it impossible. "Do you realize what you just did?!" I angrily glared over towards my sister. "Why do you always have to mess things up!?" I raised my hoof, feeling the absolute need to strike something.

"Fine. Hit me." She unexpectedly allowed.

As much as I did want to hit something, the more I observed her face, the more I felt my anger slip. I looked away and grunted out loud. "You better hope our Mother stops her…"

"She won't." She quite confidently believed, as if she knew something I didn't.

I sighed heavily and felt utterly powerless for the first time in a long time. Why was it that she was always able to somehow bring out my soft spot when I've spent the past years trying to get rid of it? I wasn't supposed to care about things like feelings. That's what was supposed to make me strong. Yet…

"I did this because I love you, Alex." She admitted.

I merely scoffed and shook my head, ignoring it completely. "We're going to be thrown into that cell for years…"

It All Turns into Dust

With everything destroyed, it felt as I had finally achieved utter silence. I was finally able to do absolutely nothing, as there was nothing to do to begin with. I could finally feel at peace. No more hurt. No more loss. All I had to do was just wait until my time came to an end.

"Come on, Starlight, look around!"

A disturbance.

I couldn't have it. I needed the silence.

"Like I said, everything in the past affects the future, even the tiniest act. And what you're doing leads here. I know I can't stop you, but I thought showing you this might change your mind."

"Change my mind? You don't know anything about me! I was perfectly happy before you and your friends ruined what I built!"

Arriving at the scene which ruined the existence of my personal paradise, I focused my obscure attention to those who were responsible. Two ponies and a dragon. Catching my presence, they turned and noticed me silently eyeing them.

"And who are you supposed to be?!" The one that had been shouting the entire time demanded an answer from me. However, I felt no need to give it. Instead, all I wanted was to be rid of these intruders. And who better than to start with the loudest and most annoying one?

She only stared back as I slowly raised my hoof from underneath my dark and sand-ridden cloak. Finally, I focused my power and grabbed her by the neck to slowly lift her up. She immediately began struggling to free herself, even going as far as to make an attempt in using her magic, but it was no use.

"Let me go!"

She needed to be struck with fear. She needed to know who was in charge here.

I proceeded to remove my hood and glare directly into her eyes. "Be gone!" I commanded.

"Wait! Stop!" The other ordered. "Don't do this!" I had no intention of doing so until I had been unexpectedly called out. "…is that you? Alex?"

I slowly turned towards this purple pony, mostly out of interest. I released my grip of the loud one and began stepping towards the purple one. "And who might you be?"

"I'm Twilight! Your friend!" She returned.

"I don't know how, but this must be this timeline's version of him, Twilight! We need to go! Come on!" The dragon behind her stated.

"In your dreams!" The loud one exclaimed and seemed to forcefully take a piece of paper off the dragon. "I'm going back, and the two of you are staying here with him!"

"No!" The dragon objected.

The more I heard this loud one speak, the more I wanted to obliterate her myself. Just as she had jumped onto the odd table that had been in the area, I grabbed ahold of her and threw her a distance away.

"The three of you are disturbing the silence I have created here for myself." I spoke. "I will take care of this issue by my own hooves."

As I began preparing my dark magic, my spellcasting had suddenly been interrupted by the purple one. She had fired a beam at me, causing me to draw up a barrier to deflect it.

"Spike! Hurry! Get the spell! I'll distract him!" She ordered.

And so, the little dragon began scampering towards the loud one.

"I was going to start with the loud one first…" I informed. "But seeing as you're an Alicorn, you do have the highest potential of causing the most trouble…" I then began to direct my attention towards this new target. "Very well then. I'll begin with you."

As much as I wanted to bask in silence once again, I handled this matter with great patience. However, as I focused on ridding this Alicorn, I could hear the commotion between the dragon and the loud one.

"What do you think you're doing, Starlight?! You've got to give it back so we can get out of here!"

"No! I've had enough of you two ruining everything! You took everything I had, so it's time that I finally repay the favor!"

She attempted to flee towards the table, but the dragon managed to reach her and climb on top of her. He desperately tried to reach for the scroll she had held with her magic. "Are you selfish, Starlight? If it wasn't for Twilight, who knows what would have happened to you?! She was the only one who stuck up for you when you were in trouble just a while ago, and now she's still sticking up for you to keep you safe! What's your problem?!"

"Grrr!" She growled. "You two just don't get it, do you?! Fine then! I'll show you!"

Firing her magic onto the scroll she had been holding, a glow began to be emitted by the table. To my pleasure, they had immediately disappeared in sight. All that was left was this single Alicorn. She looked back to find that they were gone. I suspected that she would jump in to avoid the pain I'd inflict on her. However, she shared one last saddened glance at me before fleeing towards the table and disappearing.

At last, besides the howling wind, all I could hear was absolutely nothing.

I placed back on the hood of my cloak and closed my eyes. I proceeded to sit back down and remain there for as long as I had left in this land.

It was only a matter of time before I would be reunited with her.

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