• Published 20th Jan 2012
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The Third Generation - Candle Light

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The Third Generation Chapter Two

The Third Generation

Chapter Two

By Candle Light

“Stay calm, there is no need for alarm,” the Zebra said. “I sensed chaos within them, but they cannot yet do harm. I doubt they’ll grow to be another Discord or Nightmare Moon, but nonetheless, Celestia must be informed soon.”

Twilight mind was frantically trying to piece it all together. The newcomers had appeared out of nowhere, from another Ponyville, and apparently shape-shifted into near-copies of the ponies who shared their names. And Zecora sensed Discord within them? Maybe Pinkie Pie was right; maybe they were from another dimension.

“I tried to tell you,” remarked Spike, pulling out a scroll and a quill from under his scales. “Just tell me what to write.”

“Not now, Spike! I need to collect my thoughts.”

“Uhm,” the less poofy-maned Pinkie Pie spoke up in a timid tone in her voice that reminded more of Fluttershy than Pinkie Pie. “Please don’t hate us. Whatever we did, we’re sorry.”

“Nobody hates you,” Twilight assured. “We’re just, well, surprised by all this.”

“Surprised is an understatement,” added the pegasus Rainbow Dash. “Look, we’re sorry, Pinkie…”

“That’s okay, Dashie,” hyper-Pinkie said gleefully. “We’re cool.”

“Not you! Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be! What I’m saying is, you’re probably more shocked about this than we are; it’s just that Discord is a bit of a sore subject for all of us.”

“Okay… so, what’s gonna happen to us now?”

“That’s for Princess Celestia to decide,” said Twilight. “For now, we go back to Ponyville, get you settled. I’ll write the letter as soon as we get back; I suspect she will want to summon you to the castle.”

“Let’s not forget about the party!” the poofy-maned Pinkie Pie interjected. “You said you’d help me prepare it, remember!”

“Oh yeah!” the other Pinkie Pie remembered, breaking a smile. “We could sure use one after all this gloomy talk.”

Twilight was torn on the idea. While they sure needed something to take their minds of things, her instincts told her she ought to hit the library, try to find out all she could about Discord... but of course, knowing Pinkie Pie, there would be none of that. Then there was the matter of explaining this to the rest of Ponyville. Even omitting recent revelations, the whole thing was still a bit freaky. She supposed they could try passing them off as relatives to Pinkie and Dash; if nothing else, one could tell them apart by their manes.

At this point, the other Rainbow Dash was regaining consciousness. “Oh, darlings,” she muttered, “I had the strangest dream.” But the moment she saw Zecora and Twilight, her expression instantly spoke terror.

“It’s okay, Rainbow Dash,” said her pink friend, giving her a comforting smile. “They don’t hate us or anything. We’re going to have a party soon, and then we’re going to see the Princess!”

“A-a-a party?” replied the cerulean earth pony. “How can you still be thinking about the party? We need to find our friends! And if we embody the spirits of chaos…!”
“Look, we’re not sure of anything yet,” Twilight tried to calm her. “The princess will know what to do; for now, let’s just head back to Ponyville. You two could use some rest, I’m sure. Thanks again for everything, Zecora.”

“You are quite welcome, Twilight dear. If you ever need my help, know that I’m always near.”

***

The trip back to Ponyville passed mostly in silence, which pegasus Rainbow Dash found uncomfortable. Her clone still seemed shaken, but once or twice she would ask a question or two about Ponyville or the forest, still repeating the word ‘darling’ in every sentence. Rainbow Dash herself couldn’t quite put her hoof on it, but the whole ordeal made her very uneasy. She knew full well that none of this was the fault of the two newcomers, but all the same, she could barely stand to look at them. As soon as they had exited the forest, Rainbow Dash excused herself, flying back towards her home in the clouds. The other pegasi could do her job for one day; she needed some alone time.

But fate had other plans, as she heard Fluttershy calling from the ground below. Too late she realized she had flown over her cottage. Part of her wanted to ignore her and fly away, pretend she hadn’t heard her, but eye-contact was already met, and she felt that would be a little too head-strong even for her. Besides, Fluttershy was already on her way up to meet her.

“How did it go?” asked Fluttershy, a worried look on her face. “Was Zecora able to tell you anything?”

“Yeah, apparently they’ve got Discord’s magic in them.”

Fluttershy’s eyes widened in terror, her flapping becoming irregular. “D-d-discord? B-but how? Why?”

“I don’t know, okay?!” Dash shot, a bit more fierce than she had intended. Noticing that her friend was starting to have trouble keeping herself airborne, she motioned for them to descend. When they touched the ground, she said, “I’m sorry, Fluttershy. Everything’s just been so… bizarre lately.”

“I can only imagine,” said Fluttershy compassionately, having calmed herself a bit. “All the more if Discord is behind this. Did Zecora say anything else?”

“Only to contact the princess as soon as possible. Twilight’s on it as we speak.”

“That’s good. I think you’d better go home and get some rest. You don’t look so good.”

Dash bit her lip. She hated showing her weak side to Fluttershy – she had done her best to avoid the subject during the earlier visit today – but truth to be told, she needed somepony to talk to. “Oh Fluttershy, I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she opened up to her friend. “Whenever I see that… clone, I get annoyed. She looks just like me, but she acts just like Rarity. It’s like her very existence is mocking me.”

“You don’t have a problem with Rarity, do you?” asked Fluttershy worriedly.

“Rarity’s fine, because she isn’t trying to be me,” Dash replied. But then she shook her head. “And neither does she. I know it’s not her fault, and that she’s probably way more weirded out than I am – she’s fainted twice already! – but it’s like whenever I look at her, I see what I could have become… gosh, when did I become so petty?”

“You’re not petty, Rainbow Dash, we all have our rough days,” Fluttershy comforted. Being her oldest friend, she always seemed to know just the right things to say. “Your cutie mark isn’t just for show, you know; you’re the bravest pony I know. You know what I think? You should go talk to this girl, get to know her better. Just because you have the same name and appearance, it doesn’t mean you’re the same person. It’s the inside that counts, right?”

“You know what, you’re right! I can’t avoid her forever. I’ll talk to her at the party tonight.”

“Pinkie Pie is throwing a party tonight?”

“She didn’t tell you yet? Both of them are, actually. That’s gotta be interesting, at least. Anyway, thanks for listening. You’re a real pal.”

“Not at all,” replied her yellow-coated pegasus friend, giving her a hug. “You know I’m always there for you when you need me.”

***

“And over there is Ponyville’s Retirement Center,” said Rarity, pointing with a hoof. “Be mindful of that hill though, things tend to come rolling down from there. They ought to set up a fence or something, if you ask me, but the residents up there say it’s ‘part of their image’”

“Oh my,” spoke Rainbow Dash. After a quick nap at Rarity’s boutique – a magnificent establishment indeed – the pearl-white unicorn had been kind enough to take her on a tour around Ponyville. “Your town certainly does have everything, doesn’t it?”

“We have what we need to get by,” Rarity replied. “This place is just a backwater town compared to places like Canterlot, or Manehattan.”

“It’s much bigger than the Ponyville I’m used to, I assure you. I would much like to see this ‘Canterlot’ someday.”

“It’s right over there!” Rarity pointed to a distant, where what looked like a white castle could be seen perched on the mountain. “That’s where all the high-society folks live.”

“Such as Princess Celestia?”

“Exactly! They know my name up there, I’ll have you know. Though it does help being best friends with the Princess’ personal protege.”

“You do have the air of a royalty,” Rainbow Dash admitted. “I was a princess too, once, but despite what my friends like to believe, I’m hardly befitting of such a title.”

“Why, whatever happened, dear?”

“It’s a funny story, really; my friend, Wysteria, found an ancient flower that crowned her a Princess, but once she realized it did nothing but isolate her from her friends, she declared everyone in Ponyville a princess. That was months ago, and the fad has long since gone.”

“I see,” said Rarity, seemingly unsure of how to react to the story. “I didn’t know Princesses weren’t allowed to have friends. Or that a flower could grant you’re the privilege…”

“Oh, no one is quite sure what goes on inside Spike’s head.” She took note of Rarity’s incredulous look, and added. “He’s Ponyville’s local sage, a dragon of immense knowledge. That’s right!” she suddenly realized, “Twilight’s baby dragon was called Spike as well, was he not?”

“Yes… quite a coincidence, isn’t it,” said Rarity, giving off a nervous laugh. “Speaking of coincidence, didn’t you say there was a Princess Rarity where you’re from?”

“Only until the next Rainbow Celebration. But she’s not from Ponyville; she lives in the Rainbow Castle of Unicornia.”

Rarity blinked, giving Rainbow Dash a blank expression. “Unicornia?”

“Why, yes, Unicornia. Where I come from, each type of pony has their own home land. We’re all good friends, but we don’t share a village like you do.”

“That’s interesting,” Rarity said, looking more and more dumbfounded. “According to the history books, Unicornia was the name the Unicorn Princess wanted to dub this land before the tribes united to found Equestria. Of course, Unicornia is rather generic name, so it could just as well be a coincidence… but then, what hasn’t been a coincidence lately.”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you,” the local Pinkie Pie said, popping out of a trash can. A banana peel hung from her mane. “These two are from another dimension! And the party’s almost ready, by the way. You might wanna show up before it gets too crowded.” She jumped out of the trash can and skipped off around the corner. Rainbow Dash exchanged looks with Rarity, who looked alarmingly unalarmed.

“Does she always do that?”

“Yes. Yes she does. I think it’s best we get going; she doesn’t like it when we’re late.”

***

The newcomer Pinkie Pie stepped back to admire her work. She and her sister-in-name-and-looks had proved an excellent team; while she herself had a knack for organizing and designing the decorations, the other Pinkie Pie had been an extremely fast worker putting them up just where she wanted them. It also helped that they were on the same wave-length, their opinions seldom clashing, and when they did, the other Pinkie often let her have her way. She still wasn’t used to carrying stuff in her mouth, but she was slowly learning.

“Wow!” the other pink party pony admired. “It looks amazing! I’ve never seen a party with quite much pink!”

“Pink is a great color, wouldn’t you agree?” said Pinkie Pie. “You use it surprisingly little for someone named Pinkie Pie.”

“Oh, I like all colors. My favorite depends on what mood I am. Right now it’s is blue. No, yellow, yellow! But pink is fine.”

Getting used to her other’s hyperactive nature had admittedly been difficult at first. When the other Pinkie Pie had first discovered her lost in a forest of apple trees, she had grabbed her by the mane, flung her up on her back and rushed into the store, making her promise to stay hidden in there, and then started bombarding her with questions. But now that she had gotten to know her better, she found these traits amusing. She always had a joke to crack, and her constant positive nature was hard not to absorb. Still, being with her for so long had wore her out; as much as she looked forward to the party, she found herself longing instead for a soft bed to collapse in.

It wasn’t long before their friends started to show up, first of all being…

“Oh darlings, this looks simply smashing!” commended Rainbow Dash, looking around the room. “A bit monotonous for my taste, of course, but your mastery of pink never ceases to amaze me.”

“I have to say, I quite adore what you did with the banner,” added Rarity. “Seven shades of pink in heart shapes within one another, how clever.”

“Boy howdy!” came another voice from the door. “Ah haven’t seen this much pink since… just now, Ah reckon. Ah do apologize for mah manners earlier; ah plum forgot to introduce mahself. The name’s Applejack, and Ah work the apple farm ‘round these parts. Best apples you’ll ever find in all of Equestria.”

“And I’m Fluttershy,” introduced the yellow pegasus beside her. “I run an animal shelter just outside of town.”

“Happy to meet both of you,” said Pinkie Pie. “I’m Pinkie Pie, but I guess you knew that already.”

“Good thing your mane is so different,” Fluttershy commented. “Otherwise we couldn’t tell you two apart.”

“Ohmygosh, you’re right! Pinkie, we need to fluff up your mane! Just think of all the pranks we'll be able to pull if everypony think there are two of us! We could be at two places at once!”

“Pranks?” repeated Pinkie Pie. “No offense, but I’d rather keep my mane as it is. I think it’s a good thing people can tell us apart.”

“Ah vote for that,” agreed Applejack. “Confusing enough as it is.”

“Aww,” the Pinkie Pie with the fluff expressed her disappointment, but was soon distracted as she caught sight of the first guests. “Ohh, there they come! Come here Pinkie, stand right here, beside me. And remember to greet them with a smile, just like this!”

Pinkie Pie did her best to emulate her lookalike’s expression, and soon found herself just as amused when the ponies stopped in their track, gasped and stared. All the questions that were inevitably thrown at them were answered by giggles from the other party pony, or a vague response like ‘you’ll see’. When she deemed that enough guests had arrived, and every eye was on them, she put on her announcing voice. “Welcome, everypony! This is my distant cousin from distant village, and she’ll be staying here for awhile. Can anypony guess her name? It’s Pinkie Pie! Can you believe it? I sure can’t!”

“Nice to meet you, every…pony,” greeted Pinkie Pie back.

“But enough about that, let’s party!” As per magic, bass-heavy music started playing, and it wasn’t long before it drew the attention away from her. Some started dancing, others were hitting the refreshments, while some remained to ask her more questions. Where did she come from again? What brought her to Ponyville? As instructed, she stuck to the story the other Pinkie had made up for her: she was from a rock farm far across the mountains to the north, owned by Pinkie’s fathers uncle’s cousin’s daughter, and that one day when was a traveling circus came to town, she had decided to become a party planner, which is why she’d come to see her cousin.

“I never knew the Pie family had a farm up north,” a dark purple mare told her. “What town did you say it belonged to?”

“Oh, it’s just a small rural town,” she replied. “Locals call it Ponyville, actually.”

“Well, you’re not too far from home, then,” laughed the mare. “Have a nice stay!”

“I certainly will!” As the guest moved along, Pinkie Pie was glad to see that ponies weren’t paying too much attention to her anymore; if she could, she would have fallen asleep on the floor right there. The attention was instead drawn to Rainbow Dash, who was getting a similar treatment, to which Twilight was helping her explain to them how she too was from the same backwater village up north. The pegasus Rainbow Dash, she noted, were still nowhere to be seen.

Pinkie Pie, deciding she wouldn’t make good company at the moment anyway, made her way to the door. Telling the other Pinkie she was going out for fresh air – to which she wasn’t sure if there even was response – she stepped outside and let the cool evening air hit her face. It was such a nice and warm evening, the sun setting over the rooftops, the only noise coming from the party back inside. Walking a few paces, she lay down on the ground, resting her tired legs. Before she knew it, her mind had drifted off into sleep.

***

Rainbow Dash was quite enjoying herself. There was certainly quite a lot more hullabaloo than what she was used to from a Pinkie Pie party, but the atmosphere was friendly and the refreshments divine. The residents of Ponyville were a nice bunch indeed, more than willing to share stories about their town and its traditions. And while Twilight Sparkle had made her promise to stay quiet about her circumstances, she took the opportunity to share some tales from her own town, with reactions ranging from utter disbelief to laughter. The Rainbow Celebration seemed especially foreign; in Equestria, it seemed, rainbows were made in a place called Cloudsdale, the capital of the pegasi; a fact she found absolutely fascinating.

Speaking of pegasi, Rainbow Dash had not yet seen her counterpart show up. Part of her, as much as she loathed admitting it to herself, was glad she hadn’t: her other was hardly ill-natured, but her rough demeanor made it hard for her to find common ground. Truly, as if her change in appearance wasn’t mystifying enough, the pony she now resembled was of the complete opposite personality.

Her train of thoughts was interrupted as she felt a tapping on her shoulders. She turned around, and could not help but be taken aback when she saw the very pony she had been thinking about stand right there. “Hi,” she greeted; she noticed how her eyes were shifting uncomfortably. “Do you have a second?”

“Why of course, darling!” Whatever it was she was going to say, having a chat with this fellow was the best way to get rid of any unpleasantries that might spring up between them. “Whatever is on your mind?”

“Not here… everypony is staring at us.” Sure enough, the other Rainbow Dash’s appearance had drawn most all attention on them. “Let’s get some air.”

All eyes were on them as they made their way to the door, but no one tried to stop them, and a well-timed party stunt from Pinkie Pie drew their attention away from them long enough so that no one noticed them slipping out.

“Oh my,” the wingless Rainbow Dash said when she found her sleeping friend on the ground. “She must have been bushed to the bone.”

“I bet,” agreed her other. Letting her sleep, they walked passed a few buildings and into the town square, where they halted. The pegasus Rainbow Dash turned her attention to her doppelganger. “Look, I… I’m sorry for pulling your hair back there.”

“Oh, that? Darling, think nothing of it.”

“It’s not just that. It feels like I’ve been a really poor sport this whole time. I mean, obviously you and I are connected somehow, but we’re the total opposite, and… I was just too weirded out by the whole thing, didn’t stop to think how you would feel. Forgive me?” The fluster on her face made it obvious that she wasn’t used to this sort of situation, but the awkward smile made it clear her intentions were pure.

“Oh darling!” Rainbow Dash returned the smile, all doubt she had about her before fading away. “Of course I forgive you. Believe me when I say I was just as ‘weirded out’ as any of you by all of this. I am as guilty of apprehension as you are, darling, but who can blame us?”

“Right,” she agreed. “No hard feelings?”

“No hard feelings, darling.” She lifted a hoof for a hug; at first the pegasus seemed hesitant, but soon moved in to accept the embrace.

“By the way, remember when I said you act like Rarity?” said the pegasus as they let go. “I take that back. You got Rarity beat in ladylikeness.”

“Well, that’s one way of telling us apart,” replied Rainbow Dash with a soft laugh, which the pegasus returned.

“Yeah; don’t judge a book by its cover and all that. Maybe I should write a letter to the princess about this.”

“A letter, darling?”

“The princess is making us all write to her whenever we learn something new about friendship. Guess she’ll wanna know about this.”

“That won’t be necessary, my little pony.”

They both whipped around. There stood an elegant pearl-white pony, at least twice the size of either of them, adorned with both wings and a long slender horn. The other Rainbow Dash widened her eyes in utter surprise. “Princess Cele—!” but the being quickly put a hoof to her mouth.

“Would you be a dear and fetch me the rest of your friends?” she asked, her voice kind yet authoritative. “But just them; we wouldn’t want the whole town listening in on us.” The pegasus gave a quick nod, and jogged back to the bakery.

The earth pony stared at her in awe. “You’re princess Celestia, darling?”

“Yes, that’s me. And you must be Rainbow Dash. Would you wake up your friend Pinkie Pie for me?”

“Y-yes, darling! Of course, darling!”

Within minutes, all eight ponies were gathered around the majestic figure. Even Pinkie’s drowsiness was washed away by her brilliance. “P-Princess Celestia,” spoke Twilight. “You didn’t have to come here by yourself! You could’ve just summoned us!”

“And miss out on a party thrown by two Pinkie Pies?” countered the princess. “Excellent idea to put streamers on balloons, by the way.”

“You were there?!”

“Yeah, didn’t you see her?” said hyper-Pinkie Pie. “She was right there, disguised as a normal pegasus. I thought everypony was just playing along.”

“Impressive intuition as always,” Celestia commended. “ And I’ve had plenty of time to observe the two of you.” She focused her eyes on the two newcomers. “It’s as you wrote, Twilight; it’s faint, but the traces of Discord are unmistakable.”

Rainbow Dash’s stomach turned icy upon the mention of the spirit of chaos. “W-what does it mean, dar—Your Majesty? What’s going to happen to us?”

She expected grim response, but instead she got a friendly smile. “You don’t have to worry; while it’s certainly in there, there is no possible way for it to manifest, at least for the time being.”

“Really? Thank goodness.”

“It’s important, however, that the situation is dealt with before it has the chance to do so. As scary and confusing as it all may seem, this is actually a very fortunate turn of event. Let me tell you a little story.

“A thousand years ago, when my sister Luna and I defeated Discord and turned him into a stone statue, there remained a final piece of his chaotic magic in Equestria that we couldn’t resolve. A plot of land was shrouded in a field of magic of Discord’s design, untouchable by us or the Elements of Harmony. We don’t know how, or why, he did such a thing, but it’s been under scrutiny for the past millennium.

“It wasn’t until his second coming that the magic field began to stir. He never had the chance to return there – or he simply forgot it existed – but after his second defeat, the spell was dissolving. Perhaps time had weakened it, or your mastery of the elements was more powerful than ours; whatever the reason, Discords last legacy ended today. Or so we thought, until you two appeared.”

“B-b-but darling!” stammered Rainbow Dash, trying very hard not to faint this time. “You can’t possibly mean that Pinkie and I are products of some demon’s spell!”

“I don’t think so either,” the Princess agreed. “We later discovered that the reason it remained untouchable by the Elements of Harmony was because unlike most of Discord’s magic, this was not entirely chaotic. There was another force involved, one very similar to the elements. Its nature had me mystified all these years, but this morning, things finally started to make sense. Underneath that maelstrom of magic was a village, one wrapped in an illusion for all these years, shielded from the flow of time.”

Twilight Sparkle let out a gasp. “A Time Capsule? Discord cast a Time Capsule?!”

“That is what I’m guessing,” confirmed Celestia. “If my guess is right, you two, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie, have been living out your lives in Ponyville – and the world Discord created for you – in a loop that has lasted for a thousand years, endlessly reincarnating again and again.”

Rainbow Dash was about to faint again, but held it together when Pinkie Pie put a hoof on her back for support. This was all too much to take. Hungry for answers, she asked the first question that came to mind. “Is… is everyone alright, then?”

“They’re all a bit dazzled, but yes. Your village is safe.”

The relief must have been visible on her face. “Thank heavens!” For the first time since she got here, she felt her body truly relax, to which her muscles took to opportunity to remind her of the stress, making her buckle. “Would… would you be so kind as to take us there? They must all be awfully worried.”

“I will, in the morning,” Celestia promised. “For now, you both need your rest. As it stands, I’m afraid I don’t have any more answers to your questions. Discords plan are still shrouded in mystery, as are the circumstances of why you woke up outside the village. Hopefully, things will become clear tomorrow.”

“I vote for rest,” said Pinkie Pie, accompanying the statement with a yawn. “I’m just so glad they’re all okay. If it’s alright with you, I think I’m going back to the grass.”

“I’ll see you all in the morning then,” said Celestia. She flapped her majestic wings and took to the air. “Good night, my little ponies.” Without warning, there was a flash of light, and she was gone. Leaving Rainbow Dash with no more reason not to faint one more time, this time from exhaustion.