• Published 15th Jan 2013
  • 5,776 Views, 155 Comments

Countdown to Crisis - RainbowDoubleDash



Twilight Sparkle, on the run for months, is cornered in a small town. She escapes by teleporting - teleporting far further than she had ever intended

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1. Exit Twilight

The town was called Poniszawa, and it straddled the border between Equestria, the Griffin Kingdoms, and Konja. In ages past, when Latigo had been a sovereign nation, it had been a town built around a mighty fortress that defended Latigo against the incursions of griffins and Konjavic ponies both. When Latigo’s king had died without an heir nor legitimate claimants to his throne nearly seven hundred years ago, looking like it would fall into civil war and fragment, Equestrian armies had marched in, Luna citing an ancient, nearly forgotten claim to the kingdom. There hadn’t been much that Latigo could do to resist Equestria, but then again the Equestrians had proven themselves to be excellent new lords, ruling with a light touch and quickly turning Latiganskis into full citizens of Equestria, rather than mere vassal subjects. In time, the distinction between Latiganski and Equestrian had blurred to practically nothing, and within two hundred years Latgio had become a willing province of Equestria, helped along, no doubt, by the fact that the provincial lord of Latigo was a full viceroy within the halls of the Night Court, second only to Luna herself in power

Poniszawa’s great fortress was, indeed, the only true casualty of the Equestrian invasion. The Equestrians had constructed a newer one several miles away, larger and easier to defend, and the old fortress had been abandoned for years before somepony had the bright idea of turning it into a tourist attraction, a proud symbol of pre-Equestrian Latiganski culture and military history. However, at this time of year – late spring, early summer – Poniszawa wasn’t yet being visited by tourists. Late spring and early summer were times for beaches and picnics, not the exploration of old, inland ruins. Its tourist season was the fall instead. As such, the town was, at the moment, quiet, and out-of-the-way, and perfect for a pony looking to hide someplace familiar.

Twilight Sparkle telekinetically tightened her cloak about her throat and made sure her cutie mark was covered, as she walked into the bad part of Poniszawa, the lower-class neighborhoods, the slums. Of course, if one had taken this neighborhood and moved it to, for example, Manehattan, then it would have instead been the kind of place to start a family and raise foals in. The ponies here didn’t even lock their doors at night. Some even kept them open to make a breeze.

Still, it was a place where she was unlikely to be spotted by anypony who might recognize her. As she trotted past one of the gangs of disaffected youths that Poniszawa had – one of whom wished her a pleasant night – she pulled her hood up over her head, offering only a curt nod to the pony who’d spoken to her as she made her way towards the motel she remembered.

When she was younger, her family had often vacationed here, spending time away from business, the Night Court, and everything else, just spending time together as a family. They hadn’t stayed at this motel, of course – but it still made the town dig up an awful lot of memories for Twilight, memories she wasn’t sure she wanted dug up, but at the same time memories she suspected had to be dug up.

Checking into the motel wasn’t hard; about a year ago, she’d learned how to create a sort of magical “pocket,” just outside of reality, where she could store things, and of course the most sensible thing to store there had been money. The House Starlight – her family’s House – was one of the wealthiest in all of Equestria, and even though she was on the run, with no way to replenish her money, she still had an awful lot of bits held at the ready. As long as she kept her head down and her cutie mark covered, she could still enter the small towns and hamlets of Equestria and buy food or spend a night in a warm, reasonably clean bed.

She could have done that someplace far away from Latigo, of course, but after recent events…after months and months of hiding her face and moving furtively in the dark – she’d needed to think, and depending on where those thoughts took her, she’d want to be in Latigo, as close to the provincial capital of Latysława as possible. As she looked around the motel room – a bed, a bathroom, and very little else – she really couldn’t help but think of her home, her family, her books, everything she had waiting for her in Latysława if only she could gather the courage to go home…

…but then, as always, she saw her face. Trixie Lulamoon, staring at her with a smug and arch look, convinced of her own superiority. And why shouldn’t she be? She had fooled everypony, everywhere. She had the respect tutelage of the Princess herself. She was the bearer of the Element of Magic. She had a position of moderate respect and authority as the Representative of Ponyville. All of it built on lies – lies! – about her magical talent, about her work ethic, about everything. She was a fraud, a fake, and it was her fault that Twilight was on the run!

…or so Twilight had thought for a long time, told herself for the past several months. As she clambered onto the bed and under its covers, she couldn’t really summon up the anger she’d felt for so long anymore…and she found herself being forced to point out to herself that she was the one who’d overestimated her own abilities, she was the one who had brought a mind-slaved Ursa Minor into a populated town in the middle of their Eventime festival just to prove a point.

Twilight sighed, closing her eyes. She needed sleep, first and foremost. And then – in the morning – she would make her decision.

---

Twilight was woken by the sound of her motel room’s door unlocking. She’d always been a light sleeper – provided she hadn’t gone on a study-binge of several days, anyway – and her ears easily picked up the sound. Her eyes were instantly open, and only the barest of moments later, she was standing on her bed, horn glowing a bright, angry purple in challenge.

Whoever was on the other side of the door realized that their surprise had been ruined, and so instead simply bucked it open – and Twilight found herself staring at a tall, lithe earth pony mare in the uniform of Poniszawa’s police.

Twilight Sparkle!” The pony proclaimed, pointing a hoof forward. “You are under arrest for – ”

The police pony probably had more to say, but Twilight’s eyes snapped shut as her horn’s glow increased in intensity, and she popped out of the room, appearing in a flash and burst of magic outside the motel, eyes wide and taking in everything she could. She saw, near the motel’s office, a number of additional police officers, along with the gang of “disaffected youths” from earlier – one member of which had apparently recognized her face and was even now in his mouth clutching her wanted poster, with its thousand-bit reward for any information that lead to her.

The sky, meanwhile, teemed with pegasi, carrying glow-gem torches that shined light down onto the streets below. The pegasi noticed the flash of her arrival, and instantly called out to their companions even as they centered their lights on her. Twilight gasped in surprise as she turned to run –

– and was tackled to the ground by a unicorn, a unicorn wearing a form-fitting black outfit with silver lightning strikes along its flanks, over a thick jerkin that felt strong enough to repulse arrows. The unicorn’s horn glowed bright yellow.

“Twilight Sparkle, I am officer Haymaker of the Shadowbolts,” the unicorn informed her. “You are wanted by the Crown. Do not resist your arrest.”

Twilight resisted her arrest by doing the first thing that came to mind – lashing out with a front hoof, catching the officer in the jaw. He stumbled, apparently not expecting her to resist, but by now Twilight was surrounded by a swarm of police ponies armed with batons and ready to subdue her. First, however, they would have to catch her – and that was not a likely prospect as she closed her eyes, thought of a spot on the road to Poniszawa several miles away, and teleported –

Only to smack into something. Twilight saw nothing but stars for several moments as she lay on the ground, shaking her head. By the time she’d recovered enough to stand, she found herself standing outside the old Poniszawa fortress, on the edge of town – and just inside a bright pink bubble, a bubble that seemed to stretch around the entire town, as far as she could see – a bubble that was now shrinking.

Twilight’s eyes widened. There were only two ponies in all of Equestria strong enough to make a shield spell this large – and if Princess Luna had been making it, it would have been blue. That could only mean that Shining Armor, captain of the royal guard – her big brother – was here.

Twilight shifted from hoof to hoof, trying to teleport again. All that accomplished was smacking into the bubble. She teleported around town, trying to find another way out, but it didn’t help as the bubble continued to shrink, its center always focused on her as she moved and shifted around town. Even worse, the shrinking bubble was informing the police and the Shadowbolt – or were there more than one? – exactly where she was.

Twilight’s mad teleporting, then trying to break through the bubble with magic, carried on for several minutes. Eventually, however, the bubble was only fifty feet wide – then twenty-five feet – then ten feet – then even smaller, four feet, barely large enough for her to stand in. She had come to a stop in Poniszawa’s town center, near a fountain, her presence illuminated by street lamps that were swiftly joined by the pegasus ponies and their glow-gem lanterns, then the remaining police officers, the Shadowbolt, Haymaker – and galloping alongside him, a white unicorn with an electric blue mane and tail, out of uniform and with a look of near panic on his face even as his horn glowed brightly. Twilight’s heart skipped a beat at the sight of her brother, before she desperately began trying to teleport again, slamming her hooves against the shield even as the police ponies formed a ring around her, while dozens of Poniszawa’s citizens, awoken by the commotion, looked on from their homes or came out into the streets.

Not like this. Not like this. She didn’t want to see her brother again like this! She was vaguely aware of Shining Armor and Haymaker arguing over something, before Haymaker eventually stood aside and let Shining Armor through. The white unicorn all but galloped to the shield, the police ponies parting to let him through.

“Twily!” Shining Armor called. The name cut through her like a knife as she froze, her back to Shining Armor.

“Sh…Shiny?” Twilight asked softly.

Shining Armor came around, trying to look Twilight in the face, but she turned from him, again and again until he gave up. She didn’t want him to see her – she didn’t want to see her brother again like this, trapped in a field of his own creation, trapping his fugitive sister!

Shining Armor placed a hoof on his own shield. “Twily, please,” he said. “Look at me. Please, I need to know you’re alright.”

Twilight felt wetness in her eyes. She closed them, hunkering down. “What are you doing here?” she asked softly.

Her brother tried again to look at her; she again turned. “Time off,” he said. “I wanted to see the old castle, before tourist season started…thought that maybe you’d be here. I don’t know how or why, but I knew it, I knew, Twily. Because I’m your big brother.”

Twilight stifled a gasp. Her tears were flowing freely, now, and from the sound of his voice, Shining Armor wasn’t having any easier a time keeping his own emotions in check. “S…so you brought the Shadowbolts?” she demanded.

Shining Armor hit his shield. “No – yes – Twilight, you’re a wanted mare and the most powerful magician I’ve ever known. The Shadowbolts were probably keeping an eye on me in case you tried to get in contact with me. But I didn’t think about that…I just wanted to see you. Twily, please, look at me…please…

Twilight shook her head. “Not like this. I didn’t want to see you like this…”

“Twilight, please, stop trying to run – ”

I didn’t want to see you like this, Shiny! I didn’t…I was going to make a plan! In the morning, I was going to make a plan, I was going to decide to go home or keep at it, keep trying to show that Lulamoon is a fraud! But now that’s all ruined and you’re here and…and…it’s not supposed to happen this way!

“Twily, I’ve talked to the Princess. She said herself that she’s willing to be lenient. That you’ll get the smallest possible sentence for what happened in Ponyville. She just wants you home safe, I want you home safe, mom and dad – ”

Twilight choked at that, hugging herself tighter. “H-how is…how is dad?” she asked.

Shining Armor was silent for a moment. “Not…not well,” he said. “He’s not taking it as well as everypony thinks he is – as he thinks he is. Twilight, please look at me, please…”

Twilight shook her head. “N-no. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this…I need to – need to – ”

She tried teleporting again, but to no avail. She tried again, and again, and again, each time running into the shield that was Shining Armor’s signature spell, his special talent of protection made manifest. Eventually, Twilight found herself heaving for breath, and no closer to teleporting out of the shield than before.

“You can’t break out, Twily,” Shining Armor said. “Nothing gets through my shields.”

Twilight rifled through the spells she knew, trying to find a way out – and, almost to her own chagrin, she did. It was an old spell, nearly a thousand years old, one that she’d learned from one of the forbidden tomes she’d gained access to while wandering Equestria. “There might be one,” she said through a shaking voice. “It was…it was a teleporting spell. The most powerful teleporting spell I’ve ever found, I think the Princess herself made it…so powerful that I’ve based all my teleportation spells on it. They’re all just smaller versions of this spell…”

Twilight stifled a slight laugh as she turned around, looking at Shining Armor and smiling a little. “I’ve never cast it before,” she told him as he looked at his sister, burning her face into his mind. “It…it takes a lot out of a pony. Maybe too much…always worried that I might overchannel if I tried…and you know what it would take to make me overchannel?”

“Twily,” Shining Armor said, putting a hoof on his shield bubble. “Twily, don’t – ”

Twilight put her hoof up as well, through the bubble, touching Shining Armor’s hoof through it even as her horn glowed bright, even as she recalled the spell, pushed it to the forefront of her mind and just began dumping her magical energy, her power, herself, into the spell. It was enough that there was an audible thrum within the shield – enough that magic was bleeding out of it, swirling dust and pebbles beyond the shield’s boundary, creating a wind that whipped at the manes and tails of everypony even as Twilight glowed with a bright lavender light.

Twily!” Shining Armor said, not shielding his eyes against the painful glare that his sister glowed with. “Twily, stop!

“Not yet,” Twilight insisted. “Not yet – it was too soon, Shiny, but don’t worry, I’ll – ”

Twilight didn’t get to finish the sentence. All at once, everything seemed to push away from her – Shining Armor, his shield, the police ponies, the town, just pushed away in all directions, bleeding out until there was only black, black everywhere – blackness that reached out and claimed Twilight Sparkle.

---

The place didn’t really exist. But if it had – it wouldn’t have mattered, because it had no air. But if it had air – then it still wouldn’t have mattered, because nothing could survive in this place, even assuming that it existed in the first place, which it did not.

But if it did exist, and if there had been air, and if somepony could have been there, then they would have heard nothing, because what happened was far too complicated for mere sound.

But if it had not been – if there had been a pony in this impossible nonexistent place, breathing air that wasn’t there and hearing a sound that couldn’t be made…

Crack.

Author's Note:

There will be 2 chapters to this.