• Published 9th Mar 2013
  • 3,752 Views, 136 Comments

Unity at Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17

Book III. With the lord of chaos released from stone and being the only none-Element, Dusk is left behind by the others. But he will soon discover that there is much more to him than he could have ever known...

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Fight On!

"Right so… just tell me the plan, one more time, please?" asked Fluttershy to Dusk timidly. "I-I-I'm sorry I need t-t-to keep asking but… but…"

Though she was a little braver knowing that Dusk was fighting, the pony she considered to be like her brother, Fluttershy was still utterly terrified at the very idea of it. Rarity and Zecora were fine, the two of them now on the lookout for more or finishing off remaining ones from Celestia and Luna's bombardment that had actually made her scream. In her fear, however, Fluttershy needed further reassurance that she was going to be fine… or at least she hoped to be.

"It's okay, I don't mind," Dusk said patiently, though she could tell she was starting to get on his nerves. He didn't say anything, but she knew it, even if he was too nice to say so. "It's simple: I'll be using my colour manipulation to gather the others here. I'll need complete concentration to pull it off, so I'll need you three to protect me while I perform my spell, just long enough for me to guide the others here. Once they're here, we'll fight back the Paraserpents and get to the library, retrieve the Elements and return Discord to his rightful status as a garden ornament."

"Okay then… I'm really sorry about annoying you," she repeated. "It's just that… I'm just so… so scared…"

"I know, I understand, I am too," he admitted. "But you can be brave, Fluttershy, you have been before. Be brave for me now, for us."

She took deep breaths to calm herself, his words grounding her and quelling her fear for the moment and trying to remember the feeling she had when she faced that dragon, when her friends were in trouble and they needed her to be brave for them, to save them. If she could do it once, she could do it again.

"Right… be brave... be brave," she said like a mantra. "Thank you Dusk."

"No problem, my little sister." It still made her heart glow when he called her that and she hugged gently.

She could remember how cruel she'd been to all of her friends, all the horrible things she'd done to them because of Discord and it made her want to hit something. It was all like a horrible dream, but she knew it was real and she'd never forget it. She could have been like that forever, tormenting the animals she loved so much and acting like a jerk to her best friends…

But then they came for her… he came for her and they returned her to normal. Together with Twilight, he'd used his wonderful magic she was always so in awe of and returned her to the way she was, the way she should be. And for that, she knew that she would love him forever, for being there right when she needed him the most. She didn't care about how much sadder he looked now, silently brooding over something she didn't know. All she knew was that she was going to be there for him too, no matter what and help him through anything.

Starting right here, right now.

"Once we're all together again, everything will be okay?" she asked.

"Yes, once we're back together… all of us…" He trailed off, his smile faltering and Fluttershy knew who he must be thinking about.

She placed a hoof on his shoulder. "Don't worry, she'll be fine."

"I know she will be," he said, that enduring faith shining through again. "They all will be. They have to be otherwise…" He left it at that and cleared his throat. "Right, I'd better get started."

"Okay then…" He turned away from her and stood at the top of the hill. "Dusk wait! Just um… good luck."

The smile he gave her in return meant she couldn't help but beam back. "You too, Fluttershy."

He closed his eyes, the glow of his horn shining beneath his hat. When he opened them again, they were glowing all kinds of different colours, like his very eyes were rainbows. A shining orb, again reflecting eyes, appeared above his head, bathing her in all the colours of the world. Two puppets, both in his image, emerged from the orb and galloped off into different parts of the town, their hooves moving them silently over the ground, like they were gliding.

They'd be coming now, they'd see it and they'd come. Her legs shaking and her heart pounding against her chest, eyes darting this way and that for any sign of a threat, Fluttershy was as ready as she would ever be for the fight that was about to start up again.

She suddenly felt the fear come back and she whimpered at the very thought of fighting. She gazed desperately at Dusk, wanting him, needing him to stop and to come back and protect her, to stand beside her. But he wouldn't be able to hear her, he was too deep in concentration.

"Don't be afraid, Fluttershy," Rarity said gently. "I know it seems daunting, but we'll make it through. You'll see."

"You… you really think we will?" she asked.

"Of course, Fluttershy my dear," reassured Zecora. "Have no fear, Rarity and I are here."

"Okay… I'll do my best… thank you," she whishpered.

"Our pleasure dear." She turned her head to face the town. "We'd best get ready. We'll be close Fluttershy, don't be scared and good luck."

"You too!" she called back. Her legs still shaking, she trudged to her proper place on the hill they'd seleceted for her, one they said would have the least amount of Paraserpents coming from it or so she hoped.

Oh why, oh why did it have to be fighting and fighting such scary monsters too, even scarier than dragons perhaps? No, dragons were still scarier, but the Paraserpents were definitely a close second. Those horrible eyes, their wicked faces and sharp teeth made her skin crawl and her hooves shake. She wanted nothing more than to run off home, lock her front door and hide under her bed until it was all over. But she did her best not to be scared, not to run away like a scardey pony, like she always was.

"This is for Dusk, for my friends," she whispered to herself. "Come on Fluttershy, you can do this… you can do this…"

She whipped her head up to see more of them swarming up the hill, their red eyes fixed on her and spit dribbling from their maws. She let out a small squeak, but stood her ground. She wasn't all that scared of them anymore, she wouldn't let them scare her. She'd do her best, she'd help her friends and she'd fight, no matter what.

"I can do this!" she declared.

Rainbow felt the satisfying crash of hoof against scales as she slammed into another Paraserpent, the force of the strike sending the monster shooting and screeching backwards into a wall, causing to collapse on him and cutting off his screech. She nodded at her actions, blowing on her hoof casually and rubbing it on her chest. Purely and simply awesome.

She turned to see that there were plenty more arriving to receive similar treatments. Unfazed by their snarling, hungry faces, and the fact they were preparing magic she cricked her neck, slammed one hoof into another and charged at them, sending all of her strength into her charge. Her two hooves crashed into the snakes, causing their heads to reel back and strike their friends. Their spells also went shooting off course and hit two more, making them slam to the floor in a heap.

She allowed herself a loud battle cry to make herself even more terrifying, banked around in the air and charged again, knocking them out for good. She looked back at her seven dazed foes and let out a derisive laugh. As if they thought they could stand a chance against her. Not only had she taken out all of those guys by herself, but she did it in such a way only she could: with style.

"Oh yeah, I'm just too good, right?" she asked her fallen enemy. It let out a weak hiss. "Ha, thought you'd agree with me."

While she was pretty easy to get along with and easy going most of the time, Rainbow didn't like anypony bugging her when she didn't want it. Likewise being the Element of Loyalty, she certainly didn't like it when anypony thought they could get on the wrong side of her and her friends. These were things that could tick her off pretty easily and made her very difficult to get along with, to the point when she would start throwing hooves around.

Right now, these Paraserpents were ticking her off in both ways, along with dopey Discord. He'd already separated her from her friends, hidden her Element, messed up her home, made her act like a jerk and abandon her friends and now had the nerve to send these guys after her, thinking they could beat her and try to stop her getting her Element back and stopping him. To say that she was mad at him would be a real understatement. When she got her Element back, he was going to pay big time.

She looked up at the sky where she knew Discord was. "I hope the birds make your statue look real pretty when I'm through with you, punk!"

Looking around, she checked out the state of the rest of them. Applejack, with Apple Bloom cowering nearby, using her crazily strong back legs to take them down like she would kick an apple tree on the farm, she could actually hear them creaking like timber when they fell to the ground after being smacked like that. Pretty cool, but Rainbow could fly, so she had more opportunities for style and variation in her attacks. Still, not everypony could be as awesome as her.

Little Strongheart, fiercely defending Sweetie Belle, was also reminding Rainbow of the reasons why she thought the buffalo calf was so cool. Looking at how bulky she appeared to be, even Rainbow had to raise an eyebrow in surprise at how often and easily she could leap up into the air and perform a somersault kick multiple times on the same Paraserpent, landing on all four hooves and knocking it with her head. Now that was pretty cool, she thought to herself, watching it topple and fall.

She suddenly realised that she couldn't see any sign of Scootaloo anywhere with them. Where had that little filly got-

"I have you!"

She turned around, too late, to see a Paraserpent shoot at her from nowhere. She had barely raised her hooves when it hit her with a painful spell and, in her moment of distraction, wrapped its coils around her body. Flapping her wings frantically, she tried to struggle free from its bonds, but they'd already wrapped tightly around her and were dragging her in further all the time.

"Lemme go!" she shouted. "Lemme go, jerk!"

"The more you ssssstruggle, the more tired you'll become," it taunted. "Why not jussssssst give up?"

"Dude, do you even know who you're talking to?" she snapped, glaring at it and resuming her struggles.

"Very well then, die fighting, it makesssssss no difference," it hissed, raising her closer towards its mouth.

Rainbow coughed and gagged at the smell. "Ew, have you ever heard of breath mints?"

"Your lasssssssst momentsssssss of life and you choossssssse to ssssssssspend it making poor humour?" it questioned disbelievingly.

"Who said I was joking, your breath reeks!"

"Perhapssssssss your brain issssssss not functioning properly, clouded by fear," it said.

"Yeah, just too bad my nose works just fine," she said defiantly, determined not to show it fear.

Not that she was actually scared of course, probably just still hurting from the spell.

"Inssssssolent pessssssst!" it snapped. "Thisssssss dissssssresssssspect, thisssss arrogance and what doessssss it gain you?"

Rainbow was about to reply when she heard the revving of a scooter's engine that the Paraserpent seemed not to hear. Smirking at what she knew must be coming, she looked right back up at it and shrugged.

"I dunno, a chance to mess around with you, to annoy you or for a distraction," she said casually.

"A disssssssstraction? From your inevitable death?" it asked.

She only smirked at him, hearing the engine growing louder. It finally realized that something was wrong, but like her became aware too late. He lifted his head just as a certain orange Pegasus filly on a scooter shot through the air and smacked him the face, landing on the ground and skidding to a halt without any screw up.

The coils loosened now, Rainbow Dash took her chance. Forcing her hooves out, she shoved the scales away from her, soared up and punched the snake right in its pointed face, left hook, right hook and head butt all in quick succession dazing it and knocking it to the ground before it even knew what hit it.

"From that!" She squirmed out of the coils and kicked him in the head. "Geez, you guys like to talk as much as your boss does."

"Rainbow Dash!" She turned as Scootaloo zoomed up to her. "You okay?"

"Of course I'm okay, it's me," she said cockily. "What about you?"

"Me?" She made a dismissive noise and an attempt to reflect her attitude. "Oh yeah, I'm fine, of course I am."

"Good to know," she nodded, gesturing to the Paraserpent. "Nice work with the scooter you did there."

"Really?" She became excited at this. "Cause I saw that you were in trouble and thought I could help. Then, I saw this overturned applecart like a ramp and figured 'hey, I can use that' and then I just rode up that and him right in his face!"

"Yeah, I saw." Rainbow sniffed casually. "But yeah, I would have been fine, I was just letting him think he had me, then I was gonna surprise him."

"Y-you were?" She quickly covered up her disappointment. "I mean uh, I knew that, of course I did. I mean, Rainbow Dash needing help, whoever heard of that. It was just for… you know… just in case you were…" She trailed off and blushed red, diverting her eyes to the floor.

Deciding that she was finished keeping her tough image and messing with the little filly, Rainbow put a hoof gently on her shoulder. "But thanks for helping out anyway. It was pretty radical what you did there."

"Really?!" Scootaloo immediately perked up at these words. "You really, really think so?"

"Course, you're pretty good on that scooter." Rainbow smiled at the sight of her trying to keep her cool and the desire to whoop and leap for joy. "Just uh, leave the flank-kicking to me in future, okay?"

"You got it!" she saluted.

Rainbow smirked again and tensed as more Paraserpents swarmed over. "Stay close to me Scoot, this is gonna get messy."

"Right," she affirmed, scurrying behind Rainbow to safety.

As she launched herself back into the fight, Rainbow's spirits were bolstered somewhat by the idolizing adoration of Scootaloo nearby, watching in awe as she carried out a series of awesome moves in her fighting against them. Of course, it was only natural that the little Pegasus would think of her as the best, as that was true. But there was something she'd always liked about the filly that just made it seem even more special than just some kind of fan. She actually did want to grow up and be like Rainbow Dash, which was pretty cool.

Now that she thought about it, the little Pegasus reminded her very much of herself: they were both sporty, daring, tough, had attitude and matched themselves up to somepony greater than themselves to match against. Rainbow had the Wonderbolts and Scootaloo had Rainbow Dash and they both wished to be like those they idolized someday and, as such, pushed themselves to the limit in order to prove that they could be the very best. If there was anypony she'd even consider a sister, it'd be the young crusader staring up at her.

Plus, this kind of thing was always better when there was somepony watching, she thought to herself, slam dunking a Paraserpent into one of his friends and forcing them both into snake-shaped craters in the ground.

"Wow, that was awesome Rainbow Dash!" exclaimed Scootaloo, staring down into the craters in awe.

"I know, I know," she nodded, descending gently. "But still, nice of you to say so."

"I see that your ego is still as great and endless as the stampeding grounds of our ancestors," remarked Strongheart, who somersaulted over a Paraserpent and landed beside her.

"Hey, there you are," she answered, knocking out the offending snake. "What's the matter, needed some help so you came to me?"

"On the contrary, I came to see if you needed my help." She slammed her hooves into the body of another. "You seemed to look like you were struggling to manage on your own."

"Hey, I'm doing just fine." She socked the beast across the face and finished him. "I can take care of myself without any backup."

"Indeed?" She raised an eyebrow and a hoof, which came down on the head of a Paraserpent about to bite into her leg. "You missed one."

Rainbow was at first a little shocked at how close that was, but she suppressed it and shrugged.

"I saw him, I was just about to finish him actually," she lied. "Nice of you to do it for me though, saves my strength for the rest of them."

"Of course you were," she said in a sarcastic tone. "In all seriousness, however, I believe we should be doing more to combine our efforts. There are quite a few of these hoofless demons."

As if to prove her point, three more Paraserpents sent bolts of magic at them. They both dived aside to dodge them, Rainbow feeling one whizz over her head and past her mane. She looked to Strongheart, whose eyes suddenly widened and she smiled brightly.

"What's got you so happy?" she asked.

"I have an idea to gain an upper hoof on our enemies," she said proudly.

"Well, I guess it was bound to happen sometime," remarked Rainbow good naturally. "So, what is it then?"

"You'll see, hold on. Applejack!" she called out. "Can you give me a boost?"

"Uh, sure ah guess," she agreed unsurely, smacking aside another snake and holding out her front hooves. "What for?"

"You'll see!" she repeated. "Rainbow, fly over me just as I'm launched into the air."

At first, Rainbow looked at her in confusion but she soon figured out exactly what it was she wanted to do.

"You got it!" Nodding and smiling in the daring way she did, she prepared to fly off as Strongheart tensed herself to run.

She watched as Strongheart galloped to Applejack, who stood ready to give her a boost upwards. She reached her, ran onto her hooves and jumped at the same time as Applejack launched her into the air, flinging her hooves toward the sky. In almost the same instant, Rainbow flew forward and reached out with her own hooves, grabbing Strongheart's as she reached her and, with all her strength, held her there.

Now they quickly set to work while the Paraserpent's surrounded them. Remaining in the centre, Rainbow began to spin in a circle, letting the buffalo calf dangle out as much as possible, her legs rapidly moving as her own hooves struck and collided with any unfortunate Paraserpents that happened to get in the way. Once she couldn't carry her any more, Rainbow flung her up again, watching as she soared as high as any Pegasus.

Somersaulting, she landed on another Paraserpent, the beast writhing and flailing as she did. To stop him, Rainbow shot at him and smacked him across the face, his head reeling back. Strongheart kicked him from his back, sliding along his body as he toppled to the ground and gracefully landing on the ground.

"Well, that worked," she remarked, smiling at Rainbow.

"Yeah, not bad," she said. "But just remember, it couldn't have succeeded without me."

"Don't I know it," she agreed. "Thank you for your help."

"Eh, no sweat, I was –AGH!" Rainbow was cut off from a magic blast from a Paraserpent she didn't see, hitting her in the leg.

Rainbow received a glancing blow, but it was enough to make her cry out in pain from it and be thrown off balance. She was sure the next attack would have got her if Strongheart hadn't been there to kick the offending snake in the face as it lunged at her with fangs bared and halting the attack.

Clutching her bad leg, which was now hanging rather limp where the Paraserpent had hit it, she teamed up with Strongheart, the two of them charging the same snake and knocking it down with the combined strength of their hooves. At the same time, they reversed and kicked the remaining offender down. Teach them to mess with us, Rainbow thought savagely.

Rainbow winced slightly from the pain that was still in her leg and the angry red patch that appeared there, but gritted her teeth and tried her best to ignore it. She'd had worse injuries, even though the wound now felt like somepony poured scolding water onto her leg, but she'd have to do her best to cope with it. She couldn't afford to show weakness at any time and certainly not now, for there would be much more than her cool image at stake if she did.

Her injury, however, wasn't missed by Strongheart, who became worried at the sight of her.

"Are you baldy injured?" she asked.

"Relax, I'm fine," Rainbow tried to say casually. "I'm not gonna be kept down by this."

"I'm not so sure," she said doubtfully, looking at the wound. "That looks very nasty to me. I think it needs treating."

"Trust me, it's nothing…"

She shook her head resolutely. "I beg to differ, that could seriously hinder you in battle. I would think that perhaps-"

"Hey! You heard Rainbow Dash, if she says she's fine, she's fine!" yelled Scootaloo defiantly.

Even Rainbow was rather surprised at how quickly she had come to her defence, even if she did know the filly idolized her, though it was a little embarrassing to be having a kid stand up for her. Strongheart looked surprised too, but responded calmly.

"I admire your faith in your friend, Scootaloo, but I fear your confidence in her might be slightly misplaced in this case."

"Hey, I can speak for myself! No offense kid," she added to Scootaloo, who looked taken aback.

"Regardless, I have a solution." She beckoned over Sweetie Belle. "Do you still have the little pot I gave you?"

"Sure, here you go!" She reached into her fur and took out a small brown pot. "I kept it safe, like you asked me to."

"And I am most grateful you did and I'm sure Rainbow will be too." She pulled off the lid of the pot, revealing a thick brown paste.

She dipped her hoof into it, swirling it around until some was on the end of it. She then spat into the substance, at which Sweetie made a noise of disgust, muttered some words in a weird language and spread the paste onto the wound. It was surprisingly warm and soothing and Rainbow could feel the pain gradually melt away. The calf then washed off the paste, revealing the wound to be completely healed, like it was never there.

"Wow, that's pretty cool!" Rainbow marvelled at how quickly it had healed her skin. "What was in that stuff?"

"It's made from a ground-up flower that grows only in the desert, mixed with a bit of spittle, as you saw," she explained. "We use it for healing and treating a variety of wounds, including snake bites. I was hoping it wouldn't be entirely dissimilar from one."

"Guess we're lucky it wasn't," said Rainbow, as she handed the pot back to Sweetie Belle. "Thanks Strongheart."

"Think nothing of it," she dismissed. "You are my friend and I'm sure you would have done the same for me."

In that moment, Rainbow found herself oddly touched and felt something catch in her throat at the mention of that, nothing strong enough to make her start crying or something sappy like that, but enough to make her stop and think for a bit. It was times like this she was reminded of why she was the Element of Loyalty and what a truly great quality it was to have in a friendship, for she truly would have done the same for her too.

"You know it," was her response, bumping hooves with the calf and nodding in respect. "Although, maybe I'd do it without the spitting."

"Perhaps," she said with a smile. "Now, this is a time for action, not words."

"Aw yeah!"

At this acclamation, the two of them resumed their battle, slamming hooves into the nearest monsters that dared to come slithering up to them. Despite her now healed leg, however, Rainbow was starting to feel the strain somewhat. Beads of sweat trickled down her forehead, her wings and muscles were starting to ache from the effort and every punch and kick seemed that much harder to carry out as a result.

Strongheart too seemed to be getting tired as well, though she was either fitter or perhaps just better at hiding it. What didn't help was the fact that every time they knocked down one Paraserpent, either more arrived fresh or new or ones they'd taken down previously rose again to rejoin the fight. As such, there were few breaks in the fighting for them to rest and that certainly wasn't helping.

"Is there no end," Strongheart said, pausing to floor another one and panting, "to these accursed monsters? It feels like we have been fighting for an age."

"Sure is!" came the voice of Applejack, who kicked another serpent and joined them. "Y'all still hangin' in there?"

"Sure thing!" replied Rainbow confidently, wiping some sweat away. "This really gives you a work out though."

"Ah hear ya," she said, breathing heavily. "What about you Strongheart?"

"I too am starting to, as you say, feel the burn," she affirmed. "If this keeps up they'll overwhelm us."

"Aw, come on, we can take these guys!" Rainbow declared, trying to ignore the burning in her limbs.

"Hate ta sound like a cynic, but she's right," replied Applejack. "We need ta either move somewhere else, or stay here an' wind up snake chow."

"I would go for the first option." She squinted in confusion. "Wait, what's that?"

They all whipped around to see something glowing gallop towards them and Rainbow felt something close to relief as it neared them. It was the sparkling form of one of Dusk's puppets, in the image of its master, complete with the hat. Even the Paraserpents halted to stare at it when it halted, motioning with its head for them to follow.

"Wait, isn't that Dusk's magic?" asked Strongheart, her smile now as bright as the puppet.

"Sure is an' that means we found our way out!" She smacked a distracted Paraserpent and kicked another to reach it. "Come on everypony, let's go!"

Keeping their respective fillies close as possible, they fought their way through the horde and galloped after it, hoping that it would lead them to some kind of salvation. Unless it was a trap or trick from Discord, but Rainbow didn't really mind either way. If it really was Dusk, then great, but if it was a trap…

Bring it on.

Pinkie bounced in the air as she let out another blast from her trusty party cannon, whooping at the sight of a Paraserpent's mouth snapped shut by a stream of confetti. She gave the beast a bright smile and promptly bounced her head off him multiple times and knocked him back into his buddies, waving goodbye to him as he shot off.

"Great shot Pinkie!" praised Spike, shooting a fireball at another and setting it ablaze.

"You too Spike! You're on fire." She giggled as she reloaded her cannon. "Heh, on fire, I just got that."

"Yeah, I'm smoking these guys," added Spike, chuckling in his throat. "They just got burned!"

"They're really feeling the heat," she giggled. "So many fire puns, so little time." She glanced around again at the large horde. "Oh wait, I guess we got plenty of time."

"Yeah, just so long as we're not burning up too much time." The two of them laughed again, one of Pinkie's favourite sounds. Other than the honking of a party kazoo or the sound the oven made when her cupcakes were ready.

"This is no time for joking you two, we gotta stay focused!" urged Twilight, sticking her head out and hitting two more serpents, knocking them out.

Pinkie gasped dramatically. "How can you say that Twilight? Any time is a good time for joking, especially this time cause you need laughing to keep your spirit up and if you don't keep your spirits up then you get sad and if you get sad then you won't want to fight anymore and if you don't want to fight then-"

"Alright, you've made your point!" interrupted Twilight, ducking under two shots whizzing over her head. "You can make jokes if you like, just make sure you keep beating these things off."

Seeing an opportunity, Pinkie raised her eyebrows. "So, what you're saying is I can keep shooting my mouth off?"

"Ugh, Pinkie-!"

"Are you, huh, are you?"

Twilight just stared at her like she did sometimes and sighed. "Fine, yes, I am saying that."

"Sorry, what are you saying?" she pressed on, determined to worm this one out of her.

"Pinkie, is this really the time to-?"

"Just say it Twilight," prompted Spike, "come on, lighten up."

"Ooh, good one!" she remarked. "Now, what is it your saying Twilight?"

"I'm saying you can keep shooting your mouth off!" she yelled, flinching from a shot that hit near her. "Now, get on with IT!"

"Sure thing!" she affirmed with a giggle. "Good one Twilight!" She heard her sigh in exasperation again as she shot wrapping paper at another snake, wrapping him up like a birthday present.

After Celestia left and Spike had joined them, Twilight had suggested that they move somewhere less exposed and more secure that was close by while more of the Paraserpents were slithering closer, probably mad now because of the grenade incident. They needed somewhere near to their position that was reasonably secure, where they could dig themselves in and could be defended easily with ranged attacks.

Basically somewhere safe for them to shoot from as Pinkie understood it. Pinkie had then suggested, after Twilight had denied both her other ideas of Sugarcube Corner and her own house which were places she felt safe, she remembered seeing a dried up fountain that was close to where they were. They'd be able to fit into the middle bit, use the walls to hide behind and could easily watch every direction because it was in a circle. Pinkie figured that was what she would be looking for.

So that was where they were now: holed up in the fountain and holding back the Paraserpents that were trying to get at them like parasprites would at crops and candy. For the first time, she wondered if, because of their names, the two animals were related in anyway. The sprites were more like bugs though and these things were just big old snakes that were a lot meaner and a lot more dangerous than sprites. She was disappointed she would be able to use a load of instruments to lure them away, but at least she knew how to get rid of them.

It reminded her of similar pests she had back on the rock farm with her family, vicious little guys called Rock Worms, whose teeth were sharp enough to dig and eat right through the stones they collected. Much like the Paraserpents, they were okay to deal with on their own, but as a group they could be dangerous and were willing to use their teeth on anypony who tried to stop them eating. And they were never on their own. So, like the Rock Worms, she aimed most of her shots for the head, as that was the nastiest part of their body, what with the fangs and all, so the rest of them wouldn't be as dangerous.

Then, do what you needed to finish them off for good and they wouldn't bother you anymore. They might be scary with their teeth and mean tempers, but you just had to old your ground and not be scared, for that was beating them halfway. These things needed their food scared and helpless so they could eat them, so as long as they weren't scared, they'd remain uneaten and happy.

"Just like Granny Pie taught me!" she noted, singing the face of one that was silly enough to get a little too close.

"She does seem to be full of wisdom," Twilight agreed, conjuring up a giant suitcase that stuffed five Paraserpents into it, slamming shut and vanishing.

"Wow. Nice spellwork!" she complimented.

"Yes well, I thought it would be good to uh… send them packing." She nudged Pinkie with a laugh. "You get it because I, you know, packed them in a suitcase and that the, uh, term used to make your enemies, in battle to um… run away…?"

She trailed off from the pitying expression Pinkie gave her. "Eh, keep working on it."

"Right, got it. Ahem…" She cleared her throat, blushed a little and resumed firing magic.

Pinkie shrugged and fire off a scatter shot of cupcakes at three of the nasty beasties creeping up behind her. Not every joke is perfect I guess, she thought to herself.

"Look out! More coming from the rear!" Spike pointed out, seeing a stream of the snakes emerging from behind.

"Spike, block them off!" ordered Twilight.

"On it!" His thicker scales absorbing most of the blasts shot at him, Spike jumped out of the fountain and charged towards the breach.

He plunged his large claws into the ground beneath his feet, heaved up a large chunk of the ground, hefted it above his head and, with a loud roar, flung it at the street the Paraserpents were swarming out of. The stone landed with a loud crash, crushing some of the monsters and blocking off the street with the debris. They'd still be able to slither over it, but now it would be a lot harder for them to get through. He started to finish off the remainder with his fists, tail and fire attacks.

While she did prefer the chubby little baby Spike they all knew so well, Pinkie had to admit that the potion that Zecora gave him as a big help to them in the fight. Even from here, she could feel the heat of his flames and feel the shaking in the earth from his strikes. She could tell that he was enjoying it too, as it gave him a chance to be a hero and help to save them all. Of course, she'd be happy when the potion wore off and he'd return back to normal. She preferred him like that and it was a little weird looking at him now and remembering how he should be.

Then again, she could be a little strange herself.

Spike however, even with his added strength, looked to be in a little bit of trouble. He was starting to recoil from the stream of blasts they were firing at him, enough for one of them to grab onto his leg. This one yanked him to one knee and two others started to coil around him and tighten their hold. They kept pressure on his arms and legs and away from his mouth, so he was having trouble getting them off.

Pinkie was about to run out and help him when-

"Hold on Spike, I'm coming!" Twilight leaped out of the fountain. "Pinkie, cover me!"

"Okey-dokey-lokey!" Pinkie affirmed, knowing that basically meant to keep the Paraserpents off her back, which certainly wasn't a good place to have them. That would just give her a bad back.

Twilight nodded and galloped towards Spike, her horn flashing from the magic that she fired at the Paraserpents that got in her way, determined to get to her assistant. Pinkie did her best to fire her cannon at any Paraserpents that tried to cut off Twilight, any she ran past or had her back to that she couldn't handle by herself. There were some close calls, but she was able to keep them off of her. Nopony, nosnake, was going to hurt her friends.

Acting fast, Twilight blasted off the Paraserpents that were wrapped around Spike, enough for him to regain use of his arms again. His right one shooting up, he grabbed the tale of one of the snakes and swung it around like a club, flinging it away and blasting part of the group with a burst of bright green fire. Pinkie liked that green fire, for it reminded her of growing plants in spring. Twilight took down any ones he missed with magic, the two of them retreating back to the fountain and attacking at the same time.

Good to see that those two worked just as well together in a fight as well as the library, thought Pinkie. Wondering what it would be like if Dusk were here fighting with them as well, she ushered them back into the fountain, clubbing one with her cannon as she did.

"You okay Spikey?" asked Pinkie, smiling brightly at him.

"Well, every bit of me is stinging, but I'm fine." He looked at Twilight. "Thanks for the help Twilight."

"Well, I couldn't just let my number one dragon assistant get hurt, could I?" she noted.

"Yeah, what would you do without me huh?" He chuckled along with her. "You know, makes me wish Dusk was here. I wonder what Zecora's potion would do to him if he drank it."

"Dusk… yes, me too…" Twilight looked rather sad at the mention of him, Pinkie noticed, even though Spike didn't.

"It could be a like a brains and brawn team-up with me and him or we could both be strong and these guys wouldn't stand a chance! I mean granted, I'd probably be the cooler one, but he'd be pretty good too I'm sure," he said. "The brothers in library-assistantship, fighting side by side for the fate of Equestria."

"Yes um… I suppose…" Twilight diverted her gaze and Pinkie could see tears starting to form.

"Oh man, I wish he was here. What do you think he'd think of my new strength? I mean, I know he doesn't like fighting and stuff, but even he'd have to admit that this is pretty cool, I mean who wouldn't? Plus there's you Twilight, all of us working in the library together. We'd be like a team or something together. The three librarians vs. the forces of Discord, with muscle, magic and mind, nothing standing in our w-"

"Spike, look, more snakes to beat up!" yelled Pinkie, cutting him off and halting his fantasies.

"What? Oh yeah, the battle!" With a burst of fire, he charged off to engage them.

With him gone, Pinkie approached Twilight. "You okay?"

"Yes, yes of course… I'm fine," she assured her unconvincingly and wiping tears away. "Why wouldn't I be?"

Seeing that look made Pinkie feel waves of sympathy for her and a few tears start to come into her own eyes. She understood that Twilight was worried about Dusk, Rarity, Fluttershy, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, all of them, just as she was too. But Pinkie knew also she was especially worried about Dusk because to her, to all of them, it was pretty clear that the two of them wanted to be way more than friends. None of them said anything, but it was there and they knew, even if they didn't or if they just denied it.

Personally, Pinkie thought that the two of them would make a sweet couple and she figured it was really obvious that she was worried that something had happened to Dusk while all this was happening. That was what was getting her down and Pinkie understood that. She'd be devastated if she lost any of her friends, especially a special somepony. Luckily, cheering up ponies who were down was Pinkie's speciality.

"Don't worry, I'm sure he's all right," she said gently.

"But he… he's all alone, somewhere out there," she sniffed. "If anything's happened to him I… I think I…"

"Twilight, trust me, he'll be fine," Pinkie assured. "Dusky might not like fighting, but he knows how to handle himself when push comes to shove. You know it, I know it, and he knows it. You'll see, he'll be just fine and dandy like sugar candy."

"You… you really think so?"

"Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye," she Pinkie promised solemnly. "Once we're back together, you'll see."

"Yeah, I suppose… thanks…" She frowned for a moment, her face suddenly lit up. "Together, yes! Pinkie, you're a genius!"

"I am?" she asked, confused at this sudden proclamation. "I mean uh, yeah of course I am! How am I?"

"Quick, prop your cannon here." Doing as she commanded, Pinkie placed the cannon on the wall. "Right, let's try this…"

Twilight's horn glowed and consumed the cannon in a flash of purple light, which Pinkie watched closely, transfixed by its beauty. When the light faded, her cannon had transformed, though the glow from Twilight's horn lingered. The big barrel had now become six smaller ones arranged in a circle. A handle was attached to the side, as was a line of what looked like rock cakes, all leading down into a box next to it. A big cushy chair had appeared at the back and on the barrel, in pink letters with a smiley face on the end, it said:


"Ooh, what did you do?" Pinkie asked, fascinated.

"I improved it a little, but I can't hold the spell for too long," she informed, her horn still glowing and beads of sweat rolling down her face. "Just point it and turn the handle."

"Okey-dokey!" Trusting Twilight as she would any of her friends, Pinkie hopped behind the seat of her new cannon, aimed down the sight and cranked the handle.


The gun fired a lot faster now, so much that Pinkie was shaking a bit from the vibrating of the cannon. She watched with glee as rock cakes whizzed through the air, smacking and smashing against Paraserpents. Even with their scales protecting them, they were having trouble standing against all of the cakes that were slamming into them at super-duper speeds, just as fast as Rainbow Dash zooming through the sky. A few seconds of constant shooting and they soon went down, their bodies pockmarked with bruises.

As a pony who liked to laugh and have fun whenever it was possible, Pinkie kept her spirits up by imagining that this was like a game at a fair ground: shoot the targets to win a prize, which would be the Elements of Harmony, so she made sure to aim extra good to win such special and important prizes. Even so, fighting was a pretty hard thing to make a joke about, even for her, so she would be glad when this was all over and done with. As fun as chocolate rain and cotton candy clouds were, it wasn't worth it if there were these things around to hurt her friends.

That meanie pants Discord was gonna be sorry for what he'd done.

Of the dozens that were swarming towards them before, only a few stragglers were left on this side of the fountain after only twenty seconds of firing. After that, Twilight couldn't maintain her transformation spell any longer and the cannon returned to normal. Pinkie blasted aside the remaining Paraserpents and turned to Twilight.

"Bet that left you plum tuckered huh?" she asked brightly.

"You can say… that again…" agreed Twilight, rubbing her head and accepting a hoof to help her up.

"Well, okay. Bet that left you plum tuckered huh? Why did you want me to say it again when I already said it once? Did you go deaf from all the banging and booming?"

"I suppose so," she said with a giggle, brightening Pinkie's smile. "Good shooting Pinkie."

"Good spelling Twilight!" she returned. "Wait, what's a word for casting magic like that? Magicking? Zapping? Poofing?"

"I'm sure you'll figure it out."

"Thanks Twi!" She picked up one of the rock cakes that hadn't been fired. "You know, I once tried making rock cakes from actual rocks. Didn't work out though, although they did taste kind of alright when you added a little more sugar, so it was more for me I guess."

"Pinkie, what are you talking ab- AGH!"

Pinkie heard herself scream as Twilight was hit in the head with a magical blast from a Paraserpent from the rear, knocking her to the floor, groaning in pain and leaving an angry red glow on her face, which she now held in her hooves.

"Twilight! Oh my gosh, are you okay?" She grabbed her shoulders and shook her. "Speak to me! SPEAK TO ME! DON'T GO INTO THE LIGHT!"

"Ow… it hurts…" she murmured. "My head… it hurts so much…"

"Don't worry, it's okay, it's okay, Pinkie's here," she soothed. "I won't let those meanies hit you again, I promise."

"Pinkie, what happened?" Spike came rushing over. "Oh no, Twilight! Is she okay? Is she dead? Oh that's it she's dead, isn't she?"

"No, no, she's okay," Pinkie said quickly. "One of them hit her right in the face… one of the Paraserpents…"

As Spike started to fret and worry over Twilight, Pinkie started to feel something rise in her tummy, something that made her seethe through gritted teeth and see red in her eyes. She slowly turned around to look at the oncoming horde that was slithering towards them, bolts of red magic shooting past her head and hissing sounding in her ears. Before, she could have tolerated these guys, they were just a big bunch of bullies they needed to get through but now… now they'd gone too far.

"Spike, get Twilight outta here," she said quietly, not taking her eyes off them. "I saw a big floating island thingy above us before. Get her up there and out of the way."

"Okay, right." She heard him pick up Twilight and pause in his running. "What are you going to do Pinkie?"

She glanced back at him and she saw his eyes widen at the look on her face. "One of my friends has been hurt by these nasties. And I don't like seeing my friends hurt by a bunch of big brawly beefy bullies. This calls for extreme measures… Pinkie Pie style!"

"Right um… good luck with that!" Spike gave her thumbs up and scurried out of the way.

Satisfied that her friends were now out of the way and safe, Pinkie turned back to the serpents, placed a hoof on her party cannon, reached out and took out a few remaining part grenades and rolled the barrel towards them, slowly, deliberately. Never once did her eyes leave them, never once did she feel scared by the fact there were way more of them than there was of her and never once did she forget the scream Twilight made when they'd hit her, see the look on Spike's face when they'd surrounded him and tried to eat him.

That was what drove her now, stopping before them.

One slithered up and hissed derisively. "Thissssss? Thissssss issssss all that sssssstands in our way? One sssssingle pony, all on her own?"

"I might be on my own, Missssssster," she hissed back, mockingly. "I might just be me, my cannon, my hooves and my party favours and there might be way more of you guys than me, that even I, who's had loads and loads of ponies at all my parties I've handled easily, might just be beaten by all of you. Heck, this might be the stupidest, silliest and craziest thing that I've ever done, even that time I tried to turn the lake into purple Jell-o and eat it all.

"But there's just one thing that's different. The one pony here, in your way, is called Pinkimena Dianne Pie and nopony, I repeat nopony, never, ever, ever hurts me, my home or especially my friends! Can you guess which one of those I'm most mad about? Trick question, cause I'm mad about all of them and I'm mad about every single one of you! And doing that, Mr Snake, was a very, very silly mistake!"

She hopped onto her cannon, whipped out her grenades and snarled at them like an angry dog. "So come on guys! Let's PARTY!"

They charged at her, screeching in a bid to scare her, but Pinkie wasn't so easily scared. With one blast from her party cannon, she blew away four of them in one go. They didn't even have time to recover as she yanked out the pins of the party grenades, with her teeth and flung them at them, flipping backwards behind the barrel of her cannon again as she did and reloading just as they exploded around her. She fired off the jelly shells that she loaded into the cannon and fired, sticking them fast. Then, she loaded herself into the cannon, her hooves facing forward.

She felt the singe on her rump as she shot out of the barrel like a cork on a bottle of pop and smacked one of them across the face, bouncing off his chin and smacking into another one of them, slamming into the ground and screaming with rage. Taking advantage of the rules of a world of chaos and her own rules, which as to say were non-existent, she ran up and down the sides of walls, bounced high up into the air, tracked and galloped across the sky and use every trick and trade she had up her sleeves to knock them down and knock them down hard.

Her attacks had no pattern or through and were completely random. A gut punch was followed with a right jab, roundhouse kick, head but, rump bump and double hoof kick all on enemy, followed by bouncing off him and performing the same set of random strikes on the next. Keep 'em guessing, a surprise party was the best kind of party, why should fighting be any different?

Soon, only a few of them were left, most of them still struggling to get out of her homemade jelly. Only three weren't stuck and they didn't look so tough anymore. She cart wheeled through the air, sticking one four times with her hooves, bounced off the ground and head butted another one rapidly on his head, rounding on the last one and grabbing her cannon, blasting him right in the face, the scales turning even blacker with the added soot. He waved and whirled on the spot, until Pinkie gently blew against him and he toppled to the floor in a heap.

She glanced back at those that were remaining stuck in the jelly, staring at her with disbelief and, most of all, fear. Bullies were only tough when you were just as scared as they wanted you to be. When you started to stand up to them and prove you weren't a pushover, suddenly they weren't so scary anymore.

"Imposssssssible…ssssso fassssssst…What are you…?" one of them whispered.

Pinkie smirked at him, pulled out a big colourful box, wound up the crank on the side to start the music, Pop Goes the Weasel and left it to turn itself, prancing off the jelly surface showing her back to them as it reached the end of the countdown. Just before the last second, she answered his question.

"I'm Pinkie Pie."


The box opened and three boxing gloves on springs shot out, hitting each serpent across the face and knocking them out. Nodding with satisfaction at her victory, Pinkie bounced away and calmed herself down, leaving piles of dazed, beaten and sleepy Paraserpents behind her. Just like any one of her parties.

She reached the floating island and jumped up to join Spike and Twilight, the dragon staring at her. "Pinkie… that was amazing!"

"Yeah, I guess," she shrugged. "I normally don't go so cocoa loco like that unless somepony really deserves it and they really deserved it, big time!" She fumed a little, but brightened up again in seconds. "Any way, all done now. How is she?"

"She'll be fine, but this wound needs somepony to have a look at it," said Spike. "I don't know much about that kind of stuff though."

"I don't either," she reported sadly. "We need to get her to one of the others, get her some help."

"But how are we gonna…?" Spike trailed off, looking at something behind Pinkie. "Look at that!"

Pinkie turned and her eyes widened. "Ooh, it's one of Dusk's puppets!" It stared at them for a moment and galloped away. "Come on Spikey, if we follow it, we may be able to get help."

"Right." He heaved and slung Twilight over his shoulder. "Where do we go from here?"

"Come on, we'll take the islands over, it shouldn't be too hard," decided Pinkie, seeing a path of them.

"What? How are we gonna reach those?"

"You got two legs dontcha? Jump!" With a single bound, she soared over to the next island. As mean and strange as it was, a world of chaos could be kind of fun.

Standing at the centre of the hill, Dusk was deep in his magical trance, almost like he truly was the puppets that he had sent out to find his friends. His emotions, his memories and warmth for them all were what flowed through him like a raging river, filling his whole being and leaving little else. His body was a tool of his mind, which stretched out across the town like the clouds in the sky.

He was only vaguely aware of the sounds of his friends battling around him, fighting to keep him from harm. That they would even do such a thing created a storm of love and gratitude for them, which was added to the emotions that already coursed through his whole being. How could he have ever thought that, at one point, they seemed to have considered abandoning him forever...?

So, he didn't take notice of the battle or anything else around him. Not the hissing of the Paraserpents, the cries and shouts of battle, the single stone around his neck growing brighter, not even the fact that his cutie mark of a scroll seemed to be flickering as well. Almost fading from existence completely.

Not even that, he carried on guiding them, as he had done before...

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