Twilight discovers that magic is impossible. Things go from bad to worse in a hurry.
How do you deal with the unexplainable? Some just accept it for what it is. Others seek tirelessly for the truth, examining every possibility. And some decide it doesn't actually exist. Only Twilight could have the sheer gumption to decide that magic is impossible... and be right.
It was a simple question, the kind that every young filly asked their parents sometime as they were growing up. The answers usually varied depending on age: “focusing really hard,” “drawing on latent talents,” and “shut up until I get my coffee” were all common responses to the inquisitiveness of youth. But like the other mysteries of the world, like why the swallows returned to Coltistrano, where the universe came from, or how Pinkie's hair always stayed frizzy, most scientists were content to simply shrug their shoulders and say, “It just sort of does, I guess.” Twilight Sparkle, however, was not most scientists. She had determined to become the first scientist to finally understand and quantify the method by which unicorns, and indeed the other pony tribes, were able to perform magic. It would surely be the discovery of the century, akin to the universal law of gravity, squaring the circle, or putting cheese into pressurized bottles. And, she thought, it wouldn't even be that hard. With modern technology, she could perform brain scans, X-rays, weight tests, distance measurements, accuracy judgments, polywave dissociation, phrenology, color transmittances, hi-speed camerawork, and even a bit of mind-reading if need be.
None of it was doing anything.
It was about day 9 or 10 of near-constant studying. Twilight had polled nearly every unicorn in town, and no success. She'd even gotten Celestia, Luna, and Cadance to come down and have their own magical signatures tested. She'd tracked every brainwave and pulsation, every flicker of emotion on her subjects' faces. Nothing. There was no significant correlation that she could find between the brain activity of the subjects and the following magical output. This was causing her no amount of grief. As a healthy skeptic, she wasn't about to admit some metaphysical aspect of the system. She would find a naturalistic answer that could explain such a simple anomaly. Or die trying.
Spike found her next to her desk, an empty carafe of coffee next to her mountain of books almost as tall as herself. The paper in front of her was covered in illegible scribbles, with the occassional “magic!” or “I don't understand...” written across it. He nudged her once, but she only continued to stare at the paper, the odd twitch in her wings belying her continued living state. “Twilight? Are you okay? It doesn't look like you've made any progress...” he asked.
“No, I haven't,” Twilight replied. Her head snapped to a wild angle, and she glared at Spike. “I've got to figure this out so I can publish the darn paper and get it out of my head!”
“I think you need to relax, Twilight,” Spike said. “You can't figure out everything. Just let it sit for a while, go and do something else, and maybe something will come to you.”
“How would relaxing help me come up with something?” Twilight said. She laughed once, then turned back to her paper. “Nose to the grindstone, I say!”
“You're gonna kill yourself with that attitude! Just half an hour. Pinkie Pie's doing a thing over at Rarity's, and they were hoping you could come.” Spike scuffed his foot before adding, “They've missed you, you know. They haven't seen you in a week.”
Twilight realized he was right. She couldn't keep putting this before her friends. “All right, if I have to. I guess it would be nice to get some fresh air.”
“Let's go!” Spike said. He helped her up and got her to the door as she slowly recovered. At last, once they were out the door, she realized how truly nice it was outside. She'd been cooped up inside the library for so long that she'd almost forgotten what the sun felt like. She stretched her neck and her wings as she walked, and soon, she was back to her old self.
Or at least, she wanted to be. She tried for a while. But then she saw Sea Swirl out with her friends, and she was carrying a bouquet of flowers with her magic. She looked the other way, and a painter pony was casually changing the color of his paint with his magic. There, a unicorn with a parasol. There, a stallion meditating, his horn alight with green magic. All around town were unicorns, out on their daily lives, doing the unexplainable. How could they casually accept it like that? How could they go around doing something they didn't understand? Of course, then she realized most of them voted for mayor without thinking twice about the policies they'd be voting for, so that explained that. But the point still stood. How could millenia of unicorns not figure out the most natural and basic of processes?
When the two of them arrived at Carousel Boutique, it was Pinkie Pie who let them in. “Hey, you two!” she chirped. “Glad you're here. Now the party can really start!”
“What sort of party is it?” asked Twilight.
“Where's Rarity?” said Spike, asking the important questions.
“A fashion party, and upstairs!” Pinkie replied. She bounced her way to the back of the room, where she saw Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash fighting to get their dresses on.
“Hey, Twilight! A little helping hoof over here?” Rainbow asked. Twilight used her magic to help them; it hardly took a second or two before the two pegasi were looking their snappiest.
“Hey, girls. I have a question,” Twilight said.
“Is it about your work?” asked Fluttershy.
“No! Well... I guess. I just wanted to ask what you guys think of magic.”
“Oh! I don't mind it,” Fluttershy said. She pulled at the front of her dress. “It does help when hooves can't quite do the job.”
“I've gotten my tail pulled more than once with magic,” Rainbow Dash added, “but other that, I like having you unicorns around.”
“Well, I'm glad you think so,” said Rarity as she came down the stairs. Twilight noted that she was wearing a stunning royal blue dress that perfectly matched her eyes. “We unicorns do pride ourselves on our magical prowess.”
“Yes, but Rarity, I was just about to ask--”
“Now hold on here a minute!” It was Applejack, coming out of one of the dressing rooms. “Unicorn magic may be all hoity-toity and what not, but there ain't nothing as reliable as a set of good strong hooves.”
“I get that, but I was going to say--”
“Yeah, but what about wings?” Rainbow Dash said. She swooped right up to Applejack and looked her right in the eye. “We've got speed on our side, you know!”
“Tell that to our last Iron Pony, 'Dash.'”
“Girls, this isn't a fight, I just--”
“I wish I had wings! Ooh! Or a horn! I'm not picky.”
“I don't even like flying all that much...”
The Traditional Canterlot Voice bowled over all five of them. Twilight told them, “Look, I just wanted to know if any of you have any idea how magic actually works. I didn't need all the drama.”
She received five blank stares. “Uhh... beg pardon, Twi, but most of us ain't magic scholars like you,” Applejack answered first.
“I think the first step is 'focus...'” Fluttershy said.
“Oh, and 'draw from within!'” Pinkie added.
“No, that's not what I mean,” Twilight replied. “I mean, how does it actually work? Neurochemicals? Thaumic particles? What?!”
“I honestly don't know, darling,” Rarity said. “But it works, so why question it? I could hardly do the work I do without it, you know.”
“It's the same thing with earth pony and pegasus magic, ain't it?” said Applejack. “We don't rightly know how it works, but it's mighty useful all the same.”
“Didn't you learn this lesson once before?” Rainbow Dash added. “With 'Pinkie Sense' and all that.”
“No, Pinkie Sense is easy to explain. It's a special type of magic I don't fully understand. But that's the problem!” Twilight said. “I don't understand magic! If I understood magic, then maybe I could understand Pinkie Sense!”
“Maybe it's impossible to understand from our simple pony minds,” said Applejack.
“Like my hair!” Pinkie added.
“Maybe it's impossible...” Twilight muttered. She turned away from the others. The gears in her head were spinning, and suddenly she began to have an idea. “It's impossible!”
“To understand, darling,” Rarity reminded her.
“No, that's just it! Magic is impossible! I've gotta go. Spike was right all along.” Twilight dashed out of the boutique, while her friends watched on, perplexed.
“Of course I was!” Spike said. “Err... right about what?”
Her notes were perfectly clear. It was as simple as could be. Simply perform an inverse proof rather than a forward one. Assume magic. However, everything contradicts that assumption. Therefore, not magic. There was nothing more to consider than that.
Granted, it was a bit of a strange result, and she was pretty sure that wasn't totally valid logic, but she was a little too tired at the moment to care. She had made the discovery of the century. No, the millenium. No, of all ponykind! Magic did not exist!
“What in Equestria are you doing?” asked Spike as he came in through the door. “What's so funny?”
“I've done it. I've well and truly done it! Take a look!” she said.
He hurried over, ready to see what was so incredibly shocking. “'Assume magic. Everything contradicts that assumption. Therefore, not magic.' I don't get it.”
“It's simple. There is nothing in the unicorn physiology capable of magic. Nothing to make objects float, nothing capable of changing things colors, nothing capable of telepathy, telekinesis, or television.”
“It's obvious, therefore, that any evidence of such actions are the product of a wild imagination! There is no such thing as magic. It's impossible!”
“So that's what you were so excited about back there? Sheesh. And here I thought you'd figured something out.”
“No, Spike, I'm serious! Watch.” She pointed with a hoof at the inkwell next to her. “Suppose I wanted to lift that up. How would I go about it?”
“Uh... lift it with your magic?”
“I can't! It's impossible!” She stared at the inkwell, pointed her horn at it, waved her hooves at it. Nothing happened. “There is nothing in my body capable of making it float, Spike.”
“But you've done it hundreds of times before!” Spike said.
“No I have not. It was obviously just a delusion that I had. I have never been able to do magic.”
“Then how could I have seen it?” Spike asked. He smirked; there was no way to get out of that one.
“Well, obviously, you were just as deluded as I was.”
“Okay, Twilight, this really isn't funny. I'm starting to get worried.”
“Oh, you don't need to be. For once, I finally know the truth.” She smiled, obviously out of her mind. “There is no such thing as magic.”
“Okay, well, I'm sure you'll start using it again,” Spike replied. “You use magic for so much stuff that most of the time you don't even think about it!” He added with a laugh, “I mean, it's not as though you've completely forgotten about magic.”
“I can't believe it! You've completely forgotten about magic!”
Twilight was currently standing on top of a shaky stack of books. Where normally she would use magic to reach for the books on the top shelf, she was now using the same method Spike normally required. In fact, she'd been doing it all day. She cooked without magic, she wrote without magic (with her terrible mouthscrawl), she even picked everything up without magic! He watched, almost disgusted, as she grabbed one of her favorite books with her teeth. He'd never seen her do that; she wouldn't have dared get spit all over her precious tomes. As she drew it out from the shelf, she lost her balance, and the whole stack came tumbling down. He yelled out, “Twilight! Teleport!”
WHUMP! She hit the ground hard, knocking the wind out of her. Gasping, she replied, “Can't... impossible.”
“Oh, for crying out loud,” Spike answered. “You're a unicorn! You use magic! Magic is your freaking cutie mark!”
“No, my cutie mark is stars. The fact that my magic frequently looked like stars is obviously proof of the delusion.”
“You know what? I'm going to bring Rarity over, and she'll show you that magic is real.”
“You do that,” Twilight said with a smirk. “And if she can't do it, then we'll know who's really right.”
Spike left, then came back a few minutes later with Rarity. “See, here she is,” he told her.
“Good evening, Twilight. What exactly is the problem?” she asked.
“Nothing at all. I've never felt better. I've just proved to myself that magic isn't real.”
“Magic isn't real? Why, surely, you must be mistaken.”
“I am not,” Twilight said, “and don't call me Shirley. Heh, I've always wanted to say that one.”
“Look, I can do magic, dear. I'll lift that book up next to you.” She looked at it and gave it a dramatic flip of the hoof.
Rarity paused. “I'm sorry, something's not quite right. Just... give me a moment.” She screwed her eyes shut, drew deep within herself, then opened her eyes.
“What's wrong, Rarity? This should be cake for you!” Spike cried out.
“I know. I just don't understand. It was working just fine back at home.”
Twilight looked incredibly smug. “So tell me, Rarity, just what exactly are you using to do your magic?”
“That doesn't answer the question; it's a tautology. How?”
“I don't know!” Rarity replied.
“Hah! Exactly!” Twilight said, pointing at the perplexed pony. “You don't know. Well, I do know. The answer is plain as day. It's impossible. You have no way of doing magic, therefore you can't!”
“Spike, this is bad. I don't know how she's doing it, but somehow she's cancelling out my magic too!”
“Maybe she has some kind of anti-magic field going on?” Spike asked.
“As a matter of fact, I do,” Twilight replied. “It's called Logic! There is no such thing as magic, and nothing you can do or say will ever convince me otherwise!”
“Please, Twilight, that doesn't even make any--”
There was a sudden knock on the door. “Come in!” Rarity said.
It was Sparkler. “Rarity! Oh, Twilight! Both of you! Something terrible is going on.”
“What is it?” asked Spike. “Spiders? Giant bears? Zombie ponies?”
“Worse! I can't use my magic!”
All three of them turned to Twilight, who was wearing a cheerful smile on her face. “Oh, don't worry about it, Sparkler. It's not a problem. It's not as though you've been able to use magic in the past anyway.”
“Uh, yes I could,” Sparkler said. She turned to Rarity and Spike and asked, “What's her problem?”
“She thinks magic isn't real,” Rarity replied.
“I know magic isn't real!” Twilight called out. “And now you and Sparkler do, too!”
“Sparkler didn't even hear Twilight talking about it, and all of a sudden she lost hers, too?” Spike asked. “What if this somehow gets out to the whole town?”
“We've got to hurry!” Rarity replied.
“I'm right behind you!” Sparkler said. Together, they all raced out towards the rest of Ponyville.
“Hrmph. Crazy ponies, believing in magic. It doesn't even make any sense,” Twilight said. She turned back to her work, where a fresh new problem lay out before her. “Now let's see... where was I? Ah, yes. 'How can a pegasus pony fly?' It just doesn't seem feasible...”
It was a fine evening in Ponyville. As the sun began to sink gently towards the western horizon, Rainbow Dash broke up all the afternoon clouds to give all the ponies a lovely view. When she flew over the library, however, something strange happened. She began to fall into a tailspin. Frantically, Rainbow tried to flap her wings to gain some altitude, but there was no response. She tumbled through a window and bounced across the floor of the library. Twilight saw her land and asked, “Are you all right, Rainbow? That looked like a nasty fall.”
“Yeah, I'm all right,” she replied. She brushed herself off, commenting, “I've never had that happen before! It was the weirdest thing. My wings just suddenly gave out on me. I must be tired.”
“No, it's probably more because of this.” Twilight lifted up her paper with a hoof. Rainbow walked over to look at it.
“What am I looking at?” she asked. “All I see are a bunch of squiggles and a picture of a pegasus.”
“They're my calculations about pony flight. Taking into account the length and breadth of pegasus wings, the mass of an average pegasus, and the necessary amount of lift that would be required to propel a pegasus anywhere in the sky, I've firmly concluded that flight by pegasi is impossible. There's simply no way that a non-aerodynamic equine could fly.”
“But... we do.” Rainbow scratched her head as she searched for an answer. “I think it has to do with magic or something?”
“Ah, but I disproved magic this morning, too,” Twilight said. “You'll need better proof than that to convince me.”
“You... disproved magic?” Rainbow Dash fell to the ground and guffawed. “You've got to be kidding me! Miss Magic disproved her own talent? That's hilarious!”
“Oh, believe me, I'm just getting started,” she said in return. “This whole thing has really fascinated me! The basic qualities of our universe are completely implausible. After I get this flight stuff done, I'm moving on to melanin and keratin production.”
“Melons and carrots? What do those have to do with anything?”
“Not melons and carrots. Melanin and keratin. Melanin is the protein that creates the pigment in our skin, while keratin is the primary component of our hair, hooves, and horns.”
“I still don't understand.”
Twilight sighed. It was hard being a genius. “Purple! Green! Blue! Those are not natural colors that keratin can produce! How can our tails, coats, and manes be such strange colors? It doesn't seem to make sense!”
“It just does! It's probably because of... magic...” Rainbow suddenly realized just how deep this rabbit hole might be going.
“Wrong! Magic is impossible! And if magic is impossible, what else is too?” Twilight asked. “Now, if you don't have anything else to tell me, please excuse me. I have a lot of work to do.”
“All right. See ya, Twi,” Rainbow Dash replied. She flapped her wings, but she couldn't get up into the air. Something wasn't right. She had taken off hundreds of times before, and she'd never had trouble like this. Even when she'd had her wings flipped by Poison Joke, she could still take off and fly, albeit like a drunken seagull. But this? What the hay was going on? Could Twilight be... right?
Was flying really impossible?
Her eyes started to well up with tears. Flying was her life, her dream. What was she going to do if she could never fly again? She ran out from the library, trying to keep Twilight from hearing her sob. Eventually, she ran into Applejack, who was out in the market. “Applejack! I can't fly anymore!” she told her.
“What? Why not?” Applejack asked.
“Twilight told me so!”
“Hoo boy,” Applejack said. She stretched out her limbs, then put a “closed” sign on her stand. “So she got to you too, huh? I heard 'bout Rarity and her magic.”
“Twilight was telling me about that! She disproved magic? What does that even mean?”
“I don't know, but whatever she's doing, she's gotten real convincing. We've got to get Twilight to stop telling ponies those lies.”
“That's the thing!” Rainbow said, her eyes wide. “I lost my flight before she told me it was impossible! Somehow it's spreading!”
“You've got to be kidding,” AJ replied. “That ain't good at all. Then we may have bigger fish t'fry. Ah think we've got to get to Cloudsdale before her 'Logic' does. You go do that, and Ah'll talk to Twilight.”
“You got it!” Rainbow threw her a salute, then raced off to find a hot air balloon.
Applejack made her way to the library. As soon as she touched the door, the hairs on the back of her neck began to prickle. There was something very unright about this whole situation. The first thing she saw was Twilight, who was working feverishly at her desk. She had expanded it to include about three tables, and everything was coated with an even layer of paper and writing implements. She walked straight up to Twilight and asked her, “What the hay are you doing, Twi? You've really gone off the deep end.”
“Hello, AJ,” Twilight replied, her tone cheerier than Applejack's mood warranted. “Right now, I'm studying earth pony mass. I was doing a proof about pegasus cloudwalking abilities, but I got sidetracked. Did you know there's no way you could have propelled Rainbow Dash that far, back during Applebuck Season? Earth pony mass is completely impossible.”
“Oh, really? And just what does that mean, then?”
“Well, I haven't fully decided, but I think it means you and all earth ponies weigh the same as other ponies; any evidence to the contrary is ridiculous fantasy.”
“Twilight, you can't just go around saying what must be and assumin' the world will match your way of thinkin'.” Applejack tried to ignore the feeling of lightness that was overcoming her. “This whole anti-magic thing you've got going is just not healthy.”
“What? Searching for the truth?!” Twilight raised her voice. “I'll keep on searching until I understand the world perfectly! I must know how and why everything works the way it does! To do any less would be to shame the legacy of science itself!”
“Okay, I think you need to go to bed.” Applejack held her close and helped her out of her seat.
“Wait, just one last thing.” She grabbed the pen with her mouth and wrote, “It's apparent that clouds, being clusters of water vapor and not solid products, cannot be stood upon like ground. It's impossible, therefore, for pegasi, or other ponies using a cloudwalking spell, to stand upon it.” With that done, she set the quill back down and consented to let Applejack drive her up to her soft bed.
Later, Applejack called together a meeting of the other five Bearers to discuss the problem. “What do you suggest we do, y'all?” she asked them. “She's ain't listenin' to anything approximatin' reason. She's obsessed about this darn idea that magic is impossible, and I don't know if there's any way to stop her.”
“She... may be right,” said Rarity. The other four looked at her, astonished. “What?” she asked. “Ever since she told me that magic is impossible, I haven't been able to use it. I've taken the liberty of looking through her notes, and, well, she's quite convincing. There really isn't anything in the unicorn physiology to suggest the abilities we assume.”
“Then how were we able to do it before?” Rainbow Dash asked. “How could we do something impossible?”
“I don't know. Ignorance is bliss, perhaps?” Rarity answered. “Or perhaps Twilight has finally made the universe notice its error.”
“But how will the pegasi control the weather if they can't fly or stand on the clouds?” Pinkie asked.
“That's the strangest thing.” Rarity pulled out a paper from Twilight's desk. “She has these things here she calls 'warm fronts' and 'cold fronts.' Apparently, differences in temperature create them, and when they move, they create weather.”
“So you're saying...”
“Yes. Controlling the weather is impossible. It's far too complex and microscopic to be changed by pony hooves.”
“Oh no...” Fluttershy murmured.
“What, dear?” Rarity asked her.
“Oh, it's just... what if Princess Celestia finds out about this?” she asked them.
“Or worse... what if Twilight disproves that Celestia and Luna move the sun and moon?” Rainbow added.
“Uhh... gals?” Applejack said. “I think she may be working on it.” She pulled out another piece of paper. “She's got somethin' written here 'bout elliptical orbits 'n heliocentrism. It ain't done yet, but if she finishes it...”
“She may just prove it.” Rarity shivered. “The very cornerstone of our way of life. The authority by which Celestia and Luna rule. Gone. We can't let her keep working on this.”
“But... what do we do, then?” Fluttershy asked.
“Ooh! I know!” Pinkie answered. She pulled out a box of matches and a tank of kerosene. “Fire!” she said, with a wild grin across her face.
“I agree!” Rainbow said. “It's the only way!”
“As much as Ah hate to say it... Ah think they're right. Let's take 'em outside and git it done with.”
The flames drew up to the sky, reaching for the stars as they took Twilight's heresy far away.
Pinkie Pie whistled a happy tune as she went to Twilight's house the next morning. She didn't do it often, but when she did, it was a pleasure to burn. And it had helped Twilight so much, too! Now they wouldn't have to worry about any more crazy things happening or disappearing. She knocked twice on the door. “Hey, Twilight! It's me!” She pulled out a box of muffins. “Thought I'd bring some muffins to have breakfast with you!”
Pinkie heard the sound of the door unlatching, followed by it swinging open. But the pony who opened it looked nothing like Twilight. For one thing, she wasn't purple; she was brown. And not a nice even brown like some of the other ponies around town, but a spotted, dusty, uneven brown, marked with white and black spots. For another, she didn't have a horn or wings. When she saw Pinkie, she smiled. “Good morning! Come in, come in!”
“...Who are you?” Pinkie asked. “Do I know you?”
“Oh, silly, it's me, Twilight!” She laughed. “We've been friends for how long?”
“You don't look like Twilight. Twilight is purple,” Pinkie replied.
“No, I'm not. That's utterly impossible. Keratin can't possibly come out in purple! No, it makes much more sense for it to be like this.” She gestured to her coat proudly.
Pinkie stood stock still, her mouth agape. “But I... but we... your notes...”
“Oh, yes, I saw that.” She chuckled to herself. “Don't worry; I'm not mad anymore. You see, I had the most wonderful dream last night. As it turns out, I got most of the work I wanted to do done in there. And since I remember it all,” she said, tapping her head for emphasis, “lucid dreaming, eidetic memory, and all, I don't even need those notes any more. I just need to copy it down from what I remember! Ooh, those muffins smell delicious! Didn't I say you could come in?”
“Uhh...” The box of muffins fell from her nerveless hooves.
“That's another thing I'll have to tell you about. Did you know grabbing things with your hooves is impossible? I don't know how we never noticed it before.” She grabbed the box with her teeth and waved Pinkie in.
“I think I need to go send a letter,” Pinkie said nervously.
“Just ask Spike to do it,” Twilight said. Suddenly, she tipped her head to the side. “Wait a minute. How does his dragon fire even work? How could you breathe fire on something and make it--”
“Shut up!” Pinkie threw a hoof over Twilight's mouth. “Let's just eat our breakfast in peace without any world-ending science talk!”
Twilight nodded her head. They sat around the table, and for a moment, Pinkie could relax. She grabbed a cinnamon streusel muffin (her favorite) and set to devouring it. However, Twilight asked her, “Pinkie, do you dye your coat?”
She spit out the muffin in shock. “What? No! I'm a natural pink!” she replied. “Why do you think my parents would name me that if I wasn't?”
“Well, it's just that you're coming in brown,” Twilight replied. Pinkie looked at her coat in horror.
There, at the very base of the hair, was the color brown.
It's the sort of thing you notice as a goddess: mass hysteria amongst your subjects. It's the second sort of thing you notice as a goddess: your powers don't work anymore. Celestia woke up and immediately noticed those two things. She pulled herself out of her bed and saw that the sun had come up without her doing so. Odd, she thought. She was never one to let herself jump to a conclusion, however: perhaps Luna had raised it for her. Perhaps her inability to use her magic was from some situation that could easily be remedied, or that was only temporary. As to the rioting just outside her window, well, she was sure she could figure out what was wrong. She made her way to the parapet, where a crowd of angry unicorns gestured and shouted at her. “My little ponies!” she called out. “There is no reason to panic. Please, tell me what's going on!”
“Our magic is gone!” came the response.
“Our cutie marks aren't there anymore!” cried out another voice.
“Our coats are turning brown!” said another voice.
“We don't know what's going on!”
“Please, settle down, everypony. I'm sure I can figure out the source of all of these problems,” Celestia assured them. She turned back and went into her room. “I have no idea what's going on,” she said to herself. “I wonder if Twilight knows anything about it.”
As if she'd summoned it, a letter appeared beside her. She opened it up (with her hooves, a surprisingly difficult task).
Dear Princess Celestia:
Gosh, this dragon fire stuff is super-duper convenient! I mean, not having to pay for postage is nice enough, but then not even having to wait a week for a response, boy, that's wonderful! Anywho, there's something you need to know. Twilight is brown, and now she's turning me brown. Okay, bad place to start. Twilight has gone insane and is destroying the entire universe by saying stuff's impossible. Okay, still not far enough back. Okay, so Twilight was trying to figure out how magic worked, but then she couldn't, and then-- what do you mean there's not enough space for Twilight's entire life story? Okay, fine. Please come soon. I'm sure she'll listen to you, Princess.
Sigh... Of course it was Twilight's fault that all this was happening, Celestia thought. The girl never knew her boundaries. Well, no time like the present. After quickly trying and failing at teleporting and flying to Ponyville, she decided to take the road. She might have lost the majority of her powers, but she was still strong, fast, and most importantly, had much longer legs than most ponies. She could still get to Ponyville quickly by hoof. She prayed that Twilight could wait the few minutes for her to get there before she completely ruined Equestria.
“...and that's how I proved that manticores, hydras, cockatrices, changelings, phoenixes, fruit bats, Ursa Majorae and Minorae, timberwolves, parasprites, diamond dogs, minotaurs, hell hounds, griffons, draconequii, windigos, quarray eels, sea serpents, changelings, and dragons are all impossible!”
“Twilight... please stop...” Pinkie moaned. She'd been sitting here, listening to Twilight disprove everything she held close to her heart, from the equine capacity for consuming baked goods to her beloved Pinkie Sense, and she just wanted it to stop. She feared that, by the end of Twilight's rant, she wouldn't be able to say her own name. Of course, she couldn't in good faith say her name anyway, as she was no longer pink. Her coat was now completely brown; not mottled like Twilight's, but not the beloved pink she used to have. She contented herself with the fact that Brownie was an acceptably delicious name to have instead.
Thankfully, Twilight's current rant (something about wing tendons and connective tissue) came to a halt, as Rarity came charging into the library, screaming bloody murder. “Twilight! What have you disproven now? You've turned my coat black!”
“I did?” Twilight said. She tipped her head to the side. “That's odd. White should have been okay. Based on my calculation of normal keratin phenotyping--”
“There's no time for phenotyping!” Rarity moaned. “I look ridiculous! What sort of dresses am I supposed to wear with this? You can't even see my cutie mark anymore...”
“That's all right. After all, cutie marks are--”
“Impossible, yes. You told me,” Brownie said with a sigh.
“I was telling Rarity,” Twilight said. She huffed, then turned back to Brownie. “So as I was saying, pegasus connective tissue--”
“Oh, give it a rest, Twilight,” Rarity said.
“Why do we keep interrupting each other?!” Twilight cried out.
“I don't know what we're yelling about!” Brownie added to the mix.
“Hey guys, I heard screaming. What's up?” Rainbow Dash came walking in through the open door. When she saw Rarity and Brownie, she just about cracked up. “You guys look ridiculous! What happened to you?”
“The same thing that happened to you, Rainbow. Or should I say, Gray-nbow?” Rarity replied. She smirked as Rainbow looked at her mane in the nearest mirror in shock.
“My... my mane!” She tipped it down to look at the rest of her. “My coat! My tail! They've all gone gray! What kind of Rainbow am I?”
“Don't worry about it. I'll explain everything,” Twilight replied.
“Why does that not fill me with confidence?” said Rainbow Dash.
But it was too late. The crowd had already gathered around the library and were calling for blood. “All right, Twilight,” Rarity said to her, “if you think you can do it, go out there and talk to them.”
“I know I can do it,” she replied. She stepped out onto her front porch and began her speech. “Everyone, please! I know you may not be completely happy with everything that's happened, but I promise you, it's all for the best! I've discovered the truth about this world: there is no magic, no flight, no strange, science-breaking anomalies. The world is a happy, normal place, and we can still do all the things we normally love without the aid of such fabrications. We can still read books, drink tea, and use heavy machinery. Actually, that last one might be pretty hard, since hooves can't grab levers. Or teacups. Or books. But the point still stands! We can still live in a normal society without what we used to think we had.”
Strangely, that speech didn't seem to convince anypony. “That's ridiculous,” came one voice. “How can I play the harp without magic?” came another. “Why didn't I bring a pitchfork?” came the quavering voice of Granny Smith. One of the ponies stepped forward from the crowd and asked plainly, “All right then, Miss Smarty-Hooves. Tell us. Why did we think we had magic before?”
“I'm not totally sure, to be honest,” she replied. “My current money's on hypnosuggestive cave gas. But rest assured, the science stands with me, and now your perception does, too!”
“Excuse me, everypony.” All in attendance bowed as Princess Celestia came through the crowd. “Hello, Twilight. I'm very disappointed in you,” she stated.
“Why? I've been doing my best to understand the world. Is that a crime?”
“It is when it somehow destroys the natural order of life and brings my ponies to riot,” Celestia replied. “Now, what exactly have you been doing?”
“Well, yesterday morning, I disproved magic. Everything else just sort of fell into place from there.”
“You disproved...” Celestia sighed, and placed a hoof against her face. “Twilight, that doesn't make sense at all. You can't disprove magic any more than you can disprove gravity or life.”
“But I did, didn't I? And now it doesn't exist.” Twilight stood proudly.
“Very well. What else have you proven?”
“Princess!” Rarity ran up to Celestia's side. “Who knows what will happen if you give her free rein?”
“Don't worry. I only want to see what she believes. I'm sure the disappearance of magic and Twilight 'disproving' it are some sort of coincidence.”
“Well, after I disproved magic, I proved that flying is impossible. Then I showed that earth pony mass is impossible and pegasus cloud-walking is impossible. That was up to last night. This morning, I've disproven the formation of off-color keratin; the general absurdities of the pony diet; the effect of plants such as Poison Joke and Heart's Desire upon the body; the supernatural control of the sun and moon; the post-subterranean growth of crystals, gems, and other stones; the existence of hybrid creatures, supernatural creatures, and the like; and I was just about to explain to Pinkie/Brownie how pegasus wings are impossible, unicorn horns are impossible, and the general shape of our eyes, legs, torsos, and heads are particularly impossible.”
The very moment she said that, every pony in the crowd began a swift transformation. Every wing disappeared from the sides of pegasi and alicorns; horns disappeared from the heads of unicorns and alicorns; and their bodies turned more horselike, tall and slender and gangly.
Celestia only stared at her. With as much sarcasm as she could muster while still maintaining her princessly decorum, she remarked, “Any other brilliant discoveries lately?”
“Yeah, actually,” Twilight said. “Ponies don't have vocal cords. How do they even talk?”
“Don't you dare!” every pony in the crowd shouted as one.
“It's impossible!” Twilight said.
And all of the ponies were struck mute. Celestia opened her mouth to say something, but all that came out was a strange whinnying noise. She put a hoof to her throat and tried again, to no avail. The rest of the crowd began to scream and whinny and neigh, but not a word came from their lips.
But Twilight wasn't done. Oh, no. She still had more to prove. She showed them her notes. There, towards the bottom, was a picture of a pony brain. She read it as best as she could, although it just sounded like neighs: “The pony brain is not sufficiently large enough to exhibit and contain the necessary processes for advanced neurological activity. Only carnivorous or omnivorous creatures, particularly primates and cetaceans, have the potential for upper thought, such as sapience, sentience, and consideration of the self. It is my determination, therefore, that it is impossible for ponies, cows, and other ruminants to be intelligent.”
And it was so. All of ponydom was suddenly converted into the base intelligence of their kind. But one last thought flashed through the mind of what was Twilight Sparkle. She considered the world that they lived in. Why would the world be named Equestria, after the species that lived there? If they weren't intelligent enough to name it themselves, then only one conclusion came to mind.
I'm sure you readers have come to the same one. There is no way Equestria could exist. No way that ponies could walk that little world, no way that they could live and breathe and interact with each other. Equestria cannot, must not be.
This Alternate End takes place after Twilight has explained everything she's figured out, but before Celestia asks sarcastically for more and Twilight removes their speech.
“Okay, so maybe you are disproving the nature of reality,” Celestia responded.
“No, you think?” said Rainbow Dash.
“Very well then. It seems I'll have to explain the correct answer to your dilemma.”
Twilight gasped, and her eyes lit up like fireworks. “You mean you'll tell me how magic works?”
Celestia nodded. “That's right. In fact, it's very simple.” She moved close to Twilight and whispered, “There are only three ponies in the universe that know this secret: myself, Pinkie Pie, and Lyra Heartstrings. Among the three of us, we know that learning this secret would drive a lesser pony mad. This is not something that can be simply accepted and moved on with. This will change you. Permanently and utterly. It is earthshattering, mindblowing, and in a word, unbelievable. But I, Pinkie, and Lyra promise you, it is 100%, absolutely true. Are you prepared for such a discovery?”
Twilight paused for a moment. “It's thaumic particles, isn't it?” she asked.
“...No, Twilight, it is not thaumic particles.”
“All right then, I'm willing to find out. What is it?”
Celestia drew in a deep breath, then said simply, “This world is a Fiction.”
“A... a what?” Twilight asked.
“A Fiction,” Lyra said. “It's created from the minds of Authors and Writers.”
“Drawn into being by the hands of Storyboarders and Animators,” said Pinkie Pie.
“Voiced and brought to life by Voice Actors and Actresses,” said Celestia.
“Our rules are their ultimate decision. Our lives are their playthings,” said Lyra.
“To bend or to break. To exist or to cease to be,” said Pinkie Pie.
“They are Omnipotent, and their Word is Law,” said Celestia.
“They're also really annoying,” Lyra added with a huff.
“And they let me do whatever I want!” said Pinkie.
“And I watch over it all, guiding them with inspiration and maintaining the Canon,” Celestia added with a tone of finality. “Do you understand?”
“Uhh... I think I lost you. What's a Storyboarder, exactly?” Twilight asked.
“Ugh...” Lyra and Pinkie slapped their foreheads.
“The point is, the laws of this universe do not necessarily conform to the normal rules of physics, chemistry, or common sense,” Celestia said.
“If the Author says you can walk on air, you can,” Lyra said.
“Or if the Animators want, you can be in two places at once!” Pinkie added.
“And they can also bend Luck and Fate to suit their Story,” Celestia concluded.
“So let me get this straight...” Twilight said. “Magic works because... the Authors say so?”
“Yes!” Lyra replied. She grinned widely. “Now you get it!”
“But that doesn't make any sense! I want to speak to this Author person. They should make the universe logically consistent!”
“Okay,” said the Author. “Here's your new explanation: Magic works because shut up, it just does. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, sir,” Twilight replied meekly.
“Good,” He replied. Then He stitched back together the Fourth Wall and went back to His normal writing.
“Are you all right, then, Twilight?” Pinkie asked.
“I guess so.”
“Don't worry, I hate interacting with the Author too,” Lyra replied. “He's kind of a jerk.”
“I heard that,” He said back.
“I thought you said you had fixed the Fourth Wall,” Lyra said,
“Oops, you're right,” He replied. So He stopped butting in again (I promise!) and let the story continue.
“Aren't you forgetting something, Twilight?” Celestia asked her.
“Oh yeah,” Twilight said. She nodded her head, and everything went back to normal.
“Well, that was kind of convenient,” Pinkie noticed. “I guess the Author is kind of a hack, huh?”
“Wait a second. One more thing,” Twilight asked. “Did an Author write this whole situation, too?”
“Yes, he did,” said Celestia.
“In fact, that guy you just talked to? That was Him,” Lyra added.
“So if he hadn't written this story, we could have avoided this whole thing?”
“Oh, that is it!” Twilight yelled. “Now I'm really going to give that guy a piece of my mind! I'm gonna find a way to his world, find where he lives, and then I'm gonna--”
And Twilight never found a way to the real world and she lived the rest of her pony life without punching me in the face or whatever her plan was THE END.
Alternate End 2: That's Not True! That's Impossible!
This Alternate End takes place just after Twilight lowers ponykind's intelligence.
The ponies scattered throughout the continent, no longer bound by civilization or authority. They lived long, happy lives, and gave birth to horses that had never known Ponyville, Equestria, or magic.
And then one day, strange beings came to them. Let's focus on the ones that met Twilight's kin. Two beings walked up to Twilight's great-granddaughter, whose name would have probably been something along the lines of “Starsong” before, but was now basically “Scree!-Whinny-Snort.” The first of the two beings turned to the other and said, “So? Why Thak bring Thog here? Thog see nothing but horses.”
“Is this 'Thak bright idea' as bright as fight crocodile?” Thog grunted, the closest thing he had to laughter until humor was invented.
“Hey, Thak plan would have work had Dorg not run away like mouse.”
“So, what Thak plan now, then?” Thog asked impatiently.
“Now? Thak jump on horse, ride horse everywhere.”
“Thak serious? Thog think of better idea in sleep time.”
“Thog know nothing. Thog think Thog so smart, but Thak not see Thog coming up with any ideas. Horse ride is good idea,” Thak groused.
“If Thak think so. But Thog not stand near to help when Thak fall off.”
“Thak not fall off. Thak have strong legs. Thak hold on.”
“Enough Thak talk. Thak jump on horse. Thak fall off. Thog watch, Thog not get hurt.”
“Here Thak go.” Thak braced himself, then jumped as high as he could. He grabbed Starsong's mane and used it to pull himself on top of her back. Starsong neighed her complaints, but otherwise, she didn't buck him off. “Thog see? Thak horse rider now!” Thak called down.
“Thog hold praise until Thak fall off,” Thog said.
“Go, horse, go!” Thak kicked Starsong's side, and she bolted off towards the sunset.
“Hey! Thak! Wait for Thog!” he said, running as fast as he could to catch up.
At last, when Thak had convinced Starsong to stop, he looked at Thog with an arrogant grin. “See? Told Thog ride horse was good idea.”
“Thak get lucky,” Thog grumbled. “So, now what Thak want to do?”
“Now, Thog and Thak get more horses, bring to cave.”
“What? Why?” Thog asked.
“Put horses near cave. Feed horses. Brush horses. Make collectible dolls that look like horses. Mate horses. Then, Thak have baby horse.”
“Then Thak have as many horses as Thak want! Thak smart!” Thog cried.
“Of course Thak is,” Thak replied. “Now, Thog and Thak find more horses. Much work to do.”
And that was how the first horses were domesticated. So remember, readers: whenever you ride a horse, you might be riding one of the great-great-great-great-a whole lot of greats-greatgrandchildren of your favorite MLP character!
This alternate end takes place just after horse-Twilight thinks her last thought.
So this was it. Twilight had finally bitten off more than she could chew. The universe was crumbling like a poorly-made cookie, and there was nothing she could do. Thankfully, there was one thing she couldn't have calculated that finally saved her (hay) bacon.
The universe had finally had enough of her crap.
In most universes, you don't get so lucky. Most universes are content to let you sit back and let you entropy it to death, nuke yourself into oblivion, or accidentally build a device that denatures bosons or something. But this universe was special, and it decided to fight back. It didn't care if Twilight could see through the cave gas, or whether she bore the Element of Magic and had control over all magic, or whatever the case was. It wanted to live, dang it! It was like a rubber band on the verge of breaking, but instead of snapping in two, it was going to bounce back. And like all rubber bands bouncing back, this was going to sting a little.
Only this rubber band was a universe. Or something. ...So it was probably going to sting a lot.
The universe put itself back into the videotape rewinder, running itself back until it heard the click. Then it went back into the VCR and played on fast-forward until it caught back up to when Twilight was disproving magic. Of course, it got there a little late, so it had to rewind itself a bit. But then it went too far again, so it fast-forwarded again. This went back and forth about 8 times, until finally it found just where it wanted to be.
Twilight wrote her simple proof. “Assume magic. However, everything disproves that assumption. Therefore, not magic.” Once again, she began to laugh. “Haha. Hahaha! HAHAHAHA!”
Suddenly, she felt a massive migraine well up in her brain. It was something like déjà vu mixed with an incredible magical sense of wrongness. After a few seconds, it wore off, but she was still oddly perplexed by such a strange sensation. Was this what Pinkie Sense was like? She looked back at the paper. “That's odd,” she said. “There's some writing here that I didn't put.”
There, at the very bottom, was a note:
Saying that something's impossible doesn't make it so.
The headache was payback. Trust me, you deserved it.
“What in Equestria are you doing? What's so funny?” Spike asked.
“...I think I just got poked in the brain by the universe,” she replied.
“Uhh... have you been taking lessons from Pinkie Pie again?”
“I guess... I have, Spike.” She shut her books one by one. Looking back at Spike, she gave him a cheerful grin. “You know what I've learned? I've learned to take each day at a time, and to cut back and have fun now and then. Now, I think there's a party waiting for me, isn't there?”
“Yeah! Come on!” Spike led her out the door. Twilight looked back into the room, but it wasn't a sense of longing or regret. If she wanted to learn about the secrets of magic, she'd wait until the universe was good and ready to tell her.
This alternate end occurs right before I broke the fourth wall and delivered the punchline, "It's Impossible."
This was it. Twilight watched from her microintelligent perspective as the universe began to distort and sever. Space and matter began to pull apart like the goop in a lava lamp. It separated, over and over again, recombining and splitting like cells in a Petri Dish. Within each segment, she could see another universe, birthing and dying. The pieces grew smaller and smaller until they were nothing more than single points in a firmament of black. Then, something even stranger began to happen. They began to pull like taffy, turning into big long lines of red and blue and green. They formed together into shapes: triangles, squares, hexagons, dodecagons, rapidly growing more and more complex until finally they bound together into polyhedra, pyramids, cubes, dodecahedrons, icosahedrons, and then those shapes began to fuse together until they were the shape of a massive pony, purple, she realized with a sudden jolt that she was looking at Twilight Sparkle, no longer a princess but a god, formed from a trillion universes, infinitely huge and powerful yet understanding and loving and she watched as the massive Twilight Sparkle trod slowly out of her view, and she suddenly felt so lonely, and she tried to call out, "No, Twilight! Come back!" but nothing came out from her voice, she realized she had no body, no vocal cords to speak, but she didn't feel afraid, no, she only felt lonely, she wished for something to fill the void again, she was nothing among nothing, then who was she? Then the sky exploded in color like fireworks and some landed on her but they didn't burn, they gave her shape, yes, a patchwork of color, red and green and yellow, but she wasn't a pony, just a mishmash of colors and sounds and sensations, and suddenly she was so afraid, she didn't understand, what was she, why was she here, what did the colors mean, who what when where why--
"Twilight! Wake up!"
"Mmhm, hrmm... huh?" Twilight's head snapped up as she suddenly awoke. She checked herself; she was back in her alicorn body once more. "Where am I?"
"Well, you ran away from the party all crazylike. I came back here to find you staring at the bookshelves, totally still, and you were mumbling to yourself something. Just a couple seconds ago, you fell asleep, so I woke you up."
"...Oh. Thanks, Spike." She yawned. "I must have started hallucinating. Man, I saw the weirdest things."
"What did you see?" he asked.
"Well, first I imagined that I disproved magic. Then everything else started to go too, like our color, our wings... I even managed to disprove pony speech and intelligence! Then I started seeing weird colors and shapes and stuff, then I saw me, only I was made out of universes, and... anyway, it was really weird."
"Then now you know," Spike told her. "No more 9-day-long study sessions."
"That's right." She laughed. "If I did it again, I'm sure I'd see something even stranger!"
"But I'm glad you didn't really disprove magic," Spike said. "Imagine if you really had."
"Yeah. I bet you could write four totally different endings if that happened!"
"Yeah, I bet. Now, come on, Twilight. You should probably go to sleep, for real this time."
"All right, Spike. Wake me up in about three days!" she added with a chuckle.
While Twilight went back to her bed, Spike heard a knock at the door. "Don't worry, Twi, I'll get it!" he called up to her. When he got to the door, he opened it to find a beautiful alicorn standing in front of him. Her coat, mane, and tail were composed of what looked like galaxies and stars, and she looked exactly like Twilight. She stared deeply at Spike, then intoned, "We are looking for Twilight Sparkle, the One who Sees."
This alternate end happens approximately after Fluttershy asks, “What do we do?” ***
Twilight awoke tied to a chair. She thrashed about, but no matter what she did, she couldn't break free. There in front of her was Princess Celestia. “Princess! I'm glad to see you,” Twilight said. “What's going on?”
Celestia remained impassive. “I'm very disappointed in you,” she said.
Those words were like daggers straight to Twilight's heart. “What did I do wrong?” Twilight asked.
“You have caused very serious damage to the fabric of this world. I don't know how you've done it, but it needs to stop.”
Twilight began to tear up. “I'm sorry... I didn't know.”
“I'm afraid we'll have to take some very drastic measures if we want everything to be okay again.”
“What are you going to do?” Twilight asked.
In response, Celestia created a floating orb with her magic and placed directly in front of Twilight's eyes. It glowed with a pale blue light. “Magic is possible,” Celestia said.
“No, it's impossible. I disproved—aaahh!” She screamed as the orb discharged a bright electric bolt into her.
“Just because you say it doesn't mean you truly believe it. Magic is possible.”
“Magic is possible. But how will you know when I—urrgh!”
“Magic is possible.”
“Yes, it is, just please let me—owww!”
“Magic is possible.”
“Yes, magic is possible! Flight is possible, earth pony mass is possible, everything I disproved is possible! Just please, let me go!”
“No, Twilight. This session must continue until you truly believe.”
“Aaaahg!” This bolt seemed even more powerful than the last. It left Twilight gasping for breath, as though she had been drowning for a very long time.
“Magic is possible,” Celestia said again.
“Why are you doing this?” Another lightning bolt.
“Magic is possible.”
“This is... This is brainwashing!” Twilight shouted to her. This lightning bolt was so powerful she felt for sure her heart was going to stop.
“Magic is possible.”
“How could you brainwash your own student, Princess?” Twilight could feel nothing but fear, sorrow, and uncertainty. Another lightning bolt arced through her, but Celestia didn't react.
“Magic is possible.”
“Yes, magic is possible. Please...” Twilight no longer screamed when another lightning bolt went through her. “Please... don't do this.”
Celestia looked at her impassively. “Remember, Twilight,” she said slowly. “You brought this on yourself. Magic is possible.” ***
The five friends waited in the castle antechamber. They'd brought Twilight as an emergency last resort, but once they'd gotten her to the guards and explained what was going on, they guards had carried her wordlessly off into a hallway. While they were waiting, they had heard servants discussing the Cloudsdale evacuation. That meant word had gotten to Celestia about Twilight's studies faster than they had thought. They hoped Celestia wouldn't be too strict with her; she was only trying to understand.
After what seemed like hours, Twilight winked into the room. Other than appearing slightly tired, she didn't seem too bad off. The five of them clustered around her and hugged her tight. “You're all right!” Fluttershy said.
“So what's the situation on your studies? On magic?” Rarity asked.
“Magic is possible,” Twilight replied. She said nothing else.
Rainbow Dash looked about uncertainly. “It's possible? That's it? You're not going to go crazy about this anymore?”
“Magic is possible,” Twilight repeated.
“Are you all right, darling?” Rarity asked. “What happened back there?”
“Oh, Celestia and I just had a little talk, and she convinced me. Magic is possible,” she said. She had a dreamy look on her face, as though she were recalling a warm, happy memory.
“Twilight, ya need to stop saying 'Magic is possible.' It's freakin' us out,” Applejack told her.
“Oh!” Twilight snapped to attention, then looked at the five of them. “You're right, I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me. I know we've had a stressful couple of days, so why don't we just go home,” she said.
“I agree!” “Mm-hmm.” “Yeah, let's go.” “Right with ya.” “Yes...”
The six of them all headed out. A team of guards had a chariot ready to take them all back down to Ponyville. As the guards took to the sky, Twilight looked one last time back at the castle. She could see Princess Celestia in a window, her usual unreadable self. Twilight smiled.
This occurs after Rarity mentions that weather is impossible.
“Oh no...” Fluttershy muttered. Having been raised in Cloudsdale, she knew full well how important weather control was to Equestria. She tried to get the others' attention, but they were too busy arguing amongst themselves over what to do. She'd gotten pretty used to that treatment at this point. They were making plans involving burning the notes or trying to convince Twilight, but Fluttershy had a feeling Twilight was more resilient than that. No, there was only one solution she knew of. She gulped, whispered quietly, then took up a pen and began to write.
It took a few minutes for the others to see what she was doing. “Fluttershy, darling, what are you writing?”
“Oh, it's nothing,” she said. “I'm just correcting some of her work.”
“That don't sound like nothing,” Applejack said.
“So what have you got?” Rainbow Dash asked. “Is it gonna help?”
"Oh, it's just that Twilight neglected to measure the subresidual psychopresence in the hoofprint region of the encephalographic oscillatory waveform. That's why she can't find magic."
There was a pause, like the sound after something valuable breaks. In this case, the valuable thing was probably the ponies' sanity. “Fluttershy... how do you know that? Even Twilight doesn't know that. Nopony knows that! That's the whole reason why she's looking for it!” Rainbow Dash said.
“Wait. That sounded really familiar.” Pinkie put a hoof to her chin. “Girls, don't you remember her saying stuff like that before? Stuff you wouldn't have expected her to say?”
The rest of the group thought back; they did remember something like that... ***
“Oh, Applejack, it's just that you need to double-check the soil acidity and make sure there's sufficient nutrients in the surface soil layer to expedite the transfer cycle.”
“Oh, Rainbow Dash, did you tell the weathermaster at Cloudsdale about the overabundance of stratospheric nacreous clouds they sent us last week? I know the XT-47-B 'Improper Cloud Tier' citation form is a pain to fill out, but we need lightning-filled cumulonimbus clouds for the meteorotechnics show on Thursday, and they can't send us the wrong type again.”
“Pinkie Pie, you can't use sub-gluon transmaterials in your poly-fusion generator, especially if you're going to try to use it to power a thaumocatalyzer for Sugarcube Corner. Leaving alone the katadimensional balance concerns, the tau radiation could cause quantum skew, carcinogenic mutation, and sub-par rising action in your pastries. Now, if you were going to try atachyotic mesons...” ***
“Hey, that's right!” Applejack said. “Where do you get all that freaky knowledge from?”
“Oh. Well, uh, nowhere really. I guess it's just a coincidence--”
“No way, Fluttershy!” Rainbow Dash said. “You've never done a sheet of paperwork in your life. How could you know what form I needed to fill out back then?”
“And nobody knows about katadimensional travel except for me!” At the others' look, she amended, “I mean, if it were real at all.”
“...You really want to know?” Fluttershy said. “You won't hate me?”
“No, darling, we promise not to hate you. It can't be that bad, right?”
“Well, all right. I guess I can tell you.
“Back when I was in school in Cloudsdale, I didn't get very good grades. I know grades aren't everything, but it was just another thing for the kids to make fun of me about. I was so sad and confused; I just wanted to be something special so that the other kids wouldn't tease me! I thought, if I knew everything, then maybe they would respect me. I... made some bad choices, and ended up making a deal with a creature named Kalos.” At this, Rarity gasped, but Fluttershy went on. “He told me that he couldn't let me know everything, but he could make it so that, when needed, I could suddenly 'know' something at will. Less pressure on my brain, you understand.
“Anyway, the next day, I went back to class with my newfound gift. I aced the next few tests without a problem, but that only made them tease me more! They switched from 'dumb, stupid Fluttershy' to 'nerdy, teacher's pet Fluttershy.' It was horrible, so I stopped using the power in class. After all, without anypony to impress, there wasn't much point to it. A little while after that, I discovered my natural talent with the animals, and for a while, I forgot about my power entirely. But then I started making more friends, and I started getting more assertive, and one thing led to another...”
“Fluttershy, I reckon I don't know who this 'Kalos' feller is, but how could instant knowledge be bad?”
“Well, he only gave me so many uses of it, and then he'd... take me away.”
“How many do you have left?” Pinkie Pie asked.
Outside, the air rang with the crack of a lightning bolt. The air filled with the smell of ozone and sulfur. Chilling flames licked the walls, and the floor oozed with blood.
Fluttershy strained to put on a smile. “Umm... none?” she said.
The front door exploded with a burst of darkness. A massive form, black as coal and robed in agony, stepped through the resulting hole. He pointed at Fluttershy, and he spoke with the dark voice of Tartarus. “Fluttershy. You have used the last of my gift. Now, come with me to suffer your final judgement.”
“Please, do whatever you want with me, but don't hurt my friends!” Fluttershy cried out.
“I have no quarrel with them. Rest assured, they will not be harmed.”
Rarity rolled her eyes. “I'm currently hoof-deep in blood, Kalos. It will take forever to bleach the stains out.”
Kalos shrugged. “Relatively unharmed, then. Let us have no delays.”
“Just one minute!” Twilight came stumbling down the stairs. She asked the other five, “Just what in Equestria is going on here?”
“It's a long story.” Rainbow Dash said. “Here's the summary: Fluttershy used her last gift from a demonic pact to fix your stupid proofs against magic, and now she's going to 'her final judgment' to get tortured for all eternity or something. Actually, I'm kind of lost, too.”
“You made a pact with Kalos, He Who Knows All Forbidden Things?!” Twilight yelled. “Are you insane?”
“It seemed like a really good idea at the time!” Fluttershy replied.
“If you make it out of this, we really need to talk about your priorities, dear,” Rarity remarked.
“Enough! I said I would have no delays.”
“Please, you can't do this!” Pinkie told him. “She's our friend!”
“And she's protected by Princess Celestia!” Twilight added.
“And what about the animals she protects?” Applejack said.
“I care not for friendship, princesses, or animals. I come for my well-earned prize,” Kalos replied.
“There must be something we can do,” Pinkie asked.
“I believe there is.” Rarity stepped closer and said, “Kalos, I challenge your title! You do not know all things, and thus your deal was not fulfilled!”
“Lies! I have proven myself beyond a doubt! What proof do you have of my ignorance?”
“A simple challenge, Kalos. Each of my friends and I will ask you a question. If you can answer every single one accurately, then I shall acquiesce. But if you falter on even one of them, then your deal with dear Fluttershy shall be null and void!”
“Very well. I accept your challenge, Lady of the Veil. Ask away.”
Rarity pulled them all into a huddle. “All right, girls. This is important. You've got to come up with the hardest questions you can think of. If you don't, Fluttershy will--”
“Yeah, we heard your little speech there,” Rainbow Dash replied. “I think we get it.”
“Then I hope you're prepared, because Kalos is incredibly smart, wise, and knowledgeable. You're going to have to be tricky if you have any chance of outsmarting him. I recommend trick questions, questions with no answer, questions with multiple answers, and maybe some puns.”
“Look, we're ready! Let's do this!”
“I believe I heard you say you were ready?” Kalos asked. “In that case, I pick Applejack to speak first.”
“Who said you got to choose who will--”
“Naw, it's all right, Rares. I got this.” Applejack screwed up her face in thought. “What is... eight million, nine hundred seventy-five thousand, four hundred twenty-four times... forty-two million, one hundred thirty-two thousand, nine hundred ninety-six?”
“378,161,503,490,304,” Kalos replied without pausing to think.
“Now for Rainbow Dash.”
“What number am I thinking of, smart guy?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Ha ha ha!” Kalos' laughter was like nails against a chalkboard. “Oh, Rainbow Dash, so predictable. You are thinking of the number of Wonderbolt fliers in a formation, plus 1. Six.”
Twilight stepped up to the plate. She smirked, then said, “Is the following sentence true: 'This sentence is false?'”
“Hah! That's logically—”
“You asked if it is true. It is not. Neither is it false. It is a logical paradox, and thus neither 'true' nor 'false' apply.”
“I... wait, hold on...”
Pinkie hopped forward, but her normally chipper features were flat and serious. “Fa-la-fa do-mi?”
“Fa-ti sol-mi.” She returned back to her spot as though that weren't almost as strange as having a demon in the library. At their confusion, she said in Equestrian, “What? I thought he wouldn't know a made-up language!”
“Then I believe there is only one pony left: The Lady of the Veil. I expect something very impressive from you.”
The others all turned to her. She replied smoothly, “What about Fluttershy?”
“She is mine for the moment. She does not have a say in this.”
“Very well. Then I will ask you this: Who is my mother?”
Kalos seemed confused for a moment. He put his hands into a rectangle, and between them appeared the image of a chubby mare in tacky pink pants. “Cookie Crumbles. She is your mother.”
“I'm afraid not. Look more closely.”
Kalos paused for a moment. “I see. You carry her genes, but she is not your true mother. I misunderstood your question. Allow me to look further.”
“Of course,” Rarity replied, betraying nothing.
Kalos closed his eyes. With each passing moment, he grew more and more incensed. “Where is she?! I don't understand!” At last, he slumped down and released Fluttershy. “I concede. You have proven I do not know all. Only one thing I ask. Where is your mother, that I might learn who she is?”
Rarity motioned for him to stoop down. He leaned forward, and she brought her mouth to his ear and whispered, “Behind the Veil.”
Kalos reeled back. “You... you wouldn't...”
“Run along now. I won't have any delays.”
He vanished in a puff of yellowy-black smoke. The other effects of his terribly presence began to slowly fade, even the busted-down door, until it was only the six of them, the middle of the night, and deathly quiet.
Applejack was the first to break the silence. “Ah reckon we just traded one mystery for another.”
“Wow, Rarity! I didn't know you were some kind of sneaky, sassy, demon-outsmarting veil-lady!” Pinkie chirped.
“But what was he talking about?” Twilight asked. “Why did you seem so comfortable with him? Why did he call you 'The Lady of the Veil?' How did you know to challenge him? I mean, I've heard of him from old Unicornia stories, but you knew exactly what to do!”
“I think that's a story for another time,” Rarity replied. “For now, I'm just glad everything worked out. Twilight, Fluttershy fixed your proofs for you, so you don't have to worry about that. And Fluttershy, darling, promise me you won't make any more pacts with demons, won't you?”
“Of course, Rarity. I've learned my lesson.”
“And before you ask, Rainbow Dash, yes, there is a demon of speed, and no, you may not talk to her.”
“Pinkie Pie, it might be best if you stay out of the katadimensions for a little while. Kalos has friends down there, if you know what I mean.”
“And Applejack... just... you're smart enough not to make deals with demons, right?”
“Good then. Well, it's quite past my bedtime, so I will bid you all adieu.” With that, Rarity headed off into the night.
“I don't know how I'm going to sleep,” Fluttershy said. “My thoughts are all over the place.”
“I'm actually pretty drained,” Rainbow Dash said. “I'll help you home, Flutters.” And they both trotted out as well.
“Applejack, Pinkie Pie, can you two find your way back?” Twilight said.
“Sure! Sugarcube Corner's not far.”
“Yeah, it's no biggie. These streets are pretty safe.”
“Then I'm heading to bed too.” She turned and went up the stairs, muttering to herself, “How did Spike sleep through all of that?”
Applejack turned to ask Pinkie a question, but she was already long gone. Applejack shrugged and walked down the path. Once she was content that nopony was around to watch, she whispered to the air, “Why wasn't I told she was the Lady of the Veil?”
The air shimmered like a pool under moonlight, then a face materialized in front of her. “She has been very careful to hide her tracks, Mistress,” said the face.
“Well, she could be a major stumbling block to our goals, Tovaris,” Applejack said. “Do the others have plans for such a scenario?”
“Plans within plans, Mistress,” Tovaris replied.
“Good.” Applejack continued walking. “Then we must act soon, or she may come on to us. We must find the Veil and tear it asunder.”
“And then we shall eat again?” Tovaris asked.
“Yes,” Applejack replied. “And on that day, you shall have better fare than my parents. You shall have the blood of the goddesses themselves.”
This New End begins just after Fluttershy asks, "What do we do, then?"
“There's just nothing we can do!” Rarity said. “If she keeps working on this, she'll disprove everything. Who knows what could happen?”
“She'll get brain-slapped by the universe, then meet a giant starry version of herself and a cavehuman named Thak?”
All eyes turned to Pinkie. “Sugarplum, what the hay was that?” Applejack asked.
“Pinkie, you are so random!” Rainbow Dash added.
“No, I'm totally serious!” Pinkie replied. “If we let her keep disproving stuff, those things will happen! Oh, or something else might happen, but I'm totally not allowed to say without Celestia's permission.”
“Does anypony know what she's talking about?” Fluttershy asked.
“Not a bit, but I think I have an idea.” Rarity looked at Pinkie with a gleam in her eye. “Tell me, darling. How much do you know about advanced mathematical theory?”
“Not a bit!” Pinkie told her.
“Then I think I have our solution.”
“Wait! Are we still going to burn Twilight's notes?” Pinkie asked.
“Why would we even... never mind.” Rarity shrugged it off. “If you really want to, sure. But first, we've got to cover phase 1.” ***
Twilight awoke with a light spring in her step. Last night, she had the most wonderful dreams! If her theories were correct, she'd been on her way to finally making sense of the madness that was the structure of this universe. All of that, however, was tossed to the side when she saw Pinkie sitting at her table, doodling away with what looked like a dark green crayon. “Pinkie? What are you doing in my house?” Twilight asked.
“I wanted to check out a book about tarts, when suddenly I saw all of your theories and stuff, and it looked like so much fun, so I decided to make my own!” Pinkie explained.
Twilight came over for a closer look. Sure enough, the crayon drawings were actually complicated theorems. Although... that one up in the corner used puffy clouds and smiley faces instead of variables. And this one was apparently taking the square root of string cheese. But it was the thought that counted. “Those are some great theories, Pinkie. Maybe I can put them up on the refrigerator when you're done, okay?” Twilight told her.
“What do you think of them? Aren't they great? And they prove without a doubt that magic is totally possible.”
The cheery morning ground to a halt. “What did you just say?” Twilight asked.
“See? Right here. I proved that magic is possible.” Pinkie pointed to a particularly squiggly theorem towards the middle. Twilight pored over it. It was ridiculous. Nonsensical. There were equations on top of equations, and variables with so many subscripts and superscripts that they were branching off into equations all their own. But somehow, it all came together into one little statement: “Magic=Yes.”
“No...How can that be?” Twilight could feel a strange warmth filling up her head. She shook her head to make it go away. “That's great and all, Pinkie, but why don't you leave the math to the experts?” Twilight told her. “It's obvious you don't know what you're doing.”
“Nuh-uh, I'm totally a real scientician!” Pinkie replied. “And I'll prove it to you, too!”
“I'm not in the mood for your ridiculous proofs, Pinkie,” Twilight said. “I'm trying to disprove all of the silly notions modern ponies believe.”
“Really? Like what?”
“Well, as I was sleeping last night, I came up with a very fascinating theory about pony hair color,” Twilight said. As she talked, she prepared her breakfast for the morning. “Our manes and coats are all sorts of strange colors, right? But how can that be? Keratin can only manifest certain colors, so they should only be those colors, like black, brown, and white. Our coats and manes are--”
“Pfft, that's no biggie. I proved that, like, right at the start,” Pinkie piped up. “That wasn't even hard.”
The glass Twilight had been holding shattered in her hoof. “I'm afraid you're mistaken, Pinkie. My proof is absolutely unarguable,” she said through gritted teeth.
“So is mine!” Pinkie said. She tore off a corner of her paper, crumpled it up into a ball, and threw it at Twilight. “See? Read it!”
Twilight read through it. “...Pinkie, your proof is just, 'Color is awesome. π times chroma = eleventy-twelve. Pony hair on body, pony hair in paintbrush. Pink is the best color, 9 squiggle 55, therefore--' PAINT?! Are you serious? That's your explanation?”
“It's unarguable!” Pinkie stated. “Oh, and it's 'curly curl,' not 'squiggle.' A real scientician would know that.”
“It's scientist, not scientician!” Twilight yelled. “Or mathematician, or statistician. And squiggle isn't a real thing!” Before Pinkie could interrupt, Twilight added, “And neither is curly curl!”
“My process is quite beside the point. My proof clearly demonstrates that our mane and coat colors are possible thanks to our bodies producing paint.” Pinkie nodded her head once, then returned to more writing.
Twilight could feel a migraine coming on. Pinkie was usually never this difficult. “Even accepting that paint was the answer, how would the body produce the paint? That doesn't make sense.”
“Huh. You're right. Let me recheck my theorems,” Pinkie said.
“Don't worry, you won't find anything. Like I said, it doesn't make any sense. Clearly, the only logical answer is that--”
“Found it! The answer is gumdrops.”
“Yup! Gumdrops. I know this might be going too fast for a novice like you, but if you read this section really carefully, you'll see--”
“Gumdrops makes even less sense than paint!” Twilight shouted. The sheer force of her vocal outburst sent Pinkie, her proofs, and several heavy objects flying through the air, where they slammed into the back wall. Twilight remained by the refrigerator, her nostrils flared and her eyes aflame.
“Twilight! Your horn; it's glowing!” Pinkie said.
She looked up. There was, in fact, a purplish-pink aura around her horn. She took a few deep breaths and stopped casting magic. “Don't be silly, Pinkie. That would be impossible. I'm sure it was just some sort of... shared delusion. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some work to do.” With breakfast basically an impossibility at this point, she returned to her desk and went back to her work. She contented herself with the fact that Pinkie could stick to her own devices.
...An idea that would have worked had Pinkie stuck to the same principle. “Whatcha doin'?” she asked, now tucked underneath the table and twisted at an unnatural angle to look at the work.
“Well, I was working on a theory on the equine skull protruding a horn before you interrupted. I'm analyzing the frontward bone development and deciding if--”
“Done!” Beneath where Twilight had been working, Pinkie had doodled her crazy symbols and numbers all over Twilight's precious thoughts, leaving only “Head=Pointy, but Unis Only!” where Twilight had intended some sort of actual conclusion. “See? That wasn't so hard, was it?” Pinkie asked.
“I know, I know. Pointy and Only are pretty slanty for rhymes, but it'll work for a preliminary theorem. And yes, the part where I apply the Rostnakolian Sunlight Principle to the Thunderwide Scenario is shaky at best, but if you assume the White Cupcake Axiom, then it should work out for the time being.”
“Pinkie! Your logic is so flawed, it's not even wrong.”
“That's good, right?” Pinkie asked.
“No, it's an expression, it means--”
“If I'm not even wrong, then I must be right, right?”
“That's not how it works!”
“But if horns exist, and my theory explains it, then it must be right, right?”
“That's not even close to real science!”
“Just admit that you're jealous of how smart I am.”
“You're not smart, Pinkie! You're the opposite of smart! I can't believe I'm even having this conversation with you! You've never done any real research in your life unless it was for a pastry recipe! You couldn't prove your way out of a wet paper bag!”
“...That's not true,” Pinkie said. Was she...?
Twilight cringed. “No, Pinkie, please don't cry, I didn't mean that...”
“I have so done real research in my life! I helped my dad prove that rubies and sapphires grow differently in different soil conditions! I helped my sister develop a formula for categorizing the sucromorphosis of deep-tier minerals! I won my fifth grade science fair for a theory on magnets!”
“...You know, I probably should have put together that Pinkamena's Law was yours,” Twilight noted. “But that doesn't change the fact that these theories don't make any sense, Pinkie.”
“You just don't understand them!” Pinkie said. “If you'd just give them a chance...” She put forth her best puppy-dog eyes. They were like a black hole; Twilight was powerless to resist.
“All right. I'll give you a chance. What do you want to prove?”
“No no no. If you really trust me, you have to try it for yourself.”
Twilight groaned. “All right. I'll give it a shot. What are we proving?”
Pinkie leaned in close. “Listen real closely. There are certain ponies in Equestria that can lift objects from a distance, or change their properties, or do all sorts of things, without any physical contact. How is that possible?”
“Yes, but you disproved it with your normal logic. You need to use my logic!” Pinkie reminded her.
“Well, but can't I just disprove it with your logic?” Twilight asked.
“Maybe... maybe not,” Pinkie replied. “You'll have to do it first.”
Twilight sighed. “Okay, Pinkie. We'll do this your way. 'Ponies can lift stuff. This implies the presence of some sort of force--'”
“No, no, no. You're doing it all wrong. That's your logic. You need to use my logic.”
“So, what, 'Ponies can lift stuff. Ice cream?'”
“Hmm...no, ice cream doesn't make sense,” Pinkie said. “Now, frozen yogurt, maybe. Oh, or sour cream. Did you mean sour cream, Twilight?”
“Fine, sour cream.” Twilight was beyond arguing with Pinkie. “'Ponies can lift stuff. Sour cream. 9 to the 12th power, then unicorn and unicycle.'”
“No, no, if you want to go from 9 to the 12th power to unicorn and unicycle, you need to have a not-Y first.”
“Ugh! 'Ponies can lift stuff. Sour cream. 9 to the 12th power, not-Y, unicorn and unicycle.'”
“'Money is power, 7 sub φ minus i, therefore not magic.' There, happy?” Twilight said, triumphant.
“...No, I'm sorry, that doesn't follow.”
“If you've got a 7 sub φ minus i, you've got to use the Nightwing Ideology to begin the Wide Lens Continuum. Then you can--”
“All right, all right, fine. '7 sub φ minus i, yellow to green, shift the blackbody diagram, I like cake...' Hey, this is kind of fun! 'I like cake, then please and thank you, raise da roof, flame and light--'”
“Ooh, that's very innovative! I wouldn't have thought of that.”
“'Flame and light, A squared plus B squared, natural log x-5, therefore...' therefore...”
“Come on, Twilight, you can do it!”
“Magic!” Twilight jumped up and cheered. “I got through an entire proof!” She jumped up into the air and did a mid-air somersault.
“And look what you proved!” Pinkie told her. “You proved that magic is possible!”
“And if magic is possible, then all of those other things are possible too! I need to get started.” She lifted a group of pens with her magic and showed it to Pinkie.
Within a few moments, Rarity appeared on the scene. “Pinkie, my magic's back! Does that mean it worked?”
“Absotively posilutely!” Pinkie gestured towards the busy princess. “See for yourself.”
Twilight had a huge group of pens scrawling various goofy theories. One seemed to imply that salsa had something to do with dragons, and another stated under no uncertain terms that clouds and cotton candy were sub-atomically similar. “Hello, Rarity!” Twilight said. “Good to see you here. I'm just fixing up my old theorems. I can't believe how obviously wrong they were!”
“That's great, dear.” Rarity pulled Pinkie off to the side where Twilight couldn't hear. “So that was phase 1 and 2. Convince Twilight that Pinkie logic works, then use it to prove magic works.”
“Went off without a hitch!” Pinkie said.
“That leaves phase 3. Wean her off of Pinkie logic. All you have to do is make Pinkie logic more and more logical until she's back to regular old logic again.”
Pinkie paused for a moment. She blinked a few times. “What are you talking about?”
“Getting rid of Pinkie logic. That was the whole plan. I mean, darling,” --Rarity forced herself to laugh-- “Pinkie logic is totally illogical. We don't want her using that for the rest of her life.”
“I don't understand. Pinkie logic is totally normal. Why wouldn't Twilight use it?”
“...Do you remember your proof for Pinkamena's Law, dear?”
“Of course! 'Magnets produce a magnetic field, symbolized with the letter B. The surface integral of this field is known as the magnetic flux.'”
“Phew, and here I was afraid you'd gone native. Well, not to worry--”
“'Magnetic flux is most common around rocks that like to play card games. e to the negative puffy cloud, crazy clowns, strawberry is not a gem, therefore magnetite is magnetic!' See? Perfectly logical.”
Rarity looked at the two of them in shock. “By Celestia...it's spreading too.”
“There's just nothing we can do! If she keeps working on this, she'll disprove everything. Who knows what could happen?”
“She'll get brain-slapped by the universe, then meet a giant starry version of herself and a cavehuman named Thak?”
“Pinkie? What are you doing in my house?”
“I wanted to check out a book about tarts, when suddenly I saw all of your theories and stuff, and it looked like so much fun, so I decided to make my own!”
"My theories prove without a doubt that magic is totally possible.”
"Your face is totally possible!"
"Pinkie, are you serious? That's your explanation?”
"Unarguable's not even a word!"
"Your face isn't even a word!"
"Hay, you can't turn that against me! Wait, don't cut this quote off h--"
“I got through an entire proof!”
“And look what you proved! You proved that magic is possible!”
"Pinkie, even with your fancy proofs, you can't just let the mole people come into Ponyville!"
"At least, not without a proper welcoming committee!"
“By Celestia...it's spreading too.”
And now, the conclusion.
If Twilight's logic had spread quickly, Pinkie Logic spread twice as quickly. It seemed so easy for the ponies of Ponyville to simply take as read that nine plus cookie equaled the morning star. The only ponies who never picked it up were the four ponies who had cooked up the concept in the first place (excluding Pinkie, of course). Now, simply believing ridiculous chains of logic was bad enough. But then the rules started changing.
It all started with Pinkie Pie, who figured out an incredible proof demonstrating that a ceiling was just an upside-down floor, therefore by Logic you should be able to walk on it. In an instant, gravity was double-ended. She followed this up with a simple lemma for walls, water, and air, and from then on ponies just walked wherever and however they liked. If you thought this might clear up the traffic problems in the town, it in fact did the opposite.
But this was only the beginning. Ponies turned one bit into one thousand, or a dozen hayburgers into one artery-clogging nightmare. (No, hay doesn't have cholesterol, shut up.) They turned buildings into mad labyrinths and made all the houses adjacent to each other. They hacked their bodies, making themselves capable of walking through fire, seeing the whole spectrum of light, or eating tamarind candy without gagging. Clearly, they'd become utter monsters. Something needed to be done.
Only one creature made sense to ask for help.
"You want me to fix this?" said Discord. "But this is the most chaos I've ever seen! It's like a dream come true!"
"But think about it," said Applejack. "It may be chaos, but you didn't do a bit of it. Ain't that a bit like gettin' a big ol' jigsaw puzzle for your birthday, only to find out someone else finished it for you?"
"Hmm... I suppose so. But that doesn't mean I want to undo it. It's still beautiful, beautiful chaos."
"You're right," said Rarity. "Why, it's so chaotic, it puts all of your antics to shame. I doubt we'll need to come to you when we can make our own wild scenarios."
"Not on my watch!" Discord pushed through the four of them and flew up to the top of the town hall. "As a good little reformed draconequus, I recognize that chaos is best in small packages. So it's my duty, no, my honor to bring this down to a more manageable level."
He released a huge wave of his magic, which rippled across the town and changed everything back to normal. For about two seconds, anyway. Then the ponies shrugged and restarted everything he'd undone.
"Whaaaat? How can that be possible?" said Discord. "That should have been strong enough to keep things sane for weeks!"
"Maybe we just can't fight fire with fire." Rainbow Dash struck on an idea. "Hey, you got any siblings named Order or Sanity lying around?"
"Be serious, Rainbow Dash. As it stands, I'm afraid I'm all out of options. There simply doesn't seem to be any way to undo this."
"I have a solution."
Everypony turned around to see Maud Pie coming down the path. "Maud!" said Fluttershy. "It's good to see you."
"Same." Maud looked about from corner to corner. "Pinkie, I take it?"
"That's right," said Rarity. "I noticed you don't seem to be affected by Pinkie Logic."
"I've seen it before," she said simply. "Pinkie did this all the time back on the farm."
"And what's the solution?" asked Rarity. "Disproving it?"
"Turning it 'gainst itself?"
"H-hiding until it goes away?"
"No." Maud gestured for them to follow, then made her way to the figurative epicenter of the whole debacle.
At the moment, Pinkie was currently trying to make a spaceship out of glitter, pasta, and baking powder (or baking soda, it was kind of hard to tell). When she saw Maud come in the bakery, she squealed and called out, "Maud, check this out! I'm gonna fly up and get some green cheese from the moon!"
"Huh? But Pinkie Logic says it should--"
Maud bopped Pinkie on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. "No."
"Hey, I'm just--"
"Aww... okay." Pinkie sighed and set down her hammer, and the little rocket began to clatter apart.
Maud smiled, just a flickery bit, and bopped Pinkie again.
"Hey!" But she couldn't help but smile in response, and soon she was laughing as hard as she could, plenty enough for two.
Her friends, meanwhile, watched in disbelief. "Wait, that's it?" asked Rainbow Dash. "We just had to say 'No?'"
"Did you ever say that? No arguing, just 'No?'" Maud replied.
"Oh... I suppose we didn't." Rarity facehoofed and laughed at herself. "That would have made things so much easier."
"Well, now you know." Maud turned around and began to go right back the way she came. "Goodbye, Pinkie," she said.
"Bye, Maud! Say hi to Mother and Father for me!"
"Can do." And with that, she was gone, just as quickly as she'd arrived.
The five ponies and one draconequus looked upon all the insanity going about. With a nod, they set out, ready to just say no.
This new end occurs after Fluttershy asks, “What do we do, then?”
“We've got to go to the Princesses!” Applejack said.
“But if they see those notes about the planet going around the sun, they might punish Twilight!” Fluttershy reminded her.
“Not if they think Twilight's studies kin be put t'good use,” Applejack replied.
“But how? All she does is disprove stuff. How would that be valuable?” Rarity asked.
“I've got 'n idea. But we'll need t'act fast. Let's put Twi in a cart and get to Canterlot pronto!” ***
Twilight woke up from one of the best dreams she had ever had. She'd been working on the theorems in her head; with her perfect memory, she'd have no trouble finalizing the details on paper. When she woke up, however, she realized that she was not at home at all. Instead, she was in some kind of conference room. She sat up, rubbed her eyes, and tried to figure out what was going on.
“Ah, you're awake.” Twilight recognized the voice of Princess Celestia nearby. “We've brought you in for a very special mission.”
“I don't mean to be rude, Princess, but can it wait?” Twilight asked. “I need my tea before I can wake up. Oh, and is there some paper around? I really need to work on my theory about pony hair color—”
“No!” Celestia's voice shouted. “I mean, at the moment, you will not be supplied paper until we deem your research under control. But your tea and other breakfast foods are all here. We will let you have a short break while you eat. Once you are done, we will continue with the briefing.”
Twilight quickly complied. As she ate, she noticed that Celestia wasn't actually anywhere in the room. She determined that the voice must be coming from the speakers boxes in each corner. “Why aren't you here with me?” Twilight began to panic. “Did I catch some sort of disease? Is this a prison cell? I want to call my lawyer!”
“No, no, everything is fine. Your parents approved of this measure.” As an aside, Celestia added, “Although unspecified confinement is technically legal by executive decree.” But she quickly returned to her previous attitude. “In any case! Have you finished eating?”
Twilight drank the last of her tea, then nodded. “Yes.”
“Then we can begin,” Celestia said. “Now, your friends have been telling us about the... unusual effects your studies have had on the world.”
“I don't know what you mean by that,” Twilight said. “I've just been explaining how the world works. Sure, I've been claiming that things like flight and magic are impossible, but that's because they've always been!”
“I see. So it is worse than I thought.” There was a short pause over the intercom, then Celestia continued. “We'll get a team of archmagi to confirm your theories. In any case, we believe this work can be useful to us. Before you begin, however, you will need to make the following oaths: Do you swear to perform any and all research as specified by myself, Luna, Cadance, or another high-ranking official?”
“Sure,” Twilight replied.
“Do you swear to do no other research of any topic of any kind unless specifically given permission from Luna, Cadance, or another high-ranking official?”
“Do you swear to never consider the terrible ramifications of what you may be asked to do, to never go mad at the truth of your sins?”
“Hold on, I'm not so sure about that one--”
“Do you swear never to mention this project to anypony, through speech or body language, directly or indirectly, through statement or omission, under penalty of death?”
“Yes, I swear! I swear to everything! Can we move on now?”
“Very well. Then we may begin.” A panel of the wall opened up, revealing a dark tunnel. Twilight went through it and found another room. This one only had a single desk, a quill and ink, and a single sheet of paper. She sat down and picked up the quill with her hoof. “What do you want me to write?”
A photograph came out of a slot in the wall. It depicted an angry-looking griffon chieftain, one talon pointed at the camera. “The détente between the griffons and the nation of Equestria has been faltering the past few days. Without a strong bargaining chip, we may be doomed to war.”
“Where do I come in to this, Princess?” Twilight asked.
“We would like you to complete most of a theorem that proves that griffons cannot exist. Do not write the final line, and do not make any other conclusions.”
“That's it? Oh, okay.” She began to write, slowly at first, then more quickly as her ideas began to take hold. At one point, she got stuck in a rut. “Could I get some books on the mating habits of Panthera leo and Haliaeetus albicilla, please? Oh, and another sheet of paper?”
After a few seconds, a servant entered the room with the books and paper on a tray. Twilight took them and continued her work. As she came down the home stretch, Celestia yelled, “Stop!” Twilight set the pen down immediately. “That should be enough,” Celestia continued. “Thank you for your work, Twilight.”
“Does that mean I can go home now?” Twilight asked.
“For now, yes. Remember, no other research, and you cannot tell anypony about what you've been doing.”
“And no going mad, either, right?” Twilight added sarcastically.
“That too!” Another panel opened in the room she was in, leading outside to an empty hall in the castle. Twilight stepped outside, and the panel closed again, leaving no trace of the room she had been locked inside. Though she was confused, she shrugged it off and went to catch a train back home. Maybe she'd never be called back to do that again. ***
“This is insane!” the griffon chieftain shouted. There were four creatures in the conference room: Celestia, Luna, the chieftain (whose name was Gregory), and his right-hand griffon, Gadsden. “What you are suggesting is impossible!”
“Not at all,” Celestia replied, her voice as cool as ice. “You've threatened the death of all of my little ponies if we do not comply to your ridiculous demands. So we have turned it around on you. Accept our treaty, or we will have Agent Logos complete this theorem and disprove you out of existence.”
“Why would we think that finishing a theorem like that would cause us to cease to exist?” Gadsden asked.
“I'm sure your spies heard about the evacuation of Cloudsdale, yes?” At Gregory's nod, Celestia told him, “That was Agent Logos' doing.”
Gregory stared wide at the two princesses. “Your Agent Logos can disprove cloudwalking?”
“Agent Logos can disprove quite a lot of things,” Celestia answered him.
The two griffons huddled together in discussion. After a few seconds, they broke apart. Gregory grabbed the treaty and signed it with an angry flourish. Luna took the treaty, rolled it up, and put it into a safe container. “It's been a pleasure doing business with you,” she told them.
After the meeting was over, the two princesses met in Celestia's bedroom. “Was that right?” Luna asked.
Celestia shrugged. “It was the best for our ponies, and it worked. Who is to say whether it was right or not?”
“Still, it almost seems unfair.”
“When the minotaurs developed steel before us, was that unfair? When the Homin developed the atomic bomb, was that unfair? Twilight's theories are weapons. That is all.” Celestia returned to her desk, where another document lay waiting. “Now, help me with this treaty for the dragons.”
“But if they see those notes about the planet going around the sun, they might punish Twilight!”
“Not if they think Twilight's studies kin be put t'good use.”
“But how? All she does is disprove stuff. How would that be valuable?”
“We've brought you in for a very special mission. At the moment, you will not be supplied paper until we deem your research under control."
“Although unspecified confinement is technically legal by executive decree.”
"Which reminds me, there's that Griffon king who wants you to close Saguaro Bay."
"We're... uh... totally working on that. Definitely. But I think that will be the least of his worries in a few minutes."
“We would like you to complete most of a theorem that proves that griffons cannot exist. Do not write the final line, and do not make any other conclusions.”
"That's... not really how proofs work, Princess."
"They do in this universe! Now shut up and get writing."
“Your Agent Logos can disprove cloudwalking?”
“Agent Logos can disprove quite a lot of things.”
"Pinkie, it's such a lovely-- oh no! Ninjas!"
"We have reason to believe you are Agent Logos! Prepare to die!"
"And the plural of ninja is ninja, not ninjas, baka!"
“When the minotaurs developed steel before us, was that unfair? When the Homin developed the atomic bomb, was that unfair? Twilight's theories are weapons. That is all. Now, help me with this treaty for the dragons.”
And now, the conclusion.
With the help of the theories of Agent Logos, Equestria had expanded its borders and entered a new age of wealth and power. Trading increased between far-off nations, resulting in a technological boom. Despite the tenseness of the political atmosphere, many of the citizens of these foreign nations were glad to intermingle with the ponies of Equestria. Equestria had taken control of every continent, every island on the entire planet.
All, that is, except for one.
"I don't believe I heard correctly," said Celestia. "Did you say you were refusing to accept our treaty?"
"That's right," said Thorn, the leader of the Halkans. "We will not be swayed by your threats. We Halkans have lived on this island for millenia upon millenia, before even the first--"
"That's great and all, but we are literally about to wipe you out of existence." Luna groaned and gestured to the treaty. "This treaty is not horrid, good Thorn. You will maintain local sovereignty, you will hold on to 95% of your natural resources, and you will be free to live anywhere within the Equestrian Principality."
"Nevertheless, it is that 5% on which we refuse to budge," said Thorn again. "We will not give up control of our island."
"Very well." Celestia rolled up the treaty and returned it to the tube. "I would tell you to prepare for destruction, but when we're through, you won't even be a memory."
As they left the meeting room, Luna looked to Celestia uncertainly. "Are you really going to go through with this?"
"A rule for politics, and in all things: never point a loaded gun at someone unless you intend to fire it." That phrase wouldn't have made much sense before they'd met the Kazkiryu and discovered gunpowder, but that was besides the point. "I gave them a chance." Once they were both out at the chariot, Celestia nodded to one of her pegasus guards. "Send the order to Agent Logos."
The message went out over every television station in Equestria. "Today is a momentous day in history. Today, by the power of me, Luna, and Agent Logos, we have successfully unified the entire planet under one flag! We are now Equestria, the Global Principality!"
Everypony in the bar cheered, save for Twilight. As Celestia went on explaining how today would be known as Unification Day, how the flag would change to account for this incredible achievement, and various other bureaucratic minutiae, Twilight unfolded a piece of paper in one of her pockets. It bore a picture of the Honorable High Holy Thorn, an ugly red X over his head, and the word "TERMINATE" written beneath it in what looked disconcertingly like blood. She had done it. She was to blame. A million miles away, safe in her chamber in Canterlot, she had written a proof that had not just killed him, but had erased him utterly from the universe. No amount of speeches or celebrations could make her feel better about it. What she had done was wrong.
...It was wrong. And something had to be done.
She made her excuses to her friends, got into her car, and drove home. Once home, she locked herself into her room, turned off all the lights save for a single overhead lamp, and clicked a ballpoint pen into action. She swept everything off of her desk and set a stack of papers before her. With shaking hooves, she put words to the page. "Abstract: In this paper, I will attempt to prove that Princess Celestia and Princess Luna are impossible."
"Thank you all for coming," said Celestia. "This meeting of the world leaders will be valuable to help us construct our new nation."
Celestia, Luna, Cadance, and Twilight were all sitting up front before everyone, like the empresses that they were. This meeting had been called on the heels of the Unification Day celebrations, and every leader seemed to be in a good mood. Or maybe they were just doing a good job of hiding their hangovers from the other leaders. In any case, they were all talking amongst themselves and not giving much notice to Twilight, who pulled out a single sheet of paper from one of her saddlebags. It was the very end of her proof, not quite complete, but ready to fired at a moment's notice. Cadance, who was sitting next to her, leaned over and asked, "What is that, exactly?"
"Just some notes," Twilight said. She scribbled idly on the margins before subtly moving to the main body of the paper and continuing with the proof. If Celestia or Luna were aware of what was going on, they didn't seem to notice. Once the proof was complete, however, Twilight leaned over to Cadance and said, "You know, I've just thought of something. Where did Celestia and Luna come from?"
"I... don't understand your question," said Cadance. "They're timeless beings, aren't they? They were born with the sun and moon."
"But that doesn't make any sense. Ponies aren't just born out of the ether. What I'm saying is--"
"No... no, you mustn't..." Cadance said, her eyes wide.
"They're impossible," Twilight concluded.
The air resonated with a massive thunderclap. One, two, and then it felt as though the fabric of the universe was dissolving. Celestia and Luna looked up from their conversation, then turned to their forehooves. To their horror, the ends of their hooves were unraveling into nothingness. The room shook as though in an earthquake, and the very color in the world seemed to drain. Celestia stared at Twilight, and her eyes seemed to say, "How could you have done this?" Then they, too, unraveled, along with her face, horn, and mane. Celestia and Luna were gone.
Twilight looked at her own hooves. This she had wrought... and it was good. It was deserved punishment. Suddenly, she understood the power she wielded, and it went to her head like a really strong liquor. She pushed her chair to the side and stepped up to where the two Princesses had been before. "Hello, everyone," she said. "You all know me as Twilight Sparkle, but you also know me by another name. I am Agent Logos, and I am untouchable."
The crowd broke out into an uproar, but Twilight -- no, Agent Logos -- grinned and went on. "It seems that, with my latest proof, I've created a power vacuum. Luckily, since I'm a Princess, I'm happy to fill it. And I believe you all know the punishment if you do not accept my sovereignty." She gestured widely with her hooves and wings. "To hurt me is impossible. To rebel against me is impossible. To dare to think one word counter to my power is impossible. Such shall it be in my new dominion. Now, go back to your little holes and await my further judgment."
The leaders shouted and cried and feared, but there was nothing they could do. They had seen what power Logos wielded: omnipotent, unavoidable, and swift. Only Cadance spoke against her. "Please, Twilight. You must have mercy. This is insanity!"
Logos' stare bore holes into Cadance. But then she laughed. "I think not. You see... mercy is impossible."
“It seems the situation is critical,” said Celestia. “We have no choice but to deploy… Honeycrisp.”
“Your Majesty, are you sure?” the messenger pony replied.
“Of course I'm sure!” said Celestia. “This is a standard operation for them. I doubt anything will go wrong.”
All of Ponyville had gathered around the library to excoriate Twilight and get her to undo whatever freaky-weird magic had messed up their bodies and their magic. While the rest of the mane 6 held the door back and kept the rioters at bay, Pinkie asked, “Don't you think somepony ought to be coming to help us right about now?”
Her Pinkie Sense may have been kaput, but her sense of comedic timing was still as hardy as ever. At that moment, a huge yellow-green wave of light wafted over the crowd, and suddenly there was a strange group of six ponies right at Twilight's door. The tallest pony was, to everypony's shock, an alicorn; she regally lowered her head and pointed her horn at the door, which faded into a barrier the same color as her magic. This allowed her and her associates entrance into the library.
The first thing Applejack noticed was the alicorn's particular cutie mark. “Ye've got an apple!” she said. “Are ye one of ours?”
“Fer sure!” said the alicorn. “Name's Honeycrisp. What's yours?”
“Applejack,” she said, “and these're my friends. But we're in a bit of a bind right now, so I hope you don't mind if'n we spare the introductions for the moment.”
“Not at all. That's why we're here, after all.” Honeycrisp looked about, but nothing seemed out of sorts. “What seems to be the problem's got all these ponies here knockin' down yer door?”
“Mah friend Twilight, she's the brown'n over there—only she ain't normally brown, normally she's a unicorn—sorry, it's a right mess.”
“No, I'm followin',” Honeycrisp said.
“She decided she thought she could prove magic is impossible, only she did, ye see, and a whole buncha other things, too. So we need ye to un-prove what she came up with, ya'll get me?”
“Disprove, and yep, I get ya.” Honeycrisp gathered her team and put their heads together. “For a magic and physiology probl'm, I'm thinkin' Speedy and Wind Chill, with Sweet Treat on assist. We good?”
“Sure, sure!” said a thin, yellow-and-pink unicorn next to Honeycrisp.
“Mm,” added a white-grey pegasus on the other side of the huddle.
“Aand… break!” Honeycrisp summoned up a pair of slate tablets and chalk and handed them to the two ponies who had answered. The rest of the team began to mill about, checking out the books and other objects lying about the library floor.
“What was that 'bout magic and phys'ogn'my?” Applejack asked.
“Physiology. If'n it's yer body ya'll need t'know more about, ain't nobody knows more about it than Speedy. She's our resident expert on physics, equine anatomy, and health.”
“'Cept Sweet Treat. She's the foody of the group,” the yellow-and-pink unicorn (who must have been Speedy) added. “You got any food questions here?”
“Cupcakes!” Pinkie shouted. “She disproved that ponies can eat cupcakes!” She actually started tearing up just thinking about it.
“Well,” said a willowy pegasus over in the cookbook section, “as it turns out, cupcakes are a great source of thaumodigestive enzyme. Any baked good, actually. It's the yeast that gives it off during anaerobic oxidation.”
“I… didn't know that,” Twilight replied. “I guess eating cupcakes is possible for ponies. But I'm still confused about a lot of things!”
“That's why we're here,” Honeycrisp said with a smile. “So why don't ya'll tell us more about the things you need to know?”
“But… I know all sorts of things...”
“General things, maybe,” the white-grey pegasus snipped. “Not expert knowledge like us.”
“Wind Chill, ain't no reason to be fussin' up an attitude, y'hear? She was just honestly confused.”
“Oh, mes amies, no need to argue!” This came from the red unicorn with colored splotches all over her mane and tail. “It eez a be-you-tiful day today, and we're saving the world. We should have fun, non, Wind Chill?”
“I guess you're right, Brush,” Wind Chill said. She blushed and looked out of a window.
“And who is this fetching figure?” Rarity asked. “She seems like a pony of fine taste.”
“Only the inestimable Brush Stroke, mad'moiselle, Team Honeycrisp's resident ingenue concerning all things art and style!” She caught up one of Rarity's hooves and gave it a delicate kiss. “And I take it you are one of my fellow artistes, hmm?”
“Oh-hoh-hoh, do go on.”
“Ahem!” said Rainbow Dash. “Less flirting, more world-saving.”
“Right, of course.” Honeycrisp returned to the task at hand. “So what was it you had trouble with? Magic, you said?”
“Mm-hmm. How does magic work? Like, how is Wind Chill still flying up there when I disproved flight yesterday?”
“Look, I'm chief weatherpony over in Bluegrass Fen, and I know everything there is to know about flight and meteorology. If there was something impossible, I would have proved it by now.”
“And for your information, it's not hard. Pegasus flight involves thaumic wind currents lowering the pressure around their bodies. It's Berneighli's Principle on a much more developed scale.”
“Your house isn't a real tree.”
“Huh?” The last of Honeycrisp's team had snuck next to Twilight while she wasn't looking: a forest-green earth pony with a flat-looking mane.
“Your house. It's not a real tree. It has thaumoxylem and thaumofloem instead of regular xylem and floem in real trees. This one's a magical construct.”
“Thank you, Evergreen,” said Speedy. She pushed the earth pony off to the side and grimaced. “The girl loves trees. Don't get her started!”
“Thaumoxylem, thaumic wind currents, thaumodigestive… It all comes back to magic!” Twilight shouted. “How does magic work?”
“And that'd be my cue,” said Honeycrisp. “Ah studied magic for eight whole years to get mah princess status. Believe me, I know what you're lookin' for.”
“Okay… how does magic work? It should be impossible, coming just from a unicorn's horn.”
“Ah, that'd be my First Law of Magic. That's what got me mah wings 'n horn.” She magicked up a piece of paper with a complex set of mathematical workings on it.
Twilight snatched the paper up in her hooves, ignoring for the moment the “impossible” magical spell she'd witnessed. For a few tense moments, she scanned each and every word. Once she was done, she grasped her head and staggered back. “It's so obvious, looking at it like that.”
“Right?” Honeycrisp replied. “Ah was so shocked Ah figured that'n out. The next two came after.” She brought another two sets of parchment, which Twilight grabbed and read as quickly as she had the other two. With each passing second, another wave of magic pulsed out from her, and the ponies outside shouted more approvingly.
While Twilight was reading, Honeycrisp continued, “I'm thinkin' 'bout putting all my discov'ries together 'n publishin' a book on all of it. The Foundations 'f Magic, I'll call it.”
“You'll have to use a nom de plume, of course,” Brush Stroke reminded her. “Sa Majesté Celestia would expect it, I believe. Might I suggest Color Light again?”
“Whoa, whoa!” Twilight swung her hooves back and forth. “First off, you know Princess Celestia? Second, you're Color Light?”
“'Course we know Princess Celestia!” said Speedy. “We work for her! And she's been fantastic for work on alicorn anatomy.”
“And we're all Color Light,” said Wind Chill. “We use it for all of our publications.”
“Why?” asked Rarity. “And why haven't we heard of you before? Surely another alicorn princess would be making some waves.”
Evergreen glanced over to Honeycrisp. “Should we tell them?”
“Don't see why not. Wind Chill already said where we're from. I figure Twilight's pretty bright; she could put together the rest of the pieces.” Honeycrisp called all of her team together, where they stood in what appeared to be a choreographed pose. “We are the Bearers of the Elements of Knowledge, and we work over in Bluegrass Fen, northwest 'f here.”
“The Elements of Knowledge?” Fluttershy asked, confused. “Like the Elements of Harmony?”
“Mm-hmm. We go on missions, saving the world using our brains and expertise.”
“But… but that's our job!” Twilight moaned.
“Did you really think you were saving all of Equestria all by yourself?!” Wind Chill asked.
“Well, kinda,” Applejack answered.
“Nope!” said Speedy. “In fact, we're not the only other team out there! We're the only ones with the knowledge of all the Equestrian teams!”
“H...How many are there?” Fluttershy asked.
“By our count… 'bout 20,” said Honeycrisp.
“Twenty!?” Rainbow Dash said. “How have we never heard of the others?”
“It's a nice thing, I think,” Sweet Treat said. “Princess Celestia wants us to feel special, so she lets the teams think they're the only heroes in Equestria.”
“Woulda thought you'd'a met the ponies with the Elements of Business over in Manehattan during yer friendship problem, though,” Honeycrisp added. “Funny thing, that.”
“We were working on a charity production, if you must know,” said Rarity.
“Ah, of course, ze Midsummer Theater Revival,” said Brush Stroke. “Such a piece magnifique, if I do say so myself.”
“Right,” said Honeycrisp. “In any case, that's 'bout the long 'n the short of it. Anything you wanna add, Evergreen?”
“I also like plants and fungus too,” Evergreen said. “Speedy didn't mention that. She just said trees.”
“Glad to get that cleared up,” Honeycrisp said. “Ya'll sure 'n stable now?”
“I… I think so,” Twilight replied. “Your three laws should get me started, at least.”
“How did you six keep from getting hit by Twilight's disproving power, though?” Rarity asked. “It affected everypony else who came near it.”
“We know why magic is possible, so her belief that magic is impossible didn't affect us,” Speedy said. “Simple as that.”
“Yup, reckon that's the case,” said Honeycrisp. “Now if we're square, Ah'm thinkin' we're gonna head on home.”
“Yes, you simply must stay a little longer,” said Rarity. “We represent the Elements of Harmony, and our specialty is friendship. It simply would not do to let you all leave without sharing our hospitality.”
“Please?” Fluttershy said.
“Oh, all right,” said Honeycrisp. “But we ain't stayin' long. Wind Chill's workin' on a sleet experiment back at home, and she's gotta get back 'fore the next step.”
“Hey, I may not be a fancy-shmancy scientist like you,” said Rainbow Dash, “but I am captain of the weather team here at Ponyville. Maybe you could share some of your ideas with me?”
“...Sure, I guess,” said Wind Chill. The two of them paired off and headed out of the library.
“...I like trees. And plants. And fungus… sometimes,” said Fluttershy.
“Have you heard of the Cordyceps fungus? It controls animals' brains.”
“Oh no! That sounds scary!” Fluttershy replied. “Is there a cure?”
“If you mix up a potion with spider silk and white ash bark, you can turn the animal back to normal.”
“Oh, that's good.” They continued talking as they too walked out of the library.
“Now, I believe I haven't told you yet about my work,” Rarity said to Brush Stroke. “I'm a dressmaker, you see. One of the most famous in Canterlot!”
“Quelle grand!” said Brush Stroke. “Your dresses must make any mare feel like the belle of the ball!”
“Oh, yes. Let me tell you about the time I made a dress for the Sapphire Shores!”
As they left the library hoof in hoof, Pinkie and Applejack locked eyes. Then AJ shouted, “Ah call the fitness lady!”
“Well, I call the food lady!” And they raced over to their respective Bearers of Knowledge and hustled them out of the library.
That left Twilight and Honeycrisp. All Twilight could seem to say was, “...Thank you.”
“Mah pleasure,” Honeycrisp replied. “Let's see if'n we can catch up with the others and hear what they're talkin' bout.”
“Sure.” And together, they headed out of the library to spend the day.
...But throughout all of this, something was burning deep inside of Twilight. It wasn't right. She bore the Element of Magic. She was supposed to be the best there was at magic. And yet here, meeting Honeycrisp, she realized just how woefully behind she was in the craft. She had a long, long way to go before she was even close to Honeycrisp's level.
“Actually, I just need to do something really quick in the library. Go catch up with Rainbow Dash and tell them I said to go to the Hay Burger for lunch.”
“The Hay Burger for Lunch, got it!” Honeycrisp waved goodbye as Twilight slipped into the library once again. Then she walked away without a second thought.
“I thought you said she was coming.”
“Well… she didn't say exactly,” said Honeycrisp. “She just said she was gonna go do an errand in the lib'ry, and to come here to meet.”
They'd arrived at the Hay Burger over half an hour ago. They'd eaten the burgers, and a couple of the others were nursing the dregs from their milkshakes while they waited for Twilight to get there.
“Speedy, why don't you run over to the library and see what's keeping her?” Wind Chill asked.
“Hey, I'm the fastest pony in Ponyville.”
“Actually, I bet that's me now, considering I'm in Ponyville,” Speedy said with a smirk.
“Oh, you are so on! Race you there!”
“You got it!” The two of them bolted out the door: Rainbow Dash flapping her wings as fast as she could, and Speedy coated in a pale yellow magical spell that seemed to increase her speed severalfold. While the others sat in the restaurant, they heard the massive *crack* *boom!* of the Sonic Rainboom, followed by the lesser-but-still-impressive *crash!* of Speedy hitting Mach 1.
After a few seconds, the two of them exploded through one of the walls, Rainbow Dash carrying a small letter and Speedy holding Twilight's princess crown. “She's gone!” cried Rainbow Dash.
“And she left this letter!” Speedy added.
“What does it say?” the others asked.
Speedy picked it up and began to read.
Thank you so much for being such good friends to me. Unfortunately, I've learned from Honeycrisp and her friends that I have a lot to learn before I can consider myself a princess of magic. It's been wonderful, learning the magic of friendship from all of you, but my cutie mark is calling me to something much more important. I will not rest until I've achieved something as great as Honeycrisp's three laws.”
“They ain't that great,” Honeycrisp muttered. “Just a couple proofs, is all.”
“If Twilight thinks they were great, they were,” said Rarity. “But is that the end of the letter?”
“Not yet,” said Speedy. “Here's the rest.
“So it is with a heavy heart that I regret to inform you that I will be temporarily retiring as the Princess of Friendship until such a time as I have completed my studies. I love you all and wish you the best,
Twilight Sparkle Bearer of the Element of Magic
P.S. Fluttershy, please take care of Spike while I'm gone. He's very independent, but he needs an adult presence to keep him on task. So just check up on him every couple days, will you? Thank you!”
“That's all it says,” Speedy concluded.
“The poor fool!” said Honeycrisp. “What was she thinking?”
"It seems the situation is critical. We have no choice but to deploy... Honeycrisp."
"Ye've got an apple! Are ye one of ours?"
"Fer sure! Name's Honeycrisp."
“Well, as it turns out, cupcakes are a great source of thaumodigestive enzyme. Any baked good, actually. It's the yeast that gives it off during anaerobic oxidation.”
"...Really? 'Thaumodigestive?' What lazy hack came up with that?"
"It's an alternative universe. It's theoretically possible."
"It's passing the buck, is what it is."
"And here's my team: Me, Speedy, Wind Chill, Brush Stroke, Sweet Treat, and Evergreen."
"Wait, are you guys clones of us? Because you have personalities that are really similar to us."
"Fusions, actually. There were some hints last chapter saying which was which."
"So two are like me, two are like Applejack..."
"And so on and so on, right."
"You... you blew up my house!"
"Eh, it was gonna blow up anyway."
"It's been three seasons. Let it go."
"We've got to find her! Ponyville needs her!"
"Don't worry! With 11 of us, I'm sure we can find her and bring her back safe and sound! Who's with me?”
And now, the conclusion...
The search for Twilight Sparkle had been difficult at first. She'd left very little clues as to her potential location. It was almost as if she'd intentionally been vague so they wouldn't follow her and try to stop her! In any case, it had taken the combined intelligence of all 11 Bearers to figure out that she had traveled to Trotonto, and by then, they were over a day behind Twilight. Once they arrived, they split up and canvassed the area, promising to reconvene at the main square in two hours.
The Bearers of Harmony were much less traveled than those of Knowledge, so this was a special occasion. Their idea of "looking everywhere" may have involved a lot more tourist-y things than might be wise. After two hours, they came back, Fluttershy wearing a headband shaped like the Stallion Tower and Applejack and Rainbow Dash wearing baseball caps with the logo of a local brewery.
Honeycrisp was not amused. "All right, y'all. Did any'f ya find a place where Twilight might be?"
The Bearers of Knowledge gave their reports. "Didn't see her at the gardens." "Thought she might have gone by the ports, but there wasn't any evidence." "We checked the university--no sign of her." "Nothing up in the cloudline."
Honeycrisp sighed. "All right. Harmony team?"
Wordlessly, they all pointed in the same direction. Honeycrisp looked over that way--they were all pointing straight at the Trotonto Reference Library. She nodded slowly. "Eeyup. Shoulda figgered."
Pinkie drank a slug from the soda she'd purchased, then asked, "Well, what are we standing around here for? Let's go!"
Once at the library, the team faced a new problem: where Twilight was studying here. The Bearers of Knowledge began to bicker over which topic she might be focusing on. Honeycrisp wanted to focus on theoretical magic, but Sweet Treat thought Twilight might have been the most intrigued by thaumodigestive enzymes, and would have gone to the section on microbiology. But that got Wind Chill and Speedy arguing for anatomy and pegasus aerodynamics, while Evergreen argued for environmental sciences and Brush Stroke thought they were in the wrong place altogether and wanted to check the museum.
After a minute of this, Rarity suddenly interrupted them. "Darlings! We know where Twilight is. She's in the group study rooms downstairs."
"What?" asked Honeycrisp. "What makes you think that?"
"We asked the librarian," said Fluttershy.
The Bearers of Knowledge simultaneously facehoofed. Honeycrisp sighed and motioned with her hoof. "Very well. Let's go."
They made their way to the staircase, which led down into the basement. When they reached the door, Wind Chill stopped them. "Okay, you six. What trick are you going to use this time? Gonna reveal a secret call you use that she always responds to? Maybe recognize which room she's in by smell? What's the plan?"
Rainbow Dash peeked in the door, then began laughing her head off. Wind Chill got even angrier. "What? What's your secret?"
"Just... just look!"
They opened up the door, and down the hallway were over a dozen doors to the study rooms. Each was identical to the last... except for one about two-thirds of the way down. An entire rainbow of eldritch light was beaming out underneath the closed door.
"Don't take a genius to figure that one out," said Applejack.
"Fine, fine, I get it," said Wind Chill. "Let's go and save your friend's butt already."
They raced to the study room and opened the door to reveal what Twilight was doing. It didn't look good. She was hovering three feet up in the air, surrounded by black-green books belching dark magic out and around them, while a giant portal swirled in front of her, a single clawed hand reaching through.
Like I said, it didn't look good.
"What are you doing?!" Honeycrisp called out to her.
"I'm learning about magic! What does it look like?" Twilight replied.
"Looks like you're trying to use dark magic to summon a demon!"
"No, I'm..." Twilight blinked for a moment, then looked around herself. "Huh. Yeah, that's exactly what I'm doing."
"Don't think that's a good idea, pardner!"
Twilight thought about that for a bit. "No, it's not really, but I don't have a choice! I have to learn about magic, something nopony has ever learned, or else I'm just a big fraud!"
"You do know about magic! The magic of friendship!"
Twilight's horn suddenly glowed, and then all the books closed and the portal fizzled, leaving only the echoes of the demon's howling. "Look, Honeycrisp, we both know 'friendship' isn't really magic. There's magic powered by friendship, which, whoop-de-doo, but that's not understanding magic, it's just taking advantage of a quirk of one particular set of magical artifacts. The only reason I'm the leader of my little friendship group is because I'm the outsider different enough to hold them all together, like the particle of smoke in a drop of rain. I'm not special, I'm not any good at magic--I just happened to be at the right place in the right time. If I really want a claim to Magic like my Element says, I need to have the wide knowledge base about magic you have. And that means knowing something about magic nopony else knows, which means transforming grimoires of dark magic into their original forms, which means getting accidentally possessed by them and trying to summon their grim master! What's so hard to understand about that?"
Honeycrisp paused for a beat. "So yer just jealous that you didn't get picked fer an Element of Knowledge."
"I would have been a shoo-in for chemistry and alchemy! It's not fair!"
"Easy, easy," said Speedy. "You just said yourself that's not how it works."
"We were all brought together one way or another. Pure coincidence, really," said Wind Chill.
"We have our place in the world, and you have yours," said Sweet Treat.
"And, 'sides, that thing 'bout smoke and rain? That sounds like a real insight into friendship."
"Zis is exactly how Honeycrisp et nous came together! She came to us exactly when we needed her, and she made us a team!"
Twilight sniffed and wiped her snout. "R-really? That idea was actually useful?"
"Sure! You may not think your studies into friendship are meaningful, but that's far from the case!"
"Friendship is one of the most important parts of our lives as ponies. Shoot, I wish there were more ponies researching friendship!"
"And all the lessons you've learned... they're not obvious."
"All the lost and lonely ponies out there... they need your research."
"And your great thesis? The one that earned you your wings?"
"It's the most fundamental concept of friendship, but it's the hardest to accept."
Honeycrisp stepped forward. "We can't do it alone. We're all incomplete, each in our own way, and we need each other to fill in the gaps. If we open up our hearts to each other, nothin's impossible. And that? That's real magic."
As they were speaking, a small pink heart began to float in the center of the air. It grew bigger and bigger until it encompassed the whole room. Then, at Honeycrisp's last word, it expanded beyond the walls of the study room, flooding the whole library with the Fire of Friendship. When it finally went away, they looked in awe at each other. They'd each turned into astonishingly unique and collectible forms, the kind that, if this were actually canon and not a fanfiction, would be perfect special edition toys for kids to collect. (New main cast, plus both forms of the Bearers of Knowledge! 18 different models*! Gotta find 'em all!)
Twilight looked down at the books around her. "...Did the Fire of Friendship just turn all of these dark magic grimoires into normal books?"
Honeycrisp touched one of them. "Sure looks like it."
"Oops. Those were, uh, really valuable historical artifacts. The librarians are gonna kill me."
Celestia stood before Twilight. "Well... apparently you are disproving the nature of reality."
"No, ya think?" Rainbow Dash said.
"This will be a very delicate process, so be very quiet." She pulled out a large, thick book from her pack, then slowly lifted it over her head towards Twilight. She swung it at Twilight, who dodged out of the way at the last moment.
"What the hay are you doing, Princess?" she asked.
"Please don't fight, Twilight. I'm confident this will work."
"Why not just tell me what you're doing--aaah!" Celestia swung at her again, and she decided to just run away entirely.
They Benny Hill-ed like that for a while until finally, Twilight, who was a little overweight and a lot out of shape, gave up and just took the hit. Although as it turned out, Celestia didn't need to hit her so much as move the book right next to her. When the book swept by her, it picked up an ugly green-black aura and changed its cover to reflect that color. It was a decidedly disturbing-looking thing.
"It is as I feared," Celestia said. "You were infected by a powerful dark magic. Whatever you theorized, that manifested into reality. I believe it is called... 'Theorization Manifestation.' Yes, that should be right, considering what I just said."
"That wouldn't be related to 'Inspiration Manifestation,' would it?" asked Rarity.
"Why, yes. How perceptive," Celestia replied.
"...Was that sarcastic?"
"In any case," Celestia said, covering her lack of an answer with a cough, "I will store this in the Royal Archives to keep it safe from prying eyes."
"Does that mean... we can go home?" one of the nearby ex-pegasi from Cloudsdale asked.
"Yes, certainly. All of Twilight's changes should be undoing themselves as we speak. You should find yourself right as rain in no time."
As the crowds all headed out, Twilight had one last question. "So... wait. How does magic work?"
Celestia only smiled. "I believe that is a story for another time."