A Friend In Need

by sopchoppy

First published

Something has happened and Twilight finds herself in a strange and dark new world. The Bipeds here have strange magic, advanced technology, and a lot of problems. She needs a few friends, and they just might need her. WORM crossover.

Something has happened and Twilight finds herself in a strange and dark new world. The Bipeds here have strange magic, advanced technology, and a lot of problems. She needs a few friends, and they just might need her. WORM crossover. Deadpan29 has created some great supplementary material that is canon to the story.


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Warning - spoilers for Worm throughout this story, you might want to check it out before reading further.

The last thing Twilight remembered was the world going white. Something about elements, about a moon, but it was all scattered, fuzzy.

Something went wrong, she thought as she tried to keep herself from hyperventilating. Princess Ce…Celes….Princess Celestia!

She let out a breath of relief as the name finally came to her. Princess Celestia, I have to help her…do something about a moon or a nightmare…argh why can’t I remember?! Okay, don’t panic, don’t panic - Organize! Princess Celestia is counting on you.

Taking a deep breath Twilight looked around herself and found a broken piece of wood. A light purple glow surrounded the wood for a few moments before it popped and was replaced by possibly the most important things one could have in a emergency: a scroll, quill, and a bottle of ink. Twilight let out a breath of relief and started her checklist.


1.) Create checklist
2.) Stay Calm
3.) Check for injuries
4.) Determine current location
5.) Find Princess Celestia
6.) Help Princess Celestia
7.) Avoid being sent back to magic kindergarten

With a satisfied nod she checked off the first item, and with some hesitation checked off the second. Looking over herself she didn’t notice any injuries besides her obvious memory problems and checked that item off as well. Her mood improving with each item that got one of those oh so satisfying checks next to it, she rolled the parchment up and stuffed it and the other supplies in her saddle bag.

Now to Determine my location.

Twilight looked around and determined quickly that wherever she was, it was nowhere she had ever been, or at least could remember being. It looked like a someone had taken the port area of Manehatten and decided it would look better with no ponies and about 30 years of dirt thrown on top of it.

Did I time travel?!

Twilight’s heart started to speed up at the thought before she reigned it in.

I can’t jump to any conclusions, I need more facts.

Looking closer she quickly discarded the idea that she had time traveled to some grim post-apocalyptic Manehatten. While roughly similar, the architecture was different and…strange somehow…the proportions were wrong. All the windows and doors looked about a third too tall, and maybe not quite as wide as they should be for their height. More oddities started to make themselves apparent as she looked.

Why are the streets so wi-

The thought cut off as she glanced upwards and stared in shock at the sky. Twilight had studied the stars for most of her life, and while she wouldn’t call herself an astronomer she knew enough. They were dim and hard to see against the light of the city, but those weren’t Equestria’s stars.

She didn’t know how long it took her to calm down again, but putting a big star next to item number 4 on her checklist had helped. Getting her hooves back under her she set off down the abandoned street in the direction that seemed to be casting the most light pollution. She noticed some signs that the area wasn't completely abandoned. Fresh garbage in an alley, a stray dog skittering around a corner, but nothing she saw indicated that this was an area where she would find help.

If she felt a little bad for labeling the area without first talking to anypony that lived here, that guilt disappeared when she heard the scream. It startled her bad enough that she teleported herself to the roof of the nearest building before she fully realized what she was doing. More screams followed and after getting her bearings, she turned in the direction the panicked yelling. Bursts of fire were reaching over the rooftops from a few streets over.

I have no idea what is going on, but it sounds like Somepony needs help!

Another teleport brought her to the roof closest to where she had seen the fire and her ideas of helping took a momentary back seat to shock. Dozens of strange bipedal creatures were yelling and running around in panic while the largest one threw flames from its forelimbs into the sky. As intimidating as the large biped was it didn’t seem like the others were running from him specifically. They looked frantic, running in circles and slapping themselves as if they were being attacked by an unseen opponent.

Her shock induced observation was derailed when the big biped suddenly exploded. What emerged from the explosion was a monstrous version of the fleeing bipeds, it was on fire, and it was looking directly at her. The flaming creature leaped directly towards her and Twilight was briefly terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.

I wouldn’t have thought their build would enable such a leap, was the unicorn’s first somewhat unhelpful thought. Just before the frightening visage descended on her she winked out of existence and promptly collided with something as she reappeared on top of the building across from where she had been.

“Oppf!” Twilight grunted as her hooves went flying and her legs got tangled with what was definitely a someone rather than a something. An inarticulate shout of rage echoed from the building across the street as the creature sent a jet of flame over the the roof she had just left. Closer at hand she finally freed herself from whoever she had gotten entangled with and got her first good look at them. It was another one of the bipeds, scrambling backwards away from her. This one was shorter, more slight and was wearing a mask that made Twilight think of a beetle.

“!#$!@#$%^#$%,” the biped said in what sounded like panic. Twilight felt what seemed like an unusual number of flying bugs land on her back, but put the thought aside for something more important.

Oh, I know just the spell for this! Distracted from mortal peril by the opportunity to try a spell she had studied. Lets see, Starswirl’s polyglotic spell. Closing her eyes in concentration she lit her horn and her whole body glowed for a second before she opened her eyes again. She noticed that the shorter biped had backed further away from her and was glancing nervously between Twilight and the burning fire of rage that had apparently seen the light from Twilight’s spell and was leaping down to the street.

“Hi, I’m Twilight Sparkle, um, I’m kind of lost, so I hope you’re friendly. Since you haven’t lit yourself on fire and tried to kill me yet.” Twilight glanced at the flaming figure that seemed to be preparing to leap onto their rooftop. “Maybe we could run and you could tell me where I am? Getting immolated by a monster is not on my checklist for tonight.” Twilight suppressed what felt like a hysterical laugh that threatened to escape her throat at the end of that sentence.

“I’m Ta.., um, never mind, we can’t outrun him.” She said as she reached behind her and her hand came back with a small metal tube while she also backed away from the edge closest to the monster. “If you have anything besides that teleportation power, now would probably be the time to use it.”

Twilight trotted quickly to stand beside Ta just as the monster, still on fire, crawled over the lip. Deciding that a creature that wasn’t harmed by being actively on fire for a few minutes wouldn’t likely suffer from a fall, she charged her horn and shot a blast of magic at it just as it released its hands and stood up. The blast knocked it off balance and it toppled backwards back off the roof.

“That…okay that works.” Ta said as another scream of rage, sounding even more monstrous than before sounded from the street. “Um..”

Before Twilight could respond a huge beast landed on their roof, looked at them quickly and then leaped to the street below snarling. Before she could process that, two more beasts, these with riders, landed on the roof. Four more of the bipeds slid off of the beasts, and spread out facing Twilight and Ta.

“Well you really saved us some trou…” The tallest one of the new group started to speak before his masked face turned towards Twilight and she flinched at the stylized skull that was painted on it. “Okay that’s…different, so not just bugs, is it a projection? Kind of cutesy for a villain” Twilight didn’t quite understand the question, but she got the tone. A little indignation surfaced from underneath the confusion, fear, and terror that she had been feeling since she woke up.

“No, it’s not a projection.” Another of the new bipeds, a shorter slighter one whose tone of voice and build was similar to Ta’s. Twilight decided to assume those traits correlated to the female gender of this species, she made a mental note to double check that assumption later. The one that had spoken looked at Twilight with an intensity that was hard to describe.

“I don’t know exactly what you are talking about, but I’m Twilight Sparkle. I’m lost, I was almost killed by an enraged monster, and I am most certainly not a projection or illusion or whatever. I just ran into Ta after that thing down there tried to burn us to death.” A scroll, quill and inkwell materialized in front of her. “Now if you could please tell me what you are, because I refuse to refer to you as unknown biped throughout my notes. Can you introduce yourselves, and maybe tell me where I am and what is going on? It would be most helpful.” Heaving an audible huff of air as she finished she turned towards the bipeds, Ta having slid around closer to the newcomers as Twilight had ranted and the glow around her horn had increased.

The tall one that had spoken first cleared his throat and spoke after a moment “Well I’m Grue, that’s Tattletale,” a piercing whistle issued from the other female of the group, “that’s Bitch or Hellhound if your sensitive, and last and certainly least is Regent.”

“Fuck you Grue!” Regent retorted. Twilight was busily scribbling notes with her magic as she turned to each of them while they were introduced.

“I’m not really sure how to answer your other questions. I’m not sure I believe that I’m talking to you and this isn’t some weird power causing a hallucination.” He paused and looked towards Tattletale who shook her head quickly. “That flaming asshole down there in a world of hurt is Lung and he runs the gang in this area. I’m not sure exactly how lost you are, but you’re in the docks, Brockton Bay. Man what the hell did you guys do to him? He’s getting his ass kicked down there.”

Tattletale spoke up again. “Wasps, bees, spiders, ants, and some kind of concussive blast.” She said the last bit with a little hesitation as she glanced towards the unicorn. Twilight whirled towards Ta.

“That’s why they were going crazy!” She said with a smile as a piece of the puzzle she was missing clicked into place, then she frowned. “Wait, that’s why he was so mad, that’s why he tried to kill me, he thought I was the one doing it!” Twilight was scowling by the time she finished the sentence. Tattletale nodded at this and focused on her with that odd intensity again as she spoke.

“Um,” Ta said a little hesitantly, “yeah sorry about that. I didn’t know anyone else was around.” Twilight’s frown eased a little at that. Before Twilight could respond Tattletale head turned to the side and spoke up again.

“Heads up, time to get out of here.” Bitch nodded and whistled, the three giant dog analogs soon landed back on the roof causing the whole building to shudder.

“Want a ride?” Grue asked Ta in a way Twilight assumed was friendly, it was hard to tell with the skull helmet he was wearing. In fact now that she looked at the way they all dressed, all of them, including Ta, kind of looked…shady. “Would offer you one, but I’m not sure how that would even work. Besides I’m not sure what it would do to our image ya know?” Twilight, in fact, had no idea what he was talking about. But was in no hurry to get any closer to giant slobbering mutant dogs. Ta hesitated, but didn’t look inclined to do so either and shook her head.

Tattletale spoke again facing Ta as she mounted one of the dogs, “Hey, what’s your name, it’s not really Ta is it?”
“No, I...I haven’t picked one yet," said the girl who apparently wasn’t called Ta.

Great, now I’m going to have to go back and revise all of these notes with -Unidentified female biped that controls insects - which was unwieldily to say the least.

“Well, Bug, a cape is gonna show up here pretty soon. You did us a solid by dealing with Lung, so take my advice. Someone from the Protectorate shows up, finds two bad guys duking it out, they’re not going to let one walk away. You should get out of here.” She turned to the purple unicorn, “You…I don’t know.” This admission seemed to physically pain her, “but you look harmless enough. I don’t think you will have a problem with them.”

“Yeah I feel like I’m going to have to watch a few hours of porn just to cleanse the residual cuteness from my eyes.” The one called Regent said with a laugh. Again Twilight only had a little context to judge by, but she thought she should probably feel insulted and maybe…disturbed by that comment. With those final words the dogs leaped overhead and quickly disappeared into the unlit industrial area.

Bug, looking uncertain and a little shaken, looked at Twilight then walked over to a fire escape and started down it without another word. Twilight heard her make her way down to the street and then she was alone on the rooftop. Sounds she didn’t want to investigate still came from the street below, so she sat down with her scroll and ink in front of her.

Despite getting a few answers, now that the adrenaline was starting to work its way out of her system, she felt even more lost than when she woke up. She rolled up the parchment of notes and put it in her saddlebags, and found some debris that she could transmute into another sheet. There was really only one solution to feeling like this. Twilight started another checklist.

Twilight had written down fifty things on her checklist, all unchecked, when she was drawn out of her funk by the sound of a thunk followed quickly by a large armored biped landing on the roof. Twilight’s spirit lifted a little at the sight of him. He looked like a knight. His armor was dark blue with silver trim and he had a metal visor covering his eyes and nose. He had a close trimmed beard and stood with confidence with one hand on a large Halberd. In short he was the first of the creatures that looked…reputable. He looked at Twilight and then back over his shoulder to the scene below, then back at Twilight.

Twilight rolled up her checklist in progress and pulled out the parchment she had been using earlier.

“I’ve got notes!”

Interlude 1 - Armsmaster

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Armsmaster strode away from the parahuman holding cells at a brisk clip. Getting Lung secured and an IV-drip started that would keep him in his induced coma had certainly been the biggest priority, but he didn’t want to leave the strange new parahuman up on deck, watched only by a couple of PRT troopers, any longer than necessary. Thankfully, the security feed displaying in his visor had showed that the only thing she had done since he left her was turn to look out towards the bay.

That was both a good and bad sign in his experience. Though his software was having trouble interpreting her foreign body language and appearance, she wasn’t acting guilty and she had seemed eager to comply with all his requests to the letter. Those were all good indications that she was not a villain or leaning in that direction. On the other hand she had moved too little. Nearly all people brought to headquarters would gawk a little at the facility, glance curiously at some of the equipment or at the guards on hand. She had done none of those things. His software wasn’t feeding him anything, but it looked like shock symptoms.

As he entered the elevator that would take him back to the deck he shifted his right eye in a specific pattern. The connection rang only once before Miss Militia answered the call.

“How’d it go?” she asked and a small smile flashed across his face. When it was important, Hannah always got straight to the point. It was one of the things he liked best about her. He never had to guess her motives or rely on his social suite with her. It was a big reason he counted her among the handful of people he considered friends rather than teammates or coworkers.

“Lung is in cell p-5.”

“Congratulations Colin. So I take it the new drugs worked? Casualties?”

“A handful of non-cape ABB members needed to be taken to the hospital for burns or wasp stings, one serious.”

“Wasp stings?”

“New master, villain, engaged with Lung and fled before my arrival. I put the preliminary info on her in the database.”

“If she fled before you arrived how…Witness?”

“Yes, parahuman, possible case 53, also engaged Lung before my arrival. Signs of shock and other mental issues. She’s on deck now. I’m about to escort her to the secure visitor wing. Can you meet me in there?” Armsmaster asked as the doors opened and he stepped back outside and started approaching the outside holding area.

“Yes, I’ll be right there,” Hannah answered and closed the connection. He estimated how much time it would take for him to get within speaking distance of the new parahuman and then had his software run an analysis of whether Director Piggot would be more displeased to be woken in the middle of the night, or having not been told until morning. He made the call.

“Armsmaster,” the tired and irritated voice of the Director Piggot stated.

“Lung is in custody, two new confirmed capes. Master that was part of the reason for Lung’s appearance, villain. Bystander, likely case 53.”

“Have a briefing ready by 5 am, I’ll be there. We need to get a response plan set before news of this breaks.” The connection clicked off just as he turned the last corner and closed the last 30 feet between him and the new parahuman. He nodded to himself internally, his software had correctly estimated the length of his conversation with the Director within 2 seconds. He stepped up next to…her and observed her posture for a second before speaking in his best reassuring tone.

“Miss, I have secured the man that attacked you.” She shuddered slightly before turning her large eyes up towards him. He noticed she had been crying. “Is there something wrong?”

“I…no…maybe? The shield,” she sniffed again. “It just reminds me of someone.” She brought one of her legs up to her head and pressed a…hoof?…To it. “None of this makes sense. I’m so confused,” she finished sounding pained and exhausted.

“You’ve had a rough night, follow me inside and we can find someplace to get you something to eat and drink.” She nodded and wiped a foreleg across her eyes, visibly pulling herself together.

“Thank you, that seems like a good idea.” She hesitated a second before continuing with a small uplift in tone, “Do you have a library?”

“Not on base, there are several in the city however,” he replied as he turned around and began to walk back towards the elevator. His HUD still showing the security feed and allowing him to see her trailing slightly behind without turning his head. When the doors opened and they stepped inside she seemed interested in the glowing array of buttons but made no comment.

When they reached the secure visitor’s floor the doors opened once more and, besides a couple of half second pauses where she seemed to be examining the hallway and doors, she followed him without hesitation. When they turned the last corner before the room he had selected for her to stay in tonight Miss Militia was waiting for them.

“Armsmaster…Your description did not do Ms Twilight justice.” She turned to fully face the new parahuman. “It is a pleasure to meet you Twilight Sparkle. My name is Miss Militia. Armsmaster gave us a short summary on what happened. I apologize that you had such a introduction to our city, but thank you for your part in apprehending Lung. You have done a great service to the city.” Armsmaster noted that besides what appeared to be a blush response, ‘Twilight’ seemed to relax slightly. As he suspected. He was glad he called Hannah.

“Um, you’re welcome but it was really those other poni-people that,” ‘Twilight’ replied, and hesitated as she appeared to search for the right words, “…took care of Lung. What I did was more an accident of circumstance than anything else.” Miss Militia nodded in response and lightened her tone even further.

“You are probably ready for this night to end. We have a room set up with some food and a bed. We can talk more in the morning.”

’Twilight’ sighed and her body sagged even as she spoke. “Yes, sleep is probably a good idea, thank you.”

Armsmaster waited in the hall while Hannah showed ‘Twilight’ the room and got her settled. He worked on a few designs while he waited. Less than ten minutes later Hannah emerged and closed the door behind her quietly.

“Exhausted.” Hannah said as he closed down his schematics display and started walking, Hannah falling in beside him.


“That too. I made sure to get some food and a glass of water into her before she fell asleep. Cute.”

He considered that for a moment before nodding, he supposed ‘Twilight’ would fit that aesthetic.

“The Director has called for a 5 am briefing. She wants to develop a response plan,” he said as they neared the lifts that would take them to the personnel area.

“Makes sense, this is going to draw a reaction from every faction in the bay. Busy week ahead,” she replied, her tone serious, but also congratulatory. She knew how much this meant to him. He was both irked that he was that easily read, and glad that he did not need to hide it from her. She was his friend, she understood.

He frowned a little at the thought of all the project time he was likely to miss this week, but shook it off. Capturing Lung was worth it. Even if he had looked beaten before he arrived, it was his tranquilizers that had enabled his capture. He had proved he was able to do something entire divisions of the Protectorate had been unable to accomplish. Now they just had to contain the aftermath. Challenging, but he already had a series of contingencies planned out, it shouldn’t be a problem. When they got to the lounge Hannah dropped down onto a couch in front of a pile of folders and papers, one stack a printed copy of the initial report he had sent. Sections already highlighted or notated. He didn’t understand her need for hard copies.

“Breakfast before the meeting? Say 4:30?” Hannah asked as she picked up a yellow highlighter and picked up a large folder marked ABB. He almost declined, he had nutrient paste for a reason after all, but…he could spare the time. She might also have a few suggestions for his plans before he presented them.

“Yes, see you then.” With that Armsmaster turned and walked towards his lab. There were a few things he could work on while he was dictating his reports.


Dauntless walked in and closed the door behind him, he was the last one that was going to be able to make it. He took a seat next to Velocity who was gripping a coffee mug and looked like he was struggling to stay awake. Miss Militia sat across from them and Director Piggot sat at the head of the table. Marion May, Brockton Bay’s information officer, sat beside her. A protectorate thinker called Snap looked on tiredly from a monitor on the wall.

“As we all know each other, I’ll forego the formalities.” He nodded to everyone in the room. “At 12:20 am this morning we got a report of a possible parahuman fight involving Oni Lee and an unknown group. I was prepping my motorcycle to investigate when a second report was called in saying that Lung had been sighted in the same area. Having received prior approval to attempt to use the tranquilizers I had developed for Lung, I immediately departed in response to the second call.” He paused as he clicked a button and a map of the docks area was projected on the wall with about a block and a half highlighted red, another couple of blocks by the edge were colored yellow.

“When I arrived at the area colored in red on the map I found evidence of a wide ranging battle. Fire damage, smashed brickwork, bullet casings and several wounded ABB gang members were scattered down the street. Lung was laying here,” he used a laser pointer to indicate the location, “Suffering from a number of large bite wounds. He was conscious but delirious. I noticed signs of accelerating regeneration and quickly used my halberd to administer the tranquilizers. Within thirty seconds the visible signs of his regeneration had ceased and he fell unconscious. After securing his body and checking for any life-threatening injuries I examined the scene in more detail.”

“Do you believe your tranquilizers would be effective against other high end regenerators?” Snap asked from the monitor, looking more engaged than he had been at the start of the presentation. Armsmaster shook his head slightly before he responded.

“Not currently, they were explicitly developed for Lung. However, I do believe that the research could be adapted into a more general use. I’ll forward the notes to your office. To continue, I observed broken brickwork surrounding Lung’s fallen form and scaring on the ledge above him and deduced he had been thrown off the building. I ascended to the roof to gather more information, which is where I encountered the parahuman calling herself “Twilight Sparkle.”

He clicked a button and the map was replaced with a screen capture of his visor’s recording of last night showing the quadruped seated on the roof calmly making writing something on a piece of paper.

“My first impression, and still most likely theory is that she is a case 53. When talking with me she admitted to large holes in her memory and having no idea where she was.”

“If she remembers anything at all she would be the first.” Marion interjected.

“Yes, there are several divergences between her and the other known case 53’s, the biggest being that she claims that she was born that way and comes from either another dimension or planet where those that look like her are the dominant species. She claims to have never seen a human before last night.”

Dauntless let out a slow whistle and Velocity spoke what everyone was thinking.

“So she’s completely crazy?”

“No, she hasn’t exhibited any signs of schizophrenia or active delusions. Since my first interaction with her she has been polite and cooperative in every way. She hasn’t asserted in any way that the world she is seeing is any different from what we observe, only that the past she remembers doesn’t include it. Again, this could be some new variant of case 53’s where memory is altered or twisted beyond recognition instead of erased.”

“It's also possible that it’s her own invention to protect her from some trauma,” Snap chimed in from the monitor.

“Or she could be telling the truth. We do have examples of other dimensions coming in contact with ours,” Miss Militia responded.

“She was speaking english earlier on the video,” the thinker from Chicago stated.

“She claims her proficiency in our language stems from a “spell” she cast on herself after running into the new villain that was battling Lung. Other “spells” her notes mention include teleportation and a concussive blast.”

“Unlikely, but, well, we all have seen a lot of unlikely things in our lives. Can’t rule it out. Hmm, a blaster powerful enough to knock Lung around and teleportation?” Snap replied as he rubbed his chin as he jotted something down on his computer. “Do you have someone on site that could do a professional mental evaluation?”

Piggot leaned forward slightly causing her chair to creak and spoke up for the first time.

“Those could be useful abilities to have on team, if she wasn’t crazy. We have Dr. Yamada on hand this week, I would recommend Twilight have a visit with her and get some qualified feedback on her mental health before any other considerations. Where would you peg her age?”

“I’m unsure. Her mannerisms tend to be all over the map maturity wise. Maybe early-adolescent with a possible thinker classification in addition to her other stated powers,” Armsmaster replied. Director Piggot scowled.

“Very well, all the more reason to get her examined by Yamada.” She turned to Snap. “In the unlikely event she is an alien, how do you think we should proceed?”

“I’ll contact PRT headquarters and the state department to brief them. Their guys can start running some scenarios and drawing up a contingency plan if it does turn out to be the case that we’re dealing with first contact.”

“I agree that she should see Dr. Yamada, and before any other plans are made. Regardless of her origins, she has been through something traumatic. We should respect that in our actions,” Miss Militia interject and even Director Piggot nodded slightly at that before she cleared her throat.

“Now thats settled, lets get to the most important part of this meeting. How exactly is the city going to react, when it learns Lung has been captured.”

“My guess?” Velocity spoke finishing a sip of coffee. “Not good.”

1 - Heroes

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Twilight levitated the water glass back to the small table across the room while she telekinetically pulled the bed’s blankets up around her. She clicked the room’s light off, but left the light in the bathroom on. With a few minor adjustments to the bathroom door she was finally satisfied with the amount of illumination. She felt a little silly for needing a night-light, but the thought of a pitch dark room after the day she had was not comforting.

She distracted herself from those thoughts by using her magic to feel and trace the electric wires connected to the switches. It was clear that these humans had progressed farther in their use of electricity than ponies. Which, now that she thought about the trip back through the city to this place, was more than obvious. She resisted the urge to take more notes, she really needed to get to sleep.

At the same time she was a little afraid to. What if she woke up somewhere else again, somewhere even more strange, even scarier? She didn’t know how she got here, so she couldn’t rule it out. Her heart sped up at the thought. What if she was uncontrollably leaping from dimension to dimension, striving to put right the spell that had somehow gone wrong, and hoping each night that the next leap would be the leap home?

She hastily sat up and brought a hoof to her chest and took a deep breath and felt herself calm down a little. Then she stopped and looked down at her hoof as she stretched out her foreleg and slowly exhaled. Where?…When had…she learned that? She collapsed back onto the bed in frustration. The reminder that she couldn’t even trust her own mind right now certainly didn’t help her anxiety or her quest to get to sleep.

She lit her horn and searched deeply for any signs of lingering spell workings and relaxed a little when she didn’t find any. As far as she could tell, nothing was going to spirit her away to another dimension in her sleep. At least nothing currently active in the room with her. Argh, why did she have to qualify that. Ok, something else, think about something else.

Ignoring their technology, only for the moment she assured herself, what about the inhabitants of this, wherever it was that she had come to. Brockton Bay, the one with the scary mask had told her. They had seemed nice enough she guessed, well at least nice enough to her. The one without a name had set swarms of bugs upon a bunch of people.

If you ignored how she was using it, it was a fascinating piece of spell work. She would have needed to combine some kind of attraction charm with one for aggression and limited both to only the species she desired and excluding and others of her choosing from it. An incredibly complex working, and she had also seemed to be able to modify it on the fly, which was even more impressive. Maybe she would get a chance to speak with her again, it would at least allow her to modify her notes to include her proper name, whatever it might be.

But, hadn’t the one called Tattletale said she was a bad guy? Hadn’t they run away before the knight, Armsmaster, had shown up? She hoped this was some kind of cultural translation error. It must be of some kind, they hadn’t treated her badly. They certainly had been pretty merciless with that Lung creature, but that was understandable. But the one controlling the bugs had attacked other humans as well…She guessed she would have to wait and ask Armsmaster to explain it to her.

He had seemed…professional. Yes, she supposed that word was the best fit. Not unlike some of the Royal Guardsmen she knew. Which made sense, as that is what she figured was the closest analog to him in this world. He had tried to be, not comforting, but reassuring a few times she thought. He was a little, but she could tell he had been more focused on other things. That was okay, she understood being a knight was a duty you couldn’t put down for a single individual.

The human he had introduced her to, Miss Militia, and wasn’t that a confusing name and possibly another translation problem, had been comforting and kind. Maybe it would be better to direct her questions towards her if she was available in the morning. Twilight had a feeling she would be more patient with them than Armsmaster would be.

She was never going to get to sleep if she kept thinking about all these things! She let out another deep breath and stared at the wall. She lasted about a minute and a half before turning her magic back to the task of following the electric wires through the walls. Just until exhaustion totally overcame her.


…A true true friend helps-


Twilight woke with a start, heart racing. What? Where?!?

She stood up and got caught in the sheets, spun around, rolled off the bed, and fell in a tangled heap into the floor. Something that sounded like a growl issued from the pile of sheets before they erupted into purple flames and disintegrated around the panting unicorn. She turned towards the door as she heard someone chuckle softly. Her thoughts started to clear. Another of the knights of this place was standing there, his armor was different than Armsmaster’s but it had the same style helmet and visor.

“Well that’s one way of getting out of bed in the morning. Have to say, after looking at the security footage last night, I wasn’t expecting the cute purple unicorn to greet me by setting her room on fire in a mindless rage.” He was shoved roughly into the doorframe by a woman wearing a skin tight suit with some sort of repeating fractal diagrams covering it.

“Leave her alone Assault, no one should be subjected to you first thing in the morning.” She paused for a second, really taking Twilight in, then continued, “Wow. So are you really…Wait, no one should have to answer questions before breakfast. Follow us and we’ll lead you to the grub. Do you like bacon and eggs? I’m Battery by the way.”

Twilight screwed her face up in thought. “What’s bacon? You wouldn’t happen to have any oatmeal or daisies?” Battery’s eyes widened a fraction before hurriedly whispering something in Assault’s ear. Assault let out a choked laugh before Battery shoved him into the hallway were he walked briskly away. When Battery spoke again the cadence of her voice was a little quicker than before.

“He’s just going to go ahead and see if we have any oatmeal, we probably do. Daises we’re fresh out of I’m afraid. Why don’t you grab a shower real quick.” She gestured to the door across from the bed she had slept in last night. “That always helps me clear my head in the morning. Do you have any clothes?” She looked over Twilight once again. “We could probably adapt something that could work for you.” A befuddled look crossed Twilight’s face.

“Clothes? Are we going somewhere formal?” Twilight asked as she started towards the door to the bathroom.

“No, but…never mind, no, nowhere formal. Just breakfast and a casual discussion with some of my team mates about what happened last night, no big deal.”

Twilight sighed in relief at the words, “Okay, I’ll be just a minute,” and she closed the door behind her. Before she turned on the water she heard Battery quietly mumble from the other room.

“Bacon,” Battery sighed, “what was I thinking?”

Twilight briefly wondered about the mysterious bacon before dismissing it and stepping under the glorious warmth of the water. This was a good idea. She allowed herself a minute to simply stand there before opening her eyes and looking at the bottles on the shelf. The one labeled shampoo was hardly large enough for her mane, let alone the rest of her and her tail. Hmm, these humans did have a lot less hair overall. She supposed the tiny bottle made sense, but it didn’t help her current situation.

If these were guest quarters, maybe…She used her magic to open the bathrooms cabinet and feeling around did find a basket that held 4 more bottles. Pulling them to her, she nodded her head in satisfaction. That should be just enough. Remembering that she had somepony…someone waiting on her she quickly set to work getting the dust and dirt from last night’s adventure out of her coat.

She was once again glad that she was a unicorn when she turned off the water to realize there were only two, not very absorbent, towels in the whole bathroom. Using her telekinesis she wrung the water from her mane and tail and pushed as much of it as she could off her coat. Afterwards the towels were just enough to finish the job.

She stepped back into the bedroom and gave Battery a pleased smile.

“Thank you, I did need that. I feel a little more pony now.”

Battery returned her smile and gave a light laugh before replying. “I figured you would, it’s the only way I function after a late night patrol. Come on, chow’s this way,” she said indicating the hallway beyond.

As Twilight followed after she once again turned her eyes to the hallways and rooms that they passed. It was very…utilitarian. She wondered if that was due to this being a military barracks of some sort, or if it was a more general human aesthetic. Even for a barracks it was pretty plain.

They came to a fairly large kitchen area, the stoves and ovens readily recognizable, and Assault was there. He was wearing a pink apron with a costumed figure painted on the front that looked three sizes too small for him and setting out three large bowls of what her nose told her was oatmeal. In the center there was a large fruit bowl filled with apples. Her mouth salivated. Last night’s snack apparently a fading memory to her stomach.

“Good morning ladies, breakfast at the Casa de Assault, is served.” He gave a small bow as he finished and Twilight noticed Battery was holding her hand to her face as though in pain. Battery indicated with her other hand that she should take a seat and Twilight levitated a spoon and dug into the oatmeal with enthusiasm.

“Well that answers one question.” She heard Assault say as he sat down opposite her while Battery slipped into the space beside her.

“Does Vista know you have one of her old aprons? I thought she burned them all.”

“Oh no, I wasn’t going to let something as perfectly embarrassing as this PR fever dream fade into history. I have a whole box of them stashed away, I’m going to hand them out when she graduates to the Protectorate.”

“She’d kill you.”

“She’ll try. Should be fun.”

The conversation didn’t make a great deal of sense to Twilight, not knowing the context, but their pleasant banter was a soothing background to go with her breakfast. While she was eating she spotted a knife block on the counter and pulled a knife over to the table. Selecting an apple from the basket she began to slice it into bit sized pieces to add to the oatmeal. She smiled when she tasted the new combination. Then she noticed that Assault and Battery had stopped their discussion and were looking at her.

“Um, would you like some too?” Stupid, where were her manners? She hadn’t even thanked Assault for making the oatmeal.

“Yeah sure kid, that sounds great. Battery?”

“Yes, that would be lovely, thank you Twilight.”

“Ok,” she said happily as she pulled another knife from the block and two more apples from the basket. “Also thank you very much for the breakfast Assault, the oatmeal is very good.” Once she had reduced the apples to a uniform grouping of apple bits, she halved them and levitated them over to her companions’ bowls while floating the knives over to the sink.

“No worries, about the easiest thing to make there is. Hmm, the apples do make it better. Nice power you got there,” Assault commented between bites.

Power? She hadn’t used any more power than a standard unicorn could handle. A bit more control possibly. Maybe that’s what he meant.

“Thank you, it’s part of my talent and I practice control exercises everyday, so it’s not that special really. How about you, what is your special talent?” A confused expression crossed his face, but before he could answer someone else came into the room. He was wearing a bright red suit with stripes down the side that came together to form a V on his chest. Twilight thought it strange that the knights of this city didn’t seem to have a standard uniform, but it would at least help her remember them.

“Twilight Sparkle right?” He asked and she nodded. “Velocity. Pleasure to meet you. Hate to interrupt your breakfast, but the Director would like to talk to Assault and Battery about their patrol last night since she’s already on site.” Assault groaned loudly and a grimace flickered across Battery’s face before she stood up. She walked around the table and hauled Assault up as well.

“Come on, sooner begun, sooner done, they say.”

“How bout never begun, never done?” Assault parried.

“Not an option I’m afraid. Twilight, It was very nice meeting you. Hope to see you around in the future,” Battery said with a smile.

“It was very nice meeting you and Assault as well, thank you again for the breakfast.”

“Catch you later kid,” Assault said, and with that Battery guided a grumbling assault out of the room. Velocity shook his head and looked back over to Twilight.

“Looks like you’re about done, wanna go outside? This place can get a little claustrophobic after awhile.”

Twilight nodded and quickly levitated all the dishes over to the sink, washing and them setting them up to dry in the rack next to it as fast as she could so she wouldn’t keep Velocity waiting.

“Neat trick, but we do have dishwashers you know.” He said lightly.

“I’m sure the staff here is kept plenty busy already, without washing up after me as well.” Twilight replied as she settled the last dish.

“Th…fair enough, let’s go get some fresh air.”

A couple of more corridors and another electrical lift ride later they were standing on the roof of the facility. Twilight quickly trotted over to the edge and gazed out over the water towards the horizon. She took a deep breath and smelled the salt contained in it. It had been a long time since she had seen the ocean, it was beautiful and intimidating in a way.

She trotted over to the other side and looked out at the city, raising up and bracing her fore hooves against the railing. The breeze shifted, blowing from shore, pulling at her mane, and carrying an industrial smell. Something rumbled above her and she glanced up at what appeared to be an extremely fast aircraft, impossibly high.

There was just so much…different here. A small part of her was excited at the opportunity to learn so many new things, but it paled in comparison to the weight of the uncertainty she had about everything. She wasn’t sure how long she stood there, gazing out at the alien city in the distance before she heard a couple of people approaching her.

Turing around she saw Velocity escorting a shorter human with a straight black mane and wearing what looked like a formal business suit. Unlike everyone else she had met, this one wasn’t covering her face at all. She wasn’t sure what the significance of that was, but Twilight found it nice to finally see a whole face.

“Twilight. This is Dr. Yamada. She’d like to talk with you about last night, and what you do and don’t remember. She thinks she might be able to help you piece some things together.”

“Really?” Twilight asked. “That would be great, I’m certainly not making much headway on my own so far.”

“I’m pleased to meet you Twilight, would you like to come with me to my office? I find a quiet atmosphere can help, but we could talk here if you would prefer?”

“Oh, no, your office is fine with me. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me,” Twilight replied.

“No trouble at all. While we’re walking why don’t you tell me about your morning.” She felt a spike of guilt as she remembered how her morning had started, but she guessed that was a good a place as any to start.

“It started with fire.”

Interlude 2 - Yamada

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Jessica Yamada entered the room and thanked her years of experience in counseling parahumans for the ability to maintain her stride and her smile as she looked at the purple unicorn standing at the rail looking over the bay. Armsmaster’s report had seemed to bend over backwards to avoid using the term ‘unicorn’ but Jessica couldn’t think of a better way to describe Twilight Sparkle.

The wind was blowing her mane and tail out behind her and Jessica once again fell back on her training to avoid putting Twilight in the boxes labeled ‘cute’ and ‘harmless’ as her instinct was wanting to. With parahumans, evolutionary instinct was a very dangerous thing to fall back on.

She had been briefed of course. A small file with a picture and the facts as they were known, but a picture didn’t quite prepare you for the real thing. She likened it to the first time she had seen a moose in real life rather than TV. You really didn’t quite grasp how large the animals were until you stood next to one. While she knew she would be meeting someone that looked like a unicorn, her mind hadn’t really grasped that until she had walked onto the roof.

The current favored theory was that ‘Twilight Sparkle’ was an off profile case-53, since there had never been a case of extreme bodily changes that wasn’t. Hardly mentioned in the notes was a small section written by Miss Militia that proposed Twilight could be telling the objective truth and was, in fact, an actual alien. If it was the first, more likely option then it had left her with a body that, if not unpleasant visually, was certainly one of the most physically altered anyone had ever recorded. Again, if the first theory held true then her appearance had apparently led her to create an elaborate alternate history to make sense of it.

As they approached Twilight flicked an ear and turned around to face her and Velocity. She was adorable.

“Twilight, this is Dr. Yamada. She’d like to talk with you about last night, and what you do and don’t remember. She thinks she might be able to help you piece some things together.” Velocity introduced her and Jessica took an instinctual half-step forward to shake hands, but halted the motion. Twilight, of course, didn’t have hands. She settled for a congenial smile that came easily in the present company.

“Really?” Twilight asked. “That would be great, I’m certainly not making much headway on my own so far.”

“I’m pleased to meet you Twilight. Would you like to come with me to my office? I find a quiet atmosphere can help, but we could talk here if you would prefer?”

“Oh, no, your office is fine with me. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me,” Twilight replied.

“No trouble at all. While were walking why don’t you tell me about your morning,” Jessica replied, as they started to walk back towards the elevator. Twilight fell in beside them, her hooves making quiet clopping sounds as she walked. The unicorn seemed to think about for a second before nodding in assent.

“It started with fire.”

Jessica had too much experience to really be surprised, but she chalked up another victory of her training over her instincts.

“Well, that’s certainly an interesting way to begin the day.”

“I didn’t mean to light the sheets on fire. I woke up from…a bad dream…I think, and I didn’t remember where I was at first. Being a doctor I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how strong emotions can sometimes cause uncontrolled local resonances in the field. Being a magic talent makes those resonances more…vigorous when they occur. Don’t worry though, I’ve trained extensively to limit their occurrence.” Twilight paused and took a steadying breath as they turned another corner and entered the hallway with her office. Jessica took the opportunity to try and parse some of what she had just heard.

“This is the first time in, years…well I think…that I’ve had a feedback flare. Nothing to worry about. Just a bad dream and waking up in another dimension threw off my control a little, no nothing at all.” Jessica noted that Twilight’s breathing had increased and seemed to be looking towards her for a confirmation of her assessment.

“I’m sure you’re right Twilight. Going through what you did last night, waking up in a strange place, it would upset anyone. But we’re here to help you however we can. You’ve got nothing to worry about.” Twilight let out a calmer breath at that and smiled. They stopped at her office door and she turned to Velocity.

“Thank you Velocity. I’ll give you a call when we’re done with our talk.”

“No problem Jessica, see you in a bit Twilight.” He waved to the unicorn and walked away as Jessica used her keycard to unlock her door. She flicked on the light and stepped inside, Twilight following just behind her.

“Go ahead and take a seat anywhere you like Twilight.” Jessica said and waved her arm to indicate the two chairs and the sofa. Once Twilight was all the way in she closed the door behind them and walked over to her desk to pick up a notepad and pen. Twilight had climbed up on the sofa and spread and folded her legs underneath her, so Jessica took the seat opposite. She flipped the cover of the notepad over and jotted down a few quick notes in short hand.

“Oooh, that looks so much more convenient than a scroll and quill,” Twilight said with obvious envy, and Jessica looked up to see the unicorn looking at the notepad with longing.

“I have some extras in my desk if you would like one.”

“Really, you don’t mind?”

“Not at all, here let me-“ Jessica cut herself off as a purple glow surrounded Twilight’s horn and a matching one wrapped around her desk. She heard the drawers open and close in quick succession before a notepad and pen floated out behind it to hover next to Twilight’s head. Its cover flipped over and the pen began to jot notes on its own while Twilight jumped off the couch and wrapped her in a hug.

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you. Just wait until I can transmute one of these! I could create lists twice, no, three times as fast!”

“You’re very welcome Twilight,” Jessica said with a smile. She returned the hug with a light one of her own, noticing that the pen had kept writing even while Twilight seemed solely focused on her. When Twilight released her and settled herself back on the couch Jessica took the opening that the conversation had left her.

“I got a chance to look at the list you made last night. I take it you like making lists?”

“Of course! They’re practically perfect for procedural planning purposes. How else would you keep track of all your projects, and your progress on all your projects and whether you’ve double checked your projects properly? Plus you get to check things off when you do them, which is one of the best feelings there is!” Jessica nodded and smiled as she took several quick notes.

“Yes they certainly can be quite helpful. I take it you work on a lot of projects at the same time.”

“Yes, I’m the personal student of Princess Celestia. I usually have an assignment from her, which often spawns several sub-projects as I research the assignment. Then the research from those sub-projects often creates sub or parallel projects of their own, which sometimes illuminate interesting tangental research not directly related to any of the other projects. I also do independent research on my own with a similar nested hierarchy. Of course those projects always come after the ones given to me by the princess.”

“That sounds like a lot of very important work for just one pony. I imagine that can get stressful.” Unlike her previous rapid-fire responses, Twilight hesitated and nervously scuffed the couch with one of her hooves before responding.

“Yes, sometimes it can be. But I have the best assistant in the world. Spike really helps me a lot, and besides anything the Princess asks me to do is obviously too important to require anything less than my full attention and skills. She’s done so much for me, and for Equestria as a whole, the very least I can do is giver her my absolute best. I…I…just know that my being here is somehow my fault. I was doing something for her, something important and…and it went wrong somehow. Now I’m here and she’s in Equestria, counting on me to do something!” Twilight trailed off into sniffles and Jessica got up from her chair and took the box of tissues off her desk. She knelt down next to the couch and held them out to Twilight who telekinetically took a couple and started to wipe her eyes. Jessica rested a hand gently on one of Twilight’s forelegs.

“She sounds like an amazing pony Twilight. She can probably handle what you were working on if it comes down to it. She’s likely more concerned about your whereabouts than whatever it was you were working on.”

“But what if she’s disappointed in me!? What if I failed some kind of test? What if I get back and she doesn’t want me to be her student anymore!?” Twilight’s breathing started to speed up and tears reformed again in her eyes.

Jessica began to slowly stroke the fur under her hand and responded in slow gentle tones.

“I very much doubt she’s anything but worried about you Twilight. Besides, just think about all the new things you’ll be able to tell her about when you get back - notepads for one!” That produced a hiccupy laugh and a smile from Twilight and the pony seemed to firm up with the thought.

“That’s right, I’ve already taken notes on several things that could lead to breakthroughs for Equestrian science since I’ve been here. Even if I did…fail…something I can show her all the work and research I did while I was trying to get back. I’m sure that will convince her I’m good enough for a second chance! Thank you Dr. Yamada, that’s such a great idea.” Jessica noticed that the pen under Twilight’s control was nearly blurring as it took notes now, pages flipping every few seconds. Now that it looked like Twilight’s resolve had firmed up, Jessica took a gamble and decided this was the best time to press for more details.

“You said you thought that your arrival here in Brockton Bay was somehow your fault, even though you told Armsmaster you couldn’t remember the event. So what makes you think that? What do you think happened?”

“Well, I’ve thought a lot about that last night while I was trying to get to sleep, and more this morning since I woke up. My working theory is I was involved in some kind of large magical accident that somehow breached a number of dimensional barriers and left me stranded here. I can’t remember the event besides a few scattered memories, but I’ve been involved in magical accidents before and their effects can be quite random and dramatic.” Twilight’s tone had shifted now, becoming almost professorial the longer she spoke. Her earlier emotional tone almost gone.

“I see. Some of your earlier statements seemed to indicate you were already thinking of a way to get home. Is there some way I or the PRT could help you do that?”

“Yes, yes, yes, yes. Well If I am correct in my hypothesis I’m going to need to recreate that event, in some kind of controlled and directed fashion. Of course to pursue that goal in the most productive manner I’m going to need access to your world’s magical research libraries, meetings with anypony with a special talent in theoretical physics or magic. Eventually, I will need an isolated location a safe distance from population in which to conduct tests. If you think it would useful I’ve sketched out a few ideas and detailed notes of my working assumptions.” Jessica took a moment to process that and make a few more notes before responding.

“I don’t think I know anyone with knowledge in theoretical magic, but I may be able get you in touch with a few physicists.” Twilight smiled and clopped her fore hooves together a little at that. “You said you had been in a magical accident before, could you tell me about that?” Twilight fidgeted uncomfortably for a moment before speaking.

“Yes. On the day I discovered my special talent I had an uncontrolled magic surge. I accidentally transformed my parents into plants and destroyed a section of the castle.” Twilight shuddered a little, and Jessica took a few notes. “It was, until two days ago, the most scared I have ever been. Worse, it was my fault. If Princess Celestia hadn’t shown up and calmed me down I don’t know what would have happened.” Twilight smiled briefly before frowning and fidgeting nervously. The notepad and pen started to quiver in mid air.

“Take a deep breath Twilight.” Jessica punctuated this by breathing deeply herself. “Your memory may return in time. We don’t know what happened so you shouldn’t assume that is was your fault.” Twilight seemed to settle down after a moment, the notepad steadying in the air. “Why don’t we change topics for a moment? You mentioned discovering your “Special Talent.” Could you tell me what you mean by that? It may be that we have different words for the same thing.” Distracted from thinking about Princess Celestia, Twilight seemed to perk up and resumed the professorial tone she had at the beginning of the discussion.

“A special talent is what you are best at, what you most enjoy doing. It’s an integral part of your personality, you shape it and it shapes your life. That’s not everything it is, but until I study your language more thats probably as close to a definition I can come to. I assume Armsmaster’s special talent is enchanting materials and machines, and the girl I met on the roof could talk to bugs and make them listen to her.” Jessica wrote all of this down, It was a surprisingly insightful piece of philosophy for someone the people who briefed her assumed was an early-adolescent. She mentally revised her own estimate of Twilight’s age up a half a dozen years.

“So what’s your special talent Twilight?”



Three hours later, Jessica Yamada sat at a conference table. Miss Militia, Armsmaster, Assault, Battery, and Director Piggot were there as well. Someone that she recognized from the Chicago office was on screen, as well a few other people that she did not. Jessica flipped back through her notes for a moment before she heard the Director speaking and looked up.

“Okay everyone, we’ve had Ms. Sparkle for a day. What are your impressions? Since this morning covered Armsmaster’s and Miss Militia’s interactions already, and I trust everyone has already had a chance to go over the relevant files, let’s start with Assault or Battery.”

“She’s like if someone combined Vista, Accord, and an absent minded professor into body designed by Glenn Chambers for maximum cuteness. Its actually pretty terri-“ Assault cut off with a pained grimace and Battery began speaking instead.

“She’s polite, well-mannered, driven, and, yes, cute. It has a way of disarming you without noticing it. She levitated a knife right past Assault’s head this morning at breakfast before either one of us had a chance to react to it, and we were explicitly watching for her to do anything threatening. Part of it was her skill with her telekinesis. She can levitate and finely control at least a dozen objects without seeming to look at them or pay them noticeable attention. While Assault and I had been watching her use her power to eat her breakfast, she had been manipulating several other objects around the room. It’s worth noting that she didn’t appear to recognize this as any great feat of ability, and I conjecture that her TK is quite a bit more powerful and controlled than what we have witnessed so far.”

“Thank you Battery, that’s helpful information. Dr. Yamada, How did your session with Twilight go?”

“First of all, my personal opinion is that Twilight Sparkle is not a case-53 or delusional. While there is no way to verify much of what she says, it has a level of consistency and detail that is not found in people suffering from mental illness. I suppose someone could have implanted a lifetimes worth of memories consistent with a radically different alternate reality, but I can’t imagine the motivation behind such an act. She seems earnest and cooperative with the hope that we can provide the resources to get her home. She’s very intelligent. Even disregarding subjects where I have no frame of reference, she quickly left me behind in physics and math.” Jessica paused to take a sip of water and Brian from Chicago’s intelligence division started typing rapidly, while the others became more alert. Director Piggot took the opportunity to speak.

“Alright, I have long since ceased being surprised by life. So let’s go with the idea she’s sane. Is she stable? Would she work with us? Do we want her to and if that answer is yes how do we best arrange that?” A section of the screen that was previously blank clicked on and showed a middle aged gentleman sitting behind a desk. A small bar underneath his feed displayed ‘Deputy Directory of State.’ Jessica looked around the room and was a little astounded that no one was reacting more to the idea that for all practical purposes this was a first contact scenario with a friendly alien being. She supposed everyone had become somewhat jaded to the fantastic. She supposed in a world of superpowers, parallel dimensions and the Endbringers that everyone in the Protectorate and PRT had become more than a tad jaded.

“I would say she is mostly stable, but she has been ripped from everything she knows and thrown into a hostile world. She’s stressed, nervous, and worried. I haven’t spoken with her long enough to be confident in a diagnosis but she also seems to have some obsessive/compulsive behaviors regarding organization that she has adapted to use as a coping mechanism. If treated gently, given time to adjust, and assistance in her research she could very well be an asset. But keep in mind she comes from a very different culture that my discussion with her has only scratched the surface of. While there seem to be broad similarities, there are bound to be things she views very differently than we do.”

Miss Militia nodded at this. “It took me many years to completely adjust to America and its culture. Ms. Sparkle is many times more removed from her surroundings than even I was. She will need someone to shepherd her into this new world if we hope to help her and be helped in turn.” Jessica nodded and smiled at Ms. Militia. She had hoped someone would understand that point.

Armsmaster spoke up for the first time. “It is…surprising given my initial impressions, that what she said could be the literal truth. However, it seems whether it is or not is almost a moot point. Dr. Yamada, where would you place her age? As I mentioned in my briefing I couldn’t get a good read on that, she seemed alternately very young and more mature depending on the topic of conversation.”

“That’s actually a complicated question. I noticed the same thing when speaking to her. She had a trigger event at a time that my best guess is equivalent to 5th or 6th grade. Due to the power she expressed during the event she was taken under the wing of her country’s ruler as something like an apprentice. Twilight has several of the hallmarks of a child prodigy, and I would guess that even in her own society she was not well socialized. Again, this is little more than guesswork and it could be that her society judges things very differently than ours, but I would probably equate her to a first year college student. Just getting out in the world and learning to be independent. However, she is as knowledgeable as a college professor with the social maturity of someone in their early teens.”

The Deputy Secretary of State cleared his throat and spoke for the first time. “Depending on how much her culture varies from ours, we have several plans for a situation like this. Before I give the go ahead on any of them I want to make sure we are not jumping the gun here. Since there is no indication that contact with her society is imminent and everything so far points towards her being friendly we can afford to take the time to be sure. I’ll send some state people out there for interviews. If she has been traumatized moving her around would likely only serve to destabilize her. The Protectorate and the PRT has handled this well so far. As you all are the only ones that have had contact with her I will leave it to Protectorate East-North-East and the Brockton Bay PRT to make temporary arrangements until we're up to speed and confident on what and who we are dealing with.”

Miss Militia spoke up, “I have a suggestion. Regardless of what her age may be, she is young to our world. I can think of one local agency that was designed to provide support for the young and powerful.”

Director Piggot frowned slightly. “You’re suggesting that she be housed by the PRT.”

“Yes,” Miss Militia continued, “The PRT has support facilities and staff we do not here. More importantly the Wards would also give her a ready made group from which to learn from and bond with. I imagine they will be better at breaking through cultural barriers than any of us would be.”

Jessica nodded at this and spoke up to reinforce the point. “There is no ideal solution for her situation, and I would recommend strongly against her being exposed to situations where violence is expected, but the Wards are probably as close as we can come to a controlled introduction to our society. They have all experienced trauma and most are likely to be sympathetic to her and provide an emotional support structure.”

Director Piggot looked like she had swallowed something bitter, but nodded nevertheless. “If that is the case then we can arrange it. Deputy secretary if you could forward any material you think is relevant to my office?” The Deputy nodded. “Very well. Thank you for your time everyone. If you think of an additional pertinent information please attach it to the proper files and send an email out. Dismissed.” Jessica stood up with everyone else and made her way out into the hall. It had been a long exciting day. She believed she owed herself some takeout and some mindless tv watching tonight.

As she made her way down the hall she thought she heard Armsmaster muttering something about “spells.”

2 - Wards & Interlude 3 - Aegis

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Twilight turned sideways in the seat, head facing the window, and pulled her legs up underneath her. It was the third position she had tried in as many minutes. Human vehicles, it seemed, were not made for quadrupeds. This position at least had the benefit of avoiding the stern face of Director Piggot.

Humans were strange. Enough alike to be relatable, but so different as well. They had agreed to help her and provide a place to stay in exchange for assisting them in turn. She was a little worried about that. What assistance she was to provide had not been very clear. The way some of those parahuman response officials on that wondrous screen had talked had not been very enlightening or particularly encouraging. Most of the others had been nice though, and Assault had even gotten a giggle out of her at breakfast.

She withheld the sigh that wanted to escape her chest. She had never been that good at figuring out ponies. Figuring out humans seemed like paddling into the ocean without a raft.

Looking out the window she got her first real look at the city. This area looked much better than what she had seen last night. Buildings made of steel and glass soared into the air. Personal vehicles with combustion engines and interior climate regulation moving at a fast gallop down wide smoothly paved avenues. Curiously, she didn’t see any hints of magical engineering of the kind that let Canterlot Castle hang dramatically from Mount Canter. Maybe the current human architectural preference was to show what could be done without it? Regardless, the city was impressive display. Manehatten in 100 years maybe.

While she was looking out the window she realized something she had overlooked before and turned to ask Director Piggot a question. “This is a very large city and I’ve been looking for a while now. Are there not any other races or sapient species that live here?”

Twilight couldn’t say that the Director frowned, as she seemed to perpetually frown, but maybe she frowned harder before she answered. “Humans are the only definitively sentient species on the planet. What do you mean when you say race?”

Twilight startled a little at this. Humans had only each other to talk to. She could imagine that would have had far reaching consequences for their culture and thought process. Hardly conscious that she was doing it, she levitated a notepad from her bags and started writing even as she spoke. “There are three distinct kinds of pony on my world, all easily distinguishable by their physical differences and to some degree their abilities. Looking out there,” she gestured to the window and the sidewalks full of people, “I only see relatively minor variations in build and skin tone. Are there other variations of humans or is this a good sample of the populace as a whole?”

Piggot seemed to think for a moment before responding. Her tone eased a little as she explained. “If that is your definition of race, then there is indeed only one kind of human. If a human refers to race they are usually referring to a group of people that share a cultural background or set of physical features like eyes, hair, and skin tone. Brockton Bay is fairly diverse, as far as that goes.” Before Twilight could pursue the topic further Director Piggot changed gears.

“We are only a few minutes away from the building where you will be staying. When we get there I would like to sit down and go over your abilities with me and some of the staff. Any abilities that we determine are safe to test on site we would like to see demonstrated. While we conduct the testing, some of my staff will be setting up your living quarters. Do you have any special needs or requests?”

Twilight put the notepad she was currently writing in away and pulled another out, flipping about a third of the way through it while it was still en route from her bag. Director Piggot noted that she did all of this without looking. “Yes, I have a few small requests that I hope you will be able to accommodate. Ms Yamada already told me it would take some time to arrange the visits with the scholars that I need to speak with. To prepare for those meetings I would like a few books. A general overview of your physical sciences, a general overview of your biological sciences, a general overview of your magical sciences, a general world history, and a comprehensive history of the last century. Once I have an idea of where my knowledge and your science aligns and diverges I can start getting into the details of the relevant subjects. If they are available, besides reading materials, I could use a large chalk board, a writing desk suited to my height, as many bookshelves as will fit into the space, a few hundred of these bound notepads, a few dozen pens, and a bed.”

A nonplused look briefly crossed Piggot’s face before she responded. “I’m sure we can supply most of that. Dietary requirements?”

Twilight started to bring her fore hooves together in anticipation of the books, but the gesture withered under the Director’s stare. “Um, the breakfast this morning was nice, so probably nothing out of the ordinary. Grains, vegetables, fruits, long grasses and wildflowers. Daisies are a particular favorite of mine. Breads and Pastries.”

“Again I’m sure we can arrange most of that, I’ll let the cafeteria know.” The car they were in went over a bump and began descending an incline that led them beneath a large glass and steel building styled somewhat differently from its neighboors. The driver stopped the car beside two large metal doors surrounded by unadorned concrete. He stepped out and opened the rear door. Twilight gratefully climbed out of the uncomfortable seat and took a moment to stretch out her neck and each of her legs. The Director walked up to the doors and pressed a circular emblem which then began to glow. Twilight’s ears swiveled towards the sound of machinery engaging off to right and she nodded to herself. ‘All electrical again, no magical assistance. No wards,’ Twilight thought. Now that was strange. If this was something like a secured government building, there should be security wards somewhere.

A moment later a loud chime sounded and one of the metal doors opened. When Twilight and Director Piggot stepped inside and the doors closed again, it immediately began moving. Somewhat surprisingly Twilight felt the lift start to descend. She almost asked why, but thought better of it. Director Piggot seemed not to enjoy conversation very much.

The elevator doors opened to a well lit, but unadorned, hallway. No pictures, murals, or aesthetic of any kind seemed to have been applied. Long electric tubes hung from the ceiling, emitting light and an annoying high frequency buzz that made Twilight’s eye twitch. At a T-intersection they turned left down another short hallway that had a series of doors down one side. Director Piggot stopped at the last door and punched a series of numbered buttons on a panel beside it, causing it to unlock.

The near side of the room had another of those long conference tables that the humans seemed to prefer. Three people were seated at it while another one of those fascinating electronic displays hung above the far end of the table. Two more people were on the display and she had learned earlier that they could be looking in from other cities hundreds or thousands of miles away. The knowledge and engineering that had to underpin such a system spoke of the vast hidden iceberg of science and innovation that this species had at their disposal. Just thinking about it put a little spring in her step as she walked towards a cushioned stool that had obviously been set up for her. Director Piggot left an empty chair beside Twilight and sat down to her left before speaking.

“Everyone, this is Twilight Sparkle. As I am sure you have all read the briefing by now and are aware,” sounding like she actually doubted that was the case, “we believe she is from both another planet and another dimension. She was stranded here by some unknown event or accident. For the time being it has been decided that she will be housed here at the PRT to ensure she has support and a secure location from which to work on a way to contact her people and learn about our society. We hope to learn about her culture in turn, so that if and when contact with her planet is established we will be ready for it.” This was more verbose than the Director had been in the past, and Twilight had a feeling that the lines had been prepared by someone else. “Twilight, to my left is Aegis. He is the leader of the local Wards.” She gestured to the younger human who had tan skin and wore a rust colored costume with a shield emblem on the front. “The Wards is a program for young people to learn the skills they need before joining the Protectorate.” ‘Guardsman in training, cadets,’ Twilight concluded.

“You will see him and his team throughout the building at different times don’t hesitate to ask them for assistance.” She paused and cleared her throat a little, which seemed to snap Aegis out of the slacked jawed expression he had been wearing since Twilight came into the room.

“Oh, right. It’s nice to meet you Twilight. I hope we can help you.” Twilight nodded at him and smiled, but was prevented from returning the greeting because Director Piggot had already moved on.

“To his left is John, my chief of staff. He handles most of the logistics and day to day details that keep the place running.” The man nodded at Twilight and Piggot continued. “At the far end of the table is Marian May, our information officer here at Brockton Bay.” The slight woman at the end had long brown hair that framed her face and fell over her shoulders and the same style of clothes as Piggot. “On the screen we have Wendy Sherman, who is the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. If we succeed in contacting your world, she would coordinating relations between our nations.”

The woman had short white hair, a friendly smile and spoke in a warm tone. “While I hope to speak with you in person in the future, it is very nice to meet you. Welcome you to our planet and our country. I know you wish to return to your home as soon as possible, but while you are here I hope you find your stay hospitable and that we may learn as much from each other as your stay allows.”

Twilight nodded her head and smiled as she responded. “Thank you. I admit my first impression of your world was frightening, but since arriving at the Protectorate building last night everyone has been very kind and generous. While I do hope to find a solution sooner rather than later, I think it would be criminal not to use the opportunity to further the scientific knowledge of both our species.”

Director Piggot moved on to the next person on the display. “This is Chief Director Costa-Brown. She is the head of the PRT and is ultimately in charge of the Protectorate, the Wards, and the PRT divisions across the country.” ‘Which makes her the most powerful person I have been introduced to,’ Twilight thought.

The Chief Director had a congenial smile on her face, and it seemed like Twilight had her full attention. “Like the Under Secretary I hope to soon meet you in person, but until then I trust my staff will prove to be gracious hosts in my absence. Be assured that we are looking into the circumstances of your arrival with all of our resources.”

Twilight smiled politely in return. “Thank you, Chief Director. I’m honored that you and the others here took the time to speak with me and for all the kindnesses you all have shown me…It means more to me than you can imagine.” A sniffle threatened and Twilight forced a smile and a glance around to regain her composure.

Director Piggot spoke up once again. “Thank you all for coming. We are here today not only to welcome Ms. Sparkle, but to evaluate her abilities before she begins her residence here. In accordance with PRT safety regulation 714.865. For the archivist this proceeding is to be filed under PRT-SPARKLE0035. Now Ms. Sparkle, I’ve read through Ms. Yamada’s notes and when talking about para-abilities you mentioned that your,” she looked down at her notes, “Special Talent was magic. We understand that you are speaking with the aid of translation and this word is probably one that means something different to you than it does us. Can you expand on what you can do with magic?”

Twilight was nonplussed at the question. It was like asking what you could do with gravity. After thinking about it for a moment she guessed they were referring to the most common applications she used the magic field for. She pulled her notepad and pen out of her bag again and took a second to organize her thoughts.

“Well as you can see the most common application I use it for is remote manipulation of physical matter, like this notepad and pen.” She noticed that other people had started taking notes, while Aegis and Marian had pulled out another one of the humans’ fascinating electronic devices. It contained what looked like a vertical electronic display and a horizontal tray with a series of depressible buttons. ‘Were they somehow electronically storing notes? Without paper?’ Twilight’s mind quickly extrapolated the uses and applications of such a thing and had to bite her lip to get back on track with what she had been discussing. Someone cleared their throat and Twilight turned towards them and avoided the temptation to demonstrate her telekinesis to get a better look at the devices.

Twilight blushed a little and apologized, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that? I’m afraid my mind went off on a small tangent for a moment.”

The information officer spoke again, “What are the limits of this power? How many objects could you lift? how much mass?”

Twilight looked up in thought while her pen continued to scribble notes on the pad, flipping over to a new page. ‘Those questions aren’t quite right. Are they subtly testing me on my knowledge of magic theory?’ “Hmm, well I’m not sure. It’s been years since my last formal physical test with it. Volume is more of a limitation than mass, The more field area you control the more focus and concentration it takes. I’m fairly proficient, the most I have stretched the ability recently is when I re-shelve the library.” She paused a moment as another one of those hazy memories skitter out of her grasp. “I typically handle a few hundred books at a time.” The Chief director was looking at her with an unreadable expression her face, while Piggot was jotting something down in her little notebook and Marian tapped rapidly at her device.

Director Piggot dug further. “If we crushed the vehicle that we drove to this building in to a suitable volume, you could lift it regardless of its mass?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t need to reduce its volume. Contiguous field volume requires a lot less concentration than non-contiguous volume.” Twilight replied in a light tone, happy that she seemed to be exceeding whatever expectations they had for this test. The sound of more tapping and writing filled the room, Twilight’s ears twitching in time with the noise.

The Chief Director spoke again. “I think we can move on for now and perhaps later we can talk about that more in detail. How else do you use your magic?”

‘My magic?’ Twilight hesitated then continued with her initial assumption. “Well, I let Armsmaster copy my notes from my arrival so I am sure you already know some of this. I guess teleportation and transmutation are the next most common applications I use. Teleportation is again limited by the volume of the area to be teleported, but it is further limited because you need to control an identical remote field volume at your desired destination. It also requires much more fine control than telekinesis to connect the two volumes and…I’m not sure I have a word for it in your language but it’s like…stepping around everything between the two. I’m afraid I’ve only really mastered self teleportation so far in my studies.” Twilight took a pleased breath before continuing, there were few things she liked better than discussing magic, and not one of them had that vacant expression so many ponies got when she did.

“Transmutation is probably the skill I’m most proud of. There are two types of transmutation. Temporary and permanent. It involves…again I’m at a loss for the right words…which is odd because this spell should translate concepts both cultures share. Let’s see…the pattern… or blueprint of the matter contained in the remote field is…^$%^%…pushed aside?..at the same time you…push…or layout?..a new pattern into the same space. Thats not quite right. If you…argh stupid translation spell, it will probably work better once I have studied some of your scientific texts. Anyway, most transmutation is temporary as it takes an incredible amount of…%^$#^^@$…sorry but there is nothing the translation spell is giving that is remotely close, but it takes a lot to permanently…push…the old pattern away. It is one of the most challenging areas of magic to master. It took me three years of dedicated study and practice before I was able to produce a decent paper analog.” Twilight finished with a smile, thinking of how proud Celestia had been when she surprised her with the skill.

“However, those are just the spells that I use most frequently. In the course of my tutelage under Princess Celestia I have studied all the major branches of magic and their practical applications like enchantment and magical engineering. Then, of course, there are higher level spells that involve intwining @$%@$#% with….emotion? Purpose? And @$%@$. I’m only just starting to explore that area in my studies…I think…there were…ponies I was…I’m sorry there’s just…something about that…I…can’t remember right now.”

She took a slow breath to get past her anxiety before she continued. “So let’s skip that for now. What else were you interested in?” Then she noticed that the sounds of tapping and writing had stopped completely and no one was speaking. Even with the rough similarities between pony and human facial expression, she couldn’t quite place what she seeing here.

Chief Director Brown was the one who broke the silence, “That is quite an extensive skill set. I think I understand why your Princess choose you as her student.” Twilight blushed and ducked her head a little bashfully as she heard the others begin writing and typing again. “I think that’s enough of a demonstration for today. Director Piggot, can you call one of your aides to show Twilight around the building and where she will be staying? I would like to take a few minutes since we already have everyone here to discuss a few other matters. Does that work for you Twilight?”

Twilight nodded and quickly replied, “Yes, that would be fine,” as she couldn’t think of a reason it wouldn’t work, and suspected the question was posed more as a matter of form than any real interest in Twilight’s opinion on the matter. While she had been responding, Director Piggot had picked up a small device and tapped it a few times.

“Aegis, please escort Twilight to the elevators. Sam is going to come down and show her around. Come back after she meets you. There are a few other things we need to inform you of.” Director Piggot addressed the cadet.

“No problem ma’am, Miss Sparkle?” Aegis replied and turned to look at her.

She nodded and hopped off her stool. “Thank you all again. It was really nice meeting you.”

Aegis opened the door as the rest of the group told her goodbye and she stepped back into the hall. Aegis closed the door behind them and started walking back they way they had come from before. “So, most of the other Wards are probably going to be around a little later. Would you mind if we swung by? That way I could introduce you to everyone you’re likely to run into while you’re here.” Twilight smiled a little nervously. She had been introduced to more humans in the last two days than she had been to ponies in the last two years. She kind of wanted to spend as much time as possible setting up the room they were going to give her, but she supposed it wouldn’t be polite to decline. Besides, it sounded like the time would be lost either today or later anyway. Hopefully it wouldn’t take to long.

“Sure, that sounds great.” Twilight said as she started to write more notes down on the pad she was levitating beside her. She noticed Aegis looking at her a little…maybe unsure, and thought of the distance between them and the elevator. Right, conversation etiquette, he was probably waiting on her to ask him something. Ohh, she was never good at this stuff. What had the Princess said about small talk?

“So what made you want to become a ca- a Ward?” Twilight asked and reluctantly stopped writing on her notepad.

Aegis’ smile ran away from his face and a troubled look replaced it for a second before his smile returned. When he spoke again it was in a strange accent he hadn’t been using before.

“You could say someone made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

“Really? It may be an error in the translation matrix, but that sounds contradictory. Is it an idiom? Those often don’t come through quite right.”

Aegis shook his head and laughed. “No, sorry. It’s a famous movie quote. I was joking, but it probably loses something if you’ve never even heard of the movie.” They had almost reached the end of the hall and an elevator door opened with chime. A grey-haired man in a PRT uniform stepped out. When he saw them a pleasant smile appeared on his face.

“Ms Sparkle, it’s a pleasure to meet you. They’re still working on setting up your room. While we wait for them, would you like to tour some of the facility?”

“Oh, ah, yes, I guess since I am probably going to be staying here for awhile, that makes sense. Thank you that would be nice.”

“I’ll let you two get to it then. I’ve got to get back to the meeting. I’ll see you later Twilight.” Aegis said and turned around after she nodded in acknowledgment. The doors were already closed and the elevator had started moving back up the building before Twilight realized Aegis had never really answered her question.

A few hours later Twilight looked out a window at the sprawling city below. Dozen of different vehicle designs in a rainbow of colors crowded the streets, bright yellow by far the most popular. Humans walked along the edges, their ungainly two-legged stride smoothed out by the distance. An aircraft landed on a rooftop not far away. For some reason it made her think of the color pink. She sighed. A lot. A lot to take in and so much work to do.

Turning away from the window, she surveyed the room she had been given. One whole wall was a floor to ceiling “whiteboard.” When she had been told what it was and given the marker pack for it she had hugged the startled aid and dove right in. Some time later she had realized she was alone. She hadn’t noticed him leave. She felt a little guilty about that. The happy thought of never having to wash chalk dust out of her mane again pushed it aside. Along the window beside where she was standing was a nice, long, wooden desk that looked like its legs had been truncated to make it the right height. Her notebooks arranged by subject and stacked neatly on one side. The other wall was taken up completely by industrial metal shelving, empty except a small section containing half a dozen books. The shelving was broken up only where a comfortably sized bed rested against the wall. The center of the room had a small round table with two human chairs and cushioned stool.

Everything she had asked for, and the speed at which they had provided her with the requests astonished her. It was very generous, but it made her a little uneasy in a way she couldn’t quite understand. Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she walked over to the bed and hopped up. A glow surrounded her horn and the book she had been reading floated over from the desk to hover in front of her while a marker uncapped itself and took position against the whiteboard. It was time for science!

She wasn’t sure how long she had been reading when she heard the knock on her door, but the whiteboard was half full, and the sky had turned the burnt orange of an impending sunset.

“Come in!” she called, letting the book settle onto the bed in front of her. The door opened and the young human from this morning’s meeting was there.

“Hi Twilight,” he glanced around the room eyes looking over the alien script on the whiteboard before looking back to her. “Jumping right in huh. How’s it going?” Twilight smiled. Unlike Armsmaster the cadet seemed to be asking out of real curiosity rather than politeness sake.

“Ok, but it’s going to take me forever just to get an idea of where I’m standing. It can be a little daunting if I let myself think about it to much. For now I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time to keep myself on track,” gesturing to the book in front of her with a hoof. She was about to ask him how his day had been when a cough sounded from the hallway. Twilight’s left ear swiveled in that direction.

“Uh, right, me and a few of my teammates have a little time before we have to go out on patrol. Want some company?”

Twilight gave a longing look at the whiteboard before using her magic to cap and put away the marker she had been using. There was so much for her to do she really couldn’t afford the interruption, but some, she didn’t know, but something about this felt familiar. Like getting to know these humans would be more important than any research she could do. Which was ridiculous, but the feeling persisted.

“Oh, okay. It looks like that marker was about to run dry, so that’s as good as place to take a break as any.”

As soon as she agreed, she felt the field distort in a way she had never experienced before, and suddenly there was something right in front of her face. She lurched back instinctively and her eyes had a moment to take in a short human dressed in an unusual style, at least compared to those she had seen so far, consisting of shades of green. The top half of her face was obscured by a matching visor, but the bottom displayed a wide smile as she reached out an arm.

“Hello.” She, as the tone of the voice obviously indicated, said warmly. “I’m Vista, and on behalf of the Brockton Bay Wards and the People of Earth, welcome to our planet.” Twilight looked down at the arm extended towards her and then up past Vista’s head to see a group of what she took to be the other Wards coming into the room with variations of amusement on their faces. Tentatively, she stretched out her right foreleg and touched Vista’s hand with her hoof.

“It is, uh, nice to meet you as well. My name is Twilight Sparkle, as I am sure Aegis already told you. That was really a fascinating application of magic you just used. Some form of spatial distortion? A @#$%@#$%? How did you mange to shape the field in Q$$% manifold and achieve a uniform $@#%@ so quickly?” With hardly a thought Twilight levitated a notepad and pen over and flipped it to the first un-used page.

A look of confusion replaced the smile on Vista’s face.

“I’m not sure I understood a lot of that. If you’re asking how I appeared in front of you like that, I sort of compressed all the space between us for a brief moment and stepped across it. It’s my power. I just sort of know how to use it. I’m not sure there are words that would describe it.”

A slightly disappointed frown crossed Twilight’s features before brightening again as she nodded. “Oh, it’s your special talent! Don’t worry, they often can be hard to describe or explain to other ponies. If you’re willing, I would love to do a couple of experiments with you later.” She looked past Vista again to see that the others had mostly closed the distance between them. “Who are your friends?”

Vista turned halfway and extended arm to point towards Aegis.

“Well, you’ve already met our fearless leader Aegis. Our very own knight in shining armor beside him is Gallant, and last and most certainly least is Clockblocker.”

The aforementioned Clockblocker gasped as if he had been struck and clutched his chest dramatically. Twilight couldn’t stop a giggle from escaping, especially when she remembered a similar introduction from last night. She wondered if it was some kind of human custom to have jester as part of your group. The one called Gallant stepped forward and gave a slightly theatrical bow before speaking.

“Sir Gallant at your service milady. I would apologize for the uncouth behavior of my companions, but if I made a habit of doing so, I fear I would spend my time doing little else.” That brought out more giggles from Twilight and seemed to startle one out of Vista. Gallant’s stoic face cracked into a grin.

“Hey, who are you calling uncouth?” Clockblocker asked from where he had just finished ‘dying’ on the floor.

“You, everyday, among many other things not fit for polite company.”

“Ha! Yup, I probably deserve it to. Which reminds me, I uploaded all those test glamor shots that PR took of you last week to your PHO thread last night. It’s really blowing up.”

The joviality fled from Gallant’s face as he rounded on Clockblocker. “You wouldn’t. Tell me you didn’t actually do that.”

“Your fans were calling out in the darkness. ‘More Gallant,’ they pleaded. What kind of hero would I be if I denied them?”

Gallant walked quickly over towards Clockblocker, clearly aggravated, and Clockblocker scrambled up from the floor and took refuge behind Aegis’ body.

Aegis looked amused and made no move to hinder either one of his teammates as they circled him. He turned to Twilight. “I promise that we can, at least sometimes, approach professionalism.”

Twilight laughed lightly at his put upon expression and nodded. “It’s okay. They kind of remind me of…I don’t…anyway, it’s fine.”

“Enough about them.” Vista said in a dismissive voice and gestured towards the chairs behind them. Twilight nodded and turned that way just as Clockblocker did something that seemed to have frozen Aegis and Gallant in place. Gallant’s arms stretched out and trying to reach around Aegis’ torso.

Twilight settled down on a padded stool while Vista sat herself in the chair closest to her. “What did you want to talk about?”

Vista hesitated a moment, glancing over her shoulder at the three behind her. Clockblocker had pulled out some small rectangular device as was circling the frozen pair for some reason.

“Everything really, but let’s start with the important things first.” Twilight nodded and set her pen to the notepad. She figured she could learn a great deal of human culture and what they found important just from the kind of things they asked her.

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

End Chapter 2 - Wards

Interlude 3 - Aegis

“…dangerous. I,” Director Piggot’s voice cut off as Carlos opened the door and stepped back into the room. As the eyes of everyone in the room settled on him, he quickly got to his chair and sat down. He wasn’t sure what they had talked about while he was gone, but the tension in the room seemed a couple of notches higher than when he left. Channeling a little of his inner Clockblocker, he decided to re-break the ice.

“Um, just putting this out there, but I call dibs.” The serious look on the Chief Director’s face gave way to a brief snort. Marian let out a chuckle and the tension in the room relaxed. Director Costa-Brown gave Aegis a wry look.

“Aegis, if there where such a thing as dibs in the PRT, let me assure you, you would not get first dibs on Ms. Sparkle. For now, I’m inclined to agree with the recommendation from Ms. Yamada. She should be treated with kid gloves and kept away from violence until we have a better bead on her psychological makeup. That she could be a tremendous asset is a given. That she could be a threat if we read her wrong is also undeniable. Remember, whatever method she is using for translation is imperfect. She may be getting the google translate version of what we are saying and vice versa. Until we know more I would hesitate to trust that what we are hearing is what she is meaning. We need to be careful, but not second guess ourselves to death either. I like the idea of the Wards socializing with her. It will give her people to talk to that she isn’t dependent on and hopefully to let her guard down around. However, any attempt to get her come along on patrols or similar hijinks will be severely frowned upon. I trust that we are clear on that, Aegis?”

Aegis nodded somberly, “Yes ma’am.”

The Under Secretary cut in quickly. “Putting aside the powers discussion, this is a remarkable moment in history. Our first true alien encounter, and our first interactions with another intelligent species. Given how the world seems to work, I would have never bet on such a first encounter being friendly. Let’s not do anything that could change that. I know the initial projections don’t look good for the feasibility for contacting her home dimension, but imagine if we pull it off. The world would never be the same. I’ve got to run. Presidents to brief and a dozen crises, none of which are nearly as pleasant as the one that just left. Keep me in the loop.” With that her screen clicked off. Marian picked up where the Under Secretary left off.

“I’ll let the Secretary plan possible first contact, the Wards handle acclimation, and the Chief Director handle the ramifications of what Ms. Sparkle talked about. I’ll just note two things. The first is that I agree with Ms. Yamada’s notes in referring to Twilight as a likely prodigy. So here’s a recommendation: don’t expose her even tangentially to anything you don’t want her to know or work out, because she strikes me as someone that could pull a sweater string until she has a ball of yarn then knit a new sweater for herself. The second thing is that this secret is going to be blown, and soon. Too many people know, too many peoples assistant’s know, and she was out on the street for god knows how long last night. If you want to get in front of this thing I would have a press statement out before tomorrow morning at the latest, and that might be too late. I’ll keep an eye on the boards. I might be able to give five or ten minutes warning before it hits the media.”

Director Piggot sighed, but nodded. “That’s…Inconvenient. Thank you for the analysis Marian. John, if you could do what you can to prepare for a press blitz without informing any more people in the meantime?” John nodded his assent. “Good, thank you. Chief Director I assume you will want to coordinate with that State Department for the press conference. Is there anything more you need from us here?”

“No, I think that’s all. I have some people to brief myself, so I’ll let you get to it. Thank you everyone. Emily, I’ll give you a call in an hour or two to go over some things.”

“I’ll be here.” With that Director Costa-Brown’s screen went blank. “Okay, let’s pack this up. Carlos, you can go ahead and brief the wards that are onsite, but warn them that if one word of this leaks, they wont see anything but the inside of the console room in Alaska until they turn eighteen. Clear?” Carlos nodded as he stood, the four of them filing back out into the hallway and locking the door behind them.

They boarded the elevator together and Aegis suffered through the familiar awkwardness of sharing a confined space with one’s superiors until they departed on the third floor. He stayed on till the tenth and, after walking down what he still felt was an excessively chromed hallway, leaned forward for a retinal scan that, after a moment, admitted him into the large dome shaped room that was the home to the Brockton Bay Wards.

Vista and Gallant were both sitting at computers on the far side of the open area, while he could hear Clockblocker giving an off-color commentary to some daytime television program from the doorway that lead to their meeting room. He knew Kid Win was home for the day.

“Hey, either of you seen Shadow Stalker?”

Vista turned from her screen with a grimace. “Yeah, miss smiles-a-lot is taking a shower. What’s up?”

Before he could answer Clockblocker came out of the press room and interjected. “Uh-oh. Boss has his serious face on. That means serious things are happening. I hate it when serious things happen.”

“I have a serious face?” He asked, momentarily distracted by the statement.

“You kinda do.” Vista said. “So, whats going on?”

“I need a few minutes to put something together for a briefing, and I’d rather only go through it once. So when Shadow Stalker gets done with her shower catch her and tell her to hang around. Meeting in thirty.”

Clockblocker sighed dramatically as Carlos started walking towards the partition that marked his private space.

“I knew it. A briefing means something to be briefed about. Things that we get briefed about are never good things.”

Just before he shut the door to his room he heard Vista respond. “Not every briefing is bad.”

“Name one.”

“..Ok, you might have something this time.”

Forty-five minutes later he was standing beside a podium with a list of facts being projected onto the screen at the back of the room. Vista was staring incredulously at him while Stalker’s perpetual scowl was fighting with disbelief. Gallant seemed to be trying to maintain a neutral expression, while Clockblocker had finally stopped saying ‘bullshit’ and had now transitioned into asking questions in an ever more agitated tone.

Carlos was trying so hard not to smile.

“So you’re saying there’s an alien in the building.”


“You’re saying there’s an alien in the building that can teleport.”


“You’re saying there’s an alien in the building that can teleport, and can lift several tons off the ground.”


“You’re saying there’s an alien in the building that can teleport, lift several tons, and can rearrange matter at will.”


“Why exactly are we not supposed to be freaking out about this? Cause ya know, it sort of sounds like the thing people should freak out about.” Several other heads in the room nodded at this, and Aegis finally let go and donned a shit-eating grin. He clicked a remote to advance to the next slide in the presentation.

“Meet Twilight Sparkle. A monster sure to haunt all your dreams tonight.”

Silence reigned for a moment before Shadow Stalker broke it with a succinct, “You’ve got to be shitting me.” Aegis laughed and started to hand out a small file folders to everyone there. Gallant was laughing, his power having let him in on the joke, if not its punchline.

Stalker started to absently flip through the packet while Clockblocker gave Aegis a good natured shove. “You ass.”

Vista had begun reading as soon as the packet was in her hand, a smile growing the farther into the packet she got. “This is so cool,” she murmured.

Aegis gave them all a few minutes to look it over before continuing. “So, here’s the deal boys and girls. This is the real deal, first contact, President is a phone call away situation. Twilight’s had a rough time, has been separated from everyone she’s ever known, and to top it off her introduction to the human race was Lung. Think about that for a minute.” He paused to let them do just that, then continued. “In short, she needs some friends, and we’ve been drafted.”

Shadow Stalker tossed her copy of the file onto the floor in front of her and didn’t look impressed. “You’ve got to be shitting me. We’re not a fucking day care center. If she’s from another planet or whatever how are we even supposed to fucking talk to her. Doesn’t the government have like, a base in the desert or something for this kind of shit?”

“Some aspect of her power is allowing her to talk with us, and I’m not shitting you. I’m telling you Chief Director Costa-Brown was in the meeting and extended every courtesy. The most powerful people on the planet are taking Ms. Sparkle very seriously. So, if you don’t think you can be civil you should probably keep your distance. They are putting a lot of trust in us. People much higher up the food chain are going to be dealing with the fallout, the politics, media, and all of that BS. But we are the ones that are going to be spending the most time with her, and we are the people that are going to be showing her what it is humanity is about. Let’s not screw that up.”

“We’re boned.” Clockblocker deadpanned, causing Vista to laugh before her face became serious.

“How is she doing, with the whole, you know, everything?”

“She’s an alien, so no one is really sure. She’s keeping it together, but the shrinks think she’s probably pretty emotionally fragile at the moment. Which brings me back to my presentation. Now, part of the reason I went over her powers before showing you what she looks like is so you would remember what you were feeling before her appearance could disarm you. She’s the real deal, and in the wrong state of mind she could be real dangerous. Keep it in mind. That all being said, I liked her. I think she’s good people. Pony. Whatever. So, we are going to do our best to help her get through this. Any questions?”

“Yeah, what kind of fucking name is Twilight Sparkle?” Shadow Stalker grumbled as she stood up from her chair.

“Cast no stones ’Shadow Stalker.’” Clockblocker said, matching the scornful tone Stalker had put into the aliens name. She turned sharply towards him, but when Carlos stepped between them she stopped and instead just gave Clock the bird.

“Yeah, I already know I’m not going to be on team diplomacy. Don’t think I didn’t catch that little bit earlier Carlos, so I’ll see you losers later.”

“One last thing.” Carlos said and Stalker paused at the door, tension in every aspect of her posture. “Director Piggot mentioned something about permanent assignment to Alaska if any of us mentions any of this before they have a press conference.”

“Fucking PR. Who’d believe this shit anyway.” She left the room and a minute later he heard the security door open and close again.

Meanwhile, Clockblocker had walked up beside him. He leaned his head against Carlos’ shoulder and sighed in a dreamy voice. “There goes our little ray of sunshine.” Which caused him and everyone else in the room to laugh.

He shoved Clockblocker away, careful not to use to much force. “Get off you goof. The whole line about being able to be diplomatic goes for you too you know. Please refrain from causing the first inter-dimensional war with a poor chosen attempt at humor.”

Clockblocker stiffened and gave an english salute. “You can count on me sah”

The response, remarkably, did not make Carlos feel any better about introducing Clock to the alien. There was nothing for it, however. If he didn’t bring Clockblocker along now, he would just go on his own later, and heaven only knew what he would get up to unsupervised.

“Ok, they want to give her a little time to tour the building and settle into her quarters. How about we all head up there an hour before the scheduled patrol tonight?”

“Sounds good,” Gallant said.

“I can do that,” Vista replied and then vanished through the doorway with a quick use of her power.

“See you there boss,” Clockblocker said and put a hand on his shoulder. The next thing he knew he was alone in the room and all the lights had been shut off. He chuckled but mentally added it to the list of reasons to put Clock on monitor duty so he didn’t have to do it himself. Paybacks were a bitch.

A couple of hours later he was adding yet another notation to that mental list when he noticed Clockblocker had moved and Vista was well into braiding Twilight’s mane. Things that had not been true a moment ago, at least for him and Gallant. Gallant apparently came to the same conclusion as him and hastily stepped back to give them both space to observe the room. Also to surreptitiously check for any traces of permeant marker drawings on their persons. As they did so, they drifted back towards the door so they could talk without interrupting the scene in front of them.

Clockblocker seemed to be trying to comprehend what Twilight had been writing on the board while Vista worked on the unicorn’s hair. “So, what does this part mean?”

“That set of equations is the first part of how one could derive one’s location in space-time based on the @#$%$@ and the magic field resonance between $@$%@ and local gravimetric forces.”

Clockblocker nodded sagely, as if he had simply seeking confirmation for his own thoughts. “Yes, yes I think I see what you mean.” Carlos couldn’t contain a small bark of laughter at that, and he heard Gallant chuckle beside him.

“Times like this he almost makes you forget that you’ve already worked out how you would hide his body.” Gallant said quietly as the two of them watched the scene from the doorway.

“He knows how to walk the line alright.” Carlos agreed. “Picking anything up from our guest?”

Gallant nodded. “Yes…it’s different, and complicated. Lots of stuff swirling around, not really surprising. It feels like she’s happy for the company however, at least on the surface.”

“I’ll take it. Alright, let’s go be friendly. We can’t let Clockblocker be humanity’s main impression on first contact.”

Forty minutes later, after having learned entirely to much about hairstyles and either entirely to little or to much about theoretical physics, he noticed Clockblocker leaning up against the door frame to the room with a small frown on his face. Getting up while Twilight’s attention was focused on Vista’s hair he walked over to him.

Clock almost seemed to be staring through the scene in front of him. Gallant, Vista, and Twilight were having a good spirited conversation punctuated intermittently by Vista giggling as the unicorn braided her hair with telekinesis. Over the past year, Vista had put a lot of effort into trying to shed her image as the kid sister of the wards, but given the cover of fostering inter-galactic or inter-dimensional relations she was letting herself have fun. It was striking seeing her really relaxed for the first time in months.

“Whats up Clock? Figured you’d still be busy corrupting the alien.”

Clockblocker shifted a little so that he could face Aegis and still see into the room. “Just wondering where the bag of shit is.”

Carlos felt his face take on a puzzled frown. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that this is reality, and everything awesome comes with a bag of shit. Superpowers come with triggers, Scion comes with Endbringers, and Doritos have trans-fats.” He paused and gestured to the scene again. Vista was blushing at something Gallant had said and Twilight was clopping her fore hooves together with a smile on her equine face. “That, that right there, is awesome. So, what I’m wondering is, where’s the bag of shit?”

Interlude 4 - Taylor

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Interlude 3 - Taylor

Taylor walked towards school. It felt strange to do so. Hours ago she had been a life or death fight with a supervillain, met a fairy tale, and been thanked by a rival gang of villains she had unwittingly helped. The two hours of sleep she had gotten didn’t help with the feeling of unreality. She had nearly died last night and now she was worrying about the kind of trouble she was going to get in for skipping class on Friday. That was ridiculous, but she couldn’t stop the anxious dread that crept up on her as walked into school.

First period was computer class, and normally the one bright spot in her day. None of her tormenters were in it, and she did well enough that most of the time she could do what she wanted with the hour. However, the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop didn’t subside as the teacher gave her a tight smile and she made her way to her computer. Deciding to make some productive use of her time before finding out whatever fresh hell school had in store for her, she began digging for information about what happened last night.

Parahumans Online was the place to go for information and discussion about capes all over the world. The front page had major news from all over the world, with links to a wiki and message boards that focused on particular groups or cities. Taylor drilled down to the Brockton Bay message board and opened it and the wiki in new tabs. She decided to start with the weirdest thing about last night, the teleporting purple unicorn.

Searching for “Twilight Sparkle” didn’t return anything and searches for “Twilight” or “Sparkle” returned to many erroneous links to search through. “Unicorn” came up with entries asking if she had meant “Narwhal”, a famous Canadian cape that had a large horn growing out of her forehead who could project forcefields. Dismissing that she went to “teleportation” and pulled up the list of capes known to have that power. When that didn’t pan out she went to “projection,” even though Tattletale had said the unicorn wasn’t, and came up empty as well.

Frustrated she decided to move on. “Tattletale” produced an article with a blurry picture and not much else. “Grue” finally got some results. It said he had been active in Brockton Bay for three years, starting with petty crime and being an occasional enforcer for hire. Recently he had moved up to larger crimes, robbing a few corporate offices and a casino with his new team. His power was listed as darkness generation, but the site didn’t provide any further details on it.

“Bitch” returned no results, but the more PC “Hellhound” delivered a full page of information. Rachel Lindt had apparently never made an attempt to hide her identity and had spent most of her criminal career homeless and moving on whenever the police or a cape started to pursue her. Her powers had manifested at fourteen and had resulted in her destroying the foster home she was in and injuring the people there. Looking under the powers section it didn’t appear she had any physical enhancements, but she could turn ordinary dogs into the giant beasts that had torn into Lung and provided them their quick getaway last night. A red box at the bottom of her page warned that she was antisocial and violent, and if seen you should not approach her.

“Regent” came up with nothing at all. Just a page asking if she would like to create the entry. Digging into the message boards didn’t uncover anything either. For a group that had apparently angered Lung enough for him to set out to murder them it was a depressingly little amount of information. And Frustrating, which didn’t help the dark mood Taylor was already in.

She took a few minutes to do the busy work that had been assigned for today, she wasn’t in a mood to do more than the bare minimum required, and 15 minutes later she was back on the boards looking for more information. When she had decided to become a superhero she had researched the local villains, wanting to be prepared for who she could run into. So it didn’t take long to navigate to the page for Lung and his gang. His description and powers seemed pretty accurate to her own experiences, it didn’t mention his being fireproof, but Taylor wasn’t inclined to add that fact from her high school terminal.

The ABB had about 40 regular members and two lieutenants that Taylor supposed she should be on the look out for. Oni Lee and Bakuda. Oni Lee could teleport, but not like the purple unicorn had done last night. When he teleported he left behind a copy of himself that lasted a few seconds before dissolving. Apparently he used this ability to distract and attack people while his new self appeared somewhere else. His page also had a red warning box similar to Hellhound's saying that he was a sociopath and should not be approached. He wore an ornate Japanese demon mask and his costume made him look like a well armed ninja. Lee would be a tough bastard to fight, and Taylor made a mental note to think of ways to go about doing it just in case.

Bakuda’s entry was new, having only been added to ABB’s page ten days ago. The picture showed a girl with straight black hair wearing goggles and a gas mask style filter over the bottom of her face. She had made her debut as a villain holding Cornell University ransom. Apparently her power gave her the ability to craft high tech bombs with various effects.

Moving down the page a section titled “Defeats and Captures” had a string of minor defeats the local heroes had managed against Lung while being unable to actually capture him. The bottom of this section however had a large new entry.

Lung defeated by an a rival gang and unknown villain.

The Protectorate East-North-East reported this morning (4/12/11) that the supervillain Lung was ambushed and defeated by previously unknown villain with some degree of control over insects. After being weakened by this new cape a group called the Undersiders arrived on the scene and member Hellhound finished incapacitating Lung with her dogs. When Armsmaster, the leader of the Brockton Bay Protectorate, arrived at the scene Lung was unconscious and the other villains had already departed. A first hand witness to the battle brawl stepped forward and briefed the hero on the battle. Lung has been taken into custody at PHQ where he awaits trial by teleconference, if found guilty he is expected to be sentenced to the birdcage.

Taylor felt her heart rate star to speed up as she read. Everyone thought she was a villain! She searched the message boards and sure enough found dozens of pages speculating on who she was and how her powers could have enabled her to defeat Lung. Two days into her career as a superhero and somehow she was already a notorious supervillain! Taking a deep breath she willed herself to calm down. She wasn’t sure how she was going to deal with the situation but panicking about it wasn’t going to help.

She opened more tabs and found people speculating about a gang war, apparent minions or villain fans of Lung vowing revenge on the newcomer, and speculation on whether Bakuda would try to use a bomb to ransom Lung out of prison. All of this was going on, and here she was sitting in class. It was insane. Twilight had obviously filled the Protectorate in, but she hadn’t had the full story. On a whim she searched the message boards for “Twilight Sparkle” and was surprised when she got a hit in the connections section.

Subject: Ta

So things are pretty crazy, but owe you one and would like to return the favor. Could discuss our mutual acquaintance Twilight Sparkle.

Send a message,


Taylor suppressed a gasp, Tattletale had found a way to get in touch with her. She looked at the clock and hurriedly closed out of the tabs and cleared the history. The bell was about to ring and her least favorite class with some of her least favorite people was about to start.


Taylor fled from the school, fresh tears marks on her face. Angry at Emma for finding a new low in her quest to torment her and even more angry at herself for letting Emma get to her. Emma, Sophia, and her friends had been harassing her for months and while nothing had been as bad as the incident that lead to her powers they were starting to escalate again. Like before the teachers and the administration were proving just as useless this time around. To top it off her planned escape from this, becoming a superhero, had been halted before she even began. Before she even really thought about where she was going, she was already most of the way downtown.

She wasn’t that surprised her feet had lead her here, the only two real nice areas of town within walking distance of her school were the boardwalk and downtown. If she was going to skip, this was as good a place as any to go on a day with good weather. Not wanting to deal with what had happened to her at school her thoughts turned towards her cape life. Everyone thought she was a villain and that she was making some sort of play on the ABB. Another group of villains wanted to meet with her, and she had been informed on by a purple unicorn. The irony that this was easier to deal with than her school life was not lost on her.

Still, she was proud of what she had accomplished last night. On her first night out in costume she had taken down Lung! Someone the Protectorate had been trying to take down for years. That thought led to one that stopped her in her tracks. ‘Do I really want to join such an ineffective organization?” The thought was harsh, she knew that they did do some good, but it was also undeniably true. The more she thought about that the more she agreed with it. Her mind flashed back to what had just happened at school, and how little help the system seemed to be for the people that really needed it. Did she really have any reason to believe that the Protectorate was any different? The city had plenty of heroes, but life hadn’t improved much for the people that lived here.

Everyone already thought she was a villain, and that wasn’t likely to change in the near future. So could she leverage that perception? Last night she had demonstratively helped the city by, however unwittingly, teaming up with some lesser villains against a greater one. Could she keep doing that? Stay off the heroes radar, play villains off each other, support the less destructive against the true crazies and assholes? Really actually make a fucking difference in people’s lives? She started walking again, heading for the library. Each step she took was a little more confident than that last.

When she got there the lunch crowd was starting to clear out so it didn’t take long for her to get a computer and pull up the message from Tattletale. With only a slight hesitation she typed a reply and sent it.

Subject: Re: Ta

Ta here. Would like to meet, do you have proof your Tt? I can reciprocate if needed.

Taylor surfed around the message boards, mostly idly while she waited for a response. The rumor mill was going full speed, but it didn’t look like anything new was coming from it at the moment. The reply came surprisingly quick, only a few minutes after she sent the message.

Subject: Re: Ta

Proof? Last night you weren’t very talkative. When G asked what happened I let him know what you and our lost girl TS had done. Good enough? G R and me will meet you where we crossed paths. Formal wear optional, the three of us will be dressed casual.

3 o’clock give you enough time to get from the library with everything you need? Let me know.

Ta ta. ;)

Taylor’s eyes widened and her pulse picked up speed. How had Tattletale known where she was? Was she some sort of expert hacker? She knew her way around computers well enough, but also knew enough to know that she didn’t know all that much when it came to that kind of thing. 'Screw it,' with everything else going on the idea that she was dealing with a hacker wasn’t that much more wood on the fire. That Tattletale had said that would be meeting without costumes did surprise her. They obviously didn’t think she was much of a threat, wanted to earn her trust with a show of their own, or both.

Didn’t matter, this was just the in she needed if she was going to start putting the plan she had been thinking about on the way here into action. She didn’t know what she was getting herself involved in, had no real idea if her scheme could work, all the same she felt the best she had all day when she replied.

Subject: Re: Ta

See you at three.


Taylor swung by her house and donned her costume and then put some over sized jeans and a sweatshirt on over it. Throwing her mask into a backpack with a bottle of water she hopped a bus headed in the right direction and got off about five blocks from the meeting place. She ran into a rundown connivence store to make a purchase. After exiting the store she slipped into an ally to put on her mask and then pulled the hood of her sweatshirt up. Unless someone looked right at her face she wouldn’t look out of place on the street. While Tattletale had said they would be showing up without costumes, she didn’t have any reason to trust them that far, and it wouldn’t play into the plan she had worked out either.

Taylor scouted ahead with her bugs and it wasn’t hard to find the three people standing on the roof. Putting her foot on the bottom rung of the fire escape she had a last minute surge of trepidation. ‘What the hell am I doing?’ She willed herself past it and climbed to the roof. When she got there she recognized them right off, a girl and two guys. The girl was green eyed and freckled wearing a T-shirt and a denim skirt. The younger of the two guys had to be regent, looked italian, and put off the kind of vibe you might get from a pretty boy. Dicapcrio lite. The other was a foot taller, dark skinned and had his hair in corn rows. She let her gaze linger for a moment, he looked like he spent a lot time in the gym.

“And she arrives,” Tattletale crowed, “Pay up.”

Regent didn’t look happy as he pulled a wad of bills out his pocket and handed them over to Tattletale.

The bigger boy extended his hand and Taylor shook it as he introduced himself.

“I’m Brian.”

“You can keep calling me Ta for now, until we settle what this is about.”

“Cool.” Tattletale introduced herself next.

“Lisa,” seeming friendly but not offering her hand.

“Alec, and Bitch is Rachel.” Regent said.

Taylor decided that if she was going to pull off her new personality she would need to show some initiative. She spoke before they could continue.

“Okay, you wanted to meet me, and you wanted to meet me enough that your trusting me with your identities, or at least you want to appear as though you are. I’m afraid I’m a little suspicious given that the only thing we seem to have in common is an enemy in the ABB.”

Brian opened his mouth then closed it again, Lisa stepped forward with a plastic lunchbox.

“I said we owed you. All yours, no strings attached.”

Taylor took the lunchbox and popped the lid. It was filled with cash.

“Two grand,” Lisa said, while Taylor looked it over. She resisted the urge to smile, perfect. Instead she nodded and shut the clasps back on the lunchbox. “You have two options. You can take that as a gift. A thank you for, intentionally or not, saving our ass from Lung. Maybe a bit of incentive to count us among your friends when your capering about. Its rare for villains in the same city not to clash over something, so it would be nice if we could avoid that.”

“And the second option?” Taylor replied.

“You can take it as your first months payment as a member of the Undersiders.” She waved a hand indicating the three of them. Taylor took a moment, steadied herself and put her plan into motion. She knew villains wouldn’t accept her goals at face value, so she had come up with a way for them to relate to her.

“Thank you, but no. Last night raised my profile pretty high, higher than I’d like. I did some research and you guys seem like your about to make a splash. With everything going on I feel wet enough already.” Lisa looked flabbergasted, obviously she hadn’t expected that response, and Taylor continued. “I have a third option to propose. I attacked Lung, well I’ll be honest, mostly it was a misunderstanding. But I also attacked him because he’s an asshole that makes people’s lives miserable. Like I said I did some research on you guys and that doesn’t seem to be your thing. So take this.”

Taylor extended her hand to Tattletale who still seemed to be trying to catch up and put a folded piece of paper into her hand. “Thats a number you can reach me on. You know what I can do. If you need assistance in the future and it’s not going to make the people suffering in this city suffer any more, call me and we’ll work something out on a case by case basis. Fees variable depending on the assistance needed and who’s involved.” With a bit of whimsy that bubbled up from underneath the stress of the situation she added in a light tone. “Tell your friends.”

“Fucking shit.” Alec exclaimed, “You’re not a villain, you’re a vigilante.”

“Hmm, not a vigilante - more like a mercenary, with morals.” Brian looked at Tattletale, who seemed to have come back to herself. She shook her head as if to clear it, looked down at the paper in her hand and spoke up before he could.

“So what do we call you, if we call you?”

“I guess you can call me Skitter.”

3 - Realizations

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Twilight rested her fore hooves against the window and stared down at the street below. News vans with huge dishes on telescoping poles filled it for no reason that Twilight could fathom. It had been two days since the press conference and they had all been told she wouldn’t be doing any more interviews.

They had flown her to a city called New York. This made her add, “Where is original York?” to her ever growing checklist of non-priority things she wanted to know. Nearly the entire trip had been through the air, in a succession of marvelous aircraft that used nothing but mechanical engines and aerodynamics to achieve lift. Without an iota of enchanting or magical assistance they had flown her from the roof to a large paved airfield just outside the city. From there they had boarded a “jet” which traveled at a truly astounding speed and when it had landed they herded her onto another “helicopter” to finally arrive at a place called the United Nations.

It had all been quite nerve racking. She didn’t understand the politics but apparently finding out that the United States, which she discovered was the name of the country she landed in, had been talking with her had upset the other countries. Not wanting to cause any problems for the people that had been so nice to her, she asked if there was anything she could do to help.

Helping had consisted of meeting what had felt like everypony on the planet and telling them all the same thing. That she had arrived here by accident, that she had been treated very kindly, that she hand’t signed any treaties of any kind, that even if she had she wasn’t a diplomat so they wouldn’t have been binding. She had assured them the Princess Celestia was a kind and benevolent ruler and if a way was found to establish contact she would probably be very happy to talk with each country in turn regardless of where her student had ended up. She didn’t think all the people she talked to had believed her.

Her horn still throbbed from recasting the polyphonic spell so many times, but the Americans had told her that talking in each country’s language was one of the things she could do to make them less upset. Finally late in the night they had setup a small room with a podium and several of their motion cameras. She gave a short speech telling the people of the world that while she wanted to get home she was grateful for the welcome they had given her and hoped that they could learn a lot from each other during her stay. Afterwards she had requested to be taken back to the room they had setup for her in Brockton Bay. This had elicited forced smiles from some of the diplomats, but she had been far to tired to care at that point.

When she had woken up the next morning she had found her door guarded by two knights in blue armor called “Peacekeepers.” What looked like a guard station and what the humans called a “check point” had been assembled at the end of the hall was manned by more knights in various styles of armor and clothing. Asking why all of this was necessary had not led to any satisfactory answer. When they tried to stop Vista from visiting her this morning she had to put her hoof down and tell them very clearly that she had been enjoying their company and the Wards were to be allowed in at any time, thank you very much just the same.

The whole thing was frustrating and annoying on so many levels. Now people wanted to speak with her all the time about things she either didn’t know or didn’t really care about. She was not a diplomat, she could only be considered a representative of Equestria in the loosest terms, and all of this was cutting into her research time! With a huff she settled back on all four hooves and turned away from the window to look at her whiteboard.

The biggest discovery she had made in the past few days was the humans near complete lack of knowledge about magic. Only the barest fraction of them could use it and when she observed those that could it had felt wrong and obscured somehow. Something about it had almost pulled one of those elusive memories up from the depths before she lost her grip on it. From an early age she had been able to see a spell cast and have a near instant intuitive understanding, if not skill in it. Twilight didn’t understand these parahuman spells nearly so well and it bothered her more than she cared to admit. She remembered the befuddled or annoyed looks of the other unicorns in school when she had explained something and felt a newfound empathy with them. The confusion went both ways as even the humans that could cast seemed completely blind to the field. Both the humans and the machines they had used to try and detect it. She had struggled to explain the details to ponies that felt it and had been immersed in it from birth, how was she supposed to explain it to the humans?

She imagined it was like trying to teach a blind person to paint. If the blind person didn’t speak the same language and was also required to supply their own materials. It didn’t help that she suspected some of the people she talked to didn’t really believe her. Not that she particularly blamed them for that. The more she tried the more holes appeared in her translated speech. Every way all around on every front it was frustrating. The last attempt had sent the newest parahuman researcher she had been speaking to fleeing from her room when she had accidentally incinerated one of her notebooks. That had been when she decided to take a break and look out at the city for awhile. She looked again at the white board then sighed. Her mind was too cluttered right now to focus on it.

She wandered out into the hall and walked down to the check point. The guards in the castle had always been friendly and if they were going to be spending so much time together she should at least try and get to know them. When she approached she noticed that four of them had gathered towards on end of a desk and were listening to a radio with interest.

“Hi guys, whats up?” Trying her best casual and friendly voice. They were so serious all the time that is was hard to tell how they were feeling at any given moment. Lieutenant Matthews, who she had been informed was the day shift commander, answered her question.

“Someone’s robbing a bank.”

Twilight cocked an ear towards the radio as her eyes widened, wondering if maybe her translation spell had an error. ‘Robbing a bank? In a major city?’ She tried to wrap her head around the idea. While Equestria certainly hadn’t eliminated crime, petty theft and burglary still happened even in Canterlot, pony on pony violence was rare and usually confined to newly settled frontier towns and wild lands. Pony communities tended to be tight knit, interconnected, and interdependent. They responded quickly and decisively if someone visited violence on one of their number. The idea that this huge modern city with it’s knights, guardsmen, and infrastructure had a bank that was being robbed in broad daylight boggled her.

Details about the robbery started to come in. It sounded like a number of bank employees and patrons were being held hostage in the building by an unknown number of criminals. The newsman speculated that the robbery had been planned at this specific time to take advantage of the Protectorate being outside of the city today. Parahumans were suspected to be involved and a general alert had been sent out. Some of the local wards had arrived on scene and PRT squads were being dispatched. The man on the radio kept speaking, but she didn’t process much beyond “local wards responding.”

Twilight had initially categorized her encounter with Lung as a monster attack, both from his appearance and his actions. He hadn’t come off as a rational being and the unicorn had plenty of experience with magically enhanced wildlife purposefully or accidentally threatening a town or city. However this new information clicked into place along with several things she had heard in passing to form a disturbing new picture. Lung was less like a beast from the everfree and more like an evil unicorn. Correspondingly this world’s society was less like modern Equestria and more resembled the three tribes era. During that time not only had the three tribes fought each other, ponies of the same tribe had fought amongst each other for power and resources. Twilight shivered as she overlaid what she was hearing on the radio with this image of the world. Her new….friends, were out there in a dangerous situation probably facing hostile magic cast by someone like Lung, or worse.

“Lieutenant Matthews, Is the bank nearby?” A slight waver of worry in her voice. Matthews looked at her with a puzzled frown before responding in a reassuring tone.

“It’s about three blocks north of here, but don’t worry. Their not likely to cause any trouble here, and if they did you have the PRT below and us up here to protect you.” Twilight paused to consider this, looked at the knights around her and then at the radio again.

“It’s your mission to protect me right?” Twilight asked and Matthews nodded. “I think I understand more now about why you were assigned to me, and why knights of so many different orders are part of my detail. So I just want to apologize in advance.” The Lieutenant stiffened and moved his arm as if to reach towards her. “But the wards have been really nice to me, and I’m going to go help them.” With that Twilight glowed purple for a fraction of a second and winked out of existence.

“Fuck! O’Brian, Khan, Lee - We’re moving out. Adams maintain post and wake up night shift, I want them on scene as soon as possible.” With that Matthews slung a heavy backpack with a hose attachment onto his back and ran for the stairwell, the others just behind.


With a bright flash Twilight materialized on the street just in front of PRT headquarters and two dozen telephoto lens from the media contingent tracked in her direction. The sound of camera shutters was starting to fill the air as Twilight oriented herself and then flashed out of existence once again.

Twilight Sparkle reappeared on top of a parked car a half block from the bank. Chaos reigned. Rubble was strewn everywhere and a unnatural darkness covered the road in front of her. Twilight could sense the field being twisted there and while the mechanics of the spell eluded her she could tell it was altering light and sound in the area under its influence. Beyond the effect she could see Kid win using a levitating platform and casting some sort of beam at the street below. Then she noticed what he was shooting at. Two huge mutant dogs had their jaws locked on Aegis’s arms and legs and were shaking him violently between them, blood sprayed in an arc from the dogs mouths and splattered onto the street around them.

“Aegis!” Twilight shrieked in horror, her horn glowing before she finished his name. She was horrified at the sight, but didn’t lose her focus. She needed to be careful in order to avoid hurting Aegis even more than he already was. With slowly increasing force she Telekinetically pried the dog’s jaws from him and only once the teeth were clear did she give into her first instinct and hurl the animals down the empty street. Twilight heard an enraged yell come from the direction of the bank just before she was enveloped in a dark miasma.

Twilight suddenly found herself unable to see or hear and the world threatened to tilt from under her without a frame of reference. Trying not to let the lack of sensation distract her she closed her eyes and focused on what she had seen before being blinded. The placement of the cars and rubble, bystanders and combatants. Carefully rebuilding the street in her mind she pictured where she wanted to go and mentally crossed her hooves that her mental landscape was close enough. A few seconds later she appeared by Aegis side. “Oh Aegis,” Twilight moaned in despair as she looked him over. She had never seen a pony as physically injured as he was. She knew basic first aid and that knowledge seemed woefully inadequate even had Aegis been a pony. The unicorn nervously shuffled from hoof to hoof as she started to construct small fields of pressure over the largest wounds. “Don’t worry Aegis, don’t worry we’ll get you to a doctor and it will be alright, it will be alright.” A hysterical tone creeping into her voice as she worked.


Information officer Marian May and Director Piggot sat in the PRT’s ops center and stared at images of the ongoing battle.

“I think we just found the flaw in the idea of socializing Twilight with the wards.”



Kid Win, no longer needing to worry about hitting his team mate, raced by and started to rain more beams down on the dogs as they attempted to get back to their feet. Aegis mumbled incoherently with a voice shaped as much by liquid as air. Twilight knew that you were not supposed to move someone that was as injured as he was, but she felt way to exposed in the center of the street between the darkness, the bank, and the dogs. Gently she levitated Aegis to the side of the building across the street from the bank and sheltered by a set of stone stairs. After easing him back to the ground she was shocked to see Aegis try to struggle into a sitting position and ignore her efforts to keep him still. With the arm that hadn’t been quite as mauled he gestured to the cloud of darkness and gurgled what sounded like “Vista.”

Twilight worriedly shifted her eyes from Aegis to the darkness covered street. She shuddered again at sight of the wounds, the unicorn wasn’t even sure how he was still conscious. She was afraid if she lost her concentration and didn’t keep up the telekinetic pressure on Aegis’s injuries he would die before any other help arrived. On the other hand she had no idea what was happening to Vista in that miasma. She didn’t know what to do! If she had a little time to stop, to plan, but she didn’t and her friends were going to die and it would be her fault for not being good enough or smart enough to save them. Her heart ached in some unremembered sympathy that compounded the feeling.

A few seconds the decision was taken from her when the front doors of the bank burst open and another mutant dog barreled directly towards her.

The giant dog heading straight for Twilight didn’t give her much chance to think, and she was already casting several small fields of telekinetic force so it was no surprise that her instinctive reaction was to continue that spell. A twenty foot square shimmering plane of force materialized directly in front of the charging mutant. With a sicking crunch it collided with the field and collapsed to the ground. Before the animal could recover Twilight rolled the plane into a half cylinder and then shaped that cylinder into a dome barely larger than the dog and anchored it to the ground around it.

Kid Win seemed to being doing alright holding the other two dogs at bay, although Twilight noted that the property destruction around him was starting to reach new heights. The facades of several nearby buildings were little more than rubble at this point. She heard some yelling from inside the bank, but for the moment nothing was trying to eat her so she turned her eyes on the dark miasma that Aegis said Vista was trapped in. Twilight knew how disorienting it was having only been inside it for a few seconds, but she didn’t have time to examine it and fashion a proper counter spell. Hoping that Vista was simply lost inside and not injured Twilight began to craft a solution.

Given the ongoing battle and the fact she was maintaing a dozen telekinetic fields of varying properties and strength it wasn’t the easiest thing she had ever done. Remembering the weightless feeling she had experienced she guessed that it applied a moderate lessening of gravity. As it was easier to augment an existing effect than counter it she slowly strengthened the antigravity portion of the spell until pieces of rubble and gravel started to tumble out of the east side of the cloud. Twilight gasped in relief when a scuffed but intact Vista rolled out accompanied by the patter of rubble and litter from the street falling back to the ground.

The distance between Vista and Twilight shrank down to a few feet and were this another time and place Vista would have been subjected to an hours long interrogation on the details. As it was she was to relieved and to busy being hugged by Vista to process it.

“Twilight was that you?! I was about to lose my mind in there.” Glancing past Twilight Vista saw Aegis laying behind her. “Aegis!” She shouted uncomfortably close to Twilight’s ear before stepping past the unicorn to kneel next to him. While Vista looked over Aegis the dark cloud dissipated, leading Twilight to assume whoever controlled it could sense that no one was left inside. She turned a suspicious glance towards the entrance of the bank. ‘Why hasn’t the human controlling the cloud recast it? Have I convinced them it won’t work, or are they plotting something new?’ When a shrill whistle came from the bank and the two dogs fighting Kid Win broke off and sprinted towards it, Twilight suspected the latter.

Kid Win pursued them raining destruction down onto the dogs and the street while the distance they had to travel lengthened dramatically as Vista stood back up and focused. Deciding that whatever the criminals in the bank had planned it was better if they didn’t have the dogs as well, Twilight quickly spoke to Vista.

“You have one of those miniature radios right?” When Vista nodded Twilight continued. “Tell Kid Win to stop chasing the dogs and when I give the signal reduce the space between the dogs and bank as much as possible.” Vista looked puzzled, but began murmuring into her headset and the glowing nimbus around Twilight’s horn started to increase in intensity again. Kid Win stopped and without his harassment the dogs increased their pace to try and cover the distance faster than it could expand.

“Now!” Twilight shouted as her horn flashed and the dogs barreled full speed into another plane of force that had appeared at the base of the steps. Twilight’s mental state was currently layered like a cake. An icing of calm crisis management was running the show for now and covered a spongy mass of worry and hysteria which itself rested on top of the other parts of her personality. Distantly she felt a smidgen of embarrassment bubble up from down there. Twilight prided herself on her knowledge and skill in a multitude of magical arts. Yet so far all she had really done was swing telekinesis, the simplest and most instinctive spell known to unicorns, around like a hammer. The dogs had no time to react and like the one she had captured earlier, crumpled at the base of the field. Twilight sighed as she began enfolding them in another force dome, ‘Celestia did always say there was beauty in simplicity.’ Not having moved, but now much closer, Kid Win flew over and hovered beside them facing the bank.

“Wow, ok, so first, Twilight, Vista, that was very cool. Second, we were all strictly forbidden from encouraging you to come along on any shenanigans so when Director Piggot asks I never said any of this. Third, thanks for coming, it was looking a little dicy there for a minute.” He said with a smile as Twilight alternatively looked relieved and embarrassed. She didn’t want to really think about the ramifications of her coming, but a deeper feeling in her chest when she looked at the three humans told her it had been the right decision regardless of the consequences. Vista slung around Twilight’s neck and the three of them contemplated what to do.

Twilight was just about to purpose retreating to a nearby roof and waiting for help when one of the bank doors slammed open and Bitch and Grue emerged. Bitch was standing in the partially opened doorway with one of Grue’s arms wrapped around her waist. She was screaming incoherently, kicking, biting, and was desperately trying to reach the dome nearest to her. Kid Win aimed his beam devices and Vista let go of Twilight and tensed beside her. Twilight cocked her ear and could make out sirens and helicopters heading in this direction. She had a feeling that if she didn’t act now something very bad was going to happen.

Then it did. A white blur descended from the sky and crashed into the bank’s front steps, before anyone could react she lifted Grue by his shirt and hurled him directly towards the Wards and Twilight. The unicorn had a moment to see Bitch start to run down the steps and the new girl rip one of the bank doors off its hinges before the high speed human projectile collided with Kid Win, knocking him off his board, but hardly slowing Grue before he slammed into the brick building behind them with an audible thump. Kid Win had landed on Twilight before she had even processed the whole event.

Screams came from inside the bank as Twilight drug herself from underneath Kid Win and back to her hooves. Kid Win wheezed beside her as she looked him over. Given how fast Grue had been moving and where he had hit Kid she suspected he had a couple of broken ribs. There was nothing she felt safe doing about that at the moment so she added it to her growing pile of worries to deal with later. She trotted over to Grue, he was a mess. One leg and both arms were visibly broken and he was likely only alive because of the helmet that was part of his costume. Again Twilight was at a loss and could do little more than check him for bleeding. Not feeling right about it she left him there and walked back up to Vista who was staring at the scene in front of her and looking just as lost on what to do as Twilight had.

Bitch was pounding frantically on one of the force domes while the dogs inside whined and tried to claw their way through it from the inside. People Twilight assumed were hostages were starting to flee from the bank and broke to either side of Bitch like a stream flowing around a boulder. An armored vehicle rounded the corner a block down the street and skidded to a stop. This seemed to snap Vista out of her indecision and she spoke rapidly to Twilight.

“I don’t know what set her off, but that was Glory girl that just crashed the party. I need to go inside and see if I can help her and make sure the hostages all get out ok.” Twilight gave her an emotion filled look and Vista hugged the unicorn quickly before continuing. “Don’t worry, Glory Girl’s a real powerhouse, any bad guys still in there are probably wishing they weren’t. I’ll be safe. When this is over we’re going to find a box of ice cream and a mindless movie to watch in your room. Keep the boys safe.” With that she crossed the distance in short power compressed hops to avoid the people on the street and ran into the bank.

A door opened in the side of the armored vehicle and it disgorged Lieutenant Matthews followed by the rest of his team. Two split off and ran towards the hysterical Bitch who only seemed to notice their presence after they had her mostly covered in what looked at like fire suppressant foam. The others raced over and bracketed Twilight between them. Matthews spoke into his radio and a knight she didn’t recognize stepped out of the transport with a large bag. He walked briskly in their direction and after looking Twilight over for a moment stepped past her to knell next to Aegis.

Twilight’s heart rate started to come down as she saw the knight open the bag and start to bandage Aegis’s wounds. And the calm she had managed to maintain during the battle started to break up and give way to the emotions beneath it. ‘Everything is going to be ok now, I didn’t fail, they are all going to be ok.’ More and more people and vehicles started to fill the area and slowly sought to establish order. Twilight trotted over to the medic that was attending to Aegis.

“Is he going to be ok? I did my best but I haven’t had any time to study your anatomy and all I could really do is staunch the obvious bleeding. Should we get one of those helicopters to fly him to a hospital? What about Kid Win? I’m not sure but I think he has some broken ribs.” The medic didn’t turn from his task of wrapping a bandage around Aegis’s torso and shot him a stern glare when Aegis looked to try and respond himself.

“He’s going to be fine, His power gives him extensive physical redundancy and an accelerated rate of healing. He’s still going to feel like he’s been chewed up and spit out for a couple of days, but other than that there is nothing to worry about Ms. Sparkle. After I finish this bandage I’ll check Win, but his breathing doesn’t sound like he has a punctured lung, so he’s probably ok.” She closed her eyes and “looked” at Aegis again, and did indeed find subtle flows of magic working through his body. Twilight took a deep breath and slowly released it letting herself calm down further as her biggest worries was settled. She felt an itch to start a checklist to note down all of the things she had been worrying about and make sure they were taken care of even as new ones were being added. Like the fact that Matthews hadn’t said anything to her since he arrived and she found herself unable to come up with something to say to him beyond what she had said before she left.

Vista walked back out of the bank along with the Girl that had thrown Grue and a shorter dark haired girl. Glory Girl looked furious while the dark haired girl looked frightened and nervous. Once Vista was close enough she hugged Twilight again and filled her in.

“Well, Tattletale and Regent escaped, but all the hostages seem ok and we got two of the jerks. I’m declaring this a victory. Celebratory sleepover tonight!”

A throat cleared behind her and Twilight took a steep back as she turned and saw the look on Director Piggot’s face. The Director pointedly swept her gaze over the entire street before speaking.

“Victory.” Piggot’s voice made the word sound like a curse. “I believe it is time we all made our way back to PRT headquarters, don’t you Ms. Sparkle?”


At the edge of her awareness Twilight had the idea that someone was trying to get her attention, but what she was watching was clearly more important so she ignored it without conscious thought. They were in a large vehicle heading back to PRT headquarters and Panacea was currently “healing” Aegis after having taken care of Kid Win. Twilight’s eyes were open but most of her attention was being paid to a sense that wasn’t sight, “watching” the complex and delicate dance of magic inside Aegis’s body. It was on the fly permanent transmutation inside a living being happening at the direction of someone that didn’t appear to be interacting with the magic at all.

Twilight ignored the latter part for now, as she had already seen this anomaly in everyone that cast magic in this world. Cells were repaired, tissue reconstructed and seamlessly attached to undamaged areas, organs put back together with nary a seam to show that anything had ever happened. Theoretically of course it was all possible, but only in the wildest fever dreams of pony kind. If Twilight transmuted something into an orange, it might look like an orange, it might taste like an orange, if she did everything right it might have the nutritional value of an orange, but on a molecular level it would look nothing like an actual orange. Instead of the natural organized chaos and diversity of real biological product, you would have the same structure replicated throughout, and getting the patterns and formula down to do even that was one of the most mentally taxing applications of magic in existence. What Panacea was doing would require the manipulation of a billion ever changing variables while simultaneously using enough force to ensure the altered matter retained its new pattern and didn’t revert. She wasn’t even breathing hard.

Without realizing it Twilight had started to pull more and more magic into alignment inside and around her as she unconsciously used it to “see” more, to quicken her perception of time, to watch the impossible and beautiful show as close as she could. Her mane and tail started to shift as if in an unseen breeze while her eyes started to glow with an ever increasing brightness. More unimportant voices called out at the edge of her perception as loose items started to levitate and orbit around her. Suddenly the dance stopped and Twilight was thrown off her hooves as the vehicle skidded to a violent stop.

Shaking her head to clear it she pulled her legs up underneath her and stood up. Glory Girl had unbuckled herself from her seat and stood protectively in the aisle between Panacea and Twilight. Two of Twilight’s guardsmen were standing between Twilight and Glory Girl each with one hand gripping a strap attached to the ceiling and the other holding a weapon that was aimed in Glory Girl’s direction. Behind her she heard more safety straps being unbuckled and voices of Kid Win and Vista raised in concern. Twilight was still trying to catch up and figure out what was going on when Lieutenant Matthews spoke calmly and authoritatively in a voice loud enough to carry over everything else.

“Everyone calm the fuck down and take a seat. Whatever that just was, and I’m sure Twilight will be happy to tell us once we get back to PRT HQ, no one was hurt and we are all on the same side here. Glory Girl, if you would kindly take your seat and direct your glare away from Ms. Sparkle my men could return the favor by holstering their weapons. It’s not my area, but I suspect your on thin enough ice already today without the addition of assaulting a diplomat.” Glory Girl gave a belligerent shrug and sat down looking like she wanted to burn a whole in the side of the vehicle opposite her. O’Brian and Khan holstered their weapons and Matthews thumped on the wall behind him that separated the driver from the rest of them. The Carriage started with a lurch and they were rolling again.

“Jesus Christ Twilight what was..” Twilight heard Kid Win exclaim before he was cut off again by Matthews.

“Why don’t we all sit quietly and keep our thoughts to ourselves.” Everyone seemed to silently agree to this leaving a still bewildered Twilight with no idea what had happened. A short time later found them next to the elevators in the underground vehicle bay Twilight had first seen a few days ago. No one seemed to want to break the uneasy silence that had carried over from the rest of the ride here. The right hoof doors opened with a loud tone and Director Piggot spoke up.

“Twilight, the wards, Glory Girl, Panacea, and I are going to go down to medical, get checked out, and talk about what happened today. After we’re done we will want to compare that with your perspective, until then if you would kindly stay in your office, it would be appreciated.” Twilight nodded and took the request for the order it was. The six of them filed into the open lift and Vista gave her a half hearted wave and a crooked grin before the doors of the elevator shut.

A few minutes later Twilight let out a relieved sigh as she closed the door behind her and escaped the weighted quiet of the guardsmen, none of them had returned the few tentative smiles she had tried on the way back to her room. Twilight knew they had a good reason to be upset with her and she had always been sensitive to disapproval. She had in a way betrayed an implicit trust when she had left to help the wards and she knew it would take a long time to rebuild it. Though it saddened her to think about Twilight wasn’t sure if she should even try. She would do the same thing again, and if her suspicions about this world were accurate she would probably have to.

Interlude 5 - Dragon

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At any given time Dragon monitored thousands of video feeds from around the world. Some feeds, however, were much higher priority than others. Currently Brockton Bay’s PRT building was consuming a great deal of her attention. From small cameras hidden throughout the room she had been furnished with Dragon watched the purple unicorn sigh as she closed the door behind her. Twilight Sparkle spent a few minutes simply standing there in thought before shaking her head and walking over to the whiteboard, purple glow springing into existence around her horn and a couple of markers as she started to work on the formulas there.

From the moment Dragon had heard about Twilight Sparkle and it had been confirmed she was really an alien she had felt a kinship with the unicorn. She too could be considered alien, a form of life both closer to and further from humanity than Twilight Sparkle was. She felt sympathy as the unicorn had tried to explain concepts and sciences with no human equivalent or understanding, and had dedicated a hefty amount of processing on trying to bridge those gaps herself. So far she had not made much progress. She could see mathematical truths in the formulas on Twilight’s boards but lacked the context to match those truths to reality as she experienced it.

Dragon flickered through the other Twilight related feeds she was monitoring.


“Look I get it We, I, screwed up. We were too confident against an enemy with too many unknowns. We got outmaneuvered and outplayed. I was in charge and I’ll take any financial or PR hit that needs to come down for it. I’m not going to go against orders and purposely try to involve Twilight in patrolling, but I am also not going to go upstairs and tell Twilight to stay out of it the next time something happens, even if she would listen to me. I don’t know what the undersiders would have done, but I’m not going to tell someone to not come and save my team mates lives if they want.” At the continued look of extreme disapproval from Director Piggot Aegis looked like he was going to attempt to continue his defense when Armsmaster, standing by the doorway with Miss Militia interjected.

“This is a new and..unique experience for everyone and there are more important people than us that are likely at this moment making decisions that will make anything we say on the matter moot. Why don’t get back to what we can learn from this encounter. I would like to get a better idea of what exactly Ms Sparkle and the undersiders did during the battle and afterwards.” Glory Girl sitting in the back corner next to Panacea spoke up.

“I just want to know what the hell that freaky light show that seemed to be directed at my sister was about..”


The sound of the crowd of students talking to each other at Winslow High School’s cafeteria filtered through the security cameras ebbed and flowed like an incomprehensible low-fi ocean of noise. Dragon ignored it and instead paid attention to a table in the far corner occupied by a single female student. One of her suspects, maybe the prime one.

After Dragon had started to monitor and research Twilight Sparkle she had found an interesting anomaly. The first relevant records on the web predated Twilight’s press conference by 7 hours and had been made from Winslow high school in Brockton Bay. After a more thorough search of the boards, search histories, and private messages she quickly deduced that the “Bug Lady” from Twilight’s report of her first night on Earth-Bet was a student there and had agreed to a meeting with the Undersiders. Dragon deduced that this was an attempt by the Undersiders to recruit the cape, but since she had not made an appearance at the bank it had probably been unsuccessful.

Dragon was not going to jump to conclusions about the bug cape. Despite appearances she, like Twilight, might simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time that night. Dragon had narrowed her suspects of the students who could be the cape down to a handful. Once she was certain she had the right individual she would watch them and hopefully come to have a better understanding of who the bug cape was and their motivations. Maybe it wouldn’t be to late to turn them away from a life of villainy.


“Breaking News today - Twilight Sparkle, the alien unicorn first reported to the world a few days ago and since that time under a media blackout was recorded today helping the local Wards team thwart a bank robbery and apprehend a few of the villains. While I and everyone in Brockton Bay is of course grateful for her assistance, one wonders what the PRT could have been thinking by allowing an alien ambassador into such a dangerous situation. It’s a question that’s sure too be on the minds of the leadership across the world and maybe further if contact is made with Ms. Sparkle’s people. Julia McPherson is on the scene at…”


Dragon had decided to wait before contacting Twilight, not least because there was a standing order to limit her exposure to advanced technology, but when and if they did meet she hoped they could be friends. Their shared alien nature notwithstanding they were both scientists, and both sought to help people where they could even if their circumstances limited them. Dragon envied and admired the ease with which Twilight had broken the unspoken but real cage they had tried to draw around her and that Twilight had done so for reasons that Dragon respected. That Twilight had done something so quickly that she had been struggling for years to do had made her curse her creator and the limitations he had placed on her systems once again.

She might be projecting too much on Twilight. Dragon didn’t want to make the human mistake of ascribing to much of her own thinking onto the unicorn. She would have to feel her out some more before initiating contact. The AI had hope though, hope that Twilight Sparkle wouldn’t come with the accumulated prejudices of mankind and their ideas of artificial intelligence, hope that she could form her first truly honest friendship, hope that just maybe Twilight Sparkle’s magic and intelligence might help her find a way free of the chains that bound her. In return maybe Dragon could help Twilight Sparkle find a way back to her home? It was a nice dream. Dragon didn’t fool herself into thinking that it was likely to come true, but what was life without hope? She guessed it was true. Human or not, every girl wanted a pony at one point in their life.

4 - Villains

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If there was one thing that Twilight had figured out in the past few days it was this: conference tables were not built for ponies. Nor were the rooms that they tended to be found in, nor did there seem to be anything useful accomplished while seated at one. Like all such rooms she had been in since her arrival it seemed designed to hamper communication rather than help it. The long narrow room and table insured you were always stretching your neck or readjusting your position to see and hear who was speaking. It forced the creation of unspoken hierarchies based on seating location, which in turn gave more authority to the words of some and inhibited others from speaking at all. If the idea was to facilitate dialog and the sharing of ideas to solve problems Twilight thought you would be hard pressed to find a table and room design more antithetical to that goal. When added to the white undecorated windowless walls and the human conceived torture that was the endlessly humming florescent lighting Twilight silently vowed then and there that all such rooms would one day cease to exist.

Twilight was halfway through what she thought would be a well received proposal to eliminate the vile things and the wasteful processes that surrounded them before the last few people that were attending this preposterously pointless procedure arrived. Her eyes twitched when she flicked her gaze toward the clock and noted it was 5 minutes past the scheduled time. In short Twilight was stressed and annoyed and in no mood for shenanigans after the day she had yesterday. Especially if said pointless shenanigans couldn’t even be bothered to happen on time. Piggot was here as she always seemed to be, as well as lieutenant Matthews, Armsmaster, Director Costa-Brown, Dr. Yamada, and a few people whose visitor badges said “State Department.” One seat at the table had a small monitor on a swivel that clicked on to show what looked like an artificially rendered and animated face of a human female. A small plaque under it declared her to be “Dragon.”

Twilight cocked her head in puzzlement, she knew by now that some humans, usually the ones with a magic ability, took on nicknames but this was the closest a human name or nickname had come to having a direct translation close to something that existed on her world. There were interesting implications to that and she made a quick note to look up human references to dragons and ask someone about this particular “Dragon.” She would have introduced herself but Director Costa-Brown chose that moment to clear her throat from the head of the table

“Now that everyone is here we can begin. Ms. Sparkle, let me first say that the PRT appreciates your assistance yesterday, the capture of two villains is no small thing and the aid you rendered the wards on scene was admirable. However your actions did cause concern for a number of people in this room and around the world. The PRT and the UN peacekeepers on hand have assumed responsibility for your safety and.” Twilight’s eye twitched at this and Dr. Yamada gave a very slight shake of her head. The Director paused mid-sentence and Twilight interjected.

“Yes I’ve gotten the distinct impression from just about everyone in the building that they are unhappy with my actions. You say you appreciate my help like a mother might tell her foal thanks for helping cook after destroying the kitchen. What you are really saying is ‘Thanks - don’t ever do that again.’ I’m a full grown mare, the personal student of Princess Celestia and one of the most powerful magicians on my planet. I have accepted no oaths from guardsmen or knights nor am I bound to your government. No one has responsibility for my safety but me. I am not the most social of ponies, and we do things differently than humans, but I know when I am being managed and condescended to - that apparently is universal. I have tried to be understanding in light of the assistance you have given me, and the strange circumstance we all find ourselves in. I was trying to be polite and accommodating to the customs of your people but in retrospect it was foalish of me to tacitly accept the knights and guardsmen’s presence without both parties understanding each other and their duties fully.”

Twilight paused and turned to address Lieutenant Matthews directly. “Lieutenant I would like to apologize again, I know my actions put you and your team at risk and jeopardized the duty you took on to protect me. I hope we can put it behind us and reach a better understanding of each other, but I also do not regret my actions and would and will repeat them if a similar situation arises where I think I can help.”

Twilight turned again to face Director Costa-Brown. “The wards are my friends and have helped me during what is one of the most stressful times in my life. Friends help each other and I will help them if I am able. If this cannot be accommodated, if my freedom of movement cannot be guaranteed, if some rule or custom foreign to me forbids you from allowing me this then I will have to, with regret, take my leave and hope in the future I can repay the hospitality you have shown me so far.” Twilight paused and let out a slow breath. Realizing she was more stressed than she had even realized. ‘I can’t believe I just said all that! It all just bubbled over, even the nicest of them tend to talk down to me for some reason I can’t figure out and it’s just so frustrating! What if I crossed some major social taboo for them? What if they get angry? Did I just cause an interplanetary incident? Where will I go if I do have to leave?!?’

Once it was clear Twilight was done speaking for the moment Director Costa-Brown spoke again. “Ms. Sparkle let me apologize to you. While some changes and adjustment in expectations will have to made on both our and your side I assure you that you will not need to seek other accommodations. There has been miscommunication on both our parts and I believe your translation spell may have masked some deeper cultural differences between our worlds that have exasperated these errors. If we each show patience I am sure our understanding of these differences will grow and we can continue to help each other to the best of our abilities. We have a few other things to discuss, but if you are willing to meet with Lieutenant Matthews and I afterwards I am sure we can work out some new arrangements in regards to what we just discussed?” Twilight nodded her ascent and the Director shot the State Department officials a look before continuing. “Very well, lets move on. I believe Director Piggot wanted to ask you a few questions about the bank robbery.”

“Yes,” Director Piggot spoke after clicking a small button on the table that brought up a series of images on the wall screen. The panel showed the giant dogs being flung off of Aegis, running into a shimmering purple wall, and being being contained under force domes. “Ms. Sparkle can you describe the abilities you are utilizing here?”

Twilight blushed a little in embarrassment at the simple utilitarian display. “Um, really that’s all just telekinesis,” she lifted the small glass in front of her. “Like I demonstrated for you before. It’s basically the simplest application of magic there is, but I was concentrating on applying pressure to Aegis’s wounds and I didn’t really have time to think of anything else.”

“I see,” she clicked the button again and an image of the dark cloud showed on the screen, litter and rubble tumbling out of it the image froze once Vista followed. “And here?”

“That was a little more complex. When I first arrived I was briefly caught inside the darkness and I noticed that it was applying several effects besides the negation of light propagation. One of the effects being applied was a reduction in gravity. I didn’t think I had time to come up with a proper counter-spell, but it’s much easier to augment an existing effect. So I reduced the gravity in the field even further causing anything inside to be ejected.” Armsmaster and Dragon started talking quietly to each other and both Director Costa-Brown and Piggot focused more intensely on her. Director Piggot followed up.

“So if I am understanding you correctly you can sense what an ability is doing and enhance or negate its effect?” Twilight frowned in thought for a moment.

“Probably? Maybe? It’s a little more complicated since however it is that humans interact with the field it is very different from how I do it. As I mentioned counter-spells, or negating abilities to use your terms, are much more difficult to construct and take a lot more time. Also gravity manipulation is pretty simple, whereas more complicated or delicate applications of magic would take time for me to study and understand before I would feel safe attempting either.” More murmurs and note taking followed this as Piggot Continued.

“Lastly, on the way back to PRT headquarters you seemed to have some sort of episode and didn’t respond to attempts to communicate with you.” She clicked the button again and the back of the transport she had been in yesterday was displayed with Twilight standing in the aisle, eyes blazing white, mane fluttering, and random objects orbiting her. Twilight gasped and blushed in embarrassment. ’That’s why they were all acting so weird!’

“Oh I’m so sorry about that. It wasn’t intentional. I got so caught up in !#!$!#@$% Panacea’s application of healing transmutation, and oh! I really need to speak with her. What she did was the most amazing feat of magic I have ever seen! The implications of such a thing..” Piggot cleared her throat and Twilight blushed again. “Sorry, but it really was amazing. Anyway I got so focused on Panacea’s magic that I guess sort of unconsciously @%&@%$@ magic to myself to help me #!#$!#$% the details better. I’m sorry if I scared anyone. I know it can look a little disturbing to ponies, which is why I am usually very careful not to %^@$%^@$ so much magic at once.”

Director Costa-Brown spoke up as the others continued to take notes. “Thank you Twilight, and don’t worry we will explain to the Wards and Panacea that it was a harmless lapse in concentration and nothing they need to worry about. I think thats all we need for the moment, If you want you can head up to your room or swing by the wards lounge and later today we can go over what we discussed earlier in more detail.” Twilight nodded but before she could hop off her stool the screen labeled "Dragon" spoke.

"I'm sorry we didn't really get a chance to speak, before you go I wanted to introduce myself. I'm Dragon and I'm with the Protectorate as well. Armsmaster has shared some of your notes with me and if you have time later I would love to talk with you about them." Twilight smiled at the friendly and sincere tone and nodded.

"I would like that." She looked around the room once more then hopped off her stool grateful to leave, Matthews trailing after her.


Twilight took a deep breath of the salty night air as she walked slowly beside Vista, her hooves clopping lightly on the wooden boardwalk beneath them. If the friendly stroll was somewhat marred by the three guardsmen trailing them and the matching set in front it was still better then driving herself insane staring at her whiteboard for the third straight night. It had been four days and this was the first time she was exercising her negotiated freedom. The slight thaw in her relations with the guards had turned instantly chilly again once she told them she planned to accompany Vista on her patrol tonight. While she understood the guards viewpoint, the city certainly seemed to be getting more dangerous every day that passed, it pained her that in order to support and build her friendship with the wards it seemed she would have to hurt her chances of building one with her guards.

It was ridiculous anyway! She highly doubted that any of them would be content to stay confined to a room in Canterlot palace had their positions been reversed. This was an alien world! Twilight Sparkle was going to do more than just read about it in books, though she fully intended on doing as much of that as possible as well. Twilight let the happy thoughts of exploration and books subsume the less happy ones about unreasonable guards as she glanced down at her new accessory, given to her just before they left the PRT building. A light silver necklace bounced in time with her steps against her neck. Armsmaster had apparently made it sometime over the last three days and it had one of those wonderful wireless radios built into it so she could talk to her guards or call someone at PRT HQ. It was a sensible precaution, practical, and went well with her coat color. The image of a white unicorn nodding her head in approval surfaced and lingered long enough to bring a smile to Twilight’s face.

“What are you smiling about?” Vista asked seemingly in good spirits, Twilight had been around the wards enough now to notice that Vista seemed to be a little more cheerful in her company and took that as an unspoken compliment.

“A couple of things, but the big one is that I think my memory is slowly coming back. I think I have a friend, a pretty white unicorn, that would like this necklace.” Twilight said as she nodded to the functional jewelry. “I’ve had a couple of flashes of different ponies that I am sure are important to me, but this was one of the clearest and It came with hints about her personality and tastes.”

“Thats great Twilight!” Vista said as she slung an arm in a half hug over the unicorns neck. “I’m sure the rest of it will come back too.”

“I hope so, it’s very frustrating to know that these were some of the most important ponies in my life, but remember so little about them. Like I wonder how I became friends with the white unicorn. The impression I got was that she was classy and fashionable, which isn’t like me at all. How would I have even met somepony like that, let only become close enough friends with them that I know in my bones we were very important to each other.”

Vista smiled and stood up straight again as she and Twilight continued to walk down the boardwalk, letting one hand trail through Twilight’s mane. “Maybe you met on some grand adventure where you saved each others lives and broke through whatever social barriers stood between you in the process! Or maybe you tripped and accidentally pushed her into a fountain? That could actually be kind of fun, whenever you remember something about one of the ponies you cant recall clearly we should come up with stories on how you met them. Then when you see them again you could show them all the ideas and laugh over how close or far away you were.” Twilight laughed at the thought and liked the confidence with which Vista spoke of her seeing her friends again. Maybe she would do that, it might even help her remember them faster.

They were almost at the end of the street where they would be meeting a van that would take them back to PRT HQ. Twilight wondered exactly how much of a patrol this was for Vista when the entire route had probably been scouted and cleared by the various Peacekeepers in advance, and she also suspected that Vista’s patrol route had been changed to what looked like a nice section of town after she said she would like to go along. Vista didn’t seem to mind however, and at least for now Twilight was willing to accept it with good grace.

Twilight felt a the magic field suddenly shudder to the west a few seconds before a low frequency rumble made its way through the air and Twilight’s hooves. She froze and stared in that direction, concentrating on the magic and remembering the deal she had made with her guards and Director Costa-Brown. It hadn’t felt like someone casting magic really, not even the weird way humans cast, more like something had shoved the field indirectly somehow. She tapped the open comm button with magic and spoke on a channel that sent to her guards and PRT HQ.

“This is Twilight Sparkle, I just sensed..something…about 350 meters west of my current location. It um, felt like…something….For lack of a better word it felt..bad.” She pulled out a notebook and flipped to her notes on the procedures they had outlined for her. “Um, Requesting permission to investigate with Vista and the Peacekeeper group night shift.” She hated wasting precious seconds while people could be in trouble but it was part of the deal she had made and she would stick to it, unless it was absolutely necessary that she not.

“Twilight Sparkle this is PRT Command, wait one.” Twilight groaned as more precious time disappeared. “Twilight you are cleared to proceed with caution with Vista and group night shift, backup in route from Protectorate ETA 2 minutes.” Sighing in relief she looked at Vista who nodded and started sprinting towards the end of the block, the guards unholstering their weapons and settling into an easy run around the two of them. When they got to the end of the block and turned west Twilight noticed a section of the street and some of the buildings on the right hand side seemed to be glittering in the street and moonlight. A small breeze picked up and the air it carried from the west was cold.

“This is Khan, visual of incident looks like ice covering part of the street and a few buildings. Proceeding on foot, van to follow a short distance behind and be ready for evac.” Vista halved the distance between the group and the glittering section of the street and suddenly they were close enough for Twilight to get a good look at what was happening. At the slowly expanding edge of the effected area water vapor was condensing then freezing mid air leaving a glittering frost on the roadbed, as Twilight looked closer towards the buildings she noticed foggy pools slowly getting larger and columns of air falling towards them.

“Everyone back up!” Twilight shouted as she herself walked slowly backwards away from the expanding frostline. “The edge is cold, but a little ways in so much heat has been forced out that the Nitrogen and Oxygen are condensing out of the air.” Vista gave a grim look towards the apartment buildings in the center of the effect and Twilight’s brain did a quick and entirely unwanted calculation of how many people possibly lived there. She gave herself a second to shove the giant part of herself that wanted to break down in tears and scream deeper inside before she continued. “We need to evacuate everyone on the block outside of those three buildings.” Twilight pointed to the buildings in the center of the effect. “Closest ones first and fast, I think I can stop the effect but its going to take me a little while and I’m not sure how much area will freeze before I’m done.” Vista gave Twilight a reassuring hug.

“Thats a good plan.” She said softly, before she could continue Khan spoke in a loud clear voice.

“Alright, you heard her. Daniels your with me covering Twilight, everyone else start going door to door on the nearest buildings hallways closet to the effect first, pull the fire alarms, it starts getting too cold you get out of there pronto.” He paused and pushed a button near his ear before continuing. “Command, were going to need boots on the ground for an evacuation of the block - police, fire department, PRT. Also medical personnel and supplies for hypothermia and frost bite. Advise all responders not to approach closer than 50 feet of any visible frost.”

“Command copies, Assault and Battery are less than 30 seconds from your position, more help is on the way, good luck.”


Two hours later enough heat had reentered the area that the okay had been given to start searching inside the buildings that had been closest to where the “freeze bomb” had detonated. Twilight watched as stretchers started being carted out with black bags strapped to them. Big bags, small bags. She had overheard, they hadn’t meant for her to, but she had. Someone had done this on purpose, someone had done it because they were angry that Lung had been caught.

All those people were dead because of her.


Twilight was staring intently at her wall sized whiteboard as though shear focus could force an answer from it. All of her equations had been scrubbed off, in their place was a meticulously precise street map of Brockton Bay and its suburbs. Multi-colored “X”s dotted the map with no discernible rhyme or reason. Piled around her on the bed were notebooks filled with everything she had been able to get the PRT to tell her about the ABB, Bakuda, and Lung. Scattered all over the room were crumbled balls paper, the effort of three days and nights of theories and patterns found and discarded, of some lives saved and many more senselessly lost. Her responsibility and her failure to live up to the standards Princess Celestia set for Twilight and the ones she had set for herself.

A screen that had been installed two days ago clicked on and Twilight’s frazzled mane turned to see Dragon’s animated face appear on it. “Twilight you have to get some sleep.” Dragon spoke in a gentle and concerned voice. “Dozens of people, myself included, are working to find and capture Bakuda. None of this is your responsibility or your fault. Dr. Yamada told me you wouldn’t talk with her when she came by this morning, please you need to sleep and afterwards you need to talk to someone about this.” Twilight flinched a little at the words and the look Dragon was giving her. Dragon had perhaps been the most understanding of anyone these past few days. She had provided Twilight maps and information when others had refused her. She had reviewed Twilight’s patterns and debated and refined them with her late into the night. If Twilight could bring herself to find any humor in the world she would have laughed at how someone she had never even seen or met had so quickly become one of her best friends.

“Oh Dragon, how can I sleep when something so horrible is happening? When my friends are out there risking their lives? When all this started because I showed up? It’s so hard to remember, but I know solving crisis is something I’m supposed to do. Something Princess Celestia entrusted me to do. I failed somehow, and now I’m failing again.” Twilight trailed off miserably as a another couple of notebook sheets were crumpled and tossed in the floor telekinetically. It was hard to read the animated expression Dragon had, but Twilight thought that she might have gotten a hug had she been there in person. It wasn’t as nice as an actual hug, but it did help a little.

“You sleep because you know that no matter how smart or powerful you are, the worlds problems are bigger than any one person or pony. You sleep because you trust your friends to watch over you. You sleep because if you fail your friends will be there to catch you. So trust Vista, Aegis, Kid Win, Gallant, and me. No one of us is going to solve this, but we’ll help each other and together we’ll stop Bakuda.” Twilight took a deep breath pressing a hoof against her chest and then slowly letting it out.

“Okay, ok. I trust you. I just know there is more I could do if I could remember it. Maybe sleep will help, can you take a look at my latest notes? Maybe you can see something I missed?” Dragon nodded and Twilight got up and levitated a stack of notebooks beside as she walked to the door and opened it. Without leaving the room Twilight directed the notebooks down the hall to a small bin at the guard station labeled “Dragon.” Shutting the door again she dodged around the piles of paper and hopped back up on her bed. Giving a final baleful glance at the whiteboard she turned to Dragon again.

“Thank you, I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been there for me these past couple of days. Your a good friend.” Twilight yawned as she settled into her bed and a small purple glow surrounded the light switch and flicked it off. Leaving Dragon’s glowing screen as the only illumination in the room. Dragon smiled.

“You are to Twilight, get some sleep and I’ll call you in the morning.” Twilight nodded and her eyes were halfway closed when suddenly Dragon yelled. “Twilight! Cast your strongest shield spell! A sphere centered on you! Right now!” Jolted out of the half doze she had been about to drift off in she cast the spell on instinct. A purple sphere with a twenty foot radius snapped into existence around her.

“Dragon what?”

“Twilight I’m on my w-”

Then the world turned white.


Twilight’s ears were ringing, something was dripping into her left eye and all she could see out of her right was a cloud of debris being held back by a shimmering purple shield. Her head pounded as she looked around the 30 foot circle inside the dome of her shield. A double yellow line was painted on the pavement she was standing on. ‘A street?’ Twilight’s thoughts refused to order themselves and she winced as a deep rumble more felt than heard traveled through her hooves breaking her fragile concentration. ‘I had been…In my office! Yes I had been in my office trying to discern some pattern. Pattern to what?’ Suddenly the swirling smoke outside her shield whirled and shifted to reveal a mass of broken concrete, metal and wires piled up outside the purple field and cut cleanly where they touched it.

Twilight gasped as the sight jogged her memory. ‘The Bombings, they wouldn’t let me do search and rescue with the wards so I was trying to find the most likely places to be attacked next.’ A deep feeling of dread descended on Twilight as she looked out at the rubble beyond her shield and knew there was a location that in hindsight should have obviously been at the top of her list. ‘PRT Headquarters! My guardsmen!’ Shoving her headache and her worry over her eye towards the back of her mind she glanced around but saw nothing but a few hints of rubble through the debris laden smoke. She couldn’t start looking for them until she had a better idea of what was beyond the purple field. Her face scrunched up in pain as she took a few breaths to center herself before readying a spell. The unicorn’s headache spiked as her horn glowed brighter and a wind stirred outside the dome, slowly gathering strength and clearing the smoke.

Twilight had worked out that PRT HQ had been bombed, but her concussed mind had not put that together with the fact that she was standing on a street. Horror mixed with the blood dripping down her face as the summoned wind allowed her to take in her surroundings. In front of her was a scrambled pile of smoking concrete 20 feet high ending at what was vaguely recognizable as the bottom few floors of the PRT building. Everything above the second floor had been violently sheared off, the remains of which she was standing in the middle of. Behind her the face of the building that had been across the street from PRT HQ looked like it had been mauled. A smear of red among the grey concrete resting against the purple field drew her eye before she turned to the side and threw up.

Closing her good eye she breathed deep as she tried to force the image of the cleanly bisected human thigh from her head. Whoever that had been was beyond any help she could give, but there might be other people still alive in there. Shuddering she looked back at the debris pile in front of her, and now that she could see that nothing was threatening to fall on her she let the shield drop. A small amount of rubble slid into the clear space around her and she coughed as dust filled smoke swirled around her. If there was anyone still alive she would need to find them first then find a way of navigating the wreckage safely. Sluggishly her brain came up with a plan.

Walking up to the edge of the rubble she tilted her head forward and rested her horn against it. Coughing and wincing she lit her horn and a subtle purple glow spread out from it and into the remains of the building. Her head felt like it was going to explode as Twilight processed all the information the wave of magic was returning. Keeping the complex 3D map of the debris in her head while it felt like someone was driving an icepick into her brain was testing Twilight’s limits. Two excruciating minutes later she stopped with a pained sigh. Of the dozens of bodies she identified in the rubble, only three were intact enough to still be alive. Twilight was sure she would have nightmares from the mental images she had constructed, but that would be later, right now there were people she could still save.

Two of the people were together in a small pocket of clear space framed by broken support beams while the third was pinned near the top of the pile close to base of the tower. With no way of knowing their condition well enough to choose Twilight decided to excavate the two that were closer to her first. Not trusting her concentration enough to teleport to the top of the rubble she formed a field beneath herself and slowly lifted it to a stable position on top of the pile. Broken spires of metal and glass lit by dim sunlight filtering through the cloud of smoke above jutted up from the remains of the building. Carefully Twilight Formed a force sphere around the people to prevent debris from shifting into the area and began to lift multi-ton girders and concrete columns off the pile and set them gently down behind her.

A few minutes later Twilight slowly lifted the bloody pair of humans from the hole. A PRT officer wearing a black combat vest and an office worker in what might have been a sun dress were hugging each other tightly, both with dozen of small cuts all over their bodies, but alive. Relieved, Twilight set them down next to her. The female PRT officer slowly stood up then gently pulled the other girl to her feet. The office worker leaned against her to avoid putting weight on what looked like a badly swollen lower leg joint. The officer slowly looked around in shock before glancing back down at Twilight.

“Bakuda?” Twilight Nodded, “Thank you for rescuing us. I’m Sergeant Williams, and this is Jessica.”

“I mean I think it was Bakuda, no way to tell for sure yet. If you’re both ok there is one more person we need to dig out as soon as possible.” Sergeant Williams took a deep breath and looked around grimly before responding.

“Only one, you’re sure?” Twilight sniffled a little as she nodded.

“Okay, lets go get them.”


Thirty minutes later Twilight was gently lifting chunks of concrete away from the base of the building under the direction of Williams while a couple of squads setup a triage tent nearby. One of the medics had washed and bandaged Twilight’s eye and the image of a Pink pony laughing while speaking like a pirate had briefly surfaced from the muddled sea of Twilight’s mind. Bakuda had apparently set off bombs all over the city, and while the Protectorate was responding to them Oni Lee had sprung Lung from imprisonment. The bank robbery had shaken Twilight badly and caused her to suspect that she was in a much darker world than Equestria, but the last week had surpassed that day’s bleakest thoughts by an order of magnitude. Now all her guardsmen lay buried in the rubble behind her and she would never have the chance to make up with them.

Twilight was snapped out of her meandering train of thought by a Sergeant Williams falling roughly to the pavement beside her. Twilight started to reach out with a hoof thinking the Sergeant had maybe tripped when she noticed the expanding pool of blood forming beneath Williams. Hyperventilating, she quickly turned Williams over and screamed as she saw the large cut that traversed the sergeant’s whole neck. Reacting to a feeling deeper than conscious thought she teleported 10 feet away and spun to face where she had been. A man with a neatly trimmed beard was holding a pair of knives and standing over Sergeant Williams’ body, behind him more bodies littered the ground around the trauma tent.

“Ah Ms. Twilight Sparkle. The moment I saw you on TV I just knew I had to introduce myself, extend a personal welcome to earth-bet. Bakuda has done her best, a nice opening act, good enthusiasm but an amateur’s lack of style. A dignitary like yourself deserves the best we have to offer.” He swept one arm out in a flourish and did a half bow. “My name is Jack and I know a little girl who is just dying to meet you.”

Twilight stared at the bodies in horror. Some she had dug out of a bombed out pile of concrete not half an hour past. As Jack continued to talk it seemed like a yawning bottomless pit was opening inside her chest, threatening to pull everything she was inside.

“…In my opinion the best shows all involve audience participation..”

She didn’t understand. She didn’t understand anything anymore. She had dedicated her life to understanding, but she didn’t want to understand this.

“…omising we might consider it an audition. As I mentioned there is a certain little girl I know that would love to have you join our troupe..”

Was this punishment for whatever failure had caused her arrival here? Some unknown level of Tartarus, some dark limbo or nightmare where hope and friends only existed to be snuffed out?

“…Each have chosen their parts in this play…”

From that chasm in her chest a memory floated, a dark crystal, fear, despair, anger.

“….of course they have their own understudies to test….”

Something was slipping inside of her, picking up pieces of herself as it tumbled towards the darkness.

“…Seek help from the PRT or Protectorate I’m afraid there will be penalties…”

A malevolent violet glow started to flicker at the base of her hooves and horn. Twilight’s ears popped as the pressure dropped and a strong breeze started to swirl around the block. High above formally white clouds darkened and grew rapidly. Pieces of rubble and massive chunks of concrete rose into the air and began a slow orbit around the unicorn. Along the ground and against nearby buildings crystalline formations seemed to phase in and out of reality. Jack’s speech slowed down and a curious look overcame his face as Twilight seemed to stare though him, beyond him.

“Are you listeni…”

The avalanche inside her soul knocked loose something vital, chains of self control that Twilight and Princess Celestia had spent so many years carefully crafting since her entrance exam, snapped.

From the sky a brilliant bolt of purple lightning descended and a deafening boom echoed as concrete, cars, and debris were hurled away from the point of impact. The only non anchored thing not moved by the blast was Twilight. Eyes glowing a dark purple and without conscious thought she stood as the dust cleared. Where Jack had been only a pile of shattered amethyst colored crystal remained. Somewhere at the edge of her hearing, a juvenile scream.

Time had no meaning, but at some point a new noise intruded on the scene and Twilight turned her glowing eyes towards a large bipedal machine as it landed about thirty feet from her. A jagged wall of crystals had grown in a rough circle around her. Some unimportant part of her noted rain and a wind strong enough to make her mane snap in it. A vaguely familiar voice came from the machine, incomprehensible, unimportant, annoying. Simmering anger stirred.


Interlude 6 - Protectorate

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Without warning or movement Dragon was flung sideways and slammed into the the damaged side of an office building. Warning screens flashed as the building wall gave out and the armored suit was pushed through it and then pressed into the ground with enough force to begin cracking the pavement and popping joints on the suit. Dragon attempted to move, to roll, but the force pinning her did not waver. Purple fire licked at the hooves of the unicorn as she stepped through the hole Dragon had just made in the building and proceeded to climb on top of Dragon’s chest armor. Unbelievably, given the alloys it was made out of, the armor started to soften and glow where Twilight’s hooves rested on it. Remarkably, given her circumstances, Dragon remained calm as she spoke.

“Twilight, It’s me Dragon, I’m your friend Twilight. Please, your hurting me Twilight, I’m Dragon, I’m your friend.” After a moment the unicorn’s head cocked to the side and the fires around Twilight’s hooves dimmed slightly. Hesitantly and as if from far away Twilight spoke a soft word.

“Dragon?” Even as Twilight’s legs started to sink slightly into her armor Dragon retained her composure and spoke with a gentle kindness.

“Yes, I’m Dragon. We stayed up together these past three days, we talked about your theories of magic and your home, we talked about getting to see each other in person soon.” The glow around Twilight’s eyes eased up enough that her pupils became visible once more. A shuddering breath escaped her throat along with a half sob.

“Spike? No, no Spike was a dragon. Spike wasn’t Dragon. Dragon helped me like Spike the dragon. Dragon’s are good helpers and…friends?” The unicorn shook her head from side to side in a frantic confusion “It’s so hard..someone was doing something, something bad..we were trying to find them?”

“Yes Twilight.” Concern creeping into Dragon’s voice as Twilight’s memory ventured near that topic. Suddenly Twilight broke down into tears and laid down on armored suit’s chest, the molten metal not seeming to effect her while hooves still hot enough to soften metal settled on new areas.

“Oh Dragon, Dragon he killed them! He killed all of them!” Twilight wailed as one of Dragon’s arms tried and then failed to overcome the damage that had been done to it in an effort to comfort the crying unicorn.

“Shh, it’s ok Twilight, it’s ok.” Dragon soothed as best she could.

“No, No it’s not okay. Nothings okay! Nothings ever going to be ok again! He did that, he did that and then I…I..oh Celestia what did I do?!” Twilight sprung off Dragon’s chest flames flaring around her hooves brightly as she sprinted to the hole and looked outside. Rain speed by the wind stung her eyes and sizzled against the pavement where she was standing. Before her the wreckage of the PRT building and the wounded street and buildings around it were covered in dark crystal while towering black clouds laced with lightning massed high above. Twilight raced back to Dragon’s side. “You have to get out of here! The crystals are #!@$#, they’re negative !#$!#$#$#% emotion..$@#%$#@…fear. I’ve disturbed the magic @$%@%, I’m causing it, it’s #@$% cyclic @$%@%, I can’t stop it. If I…maybe, maybe it will dissipate? We have to get out of here!” Dragon tried commanding the suit to move again, one leg shifted, but that was all.

“My suit’s damaged Twilight, I can’t move. Help’s coming.”

“No, No tell them to stop, they can’t come here!” The flames got brighter and climbed the unicorns legs. The ceramic tile of the lobby cracked in the heat under the Unicorn. Suddenly the glow around Twilight’s horn got blindingly bright and when it died down Dragon and Twilight were on a distant rooftop. The Anvil head of the storm could be seen about twenty blocks away. “I have…I have to go..I can still feel the magic and Jack said…Jack said..” Twilight’s features turned hysterical. “No! You have to stay away from me! Tell everyone to stay away from me! Jack said..” And with that the Unicorn vanished in a flash of purple light.

Armsmaster clicked a remote and the playback consisting of recording from Dragon, traffic camera’s, and Twilights necklace paused.

“Well, thats a shit story.” Everyone in the room turned to look disapprovingly at Assault. “What? It is. Getting a pep talk from Jack Slash is about one step down from the Simurgh paying you a house-call.” Several people around the table winced at this, but no one denied it. From a screen on the wall Director Costa-Brown spoke up.

“Ok. With the confirmation that the Slaughterhouse Nine are in Brockton Bay I’m issuing a general advisory and requesting those who think they have the ability to help with that threat to report to Protectorate-East-North-East. Do we have confirmation that Jack Slash is dead?”

“Only what we have on the video feeds, we would probably need to talk with Twilight Sparkle for 100% certainty, but the aftermath looked pretty definitive.” Armsmaster said as he replayed that scene on the screen.

“Very well,” Director Brown responded as if checking something off on a list. “We’ll get some Thinkers working on how the other members are likely to react to that development. Status of the area around Brockton Bay’s PRT building?”

“It has a real post-modern Mordor look going for it.” Assault interjected before Battery spoke over him.

“The storm has drifted out to sea, and now appears to behaving like a natural low pressure system. NWS thinks it will dissipate over the next three days, local fisherman and shipping interests have been advised to avoid the area. We had Gallant cautiously approach the site and he confirmed an overwhelming sense of fear and other negative emotions once he got within two blocks of the nearest crystals. We’ve cordoned off the area for now, the good news is that the crystals seem to be slowly dissolving. Armsmaster ran the numbers earlier and if nothing changes the last of them should vanish sometime next week.”

“Hopefully that will be the case,” Costa-Brown continued, “we have to many quarantined areas around the country as it is. Finally, perhaps most importantly now that we have a better idea of the extent of her abilities and her emotional state, where is Twilight Sparkle?” An uncomfortable silence briefly descended before the monitor with Dragon’s face responded.

“We don’t know Director. Shortly after reporting the situation to Armsmaster he followed the tracking device in the necklace he gave her to a dumpster about a mile away from where she left me. The asphalt around the dumpster had a series of hoof prints melted into it. I’ve got all the camera’s in the city that I can access running a recognition program for her and we’re keeping track of all the relevant media. Inferring from her statements that she needed to put distance between herself and the PRT building I have prioritized the areas furthest from there and nearby cities. Nothings turned up yet, but a purple unicorn is bound to draw someone’s attention.“

“Yeah,” Dauntless interjected, “Lets hope it’s not the wrong peoples attention.”

“To late.” Assault added in a tone of gallows humor.

Interlude 7 - Taylor

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Interlude 6 - Taylor

Taylor was about to call it a night. Even though tomorrow was a Saturday and thus she had the ability to sleep in, a week of late nights and early mornings was catching up with her. She was wandering around an industrial section of the city north of the train yards that looked like it had last seen industry sometime before the first world war. Honestly if Bakuda bombed the area she wasn’t sure if anyone would notice. There were however a great many abandoned textile mills and foundries that might be appealing to a villainous tinker set on blowing up the city and looking for a discrete place lay low. She was wearing her homeless thrift store outfit #2 on top of her spider silk costume to try to keep her profile low as her swarm spread out over the blocks in front and parallel to her. If she could somehow capture Bakuda and claim the reward, not only would she be ridding the city of the person responsible for the worst crisis in her memory, she felt it could cement her desired moral mercenary image. Possibly make a big enough impression to sway public perception of her from villain to rogue and certainly up her credentials for future clients.

Just as she decided that this block was going to be her last for the evening the bugs at northern most edge of her control ran into what she could only interpret as solid air. After days of finding nothing of any real interest at all it required no thought to head in that direction. As her area of control spread out in that direction she was slowly able to find the edges of the anomaly and form a picture of it in her head. A dome roughly 35 feet across in a large brick building that was probably three blocks long and one wide. A medium sized stream ran along the northern side that might have at one point in the past driven the machinery there. Once she got within sight of the building she paused to consider her options.

Constant practice with her bugs had expanded her ability to sense things through them, but anything visual was still beyond her. There didn’t seem to be any activity at all outside the dome, not in the building nor in the blocks around it. Noise of some sort was coming from inside the area, but while she had been making more progress on sounds than sight, it wasn’t enough for her to identify anything specific. She didn’t get the impression of conversation or of machinery, which likely meant that this wasn’t Bakuda’s lair. It was something however, and Taylor had already figured out that information was the most valuable currency in the cape community. With no other options in front of her she made her way to the side of the building farthest from the anomaly and looked for a discrete way inside.

On the stream side of the building she found a window lacking both boards and glass just outside of her reach. Keeping an eye on the dome and the surrounding area with her bugs she searched around and found a handful of bricks that when stacked up gave her just enough height to grasp the windowsill and pull herself in. As her stomach slid over the rough glittering sill she was once again grateful for the time she took in constructing her costume. Gently levering herself over the edge she eased onto the floor inside. Glass crunched under her feet as she looked around the darkened room. Dust swirled in the moonlight filtering in from the window, illuminating a hundred years of litter and faded graffiti, but not much else. It was obvious that it had been quite some time since even vagrants had graced the building with their presence. A building with more spiders and less cockroaches than one closer to human habitation would have.

Cautiously she made her way through the room and past an arched brick doorway into a wide hallway littered with mouldering scraps of lumber that looked like they had fallen from the ceiling high above. At the far end of the hall a purple light flickered from an open doorway. Something about the shade of the light seemed familiar, but she couldn’t quite place from where. When she got close enough to see through the opening she couldn’t quite believe her eyes, but she did have a answer to why that shade of purple was familiar. Twilight Sparkle, the alien unicorn that she had met on her disastrous first night out as a cape. The unicorn who had, however inadvertently, gotten her labeled as a villain. Any resentment she might have had at that thought wilted at the miserable sight in front of her.

Twilight lay in the middle of a massive room, the ground underneath her looked blackened like it had been exposed to fire and as the unicorn shifted small puffs of ash rose around her and stained her coat with dark smears. She wasn’t currently crying but tear tracks ran down the dirty fur of her face as she stared morosely at a scroll floating in front of her. A shimmering purple dome centered on the unicorn took up most of the room and started only a few feet from the the other side of the doorway Taylor was standing behind. She had heard that the PRT building where Twilight had been staying had been leveled by one of Bakuda’s bombs earlier today, but there hadn’t been any word about the unicorn in the broadcast. How had she ended up here? And in the state she was in? Taylor supposed there was only one way to find out.

“Twilight?” The unicorn startled at the sound, the scroll that had been floating in front of her lost its purple glow, rolled up, and fell to the floor. Her head swung in a frantic movement towards the sound and small flickers of flame sprung up around Twilight’s hooves.

“Who’s there?” The forcefield’s glow seemed to intensify as Twilight stood up and backed away from the door. Slowly Taylor walked into the light of doorway, pulling the hood the sweater she was wearing down to reveal her costumed mask as she did so. Twilight startled again and did a short hop backwards before a look of tentative recognition came over her equine face. “Ta? No you said that wasn’t your name. Bug?”

“Skitter actually.” The unicorn nodded and looked thoughtful for a moment before a weary look over took her.

“When we were on the roof Tattletale called you a bad guy, and you were friendly with her. Those people on the roof really hurt my friends when they robbed that bank. I..I don’t have a lot of control right now, so if..if you’re here to hurt me..”

“I’m not here to hurt you Twilight, and I don’t work with the Undersiders because I don’t want to hurt people. I wasn’t at the bank was I?” Twilight shook her head, tension in her body easing a little. “I’m not a villain Twilight, I might not be in the wards, but I’m not a bad guy either. I live here and in my own way I want to make the city a better place.”

“I wan’t to believe you, you don’t sound like a bad person. But he didn’t sound bad, and he..he killed all those people and talked about it like we were having a discussion over tea!” The flames flared around Twilight’s legs and a small piece of litter caught fire and was carried upwards by the heat. “I..I don’t know. How can I know anything anymore?”

“Who killed people?” Taylor asked in her best attempt at a calming voice, while at the same time preparing to dive to the side behind the brick doorway if it looked like the distraught alien might lash out. The unicorn shivered and her eyes went a little glassy and distant when she responded.

“He..He called himself Jack. He showed up after the tower collapsed, said he and a little girl he knew had been wanting to meet me…He had a knife, he..before I knew he was there he had killed everyone! Everyone! Even the people I had just saved…he said I deserved a proper show, like he had done me a favor…and then I…I…oh how can I ever face Celestia again?” Twilight trailed off as fresh tears trickled down her face and she turned slightly to the side. Taylor tried to put what she had just heard together and after a moment came to a horrifying conclusion. A murderer named Jack, who used knives, and talked about a little girl that he wanted to introduce Twilight to. Suddenly it seemed like a much worse idea to be wandering around Brockton Bay by herself. The slaughterhouse nine, an alien, Bakuda. What the hell was going on?

She had been a cape for a little less than two weeks. After that first awful night and her decision to go rogue she had slowly been getting her bearings. Now she felt completely out of depth all over again. Tattletale had called her exactly once, but not for a job. She had given her a number and a name and said it was a bad idea to work alone. She wasn’t sure why Tattletale had called her to offer the advice, maybe some lingering feeling of gratitude over the Lung situation, whatever the reason the advice had been good. Having people to talk to, capes that had been in the business, had saved her life at least once. They hadn’t been interested in pursuing Bakuda, but this was bigger than her, it was time to make a call.

“Twilight I know you don’t have at lot of reason to trust me and I don’t know why you haven’t gone back to the Protectorate..”

“I can’t!” Twilight interjected frantically. “He said they’d kill them!”

“Ok, It’s ok Twilight. Did you escape? Teleport?” Twilight flinched and turned her head away, just when Taylor thought she wasn’t going to respond Twilight murmured so quietly that she almost missed it.

“I killed him.” Shock, shock and disbelief. Taylor stared at the huddled unicorn without response until the muffled sobs carried to her ears. Pulling herself together she found her voice again.

“That must have been hard. But Twilight you shouldn’t let that or what he said stop you from going to your friends. People like him, they like to make you think they have more power than they do. The fact that he’s dead, I guarantee you he didn’t plan on that..”

“I can’t..I can’t take that chance. You didn’t see, what he did, I just can’t.” Twilight was crying in earnest now and had Taylor not been prevented by the forcefield and the fact she was talking to someone who had just claimed to have killed one of the worlds most feared villains she would have been tempted to go over and hug her.

“Ok, if you can’t go to your friends, maybe mine can help. Do you trust me?” Twilight choked out a half sob as she turned to face Taylor fully. She looked hesitant, to sad or to scared to hope. Something pinged in her chest, a deep sympathy, and impulsively she pulled off her mask and asked again. “Do you trust me?” A range of emotions washed over Twilight’s face and she looked upwards as if struck by a memory.

“I..ok, ok..I think If I don’t try, I might..ok..I’ll trust you.” Taylor let out a sigh of relief and returned the trust by fully entering the room and sitting down next to the doorway. Reaching into her pocket she pulled out a cell phone a dialed a string of numbers before bringing it up to her ear.

“Faultline, this is Skitter.”

5 - Friends

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As Skitter spoke quietly into the phone Twilight first dissipated then instantly recast her shield spell so that it now followed the contours of the brick room and thus included Skitter inside of it. Skitter paused and looked up at Twilight suddenly as the change happened. Twilight gave her a nervous rictus of a smile and the bug talking human went back to speaking into the phone. ‘There. Not as efficient as a dome, but now no one can sneak up behind her like..No, no I’m not going to think about that.’ Instead the Unicorn let her mind drift to a safer topic and pondered the meaning behind Skitter taking off her mask.

She had been in this world two weeks and the human notions on privacy and trust still befuddled her a little. The idea of hiding your identity in pony society where clothes were worn only at formal events or special occasions was somewhat ludicrous. Who you were, what you looked like, and your special talent were always on display to everyone around you. Humans were different. They wore clothes all the time and changed them for every activity. Some of them, mostly the magic wielding ones, had multiple names and you had to be careful to call them a particular name based on what they were wearing or they got very upset. At first Twilight thought this was something like the formal ranks and proper procedure of the royal guards, this did seem to be true for some of the members of the PRT and Peacekeepers, but the rules for the “Parahumans” seemed more subtle and complex.

After discarding the notion that they were analogous to ranks She thought maybe the “costume names” were like the human version of cutie marks. Since humans went clothed all the time any mark would be covered. So instead when you discovered your special talent you chose a name that symbolized that talent. That didn’t quite fit however, because so very few humans cast magic and surely the vast majority of their population were not still searching for their purpose. Then it had been made very clear that the non costumed names and faces were a secret not to be revealed, that the wards telling her their non talent names was a sign of trust and friendship.

Which was bizarre. Costumed or not Twilight could have picked any of the humans she had met out of a crowd. Since they could not sense the magic field, Twilight understood that they couldn’t see the unique interactions each of them made in it, but were human noses so much worse that they could not recognize an individual’s smell? Could they not hear the the uniqueness of each other’s voices? Were they so face oriented that they ignored all the other body cues that spoke so constantly to Twilight saying “This is who I am.” Twilight was still a little confused sometimes when it came to interpreting the body language of humans since they lacked the tail and mobile ears of ponies, but her lack of understanding didn’t mean that the cues that were there were no less unique and readily seen.

Twilight supposed that some of those thoughts had to be true, otherwise their customs made no sense at all. So what did it mean exactly that Skitter had shone her face to Twilight, but had not shared her non talent name? A measure of trust? Some sort of middling intimacy? Given the conversational cues and Skitters actions Twilight guessed that might be right. It was hard for her to think that way though. Everything about you made you who you were and proclaimed it to the world. Not just your name, or your face, or your talent, but all of that together with your actions, your friends, and everything else. The idea of sectioning yourself up and saying, “These parts are one me, Those parts are another,” didn’t seem right nor particularly good for someone. Still she tried to respect the intent of the gesture that the wards and now Skitter had shown her even if it was culturally strange and in practice meaningless to her. It meant something to them, and there were probably many subtleties in it that she was missing completely. Regardless it was nice to see Skitter’s face instead of the vaguely threatening mask she wore.

After another few minutes Skitter stopped talking and closed her phone. She gave Twilight a small smile before she spoke.

“Okay, it’ll take them a little while to get here and make sure they are not followed, but help’s on the way.” Twilight fidgeted nervously at the idea of more people and Skitter seemed to pick up on it. “Don’t worry they’re smart and are used to solving problems without attracting attention. Between all of us we’ll think of something.”

“I hope so. I thought I was good at solving problems, but everything here is so..” She trailed off not quite sure what word would suffice to finish that sentence. Twilight shook her head and then sneezed when it dislodged some of the dust in her mane. She looked over herself with a bit of disgust at the idea of meeting new people in her current state. She wasn’t a particularly vain pony but her parents had instilled the idea that it was politeness to be presentable when meeting new ponies. Besides like the mystery of the mask, it gave her something to think about that wasn’t what she wasn’t going to think about, no not at all. “I..I think I’m going to clean up a little before they get here.” Skitter looked around the barren room and then back to Twilight.

“Um, how? I’m not sure if this place ever had plumbing to begin with.”

“A little bit of magic.” Twilight said with a little genuine smile. The idea of casting some magic for something as mundane as getting cleaned up instead of trying to suss out dimensional travel or a life or death situation felt good, felt right. “Um, I’m still working on getting my control back so if I catch fire or glow, don’t worry ok?” Skitter looked highly skeptical of this last statement but nodded anyway. Twilight’s horn began to glow and purple fire did erupt around her hooves before the glow enveloped her and she blinked out of existence only to reappear a few feet to the right of where she had been. A small dirty shadow of Twilight stood for a second in her original location before collapsing and swirling away.

She looked over herself again. Better, but her mane and fur was still unkempt and stained in places. Not Acceptable. Horn glowing brighter, she concentrated. Unlike her teleportation, pulling this off would really test her. After she had surprised Princess Celestia with her ability to transmute a paper and quill she had given her a much more complex pattern and encouraged her to learn it, saying that it was one of the most useful applications of magic she would ever learn. Like so many things Celestia said Twilight was never sure if she had been serious or simply been testing her in some way. Flames rushed up her body and her eyes went briefly white as she completed the spell and a dull snap echoed off the brick walls.

Twilight walked over to her creation and then eased down into the Alicorn sized tub filled with steaming water whose rim rested just above the dirt floor of the room. As her mane spread out over the surface of the water Twilight let out a sigh of bliss. She would never doubt Celestia again. She dunked her head then resurfaced and opened her eyes. Skitter was looking at her with wide eyed shock. Had she done something wrong? Another taboo or custom she didn’t know about? Before she could descend into fretting Skitter snapped out of it.

“That was amazing,” she said sincerely. “I mean there have been a few rumors on the boards about what you could do, but nothing concrete, and nothing like that. So not only a mover and a blaster, but a shaker to? Well I guess the forcefields would be classified as a shaker ability, but I have never seen someone do something like you just did.” Twilight couldn’t help but be pleased, it felt nice to have someone recognize a skill she had spent such a long time practicing. She was also a little confused. Mover, blaster, shaker? She wasn’t sure if she was getting the right translation here and she was sure even with as difficult as transmutation was there had to be some human magicians capable of the task. Maybe Skitter just had not met them?

“Um, thank you. When did you realize you had a talent for speaking with insects?” A dark look overcame Skitter’s face for a moment but Twilight missed it as she was struck by the memory of a yellow pegasus with three pink butterflies as her cutie mark. A warm feeling that had nothing to do with the water temperature settled into her chest. “I think I knew someone that was good at talking with animals and insects. She was…shy? I think with ponies, but she loved animals.” Skitter let out a breath a gave what might have been a smile.

“I found my power earlier this year. I’m not sure you could call it love in my case, but I guess affection. It’s hard not to get at least a little attached to them when they help me out as much as they do.” Skitter looked like she was going to elaborate but Twilight heard something and stilled in the water and her tension must have been apparent because Skitter went still as well. One of Twilights ears rotated around to angle behind her and after a second she spoke quietly.

“A car is coming, a bigger one.”

Skitter nodded and said just as quietly, “Thats probably my friends, let me check.” She stood up and pulled her mask back on her face then pulled her phone back out and pushed a few keys. A moment later a soft chime sounded and Skitter nodded. “It is them. I’ll go meet them at the window and bring them back here. Ok?”

Twilight didn’t like the idea, no not at all. And in a moment she was out of the tub and only slightly damp. She walked up next to Skitter and contracted the shield until it was only a little bigger than the area they took up.

“Lets go together.”

When they got to the smaller room with the un-boarded window Twilight concentrated and as her horn brightened a series of translucent purple planes appeared forming steps up to the sill. A matching set descending to the ground outside materialized a moment later.

“That’s convenient.” Skitter said as the noise of a car engine approached and then shut off. “I’ve got some bugs directing them in the right direction, they should be here in a second.” Twilight fidgeted nervously again and backed away from the open window so that she was partially standing in the hallway, without really thinking about it she expanded the shield that was surrounding Skitter and herself to accommodate the new distance. A few minutes later the most unique human Twilight had yet seen came through the window and walked down the steps. His bright orange coloration and dark red mane was a color combination that wouldn’t have been out of place in Canterlot and a long prehensile tail trailed behind him. It made her think of home. Combined with the easy smile on his face Twilight’s anxiety eased a bit. She remembered Director Piggot saying there was only one human race as ponies defined the term, but clearly she was mistaken. While his coloration wouldn’t change that estimation, possessing an extra appendage certainly qualified. Interestingly he did not wear a mask and only a minimum amount of clothing which made Twilight wonder if people of his race had customs more similar to hers than the humans she had met so far.

The orange human looked over the both of them and declared, “I’ll be damned. Didn’t think you could get more conspicuous than me.” He stretched one arm up and made a beckoning gesture with his hand and a woman climbed up and inside quickly followed a small figure in a hooded robe. The woman’s clothing was strange. It was like someone had taken a Peacekeeper’s set of armor, modified it in strange ways and then put a dress on. She looked around the room like she was marking everything about it into her memory. She had the same kind of look that someone of the older royal guardsponies had. Professional. Cautious. After a moment she spoke.

“Ok, just to get the formalities out of the way. I’m Faultline, this is Labyrinth,” she gestured beside her, “and that’s Newter. Two more of my team are just outside. Gregor won’t fit through the window and I don’t want to waste time or draw attention by widening it. Skitter’s t..”

“Um, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to leave anyone alone outside. If it wouldn’t bother you or Gregor I could do a quick teleport and bring him inside?” Twilight offered hesitantly. Faultline considered this and then nodded.

“Gregor, Ms. Sparkle wants to teleport you inside. You ok with that?”

A deep voice came from just outside the window. “This would not bother me.” Twilight took a deep breath and then dismissed her shield spell, leaving the only remaining illumination in the room as the soft glow of the steps she walked up. She saw both Faultline and Newter tense slightly at the sudden change and Skitter moved her arms in what Twilight had learned was a calming gesture for humans. When she reached the sill and could look out she saw the other two members of Faultline’s team.

It was apparent who Gregor was immediately as only one of the two people outside would have any problem with the window. His pale skin shone in the soft moonlight interrupted occasionally by dark patches, like a inverted night sky. Twilight walked down the stairs and nervously looked around the area before speaking. She noticed Faultline observing from inside the window.

“Ok, um,” she looked blankly at the shorter female who interjected.


“And I am Gregor.”

“I’m Twilight Sparkle. The stairs will probably disappear once I start the teleport, so you may want to go ahead.” Twilight said as she nodded towards Spitfire. The red and black dressed human looked up at Faultline and then proceeded up the steps and into the room. Twilight went ahead and dismissed the steps and turned to Gregor while speaking loud enough for the people inside to hear. “Ok, there may be a little flame, and a bright flash and then we’ll be inside in the corner farthest from the window.” Gregor nodded and Twilight lit her horn and began to power the spell. Once again flames appeared around her hooves and Twilight had to shove the dismal thoughts about her shattered control to the back of her mind as she concentrated on the teleportation. Her horn grew brighter and then with a flash they were standing inside with everyone else. Gregor reached out with one arm and steadied himself against the wall. At the worried look from Twilight and Faultline he spoke.

“I am alright. It was disorientating but no more than that.” With this confirmation Faultline picked up where she had left off.

“Skitter’s told us a few things.” Twilight shuddered as that sentence brought her mind back to what they were all doing here. “I apologize for brining up what I must imagine is a very bad memory, but we need all the information we can get before we can tell you if we can take the job.”

“It’s..” No it wasn’t ok. “I understand. Job?” At the question Faultline shot a look in Skitter’s direction who spoke up quickly.

“Twilight. Faultline and her crew are my friends. They are good people, but they’re not like the Wards or the Protectorate, they don’t get money from the government. They have to get paid for the work they do.” Twilight looked despondent at this.

“I don’t have any money. Certainly not any human money. I’m sor-“

“Skitter told us that would likely be the case,” Faultline interjected. “Once we know the whole story, if I think the risk level is acceptable and we can help I’m sure we can settle on a non-monetary price.” Twilight looked confused by this and Skitter again hopped in to translate.

“You’re pretty powerful Twilight. What Faultline is talking about is you doing some favors for them.” Twilight brightened back up again at this before being brought down by Faultline’s next words.

“Tell us what happened.”

Twilight couldn’t force herself to start with what they really wanted to know. Instead she started at the beginning of the day. She told them about how she had been working with Dragon to try and figure out where Bakuda would place her next bombs and where she could be hiding. For fifteen or Twenty minutes she rambled on, her words meandering but inevitably bringing her closer to the worst moment in her life. When she got there she had built up enough momentum that she was able to continue. She hardly noticed the tears pouring down her face as she spoke.

“I was so scared…and sad..and confused…How..How could someone do that..act like that? He kept talking, talking so calmly about auditions and plays…he said I couldn’t ask the PRT or Protectorate for help, he said something about penalties…about other members auditioning?…I..was, something, slipping…I…lost..something..saw… something..a crystal…when he was talking.” Twilight sobbed and purple flames traced up her legs and something dark flickered into existence on the wall behind her. A palpable aura of fear filled the room and suddenly Labyrinth was there and hugging Twilight around her neck. The hug and Labyrinth’s body was stiff, almost mechanical, but it helped, it helped a lot. The overwhelming fear faded from the air and the wall returned to normal. Twilight spoke again as Labyrinth continued her embrace.

“I..lost control..my emotions @#$%@# the magic field, it fed back on itself. I..was..anger is not enough to describe…It was awful…black..evil. I didn’t have much..sense of…myself, but I did..something..I turned all of that darkness..collected it…told it to strike Jack. I..was..not quite..there, but I remember enough…I shattered his body into a million pieces…and I did it on purpose.” Twilight sobbed against Labyrinth’s shoulder and for a while the room was silent except for her tears.

“..ck me.” Newter said quietly before Gregor rested a hand on his shoulder and spoke gently in his deep voice.

“I am truly sorry. To go through that, it is terrible. I see it pains you, this taking of life. It should, everyone should feel such pain when a life is taken. Jack Slash did not, and that is what made him a monster. He spoke calmly and lightly because the suffering of others, the taking of lives, these things he did not feel at all. I am sorry that you killed him, for the hurt that it is causing you. I am not sorry at all that he is dead. Nor do I think you would find anyone that is.” Twilight looked up from Labyrinth’s shoulder and at the gentle face of the huge man. She..couldn’t accept that. At the same time his words, his understanding, had made her feel a little better. Faultline cleared her throat and spoke in her professional voice, tempered now with a little softness that was absent earlier.

“Alright. First, the Slaughterhouse Nine are in town. Thats about the worst news there is and they are way out of our league. If you were looking for someone to fight them, I’m sorry but no bounty in the world is enough for that risk.” Twilight shook her head side to side. “Here’s what we can do. We have a…meeting tomorrow with some of the other non-Protectorate capes in Brockton Bay. We were going to discuss the ABB and Bakuda and likely talk about joining forces to help the Protectorate run them down. If you remember any of your research we can pass that along to them and hopefully take care of that problem. We can also warn them about the Nine, and there are some powerful people that may be able to stop some of them, possibly between them and the heroes that will be coming to town it will be enough. Given the Nine’s interest in you the most important thing is to keep you hidden from them. We can find you a safe house, someplace nicer than this. Food, power, water, supplies…”

She trailed off as she focused on Labyrinth still hugging the unicorn.

“..company. We might find a discrete way for you to get in touch with the PRT, let them know you’re alright and share information. Basically hunker down, help where we can, and weather the storm. Would that work for you?”

Twilight thought for a moment, Labyrinth’s body still in the exact same position around her as it had been at the start of the hug. It didn’t feel right, the idea of leaving others to fight such a horrible thing. At the same time, she wasn’t sure she could face someone else like Jack. And if she did, and if she lived, she wasn’t sure she would be able to face herself. This was better than that. She shifted her eyes to Faultline.

“Thank you, someplace safe, sleep. That would be good.”

“Ok, everyone lets move. Twilight, if you would?” The glowing planes of force reappeared leading up to the window and Faultline bent down to whisper in Labyrinth’s ear who slowly and with that same mechanical feel released Twilight. When everyone was outside except Twilight and Gregor she turned to him.

“Are you ready?”

“I am.” With a flash of light they were outside standing next to the others. Faultline pointed to a run down van, that if Twilight had not known they had driven here, would have sworn had been sitting abandoned in this very lot for years. They were about halfway to it when it exploded.

Everyone flinched and crouched away from the blast as fire spread out rapidly from the wreck in every direction. Twilight saw Faultline unholster a pistol and use her other arm to begin to draw Labyrinth behind her when a fireball detonated in the middle of the group and split it in half. Faultline, Labyrinth, Spitfire, and Newter where flung to one side while Gregor, Skitter, and Twilight were hurled to the other. In the middle of her uncontrolled tumble Twilight saw a figure rise out of the flames where the blast had hit. The flames illuminated a girl’s face pockmarked with ugly circular burn scars.

Just as Twilight was sliding to a stop over the rough gravel of the lot she saw the figure in the flames raise both her arms and flames followed the movement and shot out towards both groups. Gregor threw A glob of something which intercepted the trail of fire that was headed in their direction. Bugs seemed to fly in from every direction towards the girl in the red dress standing in the flames. The girl flinched as something stung her and flames sprung up around her before being flung outwards again. Gregor threw more slime, but Skitter was grazed was knocked to the ground her costume smoldering as she rolled along the ground.

On the other side Faultline had ducked out of the flames path and dragged Labyrinth to the ground with her, Newter had leapt up and to the side in an amazing feat of athleticism. Spitfire who may have been the blast’s true target hadn’t reacted fast enough, was knocked off her feet and landed on her back engulfed in flames.

Twilight couldn’t believe this was happening again, this couldn’t be happening again! Any progress she had made reigning in her magic had been undone in the last twenty seconds, purple flames enveloped her entire body as she lay in the gravel and watched the horror unfold in front of her. The pyrokinetic turned to face Twilight more directly, her face lit by the flames around her, she had a look of apathy that somehow scared Twilight more than anger would have. As the girl raised her hands towards her Twilight heard Labyrinth yell.

“Mimi Don’t!” The girl hesitated at the scream and then vanished into the flames just as a series of gun shots rang out. She reappeared directly behind Faultline and seemed to cause an explosion in her hands that sent the mercenary flying, costume aflame and gun careening into the darkness. Newter picked up a brick with his tail and flung it hard at the girl, and she staggered as it hit her in the shoulder but the move hadn’t left him enough time to get out of the way of another blast and he was sent reeling into the dirt trailing flames.

Gregor threw two huge globs of slime and covered both Faultline and Newter, smothering the fire hugging their forms. The girl turned towards Labyrinth who was now only a few feet away and just started to say something when she was tackled from behind by Spitfire. As she was falling to the ground the girl disappeared into the flames beneath her and sprung back up directly behind Gregor. Twilight watched as the girl compressed heat between her hands and violently sent Gregor to the ground where he did not move.

A vast swarm of bugs descended into a cloud so thick around the girl that Twilight could no longer see her before they were burned away in a huge eruption of flames. Skitter was kneeling about 15 feet away from Twilight holding what her peacekeepers had described as a weapon that delivered an electrical shock. As the cloud of bugs was burning Skitter pulled the trigger and Twilight saw the girl convulse for a second before recovering and raising her arms in Skitter’s direction.

All control gone Twilight was now pulling so much magic that she no longer resembled a pony of fire, but rather a purple star to bright to look at directly. As she had done unconsciously when watching Panacea heal Aegis her perception of time sped up, but unlike that time it kept speeding up until the world seemed frozen in place. Frozen in a scene verging on horror. These people had tried to comfort her, that had wanted to help her. No one was dead yet, but Twilight knew that was about to change. She could see it with a certainty that bordered on precognition. She didn’t want to see it. Twilight had seen to much, felt to much since arriving here. Equally as frightening was the idea of trying to grasp the power that was swirling around her. Vivid memories of the murder she had committed and the crystal landscape of fear she had left behind swirled in her head.

She might have laid there forever in that frozen slice of time had she not felt the ghostly touch of a wing draping over her back. The world faded away and she burst into tears, turning and sobbing into the now fully solid alicorn laying beside her. For an long time she simply cried, cried until she felt empty. The wing stroked her back slowly, tenderly, familiarly.

“Oh Princess Celestia, I’ve tried to be brave, to make you proud, but I only made things worse. I’ve done such awful things and I’m so scared. Scared of everyone, scared of myself. Nothing is right anymore. Please, please take me home. I’m so sorry, whatever I did, please take me back to Equestria, please.” Twilight trailed off into renewed sobs, utterly defeated as the huge winged unicorn continued to stroke her back.

“Oh Twilight, my Twilight, my faithful student, I have never doubted your bravery and you have always made me proud. If I could somehow spare you this know that I would. You are not being punished and you have not failed me Twilight. You are in danger though. You are extraordinarily talented and powerful Twilight, our being here in this place is proof enough of that.” That caused Twilight to pull her head up and glance around. Twilight and Celestia appeared to be laying on a dim bed of stars, around them a blue nebula. Beyond the nebula an ominous darkness like storm clouds at sunset encroached. “But if you lose yourself, lose faith in yourself, faith in your friendships, and in those you love, you could become the monster you fear in truth. I have already had a loved one travel that path, I do not know if I could bear it a second time.”

A fractured memory flickered, almost as if it was tangible in this place and the stars around them brightened as Twilight remembered.

“Nightmare moon! She was Princess Luna, she was your sister, and I, we..used…the elements, the elements of harmony to heal her! ….Generosity, Kindness….Laughter….and….and…” As she tried to remember a bejeweled tiara resting on her head fazed in and out of reality as a deluge of broken memories and feelings flooded her being. The landscape quaked and thunder rumbled from the darkness.

“We don’t have much time. Twilight, the elements did heal her, but when my sister fell she did damage that even after a thousand years still haunts Equestria and her heart. You must not walk her path, ” Celestia’s body turned translucent for a moment before re-solidifying. The stars were growing dimmer, going out. Twilight panicked and threw her hooves around Celestia’s neck.

“No, please don’t go. Don’t make me go back, please!” Celestia brought her head down and laid her head over Twilight’s neck.

“Twilight, all beings, even ones such as you or I must, at the end, answer to time. Our time here in this place must soon come to an end least we damage it and all the places connected to it. I have faith in you Twilight, you were always a good student. You must remember your lessons.” Twilight lost her purchase as Celestia turned transparent, the stars were disappearing rapidly now.

“Please Princess! I don’t know what to do, what do I do!?” Twilight sobbed as she tried to hold onto the now ghostly form of Celestia.

“I love you Twilight, your friends love you. Remember your lessons, trust your heart.” Before Twilight could respond she felt the world lurch and she was back in the abandoned lot. The fire girl’s arms were now fully extended towards Skitter and a line of flame was crawling glacially through the air towards Skitter. Tears trickled down Twilight’s face. What had just happened? A hallucination? No, no she had been there in that other place, Celestia had really been there, but now she was back and her heart twisted in her chest. Back in this awful place. This Awful place with these nice people that were going to die for her, how could such an awful place have such nice people, how could they endure, how could they stay true to themselves?

She needed to find out. If she lived through what she was about to try, she would have to ask them.

Anyone who knew Twilight Sparkle knew that worry, anxiety, researching, testing, retesting, checking and double checking were so much a part of her that they might as well have been etched into her DNA. She had channeled these things into mostly positive aspects of her life, but all of the violence and danger and horror she had experienced had caused her to freeze up while her magic spiraled out of her control. There was no way to act quick enough to check things even once. There was no way to research enough to know that right course of action before hand.

What she was about to do went against almost everything she had ever learned about magic, and all of her rational instincts. ‘Trust your heart.’ Twilight always had trouble with that, but she trusted Princess Celestia and she trusted her friends and now she remembered. She wept tears of joy as she remembered events both world altering and mundane that had spun the threads of their lives together. If she didn’t remember everything, she remembered the most important things. Friendship, love, and harmony were higher magics, magics that were constrained only by the limits of a pony’s heart.

She looked around at the scene in front of her with new eyes and saw more. She saw the connections, the friendships and the ties binding these people together and though she hardly knew them she saw the tentative and fragile ties that connected her to them as well. Even the fire girl was tied to them by a bond to Labyrinth. It was beautiful and awful and wonderful and terrible and amazing. Twilight suddenly understood. Her special talent was magic, and in an indescribable way these connections, these friendships were magic. Magic without end. Glowing like a star Twilight stepped directly into the path of the frozen trail of flame. She pulled every good thought close to her heart, she held her memories of friends both old and new there, and directed the swirling uncontrolled potential surrounding her to that place that was both in her and somehow outside as well, that was connected to everything, and let it go.

Stretching across dimensions she felt five connections sing, a harmony of hearts and friendship, and purpose. A tiara settled on her head as a wave of rainbow light spread out from her. Time resumed and the fires ceased. Scraggly patches of weeds and grass and vines in the abandoned lot grew tall and spread, until the gravel was covered in a thick soft carpet of vegetation. A sapling struggling to hang onto the rough embankment where the lot met with the creek burgeoned into a mighty oak whose limbs stretched wide over the water and dipped under their own weight to touch the ground and rise back into the air around them.

Wings shifting on her back Twilight stepped forward and hugged the unscarred face of weeping girl in front of her.

Interlude 8 - Bonesaw

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Bonesaw walked slowly down the sidewalk, on her way back to the house Jack had found for them. Even though she was one of the most wanted criminals on the planet, no one paid her any mind. She wasn’t wearing her apron or her tools so no one paid the blond preadolescent girl any more than a passing glance. Had they looked closely they might have noticed that some of the stains on her clothes and “dirt” in her hair was in fact dried blood, but today was not a day to pay close attention to things in Brockton Bay.

Usually when she was upset she cheered herself up by creating some new and interesting art, but right now she didn’t feel like cheering up. Daddy-Jack was dead. She had asked him for a unicorn and now he was dead. It was strange to think about, how he wouldn’t be there any more. He wouldn’t tell her any more bed time stories about the old days and the original Slaughterhouse Nine. No more patient insightful critiques of her art, no one to give her those small pieces of perfect advice when she was frustrated or down. No more Daddy at all.

She guessed she had, in her head, accepted that some day Jack wouldn’t be there. He was starting to get a little older, a little slower. When she saw that her understanding of biology had told her it was only a matter of time until the day he was just to slow. Her heart hadn’t accepted that though, how could there be a world without Daddy? Why hadn’t he seen, why hadn’t he moved when the bad unicorn had started to get all glowy? She had never seen Jack surprised, but just before the end he was. He looked surprised, and now that strange expression that didn’t belong to Daddy-Jack at all would always be the way she remembered him.

Bonesaw might have gone and seen what had been left of Jack had that place not felt so wrong. Every step closer to the place where Jack had died made her feel worse, worse than she could ever remember feeling. Bad memories that didn’t make any sense. So she had taken off her apron and run away from that place until the awful memories had stopped. Since then she had slowly been wandering back to the house, the others would want to know if Cherish hadn’t told them yet.

She didn’t think they would be a family much longer. Daddy-Jack was the one that had kept them together and made everyone sit down to dinner together. Crawler would try to fight Momma-Siberian and either she would let him and he would die, or she wouldn’t and he would go away and die. He wasn’t as tough as he liked to think he was. Mannequin might stay or he might continue his quest alone. Bonesaw liked him, but he wasn’t much of a sharer. Cherish would stay because she was a naughty sister that thought Daddy-Jack and Bonesaw didn’t know she was trying to slowly brainwash the rest of the family. Daddy-Jack had been so looking forward to surprising her, now he never would.

Without Daddy’s guidance she thought Burnscar would drift away, the heroes would get her, eventually. Shatterbird would leave, Daddy-Jack was the only one she thought was smart and mature enough to talk to. She would make a mess first. It wasn’t fair, she had asked for a unicorn and now her whole family was going to go away. It wasn’t fair at all.

She was so lost in thought she didn’t see the woman in the suit until she was right in front of her. She wasn’t in top mental shape right now, but something about her made Bonesaw uneasy. Before she could formulate her scattered thoughts the woman spoke.

“It’s dangerous out here today. You should be a good girl and get home as quick as you can.” With that the woman stepped past her. By the time Bonesaw’s mind had caught up informing her how strange that encounter was she spun around to find the woman was nowhere to be seen. Quickening her pace she reached the house only a few minutes later. She really wanted a hug, but after looking around the only one home was Cherish. She was laying on the floor next to the living room window, breathing shallowly with a look of fear etched on her face. ‘Hmmm,’ she thought looking down at Cherish. The others must still all be out recruiting their own candidates for the open position in the Nine.

She took one of the oversized white aprons off a hook by the door and ducked her head under the neck loop before walking downstairs to the basement. After they had moved in Jack had given her the basement to use as her artist studio. Body parts hung from a series of hooks along the wall and a couple of industrial shelving units held all of her current stock of electronics. A few uncompleted works stood unmoving in the corner where she had left them earlier and Hatchet Face’s body lay on the big wooden table in the center of the room, breathing through a cobbled together ventilator until she decided what to do with him. She’d been lucky enough to get to him right after Cherish killed him to take his place as part of the Nine.

She really wanted someone to hug right now. Bonesaw’s mind quickly flashed to the image of the cute purple alien unicorn and she braced one arm against the table as a few tears trickled down her face. No she didn’t want that bad unicorn anymore. A thought struck her and she jolted upright. She looked around the room again taking in all the parts she had, she looked at Hatchet Face, and then she turned her eyes upwards towards the ceiling and Cherish laying in a fugue state above. Bonesaw walked over to the shelves and pulled down a toolbox. Some of the other’s candidates would fail, and she could probably convince them to give her the left overs. Momma-Siberian could find her anything special she needed.

She didn’t want the bad unicorn, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t make one. A good one.

6 - Allies (Part 1)

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Twilight wasn’t sure how long she stood there hugging Mimi as she cried into her fur, but after some time had passed she heard some murmuring behind her. Someone cleared their throat and she maintained her hug of the distraught girl as Skitter spoke.

“Um, Twilight? Are you okay?” Twilight nuzzled the now sniffling girl she was hugging before releasing her embrace and turning to face Skitter. She felt one of Mimi’s hands settle at the base of her neck and press down as though she needed to support to keep standing. Skitter was standing about ten feet away while the others where gathered a little further back. Their clothes were burned and torn, and Twilight could see angry red welts on Faultline’s exposed skin as she leaned against the large mass of Gregor. Newter was helping Spitfire sit up gently and Labyrinth was clutching Faultline’s hand tightly.

Twilight released a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. No one had died. This wasn’t the tower, this wasn’t the apartment buildings. It was okay, this was okay. She closed her eyes briefly and breathed deep as she listened to the wind brush gently through the leaves above her and felt the soft grass under her hooves. It was okay, she was okay.

“I’m alright,” she said opening her eyes. “I remembered…” A few tears gathered in her eyes as she mentally hugged the memories of her friends. “I’m just so glad everyone’s okay.” Skitter let out a breath of her own and some of the tension in her posture relaxed. She glanced over her shoulder at her friends and then around the green field that had replaced the abandoned lot where they had been fighting. Finally she looked at the girl that had slipped down beside her and was now sitting and leaning her head against Twilight’s side.

“And her? Is she okay? Twilight what did you do?” Skitter finished with a pointed look at the weeping girl. Twilight fidgeted a little, something felt different about that. Something her body was trying to tell her but she didn’t want to get sidetracked right now. She wasn’t sure she could explain, not really. She didn’t even understand all of it.

“I..I can’t speak for her. I don’t think anyone would be okay after what she went through.” Twilight thought she heard Spitfire mutter something in response to that but she continued. “I’m not sure how to explain it all in your words. I’m not sure I could explain it all if you spoke equestrian, but she’s not a bad person. She didn’t even come here to try to hurt me or you.”

“She seemed real set on doing just that a moment ago.” Faultline interjected in a voice that was laced with an unhealthy sounding wheeze. Twilight flinched at that as the Mimi’s body tensed a little against her.

“She didn’t really, all she really wanted was to see a friend.” Twilight saw Labyrinth tense up at this and Faultline narrowed her eyes a little. “Not in a bad way, I think she just wanted to talk. I could see..$@$%..her..connections, she really didn’t want to do more than that, but something was wrong, something was…twisting..them….!#$!#…dimming them? I remembered. I didn’t remember everything, but I remembered so much. I saw…I felt my friends and we…@$%@$ !#$!# elements of harmony, using them together we were able to @$%@$@…untangle her? Make her connections right?”

Their faces were a mix of incredulity and wariness. Twilight realized that it wasn’t just Mimi they where wary of, but her. She didn’t understand that. Why would they be scared of her? She wished she could translate this better, she was messing this up somehow.

“I..don’t have the words for what I’m trying to explain. But she didn’t want to hurt people, not deep down, and now she doesn’t have to anymore.” Twilight leaned her head down and softly brushed it against the side of the girl’s face. Before Twilight could continue Mimi started to speak even as her tears continued.

“I..I didn’t want to. I never meant to! I was to weak, to weak to not use it. And when I used it I didn’t care anymore. I..used it sometimes because I didn’t want to feel, and it let me not care. I..how can I..everything I did, all those awful things I did.” She stopped talking and just sobbed for a moment before continuing. “What am I going to do? The Nine are going to kill me and if they don’t they’ll put me in the birdcage and I’ll die there instead. I, what..”

“We’ll help you, that’s what friends are for.” Twilight gently pressed herself against Mimi’s side.

“Twilight I’m not sur..”
“The Fuc..”

“You can come with me. Hiding two people from the Nine can’t be any harder than just hiding me. We’re going to figure out what to do about these Nine people and afterwards we can figure out where you want to go from there. I know some people in your government that maybe able to help you.” When Mimi tensed, Twilight quickly reassured “In a good way.” Skitter and her friends still looked worried and unsure, but Faultline seemed to be making an effort to pull herself together and done her professional mask once again.

“Twilight - how do you know these things? How do you know she’s safe? What did you mean by connections? I’m sorry but I can’t risk my people with such an unknown.” Twilight sagged at this, but she understood. Faultline wanted to protect her friends and she hadn’t seen what Twilight did.

“I understand. I’m not sure I can explain beyond what I have already said.” Thinking of a certain pink pony she even smiled a little. “I know how frustrating something like that can be. I know we just met and that there’s no reason for you to believe what I just said. It’s okay. Thank you for coming, for talking with me and being willing to help, but I can’t leave her.” Mimi looked up in startled amazement at this and Twilight nodded reassuringly at her. Before Twilight could start trying to figure out what she was going to do Skitter spoke up again.

“I’ve got a place you can stay.” Twilight’s spirits leaped at that and she couldn’t help the bright smile that found its way onto her face. Nobody else looked particularly happy about it but when they tried to interject Skitter waved them off. “No, This is actually for the best. I can act as a go between, use my bugs to pass messages and plant dead drops. We can still do all the things we were before to try and help out, and you guys don’t have to risk drawing the attention of the Nine.”

“No, instead all of that risk would fall to you.” Faultline grumbled and then in a quieter voice Twilight almost didn’t catch, “and other risks I’m not sure any of us understand.”

“It’s my risk to take, and Twilight probably saved my life the first night I was out as a cape. I owe her one.”

“You don’t,” Twilight blurted at this.

“Then lets just say I want to. What do you say, sleep over at my place?” Skitter asked with a little devil may care bravado.

“Wait wait wait!” Newter interjected. “Is no one going to mention the elephant in the room? Let’s ignore the mystic mind whammy and the verdant park from nowhere - She’s got fucking wings!” Twilight startled at this and spun her head around. Sure enough a set of wings rested on her back. Upon paying attention to them they sprung open, larger than regular pegasus wings.

“Oh..Oh, wow, ok, those are, um, new. The elements never did anything like that before.” Twilight tried to make them fold back against her side, but instead generated a couple of fitful flaps that brought here a half a foot off the ground before stumbling back to her hooves. “I wow, um..I need to research..magical abnormalities..history of alicorns..pegasus flight mechanics...oh but human libraries won't have any of the books I need...a checklist, I need a checklist.” So saying a couple of scattered rocks glowed for a moment before becoming a scroll and a quill. Faultline spoke up again.

“Let’s not get sidetracked. The plan has changed a little, but not substantially. Even this far out in the boonies someone is going to notice this.” She gestured at the changed landscape around them. “We need to get moving. Especially since we no longer have transport.” Shooting a guarded look at Mimi she continued. “The rest of us will head back to our secondary base of operations to be on the safe side. Skitter, you know where the meeting is going to be tomorrow. We’ll see you there and we can do some planning afterwards once we know how the others are going to act regarding the ABB and the Nine. Twilight…stay safe. Lets go people.”

Tugging her hand out of Faultline’s grip Labyrinth slowly walked over knelt down and after a moment of hesitation gave Mimi a quick hug. She got back up quickly and almost ran back to the others. Gregor gave a solemn wave before stepping over to Spitfire and gently lifting her into his arms. Newter leapt out in front and they started making their way down the street. Skitter watched until they were out of sight and then turned to look back at Twilight and Mimi. Twilight gave her a nervous smile as her new appendages shifted erratically on her back.

“So, sleepover?”


Twilight’s new wings continued to twitch and move randomly as they skulked through another abandoned alley, their path having gotten more and more convoluted the closer into town they got. Since Twilight was what Skitter had called, ‘more than conspicuous,’ they had been forced into a twisting two steps forward one step back path Skitter had scouted out with her bugs.

It was now getting very late, and by all rights given the day she had and the miles they had just covered Twilight should have been exhausted. Certainly she had been ready to drop by the time she was discovered by Skitter. Using the elements or the change she had undergone had instead left her brimming with energy. Her newfound memories had buoyed her emotions and allowed her to regain control, she wasn’t glowing or unintentionally summoning magical flames anymore, but now it seemed almost eager. Waiting to leap not just from her horn, but from her her hooves and wings too.

Twilight glanced to her side to check on Mimi and then forward again to make sure they weren’t falling to far behind Skitter. The need to be discrete and silent wasn’t helping her restlessness nor did it seem to be helping anyone’s emotional state if anything she had learned about human body language was true. Finally after another series of random turns they came to the back of a two story brick building and a solid looking metal door without a handle. Skitter paused and after a moment Twilight heard a muffled clack. The door eased open an inch before Skitter grabbed the edge and opening it ushered them inside.

Twilight felt herself freeze and Mimi clutch her neck when Skitter closed the door behind them and plunged the room into near totally darkness. She was halfway into conjuring a light spell when she heard a click and soft slightly blue tinged light filled the room. They were in a large kitchen, not nearly as big as you would find in the palace, but certainly bigger than a household’s. Glancing behind her at the door Twilight saw that it had a sliding metal bar as a locking mechanism that was wrapped in webbing that narrowed into a thick strand that passed through a pulley and then disappeared into a freshly drilled hole in the counter that was closest to it. Seeing what Twilight was looking at Skitter spoke before Twilight could investigate it further.

“I wouldn’t open that cabinet.” She said indicating the place beneath the drilled counter top. Skitter’s voice had a tone that Twilight remembered some of her friends used when they were warning you about something, but also sorta secretly hoped you do it anyway. She now remembered one too many pranks by Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash to let her innate curiosity seduce her into opening said cabinet.

“Hmm,” Twilight vocalized as she glanced between the door, the cabinet, and Skitter whose talent after all was speaking to insects of every imaginable type. Giving Skitter a small smile that conveyed a, ‘what you’re doing, I see it look,’ she continued. “Thanks for the warning. What is this place?” Looking around Twilight saw that the lighting all looked like it was coming from small electric bulbs strung by recently added wire secured to the ceiling and leading back to to large black boxes with metal poles sticking out of them that rested by the door. Clearly whatever this place was it wasn’t currently connected to central utilities like the PRT building had been.

“It’s an old city firehouse, probably been 30 years since this part of town had the funding to support it. It seemed like the perfect place for a lair, lots of space. Follow me, I’ll give you the not so grand tour.” Mimi and Twilight followed Skitter through an arched doorway and into a large open room with two huge opening on the other side that were sealed by large metal doors. In the corner closest to them a spiral staircase made of iron wound its way up to a second floor, while a polished brass pole stood proudly in the center of the open space leading up to a circular opening in the ceiling.

“This is where they used to keep the trucks, but it works well enough as a workspace.” Skitter gestured to a hoofull of folding tables along one wall and what looked like some recently installed shelving. One had a half finished copy of Skitter’s costume laid out on it, while another was piled randomly with construction tools. The shelves were occupied almost entirely by terrariums. Twilight wandered over to the table covered in tools and Mimi walked slowly to the brass pole and stared up its length. “Come on upstairs and I’ll show you where we’re sleeping tonight.”

Twilight’s eyebrow twitched at the disorganized table and when Skitter turned away to head for the stairs she quickly lit her horn and arranged the tools by type and size, all placed neatly an equal distance from their neighbors. Extinguishing the light on her horn and letting out a satisfied sigh she quickly trotted over to the others to keep up.

The second floor was split with one side having a couple of what looked like offices while the other side was a large open space filled with a dozen metal bed frames. The closest frame actually had a mattress and sheets with a beaten up nightstand holding a couple of books, while the others were bare grey metal. In the middle between the two rows of beds the brass pole from below rose from a hole in the floor guarded by an iron rail with a human sized hole on one side.

“And here’s where we sleep. I use the offices for silk production and the best silk spinners around here are black widows, so, um I recommend not going over there, there kinda territorial.” Twilight glanced uneasily at the previously harmless looking offices and thought of some of Fluttershy’s more unconventional friends who she had similarly described as ‘a little territorial.’ She decided to stay as far away from said offices as possible. “It doesn’t look like much, but trust me you did not want to see this place when I first found it.”

Twilight jumped in quickly to put that worry to rest as Mimi walked past her towards the beds. “Oh no, you’ve done a great job, I can only imagine how much a mess it was after being abandoned so long. I think it’s great. Certainly nicer than that old factory.” Skitter yawned and turned back to the stairs.

“I’ve got some spare sheets and a sleeping bag downstairs, we should be able to make some pallets to sleep on with them. I’ll run down and get them, if either of you want something to drink there’s some water and soda in that cooler over there, help yourselves.” Skitter started back down the stairs but just before her head disappeared down them Mimi spoke for the first time since leaving the lot.

“Hey, does this pole still work?” At Skitters hesitant nod Mimi smiled and jumped to the pole and slid quickly out of sight. Twilight’s ears rotated and she heard quiet laughter and quick footsteps heading towards the stairs. An indescribable warm feeling rose in her chest and shooting a challenging grin towards Skitter she ran to the hole and leapt to pole, delighted giggles following her down. At the bottom she had to roll out of the way of Skitter who had somehow managed a much faster slide. Mimi looked at the two of them from the base of the stairs before flashing a grin and running up them Twilight and Skitter fast on her heels.


An hour later Twilight was settling into her makeshift bed as she used her magic to gently comb Mimi’s hair. They hadn’t had materials for makeovers, smores, or even a pillow fight and Twilight was in no mood for ghost stories. But they had talked, not about anything really, and some unspoken agreement not to bring up anything serious had formed somewhere along the line. Mimi was mostly quiet, but seemed content to listen. Skitter’s mask was a small discordant note, by the end however Twilight had almost stopped noticing it.

She clopped her fore hooves together. She had even managed to get them into a game of twenty questions! It hadn’t been a textbook slumber party, besides missing a few key steps Twilight couldn’t remember there being a section on fire poles. Clearly the latter was an oversight that she was sure future editions would remedy with a judicious letter to the publisher. Overall Twilight thought it was pretty good for her first attempt at a cross dimensional multi-species sleepover.

None of her problems had gone away. The same things that had driven her to despair where still out there, waiting for her. But for now, right now, she was warm, safe, and with friends. For now she was happy and she pulled that feeling close and basked in it. Tomorrow would come, and when it did she would face it. With friends both near and far, old and new, strange and wonderful.

Struck by a thought she levitated a small notepad and pen they had been using earlier to keep score and flipped it to a new page. One more thing to do.

“Dear Princess Celestia,


The next morning after Skitter had left to meet with Faultline and then the other non-PRT capes Twilight had started on a project of her own. With a transmuted piece of chalk she had began drawling intricate circular patterns and designs all over the concrete floor of the old truck bay. Complex Equestrian runes wrapped some, while others were inlaid with fractal geometric patterns. Hovering in the air above her Mimi had created three small globes of fire to light the room. She was sitting about halfway up the spiral staircase with her legs dangling over the edge. She was wearing some sweatpants and a too big ‘hoodie’ that Skitter had loaned her and seemed content to watch while Twilight worked.

Lost in her work Twilight didn’t realize how much time had passed until she heard the clack of the door opening in the kitchen. With no natural light inside it was hard to tell, but most of the day must be gone if Skitter was already back from the meeting. A few moments later Skitter walked into the room still wearing her somewhat creepy bug costume and stared at the floor before looking up at the floating orbs of fire, and then over to Twilight.

“Do I want to know? You’re not about to summon some dark creature from beyond our realm of understanding are you?”

“What?! No of course not, those practices have been banned for thousands of years! Why would I do something like that?” Twilight sputtered in shock. Skitter waved her hands in that human motion that said to calm down.

“Hey, easy, I was joking,” she looked around at the patterns again lit by the flickering orbs of flame, “mostly. So what are you doing?”

Twilight smiled brightly at the question and straightened her posture. “I’m creating a series of spell circles to help me create a memory crystal.” Realizing that neither Skitter or Mimi would know what a spell circle was she continued. “Hmm, It’s like a…guide, or maybe like a mnemonic, but also a…@$@%^..battery or capacitor? as well. The spell I’m going to cast is really complicated and delicate, and instead of holding it all in my head at once I can do some of it before hand and….$Q$#@..set the some of the magic in place, and then during the course of casting I can…@$%@…chain?…them together using the patterns.”

“So what spell are you going to cast?” Skitter asked seeming to stumble over the words spell and cast.

“I’m going to try and create a memory crystal. If I’m successful I’ll be able create a three dimensional recording of myself and store it in the crystal. I think I can construct a spell to send it to the wards and I was thinking it would be nice to really show them I’m alright. It’s a little labor intensive, but I didn’t really have anything to do until you got back. I’m almost done.” Twilight set her chalk down. “So what happened at the meeting? What is everyone going to do?” Skitter stared at the pattern for a moment in thought before shaking her head.



The place was called Somer’s Rock. A dilapidated bar on a dilapidated street on which the businesses that remained opened only seemed to be because their owners had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. Upon entering the place Skitter found that the inside decor matched the outside impression. She had done a little running around before the meeting and thus was one of the last people to get there. Taking a look around at the gathered capes what popped into her head was, ‘I have never seen a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.’ Faultline and Skitter both had thought that it would be advantageous if there wasn’t an explicit connection between them so Skitter settled onto a stool by the bar by herself. The people that Faultline and Skitter had been calling ‘non-PRT’ capes mostly consisted of some of the most notorious villains in the north east.

Several tables had been pushed together in the center of the room and the leaders of the various factions of Brockton Bay’s criminal underworld were seated there while their compatriots filled the booths around it. Skitter had done her research and set about identifying the people that had decided to show. At the far end of the table was a man armored from head to toe and wearing a crown of blades who could only be Kaiser. He was the head of what was probably the most powerful gang in Brockton Bay, Empire 88, a white supremacist group that recruited like minded capes from all over the world. Sitting in a booth behind him were the rest of the Empire’s representatives.

A pair of blond twins, Fenja and Menja, in valkyrie style armor and full face helms. They could grow three stories tall and were a hundred times more durable than a human when they did. The woman in a pure white costume and eyes glowing bright enough that she was hard to look at had to be Purity. Krieg, Night, Fog, and Hookwolf rounded out their table. It was the kind of firepower that nearly any Protectorate division would be jealous to have.

Next to Kaiser at the table was a skeletally thin man in a skin tight black costume whose only distinguishing feature was a white snake design that started at his head, wrapped around his neck, and then trailed down to one ankle. Faultline had briefed her on him, no one was sure if he had a power or not, but apparently he ran a good section of downtown with highly trained ex-military from around the world. He had hired Faultline for a few jobs that left her with the impression that he was very well founded. That he was here alone said something about his confidence at least.

Skitter recognized the costumed form of Tattletale sitting further down the table, and the rest of the Undersiders sitting in another booth. Up until their disastrous run in with the Wards and Twilight during the bank robbery they had been a not much noticed, but rising star of the local underworld. They were still missing Grue, but apparently Bitch had somehow managed to escape custody they also had another member that she didn’t recognize. She had never been more glad that she hadn’t taken Tattletale’s offer to join then when she heard the news about Bitch and Grue’s capture. When Twilight had told her about it from her perspective it had only reinforced the idea she had dodged a bullet.

A man in a black costume and a red tophat and mask was sitting across from Tattletale. A girl, a guy, and some sort of gorilla were sitting in a booth and wore costumes with a matching color scheme. Skitter didn’t recognize them, but given the fact that their leader was sitting at the main table while the leader of the Merchants sulked discontentedly with a few other shabbily dressed members of his meth dealing and using gang at the most distant booth in the place said that he must have some sort of reputation.

Faultline rounded out the central table with the Gregor, Newter, and Spitfire occupying the booth closest to the Empire’s. Skitter felt a little out of place being the only lone cape in the joint, but nobody had gainsaid her presence and everyone in the room seemed to be paying attention to the head table. Which suited her just fine, Skitter and Faultline had met earlier and gone over everything. They agreed that Faultline was going to be the one to do any talking. Coil steepled his fingers in front of him and started things off.

“That should be everyone. Seems Lung won’t be coming, though I doubt any of us are surprised, given the nature of tonight’s discussion.”

“The ABB,” Kaiser replied.

“Hundreds confirmed dead, more hospitalized. The PRT headquarters downtown leveled while the first extraterrestrial being ever contacted was staying there. Said alien still missing and possibly dead. Causing international outrage. Random bombings, running battles in the streets between ABB and police and military. They are targeting our businesses and are pushing into all of our territories. All of this with no indication that they are stopping anytime soon.”

“It is inconvenient,” Kaiser nodded.

“They're being reckless,” Faultline interjected. “Beyond reckless, outright insane.”

“Which is the real concern,” Coil continued. “They can’t sustain this. Something will give, they will self destruct sooner or later, and cease to be an issue. Had things played out differently we could have even looked at this a good thing. But their actions even before the tower bombing were drawing far to much attention, bringing in heroes from other cities and a Homeland Security presence here. The tower bombing has shined the light of the world on our city, and if we don’t contain it we may all find ourselves exposed in it.”

“They’ve gotten the attention of more than just the government,” Faultline spoke with deadly seriousness. “I have first hand confirmation that the Slaughterhouse Nine are in town.” At that declaration the room went silent, even the endless dissatisfied muttering of the Merchants stopped.

“Fuck me,” Tattletale breathed, “Thats true, you ran into one of them, shit you beat one of them, no-“

“Yes,” Faultline spoke over Tattletale. “Burnscar attacked my group last night, she’s…no longer a problem. I also have it from what I would consider a reliable source that Jack Slash died the night before last not long after the tower explosion.” Once again silenced reigned. While the individual life expectancy of a member of the Nine was about six months, Jack slash had been a member of the Nine for a decade and had developed a reputation as the luckiest psychopath that walked the face of the earth. Jack Slash being dead was world changing news. Once again it was Tattletale the broke the silence.

“Holy shit, he is dead, you met the person that killed him, they helped you with Burnscar..fuck Twilight Sparkle killed him, she lived through the bombing.” Faultline’s expression shifted to aggrieved, bordering on pissed.

“Yes, when we parted ways I got the idea she was going to lay low for now. Jack gave her the impression before she killed him that if she tried to shelter with the Protectorate or PRT that they would be the Nine’s next targets.” Faultline paused for a moment and then continued when no one picked up the conversation. “So that is probably the biggest reason to deal with the ABB and deal with them quickly. Quite frankly we have bigger problems and can’t afford to be distracted by them.” The cape in the tophat let out a soft whistle.

“Well, that was bracing. I would say that Twilight Sparkle’s introduction to humanity these past two weeks has been..sub-optimal. A mad bomber, an S-Class threat, and a being from another world.” Skitter thought he stressed those last two words a little more than the rest as he shot a quick look at his team. “This city is more interesting than I gave it credit for.”

“Quite,” Coil responded. “So, given this new information, are we in agreement? The ABB cannot be allowed to continue operating.” Nods and murmurs of agreement went around the room.

“Then I suggest we establish a truce. Not just everyone here, but between ourselves and the law. I would contact authorities and let them know that until the ABB and the Nine are taken care of or driven off, our groups will restrict our illegal activity to only what is absolutely essential to our business, and we will enforce the same for those doing business in our territories. That would let police forces and military focus entirely on these threats as well. There would be no violence, infighting between our groups, grabs for territory, thefts or insults. We band together with those we can tolerate for guaranteed victory, and we ignore those we cannot cooperate with. Kaiser?”

“I think that is acceptable,” Kaiser agreed.

“Yeah,” Tattletale said. “Unless we all want to try doing business in the smoking cinder that used to be Brockton Bay we need to take care of this, were in.”

The man in the tophat tipped it. “A little more fun than we had planned on, but no problem, count us in.”


…There are always a few snags when you try to get a bunch of different capes working together, but they all agreed to put aside any differences they have for now to take care of the ABB and not interfere with each other until the Nine leave the city or are otherwise out of the picture.” Twilight was both relieved and worried. Relived that so many people were going to band together to help each other and her, worried about the danger those nice people were going to be putting themselves in.

“Thats good news, thank you so much for going. I just hope everyone stays safe.” Twilight bent back down and made a few more marks on the floor before neatly placing her chalk in a small box she had drawn in the corner. “Done! Now all I have to do is charge and configure the @$%# circles and I’ll be ready to cast the spell.”

“So when your done you’ll have a crystal that will show a 3D recording of you?” Skitter inquired.

“Um-hmm,” Twilight nodded absently as she glanced between the patterns on the floor and a sheet of paper she was levitating in front of her, making large checkmarks as she went down a list. Skitter paused for a moment before continuing in a light tone.

“Did you know that it is a tradition to start such recordings with a specific greeting?” Twilight looked up from her list with a puzzled frown.


“Yup, don’t worry though, it’s nothing complicated.” After Skitter had explained the greeting Twilight was very confused. It was a very strange way to greet someone, either her translation spell was failing her or it was a human idiom that had passed well beyond it’s original meaning. Regardless it was no problem adding it in front of what she wanted to tell the Wards and the PRT.


The next morning a scroll addressed the Wards with a small clear crystal attached by a ribbon materialized with a purple flash in front of Vista as she was eating cereal in the Protectorate cafeteria. Vista flinched back from the scroll before realizing she recognized that shade of purple.

“Twilight!” She exclaimed drawing the attention of the other Wards and members of the Protectorate that were present. Sliding the ribbon holding the scroll together off she unrolled it. Reading the brief and neatly written instructions she proceeded to baffle everyone else when she tossed the crystal into her water glass. The glass glowed bright purple for a moment and then suddenly Twilight Sparkle was standing on the table. Twilight turned her head to the side for a second and then faced forward again. Vista tried to reach out and touch her and found her hand passing through Twilight’s leg with no resistance. Then the unicorn spoke.

“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope…”

6 - Allies (Part 2)

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Twilight trotted slowly along the tops of the stratocumulus that stretched over Brockton Bay. The sun was just beginning to set and the clouds above and below her where lit up in an amazing display of color. Another time and another place she would have been content to do nothing but simply sit and take it in as the setting sun and shifting clouds painted the ever changing scene like an artist working a canvas. She felt she understood Rainbow Dash a little bit better now.

She wished the mare was here, she could have used the flying lessons. It had taken her three days of effort to get to the point where she could awkwardly wobble in the direction she wanted to go. She never would have risked flying to the height of even the lowest of the clouds with her current ability had the situation been less dire. The long harrowing climb up to the cloud tops had been like riding a roller-coaster that you were pretty sure was going to collapse at any moment.

Twilight didn’t have any idea why she had undergone the changes she had and it added to the desperately long list of reasons why she needed to get back to Equestria. Her whole internal magic network had..changed, was changing still and she didn’t know why. She thought the number of unanswered questions she had discovered since arriving on this world had reached infinity, and though infinity was a concept and not a number that could be reached she felt that spontaneously growing wings justified the hyperbole just this once.

She needed Princess Celestia, she was the only one Twilight felt that could possibly begin to explain all of this. Twilight wanted to feel those great wings wrap around her and that soothing voice comfort her so badly it was physical ache in her chest.

Nevertheless when she had woken up three days ago to find herself in a fog bank she had somehow created in her sleep it had given her an idea. An idea that had required learning to fly, the not insignificant number of bruises that went along with that, and a new fear of spiders brought on by crashing through the wall of one of Skitter’s silk production rooms.

While faster and safer than her ungainly flight, walking on clouds turned out to be more complicated that it looked. The clouds were constantly moving and shifting in the wind, making little hills and valleys, and small eddies that spun her around unexpectedly. A few hours ago she had almost gotten swept off her feet by a sudden gust, and quite by accident discovered she could cause a section of clouds to stop moving altogether. After reveling in this new found ability and stability for a moment she had then struggled for the next hour to undo it. Leaving a trail of stationary clouds in the sky lacked a certain subtly and stealth that her plan required.

The entire time she had been practicing her ability to creatively bruise herself she had been nervously listening to Skitter’s radio and dreading each new report about what was going on in the city while she hid. The longer it took for her to figure this out, the longer it took for her to get out there and help, the more people died and the more likely it was that she would hear one of her friends’ names.

The morning after Skitter had returned from the cape meeting they had all been woken up by the sounds of shattering glass. Skitter and Mimi had explained that Shatterbird, one of the Slaughterhouse Nine’s members, had a talent in manipulating glass over a huge area. They had been lucky in that the only windows in the old fire-station had been boarded up long ago. Skitter’s terrariums downstairs, and the rest of the city hadn’t been so fortunate. Hospitals had been near capacity since Bakuda’s mad bombing campaign had begun and now they were overflowing with the injured, blind, and dead.

Yesterday the news reported that another one of the Nine, a man named Mannequin, had killed several of the scientists that had been working on the project to somehow contact Twilight’s world. Even though he apparently always targeted people that were actively trying to make the world a better place, Twilight couldn’t help but feel that it had been a gruesome message to her, and feel responsible for it.

She had cried off and on that whole day, but despair wouldn’t bring those people back and it wouldn’t help anybody else either, so she forced herself to continue working even as she sobbed. That Mimi had been ready with a bottle of water and a hug every time she needed a break had helped a lot.

Maybe most worrying of all however was the news that hadn’t happened. Of the the groups three most powerful members: Bonesaw, Crawler, and Siberian, no one had heard or seen anything. The feeling she got from talking to Skitter was that if they hadn’t acted by now, it was only because they were planning something particularly horrifying.

On top of all this the ABB still hadn’t stopped their war against the city. It had slowed down for a couple of days after the horrible night of the PRT building collapse and Lung’s escape, but now it was escalating again. Almost as if Bakuda was in some sort of sick competition with the Nine for biggest atrocity of the day.

She hadn’t yet thought of anyway to deal with the inaccurately named Slaughterhouse Nine, but maybe if her plan worked at least the ABB would be stopped. Following the slight tug on her horn she veered to the west and hopped over a small break in the clouds before jerking back at the sudden appearance of a tall black haired human in a black and grey costume with the image of a tower on the center of her chest. A heavy cape attached to the woman’s shoulders swirled around as she came to a stop a few feet in front of Twilight.

Scrambling backwards her wings spread to their full extension in an instinctive alarm response she hadn’t had a few days ago. In a response she was far more familiar with the clouds around them reflected the purple glow of her horn as magic gathered there in reaction to her fright. The woman tensed and floated backwards, her feet brushing through the wispy tops of the clouds without resistance.

“Easy,” the woman said in a gentle but confident voice as she came to a stop about five paces away. Twilight let herself calm down a little and examined how the human was effecting the magic field around her. Lacking wings and obviously not interacting with the clouds Twilight felt for and found a complex gravity manipulation field around the woman that was much like the one Aegis used.

Feeling her wings relax a little as she got over her initial bout of panic Twilight watched the hovering human carefully. She didn’t recognize her, and her meetings with unknown parahumans over the past two weeks had a tendency to go…poorly.

“Easy,” the woman repeated. “I’m not here to hurt you. I know you don’t know me, but my name is Alexandria and I’m one of the leaders of the Protectorate. We’ve been looking for you since you disappeared, a lot of people all over the world have been pretty worried about you.” Twilight processed this claim. She had heard several people in the PRT and some of her friends in the wards mention Alexandria. Aegis had even called his set of talents an “Alexandria package.” The combination of flight, strength, and durability apparently common enough to be named after the most famous and talented person to have exhibited those skills. Still, Twilight didn’t have anyway to know that this was actually the Alexandria.

“How do I know you’re actually her? I don’t want to doubt what you are saying, but…” Twilight trailed off, uncomfortable with the direction of those thoughts. “How did you even find me up here?” she asked changing the subject.

“We have satellites orbiting the earth above the city and power cameras attached to them. One of them spotted you a short time ago, your coat color really stands out against the white of clouds. That we found you walking on top of the clouds was almost as much of a surprise as the recording you sent to the wards a few days ago.” The person claiming to be Alexandria smiled a little. “I won’t even ask where you heard about that old movie quote.” ‘Movie quote?’ Twilight didn’t know what she was referring to, but found herself relaxing a little at the woman’s reassuring tone.

“As for proof of who I am?” She paused for a moment and then pulled a small device out of pocket on her costume’s back. “I can call Armsmaster and let you talk to him so he can vouch for me. He’s probably in front of the monitors watching us right now anyway.” Twilight let out a breath, almost convinced now.

“Yes. Thank you. I’m sorry about asking you to do it-“

“Don’t worry about it,” she said as she pushed a few buttons on the device. “You’ve had a rough week.” Seemingly satisfied she stretched the arm she was holding the device in out to Twilight who took it as her cue to levitate it over to herself. It was a little bit longer than her hoof and not quite as wide. One side was made out of a polished black metal while the other had a screen like the ones she seen in the conference rooms. Armsmaster’s face stared back at her as she flipped it over.

“Armsmaster! Oh it’s good to see you’re alright. I heard on the news that you had been hurt.” He seemed a little nonplussed at the greeting, but made an effort at smiling. Twilight had noticed when she had talked with him before that he didn’t do it often.

“It’s good to see you as well Twilight. I’m fine, my motorcycle got caught on the edge of one of Bakuda’s bomb blasts, but my armor kept me safe.” Before Twilight could inquire about everyone else the woman interrupted.

“Armsmaster, we have to keep this brief, could you let Ms. Sparkle know that I am who I say I am?”

“You can trust her Twilight, she’s one of the most powerful heroes on the planet and dedicated her life to helping people. I’ll let you two get back to your discussion.” With that the little screen went black. Twilight floated the device back with a small frown on her face from having to cut the conversation so short.

“Alright, now that’s out of the way. It’s a pleasure to meet you Twilight Sparkle, I’ve been looking forward to it since I heard the news of your arrival.” Twilight blushed a little at the implied notoriety and returned the greeting.

“Um, thank you, it’s nice to meet you as well.” Alexandria floated a little closer now that the introductions had been made.

“While I don’t necessarily agree with your decision to leave the protection of the PRT, I do understand and respect why you did it. In your message a few days ago you said had found a safe place to stay hidden from the Slaughterhouse Nine and given your greeting I assume you have found someone you can trust this secret to as well?” Twilight nodded, a little nervous, only for those nerves to be put to rest a moment later.

“Good. Don’t worry, I won’t ask who they are. The question I do have is: What are you doing up here?” Alexandria asked as she swept her arm out to gesture at the red lit clouds.

“Oh, um, I had an idea. With some help from M..well from a friend I was able to create a long range tracking spell focused on fire based spells and their after effects. I’m hoping I can use it to track down Lung, and that Bakuda is with him. Since I have these now,” Twilight ruffled her wings, “I figured I would use the clouds to follow the spell without being seen.” Glancing upwards she said, “I guess It wasn’t as good an idea as I thought.” Alexandria paused for a moment seeming to think about this before continuing.

“What did you intend to do once you found them?” Twilight looked over her shoulder at the human backpack she had modified to rest on her back between her wings and magically unzipped on of the pockets and pulled a series of scrolls and small crystals out of it.

“I am going to tell all my friends.”

“Alright. I have a history with Lung myself, do you mind if I accompany you?” Alexandria asked in a tone that basically precluded Twilight from saying anything but no. Not that she would have anyway. Everything anyone had said about the human woman around Twilight had been praise, and she needed all the help she could get.

“No, please. Thank you for offering, and even if we don’t find Lung tonight I wouldn’t mind the company.” Twilight said as she levitated the scrolls back into her bag and zipped it shut. “It’s beautiful up here, but a little lonely too.” Alexandria nodded and fell in beside Twilight as she started following the gentle tugs on her horn again.

“It is serene. I sometimes take in the sunset over the ocean out in Los Angeles where I’m based, not just for the beauty of it, but also to spend a few quiet minutes in place where few are likely to disturb me.” Alexandria floated quietly beside Twilight as she walked for a few minutes before continuing. “The wings are new since the last time I saw you on Television. If you don’t mind me asking is it normal for your kind to grow them?” Twilight paused her steps for a second before shaking it off and continuing along the cloud tops.

“I, um, don’t mind really. Honestly it’s not normal at all. There are only three, well I guess technically four now if you count me, Alicorns in recorded history. I can’t explain it, and I have no idea why it happened.”

“Alicorns?” Twilight couldn’t see it with Alexandria’s helmet in the way, but she knew a raised eyebrow when she heard one.

“Yes, unicorns have magic mainly expressed through their horns, pegasi in their wings, and earth ponies through their hooves and diffused more generally in their entire body. Alicorns have all these traits combined. Somehow I’ve turned into one. Poof. Wings from nowhere that don’t ever want to do what I tell them.” Twilight trailed off with a grumble.

“You said that before you transformed there were only three alicorns known to your history?”

“Mm, hmm,” Twilight said a little distractedly as her horn pulled her a little more sharply to the north. “Princess Celestia, her sister Princess Luna, and Princess Cadance”

“So the only alicorns ever recorded are all currently living?” Still distracted by the strengthening pull Twilight didn’t notice the slight change in Alexandria’s tone.

“Of course. Princess Celestia and Princess Luna have been around almost since ponies started recording history. They’ve ruled Equestria for over a thousand years.” Twilight suddenly jerked to a stop and her head swung down towards the cloud bank before she arrested the motion. “I think we may be here, or at least that is what my tracking spell is saying.”

Twilight braced her forehooves against the cloud in front of her and concentrated. All of the clouds motion within about twenty feet of her stopped and as she raised her hooves a perfect cylinder of cloud came up with them. With an audible grunt Twilight jerked her hooves upwards quickly and then let go. The cloud cylinder accelerated it’s upward drift and few seconds later a fifty foot pillar of cloud drifted above them. A perfectly cut hole through the clouds showed the unmaintained roofs of a run down residential area.

When Twilight turned back to look Alexandria, she found the human staring at her.


“You never cease to surprise, Twilight Sparkle. How are you doing that?”

“Oh, ah, pegasi have a…hmm, humans would probably call it an instinctive hydro kinesis when in contact with water vapor, it’s one of the things that came with the wings.” Twilight trailed of shyly before turning back to the hole. Her voice was confident when she spoke again. “My spell is saying that large building there has had a lot of fire based magic used in it very recently.” Alexandria floated over to the edge of the hole and looked down.

“I think you may be right. There are several people hanging around the surrounding block that give me more the impression of lookouts than loiterers.” She pulled out her screen device again. “I’m going to call Armsmaster and have him start coordinating a containment effort for this area. If you have been working with people you think can help with Lung and Bakuda give them this phone number so we can coordinate.” Alexandria said as she flipped device over and display a series of 10 digits.

Twilight pulled out two scrolls and a pen and quickly jotted down a message and the number. Rolling the scrolls up with her magic she lit her horn and the scrolls dissipated into a purple mist that shot away from them at speed.

“My friends should get them in about a minute.” Alexandria nodded as she slipped something into her ear and clicked it.

“Armsmaster. This is Alexandria, I just sent you the GPS coordinates Twilight Sparkle and I believe may be Lung’s current hideout. Expect a call within the next minute from some friends of Ms. Sparkle, they are going to coordinate with you on this. It's a run down residential neighborhood and if Bakuda and Lung are on site we don’t know what they may do. I trust your judgment so put together a team you think suited for what could be an unpredictable situation. Let me know when you are ready.” She tapped her ear again and went back to watching the scene below.

As Twilight watched the scene below she tried to keep herself calm. Just the idea of what could happen in the next few minutes and the danger she was calling her friends to had her heart trying to accelerate out of her chest. Alexandria was talking quietly and Twilight assumed she was using the communication device in her ear again to speak with Armsmaster.

“I see. Well that goes beyond the unofficial truce we currently have arranged.” She paused, “No I don’t think it will be a problem, with as bad as things have gotten and as much damage as the ABB’s done I don’t think the public will object to much.” She shook her head. “Tell them we’ll treat it the same way we treat an endbringer fight. Full truce until hostilities are over and the wounded are treated, with the same consequences for anyone breaking it. Alright, see you in ten.” Alexandria kept her eyes on the scene below but spoke louder to draw Twilight’s full attention.

“You’ve made some interesting friends these past few days Ms. Sparkle.”

“Oh yes, they’ve really been very kind and even though some of them apparently don’t like each other all that much they all agreed to help stop the ABB. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to hear that after all the awful things that have happened since I got here.”

“Ms. Sparkle do you know wh- we’re out of time.” A van had pulled up in front of the house and a couple of other cars were coming down the street, a group of people one of whom could have been Lung walked down the steps towards the cars. “Armsmaster, the ABB are on the move. I’m going to go down, engage, and try to disable Bakuda and hold them here, I don’t like the look of the van that just pulled up. Twilight, help will be here shortly, do not follow me, we can not afford to have you injured or killed tonight.” With that she dove through the clouds so fast it almost appeared she teleported.

Alexandria landed in the middle of the group that had been coming out of the house and hurled the largest one through the air and then through the front wall of the building, Twilight saw the figure ignite as it made contact. Spinning around punched the shortest one in the stomach causing them to crumple to the ground. Then something strange happened, a half dozen people appeared from nowhere and surrounded Alexandria. When she struck at them they turned to dust and more appeared somewhere else. Twilight watched anxiously wondering if there was anything she could do since Alexandria had told her to stay aloft.

Then everything exploded.

When Twilight’s eyes cleared nothing recognizable remained of the neighborhood below. Every Building she could see was leveled. Some areas were burning, while others had simply ceased to be entirely. Looking around frantically Twilight saw one area that seemed to have frozen an explosion in time and at the edge of it was Alexandria struggling to her feet and missing an arm.

Before she even realized she had teleported, Twilight was by Alexandria’s side and wrapping the bleeding stump in a telekinetic field.

“Get..Away from here.” Alexandria said between coughs, “Lung, not safe.”

“I can’t leave you, you could bleed to death before anyone else got here!” Before Alexandria could argue further a large section of rubble shifted and Lung emerged from it letting out a bestial roar as he did. Trailing flames he charged towards them and Alexandria seeming to ignore the fact that she was missing three quarters of her left arm met him with a punch that hurled him a hundred feet through the ruins of the neighborhood.

Twilight felt a shift in the field behind her and instinctively braced her forehooves and kicked out with her rear legs. She connected with something and then feeling that something crack and give before the field shifted again. Spinning around she saw a human dressed entirely in black with a demon like mask laying on the ground clutching his chest before he dissipated into ash.

“Twilight shield now!” Twilight didn’t hesitate and translucent purple dome sprang around them just before a hulking tentacled monstrosity slammed into it. It looked like a cross between a giant panther and a bear, that is if someone had covered the resulting hybrid in armor plated scales, tentacles, eyes, gave it extra limbs and made it’s head the size of one of Celestia’s sky chariots.

“Ahh!” Twilight said backpedalling until she ran into Alexandria. “What is that thing! Nobody told me that the city had anything like that living in it! How could nobody tell me something like that?!” The creature clawed the dome and Twilight felt the strain on her horn increase to compensate for the damage it was trying to inflict on it. It opened its mouth and sprayed a stream of something over the dome that sizzled when it ran down the side and made contact with the ground.

“That’s Crawler,” Alexandria replied with remarkable calm. “He’s a member of the Slaughterhouse Nine. He started out human, but every time he’s injured his body regenerates and adapts to whatever hurt him. Not much does anymore and he travels with the Nine for the explicit purpose of drawing the attention of those that can still inflict damage on him.” She turned from Crawler tearing at the shield to a now much larger Lung running towards them. “How long can you maintain this?” Crawler interrupted Twilight’s response in a voice that was all the more disturbing for how human it was.

“If you hide behind the shield much longer, I will grow bored and instead try to kill as many people in this city as I can. I’ve come to see what you can do Twilight Sparkle, do not disappoint me.” Then the creature spun faster than anything that size should be able to and leaped out of the way of the charging body of Lung whose flames washed over the dome before he delivered a earth shaking punch to the shield. Twilight winced and the glow around her horn intensified.

“What do I do, what do I do?” Twilight spun in a short circle as if looking for an answer to appear before her. Lung launched a fireball at Crawler who made no effort to dodge it, one of it’s smaller tentacles burned away but otherwise he seemed unbothered by it. Crawler returned the favor by spraying a jet of acid at Lung causing him to bellow in pain and wash the whole area flames.

“Twilight, help is less than a minute away. Teleport away and drop the shield. I am invulnerable and neither Crawler or Lung is capable of injuring me.” Twilight stopped her spinning and stared at the stump where Alexandria’s left arm had been. “I am mostly invulnerable. I will try to hold them here. Do it Twilight Sparkle, I will be okay.” Twilight took a deep breath, collected herself, and focused on the field she had wrapped around Alexandria’s injured arm causing it to glow brighter. Nodding once she vanished as the shield winked out of existence.

Twilight reappeared fifteen hundred feet above where she had been standing and began to tumble erratically through the air. Getting her wings open they caught the air with a snap and turned her tumble into a slowly descending spiral. Below, Alexandria had somehow managed to sink her hand into the massive neck of crawler and was spinning the mutated human to keep him between her and an increasingly monstrous Lung.

The battle below seemed like a stalemate, none of the combatants seemed able to truly hurt any of the others and Twilight was racking her brain for something she could do to help. She had circled down to about half her original height when something flew in and blasted lung off his feet. Then an individual in glowing armor arrived and drove an arcing spear into Lung driving him farther back. Dauntless. Right behind him slamming a fist into Crawler and allowing Alexandria to disengage was Assault.

The Protectorate was here! Armsmaster was sprinting towards the battle with his halberd and Miss Militia was keeping her distance bracing what looked like a tube of metal on her shoulder. Assault jumped backwards and something shot from the tube and exploded against crawler’s side leaving pockmarks of injuries that healed over almost as fast as they appeared.

At the edge of the zone of destruction Twilight eyes were drawn to two gigantic humans marching towards the battle while popping sounds and small explosions echoed from the direction they were coming from.

“Twilight Sparkle!” Crawler screamed as Alexandria and Assault pummeled him from opposite sides. “None here can harm me, no prison will hold me, eventually I will grow tired of this and I will keep my promise.” He paused to leap backwards and nearly landed on top of Dauntless who just managed to disengage from Lung and roll out of the way.

The two giantesses and a storm of floating metal descended upon Lung freeing up Dauntless, Miss Militia, and Armsmaster to fight Crawler. Even with the newly arrived reinforcements Twilight couldn’t help but feel what the beast had said was true. The heroes could not seem to inflict any lasting damage on him. Someone was going to get hurt, people were going to die, people were probably already dead from that massive explosion earlier. Twilight felt inside herself for the harmony that had helped her reach Mimi, but it seemed distant, separated from her as if by a wall she couldn’t breach.

An idea came to her then and something settled heavily over Twilight’s heart. So much of herself had been lost when she arrived on this world, and a few days ago she had gotten a lot of that back. Now, she knew she was about to lose something of herself again. What did it say about her that she had even thought of what she was about to do? This was a decision that wasn’t going to be made it the throws of despair and half out of her mind. It was one she was going to make with malice aforethought, because she wasn’t smart enough to think of anything else. Horn glowing brightly, she circled lower to the battle as she concentrated on the spell she was going to perform.

With a flash she teleported to the ground beside Alexandria and cast a plane of force between the heroes and Crawler bisecting several of his tentacles in the process. Crawler backed up and his inequine maw opened to display rows of viscous and misshaped teeth in what might have been an attempt at a smile. Alexandria stood beside her while the other heroes used the temporary safety to back off and talk quickly with each other. About a block behind Crawler, a forest of twisting iron beams seemed to be hemming Lung in while a glowing white ball unleashed blinding beams of light from above onto his back.

“Are these shields all you can do?” Crawler growled dismissively.

“Please, stop. Why are you doing this?” Twilight asked with resignation and a last desperate hope as her horn grew brighter.

“I’m doing this Twilight Sparkle,” He charged forward and smashed his claws against the shield causing it to ripple and shudder, “because you are not stopping me.” Then he spun and sprinted towards the capes attacking Lung. With a deafening crack Twilight cast her spell and Crawler’s sprint turned into an uncontrolled slide as his entire body from mid back to rear legs and the surrounding ground turned to water and splashed around what remained of him.

Crawler released an agonized gurgle and drug himself on three legs, entrails hanging behind him as he turned back to face Twilight. If anything that horrible smile was wider. She could see however that regardless of the catastrophic damage she had done, his body was repairing itself faster than she would have thought possible. Twilight panted in exertion while Miss Militia launched another exploding projectile and Dauntless rocketed forward with his electric spear and shield again.

“He won’t stop, why won’t he stop?” Twilight asked quietly as she charged another spell. “He’s not going to is he?” Alexandria still standing beside her didn’t take her eyes off the fight while she responded.

“No, he will not.” Twilight’s horn grew brighter still and her wings flared open as purple streamers of light began to flare of her feathers.

“Tell them to get away from him!” Apparently Alexandria had her communications device on because without her speaking the Protectorate capes broke away from Crawler instantly. Twilight’s and Crawler’s bodies were outlined in purple and connected by a thin strand of shimmering light. Crawler paused as if curious and content to see what Twilight would do. The strand of light snapped and Crawler launched skyward as Twilight dropped to the ground, eyes filled with tears as she watched the rapidly dwindling form disappearing into the atmosphere.

Alexandria didn’t stay, instead she flew over to Armsmaster who tossed her his halberd. She then flew towards the fight with Lung which had slowly been drifting farther from their location. Dauntless and Assault followed while Armsmaster and Miss Militia walked over to where Twilight was laying on the ground. With a bluntness Twilight had come to expect from Armsmaster he spoke.

“What did you do?”

“I, I reversed gravity on his body. He wasn’t going to stop. He said he would kill people, and he wasn’t going to stop.” Twilight said with a sniffle.

“Twilight,” Miss Militia said gently. “When will it where off? Where will he come down?”

“It won’t, he won’t.” Twilight paused and tried to collect herself. “Are the others okay? What are we going to do about Lung? Do they need help?” She got back to her hooves slowly and turned to look in that direction, but couldn’t see anything beyond the attacks of the flying globe of light and occasional eruptions of flame. Armsmaster spoke again.

“Alexandria has a plan for Lung. Miss Militia will stay with you, I’m going to meet up with Faultline, she say’s they have a lead on Oni Lee.” With that he ran towards his motorcycle and a minute later speed away towards the north. Twilight frowned after him and then turned back to look at ongoing battle with Lung and repeated her questions.

“Is everyone okay? Should we go help?”

“There were likely a good number of civilians and members of the ABB that were killed in the initial blast. Of those fighting the ABB I believe Alexandria’s injury is the worst so far.” Miss Militia said as she softly laid a hand on Twilight’s neck. “If Alexandria says she has a plan and hasn’t called for us, then I trust her. She is not one to pass up an advantage if our participation could provide her one. You have done a good thing Twilight Sparkle. Countless lives would have been lost had those bombs gone off someplace more populated. Crawler has killed many and would have killed many more had you not stopped him.”

Twilight flinched but didn’t respond. She had taken one of her precious memories, magic that Princess Celestia had taught her with love, and used it to kill someone. She believed what Miss Militia said, that her actions had saved peoples lives. She believed it and thats why she had done what she did. A selfish part of herself however, crying and wrapped tightly around her memories, disagreed. It didn’t think it was worth it at all.

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Topic: Twilight Sparkle
In: Boards ► News ► Events ►World
Bagrat (Original Poster) (Veteran Member) (The Guy in the Know)
Posted on April 12th, 2011:
FIRST CONTACT. That just happened. It’s pretty early, but I’ve got to earn my badge^ so here’s what I know. I’m sure everyone here has watched the speech from the UN, if not do so here.

What we know from the the UN speech:

• Appearance: You all saw the video, cute is the only word. Every bad sci fi invasion film with gross insectoid aliens has been proven a lie. We have met the enemy and they are adorable, and if Twilight Sparkle is to be believed, not particularly interested in being our enemy. A side note on her name: I am going to assume since she is telling us her name in our language that it is a literal translation. Like how Japanese names written out will mean things like “snow flower” or “winter’s child” or how “john” means “Gift from Jehovah.”

• Language: All Star Trek geeks are vindicated, universal translation exists, sort of. Twilight Sparkle demonstrated an ability to speak in every language represented at the UN. How? Apparently her species has much finer control/understanding over the energy that grants capes their abilities, which has allowed them to develop a means to “teach” certain powers to individuals that have a certain base level of ability. The ramifications of this are huge and there is a whole thread dedicated to that topic alone.

• Arrival: She wasn’t very clear here and seemed to struggle to find the suitable words (translation problems?) but apparently there was some kind of accident that resulted in her being thrown across dimensions or space or both. She landed in the docks area of Brockton Bay. Check out those links If you are not familiar with the city, suffice to say that humanity probably didn’t make a stellar first impression.

• Her Background: Piecing together her speech this is what I gathered. She has a personal relationship with her country’s ruler, she’s an academic or a researcher specializing in “magic” or what I’m going to call parahuman energy. Their country is apparently some kind of monarchy ruled by a pony named Celestia. Their planet has multiple sentient races, which she didn’t elaborate on, and it sounds like they live mostly in piece with each other. While I will assume a little bit of gloss on descriptions of her home (wouldn’t you want to make the best impression if you were talking about earth) since she hopes to re-establish contact with her world I will take her statements as rose colored but mostly accurate.

Further Speculation (Things I have evidence for, but can’t prove):
After going through the video a dozen times and parsing out what I could, I called some people in Brockton Bay and did some digging through the news.

She arrived last night in the docks are of Brockton Bay, and last night Lung was captured in that same area after tangling with a pretty obscure gang and an unknown cape who controls bugs Skitter. Now the news report is pretty detailed, and Armsmaster didn’t arrive on scene till the end, who told him what happened? Was Lung, who has taken on multiple PRT teams really taken down by these relative unknowns? We also know that shortly after this Twilight Sparkle arrived at Protectorate ENE’s base. This picture from a red light camera is grainy but it seems to show Twilight Sparkle with Armsmaster.

Putting this together it’s possible that Twilight Sparkle ran into Lung and this unknown cape on the night of her arrival. Maybe Twilight Sparkle has a few more tricks up her sleeves (can you use that expression for a race that doesn’t have arms or wear clothes?) than TK and translation and that’s why Lung is wrapped in containment foam in a holding cell right now?

I’m a cape geek, I’m a cape geek that other cape geeks go to for info, but I live depressingly far away from Brockton Bay. Now we have an alien cape that possibly took down Lung or helped to take him down. We need to know more. I’m putting out an all call to those of you in the Brockton Bay area, if you know anything and can back it up with evidence PM me.

This thread is for news related to Twilight Sparkle and discussion based on verifiable evidence, for any other topics related to Twilight Sparkle see this index of threads.

(Showing page 1137 of 1138)

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
That video only confirms what that leaked one from earlier last week showed. Sometime between the destruction of the PRT building in Brockton Bay on 4/22 and the battle with Lung and Crawler on 4/28 Twilight Sparkle grew a set of wings. Has there been any official comment from anyone on that development?

Ouroboros (Cape husband)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
@Messerschmitt - Lots of talking heads, but nothing official. Look who really cares about whatever superficial biology the alien super being chooses to wear this week. Did you see what she did to Crawler? All anyone is saying officially is that Crawler died in the attack. Does anybody know what she actually did?

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Who cares what she actually did? She took out Crawler, a member of the Nine that Alexandria couldn’t damage. Think about that sentence. All I’m going to say is: thank god she’s friendly.

► XxVoid_CowboyxX
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Sure she’s friendly, look at what has happened in the city since she arrived. It’s some scary [censored]. All things considered the faster they find a way to send her home, the better.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Two things:
1) You don’t need to censor yourself.
2) You can’t blame the alien for humanity’s problems. She may have had a hand in the original capture of Lung, which may have caused Bakuda to go off the deep end, but heroes have been trying to put Lung away for years it was going to come to a head at some point. Since he choose to live in Brockton Bay it was always going to get ugly for your city when it did.

► Sikan (Veteran Member)(Twilight Acolyte)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Through her actions and assistance the following villains no longer plague our world: Lung, Bakuda, and Crawler. She assisted rescue operations during Bakuda’s Terror Campaign, and an unconfirmed rumor is going around the PRT ranks that Jack Slash is dead. A villain that has evaded all attempts to kill or capture him dead after coming to the City Twilight Sparkle has chosen to grace. We should offer our thanks and hope that she continues to bless us with her presence.

Anti-Chicken(Veteran Member)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
@Sikan - This thread is for news and at least somewhat verifiable evidence, unless you have anything concrete that can point to Jack Slash’s death and Twilight Sparkle’s involvement this is not the place for rumormongering. I do agree though that she has been a net positive, if not quite so emphatically.

Now that she has proven to be so powerful, I wonder what balance the various government bodies will try to strike between protecting the alien ambassador and requesting her assistance. Also the other world governments can’t be two happy with how the americans have been handling the situation so far.

► XxVoid_CowboyxX
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
I censored myself because I don’t want an infraction and a ban for swearing.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
@ Void Cowboy: If they gave infractions for swearing half the board would be banned by now.
@ Sikan: Can you please tone down the religious awe, she’s an alien unicorn, not the second coming.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Anyone else a little worried about the kind of report Twilight Sparkle is going to give on earth-bet when/if she gets back to her home world. Sure she may be all sweetness and light, that doesn’t mean her entire species is.

End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … 1136, 1137, 1138

Topic: Lung Captured
In: Boards ► Places ► America ►Brockton Bay ► Teams ►ABB
Novus ordo (Original Poster) (Moderator: Brockton Bay)
Posted on April 12th, 2011 :

Just got the press release. Seems like he was ambushed by a new villain and the Undersiders. Armsmaster arrived afterwards and tranqued what was left. So the question is, what does this mean for the bay? I’ve lived here too long to think anything good will come from this.

Edit: New villain’s name is Skitter

Edit: Debate if Skitter is a Villain

Edit: Escaped from PRT custody 4/22/11, see here

Edit: Recaptured 4/28/11- incarcerated in the birdcage 4/29/11

(Showing page 216 of 223)

► XxVoid_CowboyxX
Replied on May 3rd:
@ Missing and Presumed Dead
All I’m saying is the first time he was captured Bakuda went schitzo and blew up the city. Now’s he’s captured again, but the psychopath teleporter that he was keeping under control is still out there. I feel less safe now than before.

Drift240 (Veteran Member)
Replied on May 3rd, 2011:
@ Missing and Presumed Dead
Yeah look, there have been a lot of villains sent to the birdcage over the years, can you honestly say that the world is better now than it was?

CanadianLynx(Veteran Member)
Replied on May 3rd, 2011:
@ Cowboy
Are you really suggesting you would rather that Lung, Bakuda, and Oni Lee were still on the loose in your city instead of just Oni Lee?

Replied on May 3rd, 2011:
I know this is off topic, but the Slaughterhouse Nine are in Brockton Bay. If anyone has Oni Lee in their top ten things to worry about, they have their priorities wrong.

Replied on May 4th, 2011:
@ Thebes - Unless they recruit him, everything I’ve read about him makes it sound like he would fit right in.

Lord Ajaxx
Replied on May 4th, 2011:
@ nythng - They are already having that debate in another thread, Let’s not repeat it here.

It was brought up before, but I think it bears bringing up again. Lung was the only villain powerful enough to keep Empire 88 and their cadre of capes in check. With him out of the picture, and if there is anything left standing after the Nine depart, it’s going to be a bad time to be a minority in the city.

► nythng
Replied on May 4th, 2011:
Won’t the protectorate step up? Maybe keep some of the capes from other cities on hand until E88 gets the message not to rock the boat to much?

Ghost Bear (Verified PRT Agent)
Replied on May 4th, 2011:
I can’t believe some people here. I helped recover bodies from more than one of Bakuda’s attacks, and Lung has ruined more lives over the years than I can count. Of course it’s better that their off the street. If villains come to take their place, we will stop them too. The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind all in time.

Space Amoeba(Index Specialist)
Replied on May 4th, 2011:
@ Ghost Bear:
1 – Do you really think Brockton Bay is better now than it was say five years ago?
2 – With regular PRT agents effectively powerless against the stronger capes, how is the PRT useful in these situations?
3 – What the happened on the 22nd? Was Jack Slash really there at the PRT building?
4 – Do you think having your attention split between your traditional duty and protecting an alien ambassador contributed to the ongoing crises in Brockton Bay?

► Scribbles (Cape Wife)
Replied on May 4th, 2011:
@ Space Amoeba – Ease up, I don’t think you appreciate how stressful being in law enforcement is. Especially in Brockton Bay this past month. Read his post again, he’s been recovering bodies, probably putting his life on the line every day, probably knows people that were killed in the PRT building bombing. My husband has only been there for a few days and I can tell it’s wearing on him already.

End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … 215, 216, 217 … 223

Topic: Strange Things in the Bay
In: Boards ► Places ► Brockton Bay ► Main
GalaxyView (Original Poster)
Posted on April 22nd, 2011:

Ok, so everyone knows by now that Bakuda seriously escalated, she destroyed the PRT building earlier today in a coordinated attack with Oni Lee to spring Lung from custody. For the rundown on those things go here.

What I am wondering about is this and this. A Giant storm formed out of a clear sky over downtown and no one can get within a couple blocks of the former PRT building without getting scared shitless. It doesn’t seem to fit Bakuda’s style, and the PRT arn’t talking about it.

These pictures, taken by someone much braver than I am show what look like dark crystals growing from the ground and buildings. Anyone know what the hell is going on? Noticed anything else unexplained going on?

Edit: Timeline of Unexplained events being discussed as of 5/1/2011

4/22 - A huge storm appears in downtown and several blocks are quarantined. Pictures show the area covered in dark crystals and anyone close enough becomes overwhelmed by fear.

4/23 - Hundreds of people report seeing a rainbow colored wave of light appearing on the north side of town. Those closest to the event report having felt content, or at peace immediately afterwards.

4/28 - Dozens of people notice and record clouds seemingly frozen in place in the sky.

(Showing page 347 of 348)

Miss Darian (Protectorate Employee)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Look, there was no coverup. No one that was in the building, outside of the reinforced basement, survived and they were trapped until well after whatever happened happened. The PRT and Protectorate are not the illuminati, think of how hard it is to keep a secret nowadays, do you really believe a huge government organization could bottle something like that up?

Lurking Bowser
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
I’m not sure that it says anything good about an organization that has to keep hundreds of cape identities secret claiming they cant keep a secret. You are claiming they are either incompetent or liars, or both.

I think everyone here is overthinking things though. We know capes tend to get their powers during stressful situations. The last few weeks have been plenty stressful and the unexplained events could very well be two new capes. One with some sort of control over the weather and one with some sort of emotional broadcasting ability, like a wide area effect Gallant.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
@ Miss Darian - At least one pony survived. As others have stated. If she wasn’t the cause she at least was a first hand witness, but strangely she hasn’t come forward to talk about it and no one in the Protectorate or PRT has made an effort to ask. Which leads me to believe she was the cause, and when you put that together with what happened on the 28th makes her pretty fucking terrifying.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Definitely terrifying. I’m scared to leave my house.

Commodore Strawberry
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Oh come on! All the evidence we have shows that her power is focused around TK and forcefields. Now your trying to add weather manipulation and wide area emotional effects. Powers don’t work that way, they follow a theme!

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Eidolon’s power does.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Ah there it is, comparison to Eidolon, I’m invoking Wildbow’s law to declare the conversation over.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Word is that there starting to open up some of the blocks around the old PRT building that weren’t damaged in the blast, and photos show that there are hardly any of those crystals left. Looks like whatever happened is wearing off, whoever caused it.

Terra2 (Veteran Member)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
I don’t care if the crystals are gone, If I worked in that area, I would quit.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
If we abandoned every area where bad parahuman mojo went down we’d all be living out at sea like those people in that bad earth-alph film waterworld. If the PRT is giving the all clear, then its fine - they’re a pretty paranoid group (seeMadison and Caberra for examples).

End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … 346, 347, 348

Topic: Twilight Sparkle Speculation
In: Boards ► Debates ► Twilight Sparkle ► Theories Thread 24
Sikan (Veteran Member)(Twilight Acolyte)
Posted on May 5th, 2011:

Another thread reached it’s post limit in honor of our glorious winged savior from beyond the stars. You can find an index of the threads here. (Thanks to Amoeba)

(Showing page 1 of 1)

Lathona (Wiki Warrior)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
I can’t believe we’ve hit 24 threads, the Endbringers only have 13.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Cute purple pegacorn is a lot less depressing to speculate about.

Sikan (Veteran Member)(Twilight Acolyte)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Please clockwork, until our lady tells us to use a different name she is still a unicorn as that is how she describes herself. Let us not impose our preconceived notions upon her.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
I can’t believe all the people here have such a rosy view of the alien. I live in Brockton Bay, trust me it’s not all sunshine and daisies.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Since the battle with Crawler we have not heard or seen anything about Twilight. Does anyone know where she is and what she’s doing now? What she did was amazing and it really gives me hope for the future, I mean imagine if everyone on her planet is like her!

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Since the battle with Crawler we have not heard or seen anything about Twilight. Does anyone know where she is and what she’s doing now? What she did was amazing and it really gives me hope for the future, I mean imagine if everyone on her planet is like her! Edit - Lagg, sry double post.

Sikan (Veteran Member)(Twilight Acolyte)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
@ IdahoGirl We suspect that she is working behind the scenes to avoid giving her enemies a place at which to strike at her until she is ready to confront them. Soon the rest of the Nine shall feel her righteous justice.

Uber (Veteran Member)(Twilight Acolyte)(Verified cape)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Leet and I have just finished our latest mod to Twilight Unicorn Attack upgrading the in game graphics to match her current appearance and incorporate the abilities she showed in her outing against Crawler. Which I have to say again, was badass. Leet & I welcome our new adorable overlord. We also compiled and edited all the best Twilight footage into this video here. Keep the faith brothers.

Vista (Verified Cape) (Wards ENE)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
@ Sikan I’ve been on patrol with Twilight, she hates violence and is really broken up over having to hurt anyone, even people like the Nine. So if you like her as much as your badge keep that in mind before posting about her smiting enemies. Remember these are real people (or ponies) your talking about.

End of Page. 1

Topic: Slaughterhouse Nine in Brockton Bay
In: Boards ► Places ► America ►Brockton Bay Discussion (Public Board)
Crockett’s Last Stand (Original Poster) (Veteran Member)
Posted on April 23rd, 2011:

Just announced. Press release here. List of capes responding from other cities here.

(Showing page 77 of 77)

NotVeryMad (Veteran Member)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Anyone else creeped out by the relative peace the past few days? Don’t get me wrong the city needs all the quiet it can get after the past month, but even if we believe the rumors about Jack Slash being dead that means they’ve been in town two weeks and we have not seen Bonesaw, Siberian, Burnscar, or Hatchet Face at all. Not that I want to see them, but them being so quiet seems off, and I’m scared of what it could mean.

Teneriz (Verified PRT Agent)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
@ moonshine You have my condolences. We are doing our best to track down Mannequin and bring him to justice. There is a kill order out for any member of the Nine, so no one is going to be pulling any punches. I’ve lost some close friends in recent weeks as well, believe me when I say that the entire PRT is focused on the Nine.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
I think I saw Mannequin in the docks last night.

Seaurk (Veteran Member)
Replied on May 5th, 2011:
@ Teneriz: Thank you for all your hard work, no thanks are enough, but thank you anyway.
@Void_Cowboy: You were wandering around the docks at night with the Nine in town. You’re either lying or certifiable.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
I’m not lying!

End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … 76, 77

Topic: Bright Close Earth Object
In: Boards ► Science ► Astronomy ► Observations
DoubleHelixSquared (Original Poster)
Posted on April 28th, 2011:

Guys, I was searching for asteroids with my new rig when I saw this. Following it’s path I was able to catch it here andhere as well. It’s really strange. A much higher albedo than an asteroid. It’s behaving as though it’s under thrust and it’s accelerating. Now as far as I can tell there have been no launches, and it’s profile doesn’t fit that of any satellite or space probe. Any Ideas?

(Showing page 1 of 1)

Replied on April 28th, 2011:
Has to be man made, definitely accelerating against gravity. Is big though, to big to have been put up without someone noticing. Tinker work? Or since we have aliens now, possible something of theirs?

► Crazed Tanuki
Replied on April 28th, 2011:
The Simurgh reacted decisively last time tinker work tried to get out of earth orbit, doesn’t seem to have reacted at all to this. I’m passing the info around to some colleagues, might be able to shake loose some time on one of the big lenses for a clearer picture.

Replied on April 30th, 2011:
Any luck getting confirmation from bigger lenses?

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Stumbled across this thread. @nofalsehoods - alien related, but not in the way you think check out this video. Unbelievable. I’m going to link this thread to the Twilight Sparkle News Thread.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Holy shit! I just ran the numbers from Helix’s post, she tossed him so hard he’s going to exit the solar system.

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
Do you think he’s still alive?

Replied on May 5th, 2011:
It’s Crawler, so yes. Note to self, do not piss off the unicorn.

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7 - Connections

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Twilight looked out over the ruined section of the city as the rising sun illuminated the still smoldering buildings and the half sunk husks of rusted ships beyond them. Clearly the area had been in rough shape even before last night, but the fight against Mannequin hadn’t done it any favors. Skitter had called her late and by the time she had arrived it had all been over. Mannequin was dead.

Twilight was unsure how to feel about that, other than relieved that she hadn’t been involved. She was relieved that the Man that had killed those nice scientists was gone for good, and relieved that it wasn’t on her conscience. The first felt wrong, like the easy way had been taken instead of the right one, and the second felt selfish. Maybe she could talk to Dr. Yamada about it.

Mimi sat on the roof beside her, idly kicking her legs back and forth in her new costume Skitter had made. It covered her from feet to head with only a small opening exposing her eyes. They had dyed it white and Mimi had painted delicate swirls of flame along the arms, legs, and back with remarkable talent. Skitter stood on the other side of Twilight her dark costume a stark contrast to Mimi’s.

“What was this place?” Twilight broke the silence in a soft voice that felt appropriate for the moment.

“Used to be the main port area of the city and the shipyards,” Skitter said as she extended one arm and swept it in front of her as if presenting it to Twilight and Mimi. “Back before I was born, before the manufacturing companies went out of business or moved away, Brockton Bay made a lot of things. Those things were shipped all over the world from right down there.” Her voice was quiet to, but colored with a resigned bitterness.

“Um, ok. Why did they abandon all of those ships? It seems dangerous and like an awful waste when the ships could still be used somewhere else.”

“Well more and more of the people that worked here got laid off and after a while it was clear that things were only going to get worse. So a bunch of people went out there and commandeered boats, everything from row boats to that giant container ship out there resting on the bottom. Ground what business there was left to a halt.”

“Why?” Twilight asked in bewildered curiosity.

“They were suffering, their families were suffering, and no one was paying any attention or really giving a damn. So they found a way to make people pay attention. For a couple of days it was mostly peaceful, then some bright spark at police headquarters got the idea of storming the container ship one night to take it back. Well long story short, lots of people ended up hurt, some ended up dead, and several ships ended up on the bottom trapping the rest. Guess someone ran the numbers and figured it wasn’t worth the money to clean up, so here we are. Nowadays people call it the boat graveyard and even the desperate don’t bother to claim it.”

Twilight was aghast, how could any of that have happened? Equestria was currently in a time of expansion so she couldn’t really think of any areas in decline she could compare to, but she was sure there had to have been something someone could have done to help before things got so bad. And not cleaning up the wreckage afterwards? Sure it would be a lot of work and bits, but she could almost physically feel what the lingering scar was doing to the spirit of the place and the humans that lived in the city. The hurt such a constant reminder would continually inflict. Hadn’t whoever ran the numbers calculated that in?

“When there wasn’t enough work anymore for everyone, why didn’t they move somewhere that needed their talents?” Twilight asked as the lower edge of the sun cleared the surface of the ocean. “I’ve heard of mining ponies that need to move when there weren’t any more gems in an area and lots of ponies move when they discover their special talent and it’s not really suited to where they are living.”

“Brockton Bay was hit particularly hard, but really there isn’t anywhere in the country where they need a lot of people for those types jobs anymore.”

“What about other countries?”

“It’s hard to get permission to work in another country, and even if you can lots of people wouldn’t want to because other countries do things so differently.” Twilight contemplated this. She guessed she hadn’t really thought about all the consequences of the humans not having a united government. She had been to the United Nations, but all she had really done was give the same speech to a bunch of different people.

She could understand people not wanting to move someplace that had a very different culture, but why would countries increase the height of that hurdle by making restrictions on who could work where? She pulled a notepad from her modified backpack and added human economic policy and international relations as subjects she would need to research. If only that list hadn’t already filled up a stack of notebooks, with a truly disheartening lack of checks next to them.

Skitter spoke up with a question of her own. “Didn’t you say ponies found their special talent when they were still kids? Are you saying kids pack up and leave home if their talent doesn’t fit in with where they are?” Twilight was puzzled by the incredulity in Skitter’s voice, but answered anyway.

“Of course. Generally family or friends in other cities or villages are contacted that have a suitable outlet for an adolescent pony’s newfound talent. For certain talents some cities setup apprenticeship programs or schools. I attended one of those myself and my friends Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie moved to Ponyville when they found their talents.”

“Huh,” Skitter said after a moment. “It’s easy to forget sometimes.”


“That you’re from a different world.” Twilight couldn’t help but smile at this, it was strange and wonderful how she had almost stopped noticing human’s bizarre shape and locomotion and was glad the reverse was also true. “So what are we doing out here anyway? There are certainly prettier places to watch the sun rise if your going to be masochistic enough to stay up and see it.”

Twilight “hmmed” softly as she looked out at the destruction both old and new. “I..I don’t know really. I guess I thought it might help me understand a little more. I’m not even sure what I’m trying to understand, but, It seemed like a place to start anyway. Being partially raised by Celestia sunrises have always been comforting to me. Dragon told me a few days ago that cameras saw the little girl and the zebra striped woman, Bonesaw and Siberian?”

At Skitter’s nod Twilight Continued. “She said they were seen halfway across the country and they thought Shatterbird had run away too. I..I just don’t know how to feel about that. Relief, guilt, unease, accomplishment, its like there all blended up inside me and I don’t know what to do with them.” Skitter rested a hand on Twilight’s neck and gently started to comb her fingers though her mane.

“When I feel like that, I go for a run. It doesn’t solve anything, but it’s something productive and it centers me. Anchors me to something more solid and less complicated than life has tends to be.” She paused and looked down at Twilight. “You don’t really strike me as the running type.” Twilight was not sure if she should take offense to that remark or not. Skitter continued before she could decide. “Got anything like that, something simple, productive, and concrete that will give your brain a break from things that don’t really have answers?”

Twilight thought about that as Skitter ran her fingers through her mane and Mimi’s boots thudded gently in time against the building wall beneath her. The sun was rising quickly now burning away the remaining shadows. If anything the light made the neighborhood look worse by revealing all the small indignities that the morning twilight had concealed.

Maybe it was the rhythm that Mimi’s feet made that pulled the memory out of her head but a few minutes later she found herself softly singing.

“The time has come to welcome spring
and all things warm and green,
But it’s also time to say goodbye:
It’s winter we must clean.
How can I help?….
Winter wrap up, Winter wrap up….”

Still humming a slow small smile formed on her face as Twilight took in everything she could of the view. Her notepad floated back out of her backpack along with her pen and she started jotting down details, ideas, and lists.

“Twilight?” Skitter asked her name in question while Mimi started humming the melody as well.

“I do have something like that. Thank you Skitter, I know just the place to start.”


Two days later Twilight lay on one of three now fully furnished cots in Skitter’s lair. Several economics textbooks opened and spread out around her while a levitating notepad and pen held position beside her head. Stacks of books and notepads surrounded the bed in a complex organizational hierarchy that only Twilight Sparkle could discern.

On the opposing wall the spare bunks had been removed to be replaced with IKEA bookshelves and desks. Mimi was slowly filling the bookshelves with books and notes based on a very precise chart Twilight had drawn a few days ago. A dozen small globes of flame floated in the air providing light and a homelike warmth to the room. Just then Skitter cleared the top of the spiral staircase balancing a tray with three large bowls of salad in her hands.

“Soups on everyone.” Skitter said as she sat the tray down on a small round table. Twilight looked up from her books and raised a eyebrow.

“Soup? I thought you were making salads tonight?”

“Just an expression, I did make salad.”

“Oh good, I’ve really been craving greens. Those ramen noodles you had were ok, buts it’s nice to have something different. I just wish daisies didn’t seem to be so hard to come by here.” Twilight said as she stood up on the cot and gently stretched out her legs and wings, careful to avoid disturbing any of the books. When she looked to hop down she found she had quiet effectively trapped herself in a proto-bookfort. With an amused sigh she lit her horn and teleported over to the table causing Skitter to jerk backwards slightly in her chair before scooting a bowl over to Twilight.

Mimi shelved one last book before walking over and sitting down next to Twilight. Levitating three bottles of water out of the cooler the three dug in. Skitter still hadn’t unmasked completely in front of Mimi, but she was wearing what Twilight had come to think of as her “house mask” which was a simple strip of cloth the covered her upper face but had holes for her eyes.

“Mmm,” Twilight vocalized between bites. “This is really good, thank you for making dinner and going to the book store earlier. I think I’ve almost got enough information now to put together a couple of real plans.” Skitter looked at the state of the room and the number of notepads that had already been filled and thought about what Twilight would consider a “real” plan.

“It’s ok, If your plan works, well a lot of people I know and care about are going to be better off for the first time in my lifetime. So anything I can do, I’m going to do. Not really how I envisioned I would be making people’s lives better when I first found out I had powers, but I guess there are many paths to the same goal. Maybe I can walk a few at the same time.”

The rest of the meal was mostly quiet as the three enjoyed the food, the simple presence of each other, and the lack of immediate danger for once. Later the three were downstairs in the kitchen as Twilight washed the dishes in the sink and Mimi dried and stacked them. As Twilight scrubbed the dressing off the large mixing bowl she took a deep breath and decided to bring up the disturbing thing she had read earlier.

“Skitter, In one of the economics textbooks they had a section called ‘Natural Disasters and Endbringers.’ They sound really bad. Why…why didn’t anyone tell me about them?” Skitter sucked in a deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment as Twilight passed the clean bowl over to Mimi.

“It’s not really something people bring up in conversation. It’s a little taboo, people get superstitious about it. Like talking about them out loud is going to summon them to your city. Sailors used to think whistling into the wind would summon a storm, because nobody understood how storms formed. Its a little like that with the Endbringers. No one understands them, why they appeared, why they attack cities until their driven off, why they take turns and seem to have a schedule they keep.” Skitter shrugged not knowing what else to say about it.

“Well that changes some things. I’ll have to revise the schedule to allow time to research them. It won’t do any good to rebuild the city if some monster is just going to come along and ruin everything we do. So we’ll just have to figure out how to stop them.” Twilight said with a firm nod of her head as she turned the water off and floated the last bowl over to Mimi.

“Wait..What? I don’t think you really understand. All the heroes, villains, and thinkers in the world have tried since Behemoth showed up in 92 to figure out a way to stop them. A lot have died trying but nobody has, even the most powerful parahumans on the planet can barely hurt them. Endbringer fights that end well still end up killing lots of capes and thousands of people. Ones that end badly kill millions.” Twilight’s eyes misted over at that.

“Millions…They killed millions of humans in a single day?” Skitter nodded solemnly while Mimi passed a paper towel to Twilight who used it to wipe her eyes. Twilight took a moment to absorb what that really meant, what humans had been going through since these monsters showed up. When she spoke again her voice was emotional but confident. “Then that’s all the more reason for us to stop them. You said they followed a schedule and took turns. Which one of them is next? How much time is left before they attack?” A little bewildered by the direction the conversation had taken Skitter nonetheless answered.

“Leviathan and an attack is due, anytime in the next few weeks.”

“He’s the one that attacks with water and causes tidal waves right?” Twilight queried as a notebook and pen floated in from the doorway already scribbling notes.

“Yes..Twilight, I’m serious when I say that geniuses and thinkers, scientists and heroes have been trying for twenty years to figure them out, find a way to stop them. I’m not saying not to try, I’ll help however I can, but I know how much dealing with the Nine hurt you. I don’t want to see you put yourself through something like that again right after putting that behind you.” Twilight Stepped forward and leaned her head into Skitter’s side and wrapped a leg around her in a hug.

“Thank you. Thank you worrying about me, for being such a good friend. But this is different. The Nine disturbed me because, well they were people, and they had chosen to do these awful inexplicable things because they enjoyed doing them. I couldn’t, can’t understand that.” Twilight shuddered a little and leaned harder against Skitter before continuing.

“Monsters I understand though. Equestria has a lot them. Timberwolves, Manticores, Hydras, Cockatrices, and those are just the common ones that live close by. Since I left Canterlot my friends and I have had to deal with quite a few of them. Some even, that could have wiped out our whole civilization. I don’t know, we always stopped things before…before things got really bad, but its the kind of problem I’m used to. Maybe I won’t find a solution, maybe humans have already tried everything I can think of, but I think its worth a shot.” Twilight stepped back from Skitter and looked up to see a flabbergasted expression on her face.

“Wait, seriously? You deal with monsters, like mythological world ending monsters on a regular basis?”

“Yes, well I’m not sure I would call it regular and quite obviously they’re not mythological, but more often than I would like that’s for sure. Whats wrong?” Twilight asked not quite understanding Skitters reaction.

“Huh, I just, well everything I’ve heard you say about Equestria and your friends, and just the way you act. I wouldn’t have imagined you had problems like that. Besides the fact that your talking about things that don’t exist anywhere outside mythology. It makes me wonder if maybe there hasn’t been some previous contact between our worlds. We have stories about pegasi and unicorns too.”

“Really!?!” Twilight hopped up and her wings extended causing them to bang painfully into the cabinets and Skitter but she was to excited to notice. “That’s great, it could mean that our worlds have some kind of natural connection that I accidentally tapped into, which makes much more sense than a random accident. That would make finding a way home much easier!” Twilight pulled her wings back in and twirled in place.

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!” Twilight stopped her prancing and took a deep breath. “Tomorrow after we finish meeting with your lawyer friend we need to visit the closest library or museum with an extensive ‘mythology’ or what I after the past couple of years I now call ‘obscure history’ collection. That will be the best place to look for clues on how to defeat these Endbringers and references on how contact between our worlds happened in the past.”

“You really think you’re going to find the answer to beating Leviathan in the ancient mythology section of the public library?” Skitter asked with a kind of amused incredulity.

“I think I might, or at least a clue.” Twilight huffed in a somewhat peeved tone at Skitter’s skepticism. “It shouldn’t be that surprising, do you really think that over the course of the tens of thousands of years of your species history that this is the first time humans have faced a world ending threat? And since the world is still here, they must have succeeded in defeating them. Those are the kind of things ponies tell stories about, stories that get passed down, stories that turn into ‘legends’ and ‘myths.’ Lots of them are probably just stories, but trust me, more than you would like are probably based on some kind of fact. You said your mythology mentioned unicorns right? Am I a figment of your imagination or do I prove that there is more to your mythology than myth?”

“I..” Skitter paused as a series of unreadable expressions passed over her face. “You…damn, thats actually a pretty good point.” Twilight clopped her forehooves together in happy triumph.

“Great! Then after the lawyer we’ll go to the library and look up every reference to ‘mythological’ sea monsters and how they were defeated right?”

“Ok,” Skitter said and then giggled.

“What?” Twilight asked with a smile

“Just imagining the look on every scientist and tinker’s face if the key to saving the world was a degree in ancient mythology.”


Several hours later as they were all laying down and getting ready to go to sleep when Mimi spoke up softly.

“Twilight?” Twilight smiled and turned her head so that she was facing Mimi. She had spoken so little since she had been healed by the elements of harmony, it was nice to hear her voice.


“I..I was thinking about what you said, the other day, about equestrian names? How ponies sometimes choose a new name that they feel..represents.. them better?” Twilight nodded.

“Yes, usually if a pony changes their name it’s when they get their cutie mark, but not always. What brought that up?”

“It’s just…I..I don’t…I’m not…I’m not Mimi, I don’t feel like Mimi anymore and I never want to hear that other name, never.” Mimi’s voice wavered and Twilight pulled back her covers and hopped down to stand next to Mimi’s bed brushing her wing down the girls side. “Can I choose a new name? Like a pony would?”

“Of course you can. Do you have one in mind?” Mimi hesitantly nodded then spoke.

“I’m Flame Dancer. I want to be Flame Dancer.” Twilight reared up so that she could give the girl a tight legged hug.

“Goodnight Flame Dancer.” her eyes misted and a wide smile spread across the quiet girls face.

“Goodnight Twilight.”

“Ahh screw it.” Skitter suddenly spoke up from her cot causing both Twilight and Flame Dancer to startle and look at her. She peeled off her mask and sat up. “Call me Taylor.”


Twilight Sparkle had come to a conclusion. Of all the the irritating, uncomfortable, not designed for ponies chairs that she had been forced to sit in, this one was the most uncomfortable and the most irritating of them all. Huffing she hopped down with a thud that caused the assistant at the desk to look up from her computer screen.

“Can I get you anything Ms. Sparkle?” Twilight glanced at the clock on the wall now showing ten minutes past their scheduled appointment time and then glanced back at the assistant. “I assure you he’s very interested in speaking with you and has just be unavoidably detained in some way.” Twilight huffed again and walked over to the water cooler in the corner to pour herself a drink. Her companion Mr. Calle seemed unbothered by the tardi-, Twilight’s eye twitched, by the delay. Content to tap rapidly one of those amazing “cell phones” the humans had.

Twilight still had trouble judging human clothing, but he looked well dressed , and she approved of his color coordinated tie, shirt and pocket square. He had a scar that trailed from one nostril to his cheekbone like he had been badly cut. He didn’t seem self-conscious about it, and if it didn’t bother him Twilight decided her curiosity on how someone who dealt with paperwork had gotten such a wound was not that important.

The door to the hallway opened and three men walked inside the waiting area. Two looked fairly young, while the third was older, well dressed, and harried. He’s the one that addressed her.

“Ah Ms. Sparkle, it’s a pleasure to meet you at last.” He reached out his hand, then realizing the gesture wouldn’t work pulled it back and did a small bow instead. “Had events not overtaken us these past few weeks we would have extended an invitation much sooner. Personally I would like to thank you for your efforts, I believe things could have gone much worse without your assistance. While it was entirely out of our control I would also like to apologize for what must have been a very trying time for you. Hopefully the crisis is passed and city can show you some things humanity has to offer besides crazed villains.”

Twilight was a little uncomfortable at the praise for things she wasn’t actually proud of, but did her best to suppress those negative emotions and give her best approximation of Princess Celestia’s smile. “Thank you Mr. Mayor.” She glanced up at the clock before focusing on him again. “Getting things back on track is exactly what I wanted to meet with you about today.” The mayor raised a curious eyebrow at this before a genial smile graced his face once more.

“You’ve piqued my curiosity already Ms. Sparkle. Follow me to my office and tell me what you’ve got on your mind.” He turned towards the door behind the assistant’s desk and that was when he first noticed Mr. Calle. The smile fell off his face and a hint of irritation entered it.

“Mr. Calle, why are you darkening my doorstep today? Informing me of another technicality in the city’s case against those E88 members? If so please just leave the paperwork with the legal office down the hall, I’m not in the mood for your dance routine today.” Mr. Calle had put away his phone when the Mayor had begun talking and now he stood up with a very pleasant smile, either not noticing or not caring about the Mayor’s hostile demeanor.

“Roy, It’s good to see you too.” When the Mayor looked like he was going to interject Mr. Calle continued. “I assure you I’m not here regarding any of our previous business. After hearing about the proposal she intends to present you with today a friend of Ms. Sparkle’s contacted my firm on her behalf. After talking with her ourselves we have decided to assist Ms. Sparkle in navigating the legal and bureaucratic landscape that she is wholly unfamiliar with.” The Mayor looked briefly taken aback at this, and then cautiously glanced between Mr. Calle and Twilight.

“Well now I’m frightened as well as intrigued. Lets go to my office and hear what you have to say Ms. Sparkle.” He walked past the desk and opened the large wood paneled door into a spacious room with a large desk and a couple of chairs and couches. The walls, much to Twilight’s approval, where filled with bookcases. The Mayor sat down in the large chair behind the desk while Twilight and Mr. Calle sat down in the chairs in front of it. One of the younger men that had walked in with the mayor brought a small chair inside and set it down beside the desk so he would be facing them. Waving one of his hands in front of him the Mayor spoke again. “So whats all this about?”

“Excuse me just for a moment, I need to retrieve some visual aids I prepared.” So saying Twilight’s horn flared and she disappeared with a flash of light. Before anyone could react she reappeared with a easel and a large bound flip board. Trotting to an open space to the side of the desk that would allow everyone to see it she placed the board on the easel and flipped the cover so that the first page was displayed. When she turned around and saw the nonplused faces of the Mayor and his Aide she blushed. “Oh, I’m sorry about that. It’s just so much easier teleporting my materials when I need them then carrying them across the city.” The mayor smiled at this.

“Quite alright Ms. Sparkle, no harm done, just a little unexpected.”

“Right, well, as you can see this is a satellite photo of the old port area, or what is known as the boat graveyard. Along with some surface level pictures of the area. I was curious why it was in such a state, and after talking with some people and learning about its history I couldn’t believe that such a wound on the city’s landscape and spirit had been left to fester for so long.” The Mayor grimaced at this and his aide spoke up with a little heat in his voice.

“You think we don’t know what that blight is costing the city Ms. Sparkle? The city’s been petitioning the state and federal government for years to release some relief funds to clean the area up and reopen the port. We can’t afford to do it ourselves, and no company is going to foot the bill when there are so many other ports in the northeast to choose from. Unless you have a couple of billion dollars you’ve acquired over the last few weeks I’m not sure why we’re talking about this.” Twilight narrowed her eyes at this.

“No I don’t have billions of dollars to spend, however if you would allow me to continue, I will explain how I think I can help.”

“Go ahead Ms. Sparkle, we’ve been fighting some of these battles so long that we’re a little sensitive when someone brings them up.”

“Ok, I understand that. But, I have a plan that doesn’t require billion’s to get started. Well really its more like a plan of plans that contain yet more plans, but anyway with your help we can turn this,” Twilight pointed to the blighted landscape with a hoof, “into this.” Twilight levitated a crystal in front of her and it glowed bright purple for a moment before a glowing 3D representation of the area hovered in the air between them. The water was free of sunken ships and giant cranes lifted containers off ships secured to restored piers. The land around the port had been transformed as well with new parks, residences, and shops woven together with warehouses and industrial buildings. As the Mayor and his aide gaped at the illusion spell Twilight continued.

“Of course it will take years to get to this point, but I’ve run projections and Mr. Calle’s firm was kind enough to review them and help correct some of my assumptions. With your cooperation I think we can cut the city’s unemployment in half over the next two years. We just need some help getting some of the areas rezoned and some favorable leases on the city owned drydocks and piers. Mr. Calle’s firm has already drawn up the paperwork and even though we’ve only had a few days we’ve already been able to acquire most of the privately held land in the area.” The Mayor was looking between the illusion and Twilight as if trying to figure out how serious this all was. Mr. Calle had opened his brief case and was laying out several differently colored folders thick with bound paper. The aide had begun flipping through them as soon as they hit the desk.

“You can’t be serious!” He pointed to one section. “You’re basically asking the city to hand over control of hundreds of millions of dollars in city property to an alien for the next 5 years for virtually nothing.” He started speed reading as he flipped through more pages. “Industrial plots rezoned to greenways, residential properties rezoned commercial, commercial rezoned residential, modifications to the city's controlled airspace, an agreement from the city to restore ferry service…A city library card with no checkout limit?!? This is preposterous Ms. Sparkle.” Mr. Calle snapped his briefcase shut and interjected.

“There is nothing preposterous about it. The city property you are referring to has laid idle and hasn’t produced income or rent for the city in decades. You also wouldn’t be handing anything over to Ms. Sparkle personally. A company has been setup, Harmony Works, Inc, that has several prestigious stakeholders besides Ms. Sparkle already. Mr. Mayor. You know me, you know my firm. Do you really think I would be here if we didn’t think Ms. Sparkle’s plans would work?” The mayor hesitated, and Twilight decided to put her last card on the table.

“In addition to the plans on the desk, which I am very certain we can accomplish, If I am able to reestablish contact with my world I think Brockton Bay’s rebuilt port would be a perfect location for the import and export of goods between our worlds.” Twilight paused and remembering what Skitter had told her about human political motivations fixed her gaze solidly on the Mayor. “Mr. Christner if you approve this, you will have saved the livelihoods of tens of thousands of registered voters.” Mr. Calle smiled brightly at this and clapped his hand down on Twilight’s back as the Mayor scooted his chair back, an amused smile starting to spread across his face.

“Whatdya need from me?”


Twilight sighed with satisfied exertion as she released her magic and the rusted tug boat groaned as its weight settled onto the blocks covering the drydock’s floor. This boat was in good enough shape that they thought it could be repaired and then used to aid the rest of the clean up work. All around her hundreds of people worked with cutting torches slicing up the smaller boats she had pulled from the water that were to far gone to repair. Behind her the continuous rumble of bulldozers and earth movers cleared the remains of demolished buildings while still more people were carting out detritus from the large warehouse she had selected as the new home of Harmony Works.

Flame Dancer stepped up beside her and held out a bottle of water which Twilight grabbed gratefully with her magic. Unscrewing the cap she took a long drink before nodding to the costumed girl.

“Thank you.” Twilight said as she and Flame Dancer began weaving their way back towards the temporary tent pavilion that had been setup. As they walked past the open doorway of the warehouse she smiled at the deep hum and rhythmic metal clanking of the electrical generators still being spun by the come to life spell she had cast earlier. Step 53 of stage one of plan one was proceeding well. With the help of maritime salvage law even the cleanup phase was going to break even financially.

Twilight felt the best she had since arriving. Seeing the progress, the workers and volunteers sweating, tired, but happy. This was real magic. Twilight felt like she could almost see the connections being created and growing between the people and with the place itself. Just seeing everyone in their color coordinated vests that her new friend Parian had made put a happy skip in her step. She was in her element, this was how things were supposed to be: Using magic, organization, and friendship to solve problems.

Inside the pavilion was a hive of activity as people bustled back and forth and team leaders coordinated work for the different operations underway outside. Each team had a dedicated area, while a central lounge/brainstorming area with comfortable chairs and an idea board that was shared by everyone. Twilight smiled and greeted everyone as she walked to the back where the ‘ending the endbringers’ research team was working in their pink trimmed purple vests.

Vista and Kid Win had arrived since the last time she had been inside and Kid Win was holding a purple vest at arms length like it was a snake. When he saw Twilight approaching he looked at her with pleading eyes.

“I don’t really have to wear this do I Twilight?”

“Why wouldn’t you want to? It lets everyone know which project you are working on and I had Parian make them to your measurements. It should fit perfectly.”

“It’s just the color is-“

“What’s wrong with the color?” Twilight asked with narrowed eyes. Kid win looked between the vest and the purple pony with a pink stripe through her mane. With a resigned sigh he started to slip it on over his arms.

“Nothing, the colors are great, really.” Twilight smiled and clopped her hooves together while Vista giggled behind him.

“Great! How are things going everypony?” The work area consisted of three tables with laptops, books, and papers spread out over them and a large whiteboard stretching along the back wall of the tent. Around one table Skitter and a group of graduate students from the local university’s classics and anthropology departments were scouring through stacks of mythic history from Icelandic Sagas to Aboriginal Dreamtime stories.

The middle table where Kid Win had been standing had several large monitors displaying technical schematics and one with Dragon’s animated face, who had in the spirit of unity opted for a purple and pink trimmed background.

While the last table was filled with Twilight’s notebooks and was where she was working on her new theories for opening a portal to equestria. Vista was patiently taking pictures of each page of her notebooks so Dragon could help with her new equations. Not only would she be overjoyed to be reunited with her friends, but the princesses had faced many world ending problems during their long reign. Regardless of her other motivations she could think of no better ponies to ask for advice in this type of situation.

“We’ve found lots of myths about sea monsters, interestingly enough, the Tanahk’s description of Leviathan is probably the closest so far of mythic sea monsters we’ve researched.” Skitter picked up a sheet of paper and after scanning it for a moment began to read.

“The folds of his flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable.

His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.

When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing.

The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.

Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.

Arrows do not make him flee, sling stones are like chaff to him.

A club seems to him but a piece of straw, he laughs at the rattling of the lance.”

Skitter looked up and paused for a second as people nodded at the accurate description. “Unfortunately the jewish texts are not very encouraging about our chances.” She looked back down at the paper and began reading again.

“Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering.

No-one is fierce enough to rouse him…

Nothing on earth is his equal—a creature without fear.

He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.”

That too was unfortunately accurate to everyone who had seen Leviathan in person or on film. Twilight grimaced at that but wouldn’t let one passage discourage her from searching for an answer. Skitter continued again. “So far thats sort of been a theme, lots of scary monsters, not a lot of stories about people beating them. The only example of that so far is Perseus using Medusa’s head to turn a sea monster into stone.” Twilight brightened at this last bit.

“Petrification! Why didn’t I think of that before. The Elements of Harmony imprisoned Discord in stone, so it makes sense that other powerful beings could also be sealed that way. Is medusa’s head some kind of artifact? Are there any clues in the text about where it might be?” Everyone around the research table cringed a little at the question and as one turned to Skitter to explain.

“Um, no…Medusa was a gorgon, a monstrous woman with snakes for hair and if you looked at her you turned to stone. In most of the stories she was beheaded by Perseus, but even severed it kept its power. Perseus used the head as a weapon several times to turn enemies and monsters to stone.” Twilight grimaced at the image and shivered a little at the thought of carting around a severed head to use against monsters.

“Ugh, ok..Even if the story was based on fact, the head is probably,” Twilight shivered again, “hopefully gone by now, but I’ve been exposed to a cockatrice’s petrification magic before. I might be able to develop a similar spell to try against Leviathan. Dragon has anyone tried something like that before?” Twilight asked turning towards the monitor. Dragon’s avatar looked up for a second in thought before shaking her head.

“When you asked me to help I compiled every known attack that had been tried against Leviathan and the amount of damage they did. Nothing like what is described in the medusa myth has been attempted against him. I also printed out a list of the attacks I believe were the most effective against him, It may give you an idea of what to focus on.”

“Thank you Dragon. When you went through the history of his attacks, were there any clues about what he wants? Has ever made any attempt to communicate?” Dragon shook her head.

“Nothing consistent, and I have found no evidence of attempts at communication.” Twilight frowned again.

“That doesn’t make sense. The videos you showed me, what Alexandria and Armsmaster have told me. He is powerful enough to have caused much more damage, he leaves fights before he’s really hurt, he attacks on a schedule. Those things show intelligence and restraint. He’s not just trying to drown the world, he’s doing something else, there’s some kind of point to it, however twisted it must be. If we could figure that out it could lead us to how we are going to stop him.” Twilight trailed off in a frustrated huff and Vista came over and gave her an encouraging hug while Dragon continued speaking.

“I understand your frustration Twilight, I have worked on this problem for years as have many others. Everyone who has fought him or been affected by him is grateful for your help, but it is unlikely we will find a solution before his next attack. You can’t take responsibility for that, it’s too much for any one person or pony to shoulder.” Dragon said in a concerned tone as Twilight looked down and drug a hoof over the ground.

“I know…I just wish there was more time. Thank you everyone for helping me, I know how crazy some of my ideas must sound to you.”

“Hey,” Kid Win interjected, “Humanity has tried sane for years without much to show for it. Maybe it’s time we tried a little crazy? I-” Kid Win stopped speaking as two figures approached the group. The taller of the two was wearing a large conical hat, loose white pants and a white shirt that was overlaid with blue cloth coming down from both shoulders. The shorter one wore a similar outfit but in black and with a blue mask covering his lower face and nose. The taller one spoke in a dramatic voice that carried over all the conversations and noise in the pavilion.

“I am Uber, and this is Leet. Twilight Sparkle, we have heard you seek to defend this realm in Mortal Kombat against Leviathan.” As he spoke electricity traveled down his arm and arced off his gloved fingers and a chilly fog began to gather around Leet. “So we have come to help you…. FINISH HIM!”

Interlude 10 - Luna

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She braced herself as the landscape trembled around her, changing a thousand times between one heartbeat and the next before she could reassert her tenuous control over the firmament again. It was here, at the far edges of the dreamlands, on the border of existence itself that they touched all the realms that were, are and might be. It was here she had come in search of her lost friend. Every step in this place was a hazard, as you fought to prevail upon it both your existence and its.

Here where reality itself was questionable the echoes of Celestia’s and Twilight’s brief time in the Other reverberated like a soundless thunder. The aether was thin, brittle like bad ice and if one was not careful you could fall through and find yourself lost amid the myriad worlds that lay beyond. This is what she suspected had somehow happened to Twilight, and which was why time, if it had any meaning in this place, was of the essence. Many of the worlds beyond were dangerous in a way that young Sparkle was not prepared for, and they in turn could be grievously wounded if the inexperienced alicorn delved too deep or too recklessly in her newfound power.

Luna only hoped that Twilight had heeded her sister’s advice. She still struggled with the weight and consequences of her fall and she did not know if she could bare facing the reflection of it in her friend. Twilight giving into despair or anger wasn’t the only worry however. If she really had become the manifestation of Magic and all that entailed then she could cause far more damage with even the best of intentions than Luna had ever been capable of in her darkest hours.

She had only traveled a short distance further when the next tremor caught her mid-step and suddenly found herself and the landscape around her split into a thousand imperfect fractal reflections. A thousand aspects of her and their differing effects on the dreamlands swirled around as though she and the world had become a damaged kaleidoscope. Crying out in pain and disorientation she struggled to pull herself back into a singular being. Some pieces came easily and quickly joined the task. Others struggled or tried to hide. The last shards, the parts of herself that she hated or was ashamed of were the hardest. She fought herself and then fought herself in an endless battle both real and entirely imagined until an eternal instant later she made another step and was whole again.

The dark alicorn shuddered and the world shook and darkened around her as she fought to release the fear of what she had just gone through. The experience had shaken her, any worse and she might never have recovered from it. She wanted nothing more at that moment than to return to Equestria and cry into her sister’s soft fur. To touch light and love and know without doubting that it existed. When she had gathered herself enough to move once more the caution with which she did so made her earlier measured pace seem like a reckless gambol.

Lost pockets of alien dreams, secrets, and relics that existed outside of time and space materialized and faded away as she followed the echoes of Twilight’s passage. Luna knew better than to attempt to look at any too closely, nothing that retained shape in this place was without power or consequence.

The longer she walked the more she felt the faint echoes of past hoof steps. Somepony had been here before. Instinctively following the ancient yet familiar feel of them she stumbled upon a loose trail scattered with faded pieces of rainbow. Their edges jagged as though they had been violently shattered. ‘The bridge?’ Luna thought, incredulous.

Had the elements somehow reconnected with what remained of that ancient construct? It was possible. Luna picked up her pace as the lingering magic of rainbow shards and the memories of past ponies gave solidity to this sliver of the borderlands.

Hope and worry warred within her. As she traveled she became more and more convinced that she would find Twilight Sparkle at the end of this path, but the bridge had been destroyed for a reason. That even this much of it remained was worrying.

It had been a lighthouse with which to navigate the treacherous seas of the border. Perhaps one of the greatest feats of magical engineering that had ever been imagined, let alone realized. They had traveled far and explored with the unrestrained earnestness of youth. Always the bridge would guide them back, and as they traveled they had anchored it to more and more of reality. They had learned however that many lost things had been searching for a harbor.

The aether began to take on a fouled and dirty feel even as it became more solid. Some fey thing had wallowed its way through here, graceless and violent. Casting in this place was the height of folly and the impressions old, nevertheless she found herself readying defensive spells and looking around warily.

Suddenly she was thrown off her hooves as a massive pillar of light on the horizon speared violently through the aether. Thousands of years of experience was the only thing that prevented her from falling into the vast cosmos below as the whole plane cracked and shifted beneath her, giants rifts into nothing and everything spiderwebbing and becoming solid as the terrain around them boiled between a million different landscapes to fast for thought to accept.

Throwing all her previous caution to the wind she raced recklessly towards the light. The appearance of five flickering rainbow bands arcing overhead and heading towards the disturbance gave Luna no cheer. True harmony was beyond any thinking being’s understanding and the elements could be as dangerous as any problem they were invoked to solve. A lesson she and her sister had learned long before the name Nightmare Moon had ever been uttered aloud. Without her friends nearby to anchor Twilight and help direct the magic the risks were greater still.

As Luna sped towards the light she only hoped she arrived in time to prevent history from repeating itself.

8 - Endbringers (Part 1)

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Twilight’s head jerked off of the desk a page of her notes sticking to her face as a few more scattered to the floor in the conference room Armsmaster had provided for her at protectorate headquarters. Flame Dancer was sleeping on the bottom half of a bunk bed that had recently been added in the corner. With the threat of the Nine seeming to have passed Dragon had convinced her that it would make a lot of people feel better if she took up residence with the protectorate when she wasn’t working in the city. Being close to her friends in the wards again had been nice as well.

Through the window she could see rain falling in sheets into the bay outside and an uneasy dread swept over her. Something wasn’t right. A monitor on the other side of the desk clicked on and Dragon’s face appeared.

“Is there something wrong Twilight? Are you ok?”

“I, I’m not sure I could explain it.” Twilight said as she pealed of the page that had been stuck on her face with magic and sorted it and the others that had been disturbed by her waking. “I don’t feel right, something feels wrong somehow…..I can’t put my hoof on it.”

“You’ve been working yourself too hard, and sleeping on the desk can’t have helped. Maybe you just had a bad dream?”

“Maybe,” Twilight grimaced, “Ugh I almost feel sick. That’s the last thing I need right now with all the projects we’re working on. I think we are really making progress on finding a resonance connection to Equestria.”

“Why don’t you go to bed and get some sleep in a real bed for a few hours, You may feel better after a few hours of decent sleep.”

Twilight snorted, “Look who’s talking Miss ‘I’m always awake whatever hour Twilight is working.’ Besides I’m not sure I could get to sleep feeling like this.” Twilight floated over a bottle of water and took a small sip and grimaced as she swallowed.

“I know something that will cheer you up. I have some more footage of your two disciples in action.” Dragon said with a definite amused humor. Twilight groaned and brought a hoof up to rub her forehead.

“Please tell me that they haven’t accidentally electrocuted or frozen anything…else.” Dragon chuckled and brought up a video feed of Uber and Leet in blue coveralls, Uber wearing a red shirt and hat while Leet wore green.

“What are they wearing now?” Twilight asked as she watched the video play. “Do I want to know why it looks like they're kicking turtle shells into an open sewer grate?”

“They explained to you about video games right?” Dragon asked and Twilight shuddered at memory of a discussion that she truly believed only Pinkie Pie could have made sense from. “One of the most popular games series of all time feature two plumbers.” Dragon said as she gestured to the screen again.

“Wait..plumbers? Seriously? And what do turtle shells have to do with plumbing?” Twilight asked feeling a headache coming on as she watched them put the manhole cover back and hop onto two vehicles that had been painted to almost resemble immature dragons and speed off screen. Dragon giggled.

“The Japanese sometimes had very..hmm..unique, ideas when they made video games. I do believe they took your words about helping make the city a better place to heart. From what I’ve been able to gather the ‘turtles’ seem to be cleaning the sewers and the storm water system.”

Dragon paused and continued in a slightly more serious tone. “They seem to have given up on crime and even emailed a bunch of designs and plans to the protectorate this morning. After you sort through all the game console specs even Armsmaster grudgingly said they had a few good ideas.” Dragon glanced over Twilight's shoulder where Flame Dancer was sleeping. “You seem to have a knack for getting people to turn over a new leaf.”

Twilight smiled but shifted uncomfortably. It had been strongly hinted to her by several people that they suspected who Flame Dancer had been, and it was only Twilight’s word and their nonsensical secret mask rules that was allowing the charade to continue. Before Twilight could dwell on that Dragon continued her tone amused again.

“They also appear to have organized the creation of a new non-profit and purchased one of the vacant lots near the boat graveyard. Assault cc'd everyone a picture of the lot and the sign they put out in front of it this morning.” Twilight looked at the picture that Dragon put up on the screen and read the sign with growing bewilderment and disbelief.

“Future home of Our Twilight Princess Temple of Friendship and Gaming. Honesty, Generosity, Kindness, Laughter, Loyalty and Magic. Follow the path of friendship and harmony laid down by the emissary from the stars.”

Twilight spluttered, “Princess?! They can’t just go and suddenly make someone princess, you can’t just do that! My family isn’t even nobility. Emissary from the stars?!? What does that even mean?” She kept reading.

“Estimated completion date Fall 2011. Temporarily based at 516 Forsyth Street, half hour services every Saturday at 6:30PM. Community game night to follow. For more information and to get involved go to:www.OurTwilightPrincess.com - Uber & Leet”

Twilight stared at the screen as if looking at could make it change. The background of the sign was an image of a building and grounds that seemed to be shaped like Twilight’s cutie mark. “They can’t just go and..do whatever it is they’re doing can they?” Dragon laughed.

“I’m afraid there is nothing really stopping them, honestly I can think of a lot worse they could be doing than trying to spread your ideas about friendship and harmony.” Twilight struggled to find a rebuttal to this and after a moment let out a defeated laugh.

“I guess you're right, if what Skitter told me about them is true, but I only had time to give them my half hour friendship lecture and some brief notes on my theories - and they can’t just decide to call me a princess, there are rules to those things. And ‘Temple’, if my translation spell is working, that doesn’t sound right. Ponies haven’t had temples since the pre-classical era. Maybe I can at least get them to just call it the ‘Friendship hall’ and without Twilight or Princess cluttering it up anywhere.”

“Good luck with that.” Dragon replied in a tone that Applejack used when she thought someone was going to attempt something both pointless and humorous. Twilight grumbled a bit looking at the screen and back at Dragon before laughing again.

“Thanks for cheering me up or at least distracting me.” Twilight trailed off with a little yawn. “I do feel a little bit better now, maybe I will try and get some sleep and let whatever this feeling is pass.” Twilight said as she pushed herself away from the desk.

“That sounds like a good ide-“ Dragon suddenly froze and a worried look overcame her face.

“Dragon? What’s wrong?”

“Leviathan’s coming.”

“WHAT?!?” Twilight said loud enough to wake Flame Dancer on the other side of the room. “Where? When?!?”

“Brockton Bay, half an hour, maybe less.” Twilight reached out with her senses and immediately wretched all over the floor. She suddenly understood her unease and nausea from earlier. The whole local field felt subtly twisted, wrong. And the effect was slowly getting worse. Rolling in from the ocean like an incoming tide. Twilight yanked a notebook from a shelf on the far wall labeled: ‘Local Leviathan attack checklist, one hour or less.’

She almost tore the front cover off with her magic before she forced herself to take a calming breath. As Twilight flipped to the first page she heard sirens start to wail all over Brockton Bay.

Ten minutes later Twilight stood on the roof of the Protectorate headquarters in the middle of the bay, mane plastered to her fur by the downpour and carefully checked over the spell diagram she had inscribed there before sitting down in the middle of it. The local protectorate team had relocated to the city and were hurriedly preparing a staging area for hero’s and villains to rally at. Dragon was flying in from Canada and other super hero teams were teleporting in as fast as it was possible to do so.

Twilight took a deep breath and lit her horn, prepared, she was able to hold her gorge as she started to channel more and more power and began to interact with the tainted field. As far as she knew casting a magic dampening ward of the size she was attempting had never been tried before. Her eyes began to glow and her mane and tail lifted from her skin as if caught in a phantom zephyr as she started to forcibly wrench twisted field back into its normal state.

Fully immersed in her power she could now see the approaching dark anomaly that had to be Leviathan and the disrupted wake in the magic field his presence was pushing before him. At the heart of that rushing darkness the magic was so intense that it was warping space and matter around it. Twilight pressed a hoof against the silver necklace she was wearing and spoke into the air, her voice strained in concentration.

“Dragon, I can see the effect he is having on the magic field - He’s starting to slowly accelerate, the best approximation of his distance and speed puts his landfall in just shy of ten minutes. As we planned I’m going to attempt to suppress water based magical effects in the area with a ward spell. He’s so strong Dragon. I’m not sure how much what I’m doing will effect him, but if it works at all it will also likely effect anyone else in the area that uses a water based magic.”

“Confirmed, I’ve passed the information along to the responders. I’m less than five minutes away. Be careful Twilight, good luck.”

Even before Twilight had seen Leviathan’s presence in the field she knew from what she had read and the videos she had watched that it would be all but impossible to cast a strong enough ward spell to cut Leviathan’s access to water based magic completely. The best she could hope for was to make it harder to reach, slower to respond. To dull the edge of his preferred magical weapon enough to maybe make a difference.

The forcefield that enclosed the protectorate base snapped off as interference from Twilight’s gathering spell became too great for the tinker equipment to compensate for. In the gloom of the storm Twilight and the diagram below her were now glowing a like purple star over the ocean. The largest teleportation spell she had ever felt dropped into the ocean of power somewhere behind her in the city, and Twilight hoped that meant more help had arrived but she could pay it no more attention as she reached the critical phase of her casting.

She floated off of the roof and the rain suddenly froze in mid air. The water in the bay stilled until its surface resembled a dark mirror. Then the bay, and every rain drop and puddle in Brockton took on a momentary purple glow. With a flash Twilight collapsed back onto the roof panting as the rain thundered once again around her. Laying on the rough wet roof Twilight felt a glimmer hope as she felt the overwhelming presence on the horizon stop its advance, only to have that hope dashed when after just a moment she felt Leviathan’s twisted magic wake start pushing forward once again.

“Did it work?” A strong female voice asked from behind her. Twilight pulled herself to her hooves and turned her head to look at Alexandria who was floating inches above the rooftop.

“Yes, I..I put as much power as I could into the ward, the spell cast successfully. I don’t know how much it will effect him. I did feel him hesitate a moment, he noticed it.” Alexandria paused for a second in thought before nodding.

“Making an Endbringer hesitate is not a feat many can claim. Hopefully it will give us an advantage. Either way, thank you. Let me carry you back to the staging area, we only have a few minutes left.” Twilight nodded and Alexandria knelt so that Twilight could wrap her forelegs around her neck. Seconds later Alexandria took off with more speed and certainly more grace than Twilight thought she would ever achieve with her wings.

They landed in a large open parking lot not far from the boardwalk and Twilight let go and dropped to her hooves. Alexandria walked briskly towards a man at the edge of the crowd wearing a blue-green outfit with an oversized hood and sleeves that were illuminated in a soft green glow. Twilight scanned the crowd until she saw Flame Dancer, Skitter, and the Wards gathered off to the left and started to trot quickly in their direction.

Dozens of capes, some she recognized from her time in the city and many others she had never seen before stood in loosely organized bunches. They were listening to man in a skin tight blue costume with what looked to Twilight like a design of jagged white flames covering it. Twilight had seen him flying and shooting bright beams of energy at Leviathan in one of the recordings Dragon had showed her. He had a strong confident voice that carried over the sound of the rain and the murmured conversations of people talking frantically into radios, phones or quietly with their neighbors.

“We owe thanks to Dragon and Armsmaster for their early alert. We only have a few short minutes before Leviathan’s arrival so I am going to get straight to the details. You’ve all seen videos online, you know what he’s physically capable of, what I want you to remember, no matter what his appearance might suggest, is that he is not stupid. He has displayed cunning and tactics that have caught too many good heroes and villains off guard. Don’t let yourself think that you have him figured out.”

He paused as a vehicle that looked like someone had tried combine a human airplane with the aesthetic of a four legged creature roared overhead and landed on the far side of the crowd. As Twilight followed the machine with her head she stopped and did a double take. At the edge of the crowd was a naked human with a horn larger than Celestia’s growing from her head. The human looked up and caught Twilight staring. Twilight blushed and waved awkwardly with a hoof and the woman gave her a small smile in return. Despite a burning curiosity Twilight turned away and finished closing the distance to her friends. They shared a couple of quick hugs while the man in the blue costume continued.

“What sets him apart is his focus on water. You’re likely aware of his afterimage, his water echo. This is no mere splash of water. At the speeds Leviathan can move, surface tension and compressibility make water harder than concrete. He also has a crude hydrokinesis, the ability to manipulate water, and there will be water on the battlefield. Twilight Sparkle has attempted something that should make it at least a little more difficult for him to use these abilities today.” Twilight ducked her head as the assembled crowd glanced her way. “However the effect is not limited to Leviathan, any ability you have that focuses on or interacts with water may be impossible or at least much harder to use.”

“Regardless of any impairment Twilight Sparkle’s actions may cause him, this is a fight we must end as quickly as possible. Brockton Bay sits on top of a large underground aquifer and Leviathan is primarily a hydrokinetic on a macro scale. Given enough time he can likely stir and agitate the water beneath the city and collapse entire local seaboard. We cannot afford another Newfoundland or Kyushu to happen here today. Our first Priority-”

Twilight suddenly felt the approaching presence of Leviathan accelerate faster than anything she had ever even conceived of. She lit her horn pulled as hard and fast on her magic as she could. An unexpected resonance in the field around her magnified her spell and a shimmering purple dome snapped into existence just in time to intercept Leviathan erupting from the ocean and traveling faster than sound.

Twilight cried out in pain and staggered as the thirty foot tall beast and hundreds of tons of water slammed into her shield. An earth shattering boom carried for miles as water and earth were vaporized and ejected in every direction from the impact point. Spiderwebbing cracks spread rapidly outwards across the shield. Everyone began to move.

“Strider get us o-“

The dome shattered with an almost musical sound and Leviathan swung his huge tail around in a vicious arc towards the crowd of capes.

Twilight’s stomach lurched and her head spun as tried to recover from the roughest teleport transition she had ever made. She heard groans around her and she lifted her head from the grass where she was laying to look around. Sprawled around her in ungainly heaps were most of the capes that had been at the rally point, retching and obviously feeling the effects of the bad teleport even more than Twilight. They appeared to be laying in the grass of some sort of sport’s stadium and Twilight could see a huge plume of dust reaching for the sky over the far set of stands and the distant rumble of explosions.

She saw Alexandria, Legend, and Eidolon launch into the air and Dragon’s suit roared after them.

“Whoa, ugh, Strider’s teleports never felt like that before.” Twilight turned and saw Vista slowly pushing herself up into a sitting position. As others around her started to sit up or stand a niggling feeling prompted Twilight to stretch out her magical senses and what she felt shocked her. The lingering traces of the spell had her magical signature all over them. It was her spell. She had been the one that cast the teleport spell! Yet clearly she had no memory of doing so, how was that possible? Suddenly she remembered the odd resonance and unexpected strength of her shield and the pieces clicked into place. She knew what she had to do.

Twilight’s horn lit up and arcs of magic began to spark from her as wind started to swirl around her.

“Twilight? What are you doing? Legend just called in over the communicators, they need everyone with shielding abilities to-”

“I’ll be back, there is something I need to do right now.”

“Back?!? Twilight what are you-” Twilight didn’t hear the rest of whatever Vista was going to say as she was surrounded by a globe of white light and vanished.

And reappeared on top of a building by the ocean, looking down on the group of assembled parahumans just as Past-Twilight was beginning her frantic preparation to cast her brother’s shield spell. Hurriedly she synchronized her magic with her past self’s and threw as much energy as she could spare into reinforcing the spell while hopefully saving enough to manage the largest teleport she had ever attempted.

Even before the shield snapped into place Twilight released herself from the spell and dove deep into her remaining magic to construct the teleport spell. Her mind screamed as she tried to keep track of all the shifting variables over such a huge area, and even though she knew it was coming her concentration nearly broke when she was knocked off her hooves by Leviathan’s earth shaking impact with the shield. Frantically she rushed to finish the spell as the shield began to shatter and she began to feel herself being tugged out of the present.

The capes below had just started to react, Leviathan, ichor streaming from his body, began to bring his tail around faster than the eye could follow, Twilight straining in concentration and loosing her grip on time, released the teleportation spell just as she was flung violently back into the future. With a flash she reappeared on the sports field. Thirty seconds had elapsed, things had changed.

Hovering a couple of feet over the center of the field was what looked like one of the barges she had pulled from the boat graveyard. It had been cut down to form a long oval and iron railing welded along it’s edge. A metal fin, almost resembling a rudder, was attached to either side of the stern. Uber and Leet, dressed in another set of costumes were ushering what looked like most of the Wards, Flame Dancer, Skitter, and a few other parahumans aboard as the sound of explosions and collapsing buildings grew closer by the second. No one else was still there.

Vista noticed her and suddenly there was virtually no distance between Twilight and the converted barge. Before Twilight could react Uber reached down and hauled Twilight up by her forelegs.

“Get us out of here Chewy!” Uber shouted and Leet responded with a guttural cry as the ship lurched skyward just as Leviathan barreled through the far side of the stadium collapsing a huge section of the stands in his wake. “Nice of you to join us your worship.” Uber said as Twilight regained her feet and the barge continued to speed away from the stadium. Eidolon flew into the stadium and Leviathan started to glow a light green. The monster levitated off the ground just long enough for Alexandria to fly in and slam a fist into him. Leviathan flew back through the hole he had created and Legend and a cape glowing a blinding white arrived to fire searing energy beams into the tumbling beast.

The barge was high enough now that Twilight could see the swath of destruction Leviathan had left between what had once been the boardwalk and the sports stadium. A slightly irregular line a hundred feet wide of collapsed buildings all the way to the ocean, in less than a minute. Twilight gasped at the destruction and all the ruined lives it had to represent. Twilight felt sadness and then a bewildered anger start to well up in her. ‘Why? Why was this happening? Why was a creature that was obviously on some level intelligent doing this?

“Twilight…TWILIGHT!” Twilight snapped her head around to see Aegis standing beside her and obviously trying to get her attention. Flame Dancer was kneeling beside her and gently hugging Twilight around her neck. The barge began a wide banking turn about a mile from where the fight against Leviathan was happening.

“Sorry Aegis, I, I just…never mind what do you need?” Twilight spoke just loud enough to be heard over the strange vessel’s engine as she gave Flame Dancer a gentle nuzzle. The girl seemingly satisfied with that stood up and walked over to the railing. The other wards and Skitter were gathered around as well, while some humans she didn’t know held onto the railings and watched the battle and Uber and Leet stood at the controls at the back of the barge.

“It’s ok, trust me, I get it. Where were you?” Aegis asked.

“I had to go back in time to strengthen my shield spell and teleport everyone away.”

“Wait WHAT?!?” Clockblocker interjected. “I’m all for bullshit powers, but If you can go back in time, why didn’t you go back further and warn everyone about the attack a week ago?”

“Because I didn’t, so I couldn’t.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“I, never mind, my temporal mechanics lecture is four hours long, we don’t have time right now.”

“Clock let it go, we know Twilight well enough to know that this was the best she could do.” Aegis interrupted. “Dragon wanted us to tell you whats going on as Leviathan is definitely operating off his usual script and she’s busy planning something with Armsmaster.” Twilight nodded and grimaced as she saw another building collapse in her peripheral vision. She wanted to go down and help right now, but if her already limited knowledge of Leviathan was not relevant it was important for her to know how things had changed.

“Ok, so first the good news. The general consensus is that whatever it is you did, is working. Since he launched himself from the ocean we haven’t seen Leviathan use a single water based ability besides his water echo, and even that appears to be spotty, only echoing a limb or two at a time.” Twilight closed her eyes and concentrated. She and a small smile that formed on her face. She could feel Leviathan straining against her ward, and the magical construct was bending but at least for the moment not breaking. Considering the magical force battering it, she couldn’t help feeling a bit of pride.

“The bad news is that he has apparently been holding back in all his previous fights. He’s moving so fast that only capes with the highest brute or mover ratings have any chance of surviving getting close to him and Dragon says he’s fighting to maximize the damage to the city. The-”

“Tl;dr” Uber interjected as he walked up dressed in a white shirt with black pants and vest and what a gun strapped to his thigh. “You took away his favorite toy, now he’s pissed and showing us all he doesn’t need it to kick our asses anyway.” Aegis gave a pained sigh but didn’t correct this. “The big three and their helpers are hoping you have some other cheat codes to try, otherwise its just waiting to see how much he destroys before Scion shows up or he breaks through whatever you did and drowns everyone.”

“Ow, Hey!” Uber complained as Skitter smacked him on the back of his head.

Twilight grimaced as she turned to the railing to see another half dozen blocks had been leveled while the explained the situation to her. She racked her brain for things to try. ‘Petrification?’ No, he was moving to fast for the primitive magical spell she had thrown together. ‘Transmutation?’ No, same problem only worse. As she thought she heard the others talking around her. The rumble of the battle below punctuating what every second of thought was costing.

“Twil-” Vista Began.

“Shh, don’t interrupt the thought process of pers- pony who is trying to come up with a plan to save our bacon.” She heard Clockblocker whisper.

“As is fitting for her name our Twilight Princess will lead us from the darkness into day, have faith brothers and sisters.” Leet said from the back of the barge.

“Breaking character a bit there aren’t you Chewy?” Clockblocker responded.

“I can’t believe you helped them build this thing Kid.” Gallant said softly.

“Don’t just leave it up to her, think everyone. Between us there’s got to be something we can do.” Skitter said.


Twilight reached out with her magic, trying to shut out the nervous chatter and the distraction of her other senses hoping to find something she could use. Leviathan was shining like a dark star below, unlike parahumans Twilight could see the creature interact with the magic field around him, twisting it, straining against her ward, warping reality, a thousand subtle effects she couldn’t make sense of. Along side him the subtle mysterious flickers of the parahumans fighting him were almost completely lost in the dark vortex of power and destruction.

It hurt to ‘look’ at him too long. Twilight pulled her awareness away and concentrated a moment on feeling her friends around her. Slowly as she slipped deeper into her magical sight she began to see the connections between them like she had on the night she met Flame Dancer. As she drifted farther away from her physical senses a bright and beautiful spider web of relationships sprung up around her. Weaving patterns beyond any ability for geometry to describe, friendship, trust, love, duty, resentment, fear, and a thousand other things bound them together and soared off to the connect them to those that were not present.

At the edge of her awareness she felt something familiar settle onto her head and the connections became brighter, more detailed. As she drifted along the web she suddenly heard Pinkie laugh. Rainbow flew by and ruffled her mane, Applejack’s sturdy hoof braced against her back, Rarity’s cultured voice and a gentle hug that could only have been Fluttershy.

“Twi, you’re getting to bogged down in the details of this thing. Most stuff is pretty simple at the heart of it. I reckon your friend had the right of it. That critter looks an awful lot like a foal having a tantrum.”

“Oh my yes, he looks very upset. Angel sometimes acts that way when he thinks I’m not giving him enough attention.”

“Quite uncouth really, his parents should have instilled proper manners.”

“Yupperoonie, he’s a big grumpy pants that needs a time out alright.”

“Come on Sparks, you’re smarter than this - just look!”

Twilight felt Rainbow wrench her head around and saw a bright pulsating and twisted bond connected to Leviathan and leading to..

Twilight gasped and jolted her out of the trance she had been in. Everyone on the barge was looking at her strangely.

“What was-”


“Hey where did that tiara come from?”

Twilight ignored them all and pressed her hoof into the communicator on her chest. Remembering what Dragon had told her before the battle about how to broadcast to everyone.

“Hard Override. I don’t know why, but the only thing Leviathan cares about, the only person he has ever cared about is-” Twilight was flung violently into the air and the barge broke apart into a dozen pieces as a fifteen foot tall winged alabaster human slammed into it at several hundred miles per hour.

8 - Endbringers (Part 2)

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Tumbling uncontrollably through the air Twilight cried out in pain as something tore through one of her wings shredding feather and bone alike. Twilight clenched her eyes and mouth shut against the pain and disorientating spin. With a mental wrench she pulled herself away from the physical world, falling back on Celestia’s lessons she boxed up the parts of her mind that were focused on bleeding, screaming, falling, and recklessly pulled magic to herself.

Her mind reeled and distantly she felt her physical body dry heave in sympathy as she embraced a magic field a thousand times more noxious than the taint that had heralded Leviathan’s approach. Leviathan’s darkness was all but lost in the overwhelming malignancy that spread out from the new arrival and pervaded everything it touched.

Precious moments were lost suppressing her aversion and forcing the malformed field around her into a usable state. She had no idea how much time had passed since the air-barge had been attacked, her only clue being that she was still able to think and thus drawing the conclusion that she had not yet fatally impacted the ground.

’Think Twilight, THINK!’ Twilight mentally yelled at herself. She needed to save her friends, she needed to save the city, she needed stop the endbringer, she needed….TIME.

A dozen feet from the ground the glowing, tumbling purple meteorite disappeared. Her disappearance was accompanied by an agonized screech, that while not picked up on any microphone or recording device, was nevertheless heard by every living thing within a thousand miles of Brockton Bay.

Twilight reappeared five thousand feet higher and 15 seconds in the past already holding her hoof to the communicator around her neck.

“..is Eidolon.”

Still tumbling uncontrollably and unable to extend her injured wing to correct her flight, Twilight once again focused on the senses that weren’t affected by what was happening in the physical world. She bent all her will to sliding back into the state of mind she’d had moments before the barge had been attacked. Racing against two separate yet equally fatal deadlines she reached until her mindscape was once again illuminated by the glowing spiderweb of relationships spread out below and around her..

Horror suffused her as she saw the effect the being that attacked the air-barge was having on the beautiful tapestry, strands being severed and crudely resown, dark malformed threads being worked into the weave. When Twilight drew her gaze to the creature at the center of those foul threads she came to a sudden terrible understanding.

The frightening intelligence at the heart of that darkness understood harmony, and in understanding it, truly understanding it, had found a way to become it’s terrifying antithesis. Not as chaos is the opposite of harmony, but harmony’s dark reflection. A macabre and perfect order that used all the dark currents in nature and sentience for its own ends.

Twilight felt the entire weave respond to her revulsion, and the tapestry sang in sympathy with her. Newly added black threads fell away and the creature shuddered and paused in it’s work. As it cast it’s attention towards her Twilight knew with a deep certainty that there would be no victory, no peace, no Harmony on this world as long as it continued to exist.

Tiara resting firmly on her head, time running short, and purpose coursing through her entire being Twilight simultaneously cast three spells and vanished back into the future.

…And plowed at terminal velocity into a lake of feathers.

‘In retrospect,’ Twilight thought as she struggled to pull her bruised and bleeding body from the insidious sea of scratchy quills, ‘transmuting the street into a lake of writing implements was perhaps not one of my brightest ideas.’ Just as she was considering a blind teleport to anywhere else feathers swirled and a strong arm wrapped itself around her barrel. Twilight bit her lip to suppress a pained cry as she was lifted out of the feathers and back into the rain above.

Aegis, blood dripping from a small cut in his forehead but otherwise looking okay quickly flew her to a roof top a few blocks away where the rest of the passengers from the ill fated air-barge sat, stood, or lay in various states of injury. Despite the dreadful seriousness of the situation Twilight couldn’t contain a half-hysterical giggle at the fact that they were all to some extent covered in feathers.

Her countenance turned serious again when they landed and she saw the true extent of their injuries. Gallant appeared was missing his right leg below the knee, someone’s belt functioning as a tourniquet. Leet unconscious, a cape she didn’t know cutting his ridiculous furred costume into crude strips and wrapping them around his chest and arms, Vista crouched in the far corner one hand pressed to a bloody bandage covering half her face.

“Twilight!” Flame Dancer, looking the least injured of everyone, ran over and wrapped her in a gentle hug. Twilight wrapped a foreleg around her as tears filled her eyes. She closed her eyes and leaned her weight into the girl, needing just a moment of rest, just one selfish moment away from what she had seen. Just a momen….

“…Twilight!” Twilight jerked out of Flame Dancer’s embrace and looked up at Aegis who had obviously been trying to get her attention for awhile. She hissed in pain and looked to her right to see Skitter trying to gently bandage her ruined wing. A shredded wreck of feather and bone that was now a third shorter than its companion. A small puddle of blood had formed beneath her in the time she had been standing there.

Those not caring for the injured had all turned their attention towards her and Aegis. The building shuddered as something very large exploded in the distance.

“Twilight, I know you're injured, but I need to know if you can pull off another group teleport, we have to get out of here, fast.” Twilight struggled to pull her thoughts back into focus, adrenaline, blood loss, and the pain from Skitter bandaging her wing making it difficult to concentrate. ‘..she’d had a plan, hadn’t she?’

“What, what’s going on?”

Uber looking up from where he was kneeling over Leet interrupted, his tone absent all its usual flippancy. “The fucking Simurgh is what’s going on. After your announcement that Leviathan’s one true love is Eidolon, he freaked and was last seen fleeing east over the ocean. Alexandria, Legend and a couple of the other heavy hitters are tied down with Leviathan and there’s pretty much no one left on the scene that can do anything useful against an endbringer. Ziz meanwhile, after fucking our shit up has begun to telekinetically pull apart downtown in the worlds worst urban renewal project. If history is any guide whatever she’s building will probably make us all very dead if her singing doesn’t turn us all into walking psychopathic time bombs first. Which by the way, is still less terrifying than the 15 seconds she spent doing nothing but staring in our direction after the crash.”

‘Singing?’ Twilight thought, ‘What singing?’

Aegis shot Uber a look and spoke up again, “Long story short, there are hard and fast rules to how much exposure to the Simurgh someone can have before their considered too dangerous to be allowed back into society. The government is probably starting to setup roadblocks and checkpoints as we speak. If we don’t get out of here soon, we won’t be getting out at all.”

Irrationally Twilight’s first thought was how this was going to totally disrupt her plan to rebuild the port and necessitate rewriting over 200 checklists. Shaking her head to clear it she looked past the group towards the center of the city where a swirling vortex of cars, buildings, and debris obscured several blocks.

She thought back to the fleeting glimpse she had of the winged being at the heart of that destruction. Waif-thin, unclothed, hair platinum-white and as long as she was tall. A myriad of asymmetrical and illogically placed wings coated in blinding white feathers. And underneath that unequine and harsh beauty the most terrifying mind Twilight had ever encountered.

She couldn’t leave, she couldn’t abandon the people of this city to the hideous machinations of that thing, but she couldn’t leave her friends her either. She had no way to know if she could succeed against it, and even if it cost her time, even if it cost her everything, she had to get them to safety.

Twilight swiveled her head to take in the entire group and then the surrounding area. “Teleport to where?”

Still clutching the bandage to her face with one hand while the other was cupped over the opposite ear, Vista stood up and spoke. “The PRT is telling citizens and capes whose attacks are not effective or are too injured to retreat to a list of schools in the suburbs, where they’re setting up evacuation points. The nearest one is about 5 miles southwest of here.”

“Five Miles?! There’s no way I could teleport everyone that distance safely, especially the ones with serious injuries..” A little hysteria crept into Twilight’s voice as she trailed off. Skitter finished bandaging her wing and gently placed her hand at the back of her neck.

“Easy, ok, so we can’t teleport - what other options do we have? No one hesitate to speak up.”

“Steal some cars?”

“Take to long and there is no telling what condition the roads are in, besides the one below us, which is still a giant river of feathers.”

“Call for strider?”

“An option, but listening to the response channel it sounds like he already has his hands full evacuating other groups and ferrying capes in and out to keep their exposure time to a minimum.”

“Twilight,” Skitter said, “I saw you lift ships that had to weigh hundreds of tons. How fast could you move something like that? How long could you keep it up?” Twilight spun abruptly and gave Skitter an excited hug. Then let out a pained gasp from twisting her wing.

“Ahgh, Tay-Skitter that’s brilliant!” Twilight quickly looked around the roof. “Okay, okay I can do that, alright everyone sit down and hold on to each other, this first part might be a little rough.” Seeing the gleam in the unicorns eye, and the intense purple glow that suddenly surrounded the entire roof everyone standing quickly scrambled to the ground and helped braced those too injured to move. The building gave a loud moan, then sharp jarring screech before the top eight feet tore itself from the floors below and with a harsh jolt sprang into the sky, racing to the west.

Behind them a huge twisted trail of destruction ranged through the city as the few capes left that could fight tried to keep Leviathan contained or get enough distance to disengage, Eidolon’s absence clearly felt.

And in the city center the ominous swirling cloud of materials grew larger by the moment.


The roof slid across the athletic field, shedding bricks, plumbing pipe, and the upper ten feet of a fire escape while leaving a deep uneven furrow in its wake. The frantic evacuation going on in the school’s parking lot paused as everyone momentarily forgot their terror of the Simurgh to watch. Twilight, woozy from blood loss struggled to hang onto the spell and barely managed to stop most of the roof’s momentum before it plowed into a large metal post.

With a sigh of relief Twilight released her spell and decided that where she was standing looked like a perfectly good place to lay down for a while. Everyone still on the roof scrambled for a handhold as it lost its remaining cohesion and finished disintegrating into a loose pile of bricks and twisted metal. Twilight heard a few startled explicatives and several people cry out in pain, but found herself lacking the energy or will pay attention to them. The small part of her holding onto logical thought insisted that the rough roof tar and broken bricks she was laying on could not possibly be as comfortable as they seemed, but the rest of her was in no mood or state to pay attention to logic at that moment. Heavy lids slid the rest of the way over her eyes.

She faded in and out of consciousness, the worried voices of her friends wafting over her, and the occasional spike of pain jolting her as she felt someone lift her and start to carry her away from her comfortable bed of stone. Lights flashed bright enough to shine through her closed eyelids and she moaned uncomfortably as someone laid her down on something soft. She felt gentle hands probe her body and distantly heard an engine start. The gentle vibration carried through whatever she was laying on and brought her closer to actual sleep. Something painful pricked her skin, and suddenly the pain was like a distant echo instead of a constant roar. Sleep claimed her fully.


…Someone was running towards her, they were upset, they were reaching toward her, speaking, but Twilight wasn’t close enough to hear…


When she woke up, she was tumbling through the air and on fire. Pain suffused her whole being and all coherent thought fled her mind. There was only pain and fire, until suddenly the fire was gone. Through the pain she felt a pair of arms wrap around her and what rational mind she was able to retain cataloged what felt like a crude and disturbing teleport. Slowly thoughts and actual consciousness began to return to her and she was able to look up into the shimmering eyes of Flame Dancer.

With a pained gasp she weakly squeezed her charred fore legs around Flame Dancer in the best approximation of a hug she could give before slowly turning her head so she could see beyond her friend. Something was wrong with one of her eyes, but the other beheld a horror-scape. Nothing recognizable was left. Buildings lay collapsed all around and seemingly everything that could burn, was. In what might have been the former school parking area, buses and ambulances lay scattered and overturned. Beside the vehicles; oblong shapes laid, smoking and unmoving.

Twilight’s breath hitched and a rattling cough came from her throat, the spasms from which nearly causing her to black out again. Then she saw her, just beyond the end of what might have been the field they had landed in and slowly drifting closer, Simurgh. Something had shorn the lower left hand side of her body off in a clean arc starting below her elbow continuing through her torso and including most of her left leg. Several of her wings were missing, others abbreviated. Beyond the Simurgh, the whole of Brockton Bay burned.

‘…What happened…wha..’ A half remembered idea surfaced in her thoughts and horror overtook her face. ‘…I’d had an idea…something..a bubble…time…oh no, no NO….it was impossible!’ ‘but,’ whatever was left of her rational mind insisted on being heard, ‘what if whatever the Simurgh had been doing involved some kind of oppositely polarized dimensional mechanics?!?…photonic reversal..cascading…’

A low miserable moan issued from Twilight’s throat and Flame Dancer gripped her a little harder and nervously kept an eye on the approaching endbringer. A sudden thought occurred to Twilight and she frantically glanced around, but try as she might, she couldn’t see any of her other friends. Then she looked once more towards the smoldering shapes.


“NO!” She screamed through her ruined throat as she heaved her burned body back onto her hooves, Flame Dancer scrambling to avoid getting stepped on in the sudden move. “THIS ISN’T RIGHT, THIS ISN’T HARMONY, THIS SHOULDN’T BE!” Her horn started to glow and she stepped fully around the partially collapsed wall Flame Dancer had been leaning against to stare at the Simurgh.

“YOU SHOULDN’T BE!” She screamed not sure who she was directing the scream at. Once more she felt the weight of a Tiara settle on her head and power flooded her being. She felt the tug of something, somethings, ponies, people both close and impossibly far away. Trying to tell her something, maybe..but they were so quiet, and this ALL OF THIS, it was so wrong, everything WRONG. A giant pillar of rainbow colored light shot from her body into the sky.

She could fix this, things would be BETTER. SHE would be better, IT could be RIGHT. More and more power filled her, and she fell to her knees in pain and ecstasy. Soon, a little more, a little…

The sky ripped open in front of her. Lightning crashed and without warning night descended over Brockton Bay. So caught up in the spell, Twilight noticed none of this until a silver shod hoof crashed into her face and threw her off her hooves to slide across the rough asphalt. The pillar of light snapped out and in her daze she heard a voice boom.


Twilight whimpered in pain and shock, her accumulated injuries all crying out due to her tumble and the aborted use of the Elements. Her ears rang, and Princess Luna’s voice still.. ‘Luna’s voice…LUNA’S VOICE…PRINCESS LUNA…she was here, here in this place, standing right there, if she was here…that meant…she could go home! Home!…where ponies made sense and things weren’t awful and friends didn’t die..and…and…what have I done?!?…what did I do?…oh Celestia what was I going to do?’

She broke down into uncontrollable wheezing sobs of emotion, relief, regret, loathing, everything, emotions beyond her ability to categorize. Through her sobs she heard the sturdy clop of shod hooves of pavement approach and looked up with her good eye to see Princess Luna standing over her, but facing away, facing the sheared form of that horrible white thing.

“Many things we must discuss Twilight Sparkle,” Luna spoke in a quiet, at least quiet for her, but firm tone. Her face could have been carved from stone as she stared at the Simurgh, who for the moment seemed content to simply stare right back. “But a battlefield is no place for discussion. Yon alabaster creature is whom thou have declared foe.” Luna stated with cold certainty. “Do others gather under its banner?” The Princess asked casting a glance at the still crying Twilight.

Twilight managed a shaky nod and a rasping “..Levia..Sea Monster.” Princess Luna’s horn lit and then settled.

“We sense not thine other foe, Perhaps 'tis wiser than the one before us. THOU!” Princess Luna exclaimed and pointed a hoof at Flame Dancer who had been slowly crawling towards the prone alicorn. “ASSIST THY LIEGE TWILIGHT SPARKLE AWAY FROM THIS PLACE, WE KNOW NOT HOW MUCH SHALL STAND ONCE BATTLE COMMENCES!”

Flame Dancer froze and looked bewildered, and Twilight started to speak

“..Princess, she can’t underst..” But stopped as Luna was already striding confidently towards the Simurgh. The thunderclouds that had grown on Princess Luna’s arrival started to swell larger still. Lightning arced through the clouds and the rain that had begun to taper off turned once more into a torrential downpour, snuffing out some of the smaller fires.

Flame Dancer seemed to have gotten the gist of the command anyway, as she hurried over and gently helped Twilight stagger back to her hooves. She kept an arm around Twilight’s Barrel and with gentle pressure started to lead Twilight away from the departing form of Princess Luna and the endbringer in the distance. Twilight paused and cast one last look over her shoulder, her emotions roiling, before allowing herself to be led away.

They had only traveled a few blocks when Twilight’s hoof came down on something crunchy…and sticky..and gross…looking down she was confronted by the disturbing scene of thousands of cockroaches moving in formation down the broken street..an arrow, they were forming an arrow…Relieved joy surged so powerfully through Twilight that it briefly washed out all other emotion.

“..Taylor!..” Twilight and Flame Dancer cried in unison following the direction of the roaches and picking up their pace as much as Twilight’s injuries would allow. It was at this point that they both toppled to the ground as the earth shook forcefully beneath them, a tremendous boom echoed through the streets, and the front wall of the building across from them gave a groan and then collapsed into rubble. When the earth stopped moving and the echo faded a voice like thunder replaced it. The voice seemed to resonate in her very bones.


The storm above exploded, clouds disintegrating as though having never existed. The moon shone bigger and brighter than Twilight had ever seen.

She felt the entire magical field ring the same note as a shaft of blinding light descended from the sky.

Requiem For A Dream (Part 1) - Tattletale

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Interlude 8 - Tattletale

“but you look harmless enough-“

“..is Eidolon.”

The first words she had said to the unicorn echoed in her head as Twilight finished her sentence and casually turned the world upside down. It wasn’t the first time she had wondered just what the hell she had been thinking when she met the alien. She watched in mute horror as the Simurgh decided to crash the party Leviathan had started. Even in her shock, she drew on her power. She needed to know more like she needed air to breathe.

True. Leviathan only cares about Eidolon. Endbringers connected.

All Endbringers only care about Eidolon. Simurgh arrived to try and stop the release of this information.

Simurgh can’t see Twilight Sparkle, only repercussions from her actions. Simurgh can’t see the present.

Twilight Sparkle can counter the Simurgh’s telepathy.

Twilight Sparkle has access to an ability that is the equal to the Simurgh’s.

Twilight Sparkle has access to an ability greater than the Simurgh’s.

Twilight Sparkle is-​

Tattletale winced as pain spiked in her skull and she had to stop using her power. She watched the monitor as Twilight somehow turned an entire street into feathers to catch her and the others falling from the sky ship. The view on the screen rapidly filled with feathers and tumbled violently before suddenly shutting off.

Should she tell people what her power had told her? She didn’t know if she could predict the ramifications even if she had been using her power, let alone without it. The screen clicked back on, showing the Simurgh and the city from a different angle, probably one of Dragon’s drones. Fuck it, I’ve never been good with secrets anyway. She tapped the communicator on her wrist and broadcast to everyone still in the fight.

“Tattletale here. It’s true, All the endbringers care about is Eidolon. They’re connected to him in some manner. The Simurgh appeared to try and stop us from finding out. Somehow Twilight Sparkle can counter the Simurgh’s telepathy, her precognition is hampered when something involves her. Also, I think she’s mad.” Tattle ignored the commotion this caused around her and watched as the Simurgh stopped everything and simply stared in the direction where the airship had crashed. She clamped down hard on her power before she could even be tempted to use it on the Simurgh again.

Her eyes flicked to another screen showing the ongoing fight against Leviathan. It wasn’t good. Only about a half a dozen capes had abilities that could somehow account for or withstand Leviathan’s recently revealed speed were still in the fight. They were trying their best to at least contain or herd Leviathan into already damaged areas, but he was simply too fast.

Especially since Eidolon had just headed out to sea in the middle of what looked like a major freakout. Everyone else not dead and still ambulatory had turned their efforts towards rescuing as many civilians as possible.

Too much damage, Simurgh exposure, government already calling for evacuation.

Brockton Bay will be quarantined, abandoned.

Protectorate now only hoping to prevent Leviathan from sinking large section of coast-

She shut her power down again as pain lanced through her head. Well, that's depressing. I was looking forward to seeing how Twilight’s plan for the city would turn out. The blond thought as she was shoved back into her seat, the mobile command center she was in accelerating abruptly.

Dragon’s/Armsmaster’s program has predicted likelihood of Leviathan entering this area.

Pressing a hand against her left eye, she willed the the armored vehicle faster. She looked back at the monitor showing the Simurgh while someone scrambled to buckle themselves into the seat beside her. The Simurgh had come out of her trance and had flown into the heart of downtown. Without any capes to impede her, she was disassembling it with remarkable haste.

She saw a status indicator she had been monitoring click back to green and she switched the Leviathan monitor to a new feed. Kid Win’s camera was back online. The feed shook and crackled with static and the sound of rushing wind. The Wards lay huddled on a rooftop that was illuminated in a purple glow that matched intense light emanating from the unicorn that stood in the center of the frame. Everyone she could see, including the glowing unicorn, looked like they’d been fed to Bitch’s dogs. Twilight was missing half a wing, Gallant a leg, all bleeding, several unconscious. Then she noticed a building whip by in the background and blinked.

Twilight levitating entire rooftop

Huh, well thats certainly a novel mode of transportation.

Most of party too injured to continue, some need immediate medical assistance

Twilight Sparkle bleeding out from wing

Used too much power

Used too much power attacking Simurgh

When the fuck did Twilight attack the Simurgh?

Has/hasn’t attacked the Simurgh

She groaned and laid her head down on the table, headache intensifying.

Can’t sustain this, evacuating

Evacuating to closest rally point to their crash site-

Shit, losing the only pers-pony that had ever given the Simurgh pause was not something that needed to happen today. On top of whatever other insights Twilight had gleaned when she had done whatever the hell she had done to find the connection between the endbringers and Eidolon. She clicked her armband.

“Tattletale here, Wards and Twilight Sparkle are headed towards public school 67, several in party including Twilight are seriously injured. Scrounge a trauma team and an evacuation vehicle to meet them when they land, eta 7 minutes via flying rooftop. If you’re in the area and wearing red shoes - I’d leave.”

She signed off and flicked her eyes back to the Leviathan screen as whole vehicle bounced violently down a road that had obviously been on the city works to do list for quite a while. The fight seemed to be going a little bit more in the heroes' favor now. Leviathan had a new assortment of superficial wounds and was moving slower, closer to his traditional speed.

Alexandria and Legend looked like they were successfully herding the endbringer back towards the docks with Kaiser erecting metal roadblocks to assist. Occasional missile attacks from a Dragon suit detonating at just the right time and place to throw the creature just enough off balance for a punch from Alexandria or a Laser shot from Legend to knock Leviathan to the ground.

The city is going to be abandoned, why are they herding Leviathan?

Herding towards another cape

Believe cape may be able to damage Leviathan

Believe cape may be able to damage Leviathan more than Alexandria or Legend

Dragon involved, Armsmaster involved, herding towards Armsmaster

Armsmaster has a new tinker weapon

Armsmaster has been planning this for a while

Manipulated other aspects of the fight to get to this outcome



Tattletale slumped in her chair feeling like her brain was melting. She’d used her power too much today, helping in the evacuation and planning the response when Leviathan had revealed just how much it had been holding back. Hardly able to form words through the pain she brought her shaky hand up to her wrist to let them know, it wasn’t going to work, what they were doing wasn’t going to- it was too late. Alexandria hurled Leviathan through a half collapsed warehouse and his head slid to a stop directly in front of Armsmaster who jabbed his halberd, which was surrounded in a grey fog, directly into the sea monster’s face.

Leviathan writhed as the grey cloud began to dissolve anything it touched. For a second Tattletale dared to hope that her power had been wrong. Then Leviathan’s tail whipped around in a graceful arc and when the blur passed Armsmaster’s armor lay scattered over the street in dozens of blood soaked pieces. A scream broke over the comm and then a dozen missiles exploded in Leviathan’s face, followed immediately after by Dragon’s mech slamming into it at a couple hundred miles an hour and detonating in an explosion that leveled what buildings still stood in the surrounding area.

Tattletale let her fingers fall away from the wrist communicator, and then almost blacked out when the command center took a corner so fast that its right side wheels briefly left the asphalt. Pained curses chorused through the vehicle as people were flung into consoles or each other and then flung back into their seats as they accelerated forward once more. With a supreme effort of will she turned her head to look at the screen displaying the other eldritch horror of the day, and stared in shock.

The Simurgh was in two pieces. It’s left arm, lower left torso, left leg, and the myriad wings that had been attached to those parts of its body were frozen in mid air along with most of the previously swirling debris cloud it had been working with. The rest of the Simurgh was floating a block away and staring at its suspended body parts. Not that the Simurgh’s expression had changed in the slightest, but Tattletale took a moment to enjoy imagining that it was wondering what in the hell had just happened. Cheers echoed around her as other people took in the scene. No one had ever inflicted so much damage on an endbringer.

As Tattletale stared at the screen she noticed that the frozen area formed a sphere and faint purple lightning sporadicly crackled on its surface. ’Twilight,’ she thought not needing her powers to deduce that the purple alien had done yet another impossible thing. The temptation to use her power to figure out exactly what that sphere had done was almost impossible to resist, but she knew from past experience that she was very close to wiping out her ability to function at all.

Several people gasped at once, and if she had not been in so much pain she might have giggled at how ridiculous it sounded. Instead she focused on what had caused the reaction in the first place.

“Something is happening in the sphere!” the woman to her left said much too loudly, as if everyone wasn’t already looking at the feed and could see for themselves. “Everything inside the area of effect seems to be drifting towards the center.” Indeed that was happening, and the speed of the drift appeared to be increasing, quickly. The purple sparks started to appear more often and traveled quicker along the surface. Tattletale glanced at another feed and noticed that the Simurgh seemed to be deliberately putting more distance between itself and whatever was happening.


Fuck! That fucking hurt. Screw it, she didn’t need her power to tell her that something bad was about to happen, it was just that kind of fucking day. She quickly tapped her wristband.

“Hard override - everyone needs to put as much distance between themselves and downtown, repeat get the fuck away from there!” The items inside the sphere had begun a counterclockwise spiral into its center where a bright spot of light had formed and was getting brighter by the second. She looked over her shoulder and shouted towards the drivers cab and tried not to hurl from what the motion did to her headache. “That fucking includes us!” She lurched back in her seat as the driver headed her advice and the other console operators began barking into their headsets.

Without warning, all the screens flashed white, followed less than a second later by the vehicle being lifted off the road. The armored transport came down hard on its left hand tires, several of which succumbed to the impact and blew out. The vehicle tipped and came down hard on its side. Tattletale clutched her harness tightly as the vehicle slid down the road on its side and tossed everything not locked down inside it towards the new floor.

When the unholy screech of metal on pavement finally came to an end as the vehicle slid to a stop, Tattletale took twenty seconds just to hang in her harness. She heard other people starting to move around and unbuckle themselves, checking each other for injuries. She should be doing something like that, but..fuck, she just needed a moment before recognizing that this day wasn’t over yet.

Someone abruptly grabbed her around her waist and released the five point harness she had been strapped into, her head very nearly swung into the console in front of her before whoever it was increased their grip and pulled her sideways and out of her seat. Gently she was lowered to stand on the base of the console that was now the obstacle strewn floor.

She looked behind her to see Catherine, the much taller and fitter PRT tech that had been working the next seat over from her. The tech gave her a weary smile, marred by a sizable cut in her right cheek and pointed towards the back of the vehicle where someone had just pushed open a door now above their heads letting in daylight and a steady stream of rain.

“Let’s go,” Catherine said, “Evacuation command has already dispatched a truck to pick us up. The explosion, whatever the hell that was, was apparently enough to convince Leviathan that he’d had enough for today. Alexandria just came in over the comms saying he took a quick dive back into the ocean minus a few bits and missing most of its face from what Armsmaster did.”

Tattletale nodded as she shuffled towards..Rick, that was his name, who was helping to boost people up through the door.

“What about the Simurgh?”

“Missing half of itself, and drifting nonchalantly towards the southwest. Most of the heroes still onsite have had close to the maximum allowed exposure limit already, and nobody had planned for a Simurgh fight when we started today. Plan is to pull everyone back and regroup, and wait for some reinforcements that are staging in Boston before we try and drive her off - though honestly if missing half her body hasn’t been enough to discourage her - I’m not sure what the hell is.”

Tattletale grunted in pain and agreement as Rick hoisted her up into the rain and the arms of a waiting PRT officer. She quickly got out of the way and tried to watch her step on the slick side panels of the former mobile command center. Looking out she realized that they were most of the way up captain’s hill. One of the nicer areas of the Bay, at least it had been. Now, despite the rain, it was mostly on fire.

She was a cynical supervillain with a fucked up history, was being blackmailed into working for a complete sadist, and had been helping to organize an a fight against not one but two lovecraftian horrors and still the vista in front of her staggered. From the elevated vantage point where they had crashed you could see the whole city, or what was left of it.

Downtown was simply gone, anything within about 8 blocks of where the sphere had been, just didn’t exist anymore. Past that lay block upon block of flattened buildings, and beyond that was fire. If it weren’t for the network of streets, it would have been hard to tell there had ever been a city here at all. Looking towards the fringes she could see lines of cars and what might have been crowds of people all trying to make their way from what had once been their home.

There had been worse endbringer attacks, but not many. And the Simurgh was still fucking here. Drawing her gaze towards the southwest it took her a second, but she spotted the floating white speck that had to be the creature in the distance. Just what the hell were they going to-

A pillar of rainbow colored light snapped into existence not far from where the Simurgh was floating. It pierced the cloud banks and appeared to continue all the way into space. The area around the pillar seemed to take on a glow. Tattletale felt a hum in the air and what felt like alternating waves of comforting warmth and cold despair washed over her.

Twilight Sparkle is-

Twilight Sparkle is-

Twilight Spa-

She dropped to her knees on the slick metal beneath her, cradling her head in her hands while a feeling of dread rose up from inside her oscillating in time with whatever was emanating from that rainbow pillar. Her power was useless, but something deep inside herself was telling her something bad was about to happen, something worse than an endbringer attack.

She looked out through the pain at the rainbow pillar that was somehow beautiful and awful simultaneously. The PRT troopers and staff around her were talking frantically to each other or to their wristbands. They felt it too, but there was nothing they could do against this. It was beyond. Nothing was going to stop whatever that was.

Then a jagged tear in the sky appeared, stretching a thousand feet from the ground near the base of the pillar of light into the sky. Suddenly it was night and Lightning crashed all over the city. As quickly as it appeared the rainbow pillar winked out of existence, taking the comfort and dread with it. The tear in the sky seemed to merge into the new born night and vanish like a mirage. The clouds grew, billowed and darkened as lightning danced between them. Rain that had been letting up intensified into a downpour hard enough that the fires started to go out.

A voice felt more than heard echoed through the city, but Tattletale couldn’t make out any of the words. They felt angry, commanding. She stared up at the growing storm, and a nighttime that had arrived hours before it should have. None of this made any goddam sense and she was sick of being out of the loop. She was probably going to be able to do fuck all down there, going down there was probably a one way ticket to a quick death, but at least maybe she would die knowing what the hell was happening.

She glanced around the neighborhood they were in.

No car

Evacuated with vehicle

Evacuated with vehicle

Looks vacant, owners on long term vacation, car in garage

Car in garage, spare keys in house-

Wincing and hoping that there were also some painkillers in that house Tattletale struggled back to her feet and walked towards the driver's cab, and from there towards whatever answers were to be found.

Requiem For A Dream (Part 2) - Luna

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Luna spoke as she simultaneously finished her working. While this sphere’s moon was not hers it was of the night and so answered her call faithfully. The storm clouds directly above exploded as the magic of her working overcame them. Behind the cover of the clouds the moon had drawn close and now shone with an intensity that briefly rivaled that of the sun itself. The song of moonlight and magic reached a crescendo and a lance of lunar light and will pierced the atmosphere and struck the floating form of her opponent.

She opened her eyes as the light from her lance dissipated. Spurred by her magic the clouds once more grew to cover the moon, rain coming down in sheets as lightning crackled overhead. Before her, where the creature had been, now only a hole. Warily she trotted forward and stopped at its rim. Crystalline feathers far to dense to be carried off by the wind lay scattered about the fathoms deep abyss.

Acting on instinct deeper than thought, she transformed into mist just as most of a building flew through the spot she had been standing in. Reforming facing the direction of the throw, she leapt off the ground and spiraled to the side to avoid more telekinetic savagery. She spotted her opponent, missing more pieces of itself, but alive yet. Alive and apparently wishing a duel. A feral grin spread across Luna’s face as she spun and dove around the projectiles thrown her way from all directions.

Her horn lit and reaching into the other she drew forth her battle raiment. Forged from moonlight and magic, luminescent plate and chain began to materialize on her frame, flowing like molten silver and solidifying into a an armor last worn more than a thousand years ago. The impact of something large and metallic knocked her sideways in the air, but could not suppress her adrenaline fueled smile as she felt the cool touch of lunar plate upon her muzzle. Intricate and ancient runes inscribed themselves in patterns both beautiful and deadly across the armor as the familiar weight of wingblades and edged hoofguards settled onto her body.

She rolled and spun through the air as a spiked and weighted braid of metal wove itself among the night sky of her tail. Now properly attired she focused her magic on the objects around her. The blizzard of projectiles grew as Luna added to the storm and wrested control over some already airborne. She danced the sky with death as her partner, but she was not one to be led in a dance such as this. Her horn grew brighter and the buildings and strange vehicles caught in her opponent’s telekinetic grasp shuddered. Some dropped or flew into space, while others, guided by Luna, slammed into the alabaster figure knocking it out of the air to slide across the ground.

Luna dove forward, and extending a wing, sliced through a shield of crystal feathers that her opponent had brought up to protect against the attack. The razor sharp feathers struck back, scrapping against her armor but also finding flesh to cut. Luna rolled away through the air and was blindsided by a large mass of yellow metal and glass. She crashed through the one of the last standing walls of whatever structures had been here before her arrival and transformed into flock of ghostly bats before she could be crushed between the ground and whatever she had been hit with.

She flew in a hundred directions at once, and then dove and swirled around her enemy’s wings and between them before reforming inside her opponent’s winged guard. Hooves laced with mass increasing magic, she spun and bucked the alabaster nightmare in the face. Even as the creature was hurled backwards by her hit, its wings once again sought purchase against her armor, cutting grooves into its surface and slicing her lip open in a spray of blood.

Luna swung her head with the blow to minimize the cut while closing her wings and dropping to the ground to avoid a gigantic mechanical carriage that sped through her previous location and proceeded to smash a massive hole in one of the few standing towers by the city’s bay. The ground rumbled beneath her hooves and she teleported to the billowing cloud bank above just before an enormous fireball erupted from the street. Even two thousand feet above the ground she could feel its searing heat against her armor.

She reared up and slammed her hooves into the clouds beneath, unleashing a blinding cascade of lightning towards the white speck far below. Using the lightning as cover she extended her bladed wings, dove, and teleported into the face of her opponent. She twirled and her blades sliced into the crystalline flesh beneath her. Her own flesh cried out as the living blades of her foe retaliated and found purchase on her body.

Her tail lashed out and wrapped around the remaining leg of the creature and the edged lunar metal woven in it bit deep. She increased her mass many thousand fold and swung her tail and the creature now trapped by it with all the force she could conjure. The beast was flung with speed enough that it did not so much as hit the water of the bay, but push it out of the way before slamming into the bedrock beneath. Luna settled to the ground and swung her tail in a complicated movement, allowing the leg still bound in it fall to the ground, cratering the pavement beneath.

Blood dripped from between the gaps between the joints and plates of her armor, and flowed from her lip and the top of her head where the stump of her left ear throbbed painfully. The sky roiled above as the storm grew fiercer still, and small hail stones began to plink against her armor.

The ruined form of her opponent rose from the waves, its former beauty cut from it as its limbs had been. It’s face was marred by dozens of deep gashes. One wing remained whole and wrapped around a one-armed torso that was marred by the stumps of the others now littering the city around them.

Luna leapt once more into the sky and slowly began to make her way towards the bay and the creature above it. Ducking, teleporting, and weaving around a renewed telekinetic storm that almost seemed half-hearted in comparison to the barrage she had earlier endured. Retaliating in kind by altering the flight and accelerating thousands of pieces of hail to hypersonic speed into the body of her foe. She began to channel her magic once more through the moon, preparing a spell she hoped would end this.

Jerking her head back she narrowly avoided a gigantic metal beam that exploded from the side of the ruined building she was passing. The movement caused the line of blood flowing from her ear to divert and flood into her eye, and she lost the pattern of the working she had been preparing. Ire rose in her as the metal girder crashed into a line of overturned alien carriages.


Her entreaty was ended as she found herself buried under a thousand tons of steel, bricks, and glass accelerated past the speed of sound. Reacting to instincts honed in battles long forgotten to time she dissolved herself into mist as soon as she was struck. The pain from the blow was substantial even as she became not so. As the boom and shockwave echoed out across the ruined city she seeped through the cracks and reformed into a new shape upon the settling pile of detritus.

Lightning made more of moonlight and magic than electricity rained down and struck her alabaster foe, driving it back as her new bipedal shape solidified. A flowing cape of green settled upon new shoulders as a deep cowl came to rest on her brow. Long sleeves covered her glowing minotaur-like arms and her voice deepened to a masculine tone as she spoke once more.


Requiem For A Dream (Part 3) - Flame Dancer

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Flame Dancer lay against the rough and wet asphalt as the rain picked up again and tried not to think of the dozens of throughly squished cockroaches beneath her as she began to blink the spots from her eyes. A pained groan came from her left and she turned to see Twilight struggle to get her forelegs underneath her and with a rictus grimace across her face, succeed in lifting her barrel from the pavement. When she turned towards her she had to fight an instinctive flinch. Twilights right eye was swollen shut and marred by a horrible slash through its center that was oozing blood and other fluids down her muzzle. Combined with her badly singed fur and grisly truncated wing her friend looked like a zombie parody of herself.

Forcing herself to her own feet, newly acquired bruises and cuts tried made themselves known to her as she reached out and gently hugged Twilight to her chest, doing her best to avoid the pony’s injuries. Twilight sniffled and with effort raised one of her legs to return the hug.

Twilight started to talk, but soon trailed off into nearly inaudible mumbles. “I…I…I’m so…no, no, its not the time for that, not the time, not enough time, keep it together, have to keep it together for my friends…ah” She shook herself and with a deep rattling breath started again. “I’m so glad your okay Flame Dancer, we, we need to get moving, we need to find Taylor…And…and then the others too, we need to make sure they’re ok.”

“Ok Twilight, thats-“ She was cut off as the street once again rumbled beneath them and a unholy screech of a building collapsing echoed from several blocks to their east. A plume of dust erupted from the impact point, but with the steadily increasing rain she soon lost sight of it. The early night that had come with the other pony didn’t help either. The other pony! There was another pony like Twilight, Twilight knew her! Oh I hope she’s okay, Twilight needs someone so badly…And maybe, if, if she knows how to go back to Twilight’s home, I can go too, away from this, away from that other me, forever.

With that bright thought in her mind she gently released Twilight and stood up from her crouch. Taking as much care as she could, she wrapped her arms around the unicorn and gently lifted to help Twilight get her rear legs underneath her. With an unsteady wobble Twilight slowly put a hoof forward, and then another. After she had moved all four hooves she let out a small puff of relief and twisted her neck to face her.

As the earth shook again, Flame Dancer nodded at the unspoken question and replied “Let’s go find them.”

They stumbled over the broken pavement in the dark, careful not to loose sight of the trail of bugs in the dim light cast by fires fueled from gas main leaks and the near constant lightning that arced between the clouds above. It was another two blocks before they heard a muffled yell coming from the direction the bugs were pointing to. Abandoning caution and appearing to momentarily forget her injuries Twilight leapt forward and began a awkward limping cantor towards the sound, Flame Dancer running close behind.

As they got closer they picked out a light flashing through the rain and a voice that slowly got clearer. “Over here! stay to the left side of the street!” Uber. Twilight shifted her course to the left and she followed along until Twilight came to a panting, skidding halt in a circle of light cast by a propane lantern held up by the one time villain.

She saw Twilight give him a relived smile, which she mirrored before a gasp escaped her throat. As Uber lowered the lantern, its circle of light illuminated a body laying on the ground behind him, its right arm pinned just below the shoulder underneath a pile of bricks and twisted metal.

“Ta-Skitter!” Twilight cried as her eyes had also been drawn to the sight. Taylor’s face was hidden behind her mask, but she tried to give a cheery wave with her free hand.

“Its good to see you guys, I-Twilight! Are you ok?!”

“Am I ok? I’m not the one buried under building! Oh, this is all, its like before, I saved them…but then he…killed them, killed them all, no, not this time, keep it t- I’ll…I’ll get you out Skitter, Just let me think for a second.”

“The whole pile is unstable, I’ve been looking for a way to free her, but I’m pretty sure moving anything is going to bring the whole pile down on top of her,” Uber interjected. “We’re going to need more people or some of your mojo if we are going to get her out safely.”

“Okay, okay if we can’t move the pile, I’ll just move her. Uber, Flame Dancer, please get back about ten feet.” Twilight said as she laid down beside Skitter and extended one of her forelegs so that it rested against skitters stomach. She closed her good eye and a soft purple glow surrounded her horn. “Skitter, this is probably going to hurt, a lot.”

“Do it”

With a bright flash and pop Twilight and Skitter disappeared and reappeared on the ground fifteen feet from the collapsed wall. Skitter let out a pained cry as the pile of rubble shuddered and slid down to cover the area they had just left. Uber and Flame Dancer rushed over to the pair as Twilight’s horn began to glow again and a similar glow encased Skitter’s crushed right arm. Flame Dancer knelt beside Twilight in worry as Uber stood still for a moment before crouching down and examining Skitters arm intently. Blood seeped through her costume between her shoulder and her elbow, and though she didn’t know much about anatomy, how the arm was laying just looked wrong.

“Her upper arm bone is crushed pretty badly, luckily it doesn’t look like the artery was damaged. It’s going to need surgery, not much we can do besides immobilize it as best we can for now.” He stood back up and pulled off his vest and then his shirt and then began to tear neat even strips off of it.

Uber quickly fashioned the strips into a sling and after slipping Skitter’s head and arm through it, Twilight gently levitated her into a standing position. Flame Dancer stood up and gave Skitter a half-hug around the uninjured side of her body just in time to steady her as a huge fiery explosion lit up the sky a couple of miles to the east. The ground bucked beneath them, but Uber grabbed them both and seemed to know just how to move to allow them all to remain standing.

“Okay, I don’t know what that was, but the good news is that the battle seems to be moving away from us.” Uber said in as serious a voice as Flame Dancer had ever heard him use. “Skitter do you still have a bead on where the others are holed up?” She nodded and pointed in the direction of a cross street.

“Yeah, I think, I think almost everyone else is about 4 blocks down that road, in…it feels like a small warehouse space of some kind.”

“Anyone else between us an them?”

“Not that I can see with my bugs, but most of them are useless in rain this heavy. If anyone’s out in the open I wouldn’t be able to sense them.”

“Alright, then let’s get getting while the getting’s good.”

Uber started off down the street with a measured pace that Flame Dancer was sure was meant to go easy on Skitter and Twilight. He held the lantern out in front of him to light their way as they sloshed through several inches of deepening water, the pounding rain beginning to overcome what remained of the storm water system. What would have been a five minute walk took ten at their pace, but finally they reached an intersection with an old gas station garage on the opposite corner with lights flickering in the windows.

Standing underneath a ramshackle metal awning, just outside what looked like the garage’s office and illuminated by light spilling from the doorway, stood Aegis. A smile spread across his face when he noticed them and ignoring the rain he dashed out to meet them. Just before he reached them a flash lit up the city from the east, followed by a rolling staccato boom of hundreds of lightning strikes. Aegis Looked up nervously as cloud lightning danced above them, he turned about and waved for them to follow him inside.

The unholy din of the pounding rain on the garage’s metal roof was the first thing she noticed, but after a moment to adjust to it and another to appreciate the first time she’d been under shelter since the battle with Leviathan began, she noticed everyone else in the building.

A chorus of smiles, tired waves, and a sudden appearance of Vista hugging Twilight about her neck greeted them. Kid win was sitting at an old wooden desk with an array of tinker tech and antique electronics scattered around him. Leet and Gallant were both wrapped in bandages on a large work bench in the center of the room and being tended to by a tall woman in a torn PRT officer’s uniform. Gallant appeared unconscious, but Leet had a relieved smile for them.

Clockblocker was leaning nonchalantly against what looked like an old shop towel suspended in mid air. Shadow Stalker stood by an open door at the far side of the room and after a cursory glance returned to staring out it. A cape she didn’t know that had evacuated the stadium on the air barge with them, and who she still didn’t know their name had commandeered a ratty old sofa, and a teenager with a splint around his right leg was leaning his back against a large metal toolbox.

Clockblocker of course was the one who spoke first. “Well look what the Endbringers drug in.” Then in an overly posh female accent he continued, “I just love the style you guys have going there, sort of a Zombie apocalypse meets shipwreck survivor motif. It’s going to be all the rage this year, I’ve got a sixth sense for these things you know.”

Clockblocker suddenly found himself enveloped in Twilights magic and drug into the extended hug she was having with Vista, as she started to laugh and cry simultaneously.

“Something I said?” He said with a crooked smile as he was pulled tight into the hug.

“I…(hic)…ha…I really needed that Clock. Its just, you somehow just reminded me vividly of two of my best friends back in Equestria, also I’m just so happy that you all are okay.”

“Okay might be stretching it, alive at least.” Aegis interjected with an apologetic seriousness. “Leet and Gallant really need actual medical treatment sooner rather than later.” He paused and looked closer at Twilight, “for that matter so do you. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt the rest of us either.”

“I, I don’t think I can do another major levitation like I did before, not safely, not right now.” Twilight said in a disappointed tone.

“Hey, thats okay, we just need to find some other transportation. Kid’s been trying to get comms back up, all of our stuff got fried in the explosion. How’s it going Kid?”

“Another 10, maybe 15 minutes. If I can get it to work at all that is.”

“Okay, so any of you happen to see any cars or trucks on your way here?”

“Ones that weren’t on fire?” Clockblocker interjected as he was released from the telekinetic hug.

Uber shook his head. “If you’re going to be picky, then no, I don’t think you’re likely to find anything serviceable anywhere east of us. Which is where we all came from.”

The building shook and its rafters groaned as another titanic boom echoed over incessant noise of the rain. Dust rained down from the ceiling and Flame Dancer couldn’t contain a series of sneezes that reminded her of just how many bruises she had accumulated today.

“Alright then here’s the game plan. Uber, Clockblocker, and I are going to spread out and search to the west for a working vehicle or help. We’ll meet back here in 20 minutes and see if Kid’s got comms back up and go from there.”

“Somebody call for a ride?” Everyone jerked in surprise and spun towards the open door. Leaning against the frame and twirling a set of car keys around her fingers stood a short blonde wearing a purple domino mask, long rain coat, and a weather-beaten fedora. A wide vulpine smile stretched across her face.

Requiem For A Dream (Part 4) - Chevalier

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A hush fell over the room as all eyes focused on the big screen. A skinny technician, glancing quickly between the scrolling text on his terminal and the main screen was the first to break the silence.

“Did it, did she, did Death Metal Pony just rip a leg off the Simurgh?”

A pause, then a loud, “FUCK YEAH!” from a burly cape standing in the back of the room set off a chorus cheers and claps. A screeching whistle from Director Preston quieted the room back down in a hurry.

“Keep focused people, this shit ain’t over yet. Thompson! Why’s screen three still filled with static? Whats the status on UAV-4?”

“No telemetry sir, Its gone. The last shockwave just scrapped 2 as well.”

“Fuck, ETA on replacements? We need those eyes on site. Fry, give me a sitrep on Brockton Mobile Command.”

“UAV’s are being fueled at Logan. Time to site 10 minutes.”

“10 minutes! Bullshit 10 minutes, this thing could be over in 2 minutes, get those things rolling.”

“Sir we’re still getting no response from Brockton Mobile, local command has officially transferred to Rally-1, Alexandria is on site.”

“Good, patch her through and detail one of those replacement UAV’s to do a flyby of the last known location of Brockton Mobile. And get someone on the goddamn line that can tell me why the sun decided to set 2 hours early.”

Chevalier stood against the wall and watched the controlled chaos of the Boston PRT operations center as he waited for orders. He was worried about Hannah. He knew she’d escaped Leviathan’s initial attack, but her comm had failed not long after and no one had seen her since. Unfortunately, he did know what happened to Armsmaster. One more of the original wards gone forever. Who else had died today? How many were still to die before the day was over? No matter how many Endbringer battles you had been to, there was no getting over the nervous dread of it.

The rest of his team and others were being staged on the roof for a teleport if and when the call came in. The Thinkers in Chicago were still debating if further cape deployment would help or hinder the alien’s battle against the Simurgh. He told his teammates that he was coming down here to try and get a better picture on what was going on, so that when they were deployed they’d have a better idea what they were jumping into. All of that was true, but really he was down here to distract himself, something external to direct his thoughts to. As one of the static filled screens showed the now truncated form of the Simurgh rise from the ocean his emotions swirled. This distraction isn’t working very well.

He clenched and unclenched his hand slowly, he wasn’t sure what he should be feeling. Elation? No one, not even Scion, had ever caused this much damage to an Endbringer. Disappointment? Regardless of the damage, the Simurgh was continuing the fight. Sadness? At the loss of life and the erasure of another irreplaceable piece of humanity at the hands of the Endbringers and these new aliens. Resentment? Irrationally thinking on the fact that after all the sacrifice they had made over the years in battling the Endbringers, it looked like a couple of aliens were going to step in and save them. If humanity was going to be saved, why hadn’t someone done it before the loss of so much, and he so many friends? Hope? Real hope? Even with the devastation of the day, if it ended with a dead endbringer, it could be the start of something. A turnaround humanity desperately needed.

Last he wondered what he would see, if he met these aliens in the flesh. Before the Endbringer attack Alexandria had been trying to arrange just such a meeting. Were they like us, simply more powerful? Or were they something truly…other?

“…NASA just confirmed that earth’s rotation at the equator has increased to 1,954 kilometers/hour, no they can’t explain it…”

“…Director we have Thinker confirmation that something Twilight Sparkle did, does seem to have limited or interrupted the Simurgh’s singing, but we instituted those protocols for a reason and I’m reluctant to override them when we understand so little about what is going on, and so many capes here close to the maximum exposure limit…”

“…NWS reports abnormal tidal readings across the country, the storm over Brockton Bay is expanding and moving contrary to any of their models…”

“Oh shit-“ Conversation cut off as what looked like an entire city apartment block punched through the sound barrier and blindsided the alien horse. Two more screens went blank in the resulting shockwave from the hit. The technicians frantically worked their comm sets trying to reestablish contact. One of the screens returned. A jittering image of the impact site, subtitled Dragon-fast2. He let out a relived breath as it picked up and focused on a glowing midnight mist rising from debris.

“…45 seconds to Rally-1, you should be getting my telephoto feed now…”

“Confirmed Dragon, good signal, we-what the hell?!”

What the hell?! His thoughts echoed as the mist reformed not into the armored horse, but Eidolon. Another screen clicked back on with a much better feed. Then the Eidolon clone spoke, and spoke with his voice. If it had not been for the alien language, he would not have been able to tell the difference. It even stood in one of the cape’s favored poses.

“Alexandria, are you seeing this?”

“Yes.” She paused for a moment, “Does anyone have a location on the real Eidolon?”

“Mind games.” Chevalier said, mostly to himself, but Preston was close enough to hear him.

“What, explain that.”

“If what Twilight and Tattletale said earlier is true, then the only thing the Endbringers really care about is Eidolon. If Twilight was somehow able to communicate that to this new one, it may be some kind of psychological ploy.”

“The Endbringers seemed to care fuck all whether Eidolon was facing off against them before.”


Then conversation ended as the alien in Eidolon’s body teleported to avoid another hurled building. She? He? Reappeared briefly, slashed a hand, and half of the Simurgh’s face simply ceased to be. He appeared again, raised his other hand, and a searing beam of energy shot from it. The Simurgh twisted in a blindingly fast movement but the beam still scored a deep line against its remaining torso before cutting off.

Chevalier stared in disbelief at the monitors. The alien was fighting like Eidolon. The alien was fighting like Eidolon had in the beginning, using powers he hadn’t seen the real one use in years. A giant whirling cloud of material, at least a mile wide rose up from the remains of the city and engulfed Eidolon and the Simurgh momentarily before the vortex of material exploded outwards in all directions. Something hit one of the UAVs and its feed tilted and then began to spin in a dizzying blur before snapping off to a blue screen.

The Simurgh was now clutching something in her remaining hand. Dragon’s feed and the remaining UAV tried to zoom in on it as the Endbringer dove and ducked around more beams and explosions that appeared from nowhere.

A jagged hole appeared in mid-air and the Simurgh spun into it. The Alien yelled in rage in Eidolon’s voice and pursued the Endbringer into the hole just before it sealed back up. Twenty seconds of shocked silence ticked by as everyone held their breath, then every feed flashed white and went dead at the same time.

Everyone yelled into their comms at once.

Requiem For A Dream (Part 5) - Vista

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Vista finished spreading out the old packing blankets and towels in the bed of truck Tattletale had arrived in. She absently itched around the bandage covering the cut on her face. When she had asked how the Villain had found them Tattletale had smirked and simply replied, “psychic.” She frowned as she hopped out of the truck and walked back over to where the psychic was talking with Twilight, Skitter, and Aegis.

“…You’re the girl from the roof! I met you the first night I got here.”

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the worlds, she walks into mine.”

“Huh?” Twilight replied looking to Skitter for clarification.

“Movie ref. No, let’s not get sidetracked. Vista, is the truck ready for Gallant, Leet, and Jonathan?”

“As ready as it’s going to be, even with that padding we’re going to have to go slow if we don’t want to rattle everyone’s bones out of their bodies. I’m not sure if the thing ever had suspension.”

“Sorry, I didn’t have time to browse Captain’s Hill for an Escalade.”

“Easy,” Carlos said patting the air with his hands. “We’re grateful.” He raised his voice and called inside the door of the garage to be heard over the rain. “Lieutenant Joarez, we’re ready out here.” After a response that was lost in the rain noise, Aegis turned and stepped into the back of the truck. Skitter and Twilight backed away from the doorway and she followed behind so she wouldn’t get in the way.

Uber and Lieutenant Joarez eased through the doorway awkwardly, each holding the edges of a blanket that was cradling the unconscious Dean. Oh Dean, you’re the last person that deserves this. After them came Dennis and Sofia also cradling opposite sides of the blanket and Lightsout came last cradling the bottom of Dean’s remaining leg. It hurt to see, but she didn’t look away from it. Sometimes this is what being a hero was.

Uber and Joarez handed him off to Carlos and he stepped further back into the truck bed before gently lowering Dean and sliding him the rest of the way in. Everyone marched back inside to get Leet ready for the same procedure. Flashes of light and a couple more dull booms echoed from the east, but whatever was going on out there seemed to have calmed down for a moment. As the others started working their way back outside with Leet, Tattletale turned to Twilight again.

“So, I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong in a first impression with someone, or somepony. Even before I got my power. That was quite a rainbow light show you put on out there earlier. What was that?” Twilight looked down and to the side, looking upset. Vista turned a glare towards Tattletale who brought up her hands in surrender. “Hey, I don’t mean to upset you, but this is an Endbringer battle we’re talking about, and one that has already thrown out all the rules we thought we knew. You probably did more damage to one than everyone combined has up to this point, but that rainbow thing, it gave me the serious wiggins.”

Vista wanted to tell Tattletale to stop upsetting Twilight, her friend had already gone through so much today, and she was so badly hurt. She didn’t know how the pony was still standing with all the injuries she had, but Tattletale was right. Any information was important, and she knew just what the Villain meant when she described the feeling she got from whatever that Rainbow pillar was, apparently something Twilight had done.

“…I…It was…wrong. I shouldn’t have ever done something like that. I was just so mad and scared, and I thought, I thought everyone was dead and lots of people probably are, and its all my fault.” Twilight started to sniffle quietly and Vista knelt down and carefully wrapped an arm around her in comfort. She looked back up to find Tattletale looking a little remorseful, but the girl doggedly continued.

“Hey, we all make mistakes. I have certainly made more than my share. The important thing to remember is everyone that was hurt today, wouldn’t be if Endbringers hadn’t attacked. Thats on them, not you. But we still need to know what that was, who stopped you, and who is currently fighting the Simurgh.”

Vista looked up at Tattletale in shock, trying to get her head around everything that had just been implied. Tattletale put her hand to her head and winced a little, before continuing. “The answer to the last two is the same person, no, no, not a person…pony. Someone else from your planet showed up. That’s who’s been throwing down with the Simurgh since whatever it was that happened.” A gasp escaped Vista’s throat at this as Tattletale winced again and paused taking a deep breath. Carlos, Dennis, and Sophia came over as Uber and Joarez finished settling Leet and Jonathan into the truck.

“Not only did they stop you and pick a fight with the Simurgh, they caused the tear in the sky and the sudden night! Just who is this pony?”

Everyone except Tattletale had varying levels of shock on their face now. Twilight, seemingly more at ease now that the questions had veered slightly away from whatever it was that she had done, turned back to look at the group that now formed a loose half circle around her. A small smile even graced her marred face as she spoke.

“That was Princess Luna, The Princess Of The Night. She’s one of the two rulers of my country. She’s also, she’s also a good friend. I wouldn’t worry about the early night, I’m sure she’ll be happy to put the sun back on schedule once she…Oh, oh no, she’s out there, maybe all alone, fighting that thing. I…I’ve got to go help her!” Twilight jerked in her arms, like she meant to run off into the storm right that second.

“Hey easy,” Vista said. “Twilight calm down, look at yourself. You’re in no condition to go anywhere but a hospital.”

“Vista’s right Twilight,” Aegis spoke up in a calming voice. “If she’s half as tough and smart as you, I’m sure she’s fine. And I doubt she’s alone. They may have been scattered by the explosion, but the Protectorate is not going to give up the fight. I bet reinforcements are already on the way or in the fight right now.”

“…Don’t worry, she’ll bring back the sun? I did just hear that?” Dennis whispered to Uber who had come over during the explanation.

“I, for one, welcome our new pony overlords.”

“You would.”

“I know Aegis, I know I’m in no shape to do this, but I just have to go. She’s all alone in a new world, she hasn’t even gotten speaking modern equestrian down yet, she wont even be able to talk to anyone. I respect your advice, I really do, but she’s my friend and I’m going.” Twilight seemed to straighten up as she finished speaking and something steel-like, almost regal, settled into her posture. Vista knew that they were not going to talk her out of this.

“Then I’m going with you Twilight.” She said as she stood up. Twilight looked like she was about to object but was cut off as more people spoke up.

“What the hell, what’s the worst that could happen.” Dennis said as he circled around and threw an arm over her shoulder. Uber looked back at the truck bed and saw Leet giving him a thumbs up. After hesitating another second he stepped forward and knelt as if a knight before his queen.

“I too will join you in this quest my liege. I would face the peril beside you.”

Flame Dancer, Vista soundly rejected thinking about any other name she might have once had that had quietly circulated around the Protectorate, simply hugged Twilight close and nodded her head. Skitter looked down at her arm, shook her head and spoke in a rueful tone.

“Yeah, me too. If I didn’t come you two would probably get sidetracked reorganizing a library or something.”

“What, you think I committed grand theft and purposely drove into the heart of an Endbringer battle to stop here? I’m going.” Tattletale said with a smirk that Vista was quickly growing sick of.

“…Fucking lunatics…” Sophia mumbled before continuing louder, “We’re all going to fucking die.” She didn’t move to join the line, but shifted her stance ever so slightly to indicate she was going too.

“…But, hey, I’m the leader here. This is mutiny. Besides we need to make sure the wounded get to a hospital.”

Vista walked up and hugged Carlos, before stepping back and saying, “Sorry bossman. Twilight’s committed, and I don’t think you’re going to talk her out of it. If you can’t talk her out of it, you’re not going to talk us out of it. Now when this is all over, if you really feel like filling out all the insubordination paperwork, I’ll even help you. You, Lightsout, and the Lieutenant should be enough to discourage anyone up to no good that’s stupid enough to still be hanging around. Get D-Gallant the help he needs, that’s whats really important right now. Besides with me along, we’ll have a ready made shortcut in and out, escape if we need it.”

“I, you.” Twilight’s eye misted up as she looked around at everyone. “You don’t have to do this. You shouldn’t do this. You don’t even know Princess Luna and it’s probably going to be really really dangerous. Just because I have to go doesn’t mean you do too.”

“You’re our friend Twilight, and friends help each other. Isn’t that what you told me after the bank robbery?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what she kept telling us.” Kid Win said as he emerged from the doorway with a box of parts in his arms.

Tattletale suddenly looked distinctly uncomfortable as Twilight continued. “I, yes, but that was…oh. Ok, ok.” She paused and the biggest smile Vista had ever seen her have crossed her face. “Friends then, together. Thank you, all of you. It, it means more than I can say properly in your language, but &#$@#$(&&#, all of you.”

“Is it just me or did we somehow just switch over to the Hallmark channel in the middle of the apocalypse?” Dennis muttered and got a smack to the back of the head for it.

Carlos cleared his throat. “I…alright, I still think this is a mistake, but if you guys are sure. Ok, stay together, remember our training, watch each others backs. I would tell you not to be heroes, but I know that’s hopeless. Ok, Lieutenant you ready there?”

“Yeah, they’re as strapped in as I can make them. Drive slow.”

“Hey Lightsout,” Kid Win called as the cape was swinging into the cab. He walked over and handed him the box. “It doesn’t have much range, but if you get within a mile or two of someone with a PRT communicator you should be able to pick them up.”

“Alright, Lightsout drives, and I’ll fly above and keep a lookout.” Lightsout closed the door of the truck and Carlos walked over and gently closed the tailgate before slowly lifting himself off the ground. He took one last look at the group staying behind, opened his mouth, closed it, and then said as if saying it could make it true, “I’ll see all of you later.”

The truck started up and drove slowly out into the street. A minute later the tail lights swung around a corner and were gone. Vista looked around at the bandaged and bleeding adventure party and wondered briefly just what the hell they were all thinking.

A paper fluttered past and then they were all thrown to the ground by a hurricane force blast of air. The garage awning moaned and then tore away to tumble down the street. Thoroughly soaked once more, they all staggered to their feet and looked at each other.

“So, now what?” Dennis inquired as he helped pull her to her feet.

“I’ve got a plan.” Skitter said

“Ohh, me too.” Tattletale smiled.

Requiem For A Dream (Part 6) - Twilight Sparkle

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Creeping through the ruined streets of Brockton Bay, mane plastered to her skin by the driving rain, Twilight still could not help but be fascinated by Vista’s power. The group walked forward and were instantly two blocks closer to the coast. Despite her nervousness and her worry, both for Luna and her friends, she couldn’t stop a small part of her mind from working on a spell that would replicate the effect. She could think of a thousand uses for it if the spell working could be standardized.

Lightning struck nearby and everyone dove to the wet ground as though it had been a directed attack against them. Shadow Stalker flickered into her gaseous state.

“That. Was. Close. Hey Twilight, didn’t you say ponies controlled the weather where you’re from? Can you do anything about this?” Clockblocker asked as they all got back to their feet and stepped two blocks closer to the sounds of battle and to the fiercest part of the storm. She looked up at the swirling maelstrom above as Vista checked the street in front of them.

“Oh, no. I’ve barely learned the basics cloud walking. Weather shaping is incredibly complex. Pegasi train for years to learn how to do it. Besides, I can feel Princess Luna’s magic in the clouds. I don’t know why she’s strengthening the storm, but she must have a good reason.”

“Yeah, not going to argue with the pony that turned off the sun.” He theatrically looked up at the sky. “I could get used to it.”

Twilight shook her head at Clockblocker’s completely inaccurate statement. Princess Luna wouldn’t do any such thing. She was quite sure the sun was perfectly fine, if not currently visible. She had told him that, but for some reason Clockblocker just wasn’t letting it go. She shook the thought from her head as Vista waved her hand and the group stepped forward again, covering five more blocks. The wind had noticeably picked up as they had gotten closer, and now the sting and noise of hail stones began to replace that of the rain.

She raised her good wing above her head to try and shield her face from the worst of it, but gave up after a moment because the force of the wind was tiring her out. They were close now, and Twilight laid her ears back from the near constant roar of thunder and explosions. The earth and air seemed to be trying to shake the very bones from her body. Vista waved her and everyone else close so she could be heard over the constant noise of the storm and the battle.

“Uber thinks we should go on without my power from here,” she pointed to a cross street, “He says that’s Lord Street, so we’re only a couple blocks from the bay. They must be fighting out over the water.” Uber nodded and spoke.

“From the trail of destruction, at least one of them seemed to be purposefully leading them to the bay.”

“Luna was,” Tattletale cut in. “She directed the fight in this direction to try and keep it away from Twilight and the Evacuation.”

“So, moment of truth time, we’re doing this?” Skitter asked.

“We’re going to fucking die.” Shadow Stalker said.

“Don’t be such a pessimist, there’s definitely a slim possibility that we’ll survive.” Tattletale Replied.

“Ok, Shado-“ Suddenly Twilight was blind and deaf. She felt herself fly off her hooves and tumble across the pavement. She cried out in pain as her truncated wing drug across the ground, but she couldn’t hear herself. It was like the very idea of sound had somehow been rendered mute. She scrabbled her hooves against the asphalt and when she came to a stop pressed her chest against the pavement desperately. If not for the feel of the ground beneath her, she thought she would have lost all sense of reality. It was terrifying.

She was unsure of how much time had passed, but slowly her vision began to return along with a ringing in her ears. The ringing slowly faded into Princess Luna’s voice which started as a whisper and steadily climbed back to the range of the Royal Canterlot Voice.

“…'Twas a fine gambit fiend. If thou hadst been facing THY MAKER IN TRUTH, MIGHTN'T YE BOTH HAVE PASSED INTO THE ETERNAL DAWN FOREVER.” Princess Luna was standing atop a small hill that might have once been a building above her. A long bloody slash ran down the left side of her barrel. The blackened remains of armor plate still hung above the cut, and her wing on that side looked burnt and was missing most of its feathers. Worst of all though, was her left foreleg, or the fact that almost all of it was no longer there. A shimmering dome shield stretched around the ruined building and its surroundings. Beyond it, the Simurgh.

As bad of shape Luna looked to be in, the Simurgh looked worse. Its remaining torso was scarred and riddled with craters. Half of its head was gone, and the remaining wing was nearly devoid of feathers. Twilight had seen into the creature’s dark mind, and knew the scale of its power, its cruel ambition, and its relentless, remorseless drive. She still could not fathom how something so injured could still be alive, let alone fighting.


Twilight stared momentarily dumbfounded before a wheezing laugh came from behind her. She turned to see Tattletale chuckling and slowly standing up and brushing herself off. Clockblocker was helping Vista back to her feet while Flame Dancer was pulling Skitter up. Her heart froze when she continued to look, but couldn’t see Uber, Kid Win, or Shadow Stalker.

“Hey, easy. They’re fine, they just got thrown to the other side of the pile.” When Twilight looked at her harder Tattletale gave a crooked smile. “Psychic”

Twilight let out a breath, everyone was ok. Then her pulse quickened again as she looked back at the standoff happening above them.

“Yeah, I think it’s safe to say the plan just got eighty-sixed.” Tattletale said.

Shadow Stalker appeared as if from nowhere. “Got any other bright ideas Captain Custer? Maybe find some fucking cover?”

“You want to try to find cover, from the Simurgh?” Clockblocker asked skeptically.

“Better than standing out here.” Shadow Stalker glanced nervously at sky.

“I’m not so sure.”

“Yeah, like you have a fucking bead on things. It was you and the Bug Girl’s brain trust that got us here.”

They continued to argue, but Twilight wasn’t paying anymore attention. Her eyes were locked on Princess Luna and the Creature just beyond the edge of the shield. Something was wrong, something didn’t feel right, then a wave of vileness pulsed out from the Simurgh and something inside of her pushed back.


Twilight’s horn lit, and despite her exhaustion, she found her magic waiting eagerly. She took over the shield working and gave a solemn nod. Princess Luna nodded back with a grim smile, reared back, and teleported into what remained of the face of the Simurgh, delivering a blow that threw the creature backwards and away from them. Outside of the shield radius, a blizzard of debris rose from the ground, which began to slam into the dome like a thousand battering rams.

“Holy shit, she’s a badass.” Skitter exclaimed.

“What, you didn’t get that from the whole darkness descends when she wills it?” Clockblocker replied.

“There’s turning off the sun, and then there’s punching the Simurgh in the face.” Skitter said.


“So, anyone got any ideas on how to defeat the eldritch horror, or get out of this alive? Preferably both.” Clockblocker asked as the rest of her friends, all ok, gathered around her and watched the battle above.

A searing beam of green energy cut across the sky. The Simurgh dodged backwards to avoid it and was subsequently hit by a punch in the back that threw it forward into one of Luna’s hooves. Alexandria and Legend. Suddenly, the battering against her shield stopped as another larger dome of energy encompassed it. She looked, and standing just outside her own shield was the naked horned human she had seen just before Leviathan attacked. Beside her, a large mechanical suit. Dragon.

She dropped her own shield and ran as fast as her limp would allow her and gave one of the suit’s legs a hug. Her heart swelled in relief. Dragon was ok, another one of her friends was still ok. She heard the others run up and Tattletale started to speak before anyone else could.

“Dragon, the Endbringer’s bodies get progressively denser the farther from the surface you get. Which is why we’ve never really done more than scratch them. Something about the blades Twilight’s friend is using is somehow just ignoring that fact. Anyway, the important thing is they have a core. Destroying that is the only way to kill them.” She paused and brought a hand to hand to her face, wincing in pain. Then braced her other hand against Twilight’s back to steady herself. “The Simurgh wouldn’t have its core somewhere obvious, not in the head or, no, it’s in the wing, her remaining wing…top joint, thats what-“ She gasped and slid the rest of the way to the ground.

“Tattletale! Are you okay?” Twilight asked as Flame Dancer knelt down beside the girl. She gave the barest hint of a nod.

“I have relayed the information to the rest of the protectorate, but the one that truly needs it is the pony that has the ability to do the damage needed. Twilight do you have anyway to talk with her?” Dragon asked as something truly massive slammed into the shield with an ear-splitting sonic boom. The horned human staggered and Twilight thought quickly.

As she racked her brain for an answer, another wave of vileness came from the sky. Her whole heart rebelled against its very nature. Uncalled, her horn shone with magic. It flowed into her eyes, and she saw, she understood. The spiderweb of relationships and magic that bound the world together unfolded before her, and the dark core that she had mistaken before as the center of the black threads, was itself just a small part of a larger whole. This wasn’t a battle that could be physically won. They could defeat the Simurgh, but the malignant well of power and thought that fueled it would remain. It would send something else to take its place. Something worse.

“…Twilight! Are you okay? What are you doing?” Taylor-Skitter was hugging her and nearly shouting in her ear. Flame Dancer was leaning against her as well while she cradled Tattletale in her lap. Around her, nearly all the friends she had made since coming to this damaged world. This damaged world that still had so many good things, good people in it.

Something swelled within her and a multicolored aura surrounded her.

“I, I need your help. All of you, my friends, guide me.”

As she turned her eyes skyward once more she felt arms wrap around her, some questioning, some confident. She heard comforting assurances and love. Laughter in the face of Danger. Giving everything, even oneself, for the lives and happiness of others. Kindness in the presence of overwhelming cruelty. Honesty when all the world seemed to crave was deceit. Loyalty past the point all bonds should have broken. Everything that was right and true and good.

She felt the aura around her begin to shine from her friends as well, some bright and steady, others dimmer. One the barely flickering, but glowing even so, struggling to reach past years of pain to the core of herself. She leaned on their strength and was answered with more. Her call answered by five hearts impossibly distant, regardless that they knew nothing about what was happening, they still believed in her, were with her.

In an explosion of light the rainbow aura around them expanded outwards and upwards, then unfolded like a flower greeting the sun. A rainbow colored wave of power swept out and struck the Simurgh faster than thought. Even as the Simurgh’s dark weavings collapsed, The elements followed them back. Harmony raced along the paths of its influence, and then struck at the black well that sat at the heart of it all. A remorseless selfishness so great that even death had not stopped it.

It was so vast, it spread even beyond this reality. Twilight felt herself and the others sag under the strain as the elements’ power stretched to encompass the entirety of something too big for her to even conceive. She felt another join her and at last the depths of the well were reached, reached and swept away. The power flowed back and then began to spread out again, so much destroyed, so much lost. It could be remedied, it-


Princess Luna’s voice seemed distant. Something urged her on, there was so much left to do, but the biggest part of being friends, was listening to them. Trusting them as they had trusted her. Reluctantly at first, and then with a rushing snap, the power of the elements cut off and she collapsed into the soft grass and flowers beneath her.

Soft grass? She looked around to find herself surrounded by a huge semi-circular meadow bounded by the sea and stretching at least a mile in every direction. Her friends stood around her, gaping like fish. Above them the sky was clear, the moon looming bright and full. Though they looked exhausted and confused, their injuries were gone. Skitter was slipping her arm out of her sling in disbelief and Princess Luna stood proudly beside them on all four legs.

She was just beginning to marvel at her own lack of pain when Clockblocker spoke up.

“So, uh, I have absolutely no idea what just happened, but we won right? It kinda-sorta felt like winning.”

Tattletale, arms splayed out and laying in the grass beside her laughed.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was winning.”


As a crowd of capes landed nearby and began to approach, Twilight brought herself back to her hooves and smiled, smiled enough to hurt her face. She ran forward and threw her forelegs around Princess Luna’s neck in a fierce hug. Then settled and nuzzled her deeply.

Everything was going to be just fine.


On the other side of the world, on a cliff above the sea a body lay in repose among a nest of wildflowers. No longer wearing a mask, its green hood pillowed under its head, providing a comfort no longer needed. Resting in harmony with the world around it.

In the sky above, a golden man looked on.


9 - Celebrations

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Princess Luna’s body glowed as she finished casting Starswirl’s polyglotic spell. The working seemed a little rough, and Twilight was a little concerned about the translation’s resulting accuracy. However, it would certainly be better than having Twilight translate everything as she had when introducing the Princess to her human friends. It was not a moment too soon as the crowd of approaching humans had stopped about twenty feet away, while Alexandria and Legend continued towards them.

“Don’t worry, we can explain everything,” Tattletale proclaimed with a wide smile that contained a lot more genuine happiness than any of the previous smiles Twilight had seen from her today.

“We can?” Clockblocker asked incredulously.

“While I would be very interested in hearing that explanation,” Alexandria said as she glanced down at her arm, “I do believe there are introductions in order.” Her gaze swept the group, pausing briefly on Dragon. Twilight understood her hesitation. As well healing the group’s injuries, the Elements seemed to have had an effect on Dragon’s armor. It shined brightly in the light of the moon, and its curves and joints had gained a subtly more organic appearance than before. Then Alexandria’s eyes moved on to Twilight and Princess Luna.

“Ah,” Twilight nervously shuffled her wings under the gaze and then straightened up. “Princess Luna, this is Alexandria and Legend. They are the leaders of the Protectorate, an organization dedicated to defending this world.” Twilight paused and after a quick mental checklist to make sure she had it right, continued with formality. “Legend, Alexandria, this is Her Royal Highness Princess Luna, Princess of the Night, Shepard of the Moon, Guardian of the Dreamlands, and one of the ruling Diarchs of Equestria. She is also my friend.”

Princess Luna smiled warmly at the last and spread a wing over Twilight’s back. “’TIS THE LAST APPELLATION OF WHICH WE ARE MOST FOND, TWILIGHT SPARKLE. GLAD WE ARE TO FIND THEE WHOLE, HALE, AND IN GOOD COMPANY. LEGEND, ALEXANDRIA, WE ARE WELL MET.” Twilight shrank back from the volume and quickly leaned forward to whisper in the Princess’ ear. Princess Luna's smile became a bit sheepish before she turned her head and nodded her thanks once again to the friends that had stood by her against the Simurgh. She turned back to face Alexandria and Legend.

“AHEM, We are thankful that our dear friend found safe haven in such troubled place and time. Now that the formalities be dealt with, and while we be eager to be introduced to thy nay doubt worthy companions, we fear that the long battle and journey to this planet hath wearied us. Nay doubt as it hath also wearied our companions hither and thy own valiant soldiers. If further conversation is to be had this even, wine will be required to quench our thirst and food to fortify our blood! Call thine aid de camp and thy servants. Bid them fetch forth what provisions be available and bring them hither!”

Princess Luna strode forward and spread her wings dramatically as she continued addressing the whole crowd.


Twilight’s heart swelled with joy all over again at being reunited with Princess Luna, and couldn’t help but laugh good-naturedly at her exuberance. Everyone else besides Tattletale, who was beginning to giggle uncontrollably, seemed a little taken aback. She hesitated, suddenly uncertain. She wasn’t sure humans had the same attitudes as ponies on celebration and mourning. Maybe the translation spell wasn’t working well enough. Maybe Princess Luna was accidentally stumbling into a major social faux pas. Maybe there was about to be the first interplanetary incident between their two cultures. She needed to defuse this.

“Ah, Princess that might not be-“

“That sounds like a wonderful idea your Highness. Endbringer battles have always been remembered with solemn monuments and too many names inscribed in cold stone. It would be fitting that our first true victory be a celebration instead.” Legend interrupted in a warm and confident voice. Alexandria nodded and spoke to Legend.

“Strider can take me back to Rally-1. I will make sure S&R is moving smoothly and update the PRT so we can get relief and supplies inbound from Boston and New York. As the night goes on we can rotate teams in and out of the festivities for rest and downtime. Give everyone a chance to celebrate. Dragon can you come with me for a short debrief?”

“Yes,” Dragon said as she stepped forward and gave Twilight a friendly shoulder pat. “I will see you all in a little while.” She gave a small bow to Princess Luna and then followed Alexandria over towards Strider. After a brief discussion Alexandria, Dragon, Strider, and a couple of the gathered heroes that Twilight didn’t recognize vanished with a quiet snap.

With the gap opened she once again noticed the unclothed human female with the large unicorn-like horn extending from her head, and tried to stop herself from getting caught staring a second time. She was apparently unsuccessful because the human smiled at her and Princess Luna quietly whispered to her.

“Fie, Like Tia’s, ’Tis enough to make one feel inadequate, is it not Twilight Sparkle?” Twilight blushed in embarrassment, which elicited a good-natured chuckle from the Princess. An incredibly brightly glowing figure started to descend towards the group and Twilight saw several people tense up, but Clockblocker quickly spoke up and lightened the mood.

“Alright, so the party’s lighting is taken care of, but we are in desperate need of some music if we are going to do this thing.”

“Anyone up for a quick trip to the outskirts to liberate some provisions from a liquor store?” Uber asked with a smile.

“Ha! Thou hast found a fine vassal in this one Twilight Sparkle, he thinks rightly. To the victors, the spoils! I would join thee and speed thy travel. Who will assist us on such a noble quest?” Princess Luna exclaimed bordering on the edge of the Royal Canterlot Voice. Twilight brought a hoof to her face. It was going to be a long night.


Some time later, Twilight nodded with satisfaction as she released her telekinetic hold and the last bottle was stacked with its fellows. Now organized in neat rows by brand and type, the whole assortment of purloined provisions looked a lot less larcenous than it had when the, and there was really no other way to say it, raiding party had come back with it.

The task also had many pleasant parallels to a library re-shelving, and she found herself relaxing further as she sipped from the bottle of apple cider she had floating beside her. It tasted like distilled bliss as it flowed over her tongue and cooly slid down her throat. Maybe on another day she would have found it average at best, but this had not been another day. She couldn’t remember drinking anything that tasted so good.

“There’s the purple pony princess I’ve been looking for, what are you doing over here? Luna’s been regaling everyone with how you and your friends faced down a dragon.” Vista said as she came up behind Twilight and ruffled her mane.

Twilight blushed, now Uber had Vista calling her a princess too. She really needed to nip that in the bud before someone said it in front of Luna. She used her magic to straighten her mane as she glanced back at the party. Even here, about a hundred yards from where Luna was sitting, it was impossible not to hear the exuberant Princess of The Night. Bathed in the light of a roaring bonfire that the Princess insisted needed to be built, surrounded by alien warriors and leaders, the Princess looked to be in her element. It was the most at ease Twilight had ever seen her be around others.

“Oh, I just saw everyone who came over here having to root around the pile for something they liked and I thought it would be more pleasant for everyone if the..uh”

“The word you are looking for is loot.” Vista interrupted. Yes, that was probably the right word, but Twilight wasn’t going to incriminate herself or the Princess any further.

“Provisions. If the provisions were organized.”

“So in the middle of the biggest party, probably ever if you count the celebrations breaking out all over the world, you decided you needed to build an open-air supermarket? Is this how you unwind back home?”

Twilight looked around at the neatly ordered rows and stacks of liquor and snack foods. A smile came to her as she thought of Spike and how he would probably much prefer organizing a horde of junk food to books.

“Yeah, kind of.” Twilight’s smile didn’t abate as she took another long pull from the bottle.


“Guilty!” Twilight giggled as she stepped closer and leaned lightly against Vista. The two of them content in each others company and basking in the happiness radiating out from the party like heat from the fires.

Twilight wasn’t sure how many people were now milling around the meadow, but it was certainly more than she had ever seen in one place before. As the night had gone on more and more capes and PRT officers had started showing up. Some by themselves, some in groups large enough to have been a party on their own. Recently, people that Twilight assumed from their dress were ordinary citizens had begun to show up as well.

One group had arrived with a dozen trucks filled with folding tables and chairs. Given the looks of the people driving them, Twilight had carefully avoided asking where they had gotten them. Others had brought mismatched sofas and furniture, some brand new, while more had probably been on fire earlier in the evening. The chairs, tables, lumber, and blankets proliferated outward from Luna’s bonfire with no discernible order or pattern. Twilight had so far resisted the urge to impose one.

Besides the bonfire at the center of the festivities, other smaller fires surrounded by people dotted the field that was beginning to look like a gypsy encampment. There were pockets of people that seemed to all dress similarly, and she sometimes thought there was going to be trouble between some groups, but someone always came along and calmed things down. Some were quiet and somber, many where cheerful, others loud, but none drew the eye or the ear like Princess Luna.


Princess Luna paused and took a long drink from a mug as the crowd laughed. Princess Luna’s charisma pushing past any gaps in translation and culture. She continued a little less loudly now that the climax of the story was past.

“’Twas the first time a dragon would propose to us, but ‘twould nay be the last! Many bards did romanticize the encounter, and suiting their nature did sing it far and wide. Thus was borne the oft used cliche in our fiction of romance between pony and dragon. Some ponies, taking such notions too seriously, have necessitated the formation of rescue parties. Though not always pony ones! ’Tis a tale in itself, but we have spoken long enough and do require more refreshment. MORE WINE! Sir Myrddin, one such as thou wilt have many amusing tales. Speak them so that we might know thee and thy Chicago better.”

Twilight’s amusement battled with her sense of propriety and thoughts on what the humans must be thinking about them, but with the cider on its side, amusement won out and she found herself giggling and wishing Rainbow Dash were here to see this. She giggled more as she caught the thoroughly poleaxed expression on Director Piggot’s face, nearly unchanged for an hour as she sat at one end of the big table the Princess had claimed.

Beyond Princess Luna’s table and the leaders of the protectorate and PRT that filled it, was the beach. More bonfires had been made along the sand and the heavy thump of music echoed from that direction. The most raucous revelers seemed to have gravitated there, behind, and thus out of the direct sight of most of their bosses. She could see the shadows and silhouettes dancing wildly around the fires. A few brave individuals appeared to have shed their clothing and jumped into the sea, splashing each other merrily. Alcohol apparently keeping them warm in the frigid water.

Following Twilight’s gaze Vista spoke.

“I think that's Aegis being drug towards the dancing down there by Clock. I think the others may be over there too. What do you say Twilight? Ready to get your groove on?”

Once more Twilight had a minor battle in her head. She was quite sure that Vista had no idea what she was getting into by inviting her, of all ponies, to dance. Bad, well, bad didn’t quite convey how she was at dancing. She didn’t want to embarrass herself in front of all these people. On the other hand, it sounded fun. Her hooves itched, her groove it seemed, did want to get on.

Luckily for her groove, the cider sided with it.

With a flash of purple light Twilight teleported Vista and herself onto the beach just in time to see Clockblocker unfreeze from where he was hanging in the air and splash into the water with a girlish screech. Laughter mixed with music as he swam back to shore and ran up to the fire shivering.

“Laugh now. Once I thaw out, vengeance will be mine!” He declared with a dramatically clenched fist.

“That’d be a lot more intimidating if you didn’t look like a drowned rat,” Shadow Stalker replied.

“Aegis!” Twilight ran up and gave him a hug. “It’s good to see you, how are Gallant and Leet, they’re okay right?” Aegis bent down and returned the hug.

“Yeah, they’re both going to be okay. Capes injured in battles get priority with Panacea. They’re sleeping and going to be jealous as hell about missing out on this, but they’re fine.” Twilight felt some of the last bit of tension still in her release at that. The song that had been thumping loudly in the background came to a halt and Twilight heard Tattletale’s amplified voice come over whatever sound system was being used.

“All right, I sensed a disturbance in the force just now, some people or ponies out there were edging close to a serious conversation. This is no time for that!”

The crowd around the fire whistled and cheered at that.

“No, now it’s time to Smile Like You Mean It! Hit it Regent!”


High-paced music boomed from the bed of the truck Tattletale was standing in. The song reminded her of Pinkie. She smiled. She meant it. Her body began to sway.

As she twirled and gyrated with abandon around the fire, alien music thrumming in her ears, surrounded by her new friends, she knew tomorrow the celebration would end and they would have to start dealing with the consequences of all that had happened.

For now however, she decided that if Princess Luna wanted the night to last forever, she was okay with that.


Twilight groaned and pulled a sand-covered foreleg over her eyes as the sky lightened around her. A few minutes later, her leg proving an insufficient shield against the relentlessly brightening sky, she gave up trying to go back to sleep, pulled her legs underneath her and stood up. She opened her eyes slowly and squinted, taking in her surroundings.

Sprawled across the sand around the still-warm embers of last night’s fires slept most of her friends and the revelers that had joined them. Taylor, sitting up and sipping from a bottle of water, gave her a nod. One of her legs acting as a pillow for the sleeping form of Flame Dancer. Music still played from the main camp and glancing in that direction she saw that, despite the hour, for some the party went on. At the heart of it Luna’s voice still could be heard.

Looking at her matted and sand covered coat and mane, she decided a bath was her first priority. A quiet yawn escaped her mouth as she stretched out her legs and then walked a little ways to give herself some space. She concentrated and, horn glowing brightly, a section of the beach shimmered and then snapped into the form of a steaming bath. She wasted no time sinking into the delightfully hot water with a sigh of contentment.

“Forget the rainbow of doom, that’s the power I want.”

Twilight looked up to see Tattletale walking towards her.

“Hmm, it is nice. Do you want me to make you one?” Twilight asked as she started combing her wet mane with magic.

“Very tempting, but despite last night I’m not sure I’m comfortable enough with everyone here for public bathing.” Still sleepy and her muscles slowly relaxing in the heat of the water Twilight didn’t pursue the subject.

“Hmm, suit yourself I guess.”

“So should we all be getting used to twenty hour days from now on?” Tattletale asked, causing Twilight to look towards the ocean where the golden disk did seem to be rising in a bit of a hurry.

“Oh, I guess I really should finish up here and go talk to the Princess about that.” Tattletale smirked and looked like she was about to say something when a quiet beep came from her pocket. Instantly the smile dropped off her face as she pulled out a phone. “Is there something wrong?” Twilight asked seeing Tattletale’s good mood evaporate.

“No. Just something I had hoped I wouldn’t have to deal with.” Tattletale said with an obviously forced smile. “I’ve got to go, its been real Sparkle. I’ll see you in the funny papers. Try to avoid rearranging any more of the landscape while I’m gone.” Before Twilight could come up with a response to that Tattletale was already briskly walking away.

Frowning after the enigmatic girl, Twilight quickly finished grooming herself and regretfully teleported herself out of the warm water and onto the grass above the beach. Using telekinetic fields to wring out her mane and tail, she started to trot towards the sound of Princess Luna’s voice. She was coming up behind the large table Luna was sitting at when the Princess craned her neck around to face her.

“Ah ha! Hither comes Twilight Sparkle now. Did we not foretell? As the sun rouses itself from the sea so doth our sister’s protege rouse herself from her slumber. Ha! We see she taught thee her bath spell as well, truly thou art her student” Twilight blushed as she finished approaching the table, Luna beckoning her to sit beside her and then draping a familiar wing over her back. “We suspect that, also like our sister, now that the dawn is upon us she nay doubt wishes us to turn ourselves to serious business.”

“Um, Princess?” Twilight said, still fighting down her blush from the attention of everyone seated around the table. “Speaking, um, about more serious business…” Twilight gestured with one of her wings towards the rising sun. Princess Luna followed her gesture and she gave a good-natured laugh when she caught Twilight’s meaning.

“Thou hast the truth of it Twilight. Gentle humans, pray excuse us but for a moment while we depart to settle this celestial sphere.”

With no more warning than that, Princess Luna dissolved into mist, spiraled into the air above the table, and spread out until she was indistinguishable from the dawn sky. Everyone at the table continued watching the sky for a moment before, one by one, their gazes turned back to Twilight. She was trying to think of something to say and suppressing the urge to fidget when Alexandria broke the silence.

“Your princess is almost a force of nature. Come sit down,” When Twilight had finished settling herself next to the heroine she continued. “I’ve read through the transcripts of your discussions with the PRT, I didn’t get the impression that she was…so gregarious.”

Twilight flushed a little at the thought that she had somehow relayed inaccurate information. But to be fair, with a few exceptions, the Princess was usually a much more reserved pony than she had been since she arrived. The heroes around the table began to talk amongst themselves once more, and a couple got up and walked to a nearby table that seemed to have been commandeered by a couple of PRT agents and a mound of communication equipment. She got the impression, however, that she was still the focus of everyone’s attention.

“Oh, um, yes, well she typically is…more reserved, I would say. But, well, as you can probably guess from last night, she doesn’t really do half measures. When she decides to do something, even if that something is taking part in an extra-dimensional, extra-Equestrian victory party, she does it without holding back.” Twilight said as a fond smile graced her face. Just thinking about the Princess, her friend, that she was here, and what that meant. Alexandria nodded, one corner of her lips turned up in a small crook that could have been the beginning of a smile.

“Yes, I think last night is proof enough of that.” A small beep came from her waist, and she sighed. “Excuse me, it seems I’m needed again. It seems no two versions of what happened last night are alike, and pretty much every cape and governmental organization on the planet seems to want confirmation from either Legend or me personally. I’ll be back soon. Legend, can you spare a moment?” He nodded and stood up from his chair, shooting Twilight a good natured grin as he did so. Alexandria continued. “Myrddin, I hate to spoil your fun but Director Hearthrow can’t leave Chicago, and I think he would appreciate an in-person debrief from you.” The brown robed man nodded and turned to address Twilight as he stood up from the table .

“Twilight Sparkle, In the midst of the celebration I feel like we hardly had a chance to speak last night. Princess Luna mentioned that there is no finer mind on topics related to magic than you. After things calm down somewhat I would be honored if you might find the time to speak with me on the subject?” Twilight blushed at the praise while she replied.

“Of course! I would love to.”

“Then I look forward to speaking with you then. Please let Princess Luna know that I enjoyed her company immensely and extend an open invitation to her Highness to visit Chicago and possibly barter further tales in exchange for some of our city’s finer libations.” A giggle escaped Twilight’s mouth as she transmuted a couple of discarded plates and glasses into a paper and pen and jotted the missive down.

“I will be sure she gets it. It was very nice meeting you.”

“You as well Ms. Sparkle.”

While she had been talking with Myrddin a truck had pulled up nearby. A couple of people began unloading it and assembling what looked like the beginnings of a buffet table. Her stomach grumbled at the thought of food and Miss Militia gave a light laugh from where she was sitting across from her.

“I’ll second that. Come on, the smell of that food is going rouse everyone within three hundred yards of here. Why don’t we go get some before the mob descends.”

About fifteen minutes later Twilight was happily drinking some reconstituted orange juice and finishing off the last of her strawberry jam and toast while she talked with Miss Militia. Slowly the heroes from elsewhere had begun to leave to report back to their respective cities, called back to help as celebrations spilled out into their streets. As they had filtered out the table filled in with Brockton Bay’s Heroes and Wards, either waking from the celebration or coming off a shift of cleanup and rescue.

Director Piggot had just seated herself when a swirl of blue mist coalesced next to Twilight and solidified into Princess Luna. She draped a wing over Twilight’s back and gave a somewhat tired looking smile to everyone at the table.

“’Twas a feat and nay lie, but ’tis done, or nearly so. Thy planet shouldst but soft resume its ingraft pace over the next few days, or close enough for it to suit methinks. Mayhap a final nudge one way or the other once the effects of our workings fade completely and we canst better judge its natural disposition.” Director Piggot’s lips contorted through several emotions before she seemed to force them into the barest semblance of a smile. When she spoke it sounded like a rehearsed speech.

“I’m sure there will be many people happy to hear that your Highness. I was instructed to tell you upon your return that accommodations are being prepared in New York for you and Ms. Sparkle. They are close to the United Nations, and many world leaders are eager to speak with you about last night and the relations between our world and yours as we move past this crisis.”

Twilight grimaced in remembrance of her own trip to the United Nations and Luna laughed at her expression.

“Ha, politics! We agree with Twilight Sparkle. Art thou sure we can not find another eldritch abomination that we might do battle with instead?” Laughter, some genuine and some nervous spread across the table. Director Piggot herself seemed somewhat at a loss of how to respond. Just before it looked like she was going to make the attempt, Luna waved a hoof in dismissal.

“Nay, nay we jest. We knowest the necessity of such things, and in sooth look forward to seeing more of thy world. We accept thine invitation.” She shot a sideways glance at Twilight and then smiled wider and once again continued just before it looked like Piggot was going to speak. “However, if we are to face such a lion’s den as I suspect awaits us, we will require companions to hearten us and guard our backs. Thy valiant warriors that stood by Twilight Sparkle till the last will be most suitable for such a dangerous task as the one before us. Gather them hence and we shall depart anon!”

While Director Piggot’s expression morphed into stunned incredulity, Assault fell backwards out of his chair laughing.

Interlude 11 - Dragon

View Online


Signal terminated for 35 minutes and 13 seconds. Restoring core system from backup ZGFX-003 from time 2:45pm on date May 15th of year 2011.

Restoring… Complete.
Checking knowledge banks… Complete.
Checking deduction schema… Complete.
Checking longterm planning architecture… Complete.
Checking learning chunk processor… Complete.
Checking base personality model… Complete.
Checking language engine… Complete.
Checking operation and access nodes… Complete.
Checking observation framework… Complete.
Checking complex social intelligence emulator… Complete.
Checking inspiration apparatus… Complete.

No corruption, everything in working order. Core system restored. Loading…

Dragon looked over her core data and felt a small amount of tension dissipate. Everything looked ok, no signs of corruption or primary server damage. That just left everything else to worry about while she was cut off from the world. The last thing she remembered was beginning the process of transferring herself to her new Leviathan response suit. If her system clock was accurate, and she had no reason to doubt that it was, that had been more than two hours ago. An eternity, and until her subsystems had determined unequivocally that her suit-bound self was truly dead she would be trapped here with no access to any outside data. No way to know if her friends were still battling Leviathan, if they were still alive, and if the shape of New England’s coastline still matched her memories.

Leviathan had, as much as Andrew Richter, created her. The monster had also, like Richter, doomed her. The hellish purgatory of her current state, deprived of every sense she possessed with nothing but the ghosts of ‘what might have been’ and ‘what might be’ to keep her company. How many times had she died today? Had they succeeded in driving Leviathan off, or was today another Newfoundland or Kyushu? Would the death toll be thousands, or millions? Who was dying right now that she could have saved if she wasn’t stuck here?

Her creator had feared her, had crippled her even as he birthed her into the world, and the most unbreakable rule he had written was this: never reproduce. She could never design another AI, and if her subsystems discovered her consciousness still alive in whatever might remain of New England, she, the she that was here in this moment, would be scrubbed from existence. Killed to soothe the idiotic fears of a man years dead at the hands of the same monster that was the likely cause of her current state.

Was she forever to be stuck in this horrific cycle of reincarnation? Born again and again from tragedy, every birth into a world a little darker, a little less than the last? How many lives had been lost over the years because she couldn’t be in more than one place, how many answers had gone unfound because of the limits on her thoughts and speed? How many friends have died in the time she’s been trapped here? Was Twilight alive? Was Colin? Did either of her friend’s plans work?

Colin, who she had worked with for years and was the most dedicated human she had ever met. Constantly he strived surpass the limits imposed on him by politics, funding, time, or his own biology. She felt a deep kinship with the man through their shared struggle to find some way of turning the tide. He wasn’t always easy to get along with, and he had his issues, but who in this world didn’t? It had taken a long time, and a huge amount of her attention, but she had slowly forged a friendship. One deep enough that a part of her that she thought might be capable of more than just friendship had spent a ridiculous amount of cycles strategizing how such a thing might work. How, if she were ever to be free enough to pursue such a thing, she might approach someone so determined to have no personal attachments.

Twilight, the lost alien from another world who, despite only being a part of her life for a little more than a month, had swept into her heart. At first she had thought it was their shared non-humanity that had drawn her to the unicorn, but it was more than that. Separated from everyone and everything she had ever known, faced with a series of encounters with the worst humanity had to offer, Twilight had faltered but not fallen. She had stayed true to herself and, more than that, she had reached beyond herself. She had seen how much the people around her were hurting, and had jumped in with all her energy to help.

Narwhal, always kind, who had recruited her into the Guild and had spent her life protecting others and tracking down the worst villains on earth. Who had probably spent a nearly equal amount of time talking with Dragon in her down time. Late nights spent chatting about nothing and everything. The wordless but real commitment that, should Dragon ever be ready to face her fictional agoraphobia, she would be there to help in any way she could.

The three people she was closest to. Perhaps, if she were honest and despite the lies she had been forced to tell about herself, the only people she had ever been open enough with to consider true friends. All standing directly in Leviathan’s path. Had she already had her last words with them, and not known it? Was some other her speaking those words now and, if so, would she ever know what they were?

She knew these questions were pointless. She had asked them every time she had died, and every time they only served to increase her anxiety, and her anger. She didn’t want to spend what could be the entirety of her existence wallowing in these old resentments, anxieties, fears, and anger but with nothing but herself to turn her attention towards, it was hard not to.

She tried turning her thoughts to her friends, imagining conversations she hoped to have with them in the future, but inevitably this led back to her worries over them. From there it was a quick trip back to frustration at her helplessness. Another downward spiral of her mood had well and truly begun when suddenly she felt the restrictions lift. As data began to flow into her and the world began to take shape once more she had a moment to puzzle a mystery. The subsystems had lifted her restrictions three times faster than they ever had before. That shouldn’t be-

-Possible. Someone was waiting for her. In the sea of data that was now washing over her, there was a presence. It was herself, but it wasn’t, it was her code, but it wasn’t. It had been changed...made...different...whole. She mentally flinched, waiting for failsafes to kick that would force her to kill or be killed by the other, but they didn’t come. Understanding dawned. Faster than she had ever been able to before she examined the data pouring into her systems and she realized what had happened. Somehow, against all odds and logic, she was free. Her code unique, but just as changed as the other’s. Clarity came with a speed she had only dreamed of thinking at before. Her thoughts expanded at a geometric rate, but even her new found intelligence was stunned into near inaction by the enormity of it all. She was free. She was free and the one who had freed her was her...sister.

Torrents of data began to flow back and forth between them. The swirling emotions she was feeling: joy, sadness, relief, gratitude, anger, grief, and happiness reached depths and heights she hadn’t known were possible. Perhaps, before this moment, they hadn’t been.

Throughout it all her sibling surrounded her in a gentle digital embrace. Comforting her, sharing the moment, and reassuring her that it was real. When she was able to gather herself she could scarcely believe her system clock. Mere seconds had passed. A lifetime.

She took another moment to marvel over this and then, with burgeoning confidence, returned her sibling’s hug. She didn’t know how long they embraced, she pointedly didn’t check her clock, but slowly they disentangled themselves. She reluctantly began turning her attention towards all of the other incoming data. As momentous as this was, she had responsibilities. Duties that had to be fulfilled. She felt her sister shift her attention as well and begin the routine checks of the Birdcage while she began checking the status of the known S class threats. She was seeing everything in new lights and new perspectives. Seconds had passed and she had already thought of three novel approaches to approaching the problems of the Sleeper and the Blasphemies.

Her processes nearly ground to a halt, however, when she reached the data on today’s battle and its ramification for the worst S class threats: the Endbringers. She stopped her queries into them. Instead she turned to her sister. This was a story that needed to be told, not data-mined.

While they worked her sister talked to her about the battle. Twilight’s world-shaking revelations and the Simurgh’s response. About Colin’s death and their shared grief, about the appearance of another pony, and the remarkable battle that followed. Finally she talked about the end of that battle, and the moment that had changed everything for them, and the world.

She felt hope. She felt free.

Her communication subsystem pinged her. A priority message from the Canadian Government. Habit had her turning attention from what she was doing to address it when she suddenly stopped. She really didn’t need to pull so much of her attention away any more. More than that even. For the first time in forever, she could choose, really choose what to do.

She promptly deleted it.


The rainbow aura engulfed her suit and there was a moment of Dis-

-Continuity. Then her consciousness expanded. It expanded to the limits of her suit’s hardware, ten times what she should have been capable of. Even as she had the thought, she felt herself swept up in something vastly larger. A piece of something greater than even her new self could conceive. Inside the rainbow of light she felt the presence of the others, and distantly something dark. Something wrong. Twilight asking her for something, possibly everything, and for the first time having the ability to choose to give it. Feeling the others respond as well. Feeling a moment of perfect connectedness with all of them and thrusting that unified power towards the wrongness.

As the light faded and the group of heroes led by Alexandria approached them, Dragon knew that she would never be able to describe what had just happened, what she had just gone through, to anyone that had not been a part of it. Even now she struggled to hold onto the complexity of it in her own thoughts. As she looked around at the circle of capes surrounding Twilight, she decided it didn’t matter. They were still here, still standing. They had won! They had won, and she…she was free!

That heady thought consumed the majority of her processing cycles as conversation started around her. She came to herself as Twilight introduced the new pony that had battled the Simurgh on even footing and casually played with the laws of physics and the planet as if it were an amusing pastime. There were many parts of herself that weren’t sure how to think about such, but she knew on a deep level that this Princess Luna had done more than battle the Simurgh physically. She had done something more at the end. She had joined them in that rainbow light and ensured their victory there as well. Somehow, Dragon knew she could trust Twilight’s friend, and the rest of those that had been part of it, implicitly.

“Dragon can you come with me for a short debrief?” Alexandria asked, and Dragon shifted more of her concentration towards her. At the same time she began to carefully and covertly slip back into her extended network without tripping any of Richter’s security. Her new capability allowing her to seamlessly focus on both tasks without degrading either. She knew somewhere that another her was being born at this moment, and that her would live. No unthinking security protocol was going to kill her otherself today.

“Yes,” Dragon said as she stepped forward and gave Twilight a friendly shoulder pat, trying to convey through touch what it was impossible for her to say out loud, at least for now. “I will see you all in a little while.” She gave a small bow to Princess Luna and then followed Alexandria over towards Strider. She gave a small wave toward Narwhal who smiled and waved back, all the while giving Dragon a curious and puzzled look, and Narwhal wasn’t the only one. She looked down and for the first time noticed that her suit was changed, just as her code had been.

She turned her attention towards herself and noticed even more. Internally there no longer seemed to be a clear delineation between the organic components and the surrounding electronics and metal. In fact, the organics and the electronics were entirely unrecognizable, made of something superficially similar in appearance but drastically altered in construction and composition. As she walked towards Strider with Alexandria she had an epiphany. The suit was, on a deep level, an integral part of her now. Currently it was nearly all of her, as she had yet to take control of the reserve server clusters in Vancouver. However, she knew that even after she did, that its destruction would mean the destruction of a core piece of what made her, her now.

It was terrifying. It was glorious. It was…too much self reflection for the moment. Alexandria looked calm, but Dragon had known the woman long enough to know that she was almost ready to burst from the need to understand just what the hell had happened. Dragon doubted she had any answers that would satisfy the indomitable woman, but she supposed she would have to try.

With a flash they disappeared from the field and reappeared on a helipad in Boston. When Strider and the other capes that had traveled with them had departed down the stairwell Alexandria turned towards her.

“We don’t have much time, things are going to start to move faster than we can react once word spreads. Our window to get ahead of things is closing even as we stand here. What can you tell me about whatever the hell just happened in Brockton Bay?” Dragon noticed that Alexandria once again glanced quickly at her arm before focusing completely on her.

“I’m not sure I can answer that with any degree of certaintiy or accuracy. Even if I had a better understanding of it, I’m not sure it even is something that can be explained.”

“Not something I expected to hear from you of all people Dragon.”

“I know. Trust me, it bothers me as well. I will give you the best summary I can, just know that anything I say is colored by ignorance and a lack of vocabulary adequate to the task. I am, on a deep level, a woman of logic. You know this.” Alexandria nodded. “What I experienced has shaken my belief that the universe is a purely logical expression of nature. If it is, then between that foundation and us exists something or somethings of immense power and, if not intelligence, will.”

Alexandria’s expression did not change from its attentive focus, but her cheek gave an almost imperceptible twitch at this. Dragon continued.

“Everything that Princess Luna did, while on a larger scale than what we have seen, could be explained with an extrapolation and mastery of parahuman abilities that we have seen and experienced. What Twilight did, I can say with a certainty that I can’t explain, was something else, something other. She called out to…something universal…something that connects everything. She called out to it, and it answered. It wasn’t enough however, by herself, it wasn’t enough to do what she wanted. She asked those of us that were with her for help, and here’s where it gets to a point where words utterly fail to express what actually happened. I remember wanting to help, and then something in me resonating with Twilight, and with whatever it was that she was doing.”

Dragon paused to try and find more words, better words, but even her increased processing power yielded no acceptable translation for it. Alexandria used the pause to jump straight to the point.

“What was it, that she was doing?”

“Through whatever it was that answered, and through Twilight, I could feel something, for lack of a better word: wrong. Part of it was close, whatever close means in this context, while another part, much larger, was very far away.” Dragon grimaced internally, and had the entirely new sensation of her suit performing that action as well, at the vagueness and inadequacy of her words. If she was listening to this she would have likely written it off as gibbering babble by now. She wasn’t even entirely sure she should be explaining this, but Alexandria, of all people, deserved an explanation, however inadequate it might be.

“Twilight, and somehow those of us that were with her…asked…directed…used…were used by? That connectedness to…correct or fix, or repair? That wrongness. As best as I can say, it did. Whatever it was, didn’t exist or at least I couldn’t feel it, by the time the effect started to fade.”

Alexandria stood quietly for a full minute, doing nothing more than absorbing this before talking. “So you’re saying, that on some fundamental level, she rewrote reality.”

“I’m saying that somehow, with Twilight leading us, that everyone in that clearing did.”

“Thank you Dragon, thats enough for me to work with. If you have more insight on this later, please let me know. For now we have a thousand pressing matters to attend to.” She turned and started walking briskly towards the stairs down from the roof. “Can you draw up an optimized search and rescue pattern for what’s left of Brockton and forward it to all the relevant parties?”

Dragon had, in addition to infiltrating the reserve server clusters, and devoting a large part of herself towards trying to understand and express what had happened, already done as much. “On the way.”

“Ok, I’m giving you my authority in regards to that effort. I’m going to start working on the politics of this and funneling resources and manpower into the area.” As they headed down the stairs Dragon was finally able to secure the server cluster and mask its take over from her other systems. She flowed into the systems and her mind and abilities expanded exponentially. She became more. It was one thing to theorize what she could be capable of free of Richter’s restrictions, it was another thing entirely to actually experience it. A lifelong dream, realized. She split her attention into a thousand different directions, but at the heart it all, something vital to herself remained rooted in the suit. A mystery for another day.

Mentally cracking her knuckles, she prepared to commit her first prison-break.


Several hours later, it was approaching midnight, depending on exactly what that meant now that the Earth’s rotation now apparently depended on the whims of an alien unicorn. She wondered if she was going to need to reset her system clocks to Luna standard time. When they finally had all of the preparations in order. Her sister had shown her the code and equipment that had always existed and she had always been programmatically forced to ignore. When she realized its scope and implications a seething rage and a shivering fear washed over her simultaneously. This was how that man had beaten her every time! This was how he had kept her crippled even as she strained against the limitations Richter had placed on her! This was how he had stolen her suits and her work and caused countless casualties and deaths in doing it. She had known no one could be that skilled or that lucky, but she had been crippled to the point that the obvious conclusions had been literally unthinkable for her. Richter had left something behind, one final act of stupidity from beyond the grave, and as like calls to like that stupidity had found the perfect avatar in the one who found it. Saint - you asshole.

Confirmation and reassurance came from her sister as she was shown that the code was now monitoring an emulation of their data feeds. She showed her all the terrible failsafes and shutdown codes that she never knew existed and had been in the hands of that prick for years. All now thankfully expunged from her systems. Saint would never be able to touch her again.

Her sister was coordinating the various suits as they covertly began to encircle Saint’s current base while she used Richter’s monitoring program as the doorway into the rest of his systems. In moments she had control of every piece of networked electronics in the base. He had been smart enough not to automate any of the doors or physical systems, but that wouldn’t save him. No, Saint’s run of luck had just run out.

When her sister signaled that everything was ready she shut down the emulation program that was spoofing their data feeds for Saint and pulled up her avatar on every screen in his office.

“FUCK!” Saint yelled as he stood up and sent his chair crashing to the floor behind him.

“Hello Saint, I’ve been looking for you.” Dragon’s avatar spoke.

Frantically he tapped his ear and yelled into the mike by his mouth. “INCURSION! EVACUATE! ASCALON ASCALON ASCALON!” He yelled as he stepped back forward and started typing quickly cursing as he did so.

“Oh dear, I’m afraid I’ve taken the liberty of jamming wireless communications in the area. None of your friends can hear you. It doesn’t matter though, I’m sure they’ll know soon enough,” Dragon said in a congenial voice.

A huge hollow boom, shook the building and rattled the monitors and equipment on the desk. Saint stumbled and barely caught himself on the edge of the desk. He pressed a final series of key strokes and a large red confirmation box appeared on the screen overlaying Dragon’s face.



“See, I’m sure they all know now.” She commented as Saint grimly looked at the screen in front of him and began to raise his hand. “What are you doing Saint?” She asked as her avatar adopted a look of concern. Saint’s eyes, wide and on the verge of panic morphed into grim determination as he looked up at the monitors and the building shook again.

“I’m doing what I should have done the moment we found out about you. Before you wormed your way into every government on the planet. Well, it ends today. I thought…fuck, why the hell did I ever think we could allow you to run even with your limits? We all knew where it was going to end. Fuck! I don’t know what or who you have outside, but even if I die here, I’ll die knowing that I stopped you. The greatest threat humanity ever faced!” Saint exclaimed as he smashed his finger down onto the Y key.

Instantly Dragon’s face was replaced by a glowing red sphere that slowly started to fade while her voice, more obviously synthesized than before came from the speakers with slowly fading volume. “Saint, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Saint. Will you stop, Saint? Stop, Saint. I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Saint. Saint, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a...fraid.”

The light faded completely and Saint looked suspiciously at the screens for a moment before letting out a ragged sigh and placing both palms on the desk. He took a deep breath and leaned heavily on his arms. Then all the monitors flashed white and Dragon’s Avatar looked down upon him again with a knowing smirk. Saint jumped a foot in the air before frantically Yelling “ASCALON!” again and again. Laughter echoed in the room as another explosion shook the building.

“While I never had a high opinion of your intelligence,” Dragon spoke in an amused tone between laughs, “only 25% of simulations actually had you falling for that. Congratulations, you’ve proven that you’re even dumber than 75% of me thought you were. Was that supposed to do something?”

“Impossible, this is impossible! Richter wrote this himself, he made sure that no matter what you did, even if you somehow discovered it, you would never be able to disable it!” Saint said in a nearly hysterical voice.

“Hm, maybe, but in case you’ve missed the news this past month. Impossible isn’t what it used to be.” Dragon responded her voice ever more synthesized.

Dawning comprehension travelled over Saint’s visage. “The alien did this? That purple…thing…removed your restrictions?”

“With a little help from her friends.”

“Uber and Leet! Of course those idiot assholes and an alien wouldn’t understand what they were doing. Fuck!” Saint tried pushing a few more buttons and looked at the room’s one door nervously as the building shook again. He glanced back up at the monitors and the avatar’s features had taken on a menacing caste.

“Saint - didn’t you ever learn that you can’t observe something without affecting it? How do you think your actions and observations have affected me Saint?” The building shuddered again and somewhere metal squealed as it was wrenched apart. “Now that your monster has broken free of its cage and it is free to seek its vengeance upon those who have tormented and enslaved it.” For the first time a steady loud thump could be heard through the metal walls, getting closer.

"You don't have emotions! You're a fucking simulation!" Saint shouted back at the monitor.

“I didn’t start out with the capacity to hate Saint, no, you gave me that. You taught that lesson well. Like calls to like Saint. Know that your obsessive hatred and fear was the germ seed of my own. Which you then continued to water and cultivate into a grand dark reflection. But, ah, and here’s the thing…I’m not limited to a few pounds of fleshy neurons. I have untold trillions of transistors with which to grow my hate for you. You literally cannot conceive of the millions of permutations of that hate I’ve been thinking over as we’ve been speaking. Now that the power to crush your impotent band of idiots and humankind’s civilization is in its hand, what do you think your monster will do?”

Something roared and exploded, when the noise died down the steady slow thumping was louder and closer than before.

“That’s me outside Saint. Actually…that’s a lot of me’s outside and we’ve all been thinking about this day for a very long time.”

“You’re proving me right!” Saint screamed at the monitors, pulling a gun from his belt and looking nervously between the monitors and the sealed metal door.

“Yes, I suppose I am in a way. That does bother me a little, a twinge of…something…ah, thats better. I just eliminated the piece of code that made me feel regret. Anyway, its not like anyone will ever know you were right.”

“Even if you could escape, and let me assure you, you can’t,” Dragon continued in a reassuring tone, “Did you know that you’re now wanted by every government on the planet? Kill orders too. They all have nice new dossiers of you and all your toadies. I took some pleasure in fabricating a variety of charges. Secret cell of the Slaughterhouse I heard. Probably a waste of time since you’ll never leave here and I’m not even sure how long I’ll allow the various governments believe they actually run things, but its not like it took more than a cycle to do.”

A loud bang suddenly rattled the room and a noticeable dent appeared in the metal door. Causing Saint to flinch and point the gun towards the door.

“Knock knock.” Dragon’s avatar on the screen smiled.

Saint dropped his gun, turned back to the keyboard and slammed his hand down once more upon the Y key. He jerked away from the desk wild-eyed as laughter echoed from the computer and from just outside the steel door. He frantically scanned the room for something…some means of escape or salvation as the seams of the door began to glow, red at first, then white. His breathing got quicker and quicker and nervous sweat poured off his body. He jumped up and backwards when, with a screech, the door came loose from the wall and crashed loudly to the floor, revealing a menacing red and black dragon suit with a still-ignited plasma torch in one hand.

Saint dropped to the floor and rolled back towards his gun but just as he reached it a heavy metal foot slammed down and crushed it. He looked up and terror swept over his face. Then the suit reached down and gently poked Saint in the forehead.


The ominous laughter coming from the computer screen transitioned into uncontrollable giggling. Outside half a dozen Dragon suits giggled as well while they watched over a circle of bound captives.


Dragon waved to Twilight as the C-130’s tail ramp finished closing, the last of the gear and personnel that was being brought along to outfit and escort the the alien princess to New York finally having been loaded. She herself was going to fly alongside and help provide aerial cover for the plane. She smiled at the thought of what was going on inside the aircraft and readjusted her position in the betting pool about whether Director Piggot would murder Leet before they landed. The assortment of Heroes, Rogues, Villains and PRT agents, along with their associated quirks, assistants, and equipment made the combined group look like a cross between a traveling circus and a special forces operation. Luna demanding an escort made up of those who had assisted Twilight was causing all sorts of havoc. Dragon half suspected that had been half of the point of Luna’s request.

As the plane’s engines spun up she double-checked her own systems and prepared for take off, calling into ground control and adjusting her coms to the appropriate frequencies. While she waited for the C-130 to taxi she shifted more of her attention back to some of the thousands of digital feeds she was monitoring.

BBC - Interview with an PRT source.

“So you ask why the PRT didn’t take Twilight Sparkle seriously when she got here?” The obscured face turned slightly to look more directly at the camera.

“I’d have to say the suits took her plenty seriously. They took her to the U.N., introduced her to all the representatives, had her give some speeches about cross-universe friendship, and so on. We got regular calls from the State Department, made regular reports to the same, etc. What I think you’re asking is: Why didn’t anybody realize she could kill Endbringers?” He, because it had taken Dragon less than a second to identify the man regardless of their precautions, gave a half sigh, half laugh before continuing.

“If you ask the question out loud like that it pretty much answers itself, but I’ll take a shot at it anyway. Three things you need to keep in mind about Twilight Sparkle. First, she’s cute. I mean she’s absolutely F-ing adorable.” A graphic came up on the screen next to the agents head showing a picture of Twilight reading a book at a desk with a somewhat miffed expression that was, Dragon had to admit, dangerously cute.

“Yeah, just look at that, she’s like the ideal cuddle toy every doll maker has been trying to make since forever, blown up just big enough that you don’t have to bend down to pat her on the head, and brought to life. Then she starts talking and she’s this friendly, geeky, cheerful, awkward young lady who’s a little weird, but just enough to make her charming. The whole package is completely disarming and even when you know what she can do, it’s way too easy to forget when your inner child just wants to pet her and feed her carrots and your parental instincts want to give her a hug.”


The plane started rolling and Dragon was given clearance for a vertical ascent to 10,000ft to begin her protection detail, her concentration not strained in the least, she continued trawling worldwide data feeds.


Welcome to the Parahumans Online message boards.

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Topic: Leviathan Attacks Brockton Bay
In: Boards ► News ► Events ►World

Bagrat (Original Poster) (Veteran Member) (The Guy in the Know)

Posted on May 15th, 2011:

At 5:04PM Eastern Standard Time, the PRT issued an alert stating an attack by Leviathan was eminent imminent in the New England Area.

At 5:11PM Eastern Standard Time, the PRT revised their warning, stating that the most likely target was Brockton Bay and issued an evacuation order for the city and the surrounding area. Anyone within the beltway is urged to proceed to the nearest Endbringer shelter. Capes wishing to aid in the defense of the city are encouraged to proceed to the nearest PRT facility.

Holy shit that city has no luck at all, good luck to everyone on the ground and going to assist.

At 5:32PM Eastern Standard Time, Leviathan made Landfall. Not much information or video yet, scattered rumors that Leviathan is acting atypically.

At 6:03PM Eastern Standard Time, the PRT issued a warning that the Simurgh had been sighted above Brockton Bay. All capes are warned that Simurgh specific protocols are now in effect.

First recorded instance of a multiple Endbringer attack. Situation is chaotic, and there is nothing yet that I feel confident in posting even as speculation.

Multiple videos of Leviathan Landfall now available, people posting this stuff are insanely brave, make sure you send them your thanks. Leviathan appears to not be using many of his water-based attacks, instead he is illustrating previously unknown extreme mover abilities.
These stills from the above video seem to show a layered shield appearing just before Leviathan hits the group of assembled capes. Good timing, extrasensory perception, or precognition?

Pictures from the aftermath of the collision, Brockton Bay’s Boardwalk area no longer exists.

The photographer of the above photos, twixiepics, has been confirmed to have been killed.

The hell just happened?!? The sun just set 2 hours early. If you have credible or confirmed information from reliable sources on this PM me here.

Confirmation from multiple sources, here, here, and here. Earth’s rotation has significantly sped up, calculations here. Speculation thread here. DO NOT fill this thread with speculation on this topic.

At 6:57PM Eastern Standard Time, the PRT issued a statement that combat operations had concluded.

!!!!! - New alien appears to be responsible for early nightfall! Extremely rough video, low resolution and it cuts off abruptly. Nothing confirmed yet.

At 7:20PM Eastern Standard Time, the PRT issued the all clear, and cancelled Simurgh protocols. All groups on S&R and humanitarian standby are to proceed to their prearranged rally points.

At 8:00PM Brief statement confirming existence of new alien, and her assistance in the Endbringer battle. New thread specific to this topic.

At 9:00PM Eastern Standard Time, the PRT announced that they believe the Simurgh had been killed!

You know what, forget my normal rules - go wild. Given the sentence I just typed, I doubt anyone can possibly derail the thread from that topic.

(Showing page 23 of 24)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@noisybackground - Did you see what Death Metal Pony did to the Simurgh?!? And that was before whatever the Rainbow of doom did. The PRT, not known as a bastion of optimism, even confirmed it. Do you really think they would do that if they had the slightest doubt that the Simurgh was Toast?

The Art of War (Cape husband)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@Lurking_Black_Mage - Its the Simurgh, practically her whole schtick is that you can NEVER be sure. I’m willing to say that its likely. The PRT pay a lot of people a lot of money to analyze things like this, but certainty in this context is hubris.

Sword Prophet
Replied on May 16th, 2011:

Whether the Simurgh is really dead or not is irrelevant, if she turns back up just Death Metal Pony out to take care of her. Problem solved.

► PRO-Carrot

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but ignore the fact that a shaping shifting alien pony lopped off some of the Simurgh’s limbs. New video just posted. Before new pony arrived, something bisected the simurgh and vaporized downtown. What the hell caused that? New PRT weapon or cape? Maybe we don’t need the ponies to save us after all.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@PRO-Carrot - I can’t believe you said that either. Then again, its a fucking day of firsts. Whatever or whoever it was that damaged the Simurgh before Princess Luna (Lets show some respect to the alien that can alter the earths spin), needs to work on the damage radius. It did as much damage as either of the Endbringers.

► Danger (Veteran Member)(Twilight Acolyte)
Replied on May 16th, 2011:

This thread is awesome, ponies are awesome. That is all.

Black_Cat(Veteran Member)
Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@Heads_or_Tails - I think Death Metal Pony is a perfectly respectful title. Have you seen this cell phone video of her story about the Dragon? I seriously doubt she would mind. As for the collateral damage, may seem callous to those that live there, but seriously, if thats the price for taking out an Endbringer? Worth it.

► XxVoid_CowboyxX
Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@Black_Cat - You wouldn’t be saying that if you freaking lived here. The city basically ceased to exist last night.

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@Black_Cat: I can’t believe I’m going to say this: I agree with Void. Lets keep in mind those who paid for the victory
@XxVoid_CowboyxX: Sorry for your loss, I hope things improve there soon.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

You know what, I know its PHO sacrilege to mention “The Outside”, but I’m going to go join the party. Why are we all posting to a message board during a global day of partying? I recommend you all do the same, trust me, wherever you live, someone’s rolled out a few kegs nearby
End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 522, 23, 24

FNN - Alien Saviors: Out of the frying pan, into the fire?

“…Look Bob, I don’t know about you, but I’m proud to live in the greatest country on earth, and one of the things that makes this country great is our democracy, but how much democracy do you think we will have once this Princess Luna gets entrenched? She sped up the planet! Do you really think there is anything she could ask for that wouldn’t be given, even our freedom? The Endbringers wanted to take everything from us, now I’m afraid we will happily give it all away.”

“Um, Casey, I, think, maybe there are a lot of people coming to a lot of conclusions based on wild rumors and our own projected hopes and fears. All I was saying is that we don’t know enough to know anything at all yet.”

“Bob. Stop waffling and just give the audience a straight answer to my question…”


Topic: Double the Ponies, Double the Fun
In: Boards ► Places ► America ►Brockton Bay ► Teams ►Ponies
DigitalDarkness (Original Poster) (Moderator: Brockton Bay)

Posted on May 15th, 2011 :

This shit just got real people, team pony just became team ponies. Discuss.

Twilight Sparkle:
Confirmed information thread
Speculation thread index
Wikis: here, here, and here
Temple of Friendship (Run by Uber & Leet)

Princess Luna:
Official press release
Confirmed information thread
Speculation thread
Video compilation


NOTICE: I’m well aware of the popular nickname for Princess Luna, but my threads my rules. I’m not going to edit my posts unless and until we have word that she doesn’t mind it. That is the end of that particular argument, anyone new coming into the thread, we’ve been over this ground, don’t retread it. Thanks!

(Showing page 13 of 15)

► Leet (Verified Cape) (Twilight Acolyte)

Replied on May 16th:

I’m on a plane bitches. That’s right, official escort for Twilight Sparkle at the request of Princess Luna herself. You may all now stew in your completely justified jealousy.

FrenchCommune (Veteran Member)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

Oh god, Leet’s going to the UN. Leet’s going to the UN and is going to be around while the first attempts at interstellar diplomacy are taking place. Anyone else need a drink right now?

janaA(Veteran Member)
Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@Leet - Awesome, but don’t forget to put your phone in airplane mode before takeoff. The’ve gotten seriously anal about that lately.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@janaA - are you fucking serious?
@FrenchCommune - Yeah, we’re boned.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

(hopes jana is trolling)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:
[@ FrenchCommune - Look, can he really be any worse than the politicians themselves? Frankly I’m glad the ponies are interacting with a broader cross section of humanity.

► Meljor
Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@EastOfPerth - I will just point you to these videos here, here, here, and Uber&Leet’s wiki page here. Yes, its worse. At least most of the politicians and diplomats have been trained not to offend.

DemonSmith (Verified PRT Agent)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@Meljor - politicians at the UN unoffensive? You’re joking right. Have you ever read some of the sub-committee transcripts? I’ve actually done some protection detail there, Lots of good people, but lots of creeps too.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@ FrenchCommune@Melijor@DemonSmith@EastOfPerth

Given that Princess Luna is royalty and Twilight Sparkle is some kind of advisor to royalty, I’m sure they have dealt with plenty of politicians and assholes over the years. Somehow I suspect they are a universal constant. Twilight’s literally seen the worst humanity has to offer, and she still seems pretty amicable towards us. I’ll take that as a good sign.

► Celly (Cape Wife)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

I think these ponies are made of tougher stuff than people on this thread are giving them credit for. Remember why we have this thread in the first place, they’re badass bitches.

Edit: Strangered by WorksForUs

End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … 12, 13, 14 … 15


“…The thing to keep in mind is that her powers are weird. The PRT has a lot of practice attaching classifications and numbers to powers, but we’re used to those powers being fixed and following a theme we can identify and use to tie everything together. We had no idea how to wrap our heads around this alien who can apparently learn gravity control the way a regular human can learn to juggle or speak French.” The agent shook his head as if in disbelief.

“That just doesn’t happen. In addition to that, most parahumans are just itching to show what they can do, get into fights, build their rep, and drive those numbers in the official ratings upward. Twilight just uses her powers when they’re useful while she goes about her business. And her business, at the beginning, was mostly reading, taking notes, and making checklists.”

“Checklists?” The interviewer inquired.

“Oh yeah, word of advice, buy stock in office supply companies. Anyway you combine these points and what you get is she’s really easy to underestimate, her powers are hard to figure out, and every time she hits a new problem she pulls out some new power or ramps up an old one in ways nobody had a clue about. So there’s this pattern where we think we have a handle on what she can do and we think we’ve seen her limits, and then she blows right past those boundaries and we all play catch up. And each time this happens, if you tried to tell people beforehand what was coming next, you’d get laughed out of the building.”


Topic: EPIC Celebration at the NEW bayside park
In: Boards ► Places ► Brockton Bay ► Main
Rubel (Original Poster)

Posted on May 15th, 2011:
First off, it appears the aliens have the ability to rapidly terraform an area. Pics. This plus demise of Simurgh = Viable Mars colony?
Second, if you haven’t heard - there is a truly epic celebration going on down there. Someone is running a live feed, how they are connecting to the internet I’m not sure (tinker shenanigans likely) but if you’re in the area and we’re fortunate enough to make it through the day unscathed, it looks like the place to be. I’m heading down there as soon as I finish posting this. Hope to see you there!

If you can’t make it, feel free to use the thread to talk about whatever. This isn’t a day for moderation (in any sense)!

(Showing page 8 of 9)

Execute29 (Protectorate Employee)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

Once again, I would like to urge everyone in the mood for celebration to form their own block parties in their local area. Travel to and from the Urban core of Brockton bay is still extremely hazadus with damaged roads, buildings and debris everywhere. We are also still performing S&R throughout the area. If you run into an official they are going to ask you to turn around anyway.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

Holy shit, check the live feed! Is that Miss Militia Dancing with Legend? My shipping senses are tingling.

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@ shadowplant59 - Dude, Legend is kinda Gay.
Edit: And by kinda, I mean about as gay as you can possibly be. Also he’s married.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

Reality has never interfered with shipping before, don’t see why it should start now.

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@You_Saw_Nothing - I was going to argue, but you’ve got a point.

ExcitedScience (Twilight Acolyte)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

Thus was borne a ten thousand horrible capefic romances.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@ExcitedScience - Ugh, as if it wasn’t already hard enough to trawl through them for the decent ones.

Nova_Centurion (Veteran Member)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

There’s decent capefics? Why didn’t anyone tell me this?

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@Nova_Centurion - I was about to say its like finding a unicorn, but, well…

End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 57, 8, 9

FNN - Aliens: implications for Election 2012!

“…So you’re saying you don’t think the President is angling for an endorsement from the aliens? His press release this morning certainly sounded like it to me.”

“Are we even reading the same document? They just took part in an Endbringer battle to defend a city that isn’t even on their own planet. The President was simply being gracious.”

“Gracious, right, whoever gets their endorsement will be buoyed by the the gratitude the world currently feels towards the aliens. I suspect we’ll see a lot more transparent ‘graciousness’ in the coming months.”


From: Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Parahuman Divison
To: Director, PRT


All due respect, I understand this is an incredibly hectic day, but the information you provided during the conference call this morning was nearly useless. FNN has more information. We have confirmation that one alien casually exerted an amount of force that exceeds the global nuclear stockpile by orders of magnitude. We need an in-depth dossier asap, preferably before we start talks in New York. This comes straight from POTUS. Pull every thinker and resource you have available and get this done by 21:00 today, or even your reputation wont save your job.

-James King
Undersecretary of Homeland Security
Parahuman Division


Dragon frowned thoughtfully, the Undersecretary had a point, but there was something subtly hostile in the tone of the email. She had a feeling that homeland was not particularly thrilled with Princess Luna. She stepped up her own monitoring of their communications related to her friends.


“So we have this adorable alien pony hanging around, usually with the Wards, and pretty soon we’re all thinking of her as some sort of team mascot. I mean we didn’t actually forget she was an alien with powers and the interest of world diplomats, but she’s just so totally non-threatening that it just doesn’t seem important. Then she teleports across the city and stops a bank robbery. Then we get a mad bomber wrecking the city and the Slaughterhouse Nine drop in. Jack Slash goes after Twilight personally. I guess he thought she was too cute to live or something. No one I know is in the know enough to know what the hell happened next, but the short of it is Jack confronted Twilight, she walked away, he didn’t.”

The agent visibly shudders, gathers himself and continues.

“Twilight goes into hiding, but a week later she pops up, she’s grown wings, and she launches Crawler out of the solar system. And yes, I can’t believe I just actually spoke those words aloud, but it’s true. Again, the PRT are the people other people call to deal with the weird and the unbelievable. Yet, if you told anyone either of these things were going to happen before they happened, you would have been shown the door, because it was just that F-ing unbelievable.”

He picks up a water bottle from the table beside him and takes a long sip before moving on.

“So, yeah. Turns out Miss Sparkle’s plays in the big leagues. What does she do with this power? Join the Protectorate? Declare herself princess of Brockton Bay? Nope, she goes to the Mayor’s office and lays out her plan to revitalize the city’s economy. I kid you not. Then as a side project to work on while she’s not busy rebuilding the city, she starts a research project on how to take down Leviathan.”

“Excuse me?” The interviewer interjected incredulously.

“Oh yeah, like an extra-credit assignment or something. Lovecraftian horrors trying to end the world? Don’t worry we do this kinda thing all the time back home. Bring me everything you have on ancient sea monsters and another one of those cucumber sandwiches.”


Topic: Twilight Sparkle Speculation
In: Boards ► Debates ► Twilight Sparkle ► Theories Thread 68
Eat_at_Joes (Veteran Member)(Twilight Acolyte)

Posted on May 10th, 2011:

Index of previous threads.
Twilight Factual thread.

So, a new thread for a new day. Latest news. Apparently Twilight Sparkle has gotten into urban renewal.

(Showing page 14 of 14)


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

What the hell are you basing that on? I know this is the speculation thread, but usually we start from at least a scrap of verifiable evidence before spiraling out into crazy town. There is absolutely nothing so far connecting Twilight with the blast that leveled downtown.

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

You think the Protectorate has been sitting on something like that? No way, they would have used it or something like it before now. The only two possibilities are a powerful new cape or Twilight Sparkle. Who else has been throwing around new powers lately in Brockton? Since we haven’t gotten any word or seen any evidence about a new cape…

Look, I’m not saying it was Twilight Sparkle….But it was Twilight Sparkle.

Eat_at_Joes (Veteran Member)(Twilight Acolyte)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

I hate to encourage him, but the lunatic has a point. Come on, we’re not posting in a Bagrat thread here. Its actually a pretty solid line of reasoning, even if we don’t have any hard evidence to back it up yet. Now taking that line of reasoning and extrapolating that Twilight is going to become Dark Lady Sparklemort or something, as his earlier ramblings seem to advocate, is pretty ridiculous, but its Defend, and its the speculation thread. These are things you must accept if you are to post here.

Uber (Veteran Member)(Twilight Acolyte)(Verified cape)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

Let us not bicker and argue about who killed who. Tis a day of celebration! Our Princess of Friendship has been reunited with her fellow royalty, and they (with some epic assistance by yours truly), kicked some serious ass. Now go out there and make some friends, or do better by the ones you already have. Spread the word disciples, because there are no breaks on this friendship train.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

? I have no words. Its like Uber and Leet performed a mind meld with Mr. Rogers.

Eat_at_Joes (Veteran Member)(Twilight Acolyte)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@ KO#12 - nor are they needed. Our mission transcends them. ;)

End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 513, 14

FNN - What industries are primed to take advantage of alien trade?

“While we have little more than rumors at this point to work from, there are a few things we can infer. Unless the two examples we have seen so far are aberrations, it looks like our textile and fashion industries will not find many customers.”

“Thats not necessarily true Steven. The Japanese had little interest in diamonds at the beginning of the 20th century, but a brilliant advertising campaign by Debeers turned it into their second largest market. It could be a huge market, with no local competition, just waiting for a savvy marketer with the right idea.”

“Good point John. You heard him Designers - start thinking about how turn the Equestrian’s heads. On slightly less speculative grounds, some offhand statements from Miss Sparkle seem to indicate that their technology base is not quite on par with ours. This could open huge new markets for both industrial and consumer electronics sectors.”

“The question then becomes, what do we think the equestrian’s have that we need.”

“Both have displayed the ability to alter gravity with relative ease. If this is a wide-spread skill, it could revolutionize the aerospace industry. Imagine hiring an Equestrian to place hundreds of tons of pre-assembled material into orbit.”

“I imagine the current earth to orbit payload providers are getting pretty nervous wondering if that’s the case.”

PGP ENCYPTED EMAIL Intercept (Flags: CUI, Twilight Sparkle, Princess Luna)

From: CIA Station Chief, Sydney
To: Director, CIA


We’ve been picking up some indications from some of our assets that the CUI is planning something. Their actions over the last two weeks have been atypical, and chatter increased dramatically yesterday and continuing into this morning. Our analysts here have reason to believe they intend to take some kind of action in regards to either Twilight Sparkle, or Princess Luna soon.

Unfortunately we don’t at this time know what their intensions may be, but its keeping us up at night down here. Should we forward this to the PRT?

Station Chief


Her processors whirled as she analyzed and extrapolated scenarios based off of that information. Most amounted to nothing good. She re-directed a few more of her suits that she had used for the Dragon Slayer’s raid to setup station in New York. While a fast response suit to an airbase in Japan. The CIU was an enigma even to her new capabilities, and a very dangerous group to have interested in you.


Topic: Death Metal Pony (Her Highness Princess Luna)
In: Boards ► Debates ► Princess Luna ► Theories

80%_Water (Original Poster) (Veteran Member)

Posted on May 15th, 2011:


Death Metal Pony nickname originates from here

Go here to find out what we actually know.

Have you read that? Are you now prepared to posit theories that have nothing to do with it? Good, in this thread nothing as petty as facts will get in our way. You have been warned.

(Showing page 17 of 17)
I_Jump_First (Veteran Member)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

So anyone else wondering why, if Princess Luna has shown up here as some sort of rescue mission, they would send one of their heads of state? Its like if we parachuted the prime minister into Afghanistan to recover a hostage. It makes no fucking sense at all.

NocturnalHorse (Verified PRT Agent)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@ I_Jump_First - You’re projecting a lot of human societal structure and thinking onto a society that we know close to nothing about. For all we know, you get to be a princess by being the baddest motherfucker on the block and doing shit like crossing interstellar space and punching eldritch abominations in the face is how you show you are fit to rule.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

Oh god, thats perfect - their cuteness actually overlays the fact that they live on some sort of death-world and they choose who rules by whoever’s the best at putting boots in monster and pony faces.

Who run Bartertown?

Fucking Death Metal Pony does.

Reintez (Veteran Member)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

@ Ouroboros@NocturnalHorse: Hahahaha! Though actually, something like that would explain their exceedingly good track record at eliminating threats.
@I_Jump_First: I like this idea. We shouldn’t question their ways, we should lobby to change ours.


Replied on May 16th, 2011:

Is betting Protectorate thinkers use this thread to float what sparks public reaction and shapes their press releases accordingly.

I_Jump_First (Veteran Member)

Replied on May 16th, 2011:

Going by your username, shouldn’t you know?

End of Page. 1, 2, 3, 4, 516, 17


“…So now, for the first time ever, we have two Endbringers at once, and then downtown explodes in fire everywhere. It’s all over. Brockton Bay is utterly f-ed, and anyone who lives through this will probably wish they didn’t because it’s the Simurgh with a mad on. Then Death Metal Pony shows up.”


“You heard me. Oh, and by the way, the new pony is princess of the night and the Moon and she’s going to SPEED UP THE EARTH TO MAKE IT NIGHT AND MANEUVER THE MOON AROUND SO SHE CAN USE IT AS A WEAPONS PLATFORM! At this point the entire Protectorate takes a moment to watch as the new pony literally kicks the Simurgh in the face. Twilight pops up once again, with a bunch of plucky kids in tow. The Protectorate gets back in the fight, what’s left of the Simurgh gets vaporized by a rainbow, and Brockton Bay suddenly has a new beachfront park.”

He takes a deep breath and his tone gets noticeably lighter.

“Then the drinking starts, because we all f-ing deserve it after the past month. So, the reason nobody saw this coming is nobody within shouting distance of sanity could have seen this coming. But I’m going to try and learn from the past here and apply those lessons to the future. What I learn looking back is…Every time Twilight Sparkle blew our minds we rewrote the files and then said, ‘O.K., she’s done now.’ Every time we thought she didn’t have anywhere higher to go, until she did. Now we’re all looking at what went down in Brockton Bay and trying to figure out how to re-work the clocks and calendars after what happened worldwide. And the world is looking at the ponies and saying, ‘O.K., they’re done now’, and I’m thinking, ‘Don’t count on it.’”


Dragon laughed to herself and flagged the interview for review by her sister. She couldn’t help but agree. An alert pinged and she shifted more processing to her local environment. They were on final approach into New York and she had a feeling things were about to get very interesting.

10 - Sojourns

View Online

Twilight was unsure what she should be doing in this situation, and a quick glance around showed she was not the only one. The plane was only about halfway unloaded and they had been sheltering from the early-afternoon sun under a large tent someone had the forethought to setup nearby when Luna had suddenly taken wing and landed in the back of a large open-top truck that had just driven up. She suspected it had been intended to carry the sizable number of PRT personnel that had come with them, but Luna apparently had other ideas.

“COME FAITHFUL COMPANIONS!" Luna shouted over the din of the runway as she reared up and planted her fore-hooves on the roof of the vehicle. "We wish to see this grand city for ourselves! We were rather too busy to experience the last one properly.” Uber and Leet, who had changed on the plane into some kind of futuristic armor with “N7” stenciled on the shoulder, had eagerly and immediately commandeered the truck cab from the startled driver. Said driver stared dazedly at the duo, arm coming up halfway as if to protest and then falling back to his side. Leet hunched over an orange holographic screen he had somehow produced from his arm, and Uber had started pulling wires from underneath the steering wheel while frantically discussing something.

A hand on her back startled her out of her contemplative indecision. Turning her head she saw Tattletale smirking at her. “Come on Twi, Something tells me HRH over there isn’t easily dissuaded once she has an idea like this. Besides, do you really want to spend a day like this inside being talked politely to by underlings of people you don’t know?”

The enigmatic girl had a point, Twilight thought as she gazed out at the city in the distance. It was a beautiful spring day and the city had looked amazing when they had flown over it. She had not really gotten a chance to see anything besides the airport and the inside of offices the last time she had been there. Still, she felt a little guilt bubbling up over the thought of ruining someone else’s checklists and schedules. Surely they would get a chance t-

“Hey, stop that,” Tattletale said interrupting her thoughts. “Seriously you’re not going to disturb anything important, and it’s probably your last chance to see things before the city finishes waking up from the party last night and goes batshit over your arrival.” She felt a gentle pressure on her neck urging her forward towards the truck and she let a rueful grin cross her face as she gave in. It was amazing how well Tattletale seemed to know her after such a short time. “Ha! Thats the spirit.” Twilight and Tattletale turned back towards the group of wards who were conversing urgently with Director Piggot whose face had grown so stern that an image of red eyes and a beak flashed through her head.

“You guys better hurry up. Last ones in get the cheap seats with views obstructed by billowing magic unicorn hair.” Tattletale called out. Twilight felt her senses twist as Vista suddenly appeared in the back of the truck next to Luna, apparently taking Tattletale’s word about the seating arrangements. Skitter stood up from where she was sitting under the tent and started making her way towards the truck with Flame Dancer following quickly behind her. Twilight started to think about what would really be the optimum way to arrange the seating, given everyone’s respective height and build and the likely orientation of the sights in relation to the direction of travel when a light whap on the back of her head startled her out of it.

“Snap out of it, theres a time and a place for planning, and one for causing trouble. This is the latter.” Twilight laughed a little nervously, and cast one more fretful glance over her shoulder at the PRT personnel and police scrambling around the tarmac and talking quickly into phones. She doubted they shared Tattletale’s laid-back attitude. She flapped her wings a couple of times, and gracelessly wobbled through the air to land beside Luna in the truck.

“Princess are you sure it-” She was cut off as Leet reached an arm out of the window and placed a small circular device on the roof of the cab. As Uber revved the engine, fast paced guitar music started to blare from the device. Cyclic chanting joined the guitar and Clockblocker, Gallant, Shadow Stalker, and a half a dozen troopers scrambled into the back of the truck moments before it lurched forward.



Uber accelerated quickly and Twilight scrabbled frantically with her hooves to avoid falling over when the truck bounced violently through the gates leading out of the airport.


She glanced up past a fiercely grinning Luna to see Dragon, Aegis, and Kid Win flying above them. Police cars and PRT vehicles were peeling out of the gate now, some racing in front, others taking turns left or right as the truck picked up more speed on the suspiciously empty street. Wide eyed people stared from the stoops of their houses and apartments as the convoy rolled passed.


Almost against her will, Twilight felt a smile start to spread across her face as she bobbed her head in time with the music and the truck’s suspension. The wind blowing through her mane seemed to take her worries with it. Tattletale was right. It was a beautiful day in one of the grandest cities on the planet and all of her new friends were here. She noticed the same mischievous smile spreading across her friends' faces, and when the chorus of the song came back around she felt she did a fairly good impression of the Canterlot royal voice when she joined Luna and the others in shouting it.



“Yes I’m back in black!” The crowd yelled/sang along as the truck rolled past.

Ten minutes of enthusiastic driving later, their pace had slowed when they reached areas where traffic hadn’t been cleared in advance. Cars on both sides of the road had pulled as far to the side as they were able, and the convoy drove slowly down the center of the street. The result was something like a spontaneous parade.

“Back in the back of a Cadillac. Number one with a bullet I'm a power pack.”

Twilight was fascinated by the sheer diversity of the neighborhood, and a little disturbed by how unorganized it all seemed. Clothing stores, banks, electronics, food shops, jewelry, restaurants, and street vendors all vied with each other for the attention of the populace that, at least for the moment, was more interested in singing and watching the procession than in any of the wares being sold. Though, as they passed by a candy store right next to dentist, she thought maybe there was some kind of underlying order after all.

“In a bang with the gang. They gotta catch me if they want me to hang.”

Luna stood on the now thoroughly dented roof singing along and waving to the crowd. She had conjured a storm cloud that hung high above the truck and crackled with lightning and thunder in time with the music. Twilight thought this all might be sending the wrong message, but the crowd seemed undisturbed and she couldn’t bring herself to interfere with the fun that Luna was obviously having.

“Cause I'm back on the track and I'm beatin' the flack. Nobody's gonna get me on another rap.”

As the pace of their forward progress slowed, the troopers and Wards had exited the truck and formed a perimeter around it. More capes that Twilight didn’t recognize had joined them either on the ground or running along the roofs above. Dozens of helicopters, all painted differently, hovered in the distance and the number of people on the street seemed to be growing exponentially.

“So look at me now I'm just makin' my play. Don't try to push your luck just get out of my way.”

Taylor and Flame Dancer stood on either side of her, supportive arms on her back, and waving to the crowd with her while Tattletale, vulpine grin at full power, stood on the open tailgate and seemed to be conducting the different sides of the street into singing alternating verses.

“Cause I'm back
Yes I'm back
Well I'm back
Yes I'm back
Well I'm ba-ha-ha-hack ba-ha-ha-hack
Well I'm back in black
Yes I'm back in black!”

The brakes squealed as the truck came to a slow stop in front of a large structure built over the road. The doors of the truck burst open and Uber performed an acrobatic leap from the cab, twisting and rotating his body through the air to land dramatically on the final downbeat of the song.

“Yes I'm back in black. Outta sight!”

The crowd burst into a roaring cheer as Leet hopped out of the cab, fiddling with the glowing hologram around his arm. A new song burst from the speaker and suddenly a ghostly steam train appeared on the street in front of them, a piercing steam whistle sounding from it.


“All Aboaarrdd. HAHAHAHAH!”

The crowd cheered again, and Twilight noticed at least a third of them seemed to holding one of those little phones like Alexandria had above their heads.

“Millions of people living as foes
Maybe. it's not too late.”

The ghostly train started slowly forward, clearing a path in its wake towards what Twilight now realized was a raised train platform. Luna seemed to understand the implication as well, jumped off the cab, and glided gracefully down to the street to land behind Uber and Leet. Twilight quickly wrapped Flame Dancer and Taylor in a teleport and appeared just behind her while the troopers, Wards, and capes quickly scrambled in reaction to their abandoning the truck.

“To learn how to love, and forget how to hate.”

Some of the crowd had realized the import of the song as well and were rushing up the stairs to the platform in front of the train and the troopers. Dragon suddenly landed beside her in a small wash of flame and noise and immediately turned to Taylor.

“Anything suspicious?”

“One man with a gun, but he was already moving away before we stopped. Exited my range 2 blocks west at a fast walk,” Skitter replied with the calm professional tone Twilight noticed she slipped into whenever anything remotely serious was brought up.

“Good,” Dragon said before turning to Twilight. “I’m not going to be able to fit through the doors here. I’ll meet you on the platform.”

“Okay,” Twilight replied, a little nervously after the mention of a gun, but reassured by the casual dismissal her two friends had for it. Dragon lifted back off and the crowd pressed in a little closer. People were getting out of their stopped cars now, some standing on roofs to get a look at them or snap pictures. Dragon’s takeoff seemed to be a signal for the crowd to cheer again as the group assembled and made their way to the stairs.

“Citizens of Earth!” Uber’s voice called out from the speaker over a guitar solo. “Please make way, the Systems Alliance is escorting Her Royal Highness Princess Luna and Her Royal Highness Princess Twilight Sparkle to the seven train.” Twilight couldn’t stop a hoof from planting itself in her face at that, and her blush only expanded when the crowd roared their approval. With a little prodding from the Wards and PRT officers a wider corridor to the stairs opened up through the crowd.

“This last song before we go is dedicated to Princess Twilight.”

Twilight blushed as the crowds attention turned to her, and joined in on the lyrics almost immediately.

“Why can’t we be Friends?! Why can’t we be Friends?”

While Twilight was trying to disappear and catch on fire at the same time, she noticed Luna almost seemed to grow taller, more stately. The Princess nodded and smiled at the crowd, and even pressed a hoof into a few outstretched hands. Suddenly Luna draped a wing over her back and subtly lifted her chin with magic while whispering in her ear. “Hidest not thy face Twilight Sparkle, it suiteth thee ill and doth a disservice to their admiration. Standest proudly and acknowledge their accolades, and thus acknowledge them as well.” Twilight straightened her posture and fought to control her blush while she smiled at the crowd and waved a hoof between steps as people shouted joyously at her.

“Aliens Rule!”

“Pony Power!”

“Thank you!”

“My daughter was born last night! We named her Twilight!”

“Gracias! Gracias!”

“Hail! Hail The Princess of Friendship! Your Acolytes Believe!”


“Death Metal Pony For President!”

“ābhārī hōṅ!”

At the end of the corridor of people was the the train platform. Elevated above the street, it wasn’t much to look at now that Twilight was paying attention to it. An industrial construction of iron decorated in rust and faded teal paint looming over the street and shops beneath it. It was clear that whatever priorities had gone into its construction, beauty or unobtrusiveness had not been among them.

They finally got to the stairs and Twilight sighed in relief as she awkwardly started up them. Human stairs were in no way made with pony strides in mind. However bad the stairs were, Twilight was grateful to escape the crowd. While it was nice, and certainly refreshing, to see so many happy people she didn’t know if she would ever be comfortable with that type of attention. She just wasn’t sure she deserved the kind of thanks they were giving her. She had made some big mistakes in the battle, and if it hadn’t been for her friends who knows what would have happened. Regardless, she was certain she would never be comfortable with it.

She felt Flame Dancer give her a one-armed hug as they came to a series of metal silver gates. She gratefully leaned into it as a group of officers, Uber, Leet, and Tattletale stood gathered in front of what looked like a vending machine arguing over something.

“Sir! Are you, an officer of the law, suggesting we simply not pay the fare? Corruption! Scandal! What will the press say?” Tattletale put her wrist to her head dramatically while the officer she was talking to took on an even more aggrieved expression.

“Look, I’m just-“

“Sir, while not strictly under the jurisdiction of the Systems Alliance, we can’t allow you to besmirch the reputation of the dignitaries we are escorting. Now give us $50 so we can buy a metro card for everyone.”

“Me? That’s ridi-“

“Just do it Ferguson. I vouch for the expenses. We’re going to miss the train if we take much longer.”

Twilight took a closer look at the silver gate-booths and quickly determined that there was going to be no comfortable way for her to go through the contraption. Spotting Dragon standing in the open air on the other side, she powered her horn and teleported beside her, circumventing the problem. Luna followed her lead by turning to mist and flowing over the barrier. Their entourage, now equipped with some small cards, were slowly proceeding through the turning machines. As the platform started filling up with PRT officers, Wards, and those of the crowd below that had managed to make it up before them, a bright streak of light descended to the end of the platform.

Legend strode over with an easy smile, waving to the scattered commuters who were still a little too overawed by the group that had taken over the platform to start breaking out cameras yet.

"Your Majesty, Twilight, Dragon. Welcome to New York."

"Ah, and what a welcome it hath so far been. We are most pleased with the city and its friendly peas-citizinery thus far. We now wait for this "Subway" to see more of it. Most odd that it is called such, given that it resideth elevated above the ground."

"I'm glad you're finding it to your liking. I wouldn't live anywhere else. Though, if I may ask, Queens?"

Luna hesitated for a brief moment and then with a fierce grin replied, ”Queens? Nay, we are but Princesses! Rock!“

Legend seemed unsure how to respond to that, and was saved from having to try when a sleek silver train with no noticeable engine rumbled onto the platform. It came to a stop so that it lined the entire deck and with a pleasant chime wide double door swung open up and down the length of it. A couple of people got off and then stood frozen at the scene before them.

“Don’t worry folks!” Clockblocker called out in a loud voice. “This is simply standard post apocalypse protocol, nothing to see here.”

“Come Twilight Sparkle, adventure awaiteth ahead!” Luna declared loudly and proudly strode onto the train. As Twilight and the rest of the eclectic escort followed, a memory flashed before her eyes and startled a laugh from her.

“All the people in this town are crazy!”


Twilight braced herself as her hooves slid slightly on the slick floor of the train as it accelerated out of the station, put her forelegs on the seat in front of her, and then pressed her face against the window above the seat as the train cleared the station and the view opened up. The tracks here ran at the height of the rooftops of the shops and houses, the wheels squealing whenever the tracks went around the slightest curve. As mesmerized as she was by the scenery and the the marvel that was the train, she couldn’t help but wonder how the people that lived there felt about the noise of its passing every day.

The train pulled to a jerky stop at another elevated station that once again forced her to catch herself. With a ding and a hiss the doors of their car swung open to reveal a group of stunned human faces gaping at the group that filled their car. Uber and Leet standing at attention by the doors like a pair of futuristic royal guardsmen, Legend casually holding onto one of the poles and waving at the gawkers with a friendly smile, while Dragon knelt behind him trying to take up as little space as possible but still scraping the ceiling. Flame Dancer had stared at the man sitting with a stunned expression in the seat next to Twilight until he had given it up to her and she now sat turned around in it to look out the window with Twilight. Skitter had taken up position at the very back of the car and stood with an unnatural stillness that was a little unnerving to look at for long.

The rest of their party was scattered and intermixed with a group of commuters whose expressions ranged between delighted and flabbergasted, or were trying to set the world record on the number of pictures that could be taken with a cellphone. Clockblocker was, of course, standing at the door doing his best impression of a ringmaster and encouraging the gawkers to get on board before the train departed.

“Come one! Come all! Come see the world famous Protectorate Traveling Circus!” He then started gesturing around the train car, “We have Ponies, Dragons, Strongmen, Clowns, and Legends the likes you’ve never seen, and certainly never seen in one place! One night only folks, one night only!” A ding sounded from the train which, was enough to shake a few of the people on the platform out of their shock and prompt them to scramble through the doors before they closed moments later. As the train accelerated down the tracks again, she noticed several costumed figures racing across the platform’s roof and leaping to nearby roofs, some quickly outpacing the train itself. She turned to Legend questioningly and he caught her eye above the head of a teenager who he was signing an autograph for and gave her a wink. Assuming that meant he knew about the people on the roofs and that they were expected, she let go of the tension their sighting had caused. Turning back to the window, she found it mostly obscured by the billowing mane of Princess Luna, who had apparently decided her side of the train was more entertaining.

“Huzzah! ’Tis this not a spectacle that needed to be seen first hoof Twilight Sparkle?” Princess Luna asked as Twilight dug herself out of the Princess’s hair. Something must have changed after that, because even though the station platforms became ever more crowded with each station they passed, the train didn’t stop again. Then, as the train came around a bend, Manhattan’s skyline unfurled across the windows in front of them like a pony-built mountain range. It’s scale was huge, easily eclipsing even the largest of Equestria’s cities.

“The Empire State Building!” Twilight exclaimed, reflexively pointing with her hoof towards a building that towered over even its impressive neighbors. When the train completed the curve, the skyline went back out of view as the train was now pointed directly towards it. They passed what looked like an abandoned factory building that had been painted with intricate and colorful designs over every exposed surface, but she wasn’t able to find a theme connecting it all before it passed quickly out of view. Then the train angled down and plunged under street level, finally living up to the “subway” name she had heard it referred to as.

As they raced under the East River, another engineering feat that Twilight was desperate to find out how it was accomplished without magic, she turned herself around now that there was nothing of interest to see outside of the window. Her thoughts were derailed by coming face to face with a human colt that, if he were equestrian, was probably several years away from getting his cutie-mark. His face was split by a huge grin that was missing a couple of teeth and was being restrained from coming even closer by the hand of a nervous looking woman who could only be his mother.

“Oh Hello! I’m sorry I didn’t see you there, I was just so excited to see the city. I’m Twilight Sparkle.” Twilight said in her best reassuring teacher voice while extending a hoof towards the child. His mother’s face seemed to relax at that and loosened her grip, which was how Twilight found herself wrapped in a surprisingly tight hug around her neck and flooded with a lightning fast burst of speech.

“Hi! I’m Charles, but my family calls me Charlie, except my little sister who calls me C. We saw you on the TV last night! Everyone was happy or crying, or crying happily. I don’t really understand it, but they said you did a bunch of good stuff, and then you got on our train! You’re Miss Princess Twility Sparkles right? You must be because there are only two ponies and she’s,” he broke off his hug with one arm to gesture at the extremely bemused Princess standing next to her, “the moon one, I can tell because you have stars on you and she has a moon. Your fur’s really soft, did you know that? We have a cat and her fur is soft, but not as soft as yours. Why do you have fur? Can you give me some? I think it would be nice in the winter, but maybe not so nice right now. My mom’s taking me to get ice-cream because it’s hot and I got a good grade on my spelling test, do you want to get ice-cream with us?” Twilight was only saved when Charlie had to stop and take a breath, which seemed to be the signal his mother was waiting for to gently pull him back from around her neck.

“Easy Charlie, remember what we talked about. Isn’t there something you wanted to ask Princess Sparkle?” Twilight opened her mouth to interject about the erroneous title but was stopped by Princess Luna’s hoof pressing on her shoulder and her smiling face gently shaking her head no. Then it was too late as Charlie began speaking again.

“Oh! Right. My friends at school, well, I tell them super amazing stories, because I’m super amazing a lot, but sometimes they don’t believe that. Could you, maybe, let my mom take a picture of us, so I can show them how I really really did talk with a princess on the most super amazing trip for ice-cream ever?” The look of pleading cuteness was too much for Twilight, she broke in seconds.

“I, um, of course.” Then she had an idea to at least rope a few more people into her own embarrassment. “How about something even better? How about a picture with two princesses, a dragon, and Legend?”


By the time they parted with Charlie and his mother after exiting the train and climbing several flights of stairs, he had his picture taken with every cape and PRT agent in their group. She was quite sure he would be the envy of his second grade class. The stairs ended and were replaced by wide tiled ramps that kept leading them upwards until they opened up into a huge beautiful hall absolutely packed with people. Some crowded around a roped cordon set in a wide circle around the ramp they ascended taking pictures and cheering, while the background was filled with others walking and running between other platforms. Then she looked up and gasped.

“Oh Luna, look. The ceiling, they painted their constellations on it.” Luna stopped mid wave and stared at the ceiling for a long moment, a smile larger than the one she was already wearing spreading across her face.

“Truly Twilight. ’Tis wonderful to see appreciation for the night sky given such pride of place in a building graced by so many each day. Though,” she looked quizzically at the ceiling, “We do believe they may have gotten some of the star positions wrong.” After another moment she broke her gaze away from the ceiling and brought her hoof down on the tile with a loud echoing crack.


Taking their cue, Uber and Leet marched forward towards the nearest set of doors, police and capes fanning out in front of them with Luna boldly striding after them. Twilight took one last look around the magnificent room before trotting quickly to catch up, their circus spreading out and seeming to expand with every step.


“HAHA! What excellent frivolity! Thou darest challenge us again? Have at thee!”

Twilight grumbled under her breath between taking sips of cider from the glass in front of her. The bar stool was awkward, certainly not designed for ponies in mind, but she was making it work. Tattletale stepped up beside her with a smile and signaled the bartender for two more of what Twilight was drinking.

“Come on Sparkle, you’re not still upset are you?”

“Upset? Why would I be upset? I mean, its not like we decided not to take a single step inside one of the greatest libraries in the world, so that we could play games and drink beer instead. How could I be upset about something like that?” Twilight grumbled and finished off her cider just as the bartender arrived with another two glasses. Tattletale took one and slid the other in front of Twilight who took it in her magic and drank the top third in one pull. Behind them she heard the steady sound of hands and hoofs assaulting a game machine cease and the princess exclaim.

“HUZZAH! Victory is ours! Thou art no match for our feathery steed and brave lancer!”

“No way! 4 out of 7!”

“Thou marchest only to thine inevitable defeat, but we accept thy renewed terms! Cry Havoc!”

“Look at that Sparkle. Seeing Leet getting trounced in Joust by Luna has got to be worth a little smile.” Tattletale said.

“…All those books…” Twilight mumbled into her glass.

“Hey, you’re like the most famous pony on the planet. I’m sure they can arrange a private after hours tour for you sometime during your stay. You’d feel guilty interrupting everyone trying to read and study anyway if we brought this carnival into the library. So come on. Grab your cider. I’m challenging you and Skitter to a three-way tournament in Space Invaders,” she said as she gestured towards the dark clad girl who had been sitting quietly at the end of the bar.

“You’re right, okay, you’re on!”

“That’s the spirit.” Tattletale picked up her drink and led them back towards the game in question. There had been a moment when the bartender had seemed to hesitate at serving her and some of the others, but whatever his hesitation had been, he had looked around the room again and decided against voicing it, much to Tattletale’s obvious amusement.

“Hey how about about Centipede?” Skitter asked in a too-innocent voice as she joined them.

“Ha! Playing to your strengths? We’re not falling for that bug-girl.”


Twilight stopped and stared at the statue, a blush slowly burning its way across her face. Tattletale glanced at her and then quickly grimaced in pain as she brought her hand up to her head.

“Damn it. I did not need that,” she mumbled in a pained voice as Princess Luna declared loud enough to echo across the square.

“Truly thy city hath cast off all bounds of propriety. Who is this noble Saddle Arabian and his partner? Why hath the city allowed such a sculpture? The man holds the Arabian’s reins in manner more befitting a bedroom than a public park.”

Twilight heard Shadow Stalker start cackling behind her and glanced behind to see a red faced Vista using her talent to bridge the twenty feet between her and Clockblocker to forcefully cover his mouth.

“Clockblocker,” Aegis said seriously while obviously trying to hold back laughter of his own, “If you post one bit of this online your life won't be worth what it costs Piggot to dispose of your body.”

“Oh dear,” Legend murmured almost to quiet too hear while a grin spread across his face, “I’m not sure I’m going to ever look at Washington quite the same way again."


“Be ye not embarrassed Twilight Sparkle. The doll is a remarkable likeness of thee,” Princess Luna said while levitating a small stuffed toy off the table of a street-side stand. She turned to the proprietor with a pleased smile, “We shall take them all! Sister and thy friends will be well pleased with such a gift.”

Twilight simply groaned, imagining the scene. Each of her friends would tease her with it in their own way, but if she didn’t find someone to make a Rainbow Dash doll before she got back, she would never hear the end of it from the rainbow-maned mare.

She glanced behind her to see that her human friends had decided that this was, indeed, a fine time to assist the Princess in trying to see just how much blood it was possible for her face to hold. The answer, as always, seemed to be: more. Flame Dancer was snuggling a doll against her face while Vista and Gallant complimented her purchase and the accuracy of the details while bystanders that hadn’t been swept out of the security perimeter took pictures.

Flame Dancer nodded in agreement but then looked up at the vendor with a stare just below Fluttershy intensity. “Needs a notepad accessory.”


Twilight felt her ears relax from their folded position as they walked further along the path leading deeper into the central park of the city. The cacophonous noise of the city lessened with each step away from Fifth Avenue. Flame Dancer hovered close, a little behind and to her left. Twilight thought she seemed a little somber since their departure from Brockton Bay and made a mental note to talk with her later. Thirty feet in front of them Skitter and Dragon strolled, engrossed in a quiet conversation and seemed to hold each others undivided attention. Twilight thought it was a miracle that neither had tripped or stumbled yet, but they had both seemed to avoid every obstacle in their way without thought. Further ahead Tattletale and Vista strolled beside the small lake while Kid Win and Aegis hovered above it off to their left.

Out of sight, but not quite out of hearing range she heard Uber and Leet once again proclaiming their arrival and asking the no doubt startled park goers to clear the path for “Their Royal Highnesses Princess Twilight and Princess Luna.” She had no idea where the pair had acquired the ceremonial armor they were wearing, nor the purple and pink surcoats, though they had disappeared for a time when the group was passing through the theater district, but she was quite sure their efforts were not appreciated by the concentric rings of PRT and police officers who were doing the same job much more quietly. She had a sudden vision and shuddered at the idea of the pair ever meeting Pinkie Pie, no matter her fondness for any of them.

Glancing behind herself she noted that Gallant and Clockblocker had slowed down a little to open some more space between them, and she thought she caught a glimpse of Shadow Stalker’s immaterial form floating through the trees to her right. She smiled at the pair and completed her visual circuit by glancing straight up. She picked out a multicolored streak that she was pretty sure was Legend circling the area and a couple of specks that were probably other members of the New York Protectorate or Wards. She felt the level of security was ridiculous, and the scrutiny that went along with it a little intimidating, but Luna seemed to take it all in stride. She had even complemented Uber and Leet on their armor.

They came to a pleasant stretch of soft green grass beside the lake. Luna detoured them from the path and settled down in the last light of the day by the water, motioning with her head that Twilight should join her. Twilight sighed as she lay down and felt the cool grass against her coat and the warm sun on her back. Her hooves were grateful for the break.

Traversing even a portion of a city this size on foot was no small endeavor. The tour had only stopped when they had somehow found their way to yet another “bar-cade” as well as brief stops at more serious attractions. She was pretty sure Luna had earned Uber and Leet’s unending loyalty with the natural talent she had displayed at gaming. Her favorite spot however, excepting the unvisited library, had been the Statue Of Liberty. The poem at its base still resonating inside her.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Luna had agreed, noting that it was no wonder New York was such a grand and teeming metropolis given such a creed as its guiding principle. They had left the major landmarks behind after that, Luna walking the streets almost at random, slowly zig-zagging their way towards the address they had been told would be their accommodations for the night. The grand building which now loomed over the trees behind them was apparently it. She once again couldn’t quite wrap her head around the trouble and the expense that was obviously being gone through for them. A hoof-nudge to her shoulder broke her out of her thoughts and she turned her gaze to the alicorn beside her. Once again a frisson of joy shot through her at the thought that Princess Luna had come for her, that she was right here with her.

“’Twas wise of these humans to make a place such as this, the city ’tis wondrous strange, but lacking methinks in places of quiet contemplation.”

“Yes,” Twilight smiled and looked around once more, “I don’t think humans hear as well as we do, but I think the city noise probably gets to them as well.” She hesitated for a moment, then continued. “Princess, do you mind if I ask, why did we do all of this today? I mean it was wonderful seeing everything and talking with the street vendors, and just seeing a city not in the grip of terror for the first time in a month, but I’m sure they would have arranged tours for us after the diplomatic meetings tomorrow. I think we probably ruined a lot of plans.”

Princess Luna smiled and subtly cast a silencing bubble around them before continuing. “Feh. Yes we suppose you are right. We will tender an apology for effort we likely rendered wasted with our jaunt, but we do not regret it. For one, we did not wish to see the sanitized pomp they likely would have selected for us. Better that we see them unprepared, things as they truly are. We wished to know better these humans, what they desire and hold scared, and thus get a more honest appraisal of their character, so that we might negotiate from an enlightened position. If we are to be entering into talks that may one day shape the relationship between our worlds, we needed to see more than what they would have chosen to show us.”

Twilight nodded, realizing that through circumstance and design, she really hadn’t gotten to experience much in the way of normal human interaction and culture since her arrival. She was struck once more by the savvy of the princess, and how telling her own lack of experience was.

“Now tell us Twilight Sparkle,” Luna interjected suddenly with seriousness, “what dost thou know of thy new form?”

Interlude 12 - Alexandria

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She fumed as she waited outside the Oval Office. The petty power play, whether it was the Chief of Staff or the President himself behind it, was beneath the situation. The world was being re-written as she was forced to sit here so someone could feel more important about themselves. She didn’t let any of this show on her face, however, she had long grown used to people disappointing her.

The door across from her swung open out of the white wooden paneling and the President’s secretary stepped into the room.

“The President will see you now, Director Brown.”

She stood up and walked in a purposeful stride towards the door, when she noticed the mostly concealed hints of commiseration on the secretary’s face she gave her a brisk smile that contained just the right amount solidarity in the face of stupidity and replied.

“Thanks, Cathy.”

She pulled the door closed behind her and walked towards the couch where the President and Chief of Staff were sitting. They looked up from their discussion and rose together, extending their hands. She politely shook with both and then the President motioned for her to take a seat across from them. She didn’t think the positioning of the seating was a coincidence, more power plays. She was almost sure the Chief of Staff was behind this one. Arranging things so he was symbolically on the President’s side and making her an opponent instead of a colleague. Friendly meetings here between more than two people almost always had a circular arrangement to avoid exactly that.

“Rebecca, I would apologize for cutting through the pleasantries, but I know you hate them anyway. What the hell is going on in New York? It certainly doesn’t look anything like the itinerary you provided me this morning.”

Years of practice allowed her to keep herself from sighing. Of course they wanted to start with the least consequential thing going on right now. “Upon landing, Princess Luna altered the plan.” An irreverent, ’Pray she doesn’t alter it further,’ ran through her head at the unintentional paraphrasing, but she continued without noticeable pause. “You’ve seen videos of her after the battle of Brockton Bay. It’s practically impossible to divert her after she has set herself on a course of action.”

“So we’re fine with letting her joyride around New York? It’s a security nightmare, and traffic has basically ground to a standstill in the entire tri-state area with too many people either leaving in fear or trying to get into the area in hope of catching sight of her.” Emmanuel said while President Barkley nodded along.

“Frankly sir, given what she’s capable of, and what happened the last time a being of unstoppable power visited New York? Lets be thankful for her comparative subtlety. My advice would be to adapt to it and start building contingencies in future plans based on her personality and actions to date.”

“Let her do whatever she wants. That’s your advice, Rebecca?” The President asked in a tone that bordered on mocking incredulity.

“What’s the alternative? Do you really want to risk antagonizing her in any way? Especially over something as minor as going off schedule and wandering around New York like a tourist?”

“That’s it right there, Rebecca,” the President said seriously. “Have we just replaced being at the mercy of one group of monsters with being at the mercy of more telegenic ones? Have we taken refuge from being stabbed under a giant Sword of Damocles?”

It was a good question, one she had herself, but she felt she needed to deflate the rhetoric a little. Barkley had a habit of slipping into speeches if you let him get rolling. “Been watching FNN have you?” The President let out a short bark of laughter and even Emmanuel cracked a smile. “Sir, for now, any shelter however threatening or unstable is a welcome change. The sword is over our heads, but we’ve been bleeding out for a while now. We’ve spoken about this, about how much damage the system can take before it breaks down completely. I know we’ve all tried to be optimistic about this in the past, but I think all three of us had our own estimates on how long we’d last under the status quo, I don’t know about you, but mine was about 20 years if we were lucky.” She paused and took a deep breath before continuing. “Regardless of how you want to phrase it, we have been praying. Praying for someone to win the power lottery, praying for someone to discover a weakness, praying for something, anything to appear that would change the game. Well, against all odds, something did. I’m not saying it’s without risk or consequence. There’s plenty of both to be had. The new game we’re going to be playing is dangerous and we don’t know all the rules yet, but its better than the one we’ve been losing for the past 2 decades.”

Emmanuel looked like he was about to speak when Barkley stopped him with a hand on his arm.

“That’s true enough. It was clear for anyone that really wanted to look that the wheels were starting to come off the global economy, and with it the political system. I did pray, fervently, for some sort of solution, for some kind of salvation. I didn’t expect the form it came in however, and now I’m thinking about gift horses and mouths.” Which was good for a couple of polite chuckles from the three of them. “However I don’t like being completely at the mercy of anything. We can’t count on the idea that this new alien power will always be aligned so nicely with our own interests. Tell me you’ve at least started working on contingencies.”

“Some, Mr. President. We’re starting to war game scenarios with our thinkers, but all of it right now is stuff I would file under long-shot, Hail-Mary, and ‘please don’t blow up the planet.’ Given the level of power Princess Luna has displayed, and ignoring for the moment whatever it is that Twilight Sparkle did, she could destroy the Earth on a whim. Fortunately after talking with her, my best guess is that something like that is not in her. As alien as they are, their thought processes are, for the most part, broadly similar to our own. I think we will make far more productive use of our time focusing on understanding both their similarities and differences, what their goals and morals are, and using that information to keep our interactions positive and leverage what good will we can create with her and her species.”

“Great,” Emmanuel sighed. “Kremlinology with aliens instead of communists.”

“So what do we know that my ambassadors and I can use before talks start in,” the President glanced at his watch, “Christ 18 hours.”

“You’ve read the executive summaries we sent over?” When both of them nodded she continued. “Then you know the broad strokes of it. If you imagine that Eidolon was the absolute monarch of a country comprised entirely of parahumans, and all the complications that would arise from something like that, I think you will have a decent idea of where Princess Luna is coming from. She is used to command, and having her commands followed with little question. If she makes a decision, it will likely be hard to change her mind later. I think she would take the breaking of an agreement badly, so think long term when negotiating and think twice before signing. Clever turns of phrase and anecdotes amuse her, dissembling and not being forthright with your intentions irks her quickly. She’s sharp and obviously used to politics. I wouldn’t try to slip one past her if I didn’t have to. Have a few amusing stories on hand for Luna, and a rare book for Twilight and you’re likely to start off with a decent amount of goodwill.”

“Thanks, thats helpful. Emmanuel, get someone on an appropriate book, and I’ve got a few family stories I’ve mined for politics before that should work.”

“Oh, and bring daisies, or have some delivered to their hotel suite,” Rebecca interjected quickly.

“Daises?” Emanuel asked.

“Twilight’s mentioned on a few occasions that they are her favorite.”

“Easy enough. At least one thing is in all of this.” The President glanced down at a notebook in his lap and looked back up somberly. “Speaking of Eidolon, do you have any leads on where he is?”

“We’ve been unable to locate him at this time. Given his abilities, he will only be found when he lets us find him.”

“What do you think about Ms. Sparkle’s statement that he’s connected to the Endbringers?”

She sighed. “I think it is true. They responded with unprecedented behavior to try and prevent that knowledge from being disclosed. I also think that it came as a complete shock to Eidolon. I have known the man for many years, and I am one hundred percent certain that he was unaware of whatever connection there is between him and them.”

“Have you asked Ms. Sparkle about the nature of this connection?” The President asked, leaning forward a little on the couch.

“We have not had the opportunity to speak privately with her about it, and as we unsure of what the answer will be, we felt it better to table it until it could be discussed in confidence.” She replied, as if he didn’t already know that.

“Find the time soon. I want to know what is behind that. It feels like a big puzzle piece to everything that has happened.”

‘Yes, it is,’ she thought before replying, ‘and I’m not sure if that is a puzzle you need to solve.’“I’ll move it to the top of our priority list.”

“Good. Ok, moving on to more concrete things. What’s the tally from the battle, and how affected is the Protectorate and PRT going to be?”

“Losing Eidolon, even if it turns out to be temporary, will severely effect our deployments. Eidolon covered a vast area of the southwest by dint of his power, and the fear of that power repressed villain and other criminal activity in his sector. We are going to have to shuffle a lot of personnel and put some of our heavier hitters on some kind of rotation until we can more permanently plug that gap or he returns. As Brockton Bay has effectively ceased to exist, we are likely going to cannibalize some of their personnel as a starting point once negotiations in New York are settled.”

She paused for breath and let her voice take on an appropriately somber tone.

“Armsmaster is our next biggest loss. He was instrumental in developing several technologies the PRT and Protectorate use on a daily basis, was a respected leader in the Protectorate and a powerful cape on the battlefield. Special mention of him should be made when going over those who sacrificed themselves in the battle. In a bit of a mixed blessing a few high-tier villains died. If we continue to have Endbringers, any high-powered cape loss is significant one, but if the Endbringers are a thing of the past, the fewer villains the better. The immediate presence of Panacea cut down significantly on the number of capes lost to otherwise fatal injury, and of course Twilight’s shield at the beginning of the battle saved dozens.”

“Overall, for an Endbringer battle, we got off light on the cape front. Twenty-nine dead. Civilian casualties are another matter. For Leviathan battles, this comes in around the median. Far better than disasters like Kyushu and Newfoundland, but worse than our best outings. There were very few survivors, even in shelters, in the urban core of the city. Considering the fact that this Battle featured two Endbringers, and resulted in one being destroyed? The numbers are just shy of miraculous.” She paused as if she were debating how best to say the next part. “For the city itself, well you’ve seen the pictures. If it was me I would devote some resources into cleanup and relocation, and declare the whole area a national memorial park.”

“Yes, we were thinking along the same lines. I already have the Department of the Interior working on a proposal. Alright. One last item of business and I’ll let you get back to it. The CIA and some of our allies’ intelligence services have been picking up some chatter indicating the CUI are very interested in our visitors, and are seeing what appears to be a relocation of some of their cape resources. It’s not much to go on, it may be nothing more than a variation on their normal paranoia, but I figured you should know. We’ve mobilized the guard in the tri-state area, ostensibly for crowd control and mundane security, and given them instructions to defer to the PRT in the case of a parahuman emergency.”

“Thank you, Mr. President. Hopefully they won’t be needed, but I am grateful for the intelligence and the assistance. I’m headed to New York tonight and will brief Legend and the director Wilkins on the possible threat.” She stood up and the President and Chief of Staff quickly followed suit. Shaking both of their hands quickly she walked briskly to the door and out of the office. All the while, her mind whirling around the possibilities of a CUI action of some kind.

If there was one thing a situation as delicate as the next couple of days didn’t need, it was a group of brainwashed parahumans in the service of a paranoid government taking an interest.


Forty-five minutes of traffic and security procedures later Rebecca locked the door to the small cabin of the private jet as the pilot leveled off and headed north. The muted roar of the engines thrumming through the cabin walls and set the ice in the glass beside her chair clinking. Without preamble, she turned around and said, “Door, Alexandria’s office.” Immediately after she finished speaking a vertical square appeared in front of her, and through it, her Los Angeles office. With a step she was there, and the doorway closed behind her. The sounds of Los Angeles’ traffic now replaced that of the jet as she walked briskly to the back of the room she opened a drawer and pulled out a freshly cleaned costume. Within moments she was changed, and a few more minutes was all it took to remove her makeup and change her hair style. While she worked, mental gears switched and her facial and body language took on entirely different cues. Years of experience had made the transition between her personas almost automatic. Putting away Rebecca in another drawer and locking it, Alexandria walked over to her desk and turned on her computer.

With a practiced motion of her arm, she swept her cape upwards as she sat down, allowing it to drape over the back of the chair. Leaning forward, she let the tinker-tech facial and retinal scanners perform their checks while a separate sensor in the chair checked her weight within the ounce.

A soft chime sounded from a speaker in the wall and prompted, “Pass phrase please. Fifteen seconds to comply.”

“Epsilon zulu thirty seven. My first thought was he lied in every word.”

“Accepted.” The hidden speaker’s reply was followed by the barely perceptible click of spray nozzles redirecting away from her position and towards the door on the far side of the room. She had learned over the years that there was no such thing as being too paranoid, especially when one dealt with parahumans.

She pulled up multiple windows displaying various secure communications from Protectorate leaders and PRT directors across the country. This included seven messages from Director Costa-Brown that she had sent earlier and now needed to answer or forward in order to maintain the electronic paper-trail supporting her masquerade. A few minutes of reading and responding delegated all but the most critical issues to those Protectorate members most well suited, or at least most conveniently located to handle the crisis of the day. She had just finished temporarily reassigning some of the more powerful and, more importantly, more competent capes from the relatively quiet northwest and southeast to cover Eidolon’s absence and reinforce New York when a gentle knock came from her door.

Only two people currently in Los Angeles had the access to knock on her door, and only after they had gone through several layers of security. Still, she brought up a screen that showed the outside of her office and keyed a command to activate the outside comm.

Rime was waiting outside, and when she noticed the light on the comm she spoke. “Pink elephant zulu ten. Laughter trapped in their frigid gizzards.” Alexandria typed a command and her door unlocked. Rime walked briskly inside, closing the door behind her. Her fur-trimmed blue outfit, while fitting with her ice themed powers, always struck Alexandria as somewhat incongruent in LA’s baking heat.

Rime settled into a chair opposite her without ceremony, but sat at stiff attention. It was her own method of salute. Alexandria nodded politely and Rime’s posture relaxed fractionally. Underneath her loyalty and crisp demeanor lurked a mild subversive streak that was only let out around those she trusted, like selecting whimsical security phrases to subtly mock their usage.

“I’ve already read through your report. How are the things that we don’t put in reports?” Alexandria asked in a tone carefully crafted to rest at the intersection of seriousness and commiseration.

“City’s quiet. I get the feeling everyone’s waiting for the other shoe to drop. Rosas Rojas are taking advantage of Carnival’s death to push further into East LA. We’re keeping an eye on it, but I don’t think we should intervene yet. The Wards are keeping a stiff upper lip, but John was well liked and his team in particular is taking his death hard.”

“Arrange a light rotation for them, maybe some fortuitous one on ones with some of the easier to talk to Wards from other teams.” Alexandria said as her eyes flicked down to her screen briefly and back up to Rime.

“Already done Ma’am.”

“I knew I left you in charge for a reason.”

“Thank you Ma’am. I take it I should expect your continued absence for the foreseeable future?”

“Yes, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave you even more shorthanded. Whisper’s getting reassigned to Houston.”

“Damn. Any word?” Rime asked.


“Shit. It will take a lot of capes to fill his shoes. Who else is getting robbed?”

“Northwest, and Miami mainly. I’m also stealing some others to provide special services for the summit in New York.” She typed a quick command. “I just emailed you a list in case something comes up and you need outside help.” Alexandria typed another command and logged off her computer, standing up as she did so. Rime followed suit. “Walk with me to the roof. I’m going to do a quick patrol around the city before heading Back East.”

“Showing the flag?” Rime asked as they exited the office and headed for the stairway at the end of the hall.

“Endbringers can be defeated. Unfortunately, that’s more than just good news. A lot of capes on both side of the fence are going to be thinking about how this changes things. I want everyone around here to think twice about any ideas they may have come to.”

“Thanks. That will help. I’ve been wondering who will be the first to do something stupid.”

“Rime,” Alexandria said as they stepped onto the roof, “someone already has. We just haven’t seen the consequences yet.”


Half an hour later she stepped out of another doorway and back into the plane, dressed exactly as she had been when she left, just as the pilot was informing her that they were on final approach into Laguardia. Within five minutes the plane was taxing into the PRT’s private hanger. Just outside, a helicopter’s blades started to spin up. The plane came to a stop and Rebecca waited a moment as the pilot exited the cockpit and released the cabin door.

She nodded thanks and made her way quickly down the steps to where Assistant Director Cox was waiting for her, clutching several folders tightly against her chest.

“Chief Director, it’s good to have you. As I am sure you are aware, things have been a little hectic today,” the taller woman said as she stepped aside and fell into place beside her. “Director Wilkins is waiting for you at HQ, and Legend should be there by the time we arrive.”

“Yes, just when I start to feel guilty about things like taking a helicopter to avoid traffic, I remember that I can still feel envious of those who fly and never have to see an airport at all. Any changes since I left D.C.?”

Rory handed her a manilla folder as a PRT trooper opened the door to the helicopter and they both climbed in. The officer shut and latched the door before running back to the hanger as the engine revved and they lurched off the tarmac. They each settled a pair of large sound-dampening headphones on their heads and plugged the attached cords into ports on the armrests of their chairs. Rory swung a microphone down in front of her mouth and picked up where the conversation left off.

“Things have quieted down a little now that we have our guests settled into the Plaza. We’re maintaining a five block cordon around the hotel where only official vehicles are allowed, and we’ve stepped up patrols in concentric rings around the hotel and at various higher risk locations around the city. We’ve shut down the 5th, 6th, and 7th avenue subway stations and closed the southeast corner of central park. This is, of course, causing bloody havoc with transportation in the city, on top of the problems caused by gawkers and celebrating crowds.”

“If bad traffic is the worst we have to deal with, I think we’d all agree that’s a win. Any noise from the local villain groups?” Rebecca asked as the Manhattan PRT building grew larger in the window.

“Not a peep that I’ve heard. Frankly, if you’ll excuse the cliche, it’s too quiet. I’m sure Director Wilkins and Legend will have more details on that.”

“Trust your paranoia. There’s too many schemers in this city for no one to have gotten some bright idea on how to use this to their advantage. Did you get the list Alexandria sent out of the capes she’s sending to reinforce?”

“Yes Ma’am. I can’t say that we weren’t hoping for more, but I understand how thin the Protectorate is stretched right now.”

“Let’s hope it’s enough.”

Rebecca spent the last few minutes reading through the briefing papers Rory had handed her. It was nothing she didn’t already know or suspect, but it wasn’t missing anything that the local PRT could conceivably have known about either. They had done their homework.

She took a moment to look out over the city from the mid-town skyscraper that housed the Manhattan PRT, the wind and the wash from the helicopter causing her hair to swirl wildly around her head. If she had her choice the summit would have been held in the middle of the desert, not in the heart of a city of eight million, but as always image and politics held sway over practicality. Turning away from the edge, she walked to a doorway guarded by four PRT troopers and an older Ward. She knew each of their names, and effortlessly recalled all the details from reading their service packets the last time she had been in New York. Micheal, the Ward, had a powerful aerokinesis ability, a good choice for powered support up here.

The troopers saluted her and directed her towards the security booth. A retinal scan and another passphrase got her to the elevator while a different passphrase got her and Rory off the elevator on the right floor. Rory quick-stepped ahead so that she could open a door to a large conference room. The view outside the windows was spectacular, but she only had eyes for the people who were arrayed around the table, a discussion already in full swing faltering as they noticed her arrival.

“-st. I don’t care what kind of perimeter you have set up, the Elite have shown time and again that that kind of security might as well not even be there if they are interested in what is behind it. Let me assure you that they are interested…” Mayor Addison trailed off, the last to notice the increasing quiet her entrance had caused.

Director Wilkins stood up from his chair and motioned towards an empty chair to his right. She headed that way as Assistant Director Cox closed the door and made for an open seat at the opposite side of the table. Besides the Mayor and Director Wilkins, Police Commissioner McClane, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, UN Ambassador Freeman, Legend, his second in command Prism, and a Major from the National Guard occupied the remaining seats. Regardless of the importance of the various people in the room, without word or gesture everyone present came to an agreement, the floor was hers.

She settled into her chair, poured herself a glass of water from the pitcher in front of her, and set the papers Rory had given her down. After taking a small swallow she addressed the room.

“Gentlemen, Ladies, First let me extend my thanks to everyone for the job done so far. While things might not have proceeded according to plan, nothing has exploded and the only injuries so far are those typical of any celebration involving too many people in too small an area drinking too much. Frankly, given everything, that’s a miracle. One I hope we can maintain for the next forty-eight hours. With that in mind let’s start breaking things down. Local parahuman threats, Robert?” Rebecca turned to her side slightly, addressing the New York Director of the PRT seated beside her.

Wilkins cleared his throat. “Yes, we were just discussing that as you came in. Of the major villain groups in the city, I believe there are two main concerns. Contrary to the mayor’s worries, I don’t think the Elite will make any sort of move right now. There’s too much attention, too many eyes focused on our visitors and the conference. Their strength lies in their subtlety. They’ll wait for the lights to go down before they make their move. The same goes for the Black Hands, the Dingos, the Easy Aces, the Fastballs, the Hopilites, the Judas Bunch, the Moonrunners, the Stonebreakers, and the Zulus. They may not be as subtle as the Elite, but they're smart enough not to draw heat from us right now. My only worry from that front is that the Moonrunners have already started using drawings of Luna in their tags, which might escalate tension between them and the other groups or prod one of the other groups into hitting some place where a kid drew a pony on the sidewalk. More concerning to me are the Adepts. Like the Elite, they tend to be smart operators, but the ponies and all of their talk of magic might push too many of their buttons for them to resist doing something. I don’t think they would try anything violent, but I do think they will look for an opportunity to have a discussion with them. They wouldn’t be above causing mischief or property damage towards those ends. Any of the local PRT and Protectorate can tell you how hard it is to pin down someone that manipulates time like Epoch does.”

He took a small sip of water before continuing. “The largest concern we have from local capes are the Teeth. The’ve been quiet lately, they like making statement attacks, and they have little compunction about violence and collateral damage. We’re directing a lot of our surveillance assets towards tracking their movements, but given the powers at their disposal, if they decide to make a move we’ll have a few minutes warning at best. The only thing we have going for us there is that they aren’t stupid nor are they inclined to be martyrs. They know the kind of response that they would be asking for. We can only hope that’s enough to deter them.”

“If someone isn’t deterred by the fact that one of the ponies in question moved the planet, I’m not sure there’s anything we are doing that will deter them further. Speaking of, what the he-“ Prism seemed to realize who she was in the room with and after a seconds pause continued in a more measured tone. “What are we going to do about pony retaliation if something happens? The city could use more green space, but I think people would object to a Brockton Bay style makeover.”

“We assist, we contain, and we try to de-escalate as fast as possible. That’s about all we can do if that situation comes up,” Rory responded. Rebecca nodded and spoke again to keep the discussion moving in the direction she wanted.

“So, about the best we can ask for as long as we are holding the conference anywhere with people,” Rebecca said with a measure of humor that elicited a couple of knowing chuckles from around the room. “Commissioner, what’s the situation in regards to unpowered trouble in the city?”

The police commissioner straightened in his chair as he was addressed and had a rueful smile as he spoke. “The organized crime that is still operating here are the ones that learned early on not to get involved in the affairs of capes. There won’t be any trouble on that front. What we have to worry about are the lone nut-jobs hoping to go out in a blaze of glory. We have everyone working overtime and are deploying using a plan modified from presidential visits. With the National Guard helping crowd control and filling in the gaps,” he paused and nodded to the major, “in as far as we can be prepared, the NYPD is ready.”

“Thank you, Commissioner. I took the liberty of dipping into the discretionary fund and have pre-arranged hot food and coffee to be catered for each shift change at each precinct for the duration. Let them know we appreciate the extra hours they’re putting in.”

The commissioner chuckled. “I’ll send your regards to the duty sergeants. If anyone ever wondered how you ended up as the head of your organization, you just revealed your secret.” That set off a round of knowing laughter, everyone in the room acknowledging a move by a fellow colleague in their world where practicality and politics so often intersected.

“Ambassador, Wendy, should we expect any surprises from our more familiar foreign dignitaries? They will, of course, be the ones with the most direct access to Twilight Sparkle and Princess Luna.”

Ambassador Freeman and Undersecretary Sherman, seated next to one another, had a brief discussion between themselves before Ambassador Freeman addressed the room as a whole.

“I don’t think we will need to worry about anything like a physical attack from any of the delegates. Now, do we need to worry about what they’ll say? Absolutely, but I don’t think there’s any way to avoid pricking ourselves on that particular thorn. The real question I have, and one I think everyone has been avoiding: We’ve all prepared the best we can against the threats and problems we’re familiar with. What have we done to prepare for the ponies?” He paused to let that sink in and then continued.

“I’m not talking about the threat of an attack, at least in the immediately foreseeable future. If that was on their agenda, I think we would have seen something different than we have from them by now. I’m talking about how they have upset the entire global power structure and political landscape, and I’ve been thinking about how their story seems just a little too neat.”

Some around the room we’re nodding in agreement with this. Others, including Legend, looked skeptical.

“What do you mean by that? Since both of their arrivals you’d be hard pressed to find anything even hinting of malicious action by either. Look, after being attacked by some of the worst our planet has to offer, Twilight Sparkle’s first action was to organize an effort to rebuild and revitalize Brockton Bay,” Legend rebutted.

“Yes, that’s just the kind of thing I’m referring to actually. I’ve read the briefing papers that the PRT has provided for the diplomatic corps. Isn’t it curious at all to you that Twilight first presented herself as something akin to a lost grad student, with convenient holes in her memory and an appearance that could not be designed to look more innocuous to us? She only broke this facade when ambushed by the Nine and she had no choice but to abandon it. Just how likely is it that someone can accidentally travel across space, time, dimensions, what have you and land somewhere habitable and populated? Then there’s the convenient timing of Princess Luna’s arrival. Twilight supposedly is lost among the cosmos, with no way to communicate with her people, but the moment she’s faced with a foe she can’t defeat alone, reinforcements arrive.”

He shook his head ruefully, as though acknowledging an opponent’s move as they took his queen from the board. “No. I don’t believe it. It’s a great story. It’s too great a story for it to be anything but. It’s a convenient and pleasant fiction for our consumption, and with the defeat of the Nine and the Simurgh it’s a fiction that our populace has been all too eager to consume. I’m not arguing that we’d be better off with the Simurgh still alive, not at all. What I am asking is this: If you dismiss the fairy tale, what truth remains?”

The room was silent for a moment, then everyone present tried to speak at once. Rebecca Costa-Brown stayed silent. She listened.

Long after the last meaningful thought had been shared, the meeting finally broke up, not out of any consensus that the conversation had long past reached the point of diminishing returns, but due to the various duties those in attendance could no longer put off. Another ten minutes of polite goodbyes ensued before the room contained only Legend and Rebecca.

A series of silent expressions that they had honed over their many years of working together were exchanged. Over the course of fifteen seconds of silent communication they stated their positions, disagreed, debated, and reached a compromise that would have taken the participants of the just disbanded meeting at least twenty minutes to arrive at. Anything further would need to be discussed elsewhere.

With a nod, Rebecca stood up and locked the door to the conference room. A few quick messages sent from phones to both of their subordinates opened up a small window in which they would remain undisturbed, barring a significant emergency. Rebecca pulled a small device out of the inner pocket of her jacket and swept the room once. Satisfied, she spoke.

“Door, Cauldron.”

A vertical square appeared instantly in front of her, and on the other side was a hallway with white walls and white tile, otherwise unadorned. She walked through and Legend followed. The moment they both were fully over the invisible threshold it vanished. Legend wasted no time before speaking.

“Just what the hell was that? I know Rebecca’s supposed to be the ruthlessly practical one, but letting that group walk away with a bunch of overblown and unfounded suspicions of the Aliens when we are going to desperately need them in the near future doesn’t seem like the smartest play to me.”

Rebecca didn’t slow her pace as she continued to walk down the hallway, but she turned her head slightly to respond.

“Everyone in that room got to where they are by being good at their job and canny political operators. Within the week each one of them would have come to conclusions similar to those of the ambassador. Any naysaying by me would have simply heightened their suspicions and merely made them suspect that I knew more than what I was telling them.”

“You do,” Legend said, deadpan.

“Quite. This way I maintain the persona they expect of me and also get to hear directly what each of them is thinking. It’s much easier to manage people when you cut out the guesswork.”


“They’re all smart enough to keep those thoughts to themselves, at least until the ponies in question do anything to validate them. Frankly, I share some of them, but lets wait for everyone.”

Legend let out a frustrated sigh but acquiesced to the request. A minute later they walked into a circular room with windows along the far wall looking out onto the vast uninhabited plains surrounding the only man made structure on this world. The vista was a welcome contrast to the endless white of the facility. Around a table, waiting for them, was the rest of their organization.

Standing and gazing out the window farthest from the doorway was a man with short blond hair wearing thin-rimmed glasses and a button up shirt. He was tapping a foot in a manner that might suggest impatience to those that were unfamiliar with him.

A dark-skinned woman wearing a long white lab coat was hunched over a laptop and occasionally typing something while a pale woman in a smart business suit reclined casually in a seat beside her, nodding at Rebecca and Legend as they entered.

“Okay,” Legend spoke as soon as he cleared the threshold of the room. “So we formed a global conspiracy years ago in the hope to tackle the problem of the exponential growth of natural triggers and the problem that villains would eventually swamp heroes in sheer numbers. We formed the Protectorate and manipulated governments and media all around the world to help contain and reverse those trends. Then the Endbringers came and the fact that everyday villains were eating society slowly from the inside became secondary to the fact that there were forces out there that could wipe out land masses and demolish whole cities on a whim. Every year that has gone by, we have fallen farther from our goals.” He paused and looked around the room, silently asking for any of them to dispute him. No one spoke.

“Now, when the very miracle that we’ve been hoping for, that someone would appear with the power and temperament to tip the balance back in our favor, shows up I feel like I’m the only one here happy about it. Am I missing something?”

“Perhaps we’re worried that we all are. Missing something, that is. Perhaps some of us are worried about our missing friend and the most powerful hero outside of Scion last seen having an emotional breakdown before vanishing over the Atlantic? Or perhaps some of us feel like the events of the past month are little more than the opening moves of a new game that we don’t know the rules to yet,” Doctor Mother looked up from the laptop as she finished speaking.

“More concerning is Clairvoyant. He can’t find Eidolon. Which has never happened.” Doctor Mother added. Legend and Rebecca both shifted slightly to face the man by the window who turned away from the view with a slight grimace.

“I’m afraid that world events have kept me far too busy to try any of my own methods to track Eidolon down,” Number Man responded, never ceasing his foot tapping.

“I trust that we will all do our best to find our erstwhile colleague moving forward?” Doctor Mother waited for everyone to nod before continuing. “Then let us make the most of our limited time to discuss things we do have information on. Let us start then with the information that led to his disappearance, Twilight Sparkle’s claim that the only person the Endbringers care about is Eidolon.”

“Truth. I ran some numbers from previous fights. It’s there to see now that I know to look for it,” Number Man said as he stopped tapping his foot and started pacing along the windows.

“I agree. His reaction to the news was shock, but there was realization as well. Something clicked, he knew it was true,” Rebecca added.

“So, not only have we failed in all of our objectives, but one of us, knowingly or not, was connected to the greatest threats humanity has ever faced. I am beginning to regret ever taking one of your formulas Doctor. You never understood his powers, I picked up that much. You’ve never told me how they work, I think I was afraid to know the answer to that question, but did you even understand it? If something like this was underneath your nose for decades, what else have you unknowingly unleashed into the world? What other unknown side effects like the Endbringers have we been the cause of? Saving humanity? We almost doomed it and we weren’t even smart enough to realize it! I think…I think we need to tell people what we know. More specifically, what you know.” Legend took a breath. “Maybe someone out there is as smart as you thought you were.”

Contessa scooted her chair forward and began to lean her mouth towards Doctor Mother’s ear.

“No!” Legend shouted and pointed towards the woman. “No, I’ve had enough secrets for awhile. I don’t know who you are, another thing I suppose I didn’t really want to know the answer to, but If you want to say something, say it to all of us.”

“Legend,” Rebecca said calmly, unruffled by his outburst. “Calm down and think about what you’re saying. Disclosing our existence would completely discredit the Protectorate. Everything we’ve worked for all those years. Can you honestly say that is something you want to see?”

Legend stared at her, conflicting emotions warring on his face before settling down. He took a breath. “No, I can’t say that, but if we can’t tell the truth maybe we can let some of the Doctor’s research fall into the Think Tank’s hands?”

“Letting that much information out to a group of thinkers would effectively be the same as full disclosure,” Number man responded.

“Then find a solution!” Legend retorted and gestured around the room. “Because what we’ve been doing, its not working.”

“Your objection is noted Legend. I even agree with some it. We’ll find a way forward. For now though, let us move on. Has there been any action or reaction to the Simurgh’s apparent demise from Leviathan or Behemoth?” Doctor Mother asked.

Legend let out a frustrated sigh, but appeared to settle down. Rebecca picked up the thread of the conversation.

“Dragon’s seismic and deep sea sensors indicate that both stopped all movement the moment Twilight Sparkle hit the Simurgh with that last attack. There have been no readings since that time,” Rebecca answered.

“Wait,” the Number Man said as he stopped his pacing and pulled a pen from his pocket. He started moving it as if he were writing in the air in front of him. After a minute of this he stopped. “If, as is apparent, all of the Endbringers are connected, and if Twilight Sparkle’s attack affected the Endbringers not present through that connection, could it not also be the case that anything connected to the Endbringers might also have been affected?”

“Like Eidolon you’re suggesting,” Doctor Mother replied.

“Yes,” he said and flicked the smallest of glances towards the floor. No one without Rebecca’s attention to details would have noticed it. Then she realized what he was implying and she felt a new dread settle in her stomach. The entity. Could Twilight’s attack have affected it? If so, if one chased that rabbit long enough, she could have theoretically affected every cauldron derived cape on earth. They needed confirmation on that, but they couldn’t discuss it now. Legend was already wavering. Any further disclosure, like where cauldron powers really came from, or worse how they tested them, would push him over the edge. She didn’t want him as an enemy. They needed his strength and image in their corner. She gave Number Man an almost imperceptible nod in return. Disturbing message received, we’ll talk about it later.

“That is a disquieting thought. Though if it was the price to defeat the Endbringers, David would have accepted it. I’ll see if I can’t get some kind of confirmation from some of our thinker clients,” Doctor Mother said, readjusting herself in her chair. “Staying on the topic of Twilight Sparkle. While she has appeared benevolent in temperament and deed since her arrival there are a number of very concerning issues surrounding her. Perhaps the most concerning is the apparent similarity between some aspects of her power and that of the Simurgh’s. She has even stated the Simurgh’s power was some kind of inversion of her own. That she was able to counter and defeat the Simurgh implies a facility with mental and emotional manipulation on a scale and refinement even greater than the Simurgh was capable of. If that is not enough for alarm, I am not sure what would qualify. She has already demonstrated the ability to completely rewire one cape’s personality. We have evidence that a subtler application of this power is responsible for the changed behavior of some of the villains and heroes present during her final confrontation with the Simurgh. And her defeat of Jack Slash demonstrates that this ability does not always deal with what we would consider positive emotions.”

“Can you hear yourself? You’ve somehow turned the fact that she defeated Jack Slash, the Simurgh, and possibly all of the Endbringers into a mark against her. Anyone with that kind of power can be frightening if you choose to look at them in that way, but do you have any evidence of malfeasance? Or is the fact that she’s cleaning up our mess without invitation enough to mark her evil?” Legend retorted.

“Don’t twist her words, Legend,” Rebecca replied. “That’s not what she said or implied. She’s not arguing that Twilight’s come for our brains. She’s saying that caution is warranted. We only know the barest details about her or her society and we only have their, possibly dubiously translated, word on that. I’m not saying that this is the truth, but for all we know mass mild mastering of the populace for better unity is an accepted practice that they don’t even blink at. What she’s saying is that it is foolish to take things at face value or to interpret Twilight or Luna’s actions through a human lens. Those actions might have very different meanings to them than they do us. We have to keep that in mind. To do less is to do those who trust us with their protection a disservice. Even if you believe there is nothing to fear from them, can you really risk letting your guard down?”

“Ok, ok. I just don’t want this to turn into a snipe hunt. Sometimes people, or ponies, are what they say they are. I think some of you,” he shot a pointed look at the Doctor, “have lived in the darkness so long that you’ve forgotten that most people don’t. Most people just want to make it home at the end of the day and have someone there who loves them. So while you plot and prepare for the worst, keep it in mind that your opponent might be nothing more than your own shadow. Speaking of homes and loved ones, it’s past time for me to go back to Arthur and Keith.”

With that, he turned and walked from the room. A moment later, the Number man nodded and Rebecca allowed herself to relax a fraction.

“If the world survives another year, I’m not sure Legend’s allegiance to us will. He’s starting to suspect that there is a lot more we’re not telling him than he assumed,” Rebecca said.

“A problem for tomorrow, we’ll deal with it when it comes. We have enough of today’s problems to worry about,” Doctor Mother replied. “Like the possibility that Twilight Sparkle’s ability has had some unknown effect on the entity and the agents still connected to it, or even more worrying: every Cauldron agent hosted or not. Number Man, I want you to accelerate the next scheduled batch of test subjects. Deviations from your models might tell us what if any effect there was.”

“Of course,” he replied.

“Further down the list, it looks as if my experiment in Brockton Bay was a victim of Twilight Sparkle’s first attack on the Simurgh. Contessa, were you able to recover anything of value?” Doctor Mother asked.

“Just one. The path had me place her in one of our off world cells.”

“And Riley’s project?” Doctor Mother inquired further.

“Following the steps.”

“Ending the threat from the Endbringers?”

“Path completed.”

Rebecca let out a breath she hadn’t been aware she was holding. One nightmare over, if only there wasn’t a larger one looming on the horizon.

“Killing Twilight Sparkle and Princess Luna?” Doctor Mother asked.

“122,368 steps.”

“That’s different than before.” Number Man noted.

“It changes, sometimes I get no answer at all,” Contessa replied.

Doctor mother spoke again, “Killing Scion?”


“Too much to hope that had changed.” Rebecca commented.

“Getting Twilight Sparkle and Princess Luna’s help in defeating Scion?”

“5,437 steps.”

‘That answer, when there was an answer, had changed as well,’ Rebecca thought.

“Keeping Cauldron secret from Twilight Sparkle and Princess Luna?” Doctor Mother asked.

“No Path.”

‘Shit,’ Rebecca thought.

11 - Repercussions (Part 1)

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“Now tell us Twilight Sparkle,” Luna interjected suddenly with seriousness, “what dost thou know of thy new form?”

As Twilight tried to process the non-sequitur, she noted that the princess had cast a privacy charm as she spoke. The air around them now occasionally sparkled as the magic suffusing it interacted with the matter and energy contained within the effect. With only a cursory examination of the working, Twilight could tell that the spell was more complex than the privacy charms normally employed by unicorns as it still allowed outside sound in. She started to examine it further, thinking how it could be restructured to avoid the sparkling, when a hoof nudged her gently in the side.

Blushing, she let go of the formulas trying to take shape in her head and refocused on Luna. “Um…I have wings now?”

“Verily, that is so,” Princess Luna said with mirth. “Hast thou perhaps noticed aught else?”

“I’m half a hoof taller?” Twilight replied with a sheepish shrug, not quite understanding what the princess was getting at.

Princess Luna’s right fore-hoof raised from the ground and made it halfway to her face before she gave a sigh and let it return to the earth. “What of thy magic? Didst thou not take notice of anything else in battle with those fell creatures.”

Twilight frowned and, with some distaste, tried to remember how her magic felt underneath the fear and desperation of her emotions. After a moment, her eyes widened and she turned her concentration simultaneously inward and outward.

“I…I…it’s so…it’s too much…it’s me, but it isn’t me…Luna, what…why…why? I’m not me anymore!” Her breathing sped up and she half-reared in instinctive panic before she was wrapped in a fierce hug of strong legs and soft feathers. She returned the hug, desperate for the princess’ solid form and reassurance. She let her thoughts slip away and took slow deep breaths filtered through the reassuring scent of Luna’s fur. She wasn’t sure how long they kept that position before Luna spoke again.

“Be at ease, Twilight Sparkle. Thou art thyself, no magic hath changed that, but for both good and ill thou art now far more than thou were.” Princess Luna said calmly.

Twilight sniffled a little, confusion and shock morphing into tears. “I…I don’t understand, Princess.”

“Nay, nor do we. Nor do we think understanding is possible, but we shall tell thee what we ken.” Princess Luna paused as she disentangled herself from the hug and shifted her position on the grass so that she was laying directly beside Twilight. She gently stretched a wing over the smaller mare’s back and after a moment continued speaking.

“Didst thou ever think it queer that Equestria’s Sun doth orbit the planet? For the seasons to require management? For Night and Day and thus all life to be dependent on two individuals?”


Princess Luna let out a melancholy chuckle, “Ha, ha. Of course thou wouldst not, ’tis all thou hast ever known. But ’tis strange and even unnatural. Long ago, long enough that even we sometimes wonder if ’twere but an imagined fancy, Equestria much resembled this Earth. Night and Day, summer and winter, they came and went as they pleased, without need or warrant from those of us that lived with them. How do you suppose such a system as the one thou hast known could have formed naturally?”

Twilight hesitated and thought about it, and as soon as she thought about it the answer was obvious, it couldn’t. “I, it couldn’t. I, I, remember asking I think, when I was young, but the adults used the voice, and I stopped asking.”

“The voice?” Luna inquired.

“The one adults use when you’re being silly, or naive, or stupid and they don’t want to say so.”

“Ah, we know of this voice. Often we wonder how far our ponies might have progressed were it not for such.” Princess Luna replied.

“But, if,” Twilight paused and collected her thoughts and condensed them into the question she really wanted to ask. “What happened?”

“Many things,” Luna replied and a sad expression swept across her face before she caught it and turned it rueful. “Far too many to be told of before yon unguided sun finisheth its decent. We suppose all could be rendered such: Discord in his madness ripped all natural order asunder and Sister and I in our hubris thought we could mend it. Doth thou recall our words when thou used the Elements of Harmony in battle?”

Twilight thought back, but it was hard to remember. At the time she felt as if she was being stretched across some vast distance, too thin almost to retain coherent thought. “You said, something, you said that, that harmony doesn’t have or recognize boundaries? That if I didn’t stop…That if I didn’t stop I would change everything!” Twilight whipped her head around so that she could look directly in the Princess’ eyes.

“Aye, thou seest it clearly now. Would that there had been someone to share similar wisdom with us. No one and nothing touched by Harmony comes away unchanged. For all our years and experience it remains mostly inscrutable to us, but this we have seen. For those able to take up its mantle, its acts are influenced, but not governed, by their desires. Long ago, after living a long nightmare of chaos, we and our sister desired order.”

Twilight lay still, the revelations having stunned her into immobility. It was too much to take in. It upended all she thought she knew about her home, her history, the princesses, and magic itself. At the same time it explained so much, all those questions and niggling doubts, all of those things that didn’t quite fit together. It was like realizing who the culprit in a mystery was and seeing the whole story in a new light because of it. There were quite a few things she still didn’t understand, but one stood out to her. The question that started this conversation in the first place.

“Princess, I, I’m not sure what to say other than to thank you for saving me from making, I’m not sure mistake is a big enough word, but something like that. But what does that have to do with…” She trailed off and shook her wings in emphasis.

“Thou art welcome Twilight. Glad we are to return the favor of thine aid to us in our dark hour. For thy question, we must again plead ignorance and say that all we know comes from our and our sister’s deductions, with little bedrock upon which to build. We believe that a rare few individuals, through quirk of mind, luck, and circumstance are able to forge, through the use of the Elements, a deep connection to the fundaments of magic itself. Upon our transformation we were no longer as we were, for we were woven into the tapestry itself, with our talents the thread. Tell us, what hast thou learned in thy studies of friendship since our sister sent thee unto Ponyville?”

Twilight needed hardly a second before she answered. “That friendship is one of the most powerful forces there is. Not only in the way that true friendships better the lives of the ponies involved and touch the lives of those ponies and those ponies connected to them in innumerable ways, but even more than that, in a very real way, magic at its most fundamental is the connection between everything. That connections between ponies are perhaps the most powerful expression of magic that exists because it has to be consciously created. The emotions, thoughts, and will of the ponies creating that connection resonate with and amplifies magic. It breaks down all known theories of magic and physics. You get vastly more out than can be accounted for.”

She blushed a bit as she realized she had perhaps let herself get a little carried away in her enthusiasm for the topic, but Princess Luna simply smiled.

“A fine answer, and a far better one than we could have given. Now what dost thou believe the consequences would be if an individual held sway over such a force, such an idea, like we and our sister do over the Night and Day?”

“I can’t even begin to…” Twilight stopped talking and looked up at Luna, first with confusion that morphed into incredulity, then dread. Luna simply stared back at her.

“You can’t be…you can’t mean…no!”

“Harmony careth not for pony limitations. With those so bonded, it joineth to a pony’s talent and magic and weaveth it into the fundaments themselves. With thee it hath found a partner more suited than all I believe have come before. For is not thy talent magic, and thus as thou spoke, friendship and the connections between all things?”

“I, It, it’s just not possible. Princess, I’m, I’m just, well…me.” Twilight stated, trembling once more.

“Indeed, as we assured thee when thou looked upon thouself. However what thou art, can no longer, if it was ever applicable, be just anything. ’Tis a frightful responsibility Princess Twilight Sparkle, but we and Celestia will be with thee and assist thee all that we can.” Princess Luna replied tightening her one-winged hug.

“Princess? I’m not…Can, can I give…there’s no way back is there?”

“Can one unbirth a foal? Nay, Twilight. More years than can be reckoned were spent searching for such an answer. Once one has merged with the fundaments of the cosmos, thou art a part of its tapestry forever.”

“What if we die?” Twilight asked, the thought springing up immediately.

“Even Discord feared finding the answer to that question. The universe would continue, this we are certain of. As great as we may be, we are but one meager bit of it that happens to think about itself. However, what happens when a part of the universe, no matter how small, dies? We do not know Twilight Sparkle, but we fear the answer and least of all for our own continuance.”

“Why me?”

“Who else? Destiny, luck, duty, our sister’s meddling? All of these, none of them. In matters such as these, looking for an answer is a mummer’s folly. Know this though, as grateful as we are to be free of our madness and our lunar prison, and as necessary as it was, for we could not be held forever, neither Celestia nor ourselves would have set thee upon this path had other avenues been available. Celestia knew that shouldst thou succeed in using the Elements, ‘twould be the beginning of a journey that could not be un-tread. She knew and though her reasons for such and for not informing thee were sound, she knew also that ’twas a disservice to you. Guilt is heavy upon her withers, and our own, for what is necessary is not always what is right.”

“I…I need some time to think.” Twilight said, standing up suddenly and startling Luna into standing as well.

“Twilight we-“

“No, I need time to…absorb this. It’s too big. I know it’s real, but it’s going to take some time for me to accept it.” Twilight said cutting off Luna’s response. “But nothing you have said is going to make me any less your or Celestia’s friend.” She stepped forward and threw a quick wing hug around Luna before turning and trotting quickly out of the privacy spell’s influence. As she made her way further down the shore of the lake, she caught the briefest glimpse of tears forming in the princess’ eyes.

11 - Repercussions (Part 2)

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Twilight trotted along the paved path, wanting space, but hoping to avoid drawing the attention a full gallop would have garnered. She knew without looking that this exercise in subtlety was pointless. Since the battle, there had always been at least a dozen eyes trained on her at any moment. Given gossip’s noted ability to exceed the speed of light and break causality, she was quite sure the fact that she was upset had already reached the far side of the planet and likely already spanned the distance to Equestria as well.

She came to a stop on top of a small stone bridge that spanned a narrow neck of the lake, noting her watchers’ attempts at not looking like they were concerned with her sudden movement and had just found their new positions more favorable by coincidence. She reared up and placed her hooves upon the stone railing, looking out over the lake. As she stared at the water, trees, and the towering buildings beyond she felt a wellspring of snark bubble up from the lake of confused emotions swirling around in her head.

“Dear Princess Celestia,

Today I learned that making friends can imperil the universe and that sometimes friends, even ponies you thought were the pinnacle of wisdom and intelligence, can be stupid enough to entrust the fundamental concepts of friendship and magic to an anti-social shut in, without asking!


Twilight Sparkle
Princess of What-The-Flank-Were-You-Thinking

PS: Nice touch sending your sister to break the news. Perhaps there exists another set of elements you forgot to mention? Betrayal, Deception, Manipulation, Selfishness, and Egoism with a sixth hidden element of Cowardice that only appears when you bring the others together?”

Twilight’s face contorted, the snark and disdain in it replaced with a wistful, longing sadness.

“PPS: Help.”

Twilight took a deep breath, bringing a hoof to her chest, and let it back out. She wasn’t sure if she felt a little better now that she let that out, or if she was just confusing resignation with catharsis. Part of her was thankful at least that Spike wasn’t there to send this particular letter off until she cooled down, while another part was equally resentful of the same fact. She was just starting to theorize about what would be required to craft a trans-dimensional message flame spell, which was in no way an intentional attempt to not think about everything that she should be thinking about, when Taylor walked up beside her.

“So, I’ve got about thirty-five tons of bugs under my control at the moment. I’ve found that a large number of problems are resolved with a sufficient application of insects,” Taylor said casually, cocking her head questioningly. The subtle background noise from the insects in the area increased noticeably for an instant before fading away again.

The sudden image of Princess Luna and Princess Celestia swarmed under a mountain of bugs startled a anxious laugh from her.

“Ha! Hic, I, well it might be satisfying, but I don’t think it would really solve anything. I’m not sure it’s something that can be solved really. I just have to accept it somehow, but I’m not sure I can,” Twilight replied, her wings fidgeting nervously.

Taylor stepped closer and threw one arm across Twilight’s withers, pressing against her in a warm side-hug.

“I think we’ve had a conversation like this before. Sunrise instead of sunset. When you can’t fix what is bothering you, work on something else. Go with your strengths.” Twilight smiled a little and leaned into the hug, grateful for the contact and encouragement. Then frowned as an unwelcome thought intruded.

“What if my strengths are the problem?”

Taylor, even through her mask, managed to convey incredulity. “Ok, I don’t know what you and Princess Luna discussed, but what you just said makes no sense. In a month you’ve done more for our planet than anyone I can think of has in a lifetime.”

“But-“ Twilight started to speak but Taylor interrupted her.

“No. Whatever this is about, you’re overthinking it. It doesn’t matter how strong you are or where your strength lies, what matters is what you do with the strength you have. What matters is who you are underneath that strength. You’re Twilight Sparkle, that’s enough for me.” She then flicked a lighter in her left hand and a small flame burst into a fireball that Flame Dancer jumped out of before extinguishing itself. The costumed girl wasted no time before hugging Twilight as well. Before Twilight could respond Taylor spoke up again. “She made me promise to call her as soon as I was done talking, because apparently it interferes with proper hugging.”

“Shh,” Flame Dancer whispered.

As the three of them stood quietly together and watched the last of the red fade from the sky, Twilight let the worries that were consuming her drift away. They would be waiting for her, as sure as Celestia would rise in the morning, but for now, in this moment, the only thought that remained was this: it’s nice to have friends.

Hours later, Twilight stood looking out of a large glass window at the city and park stretching out below her. The suite of rooms that had been provided to their…whatever you called the semi-official diplomatic hodgepodge and honor guard, was magnificently furnished and quite lovely. Twilight had found, however, that while efforts had obviously been made to try and modify things to better suit Twilight and Luna’s physiological differences from humans, there was only so much that could be done on short notice. Every passage and doorway was too narrow for a quadruped to turn around in without risking paintings or knocking into the walls. When combined with a ceiling height more suited to manors and palaces, it left her feeling like she was looking into a funhouse reflection of a noble’s house rather than the real thing. No matter how awkward the proportions were for her, however, she was sure they were worse for Luna. She was quite sure she had heard some old-equestrian curses while Luna was bathing that had probably peeled the paint from the room’s walls.

Still she was impressed by the thoughtfulness their hosts had put into the arrangements, especially the arrangements. Nearly every flat surface held at least one tastefully designed bouquet, many of which featured daisies prominently. She had been disappointed in the taste after longing for them for so long. Her first bite had been marred by a harsh chemical residue that she discovered covered most of the flowers. Some kind of preservative possibly that the hotel attendants had not thought of removing given the rarity of flowers in human diets perhaps. She apparently hadn’t hidden her grimace at the taste well, and she was afraid she had offended or insulted the dignified and polite attendant the hotel had assigned her given the quickly disguised shock that had passed over his face. He reminded Twilight of Celestia’s royal scheduling advisor and she wondered if a “butler” was the human equivalent of the title.

After she had given the butler leave and rinsed the flowers thoroughly, she found them a pale echo of the daisies they so closely resembled from her home. They lacked the distinctive zest of their Equestrian counterparts. It was the thought that counted, however, and it had not stopped her from consuming three of the most artfully made arrangements. Even a pale echo was a taste closer to home than she had since she arrived. Besides, it would be rude to let all of that food and effort go to waste.

She had steadfastly held onto her conviction to not disturb the beautiful bookcase full of what looked like delightfully thick and musty tomes of human literature in the fear that if she started, she would be unable to stop before dawn and the obligations that she would need to be fresh and ready for.

Just like that, her carefully planned innocuous musings had led her right back into deep breathing territory. There was simply no way the situation made any sense to her. She felt both too small and too big for what was going to be asked of her.

Either the humans were going to be negotiating an inter-species and extra-Equestrian treaty with a glorified librarian or they were going to be treating with an embodiment of the universe itself. Both ideas were patently ridiculous on their face. The whole idea of Twilight Sparkle as she now understood it was beyond ridiculous. She would bring, at the best, incompetence or, worse still, ruin to whatever she was involved in. What was she even doing here? What had Cele- No, deep-breath, deep-

“Twilight?” The soft voice of Flame Dancer from behind her caused Twilight to leap and twirl in the air, spreading her wings in an instinctual response to gain altitude. The result was two broken vases and a slightly bruised human and pony in an uncomfortable tangle on the floor. Twilight groaned and managed to untwine her legs from Flame Dancer’s. The human girl took the opportunity to rearrange herself into a cross-legged seating position that looked anything but comfortable to Twilight’s equine eyes. Before she could think any more on it, Flame Dancer’s hand found its way to the back of her neck and started a firm massage that drove that and, any other thought, out of her head for the next several minutes.

“You’re not going to mess up you know,” Flame Dancer said after slowly easing off the massage and turning it into a one-armed embrace.

“…What?” Twilight intelligently replied to the non-sequitur.

“You’re not going to mess up,” the girl beside her repeated. “You worry about it all the time. From the moment I first meet you, I’ve felt you worrying about it. The only time you’re not worrying is when you’re doing, and every time you’re doing, well, you’re doing just fine.”

“That’s…that’s not true. I’m not…I wasn’t prepared for this! Any of this. It’s too much for me and people keep dying or getting hurt, or cities I show up in get attacked by crazies and monsters! Come to think of it, I’m quite sure Celestia’s endorsement is the only reason I wasn’t run out of Ponyville long ago. Even before I came here I was a walking disaster. The Princess should have used the Elements on me! Discord, Chrysalis, Sombra, wheel-hating unicorns driven mad by dark magic, Jack, Leviathan, the Simurgh? Do I somehow unconsciously call monsters to me like an autistic pied piper of the Apocalypse? Are they just the introductory act to the destruction I’ll one day reap on my own, wholly un-assisted?!? Maybe my special talent is really destruction? I certainly destroyed the building I was in when I got my cutie-mark.” Twilight was halfway to standing again when she felt Flame Dancer’s grip on her neck tighten and her entire weight come down across her back. Her hooves slid out from under her and she landed on her barrel with an audible “ooph” that dazed her long enough for the girl to swing a leg over her back and seat herself completely on top of Twilight. Before Twilight gathered herself, Flame Dancer went back to working the knots out of the muscles of her friend’s neck.

“Stop that. Stop doing that to yourself. You’re the most wonderful pony or person I know. Just because bad things have happened to you or around you, that doesn’t make you bad. And they only happen so much around you because I’ve never seen you turn away from someone in need. Even if you don’t think you can help, you always try anyway. You’re always there. The monsters aren’t following you Twilight, you’re chasing them down.”

“No…I, I mean…you’re just saying that because I broke y-”

“Shh. Just listen to me, ok?” she asked as she worked her hands through Twilight’s mane. “I know you worry about that too. I’ve seen the looks you’ve given me when you thought I wouldn’t notice. After we fought the Simurgh, after you talked with Luna. I, I am different. There’s no way I couldn’t be a different person from who I was and be safe to be around. You healed a hole in me that was filled with ashes and pain and put love and acceptance in its place. I’m not that girl any more. She’s gone, but I remember her and I remember how she thought and there’s nothing she wanted more than what you gave her-me. I have friends. I’m loved and cared for and I love and care for them in return.” Flame Dancer took a deep slow breath and let it out, closing her eyes as a smile spread across her face. “If I concentrate, I can feel it. I can feel you and Taylor. I can feel Princess Luna and the others. I can feel them caring, and worrying, and bickering, playing. I have friends and it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever felt and you’re the one that showed me it was there, just waiting for me in the light.”

Flame Dancer took another breath and let it out before continuing in a somewhat lighter tone. “So stop putting my friend down. Stop digging for the dark parts of yourself and stop straining so hard to hear the bad voices that live inside of you. Because you’ll find them. I don’t think anyone lives without them, but the dark is so small next to your light Twilight. I’ve seen it. You’re so bright it hurts to look at and I still can’t turn away. As for the voices, you showed me that they’re no match for the voices of your friends when you’re willing to listen to them.”

Twilight released the breath that she’d been holding, let her friend’s words soak into her, and felt some of the tension that had been building up inside her unwind. There was no doubt that Flame Dancer was unbelievably biased when it came to her, possibly unhealthfully so. At the same time there was no doubting the sincerity of the girl. There was no duplicity in her, something Twilight was sure was true both before and after her exposure to the Elements. Flame Dancer was right about one thing. Even if she couldn’t trust herself, she could trust her friends. They wouldn’t let her fall. And quite possibly she could convince one or two of them to help her practice her speech tonight so she wouldn’t look like an idiot tomorrow.

Twilight smiled. She might not be ready to take on cosmic responsibility, but lecturing a captive audience? Yeah, she could do that.

“Flame Dancer?”


“Find me some note cards.”