Stability of the Past: The Beginning

by GoodieTwo-Shoes

First published

When the spirit, Chaos, creates something that is too powerful to be on earth, will the planet every find a balance between harmony and chaos?

The god-like being, Control, has given the planet - once filled with simple-minded creatures - a second change. His spirit apprentices, Harmony and Chaos, now have the great opportunity to give this planet a balance of their two forces by bringing life to it once again. But when Chaos oversteps his boundaries, the stability of the planet is in serious jeopardy.

Rated Teen for safety and possible later chapters.

Chapter 1: A Planet Reborn

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A newly recovered planet emerged from the darkness of space. It had previously been inhabited by giant reptiles known as dinosaurs. The occupants had been uncivilized and unruly. The planet had been complete chaos, so its inhabitants had been destroyed. Nothing was left behind.

It was now time to give the planet a second chance. Blue with water and brown with barren earth, it was completely lifeless once again. Not even a single blade of grass had broken through the dirt-covered ground.

Control, the god-like creator of this planet, looked down at his creation with his usual blank expression. His circular form, exactly half black and half yellow, orbited the giant sphere as he carefully observed every inch of it. His cloud-like body glowed with green light, as did his focused eyes. Satisfied that his creation was perfectly balanced, he called for his spirit-like apprentices.

“Harmony. Disharmony,” Control calmly called.

Two smaller figures materialized in front of him. One was oval-shaped and glowed with yellow light. Her body was the color of a rainbow from top to bottom. The rainbow started with pink and was followed by orange, yellow, white, blue, and purple. The other figure was bell-shaped and radiated black darkness. His form was colored like a rainbow as well, but it started from bottom to top. His colors looked as though the light had been sucked out of them: gray and dull. Their bodies resembled clouds as well. They both had eyes that matched their mentor’s in color. Her eyes were bright and just, and his were dark and mischievous.

“I asked you to call me Chaos,” Disharmony seethed, “I don’t want ‘harmony’ in my name.” Pulling his stubby arm out, he hid his mouth and whispered in Control’s non-existent ear, “It’s a girl’s name.” Harmony rolled her eyes. Chaos assumed his original position and said with a sideways smile, “Harmony is a dumb name anyway.” Harmony made a face at him and shook her head with a sigh. “Besides, I don’t want to be associated with anything harmony-y.”

“It’s harmonious,” Harmony corrected with another sigh. “I believe Control called us here for a reason.” She directed her attention back towards Control. “Sorry, sir,” she apologized with a small bow.

“It is time to bring life to this planet once again,” Control announced, “You two are now ready to complete this task on your own.” Harmony’s face showed her uncertainty. Chaos, however, was ecstatic. He bounced in place.

“YES!” he cheered, “Finally, we get to do some real stuff.”

“Pardon me, sir,” Harmony politely said, “I don’t mean to disagree, but are you sure we are ready to bring life to an entire planet?”

“Yes. You both have practiced under my watch for a long time now. It is time for you both to move on to the next step,” he said evenly.

“Yes sir. If you say we are ready, then I must agree.” Harmony weakly smiled.

“Come on! Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!” Chaos exclaimed. He was now bouncing in circles around them.

“Could you please show a little patience?” Harmony said with annoyance.

Chaos stopped bouncing and made a thoughtful face. Then he simply answered, “No.” He continued bouncing.

“You’re impossible sometimes,” she said as she narrowed her eyes.

“No. I’m impossible all the time,” he said with a mischievous smile.

“Ahem -” they both turned back towards Control “- You will both go down to the planet and create which ever types of living beings and plant life you wish. However, the creatures and plants must have stability. There is to be an equal amount of harmony -” Control’s eyes moved towards Harmony “- and disharmony -” he looked at Chaos “- The planet and its inhabitants need to have both, but they must be in balance. Once you both agree that this stipulation has been met, you will come back to me, and I will provide the creatures with souls.” Harmony and Chaos looked at each other. She wore a worried expression. His was one of repulsion.

“You want me to work with her?” Chaos asked in disbelief.

“I wouldn’t usually agree with him, but he’s right. I can’t get him to cooperate with me,” Harmony respectfully complained.

"Now Harmony, you should have more faith in yourself,” a new voice kindly counseled. Harmony turned around. Then she smiled.

The voice belonged to a bell-shaped creature that resembled Chaos, but her height matched that of Control. Her white cloud-like form was marbled with light blue, which matched her glow. Her green eyes were very feminine and mysterious. She smiled kindly at Harmony and floated over to Control. His face showed a slight bit of irritation.

“Hi, Destiny,” Chaos greeted her eagerly. “Could you tell Control that me and Harmony cannot work together?” he said with spite as he eyed Control. Control’s eyes slanted slightly and the corners of his mouth dropped a little.

“Hum hum,” she laughed, “I’m afraid you two must find a way to cooperate.” Chaos’s face dropped, while Control mustered a small smile. “Control is correct. This planet does need stability. Without it, it will spiral out of control once again.” Chaos grinned evilly. “You, Chaos” – his smile dropped, and he turned towards her – “are designed to create disharmony, just as Harmony is designed to create harmony. You both must bring balance to this world. It is your destiny.” She smiled down at them. They both were in awe.

“Ahem -” they shook their heads and looked back at Control “- As I said, it is time for you two to go,” Control said steadily. Harmony nodded once. Chaos sighed. They dematerialized leaving behind sparkles of yellow and black.

“Must you interrupt me?” Control asked evenly while looking forward. “I had everything under control.” She simply laughed quietly.

~~~~~~~~~~

The two spirit-like apprentices came into existence in an empty grassless field. Hovering above the ground, they looked around at the seemingly endless landscape. This was the first time either of them had been on a planet, and it was…

“Boring,” Chaos stated. “This” - he emphasized while waving his stubby arms - “is boring.” He slumped down.

Harmony said with a sigh, “That’s why we’re here…” She spun into the air and shouted while spreading her arms out enthusiastically, “…to bring life to this planet!” Chaos smiled. She floated back down to Chaos’s side. “Okay. I’ll make my harmonious creations over here -” she pushed him several feet away and moved back to her spot “- and you make your chaotic creations over there.” She smiled and turned away. Chaos frowned at her back.

“Fine!” Chaos spat, “I didn’t want any of your harmony getting on my chaos anyway.”

“Precisely why I put you over there,” she said cheerfully with a smile.

Chaos scrunched up his face wondering if she had tricked him somehow. Then he smiled happily. “Good!” He turned away as well.

Harmony decided to start small: something easy. She pulled out her stubby arms and waved them in front of her. Her body glowed brighter. A small yellow ball of light formed in front of her. It grew a little bigger and burst into sparkles. The sparkles cleared revealing a little, fluffy, gray animal with long ears and big feet. Harmony smiled at its cuteness. It was perfect! It was a completely normal and symmetrical bunny.

She glanced over towards Chaos. He obviously decided to start big. There was a giant explosion of black sparkles. It left behind a large odd-looking creature. It looked like a lion, but it had big dragon-like wings protruding from its back. Its tail looked like it belonged to a scorpion. It had large pointy ears and bulky front legs. It also fashioned huge fangs. Chaos smiled proudly at his manticore.

Harmony shook her head and turned back to her work. She gave her bunny a family and a burrow for a home. The ground around the bunny hole glowed yellow and shook. Several trees sprouted out of the ground. She finished it off with a lawn of grass, clover, and a few yellow dandelions. She smiled with pride and turned back towards Chaos.

He was surrounded by a variety of weird creatures. There was a scaly green chicken with a long tail and dragon wings. Beside it stood a wolf made of lumber. There was a two-headed creature with a snake for a tail. One of the heads was a tiger head, and the other was that of a goat. There was a crocodile that appeared normal at first, but, upon closer inspection, it was obviously made of rock. But the creature that Harmony was most concerned about was the huge green reptile with wings.

“Please, tell me that is not a dinosaur,” Harmony begged as she approached Chaos.

“Of course not,” Chaos said with a way of his stub hand. “It’s a dragon!” He smiled excitedly.

“A dragon?” she asked. “That’s practically the same thing as a dinosaur.” She floated around it in observation.

“No it’s not!” he protested from the ground, “It has wings.”

Harmony floated back down and landed in front of him. “What about pterodactyls? They had wings,” she pointed out calmly.

He frowned and opened his mouth to argue, but he had no rebuttal. He crossed his arms and grumbled, “It’s not a dinosaur.”

“I’m not sure Control will be okay with this,” she said with concern. Chaos made a face. Then he grinned and floated over towards the bunnies. He pulled out his stub, and his black glow expanded. A black ball formed over one of the baby bunnies’ heads and burst.

“What are you doing?” she asked with worry. On top of the little bunny’s head between its ears were two tiny deer antlers. “Chaos!” she screamed. “What did you do?!”

“I improved it,” he said with a proud smile.

“Improved it?! It looks ridiculous!” She spun around it in repulsion holding her head with her stubs.

He dramatically gasped and covered the lifeless bunny’s ears, “How could you say that!? You’ll hurt his feelings.” He soothingly patted it on the head.

She sighed. “Even if he had a soul, he wouldn’t be able to hear or even see me. We are just spirits to them. Now change him back!”

“No! I like him better this way.” He picked up the odd little jackalope and hugged it tight.

“We are supposed to be cooperating and compromising, not messing with each other’s creations!” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Now, I feel that this bunny should be harmonious and normal. He is my creation, so I believe I should be the one to decide what he looks like. I therefore kindly ask you to please remove the antlers.”

“I thank you for your kind words,” Chaos said politely while placing the bunny on the ground. Harmony smiled. “But I must say…NO!”

Her smile fell. “Chaos! You…I…ugh!” she staggered angrily. He chuckled delightfully. She sighed loudly. “Just go back over there and give those creatures a home,” she ordered while pushing him back to his spot. She floated away steaming. He chuckled some more before resuming his work.

Chaos grew his creatures a dark forest as a place to live. He added some odd plants, even some that could move. He put in a raging river and tossed the rocky crocodile in it. He multiplied the creatures he had already made and created some new ones. Some of his creatures were young and some were old. He refused to call them a family, however. Families were a harmonious thing. Harmony pointed out that the baby mammals and birds would need to be cared for until they were old enough to care for themselves. The reptile eggs would also need protection until they hatched. He reluctantly gave the mothers just enough maternal instincts to care for their young, which would only last long enough for the babies to grow up and the reptilian eggs to hatch.

Harmony’s creatures, however, were very family oriented. They were kind and caring. Some of them even lived in packs or herds. Chaos was able to convince her to at least give them a little variety. Her squirrels, for instance, came in red, gray, and brown. She gave them a nice, quiet, calm forest as a home. It had a small river that slowly flowed through the trees. She filled the forest with birds, squirrels, bunnies, and insects. She also made some predatory animals, like wolves, bears, and snakes. She put them far away from the little animals. Sadly, death was part of life, but she could at least try to prolong the inevitable.

They both added some hills and mountains to the area. They formed some clouds in the sky and covered most of the remaining ground with grass. The area seemed complete. Harmony floated up into the air to get a better look. She frowned. The area was completely surrounded by Chaos’s forest. Her creatures would be stuck in the giant oval or have to face the dangerous chaos creatures. Chaos joined her in the air. She gave him a sideways glare. He looked down at their work and then smiled toothily at her. She shook her head.

“This seems pretty good,” she said, “But somethings missing.”

“What?” he asked. “Oh, I know! We need more chaos riiight here” - he motioned his stubs around Harmony’s area.

She gave him a disapproving look. “No,” she said. He dropped his stubs down. “It needs…ponies!”

“Ponies?” Chaos raised one eye ridge.

“Yes! -” she smiled and floated back down “- It needs some creatures to control this area…creatures who are more sophisticated…creatures that can help keep this place in balance!”

“Ponies?” Chaos repeated. “I thought we weren’t supposed to be making any creatures that lived here before.” He followed her as she descended downwards. “How are ponies supposed to control anything anyway? They’re no smarter than the rest of these creatures.”

“Sure they were,” she said as she reached the ground. “You just didn’t see their potential. They made tools and built fires! The dinosaurs and other creatures never did that.”

“Still, you want this world to be run by ponies?” he asked as if she were crazy.

She glowed brighter and pulled out her arms. “Well, not the whole world. I’m sure we can make some other creatures as well that can keep the balance and build things and talk and…”

“Hold on,” Chaos stopped her with a grin, “You want to make smart ponies that control the world and can talk!?”

“Yes,” she said evenly.

Chaos fell to the ground in a fit of laughter. “Ha ha ha…you’re-you’re…ha…kidding me…he…right!?”

She stopped and frowned. She looked down at him seriously and said, “No. I think ponies are intelligent and kind and perfectly capable of controlling their own land.” She smiled sincerely. He continued laughing. “They just need a little help.”

She raised her arms and glowed brighter once again. A yellow ball of light appeared and burst. Once the sparkles cleared, a golden yellow stallion was visible. His mane and tail were brown, short, and curly. His eye color matched. Chaos raised his head and looked at the male pony. Then he fell back over laughing. Harmony ignored him and created another pony. The mare was creamy white. Her main and tail were blonde, long, and wavy. Her eyes were baby blue.

“Ahem.” Harmony stood over Chaos, who was still rolling in laughter. He gradually stopped laughing and pulled himself up. He floated up next to her and looked at the pair of ponies. He started giggle. She gave him a look. He calmed his giggles down until just a few escaped. “These ponies are not like the ancient cave ponies” – she floated behind them – “These ponies are special. They are more intellectual, and they have a sense of harmony.”

“Stop!” Chaos interjected putting one stub up, “Harmony? These ponies have harmony?” He floated around the two new creatures.

“They have…um…underdeveloped harmony,” she said with a smile, “It’s in their blood, but they will have to learn how to bring it out and use it.”

Chaos made a face. “That’s not fair. Why do you get to have ponies with harmony?”

“What do you mean?” Harmony asked, “I have made many other creatures with harmony in them. These ponies just have a better sense of what harmony is. They just don’t know it yet. Besides, you have plenty of creatures with chaos in them.”

“Yes, but mine don’t rule the world!” he yelled dramatically.

“They don’t rule the world” – she rolled her eyes – “They just control this part.” Chaos frowned. “Don’t worry, they won’t step…um…hoof into your forest.” His expression didn’t change. “Would you feel better if you had some chaotic creatures control some areas of this world?”

He smiled and gasped. He quickly frowned and crossed his stubs. “Maybe.”

“Fine, but your creatures better not interfere with my ponies,” she warned.

“Fine, but once they have souls it’s up to them what they do,” Chaos said with a grin.

She knew he was right. Once any of these creatures had his or her soul, Chaos and Harmony had little control over them. Control could communicate to them telepathically, but he rarely did it in the past. Destiny always had and will have indirect influence over the entire planet and its inhabitants. All Harmony could do was hope Chaos’s creatures would leave her creatures alone. It was only fair to allow him to have some intelligent creatures as well.

“Fine,” she simply said.

She made some more ponies of all different ages. She took Chaos’s advice and gave the ponies many different bright and colorful hues. She actually thought they looked cuter that way. She placed the ponies in an empty field north of the small forest and hills she had created. Here they had room to build houses. The trees of her forest could provide wood, as well as food.

Chaos floated nearby, impatiently watching Harmony at work. He floated around in circles, trying to occupy himself. He counted all the ponies as Harmony created them, but that was too tedious for him. He tried to twiddle his fingers, but he didn’t have any to twiddle. He just had too boring stubs at the end of his stubby little arms. He could give himself fingers, but it wasn’t worth it. He’d still be bored.

There was nothing he hated more than waiting while someone else had all the fun. He frowned and looked at Harmony as she made another pony. Then he got an idea. With a mischievously smile, he quietly floated over to one of the mares. Her pink back glowed black. The black left behind a pair of matching feathery wings that folded over her sides. He snickered and floated over to another pony. Each pony he floated past grew a pair of bird-like wings.

Harmony heard his giggling and turned to see what he was up to. To her horror, about a third of her ponies now had wings.

“Chaos!” she screamed, “Stop that this instant!” She quickly floated over to him and snatched his stub.

“Hay!” he shrieked, “Let go of me!” He jerked his arm free and floated back slightly. “I’m making improvements.” He smiled with glee.

“Not this again,” she sighed, “We’ve already had this discussion. Now please remove those wings” – she pointed at the abominations.

“So, you don’t want me to put wings on ponies, but you didn’t care that I put antlers on half of your bunnies?” he asked with a serious frown.

“You what!?” she yelled and quickly floated into the forest to check on her bunnies. Chaos watched her leave. Once she was out of sight, he cackled and rubbed his stubs together.

A few minutes later, Harmony floated back into the field. She said as calmly as she could, “Chaos, please remove the antlers and win…” She stopped. He jaw dropped and her eye twitched. Another third of her ponies had not wings, but horns on top of their heads. Chaos turned around and smiled cheerfully at her.

“You like it?” he asked sinisterly. “The ones with horns can do magic!” He smiled excitedly.

“Agh! Chaos, remove all these imperfections now!” Her yellow glowed intensified and grew with rage.

“No. I think I’ll leave them this way,” he said evenly while looking at his improvements.

“Chaos!” she seethed, her glow turning slightly red.

“They are much better this way. They can fly” – he floated over to a winged pony and flapped her wings – “and they can do magic -” he flicked the horn of a stallion. “Think about their potential now!” he said enthusiastically, “They can soar over the mountains and all the way up to the clouds! They can use magic to build extraordinary homes and buildings!” Harmony’s glow died down. She looked at him with a serious and thought-filled face. “It’ll be so chaotic! Ponies will be flying through the sky and conducting magic at their will, while the sad little normal ponies will be stuck on the ground with no magic!” He laughed darkly, and his black glow grew. “Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” he laughed, throwing his arms up into the air. Harmony frowned.

“Whoa there killer,” she said as she put her stubs on his shoulders. He stopped and looked at her with a scowl.

“Wha?” he complained.

“Let’s not spiral this world back into complete chaos again,” she said calmly. He frowned and dropped his stubs. “But you do have a point. With wings and magic they can accomplish so much more,” she cheered enthusiastically as she spun away from him and looked out at the ponies. “Your improvements are actually…well…improvements,” she laughed. His eyes slanted angrily and he opened his mouth to speak. “I think I’ll let you keep the antlered bunnies.” He smiled. “Come on. Let’s go make some more creations,” she said happily. She grabbed his arm and they disappeared.

They traveled all over the planet, leaving life everywhere they went. They created a desert land ruled by bison. They gave a snow-covered land to the yaks. They constructed a large mountain to house one of Chaos’s creations. They were half eagle and half lion. In a land far from the ponies, Chaos created more hybrid creatures. Some stood up-right and had lion-like manes and tails. They also had bat-like wings. The other creatures of the land stood on four hooves with a horse body. Where the head would be was an erect body with arms and hands. They had bull heads with large horns. Chaos and Harmony even went underwater to create life. They made sea ponies, which resembled the other ponies, but had fins for forelegs and the bottom halves of their bodies were tail fins.

They materialized a distance away from the planet. They sluggishly circled the globe and observed all their hard work. They nodded to each other in agreement - far too tired to talk, let alone argue. They disappeared to go back to Control.

~~~~~~~~~

The two worn-out little spirits appeared in front of their mentor. Their glows had all but gone out.

“We are all done, sir,” Harmony said tiredly. Chaos fell over, exhausted.

“Good,” Control simply said. He looked down upon the planet. Harmony bit her lip and fiddled her stubs. Chaos didn’t move. He just lied there, too drained to even look up. Control took his time observing every nook and cranny. He orbited the planet, frequently focusing in on certain areas of the globe to observe them with more care. He checked the air, land, and water for balance. He finally backed away. He raised his eye ridges slightly, a little surprised at how well they had done. “Very good,” he merely stated.

Harmony smiled slightly. She was hoping to get more praise out of her reserved mentor. Chaos scrunched his face and raised his head to speak. Harmony quickly covered his mouth.

“Thank you, sir,” she said, “We are pleased with your approval.” Chaos just grumbled and dropped his head back down.

“You both have created a fair balance of chaos and harmony,” Control continued, “These creatures will do much better than the previous inhabitants.”

“Come now, Control,” Destiny chimed as she appeared. “I believe they have done wonderfully.” Harmony gasped quietly and smiled.

“Thank you so much, madam,” Harmony beamed. Her glow brightened a little.

“Thanks, Destiny,” Chaos said with gratitude while sitting up. He continued, speaking with accusation now in his voice, “I told Harmony the dragons and antlered bunnies and winged and horned po…humhhu -” Harmony covered his mouth.

“He…he,” she awkwardly laughed.

Chaos pulled her stub away and said, “What?! He’s already seen everything we did, and he gave it his ‘Control Stamp of Approval’” - he air quoted - “that you so desperately wa…”

“Shh…shh…shhhh!” she quickly shushed him. “I…um…we…ah…he he,” she babbled, her glow turning slightly pink. She looked down.

“Hum hum,” Destiny laughed, covering her mouth. Harmony glowed pinker.

“Ahem -” Control gathered everyone’s attention, “- It is time for the giving of the souls.”

He floated up high above them, his green glow expanding. His light intensified. The two spirits shielded their eyes. White, transparent, and sheet-like lights began flowing from him. They drifted down towards the planet. Once there, they quickly scattered out and shot into their proper vessels. Harmony was astounded. Her mouth wordlessly awed as she peered down in wonderment. Chaos smiled at how chaotic the souls looked, weaving around each other and every obstacle. He secretly wished one of the souls would wander into the wrong body. That would be hilarious! He smiled, rubbing his stubs together hopefully. Destiny just smiled up at Control. She always loved to see him this way.

Chapter 2: New Life Begins

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The sky was blue and blotched with fluffy white clouds. The sun was making its way through the sky. Exhausted and drained as she was, Harmony still performed her usually duty of raising the sun. Lucky for Chaos, he did not have to raise the moon or bring out the stars until that night. He had time to rest and recharge. Much to his dismay though, all the souls had found their proper vessels. The planet was finally alive with curious new creatures. Some looked around inquisitively, wondering where they were and what was happening. Other ran, jumped, swam, or took flight immediately, ready to explore the new world.

The first bunny that Harmony created stuck her pink little nose up, sniffing the fresh air. Then something bumped into her. She quickly turned around, unsure if it was danger. It was another bunny like her, but she was smaller, younger. Instinctively, she immediately knew she was the little bunny’s mother, and she was to take care of and raise her. Using her head, she lovingly pushed her to her soft, little feet. The little bunny looked up at the larger one and turned her head to one side with one ear down. She blinked up at the larger creature. Then the little bunny’s ears quickly perked up. She happily rubbed her head on her mom’s soft chest. Her mother licked her head affectionately. Her daughter then happily hopped away to her siblings.

The mother bunny noticed a larger rabbit sitting near her children. He was slightly taller and broader than her. She carefully hoped over to his back and sniffed him. He turned around, his fluffy gray fur blowing in the cool breeze. His chest had a puff of white, soft fur. His feet were large and strong. His red eyes shined in the early morning light. Her ears dropped with a sigh.

He looked at her and blinked. She was slender and cottony. Her features were small and delicate. Her dark brown eyes were alluring. His ears went down. He gulped. She covered her face with her long ears and turned away bashfully. His ears slowly rose as he took a step towards her. He carefully pulled her ears away from her cute, fluffy white checks. She quickly turned her gleaming eyes away. He gently rubbed his head against hers.

Their children had taken interest and were watching them curiously. She slowly brought her eyes towards his. Their eyes meet, glistening in the light. His ears dropped. Hers went back, delicately lying on her neck. They inched closer together. Their pink noses gently touched.

They were suddenly attacked by four happy, bouncing little bunnies. They all gently tumbled over to the ground. The little bunnies rubbed around on their parents. They licked and snuggled them in return.

“Oh gross!” Chaos gagged. He and Harmony were watching the bunnies using Control’s magnifying viewer device. It resembled a large holographic screen with a purplish clear floor in which its watchers connected. Harmony and Chaos floated above the floor, but, when the Viewer was moved to orbit around the planet, they moved along with it. The Viewer allowed them to zoom in without actually moving closer to the planet. After doing a quick sweep over the whole planet, Harmony elected that they use Control’s device to focus in and check on her first creations. Other than raising the sun and moon, their job now was to keep an eye on the planet and notify their mentor if they saw anything extreme that needed attention. Control’s Viewer made this job easier.

“I’m going to throw up from all this cuteness!” he continued. He gagged and covered his mouth, checks puffing out as if filled with vomit.

“Aww! They’re just so adorwable!” Harmony cooed, her stubs smooshing her checks and muffling her speech. Chaos face-palmed, sliding his stub down his face.

“Can’t we watch something else now?” he whined. Harmony made cooing faces at the bunnies lying on her belly, ignoring Chaos. He rolled his eyes. Then his face brightened. “Ooo! Let’s watch the manticore!” he said excitedly. The globe suddenly zoomed out quickly until it was just a barely visible speck.

“Huh?” Harmony said, sitting up quickly. The globe quickly zoomed into an empty desert. “What the?” It zoomed way out, but quickly zoomed back into the ocean. Some orange fish swam into view. She heard a growl. The Viewer zoomed out again. The floor they were floating above moved swiftly, orbiting them to right. Harmony swayed to one side, trying to stay balanced. Then it zoomed in again. “What is going on?” she asked, looking around.

Chaos was holding his intensely glowing stubs out, his face wrinkled and tongue sticking out. The globe continued randomly zooming in and out and orbiting them around in different locations.

“What are you doing?!” Harmony shrieked in surprise, quickly floating over to him.

“I’m trying to find the manticore,” he grunted in frustration, zooming in on the arctic.

“Chaos, settle down,” she said, looking at him. “You’re using too much power,” she said, pointing at him.

After making all their creations on the planet, not only had their yellow and black glows diminished, their rainbow colors had faded as well. Now Harmony was striped with pale yellow colors that resembled her usual rainbow, except for her purple stripe that looked normal. Chaos was colored with a pale gray rainbow. The dark grayed pink color he had gained back was fading again. He glanced down at himself and noticed the faded returning color. His face hardened.

“Grrr…I’m fine,” he growled. He promptly orbited them halfway around the globe. She swayed to one side and held her head. He quickly stopped, throwing her to one side. He magnified their view, zooming into the globe again.

“But I’m not,” she said, stumbling around. “You’re making me dizzy.”

Suddenly, a large eyeball appeared on the screen.

“Ahh!” they screamed in unison. Chaos quickly zoomed back out.

“Will you at least slow down?” she asked, holding her chest and breathing heavily.

He ignored her. He spotted a forest and quickly focused in on it.

“I’ve almost got it,” he said with determination. Harmony looked at the Viewer. She wrinkled her face.

“That’s the wrong forest,” she deadpanned. He raised one eye ridge.

“I knew that,” he said casually. She rolled her eyes. “I just meant I was close.”

She made a face and said, “The forest the manticore’s in is on the other side of the planet.”

“Uhhhh…”

“Here, let me do it,” she said, raising her stubs.

“I got it,” he said tiredly, trying to sound angry. Only half of his pink color was left. His eyes were heavy, and his body was slumped.

“You’ve almost used all your power,” she observed. “Just let me do it.” Her stubs glowed lightly. She zoomed out and began slowing orbiting them around to the other side of the globe.

“Nuh uh. You’ll just look at the bun…bunnies again,” he said woozily, struggling to orbit them in the other direction.

“I already got to watch those adorable bunnies,” she sighed happily. “If you want to look at your manticore, then we will,” she said honestly. She easily pulled back, moving them back the other way.

“No! I’ll do it,” he said, a little more determined. He pulled them back harder in the other direction. His eye ridges were now slanted in a “v” shape. She pulled back again, her stubs glowing more. He jerked them back, his whole body glowing intensely. She stumbled over. Her stubs stopped glowing.

Breathing heavily, she said, “Fine…you do it. I’m too tired to fight with you.” She sat up. “Why would I care if you…drained all your power anyway?” she said with some anger, floating a little ways away from him. “You’re less annoying when you’re drained,” she gibed. She lied down on the purple tinned clear floor.

He smiled and snickered. He jerked them around to the other side, Harmony rolling in the process. “Please, at least slow down…and focus,” she said tiredly, involuntarily rolling over to her belly. “And don’t use some much power,” she advised, “It doesn’t take much to control the Viewer or orbit it around the planet.”

He scowled down at her, ready to argue. Then he closed his mouth and glared back at the planet. He glanced around with his tired green eyes, trying to figure out where he was. He saw some mountains in the south. North of them were some big hills and a forest. His eyes narrowed with concentration. Farther up was an empty field. He smiled. A little farther up still and westward was the forest he was looking for.

He raised his stubs and made them glow lightly. He slowly zoomed into the trees, using as little power as he could, which was not easy for him. He focused his mind. He closed his eyes, moving them through the trees automatically. Harmony raised her head and looked at him. His face was wrinkled in concentration. She looked at the Viewer and smiled. She stood up and floated over to him as he searched for the manticore. They stopped moving. She tapped his shoulder. He unscrunched his focused face and opened his eyes.

“I found him!” he gasped excitedly. The lion hybrid was stalking through some viney bushes. “I did it! I…I…ugh,” he said, falling over.

Helping him up, Harmony said, “You know the other forest with the bunnies is just right over there.”

“Huh?” he said, disoriented while trying to get up.

“If you just took it slow in the first place, you could have found him a lot easier and not have exhausted your power,” she lectured, pulling him up.

“Oh…whatever,” he slurred. He rubbed his head. “I found him, didn’t I?” he said, righting himself. “And I still got some power left,” he said, looking down. A tiny sliver of grayed pink was still visible. She sighed. “Now, let’s see what my manticore is doing,” he said, rubbing is stubs together eagerly.

Together they watched the manticore through the Viewer. Harmony quickly locked the Viewer on him so it would automatically follow him. The manticore was alone. Chaos did not give him a family…or um any other manticores to be with. So he hunted alone, still looking for his first meal. His large bat-like ears were erect, listening for the sound of prey. His tan and black bat wings were flat against his body. His black scorpion tail was up and ready to strike. Protruding from his large tan paws were his sharp claws prepared for attack. He stalked around the trees, sniffing the air and eyeing his surroundings.

“You find this entertaining?” Harmony suddenly asked with boredom. She glanced at him. His eyes were glued on the Viewer.

“Shhhh!” he loudly shushed her, waving a stub in her direction. His eyes never left the Viewer.

She looked back at the screen and said, “But he’s not even doing anything. He’s just walking around.” Chaos turned his head and looked straight at her. “What?”

“He’s not just ‘walking around,’” he mimicked. “He’s stalking,” he said with a wide toothy grin. He turned back towards the Viewer. She looked back at it for a minute. The manticore was still just walking through the trees. She made a face.

“It just looks like he’s walking to me,” she stated.

He sighed, “Look closer, and stopped think like a goodie-goodie.”

She looked at the creature again. She noticed how his ears turned with every sound. His wings were hidden, and his claws were retracted. His walk was slow and precise. After observing him more closely, he did seem very alter to just be taking a stroll. Maybe Chaos had better attention to detail than she thought, at least when it came to things he enjoyed.

“Ooooh, here comes the best part,” he almost squealed, grabbing her stub and shaking her from her thoughts. She turned her attention back to the manticore. He was now low to the ground and taking long slow steps. His ears were flat against his black mane. His eyes were focused and locked on something. She followed his line of sight. In the short grass was a little cockatrice chick. It pecked the ground with its tiny yellow beak, its long scaly green tail lying lazily on the ground.

Her eyes widened. She looked back at the manticore. He was creeping closer. Chaos’s eyes were wide with excitement and anticipation. His face was contorted into a wide, mad smile.

Harmony gasped, “He’s going to get that baby!” His face dropped and he looked at her.

“Duh. He’s a predator,” he said focusing back on the scene. “What else would he eat?” He resumed his mad grinning.

“But it’s just a baby! Don’t you care? It’s one of your creations!” she argued in a panic.

“Life and death are part of the harmony of life, aren’t they?” he said with disinterest, still watching as the manticore crept closer to the hybrid chick. He grinned again.

She disputed, “Yes, but it’s just a…”

“No buts!” he interrupted her. She tried to speak again. “Hush! Death is the only part of harmony I like,” he said with his stubs crossed. He got up in her face and said darkly, “Don’t ruin it.” He swung back around and somehow pressed his face into the holographic screen, happily watching with a wide open-mouth smile as the manticore prepared to attack.

Harmony blinked. She looked at him strangely. Her eyes caught sight of the manticore. His forelegs were bent and his tail was up. He was ready to pounce. The little chick was completely unaware as it continued to peak the ground. She gasped. She looked at Chaos. He was so excited his black glow had expanded to its normal size again. She looked back at the Viewer. She bit her lip. The manticore leapt forward. It inched closer to the chick as gravity pulled it down. She gasped.

The Viewer suddenly blurred. Chaos sprung back. His expression was a mixture of shock, sadness, and confusion. His mouth silently tried to make words. Voice failing him, he looked around for an explanation. He spotted Harmony. Her head was turned away, her face winkled. Her stubs were stretched in front of her, glowing brightly. Chaos’s eyes narrowed, his sharp teeth showing. His black glow darkened and expanded.

“Harmony!” he yelled. She gasped and opened her eyes. He floated directly in front of her. “What are you doing?” he growled in a low, deep tone. Her stubs went back into her body.

It was now Harmony’s voice that could not be found. “I…I-I-I…” she stammered. He glared at her. Black smoke-like mist flowed from his darkening green eyes. Her glow diminished in fear. “I-I…I panicked!” she stuttered. He growled unforgivingly, leaning into her closer. “I just…I couldn’t watch it,” she defended, shrinking down and backing away.

“So you ruined it for me?” he asked darkly, floating closer and leaning over her.

“No. I mean…I…I didn’t mean to,” she said circling around him and backing up towards the Viewer, Chaos following her every move. “I know death is part of life, but that poor little chick’s life was so short,” she rambled fearfully. Chaos didn’t say anything. “I didn’t want to see it die,” she continued. Chaos’s angry face turned to interest. “Even if it was a creature of Chaos,” she persisted. He was looking up above her now. His eyes and black glow were back to normal. She didn’t notice and rambled on, “And I’m sure there are plenty of other creatures, even babies, dying all over the planet right now being attacked by predators.” Chaos looked at her and made an expression of irritation. “I know the predators have to eat too, but I just don’t…umhumh.”

Covering her mouth, Chaos said with annoyance, “Will you shut up?” Her eyes widened and finally looked at him. “Your bunnies are finally doing something interesting,” he said, releasing her mouth and pointing up at the Viewer. Her eyes moved up to the upside-down screen. She turned around, eyes still on the Viewer. In her panic, she had turned the Viewer back over to the bunny family.

The gray bunnies had taken interest in a little shrub that appeared to have a pair of tiny tan antlers. They sniffed at it curiously. It moved, startling the baby bunnies. They jumped back and hid behind their parents. The mother bunny turned her head at the odd moving plant. She sniffed it again, slowly sticking her head inside. Her four babies nervously watched from behind their father.

Her head slowly emerged. She turned to her family and placed a tiny bunny on the ground. He looked like the others, but he had two antlers on his head. He gulped with his ears down. The father bunny sniffed the new addition. His children hopped out from behind him and surround the odd little creature.

“Let’s see how your sweet little bunny family feels about their oddball son,” Chaos said menacingly. Harmony bit her lip. She had forgotten about Chaos’s improvement upon one of the baby bunnies. The family was so perfect too, all happy and in harmony.

The little jackalope hunkered down nervously. His father turned away, not pleased.

Chaos laughed. “It doesn’t look too good for your little bunny,” he teased, “His dad already hates him.” Harmony anxiously chewed her lip.

The jackalope’s four siblings looked at their father. They looked back at the antlered bunny. Their father made a sound and gestured with his head for them to come. The little oddball closed his eyes and looked away.

“It looks like some of your wolves will be having an easy meal,” Chaos said. Harmony’s eyes were big and glossy with unshed tears. Her yellow glow began to get a sad blue tint. Chaos smiled evilly with glee.

The little bunny felt something touch its antler. He opened his eyes and looked up. His sister was carefully feeling his odd feature. He rose his head up. She jumped back. He blinked his wet eyes and turned his head at her. She turned her head at him. Then he saw his other siblings behind her. Their father was watching them from afar. She touched his antler again. He stepped back, unsure. The others hopped to his sides. He looked at them nervously. One of them touched his antler. He shook his head at the odd feeling. They all jumped back, startled. They quickly hoped back to him, still curious. They all began touching the strange appendages on his head. He slowly raised his ears and watched his sibling with only his eyes so not to scare them.

He suddenly felt something touch his tail. He jumped, scaring the others. They all scattered. The antlered bunny bumped into something soft. He tumbled over and looked up. It was his father. He quickly got to his feet and back away, bumping into his mother. His ears dropped. He was trapped. She looked down at him kindly. She gently rubbed her head against his check. His ears went up in surprise. His siblings soon joined in the display of affection and acceptance.

A shadow formed over them. The little ones looked up and then ran behind their mom. The little oddball glanced up. His father was towering over him. He backed up further into his mother. She looked at the larger bunny. She gently rubbed her head under his chin. He rubbed her back. He looked down at his odd son. The smaller one hunkered down, closing his eyes. He felt something rub him softly. He opened his eyes. His father was nuzzling him, showing his acceptance.

“Et tu, daddy bunny?” Chaos said, shaking his head. Harmony’s face formed a wide smile. She glowed bright yellow again.

Chaos was suddenly tackled with a big tight hug. “Oooow, their just so cute!” she squealed, spinning them around. “And look at that harmony!” she said, pointing at the Viewer while squishing Chaos with her other stub. “He’s so different, but they accepted him as their son anyway,” she continued happily, squeezing him again. He looked up at her with his eyes, still smooshed against her. He frowned and pushed her off of him.

“Okay. Enough. Enough with the hugging,” he said, swatting his stubs at her. Her smile dropped a little. Her stubs held up against her chest. “Enough with all the love and affection and harmony,” he droned on. “Do you want me to throw up?” he asked seriously.

“Um, no,” she said unsure. He shivered. He wiped himself, trying to wipe away the affection.

Harmony suddenly gasped excitedly, “We have to watch one last thing first.” His eyes darted to her, his stubs in mid-wipe. She brought her stubs up. They glowed as the Viewer zoomed out. “Do you think you can handle one last bit of harmony?” she asked, moving them north slightly. His eyes popped.

“No no no no no!” he said quickly, shaking his stubs around. “No more harmony! You already watch two scenes of harmony, and you skipped the best part of my chaos. It’s my turn!” he complained.

“But I’m already here,” she said, pointing at the Viewers. On the large screen were the colorful ponies.

“Not the ponies again,” he whined.

“Don’t you want to see how your ‘improvements’ are working?” she asked, already watching the screen.

He crossed his stubs and said, “Not after what just happened with my last improvements.” “They’re probably all sunshine and rainbows by now. The magic ponies probably gave them all wings and horns so they could all be equal. Now they’re all doing magic and flying together in harmony,” he spat. She was too focused on the ponies to hear him. He sighed. “I guess I can at least watch and hope. With every pony having magic and wings, it might be chaotic,” he said defeated, sitting next to her.

The winged mares and stallions had already begun to fly. Some were better than other. Even a few of the fillies and colts had gotten off the ground. Oddly enough, the foals were buzzing around easily. Some were flying better than the adults. Their tiny bodies were full of energy.

The horned foals were similar to the winged ones in that they were doing some magic that even their parents couldn’t do yet. The adults had learned how to levitate small things. Most had not learned much else yet. It took time to master magic.

A light blue winged filly with a short messy gray, black, and light grayish-blue striped mane crashed landed and rolled into a horned mare. The purple mare smiled kindly down at the little filly. She careful lit her horn that protruded from her long, straight orange-stripped red mane and lifted her to her hooves. The filly gasped, wide eyed. “There you go,” she said happily.

“What do you think you are doing?” asked an angry large black stallion. He had a short, spiked dark blue mane.

Surprised, she said, “Oh, sorry. I was just helping your daughter get back on her hooves.” She smiled up at him.

“She can do that on her own. She’s not helpless,” he bellowed. He motioned for the filly to come to him. She quickly ran to him and stood up tall by his side.

“I didn’t mean…” she tried to explain, her smile gone.

“Just leave me and my family out of your freaky magic,” he spat and marched away. His daughter quickly followed by his side. The purple mare just blinked.

“Ow ow ow! It looks like your precious ponies of harmony aren’t so harmonious after all,” Chaos laughed. Harmony looked worried. She watched the mare shake her head. Then she walked back to her family with a smile.

“They just need more time to adjust,” Harmony said with determination.

They watched for a few more hours. Things with the ponies did not improve.

“Attention all winged ponies,” thundered the black stallion from a low cloud, “It is clear to me that these horned ponies are a hazard to all of us and to our children.” The other winged ponies nodded and chattered in agreement. “Ponies of the ground,” he continued. All the ponies looked around, unsure of whom he was addressing. His daughter fluttered up to his ear and whispered quickly before falling back down onto the cloud. He shook his head. “Those ponies who lack wings and horns, earth ponies, listen up,” he announced. The earth ponies looked up at him. “You shall join us.” They looked at each other and mumbled. “We will force these-” his daughter whispered in his ear again “-horned unicorns to leave our land. If they refuse to go quietly, we will brutally force them out.” The unicorns gasped. The earth ponies looked around, whispering to each other.

“We agree that these so called unicorns and their magic are dangerous and weird,” said a pink earth mare with a light brown puffy mane. “But you winged ponies are no different,” she accused. The large stallion glared down at her. “Your wings are just unnatural. Ponies are meant to stay on the ground,” she said, stomping one hoof on the earth.

“We are pegasi, and our wings make us awesome!” shouted the large pegasus's daughter, spreading her wings and striking a pose to prove her point. Her father glared down at her. She quickly stood straight up beside him again. Then he nodded in agreement.

“Your wings make you weird!” argued the pink earth mare’s pink daughter. Her mane matched her mom’s, but it was darker and swirled on top of her head.

“Nuh uh! You’re just jealous,” the blue filly argued back. She quickly backed up and ran forward. Jumping off the cloud, she flapped her wings and stayed airborne for a few seconds. She grinned. Then she started falling. She flapped her wings hard, but still crash landed in front of the pink filly. The earth filly giggled. The blue filly quickly stood up and glared at her.

“Why would she possibly be jealous of that?” said a light gray unicorn filly.

“I just need more practice!” said the blue filly. “Then I’ll be as awesome as my dad.” She looked back up at him. He was arguing with the adults from his spot on the cloud.

“If there is anypony you should be jealous of, it’s me,” the gray unicorn said, throwing her long, curled purple mane back.

“Oh yeah, I’m sooo jealous,” the blue filly said sarcastically, “I wish I could pick things up.” The pink filly giggled. “Oh that’s right I can! I have hooves!” she shouted, shoving her hooves in her face.

The gray unicorn scoffed. “I’m sure we can do more than levitate objects with our magic. We just need to practice!” the gray unicorn filly shouted her words back at her.

“Well we earth ponies don’t need to practice,” the pink filly bragged.

“Yeah, you are already as lame as you’re going to get,” the blue filly insulted.

“Hay!” the pink filly yelled. The gray filly covered her mouth and giggled.

She was suddenly levitated off the ground. She was placed in front of her father, a large silver unicorn stallion with a short, kept light blue mane.

“Come daughter, we are leaving,” he said.

“Oh yeah! I guess my dad kicked your flanks out of here,” the blue filly cheered.

“We are leaving,” her bellowing father’s voice said from behind her.

Quickly turning around she said, “But dad…” He glared down at her. “Yes, sir,” she sighed with a salute. They marched away, meeting up with the filly’s blue mother. Her mane was short and matched the light grayish-blue color on her daughter’s striped mane.

Further up, a timid yellow filly was hiding in a bush. Her longer light blue tail could be seen sticking out of the bush. She was too scared to go, even with her mother’s kind words of encouragement.

“Please come out, my little flower,” begged the light yellow green-maned mare. The scared filly did not respond.

“You get out here this instance!” yelled her father. He was yellow as well, and his mane was short and light blue.

“Eeep!” his daughter squeaked from inside the bush, pulling her tail inside.

“You’re scaring her,” her mother reprimanded.

“Well that black stallion, Thunder Cloud, is really going to scare her if she doesn’t come on,” he argued.

“Please come out. You’re uncle, aunt, and cousins are waiting,” her mother tried again. The filly peaked outside of the bush. Waiting a little ways away was a family of seven pegasi. They all were a variety of orange colors, except for one foal. She was a brown color, and her mane was light brown. She looked similar to her father, who had a tan colored mane. Her twin brother resembled their mother. They both had light green manes, but his was lighter. They had a set of older twin siblings. The mare resembled her mom, except her mane was greenish-yellow. Her twin brother looked like his dad, but his mane was a little lighter. The middle child was a filly with a cream and light brown striped mane. Her tailed matched, and they were both short and shaggy. Her eyes were light green. Besides her baby brother and sister, she seemed to be the only pony with patients. She was about the same age as her cousin, who was currently hiding in the bush. She trotted up to the shrub and stuck her head inside.

“Pansy, it’s okay. We have to go,” she encouraged.

“I know, Honey. But I’m scared,” Pansy said quietly.

“What are you scared of?” Honey asked, stepping into the bush. “We are all going together. We’ll be safe with our parents.”

“But what if those unicorns attack us with their magic? Or those earth ponies could attack us. They look so strong. They’re both just so scary,” she said, covering her face in fright.

Honey pulled Pansy’s hoof away from her face and said kindly, “They aren’t scary. They’re just different.” She smiled at her. A smile started forming on Pansy’s face. It quickly fell when something jumped into the bush with them.

“What’s the hold up?! Get your flanks moving!” Thunder’s daughter yelled. Pansy squealed and raced out of the bush. She quickly hid behind her mom.

“Hay! That wasn’t nice,” Honey yelled at the blue filly.

“I wasn’t trying to be nice. I was trying to get her moving,” she argued, marching out of the bush. Honey followed. “And it worked,” she said pointing at the terrified filly. Honey glared at her. “Now let’s move out!” she ordered. She quickly ran to the front of the group by her parents. The black stallion led them westward.

Far in the other direction, the silver unicorn was leading his group eastward towards a small mountain.

“I don’t understand why we have to leave. The other ponies don’t seem that bad to me,” a purple filly with a puffy green-striped mane said to her parents.

Her father, who was also purple with a solid green mane, but of different shades, said, “That Thunder Cloud was pretty rude to your mother when she tried to help his daughter, Hurricane.”

“It was just a misunderstanding,” his wife insisted.

“Well, he didn’t have to call our gift freaky,” he argued.

The purple filly looked forward. She spotted the leading unicorn’s daughter walking ahead of her in the group. She quickly ran up to her.

“Hi, I’m Clover,” she introduced herself.

The light gray filly gave her a look. “Charmed. My name in Platinum,” she said, walking closer to her parents. Her father continued looking forward towards their destination. Her mother glanced back at her and the purple filly. She was light gray, almost white. Her curly mane was a pale purple color. She made a distasteful sound and turned her head forward again.

“I just wanted to ask you if you could talk to your dad. Maybe if he talked to Thunder Cloud and Pink Fudge again, he could convince them to let us all stay together.”

Platinum scoffed, “My father is not interested in living with those rude ruffians.”

“Maybe it was all just a misunderstanding. I’m sure they’re not as bad as they seem,” Clover insisted with hope.

“Young filly, Silver Sapphire is no longer concerned with those ponies. We agreed to leave. Our time with them is done,” Platinum’s mother said, stopping in front of Clover. “Now, return to your parents and leave my daughter alone,” she said, pulling her filly with her. Clover stood sadly watching them walk away. Her parents caught up to her and gestured for her to follow.

Back in the field where all the ponies had started, the pink earth mare, Pink Fudge, declared they would stay put, now that the weird ponies had left. Her pink daughter asked her dad if she could walk around and meet some new ponies. He was a purple-pink color with a light brown poofy short mane. He said she could, but she was not allowed to go too far. She happily bounced off, introducing herself to each and every earth pony she found.

She spotted a light brown filly with a short, round yellow mane. She had dark freckles on her checks. She smiled widely and bounced over to her. Her parents were talking about something boring. The pink filly was not interested in them. Her father looked like her, but his mane was stringier. Her mother was orange with a straight brown mane.

“Hi! I’m Pudding Head. But you can call me Pudding for short,” the pink filly said happily.

“Um, hi. Ah’m Smart Cookie, or Cookie for short,” the brown filly said.

“Oooo! I like that name,” Pudding cheered.

“Um, thanks,” Cookie said, unsure about the hyper filly. She looked the bouncing filly over. “Aren’t ya that Pink Fudge’s daughter?” Cookie asked.

“Yep. That’s my mom, and my dad is Purple Caramel. I don’t know why his name is Purple. He looks more pink to me,” she rambled. “He said I could go say hi to all the ponies. I love meeting new ponies! And I love saying, ‘Hi!’ I said hi to you, so now I have to go say hi to some other pony. So bye!” she said quickly, bouncing away. Cookie looked dumfounded for a second. She shook her head and quickly ran up to the pink filly.

“Wait!” Cookie said, running in front of her. Pudding stopped in mid-bounce. Then fell to the ground. “Y’all said ya were Pink Fudge’s daughter, right?” Cookie asked.

“Yep. And I also said that Purple Caramel was my dad and umum…” Cookie quickly covered Pudding’s mouth.

“Okay, ah got it. Y’all don’t have to ramble on,” Cookie said, rolling her eyes. She put her hoof down and continued, “I want to ask ya why your pa made those other ponies leave.”

Pudding frowned. “Because those ponies were meanies,” she said, crossing her forelegs over her chest.

“Just because they seem a little unkind, don’t mean your pa should have kicked them out,” Cookie argued.

“That blue pegasus called us earth ponies lame because we don’t have wings, and the unicorn laughed at me,” she said with a pout. “Besides, my dad didn’t make them leave, they left on their own,” she said. She turned away. “I’m going to go talk to some other ponies now,” Pudding said angrily as she stood up. Cookie just sat there, watching her walk away.

Harmony sighed sadly. Her little ponies filled with so much harmony, were all fighting and separating. They were supposed to be her best creatures. She hoped they would one day lead the other creatures and show them true harmony. But now it looked as though they would be leading them in disharmony. She looked at Chaos. He was grinning with glee, rubbing his stubs together. Her eyes hardened. This was his fault. He changed them. If they all looked the same, they would all group together.

“This is your fault,” she accused angrily.

“I know,” he said cheerfully.

“These are my creatures. They are not supposed to be fighting!” she said furiously.

“Sheesh, calm down. At least the ponies of the same kind are getting along,” he said with annoyance.

“But they are all supposed to be getting along together,” she said desperately. “If you hadn’t changed them, they would be,” she said, pointing in his face. “They were supposed to be the best of the best at harmony,” she said sadly, dropping her stub.

He raised an eye ridge at her. “You’re moody. I think you need a nap,” he simply said.

She gave him a look and said, “I do not need a nap. I’m just distraught and frustrated that my best creations have failed.”

“By failed you mean…” he said, gesturing with his stub for her to explain.

“They are disharmonious,” she said sadly, dropping her head.

“They are not disharmonious,” he stated. She looked up at him. “If they were, they would all be fighting. They would not have formed groups or joined sides while they were arguing. They would have all fought with each other, and none of them would even be thinking that they should stay together. Heck, they would probably still be fighting now,” he said.

A smile began forming on her face, and she said, “Really?”

“Well, duh. They probably would have even killed each other,” he went on.

“Okay, okay. I get the picture,” she said quickly, motioning for him to stop. She looked back at the Viewer and smiled. “Thank you,” she said to him.

“What?” he asked, with displeased surprise.

“I said thank you,” she repeated. “You gave me hope that these ponies can have harmony. They are more sophisticated than the bunnies. They just need more time to figure things out,” she said, smiling down at the planet.

“Woah. I was not trying to make you feel better,” he said defensively with his stubs out in front of him. “I was just correcting you.”

“I know,” she said with a smile, making the Viewer disappear.

“I don’t think you do,” he continued, sounding a bit uneasy. “I don’t care if you feel bad or not. In fact, I enjoy your pain and suffering,” he said with forced evil glee.

“Chaos,” she said.

“It’s true!” he squeaked.

“Chaos,” she repeated.

“Why don’t you believe me?” he said desperately.

“Chaos,” she said with some annoyance.

“I’m evil! I care for no one but myself!” he insisted. He cackled, expanding his black glow and raising his stubs into the air.

“Chaos!” she yelled.

“What?” he quickly said.

“I believe you. You are evil and uncaring, okay? I just wanted to tell you it’s time to raise the moon,” she said, pointing at the low sun.

“Oh.”

“Now who’s moody?” she mocked. He gave her a look.

She helped the sun set as he raised the moon. The ponies were amazed as they watched the sun disappear and a new glowing orb appear. Chaos made each star appear with boredom. The ponies looked up in awe as each little light appeared one by one. The unicorns thought it was some form of magic. Some hoped to one day master it. The pegasi and earth ponies looked suspiciously in the unicorn’s direction.

All the ponies found shelter. They would rest for the night and start building their new lives when they woke. Hopefully the sun would return soon.

Chaos sighed, “I didn’t think Control would make us do this after we brought life to an entire planet on our own.”

“Our creatures do need light,” Harmony reminded him.

“Yeah, I know. But why can’t they do it themselves,” he said with boredom. Harmony looked at him as if he were crazy. He raised one eye ridge at her. “What? You keep bragging about how sophisticated and smart your ponies are, and I did give them magic-conducting horns,” he said, lighting up more of the stars.

“You didn’t give them that much magic. They don’t have nearly as much power as we do,” she pointed out.

“Well, maybe if they worked together,” he argued, finishing the stars. She gave him a thoughtful looked.

She said with a smile, “Maybe.”

Chapter 3: Mysterious Night Lights

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“Pst…,” a little voice broke the silence of the moonlit night. “Pssst…,” the yellow creature whispered again. The short grass rustled in front of her. Startled by the movement, she cowered back with a quiet yelp. The sleeping orange creature in front of her stirred again. She shivered and covered her light green eyes in fight. The orange creature moved around, finally turning over.

“Pansy?” a groggy voice spoke.

“H-H-Hon-n-ney,” Pansy managed, uncovering her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Honey asked with more concern, rubbing her tired eyes.

“I-I’m sc-scared,” Pansy answered, shaking with fear.

Honey stood up and stepped the short distance to the freighted yellow filly. She lied down beside her and put her orange wing over her. Pansy gratefully leaned into the embrace, still shaking.

“What are you afraid of?” Honey asked gently.

“The dark,” she squeaked.

“It’s not all dark. We still have light,” Honey said, lifting her wing and pointing with her hoof at the moon and stars. Pansy uncovered her eyes and glanced up.

“Bu-but it’s st-still dark,” she said, hiding her eyes again. Honey looked down hopelessly at her cousin. What could she do to make her not afraid? She was shaking with freight, hiding under her wing. Then a smile formed on the orange filly’s face.

“Maybe it wouldn’t be so dark if you uncovered your eyes, silly,” Honey laughed while moving Pansy’s hooves away from her eyes.

Pansy’s eyes cracked open. She looked up at Honey. A little smile found its way onto her face. She hugged her cousin around the neck. Honey smiled. Her eyes looked up at the tree above them. She could see the various yellow and orange limbs and green, tan, and blue tails of her sleeping family members hanging from the branches. She looked back at Pansy.

“Do you want to get up in the tree with the rest of our family now?” Honey asked, still being hugged. Pansy didn’t answer. She was still nervous about falling.

Earlier that night, the pegasi had decided that staying up off the ground was the safest place to sleep. Hurricane and her parents slept on a cloud above the trees, so Thunder Cloud would be the first to see any possible incoming danger. Then he could warn the others. Pansy’s and Honey’s family slept in the trees with the rest of the pegasi. Pansy was not a good flyer at all. She was afraid she would fall out of the tree and wouldn’t be able to land safely. Pansy’s mother would have stayed with her on the ground below, but her father had insisted that they shouldn’t baby her. She needed to learn to be tough like the other pegasi. If she wanted to sleep with them, she would have to get into the tree. Her mother had reluctantly agreed. It was for her own good. Once everypony had fallen asleep, Honey had quietly slid out of the tree and went to sleep on the ground near her cousin.

“Pansy, we’ll be safer up there with our family,” Honey insisted after a moment. Pansy looked up at the tall, daunting tree. Her eyes widened. She began shaking again. “Don’t worry. I have an idea,” Honey said with a smile.

The next thing Pansy knew, she was being pulled up the tree by a vine that was tired around her waist. She had her eyes covered as she was gradually hauled up towards the tree branches. Honey was up in the tree pulling the other end of the vine. She strained and grunted. Finally, she dragged her cousin onto the branch the vine had been lying over. Honey carefully hopped to the branch and tied the vine around the trunk of the tree. She smiled at a job well done. She tapped Pansy’s back. She slowly uncovered her eyes. She looked to where Honey was now pointing. She turned her head at the vine.

Pulling on the vine attached to the tree, Honey whispered, “See. Now if you fall, the vine will catch you. Then I can pull you back up.” Pansy studied the vine for a moment longer. She looked up at Honey and smiled. Honey was surprised by a sudden tight hug.

“Thank you, Honey,” she whispered thankfully, hugging her cousin.

“You’re welcome, Pansy,” Honey replied with a soft smile.

After a short moment, their embraced ended. Exhausted, Honey got comfortable on the branch. She yawned and laid her head on her forelegs.

“Why do you think the other light left?” Pansy asked quietly.

“Hum?” Honey asked tiredly, slowly raising her head. Her eyes were unwilling to open.

“Do you think it will come back?” Pansy asked, looking up through the branches at the night sky.

“I don’t know,” she replied with a slight groan, laying her head back down.

“Oh, I’m sorry. You’re probably tired,” Pansy quickly apologized.

She laid her head down, not shutting her eyes. After a few silent moments, Honey’s eye cracked open. She looked at her remorseful and slightly scared cousin. Then she glanced up at the sky. She groaned to herself. Guilt and curiosity getting the best of her, she lifted her head.

“It’s okay Pansy. We can…yawn…talk if you want to,” Honey said with a yawn. Pansy raised her head. “I’m curious too,” she said, rubbing her eyes. Pansy smiled. Together, they looked up in wonder.

“Why do you think these new lights are here? I wish the big bright light was back. These new lights aren’t bright enough. There could be scary, mean creatures hiding in the dark,” Pansy said, looking down into the dark forest. Honey moved over next to her.

“I’m sure it’ll come back,” Honey said with hope. “Maybe the other light went away so we could sleep. It would be kind of hard to fall sleep with that giant bright light, wouldn’t it?” she joked, trying to put her cousin at ease.

“I guess it would,” Pansy said with a yawn. She rested her head on Honey’s back. Honey laid her head down as well.

“I think these other lights are prettier anyway. The other light is too bright to look at,” Honey yawned.

“Yeah,” Pansy said tiredly. They closed their eyes and finally joined their family in a peaceful slumber.

On a small cloud above them, a blue filly was looking down at them. Then she looked up to the sky in thought.

“Huh,” Hurricane said. “Why are these lights here?” she asked herself. She looked at her dad and then over towards the small mountain where the unicorns had went. She squinted her sliver eyes at a dim light in the distance. It lit up a cave at the bottom of the mountain. She shook her head. Her eyes hardened.

“My dad’s right. This is just the unicorns’ doing. Trying to get us to beg them to bring the other light back and admit that they are better than us,” Hurricane whispered. She looked at her sleeping father. “Not that they are better than us,” she added quickly. “We are totally the best. I mean, just look at these awesome wings!” she said a little too loudly.

“Hurricane, who are you talking to?” said her tired mother. Her eyes still closed.

The filly gasped. “Um…no pony,” she quickly said.

“Then go back to sleep,” her father ordered quietly.

“Yes, sir,” she said with a quick salute. She swiftly lied down, closing her eyes.

“I might have to have a talk with those unicorns when we awake up,” he added, laying his head down. His wife made a noise in agreement.

In the dimly lit cave, a purple unicorn filly was rambling on eagerly. The other exhausted unicorns were not happy.

“Where do you think it came from? How did it get there? What made the other one go? Maybe it’s magic. Do you think we could learn to control one day?” Clover asked her parents with excited curiosity. The other unicorns groaned.

“Sweetie, maybe you should go to sleep now,” her mother encouraged.

“Your mother’s right. We can talk about this more when we wake up,” her dad said. The unicorns sighed in relief.

“But it’s just so fascinating! Didn’t you notice how it gradually got darker?” Clover said, walking to the cave’s edge. “And then all these other lights came out,” she continued, pointing up at the stars and moon. “They seemed to come from nowhere,” she said with awe. Her parents smiled at their inquisitive daughter. The unicorns groaned again.

The purple mare walked to her daughter’s side and said, “I know it’s all very interesting. And I know you are very curious about it. And I’m glad you want answers. But right now, we need to sleep.” She patted her green mane. Clover’s ears went down. They walked back towards the group.

“But why…” Clover began again.

“Clover, was it?” Platinum asked quietly from her spot by the fire.

“Yes,” she said as they reached the group.

“I would like to say that the lights are marvelous. They really are beautiful. And I enjoyed admiring them on our walk here,” she said with a smile. Clover smiled back. “But that is all. So would you kindly go to sleep?!” the gray filly whispered harshly. The other unicorns mumbled angrily in agreement. Clover hunkered down and joined her parents.

“Learn to control your filly,” Platinum’s mother whispered bitterly to Clover’s mom. Clover lowered her ears and ducked her head. Her mom patted her head and smiled kindly. Her dad gave Platinum’s mom a mean looked. Silver Sapphire raised his head and gave him a nasty look in return. The smaller stallion quickly turned his head away.

“Everypony go to sleep,” Silver decreed. Everypony lied back down. Some sighed in relief. Finally they could sleep. Clover sighed as well, but for an entirely different reason. Her green eyes looked back at the cave entrance. Her mother patted her head. They smiled at the night sky, but soon the exhaustion from the walk caught up to the curious filly.

Back in the field, a couple of earth fillies still had not found rest. It was mostly because one of them was just too excited about the new thing in the sky.

“Maybe it’s a giant cookie,” Puddinghead whispered excitedly to Smart Cookie.

“It ain’t no cookie,” Cookie whispered back.

They were lying down in the grass near Cookie’s parents. Cookie was about asleep when Pudding had wondered over to them after her own parents went to sleep. She had said her parents wouldn’t mind because she could still see them. Apparently, the pink filly was no longer mad at Cookie for what she had said earlier. Or she was just too interested in the giant thing in the sky to care.

“But it looks like a cookie,” Pudding insisted.

“How would ah cookie get up in the sky like that?” Cookie argued.

“I don’t know. How does anything get into the sky?” the pink filly disputed.

“Uh, with wings,” she stated.

“It doesn’t have wings,” she said, pointing at the moon.

“Ah didn’t say it had wings,” the brown filly explained.

“I could see its wings, if it had them. They’d be huge,” she said, spreading her hooves out for emphasis. “It would be dumb if it had wings, like those meanie pegasususes.” She crossed her forelegs over her chest.

“Birds have wings too, ya know,” Cookie pointed out.

“I think it was those stuck-up unicorns,” Pudding said, ignoring her. “My mom said they took away the light using their stupid magic.”

“Why would they do that?” Cookie asked.

“So they could put a giant cookie in the sky to torture us!” she quietly yelled. Cookie gave her a weird look. “I bet they are working with the pegusususes. So they can fly up to the giant cookie and take a bite. That way we’ll be even more tortured, forced to watch them eat the cookie. And they won’t share any of it, not one single nibble!” she continued in an angry whisper. Cookie just held her expression, unsure of how to respond. Pudding took heavy, angry breaths. After a moment, Cookie shook her head.

“Ah don’t think they are tryin’ to torture us. They probably don’t have nothin’ to do with it. It’s just ah light in the sky so we can see. That’s all,” Cookie stated.

“How do you know?” Pudding asked with accusation. Cookie rubbed her chin.

Then she simply answered, “Cookies don’t glow.”

Pudding didn’t know what to say. The brown filly was a cookie after all. Well, her name was Cookie anyway. Actually, her name was Smart Cookie. How could she argue with a smart cookie about a cookie? Cookie laid her head down with a satisfied grin, closing her eyes. Pudding made a face and looked up at the moon. She looked back at Cookie and then back at the moon. After a moment, she walked back to her parents. She watched the moon during the entire short walk. Once she reached her family, she lied down. She gave the mysterious orb one last look before closing her eyes.

“Why are those ponies so interested in that boring moon and stars? And why do they want Harmony’s sun back so soon? The night is fun. That’s when all the good creatures come out,” Chaos said, rubbing his stubs together. He was watching the ponies through the Viewer again. Harmony had gone to rest, so her power could build up faster. “At least they are still arguing,” he said to himself.

“Why are you not resting?” Harmony suddenly nagged.

“Ah! What?!” Chaos screamed. He spun around quickly. His eyes were wide, and his breathing was rapid. He held his chest with one stub. His other was bracing him against the holographic screen. “Harmony! Don’t do that!” he yelled.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you,” Harmony apologized. He breathed out, putting his stubs down. Then he gave her a look.

“You didn’t scare me. You surprised me,” he corrected. She rolled her eyes. “I thought you were resting,” he accused.

“I was, but then I noticed that you weren’t,” Harmony defended. “Control wants us both to rest. We used a lot of power making those creatures today. He wants our energy to be at least at half capacity tomorrow,” she reminded him.

“Why? It’s not like we’ll need it to just watch the creatures,” he said with distaste.

“It doesn’t matter why. He told us to, so we will,” Harmony insisted.

“Well, I don’t care what he says,” he said. She gasped. “I’m not missing the first night of my creatures. I designed most of the scariest ones to come out after dark,” he said with an evil smile. Harmony looked shocked and appalled. Her eyes roamed up to the Viewer. She saw the earth ponies sleeping on the screen. Her expression turned to a grin.

“Your creatures?” Harmony asked. He looked back at the screen. “You’re watching the ponies again,” she teased. His eyes widen slightly, but he quickly recovered.

“The Viewer was still set to tract the ponies. I just got the Viewer back out,” he defended coolly. She gave him a suspicious look.

“Are you saying you didn’t watch them?” she asked.

“No. I just watched them long enough to see how they reacted to the night. The pegasus ponies are getting close to my forest. One of my creatures could have come out and ate them. I definitely would love to see one of my chaos creatures eat one of your precious ponies,” Chaos explained, ending with a grin.

“Did they?” Harmony gasped.

“Nooo,” he sighed. She sighed with relief. “Most of the ponies are just sleeping. Some fillies were arguing about the moon, stars, and sun though,” he said with disinterest.

“Really?” Harmony asked. “They really are intelligent. They’re wondering about things larger than themselves,” she said excitedly.

“Yeah well, they are all asleep now,” he said. “So now I’m going to watch some true chaos. It’s time for my night creatures to emerge from the creepy darkness,” he said, holding his stubs up in a scary fashion. He turned around towards the screen and slowly moved them towards his forest.

“You need to rest,” she told him.

“I don’t have to listen to you,” he said. He stuck his tongue out in concentration.

“You have to listen to Control,” she warned.

“Control is not here,” he said. He smiled as he found his forest. “And I know you will not disturb him this late,” he said with satisfaction, turning toward her again. She pursed her lips.

“Fine. But he’ll know you didn’t rest when he sees how little power you have in the morning,” she said, crossing her stubs and turning away. He glanced at himself. His pink color was the only real color he had. Just from the little rest she had, Harmony already had not only her purple stripe, but most of her blue stripe as well. He waved a stub at her dismissively and turned back to the Viewer. She narrowed her eyes. Then she disappeared.

“It’ll be fine,” Chaos assured himself and happily watched the screen as a large, black feline-like creature attacked its helpless prey.

Chapter 4: Strange Marks

View Online

Low in the horizon, the moon was ready to end the first night of the renewed planet. The new creatures of the planet were fast asleep, unaware that a new day was about to begin. The dark creatures of the night were wearing down, exhausted from their busy first night. A certain other creature, or shall we say spirit, was finally getting tired from the exciting, long night as well. Seeing his creations settle down, boredom and exhaustion set in. With a big yawn and a tried stretch, Chaos finally put away the Viewer. He took at quick glance at his colored stripes. Only his pink color was present.

Waving a dismissive stub, he said, “I’ll worry about in the morning.” He yawned again. “I’m sure I’ll be good by then.” Rubbing his green, heavy eyes, he dematerialized to finally get some rest.

Suddenly, Chaos popped back into the Viewer “room.” With widen eyes he looked at the low moon. It was in the proper position for him to finish lowering it. It was morning! Almost morning anyway. Harmony would be there soon to raise the sun. He couldn’t care less what she thought, but she would surely tell Control. His was an opinion he cared about. He would be in big trouble when Control found out that he didn’t rest at all! Harmony had like two colors when he saw her last night, and that was hours ago! She had to have at least three by now! What was he going to do?!

He looked around frantically as if a solution would just appear. Instead, he took notice of the moon again. And he still had to lower the moon! He slumped over. He was too tired for all this trouble. He fell to the ground. He felt too worn out to even float. Maybe if he just lied there everything would fix itself. His eyes grew heavier. His eyelids drooped.

“Chaos,” a surprised voice said. Chaos’s eyes flew open as he yelled in surprise. He quickly jumped up, breathing rapidly. “Why were you on the floor?” Harmony asked with her head tilted slightly.

“I…ah…” he said, at a loss for a good explanation.

“You didn’t actually beat me here to lower the moon, did you?” Harmony asked.

“Ahh…yes! That’s exactly it!” he said triumphantly. He continued coolly, “You were taking so long to get here, that I got bored. So I waited on the floor for you. It’s about time you showed up.” He crossed his studs and turned away, as if he were mad at her. She made a face at his offensive words. Then she just rolled her eyes at his characteristic antics. He grinned, eyeing her from his peripheral view. She had seemed to have bought it. But he forgot one important thing.

Harmony gasped, “What happened to your energy?!” His eyes widened. Then he cringed. He was busted! “Your power’s as low as it was last night,” she exclaimed. Her face suddenly froze in realization. He bit his lip. “You didn’t rest at all last night, did you?” she asked with accusation. Not waiting for an answer, she continued, “That’s why you were lying on the floor!” His eyes darted around out of her view as he quickly tired thinking of something. Harmony had her stubs where her hips would be, waiting for an answer this time.

Turning around and looking down at himself, he said in mock astonishment, “What happened to my power?!” Harmony wrinkled her face and turned her head slightly.

“What do you mean?” she asked, her eyes narrowing.

“I rested just like I was supposed to-” she rolled her eyes “-but my power did not recharge!” he cried.

“Oh really? Then why do I have so much power?” she asked, not convinced. She gestured to herself, showing him that there were over three colors restored on her.

“It’s probably because you slept so late. My power must have drained while I was waiting for you!” he accused her.

“You expect me to believe that? I did not sleep late. It is precisely time to raise the sun,” she said.

Her eyes suddenly widened as her brain realized what she just said. She quickly glanced at the planet. She gasped and grabbed Chaos’s shoulder. “It’s time to raise the sun!” she said in a panic while shaking him. Spinning him around so fast he almost got whiplash, she said, “Quick! Lower the moon!” She pushed him forward; he stumbled in the process. Then he made a face at her. She bit her lip. He sighed and raised his heavy stubs. They glowed dimly as he struggled with the large orb. Harmony chewed on the tips of her stubs. As soon as he was finished, she pushed him out of the way and began frantically raising the sun. Her stubs glowed brightly as the sun practically flew into the sky. He stumbled back. Then he just let himself fall over, too tired to bother to catch himself. Forcing one stub up, he lazily waved it, making the stars disappear. Once the sun was in place, she sighed with relief.

“That was close,” she breathed. She noticed her counterpart was collapsed on the floor again. Before she could continue their argument, a bright green light flashed. It was Control. His usual blank face was bent into a slight frown. It was obvious to Harmony that he was not happy about something. She gulped. Chaos slowing lifted his head with a groan. Seeing his unhappy mentor, his exhaustion was expelled immediately. He quickly sprang up and flew behind Harmony. Then he carefully peeked out at Control.

“G-good morning, sir,” she said with polite nervousness. He did not acknowledge her. He simply floated past them and over to the edge of the floor. Harmony slowly spun, following his movement. Chaos moved with her, as not to be seen by his displeased superior. Expression unchanged, Control peered down at the planet. “I-Is something wrong, sir?” she asked. Silent still, he observed the globe. Chewing her lip, she waited for him to speak. After a long, nerve-racking wait, he finally turned around. Chaos’s head shot back behind his nervous barrier. Without a word, Control looked directly down at Harmony. He knew he did not need to speak; she would never try to get anything past him. To her at that moment, his green eyes felt as though they were drilling straight through her soul.

“I’m sorry, sir! I know I was a little late raising the sun! I was ready on time, but I got distracted! I’m so sorry,” she blurted out.

“You know the importance of the timing of the sun,” Control said evenly, “It has a cycle at which it must adhere at all times. It is your responsibility to make sure it does.”

“I understand, sir,” she said, lowering her head.

“Do I need to take that responsibility from you?” he asked stoically.

“No, sir,” she said, looking down. Chaos covered his mouth trying to hold in his laughter. Harmony, the perfect goodie-goodie, was actually getting reprimanded by her oh-so admirable mentor. Head still down, she glared in his direction.

“The cycle of the moon is important as well,” Control spoke aloud to the room. Chaos halted his laughter immediately. Harmony raised her head and looked at Control. His eyes were peering behind her. Turning her head to look at Chaos, she grinned. With big eyes and a pouting lip, he pleaded silently with his stubs. She just held her uncharacteristic, mischievous grin. He whimpered. Feeling sorry for him, despite her annoyance, she sighed. He smiled hopefully. She would never lie to her respectable mentor, but she could at least try to soften his blow on the pathetic, grayed-out spirit cowering behind her.

Turning back to Control, she said, “Sir, it is true that Chaos was late lowering the moon, but that was only because he was so tired.” He slightly raised an eye ridge. Chaos elbowed her. Maybe she couldn’t soften the blow after all. But perhaps she could at least warn Control, so he wouldn’t be so surprised when he saw Chaos’s state. That might help Chaos some.

“He was tired because he was too intrigued by his creations last night to rest,” she explained.

“Harmony!” Chaos whispered harshly.

“I’m sorry. I’m doing the best I can. I can’t lie,” she whispered back defensively. Maybe she wasn’t the best person for this job. To Control she said, “In short, sir, his energy is not at half capacity as you ordered. It is far from it.” She floated to the side, revealing the surprised and almost gray spirit. His eyes widened as he frantically tried to cover himself with his stubs.

“Disharmony,” Control said sternly, without raising his voice. Chaos gulped, not daring to correct the use of his real name. “Why have you disobeyed me in such a drastic manor?” Control asked, only looking down at him with his eyes.

“I…ah. Didn’t Harmony already tell you that?” Chaos said carefully, glancing at her. Her eyes widened slightly in surprise as she was pulled into the conversation again.

“You cannot depend on Harmony to speak for you,” Control said calmly. Chaos twiddled his stubs nervously, trying not to look at his mentor. “Now, answer the question,” he said a little louder.

“Well,” he began, his pitch high. He continued, “I just wanted to keep an eye on my night creatures. You did ask us to watch them, didn’t you?” Control just stared down at him. Chaos looked down at his twiddling stubs, then back up at him. “They need to be watched too, don’t they? My job is to do that, right?” Chaos asked nervously.

“You were told to rest and refuel your energy last night. Your job is to obey orders. Now, give a straight answer,” Control demanded. Chaos looked down. He glanced at Harmony. She just looked at him sympathetically. She could not help him. Control told him to speak for himself. She smiled kindly and waved her stubs encouragingly for him to go on. She understood what it was like to admit wrongdoings to their unforgiving mentor. He looked back at Control.

“Really? You said that? I thought we were to watch the planet at all hours,” Chaos lied, anxiously. She just wished he’d be honest and stop digging himself deeper into the hole he was burying himself in. Control looked at her.

“I reminded him last night that you wanted us to rest,” she quickly said. Chaos glared at her. “Sorry,” she apologized. She was as bad at keeping things from Control as Chaos was at admitting things to him. Control turned his glare back at the accused.

“Okay, I’ll admit it. I disobeyed your direct order and did not recharge my power at all. I stayed up all night to watch my dark creature just to enjoy it,” Chaos confessed. She smiled at his honesty. “But why shouldn’t I have?” he asked angrily. Her smile dropped. “I worked hard to create those creatures. I had to watch Harmony’s creatures all day. I almost threw up because of all the harmony and cuteness! I deserved the right to watch my best creatures last night!” Chaos defended furiously. Control’s anger showed through more obviously. Harmony was even getting nervous. But Chaos ignored it; he was on a roll. “How could you deny me the right to watch my creations on the first night of their lives?! Harmony got to watch her creatures practically all day. She got to see them take their first steps, meet their families, and even learn how to fly. Most of mine are out at night. If I hadn’t watched them, I would have missed their firsts!” Chaos yelled. Harmony started to feel for him. She didn’t realize how important this was to him. What if she had missed the beauty of the bunnies accepting their odd antlered son? “I wouldn’t have seen them catch and maul their first prey or see them chow down on its live body as it squirmed,” Chaos continued, voice and eyes darkening as he grinned at the memory of it. Harmony cringed. That sounded terrible to her, but it was something he enjoyed. She still understood his side, as disgusted and upset as she was by what he just said.

“That’s enough,” Control said, voice raised slightly. They both looked up at him. Chaos pouted slightly, his vivid memory being interrupted. He continued, “Your excuses are not of concern. Regardless of your reason, you have disobeyed orders…”

“My reasons should concern you!” Chaos interrupted, “They are valid!” Harmony shrunk down and floated back. Chaos’s face hardened. He floated up to Control’s eye-level. He no longer cared what Control thought; he felt he was in the right. Control’s eyes narrowed. “Your orders don’t concern me! They were wrong!” Chaos spat. Harmony gasped. Chaos’s black glow expanded. His eyes were darker green, black mist flowing from them. Control’s eyes slanted slightly in anger. Chaos flew up to him, face to face. His sharp teeth showed as he growled. Harmony shut her eyes. Granted Control still didn’t appear to be very angry, but she had never seen him this mad before. They always butted heads, but Chaos never stood up to him like this.

Chaos was suddenly throw back and pinned to the ground by a green light. Harmony opened one eye at the sound of his body crashing on the ground. Control’s light expanded from his body like an appendage that held the stunned spirit down. Chaos’s black glow shrank back down, and the mist is his eyes was gone. He looked up with now frightened eyes at Control as he towered over him. Control glared down at him. Chaos laughed nervously. Harmony covered her eyes.

“Your excuses are not valid. You were given an order. You will follow orders regardless if you feel they are unfair,” Control said, voice raised slightly.

“But…” Chaos tired.

“Not that you need an explanation, but there are reasons for ever order you are given. Your power was severely diminished. Do you know what would happen if your power were drained completely?” he asked, with seriousness.

Chaos gulped, “Yes, sir.”

“It was vital that the first moments of the creatures’ lives were carefully monitored. Nothing significant had occurred by nightfall, so it was safe for you two to rest. I would have felt if anything paramount had happened last night. The rest you neglected was critical to give you the energy you needed to lower the moon. It was very dangerous to lower the moon without proper rest, Disharmony,” he lectured.

Chaos made a face and asked, “If you can feel when something major happens, then why do we have to watch the planet at all?”

“Because that’s the order you were given. They are your creatures and your responsibility. It is your job to make sure their chaos does not go out of control,” Control said, pushing down on Chaos a little harder.

“Got it,” Chaos struggled to say under Control’s increased force.

“There will be no more back talk,” Control said aloud, releasing Chaos and turning around to face the planet again. Chaos pushed himself up and quickly floated next to Harmony. She uncovered her eyes. “Harmony, your power is as it should be. It is at a safe level. You do not need to rest tonight if you do not wish. You can take an extra night’s rest if you would like. Your power will slowly recharge even without it,” Control addressed her with his usual calm manner while turning back around to face them.

“Thank you, sir,” Harmony said, with a slight smile.

“Since most of the fault was not yours that the sun was late rising, you will not be punished. Do not let it happen again,” he warned.

“I won’t, sir,” Harmony said.

“Disharmony,” Control said, looking back at the once again droopy-eyed spirit who could barely stay afloat. He continued, ignoring his tired state, “You clearly are not responsible enough to make your own decisions. You are to stay by Harmony’s side at all times and obey her until your power is fulling restored. Then I will determine if you are ready to make your own decisions again.” Harmony’s jaw dropped.

“What?!” Chaos exclaimed, exhaustion gone again.

“There will be no back talk,” Control repeated, “You heard the punishment, Disharmony.” Chaos opened his mouth to argue, but he decided it was best not to be smashed into the floor again. He closed his mouth with a pout and just glared at the floor. He continued, “Furthermore, unless Harmony wishes to rest tonight as well, you will stay up with her to watch over your creatures.” Chaos looked up in shock. “After all, they are mostly your creatures and they are your responsibility,” Control reminded him.

“But my power is so low. What if it all runs out?! You just said it was important to recharge,” Chaos complained, unable to control himself.

“You have enough energy now,” Control simply said. Chaos looked down at himself. His grayish orange color was halfway restored. He turned his head to the side. How did that happen? He didn’t rest. In fact, he thought fighting with Control would have exhausted him more. “Your power will restore eventually. You will be fine as long as you do not exert yourself. If you are worried, then do not use any power except to raise and lower the moon and bring out the stars,” Control suggested, turning back around.

“Excuse me, sir,” Harmony said as politely as she could manage, “How long will it take for his power to restore without rest?” She felt as though she was being punished too. She had to look after her troublesome counterpart.

“You will have to wait and see. It depends on how much excess energy he uses,” Control answered, looking back at them.

“I understand, sir,” she said, trying not to sound too disappointed.

“Enough time has been wasted with all this nonsense,” Control said as he pulled the Viewer out. “Begin your observation,” he said evenly and faded out.

As soon as he was gone, Harmony let out a big sigh. “Come on, Chaos,” she said, floating over to the large screen. She lifted her glowing stubs and began circling around the globe. She glanced back at Chaos. His head was down. “You didn’t fall asleep, did you?” she half teased. She found the spot she was looking for and put her stubs down. “Chaos,” she said, floating over to him.

“Huh?” he said raising his head, eyes still looking down.

“What are you looking at?” she said, looking down.

“Nothing,” he said distracted, looking up and blinking his eyes.

“Okay. Can you come help me then, please?” Harmony asked. He floated past her over to the Viewer. “You must be really tired. You didn’t even complain,” Harmony pointed out, joining him. He was looking down again. She followed his eyes. They were focused on his half orange stripe. She turned her head and looked at his face. His expression was confused but focused. She shook her head and began zooming in with the Viewer.

“Have you ever restored your power without resting?” Chaos suddenly asked.

A little surprised by the sudden break of silence, she said, “I don’t think so. Not more than a gradual increase like normal. But I do feel more energized when there’s harmony around me. Harmony makes me feel good.” She smiled and continued searching with the Viewer. He put his stub to his face, looking back down. Harmony energized Harmony. Maybe disharmony fueled him. His argument with Control was quite the display of chaos. He made a thoughtful sound. “Are you okay? You seem very distracted,” Harmony asked, a bit concerned.

“Ah, yeah. I’m fine,” he said with a grin.

“If you’re sure…” Harmony said.

“Yes, I’m perfectly fine,” he said, rubbing his stubs together. She made a face at him. He quickly put his stubs down, grin dropping. Then he looked up at the Viewer. “Ponies?! Again?” he complained.

“They are very interesting, and I still believe they have a chance at harmony,” Harmony defended. “Besides, you were the one watching them all by yourself last night,” she said with a smile.

“Only because I wanted to see the winged ones get eaten. I told you they were getting close to my forest,” he reminded her, crossing his stubs. “I don’t want to watch them anymore,” he said, raising his stubs. They glowed dimly.

“Chaos, no,” Harmony said, pushing his stubs down. “You can’t use any extra energy.” He pulled his stubs away from her. “Besides, Control said I’m in charge. You have to do what I say, and I say we are going to watch the ponies,” she said matter-of-factly.

“That’s not fair!” he yelled.

“Yes it is. You disobeyed Control. Now you are being punished,” Harmony said calmly.

“But I don’t wanna be puiniiiished,” he whined.

“Chaos, stop. You’re acting like a baby,” she told him.

“I’m not a babyyy,” he whined again.

She sighed, “I’m not happy about this either. I don’t want to be in charge of you. You are too difficult.” Chaos yawned and rubbed his eyes, his tiredness catching up to him again. “Aww, you’re just grumpy because you’re tired,” she cooed.

“I said I’m not a baby,” he said with seriousness.

“Then take your punishment like a man and help me watch the ponies,” she ordered.

He glared at her. But then he looked up at the Viewer anyway. “I’m only doing this because I’m too tired to fight. I need to conserve my energy; I don’t want my punishment to last any longer than it has to,” he said, crossing his stubs.

“Agreed,” Harmony stated.

~~~~~

The earth ponies had just begun opening their rested eyes as the sun shined onto their faces. A pink earth filly cracked her brown eyes open. She blinked at the bright sunlight and rubbed her eyes. Sitting up with a yawn, she looked up to find the source of light.

She gasped loudly and exclaimed with joy bouncing at every sentence, “The light is back! The light is back! The light is back!” The ponies within earshot groaned as they were woken by the shrilling squeals of the bubbly filly. The filly’s parents sat up to check on her.

“What did you say, Pudding?” her mom, Pink Fudge, asked groggily.

“I said, ‘The light is back! The light is back! The light is back!’” she repeated excitedly, bouncing again. Fudge looked up, shielding her eyes.

“Look, Caramel,” Fudge said, pointing up.

Squinting up, he said, “I see it, Fudge.”

“I guess the unicorns decided they didn’t want to tussle with us after all,” Fudge said with a satisfied grin.

“It sure looks that way,” Caramel agreed, smiling as well.

“My friend, Cookie, said she doesn’t think the unicorns had anything to do with it. She said they are just lights that allow us to see,” Pudding chimed.

“What? Of course it was the unicorns. They used their unnatural magic to do it,” Fudge argued.

“I know. That’s what I told her. I told her they took away this light-” she pointed up “-so they could put a cookie in the sky to torture us,” Pudding continued.

“A cookie?” her mother asked, confused.

“That big thing that was in sky before we went to sleep,” the pink filly explained.

“It did look like a cookie, didn’t it?” her father mused, hoof on his chin. Fudge made a face at her husband.

“Yeah, but Cookie said it couldn’t be a cookie because cookies don’t glow,” Pudding said, a little sadly. “And I couldn’t argue with her because she is a cookie,” she explained loudly.

“Pudding, were you…talking to a cookie?” Fudge asked concerned.

Pudding snorted and said, “No, of course I wasn’t talking to a cookie. He he! Cookies don’t talk, mom. Her name is Cookie, Smart Cookie actually. She’s a filly, like me. Well, not exactly like me. She’s sort of a light brown color. Her mane and tail are short and yellow. She has freckles on her checks.” She smooshed her cheeks with her hooves to emphasize. Fudge looked around, searching for the filly that had put this garbage in her daughter’s head. Spotting her, she scooped Pudding up and trotted over to the trouble-making filly. Caramel quickly jumped up and galloped after them.

Once they reached the brown filly, Fudge located an orange mare who was presumably Cookie’s mother. “Is this your daughter?” Fudge bitterly asked the orange earth mare.

“Yes. Is there ah problem?” the mare asked, trying to stay mannerly.

“Yes. Your daughter has been talking nonsense to my daughter. She put it in her head that the unicorns had nothing to do with the light disappearing,” she explained angrily.

Pudding jumped off her mom’s back and bounced over to Cookie. “Hi, Cookie!” she greeted happily.

“Hi,” Cookie replied, distracted by the argument that was unfolding above her.

“It’s not nonsense. Ah don’t believe the unicorns had anything to do with it either. Your daughter is the one talkin’ nonsense. Cookie said she was babblin’ on about ah cookie in the sky,” Cookie’s mom defended.

“What’s goin’ on, Citrus?” a brown stallion asked, ready to defend his wife. He had come over to make sure his family was okay.

“This crazy mare is accusin’ our daughter of talkin’ nonsense about the unicorns,” Citrus answered, pointing at Fudge.

“Who are you calling crazy?!” Fudge asked angrily, getting up in her face.

“You, you puffy-maned lunatic!” Citrus shouted, pushing her away.

“Don’t shove me!” Fudge yelled, pushing her back.

“Get your hooves off of her!” the brown stallion demanded, smacking her hoof down.

“Hay! Only I can touch her!” Caramel yelled, finally joining in. Everypony looked at him strangely. “Wait, I mean…”

“You’re not helping!” Fudge yelled at him. “And who do you think you are?” she asked the brown stallion.

“Ah’m Cinnamon Straw, Citrus’s husband. And ya’ll better not lay a hoof on her again,” he said with anger.

“She pushed me first!” Fudge defended her actions.

“That’s because ya’ll were all up in my face!” Citrus argued.

“Because you called me crazy!” Fudge disputed.

“Ya’ll are the one who stormed over here and accused my daughter when she did nothin’ wrong!” Citrus harshly reminded her.

“Um, ma,” Cookie said, pulling on Citrus’s foreleg.

“Not now, Cookie,” she said, shaking her off.

“But, ma…” Cookie tried again.

“Cookie, please,” Citrus said, getting annoyed.

“Everypony, be QUIET!” Pudding shouted. They all stopped arguing and looked at her in shock. “Cookie is trying to say something,” she said in here usual happy tone.

“Ahh, thanks, Pudding,” Cookie said unsure. The pink filly smiled in return. “Ah just wanted to say that Ah didn’t want Pudding to get in trouble. Ah was just talkin’ about what she said. Ah wasn’t meanin’ to tell on her,” she continued. Her parents looked at her and then at each other. “Ah actually thought it was kind’a funny,” she said, smiling at Pudding. “And Ah know she didn’t mean any harm. She was just being herself. And Ah don’t think there is anythin’ wrong with that,” she declared, stomping her hoof and staring up at the adults. Her parents’ ears went down in shame.

“We’re sorry, Cookie,” Citrus said, “It’s not like me to argue. Ah was just tryin’ to defend you. Ah guess Ah got carried away.” Cookie smiled up at her.

“Ahem. Excuse me. But she is still at fault,” Fudge said, pointing an accusing hoof at Cookie.

“This fightin’ is gettin’ us nowhere,” Citrus said calmly, “Cookie has done no more wrong than your daughter has. They both were just talkin’ and sharin’ their opinions. And they seem to be gettin’ along just fine even though their opinions are different. Ah think we need to take a lesson from them.” She smiled at her daughter.

“But her opinion is wrong. I don’t want her corrupting Pudding’s mind,” Fudge argued.

“It’s ain’t nice to be blaming the unicorns for everythin’ either. They didn’t do anythin’ but use the magic that they were born with,” Cookie preached.

“That magic is unnatural!” Fudge argued.

“It seems sort of neat to me,” Caramel mused. Fudge glared at him. He shut his mouth and quickly looked away.

“It ain’t a matter of their magic that bothers me. They think they are better than us. They act like they should rule the world!” Cinnamon disputed.

“I’m sure they ain’t all that way, Pa,” Cookie said, putting her hoof on his.

“Platinum was!” Pudding argued.

“Okay, that’s enough!” Fudge said loudly. Startled by the shout, they all turned their attention towards her. “Clearly, we all feel differently about the unicorns, and I don’t believe we are going to come to an agreement anytime soon,” she continued. She held her head high and circled around them. “That is why from now on all earth ponies will listen to me,” she announced, “I have spoken for us before against the other odd ponies, and I had also declared that we stay here.” She hopped up on a large rock and proclaimed loudly, “At this point, I am taking official charge over every earth pony here.” The other earth ponies had gathered around, hearing all the commotion. They chattered among themselves about what the pink mare was saying. “From now on, you all will address me as Grand Chief Pink Fudge,” she announced loudly. Everypony gasped. Their eyes looked towards her back-end. “I will take everyponies’ opinions into consideration. All disputes will first go through my Chief, Purple Caramel,” she said, gesturing at him. His mouth was agape. His eyes were locked on her glowing flank. “Then he will speak to me. All final decisions will be made by me,” she stated, eyes closed and hoof on her chest.

Hearing no quarrel, she opened her brown eyes. All eyes were staring at her rear. She made a face in confusion. Then she followed their eyes with her own. She gasped, seeing her glowing flank. She quickly covered it with her puffy brown tail. Panicked, she backed up and fell off the rock. She tumbled to a stop in the dust. Everypony quickly surrounded her. Once the dust settled, they all could see the mark that the light had left behind. After shaking her head, the fallen mare quickly checked her flank. On it was what appeared to be a brown puffy hat with pink jewels. On top of the muffin-like hat was a pink block of fudge that had a bite taken out of one of its corners. She gasped and moved her tail over it again. Ears down, eyes wide, and breath rapid, she frantically glanced around at all the eyes on her.

“What is that?” one pony whispered.

“S-see! Look at what those unicorns have done now!” Fudge yelled, “They marked me!”

“F-F-Fudge,” Caramel stuttered. “They marked me too!” he panicked. He swung his rear around and showed everypony his mark. It was a purple cube of caramel wearing a purple cape and a yellow hat similar to the one on Fudge’s mark. The hat had light brown jewels and melted brown caramel on top.

“This is an outrage! We must do something now!” Fudge said, standing up and stomping one hoof. She marched in the direction of the mountain in which the unicorns had gone. Most of the others began to follow, either agreeing with her or being too afraid to say any different. Caramel looked back down at his mark. He carefully touched it. It did not burn or hurt him in any way. He hummed and rubbed his hoof over it. Then he smiled. Fudge noticed he wasn’t following her and quickly stormed over to him. “What are you doing?” she asked angrily.

He looked up with a grin and said, “It feels…good.”

“What?!” she asked, face wrinkled in irritation.

“It feels good,” he repeated, “I like it. It just feels right, like it’s supposed to be there.” He smiled. She snarled at him. He shrunk back.

“Now the mark is poisoning his mind!” she shouted, pointing at him.

“Fudge,” Caramel pipped up.

“That’s Grand Chief Pink Fudge!” she yelled hysterically. Everypony backed up in surprise and fright. The self-proclaimed grand chief seemed to be losing her mind. Caramel carefully stepped forward nervously.

“I-I d-don’t think it was the u-unicorns,” he spoke fearfully. She glared at him with a growl. He quickly looked away. Not looking at her, he continued, “T-the mark h-has a hat and-and a cape that looks like what a chief might wear.” He looked at her with only his eyes, his head still turned. “A-and you just said I was chief. And it has purple caramel like my name,” he said with more confidence, turning his head towards her. She stalked closer to him. She was not pleased that he was standing up against her. She just declared that she was in charge, not him. He backed up, but spoke nonetheless, “Your mark looks like a grand chief’s hat, and it has pink fudge on top.” Her stalking ceased. “It shows how important you are,” he concluded. Her expression turned serious. She hummed thoughtfully, rubbing her chin and looking at her mark with only her eyes. Then she turned on her heels and leaped on to the rock. Caramel sighed and wiped his forehead in relief.

“This mark is proof that I am to lead you. It shows all of you that I am your grand chief!” Fudge announced proudly, “And his mark proves he is your chief.” He joined her beside her rock. She quickly thought of her first decree as grand chief while she had their attention. “As grand chief I declare that we need food. This half-” she pointed to the group that contained Citrus and her family “-will spread out and find food. The other half will begin building shelters for everypony, as well as a place for us worthy of our titles,” she ordered. Everypony looked at each other, unsure if they should take orders from this unstable mare. “Get moving!” she demanded, stomping her hoof. Everypony quickly spread out, deciding they would rather stay on this crazy mare’s good side. She smiled with triumph. Pudding looked up at her, unsure of how to feel about her mom’s sudden power over everypony. She looked over to Cookie as she left with her parents to search for food. The brown filly looked back at her with the same uncertain expression.

~~~~~

Over in the mountain cave, the sunlight had just crept through the cave’s mouth, waking up the sleeping unicorns. The green maned purple filly was the first to wake. During the night, she had slipped away to sit at the cave’s entrance to get a better look at the moon. Seeing the sun had returned, she hopped up and trotted to her mom.

“Mom,” Clover whispered, “It’s back.” She gently shook her. The mare slowly pushed herself up. She was suddenly pushed from behind. She looked back and saw her daughter excitedly trying to move her to the cave entrance. “Come on,” Clover whispered impatiently. Her mother laughed. Once they reached the cave’s mouth, Clover pointed up at the sun. “See! There is it,” she said in amazement, “It’s fascinating.” Her mom giggled, ruffling her mane.

“What’s got her so excited, Iris?” Clover’s father asked.

“Oh just the lights again, Fescue,” she answered with delight.

“She’s such a curious little filly, isn’t she?” he mused, smiling at his inquisitive daughter as she studied the sun.

“Yes, and I love that about her,” she said with a gentle smile. She rested her head against his. He put his foreleg over her shoulders in return. Their daughter continued admiring the sun, shielding her green eyes.

“Ahem,” a deep voice broke the peace. Parting, the couple turned to find the large silver unicorn staring at them. Iris swept up Clover underneath her, stepping out of the way. Silver Sapphire strolled between them and turned to face the waking unicorns. “It is time to continue our journey up the mountain,” he announced. He turned back around and walked out into the still damp grass. Standing profile towards the cave, he waited for his family to join him.

Gasping quietly, Clover quickly whispered to Iris, “Mom, look.” She pointed to the large unicorn. Iris pushed her impolite hoof down, but discreetly looked nonetheless. She quickly covered her mouth in astonishment. Subtly getting Fescue’s attention, she silently motioned to the silver unicorn. Fescue turned his head. She made faces and pointed with her head harder. He looked over at the unicorn. He spotted what she had seen. Taken back, he turned back to Iris. She shrugged. Then she gestured for him to say something. He quickly shook his head no. The silver stallion was not fond of him already. He certainly didn’t want to inform the much-larger-than-him unicorn that he had some strange abnormality on his rear. Iris gave him a look. He gave her an uneasy look back. Then he slowly turned to Silver Sapphire. His family had joined him. The others were just inside the cave next to Fescue, waiting for the proclaimed leader to lead the way. Fescue gulped and carefully stepped forward. He cleared his throat. But before he could speak, he was thankfully interrupted by a quiet gasp.

“Silver,” the pale gray mare by his side whispered urgently, “Your flank. There’s something on it.” She turned her head slightly towards it. He glanced back and saw the offense. His eyes widened. He quickly hid it with his tail and composed himself. He turned and motioned for the unicorns to start walking. She gasped too loudly, “There’s one on this side too.” Everypony stopped and looked back at her.

“Ahem, everypony wait for us up ahead. Prepare yourselves for our journey,” Silver Sapphire ordered as calmly as he could. Everypony did as he said. Fescue and his family remained in the cave entrance-way. Once he thought the ponies were all out of view, he quickly ran over to the nearby pond, which pooled below the mountain from the stream that ran down it and continued through the woods. He turned his rear towards the water and observed his flank. He gasped. Somepony as regal as he could not have such a blemish, especially in such an embarrassing place. He dipped his tidy blue tail into the water. He flung it out and began frantically scrubbing the imperfection. His wife quickly did the same to the other side. Platinum finally noticed the mark as her parents hysterically tried to remove it.

“Daddy! What is that?!” she shrieked.

“I don’t know, princess. But I must remove it before the others see,” Silver said desperately.

Iris and Fescue peeked outside of the cave at the mad pair. “Come on, let’s go before he notices us,” he whispered, carefully taking a step out of the cave.

“Maybe we should help,” she suggested.

He twirled around to face her and said, “Iris Ruby, are you insane?! He obviously doesn’t want anypony to see him, and he won’t be too happy if we just trot right over there and ask…”

“Do you need help?” Clover politely asked, peering up at the tall stallion as he continued to thoroughly soak his rear. Surprised, he jumped back and splashed into the water, creating a large wave that soaked his family. Clover quickly shielded herself with a magic force field.

Fescue gasped and galloped to the scene. Iris quickly followed. “Clover!” he scolded, once he reached them.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to,” Clover apologized. “Here, let me fix it,” she said, lighting her horn. She stuck out her tongue, focusing. The wet unicorn floated up out of the water and was gently placed on the ground. Silver breathed heavily, fur and mane dripping wet and clinging to his body. Fescue cringed. The water was suddenly expelled from their three bodies and gently splashed back into the pond. He turned back. Iris’s horn stopped glowing.

“My mane!” Platinum screeched. Her mane and that of her mother and farther were messy and pulled to one side by the force of the removed water.

“Sorry. I’ll fix it,” Clover said, lighting her horn.

“You’ve done enough,” Silver said angrily.

“I thought I told you to control your filly,” his wife said, glaring at Iris.

“She was just trying to help,” Iris defended, holding Clover protectively against her legs.

“Enough. Fluorite, I can handle this,” Silver said, addressing his wife.

“It’s still there!” Platinum shrieked, pointing to his flank.

“How it that possible?” Silver asked, looking back at it with wide eyes.

“Maybe I can get it off with magic,” Clover suggested. Lighting her horn, she lite up the mark and pulled.

“Ow!” Silver hollered, jumping back. This time he landed on solid ground instead of into the pond.

“Sorry,” Clover said sheepishly. He rubbed his sore spot, as Fluorite quietly fixed his mane, her and her daughter’s mane already done.

“Have you really looked at it?” Iris asked suddenly, head turned and face wrinkled. “It looks like some kind of design or image,” she said, looking at it closely. He gave her an angry looked. Everypony followed Iris’s lead. He raised his eye ridges and then looked at it as well. It looked like a blue jewel wearing a hat. He squinted his eyes at the hat. It had a white puffy bottom with blue arrowhead shapes on it. The top had several rounded, triangular, shiny, silver points with light blue circles on each. It wasn’t just a hat; it was a crown. The mark was a blue sapphire jewel with a crown. He raised his head and hummed thoughtfully. He glanced back at it. Then he looked at his daughter. He rubbed his chin. Then he grinned.

“It is a mark of power!” he abruptly declared, startling everypony. “See how the jewel wears a crown?” he said, pointing to his mark, “It means that I am king. I am the Unicorn King!” He looked at Platinum and Fluorite. “And you are my queen and princess, princess,” he announced. “Come, let us go heed this wondrous news to the others,” he said, sauntering back towards the group, “They shall build a castle worthy of a king on top the high mountain where we all shall live.” They all looked at each other. Then Fluorite humphed and stuck her nose up, joining her new king. Platinum looked back at the others. Then she did the same, following her mother. Clover, Fescue, and Iris exchanged astounded looks.

~~~~~

The pegasi had already woken up and began flying back down onto the forest ground. Thunder Cloud spread his impressive black wings as his daughter jumped on his back.

“Those unicorns must have been too afraid of us to keep their threat!” Hurricane said proudly, looking up at the sun.

“You won’t have to have a talk with them after all, Thunder Cloud,” her mother said, stepping beside him.

“It seems so, Navy Rain,” he mused, looking up. He flew down into the forest, Navy Rain following on his tail.

“See, I told you it would come back,” Honey said happily from the tree branch below while pointing up to the sky.

“I’m so glad it did,” Pansy said quietly with a small smile.

“You need to stop being such a worry-ward,” Honey laughed, untying the vine from the tree.

“I know,” Pansy said, looking down. Honey looked at her with a kind smile. She finished freeing the vine and hoped onto her cousin’s branch.

Dropping the vine from her mouth, she said kindly, “I was just joking, Pansy. I didn’t mean anything by it.” She put a hoof on her shoulder. Pansy smiled up at her.

“Let’s keep moving,” Thunder Cloud announced as he landed below the tree. Navy Rain landed next to him, closing her wings. Hurricane jumped down off his back, as the others followed her father deeper into the forest. She looked around and made sure all the ponies were up and walking. She looked up. What she saw almost made her split a gut.

“Ha ha! What…ha…are you two blockheads doing?! Ha ha ha!” Hurricane laughed, rolling on the ground. Honey was struggling on a branch with the vine in her mouth slowly lowering Pansy down on the other end to the ground. Pansy had her eyes covered and her tail between her legs. “You two look ridiculous! Ha ha!” the blue filly snickered.

“Ish ont unny!” Honey tried to say, vine held between her teeth.

“She’s a pegasus! In case you haven’t noticed, we have wings. We can fly!” Hurricane argued, spreading her own wings for emphasis. Honey glared at her. Finally getting her cousin safe to the ground, she jumped out of the tree. Spreading her wings, she quickly glided to the other filly. She made a rough, stumbling land and snorted in the blue filly’s face. She stomped over to untie her cousin. “Impressive,” Hurricane said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. Honey ignored her and gently untied Pansy. She helped her up. Pansy smiled at her. They walked past the blue filly, making their way towards the leaving group. Honey didn’t even look at her. Pansy stayed low and tried to hide behind her cousin. Hurricane suddenly landed in front of them. Pansy squeaked and jumped behind Honey. “Hay! I was talking to you,” she said, “What’s her problem?” She pointed at the shivering filly.

“Well, for one, you just scared her. As for the tree, she can’t fly very well. I helped her down, so she wouldn’t get hurt,” Honey said, displeased at the ill-mannered filly.

“Oh come on. Seriously? Afraid to get hurt? We are pegasi! We’re tough!” she said proudly. She jumped in front of Pansy, poking her with her hoof and said, “We are not afraid of anything! We especially aren’t afraid to fall out a little tree!” Pansy curled up, hiding in her mane and tail. Honey quickly stepped between them defensively. “You can’t learn to fly if you’re afraid to fall! No pony can learn to fly without falling a few times,” she said, getting in Honey’s face.

“There’s nothing wrong with giving a helping hoof,” Honey defended, pushing Hurricane back with her head.

“No there’s not, until you take it too far!” she said, pushing her back. Honey pushed her again. She pushed back again. The head-butting continued for a while. Pansy just huddled in fright behind Honey.

The sky began to darken around them. A low rumble cascaded above the trees. Pansy peeked out from her blue hair. She peeked up. Gasping, she jumped under Honey. Surprised by the strange feeling beneath her, Honey looked down, causing Hurricane to fall forward. They both noticed the shadowed ground and looked up. The shadow was created by a dark cloud that Hurricane’s unhappy, glaring father was riding. She quickly pushed herself up and saluted him. He soared down and landed hard on the ground.

“What is the meaning of this, Hurricane?” be bellowed.

Putting her hoof down and standing tall, she responded, “These two slackers were falling behind. I stayed behind to get them in line.” He gazed down at her, then at the other two fillies.

“You two may go. Catch up with your parents. And next time, keep up with the group,” he ordered. Honey shook her head and quickly stepped over Pansy. She pushed her to get up, but she wouldn’t budge. Honey laughed nervously. She bit onto her blue tail and began dragging her away smiling awkwardly. Hurricane shook her head at them. “Hurricane,” he said, getting her attention, “Next time you come to me if there is a problem. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir,” she said, dropping her head.

“We need to catch up to the others,” he said, bending down so she could climb on.

“Dad, I can fly myself,” she argued.

“Your flying skills are lacking. It will be faster if I fly you,” he said. She hesitated. “That’s an order!” She quickly jumped on. He took off as soon as her hooves hit his back.

They soared over the tree tops. Below, slowly making their way back to the group was a disgruntled orange filly still dragging her balled up cousin. She let go to take a breath.

“Pansy,” she breathed, “We are away from them now. Can’t you walk?” She plopped down on her rear. Pansy peeked open one eye and carefully looked around. Seeing no danger, she slowly sat up. She saw her cousin’s tired state.

Feeling guilty, she immediately apologized, “Oh Honey, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, Pansy,” she said, still out of breath.

“No. If I wasn’t so afraid, you wouldn’t have had to drag me here or pull me up the tree,” Pansy defended.

“Pansy,” she said, putting a comforting hoof on her shoulder, “It’s okay to be afraid. You can’t help it. You’re just a timid filly. It’s not your fault.” She smiled at her. Pansy looked down.

“But I’m a pegasus. I’m not supposed to be afraid,” Pansy said miserably.

“Don’t listen to Hurricane. It doesn’t matter what she says. You are who you are supposed to be,” she said, lifting Pansy’s head to look her in the eye, “And I don’t mind dragging you around.” She smiled.

“Thanks, Honey,” she said softly, “You’re the best.” Pansy gave her a tight hug. Honey returned it gladly.

“Come on,” Honey said standing up, “Let’s catch up before our family starts to worry.”

“Oh, I hope they don’t get too worried,” Pansy said with concern. Honey chuckled as they made their way to the others.

With a little encouragement from Honey, they quickened their pace and rush deeper into the forest. They had lost a lot of time. They had to hurry before the group got too far. They trotted for a good, uneventful while. But then something changed. The plants of the forest had transformed into a strange flora. The branches drooped lower on the trees. Vines and long leafy plants dangled all around. Shadowy bushes were grown up everywhere almost making the path undetectable. Altogether, the forest felt different. An uneasiness hung in the air.

“D-does it s-seem darker to y-you?” Pansy asked, speeding up to get closer to Honey.

“Hum,” she hummed, looking around. Slowing down, she replied, “It does. And everything looks different too.” She observed the strange scenery some more, taking in the tense feeling in the air. Pansy crouched down next to her, eyeing the scary forest as well. “Come on. Let’s keep going,” Honey said, trotting forward. Pansy eeped and ran after her.

Along the way, Honey had a hard time staying on the trail. It was very difficult to find it through all the shrubbery. She pressed on anyway. She was determined to catch up. In one particularly tight spot, the sharp branched of the bushes dug into her skin. She cringed, but bore the pain and pushed them out of the way so Pansy could get through. The timid filly carefully crept through, trying to avoid the sharp twigs. Once she managed to get through unharmed, Honey let go of the bush and quickly jumped up out of the bush. She glided down in front of her cousin. Pansy noticed the scratches. She knew she was making it hard for her. If she could just fly, this trip would be so much easier. They would have had met up with their family much more quickly as well. Her head hung low as they continued forward. Honey took notice. She nudged her gently. She lifted her head, face full of sorrow. The orange filly smiled kindly, rubbing her head on her’s. She returned the smile.

After a while, they heard a loud commotion up ahead. Honey stopped, ears alert. She could hear crashing sounds and rustling leaves. She turned her head, trying to make out the sounds. Her ears where filled with distant shouts and roars.

“I think somepony’s in trouble,” Honey gasped. Pansy’s ears went down and she took a step back. “Stay right here. I’m going up that tree to get a better look,” Honey ordered.

“B-but…” Pansy said, being ignored. Honey was already heading up the tree. Partly flying, climbing, and jumping, she finally made it nearly to the top. She looked in the direction in which she heard the noises. It was still hard to see, but it looked like the pegasi were flying around some giant creature. Whatever it was, it wasn’t friendly. She quickly made her way down and landed next to her shaking cousin.

“There’s some kind of large creature attacking our group up ahead,” Honey informed. Pansy squeaked and covered her eyes. “I think they need help. Come on.”

“Y-you want u-us to g-go towards the d-danger?” Pansy asked shakenly, uncovering one eye.

“Pansy, I’m scared too. But that’s our family,” Honey said, uncovering her other eye, “They need our help.” She looked at her desperately.

“But we’re just fillies,” she argued.

“I know, but…” Honey said unsure, looking away. They were just fillies. But her family needed her. She stood up and said with determination, “But we are pegasi! We are strong. And we must protect each other.” She bent down to her level and gently said, “We may be scared, but we can do this.” Pansy quickly covered her eyes and threw her tail over her face. Honey sighed with defeat. She stood up and looked back towards the commotion. She knew this was dangerous, but she couldn’t just do nothing. She looked back down at her terrified cousin. Pansy wasn’t strong enough for this.

Honey’s eyes suddenly hardened. She quickly pulled a vine off a low branch of the tree and wrapped it around Pansy. She tossed the other end over the branch and flew up to another low branch catching the vine in her mouth on the way. She swiftly pulled her up and secured the vine around the tree. Before Pansy knew what happened, Honey said, “Stay here. You’ll be safe up here. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Honey leaped out of the tree before Pansy could beg her to stay. Honey was gone in a flash. Pansy whimpered and hid beneath her long pale blue mane and tail.

Honey dashed through the bushes, half flying and half running. She ignored the branches as they whipped her. The roaring penetrated her ears again. The sound grew louder as she hurried forward. The silhouette of the large creature began to form in front of her. It was larger than she had thought. She shook her head of any doubts and continued running. She could then make out the ponies flying around it. She sped up.

The creature’s form became clear. Its long body was made of what appeared to be dripping mud, which left brown, mucky puddles all over the ground below and even oozed onto some of the clumsier pegasi. Leaf-like green spikes ran from its rounded head down to its long viney tail, making it difficult to land on its back for any sort of leverage. The end of its tail contained several long, red, piercing spines. It used these to its advantage as it swung its massive tail at the ponies. Two matching red horns protruded from its large head, protecting it from blows to its head. It stood tall on its short back legs, and its small arms hung uselessly form its huge body. Sharp red claws were retracted from all four paws, prepared to strike. Its teeth were sharp as well and dripping saliva, ready to chow down on its next victim. Its whiskered muzzle was short with a small brown nose, which was so strong it could smell the sweet and blood as it dripped from the combating pegasi. The most frightening features were its dark eyes. Instead of white, its eyeballs were black as coal. Its irises were green with intimidating red pupils that could stun a pony in freight. It threw up its head roaring at one of the pegasi that had flown too close, throwing him backward. Leaf-like spines flared up threateningly around its head.

Honey quickly halted, sliding to a stop. What was she doing? That thing was vicious! Even the adults were having trouble. They were flying sloppily around it, barely avoiding its swinging tail and biting teeth. She breathed rapidly, watching the creature bite at the flying ponies. But she had to help. She gulped and slowly trotted closer. She spotted her older siblings a distance from the battle hiding behind a large tree. She quickly ran to them.

“What happened?! What is that thing?!” she asked in a panic, trying and failing to stay quiet. They jumped back facing her with their wings out, ready for action. Seeing only their little sister, their bodies relaxed.

“Where have you been?” her sister asked.

“What are you doing here?” their brother questioned.

“I was helping Pansy. We got behind. And I came to help,” Honey explained a little more calmly.

“You’re still letting that wimp hold you back?” her sister asked with displeasure.

“I told mom and aunt Cymbidium Spring I was going to help her down. You heard me tell them,” Honey said, a little aggravated.

“Yeah yeah, we heard you talking,” her brother said, rolling his eyes, “Where’d you leave her, anyway?”

“Somewhere safe and away from here,” Honey answered. “Now, tell me what happened.”

“You’d know if you could keep up,” her sister said.

“Amber, come on,” Honey whined.

“It’s Virga,” she corrected angrily.

“Just tell me what happened. This is no time for jokes,” Honey said with seriousness.

“Ahh, come on. We’re just messin’ with ya’,” her brother said.

“Saffron, we’re wasting time. They need our help,” Honey pleaded.

“First of all, I told you to call me Shear,” he said, pushing her with his hoof. “Secondly, we’re not allowed to help,” he said rolling his eyes.

“What? But…don’t they need us?” Honey asked, her face wrinkled in confusion.

“Phff, you got that right,” Virga said, peering around the tree as the battle continued. Every kick to the beast just left mud on their hooves. The dent in its body quickly oozed full of mud. Then the creature would attack again.

“We’re stuck babysitting,” Shear said, stepping aside. Now in view behind them were their younger brother and sister. They were twins as well.

“Haze, Fog,” Honey gasped, running to the foals for a hug. They squealed happily.

Shear pushed her back, shaking his head. “You are really bad with names,” he tisked.

“Yeah. It’s like you don’t even know us,” Virga agreed.

“Huh? But you want me call you by your second names,” Honey said.

“Yeah, but our second names are cooler,” Shear stated.

“Their second names are kind of lame,” Virga added.

“Much like our first names,” he sighed.

“Call them by their first names,” she said. “Ecru,” she said pointing at her sister, Haze.

“And Aureolin,” Shear finished, pointing his hoof at his brother, Fog.

“Get it straight, runt,” Virga said, pushing her chest.

“Yeah, you don’t see us calling you Dew, do you Honey Dew?” Shear teased. Honey pouted. She hated it when they teased her, which was pretty much every second they were together. And right now was not the time to be arguing about which names to call them, again. “Ah, lighten up,” he said, shoving her.

“Lighten up? Our family is out there fighting a giant monster right now, and all you two can do is tease me!” Honey shouted.

“They won’t let us help them, remember,” Virga harshly reminded her.

“Plus, we’re bored,” he said, dropping his head to one side.

“Aren’t you two worried? Don’t you care?” Honey asked.

“Of course we care, dummy,” Virga said, “But there’s nothing we can do.”

“Besides, they seem to be wearing it down now,” Shear said, glancing around the tree. The creature was stumbling around. Its movements were slow and sloppy. Its muddy body was dripping severely.

“Yeah, no thanks to uncle Nimbus,” Virga sneered. She pointed over to a large rock that their mud-covered uncle was using for cover.

“Pfft, sometime I thinks he’s as cowardly as his daughter,” Shear jeered.

“Nimbus Buff, more like Wimpus Untough,” Virga laughed. Shear joined in.

“Stop laughing! At least he’s trying,” Honey shouted.

“Speaking of trying, look who decided join the fight,” he said, pointing at a little yellow filly standing tall in front of the creature. Honey gasped and quickly dashed towards her. “Oof!” he said, holding his stomach.

“Shear! This isn’t funny. Now they’re both in real danger,” Virga scolded. “Stay here and watch the twins, while I go get the little hero,” she ordered, flying off to save the fillies.

“No fair! Why do you get to have all the fun?!” he shouted.

Honey ran blindly towards her cousin. She could hear the whooshing sounds of the pegasi as they zoomed above her. Mud was dripping everywhere. She was thrown up above the ground by the massive stomp of the large creature that was chomping and swinging its tail at the flying pests. She fell back down and continued running once she gained her balance. Her heart was racing. Her breathe was rapid. Her hooves pounded on the grown as she ran. Her wings were flapping useless against her sides. The beast’s large green tail suddenly crashed to the ground in front of her. She gasped. Running faster towards it, she leaped up and spread her wings. She glided safely over it and continued running. Several mud pile obstacles slowed her down, but she finally reached her cousin.

“Pansy! What are you doing?! Get out of here!” she shouted. The yellow filly was standing stiff. Her green eyes where wide open as was her mouth. “Pansy, snap out of it!” Honey yelled, clapping her hooves in her face. Pansy blinked as her mouth closed. She shook her head. Her eyes found Honey frantically staring in her face.

“H-Honey?” Pansy said, finally coming to. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I just wanted to help. I kept slowing you down. I just wanted to be brave like pegasi are supposed to be,” Pansy cried.

“Pansy, you were brave. You came all this way by yourself. But right now we have to get out of here!” Honey panicked. Pansy’s eyes looked past Honey. She could see the large creature stomping around behind her cousin.

“M-m-m-monSTER!” she screamed. Honey grabbed her hoof and ran. Once Pansy started running on her own, Honey let go and ran faster.

“RETREAT!” Thunder Cloud suddenly ordered. Without question, everypony quickly flew away from the beast. He was perched on top of a large dark gray cloud above the creature. “Head back to the flat top mountain we passed earlier,” he instructed as the pegasi began to fly past him. No longer distracted by the flying ponies, the enormous creature took notice of the fillies near its feet. It roared, flaring its green neck spines. Pansy screamed and ran faster, flapping her wings. Honey looked back. The creature had taken charge after then. She gasped and willed herself to go faster. With each step, the creature sent the two frightened fillies into the air. They landed clumsily back to the ground and stumbled back into a run. Its shadow began to cover them as it got closer. Honey’s heart beat faster. Her hooves and wings were getting sore. Sliding through and jumping over mud puddles, their pace was slowed. Pansy was falling behind. Scared as she was, Honey slowed down and got behind Pansy. She pushed her with her head, helping her run faster. They could feel the creature’s large paws stomping directly behind them, sending them higher into the air. Honey could almost feel its large red claws sweeping through her tail.

Then the stomping suddenly stopped. Honey fearfully glanced back. The creature was looking up, swatting at something orange and yellow with its spiked tail. It was Virga.

“Up here, you oversized mud heap!” Virga insulted. She swooped down, avoiding it swinging tail. She stumbled downward and sloppily pulled herself back up. Like the others, she still hadn’t perfected her flying. “Whoa.” She smiled, glaring back at the creature. “Is that all you got?” she egged him on. Honey smiled in relief at both her sister’s regain of control and at her helping them. Then she continued pushing her cousin forward. Virga kept weaving around distracting the beast as her sister and cousin ran to safety.

A loud rumble suddenly boomed through the forest. All three ponies looked up. The dark cloud Thunder Cloud was standing on had expanded and blackened. Light coursed through it.

“Look out!” Shear shouted, quickly shoving Virga out of the tail’s path. It clipped his back hoof, spinning him out of balance. Virga gasped and quickly flew to him as he descended. She bit his green tail and pulled him up. She stumbled. Shear quickly righted himself, keeping his sister from falling.

“You okay?” she breathed, worried.

“Yeah,” he answered, a bit shaken.

“Where are the twins?” she asked.

“Right here,” she said, gesturing to his empty back. They gasped and looked down in unison. They saw a brown and cream speck falling next to an orange and green one. Before they could soar after them, they heard their farther.

“You two get out of there! I’ll get the foals!” he said, zooming down.

“But Honey’s still down there!” Shear shouted.

“And Pansy too!” Virga added.

“Cirro, I’ll get the fillies!” Nimbus spoke up. He soared past Shear and Virga, the creature now focused on him.

“Fujita!” Cirro yelled to his wife, “Keep it distracted! And get those two out of here!” She flew down and precisely bucked the beast between its dark eyes and red horns. It roared in pain.

“You heard your father,” Fujita said, “Get out of here!” The twins hesitated but obeyed nonetheless.

Meanwhile, Cirro was quickly catching up to the falling foals. Seeing their dad, they giggled in glee. He smiled. He flapped harder and flew past them. He slowed down, catching them unsteadily on his back. He regained control and quickly flew up to safety. The creature had recomposed itself and was snapping at Fujita again. Down below Honey and Pansy were running, still waiting for Nimbus to reach them.

“What are you doing down there?!” Thunder Cloud demanded, peering over the cloud, “I ordered you all to retreat!”

Quickly approaching, Cirro shouted over the rumbling of the cloud, “Our family is still down there!”

He grunted, “You better get them out quick! This cloud is about to blow!”

“Nimbus, move your flank! Get them out of there before the cloud blows!” Cirro shouted down to his younger brother. Nimbus looked up. The cloud practically blocked all the light that was trying to shine through the trees. It was completely black now except for the lightening that was flowing through it. He gasped and quickly reached the ground. He landed roughly and ran beside the fillies.

“I got to get you two out of here!” he said.

“Daddy!” Pansy squealed. She immediately stopped running and tackled him. Honey slide to a stop. Looking up, she saw the monster was distracted by her mom. He pushed himself up, Pansy clinging to his back.

“Pansy, I can’t fly like this,” he said, pulling her off. He took her in his hoofs and hovered. “Come on,” he said, reaching for Honey’s hoof. Pansy slipped with a squeal. He quickly grabbed her with both hooves again and unsteadily righted himself. Honey looked at them, then at the monster. She looked back at Pansy. Her eyes were closed tight. Her hooves wrapped securely around her father’s. She could see her chest heaving rapidly. Honey’s face hardened.

“Take her to safety,” Honey ordered.

“What are you talking about? Come on,” he said, wobbling in the air and struggling to stay hovering.

“You can’t carry us both! Just get her out of here. I’ll figure something out,” Honey yelled, tears forming in her eyes.

“I’m not leaving you behind! And I won’t take orders from a filly,” he said.

“Think about your daughter,” she pleaded. Pansy was shaking and crying. “She needs your help more than I do. Go! You’re wasting time!” she shouted, pushing him. He wobbled around. He looked up at the expanding cloud. Then he looked down at her.

“I’m sorry,” he said. He took off into the air. Pansy opened her eyes. She saw Honey still on the ground as they flew up.

“Honey!” she screamed, “Daddy, you have to save her!”

“It’s okay, Pansy! I’ll figure this out! We’re strong, remember?!” she yelled back at her.

“Honey, no!” she cried.

“I’ll be fine,” Honey promised with a smiled, tears rolling down her face.

“HONEY!” Pansy balled, tears rolling down her checks. Nimbus sniffed. He had to save his daughter. She had the least change of surviving on her own. Honey quickly scanned her surroundings. Mud and debris were scattered across the ground. She spotted a fallen tree that rested over a large rock near the creature’s back paws. She smiled and quickly ran to it.

Finally seeing Nimbus flying out of the dark, Fujita flew away from the creature. She joined the others as they waited above the large cloud.

“Pansy! My little flower!” Cymbidium cried.

“Mommy!” Pansy cried. Nimbus carefully handed her over to his wife.

“Where’s Honey?” Cirro asked, looking around. Nimbus looked down. “You left her!” he yelled.

“I couldn’t carry both of them,” Cirro sniffed, “She told me to leave her.”

“That doesn’t mean you listen to her!” Fujita screamed, ready to punch him.

“Get back!” Thunder Cloud interrupted, “It’s going to blow!”

“Our daughter’s still down there,” Cirro told him.

“If I don’t do this now, this cloud will blow out of control. There’s no telling what damage it could cause,” Thunder Cloud informed.

“What about our sister?” Shear asked.

“Hopefully she’ll get herself out in time,” he sighed, expression hard.

They were suddenly swooped up by a gray cloud. They pushed themselves up. Navy Rain was pushing the cloud away from the larger one. Her face was serious. She looked away. Honey’s family looked down. Thunder Cloud was floating above the cloud, back legs ready to buck. Pansy found herself suddenly turned away. Hurricane held Pansy’s head on her shoulder, covering her ears. BOOM! A massive light lit the forest below as the thunder rumbled closely behind it. Pansy jumped, frightened by the sound. Then she cried into Hurricane’s shoulder for her cousin.

Thunder Cloud slowly flew over to the gray cloud. The cloud began to sprinkle water as the distressed family rode on top. He nodded to Navy Rain. She nodded back and pushed to cloud forward. He joined her, helping her push the broken family to the flat top mountain to meet up with the rest.

~~~

“Whoaaaaaaa!” a filly screamed as she was launched into the air past the black cloud. She soared above it. Freezing in the air for a second, she looked down at the now gray cloud. Then she started falling down. “Uh oh.” She rapidly flapped her wings, slowing her decent. She hit the cloud with a poof. A filly shaped hole was left in the cloud. She popped her head up out of the hole. She shook the cloud from her mane. “Whoa. I definitely hope I don’t have to ever do that again,” she said to herself, hoping out of the hole. “At least not until I can really fly,” she added, shaking some cloud off her back hoof.

She walked to the edge of the cloud and looked down. She cringed. The burnt creature was lying lifelessly down below. Its muddy body was dried to a clumpy crisp. The ground and trees around it were burnt black. “I’m really glad I wasn’t down there when that happened,” she said. She looked down at the creature again. Her eyes sadden as she said, “Poor thing.” After all, they were the ones who invaded its home. Maybe it was just trying to protect its territory. Maybe it even had a family. She wasn’t there when the others got there. For all she knew, they started the fight. She sighed sadly.

She backed up and looked around. Where did her family go? She remembered Thunder Cloud had said something about a flat top mountain. She looked around trying to find it. There was not much around her except for a foggy area in the distance. She squinted her eyes. She could just make out a large flat gray surface within the fog. That must be it. Then something else caught her eye. It was a smaller gray raining cloud. There were several colorful figures on top of it. She watched it for a moment. It was her family!

But how was she going to get to them? She still couldn’t fly well enough to go that far. They probably couldn’t hear her either. She looked around. She was stranded on a large cloud. No trees were close enough to reach. She bit her lip. She saved herself down there; she could figure this out too. She paced around, thinking. How could she get over there? She kicked at the clouds as she paced. Pieces floated up and then settled back down. She hummed. She scooped up some cloud and tossed it up. It floated down a bit, but floated independently above the larger cloud. She smiled. Walking to the edge of the cloud, she began digging. She kept digging until she created a hole all the way through. She repeated this until her little cloud was free. She stood up.

“Whoa,” she said, wobbling. She sat back down. Spreading her wings, she lied down and hugged the cloud. She flapped them a few times to test it out. She and the cloud moved forward a bit. She smiled. She flapped some more, moving forward again. Then she flapped harder, moving the cloud at a slow, but steady pace towards the mountain.

~~~

Thunder Cloud and the rest had reached the others at the mountaintop. He and Navy Rain pushed the raining cloud against the edge of the mountain. The dejected family climbed off and gloomily marched past the waiting ponies. The older twins had their heads held high, trying to stay professional even though inside they were boiling mad. If Thunder Cloud hadn’t fried that beast, they would have. Their parents did the same. Younger twins lying his back, Cirro was peeved as well. Inside, Fajita’s sadness was staring to lose the battle to her anger. Nimbus tried to keep his head up, but it was very difficult. His body was drenched with guilt. Cymbidium was sorrowful, but more for her own filly. Pansy was on her back, wrapped in her mother’s comforting wings, and her face was wet with still flowing tears. The other pegasi watched with confusion and curiousness as the family passed them. Hurricane climbed off the cloud. She looked at the broken family and quickly wiped away her stubborn tears as Thunder Cloud and Navy Rain landed in front of her. The others looked at their leader, awaiting answers.

“We will rest here for now,” Thunder Cloud said aloud, “The forest is too dangerous.” He walked past the crowd and turned to face them. “No pony is to step hoof in the forest beyond this mountain,” he ordered. “That forest,” he said, pointing down, “is dark. It is unlike the one we passed through before. It has already taken one of our own.” He turned his head towards Cirro and Fujita. His eyes were hard; his anger clouded any sympathy he may have had. The pair were cradling their foals, theirs hoof placed next to eat other on the hard rock ground. Virga was sitting with her back to them. Shear was next to her, facing them slightly. They both were looking down in anger. Cymbidium and Cirro were both trying to comfort their daughter. The other ponies chattered among themselves in a mixture of surprise, sadness, and anger. “Once everypony is rested, I will take a group to go gather food from the safer forest,” Thunder Cloud informed. “Rest, you’ve all earned it,” he said, peering at all the mud, bruises, scratches, and bleeding wounds that stained his warriors’ fatigued bodies. They were soldiers now, and he was their general.

A light suddenly caught his eye. He followed the glow to his flank. The others took notice, all trying not to stare. The light faded, reliving a mark. It was a dark gray cloud with lightening pulsing through it. At its bottom and below were five dark blue stars that matched his mane color. The stars were connected together, forming a pentagon. Everypony just stared, unsure of what to do.

“Whoa! What is that?!” Hurricane suddenly broke the silence.

“Hurricane!” Navy Rain hushed. The blue filly hunkered down. Navy Rain walked up to her husband. She glanced down at the mark. “Do you think it could be the unicorns that did this?” she whispered, seriousness in her voice. He looked down at the mark. “What if they were the ones who sent that creature on us?” she asked. He looked back, seeing the top of the mountain that the unicorns had traveled to far in the distance. He looked at the ground in thought, then back up at her.

“No,” he said in a low tone, “I would like to blame them for that monster as much as you would, but they are far away from us now. They couldn’t have done that, or this.” He gestured to his flank. He stood up. The other stood up straight, giving him their full attention.

Unknowingly to the others who had their backs turned to face Thunder Cloud, the filly they thought they had lost had finally made it to the mountain top. She hoped off her little cloud and trotted over to the others. Before she could say anything, he began speaking.

“This is a mark of authority,” he bellowed. “These…” he paused, studying the pointed shapes, “…stars and their arrangement mark me as your leader…your general, for you are all soldiers now. You proved this by your actions in the forest. As your general, I will train you all to become better flyers and better fighters. We must all learn to protect each other and ourselves, so we will never have to lose another pony again.” He looked back at Honey’s family. Honey smiled sadly from behind the crowd. He continued, addressing the others, “The thunder cloud symbolizes the weapon I used to defeat the monster. It shows my ability to take command over these clouds, to control them.”

Honey looked down with a sigh, thinking about the poor, misunderstood creature. Eyes widening, she gasped. Stamped on her flank were two hooves of differing colors locked together inside a pink heart. One hoof was white outlined in blue; the other was yellow outlined in orange. The heart had a purple outline. She had a mark too. But she didn’t have the authority he had. However, she did feel something. It felt good. She put her hoof on her chest. A warm, pleasant feeling flowed through her inside. She smiled.

She was brought out of her daze by a hoof stepping on her tail. She looked up at him. The stallion mumbled an apology and followed the others as they spread out to rest and lick their wounds. Once he had moved, she could see her family up ahead. She smiled and ran to them. As she approached them, she could see how upset they were. Most of them looked mad, probably angry at the creature. Her heart dropped when she saw Pansy, still crying on her mother’s foreleg. Honey smiled sympathetically, and hurried over to them. She knew how happy her cousin would be once she saw she was okay.

Honey slowed to a trot once she reached them and cleared her throat, “Ahem.” They looked up at the sound.

“Honey!” they gasped.

Fujita picked her up into a hug and said, “You scared me. I’m so glad you’re okay.” Honey smiled, embracing her back.

Cirro ruffled her mane and said, “That’s my tough girl.” Virga and Shear gathered around them.

“That creature was no match for my little sis,” Virga said, softly punching Honey’s shoulder. Honey’s ears dropped as she was forced to think about the poor creature again.

“Yeah, you showed him!” Shear added. “How’d you do it anyway?” he asked.

“Well,” she said slowly, “There was this fallen tree lying over a large rock. I jumped on one end and got the creature's attention. When it saw me, it swung its tail. I quickly jumped out of the way onto the other end. When its tail hit the tree, my end flew up and sent me into the air. As I went up, the lightening from the cloud went down and…struck the creature.” She looked down.

“That must have been awesome!” Shear cheered.

“Yeah! Aw, I wish I could have seen it!” Virga added.

“Yeah, sure,” Honey agreed, but all she could think about was the poor creature being fried to death. “Anyway, I was thrown up above the thunder cloud, which, thankfully, was no longer active. I landed on it. Then I broke off a small piece of it and used my wings to float it over here,” she finished.

“Wow, I had no idea how cool you were,” Shear admired with awe.

“You did good,” Cirro praised. Honey smiled.

“I’m so proud of you. You really proved how strong you are,” Fujita affirmed.

Virga made a face. “You mean you didn’t fly?” she question.

“Um…” Honey hesitated, “I still can’t really fly.”

Virga pursed her lips. Honey looked at her with uneasiness. Then her big sister smiled and teased, “Ahh, that’s okay, wimp; you’ll learn. It’s actually pretty cool that you got out of there without flying.” She ruffled her mane. Honey smiled. Fujita put her down. Honey was immediately tackled.

“Honey! You’re okay!” Pansy cried, hugging her cousin to the ground.

“I’m glad to see you too, Pansy,” she tried to say, being squeezed. “But if you want to keep me around, maybe you should let go.” Pansy quickly released her. Honey deeply inhaled. Once she regained her breath, she swiftly hugged Pansy back.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t get you both out,” Nimbus sorrowfully apologized. She let go of Pansy and smiled up at him.

“You had to save Pansy, uncle Nimbus,” she said, “It’s not your fault.” Cirro and Virga made a displeased sound. Fujita and Shear rolled their eyes. “Besides, I asked you to.”

“I see your daughter has made it after all,” Thunder Cloud suddenly spoke. Hurricane peeked around his legs. She smiled wide and then nodded her head. She was definitely impressed now. “She has showed great strength and courage. She will make a fine addition to our rank,” he said. Hurricane frowned slightly, feeling a little jealous. Honey’s family cheered her, but her ears went down.

She swallowed and stood up. She looked up at the large, black stallion and nervously said, “Thank you, I appreciate the offer, but I don’t want to be a solider. I don’t want to fight.” Her family’s expressions were a mixture of confusion and surprise.

“That was not an offer,” Thunder Cloud bellowed, “It was an order. Every pegasi will be a solider and learn to fight.”

Honey back away from the booming of his voice, but spoke her mind, “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”

“What about your family?” he asked, not pleased, “They could get hurt if you can’t help protect them.” She looked back at them. Her eye caught sight of her mark. He followed her eyes. His eye ridges rose. Then they went down against his eyes.

“You have a mark as well,” he said. The others took noticed and gasped.

“Yes,” she looked back at him, “I think I got it for putting Pansy before myself. I think I’m meant to help those who can’t help themselves.”

“That is what soldiers do,” he told her. She frowned and looked back at it.

“But it is a heart,” Navy Rain pointed out, “She does not have powerful stars like you.”

“I think the heart symbolizes her kindness,” Cymbidium said with a kind smile. Honey smiled back.

“I don’t think I’m meant to fight. I’m meant to help. I want to understand other creatures, not destroy them,” Honey said, trying to stand tall.

“Enough,” Thunder Cloud said loudly, “You will be a solider!” He turned and marched away. Navy Rain followed. Hurricane shook her head disappointedly at Honey and followed her parents. And she was impressed with her.

“You do not argue with your superiors,” Cirro scolded and walked away.

“And you will be respectful,” Fujita disciplined, leaving as well.

Walking past her, Shear said, “And I said you were cool.”

Following him, Virga added, “From hero to wimp, like that.” Honey dropped her ears and looked down. Nimbus motioned for Cymbidium to come. She picked up Pansy and followed. Dangling from her mouth, Pansy looked sadly back at her dejected cousin.

~~~~~

“Really? Are you kidding me?” Chaos asked in exasperation. His eyes were slightly angry, but they were more heavy and tried than anything. Even his raving was weak and half-hearted. Before the pegasi had run into the monster, Chaos was heavily leaning on Harmony. He had begged her several times to let him watch something else. Even the arguing ponies were not chaotic enough to keep the exhausted spirit upright.

“Your precious ponies finally wondered into my forest, and they all survived?!” he continued in frustration to Harmony, “Even that irritating little orange filly found a way out.” He crossed his stubs and sighed angrily. Harmony ignored his ranting and looked pitifully at the Viewer. Honey just looked so sad. Chaos looked at Harmony and then at the Viewer. He shook his head. He noticed her mark again. “And what’s with those marks they keep getting?” he asked. Harmony blinked and shook her head, clearing her head of the sad filly. “Did you do that? You didn’t figure out a way to affect the planet from up here and not tell me, did you?” he probed, pointing an accusing stub at her.

“What?” she asked, a bit confused, “I thought maybe it was something you did.”

He raised an eye ridge and said, “Really? Do I look like I’m in any shape to do something like that?”

She sighed and rolled her eyes, “No. I meant before. I thought maybe you did it when you were adding wings and horns to them.”

He put a stub on his would-be chin and mused, “Huuum…that does sort of sound like something I would do. But, I didn’t do it. Who else would mess with your ponies?” He hummed in thought. She put on her thinking face as well. “And you’re sure you didn’t do it?” he asked, looking at her.

“Yes. I think I would know if I had,” Harmony said, “I think.”

“Okay. Let’s think. The marks appear to have meaning,” Chaos thought aloud.

Harmony added, “They seem to have something to do with who the ponies are…who they are meant to be. They seem to show their…”

A flash suddenly filled the area in light blue light. “…destiny,” they said in unison, looking at the flash. The blue blotched white being appeared in front of them.

“So it was you who did this,” Chaos said, “I knew I liked you for a reason, messing with Harmony’s creatures.” He grinned. Harmony frowned at him.

“Hum hum,” Destiny laughed.

“But why?” Harmony asked, “I’ve never seen you do anything like this before.”

“Yeah, you usually work in ways we can’t see,” Chaos added.

“The marks on the ponies are certainly marks of destiny. They represent the unique talent that each pony is destined to have,” Destiny explained. She put her stubs over the two spirits and directed them toward the screen. “However, I was not the one who gave them these marks,” she said watching the Viewer. Harmony and Chaos looked up at her with uncertainty. Then all eyes focused on the heart shaped mark on the troubled filly’s flank. Destiny noted, “These creatures are indeed very special.”

Chapter 5: The Trade

View Online

Being the generous and kind spirit she was, Harmony had decided to rest that night so the exhausted and cranky Chaos could as well. By the time the sun had been low in the sky, he could barely float upright. His head had been bobbing. His eyes had been constantly fluttering closed. She had been frequently pushing him off of her when his exhaustion would overtake him. The times he had been more awake, he was more annoying than usual. It had been nonstop complaining, whining, and even crying. He could be so dramatic sometimes. She had attributed the crying to his tired state. She couldn’t even enjoy watching the harmony that she had the rare opportunity to watch all she wanted. He would switch between almost drooling on her as he leaned on her for support to begging her to change the Viewer to something else. He had claimed that he would stay awake if he could just watch some chaos.

By the time she had lowered the sun and coaxed him into raising the moon, which had only exhausted him more, she could only stand him for about another hour. She had wanted to stay up, so she could watch some of her own night creatures. But even the spirit of harmony with her almost limitless patience could not take his theatrical mood swings and disgusting drool any longer. However, nothing was easy with Chaos.

Although he had been completely beat, when Harmony had told him she was ready to rest, Chaos had refused to go with her. He had suddenly found interest in the Viewer and had been keen on staying awake once it had gotten dark. She had insisted that he was too tired. He had argued that he had enough colors now to stay awake. She had said that that was true, but his body was still too exhausted from lack of rest. He had tried to argue that he wasn’t that tired, but his slumped posture and mid-sentence yawn gave him away, as if she hadn’t already known. She had put on her best Control impression and had demanded that he rest. Of course, he had just laughed at her. Finally, she had convinced him to rest once she had said that if he did, his punishment would be a lot shorter and that they could stay up tomorrow night. After some thought, he had agreed, playing it off as his idea. It had been nice to have a break, and resting would bring Chaos’s power to half capacity and Harmony’s to full. This would speed up his punishment time and thus relieve her of the duty sooner.

Said punishment had only lasted about a week, which was surprisingly fast even with Chaos conserving his energy. His energy had been full again, and, even though he had been complaining non-stop, he still would eventually do as Harmony asked. Control had decided to release him from Harmony’s charge, which had pleased both of them. Chaos had been ecstatic to be free from Harmony. He could finally enjoy some chaos again. Although she had been uncomfortable about the chaos watching, she was very relieved by her duty being lifted from her. Even after he had rested that night, he had still been getting on her nerves more than he usually did. It was as if he had been trying to annoy her. She had reasoned that he was just upset about having to listen to her and maybe being around him so much made him feel more irritating to her. After the punishment had been lifted, they had still stayed together in the Viewer room most of the time like they usually would, but at least now they had freedom to be alone. They had gone back to taking turns with the Viewer, sort of, and they had been staying up at night as well.

The two spirits had still mostly watched the ponies. Most of the other creatures were not as intelligent as the ponies. They just lived their lives day by day, feeding off whatever nature provided them. Harmony and Chaos had observed more closely some of the other more sapient creatures as well though. The bison had decided to just live off the land. Although intelligent enough, they did not build homes. They had chosen to just roam the desert land. The lion-eagle hybrids, who called themselves griffons, had discovered a large tree on the top of a high mountain. They had chosen to make that their new home.

The ponies had begun settling down as well. And most of the adults and some younger ponies had received their now-called cutie marks, which had ended the belief that only leaders or special ponies got them. Everypony had agreed that these marks were symbols of what they were meant to do and that each pony would receive his or her mark when he or she came of age and discovered his or her special talent, life’s purpose, or destiny. However, the ponies still hadn’t been as harmonious as Harmony would have liked, which had seemed to be enough to get Chaos to agree to watch them. Plus he had enjoyed watching Harmony’s distress as her most prized creations practically spat on harmony. Although the tribe members had gotten along pretty well, aside from some disagreements, the tribes had still seemed to hate each other, especially the leaders.

The unicorns had settled on the mountain where they would later learn to control and perfect their magic; some, like Clover, had exceled quickly. Towards the top, the mountain had had another cave. It had been very tall but not very deep. Silver Sapphire, now king, had ordered that his castle be built there. The unicorns had used the divot of the cave as part of the inside of the castle. The rock of the mountain, with some help from some practiced magic, had provided the stone to build the rest of the castle. Although the mountain had provided a good location for the unicorns’ castle, it didn’t offer much food. The river that ran down its side gave them ample water. In order to get food however, the unicorn king and his royal family would frequently send some of his ponies back down the mountain and to the woods they had walked through on their first journey. This had been where the problem had lied.

The woods where the unicorns had collected food had formed a barrier to the field in which the Earth ponies lived. The Earth ponies had also been collecting food from those woods. They had even gotten a few trees to use as lumber for their homes. Once King Silver Sapphire had heard about this, he had ordered a force field to be put up to prevent the Earth ponies from having access to the woods. He had claimed they did not have food or trees to spare for the grubby, beneath-them Earth ponies. This had enraged Grand Chief Pink Fudge. No matter how many unorthodox methods she had used, she could not get passed the force field. She had tried digging, climbing, jumping, stacking ponies, and even running into the darn force field. She had only succeeded in injuring a few of her ponies and getting more than a few laughs out of the unicorns. She had finally given up when her Chief Purple Caramel, had remembered, with the help of Cookie and her parents, that there was a forest not too far away in the other direction. After bragging about her discovery to the stuck-up unicorns, she had triumphantly led the Earth ponies to the forest. The ponies had reluctantly followed with many sighs, grunts, and mumbles. They still had been too frightened by her aggressive psychotic behavior to argue with their self-proclaimed grand chief.

The forest had only led to more trouble, however. Driven back by the dangerous creatures of Chaos’s forest, the Pegasi had been collecting their own food from the forest adjacent to the field. When the Earth ponies had arrived, the Pegasi would not let them into the forest. This had been partly due to the fact that some of them did not want to share with those who claimed they were weird because of their wings, and the Pegasi also needed plenty of food to strengthen their training soldiers. General Thunder Cloud also hadn’t wanted the Earth ponies to endanger themselves by going too far into the forest and running into any creatures like the mud treader they had fought. He did not particularly care for the Earth ponies, but he would not allow any “civilians” to jeopardize their lives. However, he certainly would not go soft on them. The Earth ponies could find their own food in a safer place. He would not just give them his food.

Insinuating that the Earth ponies could not protect themselves had only angered the grand chief. She had claimed that her kind were strong and brave and could handle anything the Pegasi could. The general was not moved, nor were his soldiers. His soldiers had stood guard at the forest edge. Once again Pink Fudge could not get passed. She had tried jumping, fighting, and distractions. The Pegasi had held their ground. Huffing angrily, Pink Fudge had finally given up. She had said they did not need the odd ponies’ food; they could find their own.

Driven back by two uncooperative groups of ponies, hunger, and need for lumber, the Earth ponies had been forced to travel further north to the not too far away forest. Unbeknownst to them however, this forest was not a peaceful one. It was like the forest where the Pegasi had met the large creature of terror. It was part of Chaos’s forest, which had surrounded the ponies in a very large circle. Luckily for the unicorns, this forest was behind their new mountain home. Unluckily for the Earth ponies, this forest had been the one in which they had been heading.

Being ponies of the Earth, the Earth ponies had immediately felt that this forest was different. It had been darker and eerie. The plants had given off a strange vibe. Some of the ponies could almost hear the trees telling them they could not be tamed or harvested. Pink Fudge would not be intimidated however, even if she had been a little creeped out. She had commanded her ponies to collect what they could and to keep their eyes opened for anything weird.

Before long, they had started to knock down the trees and had continued building. Collecting food from the forest had made the ponies feel a little more comfortable. Some ponies had even caught glimpses of creatures hiding back in the trees. Seeing these creatures run away when they knocked down trees, had made the Earth ponies feel even stronger. They had even begun to understand Pink Fudge better. They had become more accepting of her as their grand chief. She had led them to this forest where they could gather their own food. She had showed them how strong and brave they could be. They did not need the other ponies.

While they had been using the forest to settle their home land, the Earth ponies had discovered something about the plants. Even after they had ripped some of them out of the ground to get to the trees, they had grown back. Some of the ponies had observed the plants’ behavior. Eventually they had figured out the cycle of the plants. When the forest had still been providing food, this was nothing more than just an interesting discovery. However, once they had stopped knocking down trees after they were done building what they needed and had been forced to travel deeper into the woods to collect food, they had complications. Pushed back too far, the creatures that once solely owned the forest had started to fight back. The ponies could no longer collect any food from the forest without being chased or attacked by chaos creatures. After many ponies had been injured, the grand chief had been forced to use brain over brawns. This is where the cycle of the plants had come into use. With this knowledge, the Earth ponies had begun to grow their own food and no longer had to search the treacherous forest.

No longer worried about the Earth ponies going into their forest, the Pegasi had been free to focus on other things as well. Realizing they could manipulate the clouds, they had used the fog from their flattop mountain and nearby clouds to construct their living area. Intrigued by General Thunder Cloud’s massive lightening attack and by the cloud that had produced its own water, the Pegasi had investigated the clouds further. Not only had they made good construction material, the clouds had also provided water once the ponies had figured out how to make them rain. Along with their soldier and flying training, the Pegasi had been training in weather control and safety. After all, as General Thunder Cloud had often put it, the weather was nature’s toughest warrior. If they could learn to control it, they would be well on their way to becoming the best soldiers.

Not everypony had been successful in their training however. Pansy had been improving in her flying ability, but she had not been learning fast enough for her father. He had feared for her own safety and that of others if she could not learn to protect herself. She had still been the weakest flyer, and she had been terrified by the weather and soldier training. While her cousin, Honey, had been becoming a decent flyer for her age and a quick learner with the weather, she had been very reluctant to train in combat. Her father, Cirro, had blamed Pansy for this. He had believed she had been softening his daughter, turning her into a weakling. He had frequently and harshly expressed his believes to his younger brother. In turn, Nimbus had become harder on Pansy. He had felt inferior to his big brother for both his and his daughter’s weaknesses.

Eventually, Nimbus had turned to the general for help. He had explained that his daughter was still having trouble and was falling far behind the others. Thunder Cloud had not wanted any slackers in his rank, but he hadn’t had time to give her special treatment. Therefore, he had given this responsibility to his own daughter. After all, they had been about the same age, both had been female, and had had previous encounters with each other. Hurricane had not been happy about this. She had not wanted to train the pathetic scaredy-cat. Her behavior had insulted the entire Pegasus race. Thunder Cloud had told her it was an order and she should be honored to get this responsibility. Being loyal and respectful to her father, she had agreed.

The settling had gone on for a few months without much trouble. The unicorns had finished their castle and were becoming very good at their magic. The Earth ponies had finished their homes and were beginning to plant more crops. The Pegasi had completed their mountain top cloud fortress and were becoming excellent flyers, soldiers, and weather ponies.

Now that the ponies were settled, they all slipped in to their own routines. Harmony was content with this. Their lives were in decent harmony and peace. She still wished they would all come together, but this would do for now. However, Chaos was getting bored with the ponies’ daily customs. He had gotten angry when the Earth ponies had cut into his forest. He had been disappointed in his creatures for not fighting back at first. Once they had, he was satisfied, until the ponies had wised up and learned to grow their own food.

Whenever Harmony would watch the ponies, Chaos would half watch and half occupy himself however he could. He would pester Harmony as much as he could before she would threaten to tell Control or give in and let him have a turn at the Viewer, again. He tried bugging Control, but he was hard to find. When he would find him, Control would tell him to go help Harmony. Chaos did occasionally get a chance to annoy him, but that only ended up with a punishment or, when he really got under his skin, with Chaos’s face slamming into some hard surface. He would have pestered Destiny, but she could only be found if she wanted to be. Plus, he had a little sliver of respect for her.

Chaos found another way to occupy himself. He went back to doing what he and Harmony used to do before they had given life to the planet: make practice creatures. While the planet had been being ruled by dinosaurs, Control had taught Harmony and Chaos how to make creatures. Then once the planet had been deemed too chaotic, Control had intensified the practice until they had been ready to make creatures for the planet. There was one important difference between the creatures they made on the planet and the ones they had made for practice: the ones on the planet had souls provided by Control. Now, Chaos and Harmony were no longer allowed to make creatures, even for practice. Their current job was to observe the planet and keep an eye on the chaos and harmony only. That was about the only thing they were allowed to do, except take breaks. But of course, Chaos was never one to follow rules. Chaos wasn’t dumb, however. He still tried to do it in secret.

~

On one particularly boring day while Harmony was watching the ponies live their boring lives, Chaos snuck off to “take a break.” Once he was alone, he stuck out his stubs. He carefully eyed the room to make sure no one was there. He smiled wide and mischievously as he made his stubs glow. A small ball of black formed in front of him. It expanded a bit; then it burst. He put his stubs down and waited for the sparkles to settle. Sitting lifelessly on the floor was what resembled a green three-legged puppy. Its ears were pointed, and its eyes were big and red. It had three yellow paws with sharp claws. Its nose was orange, as well as its three stripes that ran down its back. It had a puffy short purple tail. A blue tongue hung from its fanged mouth. If it could stand on its hind leg, it would be at about eye level to Chaos.

Chaos cooed at it. It was the perfect combination of cuteness, chaos, and ferociousness. He floated it around as if it were alive for a while. He made it run around the room and bark. Then he drifted it into his stubs and squeezed it tight. This one was too good to just hide it away with the others he had made. He had to show Harmony! He dematerialized with the puppy wrapped in his stubs. Then he reappeared in the Viewer room.

“There you are,” Harmony said, not looking at him. “I’m worried about the ponies,” she said with concern, looking anxiously at the Viewer.

Chaos smiled at her dismay, but quickly shook his head to stay focused. He pulled the odd puppy out from behind his back and looked at it. Then he looked at Harmony and smiled. He allowed it to float to the ground and walked it with his black aura behind her. He crouched it down, its behind wiggling in the air. He grinned. He made it pounce at her, barking with fangs bared. She screamed as it went through her. It landed on the floor and slid to a stop. She had shot into the air and was breathing rapidly and looking wide eyed at the creature. Chaos was laughing his head off on the floor. She shot him a look. He quickly floated the puppy up towards her. She shrieked. He chased her around the room with it as it barked playfully at her. He could barely control it as he hysterically laughed. Harmony suddenly stopped when she finally realized that not only could the creature not actually touch her, but Chaos was the one controlling it.

“Chaos! Stop that right now!” she demanded as she floated angrily in front of him. The puppy kept relentlessly barking and jumping back and forth through her. Her lower half kept breaking up and reforming like a disturbed cloud. “Where did that thing come from? Creatures of the planet are not allowed here,” she reminded him harshly, trying to keep her glare on him. He just continued laughing on the floor. Harmony suddenly cracked a smile. Try as she might, she could not hold back her giggle. “Chaos, stop!” she giggled, “It’s starting to tickle!” Soon they were both laughing uncontrollably. But she had had enough of this. She abruptly grabbed his glowing stubs and pulled him up. Losing his focus, the puppy fell lifelessly to the floor.

“Hay! What did you do that for?” Chaos hollered, pulling his stubs free.

“Where did you get that?” she asked, ignoring his question.

“You sound mad. I thought we were having fun,” he said innocently.

“No, you were having fun,” she corrected.

“You were laughing your head off a second ago,” he pointed out.

“Because that thing was tickling me,” she said angrily.

“But tickling’s fun,” he said. “Don’t even think about it,” he quickly added, floating back and eyeing her.

“Chaos,” she sighed with exasperation, “Just please explain that creature.”

“Do you like him?” he asked excitedly. “He’s so chaotic and fierce. I thought you would think he’s cute. I mean who doesn’t love a puppy?!” he babbled happily.

“Chaos,” she said, trying to refocus him.

“Calm down, you worrywart. I didn’t get him from the planet,” he sighed. “I made him here,” he cheered.

“Chaos! You can’t do that,” she said in a frantic hushed tone, as if Control could hear her.

“We used to do it all the time,” he argued.

“That was before and in front of Control’s watchful eye,” she said, trying to stay calm. “We aren’t allowed to do that anymore. You know that!”

“Oh, come on. It’s just one itty bitty adorable wittle puppy,” he cooed, floating said creature between them. He made it whine and wag its tail, giving her big eyes with its head turned to one side. She held her stare for a few seconds. Then she melted with a smile. She scooped the puppy up into a tight squeeze. She giggled as it licked her all over. Chaos smiled at the pair. Even after he made it stop licking her, she kept hugging it. Chaos frowned. He jerked it out of her stubs. “That’s enough affection,” he said, floating it down to sit beside him, “You’re getting your harmony germs all over him.” She pouted slightly.

“Ahem,” she said, trying to compose herself, “I’ll admit, he is adorable, but you have to get rid of him.” Chaos frowned.

“Creatures like this don’t belong here. If Control found out, you would be in so much trouble,” she said, sympathetically.

“Plaeeeese, let me keep him,” he begged with his wide green eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“But-but he’s so perfect, and I already named him and everything,” he almost cried.

“Chaos, please,” she said, trying to not get upset. She couldn’t stand seeing others get upset, even if it was Chaos and even if he was probably exaggerating.

“I don’t want to get rid of him. I love him,” he said, tears welling up in his eyes.

“He’s not even alive. He doesn’t have a soul,” she reminded him.

“Could I keep him as a toy?” he asked, hopefully.

“Chaos…” she began. He begged with big wet eyes. She sighed. “As long as he remains soulless and if Control says it’s okay…”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” he cheered before she even finished. He hugged her tight.

“But you have to ask Control yourself,” she managed to say.

He let her go with a frown. He picked the puppy up. Then he smiled sadly. “Okay,” he said quietly with a pout. He disappeared, puppy held tight against his chest.

“Why do I let him do this to me?” she sighed.

~

Chaos reappeared back in his room. He set the puppy down with a frown. Then he smiled.

He chuckled, “That was too easy.” “Like I’m really going to ask that high and mighty overgrown bouncy ball,” he scoffed to the puppy. He hummed thoughtfully at the creature as it fell on its face. “You are going to get boring fast,” he said to the body lying on the floor. “Unless…” he mused out loud with a grin, “I am already going against one of the conditions. Why not break the other one?” He set the puppy up straight in front of him. He held out his stubs as they glowed intensely and rolled up his nonexistent sleeves. He wasn’t sure how to do this, but it probably took a lot of power. He wrinkled his face and focused, trying to picture how Control had done it.

After a lot of struggling and glowing, he finally produced a tiny grey ball of light. He opened his eyes and looked at it with a pleased smile. Sticking out his tongue, he carefully moved the ball of light above the puppy. He gently lowered it and then abruptly shoved it into the puppy. He relaxed his body and gave himself a quick glance. His colors had no noticeable changes. If he looked very closely, he could see a tiny sliver of grey on the top of his head. His black glow had decreased in size and intensity just a bit. But the others wouldn’t notice. Control might, but he hadn’t planned on seeing him anytime soon. He had created a soul, something he should not have been able to do, and had not even lowered his energy storage much. He grinned at his feat. His secret doings were working well.

He focused back on the puppy and slowly floated over to it. He poked it, but nothing happened. He pouted. He picked it up and shook it hard, still nothing. He sighed and sat it down. He lied down in front of it and looked it straight in its closed eyes.

“Wake up,” he demanded.

He stared at it for a while until he felt something wet rub him above his mouth. He looked down as a blue tongue licked him again. He looked back up and was met by two big red eyes. He gasped quietly. He sat up. The puppy struggled to its feet. It wagged its tail and looked at Chaos. Then it fell back down with a surprised yelp. Chaos grinned. He got up and helped it stand back up. It panted happily at him. It licked him again. He petted its head.

“You are much less boring now. My very own pet,” he said with a smile. He held out his stub. A black ball formed in his palm. Once it burst, it left behind a black collar with a tag. It read, “Scruff.” “Now it’s official,” he said, putting on the collar with a hug. Then he sighed, “I have to go before Miss. Goodie-Goodie comes looking for me.” He picked Scruff up and floated over to a transparent wall. He put his stub on it. A door appeared. He opened it. A flood of odd, lifeless creatures poured out as the door opened. He quickly stopped it with his aura and pushed them to the sides. He sat the puppy inside and said goodbye. After closing the door, he heard a loud crashing sound and a yelp. “Oops,” he said with a cringe. “I’m sure he’s fine.” He made the door disappear before he did so himself.

~

Chaos reappeared back to Harmony. She was worriedly watching the ponies again, until she heard Chaos.

“What did he say?” she asked, turning to face him.

“Um…who?” he asked.

“Control. Did he say you could keep the puppy?” she questioned. He wouldn’t make eye contact. She just looked at him, waiting for an answer. Then she glared at him. “You didn’t even ask him, did you?” she sighed.

“I wiiiill,” he squeaked.

“Chaoooos,” she whined, dropping her head back.

“Harmonyyyyyy,” he mocked.

She sighed and slid her stub down her face. “You know I can’t hide anything from Control, and I don’t want to,” she moaned. “I respect him, and you should too. I will not lie to him,” she said with determination.

“You don’t have to lie,” he informed her, “It’s not like he’s going to just ask you if I have made any green puppies lately that I’m hiding in my room.” He quickly looked around the room. Harmony raised an eye ridge at him. “I thought Control might be here because that would have been a really bad time for him to appear,” he said with relief. Then he checked the room one last time. “Anyway, it’s just one little soulless puppy. It’s not like I have a whole closet full of creatures or anything,” he continued. She gave him a look. “Besides,” he quickly said, “It’s only until I figure out how to ask him.”

She squeezed her eyes shut tight. Then she inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, relaxing her face. She looked at him with one eye open. She wrinkled her face and managed to say, “Just until you ask him.” His face lit up with a grin and her’s returned to normal. “Only because Control doesn’t want me telling him things for you. You have to be the one to tell him,” she said firmly. “And because I can tell how much you really care for the puppy,” she said softly. He raised an eye ridge at her. “I know you were overreacting, almost crying and such, but I also know some of that was real,” she said with a kind smile.

Chaos’s mouth was opened, but nothing comprehendible was coming out. He didn’t want her to think he was soft and that he loved that puppy so much that he couldn’t live without it. But, if he told her any different, she might tell Control and he would have to get rid of it. He did really like the puppy, especially since he now had given it a soul. But it wasn’t like he really loved it. It was just something to do other than watch the Viewer all day. Plus, he liked the feeling of breaking so many rules by having it there.

When he finally found his words, he said, “Let’s get something straight. I do not love that creature. As you said, I was just overreacting so you wouldn’t tell Control. I just like having something other than work to do. Just watching our creatures gets very boring, especially when you make me watch those dumb ponies’ routine lives every day. Don’t you ever get bored of just working all the time?”

“Keeping an eye on our creations is our job,” she simply said. “And I’m serious about that puppy. You better ask him and soon. I won’t tell him, but, if he asks, I won’t lie,” she firmly informed him.

He rolled his eyes and said, “Fine, fine. But it’s not like it would be the end of the world if I had to get rid of him. I would have to go back to just mindlessly having my eyes glued to this thing all day.” He gestured to the Viewer.

“Whatever you say,” she said with a sideways grin.

He eyed her, but let it go. He looked back at the screen and remembered what Harmony had said earlier. “You said you were worried about the ponies?” he asked with a smile. Her grin dropped. He chuckled a bit. Maybe he could still get some enjoyment out of these ponies after all.

~

Back down on the planet, the weather had gotten colder. Shielded from the sun and warmth by the tree limbs, the food in the forest and woods wasn’t growing fast enough to keep up with the hungry ponies. The Pegasi had collected everything they could from the good part of the forest, and the unicorns had cleaned out the relatively small woods below the mountain. The unicorns had even tried to get food from the other side of the mountain, but the forest there was filled with terrifying, dangerous creatures. The Earth ponies weren’t doing too well with their food either. After harvesting their last crops, they planted more, but they weren’t growing. It wasn’t that it was so cold that the plants couldn’t grow, but with the frequent cloudy days, increased wind, and snowy rain the plants were reluctant to come out of the ground. Grand Chief Pink Fudge had not planned ahead for this, but she had an idea. She led her ponies back to the forest in the north. With their new-found faith in their leader and in their own strength, the brave Earth ponies willingly followed her.

Since the forest was so thick, it was used to having little sunlight and warmth. The cloudy days did not affect it much. The thick trees also protected it from most of the cold rain and slowed down the wind. On top of this, the forest itself seemed to be alive. So not surprisingly, the strange forest still had enough food to feed its dwellers, but they were not willing to share. Regardless, the grand chief adjusted her new cutie-mark-matching, grand chief hat and pushed forward into the trees. With her strong and brave ponies behind her, she would not let the forest or its creatures win. Her ponies needed food, and nothing was going to stop her this time.

~

“What are they doing now, your highness?” a white unicorn guard asked his king.

Removing his eyes from the telescope, King Silver Sapphire stepped forward to the edge of his balcony to peer at the forest in the distance. “They are going back into the forest of the north,” the king simply stated to the lone guard.

“I thought they were chased out of that forest,” the black and yellow maned stallion stated.

“It appears desperate times, call for desperate measures,” Silver Sapphire said, turning to eye his right-hoof guard.

“Indeed, your highness,” he said with a head bow. “I will prepare the guards,’” he added as he galloped into the castle. The unicorn king turned and grinned darkly down at the Earth ponies as they ventured into the shadowy forest.

~

“Where are we going again?” Shear asked as he continued flying behind his twin.

“Pay attention, numbskull!” Virga insulted, slowing down to bop his helmet-covered head. “We are going to look for food, duh.”

He fixed his helmet and said with a frown, “I know that. I meant where?”

“If you’d pay more attention, you would know that General Thunder Cloud said he spotted a forest in the north,” she answered.

“You could have just said so. You don’t have to be so mean,” he said.

“Well without those two wimpy fillies here, I have to pick on somepony,” she said with a sideways grin.

He glared at the back of her helmet as she quickened her speed to fly back to her place in front of him in the line of airborne soldiers. Then he grinned mischievously. He carefully flew closer, his hoof outstretched. Sticking out his tongue, he quickly pushed up the back of her helmet. It flipped forward, covering her eyes.

“Hay!” she yelped. Shear snickered. She threw her hooves to her head, trying to push her helmet back up. He swiftly flew above her and held the metal hat down. She grunted and continued struggling with the stupid thing. Keeping his mouth covered, he kept laughing quietly. “Shear, is that you?” she asked angrily as she stopped struggling.

“Nooo…” he said innocently, “Do you have a problem with your helmet?”

“Yeah, there’s a bird-brain holding it down,” she quipped with a grin.

His smile dropped, but quickly returned as he pressed down harder. She began struggling again, but this time she was trying to hit her pesky brother. Having the advantage of sight, he easily avoided her swinging hooves as she frantically spun around. He laughed, which angered her more. Seeing something green through his peripheral view, he looked up.

“Uh oh,” he quietly said, quickly releasing his sister and flying down behind her.

Before she could lift the helmet, Virga roughly crashed into something. Wincing, Shear watched as the Pegasi soldiers all stumbled forward in the air like dominos. The last pony fell into an unfazed General Thunder Cloud. He stopped and turned his head to see his ponies composing themselves, their faces full of confusion and anger.

Hearing the commotion, Virga didn’t remove her helmet. She didn’t want to see the damage she knew she must have caused. It was lifted for her, however. Her guilty green eyes met angry blue ones. “Uh, sorry, mom,” she sheepishly said.

“Forward!” a booming voice ordered. Fujita quickly turned around. Virga stiffed her body, head held high with her helmet down over her face. Once the general had everypony facing him again, he flew onward, expecting the others to follow. Trying to fly in a dignified manner, Virga quickly pulled back her helmet. Hearing snickering from behind her, she whipped her head around and glared at her brother.

“You two cut it out!” Cirro quietly demanded, looking back at them while still flying. They both dropped their expressions immediately. “If you two can’t behave, then you can fly right back to your aunt, and she can watch you with the rest of the foals.”

“Yes, sir,” the twins said in unison, dropping their heads.

“This is serious,” their mother added, “We are not here to horseplay.” Shear bit his lip, but he couldn’t help but laugh.

“Shut up! What are you laughing at? You got us in trouble,” Virga yelled in a hushed tone as she gently whipped his face with her tail.

“Heh heh! Mom-mom…he…sa-said horseplay!” he laughed. She rolled her eyes and sighed, shaking her head at his immaturity.

“AAAAAAAAAAAH!” a loud shriek suddenly rang through the sky, halting them all.

“To the forest, quick!” Thunder Cloud ordered. All humor and anger forgotten, the army of Pegasi raced towards the scream and to the north forest as fast as their wings would carry them. It was time for action; somepony was in danger!

~

“AAAAH!” the pink Earth filly screamed again as she raced through the trees. She quickly reached the others. Everypony immediately gathered around her trying to figure out what was wrong with the frantic filly. Grand Chief Pink Fudge swiftly pushed through the crowd of Earth ponies. The young pony rapidly explained, “Mom! Ifoundthisreallybig…”

“Slow down,” she gently commanded.

“I found this reeeeally-” she spread her forelegs out as far as she could “-big flower! It was so pretty, and it was pink! So, I obviously had to sniff it! If it was that pretty, it must have smelt good! But when I tried to sniff it, the mean ol’ flower took my hat! It took my favorite new pudding hat, mom!” Puddinghead exclaimed. Her face was a mixture of frieght, sorrow, and anger.

“Are you hurt?” Chief Purple Caramel worriedly asked after he made his way next to his wife.

“No, I don’t think so,” Pudding responded as she gave herself a quick inspection. He pulled her into a big hug. Squeezing him back, she assured him, “I’m okay, daddy.” “See?” she asked, pushing him back so he could see her big happy smile. He grinned at her large, comical smile before sitting her down.

Her mother sighed, “I am sorry about your hat, Puddinghead, but we are here to get food, not look for lost h…” She was interrupted by a quick, loud rustle followed immediately by a surprised yelp. The crowd of ponies quickly turned around. Their eyes landed on a struggling pony stuck in a large flower.

The big plant had its two long pink petals wrapped around the stallion. A short petal with two pale yellow spikes stuck up right above the pony. It had a long white stem that had five more pink petals surrounding it in a star shape. The back petal was erected into the air, while the other four laid on the ground. It stood about twice as tall as the average sized mare.

“That’s the flower! But where’s my hat?” Pudding asked, as some of the ponies tried to free the stallion. Another rustle revealed a second matching pink and white flower. Resting on its short, spiked petal was a hat that resembled a silver bowl of chocolate pudding sitting on a yellow plate. “Mom, there it is!” the pink filly shouted, pointing her hoof at the thieving plant.

“I’m a little busy, Puddinghead,” her mother said, trying to stay patient with her daughter. She was pulling on the tail of a mare who had tried to help the stallion and had gotten herself captured by the flower as well.

“Daddy, get my hat,” she whined. Chief Purple Caramel raced towards the hat wearing flower. Before he could reach it, a third flower came out of the trees and grabbed him. Its movements were almost too quick to see.

“A little help,” he said, hanging upside down from the large petals.

“Daddy!” Pudding gasped. With a look of determination, she ran towards the plant to help her father.

“Pudding, look out!” a young voice shouted, quickly knocking the pink filly to the ground. Pushing herself off the dirt, Pudding saw a brown filly struggling in the grasp of yet another flower that had almost gotten her.

“Cookie!” Pudding screamed, rushing to help her friend. The pink filly grabbed one of its four ground petals, trying to free Cookie. The plant suddenly fell to the ground beside her with Cookie following after in front of her. “I did it!” Pudding cheered. Looking up and seeing a brown stallion putting his back hooves down, she realized it was Cookie’s dad who had saved Cookie with a powerful buck to the plant. “Aww!” she sighed.

“You okay, Cookie?” Citrus asked, helping her daughter to her hooves.

“Ah’m fine, ma,” Cookie assured.

“Ahhhhh!” Pudding screamed, captured by the hat wearing plant. Everypony looked at her. She struggled for a moment. Then she reached her hoof up and snatched her hat. Putting it back in its rightful place on her head, she said, “Never mind. I’m good.” All stared at her. “What? It’s actually kind of cozy up here,” she explained, snuggling into the arm-like petals. The plant’s petals quickly shifted her flank near its small top petal and towards the tiny moving parts on the tip of said petal. “Owww! It bit me!” she yelled, “Get me down!” The flower had those moving parts dug into the pudding dollop marks on her flank.

“Flowers don’t bite,” Cookie informed, struggling with her own flower.

“They don’t move either,” Cinnamon Straw added, bucking at the plant that was trying to grab him.

Observing the flower that was attacking her husband, Citrus said, “Maybe they’re not flowers. Look closer.”

The bottom four petals moved like legs, and the back petal looked sort of like a tail. The two top petals grabbed like arms. The small petal with the spikes could be a head. Looking closer, the two yellow spikes each had small glowing red dots.

“Ah’ve seen these before,” Cinnamon said, finally bucking the quick moving flower, “In our crop fields.”

“Are you insane?! I think I would know if my fields were infested with giant attacking flowers,” the Grand Chief scoffed, looking very unconvincing hanging upside down from a flower with her hat over her face.

“Yeah!” Chief Purple Caramel agreed, wrapped up in his purple cape in the petals of his attacker.

“Not these exactly,” Cinnamon clarified, a little insulted, “Ah meant somethin’ like ’em. The one’s Ah’ve seen are a lot smaller and green. They’re bugs. Praying Mantises.”

“Ah’ve seen ‘em too,” Citrus backed him up, bucking the creature that bit Pudding and freeing her. The filly rubbed her sore flank but was otherwise unharmed.

“I don’t care what they are; just get them!” Fudge demanded, hat falling to the ground.

Whoosh! Something flew beside the grand chief, blowing her hat further away.

“Got it!” an orange mare with a shortish yellow tail cheered, standing over the giant mantis she had just tackled. A darker stallion with a creamish-colored tail swooped in beside her.

“Aww!” he whined, “I was gonna get that one.” All the Earth ponies stopped their fight with the creatures and just stared at the two winged intruders.

“There’s plenty more, Shear,” she told him, glaring around at all the tall creatures and ignoring the confused civilians.

“Good point, Virga. Dibs!” he shouted. He flew after one of the praying mantises that had captured an Earth pony. He swiftly spun in the air in front of the creature and precisely bucked it in the head without hitting the struggling mare. The giant bug and the surprised pony fell to the ground. “Perfect hit!” he bragged.

A series of flapping filled the forest as more Pegasi flew in one by one. In the front was a great black stallion wearing silver and gold armor, his helmet fashioned with a tall, blue crest that matched his short tail. He threw his large hoof forward, commanding his soldiers to attack. The army of Pegasi charged forward and took down the giant insects with tackles, bucks, and headbutts.

The disgruntled grand chief fell to the ground, freed by an orange mare with a light green tail. As the armored mare flew off to help the chief, she stood herself up, picked up her hat, and placed it on her messy head. Then she stormed over to the black stallion, who bucked a pink mantis off his wife.

“Hay, weirdo with the wings!” Pink Fudge shouted at the husky pony. General Thunder Cloud turned to look at her, his expression hard, but not angry. “We didn’t ask for your help, and we don’t need it!” she told him, poking his shielded chest.

“Uh…yeah!” her chief backed her up, despite his uncertainty of her statement. He stood behind her, hat on backwards.

The general looked down at the disorderly pair and said, “We heard a cry for help and responded. And I would say you do need our help.”

Before she could argue, he soared over her head and knocked down the creature that had almost snatched up her husband. Purple Caramel gasped; he had been unaware of the insect that had almost grabbed him. Thunder Cloud climbed off the pink bug and walked passed the pair.

“That doesn’t prove anything,” the mad, pink mare argued. “I don’t want your help. I command you and your weird ponies to leave!” she demanded, stomping her hoof.

The large Pegasus turned around and bent down his neck to stare in the angry mare’s eyes. “I will not stand by and let ponies get hurt, winged or not. And no psychotic Earth mare whose head is too big for her ridiculous hat is going to stop me,” he growled.

He spread his large wings and shot up into the air. She snorted and growled up at him as he flew above her and swooped down to take out another large mantis.

“We don’t need him,” she grumbled. “Come on. FIGHT!” she commanded her ponies. The Earth ponies immediately obeyed and continued to fight off the large, pink and white insects.

Both tribes of ponies fought the creatures off, although it was unmistakable that they weren’t working together. The Pegasi stuck to their orders and tried to free the civilians, but they were pushed away by the obedient Earth ponies who were following their own commands to help their fellow ponies themselves. The Pegasi began to get annoyed, but their general ordered them to keep it up. Even the Earth ponies began to question their orders, wondering what was so bad about accepting the help of the winged ponies. Sure, the wings where weird, but the Pegasi were a big help. Just because they accepted their help this one time, didn’t mean they had to be friends or anything. Despite the uncooperative civilians, the two groups of ponies managed to take down all of the giant pray mantises without any real injuries.

“Thanks,” Citrus said with uncertainty as a yellow Pegasus stallion with a short light blue tail helped her to her hooves.

“You’re welcome,” he mumbled.

“Nimbus, being sociable wasn’t part of our orders. Come on,” Cirro told him, motioning for his younger brother to follow him. Nimbus nodded to his sibling and then glanced back at the unsure Earth mare. Then he hurried after his brother joining the rest of his group that were patiently waiting behind the group of Earth ponies.

“Well, at least they aren’t as stuck up as those unicorns,” Cinnamon said, approaching his wife.

“Yeah,” she agreed, watching the stallion forming a line with the other armored Pegasi.

“Ma, Pa, look,” Cookie said, pointing to the bugs’ red eyes. The giant insects were knocked out, yet their blank staring eyes were still opened and gleaming.

Pudding popped her head into the family group and said, “Watchcha’ lookin’ at?” The freckled filly pointed down at the glowing red eyes. “Oooow! Pretty!” she cheered with a wide smile.

“That doesn’t look normal,” Cinnamon commented.

“Maybe we should tell the Grand Chief,” his wife said.

“Oh! I’ll tell her,” Pudding said happily. She pulled out of the small huddle and bounced over to her mom. The pink mare was in a heated discussion with the Pegasus general. “Hay, mom,” the filly interrupted. She was ignored, so she tried again, “Mommy! I need to tell you something about those meanie bugs.”

Pink Fudge stopped her arguing and gave her daughter a strained smile. “Pudding, I’m talking,” she said before turning back to the black stallion.

“But, moooom. It’s important,” she whined, throwing her head back and almost losing her precious hat again.

“Puddinghead…” she almost growled. “Ahem,” she smiled and continued more calmly, “Pudding, sweetie. We’ve talked about not interrupting when the adults are talking.” The pink filly happily nodded, remembering all the many times her mom had reminded her that interrupting adults was rude. “Now, be quiet until I’m done,” she instructed. Her daughter closed her mouth tight, grinned, and nodded. “Good.” As Pudding struggled to hold her tongue, her mother resumed her loud discussion with Thunder Cloud.

“Your daughter could use some discipline, just like her mother,” the large stallion remarked.

“My daughter is fine!” Pink Fudge defended. “Just because we don’t have dumb wings or fancy armor, doesn’t mean we can’t fight our own battles,” she told him, standing on the tip of her hooves so she was almost eye-level with the offensive stallion.

“Civilians don’t fight. That’s why we didn’t allow you in our forest. You could have led your ponies too far and into the dark forest, like this one,” he said, eyeing the eerie forest around him. “Did you know this forest was dark when you brought your ponies here?” he asked her, looking into the brown eyes that refused to stop staring into his dark blue ones.

“Yes,” she replied. “We all knew the danger, but we need food,” she told him, finally flattening her hooves to the ground.

“That’s why we were coming here, before we heard your daughter screaming,” he admitted. She opened her smirking mouth to remark, but he spoke again, “I did not know this was a dark forest when I brought my soldiers here. I never would have led them here if I had known.” Her smirk dropped as he stared down at her with serious eyes. “Leaders don’t put their ponies in unnecessary danger,” he told her.

“I told you, it was necessary. We need food,” she defended. He narrowed his eyes at her.

“I thought you Earth ponies were making your own food,” he said.

“We were growing our own crops,” she said, emphasizing the correct farm terms. She sighed, feeling a bit defeated, “But, it stopped working. Nothing will grow.”

He gave her a questioning face. “Why?” he asked, loosening up a tiny bit.

“You don’t know anything about plants, do you?” she asked.

“No, we spend most of our time in the clouds,” he confessed.

“Well, General Dunce, I’m sure you’ve noticed the change in weather then,” she said, receiving a frown and a nod. “Plants need sunlight, water, and warmth to grow. With all those clouds above our homeland, the snowy rain, and the cold days, the crops just don’t stand a chance,” she told him, dropping her head. Some of the other ponies had taken notice of their leaders’ conversation and had tuned in their ears. Pink Fudge noticed the attention and quickly raised her head. “But, it doesn’t matter. I have found a solution for my ponies,” she said triumphantly. “So, get your weird ponies out of our manes and let us gather our food,” she ordered, pushing passed the stallion. “Come on, every…normal pony,” she said, motioning for her Earth ponies to follow her deeper into the forest.

Puddinghead gasped for air before hurrying beside her mom. “Can I tell you the important thing now?” she asked.

“Yes, Pudding. But keep moving,” she said, eyeing the stallion as he rejoined his troops.

As general Thunder Cloud discussed the new issue with his wife, the excited filly explained to her mom about the weird, red eyes on the knocked-out insects. The grand chief agreed that the glowing eyes were odd, but it did not concern them because they were leaving. Cookie and her parents were still curious and a little uneased by the blank stares of the bugs but followed their leader nonetheless. Before the Earth ponies journeyed too far, they were called back by the Pegasus general.

“Pink Earth mare!” Thunder Cloud bellowed, flying passed the group and landing in front of the lead mare.

“What do you want, a thank you? You’re not getting one because your interruption was not welcomed,” the pink mare said, trying to walk passed him.

“Hault!” he ordered, holding his hoof up.

“I’m not one of your brainwashed soldiers, now move!” she yelled.

“We just want to talk,” Navy Rain said, landing next to her husband.

“We’ve talked enough. It’s time for us to find some food,” the pink mare said, pushing passed the Pegasi pair.

“That’s what I want to discuss,” the general said, finally winning the stubborn mare’s attention.

“You gonna let us have some of your food now?” the Earth pony chief asked, walking up next to his wife.

“We don’t take hoof-outs,” she huffed, glaring at Purple Caramel.

“I wouldn’t give you any,” Navy Rain defended, glaring at the pink mare.

“No, we don’t mean to give you anything for free,” the black stallion explained, “We want to trade.”

“Trade what?” the Earth mare asked, raising an eye ridge. “We don’t even have food for ourselves. What could you possibly want from us? And what would you give us? You came here for food too,” she asked, getting aggravated.

“Food is what we want,” he told her. “It’s the only thing we can’t provide ourselves with and the only thing you and your ponies can make that we would want,” he explained.

“I told you, that doesn’t work anymore,” she argued.

“But we can make it work,” he told her, pointing up.

Nimbus was above them pushing a small cloud over to his leader. He pushed the grey cloud to the ground and then flew back to the Pegasi group.

“One cloud isn’t gonna make the crops grow,” the grand chief sneered.

“Just watch,” the general instructed hopping onto the cloud.

He flew the cloud a few inches high and then stomped his hooves into the grey cloud. This seemed to anger the cloud as it grew darker. With a little more persuasion from the black stallion, the cloud turned black and coursed with light. The Earth ponies in front of him gasped and whispered in awe.

“How did you do that?” Pink Fudge asked, narrowing her eyes up at him.

“Training,” he replied, moving the cloud down and trading places with his wife.

Navy Rain floated the cloud back up a foot off the ground and began roughly massaging it with her hooves. The cloud seemed to calm down as the internal lightening stopped and the cloud faded back to a light gray. Then tiny drops of water began dripping underneath it.

“Wow!” Purple Caramel said, gawking.

“Hush!” the pink mare demanded, growling at her husband. “What is this?!” she shouted at the winged pair. “You’re doing magic!” the frantic mare accused with an outstretched hoof.

“It’s not magic, not like the unicorns,” the black stallion told her, offended by the accusation. His kind were nothing like those freaks.

“No! You are just like the horned freaks!” she said, taking a step back. “You winged weirdos are controlling the clouds with some kind of…feather magic!” she shouted, pointing at their feathered wings.

The blue Pegasus stomped the cloud to make it stop raining before gliding back down to the ground. “It’s not magic. We’ve learned from observation and practice,” Navy Rain explained, “Just like you and your ponies did with the plants.”

“We don’t control the crops like you control those clouds,” she said, shaking her head. “Only magic could do something like that!” she yelled, backing up. She bumped into her husband, who looked at her strangely. She twisted around to the Earth ponies and declared in a frantic tone, “They are in cahoots with the unicorns!”

“No, we are not,” the winged general assured the ponies. His commanding, but steady tone was a sharp contrast to her loud, hysterical one. “We have learned to control the clouds and the weather through study and practice, just how you all have learned to grow crops,” he explained calmly.

“NO!” the panic-stricken grand chief screamed. “Don’t listen to him! He can’t be trusted!” she exclaimed, causing all her ponies to back away from her. Even her husband pulled their confused daughter securely underneath him. The pair of Pegasi just watched; it wasn’t their place to step in. “I told him about how we grow our food, and now he’s using that against us!” she yelled, stepping closer to the frightened Earth ponies. She noticed her ponies backing away again. “I shouldn’t have told him,” she admitted regrettably, ears down, “I just…I was at a loss…I was confused…weak and delusional with hunger. I didn’t know what to do. They helped us with those bugs, so I thought maybe they could…” She stopped, dropping her head. Then she raised it, her expression hard and angry. “That doesn’t matter now. We must get away from these winged weirdos before they get to us!” she ordered, trying to coax the wide-eyed ponies to follow her. “They want to make us grow food for them with the empty promise of using their magic to control the clouds!” she yelled at them, making them flinch back. “What’s wrong with you?!” she shouted.

“Y-You’re k-kinda’ s-s-scary right now,” her husband told her, keeping the filly protected underneath him.

“Mommy’s not scary,” Pudding said quietly, peeking out from behind the purple legs. Seeing the rage in her mom’s brown eyes, she shrank back and whispered, “Okay, maybe just a teanie bit.”

“Puddinghead, come out of there and come with me so we can get away from all these brainwashed ponies,” the psychotic pink mare ordered, holding out her hoof.

“Umm…I think I’m good with daddy,” she mumbled, staying hidden.

“Puddinghead! I’m not gonna let these winged weirdos or my own ponies hurt you. Come on!” she told her.

“Uuuh, no thanks,” she told her, peeking out from behind her hiding place.

“Don’t listen to daddy. I’m not scary. I’m right! All these other ponies have already been brainwashed by the weird ones and their cloud magic,” she explained, bending down to reach for the frightened filly.

“That’s not true. I-It can’t be,” Pudding said, feeling truly scared for her dad and friends.

“That’s enough!” the chief commanded, stomping his hoof down and making Pink Fudge fall back. “I’m not gonna let you scare anypony anymore, especially my daughter,” Purple Caramel said, staring down at the wide-eyed mare.

“Our daughter!” she corrected, standing up and getting in his face. He growled, pushing her back onto her rear with his head. Shocked, she stayed seated.

“I’m the chief, and that means I’m in charge too,” he told her, “You are not fit to lead anypony…not right now, at least.”

“What are you saying?” she asked. She attempted to stand, but he stared her back down.

“I’m sayin’ that as of now, I’m in charge!” he declared.

“You can’t do that!” she said, jumping up.

“I’m sorry, Fudge. I don’t know if it’s from hunger or stress or what, but you have lost it. You ain’t thinkin’ straight,” he said apologetically. “For now, I think it’s best if I lead our ponies,” he said, staring back at her.

“I won’t stand for this!” the crazy mare shouted.

She lunged at her betraying husband, eyes wide, teeth bared, and hooves outstretched. The chief shielded his daughter from the crazy mare and closed his eyes. But, the attack never came. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes to see his angry wife floating in the air stuck in her attack position. His gasp joined all the others as all eyes were on the frozen, mid-air mare. A pale blue light glowed around her.

“It is okay now ponies. Your king has arrived to save you all!” a deep voice bellowed through the trees. Everyponies’ eyes moved to the trees as a large, robed silver unicorn with a well-kept light blue mane and tail stepped into view followed by a group of serious-looking unicorns. His horn glowed against his crown with the same light as the frozen mare. “I heard the scream of frieght, and I have come to your…aid…” the unicorn king stopped in his tracks upon seeing the two Pegasi. His blue eyes took notice of the large group of Pegasi behind the Earth ponies. Stunned, he lost his focus and dropped the ex-grand chief. “I…I was not expecting…”

“SEE!” Pink Fudge screamed, pointing a trembling hoof at the unicorns. “I told you! CAHOOTS!” she yelled. The Earth ponies stared suspiciously between the two odd groups of ponies.

“As I was saying,” Silver Sapphire continued, not liking being interrupted. “I was not expecting the winged ones to be here, but no matter. My ponies and I will still save you from the…uh…” he stopped again, looking around at the absence of anything but ponies and harmless trees. “Um…” Everypony stared at him, even his own caped guards.

Suddenly, a small unicorn ran through the trees coming from the direction where the Earth ponies and Pegasi had previously been. He made his way passed the two groups of ponies and stumbled up to his king. Out of breath, he whispered something to the large unicorn. The king’s expression transformed from unamused, to confusion, and finally to surprise.

“What do you mean they are already taken out?” Silver harshly whispered to the unicorn. He looked back at his guards and glared at his right-hoof guard. Having heard the quiet message, the white pony shrugged in response. “Fine, just undo it, and I’ll fix this,” the king told the messenger. The small stallion bowed and quickly scurried back from where he came.

“We were in the middle of something. Take your ponies elsewhere,” Thunder Cloud told the unicorn king.

“No, we have come to speak with the Earth ponies. I command that you leave,” Silver Sapphire ordered the Pegasus general.

“You are not my king! I will not listen to you,” the black stallion said.

“Okay. I have decided to trust the big winged pony here,” Chief Purple Caramel said, interrupting the brief argument.

“What?!” Pink Fudge exclaimed.

“As my first demand as the new head chief, I order her to be restrained,” the chief said, pointing to his wife. She glared at him but was quickly tackled down by about ten Earth ponies. “Now, I think we were talkin’ about a deal,” he said to the large Pegasus.

“So, you agree to listen to my offer?” Thunder Cloud questioned, peering down at the smaller stallion.

“Yes,” he agreed, watching his wife struggle under the hooves of the ponies she once called her own. He kept his daughter securely underneath him.

“Hold on! I have come to make an offer,” the unicorn king stated, storming up to the other two leaders. His caped guards followed close behind, although they felt a little unprotected without armor after seeing the Pegasi.

“What can you give us?” the Earth pony chief asked, warily eyeing the unicorn.

“Um…protection,” the silver stallion said.

“We already gave them that, and they are welcome to have more,” the Pegasus general said.

“We don’t need protection. We are strong and brave enough to defend ourselves,” the purple pony defended to both of them. “You got anything else to offer?” he asked.

“Um…uh…” he looked back to his guards. His right-hoof guard lit his horn. “Oh!” the king understood. “Magic, we have magic to offer,” he said proudly.

“I don’t want anything to do with your weird magic!” the chief stated, narrowing his eyes at him.

“Well, what do you want? We need you to grow food for us,” the king asked.

“They are going to grow food for us,” the general corrected.

“First day as leader, and I’m already popular,” Caramel said to himself.

“They can’t grow any food without our help with the weather,” Thunder Cloud argued to the unicorn.

“Weather problems? That’s why you stopped growing food?” the king asked the chief.

“Yeah. The crops won’t grow in this chilly, cloudy weather,” the Earth pony explained.

“Well, my magic can fix that,” he declared. “If it’s too cold…” he said, lighting his horn.

He shot a beam of blue magic on the empty ground behind him. The grass glowed and immediately caught fire. The flames quickly spread and grew taller. Before the fire reached the branches, Navy Rain flew in with the tiny cloud and made it rain over the fire. Once the flames were gone, she glared at the wide-eyed unicorn.

“You don’t know nothin’ about plants, do you, horn head? Plants don’t like to be caught on fire!” the chief yelled at the unicorn. “As I already told you, no magic. We don’t want nothin’ you got, so go back to your mountain castle and leave us alone. We are trying to make a deal,” he demanded. He turned his back to the angry unicorn and resumed his conversation with the winged pony leader.

“Let’s discuss this along the way. I think we’ve spent enough time in this dark forest,” the general said.

He nodded for his soldiers to follow as he led the chief through the other ponies. Caramel waved for his ponies to follow as well. As the ex-leader of the Earth ponies was restrained in vines and carried by her own ponies, the new leader and winged leader discussed their deal while leading their followers back to safety. The livid king turned on his hooves and angrily led his guards back to his castle.

By the time everypony was back into the Earth ponies’ territory, the arrangement was final. The Pegasi would provide good weather for the Earth ponies to grow their crops, and, in exchange, the Earth ponies would give a portion of their food to the Pegasi. Neither tribe was happy to be working with the stubborn grounded ponies or the winged weirdos, but lack of enough food had driven them to cooperation.

Chapter 6: Something to Offer

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“Figures. I don’t know why you even worry,” an annoyed Chaos said with boredom to his counterpart, “Somehow they always find a way to work things out.” Suddenly, his voice raised in anger, “AND ESCAPE MY FOREST WITHOUT A SINGLE FATALITY!” Harmony quickly covered her ear holes. “Is it too much to ask for one, little pony death?” he sighed, placing a longing stub on the holographic screen. “Maybe just a little…severe, excruciatingly painful, oozing wound,” his voice deepened as he spoke. He sighed again and pressed his cheek onto the Viewer. “I don’t even care if it was a fatal wound,” he said with melancholy, “Just some real pain for a while…just on one of these ponies…” “Is that too much to ask!?” he shouted into the stars above him as he dramatically fell through the screen and landed on the floor. He sighed sadly again.

Harmony came into his view above him. She blinked her green eyes down at him. “Feel better now?” she asked.

“Yeah,” he said. He floated back up and said, “Just got to let it out sometimes.”

“Yeah, okay,” she unenthusiastically agreed.

“Don’t you just wish that sometimes we could do more?” he asked, sounding melancholy again. She focused back on the screen and halfway listened to him as she watched the angry unicorn king complain about his plan falling through. “You know, affect the planet and our creatures in some way. Persuade them in their decisions. Make them walk a certain way, like right into the clutches of a hungry, blood-thirsty chimera. Three heads are better than one, you know,” he babbled on, “I could send three ponies, maybe a family of three…no four, right into the jaws of the three heads. And the fourth pony…would just have to watch as his family was…”

“Chaos…please stop!” Harmony begged, ear holes covered and eyes squeezed shut. “That’s just horrible. And so sad,” she said, opening her eyes and uncovering her ears.

“I’m just saying, it would be nice to give our creatures a little push every once in a while,” he said, with a shrug. “It’s so boring just watching. Wouldn’t it be better if we could help them out every now and then?” he asked. She made a thoughtful face and glanced back at the unicorns on the Viewer. “What?” he asked.

“You know, for all your unpleasant chaos babbling, you actually come up with some good idea sometimes,” she said with a smile.

“Yeah, I know! Control should totally let us take control over the planet and make our creatures bend to our will,” he said conversationally.

“Nooo,” she said, “That’s not what I meant.” “Let’s go talk to Control,” she instructed, taking his stub in her own. “Then I think we should have a little talk about free will,” she said as they dematerialized.

~

“But why should they be free to do what they want? We aren’t,” the bell-shaped spirit complained as they appeared in a long hallway with translucent purple floor, ceiling, walls, and several doors. “Look at us now, going to our ‘leader’ to ask permission to do something,” he pointed out, crossing his stubs.

“We have free will. We just have someone above us, and we have to follow his rules, like the ponies with their general, chief, and king. It’s still our decision to talk to Control,” Harmony cheerfully explained, floating down the long hall.

“So, what are we asking from our majesty?” he asked, following after her.

“To help out the unicorns. They need a little push in the right direction, and I think the Pegasi and Earth ponies need a little persuasion in the magic region,” she explained using her counterpart’s words. She knocked on the first door and received no response. So, she moved onto the next door and did the same.

“Oh oh oh, so little miss goodie-goodie isn’t getting enough harmony, so she’s going to go whine to her precious mentor and ask for help,” he teased as he subtly placed his lightly glowing stub on the first door, until he felt it unlock. He stuck the tip of his stub inside, formed two digits on the tip, and snapped them. Feeling the interior of the room explode in a chaotic wonder, an evil grin formed on his face. He pulled his stub back out, placed it on the door, and relocked it before Harmony turned around. His wide grin was replaced with a smaller, less suspicious one.

“I’ve never asked to do anything about the planet or its harmony,” she defended. She turned back around and knocked on another door. Chaos casually floated over to the second door and repeated the process, filling another one of Control’s rooms with chaos, as Harmony continued, “We’ve been watching the planet for over six months now. I think an entire species of ponies dying of starvation is important enough to tell Control.” With a little smile, she said, “And maybe he’ll let me help them out.”

Resurfacing his stub from the third door, Chaos taunted, “Oh, I seeeee. Harmony wants her treasured mentor to give her a special task.” He locked the door and then floated over to her. He poked her side with each word as he said, “Just…for…her.” Her glow pinkened.

“No, I just want to save the unicorns,” she argued, growing pinker.

He laughed. “Your pink glow says otherwise,” he teased with a devilish grin.

“I just…I just think a whole race of ponies going extinct would really throw off the harmony balance, and…and I just want to help,” she defended, glowing in a pink blush as she knocked on the fourth door.

“Yeeeeah…but that’s not all you want…” he taunted, floating up behind her. “You want something else,” he breathed in her ear hole, happily making her blush harder. “You want…Control…” he said seductively. “…’s praise,” he rapidly finished with a dark chuckle.

“It would be nice to get that too…his praise,” she quickly clarified. “A little ‘thank you’ or a ‘good job’ or a little mission just for me,” she said, imagining how wonderful it would be to do something special for the planet and save all the unicorns. She just wanted some recognition from her mentor. Was that so wrong? Was that too much to ask?

Chaos actually did have a good point about their job of just watching. She wanted to do something more than observe; she wanted to show Control that she was capable of so much more and help the ponies find their harmony. This was a true case of harmony imbalance and a real opportunity to do something for the planet and her creatures. Plus, she cared too much about the ponies to watch an entire third of them die because the other two-thirds wouldn’t trade with them for the much-needed food. She had to do something.

“Yeah, he never praises us for anything we do…no matter how hard we work, how hard we try, how much you want it,” he whispered in her ear hole. She glowed brighter at his alluring tone and words. In response to her embarrassment, his own black glow darkened along with his now misty eyes.

Suddenly, the door opened to a neutral looking black and yellow sphere. The green-eyed figure peered down at the pair: one beaming with a pink glow and the other with his mouth inches from her cheek. Harmony’s eyes widened as she realized how they must look. She quickly elbowed Chaos away from her. He groaned and fell backwards, glow and eyes returning to normal. Still blushing madly and still under the gaze of her mentor, she swiftly spun around and helped Chaos up. She ignored his glare and turned back around, her pink glow still strong. Control stared down at her, presumably waiting for an explanation for their intrusion. His eyes caught sight of the two abnormalities at the end of Chaos’s right stub. Taking notice of the fixed stare, Chaos looked down and realized that his two digits were still out.

Chaos lifted his doubled-digited stub and said, “We come in peace.” Control’s expression clearly read: unamused. The largest of the three turned his focus back on a slightly less pink Harmony.

“Um…sir, I wanted to discuss a potential problem on the planet,” she said in a serious tone. “Due to two uncooperative tribes of ponies, the third tribe is in danger of becoming extinct caused by starvation from lack of enough food sources,” she very officially explained.

“Species become extinct. It is a part of the evolution of the planet. Those creatures that cannot find a way to survive vanish from existence,” Control told her in his neutral tone.

“Yes, I understand,” she said, hiding her emotions. The ponies were more than just some species to her. “But, I don’t feel it’s time for the unicorns to go yet. They haven’t even found their true harmony,” she argued politely.

“Not every creature is meant to succeed, Harmony,” he told her.

“Yes, I understand that as well. But, these ponies are special, very special. They can wield magic with their horns,” she explained, “And I believe they can do so much more with it. They’ve learned so much already. I just think they have a lot more potential and so much more harmony and magic to discover. I just don’t feel like it’s their time to go.”

“Do you believe this is an issue that will affect the balance of the planet?” he asked, peering down at her.

Harmony looked around with uncertainty. Her eyes landed on Chaos, who was now sporting nine and twelve digits on his stubs. She shook her head watching him trying to intertwine them all together. She wondered about her decision to bring him along, but it was his words that inspired her idea. She focused back on her mentor, now sure of her decision to alert Control to the situation and sure of her gut feeling that the balance could be in jeopardy if she let the ponies be.

“Yes,” she said confidently, floating tall.

“Then it is time for our first New World Meeting,” Control said officially.

“That sounds important…but also boring,” Chaos commented, all twenty-one digits tangled together. “Do I have to go?” he asked. Control glowed bright green and encompassed the trio inside his light. Once the blinding light faded, the three of them were sat at a round white table floating in the center of a spherical, non-transparent white room. Everything in the room was a physical solid, not intangible or translucent. “I guess that’s a yes,” he sighed. He shook his stubs, scattering the cloud-like substance of his digits, which floated back to form the tip of his smooth stubs. Stubs back to normal, he rested his would-be-chin into his palms with his elbows on the hard table and sighed. He made a face at the solid surface.

“Where are we, sir?” Harmony asked, looking across the table at her mentor.

“The Meeting Room,” he simply replied.

“It’s nice,” she complimented, scanning the perfectly round and spotlessly white room.

“You mean boring,” Chaos sighed, trying to stick his stub through the table only for his stub to spread outward on the tabletop. “The chair’s cool though,” he said, spotting the round, cushion underneath him. It had the same greyish, upside-down rainbow pattern as his natural coloring. “But, I don’t really like yours,” he told Harmony, putting his stub back down and looking at her matching cushion chair that resembled her rainbow instead. As she looked his way, he quickly formed two digits on his hidden right stub and snapped them.

“I think it suits me,” she said, admiring her special chair. Chaos’s grin transformed into a frown. He snapped his digits again, but still the chair remained the same.

“Your powers don’t work in here,” a feminine voice suddenly spoke, making the chaotic spirit jump.

“Destiny!” Chaos startled. “You should wear a bell,” he said, pouting at her.

“What do you mean his powers don’t work?” Harmony asked, looking from the bell-shaped figure diagonally across from her and to the smaller one next to her. “Did you try to do something to my chair?” she accused the cross-stubbed spirit.

“Calm down, it didn’t work,” he pouted. “So, why didn’t her chair turn into a miniature black hole?” he asked the blue and white figure.

“Black hole?!” the oval spirit shrieked.

“Yep!” he replied with an evil grin.

“This is the reason your powers do not work in this room,” Destiny explain. “Discussions about the planet can get rather heated, so yours and Harmony’s powers won’t work for safety reasons,” she told them.

“That’s insulting! I would never!” Chaos dramatically said, crossing his stubs and turning away from the table.

“You tried to suck me into a black hole, and I didn’t even do anything,” Harmony argued.

“Only a tiny one. You wouldn’t have even fit through,” he defended.

“But, I honestly would never use my powers to hurt anyone,” she said to Destiny, “…not even him.”

“It’s just a precaution,” she assured her. “Even Control’s and my own powers are limited in this room.”

“Reeeallyyyy?” Control said, grinning sideways at the round figure seated diagonally from him.

“It is time to begin,” Control addressed the small room. “Now that everyone is present,” he said with a glance at the figure to his left. Destiny returned the look with a smile. “Harmony has informed me that the planet is in possible danger of becoming unbalanced,” he addressed the group.

“The issue with the unicorns,” Destiny said knowingly.

“How does she know everything?!” Chaos asked, sitting straight up. “How do you know everything?” he asked her.

“Hum Hum!” she laughed, getting a narrowed eyed look from the spirit across from her. He used his two digits to point at his eyes and then at her.

“Ahem,” Control cleared his throat. “Yes, the unicorns,” he agreed. “Harmony,” he said, signaling her to explain the problem to everyone.

“Um…” she began, looking at all the eyes on her. “Yes, the unicorns,” she said professionally, “They need food for the coming winter. Since this is their first experience with the cold weather, they did not prepare and store any food in advance. Now they have almost completely diminished their food supply in their forest.” She looked around at everyone, seeing that she still had the two larger of the three’s attention. She continued, “Like the Pegasi have done, they wanted to trade with the Earth ponies for food. The problem is, they have nothing to barter that the Earth ponies want. They have nothing to offer.”

“How does this affect the balance?” Control asked.

“I strongly feel that without receiving any food from the Earth ponies, the unicorns will starve once the winter actually comes. Without the unicorns, the harmony will decrease and throw off the balance of the planet,” she explained, gaining a glance from her counterpart. “Or, worse, they will resort to fighting. A war among the ponies will only result in a high increase in chaos, which will severely throw off the balance of harmony and chaos. The planet could be in real danger of becoming unstable,” she said with passion and concern. Chaos had his full focus on her now, a wide grin on his face.

“That sounds like a real problem, Harmony,” Destiny said, her usual happy tone turned a bit worried.

“Indeed,” Control agreed.

“Let’s not get carried away,” Chaos said smoothly, “Harmony may be exaggerating. We all know how worked up she can get. She gets all worried about her precious ponies and blows everything out of proportion.” He glanced at the frowning spirit next to him. “Earlier, she told me she was worried about them, so we watched them for a while. And guess what?” he calmly explained. “They worked things out, and they all were fine. Not a single one even died,” he huffed, crossing his stubs.

“That’s not completely true, sir and madam,” Harmony said in her professional tone, “The Pegasi and the Earth ponies made their deal and escaped Chaos’s forest unharmed, and the unicorns were heading back to their castle unhurt by his creatures as well. But, as I said, the unicorns were unable to make arrangements with the Earth ponies. We need to do something before it’s too late.”

“She just wants a special task,” Chaos grumbled. Harmony instantly blushed.

“Special task?” Control asked, looking from the dark spirit to the pink glowing one.

“I-I was hoping you would allow me to intervene with the creatures,” she admitted quietly, eyes downcast.

“Is this why you came to me?” he asked, a pinch of anger in his tone.

“No!” she argued, looking up. “I would never ask for something like this for my own selfish desires…sir,” she said, eyes back down. “I was just hoping I could fix the problem, the very real, very serious problem, by intervening with the ponies,” she explained, eyes moving between the table and her mentor.

“Yeah, right,” Chaos grumbled.

“It’s true,” she defended. “Sir, you have to know I would never be so selfish as to make up a problem and interfere with the planet and its stability for my own selfishness,” she practically begged the figure with the neutral expression. She couldn’t stand the thought of her mentor believing Chaos’s lies about her.

“Yeah, that’s why you were lit up like a pink bulb in the hall earlier,” the bell-shaped spirit refuted.

“That was because you were teasing me about my mentor and my desire for his…” she stopped herself, growing pinker. She dared to looked his way. While Destiny released a little giggle again, Control seemed the slightest bit irritably curious.

“Heh, heh. For his what, Harmony?” Chaos teased.

Mortified and desperate to steer the conversation back to the important business, the spirit of harmony did something she would usually never resort to: played dirty. She stared straight at the spirit with the devilish grin and in a serious, dark tone spoke one word of warning, “Dog.”

Varying ranges of confused expressions turned her way. Realization struck Chaos as his expression dropped to an almost frightened appearance. Then he glared daggers at Harmony, who just smirked at him in return. Defeated, he stayed silent and looked away. She felt awful doing that to him, but she had no other way to stop him. Words were her only power in this room. She couldn’t let him keep arguing against her. Never mind her embarrassment, she needed Control on her side so she could help the unicorns.

“Sorry, sir, madam,” Harmony said, turning back to the silent pair. “Can we please just continue?” she asked, turning a bit pink again.

“Yes,” Control said, neutral once again. “If you are certain that there is a real issue and the planet’s stability is in real danger…” He stared down at her.

“Yes, sir,” she said confidently. She glanced at Chaos, making sure he didn’t attempt to argue against her again. He still had his back to her. “I can feel it,” she added with a nod.

“What is your proposal for a solution?” Control asked.

“I’m not sure…I mean, I have a few ideas. I haven’t had much time to think on it,” she admitted. “Chaos was saying that he wished we could help our creatures out, give them a push, or some persuasion,” she said, trying to give her counterpart some credit. Chaos was unmoved by the gesture. “It made me realize that he was right. I think this is what the ponies need. A little push in the right direction and some persuasion,” she told her mentor.

“Explain,” Control spoke.

“The Earth ponies need to be persuaded. They need to see the value in the unicorns’ magic. The unicorn king already offered his magic to help the Earth ponies with their crop growing, but it didn’t work out so well,” she recalled. “If the Earth ponies gave the king another chance and really tried to value his magic, I think they could work things out. I believe magic is what the unicorns could offer the Earth ponies in exchange for food,” she explained. “The Earth ponies just need a push to give magic another chance as a barter,” she concluded.

“How do you suppose things will differ? Why will the Earth ponies accept magic if offered again?” Control asked.

“I was hoping I could help the Earth ponies understand magic’s value. Show them that magic isn’t a ‘weird’ thing, as they call it. If they see it has value, they will be willing to trade their food for the unicorn’s magic’s help,” she told him, “Imagine how much food they could grow with all three tribes working together. The Earth ponies could use their plant knowledge, the Pegasi their weather control, and the unicorns their magic to grow the plants large and healthy to supply enough food for everypony before the winter comes. This could be a gateway to the ponies finding their harmony with each other and finally accepting each other despite their differences.” She smiled and said, “They could finally be truly harmonious just like I created them to be.” Chaos deeply frowned at the idea but held his tongue.

“That would be fantastic for you, Harmony,” Destiny said.

“How do you plan to accomplish this, Harmony?” Control questioned.

“I was thinking I could go back down to the planet and talk to them, sir,” she said, unsure.

“That is not feasible,” Control shot her down.

“I know they can’t see or hear me, but I thought maybe there was something you could do to allow me to be heard by them, sir. You have done it before, talked to the creatures on the planet, haven’t you?” she asked, confidence shrinking.

“It is not feasible,” he repeated.

“But, is it possible?” she asked.

Destiny answered for him, “I believe I have a more suitable way for you to achieve communication, Harmony.”

“How?” she asked, turning her attention away from the silent Control.

“Communicating with the creatures does not require travel to their planet. You can do it from up here,” she explained.

“How?” “HOW?!” Harmony and Chaos asked in unison.

“I can show you,” Destiny said.

She closed her eyes and glowed a bright, light blue that blinded and absorbed the two spirits. As the light disappeared, Control sat alone in the meeting room.

“Meeting adjourned,” he said to nobody.

~

Blinking their green eyes, Harmony and Chaos discovered they were in another room they had never been in before. This one was large and dome-shaped with a white interior as well. But the flat floor and rounded walls that transformed flawlessly into the ceiling flowed with moving splotches of light blue. Destiny floated in front of the two spirits and glowed a bit brighter again. A large oval piece of the wall in front of her faded away and left a blank screen that resembled the Viewer.

“Ah ha! This is how you know everything. You have your own secret Viewer,” Chaos said triumphantly, swiftly floating next to her.

“Not exactly. It’s called a Perceiver,” Destiny told him, blue glow back to normal. “It allows me to see more than just the physical forms of the beings of the planet.”

“Hum, so it’s an extra special, fancy Viewer?” he asked, as Harmony joined them on Destiny’s other side.

“Is this going to help me talk to the ponies?” she asked, admiring the large screen.

“Yes…” Destiny stopped and glanced behind her. A flash of green lit up behind them and left Control in its place. “Come to join us, Control?” she asked. He silently floated up next to Harmony and glanced at Destiny before looking at the Perceiver.

“Such tension,” Chaos commented from the far side of Destiny, who giggled. Harmony stood awkwardly between the two larger figures as Control just ignored the comment and stared at the blank screen.

“Follow me, Harmony,” Destiny instructed, saving her from the awkwardness. She led her to a blue circle on the floor in front of the giant screen. As Harmony floated over it, the circle lit up and she instantly felt a wave flow inside her. “Feel that?” Destiny asked. Harmony nodded. “The Pad links you to the Perceiver, and the Perceiver helps you better connect with your creatures. This will allow you to communicate with them,” she explained, gesturing towards the screen. Harmony looked up and saw that the screen was no longer blank.

“Did I do that?” she asked, looking at the Perceiver. Destiny nodded. “I was just thinking about them. I wasn’t even trying to do anything,” she said, watching the Pegasi clear out the clouds as the Earth ponies watched below from their crop fields. She smiled at their cooperation.

“Go ahead, Harmony. Speak to them,” Destiny encouraged. Harmony looked nervously among the three of them. Destiny was smiling, Control was just watching her, and Chaos was filled with a mixture of jealousy and curiosity. She turned back to the screen.

“Hello?” Harmony said with uncertainty. Nopony seemed to have heard her. “Hello,” she said louder.

“With more feeling, from inside,” Destiny instructed.

Harmony closed her eyes and expanded her yellow glow. “Hello,” she tried again, opening her eyes and seeing no change. She scrunched up her face and shut her eyes, making her glow brighten and expand. The circle below her lit up with more intensity. “Hello,” she said with determination.

“Hello?” a voice replied.

Harmony’s eyes shot open and she looked at the Perceiver. “Hello!” she said again.

“Is somepony there?” the young voice asked. Harmony searched the screen but only saw the ponies working.

“Hi. Yes, I’m here,” Harmony said.

The screen suddenly morphed into the image of a pink filly looking around a small room in confusion. She was lying on a bed filled with straw looking around, her back end wrapped in white bandaging.

“Where are you?” she said, looking under her bed.

“Oh no! Are you okay? I didn’t realize that giant orchis mantis had bitten you that hard,” Harmony said, growing concerned for her creature. Control and Destiny stayed quiet and let her talk. Chaos grinned at the injured filly.

“No. My daddy just wrapped it up to be safe. He worries too much,” she said. Making a face and looking around, she asked, “How’d you know about that meanie bug? Are you a spy?!”

“Um, not exactly. I’m…” she said, looking at Destiny. She nodded for her to continue. “I’m sort of a spirit. I watch over you and the planet. I created you and your family,” she explained.

“A spirit? Are you a ghost?!” she asked, throwing her blanket over her head.

“No, Pudding. I’m your creator,” she explained.

“My creator? But, my mommy and daddy are the ones that had me,” Pudding argued, settling on talking to the ceiling. The image on the screen faded again so that the filly seemed to be looking directly at them.

“They are your parents, but I created you. I made it so that you and the rest of my creatures remember things as though you were born and raised to the age you are now. It’s the way I was told to do it, so no one would question where they came from. So, everyone could just live their lives,” she explained. “Think about it. Do you have any memories of being a foal?” she asked.

Pudding thought for a moment and then replied, “No. I just had a feeling. All I can feel is the idea that I used to be a foal.”

“That’s why. I made you,” Harmony told her. Pudding looked down and rested her head against the straw of her bed. “I don’t mean to upset you. I just need your help,” she said.

“But…but if you made me, that means mommy and daddy aren’t my real parents,” Pudding said, looking up with tears in her eyes. “Is that why my mom is locked up? Is she really just some crazy mare that tried to take me away from my dad? But, he’s not my dad either…” she said, looking around in a panic.

“No no, Pudding,” she said, ignoring Chaos’s snicker, “I used some of each of your parents to make you. Your just as much as theirs as if they had you themselves.”

“But…”

“Puddinghead. They are your parents, okay?” Harmony assured.

“Um, okay,” Pudding said, rubbing her eyes.

“I’m sorry, Pudding. Is your dad around? I think it would be better if I talked to an adult…the chief,” Harmony carefully worded.

“Um, daddy told me to stay in bed because of the bite,” Pudding told her, blinking the tears away. “And, um,” she sniffed, “Mom’s um grounded right now. She kinda freaked out.”

“Let’s not talk about your mom, okay?” she said.

“Okay,” she said. “Oh! I know,” she said, suddenly more cheerful. She grabbed a little bell next to her and rang it.

“Daddy told me to ring this if I needed anything,” she explained.

A few moments later the door opened and a brown filly walked in. “Ya need somethin’, Pudding?” she asked.

“Hi, Cookie. I need my dad. The spirit needs to talk to him,” Pudding explained.

“Spirit? Like a ghost?” Cookie asked, eyeing the small room.

“No, Cookie,” Harmony said. The freckled filly made a face.

“She’s talking to you, Cookie,” Pudding said.

“Can you hear me?” Harmony asked.

Cookie shook her head and said, “I’m gonna get your pa.” She quickly left the room.

“That was weird,” Pudding said. Harmony hummed.

Walking through the opened door and up to the bed, Chief Purple Caramel asked with concern, “What do you need, Pudding?”

“I’m fine, but the spirit needs to talk to you,” she responded.

“Hello,” Harmony said.

“What spirit?” he asked.

“The one that just said ‘hello’,” his daughter said.

“Chief Purple Caramel?” Harmony tried again.

“Don’t be rude, say hi, daddy,” Pudding said.

“To who, Pudding?” he asked, looking around.

“The spirit!” she insisted.

“Pudding, I don’t see or hear any spirit,” he told her.

“But, I can hear her. And she said she needed help,” she told her dad.

He looked at her with concern and noticed her resemblance to her mother. “Pudding, I think you need to rest,” he told her, covering her up. “I…the bite, i-it must be affecting your mind. Okay, just go to sleep,” he said, trying to smile.

“Okay, daddy,” she said, hearing the concern in her voice. He kissed her head and left her alone.

“Pudding, I…” Harmony tried.

“No! Stop talking to me. You’re not real. Just a voice in my head from the bug bite,” she yelled, pulling the blanket over her head. “I’m not crazy,” she whispered.

“That went better than expected,” Chaos said with a grin.

The screen went blank again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset anyone,” Harmony said sadly.

“This is why we do not interfere with the creatures. Not all will listen and those that do find it hard to understand,” Control advised.

“Don’t be discouraged, Harmony. We can still solve this problem,” Destiny told her. Harmony looked up at her sadly.
“You just need to find the right pony to talk to. An older pony, one who has more power of persuasion over the others, one who will listen and convince the others to follow in their lead…” she stopped and looked at the screen, “Just who I was thinking.”

Harmony turned back to the screen and said, “The king? But I needed to talk to the Earth ponies about magic.” The unicorn king was back in his castle, angrily pacing in front of his throne with his right-hoof guard watching him.

“I think you should approach this from a different angle,” Destiny suggested. “You feel the unicorns have a lot more potential left with their magic, am I correct?” she asked, getting a nod. “Instead of convincing the Earth ponies to accept the unicorn’s offer, why not give the unicorns a better offer to give, an offer that the Earth ponies would not refuse?” she asked. She brightened her blue glow and shifted the view on the screen to the balcony where the sun was setting low in the sky.

Harmony stared at the Perceiver for a few moments. Then she gasped. “Is that even possible? Can I do that?” she asked.

“Absolutely not,” Control intervened. “The sun’s cycle is far too delicate to put in the hands of any mere creature. Furthermore, no creature is powerful enough to lift the sun,” he explained, showing a fair amount of rage.

“I’m not suggesting one creature be responsible for the sun, Control. If the unicorns work together and show their true harmony, they will be strong enough to complete the task. As long as there is enough harmony between them, that connection with our Harmony will be enough to allow them to control the sun,” Destiny told him. “As for the cycle, you are much too concerned with its precision, Control. The planet will be fine if the cycle is a bit off. After all, the moon’s cycle is very fluent with its fulls, halves, and wholes,” she went on.

“One race of creatures cannot be allowed to control a body as important as the sun,” Control argued.

“Not just the sun, the moon and stars as well. As with the sun, the unicorns’ combined magic will be strong enough to control the moon and stars as well. I see no future where the Earth ponies would refuse to give a little of their food in exchange for the sun’s warmth and light and the moon and stars’ illumination and beauty,” Destiny explained.

“That may be true, but that is too much power to give one species,” Control refuted.

“It’s the perfect offer,” Harmony said more to herself. Control looked to her. “Sir, I would gladly give up my responsibility of the sun, if it would save the unicorns,” she said, “I don’t know another way. The Earth ponies are very adamant about hating magic; I can’t think of another way that they would agree.”

All was silent for a several tense moments before Control said, “Very well. If you are certain of your decision…”

“Yes,” she said.

“Disharmony, are you willing to give up your responsibility…”

“Definitely!” Chaos interrupted, “You know how boring and tedious it gets to raise and lower the moon every single night and day? I do! And it’s awful. I’d rather conserve my power and use my time for more important things.” Harmony gave him a look. “You know, like observing the planet and resting,” he quickly said.

“Proceed,” Control said to Harmony as he watched the screen again. She nodded.

“Hello, can either of you hear me?” she asked, returning the view back to the seething king and silent guard. The scene didn’t change. “Hello. Silver Sapphire, Adjutant Friday,” she attempted again. The crowned unicorn didn’t halt his pacing. The white stallion with the black and yellow, short mane didn’t budge. “Your highness…majesty…king?” Harmony tried several more times, even shouting their names, but neither heard a sound. She looked back at the others in the room, but no one offered any help for she had to do this on her own. The determined spirit stared at the screen and moved the view around the room, until inspiration finally struck.

“Sir, could I lower the sun a little early. I need to get his attention,” Harmony asked her mentor. His green eyes narrowed a fraction before he nodded. “Thank you, sir,” she said with a bow of her head. “Chaos, I need you to not raise the moon or bring out the stars,” she instructed, taking control.

“I can do that,” Chaos agreed with a grin. The promise of being relieved of his boring, routine duty, brought him on board with Harmony’s idea. Forget about the stupid ponies getting along; without raising the moon, he’d have more freedom and more energy. He could make an entire army of chaos puppies, all with their very own souls! His grinned widened as he rubbed his stubs together.

Before Harmony could question if she could control the sun from this room, the Perceiver changed again to show the sun from the king’s balcony. She raised her glowing stubs and concentrated on the glowing orb. Just as easy as ever, she moved the sun down and out of view of the planet’s inhabitants.

The image faded again and showed the throne room, which was now pitch black. Both ponies lit their horns and looked towards the balcony. They waited, but the moon and the stars did not come out. Silver Sapphire led his right-hoof guard out onto the balcony, and they both looked to the dark sky. They could hear the distant sound of confused, panicked, and angry voices far off passed their forest below. The same could be heard through the dark interior of the castle.

“Your highness?” Adjutant Friday questioned. The king stayed silent for several moments before he finally came up with a solution.

“The Pegasi and their weather control must be behind this,” Silver Sapphire concluded, “Their clouds are covering the sky and blocking the light.”

His right-hoof guard seemed unsure, but agreed, “You’re right, your majesty.”

“It wasn’t the Pegasi!” Harmony’s voice finally reached the mind of the white unicorn. Adjutant’s yellow eyes looked around. “He heard me!” she said excitedly to Destiny. “Adjutant Friday, it’s not the clouds that are blocking the moonlight. The moon and the stars are gone,” she told him. He looked surprised. “I am your creator, and I am responsible,” Harmony told him.

“What is the matter?” Silver asked his guard.

“Do you hear that, highness?” he asked.

“I hear nothing but my worried ponies,” he replied, looking at the large thrown room door.

“A voice. She says the Pegasi are not responsible for the disappearance of the moon; she is,” he explained.

“Who?” the king asked.

“Our creator,” he responded, looking to his king.

“Creator?” the silver unicorn asked.

“Yes. I created you. I’m Harmony, your majesty,” Harmony said. The king gasped and frantically looked around the room. “Don’t be frightened. I just want to help you and your unicorns,” her voice rang in their heads.

“Help? How?” Silver Sapphire questioned, eyeing the dark room suspiciously.

“By giving you an offer for the Earth ponies,” she explained.

“What is this offer?” he asked, silently instructing his guard to search the dark room.

“I really don’t mean any harm,” she assured them, seeing the white unicorn checking behind the throne. “Adjutant, you’re not going to find me behind the throne,” she almost laughed at her creatures. The guard quickly raised his head and eyed the room. “I’m not in the throne room. I’m not even on your planet. I’m communicating with you through…well, think of it as magic,” she explained.

“Magic? Like ours?” the king asked.

“Hum…sort of,” she replied.

“Is that why your voice seems to be in my head and not my ears?” the guard asked, looking to the high ceiling.

“Huh…” she said, taking in this new information. “I suppose so,” she said.

“What is your offer?” the king said, eyeing his guard. The white unicorn stood to attention and stayed silent.

“The sun, moon, and stars,” she answered.

“You will not bring them back if we do not agree?” Silver asked, narrowing his eyes at the ceiling.

“Oh no, I intend to bring them back even if you refuse. But, I hope you won’t,” she explained. “My offer is to allow you and your unicorns the responsibility of raising and lowering the sun and moon and bringing out the stars. Performing these tasks every night and day will be your offer for a portion of the Earth ponies’ food,” she told him.

“Huum,” the king hummed, rubbing his chin. “I like it!” he declared. “The perfect idea. The Earth ponies will have to provide us with food if they want their sun back,” he said, with a sideways smile.

“Wait, no. That’s not what I meant. I didn’t intend for you to threaten them,” Harmony told him, looking unhappily at the crowned pony.

“As for those winged ruffians, they will provide us protection from any creatures of the dark forest that dare to tread in our own forest or scale our mountain,” the king went on, ignoring his creator’s dispute. His guard looked at him questioningly. “You and your fellow guards do provide decent protection. But, you saw it for yourself,” he explained to his pony, “Those ruffians have used their roughness and violence to better themselves for battle. And they have those metal suits and hats; their armor protects them better than your thin capes.” Adjutant looked at his flimsy blue cape and had to agree. “My ponies are too regal to be fighting anyway,” he told him, “With the Pegasi’s protection, all my ponies can stay in the safety of the castle and practice their magic. You will still stay at my side, Adjutant Friday. I can’t put all my trust in those hooligans, even with our new threat.” His guard nodded. “Then it is settled! I will take you up on your offer, Creator Harmony,” Silver Sapphire exclaimed to the shadowy ceiling.

“Again, it is not supposed to be a threat, and I didn’t mean to involve the Pegasi. They have their deal with the Earth ponies already,” Harmony desperately tried to explain.

“The sun we will be providing will be shining on the winged ones as well. So, therefore, without an offer from them to us, there will be no more sun!” he declared, stomping his hoof.

She didn’t like the way her creation had spun things around, but she had to agree. Otherwise, the entire unicorn race would suffer. And she was not about to stoop to threatening her own creatures.

“Okay, your highness,” Harmony reluctantly agreed, sorrow in her voice, “As you wish.” “The moon and stars will be brought back tonight, and you and the rest of the unicorns will lower it in the morning and raise the sun. And in exchange, you may ask the other tribes for what you want in return,” she explained professionally with a hint of grief.

“Very well. We agree,” the king replied, “Now, provide us with the power to do so, and we will be done.”

“You already have the power,” she said with some amusement. “I believe if all the unicorns work together, your magic will be strong enough,” she explained, hoping she was right.

“So, you take away our moon and give us nothing?” he asked, glaring up.

“No, I gave you knowledge of your own abilities and an idea for an offering,” she explained, staring back at the ungrateful unicorn. Her yellow glow turned a shade redder. “I suggest you gather your ponies and prepare yourselves for this momentous task before morning,” she advised, easing her stare.

“Very well, we will,” he said, eyes narrowed at the ceiling. “Now, the moon,” he said, looking to his balcony.

Harmony took a deep breath. Then she looked at Chaos whose face was plastered with a gleeful smile. The Perceiver changed back to the balcony. “The moon,” she said to the pleased spirit.

“I thought I was done with that,” Chaos said, frowning. She just stared at him, growing a bit redder. “Fine. But this is the last time. If your ponies want their moon so badly, they will just have to raise it themselves,” he huffed, raising his glowing stubs.

The moon shot into the sky, and all the stars appeared at once immediately following. The unicorn seemed pleased as he and his guard dimmed their horns. Then they left the throne room, walking out of the screen’s view without another word. Harmony looked at the Perceiver with a blend of disbelief, anger, and sadness. The wall materialized back over the screen and the circle below her dimmed.

“You did well, Harmony. Your offer was accepted by the unicorns, and it will soon be accepted by the other ponies as well,” Destiny encouraged.

“But the king turned it into a threat,” she argued miserably, “My offer was supposed to bring the ponies together, help them find harmony among themselves. The Pegasi and Earth ponies will only agree to the offer because they will be forced to. How is that better than the way things are now?”

“The ponies will be working together, will they not?” the larger female figure asked.

“Yes, but…”

“Then you have helped them take a step in the right direction,” Destiny said, “And all the ponies will have food for the winter.” She smiled down at the shorter spirit and gained one in return.

“Yes, you’re right, madam. Thank you for everything,” Harmony said.

“You are welcome,” she said.

“It is time to return to your usual duties,” Control announced.

“Wait! I want to talk to my creatures,” Chaos exclaimed, quickly floating over to the blue circle. He was suddenly blinded by a bright green light. When his vision cleared, he was greeted by a rapidly approaching transparent, purple wall. Hitting the wall of the hallway, he mumbled, “No fair.” He pealed himself off the wall and turned towards Harmony. “Why don’t I get to talk to my creatures?” he complained, crossing his stubs.

“Because you don’t have a reason. There’s plenty of chaos on the planet,” she replied. “Too much,” she mumbled. Chaos frowned deeply at her and turned away. Harmony made a face and looked around the hall. “It feels unusually unbalanced in here,” she said with a frown, “This is Control’s hallway. Why would it feel so low on harmony?”

“I’m not talking to you,” Chaos grumbled, back turned towards her.

“Why?” she asked, not entirely upset by that idea.

“Because you’re the favorite,” he said before disappearing.

“Chaos,” she called, following after him.

~

The unhappy spirit appeared back in the Viewer room, immediately followed by Harmony.

“I’m not anyone’s favorite. I just had a real harmony problem before you had a real chaos one,” she explained, “You should be happy. My harmony failed before your chaos did.” She frowned, still feeling a bit like a failure.

“Hum,” he hummed. “Okay, but I’m still not talking to you,” he said, floating in front of the Viewer.

“Why?” she asked, joining him.

Scooting further away from her, he replied in a very dark tone, “Dog.” His black glow darkened as he moved them around the planet.

“Oh,” she said, looking down. “Chaos, I’m sorry. I really am,” she said in a begging tone, “I just needed you to stop, so I could explain things to Control.”

“Just because I embarrassed you, doesn’t give you the right to sale out my puppy,” he growled, not looking at her.

“I didn’t do it just because I was embarrassed,” she told him, “I had a real problem, and I needed Control to believe me, so I could fix it.” He didn’t respond. “I honestly didn’t do it to get special treatment. It’s my job to keep the harmony in balance. I just needed to do my job,” she explained. “But, I shouldn’t have threatened you like that,” she said, “Here I am, angry at my creature for threatening his own fellow ponies, when I threatened you, my fellow spirit.” She looked at him sadly, filled with guilt. “I am truly sorry, Chaos. And I promise I won’t tell Control until you’re ready, okay?” she said, begging him to look at her.

After a moment, he turned around with a big frown on his face. “Okay,” he said shortly, narrowing his eyes at her.

“Um, okay. Good,” she said unsure. He suddenly laughed. “What?”

“Nothing. It’s just that the goodie-goodie weaseled her way into getting what she wanted through threats, and now she even agreed to lie to her precious mentor about a secret chaos creature because she felt so guilty,” he casually said, a pleased smile on his face, “I think I actually feel a bit of pride for you.”

“What? I didn’t…Chaos!” she fumbled with her words.

“Don’t yell at me. You did it,” he said gleefully.

“But…I-I…” she struggled. “I didn’t mean to…”

“He,” he laughed, “Let’s watch some chaos. I think you might actually enjoy it.” She felt concern for herself at his words as he grinned, zooming in on the unicorns.

~

As the night continued on, the king discussed the new bargaining chip with his royal unicorns. Once his ponies were well informed and had time to rest a bit, he led them out and down towards the Earth ponies’ land. Most of the unicorns were in agreement, but some, like their creator, did not like the idea of threatening the other tribes. By morning, the unicorns had reached the farm land, and the moon was low in the sky. The king and his queen and princess dismounted their unicorn pulled chariot and moved to the front of the group. Silver Sapphire nodded to his ponies, and all horns pointed to the sky.

A glow of multiple colors illuminated as all the unicorns lit their horns to lower the moon. Despite everyponies’ best effort, the large orb stubbornly held its place, not budging an inch. The tribe tried again, horns growing brighter. Still, the moon didn’t move any lower.

“Is everypony helping?” the king bellowed, looking around at all his ponies. All nodded and looked at each other. “Try again,” he commanded. As before, the horns glowed brightly, but nothing happened. “Creator Harmony assured me that this would work, correct Adjutant Friday?” he said to everypony and then addressed his right-hoof guard.

“Yes, your highness,” the white stallion agreed. “She said we would be strong enough for the task if we all worked together,” he recalled. “Maybe we aren’t working together enough,” he suggested.

“How do we work together more? We are all trying to lower the moon at the same time. What more can we do?” Queen Fluorite asked. The guard shrugged. “Any suggestions?” she asked her royal subjects. All the ponies looked around at each other.

“Anypony?” Princess Platinum asked.

“Um…I have an idea,” a young voice said shyly, purple hoof raised. Everypony stepped aside to reveal the filly with the two-toned green mane. She timidly hid behind her mother’s foreleg. Everypony seemed to always get annoyed by her enthusiasm for knowledge, so she was a bit afraid to speak up.

“Go on, Clover,” Iris said, pushing her daughter out from under her. The purple filly looked back at her parents.

“Everypony wants to hear what you have to say,” Fescue encouraged his clever daughter.

Smiling, Clover spoke up, “I think we should hold hooves.” Everypony gave her a strange look. “That way we will all be connected, physically. Then our magic can come together and work as one unit,” she explained, putting her hooves together to demonstrate.

“It’s worth a try, I suppose,” the princess said less than enthusiastically. She took her mother’s hoof and reached out for her father’s. “Come on, daddy,” she said.

“We have nothing to lose,” the queen said. She took the purple hoof of the red and orange maned mare next to her.

One by one, all unicorns joined hooves. The king watched all his ponies come together until he was the last one. He hummed and took his princess’s hoof and then looked at the dark purple hoof of the green maned stallion. Fescue gave him a friendly smile. Quirking a little grin of his own, Silver took the hoof and then looked to the sky. Without a word of instruction, everypony lit their horns in unison. All their different colored auras morphed together into a bright yellow light that illuminated the field around them. Finally, the bright orb began to descend through the sky. After a slow, steady drop, the moon was finally lowered and the stars dimmed until the sky was dark and black.

The bright yellow glow of the joined magic disappeared, completely darkening the night. All eyes looked up at the empty sky. Everypony was silent as they took in what they had just accomplished. The unicorns looked at each other and released their hooves.

“We did it!” one pony shouted. Suddenly, the dark night was filled with cheers as everypony joined in the excitement and praise. All the unicorns shook hooves and hugged, congratulating each other.

“Well done, my ponies!” King Silver Sapphire commended with a bellow. “Now,” he said lighting his horn, “Let’s go forth and make our deal.” “We will have nourishment again soon!” he hailed, leading his cheering ponies towards the small town the Earth ponies had built for themselves.

~

“What’s goin’ on with the sky, General?” the Earth pony chief asked, peering up at the second pitch black sky they had experience that night. The two leaders had woken up before sunrise to begin working on the crop fields and weather again. They needed to start growing food as soon as possible, so the Earth ponies had invited the Pegasi to stay in their town for the time being. But, once the moon had gone down, the sun did not return, and, worried, the two leaders had retrieved their ponies to check on them and investigate the second strange occurrence. “Why’s the sun not up yet?” Purple Caramel asked the large Pegasus.

“My soldiers are looking into it, but they are having difficulty seeing in the dark,” Thunder Cloud explained, glancing up at the almost invisible Pegasi flying carefully above them.

“Try this,” Cinnamon Straw offered, holding out a small log with a flaming batch of straw on the top end.

“Thank you. This should do well,” the general said, taking the torch. “Take this to First Sergeants Cirro and Fujita, Lieutenant Rain,” he professionally ordered his wife in front of the other tribe as he gave her the portable fire.

“Yes, General,” she responded, taking the makeshift light and flying it up to the investigation leaders.

“Can you make more?” Thunder asked, looking down at the brown stallion.

“Yep,” Cinnamon responded with a nod. “Cookie, go tell your ma’ we need more torches, but be careful. It’s very dark,” he told his daughter.

“Okay, pa’,” the lighter brown filly said, before carefully hurrying towards the fire-lit buildings.

“General, I can help. I can fly them up to our soldiers,” Hurricane offered, eager to help. A shivering, yellow filly stood directly behind her, trying to hide from the scary dark night.

“Hurry after the Earth filly,” he ordered his daughter, letting her assist them. She nodded and took flight. “But be cautious!” he hollered protectively.

“Yes, sir!” she yelled back, stopping long enough to salute him. He saluted back and gave her a nod before she took off through the dark night. His dark blue eyes wondered down to the light blue maned filly. Pansy froze, staring wide-eyed at the large stallion that was staring down at her. “Come on, Pansy!” Hurricane yelled, as she soared back above her new charge.

“Sorry, sir,” the timid filly squeaked, carefully fluttering her wings. She slowly ascended up to the scowling blue filly, who immediately took off. Pansy hurried after her, trying to keep up with the much faster filly. In the dark, she bumped into a stallion. “Sorry, daddy…um, sir,” she apologized.

“Go on,” the yellow stallion instructed, gently pushing her along. After his daughter was back on track, he made his announcement, “We’ve cleared all the clouds, sir, but we still can’t see anything that could be blocking the sun’s light.”
“Master Sergeant Nimbus, light is coming. The Earth ponies are providing us with flamed logs,” the general informed him from the ground.

“Yeah, thanks. These things are awesome!” Shear said excitedly, waving around the torch he had taken from his parents. The flame illuminated around him, showing off his wide grin.

“You’re welcome,” Cinnamon said, worriedly watching the young Pegasus swinging the flame around.

“Give me that!” Virga said, snatching the torch from her careless brother. Light gone, his frown was unseen. “You’re not supposed to play with fire, numbskull,” she scolded.

“Cut it out, you two!” their father yelled, swooping in above them. He had another torch in his hoof.

“We wouldn’t have given it to you if we had known you were going to fight over it,” Fujita said, equipped with a torch as well.

“Sorry, sir, ma’am,” the twins said.

A pair of cries suddenly sounded through the dark. A frowning orange filly with a screaming brown foal wrapped in her wings on her back and another crying orange one in her foreleg walked up to the group.

“I’m sorry, but the twins won’t stop crying,” Honey apologized. “I tried rocking them and singing a lullaby, but they won’t stop,” sounding a bit irritated.

“Where’s your aunt?” her mother asked, flying down and taking Aureolin from her arm. He stopped crying and stared at the flame in his mom’s other hoof.

“She’s busy watching the other foals,” she said, swaying her body in an attempt to quiet her little sister.

Honey had volunteered to stay and help Cymbidium Spring watch after the foals and younger colts and fillies while all the other Pegasi were occupied with solving the missing sun problem. She was hoping Pansy could stay with her and her mom, but, since Hurricane wanted to help the adults, her frightened cousin had to as well. Now that the general’s daughter was tasked with the duty of toughening up the timid filly, Pansy had to practically be at Hurricane’s side twenty-four seven.

“We’re busy too, Honey,” Cirro said, handing her his torch in exchange for his youngest daughter.

“I’m sorry,” Honey apologized, observing the flaming stick. “What’s this?” she asked curiously.

“A cool fire log made by the Earth ponies,” Shear said, swooping down and taking the torch from his mom. Aureolin immediately wailed, his light taken away.

“It’s called a torch!” Virga yelled over her baby brother. Hearing her brother’s scream, Ecru began crying again. “Look what you did!” the oldest sister accused her twin.

“It’s not a toy!” Shear mocked. “I took it before our little brother burst into flames!” he argued.

“Stop yelling!” Honey yelled, “You’re scaring them!”

“You’re the one who’s yelling!” Shear accused.

“You started it!” the filly argued, flying up in front of him.

“Don’t yell at him! That’s my job!” Virga screamed, pushing her little sister.

“Knock it off!” Cirro commanded, rocking his screaming daughter.

“They/She started it!” the three of them yelled, pointing their hooves at each other.

“Stop it!” Fujita ordered, covering her wailing son’s ears.

“I think your soldiers could use some discipline,” Chief Purple Caramel used the general’s own words against him, watching the usually orderly Pegasi arguing like ruffians, as the unicorns had called them. General Thunder Cloud narrowed his eyes at the smaller stallion before standing tall and raising his head.

“Enough!” a loud command quieted the fighting ponies. The shout didn’t come from the large, now confused, Pegasus general however. Everypony turned towards the commanding sound and took in the group with the glowing horns. “Just as I suspected,” the king said, leading his ponies, “Without our sun, everypony resorts to fighting in the confusion and darkness.”

Your sun?” Thunder asked, raising an eye ridge.

“That is correct, winged leader,” the king said, stopping in front of the staring ponies.

“The sun don’t belong to you,” the chief argued, stepping up in front of the unicorn leader.

“That is where you are wrong, Earth-bound leader,” the silver stallion said. “All the lights of the sky, the sun, moon, and stars, now belong to us,” he exclaimed, holding his head high to address all the groups that were gathering around them on the ground and in the sky.

“Just because you put a crown on your head, don’t make you king of the sky,” Purple Caramel said, glaring at the stuck-up stallion.

“My cutie mark is what has made me king,” he argued, turning to show off his regal mark. “But that is no matter now. We made you an offer, Earth stallion, but you refused,” he addressed the chief with a frown. “So, you have forced my hoof!” he exclaimed, stomping a powerful hoof into the dirt. “Give my unicorns and I a third of your food-” he looked at the chief “-and protection from the dark creatures-” he glared at the general “-or we will not return the sun!” he threatened. The two groups of ponies gasped and glared at the self-proclaimed king.

“You are not our king, we will not obey you!” Thunder Cloud bellowed.

“Yeah!” Purple Caramel agreed, standing tall beside the black stallion.

“Then I wish you luck growing your food in the dark,” he said sinisterly before turning to lead his ponies away.
The general and chief exchanged looks as they heard their ponies whisper worriedly amongst themselves. The chief knew he couldn’t grow anything without the sun’s light and warmth. The general could control the weather all he wanted and provide as much rain as he could squeeze from the clouds, but he knew he and his soldiers could do nothing to mimic the sun’s part in growing the food. Both leaders knew they needed the sun, and without the unicorns they had no hope of getting it back.

“Wait!” Purple Caramel yelled and halted the unicorn king. A grin crept up the king’s cheek before he turned around and stared neutrally at the Earth stallion.

“We agree with your deal,” Thunder Cloud said begrudgedly. “My soldiers and I will provide protection,” he reluctantly said, lowering his head a fraction. Loyally, his ponies all landed and stood behind him and nodded in agreement.

“And we’ll give ya’ some of our food,” the chief said, glare painting his face. His ponies all came behind and nodded as well.

“Very well then,” the king said professionally. He turned back to his mostly happy ponies and smiled, “I knew you would see it my way.”

Clover and her parents, as well as some of the other unicorns, didn’t share in their king’s glee. The idea of threatening the others felt wrong, but Silver Sapphire was their leader, and they needed food. What else could they do? Conversely, the queen and princess seemed pleased with their leader’s success in making the deal. Both had their noses in the air and wore satisfied smiles. Like her mother, Platinum felt, as royal unicorns gifted with magic and the sky’s light orbs, they deserved respect from the grubby and ruffian ponies.

Joining hooves again, the unicorns lit their horns and formed one large mass of yellow light. A bit impressed, but still unhappy, the two tribes watched as their new royal partners worked together and gradually and steadily brought the sun over the horizon. The bright orb slowly rose and illuminated the long since darkened sky. Once the sun was in position, the horns dimmed, the hooves released, the unnecessary torches were stomped out, and everypony was relieved to see the orb of light again, despite their new deal with the stuck-up tribe. Unlike their creator, the king and his unicorns felt more energized after raising the sun, their unified harmony filling them with joy and pride. The warm feeling almost covered any guilt or sorrow some of the unicorns felt for going along with the threat.

“Thank you,” the general said professionally, “How may my soldiers help you?”

“We will discuss that later. For now, we need all of your ponies to help the grounded ponies grow our food,” the king ordered, immediately falling into his new position.

“Yes, king,” Thunder said, staying professional, despite the anger inside him at his own words.

Hurricane huffed out her own anger but stood at attention beside her mother and behind her father. They were powerful, strong Pegasi; they shouldn’t be forced to obey the freakshow, snobby unicorn. But, like the others, she would follow her father anywhere and do whatever he asked of her. Next to her, Navy Rain shared the same serious stare as her fellow soldiers, Cirro, Fujita, Shear, Virga, and Nimbus included. Holding her fussy little siblings again, Honey frowned, but not at her baby twins this time. She was happy that everypony was working together, but she was worried about how stable a deal made of threats would be. She just wished all three tribes would work together because everypony genuinely wanted to come together as one in peace, despite their differences.

“Chief,” Silver said, gesturing for the pinkish-purple stallion to begin growing the food.

“Come on everypony, we have a lot of work to do,” Purple Caramel said to his ponies, unable to stop the scowl.

Cinnamon Straw, Citrus, and Cookie followed their leader and their fellow ponies as he led all three tribes to the crop fields. Cookie didn’t mind sharing their food with any pony that helped them grow it, but she hated how the unicorn king was treating her kind like his personal farm servants. Her parents weren’t too keen on the new arrangement either, but they knew this was the only way.

And with that, the three-way deal between the tribes was finally made. The Earth ponies would grow food for all three tribes, the Pegasi would provide protection to the unicorns and weather control for the Earth ponies’ crops, and the unicorns would raise and lower the sun and moon for all.

~

Despite neither of the three pony groups being completely happy about the new agreement, Harmony was thrilled with their progress. They had successfully made a deal, and all three tribes would be working together. Destiny was right; this was definitely a step in the right direction. Her ponies would eventually find their true harmony; she could feel it.

Excitement overtaking her, she latched onto her unsuspecting counterpart and twirled them around in a tight hug. Before Chaos could push away, Harmony let go and breathed an exhausted breath. She looked up and realized her successful communication with her ponies had cost her almost two colors. She didn’t care. She had succeeded; all her ponies had found cooperation.

“You know,” Chaos said thoughtfully, wiping the invisible harmony germs from his body, “I don’t know why your Earth ponies are so against magic; it’s not like they don’t have magic too.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, surprised.

“I gave them magic when I gave the others horns and wings. The Pegasi have magic too. How else would they fly?” he said as if it were obvious, “You really think those puny wings are strong enough to lift a tiny horse?”

Harmony hummed. She hadn’t thought of that. She reasoned that’s why the Earth ponies had such a strong connection with the planet and its plants.

“That’s actually a good thing. It’s a shame they don’t know that. That’s something they share,” she said after some thought. “Sharing, like they are now. I’m so happy!” she cheered.

“What about the king threatening them?” he asked, frowning at her joy.

“Like Destiny said, this is a step in the right direction, a step towards harmony,” she happily explained. He stuck out his tongue in disgust, but she only yawned in response. “I think I should go rest now,” she yawned again, “The Perceiver takes a lot more power out of me than the Viewer. The ponies are good now.” She smiled at the screen, seeing the three tribes all gathered together in the empty crop fields.

As she dematerialized from the room, Chaos waved his stub at her as a goodnight gesture. Then he allowed a grin to creep up his cheeks. He disappeared himself and appeared in his room. Hurrying over to his invisible closet, he stopped in front of the wall noticing a pool of red liquid seeping from underneath. Curiously turning his head, he made the door reappear and pulled it open. A pile of disembodied limbs, squishy organs, and decapitated heads poured out of the small room and covered the surprised spirit.

Chaos popped up out of the heap of his torn, destroyed, lifeless creatures and looked into the closet. There sat Scruff, covered in blood and pieces of creature parts. The odd puppy happily chewed on a detached head of one of the soulless creatures. Spotting his new owner, the young dog dropped the chew toy and barked innocently. Chaos looked shocked as he floated up out of his ruined creations, his cloud-like body scattering and reforming as he ascended through the bodies. The spirit slowly approached the joyous puppy, whose tail was rapidly wagging. He grabbed the destructive dog and stared him right in his red eyes.

“I’m so proud of you!” Chaos cooed, squeezing his new pet with a smile.

As the proud spirit praised his good puppy, a very displeased spherical figure floated down his hallway and stared into the many open doors of his once perfectly balanced rooms that were now overflowing with pure chaos.

Chapter 7: Tiliting the Scale

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“So unfair,” Chaos groaned at the transparent purple ceiling while lying upside-down on his floating triangular bed. “She gets to talk to her creatures, and I get punished,” he continued, rolling over to look down at his hyper pet. Scruff noticed his owner watching him and eagerly yapped up at him, wagging his short tail. “Sentenced to my room for a week…and for what? Adding a few improvements to some of Control’s rooms,” he groaned, lazily lifting his glowing stub. He snapped his digits, making yet another new “chew toy” for his puppy.

As soon as the fluffy, soulless reptile hit the floor, the green beast attacked it, digging his sharp fangs into its tough scales. Scruff shook the lifeless creature, sending blue fur and drops of red liquid onto the ground. Dropping his toy, he raced over to the blood and lapped it up.

“Nothing too harmful,” Chaos continued, still bored despite the gruesome scene playing below him, “Just a few seat cushions turned to pin cushions, needles included, of course; a sideways room with all the same stuff just on the left wall; and a much-needed décor color change. Yellow and black aren’t the only colors, you know.” He sighed. Nothing was as fun or filled him with that pleasant, cold chaotic feeling more than bugging Harmony. Even Scruff got boring after a few days.

The pup looked up at him, face stained red, head tilted, and one ear down. The young dog glowed black as the bored spirit lifted his pet up to his bed. After being placed on the bouncy mattress, Scruff excitedly raced around his owner. His clumsy back leg tripped on the blanket, sending him rolling through his owner, making the latter’s form break up and reform. He landed tail up on the pillow with a poof. Unfazed, he wiggled around onto his feet and finally settled down beside the spirit.

“And I had to undo all my hard work and restore High-and-Mighty’s rooms back to their perfect state,” Chaos spat, receiving a sympathetic whine from his loyal pet. “And Miss. Goodie-Goodie gets to watch her harmony and her precious ponies all day. She threatens me and gets whatever she wants. She is so the favorite!” he went on. Scruff’s expression hardened as he angrily ruffed in agreement before his face returned to its normal happy state. “She gets all the special treatment. Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that moon and those stars every night and day now that her ponies are…”

He stopped. Scruff turned his head at his frozen owner.

“THE PONIES ARE RULING THE WORLD!” he shouted, jumping up and sending the startled puppy backwards off the bed. With his dark green eyes peering around the confines of his prison, the seething spirit slowly floated down to the floor as his pet plummeted into the large pile of discarded, destroyed toys. Scruff popped his head out of the heap, unharmed, but wide-eyed.

Chaos stared at the blank transparent wall where he could open a door that led to a hallway under normal circumstances, but Control had completely sealed that passage. He couldn’t form a door on that wall, or on any wall, that lead anywhere but to another wall, which was anywhere between an inch to a few feet from the doorway. Essentially, he could make a bunch of closets of various sizes. Spitefully, he would sometimes sit in one of his new little closets just so he was technically breaking the rule of his unfair punishment, though he couldn’t actually get anywhere.

His discriminatory mentor had also somehow blocked him from teleporting himself out of the room. Of course, this was the first method he had attempted to use to escape his sentence. He had lasted a few hours, but boredom had gotten the best of him. He had tried to flash out of his room and into Harmony’s room for he had been sure it would be empty, and he wouldn’t get caught. But he hadn’t been able to dematerialize, at first. After attempting for several minutes, he had managed to get his black glow to expand and disappeared but had reappeared only a foot away. Tired but aggravated, he had realized after an hour that he could only teleport around the room and that took a lot of effort.

Now, Chaos was angrier and more motivated than ever. Those ponies, creatures of harmony, were controlling the sun and moon, which affected every living thing on the planet. Therefore, the ponies, thus harmony, was controlling the planet. If that wasn’t an imbalance and a chaos problem, he didn’t know what was. But still, Control, Harmony, and even Destiny all knew and supported the responsibility transfer. They all knew the ponies had control over the sun and moon, and they all wanted it. It was Destiny’s idea, and Control allowed it. Yet, not one of them showed any concern for the chaos or even for the balance towards chaos. They just wanted to keep the harmony and save the stupid unicorn ponies.

They didn’t care. Chaos knew it. He’d always known they were biased. No, not biased; they hated chaos. All of them. Harmony, of course. That was obvious. She was harmony; she was supposed to hate chaos, just as he despised harmony. Control played his part well, acting as if chaos and harmony were the same to him, as if he were personally indifferent of both. He always spoke of how both forces were important and of how they were both needed for a balance. But a balance of the forces and a stability of the planet weren’t the same as an equality. Harmony was always way up there, and chaos was always way down there. That’s how Control wanted the balance; that wasn’t fair. Destiny alternatively, that was bit of a surprise. He knew she was a tricky one, but he thought she was on everyone’s side, even his. But she had slipped that idea right under him, making him feel as though he was gaining something from it. No, he was only losing, losing everything. Chaos wouldn’t stand for this. He had to get out.

Fueled by his fury and motivated by his newly hatching idea, Chaos focused all his energy and expanded his black glow. The darkness expanded until he was completely consumed, making him nothing but a glowing, pulsing black ball. Shortly, the ball exploded, leaving only a black mark on the ground. The pup crawled out of the pile and curiously sniffed the dark spot. Then he sat down with a sad huff. Chaos was gone.

~

Three whole days! Three whole days of harmony watching with the Viewer all to herself. No chaos! No one to bother her or whine or complain. No Chaos! Harmony happily sighed at the large screen as she watched her favorite creatures working together in the crop fields and in the sky above. The unicorns had already risen the sun as promised and were watching over the other two tribes as they worked.

A massive black flash suddenly appeared beside her leaving a fuming Chaos in its wake.

“Chaos!” Harmony said unhappily surprised, “What are you doing out of your room? It’s only been three days. How did you get out?”

“Meeting. Now!” he stated, mad-faced as he snatched her stub. Before she could pull away, he dematerialized them from the room.

~

The pair appeared back in Control’s empty hallway. Stub released, Harmony watched in awe as her counterpart’s figure morphed outwards and formed serval duplicates of Chaos. The clones each took a door and knocked. Then they all were sucked back into the original as a door towards the far end of the hall opened. Control peeked out of the opened door and peered down at the duo that were once again in his hallway.

“Disharmony, your punishment has not ended. You still have…” Control began in his usual neutral tone, internally surprised that Chaos had managed to break out of his room.

“Meeting! Now!” Chaos announced, one-digited-stub raised high above his head.

“You must finish serving your time,” he stated as if he hadn’t even heard Chaos.

“There is a chaos imbalance emergency on the planet that worsens with ever sun and moonrise!” the spirit exclaimed, ignoring his mentor’s words, but floating down the hall towards him.

“What happened?!” Harmony worriedly asked, quickly joining the pair. Had she missed something? Without Chaos, she had been watching the harmony on the planet almost nonstop. Maybe she should have least checked on the chaos creatures on his behalf.

“Ha!” her counterpart scoffed a laugh, turning to face her. “Like you don’t know. This is all your and your precious ponies’ fault!” he accused, pointing his stub at her.

“I-I didn’t do anything,” she said, half-worried he was somehow right.

“Threats are one thing, but lying? That’s just wrong,” he said, crossing his stubs.

“Odd coming from you,” she argued, “I’m not lying about anything.”

“So, you don’t know that your ponies are Ruling The World?!” he angrily questioned, throwing up his stubs.

“Not this again,” she sighed in exasperation, rolling her eyes to the ceiling, “They are not ruling the world.”

“Oh so, I was wrong when I thought the sun and moon shined on all the creatures? I guess they only provide light to your ponies’ little piece of the planet?” he questioned with venom in his voice, stubs going back into his body.

Harmony’s face dropped as she realized Chaos was right. She had never thought of that. She never meant to throw off the balance. She only wanted to save her unicorns…maybe get a little praise from her mentor…possibly get a little bit more harmony from her creatures, but not enough to unbalance the stability! As much as she loved harmony, she knew there had to be a balance between harmony and chaos. That’s the most important thing her mentor had taught her.

“Disharmony, do you believe there is a true imbalance on the planet?” Control asked, finally giving Chaos his full attention and floating completely into the hall. The door shut behind him.

“Yes. The harmony is dangerously overshadowing chaos as we speak,” he said urgently. There was the slightest brief pause.

“It is time for the Second World Meeting,” the larger figure announced. As his green light engulfed the two spirits, Harmony felt guilt-ridden while Chaos felt justified, finally getting the equal treatment he deserved.

~

The trio appeared in the pristine, solid room once again. Each figure was seated in his or her special seat as the fourth member materialized with a blue flash above her own cushion. Before Chaos could utter a word, Control spoke.

“Before this meeting begins, I require a sidebar with Destiny,” Control stated, glancing at the figure next to him.

A white wall grew up in the center of the table and not only blocked Chaos’s and Harmony’s view of the secret meeting, but also prevented them from hearing the discussion. The bell-shaped spirit attempted to float up to peek over the barrier, but he was stuck hovering just above his seat. With a huff, he slouched down, resting his head in his palm with his elbow on the hard tabletop. He allowed his thoughts to brew further as he was forced to wait for his turn again. Harmony slouched as well, but in grief as guilty thoughts of her own selfish mistake filled her head. The yellow light around the spirit dimmed to a bluer shade.

~

“So, you suggest we do nothing to stop this?” Control questioned with a tiny bit of irritation slipping into his voice.

“As I said, this will happen in one way or another sooner or later no matter what we do,” Destiny patiently explained for the second time during the sidebar. “It is best to let the events unfold in front of us now than to prevent it and wait for it to happen later when we are less prepared and less aware. At least now we can watch closely and step in and control the situation before it goes too far,” she further explained.

He paused for a moment before concluding, “We observe, wait, and put forth control when the time is right.”

“Yes,” she agreed, relieved he was with her on this.

“Very well,” he stated, lowering the wall. Seeing the barrier sinking back down, the two spirits floated up straight and turned their attention to their two superiors. “Disharmony, what is your suggestion to rebalance the chaos of the planet?” Control questioned.

A quick grin twitched on Chaos’s face before he answered in a serious tone, “I suggest that I be allowed to make one more creature for the planet.”

Harmony blinked in surprised; then frowned in confusion. Just one creature? She looked to Control and Destiny; both were calm and quiet. They didn’t appear to share in her suspicion. Chaos did everything big. Why would he only ask to make one creature? Besides that, how was one creature going to rebalance the chaos with her harmony creatures controlling something that affected the entire planet? It didn’t make any sense. He had to be up to something. Surely her superiors saw that.

“Do you believe this will rebalance the planet?” Control asked, no hint of distrust in his tone.

Wait, was Control just going to let Chaos do this without argument or even an explanation of how his plan could possibly work? Harmony didn’t understand. She had to really work hard to get him to allow her to fix her harmony problem or even get him to see there was one. Why was he being so easy on Chaos? Obviously, his plan was flawed and therefore very suspicious. She wanted to speak up, but felt it wasn’t her place, especially since she was to blame for the imbalance problem. She bit her lip and held her tongue, trying to hold on to her belief that Destiny and Control knew what was best.

“Yes, my plan will bring the balance back to where it should be,” the chaos spirit said, an almost hidden gleam in his dark eyes, “The chaos will be restored to its proper state.”

“His plan is flawed, suspicious, and doesn’t make any sense,” Harmony blurted out, unable to stop herself. She immediately closed her mouth tight, but it was too late.

“It’ll work far better than yours did,” Chaos jabbed, taking her confidence down a notch.

“I-I fail to see how one creature will rebalance the planet,” she argued still, “And Chaos always does everything big. Doesn’t it seem even a bit suspicious that he only wants to make one creature?” The larger figures only held their stares. “Shouldn’t he at least explain how his plan will work?” she asked, glow dimming with her confidence, “Like I did.” Her eyes drifted down to the table.

“She just doesn’t want to share the spotlight,” he accused, voice deepening slightly as he continued, “She can’t stand that it’s my turn, my special task.”

“I’m not jealous,” she said forcefully to her counterpart, glow the slightest bit red.

“Favorite,” he spat at her, tone sounding more dark than teasing. His eyes darkened more along with his slightly expanded glow.

“I’m not the favorite,” she stressed, floating a bit higher above her seat.

“Then but out and let me have my turn!” he growled, showing his sharp teeth, eyes growing misty.

“Enough,” Control broke in, gaining both their attention. “Disharmony will go to the planet and create one more creature,” he stated.

Both spirits returned to normal, him wearing a grin and her looking down again. Finally, Chaos was getting his turn. Harmony felt guilty again for losing control of her emotions and a bit hurt for neither of them even considering her side.

“Harmony, everything will be okay. Trust us,” Destiny assured, expression mostly neutral with a bit of compassion.

“Of course, it will with my plan,” Chaos spoke, glancing back at Harmony.

Control gave him a slight warning look before saying, “Harmony will go with you to assure that the balance of chaos and harmony is restored.”

“What?! No?!” he shrieked, “This is my special task! MY TURN!” His black glow expanded again, his dark eyes emitting a mist.

“Harmony is going,” he said with finality.

“NO!” he argued, floating up onto the table to glare down at his unfair mentor. Harmony nervously sank down into her cushion. Control and Destiny remained calm as Chaos continued to attempt to stare him down. After a long, tense pause, Control spoke.

“Then a new plan will be conducted,” the mentor stated, looking at the dark, misty eyes with no emotion at the ragging spirit.

The livid spirit stared him down for another tense moment before floating back to his seat and dropping his angry expressions, knowing he had no real power in this room. “Fine,” he said, crossing his stubs and looking away. He hated that Harmony was accompanying him, but at least he was finally getting his way for once.

“Meeting adjourned. It is time for you both the travel back down to the planet,” Control announced, “Disharmony, you will make one more chaos creature and only one more. Harmony, you will assure that the balance is stable once the creature is made.”

“Yes, sir,” Harmony said quietly, but dutifully, floating back up properly.

“Fine,” Chaos said shortly. A green glow encompassed the two spirits and flashed them out of the room.

~

The pair materialized back on the planet for the first time since their first trip there. This time it was full of life. Just watching the planet was nothing compared to actually being there. The grass was so green and the sky so bright and blue and spotted with soaring birds. The sounds of the inhabitants were so lively, the aroma of the plant life so strong and lovely. Harmony’s senses absorbed everything for a moment, while she floated round within the tall grass of the field, dazzling green eyes bouncing from one wonder to the next. She could feel the existence of her creatures warmly beating around her. A couple of playful squirrels scurried across the ground and raced through the invisible spirits; their cloud-like bodies completely undisturbed. Harmony smiled as she watched them run out of sight. The planet had truly been brought to life by their creations and Control’s souls. It was so amazing being back!

“Okay. Now to find the perfect place for my creation,” Chaos abruptly said more to himself, too focused to appreciate the feeling of being back on the planet in which they themselves had animated.

“What are you up to?” she asked, following him through the field. She trusted her superiors, but she couldn’t ignore her suspicious feeling.

“Just fixing your mess,” he said, leading them towards the trees far off in the distance. She frowned, opting to just wait and watch. She had orders, but she wasn’t going to let her guard down.

As Harmony followed Chaos through the tall pasture, she felt an uneasiness building inside her. The initial pleasant feeling was fading fast. The further they traveled, the stronger the unpleasant feeling grew, making her cold and very uncomfortable. Her counterpart could feel it too, but he was enjoying it. The cold, pleasing feeling was directing him to where he wanted to go. That same energy was making Harmony feel uneasy and drained.

“Chaos, I don’t feel so well,” Harmony weakly said.

“Good,” Chaos replied distractedly.

“Where are you taking us?” she questioned, yearningly glancing back at the bight field behind them.

“Just the best place on this planet,” he responded, dark grin creeping up his right cheek. “My chaos forest!” he proudly announced, spreading his stubs wide to present the dark forest in front of them. She frowned, shivering from the cold. “The perfect place for my newest creation,” he said, entering between the eerie trees.

“Your last creation,” she said as she reluctantly followed behind him, feeling her now grayish glow decrease. “I feel terrible,” she moaned as they traveled deeper into the forest.

Chaos’s grinned widened, happy to be enjoying her misery again. It felt so good to be free of his confined room and even better to be back in his forest, especially now that all his creatures had souls. There was so much chaotic life in the forest; and it was wonderful. He glanced back at the droopy spirit whose unusually dim eyes nervously darted around. The mischievous spirit’s sharp teeth showed as an idea formed in his naughty head. He quickly looked around until he found a small two-legged snake crawling up a hanging vine from a low nearby tree branch. He swiftly snatched up the reptile, spun around, and shoved his stubs in front of Harmony’s face.

“Boo!” he yelled. She gasped and jumped slightly. Then she turned her head and raised an eye ridge at the empty stubs in her face. His smile dropped at her meager reaction. Then he followed her gaze. “Where’d it go?” he asked surprised.

He turned back around and saw the serpent still ascending the vine a little higher than where it was moments ago. With a frown he attempted to nab the snake in his stubs again, but the creature and vine just went right through his appendages as if they weren’t even there. He tried a few more times before lighting up his stubs and trying to lift the snake with his aroura instead. His entire glow expanded and darkened, but the reptile continued it ascend undisturbed, no black glow formed around it.

“All our creatures have their souls now. We can’t affect them, remember?” Harmony reminded him, demonstrating by floating through a large rock, “It’s like we aren’t even here, as if we don’t exist.” Chaos put away his stubs and made a face up at the serpent before blowing a hard breath at it. The snake nor the vine moved.

“Hay!” he shouted at his creature. It didn’t seem to hear him. He floated up and stuck his stub through the reptile and held it there. He shivered pleasurably as he felt the reptile’s chaos energy course through him. The small snake continued up at the same slow pace until it reached the branch. Chaos drifted back down and intriguingly asked, “What about creatures off the planet? Could we affect creatures not on the planet that have souls?”

With a deep frown, she replied, “That can’t happen. Creatures, especially with souls, aren’t allowed off the planet.” She made a face as he continued to study the creature. “Is this about that puppy you made?” she asked, gaining his attention. His eyes widened slightly. “There’s no way Control is going to give it a soul,” she continued, floating out of the rock to move closer to him. Chaos relaxed; she didn’t know. “And you still are going to have to tell him you have it,” she added seriously.

“You promised,” he said darkly with a hint of desperation, quickly spinning around to glare at her.

“I won’t tell,” she sincerely assured him. He dropped his glare. “But you have to some time,” she added.

“Whatever. Let’s keep going,” he said grouchily, continuing their journey.

She frowned but followed. He didn’t bother flying around anything this time. He just floated straight ahead going through all the trees, bushes, and creatures in his path. Harmony did the same, too exhausted to make any turns around the obstacles. Soon, she felt the cold feeling growing again.

“Seriously, Chaos, I don’t feel well,” Harmony said, glow almost completely gray and gone. Her counterpart stopped and shushed her without turning around. “Chaos,” she whined, drifting in front of him.

“Move,” he commanded, easily shoving her out of the way.

She regained her balance and turned around to see what he was watching. Two large black panthers with a pair of horns on their heads and several spikes running from the back of their heads all the way down to the tips of their tails were pacing in a circle. Both felines were emitting a deep, low growl as they followed each other in the large circle, dark eyes never leaving the creature in front of them. They continued to size each other up as Harmony wondered what the importance of these two particular panthers was. Chaos watched in rapture, finally finding the source of the intense energy he had been following. He almost purred as the energy fueled him, his black glow darkening and expanding. His counterpart trembled from the cold energy; her warm glow was gone.

Suddenly, an ear-piercing screech rang through the trees as the larger, red horned panther leapt onto his fellow feline. The oval spirit gasped, feeling a bit dizzy. She could feel Chaos’s glow expanding more next to her.

“It’s the disharmony…f-from the fighting,” Harmony realized, speaking weakly, “They’re both…the same species…and t-they’re fighting…”

“…to the death,” Chaos sinisterly added, making her eye ridges slant sadly. “And…” he said, evilly smiling at her, “…they’re bothers.”

She gasped. She looked back at the bloody battle only to instantly cover her teary eyes and turn away. Knowing that there was nothing she could do to stop them, her mind just raced as it tried to think of a good reason for a family to fight each other so brutally. The struggle continued as the two creatures clawed and bit each other, roughly rolled around, sent fur and blood everywhere, knocked into trees, inadvertently tore up the flora in their way, and generally caused chaos with their careless civil war.

“And why are they killing each other?” Chaos asked, only gaining her earhole’s attention. She refused to uncover her eyes. “Hunger?” he gleefully asked. He floated over to the downed purple horned panther and “patted” its full, roundish stomach. “No. Plenty of little critters filling that tummy,” he said, as it leapt back up through him and tackled its brother. “How about a mate? See any females around here?” he asked, slowly spinning around at the vacant forest.

He noticed that his trembling counterpart’s eyes were covered. He flew over to her, forced her stubs away from her wet face, and spun the two of them around, giving her a glance at the terrible battle.

“Nope. No girls,” he said, releasing her.

Silently crying, she rushed through a tree to shield herself from the battle and the unrestrained, out of control spirit. She earnestly wished she could leave, but she had a duty to stay with Chaos, no matter how unrestrainable he was.

“Can’t blame the hormones,” he said, misty dark eyes looking at the tree where the frightened spirit was hiding. “So, they’re not famished, not raging with hormones. Since they’re brothers, they can’t be defending their family. Don’t see any cubs around here anyway,” he hummed calmly, feigning deep thought as he slowly drifted over to the tree. “Any guesses!?” he practically shouted as he threw his head through the tree.

“NO!” Harmony shrieked, spinning around and jumping back away from him. She uncovered her eyes so she could see what he was doing. Thankfully, the large tree trunk was blocking the horrendous battle.

“Come on, guess,” he ordered playfully, voice still dark and disturbing grin full of sharp teeth.

“N-No,” she stuttered backing away, “W-Why are you d-ding this? I-I don’t want to be here? I-I-” she squeezed her eyes shut for a moment “-I feel awful. So cold and exhausted and sad and drained…and scared.” She looked down to see half her colors were gone and the three remaining were almost as gray as Chaos’s normal colors. Right now, those colors on the bell-shaped spirit were so dark gray the colors could no longer be distinguished. “You’re supposed to be making a creature,” she said as harshly as she could.

“I’m getting to that,” he said calmly. “Now, GUESS!” he shouted, black glow darkening his entire body, leaving only his misty eyes. Harmony fell back, chest heaving with each labored breath as her white color visibly drained.

“I-I-I don’t know,” she cried, tearing streaming down her pale face.

He tisked his tongue three times, then said, “Poor little goodie-goodie can’t figure it out.”

He flew at her, snatched her stubs, and floated them back through the tree and over top of the ending battle. Both panthers were covered in blood, gashes, dirt, and debris. The purple-spiked feline could barely stand on its weak legs; his brother wasn’t fairing much better.

“These two creatures, both made by me, both the same type of animal, both in the same family, brothers…” Chaos spoke daggling his tormented counterpart below him just above the fight, “…are fighting, about to kill each other, end their own brother’s life, for what?” He paused as the red-horned panther jumped on his brother sending him to the ground with a hard, head-bashing thud. “Not for a desperate need for nourishment or for a female partner or even to protect their own cub,” he said voice deep and frightening. Harmony tremble with fear, anxiety, and cold as she lost her blue color. “Oh no. Not for anything as important as that!” he said, sharp white teeth showing on his dark glowing body. The larger panther growled down at his pinned sibling, who squalled in pain for mercy. “All this hate, enmity, betrayal, greed, cruelty, deception, resentment, angry, destruction…” he rushed out. “All this chaos and disharmony is for one simple thing,” he said, pulling her up to his face. “Territory!” he spoke, creeping smile and dark greens eyes directly in her face. He dropped her back down below him, still holding her hostage in his stubs. “Territory. Just a piece of land, easily replaceable, easily shared,” he went on as the small creature wailed, “But no. He would rather kill his own brother than to give up or even share his territory.”

The evil spirit dropped them lower, putting Harmony’s face right beside the dying feline’s. The larger beast raised its paw, claws retracted, and swiped down at his brother’s neck. Harmony shut her eyes at the sight, but she couldn’t block out the terrible sound of the dying shriek or the wet, cutting gurgling of the final strike against the panther’s neck.

He finally released her, letting her fall the short distance to the ground. Eyes covered, she could only feel the strong cold energy against her side. She dared to take a peek and saw to her dismay that she was sitting in the body of the dead panther. She flew back out of it, seeing the full horror of its dead, mangled body. Looking down away from the terrible sight, she noticed she had lost all but a sliver of her last, grayed-out color.

“And the best part,” the dark glowing, misty eyed spirit cheered from above, “The very thing this creature killed his own flesh and blood for was destroyed in the fight by his very own bloodstained paws!”

Harmony looked around her at the damaged, destroyed area of the forest. Her dim, wide eyes caught sight of the red horned panther falling to the ground in exhaustion. Then she noticed a white light in her peripheral vision. She stared towards it and saw a grayish-white ball of light ascending out of the dead panther. She realized it was his soul. It slowly drifted up and hovered over the body. Both spirits watched it curiously. Then it suddenly shot upwards to the sky and out of sight. Harmony sniffed in mourning for the creature whose death seemed unfair and unwarranted.

Chaos looked away from where the soul had vanished to look at the sad, almost fully drained spirit on the ground. He paused for a moment, before his wide, toothy smile returned. He peered down at his black glowing form.

“I feel great,” the dark spirit said with an eerie calm, deep, dark voice. The weak spirit gazed up at him, sad eyes hardening as much as she could manage.

“You should feel terrible…making me witness that…almost depleting my energy,” she said as angrily as she could.

“You…” he said, floating down to her eyelevel. Fear flashed in her eyes, but she didn’t back away. “…should take cover,” he warned, straight-faced and staring into her eyes, “It’s time to make my next and greatest creation.” A grin rose up his cheek as he floated up into the air.

“I knew you were up to something,” she said, “You’ve gained all this extra power, and you’ve weakened me. Now you’re going to make something far more powerful than required to rebalance the planet, aren’t you? You’re going to throw the planet into chaos!” His grinning cheek and misting eye twitched in an almost painful looking expression.

“Not kidding, Goodie-Goodie,” he said, sounding a bit more serious, “Better get outta here.” Harmony gave him a concerned look. “Not that it matters to me if you’re destroyed in the wake of the creation of my newest creature,” he said, eerie tone and smile consuming both cheeks.

He closed his dark eyes and allowed his pulsing, black glow to completely encompass him. With a gasp, Harmony rushed back through the tree and hunkered down against the tree trunk into a ball on the ground. The black glow expanded until Chaos was nothing but a dark large glowing ball in the air. His dark, misting eyes flashed opened as his black glow and gray rainbow energy exploded outward. Harmony felt the cold force of energy rush above her. The gray rainbow with the black smoky border continued exploding and rapidly flowing outwards until the entire planet was consumed.

~

As the chaos energy encompassed the globe, Control visibly felt the effect. While the balance of the planet tilted towards chaos and disharmony, the round spirit’s black coloring grew. His black half began to overtake his yellow half, corrupting his perfectly balanced hues.

“It is time to put forth control,” Control spoke weakly with a cold shiver.

“You are correct. Now is the time,” Destiny agreed.

She flew up high above the planet and glowed a blinding bright blue. Her eyes flash opened; their light green color was almost white. A matching blue energy covered the chaos that surrounded the globe and forced it back into the forest. As the black boarded, upside-down, gray rainbow energy imploded, Control’s black color receded back. He was left with a slight unbalance, a hint more black than yellow. Destiny, glow and eyes returned to normal, descended back to the weakened spirit.

“Are you alright, Control?” she asked concerned.

“Fine,” he quietly replied, with a slight shiver.

“You’re weak,” she persisted.

“I am fine. The focus is on the planet,” he insisted.

~

The chaos energy collapsed all the way back to a small, thick grouping of trees a few feet from the floating spirit. Just as the energy disappeared, Chaos plummeted down, black smoke fizzling behind him. From behind the bushes where the spirit had landed came a small gray ball of light that gently floated up and over to the group of trees. The light descended between the trunks, flashed brighter, and vanished.

With extreme caution and terror, Harmony peeked out from behind her tree, still weak and chest still heaving. She relaxed the slightest bit seeing nothing had changed, except Chaos was no longer floating threateningly in the air. The forest was as it had been before her counterpart had unleashed all his power. In fact, she didn’t see him or the creation he was supposed to have made. She carefully floated through the tree and scanned the area. A small trail of black smoke was rising out of some bushes. After floating over to the smoking shrubs, she warily peered behind them

“Chaos…?” Harmony said with caution, fear, and concern. The almost white spirit laid motionless on the ground, eyes closed and his black glow completely absent. “Chaos,” she repeated with more force, heart racing with fear. Taking a deep breath, she floated through the bushes and carefully picked up his heavy body. She took him back out into the clearing where the battle was fought. As she gently placed him down, she barely noticed the larger panther taking his leave. “Chaos!” she said, shaking him. His head flopped loosely, but he didn’t stir. “Chaos!” she tried again. “Chaos, wake up!” she desperately shouted, shaking him as hard as she could.

“Nnmm…” she heard a quiet moan.

“Chaos?” she asked, shaking him a little easier.

“Mmm…wh-wh…,” Chaos mumbled.

“Chaos! You’re okay!” she cheered, pulling him into a tight hug.

“Mmm…off!” he faintly moaned, weakly trying to push her away. She held the embrace a little longer, then gently laid him back down. “Where…where is he?” he asked, forcing himself up on his elbows.

“Who?” she asked.

“My creature,” he replied, getting up. He stumbled a bit, holding his spinning head. Getting his bearings, he continued with exhilaration, “The Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony…of the planet.”

“The what?!” she exclaimed.

“Not a spirit like us, not a creator, but a creature with almost equal power to my own, a creature coursing with almost as much chaos as myself,” he explained with a dark grin, searching around for the powerful creature.

Harmony just followed, shocked, horrified, and overwhelmed by his words. A creature like that could destroy the stability of the planet with ease.

“Basically, me, with the exception of residing on the planet, the place where I cannot readily go, the place where I can no longer create any chaos because of High-and-Mighty,” he gleefully went on, moving over to a thick grouping of trees, “He shall spread chaos all over the…what the heck is that?!” Harmony raised an eye ridge and looked down where the outraged spirit was glaring. “That can’t be it! He’s supposed to be a tall, dark, and chaotic beast, not a tiny, rainbow pyramid!” But that’s all that was present between the trees, a small pyramid with a grayish upside rainbow pattern that matched Chaos’s usual coloring.

“I…I think it’s an egg,” Harmony slowly spoke, feeling a bit relieved.

“Why is he an egg?! He’s supposed to be full-grown, powerful, and ready to spread chaos all over the planet!” the furious spirit shouted. He took several deep, shaky breaths, weak from using all his power.

“Take it easy, Chaos,” she advised, taking notice of his lack of color again.

He gave her a dark look, and accused, “You did this, didn’t you? You made him an egg!”

“I couldn’t have even if I tried. You almost completely drained me by making me witness that awful scene,” she said with some returning anger, now sure Chaos wasn’t in any immediate danger of dying.

“Yeah, well. You’re happy now, aren’t you?” he questioned.

“Yes, I’m glad your plan didn’t work. Had you created the creature you had planned, the planet’s balance would have been thrown into chaos. Why would you try to do that? Control gave you a chance to fix the balance, why would you take advantage of that and overstep your boundaries?” she asked, mad at his betrayal.

“Because the planet’s balance should be at total chaos; it doesn’t need any harmony! And I didn’t do anything more than I said I would. I only created one more creature, and that creature was supposed to bring the balance to where it should be, bring chaos to its proper state. The scale should be tipped towards chaos, not the other way around!” he said furiously, stubs flailing around, “How is this pathetic egg going to do that?!”

“It will hatch and grow with time,” a voice sounded from all around, making them look about.

“Destiny?” Harmony asked, recognizing the voice.

“Yes. I’m speaking to you from the Perceiver,” Destiny explained.

“It shall not hatch nor grow without a soul,” Control intervened in their heads, tone showing no sign of his weakened state.

“Ha!” Chaos huffed to the sky. “I don’t need you to give him a soul; I already gave him one,” he said smugly with a grin.

“Hau!” Harmony gasped. “How!? You can’t make a soul! Only Control can do that,” she exclaimed.

“Can and did,” he said, stubs crossed over his chest.

His counterpart observed the egg again and reached out a stub. Instantly, an icy energy chilled her, and she detected the beating life inside it. “He’s right,” she said in worried awe, quickly pulling her stub back.

“Yes,” Destiny agreed, “His creature does in fact already contain a soul, and it lives and breathes inside that shell.”

“It has a soul, so what are you going to do to it, sir?” Harmony asked, looking down at the tiny, odd egg. “Are you going to destroy it?” she questioned, concerned for the planet’s stability and for the living baby behind the shell.

It was a chaos creature created for the purpose of bringing complete chaos to the planet, but she couldn’t stop the thought that right now it was just a defenseless, innocent baby. No matter what it was meant to do, it had yet to do anything bad. She didn’t want to see it destroyed. But she didn’t want any harm to come to the planet, the stability, or her own harmony creatures either.

“I could,” Control responded with no remorse. Both Harmony and Chaos looked up with worry. He didn’t want his best creation destroyed, especially before he had a chance to reign chaos down on the planet. “But the best course of action is to balance it out,” he finished, allowing both spirits to relax a bit.

“Control is correct,” Destiny chimed in, “Since the creature and its soul already exist on the planet, destroying it now would be unwise. It is not currently physically causing any chaos or disharmony and is only emitting a small amount of that energy in the space around its protective egg.” Harmony nodded, remembering the cold energy she felt. “But, that energy certainty has the potential to reach a level far greater than anything on the planet, one that is, as Chaos had said, almost equal to his energy when he is at full power,” she continued, “But, while its energy and power matures with it, the amount of physical chaos and disharmony it causes will depend on its rendering. Just as any other animal, its behavior and character will be influenced by not only the nature Chaos put into it, but also the nurture it receives.”

“So, it still has a chance to be good, to not spread chaos and disharmony all over the world?” Harmony asked with wary hope.

“No way! My little spirit of CHAOS and DISHARMONY is not going to be a goodie-goodie!” Chaos argued, “He will spread more chaos than this world has ever seen!”

“We won’t know for sure until he grows up,” Destiny said calmly.

“That is why something must be done to balance the creature before it hatches,” Control stated.

“But if something balances out him, then the balance will be tilting towards harmony again,” Chaos reasoned with a frown.

“The stability of the planet was never in any danger until you created that creature, Disharmony,” Control revealed, slight frown only seen by Destiny.

“Yes, it was! The ponies are controlling the sun and moon,” he disagreed.

“It is true that a species made of harmony is in control of the sun and moon. However, as long as the unicorns continue to follow the cycle of those orbs, as they have done thus far, the stability will not be affected,” he explained stoically.

“Then why did you allow him to make that creature or even have the meeting in the first place, sir?” Harmony asked, confused.

“To see his actions unfold,” he answered. “The meeting was conducted to give me an opportunity to discuss your concerns with Destiny and to give you the illusion that you were correct in your concerns, Disharmony. For it was clear you were ready to take control over the situation whether you were given permission or not,” he explained, “Destiny advised we let you do as you wished, so we could witness it and take control when the time was right.”

“You knew I was planning something the whole time, and-and you played me? You tricked me?!” Chaos questioned with wrathful disbelief. They still hadn’t given him his turn nor had they seen the importance of chaos. It was all a sham, and they were still biased.

“I knew you would act out eventually and felt this was the proper time to allow you to do so,” Destiny explained evenly, “I informed Control of this, so he would allow you to make your creature, which you did so while we kept careful watch. As I feared that creature would have been far too powerful for the planet. That much power, chaotic or harmonious, cannot be allowed on the planet at once. The stability and the planet itself could be destroyed. That is why I had to take control.”

“You? You did this?!” Chaos questioned with fury. She definitely wasn’t on his side.

“As the embodiment of destiny, I must ensure everything happens at it should and nothing happens as it shouldn’t. That much power cannot and should not be created on the planet at one time,” she continued, “So I contained and minimalized that power the best I could without destroying it by putting the creature in its least powerful form.”

“A baby, an egg.” Harmony said, looking down at the tiny pyramid again.

“Yes,” she replied, “While he has all the power he would have as an adult, even after he hatches, he will not know how to control it or unleash it upon the planet. He won’t be harmless for some of that power, that magic can come out in bursts, especially when he is experiencing a strong emotion-just like the unicorn foals. But he won’t be a threat to the balance until he grows up, his power matures, and he learns to use that chaotic power however he wishes.” “As Control has said, something has to be done to balance his chaotic power before he reaches that point. The sooner something is done, the better,” she concluded.

“Harmony, it is up to you to do as Disharmony has done and put all your energy into creating something as powerful as this egg and full of as much harmony as you possibly can,” Control instructed, “Like this little creature, your creation will be in its infantile form and will grow with the potential to be the most powerful force of harmony on the planet. Your creation must balance this egg, or the stability of the planet will remain in serious jeopardy.”

“Me?!” Harmony said, alarmed, “But I…”

“You can do this, Harmony,” Destiny assured her.

“Heh!” Chaos laughed, “She barely has any color left. No way she can make something as great as this.” He gestured his stubs to the triangular egg and added, “As great as he will be.”

“He’s right,” the oval spirit said, eyes downcast.

“You will do as Disharmony has done and fuel your energy with the energy from your creatures around you,” Control informed.

“I…I don’t know…I…” she said nervously, floating away from the egg and looking up.

“You don’t have a choice,” the round spirit said neutrally, “Either balance this creation with one of your own, or it will have to be destroyed.” Chaos looked down at his little spirit.

“And that could risk causing serious damage to the balance either by removing too much chaos at once or by releasing the chaos upon the planet,” Destiny solemnly said, “And if the chaos energy doesn’t destroy the planet on its own…”

“I will have to,” Control stated, his from tensing in the slightest.

“Then everything will be gone…all my creatures, the ponies…your creatures,” she said, frowning at the glaring spirit standing between her and his egg. “I…” she said, turning away from Chaos to look in the distance where she knew her ponies, her beloved creatures lived. She closed her eyes for a moment, feeling the slightest tingle of warmth coming from her distant creations. “I’ll do it, sir!” she said with purpose, floating tall. Her counterpart relaxed, but his glare didn’t drop.

“That is the wise choice,” Control said, tone not revealing the slight ease his form took.

“First, you need to refuel yourself,” Destiny instructed with a smile, “Go find your creatures and find your harmony.”

“I will, madam. I won’t let either of you down,” Harmony said confidently.

“Disharmony is to go with you, and do not let him leave your sight,” he ordered.

“I won’t,” she said and nodded.

“What?!” Chaos exclaimed to the sky. “No, I don’t want to go,” he whined, his drained state catching up to him, “I don’t have any power. All that harmony will make this worse.”

“You have put the planet’s balance in serious peril; you cannot be trusted to roam it alone,” their mentor stated with a hint of anger, “Your condition will not get worse. It is as dire as possible.”

“Does that mean…I’m…I’m not a spirit…n-not a creator anymore…I’m just another chaos creature?” he asked fearfully, wearing a worried frown.

“Yes,” Control said with no emotion, “You were warned to not fully deplete your energy.”

“But, c-can’t I just recharge? I don’t want to be stuck like this forever!” he begged. After a short silence, he desperately shouted, “Control!”

“If he can’t recharge and he can’t even leave my sight here, then what’s going to happen to him? And won’t the same thing happen to me after I make my creature?” Harmony asked with concern and sympathy.

“Yes, but Disharmony’s treacherous and ill-conceived actions have made it necessary,” his reply sounded in their heads.

“Okay, I’ll still do it,” she said boldly, “I’d do anything for my creatures and their home.”

“What about me?!” Chaos yelled urgently.

“It may be possible to recharge your power and reinstate your position as a creator,” Destiny informed evenly.

“How?” he demanded.

“I will inform both you and Harmony of my thoughts once her mission has been completed,” she told him, “Right now, it is most important to make the harmony creation as soon as possible so that it may grow along with the chaos creation and so they may continue to balance each other over the years with as close to equal power as possible.”

“I won’t let you down!” Harmony assured.

“But remember, first you must take care of yourself,” Destiny said caringly.

“Find your creatures, fuel yourself with as much power as you can handle, and put it all into the creation,” her mentor instructed.

“Be sure to think carefully about what creation you will make,” Destiny advised, “You only have one chance, and it must be all but perfect.”

“I understand,” Harmony said.

“What about my little spirit?” Chaos questioned, a hint of concern and desperation in his pale eyes, “You just said it would be unwise for him to be destroyed, that includes being eaten by my other creatures, right?”

“I will keep watch over it on my Perceiver, but I feel it will be safe for the time being,” Destiny assured him, “Once this situation is resolved, you can find a caregiver to raise your creature. Once Harmony’s creation is made, it will be vital they both stay alive and safe, so the stability stays balanced.”

“Ehg!” he made a displeased and disgusted sound. “Caregiver. But I guess since he’s not full-grown as planned, he will need someone to watch over him until he can take care of himself,” he reasoned, “Fine. But you better tell me the second there is any sign of danger to him.”

“Hum!” the blue and white figure giggled. “He will be fine hidden in the trees.”

“He better be,” he threatened, glaring up.

“Enough time has been wasted,” Control interrupted, “I will keep watch over your progress.”

“Yes, sir,” Harmony said, saluting the sky. “Come on, Chaos,” she ordered, grabbing his stub. He whined but didn’t put up a fight as he was dragged along.

~

After traveling through the dark, cold forest for some time, Harmony finally weakly spoke, “Stop whining. This is all your fault.” The energy of the forest was still making her feel uneasy and terrible. She could barely focus on the tiny feeling of harmony she was following. Chaos’s whining was just distracting her more. She could teleport them out of the awful trees, but she didn’t want to waste her energy or loose the harmony trail.

“At least let go of me,” Chaos complained. He tried to pull free, but even with her little power, she easily overpowered him. After every word, he attempted to pull out of her grip as he said, “Why…are…you…so…strong?!” He leaned his full weight back trying as hard as he could to pull away, but only left himself winded as Harmony kept floating forward.

“I’m not; you’re just very weak,” she simply said, “You should feel lucky that you’re even still here and appreciative that Control didn’t make me just abandon you back there and not allow you back with us.” Giving up on freeing his stub, he was forced to follow along as she lectured, “You betrayed us, betrayed me, Chaos. That was very selfish of you to attempt complete chaos just because that’s what you want. You’ve been taught that a balance is important, and you we very cruel to me when you made me watch that…battle.” She shivered at the memory and then continued, “You practically laughed at my angst. And what you said about only doing what you said you would, that’s only half true. You knew you weren’t trying to put the balance where it actually, really is supposed to be; you still were stretching the truth. You lied.” She glanced back to give him a disappointed, hurt frown.

“Well, they tricked me,” he defended, dodging the frown by looking down, “They knew what I meant. They knew what I was doing. They just let me have my ‘turn’, my ‘special’ task just so they could stop me on their own time. They never really meant it. They didn’t give me a real chance.”

“Only because they foresaw your betrayal,” she argued, looking forward again, “If you really did have a chaos problem, I know Control would have given you a chance to fix it as he did me. But you took that chance you thought you had, you thought they gave you to do exactly what they knew you would, exactly what you shouldn’t have; you tried to break the balance.”

“I didn’t have it all planned out,” he quietly replied, volume rising as he continued, “I did think there was a problem. But I just had so much chaos built up, ready to be released, and I felt so cheated with you getting all the special treatment and that nobody really liked or even cared about chaos. You all allowed the unicorns to take over the sun and moon, and I thought made more harmony. And no one seemed concerned with how that would affect the chaos. I just had to take this perfect opportunity to lash out and take a stand for chaos, make them see my side, show them how great chaos is, show them it should be the top power on the planet!”

“Hua,” she sighed, “I can kind of understand.” He raised his pale eyes to her back, giving her a strange look. “I sometimes feel the same way about harmony, that it should be the only force,” she admitted, “But I know there has to be a balance.” She looked back at him and said, “I wish you could see that.” He looked away, so she turned forward again and kept moving on. Tired of talking and moving, Chaos fell to ground with an exhausted sigh and just let her drag him across the ground.

After a short while, the light gray former spirit meekly asked, “Harmony?”

“Yes?” Harmony replied, irritation dropping in the slightest at his oddly docile tone.

“Do you think Destiny is right? Do you think there’s a way to fix me?” he asked, watching the tree branches pass by as he was dragged through the forest.

“I don’t know, but I hope so,” she responded honestly.

“Why? So, you can be fixed too?” he bitterly asked.

“Yes, that’s true. And I admit those three days that you were sentenced to your room and away from me were probably the best most relaxing days of my life,” she began. Unseen by Harmony, Chaos allowed an almost hurt-filled frown to form as he glared at the branches. “But…I don’t know, I…it was odd, being alone, you not being there,” she went on, “I don’t know if I would like that all the time, forever.” A small smile replaced his frown. “I’d miss you,” she didn’t hesitate to admit. His smile grew. “I don’t know why,” she added, “You pester me constantly and torture me with your chaos watching, but I know that’s just who you are. And I guess it’s just who I am to like everyone, including you.” She finished with a smile of her own, “I think you make me appreciate the harmony I do have even more.” She felt him shiver in discomfort.

“Egh!” he said in disgust, “That was so heartfelt and sweet, I think I might actually throw up this time.”

“Thank you,” she said with a slight laugh.

Suddenly, the floating spirit was stopped in her tracks by a strong pull against the stub that was holding Chaos’s stub as a loud bang was heard. “Ow!” he shouted.

After letting him go, Harmony hurried through the rock her counterpart was behind and worriedly asked, “Chaos, are you okay?” She saw his head was smashed into the hard stone.

“That really hurt,” he groaned, holding his head with both stubs. She pulled him up as he whined, “I mean like really, really bad.”

“What happened?” she asked with concern.

“You ran me into a rock!” he moaned, gently rubbing his pounding head.

“You…you hit your head on a rock?” she slowly asked, puzzled written on her face.

“Yeah,” he hissed in pain.

“B-But how?” she questioned, worried as well.

Chaos’s eyes widen, and his stubs dropped against his sides. Cautiously, he moved over to the rock and tried to go through it. Instead, he bumped into it. He looked at Harmony, his mouth agape.

“Chaos, you’re not floating!” she exclaimed.

His underside was flat on the ground. Panicked, he tried to float up, but just jumped and landed unsteadily back down on the solid ground. “What’s wrong with me?” he questioned.

“You’re-You’re not a spirit anymore,” she realized. He held his stubs out to try to make them glow, but nothing happened. “What’s that?” she asked, seeing red on his palms, “Blood? You’re bleeding!” Quickly, she floated up to look at the small but bloody wound on his head.

“We don’t bleed!” he freaked, staring at his own blood.

“But the creatures do,” she reasoned, trying to be the calm one.

Pouting with tears brimming in his eyes, he sniffed, “But I don’t want to be a creature! It hurts.” He held his throbbing head again and whined, “I want to be a spirit like you.” Drained in so many ways, he leaned tiredly on her.

“I know, but you knew this would happen if you used all your energy,” she gently said, patting his back. “Wait!” she exclaimed, “I can touch you, and you can touch me.”

“Creatures can’t do that,” he said quietly, leaning back and wiping a tear. Blood was smeared on his cheek. Harmony tried to wipe the blood away, but she couldn’t touch it; she could only touch him. She frowned, truly puzzled.

Their mentor suddenly spoke in their heads again, “Disharmony is not technically a creature of the planet.”

“What is he?” Harmony asked, looking at her stunned counterpart.

“You lied?” Chaos asked.

“No,” Control replied evenly, “It is complicated. Using all your power put you in an in-between state. In between a creator like us and a creature like those you’ve created.”

“What does this mean, sir?” she asked as Chaos just stared up at the sky.

“The effects vary, but he has characteristics of both,” he explained, “He can see, hear, and touch you and you he. He can also affect and be affected by certain things on the planet.”

“Like the rock?” Chaos asked, rubbing his sore head again.

“Yes. You can no longer float at the moment or use any power for you have none left to use,” he continued, “There are other characteristics of creatures you may share or those of a creator you may no longer have. Time will reveal those. Now, you both must continue. The balance is at stake.”

“Yes, sir,” Harmony said with a nod.

“What about me?” the injured half-spirit asked, “My head seriously hurts.”

“That’s because it’s real pain, pain that our creatures feel, pain we usually can’t experience,” she kindly explained.

“I’ve been hurt before,” he disagreed, “Just the other day Control slammed me into the wall before he sent me to my room. That hurt…but not like this. Oww!”

“It’s just not the same. Control taught us the difference between us and our creatures when he was teaching us how to make them, don’t you remember?” she asked.

“I didn’t need to know all that boring stuff,” he gripped, “I just needed to know how to make them.” She rolled her eyes. “Oww,” he moaned.

“Here,” she said gently, placing her stubs over his head. She made them glow, but his wound didn’t heal. “Humm,” she hummed as he covered his head again. She made her stubs glow again, and a white box with a red cross appeared in her palms once the yellow sparkles cleared. “It’s a first aid kit; the ponies use them when they get hurt,” she answered his questioning look, “Put your stubs back down and hold still.” Hesitantly, he slowly lowered his stubs, hissing in pain. “I’m sorry, Chaos. I didn’t know you could get hurt. I’ll be more careful,” she apologized while opening the box. She grabbed a bottle from inside and used her yellow aura to hold the first aid kit in the air.

“I think I’ll…walk or scoot or whatever myself from now on,” he said, crossing his stubs.

“This might hurt,” she warned before pouring on some disinfectant.

“What are you…ow!” he shrieked. He tried to float away but fell on face instead. “Ow!”

“Chaos, be careful,” she instructed, pulling him up with a bit of a struggle.

“What was that for?” he asked with a pout.

“It’s disinfectant to clean it so it won’t get infected,” she explained, putting the bottle away, “That’s what the ponies do.”

“I’m not a pony!” he argued.

“But you might get an infection,” she said, grabbing a small container.

“You’re just trying to hurt me,” he sniffed, moving stubs to hold the wound.

“No, don’t touch it,” she kindly said, pulling his subs back down, “I’m not, I promise. I’m just trying to help. Please, hold still. The rest shouldn’t hurt so much.” He glared but allowed her to finish. She gently rubbed on some antibiotic ointment before beginning wrapping it in gauze bandaging.

“Why do you want to help me?” he asked, voice quiet but curious.

“Because I care about you; I care about everyone. I just told you that,” she simply explained, focused on her careful wrapping.

“But, why?” he asked, peering up with his pale eyes, “You were right. I betrayed you and everyone else. I was selfish. I lied. I was cruel to you. I always laugh at your distress. I mean, I almost destroyed the planet and all our creatures.” His usual grin never found its way on his face.

“I know, but I’m just naturally forgiving,” she said, finishing the wrap and starting the tape.

“Are you mad at me?” he asked, his eyes big and gleaming, his stubs nervously wringing.

“I guess I should be. I should be furious and hate you,” she said evenly, making him look down, “But I’m not, and I don’t.” He carefully looked up again, confusion and a bit of hope on his face. “I’m just a bit mad. You shouldn’t have done that to me. I didn’t deserve that. I know how much you want nothing but chaos on this world, but why did you have to involve me?” she asked. Chaos was silent as she finished with the tape and made the box disappear. “Because Control made me go?” she guessed. She heard a sniff as he shook his head. “Chaos?” she asked, floating down in front of him. His face was wet with tears, and his eyes shining with unshed ones. “Chaos, what’s wrong? Your head?” she asked, worried she messed up the wrapping and accidently hurt him.

“I-I just missed…” he tried, words fuzzy from crying, “I missed bugging you. And I felt so cheated that you got all the special treatment, and I didn’t get to do anything but get punished. And I thought no one cared about chaos, but…I guess the chaos was never affected at all by the unicorns…and Destiny and Control knew that…so they weren’t worried about the chaos because it had never changed. The chaos was never imbalanced at all, so what I did was unjustified.”

“So, you took it out on me?” she questioned caringly.

“I…I didn’t…I didn’t mean for it to go that far…not on you,” he sniffed, “I never meant to drain you, but I didn’t care that I was.” He roughly rubbed his face, frowning as he spoke, “There was just so much chaos around me and in me; it felt too good to stop. Then I saw your face when the soul left that panther, so hurt and betrayed. And I actually…cared a little. But the chaos was too much; I could barely hold it back long enough for you to take cover. It got painful.”

“You, you waited until I was safe?” she asked, cautious smile forming.

He looked down again with a pout and said as if the word brought him more pain, “Yeah.” He was immediately wrapped in a tight hug.

“You do care!” she cheered, grin reaching her sparkling eyes.

“Stop it! I don’t care about you; I just need you around to tease you,” he demanded, trying to push her off, “It feels weird! You feel weird.”

Ceasing the hug, she said, “You feel different too. Solid. It must be the in-between thing from using all your power. I suppose that’s also why you’re so…um, emotional.”

“I’m not emotional,” he denied, quivering pout on his lips. As she watched him wipe off the nonexistent harmony kooties, she thought about something he had said earlier.

“What did you mean before about having so much chaos built up?” she asked.

“From the chaos creatures and their fight,” he stated. He stopped dusting off the harmony but found he couldn’t absorb his stubs back into his body.

“No, not just that. Before, you said you had so much built up and ready to release, and it was the perfect chance to do so because you thought there was an imbalance,” she explained.

“Ah, nothing,” he said, averting his eyes. “Just the usual amount…I mean all we do is watch the Viewer, and I was in my room for three whole days with no way to let it out,” he defended, looking around.

“No, that’s not it,” she disagreed, “If watching that chaotic battle fueled you more, then causing chaos around you without actually using your power would fuel you too. So, bugging me should fuel you.” She frowned as she realized, “You’ve been building power up all this time…bugging me, filling Control’s rooms with chaos, causing discord between us and among all of us. You haven’t just been pestering everyone for fun, you’ve been doing it to gain power. That’s how you not only gave that creature so much power but still had enough left to make it a soul. How long have you been doing this?” He didn’t reply. “Chaos!” she demanded, surprised and bothered by the realization.

“Okay, yes. It’s true,” he admitted, sounding strange, but not guilty, “And I’ve been doing it ever since I discovered I could.”

“When was that?” she probed worriedly.

“The second morning of the reborn planet when I was arguing with Control about his unfair treatment of not letting me stay up to watch my night creatures on their first night,” he told her, tone a bit angry at the reminder of how long their mentor’s bias treatment had been going on.

“That was because he didn’t want this to happen to you,” she said, guesting to his powerless form, “You’ve been storing up chaotic power that long?”

“Well, I have used some, recently on Control’s rooms and the puppy and a few other…small things,” he said, voice quieting as he spoke.

“How…how am I going to do this?” she said to herself, turning away from Chaos, “You’ve been storing up power for months to make that creature.”

“Well, not specially to make him, but to eventually take some kind of big action for chaos, yeah,” he agreed.

“No, I mean, how am I going to build up enough power in less than one day to make something as equally powerful as your egg?” she asked, pitch going up as she began to panic.

“That’s exactly what I was saying before,” he told her, not sounding happy nor sympathetic, “You barely have any color.”

“But I didn’t know you had all that extra power,” she said, spinning around to look at him with wide eyes. Her respiration began to increase. She quickly turned back around, one stub on her head as she said in alarm, “I can’t do this.”

“You can, Harmony. Just believe in yourself,” they heard a reassuring voice.

“D-Destiny? B-But how? I don’t have time,” she asked, heart still racing.

“Hay, you’re supposed to be watching my little spirit!” Chaos interrupted.

“Hem hem!” Destiny laughed, “Don’t worry about your egg, Chaos. Control is watching over it on the Viewer while I speak with Harmony on my Perceiver.”

“He better not get hurt,” he grumbled.

“Hum hum!” she giggled.

“Stop laughing at me,” he ordered.

“I mean no offense; I just enjoy seeing how much you already care for your little spirit,” she explained joyfully, making him pout, “But he will be safe.” Addressing the other issue, she said; “Harmony, it’s not the quantity of time, it’s the quality of the harmony you absorb.”

“You mean I need to find a good source of strong harmony?” she asked, calming down.

“Yes,” she assured, “While Chaos had plenty of time to build up his energy, he lacked a good, quality source of it being stuck up here with just the three of us: one who has almost complete control over his emotions, one who is in an almost constant state of peace with all around her, and one who is filled with his opposite energy. You have a great advantage, Harmony. You have the whole planet almost full of creatures of your own harmonious creation.” Harmony looked from the sky to the distant area where she felt the weak, warm energy.

After a moment of consideration, Harmony stated to the sky with renewed confidence, “You’re right, madam. Thank you. I just have to find the right source.” She turned her grin away from the sky and towards Chaos. “And I know exactly where to start!” she cheered, grabbing his stub again, “Come on, Chaos.”

“Oh no! I know what you’re thinking!” he said, cringing expression full of fear.

Smile growing wide, she glowed brighter with confidence and announced, “Ponies here we come!”