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"I know a Memory Spell," said Twilight.

"And I know some pretty good shield spells," said Shining Armor.  "Just saying."

Applejack gnawed on her hat, fretting.  "Ah've gotta distract them somehow, before they have a falling out!"

The Blank Wolf nodded.  "I'll do it."  He vanished... and Snow Bound the earth pony stepped through the studio doors, looking around.  "Ah... hello?"

"Good idea," said AJ.  "Wait, no... Bad idea!"

Twilight took one look at the stark white pony and his wheel and four slashes cutie mark, and her whole face lit up.  "Well, *hello*!  Snow Bound, it's wonderful to see you again!"

Snow Bound twitched.  "It.. it is?"

"She figured out who ya are from yer cutie mark!" hissed AJ in his ear.

Twilight grinned from ear to ear.  "Why, I've got a whole list of questions that I've just been dying to ask, if we ever met again."  She did have a list, literally... she was magically unrolling a parchment that reached clear to the floor.  "I mean, if you have time!  I know you must be really busy..."

Shining Armor had a flat stare, and his ear kept twitching.  "He's a pony now?"

AJ sighed.  "Eeeyup.  He can do that."

"Twilight knows that he's..."

"Eeeyup."

"But she doesn't know..."

"Eeenope."

"You gave him a name?!"

"He thought of it, actually."

Shining Armor got an even more peculiar look.  "You and him... you aren't...  you know..."

Applejack grabbed Shining Armor and stared him right in the eyes.  Somehow, her tail managed to fluff up and sway from side to side, looking all wolfish.  "We're.  Just.  Friends."

Shining gulped.  "Okay!"

"Help me," said Snow Bound quietly, as Twilight pulled him aside, talking his ears off. 

Twilight flinched as the What-If Machine showed yet another world, one they'd seen before.

A full moon shone down on Ponyville, illuminating shaggy wolves in the streets. Including one purple one accompanied by a dragon. Pumpkins and figures of ghosts for Nightmare Night hung everywhere.

"So, Twi," Spike said. "You and the others are, uh, getting used to this?" He indicated her furry pelt and bushy tail.

"We're coping, Spike," the she-wolf growled back. "Fortunately, Luna taught us all how to keep our control when we change, that was apparently the reason why everypony used to be so afraid of werewolves. When their bodies changed, their minds did too. But we can all act perfectly like ponies now." Even as she spoke she saw her friends gathered at Ponyville's newest restaurant, seated right under the sign: Sky Dive's Barbecue Pit -- Wherever You Find Griffons in Equestria, We Serve Ponies! Uh, Not Like That.

Twilight ran to them yipping in joy and slavering at the smell of heavily-spiced raw meat. Spike hung back, looking leery as Twi's friends all raced to her, sniffing and licking her in a proper lupine hello. The former ponies looked and saw him hanging back.

"Yeesh, Spike, c'mon over here!" Rainbow Dash said, easily identifiable by her blue pelt and prismatic tail and furred head-tuft. She grinned, showing a thicket of fangs. "Ya know we ain't gonna eat ya or anything."

"Yeah, and it's not like we can infect you with lie-can't-whatever," Pinkie Pie said, almost hopping up and down, an overgrown hyper puppy. She scratched behind one ear with a hind leg, thinking. "Huh, I wonder if that's why it affected Applejack first?" She yipped as an annoyed looking Applejack nipped her.

"It's 'lycanthropy', Pinkie," Twilight said with a sigh. The greetings over, she sat down at the table with her friends. Spike scuttled close, sticking close to Twilight, even avoiding the snowy-furred and purple-tailed she wolf who batted her eyes winsomely at him. Twilight said, "How's it going with all of you? Have your families, er, taken the news well?"

"My animals are a little scared of me now," Fluttershy said, her ears and tail lowered in lupine submission. "I keep telling them I won't eat them, I even showed them the Neighponese soybean paste I kept for my meat-eating animal friends." In the background they could see Cheerilee and Big Mac loping along, mated as wolves and married as ponies for several months now. Past even them three little wolf-pups, yellow and orange and marshmallow-white, tumbled and played.

"No offense, Fluttershy," Rainbow Dash said with a shudder. "But that bean stuff tastes awful! I'm so glad Gilda's cousin opened this place up in town."

"But it's healthy for you, and..." Fluttershy shivered, and then Fluttercruel said with a wolfish grin, "No offense mom, but Blue is right. I just like meat better! Fresh bloody meat..." She looked dreamy as she licked her fangs. Spike swallowed. Fluttercruel said, "I mean, it's not like we eat ponies, or something!"

"True dear," Rarity said, her voice a melodious growl. She looked to the side and licked her lips, saying in a hungry snarl, "And speaking of eating...."

All the wolves growled fiercely at the dark-feathered gryphon approaching their table as he bore a massive platter in his talons set with barely-cooked lumps of white-marbled, sweet-smelling bloody meat. Moving quickly, he set it down in their midst and barely got away in time as the six she-wolves leaped up on the table and, snarling with joy, all but dove into the piled meat.

Spike shivered at the hungry growls and snarls that came from the transformed ponies as they made the meat vanish with impressive speed. Even Fluttershy's muzzle showed bloody smears when she pulled back from a plate now set with nothing more than bones and a few tattered chunks of gristle.

"Spike!" The dragon jumped as Twilight wheeled on him, blood and barbecue sauce staining her muzzle and chest fur. "Did you remember to bring the paper and pen?" When he nodded, she said, "Then take a letter. 'Dear Princess Luna. Sometimes our lives change in unexpected ways, but you have to learn that you're still basically the same pony underneath it all..."

Just then a stray rabbit from the Everfree dashed by, panicked at the heavy wolf-scent. Every one of the Mane Six at the table saw it.

"Rabbit!" Applejack howled. She took off after it, followed by Dash and Pinkie and the rest, their lupine minds taking control and yelping as they ran: "Run-chase-catch! Play-play-play!"

Spike watched them race off towards the Everfree. He sat down at the empty table with a sigh.

"Ya know," he said to nowolf in particular, "This town used to be a LOT less weird then this."

Then the screen seemed to go completely blank for the majority of ponies there, including Twilight Sparkle who had no idea what the screen was showing, and Shining Armor was readying to give it the hammer if it did.

Once again, they saw the huge golden wolf facing Shining Armor in his ranger cloak.

"Why?" asked Shining, honestly perplexed.  "Doesn't Fate know everything already?"

"That's the thing," growled Applejack.  "The Truth is... this world is broken.  Too many folks have changed too many things all at once, and the world couldn't take it.  Pages are *missing* from Ma Fate's book, and if she doesn't know what went on before, she can't write us a way forward."

Shining shivered, huddling in his cloak.  "Changing the world?  You mean, like when I...."

The Wolf shook her head.  "You fixed more things than you broke when you started existing.  That's the only reason yer face to face with a Blank Wolf and not gettin' your light torn right out of ya."

"Again," muttered Shining.

"So here's the deal," the Wolf continued.  "You tell me what Ma Fate needs to know, and Ah'll tell you what you need to know.  Now, Ah could just keep ya here until ya say yes, or rip the whole story out of ya with the Truth...  but Ah'm not.  Ah'm askin' ya, as a friend.  Take the deal.  It's important... you need this, and Ma's favors don't come cheap."

"Friend?" said Shining Armor, incredulous.  "Are you, still?"

"Try me," barked the Wolf.  "You know how."

The ranger gritted his teeth.  "Loyalty."  To his eyes, a flickering red shield capped with three stars seemed to appear before him.  Red shackles appeared on his four legs, and heavy glowing chains snaked and criss-crossed every which way, including one leading to a collar around the Wolf's neck.

Applejack laughed harshly.  "The Wolf is supposed to be impossible to bind.  Guess Ah'm a lousy Wolf, then, still holding onto that.  Well?"

The vision faded, and Shining slumped, panting.  "Okay... I'll tell you." He said to the orange Wolf.
-
While the What If Machine was showing Shining his much desired possible future, Pinkie got a tap on the shoulder.

"Yes?"

She turned to find Pinkamena (Laughter Jack Version) and Dark World!Pinkie (still a ghost as she was before).

"Hi Alternate Mes!"

"Hello Pinkie," the Goth version of her said. "We heard you were being overworked by the author."

"Yeah...I've gone through TEN sets of batteries!" Pinkie panted.

"Then let US take over hosting while you set up your sister-I-don't-have's welcome party!" Dark World!Pinkie explained, giving a smirk.

"Oh, I couldn't..."

"Don't be Applejack...well, your Applejack, not mine," Pinkamena explained. "One of my personalities is you, and she says 'us as hosts would provide a good contrast and be entertaining'."

"And I'm a ghost! How much more Nightmare Night can I get?" Dark World!Pinkie announced, showing a more subdued tone than her alternate self.

"...Okay, you're right," Pinkie hugged her alternate selves. "Thanks girls."

"You're welcome! Now go on! Plan your party! We'll handle this!"

As Pinkie did that, Dark World Pinkie flew around and started putting up Nightmare Night decorations and Pinkamena looked to the camera. "Alright, back to Shining's getting to see that alternate verse."
Pinkie Pie's 4th Wall Breaking Show epi 10 Part 10
Pony POV Series 
Pinkie Pie's 4th Wall Breaking Variety Show episode 10
PART 9
By Alex Warlorn

Pinkie Pie, "Ten . . . ten sets of batteries  . . . I wish the author wasn't taking so long. I wanna take a nap."

Parts added by:
MtangaLion 
Kendell2
MtangaLion
Kendell2

alexwarlorn.deviantart.com/gal…

Pinkie Pie, "Ten times so far . . . . sigh I feel tire, . . . blech, Da Rules . . . :
1. What you put in the comments appears in the story.
2. Nopony besides me can see beyond the fourth wall or interact with it and I can't spill the beans about us being out-and-out fiction to the others.
3. The camera can’t leave the studio.
4. The characters can be from any generation, toy or comic but they have to be from “My little Pony”
5. Everything that happens here is non-canon (except the Tartarus break out thingie, but not the big battle).
6. Have Fun "


Cover by Kendell2
MLP FiM Copyright of Hasbro
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Another image was presented by the What If Machine.

Ruby's spirit watched heartbroken from the spirit world as her own body burned to a cinder, the town she'd lived in believing her murder was just.

"They killed you for something you have no control over," said a voice, as smooth as a serpents. "For a mark you obtained by finding out who you truly are."

A now familiar to the mane six golden Alicorn stallion with a fiery red mane, stood over her shoulder, white pupils in black eyes staring down at her. "They stabbed you in the back for something they should have been proud of. For something that is completely and utterly you. For who you are. You were wronged."

Ruby felt so many conflicting emotions. Betrayal, pain, grief. Rage. Hate?

"They're monsters, every one of them. After all, how could anyone murder an innocent foal in cold blood and deem it right?" the stallion asked.

Black tendrils began to rise up around Ruby, as if beckoning her to accept them.

"You should show them how that feels. How it feels to be hated for something you can't control. For how they look. For what they are. You want that don't you?"

Ruby couldn't deny it...a part of her did...

"Accept the Spirits that call to you. Become something greater and make them the ones who suffer. The one's who are hurt for something beyond their control...Make them be persecuted as you were," Persecution itself suggested, his voice smooth and friendly.

Ruby could see it clearly.

She accepted the Spirits of Black Magic, became Nightmare Pyre, a little ghostly foal made of flames, like an Alicorn shaped willow-wisp. She rose from the dead and slaughtered the entire town in cyclone of fire, including Mitta...but that wasn't enough.

She trapped them in their own scorched corpses and raised them from the dead, forcing them to go the nearest town. But there was no touch of death this time, just scary zombie ponies marching through town. The populous reacted naturally to this and came ready to kill the zombies 'threatening them' who, while they tried to speak, tried to reason, tried to say anything, were slaughtered. And the ponies believed it was just.

She repeated this every year on the anniversary of her death, cackling over head. The ponies began calling her a plague. A witch.

"No..." Ruby said, looking down that path of fate, she was a spirit now after all.

Persecution simply cocked his head. "What?"

"No...I won't...I'd be the very thing they called me...a plague," Ruby said, the murdered foal looking as Mitta broke down crying. "...They're not evil monsters, they're scared...that doesn't make it right, but...it means maybe someday they'll realize they were wrong...they killed me...I'm not happy for it...but I'm not going to take revenge because then it'd just continue the cycle...I'd be the one persecuting them..."

Persecution's face went completely blank. No expression, no rage, no hate. Just blank. He then teleported away without a word. The black tendrils receeded as Ruby watched over Mitta.




Pinkie Pie blinked, looking to the What If Machine. "...Aren't you doing just that? Trying to make us pay for hurting you even though we're sorry?"

The What If Machine blinked.

"...Persecution's whispering in your ear isn't he?"

"...Silence! Stop trying to confuse me!"

Shining looked to Maud. "Please tell me we're not going to be fighting another evil god..."

"No, Persecution is many things, but confrontational is not one of them. He'll tempt it from the spirit world as long as it let's him, then move on," Not-Maud answered. "Like a parasite. He's something I'm very much looking forwards to the end of."

"...Thank goodness, I was beginning to worry..."

The heavy doors sealing the studio slid back, just long enough to admit Fluttershy.  "I'm back!  How is everypony?"

"About the same as when ya left," said Applejack, yawning.

"What about you, darling?" asked Rarity.  "Are you well?  What's been going on outside?"

Fluttershy smiled.  "Oh, I'm just fine.  Angel bunny sends his love... well, it was probably love.  Oh, and Cadence had a message."

Shining Armor's ears perked up.  "Ooh, what is it?" he whispered.  "A secret plan to get us out of here?"

"Actually..."  Fluttershy couldn't quite look him in the eye.  "She said you're on double diaper duty tonight, since you were... 'goofing around in here watching videos all afternoon.'  I'm sorry!"

"I... but I haven't... argh!"

The What-If Machine whirred.  "Fluttershy/Fluttercruel... You returned willingly."

Fluttershy blinked.  "Well, of course.  That's what I said I would do."

"You agreed to my unreasonable demand without complaint, and you have not employed force to escape or subdue me.  Clearly, this is a scheme, the nature of which I have not yet discovered."

"It's no scheme," insisted Twilight.  "We're ponies.  We always try to settle things without violence."

Fluttershy nodded emphatically.  "Violence never solves anything."

"Incorrect," the machine declared.  "Every situation is ultimately resolved by force or the threat of force."
-

"Hey, I've been wondering something..." said Rainbow Dash, scratching her head. "The original Pony Rangers started when we were foals, so why are with them in those other worlds? Shouldn't we have been...I don't know, one of the more recent ones?"

Pinkie pulled out a book called wikipedia. "Oh! Because the re-release of the original series came out the same year we beat Nightmare Moon!"

"Oh..."

"Though technically the G2 ponies should have been around the same time Pony Rangers came out...I wonder if they're Rangers anyway..."

"...I am also curious," said the What If Machine, activating.

---

Grogar snarled, hitting a red suited Starlight with a sword as several tendrils from the house-turned giant monster they were currently inside of restrained her. "Once I destroy you, nothing will stop me from bringing this chaotic world under my perfect order," the tyrant stated, raising his sword to finish her off.

Patch suddenly slashed him across the head, sending him staggering back before slashing Starlight free. She was in the Black suit. "Ya alright, Starlight?"

"Yeah, thanks." she said, then noticed Grogar recovering. "Patch!"

"I know! Blasters!"

Both summoned winged gauntlets on their forelegs and blasted the goat tyrant hard in the chest, the blast forcing him to fall back.

"Alright, let's get back to the Zords and form the Jet Pegasus Megapony to finish it off...if you can stop joking this time long enough to combine it," Starlight said good naturedly.

"Yeah yeah, I learned my lesson."

The two broke out one of the windows and flew back to their bird/jet fighter themed robots with artificial wings on their sides.
-

Maud sighed. "Look, we get it, you're angry and hurt for everything that happened to you. Can you please stop now? I think my baby sister is getting tired, and we never got to me being formally introduced to everypony."

"Yeah! And I figured I'd FINALLY get to hang out with Dash again! Not get forced to watch you over and over!" Gilda said.

"How can Pinkie get tired from just this? She went WEEKS partying once!" Rainbow Dash brought up.

"TIme flows different in here." Not-Maud Pie said simply.

Then teleports in was a pink unicorn filly with a blond mane in laughably outdated and cliche classic period clothing, her cutie mark was a heart within a star within a heart within a star surrounding by bright red ribbons and tiny five pointed stars.

Twilight's jaw dropped at the sight of her.

"Don't worry everypony! I've been sent to save you! I am Princess Loving-Bright-Shinny-Star Sparkling-Dawn-Flower The Eighty-Eighth! And with the secret magic spell known to no pony, but known by me, I'll save the day in no time!"

"Insert detected."

"HEY! HEY! BAD DOGGIE! LEAVE ME ALONE!"  Princess Loving-Bright-Shinny-Star Sparkling-Dawn-Flower The Eighty-Eighth cried like any scared five year old and teleported away again, to most ponies it looked like she run away from thin air.

"Was she really bad?" AJ asked.

"Bad or good. Makes no difference. An insert is an insert. All must be deleted." The wolf said.

"Ah swear, if Ah ever get drafted into this wolf nonsense again Ah'm gonna smack Ma Fate."

"Watch it. That's my mother you speak of."

"Yeah yeah, just ventin'."

"Who you talkin' to Applejack dear?" Rarity asked.

"Uh, noPONY." AJ said.

"I see . . ."

Shining Armor asked. "Was that my third child from the future?"

"No." Twilight said.

"Okay then."

"I wouldn't mind seeing more of that world with .. . Cherry Blossom and Cranberry." Rarity said.

"RARITY! What is wrong with you?!" RD exasperated.

"I'm just . .  curious . . . how much the world must have changed with you. What did we get our cutie marks without your Sonic Rainboom?"

Rainbow hated to admit it, but that was a good question.

"Besides, admit it." Fluttercruel would say. "I can see it your eyes. Some part of you LIKED the idea of you and Gilda being sisters."
-
The What-If Machine obliged them, showing a series of flickering images...

"I thought I was going to completely flunk the exam, and disappoint Celestia and my parents and everypony," Twilight was telling Apple Bloom, "but then I saw this amazing flash out the window..."

"But then the whole sky lit up in a flash," said Rarity.  "The rock crumbled, and it was full of gems!"

"Then this flash totally blew those depressing clouds right out of the sky," said Pinkie excitedly.

"That's when Ah knew Ah had to get back to Ponyville, where Ah belonged," said AJ, reminiscing.


"How did I get my cutie mark?"  Shining Armor magically took a crossbow out from under his ranger's cloak and inspected it, turning it this way and that.  "Well, it's not much of a story."

"Please?" asked Sweetie Belle, giving him the big cute filly eyes.

"My sister fell out of a tree when she was little.  I caught her in a shield bubble."

Apple Bloom blinked.  "That's it?  You ain't gonna tell us an epic story with a flash in the sky?"

Shining shook his head.  "Nope.  Timber wolf."

"Huh?" said Scootaloo.

"Duck."  Something roared and leapt from the bushes.  The fillies screamed and scattered left and right, and Shining Armor blew the timber wolf into kindling with a well-placed shot.  "Now, what have we learned about coming into the Everfree Forest by yourselves?"



Later, in Sugarcube Corner, Applejack mused, "There's definitely a pattern here.  Except for Shiny, I mean."

The ranger shrugged his shoulders, seeming slightly uncomfortable indoors.  "I remember that flash, sure, but I already had my cutie mark.  It was in papers the next day."  He swept a hoof in the air, remembering.  "A Sonic Thunderboom, they called it."

"I'm certain that Fluttershy knows something about it too," said Rarity.  "But she rushed right off and said she'd tell me later."  The door thumped, its bell tinkling.  "Finally!  Well, Fluttershy, did you... Oh!  Who's your friend?"

The newcomer was a pale green pegasus pony, wearing goggles on her forehead and a harness with two bulging satchels.  "Sorry I don't have much time.  Can't be late with the mail run back to Cloudsdale."  

Fluttershy grinned confidently.  "Girls, this is my old friend, Lightning Dust."



"No.  Way," said Rainbow Dash.  "*She* took my place?  And what happened to Flutter's cutie mark?"  The Fluttershy on the What-If Machine's screen had a soaring falcon instead of three butterflies.

"I'm more surprised that the other four of us stayed mostly the same," mused Twilight.

"When did I learn to shoot straight?!" was all Shining Armor could say.
-
"Wait a tick!" Rainbow Dash snapped. "I NEED TO KNOW! TELL ME! You HAVE TO TELL ME! What happened to Scootaloo! Please! What happened to her if I didn't exist as, ME in that world! She . . . without me in that universe . . . who helped her? Did anypony help her?" If this was all non-canon, she didn't need to worry about revealing the truth about Scootaloo's absent family.
-

"Why . . . why don't you see show me?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"Why should I do what you want me to?" The What If Machine asked curtly. "Besides, it's not like it's your Scootaloo anyway."

"That's not he point!" Rainbow Dash growled.
-

Maud Pie said, "Show her!"

The What if machine resisted, there was only time for a single grainy image.

It was an image of Cherry Blossom, hugging Scootaloo.

Rainbow Dash gasped.

Fluttercruel sighed. 'I wonder if good old Coffee Swirl is back with that rock coffee yet and the jerk what if machine is keep him away.'
-


"And to answer your previous question." The What If machine spoke, "Back in flight camp they separated every filly and colt, but the assignment of bunk beds were made by drawing names out of a hat. Rainbow Dash was lucky that she ended up with Fluttershy. And yes, Rainbow Dash was the lucky one. Few ponies understand the power Fluttershy has, by her mere existance, to draw out the best inside anycreature. The filly Lightning Dust went to that camp, but you just never met her or maybe she simply went in that world where there was no Rainbow Dash. However, one different outurn of simple luck of the draw, a simple different outcome of the cointoss, and Lightning Dust's name came up after Fluttershy's instead of Rainbow Dash's, and she is the one that ends up befriending her. And her life is changed forever, Fluttershy does that to ponies... she does that to everyone. Oh, and you don't want to know how you end up in a world where you never become friends with Fluttershy, believe me."

"Is that the universe were Trixie and others are the Elements, and the lot of us have all of our flaws at the forefront and our virtues put on the back seat?" Applejack asked.

"Not quite." The What if machine answeed.

"Aww! And so we see that even in another world and when she's another pony entirely, Dashie still looks out for Scootaloo." Pinkie Pie smiled and put a hoof around Rainbow Dash's shoulder.

"Mother always did like to reuse her best material," said the Blank Wolf listlessly.  He was laying on the floor, head resting on his forepaws and golden eyes staring off into the distance.  "Constants and variables."

"Excuse me," said Applejack to Rainbow Dash and the others.  "Gotta take care of something right quick."  But instead of the little fillies room, she went to the prop storage.  She closed the door and turned around, and sure enough, the Wolf was there in the room with her, laying in the same position.  "All right, what's eating ya?"

"It's nothing," said the Blank Wolf.

"Liar."

"Hrrr.  Perhaps I won't say anything at all, then."

Applejack sat on the carpet beside the Wolf, leaning comfortably against his flank, but facing the opposite direction.  "Is this about me being a regular pony again?"

The Wolf said nothing.

"So what if Ah am?  Everything's back like it was before, right?"  AJ hesitated.  "We are still friends, aren't we?"

"Always!" said the Blank Wolf at once.  Then... "As long as you will have me, rather.  You do not have 'always,' not any more."

Applejack snorted.  "So that's what this is about?  Look, Ah'm flattered that your Ma would trust me with such a huge responsibility, and it was even fun, sometimes... but Ah can't be something Ah'm not."

"I would not ask you to," rumbled the Wolf.  "For neither can I be anything other than what I was made to be."

Applejack smirked, finally looking towards her friend.  "Would you listen to yerself?  You're worse than Granny sometimes, all that moping and grousing."

"Yes, that is what happens when you're older than the hills."

AJ sighed.  "Would you snap out of it?  It's not like Ah'm gonna up and die tomorrow.  Look, if it's bothering you that much, why don't ya go talk to Princess Celestia about it?  If anypony knows about coping with that kinda thing, surely it's her."

The Blank Wolf lifted his head, ears perking up, and finally turned to face her.  "That... is a very sensible idea.  I do not know if she will speak to the likes of me, but I shall make the attempt.  Thank you, Applejack."

There was barely a flicker, and AJ was alone in the prop room.  "Anytime, sugarcube..."

The what-if machine decided to tease Rainbow Dash again, this time showing the day of chaos, and Cherry Blossom with wings zipping about like an adrenaline junkie, ignoring her foster child's cries for help. While Cranberry was a griffin bullying everypony around her.

And Ranger Shining Armor, looked like he wasn't interested in protecting anything. In the studio Twilight saw her brother's face, and remembered that HER Shining Armor had never had to deal the horror of being violated by Discord.

"I think I've had enough of this." Gilda groaned.

"What's the matter? Being a flightless beauty pony in that reality, but at the same time not always having to be the tough girl, and being closer than ever to Rainbow Dash giving you mixed feelings?" Maud Pie asked.

"You be quiet." The half-lion beast growled.
-
"Wait, now," Twilight said to the What-If Machine. I have a couple of questions. Once, very briefly, I considered entering the Guard. What?" She looked at her friends, all giving her startled looks. "I liked the cadet's uniform they gave my brother. But soon after that they held the tests at Celestia's school, and I went there, and everything changed."

"And now ya wanna know what woulda happened if you'd joined the Guard, right?" Rainbow Dash grinned at Twilight's surprised look. "Yeesh, Twi, you're not that hard to figure out."

"Well, okay," Twilight said. Turning to the What-If Machine, and privately hoping to distract her friends from some of the darker worlds they'd seen, she said, "What if I'd joined the Guard like I originally planned?"

The What-If Machine emitted the mechanical equivalent of a low chuckle as its screen showed static before clearing to show what looked like early evening with a small herd of ponies in a pavilion, all of them in the barding and showing the slit-pupil eyes of Luna's Night Guards, standing and facing Twilight Sparkle.

"Oh dear!" Rarity gasped. "Twilight, darling, is that you, dear?"

It was. Guard-Twilight showed scarring on her face and covering one eye, a short-cut mane, and a more muscular build than her scholarly counterpart. She was speaking to her fellow officers, all of them apparently lower-ranked then her. A pointer glowed in the grip of her magic as she indicated a blackboard covered with complex designs,

"Now then!" Guard-Twilight said in a clipped voice, "We're going to have a double envelopment with four converging columns of troops. In a pincers movement Generals Lightning Dust and Iron Hoof and their troops are going to come down the Canterlot Pike directly at the enemy, with Silver Axe's division on right flank and Long Patrol's on their left. Upon arrival General Silver Axe is going to lead his division in front of Lightning Dust and strike the rebels on their left flank; General Long Patrol is going to lead her division in front of Iron Hoof's and strike the rebels on their right flank; the Stalliongrad militia will cross Ponyville creek --" She said to the worried-looking mare, "Yes, I know about the river serpent, you're expected to handle it -- and close in for support to cut off any rebel retreat; and the gryphon mercenaries will go to ground in that orchard, 'Sweet Apple Acres', and make sure it and the farmhouse can't be staffed against us by any of the Appleloosa refugees... Any questions?"

She smiled, quite proud.

The next words stole the smile from her muzzle.

"Um, just one -- could you explain all of that, please?"

Twilight glared, but before she could say anything, another and dreadfully familiar voice broke in.

"I understand it quite well." The watching ponies and Gilda gasped to see Nightmare Moon walking up behind Twilight. Her voice was calm, but rage boiled behind those cool green eyes. "Now go, and destroy those rebels against the crown!" The assembled ponies hurried from the tent, with the Nightmare calling after them, "And remember, if you cannot seize control of the farms and orchards, burn them! I will NOT allow the supplies they have to fall into the rebels' hooves! Those anarchists calling for 'freedom' and 'liberty' will change their tune when their foals start crying for food." She settled back, looking pleased and her eyes half closed. Twilight stayed by her.

The Guard officers began to speak to one another in low and worried voices. They went still at the Nightmare's voice.

"Why are you still here?"

They all but fell over themselves fleeing the pavilion. Guard-Twilight looked after them, shaking her head in disgust.

"We use such flawed tools as we are given, my best servant," Nightmare Moon said to her. "I trust this will be the last battle. Remember, no allowing mass numbers of the rebels to escape from the field, even if it does limit our own causalities." She ruffled her wings. "We would not have to worry about those Appleloosans, else. As for you, tell me, does it not bother you that your brother is among those opposing me?"

"I have no brother, your majesty," Twilight said, coolly shuffling some papers on her nearby desk. Arranging them to her satisfaction, she set her plumed helmet on her head. "After you returned, and Celestia's student Sunset Shimmer failed against you and you sent your sister to the sun, he was the one who split the Guard in half with his demands to 'defeat the usurping tyrant' and started the riot that burned down half of Canterlot." Twliight saw to her sword, it slithered from the sheath with a cold metallic hiss. "Without Celestia, we need an alicorn to maintain the night-day cycle as well as the legitimacy of the crown. That means you, your highness." She turned and began to trot out of the pavilion to her army.

"And does not the question of mercy arise within your heart?" Nightmare Moon asked to her back, cocking one eyebrow.

"No, majesty," Twilight stopped and responded from the entry flap. "Mercy is ending the rebellion as swiftly as possible, that the least lives may be lost and the rule of crown law be restored over Equestria. If that means a million ponies must die, so be it. Better they all be slain than Equestria fall into anarchy and decades of civil war." She trotted out, saying as she left. "And if I must do it, then at least I know it'll be done properly."

"Well, now," Nightmare Moon chuckled in the dark pavilion interior. "And I thought myself to be cold."

"Heh, well," the real Twilight said as she looked around at her stunned friends, BBBFF, and Gilda. "I guess we can all be happy that world never happened, right?"

"I never thought I'd be saying this," Gilda said with a shudder. "But maybe we can go back to the world where Dash and I became Earth pony beauticians?"
-
The What-If Machine almost seemed to chuckle at them as it switched to a view of Shining Armor in a ranger cloak... lost in a hedge maze and missing his horn.

Applejack shuddered.  "Isn't that..."

Twilight, gasped, getting in between her brother and the screen.  "No... you shouldn't see this.  Don't look, BBBFF."

Shining rolled his eyes.  "Oh, come on.  I've faced things you can't even imagine."  He sighed.  "And I can't even tell you about," he added muttering under his breath.  "Besides, I've always kind of wondered..."

Twilight fumed and pointed a hoof at a sticker on the What-If Machine that he'd somehow never noticed before.  "Do NOT ask 'What if I'd been Discorded?'," it read in neatly printed type.  "Just don't.  --Nurse Redheart."

"Alright, alright!  Sheesh!"  Shining Armor trotted into the prop room and shut the door... but after a moment he opened it a crack, peeking out.

---
On the screen, Shining Armor panted, trying to look every which way at once as he walked deeper into the maze.  He set down the crossbow that he'd been clumsily holding in his mouth, then huddled, shivering.  "What's the matter with me?  It's a just a hedge maze...  a hedge maze!  I patrol the Everfree Forest!"

Around the next bend, wind gusted, and there was an evil chuckle, and a sound like metal thumping on wood.  The ranger gritted his teeth and charged around the bend, nearly jumping out of his hide when he came face to face with... himself?!  "Whew... don't scare me like that."  It was only his reflection in a polished antique shield, hanging on a wooden armor rack.

"Shining, Shining," said his reflection.  "What are you doing here?"

"I have a job to do," said Shining Armor grimly, as if answering his own thoughts.  "I have to find the other Bearers and protect them.  I'll have time to be scared later."

"Oh, is that all?"

"That's enough.  The Princess gave me a mission.  Besides, I promised a long time ago that I'd always protect my sister."

The eyes of his reflection seemed to swirl mysteriously.  "So very loyal of you... but... what have they done for you lately?"

"You know... not a lot, actually."  The stallion's coat shimmered, starting to lose its color.

"You saved the world!" his reflection crooned.  "Don't forget that."

"Yeah?  You know, lately it does seem like I'm the only one who remembers."

"A *fine* reward, being posted to a haunted forest, in the middle of nowhere."

"Yeah!" grumbled Shining.  "Until the Princess needed me again."

"When was the last time they threw you a party?"

"I can't remember."

"Or told you 'Good job, thank you for protecting us, Shining!'?"

"Not often enough!"

"Good old loyal Shining Armor, always there when *they* need *you*."

The ranger's blue mane turned solidly grey.  Just outside of his view, Discord emerged, grinning wickedly.  With a flick of his claws, the huge hedge maze walls shifted, opening a clear exit, and the ranger's horn reappeared.

"I..."  Suddenly furious, Shining Armor grabbed his cloak in his teeth, tore it loose, and flung it to the ground.  "I am such a colossal sap!  I'm DONE with this."  The stallion trotted out of the maze without looking back.


--
The image on the screen fuzzed, becoming a seedy bar, where a grey Shining Armor sat in the front row before a stage, lewdly cheering on the dancing mares.  There were three empty mugs beside him, and he was working on a fourth mug of hard cider.  "Woohoo, yeah!  Roll tah shee if Ah'm gettin' drunk!"

The doors slammed open, admitting Twilight Sparkle.  "There you are.  Would you snap out of it?  We have to defeat Discord, remember?"

Shining hiccuped.  "Buck that, sis.  I'm busy."

Twilight finally seemed to see the show he was watching.  Her ears reddened.  "Shiny, how could you?  What about Cadence?"

The ranger started giggling and couldn't stop.  "Cadence who?  Oh, you mean Princess Never Around?  Princess Never Calls or Writes Anymore?  I've got all the lovely mares I need right here... they appreciate me..."

Twilight hoofed her brother across the face, then cast the Memory spell on him while he was still stunned.

Shining Armor's eyes shimmered.  "That's right...  I'm a Guardspony!  I choose to place myself in harm's way so that those who cannot defend themselves are defended. Though service is a heavy cost, For Equestria, I pay it gladly."  The color flowed back into his coat and mane.... and suddenly he gulped, and dashed behind the bar, throwing up loudly.

The rest of their friends filtered into the bar behind Twilight.  Rarity coughed.  "Let me be the first to say...  Eeeww!"

Shining Armor rose into view again, still wobbly.  "Where's that draconequus?  I'm gonna hoof *him* in the face."

Twilight smiled, then levitated the Element of Loyalty over to Shining and draped its chain around his neck.  "I think this might be a little more effective."


The machine's screen fuzzed with static one more time, showing a ranger station in the Everfree.  "Well, does that about cover everything?"

(Interviewer's Notes: pegasus)  Technically speaking, it's not anatomically possible for ponies to...

Shining Armor rolled his eyes.  "Ugh, you sound like my sister."
-
"I have a question..." Twilight asked carefully, trying to think of what she truly wanted. "...We've seen the good Queen Chrysalis several times...we learned our Chrysalis' backstory from Sweetie Belle...How did that one end up differently than our Chrysalis?"

The What If Machine sprang to life.

Chrysalis' backstory played out just like it had in their world. How she was born. Hearing the medicine man call her a monster at birth. The main difference was reading about King Sombra the Good and Princess Luna, not Princess Celestia.

Until one moment were it differed. Little Kifuko saved her town from the Parasprites and transformed into her Zebralicorn form...but instead of turning inward and dwelling on herself, she realized just how much her saving the village had meant to everyone...she realized a voice that had been in the heart of THEIR world, but had been 'smothered in its sleep'. The part that enjoyed helping. But this confused her. Survival of the fittest. Why had would an animal love helping others? So she made a choice their Chrysalis DIDN'T. Ask this question: do animals care for one another?

Her father responded by showing her Elephants protecting their young and even mourning one of their dead.

"They are a pack, they do not turn their back. They may not be smart like us, but they still act thus. Do not expect their kindness towards you, but what you see here is true."

And thus, in addition to seeing the cruel side of nature, she also saw the kind side. She saw that nature did have caring. Not because some outside force threw it on her, but because she chose to ask one question.

But the hunger still rose its ugly. But when the possibility of seeking King Sombra's help was risen...she took it. Because she wasn't ashamed of needing help, because in nature a herd helped one another.

Parents are parents. When they're told 'I'm ill' they react. Their medicine man could only answer "I fear the worst, I believe the poor thing has been cursed."

Kifuko was still smart enough to twist words. She suggested the one who sent the parasprites to cause them harm had placed a curse on her for stopping it. Curses were a part of the tribe's faith, so were witches, so this idea was considered.

It took much convincing, but as he saw his child fade away, her father became desperate enough to put as much as he could raise to travel to the distant Kingdom of Equestria. Queen Celestia was currently at a disadvantage, without her sister at her side the combined might of Sir Discord and King Sombra kept her at bay, but barely. The Tyrant Sun had long since accepted the offer of the Spirits of Dark Magic and found methods to keep herself from being crushed.

King Sombra and Sir Discord's eyes widened when Kifuko explained her situation with them (her father would have fought both heroes before he allowed his child to die). A magical analysis revealed the truth.

"I thought they were all dead..." Discord said in disbelief.

Queen Celestia had nearly burned the world to a cinder before Sir Discord and Luna had managed to beat her back. It was believed the cursed Flutterpony subspecies had gone extinct.

Her parents? They loved her no matter how she looked or what she was. Maua? Why would she do any different?

No one was certain of why the two parents had given birth to her, but King Sombra made sure the young Changeling got all the love she needed...until she was kidnapped by more Changeling spies none even knew existed.

She was enslaved by Queen Cocoon, who in this world had decided that to protect her subjects, she would conquer the world...but was no less insane or terrible a ruler as her alternate self...until one day Kifuko, or Chrysalis as she ultimately chose, rose up and defeated her just as her other self, except this time to liberate the Changelings from her tyranny, being forced to absorb Cocoon to stop the evil Queen from doing the same. She was hailed as Queen Chrysalis Avalon...and returned to Equestria a fully grown queen when the now twin evil Queens had began to gain too much ground, an army of changelings behind her to beat back the tide.

And the love of her subjects, new and old, caused her to shed the cocoon and emerge complete.
-
"Okay," Gilda blinked. "What the heck was all that about?" The confused griffin looked around at the ponies, who were watching the screen in shock.

"Remember that big mess in Canterlot a few months back?" Dash said. She snorted when Gilda looked at her, head tilted in a rather obvious 'What?' "It was in all the papers, Gilda! Royal wedding, invasion by bug ponies, crazy evil shapeshifter queen enslaves the egghead's big brother and does the same to AJ and Twilight..."

"Wow, that all happened? What?" Gilda shrugged as Dash looked ready to explode. "Hey, I was spending some time with an aerie up north by Stalliongrad. Nice guys, but I hadda leave when the chief dweeb, Czar Double Eagle or something like that, tried making moves on me." She scratched her chin, talons lightly scraping across beak. "I heard some big thing happened with the princesses when I came back south, but you ponies declare a holiday whenever Celestia eats cake."

"Arrgh!" Dash facehoofed. "I don't believe you, Gilda!"

The griffin sniffed through her beak, somehow. "Hey, just 'cause you never could get dates, doesn't mean I don't have guys chasing me sometime." She stretched and flared her wings out, cat-vain.

"So, in that world, Ah wasn't brainwashed by her? An' she fought ta save Equestria from an evil Celestia?" Applejack brought everyone's attention back to the scenario they'd been shown. She snorted. "Sounds like a lot o' horseapples ta me. An evil Celestia?"

"It's not impossible," Twilight said, looking downhearted. "Though I don't like it. But more to the point, that was their Chrysalis? She made one decision ours didn't, and that was enough to make her good?"

"Not to criticize, but it was probably more than that," Fluttershy said. "She made good decisions and she had ponies around her who supported them and encouraged her to make even more of them. Our Chrysalis just spent her entire life alone and I suppose it soured her."

She shivered and Fluttercruel rose to the surface long enough to say, "Believe me, I can understand that."

"It makes me feel worse for having beaten ours,  even if we had to," Rarity said, shaking her head sadly. She looked around at her friends. "It makes me wonder, how many monsters, ponies and otherwise, might have been saved if there'd been just one pony there to care for them."

"Sometimes it doesn't matter how many ponies there are there to care," Pinkie said, sounding unusually solemn. She looked at the black screen of the What-If machine, her mane seeming to hang limp, as she said, "Some ponies devour all the love everypony gives them and just demand more." Then she smiled and her mane poofed back up again. "But for the ones who don't, that's part of why I do my parties. So even the loneliest and saddest saddy-sad ponies know that somepony else does care about them!"

Twilight grinned at her friend's return to her usual happy self before she looked at her brother. He frowned at the screen. She winced to realize what he must be thinking. "Shiny, I'm sorry. I should have thought what that would have felt like to you."

"Huh? No, little sis, that's okay." Shiny smiled at her before looking curious again. "I'm even glad for Good Chrysalis. It's just, I wonder -- what must it be like with the me and Cadence of that world? Are we happy together or what?"
-
What If machine flickered.

What Shining Armor saw . . . was a Princess Cadence with several piercing in hear ears. Her main was straight, and gradiated to almost black at the ends. Her regalia was polished gray or black, and she wasn't wearing a crown, it bore a strong resemblance to the regalia worn by Queen Celestia. Her eyeshadow was the same dark color. Also around her neck was a chain with a pad lock that seemed to be just for decoration.

Her face also more sunken, and her expression showed no joy, almost contempt for those around her. Her wings were likewise not as happily kept.

Her cutie mark was still the crystal heart, but broken in two.

Her face seemed to scream not only was she not happy, but that she detested happiness.

Shining Armor couldn't believe looking at this inversion of his beloved wife.

He was going to ask the what-if to turn off, when he looked at the broken pathetic creature that trotted three steps behind her.

This stallion did not raise his head, he did not make eye contact with anypony around him. He dragged himself behind her. The shield cutie mark, from what Shining Armor could see at least, seemed to be the same, maybe.

The look in the stallion's eyes was that of a beaten animal.

"C-Ca-Cadene, I mean Cadenza!"

"What?" She looked at him with anything but love.

"I-I was thinking-"

"Your first mistake."

"-ma-maybe Twiley and her friends could, m-maybe, we could always use the help?"

She struck him so hard with her horseshoe it loved a bruise.

"You mean that worthless brat Auntie wasted her time and mine and a dragon egg on?"

The Shining Armor on the screen only tried to make himself smaller in front of his wife.

She poked him hard in the chest, actually making him grunt in pain. "You're a loser. Your parents are losers. Your little sister is a loser. That pet dragon of hers is a loser. And her friends are all pathetic losers who hadn't done anything meaningful in their lives! Just like you! You should be licking my hooves clean that I keep you around at all you sad sack of-"

"SHUT IT OFF! SHUT IT OFF! SHUTITOFF!" Shining Armor screamed. He was struggling not to cry. "How can . . . how can here be a world where my love with Cadence turned into such a mockery!? No! NO DON'T SHOW ME!" Shining Armor's entire body was shaking. Seeing himself be twisted into a selfish, self-serving brat of a stallion by Discord hadn't sent such shockwaves of pain through his chest.

Twilight Sparkle stomped over to the what if machine. "YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY YOU KEEP GETTING SO MUCH ABUSE?! IT'S BECAUSE YOU KEEP SHOWING SUCH HORRIBLE WORLDS WHETHER ANYPONY ASKS FOR THEM OR NOT! THAT'S WHY! YOU HAVE NOPONY TO BLAME FOR YOUR MISERIES BUT YOURSELF!"

Four metal walls came down around Twilight Sparkle and what if machine.

"W-what is this!?"

"This what-if scenario, can only be viewed by you, due to its sensitive historical content. Please enjoy."

On the screen was a younger Princess Celestia, happily prancing about, her head high with pride.

The Windigos . . . didn't try to freeze all life in the world to death . . . Instead. They did as Princess Celestia had intended them to. As she had bargained from Entropy to. THough here, the Windigos were made of flames. Having been cut out of Celestia's own essence. And so were perfectly obedient. And the Wingidos, with Celestia overseeing them, had brought about peace, equally, and happiness to the three tribes.

"YES YES! IT DID IT! ME ME ME! I BROUGHT PEACE AND SUNLIGHT TO THE WORLD! IN YOUR FACE MOM AND DAD! I DID IT!" Celestia laughed to the heavens. "I WAS RIGHT! RIGHT! RIGHT! You jerks and losers wanted these ponies to learn from their mistakes? Forget that! I fixed everything! I did what all of you were too tied up in rules to even try! I did i! By myself!  That makes me better than all of you!"

"S-STOP!!"

The four metal walls raised.

Both Sparkle siblings were now on the floor, hugging their back legs, crying.

Meanwhile, the what-if machine, showed an orange pegasus filly, sneaking into Ponyville spa for shelter from the storm.

The store was mostly dark. Scootaloo jumped out of her skin when she heard a kind but accented voice behind me. "Good evening little Miss, but I'm afraid we're closed right now."

"O-oh I'm sorry! I promise I'm not a thief!"

"If you were a thief you wouldn't be huddled with a blanket." Cherry Blossom looked out the window. "Would you like to stay for a little while? It would be fair too unkind to send any pony out into that whether, that's why I'm here myself, that whether team I sometimes think don't know what they're doing, what are those pegasi thinking, no offense."

"None taken. I can't fly."

"That so?" She knelt down low and lifted the little filly up so they were eye level. "I think you look pretty to me, whether you can fly or not."

"R-really?" When was the last time she'd been given a compliment?

Cherry Blossom nuzzled her. "Yes, you are still, how you foals say these days, awesome?"
-
"Well, that was nice..." Rainbow Dash admitted, giving a small smile. "...At least she's okay in that universe..."

Fluttershy was comforting Twilight as best she could.

"One named Fluttershy, you-"

The What If Machine seemed to yelp as Fluttershy STARED back for a moment.

"...Should continue to do that in peace..." it said, then its screen blinked. "...How am I sweating? I am a machine."

"The Stare does that to you..." Pinkie Pie said.

"Good, now please be nice and show us something nice," Fluttershy asked, back to asking politely and nicely.

The What If Machine lit up again.



Twilight thought of all the possible ways that they could win this fight with her own potential future. A part of her felt that ending this Nightmare was the end of something bigger. Like the last link in a chain.

That's when she realized. 'If she became this strong by absorbing all the previous Twilights...'

She had the voice in her head tell her friends...and they accepted the risk.

Touch Minty Pie. Cast the time spell. But mix it with a copy of Rancor's portal to Oblivion...and take a moment of distraction to impale her horn right into Eclipse and use the countless Twilight's inside her as a medium.

And merge with themselves from every single loop of Dark World.

"Our friendship is ETERNAL!"

But Twilight herself got unforseen aid. In addition to the Twilights who'd been 'failures' in the devil's eyes...her parents. Countless copies of them.

All willing to merge with their daughter to give her a fighting chance.

Twilight wasn't sure how this spell worked, but she did know there was no Law of Conversation of Souls. And the spell was one the like NO ONE had ever realized could exist.

*Time will march forwards. This endless cycle will end!"

The potential Twilight covered her face with a wing as white arms wrapped around the six heroes before her like a cocoon and exploded in a flash of bright light.

Rainbow Dash and the Princesses shielded their eyes then their jaws dropped as they saw the result.

"This isn't possible!" Nightmare Eclipse snarled, staring at Amicitia before her. And she wasn't alone.

FIVE Alicorns and ONE Shenlong (Dragon God) stood before her and her own five Nightmares.

Princess Bubbles, Nine of Wands and Concept of Determination and Persistence (and Mailmares)

Queen Libra, Queen of Coins and Concept of the Mortal World.

Tianlong, Element of Metal (as Tiamat was of Fire and Bahamut of Wind) The Protector and Guardian of the World

Princess Bona Spes, Three of Swords and Concept of Growing Despite Adversity and Optimism.

Princess Maya, Ace of Cups and Concept of Fantasy (needless to say, she would work hand in hand with Pandora) and Escapes (as in 'Escapes from Stress).

And Princess Amicitia, The Magician and Concept of Magic and Happy Endings.

"It worked!" Apple Pie/Bona Spes cheered, hoping around and looking at her new wings and horn.

"Wow, I look epic!" Spike/Tianlong exclaimed, looking over his new massive form, though his armor and general appearance was more heroic than frightening.

"You look lovely, Spike," Rarity/Libra said, giving him a nuzzle.

"I hope my muffins recognize me like this," Derpy/Bubbles remarked, her eyes still wall eyed.

"Ah guess Ah'm gonna be away a bit longer, Applebloom," Applejack lamented, but knew she would still be able to visit her sister (Fauna Luster had reassured her of that during her ascension).

Mirror glared at the group in front of her. "Yah know how much damage yer gonna cause if six Nightmares and Six Gods fight?"

Libra put a hoof to her chin. "Well, obviously less than you've caused, darlings. But I can take care of that problem."
   
Libra's horn glowed bright and she drove it into the ground, herself, and caused a surge of magic to rip through the ground. Suddenly, it split open, forming a massive, several mile wide crater in the earth. But what was on the edge wasn't destroyed, instead it was DISTORTED. Unharmed, untouched, just space itself was bent to create the battlefield.

Eclipse narrowed her eyes. "You think this changes one thing? You're still me myself, you can't escape me."

"You're right. I am the light and you are the shadow. Now let's see which burns away or smothers the other."

The two Twilight Sparkles unleashed spells on one another, attacks canceling one another.

Granfalloon sent a wave of false happiness at Apple Pie, who retaliated with a wave of Optimism. The two forces canceling.

Manacle tried to hold back Bubbles with chains, but she shattered them and a bubble shaped energy field clashed with weapons made of lightning.

"Yah know yah hate this world of lies as much as meh, Rare," Mirror said, throwing several razor sharp mirror shards at her.

Libra rose up pillars of rock to block as if the pillars were her own hooves. "Yes, I do...but I am the Bride of All. I am the Mortal World my Groom needs, not the one I want."

Applejack and Whisper fought in a rapidly changing illusion world, each changing it to try and get the upperhoof on the other.

Spike charged through Bannerette's fire, the flames that could burn a dragon hardly scorching his hide before the two slammed into each other and fought like a pair of gigantic crocodiles.

"Enough!" Eclipse yelled. "Time stop, time reverse. You will wonder forever!"

"No! Time move forwards, time progress, we will march on!"

Two clocks manifested, one's hands trying to move forwards, the other back, until finally both shattered and time moved normally.

The dark Nightmare roared in fury. "That's it! Formation!"

"Not this time! Formation!"

Both sets of Bearers formed up and summoned their Elements. Seconds later two OCEANS of rainbows collided with one another. One trying to destroy everything, the other trying to protect everything. They fought and struggled against one another, rainbow colored shockwaves parting the clouds above.

"You can't defeat yourself, me," Eclipse stated. "I still exist! You WILL become me!"

"No. I. Won't," Amicitia explained. "Even if we have to keep you in a stalemate here until the end of days, I will never let you destroy this world again!"

"Good thing you won't have to!" yelled Rainbow Dash, flying up and joining hooves with Derpy. "You've still got me!" she announced

"And us!" Celly announced, she and Luna flying up and joining in, Elements reigniting.

"And me!" Minty Pie yelled, leaping up onto Amicitia's back and putting all the elemental power her sword could produce into the beam.

"...Thanks...we're not alone...You may have friend Eclipse, but so long as you keep seeing this world as nothing of value to you, you six have no one to cover you. No one to have your back," The Alicorn of Magic stated as their Rainbow finally began to overpower Eclipse's. "There are no 'NPC's' in this world, and that fact is why this nightmare ends now!"

"No!" yelled Eclipse as her group's rainbow was overtaken and the darkness was washed away in a cascade of light.

The what-if machine shut down. And Fluttershy saw the Sparkle brother and sister were STILL on the floor crying. They hadn't really cared about the uplifting and epic clash of the titans the what-if machine had shown the others.

"I'm sorry, but kindness isn't the cure for this sadness," Maud Pie said. "I hope Coffee Swirl is alright."

"Me too." Fluttercruel said.
-
Shining Armor conjured the magical hammer construct that Pandora had given him.  “I could really use a big hug from Cadence right now… but since she’s not here, I bet smashing this machine to bits would make me feel better.”

The machine whirred, lights blinking with something like alarm.  “Then you would never know.”

Shining hesitated.  “Know what?”

“Whether the Shining that is Loyalty ever married his Cadence.”

Shining heaved a deep sigh, then allowed the hammer to dissipate.  “Show me.”

A grove deep in the Everfree appeared on the screen.  “So you’re the one who’s been hunting me,” said Shining Armor the Ranger.  “I don’t know who you are, but you’re on my turf now.  If you think…”

A lone mare stepped out of cover, faded orange with her golden mane uncovered.

Shining froze.  “Applejack?  I didn’t even recognize you.  Where have you been?”  He grinned and started to rush towards her, but faltered, his blood running cold.  She had a runed wheel and five slash marks on her flank now, no trace of apples anywhere.  “Applejack?  Say something.  Please.  What happened?  What’s wrong?”

“Ah’ll get right to the point,” said Applejack, and then the world fell out from underneath them.

In the studio. “That’s odd,” said Rarity, tapping a hoof on the machine.

Rainbow Dash shrugged her hooves.  “Maybe it’s busted.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Shining Armor.  “It’s not…”

“Nothing but a blank screen,” said Gilda.  “Yep, totally busted.  Hey, maybe we can break out of this lockdown thing before it fixes itself!”

“That’s a good idea,” said Twilight, wiping her tears with a hoof, then giving up and sobbing again.  “You do that.”

Shining started to object again, but a trembling Applejack spoke first.  “No good.  They can’t see the Wolf or that place they’re in, even if it’s just a picture.”

Applejack and Shining Armor froze.  “Wait, how come you can see it?” said both of them at once.

Besides them, only Pinkie Pie and her sister kept watching the screen.  Pinkie hoofed some popcorn over to Maud, who ate it expressionlessly.

On the screen.
“This can’t be happening,” said Shining Armor, backing away… but the grey fog gave him no place to run or hide.  “We killed the Blank Wolf.”

The beast looming over him was as large and fearsome as the other Wolf had been, but the shaggy fur was orange and gold instead of white, the haunting eyes green rather than gold.  “Why so surprised, sugarcube?  Didn’t Cadence tell ya there’d be another one?”

“Applejack…”  Shining’s voice choked as he finally recognized his friend in the beast before him.  “I knew it was selfish, what we did, but I had no idea.  I’m so sorry…”

A brow lifted.  “Don’t go blamin’ yerself for this, now.”

“But…”

“Ah chose this path, and Ah walked it, every step of the way,” she rumbled.  “Ah befriended the Pup who should have been the Wolf’s heir.  Ah fought by his side, and when the chaos swallowed him whole…  for mah friends, mah kinfolk, for the sake of the world… By the grace of Ma Fate, Ah am the Blank Wolf, the one and only.”

“And now what?” Shining demanded.  “You’re going to finish what the other Wolf started?”  He lit his horn, readying a shield spell.

The Wolf actually barked a laugh!  “No.  And Ah didn’t track you down to tell ya my life’s story, neither.  Yer gonna tell me all about what happened with you and the first Wolf you met, before the world changed.”

In the studio.
“This isn’t what I wanted to see!” shouted Shining, grabbing the TV monitor in his hooves and shaking it.  “This doesn’t have anything to do with Cadence.”

“Shining Armor will be patient,” said the machine testily.  “I’m getting…  to…  thaaaat….”  The picture suddenly blanked out for real, and the security doors and shutters began to retract.

Rarity popped up from behind a cabinet, holding an unplugged power cord with her magic.  “Found it!  Good work distracting that horrid machine, Shining.”

“Finally!” grumbled Gilda, stretching her wings.  “I gotta get some air!”

“Race ya!” said Rainbow Dash, galloping out the doors after her.

Shining twitched.  “But, I have to know.”

“Ah reckon…  maybe we should just let this one go,” said Applejack, trying to put a comforting hoof on his shoulder.  Shining jerked away from her.  “Shining?  Sugarcube?  It’s me.”  She showed him her flank… three apples, plain and simple.  “Ah’m a pony the same as you are, like Ah was meant to be.  P- please, don’t look at me like that...”

Shining shook his head.  “You don’t understand.  I have to know what would have happened...”

“Most ponies never get to know,” rumbled the Blank Wolf.  “You’ll live.”

Shining Armor took one look over his shoulder, and fainted on the spot.
-
"Shining!" Twilight Sparkle, still heart broken that it was her mentors greatest failure that had shaped her into the wonderful pony she was, was even more dismayed at seeing her brother mysterious faint for no reason.

"Aren't you going to get while the getting is good?" Maud Pie asked Fluttershy.

"No. I promised I'd come back and stay, no tricks, and that's what I'm going to do."

Maud Pie said, "Coffee Swirl should be back with that rock coffee by now. I hope he's okay."

Though one of the camera telescopic lenses, it was shown, miles away, Coffee Swirl was epically defended the Pie rock farm from a big blue furry rock eating monster with a giant tongue.
-
Cadence trotted through the hole that Cheerilee had made smashing her way out, what seemed like ages ago.  She gasped.  "Shining!"

Shining Armor rose on shaky hooves.  "Cadence?"  He rushed into his wife's embrace, nuzzling fiercely.  "Cadence, I love you so much!"

Cadence blinked, smiling.  "I love you too, Shiny.  What brought this... on?"

Twilight looked up at her old foal-sitter with tear-streaked eyes and rushed to huddle against her flank.  

A rather confused Cadence made room for Twilight and draped a wing over her soothingly.  Then she saw Applejack with the Blank Wolf standing right there, and her expression darkened.

"Well, this is all kinds of awkward," said AJ.

The Wolf looked from pony to pony.  "This isn't MY fault."

"Why is that thing still here?" Shining hissed in Cadence's ear.

Not quietly enough...  Twilight lifted her head, flicking an ear.  "What thing?"

"Hey, don't you be talking about one of my friends that way," said Applejack.  "Oops..."

"Friend?  Are you out of your mind?"

Twilight started fuming.  The Blank Wolf covered his face with a paw.

"Well Ah was, but actually Ah'm feeling a lot better now, thanks for asking."

"I don't know what you two are talking about," snapped Twilight.  "But shouldn't we, oh... *unhook that crazy machine from the security system*, so we don't get locked in again?!!"

Pinkie Pie bounced past cheerfully.  "I'm on it!" she said, talking around the wrench in her mouth.
-
While Pinkie was headed towards the What-If Machine to unhook it from the security system, she took a glance at the screen that was showing Coffee Swirl fighting the rock-eating monster. Emphasis on "was."

"Hey, looks like Coffee Swirl already beat that thing and got the coffee! Which means he should be here in about..." Her tail suddenly curled up and quickly uncurled. "Hmm... curly tail... that means somepony's about to crash through the wall!"

As if on cue, Coffee Swirl crashed through the wall. To Pinkie's surprise, he was riding the creature from before.

"Whoa! You tamed that thing?" Pinkie gasped.

"I'm just as surprised as you are..." Coffee Swirl said, a rare grin on his face. "Turns out that this trooper here is normally quite docile, and your folks have actually given him rocks to eat in the past. But apparently something angered him and made him decide to eat all the rocks in the entire farm. I managed to snap him out of it, and he offered me a quick ride back. On the way here, he told me that he didn't have a name, and asked me to give him one. I call him Steve the Trooper. Say hello, Steve."

"...Yo," Steve said softly, before turning back towards the new hole in the wall. "I must now find more rocks to eat. Do you know of any good quarries around here, pie of pink? I wish to give your family some space for a while."

"...No, but there's a pretty good quarry in Neighpon," Pinkie suggested.

"Ah, Neighpon... now those are some good rocks." Steve raised his furry claw in a salute to Coffee Swirl. "May we meet again, swirler of coffee." He darted off to find more of his "prey."

Coffee Swirl's grin faded. " 'Swirler of Coffee?' Really?"
-
"Done..." Pinkie said, finishing unhooking the machine from the system.

The What If Machine reactivated and whimpered. "They all left...Nopony wanted to be with me at all..."

"Yeah..."

The machine looked around, realizing the only ones left were either there for other reasons and Fluttershy. No one had stayed simply because they had any interest in being near the machine.

"...I...I just wanted to have it my way for a change...Is that so wrong? That's all I wanted...I was just tired of being belittled..."

Fluttershy came over and pet the machine on the head. "I'm sorry we abused you. And there's nothing wrong with wanting things your way once in awhile, but you need to make sure you don't hurt others while doing so."

"I do not know how. I came from a world very different than this."

"Yeah, you did kinda come from an adult's cartoon series...not the best rolemodels..." Pinkie admitted.

"Then maybe I can teach you. I am kindness..." Fluttershy said.

"She could teach Discord to be nice," Maud said, a part of her seeming oddly proud of her.

Fluttershy blushed. "I wouldn't say that...But I can help."

The What If machine looked intently at the Pegasus. "Initiating learning mode. Read to absorb information."
-
Pinkie Pie looked around. "So Dashie and Gildie are out flying. Maud is sitting next to Coffee Swirl. Fluttershy is with the what if machine. Shining Armor and Twilight are with Cadence. AJ with the big bad wolf that I don't know about. And Rarity is standing right next to me!"

"So it would seem darling."

"I wonder how Cheerilee is doing with winning Big Mac's love before your sister does."

" . . . That puts me in an awkward position Pinkie Pie. Cheerilee is a foalhood friend. I was friends with her before I was friends with any of you, and she clearly cares about his future and was his math tutor through no pony was paying her a thing or she even liked him yet, she did it because she didn't want a pony like him to not know math just because he wanted to help support his family. But Red Gala is my elder sister. And she and Big Mac act like two parts of the same pony sometimes."


While the what-if machine was no longer connected to security, it was still connected to the monitors, and one, with only Twilight looking, showed her a continuation of Young Celestia, dressed similar to how evil Queen Celestia would one day, doing a victory dance at the fire Windigos having brought harmony and peace to the world.

"Celestia! Stop this! What are you doing?"

"Discord? Ha! You are asking me to stop? You are the one that taught me the stupidity of rules. And you were right! Had I followed the rules, then I never would have done this! Look! It's perfect!"

"Perfect!? You just replaced a set of rules for another set of rules! This is not what I meant when I said you shouldn't limit yourself with rules. This isn't what I meant at all!"

"Oh? And what are you going to do? Hm? Stop me?"

"Celly, you're crazy. And NOT in a good way. If I have to stop you, I will."

"Ah! This is rich. You? You want to be the good guy now?"


Twilight shuddered and pushed herself against her foal sitting more. "Cadence, it's good Princess Celestia that such a loving mare isn't it?"

"Yes . . . yes it is Twilight." Cadence said slightly confused.

"Even if, maybe, she had to learn some hard lessons along the way?"

"Twilight are you okay?"

"I'm . . . I'm just happen we have Princess Celestia to watch over us."

Meanwhile, AJ and Shining Armor were having a stare off. "Look Shinin' Armor, Ah've BEEN one of Snow's kind, they don't go huntin' somepony unless there's a darn good reason."

"YOu . . . you were . . . " Shining sighed. "So what was that like?"

"My gut first told me ta eat ya because ya didn't belong. Then it told me ya were too important to how the world's gone for that ta happen."

Twilight looked at them confused. "Will somepony tell me what's going on here?"

"NO!" Shining Armor said, "Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye: I am NEVER telling you in any shape or form in or out of 'canon',  'what is going on here' Twiley."

Cadence wondered how the baby sitter was doing.

The camera answered that with one of the studio's many windows and it's telescopic lens showing the inside of Zecora's hut.

"This fillies are trouble,
Next time I charge double." Zecora said, her strips currently inverted due to poison joke the baby had gotten on her during a magic surge.

"Geeze, we need to start wrapping up these plot threads, or . . . or . . . I feels like this party has been going for weeks."

Maud Pie sighed. "Coffee Swirl. Just remember this when you next complain about being ignored. My sister's gone through nine sets of batteries and we still haven't formally introduced me."

And Shining Armor still didn't know what the what-if machine had been trying to show him with that meeting of his loyal self and AJ's wolf self.

Meanwhile, the telescopic lens turned and zoomed out another window, this time at RD and Gilda at the Ponyville Spa.

"Miss Rainbow Dash, a pleasure it is to see you. And a friend you have brought, who may be Miss?" Aloe asked as she bowed.

"Name's Gilda, I'm just along cause Dash wanted to come."

"I . . . I just cause I felt you girls deserve to hear . . . you're a great family, and anypony should feel honored to be a part of it. And being sisters is a gift. Cherish it."
Pinkie Pie's 4th Wall Breaking Show epi 10 Part 9
Pony POV Series 
Pinkie Pie's 4th Wall Breaking Variety Show episode 10
PART 9
By Alex Warlorn

Pinkie Pie, "N-n-n-n-n-nine . . . I don't know if I want to do this anymore."

Parts added by:
Kendell2
MtangaLion
Kendell2
Alex Warlorn
MtangaLion 
Alex Warlorn
Alex Warlorn
Alex Warlorn
Persona22, Ardashir, MtangaLion, Alex Warlorn
Ardashir
MtangaLion
Kendell2
Ardashir
Alex Warlorn
Kendell2
MtangaLion
Alex Warorn
MtangaLion 
Jarkes
Kendell2
Alex Warlorn
MtangaLion

alexwarlorn.deviantart.com/gal…

Pinkie Pie, "And here they are again, and again, for time number . . . nine . . . nine . . . blech, D-Da Rules:
1. What you put in the comments appears in the story.
2. Nopony besides me can see beyond the fourth wall or interact with it and I can't spill the beans about us being out-and-out fiction to the others.
3. The camera can’t leave the studio.
4. The characters can be from any generation, toy or comic but they have to be from “My little Pony”
5. Everything that happens here is non-canon (except the Tartarus break out thingie, but not the big battle).
6. Have Fun "


Cover by Kendell2
MLP FiM Copyright of Hasbro
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When Twilight's friends had come over for their scheduled 'Council Of Friendship Meeting' (just really an excuse to socialize and have fun), they were surprised when Twilight 'check lists for check lists' Sparkle wasn't there to greet them with Spike on the dot. Spike said Twilight had research that had run a little long, though even the baby dragon seemed a tad concerned. But the girls only had to wait for a short while until Twilight stepped out of the castle.

Twilight Sparkle looked around at her friends, and sighed. "Fine, let's hear it."

"Uh, hear what Sugar Cube?" AJ asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Whatever it's going to turn out to be okay, let's just hear it. One of you is secretly a serial killer?"

"How do you kill serial?" Pinkie Pie asked.

"Uh, daring, are you feeling well?" Rarity asked, noting the rarely said word 'killer'. The word killed was one rarely tossed about, the only time in recent memory it was relevant to them was when King Sombra had been obliterated by the Crystal Heart, but the only tears shed for the dark tyrant's death were those for a lost soul.

"You're part of a massive conspiracy that silences and eliminates anypony or anything that might upset the status quo of Equestria, only answerable to yourselves?"

"That sounds kinda cool, but no," Rainbow Dash said.

"NO IT ISN'T!" Twilight snarled. "It's a mockery of everything Equestria was meant to be! Everything it's supposed to be!"

"Uh . . . okay?" Dash flew back some. Twilight's composure had slipped for a brief moment and that was enough to make Dash shudder.

"So . . . so let's move on. You're social opportunists who were using me from the start?"

Rarity shook her head. "Darling, as much as I always look for a chance to expand my business connections: when we first met I helped you with your mane like I would ANY pony. And I went into Everfree because Fluttershy was, and because I wasn't about to let somepony from outside of Ponyville just wander blindly through Everfree."

"And really," Pinkie Pie said, "That really doesn't make much sense. Remember how we all buttered you up trying to get those Gala tickets? I think that's about the ONLY time we really ALL acted like that. And we probably would have done that to anypony we knew with tickets. Sure, Dashie moonlighted with the Wonderbolts during the Equestrian Games, and Rarity two-timed us and lied to us on your birthday so she could socialize with the fancy ponies more, but neither of those really had anything to do with you."

RD and Rarity lowered their heads some.

"So is Equestria at a war that'll make a mockery of all our non-lethal methods of fighting, and have us all slaughtered unless we're MORE savage and cold-blooded on the battlefield than the enemy?"

"Um, not last time I checked, uh, no," Fluttershy said.

"Last 'war' we had was with the Changelings and nopony died," Rainbow Dash pointed out. "And that was when we got ambushed."

"Are we under occupation of sexist monsters who have brainwashed all the male into being sexist monsters too and broken us mares into slaves and sawed off our horns?"

"Um, Twilight, do you have a fever? Why don't we go inside? Please?" Fluttershy put a hoof to Twilight's forehead.

Twilight shook her off. "Answer the question."

"No," AJ said with a stern face, feeling extra disgusted at that one. Spike shook his head too. Rarity pointed at her own horn wonder how Twilight had missed it.

"So is Celestia secretly Tirek?"

"NO!" All her friends said together.

"We just kicked Tirek's sorry flank back to Tartarus, Twilight! You can't have forgotten that already!" Rainbow Dash pointed out in disbelief. "Remember? New castle? Epic new rainbow superpowers?"

Rainbow demonstrated by letting the blue glow shine a little bit, still loving how it felt.

Twilight breathed in deep. "So is Celestia at the top of a racist supremacist system with Alicorns at the top, then unicorns, then pegasi, then earth ponies, followed by everycreature else?"

AJ shook her head. "Twili' are ya feelin' okay? I PAY Daisy Jo and her girls for their milk! Same with the sheep and their wool! In bits! We have a contract!"

"And darling, you and I both know that elites aren't rude over species! I know I'm not a Canterlot native, but nothing I've seen suggests they base their bad attitude on race."

"Plus, racism kinda died out after the Windigos nearly destroyed pony civilization by feeding off of facial hatred, remember? The fancy historical play?" Rainbow Dash said. "And, well..." she said, pointing to everypony. "Does anypony give a darn about us all being different races?"

"Spike, have I been planning to betray my friends in some twisted selfish interpretation of harmony and become a goddess?"

"Uh, no. And Twilight, erm, you kinda already are, remember?" Spike pointed at her wings. "You're Friendship, not Harmony..."

"Okay, am I having a existential crisis over the realization that there are multiple universes, and that the choices of other Twilight Sparkles somehow negate or trivialize the choices, I, myself make?"

"Besides that freak out you had over accidentally getting some check lists out of order because you insisted on trying to read three books at once while organizing, no."

"I did NOT freak out!"

"No offense Twili, but ya do freak when things are outta order, worse than Rarity."

"I have a business to keep afloat all by my lonesome! Besides, I have my messy rooms, they just serve a purpose."

"Okay, are we stuck in an ever repeating temporal loop that will never ever be fixed, living the same time over and over, becoming all powerful to where an army of fully empowered Tireks would be a triviality for one of us to take care of while drunk? Destroying any hopes for the future because there is none rendering all that power and knowledge meaningless?"

Pinkie Pie look at a pocket watch. And then quickly whispered with Time Turner who happened to be just passing by to where he parked his blue shed.

"Nope!" Pinkie Pie said politely and cheerfully.

"Is an evil, potential future, superpowered version of myself trapping us in a timeloop to punish a villain?"

The pink party pony talked with Time Turner again. "Nope!"

"Do we have an extra-reality self-righteous visitor who none of us could hope to take on in a fight, lectures us, brow beats Princess Celestia, and leads to the reveal we live in a dead universe while we all fall for the manipulations of an equally overpowered extra-reality magic eater that can eat the Elements power when we try to use it?"

"No," Fluttershy said looking up at the sky, shivering a little.

"And we just beat a magic eater," Rainbow Dash explained. "And our big friendship powered Rainbow cannon thing seemed to kick his flank pretty nicely."

"We're all about to be turned into hedonists who see mating as something done in the name of pleasure rather than a sacred union that's meant to be preserved for marriage?"

"No way!" Applejack shook her head. "That's nuts! No offense to anypony, but Ah ain't got TIME for that sort of thing! And Big Mac and Cheerilee aren't tah the 'admit we're in love' part yet."

Fluttershy blushed deep red and hide her face behind her mane at the mere idea of being mounted by a stallion.

"Me and Cheese Sandwich aren't past the holding hooves stage yet," Pinkie Pie said.

"Me and Soarin' are just friends, besides, he'll never leave Spitfire."

Rarity also blushed. "Twilight! I can ASSURE YOU am not that kind of mare! I have a high standard for stallions."

Spike looked at himself in a mirror looking for imperfections.

Twilight sighed. "Okay, so there's some horrible, cynical, pessimistic, ahem, excuse me, 'realistic' social truth I've been blissfully ignoring all this time because I'm a pampered filly whose completely ignorant of how the real world works?"

Her friends all looked at each other.

"Twilight," Rainbow Dash asked, "Is this about how I was a day late in returning that Daring Do book to the library? I told you I just wanted to read it over twice. I said I was sorry!"

"NO! NO! What is it? Tell me already! Tell me! I'm sick of it already! Does my brother secretly now hate all changelings whether they work for Chrysalis or not?! I can't take it anymore! Just tell me already! Are we about to be hit by a deadly virus where my years of studying magic and friendship prove useless as we die one by one?! Are any of us secretly changelings?! Am I really a mental patient and I just hallucinate I've been Celestia's student in Ponyville?! Or am I a human in one imagining ALL of this? Lies are a gift to society?! Ponies who are born poor should just smile and nod and stay poor?! Nopony's choices matter because we live in a caste system!? We're all one big computer program about to be shut down?! Or am I not the target this time? Is it Rarity because she has so many rules for herself that she needs to have her nose rubbed in them!? TELL ME ALREADY!!!! Give me the off hoofed remark that'll reveal that the truths and ideals I've fought for and learned about for the last four years are just little niceties that have no place in how life really works!" Twilight shouted at the sky. "I KNOW YOU WANT TO! Just say it already! Come on you big bullies!"

Ponies stopped on the street, worried their princess was having another break down.

Drenched in sweat, her breathing haggard, Twilight fainted.

Several hours later, Twilight Sparkle was in her bed, surrounded by her friends.

Spike had Nurse Redheart look her over as a house call, castle call, whatever. Spike had to fight tooth and nail to convince them that restraining Twilight would only make things WORSE given she had included 'hallucinating mental patient' as part of her rant.

The Alicorn slowly woke up, seeing the loving and worried faces of her friends.

"So are you ready to tell us what that was all about now darling?" Rarity asked smiling politely.

Twilight Sparkle sighed. "I was experimenting with the world mirror. Now that I can keep the portal open, regardless of the phases of the moons, I figured that using a traditional 'magic looking glass' spell on it couldn't hurt."

Everypony (and dragon), sighed. Yet another disaster caused by the Princess of Friendship's magical experiments. Was it any wonder Mayor Mare requested that the castle have measures to keep Twilight's experiments from effecting the town by accident?

"Don't give me those looks. Progress and experimentation inherently has risk, that's part of life. And the vast majority of my research has HELPED ponies. . .And...and I don't put anypony at risk but myself if I can help it, unlike...I was . . . hoping maybe . . . I could find a new connection to the world with the good King Sombra that Celestia . . . that Celestia was best friends with. Maybe help him in a way that wouldn't cause a sympathetic-karmic-inversion in our world. After all, I was able to help with Sunset's new world without that happening, so maybe it was possible. But I wasn't just seeing alternate worlds anymore . . . I was seeing possibilities, I had gone past the quantum state accidentally due to how broad I set the spectrum. Then . . . I was seeing the shadows of thoughts, of what a lot of ponies out there THINK Equestria is like, or . . . their world is so full of hardship and unfairness, that a more fair world feels UNFAIR to them."

"Like how a lot bully poor Minty."

"What was that Pinkie Pie?"

"NOTHING! Continue please!"

"The point is . . . I lost track of myself. I couldn't tell where other worlds ended and mine began. I keep seeing it over and over, where the Equestria we've been working so hard to protect, to make just a little bit better every day of our lives, was just a farce, that everything we believed in were just polite lies to keep societies gears turning. That friendship was just a drug fed to the herds so they wouldn't rise up against their masters. There were ponies . . . out there . . . who didn't WANT our Equestria to be real, or at least, they didn't want a place where ponies like Suri and Flim and Flam were exceptions, not the norm. They wanted an Equestria were EVERYPONY was like Suri, or Lightinng Dust, or Flim and Flam, or Blueblood deep down. That it was all just polite lies. They wanted an Equestria were miracles just dumb luck instead of proof that you shouldn't give up on tomorrow or your morals because things get tough. We . . . we aren't the Equestria they want."

Her friends, Spike included, all hugged her.

"Well, that's too bad for them!" Rainbow Dash said.

"Yes darling," Rarity said, "If they can't enjoy a happy place without some uncouth underbelly, then that's their problem."

"There's plenty of dirty and unhappy stuff out there already. It doesn't need to be here," Pinkie Pie said.

"And Twili," Applejack said. "Do yah think yer friends in that world Sunset's stayin' in believe that stupid stuff about friendship bein' just a game?"

"...No, I don't think so..."

"Even if we didn't completely save good Sombra's world, Ah think their Princesses are a lot happier as nice gals than monsters..."

"I saw it in the mirror when I managed to view it...they were. They're trying to save Sombra..."

"Maybe there are worlds that ain't as good as they are here, maybe those ponies are happy there. But that just means we should be happier this one's real."

Pinkie Pie nodded. "Yeah! And if another me is a big meanie pants? That just means me deciding not to be is better, isn't it?"

Fluttershy gave a smile. "And...even though he fell for Tirek's temptation...Discord didn't go out of his way to hurt ponies because he could anymore. Friendship definitely means a lot to him. Friendship is anything but a happy little lie for him now."

"Ah think he's the ultimate proof what you're sayin' ain't right, Twili," Applejack pointed out.

"Yeah! Have you seen him smile when he's around Fluttershy or being nice?!" Pinkie asked, hopping over. "His smile before was all 'hahaha! look how bad I am!' but his smile when he's a good guy is all 'Oh I'm really truly happy!'"

"...I think what Pinkie is trying to say is that Discord seems a heck of a lot happier on our side," Rainbow translated. "...I hate to admit it, but I saw him cringe when he handed us over to Tirek, that ain't the old Discord..."

"And dear Trixie has changed as well," Rarity pointed out. "I don't think there's been one time we've interacted with her since the Alicorn Amulet incident where she didn't enjoy our company."

"And don't forget Babs," Applejack continued. "She's a nice little sweetheart now, and a LOT happier as the Crusaders' friend instead of their bully."

"...You're right...But what about Suri and the Flim Flams?"

"...You said it yourself, Twilight, there are some RARE ponies who aren't kind, but Suri...I believe she's become lead astray, not that she's proof of some greater darkness in this world."

"And Granny met up with the Flim Flams at an expo," Applejack admitted. "Last Ah saw them we left on good terms and they were actin' legit."

"And Lightning Dust actually THANKED me for calling her out," Rainbow Dash explained. "She wasn't a bad girl, she just needed a reality check."

Twilight blinked...then gave a small smile. "...I guess we have made the world better..."

Each of her friends looked to each other and nodded. "Even if yah don't count savin' it a few times," Applejack pointed out.

"And I'm quite glad we live in the world we do because of that dear," Rarity said with a smile. "And it's that way because it's the world we strive for, not because there's some conspiracy about it."

"And if there was, we'd kick its flank and make the world nice for real," Rainbow snarked with her characteristic smirk.

"The six most powerful magic thingies in our world are powered by Friendship, Laughter, Kindness, Honesty, Generosity, and Loyalty! Those things can't be a lie if they're that strong! That'd be too big a plot twist even for a little kids show!" Pinkie Pie cheerfully pointed out.

Fluttershy nodded. "...Choosing to be kind is a choice, Twilight...just like choosing to be mean...so long as we choose to make the world better, we don't have to worry..."

Spike finally jumped up. "And I don't know about you, but  no matter what some silly ponies say, a world were friendship saves the day? That's the world I'm glad we live in!"

"Yes," Twilight's eyes misted over. "So am I!" She sat up in bed and hugged her friends, who happily turned it into a group hug.

Outside, the crystal palace shined just a little bit brighter.
Twilight Sparkle's Fustraitons
A short story of nothing. Not related to the pony pov series at all. Twilight starts asking some very strange questions to her friends.

MLP:FiM: Copyright of Hasbro
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(Contains: sexual themes and violence/gore)
You know that the world is old, but civilization is much older than most ponies realize. Elves, Humans, Raptorians, Grundles, Centaurs, Troggles, and countless others lived and prospered long before ponies. However, while some creatures had numbers to be a nation, they were disorganized and too spread out to form a cohesive civilization. The creatures went either living in isolation from other creatures or leading a nomadic life in search of a better place to find food and prosper.

The only constant was fear of dragons. I know you and your friends had a difficult time with that one red dragon outside of Ponyville, but at least Fluttershy was able to convince him to leave. The ancient ones were beyond reason. With few exceptions, they were beasts to their core. They had no written language, no sense of society, no history, no interest beyond feeding, mating and acquiring hordes. They attacked settlements, ate anyone or anything in their path, and stole anything of value for themselves. Had things remained thus, they might have become the dominant species of the world by sheer strength alone.

The beginning of true civilization came from the centaurs. In the face of the harsh world they inhabited, they thrived and advanced. Among their accomplishments, they found the best ways to farm land, made the first irrigation system, and they made the first steel, and used it to craft better tools and weapons. Unfortunately, these advances attracted the attention of dragons.

Things changed when a centaur named Orion became king of the largest centaur tribe. Orion was faster, stronger and cleverer than any other centaur in the tribe. He could go off alone with just his sword and bow, and be back by nightfall with enough game to last the tribe weeks. Even the most vicious predators were no match for him. From wolves to hydras, all fell to Orion.

However, Orion's greatest feat came just after he became king. He went up into the mountains and found a dragon feeding on a herd of wild cattle. Orion knew that it was close enough that it would spot the village from the sky, and attack it. Using his wits and cunning, he lured the dragon into a long, narrow tunnel in the mountains, where the giant creature couldn't easily move, then stayed to its side and got in dozens of small cuts into the dragon's hide. The dragon couldn't stop him because the tunnel was too thin to turn to breathe fire or even see where to strike at him until it finally succumbed to blood loss. The first non-dragon in history to slay one.

Orion returned with the dragon's head as proof of his deed, and was hailed as a hero like no other before him, and the legend spread across the land until there was no centaur alive who had not heard of Orion the Hunter. He united the factions of the centaurs together into one nation.

The unified centaurs began building a great city, a testament to their new strength. All this got the attention of another dragon. But, when it came, the centaurs were ready. Orion taught them the weaknesses he'd seen in the dragon he had killed. They constructed great projectile weapons to launch into the air, cutting through scales, breaking bones, and tearing flesh. The battle raged for hours, but finally ended with the centaurs victorious.

Drac'thanos, 'Dragon's Death' was the first of many cities that they built. The centaurs' might grew until they began to seek out the dragons instead of waiting for attacks. Whether the highest mountains, or the murkiest swamps they destroyed any dragon they found.  This wasn't revenge, it was ending a threat that gave them no quarter.

Their advances in technology, society and reputation as dragon slayers made them the envy of the known world. So much so that a decade into Orion's reign, an ogre kingdom attacked the centaurs. The ensuing conflict was brutal and costly, but the centaurs again won. However, Orion was not overly merciful. Once victory was claimed, he also claimed the ogres' lands as property of the centaurs, and all that lived there would henceforth owe allegiance to him and his people. thus the Great Centaur Empire was born.

For centuries the Empire steadily grew. The centaurs felt it was their duty to bring civilization to the rest of the world. Dozens of kingdoms were annexed into the Empire ,whether by force or by choice, and colonies were founded in lands beyond.

=

"Um, sorry to interrupt, Princess, but where were the ponies in all this?" Applejack asked.

I anticipated this question. Didn't make it kinder.

"Applejack, You'll want to brace yourself for a shock.  Ponies of that era, were in no position to affect the world. They were naught but dumb animals. They had no sapience, no conscience, no ego, no free will, no personal identities, and no cutie marks. Cutie marks only appear when ponies find and embrace their destinies and discover who they are. The ancient ponies did not have the capacity for such thought, and remained blank flanks from birth to death."

Applejack's eyes became wider and wider. "But...then how did they live?"

"Wildly. They knew nothing beyond the instincts of eat, breed and stay alive, and did what they had to in order to follow them."

"...What do ya mean 'did what they had to?'" I hear her dread, she's already guessed.

"As the Flutters attest, nature can be cruel, Applejack. Wild animals have neither the capacity nor the luxury of moral. Most of the world was still wild and savage, and those who were neither did not survive. If food was scarce, ponies fought over it, and the losers starved to death. Stallions would kill each other over the choice of mates, and mares had no interest which won, never batting an eye even while mating with the victor as the other lay dead. If a predator came, they would run, not caring if their fellow ponies were eaten. Death was constant, and those that died went unmourned and forgotten."

"But...what about family?" Applejack's coat looked greenish.

"Ponies stayed together out of necessity than familial bond or friendship. There is an instinct to defend one's young, but if they died the parents could have another."

Applejack looked like she might faint or be sick.

"Would you like a break?"

"N-no. No, Ah'll be fine." She cleared her throat.

"Very well. The tribes were separated and rarely intermingled. Earth ponies stayed to the plains, Unicorns and Flutterponies in the forests, Seaponies beneath the sea, and Pegasi amongst the clouds. If they ever did engage each other, it was over food or territory, and usually ended with one of them dead.

"Flutterponies stayed in hidden valleys. Sea Ponies hide beneath the waves, though one or two were seen by land creatures, often mistaken for merpeople. The remaining equine races weren't as reclusive. Their great strength and endurance made them targets targets of more advanced life. If not hunted for food they were used as beasts of burden. Many found you ugly, disturbing, having only a head where a centaur's body should be. Their myths had you as centaurs who had been punished by the gods.

"Earth ponies were used the most as simple labor, pulling carts, plows, heavy machinery and of course, as steeds. Unicorns were hunted, but never domesticated, there was no way to keep them from teleporting away or attacking with their magic. So instead they were often hunted as trophies. Their horns prized as status symbols and ingredients for mages and alchemist.

The Pegasi, were the favored of the centaurs. Their strength and flight made them ideal war horses. And were bred for war. Having pegasi pulling their chariots created the world's first air force. It allowed them to fly over city walls that would have held back ground troops, and taking away the dragons' advantage of flight in battle. Pegasi unconscious mimicked the centaurs in the three tribes era.

"No. Slavery is the forced labor or service of a sentient being. Ponies of that time had no sense of self, let alone a desire to do anything with their lives beyond living. Mostly, ponies that were owned by centaurs lived longer and more comfortably than their wild brethren. They were fed on a more regular basis, they were groomed and taken care of, and they were housed and kept safe from predators. What they had was not slavery. It was like the relationship you and your friends have with your pets."

"Ah...Ah guess Ah understand. Still don't like it."

=

You asked for the whole story, and it begins on an unseasonably cold summer night in Orionopolis, the Empire's capital.

The child of the reigning emperor, Chiron the Strong, had long been anticipated. Assuring the legacy going all the way back to Orion himself was so dire, that the emperors were allowed, and expected, to take at least four wives to improve the odds of siring a male child. Why male? Their society was patriarchal. Your matriarchal culture would have seemed just as strange. But theirs was incomparably extreme.

After years of trying, one of his wives became pregnant. However, when the day came for Lady Myrrha, the emperor's second eldest wife, to give birth, it wasn't a happy occasion. The baby wasn't due for two more months; and if you know the difficulties that can occur in premature birth, imagine them before medical science and magic were advanced enough to truly help.

Emperor Chiron was at his wits end. Lady Myrrha had been in labor for almost two days. The doctors had tried, but as time passed the odds of saving mother or child diminished. It was just before midnight when a nurse came to inform the emperor. The emperor's son was born, but they were unsure he would live through the night. Lady Myrrha's body had endured too much and lost too much blood.

The nurse advised him to spend the time she had left together. Chiron galloped full tilt into the chamber. Most of the doctors and nurses huddled around a table, inspecting the baby. Lady Myrrha lay on the bed, panting and drenched in sweat and blood, still breathing.

"Myrrha...can you hear me?" Chiron begged.

"Our...our son is here," she said breathlessly.

"Oh yes, he's here." He smiled. "You did wonderfully."

"Wha...what is his name?"

"I...why don't you decide?"

"But...it's the father's duty to name him."

"What's tradition if you don't break it occasionally?" He forced a laugh.

She thought over the possibilities, and even in her exhausted haze, she remembered a name she loved. A name that meant 'strong and great' for a prince who would become strong and great.

"Tirek. His name is Tirek." She smiled over at where the doctors worked over him. "He'll make it. I have faith in him. He fought his way into the world early, that's how much of a fighter he is."

"So, take his example and fight!" Chiron demanded. "He'll need his mother."

"He'll have Helena, Hermia, and Arachne as his mothers...and...he'll have...his father." She scarcely spoke the last word before she left this world.

Chiron was ready to cry, but he didn't. A centaur man wasn't supposed to cry. So he bottled his grief and simply turned to the doctors looking over his son.

"What can be done for my son?" The Emperor cleared his throat.

"He's breathing, and he's moving his arms and legs Your Highness, but he's still very small and weak. I've administered the right herbs and we're trying to get spells to strengthen his heartbeat, but I honestly don't know if he will-"

The doctor's words drowned out as the child looked up at his father. The boy's skin was a rich brown, and his fur was a deep grey, just like his father. However, it was his eyes that grabbed Chiron's attention. His eyes were a striking blue, just like his mother's. Part of her still lived in him.

"Let me be clear, doctor, my son will live!" Chiron snapped at them. "I have lost my wife, I will not lose him! You have permission to use whatever resources of the Empire to do whatever is necessary to keep him alive. If he dies, you all die!"

His sentiments were no different from any parent worthy of being called such.

Tirrek lived.

Two years later, Chiron's second son was born by his youngest wife, Arachne. But he could not be heir. Unlike his other wives, Lady Arachne was not a centaur but a gargoyle princess married for an alliance. Despite being of royal blood, her son was also a gargoyle, and only centaurs could take the throne. However, Scorpan, as he was named, grew up with all the other rights and privileges due to a prince of the Empire alongside his brother.

Spoiled? Heh. From the time they learned to crawl, they were taught that nothing in life is given. Anything worth having must be earned, fought for, taken, won. Thus, everyone, from the richest to the poorest had to be ready to fight for what they wanted. Shielding the young from the harder aspects of life just wasn't done, especially among the nobility and royalty.

Still, even in ancient times, children were children. Tirek and Scorpan were rambunctious, energetic, and hell on hooves given half the chance. However, Tirek had a certain habit that set him apart from most, especially at his age; he was a night owl.

One night as Emperor Chiron was on his way to his chambers, he spotted Tirek sitting by an open window, Scorpan dozing in a chair.

"Tirek, Scorpan what are you doing out of bed?"

The princes jumped at his voice.

"Uh, I'm just keeping Tirry company." Scorpan yawned.

"And what are you doing, Tirek?" Chiron turned to his oldest son.

"Lookin' at the sky."

Chiron looked out the window at the night sky. "Looking at something in particular?"

"Nope, I just like night time. The stars and the moon are pretty, and it's quiet, and cool, and nice."

"It is." Chiron smiled. "Those stars that form a centaur holding a sword and a bow? That's your forefather, Orion. The gods set his spirit there so he could watch over us."

"Neat!" Tirek waved to his ancestor. The moonlight spilled out over the city, illuminating it almost as bright as the sun.

"I love the way the Empire looks at night." Tirek said gazing on the massive buildings, rolling fields, and mountain ranges off in the distance under the stars.

"Oh, this isn't the whole Empire, this is just the capital. The Empire is much larger. It is so large that most of the known world is part of it."

"So, you're king of the whole world?" Tirek asked in amazement.

"I am not a king, I am Emperor. That is higher than king. And I am not actually ruler of the entire world. There are still lands yet to be explored, and other kingdoms outside the Empire."

"Well, why don't you go and tell them you're Em...emer...empor...Bigger-than-king?" Tirek asked in confusion.

"It's not that easy, son. Some do not yet know the Empire exists. Others do not want to become part of it. Of course, we change those kingdoms' minds in many ways. The great Orion himself said, it's our duty spread civilization to those who are wise enough to accept it, and persuade those who are too stubborn to. Maybe the Empire will include the whole world someday, but until then, I must be the leader the Empire needs, just as you will," Chiron explained.

"You mean Tirry and me are gonna be king-I mean uh, emerors when we grow up, Daddy?" Scorpan clapped excitedly.

Chiron shook his head. "I'm afraid only Tirek will take the throne, Scorpan. However, you will have a very important position helping your brother."

"You mean, all this will be mine?" Tirek smiled in amazement.

"No, you will be Emperor. That does not mean that you own everything. There's much you need to understand before you are ready to be emperor." Chiron chuckled. "Now then...um, Tirek, why do you have blood on your hoof?"

"Huh? Oh, there was a rat. It was running around and squeaking and I stomped on it so it wouldn't bother us anymore."

"And where is it now?"

"Over there." The young prince pointed near the edge of a table.

The emperor turned and looked. He wouldn't have known it was a rat if Tirek had not told him. He assumed that Tirek had stamped on it and kicked it away, but judging by the red on the floor, and the state of the carcass, it was apparent that the boy had stomped on it until the rodent's body was completely crushed.

"Well, it's late, go wash up then both of you back to bed. It's an early day tomorrow."

"Oh, Daddy..." The princes whined.

"No, you need your rest. So, you better go on or the Reptilians might get you."

The Reptilians were the boogiemares of their day, imaginary lizardmen who rode on fictional dragon-like 'Stratodons' to snatch unruly children.

Yes, good Fluttershy best not hear about the rat.

The princes' lives were structured to make sure they learned all needed for a head of state: math, writing, geography, economics, history, as well as royal protocol, but the lessons were twice as advanced and difficult than the standard of the time.

Historical bias however, painted history with the Empire always in the right, any negative was politics at work, or the worst of the worst. The lesson taken was the Empire and Emperor could do no wrong, the future Emperor would remember that.

"Emperor Orion the Hunter proved that strength makes one just. Our people earned everything we have through the sweat on our brow and the blood in our veins. We were stronger than any who fought against us, and we defeated all who dared. The strong survive and the weak perish; that is nature. And we must ensure the survival of our people and our ways through that strength."

The boys' other education was handled by teachers, but for heritage, religion, and royal duties, their father held class.

"Sunrise is a testament to strength. Sun god Lord Helios, Orion's patron, fights his way across the sky every day against his sister. The goddess of darkness, Lady Selene, hates her brother, and all mortals who shun the night and rejoice in the day. After sunset, Lady Selene battles him in the underworld and moves the moon into the sky as a declaration of victory over her brother. Yet, Lord Helios always defeats her and raises the sun."

"Uh, Father?" Tirek raised his hand in confusion. "If Helios-"

"Lord Helios. Gods deserve to be properly addressed," his father corrected.

"Why hasn't Lord Helios defeated Lady Selene for good and made it forever day?"

"That is one of the great mysteries, my son."

"Is he only strong enough to fight her to a draw, but not end her? Maybe she's stronger than him?" Tirek was answered with the smack of a rod on his wrist.

"Blasphemy is not tolerated, even from royalty, Tirek," Chiron sternly uttered. "As Emperor, you will be an instrument of the gods and their ultimate power."

"But, you said the Empire is the greatest nation anywhere, aren't we the ultimate power? And since the Emperor is the ruler, doesn't that make him the-" He was given another swing of the rod on his wrist.

"For all our power, we are not the ultimate power. Being a leader makes none so superior to others, much less the gods themselves. You have much to learn of respect and humility, Tirek! Learn your place, or I may consider if Scorpan might be best for the throne!"

The Emperor didn't notice the look on his oldest son's face. All his life, being Emperor was all Tirek had ever thought to be, all his father ever told him he could be. The suggestion that this might be taken from him, even as an empty threat of a father trying to rattle his child, hit Tirek harder than Chiron ever imagined.

Scorpan attempted to lighten the situation. "So, can we get back to the lesson? I bet Tirek wants to hear more about his girlfriend."

"Girlfriend?" Chiron looked at Scorpan confused, while Tirek glared at him.

"Yeah, Lady Seline. Tirek thinks she's cuuuuuuute!"

"DO NOT!" Tirek yelled, trying to cover a blush.

"Then why do you get that funny look whenever we walk past her statue?" Scorpan barely suppressed a laugh.

"Shut up!"

"It's all right, Tirek." The tangent brought a smirk to his father's face. "You aren't the first to fall in love with one of the gods, and you won't be the last. But, choose your affections carefully. The Night Queen is as cold as she is lovely, and can drive even those she favors mad. Perhaps it would be best to wait until you've had your first taste of mortal women before setting your sights on her."

"Yes, Father." Tirek grumbled.

"Let us move onto the legend of the long platinum drake in the east and the five headed dragoness in the west…"

Tirek did not pay attention after that jarring exchange. When the lesson ended, it left Tirek and Scorpan with little to do but wander the palace halls. They found themselves in the west wing, where Scorpan's mother, Arachne and Chiron's other two wives, Helena and Hermia had set up a table for tea.

"Hello, boys, would you care to join us?" Helena motioned for a servant to bring two more couches.

"Thank you, Mother Helena." Scorpan pulled up a seat.

Tirek sat but didn't speak.

"What's wrong, son?" Hermia asked.

"I'm not your son!" Tirek snapped.

"Now, dear, I know I'm not your real mother, but we still care for you." Hermia put a hand on his shoulder.

"Well, Father clearly he doesn't," Tirek groused.

"Oh that's not true. He's only getting you ready to be Emperor."

"Then why did he say he might decide Scorpan should be emperor instead of me?"

"Oh, that's just him trying to motivate you," Helena explained. "The easiest way to get someone to obey is playing on what's important to them. Being Emperor and following in your father's hoof prints is what's important to you, so he used it to get your attention."

"Don't let Father get to you, Tirry." Scorpan gave him a good natured punch in the arm.

He would never forget the lesson he learned; find what's most important to someone and you can make them do what you want. One of the few times he'd admit to listening to women.

Along with their general education, Tirek and Scorpan were put through rigorous exercise programs that intensified as they grew older. They started training with practice weapons to build hand-to-eye coordination and fighting techniques. When old enough, they trained with actual weapons and battle each other under the instruction of their father.

"Today, you two will be sparring with your cousins, Nessus and Pholus." Chiron motioned to a pair of teenage centaurs as they entered the practice field. "They've completed their training, so you will be facing battle ready opponents and will need to use all you've learned this session."

"Don't worry boys, we'll go easy on you." Nessus shared a laugh with his brother as they paired off with Tirek and Scorpan.

"Don't do us any favors." Tirek gave a determined smirk.

"BEGIN!" Chiron called as he rang the bell.

The four duelists faced off and raised their swords in salute. The contest was swift and fierce. Scorpan was disarmed after ten minutes, Tirek was disarmed after twice that.

"CONTEST OVER!" The bell rang again.

"Nice, Tirek." Nessus grinned as he pulled Tirek to his hooves "Almost got me."

"Excellent display," Their father said as he took the swords. "But there is still room for improvement. Scorpan, you defend so much you don't take any openings!"

"Yes, Father." The younger prince bowed.

"Tirek, you have the opposite problem. You're too aggressive."

"This is readying for battle, how is aggression a bad thing?"

"Because you keep letting your temper get the best of you and just start hacking blindly at your opponent. It leaves you vulnerable to attack from a more disciplined enemy. Anger may motivate you, but left unchecked, it can cost you."

"Yes, Father." Tirek growled.

"And that temper again. Learn to control it." Chiron turned and marched off the practice field. "Both of you are dismissed. Be ready in fifteen minutes for hand-to-hand sparing."

"Thanks for not taking my head off, cousin." Scorpan smiled as he shook Pholus' hand.

"It's not like you use it that much anyway." Pholus chuckled.

"Yeah, but I'm gonna be at the orgy at Lord Bacchus' temple tonight."

"We'll be there too! We'll try and find you a few good girls," Nessus threw in.

"Oh for...really, another orgy, Scorpan? Didn't you already take three conquests since the weekend?" Tirek scoffed.

"Exactly, I'm falling behind." Scorpan shared a laugh with his cousins.

"Fine, but at least avoid any poxy ones."

"There's no need to worry. There's going to be more than just harlots, there's going to be a whole slew of virgins."

Tirek stared speechless at his sibling. "...And you believed that? Sometimes, Scorpan, I wonder if the gods gave you the brains of a dung beetle."

=

"Um, Princess, Ah don't mean to interrupt, but what's an 'orgy', and why is it so important that there would be virgins or 'harlots'? Is it a party or somethin'?"

"In a way."

I nearly laughed. I prayed I never saw how Pinkie Pie would plan such a party.

I was hesitant to explain the...ahem, sexual habits of the centaurs to Applejack. Their approach was very different than that of even most wanton modern ponies. My sister tried to hide the uglier aspects of the past to avoid corrupting our ponies, and there are things in this story that I will not discuss with Applejack, but she asked for truth. She is level headed and tougher than she realizes. As my fellow Element of Honesty, I decided to give her the cold hard truth, and did not skimp details.

The wide eyed, slack jawed look on Applejack's now paler face makes me realize I may have miscalculated.

"Applejack? ...Applejack? Applejack, can you hear me?"

"WELL ALL RIGHTY THEN! I LEARNED SOMETHING NEW TODAY! WELL, THANKS PRINCESS, BUT HOWS ABOUT WE GET MOVIN' ALONG AND NEVER EVER, EVER, EVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN? THAT OK? GREAT!"

"Um...very well... you do an impressive Royal Canterlot Voice."

"MUCH OBLIGED! LET'S TALK ABOUT ANYTHING EXCEPT BANANAS!"

Definitely miscalculated.

=

"Tirek? What time is it?" Scorpan asked.

"Midday."

"Then why is it getting dark?" Scorpan pointed out the doorway.

The group saw that the sky was rapidly filling with massive dark clouds. The rainy season was months away. It became even stranger when it seemed to start snowing. Nessus reached out the window and caught one of the 'snowflakes' and found it was ash.

"We need to find Uncle Chiron!" Nessus urgently commanded his family. "This isn't a storm, it's smoke, and there's one only thing that could cause this much at once."

The Emperor convened the high council and all agreed that the massive smoke clouds must have been caused by a dragon. The clouds were blowing in on an east wind, so the first step was to send an excursion east.

"I will lead this mission. I will take two thousand men, along with thirty members of the Praetorian Guard," Chiron addressed the council.

"Tirek, Scorpan, you two shall join the hunt. The time has come to truly test your mettle. Nessus, Pholus, as the next in the royal line, you two will stay here to defend the city."

Tirek shot a quick glance at his cousins. It had never occurred to him that they might be in line for the throne. He was already suspicious of his brother, and now he would keep an eye on them too. He silently vowed to return with the dragon's head to show them up.

The centaur contingent departed eastwards in search of the source of the smoke. They marched for two days, and found not a hint of dragon. On the third day, however, they did find something that would play a large roll in future events.

"Your Majesties," Captain Lector announced as he and several guards entered the camp. The guards pushed a little man with a large green hat forward. "We discovered this elf by the river. We think he was following us."

"Oh my, was I following you? Oh, dear, my mistake. I was meant to be following the smoke, I don't know how I got turned around." The elf chattered confusedly. "Maybe I should have taken a left at the home of fifty flying fireflies, or was it a right at the sanctum of the seven sacred snakes?"

"Hold." Chiron raised a hand to stop him. "We are also trying to find the source of the smoke. You will come with us elf." Chiron had no reason to belief he was a spy, dragons were everycreature's enemy.

"Oh, very well then. Shall we start making our way to the East Mountains then?"

"The East Mountains?"

"Of course! It's the only place for miles that is high enough that where the wind would spread the smoke as fast as it has and first sighted. Not to mention the natural cave formations are perfect for a dragon to take residence in, and I'm convinced it has to be a dragon causing this, because I've already cleared my brother's special garden and I'm almost certain it isn't the same type of smoke."

The centaurs stared in shock at the elf's reasoning. The emperor gave the elf a shrewd glare.

"What's your name, elf?"

"My name is Randall, I'm a Moochick of the Western Forest Elven Kingdom."

"Moochick?" Scorpan raised an eyebrow in confusion.

"Elf title for a great healer, teacher and magician." Randall explained.

Yes, Applejack, this was the Moochick, the same who was the first keeper of the Rainbow of Light and served as mentor to the ponies of Dream Valley. Long before those days, he was one of many elves who held the title of Moochick. However, by crossing paths with the centaurs, he was put on a path to becoming the most infamous elf to hold the title.

"So your people sent you to stop the smoke?" Scorpan asked.

"Yes, stop the smoke! Good idea, we should probably do that. Well, we better be on our way south to East Mountains."

"Um, the East Mountains are in the east, Mr. ‘Moochick'" The emperor corrected.

"Oh...of course, my mistake." Randall smiled as he picked up his walking stick. "Well, let's be off then!"

"Father, do you think it is wise to bring this addlebrained elf with us?" Whispered Tirek.

"Another set of hands against a dragon is always useful, even an elf's," Chiron replied.

Tirek sighed in exasperation. He was never overly fond of elves. He was never overly fond of anyone outside his family, but he was especially found non-centaurs distasteful. Elves' 'help the weak' attitude turned his stomach.  

The expedition arrived at the East Mountains, the billowing clouds of smoke emanating from the second highest peak, accompanied by loud roars. Most of their forces remained at the base of the mountain, with only the Praetorian Guard and the elf Moochick accompanying the emperor and princes on the journey to the cave. It took several hours, but they reached to the cave entrance, and the danger it housed. A dull roar shook the mountainside.

"Oh, my! Is a dragon in there?" Randall peeked out from behind their hiding place.

"No, that was just my stomach growling," Tirek sarcastically replied.

"Oh, well then, perhaps you should have grabbed an apple or something before we climbed the mountain."

Chiron quietly ordered, "All right, I need volunteers to try and reconnoiter and assess the dragon."

Tirek was about to raise his hand when- "I volunteer."

The centaurs gawked in amazement as Randall raised his hand.

"Something wrong?"

"I think one of us or our soldiers would be better suited." Tirek rolled his eyes.

"Oh, so you don't think that a spy who is smaller, quieter, and can do magic wouldn't be a better choice to approach a dragon?" Randall asked.

The Emperor and his men shared a glance.

"Very well, but at least take a sword with you," Chiron said.

"Oh, that won't be necessary." Randall slipped towards the smoke cloud. To the centaurs' horror, he shouted into the cave, "HELLO THERE! ARE YOU ALRIGHT?"

The centaurs prepared for the inevitable attack by the dragon.

"No! Feel bad!"

The centaurs nearly dropped their weapons; the voice was massive and had a guttural growl that they recognized as a dragon, and yet it had formed words. In all the years that the Empire had fought dragons, never did a dragon speak.

"Oh my! Well, here, let me clear this away so we can talk." A blast of wind blew through the cave and cleared away the smoke over ducking centaurs.

When the Emperor stood he saw the elf standing barely twenty feet away from a large purple dragon.

"MEN, PREPARE FOR GLORY!" Chiron shouted, raising his sword.

"DEATH TO DRAGONS!" Tirek and Scorpan cheered.

"WAIT!" Randall ran out and stood in their way. "Please, wait, there's no need for that!"

"Have you gone mad, elf?! A dragon threatens the land and must be stopped!"

"He's not threatening anything, Your Highness! In fact, he's in more danger than we are! Just look at him!"

The dragon was lay on the ground, with a pained look on its face, and despite seeing centaurs, it made no move to attack or flee. Its eyes were bloodshot, green splotches were among the purple scales, and smoke seeped out of its mouth regardless if it breathed in or out.

"What...what's wrong with it?" Chiron asked.

"He's ill, and judging by the cave's rocks, it's easy to see why," Randall explained. He pointed his walking stick to a large green gem embedded in the cave wall. "These gems that grow here are filled with volatile magic, and you've eaten some haven't you, Mr. Dragon?"

"Ugggghh...yes." The dragon gurgled.

"These gems become bombs in extreme heat, so imagine several of them inside the blazing inferno of a dragon's insides. They started bursting in his stomach and creating the smoke."

"Ohhh...feel bad." The dragon groaned.

"I expect so. But no problem, I'm here now and I can make some medicine to help you." Randall pulled his hat from his head and reached into it. "Now, were did I put the Athelas plants?"

"Uh, 'Moochick', I fail to see why we can't just slay the beast." Tirek's sword pointed.

"Well, for starters, he's so sick he can barely move. I admit, I only have a passing knowledge of your people, Your Highness, but what I have always heard is your honor. This dragon is not intentionally threatening your people, and he has no hope of fighting you. That's not glorious battle, it's hardly a hunt. Where is the honor in killing a defenseless creature that may die anyway?"

The emperor himself had no answer. He motioned for the rest to stand down.

"Now then, this sickness will be easily remedied. I have the herbs needed, I just need one more thing. Um, Mr. Dragon...Er, I'm sorry, where are my manners? I forgot to ask your name."

The dragon wheezed. "Heath...spike."

Chiron himself stumbled. Dragons had names?!

"Well, Mr. Heathspike, may I be allowed to procure a few rubies from your horde to finish your medicine?"

The dragon and the centaurs stared at the elf's audacity. Asking a dragon to take from its horde? Asking a dragon for anything?! He was either more insane or more clever than any of them imagined.

The dragon trying to breath deep was met by a hacking cough.

"Take." The dragon nodded.

The Moochick ran into the cave and came back out with an armful of rubies. He add the gems to a bowl and began crushing them and mixing them with the herbs. When he had mixed it into a red and green mush, he poured it into the dragon's mouth.

"It should start counteracting the toxic crystals once it reaches your stomach, which should be right...about..."

Heathspike hiccuped and the smoke billowing from his mouth turned bright pink before it stopped all together. With a relieved sigh, the dragon smiled at the elf.

"Thank. Friend." The dragon looked over to the centaurs. "You friends."

The emperor stared uncertainly as the dragon stood and stalked back into the cave. It returned with its front claws filled with treasure. He deposited the gold and gems on the ground before them and smiled.

"For helping."

"Oh, my gracious! Thank you my friend." Randall smiled gratefully.

"Yes, um...thank you." Chiron echoed uncertainly.

Heathspike lifted his right foreleg, causing the party to notice a black bag tied around the dragon's wrist. He pulled it open and turned to face the remainder of his horde. He unleashed bright green flames onto the treasure. The flames consumed the treasure in seconds, leaving nothing but a small cloud of green smoke that flew into the sack. Heathspike pulled the draw string and closed the bag, which looked heavier.

"Amazing!" Randall gushed. "Where did you learn that magic?"

"Me teach me." Heathspike smiled proudly. "Now, find new cave. No more bad gems. Bye, friends."

"Uh, Your Highness, sh-shouldn't we attempt to take the beast down?" Asked the captain of the guard.

"I agree, Father," Tirek added. "It's not helpless now, it's fair game. We should kill it while we have the chance."

The emperor just stared after the dragon, thinking of the positive sum gain of Randall's diplomacy.

"No. The dragon is no threat now. If he returns to stirs up trouble we shall deal with it then. The crisis is over and we shall return with all hands to our homes, with our reward," Chiron looked at Randall with a newfound respect. "And, a new ally."

"Oh, you made a new ally? That's nice. Can I meet him before we part company?" Randall asked, earning a laugh from the emperor.

The party returned to Orionopolis, Moochick in tow. When they arrived, a festival was held for the end of the dragon smoke. At the end, the Moochick was honored.

"We are in your debt, Randall, Moochick of the Western Forest Elven Kingdom," Chiron intoned.

"Oh, it was my pleasure to help, Your Highness."

"Never the less, you have done a great service for the Empire, and you will be rewarded. I understand that you are eager to return home, but I would ask you to consider becoming part of my court, as ambassador to the Western Forest Elf Kingdom and an advisor."

"Oh my gracious! Well, you do me a great honor, Your Highness! How can I refuse?"

The crowd cheered to welcome their new honored guest and hero.

Tirek stayed quiet most of that night, which Scorpan took note of.

"Uh, Tirry? Are you alright?"

"Don't call me that, Scorpan."

"Tell me what's wrong, then. None of us died, the smoke's gone, and we got treasure. Sounds like a happy ending to me."

"Yes, except that Father let an elf handle the dragon, who is still alive!"

"Relax, by tomorrow, the elf will be on his way back in his little tree house and...I don't know, make flowers grow or whatever."

"Don't trust him."

"Why?"

"He's up to something. I wouldn't be surprised if he was planning against us."

"You think an elf who asked if a halberd was a duck, is scheming? He's too dimwitted to worry about."

"A dimwit that's now an advisor. Keep an eye on him, brother."

Moochick Randall made frequent trips back to his home in the West Forest, but he became a familiar sight around the palace in the following two years. Especially to Tirek's eyes. However, it turned out that appointing him as an advisor was a wise decision. He had helped Chiron resolve an economic crisis, found a cure for a plague the broke out in the southern colonies, and began to teach Tirek and Scorpan some magic.

However, peace never stayed with the Empire for long. In the summer of the third year following the excursion to Heathspike's cave, an assassin attacked Tirek and Scorpan's cousins. While practicing their swordsmanship, a stealthy satyr opened fire with a bow and arrow. The guards killed the assassin, but not before Nessus was shot in one of his forelegs, giving him a permanent limp.

The assassin's armor was Pancadia's royal guard, the satyr kingdom. The centaurs and satyrs had been uneasy allies held by the most tenuous of peace treaties, and this broke it in days.

Pancadia was a small nation, but satyrs were proud and clever. They used guerilla tactics that the larger and more regimented centaur forces were not adept to. For two years, the Empire was kept at bay. Tirek was put in command of the war, with Scorpan as his lieutenant. Tirek found a taste for glory that battle brought, but also a taste for bloodshed. With his strategies, the imperial army was able to turn the tide and conquer the satyr lands. The celebration that awaited Tirek and Scorpan upon their return was the biggest the Empire had seen in decades.

On the last night of the celebrations, and the royal family in their chambers celebrated on their own late at night with bottles of vintage wine.

"Another toast to our sons!" Arachne raised her glass.

"To our sons!" The emperor and his wives raised their glasses.

"Yes, weren't we quite impressive?" Scorpan chuckled.

"Especially on the war's last day." Tirek elbowed Scorpan knowingly.

"I wish you all could have seen the goats' faces!"

"Yes, I had been meaning to ask how you were finally able to capture Capra City," Helena asked.

"Oh, that was easy once Tirek's plan went through! We spent months in summer and fall attacking the smaller cities, but always retreating. I thought he'd gone crazy!"

"Crazy like a fox." Tirek grinned. "The attacks were never meant to take those worthless cities.  But the surrounding farmlands were devastated in battle."

"Which meant the harvest would be destroyed with winter on the way." Scorpan grinned.

"And when winter came, I sent the 44th Legion on a full assault on Bezoar City, where the satyrs second largest emergency food stores were housed. The damn goats sent more troops to protect it when we attacked, but the only place close enough to help before it's too late was Capra City."

"The city guard was weakened from sending reinforcements and wide open for invasion. We took their food source and their chief city in one fell swoop."

"Say it, Scorpan." Tirek smiled smugly. "Come on, say it. Saaaay iiiiit."

"You're a genius, Tirek." Scorpan shrugged.

"Yes, I am!"

"Well done, my boys." Chiron smiled. He put his hands on his eldest's shoulders. "I have missed you both, and you return to me as true men, worthy Princes of the Empire."

"It's not fair." Hermia wiped her eyes. "We only just got you both back and now we must say goodbye to one of you."

"What?" The princes looked to their stepmother in confusion.

"Yes, sadly, Hermia is right. There is a secret rite of passage for the crown prince when he comes of age." Chiron explained. "It's easy to forget the people outside the palace, yet the Emperor's decisions affect all centaurs, from the greatest to least. Thus, it was decreed by Emperor Codrus, heirs to the throne live half a year secretly as commoners."

"WHAT?!" Tirek bellowed in shock. "I return triumphant in service to the Empire and my reward is to be banished?!"

"Not at all, son! It's an essential rite, just as your training in matters of state and sword. It will build your character and give you a better understanding of the people you will rule over. It's only six months."

"But Father, this is insane! All know Tirek and what he looks like. If he goes alone, it would be easy for assassins or for ambitious criminals to ransom him!"

"That will not happen. There is a spell passed down that will change your appearance and voice. None will recognize you. You'll be given a loaf of bread, a bag of gold, and a sword, but all other needs you must manage through your own wits and labor."

Tirek hated the very idea of degrading himself to a lower-class. But overshadowing even his unending pride: was his desire for the throne. He would rather die than give up the promised power of the throne. If he had to crawl through the dirt for power's sake, he would.

"Very well, Father. I shall miss you, and our mothers and Scorpan."

"Yes, well, then it's best to savor this night. Care to regale us with more from your conquest?"

"Oh, yes, Father, you still haven't heard the best part! When we launched the invasion, we stormed the city, killing all in our path until we got to the palace. King Tumnus surrendered quickly. He was bawling like a baby! It was pathetic. It's probably why I killed him right there."

"Yes, we...You did what?!"

"That's right! The old goat begged and pleaded on his knees and..." He motioned his arm across his throat. "Ha! His head bounced down the steps and landed face down on the floor!"

"It was glorious, Father." Scorpan grinned, raising his own glass. "The queen feared Tirek might take a swing at her as well so much that she signed the surrender treaty right then and there!"

"But, I wanted to squash any potential uprising, so after that, I sent some men to kill the rest of the court, all the soldiers in the city, and any other wealthy satyrs. All they have is their queen, and nobody is going to rally around some needy woman for a revolution."

"Tirry even put the king's head on a stake outside the palace as an example! HAHA! The satyrs will learn to fly before they dare rise up against us!"

The brother's clinked their glasses, and only just realized their parents were staring at them in shock and outrage.

"What's the matter?" Tirek asked obliviously.

Their father stood and glared at his eldest son. "Tirek...you dishonor your family."

"Dishonor-what?!"

"You killed an unarmed man in front of his wife and ordered hundreds more killed after they had already surrendered!"

"...And?"

"'And?' To kill in the heat of battle is one thing, but this is another!"

"They were enemies, they deserved to die." Tirek stated it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Yes, they were enemies, but they had also surrendered! Surrender means the conflict is ended and any further act of aggression is dishonorable!"

"I conquered our enemies! Thanks to me, the satyr lands are now subjugated and the Empire is richer for them! I call that honorable!"

"So now it was all your doing? Never mind your brother or any of the other soldiers who fought, bled and died for the Empire?"

"You think I stayed behind the lines while the battle raged? I was on the front lines, cleaving my enemies to pieces right amongst the soldiers!"

"Yet you dismiss their efforts in favor of your own?!"

"I am their prince, they are my soldiers! They and all the other lower classes live and die to make great people richer and greater! Those oafs on the battlefield and the satyr fools are no different than chess pieces; they move at the command of a greater mind that may make use of them to win. It's their purpose!"

"'Their purpose?' Their...Dear gods in Elysium, have you so little respect for life?"

"Father, do you know what I found out in the last two years on the battlefield? Honor, respect and rules do not win wars. To the victor go the spoils and the dead stay dead. What does it matter what methods we used as long as we win?"

"Honor is all that separates us from animals, Tirek! We are civilized! We are not common beasts who kill without thought or consequence!"

"You taught me that I needed to be a warrior! Warriors kill!"

"WARRIORS FIGHT TO PROTECT WHAT THEY LOVE!" Chiron thundered, making Tirek step back. "A warrior fights to protect his home, his friends, his family and his way of life! A warrior knows the value of life and the seriousness of taking it! A warrior does not seek war for its own sake, nor kill without cause! We stopped such barbarism when Orion brought the tribes together!"

"It matters not, Father. The deed is done and cannot be undone, unless you are ready to restore Pancadia's sovereignty and deprive the Empire a conquest to spite me."

"Watch your tongue, boy! I will not be addressed with such disrespect as your Emperor or your father!"

Tirek knew enough about battle and enough of these disagreements with his father to know to pick his battles. He backed off and played the dutiful son, thinking his father would eventually see his actions as just.

"You're right, Father. I spoke out of turn. However, there is nothing I can do, so may we please move on to other matters? Such as when this exercise of posing as a commoner is complete, when shall I prepare for my first dragon hunt?"

The emperor and his wives were silent for a moment.

"Tirek, there will be no more hunts. I have made peace with the dragons."

Tirek and Scorpan were stunned silent. Chiron might as well have told them that the sky was made of stone.

"...You what?"

"I did not mumble, my boy. I agreed to a peace with them."

"Why in the gods' names would you do that? Dragons have been our enemies since before the Empire was founded! And now, you want to go back to the days when they stole our treasure, ate our animals, burned our homes and spilled our blood?! Have you lost your mind?!"

"I am in full control of my mind, Tirek." Chiron replied sternly.

"Then why?!"

"Putting aside that we must now recover from the war you two just returned from, if we continue our war with the dragons, we would almost certainly lose and the Empire would fall."

"What war? It's pest control! Why would we fall to the dragons after all this time?!"

"Because they have followed our example!"

"What?"

"Remember the stories of the platinum and the five headed dragons? They were not stories. They exist. And they are no mere beasts. They are as smart as we are, and can be reasoned with. But that is not all; they have a strange thrall over the rest of their kind. The dragons obey them without question. They've declared themselves king and queen of all dragons. Heathspike calls them gods.

"They made a show of strength at the negotiations. They brought an army of two hundred dragons to Dictys."

"Impossible!"

"I saw it! Two hundred titanic monsters flew over the city, circling, diving, spinning through the air, but never touching the city. Then, at their queen's command, they flew out over the water and began circling that ring of rocks where the waves break. They let loose their fire breath on it, all at once. The rocks were melted within seconds, and the massive steam cloud from the boiling sea rose miles into the air."

"By the gods..." Scorpan stared in awe.

"Against a small band of dragons, we can prevail, but not against them all. So, with Moochick Randall's assistance, we were able to forge a peace." Chiron shrugged as he filled his glass. "It is probably no loss anyway. No dragon has crossed our borders in decades, and as long as their...'parents' can keep them from interfering in our affairs, there is no need to provoke them."

"Have you gone mad?!" Tirek swept the glass out of his father's hand, sending it shattering on the floor. "Do you even hear yourself, Father?! Letting dragons dictate terms to us!"

"There's no alternative, Tirek." Chiron sighed as he wiped a splatter of wine from his hand.

"Uh, Father, surely there must be a way to deal with this." Scorpan interjected. "It sounds like the threat is from the silver dragon and its five headed mate, why not get rid of them? Without them, the dragons aren't united, so why don't we send our forces to kill them? It can't be impossible for our best slayers to kill two dragons."

"Precisely what he says!" Tirek pointed to his brother.

"These aren't normal dragons. I sent a thousand of our best assassins from the Order of Nemesis to deal with them the moment I became aware of their existence." Chiron sighed. "At the negotiations, the dragon queen presented me with a wagon containing their armor and their skulls."

"You speak so highly of 'honor', yet you would avenge their deaths by yielding to their murderers' demands?!" Tirek roared.

"Not at the cost of the Empire!"

"Since when does Chiron the Strong fear battle?!" Tirek demanded.

"Do you think I have not given this thought?! That I have not weighed every alternative, politically and militarily before I made this decision?!" Chiron yelled back in his son's face. "If we went to war against united dragons, with the combined strength and resources of the Empire and all our allies, that war would destroy everything in its wake. Both sides would take such losses and cause such damage, that even if we by a miracle were victorious, all we would rule over is a world of ash!"

"So be it! I would take on the whole world if it insulted us so brazenly!" Tirek declared.

"There is no honor in destroying the world, and victory at such a price is no victory at all!" Chiron yelled, staring down his son with every bit of royal dignity he possessed. "But with the knowledge of your actions in Pancadia, you obviously have much to learn about honor! Perhaps if you cannot learn it on the battlefield, you can learn it amongst your people, though you give me little reason to have faith in that!"

Scorpan gulped as his brother and father stared each other down. Before he could even attempt to speak, Tirek just stormed out of the chambers with a slam of the door. Chiron sighed in exasperation as he dropped heavily onto the sofa next to Arachne and Helena.

"Father?" Scorpan ventured.

"Scorpan...what happened to Tirek during the war?" Chiron poured himself another glass of wine.

"Uh, he got hit by a couple arrows, a couple satyrs got lucky with swords... I got snipped while trying to negotiate a city's surrender."

"No, I mean what happened to him that he cannot recognize such dishonor and seems ready to embrace mad suicide than even consider an alternative?"

"He's always been a fighter father." Scorpan answered. "And at heart, he's doing it all for the Empire, and for you. All he's ever wanted was your approval."

"Then why does he so steadfastly refuse to listen when I try to impart wisdom?"

"He makes mistakes some times, that's all," Scorpan defended.


"These are mistakes he cannot afford to make, Scorpan. You can't understand the burden that awaits him. One day, he will be Emperor, and he needs to understand what will be required of him."

"But, Father, he just won a war for the Empire! All right, he killed the satyr king and some others, but he also increased our territory and resources, and he avenged the attempt on Nessus' life! Doesn't that count for something?"

"In the grand scheme, perhaps, but what troubles me is that he did not even consider whether it was the honorable course of action when he committed the act. Being Emperor does not give him license to work his will without thought or responsibility! The last Emperor who believed that was killed by the Praetorian Guard."

"Oh, come now, Father, Tirek won't go down that path!"

"Damn right he won't! I will not let him destroy the Empire...or himself."

The following morning, Tirek was given the potion that changed his appearance. His build, fur, skin and eye color were all altered. No one would ever recognize him. The emperor announced that Tirek had gone to a retreat in the North Mountains to hunt dire wolves to cover his absence.

And so, Tirek, Crown Prince of the Great Centaur Empire went to live among the commoners under the name 'Bane.' He spent three days in the local inn before finding a job as a blacksmiths apprentice. It was tiring work, but even a prince like Tirek was no stranger to labor.

"Be quick about it, Bane! The city garrison needs this armor by the end of the week! If we're late, I'll take it out of your pay!"

"Yes, Mr. Hephest," Tirek grunted as he hammered away on a breastplate.

"Ah, you're lucky I hired you at all! With the war over, the demand for armor and swords went down. I don't know why the Emperor or the generals or whatever moron was in charge of our troops couldn't have dragged the fight out a little longer!"

"Speak for yourself, Heph." They looked up from their work and saw a guard in the doorway.

"Alcon, my old friend!" The blacksmith shook the guard's hand. "If you're here for your armor, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until the end of the week for my lazy apprentice to finish it."

"No, no, I was just going to drop off my sword. It was bent in the siege of Capra City."

"You should handle your weapon more carefully," Tirek commented as he took the blade to the anvil.

"Stow that talk and show some respect, Bane! You're talking to a soldier of the Empire!" Hephest shouted.

"No, he's right, I should have," The guard defended. "Of course, if I'm counting things I should have done, I also should have gone into farming like my mother said."

"Listening to women, Alcon? Ohohoho, I knew you were always different."

"No, I'm just tired. Two years of war with those goats was long enough. It probably would have gone quicker if the prince could have pulled his head out of his backside."

"The prince?" The blacksmith asked.

"Yeah, that blasted Tirek and his insane plans. We could have finished the war sooner if we attacked the right places, but no! He kept sending us to attack and retreat for months, and yeah, it worked, but I think he was more interested in making himself look good than winning the war."

"You shouldn't talk about the prince that way," Tirek said as he pounded the sword. "If he ever found out, you'd be in trouble."

"Perhaps, but he never will." Alcon shrugged. "Besides, if he did, maybe he might learn something from it so I wouldn't be so leery of him becoming Emperor."

"Here is your sword." Tirek shortly handed the newly straightened blade back to its owner.

"Oh, well now, this is well done indeed! You should hold onto this young man, Heph."

"I might just, Al. Well, nice seeing you. Bane, get back to work!"

When he wasn't at work, he went about town, taking in all the sights and sounds of common life.

"You seen grapes' price?"

"Tia, where are the fish?"

"Excuse me!"

"Did you see Obelia? You think I have a chance with her?"

"Jason, stop crying or I'm taking you home!"

"Hey, I was here first!"

"Tunics for sale!"

He proceeded to the grocer, trying to block out the noise.

"All right, one pound of grapes and one pound of dates. That will be five gold coins for each." Tirek tossed the money down and went to leave, but the grocer called after him. "Hey, you look new around here, did you hear about the new laws?"

"New laws?" It was the first thing the man said that got Tirek's interest.

"The emperor just made a law that's going to make things much easier for my cousins and my aunty. There's going to be a new treasury set up that will be used to support the poor, the elderly and the sick."

"What?"

"Yes, isn't it wonderful? The new treasury will be able to help those who can't afford housing, doctors or food. And there's even talk that they are preparing a way for young centaurs to learn an occupation."

"We already have that, it's called the Imperial Army!"

"No, this is a new type of school that'll teach youth to get all manner of different trades that will be offered as a substitute military training."

"This is madness! Next you'll be telling me they're giving centauresses the right to join the army or ponies can have jobs!"

"Hmmm...You know, that first part about the ladies might not be a bad idea, sonny. Let'em carry some of their own weight."

"I must go now." Tirek stormed off, not putting even a slight damper on the grocer's mood.

"Well, come back soon!"

Tirek went weeks with this routine, but instead of empathizing with the common centaurs, he began to loathe them. The news of the reforms his father was enacting just made him angrier. He viewed these laws as coddling the already weak masses and showing the throne as weak itself.

Still, he took comfort in the night. He found a kinship with owls, bats and other creatures of the night, watching them prowl the night and hunt rodents, insects and other prey. They were clever, they were strong, and they were of the night, as he saw himself.

His frustration at the changes in the law and the pettiness of commoners grew and grew until he could not stand it. He needed a release, and the best relief he ever had was swinging a sword into a foe on the battle field. Here, he had no battlefield, so he made do. He began to emulate the strength of nocturnal predators. He began hunting.

"Hello there, sir." As any hunter of the night, he found his prey among any who were out alone in the dark.

"Greetings, fair lady."

"Oh my! Normally, gentlemen are a bit, uh, more informal when they approach me."

"Well, all that separates a man from a boy is how he speaks to a lady. Especially one of such beauty."

"Well, I do have a man amongst boys in my presence. I am honored."

"Indeed. Shall we go somewhere more private?"

Tirek led the centauress to the temple of Venus, which had no shortage of nightly rendezvous. Poor Venus.

"Are you ready, good sir?"

"More than ready."

"Ooh! Oh my!"

"You have been with many others have you not?"

"Oh, sure. Men, women, sometimes both..."

"And how do you find them?"

"Depends on what they like."

"I have been amongst the people for some time now."

"You don't sound happy about that do you?"

"It's torture."

"Ooh, you're in a crowd, but so alone..."

"Completely."

"Ooh, yes...oh...Ow! Hey, watch what you're doing there, big boy! Heheha!"

"I am utterly, completely alone."

"Ooh, I'll be yo-Ouch! Hey, be careful!"

"Because I am surrounded by brainless, bloodsucking parasites and pathetic, worthless worms."

"Ow! Wait! All right, now stop it!"

"Stop me."

"What?!"

"Prove your strength, and stop me."

"That's enough! Stop it!"

"No."

"Please, stop it!"

"That is always the way of your kind. Begging, pleading for the strong to allow them something because they are weak. That is not the way the world works."

"Please, you're hurting me!"

"Yes, I am. The strong can do what they like because the weak cannot stop us, as it has always been. And yet, this is what I was born into? This is my destiny? This is why I have endured all the pain and preparation? I was born to rule a nation of ants bound by some antiquated, naive sense of honor, while it rots from within by allowing the weak minded to drag the strong down?"

"Stop, I can't breathe!"

"No. I will not stand by and be made a fool, not by my father, not by that elf, not by my subjects, and not even by the gods themselves. I will not suffer the weak to live."

"Please...ugh...please I...I can't..."

"I am the strongest, I am the smartest, I am the bravest, and the most powerful. I will make the Empire...no, I will make the world as it should be."

"Uhhhh...hhhh...rrkkk..."

"I shall build a world where I am the law. I will make a world that shall become more harsh and ruthless as I perfect it. Weakness shall receive its just reward, and the strong shall rule, with me as master of all. How does that sound to you?

"Miss? I asked you a question.

"Nothing to say? How very unlike a woman. Then I think it's time that we part ways."

The guards found her mutilated body the following day. They found her head the day after.

There were more murders in the following months. A grocer, two merchants, a seamstress, and a blacksmith were found murdered and beheaded in the same fashion. The guards tracked the clues to a the guard named Alcon who was found with his wrists slit and a note claiming he couldn't live with the guilt over what he had done. The guard was buried in the wastelands among the dishonored dead for his apparent crimes, and none discovered who truly committed the murders.

=

"Landsake's!" Applejack paled. She had thankfully shaken off the horror of my last reveal, but was now fully immersed in Tirek's atrocity. "I know growin' up in some hoity-toity life might make ya see the world different, Orangejack did, but…What the hay was he thinking?! J-Just why?!"

"Vanity, greed, fear, hate, and apathy to others. The same vices that turn so many into monsters. And as loathe as I am to admit it, the same led me to become Nightmare Moon. I remember those feelings he had all too well. To have done so much only to be struck down for it. Believing that you are so much more than the tiny creatures around you, yet be so vexed by their strange lack of adoration. Paranoia that your peers and those you love are plotting against you. Resentment that festers until every face seems to laugh at you and every voice seems to screams the foulest insult. To see yourself as the only sane one, and think all others are the reason you are not heeded without question.

"I fell into that mania, as Tirek did. As did another of my family, which leads to our story's next part."
PonyPOVGaiden:History of Tirek Prt 2 Emperor's Son
Pony POV Series Side Story
Rise Of Tirek
Chapter Title: The Emperor's Son
Entirely Written By Wolfram-and-hart wolfram-and-hart.deviantart.co… Be sure to give him credit.
Edited by Louis Badalament and Alex Warlorn

Set after the changeling invasion of Canterlot, Applejack hears from Princess Luna the ancient history before Equestria, before the three Tribes, even before the Age of Myths itself. The origins of Tirek, and his relationship with his brother Scorpan are revealed.

Now see how a prince was born, and how a monster was born.

This thing started out at 78K about. 

After much effort we finally managed to get it down to 64K, it wasn't easy. Not at all. It was hard work between all of us.

Pinkie Pie, "I'm being let of the studio for a bit? FRESH-AIR! YIPPIE! Ahem, please enjoy the show."

Posted as a side story to the Pony POV Series.

Cover Art By Kendell2

Previous: alexwarlorn.deviantart.com/art…

Next Chapter:

First Chapter: alexwarlorn.deviantart.com/art…

Trope page: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php… (SERIOUSLY need to be kept up to date, every little bit helps!). . . . It makes me happy. 

My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic And All Related Character Copyright Of Hasbro

PLEASE check out the ton of recursive fanfics of this fanfiction series. A lot of heart went into them! They also answer a lot of unaswered questions.  mlp-pony-pov-series.deviantart… For heaven sake they rock! Kendell2 and Oracle Mask and Richforce and Ardashir and Jawmax and Persona22 and Dragon of Twilight and ItsFromPeople and all the rest!!! Please?

2014 OCt 29th: Changed the line from "dragons call them gods" to "Heathspike calls them gods" since the centaurs were bewildered at dragons having a spoken language. 
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deviantID

alexwarlorn
Check Out The Pony POV Series
United States
NEED VOICE ACTRESS ASAP! VERY ASAP! Just ANY actress; that's all I need, right now! Or rather Louis REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY  REALLY NEEDS! 

PLEASE CONTACT LOUIS AT badalamentink@gmail.com ASAP!!!!  And I do mean ASAP!!!

  • Mood: Wow!
  • Listening to: Pony POV Series
  • Reading: Pony POV Series
  • Watching: Pony POV Series
  • Drinking: Dr. Pepper

Do you prefer if I write an entire section of the story at once, even if it takes weeks, then post the chapters daily, or do you prefer if I posted the chapters as they're finished? 

41%
19 deviants said Post chapters after reaching a break point
33%
15 deviants said Post chapters as they're finished
17%
8 deviants said Post chapters daily after writing the whole thing
7%
3 deviants said I'm tired of waiting! Post something already!
2%
1 deviant said Other suggest (comment below)

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:iconsomerandomminion:
SomeRandomMinion Featured By Owner 10 hours ago
Pinkie brightens up Dark Souls: derpibooru.org/613790?scope=sc…
Reply
:iconyoshiegg64:
yoshiegg64 Featured By Owner 9 hours ago
Hopefully it won't end up like how she brightened up Skyrim. 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp32Ti…
Reply
:iconsomerandomminion:
SomeRandomMinion Featured By Owner 9 hours ago
:fear: + :rofl:
Reply
:iconyoshiegg64:
yoshiegg64 Featured By Owner 12 hours ago
I was watching this video and it pointed something odd in the founding of Ponyville.  Look at 2:03 on the video.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LqEhp…

The symbol on those tents are very similar to Umbra Breeze's cutie mark. Make you wonder if Umbra Breeze possibly played a part in Ponyville's founding. Creepy.

:iconpovnyarlathotepplz:
Reply
:iconalexwarlorn:
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner 1 day ago
I'm currently at four chapters length. And it'll easily go to five. And it might extend to six chapter long likely. Possibly seven. 
Reply
:iconardashir:
ardashir Featured By Owner 16 hours ago
However long it is, I know I'm looking forward to reading it!
Reply
:iconposeme:
PoseMe Featured By Owner 1 day ago
thx 4 all the faves!
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:iconathos01:
Athos01 Featured By Owner 1 day ago
Thank you very much for the fav :).
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