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My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
Pony POV Series
Dark World Part 22 "Off The Rails"
First BAM Of Three!

"This is not Discord's room," a crayon message on a piece of paper taped outside my door said. Similar messages were taped on every door in the castle. Each with its own accent and voice.

My great and really great self lay on the side of my bed curled up in the sheets. My pillow was wet for some reason.

I was looking at my tiny personal TV showing the Elements of Harmony currently with their guard down. Socializing on my doorstep. Completely unprepared for a surprise attack, like turning the roof they were on into acid-jello.

I didn't even try. What was the point? It always ended the exact same way, no matter what I chose to do.

I snapped my fingers. Those nice clouds above Pinkie and the rest turned into acid, radio-active goo, and anti-matter. But hippogriffs who had been hiding in secret all this time dove in, heroically taking the hit, and buying Team Atonement & Pals the split-second they needed to get away.

I snapped my fingers. A giant mountain fell on Twilight and her friends as they were on their way to my castle. But the tunnel the diamond dogs had dug millimeters right under their hooves gave way at just the right instant. But I assumed they were dead, and went on assuming they were dead for the next several hours, right up until they burrowed up from right underneath my feet while I was in the middle of refereeing the Freestyle Orthopedic Surgery Olympics, catching me by surprise.

Rancor tapped on my door with that spear of hers, "C'mon, big brother! This is your little sister speaking! If you're feeling vulnerable, let me in!"

I ignored her. I had so hoped she could change things.

(I was worried about that, myself. But thankfully she's done nothing too disruptive.)

I ignored her too.

"I made Rosedust immortal! Why not her? Why can't I? Rosedust WANTED to die and I was able to keep her alive. It doesn't make any sense." I laughed. "Dang it! It's supposed to be -FUN- when things don't make sense!"

(The answer to that is simple. If you could render her TRULY unkillable, how could you ever lose her? And if you could never lose her, why, what else would you suffer bereavement from?)


"You know, there are so many things I like more than you. Morning Star. By Dad's love spike tendrils, if I divided how much I like Venus and Rota Fortuna by half it would still be more than you. Even Grogar was preferable to you! I thought there was a you within you that I finally brought out. But in the end, you disappoint me even worse than Celestia disappointed me as a girlfriend."

(Disappoint -you-? You sicken me.)

"You're not my mother, either of them, so that's just noise to me darlin'."

(How's this for noise: you're an idiot who creates his own worst enemies.)

I sighed.

"It's strange, after all this time I don't regret saving her. Why can I never make her fall her in love with me, though? I've even, blech, read books on the subject." I gestured at the aquarium, where submerged copies of 'The Collector', 'Beauty And The Beast,' and 'The Phantom Pony of the Opera' were kept.

"If THOSE are suppose to be examples of classic romance literature, then Twilight ought to thank me for curing her book addiction.

"So he's in here?" I heard from outside.

Rancor's voice answered: "Huh? Who are-, oh didn't recognize you for a second, sorry." The door opened. "Hey, thanks, I've been trying to get, hey I want in too!"

"Sorry. This is between us."

"I'm family too, so-" The door slammed shut.

"I'm sorry." My room's new arrival said genuinely.

I don't turn to look at her. I didn't expect her to come here.

"She's dead."

"Huh?"

"Angry Pie. They've killed her."

"What! . . . What are you talking about? She looks alive to me. . . . Or did you mean, 'dead to us' since she's finally gotten over her anger issues?"

"They killed her. How can she be so happy around them after they've killed her? Did she really want to die all this time? I don't get it."

"Uh, she's right there. True, she isn't a lovely shade of gray anymore, but you can just fix that, right? If they broke her, you can just fix her!"

"I can't if she's dead."

"But she's right there! And even if she did die, you promised to bring all her brats back to life, so resurrecting her should be easy-peasy right?"

"Yes, you'd THINK that's how it would work! But I can't. She's an exception, somehow. It doesn't make sense, which isn't fun for me, which makes even less sense, which still isn't fun, which is . . . Distortion."

"It's a distortion?"

"My first child with her, I was going to name him Distortion. I KNOW that future exists SOMEWHERE, why can't I find it?"

"Don't do this to yourself! Please! You just fought your way out of one depression, please don't fall into another! I need you! I don't want to live in a world where you're not here! I'm here for you! I'll always be here for you! Can't you see-?!" Said the pony mare.

"Stupid Laughter! Where does something so fun get off being on the side of Harmony anyway? I laugh all the time and it has nothing to do with harmony."

OW! What a splitting headache, did she really have to bisect me -like a G-rated cartoon character, not a gritty anime. Leave the gore at home this time!- I push myself back together.

"Are you all here now?"

"You know I'm never all there."

She laughed. "Sounds like you're back to abnormal."

(Heh. When chaos becomes normal, it ceases to be chaos. It becomes expected. Defeating itself. But that's the nice answer. 'Chaos', the very thing you were born to bring into the universe, doesn't exist. Everything is cause and effect, down to the tiniest detail. There is no 'unpredictability', there are no 'surprises' only those without enough wits and psychological insight to figure out what comes next. Ponies, hearts, weather, dice, all trapped in predeterminism. There is no free will. There is no chaos. The outcome of everything was decided the moment creation came into being, including every tiny bit of your 'spontaneity' as well. You fall into patterns the same as everything else.)

"I still can't believe it. How can she abandon family like this just to hook up with them?!" She says looking at the screen, feeling betrayed.

"It's not that surprising. When Traitor Dash fought alongside Tragedy to keep the Valeyard from stealing her kill, she outright admitted how good it felt to fight along side her, ick, real friends again. Then, of course, Tragedy had to go and kill her in self-defense. Rarigreed got a nice Element out of it though."


"Huh? What are you talking about?" The purple pony asked. "Dash wasn't killed. Plus, the Valeyard fought them SECOND, after Dash!"

"Oh! She did? They did? Oh right right. Of course. That's what happened. Must've gotten mixed up."

(Why don't you try to explain it to her? Again? Maybe things will be different this time. Maybe. Heh.)

" . . . so now it's down to us three . . . but I'm not scared. Because I'm fighting for you." She nuzzled me on the face, I look into her purple eyes. They look good on her. "You are more important to me than anything in the world. You are the world. I'm sorry everything keeps going wrong. Those losers should have never gotten this far. Don't worry, when I'm done, they'll be soaking wet and clueless in their own blood!"

I chuckle at her good humor. "You always had a way with words, my dear. You know. It is us three. Maybe the game isn't over yet."

(Don't bet on it!)

"Well, it IS over.... for them! Watch! Me and Rancor will take care of them! We'll be awesome! Just you watch!"

"No . . . I won't."

"Huh?"

"I've hidden behind you for too long during this whole..."

"You weren't hiding! I was protecting you! What happened wasn't your fault! And it turned out to be okay so-"

"I love you, my dear."

The phrase is like battery acid in my mouth. Strange, since I normally find it delicious stuff, especially when chilled. Once, I made a mare have every liquid she drank taste like battery acid. Offered to put her taste buds back to normal if she and her foal each drank half a bear-sized bottle of whiskey. The mother ended up drinking all of it by herself, not letter her foal drink a drop and died, how greedy. Oh? Heheh. Oh right. I think the 'I love you' bit burned so much because it was true.

"You are precious to me as well. Even if it took a few times for me to realize it. About the only thing that's been precious to me." I hug her as I say it. She presses her body against me, rubbing against me, and kisses me.

I did what I had not done in, well, not since I'd been with a pink maned sun Alicorn. I sang.

"Looking down on the ponies
Can't they see I'm so lonely?
Watching them try so very hard to run
My wonderful world.
As my chaos unfurled
Why couldn't they join me in my fun?"


She sang back.
"None understands how you feel
They only see a heel
But trust me I understand you
The smile that you make
When your life is at stake
Is the same as my own, oh it's true!"


"We are two of a kind
A little unsound of mind
Like two pieces of a puzzle, oh how true.
And if one were to leave
The other would only grieve
I know it
I'd be lost without you.
I'd be lost (I'd be lost)
I'd be lost (I'd be lost)
I know it.
I'd be lost without you!"


*Why Discord? Why do you spend so much effort into trying to NOT understand? Part of love is changing yourself for others.*

Heh. So you're here at last. About time. I've been waiting for . . . well that's kinda meaningless isn't it?

(Who are you talking to?!)

Hey, did you know, the shrill banshee first accused you of being ME?

*Discord think. When were you the most happy? When were you the most appreciated? When did you not NEED to twist the world every few moments to keep from feeling hollow?*

Appreciate the efforts, beautiful. I really do. Never thought you'd grow up to be as lovely as Celly. But a draconequus has got a reputation to maintain, a self-image thing. After being stuck on all these filler arcs, I have to see how this all finally ends.

*CHANGE how it ends! You can!*

I appreciate that beautiful...But I think it's a little too late for that now.

++++

"So why can't you copy Discord's magic again, Twilight?" Pinkie Pie asked. "Isn't it all just one simple Do-Whatever-You-Want Spell?"

"Believe me, I've given it a lot of thought, and I've come to the conclusion that, no: it's not just one 'Anything Goes' spell."

"Is it because Discord needs to do that finger-snap thing? You could probably conjure yourself fingers of your own, if push came to shove."

Twilight sighed. "I've narrowed it down to two possibilities. Either Discord creates all-new spells just before he casts them: an 'anvil appears above Twilight's head when she's in front of my throne right now' spell, a 'Fluttercruel grows fifty-feet tall when facing an Ursa Minor' spell... all as various and specified as the many, many twitches of your own Pinkie Sense."

"Or...?" Pinkie prompted.

"Or Discord's magic is just so crazy that you'd have to BE as crazy as him to get it."

(Or so uniquely sane your logic is incomprehensible to others so you appear insane.)

*I concur.*

"The only spell of Discord's I've been able to learn is his Destruction spell... and it seems different from everything else in his repertoire."

"Oh," Pinkie Pie said lowering her head a bit, "I see. . . . I, I guess we can't go for the quick-fix solution then."

"I'd have let Rainbow Dash kill me if I was all about quick fixes."

*You also wouldn't have had a single friend along with you to watch your back; not even Spike.*

"What Ah'm more concerned about, darlin'," AJ butted in, "is what them ghastly black threads were."

"The ones you said were covering me when I almost killed Pinkie Pie?"

"Frankly, we're all shocked that YOU weren't aware of them," Rarity added.

"I almost don't want to know. All I know is that I liked hurting her." Twilight shuddered.

"Ya think it had to do with you . . . getting replacements?" Spike asked. "A replacement horn and a replacement Element of Magic?"

"No. If anything they helped stop it. Magica and Trixie weren't evil souls, after all."

"Who?" asked Apple Pie, about Trixie.

"Who?" chorused Spike, about Magica.

Twilight quickly explained about both the dead ponies.

"So that really is Magica's horn?" Apple Pie asked, gently touching it.

"At least until my head gets blown off again."

Derpy didn't like how Apple Pie didn't so much as flinch at that statement.

"The thing about the Elements is -- with the strange exception of Rarity -- they can't be TAKEN, they have to be given."

"I was able to take the Element of Magic from you." Pinkie pointed out. "I'm not PROUD of it, but I was."

"Perhaps so. Still, it wasn't quite as compatible as you were probably expecting, right?"

"Point taken."

"Ah still find it surprisin' that an empty boaster like Trixie had Magic in 'er. She was the last pony Ah'd think would have it. No offense."

"Not if you've read the rest of the seasons," Pinkie Pie said. They all looked at her. "Never mind."

"I don't care about any of that." Derpy said, "We're all together. We can save Everypony and Sparkler still! That's what matters."

"Agreed." Rarity said.

Pinkie Pie hopped up and nuzzled Derpy. "That's the spirit!"

Spike asked, "Pinkie Pie, if your colors are all back and you're you again, why is your mane still all straight?"

The mares looked at Spike for what they considered a tactless question.

"Maybe I'm finally growing up? Becoming a mare?"

"And a very fine mare ya are, darlin'." AJ hugged her.

"We are all proud of you," Rarity said.

"Thanks." Pinkie Pie hugged her too. "Uh, when you say 'we,' do you mean all us Element Bearers, or 'us' as in all the souls housed inside you?"

"Oh right, that." Rarity's ears wilted. "Both. And before anypony asks, it's all consensual between me and the ghosts."

"Nopony was suggesting it wasn't, darlin'."

"Applejack … can I ask you something?" Twilight asked. "What was it like having a big brother? And was your heart stronger for it?"

"That's a surprisin' question."

"It's just... I've never had any big brothers or sisters, I've had my parents and Spike, but not any siblings to look up to. To be there while I had my muzzle buried in a book trotting down the street. What it's like?"

"Look at us, darlin'." AJ smiled.

"Eh?"

"You've looked out for us, you've brought us back together, you've protected and cared about us, you've been alongside us, ya've been an older siblin' ta us, it's a part of you."

"Except you'd have to have a blue mane, if you became a big brother," Pinkie Pie said, "Blue's more a colt's color than a filly's."

"Hey! Purple is too a guy's color!" Spike protested.

"You'd make pink look manly, dear." Rarity smiled up at Spike.

Pinkie smiled and laughed. "Well, we better get a move on before Discord works past his 'curses foiled again' phase."

"Yer right, we don't have that much time ta burn." AJ nodded gently nuzzling Pinkie's side.

"Alright then Elements of Harmony," Twilight declared, "Then the 'big brother' inside me is gonna continue to shield us."

+++

Minty flailed in the fiery mane of the giant unicorn/pegasus, her body burning endlessly.

Pinkie Pie watched from the gray ground, trying to help her, but was always pushed back by a horde of other foals.

"Why are you hurting me?" The little green filly begged in confusion.

The purple pony in armor answered: "Any hurt on you is reflected on her several fold. I need no other reason."

Then the foals all attacked Minty, kicking and biting her.

The giant purple unicorn/pegasus had gave them all masks of Pinkie Pie's face. They all laughed at Minty. They put a collar on the real Pinkie Pie's neck with the spikes inwards and chained her to the ground, making her watch.

"Pinkie Pie!" She cried underneath the vicious horde.

Pinkie futility pulled at the chain, "Miiiinnty! Miiinty!"

*STOP! THAT IS ENOUGH!!*

The world shattered. Leaving only little Minty and little Pinkie Pie. The damage to them was gone.

*I'm sorry. Please. Enjoy one kind memory before awakening.*

Suddenly they were in the park again. The two friends nuzzled, and Pinkie Pie introduced Minty to her six other friends. Minty was disappointed none of them were green. What? She liked green.

"Wish you could have been a bit younger," Scootaloo said looking at the older filly.

"Scootaloo, that's a selfish wish," Cheerilee said.

"Yes big sister," The orange Earth Pony replied sullenly.

"Don't worry, I'm a unicorn and I don't mind another Earth Pony in the herd," The smallest of the fillies said, Sweetie Belle, smiling.

"Hello, I'm Rainbow Dash, who always dresses in style," the earth pony filly said with a hint of dramatic flare. "What's your dress size?"

"Green."

Rainbow sweat-dropped. "That's not a dress size darling."

Minty tilted her head. "It isn't?"

"Let me get the camera!" Toola-Roola said, "I can't wait to paint this! This is great! I'm gonna need to paint your picture later! But let's get a new group shot first!"

"I'm Cheerilee, this as you heard, is my little sister Scootaloo," Cheerilee said, "You look like a filly with lots of interesting stories to tell."

"Oh I do about green socks, green flowers. Heeey, have I seen you before? I think you were a unicorn."

"Hehheh. That would be a fun story, but since Scootaloo is an Earth Pony, it only makes sense I am too."

"And I'm the beautiful Starsong Melody!" The pegasus fluttered above the group. Flutter? Was she a flutterpony? Naw. She was a pegasus. "I'm going to have to come up with an extra line to the group song for you!" She smiled at the challenge.

"Group song?" Minty asked.

"Sure! It's starts like this,

"My little pony, My little pony,

---

I opened my eyes. I looked at my green hooves and cutie mark, three rock candies, not three peppermint candies. That Minty sure loved green.

I looked at Rainbow Dash, the adult pegasus, not a filly earth pony, still sleeping. I hoped she woke up soon. Uncle Apple Computer was trying to figure out how to feed her through her coma. Maybe immortals didn't need to eat?

I thought about the Earth pony I just dreamed about, from the memories of the Minty who existed before me. So beautiful. So different from this athletic pony. I gently stroke the rainbow pegasus' mane. I listen to her breath rise and fall. I remember Twilight's memories, of this pony. Remember how graceful she was in the sky. Maybe some of that Rainbow Dash was still here after all.

Rainbow Dash. Cheerilee. Sweetie Belle. Toola-Roola. Scootaloo. Starsong Melody. I'll never forget you.

Pinkie Pie. I want us to meet again, the real you, not a monster. I'm sure Twilight will save you.

++++

"Halt! You shall not pass!"
"Halt! We shall defend!"
"Halt! We really like saying 'halt'!"

"Hiiii-yaaaaa!" Rarity let out her battle cry. Followed by Spike, Derpy, and Twilight. AJ covered Apple Pie's eyes.

"Halt! OW!"
"Halt! I've fallen and I can't get up!"
"Halt! We surrender!"

All in all, the ninja-pirate-mutant-killer-bees weren't that much of a challenge.

"Everypony is kung-fu fighting! We were as fast as lightning!" Pinkie Pie hopped along, taking up the rear.

She fired her party cannon the opposite direction of the fight, taking out the Shadow-Beast-Of-The-Third-Unresolved that had been sneaking up behind them. Its remaining thirteen arms beat a hasty retreat.

"Harmony detected. Must protect vee chaos of lord Discord. Destroy all harmony."

"Hey, wait a minute. You're supposed to destroy harmony, but protect chaos," Apple Pie observed. She then gave a laugh. "But Half-light, Rarity, and Aunt AJ all have chaos AND harmony in 'em, so how can yah protect them and destroy them at the same time?"

The head of the giant-cyborg-spider-vampire that had suddenly risen up beside them suddenly exploded spectacularly from the paradox, followed by its body, Twilight shielding the mortal members of the group from shrapnel, then rubbing Apple Pie's mane.

"Why do paradoxes always make robots explode?" Rarity asked, confused. "Shutting them down I understand but exploding?"

"Knowing Discord, he probably designed it that way," Twilight remarked.

The Magnificent 300 Goblin-Cowboy-Samurai swarmed the heroes from all both hallway directions. "LEEEROY-PINKEENS!"

"So, Applejack dear, have you thought about what kind of world we'll make once Discord is no more?" Rarity asked as she threw diamond blades in every direction, not one hitting her friends.

"Ah figured it would be Celestia's call what kinda world we'll make." AJ replied, Magnificent Goblin-Cowboy-Samurai #172 or 'Clyde' going through an illusionary AJ and getting clothslined by the real thing.

"Really Applejack. Ponies have been doing their hardest to live without Celestia for a thousand years. We can't simply go back to the way things were."

"Doesn't mean we can't try." AJ slammed MGCS #119 'Bob' and MGCS #113 'George's heads into each other with another decoy. "I know we've all changed, but it shouldn't ALL be about making a clean slate! There are SOME things from the good ol' days I'd like to bring back."

"Really, Applejack? Like your apple farm? We don't even know if rocks will still be edible after Discord is gone. Yet you promised not to force them to farm apples again."

Derpy rammed head first through MGCS #180 through #185. Tom. Dick. Larry. Olson. Terry and Tim.

"Pinkie Pie's half of the family could do it, so can we."

"What I'm saying Applejack dear, is ponies have worked with the sweat of their flanks even with parasprites like Discord hovering over them."

Apple Pie had finished talking MGCS #009 into taking up knitting. "Big Lamppost Discord ain't a parasprite."

"Figure of speech, dearie." Pinkie Pie said, who was playing evasive rather than offensive.

"Pinkie Pie! I need a party cannon barrage!" Twilight shouted.

"Uh. I'm feelin' a little tired, and, these guys aren't-OW! That mean. They're just doin' their duty, right?"

"UGH! Pinkie! Spike! Full spread! Everypony down!"

"So as I was saying," Rarity continued as she hit the floor, "These ponies have earned what they have. Why should they swear their loyalty to Celestia after all this time?"

"Cause she's the rightful princess that's why! She's always been kind ta us."

"She might be kind Applejack, but really, Applejack, she and her sister merely have the job of raising and lowering the sun and moon. That'd give them legal shares to farming, lumbering, and countless other businesses that is only rightfully theirs, but that doesn't automatically grant right to rule."

MGCS #111 Gus was emptying shots at Pinkie Pie, but her Pinkie Sense told her where every bullet was going before he even took aim.

"Ya can't go on speakin' 'bout economy in Discord's world! Everythin' gets twisted about so often it's a wonder we ain't reduced to livin' in wigwams."

"We were, for a year or two that one century," Twilight pointed out.

"I'm talking about after Discord is gone and society rebuilds. Equestria's government of old is completely gone. You can't just expect ponies to latch onto an old system once the corrupt current one is gone."

"HA! Our cloaks of invisibility protected us!" Shouted the MGCS together having avoided incineration.

"That's ninjas!" Pinkie Pie protested.

"We borrowed them." MGCS #199 'Megan' said sheepishly.

"Maybe, but ponies will need somepony to look up, somepony they can love and believe in, and Celestia's always been able to fill that there role. Princess Luna just wanted ponies ta notice she existed."

"Ponies should turn to and look up to themselves."

"BANZAI!" MGCS #259 'Awesome McCool' engaged in epic sword to hoof combat with Derpy, and lost. "But at least, I was awesome . . ."

"Rarity, when all ya look up to is yerself, ya find ya don't reach all that high. Ever hear the story of the King Of Dot Land?"

"Oh oh oh!" I know this one!" Pinkie Pie said throwing pies at MGCS #038 'Simon' but her aim was off and she had to climb the walls to avoid his sword. "He was a dot in a zero-dimensional world, and since he had nothing to compare himself to, he thought he was all powerful."

"Exactly," AJ said, MGCS #201 Alfred nearly took off her head. "Ya cut mah hat!"

"You've knocked out several dozen of my buddies!"

"Oh right. Just tryin' ta save the world. Nothin' personal."

"Ditto." AJ kicked him through the ceiling.

"Now, Rarity, Ah agree that ponies deserve what they get through their own sweat blood and tears, you don't get to be a farmer without seein' that. But it ain't just about ourselves. It's about others too. We're our strongest together, not just lookin' out for what each of us wants."

"Then why look up at a single pony?"

"Rarity, I'm with Applejack here, no offense," said Derpy, dizzying one of their opponents with a tornado.

"None taken, your honest opinion please."

"Me, and Roseluck for a little while, we both looked up to the Doctor, he inspired us both. I wouldn't be here right now if he wasn't there to light the way. We both worked hard and even saved the world once or twice… one time was an accident, I didn't know sitting there would make the entire assembly line blow up, but we did our part to help BECAUSE he inspired us. Is that what you mean, AJ?"

"Somethin' like that."

Rarity asked deflecting bullets, "Derpy, no offense, but how many of those dangers would you have been in if not for him?"

"Uh . . . one?"

"And who did you have lined-up to look after Dinky if something happened to you?"

"The Doctor said he was a good caretaker."

That lie was so big Rarity was able to detect it through the pony it was told to!

"Another thing Ah learned as a farmer was respectin' those with more experience than ya. And Celestia's got tons more than even us. She wasn't Princess just 'cause she held the sun hostage over it, or whatever."

"Ladies, it's a fascinating discussion you're having, but why not save it for after we beat Discord?" Spike said as he rolled around in Goblin-Cowboy-Samurai.

"Spike." Rarity was surprised then said, "You're right. Liberate the world first, debate politics later."

MGCS #300 'Shane' fired his six shooters at Twilight, whose barrier sent them back, but Shane's sword deflected them all. Then his watch beeped. "Okay boys! And ladies! Wrap it up! Time to leave."

The Magnificent Goblin Cowboy Samurai 300 immediately withdrew taking their injured and fallen with them.

MGCS #300 waved, "Ta-ta."

"What do you mean 'Ta-ta?!'" Spike exclaimed.

"Oh. Well, our contract with Discord just expired. So we're no longer under any obligation to defend the jerk. But it's dishonorable to attack someone whose contract you just fulfilled. So we'll be seeing you. Maybe we can get turned back into hot virgacorn super-models after we leave the castle. Bye-bye."

The MGCS gave an honorable bow then vanished as quickly as they came as ninja tend to do instead of Samurai.

Spike just stared while Pinkie and Apple Pie waved. "Maybe we should escort them out."

"Spike, are you forgetting I'm the only hot pony with a horn you need?"

"Yes, dear, I was just... curious."

++++

"You've made smashing progress, dearie, and I love the rainbows, they're wonderful!" Said the mare Earth pony Rainbow Dash to me.

I look at the massive drawing across the clouds. "But . . . but there's so much left to do." I said looking at how much of the picture wasn't colored in yet.

"You've started, it would be wrong to just stop now." The pink pegasus with the blue lightning cutie mark said to me.

"But I'm so tired. It's taken this long to get this much done . . . maybe I should just go play with the others." I see Gildie, and Scootaloo waving at me.

"You're free to do that if that's your choice, Rainbow Dash."

"Posey?" Firefly blinked. "When did you get wings?"

"I'm sorry, Posey is... part of my family, but my name is Fluttershy." In front of me was a beautiful mare. She was in a white flowing dress, flowers in her mane, with blue birds chirping and flying around her. Light shining behind her making her look like she had a halo.

"Ick. Yer all girlie," I said right at her.

Big Rainbow Dash puts a hoof on my shoulder, "Now don't be rude, darling. I know you don't mind being pretty."

"Hey! I'm the toughest, raddest flyer there is!"

"I'm not saying you're not, darling, but you can't deny you like being pretty, especially compared to how Applejack was in Ponyville."

"That's not true! We were both badflank!"

"Now dear, didn't you like the dress Rarity made for you? And you wanted to look your prettiest for Princess Star-Catcher, I meant Celestia."

"I . . . I guess."

"So just cause you like . . ."

"-Experiencing danger and seeing just how high we can fly," Said Firefly.

"Yes, doesn't mean you can't enjoy looking pretty for others and yourself. So please don't deride others for wanting to put effort into their appearance."

I look up at Fluttershy, "I'm sorry for callin' ya 'all girly.'"

"It's alright Rainbow Dash, think nothing of it." She knelt down and hugged with me forehooves. "I am pretty girly, after all."

That was when I finally noticed. "Fluttershy, you have scars on your legs . . . wings . . . Celestia, they're everywhere."

She smiled at me, "It's alright, Rainbow. These were... ill-conceived gifts from somepony who honestly tried to say she loved me."

"Who could be so stupid to think that hurting you is loving you?"

"Don't call her stupid, please, Rainbow Dash she . . . I won't say she was 'born wrong,' but she was born sick, drew on another's memories for who she was, and as her sickness got worse, her nastiest impulses were encouraged rather than curbed. It was like she was born in a straightjacket, and grew up thinking the straightjacket was a part of her. She thought love was 'lame.' She thought those who rejected love were 'cool,' yet at the same time she craved love. She still does. In the end, I accepted that she was loving me, in her own maladjusted way. But she wouldn't see, couldn't see. . . or maybe she could and was simply never taught to care, that ponies around her had value beyond just entertaining her and her father."

"So if she really did love you, why didn't you try to help her? Teach her?"

"At first, she didn't even know I was there. At first I didn't know I was there. We thought we really WERE the same person. Then, when that stopped, she thought I was a ghost, or a disease that was supposed to just fade away. When we both realized the truth, I tried to take the reigns from her, but the grayness was like a wall of smog, choking my voice. And she was so powerful. I couldn't stop her from doing anything.

" . . . I wanted to die, Rainbow Dash. Being powerless, it was the only way left I could think of to get the nightmare to END. Wash my hooves of the shame of all she was doing in my name, of the hopelessness state of our world. I saw all of you, and you were just horrid strangers to me. Then after Avalon was destroyed, Queen Cadence came, and she took me away. . . . but I don't hate my baby . . ."

"I hate her. She's a monster."

"Maybe she is a monster, because foals can be the cruelest of all monsters. I want to believe, if I could have broken through the grayness, spoken through the smog, I could have saved her, and all of you . . ."

Fluttershy was crying.

"Oh . . oh look at me, look at me. Rainbow Dash I came here to help you and here I am explaining to the filly inside you my pain shouldering my burdens on you. I'm still selfish. And I'm still weak."

I look at her, it felt so horribly, so horribly wrong to see her crying like this. I looked back at my friends, wanting me to play with them. The two other mares only closed their eyes and lowered their heads, the pegasus folding her wings.

"If you really couldn't do anything, then you couldn't do anything, you weren't given a choice. I always had a choice staring me in the face, but I was too buried in myself to ever see it. You kept trying your hardest. Me? I folded like paper. I went from abandoning you all for Cloudsdale's sake to doing anything Discord could think of while he held whoever he felt like hostage. It's . . . it's not right to compare my choices to yours but . . . Fluttershy I wouldn't be a friend if I chose to ignore your hurt."

I nuzzled her, she nuzzled me back, she folded her wings around me. "I . . . I'm sorry. . . I'd have come sooner but . . . you wouldn't let me in before."

"I didn't even know you were knocking. I wasn't letting ANYONE in before. I'm sorry."

"Look at me, I came here to help you, and you end up giving me strength instead."

"It's my 'strength' to give or whatever."

"But you're just a foal here, you still have a lot of learning and growing to do yet. You need all the inner strength you can get . . . were you about to give up and just stay here?"

"Of-of course not! No way I'd ever do that!"

Firefly whistled innocently. Big Rainbow Dash hummed to herself.

"Of course you wouldn't." Fluttershy smiled. "After all, when I was hurt just now, you were willing to give me strength, even when you needed it too. Only a friend would do that. Only a friend willing to take the right way instead of the easy way would do that. Only a pony who still has inner strength could do that."

"I . . . I guess you're right."

"There you see?" She patted me on the mane, "That wasn't so hard was it?"

"Wait. You talked so much about being hurt, but, but you pick me up with just a few words?"

"Rainbow Dash dear, would you want me to spend even longer talking? You're the pony of action remember?"

I blushed till my blue fur looked purple. "I . . . guess yer right."

"There's a good filly." She hugged me again. I returned her hug at once. I feel so safe with her now, so warm, so open, she's so different from how she was a second ago, I feel her scars, but I don't mind. I'm surprised when big Rainbow Dash and Firefly join in the hug too. I feel happy. I don't really notice Gildie and Scoots are fillin' in the picture behind my back. I don't mind.

What do I want? What do I really? If I'm not being forced to do something because of 'loyalty' if it isn't an 'obligation' if I'm really actually given a choice. What do I actually want?

My friends all choose to spare and try to save me, but what choice do I want to make?

++++

"Did you see that? It was great! It was so exciting! I thought it was exciting! Did you think it was exciting? Of course you thought it was exciting! Cause it was exciting! Whoo-hoo!" The butter-scotch dragon had surrendered after Twilight's brilliant plan, Spike's fire-breath, and Pinkie's tongue had reduced the dragon to action figure size.

"Well they say imitation is the highest form of flattery," Pinkie Pie said tilting her head at Twilight, herself walking at a calm steady pace a little slower than the rest. "Want a piggyback ride, Apple Pie?"

"Sure, Aunt Pinkie!" Apple Pie said, and clamored atop the back of the mare who'd tired to kill her three times.

Twilight continued to hop along like a hyperactive frog. "And we're all back together again! It's so great! Like a thousand years ago! This time we're going to do it right and everything will be okay!" Twilight cheered.

No one had the heart to bring up the fact that Dash still hadn't explicitly SAID she was on their side now. (Maybe she'd fled to a foreign land? Was she still unconscious?) And as for Fluttershy, well... Rarity and Applejack looked at Twilight, then at Pinkie Pie, then at each other, sharing a knowing glance.

"So Twilight," Spike said, looking worried, but trying to hide it. "Now that you're not immortal, don't you think you should stay closer to our healers?"

"Oh don't be silly, Spike, I'm still immortal."

"But . . . don't you have an Element of Harmony instead of an Element of Chaos?"

"Magic is special among the Elements, Spike. It's Tragedy AND Friendship. Since I've awakened to both sides, the Element of Magic is Chaos and Harmony at the same time!"

Nopony commented on the catwalk of soapboxes that had appeared underneath Twilight's hooves. Apple Pie couldn't help laughing at the apparent paradox of what she said.

"How can you be so sure?" Spike asked. "Did . . Trixie tell you or something?"

"Oh nothing like that! You see, Pinkie Pie was right when she . . . was with me before. The spell keeping us immortal is a constant spell, like a piece of clothing you can take on or off or the settings on a machine, not an instantaneous spell where the result is the subject's new natural state. So I returned to my physical prime, because when I inserted the Element of Magic, I effectively put the spell back on. I don't have any information on what long-term exposure to the Element of Harmony would do to a subject though. We've seen Derpy, Spike, and Apple Pie don't instantly heal from anything like us. But we've already seen the Harmony Elements aren't as . . ." She glanced at Rarity, "Forceful."

"Then maybe we could have waited to draw Discord out? And Apple Pie isn't going to die of old age?" Rarity asked.

"Ah'm gonna, we're gonna live forever?" Apple Pie asked suddenly feeling a tiny bit excited.

Applejack pushed her hat down to hide her disappointment.

"I never said that. I simply don't have enough data to form a proper hypothesis."

"Heads up!" Derpy warned, interrupting the tender moment. "We got company!"

Everypony and dragon was instantly on guard.

Twilight counted about ten ponies in total, all mares, mostly Earth ponies.

"Whadda bunch of funny-lookin' ladies," Apple Pie said.

They were all wearing filthy maid uniforms of different styles, colors, patterns, and designs, ranging from garish colors, plaids, polkadots, to ever shape shifting two-layer colors.

"Oh, it's just the dirt maids," AJ said.

"Ya guys got maids? Whoa," Apple Pie said.

"I think I've seen them dirtying the outside of the castle before." Derpy said.

"Now would be a good time to remember I had the dirt-maids act as sparing partners and babysitters for my apprentices... whenever I needed to leave them at home."

"Oh right." Rarity said. "I feel so not right doing this. Still . . . " Rarity bit her foreleg and created a diamond rapier she floated next to her. "For the higher cause, sacrifices must be made."

"Don't you mean 'maid?'" Pinkie Pie asked.

"Not now, Pinkie Pie."

Then the herd stopped in front of the heroes, completely unarmed, and politely bowed together smiling and echoed, "Good day, Mistress Twilight Tragedy!"

The pony who stepped forward had a faded pink Mane with brown roots and a faded grey blue coat and her cutie mark was a paper with a contorted and crazy quill dipped in multi-colored ink. She curtsied in front of the heroes and the maids behind her a moment later did the same. "Greetings Mistress Rarigreed. Mistress Liarjack. Miss Dizty Doo. And Noble Steed Kenbroath Gillspotten Heathspike The Seventh. Mistress Angry Pie, is this a new apprentice you have taken under your wing?"

Pinkie Pie blinked and the two looked at each other.

"They sure aren't, so worry tons about her," AJ said quickly. "Her name isn't Mapple Pie."

"A pleasure to meet you, Mistress Mapple Pie, I hope your stay at Awesome and Totally Awesome Discord's Castle of Chaos is a happy one for you. I am Head house-maid Espi Lion."

A green pegasus (or appeared to be) mare with a brown mane and a teddy bear cutie mark bowed next, "I am Nursery maid Before Four. I'd assist you in anything you wish mistress Mapple Pie."

Another maid with a light green coat,but with a bright blue mane with a braid. Her mark was a swirl of water dotted with flowers. "Kitchen Maid Evangelian."

The next had a Golden mane and tail and black coat, with what looked like a lump of gold (but actually iron pyrite) for a cutie mark. "Lady's Maid Air Dasher. Good . . . . well, it isn't day or night right now, is it Mistress Rarigreed?"

"'Evening,' Air Dasher. The term you're looking for is 'evening.'" Rarity said.

"Good evening, Mistress Rarigreed."

Dark blue eyes, dark blue mane, dark blue coat, the only thing not dark blue about her was the dice on her flanks. "Chamber Maid Buddy."

Next (appeared at least), to be a unicorn with light purple hair light blue body and a maid outfit cutie mark. "Chamber Maid, Laundry Maid, and Palor Maid Untitled Work."

Blue coat, orange mane, and cutie mark of a microscope. "Still Maid Quick Silver."

A plain earth pony; light brown coat and slightly darker mane/tail, and hazel colored eyes. Her Cutie Mark for writing was a a quill and scroll. "Housekeeper Dragon Twilight."

The penultimate mare had a medium dark red coat with an orange yellow mane. She had a red hooded cloak for her cutie mark, "Between Maid Game Master."

The last one looked like a pegasus, had had blue fur, purple eyes, and dark blue mane, and a campfire for a cutie mark. "Scullery Maid Alexi."

Espi Lion shook her head, "Sadly we can't acquaint you with the castle today, Mistress Mapple Pie."

'We've all come to destroy you.' Twilight expected the maids to chorus.

"We've been given the . . . evening off." they said.

"What?" The bearers all echoed.

"Great Window Wiper Discord has warned us that evil chaos hating jerk-losers are invading the castle, and this world will be destroyed soon. So he's asked us to evacuate to Mr. Ponythulu's abode for the, er, evening." Espi Lion said all this in a perfectly happy and ladylike tone. "He told us there is a castle he has put aside for us that we can then go to and dirty up and keep ready all we want waiting for new Ladies of the House. But I'm sure Master Pizza Box Discord will be able to save the world. Master can do anything."

The other nine maids all smiled and nodded.

"Are you sure none of you wish to become what you were and go back where you came from like the rest of the maid staff?" Twilight asked.

"We thank you again for the offer Mistress Twilight Tragedy. But we have found happiness as we are, and we would never abandon each other. And Master Discord has never treated us wrong."

"If you don't count the kidnapping and the brainwashing," Spike said under his breath.

"Kidnapping and brainwashing were included in our contracts. In point zero zero one font," Air Dasher said smiling sincerely.

"I . . . I guess we'll be seeing you later, then."

"We hope to serve you later, Mistress Twilight Tragedy." Espi Lion curtsied, her nine sisters did the same as they passed the Element of Magic, marching to the Inverted Vortex and gateway to Ponythulu's realm (where he had already baked cookies and heated some tea in anticipation of his house guests).

(Annoying Ponythulu.)

*He's nice once you get to know him.*

(Nice but annoying.)

The castle might have always been changing shape and configuration, but Twilight could still apply some maverick logic. Twilight knew how lazy Discord could be, he always kept his bedroom and throne room and the kitchen always close together. And Discord never let those ever be on the top or ground floor, or next to any of the outer walls. Usually. Often enough. They also always kept their distance from the gardens. So Twilight just had to crunch the numbers to figure out the most likely of spots that Discord would have retreated to.

'Discord loves his theatrics way too much. He'll want a big showdown in his throne room. And that's where he'll be. Or maybe the hedge maze, for irony. But best to check the throne room first.

Pinkie Pie choose to take the rear instead of Spike, still walking calmly and deliberately instead of with her energized bouncing, now favoring her formerly broken leg a little bit. She also had Apple Pie trot alongside her instead of carrying on her back now.

Several loud and annoying talking crayon notes later, the ponies and dragon entered a room Twilight and Applejack remembered very well.

"Mother! Is that you?!"

Derpy's heart skipped a beat. "SPARKLER!"

Galloping and panting, in came Sparkler. Derpy knew every detail on the unicorn. Amethyst eyes. Violet coat. Dark lavender mane with a lighter color going through her mane on one side and through her tail. Her three diamond cutie mark.

Derpy flew straight towards her, Rarity and Twilight both caught the pegasus in their telekinesis; AJ caught her by the tail, and Spike grabbed her from behind in his claws. "OW! LET ME GO! SPARKLER!"

"Mother, it's you! It's you!"

"We've been fooled by Discord before." Twilight said. Her horn glowed. "Hmmm... I don't sense Discord's mind control… Or bombs inside her."

"She smells like Sparkler," Spike said.

AJ said, "That's no illusion, it's her."

"There's a soul there, it's not a construct, or Discord shape-shifted," Rarity said.

Apple Pie said, "So that's . . . that's yer other daughter, Miss Derpy?"

"Yes . . ." Derpy whispered, "Yes it's her." She felt tears in her eyes.

Sparkler came up to the heroes but stopped at a safe distance under Rarity's stern look.

"First question, Sparkler." Rarity said, "What happened to you?"

"I . . I was, the statue I was, was in the castle gallery and . . . a yellow spirit with a pink mane and blue eyes came inside, and we touched. And I was flesh and blood again!"

Twilight whispered, "Fluttershy, I knew it, I knew she'd be there for us!"

Twilight released Derpy from the other's grip all on her own. Derpy didn't hesitate to fly to hug her daughter, who seemed startled by the show of affection. "Mom?"

"It's okay dear, I promise, I won't let that awful Discord do anything else to you. Dinky is waiting for us. She'll be so happy to see you again." Derpy whispered, folding her wings around her and gently nuzzling her. Sparkler shivered.

"T-Thank you." Sparkler said, her voice almost…conflicted.

The two of them looked as lovely together as a statue in a museum.

Was Sparkler crying?

Then Pinkie Pie kicked Sparkler in the jaw.
A floating pistol, enveloped in purple magic, fired off a shot.
The bullet just barely missed Derpy.
Derpy punched Pinkie Pie in the eye, blackening it.
The bruise around her eye didn't vanish.

Diamonds as sharp as knives materialized and fired in every direction, zeroing in on the Element Bearers like guided missiles.

In a quick montage, Pinkie Pie assembled a barricade of mattresses, got into a labor dispute with herself, renegotiated her own contract, and finished the barricade with no time to spare. She panted heavily. The barricade fell apart into nothing.

Rarity cut herself and sent a steel spear right at Sparkler. Derpy dove to take the shot for her daughter.

Sparkler was caught in Twilight's magic.

"Dammit, I'm too slow!" Sparkler cursed. "Shouldn't have hesitated!"

Twilight had to break contact as a diamond dagger came right at her throat.

Spike and Apple Pie could only look on in shock.

AJ and Rarity rushed to Derpy's side. Instead of taking the spear out and opening up the wound, Rarity created another one and threw at Sparkler full force.

Sparkler bit into her fetlock. A diamond wall blocked the new spear. "That was too close."

Spike exclaimed. "He made Sparkler an Element of Cruelty?! How?!"

"I won't let you hurt Daddy Discord."

"DISCORD IS SPARKLER'S FATHER?" Twilight heard herself gasp.

"WOW HE ISN'T!!!!!" Derpy roared.

"He's remote-controlling her body!" AJ gasped.

"Alternate reality doppelgänger!" Apple Pie suggested.

"No!" Pinkie Pie shouted, "Look at her back!"

Glowing on Sparkler's backside, was a symbol similar to theirs, shaped like a heart made out of curved swords.

"No . . ." Derpy's ears and wings fell flat. Her eyes went into totally different directions as her eyes widened in saucers. "Muffin, needs won't we wrong. Blue wrote so card two met here."

"Impossible." Rarity whispered. Then shouted. "I KILLED YOU!"

"You killed mother's body. I hate you for that. And you were able to swipe a piece of jewelry, you klepto-rock witch, but my soul and mind remain!"

Rarity growled, "I should have known from the start, I am such a fool! When I absorbed the other Elements, I took in the lingering echoes of their old master's spirit. I felt nothing inside yours. I should have realized it meant something!"

Apple Pie whimpered and huddled next to Pinkie Pie.

Spike's jaw dropped causing a tremor.

AJ shook her head in horror.

Pinkie Pie blinked away tears.

Twilight felt her hooves shaking.

"What? No self-righteous quips? No low dark vows to kill me where I stand? No declarations to steal my new body back? Seriously I was expect more."

"No. It's honestly, really, truly, sincerely not fair!" Spike snapped at her.

"I didn't hear any of you bitch and whine when Tragedy cheated death."

Twilight found herself lost for a retort.

"Well, uh..." Pinkie Pie started, then decided to shut her mouth.

(WHAT IS THIS?! THAT'S NOT HOW THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO GO AT ALL! YOU SHOULD BE DEAD, YOU WORTHLESS NAG!!!)

"How did YOU BREAK OUT of Hell?!" AJ asked.

"I didn't 'break out.' I never entered Hell. A Thestral TRIED to escort me there, and I fed him his own wings for his trouble."

"WEAVE ME RACK BY MUFFIN!" Derpy snapped.

"This is impossible!" Twilight shouted. "How did Discord do this?! Did he leave Sparkler dying in Fluttershy's body and place you in hers?!"

"What a fun theory, Twilight, but no. To be honest, I was kinda surprised myself. Dad sure was impressed and relieved. Apparently, our family has a handy anti-death failsafe. If our physical body is killed by a non-draconequi, our spirit lingers. And then we can take any NEW body we want!"

"Why my Sparkler?! Give her back!"

"Not happening, jumble-mouth. After five hundred years that little empty room in my soul is gonna be full again. With a playmate who can never die!" She giggled like a hyena on helium (or a lobotomized first grader), grinning with wild eyes. "After five hundred years I'm not alone. When we're together I'm going to love her with all my heart!"

More gasps.

Twilight felt dizzy. "Discord would . . . if we killed HIM he'd . . . "

Spike said confidently, "Fluttercruel's just feeding us a cheap lie, right, Rarity? AJ?"

The two mares silently shook their heads. Spike's face fell.

"Dad said it was alright for me to spoil that part," 'Sparkler' said. "Goes to show, the best you can hope to do is contain chaos. Eventually, it'll always break free. You never had a chance to win. Not for good. A thousand, ten thousand years as stone? What does that matter to an immortal Concept? All your hopes, and beliefs, are utterly worthless."

Rarity narrowed her eyes.

"STOP SAYING THOSE AWFUL THINGS WITH SPARKLER'S MOUTH!" Derpy flew at 'Sparkler' a gray and blond wild beast with a bubbles cutie mark.

"MY GRANDPA!" Sparkler spat, the way Twilight had once heard Cadence swear, 'My Auntie!'

Sparkler screamed in shock as she frantically dodged Derpy's attacks, used to a faster pegasus body. "This is your own daughter here, Herp-a-Derp! Don't you even care?! You're betraying her!"

"I won't let you hurt her!!!!" Derpy retorted almost madly.

"What kind of lousy mother are you?!"

"I'm sorry, Sparkler! If you can hear me: Mother's sorry! She's just so sorry! But Dinky, and so many other mothers and daughters out there are counting on me! Mommy loves you! And she's just so sorry!" Then her angry eyes fixed on the wretched thing wearing her skin. "And Mommy will FREE your soul from being this monster's forever-plaything, WHATEVER the cost to myself!"

"My mother would never have never done that! If she had to choose between Equestria and me she'd have made the choice any mother should!"

Applejack snapped. "Fluttershy'd never be that selfish!"

"I lived with my mother for five hundred years, you DARE think you know better than me? I was born with every last one of her memories of her life! Noequus knows her better than me!" 'Sparkler' roared, indignant and insulted.

"You didn't learn a thing from her if you think it's alright to hurt ponies!" Pinkie Pie shouted.

"You mean like how Twilight hurt you, Angry Pie?!"

Pinkie Pie trembled as 'Sparkler' dodged Derpy's attacks, getting the hang of the unicorn body quickly.

"My-My friends stopped that bad version of me! Because that's what friends do! They protect each other and help each other when they fall into a black place!"

"And how many times did I try to make friends with you, Angry? Only for you to throw that all back in my face, time and time again?"

(Who'd want to be friends with a mad animal like you?)

She looked at Twilight, "So you like to rant against hypocrisy, huh? Try this on for size: Traitor Dash and Angry Pie kept trying to kill you, same as me and auntie! But you just kept asking them and got them to betray my dad!"

"'Your dad' has killed how many ponies? And how many have YOU killed, Cruel?" Rarity snapped trying to look for an opening in the flurry of gray feathers. "All for just your selfish, sadistic enjoyment?! Did you ever try to make friends with THEM? What flimsy sense of 'right and wrong' you possess can be boiled down to one simplistic slogan: 'Draconequui rule, everything else drools!"

"And did you ever show any compassion towards ME, Saint Rarigreed? The moment you learned I wasn't my mother, it was 'Okay, I can kill her with a clear conscience!'"

"You're a murdering psycho who doesn't even feel sorry for what she's done!" Spike shouted. Derpy was too close for fire breath.

'Spakler' bit back, "And that the 'murdering psycho who doesn't even feel sorry for what she's done' wasn't somepony you knew meant kill'em not disable or reason with them?

"How 'sorry' was Angry Pie when she tried to massacre you all?! How badly was she trying to kill you AFTER she'd 'killed' Tragedy?! And you were still trying to save her! But because I wasn't who you thought I was, my death's okay!"

AJ wanted to form a flurry of illusions to confuse the monster possessing Sparkler's body. And yet. . . what Cruel was saying gave her pause. . .

"Ponies like you TALK about mercy and compassion, TO PONIES YOU LIKE or have a connection to! Conscripts of the Big Bad Overlord? Dispose of without a second thought!"

"SHUT UP!" Derpy snapped.

"Tell me Element of Generosity, where was your sense of giving when Angry Pie 'killed' Twilight? See bad guy, kill bad guy, win hero medal!"

"I DIDN'T kill her though! I got over my initial instinct, unlike you! I helped hold Twilight back when SHE was ready to murder her!"

"No! You didn't do it because Rarigreed told you not to!

"Friend of mine betrayed our community? Tried to kill me twice? Tried to kill my other friends? Tried to kill my love interest? Joined the enemy? Tried to destroy our home? Joined our NEW enemy? She's just hurting inside! Hold back! Twilight, the moment she nearly killed you, what do you do? You were no different than me. You tortured her and enjoyed every second, didn't you? Only I did it to show love, what was your excuse, Miss Holier-Than-Thou?

"My teacher is a bigot, tried to kill me and my other teacher, and used me to steal something? BEAT HIM TO A BLOODY PULP LIKE THE ANIMAL HE IS! . . . You think your morals DON'T come down to who's closest to you too? You are a self-righteous deluded loser!"

Derpy managed a blow that sent her backwards skidding. 'Sparkler' got up and wiped the blood away, "Go ahead, give the self righteous speech about how completely wrong I am. Or just kill me where I stand and pretend I didn't say a thing. Whatever makes you feel better about yourself!"

Rarity sighed sadly. " . . . The cruel truth of the friendship of magic is . . . that you're right Fluttercruel."

Everypony and dragon looked at the Element of Honesty. They couldn't believe it. Had she really just said that? How could she?

"We as ponies do hesitate and make excuses for those we know more readily than those we don't. I am selfish like that. I was angry and hurt that our chances to save Fluttershy were lost five centuries ago. I didn't even try to think of saving her daughter who had committed sins just as ugly and murderous as ours. Spike was hungry for revenge after being so stubborn about wanting to save me, when I could have murdered Twilight in my mania just as easily. I was the only thing that stopped him from trying to kill Angry Pie."

Spike lowered his head, he had no words.

"And Twilight was selfish, begging and pleading with Rainbow Dash her entire fight, then embraced her rage like a lover as soon as Angry Pie succeeded where Rainbow Dash and I had both tried and failed. That is the cruel truth of the magic of friendship: we form double standards to those not connected to it."

Apple Pie looked in shock, AJ and Pinkie Pie hugged her. Pinkie Pie sighed. Derpy heard these things spoken with her daughter's voice, and couldn't just dismiss them.

Twilight spoke, "Yes, I was selfish like you said, Fluttercruel. But that doesn't mean what we've been fighting for or believe in is a lie. Nor does that make selfishness the whole story. It means we're flawed beings."

Spike rose his head.

"And we're all here to cover each other's flaws, as we all strive towards the light." Applejack said.

"That's part of the magic of friendship too," Twilight said.

Rarity said calmly, "I wasn't lying when I said I felt only Fluttershy could have ever saved you, and none of us are strong enough to. But maybe there's a part of your mother, if your soul really was born from hers, that can still save you. Maybe. The truth is that it's completely uncertain."

"But the reality remains that as long as Discord reigns, he will continue to cause the world far more misery and madness than happiness. And I'm willing to go through my best friend's wayward daughter to topple him. And Derpy will put her own innocent baby out of her misery if you make her."
****ING 64K Limit. If I knew this was gonna keep happening, I'd have signed up on Fimfiction.net sooner. AGAIN damn thing is meant to be one whole chapter. But might as well let you guys read the first half an get your feed back before posting the other half.

Everything goes off the rails, one trains car after the other.

What if Discord wasn't beaten? What if after a thousand years of slavery Twilight Tragedy finally rediscovers her soul? Anyone can die, living is the real challenge. It's time to save the world Mane Six!

Now take a look and begin to discover the true connection between the two time lines of the Pony POV Series.

Song is a parody/tribute of Miracle Of Sound's Joker Song. Lyrics by Kendell.

Previous Chapter: [link]

Next Chapter: [link]

First Chapter: [link]

The Pony POV Series Trope Page is feeling neglected. You can help keep it up to date! So many characters and so little description on the 'minor' ones. [link]

Check out the recursive fanfiction and fanart of the Pony POV Series! [link] Many of it approved by me as canon.

Did anyone else know about us now being on Fan Labor Wiki? This is a surprise to me.
[link]

[link]

Edited like mad by Kendell2 and Louis. And Kendell2 wrote more than a couple of the scenes too!
MLP FiM: Copyright Hasbro

20121224 Grammar Edits by R1ck3t
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The chapter begins with Discord crying in his bed. Through his personal TV he can see the heroes recovering from the last brutal battle but he doesn’t take the chance to cheap shot them. It is not of any kind of honor or fairness of course but Discord has given up trying it like this. He knows that it will always end the same. The Draconequus remembers two times were he tried cheap tactics… well cheaper tactics then what he does right now by sending super-powered assassins after them. And both times the heroes were saved by the aid of others like Hippogriffs or Diamond Dogs. Rancor is standing outside the door but the depressed Discord doesn’t let her in. Both he and the voice thought that the other Draconequus would change things but that didn’t happen. Discord laments that he was able to give Rosedust a fate worse then death but couldn’t make Angry Pie eternal. The voice calmly tells him that he it had to happen so that he could suffer from the loss. He complains that he practically would have preferred anybody over this voice from Morning Star, Venus, Rota Fortuna to Grogar. It is also hinted that the Draconequus is responsible for the voice being as she is now. She says it the best: He creates his worst enemies himself. Discord admits that he still doesn’t regret saving Pinkie Pie from Luna when the world was about to end but what he regrets is that he wasn’t able to let Pinkie fall in love with him. Even reading classic stories about women being stalked and imprisoned by men who loved them didn’t help him to figure it out.

(What a surprise. He will never understand it. He is doomed to endless repetition. Just like it should be.)

What the… Must be my imagination. Soon somebody else is at the door and while the story doesn’t reveal the identity of that person right now, there are several hints: The person is female, she looks different from before and she is family for Discord. It is not that hard to guess who this is. Her death scene was simply too short and clean to be true. Draconequus is surprised she even bothered to come and talks about how Angry Pie is dead. She doesn’t understand what he is talking about since the battle ended with Pinkie Pie surviving. But he just goes on about how they act so happy when she just died and that he can’t resurrect Pinkie since she is something so special and gained powers that make her basically a glitch in reality. He laments that he would have named their first child Distortion and he knows that this future exists; maybe he had taken a look into Truth. Seeing the world where he corrupted each hero perfectly did likely depress him. Then again if he perfectly corrupted Fluttershy, there would be no daughter of him but a corrupted Fluttershy, calling herself Fluttercruel. But in this world he is unable to have this family with Pinkie. Now the visitor pleads him to pull himself together and says that she will be always there for him.

(Next she will propose to him. Like it matters, I literally can’t get more disgusted about them.)

What? Moving on. She eventually cuts him in half to get his attention and he seems to calm down a bit. The voice tells him that by making Chaos the ruling concept on this world, he would have utterly destroyed Chaos itself. But then she tells him that Chaos didn’t even exist from the very start. Everything is just cause and effect. If you are smart enough to find the cause, you will know and be able to predict the effect it will result in. Everything is an endless pattern without free will. And she has a point. Even if Discord would still be the spirit of Chaos and not Disharmony, like Rancor herself admitted, then he would be the cause of all Chaos in the universe. The visitor feels rejected by Pinkie Pie and Discord talks briefly about another version of the events: Rainbow Dash fought alongside the heroes when the Valeyard went after them first but once the battle was over she turned against them and they had to kill Dash and Rarity got her Element of Treachery. She doesn’t understand what he is talking about and the voice mockingly offers him to explain the almost unexplainable situation to her again. We also get more hints who the visitor is: A purple pony with purple eyes and talking about being “soaking wet and clueless.”

Her talk about the murder of the heroes manages to cheer the Draconequus back up again. Now he wants to fight himself but she tells him that she will protect him and isn’t blaming him for almost dying. Actually she really should blame him since it was so easily avoidable from his side that it should bother her, that he didn’t lift a finger for her. He tells her that he does love her. Then he instantly reminds the reader that he is still the Complete Monster who offered to cure Berry Punch from the misery, he had caused her, if she and her child would play a drinking game. Both knew full well that it would kill the child and the mother drunk all of it herself, killing herself so that her daughter might live. He merely thinks that she was greedy when she sacrificed herself and didn’t even bother to remember her name. Discord and - there is little point in hiding it anymore – Fluttercruel both embrace each other, kiss and sing. They sing about how lonely they are since everyone just understandable wants to stay as far away as possible from them and that they truly don’t understand why there is no one willing to join them. They think that they are the only ones that understand each other.

And they have answered that question themselves. This is the path of evil. Both cause endless misery to others for their own entertainment. They drive others away and after spending an eternity on this lonely and miserable path, they still haven’t figured out the one way to escape this misery? They can leave. They don’t have to stay on this world. Just go to another world and have a fresh start where nobody knows you. There seems to be nobody forcing them to stay here and it is not that anybody would miss them. In fact the heroes couldn’t be happier if they had found the statues of Luna and Celestia with a note that the two tormentors have left the world. Surely Derpy would be very sad about what this would mean for her muffin but it is not like Discord or Fluttercruel would care about that. They don’t have to do this but choose to do it anyway despite being free to do other things.

(Don’t make me laugh. Freedom of choice is just an illusion. There is no freedom at all; everything in this universe is caused by a concept: Love, Honor, Justice, Knowledge, Fate, worthless Redemption, Pride, Imagination, Destruction, Revenge, Pride and Anarchy. There is not a single step in the life of mortals and immortals that is not regulated by these concepts. Everything is simply cause and effect.)

… I can see you. The letters are clear.

(This doesn’t change anything. But you can try to insult me by telling me that I am just like Discord.)

No, I have a review to finish first. We will have a lot of time to talk later. And look the second voice appears to Discord as well and reminds him that he is lonely because he put so much effort into not understanding love and that changing yourself for others is part of it. The Draconequus knows who she is but the first voice hasn’t figured it out yet. The second voice tries to get him to remember the one time where he was happy and didn’t need to torture others to fill the void in his heart. Discord is genuinely happy that she still tries to reach out for him but tells her that he finally wants to see a conclusion. She tries to remind him that a change would still be possible but he is sure that it is too late for that.

Meanwhile Pinkie Pie suggests that Twilight should try to copy Discord’s chaos magic. And a Do-Whatever-You-Want Spell sounds very useful but the purple unicorn is sure that his magic is either specifically made for every single situation or that Chaos is so insane that you have to be insane to be able to use it. The voice suggests that it is just a different kind of logic and it merely appears insane but could theoretically be understood. The second voice agrees with that statement. Twilight was only able to learn Destruction’s spell because it was not directly linked to Chaos. The purple unicorn says that she doesn’t want any simple solutions and usually there is a prize to pay for these. They are also worried about the black threads that almost turned her into a Nightmare. Twilight didn’t even notice them and Spike wonders if it is linked to her getting a new horn and a new Element of Magic. But the unicorn is sure that the souls of Magica and Trixie helped her to be able to resist her own darkness. Now a part of Magica is still watching over Apple Pie. They briefly wonder how Trixie was able to give Twilight her Element and Pinkie Pie thought that she had taken the Element of Magic from the unicorn by force. But as the purple unicorn points out, she wasn’t really able to use it. Saint Apple Jacqueline is still surprised that Trixie of all beings had an Element of Magic inside her but Pinkie Pie seems to be able to see how the story could have continued if Discord had been defeated and if Trixie had a chance to recover. Just like the other Pinkie Pie it is clear that seeing beyond the fourth wall is both blessing and curse. She can see a world where she didn’t do all the horrible things, she did as Angry Pie, and it is also a world where she never met most of her adopted children.

Derpy tries to focus them back on what they want to do next: To save the world and Sparkler. They all agree and Spike just wonders why Pinkie Pie’s mane is still straight. She doesn’t quite understand it herself. And she still has the ability to see beyond the fourth wall. Maybe Pinkamena became the dominant influence in her second reunion in her soul. She could have been still somewhere inside Angry Pie after the first forceful reunion. And maybe this is why Discord laments about Pinkie Pie being dead, despite having a clear picture of her talking with the others. With Rainbow it made some sense that he would have confused it with a different turn of events, considering that both ended with Dash not being here in this moment. But Pinkie Pie is just standing there and showing the abilities you would except from her. But the others are happy that the mare they knew is still with them in some form. She did change over 1000 years of suffering but that is to be expected. In fact that both Discord and Fluttercruel did hardly change at all. Both constantly refusing to change is very unnerving compared to the heroes who embrace their change and have interesting character development. How can these two have changed so little in such a long time?

Suddenly Twilight wonders openly what it would be like to have an older brother. She also made a reference to a knight in shining armor in one of the earlier battles. Maybe she senses that she could have a brother to be there for her and feels that something is missing. And she mentioned several times that she didn’t have any family beside her parents in this world. Here it seems that Shining Armor never existed. And it seemed like he was only added later into the other world after the decision to include the story of the Canterlot Wedding was made. But Saint Apple Jacqueline happily points out that Twilight herself was there for her friends and she is like an older sibling to them. Pinkie Pie briefly talks about that Twilight would have a blue mane if she were the older brother. It seems she can see Shining Armor in the other world. Finally Twilight decides to move forward and suspiciously specifically declares that the big brother inside her will shield everyone. She just stated what Shining Armor’s special talent is without ever having met him.

Then we switch perspective to towards Minty suffering from what looks like Nightmare Purgatory. The fire never stops to hurt her and Pinkie Pie is forced to watch. The reason the Nightmare is doing this is simple: It is painful to be hurt but it is even more painful to see someone you care for being hurt. Then the Nightmare decides to make Minty’s suffering more ironic and lets the foals disguised as Pinkie Pie attack her while laughing. At the same time the real Pinkie is chained to a torture device. This could have continued forever if the second voice hadn’t interfered and shattered the vile trap. Finally the two can continue where they were interrupted and the pink pony introduces Minty to her other friends in the G 3,5 world. They all happily greet Minty Pie and show their simple yet loveable characters. There is nothing wrong with that as their friendship is no less real then the one of the group of ponies we know. Minty can enjoy a brief moment of simple peace before reawakening. She notices the differences between the Minty of the past and her instantly. Both were born in very different worlds: One that makes all your wishes come true while the others turns your nightmares into reality. Rainbow Dash is still sleeping and recovering herself. Minty notices the differences between the other Rainbow Dash and this one. But thanks to Twilight’s memory of her graceful movements in the sky she wonders, if something of the first Rainbow is still inside her.

Meanwhile the heroes fight Discord’s chaotic forces. And the ninja-pirate-mutant-killer-bees (a parody of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) fall very easily. Pinkie Pie is able to force back a sneak attack from a Shadow-Beast-Of-The-Third-Unresolved while Apple Pie defeats a giant cyborg-spider-vampire with a paradox, causing it to explode. Rarity doesn’t quite get while Robots should explode from this, maybe Discord did plant bombs inside them to let them go down in a more spectacular fashion. Twilight wouldn’t be surprised, Discord always preferred awesome over practical. That was why he desperately needed people like Twilight Tragedy or the Valeyard to keep things running. Suddenly the Magnificent 300 Goblin-Cowboy-Samurai attack them. By now Discord’s chaotic forces have become so predictable to the heroes that Lady Desire and Saint Apple Jacqueline start to talk about how the world should be without Discord. AJ thinks that this decision is for Princess Celestia to make. Rarity believes that this decision should be made by the mortals and not by the immortal Princess that ruled them in the past. While she watched over them with wisdom but after 1000 years of chaos and thanks to Discord’s effort to erase her from history very few know about her anymore. The Element of Kindness thinks that they shouldn’t abandon everything from the old world and Celestia’s rule is easily one of the best ways to live for a mortal. Few rulers have her dedication and no mortal ruler has her experience. Especially when the world needs to recover from all the damage, insanity and transformations Discord unleashed for his own amusement. Princess Celestia would be one of the best things that could happen to this world.

Rarity brings up the Apple Farm and that the farmer did promise her family that they would not be forced to farm apples again. But that is the keyword: Force. They could do it on their own free will. Lady Desire points out that the mortals were able to live despite Discord doing his best to make their lives even harder. She believes that they have earned their freedom from the rule of an immortal being. For Rarity raising and lowering the sun is an important function but doesn’t automatically allow the two Alicorns to rule Equestria. AJ doesn’t agree with her at all and sees that nearly everything was broken by Discord’s rule: security, economy and sanity. But Lady Desire’s point is that the mortals will simply not be able to connect to this old system after all the time under Discord’s Chaos. Actually she is very wrong with that. The mortals already did this once after Discord’s first reign of tyranny ended but the difference was that then it were the Princesses who overthrew the Draconequus and were declared rulers for that. So if this group would overthrow Discord in a similar manner to how the Princesses did it, they could be declared saviours and rulers. And that would be their redemption. They have done horrible things in the 1000 years under Discord and they could use their knowledge about the world to guide it forward, so that the ponies will be able to rule themselves. Discord practically killed or undermined most of the existing forms of government besides the Dragon Kingdom and the Diamond Dog Society. AJ thinks that the two Alicorns are much better suited for the role of guiding the world out of darkness, while Rarity thinks that the mortals don’t need this sort of guidance to live. To her they have proven that under Discord who provided no guidance what so ever.

Applejack strongly believes that they are the best when they are together and alongside Celestia and Luna, this world could only become better. Derpy agrees with the farmer and also thinks that she only came this far because the Doctor was there to inspire her and to expand her horizon. Rarity rather cynical wonders how many of this dangers she would have experienced if it was not for the Doctor. According to Derpy one but considering she was together with a Time Lord to prevent catastrophes around the timelines, it could have been much worse for her if she had NOT helped the Doctor and risked her life. You can choose not to go on an adventure but often that means that the adventure will return later again and you are not prepared for it. The white unicorn also wonders what would have happened to Dinky if her mother would die and the Doctor claimed he was a good caretaker. This can’t be true since he seems to be always busy time travelling but his access to the TARDIS likely means that he could easily track down a good caretaker and visit the child as often as he wanted to and whenever he wanted to. Time travel can be really useful for these things. In the end Saint Apple Jacqueline thinks Princess Celestia is the most fit to rule because of her experience and it is nearly impossible to argue with that. Eventually Spike is sick of this rather interesting political debate about the possible future for the world and now they are all fully concentrated on the remaining enemies.

But before the battle can get more epic, the Magnificent Goblin Cowboy Samurai 300’s contract with Discord expires. It seems he was too cheap to hire them for an extended time period and didn’t plan ahead to when the time limit would come. He really needs someone else to make his plans; he just has no eye for details. They don’t want to follow Discord anymore because … well he is Discord. And they seem to really prefer to be changed back into the good-looking viracorn super-models they once were. Soon they leave politely. But while the battle is going on Pinkie Pie acts very interestingly. She tries her best to dodge attacks, there are clear limitations to her energy and while her Pinkie Sense still allows her to doge bullets, she seems not be able to weaponise it to let her pies hit their target. But her and Apple Pie waving the samurais goodbye was adorable.

Meanwhile in Rainbow Dash’s soul she is working hard on her recovery. The first Rainbow Dash praises the progress that she has made but Dash is crushed by how much is still to draw for it to be complete. Firefly tries to encourage her to go on but Dash is so exhausted that she would rather play with Gilda or Scootaloo. Suddenly Fluttershy (looking like an angel) is there with Rainbow Dash and tries to support her friend. Dash in her child-like state is slightly disturbed by her girlie appearance. But the first Rainbow Dash reminds her that she does enjoy looking good for herself and for others as well and this doesn’t mean that she can’t be thrill-seeking and brave at the same time. After all Dash combines aspects of both Rainbow Dash and Firefly. Eventually she is able to have a normal conversation with the spirit of her friend. Only then does Rainbow Dash notice that Fluttershy is practically covered in scars she got from her disturbing daughter. The fluttering pegasus knows that her daughter loved her in her own way and wanted to show this but Dash points out the insanity of hurting others to show your love. Especially since Fluttercruel also hurts the ones she hates or is annoyed by. So in the end it really doesn’t matter what she feels for others, she will just continue to hurt them.

Fluttershy is said that it had to end like this, she knows that Fluttercruel was born under the worst circumstances. She was a child born from mind rape. Then instead of trying to reduce her destructive tendencies Discord intensified them and the result is an emotional wreck with a twisted sense of love that is a constant danger to everyone around her. Fluttercruel views the mortals around her just like her father: As worthless and often easily replaceable toys. She practically reflects every single one of his flaws: a twisted sense of love, sadism, a horrible and disturbing sense of humor, nihilistic tendencies, boundless arrogance and always blaming others for the mistakes she or her father does. Everyone who met her was disgusted by her and even after 1000 years of being forced to be with her no one of the others did find her in any way likeable. Unlike the other timeline Fluttershy was unable to teach her what love actually means. At first she didn’t know that she existed, then Fluttercruel thought that Fluttershy was not a real person and when both realised the truth Fluttershy was simply not powerful enough to do anything and was forced into the role of the chew toy of her daughter. Fluttershy blamed herself for everything her twisted daughter did and was so desperate that she wanted to die to stop her. Fluttercruel drove her own mother beyond the point of any hope. It is one of her most disgusting crimes. Rainbow Dash understandably hates Fluttercruel for everything that she did but somehow Fluttershy still doesn’t hate her. Yet even she can’t give a reason for Rainbow not to hate Fluttercruel. In another world she was able to save Fluttercruel but here she simply didn’t have a chance to do this. And even in the other world it could have easily ended with Fluttershy permanently turned into Nightmare Whisper or chained forever to the suffering of the mortals while Fluttercruel was inside her and suffering with her.

There are surely a lot of worlds where Fluttercruel was never redeemed and Fluttershy still blames herself for not being able to save her in this world. Then she realises that she is explaining her own pain to the friend she wanted to support and realises that she is acting selfish. As Fluttershy cries Rainbow could have just walked away to play with some of her friends but Dash makes a different choice. She doesn’t blame her friend for her daughter’s wrongdoing. Fluttershy simply had just no chance to do anything in this world. It is not fair but life often isn’t fair and under Discord unfairness is practically the rule of everything. Rainbow Dash can see clearly that she herself could have made a difference back then if she hadn’t chosen to play by Discord’s rules. She could have joined forces with Queen Cadence or Grogar and they could have defeated the Draconequus and ended the suffering he brought over the world. Fluttershy realises that her friend is now helping her instead of the other way around but now it is time for her to do something for Rainbow. She asks if she was about to give up which the pegasus denies and her friend reminds Dash that she clearly has the inner strength to do the right thing instead of the easy thing. Rainbow realises how few words Fluttershy needed to help her and the other pegasus points out that was exactly what she needed to hear and a long monologue wouldn’t have added anything to the message. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash as well as the first Rainbow and Firefly all hug while Gilda and Scootaloo continue the picture. Dash wonders what choice she should make now that she actually has a choice and remembers that her friends choose to spare her and tried their best to save her.

Meanwhile Apple Pie is happy with the progress they have made and Pinkie Pie is reminded of her old days. Then the filly shows how much she trusts her by accepting her piggyback ride. Twilight is also very happy with what they managed to get so far and nobody is willing to point of that Rainbow didn’t made her decision yet and both Rarity and Applejack know more than they want to admit right now. Spike is worried that Twilight is no longer immortal and she quickly points out that since she awakened to both sides of the Element, she is still immortal since her Element is part of the set of Chaos and Harmony. Otherwise she wouldn’t have almost aged into dust when Angry Pie pulled out her Element. If the two were something separate, then the remaining Element would have kept Twilight stable. Hopefully she did test out if she still has her effective healing abilities, after all there are many kinds of immortality. And amusingly an entire catwalk of soapboxes appears as Twilight is explaining this. They don’t know for sure what this means and if the Elements of Harmony might be able to grant immortality as well. After all we saw other worlds in Truth where all the bearers, except Twilight, died of old age.

Suddenly they encounter a group of dirt maids and Pinkie Pie warns them that these maids can fight. The heroes are ready to strike them down, should they attack them but they are greeted politely with their old (mostly insulting) names. Saint Apple Jacqueline shows that she is not a silly pony and quickly acts like Liarjack and even gives them a false name for Apple Pie. So the maids slowly introduce themselves as: Head house-maid Espi Lion, Nursery maid Before Four, Kitchen Maid Evangelian, Lady's Maid Air Dasher, Chamber Maid Buddy, Chamber Maid, Laundry Maid, and Palor Maid Untitled Work, Still Maid Quick Silver, Housekeeper Dragon Twilight, Between Maid Game Master and Scullery Maid Alexi. It is a nice way to give cameos for everyone who agreed to a certain poll to become an immortal pony maid. Twilight expects them all to attack the group after the introduction but they were given the evening off. Discord actually had prepared a castle for them in Ponythulu's abode and told them that soon evil forces will invade the castle and the world will be destroyed. Now the heroes don’t feel the need to point out that they are the “evil forces.” Twilight asks them if they don’t want to be turned back to what they were before. But they don’t want to give up this life or the friendship they found in each other. So they move on to Ponythulu who is always happy to have guests. Both voices actually consider him nice, but the first one also thinks he is annoying.

Now Twilight decides to try the throne room next since it is most likely that Discord has prepared a dramatic showdown for them. Little does she know of the vile and disgusting trap that is waiting for them. It seems Pinkie Pie gets more exhausted the longer the journey takes. Eventually they run into Sparkler and the four more experienced heroes hold Derpy back from running right at her apparent daughter. They can see that the person standing before them is neither under mind control, don’t has bombs inside her, smells like Sparkler, is no illusion, is not Discord, is no construct and has a soul inside her. Rarity asks what happened and very carefully the mare before them says that a spirit fitting Fluttershy’s description came to her and she was healed. It is pretty obvious that this is actually Fluttercruel. As they let Derpy go she hugs her apparent daughter and this short outburst of pure love lets Fluttercruel hesitate (or maybe the real Sparkler is still able to react to it). It is hard to tell what is happening without being able to look inside her.

Instantly Pinkie Pie saves Derpy’s life by kicking Sparkler and the bullet meant for the mother barely misses her. It is one of the vilest acts of Fluttercruel that was shown so far. It is utterly disturbing how far she has fallen. And it seems that Pinkie Pie doesn’t have the regenerative effects of her Element anymore as the wound she gets from Derpy for saving her life stays. Then Fluttercruel tries another cheap attack which Pinkie Pie is barely able to defend the others against. With this attack the sadist could have killed all mortal and killable members of this group. Rarity doesn’t hesitate and tries to kill Sparkler but Derpy takes the attack instead. Twilight quickly catches Sparkler in a telekinetic hold and Fluttercruel complains that she shouldn’t have hesitated. But the sadist frees herself by forcing the purple unicorn to concentrate on another attack. Rarity doesn’t hesitate and tries another attack which Fluttercruel barely is able to defend herself against. The others (beside Rarity) are shocked and eventually Pinkie Pie notices that Fluttercruel’s Element of Chaos is glowing on Sparkler’s back. Derpy is completely broken by this revelation and Rarity finally spells out who is standing before them.

Fluttercruel’s mind and soul remained after their last battle and she continued to bring suffering and misery over others. Everybody seems too depressed and disgusted to say anything. The voice seems completely shocked that Fluttercruel’s spirit is still alive and this wasn’t part of her plan at all. For no apparent reason Fluttercruel explains in detail that neither she nor her father can die if they are killed by a non-draconequi. She really loves to hear herself talking way too much. Derpy desperately wants her daughter back but Fluttercruel makes it very clear that she will keep her and will torture her soul. The others are shocked to realise that killing Discord would have made things worse and if you think about it, it is stupid to talk about it at all. Sure she couldn’t have lied, since there are two lie detectors before her but why talk about the matter at all? She did have one reason: She wanted to try to break them with the realisation that they can’t kill Discord but she really didn’t pay any attention to the earlier battles. The Valeyard pointed out that immortality, even this kind of it, has flaws and since it is impossible to kill Discord, the obvious next choice is to engineer a fate worse then death that involves his body still being alive and his spirit trapped inside. And she has completely missed the fact that Derpy was ready to kill Sparkler when the Valeyard tried to use her against the mother. Right now Derpy has the choice between letting her daughter suffer an eternal fate worse then death or normal death.

So of course she charges at the monster having taken the body of her beloved daughter. Fluttercruel really doesn’t get it. It is very disappointing how little she knows about cruelty after all these years. Her father was truly a horrible teacher. But Derpy doesn’t think that they need a plan how to destroy or contain Fluttercruel’s soul after the battle. Otherwise she will simply take another victim. The sadist claims that her own mother would have sacrificed the entire world for her and doesn’t even seem to notice that even Fluttercruel herself wouldn’t have wanted that. Who could she have tortured in an empty world? She really can’t think very far. Then she tries to lecture the heroes that they never tried to reach her or tried to redeem her like they did with the others. Her father is the same. Everything that goes wrong is always the fault of others.

(She throws the same predictable hissy fit all sinners do. ‘I am not responsible for my life, you should have saved me. Now feel sorry for me.’ Pathetic.)

No, she actually has a point but at the same time she completely misses several other points. Rarity counters that Fluttercruel (despite not being insane) did kill and torture alongside Discord and never even tried to befriend any of the beings she viewed as mere toys. The sadist claims that Lady Desire never showed her any compassion and had no moral problems to kill the person who tortured her best friend for 500 years. To be honest I doubt that anybody would have compassion with her in such a situation. Usually one sadistic murder or one torture season is enough for someone to be considered to be beyond any redemption. And it is not even that. Rarity made clear that she thought that Fluttershy might be able to save her sadist daughter and wanted to send her into the afterlife to meet her mother again. Fluttercruel tries to argue that they didn’t try to save her because she isn’t somebody they know or were friends with. She tries to claim that their mercy is very limited.

(So here is another nice question: You had 1000 years to befriend them and make them not to want to kill you as soon as they have the chance. All this time they thought you were Fluttershy, it should have been really easy to get at least one of them to understand and accept you. How could you fail so miserably?)

She tries to argue that Rarity was ready to kill Angry Pie but the white unicorn calmly points out that no, she tried to save her and stopped Spike from killing Angry Pie. And she did that despite the fact that she could have gained two new Elements from striking down Angry Pie right where she stood. Fluttercruel says that what Twilight did to Angry Pie was no different from what she does constantly and repeats her claim that their mercy is limited to those they know and that they are self-righteous. Rarity admits that she is right and that they are flawed. She didn’t think about trying to save Fluttercruel and didn’t care about her at all. Spike didn’t try to save Angry Pie and only did stop because of Rarity standing up for her. Even Twilight herself was lost in revenge. That is one of the basic truths of friendship: You care more about those who you have formed a bound with and care less about strangers.

This is a decent and honest message but the main problem is that it is delivered from Fluttercruel. She simply is no stranger to them, they had spend 1000 years with her and still decide to kill her if necessary. I don’t think for one second that they are selfish for making this decision. In fact they are the ones on this world who know her the best next to Discord. After all this time they also know Discord himself very well and still would have killed him if that would have stopped him from torturing the entire world. If even these ponies are ready to kill her, there seems to be no real hope for any redemption while she is still alive. She could have simply gone somewhere else but chose to stay in their way and continued to hurt them by taking the body of Sparkler. She and Discord bring too much misery over this world for them to simply stand by.

Overall this was a great chapter with an entertaining battle against Discord’s mooks, a heart-warming scene with Rainbow and Fluttershy and a very unique cameo. It did also foreshadow Fluttercruel’s return very well but the act of trying to kill Derpy while in the body of Sparkler is so hideous and disgusting that it is almost impossible to feel any sort of compassion for her at this point. I think the problem is that Fluttercruel’s character is mostly a repetition of Discord’s. Both share so many character traits and events that it is almost like she has no real character of her own. Even the act of stealing a body of someone close to the heroes was already done by Discord before. There is really no act of villainy she can do on the path of pure cruelty that wasn’t already done by her father before. She is always staying in his shadow. There really is the danger of her appearing as nothing more then an obstacle for the heroes if this goes on.
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
7 out of 7 deviants thought this was fair.

:iconeric-emanwu:
Happy New Year! And may the shadow who watches be the first to cross his fingers that the POV series is getting close to its climax. Not that I dislike the series in any sense of the word, but I nonetheless am getting a strange feeling of fatigue moving towards this conclusion in the dark world. Anyhow thoughts.

So at the start, discord is grieving, and somehow foresaw that no matter what he tried, he would never defeat team harmony at this point in the war. They had backup from the hippogriff squadrons, and the diamond dog resistance.

This is part of the trouble that Discord must finally acknowledge: He's made the world his playground for so long that anyone who has a will to act has united utterly against who he is and what he stands for: A revolt against the will of Routa Fortuna, and a life of darkness and perpetual tearing down. Having had enough of this through the many generations, the world has piled against him, until there was 3: Discord, Rancor, and the 3rd person.

Oddly enough, Discord says that they've killed pinkie pie. I suppose in some ways, they have. By showing her what they really think of her, pinkie pie's mind broke, and when it was stitched up, Pinkie Pie, the hyperactive utterly chaotic mare was gone. Now Miss. Pinkamina "Pinkie" Diane Pie lives again, at harmony with herself, and in way that has fundamentally put her out of his grasp.

Also Discord, I think I should let you know something. You probably know it deep down somewhere (I mean come on, you've practically existed for an eternity) that the reason that laughter exists within the boundaries is because of the 6 elements, laughter is what helps keep groups light together. The difference is that you have latched onto the corruption of laughter, and ultimately, you cannot truly understand laughter, as you lack knowledge on the other side. In two universes, Pinkie Pie became aligned by understanding both sides: harmony and chaos. You are bamboozed by the truer side of laughter, and thus, you cannot have your chaos queen.

(Heh. When chaos becomes normal, it ceases to be chaos. It becomes expected. Defeating itself. But that's the nice answer. 'Chaos', doesn't exist. Everything is cause and effect, down to the tiniest detail. There is no 'unpredictability', there are no 'surprises' only those without enough wits and psychological insight to figure out what comes next. Ponies, hearts, weather, dice, all trapped in predeterminism. There is no free will. There is no chaos. The outcome of everything was decided the moment creation came into being, including every tiny bit of your 'spontaneity' as well.)

ALRIGHT, WHO TURNED OFF MY NINTENDO? WHOOOOOO!!!!???? There may be a strong causality, but you know what, the world is far more complex than mere determinism. In fact, Discord is proof that there is the capacity for unpredictability. You see, a supernatural realm allows for the existence of some degree of unpredictability. For within the supernatural there is the capacity to choose how to respond to things. Even the most brilliant psychologists can be baffled by unpredictable changes. The man who grew to change from a criminal to a security consultant. The people who change what they believe in. The gods who went to war when the most unlikely thing to happen happened, and yet was still somehow believable. You know what that's called in easy terms? A miracle. And people know miracles don't happen that often. Hence the name. You whom claims to be the driving force of this dark world, you're locked in your own delusions, and so until you acknowledge a world where chaos is an important force, you are hopelessly grasping at straws.

Ooooooh, but to acknowledge that is to give discord some credence. And you'd never allow yourself that, would you?

(The obsenities printed here is mingled with arrogance and irritation, but due to my powers as an observer, I have conveniently blocked it out)

And then we get this: you are more beautiful than Celly & you can change how it ends! With these two tidbits, the lids are pried back more, and even despite how repulsive, there's a pinch of sympathy for the loki of the multiverse. And yet, at the same time, disdain. For the world he has willingly created is....well different from the world Celestia created, but she at least allowed for sovereignty of mortal nations in her reign without threat of extermination. Friendship over fear. Also, discord knows these are filler arcs? MMMMMmmmmm MMMMMmmmmm. You should no better big D. In this shadow's world, even the filler contains important tidbits to move things forward.

Meanwhile, team harmony discussed stage 5, as there's but one bullet left: defeat discord. There were even logistic arguments to muddle through, and a tiny bit with Trixie that shows that Pinkie has something in her that lets her see Reharmonized I, and see that trixie was an element of magic.

AND AGAIN, with the big brother. WHERE IS THE SHINING ARMOR????!!!!!!!

The beast of the third unresolved? The wolf?

Meanwhile, in the middle of the long slog forward, the seer and the saint talked about the future: what will the world be like once discord's done for?

Needless to say, it will certainly be different. The diamond dogs won't plague the jewel markets anymore, the hippogriffs will be a new people to accomodate, the seaponies (assuming they're around) will need some water for all of them, and I'm guessing the dragon nation will be much more powerful when compared with their being in that equestria where their queen had 5 heads and ended a deer invasion. As for who's in charge, well, that depends. We know being taken for granite is much more pleasant than some might think, but with them being out of the loop for 1000 years, how would others react to Celestia and Luna coming back? Maybe this would be a perfect time for the constitutional monarchy celestia always wanted?

Regardless, it is a fine question. Maybe this could also be a good time to pull a 1994 AKA a south africa. You know, where they all voted for different parties to find out who and how they wanted their country run, and then brought in Mandela and the ANC? It's an idea.

Meanwhile, back with the element of Choice, she had a visitor: posey's descendent Fluttershy. Who incidentally was fully angelfied. (mmmmm, this fluttershy is angelfied, while the reharmonized was alicorned. Paradox? Or just AU?)

so they talked about cruel, and choice, and irony (whistles), and they lifted each other up, with RD giving a speech surprisingly similar to one she gave scootaloo in a world far far away.

So dash thought and thought. Buuuuuut, back to team harmony, because the home stretch is near. Twilight was optimistic, though the others had their doubts. Apparently, the old talks on magic were back, and twilight thought they might all now be immortal. Which, of course the pony who's seen the end of the road is rather disappointed with, since it means she'll never get to see The Father again, or her sister. But, that's not conclusive yet. Meanwhile, they roamed the halls, looking for the throne room, and then,

waiiiiitttttt, how in the world would fluttershy have been able to rescue sparkler anyways? Wasn't she with rainbow dash? Isn't it impossible, regardless of time for a spirit to manifest in two different places, and haven't we seen that the living can only free themselves and all the spirit world can do is nudge in one direction? wouldn't (I check further down the page) Oh, queen of a bitch!

It makes sense, and yet, it hurts. It's...It's.....(The babbling of Fluttercruel goes on) Mortis. That was mortis trying to move you on.

And on, and on, and on, and (I summon all the will and power I possess as a shadow, and I finally mutter...enough.....And the fic stops at the end.)

I say thee, enough. Because, this is the dilemma of the stranger. This is why soldiers grow to fight and kill more easily thanks to training. This is why the world is messed up. Because the stranger is the constant problem that every belief system of every person ever must wrestle with. How do we treat him? With hatred? With uneasy respect? With contempt? With compassion? With Love? With wisdom? How? HOw? HOW?

This is ultimately why the draconequi must be necessary in some way. For the cause of free choice, fear of the stranger, competition with strangers both real and enforced (the friend you compete against as a stranger). These happen, and in some ways are necessary to push the world forward.

However, to go to far with "the stranger" will rot your soul. And yet, at the same time, if you need to get something done, you must invoke the stranger to keep going and live with your decisions. Otherwise, you WILL be crushed by guilt and shame.

And rarity is right. If something good is to come, sometimes you have to do something bad. Whether it's fight a relative, or do something so repulsive because it might be for the best.

It is the nature of the flawed world created by the gods, and it cannot be escaped. And thus why for the good of equestria Lady Desire will fight anyone to end the reign of the mad god, and why the element of loyalty must be cruel to her daughter in order to free her from antagonistic control, just like (OH MY ALICORNS!) Just like Lex Luthor in Whatever Happened to the man of Tomorrow. Are you drawing on that?

Well, I suppose this is a story about earning your happy ending, so, maybe?

Anyhow, so cruel's back in the game. That was pretty fast. But, I'm sure that we must be near end game. Or, is the story going to crawl to a stop in order to accomodate the important paralell shining armor story? Anyhow, getting there, and going on.
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:iconyoshiegg64:
yoshiegg64 Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013
One more typo:

AJ and (Rarity?) rushed to Derpy's side. Instead of taking the spear out and opening up the wound, Rarity created another one and threw at Sparkler full force.
'I think you forgot to insert Rarity.'
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:iconalexwarlorn:
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2013
Edited.
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:iconacalanthide:
Acalanthide Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Student General Artist
I want to know who that third Pony is. (From this point on, I'm just going to call her Discord's Lady Love)So is the voice that was talking to Diccord in the (). Morning Star? I though he was.

It's good to see the pony maids again. I love the fan participation you have in your stories.

So, everyone's favourite psychopathic murderous pegasus is back! Yay.

Poor, poor Sparkler. I hope she comes out of this alive. Derpy has been through so much heartbreak already.

I have a feeling that the next chapter is going to be a doosy.
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:iconalexwarlorn:
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013
"I want to know who that third Pony is. (From this point on, I'm just going to call her Discord's Lady Love)"

Third pony?

() and **, so whose number three?

"So is the voice that was talking to Diccord in the (). Morning Star? I though he was."

No she isn't. The fact it's called she all thsi time might have been a clue in.

" It's good to see the pony maids again. I love the fan participation you have in your stories. "

:D :D :D


So, everyone's favourite psychopathic murderous pegasus is back! Yay.

Fluttercruel, "YES!"


Poor, poor Sparkler. I hope she comes out of this alive. Derpy has been through so much heartbreak already.

The dark world never seems to let up does it? It's like it WANTS to break these ponies into nothing.


I have a feeling that the next chapter is going to be a doosy.

The doosy of the doosy that takes the entire plot off the rails!!!
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:icontoonwatcher:
Toonwatcher Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013
Leave it to Fluttershy to never hold a grudge, even under these circumstances. Also, while I hope Sparkler isn't beyond saving, I see Cruel's point about how Rarity killed her. That was a little extreme.

Also the MGCS were really funny.
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:iconalexwarlorn:
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
"Also the MGCS were really funny."

Thanks!

"Leave it to Fluttershy to never hold a grudge, even under these circumstances."

Well she is the only one who know Cruelty better than Discord.

"Also, while I hope Sparkler isn't beyond saving, I see Cruel's point about how Rarity killed her. That was a little extreme."

Which was the point of the entire thing. Pointing out protagonist centered morality.
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:icondragon-of-twilght:
Dragon-of-Twilght Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012
...I can hear you laughing back there.

Coffee Swirl: And that's supposed to make me stop? *flat on the ground and pounding it with a hoof as he laughs* And you knew there was a catch too; hay, you actually thought that this was the catch, and you still did it! *howling with laughter*

Screw you, flyboy; I can still put a positive spin on this!

Coffee Swirl: And I can still laugh my plot off at you for falling for it!
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:iconalexwarlorn:
alexwarlorn Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013
What part exactly are you laughing at?
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:icondragon-of-twilght:
Dragon-of-Twilght Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2013
He's laughing at me for not realizing that the maid thing was an invitation to join Discord's dirt maids; when I strongly suspected that it was the case. Coffee and I aren't exactly close; there's a respect between character and author, but he likes to laugh at me for things like that.
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:iconthejacoblb44:
TheJacobLB44 Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012
Wow! Boy have I missed alot:O Fluttershy is "dead" and is reediming spiritis. RD is in a trance and is becoming herself. Pinkie Pie was an element of magic when Twilight went crazy during thier fight. And we are down to only three villians! Last I checked we were fighting the Valeyard. I liked how most of the chapter was. It defintely wasn't easy to read after being gone for awhile. Pinkie Pie's dialouges were good. Some of her energy seemed gone but that was covered by you explaining her as "maturing". The humor and dialouges were great and very well written. Have we figured out who the voice is. She has changed a bet whoever she is, taking a lot of a more personal attention to this tale. Some things I didnt like. First off I am not a mareXD My OC may look like one but I would never be a maid.......well.......dangitXD. I typically hate possessions and this one I didn't like either but in this case it was done so well. There is no way the heroes can make peace with everyone and not have someone get hurt. Poor Sparkler:(. This will prompt me into thinking about our Fluttercruels nature.
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