My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
Pony POV Series
Dark World Part 20
Second Star To The Right, Straight On Till Morning
"RARITY! TWILIGHT!" Spike flew at full speed towards the hole Rarity and Cruelty were down and the inner garden Twilight fell down with Angry Pie close behind her. Rancor shed her skin leaving her finite double to cover her as she flew right in Spike's path. "GET OUT OF MY WAY!"
"No." Rancor's front limbs caught the dragon, the shockwave of air visible.
"I SAID OUT OF MY WAY!"
"And I said no!"
Spike swatted the nuisance out of the way and continued on his path. Or that was what was supposed to happen. Instead Rancor caught his claw and judo threw him into the checkered ground.
Spike forced himself up only to get his gut slammed, creating a dust cloud around him. "Cool! You dragons are as nigh-invulnerable as they SAY you are! That would have pulverized a mortal pony's spine."
Rancor was engulfed in flames, "Oh come on! You can't be that dense-" Spike grabbed her while his flames blocked her vision and tossed her in the air like a missile.
"So you aren't." She stopped in midair, the suddenness of it making her head spin. "Too bad for you I don't actually need my wings to fly! Levitation makes a great break-pedal!"
"I don't have time for a freakin' uber-powered, self-congratulating Mary-Draconequus-Sue!" Spike flew towards the castle again, but Rancor grabbed him by the tail and flipped him again into the ground, this time leaving an impression.
"Don't start calling names you can't take back."
"WE'LL KEEP 'ER BUSY, SPIKE!" AJ shouted as the other heroes charged her all at once.
She grinned shark's teeth. "Yes, show me your fiery passions."
Derpy crashed headlong into her, but vanished, and the real Derpy then hammered into Rancor a moment later and responded out of her reach.
Spike didn't hesitate, resuming his flight towards the castle. Rancor tried to follow only to find herself lassoed . . . with rope made from pony hair.
"Impressive! A fine show of inventiveness!"
"Ah can't take snobs like ya who treat ah fight like it's just fer their fun!"
"I'm violent, vindictive, passionate, and bloodthirsty, but I'm no snob!" Her dragon was getting away. She tugged, then remembered how strong Earth Ponies could get. She then zipped out of her own mouth leaving her skin behind again. For some reason her earring stayed with her.
"WILL YA STOP DOIN' THAT?!"
"I will when you stop with the illusions!"
She ignored Spike and slammed into thin air. 'I can't sense the filly since she doesn't have any passionate feelings against anyone here, and she's totally convinced 'Rarity' and 'Twilight' can take care of themselves. But Spike, on the other claw, is filled to the brim with a passionate desire to save, help, and protect the two ponies who mean the most, he's like a lighthouse!'
The real Spike appeared from her blow and the illusion vanished.
"How could you-"
"Don't feel like sharing!"
Derpy came like gray thunder.
"That's enough." Rancor snarled like a Tasmanian wolf. She launched at Derpy, a menagerie of claws and fangs, but Derpy didn't stop her own attack! Though she couldn't hurt the monster in any meaningful way, she could force her back and back AND BACK away from the others!
But, "Carpus, tarsus, patella!" Rancor moved with the precision of a surgeon and ferocity of a wild animal as she struck the pegasus, "Carpus, tarsus, patella!" Derpy flapped her wings like mad as her bones broke one by one. She managed to evade several grabs by the Draconequus, but couldn't outmaneuver her.
"Tuber calanei, and tuber calenei!" Suddenly, Derpy found herself falling. "Scapula and areo humerus, scapula and areo humerus, and caudal vertebrae!"
Rancor caught as Derpy tried to move, but her wings and legs hung limply as she struggled like a horn on a hook.
"Your Element of Loyalty causes your strength, stamina, pain tolerance, endurance, and toughness to shoot through the roof, removing your body's natural safety limits, but what does that matter if all your joints are broken?! No hard feelings, I just want Mr. Dragon, and you keep interrupting."
Rancor clawed Derpy in her face, just missing an eye.
"Your Element of Harmony may make your life a lot longer but it takes an Element of Chaos to make you unkillable! This places you above TWO former Elements of Loyalty, the last Element of Loyalty who tried to ram a Draconequus like that? She died on impact from her bones pulverizing. But she had an ocean below her." Rancor dropped her.
Derpy had pushed Rancor back quite a ways. Applejack was good, but she wouldn't make it in time. Spike changed course again and caught her halfway, gently putting Derpy down on the ground. AJ got to work; without Rarity she couldn't transfer injuries. She numbed Derpy's pain but putting her bones back together was slower going.
"Trusting the teammates who mean the most to you to hold on a little bit longer, to save the teammate who would die if you did nothing. You are a very unusual dragon."
"That's why I like you, most dragons are passionate only for themselves. I actually love dragons, it's just so…typical, it's not spontaneous. Dissy might have been Chaos, but we all love seeing things out of the ordinary. Seeing a dragon like you able to set aside the thing they want the most for something more important?" Rancor manifested a hat for the sole purpose of tipping it with genuine respect. "That's a very unique passion."
Apple Pie looked up at Rancor and shouted: "Yer the spirit of violence, so... wouldn't not being able to be hurt by violence, being IMMUNE and UNAFFECTED by violence, kinda like bein' the spirit of joy but not bein' able to be happy when sompony's nice to'em?"
Rancor flew in a loop de loop, skirted the ground and came up behind Apple Pie, swiping the rock farmer from behind, cutting past skin and into muscle and nerve clusters and clipping bone. Now Apple Pie knew how Banana Pie felt when mom tried to take her to the dragon kingdom with her. She screamed in pain and tears.
"A-Plus for effort, kiddo, trying to make me vanish in a poof of logic like you did with those zombies! It's a wonderful skill, disrupting and altering the flow of mana by invoking paradoxes! But I am self-contained! I am unto myself! Self-evident! A spirit HAS no paradox!"
Applejack was furious. "You-"
"THIS IS A BATTLE, MORON! If you didn't want the little moppet to be targeted, why'd you bring her into battle?! To take pictures?!"
AJ shuddered and took a step back.
"And you now have two patients to nurse. You're not BUILT for multi-tasking!" Rancor rose a moa claw at Spike. "And you're not going anywhere, you're mine. The only way you can help your friends is if you figure out a way to keep me down!"
"OBLIGED!" Spike roared and loomed like an oncoming storm at the Draconequus.
I coughed. Immortality didn't make up for dirt in your lungs. The hole Fluttershy, no, Fluttercruel... and I had fallen through seemed to have collapsed. Assuming I wasn't just totally buried. I'd have to force my way back out to help the others. One-on-one like this nullified our advantage. It was black.
I pushed myself up, the cuts into my flesh already healed. Broken bones putting themselves back together, best they could under rubble. Here's hoping I don't bring the whole castle down on me. I pushed with my telekinesis and my body, knocking over the slab of stone, recognizing some made from the marble of the original Canterlot mixed in with the garish color choices of my former Master. The castle's desire to live radiated from everywhere.
The scent of dust and stone was met with a new odor. Dried blood and aged meat. I didn't risk shining my horn more than I needed to, lest Fluttercruel catch sight of me. My eyes began to adjust to the dark. I wished they hadn't. The room was huge. But that just meant there were more things to show.
The vast room felt familiar, it reminded me of being used as a pony-shield against a flying cake. But there were no windows to the outside, just stone walls now.
Cruelty's voice echoed off the walls and rocks, impossible to get a fix on. "Welcome to my grand auditorium. You know I've always thought about having one of you here as a permanent guest of honor ever since Mom got kidnapped!"
Great, I'm in one of her playrooms. I said nothing.
"Playing possum, are we?" Fluttercruel cooed. "Well, I'm not deaf! You're not dead! Not yet! Or Twilight Tragedy yet. Marry TRAGEDY-?! I'm the onlyequus he needs! I'm the only one he's ever needed! Not the Valeyard! Not those two stupid purple plastic music ponies! Not those fish-ponies! And most certainly not that pink puffball who doesn't even have the brains to ENJOY what she does!"
I heard a stone block sent flying through the darkness landing near me. Then the slice of a bladed weapon, and two stone blocks falling down at once.
(Music Rank II: Bad Girl -- No More Heroes theme, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSfbb3WHClE)
"Come out, come out, wherever you are, Auntie."
My vision had fully adjusted to the darkness now, which meant Fluttercruel's had too. Just had to make sure. I back into my foxhole, slipping stone pieces around as armor. Twice now Discord's assassins we had fought alongside for ten centuries had aces in the hole to blindside us with. While we were lost in insanity and despair, they were preparing for us. And I no longer had friends to cover for me when the surprise got sprung. And this was her territory. Not mine.
"You know, me and Mom played this game a lot." Sound of a sword cutting through a table. "She wasn't very good at it."
Trying to bait me, I ignore it.
With all this rubble it would take me too long to brute force my way out with Fluttercruel's hacksaws digging into my back. This wasn't good.
My ears aren't keen enough to pinpoint her location. And I'm no bloodhound. And sensing desire like I did with the dummy Sparkler doesn't work until I'm up close and personal. And feeling distortions in truth is mostly audio-based, it's not like x-ray vision.
On the bright side she was no better off than me. Hopefully, she'd keep jabbering. Good thing she's so like her…father, loves to hear herself talk as much as he does. And fortunately, a good part of being ladylike includes walking gracefully and quietly.
If I stayed put I'd be found eventually, and she was on guard. First girl to lose her patience would be a sitting duck. I used some stones to cover my horn inside my fox hole then sneaked out to magic a stone off the ground I saw at the limits of my night vision, choosing one that was at a right angle to me. I lifted it up, and dropped it, barely back inside before impact.
"GOTCHA!" Her voice echoed. There was a noise a distance off of a blade impacting stone, while another meat cleaver strikes the stone I had just dropped a moment later.
Alright. I know where my stone she hit is. That one was struck second. She's right hoofed, so she'd use that to attack my most likely position first. She'd have used her off-hoof a moment later. I know which way she's facing. I can't tell the exact distance with this echo. But I can still tell the general direction she's facing!
Haven't used this in a thousand years. This is no fashion show. My secondary magic-talent and my new Element don't go well together... but if I put enough focus into it... I should be able to pull off a . . .
The tiny ball of light magic explodes where I approximate Cruel is looking, from her angry scream and the clatter of dropped weapons, I imagine I guessed right.
Like the cobra, I strike! She's still rubbing her eyes and I was too quiet for her ears! I noticed she wasn't wearing her horn necklace anymore. Did she lose it before or after we crashed?
Still covered in stone armor I buck her with my front hooves in the face, and fired off several stone spikes into her skull. I stabbed her through the Element, killed her, the end.
Instead Cruel's wings reacted like a knee-jerk, or a jolt from the stones piercing her brain. Her wings flapped on their own blindly flying her away from danger!
Cruelty spewed enough obscenities to make flowers wilt as her wings carry her away from me. I grabbed her with my telekinesis, she flew back harder. She threw a knife at my eye which I caught reactively and broke my connection to her. She landed several yards away from me, eyes adjusted in the dark, we were at a Mexicolt stand off.
So much for quick and clean. No way I can sneak back to hide in the dark. Plan B. I had been hoping to save this for dear Discord.
"You made a big mistake bringing this fight here," I declared grandly figuring it would hold her attention.
"You think throwing every rock puppet you can make is going to cut it? Ha."
"They were never, puppets." I informed Fluttercruel, then proceeded to speak PAST the daughter of Discord.
"You who are willing to give, you who are willing to lend aid, I beseech for your help! Reach for your desires!"
And they reached out, lending their strength to me, and through me. They took the rocks around us, and with their strength and mine, forged the stones into the shapes of the bodies they had in life.
Apple Bucker, Apple Cake, Walnut Pie... other Pies and Apples whose empty beds I'd visited at the rock farm. Hippogriffs whose dead bodies we fought through on the way here. I made a small whisper. And Poison Apple's stone vessel appeared as well. Followed by the many ponies who had spent hours, days, or longer in agony as Fluttercruel's toys. Names I didn't even know.
These ones I didn't force to obey my scripts. We were free.
And Cruelty looked dumbly at the small mute army surrounding us both, recognition in her eyes. "You just... absorbed the ghosts of my playmates... haunting these walls, and housed them insides rock golem bodies," she stated, rather unnecessarily.
"This is my power and the true weight of my sin! Their desires call to me, and I answer them. My soul is only the captain of this living vessel." I spoke.
Cruelty blinked, and the shock left her eyes. Then she laughed! "This is too rich! Well played, Auntie Rarity!"
Then her eyes darted from golem to golem, grinning fiendishly at them all in turn.
"Hello, everypony! We all get to play again! Isn't it great? I knew you all liked me!"
Though the golems had no voices to speak with, they all, in their own fashion, pawed the ground, flattened their ears aggressively... those with stone claws or talons to speak of flexed theirs eagerly.
She looked at them happily like they were ready to give her hugs. "You're all set to play? It's gonna ROCK! .......Get it? 'Rock?' Ha! See? I cracked a joke!"
"My word." I said, flicking my right ear back theatrically. "Was that crickets' chirping I just heard? Oh wait, no. The crickets were just trying to calculate how many kicks to the head you'd need for a pun like yours to actually be funny."
The golems' body language was unmistakable: laughter. Uproarious laughter. Even without vocal chords to chortle and guffaw, they threw their heads back, shoulders and diaphragms shaking in indisputable mirth. Those with digits clapped in appreciation. Those with hooves stomped. I dropped in a slight curtsy.
"Oh, go get yourselves jackhammered, all of you!" Fluttercruel snapped. "No one ever appreciates my hard work! My only regret is that it took me eight hundred years to figure out this trick!"
And with that she chopped her own tail off and slit her own throat!
Blood spilled on the gray hairs, making them pink. I was too dazed by the act of self-mutilation to do the smart thing and attack then and there. I only watched in ill fascination as the hairs grew, soaking up the blood, and splitting and warping like cables into equine shapes. The hairs endlessly increased in mass. The masses took on the color of steel and changed. They multiplied like weeds.
Cruel was now surrounded by an army of metallic constructs vaguely resembling pegasi skeletons. Oh and they had the death rays used by those aliens that'd called... oh yes, Empire of Man.
A thousand years ago I would have screamed at their garish and gaudy appearance. Now I just braced myself. They mindlessly stood in formation around and above her amidst the rubble. My army still awaited my orders.
"Dad said this technique should be just for fun. I thought he'd love them, but he said, 'Mass produced grunts? Those are never useful.' " Cruel sighed in something not unlike sadness before brightening up. "But who cares?! Now I own a small army of faceless, nameless, identical grunts, same as you!"
"Same as me, hmm?" I looked over my golems. "Faceless... yes, they are, I'll grant you that. But nameless? Identical? Not on your life. And I do not 'own' these poor souls. They are my guests, here at my invitation, which they were completely free to decline. Like my guests of my endless Gala before they left after Twilight cured me. Several here desire vengeance on you, Fluttercruel. Others simply wish for your evil to end. Others still," I looked to Poison Apple. "Want to help me end this fight quickly, so I can go protect their surviving relatives. Your minions are mindless drones, my friends have names. And they have souls."
They all nodded.
"You could have at least channeled Mother back while you were at it," Fluttercruel pouted.
"Except your mother wasn't killed by you in this room, unlike everypony else here." I reminded her. "Believe me, though, I would've liked to."
"Me too. It's been five hundred years too long since she was kidnapped."
"You mean since you tortured her."
In contrast with her pun, the eye-roll she gave could've won a medal.
"Like duh. You think I use euphemisms? I torture ponies. It's what I do. I was born to be cruel. It's how I remain true to myself. Cutting ponies is how I demonstrate my love to father and have fun. Torturing ponies brings me joy, mom was a pony, so by torturing her I was sharing my joy with her. How can that not be expressing my love for her? By cutting mother's flesh, I was telling her how deeply I loved her."
My mind flickered and the rock bodies around me almost fell apart in my moment of mental limbo. "Y-you . . . YOU HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT!"
"Of course," she said that like a little girl saying how she was happy giving flowers to her sick grandmother. "It's the same if I were into collecting stamps. I wanted to share it with her!"
"You think you were sharing love by torturing Fluttershy?!"
"I told you, my special talent is expressing my love through my blades. I'm only being true to my cutie-mark!" She said angrily.
Where had I heard that tone before? Oh yes, one time when Sweetie had made a disgusting, badly sewn together dress for me and I had to tell her I wouldn't be wearing it on my birthday. Sweetie had used the same tone of voice.
"So all the abuse and savagery and mockery you heaped upon Rainbow Dash... am I to interpret that as AFFECTION?! You can barely stand to be around her!"
I never would have expected the sort of smile Fluttercruel then gave: the bashful smile one gives shortly before confessing a guilty pleasure to a trusted friend.
"Well . . . now that you make me think about it. As quick as I've always been to give Dash grief for being a spineless, softhearted doormat... I think there's always been a part of me that's found those traits warm. Like mother."
At this, I felt a fresh wave of shame for almost having ended Dash's life. For never having been there for her. I vowed that, once this was all over, I would set things right between us.
"I wonder if deep down, I was trying to free her. I never thought about it before. Imagine her throwing away being so miserable all the time! And actually having fun. Treachery and Cruelty, like bacon and hamburgers."
"You really can't feel regret."
"Not true! I have tons of regrets. I regret no longer being able to express my love to mom. I regret never being able to do a damn thing about Santa Hooves. I regret how tormenting Tragedy was as meaningless as hugging a corpse. I regret how my relationship with Angry Pie never really deepened beyond mere comrades-in-arms... we could've been so much more!" I startled at the hurt in the murderer's voice.
"I first promised to kill you Fluttercruel as a mad pony to be put down. Now I see a thousand-year-old spoiled brat who no pony bothered to teach the difference between a hug and a handgun. If I was any other Element I'd promise to knock some sense into you. But as the Element of Honesty: I know the truth. The only pony who can save you is Fluttershy . . . and since I can't bring her here, I'm going to send you straight to her."
Tidal waves clashed, stone met steel. She and I stayed back, the Achilles' Hooves of both our armies. Death-rays fired all at once, Fruit Pie's body was destroyed. It took more, but I created stone riot shields out of their claws and hooves.
Cruel had several of her metal puppets link together and fired a pillar-sized death ray right at me. It tore through Apple Cake first, followed by many, nothing stopping it, I shed my armor and managed to dodge, my armor ripped to shreds. The metal monsters melted from the over output.
The metal monsters moved in perfect lockstep, never stopping, they had no fear of death, for they weren't alive, they fired their weapons at the same time. I trusted those within me to rely on their own battle instincts instead of micromanaging their every thought.
Cruel grimaced more and more as she tried to direct her underused technique. I, on the other hoof, had centuries of experience. And my army weren't a bunch of mindless drones.
We both felt it every time a soldier of our army 'died.' Stone or steel didn't make a difference, I could feel the pain and I saw it in her eyes, she did too.
Garreck provided a distraction from above as he managed to get near Cruel. I was startled, and that emotion rippled through my army, when Cruel produced a old style Griffin revolver and the magically enchanted bullet shot through his stone head, making the stone hippogriff crumble. Vanilla Cake still managed to punch through Cruel's ring of bodyguards and headbutt her. Poison Apple leaped off Vanilla and landed on Cruel's shoulders and began pummeling away as Vanilla Cake held Cruel.
The nearby metal pegasus skeletons turned and fired at the upper body of their commander. The rest formed a circle and began firing endlessly and almost randomly. Cruel's head was vaporized along with Poison Apple's stone body. I pulled her back inside our body just before she could experience death a second time. Vanilla Cake wasn't so fortunate and I pulled her shaken spirit back within me.
Cruel lost a lot of her metal ponies. She began trying to produce more. I began to put those who were willing back into the fight. There was more than enough stone and earth around to produce a near endless supply.
This was pointless! We could both send our fallen back into battle almost at once! Except mine felt it. And the longer I was trapped here in this deadlock the longer my friends were short one team member. Our entire strength was built around us covering each other's weaknesses and picking up the slack when the enemy threw a hard curveball.
"I begin to see why Dad never thought big of mooks. They exist just to lose," Fluttercruel hissed after her head grew back.
I said nothing. The assault was more important than delivering quips.
We were both getting frustrated. I just needed to hold on until she got reckless enough. She was the psychotic little filly with little reign over her emotions.
"Clop this." Cruel said. "You said you were Mom's best friend, right?!"
"I AM her best friend! Death means nothing!"
" . . . Auntie Rancor's right. I HAVE been ignoring all the sides to myself. And Dad's right. I HAVE been putting fun before business a bit too much! Let me show you MOM'S STRENGTH!"
Her army split apart, giving us a line of sight to each other. I brought up a stone spike to snipe her and a stone shield in case she tried to simply shoot me.
But her eyes. Her eyes. They pierced like a spear through paper walls. I felt those eyes borrow into my brain. My Element of Chaos skipped a beat.
I-I couldn't move! My allies found themselves paralyzed by association. Her metal army stopped attacking. Her eyes cut into my soul! I was quivering.
"Disperse your party guests." She said sternly. The many stone Earth ponies, changelings, and hippogriffs fell apart into rubble. I couldn't resist.
"Kneel." My legs buckled. Even the fall couldn't let me look away. It was like there was a tunnel between us. No escape.
"On your back, all four legs spread out." My body obeyed.
"H-how," I managed to choke out.
"I could have used The Stare any time I wanted." Her eyes stayed locked on me. "I have. I've just not used it when the rest of you were around." She began trotting towards me, her metal army melting around her and reforming into an oversized sword shaped around her right forehoof. "Mainly to catch toys, not while I'm playing with them. It's less fun when my toys can't struggle."
"That's insane! You don't have that kind of self-control!"
"Like a lot of things, 'father told me to', end of discussion. And it FEELS SO GOOD to be finally able to call him that! Thank you for finally rebelling! I died a little inside every time I couldn't call him my dad! Hiding my cutie mark under mom's was suffocating. But for Him, I'll endure anything."
"H-How could you, Liarjack, Applejack should have seen through you!"
"She did, stupid. And like everything else, she ran away from the ugly truth. Cowardly denying what was right in front of her face. So she helped add to my illusion, her best, that even she wouldn't see through. Dad, as a gift for her hard work, erased her memories of who I really was. She thanked him dearly as he did so. First honest thing she had said in a long time, as I recall. Am I lying?"
"N-No, you're not." I said honestly under The Stare. My telekinesis, my family from within, none of my magic was working, it was like I existed separated from everything else. Resistance felt like a foreign concept.
"Dad said to use this as a final last resort if the rest of you ever turned on him. But your Element of Chaos is about to go bye-bye, so it's not like it matters. Not like Honesty's hiding some hidden transmitter. Sorry for all the exposition I've been doing Auntie. I've just had to keep this all cooped up for so long!"
"I-I can appreciate that."
"You said you were going to send me to Mom? Since you were such great friends with her, I'll do it for you as a favor, Auntie Rarity. Please give her a cut on the foreleg for me so she knows little Cruelly still loves her mommy!"
My body was paralyzed, obeying only her. I couldn't reach out to any of the earth and stone around us. My magic was effectively cut off, it couldn't reach a millimeter outwards. And that wasn't the only thing about to be cut.
Her sword came down, cutting me and my Element of Chaos in two. I felt a strange sense of duality for a moment, then nothing.
One new thought flashed through my mind.
There was one jewel that was right with me. My magic could reach inwards.
And the tiny diamond in my neck shot out glowing the color of my magic. It destroyed one eye on the way inside, lancing her skull like a ball in a jar. Her blade missed by a mile. Her motor functions went haywire as The Stare's power was broken.
Tom, you saved me. Thank you.
Her body jerked around randomly. "YOU BITCH! I'll eat you alive like a piranha, starting with your dry, barren, gravelly, grit-blanket of a--!!!"
"Immature threats from an immature foal," I said with great ladylike dignity.
Tom left the way he entered and came home. Of course her eyes regenerated, but slower than normal. She did an imitation of Angry Pie as she growled. "You cheated! You rotten, no-good..." Another flash bomb. She took a page out of Twilight's book and regenerated the hard and fast way slashing her weapon where she figured I'd close in for the kill.
Her eyes saw me. And she ran me right through the heart. No. Seriously. She did. Except it wasn't exactly 'me' me.
The slipshod illusion around the preserved unicorn carcass flickered and faded away, I am so rusty. Thank Celestia her optic nerves and part of her brain were still damaged.
Her eyes widened as realization hit her. "But you're Honesty! That was DECEITFUL!"
Right as I had the shattered stones and rocks from our battle come at her from every direction at once. She was ready for them to strike her. Instead they covered her like a mummy. Then a snow pony.
"Yes, it was. But lying to a killer about their victim's whereabouts isn't evil. I learned that from Applejack."
Her sword broke off and began to form into the metal pegasi again.
The stones on her opened up just enough just for right where I needed to strike. "MINE!"
I claim my prize.
The metal necro-ponies fall apart.
"YOU!" Cruelty's voice screams inside the rocky mass. "HOW DARE YOU! THAT'S MINE!"
"Finders keepers." I say simply.
"THIEF! That's it! You think that's it?! Oh you've got another thing coming! I swear on every member of my family when we next meet, you'll know so much pain! I swear, I swear, I-"
The Spike-sized stone sword I had finished shaping pierced the rock pile. The pile of rocks fell silent.
"Tell Fluttershy I said hi."
I pressed the black-Blutterfly shaped Element of Cruelty against my chest, and cleanly and seamlessly now it was where it could keep my Element of Desire company. Thank you, all of you for your help.
Fluttershy. She's all yours. I know your soul is in Heaven, but I'm sure you'll brave Hell for the sake of hers. May you be a good mother and give your evil delinquent daughter an overdue spanking.
I created a hammer and drill and as fast I could and began to unbury myself! Spike, Applejack, don't worry I'm coming!
Yes, Poison Apple, we're coming for Apple Pie too.
Without Rarity and Spike's help, AJ couldn't just assimilate Apple Pie and Derpy's injuries. Earth Pony magic was based on life though, not just dirt and plants, and Applejack still had the Element of Kindness to heal, and the Element of Deceit to numb the pain.
She just wish she knew more about her own and pegasi anatomy so she'd know what she was healing and HOW to heal it! She knew broken bones and how to set them. But not nerves, organs, and blood vessels. She wish she knew more! 'Maybe if Ah don't end up dyin' before the end of all this, Ah'll figure out on how ta become a doctor.'
Apple Pie had known pain before, plenty of times. But this was on a whole new level. 'So Ah guess this is what it felt like fer Banana Pie when ma clawed her.'
Derpy just wished Applejack could heal her faster. If she couldn't hurt the draconequus she could at least provide a high speed distraction!
Rancor and I were like two flags in a tornado. But I, the giant purple dragon, was the one showing damage.
"Whoo-hoo! This is great! I could kiss you, handsome!"
"BLECH! Speak for yourself! You're too shallow for my tastes!"
"Ya know, it's funny. My family tells me the same thing. Dad says I need as much substance as style, and Pandora thinks I need a hobby, and Anarchy thinks I'm cliché. And Strife says I need more than one note in my personality. But I'm just a little concept, so it's only natural I'm shallow, that's how all concepts start, isn't it? Wanna listen to me rock 'n' roll later?"
"YOUR VOICE IS SO ANNOYING!" I bellowed making Rancor cup her ears. I took the chance and tail-slapped her, but her levitation made her stop in mid-arc and merely fly towards me without missing a beat.
"You sound like those 'tech-wizards' of that one galaxy Strife is so proud of, you should hear some of the names the locals have come up with for me."
I got ready to dive at her like a ballistic missile, and happened to glance at my friends and blinked... then laughed.
"'Bout time you got into the spirit of things." Rancor grinned.
"I am so incredibly dense!" I laughed. "Rarity and all of my friends have been saying how I'm 'better' than muscle-head dragons. And here I am doing everything your way! Letting YOU lead the dance! I have brains and I've been doing nothin' but relying on instinct and brute strength! HA! I suck!"
I laughed more.
"I became the Element of Generosity by accepting ALL of me, then I go forgetting half of who I am! Geeze!" I casually popped my joints and took a deep, calming breath. "Well, I think it's about time I start playing this game the smart way, you thrill junkie."
"Inner calm. Dispassionate zen. Blech. You just sucked all the fun out of this. Boo. Hiss. Okay. Suit yourself, pal. Back to fighting!"
Rarity, Twilight, believe in me.
Rancor made a beeline for me, claws and jaws first. I folded one wing, moved slightly to one side and grabbed her moa claw, then swung her into me and gave her a giant hug, and folded both my wings, and used my jaws to clap her mouth shut before she could escape via her snake skin trick again. She slammed into the ground head first, all thanks to good old-fashioned gravity.
"OW!" Rancor cursed as she finally wiggled free. I could visibly see her head throbbing. "Wish I was mature enough to erase things."
"So you did feel that."
"Congratulations, handsome, but a one-trick pony isn't going to beat me."
"I'm a dragon." I wrapped my tail around one of her legs, and slammed her into the ground again.
"Sorry, tough guy, doesn't-heh-work-ahah, that-EHEHE-STOP THAT!" I figured tail slamming her wouldn't phase Little Miss Embodiment of Violence. But since when has tickling been considered violence?
"HAHAHAH! YOU'VE GOT TO BE-HA-AH! KIDDING!"
"There's these things called books. I've had a thousand years as Discord's ride to read them."
Apple Pie opened one eye and laughed at the sight too, though I think it might have opened up her wound. "AH, DANGIT!" AJ cursed.
"HEHEHEH! There's no way I'm losin' HEHEH! THIS WAY! AHAHA!" She tried shedding her skin again and met my waiting fist, didn't hurt her, but stopped her. I rolled on top of her, grabbing her claw again (for the record, never grab somepony's wrist in a fight unless you're redirecting their momentum, go straight for their hand since they can still fight if you're just holding their wrist). She still had three sharp limbs to slash at me though!
I was building up cuts, and bruises, I gave Rancor the chiropractor session of the millennium! I threw in some acupuncture for good measure! Thanks for the books Fluttershy.
"This isn't fun anymore." Rancor groaned like a teenager. "Instant crippled for life pressure point tech-AGH!" I flipped her into the dirt leaving an obviously painful impression.
"First, it's stupid to say what you're doing before you do it. Second, you wouldn't believe how long I procrastinated on finishing that hoof wresting book." I stop myself short from mentioning it wouldn't have worked on me anyway, Dragon's scales are buried too deep for that kind of thing to work. But why give away an advantage?
"You messed up my mane!"
"It was already messy!"
Rancor teleported, I didn't try to guess which way she'd come and used all the muscles in my legs to push myself out of where I was standing. She came from above, now all her pointy-things were stuck in the ground.
Rule one of judo according to Rarity's self defense books. If the enemy pushes, you pull.
"I can teleport, even if you've found a way to cheat reality, I'll still last longer than you, and meanwhile your friends are getting messed up inside."
I startled, but for once I didn't take the bait, she wanted me to start being reckless again. I take another calming breath. Thank goodness for those meditative books.
I flapped my wings as hard as I could, creating a hurricane. She dug her claws into the ground. Not the point, I created a nasty dust cloud.
She somehow sensed exactly where I was and came out of the dust cloud, teleporting halfway to close the distance and stabbing me in the gut with her claws. Dangit. I forgot she could do that. I grabbed her moa claw and continued her chiropractor session. "AAAAGH!"
I got the impression being a goddess with immunity to violence didn't give her a lot in terms of building up a pain tolerance. Me? I've been on the end of Discord's humiliations for a thousand years!
She was made up of so many animals, figuring out nerve clusters was crazy, if she even had them being a living spirit. But I seriously, seriously think this rowdy teenager needs a nap! On the bright side, if she moves too much, I might accidentally dislocate something. I'm willing to bet she can still hurt herself.
She grabs my arm and tries to break the elbow like she did to Derpy, but I pull my arm out of the way a split second before she could get a good grip on it.
Predatory instinct has its advantages, such as letting me react quicker by taking the thought process out of reacting to a threat my senses catch before my brain. If I was relying completely on my brains, she'd have caught me by now. I couldn't disregard that part of me…Come to think about parts of me I've been neglecting, that gives me an idea…
I look behind me out of the corner of my eye, then twist Rancor around, before breaking contact and flying back. I send a stream of green fire that goes right over her left shoulder and through a window.
"Going back to that well? At least you could hit me with it."
A few seconds later, an entire library's worth of Discord's autographed autobiographies, yearbooks, chaos minion instruction guides, and joke books manifested directly over her head in a burst of magic fire and gravity did the rest with a resounding crash.
"Wasn't aiming at yah! See, that kind of thing works better when you shout it after doing it."
She blew away the books from her body sending them in every direction, AJ shielded her patients. I was pummeled by my own projectiles.
"Sorry, that one didn't work. You can't cheat reality just by lying to yourself. Get real. Ya know, I had hopes for you. More passion than any dragon I've seen, all that base violence, wanting vengeance for what big bro's done to yer treasures. You'd have been a great Chosen One."
What kind of petty, immature, selfish jerk would want to be this chick's 'Chosen' Anything?'
Equobo took a right hoof from Superstallion. The black and white muscle bound alien biker pony was sent flying backwards through some (conveniently) abandoned buildings, and ruined Lex Luthorse's golf game.
"I won't let you destroy the Earth!"
"I gotta! I've got five minutes to prep for my drag race and it's in the way!"
"You could have just asked me to push the planet out of the way!"
Alright Spike think. She's right. She can teleport. And seems to be able to sense where I am without seeing me. But . . . if she's so fixated on me. That means AJ, Derpy and Apple Pie have time to recover. She wants to fight you. Use that. Drag her along. Okay. Rarity was ticked, not really a good thing when going up against a psycho like fake-Fluttershy. And Twilight still refuses to accept that Pinkie Pie's gone. Great. Well, Twilight has a lot more tricks up her sleeve than what used to be Pinkie Pie. But between the Dreadful Duo, Fluttercruel's always struck me as the worst of two evils. Rarity it is, then.
I move back from a swipe, lightly grasping the back of her wrist and spun her around with her own momentum. I keep it up, spinning her like a top then letting go and sending the now dizzy draconequus plowing into the castle from her own out-of-control momentum.
"Back at ya!" She then began to spin like a tornado all her claws and fangs forming a sharp edge, if I touched her I was shredded meat, she stepped like a ballerina to keep herself from becoming dizzy again.
Apple Pie managed to surprise her earlier. Come to think about it, the only time she took notice of Apple Pie is when she drew it directly. So either she was intentionally ignoring her (unlikely) or Apple Pie lacks something the rest of us have that she's picking up? What does that filly lack that…
I promptly slam my claw into my face. Spirit of Revenge, Violence, and Passions gets blindsided by the innocent little filly who hasn't got a mean bone in her body and is being driven by faith in us. How did I not see that.
I breathe a thick cloud of smoke around the two of us her tornado sucked up. Okay, meditation books…clear your mind, Spike…don't think of your passions, don't think of your anger, and let your instinct to protect Rarity and the others guide you while your predatory instinct keeps track of Rancor…
She stops her tornado.
She flies up fast…and I put my tail out, letting her clothes line herself with her own momentum. Doesn't hurt her. But got to get her frustrated so she'll bite.
A few times I come up behind her and tap her on the shoulder, then vanish. I use more smoke to keep myself hidden. I feel my Element of Generosity pulse with power, helping me keep focused and use every part of me.
I zoomed off back towards the castle again, guided by my instinct to protect my friends while I keep my passions suppressed. After being halfway there, I let my mind unclear and my passions come to the forefront. Far enough away to make her panic and not see my plan coming, but close enough that she won't go after the others.
I zoomed off back towards the castle again. Rancor of course teleported behind me and caught me by the tail, this time I broke with my wings and momentum did the rest for me slamming her into my spines (glad I thought to have Applejack and Rarity regenerate those for me).
"YEOW!!!" With my unwanted luggage I flew straight for the castle and began to dig out my greatest treasure of all.
"There is no Pinkie Pie, Twilight! It took hundreds of years, but I joined the other pieces of my fragmented psyche back together! I cleansed myself! I am only Anger!"
"If that's true you wouldn't treat your students like family!"
"They are family!"
"And what part of that is anger and hate?"
"You make my head hurt!"
"It's Discord's taint making your head hurt! It's not letting you realize-"
Angry Pie threw bundles of dynamite, came down with jackhammers, never being in the same place for long as I fired torrents of fire, ice, thunder, where I thought she was or where she'd be but she always seemed to second-double guess me. I was able, in turn, to teleport around and bring up barriers to deflect her offense.
"How are you doing this, Pinkie?! There's no way you'd hide the fact that you could still do all your old tricks! All those times I saw your fighting alongside your foals! You fought Grogar with Little Hex! You'd never hold back if you really felt anything for your children!"
Angry Pie held up a stop sign, then threw it at me, I caught and threw it back at her, which she dodged of course. "I barely understand it myself. I think it's because I've never been this calm before. I've never kept their names active in my mind all at once before. It's like... now that they're all together, they've given me new strength."
"No, Pinkie, do you know what your real strength is? Making others happy makes you happy! What you wanted more than anything was for your foals to be happy! It's the real you, crying out from inside!"
She stuffed pop-rocks into a soda-can and kicked it in my general direction. Four of my legs were caught in bear-traps, I teleport WITH them, avoiding the bomb.
"Typical, because I don't fit your definition of 'me' that means I'm not a 'me' at all! My family was the same way!" Pickaxes arced towards me like water from an angry gray fountain, I caught them with my magic easily. When I was hit by the Molotov cocktail from behind, I realized it was a diversion. Angry Pie never used diversions! I screamed, stopped, dropped, and rolled, right onto a incendiary land mine.
"YOU be on fire, for once! Sorry, Powder Cake, I know you never liked land mines."
I was no hippogriff, but I could still summon a nice rainstorm, ick! Oil?! She's smarter than she looks! This wasn't like her at all! What happened to her?!
"So how does it feel to be burning, Twilight? To suffer for somepony else's amusement? Feeling belittled? Hurt? Humiliated? Angry?"
"Is that how the taint tells you how to justify your anger? Is that how it keeps you from thinking? By convincing you that you're the world's only victim?"
"Don't you dare insult my foals. I protected them from this mocking world."
"And that's how the taint lets you live with yourself, Pinkie Pie. That's the logic it feeds you, so you can feel like you're the good pony while you slaughter millions. Tell me, how many foals have you killed? Because they were ticklish? Because they told jokes? How many were teased and made to laugh at their own pain by bullies? How many? But once in a blue moon, some lucky foal slips through the cracks of your murderous narrow-mindedness. Either you let them off with a warning... or you adopt them."
Between blinks she was right next to me. She punched me in the back, breaking it. I lifted her up with my telekinesis, away from my horn.
"You think I love my foals because I feel guilty?! I'm giving all you chortling monsters what you deserve! I don't adopt my students on a whim! I'm not Discord! I adopt them because they see the world for what it is! One bastard pony tried to bargain for his life with me, offering up a filly he'd had been abusing, trying to get me to kill her instead! I gave him what he deserved! And I gave her a home!"
"I'm not saying that was WRONG! THINK, Pinkie Pie!" I pleaded. "All I'm saying is: just because you see a pony's laughing on the outside, doesn't automatically mean she isn't crying on the inside!"
(Will you wake up?! Your therapy isn't working! Take her out before she does the same to you and all your friends!)
She's my friend!
(Pinkie Pie was your friend! This mad mare has killed how many? Idiot! Would Pinkie Pie do that? She's no better than Discord or Fluttercruel!)
She's just confused and hurt! Just like we were!
(Tell that to her victims.)
"What are you doing?! Monologuing to yourself? You think I can't tell when a pony isn't hurting inside? I've always-always, Agh!"
"That's it! Think! The Pinkie Pie from a thousand years ago was never a jerk-donkey!"
"I'm not a jerk-donkey! You're all jerk-donkeys! And that's racist!"
"Now that's the Pinkie I know." She fought like a wild cat suspended by my telekinesis. If she couldn't be the Element of Laughter again, I could at least bring HER back to reality. I didn't CARE About the Element of Laughter, I cared about her!
"Will you shut it! Pinkie was treated like a retarded foal by everypony around her! Humored at best, tolerated in fair weather, and ignored when the 'grownups' have important things to do! Even after I saw the truth, you kept laughing! Everypony just keeps laughing because they think it's funny whenever I'm hurt! You pigs!"
The ground began to shake? What? Pieces of junk and debris and trinkets from the roof of the battle where Rarity and Cruel had been fighting began to trickle into the garden.
"Shut up. I'm not a thing. I'm not a joke. I'm not an animal. I'm not a toy. I'm not a weapon. I'm not a tool. I'm not a pet. I'm not a foal. I am Angry Pie!"
The entire garden and castle walls were shaking now.
"You think I'm a riot when I get hurt? When I cry? You bullies! WELL LAUGH THIS OFF!" I actually lost my balance and lost my line of sight of her for one moment.
That moment was all she needed as she cheated the laws of spacial relations and kicked me in the horn. It was like a freight train had stampeded into it. She landed on four hooves, and my own horn throbbed like it had almost broken off.
"THAT was for saying I didn't love my foals!"
"I never said that! I said the taint won't let you see you've been cherry-picking!"
"Huh? I grew up on a rock farm, not a cherry farm, AGH! What would you know, you've never been a mother! You've never even had any brothers or sisters!"
"Wrong, Pinkie. I have Spike, he's my brother and my foal. He was one of the few things I was able to feel ANYTHING for, through Discord's taint. Apple Pie is like a little sister to me! As the adopted mother of so many, you know better than anypony that family isn't just about blood. You guys are my family. I'll never give up on saving you."
"...And it's for my family that you need to die, Twilight."
Maybe then. The mocking laughs will finally stop.
(Ha. Ha. Ha. That's a real rib-tickler, you worthless animal.)
We'll see about that! With all my foals together, maybe we'll finally be free of this Pony Hell!
She set off a flash grenade. I saw her and fired triplet shots of ice, lightning, and fire. She split open like papier mâché. The piñata of her was filled with gunpowder, shrapnel and plushies of me. The explosion left the place a wreck and my body painfully regenerating.
I conjured self-replicating crystals and fired a laser into them that reflected a dozen times, the lasers skewered her body and bloodlessly sliced off her repaired leg. She, just, kept, going! She took out a mirror from nowhere and deflected the laser at me I ended the spell at once.
She kicked all the crystals back at me like a flurry of afterimages, I caught them with my magic, but I didn't catch the round-black cartoonish bomb she threw in my face a second later.
Her speed was amazing. All her rage was still there. But it was focused like a laser. Like she had gone over to the other side, her rage reaching the point where she had entered a zen like state, like Rarity. I was scared.
I caused the water in the pond to crash and encase her, no matter which way she ran. She began to lose breath, and she drank it up ballooning out in the process. I forced myself not to laugh at the sight. I froze the water inside her, leaving her with a giant rock inside her. She took out a hammer and struck herself, I heard shattering and she shrank to normal.
I animated the plants to try and eat her, maybe if I could use my magic on her Element of Chaos directly maybe I could cure her! Or use some variation of the Memory Spell. Something! Anything!
She took out a pair of pruning sheers, I pulled them out of her grasp. She took out a bottle of weed killer from Celestia knows where, and I pulled that away too, but she grasped the cap with her teeth and pulled it open, spraying it on herself and everywhere, and the plants weren't immortal. I cringed, thinking of mom and dad.
She threw a giant jar of glue at me, I didn't try to catch it this time and teleported out of the way. I then PUSHED it with all my might, making it shatter on impact with her and sending her straight through a wall! The wall behind me shattered at the same instant and the glue covered Angry Pie collided with me.
Using the extra force of the impact she, ugh, no she couldn't have. I felt the my rib cage broken, and I felt her hooves around my very being and felt it, myself, pulled out of me!
I grabbed myself with my magic to pull me back inside, her muscles bulged as she tried to pull back. Then two strong hooves with the force of mountains broke my horn off. She jump kicked off me. I wasn't healing.
"This and your horn gone shouldn't reduce your magic more than say, ninety-nine percent?" She said darkly. I watched her crush my horn's broken off half under her restored hoof.
(You have to try!)
I brute forced my telekinesis with what I had left of my horn, going for the black jewel she had in her hooves, she pulled back, she was being dragged to me, but I was bleeding horribly, and I felt myself become weaker and weaker, she kicked dirt in my face, breaking our tug-of-war.
I looked her in the eyes in shock. She sighed before she grunted and grabbed her head, looking back at me.
"Not every day you see your 'heart' is it? Not that we have any." She said, she wasn't speaking sadistically, almost, matter-of-fact! "You were really pouring the magic out, it's happening already."
What's happening? I noticed my mane's colors were fading. This wasn't the gray whitewash of Discord's magic, this reminded of... Granny Smith.
My joints ached. I felt my muscles wear out.
Angry Pie sat down in front of me, she turned over the Element in her hooves. She didn't look happy or triumphant.
"Pinkie Pie . . . please." I saw wrinkles on my legs, my body sagged.
"Look at you now." She held up a mirror. I gasped. After one thousand years, I looked old. Seeing hundreds of ponies from babies, to foals, to adults, to elderly, and finally dust. But why? Why was this happening? Why should time speed up for me to make up for lost time? I didn't make any sense! Rivers didn't teleport to the ocean when a dam broke! "I guess this makes you Half-Light Dusk now, eh?"
She held the Element of Chaos in front of me. "Want this back, Dusk? Sorry. I'll be needing this." She cleaned it off with a handkerchief and with a bit of string wore it like a necklace. I tried to use my telekinesis to move it, but my head ached from the effort, my heart rate fluttered.
She looked deeply at my Element, myself, as if she was having a silent conversation with it. She looked up at me, I couldn't tell what her emotions were like.
"I see. I understand. I get it now." Angry Pie put down a soapbox and sat on top of it. I felt the years passing. "Magic is both Tragedy and Friendship. It's one Element. You don't have a 'spare' to keep you alive if you lose one, unlike your friends. And here's something I've learned over these thousand years. We started out as mortal ponies, Twilight. We heal from anything instantly with no effort on our part. The only way this could work IS with permanent magic, if it was instantaneous magic, we'd just be ageless. Instead we're unkillable, well, almost. And permanent magic, unlike instantaneous magic, can be removed. Once all my foals are with me I'll have no reason to be angry, I'll be needing this to keep them safe. Thank you."
"Please Pinkie, you don't have to do this. The tainting is making you think you have to. It's blinding you."
"Then I'm thankful it has. Otherwise I'd still be blind to lies I kept telling myself so I wouldn't have to face reality. I'm going to make sure each of your friends suffer like I have before they die, including that filly, does that make you want to laugh like when you saw me suffer? No? THINK about that with whatever time you have left."
(Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up! You command the body!)
"Being angry isn't a sin, but this won't get you what you want. One question, it involves Apple Pie…Have I ever hurt one of YOUR foals?"
She stopped and looked at me. Sadly? Regretfully? "So you really don't remember that night."
The shock left a sharp pain in my chest.
She took Smarty Pants from where she likely kept everything and placed it right next to me. "Goodbye, Half-Light Dusk." And she was gone.
(AN: Music Water Crown, Digital Devil Saga)
She left the mirror behind. I saw my face. The pony I was supposed to have become nine hundred years ago. And still going. I remembered the light blue unicorn . . . Trixie. We looked so similar now. But it was like she had found peace at the end I think. I turned my heavy head to one corner of the inner garden. A slab of stone, engraved with her cutie mark.
Trixie. It seems I'll be with you soon. I'm sorry I couldn't save you. Smarty Pants, I'm sorry I couldn't give you life again. Spike, I've lived longer than I was supposed to, I'm happy to see you've grown into a hero. Mom, Dad, watch the others. Apple Pie, you saved me, I have no regrets with you. Fluttershy, I'm sorry I couldn't save you. Minty, I'm sorry I couldn't save Pinkie Pie, I really tried, I did, I'm sorry. Rainbow Dash, please make the right choice. Rarity, Applejack, Derpy, looks like you may have to carry on without me.
(YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO GIVE UP! Not while Discord still lives! Not while your friends are fighting for you!)
I couldn't help but feel betrayed…maybe there really was nothing of Pinkie Pie left. But I'm so tired. I need to rest.
(You can rest later! Not now! You can't go to sleep now!)
I push myself up with as much force as I could, I gently pick up Smarty Pants with my mouth and put her on my back, no matter how heavy she feels. I could sure use a nap. Just, lay down and rest.
Pinkie, no, Angry Pie, she was going to kill all of them, and it was all my fault. I read once a farmer found a cockatrice in his field freezing, he hugged and warmed it, in return, it turned him to stone.
This is no more and no less than the price I owe for my mistakes. I'm only sorry my friends have to pay it too.
I begin to trot toward Trixie's grave. I'd like to take my nap next to her. One inch at a time. Heh. One hoof fall at a time right? Isn't that how life is? To the very
. . . end.