Disclaimer: I own nothing in this fic except the basic plot and the character Yellow Jacket. I make no money from this writing.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Knights of Equestria, part 12: The End is the Beginning is the...
"Nnngh..." Rainbow Dash groaned and opened her eyes. She found herself lying on her back on the TARDIS floor and staring up at the ceiling, her wings pinned awkwardly against her back. Her whole body ached from the tip of her snout to the end of her rainbow-hued tail; she hadn't thought it was even possible for hair to ache. Meanwhile the warm feeling in her chest had progressed into a burning sensation, though no light streamed from her like it had earlier.
Rolling to her side, Rainbow shook her head to clear it of the dizziness she felt and looked around. The other ponies scattered around her were in more or less the same state it looked like, except for Doctor Whoof. He was circling the control console, checking on various things Rainbow hadn't the faintest understanding of.
"Nnnh...what happened?" Ditzy asked to nopony in particular. Standing up she leaned down and helped Rainbow up. "The last thing I remember was Doctor yelling out Geronimo, and then a bright flash and suddenly I'm on the floor."
Doctor Whoof stepped away from a computer screen and looked around at them all. "We made it. We traveled back in time, hitting the moment of Midnight Castle's existence right on the mark! I am so happy that actually worked because, being honest here, I actually lied. It was closer to an 80% chance of dying horribly! And..." he withered under the glares turned his way by Rarity and Rainbow. "And it'd probably have been better if I never said that...right, I'll keep that in mind for next time we do incredibly dangerous things."
Big Mac helped Rarity to her hooves, and then looked over at Doctor Whoof. "So now that we're here, what do we do now?"
Doctor Whoof adjusted his bow tie and began trotting to the door out. "Well, first things first. We need to find Twilight Sparkle. With Trixie's magic we should have landed somewhere in her general-"
Everyone stopped in whatever they were doing and turned to look at who had shouted. Trixie remained kneeling at the control dais. In the bright light of the TARDIS control room her eyes were filled with tears, focused on something in front of her on the dais. Her body shook, desperately holding in sobs that wanted to escape.
Slowly, Doctor Whoof walked over and looked at the spot Trixie's eyes were focused on. "Oh..."
"What, what is it?" Rainbow flew over to where the two now sat, followed closely by Rarity, Big MacIntosh, and Ditzy. Looking to where the others looked, Rainbow felt her heart freeze and her wings fall limp to her sides, sending her dropping to the floor. There on the hand rail they had all used to steady themselves on the ride, was a pair of scorch marks in the shape and size of Spike's hands. But no Spike.
"He...didn't make it..." said Doctor Whoof.
"What?" Rarity looked over at the earth pony as if she couldn't understand him. Grabbing him by his collar she pulled him towards her, getting right in his face. "What do you mean he didn't make it? Where's Spike, Doctor? Where is he, please?" When he looked away from her, Rarity screamed and shook him. "No! Don't do that! You're a doctor, a genius! You've created this incredible machine, managed travel through space and time, don't say you can't help one little baby dragon! Do something, please! He was only a baby, do something!"
"I..." Tears formed in Doctor Whoof's eyes. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. Spike could've been wiped from time, he could've been obliterated at the molecular level, he could've been flung a million years into the past and died before any of us were born, I don't know! I'm sorry, there's just nothing I can do..."
"Nothing you can do?" Rarity let go of Doctor Whoof, letting him drop down to the floor. She kept her gaze on him as she backed away, waiting for him to look back up at her. "Then what's the point of you?!"
Rarity's shouts echoed through the room, fading as she collapsed against Big MacIntosh's side and wept. The whole group hung their heads, holding a moment of silence for the lost friend. They had all gone in knowing terrible things could happen, but none expected anything like this.
From the corner of her eye, Rainbow Dash saw Trixie reach a hoof up at touch the handprints. "He forgave me for all my misdeeds...before I even forgave myself. He was fun to trade jabs with, and a good assistant."
Ditzy sat down next to Rainbow Dash and sniffled. "He was a good playmate for Dinky. He could really make her giggle."
Doctor Whoof bowed his head, an unusual moment of silence coming from him. "He was Twilight Sparkle's oldest, closest friend. And he could...he could keep up with the best of them in burping contests, even Pinkie Pie."
Big Mac looked up from nuzzling Rarity's mane to the scorch marks. "I remember hearing Applejack and Twilight saying he was a hard worker, once ya got him going. Not ta mention that mah sis Apple Bloom had the cutest crush on him you ever saw."
Next Rarity looked up, fighting to regain her composure. "He...he was always such good help whenever I asked. He had the most obvious crush on me, I thought it cute...now the poor thing will never get the chance to get the courage to confess to me..." Rarity sniffed and hung her head back down. Big Mac returned to nuzzling her, whispering words of comfort to her.
"He was...always fun to pull pranks on," Rainbow Dash began, before faltering. Her eyes filled with tears that she hastily wiped away before they could fall. The seconds dragged on and she struggled to find something, anything more to say, before with sudden clarity her mind went back to the conversation the two of them had shared less than an hour beforehand. "And he helped me through a real tough time. We all owe it to him to continue on, I think."
A moment of silence more, and then Rainbow stepped forward and turned to address all of them. "We can't forget Spike. He was a good friend to all of us. We need to keep going and finish what we came here to do. He came on this trip with us to save his oldest friend Twilight Sparkle, and I'll be DAMNED if I don't save her for him."
"All that she's done," spoke Rarity, pulling from Big Mac's side and confronting Rainbow. "Attacked Canterlot, attacked our Princess, ravaged the lands and cast us all into twilight. And now on top of it all she as good as has Spike's blood on her hooves. I came to stop her, not save her, Rainbow Dash."
Rainbow Dash hovered an inch above the floor and looked down at Rarity. "So you'll be happy when you have Twilight's blood on YOUR hooves? I won't allow that, you'll have to have my blood there too, chump."
Ditzy fluttered to Rarity's side and looked with pleading eyes at Rainbow Dash. "Rainbow, Twilight is dangerous. And even if she wasn't, you know she won't give Yellow Jacket up without a fight.
Trixie took Rainbow's side. "And I won't give Twilight up without a fight, hairdresser. Yellow Jacket will be brought to justice for all that he has done, but I will not let you hurt my sister any more than you will let me hurt yours, understand?"
The heavy thuds of Big Mac's hoofsteps came as he sidled up to Rainbow Dash's other side. "Returning hurt for hurt never got anypony anywhere. We shouldn't let ourselves fall as low as the ponies we stand against." He glanced toward Rainbow Dash and gave a half-nod. "And we ain't the only ones to be hurting."
"That's right," Rainbow Dash said, continuing from there when Big Mac stopped. "Do you honestly think Twilight will be able to do anything once she finds out about Spike? She'll be hurt more than any of us! She'll...nnh..." Rainbow fell to her knees and reached a hoof up to the spot of light on her chest. "Nnngh! Gah!" Cracks of light spread out from the spot, before with a scream it burst and rainbow light began streaming out from her chest once more.
"Doctor!" Ditzy pushed Trixie out of the way and took Rainbow's side, wrapping a foreleg over the blue Pegasus's shoulders to try to keep her steady. "Doctor, it's happening again!"
"What?" Trixie and the others stumbled back, watching the light as if mesmerized. "What do you mean it's happening again?! This isn't possible!"
Doctor Whoof kneeled before Rainbow Dash and aiming his sonic screwdriver into the light began scanning. "Doesn't matter if you don't think it's possible, Trixie, you're seeing it happen." He glanced a moment at her. "Now shut up before you spoil things."
"W-wait, Doctor..." Rainbow coughed. From her mouth drifted particles of more rainbow light. "What do you mean...not possible..." She grabbed his shoulder with the hoof not pressed against her chest and looked him in the eye. "What...is...h-happening?"
Doctor Whoof averted his eyes from her and stuck his sonic screwdriver deeper into the light. "You know what it feels like is happening?" A humming filled the air. Slowly the light pulled back into Rainbow. "That's exactly what's happening."
Rainbow's eyes grew wide. She gripped his shoulder harder. "But it feels like I'm-"
"Yes I know!" Everyone jumped back in shock. None of them had ever seen Doctor Whoof shout like that before. The sonic screwdriver clattered to the floor as he wiped beads of sweat from his brow. He looked up at Rainbow Dash, and then around at the others. "Listen, Trixie, take everypony else on ahead. Miss Dash and I will stay here and catch up as soon as it's taken care of, okay? Okay."
"But Doctor." Trixie stepped forward, her eyes turning to the door out to Midnight Castle. "I don't think it would be wise to split up. I don't think we can do this-"
"You'll do fine," Doctor Whoof interrupted. He had picked the sonic screwdriver back up and returned to the light. "You're Twilight Sparkle's sister and some of her best friends, you can handle this." Doctor Whoof paused a moment and then continued. "And if you can't, well, we're in a time machine, Doo. Dash and I will just zip back a bit and join you then. Now off, shoo, away with you."
Reluctantly, Trixie, Big MacIntosh, and Rarity turned to leave. Ditzy lingered a moment longer, until Rainbow Dash looked up at her and grinned. "Hey, go on. We'll have this fixed up in 10 seconds flat. You won't even notice we're gone, yeah?"
Ditzy smiled back, but still did not leave quite yet. Stepping toward the two she placed a quick kiss on Rainbow Dash's cheek, and then turned to go. "I might love you," she said over her shoulder.
Rainbow Dash nodded, her grin softening as she returned the smile. "I might love you too."
And then the door shut, and Rainbow Dash and Doctor Whoof were alone in the TARDIS. Rainbow Dash stared at the door for a moment, took a deep breath, and then looked down at Doctor Whoof. The light from her chest had begun expanding out again, and its brightness was beginning to make it hard to see him. "First things first. Not a word of that to anypony, you hear?" The earth pony nodded. "Good. Now, I'm thoughtless...a lot...but I'm not stupid. That egghead Trixie knew what this is, she said it's impossible. You didn't, so you've gotta know what it is too. Now then, maybe the pony it's happening to should know?"
The TARDIS control room was silent, save for the hum of the sonic screwdriver. Rainbow Dash watched Doctor Whoof work on her, waiting for him to say something, anything. She did not have to wait long. Doctor Whoof pulled away from the light of Rainbow Dash's chest, deactivating his sonic screwdriver and slipping it back into his jacket. He sighed and looked up at her. "Rainbow Dash, the impossible Pegasus. Don't you have any idea what you are, what you mean?"
"What...what do you mean?"
Doctor Whoof smiled then. It was not a happy smile, Rainbow Dash thought, but it wasn't sad either. "Rainbow, no other pony in the history of the world has ever done a Sonic Rainboom like you have. No other pony has ever caused the creation of cutie marks like you have. No other pony has ever had such a natural connection to rainbow magic. It's in your mane, your name, your role in the lives of all your friends. I mean haven't you ever wondered how you could do all that, or why you were the only pony other than Twilight to suffer dreams of darkness and evil?"
"Doctor, you're making as much sense as Twilight whenever she tries explaining something." Rainbow Dash motioned to the light pouring from her. "Now are you going to explain this and stop it or what?" Doctor Whoof's smile changed then. It was the kind of smile Rainbow recognized from Twilight or Applejack when they knew something she didn't. "Doctor?"
"Rainbow Dash..." Doctor Whoof plucked his sonic screwdriver from his jacket and pointed it to her chest. "Tell me, have you ever heard the legend of the Rainbow of Light?"
Trixie, Ditzy, Rarity, and Big MacIntosh stood side by side outside the TARDIS, gaping around them at their surroundings. The TARDIS had brought them to some kind of indoor courtyard, though for what manner of creature they could hardly guess. The room was as massive all around as the stadium at Cloudsdale. Its floor was paved with black slabs the size of a pony, lines of silver running across it in intricate patterns. The walls were of the same black stone and bare of any drapes or coverings, only more of the intricate silver designs. The ceiling above them was glass or some unknown crystal, allowing them all a clear view of the night sky beyond. If any of them had any knowledge of either place, they would have noticed the throne room of Midnight Castle was in the exact same style of the holding room for the Magicahedron.
Ditzy shook her head to put a stop to focusing on all this and took a step forward from the group. "Okay then, so what's the plan? It's obvious Twilight and Yellow Jacket aren't in this room."
"...I'm not sure," replied Trixie, her response slow. Ditzy wasn't surprised; she too was focused on their surroundings. Though the walls were bare, the room itself was not. Across the courtyard's length stood countless statues of strange beings and different sizes, the smallest as big as manticores, the tallest as tall as Twilight's library. They stood on their back legs like Ditzy had seen gryphons and manticores sometimes do, with swords and spears gripped in claws almost like those dragons like Spike had. The creatures stood covered in armor from head to hoof, hiding all features except for one. Within the horned helmets shone a pair of rubies where Ditzy figured the eyes would be.
Rarity began walking forward through the statues, followed a moment later by Big Mac and then Ditzy and Trixie. "What are they? I've never seen anything so...brutal-looking in all my years!"
The sound of Trixie gulping was clear in the otherwise deathly-silent courtyard. "I have. Images sprinkled through ancient tomes, veiled references in moth-eaten manuscripts. Legend tells of monsters serving Tirek the Destroyer. They were known only as the Decons, creatures of metal and fire following their dread master from beyond the stars. Though why anypony would want to make statues of them I can't imagine."
"Well, they sound as horrendous as they look. And this place is dusty; it's getting all in my mane!" As if to emphasize this, at that moment Rarity sneezed, sending a plume of dust off the statue she was facing. Shaking her head she turned to Ditzy beside her. "Ditzy, be a dear and fly up a bit, won't you? Where's the closest exit?"
"Good idea." Crouching down, Ditzy leapt into the air and climbed up until she was well clear of the statues before looking around. She scanned the walls of the room, until "There, in the far wall." Ditzy dropped back down to the group and pointed in the right direction. "I saw a staircase leading out of the room; it was the only doorway I could see."
Trixie nodded. "Thanks, Ditzy. Come on, gang, let's go."
Trixie lit her horn up for light and began leading the way through the statues. Rarity and Big Mac followed close behind, looking around at the towering beings of metal around them, with Ditzy bringing up the rear. She too watched the statues, an indescribable feeling of...being watched coming from them. No, that wasn't it, she realized after turning her head and seeing one statue's face pointed straight down at her. It was felt like they were looking back. She didn't like it one bit.
"Guys, I've got a ba-"
"Don't say it," Rarity half-whispered, half-shrieked at Ditzy. The whole group jumped and looked at Rarity, who huffed and continued. "Don't any of you READ adventure stories?! That is the number one thing said by strapping heroes on their way to rescue the distressed damsel before something bad happens! Are you trying to jinx us?"
Trixie quirked an eyebrow. "You're kidding. You're kidding, right? Guh..." She turned back around and started walking again. "Of all the nonsensical...look, we're at the stairs already, okay?" Trixie waved a hoof over at the stairs that they all had, too busy talking to notice, already reached. Trixie glared at Rarity. "So what, do you expect a boulder to roll down and crush me?"
Ditzy giggled at the look on Rarity's face at this little jab. Making her way past Rarity and Big Mac, Ditzy joined Trixie at the foot of the stairs and looked up them. They were built into the wall, ascending at a straight angle away from them to somewhere else. Oddly, despite the massive proportions of the rest of the room, the steps were pony-sized. "Looks kinda dark in there, going to be a pain taking the steps. Where do you think it goes?"
"I'm not sure," Trixie replied. Her horn shimmered a moment and she placed a hoof on the first step. "I'm detecting a massive amount of magical energy up in the next room however. Twilight's up there."
"Which means the thing she came here for is up there too." Ditzy took to the air and waved a hoof forward. "Come on, we've gotta get up there! Let's-"
A blinding flash of light enveloped Ditzy and then dissipated. "-go. Wait what?" Ditzy looked around and found herself and the others in a completely different room. No statues stood in this one, and walls were interspersed with tall windows looking out onto mountain ranges. In the wall behind Ditzy were staircases leading down.
Ditzy frowned and looked at Trixie. "You can teleport like Twilight?" Trixie shook her head no. Ditzy turned to Rarity, who also shook her head. Ditzy's eyes widened, a chill of realization crawling up her spine. "Then that means..."
"Hello, my friends, sister! I'm...so...happy to see you!"
Together, the four ponies turned to the source of the voice and saw Twilight Sparkle standing at the far end of the room from them, a cloaked form that could only be Yellow Jacket standing to her left and a bit behind. But she was not as they had last seen her. She had grown taller, as tall as Princess Luna had been after being freed from the power of Nightmare Moon. Her mane and tail smoldered and flickered as if made of embers just moments from catching fire, and drifted in a breeze that wasn't there. A pair of wings the same shade of blue as Rainbow Dash's adorned her back, fluttering in anticipation, as if Twilight was just barely restraining herself from taking flight. The greatest change however was in her eyes. They were a pure white, shining in the darkness of the room. Not the slightest emotion could be read in those milky depths.
Rarity stepped to the front of the group. Her body shook from the power emanating from the fresh Alicorn in front of them, the pressure almost too much for her to bear. "Twi-Twilight, is that you?"
"Yes, it is!" Twilight's mouth stretched into a smile, the lack of anything from the eyes making it seem grotesque and artificial. "I am so happy to see you all again, after we parted on such...unhappy terms. I've calmed down now, I won't hurt you. I could never hurt you. Please, let me welcome you to Midnight Castle's throne room, where the greatest prison in the world is kept!"
Turning halfway, Twilight motioned a hoof to the area behind her. Transfixed as they had been by the radically changed form of their friend, Rarity and the others only now took notice of the thing behind Twilight and Yellow Jacket. It looked like a metal box, massive in size, covered in metal engravings forming a circle on every side. These engravings softly shone with a green light. Twilight looked back at them. "The Pandorica is quite an amazing sight, isn't it? The legends just don't do it justice."
"So that's it then?" Trixie motioned to the box. "That's where Tirek and the Knights are sealed?"
"Yes..." Twilight looked at them all for a moment, and then her smile dropped. "I was surprised when I felt your natural magics suddenly appear downstairs. How did you get here? Are there any more of my friends here to witness our great triumph?"
"Doctor Whoof," Trixie answered. "He really is a brilliant pony. Pushed the Gallopfreyan technology of the DRIS farther than anypony else has. Rainbow Dash is here too, with him." Grief filled Trixie's eyes. She began to walk over to Twilight. "There's no talking you out of any of this is there? No profound statement or philosophical argument I could make to change your mind."
"No, there isn't." The smile appeared again on Twilight's face. Turning she trotted past Yellow Jacket and to the Pandorica. As she grew closer, the light from the box grew stronger. "Now then, anything else you or the others want to say before Jack and I open this and become the saviors of Equestria? Or perhaps I'll just have Spike take a note of it later."
"Spike is...he's dead, dear sister."
Twilight froze, her hoof inches from contacting the metal exterior of the Pandorica. She looked back at Trixie, the fire fading fast from her mane and tail and her eyes dimming back to their natural purple. The others looked at her as well, Rarity frowning at the bluntness of Trixie's statement. "What did you say? I...I-I don't understand..."
Trixie continued to walk toward Twilight. As she went she shed her illusion around her, her light tones shifting to the deep blues and bone-whites of her true form. "I said Spike is dead. Gone. The journey here was deadly, but still he came with us. To save you, Twilight, his closest friend, from the path you were treading. He believed until the end that you were a good, kind, and LOYAL pony." Trixie stopped mere inches from Twilight, and for the first true time, the two sisters stared into each others' eyes. "And he would never have needed to if you hadn't come here. So ask yourself this, dear sister. Are you going to make his death meaningless?"
"I...no, I..." Twilight sank to her haunches, her whole body seeming to shrink in on itself to the watching ponies. She pressed her forehooves to her shut eyes, crying softly into them as her body shuddered in grief. "I didn't want this, I didn't want any of this...it's not fair, why can't anything be fair...I didn't want this!"
Trixie sat down beside Twilight and wrapped a foreleg around her shoulders. Twilight pressed into her, continuing to cry. Trixie held her then, the older sister comforting the younger. "No Twilight, it isn't fair at all. Nothing for quite a while has been fair for any of us. That fire should have never happened, the filly Dinky should never have been hurt, Rarity's home should never have been destroyed, Yellow Jacket should never have done all he did, and fallen so low as to need your help. Rainbow Dash shouldn't have had that spell put on her, you should never have been stabbed, Fluttershy should never have been attacked, and Spike shouldn't be dead. He was just a child."
Twilight's sobs shook her body even harder. Trixie squeezed her sister's shoulders all the harder, closing her eyes in thought. Unnoticed by anyone, Yellow Jacket slid a black dagger from his cloak and moved behind the pair of them. "But Twilight, Rainbow Dash told us all something when we got here and discovered Spike hadn't made it. You want to know what that was?" Twilight nodded and Trixie smiled a forlorn smile. "She said that we can't forget the little guy. That we owe it to him to continue on, with our lives, our relationships, our happiness. Will you continue on with us, Twilight? For your friends, for Spike?"
The room fell into silence. Trixie waited patiently, the others anxiously as Twilight continued to sit there and cry into her hooves. Finally however, the purple Unicorn sniffled and removed her hooves from her face, turning to look Trixie in the eyes. "Con...continue on for Spike?" She wiped her tears away with a hoof. "Yeah, I think...I think I can do that. For Spike. My precious Spike..."
"Twilight," said Yellow Jacket, making all there look over at him. He stood with his hood down, the black blade levitated beside him and pointed square at Twilight's chest. "You can't do this to me. After all we've been through, everything we've done, you can't abandon me now!"
"Jack, please," said Twilight, standing back up and stepping towards the Pegasus. "I'm sorry but I just can't do this anymore. I did it to save my friends, and so far I've only-"
"SHE TOOK MY WINGS!" screamed Yellow Jacket, flicking the blade to point at Trixie a moment before aiming it back at Twilight. He retreated back to match her steps forward. "You can't grow those back, Twilight! The only things that made me something, made me something special instead of a filthy, worthless earth pony! I'm no better than a beast now because of that rotten bitch!"
Big Mac's eyes narrowed at this. He stomped a hoof and started toward Yellow Jacket, before Rarity's hoof on his shoulder stopped him. "No, don't give that ruffian the satisfaction of getting a rise out of you." Big Mac hesitated, before sighing and settling for glaring at Yellow Jacket.
Twilight Sparkle was not so easily calmed down. "That what?! Jack I want to help you, but you will not so savagely insult my family like that!" From the corner of her eye Twilight saw Trixie softly smile. Twilight smiled back. "I may of only just gotten her, but family is family."
"Help me?" Something broke in Yellow Jacket's eyes. He screamed and twirled the blade around, until its movement was nothing but a blur to Twilight. "Fine then, help me! Help me the same way your pathetic friend Fluttershy did when I took her magic!"
Everything that happened next was a blur to Twilight Sparkle. She saw Yellow Jacket launch the dagger at her, watched it shooting through the air straight to her chest, but the only thing her mind could focus on were the words he had shouted at her, echoing again and again to her. The blade was just inches from piercing her heart, and all she could think on was that it had been Yellow Jacket all along she had wanted to protect her friends from.
Then a sudden shove from the side, and Twilight was sent stumbling over to the hard stone floor. A cry of pain from where she had stood snapped her head up, and she could only stare at the sight of Trixie standing there, Yellow Jacket's dagger buried to the hilt in her chest.
Trixie stared down at the weapon sticking from her chest, and then looked from it to Twilight. Their eyes met. "Twilight, I'm...sorry." Her legs buckled beneath her and Trixie fell to the floor.
"No!" Twilight ran forward, sinking to her knees and catching hold of Trixie's body before it could hit the ground. The whole room flew away from her, the shouts from Rarity and the others as they launched themselves at Yellow Jacket fading away to silence. All she could focus on was the Unicorn in her arms. "Trixie, why?! I could have taken the blade, I've taken worse!"
Trixie coughed, flecks of blood coloring her lips. She looked up at Twilight and smiled. "Sorry Twilight...had to. Big sister rules, heh." She coughed again and looked down at the hilt sticking from her. Twilight followed her gaze. "And no you couldn't. This is a royal guard blade...cuts off flow of magic in wounds...can't believe Jack was able to get his hooves on one..."
"No..." Tears filled Twilight's eyes and streamed down her cheeks. She had taken one when she had raided Canterlot. Reaching out with her magic she slowly pulled the blade from Trixie's chest, a shudder wracking her body at Trixie's cry of pain. Looking at the bloody blade she saw the runes that would indeed cause the effect Trixie had claimed. She screamed and with a mental flicker sent the blade flying away, before looking back down at Trixie. "Please, please just heal!"
"I, nnh..." A stream of blood leaked from Trixie's mouth, slithering down her cheek into a pool below the sisters. "I wish I could...I so wish I could..."
"Then do it!" Twilight pressed a hoof against the wound in Trixie's chest and began to pour her own magic into it, but it wouldn't hold. "Just heal, damn it!"
Trixie coughed and shook her head. Her eyes were clenched shut, her body shuddering in pain even as numbness began creeping up her limbs. "Twilight, t-tell me something..." Trixie pushed Twilight's hoof from her chest, and then directed her head to look her in the eyes. Trixie opened her eyes and smiled up at Twilight. "Was I...a good sister...the time we knew each other?"
Twilight sobbed, nodding her head. "You were the best sister I could have ever asked for. Oh Trixie..." She pulled Trixie's body closer, pressing horn to horn in the tightest hug she could manage. "I wish we'd known each other longer." No response came. Pulling back a little, Twilight looked and saw the light had left Trixie's eyes. Trixie was dead.
Twilight felt a hoof on her shoulder. Turning to look behind her Twilight saw Rarity standing there, her own cheeks wet with fallen tears. "Twilight, I am so terribly sorry. I can only imagine how you are feeling right now."
Twilight felt cold, and empty, and dead. Her mind was focused on only one thing. She looked from Rarity back down at Trixie's body, sliding the eyelids shut and then gently placing her onto the ground. Twilight stood up from the body, ignoring the blood staining her coat from holding Trixie close as she turned to face Rarity. "Where. Where is Yellow Jacket?"
Rarity withered beneath that empty gaze. Gulping she looked and pointed beside the Pandorica. Big Mac had Yellow Jacket pinned down there, while Ditzy looked through his cloak for any more hidden weapons. "We took him down while you...while you and Trixie had your last moments together. He went down incredibly easy, I don't think he's well."
Twilight turned to look at Yellow Jacket, and suddenly her eyes were no longer empty, but filled with absolute hate. "No, he's not." Her horn glowed, and with cries of surprise Ditzy and Big Mac were telekinetically flung away from Yellow Jacket. He had only a moment to look up at Twilight before he was seized by the same power and lifted into the air. Twilight screamed and smashed him back to the ground, smirking at his cry of pain.
"No, please Twilight! I'm-"
"Shut up." Twilight lifted Jack back up and slammed him into the ground again, a sickening crunch followed by a scream of pain as one of his legs broke.
Twilight let Jack's body drop to the floor at the foot of the Pandorica. He hit the ground with a wet smack, a pile of broken bone and flesh, glazed over eyes staring vacantly at nothing. Jack was dead.
Twilight Sparkle breathed heavily, though not from exertion. She stared at the body for several long moments, no thoughts surfacing above the rage that flowed through her body like an electric current. Then a small sound, a terrified gasp, made Twilight look behind her to her friends huddled near the staircase, looking as if they wanted so desperately to run down it.
"Rarity...Ditzy...Big MacIntosh...they're dead. Everypony is dying around me." Twilight looked from the others to the Pandorica. But if I had enough power..."
A look of horror dawned on Rarity's face. "No, T-Twilight! You can't!"
Twilight ignored Rarity and began walking towards the Pandorica, her horn taking on a purple shimmer. "Fold the space between seconds, not just travel back in time but reverse it completely. Make it so things never happened..."
"Twilight!" Rarity charged forward, but was repulsed by a wave of magic from Twilight. She was sent flying back, just narrowly caught from smashing face-first through a window by Ditzy. In the Pegasus's arms she shook the dizziness from her head and looked back at Twilight. "Don't do it! Spike and Trixie died to keep this from happening!"
Twilight turned to face them all and smiled. The green light from the Pandorica shone from behind, lighting up her body as she began rising into the air with her wings. "Stop it from happening? Yes. Yes! With this power I shall make none of this have happened! We will have Spike back, and Trixie back, and EVERYTHING SHALL BE PERFECT!"
The Pandorica slid open. The light of a hundred, a thousand, a million suns blasted out, sending Rarity, Ditzy, and Big Mac to their knees. Six tendrils of red, grey, blue, black, white, and purple light streamed out from the device and wrapped around Twilight's body until she was hidden from sight in a cocoon of light and magic. None of the ponies there could see what was happening there, blinded as they were by the intensity of the light. The whole throne room shook, the glass in the windows shattering and cracks spreading outwards from below where Twilight floated.
Then, as suddenly as it had started, the room's shaking stopped. The blinding light faded away, and slowly the three ponies near the stairs lowered their hooves from their eyes and looked. The sight that met their eyes made them all gasp and their jaws drop. The Pandorica was gone, no trace of it left. Where it had been stood a towering Alicorn, taller than Princess Luna, even Princess Celestia. Her coat seemed composed not of fur but of white-hot flame, roiling like the surface of the sun itself. Her mane and coat seemed as if they were fire and gas at once, burning a blinding neon purple that had the air around it shimmering from the contained heat. Her eyes shone red as rubies, and as devoid of emotion, and her cutie mark was a spiral of stars.
"T-Twilight?" Rarity stumbled a step forward, nearly dropping to her knees as those emotionless eyes turned to her. A terrible weight pressed down on her, the mere presence of the being in front of them upping the gravity on them. It was a struggle lifting her head up to look at her. "Twilight Sparkle..."
"THAT IS NO LONGER MY NAME." Rarity and the others screamed, covering their ears in a futile attempt to block off the awful voice, though it came not from the being's lips but directly into their minds. "I AM BEYOND THE SUN AND MOON. I AM BEYOND THE CHILDREN CELESTIA AND LUNA, AND THEIR SIMPLE PRINCESSHOOD. I AM THE EARTH ITSELF, AND THE STARS ABOVE IT.
The being that had once been Twilight Sparkle stepped towards them, over Trixie's body as if it was nothing at all. Where her hooves touched the floor the stone and metal melted, leaving glowing hot puddles in her wake. "I AM ABOVE ALL, AND SHALL HAVE A NAME BEFITTING IT. I AM QUEEN EOS."
"Ooh, we have a queen now? Cool, queens are cool."
Eos stopped walking forward, and all the weight that had been pressing down on Rarity, Ditzy, and Big Mac lifted. They snapped their heads to the stairs, and Ditzy jumped into the air from joy at the sight. "Doctor Whoof!"
Doctor Whoof smiled at Ditzy as he trotted from the top of the steps over to them, his sonic screwdriver gripped in his mouth and a smile on his lips that did not reach his eyes. "Sorry I'm late Doo, Mac, Rarity. I had to make sure a mutual friend was all ready to go. And you!" He yelled, turning to face the towering form of Queen Eos. "Twilight Sparkle!"
"MY NAME IS-"
"You're name's Twilight bloody Sparkle until I say otherwise!" Doctor Whoof smirked. "And I'm not saying otherwise. Now then, I've got an old friend here who would like to say hello. Returning fully for the first time in 2,000 years! Planning to set right everything that's gone wrong, we have! The one, and only..." He turned to look at the stairs and whispered, just loud enough for the others there to hear. "Rainbow of Light."
With these words, light all the colors of the rainbow shone from the doorway. But this was not the same kind of light as had come from Queen Eos's arrival. It was soft and warm, like sunlight trickling through the leaves of a tree onto a sleeper's face. Like silver moonbeams falling through the window and driving away the terrors of the night. Like the tight embrace of a friend you had not seen in many years. To Rarity, the only one of the original group left to have faced Nightmare Moon, it had the exact same feeling as when she and the others had all used the Elements of Harmony.
Then the light coalesced into a form that made them all gasp, Ditzy dropping back to the floor in her shock. "Rainbow Dash?"
The Pegasus was taller. Not as tall as Eos but as tall as Princess Celestia. Her coat shone as bright as a clear blue sky, little sparks of magical energy dancing over her like miniature lightning. Her mane and tail reminded them all instantly of Princess Celestia's, floating ethereally of their own accord, only in Rainbow Dash's shockingly bright hues. The cloud in her cutie mark was gone, and the rainbow in it had grown and encompassed all the colors of the rainbow it had been lacking. Finally, she wore armor like Nightmare Moon had worn, yet not midnight blue but prismatic, its colors shifting with every movement she made.
At the sound of Ditzy's voice, Rainbow Dash looked to her and smiled. "The one and only. Hang tight, I'll take care of this Twilight Sparkle in 10 seconds flat." To Eos she turned and advanced, her smile turning to a scowl as she passed her group of friends. "It's just you and me, Eos."
"NO, RAINBOW DASH. IT'S JUST ME!" Eos matched Rainbow Dash step for step, the wall to her left and right crumbling to dust as she advanced. Her wings flared out, still sky-blue, their tips grazing the walls before they crumbled. "IT WAS THE MAGIC I TOOK FROM YOU THAT MADE ALL THIS POSSIBLE. NOW I SHALL TAKE THE REST AND BECOME A TRUE GODDESS."
Rainbow Dash snorted and spread her own wings wide. Their tips had changed from blue to all the colors of the rainbow. "You want my magic that bad? Come and take it then! All of it!"
Ditzy made to lunge at Rainbow Dash, before Doctor Whoof grabbed her by the shoulder. "I wouldn't do that! Something like what's about to happen could fry even a Princess's brain."
Ditzy struggled to escape the brown earth pony's hold. "But Doctor-"
"Ditzy, listen," Doctor Whoof said, watching as tendrils of black energy streamed from Eos's horn and attached to Rainbow Dash. "It's all part of the plan, trust me. When we were getting ready for this, Dash told me about when Twilight removed the illusion spell from her. It took away most of her magic too, as well as copied a great deal of her MEMORIES." Doctor Whoof nodded as pulses of rainbow light began to stream down the magic tendrils into Eos. "Trixie told us all that the knights went bad because all that power took away their perspective. So Rainbow's giving Eos a new perspective, heh."
"Her own," Rarity mumbled in realization. Doctor Whoof grinned and nodded her way. Rarity smiled back. "I guess this time it paid off for you and Dash to be unfashionably late."
A sudden cry drew all their attentions back to Rainbow Dash and Eos. Rainbow Dash had fallen to her knees, a pained look of concentration on her face even while the brightness of her colors faded away. Eos had a similar look of struggle in her features, but as they watched it lessened more and more, a look of triumph replacing it.
Ditzy screamed and looked back at Doctor Whoof. "She's losing! Doctor, we have to help her, please!"
"I-I, she..." Doctor Whoof watched the two god-like entities with mounting panic. "She's trying, she's trying so hard to save her friend, but it's not enough! She's too young, too inexperienced, there's just not enough experience to affect Eos!" He squeezed his eyes shut, loosening his grip on Ditzy as he did. "I'm thinking I'm thinking, I'm-I don't know what to do!"
Rarity and Big Mac held each other close as the struggle before them grew more and more in Eos's favor. Ditzy watched her closest friend, the one mare in the world she would ever entrust her daughter Dinky to if something happened to her, struggle for all their lives. It was at this thought of Dinky that Ditzy Doo knew what she had to do. She turned to look at Doctor Whoof. "Hey, I'm sorry."
He frowned. "What-"
Before he could say any more Ditzy twisted and broke from his hold. Not sparing him, Big Mac, or Rarity another look, for fear that she would be unable to look away, Ditzy leapt into the air and shot at Rainbow Dash and Eos. "Ditzy no! It will fry your mind!" Screams and shouts for her to stop were ignored, Ditzy's eyes focused only on the job ahead of her.
In the moments before she connected with the tendrils of magic connecting Rainbow Dash and Eos, an image came to her mind of her little daughter Dinky, laughing softly as she chased around a butterfly. A smile came to Ditzy, and her eyes grew wet with tears. "I love you, my little muffin.
Ditzy rammed her head into one of the tendrils, and the whole world exploded into light.
"Nnngh..." Rainbow Dash groaned and opened her eyes. She found herself sprawled out on the broken floor of the throne room, back in her normal form and very, very sore. Several feet away in front of her she saw Twilight Sparkle on her side, not moving. And closer, a bit to her right, Rainbow Dash saw another collapsed form, with a grey coat and yellow mane and tail. "Ditzy?"
Rainbow Dash looked behind her, blinking as Rarity, Big Mac, and Doctor Whoof ran to her side. She groaned and struggled to her hooves, before letting out a yelp as Rarity nearly tackled her to the ground in the ivory Unicorn's rush to hug her. "Oh darling, you were magnificent! Just magnificent!"
Rainbow Dash returned Rarity's hug, looking past her to Big Mac. Doctor Whoof had gone past them, to Ditzy's side. "I did it? I really stopped Eos?"
Big Mac nodded. "Eyup. That was quite the light show you managed to put on."
"Well, I try." Rainbow Dash smiled, and then gently pulled Rarity off of her. She wiped away at the tears that had been falling down Rarity's face. "Hey, I'm okay, okay? Come on Rarity, don't get all soft on me."
"Oh, darling..." Rarity sniffled, daintily wiped a hoof beneath her eyes, and then grabbed hold of Rainbow Dash around the shoulders and began to shake her. "If you ever get me so worried about a friend again, I will have you model for an entire year's worth of dress, you understand?!" Rainbow Dash nodded and Rarity let go. "Good."
"Right..." The sound of humming caught Rainbow Dash's attention. She turned to where Doctor Whoof kneeled by Ditzy's prone form and waving his sonic screwdriver over her. Rainbow Dash frowned and hurried over. "Hey doc, everything's kinda fuzzy after Twilight...Eos...whatever, after she started doing her magic steal thing. What happened to Ditzy?"
"Hm? Nothing, nothing at all okay that's a lie. She saw you were struggling and jumped in to help." Doctor Whoof stopped scanning and slid the sonic screwdriver back into his jacket, before lifting Ditzy up into a sitting position. "Come on Ditzy, you brave idiot. Wake up and say something, anything!"
A groan came from Ditzy. Rainbow Dash edged forward, taking one of her fellow Pegasus's hooves in her own and smiling as those honey-yellow eyes opened. Her smile vanished when she saw that those eyes looked in completely different direction. "Ditzy?"
"Mnngh, butterscotch sundaes clopping in the sky..." Ditzy blinked and shook her head, sitting up straighter in Doctor Whoof's arms. "Muffin slams down the pipe? Lightshow break away licor...licor...Rainbow Dash?"
"I'm here," Rainbow Dash said. She pulled Ditzy from Doctor Whoof's hold into a hug of her own, nuzzling against her muzzle. "I'm here, I'm all right. Whatever you did, whatever happened, you saved all of us."
"That's...muffin to hike." Ditzy smiled and returned Rainbow Dash's hug.
Rainbow Dash and the others looked up. Twilight Sparkle was stirring, opening her eyes and struggling to her hooves. When she looked over at them she stumbled and backed away, tears forming in her eyes. "I-I'm sorry, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Doctor Whoof, Big Mac, Ditzy, I'm sorry." Rarity took a step forward and Twilight screamed, backing away. "I'm sorry! Please, please I'm sorry!"
Rainbow Dash helped Ditzy to her hooves, before turning back to Twilight and stepping towards her. "Twilight Sparkle."
"I'm sorry..." Twilight hung her head, looking from Rainbow Dash to where Trixie's body lay. The tears began dropping from her eyes to the floor. "She failed. I made her, and Spike, fail. I've ruined everything."
"Not quite everything, my loyal student."
A burst of sunlight shone in through the remains of the east wall to Rainbow Dash's left, quickly forming into Princess Celestia and Princess Luna. Princess Celestia had one wing in a sling, and the top third of her horn was missing, but otherwise she seemed as radiant as ever. Immediately the group dropped down into bows, all except for Twilight Sparkle. She blanched and fell to her knees, quivering as the two princess sisters approached her. "How...how can you call me your loyal student? I attacked you, I set fire to Canterlot, I released Tirek and the Six Knights, I..." Twilight gulped, looking from Celestia to the stone-faced Luna, and then to the nearby body of Trixie. "I killed your sister's own student."
The look on Celestia's face grew sad, and she leaned down to gently nuzzle Twilight's cheek. "Oh Twilight, I can call you that because I love you, and because once again you put more weight on your shoulders than you deserve. You did not take your sister's life, she gave it willingly, as I would do in a moment for my own younger sister. As for attacking me, I will admit my own error for that. I should have talked to you, let you agree to having the magic of your ancestors that had been increasingly influencing you siphoned away, instead of springing it like a trap. And as for setting fire to Canterlot...I will be honest, much was lost that night. Penance will have to be made, someday."
Twilight nodded, and then looked up at Celestia. "But what of the Knights of Equestria?"
Here Celestia stepped back, and Luna stepped forward. Rainbow Dash and the other ponies joined Twilight's side as Luna addressed them all. "The release of the Knights of Equestria was a terrible event that has cost us..." Luna's gaze went for the barest second to Trixie's body. "Cost us all too much. But it has also revealed something even worse. That Tirek was not sealed with them."
The six ponies gasped. The color left Rainbow Dash's face and she took a half-step forward. "But how in the hay is that possible?! Trixie told us all you sealed those knights in with Tirek!"
"Yes," Luna nodded. "And so when Twilight unsealed the knights, you all would have been instantly obliterated by Tirek if he had been here. But you weren't, and he wasn't. I suspect that Tirek was gone long before any of this ever happened."
"The fires," mumbled Doctor Whoof. He looked up at Luna as if for confirmation. "I always thought it was something other than Yellow Jacket."
"Your intuition served you well." For the first time since either princess had arrived, Luna smiled. It was small and weak, but a smile all the same. "And it shall continue serving all of you well. For with the renewed threat of Tirek, a new order of protectors must arise, granted the power of the old order."
Luna's horn lit up, and from the sky above descended six orbs of light to the group. Twilight's eyes widened in understanding. "The power of the Knights of Equestria."
The glow from Luna's horn strengthened, and the orbs separated, going to different ponies. "To Doctor Whoof I grant the element of Wonder, from the knight Onyx Rose." The orb of black light descended onto Doctor Whoof and formed a metal bracer on his left foreleg. "To Big MacIntosh I grant the element of Perseverance, from the knight Garnetia." The red orb formed a metal bracer on Big Mac's left foreleg. "To Rarity I grant the element of Diligence, from the knight Frosty Carnation. To Ditzy Doo I grant the element of Sincerity, from the knight Ryanus Zane. To Rainbow Dash, incarnation of the Rainbow of Light, I grant the element of Love, from the knight Agape. And to Twilight Sparkle..."
Here Luna stopped and focused on Twilight exclusively. Their eyes met, and Twilight shivered at what she found. "I had hoped to give this element to my student, your sister. But you will have to do. And it is a fitting element for all that you have done. My sister may not punish you, but I do. The punishment is life. For the rest of your existence, no matter where you go or what you do, you shall remember every single second of all that has happened here. You will bear this..." The purple light descended onto Twilight, forming not a bracer but a cloak and hood. "The element of Justice."
Luna backed away, joining Celestia's side. Together they looked on as the six ponies before them bowed. Then, as behind the two sisters the sun crested over the mountains and bathed them all in light, the pair of Alicorns reared up and flared their wings.
"Rise, Knights of Equestria!"
Credits Music: Stand My Ground (by Within Temptation)
Rainbow Dash--Ashleigh Ball
Twilight Sparkle--Tara Strong
Doctor Whoof--Matt Smith
Rarity--Tabitha St. Germain
Big Mac--Peter New
Pinkie Pie--Andrea Libman
Yellow Jacket--Dante Basco
Princess Celestia--Nicole Oliver
Princess Luna--Tabitha St. Germain
Sweetie Belle--Claire Corlett
Apple Bloom--Michelle Creber
Tirek/the Magicahedron--Frank Welker
Fluttershy opened her eyes. Early dawn light streamed through the windows above her bed, lighting the guest room up in a fiery glow. To her left at the bed's side sat Applejack, asleep in her chair, her hat fallen off her head to the wood floor.
Fluttershy rolled out of bed, ignoring as her beaten body screamed in protest at the movement. She staggered her way past Applejack to the desk on the other side of the room, being sure to stomp down on the Stetson as she passed it. The sunlight warmed Fluttershy as she passed through it, making her feel itchy beneath the bandages covering her. She stopped at the desk and looked at herself in the mirror.
Minutes passed with the only sound being Applejack's snoring. Fluttershy continued to look at herself in the mirror, until the door to her left opened and Pinkamena Dianne Pie stepped inside. The dull pink pony's mane fell in straight lines around her face, doing little to hide the vicious smirk stretching her lips. "Good, you're awake. I was getting tired of waiting."
"If I had known that, I would have made you wait longer." Fluttershy turned from the mirror and took the object Pinkamena held out to her. She slipped the rusty metal necklace around her neck and watched as a black jewel in the shape of a butterfly formed on the front. "Life is pain," Fluttershy whispered. "And any amount of kindness is simply the setup for the joke that is cruelty."
"Everypony is laughing and smiling at the joke. All smiles." From a saddle on her back Pinkamena took out a carving knife, gleaming clean and freshly sharpened. She looked past Fluttershy to Applejack, only just beginning to show signs of waking up. "Let's carve those smiles off their faces."